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that those parts are almost constantly before the eye, on account of the necessity people are continually under of passing and repassing those bridges; whereas in London, whose river and bridges are far superior to any in France or Italy, people may live whole seasons, attend all the public amusements, and drive every day from one end of the town to the other, without ever seeing the Thames or the bridges, unless they go on purpose. For this reason, when a foreigner is asked which he thinks the finest city, Paris or London; the moment Paris is mentioned, the Louvre, and that striking part which is situated between the Pont Royal and Pont Neuf, presents itself to his imagination. He can recollect no part of London equal in magnificence to this; and ten to one, if he decides directly, it will be in favour of Paris; but if he takes a little more time, and compares the two capitals, street by street, square by square, and bridge with bridge, he will probably be of a different opinion. The number of inhabitants in Florence is calculated by some at eighty thousand. The streets, squares, and fronts of the palaces are adorned with a great number of statues; some of them by the best modern masters, Michael Angelo, Bandinelli, Donatello, Giovanni di Bologna, Benvenuto, Cellini, and others. A taste for the arts must be kept alive, independent almost of any other encouragement, in a city where so many specimens are continually before the eyes
of the inhabitants. There are towns in Europe, where statues, exposed night and day within the reach of the common people, would run a great risk of being disfigured and mutilated ; here they are as safe as if they were shut up in the great duke's gallery.
Florence has been equally distinguished by a spirit for commerce and for the fine arts; two things which are not always united: Some of the Florentine merchants formerly were men of vast wealth, and lived in a most magnificent manner.
One of them, about the middle of the fifteenth century, built that noble fabric, which, from the name of its founder, is still called the Palazzo Pitti. The
man was ruined by the prodigious expense of this building, which was immediately purchased by the Medici family, and has continued, ever since, to be the residence of the sovereigns. The gardens belonging to this palace are on the declivity of an eminence. On the summit there is a kind of fort, called Belvedere. From this,
a and from some of the higher walks, you have a complete view of the city of Florence, and the beauteous vale of Arno, in the middle of which it stands. The prospect is bounded on every side by an amphitheatre of fertile hills, adorned with country-houses and gardens. In no part of Italy, that I have seen, are there so many villas, belonging to private persons, as in the neighbourhood of this city; the habitations of the peasants, likewise, seem much more neat and commodious. The country all around is divided into small farms, with a neat farm-house on each. Tuscany produces a considerable quantity of corn, as well as excellent wine, and great quantities of silk. The peasants have a look of health and contentment; the natural beauty of the Italian countenance not being disgraced by dirt, or deformed by misery, the women in this country seem handsomer, and are, in reality, more blooming, than in other parts of Italy. When at work, or when they bring their goods to market, their hair is confined by a silk net, which is also much worn at Naples; but on holidays they dress in a very picturesque manner. They do not wear gowns, but a kind of jacket without sleeves. They have no other covering for the upper part of the arm but their shift sleeves, which are tied with riband. Their petticoats are generally of a scarlet colour. They wear ear-rings and necklaces. Their hair is adjusted in a becoming manner, and adorned with flowers. Above one ear they fix a little straw hat; and on the whole have a more gay, smart, coquetish air, than any country-girls I ever saw.
Churches, and palaces, and statues, are no doubt ornamental to a city; and the princes are praiseworthy who have taken pains to rear and collect them; but ihe great
est of all ornaments are cheerful, happy, living countenances. The taste is not general ; but, I thank God, I know some people who, to a perfect knowledge and unaf fected love of the fine arts, join a passion for a collection of this kind, who cannot, without uneasiness, see one face in a different style, and whose lives and fortunes are employed in smoothing the corrosions of penury and misfortune, and restoring the original air of satisfaction and cheerfulness to the human countenance.
Happy the people whose sovereign is inspired with this species of virtù.
