If the half-hour between Leghorn and Pisa had been spent in any less lovely transit, I should still be grieving for the loss of the thirty minutes which might so much better have been given to either place. But with the constant line of mountains enclosing the landscape on the right, in all its variety of tillage, pasture-land, vineyard, and orchard, and the unchanging level which had once been the bed of the sea, we were gainers in sort beyond the gift of those cities. We had the company, great part of the way, of more stone-pines than we had seen even between Naples and Rome, here gathering into thick woods, with the light beautiful beneath the spread of their horizontal boughs, there grouped in classic groves, and yonder straying off in twos and threes. We had the canal that of old time made Pisa a port of the Mediterranean, with Leghorn for her servant on the shore (or, if it was not this canal, it was another as straight and long), with a peasant walking beside it, under a light-green umbrella, in the showers which threatened our start but spared our arrival. We had then the city, with its domes and towers, grown full height out of the plain through which the Arno curves in the stateliest crescent of all its course.

The day had turned finer than any other day I can now think of in my whole life, and I was once more in Pisa without the care for its history or art or even novelty which had corroded my mind in former visits. I had been there twice before - once in 1864, when I had done its wonders with all the wonder they merited, and again in 1883, when I had lived its memories on the scene of its manifold and mighty experiences. No distinct light from that learning vexed my present vision, but an agreeable mist of association, nothing certain, nothing tangible remaining, but only a gentle vague involving everything, in which I could possess my soul in peace. In this glimmer I recognized a certain cabman as having been waiting there from the dawn of time, with his dark-eyed little son, to make me his willing captive at something above the tariff rates, but destined by the same fate to serve me well, and to part with me friends at the close of the day for a franc more than the excess agreed upon. It costs so small a sum to corrupt the common carrier in Italy that I hold it wrong to fail of any chance, and this driver had not only a horse of uncommon qualities, but he spoke a beautiful Tuscan, and he had his Pisa at his fingers' ends.

We were of one mind about driving without delay to the famous group which is without rival on the earth, though there may be associated edifices in the red planet Mars that surpass the Cathedral, the Leaning Tower, the Baptistery, and the Campo Santo at Pisa. What genius it was imagined placing them in the pleasant meadow where they sit, just beyond the city streets, I do not know, but it was inspiration beyond any effect of mere taste, and it commanded my worship as much the last as the first time. The meadow still swims round them and breaks in a foam of daisies at their feet; for I take it that it is always mid-April there, and that the grass is as green and the sun as yellow on it as the afternoon we saw it. The sacred edifices are as golden as the light on them, and there is such a joyous lift in the air that it is a wonder they do not swing loose from their foundations and soar away into the celestial blue. For travellers in our willing mood there was, of course, the predestined cicerone waiting for us at the door of the cathedral, who would fix no price for the pleasure he was born to do us, yet still consented to take more than twice that he ought to have had at parting. But he was worth the money; he was worth quite two francs, and, though he was not without the fault of his calling and would have cumbered us with instruction, I will not blame him, for after a moment I perceived that his intelligence was such that I might safely put my hands in my pocket on my shut guide-book and follow him from point to point without fear of missing anything worth noting. Among the things worthiest noting, I saw, as if I had never seen them before, the unforgettable, forgotten Andrea del Sartos, especially the St. Agnes, in whose face you recognize the well-known features of the painter's wife, but with a gentler look than they usually wore in his Madonnas, perhaps because he happened to study these from that difficult lady when she was in her least celestial moods. Besides the masterpieces of other masters, there is a most noble So-doma, which the great Napoleon carried away to Paris and which the greater French people afterward restored. At every step in the beautiful temple you may well pause, for it abounds in pictures and sculptures, the least of which would enrich St. Peter's at Rome beyond the proudest effect of its poverty-stricken grandeur. Ghirlandajo, Michelangelo, Gaddo Gaddi, John of Bologna - the names came back to me out of a past of my own almost as remote as theirs, while our guide repeated them, in their relation to the sculptures or pictures or architecture, with those of lesser lights of art, and that school of Giotto, of all whose frescos once covering its walls the fire of three hundred years ago has left a few figures clinging to one of the pillars, faint and uncertain as the memories of my own former visits to the church. I did, indeed, remember me of an old bronze lamp, by Vincenzo Possenti, hanging from the roof, which I now revered the third time, at intervals of twenty years; from its oscillation Galileo is said to have got the notion of the pendulum; but it is now tied back with a wire, being no longer needed for such an inspiration. Mostly in this last visit I took Pisa as lightly as at the first, when, as I have noted from the printed witness, I was gayly indifferent to the claims of her objects of interest. If they came in my way, I looked at them, but I did not put myself much about for them. I rested mostly in the twilight of old associations, trusting to the guidance of our cicerone, whom, in some form or under some name, the reader will find waiting for him at the cathedral door as we did. But I have since recurred to the record of my second visit in 1883, with amazement at the exact knowledge of events shown there, which became, in 1908, all a blur of dim conjecture. It appears that I was then acquainted with much more Pisan history than any other author I have found own to. I had also surprising adventures of different kinds, such as my poorer experience of the present cannot parallel. I find, for instance, that in 1883 I gave a needy crone in the cathedral a franc instead of the piece of five centimes which I meant for her, and that the lamp of Galileo did nothing to light the gloom into which this error plunged my spirit.

