LITERATURE AND NATIONAL POLICY.
Vol. II—OCTOBER, 1862.—No. IV.
'THE CONSTITUTION AS IT IS—THE UNION AS IT WAS.'
This has been a pet phrase, in certain quarters, ever since the rebellion broke out. The men who use it are doubtless well aware of the prodigious power of such cries adroitly raised. The history of their influence over the unreflecting masses in all ages would be one of the most curious chapters in the history of human nature.
The phrase has a grand air. Its words are brave words to conjure with. It is susceptible of a good and loyal sense. It may mean, restore the supremacy of the Constitution and the integrity of the Union by crushing this atrocious rebellion to utter extinction by force of arms. It may mean that all the revolted States are to be brought back into the Union and under the authority of the Constitution by military subjugation. It may mean this, though it is certainly not a short or strong way of expressing the only thing which patriotic men have now to think of, to wish done, and to help do; and I do not believe any man of strong, clear head or right loyal heart would take this way of expressing it. Still, it may mean this; but if it does not mean this, it means nothing pertinent to exigency, nothing patriotic, nothing loyal.
But is this what they mean who trade with it now? No—nothing of the sort. They use it to distract and perplex the public mind; to draw it off from the one paramount obligation which the times impose upon the nation—the obligation of saving the national existence by the military extinction of the rebellion, regardless of all other ends and aims. They trade upon the popular reverence for the Constitution—that sense of its sacredness which lies so deep in the heart of the North. They do it to mislead the honest masses, whose hearts are mainly right, but whose heads—some of them, but, thank God! not many now—are not so clear to see the miserable fallacy of its application. They make it a text and pretext for inveighing against the government, and so weakening its hold on the popular confidence and support; for raising seditious outcries against any restriction of the license to talk and print treason—what they call tyrannical oppression of the freedom of speech and of the press. They know perfectly well that not a thousandth part of the toleration which traitorous talking and printing enjoy at the North—through the extraordinary and amazing leniency of the Government—is for one moment granted to Union sympathizers by rebel authorities in the South. They never have a word to say against the way in which loyalty to the Union is there crushed down by imprisonment, banishment, confiscation, and hanging. They have never a word to say against the brutal and fiendish atrocities of cruelty perpetrated there upon all who are even suspected of Union sentiments. They reserve all their indignation for the moderate repression which our Administration has seen fit, in some cases, to apply to traitorous utterances. They have even risen to the sublime impudence of denouncing it as a monstrous outrage on the constitutional rights of Northern traitors, that our Government has declined, in a few instances, to allow the United States mail to be the agent for transporting and circulating treasonable newspapers. I have quite lately been edified with the tone of lofty, indignant scorn with which one of these papers—published in the city of New-York—cries shame on the Government for refusing to be its carrier; though no man knows better than the editor that a publication at the South as much in sympathy with the Union as his is with the rebellion, would not only not get carried in the rebel mails, but, before twenty-four hours, would be suppressed, and its editor in prison, or more probably hung, by the direction or with the approbation of the rebel authorities; and in such a case, our New-York editor would not have space for a line to chronicle the fact, or for a word to denounce it to Northern indignation. But for our Government to decline carrying his treasonable sheet—that is monstrous! Behold him, a confessor in the sacred cause of freedom of speech and of the press! He will not succumb to unconstitutional tyranny! He will continue to print in spite of Government, and to send his treason through the land by the express companies, until the millennial day of the restoration of 'the Constitution as it is, the Union as it was!'
The men who utter this phrase talk, too, about the constitutional rights of the rebels—just as if those who are waging war for the overthrow of the Constitution had any rights under it! Such talk is an outrage on common-sense and decency. What constitutional rights have rebels in arms to any thing, but to be fairly tried for treason, to the forfeiture of their lives, if they escape merited death on the battle-field?
These out-criers for the Constitution and the Union strive also to confuse the public mind with constitutional questions as to the end or purpose of the war. What has the Constitution to do with that? What constitutional object is there for the nation or the Government to have now in view? This, and this only: the extinction of the rebellion by force of arms. Conventions, negotiations, concessions to rebels in arms—even if they were in arms for rights under the Constitution—would be utterly unconstitutional; much more are they so when the rebels are in arms not to vindicate constitutional rights, but for the overthrow of the Constitution, the destruction of the Government, and the dismemberment of the nation. They must lay down their arms in unconditional submission before they can be constitutionally treated with. Any other doctrine would be subversive of the Constitution, of the principles that lie at its basis, of the principles of all government, all national existence, and all social order.
The Government may be driven, by the victorious pressure of rebel arms, to the overwhelming necessity of treating with them. Necessity has no laws. But until then, to talk of treating with armed rebels is as treasonable as it is absurd. Until then, there is no other object allowed by the Constitution, no other obligation imposed by it on the Government, but the military subjugation of the rebellion. The Constitution gives the Government this power, and no other—puts upon it this duty, and no other.
And as to constitutional modes of conducting the war: are the men who raise questions, and suggest scruples, so stupid as not to know that, so far as the rebels are concerned, such a way of talking is the sheerest of all possible absurdities? The war power is a power conferred by the Constitution; but it is a power which, in face of an enemy, is above all other constitutional powers. In granting the war power to Government, the Constitution grants to it, without qualification or limitation, all the powers necessary and proper to carry on war; this, of course, even if there were no plain delegation of them. But there is; and the only laws which limit the constitutional powers of Government in the conduct of the war, are the laws of war. These laws lie outside of the Constitution, in the consent and recognition of civilized nations. They are now the supreme laws. All this, for the sufficient reason that the constitutional grant of the war power under any other limitation than the laws of war, would be idle and nugatory; and this for the sufficient reason that the salvation of the republic is that to which every thing else must be sacrificed. The constitutional guaranties of State and personal rights were framed for a condition of union, order, peace—not for one of secession, rebellion, and war. In such a time, they must all give way to the supreme necessity of saving the national existence. Constitution or no Constitution, the nation must not be destroyed. Who but a fool would question the right of a man to strike a dagger to the heart of the assassin whose grasp was on his throat, because there is a law against the private use of deadly weapons? The clutch of a parricidal rebellion is grappling at the national existence, and what shall we think of those men who would stay the arm of Government from stabbing at its vitals by interposing constitutional scruples? Even if the Constitution did stand in the way, who but a fool or a traitor would hesitate to go around it or over it to save the national existence? Salus reipublicae suprema lex. Was the nation made for the Constitution, or the Constitution for the nation? If both can not stand together, which shall go down? Will you stick to the Constitution, and let the nation be destroyed? Any thing more insanely preposterous than such a putting of the wrong thing foremost, such a preference of the means to the end, is hard to be imagined.
But the Constitution does not stand in the way. Neither in letter nor in spirit does it interpose a feather's resistance to the most summary and effectual extinction of the rebellion. On the contrary, it justifies the use of all the means sanctioned by the laws of war. It justifies, and, if need be, demands, the receiving, employing, and arming of all the loyal inhabitants of the South held in slavery under local laws, whether by rebel or by loyal masters. What the former might think or say, need not be asked or cared for; and the latter can not, in loyalty, object to the taking of their slaves for the defence of the nation, if military reasons make it needful or wise to do it. If employed, these slaves must be freed, and their masters must receive compensation at the hands of Government. To this, if their loyalty be any thing but an empty name, they will consent. If the extinction of slavery should be the ultimate result, what then? Is slavery so sacred and beneficent, that a triumphant rebellion and a dismembered country are to be preferred to its extinction? The loyal people of the North—the great body of the nation—are getting tired of that conditional Unionism, that Border State loyalty, which makes a paramount regard to the interests of slavery the price of adhering to the national cause. Conditional Unionism—what sort of Unionism is that? Loyalty with a price—what is such loyalty worth? The very terms imply threats, and involve the assertion of the very principle of secession itself. To treat with it, to concede to it, is to admit the principle. It has already cost the country too dearly to be longer endured. Six hundred millions of dollars and a hundred thousand lives vainly sacrificed to the foolish policy, are enough. It helps the cause of rebellion, it paralyzes the arm of Government. The people have become sternly impatient of it. The sooner President Lincoln, in his quality of Commander-in-Chief, understands this, and makes the Border State Unionists understand that every thing must give way to the necessity of putting an end to the rebellion forthwith by the employment of all the means which God and nature have put in our power, the better it will be for him, the better for the nation, and the better for the Border States themselves, if they are wise. I think that when firmly told there must be an end to this conditional Unionism, this loyalty with a price, those States will have the wisdom to see on which side their real interests lie. But, at all events, the question should be settled. Better they should go over to the rebels at once, than prevent the extinction of the rebellion through their conditional Unionism.
