Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

trade in their hands. 'Tis true the strangers pay little or no taxes directly, but out of everything they buy there goes a large gabel to the government. The very ice merchant at Leghorn pays above a thousand pounds sterling annually for his privilege, and the tobacco merchant ten thousand. The ground is sold by the Great Duke at a very high price, and houses are every day rising on it. All the commodities that go up into the country, of which there are great quantities, are clogged with impositions as soon as they leave Leghorn. All the wines, oils, and silks, that come down from the fruitful valleys of Pisa, Florence, and other parts of Tuscany, must make their way through several duties and taxes before they can reach the port. Tủe canal that runs from the sea into the Arno gives a convenient carriage to all goods that are to be shipped off, which does not a little enrich the owners; and in proportion as private men grow wealthy, their legacies, law-suits, daughters' portions, &c., increase, in all which the Great Duke comes in for a considerable share. The Lucquese, who traffic at this port, are said to bring in a great deal into the Duke's coffers. Another advantage, which may be of great use to him, is, that at five or six days' warning he might find credit in this town for very large sums of money, which no other prince in Italy can pretend to. I need not take notice of the reputation that this port gives him among foreign princes, but there is one benefit arising from it, which, though never thrown into the account, is doubtless very considerable. It is well known how the Pisans and Florentines long regretted the loss of their ancient liberty, and their subjection to a family that some of them thought themselves equal to, in the flourishing times of their commonwealths. The town of Leghorn has accidentally done what the greatest fetch of politics would have found difficult to have brought about,' for it has almost unpeopled Pisa, if we compare it with what it was formerly, and every day lessens the number of the inhabitants of Florence. This does not only weaken those places, but at the same time turns many of the busiest spirits from their old notions of honour and liberty to the thoughts of traffic and merchandise : and as men engaged in a road of thriving are no friends to changes and revolutions, they are at present worn into a habit of subjection, and push all their pursuits another way. It is

? To bring about.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

He

t t

o wonder, therefore, that the Great Duke has such appreensions of the pope's making Civita Vecchia a free port, hich may in time prove so very prejudicial to Leghorn. It ould be thought an improbable story, should I set down the everal methods that are commonly reported to have been ade use of during

the last pontificate, to put a stop to this esign. The Great Duke's money was so well bestowed in the onclave, that several of the cardinals dissuaded the pope from

e undertaking, and at last turned all his thoughts upon the ttle port which he made at Antium, near Nettuno. The hief workmen that were to have conveyed the water to Civita ecchia were bought off, and when a poor capuchin, who was nought proof against all bribes, had undertaken to carry n the work, he died a little after he had entered upon it

. The present pope, however, who is very well acquainted ith the secret history, and the weakness of his predecessor, eems resolved to bring the project to its perfection. as already been at vast charges in finishing the aqueduct, nd had some hopes that, if the war should drive our English erchants from Sicily and Naples, they would settle here. is Holiness has told some-English gentlemen, that those of ur nation should have the greatest privileges of any but the abjects of the church. One of our countrymen, who makes

good figure at Rome, told me the pope has this design xtremely at his heart; but he fears the English will suffer othing like a resident or consul in his dominions; though t the same time he hoped the business might as well be ansacted by one that had no public character.

This entleman has so busied himself in the affair, that he has ffended the French and Spanish cardinals, insomuch that ardinal Janson refused to see him when he would have ade his apology for what he had said to the pope on this ubject. There is one great objection to Civita Vecchia, at the air of the place is not wholesome; but this they say roceeds from want of inhabitants, the air of Leghorn having een worse than this before the town was well peopled. The great profits which have accrued to the Duke of lorence from his free port, have set several of the states of taly on the same project. The most likely to succeed in it could be the Genoese, who lie more convenient than the enetians, and have a more inviting form of government han that of the church, or that of Florence. But as the

[ocr errors]

port of Genoa is so very ill guarded against storms, that no privileges can tempt the merchants from Leghorn into it, so dare not the Genoese make any other of their ports free, lest it should draw to it most of their commerce and inhabitants, and by consequence ruin their chief city.

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

THE REPUBLIC OF LUCCA.

It is very pleasant to see how the small territories of this little republic are cultivated to the best advantage, so that one cannot find the least spot of ground, that is not made to contribute its utmost to the owner. In all the inhabitants there appears an air of cheerfulness and plenty, not often to be met with in those of the countries which lie about them. There is but one gate for strangers to enter at, that it may be known what numbers of them are in the town. Over it is written, in letters of gold, libertas.

This republic is shut up in the Great Duke's dominions, who at present is very much incensed against it, and seems to threaten it with the fate of Florence, Pisa, and Sienna. The occasion is as follows.

