1867 and 1895
The Road to Rome from Venice: I. Leaving Venice 9 II. From Padua to Ferrara 10 III. The Picturesque, the Improbable, and the Pathetic in Ferrara 14 IV. Through Bologna to Genoa 43 V. Up and Down Genoa 52 VI. By Sea from Genoa to Naples 65 VII. Certain Things in Naples 75 VIII. A Day in Pompeii 89 IX. A Half-hour at Herculaneum 106 X. Capri and Capriotes 116 XI. The Protestant Ragged Schools at Naples 136 XII. Between Rome and Naples 147 XIII. Roman Pearls 151
Forza Maggiore 178
At Padua 196
A Pilgrimage to Petrarch's House at Arqua 216
A Visit to the Cimbri 235
Minor Travels: I. Pisa 251 II. The Ferrara Road 259 III. Trieste 264 IV. Bassano 274 V. Possagno, Canova's Birthplace 280 VI. Como 285
Stopping at Vicenza, Verona, and Parma 293
Ducal Mantua 321
THE ROAD TO ROME FROM VENICE.
We did not know, when we started from home in Venice, on the 8th of November, 1864, that we had taken the longest road to Rome. We thought that of all the proverbial paths to the Eternal City that leading to Padua, and thence through Ferrara and Bologna to Florence, and so down the sea-shore from Leghorn to Civita Vecchia, was the best, the briefest, and the cheapest. Who could have dreamed that this path, so wisely and carefully chosen, would lead us to Genoa, conduct us on shipboard, toss us four dizzy days and nights, and set us down, void, battered, and bewildered, in Naples? Luckily,
"The moving accident is not my trade,"
for there are events of this journey (now happily at an end) which, if I recounted them with unsparing sincerity, would forever deter the reader from taking any road to Rome.
Though, indeed, what is Rome, after all, when you come to it?
FROM PADUA TO FERRARA.
As far as to Ferrara there was no sign of deviation from the direct line in our road, and the company was well enough. We had a Swiss family in the car with us to Padua, and they told us how they were going home to their mountains from Russia, where they had spent nineteen years of their lives. They were mother and father and only daughter and the last, without ever having seen her ancestral country, was so Swiss in her yet childish beauty, that she filled the morning twilight with vague images of glacial height, blue lake, snug chalet, and whatever else of picturesque there is in paint and print about Switzerland. Of course, as the light grew brighter these images melted away, and left only a little frost upon the window-pane.
The mother was restively anxious at nearing her country, and told us every thing of its loveliness and happiness. Nineteen years of absence had not robbed it of the poorest charm, and I hope that seeing it again took nothing from it. We said how glad we should be if we were as near America as she was to Switzerland. "America!" she screamed; "you come from America! Dear God, the world is wide—the world is wide!" The thought was so paralyzing that it silenced the fat little lady for a moment, and gave her husband time to express his sympathy with us in our war, which he understood perfectly well. He trusted that the revolution to perpetuate slavery must fail, and he hoped that the war would soon end, for it made cotton very dear.
Europe is material: I doubt if, after Victor Hugo and Garibaldi, there were many upon that continent whose enthusiasm for American unity (which is European freedom) was not somewhat chilled by the expensiveness of cotton. The fabrics were all doubled in price, and every man in Europe paid tribute in hard money to the devotion with which we prosecuted the war, and, incidentally, interrupted the cultivation of cotton.
We shook hands with our friends, and dismounted at Padua, where we were to take the diligence for the Po. In the diligence their loss was more than made good by the company of the only honest man in Italy. Of course this honest man had been a great sufferer from his own countrymen, and I wish that all English and American tourists, who think themselves the sole victims of publican rapacity and deceit in Italy, could have heard our honest man's talk. The truth is, these ingenious people prey upon their own kind with an avidity quite as keen as that with which they devour strangers; and I am half-persuaded that a ready-witted foreigner fares better among them than a traveller of their own nation. Italians will always pretend, on any occasion, that you have been plundered much worse than they but the reverse often happens. They give little in fees; but their landlord, their porter, their driver, and their boatman pillage them with the same impunity that they rob an Inglese. As for this honest man in the diligence, he had suffered such enormities at the hands of the Paduans, from which we had just escaped, and at the hands of the Ferrarese, into which we were rushing (at the rate of five miles scant an hour), that I was almost minded to stop between the nests of those brigands and pass the rest of my days at Rovigo, where the honest man lived. His talk was amusingly instructive, and went to illustrate the strong municipal spirit which still dominates all Italy, and which is more inimical to an effectual unity among Italians than Pope or Kaiser has ever been. Our honest man of Rovigo was a foreigner at Padua, twenty-five miles north, and a foreigner at Ferrara, twenty-five miles south; and throughout Italy the native of one city is an alien in another, and is as lawful prey as a Russian or an American with people who consider every stranger as sent them by the bounty of Providence to be eaten alive. Heaven knows what our honest man had paid at his hotel in Padua, but in Ferrara the other week he had been made to give five francs apiece for two small roast chickens, besides a fee to the waiter; and he pathetically warned us to beware how we dealt with Italians. Indeed, I never met a man so thoroughly persuaded of the rascality of his nation and of his own exceptional virtue. He took snuff with his whole person; and he volunteered, at sight of a flock of geese, a recipe which I give the reader: Stuff a goose with sausage; let it hang in the weather during the winter; and in the spring cut it up and stew it, and you have an excellent and delicate soup.
But after all our friend's talk, though constant, became dispiriting, and we were willing when he left us. His integrity had, indeed, been so oppressive that I was glad to be swindled in the charge for our dinner at the Iron Crown, in Rovigo, and rode more cheerfully on to Ferrara.
THE PICTURESQUE, THE IMPROBABLE, AND THE PATHETIC IN FERRARA.
It was one of the fatalities of travel, rather than any real interest in the poet, which led me to visit the prison of Tasso on the night of our arrival, which was mild and moonlit. The portier at the Stella d'Oro suggested the sentimental homage to sorrows which it is sometimes difficult to respect, and I went and paid this homage in the coal-cellar in which was never imprisoned the poet whose works I had not read.
The famous hospital of St. Anna, where Tasso was confined for seven years, is still an asylum for the infirm and sick, but it is no longer used as a mad-house. It stands on one of the lone, silent Ferrarese streets, not far from the Ducal Castle, and it is said that from the window of his cell the unhappy poet could behold Leonora in her tower. It may be so; certainly those who can believe in the genuineness of the cell will have no trouble in believing that the vision of Tasso could pierce through several brick walls and a Doric portico, and at last comprehend the lady at her casement in the castle. We entered a modern gateway, and passed into a hall of the elder edifice, where a slim young soldier sat reading a romance of Dumas. This was the keeper of Tasso's prison; and knowing me, by the instinct which teaches an Italian custodian to distinguish his prey, for a seeker after the True and Beautiful, he relinquished his romance, lighted a waxen taper, unbolted a heavy door with a dramatic clang, and preceded me to the cell of Tasso. We descended a little stairway, and found ourselves in a sufficiently spacious court, which was still ampler in the poet's time, and was then a garden planted with trees and flowers. On a low doorway to the right was inscribed the legend "PRIGIONE DI TASSO," and passing through this doorway into a kind of reception-cell, we entered the poet's dungeon. It is an oblong room, with a low wagon-roof ceiling, under which it is barely possible to stand upright. A single narrow window admits the light, and the stone casing of this window has a hollow in a certain place, which might well have been worn there by the friction of the hand that for seven years passed the prisoner his food through the small opening. The young custodian pointed to this memento of suffering, without effusion, and he drew my attention to other remarkable things in the cell, without troubling himself to palliate their improbability in the least. They were his stock in trade; you paid your money, and took your choice of believing in them or not. On the other hand, my portier, an ex-valet de place, pumped a softly murmuring stream of enthusiasm; and expressed the freshest delight in the inspection of each object of interest.
One still faintly discerns among the vast number of names with which the walls of the ante-cell are bewritten, that of Lamartine. The name of Byron, which was once deeply graven in the stucco, had been scooped away by the Grand Duke of Tuscany (so the custodian said), and there is only part of a capital B now visible. But the cell itself is still fragrant of associations with the noble bard, who, according to the story related to Valery, caused himself to be locked up in it, and there, with his head fallen upon his breast, and frequently smiting his brow, spent two hours in pacing the floor with great strides. It is a touching picture; but its pathos becomes somewhat embarrassing when you enter the cell, and see the impossibility of taking more than three generous paces without turning. When Byron issued forth, after this exercise, he said (still according to Valery) to the custodian: "I thank thee, good man! The thoughts of Tasso are now all in my mind and heart." "A short time after his departure from Ferrara," adds the Frenchman, maliciously, "he composed his 'Lament of Tasso,' a mediocre result from such inspiration." No doubt all this is colored, for the same author adds another tint to heighten the absurdity of the spectacle: he declares that Byron spent part of his time in the cell in writing upon the ceiling Lamartine's verses on Tasso, which he misspelled. The present visitor has no means of judging of the truth concerning this, for the lines of the poet have been so smoked by the candles of successive pilgrims in their efforts to get light on them, that they are now utterly illegible. But if it is uncertain what were Byron's emotions on visiting the prison of Tasso, there is no doubt about Lady Morgan's: she "experienced a suffocating emotion; her heart failed her on entering that cell; and she satisfied a melancholy curiosity at the cost of a most painful sensation."