But it is with Northern out-criers for the Constitution and the Union that the present inquiry is chiefly concerned. These men want the Union 'as it was.' What was it? What was it, in the only thing that is in their thoughts and wishes when they raise the cry? It was a Union controlled by the South through alliance with a Northern party styling itself Democratic. It was the whole power of the Federal Government wielded for the aggrandizement of slavery, its extension and perpetual maintenance as an element of political domination. This is what the Union was. This is what these Democrats want again—in order that they may again enjoy such a share (never an equal one) in the honors and emoluments of office as their oligarchic masters may allow them. This is all they think of or desire when they cry for the Union as it was—a chance for loaves and fishes again at the hands of those who for thirty years have used them and despised them. They want to be used and despised again. Hence, though they talk about putting an end to the rebellion, they want it put an end to only in such a way as shall secure the restoration of the slave power to its old position, and of themselves to their old relations with it. This would set them up in their business again. They are out of business now.
Hence, while Governor Stanly, in North-Carolina, is telling the people there that the rebellion must be crushed though it involve the destruction 'of every Southern institution,' and that the maintenance of the supremacy of the National Government and the integrity of the national domain is worth more than all the lives and all the property of rebels of whatever sort; and while Andrew Johnson is declaring the same thing in Tennessee, these Northern traitors are speaking tenderly of the rebellion as an 'irregular opposition'—excited and almost justified by Northern aggressions on Southern rights—which ought to be so met on our part as not to preclude the South from a return to its ancient domination. They insist that the struggle shall be conducted with the least possible 'irritation' of rebel feelings and with a sacred regard to their slave rights. They bewail the enormities perpetrated by Congress and the President against the rebels, the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, the receiving and feeding of fugitive slaves, the employment of negroes as Government teamsters, the repeal in the Senate of the law prohibiting free negroes to carry the mail, the legalizing of the testimony of blacks, the attempt 'to create an Abolition party in the Border States' by the offer of compensation to the owners in such States as may adopt the policy of emancipation, and lastly, the Confiscation Act, which takes away the property of rebels and sets free their slaves. These things they denounce in the bitterest terms—some of them as 'wounding to the sensibilities of the South,' and some of them as atrocious outrages on the rights of the rebels, calculated to drive them to such 'desperation' that they will never consent, on any entreaty of their Northern friends, to accept their old position of political control in the 'Union as it was.'
Some of these men talk, indeed, of putting down the rebellion by the strong arm; but they talk a great deal more of putting down Abolitionism—which with them means not only hostility to slavery, but even the disposition to acquiesce in the military necessity of its extinction. They sometimes go to the length of talking of 'hanging the secessionists;' but then, you will observe, they always talk of hanging the 'Abolitionists' along with them. They want them to dangle at the other end of the same rope. It is easy, however, to perceive that the hanging of the secessionists is not the emphatic thing—with many not even the real thing, but only an ebullition of vexation at them for having spoiled the old Democratic trade—a figurative hanging—often, indeed, only a rhetorical tub thrown out prudentially to the popular whale, who might not be quite content to hear them talk of hanging only on one side: but the hanging of the Abolitionists, there is no mistaking their feelings about that; there is a hearty smack of malignant relish on their lips when they speak of it.
These men are as foolish as they are traitorous in their cry for the Union as it was. The Union 'as it was' is a thing that never can be again. They say the South wants nothing but guarantee for the security of its constitutional slave rights—if that had been given they would never have taken up arms; give them that and they will lay them down. Nothing more false. Just before the secession of South-Carolina, Pryor telegraphed from Washington: 'We can get the Crittenden Compromise, but we don't want it.' 'No matter what compromise the North offers,' said Mason, 'the South must find a way to defeat it.' These are facts undeniable and undenied. They demonstrate the falsehood and folly of the men who talk of bringing the rebels back into the Union by concessions. The South did not want guarantees; it wanted separation. It determined to set up an independent slave empire, and no concession you can make will lead them to abandon their determination. Undo the recent legislation of Congress, reestablish slavery in the District of Columbia, and repeal the prohibition of slavery in the Territories, and you make the Union 'as it was,' so far as the North is concerned; but will that bring back the South? No. Go still further, and make the Union more than 'it was' for them; yield them the principle of the Lemmon Case, and so allow them to call the roll of their slaves under the shadow of Bunker Hill, and to convert New-York Battery into a slave-mart for the convenience of slave-breeding Virginia and the slave-buying Gulf States; and will these concessions lead the rebels to lay down their arms and return into the Union? No. They will never lay down their arms until they are conquered by overwhelming military force. They will never be in the Union until subjugated. And I think the rebellion will never be extinguished without extinguishing slavery. Then, and not before, will the conditions begin to exist of lasting peace and true union between the South and the North. Then, and not before, will there be genuine prosperity, a true social order, and a decent civilization in the South.
And since 'the Union as it was' is a thing that never can be again, it is not worth while to concern ourselves overmuch about 'the Constitution as it is,' so far as those who raise the outcry for it have any determinate meaning in their cry. For here, too, the reestablishment of the political power of slavery is the only point in their view.
The Constitution—in its great substance, in its essential principles, in the general frame of government it establishes, in its organization of powers, in its main provisions, and in most of its details—is an instrument which probably few wise and patriotic Americans would care to see altered, and none would wish to see subverted. But the constitutions of all governments, written or unwritten, (and each sort has its special advantages and disadvantages,) are more or less subject to change—must change and should change—with the progress of society. The Constitution of the United States provides for its own amendment by the people by whom and for whom it was framed. Many amendments have already been made; more are likely in time to be found needful. And no one but a fool will swear blindly by 'the Constitution as it is,' if he is thereby to be precluded from voting for such improvements as time and circumstances may make important and desirable.
But these traitorous traders in the phrase have (as before said) but one single point in view. In the whole compass of the Constitution their devotion embraces nothing in their vows for its unchangeable sacredness except its recognition of slavery, its provisions for the rendition of fugitive slaves, and for counting five Southern chattels as three white citizens in the basis for Federal representation. These are provisions that must not be changed. This is what they mean, and all they mean, when they shout for 'the Constitution as it is.' So sacred is the Constitution in this one sole respect, that they have rung every change of protest—from solemn remonstrance to frantic howls of wrath—against the recent law for taking from rebels the slaves that dig trenches and grow food for them while they are fighting for the overthrow of the Constitution. And the only vision of a Constitution 'as it is' which looms up to their views and wishes in the future—'the Mecca of their hearts' fond dream'—is the overthrow of this legislation, and the reinstatement of slaveholders in their old rights fortified and extended by Supreme Court decisions carrying slavery and their slave laws into all the Territories, with the right of transit and sale for slaves in all the free States.
But most wise men believe that in the end of the war there is not likely to be much slavery to need constitutional protection. And since our nation at its very birth solemnly proclaimed the doctrine that of right 'all men are born free and equal' as before the law, and have an equal right 'to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,' perhaps these Democrats may be willing to let these provisions in behalf of slavery be dropped out of the Constitution when they shall have become no longer any thing but a dead letter—with no power of political victory and reward in them. As a living contradiction to the Declaration of Independence they have been the source of all our woes. It is not necessary to blame the framers of our Constitution for introducing them. They did it for the best, as they thought. They themselves hoped and believed the necessity for such provisions would long before this time cease to exist. They little dreamed what mighty mischiefs, what long contentions, what bitterness, what crimes, what bloody horrors they were entailing on their descendants. They little dreamed what a terrible Nemesis would so soon avenge the expedient and temporary introduction (as they thought) of a contradiction to the principles of liberty into the organic law of a free nation whose first foundations they themselves had laid in the solemn proclamation of man's inalienable rights.
Is it too much to hope that, by and by, when there shall (as God grant) no longer be any slavery to need protection, these Democrats will be willing that this contradiction should be removed, by making a slight alteration in 'the Constitution as it is'? Let us trust they will. It is true the Democratic party for twenty years has had but one single principle. Its whole life, activity, object, and occupation has centred and turned on the one sole point of upholding slavery, echoing its doctrines, asserting its rights, obeying its behests, extending its area, and aggrandizing its power; and so thoroughly imbued with the spirit of their Southern masters became the members of the party, that in ten years past I have found but few men calling themselves Democrats and acting with the party who were not in mind and heart, in principle and feeling, pro-slavery men! Pro-slavery Democrats! Four-cornered triangles! Square circles! So the sense of contradiction always struck me. Yet for most of them I could not feel any thing of that intense scorn with which John Randolph of Roanoke more than thirty years ago branded the Northern 'doughface' in Congress, when pointing his skinny finger at his sneaking victim, he exclaimed: 'Mr. Speaker, I envy neither the head nor the heart of the Northern man who rises here to defend slavery on principle.' I remembered the prodigiously demoralizing effect of slavery on the moral sense and sentiments. I remembered that the present generation of Democrats have been subjected to the influence of Southern masters who long ago out-grew and renounced the sentiments prevalent in the early days of John Randolph: and I have been charitable in most cases (not in all) to their inability to see the contradiction between the ideas of Democracy and Pro-Slaveryism. Let us hope for better things in time to come. With their bondage, their love of bondage will go. It has been passing from the hearts of the great, honest masses of them ever since Saint Sumter's Day.
MACCARONI AND CANVAS.
A ROMAN VETTURA.
