WITH FAMOUS AUTHORS
SELECTED AND EDITED
WITH INTRODUCTIONS, ETC.
FRANCIS W. HALSEY
Editor of "Great Epochs in American History" Associate Editor of "The World's Famous Orations" and of "The Best of the World's Classics," etc.
ITALY, SICILY, AND GREECE
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY NEW YORK AND LONDON
COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY [Printed in the United States of America]
CONTENTS OF VOLUME VIII
Italy, Sicily, and Greece—Part Two
IV. THREE FAMOUS CITIES
IN THE STREETS OF GENOA—By Charles Dickens 1
MILAN CATHEDRAL—By Hippolyte Adolphe Taine 4
PISA'S FOUR GLORIES—By Hippolyte Adolphe Taine 7
THE WALLS AND "SKYSCRAPERS" OF PISA—By Janet Ross and Nelly Erichson 11
V. NAPLES AND ITS ENVIRONS
IN AND ABOUT NAPLES—By Charles Dickens 18
THE TOMB OF VIRGIL—By Augustus J. C. Hare 24
TWO ASCENTS OF VESUVIUS—By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 26
ANOTHER ASCENT—By Charles Dickens 31
CASTELLAMARE AND SORRENTO—By Hippolyte Adolphe Taine 37
CAPRI—By Augustus J. C. Hare 42
POMPEII—By Percy Bysshe Shelley 45
VI. OTHER ITALIAN SCENES
VERONA—By Charles Dickens 52
PADUA—By Theophile Gautier 55
FERRARA—By Theophile Gautier 59
LAKE LUGANO—By Victor Tissot 62
LAKE COMO—By Percy Bysshe Shelley 64
BELLAGIO ON LAKE COMO—By W. D. M'Crackan 66
THE REPUBLIC OF SAN MARINO—By Joseph Addison 69
PERUGIA—By Nathaniel Hawthorne 73
SIENA—-By Mr. and Mrs. Edwin H. Blashfield 75
THE ASSISSI OF ST. FRANCIS—By Hippolyte Adolphe Taine 78
RAVENNA—By Edward A. Freeman 80
BENEDICTINE SUBIACO—By Augustus J. C. Hare 83
ETRUSCAN VOLTERRA—By William Cullen Bryant 86
THE PAESTUM OF THE GREEKS—By Edward A. Freeman 88
VII. SICILIAN SCENES
PALERMO—By Will S. Monroe 91
GIRGENTI—By Edward A. Freeman 93
SEGESTE—By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 97
TAORMINA—By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 99
MOUNT AETNA—By Will S. Monroe 101
SYRACUSE—By Rufus B. Richardson 104
MALTA—By Theophile Gautier 107
VIII. THE MAINLAND OF GREECE
ARRIVING IN ATHENS—THE ACROPOLIS—By J. P. Mahaffy 112
A WINTER IN ATHENS HALF A CENTURY AGO—By Bayard Taylor 119
THE ACROPOLIS AS IT WAS—By Pausanias 122
THE ELGIN MARBLES—By J. P. Mahaffy 127
THE THEATER OF DIONYSUS—By J. P. Mahaffy 130
WHERE ST. PAUL PREACHED—By J. P. Mahaffy 134
FROM ATHENS TO DELPHI ON HORSEBACK—By Bayard Taylor 136
CORINTH—By J. P. Mahaffy 140
OLYMPIA—By Philip S. Marden 143
THE TEMPLE OF ZEUS AT OLYMPIA AS IT WAS—By Pausanias 146
THERMOPYLAE—By Rufus B. Richardson 152
SALONICA—By Charles Dudley Warner 155
FROM THE PIERIAN PLAIN TO MARATHON—By Charles Dudley Warner 157
SPARTA AND MAINA—By Bayard Taylor 160
MESSENIA—By Bayard Taylor 164
TIRYNS AND MYCENAE—By J. P. Mahaffy 169
IX. THE GREEK ISLANDS
A TOUR OF CRETE—By Bayard Taylor 175
THE COLOSSAL RUINS AT CNOSSOS—By Philip S. Marden 179
CORFU—By Edward A. Freeman 182
RHODES—By Charles Dudley Warner 185
MT. ATHOS—By Charles Dudley Warner 189
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PRECEDING PAGE 1
VENICE: SANTA MARIA DEL SALUTE
FEEDING THE DOVES IN FRONT OF ST. MARK'S
VENICE: STATUE OF COLLEONI
PALACE IN ST. MARK'S PLACE
GONDOLA ON THE GRAND CANAL
GENERAL VIEW OF FLORENCE
PALACE OF THE DUKES OF ESTE, FERRARA
TITIAN'S BIRTHPLACE AT CADORE
THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS
VERONA: TOMB OF THE SCALIGERS
BAPTISTERY, CATHEDRAL, AND LEANING TOWER OF PISA
FOLLOWING PAGE 96
CITY AND BAY OF NAPLES WITH VESUVIUS
IN THE DISTANCE
TEMPLE OF THESEUS AT ATHENS
PALERMO, SICILY, FROM THE SEA
GREEK THEATER, SEGESTA, SICILY
TEMPLE OF CONCORD, GIRGENTI, SICILY
TEMPLE OF JUNO, GIRGENTI, SICILY
AMPHITHEATER AT SYRACUSE, SICILY
GREEK TEMPLE AT SEGESTA, SICILY
HARBOR OF SYRACUSE, SICILY
THE SO-CALLED "SHIP OF ULYSSES," OFF CORFU
TEMPLE OF THE OLYMPIAN ZEUS AT ATHENS
THE PLAIN BELOW DELPHI
THE ROAD NEAR DELPHI
ENTRANCE TO THE STADIUM AT OLYMPIA
THRONE OF MINOS IN CRETE
THREE FAMOUS CITIES
IN THE STREETS OF GENOA
BY CHARLES DICKENS
The great majority of the streets are as narrow as any thoroughfare can well be, where people (even Italian people) are supposed to live and walk about; being mere lanes, with here and there a kind of well, or breathing-place. The houses are immensely high, painted in all sorts of colors, and are in every stage and state of damage, dirt, and lack of repair. They are commonly let off in floors, or flats, like the houses in the old town of Edinburgh, or many houses in Paris....
When shall I forget the Streets of Palaces: the Strada Nuova and the Strada Baldi! The endless details of these rich palaces; the walls of some of them, within, alive with masterpieces by Vandyke! The great, heavy, stone balconies, one above another, and tier over tier; with here and there, one larger than the rest, towering high up—a huge marble platform; the doorless vestibules, massively barred lower windows, immense public staircases, thick marble pillars, strong dungeon-like arches, and dreary, dreaming, echoing vaulted chambers; among which the eye wanders again, and again, and again, as every palace is succeeded by another—the terrace gardens between house and house, with green arches of the vine, and groves of orange-trees, and blushing oleander in full bloom, twenty, thirty, forty feet above the street—the painted halls, moldering and blotting, and rotting in the damp corners, and still shining out in beautiful colors and voluptuous designs, where the walls are dry—the faded figures on the outsides of the houses, holding wreaths, and crowns, and flying upward, and downward, and standing in niches, and here and there looking fainter and more feeble than elsewhere, by contrast with some fresh little Cupids, who on a more recently decorated portion of the front, are stretching out what seems to be the semblance of a blanket, but is, indeed, a sun-dial—the steep, steep, up-hill streets of small palaces (but very large palaces for all that), with marble terraces looking down into close by-ways—the magnificent and innumerable churches; and the rapid passage from a street of stately edifices, into a maze of the vilest squalor, steaming with unwholesome stenches, and swarming with half-naked children and whole worlds of dirty people—make up, altogether, such a scene of wonder; so lively, and yet so dead; so noisy, and yet so quiet; so obtrusive, and yet so shy and lowering; so wide-awake, and yet so fast asleep; that it is a sort of intoxication to a stranger to walk on, and on, and on, and look about him. A bewildering phantasmagoria, with all the inconsistency of a dream, and all the pain and all the pleasure of an extravagant reality!...
In the streets of shops, the houses are much smaller, but of great size notwithstanding, and extremely high. They are very dirty; quite undrained, if my nose be at all reliable; and emit a peculiar fragrance, like the smell of very bad cheese, kept in very hot blankets. Notwithstanding the height of the houses, there would seem to have been a lack of room in the city, for new houses are thrust in everywhere. Wherever it has been possible to cram a tumble-down tenement into a crack or corner, in it has gone. If there be a nook or angle in the wall of a church, or a crevice in any other dead wall, of any sort, there you are sure to find some kind of habitation; looking as if it had grown there, like a fungus. Against the Government House, against the old Senate House, round about any large building, little shops stick close, like parasite vermin to the great carcass. And for all this, look where you may; up steps, down steps, anywhere, everywhere; there are irregular houses, receding, starting forward, tumbling down, leaning against their neighbors, crippling themselves or their friends by some means or other, until one, more irregular than the rest, chokes up the way, and you can't see any further.
BY HIPPOLYTE ADOLPHE TAINE
The cathedral, at the first sight, is bewildering. Gothic art, transported entire into Italy at the close of the Middle Ages, attains at once its triumph and its extravagance. Never had it been seen so pointed, so highly embroidered, so complex, so overcharged, so strongly resembling a piece of jewelry; and as, instead of coarse and lifeless stone, it here takes for its material the beautiful lustrous Italian marble, it becomes a pure chased gem as precious through its substance as through the labor bestowed on it. The whole church seems to be a colossal and magnificent crystallization, so splendidly do its forests of spires, its intersections of moldings, its population of statues, its fringes of fretted, hollowed, embroidered and open marblework, ascend in multiple and interminable bright forms against the pure blue sky.
Truly is it the mystic candelabra of visions and legends, with a hundred thousand branches bristling and overflowing with sorrowing thorns and ecstatic roses, with angels, virgins, and martyrs upon every flower and on every thorn, with infinite myriads of the triumphant Church springing from the ground pyramidically even into the azure, with its millions of blended and vibrating voices mounting upward in a single shout, hosannah!...
