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    Chapter 24

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    Chapter 25
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    Some of the Quaker City's passengers had arrived in Venice from
    Switzerland and other lands before we left there, and others were
    expected every day. We heard of no casualties among them, and no
    sickness.

    We were a little fatigued with sight seeing, and so we rattled through a
    good deal of country by rail without caring to stop. I took few notes.
    I find no mention of Bologna in my memorandum book, except that we
    arrived there in good season, but saw none of the sausages for which the
    place is so justly celebrated.

    Pistoia awoke but a passing interest.

    Florence pleased us for a while. I think we appreciated the great figure
    of David in the grand square, and the sculptured group they call the Rape
    of the Sabines. We wandered through the endless collections of paintings
    and statues of the Pitti and Ufizzi galleries, of course. I make that
    statement in self-defense; there let it stop. I could not rest under the
    imputation that I visited Florence and did not traverse its weary miles
    of picture galleries. We tried indolently to recollect something about
    the Guelphs and Ghibelines and the other historical cut-throats whose
    quarrels and assassinations make up so large a share of Florentine
    history, but the subject was not attractive. We had been robbed of all
    the fine mountain scenery on our little journey by a system of
    railroading that had three miles of tunnel to a hundred yards of
    daylight, and we were not inclined to be sociable with Florence. We had
    seen the spot, outside the city somewhere, where these people had allowed
    the bones of Galileo to rest in unconsecrated ground for an age because
    his great discovery that the world turned around was regarded as a
    damning heresy by the church; and we know that long after the world had
    accepted his theory and raised his name high in the list of its great
    men, they had still let him rot there. That we had lived to see his dust
    in honored sepulture in the church of Santa Croce we owed to a society of
    literati, and not to Florence or her rulers. We saw Dante's tomb in that
    church, also, but we were glad to know that his body was not in it; that
    the ungrateful city that had exiled him and persecuted him would give
    much to have it there, but need not hope to ever secure that high honor
    to herself. Medicis are good enough for Florence. Let her plant Medicis
    and build grand monuments over them to testify how gratefully she was
    wont to lick the hand that scourged her.

    Magnanimous Florence! Her jewelry marts are filled with artists in
    mosaic. Florentine mosaics are the choicest in all the world. Florence
    loves to have that said. Florence is proud of it. Florence would foster
    this specialty of hers. She is grateful to the artists that bring to her
    this high credit and fill her coffers with foreign money, and so she
    encourages them with pensions. With pensions! Think of the lavishness
    of it. She knows that people who piece together the beautiful trifles
    die early, because the labor is so confining, and so exhausting to hand
    and brain, and so she has decreed that all these people who reach the age
    of sixty shall have a pension after that! I have not heard that any of
    them have called for their dividends yet. One man did fight along till
    he was sixty, and started after his pension, but it appeared that there
    had been a mistake of a year in his family record, and so he gave it up
    and died.

    These artists will take particles of stone or glass no larger than a
    mustard seed, and piece them together on a sleeve button or a shirt stud,
    so smoothly and with such nice adjustment of the delicate shades of color
    the pieces bear, as to form a pigmy rose with stem, thorn, leaves, petals
    complete, and all as softly and as truthfully tinted as though Nature had
    builded it herself. They will counterfeit a fly, or a high-toned bug, or
    the ruined Coliseum, within the cramped circle of a breastpin, and do it
    so deftly and so neatly that any man might think a master painted it.

    I saw a little table in the great mosaic school in Florence--a little
    trifle of a centre table--whose top was made of some sort of precious
    polished stone, and in the stone was inlaid the figure of a flute, with
    bell-mouth and a mazy complication of keys. No painting in the world
    could have been softer or richer; no shading out of one tint into another
    could have been more perfect; no work of art of any kind could have been
    more faultless than this flute, and yet to count the multitude of little
    fragments of stone of which they swore it was formed would bankrupt any
    man's arithmetic! I do not think one could have seen where two particles
    joined each other with eyes of ordinary shrewdness. Certainly we could
    detect no such blemish. This table-top cost the labor of one man for ten
    long years, so they said, and it was for sale for thirty-five thousand
    dollars.

