The brazen gates here, carved by John of Bologna, at least begun by him, are a wonderful work; and the marbles in the baptistery beat those of Florence for value and for variety. A good lapidary might find perpetual amusement in adjusting the claims of superiority to these precious columns of jasper, granite, alabaster, &c. The different animals which support the font being equally admirable for their composition as for their workmanship.
The Campo Santo is an extraordinary place, and, for aught I know, unparalleled for its power over the mind in exciting serious contemplations upon the body’s decay, and suggesting consolatory thoughts concerning the soul’s immortality. Here in three days, owing to quick-lime mixed among the earth, vanishes every vestige, every trace of the human being carried thither seventy hours before, and here round the walls Giotto and Cimabue have exhausted their invention to impress the passers-by with deep and pensive melancholy.
The four stages of man’s short life, infancy, childhood, maturity, and decrepit age, not ill represented by one of the ancient artists, shew the sad but not slow progress we make to this dark abode; while the last judgment, hell, and paradise inform us what events of the utmost consequence are to follow our journey. All this a modern traveller finds out to be vastly ridiculous! though Doctor Smollet (whose book I think he has read) confesses, that the spacious Corridor round the Campo Santo di Pisa would make the noblest walk in the world perhaps for a contemplative philosopher.
The tomb of Algarotti produces softer ideas when one looks at the sepulchre of a man who, having deserved and obtained such solid and extensive praise, modestly contented himself with desiring that his epitaph might be so worded, as to record, upon a simple but lasting monument, that he had the honour of being disciple to the immortal Newton.
The battle of the bridge here at Pisa drew a great many spectators this year, as it has not been performed for a considerable time before: the waiters at our inn here give a better account of it than one should have got perhaps from Cavalier or Dama, who would have felt less interested in the business, and seen it from a greater distance. The armies of Sant’ Antonio, and I think San Giovanni Battista, but I will not be positive as to the last, disputed the possession of the bridge, and fought gallantly I fancy; but the first remained conqueror, as our very conversible Camerieres took care to inform us, as it was on that side it seems that they had exerted their valour.