HERE, my dear Sir, have I finished my rapid excursion, and marked each part of it with the impression, whether of sentiment or imagination, with which every object struck me, as I passed along. That I have rendered back every impression whilst warm, and, if I may so express it, whilst perfectly alive, I flatter myself, I need not tell you. But I cannot help reflecting, that I may appear to have run over so considerable a tract of country, with as much political indifference, as if I had affected the character of a citizen of the world; to which, however, I pretend no farther, than the rights of humanity oblige me. No: I boast myself an Englishman, amidst all the misfortunes and disgraces of my country. Nor have I hurried up and down Europe, with so total an inattention to its political aspects, as not to have observed some prevalent circumstances, some ruling points of character, particularly in the nations combined against us, which, compared with our own characteristics, forbid me to despair. I confess the lion of England had been lulled too long by that splendid fortune, which, from the late peace, to the present war, has so deeply wounded the jealousy of Europe; and, at length, provoked the revenge of a high and mighty republic, and two great monarchies. But, has this triple league, with all its efforts or successes, brought us to the term of our prosperity? Shall England no more lift up her head among the nations? I do not, I say, despair. Since the opportunity I have had of comparing both our political and civil temper, with that of our enemies, hath convinced me of our being so far from disadvantageously opposed to them in these respects, that I am persuaded, were the measures of our ministers once to inspire such confidence and union, as to bring our discriminative qualities and advantages to their natural operation, some strange reverse would yet dissipate that awful cloud, which hangs over our country. May we found no hope on our natural impatience, and love of change? or on those fits of enthusiasm, to which we are sometimes wrought up by accidental causes? These qualities and affections seem as inherent in Englishmen, as frigidity, heaviness, and phlegm in the people of Holland; and as naturally dispose men to action, as the others do to rest. Will not our national generosity, that liberal spirit of contribution, which the ministers of England have hitherto found inexhaustible, produce better effects than may be expected from the mercantile parsimony of the Dutch? Does not our constitution, with all the impediments which a discontented party can at any time hang on the wheels of government, admit a dispatch and vigour, of which the complicated machine of Dutch polity is utterly incapable? Again, are we never to derive any advantage from our unyielding perseverance, sobriety, and strength of spirit, in either fortune; when thrown into the balance against that extreme levity, or dejection, which success on one hand, and misfortune on the other, never fails to produce in the French? Have I not observed too, that universal spirit of philosophy, which was opening the eyes of France to liberty and the rights of mankind, beginning visibly to decline; a spirit, which, perhaps, boded worse to England, than all the ambition, or resources, of this potent neighbour? Her ruling powers are evidently afraid that its influence should go farther than they meant. It has eradicated superstition, and restrained intolerance. Its business is done. By a few steps more it had produced jealousy and alarm; if it were not sufficiently advanced, to have done it already. The wits of France, probably, paid a much sincerer tribute, than her politicians, in their grief for the death of Voltaire. By the operation of some secret encouragement, we now see the Encyclopedie gently giving way to the Bibliotheque des Romans, and Tressan's Extraits de Chevalerie; which are rising every day into consideration and importance, under the fostering wing of fashion. Had France learnt a more general application of her philosophy, the power of the people would have undoubtedly increased, but probably at the monarch's expence; much more, however, had it increased at the expence of her envied rival, Great Britain. Let her then be as obedient as she will to her Grand Monarque; but, if reason should once become her sovereign, we should have tenfold more cause to fear her, than at present.
The slow and pompous march of the Spaniard, which way soever he moves, or toward whatever object; a vain parade, much more than real effect, of naval or military force; his inexperience and inability, the inevitable consequences of long cessation from war; his indigence, which a senseless pride of nobility, and contempt of useful industry, when once rooted in a country, never fail to engender; are marks of character so diametrically opposed to the substantial bravery and activity; the warlike habits, naval strength, and adroitness; and, above all, to the rich resources of the agriculture, arts, and commerce of his enemies; that I cannot help presaging, some material advantages to England, must result from the contest of national characters, so different; and of which, the common sense of mankind has ever decidedly preferred our own.
Nothing can more strongly evince the prodigious superiority of England, above any of her enemies taken singly, than her firm and unremitted resistance to so many united; and that too, whilst more than half the natural advantages of her character and circumstances have, by some strange fatality, been prevented from operating in her favour.