We enter, and the impression deepens. What a difference between the religious power of such a church and that of St. Peter's at Rome! One exclaims to himself, this is the true Christian temple! Four rows of enormous eight-sided pillars, close together, seem like a serried hedge of gigantic oaks. Their strange capitals, bristling with a fantastic vegetation of pinnacles, canopies, foliated niches and statues, are like venerable trunks crowned with delicate and pendent mosses. They spread out in great branches meeting in the vault overhead, the intervals of the arches being filled with an inextricable network of foliage, thorny sprigs and light branches, twining and intertwining, and figuring the aerial dome of a mighty forest. As in a great wood, the lateral aisles are almost equal in height to that of the center, and, on all sides, at equal distances apart, one sees ascending around him the secular colonnades.
Here truly is the ancient Germanic forest, as if a reminiscence of the religious groves of Irmensul. Light pours in transformed by green, yellow and purple panes, as if through the red and orange tints of autumnal leaves. This, certainly, is a complete architecture like that of Greece, having, like that of Greece, its root in vegetable forms. The Greek takes the trunk of the tree, drest, for his type; the German the entire tree with all its leaves and branches. True architecture, perhaps, always springs out of vegetal nature, and each zone may have its own edifices as well as plants; in this way oriental architectures might be comprehended—the vague idea of the slender palm and of its bouquet of leaves with the Arabs, and the vague idea of the colossal, prolific, dilated and bristling vegetation of India.
In any event I have never seen a church in which the aspect of northern forests was more striking, or where one more involuntarily imagines long alleys of trunks terminating in glimpses of daylight, curved branches meeting in acute angles, domes of irregular and commingling foliage, universal shade scattered with lights through colored and diaphanous leaves. Sometimes a section of yellow panes, through which the sun darts, launches into the obscurity its shower of rays and a portion of the nave glows like a luminous glade. A vast rosace behind the choir, a window with tortuous branchings above the entrance, shimmer with the tints of amethyst, ruby, emerald and topaz like leafy labyrinths in which lights from above break in and diffuse themselves in shifting radiance. Near the sacristy a small door-top, fastened against the wall, exposes an infinity of intersecting moldings similar to the delicate meshes of some marvelous twining and climbing plant. A day might be passed here as in a forest, in the presence of grandeurs as solemn as those of nature, before caprices as fascinating, amid the same intermingling of sublime monotony and inexhaustible fecundity, before contrasts and metamorphoses of light as rich and as unexpected. A mystic reverie, combined with a fresh sentiment of northern nature, such is the source of Gothic architecture.
PISA'S FOUR GLORIES
BY HIPPOLYTE ADOLPHE TAINE
There are two Pisas—one in which people have lapsed into ennui, and live from hand to mouth since the decadence, which is in fact the entire city, except a remote corner; the other is this corner, a marble sepulcher where the Duomo, Baptistery, Leaning Tower and Campo-Santo silently repose like beautiful dead beings. This is the genuine Pisa, and in these relics of a departed life, one beholds a world.
In 1083 in order to honor the Virgin, who had given them a victory over the Saracens of Sardignia, they [the Pisans] laid the foundations of their Duomo. This edifice is almost a Roman basilica, that is to say a temple surmounted by another temple, or, if you prefer it, a house having a gable for its facade which gable is cut off at the peak to support another house of smaller dimensions. Five stories of columns entirely cover the facade with their superposed porticos. Two by two they stand coupled together to support small arcades; all these pretty shapes of white marble under their dark arcades form an aerial population of the utmost grace and novelty. Nowhere here are we conscious of the dolorous reverie of the medieval north; it is the fete of a young nation which is awakening, and, in the gladness of its recent prosperity, honoring its gods. It has collected capitals, ornaments, entire columns obtained on the distant shores to which its wars and its commerce have led it, and these ancient fragments enter into its work without incongruity; for it is instinctively cast in the ancient mold, and only developed with a tinge of fancy on the side of finesse and the pleasing. Every antique form reappears, but reshaped in the same sense by a fresh and original impulse.
The outer columns of the Greek temple are reduced, multiplied and uplifted in the air, and from a support have become an ornament. The Roman or Byzantine dome is elongated and its natural heaviness diminished under a crown of slender columns with a miter ornament, which girds it midway with its delicate promenade. On the two sides of the great door two Corinthian columns are enveloped with luxurious foliage, calyxes and twining or blooming acanthus; and from the threshold we see the church with its files of intersecting columns, its alternate courses of black and white marble and its multitude of slender and brilliant forms, rising upward like an altar of candelabra. A new spirit appears here, a more delicate sensibility; it is not excessive and disordered as in the north, and yet it is not satisfied with the grave simplicity, the robust nudity of antique architecture. It is the daughter of the pagan mother, healthy and gay, but more womanly than its mother.
She is not yet an adult, sure in all her steps—she is somewhat awkward. The lateral facades on the exterior are monotonous; the cupola within is a reversed funnel of a peculiar and disagreeable form. The junction of the two arms of the cross is unsatisfactory and so many modernized chapels dispel the charm due to purity, as at Sienna. At the second glance however all this is forgotten, and we again regard it as a complete whole. Four rows of Corinthian columns, surmounted with arcades, divide the church into five naves, and form a forest. A second passage, as richly crowded, traverses the former crosswise, and, above the beautiful grove, files of still smaller columns prolong and intersect each other in order to uphold in the air the prolongation and intersection of the quadruple gallery. The ceiling is flat; the windows are small, and for the most part, without sashes; they allow the walls to retain the grandeur of their mass and the solidity of their position; and among these long, straight and simple lines, in this natural light, the innumerable shafts glow with the serenity of an antique temple....
Nothing more can be added in relation to the Baptistery or the Leaning Tower; the same ideas prevail in these, the same taste, the same style. The former is a simple, isolated dome, the latter a cylinder, and each has an outward dress of small columns. And yet each has its own distinct and expressive physiognomy; but description and writing consume too much time, and too many technical terms are requisite to define their differences. I note, simply, the inclination of the Tower. Some suppose that, when half constructed, the tower sank in the earth on one side, and that the architects continued on; seeing that they did continue this deflection was only a partial obstacle to them. In any event, there are other leaning towers in Italy, at Bologna, for example; voluntarily or involuntarily this feeling for oddness, this love of paradox, this yielding to fancy is one of the characteristics of the Middle Ages.
In the center of the Baptistery stands a superb font with eight panels; each panel is incrusted with a rich complicated flower in full bloom, and each flower is different. Around it a circle of large Corinthian columns supports round-arch arcades; most of them are antique and are ornamented with antique bas-reliefs; Meleager with his barking dogs, and the nude torsos of his companions in attendance on Christian mysteries. On the left stands a pulpit similar to that of Sienna, the first work of Nicholas of Pisa (1260), a simple marble coffer supported by marble columns and covered with sculptures. The sentiment of force and of antique nudity comes out here in striking features. The sculptor comprehended the postures and torsions of bodies. His figures, somewhat massive, are grand and simple; he frequently reproduces the tunics and folds of the Roman costume; one of his nude personages, a sort of Hercules bearing a young lion on his shoulders, has the broad breast and muscular tension which the sculptors of the sixteenth century admired.
The last of these edifices, the Campo-Santo, is a cemetery, the soil of which, brought from Palestine, is holy ground. Four high walls of polished marble surround it with their white and crowded panels. Inside, a square gallery forms a promenade opening into the court through arcades trellised with ogive windows. It is filled with funereal monuments, busts, inscriptions and statues of every form and of every age. Nothing could be simpler and nobler. A framework of dark wood supports the arch overhead, and the crest of the roof cuts sharp against the crystal sky. At the angles are four rustling cypress trees, tranquilly swayed by the breeze. Grass is growing in the court with a wild freshness and luxuriance. Here and there a climbing flower twined around a column, a small rosebush, or a shrub glows beneath a gleam of sunshine. There is no noise; this quarter is deserted; only now and then is heard the voice of some promenader which reverberates as under the vault of a church. It is the veritable cemetery of a free and Christian city; here, before the tombs of the great, people might well reflect over death and public affairs.
THE WALLS AND "SKYSCRAPERS" OF PISA
BY JANET ROSS AND NELLY ERICHSON
Few cities have preserved their medieval walls with such loving care as Pisa. The circuit is complete save where the traveler enters the city; and there, alas, a wide breach has been made by the restless spirit of modernity. But once past the paltry barrier and the banal square, with its inevitable statue of Victor Emanuel, that take the place of the old Porta Romana, one quickly perceives that the city is a walled one. Glimpses of battlements close the vistas of the streets, and green fields peep through the open gates, marking that abrupt transition between town and country peculiar to a fortified city.
The walls are best seen from without. An admirable impression of them can be had on leaving the city by the Porta Lucchese. Turning to the left, after passing a crucifix overshadowed by cypresses, we come to the edge of a stretch of level marshy meadows, gaily pied in spring with orchids and grape hyacinths. Above our heads the high air vibrates with the song of larks. Before us is the long line of the city walls. Strong, grim and gray, they look with nothing to break the outline of square battlements against the sky, but that majestic groups of domes and towers for whose defense they were built. At the angle of the wall to the right is a square watch-tower, backed by groups of cypresses that rise into the air like dark flames. Its little windows command the flat plain as far as the horizon. How easy to imagine the warning blast of the warder's trumpet as he caught sight of a distant enemy, and the wall springing into life at the sound. Armed men buckling on their harness would swarm up ladders to the battlements, the catapult groan and squeak as its lever was forced backward, and at the sharp word of command the first flight of arrows would be loosed.
But the dream fades, and we pass on to the angle of the wall where the cypresses stand. From the picturesque Jews' cemetery, to which access is easy, the structure of the walls can be studied in detail because the hand of the restorer has been perforce withheld within its gates. The wall is some forty feet high, built of stone from the Pisan hills, weathered for the most part to a grayish hue. The masonry of the lower half is good. The blocks of stone are large and well laid. Those of the upper half are smaller and the masonry is in places careless and irregular. The red brick battlements are square. At short intervals there are walled-up gateways, round-headed or ogival in form, and the whole surface is rent and patched. Centuries of war and earthquakes, rain and fire, have given it a pleasant irregularity, the record of violent and troublous times.
