Centro Risorse Territoriale di Pesaro e Urbino

Firenze, a 1769 Guide

Report Broken Link Change Language
Language Switch Cloud Preload
Current Language: English
You can select another language:
‹« ItalianItalian »›
or Close this window.

Florence , the capital of Tuscany, was less known in antiquity than any of the cities now subject to it. Its first inhabitants, being wholly given up to the enjoyments of a delicious situation, fell an easy prey to the several barbarians who ravaged Italy, and were likewise victims to the jealousy of their neighbours, who, after driving them out of their city, reduced it to a heap of ruins. It owed its restoration to Charlemagne, who, on his return from Rome, in 802, rebuilt its walls, and re-assembled the inhabitants, who had been dispersed in the country along the Arno.

They availed themselves of the anarchy, into which Italy fell under Charlemagne's successors, to erect themselves into a republic; and the first exploit of this infant state was an act of revenge against the city of Fiesoli, which had destroyed Florence. The Florentines, in their turn, pillaged and rased it in 1010, and to cut off all hopes of its being rebuilt, like the Romans in their first conquests, they removed the Fiesolese to Florence, and incorporated them with their republic.

After this incorporation, Florence became to Italy, what Naples was to Greece in those glorious times of which Thucydides and Xenophon have written the history. Profuse of the riches accrueing to it from a large trade and flourishing manufactures, and stimulated by that pride which is the parent of vast projects and noble enterprises, it aspired to every kind of glory; and to the progressive exertion of its genius Europe owed the revival of the patriotic, the political, and military virtues, and likewise of the sciences and arts, so long suppressed by the barbarians.

Cosmo de Medicis , like a second Pisistratus, undertook to make himself master of a people who looked on liberty as the chief good. Immense riches, boundless liberality, popular manners, a latent and active policy, an intrepid courage and a patience ever uniform, the love of literature and the fine arts, much zeal for religion, an humble deference to all his ministers (o),

(o)Con palesi e manifeste virtu, con secreti e nascosti vizzi fatto capo di una Repubblica piu tosto non serva che libera. Varchi. "With open and conspicuous virtues, close and secret in his vices, he became the head of a republic not under slavery indeed, neither free."

were the instruments of that tyranny, established by one whose grandfather was scarcely known; if the odious name of Tyranny may be given to a sovereignty which Cosmo exercised, as he himself used to say, con capucchio, "in a cowl," without any mark of distinction from the other citizens. It was very sensibly said by an emperor, on seeing the palace which Cosmo had built at Florence, "What crosses, what uneasinesses, what oppositions, what vexations, must such an elevation have cost the man who dared attempt it!"

However it be, Cosmo, to all the advantages which his country enjoyed, added inward tranquillity: he was a liberal patron of genius, and assisted the advancement of the sciences and arts, the hereditary taste of which in his family did not a little contribute to perpetuate its sovereignty. In a word, he deserved that best of titles, of Father of his Country, as it stands on his monument, and supplies the place of all the titles and elogiums with which his descendants might have loaded it.

Cosmus Medicis,

Decr. Pub.

Pater Patri.

Laurence the Magnificent, his grandson, reigned by the like claim, and in the like manner, over Florence; of which the Medicis owed the sovereignty not so much to the labours of their ancestors, as to the intrigues of Leo X. and Clement VII. And the alliances which those popes procured to their family.

Laurence de Medicis, grandson to Laurence the Magnificent, was indebted to Leo X. for his marriage with the heiress of the house of Bologna, as one of the secret articles of the Concordat made in 1515, between that pope and Francis I. Catharine de Medicis, the fruit of this marriage, was in 1533 espoused to Henry II. son of the said king, who came into this match in compliance with the instances of Clement VII. Francis the dauphin being poisoned in 1545, Henry, Catharine's husband, took the title of dauphin, and succeeded his father in 1547. Aretin, in a letter to Catharine de Medicis, says, concerning Henry the Second's accession to the crown, Non si vanti la sorte d'averlo assunto in Ré con solenne misterio del Fato. In this match Francis I. must have done no small violence to himself, if we may judge by the style of a dispatch of the 15 th of April, 1532, in answer to the proposal of pope Clement VII. of his sending to the emperor a powerful succour for the defence of Italy, then threatened by Soliman; at the same time exhorting him to make use of this opportunity of reconciling him to the emperor: "I would have the holy father know," said the prince, "that the king is neither a tradesman, nor a Florentine, nor so mean-spirited a creature, that ransoms, a prison, and other ill treatments, should cow him, and make him act beneath his duty, instead of stimulating him to resent such wrongs," (alluding to the manner by which Clement VII. who had been prisoner of Charles V. procured his discharge): "such a pusillanimity his holiness may keep to himself, and not disparage a king of France so far as to think he would do any thing like it: that, as for himself, he had never given offence to the emperor; but on the contrary, he had received ample matter of offence from him; that, if our said holy father found the emperor to be in such a ferment, he might, if he pleased, be his physician, and give him rhubarb, or some such physic as he should think fit for mollifying and cooling him; for, as to his part, the said emperor might look out for other physicians than him; that he was none of his domestics, or retainers, so as to concern himself about curing his many ailments; and that he was very much surprised the holy father should think so lightly of him, as to make use of such words, &c. &c."

From the spirit and sharpness of this letter, one would have little thought, that the following year should see an alliance concluded between Francis I. and Clement VII.

It is to the Medicis, and the two popes of this house, that Florence owes those edifices and monuments which, distinguishing it from the other cities of Europe, raise it to a rivalry with the famous cities of ancient Greece.

Among the edifices of Florence, there are however some, which, though prior to the Medicis, may be looked on as preludes to the Florentine taste for fine performances. Such are, the church of St. Maria Novella, which, by reason of the airiness of the plan on which it was built in 1280, Michael Angelo used to call La Sposa, "The Bride;" the great church of the Holy Cross, built in 1294; that of the Trinity; that of Or-San-Michele, on the outside of which are fourteen niches, with statues all master-pieces by the greatest sculptors of Florence; lastly, the inward and outward decoration of the cathedral baptistery, and its bronze doors, which Michael Angelo said were fit to be the doors of Paradise. The first of these doors was finished and put up in 1330, by Ugolin di Pisa; and the two others in the following century, by Laurence Ghiberti of Florence, who, in the basso relievos, and other pieces of their accompaniments, has exhibited, both in the design and execution, a perfection which art has never since been able to surpass. Italy is full of Madonnas said to be done by angels. Had the workmanship of these gates been attributed to angels, the connoisseurs themselves, especially on comparing it with the taste of the age when it was performed, would have been the first to have believed the miracle.

The cathedral, the foundation of which was laid in 1296, faces the baptistery: its vastness, its height, its airiness, and withal its solidity, are not so much to be admired as its proportions, in the exquisiteness and propriety of which architects of the thirteenth century have anticipated the revival of the arts. Its dome was the work of the following age, and in such a work, that from it Michael Angelo took his model of St. Peter's dome; and the more admirable is this work, the dome being double, and constructed without a centre, or newel, and barely by means of a most ingenious scaffolding contrived by Brunellesco, who had planned this vast machine, and who finished it by methods purely his own, without any traditionary precedent or information.

The cupola was scarcely finished, when it raised in Paul Toscanelli, a Florentine physician, the notion of the first dial, performed by modern astronomy; and the essay proved a master-piece: it is still the greatest monument of the kind in all Europe. This was likewise M. Condamine's opinion of it; when at Florence he had urged the ministry to repair it; the approximation of the eclyptic, and perhaps the sinking in of the cupola, having put it out of order. A Jesuit, to whom the repair was committed, had just published an account of his proceedings in a work printed at Florence in 1757.

