The following quotes share all the same subject, the Old English Cemetery of Livorno, as seen by some of its visitors along time. I am collecting here any excerpts, short or long, taken from all sorts of books, describing this place. The page is constantly evolving.
J.A.P. Lefroy, The British Factory at Leghorn, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London, XXII, 1971-1972, 81-89.
I first visited the place towards the end of World War II. The area had been severely bombed, but most of the tombs in the cemetery had escaped serious destruction. The custodian had survived the bombing and with his help I soon identified Anthony Lefroy’s tomb, but there were so many others around with French names, either explicitly or implicitly Huguenot, that I became anxious to find out more about this association of merchants called the British Factory and about the history of the cemetery. (…) The need for somewhere to bury their dead was a pressing matter and thus the Old Cemetery came into existence. It was a strip of ground outside the walls of the city at the foot of the glacis of the fort. It is unlikely that the particular patch gradually became a place of burial because the area was a military zone and any kind of erection thereon strictly controlled. It was most probably part of the “package deal” of Porto Fermo (although not specifically mentioned in the Treaty) if the date 1594, said by Montgomery Carmichael to be the traditional date of its foundation, is correct. (…) Although originally outside the town, the cemetery is today in the midst of the commercial and business area of the city. It is dwarfed by towering blocks of flats and offices but, behind the wall, it is a haven of peace. On one side is a loggia which probably served as the Exchange, on another is the classic portico of the Church of St. George. The loggia is now an ambulance garage and the church has been handed over to the Misericordia. (…) The tombs are generally lavish and the epitaphs pathetic, extravagant and noble by turns. (…)
William Dean Howells, Roman Holidays and Others, 1908, 160-162.
(…) In any case it was a relief to go from the shadow of the past there through the pleasant city streets to the gentle quiet of the British cemetery, where so many of our race and some even of our own nation are taking their long rest. No one is now buried there, and the place, in the gradual diminution of the English colony at Leghorn, has fallen into a lovely and appealing neglect if not oblivion. Oblivion quite covers its origin, but it is almost as old as Protestantism itself, and, if the ground for it was the gift of the grand-duke who tolerated the heretics as well as Jews in the impulse he gave to the city’s growth, it would not be strange. The beautiful porch of the English church, for once Greek and not Gothic, fronts upon it, but the dwindling congregation has no care of it, and there is no fund to keep it so much as free from weeds and brambles and the insidious ivy rending its monuments asunder. The afternoon of our visit it was in the sole charge of a large, gray cat, which, after feasting upon the favorite herb, lay stretched in sleep on a sunny bed of catnip under the walls of a mansion near, at whose windows some young girls looked down in a Sunday listlessness, as we wandered about among the “tall cypresses, myrtles, pines, eucalyptus-trees, oleanders, cactuses, huge bushes of monthly roses, a jungle of periwinkles, sarsaparilla, wild irises, violets, and other loveliest of wild flowers.” On the forgotten tombs were the touching epitaphs of those who had died in exile, and whose monuments are sometimes here while their ashes lie in Florence or Rome, or wherever else they chanced to meet their end. Among them were the inscriptions on the graves of “William Magee Seton, merchant of New York,” who died at Pisa in 1803, and “Henry De Butts, a citizen of Baltimore, N. America.” who died at Sarzana, with “James M. Knight, Esq., Captain of Marines, Citizen of the United States of America.” who died at Leghorn in 1802; and “Thomas Gamble. Late Captain in the Navy of the United States of America.” who died at Pisa in 1818; and doubtless there were other Americans whose tombs I did not see. The memorial of the English were likewise here, whether they died at Leghorn or not; but most of them seem to have ended their lives in that place, where there were once so many English residents, whether for their health or their profit. The youth of some testified to the fact that they had failed to find the air specific for their maladies, and doubtless this would account also for the disproportionate number of noble ladies who rest here, with their hatchments and their coronets and robes of state carven on the stones above them. Among others one reads the titles of “Lady Catharine Burgess born Beauclerk; Jane Isabella, widow of the Earl of Lanesborough and daughter of the Earl of Molesworth; and Catharine Murray, only child of James Murray… and the Right Honorable Lady Catharine Stewart his spouse.” with knights, admirals, generals, and other military and naval officers a many. Most important of all is the tomb of that strenuous spirit, more potent for good and ill in the English fiction of his time than any other novelist of his time and second only to Richardson in the wide influence of his literary method, Tobias Smollett, namely, who here ended his long fight with consumption and the indifference of his country to his claims upon her official recognition. After many years of narrow circumstance in the Southern climates where he spent his later life, he tried in vain for that meek hope of literary ambition, a consulate, perhaps the very post that my companion, a hundred and fifty years later, was worthily holding. The truest monument to his stay in Italy is the book of Italian travel that he wrote, and the best effect is that sort of peripatetic novel which he may be said to have invented in Humphrey Clinker, and which has survived the epistolary form into our own time. It is a very simple shaft that rises over his grave, with the brief record, “Memoriae Tobiae Smollett, qui Liburni animam efflavit, 16 Sept., 1773,” but it is imaginable with what wrath he would have disputed the record, if it is true, according to all the other authorities, that he exhaled his spirit two years earlier, and how he would have had it out with those “friends and fellow-countrymen” who had the error perpetuated above his helpless dust. It was not easy to quit the sweetly solemn place or to resist the wish which I have here indulged, that some kinsman of kinswoman of those whom the blossoms and leaves are hiding would come to their rescue from nature now claiming and undue part in them, and obliterating their very memories. One would not have a great deal done, but only enough to save their names from entire oblivion, and with the hope of this I have named some of their names. It might not be too much even for the United Kingdom and the United States, though both very poor nations, to join in contributing the sum necessary for the work. Or some millionaire English duke, or some millionaire American manufacturer, might make the outlay alone; I cannot expect any millionaire author to provide a special fund for the care of the tomb of Smollett. (…)
Leonard Horner, Memoirs and correspondence of Francis Horner, M.P., II, 1843, 441.