The result of this comparative survey of England, France, Spain, and Holland, will not suffer us to despair, that we may end this unhappy contest, without much more injury, upon the whole, than our enemies themselves must sustain. I shall not pursue the parallel betwixt England and her adversaries any further, as the state of war under which I have travelled through them, has prevented so familiar an inspection into a thousand particulars, as is necessary to judge with clearness, and impartiality. But I will endeavour to gratify the curiosity you express, to know under what views, and with what results, I have compared our own country with others which I have visited, and with which we have happily no quarrel. The actual state of their agriculture, manufactures, or commerce; together with that of their fine arts, chiefly engaged my attention; but I do not mean to give you an account of each of these objects, under the several countries that made part of my tour; but of one, or more of them, according to the different pretensions of each nation. With respect to Flanders, particularly the Austrian part of it, I need not say, that neither manufactures, nor commerce, form any longer its characteristics. It is long since the fleece of England and of Andalusia employed the looms of Antwerp and Bruges: the manufactures of brilliant tissues, and tapestries, formed of wool, silk, and gold, which once drew wealth and splendor into these cities, would be lost arts, but for the imitations to which they have given rise at the Gobelins. For their exquisite skill in thread laces, the Flemings may still challenge the world. The noble canals, which intersect their country, (the first works of their kind in Europe) may be considered as monuments of their antient commerce. Though the trade and manufactures of Flanders are, at present, inconsiderable; yet, it cannot be denied, that agriculture appears in a very flourishing state; and, what is much to the credit of government, that the mass of the people seem to be as much at their ease, as those of any country in Europe. The poor are no where better fed, better cloathed, or better lodged. The meanest habitations are neat, and chearful, both within, and without; and their tenants carry all an air of contentment. I saw nothing in their villages of that singular raggedness and dejection, which, in some other countries, tell a reproachful tale of oppression and bad police on one part and of despondency and wretchedness on the other. Will my own country here stand the comparison, without a blush? – When I say, that her agriculture is not less flourishing, nor less skilfully managed than that of Flanders; and that her manufacture, and commerce have, in some measure, bid defiance to war; what shall I say to that extensive poverty and wretchedness, which the evil genius of our own country seems to delight in contrasting with our opulence and prosperity? The philosopher, or politician, may search for the cause of this phenomenon; but the most hasty traveller, with his eyes open, will want no proof of its existence. With respect to the fine arts, and particularly Painting, in which Flanders once boasted her school; it is enough to say, that, whatever be the cause of it, she no longer supports any pretensions to them, worth particular consideration.
The standing armies of Germany present a striking appearance to a traveller, who finds the whole country, nevertheless, wrapt in profound peace, from one end to the other. Almost every sovereign prince, (and countless is the number of sovereign princes in Germany) has his battalions drawn out in long array before his palace, with as much order as the parallel rows of beech, or poplar, that form the avenues which conduct us to his capital. But what does all this mean, was I continually asking myself at every post, as I passed through some new dominion? Is there still some unknown continent, for the conquest of which these numerous hosts are by and by to unite? The days of crusading are long gone by; and indeed, into so consumptive a state, are fallen the monastic institutions, since the death of the pious Empress, that, shortly, there will not be left a hermit to preach them. For what purpose then is kept on foot all this armed force, who have turned their plough-shares into swords, and are devouring the fruits of the earth, instead of contributing, as formerly, to their more plentiful production? Is it not possible, they may one day prove an army of locusts, and more than threaten this fair region with famine? A celebrated annalist, from his observation of this phenomenon, has boldly concluded, "that Germany is on the eve of undergoing a change, which, three ages ago, has taken place around her; that she is labouring every instant to accelerate that moment, when the feudal system, which still enervates her, shall disappear before one real monarchy, under which her lay princes will become peers of the imperial court, and her ecclesiastical, the chaplains." Were there only one considerable power in Germany, M. Linguet's conjecture would wear the appearance of greater probability. But, that not being the fact, (another, of greater force, and in a very flourishing state, being established there, jealous and watchful of every motion on the part of that power from whom the politician supposes the change will come) it will admit of much doubt, whether the abolition of the remains of the feudal system in Germany be at all in contemplation. Nothing, however, is likely to effect such an alteration, but, either, a perfect agreement, or, an absolute rupture, betwixt the two rival powers. In the first case, the business might perhaps be managed by the fashionable method of partition; but the result would be different from that which the Annalist supposes, and two monarchies, instead of one, would be fixed on the ruins of the petty sovereignties; and still great enough would either of them be, for the tranquillity of Europe. In the case of an absolute rupture betwixt the rival states, on account of the leading object alluded to, it is most probable, that without a greater disparity of forces, than at present subsists, neither party, at the end of the contest, would find itself so superior to the other, as to bring the little powers under its own dominion; so that at last, the grand point could be no otherwise accomplished, than by partition; and the result will be the same as before. After all, it seems impossible to determine, without more data, that the