Landini, in the prolegomena of his Commentary on Dante, speaks with the highest praise of two geometricans whom Florence produced so early as the fifteenth century. The name of both was Paul; the first celebrated for immortal writings which however are not to be found in any catalogue of books printed; the second not less profound in the higher sciences than the other; and being still living in the beginning of the sixteenth century, he never looked on him without a respectful complacency, as una veneranda imagine d'antichita.

The plan of Brunellesco's scaffolding is among the pieces inserted in the Life of the Senator Nelli, published by his son , at Florence, in 1753. This senator, who died in 1725, was likewise a great architect, and as such had a long time the superintendency of the cathedral. In the year 1692 some fissures were perceived in the calotte of the dome. The most famous architects in Italy, being consulted by the great duke Cosmo III. gave it as their opinion, that the calotte was greatly impaired, and to be secured only by girding it with strong iron chains. These were accordingly prepared with all expedition; but Mr. Nelli having, under the authority of the celebrated Viviani, demonstrated that arcades like those of the dome were not liable to any lateral spread, and that their consistence depended on that of the foundations, the chains were laid aside as a mere dead weight, and only some slight covering put on the fissures, which were treated as an inconsiderable accident. The cathedral's great bell being broken in the time of Mr. Nell's superintendency, he had it new cast, but without ears; instead of which, it had a round aperture across its upper part, and fitted with a great iron pin. In this pin, from whence hangs the clapper, is fastened an iron hood, which bearing up the calotte, and the whole weight of the bell causes it to be easily turned about the clapper, without any need of dismounting it to vary the clapper's point of incidence.

This operation reminds me of two authenticated certificates, mentioned in the history of Mr. Nelli, from which it appears, that in 1658, one Joseph Farnetti mended cracked bells without casting them anew, so that they sounded meglio che prima, "better than at first."

The mentioning og Mr. Nelli, farther puts me in mind of one of those structures, by which the Florentine architects had anticipated the revival of the arts; I mean the German mansion, which, to this day, is an ornament of the palace square. This mansion is very large, all of stone, and open towards the square, in arcades raised by a continual socle about four feet above the ground: it was built in 1355, under the inspection, and from a plan, of Andrea Orgagnia, who, in opposition to the ogives and tiers points usual at that time, gave his arcades wide openings. In the beginning of this century, the socle, warping from its perpendicular towards the square, was drawing the arcades, so that the whole mansion seemed in danger. The great duke, in 1715, was by all means for preventing it; and the architects could see no remedy but building it wholly a-new, the expence of which they estimated at thirty thousand livres. Mr. Nelli however, alarmed at such expence, undertook to underpin the socle, to preserve the arcades, and bring them again to their perpendicular position. The great duke, knowing his probity and superior skill, set him to work; and the whole was happily finished, in 1716, at the small expence of two thousand livres.

I come now to the monuments of the magnificence of the Medicis, and their judicious taste for all the fine arts; mentioning however only those in which some particular circumstance struck me.

Of these the first is Donatello's Judith , standing under one of the arcades of the above-mentioned mansion, and by the Florentines called Giulitta . This exquisite piece is of bronze, and relates to the history of the Medicis, though, very probably, not set up by any of them. The Bithulian heroine is standing with a sabre raised up over Holofernes's throat: he lies as dead as drunk, fallen down against a pedestal, round which is this inscription:

Publicae Salutis Exemplum

Civ. Pos.

I conclude from the inscription, that this monument was erected either before Cosmo de Medicis had seised on the government, or during his exile: but it is very strange, that, when the medicis came to be fixed in the sovereignty, they allowed of such a monument, and with such an inscription; and that the people themselves never thought of paying their court to them, and manifesting their attachment, by pulling it down, or at least removing that perpetual signal to revolt and attempts on the sovereign's person. This forbearance of the Medicis may have proceeded from the reason, which induced them to prefer the modest title of Duchy to Kingdom, of which the opulence and extent of their dominions would have very well admitted. In the gallery of Pitti palace is to be seen the contre-part of this monument, an excellent head of Brutus by Michael Angelo, with this distich on the pedestal:

Dum Bruti effigiem Michael de marmore fingit,

In mentem sceleris venit & abstinuit.

Among the multitude of other masterly pieces in the palace square, I observed two colossal statues of white marble; one of Hercules engaged with Cacus, by Bandinelli; the other, by Michael Angelo, representing David making up to Goliath. These statues, though highly valued, are exposed to the injuries of the air, so that they are become unequally mouldy ans rusty; which does not improve their appearance: but such is the respect of the Florentines for monuments of this kind, that the care, taken every spring in other places to have such statues, as stand in the open air, cleansed, rubbed, and scraped, they look upon as a kind of sacrilege.

The palace, in the court of which stand those of Hercules and David, affords several statues very highly finished, as Bandinelli's Adam and Eve , and a Victory by Michael Angelo.

The Adam and Eve , though larger than nature, are quite naked, were for above a century an altar-piece in the cathedral: in this the good people of those days saw no immodesty or indecency; but they having since been looked on with another eye, Cosmo ordered them to be removed.

Michael Angelo's Victory , a most expressive piece, though he did not put the finishing hand to it, was designed for the tomb of Julius II. On seeing Michael Angelo's mausoleum, I could not but think that this Victory , crowning his bust, would have been a more suitable ornament to this mausoleum, than the three statues with which it has been decorated: they are indeed very correct, but something cold.

Without entering into any farther detail concerning the hundred and sixty public statues, (most of which, being distributed in the squares, in the streets, and on bridges, entertain the stranger with a spectacle similar to that which the most flourishing cities of Greece exhibited to the Pausaniases) I shall only observe, that these statues, though left open to the people, are respected by them as sacred; and this respect, which is inculcated from fathers to their children, has its rise in that taste which is the custom of seeing fine things, and hearing them praised, naturally inspires.

This respect is seen at Florence even in the peasants, and the very lowest people, and thus supplies the place of rails, which in other countries can scarce secure the public monuments from that delight in mischief, particularly natural to children, and of which, in the commonalty, education seldom gets the better. The Centaur, for instance, a piece which may be compared to the most valuable remains of antiquity, stands in the centre of no spacious square, and where, two or three days in a week, a market is kept. Passing through it one morning in market-time, I asked a peasant why he did not make use of the pedestal of the statue to hook on it several small baskets of wares, with which he seemed pretty much incumbered. All his answer was a shrug, and a glance of strong contempt and indignation.

Con quel sembiante

Che madre fa sopra figlio deliro*

*Dante. Parad. Cant. i.

The public buildings shine in all the conveniency and magnificence which their different uses require. Courts of justice, colleges, hospitals, libraries, covered markets, public granaries, archives, record offices for the instruments of notaries, lawyers, &c. are all the work of the best architects, to whose taste the sovereign and the directors of these several departments have ever submitted their own judgement.

Among the private edifices, the palace built by the first of the Medicis has the pre-eminence on any accounts; not for the extent of ground it takes up, as, in its first condition, it was not large enough for the marquis de Ricardi, the present possessor; but for its most elegant simplicity, for the names of the princes who have lived and were born in it, for the dignity of the guests who have been entertained there, and still more especially as the nursery of literature, of the sciences, and the fine arts, on their revival in Europe. The Ricardi family has, in the last articles, kept up all its former glory, by a fine choice of antiques, a collection of admirable paintings, and a library very rich in manuscripts, doubly useful by the public access to it, and the extensive learning of the celebrated Dr. Lami, who is allowed a gentle salary as a librarian. It was not however without some discomposure that I saw the debasement of the stair-case, which had served for the emperors Maximilian and Charles V. for Charles VIII. Lewis XII. and Francis I. kings of France; for the popes Leo X. and Clement VII. for all the Medicis, and, in a word, for the most eminent personages in Europe, both in merit and dignity, and that in a century remarkable for great princes and prodigies of men: that stair-case is now only the back stairs, being superseded by one much more spacious, and much more magnificent, but on which, perhaps, never will men like those set a foot.

