One should not however speak unkindly of a people whose affectionate regard for our country shewed itself so clearly during the late war: a few days residence with the English consul here at his country seat gave me an opportunity of hearing many instances of the Republic’s generous attachment to Great Britain, whose triumphs at Gibraltar over the united forces of France and Spain were honestly enjoyed by the friendly Genoese, who gave many proofs of their sincerity, more solid than those clamorous ones of huzzaing our minister about wherever he went, and crying Viva il General ELIOTT; while many young gentlemen of high station offered themselves to go volunteers aboard our fleet, and were with difficulty restrained.
We have been shewed some beautiful villas belonging to the noblemen of this city, among which Lomellino’s pleased me best; as the water there was so particularly beautiful, that he had generously left it at full liberty to roll unconducted, and murmur through his tasteful pleasure grounds, much in the manner of our lovely Leasowes; happily uniting with English simplicity, the glowing charms that result from an Italian sky. My eyes were so wearied with square edged basons of marble, and jets d’eaux, surrounded by water nymphs and dolphins, that I felt vast relief from Lomellino’s garden, who, like me,
Tir’d with the joys
parterres and fountains yield,
Finds out at last he better likes a field.
Such felicity of situation I never saw till now, when one looks upon the painted front of this gay mansion, commanding from its fine balcony a rich and extensive view at once of the sea, the city, and the snow-topt mountains; while from the windows on the other side the house, one’s eye sinks into groves of cedar, ilex, and orange trees, not apparently cultivated with incessant care, or placed in pots, artfully sunk under ground to conceal them from one’s sight, but rising into height truly respectable.
The sea air, except in particular places where the land lies in some direction that counteracts its influence, is naturally inimical to timber; though the green coasts of Devonshire are finely fringed with wood; and here, at Lomellino’s villa, in the Genoese state, I found two plane trees, of a size and serious dignity, that recalled to my mind the solemn oak before our duke of Dorset’s seat at Knowle—and chesnuts, which would not disgrace the forests of America. A rural theatre, cut in turf, with a concealed orchestra and sod seats for the audience, with a mossy stage, not incommodious neither, and an admirable contrivance for shifting the scenes, and savouring the exits, entrances, &c. of the performers, gave me a perfect idea of that refined luxury which hot countries alone inspire—while another elegantly constructed spot, meant and often used for the entertainment of tenants and dependants who come to rejoice on the birth or wedding day of a kind landlord, make one suppress one’s sighs after a free country—at least suspend them; and fill one’s heart with tenderness towards men, who have skill to soften authority with indulgence, and virtue to reward obedience with protection.