Monument at Leghorn. A marble monument, erected by his Father, covers Mr. Horner’s grave in the Protestant Cemetery at Leghorn. It was designed by Sir Henry C. Englefield, Baronet; and at one of the ends there is a likeness of Mr. Horner, in relief, the size of life, which was executed by Sir Francis Chantrey. On one of the sides there is the following inscription:
“FRANCISCUS HORNER, | Senator Britannicus; | Nat. Edinburgi Prid Id. Aug. MDCCLXXVIII, | Ob. Pisis VI. Id. Februar. MDCCCXVII. | Publice | Conspiciebantur Ingenium Ejus Excelsum, | Fides Intemerata: | Privatim, | Filius, Frater, Amicus, | Pius, Amans, Sincerus. | Hoc Monumentum | Memoriae Talis Nati | Sacravit Pater.”
Leonard Horner, Katharine M. Lyell, Memoir of Leonard Horner, F.R.S., F.G.S.: Consisting of Letters to His Family and from Some of his Friends, Cambridge University Press, 2011, 186.
From Dr. Marcet(*) – Florence, 5th March 1821.
MY DEAR HORNER, – I wrote to you a few weeks ago, and expressed my regret at having missed the opportunity of visiting your brother’s tomb. If it were necessary to show that I was sincere in my regret, I could not produce a better proof than the excursion I have just made from Pisa (where I was induced to take a trip) to Leghorn for that purpose. I can now tell you what I think of the monument. It is truly touching by its good taste and simplicity. It would have been so easy to adorn it with this or that symbol of public services, or to swell the iscription with ostentatious titles to public gratitude! The structure has sufficient mass to catch the eye; but in the detail it can only be noticed by the total absence of pretension or laboured embellishment – By the eloquent simplicity of the inscription, and by the great likeness of the medallion. My companion made me remark that the form of the tomb might have been more elegant if the base had been somewhat larger than the superstructure, so as to resemble less a regular square, but I cannot say that the circumstance would have struck me, or that I am quite satisfied with the truth of the criticism. Mr. Martin(**) of Leghorn (Alex Prevost’s brother-in-law) was so good as to procure for me a little sketch of the tomb, which, however slightly done, will serve to give you an idea of its appearance. It is probable that you have already procured drawings of this kind, but in that case, it may be acceptable to some of the family, and at all events you will, not scold me for having ventured to inclose it in my letter. I have only to add on this melancholy subject, that the Protestant burying ground of Leghorn is one of the most soothing places of the kind I have ever seen. The spot does by no means look forlorn, and melancholy, as churchyards commonly do, and as it is chiefly occupied by the remains of travellers from all parts of the world, whom their health or curiosity, had brought to Italy, the mind in walking through those monuments, is rather agreeably hurried through a variety of recollections totally unconnected with each other, an effet very little resembling that which is produced by the monotonous legends of a parish churchyard. Thus I very unexpectedly fell in with Smollett’s tomb; the next monument to one of Lord Selkirk, whom I had known as Lord Daar (***) in Edinburgh, &c., &c. In fact I left the place in a sort of pleasing reverie and with a vague impression that one might lie there comfortably. (…)
(*) Dr. Marcet: Gaspard Marcet (1770-1822) Doctor and Chemist. – (**) Mr. Martin of Leghorn: André Martin (1792-1838), Merchant in Livorno, head of Viollier&Cie, brother in law of Alexandre Louis Prevost (1788-1876), Banker (Morris, Prevost & Cie.) and Swiss Consul in London. – (***) Lord Selkirk/Lord Daer: John Douglas (1765-1797).
Eveergreen or Church-Offering for all seasons, IV, 1847, 137.
A second visit to Leghorn leaves but little to be seen. The most interesting spot to an English visitor, is the grave of Smollett, in the Protestant burying-ground. On the low stone which covers it is engraved the following extraordinary inscription written by himself – “Under this stone lies the victim of sorrow; fly, wandering stranger, from his mouldering dust, lest the rude wind, conveying a particle thereof unto thee, should communicate that venom, melancholy, that has destroyed the strongest frame and liveliest spirits. With joy did he resign his breath, a living martyr to sensibility.” It has been remarked, that the last sentence proves the deceased to have been an Hibernian. (…)
Andrew Alexander Bonar,Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Narrative of a mission of inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland in 1839, I, 1842, 29.
“[The Old English Cemetery of Livorno] It is filled with many beautiful monuments of the purest marble, and is kept like a garden, profusely planted with the rose, the cypress, and the weeping willow. We visited the graves of Smollet and Horner, at a little distance from which a palm-tree guides to the spot of Mr Martin are laid. There is a plain marble monument over the grave, with an inscription written by Dr. Chalmers. The tomb of J. Wentworth Murray, who died at Florence in 1821, has this simple inscription, full of meaning to surviving friends, ‘For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.’ “
George Combe, The life and correspondence of Andrew Combe, 1850, 89.
“ ‘There is,’ he continues, ‘an English cemetery here, containing many handsome monuments. Among others, that of Mr. Horner interested me greatly. He died, as you know, at Pisa, in 1817, still a young man. There is a bust of him. His head is among the best I have ever seen. The organs of the intellectual faculties are very large; those of the moral sentiments are beautifully developed; and the organs of Language are large.’ “
James Augustus St. John, There and Back again, in Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine for 1849, 3, 1849, 737.
“In their company I strolled one day to the English cemetery – a place presided over by the very spirit of melancholy – where the monuments of youth and beauty lie thickly strewn, on all sides – where the last object of parental love has found a grave – where the husband has wept over a beloved wife, and where many a fond wife has seen the earth close for ever over the man she loved. In the midst of these multitudinous monuments, stands the tomb of Smollett – a small, elegant obelisk of white marble, erected by a number of friends who cherished his memory. I had forgotten that he was interred here, and discovered the tomb by accident. From top to bottom it was covered with the names of visitors from England, from Scotland, from Sweden, Switzerland and America. I added my own to the number; and my friends, the sea captains, in gratitude, doubtless, for the pleasure ‘Roderick Random’ had afforded them, knelt humbly on the greensward, while they inscribed their own names in pencil, observing as they did so, that it was proper to show all reverence to genius.”
Joseph I. Dirvin, Mrs. Seton, foundress of the American Sisters of Charity, 1962, 126.
“At eleven o’clock on the morning of December 28, Betty and Anna, accompanied by the Filicchis and all the English and American colony of Leghorn, stood in the lovely little English cemetery while Mr. Thomas Hall read the Episcopalian burial service, and Will – just thirty-five was lowered into the earth. A flat marble slab – cracked in several places by the merciless bombings of World War II – marks his resting place. The epitaph reads simply: ‘Here lies the remains of William Magee Seton, Merchant of…”
Angelica Palli, Cenni sopra Livorno e i suoi contorni, 1856, 139.