If a man's mind and purse were in such state that he didn't care where he went, and was able to go there; if the weather was fine, and the aforesaid man could eat, drink, and sleep rough, and really loved picturesqueness in all his surroundings for its own sake—that man should travel by vettura. Not one of the vetture advertised by a Roman 'to go to all parts of the world;' not one of those traveling carriages with a seat for milady's maid and milord's man, with courier beside the driver and a vettura dog on top of the baggage, at the very sight of which, beggars spring from the ground as if by magic, and the customhouse officers assume airs of state. No, no, NO! What is meant by a vettura is a broken-down carriage, seats inside for four English or six Italians, a seat outside along with the driver for one American or three Italians, and places to hold on to, for two or three more, Italians. The harness of the horses consists of an originally leather harness, with rope commentaries, string emendations, twine notes, and ragged explanations of the primary work; in plain English, it's an edition of harness with nearly all the original leather expurgated.
Well, you enter into agreement with the compeller of horses, alias vetturino, to go to a certain town a certain distance from Rome. The vehicle he drives is popularly reported to leave regularly for that town; you know that regularly means regularly-uncertainly. You go and see the vetturino, say in that classic spot, the piazza Pollajuolo; you find him, after endless inquiries, in a short jacket, in a wine-shop, smoking a throat-scorcher of a short pipe, and you arrange with him as regards the fare, for he has different prices for different people. Little children and soldiers pay half-price, as you will read on your railroad ticket to Frascati, and priests pay what they please, foreigners all that can be squeezed out of them, and Italians at fixed price.
As for the horses that drag this vettura. Ola! I hope the crows will spare them one day longer. The long-suffering traveler pauses here, reader, wipes the dust from his brow, and exclaims:
'Blessed be bull-fights; for they use up that class of horses which in pious America drag oysters to their graves, and in papal Italy drag the natives to their lairs outside of Rome!'
You will toil along the dusty plain—hot, weary, worn-out—but anon you begin the ascent of the mountains; then, as you go up, the air grows purer and cooler. You descend from the vettura, and on foot tramp up the road, perhaps beside the driver, who is innately thankful to you for saving his horses a heavy pull; and with him, or a fellow-traveler, joke off the weary feeling you had in the low grounds. Again you are ascending a still steeper part of the mountain. Now oxen are attached to the old rumbling rattle-trap of a carriage, and it is creak, pull, yell, and cheer, until you find yourself above the clouds—serene and calm—away from dust, heat, turmoil, bustle, in an old locanda, in a shaded room, a flask of cool red wine before you, the south wind rustling the leaves in the lattice, the bell of the old Franciscan convent sending its clear silver notes away over valley and mountain from its sleepy old home under the chestnut trees, the crowing of cocks away down the mountain, the hum of bees in the flower-garden under the window—the blessed, holy calm of the country!
It is the end aimed at that makes vettura-traveling jolly, for it can well be imagined, as an Englishman justly said of it: 'It is just as good a vehicle to go to the gallows in, as any I've ever been in, I am sure.' But it is equally certain that the quiet joys revealed to the man who travels by it—always be it understood, the man who don't care where he goes or when he gets there—are many. These quiet joys consist of exquisite paintings, sketches, scenes, landscapes, or whatever else you choose to call them, wherein shrines, asterias or taverns, locandas or inns; costumes; shadow of grand old trees; the old Roman stone sarcophagus turned into a water-trough, into which falls the fountain, and where the tired horses thrust their dusty muzzles, drawing up water with a rattling noise, while the south wind plays through the trees, and they switch the flies from their flanks with their tails; the old priest, accosted by the three small boys—'they are asking his blessing,' said Miss Hicks—'they are asking him for a pinch of snuff,' said Caper—and when she saw him produce his snuff-box, she acquiesced; the wine-carts instead of swill-carts; the Italian peasants instead of Paddies; agriculture instead of commerce; churches and monasteries in place of cotton-mills; Roman watch-towers instead of factory-chimneys; trees instead of board-yards; vineyards and olive-groves in place of blue-grass and persimmon trees; golden oranges in place of crab-apples and choke-pears; zigarri scelti instead of Cabanas—but this is the reverse of the medal; let us stop before we ruin our first position.
It was warm in Rome. The English had fled. The Romans, pure blood, once more wandered toward sunset—not after it—on the Pincian Hill, and trod with solid step the gravel of Il Pincio Liberato. In the Spanish square around the fountain called Barcaccia, the lemonaders are encamped; a hint of lemon, a supposition of sugar, a certainty of water—what more can one expect for a baioccho? From midday until three o'clock in the afternoon, scarcely a place of business, store or shop, is open in Rome. The inhabitants are sleeping, clad as Monsieur Dubufe conceived the original Paradisians should be clad. At sunset, as you turn down the Via Condotti, you see chairs and tables placed outside the Cafe Greco for its frequenters. The interior rooms are too, too close. Even that penetralia, the 'Omnibus,' can not compare with the unwalled room outside, with its star-gemmed ceiling, and the cool breeze eddying away the segar-smoke; so its usual occupants are all outside.
At one of these tables sat Caper, Rocjean, and their mutual friend, Dexter—an animal painter—the three in council, discussing the question: 'Where shall we go this summer?' Rocjean strongly advocated the cause of a little town in the Volscian mountains, called Segni, assuring his friends that two artists of the French Academy had discovered it the summer before.
'And they told me,' he said, 'that they would have lived there until this time if they had had it in their power. Not that the scenery around there was any better, if so good, as at Subiaco, or even Gennezzano; but the wine was very cheap, and the cost of boarding at the locanda was only forty baiocchi a day——'
'We will go, we will go!' chimed in Caper.
'There were festivals in some of the neighboring towns nearly every week, and costumes——'
'Let us travel there,' said Caper, 'at once!'
'Horses were to be had for a song——'
'I am ready to sing,' remarked Dexter.
'There was good shooting; beccafichi, woodcock, and quails, also red-legged partridges——'
'Say no more,' spoke Caper, 'but let us secure seats in the next stage that starts for such game scenes—immediately!'
* * * * *
Matters were so well arranged by Rocjean, that three days after the above conversation, the three artists, with passports properly viseed, were waiting, toward sunset, in the Piazza Pollajuolo, for the time not advertised, but spoken of, by the vetturino Francesco as his hour for starting for Segni.
Our trio entered from the piazza, (every house in the environs of it being gayly decked outside with flying pennants, banners, standards, flags, in the shape of long shirts, short shirts, sheets, and stockings, hanging out to dry.) They entered the house, resembling a hen-house, where the vettura was reposing, and commenced a rigid examination of the old vehicle, which looked guilty and treacherous enough to have committed all kinds of break-downs and upsets in its day. While they were thus engaged, the driver and an assistant mounted to the top and made fast the baggage, covering it all with a rough reed matting, and tying it carefully on with cords, except a large-sized basket, which they let fall, striking Caper on one side of the head as it descended.
'Accidente!' yelled two voices from the top of the carriage. 'Santa Maria! Madonna mia! it isn't any thing, merely a bread-basket!' cried Francesco, who, delighted to find out he had not killed his passenger and so lost a scudo, at once harnessed in three horses abreast to the vettura, interspersing his performance with enough oaths and vulgarity to have lasted a small family of economical contadine for a week. One of his team, a mare named Filomena, he seemed to be particularly down on. She was evidently not of a sensitive disposition, or she might have revenged sundry defamations of her character with her heels. As it was, she only whinnied, and playfully took off the driver's cap with her teeth, lifting a few hairs with it.
'Signora diavola!' said Francesco, addressing the mare, and grabbing his cap from her teeth, 'this is an insult—an insult to ME! Recollect that when you are going up the mountain!'
'Come, Francesco, come!' said Rocjean, 'it's time to be off.'
'Ecco me qua, Signore, have patience a little minute, (piccolo momento,) and then, whew! but we'll fly!'
The trio were anxious to get off, for every now and then, from some third or fourth-story window, down would come waste water thus emptied into the street, and they were fearful that they might be deluged.
'Jump inside,' said Francesco, when he had the old vettura fairly in the street, 'then you may laugh at the cascades of Pollajuolo, seguro!'
Creak, bang! rumble, rattle; off they went, and were fairly under way, at last, for Segni. They passed out of Rome by the Porta San Giovanni, where their passports received a visto; and this being finished, again started, the vettura soon reaching the Campagna. It looked a fair and winning scene, as they saw far away its broad fields of ripe wheat swayed by the wind, and nodding all golden in the setting sun; herds of horses feeding on the bright green grass; the large grey oxen, black-eyed and branching-horned, following the mandarina or leading ox with his tinkling bell; the ruined aqueducts and Roman tombs; the distant mountains robed in purple mist; the blue-clothed contadini returning homewards. Yet this was where the malaria raged. As the road, after an hour's drive, gradually ascending, carried them into a purer and clearer air, and they felt its freshness invigorating mind and body, there broke out a merry spirit of fun with our trio, as, descending from the carriage, they walked up the steepest part of the ascent, laughing and joking, or stopping to note the glories of sunset over Rome, above which hung the dome of St. Peter's, grand in the golden haze.
