: Dante vivo || White Silence


Jacques Augustin Galiffe, the Swiss historian of Geneva who used genealogical records in his study, usually writing in French, published a travel account of Italy, while in exile in London, which he wrote in English. I give here an excerpt from the two volume book, Italy and its Inhabitants, An Account of a Tour in that Country in 1816 and 1817, where he wrote on Florence, the city in which he would come to live with his wife and daughter, and where he would die, being buried with them in Florence's 'English' Cemetery, a cemetery which is still owned by the Swiss from the acquisition of its land in 1827 from the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Galiffe's subtitle reads 'Containing a View of Characters, Manners, Customs, Governments, Antiquities, Literature, Dialects, Theatres, and the Fine Arts, with some Remarks on the Origin of Rome and of the Latin Language'. Chapters XXV and XXVI are found on pages374-413. The two volumes were published by John Murray in 1820.

We thought that three tomb bases from which the marble slabs have long gone in Sector A, at A57-59 (Lastra. Marmista ignoto. Sec. XIX, post 12/1853. Ambito toscano. Basamento privo della lastra. [P.s.: A: 12; L: 82; P: 160.]) were for three members of the Galiffe family, but other clues suggest they were buried instead in Sector D, at D47, which are tombs that we had thought were for the Pellew husband and wife. Pastor Luigi Santini wrote concerning Jacques Galiffe, that this 'Genevan historian and genealogist [in the style of Sismondi, his contemporary], lived and engaged in trade for a time in Holland, Germany and Russia, but returned to Geneva during the Napoleonic period to share in the troubles of his city. Turning to history he was in a sense the first Genevan historian to make use of documentary and archival sources with scientific intent. The results of his historic research, however, stripped of artifice and adulation, made him the centre of such controversy and hostility that in the end he preferred to emigrate to Florence. Italy owes to him the first systematic study of the Italian religious exiles of the sixteenth century. His daughter Sophie (1825-1841) and his second wife, Amélie Franço Pictet (1790-1872), daughter of the Charles Pictet who was the Swiss delegate at the Congress of Vienna, are also buried in the cemetery'. On the Web we find, in English, the following account: 'Jaques (James) Augustin Galiffe, (son of Barthelemy Galiffe and Marie Naville, and brother of Colonel Jean-Pierre, No XII as above) born on 7th April 1776 godson of Jacques Rilliet-Plantamour and of Augustin de Candolle - historian and genealogist. His studies for the magistracy or diplomacy were unfortunately brought to an end by the Revolution which ruined his family and compelled him to emigrate. He then adopted the commercial profession for which he had no vocation, but it was the only one in which he could hope to acquire independent means, by his aptitude for work, and his remarkable gift for languages. Besides Latin and Greek of which he was a master and English which he spoke and wrote as his mother tongue, he knew German, Dutch, Russian, Spanish and Italian, and was conversant with most of the popular dialects of the latter. This enabled him to obtain very important posts in the best banking houses of London, Holland, Germany and Russia, but these occupations did not prevent him from continuing his favourite studies, literature, languages and specially history which his frequent travels gave him opportunities of studying in the principal libraries and archives of Europe. Deeply attached to his native land, he remained zealous for what was called "the good cause", the triumph of which could alone restore the independence of Geneva. When therefore Lord Carlisle, in 1798 introduced in Parliament a motion to help the Swiss against the French, Galiffe volunteered to undertake the dangerous task of intermediary. He was then in frequent communication with the principal members of Parliament, the Duke of Portland, Lord Fitzwilliam, Lord Grenville and the famous Pitt, whose support had to be obtained. Finding that negotiations were dragging he did not hesitate to sacrifice his excellent position in London to proceed with a few friends firmly determined to accomplish their object in the best way that circumstances would permit. Adverse news from the theatre of the war stopped him on the way, and he enlisted as a Volunteer in a Militia Corps which was raised in England when a French invasion was expected. - After several years spent in Holland, at Gottingen, Hamburg and Berlin, he entered in 1805 the firm of Baron de Rall, banker of the Imperial Court at St. Petersburg. - M. de Speransky who was then Prime Minister made him tempting offers to enter the Russian Civil Service, but the fear of sacrificing his independence led him to refuse them, as also a proposal to take the direction of a Russian National Bank which was then being discussed.  It was during that period of his life that he kept a very interesting correspondence with Mme de Staël. On receipt of the news that the independence of Geneva was seriously threatened by the return of Napoleon, Galiffe gave up his splendid prospects in Russia to return and enlist as a private in the Geneva contingent, in which he served throughout the campaign of Franche-Comte, first as Staff-secretary and afterwards as an Officer. After the death of his parents, he went to Italy in 1816, and related his travels in his first book, "Italy and its inhabitants" published (in English) in London, which the reviews of the time described as one of the best of its kind. In 1820, the brothers Brougham, appointed to defend Queen Carolina, called him twice to Milan, where his indispensable assistance was required by them in the preparation of that famous trial. Having returned to Geneva where he married and resided till 1841, he set himself to study the history of his country, and worked at it until his death. Appointed to the "Commission des Archives" he undertook by himself, and gratuitously, to sort and classify thousands of documents which had been completely neglected since the Revolution, and which during