“Il Cimitero Inglese ha perduto parte del suo bello, dacché fu incassato in mezzo ai fabbricati della Città nuova; le finestre delle case che gli stanno addosso gli tolgono la solennità della solitudine. Fortuna che gli altissimi cipressi di cui ha ampia corona, velano pietosamente le tombe, e permettono al genio del dolore e della melanconia di appoggiarvisi e piangere, o meditare, senza che un indiscreto osservatore gli punti in viso il cannocchiale dall’alto della sua finestra per contarne i sospiri e le stille di pianto ! (1)
Il nuovo Cimitero della Nazione Inglese si trova fuori di Porta S. Marco, allo svolto della Via Erbosa.
E’ privo del grazioso contorno del primo, essendo circondato da un muro altissimo; ma già il suolo vi biancheggia pei monumenti funerei; l’usata cura assidua vi educa i fiori, e le cime de’ suoi cipressi hanno già superato quella del muro.
(1) Il Dottore Giovanni Giacomelli pubblicò nella Viola del Pensiero un’elegantissima descrizione del Vecchio Cimitero Inglese.
Giuseppe Piombanti, Guida storica ed artistica della città e dei contorni di Livorno, 1873, 341.
Il cimitero inglese di Livorno, dice Valery, sembra lo studio d’uno scultore. Contiene molti monumenti, alcuni dei quali di grande prezzo, pochi però di pregio artistico…
Romain Colomb, Journal d’un voyage en Italie et en Suisse pendant l’année 1828, 1833, 28-29.
En deux heures, une voiture me transporte à Livourne par une route superbe. De l’Aquila Nera, où je loge, vue sur la mer et sur le canal de Pise.
2 avril. – Livourne est l’un des deux ports francs de l’Italie; c’est principalement à cette circonstance qu’il faut attribuer l’activité et le mouvement qui s’y font remarquer. Quelques rues, entre autres celle S. Ferdinanda, sont longues et larges. La place d’armes, au centre de la ville et dans le quartier des affaires, est vaste.
On va voir sur le port la statue pédestre, en marbre, de Ferdinand Ier, par le Donatello [sic]; c’est à prince que Livourne dut la franchise de son port. Quatre esclaves en bronze sont enchaînés aux pieds de Ferdinand; les têtes ont une belle expression; c’est une vive douleur accompagnée de résignation; la tête du nègre, surtout, me semble parfaite.
Je vais au cimetière des Anglais, hors de la ville; ses monumens sont de bon goût et en marbre blanc; un obélisque décore le tombeau de Tobiae Smollett, le continuateur de l’historien Hume; Smollett mourut à Livourne, le 16 septembre 1773 [sic].
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Outre-mer: a Pilgrimage beyond the Sea, 2, 1835, 145-146
Under this stone lies the victim of sorrow.
Fly wandering stranger from her mouldering dust,
Lest the rude wind conveying a particle thereof unto thee,
Should communicate that venom melancholy,
That has destroyed the strongest frame and liveliest spirit.
With joy of heart has she resigned her breath,
A living martyr to sensibility.
Note: it is said that Longfellow was inspired by the above epitaph to write his poem “Suspiria”:
Take them, O Death! and bear away
Whatever thou canst call thine own!
Thine image, stamped upon this clay,
Doth give thee that, but that alone!
Take them, O Grave! and let them lie
Folded upon thy narrow shelves,
As garments by the soul laid by,
And precious only to ourselves!
Take them, O great Eternity!
Our little life is but a gust
That bends the branches of thy tree,
And trails its blossoms in the dust!
(*) The lady is Mary Marcha (1733-1790) of a huguenot family of Annonay and London, who married Theophilus Lane (1718-1792), they were living in Livorno.
Nathaniel Hazeltine Carter, Letters from Europe: comprising the journal of a tour through…, 2, 1827, .
Our visit to the Protestant burying-ground was to me extremely interesting, fond as I am of brooding over cemeteries and reading epitaphs. In certain moods of the mind, it is more agreeable to linger round the mansions of the dead, than to frequent the habitations of the living. This grave-yard, according to my taste, is worth a hundred of the Campo Santo at Pisa. In the latter, the hand of art alone is visible ; in the former, nature and art are charmingly blended. The enclosure is small, situated in the suburbs of the town, where the sacred repose of the tomb is undisturbed by the din and levity of the streets. A neat iron railing, supported by stone pillars, encircles the area, fringed on all sides by rows of cypress, and the whole beautifully shaded by weeping willows, which- hang their long rich tresses over the white marble monuments. There is almost thought—certainly sentiment in this tree, the very image of which is melancholy and sepulchral above all others. The sod is perfectly green and enamelled with flowers, among which the wild poppy is conspicuous, rearing its crimson petals above the rank grass, and by a sort of heedless gaiety striking the mind by contrast; as the most cheerful music sometimes only serves to sadden the feelings.
The monuments taken collectively, are the handsomest and in the best taste I have ever seen. They are of fine statuary marble, uniformly chaste in design, and executed with all the exactness of the Italian chisel. Their dates reach as far back as the year 1746, when the cemetery was commenced by Mr. Bateman, an Englishman, who munificently gave a sufficient sum to purchase the ground, and defrav the expenses of the enclosure. Among the most beautiful monuments, is one to the memory of captain Gamble, of the United States Navy, who died at Pisa in 1818. It is of the purest Carrara murble, and consists of a square pedestal surrounded with four eagles, above which rises a fluted column, Surmounted by an urn and girt with a cincture of stars. Those in memory of captain M’Knight, of the United States Marines; Miss Bowdoin, and Mr. Reed, of Boston; Mr. Seton, and Mr. Pollok, of New-York ; Mr. Hawley, of Connecticut; Mr. De Butt, of Baltimore ; and two Midshipmen in the United States Navy, are all beautiful. The tombs of the English, Irish and Scotch are extremely numerous; but none of them are very remarkable or interesting to a stranger, except that of Dr. Smollett, the immortal historian, novelist and poet. His monument is a plain pyramid, rising on a square pedestal, inscribed merely with the date of his death at Leghorn, his age, and his country. He could scarcely have selected a more rural and quiet spot for his grave, even upon the banks of his native Leven, whose praises he has so sweetly sung.