They reached Colonna while the West was still flaming away, and found the red wine there cool, if nothing better, as they drank it by the fountain under the old trees. Then they mounted the vettura refreshed, and pushed on in the shadow of evening, under a long avenue of trees, and late into the night, until they reached Valmontone; and they knew, by the tinkling of mule-bells, and the hoarse shouts of their drivers, with the barking of dogs, and the bars of bright light shooting through darkness from doors and windows, that the Osteria e Locanda was near, and supper not far off. The vettura stopped.
Descending, they entered the large hall of the inn, with its whitewashed walls and brick floor, its ceiling heavy with rough-hewn rafters, and its long wooden tables and rough benches stained nearly black by use. By the oil lights burning in the graceful long-stemmed Roman lamps, they saw three or four countrymen eating eggs fried with olive-oil in little earthenware pipkins—a highly popular dish in the country round Rome, since, by proper management, a great deal of bread, which is not very dear, can be consumed with a few eggs. One of the number was luxuriating in agradolce—meat stewed with preserved prunes or cherries—a dish which many travelers have laughed at in Germany, but have never observed in 'classic Italy.'
'E che volete, Signori?' from the once white-aproned waiter, aroused our artists to a sense of duty; and fried ham, eggs, bread, and wine, with a salad, were ordered, slowly brought, and ham and eggs quickly finished and again furnished, much to the astonishment of a family of peasants who had entered while they were eating, and who watched the plates of ham and eggs disappear as if it were a feat of jugglery. After supper came coffee and segars, and the sight of one of the soldiers of the patrol, who came in to have a glass of sambuca, his blue uniform in good condition, his carbine brightly shining. After the horses were well rested, the vettura again started, as the first faint light of day shone in the east. About two miles from Valmontone, they commenced the ascent of the mountains, and shortly had two oxen attached to help drag their vehicle upward. The road wound along a mountain side—a ravine far below them—and from its base arose a high conical mountain opposite to them, as they slowly toiled upward. Again and again they pulled through heavy clouds of mist hanging around the mountain side, emerging above them only again to enter others. Finally it cleared; and over the mountains, beyond the valley yet white with the morning dews, they saw the red sun rise clear and sparkling; while high above their heads, perched on mountain top and side, loomed out the old, gray, time-worn walls of Segni. The vettura came to a halt under the shade of some old mulberry trees, and our travelers descended to leave it where it was, for the town was not built with a view to the entrance of carriages.
SUNDAY IN THE CAMPAGNA.
Leaving the vettura, they mounted the steep road, seeing above them the ruined walls, once the ramparts of the town, crowned by gray old houses with tiled roofs rising one over the other, and soon entered the Maggiore Gate with its round arch, its architecture noting a time when Segni was not quite the unknown place it now is. As they entered the gate, seeing the cleanly-dressed country people seated on the stone benches under its shadow—the women with their blue woolen shawls formed into coifs falling over head and shoulders, loose and pendent white linen sleeves, and black woolen boddices tightly laced, calico or woolen skirts, and dark blue woolen aprons with broad bands of yellow or red; while the men wore blue knee-breeches, brown woolen stockings, and blue jackets, with here and there a short scarlet waistcoat, and all with black conical felt hats, sometimes ornamented with a flower—noting all this, our artists knew it was Sunday or a festival. It was both.
The main street was very narrow—the houses so close together that a donkey loaded with brush-wood could hardly scrape through—and so steep that he had hard work to get a foot-hold on the smooth, worn stones serving to pave it. The buildings were all of that sombre gray stone so picturesque in paintings, and so pleasant for the eye to rest on, yet withal suggesting no brilliant ideas of cleanliness or even neatness. The houses were rarely over two stories in hight, the majority only one story, and but very few of them boasted glazed window-frames, board-shutters letting in light or keeping out rain. Two twists through the narrow streets, or rather alleys, a right-angled turn, a wheel to the left, then straight forward thirty steps, and lo! they were in the inn, alias locanda, of Gaetano. As soon as rooms could be given them, our artists, spite of its being daylight, took a long nap, induced by traveling all night without sleep.
About noon the landlord, Gaetano, aroused them with the fact that dinner was ready. They made a hearty meal, the landlord being careful to wish them 'good appetite' before they commenced. When it was over, and they were about to rise and go forth to discover if there was a cafe in the town, the waiter-girl appeared with two large dishes, on one of which were green peas in the pod, and on the other goat's-milk cheese.
'I know what the cheese is for,' said Caper, 'but it seems to me an odd way, to send in peas for the guests to shell for them.'
'Perhaps,' said Dexter, 'as they've no opera-house here, it's one of their amusements.'
'Can you tell me,' asked Rocjean of the stout waiter-girl, 'what we are to do with those peas?'
'Eh? Why, Signor, they are the fruit. You eat them.'
'Pods and all?'
'Certainly; they are very sweet and tender.'
'No, thank you. You can take them away. Will you send the padrone here?'
In came the landlord, and then and there a bargain was struck. For forty cents a day, he agreed to give them individually:
First. Breakfast, consisting of eggs, bread, butter, fruit in season, one dish of meat, a pint of good wine, and a cup of coffee.
Second. Dinner; soup, boiled meat, roast meat, vegetables, bread, butter, fish occasionally, one pint of wine, salad, dessert.
Third. Supper; one dish of meat, bread, butter, salad, and pint of wine.
Fourth. A bed-chamber for each one, with the use of the main room.
It was moreover agreed and covenanted, that for the extra sum of two baiocchi each one, he would provide a cup of coffee and sugar after dinner.
This is the Italian mode of proceeding; and when you have done thus, you will rarely find any trouble, either in receiving what you have agreed for, or in being overcharged. Justice to Gaetano Colajamo, keeper of the locanda at Segni, demands that it should be here witnessed that he faithfully and truly kept the agreement thus made; that after six months spent with him by Caper, he found that Gaetano had acted fairly, squarely, honestly, and manfully with him, from the day of his arrival until he shook hands at parting. May his tribe increase!
Leaving the hotel, they found a cafe near the Maggiore Gate, and learned that coffee was to be had there only on Sundays and festivals, the demand for it on other days being so small that it would not pay to make it. After coffee, Caper proposed a ramble up-town, and the trio sallied out, succeeding by dint of perseverance, and digging their heels firmly in the pavement, in climbing up the main street, which was about ten feet wide and very steep, an angle of forty-five degrees about describing its inclination, and as it was paved with limestone cubes worn smooth by the iron shoes of clambering horses and donkeys, it was difficult at times to prevent slipping. The irregularity of the front of the houses, and their evident want of repairs, in fact, their general tumble-down look, relieved here and there by a handsome middle-age doorway or window on the first floor, while the second story would show a confused modern wall of rubble-work and poverty-stricken style of architecture generally; all these contrasts brought out the picturesque element in force. As they passed a row of iron-grated windows a rough, hairy hand was thrust nearly into Rocjean's face, with the request that he would bestow a baioccho for charity on the owner.
'What are you doing in there?' asked Dexter.
'Nothing, nothing. Santa Maria! I am an innocent man. I never did any thing; I never will do any thing so long as I live.'
'That's the reason they shut you up, perhaps. You are lazy, an't you?'
'Never. It's because I have been too active. So, Signor, give me a few baiocchi, for I am tired of being shut up in this old bottle, and if they will let me out I will marry her to-morrow.'
So Rocjean gave him a few baiocchi, asking Caper what he thought of this plan of allowing jail-birds to sit and sing to every one who passed by, permitting the inmates of the prison to converse with and entertain their friends?
They had hardly passed the prison before three horses, sleekly curried, and with ribbons tied to their manes and tails, were led past them. And in answer to a question from Dexter, he learned that they were being led down to the stretch of road at the foot of the town, the spur connecting the conical mountain on which Segni is built, with the Volscian mountains in its rear. This road was about a quarter of a mile in length, quite level, and lined on both sides with fine old elm-trees, giving goodly shade; it was used as a race-course; and the three horses were going down to run a Carriera or race. Four horses were to run bare-backed, their riders being well used to dispense with saddles, and managing to guide them with a rope halter in lieu of bridle. The purse was four scudi, (four dollars.) Two horses were to run at a time, and the race was then to be run off by the two winning horses.
Anxious to conform to the customs of the country, including Sabbath quarter-races, our three artists retraced their steps, and descending the main street, were soon outside the gate of the town. Selecting a good position in the shade where they could see the race to advantage, they quietly waited for the races to begin. At the firing of a gun, down the course came two flying bay horses, ridden by boys, who urged them on to top speed, accelerated by the shouts of the entire population; the smallest horse won that heat. Again the gun was fired, and now the two other horses, a dark bay and a black, came thundering along, the black going ahead by four lengths, and receiving shouts of applause as Il Diavolo Benissimo! Now came the real pull, for the two winners were to try off; and as the last gun sounded, Clatter, whizz! the small bay and the black horse fairly flew by, neck and neck; unfortunately the black bolted from the course before he reached the goal, and the last seen of him he was somewhere on top of a hill with his legs white with lime, which he had picked up darting through a mortar-bed where a house was building; The bay horse, Mortadella, ridden by a boy named Bruno, won this Sunday quarter-race; and though the horse was not timed, it is safe to say the time was good, taking into account the fact that on week-days he brought wood down the mountain on his back, and consequently had that peculiar corkscrew motion incident to his profession.