the foreign occupation had been left in a state of chaos and filth. For over twenty years he persevered in this fatiguing work with a zeal which undermined his health, but neither his illness, nor his infirmities nor even the difficulties placed in his way by the ignorance and contempt of those who should have helped him, could stop him in his self-imposed task. Not only did he reconstitute the Archives of Geneva and save them from certain destruction, but he searched for every item of information necessary to control and complete them, not only in the archives of neighbouring towns but all over Switzerland, in the registers of parishes and castles in Savoy, in the Pays de Gex, at Lyons, Dijon, Paris, Chambery, Turin, Lucca and Florence. From 1829 to 1831 he published successively as first result of his work, two volumes of "Materials for the History of Geneva" and 2 volumes of "Genealogical Notices on Genevese families" (the third appeared in 1835). This at once established his reputation as an historian of Geneva, but only the experts can realise the labour which these books represent. The "Letters on the Middle-Ages", addressed in 1838 to the famous historian Schlosser, are the last historical work which he gave to the public. Schlosser declared in his "Heidelberger Yahrbucher 1839" that it was the best and most learned essay he had read, as regards knowledge and criticism of the subject. The "Letters written from Paris" had been addressed by Galiffe in 1827 to his intimate friend, Lord Brougham, Chancellor of England. They were published in 1830 at the request of several persons to whom they had been communicated and who had been struck by the wonderful foresight with which the author had anticipated the events and solution of the political situation in France. Although he filled no public functions in Geneva, except that of Municipal Councillor for the commune of Satigny, he took an active part in all political and religious discussions. Full of sympathy with the principles of Aristocracy yet he condemned them when they were opposed to progress, of which he was a sincere partisan and consequently he sometimes felt himself awkwardly situated at a time when compromise was considered as a doctrine in the political system. Sincere and convinced protestant, although a declared enemy of the Calvinist dogma and system, he was a zealous champion of the liberty of creed, and in 1835 he vehemently opposed the celebration of the Jubilee of the Reformation, which he considered a blunder likely to cause discord between the citizens of the two religions. (Lettres a un pasteur du Canton, 1835) The general public is only acquainted with a portion of Galiffe's works, as the major portion is still unpublished. Besides his writings on all branches of the history of Geneva, he left a large number of sketches, notes, extracts, historical, literary and artistic criticisms, studies on languages, a very learned genealogical notice on the principal houses of the princes and counts of Southern and Central Europe, shedding considerable light on the most obscure period of the Middle-Ages, and lastly a voluminous correspondence.  The latter part of his literary legacy is not the least interesting item, as he was in constant communication with the celebrities of many countries. To those already named, Mme de Staël and Lord Brougham, (Lord Chancellor of England and one of his intimate friends) must be added, Mr Backhouse, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Lord Grosvenor, afterwards Marquis of Westminster. Among politicians and statesmen may be named Lord Fitzwilliam, Viceroy of Ireland, Lord Carlisle, Lord Palmerston, William Russell, Capo d'Istria, Marquis Luchesini, Ambassador to Prussia, Count Rossi, Baron Stein, Wickham, British Minister with the Army of Princes, M.de Speransky, Prime Minister of Russia, and Count J de Maistre - among historians, Messrs de Barante, Thierry, Mignet, Michelet, Sismondi, Schlosser, Karamzine, Viasemsky, and in Switzerland, de Mulinen, de Grenus, d'Estavayer, de Gingins, de Charriere - among professors, Fellenberg and Bonstetten - among women-authors, Lady Charlotte Bury, Mme de Montolieu, Miss Edgeworth, Mme Necker de Saussure - among musicians, Dusseck, C M de Weber, Steibelt, Field and Abbe Litz who owed him his first letters of recommendation - the poet C Didier whom he was the first to encourage, the famous naturalist Agassiz whom he assisted pecuniarily in the prosecution of his studies, etc., etc. - As historian of Geneva, Galiffe is certainly the pioneer of the modern school of History. His publications, drawn direct from authentic documents shocked many people by the discredit which they seemed to throw on the conventional ideas of the old school, which the dominating party of the time considered as a sort of Palladium. Tired at least of the worries caused by his keen polemics, he preferred to go and settle with his family in Tuscany, without waiting for the political reaction which he had foreseen, and died at Florence 15th December 1853.  (See "Notice on the life and works of J A Galiffe" - D'un siecle a l'autre Journal de Geneve 31st December 1853 - Memoires de la Societe d'histoire et d'archeologie 1854 - Les etudes genealogiques a Geneve, by Professor Ritter - Histoire de Geneve, by Gaullieur.) Married 1st, 20th October 1817, Elizabeth Philippine only daughter of No: Jean Antoine de Claparede, President of the Civil Tribunal, and of Alexandrine-Jeanne-Antoinette Dunant died 18th April 1825. 2nd: 26th May 1827, 2nd, Amelie Francoise, daughter of No: Charles Pictet, Honorary Councillor, plenipotentiary Minister of the Swiss Confederation at the Congress of Vienna, Paris and Turin, and of Sara de Rochemont, died at Florence 14th August 1872. He had by the first: (1) Jean-Barthelemy, who follows: (2) Sophie Anne Marie Catherine, born 16th April 1825 god-daughter of Prince Pierre Andreiowitch Viasemsky, died at Florence 14th November 1841. She showed remarkable dispositions for literature and music. Jean (John) Barthelemy Gaifre Galiffe, born at Geneva 31st July 1818, godson of John Thellusson, Lord Rendlesham, of John Backhouse, Minister of Foreign Affairs London, and of Mme Thellusson-Ployard.


