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Florence is not made to furnish anything of peculiar interest. On the subject of paintings, we have determined not to touch, seeing that we have the fortune, good or bad, of differing altogether from M. Simond in his few and feeble essays in connoisseurship. He speaks of the Tuscans as a people proverbially mild', and mentions as an instance of their kindness and tenderness of disposition, their horror of capital punishments. Under the government of the excellent Leopold, it was once found necessary to deliver over a criminal of the most atrocious character to the extreme vengeance of the law. On the day of his execution, Florence appeared empty. All who could with convenience leave the town, took flight, and the remainder crowded to the churches to pray for the sufferer. The genius of ancient abuses has been again at work in Tuscany; the Code Napoleon is abolished in favour of the old Leopoldine system; the monastic institutions have been re-invested in their privileges and properties, while the idle and superstitious are repeopling their cells. Discontent is everywhere expressed; but in Italy, as M. Simond observes, these feelings seldom break out into open violence; and when they do, insurrection always fails of success from want of union and concert among the people. When Murat marched upon the Austrians, all was quiet ; and his own highly disciplined Neapolitans took flight at the first symptoms of fighting. The Milanese were passive; and it appears exceedingly improbable that the petty jealousies and provincial partialities which divide Italy, should, in our time at least, be so far subdued, as to allow of a determined and durable combination of Italian patriots. M. Simond is hardly extensive enough in his details concerning land and agriculture; and he occasionally refers for ampler information on this subject to the valuable work of Lullin de Chateauvieux, reviewed by us in our Number for December 1819, and which we again recommend to onr readers as affording, in conjunction with the Agriculture Tos
cane' of Sismondi, the best account to be obtained of Italian husbandry and rural economy. Of the celebrated Val d'Arno, the theme of poetry, and the attraction of travellers, M. Simond is by no means warm in his admiration. It is populous and prosperous, but the good circumstances of its inhabitants are referrible, not to the minute subdivision of the land, but to the straw-hat and linen manufactures, which supply the absence of the active and constant demand that, in the better days of Florence, when her fleets and those of Pisa brought riches from every point of the compass, made the valley of the Arno, lying between these two flourishing cities, an uninterrupted garden. It seems now to be exceedingly unpicturesque; the road bor, dered by stone-walls, and the cultivation deficient in verdure
and branching foliage. Yet, in other respects, it is a gratifying scene, though with the usual drawbacks on Italian prosperity.
• It was Sunday, and the whole population of Val d'Arno was abroad, dressed in all their best. The women, with clear brown and almost fair complexions, and hands that looked strangers to the labours of the field, wore linen as white as snow; short silk stays, and large straw hats, on which either a knot of riband or a bunch of such flowers as the season still afforded, was tastefully attached. Many were driving, to church I presume, in one-horse carts. Not ten miles without a town, nor two without a village, and rarely more than two or three hundred yards without a cottage, which even to an English eye might have appeared tolerably neat and pretty-yet, amidst all these signs of prosperity, beggars, that plague of Italy, more numerous than ever, from the circumstance of their not being suffered at Florence under the eye of their sovereign, pursued us with incredible obstinacy. They were mostly big boys with scarcely a rag on, calling out in the lamentable sing-song of the trade, “ Fame! tanta fame! ” while their broad faces and capability of work belied their tale of woe. They thus, though not always, earn a bajocco with labour, which might have secured them a comfortable subsistence if applied in any other way. The level of the Val d'Arno is generally high enough to be salubrious, and mountains of a good shape screen it on the right towards Lucca; yet, in a picturesque point of view, this celebrated vale deserves but
For miles you travel between two stone walls, and the foreground is at best composed of small patches of ground in high cultivation, that is, without a blade of grass or a tree that is unclipped.'
We felt much disappointed at the very meagre description of the Campo Santo at Pisa. All that we are told of that singular spot, is comprised in a short paragraph, which contains nothing specific but the common-place information, that it was constructed in the thirteenth century, for the purpose of securing
an enormous heap of earth, brought from the Holy Land by the Pisans, on their return from the third crusade.'