The race over, Caper proposed their once more ascending the main street and making a bold endeavor to discover the top of the town, from which he argued there must be a fine view. Sturdily mounting up, they found themselves at last on the summit of the mountain, and passing several houses, an academy and a church, found before them a pleasant walk called the Pianillo, which was the crown of the conical mountain, and from whence, looking over the valley below and around them, they saw far off the Albanian mountains to their front and left, while away to their right hand and fading into the clouds, the chain of the Abruzzi showed them the confines of Naples. From this walk they saw the mountains and towns of San Germano, Santo Padre di Regno, l'Arnara, Frosinone, Torrice, Monte San Giovanni, Veroli, Ferentino, Morino, Agnani, Acuto, Piglio, Serrone, Paliano, Roviate, Civitella, Olevano, San Vito, Capranica, Gennazzano, Cave, Palestrina, Valmontone, Montefortino, Lugnano, Zagarolo, Colonna, Rocca Priora, and the neighboring towns of Sgurgola, Gorga, and Gavignano, with that lovely valley, La Villamagna.
Lost in admiration of the splendid panorama before them, our artists were not at first aware that the Pianillo was fast filling up with the people who had lately attended the horse-race; believing they were attracted here by the lovely scenery, they only admired their good taste, when Rocjean, overhearing two of the Segnians, discovered that they came there to enjoy a very different spectacle—that of La Giostra del Porchetto, or
What this might be, our artists had yet to learn; it sounded slightly sensual for a Sunday amusement, but as there was a bishop in the town, and nothing could consequently be permitted that would shock, etc., etc., Caper, Rocjean, and Dexter at once agreed to assist the heads of the church in their pious endeavors to celebrate the day—as the Romans do. Not far from where they were standing, at the foot of wild rocks and the ruins of an old Roman watchtower, was a curious basin cut in the solid rock, its sides lined with large blocks, and its circular form preserved entire; its depth was from five to seven feet, and its bottom was like the sides, paved with smooth blocks. It was popularly said to have been anciently a cistern, a fish-tank, etc., but nothing was known definitely as to its original purpose; it now served for the circus, where the Small-Hog Game was annually indulged in.
About twenty-two o'clock, (that is, six in the afternoon,) the audience and spectators—for it was an audible as well as visible entertainment—being assembled and desirous for the performance to commence, whistled and shouted slightly, but not indecorously; for the grand army of the town—seven gendarmes—were around. Our three artists mounted up the rocks overhanging the cistern, and looked down on the heads of the people. They saw a thousand or two female heads, mostly with light hair, all pulled directly back from the forehead, twisted into a knot behind, and tied with a piece of string, while a silver bodkin a foot in length, run in sideways, held it tight. The heads of these silver hair-pins indicated the married or unmarried state of the wearers; the former were fashioned as acorns or flower-buds, while the latter were full-blown flowers with expanded petals. The faces of these women were tanned, but ruddy health was there and robust forms; and you saw among them all a very happy, contented, ignorant look, showing a satisfied condition of heart, without endless longings for the unattainable and dim—they always had 'the dim' about them in the shape of the one-horse lamps of the country, a saucer of oil with a piece of twine hanging over the edge for a wick. By the way, the Acadiens on Bayou La Fourche in Louisiana have the same 'lampion' light!
The dress of these women was plain, but strong and serviceable. White shirts in full folds covered neck and bosom, the sleeves hanging from the shoulder in large folds, a boddice of dark blue cloth was laced tightly around their waists, while skirts, generally of dark blue cloth, hung in heavy lines to their ankles.
The men, assembled there to the number of about two thousand, were accoutred in blue cloth jackets, (which rarely have the owners' arms in the sleeve, but are worn as cloaks,) red waistcoats of startlingly crimson color, and blue small clothes, while conical black felt hats, adorned here and there with flowers, served for head-coverings. A large assemblage of children, dressed and undressed, filled up the gaps.
Suddenly, Bang, Bangity Bang! and a row of small mortars were fired off in succession, and a small boy with a banner in his hands, and an Irish pennant in his wake, appeared marching slowly along. On the banner was a painting of a small black hog between two men, each armed with brooms, who seemed bent on sweeping it out of existence; over these were the words:
GIOSTRA DEL PORCHETTO.
Then came six contadini, young men and stout, each armed with a broom three or four feet in length, made of rushes tied together, resembling our birch-brooms without their handles. They entered the arena or cistern, and then each one throwing aside his hat, had a large linen bag coming to a point at the top, tied over his head and throat, so that it was impossible for him to see. On each of these bags a comical face was roughly painted. To the right leg of each man a cow-bell was tied; with their brooms swinging a preparatory flourish, the six stood ready to commence the game. The small hog was then turned into the cistern, announcing his presence by sundry squeals. Now the game fairly begins: Whish! sound the brooms as they are whisked here, there, every where, in attempts to strike the hog; one man giving a strong blow, strikes another one who was stooping down to arrange his garters, where he dislikes to be struck, and instantly the one struck runs a muck, hitting wildly left and right. Two or three men charge on one another and brooms fly in splinters all round. One champion got a head-blow and had his wind knocked out by another blow simultaneously; round they go, and at it they go, beating the air and each other, while the wreath of honor, alias small hog, keeps turning up his head, calculating the chances and making fierce rushes every time he sees a broom approaching him; he must have practiced in the game before, he manages so well to avoid being hit. The six men being unable to hit the hog, grew angry, and one of them, unmindful of the fact that his small clothes had burst open at the knee, and his stockings were around his shoes, terribly batters another combatant, who strives in vain to dodge him. Then the six shouted truce, and pulling off their caps, declared that the small hog must have the bell tied to him also, so that like a beacon (or bacon) he might warn the cruisers of his whereabouts. This arranged, and the caps being again tied on, they recommence the game with renewed spirit. One man ignobly raised his helmet, alias nose-bag, to see where the small hog was keeping himself, and then made a rush for him, whereupon one of three umpires, a very lean man with nervous twitches, rushed at the man in a great state of excitement, and collared him amid the disapproving shouts of the spectators; he let him go upon this, and the other two umpires, who were fat men, jumping into the cistern to take away their lean brother, received several violent blows on the road, finally leading away the thin man in a high state of twitches, communicating themselves to his stove-pipe hat, (only one on the ground,) and to a large cane he tried to hold. A lucky blow from one of the gamesters struck the hog, and there was a cessation of hitting, interrupted by an outside contadino of the tight-built style breaking through the gendarmes and umpires and jumping into the middle of the cistern, beginning a fearful battle of words with the man who hit the hog, interrupted, however, by two of the gendarmes, who collared him and led him off up the steps, his legs very stiff, his body at an angle of forty-five degrees, and his head turned round to give a few last fierce words to the hog-hitter. The man would have made a good bandit, on canvas, with his bronzed, bearded face, flashing eyes, conical hat, savage features, broad shirt-collar, red sash around his waist, and leather gaiters, showing he rode horses and came from down in the plain.
The game recommenced, and by good luck the broom-swinger who hit the hog the first blow, hit him twice more; and the regulation being that whoever first struck the hog three blows should win him, the successful hog-hunter bore off the small hog on his back, having at the same time to carry the standard above described. The cheers of beauty and ugliness accompanied the hog and standard-bearer, as jerking down his head the umpire pulled off his head-bag, showing the face of Bruno, the butcher, who kept a bull-dog. A great many friends surrounded him, patting him on the back—he had a hog to be eaten!
So ended the Game of the Small-Hog.
After this was all over, a Tombola came off in front of the church, and our three artists having purchased tickets for this Sunday lottery, in order to keep the day as the rest of the people did, and not render themselves liable to the censure of being eccentric, had an opportunity of seeing its beneficial working—for those who got it up!
The Tombola finished, there was a good display of fire-works; in the still night air of the Sabbath the fiery snakes and red serpents, blue fires and green, darting flames and forked lights, reminded our artists of a large painting over the Maggiore Gate of the town, where a lot of the condemned are expiring in a very vermilion-colored Inferno—condemned, perhaps, for Sabbath-breaking!
Returning to their inn to supper, the landlord handed them a note without address, which he said had been sent them by the Gonfaloniere of the city, who had called upon them as soon as he learned that they were strangers there. Caper opening the envelope, found in it the following printed invitation to attend a concert to be given that night at the Palazzo Comunale, in honor of the day:
'DELLA CITTA' DI SEGNI
'Invita li sigi, Rocjean, Caper e Dexter ad intervenire all' Accademia di Musica che si terra nella Sala del Palazzo Comunale il giorno 18 Luglio alle ore 9-1/2 pom. per festeggiare la ricorrenza del Protettore S. Bruno.'
'It sounds well,' said Dexter; 'but both of you have seen the tumble-down, ruined look of the old town, or city, as they call it; and the inhabitants, as far as I have seen them, don't indicate a very select audience for the concert.'