The city can be reentered by the Porta Nuova, only a few yards to the left of the cemetery. So venerable do these battered walls look that we need the full evidence of history to realize that they had more than one predecessor. The memory even of the first walls of Pisa, an ancient city when Rome was young, has been lost. The earliest record of which we know anything appears on a map of the ninth century drawn by one Bonanno; a map, we should rather say professing to be of the ninth century, for churches of the thirteenth century are marked upon it, so it must either have been made, or the churches inserted, then....
The ancient walls were practically swept away by the prosperity of Pisa. Beside the Balearic Islands she had conquered Carthage, the Lipari Islands, Elba, Corsica, and Palermo, and her galleys poured their spoils into the Pisan port. She traded with the East, and was successful in commerce as in war. Her inhabitants increased rapidly. They could no longer be penned within the narrow limits of the old wall, but overflowed in all directions beyond it. Not only was the Borgo thickly populated, but a whole new region called Forisportae, sprang up.
So masked was the wall by houses, built into it and huddling against it both on the outside and the inside, that it seems to have been actually invisible. So much so that contemporary chroniclers spoke of Pisa as without walls, and attributed her safety to the valor of her citizens and the multitude of her towers. The ancient wall was evidently so hidden and decayed that Pisa must be regarded as a defenseless city in the twelfth century. It is curious that her citizens should have neglected their own safety at a time when they were masters of fortification and defense; when their fame in these arts had reached as far as Egypt and Syria, and when the Milanese came to them to beg for engineers....
The external appearance of an Italian city in the twelfth century was so unlike anything we are accustomed to in modern times that a strong effort of the imagination is needed to conceive it. Seen from a distance the walls enclosed, not houses, but a forest of tall square shafts, rising into the sky like the crowded chimney stacks in a manufacturing town but far more thickly set together. The city appeared, to use a graphic contemporary metaphor, like a sheaf of corn bound together by its walls.
San Gimignano, tho most of its towers have perished long ago, helps us to imagine faintly what Italian towns were like in the days of Frederick Barbarossa or his grandson Frederick II. For most of the houses were actually towers, long rectangular columns, vying with each other in height and crowded close together on either side of the narrow, airless, darkened streets. Sometimes they were connected with one another by wooden bridges, and all were furnished with wooden balconies used in defensive and offensive warfare with their neighbors.
Cities full of towers were common all over southern France and central Italy, but Tuscany had more than any other state, and those of Pisa were the most famous of all. The habit of building and dwelling in towers rather than in houses may have arisen from the difficulty of expanding laterally within an enclosed city; but a stronger reason may be found in the dangers and uncertainty of life in a period when a man might be attacked at any moment by his fellow-citizen, as well as by the enemy of the state. It was a distinct military advantage to overlook one's neighbor, who might be an enemy; and towers rose higher and higher. The spirit of emulation entered, and rich nobles gloried in adding tower to tower and in looking down on all rivals.
But whatever the cause of their existence, they were picturesque, and must have presented a gallant sight on the eve of a high festival. The tall shafts were tinged with gold by the western sun, their battlements crowned with three fluttering banners—the eagle of the Emperor, the white cross of the Commune, and the device of the People—looking as tho a cloud of many-colored butterflies were hovering over the city.
Again, how dramatic the scene when the city was rent by one of the perpetually recurring faction-fights. Light bridges with grappling-irons were thrown from tower to tower, doors and windows were barricaded, balconies and battlements lined with men in shining mail, bearing the fantastic device of their leader on helm and shield. Mangonels, or catapults, huge engines stationed on the roofs of the towers, sent masses of stone hurtling through the air, whistling arbelast bolts and clothyard shafts flew in thick showers, boiling oil or lead rained down on the heads of those who ventured down to attack the doors, and arrows, with Greek fire attached, were shot with nice aim into the wooden balconies and bridges. Vile insults were hurled where missiles failed to strike. The shouts and shrieks of the combatants were mingled with the crash of a falling tower or with the hissing of a fire-arrow. Where those struck, a red glow arose and a thick cloud of smoke enveloped the defenders.
Altho it is evident that towers were very numerous in Pisa, it is difficult to arrive at their precise number. The chroniclers differ greatly in their estimates. Benjamin da Tudela, for instance, says that there were 10,000 in the twelfth century; while Marangone puts the number at 15,000 and Tronci at 16,000. These are round numbers such as the medieval mind loved, but we have abundant evidence that they are not much exaggerated. An intarsia panel in the Duomo, shows how closely the towers were packed together, while the mass of legislation relating to them was directed against abuses that could only have arisen if their number was very large.
NAPLES AND ITS ENVIRONS
IN AND ABOUT THE CITY
BY CHARLES DICKENS
So we go, rattling down-hill, into Naples. A funeral is coming up the street, toward us. The body, on an open bier, borne on a kind of palanquin, covered with a gay cloth of crimson and gold. The mourners, in white gowns and masks. If there be death abroad, life is well represented too, for all Naples would seem to be out of doors, and tearing to and fro in carriages. Some of these, the common Vetturino vehicles, are drawn by three horses abreast, decked with smart trappings and great abundance of brazen ornament, and always going very fast. Not that their loads are light; for the smallest of them has at least six people inside, four in front, four or five more hanging behind, and two or three more, in a net or bag below the axle-tree, where they lie half-suffocated with mud and dust.
Exhibitors of Punch, buffo singers with guitars, reciters of poetry, reciters of stories, a row of cheap exhibitions with clowns and showmen, drums, and trumpets, painted cloths representing the wonders within, and admiring crowds assembled without, assist the whirl and bustle. Ragged lazzaroni lie asleep in doorways, archways, and kennels; the gentry, gaily drest, are dashing up and down in carriages on the Chiaja, or walking in the Public Gardens; and quiet letter-writers, perched behind their little desks and inkstands under the Portico of the Great Theater of San Carlo, in the public street, are waiting for clients.
Why do the beggars rap their chins constantly, with their right hands, when you look at them? Everything is done in pantomime in Naples, and that is the conventional sign for hunger. A man who is quarreling with another, yonder, lays the palm of his right hand on the back of his left, and shakes the two thumbs—expressive of a donkey's ears—whereat his adversary is goaded to desperation. Two people bargaining for fish, the buyer empties an imaginary waistcoat pocket when he is told the price, and walks away without a word, having thoroughly conveyed to the seller that he considers it too dear. Two people in carriages, meeting, one touches his lips, twice or thrice, holding up the five fingers of his right hand, and gives a horizontal cut in the air with the palm. The other nods briskly, and goes his way. He has been invited to a friendly dinner at half-past five o'clock, and will certainly come.
All over Italy, a peculiar shake of the right hand from the wrist, with the forefinger stretched out, expresses a negative—the only negative beggars will ever understand. But, in Naples, those five fingers are a copious language. All this, and every other kind of out-door life and stir, and maccaroni-eating at sunset, and flower-selling all day long, and begging and stealing everywhere and at all hours, you see upon the bright sea-shore, where the waves of the Bay sparkle merrily....
Capri—once made odious by the deified beast Tiberius—Ischia, Procida, and the thousand distant beauties of the Bay, lie in the blue sea yonder, changing in the mist and sunshine twenty times a day; now close at hand, now far off, now unseen. The fairest country in the world, is spread about us. Whether we turn toward the Miseno shore of the splendid watery amphitheater, and go by the Grotto of Posilipo to the Grotto del Cane and away to Baiae, or take the other way, toward Vesuvius and Sorrento, it is one succession of delights. In the last-named direction, where, over doors and archways, there are countless little images of San Gennaro, with this Canute's hand stretched out, to check the fury of the burning Mountain, we are carried pleasantly, by a railroad on the beautiful Sea Beach, past the town of Torre del Greco, built upon the ashes of the former town destroyed by an eruption of Vesuvius, within a hundred years; and past the flat-roofed houses, granaries, and maccaroni manufacturies; to Castellamare, with its ruined castle, now inhabited by fishermen, standing in the sea upon a heap of rocks.
Here, the railroad terminates; but, hence we may ride on, by an unbroken succession of enchanting bays, and beautiful scenery, sloping from the highest summit of Saint Angelo, the highest neighboring mountain, down to the water's edge—among vineyards, olive-trees, gardens of oranges and lemons, orchards, heaped-up rocks, green gorges in the hills—and by the bases of snow-covered heights, and through small towns with handsome, dark-haired women at the doors—and pass delicious summer villas—to Sorrento, where the poet Tasso drew his inspiration from the beauty surrounding him. Returning, we may climb the heights above Castellamare, and looking down among the boughs and leaves, see the crisp water glistening in the sun; and clusters of white houses in distant Naples, dwindling, in the great extent of prospect, down to dice. The coming back to the city, by the beach again, at sunset; with the glowing sea on one side, and the darkening mountain (Vesuvius), with its smoke and flame, upon the other, is a sublime conclusion to the glory of the day.
That church by the Porta Capuna—near the old fisher-market in the dirtiest quarter of dirty Naples, where the revolt of Masaniello began—is memorable for having been the scene of one of his earliest proclamations to the people, and is particularly remarkable for nothing else, unless it be its waxen and bejeweled Saint in a glass case, with two odd hands; or the enormous number of beggars who are constantly rapping their chins there, like a battery of castanets. The cathedral with the beautiful door, and the columns of African and Egyptian granite that once ornamented the temple of Apollo, contains the famous sacred blood of San Gennaro or Januarius, which is preserved in two phials in a silver tabernacle, and miraculously liquefies three times a year, to the great admiration of the people. At the same moment, the stone (distant some miles) where the Saint suffered martyrdom, becomes faintly red. It is said that the officiating priests turn faintly red also, sometimes, when these miracles occur.
