This was a young, a charming, a lively lady of quality; full of curiosity to know the world, and of spirits to bustle through it; but had she been battered through the various societies of London and Paris for eighteen or twenty years together, she would have loved Lucca better, and despised it less. “We must not look for whales in the Euxine Sea,” says an old writer; and we must not look for great men or great things in little nations to be sure, but let us respect the innocence of childhood, and regard with tenderness the territory of Lucca: where no man has been murdered during the life or memory of any of its peaceful inhabitants; where one robbery alone has been committed for sixteen years; and the thief hanged by a Florentine executioner borrowed for the purpose, no Lucchese being able or willing to undertake so horrible an office, with terrifying circumstances of penitence and public reprehension: where the governed are so few in proportion to the governors; all power being circulated among four hundred and fifty nobles, and the whole country producing scarcely ninety thousand souls. A great boarding-school in England is really an infinitely more licentious place; and grosser immoralities are every day connived at in it, than are known to pollute this delicate and curious commonwealth; which keeps a council always subsisting, called the Discoli, to examine the lives and conduct, professions, and even health of their subjects: and once o’year they sweep the town of vagabonds, which till then are caught up and detained in a house of correction, and made to work, if hot disabled by lameness, till the hour of their release and dismission. I wondered there were so few beggars about, but the reason is now apparent: these we see are neighbours, come hither only for the three days gala.
I was wonderfully solicitous to obtain some of their coin, which carries on it the image of no earthly prince; but his head only who came to redeem us from general slavery on the one side, Jesus Christ; on the other, the word Libertas.
Our peasant-girls here are in a new dress to me; no more jewels to be seen, no more pearls; the finery of which so dazzled me in Tuscany: these wenches are prohibited such ornaments it seems. A muslin handkerchief, folded in a most becoming manner, and starched exactly enough to make it wear clean four days, is the head-dress of Lucchese lasses; it is put on turban-wise, and they button their gowns close, with long sleeves a la Savoyarde; but it is made often of a stiff brocaded silk, and green lapels, with cuffs of the same colour; nor do they wear any hats at all, to defend them from a sun which does undoubtedly mature the fig and ripen the vine, but which, by the same excess of power, exalts the venom of the viper, and gives the scorpion means to keep me in perpetual torture for fear of his poison, of which, though they assure us death is seldom the consequence among them, I know his sting would finish me at once, because the gnats at Florence were sufficient to lame me for a considerable time.