George Barrell Cheever, J. T. Headley, Travels among alpine scenery, 1855, 370.
Do you ask how I got here? By steam! They charge on the Mediterranean steamboats, at the rate of ten dollars for the distance between New York and Albany. Their mode of running, or rather their habit of stopping, is very convenient for travellers. We started in the evening from Genoa, and walked up in the morning in Leghorn. We remained in the port all day, allowing the passengers time to visit Pisa and return.
The English Cemetery at Leghorn is very beautiful. I walked through it to find the tomb of Smollett, and while in quest of it met an English lady in search of the same thing; who civilly asked me if I could point it out to her. I returned with her to the tomb, and while there, remarked to the friend with whom I was in company, that he had better pluck a flower, to carry back as a memento to America. (…)
James A. Heraud, Voyages up the Mediterranean and in the Indian seas…, 1837, 116-117.
“We are now (June 7th) at Leghorn. I am much pleased with this place, it being a clean, pleasant little town. (…) I took a ride to the English burying-ground; it is really worth seeing, from the abundance of white marble monuments. Weeping willows and cypresses are scattered about, and flowers growing round each grave. In this place is the tomb of Smollett; it was formerly the ornament, as well as the boast of this place – but looks very plain amongst the splendid memorials with which the ground is crowded. We sail to-night for Elba.”
C. B. Black, The Riviera: or, The coast from Marseilles to Leghorn…, 14th ed., 1905, 159.
Leghorn is a handsome town, with well-paved streets and spacious squares (piazze) adorned with marble statues (…) It is on low-lying ground backed by a ridge of hills, of which the most striking is the Monte Nero with its ancient monastery (…) Those not having much time , and having taken the San Marco to San Jacopo tram, should tell the guard to put them down at the Piazza Mazzini, and by the short street the Via delle Navi enter the Via degli Elisi. At No. 19 of the Via Elisi is the Episcopal church and the old English cemetery. For Smollett’s grave, take the cemetery walk to the right. Over it on a pedestal rises a small white marble obelisk. (…) For Francis Horner’s grave, continue the gravel walk till it comes very near the wall. It is covered by a plain sarcophagus.(…) The old English cemetery (closed 1839) was, up to the 19th cent., the only Protestant burying-ground in Italy.
L. Hertslet, A complete collection of the treaties and conventions…, 9, 1856, 759.
Leghorn Burial Ground. – The first British cemetery was founded early in the 17th century. It was used for more than 200 years, not only by our own countrymen, but by French, Swiss and American Protestants, and there is every reason to believe that, previous to the general peace of 1815, it was the only authorised English Burial Ground in Italy, and was made use of accordingly by British subjects in Lucca and Rome as well as in Tuscany.
Some of the tombs date so far back as the reign of King Charles I, of England.
Upon the extension of the town walls of Leghorn, the ancient English Burial Ground was laid under interdict from further use, and in 1840 another piece of ground without the city walls was selected for a cemetery, and enclosed with the previous sanction of the Tuscan Government.
John Carne, Letters from Switzerland and Italy during a late tour, 1834, p.273-274
The English burying-ground, in the neighbourhood, is a retired and charming spot, surrounded with lofty iron railing. The tombs are all of white marble, half-shrouded by a number of cypress, acacia, and rose-trees, together with the weeping willow. In this place are interred all the English residents and visitors who have died here for the last twenty years. The victims to consumption are numerous: – military officers who sought in the soft air of Leghorn to repair the ravages of an Indian climate; invalids who came hither to die. The tomb of Shelley, who was to be interred here, was not observable among the number; and here is that of an excellent clergyman, who for nearly half a century fulfilled his duties with admirable zeal and fidelity. He was an American royalist, who, having lost the greater part of his property during the war, fled to this town, and was received as pastor by the English, who always regarded him with esteem and veneration. At the time the French occupied the place, during the revolution, their general declared he should destroy the English burying-ground, and take away the railing, which he told the minister was useless there, while he was in great want of iron for his troops. The latter firmly declared that they should take his life sooner than violate the cemetery, which had been of his own creating; menaces of being shot for his obstinacy had no effect, and in the end he was triumphant, and saved his favourite burying-ground.
Antoine Claude Pasquin Valery, Historical, literary and artistic travels in Italy…, 1839, 613.
The English cemetery at Leghorn, although the excessive brilliancy of its marbles gives it rather the appearance of an immense statuary’s workshop, is still singularly touching. It is not easy to bear unmoved the aspect of these tombs of foreigners and travellers who died far from their native land. Most of the inscriptions are remarkable for an affecting conciseness and simplicity of grief. Some of these travellers, full of youth and hope, lovers of learning and the arts, came to enjoy the present and by-gone glories of the land that has devoured them. The most celebrated of these tombs is not , however, of such melancholy memory; it is the pyramid consecrated by his countrymen to the historian and satirical novelist, Tobias Smollett, who died at the age of fifty-one years, when English consul at Leghorn.
Montgomery Carmichael, In Tuscany, 3rd ed., 1906, 123.
One of the most interesting corners of the town interesting is the old British Cemetery in the Via degli Elisi No record of its foundation exists but there is said to be (I cannot find it) at least one tomb that goes back to 1594 almost to the year when Ferdinand raised Leghorn to the dignity of city. Tombs of the seventeenth century are plentiful. For a long time it was the only English, indeed I fancy the only Protestant, burying ground in Italy. Smollett is buried here so is Francis Horner (“distinguished for his splendid talents and spotless integrity”) and William Henry Lambton, Esquire, M.P for Durham, who died at Pisa on the 30th November 1 797 “universally respected and beloved; he was able as a statesman and exemplary in all the relations of life as a husband, father, master, and friend.” Here too, lie the mortal remains of Anna, Countess Cowper (died 1826), Margaret Rolle Countess of Orford and Baroness Clinton in her own right (died 1781) and many scions of our best families – Lockharts of Carnwath, Murrays of Broughton, Ross’s of Bladensburg, Lubbocks, Mountney Jephsons, Chads, Macleans, Kempthorpes [sic], Stopfords, Gwillyms, &c. &c. There was nowhere else where they could be buried, and the famous winter resort of Pisa yielded many bodies of consumptive Englishmen to this old cemetery. If Shelley’s body had not been burned on the shores of the Duchy of Lucca, it is likely enough that his remains would have found their last resting-place here.(1)
(1) Mr. G. Milner-Gibson-Cullum, F.S.A., and the late Mr. Francis Macauley of Florence, copied all the inscriptions in this interesting old cemetery. Their publication was commenced in the Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica for September 1896, and has not yet been finished. [In this blog you will find the full list of burials taken from this book]
The cemetery is in a state of neglect and disrepair, but it must be owned that this neglect greatly heightens its pictoresque appearance. A row of stately cypresses surrounds it, and within, myrtles, stone-pines, yews, huge bushes of monthly roses, and even an occasional eucalyptus, grow as Mother Nature lists, innocent of any gardener’s care, whilst a luxuriant jungle of periwinkles, irises, wild violets, and stinging nettles threatens to cover the graves, and strong ivy and other hardy parasites creep insidiously within the junctures of the marble tombs and are gradually splitting them to pieces.(1)
(1) Such was the cemetery as I first knew it, but since this was written the present incumbent, the Rev. E. L. Gardner, has, of his own initiative, commenced to restore this waste wilderness to something like order and seemliness.