'Select audience be hanged! it's this very selectness that is no selectness, that makes your English and a part of our American society a dreary bore,' broke in Caper; 'I've come up here in the mountains to be free, and if the Gonfaloniere bids me welcome to a palace where the nobilita await me, with music, I shall not ask whether they are select or not, but go.'
'I think,' spoke Rocjean, 'we should go; it will be the easiest way to acknowledge the attention shown us, and probably the pleasantest to the one who sent it. I am going.'
It therefore came to pass that near the hour noted in the invitation, Rocjean and Caper, inquiring the direction to the Palazzo Comunale of the landlord, went forth to discover its whereabouts, leaving Dexter to hunt scorpions in the sitting-room of the inn, or study the stars from its balcony.
Climbing up the main street, now quite dark save where the lamp of a stray shrine or two feebly lit up a few feet around it, they soon found the palace, the lower story of which held the post-office and various other offices. After passing a gendarme on guard at the door, they found themselves in a not very light hall leading to the second story; mounting a flight of stairs, there stood another soldier on guard; a door suddenly was thrown open, and then a burst of light showed them a large hall with lofty ceilings, the walls hung with red and golden tapestry and with its rich medieval groined arches and gilded cornices, resembling, after all the ruins and decay of the town, a castle-hall in fairy-land rather than a positively real earthly room. Dazzled by the brilliance of the scene, Rocjean and Caper were standing near the door of entrance, when a tall, stout, and very handsome man, leaving a circle of ladies, at once approached them, and introducing himself as the Gonfaloniere of the city, with much courtesy showed them to seats among the 'most reserved of the reserved.' There sat the Bishop of the Commune in purple silk robes, with an inch-wide golden chain over his breast, animatedly conversing with a dashing Roman lady, startingly handsome, with solitaire diamond ear-rings flashing light, while the lace on her dress would have caused deaths of envy in one of our country villages. The Governor of the Province was there, a quiet, grave gentleman, earnest enough in his duties to be respected, and evidently a favorite with several ladies who also shone in diamonds and with the 'air noble' so much adored by Dexter, A warlike looking priest whom Caper afterward found out was the chaplain of a regiment of soldiers, and by no means afraid of grape-juice, was also there; and with numerous distinguished men and beautiful women including one or two of the Stelle d'Anagni, or Stars of Anagni, as the nobility of that town are called, made with their rich dresses and courteous manners such a picture—so startlingly in contrast with the out-door life that our artists had seen, that they have never forgotten it to this day. The concert for which the invitation was given soon commenced. The selection of vocal and instrumental pieces was made with good judgment, and the singers who came from Rome, and had been selected for their ability, sung with a skill and grace that proved they knew that their audience had nice judgment and critical ears.
The concert was over: and having made their acknowledgments to the Gonfaloniere for the pleasure they had received through his invitation, our two artists, lighting segars, walked up to the Pianillo, where the rising moon gave them a splendid view of the Campagna and mountain-bounded horizon. Thus ended their first day in Segni, and their first Sunday in the Campagna.
The sickles were flashing in the sunlight, felling the ripened wheat in the valley, when our three artists, having previously arranged the matter with a certain Segnian named Bruno, stood one morning early, waiting his appearance with horses, to carry them down the mountain to a farm belonging to Prince Doria, called the Piombinara. There they were going to see a triglia or threshing of wheat with horses.
'Here he comes,' said Caper, 'with a piebald horse and a bay mare and an iron-gray mule. Let's toss up for a choice.'
The mule fell to Caper: mounting him gayly, and calling to the others to follow, he led the way with their guide down the steep street of the town until they reached the road outside of the gate, when the others coming up, the party ambled along down the mountain road. In about an hour they reached the plain, and fifteen minutes more brought them to the old, ivy-covered, ruined fortress of the middle ages, called the Piombinara: passing this, they soon reached an open field, in the centre of which, near a small cabin, they found quite a number of harvesters engaged piling up sheaves of wheat in a circle on a spot of ground previously leveled and hardened until it presented a surface as even as a barn-floor.
While they were inquiring of the harvesters as to the time when the threshing would commence, a fine-looking man, mounted on a fiery, full-blooded chestnut horse, rode up, and politely saluting the three artists, inquired of them if they were not desirous of seeing the triglia.
Rocjean answered that it was for that purpose they had come there, having learned in Segni that the horses would begin the threshing that morning.
The horseman then introduced himself as Prince Doria's agent for the Piombinara and farmer of the estate, and gave them a warm welcome; being very glad, he said, that the triglia would not begin until the afternoon, since he hoped it would give him in the mean time the pleasure of showing them the estate, and extending the rough hospitality of the Campagna to them.
Our artists, acknowledging his politeness, accepted the invitation of Signor Ercole, as he was generally called, and upon his proposing a ride around the estate, accompanied him. They first visited the old ruin, riding in through what was formerly its main entrance. Once inside, they found the lower walls sufficiently entire to give them an idea of the size and form of the old fortress. At one end they found the ruins of a small chapel, where even yet the traces of fresco-painting could be seen on its walls; near this arose a tall, square tower, ivy-clad to its very summit, from whence a flock of hawks were flying in and out; the lightning had so shattered its walls that it threatened every moment to fall, yet in this dilapidated state it had remained for years, and was regarded, therefore, as an 'un-tumbling' curiosity. After some time spent here, which Dexter improved by making a pencil-sketch of the valley and adjacent mountains, Signor Ercole leading the way, they rode through a small woods where herds on herds of black hogs were feeding, to the pasture-grounds where the brood-mares and colts of the Prince were seen grazing together. Over a hundred head of the purest blood-stock were here, and Dexter, who was thoroughly conversant with horse-flesh, passed the highest encomiums of praise on many of the animals. Riding on, they next saw quite a number of oxen, but the superintendent informed them that these were only a few kept to perform the farm-work, the large herds belonging to the estate being at this season of the year driven miles away to feed upon other lands of the Prince. Continuing their ride, the party next came to the wheat-fields, extending far and wide, like those of Illinois, for a hundred acres or more: here the harvesters, most of whom were from the Abruzzi, were busily engaged, men and women, in loading the large carts with wheat-sheafs, the grain being all cut, and consequently many of the laborers having returned to their distant homes. Returning from the fields, Signor Ercole now invited them to enter the farmhouse. This was a very large stone house whitewashed, looking as they approached it more like a garrison for several regiments than a residence for a few families, and a store-house for agricultural implements and crops. The lower floor of this long building was taken up with stables and offices, but mounting a wide stone staircase, our artists found themselves in a large room scrupulously neat, with whitewashed walls, very high ceilings, and whips, guns, dogs, tables, account-books, stone floors and rough seats, making a curious mingling of monastery, squire's office, sportsman's chamber, and social hall, for no sooner had Signor Ercole seen his guests comfortably seated, than his servant brought in segars, with a brass dish of live coals to light them, several bottles of wine, and one of capital old Sambuca di Napoli, a liquor that is refreshing, drank, as it should be, with a good allowance of water.
Dinner was served at an early hour, with a profusion of each dish that would have frightened an economical Yankee housewife. Six roast chickens were not considered at all too many for the five persons at table—the fifth being a jolly old gentleman, an uncle to the Signor Ercole. The plate of maccaroni looked as if Gargantua had ordered it—the salad might have been put in a bushel measure, the bread been carried in a donkey-cart, and the wine—ahem! in the expressive language of the Celts, there was 'lashings of it.'
But even a Campagna dinner with a Farmer-General will have an end, and when our friends had finished theirs, they arose and went dreamily forth to the before-mentioned squire's office, where they lighted segars, while they drank small cups of black coffee, and gazed out of the open windows to the distant mountains, rising far above the plain sleeping in the summer sun, and hushed to sleep by the unceasing song of the cicalas sharply crying from leaf and blade of grass.
About three o'clock in the afternoon a man came to inform the Signor Ercole that the mares and colts had been driven into the corral, and our party accordingly walked out to see them lassoed prior to their performance in the ring. As they approached the corral, they saw the blooded animals circling around the inclosure, apparently aware that they would soon be called on to do some work—the only work, in fact, the majority of them had to do the whole year through. Taking a lasso from one of the men, Signor Ercole entered the inclosure and singling out a fine-looking bay mare, he threw the lasso—the noose encircling her neck as she dashed forward, bringing her up all standing. Satisfied with this performance, he handed her over to one of the herdsmen, who fastening her with a halter, again and again swung the lasso, catching at last twelve horses and mares. One long halter was now attached to six of the animals, and a driver taking it in hand, led them toward the spot where the beaten earth was covered with sheafs of wheat standing on end one against the other in a circle of say thirty or forty feet in diameter; another driver fastening six others, horses and mares, to another long halter, led them to the side opposite the first six. As soon as they were stationed, waving long-lashed whips, plunge! ahead went the wild horses, jumping into the wheat-sheaves breast-high, rearing, squealing, kicking, lashing out their hoofs, their eyes starting from their heads, while each driver stood firm in one spot, whirling his whiplash and keeping his team within a circle one half of which was in the wheat and the other half outside. Thus there were three circles, one of wheat and the other two described by the horses as they dashed wildly around, the drivers shouting, the wheat flying and being quickly threshed under the swift-moving hoofs of the twelve four-legged flails!
