The Contorni of Leghorn are really very pretty; the Appenine mountains degenerate into hills as they run round the bay, but gain in beauty what in sublimity they lose.
To enjoy an open sea view, one must drive further; and it really affords a noble prospect from that rising ground where I understand that the rich Jews hold their summer habitations. They have a synagogue in the town, where I went one evening, and heard the Hebrew service, and thought of what Dr. Burney says of their singing.
It is however no credit to the Tuscans to tell, that of all the people gathered together here, they are the worst-looking—I speak of the men—but it is so. When compared with the German soldiery, the English sailors, the Venetian traders, the Neapolitan peasants, for I have seen some of them here, how feeble a fellow is a genuine Florentine! And when one recollects the cottagers of Lombardy, that handsome hardy race; bright in their expression, and muscular in their strength; it is still stranger, what can have weakened these too delicate Tuscans so. As they are very rich, and might be very happy under the protection of a prince who lets slip no opportunity of preferring his plebeian to his patrician subjects; yet here at Leghorn they have a tender frame and an unhealthy look, occasioned possibly by the stagnant waters, which tender the environs unwholesome enough I believe; and the millions of live creatures they produce are enough to distract a person not accustomed to such buzzing company.
We went out for air yesterday morning three or four miles beyond the town-walls, where I looked steadily at the sea, till I half thought myself at home. The ocean being peculiarly British property favoured the idea, and for a moment I felt as if on our southern coast; we walked forward towards the shore, and I stepped upon some rocks that broke the waves as they rolled in, and was wishing for a good bathing house that one might enjoy the benefit of salt-water so long withheld; till I saw our laquais de place crossing himself at the carriage door, and wondering, as I afterwards found out, at my matchless intrepidity. The mind however took another train of thought, and we returned to the coach, which when we arrived at I refused to enter; not without screaming I fear, as a vast hornet had taken possession in our absence, and the very notion of such a companion threw me into an agony. Our attendant’s speech to the coachman however, made me more than amends: “Ora si vede amico” (says he), “cos’e la Donna; del mare istesso non ha paura e pur va in convulsioni per via d’una mosca[Z].” This truly Tuscan and highly contemptuous harangue, uttered with the utmost deliberation, and added to the absence of the hornet, sent me laughing into the carriage, with great esteem of our philosophical Rosso, for so the fellow was called, because he had red hair.