The old cemetery was closed by Grand Ducal order in 1839 when the bounds of the city were enlarged, and the energetic British colony purchased land further afield, and constructed another burying-ground. A comparison between the two cemeteries is an instructive object-lesson in the great change that has come over English religious belief in the last half-century. The old cemetery is full of urns and sarcophagi, broken pillars, hour-glasses, inverted torches, skulls and cross-bones, lyres and laurel wreaths, medallions of prosperous bag-wigged traders, chubby cherubs convulsed with gried, and allegorical female figures veiling their sorrow, but the cross, the emblem of Christianity, there is not a solitary instance, whereas in the new cemetery crosses abound and are invariable in all the later tombs. There is one cross, though, connected with the old cemetery which has much more significance than a simple cross, or even a crucifix. In 1746 Mr. Robert Bateman, a wealthy merchant, surrounded the cemetery with a wall and iron railing at his sole cost. Over the gate is a small voided iron cross; in the centre of the cross is a rounded disc, and from the disc issue rays of glory. The disc represents the Sacramental Wafer, and it is placed on a cross to illustrate the Catholic doctrine that the Blessed Sacrament is Our Lord Himself. What would have been the feelings of the steady-going, plain-thinking merchants of the British Factory had they known that the cross over their cemetery was preaching and teaching, to those who had eyes to see, the extremest form of the Real Presence in the Sacrament. But oh! the whirlgig of time! This cross, and the doctrine it symbolises, would be devoutly accepted by the entire congregation of many a modern Anglican Church in London! I have said that Smollett is buried in the old cemetery. There is at least, surrounded by an iron railing, a column there erected to his memory. The inscription on it runs as follows: – Memoriae | Tobiae Smollett | qui liburni | animam efflavit | 16 Sept. 1773, quidam | ex suis valde amicis | civibus | hunc tumulum | fecerunt. (1) Captain Buchan Telfer R.N. has endeavoured to prove that Smollett is not buried here. It is true that the date of death on the memorial column is incorrect. Smollett beyond a doubt died on the 17th of September 1771, and not on the 16th of September 1773. But the memorial column may have been placed on the grave a number of years after the death. We know that Smollett was attended in his last illness by Thomas Garden, physician to the British Factory, and by Dr. Giovanni Gentili, a Leghorn doctor, and therefore until better evidence to the contrary is forthcoming, it seems to me safe to accept the old tradition, both that he is buried in the British cemetery in the spot marked by the memorial, and that he died in the Villa Gamba at Antignano near Leghorn, and there wrote the “Expedition of Humphrey Clinker.” (2)
(1) The word “civibus” had been added after the completion of the inscription. It has not been most obviously squeezed in as an afterthought, no doubt with the object of showing that there were no foreigners among these “valde amici.”
(2) See the whole controversy in Notes and Queries, 9th Series, vol. i. pp.201, 309, and 510. (Link to article on this blog)
William Rae Wilson, Records of a route through France and Italy; with sketches of catholicism, 1835, 125.
Our countrymen, and foreigners of other nations here, have their respective burying-grounds. That belonging to the English is a spacious area, handsomely laid out and well kept up, and inclosed by a low wall and iron rails. Cypresses and other shady trees give it a solemn and grove-like appearance; and among these are to be seen a number of monuments executed in marble, and displaying great variety of shapes. Most English travellers make a point of visiting this cemetery – if only for the purpose of beholding the spot which covers the mortal remains of the celebrated yet too cynical writer who ranks so highly among British novelists.(*)
(*) Among many interred here, are, that highly distringuished English senator Francis Horner, Lords Guildford, Daer, &c.
Aubert de Linsolas, Souvenirs de l’Italie, 1835-1838, 1, 18-19.
La route qui conduit a Livourne traverse des champs cultives; avant d’atteindre le premier faubourg de la ville, on remarque sur la droite un vaste enclos dont les jardins et les bosquets respirent un calme élyséen. C’est le cimetière des juifs allemands, toujours nombreux a Livourne.
Des larges rues, coupées a angles droits et parfaitement alignées annoncent dignement la métropole du commerce italien; car Livourne a recueilli la splendide dépouille de Gênes, de Venise, de Florence, de tous ces anciens centres de commerce, aujourd’hui déchus de leur longue splendeur.
Ne cherchez a Livourne ni élégance ni grandeur dans les divers styles d’architecture; ne demandez pas non plus a ce bazar européen, des galeries de tableaux et des statues, en revanche on y compte de nombreuses manufactures; et les relations commerciales tiennent en haleine toute la population, activité bien rare dans la Péninsule.
Le seul object d’art, digne de quelque attention, est la statue de Ferdinand 1er, élevée sur le petit-port; la statue est en marbre, on voit a ses pieds quatre esclaves enchaines, en bronze, contraste assez bizarre au premier coup d’œil.
Si les églises de Livourne intéressent peu sous le rapport artistique, l’étranger pourra s’occuper a visiter les temples des divers cultes qui y sont tolérés; parmi ces temples, celui des Grecs schismatiques et la synagogue principale des Juifs sont les plus riches et les plus remarquables.
