We slept no-where, except perhaps in the carriage, between our last residence at Bologna and this delightful city, to which we passed apparently through a new region of the earth, or even air; clambering up mountains covered with snow, and viewing with amazement the little vallies between, where, after quitting the summer season, all glowing with heat and spread into verdure, we found cherry-trees in blossom, oaks and walnuts scarcely beginning to bud. These mountains are however much below those of Savoy for dignity and beauty of appearance, though high enough to be troublesome, and barren enough to be desolate. These Appenines have been called by some the Back Bone of Italy, as Varenius and others style the Mountains of the Moon in Africa, Back Bone of the World; and these, as they do, run in a long chain down the middle of the Peninsula they are placed in; but being rounded at top are supposed to be aquatick, while the Alps, Andes, &c. are of late acknowledged by philosophers to be volcanic, as the most lofty of them terminate in points of granite, wholly devoid of horizontal strata, and without petrifactions contained in them,
Here the tracts around display How impetuous ocean’s sway Once with wasteful fury spread The wild waves o’er each mountain’s head.
But the offspring of fire somehow should be more striking than that of water, however violent might have been the concussion that produced them; and there is no comparison between the sensations felt in passing the Roche Melon, and these more neatly-moulded Appenines; upon whose tops I am told too no lakes have been formed, as on Mount Cenis, or even on Snowdon in North Wales, where a very beautiful lake adorns the summit of the rock; which affords trout precisely such as you eat before you go down to Novalesa, but not so large.
Sir William Hamilton, however, is the man to be referred to in all these matters; no man has examined the peculiar properties and general nature of mountains, those which vomit fire in particular, with half as much application, inspired by half as much genius, as he has done.
We arrived late at our inn, an English one they say it is; and many of the last miles were passed very pleasantly by my maid and myself, in anticipating the comforts we should receive by finding ourselves among our own country folks. In good time! and by once more eating, sleeping, &c. all in the English way, as her phrase is. Accordingly, here are small low beds again, soft and clean, and down pillows; here are currant tarts, which the Italians scorn to touch, but which we are happy and delighted to pay not ten but twenty times their value for, because a currant tart is so much in the English way: and here are beans and bacon in a climate where it is impossible that bacon should be either wholesome or agreeable; and one eats infinitely worse than one did at Milan, Venice, or Bologna: and infinitely dearer too; but that makes it still more completely in the English way.