ON THE CONTINENT (1745-1760)
Lady Mary stays at Avignon—She removes to Brescia—And then to Lovere—She abandons all idea of Montagu joining her abroad—Her house at Lovere—Her daily round—Her health—Her anxiety about her son—An amazing incident—A serious illness—A novel in a letter—Her correspondence attracts the attention of the Italian authorities—Sir James and Lady Frances Steuart—Politics—She is in the bad books of the British Resident at Venice—Lord Bute—The philosophy of Lady Mary—Letters to Lady Bute and Sir James Steuart.
Lady Mary liked Avignon so well that she stayed there until July 1746. Then she moved to Brescia, where she stayed for a year, and then took up her quarters at Lovere, a small place in Lombardy on the Lake d’Iseo, a most attractive spot, as she was at pains to tell her daughter at some length. For some time she alternated between Lovere and Brescia.
“I am now in a place the most beautifully romantic I ever saw in my life: it is the Tunbridge of this part of the world, to which I was sent by the doctor’s order, my ague often returning, notwithstanding the loads of bark I have taken” (she wrote to her daughter from Lovere, July 24, 1747). “To say truth, I have no reason to repent my journey, though I was very unwilling to undertake it, it being forty miles, half by land and half by water; the land so stony I was almost shook to pieces, and I had the ill luck to be surprised with a storm on the lake, that if I had not been near a little port (where I passed a night in a very poor inn), the vessel must have been lost. A fair wind brought me hither next morning early. I found a very good lodging, a great deal of good company, and a village in many respects resembling Tunbridge Wells, not only in the quality of the waters, which is the same, but in the manner of the buildings, most of the houses being separate at little distances, and all built on the sides of hills, which indeed are far different from those of Tunbridge, being six times as high: they are really vast rocks of different figures, covered with green moss, or short grass, diversified by tufts of trees, little woods, and here and there vineyards, but no other cultivation, except gardens like those on Richmond-hill. The whole lake, which is twenty-five miles long, and three broad, is all surrounded with these impassable mountains, the sides of which, towards the bottom, are so thick set with villages (and in most of them gentlemen’s seats), that I do not believe there is anywhere above a mile distance one from another, which adds very much to the beauty of the prospect.