That this fairy commonwealth should so long have maintained its independency is strange; but Howel attributes her freedom to the active and industrious spirit of the inhabitants, who, he says, resemble a hive of bees, for order and for diligence. I never did see a place so populous for the size of it: one is actually thronged running up and down the streets of Lucca, though it is a little town enough for a capital city to be sure; larger than Salisbury though, and prettier than Nottingham, the beauties of both which places it unites with all the charms peculiar to itself.
The territory they claim, and of which no power dares attempt to dispossess them, is much about the size of Rutlandshire I fancy; surrounded and apparently fenced in on every side, by the Appenines as by a wall, that wall a hot one, on the southern side, and wholly planted over with vines, while the soft shadows which fall upon the declivity of the mountains make it inexpressibly pretty; and form, by the particular disposition of their light and shadow, a variety which no other prospect so confined can possibly enjoy.
This is the Ilam gardens of Europe; and whoever has seen that singular spot in Derbyshire belonging to Mr. Port, has seen little Lucca in a convex mirror. Some writer calls it a ring upon the finger of the Emperor, under whose protection it has been hitherto preserved safe from the Grand Duke of Tuscany till these days, in which the interests of those two sovereigns, united by intimacy as by blood and resemblance of character, are become almost exactly the same.
A Doge, whom they call the Principe, is elected every two months; and is assisted by ten senators in the administration of justice.
Their armoury is the prettiest plaything I ever yet saw, neatly kept, and capable of furnishing twenty-five thousand men with arms. Their revenues are about equal to the Duke of Bedford’s I believe, eighty or eighty-five thousand pounds sterling a year; every spot of ground belonging to these people being cultivated to the highest pitch of perfection that agriculture, or rather gardening (for one cannot call these enclosures fields), will admit: and though it is holiday time just now, I see no neglect of necessary duty. They were watering away this morning at seven o’clock, just as we do in a nursery-ground about London, a hundred men at once, or more, before they came home to make themselves smart, and go to hear music in their best church, in honour of some saint, I have forgotten who; but he is the patron of Lucca, and cannot be accused of neglecting his charge, that is certain.