I find this amusing fact stated in a translation of her ladyship's own language, in a clever guide-book called Il Servitore di Piazza, which I bought at Ferrara, and from which, I confess, I have learnt all I know to confirm me in my doubt of Tasso's prison. The Count Avventi, who writes this book, prefaces it by saying that he is a valet de place who knows how to read and write, and he employs these unusual gifts with singular candor and clearness. No one, he says, before the nineteenth century, ever dreamed of calling the cellar in question Tasso's prison, and it was never before that time made the shrine of sentimental pilgrimage, though it has since been visited by every traveller who has passed through Ferrara. It was used during the poet's time to hold charcoal and lime; and not long ago died an old servant of the hospital, who remembered its use for that purpose. It is damp, close, and dark, and Count Avventi thinks it hardly possible that a delicate courtier could have lived seven years in a place unwholesome enough to kill a stout laborer in two months; while it seems to him not probable that Tasso should have received there the visits of princes and other distinguished persons whom Duke Alfonso allowed to see him, or that a prisoner who was often permitted to ride about the city in a carriage should have been thrust back into such a cavern on his return to the hospital. "After this," says our valet de place who knows how to read and write, "visit the prison of Tasso, certain that in the hospital of St. Anna that great man was confined for many years;" and, with this chilly warning, leaves his reader to his emotions.
I am afraid that if as frank caution were uttered in regard to other memorable places, the objects of interest in Italy would dwindle sadly in number, and the valets de place, whether they know how to read and write or not, would be starved to death. Even the learning of Italy is poetic; and an Italian would rather enjoy a fiction than know a fact—in which preference I am not ready to pronounce him unwise. But this characteristic of his embroiders the stranger's progress throughout the whole land with fanciful improbabilities; so that if one use his eyes half as much as his wonder, he must see how much better it would have been to visit, in fancy, scenes that have an interest so largely imaginary. The utmost he can make out of the most famous place is, that it is possibly what it is said to be, and is more probably as near that as any thing local enterprise could furnish. He visits the very cell in which Tasso was confined, and has the satisfaction of knowing that it was the charcoal-cellar of the hospital in which the poet dwelt. And the genius loci—where is that? Away in the American woods, very likely, whispering some dreamy, credulous youth,—telling him charming fables of its locus, and proposing to itself to abandon him as soon as he sets foot upon its native ground. You see, though I cared little about Tasso, and nothing about his prison, I was heavily disappointed in not being able to believe in it, and felt somehow that I had been awakened from a cherished dream.
But I have no right to cast the unbroken shadow of my skepticism upon the reader, and so I tell him a story about Ferrara which I actually believe. He must know that in Ferrara the streets are marvelous long and straight. On the corners formed by the crossing of two of the longest and straightest of these streets stand four palaces, in only one of which we have a present interest. This palace my guide took me to see, after our visit to Tasso's prison, and, standing in its shadow, he related to me the occurrence which has given it a sad celebrity. It was, in the time of the gifted toxicologist, the residence of Lucrezia Borgia, who used to make poisonous little suppers there, and ask the best families of Italy to partake of them. It happened on one occasion that Lucrezia Borgia was thrust out of a ball-room at Venice as a disreputable character, and treated with peculiar indignity. She determined to make the Venetians repent their unwonted accession of virtue, and she therefore allowed the occurrence to be forgotten till the proper moment of her revenge arrived, when she gave a supper, and invited to her board eighteen young and handsome Venetian nobles. Upon the preparation of this repast she bestowed all the resources of her skillful and exquisite knowledge; and the result was, the Venetians were so felicitously poisoned that they had just time to listen to a speech from the charming and ingenious lady of the house before expiring. In this address she reminded her guests of the occurrence in the Venetian ball-room, and perhaps exulted a little tediously in her present vengeance. She was surprised and pained when one of the guests interrupted her, and, justifying the treatment she had received at Venice, declared himself her natural son. The lady instantly recognized him, and in the sudden revulsion of maternal feeling, begged him to take an antidote. This he not only refused to do, but continued his dying reproaches, till his mother, losing her self-command, drew her poniard and plunged it into his heart.
The blood of her son fell upon the table-cloth, and this being hung out of the window to dry, the wall received a stain, which neither the sun nor rain of centuries sufficed to efface, and which was only removed with the masonry, when it became necessary to restore the wall under that window, a few months before the time of my visit to Ferrara. Accordingly, the blood-stain has now disappeared; but the conscientious artist who painted the new wall has faithfully restored the tragic spot, by bestowing upon the stucco a bloody dash of Venetian red.
It would be pleasant and merciful, I think, if old towns, after having served a certain number of centuries for the use and pride of men, could be released to a gentle, unmolested decay. I, for my part, would like to have the ducal cities of North Italy, such as Mantua, Modena, Parma, and Ferrara, locked up quietly within their walls, and left to crumble and totter and fall, without any harder presence to vex them in their decrepitude than that of some gray custodian, who should come to the gate with clanking keys, and admit the wandering stranger, if he gave signs of a reverent sympathy, to look for a little while upon the reserved and dignified desolation. It is a shame to tempt these sad old cities into unnatural activity, when they long ago made their peace with the world, and would fain be mixing their weary brick and mortar with the earth's unbuilded dust; and it is hard for the emotional traveller to restrain his sense of outrage at finding them inhabited, and their rest broken by sounds of toil, traffic, and idleness; at seeing places that would gladly have had done with history still doomed to be parts of political systems, to read the newspapers, and to expose railway guides and caricatures of the Pope and of Napoleon in their shop windows.
Of course, Ferrara was not incorporated into a living nation against her will, and I therefore marveled the more that she had become a portion of the present kingdom of Italy. The poor little State had its day long before ours; it had been a republic, and then subject to lords; and then, its lords becoming dukes, it had led a life of gayety and glory till its fall, and given the world such names and memories as had fairly won it the right to rest forever from making history. Its individual existence ended with that of Alfonso II., in 1597, when the Pope declared it reverted to the Holy See; and I always fancied that it must have received with a spectral, yet courtly kind of surprise, those rights of man which bloody-handed France distributed to the Italian cities in 1796; that it must have experienced a ghostly bewilderment in its rapid transformation, thereafter, under Napoleon, into part of the Cispadan Republic, the Cisalpine Republic, the Italian Republic, and the Kingdom of Italy, and that it must have sunk back again under the rule of the Popes with gratitude and relief at last—as phantoms are reputed to be glad when released from haunting the world where they once dwelt. I speak of all this, not so much from actual knowledge of facts as from personal feeling; for it seems to me that if I were a city of the past, and must be inhabited at all, I should choose just such priestly domination, assured that though it consumed my substance, yet it would be well for my fame and final repose. I should like to feel that my old churches were safe from demolition: that my old convents and monasteries should always shelter the pious indolence of friars and nuns. It would be pleasant to have studious monks exploring quaint corners of my unphilosophized annals, and gentle, snuff-taking abbes writing up episodes in the history of my noble families, and dedicating them to the present heirs of past renown; while the thinker and the reviewer should never penetrate my archives. Being myself done with war, I should be glad to have my people exempt, as they are under the Pope, from military service; and I should hope that if the Legates taxed them, the taxes paid would be as so many masses said to get my soul out of the purgatory of perished capitals. Finally, I should trust that in the sanctified keeping of the Legates my mortal part would rest as sweetly as bones laid in hallowed earth brought from Jerusalem; and that under their serene protection I should be forever secure from being in any way exhumed and utilized by the ruthless hand of Progress.
However, as I said, this is a mere personal preference, and other old cities might feel differently. Indeed, though disposed to condole with Ferrara upon the fact of her having become part of modern Italy, I could not deny, on better acquaintance with her, that she was still almost entirely of the past. She has certainly missed that ideal perfection of non-existence under the Popes which I have just depicted, but she is practically almost as profoundly at rest under the King of Italy. One may walk long through the longitude and rectitude of many of her streets without the encounter of a single face: the place, as a whole, is by no means as lively as Pompeii, where there are always strangers; perhaps the only cities in the world worthy to compete with Ferrara in point of agreeable solitude are Mantua and Herculaneum. It is the newer part of the town—the modern quarter built before Boston was settled or Ohio was known—which is loneliest; and whatever motion and cheerfulness are still felt in Ferrara linger fondly about the ancient holds of life—about the street before the castle of the Dukes, and in the elder and narrower streets branching away from the piazza of the Duomo, where, on market days, there is a kind of dreamy tumult. In the Ghetto we were almost crowded, and people wanted to sell us things, with an enterprise that contrasted strangely with shopkeeping apathy elsewhere. Indeed, surprise at the presence of strangers spending two days in Ferrara when they could have got away sooner, was the only emotion which the whole population agreed in expressing with any degree of energy, but into this they seemed to throw their whole vitality. The Italians are everywhere an artless race, so far as concerns the gratification of their curiosity, from which no consideration of decency deters them. Here in Ferrara they turned about and followed us with their eyes, came to windows to see us, lay in wait for us at street-corners, and openly and audibly debated whether we were English or German. We might have thought this interest a tribute to something peculiar in our dress or manner, had it not visibly attended other strangers who arrived with us. It rose almost into a frenzy of craving to know more of us all, when on the third day the whole city assembled before our hotel, and witnessed, with a sort of desperate cry, the departure of the heavy-laden omnibus which bore us and our luggage from their midst.