This palace is separated by a cross street from the college of the Jesuits; and these fathers may come to join it with the palace, when they shall have insinuated themselves into the good will of the Florentines, who have always looked on them with an evil eye. It is a standing custom at Florence, to say to foreigners, pointing to Ricardi palace, "There's the cradle of literature ; and "here's its grave ," pointing at the college.

One of the public buildings, the more deserving of notice as overlooked by reason of its skilful simplicity, is St. Laurence's library, which is better known by the name of the Medicis library. All the parts of this structure in its several minutiae , the painted windows, the ceiling, the very desks, were executed from plans, and under the inspection, of Michael Angelo, whom the most intelligent architects study there, with no less attention and improvements than at St. Peter's.

St. Laurence's church gives its name to the library, and is the first, and one of the most majestic edifices, which, since the revival of arts, has been brought within the capital principles of architecture. The plan was fixed on by old Cosmo de Medicis in the fifteenth century.

Florence every where exhibits ranges of palaces, which at first sight seem cast in the same mould. All the fronts perpendicular to the streets are, at the gates and windows, loaded with bossages; whilst the uppermost stories are only a plain wall, but with windows, in the chambranles and accompaniments of which the architects may be said to have emulated each other in art and proportions. Most of these architects being likewise sculptors, those parts were often master-pieces in a twofold respect. This masculine and correct taste derives both its rise and continuance at Florence from tenacious attachment of the inhabitants to that order of architecture, which owes its origin and name to the ancient Tuscans: from it has been, and still daily is taken, whatever comports with the strictness of its proportions (p);

(p) It was the same with the ancient Egyptians. "They loved," says the great Bossuet, "a regularity absolutely plain. It is not that nature of itself inclines us to simplicity, which is so hard to be recovered when the taste has been visited by novelties and capricious freedoms?"

Univers. Hist.

And this strictness is a sure preservative against the presumptions, the freedoms, and caprices, to which the other orders can more easily be accommodated. The new fashion for ornaments, which we found on our return to prevail at Paris, under the name of Grecian taste , is precisely, and in every particular, the manner of the Florentine architecture: the transition of the Parisians from the chantourné to the masculine and grave, may be accounted for by the sudden change of very large hats for very small. Now such periodical variations from white to black are unknown at Florence.

Painting there is subject to the like severity in the manner of handling the crayon and pencil, yet without excluding the national gaiety, which Florentine painters have introduced into their performances even on devout subjects; and it is principally in the painting of convents, that the Florentine artists have allowed themselves the greatest liberties. In these pictures, in which a stranger sees only edifying stories, a Florentine, acquainted with tradition, discovers the secret history of the convent at the time when the painter was employed. There are few, who in these paintings do not meet with their neighbours, their friends, their cronie of both sexes, their mistresses, &c. Thus in one of the finest pieces in Hloy Cross church, of the elder Bronzini, representing Jesus Christ drawing souls out of the limbo , he has introduced all his neighbourhood. The prettiest women among them were his models for holy virgins and holy women of the Old Testament, represented from head to foot in the state of nature (q).

(q) Aretin, in Letter cxxxiii. Book v. tells us, that his mother, when young, had sat for a very fine Annunciation in St. Peter de Florence, or d'Arezzo.

The capital part, that of Eve, is his mistress; and he himself is viewing her with a look of passion. This Bronzini is he who had a considerable hand in the collection of amorous poems, so well known in Italy by the name of Opere Bernesche . It must however be added, that, in the painting in which he has taken all these liberties, the expression of Adam, to whom Jesus Christ gives his hand, is quite sublime: the aspect, the air, the whole physiognomy of this general parent of mankind, speak shame, repentance, gratitude, confidence, and every sentiment under which his soul must have been labouring at that so long expected instant.

All Florence is filled with excellent pieces in this taste; most of them the manufacture of the country, that is, in general, more correct than agreeable; the design rather strong than pleasing, and wrought from those robust and vigorous persons, whom Michael Angelo had daily before his eyes, and which he had made the model of his performances (r.

(r Among the master-pieces of this kind, it gave me some displeasure to see several capital performances of Andrea del Sarto piled up in the apartments of Pitti palace; having by order of the great dukes, been successively taken out of several churches, to which they were very valuable ornaments.

In imitation of him, and even before him, the Florentine artists, being at the same time sculptors, architects, and often painters, but all eminent draughtsmen, had by the assemblage of these arts, and the knowledge particular to each of them, a facility, a correctness, an accuracy of sight, seldom obtained by the separate study of one of the three.

This learned school, like the schools of antiquity, owed its origin and progress to wealth and liberty. Florence, wanton with the riches accruing to it from trade, and an industry which declined no object of gain, set up for magnificence, and plunged herself in enjoyments. Jealous of her liberty even to rage, perpetually distracted at home by that jealousy, and victorious abroad (s),

(s) In the history of Florence, says Varchi, we meet with tutte quelle varietaed accidenti che in un Popolo non meno ambizioso e sottile che avaro, ne meno ricco che nobile ed industriose, possono occorrere , "all those vicissitudes, and incidents which can fall out among a people no less ambitious and subtile, than avaricious, and equally rich, splendid, and ingenious."

She assumed the sentiments of her fortune: that desire of glory, which prompted her to great things, inspired her with a love of the beautiful, the sources of which she laid open to her artists. Opulence opened the workshops. Freedom, which naturally enlarges the ideas, elevates the soul, and increases its energy, warmed such geniuses as were born for arts: emulation, rivalry, and jealousy, did what remained. Every artist, being judged by his peers, improved by the discoveries, the faults, and works of his rivals. In this brilliant revolution, the analyses of arts, observations, dissertations, and such posthumous fruits of genius, had no share. The curious, the patrons, were great contributors, not pretending to advise the artists, but employing them; admiring, and not directing them. In a word, the most sublime arts, together with the most mechanical crafts, were created and improved by indefatigable hands, and not by idle reasoners.

The veneration of the Florentines for their great men contributed not little to make them such. Florence is full of monuments consecrated to their memory, both by the sovereigns and private persons. I shall give a short account of those which came in my way.

The house built by the celebrated Vincent Viviani, in the neighbourhood of S. Maria Novella, is a monument of his gratitude towards Galileo, whose last pupil he was, as he used every where to call himself. In the front of the house is a bronze busto of this restorer of the sublime sciences; and scrolls in the outwards piers, between the casements, shew the detail and epochas of those admirable discoveries with which he has enriched those sciences. Viviani's gratitude went still farther: on his substituting, by his will, his disciple the senator Nelli joint executor to the abbé Panzanini his nephew, whom he made his heir, he appointed a magnificent mausoleum, suitable to his regard, to be erected to his master, which was performed in 1733.

This monument, which stands in Holy Cross church, fronting Michael Angelo's mausoleum, and was executed in marble from a drawing of Julius Foggini, is a large sarcophagus surmounted with a bust of Galileo, excellently wrought by John Foggini: Astronomy and Geometry, both bigger than nature; the former, executed by Vincent Foggini (t),

(t) To this family the republic of letters is indebted for the abbé Foggini, one of the sub-librarians in the Vatican, known by the Medicis edition of Virgil, and other works translated into French from editions published by him according to Vatican manuscripts.

And the other, by Jerome Ticciati, stand on each end of the sarcophagus (u) .

(u) In the same church lies buried the famous St: Antonine. Among the paintings representing his miracles, I met with one something singular, and which I had before seen in a little church at Dijon. The archbishop is holding a balance: in one of the scales is a basket of fruit, and in the other a bit of paper with Deo gratias written on it: aside stands a peasant in a stupid amazement. The story is this: A peasant brought a basket of fruit to St. Antonine; but, instead of a good equivalent, which he expected, St. Antonine only said to him, Deo gratias: the peasant fell a muttering that he could not live by Deo gratias, and it was not equal to his fruit. St. Antonine, to shew him the worth and weight of it, ordered a pair of scales to be brought, in which the Deo gratias made his fruit kich the beam.