It appears to have jaundiced my view of the whole cathedral, which I did not find at all comparable to that of Siena, whereas in 1908 I thought it all beautiful. This may have been because I was so newly from the ugliness of the Eoman churches; though I felt, as I had felt before, that the whole group of sacred edifices at Pisa was too suggestive of decorative pastry and confectionery. No more than at the second view of it did I now attempt the ascent of the Leaning Tower; I had discharged this duty for life when I first saw it; with my seventy-one years upon me, I was not willing to climb its winding stairs, and I doubted if I could keep it from falling, as I then did, by inclining myself the other way. I resolved that I would leave this to the new-comer; but I gladly followed our cicerone across the daisied green from the cathedral to the baptistery, where I found the famous echo waiting to welcome me back, and greet me with its angelic sweetness, when the custodian who has it in charge appealed to it; though its voice seemed to have been weakened and coarsened in its forced replies to some rude Americans there, who shouted out to it and mocked at it. One wished to ask them if they did not know that this echo was sacred, and that their challenges of it were a species of sacrilege. But doubtless that would not have availed to silence them. By-and-by they went away, and then we were aware of an interesting group of people by the font near the lovely Lombardic pulpit of Nicola Pisano. They were peasants, by their dress - a young father and mother and a little girl or two, and then a gentle, elderly woman, with a baby in her arms, at which she looked proudly down. They were in their simple best, and they had good Tuscan faces, full of kindness. I ventured some propitiatory coppers with the children, and, when the old woman made them thank me, I thought I could not be mistaken and I ventured further: "You are the grandmother?"

"Yes, signer," she answered; and then we had some talk about the age and the beauty of the baby, which I declared wonderful for both, in praises loud enough for the father and mother to hear. After that they seemed to hold a family council, from which I thought it respectful to stand apart until the grandmother spoke to me again.

I did not understand, and I appealed to our guide for help.

"She wishes you to be godfather to the child."

I had never yet been a godfather, but I had the belief that it brought grave responsibilities, which in the very casual and impermanent circumstances I did not see how I was to meet. Yet how to refuse without wounding these kind people who had so honored me I did not know until a sudden inspiration came to my rescue.

"Tell them," I said, "and be careful to make them understand, that I am very grateful and very sorry, but that I am a Protestant, and that I suppose I cannot, for that reason, be godfather to their child."

He explained, and they received my thanks and regrets with smiling acquiescence; and just then a very stout little old priest (who has baptized nearly all the babies in Pisa for fifty years) came in, and the baptism proceeded without my intervention. But I remained, somehow, disappointed; it would have been pleasant to leave a godchild behind me there in the neighborhood of Pisa; to have sent him from time to time some little remembrance of this remote America, and, perhaps, when he grew up and came to Pisa, and learned the art of the statuary, to have had from him a Leaning Tower which he had cut in alabaster for me. I was taking it for granted he was a boy, but he may not have been; there is always that chance.