The old, old men who live in hovels at the entrance of these ancient catacombs, and who, in their age and infirmity, seem waiting here, to be buried themselves, are members of a curious body, called the Royal Hospital, who are the official attendants at funerals. Two of these old specters totter away, with lighted tapers, to show the caverns of death—as unconcerned as if they were immortal. They were used as burying-places for three hundred years; and, in one part, is a large pit full of skulls and bones, said to be the sad remains of a great mortality occasioned by a plague. In the rest, there is nothing but dust. They consist, chiefly, of great wide corridors and labyrinths, hewn out of the rock. At the end of some of these long passages, are unexpected glimpses of the daylight, shining down from above. It looks as ghastly and as strange; among the torches, and the dust, and the dark vaults; as if it, too, were dead and buried.
The present burial-place lies out yonder, on a hill between the city and Vesuvius. The old Campo Santo with its three hundred and sixty-five pits, is only used for those who die in hospitals, and prisons, and are unclaimed by their friends. The graceful new cemetery, at no great distance from it, tho yet unfinished, has already many graves among its shrubs and flowers, and airy colonnades. It might be reasonably objected elsewhere, that some of the tombs are meretricious and too fanciful; but the general brightness seems to justify it here; and Mount Vesuvius, separated from them by a lovely slope of ground, exalts and saddens the scene.
If it be solemn to behold from this new City of the Dead, with its dark smoke hanging in the clear sky, how much more awful and impressive is it, viewed from the ghostly ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii!
Stand at the bottom of the great market-place of Pompeii, and look up the silent streets, through the ruined temples of Jupiter and Isis, over the broken houses with their inmost sanctuaries open to the day, away to Mount Vesuvius, bright and snowy in the peaceful distance; and lose all count of time, and heed of other things, in the strange and melancholy sensation of seeing the Destroyed and the Destroyer making this quiet picture in the sun. Then, ramble on, and see, at every turn, the little familiar tokens of human habitation and everyday pursuits, the chafing of the bucket-rope in the stone rim of the exhausted well; the track of carriage-wheels in the pavement of the street; the marks of drinking-vessels on the stone counter of the wine-shop; the amphorae in private cellars, stored away so many hundred years ago, and undisturbed to this hour—all rendering the solitude and deadly lonesomeness of the place, ten thousand times more solemn, than if the volcano, in its fury, had swept the city from the earth, and sunk it in the bottom of the sea.
THE TOMB OF VIRGIL
BY AUGUSTUS J. C. HARE
A road to the right at the end of the Chiaja, leads to the mouth of the Grotto of Posilipo, above which those who do not wish to leave their carriages may see, high on the left, close above the grotto, the ruined columbarium known as the Tomb of Virgil. A door in the wall, on the left of the approach to the grotto, and a very steep staircase, lead to the columbarium, which is situated in a pretty fruit-garden.
Virgil desired that his body should be brought to Naples from Brundusium, where he died, B.C. 19, and there is every probability that he was buried on this spot, which was visited as Virgil's burial-place little more than a century after his death by the poet Statius, who was born at Naples, and who describes composing his own poems while seated in the shadow of the tomb. If further confirmation were needed of the story that Virgil was laid here, it would be found in the fact that Silius Italicus, who lived at the same time with Statius, purchased the tomb of Virgil, restored it from the neglect into which it had fallen, and celebrated funeral rites before it.
The tomb was originally shaded by a gigantic bay-tree, which is said to have died on the death of Dante. Petrarch, who was brought hither by King Robert, planted another, which existed in the time of Sannazaro, but was destroyed by relic-collectors in the last century. A branch was sent to Frederick the Great by the Margravine of Baireuth, with some verses by Voltaire. If from no other cause, the tomb would be interesting from its visitors; here Boccaccio renounced the career of a merchant for that of a poet, and a well-known legend, that St. Paul visited the sepulcher of Virgil at Naples, was long commemorated in the verse of a hymn used in the service for St. Paul's Day at Mantua.
The tomb is a small, square, vaulted chamber with three windows. Early in the sixteenth century a funeral urn, containing the ashes of the poet, stood in the center, supported by nine little marble pillars. Some say that Robert of Anjou removed it, in 1326, for security to the Castel Nuovo, others that it was given by the Government to a cardinal from Mantua, who died at Genoa on his way home. In either event the urn is now lost.
It is just beneath the tomb that the road to Pozzuoli enters the famous Grotto of Posilipo, a tunnel about half a mile long, in breadth from 25 to 30 feet, and varying from about 90 feet in height near the entrance, to little more than 20 feet at points of the interior. Petronius and Seneca mention its narrow gloomy passage with horror, in the reign of Nero, when it was so low that it could only be used for foot-passengers, who were obliged to stoop in passing through.
In the fifteenth century King Alphonso I. gave it height by lowering the floor, which was paved by Don Pedro di Toledo a hundred years later. In the Middle Ages the grotto was ascribed to the magic arts of Virgil. In recent years it has been the chief means of communication between Naples and Baiae, and is at all times filled with dust and noise, the flickering lights and resounding echoes giving it a most weird effect. However much one may abuse Neapolitans, we may consider in their favor, as Swinburne observes, "what a terror this dark grotto would be in London!"
TWO ASCENTS OF VESUVIUS
BY JOHANN WOLGANG VON GOETHE
At the foot of the steep ascent, we were received by two guides, one old, the other young, but both active fellows. The first pulled me up the path, the other Tischbein—pulled I say, for these guides are girded round the waist with a leathern belt, which the traveler takes hold of, and being drawn up by his guide, makes his way the easier with foot and staff. In this manner we reached the flat from which the cone rises; toward the north lay the ruins of the summit.
A glance westward over the country beneath us, removed, as well as a bath could, all feeling of exhaustion and fatigue, and we now went round the ever-smoking cone, as it threw out its stones and ashes. Wherever the space allowed of our viewing it at a sufficient distance, it appeared a grand and elevating spectacle. In the first place, a violent thundering toned forth from its deepest abyss, then stones of larger and smaller sizes were showered into the air by thousands, and enveloped by clouds of ashes. The greatest part fell again into the gorge; the rest of the fragments, receiving a lateral inclination, and falling on the outside of the crater, made a marvelous rumbling noise. First of all the larger masses plumped against the side, and rebounded with a dull heavy sound; then the smaller came rattling down; and last of all, drizzled a shower of ashes. All this took place at regular intervals, which by slowly counting, we were able to measure pretty accurately.
Between the summit, however, and the cone the space is narrow enough; moreover, several stones fell around us, and made the circuit anything but agreeable. Tischbein now felt more disgusted than ever with Vesuvius, as the monster, not content with being hateful, showed an inclination to become mischievous also.
As, however, the presence of danger generally exercises on man a kind of attraction, and calls forth a spirit of opposition in the human breast to defy it, I bethought myself that, in the interval of the eruptions, it would be possible to climb up the cone to the crater, and to get back before it broke out again. I held a council on this point with our guides under one of the overhanging rocks of the summit, where, encamped in safety, we refreshed ourselves with the provisions we had brought with us. The younger guide was willing to run the risk with me; we stuffed our hats full of linen and silk handkerchiefs, and, staff in hand, we prepared to start, I holding on to his girdle.
The little stones were yet rattling around us, and the ashes still drizzling, as the stalwart youth hurried forth with me across the hot glowing rubble. We soon stood on the brink of the vast chasm, the smoke of which, altho a gentle air was bearing it away from us, unfortunately veiled the interior of the crater, which smoked all round from a thousand crannies. At intervals, however, we caught sight through the smoke of the cracked walls of the rock. The view was neither instructive nor delightful; but for the very reason that one saw nothing, one lingered in the hope of catching a glimpse of something more; and so we forgot our slow counting. We were standing on a narrow ridge of the vast abyss; of a sudden the thunder pealed aloud; we ducked our heads involuntarily, as if that would have rescued us from the precipitated masses. The smaller stones soon rattled, and without considering that we had again an interval of cessation before us, and only too much rejoiced to have outstood the danger, we rushed down and reached the foot of the hill together with the drizzling ashes, which pretty thickly covered our heads and shoulders....
The news [two weeks later] that an eruption of lava had just commenced, which, taking the direction of Ottajano, was invisible at Naples, tempted me to visit Vesuvius for the third time. Scarcely had I jumped out of my cabriolet at the foot of the mountain, when immediately appeared the two guides who had accompanied us on our previous ascent. I had no wish to do without either, but took one out of gratitude and custom, the other for reliance on his judgment—and the two for the greater convenience. Having ascended the summit, the older guide remained with our cloaks and refreshment, while the younger followed me, and we boldly went straight toward a dense volume of smoke, which broke forth from the bottom of the funnel; then we quickly went downward by the side of it, till at last, under the clear heaven, we distinctly saw the lava emitted from the rolling clouds of smoke.
We may hear an object spoken of a thousand times, but its peculiar features will never be caught till we see it with our own eyes. The stream of lava was small, not broader perhaps than ten feet, but the way in which it flowed down a gentle and tolerably smooth plain was remarkable. As it flowed along, it cooled both on the sides and on the surface, so that it formed a sort of canal, the bed of which was continually raised in consequence of the molten mass congealing even beneath the fiery stream, which, with uniform action, precipitated right and left the scoria which were floating on its surface. In this way a regular dam was at length thrown up, in which the glowing stream flowed on as quietly as any mill-stream. We passed along the tolerably high dam, while the scoria rolled regularly off the sides at our feet. Some cracks in the canal afforded opportunity of looking at the living stream, from below, and as it rushed onward, we observed it from above.
A very bright sun made the glowing lava look dull; but a moderate steam rose from it into the pure air. I felt a great desire to go nearer to the point where it broke out from the mountain; there my guide averred, it at once formed vaults and roofs above itself, on which he had often stood. To see and experience this phenomenon, we again ascended the hill, in order to come from behind to this point. Fortunately at this moment the place was cleared by a pretty strong wind, but not entirely, for all round it the smoke eddied from a thousand crannies; and now at last we stood on the top of the solid roof (which looked like a hardened mass of twisted dough), but which, however, projected so far outward, that it was impossible to see the welling lava.
We ventured about twenty steps further, but the ground on which we stept became hotter and hotter, while around us rolled an oppressive steam, which obscured and hid the sun; the guide, who was a few steps in advance of me, presently turned back, and seizing hold of me, hurried out of this Stygian exhalation.
