Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

town. After praying again for some short time, they mount a ladder, and just as they are going to be turned off, a man, who has a basket filled with several forts of drams, gives a glass to each of the prisoners, in order, as they say, to support their spirits; but, in my opinion, it would have been more seasonable in their long procession from the prison to the gallows, than at the very moment they were launching into eternity. As soon as they were turned off the lado der, the executioner, gets upon their fhoulders, sliding down them, and by his weight puts them sooner out of their misery. A priest then directly afcends the ladder, and makes a long sermon, on the gallows, to the populace, which is generally large on these occasions : they hung till fun-set, when they were taken down, and burieda

Page 134. The Carnival at Florence is a time of great diversion, which continues generally three weeks, or a month; " when almost every body appears in mark, as, indeed, the Flo

rentines generally are, being a very artful, cunning people*. they all assemble in the afternoon in the square or piazza # Santo Croce, which is railed in after the fame manner as

Bloomsbury-square in London ; fometimes to the number of ten thousand masks and upwards, richly dreffed in jewels, &c. ( and appear in the characters of Emperors, Kings, Turks,

Devils, &c. in abundance, just as fancy dictates to them; nay, they endeavour to confound the diftinction of sexes; the men sometimes, by way of frolic, dress themselves like Venetian courtezans, and the ladies' appear in the characters of young officers, rakes, &c. I faw the marchioness of R-C-rdi, a lady of the greatest quality and beauty in all Florence, dressed like a gentleman, in a rich fuit of black velyet, without any mask on, and made a very fine figure : no priest dares to be present at these diversions in malk, on penalty of being sent even to the inquifition; that holy, or rather infernal office, employ a number of spies, who intermix with the company, in order to discover if any priests are amongst them; and, on the contrary, there is a penalty on any of these fellows if they should seize on a wrong person : a Gentleman laid a trap for one, which happily succeeded to the fatisfaction of all present, he had got a piece of a priest's old gown, artfully put at the bottom of his domino; and those having eyes like hawks,

The Authors of the Delices d' Italie, 'give a different character to the Florentines: 'which fee, P. 203, tom. I.

[ocr errors]

foon discerned the bait, who followed him for some times before they seized on their supposed prey: at length being,

as they imagined, absolutely certain, they laid hold of him ; < but, on further examination, to their great difappointment,

instead of a Romish priest, they found an heretical English Nobleman, who immediately fent to the Governor, who

committed them to prison; they only continued there one < night; for, at the Nobleman's request, they were set atli

berty the next morning. Whilst these diversions pass within ? fide the rails, no less pleasing ones are going forward without

side them, for nothing can be more entertaining than to see the oddity of the coaches and triumphal cars; some of these last are filled with musicians, who fit on benches, as in an orchestra, dresfed in the most whimsical grotesque manner, " and playing a variety of excellent tunes, on different kinds

of inftruments, the coachmen, or drivers of both, as well as the horses, are all in mark;'on one you see the coach

man appear exactly like a great Ruffian bear, another "" is dressed like a woman; the footmen behind appear in the

shape of baboons, or apes, playing antic tricks, and grinning <like those animals, and full as mischievous; no two horfes

are alike, fome are made to resemble stags or bulls, with large horns on their heads; others, lions, dromedaries, and camels, and even jack alles. In short, it is impoffible to conceive the liveliness and gaiety of the place; all parties and ranks giving way to the most unbounded mirth, while universal pleasure seems to reign: at fun-set they disperse ;

for after that time they are not permitted to walk in the • streets masked, under a severe penalty. At night there is a

festeen, or bail, at the opera-houfe, which, on this occa* fion, is finely illuminated ; and has likewise a fine band of • music, where you may dance all night; the expence is very

trifling, each perfon paying no more than three pauls, or about eighteen pence English money. Sundays are generally the greatest days for these diversions, which, on the whole, I think the most agreeable of any in this country, where the most surprising, and pleasing intrigues, as well amorous as political, are carried on.'

Page 141 Our Author gives an account of a whimsical kind of diversion at Pisa, which he calls the Battle of the Bridge. We do not recollect, that any writer has described it before Mr. Stevens.

• Having received information, that an uncommon feast or ceremony was to be exhibited at Pisa, on account of the • birth of a son of the Empress Queen of Hungary, a few se

« lect

[ocr errors]

lect friends of us, determined to be present at it; and as the season was finę, agreed to go by water to that end we hired a pleasure-boat, well stocked with a good cold colla

tion, and rich wines, with a small band of music on board; Jour little voyage was the moft pleasing imaginable, as it was

on the river Arno, which ran through the fertile vale of that name; the beautiful fields and meadows radjoining to the banks of the river, and the fine villas situated here, either

