The dialect has lost much of the guttural sound that hurt one’s ear at the last place of residence; but here is an odd squeaking accent, that distinguishes the Tuscan of Lucca.
The place appropriated for airing, showing fine equipages, &c. is beautiful beyond all telling; from the peculiar shadows on the mountains. They make the bastions of the town their Corso, but none except the nobles can go and drive upon one part of it. I know not how many yards of ground is thus let apart, sacred to sovereignty; but it makes one laugh.
Our inn here is an excellent one, as far as I am concerned; and the sallad-oil green, like Irish usquebaugh, nothing was ever so excellent. I asked the French valet who dresses our hair, “Si ce n’etait pas une republique mignonne?[X]”—“Ma foy, madame, je la trouve plus tot la republique des rats et des souris[Y];” replies the fellow, who had not slept all night, I afterwards understood, for the noise those troublesome animals made in his room.
[Footnote X: If it were not a dear little pretty commonwealth—this?]
[Footnote Y: Faith, madam, I call it the republic of the rats and mice.]
This town has been so often described that it is as well known in England as in Italy almost; where I, like others, have seen the magnificent cathedral; have examined the two pillars which support its entrance, and which once adorned Diana’s temple at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the world. Their carving is indeed beyond all idea of workmanship; and the possession of them is inestimable. I have seen the old stones with inscriptions on them, bearing date the reign of Antoninus Pius, stuck casually, some with the letters reversed, some sloping, according to accident merely, as it appears to me, in the body of the great church: and I have seen the leaning tower that Lord Chesterfield so comically describes our English travellers eagerness to see. It is a beautiful building though after all, and a strange thing that it should lean so. The cylindrical form, and marble pillars that support each story, may rationally enough attract a stranger’s notice, and one is sorry the lower stories have sunk from their foundations, originally defective ones I trust they were, though, God knows, if the Italians do not build towers well, it is not for want either of skill or of experience; for there is a tower to every town I think, and commonly fabricated with elaborate nicety and well-fixed bases. But as earthquakes and subterranean fires here are scarcely a wonder, one need not marvel much at seeing the ground retreat just here. It is nearer our hand, and quite as well worth our while to enquire, why the tower at Bridgnorth in Shropshire leans exactly in the same direction, and is full as much out of the perpendicular as this at Pisa.