What have we with day to do?
Sons of Care! ’twas made for you.
Here we are by the sea-side once more, in a trading town too; and I should think myself in England almost, but for the difference of dresses that pass under my balcony: for here we were immediately addressed by a young English gentleman, who politely put us in possession of his apartments, the best situated in the town; and with him we talked of the dear coast of Devonshire, agreed upon the resemblance between that and these environs, but gave the preference to home, on account of its undulated shore, finely fringed with woodlands, which here are wanting: nor is this verdure equal to ours in vivid colouring, or variegated with so much taste as those lovely hills which are adorned by the antiquities of Powderham Castle, and the fine disposition of Lord Lisburne’s park.
But here is an English consul at Leghorn. Yes indeed! an English chapel too; our own King’s arms over the door, and in the desk and pulpit an English clergyman; high in character, eminent for learning, genteel in his address, and charitable in every sense of the word: as such, truly loved and honoured by those of his own persuasion, exceedingly respected by those of every other, which fill this extraordinary city: a place so populous, that Cheapside alone can surpass it.
It is not a large place however; one very long straight street, and one very large wide square, not less than Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, but I think bigger, form the whole of Leghorn; which I can compare to nothing but a camera obscura, or magic lanthron, exhibiting prodigious variety of different, and not uninteresting figures, that pass and re-pass to my incessant delight, and give that sort of empty amusement which is a la portee de chacun[Footnote: Within every one’s reach.] so completely, that for the present it really serves to drive every thing else from my head, and makes me little desirous to quit for any other diversion the windows or balcony, whence I look down now upon a Levantine Jew, dressed in long robes, a sort of odd turban, and immense beard: now upon a Tuscan contadinella, with the little straw hat, nosegay and jewels, I have been so often struck with. Here an Armenian Christian, with long hair, long gown, long beard, all black as a raven; who calls upon an old grey Franciscan friar for a walk; while a Greek woman, obliged to cross the street on some occasion, throws a vast white veil all over her person, lest she should undergo the disgrace of being seen at all.
Sometimes a group goes by, composed of a broad Dutch sailor, a dry-starched puritan, and an old French officer; whose knowledge of the world and habitual politeness contrive to conceal the contempt he has of his companions.
The geometricians tell us that the figure which has most angles bears the nearest resemblance to that which has no angles at all; so here at Leghorn, where you can hardly find forty men of a mind, dispute and contention grow vain, a comfortable though temporary union takes place, while nature and opinion bend to interest and necessity.