martial aspect of Germany indicates any such project as has been intimated above. If, however, it should be granted; it will by no means follow, that no other end is proposed. The motives for establishments of such expence, military establishments too, which are ever regarded with an eye of jealousy and distrust, may possibly be many and important. If I may be allowed a conjecture upon this occasion, I should not hesitate to assign, as a principal one, the increase of infidelity and extreme dissolution of modern manners, caused by the Encyclopedic philosophy. The disregard of sanctions, which were wont to influence human conduct, makes the use of other means requisite for that purpose; or civil society must be dissolved. What means, at once cries every sovereign, great or little, so effective, so cogent, so compendious, as the sword? what more conducive to our own dignity, splendor, or security, than military government? I know not whether, in my representation of this matter, I have not given the cause and effect each other's place. The philosophy, as it is called, of the Encyclopedie has, doubtless, contributed abundantly to the relaxation of our old obligations, and the licentiousness of manners; so that the suspension of the sword over the head of civil society, has some appearance of being naturally introduced, in consequence of things being in such a state. But, may not the ambition of princes, (which thus very decently steps in with its military apparatus, as if almost appealed to, for the prevention of anarchy and confusion) have been the first moving principle of the whole mischief? and is it not possible, that the love of empire first nursed that philosophic spirit, whose evident tendency, if not design, has been, to strike at the foundations of religion, the grand rule of mankind, in order to make necessary the more immediate rule of the sovereign's sword. The sword, perhaps, may teach mankind better political manners, as far as the sovereign's immediate happiness is concerned, than the gown. But the social conduct of citizen towards citizen, will be much better taught by the free discussion, and candid injunctions, of religious and moral duties, than by the narrow decrees of a despot's will, forced upon slaves, under the terror of the sword. The feudal system, as formerly conditioned, when its thousand little sovereignties knew their respective privileges and interests no better than to be ever at variance, was undoubtedly a very unhappy situation. The present state of Germany, with all its remains of feudality, presents no such gloomy, political aspect; and it may well be questioned, whether the general happiness of the empire would be better provided for, under the abolition of them, than it is at present. Probably, it would not; when we consider how the jealousy of Europe would be excited by such an event; and, perhaps, the Germans themselves, from the Emperor to the lowest Baron, may be sufficiently convinced of it, neither to wish on his part, nor to dread on theirs, so momentous a change. If this be a true state of the case, whatever other motives there may have been for the enormous military establishments, in these countries; the principal ones, more probably, regard internal government, than either conquest, or defence. Such, at least, are the ideas, which the martial appearance of Germany has suggested to myself; and, I hope, on bringing it home to a comparison with my own country, I have some reason to flatter myself, that, amongst all the untoward circumstances which cloud our political horizon, there are none that bode so ill to the civil liberties of England, as do the standing armies in a time of peace, to those of Germany. After all, it is, with respect to Germany, a very surprising circumstance, that split, as she still is, into electorships, dukedoms, bishopricks, abbacies, landgravates, and baronies, imperial, and hanse towns; computed in all to amount to no less than three hundred distinct sovereignties; sovereignties, too, which owe their origin to a total change in the German constitution; effected by the Popes, in order to lessen the Imperial power, and render the empire elective: it is, I say, a surprising circumstance, that a body, consisting of so many heterogeneous members, each claiming independency within itself, should have braved the political storms of so many ages, and have preserved a form, which, according to all analogy, seems so ill calculated for duration. To develope the causes of so singular a circumstance, you will easily imagine to have made no part of the plan of a hasty traveller; as an object of such extent, would require the minutest investigation, during a long residence in the country; but, whatever they be, I doubt not they would, on discovery, be found such, as to reflect honour on the national character of the Germans.
Many nations surpass Swisserland in riches, splendor, and magnificence; but, in most of those attributes which form the solid basis of civil happiness, it may fairly be questioned, whether she may not dispute the palm with any country in Europe. Liberty, patriotism, toleration, economy, justice, and simplicity of manners, unite to characterise the respectable states, which constitute the Helvetic body. We read their antient love of liberty, in the noble assertions of it, against their surrounding tyrants, the Dukes of Burgundy and Savoy; the Emperor of Germany, and other potentates; of whose disgraces in the contest their annals are full. Nor does their zeal for liberty at this day, want its antient warmth. Their free forms of government are all jealously guarded, and invariably maintained. The patriotism of the Swiss is eminently displayed in the numerous projects of individuals for the improvement of their country, and, in the encouragement they continually meet with in their societies of agriculture and commerce; in the admirable establishment and regulation of their militia; not to mention their great public works of roads and bridges, to facilitate the communication of the inhabitants through their country of mountains, rivers, and lakes. The liberal spirit of toleration appears no where to greater advantage, than in the constant example of mutual indulgence and concession, and that political harmony resulting from them, exhibited in the cordial confederacy of the Catholic and Protestant states; at the same time that both are attached to their different forms of worship, with as much zeal and sincerity, as any people in Europe.
