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tower away beautifully at the further end, and seem much nearer than they are. The Arno, which is about as wide perhaps as the Isis at Oxford, is sandy coloured, and in the summer-time shrunken; but still it is the river of the great Tuscan writers, the visible possessor of the name we have all heard a thousand times, and we feel what a true thing is that which is called ideal.
The first novelty that strikes you, after your dreams and matter-of-fact have recovered from the surprise of their introduction to one another, is the singular fairness and new look of houses that have been standing hundreds of years. This is owing to the Italian atmosphere. Antiquity every where refuses to look ancient; it insists upon retaining its youthfulness of aspect. The consequence at first is a mixed feeling of admiration and disappointment; for we miss the venerable. The houses seem as if they ought to have sympathized more with humanity, and were as cold and as hardhearted as their materials. But you soon find that Italy is the land, not of the venerable, but the beautiful; and cease to look for old age in the chosen country of the Apollo and the Venus. The only real antiquities are those in Dante and the oldest painters, who treat of the Bible in an ancient style. Among the mansions on the Lungarno is one entirely fronted with marble, and marble so pure and smooth that you can see your face in it. It is in a most graceful style of architecture, and has a curious symbol and motto over the door, which is the second Pisan mystery. The symbol is an actual fetter, attached with great nicety of taste to the middle stone over the door-way: the motto, Alla Giornata (For the Day, or the Day's Work). The allusion is supposed to be to some captivity undergone by one of the Lanfreducci family, the proprietors: but nobody knows. Further up on the same side of the way, is the old ducal palace,
said to be the scene of the murder of Don Garcia by his father, which is the subject of one of Alfieri's tragedies : and between both, a little before you come to the old palace, is the mansion still belonging to the family of the Lanfranchi, formerly one of the most powerful in Pisa. Part of the inside is said to have been built by Michael Angelo. The Lanfranchi were among the nobles, who conspired to pull down the traitorous ascendancy of Count Ugolino, and wreaked that more infamous revenge on him and his young children. I need not remind the reader of the passage in Dante; but perhaps he is not aware, that Chaucer has worthily related the story after him, referring, with his usual modesty, for a more sufficing account, to “ the grete poete “ of Itaille.” See the Monk's Tale, part the last, entitled “ Hugelin of Pise.” The tower in which Ugolino was starved, was afterwards called the Tower of Famine. Chaucer, who is supposed to have been in Italy, says that it stood “ a littel out” of Pisa ; Villani says, in the Piazza of the Anziani. It is understood to be no longer in existence, and even its site is disputed. It is curious to feel oneself sitting quietly in one of the old Italian houses, and think of all the interests and passions that have agitated the hearts of so many generations of its tenants; all the revels and the quarrels that have echoed along its walls; all the guitars that have tinkled under its windows; all the scuffles that have disputed its doors. Along the great halls, how many feet have hurried in alarm! how many stately beauties have drawn their quiet trains! how many huge torches have ushered magnificence up the staircases ! how much blood perhaps been shed! The ground-floors of all the great houses in Pisa, as in other Italian cities, have iron bars at the windows, evidently for security in time of trouble. The look is at first very gloomy and prison-like, but you get used to it. The bars
also are thin, round, and painted white, and the interstices large; and if the windows are towards a garden, and bordered with shrubs and ivy, as in the Casa Lanfranchi, the imagination makes a compromise with their prison-like appearance, and persuades itself they are guards only in time of war, but trellises during a peace-establishment All the floors are made for separate families, it having been the custom in Italy from time immemorial for fathers and mothers, sons and daughters-in-law, or vice versa, with as many other relations as might be "agreeable,” to live under the same roof. Spaciousness and utility were the great objects with the builder; and a stranger is sometimes surprised with the look of the finest houses outside, particularly that of the ground floor. The stables used often to be there, and their place is now as often occupied by shops. In the inside of the great private houses there is always a certain majestic amplitude; but the entrances of the rooms and the staircase on the ground floor are often placed irregularly, so as to sacrifice everything to convenience. In the details there is sure to be a noble eye to proportion. You cannot look at the elevation of the commonest door-way, or the ceiling of a room appropriated to the humblest purposes, but you recognize the land of the fine arts. You think Michael Angelo has been at the turning of those arches,at the harmonizing of those beautiful varieties of shape, which by the secret principles common to all the arts and sciences, affect the mind like a sort of inaudible music. The very plasterer who is hired to give the bare walls of some old unused apartment an appearance of ornament, paints his door-ways, his pilasters, and his borders of leaves, in a bold style of relief and illusion, which would astonish the doubtful hand of many a gentleman " in the higher walks of art.” It must be observed however, that this is a piece of good taste which seems to have survived most others, and to have been kept up by the objects upon which it works ; for the arts are at present lying fallow in Italy, waiting for more strenuous times.