    We went to the Church of Santa Croce, from time to time, in Florence, to
    weep over the tombs of Michael Angelo, Raphael and Machiavelli,
    (I suppose they are buried there, but it may be that they reside
    elsewhere and rent their tombs to other parties--such being the fashion
    in Italy,) and between times we used to go and stand on the bridges and
    admire the Arno. It is popular to admire the Arno. It is a great
    historical creek with four feet in the channel and some scows floating
    around. It would be a very plausible river if they would pump some water
    into it. They all call it a river, and they honestly think it is a
    river, do these dark and bloody Florentines. They even help out the
    delusion by building bridges over it. I do not see why they are too good
    to wade.

    How the fatigues and annoyances of travel fill one with bitter prejudices
    sometimes! I might enter Florence under happier auspices a month hence
    and find it all beautiful, all attractive. But I do not care to think of
    it now, at all, nor of its roomy shops filled to the ceiling with snowy
    marble and alabaster copies of all the celebrated sculptures in Europe
    --copies so enchanting to the eye that I wonder how they can really be
    shaped like the dingy petrified nightmares they are the portraits of. I
    got lost in Florence at nine o'clock, one night, and staid lost in that
    labyrinth of narrow streets and long rows of vast buildings that look all
    alike, until toward three o'clock in the morning. It was a pleasant
    night and at first there were a good many people abroad, and there were
    cheerful lights about. Later, I grew accustomed to prowling about
    mysterious drifts and tunnels and astonishing and interesting myself with
    coming around corners expecting to find the hotel staring me in the face,
    and not finding it doing any thing of the kind. Later still, I felt
    tired. I soon felt remarkably tired. But there was no one abroad, now
    --not even a policeman. I walked till I was out of all patience, and very
    hot and thirsty. At last, somewhere after one o'clock, I came
    unexpectedly to one of the city gates. I knew then that I was very far
    from the hotel. The soldiers thought I wanted to leave the city, and
    they sprang up and barred the way with their muskets. I said:

    "Hotel d'Europe!"

    It was all the Italian I knew, and I was not certain whether that was
    Italian or French. The soldiers looked stupidly at each other and at me,
    and shook their heads and took me into custody. I said I wanted to go
    home. They did not understand me. They took me into the guard-house and
    searched me, but they found no sedition on me. They found a small piece
    of soap (we carry soap with us, now,) and I made them a present of it,
    seeing that they regarded it as a curiosity. I continued to say Hotel
    d'Europe, and they continued to shake their heads, until at last a young
    soldier nodding in the corner roused up and said something. He said he
    knew where the hotel was, I suppose, for the officer of the guard sent
    him away with me. We walked a hundred or a hundred and fifty miles, it
    appeared to me, and then he got lost. He turned this way and that, and
    finally gave it up and signified that he was going to spend the remainder
    of the morning trying to find the city gate again. At that moment it
    struck me that there was something familiar about the house over the way.
    It was the hotel!

    It was a happy thing for me that there happened to be a soldier there
    that knew even as much as he did; for they say that the policy of the
    government is to change the soldiery from one place to another constantly
    and from country to city, so that they can not become acquainted with the
    people and grow lax in their duties and enter into plots and conspiracies
    with friends. My experiences of Florence were chiefly unpleasant. I
    will change the subject.