Tabernacolo. Sec. XIX, post 9/1849. Ambito toscano. Tabernacolo in marmo scolpito con elementi gotichi, recinto in pietra serena. Possibile intervento di consolidamento e pulitura. [M: A: 254; L: 64; P: 25; RM: 2.5; L: 286; P: 186; RPs: A: 77; L: 300; P: 227.] ( Eglise Evangelique-Reformèe de Florence Règistre des Morts: Jacques Augustin Galiffe, Genève, Confederation Suisse, Rentier/ I: 1852-1859 'Registre des Sepultures avec detail des frais, Paoli 362/ Q 98: 300 Paoli/ Registro alfabetico delle persone tumulate nel Cimitero di Pinti: Galiffe/ Giacomo A./ / Svizzera/ Firenze/ 15 Dicembre/ 1853/ Anni 77/ 523. Chiesa Evangelica Riformata Svizzera, 1827-present. 


Sophie Anne Marie Catherine, born 16th April 1825, daughter to Jacques Augustine Galiffe, god-daughter of Prince Pierre Andreiowitch Viasemsky, died at Florence 14th November 1841. She showed remarkable dispositions for literature and music. Her brother, Jean (John) Barthelemy Gaifre Galiffe, - who is not buried here - was 'Educated at the Fellenberg Institute, Hofwyl; Doctor of Law of the University of Heidelberg 1842, Mayor of the Commune of Satigny 1853-1858.  Deputy to the Grand Conseil (Legislative Council) 1854, professor of National history at the Academy of Geneva 1861-65, Consul 1866, and afterwards Consul-General for Denmark with the Swiss Confederation 1883 - represented that power at the 2nd Congress of the Red-Cross at Geneva 1868, and at the Congress of the Universal Postal Union at Berne 1875. - Member (active, honorary or corresponding) of nearly all the historical or archaeological societies of Switzerland, of the National Geneva Institute, of the Royal Committee of National History of Italy, of the Academy of Savoy, and of the Archaeological Society of the Rhenish Provinces, etc., etc., Knight of the Danish order of Danebrog, and of the Italian order of St. Maurice et Lazare.  Died 25th February 1890 - Following his father's footsteps he devoted the greater part of his life to studies of history, archaeology, genealogy and heraldry, in which his native country held the foremost part.  Expert as learned as he was exact and conscientious, he left a series of solid works the value of which is as much appreciated abroad as it is in Geneva, and he is justly entitled to be considered as one of the first, and possibly the best known of Geneva's National Historians. 

N° 135       Sophie Galiffe Claparede, fille de Jacques Galiffe de Genève, âgé
                     de 16 ½ ans, morte à Florence le 14 9bre, 1841, a été enseveli le 16
                     du même mois dans le cimetière del'Eglise évangelique de Florence
                                                               Mse Droin Pr~

Registro alfabetico delle persone tumulate nel Cimitero di Pinti: Galiffe [Claparede]/ Sofia/ Svizzera/ Firenze/ 14 Novembre/ 1841/ Anni 16/ 228. Chiesa Evangelica Riformata Svizzera, 1827-present. 

D27N/ D47C/ 1178

Amelie Francoise, daughter of No: Charles Pictet, Honorary Councillor, plenipotentiary Minister of the Swiss Confederation at the Congress of Vienna, Paris and Turin, and of Sara de Rochemont, wife, then widow, to Jacques Augustin Galiff, died at Florence 14th August 1872. She had a long widowhood, but also the consolation of her husband's and her father's fame. Their tombs were seemingly lost, but the records indicate that Amalie Pictet Galiffe was buried in Sector C, which corresponds to the modern Sectors C and D, while the number 1178 is chiseled to the left side of D47. Admiral Pellew's wife's tomb was relocated to be beside him in Sector A, A111-112.

Eglise Evangelique-Reforméée de Florence Régistre des Morts: Amalie Galiffe, fille de Charles Pictet/ IV: 1871-1875 'Registre des Sepultures' avec detail des frais, Francs 307, C/ Registro alfabetico delle persone tumulate nel Cimitero di Pinti: Galiffe nata Pictet/ Amalia/ Carlo/ Svizzera/ Firenze/ 14 Agosto/ 1872/ Anni 82/ 1178. Chiesa Evangelica Riformata Svizzera, 1827-present. 


—Madame Imbert's Inn—Population, Architecture, Streets, &c.—Music; La Bardichiera—Paternal Government of the Grand Duke—Florentine Women-Monuments in the Church of Santa Croce—Macchiavelli—Michael Angelo—Chapel of the Medici—Church of San Lorenzo—Religious Deportment of the Florentines—Gallery of Pictures and Statues—Artemisa Lami, of PisaVenus de' Medici—Niobe—Pictures in the Palazzo Pitti.

