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town. After praying again for fome fhort time, they mount a ladder, and juft as they are going to be turned off, a man, who has a bafket filled with feveral forts of drams, gives a glafs to each of the prifoners, in order, as they fay, to fupport their fpirits, But, in my opinion, it would have been more feafonable in their long proceffion from the prison to the gallows, than at the very moment they were launching into eternity. As foon as they were turned off the ladder, the executioner gets upon their fhoulders, fliding down them, and by his weight puts them fooner out of their mifery. A prieft then directly afcends the ladder, and makes a long fermon, on the gallows, to the populace, which is generally large on thefe occafions: they hung till fun-fet, when they were taken down, and buried."
Page 134. The Carnival at Florence is a time of great diverfion, which continues generally three weeks, or a month; when almost every body appears in mafk, as, indeed, the Florentines generally are, being a very artful, cunning people*. they all affemble in the afternoon in the fquare or piazza Santo Croce, which is railed in after the fame manner as Bloomsbury-fquare in London; fometimes to the number of ten thoufand marks 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 fexes; the men fometimes, by way of frolic, drefs 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, dreffed like a gentleman, in a rich fuit of black velvet, without any mask on, and made a very fine figure: no prieft dares to be prefent at thefe diverfions in mask, on penalty of being fent even to the inquifition; that holy, or rather infernal office, employ a number of fpies, 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 fhould feize on a wrong perfon: a Gentleman laid a trap for one, which happily fucceeded to the fatisfaction of all prefent, he had got a piece of a prieft's old gown, artfully put at the bottom of his domino; and thofe having eyes like hawks,
The Authors of the Delices d' Italie, give a different character to the Florentines which fee, P. 203, tom. I.
foon difcerned the bait, who followed him for fome time, ⚫ before they feized on their fuppofed prey: at length being, as they imagined, abfolutely certain, they laid hold of him; but, on further examination, to their great difappointment, inftead of a Romish prieft, they found an heretical English Nobleman, who immediately fent to the Governor, who committed them to prifon; they only continued there one < night; for, at the Nobleman's request, they were fet at liberty the next morning. Whilft these diverfions pafs within fide the rails, no less pleasing ones are going forward without < fide them, for nothing can be more entertaining than to fee the oddity of the coaches and triumphal cars; fome of these laft are filled with muficians, who fit on benches, as in an orcheftra, dreffed in the most whimfical 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 mafk; on one you fee the coachman appear exactly like a great Ruffian bear, another is dreffed like a woman; the footmen behind appear in the fhape 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 refemble ftags or bulls, with large horns on their heads; others, lions, dromedaries, and camels, and even jack alles. In fhort, it is impoffible to conceive the liveliness and gaiety of the place; all parties and ranks giving way to the most unbounded mirth, while univerfal pleasure feems to reign: at fun-fet they difperfe; for after that time they are not permitted to walk in the ftreets masked, under a fevere penalty. At night there is a fefteen, or bail, at the opera-houfe, which, on this occafion, is finely illuminated; and has likewife a fine band of mufic, 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 thefe diverfions, which, on the whole, I think the moft agreeable of any in this country, where the moft furprifing, and pleafing intrigues, as well amorous as political, are carried on.'
Page 141 our Author gives an account of a whimfical kind of diverfion at Pifa, which he calls the Battle of the Bridge. We do not recollect, that any writer has defcribed it before Mr. Stevens.