It is vexatious to be told nothing more of one of the most striking remains of by-gone times, than that it is a rectangular court of ! 'vast size', that it is surrounded by a sort of Gothic arcade', and that the walls are 'painted in fresco, barbarously, yet with
great indications of genius.' Such slight and vague intimations only serve to awake the suspicion that a want of interest in the matter led to careless and cursory inspection. Concerning the building itself, with the strange mixture of styles in its cloister,—the Roman arch and pilasters, with the Gothic mullions and intersections, there is room for much inquiry; but the paintings contain within themselves a large and important section of the history of art. We shall extract from Forsyth's brief but spirited description, sufficient to inform our readers of the general character of this hallowed precinct. It may be ex
pedient to state previously, that the Campo Santo was, until of late years, the burial-ground of Pisa ; that it is an oblong square, surrounded with a large and lofty cloister of sixty-two arcades. The inclosed space is filled, to the depth of nine or ten feet, with the sacred earth of Palestine; and we are informed by M. Simond, that ' bodies buried in it are said to be safe from decay', while Eustace reports, that it is supposed to have the peculiar • quality of corroding the bodies deposited in it, and destroying • them in twice twenty-four hours.' So much for dependence on travellers. Such cloistered cemeteries as this', says Forsyth,' were the field where painting first appeared in the
dark ages, on emerging from the subterranean cemeteries of • Rome. In tracing the rise and genealogy of modern painting,
we might begin in the catacombs of the fourth century, and • follow the succession of pictures down to those of St. Pontian and Pope Julius ; then, passing to the Greek image-makers of the tenth and eleventh centuries, we should soon arrive at this • Campo Santo, which exhibits the art growing, through several
ages, from the simplicity of indigence to the simplicity of * strength. Here, the immensity of surface to be covered, forbade • all study of perfection, and only required facility and expedition, • The first pictures shew us what the artist was, when separated • from the workman. They betray a thin, timid, ill-fed pencil;
they present corpses rather than men, sticks rather than trees, • inflexible forms, flat surfaces, long extremities, raw tints, any. *thing but nature. As you follow the chronology of the wall
, you catch perspective entering into the pictures, deepening the back-ground, and then adjusting the groupes to the plans. You see the human figure first straight, or rather stretched; then 'fore-shortened, then enlarged: rounded, salient, free, various, 'expressive. Throughout this sacred ground, painting pre
serves the austerity of the Tuscan school: she rises sometimes ' to its energy and movement, she is nowhere sparing of figures, * and has produced much of the singular, the terrible, the impressive ;- but nothing that is truly excellent. Al the subjects are taken from Scripture, the Legends, or Dante; but in • depicting the life of a patriarch or a saint, the artists have
given us the dress, the furniture, and the humours of their own • .
Some of these frescos have been exposed to the open air for 500 years, and the earliest works are moulder' ing away from moisture. What pity that a country full of an' tiquaries and engravers should let such monunients perish ! without a remembrance !' The Leaning Tower is well described by M. Simond; and he ascribes, in common, as it should seem, with all judicious observers, its obliquity to the failure of its foundations. The ground is spongy; the land-springs lie but six feet below the surface; and several neighbouring buildings
of considerable elevation deviate considerably from the plumbline. If there were any reasonable doubt on the question, it would appear to be decided by the fact, that the holes left for the scaffolding, and still visible in the wall, are at right angles with the mural line.
