We took coach to Livorno, through the Great Duke’s new park full of huge cork trees, the underwood all myrtles, among which were many buffaloes feeding, a kind of wild ox, short nose with horns reversed; those who work with them command them, as our bearwards do the bears, with a ring through the nose, and a cord. Much of this park, as well as a great part of the country about it, is very fenny, and the air very bad.
Leghorn is the prime port belonging to all the Duke’s territories; heretofore a very obscure town, but since Duke Ferdinand has strongly fortified it (after the modern way), drained the marshes by cutting a channel thence to Pisa navigable sixteen miles, and has raised a Mole, emulating that at Genoa, to secure the shipping, it is become a place of great receipt; it has also a place for the galleys, where they lie safe.
Before the sea is an ample piazza for the market, where are the statues in copper of the four slaves, much exceeding the life for proportion, and, in the judgment of most artists, one of the best pieces of modern work1 Here, especially in this piazza, is such a concourse of slaves, Turks, Moors, and other nations, that the number and confusion is prodigious; some buying, others selling, others drinking, others playing, some working, others sleeping, fighting, singing, weeping, all nearly naked, and miserably chained. Here was a tent, where any idle fellow might stake his liberty against a few crowns, at dice, or other hazard; and, if he lost, he was immediately chained and led away to the galleys, where he was to serve a term of years, but from whence they seldom returned; many sottish persons, in a drunken bravado, would try their fortune in this way.
The houses of this neat town are very uniform, and excellently painted à fresco on the outer walls, with representations of many of their victories over the Turks. The houses, though low on account of the earthquakes which frequently happen here, (as did one during my being in Italy), are very well built; the piazza is very fair and commodious, and, with the church, whose four columns at the portico are of black marble polished, gave the first hint to the building both of the church and piazza in Covent Garden with us, though very imperfectly pursued.
They were at the foot of Duke Ferdinand’s statue. “These are the 4 slaves that would have stolen away a galley, and have rowed here themselves alone; but were taken in their great enterprize” (Lassels, i. p. 233). Addison also mentions “Donatelli’s Statue of the Great Duke, amidst the Four Slaves chain’d to his Pedestal,” as among the “noble Sights.” of Leghorn (Remarks on Italy, 1705, p. 392) ↩