One of the drawbacks of the facility of modern travel is that it enables people who have a short holiday - say, of three weeks - to rush through Italy from place to place. Disappointed with the climate, they imagine sunshine is to be found further on. I heard a young man who spent his three weeks at Rome, Florence, and Venice, say that he had 'done that tour, and that Florence was the vilest climate on the face of God's earth.' Whereas a great deal more pleasure is to be had, and one gains a much more lasting impression, by going straight from home and spending the whole time in one place.

Everyone warned me so much against the heat I should find in Italy in June. But I began my disappointment by finding the Alps all cloud and rain, and, in spite of its being the last days of May, the weather was quite cold. At Turin the sky was as inky black as in London. The torrents were bursting, and the roads floating with water over black mud. As we got near Genoa, of which absolutely nothing can be seen from the railway, it was like a gray July day at home, the hay cut and the Acacias in flower.

The journey along the seashore is a most irritating series of tunnels. When I arrived at Florence, all loneliness was at an end. Kind friends met me, and we drove through the town, which I had not visited, except for one night, since I was twenty. In the gray damp drizzle it did not look its best, but no weather can spoil the majestic appearance of the Ilex and Cypress avenue outside the Roman gate - the approach to what was once a Medicean villa. Through this we had to drive to reach the village of Arcetri, where my journey ended.

The joy of being once more in Italy was indeed great; my pension - close to the Torre del Gallo - was a large, fine house, quite empty. All the upper floor was my own, and I could roam from room to room and enjoy the most beautiful views conceivable. The whole country is like a gigantic rockwork - hill and vale and sloping sides and varied aspects, and all that can be imagined as perfect for the growth of vegetation. I was rather disappointed at the excessive greenness of everything on my arrival. Even the Olives, in spite of the green corn underneath them, looked green - not gray - from the masses of small yellow flowers that covered them. One cannot look at all this redundant vegetation without realising that Florence must be blessed with an abundant rainfall.

They talk here of the probability of a wet 'san Giovanni' as we talk of 'st. Swithin' - meaning, of course, there is generally much wet about that time.

The Italian papers were naturally full of Mr. Gladstone's recent death, and one of them published his translation of Cowper's hymn, 'Hark, my soul,' which seems already at the end of a year almost a literary curiosity:

Senti, senti, anima mia

(Fu il Signor che sentia)

Gesù parla e parla a te:

'Di, figliuolo, ami Me?'

'Te legato svincolai, Le tue piaghe risanai, Fuorviato rimenai, Notte e dì per te mutai.'

'Vien la madre a quando a quando Il suo parto obliando? Donna il può, non posso Io, Mai non viene in Me l' obblio.'

'L'amor Mio sempre dura, Alto più d'ogni altra altura, Tocea già le nere porte, Franco e fido, in fino a morte.

'Tu la gloria Mia vedrai, Se le piene grazie avrai, Te del trono meno al piè; Di, figliuolo, ami Me?'

'Ah, Signor, mi duole il core Pel mio stanco e fiacco amore, T'amo pure, e vo'pregare Che ti possa meglio amare.

My food in my out-of-town pension, as I had it all to myself, consisted of vegetables, macaroni, rice, Alpine strawberries, etc. I learnt the secret of the delicious little vegetable they call 'Zucche,' which I had often heard of. It is called in the English Vilmorin vegetable book Italian Vegetable Marrow, 'an extremely distinct variety. stems not running very thick, and short. The luxuriant foliage forms a regular bush. All through Italy, where this gourd is very commonly grown, the fruit is eaten quite young, just before the faded flower drops off. The plants deprived of their undeveloped fruits continue to flower for several months most profusely, each producing a great number of young gourds, which, gathered in that state, are exceedingly tender and delicately flavoured.' 'This should be tried in England,' adds Mr. Robinson. The same excellent way of gathering them quite young might, I think, be adopted for other gourds and Vegetable Marrows.