After we had refreshed our eyes with the clear prospect, and washed our gums and throat with wine, we went round again to notice any other peculiarities which might characterize this peak of hell, thus rearing itself in the midst of a Paradise. I again observed attentively some chasms, in appearance like so many vulcanic forges, which emitted no smoke, but continually shot out a steam of hot glowing air. They were all tapestried, as it were, with a kind of stalactite, which covered the funnel to the top, with its knobs and chintz-like variation of colors. In consequence of the irregularity of the forges, I found many specimens of this sublimation hanging within reach, so that, with our staves and a little contrivance, we were able to hack off a few, and to secure them. I saw in the shops of the dealers in lava similar specimens, labeled simply "Lava"; and I was delighted to have discovered that it was volcanic soot precipitated from the hot vapor, and distinctly exhibiting the sublimated mineral particles which it contained.
BY CHARLES DICKENS
No matter that the snow and ice lie thick upon the summit of Vesuvius, or that we have been on foot all day at Pompeii, or that croakers maintain that strangers should not be on the mountain by night, in such unusual season. Let us take advantage of the fine weather; make the best of our way to Resina, the little village at the foot of the mountain; prepare ourselves, as well as we can, on so short a notice, at the guide's house, ascend at once, and have sunset half-way up, moonlight at the top, and midnight to come down in!
At four o'clock in the afternoon, there is a terrible uproar in the little stable-yard of Signor Salvatore, the recognized head guide, with the gold band round his cap; and thirty under-guides who are all scuffling and screaming at once, are preparing half-a-dozen saddled ponies, three litters, and some stout staves, for the journey. Every one of the thirty quarrels with the other twenty-nine, and frightens the six ponies; and as much of the village as can possibly squeeze itself into the little stable-yard, participates in the tumult, and gets trodden on by the cattle.
After much violent skirmishing, and more noise than would suffice for the storming of Naples, the procession starts. The head guide, who is liberally paid for all the attendants, rides a little in advance of the party; the other thirty guides proceed on foot. Eight go forward with the litters that are to be used by and by; and the remaining two-and-twenty beg. We ascend, gradually, by stony lanes like rough broad flights of stairs, for some time. At length, we leave these, and the vineyards on either side of them, and emerge upon a bleak, bare region where the lava lies confusedly, in enormous rusty masses; as if the earth had been plowed up by burning thunder-bolts. And now, we halt to see the sunset. The change that falls upon the dreary region and on the whole mountain, as its red light fades, and the night comes on—and the unutterable solemnity and dreariness that reign around, who that has witnessed it, can ever forget!
It is dark, when after winding, for some time, over the broken ground, we arrive at the foot of the cone, which is extremely steep, and seems to rise, almost perpendicularly, from the spot where we dismount. The only light is reflected from the snow, deep, hard, and white, with which the cone is covered. It is now intensely cold, and the air is piercing. The thirty-one have brought no torches, knowing that the moon will rise before we reach the top. Two of the litters are devoted to the two ladies; the third, to a rather heavy gentleman from Naples, whose hospitality and good-nature have attached him to the expedition, and determined him to assist in doing the honors of the mountain. The rather heavy gentleman is carried by fifteen men; each of the ladies by half-a-dozen. We who walk, make the best use of our staves; and so the whole party begin to labor upward over the snow—as if they were toiling to the summit of an antediluvian Twelfth-cake.
We are a long time toiling up; and the head guide looks oddly about him when one of the company—not an Italian, tho an habitue of the mountain for many years: whom we will call, for our present purpose, Mr. Pickle of Portici—suggests that, as it is freezing hard, and the usual footing of ashes is covered by the snow and ice, it will surely be difficult to descend. But the sight of the litters above, tilting up, and down, and jerking from this side to that, as the bearers continually slip, and tumble, diverts our attention, more especially as the whole length of the rather heavy gentleman is, at that moment, presented to us alarmingly foreshortened, with his head downward.
The rising of the moon soon afterward, revives the flagging spirits of the bearers. Stimulating each other with their usual watchword, "Courage, friend! It is to eat maccaroni!" they press on, gallantly, for the summit.
From tingeing the top of the snow above us with a band of light, and pouring it in a stream through the valley below, while we have been ascending in the dark, the moon soon lights the whole white mountain side, and the broad sea down below, and tiny Naples in the distance, and every village in the country round. The whole prospect is in this lovely state, when we come upon the platform on the mountain-top—the region of fire—an exhausted crater formed of great masses of gigantic cinders, like blocks of stone from some tremendous waterfall, burned up; from every chink and crevice of which, hot, sulfurous smoke is pouring out; while, from another conical-shaped hill, the present crater, rising abruptly from this platform at the end, great sheets of fire are streaming forth; reddening the night with flame, blackening it with smoke, and spotting it with red-hot stones and cinders, that fly up into the air like feathers, and fall down like lead. What words can paint the gloom and grandeur of this scene!
The broken ground; the smoke; the sense of suffocation from the sulfur; the fear of falling down through the crevices in the yawning ground; the stopping, every now and then, for somebody who is missing in the dark (for the dense smoke now obscures the moon); the intolerable noise of the thirty; and the hoarse roaring of the mountain; make it a scene of such confusion, at the same time, that we reel again. But, dragging the ladies through it, and across another exhausted crater to the foot of the present volcano, we approach close to it on the windy side, and then sit down among the hot ashes at its foot, and look up in silence; faintly estimating the action that is going on within, from its being full a hundred feet higher, at this minute, than it was six weeks ago.
There is something in the fire and roar, that generates an irresistible desire to get nearer to it. We can not rest long, without starting off, two of us on our hands and knees, accompanied by the head guide, to climb to the brim of the flaming crater, and try to look in. Meanwhile, the thirty yell, as with one voice, that it is a dangerous proceeding, and call to us to come back; frightening the rest of the party out of their wits.
What with their noise, and what with the trembling of the thin crust of ground, that seems about to open underneath our feet and plunge us in the burning gulf below (which is the real danger, if there be any); and what with the flashing of the fire in our faces, and the shower of red-hot ashes that is raining down, and the choking smoke and sulfur; we may well feel giddy and irrational, like drunken men. But, we contrive to climb up to the brim, and look down, for a moment, into the hell of boiling fire below. Then, we all three come rolling down; blackened, and singed, and scorched, and hot, and giddy; and each with his dress alight in half-a-dozen places.
You have read, a thousand times, that the usual way of descending, is, by sliding down the ashes; which, forming a gradually-increasing ledge below the feet, prevent too rapid a descent. But, when we have crossed the two exhausted craters on our way back, and are come to this precipitous place, there is (as Mr. Pickle has foretold) no vestige of ashes to be seen; the whole being a smooth sheet of ice.
In this dilemma, ten or a dozen of the guides cautiously join hands, and make a chain of men; of whom the foremost beat, as well as they can, a rough track with their sticks, down which we prepare to follow. The way being fearfully steep, and none of the party—even of the thirty—being able to keep their feet for six paces together, the ladies are taken out of their litters, and placed, each between two careful persons; while others of the thirty hold by their skirts, to prevent their falling forward—a necessary precaution, tending to the immediate and hopeless dilapidation of their apparel. The rather heavy gentleman is abjured to leave his litter too, and be escorted in a similar manner; but he resolves to be brought down as he was brought up, on the principle that his fifteen bearers are not likely to tumble all at once, and that he is safer so, than trusting to his own legs.
In this order, we begin the descent; sometimes on foot, sometimes shuffling on the ice; always proceeding much more quietly and slowly than on our upward way; and constantly alarmed by the falling among us of somebody from behind, who endangers the footing of the whole party, and clings pertinaciously to anybody's ankles. It is impossible for the litter to be in advance, too, as the track has to be made; and its appearance behind us, overhead—with some one or other of the bearers always down, and the rather heavy gentleman with his legs always in the air—is very threatening and frightful. We have gone on thus, a very little way, painfully and anxiously, but quite merrily, and regarding it as a great success—and have all fallen several times, and have all been stopt, somehow or other, as we were sliding away when Mr. Pickle of Portici, in the act of remarking on these uncommon circumstances as quite beyond his experience, stumbles, falls, disengages himself, with quick presence of mind, from those about him, plunges away head foremost, and rolls, over and over, down the whole surface of the cone!
Giddy, and bloody, and a mere bundle of rags, is Pickle of Portici when we reach the place where we dismounted, and where the horses are waiting; but, thank God, sound in limb! And never are we likely to be more glad to see a man alive and on his feet, than to see him now—making light of it too, tho sorely bruised and in great pain. The boy is brought into the Hermitage on the Mountain, while we are at supper, with his head tied up; and the man is heard of, some hours afterward. He, too, is bruised and stunned, but has broken no bones; the snow having, fortunately, covered all the larger blocks of rock and stone, and rendered them harmless.
CASTELLAMARE AND SORRENTO
BY HIPPOLYTE ADOLPHE TAINE
The sky is almost clear. Only above Naples hangs a bank of clouds, and around Vesuvius huge white masses of smoke, moving and stationary. I never yet saw, even in summer at Marseilles, the blue of the sea so deep, bordering even on hardness. Above this powerful lustrous azure, absorbing three-quarters of the visible space, the white sky seems to be a firmament of crystal. As we recede we obtain a better view of the undulating coast, embraced in one grand mountain form, all its parts uniting like the members of one body. Ischia and the naked promontories on the extreme end repose in their lilac envelop, like a slumbering Pompeiian nymph under her veil. Veritably, to paint such nature as this, this violet continent extending around this broad luminous water, one must employ the terms of the ancient poets, and represent the great fertile goddess embraced and beset by the eternal ocean, and above them the serene effulgence of the dazzling Jupiter.
We encounter on the road some fine faces with long elegant features, quite Grecian; some intelligent noble-looking girls, and here and there hideous mendicants cleaning their hairy breasts. But the race is much superior to that of Naples, where it is deformed and diminutive, the young girls there appearing like stunted, pallid grisets. The railroad skirts the sea a few paces off and almost on a level with it. A harbor appears blackened with lines of rigging, and then a mole, consisting of a small half-ruined fort, reflecting a clear sharp shadow in the luminous expanse. Surrounding this rise square houses, gray as if charred, and heaped together like tortoises under round roofs, serving them as a sort of thick shell.