Having received information, that an uncommon feast or ceremony was to be exhibited at Pifa, on account of the birth of a fon of the Emprefs Queen of Hungary, a few fe
lect friends of us, determined to be prefent at it; and as the feafon was fine, agreed to go by water; to that end we hired a pleasure boat, well stocked with a good cold collation, and rich wines, with a small band of mufic on board'; our little voyage was the most pleasing imaginable, as it was on the river Arno, which ran through the fertile vale of thất <name; the beautiful fields and meadows adjoining to the banks of the river, and the fine villas fituated here, either on fome rifing eminence, or charming vale, and sheltered from the winds by the furrounding high hills, whofe tops were covered with fine vineyards, I think afforded us a profpect the most romantic I had as yet furveyed; the harmony of our musicians increafed the pleafure, and feemed to keep time with the cadence of the waters, whilft 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 Pifa, the river Arno, in delightful meandrings, extending quite to that place. Before I defcribe the town, I fhall give an account of the ftrange kind of battle fought at the bridge here, as that was the only motive that induced me to vifit 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 fequel will difcover: and notwithstanding a great deal of mifchief is the confequence of it, the government cannot, in their opinion, confer a greater favour on the inhabitants, than to grant them permission to fight this battle; and without leave from public authority, as I have been informed, they dare not do it. It is as follows. About a month before the day appointed for the battle, a particular fet of people, chofen to proclaim this fight, go about the town, with drums beating, trumpets founding, • &c. in order to acquaint all perfons of it; and in this month the two parties raife foldiers, and every evening meet on the bridge about fix o'clock; when a parcel of little boys begin to fight in jeft, but are foon followed by the men, who fall to in earnest, and box each other heartily for a full hour'; and this they call exercifing themselves against the grand battle: the officers of that fide or party that had been defeated at the laft battle, fend a challenge to the other party, who readily accept it. A day is then agreed on between them; and about a week before that time, each party go to their respective churches; that diftinguifhed 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 their devotions at the church of the Carmine; at either • church
* church they fing mafs, with a fire concert of mufic, and the priest gives his benediction to them and their arms. On the day defigned for the engagement, both armies meet; the officers, who are most of them Noblemen, treat their foldiers with liquors: each party confifts of fix fquadrons, which affemble on each end of the bridge; and every foldier is dreffed 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 foldiers are placed in order of battle: within one of these inclofed places are about thirty grenadiers on horfeback, with drawn fwords. On the middle of the bridge is a large wooden rail, which reaches from one fide to the other; a fquadron from either party draw up • in a rank against this rail: foon after the cannon at the fort is fired, as a fignal for engagement. When they cease firing, the rail is pulled up, and the dreadful onset begins. Their weapons are a piece of wood, almoft in the shape of a cricket-bat, not quite fo long, indeed, but much larger and thicker; this weapon is called a targone; they fight with the fame fury and animofity as if in the field of battle against their common enemies, and ftrike with all their force. It is really delightful to fee with what agility and ⚫ dexterity they advance or retreat, as occafion requires: the moft regularly difciplined troops in the world could scarcely excel them. Many lie fprawling on the ground, the blood gufhing out from their nofe and ears; others with broken jaw-bones, arms, &c. through the violence of the blows. When one fquadron is disordered, or retreats, another immediately advances: and all thofe, whether difabled or otherwife, that either party drags from the middle of the bridge to the end, are made prifoners, difarmed, and fent over the river in boats to their own fide, but are rendered incapable of fighting any more during this battle, which continues a full hour; and then the cannons fire as at firft, when they are obliged to defift from fighting: and whatever party, at • that inftant, have paffed 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 fignal given them to defift, by the cannon, they fhould still continue to fight, then the horfe-grenadiers before-mentioned, ride up, and fometimes not without great difficulty difperfe them: and those who have gained the victory march with drums and trumpets founding, to the place of the conquered, where there is
great feasting and rejoicing. The conquered return to thei 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, fet on fire a ⚫ birch-broom out of every window in the ftreet, which really made a pretty appearance, and occafioned the burning fome ⚫ thousand brooms. Both parties, from the time of the challenge, to the day of battle, wear in their hats cockades of different colours, and their wives and friends breaft-knots : but after the difpute is ended, the conquerors only have that privilege, which they ufe for fome time.'
Page 272, our Traveller, now arrived at Rome, among many other inftances of the monftrous fuperftition of the people there, entertains us with the following account of the ceremony of bleffing their animals; which he faw performed, at the church of St. Matthew.
On this day,' fays he, the relics of St. Anthony are carried about in proceffion: at the door of the church is placed a tub filled with holy water; here ftood a prieft, with a large • brush in his hand, with which he sprinkled fome thousands of horfes, affes, dogs, and other cattle, not only those in Rome, but thofe likewife brought from feveral miles diftant: the horfes and affes were decked with ribbons, and other trappings, their owners ftriving to excel each other in the e de⚫corations: the coaches alfo of several Noblemen attended, with the horses, ornamented with ribbons in the finest manner, 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 Englifh beef, into which every person who brought his horfe, or afs, &c. to be fprinkled and blessed with this holy water, flung 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 fprinkled, they would be preferved from all unlucky accidents, at leaft for that year. The ftreets were fo crowded, by the great number of thefe country fellows bringing their horfes, 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 blefs them. Even the poorest country fellows, and boys, mounted on affes, who had no money, prefented a finall wax candle; fo that the old priest had enough to have filled a large wax-chandler's fhop.' REV. Nov. 1756.