I doubt if, after St. Mark's in Venice, the Duomo at Parma, and the Four Fabrics at Pisa, there is a church more worthy to be seen for its quaint, rich architecture, than the Cathedral at Ferrara. It is of that beloved Gothic of which eye or soul cannot weary, and we continually wandered back to it from other more properly interesting objects. It is horribly restored in-doors, and its Renaissance splendors soon drove us forth, after we had looked at the Last Judgment by Bastianino. The style of this painting is muscular and Michelangelic, and the artist's notion of putting his friends in heaven and his foes in hell is by no means novel; but he has achieved fame for his picture by the original thought of making it his revenge for a disappointment in love. The unhappy lady who refused his love is represented in the depths, in the attitude of supplicating the pity and interest of another maiden in Paradise who accepted Bastianino, and who consequently has no mercy on her that snubbed him. But I counted of far more value than this fresco the sincere old sculptures on the facade of the cathedral, in which the same subject is treated, beginning from the moment the archangel's trump has sounded. The people getting suddenly out of their graves at the summons are all admirable; but the best among them is the excellent man with one leg over the side of his coffin, and tugging with both hands to pull himself up, while the coffin-lid tumbles off behind. One sees instantly that the conscience of this early riser is clean, for he makes no miserable attempt to turn over for a nap of a few thousand years more, with the pretense that it was not the trump of doom, but some other and unimportant noise he had heard. The final reward of the blessed is expressed by the repose of one small figure in the lap of a colossal effigy, which I understood to mean rest in Abraham's bosom; but the artist has bestowed far more interest and feeling upon the fate of the damned, who are all boiling in rows of immense pots. It is doubtful (considering the droll aspect of heavenly bliss as figured in the one small saint and the large patriarch) whether the artist intended the condition of his sinners to be so horribly comic as it is; but the effect is just as great, for all that, and the slowest conscience might well take alarm from the spectacle of fate so grotesque and ludicrous; for, wittingly or unwittingly, the artist here punishes, as Dante knew best how to do, the folly of sinners as well as their wickedness. Boiling is bad enough; but to be boiled in an undeniable dinner-pot, like a leg of mutton, is to suffer shame us well as agony.
We turned from these horrors, and walked down by the side of the Duomo toward the Ghetto, which is not so foul as one could wish a Ghetto to be. The Jews were admitted to Ferrara in 1275, and, throughout the government of the Dukes, were free to live where they chose in the city; but the Pope's Legate assigned them afterward a separate quarter, which was closed with gates. Large numbers of Spanish Jews fled hither during the persecutions, and there are four synagogues for the four languages,—Spanish, German, French, and Italian. Avventi mentions, among other interesting facts concerning the Ferrarese Jews, that one of their Rabbins, Isaaco degli Abranelli, a man of excellent learning in the Scriptures, claimed to be descended from David. His children still abide in Ferrara; and it may have been one of his kingly line that kept the tempting antiquarian's shop on the corner from which you turn up toward the Library. I should think such a man would find a sort of melancholy solace in such a place: filled with broken and fragmentary glories of every kind, it would serve him for that chamber of desolation, set apart in the houses of the Oriental Hebrews as a place to bewail themselves in; and, indeed, this idea may go far to explain the universal Israelitish fondness for dealing in relics and ruins.
The Ghetto was in itself indifferent to us; it was merely our way to the Library, whither the great memory of Ariosto invited us to see his famous relics treasured there.
We found that the dead literati of Ferrara had the place wholly to themselves; not a living soul disputed the solitude of the halls with the custodians, and the bust of Ariosto looked down from his monument upon rows of empty tables, idle chairs, and dusty inkstands.
The poet, who was painted by Titian, has a tomb of abandoned ugliness, and sleeps under three epitaphs; while cherubs frescoed on the wall behind affect to disclose the mausoleum, by lifting a frescoed curtain, but deceive no one who cares to consider how impossible it would be for them to perform this service, and caper so ignobly as they do at the same time. In fact this tomb of Ariosto shocks with its hideousness and levity. It stood formerly in the Church of San Benedetto, where it was erected shortly after the poet's death, and it was brought to the Library by the French, when they turned the church into a barracks for their troops. The poet's dust, therefore, rests here, where the worm, working silently through the vellum volumes on the shelves, feeds upon the immortality of many other poets. In the adjoining hall are the famed and precious manuscripts of Ariosto and of Tasso. A special application must be made to the librarian, in order to see the fragment of the Furioso in Ariosto's hand, and the manuscript copy of the Gerusalemma, with the corrections by Tasso. There are some pages of Ariosto's Satires, framed and glazed for the satisfaction of the less curious; as well as a letter of Tasso's, written from the Hospital of St. Anna, which the poet sends to a friend, with twelve shirts, and in which he begs that his friend will have the shirts mended, and cautions him "not to let them be mixed with others." But when the slow custodian had at last unlocked that more costly fragment of the Furioso, and placed it in my hands, the other manuscripts had no value for me. It seems to me that the one privilege which travel has reserved to itself, is that of making each traveller, in presence of its treasures, forget whatever other travellers have said or written about them. I had read so much of Ariosto's industry, and of the proof of it in this manuscript, that I doubted if I should at last marvel at it. But the wonder remains with the relic, and I paid it my homage devoutly and humbly, and was disconcerted afterward to read again in my Valery how sensibly all others had felt the preciousness of that famous page, which, filled with half a score of previous failures, contains in a little open space near the margin, the poet's final triumph in a clearly written stanza. Scarcely less touching and interesting than Ariosto's painful work on these yellow leaves, is the grand and simple tribute which another Italian poet was allowed to inscribe on one of them: "Vittorio Alfieri beheld and venerated;" and I think, counting over the many memorable things I saw on the road to Rome and the way home again, this manuscript was the noblest thing and best worthy to be remembered.
When at last I turned from it, however, I saw that the custodian had another relic of Messer Lodovico, which he was not ashamed to match with the manuscript in my interest. This was the bone of one of the poet's fingers, which the pious care of Ferrara had picked up from his dust (when it was removed from the church to the Library), and neatly bottled and labeled. In like manner, they keep a great deal of sanctity in bottles with the bones of saints in Italy; but I found very little savor of poesy hanging about this literary relic.
As if the melancholy fragment of mortality had marshaled us the way, we went from the Library to the house of Ariosto, which stands at the end of a long, long street, not far from the railway station. There was not a Christian soul, not a boy, not a cat nor a dog to be seen in all that long street, at high noon, as we looked down its narrowing perspective, and if the poet and his friends have ever a mind for a posthumous meeting in his little reddish brick house, there is nothing to prevent their assembly, in broad daylight, from any part of the neighborhood. There was no presence, however, more spiritual than a comely country girl to respond to our summons at the door, and nothing but a tub of corn-meal disputed our passage inside. Directly I found the house inhabited by living people, I began to be sorry that it was not as empty as the Library and the street. Indeed, it is much better with Petrarch's house at Arqua, where the grandeur of the past is never molested by the small household joys and troubles of the present. That house is vacant, and no eyes less tender and fond than the poet's visitors may look down from its windows over the slope of vines and olives which it crowns; and it seemed hard, here in Ferrara, where the houses are so many and the people are so few, that Ariosto's house could not be left to him. Parva sed apta mihi, he has contentedly written upon the front; but I doubt if he finds it large enough for another family, though his modern housekeeper reserves him certain rooms for visitors. To gain these, you go up to the second story—there are but two floors—and cross to the rear of the building, where Ariosto's chamber opens out of an ante-room, and looks down upon a pinched and faded bit of garden. [In this garden the poet spent much of his time—chiefly in plucking up and transplanting the unlucky shrubbery, which was never suffered to grow three months in the same place,—such was the poet's rage for revision. It was probably never a very large or splendid garden, for the reason that Ariosto gave when reproached that he who knew so well how to describe magnificent palaces should have built such a poor little house: "It was easier to make verses than houses, and the fine palaces in his poem cost him no money."] In this chamber they say the poet died. It is oblong, and not large. I should think the windows and roof were of the poet's time, and that every thing else had been restored; I am quite sure the chairs and inkstand are kindly-meant inventions; for the poet's burly great arm-chair and graceful inkstand are both preserved in the Library. But the house is otherwise decent and probable; and I do not question but it was in the hall where we encountered the meal-tub that the poet kept a copy of his "Furioso," subject to the corrections and advice of his visitors.
The ancestral house of the Ariosti has been within a few years restored out of all memory and semblance of itself; and my wish to see the place in which the poet was born and spent his childhood resulted, after infinite search, in finding a building faced newly with stucco and newly French-windowed.
Our portier said it was the work of the late English Vice-Consul, who had bought the house. When I complained of the sacrilege, he said: "Yes, it is true. But then, you must know, the Ariosti were not one of the noble families of Ferrara."
The castle of the Dukes of Ferrara, about which cluster so many sad and splendid memories, stands in the heart of the city. I think that the moonlight which, on the night of our arrival, showed me its massive walls rising from the shadowy moat that surrounds them, and its four great towers, heavily buttressed, and expanding at the top into bulging cornices of cavernous brickwork, could have fallen on nothing else in all Italy so picturesque, and so full of the proper dread charm of feudal times, as this pile of gloomy and majestic strength. The daylight took nothing of this charm from it; for the castle stands isolated in the midst of the city, as its founder meant that it should [The castle of Ferrara was begun in 1385 by Niccolo d'Este to defend himself against the repetition of scenes of tumult, in which his princely rights were invaded. One of his tax-gatherers, Tommaso da Tortona, had, a short time before, made himself so obnoxious to the people by his insolence and severity, that they rose against him and demanded his life. He took refuge in the palace of his master, which was immediately assailed. The prince's own life was threatened, and he was forced to surrender the fugitive to the people, who tore Tortona limb from limb, and then, after parading the city with the mutilated remains, quietly returned to their allegiance. Niccolo, therefore, caused this castle to be built, which he strengthened with massive walls and towers commanding the whole city, and rendered inaccessible by surrounding it with a deep and wide canal from the river Reno.], and modern civilization has not crossed the castle moat, to undignify its exterior with any visible touch of the present. To be sure, when you enter it, the magnificent life is gone out of the old edifice; it is no stately halberdier who stands on guard at the gate of the drawbridge, but a stumpy Italian soldier in baggy trousers. The castle is full of public offices, and one sees in its courts and on its stairways, not brilliant men-at-arms, nor gay squires and pages, but whistling messengers going from one office to another with docketed papers, and slipshod serving-men carrying the clerks their coffee in very dirty little pots. Dreary-looking suitors, slowly grinding through the mills of law, or passing in the routine of the offices, are the guests encountered in the corridors; and all that bright-colored throng of the old days, ladies and lords, is passed from the scene. The melodrama is over, friends, and now we have a play of real life, founded on fact and inculcating a moral.