    At Pisa we climbed up to the top of the strangest structure the world has
    any knowledge of--the Leaning Tower. As every one knows, it is in the
    neighborhood of one hundred and eighty feet high--and I beg to observe
    that one hundred and eighty feet reach to about the hight of four
    ordinary three-story buildings piled one on top of the other, and is a
    very considerable altitude for a tower of uniform thickness to aspire to,
    even when it stands upright--yet this one leans more than thirteen feet
    out of the perpendicular. It is seven hundred years old, but neither
    history or tradition say whether it was built as it is, purposely, or
    whether one of its sides has settled. There is no record that it ever
    stood straight up. It is built of marble. It is an airy and a beautiful
    structure, and each of its eight stories is encircled by fluted columns,
    some of marble and some of granite, with Corinthian capitals that were
    handsome when they were new. It is a bell tower, and in its top hangs a
    chime of ancient bells. The winding staircase within is dark, but one
    always knows which side of the tower he is on because of his naturally
    gravitating from one side to the other of the staircase with the rise or
    dip of the tower. Some of the stone steps are foot-worn only on one end;
    others only on the other end; others only in the middle. To look down
    into the tower from the top is like looking down into a tilted well. A
    rope that hangs from the centre of the top touches the wall before it
    reaches the bottom. Standing on the summit, one does not feel altogether
    comfortable when he looks down from the high side; but to crawl on your
    breast to the verge on the lower side and try to stretch your neck out
    far enough to see the base of the tower, makes your flesh creep, and
    convinces you for a single moment in spite of all your philosophy, that
    the building is falling. You handle yourself very carefully, all the
    time, under the silly impression that if it is not falling, your trifling
    weight will start it unless you are particular not to "bear down" on it.

    The Duomo, close at hand, is one of the finest cathedrals in Europe. It
    is eight hundred years old. Its grandeur has outlived the high
    commercial prosperity and the political importance that made it a
    necessity, or rather a possibility. Surrounded by poverty, decay and
    ruin, it conveys to us a more tangible impression of the former greatness
    of Pisa than books could give us.

    The Baptistery, which is a few years older than the Leaning Tower, is a
    stately rotunda, of huge dimensions, and was a costly structure. In it
    hangs the lamp whose measured swing suggested to Galileo the pendulum.
    It looked an insignificant thing to have conferred upon the world of
    science and mechanics such a mighty extension of their dominions as it
    has. Pondering, in its suggestive presence, I seemed to see a crazy
    universe of swinging disks, the toiling children of this sedate parent.
    He appeared to have an intelligent expression about him of knowing that
    he was not a lamp at all; that he was a Pendulum; a pendulum disguised,
    for prodigious and inscrutable purposes of his own deep devising, and not
    a common pendulum either, but the old original patriarchal Pendulum--the
    Abraham Pendulum of the world.

    This Baptistery is endowed with the most pleasing echo of all the echoes
    we have read of. The guide sounded two sonorous notes, about half an
    octave apart; the echo answered with the most enchanting, the most
    melodious, the richest blending of sweet sounds that one can imagine. It
    was like a long-drawn chord of a church organ, infinitely softened by
    distance. I may be extravagant in this matter, but if this be the case
    my ear is to blame--not my pen. I am describing a memory--and one that
    will remain long with me.

    The peculiar devotional spirit of the olden time, which placed a higher
    confidence in outward forms of worship than in the watchful guarding of
    the heart against sinful thoughts and the hands against sinful deeds, and
    which believed in the protecting virtues of inanimate objects made holy
    by contact with holy things, is illustrated in a striking manner in one
    of the cemeteries of Pisa. The tombs are set in soil brought in ships
    from the Holy Land ages ago. To be buried in such ground was regarded by
    the ancient Pisans as being more potent for salvation than many masses
    purchased of the church and the vowing of many candles to the Virgin.

