[Footnote Z: Now, my friend, do but observe what a thing is a woman! she is not afraid even of the roaring ocean, and yet goes into fits almost at the sight of a fly.]
In a very clear day, it is said, one may see Corsica from hence, though not less than forty or fifty miles off: the pretty island Gorgona however, whence our best anchovies are brought to England, lies constantly in view,
Assurgit ponti medio circumflua Gorgon.
How she came by that extraordinary name though, is not I believe well known; perhaps her likeness to one of the Cape Verd islands, the original Hesperides, might be the cause; for it was there the daughters of Phorcus fixed their habitation: or may be, as Medusa was called Gorgon par eminence, because she applied herself to the enriching of ground, this fertile islet owes its appellation from being particularly manured and fructified.
Here is an extraordinary good opera-house; admirable dancers, who performed a mighty pretty pantomime Comedie larmoyante without words; I liked it vastly. The famous Soprano singer Bedini was at Lucca; but here is our old London favourite Signora Giorgi, improved into a degree of perfection seldom found, and from her little expected.
Mr. Udney the British Consul is alone now; his lady has been obliged to leave him, and take her children home for health’s sake; but we saw his fine collection of pictures, among which is a Danae that once belonged to Queen Christina of Sweden, and fell from her possession into that of some nobleman, who being tormented by scruples of morality upon his death-bed, resolved to part with all his undraped figures, but not liking to lose the face of this Danae, put the picture into a painter’s hands to cut and clothe her: the man, instead of obeying orders he considered as barbarous, copied the whole, and dressed the copy decently, sending it to his sick friend, who never discerned the trick; and kept the original to dispose of, where fewer scruples impeded an advantageous sale. The gentleman who bought it then, died; when Mr. Udney purchased Danae, and highly values her; though some connoisseurs say she is too young and ungrown a female for the character. There is a Titian too in the same collection, of Cupid riding on a lion’s back, to which some very remarkable story is annexed; but one’s belief is so assailed by such various tales, told of all the striking pictures in Italy, that one grows more tenacious of it every day I think; so that at last the danger will be of believing too little, instead of too much perhaps. Happy for travellers would it be, were that disposition of mind confined to painting only: but if it should prove extended to more serious subjects, we can only hope that the violent excess of the temptation may prove some excuse, or at least in a slight degree extenuate the offence: A wise man cannot believe half he hears in Italy to be sure, but a pious man will be cautious not to discredit it all.