Of course the custodians were slow to admit any change of this kind. If you could have believed them,—and the poor people told as many lies as they could to make you,—you would believe that nothing had ever happened of a commonplace nature in this castle. The taking-off of Hugo and Parisina they think the great merit of the castle; and one of them, seeing us, made haste to light his taper and conduct us down to the dungeons where those unhappy lovers were imprisoned. It is the misfortune of memorable dungeons to acquire, when put upon show, just the reverse of those properties which should raise horror and distress in the mind of the beholder. It was impossible to deny that the cells of Parisina and of Hugo were both singularly warm, dry, and comfortable; and we, who had never been imprisoned in them, found it hard to command, for our sensation, the terror and agony of the miserable ones who suffered there. We, happy and secure in these dungeons, could not think of the guilty and wretched pair bowing themselves to the headsman's stroke in the gloomy chamber under the Hall of Aurora; nor of the Marquis, in his night-long walk, breaking at last into frantic remorse and tears to know that his will had been accomplished. Nay, there upon its very scene, the whole tragedy faded from us; and, seeing our wonder so cold, the custodian tried to kindle it by saying that in the time of the event these cells were much dreadfuller than now, which was no doubt true. The floors of the dungeons are both below the level of the moat, and the narrow windows, or rather crevices to admit the light, were cut in the prodigiously thick wall just above the water, and were defended with four successive iron gratings. The dungeons are some distance apart: that of Hugo was separated from the outer wall of the castle by a narrow passage-way, while Parisina's window opened directly upon the moat.
When we ascended again to the court of the castle, the custodian, abetted by his wife, would have interested us in two memorable wells there, between which, he said, Hugo was beheaded; and unabashed by the small success of this fable, he pointed out two windows in converging angles overhead, from one of which the Marquis, looking into the other, discovered the guilt of the lovers. The windows are now walled up, but are neatly represented to the credulous eye by a fresco of lattices.
Valery mentions another claim upon the interest of the tourist which this castle may make, in the fact that it once sheltered John Calvin, who was protected by the Marchioness Renee, wife of Hercules II.; and my Servitore di Piazza (the one who knows how to read and write) gives the following account of the matter, in speaking of the domestic chapel which Renee had built in the castle: "This lady was learned in belles-lettres and in the schismatic doctrines which at that time were insinuating themselves throughout France and Germany, and with which Calvin, Luther, and other proselytes, agitated the people, and threatened war to the Catholic religion. Nationally fond of innovation, and averse to the court of Rome on account of the dissensions between her father and Pope Julius II., Renee began to receive the teachings of Calvin, with whom she maintained correspondence. Indeed, Calvin himself, under the name of Huppeville, visited her in Ferrara, in 1536, and ended by corrupting her mind and seducing her into his own errors, which produced discord between her and her religious husband, and resulted in his placing her in temporary seclusion, in order to attempt her conversion. Hence, the chapel is faced with marble, paneled in relief, and studied to avoid giving place to saints or images, which were disapproved by the almost Anabaptist doctrines of Calvin, then fatally imbibed by the princess."
We would willingly, as Protestants, have visited this wicked chapel; but we were prevented from seeing it, as well as the famous frescoes of Dosso Dossi in the Hall of Aurora, by the fact that the prefect was giving a little dinner (pranzetto) in that part of the castle. We were not so greatly disappointed in reality as we made believe; but our servitore di piazza (the unlettered one) was almost moved to lesa maesta with vexation. He had been full of scorching patriotism the whole morning; but now electing the unhappy and apologetic custodian representative of Piedmontese tyranny, he bitterly assailed the government of the king. In the times of His Holiness the Legates had made it their pleasure and duty to show the whole castle to strangers. But now strangers must be sent away without seeing its chief beauties, because, forsooth, the prefect was giving a little dinner. Presence of the Devil!
In our visits to the different churches in Ferrara we noticed devotion in classes of people who are devout nowhere else in Italy. Not only came solid-looking business men to say their prayers, but gay young dandies, who knelt and repeated their orisons and then rose and went seriously out. In Venice they would have posted themselves against a pillar, sucked the heads of their sticks, and made eyes at the young ladies kneeling near them. This degree of religion was all the more remarkable in Ferrara, because that city had been so many years under the Pope, and His Holiness contrives commonly to prevent the appearance of religion in young men throughout his dominions.
Valery speaks of the delightful society which he met in the gray old town; and it is said that Ferrara has an unusual share of culture in her wealthy class, which is large. With such memories of learning and literary splendor as belong to her, it would be strange if she did not in some form keep alive the sacred flame. But, though there may be refinement and erudition in Ferrara, she has given no great name to modern Italian literature. Her men of letters seem to be of that race of grubs singularly abundant in Italy,—men who dig out of archives and libraries some topic of special and momentary interest and print it, unstudied and unphilosophized. Their books are material, not literature, and it is marvelous how many of them are published. A writer on any given subject can heap together from them a mass of fact and anecdote invaluable in its way; but it is a mass without life or light, and must be vivified by him who uses it before it can serve the world, which does not care for its dead local value. It remains to be seen whether the free speech and free press of Italy can reawaken the intellectual activity of the cities which once gave the land so many literary capitals.
What numbers of people used to write verses in Ferrara! By operation of the principle which causes things concerning whatever subject you happen to be interested in to turn up in every direction, I found a volume of these dead-and-gone immortals at a book-stall, one day, in Venice. It is a curiously yellow and uncomfortable volume of the year 1703, printed all in italics. I suppose there are two hundred odd rhymers selected from in that book,—and how droll the most of them are, with their unmistakable traces of descent from Ariosto, Tasso, and Guarini! What acres of enameled meadow there are in those pages! Brooks enough to turn all the mills in the world go purling through them. I should say some thousands of nymphs are constantly engaged in weaving garlands there, and the swains keep such a piping on those familiar notes,—Amore, dolore, crudele, and miele. Poor little poets! they knew no other tunes. Do not now weak voices twitter from a hundred books, in unconscious imitation of the hour's great singers?
I think some of the pleasantest people in Italy are the army gentlemen. There is the race's gentleness in their ways, in spite of their ferocious trade, and an American freedom of style. They brag in a manner that makes one feel at home immediately; and met in travel, they are ready to render any little kindness.
The other year at Reggio (which is not far from Modena) we stopped to dine at a restaurant where the whole garrison had its coat off and was playing billiards, with the exception of one or two officers, who were dining. These rose and bowed as we entered their room, and when the waiter pretended that such and such dishes were out (in Italy the waiter, for some mysterious reason, always pretends that the best dishes are out), they bullied him for the honor of Italy, and made him bring them to us. Indeed, I am afraid his life was sadly harassed by those brave men. We were in deep despair at finding no French bread, and the waiter swore with the utmost pathos that there was none; but as soon as his back was turned, a tightly laced little captain rose and began to forage for the bread. He opened every drawer and cupboard in the room, and finding none, invaded another room, captured several loaves from the plates laid there, and brought them back in triumph, presenting them to us amid the applause of his comrades. The dismay of the waiter, on his return, was ineffable.
Three officers, who dined with us at the table d'hote of the Stella d'Oro in Ferrara (and excellent dinners were those we ate there), were visibly anxious to address us, and began not uncivilly, but still in order that we should hear, to speculate on our nationality among themselves. It appeared that we were Germans; for one of these officers, who had formerly been in the Austrian service at Vienna, recognized the word bitter in our remarks on the beccafichi. As I did not care to put these fine fellows to the trouble of hating us for others' faults, I made bold to say that we were not Germans, and to add that bitter was also an English word. Ah! yes, to be sure, one of them admitted; when he was with the Sardinian army in the Crimea, he had frequently heard the word used by the English soldiers. He nodded confirmation of what he said to his comrades, and then was good enough to display what English he knew. It was barely sufficient to impress his comrades; but it led the way to a good deal of talk in Italian.
"I suppose you gentlemen are all Piedmontese?" I said.
"Not at all," said our Crimean. "I am from Como; this gentleman, il signor Conte, (il signor Conte bowed,) is of Piacenza; and our friend across the table is Genoese. The army is doing a great deal to unify Italy. We are all Italians now, and you see we speak Italian, and not our dialects, together."
My cheap remark that it was a fine thing to see them all united under one flag, after so many ages of mutual hate and bloodshed, turned the talk upon the origin of the Italian flag; and that led our Crimean to ask what was the origin of the English colors.
"I scarcely know," I said. "We are Americans."
Our friends at once grew more cordial. "Oh, Americani!" They had great pleasure of it. Did we think Signor Leencolen would be reelected?
I supposed that he had been elected that day, I said.
Ah! this was the election day, then. Cospetto!