I was so taken up, on my arrival at Pisa, with friends and their better novelties, that I forgot even to look about me for the Leaning Tower. You lose sight of it on entering the town, unless you come in at the Lucca gate. On the Sunday following however I went to see it, and the majestic spot in which it stands, with Mr. Shelley. Good God ! what a day that was, compared with all that have followed it! I had my friend with me, arm-in-arm, after a separation of years : he was looking better than I had ever seen himwe talked of a thousand things—we anticipated a thousand pleasures - I must plunge again into my writing, that I may try to forget it.
The Leaning Tower stands in a solitary quarter of the city, but in illustrious company. Mr. Forsythe, a late traveller of much shrewdness and pith, (though a want of ear, and an affectation of ultra good sense, render him sometimes extremely unfit for a critic on Italy,—as where he puts music and perfumery on a level,) has been beforehand with the spot itself in putting this idea in my head. “ Pisa,” he," while the capital of a republic, was celebrated for its profusion of marble, its patrician towers, and its grave “ magnificence. It still can boast some marble churches, “a marble palace, and a marble bridge. Its towers, though
no longer a mark of nobility, may be traced in the walls of “ modernized houses. Its gravity pervades every street; “ but its magnificence is now confined to one sacred corner. “ There stand the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Leaning “ Tower, and the Campo Santo; all built of the same marble, “ all varieties of the same architecture, all venerable with
and fortunate both in their society and in their solitude.”—Forsythe's Italy, 1801.
I know not whether my first sensation at the sight of the Leaning Tower, was admiration of its extreme beauty, or its threatening attitude. I remember being exceedingly struck with both. Its beauty has never been sufficiently praised. Its overhanging aspect seems to menace the houses near it with instant destruction. The inclination is fourteen feet out of the perpendicular, and has singularly escaped the exaggerations of travellers and pictures. We wonder that people should build houses underneath it, till we recollect that it has probably stood thus ever since it was built, that is to say, for nearly six hundred and fifty years; and that habit reconciles us to any thing. “ The Leaning Tower at “ first sight,” says Mr. Matthews, in his Diary of an Invalid, “ is quite terrific, and exceeds expectation. There is, I be“ lieve, no doubt of the real history of this tower. The foun
dation-ground gave way during the progress of the build"ing, and the architect completed his work in the direction 'thus accidentally given to it. Accordingly, we find in the “ construction of the upper part, that the weight is sup
ported in a way to support the equilibrium.” He means, that something of a curve backwards is given to it. Mr. Forsythe seems to ridicule opinions to this effect; but I can only say, that such was the impression on my own eyes, before I called to mind anything that had been said about it. The structure was begun by a German artist, William of Inspruck, and finished by Italians. Several other towers in Pisa, including the Observatory, have a very visible inclination, owing to the same cause,—the sinking of the soil, which is light, sandy, and full of springs; and surely nothing is more probable than an attempt on the part of the builders of so beautiful a structure to counteract the consequences of