Their public economy is manifested by the means they use to keep the balance of trade in their own favour. As their woollen and linen manufactures, though considerable, are not able to supply their necessities, without importation, they strictly prohibit, within themselves, the use of those ornaments of gold, of silver lace, and jewellery, in the manufacture of which they excel. The exportation of these articles, much more than pays the cloathing they are obliged to import. The abundance of cattle from their pastures, allows them an overplus for foreign markets; at least, sufficient to answer the importation of corn, of which article, notwithstanding their industry and improvements in tillage, their scanty pittance of arable land does not produce them enough for their common consumption. On the subject of Swiss economy, should not be forgotten their sumptuary laws, their general police, their establishment of public magazines of corn, their wise provisions for the poor, and many other economical regulations; which seem better understood, or at least better executed, in this country, than in others. The primitive simplicity of living, and pastoral habits of the mountainous cantons; the discouragements of luxury, gaming, and ostentation in the rest, arising from the spirit of equality, natural to republics; the want of foreign territory, from whence to draw too copious an influx of wealth; and of those enlarged scenes of commerce, which maritime situations alone can open to a country; conspire to keep the state of property, whether in houses, or lands, much more fixt in Swisserland, than in other nations. It is needless to infer from this circumstance, that the law, finding little to devour, or to feed upon, will not thrive in such a situation; that the points of contention, being few and unimportant, will be left chiefly to the decisions of natural equity, and that justice will consequently have place among the characteristics of the Swiss.

O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint!

And I know not whether it be not due to this people, to number among their other good qualities, the consciousness of their own happiness. The wise provisions they have, hitherto, made for its preservation, give us no small reason for so honourable a supposition in their behalf. They seem well aware, that their first political interest is to observe a strict neutrality in the quarrels of their neighbours; and to live in perfect peace with them all. These valuable advantages can be no way secured to them, but by their own concord and prudence.
Another interesting object is, their military service. It is of great importance to the security of the Helvetic confederacy, that fortitude and bravery be not extinguished, among the people who compose it; and, since the science of tactics, unhappily so necessary, has undergone such mighty improvements, it much imports the Swiss to be instructed in the new maneuvres of the military art. It is under this point of view, and that of forming auxiliary connections with the great powers, that the cantons consider the mercenary service. Without these considerations, the treaties which regulate the conditions of that service, would be more indifferent to the confederacy, than to individuals, who devote themselves to the profession of arms. If the luxury introduced among the military, no longer allows Swisserland to derive all the advantages she might promise herself from a military school, kept up at the expence of foreign powers; yet, her mercenary service, now rendered permanent under the regulation of fixed rules, will no more expose her states to the same fermentations, or the same corruption, of which certain epochs of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries offered some melancholy instances. If this country can find but means to prevent that taste of luxury and refinement, which her officers in foreign service have unfortunately contracted, from spreading into other ranks; if the heights of the Jura could prove a barrier against the contagious politeness of their western neighbours; it might long continue to be, what it still is, the happiest in Europe. I have ventured, in talking of the other countries I have seen, to draw some parallel betwixt them and our own; and shall I confess to you, that I should probably have abstained from it, had I not been convinced, that I could allow her some advantages over them, without risquing any question of my impartiality? Suppose now, in attempting a comparison betwixt Great Britain and Helvetia, I were to pronounce the former infinitely more wealthy, more magnificent, more powerful, it would be saying little, if I must be silent on her political wisdom, or national happiness; or could I, at best, but affirm, that whilst we flourish in our conversation, or in our books, on these important articles, the Swiss, despising insignificant parade, practice the one, and feel the other. In the cursory retrospect I am making of the countries I have travelled through, it being my plan to attend only to such objects as characterise them, in Italy, I must chiefly confine my reflections to their genius for the management of affairs; to their manners; and to their fine arts. The people of this country having always supported pretensions to superior sagacity and address in political arrangements, and a talent for what is called business; I caught all opportunities of observing them in this point of view. It is at Rome, that one sees this character more frequently, and more conspicuously displayed, than in all the other states together; I shall therefore select the Roman for a portrait of the dextrous man of affairs; and may safely leave the Venetian, the Tuscan, the Neapolitan, or citizen of any other Italian state, in the same predicament (though the features will not be so strongly marked) to be discovered by his family likeness. Dissimulation and secrecy, joined with address to take advantage of any false step in a competitor; intrigues to gain his confidence, and dexterity in using the acquisition, to supplant him; lying à propos to improve a fair occasion; ever affecting an air of business, in the very center of idleness and dissipation; an ostentatious display of one's own credit; a readiness to promise magnificently; an officious intrusion into all affairs that present themselves; and a constant solicitude to impress a great idea of one's own importance; these qualities and practices united, form the principal springs of a policy, so much boasted of for ages, that the court of Rome was considered as the school of the most able and subtle ministers, who have figured in Europe.