At this the Genoese frowned superior intelligence, and the Crimean gazing admiringly upon him, said he had been nine months at Nuova York, and that he had a brother living there. The poor Crimean boastfully added that he himself had a cousin in America, and that the Americans generally spoke Spanish. The count from Piacenza wore an air of pathetic discomfiture, and tried to invent a transatlantic relative, as I think, but failed.
I am persuaded that none of these warriors really had kinsmen in America, but that they all pretended to have them, out of politeness to us, and that they believed each other. It was very kind of them, and we were so grateful that we put no embarrassing questions. Indeed, the conversation presently took another course, and grew to include the whole table.
There was an extremely pretty Italian present with her newly wedded husband, who turned out to be a retired officer. He fraternized at once with our soldiers, and when we left the table they all rose and made military obeisances. Having asked leave to light their cigars, they were smoking—the sweet young bride blowing a fairy cloud from her rosy lips with the rest. "Indeed," I heard an Italian lady once remark, "why should men pretend to deny us the privilege of smoking? It is so pleasant and innocent." It is but just to the Italians to say that they do not always deny it; and there is, without doubt, a certain grace and charm in a pretty fumatrice. I suppose it is a habit not so pleasing in an ugly or middle-aged woman.
THROUGH BOLOGNA TO GENOA.
We had intended to stay only one day at Ferrara, but just at that time the storms predicted on the Adriatic and Mediterranean coasts, by Mathieu de la Drome, had been raging all over Italy, and the railway communications were broken in every direction. The magnificent work through and under the Apennines, between Bologna and Florence, had been washed away by the mountain torrents in a dozen places, and the roads over the plains of the Romagna had been sapped by the flood, and rendered useless, where not actually laid under water.
On the day of our intended departure we left the hotel, with other travellers, gayly incredulous of the landlord's fear that no train would start for Bologna. At the station we found a crowd of people waiting and hoping, but there was a sickly cast of doubt in some faces, and the labeled employes of the railway wore looks of ominous importance. Of course the crowd did not lose its temper. It sought information of the officials running to and fro with telegrams, in a spirit of national sweetness, and consoled itself with saying, as Italy has said under all circumstances of difficulty for centuries: Ci vuol pazienza! At last a blank silence fell upon it, as the Capo-Stazione advanced toward a well-dressed man in the crowd, and spoke to him quietly. The well-dressed man lifted his forefinger and waved it back and forth before his face:—
The Well-dressed Man.—Dunque, non si parte piu? (No departures, then?)
The Capo-Stazione (waving his forefinger in like manner.)—Non si parte piu. (Like a mournful echo.)
We knew quite as well from this pantomime of negation as from the dialogue our sad fate, and submitted to it. Some adventurous spirit demanded whether any trains would go on the morrow. The Capo-Stazione, with an air of one who would not presume to fathom the designs of Providence, responded: "Who knows? To-day, certainly not. To-morrow, perhaps. But"—and vanished.
It may give an idea of the Italian way of doing things to say that, as we understood, this break in the line was only a few miles in extent, that trains could have approached both to and from Bologna, and that a little enterprise on the part of the company could have passed travellers from one side to the other with very small trouble or delay. But the railway company was as much daunted by the inundation as a peasant going to market, and for two months after the accident no trains carried passengers from one city to the other. No doubt, however, the line was under process of very solid repair meanwhile.
For the present the only means of getting to Bologna was by carriage on the old highway, and accordingly we took passage thither in the omnibus of the Stella d'Oro.
There was little to interest us in the country over which we rode. It is perfectly flat, and I suppose the reader knows what quantities of hemp and flax are raised there. The land seems poorer than in Lombardy, and the farm-houses and peasants' cottages are small and mean, though the peasants themselves, when we met them, looked well fed, and were certainly well clad. The landscape lay soaking in a dreary drizzle the whole way, and the town of Cento when we reached it, seemed miserably conscious of being too wet and dirty to go in-doors, and was loitering about in the rain. Our arrival gave the poor little place a sensation, for I think such a thing as an omnibus had not been seen there since the railway of Bologna and Ferrara was built. We went into the principal caffe to lunch,—a caffe much too large for Cento, with immense red-leather cushioned sofas, and a cold, forlorn air of half-starved gentility, a clean, high-roofed caffe and a breezy,—and thither the youthful nobility and gentry of the place followed us, and ordered a cup of coffee, that they might sit down and give us the pleasure of their distinguished company. They put on their very finest manners, and took their most captivating attitudes for the ladies' sake; and the gentlemen of our party fancied that it was for them these young men began to discuss the Roman question. How loud they were, and how earnest! And how often they consulted the newspapers of the caffe! (Older newspapers I never saw off a canal-boat.) I may tire some time of the artless vanity of the young Italians, so innocent, so amiable, so transparent, but I think I never shall.
The great painter Guercino was born at Cento, and they have a noble and beautiful statue of him in the piazza, which the town caused to be erected from contributions by all the citizens. Formerly his house was kept for a show to the public; it was full of the pictures of the painter and many mementos of him; but recently the paintings have been taken to the gallery, and the house is now closed. The gallery is, consequently, one of the richest second-rate galleries in Italy, and one may spend much longer time in it than we gave, with great profit. There are some most interesting heads of Christ, painted, as Guercino always painted the Saviour, with a great degree of humanity in the face. It is an excellent countenance, and full of sweet dignity, but quite different from the conventional face of Christ.
At night we were again in Bologna, of which we had not seen the gloomy arcades for two years. It must be a dreary town at all times: in a rain it is horrible; and I think the whole race of arcaded cities, Treviso, Padua, and Bologna, are dull, blind, and comfortless. The effect of the buildings vaulted above the sidewalks is that of a continuous cellarway; your view of the street is constantly interrupted by the heavy brick pillars that support the arches; the arcades are not even picturesque. Liking always to leave Bologna as quickly as possible, and, on this occasion, learning that there was no hope of crossing the Apennines to Florence, we made haste to take the first train for Genoa, meaning to proceed thence directly to Naples by steamer.
It was a motley company that sat down in Hotel Brun the morning after our arrival in Bologna to a breakfast of murky coffee and furry beefsteaks, associated with sleek, greasy, lukewarm fried potatoes. I am sure that if each of our weather-bound pilgrims had told his story, we had been as well entertained as those at Canterbury. However, no one thought fit to give his narrative but a garrulous old Hebrew from London, who told us how he had been made to pay fifteen guineas for a carriage to cross the Apennines, and had been obliged to walk part of the way at that price. He was evidently proud, now the money was gone, of having been cheated of so much; and in him we saw that there was at least one human being more odious than a purse-proud Englishman—namely, a purse-proud English Jew. He gave his noble name after a while, as something too precious to be kept from the company, when recommending one of the travellers to go to the Hotel d'Angleterre in Rome: "The best 'otel out of England. You may mention my name, if you like—Mr. Jonas." The recipient of this favor noted down the talismanic words in his pocket-book, and Mr. Jonas, conscious of having conferred a benefit on his race, became more odious to it than ever. An Englishman is of a composition so uncomfortably original that no one can copy him, though many may caricature. I saw an American in London once who thought himself an Englishman because he wore leg-of-mutton whiskers, declaimed against universal suffrage and republics, and had an appetite for high game. He was a hateful animal, surely, but he was not the British lion; and this poor Hebrew at Bologna was not a whit more successful in his imitation of the illustrious brute, though he talked, like him, of nothing but hotels, and routes of travel, and hackmen and porters, and seemed to have nothing to do in Italy but get through it as quickly and abusively as possible.
We were very glad, I say, to part from all this at Bologna and take the noon train for Genoa. In our car there were none but Italians, and the exchange of "La Perseveranza" of Milan for "Il Popolo" of Turin with one of them quickly opened the way for conversation and acquaintance. (En passant: I know of no journal in the United States whose articles are better than those of the "Perseveranza," and it was gratifying to an American to read in this ablest journal of Italy nothing but applause and encouragement of the national side in our late war.) My new-made friend turned out to be a Milanese. He was a physician, and had served as a surgeon in the late war of Italian independence; but was now placed in a hospital in Milan. There was a gentle little blonde with him, and at Piacenza, where we stopped for lunch, "You see," said he, indicating the lady, "we are newly married,"—which was, indeed, plain enough to any one who looked at their joyous faces, and observed how great disposition that little blonde had to nestle on the young man's broad shoulder. "I have a week's leave from my place," he went on, "and this is our wedding journey. We were to have gone to Florence, but it seems we are fated not to see that famous city."
He spoke of it as immensely far off, and herein greatly amused us Americans, who had outgrown distances.
"So we are going to Genoa instead, for two or three days." "Oh, have you ever been at Genoa?" broke in the bride. "What magnificent palaces! And then the bay, and the villas in the environs! There is the Villa Pallavicini, with beautiful gardens, where an artificial shower breaks out from the bushes, and sprinkles the people who pass. Such fun!" and she continued to describe vividly a city of which she had only heard from her husband; and it was easy to see that she walked in paradise wherever he led her.
They say that Italian husbands and wives do not long remain fond of each other, but it was impossible in the presence of these happy people not to believe in the eternity of their love, and it was hard to keep from "dropping into poetry" on account of them. Their bliss infected every body in the car, and in spite of the weariness of our journey, and the vexation of the misadventures which had succeeded one another unsparingly ever since we left home, we found ourselves far on the way to Genoa before we thought to grumble at the distance. There was with us, besides the bridal party, a lady travelling from Bologna to Turin, who had learned English in London, and spoke it much better than most Londoners. It is surprising how thoroughly Italians master a language so alien to their own as ours, and how frequently you find them acquainted with English. From Russia the mania for this tongue has spread all over the Continent, and in Italy English seems to be prized first among the virtues.