The execution of Viviani's intentions had been intermitted by a difficulty consecutive to those which had disturbed Galileo's life and studies. This truly philosophic man, if ever mortal could claim that title, had undergone all the persecutions and molestations, which ever have been the portion of men superior to their times (w)

(w) Urit enim fulgore suo qui praegravat artes

Infra se positas. Horat.

His works had been condemned by the inquisition, and he himself thrown into the prison of that dreadful tribunal, where he remained about six years; and at length, to obtain his release, was compelled to abjure what all the world now believes and maintains, the motion of the earth round the sun (x)

(x) He was hunted out, and tried at the inquisition at Rome, who threw him into prison. Florence had then, and still has, only one Franciscan for its inquisitor, to whom the emperor, since his being sovereign of Tuscany, has added some counsellors of the regency; without whose concurrence the Franciscan cannot act. The inquisitors of Rome had Galileo's affair brought before them, as of very high moment.

After surviving this misfortune eighteen years, he died in 1642, aged seventy-eight. His labours, his discoveries, the eminent merit of the greater part of his disciples, the favour with which his sovereign honoured him, his very sufferings, were of no avail for the tranquillity of his latter years. I have seen in Mr. Nelli's library the original of letters and instruments, by which it appears that monks, priests and prelates, inveighed against him from the pulpit. It was even debated whether he could dispose of his goods by will, and whether the church ought to allow him ecclesiastical burial. The latter article had been decided in the negative; and accordingly, on his death, he had been buried as a heretic, in profane ground, facing the gate of the Dominican novitiate, in St. Mark's square.

Viviani stood in need of all the weight accruing to him from the esteem of Lewis XIV. and

The pension with which that prince honoured him, to dare undertake erecting to his master, in the middle of Florence, the monument above mentioned. The mausoleum directed by his will met with the greatest opposition: it was decided by great divines, that the very utmost which could be allowed was the removing of Galileo's bones into holy ground; but there to be left, without any honour or distinction. I have seen the original of the consultations on his head. The abbé Panzanini, Viviani's heir, endeavoured, but without effect, to overcome that difficulty. Mr. Nelli's executors were obliged to use all their interest, and even juridical means, by which they at length prevailed, and, after taking up what remained of Galileo, deposited him in the mausoleum.

The only monument of theological hatred against this great philosopher, is now the Index of Prohibited Books, which was renewed and corrected, in 1758, by Benedict XIV. The dialogue, in which lay his capital crime, is again proscribed (y) without any lenitive.

(y) Together with the works of Bacon, Copernicus, Kepler, Descartes, and Foscarini.

It would be a mistake, to imagine that Galileo had drawn such persecution on himself by indiscretion, pride, and sallies of defiance. That he may be tried on his own writings, I shall insert, from the original, part of the letter he wrote, in 1618, to archduke Leopold, along with the first telescope he had invented, and a memoir on the causes of the tides according to the Copernican system, which was afterwards condemned by the inquisition. Touching this memoir he says, Mi e occorso di farlo mentre che fra questi signori teologi si andava pensando intorno alla prohibizione del libro di Nic. Copernico, e della opinione della mobilita della terra posta in detto libro e da me creduta per vera in quel tempo: si che piacque a questi signori di sospendere il libro e dichiarare per falsa e repugnante a le scritture sacre, la detta opinione. Hora, perche io so quanto convenga ubidire e credere alle determinazioni de' superiori come quelli che sono scorti da piu alte cognizioni, alle quali la bassezza del mio ingegno per se stesso non arriva, reputo questa presente scrittura, che gli mando, come una Poesia overo un sogno, e per tale la riceva l'Altezza vostra: Tuttavia, perche anco i poeti apprezzano talvolta alcuna delle loro fantasie, io parimente fo qualche stima di questa mia vanita. E giache mi ritrovavo averla scritta & lasciatala vedere dal Cardinale Orsino e da alcuni altri pochi, ne ho poi lasciato andare alcune copie in mano di altri Signori Grandi; e questo, affinche, in ogni evento, che altri, forse separato dalla nostra Chiesa, volesse attribuirsi questo mio capriccio, come di molte altre mie invenzioni e accaduto, possi restare la testimonianza di persone maggiori, come io era stato il primo a sognare questa chimera. Questa che li mando e veramente una abozzatura che fu da me frettelosamente scritta, mentre speravo che il Copernico non avesse, ottant'anni dopo la sua publicazione, ad esser condannato per erroneo: siche avevo in pensiero di amplificarmi con maggior commodita e tempo, apportandone altri riscontri, riordinandolo e distinguendolo in altra migliore forma e disposizione. Ma una celeste voce mi risveglio e risolvette in nebbia tutti li miei confusi ed avviluppati fantasmi, &c. i.e.

"I happened to compose it whilst the thoughts of those reverend divines were taken up about suppressing Copernicus's book, and condemning the opinion of the motion of the earth, maintained in the said book, and which, at that time, I held to be true. And those gentlemen were pleased to suppress the book, and declare the said opinion false, and repugnant to the holy scriptures. Sensible, at present, of the great duty and propriety of conforming to the determinations of our superiors, as guided by higher light and knowledge than my low genius can reach, I look on this composition, which I now send you, as only a fiction, or indeed a dream; and as such your highness will receive it. However, as poets sometimes, so I likewise found a complacency in this trifle of mine. And as I had written it, and imparted it to cardinal Orsini and a few others, I afterwards gave a small number of copies of it to persons of rank, lest some, and they perhaps dissident from our church, should be for assuming this whim of mine to themselves , as has been the case of many of my inventions. Persons of rank can testify, that this chimera was first hatched in my brain. This piece, which I send your highness, is truly a sketch which I wrote in haste, and when I hoped that Copernicus's book, fourscore years after the publication of it, would not have been condemned as erroneous; so that I had some thoughts of bestowing more time on it, enlarging it with fresh arguments, and digesting it into another form and a better disposition; but, as it were, a voice from heaven awakening me, all my schemes and visions vanished into air," &c.

The house of St. Mark, in the church of which lie Galileo's remains, was the residence of a person very famous in another kind, Jerome Savonarola. The nature of his catastrophe, he having been burned as a heretic, would not admit of paying invocations to him; but in respect to his memory, the chamber he lived in has been made a chapel; and in a corner of this chapel is a picture of him, which, from a stroke by a sabre on his head, is mistaken for that of St. Peter the Martyr; but we were apprised that it represents Savonarola. In going to this chapel, I was perfectly astonished at seeing some fresco paintings, on old walls, performed in the fifteenth century, as I was told, by one Fra. Angelico, a religious in this house. This surname he had acquired by his excellency in painting angels: his touch indeed appeared to have all Barrocio and Guido's delicacy and beauty. An original letter from Bruzzini to Varchi, in Magliabechi's library, relates, that as Bruzzini was returning from Rome with Machiavel, they were told of Savonarola's being put to death; and that Machiavel thereupon cried out, Non sapeva il povero uomo che gli profeti disarmati capitano tutti male, &c. "The poor man did not know that all prophets, if not seconded by arms, come to an unfortunate end," &c. I have read elsewhere, that Savonarola, challenging, in full senate, one of his adversaries to pass a large fire with him, that it might be seen, by a divine judgment, which side was in the right; a senator, John Canacci by name, moved, that it would be better to make the trial a large vessel full of water, as attended no danger; and the miracle would be non less decisive in favour of him who should come out without being wetted.