On this fertile soil, full of cinders, cultivation extends to the shore and forms gardens; a simple reed hedge protects them from the sea and the wind; the Indian fig with its clumsy thorny leaves clings to the slopes; verdure begins to appear on the branches of the trees, the apricots showing their smiling pink blossoms; half-naked men work the friable soil without apparent effort; a few square gardens contain columns and small statues of white marble. Everywhere you behold traces of antique beauty and joyousness. And why wonder at this when you feel that you have the divine vernal sun for a companion, and on the right, whenever you turn to the sea, its flaming golden waves.
With what facility you here forget all ugly objects! I believe I passed at Castellamare some unsightly modern structures, a railroad station, hotels, a guard-house, and a number of rickety vehicles hurrying along in quest of fares. This is all effaced from my mind; nothing remains but impressions of obscure porches with glimpses of bright courts filled with glossy oranges and spring verdure, of esplanades with children playing on them and nets drying, and happy idlers snuffing the breeze and contemplating the capricious heaving of the tossing sea.
On leaving Castellamare the road forms a corniche winding along the bank. Huge white rocks, split off from the cliffs above, lie below in the midst of the eternally besieging waves. On the left the mountains lift their shattered pinnacles, fretted walls, and projecting crags, all that scaffolding of indentations which strike you as the ruins of a line of rocked and tottering fortresses. Each projection, each mass throws its shadow on the surrounding white surfaces, the entire range being peopled with tints and forms.
Sometimes the mountain is rent in twain, and the sides of the chasm are lined with cultivation, descending in successive stages. Sorrento is thus built on three deep ravines. All these hollows contain gardens, crowded with masses of trees overhanging each other. Nut-trees, already lively with sap, project their white branches like gnarled fingers; everything else is green; winter lays no hand on this eternal spring. The thick lustrous leaf of the orange-tree rises from amid the foliage of the olive, and its golden apples glisten in the sun by thousands, interspersed with gleams of the pale lemon; often in these shady lanes do its glittering leaves flash out above the crest of the walls. This is the land of the orange. It grows even in miserable court-yards, alongside of dilapidated steps, spreading its luxuriant tops everywhere in the bright sunlight. The delicate aromatic odor of all these opening buds and blossoms is a luxury of kings, which here a beggar enjoys for nothing.
I passed an hour in the garden of the hotel, a terrace overlooking the sea about half-way up the bank. A scene like this fills the imagination with a dream of perfect bliss. The house stands in a luxurious garden, filled with orange and lemon-trees, as heavily laden with fruit as those of a Normandy orchard; the ground at the foot of the trees is covered with it. Clusters of foliage and shrubbery of a pale green, bordering on blue, occupy intermediate spaces. The rosy blossoms of the peach, so tender and delicate, bloom on its naked branches. The walks are of bright blue porcelain, and the terrace displays its round verdant masses overhanging the sea, of which the lovely azure fills all space.
I have not yet spoken of my impressions after leaving Castellamare. The charm was only too great. The pure sky, the pale azure almost transparent, the radiant blue sea as chaste and tender as a virgin bride, this infinite expanse so exquisitely adorned as if for a festival of rare delight, is a sensation that has no equal. Capri and Ischia on the line of the sky lie white in their soft vapory tissue, and the divine azure gently fades away surrounded by this border of brightness.
Where find words to express all this? The gulf seemed like a marble vase purposely rounded to receive the sea. The satin sheen of a flower, the soft luminous petals of the velvet orris with shimmering sunshine on their pearly borders, such are the images that fill the mind, and which accumulate in vain and are ever inadequate. The water at the base of these rocks is now a transparent emerald, reflecting the tints of topaz and amethyst; again a liquid diamond, changing its hue according to the shifting influences of rock and depth; or again a flashing diadem, glittering with the splendor of this divine effulgence.
BY AUGUSTUS J. C. HARE
The Island of Capri (in the dialect of the people Crapi), the ancient Capreae, is a huge limestone rock, a continuation of the mountain range which forms the southern boundary of the Bay of Naples. Legend says that it was once inhabited by a people called Teleboae, subject to a king called Telon. Augustus took possession of Capreae as part of the imperial domains, and repeatedly visited it. His stepson Tiberius (A.D. 27) established his permanent residence on the island, and spent the latter years of his life there, abandoning himself to the voluptuous excesses which gave him the name of Caprineus....
The first point usually visited in Capri is the Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra), which is entered from the sea by an arch under the wall of limestone cliff, only available when the sea is perfectly calm. Visitors have to lie flat down in the boat, which is carried in by the wave and is almost level with the top of the arch. Then they suddenly find themselves in a magical scene. The water is liquid sapphire, and the whole rocky vaulting of the cavern shimmers to its inmost recesses with a pale blue light of marvelous beauty. A man stands ready to plunge into the water when the boats from the steamers arrive, and to swim about; his body, in the water, then sparkles like a sea-god with phosphorescent silver; his head, out of the water, is black like that of a Moor. Nothing can exaggerate the beauty of the Blue Grotto, and perhaps the effect is rather enhanced than spoiled by the shouting of the boatmen, the rush of boats to the entrance, the confusion on leaving and reaching the steamers.
That the Grotta Azzurra was known to the Romans is evinced by the existence of a subterranean passage, leading to it from the upper heights, and now blocked up; it was also well known in the seventeenth century, when it was described by Capraanica. There are other beautiful grottoes in the cliffs surrounding the island, the most remarkable being the natural tunnel called the Green Grotto (Grotta Verde), under the southern rocks, quite as splendid in color as the Grotta Azzurra itself—a passage through the rocks, into which the boat glides (through no hole, as in the case of the Grotta Azzurra) into water of the most exquisite emerald. The late afternoon is the best time for visiting this grotto. Occasionally a small steamer makes the round of the island, stopping at the different caverns.
On landing at the Marina, a number of donkey women offer their services, and it will be well to accept them, for the ascent of about one mile, to the village of Capri is very hot and tiring. On the left we pass the Church of St. Costanzo, a very curious building with apse, cupola, stone pulpit, and several ancient marble pillars and other fragments taken from the palaces of Tiberius.
The little town of Capri, overhung on one side by great purple rocks, occupies a terrace on the high ridge between the two rocky promontories of the island. Close above the piazza stands the many-domed ancient church, like a mosque, and so many of the houses—sometimes of dazzling whiteness, sometimes painted in gay colors—have their own little domes, that the appearance is quite that of an oriental village, which is enhanced by the palm-trees which flourish here and there. In the piazza is a tablet to Major Hamill, who is buried in the church. He fell under French bayonets, when the troops of Murat, landing at Orico, recaptured the island, which had been taken from the French two years and a half before (May, 1806) by Sir Sidney Smith.
Through a low wide arch in the piazza is the approach to the principal hotels. There is a tiny English chapel. An ascent of half an hour by stony donkey-paths leads from Capri to the ruins called the Villa Tiberiana, on the west of the island, above a precipitous rock 700 feet high, which still bears the name of Il Salto....
The visitor who lingers in Capri may interest himself in tracing out the remains of all the twelve villas of Tiberius. A relief exhibiting Tiberius riding a led donkey, as modern travelers do now, was found on the island, and is now in the museum at Naples. Capri has a delightful winter climate, and is most comfortable as a residence. The natives are quite unlike the Neapolitans, pleasant and civil in their manners, and full of courtesies to strangers. The women are frequently beautiful.
BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
We have been to see Pompeii, and are waiting now for the return of spring weather, to visit, first, Paestum, and then the islands; after which we shall return to Rome. I was astonished at the remains of this city; I had no conception of anything so perfect yet remaining. My idea of the mode of its destruction was this: First, an earthquake shattered it, and unroofed almost all its temples, and split its columns; then a rain of light small pumice-stones fell; then torrents of boiling water, mixed with ashes, filled up all its crevices. A wide, flat hill, from which the city was excavated, is now covered by thick woods, and you see the tombs and the theaters, the temples and the houses, surrounded by the uninhabited wilderness.
We entered the town from the side toward the sea, and first saw two theaters; one more magnificent than the other, strewn with the ruins of the white marble which formed their seats and cornices, wrought with deep, bold sculpture. In the front, between the stage and the seats, is the circular space, occasionally occupied by the chorus. The stage is very narrow, but long, and divided from this space by a narrow enclosure parallel to it, I suppose for the orchestra. On each side are the consuls' boxes, and below, in the theater at Herculaneum, were found two equestrian statues of admirable workmanship, occupying the same place as the great bronze lamps did at Drury Lane. The smallest of the theaters is said to have been comic, tho I should doubt. From both you see, as you sit on the seats, a prospect of the most wonderful beauty.
You then pass through the ancient streets; they are very narrow, and the houses rather small, but all constructed on an admirable plan, especially for this climate. The rooms are built round a court, or sometimes two, according to the extent of the house. In the midst is a fountain, sometimes surrounded with a portico, supported on fluted columns of white stucco; the floor is paved with mosaic, sometimes wrought in imitation of vine leaves, sometimes in quaint figures, and more or less beautiful, according to the rank of the inhabitant. There were paintings on all, but most of them have been removed to decorate the royal museums. Little winged figures, and small ornaments of exquisite elegance, yet remain. There is an ideal life in the forms of these paintings of an incomparable loveliness, tho most are evidently the work of very inferior artists. It seems as if, from the atmosphere of mental beauty which surrounded them, every human being caught a splendor not his own.
In one house you see how the bed-rooms were managed; a small sofa was built up, where the cushions were placed; two pictures, one representing Diana and Endymion, the other Venus and Mars, decorate the chamber; and a little niche, which contains the statue of a domestic god. The floor is composed of a rich mosaic of the rarest marbles, agate, jasper, and porphyry; it looks to the marble fountain and the snow-white columns, whose entablatures strew the floor of the portico they supported. The houses have only one story, and the apartments, tho not large, are very lofty. A great advantage results from this, wholly unknown in our cities.