As we drew near Genoa, the moon came out on purpose to show us the superb city, and we strove eagerly for a first glimpse of the proud capital where Columbus was born. To tell the truth, the glimpse was but slight and false, for railways always enter cities by some mean level, from which any picturesque view is impossible.
Near the station in Genoa, however, is the weak and ugly monument which the municipality has lately raised to Columbus. The moon made the best of this, which stands in a wide open space, and contrived, with an Italian skill in the arrangement of light, to produce an effect of undeniable splendor. On the morrow, we found out by the careless candor of the daylight what a uselessly big head Columbus had, and how the sculptor had not very happily thought proper to represent him with his sea-legs on.
UP AND DOWN GENOA.
I had my note-book with me on this journey, and pledged myself to make notes in it. And, indeed, I did really do something of the kind, though the result of my labors is by no means so voluminous as I would like it to be, now when the work of wishing there were more notes is so easy. We spent but one day in Genoa, and I find such a marvelous succinct record of this in my book that I am tempted to give it here, after the fashion of that Historical Heavyweight who writes the Life of "Frederick the Great."
"Genoa, November 13.—Breakfast a la fourchette excellently and cheaply. I buy a hat. We go to seek the Consul, and, after finding every thing else for two hours, find him. Genoa is the most magnificent city I ever saw; and the new monument to Columbus about the weakest possible monument. Walk through the city with Consul; Doge's palace; cathedral; girl turning somersaults in the street; blind madman on the cathedral steps. We leave for Naples at twelve midnight."
As for the breakfast, it was eaten at one of the many good caffe in Genoa, and perhaps some statistician will like to know that for a beefsteak and potatoes, with a half-bottle of Ligurian wine, we paid a franc. For this money we had also the society of an unoccupied waiter, who leaned against a marble column and looked on, with that gentle, half-compassionate interest in our appetites, which seems native to the tribe of waiters. A slight dash of surprise is in this professional manner; and there is a faint smile on the solemn, professional countenance, which is perhaps prompted by too intimate knowledge of the mysteries of the kitchen and the habits of the cook. The man who passes his life among beefsteaks cannot be expected to love them, or to regard without wonder the avidity with which others devour them. I imagine that service in restaurants must beget simple and natural tastes in eating, and that the jaded men who minister there to our pampered appetites demand only for themselves—
"A scrip with herbs and fruits supplied, And water from the spring."
Turning from this thought to the purchase of my hat, I do not believe that literary art can interest the reader in that purely personal transaction, though I have no doubt that a great deal might be said about buying hats as a principle. I prefer, therefore, to pass to our search for the Consul.
A former Consul at ——, whom I know, has told me a good many stories about the pieces of popular mind which he received at different times from the travelling public, in reproof of his difficulty of discovery; and I think it must be one of the most jealously guarded rights of American citizens in foreign lands to declare the national representative hard to find, if there is no other complaint to lodge against him. It seems to be, in peculiar degree, a quality of consulship at ——, to be found remote and inaccessible. My friend says that even at New York, before setting out for his post, when inquiring into the history of his predecessors, he heard that they were one and all hard to find; and he relates that on the steamer, going over, there was a low fellow who set the table in a roar by a vulgar anecdote to this effect:—
"There was once a consul at ——, who indicated his office-hours by the legend on his door, 'In from ten to one.' An old ship-captain, who kept coming for about a week without finding the Consul, at last furiously wrote, in the terms of wager, under this legend, 'Ten to one you're out!'"
My friend also states that one day a visitor of his remarked: "I'm rather surprised to find you in. As a general rule, I never do find consuls in." Habitually, his fellow-countrymen entertained him with accounts of their misadventures in reaching him. It was useless to represent to them that his house was in the most convenient locality in ——, where, indeed, no stranger can walk twenty rods from his hotel without losing himself; that their guide was an ass, or their courier a rogue. They listened to him politely, but they never pardoned him in the least; and neither will I forgive the Consul at Genoa. I had no earthly consular business with him, but a private favor to ask. It was Sunday, and I could not reasonably expect to find him at his office, or any body to tell me where he lived; but I have seldom had so keen a sense of personal wrong and national neglect as in my search for that Consul's house.
In Italy there is no species of fact with which any human being you meet will not pretend to have perfect acquaintance, and, of course, the driver whose fiacre we took professed himself a complete guide to the Consul's whereabouts, and took us successively to the residences of the consuls of all the South American republics. It occurred to me that it might be well to inquire of these officials where their colleague was to be found; but it is true that not one consul of them was at home! Their doors were opened by vacant old women, in whom a vague intelligence feebly guttered, like the wick of an expiring candle, and who, after feigning to throw floods of light on the object of my search, successively flickered out, and left me in total darkness.
Till that day, I never knew of what lofty flights stairs were capable. As out-of-doors, in Genoa, it is either all up or down hill, so in-doors it is either all up or down stairs. Ascending and descending, in one palace after another, those infinite marble steps, it became a question not solved to this hour, whether it was worse to ascend or descend,—each ordeal in its turn seemed so much more terrible than the other.
At last I resolved to come to an understanding with the driver, and I spent what little breath I had left—it was dry and hot as the simoom—in blowing up that infamous man. "You are a great driver," I said, "not to know your own city. What are you good for if you can't take a foreigner to his consul's?" "Signore," answered the driver patiently, "you would have to get a book in two volumes by heart, in order to be able to find everybody in Genoa. This city is a labyrinth."
Truly, it had so proved, and I could scarcely believe in my good luck when I actually found my friend, and set out with him on a ramble through its toils.
A very great number of the streets in Genoa are footways merely, and these are as narrow, as dark, as full of jutting chimney-places, balconies, and opened window-shutters, and as picturesque as the little alleys in Venice. They wander at will around the bases of the gloomy old stone palaces, and seem to have a vagabond fondness for creeping down to the port, and losing themselves there in a certain cavernous arcade which curves round the water with the flection of the shore, and makes itself a twilight at noonday. Under it are clangorous shops of iron-smiths, and sizzling shops of marine cooks, and, looking down its dim perspective, one beholds chiefly sea-legs coming and going, more or less affected by strong waters; and as the faces to which these sea-legs belong draw near, one discerns sailors from all parts of the world,—tawny men from Sicily and Norway, as diverse in their tawniness as olive and train-oil; sharp faces from Nantucket and from the Piraeus, likewise mightily different in their sharpness; blonde Germans and blonde Englishmen; and now and then a colored brother also in the seafaring line, with sea-legs, also, more or less affected by strong waters like the rest.
What curious people are these seafarers! They coast the whole world, and know nothing of it, being more ignorant and helpless than children on shore. I spoke with the Yankee mate of a ship one day at Venice, and asked him how he liked the city.
Well, he had not been ashore yet.
He was told he had better go ashore; that the Piazza San Marco was worth seeing.
Well, he knew it; he had seen pictures of it; but he guessed he wouldn't go ashore.
Why not, now he was here?
Well, he laid out to go ashore the next time he came to Venice.
And so, bless his honest soul, he lay three weeks at Venice with his ship, after a voyage of two months, and he sailed away without ever setting his foot on that enchanted ground.
I should have liked to stop some of those seafarers and ask them what they thought of Genoa.
It must have been in the little streets—impassable for horses—that the people sat and talked, as Heine fabled, in their doorways, and touched knees with the people sitting and talking on the thresholds of the opposite side. But we saw no gossipers there on our Sunday in Genoa; and I think the domestic race of Heine's day no longer lives in Genoa, for every body we saw on the streets was gayly dressed in the idea of the last fashions, and was to be met chiefly in the public promenades. The fashions were French; but here still lingers the lovely phantom of the old national costume of Genoa, and snow-white veils fluttered from many a dark head, and caressed many an olive cheek. It is the kindest and charitablest of attirements, this white veil, and, while decking beauty to the most perilous effect, befriends and modifies age and ugliness.
The pleasure with which I look at the splendor of an Italian crowd in winter is always touched with melancholy. I know that, at the time of its noonday promenade, it has nothing but a cup of coffee in its stomach; that it has emerged from a house as cold and dim as a cellar; and that it will presently go home to dine on rice and boiled beef. I know that chilblains secretly gnaw the hands inside of its kid gloves, and I see in the rawness of its faces the anguish of winter-long suffering from cold. But I also look at many in this crowd with the eye of the economist, and wonder how people practicing even so great self-denial as they can contrive to make so much display on their little means,—how those clerks of public offices, who have rarely an income of five hundred dollars a year, can dress with such peerless gorgeousness. I suppose the national instinct teaches them ways and means unknown to us. The passion for dress is universal: the men are as fond of it as the women; and, happily, clothes are comparatively cheap. It is no great harm in itself, this display: it is only a pity that there is often nothing, or worse than nothing, under the shining surface.
We walked with the brilliant Genoese crowd upon the hill where the public promenade overlooks a landscape of city and country, houses and gardens, vines and olives, which it makes the heart ache to behold, it is so faultlessly beautiful. Behind us the fountain was—
"Shaking its loosened silver in the sun;"
the birds were singing; and there were innumerable fair girls going by, about whom one might have made romances if one had not known better. Our friend pointed out to us the "pink jail" in which Dickens lived while at Genoa; and showed us on the brow of a distant upland the villa, called Il Paradiso, which Byron had occupied. I dare say this Genoese joke is already in print: That the Devil reentered Paradise when Byron took this villa. Though, in loveliest Italy, one is half-persuaded that the Devil had never left Paradise.