The cathedral's steeple, built from a design of Giotto, is at the lower part adorned with four statues of Donatello, representing four eminent persons his cotemporaries, whose names however are lost. That of a little bald-headed old man, he always looked on as his master-piece; and indeed it wants only speech.

The walls along both sides of the nave of the cathedral are, like those of the Pritaneum of Athens, covered with portraits, epitaphs, and inscriptions, in honour of persons distinguished in arts, arms, and literature, though the greater part of them be not buried in the church. On one side is a marble bust of Brunelesco, who was the architect in building the dome. Next to that, the picture of Giotto, with two panegyrics, in one of which, by Politianus, is this fine verse:

Naturae deerat nostrae quod desuit arti.

Then some inscription in honour of generals, who distinguished themselves in the service of the republic : and this respectable file is closed by the busto of Marcilius Ficinus, the reviver of the Platonic philosophy. The opposite side exhibits the portraits of warriors, and that of Dante by Giotto his cotemporary, whose talents occasioned that fine reflexion which the poet has introduced in the eleventh Canto of his Purgatory.

O vana Gloria dell' humane posse,

Com' poco verde su la cima dura,

Se non e giunta dall'etati grosse!

Credette Cimabue nella pintura

Tener lo campo; ed ora ha Giotto il grido,

Si che la fama di colui oscura.

Cosi ha tolto l'uno all'altro Guido

La gloria della lingua; e forse e nato

Chi l'uno e l'altro caccera di nido.

This portrait of Dante is an homage which the republic of Florence, by a public decree, paid to the memory of one it had banished, and who died in exile (*see the article of Ferrara). The decree even ordered, that out of public money should be erected to him, in the cathedral, & in luogo honorato, un marmoreo, et artificiosamente sculto sepulchro, con quelle statue e segni che lo potessero rendere ornatissimo, i.e. " and in some honourable place, a marble tomb, of a fine sculpture, and with statues and emblems, so as to render it a very ornamental piece." This we are informed of by Landini in his prolegomena on Dante's poem, where he strongly urges the execution of the decree in every point.

To this poet Florence has paid a farther mark of respect, by instituting in its university a professorship, whose province is to explain his work, the public veneration for which seems to have been heightened by its antiquated style and obscure phrases.

This regard of the Florentines is the more estimable, as having prevailed over their personal reasons for resentment against a poem, which, in the author's intention, was a downright satire on the government and its principal members, and a caricatura of the manners of his compatriots of both sexes. This was doubtless his meaning in giving his poem the name of a Comedy ; whereas he calls Virgil's Aeneid a Tragedy , though his argument be infinitely more tragical than that of the Aeneid.

Hell , of which he had composed the seven first cantos before his banishment, certainly contributed no less to it, than the haughtiness (z)

(z) S'io vo, answered he, chi sta: s'io sto, chi va.

With which he rejected the public's choice of him for an embassy to Boniface VIII. It is highly probable, that this beginning of his work had transpired. He finished it in his exile, with the addition of Purgatory and Paradise , which, from a necessity of employing himself, he added to his first plan, without departing from his original intention, which he carefully concealed under a multitude of theological and mystical questions.

The part of the convent of St. Laurence, which makes the first lobby of the Medicean library, is decorated with a marble statue of the famous historian Paulus Jovius, as big as life, and by Francesco San-Gallo, one of the first masters of the Florentine school. In the front of Guicchardini, now Altoviti palace, are fifteen pilasters, each bearing a busto in the manner of the ancient Hermeses. Each of these bustos represents some illustrious Florentine. On the ground floor stand five lawyers, philosophers, or literati: the first story is filled by five historians; and in the second are seen five poets, or polite writers; Dante, Petrarch, Boccacio, Monsignor de la Casa, and Lewis Alamani.

The office-palace, where the several courts are held, and which was built by the great Cosmo I. from a plan of the celebrated Vasari, has niches in all its piers, where the grand duke intended to set up statues of the most celebrated Florentines. His death defeated so commendable a scheme, and the niches remain void.

Galileo's tomb is not the only proof of the Florentines constant regard for the glory of their worthies. In Magliabechi's library is a marble busto of its founder, very well executed, and said to be a perfect likeness: it looks however to be rather the jole of some wild beast than the head of a man; though, amidst all the hideousness of its features, the countenance is full of expression.

The above monument is of our times, together with that erected by the marquis Nicolini to M. Joseph Avarani, one of the most learned lawyers whom the university of Pisa ever produced, and whose works are not inferior to those of Cujas himself, uniting the embellishments of philology, the gravity of history, the rigours of criticism, and the precision of the higher sciences, with a profound knowledge of the Roman laws, and of their analogy with the law of nature and of nations. He had been the marquis's preceptor; and his grateful pupil had consecrated his image in the convent of Santa Croce in an excellent marble medallion, which struck me the more, as at the very first sight it shews the face, features, and every particular of Mr. Voltaire, so that no picture was ever so like him, as he is to this medallion.

The marquis Nicolini has carried his acknowledgements still farther. On the 18 th of April, 1745, he delivered, before the academy de la Crusca, a panegyric on this matter, containing forty quarto pages of letter-press.

To this account of the monuments (a)

(a) Among the ways of perpetuating the memory of its great men, it will readily be thought, that Florence has not omitted epitaphs: but I shall only set down that on Varchi, so both are true, and well expressed.


Bened. Varchio, Poetae, Philosopho, Historico,

Qui cum ann. LXIII.

Summa Animi Libertate,

Sine Nulla Avarizia Aut Ambitione Vixisset,

Obiit Non Invitus,

XVI: Kal. Decemb. D.DC.LXVI.

Which gratitude has erected to merit, I must add,


That which decorates the porch of the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. The first thought of this foundation for the relief of distress was owing to an aged servant maid, who laid it before a rich widow of the Portinari family, with whom she lived. The widow closed with the proposal, and immediately employed part of her estate in beginning to carry it into execution (b),

(b) In 1290

Publicly owning that it was the solicitations of her maid which had brought her to this disposal of her fortune. On the death of the old servant, the directors of this foundation buried her in their church, under a white marble tomb-stone, on which was her image in relievo: but this in time wearing away by the continual friction of feet, it has been removed, and set in the porch-wall of the house.


The image of a mule, at the end of the portico which forms the ground floor of Pitti palace, with a distich on the base, importing that the mule represented by that statue served with remarkable vigour and diligence in building the palace, being never backward to whatever service it was put to. Of this kind is another inscription, consecrated by a Venetian, in one of the quays along the Arno, to the memory of a horse killed under him at the siege of Florence in the sixteenth century. Such monuments however are in some degree culpable, if excess of gratitude can be so; though their founders may indeed plead the example of the Egyptians, Athenians, and of the emperor Adrian, who, according to Spartian, was so fond of his horses and dogs, as to erect monuments to them.

It is from this perpetual regard to posterity, that the Florentines have for some centuries past invented a way for the preservation of those instruments, which relate to the substance and ranks of the citizens, the want of which reflects an air of barbarism on the most civilized northern countries.

For such instruments there are two repositories; one, in the neighbourhood of the palace above the church of Or San-Michele; the other, in the vast apartments over the new market built in 1548, and in that part of the city which the Arno separates from the palace.

Every fourth year, the notaries of the city of Florence and all the Tuscan territories are obliged to deliver in, at the first of these repositories, a duplicate of all their instruments. On the death of a notary, his Protocol , bound, numbered and signed, is transmitted to that in the new market. Thus, by means of the distance of the two repositories, the choice of insulated places for them, and the most scrupulous precautions against any accident by fire, Florence has authenticated duplicates of all instruments and writings of any concerns to society; and in case one of the repositories should be totally burned down, it would not affect the public.