Religion, in Italy, being nearly reduced to a shell, the fruit of which has long been given up to nations better disposed to taste its value, and consequently having little or nothing left but exterior, demands no particular consideration apart from the Italian manners; and to them it certainly gives a very strong tincture; their ceremonious practice of it throwing a deep shade of decency and solemnity over their ordinary conduct, and serving, in the eye of the world, as a useful contrast to their natural vivacity, and to irregularities springing from their warmth of temperament. Of their civil morality, if I may so express it, as professedly distinguished from religion, one may judge with tolerable certainty, if we admit this general principle, that to be, and to appear, are two things absolutely different; and that it is seldom men of the world are not obliged, for their own advantage, to shew themselves different from what they really are. From this sort of obligation will result imposing appearances, dissimulation, cunning, and all such dispositions and habits, as are best calculated to conceal the real character, and support the counterfeit. These being admitted as fundamental principles of conduct in the world, we may judge of their influence upon a people accustomed to intrigue, supple and artificial, acquainted with few necessities more powerful than the calls of vanity, and who, to gratify them, are habituated to give, without remorse, into any means that present themselves; and that, commonly, under the mask of benevolence; or, at least, under a very seducing air of politeness. It is observable, however, that when the Italians have to deal with each other, they know pretty well how far their own assurances and pretences will go; and what credit to give to those they mutually receive. Now, it will be easily imagined, that the practice of dissembling their sentiments, and of continually holding a language that has little to do with their thoughts, must reduce those who, nevertheless, wish to display their wit and parts in conversation, to the necessity of talking much, without saying any thing, and of exhausting the chapter of indifferent trifles, and general observations. This every foreigner must have remarked, particularly at Rome; and cannot but have attributed to it the pompous insipidity of their conversations. Any one, the least used to them, foresees nearly what every man will say, that enters the room. This poverty of conversation, amidst a great deal of talking, is the most striking in those who have rank to support it, and who have their constant assemblies, on certain fixed days. What makes all this the more provoking to a stranger is, that these persons are so far from wanting wit, or talents, that they fall into these habits from having too much of them. The reason is, as already intimated, that every man must have his pretensions; will seem deeply informed of public affairs; and would not, for the world, but appear to labour under a load of importance. This affectation of consequence, marks, in general, the higher orders of society. One of the characteristics of the middle and lower ranks, is their inattention to domestic economy, and their resolution of enjoying, at all events, the present hour; with little regard either to past, or future considerations. This humour is wonderfully encouraged by the voluptuous softness of the climate, which indisposes both body and mind to much exertion; by the happy fertility of a soil, productive with little labour; and, perhaps, most of all, in the lowest station, by the numerous charitable establishments, with which every city and town in Italy abounds; holding out a sure resource to want, sickness, and old age. But the great nursery of indolence and laziness, in this, as well as all other Catholic countries, are the monastic foundations. The habitual neglect of accumulation, the humour de vivre au jour la journée, naturally slacken that ardour of gain, which constitutes a specific distinction of the mercantile and manufacturing classes, in most other countries, where the parent refuses himself a thousand comforts and accommodations, to lay up fortunes for his children. The true Italian suffers no inconvenience from any such ambition. Indeed another reason co-operates with their disposition to self-enjoyment in this case; which is, the general infidelity to the marriage-bed. This circumstance, destroying all idea of exclusive property in a man's posterity, must greatly abate the natural warmth and activity of parental affection. Hence it is, that a father thinks he has done very handsomely by his children, when he has fed and cloathed them during their infancy and youth; and procured them some talent, by which they can get their own livelihood. People with this way of thinking may get pleasantly enough through the world, from one generation to another, in a country, where the succours and resources above-mentioned, are so frequently to be found; and where, through the felicity of climate, there almost always reigns an abundance, pretty nearly equal. But, from the moment this abundance happens to fail, through some extraordinary intemperature of seasons; or whatever other cause; the Italians are the most miserable people in the world; for there being a certain point, beyond which the established charities can afford no assistance, and that point being generally reached in common times, the majority of those, who, in the case supposed, wish to have recourse to this fund, must necessarily be disappointed; and nothing can then exceed the wretchedness of such individuals, as have made no provision against a moment of scarcity. Travellers who have seen the kingdom of Naples a little before harvest, are astonished at the fertility of the lands, and the richness of their produce; and are unable to conceive how, from this state of abundance, it is possible to fall into such extreme dearth, that the poor perish with hunger. This, however, happened in the year 1749.