The public buildings, whose ruins are now forests, as it were, of white fluted columns, and which then supported entablatures, loaded with sculptures, were seen on all sides over the roofs of the houses. This was the excellence of the ancients. Their private expenses were comparatively moderate; the dwelling of one of the chief senators of Pompeii is elegant indeed, and adorned with most beautiful specimens of art, but small. But their public buildings are everywhere marked by the bold and grand designs of an unsparing magnificence. In the little town of Pompeii (it contained about twenty thousand inhabitants), it is wonderful to see the number and the grandeur of their public buildings. Another advantage, too, is that, in the present case, the glorious scenery around is not shut out, and that, unlike the inhabitants of the Cimmerian ravines of modern cities, the ancient Pompeiians could contemplate the clouds and the lamps of heaven; could see the moon rise high behind Vesuvius, and the sun set in the sea, tremulous with an atmosphere of golden vapor, between Inarime and Misenum.
We next saw the temples. Of the temples of Aesculapius little remains but an altar of black stone, adorned with a cornice imitating the scales of a serpent. His statue, in terra-cotta, was found in the cell. The temple of Isis is more perfect. It is surrounded by a portico of fluted columns, and in the area around it are two altars, and many ceppi for statues; and a little chapel of white stucco, as hard as stone, of the most exquisite proportion; its panels are adorned with figures in bas-relief, slightly indicated, but of a workmanship the most delicate and perfect that can be conceived.
They are Egyptian subjects, executed by a Greek artist, who has harmonized all the unnatural extravagances of the original conception into the supernatural loveliness of his country's genius. They scarcely touch the ground with their feet, and their wind-uplifted robes seem in the place of wings. The temple in the midst raised on a high platform, and approached by steps, was decorated with exquisite paintings, some of which we saw in the museum at Portici. It is small, of the same materials as the chapel, with a pavement of mosaic, and fluted Ionic columns of white stucco, so white that it dazzles you to look at it.
Thence through the other porticos and labyrinths of walls and columns (for I can not hope to detail everything to you), we came to the Forum. This is a large square, surrounded by lofty porticos of fluted columns, some broken, some entire, their entablatures strewed under them. The temple of Jupiter, of Venus, and another temple, the Tribunal, and the Hall of Public Justice, with their forest of lofty columns, surround the Forum. Two pedestals or altars of an enormous size (for, whether they supported equestrian statues, or were the altars of the temple of Venus, before which they stand, the guide could not tell), occupy the lower end of the Forum. At the upper end, supported on an elevated platform, stands the temple of Jupiter. Under the colonnade of its portico we sat and pulled out our oranges, and figs, and bread, and medlars (sorry fare, you will say), and rested to eat.
Here was a magnificent spectacle. Above and between the multitudinous shafts of the sun-shining columns was seen the sea, reflecting the purple heaven of noon above it, and supporting, as it were, on its line the dark lofty mountains of Sorrento, of a blue inexpressibly deep, and tinged toward their summits with streaks of new-fallen snow. Between was one small green island. To the right was Capreae, Inarime, Prochyta, and Misenum. Behind was the single summit of Vesuvius, rolling forth volumes of thick white smoke, whose foam-like column was sometimes darted into the clear dark sky, and fell in little streaks along the wind. Between Vesuvius and the nearer mountains, as through a chasm, was seen the main line of the loftiest Apennines, to the east.
The day was radiant and warm. Every now and then we heard the subterranean thunder of Vesuvius; its distant deep peals seemed to shake the very air and light of day, which interpenetrated our frames with the sullen and tremendous sound. This sound was what the Greeks beheld (Pompeii, you know, was a Greek city). They lived in harmony with nature; and the interstices of their incomparable columns were portals, as it were, to admit the spirit of beauty which animates this glorious universe to visit those whom it inspired. If such is Pompeii, what was Athens? What scene was exhibited from the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the temples of Hercules, and Theseus, and the Winds? The island and the AEgean sea, the mountains of Argolis, and the peaks of Pindus and Olympus, and the darkness of the Boeotian forests interspersed?
From the Forum we went to another public place; a triangular portico, half enclosing the ruins of an enormous temple. It is built on the edge of the hill overlooking the sea. That black point is the temple. In the apex of the triangle stands an altar and a fountain, and before the altar once stood the statue of the builder of the portico. Returning hence, and following the consular road, we came to the eastern gate of the city. The walls are of an enormous strength, and enclose a space of three miles. On each side of the road beyond the gate are built the tombs. How unlike ours! They seem not so much hiding-places for that which must decay, as voluptuous chambers for immortal spirits. They are of marble, radiantly white; and two, especially beautiful, are loaded with exquisite bas-reliefs. On the stucco-wall that encloses them are little emblematic figures, of a relief exceedingly low, of dead and dying animals, and little winged genii, and female forms bending in groups in some funereal office. The high reliefs represent, one a nautical subject, and the other a Bacchanalian one.
Within the cell stand the cinerary urns, sometimes one, sometimes more. It is said that paintings were found within, which are now, as has been everything movable in Pompeii, removed, and scattered about in royal museums. These tombs were the most impressive things of all. The wild woods surround them on either side; and along the broad stones of the paved road which divides them, you hear the late leaves of autumn shiver and rustle in the stream of the inconstant wind, as it were, like the step of ghosts. The radiance and magnificence of these dwellings of the dead, the white freshness of the scarcely-finished marble, the impassioned or imaginative life of the figures which adorn them, contrast strangely with the simplicity of the houses of those who were living when Vesuvius overwhelmed them.
I have forgotten the amphitheater, which is of great magnitude, tho much inferior to the Coliseum. I now understand why the Greeks were such great poets; and, above all, I can account, it seems to me, for the harmony, the unity, the perfection, the uniform excellence, of all their works of art. They lived in a perpetual commerce with external nature, and nourished themselves upon the spirit of its forms. Their theaters were all open to the mountains and the sky. Their columns, the ideal types of a sacred forest, with its roof of interwoven tracery, admitted the light and wind; the odor and the freshness of the country penetrated the cities. Their temples were mostly upaithric; and the flying clouds, the stars, or the deep sky, were seen above.
OTHER ITALIAN SCENES
BY CHARLES DICKENS
I had been half afraid to go to Verona, lest it should at all put me out of conceit with Romeo and Juliet. But, I was no sooner come into the old Market-place, than the misgiving vanished. It is so fanciful, quaint, and picturesque a place, formed by such an extraordinary and rich variety of fantastic buildings, that there could be nothing better at the core of even this romantic town; scene of one of the most romantic and beautiful of stories.
It was natural enough, to go straight from the Market-place, to the House of the Capulets, now degenerated into a most miserable little inn. Noisy vetturini and muddy market-carts were disputing possession of the yard, which was ankle-deep in dirt, with a brood of splashed and bespattered geese; and there was a grim-visaged dog, viciously panting in a doorway, who would certainly have had Romeo by the leg, the moment he put it over the wall, if he had existed and been at large in those times. The orchard fell into other hands, and was parted off many years ago; but there used to be one attached to the house—or at all events there may have been—and the Hat (Cappello), the ancient cognizance of the family, may still be seen, carved in stone, over the gateway of the yard. The geese, the market-carts, their drivers, and the dog, were somewhat in the way of the story, it must be confessed; and it would have been pleasanter to have found the house empty, and to have been able to walk through the disused rooms. But the Hat was unspeakably comfortable; and the place where the garden used to be, hardly less so. Besides, the house is a distrustful, jealous-looking house as one would desire to see, tho of a very moderate size. So I was quite satisfied with it, as the veritable mansion of old Capulet, and was correspondingly grateful in my acknowledgments to an extremely unsentimental middle-aged lady, the Padrona of the Hotel, who was lounging on the threshold looking at the geese.
From Juliet's home, to Juliet's tomb, is a transition as natural to the visitor, as to fair Juliet herself, or to the proudest Juliet that ever has taught the torches to burn bright in any time. So, I went off, with a guide, to an old, old garden, once belonging to an old, old convent, I suppose; and being admitted, at a shattered gate, by a bright-eyed woman who was washing clothes, went down some walks where fresh plants and young flowers were prettily growing among fragments of old wall, and ivy-covered mounds; and was shown a little tank, or water-trough, which the bright-eyed woman—drying her arms upon her 'kerchief—called "La tomba di Giulietta la sfortunata." With the best disposition in the world to believe, I could do no more than believe that the bright-eyed woman believed; so I gave her that much credit, and her customary fee in ready money. It was a pleasure, rather than a disappointment, that Juliet's resting-place was forgotten. However consolatory it may have been to Yorick's Ghost, to hear the feet upon the pavement overhead, and, twenty times a day, the repetition of his name, it is better for Juliet to lie out of the track of tourists, and to have no visitors but such as come to graves in spring-rain, and sweet air, and sunshine.
Pleasant Verona! With its beautiful old palaces, and charming country in the distance, seen from terrace walks, and stately, balustraded galleries. With its Roman gates, still spanning the fair street, and casting, on the sunlight of to-day, the shade of fifteen hundred years ago. With its marble-fitted churches, lofty towers, rich architecture, and quaint old quiet thoroughfares, where shouts of Montagues and Capulets once resounded.
And made Verona's ancient citizens Cast by their grave, beseeming ornaments, To wield old partisans.
With its fast-rushing river, picturesque old bridge, great castle, waving cypresses, and prospect so delightful, and so cheerful! Pleasant Verona! In the midst of it, in the Piazza di Bra—a spirit of old time among the familiar realities of the passing hour—is the great Roman Amphitheater. So well preserved, and carefully maintained, that every row of seats is there, unbroken. Over certain of the arches, the old Roman numerals may yet be seen; and there are corridors, and staircases, and subterranean passages for beasts, and winding ways, above ground and below, as when the fierce thousands hurried in and out, intent upon the bloody shows of the arena. Nestling in some of the shadows and hollow places of the walls, now, are smiths with their forges, and a few small dealers of one kind or other; and there are green weeds, and leaves, and grass, upon the parapet. But little else is greatly changed.