M. Simond avails himself of his sojourn at Pisa, to discuss the eternal subject of cicisbeism, and to supply some rather interesting details in connexion with its effect on the public mind. The Italians stiffly maintain its innocence, but their defence is a lame attempt to gloss over an indefensible practice. Amongst ‘us,' they will say, 'a lady who should shew herself on the coach-box, sitting by the side of her coachman, would be
deemed lost to all sense of delicacy. Yet, we draw no such * inference in regard to English women who do so, because we
presume that it is the fashion in their own country, and that • with them it means no more than, with us, the tête-à-tête of a
lady and a cavaliere.' We confess ourselves to be among those who have no particular pleasure in seeing ladies on the driving-box of their own carriages, unless the husband or some relative should be the charioteer; but the very attempt to parry the condemnation of an infamous custom, by appealing to what cannot possibly be taken as any thing more than a trespass on fastidious delicacy, goes further than specific evidence to prove the demoralizing effects of the system. The same men who affect such a sensitive horror at a lady's contiguity to her coachman, would think nothing of ten thousand proximities of the same kind inevitably occurring in exterior life; and they hold guiltless the allowance of a mode which throws 'onefourth of the married females of Pisa into incessant private association with their avowed lovers, and, on the shallow pretext of pure platonicism, without interfering with their reception in the best society.
• Most of the ladies whom we met at Pisa in mixed society, were attended by gentlemen pointed out to us as their cavalieri serventi ; (cicisbeo, meaning properly a coxcomb, is rather injurious, and not used ;) and we have heard (whether in joke or not I cannot say) of some who had three in constant attendance,-il bello, il brutto, il buono; the first loves, the second goes on errands, the third pays; but in general, one individual unites the various offices. Not
many months ago, an unfortunate lady, who had only one cavaliere, was cruelly abandoned by him,-a very uncommon case ; and when we arrived at Pisa, the melancholy story still filled every heart, and employed every tongue. Although far from young, having a grown-up son, she still retained some share of beauty; but the faithless cavaliere, after wearing her chains for twenty years, had thought fit to take a wife to himself. Afraid to convey the fatal intelligence in person, he employed a friend : but at the first hint, she flew to punish the disloyal man, and might
have stabbed him, had he not been on his guard. From a window of his house, he saw her coming, escaped by a back-door, and did not return till very recently, when the storm was a little abated. In the mean time, the whole town paid visits of condolence to the forsaken lady, avowedly on the occasion; and the husband, who sympathizes with her as much as any one, finds great fault that he was not employed to break the matter to her, as it might, in that case, have been done with due delicacy and tenderness. They are not rich ; but the cavaliere kept his carriage, and had a box at the Opera, whither the lady went always, and her husband sometimes.'
The extensive stock-farm, on the borders of the sea, belonging to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, with its sandy soil and its groupes of camels, reminded M. de Chateauvieux of Asia and the crusades, Arabia and the desert: with M. Simond, they excite less poetical, but more tangible and profitable calculations. He suggests the employment of those useful animals in the deep, sandy plains of South America, where they would be at home in climate and situation, and perform much labour at small cost. Agriculture must be miserably conducted in the neighbourhood of Pisa, if it be true, as here stated, that the hand-cart and wheelbarrow are unknown.
The road from Florence to Rome leads through the upper division of the Val d'Arno, still more productive than the lower, and still more unpicturesque. Vallombrosa, however, M. Simond did not visit. In the neighbourhood of Arezzo, he crossed the lower part of the Chiana, a scene of improvement well worth describing.
• The valley of the Chiana, sixty miles in length and about three in breadth, was formerly a pestilential marsh, which, about the year 1525, Julian de Medici, afterwards Pope Clement VII., undertook to drain. The works, suspended during the civil dissensions of the country, were resumed in 1551, and with little intermission continued during the last 266 years. It was Torricelli, the learned successor of Galileo, who first thought of rendering inundation subservient to the draining of marshes; that is, of elevating, by means of alluvial deposites, the level of the land above that of water. Some mountainstreams, so muddy at certain seasons as to carry from three to nine parts of earth in one hundred of water, were made to deposit their sediment over the marshes; the water being detained between artificial embankments till it became clear, that is, about forty-eight hours. Upon an average, the general level of the valley has been raised four braccia, or about eight feet, by this occasional folding of water in the course of nearly three centuries ; and the whole accumulation is estimated at eight hundred and sixty-seven thousand cubic metres (something more than cubic yards) of earth.'
Terni, the Cascata delle Marmore, excited in our Traveller the same emotions of admiration which it can never fail to kindle in