If softness in the female character, and meek humility of countenance, be all that are wanted for the head of a Madonna, we must go to Elisabetta Sirani and Sassoferrata I think; but it is ever so. The Cordelia of Mrs. Cibber was beyond all comparison softer and sweeter than that of her powerful successor Siddons; yet who will say that the actresses were equal?
But I must bid adieu to beautiful Florence, where the streets are kept so clean one is afraid to dirty them, and not one’s self, by walking in them: where the public walks are all nicely weeded, as in England, and the gardens have a homeish and Bath-like look, that is excessively cheering to an English eye:—where, when I dined at Prince Corsini’s table, I heard the Cardinal say grace, and thought of the ceremonies at Queen’s College, Oxford; where I had the honour of entertaining, at my own dinner on the 25th of July, many of the Tuscan, and many of the English nobility; and Nardini kindly played a solo in the evening at a concert we gave in Meghitt’s great room:—where we have compiled the little book amongst us, known by the name of the Florence Miscellany; as a memorial of that friendship which does me so much honour, and which I earnestly hope may long subsist among us:—where in short we have lived exceeding comfortably, but where dear Mrs. Greatheed and myself have encouraged each other, in saying it would be particularly sad to die, not of the gnats, or more properly musquitoes, for they do not sting one quite to death, though their venom has swelled my arm so as to oblige me to carry it for this last week in a sling; but of the mal di petto, which is endemial in this country, and much resembling our pleurisy in its effects.
Blindness too seems no uncommon misfortune at Florence, from the strong reverberation of the sun’s rays on houses of the cleanest and most brilliant whiteness; kept so elegantly nice too, that I should despair of seeing more delicacy at Amsterdam.
Apoplexies are likewise frequent enough: I saw a man carried out stone dead from St. Pancrazio’s church one morning about noon-day; but nobody seemed disturbed at the event I think, except myself. Though this is no good town to take one’s last leave of life in neither; as the body one has been so long taking care of, would in twenty-four hours be hoisted up upon a common cart, with those of all the people who died the same day, and being fairly carried out of Porto San Gallo towards the dusk of evening, would be shot into a hole dug away from the city, properly enough, to protect Florence, and keep it clear of putrid disorders and disagreeable smells. All this with little ceremony to be sure, and less distinction; for the Grand Duke suffers the pride of birth to last no longer than life however, and demolishes every hope of the woman of quality lying in a separate grave from the distressed object who begged at her carriage door when she was last on an airing.