When I had traversed all about it, with great interest, and had gone up to the topmost round of seats, and turning from the lovely panorama closed in by the distant Alps, looked down into the building, it seemed to lie before me like the inside of a prodigious hat of plaited straw, with an enormously broad brim and a shallow crown; the plaits being represented by the four-and-forty rows of seats. The comparison is a homely and fantastic one, in sober remembrance and on paper, but it was irresistibly suggested at the moment, nevertheless.
BY THEOPHILE GAUTIER
Padua is an ancient city and exhibits a rather respectable appearance against the horizon with its bell-turrets, its domes, and its old walls upon which myriads of lizards run and frisk in the sun. Situated near a center which attracts life to itself, Padua is a dead city with an almost deserted air. Its streets, bordered by two rows of low arcades, in nowise recall the elegant and charming architecture of Venice. The heavy, massive structures have a serious, somewhat crabbed aspect, and its somber porticos in the lower stories of the houses resemble black mouths which yawn with ennui.
We were conducted to a big inn, established probably in some ancient palace, and whose great halls, dishonored by vulgar uses, had formerly seen better company. It was a real journey to go from the vestibule to our room by a host of stairways and corridors; a map of Ariadne's thread would have been needed to find one's way back. Our windows opened upon a very pleasant view; a river flows at the foot of the wall—the Brenta or the Bacchiglione, I know not which, for both water Padua. The banks of this watercourse were adorned with old houses and long walls, and trees, too, overhung the banks; some rather picturesque rows of piles, from which the fishermen cast their lines with that patience characteristic of them in all countries; huts with nets and linen hanging from the windows to dry, formed under the sun's rays a very pretty subject for a water-color.
After dinner we went to the Cafe Pedrocchi, celebrated throughout all Italy for its magnificence. Nothing could be more monumentally classic. There are nothing but pillars, columnets, ovolos, and palm leaves of the Percier and Fontain kind, the whole very fine and lavish of marble. What was most curious was some immense maps forming a tapestry and representing the different divisions of the world on an enormous scale. This somewhat pedantic decoration gives to the hall an academic air; and one is surprized not to see a chair in place of the bar, with a professor in his gown in place of a dispenser of lemonade.
The University of Padua was formerly famous. In the thirteenth century eighteen thousand young men, a whole people of scholars, followed the lessons of the learned professors, among whom later Galileo figured, one of whose bones is preserved there as a relic, a relic of a martyr who suffered for the truth. The facade of the University is very beautiful; four Doric columns give it a severe and monumental air; but solitude reigns in the class-rooms where to-day scarcely a thousand students can be reckoned....
We paid a visit to the Cathedral dedicated to Saint Anthony, who enjoys at Padua the same reputation as Saint Januarius at Naples. He is the "genius loci," the Saint venerated above all others. He used to perform not less than thirty miracles each day, if Casanova is to be believed. Such a performance fairly earned for him his surname of Thaumaturge, but this prodigious zeal has fallen off greatly. Nevertheless, the reputation of the saint has not suffered, and so many masses are paid for at his altar that the number of the priests of the cathedral and of days in the year are not sufficient. To liquidate the accounts, the Pope has granted permission, at the end of the year, for masses to be said, each, one of which is of the value of a thousand; in this fashion Saint Anthony is saved from being bankrupt to his faithful devotees.
On the place which adjoins the cathedral, a beautiful equestrian statue by Donatello, in bronze, rises to view, the first which had been cast since the days of antiquity, representing a leader of banditti: Gattamelata, a brigand who surely did not deserve that honor. But the artist has given him a superb bearing and a spirited figure with his baton of a Roman emperor, and it is entirely sufficient....
One thing which must not be neglected in passing through Padua is a visit to the old Church of the Arena, situated at the rear of a garden of luxuriant vegetation, where it would certainly not be conjectured to be located unless one were advised of the fact. It is entirely painted in its interior by Giotto. Not a single column, not a single rib, nor architectural division interrupts that vast tapestry of frescoes. The general aspect is soft, azure, starry, like a beautiful, calm sky; ultramarine dominates; thirty compartments of large dimensions, indicated by simple lines, contain the life of the Virgin and of her Divine Son in all their details; they might be called illustrations in miniature of a gigantic missal. The personages, by naive anachronisms very precious for history, are clothed in the mode of the times in which Giotto painted.
Below these compositions of the purest religious feeling, a painted plinth shows the seven deadly sins symbolized in an ingenious manner, and other allegorical figures of a very good style; a Paradise and a Hell, subjects which greatly imprest the minds of the artists of that epoch, complete this marvelous whole. There are in these paintings weird and touching details; children issue from their little coffins to mount to Paradise with a joyous ardor, and launch themselves forth to go to play upon the blossoming turf of the celestial garden; others stretch forth their hands to their half-resurrected mothers. The remark may also be made that all the devils and vices are obese, while the angels and virtues are thin and slender. The painter wishes to mark the preponderance of matter in the one class and of spirit in the other.
BY THEOPHILE GAUTIER
Ferrara rises solitary in the midst of a flat country more rich than picturesque. When one enters it by the broad street which leads to the square, the aspect of the city is imposing and monumental. A palace with a grand staircase occupies a corner of this vast square; it might be a court-house or a town hall, for people of all classes were entering and departing through its wide doors....
The castle of the ancient dukes of Ferrara, which is to be found a little farther on, has a fine feudal aspect. It is a vast collection of towers joined together by high walls crowned with a battlement forming a cornice, and which emerge from a great moat full of water, over which one enters by a protected bridge. The castle, built wholly of brick or of stones reddened by the sun, has a vermilion tint which deprives it of its imposing effect. It is too much like a decoration of a melodrama.
It was in this castle that the famous Lucretia Borgia lived, whom Victor Hugo has made such a monster for us, and whom Ariosto depicts as a model of chastity, grace and virtue; that blonde Lucretia who wrote letters breathing the purest love, and some of whose hair, fine as silk and shining as gold, Byron possest. It was there that the dramas of Tasso and Ariosto and Guarini were played; there that those brilliant orgies took place, mingled with poisonings and assassinations, which characterized that learned and artistic, refined and criminal, period of Italy.
It is the custom to pay a pious visit to the problematical dungeon in which Tasso, mad with love and grief, passed so many years, according to the poetic legend which grew up concerning his misfortune. We did not have time to spare and we regretted it very little. This dungeon, a perfectly correct sketch of which we have before our eyes, consists only of four walls, ceiled by a low arch. At the back is to be seen a window grated by heavy bars and a door with big bolts. It is quite unlikely that in this obscure hole, tapestried with cobwebs, Tasso could have worked and retouched his poem, composed sonnets, and occupied himself with small details of toilet, such as the quality of the velvet of his cap and the silk of his stockings, and with kitchen details, such as with what kind of sugar he ought to powder his salad, that which he had not being fine enough for his liking. Neither did we see the house of Ariosto, another required pilgrimage. Not to speak of the little faith which one should place in these unauthenticated traditions, in these relics without character, we prefer to seek Ariosto in the "Orlando Furioso," and Tasso in the "Jerusalem Delivree" or in the fine drama of Goethe.
The life of Ferrara is concentrated on the Plaza Nuova, in front of the church and in the neighborhood of the castle. Life has not yet abandoned this heart of the city; but in proportion as one moves away from it, it becomes more feeble, paralysis begins, death gains; silence, solitude, and grass invade the streets; one feels that one is wandering about a Thebes peopled with ghosts of the past and from which the living have evaporated like water which has dried up. There is nothing more sad than to see the corpse of a dead city slowly falling into dust in the sun and rain. One at least buries human bodies.
BY VICTOR TISSOT
On emerging from the second tunnel, beyond a wild and narrow gorge, there lies suddenly before us, as in a gorgeous fairyland or in the landscape of a dream, the blue expanse of Lake Lugano, with its setting of green meadows and purple mountains, with the many-colored village spires, and the great white fronts of the hotels and villas. Oh, what a wonderful picture!
We feel as if we were going down into an enchanted garden that has been hidden by the great snowy walls of the Alps. The air is full of the perfume of roses and jessamine. The hedges are in flower, butterflies are dancing, insects are humming, birds are singing. Up above, in the mountain, is snow, ice, winter, and silence; here there is sunshine, life, joy, love—all the living delights of spring and summer. Golden harvests are shining on the plains, and the lake in the distance is like a piece of the sky brought down to earth.
Lugano is already Italy, not only because of the richness of the soil and the magnificence of the vegetation, but also as regards the language, the manners, and the picturesque costumes. In each valley the dress is different; in one place the women wear a short skirt, an apron held in by a girdle, and a bright colored bodice; in another they wear a cap above which is a large shady hat; in the Val Maroblio they have a woolen dress not very different from that of the Capuchins.
The men have not the square figure, the slow, heavy walk of the people of Basle and Lucerne; they are brisk, vigorous, easy; and the women have something of the wavy suppleness of vine branches twining among the trees. These people have the happy, childlike joyousness, the frank good-nature, of those who live in the open air, who do not shut themselves up in their houses, but grow freely like the flowers under the strong, glowing sunshine.
At every street corner sellers are sitting behind baskets of extraordinary vegetables and magnificent fruit; and under the arcades that run along the houses, big grocers in shirt sleeves come at intervals to their shop doors to take breath, like hippopotami coming out of the water for the same purpose. In this town, ultramontane in its piety, the bells of churches and convents are sounding all day long, and women are seen going to make their evening prayer together in the nearest chapel.
But if the fair sex in Lugano are diligent in frequenting the churches, they by no means scorn the cafes. After sunset the little tables that are all over the great square are surrounded by an entire population of men and women. How gay and amusing those Italian cafes are! full of sound and color, with their red and blue striped awnings, their advance guard of little tables under the shade of the orange-trees, and their babbling, stirring, gesticulating company. The waiters, in black vests and leather slippers, a corner of their apron tucked up in their belt, run with the speed of kangaroos, carrying on metal plates syrups of every shade, ices, sweets in red, yellow, or green pyramids. Between seven and nine o'clock the whole society of Lugano defiles before you. There are lawyers with their wives, doctors with their daughters, bankers, professors, merchants, public officials, with whom are sometimes misted stout, comfortable, jovial-looking canons, wrapping themselves in the bitter smoke of a regalia, as in a cloud of incense.