Come rising eminence, or charming vale, and sheltered from the winds by the surrounding high hills, whose tops

were covered with fine vineyards, I think afforded us a prof• pect the most romantic I had as yet furveyed; the harmony

of our musicians increased the pleafure, and feemed to keep <time with the cadence of the waters, whilst the adjacent

rocks and mountains echoed back their melodious strains : we put up at a pleasant little village in the evening, and the next day about noon reached Pisa, the river Arno, in delightful meandrings, extending quite to that place. Before I describe the town, I shall give an account of the strange kind of bat

tle fought at the bridge here, as that was the only motive • that induced me to visit this ancient city: It is called Juoco

de Ponte, or the Play of the Bridge; but more properly the • Battle of the Bridge, as the sequel will discover : and not• withstanding a great deal of mischief is the consequence of • it, the government cannot, in their opinion, confer a greater • favour on the inhabitants, than to grant them permission to

fight this battles and without leave from public authority, s as I have been informed, they dare not do it. It is as fol- laws, About a month before the day appointed for the bat• tle, a particular set of people, chosen to proclaim this fight,

go about the town, with drums beating, trumpets founding, • &c. in order to acquaint all persons of it; and in this month

the two parties raise Soldiers, and every evening meet on the < bridge about fix o'clock; when a parcel of little boys be

gin to fight in jest, but are foary followed by the men, who • fall to in earnest, and box each other heartily for a full hour'; s and this they call exercising themselves against the grand • battle : the officers of that fide or-party that had been defeated at the last battle, send a challenge to the other party,

who readily accept it. A day is then agreed on between " them; and about a weak before that time, each party go to <their respective churches; that diftinguished by the name of • Santa Maria, go to the church of St. Michael ; and the other

party, known by the appellation of St. Anthony, offer up o their devotions at the church of the Carmine ; at either

( church

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

church they sing mass, with a fire concert of music, and • the priest gives his benediction to them and their arms. On

the day designed for the engagement, both armies, meet; the officers, who are most of them Noblemen, treat their soldiers with liquors : each party consists of six squadrons, which assemble on each end of the bridge; and every soldier is dressed in armour, with an helmet on his head. There is a large place railed in from the street towards each end of

the bridge, in which the soldiers are placed in order of battle: within one of these inclosed places are about thirty • grenadiers on horseback, with drawn swords. On the mid• dle of the bridge is a large wooden rail, which reaches from • one side to the other; a squadron from either party draw up « in a rank against this rail : soon after the cannon at the fort is fired, as a fignal for engagement. When they cease fir

ing, the rail is pulled up, and the dreadful onset begins. • Their weapons are a piece of wood, almost in the shape of 6 a cricket-bat, not quite so long, indeed, but much larger

and thicker; this weapon is called a targone; they fight

with the same fury and animosity as if in the field of battle « against their common enemies, and strike with all their • force. It is really delightful to see with what agility and • dexterity they advance or retreat, as occasion requires : the

most regularly disciplined troops in the world could scarcely & excel them. Many lie sprawling on the ground, the blood

gushing out from their nose and ears ; others with broken

jaw-bones, arms, &c. through the violence of the blows. «'When one squadron is disordered, or retreats, another im

mediately advances : and all those, whether disabled or other' wife, that either party drags from the middle of the bridge < to the end, are made prisoners, difarmed, and fent over the

river in boats to their own lide, but are rendered incapable • of fighting any more during this battle, which continues a $.full hour; and then the cannons fire as at first, when they

are obliged to desist from fighting: and whatever party, at « that instant, have passed a certain mark on the bridge, are

declared conquerors, and march off with all the pride and pomp of victory. If it happens that they are in the heat of battle, and notwithstanding the signal given them to desist, by the cannon, they should still continue to fight, then the

horse-grenadiers before-mentioned, ride up, and sometimes $ not without great difficulty disperse them: and those who

have gained the victory march with drums and trumpers • sounding, to the place of the conquered, where there is

great

6

great feasting and rejoicing. The conquered return to their • homes very much mortified, and never appear during the te

joicings of the victors. Soon after the battle, it being then

almoft night, the party that gained the day, set on fire a « birch-broom out of every window in the street, which real

ly made a pretty appearance, and occasioned the burning fome • thousand brooms. Both parties, from the time of the chal

lenge, to the day of battle, wear in their hats cockades of • different colours, and their wives and friends breaft-knots :

but after the dispute is ended, the conquerors only have that • privilege, which they use for some time.'

Page 272, our Traveller, now arrived at Rome, among many other instances of the monstrous superstition of the people there, entertains us with the following account of the cereniony of blessing their animals, which he saw performed, at the church of St. Matthew.

« On this day,' says he, “ the relics of St. Anthony are car• ried about in procession: at the door of the church is placed

a tub filled with holy water; here stood a priest, with a large « brush in his hand, with which he sprinkled some thousands of • horses, asses, dogs, and other cattle, not only those in Rome, • but those likewise brought from several miles distant: the • horses and afles were decked with ribbons, and other trap• pings, their owners striving to excel each other in the e de. corations : the coaches allo of several Noblemen attended, « with the horses, ornamented with ribbons in the finest man

ner, and the coachmen and footmen with cockades in their . hats; they all drove up to the priest in his box; before him

was placed a large filver plate, capacious enough to hold a • fine firloin of English beef, into which every person who • brought his horse, or afs, &c. to be fprinkled and blefled « with this holy water, Aung fome money. The number was • fo great, that the horses kicked and pranced about, by which

means many were lamed, tho' it was imagined by being thus • iprinkled, they would be preserved from all unlucky acci..dents, at least for that year. The streets were so crowded, • 'by the great number of these country fellows bringing their • hories, that it made it dangerous to walk in them. The

image of St. Anthony, the protector of horses, is placed * over the door of the church, with his hand extended, as if • to bless them. Even the poorest country fellows, and boys,

mounted on afies, who had no money, presented a finall wax candle ; fo that the old priest had enough to have filled a large wax-chandler's shop.' Re:. Nov. 1756.

нь

k

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »