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Tolerating Florence c. 1830 09/04/2011

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A letter written from the Hotel des Quatre Nations c. 1830

Neither of us are in love with Italy, and therefore I devoutly hope that we may be back in dear England by the end of December. The travelling here may be divided into three classes plague, pestilence and famine. Plague the mosquitoes. Pestilence the smells, and Famine the dinners. Nevertheless Pups, who is never satisfied with anything at home, seems to thrive upon the abominations here, as he grows quite fat, or as Byrne says: ‘Mr. Bulwer out of contradiction seems to enjoy the bad beds and bad dinners,’ while I am getting quite thin upon lemonade and lamentations. Poets ought to be strangled for all the lies they have told of this country. ‘Mother of Paintings and Sweet Sounds’ it certainly is, but not sweet smells… The entrance into Florence is certainly beautiful, being completely crowned with vineyards, plantations of silver olives and orange, lemon and pomegranate trees; and with the Grand Duke’s Gallery, no one can be disappointed; but excepting these, Cheltenham or any other little watering place in England is twenty times a prettier town. Oh, and the flowers I forgot those. They are splendid. How I wish I could send you some of the beautiful violets, myrtle, carnations and magnolias that are now before me. Our windows look upon the Arno. How fine that sounds, and yet it is a dirty little, narrow, ugly, muddy river, covered with little ugly Feluccas in which are coarse, ugly men in more than a state of deminudity, shovelling up the mud all day long. In short, even the Westminster Bridge part of the Thames is a hundred times handsomer.

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