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Title: Italian Journeys
Author: Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Italian Journeys" ***

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W.D. Howells

1867 and 1895


The Road to Rome from Venice:
     I. Leaving Venice                              9
    II. From Padua to Ferrara                      10
   III. The Picturesque, the Improbable, and
        the Pathetic in Ferrara                    14
    IV. Through Bologna to Genoa                   43
     V. Up and Down Genoa                          52
    VI. By Sea from Genoa to Naples                65
   VII. Certain Things in Naples                   75
  VIII. A Day in Pompeii                           89
    IX. A Half-hour at Herculaneum                106
     X. Capri and Capriotes                       116
    XI. The Protestant Ragged Schools at Naples   136
   XII. Between Rome and Naples                   147
  XIII. Roman Pearls                              151

Forza Maggiore                                    178

At Padua                                          196

A Pilgrimage to Petrarch's House at Arquà         216

A Visit to the Cimbri                             235

Minor Travels:
    I. Pisa                                       251
   II. The Ferrara Road                           259
  III. Trieste                                    264
   IV. Bassano                                    274
    V. Possagno, Canova's Birthplace              280
   VI. Como                                       285

Stopping at Vicenza, Verona, and Parma            293

Ducal Mantua                                      321




We did not know, when we started from home in Venice, on the 8th of
November, 1864, that we had taken the longest road to Rome. We thought
that of all the proverbial paths to the Eternal City that leading to
Padua, and thence through Ferrara and Bologna to Florence, and so
down the sea-shore from Leghorn to Civita Vecchia, was the best, the
briefest, and the cheapest. Who could have dreamed that this path,
so wisely and carefully chosen, would lead us to Genoa, conduct us on
shipboard, toss us four dizzy days and nights, and set us down, void,
battered, and bewildered, in Naples? Luckily,

  "The moving accident is not my trade,"

for there are events of this journey (now happily at an end) which,
if I recounted them with unsparing sincerity, would forever deter the
reader from taking any road to Rome.

Though, indeed, what is Rome, after all, when you come to it?



As far as to Ferrara there was no sign of deviation from the direct
line in our road, and the company was well enough. We had a Swiss
family in the car with us to Padua, and they told us how they were
going home to their mountains from Russia, where they had spent
nineteen years of their lives. They were mother and father and only
daughter and the last, without ever having seen her ancestral country,
was so Swiss in her yet childish beauty, that she filled the morning
twilight with vague images of glacial height, blue lake, snug chalet,
and whatever else of picturesque there is in paint and print about
Switzerland. Of course, as the light grew brighter these images melted
away, and left only a little frost upon the window-pane.

The mother was restively anxious at nearing her country, and told us
every thing of its loveliness and happiness. Nineteen years of absence
had not robbed it of the poorest charm, and I hope that seeing it
again took nothing from it. We said how glad we should be if we were
as near America as she was to Switzerland. "America!" she screamed;
"you come from America! Dear God, the world is wide--the world is
wide!" The thought was so paralyzing that it silenced the fat little
lady for a moment, and gave her husband time to express his sympathy
with us in our war, which he understood perfectly well. He trusted
that the revolution to perpetuate slavery must fail, and he hoped that
the war would soon end, for it made cotton very dear.

Europe is material: I doubt if, after Victor Hugo and Garibaldi, there
were many upon that continent whose enthusiasm for American
unity (which is European freedom) was not somewhat chilled by the
expensiveness of cotton. The fabrics were all doubled in price, and
every man in Europe paid tribute in hard money to the devotion with
which we prosecuted the war, and, incidentally, interrupted the
cultivation of cotton.