    Pisa is believed to be about three thousand years old. It was one of the
    twelve great cities of ancient Etruria, that commonwealth which has left
    so many monuments in testimony of its extraordinary advancement, and so
    little history of itself that is tangible and comprehensible. A Pisan
    antiquarian gave me an ancient tear-jug which he averred was full four
    thousand years old. It was found among the ruins of one of the oldest of
    the Etruscan cities. He said it came from a tomb, and was used by some
    bereaved family in that remote age when even the Pyramids of Egypt were
    young, Damascus a village, Abraham a prattling infant and ancient Troy
    not yet [dreampt] of, to receive the tears wept for some lost idol of a
    household. It spoke to us in a language of its own; and with a pathos
    more tender than any words might bring, its mute eloquence swept down the
    long roll of the centuries with its tale of a vacant chair, a familiar
    footstep missed from the threshold, a pleasant voice gone from the
    chorus, a vanished form!--a tale which is always so new to us, so
    startling, so terrible, so benumbing to the senses, and behold how
    threadbare and old it is! No shrewdly-worded history could have brought
    the myths and shadows of that old dreamy age before us clothed with human
    flesh and warmed with human sympathies so vividly as did this poor little
    unsentient vessel of pottery.

    Pisa was a republic in the middle ages, with a government of her own,
    armies and navies of her own and a great commerce. She was a warlike
    power, and inscribed upon her banners many a brilliant fight with Genoese
    and Turks. It is said that the city once numbered a population of four
    hundred thousand; but her sceptre has passed from her grasp, now, her
    ships and her armies are gone, her commerce is dead. Her battle-flags
    bear the mold and the dust of centuries, her marts are deserted, she has
    shrunken far within her crumbling walls, and her great population has
    diminished to twenty thousand souls. She has but one thing left to boast
    of, and that is not much, viz: she is the second city of Tuscany.

    We reached Leghorn in time to see all we wished to see of it long before
    the city gates were closed for the evening, and then came on board the
    ship.

    We felt as though we had been away from home an age. We never entirely
    appreciated, before, what a very pleasant den our state-room is; nor how
    jolly it is to sit at dinner in one's own seat in one's own cabin, and
    hold familiar conversation with friends in one's own language. Oh, the
    rare happiness of comprehending every single word that is said, and
    knowing that every word one says in return will be understood as well!
    We would talk ourselves to death, now, only there are only about ten
    passengers out of the sixty-five to talk to. The others are wandering,
    we hardly know where. We shall not go ashore in Leghorn. We are
    surfeited with Italian cities for the present, and much prefer to walk
    the familiar quarterdeck and view this one from a distance.

    The stupid magnates of this Leghorn government can not understand that so
    large a steamer as ours could cross the broad Atlantic with no other
    purpose than to indulge a party of ladies and gentlemen in a pleasure
    excursion. It looks too improbable. It is suspicious, they think.
    Something more important must be hidden behind it all. They can not
    understand it, and they scorn the evidence of the ship's papers. They
    have decided at last that we are a battalion of incendiary, blood-thirsty
    Garibaldians in disguise! And in all seriousness they have set a
    gun-boat to watch the vessel night and day, with orders to close down on
    any revolutionary movement in a twinkling! Police boats are on patrol
    duty about us all the time, and it is as much as a sailor's liberty is
    worth to show himself in a red shirt. These policemen follow the
    executive officer's boat from shore to ship and from ship to shore and
    watch his dark maneuvres with a vigilant eye. They will arrest him yet
    unless he assumes an expression of countenance that shall have less of
    carnage, insurrection and sedition in it. A visit paid in a friendly
    way to General Garibaldi yesterday (by cordial invitation,) by some of
    our passengers, has gone far to confirm the dread suspicions the
    government harbors toward us. It is thought the friendly visit was only
    the cloak of a bloody conspiracy. These people draw near and watch us
    when we bathe in the sea from the ship's side. Do they think we are
    communing with a reserve force of rascals at the bottom?

    It is said that we shall probably be quarantined at Naples. Two or three
    of us prefer not to run this risk. Therefore, when we are rested, we
    propose to go in a French steamer to Civita and from thence to Rome, and
    by rail to Naples. They do not quarantine the cars, no matter where they
    got their passengers from.
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