There is another mark of character in which the Italians, without the exception of a single state, or that of any rank, or class of people, universally partake; I mean their rage for theatrical spectacles, and indeed every species of public exhibition, or entertainment. This passion they seem to inherit from the antient Romans, and the bequest has lost nothing in their hands. In the fashionable world, the morning is spent in a slovenly dishabille, that prevents their going out, or receiving frequent visits at home. Reading, or work takes up a very small portion of this part of the day; so that it passes away in a yawning sort of nonchalance. People are scarcely wide awake, till about dinner-time. But, a few hours after, the important business of the toilette puts them gently into motion; and, at length, the opera calls them completely into existence. But it must be understood, that the drama, or the music, do not form a principal object of theatrical amusement. Every lady's box is the scene of tea, cards, cavaliers, servants, lap-dogs, abbés, scandal, and assignations; attention to the action of the piece, to the scenes, or even to the actors, male, or female, is but a secondary affair. If there be some actor, or actress, whose merit, or good fortune, happens to demand the universal homage of fashion, there are pauses of silence, and the favourite airs may be heard. But without this cause, or the presence of the sovereign, all is noise, hubbub, and confusion, in an Italian audience. The hour of the theatre, however, with all its mobbing and disturbance, is the happiest part of the day, to every Italian, of whatever station; and the least affluent will sacrifice some portion of his daily bread, rather than not enjoy it. Those who have not one sous, that can possibly be spared (for life is found preferable to theatric diversions) are however not so forlorn as to be cut off from all opportunities of spectacle. Such never fail to attend the pompous ceremonies of the church, the rites and mummeries of the saints, and to swell the shabby consequence of every farthing-candle procession. Politeness, refinement of manners, and the true spirit of society, (although there are many individuals, especially such as have travelled, very highly accomplished in these respects) not making any distinct characteristic of the Italians, I shall forbear to consider them, under this point of view. But, having observed the very opposite qualities to be generally prevalent in one nation of Italy, and that the last in which I should have expected to find it, so the plan I proposed in this letter, requires from me a particular intimation or two, upon the subject.
The Neapolitans, are by most authors, antient and modern, represented as a soft, effeminate, and voluptuous people. Admitting these attributes, we are apt to conclude, that whatever other imperfections they may stand charged with, we shall, at least, be sure to meet with great gentleness, civility, and, even, refinement of manners in such a nation. I paid my first visit to Naples under this prepossession, and was not a little surprized to perceive how ill it was founded. But my wonder ceased, on being convinced, after no long residence, that I had made my conclusion, with the world in general, upon a false hypothesis. Nothing, I will venture to affirm, is less true than that the Neapolitans are soft and effeminate; nor are they even voluptuous, in the more elegant sense in which that word is usually undestood. They are fiery, and sensual, in a high degree, and during the prevalence of the siroc wind, extremely relaxed, and indolent. But, their general tone of character is rough, harsh, and impetuous, even, in higher life; in the lower, gross, barbarous, and violent; choleric and vindictive, in both. What, undiscerning eyes may have mistaken for politeness, is nothing but the habitual cringe of adulation to the iron rod of arbitrary power. But let me do the Neapolitans justice: they want not feeling, nor generosity; and would but the church and the state emancipate them from that superstition and ignorance; which one hath been no less fond than the other, of converting into an engine of power; the Neapolitans, with the genius and sensibility which no person can deny them, would soon become a gallant and respectable nation.
It is an easy transition from the manners to the fine arts of a people; and I know you are growing impatient for my strictures upon the latter. As I by no means am writing you a dissertation, you must not expect me to enter into any discussion of the long-agitated question; whether, when the fine arts have once, in any country, attained their zenith, it be possible for them, during any considerable course of time, to continue in an unaltered state of perfection? My business is only to state with impartiality the matter of fact, as it relates to Italy. You know how it stood with respect to antient Greece and Rome; the only two countries, besides modern Italy, where the fine arts can be said to have grown to maturity. Although modern Italy should be found to resemble her two great ancestors in this matter; yet, from so scanty a number of examples, it would be unphilosophical, perhaps, to attempt the decision: I have, therefore, another good reason for not meddling with it.