E arrived at Florence about nine o'clock on Saturday, July 12th, and alighted at sort of boarding-house, rather than inn, which had been recommended to my travelling companion. Its situation was very agreeable, being quite centrical, near the piazza. the post-office, and the river Arno. It was kept by a very neat little French woman, Madame Imbert, whose charges were extremely moderate, being two paoli for a room, and five paoli for the dinner, which was simple but good. The servants who were few in number, were the most attentive creatures in the world. One of them was the landlady's own brother, whom she had taken from the plough; and he was in the habit of pleading his late situation asan excuse for his awkwardness in his present employment. I cannot express how much this simplicity of manners pleased me. The cook was a plain Savoyard, two of the waiters were Florentines, as well as the wife of one of them, who served as porter. Never did I see so many excellent plain-dealing, serviceable, disinterested creatures collected together in one family
—The woman whom I have mentioned as performing the functions of door-keeper to the house, was supernumerary and received no wages; and I never saw any one so happy and thankful as she appeared, for a trifle that I gave her one night when she had run about to several places, after eleven o'clock, to try to get me a supper. The next morning when I went down stairs, she was waiting for me with her little babe, for whom she was preparing some piece of dress; and she presented the child to me, holding the garment in his little hands, as if to show me that whatever she gained was applied to his comfort. Her radiant countenance gave me more pleasure than any human face that I had seen for several months.
Florence, seen at a distance, does not appear to be more than twice the size of Geneva, though it must be at least four times as large, judging from its population of seventy-five thousand inhabitants, which is not nearly so crowded as ours. The town looks even thinly peopled, to those who come from Naples and Rome, but it is very fine. There is in its buildings a solidity, and an abundance of rich materials, which immediately convey the idea, not of luxurious elegance, but of proud magnificence, disdaining every thing that is not durable; there are so many noble palaces, but there is nothing aérial or ornamental in their architecture. The streets are paved with flat stones of all sorts of shape and size, appearing like Cyclopean walls fastened to the ground. The communications between them are not sufficiently numerous; one is frequently obliged to go to the furthest end of a very long street, to find the way into the parallel ones, which is very inconvenient. The lamps at night are rather disagreeable than useful, on account of their reverberatory plates, which blind the passengers more than they light them. The river Arno, which crosses the town in its whole breadth, was exceedingly low at this time, dogs and goats wading over it in several places. In rainy weather the river is perfectly yellow; it becomes greenish after a few days of fair weather, but is never quite transparent.
The Piazza del Gran Duca, near which I lodged, is a grand and noble square, but I was treated every night with a serenade which I little expected to hear in the midst of a large town. The performers were the frogs in the fountain, and the bats and the owls in the tower; and the concert which they formed was exceedingly annoying, until from habit the sounds ceased to attract my attention.
But there were other serenades, particularly on Saturday nights, which I liked much better; you meet them in almost every street, with a long train of hearers who form a circle round the performers whenever they stop. The performances are seldom very good, but often pleasing, and never very bad.They are moreover always of an extremely cheerful cast; for the Florentines sing the most tragical histories to lively tunes. There was a ballad in vogue at the time, called la Bordichiera, which pleased them so much and so universally, that I heard it repeated everywhere, the whole day, and part of the night, during upwards of a fortnight that I remained in the city. It was called "The true story of an atrocious and horrid event, which took place in the Cordichiera;" and the bard began by imploring the assistance of "G
OD IN HEAVEN to grant him strength and vigour for the narration." This beginning, for a ballad, must scandalize a Protestant, but the Roman Catholicks seem unconscious of the impropriety of such invocations on such occasions. The bard proceeds to state, that "a certain John" fell in love with a girl of his village, who swore fidelity, but proved untrue; that she gave him a very unceremonious congé; upon which the lover stabbed her, and the next day stabbed himself over her corpse! All this might well have been told in three or four stanzas, for they are each pretty long ones; but nobody sang the first without going scupulously through the other fourteen at a breath. The words are burlesque, from their exaggerated sentimentality, and from the incongruous pomp of the expressions. The tune is by no means a melancholy one, and nobody would guess that it was intended to give expression to a tragical story.
It is no very entertaining thing to hear the same eternal song of fifteen stanzas repeated more than two hundred times in the space of a fortnight, particularly when the tune itself is rather tiresome; but I was so glad to hear singing by good voices always in tune, and frequently in parts, that I patiently endured the taedium of repetition. Besides, it is evident that the Florentines sing for their own pleasure; and nothing can be more delightful than to see people pleased, after having long been deprived of that satisfaction. I never shall forget what I felt, on hearing a poor man exclaim, "he should be sorry to die that year, he was so happy!" This short phrase would have been sufficient to make me love Florence, and bless the Sovereign under whose administration it was uttered. Indeed, the general appearance of the inhabitants, both of the town and the country around, must give the most favourable opinion of the Grand Duke's character and liberality, to every important observer,
—that is, to every man who is not predetermined to find fault with him, because he is an Austrian, or a Prince of the House of Lorraine. He carried economy to a great length; his equipages are shabby, and his liveries quite plain; the young princesses are exceedingly simple in their attire, and every sort of unnecessary expense at Court seems to have been rightly curtailed. But let us beware how we think meanly of a sovereign, who respects his engagements and the property of his people, more than the admiration of fools and the stupid prejudices of pretended great men. A dazzling ostentation of magnificence might be politick in those old-fashioned times when subjects looked up to their sovereigns as to beings of a superior nature; but the present generation, who have seen a Bourbon's head brought to the block, and a whole litter of Buonapartes wearing crowns, are grown too wise to adopt the antiquated creed of their forefathers. Some eastern nation may still fancy its sovereign a demi-god; but an European prince must be strangely infatuated to suppose that European subjects can now be kept in awe by the mere éclat which surrounds him. The Emperor of Russia, who goes on foot and unattended through his capital, joins private ladies and gentlemen in his walks, converses with them in the most affable manner, plays with their children, and banishes all ceremony from the places which he frequents,