Rien de vivant et d’anime comme le tableau du port, un des meilleurs et des plus fréquentes de l’Europe; vingt idiomes différents se croisent et retentissent dans un espace de quelque centaines de toises ou se trouvent représentées toutes les nations du monde commercial, et toutes les productions de l’industrie. Des cafés richement décores ajoutent a la variété de ce tableau auquel se mêlent, comme a Marseille, des bouquetières avec leur étalage de fleurs.
On a vanté bien souvent le cimetière des Anglais a Livourne; les Touristes en parlent avec enthousiasme; mais qu’il m’a paru inferieur au cimetière du père La Chaise a Paris! Excepte quelques tombeaux, d’une construction élégante et ornes avec distinction, il n’offre qu’un petit bosquet de cyprès rabougris, perdus, pour ainsi dire, dans un coin, et du plus mauvais effet. On voudrais y voir ces massifs d’arbres toujours verts qui s’harmonient si bien avec le deuil et la mélancolie des regrets.
The Edinburgh magazine and literary miscellany, 96, July 1825, 423.
Leghorn, To-day we made a pilgrimage to the English burying-ground near Leghorn called by the natives the Campo-Santo Inglese. In the middle of a flat field, a little beyond the walls, a moderate space is enclosed by a high iron rail, and that again is surmounted by an inner enclosure of yews, regular and thick-set, and promising to be “august vegetables” when they are better grown. At present, they do not serve to mask the crowd of dazzling white monuments sufficiently to take off the glare, and give a proper solemnity to the scene. “Marbles should be seen among the trees not trees among the marbles*.” To those, however, who classically prefer a gay cemetery to a gloomy one, this Campo-Santo will be perfectly agreeable. Almost every grave is honoured with a sarcophagus, a pillar, an obelisk, or some other monument of marble, and though many of these are poorly executed, some are in very good taste. The whole assemblage is singular and imposing. We were shewn the obelisk which marks the supposed grave of Smollett, and viewed with sincere respect the memorial of Horner. After wandering for some time among these memorials of our countrymen, we bade adieu to the mansions of the dead, and returned to those of the living – to Leghorn, the Babel of the cities, peopled by men of every nation and every tongue.
(*) Such were the words of one of my travelling companions on seeing this beautiful burying-ground, unconscious then how soon his own bones were to mingle with its clay, and his own monument should add another to the number he beheld.
Piero Sraffa, M. H. Dobb, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, 10, 1955, 321-322.
Letter, Thursday 24 Oct.r Pisa 
(…) We also saw the English Burying Ground in which we were very much interested. It is full of very handsome monuments the inscriptions on which are mostly written in English. We saw Smollett‘s and his wife‘s, but that which mostly attracted our attention was Francis Horners, who died here at Pisa and was buried there. It was raised by his father and is very handsome. There is a Basso Relievo of the deceased upon it which is I think like him. The inscription on one side is in English and on the other in Latin – it describes, and I believe justly, his talents and virtuesm and states that the monument was erected by his father. I never saw a handsomer Burying ground – one could almost wish to die near Leghorn to get in so neat a place and amongst so much good company. It is not absolutely kept for the English only other protestants are buried there – I saw a stone recording the death of one of the family of Simonde Sismondi a citizen of Geneva.
Robert Sears, Scenes and sketches in continental Europe, 1847, 254.
The next place which particularly demands attention is the English burying-ground. This spot is about half a mile from the town, and enclosed with a handsome balustrade and railing, and no spot of its size can contain a greater number of elegant monuments and tombstones with inscriptions in various languages, as the subjects are of various nations, English, German, Swedes, Danes, &c., so that it may with more propriety be called the protestant, than the English burying-ground: among other inscriptions, is one in Italian, on Margaret Rolle, countess of Orford and baroness of Clinton; this illustrious female died at Pisa, January 13, 1781. Here, in short, are confounded in one common mass, the nobleman and the merchant, mechanic and artist, husband and wife, father and child, especially the inhabitants of Smyrna, Aleppo, Constantinople, &c., arrested in their trading career by the cold and unsparing hand of death.
Basil Hall, Patchwork, 2, 1841, 195-196.
We drove one evening to the English burying-ground, which then lay on the outskirts of Leghorn, though, from what we saw of the projected improvements consequent upon the freedom of the port, I dare say that the few years which have elapsed since our visit have brought it within its limits. It is a very pretty place in its way, neatly enclosed, and nearly filled with handsome, white marble monuments, of every conceivable form of sepulchral architecture. An unusual number of weeping willows, drooping their heads over the tomb-stones, and of light, low, wattled fences round many of them, covered with creepers and flowers, give a peculiar character to this exotic cemetery. In walking through it, one is made melancholy by reading the names of so many young victims to consumption, who have been sent to Italy only to die; probably long after all chance of amendment must have been gone. In such hopeless cases it is often difficult to decide what is best to be done; but from what I have seen I should scarcely advise the friends of a delicate invalid to travel in Italy. Even a person in strong health is sure to encounter multifarious annoyances, which, though he manages to laugh at, and tries to make light of, must be almost intolerable to a worn-out frame, and more than proportionally depressed state of spirits. The naked floors of brick, or even of marble; the damp and not always clean beds; the sour bread; the oily cookery; the sluttish attendance; the mosquitoes, fleas, &c., together with the total want of many small, and some great comforts, which in England have become necessaries of life, render Italy, or indeed almost any part of the continent, very little suitable for a poor, broken down, attenuated English invalid. (…) What interested me most in the burying ground at Leghorn was the tomb of a brother sailor, Smollet, though I was rather provoked to find it scribbled all over with signatures and trashy remarks of innumerable tourists, who seemed to imagine that by hooking on their own unknown names and insignificant compositions, both in prose and in verse, to the shrine of the poet, they too, might have a chance of some touch of distinction. As it did not strike me at first that this disfiguration of a great author’s monument is really one of the best compliments that can be paid to his renown, I turned to the sexton, and in the impulse of the moment promised him a few pauls if he would clear away all these impertinent additions. Before we left the ground he had got a bucket of water and a bit of marble with which he had effectively restored the stone to its original brightness. Till then it did not occur to me that I had missed the true point, and by thus assimilating Smollet’s tomb to those around it had in fact lessened the only distinction which such things are capable of conferring on the memory of the dead.
The ladies’ repository, 30 (II), 1862, 412-413.