The order in these repositories is excellently adapted to the ends of their establishment: each has a double repertory; one of matters, the other of names; and by means of these repertories, if a pedigree is to be drawn up, however long and complex, it is but one morning's work, and stands good in courts of law, on a bare certificate given by the minute-keeper who makes out the duplicate. With the like ease are procured juridical vouchers on all matters, where a recourse to instruments is necessary. The finding of every instrument being very easy, and soon dispatched, the fee for the certificate is very small; but this is made up to the minute-keepers from the prodigious multitude of consultations, occasioned by the facility of being satisfied. Every private person, when he wants a connected indication of those very vouchers which are in his possession, immediately repairs to the repository. In a word, this double repository is a public sanctuary, and a common record-office, where all families and every citizen have authenticated vouchers of their possessions and stations.

Whatever relates to the titles of families, is preserved with no less care. The several quarters, and most of the streets of the city of Florence, still bear the name of the first families who lived in them. The palaces unalterably retain the names of those who built them; and to the second and third possessors they are, in some measure, but as inns. The manner of denoting is thus: Palazzo di tal, poi di tal, oggi di tal, i.e. "The palace of such a one, afterwards such a one's, at present such a one's." This attention reaches to all monuments of the first owners; so that a front with their coat of arms on it cannot be pulled down, even though the second owner should intend to build a new front on a larger plan, unless he take care that the new front be in the best manner, agreeable to the former. A very striking proof of the power of the laws and customs, in this respect, is Pitti palace: this immense building, of which the palace of Luxemburg at Paris is a copy, has for above two hundred years belonged to the house of Medicis, and been the mansion of all the Great Dukes, yet without any alteration of the name; it is still Pitti palace.

By means of these precautions for the preservation of family monuments and vouchers, the descent of nobility of Florence is perhaps, of all countries in Europe, the best ascertained, some houses excepted, which avail themselves of their antiquity to derive their origin so far back as Charlemagne. Every one knows the beginning and rise of each, and the different degrees of aggrandizement, splendor, and declension, which it has gone through. From these common notions it is, that Landini, in his notes on the sixteenth canto of Dante's Paradise , has given a large account of the ancient houses of Florence, even so far as specifying the quarters where stood their principal residence. Accordingly it is to Florence that all the favourites of fortune in Italy, go to look out for ancestors of repute. A resemblance of name immediately concludes these contracts, where both sides are gainers. This is matter of laughter at Florence; but the adopted Florentine, in his own country, plumes himself with a botched genealogy, in which the seams are not visible to every eye.

In the best days of the republic of Florence, trade, banking and ever-active industry, were the nurture and support of the nobility. Old Cosmo de Medicis came to be the chief man in the state, because he was the first trader and the first banker of Florence, if not of all Europe. Peter his son, and Laurence his grandson, continued trade and banking. All the public and private edifices of any note were built by merchants, and the greater part of them members of the Arte della Lana , or woollen trade. To this manufacture the republic of Florence chiefly owed its grandeur, and all its noble and ornamental undertakings. The names of the houses which were at the head of the paper trade, the linen, wood, tile, cheese, and coal trades, still subsist. In a word, N. Capponi, who, no longer ago than the sixteenth century, was Gonfalonier, and the first man in the republic then newly formed by the Florentines, during the inprisonment of Clement VII. non aveva mai, non che lasciata, intermessa la mercatura, "so far from going out of trade, never intermitted trading." See the end of the ninth book of Varchi's history.

The permanency of the sovereignty in the Medicis family, and the alliances with German and Spanish princesses, gave a turn to their ideas of commerce. In imitation of the sovereign, the most opulent houses went out of trade, quitted manufactures, and preferred chivalry to wealth acquired and perpetuated by industry. In order to secure their commercial gains to their descendants, they availed themselves of the liberty allowed by the ancient Roman laws, to make perpetual and gradual intails ad infinitum ; so that the relations did not succeed to the intails, as in common successions, but as in the order prescribed by the testator, which thus remained a perpetual law to his family. Cosmo I. opened a resource to younger brothers in the order of St. Stephen: the church offered others to those who would enter into holy orders. Many went abroad, and rose to considerable fortunes. Still population was on the ebb; and Florence's whole wealth not only was in the hands of a few houses, but by law incommunicable to new-raised families. Since the emperor's becoming sovereign of Tuscany, he has, agreeably to Justinian's law, reduced intails to four degrees. What is to be expected from this new arrangement? Ipsi viderint.

Villani lays open to us a main spring of the primitive riches of the Florentines in their way of living c)

c) Concerning this see Canto XV. and XVI. of Dante's Paradise.

In the thirteenth century: Vivevano sobri, says he, e di grosse vivande, e con piccole spese, e molti costumi grossi e rudi; e di grossi panni vestivano loro e le loro donne: Molti portavano le pelle scoperte sanza panno e con berrette in capo, e tutti con usatti in piede: "They lived soberly, and with little expence: their common fare was butchers meat; and many of their ways were homely, and quite unpolished: both they and their wives wore corse stuffs, many round caps on their heads, but all wore spatterdashes." He adds, that a hundred livres was a creditable portion, and three hundred a fortune; and that their daughters were never married till past their twentieth year, being at that age acquainted with all the parts of housewifery: Con la loro grossa vita e poverta, faccienno maggiori piu virtuodiose cose, che non sono fatte a tempi nostri, con piu morbidessa e con piu ricchessa. "Amidts this poverty and coarse way of living, they performed greater things, in the way of the fine arts, than are done in our time, with all its luxury and riches." They were free; and as among the first Romans, if individuals were poor, the republic was opulent:

Privatus illis census erat brevis

Commune magnum

It was people living and clothed as above, who conquered Tuscany, and embellished Florence with so many stately and useful edifices.

The decrease of wealth has gradually brought Florence to its ancient temperance, and all the parsimony of the thirteenth century. Since it no longer being the residence of a sovereign, or court, luxury has been superseded by a modest plainness in clothing; and some persons in very good circumstances, as at Rome, even wear an ecclesiastical garb, though not belonging to the church.

As to their table, I have often heard Lombards with a sneer extol the Florentine suppers, which, say they, consist of a few sallad-leaves, gathered by the guests, themselves in pots standing at the window, and garnished with a little wild endive. I have dined at some houses in Florence, where, besides plenty and goodness, every thing was served up extremely neat; the wine excellent; and what improved the relish of the whole, was that festivity inherent in the Florentines. I must farther add, that, in the whole course of our travels, we never found an inn where we fared so well, were so well attended, and the bills so reasonable, as at Florence: an evident proof of the plenty, and perhaps of the superabundancy of provisions.

Part of our evenings we used to spend at a coffee-house, among persons whose acquaintance was of great use to us, and whom it was highly entertaining to see together. They divert themselves with banters of all kinds, giving and taking very genteelly. The celebrated Dr. Lami, the greatest scholar in all Tuscany, used to come in for his share, both actively and passively, as if raillery had been the sole business of his life.

Portions of young women are not yet reduced to what they were in the thirteenth century: I however knew a Florentine, a man of family and reputation, who chose to marry on the ancient footing, saying he was for being master at home.

The theatres at Florence, as in the other parts of Italy, are a party matter. It has two droll-opera houses, which as rivals strive to surpass each other; and an Italian play-house, the harlequin of which was a creditable shopkeeper dealing in all kinds of millinery ware. Mademoiselle Radicati, one of the first dancers in Italy, gave us an opportunity of paying tribute to Florence, which we did by a glee addressed to her in the name of a doctor, who was one of the retinue of some abbots of the first distinction, returning from the conclave. It was a dozen of verses, none of the best, but the softest our muse could produce.

Mentioning verses puts me in mind of a conversation with a Florentine noble, a man of taste, and who, though he had never been at Paris, spoke better French than I, and was thoroughly acquainted with the best French books. I was lamenting to him my leaving Italy, without having ever been able to enter into the measure, the energy, and the harmony of Italian poetry. "The like reproach," answered he, "lies against me with regard to French poetry: Chapelain's, Brebeuf's, Racine's, Rousseau's verses, those of La Pucelle, Zara , &c. are all alike to my ear; not the least difference does it perceive in them. To me it is only so much rhyming prose."