is more sincerely respected as well as more warmly beloved, that those of his brethren who never move out of doors without a body-guard, who never look at a person who has not had the honours of presentation, nor speak to one whose titles have not been verified by the Lord Marshal. The former keeps pace with the age in its progress; the latter loiters centuries behind it.
My stay in Florence was much too short to enable me to judge of the Grand Duke's wisdom in other respects; but the absence of idle pomp in his Court, and the presence of cheerfulness among his subjects, are unquestionable proofs of a fatherly administration.
The women are not so strikingly handsome as in the north of Lombardy; but I think they are, on the whole, the prettiest I ever saw; there is a mixture of acuteness and good nature, in their countenance which is quite delightful; their eyes are peculiarly soft and lively; and their smile uncommonly graceful.
There is a beautiful promenade at the west end of the town, for carriages and walkers; it is much frequented by the Florentine nobility, and by all foreigners; as well as by the Court, which, at that time was uncommonly numerous,
—the Archduchess Maria Louisa and the Princess of Salerno, having come to take leave of their sister previous to her departure for Brazil.
I shall omit the names and descriptions of the gardens and palaces; they have been so frequently and often so well described, that my notice of them could not be considered in any other light than as a tedious repetition. But I cannot bring myself to pass by unnoticed some of the works of art, notwithstanding that they have been still more frequently and more minutely described.
The Church of Santa Croce is very fine; but it is much to be regretted that the ceiling is only made of timber. The monuments which it contains are not very remarkable for the beauty of their execution, though there is one by Canova, erected to the honour of Alfieri, at the expense of his friend, the Countess Stolberg, which I was told cost eighteen thousand dollars, but there is not the least spark of genius in its design. It represents Italy as weeping at the poet's tomb,
—and that is all—the figure is that of a handsome woman, but destitute of elevation or dignity.
Macchiavelli's monument is simple and good, but the inscription is bombastic and absurd. He was a very clever man: and wrote many good and some bad things. He has been too much praised, and too much blamed. His works can do but little good, except to sharpen the wit of very sober readers, but they cannot do all the mischief that is generally ascribed to them
—chiefly by persons who never read them. On the whole, he might be called a very eminent writer, but he might not to have been exalted above all mankind, as he is in his epitaph.
Michael Angelo's monument is superior to the others in the conception: Painting, Sculpture and Architecture are represented as mourning his loss; but the execution is inferior to what one might have expected from his own scholars.
The finest thing in this church is a magnificent picture by Bronzino, presenting Jesus receiving Abraham's family into Heaven. All the figures are portraits, and that of the Patriarch is not so noble and so grand as one could wish, but they are all uncommonly well painted: the female figures are strikingly beautiful: and there is a most lovely child. The only defect I could observe is that, our Saviour is represented as too stout; the thigh, in particular, is too short and quite fat. With that exception the picture is one of the noblest productions of this sublime art.
The Chapel de' Medici is one of the most extravagant undertakings ever conceived. It had already cost seventeen millions of dollars, when the work was put a stop to about eighty years ago!
—and as it would cost even a larger sum to finish it, it is likely to remain in its present state. The Medici, who had enriched their country by their prodigious trade, might be excused for indulging in a whim of this sort, and for sending abroad a great part of the riches which they had brought home; but the imitation of them would be worse than madness in their Austrian successors. This chapel is an octagon, and contains six magnificent sarcophagi of Egyptian and white oriental granite, adorned with superb pilastres of Barga-jasper, with capitals and bases of brass, which was intended to have been gilt. Over the whole, is a cornice of Elba granite, with a frieze of Flemish touchstone. These tombs are in honour of Cosimo I, II, and III, Ferdinand I, and II, and Francis. Poor John Gaston having found all the places occupied, was to have had a station assigned to him in the choir, which had hardly been begun. The chapel also contains brazen statues of Ferdinand I, who was the founder of the edifice, and of Cosimo II,; the latter is the workd of the famous Giovanni di Bologna, but is very unworthy of his fame. Around the chapel on the faces of the several pedestals, are the arms of the Tuscan Episcopal cities, inlaid with precious stones, mother-of-pearl, lapis lazuli, &c.
This chapel adjoins the Church of San Lorenzo, whose martyrdom is there represented in a large picture by Bronzino, no less remarkable for its faults than its beauties, and much inferior to that which I noticed above, in the church of Santa Croce. San Lorenzo contains besides some statues by Michael Angelo, most of which have been left unfinished. Those which represent females are really disagreeable and in some respects hideous forms. But the statue of Julian/Lorenzo de' Medici, with his head resting on his hand, in the attitude of deep thought, is very fine. The vestry, where all these statues lie, was built by Michael Angelo, and is worthy of the architect; though the cupola semmed to me rather too lofty for its diameter. The church itself is very fine, but not large. I must here observe, that almost all the churches of Florence are only finished inside; the exterior remains in its rough state, like that of Santa Justina at Padua, to the great diminution of the beauty of the city. There were men at work in the Duomo, or Cathedral, but only within, and it is not likely to be finished for a long time to come.
A circumstance which pleased me very much in my visits to the churches of Florence, was the pious demeanour of the congregations. They do not appear to come to church for the mere purpose of making a display of their devotion,
—as at Rome and elsewhere; but it is evident that they really come to pray, and that they pray from the heart. I saw many young men, from twenty to thirty years of age, frequenting the places of worship with the most devout deportment; thus affording a very remarkable contrast to the manners of the same class in other parts of Italy.
The celebrated gallery of pictures and ancient statutes is less surprising on a first view than the collection at the Vatican; but it is, in my judgment, more interesting, and affords a larger fund of enjoyment. Niobe and her Children are not inferior to the goup of the Laocoon,