Two Protestant chapels, belonging respectively to the British (Church of England,) and Scotch Presbyterians, stand by the side of the English cemetery. In this latter receptacle of the dead, rest the remains of Smollett and Francis Horner. Thus we do find the dust of earth’s distinguished children, whose heart-throbs have awakened responsive thrills in the bosoms of scattered thousands; whose winged thoughts – redolent with the breath of heavenly genius, have gone forth over land and sea, – mingling with foreign soil, far away from the land that gave them birth. Thus do we find the necessity of building abiding places (so to speak) for the stranger dead, in all those far-off cities of the living, whose marts of business or other influences of interest attract thither those of different country, nation, culture, habit and religion. Here in this great commercial port, are the burial-places of the Israelite, the Greek, the Dutch, the Protestant, all adorned by sculptured monuments, incense-laden flowers, and sheltering trees. Thus the heart of affection seeks to beautify the last resting-place of mortality, in the far-off land – making it emblematic of that higher faith, which recognizes a home of joy and beauty, – a quiet haven of happy rest for the weary life-voyager, far above all storms and dangers of this lower deep.
J. D. Sinclair, An autumn in Italy…in 1827, 1829, 294-295.
There is certainly no town in Italy which reminds one so much of England as Leghorn. Even many of the vessels in the port sported our national flag. After passing through its principal streets I took a ramble beyond its walls into the country. The immediate environs are flat and heathy interspersed with several villas and cottages to wealthy merchants, many of whom have to fix their residence upon the hill of Monte Nero, which is considered the healthiest and elevated spot in the neighbourhood. Nor did omit to visit the English burying ground about half a mile from the town, where many a pile of Carrara marble records the name of rich and plodding, yet obscure individual; but hastily turned away from such gaudy monuments, when I discovered the tomb of Tobias Smollett, which many a traveller has come to Leghorn the purpose of visiting. The marble, plain unsculptured, which in the form of a small pyramid, resting upon a square base, covers the remains of this celebrated author, bears ample testimony to the veneration in which many of his enthusiastic admirers hold his memory; and which they have testified by numerous inscriptions. Here there is likewise to be seen the tomb of Francis Horner, justly celebrated as an eloquent orator, an erudite and enlightened critic, and a profound philosopher. The professors of every religious creed are tolerated at Leghorn, and enjoy the free exercise of their own worship. The Roman Catholic is the established religion of the state, as well as the most popular. There are many English and other Protestants who have a chapel and a chaplain paid by the Factory; who are a wealthy and respectable body, and carry on the greatest share of the trade between this country, England and America.
Thomas Pennington, A journey into various parts of Europe…, 1, 1825, 451-453.
We next bent our steps to the English burying ground. This spot, rendered sacred by the remains of so many of our countrymen, claimed much of our attention; it is about half a mile from the town, and enclosed with a handsome balustrade and railing, and no spot of its size can contain a greater number of elegant monuments and tombstones. We entered the hallowed ground which is called Il Cimiterio Inglese, and remained in it some time, indulging in the melancholy pleasure of reading the inscriptions, which are in various languages, as the subjects are of various nations, English, Germans, Swedes, Danes, &c., so that it may with more propriety called the Protestant, than the English burying-ground: among other inscriptions, is a curious one, all in Greek, on James Partridge; it is very prolix, giving a long account of his many virtues; another in Italian, on Margaret Rolle, Countess of Orford, and Baroness of Clinton; this illustrious female died at Pisa, January 13th, 1781. Here, in short, were confounded in one common mass the nobleman and the merchant, mechanic and artist, husband and wife, father and child (*1). Here were inhabitants of Smyrna, Aleppo, Constantinople, &c., arrested in their trading career by the cold and unsparing hand of death; hither were brought from Rome, Naples, Pisa, Lucca, &c., those of our countrymen whom the thirst of curiosity or the attractions of pleasure had induced to quit their native land, doomed to revisit it no more, but to lay up their bones in a foreign clime. We quitted this interesting spot (*2) in the melancholy frame of mind naturally suggested by the place; and we were much hurt at finding it much neglected, and in many parts choked up with weeds and long grass, a circumstance which does not reflect much credit on the factory, in the eyes of strangers. A family lives opposite the gate which has the keys, and shews the ground, and which, as our conductor told us, has had this place for three generations.
(*1) Quos circum, limus niger et deformis arundo – VIRGIL, Lib. 6. | Some meek inglorious Hampden here may rest, Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood. – GRAY’s Elegy.
(*2) Probably the monument to the memory of Dr. Smollett is in this extensive cemetery, as in his Life it is said to be erected near Leghorn.
Macintosh Mackay, Memoir of James Ewing, esq. of Strathlever, 1866, 158.
We the drove to the English burying-ground – a place hallowed by many names, some of which I knew, and others I respected. I took slight sketches of the tombs of Smollett and Horner, and I remarked the place for Miss Campbell of Stonefield. There is no Protestant interment allowed at Pisa, where so many English consumptive patients breathe their last; so their remains are all transferred to Leghorn. The monuments are all of white marble, some in fine taste; and the numerous evergreens of all kinds interpersed give a new feature to the Pere-la-Chaise. The place is now full, so that a new one has been opened in a much less appropriate situation.
Mark Girouard, Reston Hall, Cumbria in “Country Life”, 185 (32), August 8, 1991, 42.
Tourists do not go to Livorno (or Leghorn, as the English used to call it), least of all to the Via Giuseppe Verdi in its 19th-century outskirts, where a locked iron gate leads to the English cemetery. Until it was closed in 1839, this was used as a burial place for English visitors or residents who died in Florence, Pisa and Lucca as well as Livorno. Here, in the mysterious melancholy landscape common to all disused cemeteries, lie Tobias Smollett, the novelist; Louisa Beckford, the demanding and rejected mistress of her husband’s cousin William Beckford; the susceptible and rackety Countess of Lanesborough, daughter of the wicked Earl of Belvedere; two able parliamentarians cut off in their prime – Francis Horner, the political economist, and William Henry Lambton, coal millionaire and father of “Radical Jack” Durham; and a dozen or more people of title, struck down by accident or cholera when on the Grand Tour.
But here also lie dozens of everyday men and women: Marianna Crump of Shrewsbury; W. Trevelyan, master of the brig Tom Bowlin of Penzance; the four little children of Ichabod Bromwich of London; and, above all, tomb after tomb of the English merchants who prospered in the trading city of Leghorn in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries.
