The Story of a man, of his diseased body and his grave (including his medallion) Monday, Feb 13 2017 

[The identity of Mr. H will be revealed later in this article]

Mr. H. whose identity will be revealed later.

Born in Edinburgh in 1778, the eldest and first surviving of seven children, Mr. H. was a delicate child. He matriculatd at Edinburgh University and chose to study law, aspiring beyond that to public life, funded by his profession. He also studied political economy and joined several academies and societies. In 1799 he espoused “the ancient Whig politics of England, which are at present so much out of fashion, being hated by both parties”, his mentors being David Hume and the French physiocrats. He passed advocate in 1800, but finding little success he switched to the English bar, entering Lincoln’s Inn in 1802 and becoming, in the meanwhile, acquainted with the whig lawyers and literati Romilly, Abercromby, Mackintosh and Sharp, who welcomed him as a “Northern Light”. In the same period he helped found the Edinburgh Review. He found a place in the Parliament in 1806. He opposed the control of trade by export licence to counter Bonaparte’s continental system in 1808 and, critical of the naval battering of Copenhagen, voted for Whitbread’s peace motion. He supported Catholic relief and his role model Romilly’s bid to reform criminal law. Mr. H. felt he was “made, or educated, for the sunshine of an improving community”. He was a member of the Holland House circle and, in 1810, he clearly displayed his talents in the Bullion Committee, arguing that there had been an excessive issue of paper money since the stoppage of cash payments by the Bank of England in 1797, and that bullion importation was the solution. Later he criticized the East India Company’s trade monopoly, and advocated a presbyterian chaplaincy in India. He supported Whitbread’s peace bid and was a consistent opponent of the protectionist corn laws in 1813–14. He also quizzed Castlereagh on his failure to obtain universal abolition of the slave trade during peace negotiations. The Dictionary of National Biography of 1891 stated that: “H. was a man of sound judgment and unassuming manners, of scrupulous integrity, and great amiability of character. He was a correct and forcible speaker, and though without the gift of eloquence or humour, exercised a remarkable influence in the House of Commons, owing to his personal character. Few men, with such small advantages at the outset of their career, ever acquired in such a short space of time so great a reputation among their contemporaries. As a political economist Horner ranks deservedly high.”

H. suffered from a pulmonary ailment, and during the autumn of 1816, having been advised to winter in a warmer climate, he travelled to Pisa (Italy) with (more…)

New Blog Section: The Old English Cemetery of Livorno in Images Thursday, Aug 23 2012 

A whole new section has just been added to the blog’s page about the Old English Cemetery of Livorno:

 ♦ The Old English Cemetery in Images ♦

The new page consists, for now, of a few sub-sections rich of images related to the cemetery:

I plan to add more pictures and themed-sections in the next future. Enjoy!

On Tobias Smollett’s grave(s)… Reality or poetic licence? Thursday, Mar 29 2012 

Tobias Smollett’s grave in the Old English Cemetery of Livorno has always sparked people’s interest: numerous visitors were attracted to the English Cemetery just to see the tomb of the great Scottish writer and historian. Some of them even took pieces of marble off as souvenirs, or left messages inscribed on the monument. Many travellers left short accounts on their visit to the cemetery and to Smollett’s tomb. Later on, the apparent mystery of its wrong inscription led to a written confrontation between Consul Montgomery Carmichael and Col. Buchan Telfer on the pages of The Times. More recently, after WWII, some concerned readers wrote to the Editor of The Times to denounce the state of neglect of the cemetery and of Smollett’s grave. The newspaper even published two pictures of the burial ground, of which one portrayed the writer’s monument at that time (1953).

The following picture shows (more…)

The Old English Cemetery in Quotes: a new page. Friday, Feb 24 2012 

For a long time I have been collecting brief excerpts or longer citations regarding the Old English Cemetery of Livorno. Many of these have the power of giving us a glance of what it was like in the past by describing in colourful detail its vegetation, or the railings and low wall enclosing it, or the magic and melancholy atmosphere that could be felt while wandering there, or some of the white marble monuments of all shapes, with their inscriptions in many different languages…  These passages were written by people visiting it during a day off at Livorno’s harbour waiting to sail to some other places. Others came just to see the famous tombs of Smollett and Horner, or to look for the grave of an acquaintance or of some other person they particularly respected… Some of them fell in love with it and would even dream of dying in the surroundings so they could be buried in such a wonderful garden, while some others compared it to other cemeteries, or noted its uniqueness in Italy or its age. Certain writers depicted Livorno as the Italian ‘Babel’; it was populated with merchants of all tongues, mariners and pirates, noblemen and their courts passing through on their way back to Florence, and consumptive gentlemen hoping the sea breeze would make their health better.

Here’s one of these excerpts:

Piero Sraffa, M. H. Dobb, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, 10, 1955, 321-322.

Letter, Thursday 24 Oct.r Pisa [1822]

(…) We also saw the English Burying Ground in which we were very much (more…)

History of the Old English Cemetery: a new page of the blog. Wednesday, Feb 22 2012 

Introduction.

The survey of the Old English Cemetery of Livorno which I began in 2009 and my subsequent analysis of the data has revealed an elevated amount of discrepancies. Some examples are: the position of the existing tombstones not matching the complete survey made in 1906 (see below), the great number of missing slabs and tombstones, the astonishing collages of inscription fragments mounted together with no apparent logic, some artistically/historically incoherent monuments, the total loss of the iron railings that were enclosing a number of graves, the mysteriously empty areas, the enormous quantities of debris, dumping material and objects found everywhere, etc…

The very limited local bibliography on the subject lacks any detail on the history of the cemetery, and gives only opinions and hypotheses. It relays unreliable information from previous books and articles and transmits oral statements of unknown origins. Everything about this place has always been uncertain, from the year of its foundation (historians have dated it anywhere from 1594 to 1737), to the events of World War II. On the other hand, Prof. Stefano Villani has provided some very interesting evidence about the enclosure of the cemetery and other documents related to the first hundred years of the burial ground’s existence. I recently discovered the testament of a Leghorn merchant which finally establishes, for the first time, the year of the foundation of this cemetery (see related article on this blog).

Read the new page: History of the Old English Cemetery of Livorno: an outline.

Diplomats buried at the Old English Cemetery of Livorno – Part 1 Friday, Feb 3 2012 

Sir John Dick and his mysterious mausoleum

The choice of this beautiful portrait by Gilbert Stuart of Sir John Dick (1721-1804), British Consul at Livorno from 1754 to 1776, was inspired by the strange fact (as some scholars and historians argued) that, in the Old English Cemetery of this place, one cannot find any burial of the several English consuls who lived here since the beginning of the 17th century, until the cemetery was finally closed in 1840 (we will be talking about the New English Cemetery in a specific article sometime later). This “absence” of consular and diplomatic graves is indeed a fact but, as I will show in the next parts of this article, it’s still not entirely true. Sir John Dick himself, or more precisely his grave, is also protagonist of another strange mystery (more…)

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