Although Constantine removed a great number of the beautiful remains of antiquity from Rome, and other parts of Italy, to adorn his new capital in the East; though the northern barbarians destroyed a considerable part of those he left; and the nonsensical zeal of bigots and devotees led them, in after-times, to mutilate some of the finest models that had escaped the blind fury of the Goths and Huns, Rome was, nevertheless, fortunate enough to have preserved in part, and partly to have discovered, a multitude of inestimable gems, statues, vases, bas-reliefs, and relics of architecture. The Venetians, as the fruit of commerce, or of conquest, brought home many precious monuments from Greece; and the Florentines are obliged to the taste and opulence of the Medicis, for the finest collection of antiques in every kind, that the world ever saw. But Florence, and indeed all Europe, acknowledges a still greater obligation to this family, for having placed these models before the artists of their times; and given the most generous patronage to the successful imitation of them. The eyes of all Italy were soon opened to works of genius, and the fine arts made the most rapid progress towards their antient splendor. Most of the great artists of that age were contented with their near approach to perfection, in producing models, that might be opposed to the antique. Michael Angelo, however, soared still higher; and, perhaps, it may be safely affirmed, that his Moses on the tomb of Julius the Second, has a force and sublimity of expression, beyond any relic of antiquity. Some of his statues, likewise, which adorn the tombs of the Medici, in the church of St. Laurence at Florence, boast the noblest expression. The genius and talents of this wonderful artist, are the more remarkable, inasmuch as most of these statues are not finished. Bandinelli, John of Bologna, and Algardi, have run the same career, with the most conspicuous success. Bernini, in a different stile, less elevated, but always elegant and graceful, is, like them, original in most of his productions. The statue of St. Teresa, in the church of the Vittoria at Rome, is an admirable work, and exhibits every possible charm of expression. Indeed, I know few antique statues which, all considerations being made, can be compared with it.
In the ages of ignorance and barbarity, which preceded that of the Medicis, architecture, at once the most beautiful and useful of the fine arts, seemed totally lost. They, from whom alone its patronage and encouragement were to be expected, employed themselves more in destroying the admirable monuments of antiquity, than in imitating them. The palaces of princes and nobles, were then, for the most part, little else than a confusion of towers, united by strong walls, without symmetry, taste, or idea of architecture. These fortresses were asylums, where violence and rapine secured themselves with impunity, and, indeed, were calculated for nothing better. The antient gothic buildings of the same time, dedicated to the service of religion, were nothing but long, dark, and massive vaults, without the least ornament, or beauty; and the same judgment may safely be formed of all their public buildings, from such remains of them as are still subsisting. But, at the period I am speaking of, architecture revived with the other arts. The Popes, and sovereign princes of Florence, Modena, Mantua, Ferrara, not to mention the nobles of the states of Genoa and Venice, left such superb and beautiful edifices behind them, as will, for ages to come, remain indisputable proofs of their taste for antient architecture. As to works of decoration among the antients, though, perhaps, much cannot with certainty be said of their colouring, we are perfectly acquainted with the beauty of the forms they employed. Their vases still remain the finest models that can be imitated; nor is any thing to be found comparable, in point of form, to their urns. It is needless to mention the exquisite workmanship of their gems, or the elegant capricios of their arabesque ornaments. We read with astonishment what has been written of the perfection of antient painting. It should seem to have been carried to a degree of expression, scarcely imaginable. The famous picture of the sacrifice of Iphigenia, by Timanthes, was a masterpiece of the art. Pliny speaks of it, as a work above all praise; and that, without doubt, on the credit of the Greek authors. It should, however, be remembered, that the Greeks joined to extreme sensibility of beauty, a great propensity to hyperbole; considerable allowance must, therefore, be made, for their representations on this subject. It was long before any antique painting was found, that could give an opportunity of forming any equitable judgment. Under the pontificate of Clement the Eighth, toward the end of the sixteenth century, was at length discovered, in the ruins of the gardens of Mæcenas, a picture representing a marriage, celebrated under the title of the Nôce Aldobrandine, from the name of the Pope. The connoisseurs of the time viewed it with rapture; the antiquaries called it two thousand years old; and, without hesitation, attributed it to the pencil of Apelles. A veneration for antiquity, which then wanted a little philosophical correction, determined them to regard this picture as a wonder of the art, at a time, too, when they had under their eyes the chef d'oeuvres of Raffaelle, Corregio, Titian, and of many other artists; whose most moderate performances were much above this piece. Many of the paintings found at Herculaneum and Pompeii, may very fairly be brought into comparison with this; and yet none of them, in respect of design, colouring, ordonnance, or execution, approach the perfection of the Medicean age, or, even, that of the present. It was from the antient gems, bas-reliefs, statues, and bronzes, that the painters of that age caught their first idea of excellence. They then turned their eyes upon Nature herself; and, soon, raised the art of painting to that pitch of perfection, which it knew not before, and has not known since. Among other arts, music owes its happiest cultivation to Italy; and seems, in the earlier part of the present century, to have arrived at its meridian splendor. We still, however, hear