During our stay at Florence, the Arno, swelled by rains and by the waters of the Chiana, which the old Romans divided between the Arno and the Tiber, overflowed up to the first story of some of the houses. It was a general desolation: the bale goods in the custom-house, and in many warehouses, floated; boats were dispatched with provisions to those parts which had been surprised by the inundation: yet such damages were but slight, in comparison to what the country suffered; dunghills, cattle, trees, and wrecks of houses, driving down the Arno. On the ebbing away of the waters, the lower streets, and the courts of the houses in them, were covered with an ochreous sediment three or four inches deep. Florence, we were told, is subject to this calamity once in twenty years; though, in all ages, a thousand projects have been proposed for preventing or diminishing it. The only certain remedy is, to deepen the Arno's bed along the whole course of it, from Florence to the sea: its bed has risen above six feet since the dispute in Tiberius's time, between the inhabitants of Rome and those of Tuscany; the subjects, particulars, and result of which, may be seen in M. Fontenelle's Elogium of Viviani.

This inundation occasioned great repairs to be made in the damaged houses, without respecting the coarse red crosses with which the socle towards the street, of almost all the buildings in Florence, is daubed. The only drift of these crosses is, to restrain passengers in a city, where the air is no less diuretic than it is anodyne at Naples. This old custom at Florence clears up Aretine's jest in his comedy del Marescalco: Che un cavaliere senza entrata e un muro senza croci, scompisciato da ognuno. "That a gentleman without a fortune is, like a wall without a cross, pissed upon by everybody." And this joke he repeats in a letter to the bishop of Vaison, September 17, 1530.

In Leandro Alberti's Account of Illustrious Florentines, I was surprised at his sedulity to introduce a great number of Thomists, Scotists, and the like, doctors now quite forgotten: and yet not a single word for the venerable and learned Boccaccio , as Brantome styles him. He has been more mindful of Machiavel, whom he mentions as author of the History of Florence, of the Life of Castruccio, of the Prince, con molte alter degne opere; "with many other excellent works." But the same Brantome used ironically to call him the venerable preceptor of princes and men in power. Some particulars of his life, which I collected at Florence, are as follows.

He was born in that city on the 3 rd of May, 1469. His father was Bernardo, doctor of laws; and Bartholomea, daughter of Stephen Nelli, his mother. He lost his father in his seventeenth year. The greater part of his youth he spent as clerk under Marcello Vergilio Adriani, secretary to the republic of Florence. He was at Nantz in Britany in 1501, and in the following year married Marietta Corsini, Lewis's daughter, by whom he had several children. In 1520, he succeeded Adriani as secretary to the republic. In 1527, he was dismissed from this post, and died the twenty-second of June the same year. His Prince, which was published at Rome in 1515, under the inspection and privilege of Leo X. and dedicated to Laurence de Medicis duke of Urbino, was not put into the Index Expurgatorius till the pontificate of Clement VIII. His other works were posthumous. The comedy of La sporta , which appeared in gelli's name, is attributed to him. M. nelli told me he had some discorsi of machiavel on Caesar's Commentaries, after the manner of those written by him on Livy. Both Machavel and Boccace are the less to be omitted among illustrious Florentines, the Florentine disposition being a mixture of those two authors.

To Galileo, a Florentine, Europe owes the renewal of that philosophy, the first tracks of which had been opened to the Greeks of Ionia and Italy by Thales and Pythagoras; and, like those sages, he became the head of a school, which at present obtains in all the scientifical academies. It was concentrated, during twenty years, in the society formed in 1650 by the great duke Ferdinand, and which afterwards was modelled into the academy del Cimento , instituted in 1657, by cardinal Leopold de Medicis. The works and discoveries of this academy are known among all the learned world. It originally consisted of seven members, most of them Galileo's pupils.

Paul del Buono, president of the imperial mint, was the author of the experiments on the compressibility of water, and introduced into Tuscany the Egyptian manner of hatching chickens by means of artificial and graduated heat.

Candido del Buono his brother, priest of Stephen's at Campoli, invented the air-pump, and another machine for measuring and comparing the evaporations of various fluids.

Alexander Marsigli, professor of philosophy in the university of Pisa.

Vincent Viviani, a panegyric of whom may be seen among those of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, spoken by M. Fontenelle.

Francis Redi, known by several volumes of great erudition, employed himself chiefly in extracting salts from the ashes of vegetables.

Count Lorenzo Magalotti, secretary to the academy.

Abbé Antony Oliva, a Calabrian, quitted Florence, and went to Rome, where he practised physic, and became first physician to Clement IX. but being afterwards implicated in Monsignor Gabrieli's affair, he was apprehended by the Holy Office, and died in prison.

John Alfonso Borelli, a Neapolitan, known by his works, and disputes with Viviani, and among these who laboured most for the improvement and honour of the academy.

Count Charles Rinaldini, of Ancona.

With those who had a share in the labours of this society may be classed Dominic Cassini, Nicholas Stenon, and M: Auzout; whom attachment to the higher sciences drew from France, and detained a long time in Italy.

The inquiries and discoveries of Don Benedetto Castelli, Evangelista Torricelli, and Nicholas Aggiunti, Galileo's first pupils, belong in some measure to this society, in the labours of which they would have assisted along with their acquaintance and fellow-pupils, had not their death been prior to its establishment.

This account of the academy del Cimento I owe to Mr. Nelli, who has since published it himself in a quarto pamphlet of one hundred and forty pages, called Saggio di Storia Litteraria Fiorentina nel secolo XVII. He it was who erected to Galileo the monument of which I have given an account. He is possessed of a prodigious quantity of letters and small pieces of that great man, not yet printed, and which he intends to publish with his life, digested from the information contained in that philosopher's work, and his correspondence with all the learned of his time. Such a collection may well excite impatience for its publication.

Without the most remote intention to derogate from Galileo's reputation, as esteemed the Thales of the philosophic school of Florence, I take the liberty to say that he would possibly be only its Anaxagoras, were the origin of it carried up to the first of those two Pauls, of whom I have spoken from Landini, concerning the meridian of Florence cathedral: this gnomon, which fixed the attention, and soon raised the admiration, of such a judge as M. de la Condamine, who declared it the greatest performance of the kind at present in Europe, bespeaks, in him who undertook and executed it, a judgment, knowledge, and talents, the more wonderful, as far superior to the age in which he lived: exortus uti aethereus sol. If such a man has traced the various sciences implied in such a work, up to their source; if of himself he has supplied the instructions of antiquity, which in his time lay still buried; if he has anticipated the experiments which have led after-ages to processes demanding no less genius than precision; if he has left works, if he has formed disciples (and all this Landini assures us he has done); he must, as prior to Galileo, be acknowledged the head of the Florentine philosophic school.

Few are so well qualified as M. Nelli to make the Florentine acquainted with the disciples, the labours, and discoveries, of their illustrious countryman. Galileo's glory will not be in the least obscured by sharing Paul's; and that of Florence will receive a new irradiation.

In my account of the foregoing particulars, I cannot be chargeable with any breach of the esteem, respect, and veneration, which a view of them inspires; yet am I far from having come up to the sentiments of the Florentines for whatever belongs to their country. In this they are downright Athenians: Florence, in their estimate, is to Europe what Isocrates, in his famous panegyric, makes Athens to the rest of Greece. The finest performance of all kinds they see in their city; what other parts afford is mere aukwardness and barbarism: they have created, they have invented, contrived, discovered, and made every thing. In their ancestors this was a commendable pride, as the principle of their many beautiful and grand performances.