If I had been alone, I suppose I should still have gone into the Campo Santo, from mere force of habit; I always go, in Pisa, but I had now with me clearer eyes for art than mine are, and I wished to have their light on the great allegories and histories frescoed round the cloisters, and test with them the objects of my tacit and explicit reserves and misgivings. I needed such eyes, and even some such powerful glasses as would have pierced through the faded and wasted pictures and shown them at least as I had first seen them. They were then in such reasonable disrepair as one might expect after three or four centuries, but in the last thirty years a ruinous waste has set in before which not only the colors have faded, but the surfaces have crumbled under the colors; and as yet no man knows how to stop the ravage. I think I have read that it is caused by a germ; but, if not, the loss is the same, and until a parasite for the germ is found the loss must go on, and the work of Giotto, of Be-nozzo Gozzoli, of Memmi, must perish with that of the Orgagnas, which may indeed go, for all me. Bible stories, miracles, allegories - they are all hasting to decay, and it can be but a few years until they shall vanish like the splendors of the dawn which they typify in art.

In some things the ruin is not altogether to be regretted. It has softened certain loathsome details of the charnel facts portrayed, and in other pictures the torment and anguish of the lost souls are no longer so painful as the old painters ascertained them. Hell in the Campo Santo is not now the hell of other days, just as the hell of Christian doctrine is not the hell it used to be. Death and the world are indeed immitigable; the corpses in their coffins are as terrifying to the gay lords and ladies who come suddenly upon them as ever they were, though doubtless of no more lasting effect with such sinners than they would be nowadays. But what one must chiefly lament is the waste of the whole quaint and charming series of Scripture incidents by Benozzo Gozzoli. This is indeed most lamentable, and after realizing the loss one is only a little heartened by the gayety of certain grieving widows, sitting in marble for monuments to their husbands at several points under the arcades. What cheer they might have brought us was impaired by the sight of the sarcophaguses and the other antiques against the walls, which inflicted an inappeasable ache for the city where such things abound, and brought our refluent Romesickness back full tide upon us. More than once Pisa elsewhere did us the like involuntary unkindness; she, too, is yellow and mellow like Rome, and she had moments of the Piazza Navona and the Piazza di Spagna which were poignant. But she had moments of her own when Rome could not rival her - such, for instance, as that when she invited us from the perishing frescos of her Campo Santo to turn our eyes on the flower-strewn field of death which the cloisters surrounded, and where in the hallowed earth which her galleys brought from Jerusalem her children, in their several turns, used to sleep so sweetly and safely.

The afternoon sunlight was prolonging the day there as well as it could, and we should have liked to linger with it as late as it would, but there were other places in Pisa calling us, and we must go. We found our driver, and his black-eyed boy beside him on the box, waiting for us at the cathedral door, and we seem to have left it pretty much to them where we should go. They decided us, if we really left it to them, mainly for the outside of things, so that we might see as much of Pisa as possible; but it appears to have been their notion that we ought to visit, at least, the inside of the Church of the Knights of St. Stephen. I do not know whether I protested or not that I had abundantly seen this already, but, at any rate, I am now glad that they took us there. As every traveller will pretend to remember, the main business of the knights was to fight the Barbary pirates, and the main business of their church is now to serve as a repository of the prows of the galleys and the flags which they took in their battles with the infidels. There are other monuments of their valor, but by all odds the flags will be the most interesting to the American visitor, because of the start that many of them will give him by their resemblance to our own banner, with their red-and-white stripes, which the eye follows in vivid expectation of finding the blue field of stars in the upper left-hand corner. It never does find this, and that is the sufficient reason for holding to the theory that our flag was copied from the armorial bearings of the Washington family, and not taken from the standard of those paynim corsairs; but there is poignant instant when one trembles.

We viewed, of course, the exterior of the edifice standing on the site of the Tower of Famine, where the cruel archbishop starved the Count Ugolino and his grandchildren to death; and we drove by the buildings of Pisa's famous university, which we afterward fancied rather pervaded the city with the young and ardent life of its students. It is no great architectural presence, but there are churches and palaces to make up for that. Everywhere you chance on them in the narrow streets and the ample piazzas, but the palaces follow mostly the stately curve of the Arno, where some of them have condescended to the office of hotels, and where, I believe, one might live in economy and comfort; or, at any rate, I should like to try. It would get rather warm there in May, and July and August are not to be thought of, but all the other year it would be divine, with such a prospect as can hardly be matched anywhere else. Pisa used once to be the resort of many seeking health or warmth, and for mere climate it ought again to come into favor. Probably there is reasonably accessible society there, and, as the Livornese believe, there is at least excellent opera. The time might grow long, but ought not to be very heavy, and there is a cafe, at the very finest point of the curve, where you can get an excellent cup of tea. Whether this attests the resort or sojourn of many English, or the growth of the tea-habit among the Pisans, I cannot say, but that cafe is very charming, with students standing about in it and admiring the ladies who come in to buy pastry, and who do not suppose there is any one there to look at them. I am sure that the handsome mother with the pretty daughter who lingered so long over their choice of little cakes could not have imagined any one was looking, or she would at once have taken macaroons and hurried away: at that cafe they have macaroons almost three inches across, and delicious.