HAVE generally, since our arrival at Florence, passed two hours every forenoon in the famous gallery. Connoisseurs, and those who wish to be thought such, remain much longer. But I plainly feel this is enough for me; and I do not think it worth while to prolong my visit after I begin to be tired, merely to be thought what I am not. Do not imagine, however, that I am blind to the beauties of this celebrated collection; by far the most valuable now in the world.
One of the most interesting parts of it, in the eyes of many, is the series of Roman emperors, from Julius Cæsar to Gallienus, with a considerable number of their empresses, arranged opposite to them. This series is almost complete; but wherever the bust of an emperor is wanting, the place is filled up by that of some other distinguished Roman. Such an honour is bestowed with great propriety on Seneca, Cicero, or Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus. But, on perceiving a head of Antinous, the favourite of Adrian, among them, a gentleman whispered me,--that minion, pointing to the head, would not have been admitted into such company anywhere but in Florence. It ought, however, to be remembered, that the gallery is not an Ægyptian court of judicature, where princes are tried, after death, for crimes committed dur.
ing their life. If the vices of originals had excluded their portraits, what would have become of the series of Roman emperors, and particularly of the bust of the great Julius himself, who was husband to all the wives and
The gallery is sacred to art, and every production which she avows, has a right to a place here.
Amidst those noble specimens of ancient sculpture, some of the works of Michael Angelo are not thought undeserving a place. His Bacchus and Faunus, of which the well-known story is told, have been by some preferred to the two antique figures representing the same.
The beautiful head of Alexander is universally admired by all the virtuosi ; though they differ in opinion with regard to the circumstance in which the sculptor has intended to represent that hero. Some imagine he is dying; Mr. Addison imagines he sighs for new worlds to conquer; others that he faints with pain and loss of blood from the wounds he received at Oxydrace. Others think the features express not bodily pain or languor, but sor. row and remorse, for having murdered his faithful friend Clitus. You see how very uncertain a business this of a virtuoso is. I can hardly believe that the artist intended simply to represent him dying; there was nothing very creditable in the manner he brought on his death. Nor do I think he would choose to represent him moaning, or languishing with pain or sickness; there is nothing heroic in that; nor do we sympathize so readily with the pains of the body, as with those of the mind. As for the story of his weeping for new worlds, he will excite still less sympathy, if that is the cause of his affliction. The last conjecture, therefore, that the artist intended to represent him in a violent fit of remorse, is the most probable. The unfinished bust of Marcus Brutus, by Michael Angelo, admirably expresses the determined firmness of character which belonged to that virtuous Roman. The artist, while he wrought at this, seems to have had in his mind Horace's ode
Justum et tenacem propositi virum
Mente quatit solidâ, &c. * This would, in my opinion, be a more suitable inscription for the bust, than the concetto of Cardinal Bembo, which is at present under it.f Michael Angelo, in all probability, was pleased with the expression he had already given the features, and chose to leave it as an unfinished sketch, rather than risk weakening it by an attempt to improve it.
The virtuosi differ in opinion respecting the Arrotino, or Whetter, as much as about the head of Alexander. A young gentleman said to an antiquarian, while he contemplated the Arrotino,— I believe, sir, it is imagined that this statue was intended for the slave, who, while he was whetting his knife, overheard Catiline's conspiracy.' • That is the vulgar opinion,' said the other ; ' but the statue was, in reality, done for a peasant, who discovered the plot into which the two sons of Junius Brutus entered for the restoration of Tarquin. I ask pardon, sir,' said the young man; • but although one may easily see that the figure listens with the most exquisite expression of attention, yet I should think it very difficult to delineate in the features, whether the listener heard a conspiracy, or any thing else which greatly interested him, and absolutely impossible to mark, by any expression of countenance, what particular conspiracy he is hearing.'
6 Your observation is just, young man,' said the antiquarian,
when applied to modern artists, but entirely the reverse
* The man in conscious virtué bold,
Who dares his secret purpose hold,
† Dum Bruti efigiem Michael de marmore fingit,
In mentem sceleris venit, et abstinuit. I # While Michael was forming this statue, shocked with the recollection of Brutus's crime, he left his design unfinished.