admirable music at Venice. It is there, that the professors and the dilettanti best learn grace, intelligence, and beauty of execution: it is there we still hear the finest voices of Italy. Music, of all the arts is that which maintains itself with the greatest honour in Italy: destined in its origin to celebrate the praises of the Supreme Being, and of the most distinguished of mankind, it is the natural expression of gratitude, contentment, and pleasure; nor can it be easily supposed, though it in some measure shares the corruption of the sister arts, to fall into a disgraceful state of decline, amongst a people so peculiarly sensible of its charms, and famous for their love of spectacles, and feasts, of which music is the soul. Having thus slightly traced out an idea of the revival of the arts in Italy; their resources in the antient models; the high perfection to which painting, sculpture, and architecture attained in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; and music in the earlier part of the eighteenth; I know you will not dispense with my drawing some comparison between their present state in this country, and our own. Nothing occasions greater surprise to every intelligent traveller, than to observe that a country, which, for the space of two hundred years, gave birth to the most consummate painters, sculptors, and architects; and, for a considerable period, to the most accomplished musicians; to find an immense quantity of their most celebrated performances dispersed through that country; and, what is stranger, to see the same taste, and love of the fine arts, prevail among its inhabitants, as formerly distinguished them; and, moreover, no disinclination in its princes, and great men, to patronize, and encourage merit; – yet, be absolutely unable to discover throughout that country, where all its arts are still cultivated, one worthy successor of Raffaelle, Titian, the Caraccis, or Guido; one architect, who treads in the steps of Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Sansovino, or Palladio; one sculptor, possessed either of the ideas, or the execution of Bernini, Algardi, or Conradi. I will not say, that Geminiani, Tartini, and Pergolese were the last of their musicians. There are still living professors of extraordinary talents; but, taking melody and harmony both into an estimate of their merits, I dare venture to assure you, they follow those great masters non passibus æquis.
It was not till the reign of his present majesty, that England discovered her genius for the fine arts. We had produced but one painter in history, in any former reign, whose name is not now forgotten; and the most distinguished of those who flattered the national vanity in portrait-painting, were foreigners. What we had done in sculpture, or architecture, on the Grecian models, shews neither taste, nor intelligence. Music was little more than dry counterpoint; without air, or grace. The arts, after their decline in Italy, seemed long wavering where to fix their feat. The French made attempts to allure them, in the last century, without much success. If, however, they have done little worth admiration, in the four great arts, designed under the name of the fine arts, it is but justice to allow, that no nation hath exceeded the French in the manufactures of silk and tapestry, as well as in all those minute ornaments that can contribute to the finery of dress. Every species of trinketry that can give éclat to a lady's toilette, or consequence to the person of a petit-maitre, is fabricated at Paris, in the utmost perfection. But my partiality to French taste, is leading me astray.
The solid institution of the English youth in the polite literature of the Greeks and Romans; the improvement of their taste by foreign travel; the unrivalled opulence which Great Britain has derived from her conquests, and commerce, conspiring all together with our native energies; have, under the auspices of an enlightened sovereign, at length raised the fine arts to a degree of consideration and excellence in England, which they have not known, since their restoration under the Medicis, in any part of Europe, Italy excepted. And such is the rapid, I may say, astonishing progress, they have made in our own country, within these last twenty years, that I do not hesitate to declare, from an attentive, and, I hope, impartial comparison of their present state in Italy, and in England, the superiority in favour of my own country. I must beg you, however, to understand, that, in this comparison, music is not included; for Italy, though inferior to what she has been in this charming art, still bears the palm of music, from every other nation. A circumstance in favour of my decision, and not a little to our honour, should be mentioned: – that we have artists at Rome, who, in almost every branch, surpass those of all other nations, now resident there; and that the Pope, and the Roman princes often employ them, in preference to their own. At the same time, I assure you of this as a fact; and, further, that the performances of some of our artists, now at Rome, are consecrated to fame in the Vatican itself; you and all the world know, that we can boast many others at home, still equal to them, and some superior. To enter particularly into the merits of individuals, is a very delicate undertaking; and the public at this day, are too much informed, and too well agreed in their sentiments, to leave me any opportunity of gratifying curiosity on this subject, were I less disposed to decline so invidious a task. But, by this time, I can hardly conceive you to wish for any thing, but the conclusion of so long a letter; and, having exhausted the materials, which the shortness of my tour would allow me to collect, I have only to add, that whatever judgment you may form of the strictures this letter contains, you will not infer from them, that I ran abroad, only to admire other countries, at the expence of my own. I am not conscious of having, on any occasion, overlooked their merits; and, I flatter myself, from a survey of the best countries in Europe, I may justly affirm, that in commerce, arts, and arms, not one of them stands superior to Great Britain.

I am, &c.

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