The whole keeping was so pleasant that we hated to leave it to the lengthening shadows from the other shore, but we were to drive down the Arno into the promenade that follows it, I do not know how far; with the foolish greed of travel, we wanted to get in all of Pisa that we could, even if we tore ourselves from its most tempting morsel. But it was all joy, and I should like, at this moment, to be starting on that enchanting drive again. I leave the reader to imagine the lovely scenery for himself; almost any of my many backgrounds will serve; but I will supply him with a piece of statistics such as does not fall in everybody's way. We noted the great number of anglers who lined the opposite bank, with no appearance of catching anything, and I asked our driver if they never happened to get a bite. "Not in the daytime," he explained, compassionately, "but as soon as the evening comes they get all the fish they want."

I could pour out on the reader many other Pisan statistics, but they would be at second-hand. After long vicissitude, the city is again almost as prosperous as she was in the heyday of her national greatness, when she had commerce with every Levantine and Oriental port. We ourselves saw a silk factory pouring forth a tide of pretty girls from their work at the end of the day; there was no ruin or disrepair noticeable anywhere, and the whole city was as clean as Rome, with streets paved with broad, smooth flagstones where you never missed the rubber tires which your carriage failed of. But Pisa had a great air of resting, of taking life easily after a tumultuous existence in the long past which she had put behind her. Throughout the Middle Ages she was always fighting foreign foes without her walls or domestic factions within, now the Saracens wherever she could find them or they could find her, now the Normans in Naples, now the Cor-sicans and Sardinians, now Lucca, now Genoa, now Florence, and now all three. Her wars with these republics were really incessant; they were not so much wars as battles in one long war, with a peace occasionally made during the five or ten or fifteen years, which was no better than a truce. When she fell under the Medici, together with her enemy Florence, she shared the death-quiet the tyrants brought that prepotent republic, and it was the Medicean strength probably which saved her from Lucca and Genoa, though it left them to continue republics down to the nineteenth century. She was at one time an oligarchy, and at another a democracy, and at another the liege of this prince or that priest, but she was never out of trouble as long as she possessed independence or the shadow of it. In the safe hold of united Italy she now sits by her Arno and draws long, deep breaths, which you may almost hear as you pass; and I hope the prospect of increasing prosperity will not tempt her to work too hard. It does not look as if it would.

We were getting a little anxious, but not very anxious, for that one cannot be in Pisa, about our train back to Leghorn; though we did not wish to go, we did not wish to be left; but our driver reassured us, and would not let us shirk the duty of seeing the house where Galileo was born. We found it in a long street on the thither side of the river, and in such a poor quarter that our driver could himself afford to live only a few doors from it. As if they had expected him to pass about this time, his wife and his five children were sitting at his door and playing before it. He proudly pointed them out with his whip, and one of the little ones followed on foot far enough to levy tribute. They were sufficiently comely children, but blond, whereas the boy on the box was both black-eyed and black-haired. When we required an explanation of the mystery, the father easily solved it; this boy was the child of his first wife. If there were other details, I have forgotten them, but we made our romance to the effect that the boy, to whose beautiful eyes we now imputed a lurking sadness, was not happy with his step-mother, and that he took refuge from her on the box with his father. They seemed very good comrades; the boy had shared with his father the small cakes we had given him at the cafe. At the station, in recognition of his hapless lot, I gave him half a franc. By that time his father was radiant from the small extortion I had suffered him to practice with me, and he bade the boy thank me, which he did so charmingly that I almost, but not quite, gave him another half-franc. Now I am sorry I did not. Pisa was worth it.