—nor Venus to Apollo; and there are many other masterpieces, which must be ranked above the other statues at Rome. The Dying Son of Niobe is much finer than the Meleager; the Apollino, the Wrestlers, the Grinder, the Faun, are all perfect. There is an enchanting Mercury, and an exquisite bust of Antinous. There are also several delightufl Cupids. As to the pictures, the collection is too numerous, bor it contains several bad ones; but there perhaps more good ones—more that belong to the higher class of art—than are to be found in the Vatican; though none perhaps that can be placed on a level with Raphael's Transfiguration, or Domenichino's St Jerome. The gallery is open till three or four o'clock, and the saloons till two or half-past: the custodi are extremely civil and obliging, whether you pay them or not; the rule indeed forbids them to accept anything, but it is frequently infringed.
I cannot help expressing the horror with which I was struck, on learning the name of the painter who has represented Judith in the act of cutting off Holofernes's head. The truth of its details is quite horrible; the head is almost entirely separated from the neck, and the blood seems to gush out with the violence of a torrent; and this was the work of a woman!
—of Artemisia Lami of Pisa, whose name I write with feelings of disgust and execration. I hope to God she is the only one of her sex, who could for an instant endure the idea of representing such a scene! A woman capable of indulging such ferocious conceptions must be capable of every crime,—and instantly reminds one of the adulteress and infanticide mentioned by Juvenal;-
   Tunc duos una, saevissima vipera, coena?
   Tunc duos?-Septem, si septem forte fuissent-
The Venus de' Medici is so well known, that I shall say very little respecting her, except that no man who has once seen the statue can for an instant think of putting Canova's Venus in competition with it. The latter, which is now kept in the Palazzo Pitti, is exceedingly pretty; but she is not divine, she is not even noble. She is, however, much more beautiful than any other work of Canova's that I have seen (except perhaps.that that is in quite another style
—his Reposing Lion, in St Peter's Church at Rome,) but she has some very glaring defects. Her legs are deficient in delicacy; her waist is not so slender nor her hips so full as perfect beauty would require; but, above all, the outline on the right side, descending from the girdle to the knee, is strikingly incorrect. The antique Venus, in Pierantoni's study at Rome, is, in my opinion, infinitely preferable, particularly with respect to the body and limbs. The face of Canova's Venus is, however, quite delightful; her head-dress extremely elegant; and her attitude charming, though wanting in dignity and self-possession.—that artist seemign not to have been aware that the modesty of Venus ought to be expressed very differently from that of a mortal, or a nymph. The drapery is likewise very good, though it might have produced s better effect, if it had been represented of a finer texture. In short, Canova's Vensus is an exceedingly pretty girl, but the Venus de' Medici is the handsomest of goddesses.
I like the plan of approrpiating one whole room, exclusively, to that collection of statues supposed to represent the Family of Niobe. It is indeed essential to the perfect enjoyment of works of art, that the mind should be directed to the contemplation of a single story at a time, undisturbed by the intrusion of incongruous images. The statues which compose this group are evidently not all by the same hand; two of them in particular are bad copies of others; but that of the youngest son can bear no sort of comparison with the rest. The daughter on the left is divinely beautiful, and of admirable workmanshio. The dying son is perfection itself; it is impossible to resist the deeply melancholly feeling which he inspires. One of the finest peices in the present group is an interloper
—a Psyche, whose attitude pointed her out as a fit representaive of one of the statues which had been lost. Her face is not so handsome as that of the other children, and there is no sort of resemblance to them in the features; but it is in itself one of the noblest monuments of ancient sculpture. There is much inequality in the draperies throughout the group, some of them being admirable, and others of very indifferent execution. Mr. Cockerell's system, with respect to the group, is very ingeniours, but I doubt whether it be founded in truth. Some of the highest and most difficult beauties of the workmanship would have been completely lost in the pediment of a lofty temple; and there are deficiencies in other points which one may be confident would not have been neglected, if the figures had been calculated for being placed at a great elevation and seen only from below.
I may possibly be called a barbarian for dissenting from the general opinion as to the transcendent merit of the principal figure,
—that of Niobe. Her beauty is indeed of a sublime character, but the expression of grief and anguish is not sufficiently marked. The general observation is, that her grief is that of a goddess; and people rest satisfied with this answer, which I own is far from satisfying me. Niobe was not a goddess, she was a woman, and a mother, and her whole history turns on these two points only. Her mouth expresses rather indifference than any specifick emotion, and her forehead and eye-brows are not sufficiently indicative of her feelings. In this respect the artist has taken a very different view of his task, and I think a less just one, than the sculptor who gave such a sublime degree of agony to Laocoon. I shall say no more of their extraordinary Gallery, which is above all praise: but I cannot rest satisfied with silent admiration of the collection of paintings in the Palazzo Pitti. I cannot even think of it without a feeling of enthusiasm; and I never form the plan of another journey to Italy, in which it does not hold a conspicuous rank amongst the principal objects of hope and delight. But of all the wonderful productions of human genius which it contains, there is none that I remember with such lively feelings of complete, unqualified satisfaction as the Dispute on the Law, by Andrea del Sarto. I can undnrstand why a preference is given to Raphael's celebrated Madonna del Seggio; but I do not compare the two pictures. Raphael's School of Athens is the only picture which could with justice be compared to this glorious masterpiece of Del Sarto, the execution of which is almost unrivalled as its composition. there are several other pictures by Raphael, one of which, a Holy Family or Bethrothing of our Saviour, I should prefer to the Madonna del Seggio, on account of its superior composition, though it be inferior to it in finish. No man can have an adequate idea of the wonderful talents of Titian, who has not seen the admirable pictures with which he had adorned the Palazzo Pitti. Giorgione, Rubens, Fra Bartolomeo, Salvator Roa, Bronzino, Carlo Dolce, Curradi, Caravaggio, Schidone, Carlo Loth, the two Allori, Pietro di Cortona, Paolo Santi di Tito, Van Dyk, &c, &c., seem to have lavished their best and most beautiful works, on this gallery. Of Guercino, Correggio, Albano, there is nothing in this sublime collection but comparative trash. Guido Reni has an unfinished Cleopatra, of extraordinary merit.
The apartments of the Palazzo Pitti are grand and noble, without any symptom of extravagance, and the attendants are remarkably civil.
The external façade of the palace fronting the street is handsome, though the masonry is defective, but the garden-front is completely spoiled by several unintelligible caprices of architecture. The Garden of Boboli, which is behind, is entirely laid out in the bad old Italian style; of long and broad avenues; but it commands a most beautiful prospect.