Caper and Dexter were meanwhile as busy as they could be sketching the scene before them and endeavoring to catch notes of the first plunges and excited motions of the horses. The active motive-power of the foreground finished, with a hasty sketch of the Piombinara at the right hand, in the middle ground the Campagna with its corn-fields and ruined towers, while in the distance the Lepini mountains stretched away into cloud-land—all afforded a sketch from which both Caper and Dexter afterward made two very excellent paintings.
The sketches finished, Signor Ercole insisted upon the artists taking a stirrup-cup with him before they left for Segni, and accordingly accompanying him to the house, they drank success to their hospitable entertainer, and departed highly pleased with this Representative Man. It is his class—the intelligent Producers of the Papal States—to whom we must look for all the life that will keep that worn-out old body sufficiently animated to last until Regenerated Italy can take it in hand, see it decently buried, and over its tomb achieve a brilliant future.
PAINTING A DONKEY.
Segni might well boast of her hogs and donkeys. As the sun rose, a wild-looking fellow stood by the Maggiore Gate and blew on a long horn many rough blasts; then from all the streets and alleys rushed out black hogs tumultuously, to the number of one hundred or more, and followed their pastor with the horn, to the field or forest. There he guarded them all day, and at sunset brought them back to the town; when as soon as they reached the gate, the herd separated, and right and left, at top-speed, every hog hastened to his own house. Poor as the inhabitants were, yet among the five thousand of them living in the town, besides countless black hogs, they owned over two hundred and fifty donkeys and mules, the majority donkeys of the longest-eared, smallest-body breed you can conceive. Costing little if any thing to support them, they were excellent labor-saving machines, and did three quarters of the work that in our country would have been done by hod and wheelbarrow labor. Very sure-footed, they were well calculated for traveling the mountain-roads around; and with their enormous saddles, a direct copy of those now used in Egypt, of course attracted the attention of the two animal-painters, who determined to secure a good specimen, and make a sketch of donkey and saddle.
The most comical-looking one in the town belonged to a cross, ill-tempered, ugly brute of a hunchback, who, as soon as he learned that the artists wanted to paint him, asked such a price for his loan that they found themselves obliged to give up all hopes of taking his portrait. One morning, as Caper was walking out of the inn-door, he nearly tumbled over a little, sun-burnt, diminutive donkey that had a saddle on his back, resembling, with this on him, a broken-backed rabbit. Caper was charmed; and as he stood there lost in admiration, a poor little lame boy came limping up, and catching Long Ears by the rope halter, was leading him away, when the artist stopped him and asked him whom it belonged to. The small boy, probably not understanding Caper, or afraid of him, made no answer, but resolutely pulled away the donkey to a gateway leading into a garden, at the end of which was a half-ruined old house. Our artist followed him in, when, raising his eyes toward the house, he saw leaning from one of the windows, her figure marked boldly against the dark gray of the house, a strikingly beautiful woman. There was an air of neatness in her dress, a certain care of her hair, that was an improvement over any of the other female Segnians he had yet seen.
'Can you tell me,' said Caper, pointing to the donkey, 'who owns that animal?'
'Padrone mio, I own him,' said the woman.
'I want to paint him.'
'Do you?' replied the beauty, whose name Caper learned was Margarita; and she asked this with a very astonished look.
'I do, indeed I do. It will not hurt him.'
'No, I don't believe it will. He is very ugly and sun-burnt. I think it will improve him,' said Margarita confidently.
Caper didn't see how the mere taking his portrait would improve the animal; but thinking it might be meant for a compliment, he assented, adding that he would pay a fair price for himself and his friend to be allowed to have the donkey, all saddled, for two or three hours every day when he was not used.
That very day, about four o'clock in the afternoon, Caper and Dexter, having prepared their sketching-paper, with colors on pallet, mall-sticks in hand, and seated on camp-stools in the shade of a wall, were busy sketching in Margarita's garden, the donkey held by the little lame boy, and fed from time to time with corn-meal in order to keep him steady. Margarita was seated, with a little child in her arms, on a flight of old wooden steps leading to the second story of her house; and with her bright crimson boddice, and white falling linen sleeves, and shirt gathered in folds over her bosom, while her dark blue skirts, and dark apron with brilliant gold and red stripes, were draped around her as she sat on the stairs, looked exactly like one of Raphael's Madonne alla Fornarina. Her large eyes followed seriously every movement of the painters. Caper, learning that she was a widow, did not know but what her affections were straying his way.
'I say, Dexter, don't you think, now, she's regarding us pretty closely?'
'I am sure it's the donkey is next her heart, and it is more than probable she's there on watch to keep us from stealing it. D'ye notice the manner she's eyeing the paints? Every time my brush goes near the vermilion, and I move my stool, her eyes brighten. I wonder what's up around the gate there? Hanged if half the old women and children around town an't assembled there! Look.'
Caper looked, and, sure enough, there was a crowd of heads; and not content with standing at the gateway, they began soon to enter the garden, crowding around our two artists, getting in front of the donkey, and being generally in the way.
Once or twice Dexter drove them off with words, until at last, an unlucky urchin striking his elbow and making him mar his sketch, he laid down his sketching-box, and, clubbing his campstool, made a rush at the crowd. They fled before him, in their hurry tumbling one over the other, and then, scrambling to their feet, were soon out of sight. Returning to his sketch, he was no sooner busily at work than they were all back again, but now keeping at respectful distance.
After about two hours' work, Caper proposed knocking off sketching, and continuing it next day; to which Dexter assenting, they put up their sketches. Caper agreeing to pay Margarita for the afternoon's study, he went up to her, and handing over the amount agreed upon, she seemed by no means satisfied.
'Won't that pay you?' asked he.
'When are you going to paint the donkey? Here I've told all my friends that you were to paint the little old fellow all over, perhaps a nice red color, or bright yellow; and here we've all been waiting hours to see you begin, and you haven't put the first brush to him yet!'
This was too much for the gravity of Caper, who fairly roared with laughter, and Dexter, who had listened to the talk, joining in as chorus, made the garden ring.
'They are crazy,' said one old woman, who was holding a distaff in one hand, while she was making woolen thread with the other.
'Seguro,' said another, who had once been to Rome, and therefore was great authority, 'they are Englis', and all the Englis' is crazy. Didn't I once live with an Englis' family? and they were that mad that they washed themselves every day! And they had white sticks with hair on the end of them, what they scrubbed their mouth and teeth with two and three times a day!'
'Now, Maricuccia, that is too much; what could they do that for?'
'Ma, che! I tell you it was so; and their maid told me it was to kill the little devils that are always jumping in and out of the throats of all heretics.'
The next day, after they had finished their sketch of the donkey, Caper proposed that they should oblige Margarita by giving the donkey a little of that painting the owner seemed so anxious to have bestowed on him. Dexter accordingly drew bright yellow circles of cadmium and yellow ochre round his eyes, giving him a peculiarly owly look; painted white rings round his tail, black streaks round his body, and touched the ends of his ears with vermilion. A more striking-looking object you never saw; and when Margarita proudly led him forth and showed him to the surrounding multitude, there were storms of applause for the Inglese who painted donkeys!
SIR JOHN SUCKLING.
Prominent among the gay cavaliers at the court of Charles I. of England, was Sir John Suckling, a dashing, reckless, improvident fellow, who acted the gallant to the ladies, played skillfully at bowls and deeply at cards, was always ready at a frolic and merry-making, and died when scarcely more than thirty years of age; the author of three or four dramas of no more than ordinary merit, and of a few snatches of poetry, chiefly love-songs, betraying talent sufficient to have rendered his name of no inconsiderable interest down to the present day. It is an interest, however, growing not out of a familiarity with the circumstances of his life and character, but from a curiosity to know a little more concerning one of whom, as yet, we know almost nothing at all, albeit his name is of the most familiar.
Materials for his biography are scanty enough, made up for the most part of gossip from such antiquarians as Aubrey, who imitates Herodotus, in a fondness for the marvelous and romantic, to a degree that weakens our faith in him as a trustworthy historian. Not until the middle of the present century were we in possession of a memoir claiming to be in any respect complete. In 1838, there appeared in London an edition of his writings, with a prefatory sketch of his life, by the Rev. Alfred Suckling, LL.B. The editor had access to a few private MSS., which, in our judgment, have not served to modify the previous accounts of Sir John's character, in spite of the labored efforts of his namesake—and, it may be, descendant—to that effect. The memoir and critical remarks appended are well written, though partial; and the work is the more valuable for the reason that only a few hundred copies of it were printed.
All accounts agree in ascribing to Suckling, as an individual and as to his personnel, the same careless and unstudied manner so conspicuous in his literary efforts. He must have expended at least a moderate degree of labor on his dramas; all dramas require it. On the other hand, there is hardly a doubt that he threw off his poems in the mere fancy of an idle moment, with no care for their subsequent revision; indeed, a collected publication was not made until the lapse of four or five years after his death. A certain vivacity and sprightliness is the secret of their popularity, which, from their first appearance to the present day, has never been totally lost, though at no period could they be said to have commanded an extensive range of readers. Previous to the collection of 1838, four or five editions of his poems, dramas, and letters had been published at London, at wide intervals during the last two centuries.