Among other instances of foreign barbarism, they make themselves very merry with the behaviour of Don Carlos's confessor at the door of the Medicean library. This confessor, a Cordelier, attended the young prince when he went to take possession of the Tuscan dominions. Being the only person in the suite, the cut of whose vesture promised some scholarship, the librarian concluding he must be long to see one of the most splendid monuments, which the munificence of princes has dedicated to literature, immediately waited on him with a very respectful invitation. He received the compliment tolerably well, and a day was fixed: The director had got together all the most eminent scholars in the city; and the confessor, after partaking of a very genteel collation, moved towards the library, followed by such a respectable company. On coming to the door, he stopped, and gazing round the ample salon, he called out to the director, "Mr. Librarian, have you got the book of the Seven Trumpets here?" The director made an answer in the negative; and the whole company owned, with some confusion, that they knew nothing of such book. "Well, then," said the confessor, turning back, "your whole library is not worth a pipe of tobacco." No time was lost to get an account of this book, which was found to be a collection of pious stories, all manifestly apocryphal, and put into Spanish by a Franciscan, for the use of the very lowest people.

It is from an attachment to all the traditions of their ancestors, that the Florentines still retain the guttural pronunciation, changing C into H strongly aspirated, and which was so peculiar to Florence, even in Dante's time, that he said the people in the other world knew him to be a Florentine by the rattling of his throat. To judge of this affectation from the rules laid down by Cicero (* De Orat. L. iii) for pronunciation, one readily perceives in it those sonos, asperos, anhelatos, vastos, hiulcos, which, says he, quosdam delectant, quo magis antiquitatem retinere videantur. The Romans pronunciation, to which Cicero was for having the orator form himself, had even in those days the suavitatem pressam, aequabilem, lenem, in qua nihil offendi, nihil displicere, nihil animadverti poterat, nihil sonare aut olere peregrinum. These passages may serve as a comment to the trite proverb, Lingua Toscana in bocca Romana.

The trade at Florence is at present reduced to an extreme low ebb, in comparison to what it was formerly. L'arte della lana, or the woollen manufactory, to which Florence owes the greater part of its opulence and splendour, now scarcely supplies the common people. As to the apparel for ornament or service, that is intirely English cloth.

Of silk Tuscany produces an immense quantity, which, though of such an excellent quality, was exported raw. The regency however, to keep such a valuable commodity at Florence, and thus encourage industry, has prohibited that exportation. Accordingly, former manufactures are revived, and new ones set up. All exports of this kind, as sattins, damasks, velvets, &c. are well wrought, the colours fine, and the patterns in a good taste.

Jewelry and porcelaine, the manufactories of which have continued in Tuscany from the ancient Etruscans, together with intagliatas, employ a great many hands, though they cannot be accounted considerable branches of trade.

Dying was formerly the more considerable, as the territory of Tuscany produces a plant said to be a good substitute to indigo, and which might easily be multiplied, so as to supply all home wants, and at the same time furnish considerable exports.

The wine in the neighborhood of Florence has a great run all over Italy. It is both stomachic and light, and thus unites generosum & lene, which recommended a wine to the bottle-men of antiquity. This must be a very considerable article in trade, the price of it being pretty low at Florence.

The Jews have a ghetto for the rascality of that nation; and they who are able to keep a house in town, are on a footing with the other citizens; intermixed in the different classes of trade; capable of municipal offices with other merchants and dealers; and distinguishing themselves by punctuality, candour and probity; in a word, by sentiments from which they seem to think themselves dispensed, in those countries where they are treated with oppression and ignominy. The great dukes admitted them to settle at Florence, without subjecting them to those opprobrious marks, which in most other places distinguish them from Christians. In short, they are at Florence, what the Roman-catholics are in England, and the Calvinists in France, citizens contributing to the population, the wealth, and splendor of the state.

The actors, singers, and dancers, of both sexes at the play-houses, in Florence, instead of being useless members to society, stumbling-blocks and stones of offence, follow trades, the play-houses being open only at certain times in the year; and this, not affording a subsistence, is considered only as a bye advantage to them, and not a fixed engagement to idleness. Their dramatic talents likewise improve by this twofold character, acting as much on their own account as that of the public, and not being forced, by mere necessity, to expose themselves by taking on them a part for which they are not qualified. The harlequin, for instance, one of the best and most entertaining actors I ever saw of the kind, kept a very well-accustomed shop, with a warehouse handsomely stocked. I have seen his books, and they were kept with all the exactness of the complete tradesman.

Bookselling was once a capital branch of the Florentine trade: all librarians are acquainted with the Torrentius and Giuntos editions, and will hardly, I believe, agree with the character given of the head of the latter house by one of his countrymen, and his cotemporary (* Varchi Hist. Flor. L. ii.). Thomaso Giunta non meno avaro que ricco, era unicamente occupato ne' grossi guadagni della sua, piu tosto utile, che onorevole stamperia, i.e. "Thomas Giunto, being no less covetous than rich, minded nothing but the great gains accruing to him from his printing, which, if useful, was not very honourable." The present Giunto is a French bookseller, of the name of Boucharde. The former Florentine book-trade turned almost entirely on the Florentine productions. There are besides the writings of poets, artists, lawyers, &c. about a hundred works written by Florentines, and printed at Florence, within the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on the general and particular history of Florence.

Among these historians Varchi claims a particular distinction. His work makes a folio of six hundred and forty pages, though the subject of it be only the History of Florence under the pontificate of Clement VII. that is, a relation of what that city performed and suffered at that time, in defence of its liberty. The Greek historians of the best ages never produced any thing more engaging, or better written; and to this must be added the very rare merit of impartiality and truth (d)

(d) The speeches which Varchi has interspersed in his history, may be justified by the rules made use of by Mr. D'Ablancourt, to justify those of Thucydides: "When," says he ," the dignity and importance of the subject fixes you, you hate whatever breaks the thread of it; but when it contains only common matter, you have recourse to other entertainments, and, as it were, resting -places in a long journey."

At Florence we got scent of a strange object of trade, the management and particulars of which, however, we could never come at. The master of our inn was gone to Rome with a youth, whom he had brought up from childhood to music, after causing him to undergo the operation usual in such cases. Whether he had taken him from some hospital of foundlings, with the formalities observed in those houses on the disposal of the bastards and orphans committed to their care; whether he had bought him of his parents; whether he was going to dell him at Rome, or only procure him a place, bargaining for a share of the emoluments, to the amount of his disbursements, and a profit answerable to the hazard he had run; these were circumstances we could not discover: but we heard enough to fill us with astonishment and horror, that such a trade was carried on in a christian country!

Among the multitude of master-pieces of art, and such excellent regulations which owe either their birth or improvement to Florence, I have omitted financing; the importance and advantages of which must be estimated by the brilliant and solid fortunes gained by it, and not from the calamity of the countries which have been the theatre of its speculations, inquiries and operations.

This science, with which our northern countries are little acquainted, was for a long time cultivated by the Florentines, who managed it with all that dexterity, address, and sagacity, for which they were distinguished in trade. It was one of the principal resources in their last struggles for their liberty, in the years 1530 and 1531. Those who followed the fortune of Catharine de Medicis into France, finding the country fallow, began tilling it with financing; which lasted till part of the reign of Lewis XIII. The chief contractors were Florentines, either such as had quitted their country, or still kept house at Florence: the very terms in financing speak the place of its origin: most of these terms, and the sacramental words, are borrowed from the Italian.

The Florentines complain in their turn of being tilled by those who have availed themselves of their instructions; but the remembrance of what is past should be some alleviation to them under any present grievances. Financing may perhaps fare as other sciences, ruined and lost by being extended.

The materials published on this site can be used freely. In case of publication, websites included, please request the authorization of the Teachers Resources Center.