—Climate—Fruits—Personal Character of the Florentines—Dialect:Anecdote—Theatres of Goldoni and La Pergola—Disport of the Dancer—Romeo and Juliet—Annual Burning of the Flies on the Arno—Church of San Marco—Hall of San Giovanni—Ricci the Sculptor—Florence an Agreeable Place of Residence—Florentine Money—The Medici—Digressin on the Flattery as undeservedly bestowed on Louis XIV.

F I were to judge of the climate of Florence by my own short experience of it, I should say that it was extremely mild. The days were indeed hot, though never above 22 or 24 degrees of Reaumur; and the nights sometimes even cold. A breeze is almost ocnstantly blowing from some quarter or other; and the mountains which encircle this small plain preseve it from excessive heat. The fruits seemed to me better at Florence than at Naples; the melons (poponi) are remarkably good, the cherries (ciliege) exceedingly fine, but hard of digestion; the figs very large and excellent, though not superior to those which grow at Geneva. There are no oranges but what are imported at Leghorn and brought from thence to this market; they were at this time both dear and bad, the season for them being almost over.
The Florentines are in many respects totally different from other Italians- They are more vain than any of their neighbours, and are ostentatious even in trifles. (The reader will remember that, when I speak of the national character, my observations are always made on the lower classes of wealthy citizens, or on the upper classes of tradesmen,) The young men are conceited of their persons, and one hardly sees one of them pass before a looking-glass without stopping to admire himself, or to adjust some part of his dress. Even in the bathing-houses I do not think I ever saw one who did not fold his towel round his head either before or after the bath, in the shape of an ornamental turban. One of the points on which they display most vanity is their eating; they boast of it as if were a great distinction to have plenty to eat, and a great virtue to derive the highest enjoyment from it. "I am now going to dine, or to eat extremey well, after which I shall rest a while, and then I shall sup,"
—is a phrase which I heard more than twenty times from different persons. They are withal extremely officious, and seldom loth to receive payment for their services. Their politeness, language, and manners render them very agreeable to strangers; and I have seen few societies which I should prefer to, or even like so well as, that of Florence.
The dialect is musical and neat; and there is an occasional abruptness in it, which, to my ear, is very pleasing, though it is far from what is called good Italian. They frequently sin against prosody by shortening the long penultimas, and hardening the last syllables, as if they were accented; for instance, you may often hear verò, notarè, instead of vero, notare. The c before a, o, o u, is invariably pronounced like a very hard h; they do not say casa, poco, but hasa, poho; before e or i it is pronounced like sc; converting felice, capace, into felisce, hapasce. These, and a few other peculiarities, may seem too insignificant to form a distinct dialect; but they really disguise the language so much that I found it as difficult, during the first days of my arrival, as I had done the Neapolitcan. I went to a bookseller's, and asked him if there were any books written in the Florentine dialet; he at first affected not to understand what I meant: but when I persisted, and repeated the queston in very plain terms, he indignantly told me that "the Florentines spoke the language of Boccaccio and Macchiavelli," and that "they had no dialect". I brought him however by degrees to own, that the language generally spoken at Florence and in the neighboruhood was somewhat different from classical Italian; that it was called lingua rustica, and that there did exist a poem written in this rustic tongue,-which I immediately bought, and by the preface of which I learnt that there were a great many more.
This poem is called, Il Lamento di Cecco di Varlungo, and was composed by Francesco Baldovini, who flourished in the seventeenth century. I do not remember ever to have read any thing so delightful (except perhaps some of Burns's best pieces,) in the genuine style of pastoral simplicity. It is very nearly as difficult to understand as Neapolitan poetry, which in many points of the dialect it much resembles; but as Baldovini's book has a good literal translation of the poem in Latin verse, on the alternate pages, any one who has a notion of the idiomatic distinctions of dialects, may, with this help, perfectly understand it; and I can recommend it to every amateur of poetical naïvete. No one who has an ear and feeling for Theocritus and Burns, can fail to be enchanted with Baldovini.
The lingua rustica of Florence bears some very striking analogies to the written dialect of Naples, though there is the greatest dissimilarity in their pronunciation. The letter r is frequently transposed: brullare stands for burlare; strupo for stupro, &c. The vowels are also often interchanged; they say sprifondare for sprofondare, comido for comodo, dovidere for dividere, &c. Sometimes they transpose two or three letters together, as when they gralimare for lagrimare, regilione for religione, cotrigole for graticole, &c. All these peculiarities of sounds and inversions of syllables, are found in the most ancient authors and poets; and they seem strongly to militate against the universal opinion of the extreme justness of the Italian ear.
During my stay at Florence, I witnessed a scene too creditable to the good feelings of its citizens, not to deserve a place in a book intended to give an idea of the general character of the various inhabitants of Italy. A Frenchman of the name of Blanc, who had been established here with his whole family from his childhood and was esteemed and rspected for his good qualities, and who had long served the government as courier or messenger, was either suddenly seized with a fit of insanity, or had worked up his imagination to a pitch of frenzy by fancying that he was persecuted by the postmaster, Salvetti. Whichever was the cause, he went one day into Salvetti's room with two loaded pistols, and fired at him with one of them; But Salvetti warded off the shot with his hand, which was wounded, and Blanc was immediately overpowered and locked up in a room, though without having been disarmed. That room, which was just opposite my windows, was on the ground-floor to the back of the post-house; and the report of the pistol, followed immediately by the vehement vociferations of the poor wretch, instantly filled the whole yard with a crowd of the common people of the neighbourhood. He harangued them with a violence and agitation, which sufficiently evinced his insanity, and every now and then he applied both pistols to his temples as if he were on the point of blowing out his brains, as he declared he would. Every time he did so, the crowd shuddered and shrunk back, that they might escape the sight of the horrible catastrophe,
—crying out with one voice, "No! no! do not kill yourself! Do not, for God's sake!" One or two persons, even at those moments, remained before the window, though in evident agony and certainly with much danger to themselves, entreating him in the most affectionate terms and in the name of everything sacred, not to commit so desperate an action. He frequently presented his cocked pistols to the crowd, threatening to fire at some of them; yet they still persisted in their endeavours to soothe him, and dissuade him from suicide. This dreadful scene lasted two hours, for nobody durst venture into the room. Some of his most particular friends at length arrived, one of whom contrived to disarm him while embracing him; after which he was taken to prison, where he attempted to kill himself by swallowing a stick, then by beating his head against the walls of his cell. I am not aware how the affair ended, having previously left Florence; but it delighted me to perceive the excellent feelings evinced by the common people on this occasion. There was not the slightext mixture of that ferocious spirit of sanguinary curiosity, which, in so many other places and countries would inevitably have displayed itself.
I heard several most beautiful voices at Florence, by mere accident. One night in particular I was led on to remain till half-past one in the morning, under the windows of a house adjoining the Chiasso dell'oro, on the river Arno, listening to a lady who sang at least ten grand pieces, chiefly of Rossini's composition, with some of Spontini's Vestal,