Whether Sir John Suckling was ushered into this world in 1608-9, or in 1613, has never been positively ascertained, though a discrepancy of five years would imply a state of the family record open, to say the least, to a little free criticism. If the poet himself was aware of the correct date, he has not taken the trouble to enlighten the public upon it. It would be well were that public always so good-natured as to err on the side of youth, giving the more credit to success, and accepting inexperience as an excuse in part for mistake and failure. But in doubtful cases, one is likely to get credit for more years than he is fairly entitled to—a deception we are ready to believe not unpalatable sometimes to active men of early or middle age, though proverbially annoying to spinsters. There is, too, an inherent tendency among scholars toward antiquarianism, which always induces them to take the earliest possible year. In the present instance, at any rate, most authorities favor the first date, fixing his birth at Whitton, in Middlesex, in 1608-9.
Sir John Suckling, the father, had been Secretary of State under James I., and was Comptroller of the Household to Charles I. He was said to have been a quiet, grave, and serious man, of sound judgment and good business habits. Aubrey disposes of him summarily enough, with the remark that 'he was but a dull fellow.' Had his wife been of the same pattern, the worthy couple might well have been astonished at the lively capers of their progeny; but we have reason to believe that the frolicksome courtier and poet drew upon a bountiful store of good 'mother wit.' Quite all that we know of her, however, in an authentic way, is contained in a professional and curious item that the family physician saw fit to jot down in his note-book, as follows, 'Sir John's mother went till the eleventh month with him;' which, to be sure, in popular opinion, betokened a deal of future consequence.
To the subject of our narrative is assigned the customary precocity of intellect; for he is said to have spoken Latin at five, and written it at nine. Add four years to conform with the true date, and the facts assume a little more reasonable aspect. In 1623, he was matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he remained three or four years, but did not take a degree, probably having shown himself a little more 'progressive' than the laws of that institution allowed. After leaving Cambridge, he traveled over a large part of the Continent, which, besides increasing his knowledge of the world, brought still nearer perfection that easy carriage and polished manner which had already attracted the observation of the court.
While in Germany, he united himself to an expedition of six thousand troops sent by Charles to the aid of Gustavus Adolphus, and was one of forty gentlemen's sons forming the body-guard of the Marquis of Hamilton, who had been commissioned as General in command. He was present at the first great victory over Tilly near Leipsic, and in other battles and sieges. How valuable a military experience accrued from this service we are not informed, but no great amount of it was ever displayed upon his return to England. When the 'League and Covenant' ended in open rebellion, Suckling eagerly espoused the royal cause, and accompanied the King in his expedition against the Scots. It was the custom for each retainer to fit out his men according to his own taste, and at his own expense. Sir John arrayed one hundred horsemen in a gorgeous attire of scarlet and white, to the admiration of the fair sex, and at the expense of twelve thousand pounds. On arriving in sight of the enemy, it seems that they resolved not to soil their attire with such vulgar contact. If they had been told in the early day to follow their gallant leader, they obeyed the order now; for Sir John was making excellent good time away from the field, and, as nearly as he could judge, in the direction of London. This inglorious maneuver was improved by Sir John Mennes, Rear-Admiral of the Fleet, and the author of Musarum Deliciae, (who never suffered an opportunity of this kind to go by without blazing away in a lampoon;) and a jaunty song,
'Sir John he got him an ambling nag, To Scotland for to ride—a!'
became the delight of the town.
Suckling was of slight figure and middle stature, with a face handsome and full of animation. His fine appearance, due also in part to excellent taste in dress, made him a universal favorite at court. He was no doubt as faithful a friend as a volatile disposition would allow; a fair specimen, in short, of the elegant gentleman of the times. Aubrey speaks of him as 'incomparable at reparteeing, the bull that was bayted, his witt beinge most sparkling, when most set on and provoked.' His expenditures went beyond liberality; they were extravagant. His credit with the tradesmen soon became worthless. The greater part of his money was made at gaming. He was one of the most skillful men of his age at cards and at bowls. So absorbed would he become in the former, that he would often lie in bed the greater part of the day studying their various changes. He became notorious in an age when every one played to excess. No one 'fought the tiger' (to borrow the modern expression) with more indomitable pluck than Sir John; for, as his friend Will Davenant tells us, 'at his lowest ebb he would make himself glorious in apparel, and said that it exalted his spirits'—a curious philosophy, suggestive not a little of Dickens' Mark Tapley. Pope has accused Suckling of being an 'immoral man, as well as debauched.' One is ready, with Leigh Hunt, to ask for the difference between these qualities of vice. The explanation is, that dissipation in general was excused by the times, but Sir John was suspected of unfair play at cards—a suspicion which appears to have rested upon a mere trifle for its foundation.
In 1641, while a member of the Long Parliament, he was found guilty by the Commons of having assisted Lord Stafford in his attempt to escape from the Tower. Davenant and Jermyn were concerned in the affair. Suckling, as usual, took to his heels, and arrived safe in France. His flight was the signal for the appearance of a number of ballads about London. One, with forty-two wretchedly-conceived stanzas, was entitled: 'A letter sent by Sir John Suckling from France, deploring his sad estate and flight, with a discoverie of the plot and conspiracie intended by him and his adherents against England.' A tolerably well-executed engraving, on a folio sheet, was also circulated, representing two cavaliers lounging among cards, dice-boxes, and drinking-cups, and set off with wholesome Scriptural quotations, and verses in praise of the temperate.
'Hee is a frugal man indeede, That with a leafe can dine;
'He needes no napkin for his handes, His fingers for to wipe; He hath his kitchen in a box, His roast meat in a pipe.'
The title to this choice bit of satire was in staring letters:
THE SUCKLINGTON FACTION;
SUCKLING'S ROARING BOYES.
Another curiosity in the rare catalogue popular just after Sir John's death, was: 'A copy of two remonstrances brought over the river Stix in Caron's ferry-boate, by the ghost of Sir John Suckling.'
Every thing subsequent to his arrival in France is involved in hopeless obscurity, but the conjecture is pretty well founded that his death occurred some time during that same year. One account says that he poisoned himself at Paris. A more popular story is from letters in Lord Oxford's collection, and is given both by Spence and by Oldys. Sir John arrived late at night in Calais. In the morning, he found that his servant had run away with his money and papers. He called for a horse, and on drawing on his boot, felt a sharp pain, but making nothing of it in his hurry, he mounted and drove off in hot pursuit. The dishonest valet was apprehended, and the property recovered. Then he complained, the tale goes on to say, of pain in one of his feet; his boot was found to be full of blood. The servant had placed a nail in his master's boot, which had been driven into the flesh. He fainted from loss of blood, fell into a violent fever, and died in a few days. This, at least, is believed to be certain: that he perished in early manhood—almost before time was given him to repent of the follies of youth—in miserable exile from the land of his birth and kindred.
Suckling's literary remains, as we have already stated, consist of poems, letters, and dramas. These last-named productions were four in number. Aglaura, which was presented at the Private House in Blackfriars by his Majesty's Servants, is a tragedy, the scene of which is laid in Persia. This play was brought upon the stage in a style of princely magnificence. The dresses were of rich material, profusely ornamented with gold and silver, the kind indulgence of the audience, for once, not being asked to attribute an extraordinary value to professional tinsel. The author is said to have laid out four hundred pounds for this occasion. Brennoralt, also a tragedy, was first published under the title of The Discontented Colonel, in 1639, as a satire on the Scottish insurgents. The Goblins, a comedy in five acts, is enlivened by the presence of a motley crew of devils, clowns, wenches, and fiddlers; and an unfinished piece, entitled The Sad One, may also be classed as a tragedy, as it opens briskly with a 'murder within' in the very first scene, which undoubtedly would have culminated in wholesale horrors had the author gone on and completed the play.
We will not stop for any minute examination of these dramas. Suffice it to say, that they are devoid of interest at the present day; and from what we have been able to read of them, we question whether the success that is said to have attended their private representation was other than mere compliment. Unfortunately for their dramatic unity, the author is impatient of the restraint which a plot imposes, and the dialogue, in consequence, rambles off hither and thither into passages as foreign to the subject-matter as they are tame and spiritless in expression. There are kings and princes, but they utter very commonplace remarks; and an uncommonly liberal amount of bloodshed and stage-machinery contribute to startling incidents, but they fail to redeem the play from a tiresome monotony.
In the prologues, we find the author more at home:
'Then, gentlemen, be thrifty—save your dooms For the next man or the next play that comes; For smiles are nothing where men do not care, And frowns are little where they need not fear.'
Aglaura: Prologue to the Court.
The following lines occur in the epilogue to the same play:
'But as, when an authentic watch is shown, Each man winds up and rectifies his own, So, in our very judgments,' etc.