Page images
PDF
EPUB

with pleasure after he has seen St. Peter's, though it is quite of another make, and can only be looked upon as one of the master-pieces of Gothic architecture. When a man sees the prodigious pains and expence that our fore-fathers have been at in these barbarous buildings, one cannot but fancy to himself what miracles of architecture they would have left us, had they only been instructed in the right way; for when the devotion of those ages was much warmer than that of the present, and the riches of the people much more at the disposal of the priests, there was so much money consumed on these Gothic cathedrals, as would have finished a greater variety of noble buildings than have been raised either before or since that time.

One would wonder to see the vast labour that has been laid out on this single cathedral. The very spouts are loaden with ornaments; the windows are formed like so many scenes of perspective, with a multitude of little pillars retiring one behind another; the great columns are finely engraven with fruits and foliage that run twisting about them from the very top to the bottom; the whole body of the church is chequered with different lays of white and black marble; the pavement curiously cut out in designs and scripture stories; and the front covered with such a variety of figures, and overrun with so many little mazes and labyrinths of sculpture, that nothing in the world can make a prettier show to those who prefer false beauties, and affected ornaments, to a noble and majestic simplicity. Over-against this church stands a large hospital, erected by a shoe-maker, who has been beatified, though never sainted. There stands a figure of him superscribed, sutor ultra crepidam. I shall speak nothing of the extent of this city, and the cleanliness of its streets, nor the beauty of its piazza, which so many travellers have described. As this is the last republic that fell under the subjection of the Duke of Florence, so is it still supposed to retain many hankerings after its ancient VOL. V.

U

liberty; for this reason, when the Keys and Pageants of the duke's towns and governments pass in procession before him, on St. John Baptist's day, I was told that Sienna comes in the rear of his dominions, and is pushed forward by those who follow, to show the reluctancy it has to appear in such a solemnity. I shall say nothing of the many gross and absurd traditions of St. Catharine of Sienna, who is the great saint of this place. I think there is as much pleasure in hearing a man tell his dreams, as in reading accounts of this nature. A traveller that thinks them worth his observation, may fill a book with them at every great town in Italy.

From Sienna we went forward to Leghorn, where the two ports, the bagnio, and Donatelli's statue of the great duke, amidst the four slaves chained to his pedestal, are very noble sights. The square is one of the largest, and will be one of the most beautiful in Italy, when this statue is erected in it, and a townhouse built at one end of it, to front the church that stands at the other. They are at a continual expence to cleanse the ports, and keep them from being choked up, which they do by the help of several engines that are always at work, and employ many of the great duke's slaves. Whatever part of the harbour they scoop in, it has an influence on all the rest, for the sea immediately works the whole bottom to a level. They draw a double advantage from the dirt that is taken up, as it clears the port, and at the same time dries up several marshes about the town, where they lay it from time to time. One can scarce imagine how great profits the duke of Tuscany receives from this single place, which are not generally thought so considerable, because it passes for a free port. But it is very well known how the great duke, on a late occasion, notwithstanding the privileges of the merchants, drew no small sums of money out of them; though still, in respect of the exorbitant dues that are paid at most other ports, it deservedly retains the name of free. It brings into his dominions a great increase of people from all other nations. They reckon in it near ten thousand Jews, many of them very rich, and so great traffickers, that our English factors complain they have most of our country trade in their hands. It is true, the strangers pay little or no taxes directly, but out of every thing they buy there goes a large gabel to the government. The very ice-merchant at Leghorn, pays abovę a thousand pound sterling annually for his privilege, and the tobacco-merchant ten thousand. The ground is sold by the great duke at a very high price, and houses are every day rising on it. All the commodities that go up into the country, of which there are great quantities, are clogged with impositions as soon as they leave Leghorn. All the wines, oils, and silks, that come down from the fruitful valleys of Pisa, Florence, and other parts of Tuscany, must make their way through several duties and taxes before they can reach the port. The canal that runs from the sea into the Arno gives a convenient carriage to all goods that are to be shipped off, which does not a little enrich the owners; and in proportion as private men grow wealthy, their legacies, law-suits, daughters? portions, &c. increase, in all which the great duke comes in for a considerable share. The Lucquese, who traffic at this port, are said to bring in a great deal into the duke's coffers. Another advantage, which may be of great use to him, is, that at five or six days' warning he might find credit. in this town for very large sums of money, which no other prince in Italy can pretend to. I need not take notice of the reputation that this port gives him among foreign princes, but there is one benefit arising from it, which, though never thrown into the account, is, doubtless, very considerable. It is well known how the Pisans and Florentives long regretted the loss of their ancient liberty, and their subjection to a family that some of them thought themselves equal to, in the flourishing times of their commonwealths. The town of Leghorn has ac

other way.

cidently done what the greatest fetch of politics would have found difficult to have brought about, for it has almost unpeopled Pisa, if we compare it with what it was formerly, and every day lessens the number of the inhabitants of Florence. This does not only weaken those places, but, at the same time, turns many of the busiest spirits from their old notions of honour and liberty, to the thoughts of traffic and merchandize: and as men engaged in a road of thriving are no friends to changes and revolutions, they are at present worn into a habit of subjection, and push all their pursuits an

It is no wonder, therefore, that the great duke has such apprehensions of the pope's making Civita Vecchia a free port, which may in time prove so very prejudicial to Leghorn. It would be thought an improbable story, should I set down the several methods that are commonly reported to have been made use of during the last pontificate, to put a stop to this design. The great duke's money was so well bestowed in the conclave, that several of the cardinals dissuaded the pope from the undertaking, and at last turned all his thoughts upon the little port which he made at Antium, near Nettuno. The chief workmen that were to have conveyed the water to Civita Vecchia, were bought off, and when a poor capuchin, who was thought proof against all bribes, had undertaken to carry on the work, he died a little after he had entered upon it. The present pope, however, who is very well acquainted with the secret history, and the weakness of his predecessor, seems resolved to bring the project to its perfection. He has already been at vast charges in finishing the aqueduct, and had some hopes that, if the war should drive our English merchants from Sicily and Naples, they would settle here. His holiness has told some English gentlemen, that those of our nation should have the greatest privileges of any but the subjects of the church. One of our countrymen, who makes a good figure at Rome, told me the pope has this design extremely at his heart; but that he fears the English will suffer nothing like a resident, or consul, in his dominions; though, at the same time, he hoped the business might as well be transacted by one that had no public character. This gentleman has so busied himself in the affair, that he has offended the French and Spanish cardinals, insomuch that Cardinal Janson refused to see him, when he would have made his apology for what he had said to the pope on this subject. There is one great objection to Civita Vecchia, that the air of the place is not wholesome; but this they say proceeds from want of inhabitants, the air of Leghorn having been worse than this before the town was well peopled.

The great profits that have accrued to the Duke of Florence, from his free port, have set several of the statés of Italy on the same project. The most likely to succeed in it would be the Genoese, who lie more convenient than the Venetians, and have a more inviting form of government than that of the church, or that of Florence. But as the port of Genoa is so very ill guarded against storms, that no privileges can tempt the merchants from Leghorn into it, so dare not the Genoese make any other of their ports free, lest it should draw to it most of their commerce and inhabitants, and by consequence ruin their chief city.

From Leghorn I went to Pisa, where there is still the shell of a great city, though not half furnished with inhabitants. The great church, baptistery, and leaning tower, are very well worth seeing, and are built after the same fancy with the cathedral of Sienna.' Half a day's journey more brought me into the republic of Lucca.

« PreviousContinue »