After lingering a little longer on that delicious height, we turned and went down for a stroll through the city.
My note-book says that Genoa is the most magnificent city I ever saw, and I hold by my note-book, though I hardly know how to prove it. Venice is, and remains, the most beautiful city in the world; but her ancient rival impresses you with greater splendor. I suppose that the exclusively Renaissance architecture, which Ruskin declares the architecture of pride, lends itself powerfully to this effect in Genoa. It is here in its best mood, and there is little grotesque Renaissance to be seen, though the palaces are, as usual, loaded with ornament. The Via Nuova is the chief thoroughfare of the city, and the crowd pours through this avenue between long lines of palaces. Height on height rise the stately, sculptured facades, colonnaded, statued, pierced by mighty doorways and lofty windows; and the palaces seem to gain a kind of aristocratic hauteur from the fact that there are for the most part no sidewalks, and that the carriages, rolling insolently through the crowd, threaten constantly to grind the pedestrian up against their carven marbles, and immolate him to their stony pride. There is something gracious and gentle in the grandeur of Venice, and much that the heart loves to cling to; but in Genoa no sense of kindliness is touched by the magnificence of the city.
It was an unspeakable relief, after such a street, to come, on a sudden, upon the Duomo, one of the few Gothic buildings in Genoa, and rest our jaded eyes on that architecture which Heaven seems truly to have put into the thoughts of man together with the Christian faith. O beloved beauty of aspiring arches, of slender and clustered columns, of flowering capitals and window-traceries, of many-carven breadths and heights, wherein all Nature breathes and blossoms again! There is neither Greek perfection, nor winning Byzantine languor, nor insolent Renaissance opulence, which may compare with this loveliness of yours! Alas that the interior of this Gothic temple of Genoa should abound in the abomination of rococo restoration! They say that the dust of St. John the Baptist lies there within a costly shrine; and I wonder that it can sleep in peace amid all that heathenish show of bad taste. But the poor saints have to suffer a great deal in Italy.
Outside, in the piazza before the church, there was an idle, cruel crowd, amusing itself with the efforts of a blind old man to find the entrance. He had a number of books which he desperately laid down while he ran his helpless hands over the clustered columns, and which he then desperately caught up again, in fear of losing them. At other times he paused, and wildly clasped his hands upon his eyes, or wildly threw up his arms; and then began to run to and fro again uneasily, while the crowd laughed and jeered. Doubtless a taint of madness afflicted him; but not the less he seemed the type of a blind soul that gropes darkly about through life, to find the doorway of some divine truth or beauty,—touched by the heavenly harmonies from within, and miserably failing, amid the scornful cries and bitter glee of those who have no will but to mock aspiration.
The girl turning somersaults in another place had far more popular sympathy than the blind madman at the temple door, but she was hardly a more cheerful spectacle. For all her festive spangles and fairy-like brevity of skirts, she had quite a work-a-day look upon her honest, blood-red face, as if this were business though it looked like sport, and her part of the diversion were as practical as that of the famous captain of the waiters, who gave the act of peeling a sack of potatoes a playful effect by standing on his head. The poor damsel was going over and over, to the sound of most dismal drumming and braying, in front of the immense old palace of the Genoese Doges,—a classic building, stilted on a rustic base, and quite worthy of Palladio, if any body thinks that is praise.
There was little left of our day when we had dined; but having seen the outside of Genoa, and not hoping to see the inside, we found even this little heavy on our hands, and were glad as the hour drew near when we were to take the steamer for Naples.
It had been one of the noisiest days spent during several years in clamorous Italy, whose voiceful uproar strikes to the summits of her guardian Alps, and greets the coming stranger, and whose loud Addio would stun him at parting, if he had not meanwhile become habituated to the operatic pitch of her every-day tones. In Genoa, the hotels, taking counsel of the vagabond streets, stand about the cavernous arcade already mentioned, and all the noise of the shipping reaches their guests. We rose early that Sunday morning to the sound of a fleet unloading cargoes of wrought-iron, and of the hard swearing of all nations of seafaring men. The whole day long the tumult followed us, and seemed to culminate at last in the screams of a parrot, who thought it fine to cry, "Piove! piove! piove!"—"It rains! it rains! it rains!"—and had, no doubt, a secret interest in some umbrella-shop. This unprincipled bird dwelt somewhere in the neighborhood of the street where you see the awful tablet in the wall devoting to infamy the citizens of the old republic that were false to their country. The sight of that pitiless stone recalls with a thrill the picturesque, unhappy past, with all the wandering, half-benighted efforts of the people to rend their liberty from now a foreign and now a native lord. At best, they only knew how to avenge their wrongs; but now, let us hope, they have learnt, with all Italy, to prevent them. The will was never wanting of old to the Ligurian race, and in this time they have done their full share to establish Italian freedom.
I do not know why it should have been so surprising to hear the boatman who rowed us to the steamer's anchorage speak English; but, after his harsh Genoese profanity in getting his boat into open water, it was the last thing we expected from him. It had somehow the effect of a furious beast addressing you in your native tongue, and telling you it was "Wary poordy wedder;" and it made us cling to his good-nature with the trembling solicitude of Little Red-Riding-Hood, when she begins to have the first faint suspicions of her grandmother. However, our boatman was no wild beast, but took our six cents of buonamano with the base servility of a Christian man, when he had put our luggage in the cabin of the steamer. I wonder how he should have known us for Americans? He did so know us, and said he had been at New York in better days, when he voyaged upon higher seas than those he now navigated.
On board, we watched with compassion an old gentleman in the cabin making a hearty meal of sardines and fruit-pie, and I asked him if he had ever been at sea. No, he said. I could have wept over that innocent old gentleman's childlike confidence of appetite, and guileless trust of the deep.
We went on deck, where one of the gentle beings of our party declared that she would remain as long as Genoa was in sight; and to tell the truth, the scene was worthy of the promised devotion. There, in a half-circle before us, blazed the lights of the quay; above these twinkled the lamps of the steep streets and climbing palaces; over and behind all hung the darkness on the heights,—a sable cloud dotted with ruddy points of flame burning in the windows of invisible houses.
"Merrily did we drop"
down the bay, and presently caught the heavy swell of the open sea. The other gentle being of our party then clutched my shoulder with a dreadful shudder, and after gasping, "O Mr. Scribbler, why will the ship roll so?" was meekly hurried below by her sister, who did not return for a last glimpse of Genoa the Proud.
In a moment heaven's sweet pity flapped away as with the sea-gull's wings, and I too felt that there was no help for it, and that I must go and lie down in the cabin. With anguished eyes I beheld upon the shelf opposite to mine the innocent old gentleman who had lately supped so confidently on sardines and fruit-pie. He lay upon his back, groaning softly to himself.
BY SEA FROM GENOA TO NAPLES.
Like the Englishman who had no prejudices, I do hate a Frenchman; and there were many Frenchmen among our passengers on the Messina, in whose company I could hardly have been happy, had I not seen them horribly sea-sick. After the imprudent old gentleman of the sardines and fruit-pie, these wretched Gauls were the first to be seized with the malady, which became epidemic, and were miserable up to the last moment on board. To the enormity of having been born Frenchmen, they added the crime of being commercial travellers,—a class of fellow-men of whom we know little at home, but who are met everywhere in European travel. They spend more than half their lives in movement from place to place, and they learn to snatch from every kind of travel its meagre comforts, with an insolent disregard of the rights and feelings of other passengers. They excuse an abominable trespass with a cool "Pardon!" take the best seat everywhere, and especially treat women with a savage rudeness, to which an American vainly endeavors to accustom his temper. I have seen commercial travellers of all nations, and I think I must award the French nation the discredit of producing the most odious commercial travellers in the world. The Englishman of this species wraps himself in his rugs, and rolls into his corner, defiantly, but not aggressively, boorish; the Italian is almost a gentleman; the German is apt to take sausage out of a newspaper and eat it with his penknife; the Frenchman aggravates human nature beyond endurance by his restless ill-breeding, and his evident intention not only to keep all his own advantages, but to steal some of yours upon the first occasion. There were three of these monsters on our steamer: one a slight, bloodless young man, with pale blue eyes and an incredulous grin; another, a gigantic full-bearded animal in spectacles; the third an infamous plump little creature, in absurdly tight pantaloons, with a cast in his eye, and a habit of sucking his teeth at table. When this wretch was not writhing in the agonies of sea-sickness, he was on deck with his comrades, lecturing them upon various things, to which the bloodless young man listened with his incredulous grin, and the bearded giant in spectacles attended with a choked look about the eyes, like a suffering ox. They were constantly staggering in and out of their state-room, which, for my sins, was also mine; and opening their abominable commodious travelling bags, or brushing their shaggy heads at the reeling mirror, and since they were born into the world, I think they had never cleaned their finger-nails. They wore their hats at dinner, but always went away, after soup, deadly pale.
In contrast with these cattle, what polished and courtly gentlemen were the sailors and firemen! As for our captain, he would in any company have won notice for his gentle and high-bred way; in his place at the head of the table among these Frenchmen, he seemed to me the finest gentleman I had ever seen. He had spent his whole life at sea, and had voyaged in all parts of the world except Japan, where he meant some day, he said, to go. He had been first a cabin-boy on a little Genoese schooner, and he had gradually risen to the first place on a sailing-vessel, and now he had been selected to fill a commander's post on this line of steamers. (It is an admirable line of boats, not belonging I believe to the Italian government, but much under its control, leaving Genoa every day for Leghorn, Naples, Palermo, and Ancona, on the Adriatic coast.) The captain had sailed a good deal in American waters, but chiefly on the Pacific coast, trading from the Spanish republican ports to those of California. He had been in that State during its effervescent days, when every thing foul floated to the top, and I am afraid he formed there but a bad opinion of our people, though he was far too courteous to say outright any thing of this sort.