The Lucquese plead prescription for hunting in one of the Duke's forests, that lies upon their frontiers, which about two years since was strictly forbidden them, the prince intending to

for his own pleasure. Two or three sportsmen of the republic, who had the hardiness to offend against the prohibition, were seized, and kept in a neighbouring prison. Their countrymen, to the number of threescore,attacked the place where they were kept in custody, and rescued them. The Great Duke redemands his prisoners, and, as a further satisfaction, would have the governor of the town, where the threescore assailants had combined together, delivered into his hands; but receiving only excuses, he resolved to do himself justice. Accordingly, he ordered all the Lucquese to be seized that were found on a market-day in one of his frontier towns. These amounted

preserve

the game

sta strc tha the Thi the min the ima the of

S

a m

the

to fourscore, among whom were persons of some consequence in the republic. They are now in prison at Florence, and, as it is said, treated hardly enough, for there are fifteen of the number dead within less than two years. The king of Spain, who is protector of the commonwealth, received information from the Great Duke of what had passed, and approved of his proceedings, with orders to the Lucquese, by his governor of Milan, to give a proper satisfaction. The republic, thinkng themselves ill used by their protector, as they say at Florence, have sent to Prince Eugene to desire the emperor's protection, with an offer of winter-quarters, as it is said, for our thousand Germans. The Great Duke rises on them in his demands, and will not be satisfied with less than a hunIred thousand crowns, and a solemn embassy to beg pardon for the past, and promise amendment for the future. Thus tands the affair at present, that may end in the ruin of the commonwealth, if the French succeed in Italy. It is pleaant, however, to hear the discourse of the common people of Lucca, who are firmly persuaded that one Lucquese can peat five Florentines, who are grown low-spirited, as they retend, by the Great Duke's oppressions, and have nothing vorth fighting for. They say they can bring into the field wenty or thirty thousand fighting men, all ready to sacrifice heir lives for their liberty. They have a good quantity of -rms and ammunition, but few horses. It must be owned hese people are more happy, at least in imagination, than he rest of their neighbours, because they think themselves 0; though such a chimerical happiness is not peculiar to epublicans, for we find the subjects of the most absolute rince in Europe are as proud of their monarch as the Lucuese of being subject to none. Should the French affairs rosper in Italy, it is possible the Great Duke may bargain or the republic of Lucca, by the help of his great treasures, s his predecessors did formerly with the emperor for that of ienna: The Great Dukes have never yet attempted any hing on Lucca, as not only fearing the arms of their proector, but because they are well assured, that should the Lucquese be reduced to the last extremities, they would ather throw themselves under the government of the Gecoese, or some stronger neighbour, than submit to a state or which they have so great an aversion. And the Florenines are very sensible, that it is much better to have a weak

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

state within their dominions, than the branch of one as strong as themselves. But should so formidable a power as that of the French king support them in their attempts, there is no government in Italy that would dare to interpose. This republic, for the extent of its dominions, is esteemed the richest and best peopled state of Italy. The whole administration of the government passes into different hands at the end of every two months, which is the greatest security imaginablệ to their liberty, and wonderfully contributes to the quick despatch of all public affairs : but in any exigence of state, like that they are now pressed with, it certainly asks a much longer time to conduct any design, for the good of the commonwealth, to its maturity and perfection.

FLORENCE.

I had the good luck to be at Florence when there was an opera acted, which was the eighth that I had seen in Italy. I could not but smile to read the solemn protestation of the poet in the first page, where he declares that he believes neither in the fates, deities, or destinies ; and that if he has made use of the words, it is purely out of a poetical liberty, and not from his real sentiments, for that in all these particulars he believes as the Holy Mother Church believes and commands.

PROTESTA.

Le voci Fato, Deità, Destino, e simili, che per entro questo Drama trovarai, son messe per ischerzo poetico, e non per sentimento vero, credendo sempre in tutto quello, che crede, e comanda Santa Madre chiesa.

There are some beautiful palaces in Florence; and as Tuscan pillars and rustic work owe their original to this country, the architects always take care to give them a place in the great edifices that are raised in Tuscany. The Duke's new palace is a very noble pile, built after this manner, which makes it look extremely solid and majestic. It is not unlike that of Luxemburg at Paris, which was built by Mary of Medicis, and for that reason, perhaps, the workmen fell into the Tuscan humour. I found in the court of this palace what I could not meet with anywhere in Rome. I mean an antique statue of Hercules lifting up Antæus from the earth, which I have already had occasion to speak of. It was found

« ForrigeFortsæt »