The most imposing of these monuments was erected, as its Latin inscription reveals, over the ashes of Robert Bateman, who traded as a merchant in Leghorn for about 30 years, and died there in 1743, aged 65. Another inscription by the entrance gate records that the wall and railings around the cemetery were erected in 1746 from a legacy left by Bateman. His bewigged image framed by a laurel wreath and Rococo scrolls, dominates the monument. This portrait medallion is based on an oil portrait, which must once have been in his own house, and hung for many years in the British Consulate in Leghorn, but only survives in a photograph in M. Carmichael’s Inscriptions in the British Cemetery in Leghorn (1906).
James Fenimore Cooper, Gleanings in Europe. Italy: By an American, 1838, Letter IV
Leghorn was the first seaport that I had entered since leaving Holland, and its delicious odours were inhaled with a delight that no language can describe. I had been living in an atmosphere of poetry for many months, and this was truly an atmosphere of life. “The fragrance of the bales of merchandize, of the piles of oranges — of even the fluid, saturated as it was with salt —to say nothing of the high seasoning of occasional breathings of tar and pitch, to me were pregnant “with odours of delight.” Still I found that residences in European capitals, and among the Alps and Apennines, is creating a strong distaste for all the more common appliances of commerce. Leghorn seemed vulgar and mean, after Florence, with its pretty little court, its museums and its refinements; and the only things that interested us were the sea, the port, the picturesque vessels, the fragrance, and a cemetery for the Protestant dead.
The island of Gorgona was looming in the haze, a hummock of rock, and it is said there are days on which the mountains of Corsica are visible from the mole. “There is also a noble dark pile at no great distance from the town, which is, appropriately enough, called Monte Nero. Its side is garnished with country houses, and there is a church near its summit that is in great repute among mariners, as a shrine at which offerings are to be made for deliveries from the casualties of the sea: I believe its name is that of Our Lady of the Storms. These Catholics have certainly got all the poetry of the religion.
We went to the Protestant cemetery, which contains many American graves, and among others that of Captain Gamble, who died here, in command of the Erie, about ten years ago. This gentleman, one of four brothers in the service, had been my messmate on Lake Ontario some twenty years before, and it was startling to find myself unexpectedly standing over his grave in the other hemisphere. On examining the monuments near, I was still more startled at reading the name of “Tobias Smollett” on one of them. He is known to have come to Italy to terminate his worldly career. The “Siste Viator” applies with force to those who speak English, and who find themselves unexpectedly standing over such a grave!
We soon exhausted the sights of Leghorn and returned to Pisa, where we slept.
Robert Semple, Observations on a Journey through Spain and Italy to Naples; and thence to Smyrna and Constantinople…, 1807, II, 16-18
On the first Sunday after my landing, whilst wandering on the outside of the ramparts, I stumbled upon the English burying ground, surrounded by an iron railing, and shut by a gate. A quarter of a dollar procured me admission; when it appeared to me by far the noblest cemetery I had ever seen; the monuments being all of marble, and executed in a taste greatly superior to what is commonly found any where in England. Here lie the remains of Tobias Smollett; and I felt a melancholy pleasure at beholding in Italy the grave of a man by whose writings I had been so often charmed, and to whose memory I had already seen an obelisk erected on the banks of the Leven. Out of the boundaries of the burying ground I heard nothing but Tuscan or Italian. But here the marble monuments spake to me in plain English, and told me that many of my countrymen, who had once been illustrious in arts or arms, were now laid under the foreign turf on which I trod. Besides the pillar to the memory of Smollett, and many others worthy of attention, I particularly paused on the tomb-stone of a mother, who died in bringing into the world two infants (*), who are buried with her in the same grave. The figure of the mother recumbent, and of the two babes, appeared to me beautiful and affecting, although somewhat impaired by time, and exposure to the open air. In a word, my meditations on this occasion were not un suited to the place, the day, and my own isolated situation. I could not help thinking that it might yet be my own destiny to fall in a foreign land; and I secretly prayed to Heaven that my burying place at least might not be so obscure but that some wandering Englishman should be there to sigh over my grave.
(*) The grave of the mother with two children Semple refers to, is that of Mary Champion (1692-1721), of a well known cornish merchant family. She married Thomas Mitchell (1687-1730), merchant in Livorno, secretary of the East India Company and nephew of Gilbert Heathcote (1651-1732), FRS, Mayor of London, and Director of the Bank of England. She was an aunt of the poet Anthony Champion (1725-1801) and niece of Francis Arundel (1659-1712), merchant of Livorno and Bath.
Elizabeth Wynne Fremantle, Journal (unpublished ms.), Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Fremantle papers, Livorno, 14 Mar. 1819 (*).
‘I met in my walk, Miss Hay, whose mother died some time back at Rome, & is to be buried here in the English burying Ground, which is one of the prettiest things I have seen being full of very handsome white marble monuments among them is Smollet’s, Ld. Guildford’s &c it is not more than half a mile from the Town.’
(*) Transcription courtesy of Dr. Elaine Chalus, Senior Lecturer in History, Bath Spa University, United Kingdom.
[Auguste Barbier], Souvenirs personnels et silhouettes contemporaines, 1883, pp.104-5:
[…] Quant au cimetière protestant, il est assez éloigné de la synagogue; pour y entrer il faut sortir de la ville. C’est un grand jardin, remarquable par le nombre et la beauté de ses cyprès. Ces arbres conifères jettent leurs ombres noires sur une foule de tombeaux de marbre couchés sans ordre. Ce sont, pour la plupart, des sépultures d’Anglais. Il y a peu de bon goût; cependant, comme tout ce qui est humain ou ce qui a appartenu à l’humanité intéresse, je me mets à lire un certain nombre d’épitaphes. Malhereusement elles se ressemblent presque toutes: des versets de la Bible au-dessous de noms britanniques parfaitement inconnus, le tout surmonté de la formule ordinaire: Sacred to the memory.
Un tombeau, cependant, me parait déroger à ce mode habituel d’inscription, c’est un sarcophage tout en marbre blanc et sans nom. Sur la pierre est gravé un écusson armorial avec un casque au sommet, et au-dessous, pour toute légende, ces deux mots: Carpe diem, bon précepte à rappeler aux vivants. Evidemment le défunt était quelque gentilhomme épicurien qui savait son Horace. […]