He had very fine, shrewd blue eyes, a lean, weather-beaten, kindly face, and a cautious way of saying things. I hardly expected him to turn out so red-hot a Democrat as he did on better acquaintance, but being a warm friend of man myself, I was not sorry. Garibaldi was the beginning and ending of his political faith, as he is with every enthusiastic Italian. The honest soul's conception of all concrete evil was brought forth in two words, of odd enough application. In Europe, and Italy more particularly, true men have suffered chiefly from this form of evil, and the captain evidently could conceive of no other cause of suffering anywhere. We were talking of the American war, and when the captain had asked the usual question, "Quando finira mai questa guerra?" and I had responded as usual, "Ah, ci vuol pazienza!" the captain gave a heavy sigh, and turning his head pensively aside, plucked his grapes from the cluster a moment in silence.
Then he said: "You Americans are in the habit of attributing this war to slavery. The cause is not sufficient."
I ventured to demur and explain. "No," said the captain, "the cause is not sufficient. We Italians know the only cause which could produce a war like this."
I was naturally anxious to be instructed in the Italian theory, hoping it might be profounder than the English notion that we were fighting about tariffs.
The captain frowned, looked at me carefully, and then said:—
"In this world there is but one cause of mischief—the Jesuits."
The first night out, from Genoa to Leghorn, was bad enough, but that which succeeded our departure from the latter port was by far the worst of the three we spent in our voyage to Naples. How we envied the happy people who went ashore at Leghorn! I think we even envied the bones of the Venetians, Pisans, and Genoese who met and slew each other in the long-forgotten sea-fights, and sank too deeply through the waves to be stirred by their restless tumult. Every one has heard tell of how cross and treacherous a sea the Mediterranean is in winter, and my own belief is, that he who has merely been sea-sick on the Atlantic should give the Mediterranean a trial before professing to have suffered every thing of which human nature is capable. Our steamer was clean enough and staunch enough, but she was not large—no bigger, I thought, than a gondola, that night as the waves tossed her to and fro, till unwinged things took flight all through her cabins and over her decks. My berth was placed transversely instead of lengthwise with the boat,—an ingenious arrangement to heighten sea-sick horrors, and dash the blood of the sufferer from brain to boots with exaggerated violence at each roll of the boat; and I begged the steward to let me sleep upon one of the lockers in the cabin. I found many of my agonized species already laid out there; and the misery of the three French commercial travellers was so great, that, in the excess of my own dolor, it actually afforded me a kind of happiness, and I found myself smiling at times to see the giant, with the eyes of a choked ox, rise up and faintly bellow. Indeed, there was something eldritch and unearthly in the whole business, and I think a kind of delirium must have resulted from the sea-sickness. Otherwise, I shall not know how to account for having attributed a kind of consciousness and individuality to the guide-book of a young American who had come aboard at Leghorn. He turned out afterward to be the sweetest soul in the world, and I am sorry now that I regarded with amusement his failure to smoke off his sickness. He was reading his guide-book with great diligence and unconcern, when suddenly I marked him lay it softly, softly down, with that excessive deliberation which men use at such times, and vanish with great dignity from the scene. Thus abandoned to its own devices, this guide-book began its night-long riots, setting out upon a tour of the cabin with the first lurch of the boat that threw it from the table upon the floor. I heard it careen at once wildly to the cabin door, and knock to get out; and failing in this, return more deliberately to the stern of the boat, interrogating the tables and chairs, which had got their sea-legs on, and asking them how they found themselves. Arrived again at the point of starting, it seemed to pause a moment, and then I saw it setting forth on a voyage of pleasure in the low company of a French hat, which, being itself a French book, I suppose it liked. In these travels they both ran under the feet of one of the stewards and were replaced by an immense tour de force on the table, from which the book eloped again,—this time in company with an overcoat; but it seemed the coat was too miserable to go far: it stretched itself at full length on the floor, and suffered the book to dance over it, back and forth, I know not how many times. At last, as the actions of the book were becoming unendurable, and the general sea-sickness was waxing into a frenzy, a heavy roll, that made the whole ship shriek and tremble, threw us all from our lockers; and gathering myself up, bruised and sore in every fibre, I lay down again and became sensible of a blissful, blissful lull; the machinery had stopped, and with the mute hope that we were all going to the bottom, I fell tranquilly asleep.
It appeared that the storm had really been dangerous. Instead of being only six hours from Naples, as we ought to be at this time, we were got no further than Porto Longone, in the Isle of Elba. We woke in a quiet, sheltered little bay, whence we could only behold, not feel, the storm left far out upon the open sea. From this we turned our heavy eyes gladly to the shore, where a white little town was settled, like a flight of gulls upon the beach, at the feet of green and pleasant hills, whose gentle lines rhymed softly away against the sky. At the end of either arm of the embracing land in which we lay, stood gray, placid old forts, with peaceful sentries pacing their bastions, and weary ships creeping round their feet, under guns looking out so kindly and harmlessly, that I think General —— himself would not have hesitated (except, perhaps, from a profound sentiment of regret for offering the violence) to attack them. Our port was full of frightened shipping—steamers, brigs, and schooners—of all sizes and nations; and since it was our misfortune that Napoleon spent his exile in Elba at Porto Ferrato instead of Porto Longone, we amused ourselves with looking at the vessels and the white town and the soft hills, instead of hunting up dead lion's tracks.
Our fellow-passengers began to develop themselves: the regiment of soldiers whom we were transporting picturesquely breakfasted forward, and the second-cabin people came aft to our deck, while the English engineer (there are English engineers on all the Mediterranean steamers) planted a camp-stool in a sunny spot, and sat down to read the "Birmingham Express."
Our friends of the second cabin were chiefly officers with their wives and families, and they talked for the most part of their sufferings during the night. They spoke such exquisite Italian that I thought them Tuscans, but they told me they were of Sicily, where their beautiful speech first had life. Let us hear what they talked of in their divine language, and with that ineffable tonic accent which no foreigner perfectly acquires, and let us for once translate the profanities Pagan and Christian, which adorn common parlance in Italy:—
"Ah, my God! how much I suffered!" says a sweet little woman with gentle brown eyes, red, red lips, and blameless Greek lines of face. "I broke two basins!"
"There were ten broken in all, by Diana!" says this lady's sister.
"Presence of the Devil!" says her husband; and
"Body of Bacchus!" her young brother, puffing his cigar.
"And you, sir," said the lady, turning to a handsome young fellow in civil dress, near her, "how did you pass this horrible night?"
"Oh!" says the young man, twirling his heavy blond mustache, "mighty well, mighty well!"
"Oh mercy of God! You were not sick?"
"I, signora, am never sea-sick. I am of the navy."
At which they all cry oh, and ah, and declare they are glad of it, though why they should have been I don't know to this day.
"I have often wished," added the young man meditatively, and in a serious tone, as if he had indeed given the subject much thought, "that it might please God to let me be sea-sick once, if only that I might know how it feels. But no!" He turned the conversation, as if his disappointment were too sore to dwell upon; and hearing our English, he made out to let us know that he had been at New York, and could spik our language, which he proceeded to do, to the great pride of his countrymen, and our own astonishment at the remarkable forms of English speech to which he gave utterance.
We set out from Porto Longone that night at eight o'clock, and next evening, driving through much-abated storm southward into calm waters and clear skies, reached Naples. At noon, Monte Circeo where Circe led her disreputable life, was a majestic rock against blue heaven and broken clouds; after nightfall, and under the risen moon, Vesuvius crept softly up from the sea, and stood a graceful steep, with wreaths of lightest cloud upon its crest, and the city lamps circling far round its bay.
CERTAIN THINGS IN NAPLES.
Perhaps some reader of mine who visited Naples under the old disorder of things, when the Bourbon and the Camorra reigned, will like to hear that the pitched battle which travellers formerly fought, in landing from their steamer, is now gone out of fashion. Less truculent boatmen I never saw than those who rowed us ashore at Naples; they were so quiet and peaceful that they harmonized perfectly with that tranquil scene of drowsy-twinkling city lights, slumbrous mountains, and calm sea, and, as they dipped softly toward us in the glare of the steamer's lamps, I could only think of Tennyson's description:—
"And round about the keel with faces pale, Dark faces pale against the rosy flame, The mild-eyed melancholy lotus-eaters came."
The mystery of this placidity had been already solved by our captain, whom I had asked what price I should bargain to pay from the steamer to the shore. "There is a tariff," said he, "and the boatmen keep to it. The Neapolitans are good people, (buona gente,) and only needed justice to make them obedient to the laws." I must say that I found this to be true. The fares of all public conveyances are now fixed, and the attempts which drivers occasionally make to cheat you, seem to be rather the involuntary impulses of old habit than deliberate intentions to do you wrong. You pay what is due, and as your man merely rumbles internally when you turn away, you must be a very timid signorin, indeed, if you buy his content with any thing more. I fancy that all these things are now much better managed in Italy than in America, only we grumble at them there and stand them in silence at home. Every one can recall frightful instances of plunder, in which he was the victim, at New York—in which the robbery had none of the neatness of an operation, as it often has in Italy, but was a brutal mutilation. And then as regards civility from the same kind of people in the two countries, there is no comparison that holds in favor of us. All questions are readily and politely answered in Italian travel, and the servants of companies are required to be courteous to the public whereas, one is only too glad to receive a silent snub from such people at home.