—a piece which, though much liked in Italy, did not succeed there as it has done in France. She had a powerful, sweet, and flexible voice, with an excellent method; and the person who accompanied her on the piano-forte played extremely well. She was also accompanied by a delightful tenor; but I heard a still better tenor in the streets, and a bass who might have astonished on any stage.
The theatre of Goldoni, to which I went chiefly to see the Grand-ducal Family and Court, is handsome,-though rather too long and narrow,- and may contain about twelve hundred spectators. The performance was a very poor opera, indifferently sung, entitled, A Widow's Tears. The musick, I understood, was Paer's, but it is none of his best. The performance began at the second act, and finished with the first, in consequence of the Princesses wishing to see the end of the farce and the ballet,
—after which they retired. Duport was the hero of the dance, but he pleased me no better here than he had done at St. Petersburgh. His leaps, strides, and whirlings are not really dancing: with respect to neatness of steps, the second dancer seemed to me much his superior; but as Duport has enchanted Paris, no one durst doubt his perfection abroad. The female dancers were tolerably good, and the first of them was an excellent performer of pantomimes.
The theatre della Pergola is larger and handsomer that that of Goldoni, and may contain about two thousand persons. There is no ostentation in its ornamentes, no gold nor silver, but every box is furnished with very elegant green draperies, and there is a good painting in front in chiara scure. The curtain, which is extremely pretty, though somewhat fantastical, represents a partie quarée of very handsome country girls and youths dancing in a wood. The play was Romeo and Juliet, a subject which I think much too horrid for the stage; but the Romeo was so wretched a performer, that he could not inspire the slightest interest. He was not more that four feet in height, thick and clumsy, and had a detestable pronunciation; as
scio avesci sciaputo for s'io avessi saputo,—and every thing in the same strain. Juliet, on the contrary, was in the hands of an excellent performer, who strongly reminded me, particularly in the last three acts, of the celebrated Mrs. Ziesenis,* in the part of Elfrida. In the first two acts she was too much taken up with her recitation; every word fell so very distinctly from her lips, that the whole speech was lost in single syllables. On the whole, the play was well supported, except in the part of Romeo, who spoilt the rest by his intolerable blemishes, and his ridiculous figure. The Tomb of the Capulets was one of the finest scenic decorations that I ever saw.
The play itself has one striking defect: old Capulet comes into the vault
—after the death of Romeo, but before that of his daughter—to which he contributes by the atrocious barbarity with which he drags her from her lover's corpse; and Juliet dies of a broken heart.
On Saturday, the 26th of July, I witnessed an extraordinary spectacle,
—that of the annual burning of several millions of flies, which ascend the river once a year towards the end of July or the beginning of August, and are immediately devoted to the flames. Great fires are lighted for this purpose on the two upper bridges, into which immense clouds of them rush in rapid succession; the ground was covered with their remains to the depth of two inches at least, all round the fires. This operation seemed to inspire every one with mirth, and one of the destroyers availed himself of the good humour of the spectators, to raise voluntary contributions among them for the wood and straw which he had burnt in pretty large quantities.
The Fasts of St ,James and St. Anne, (the 25th and 26th July) are so rigidly kept here, that even the shops were shut in the afternoon, and the public libraries during the whole of these days. I was thus unexpectadly prevented from visiting the library of San Lorenzo de' Medici, which I had unfortunately deferred seeing. The ancient palace of the house of Medici, which now belongs to that of Riccardi, is noble and majestick. I went to the handsome church of San Marco, which contains several very good pictures, particularly some excellent frescoes by Passignano. From thence I went to the hall of the Brotherhood of San Giovanni, which is remarkable for its excellent fresco paintings, by Andrea del Sarto, which are unfortunately very likely to be soon entirely lost, being quite abandoned to the destructive effects of the weather. Yet I had the satisfaction of meeting an artist there, who was going to take a copy of a charming piece, representing Charity with three most beautiful children.
I likewise visited the study of Ricci, a Florentine sculptor, whom the world ranks immediately after Canova. But I saw no production of his which could have led me to compare him to the latter,
—or to Torwalsen,—or even to Acquisti; but the specimens were too few to allow me to form a satisfactory judgment. The statues that I saw had good draperies; but the features were by no means handsome, and the figures were utterly devoid of grace, and of the illusion of life.
The Florentines speak of the Roman mosaicks with a laughable degree of contempt. They are obliged, however, to confess that they are prettier than their own; but they assert that it is folly to buy them, because they are not sufficiently solid and durable.
The song of the Bordichiera pursued me to the end of my stay at Florence. Whilst I was at supper one evening, three singers arrived, who sang all the fifteen stanzas, with a da capo at the end of every stanza, making the whole amount to thirty repetitions of this tiresome lullaby. They arrempted to make it more pathetick than usual, by singing it in very slow time, which only rendered it the more fatiguing. The landlady and her waiters opened doors and windows in order to lose none of the delight, and could not conceive how I could help being quite enchanted. This infliction lasted nearly a whole hour. But it did not reconcile me to the necessity I was under of leaving Florence the next morning. I liked the place exceedingly; and, I think there is no city in Italy, with the exception of Milan,  where a person might reside with more real comfort. Florence has, moreover, the advantage of Milan in its magnificent collection of pictures and statues. Living is cheap and good; the bread is admirably fine and of an agreeable flavour, the meat excellent, the wine very fair though not quite so good as at Naples, and you may dine very well for four pauls. The value of the paul is about five-pence;
—ten pauls make a Francesconi, (abut 4s. 6d,), and 9½, a Scudo Romano. The paul contains eight kreizer. or grazie, which are coined in pieces of one, two, and four each; and twelve grazie, or 1½ paul, make a lira.
With other political feelings than those which I possess, I might have adduced the name of the Medici, amongst the reasons which must endear Florence to every lover of the arts; but I cannot praise the enemies of liberty. I cannot suppress a feeling of displeasure and disgust, when I hear tyrants extolled for the politick protection which they may have afforded to men of talent. The Age of Augustus, and that of Louis Quatorze, are the ages of two execrable tyrants, whatever may have been said of them by parasitical contemporary authors, who, if they had outlived the men, would perhaps have been the first to blast their memory. These two prominent examples, especially the latter, are quite sufficient to put me on my guard against the enthusiasm of writers for the living sovereigns by whom their flattery is rewarded. With what baseness of adulation,
—with what impudent fasehood, have not contemporary poets celebrated the superstitous, inhuman, pride-swollen persecutor of that pure religion in which his grandfather had been educated;—the unnatural and mean adulterer, who setting laws at nought, attempted to sully the throne in behalf of his bastards;—the foolish dupe, who delighted in hearing himself extolled as a demigod, reckless of the curses of posterity;—the disgusting egotist, who was never known to express the slightest affection even for his children! Who can doubt but Buonaparte would have been full as highly extolled, if he had continued to reign to a late old age? All the cold-blooded murderers of nations have been sung in verse, and extolled in prose, ever since the world began! Happy they, who outlived the palinode which would have been yelled over their graves by the same voices that chanted their deification!

* Formerly Miss Waitier; a Dutch actress, who may be compared to Mrs. Siddons, and, who is in some characters fully equal to her. Author's note.

: Dante vivo || White Silence

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