We shook hands with our friends, and dismounted at Padua, where we
were to take the diligence for the Po. In the diligence their loss was
more than made good by the company of the only honest man in Italy.
Of course this honest man had been a great sufferer from his own
countrymen, and I wish that all English and American tourists, who
think themselves the sole victims of publican rapacity and deceit in
Italy, could have heard our honest man's talk. The truth is, these
ingenious people prey upon their own kind with an avidity quite as
keen as that with which they devour strangers; and I am half-persuaded
that a ready-witted foreigner fares better among them than a traveller
of their own nation. Italians will always pretend, on any occasion,
that you have been plundered much worse than they but the reverse
often happens. They give little in fees; but their landlord, their
porter, their driver, and their boatman pillage them with the same
impunity that they rob an Inglese. As for this honest man in the
diligence, he had suffered such enormities at the hands of the
Paduans, from which we had just escaped, and at the hands of the
Ferrarese, into which we were rushing (at the rate of five miles scant
an hour), that I was almost minded to stop between the nests of those
brigands and pass the rest of my days at Rovigo, where the honest man
lived. His talk was amusingly instructive, and went to illustrate the
strong municipal spirit which still dominates all Italy, and which is
more inimical to an effectual unity among Italians than Pope or Kaiser
has ever been. Our honest man of Rovigo was a foreigner at Padua,
twenty-five miles north, and a foreigner at Ferrara, twenty-five miles
south; and throughout Italy the native of one city is an alien in
another, and is as lawful prey as a Russian or an American with people
who consider every stranger as sent them by the bounty of Providence
to be eaten alive. Heaven knows what our honest man had paid at his
hotel in Padua, but in Ferrara the other week he had been made to give
five francs apiece for two small roast chickens, besides a fee to
the waiter; and he pathetically warned us to beware how we dealt with
Italians. Indeed, I never met a man so thoroughly persuaded of the
rascality of his nation and of his own exceptional virtue. He took
snuff with his whole person; and he volunteered, at sight of a
flock of geese, a recipe which I give the reader: Stuff a goose with
sausage; let it hang in the weather during the winter; and in the
spring cut it up and stew it, and you have an excellent and delicate

But after all our friend's talk, though constant, became dispiriting,
and we were willing when he left us. His integrity had, indeed, been
so oppressive that I was glad to be swindled in the charge for our
dinner at the Iron Crown, in Rovigo, and rode more cheerfully on to




It was one of the fatalities of travel, rather than any real interest
in the poet, which led me to visit the prison of Tasso on the night of
our arrival, which was mild and moonlit. The _portier_ at the
Stella d'Oro suggested the sentimental homage to sorrows which it is
sometimes difficult to respect, and I went and paid this homage in the
coal-cellar in which was never imprisoned the poet whose works I had
not read.

The famous hospital of St. Anna, where Tasso was confined for seven
years, is still an asylum for the infirm and sick, but it is no longer
used as a mad-house. It stands on one of the lone, silent Ferrarese
streets, not far from the Ducal Castle, and it is said that from the
window of his cell the unhappy poet could behold Leonora in her tower.
It may be so; certainly those who can believe in the genuineness of
the cell will have no trouble in believing that the vision of Tasso
could pierce through several brick walls and a Doric portico, and at
last comprehend the lady at her casement in the castle. We entered a
modern gateway, and passed into a hall of the elder edifice, where a
slim young soldier sat reading a romance of Dumas. This was the keeper
of Tasso's prison; and knowing me, by the instinct which teaches an
Italian custodian to distinguish his prey, for a seeker after the True
and Beautiful, he relinquished his romance, lighted a waxen taper,
unbolted a heavy door with a dramatic clang, and preceded me to the
cell of Tasso. We descended a little stairway, and found ourselves in
a sufficiently spacious court, which was still ampler in the poet's
time, and was then a garden planted with trees and flowers. On a low
doorway to the right was inscribed the legend "PRIGIONE DI TASSO," and
passing through this doorway into a kind of reception-cell, we entered
the poet's dungeon. It is an oblong room, with a low wagon-roof
ceiling, under which it is barely possible to stand upright. A single
narrow window admits the light, and the stone casing of this window
has a hollow in a certain place, which might well have been worn there
by the friction of the hand that for seven years passed the prisoner
his food through the small opening. The young custodian pointed to
this memento of suffering, without effusion, and he drew my attention
to other remarkable things in the cell, without troubling himself
to palliate their improbability in the least. They were his stock in
trade; you paid your money, and took your choice of believing in
them or not. On the other hand, my _portier_, an ex-_valet de place_,
pumped a softly murmuring stream of enthusiasm; and expressed the
freshest delight in the inspection of each object of interest.

One still faintly discerns among the vast number of names with which
the walls of the ante-cell are bewritten, that of Lamartine. The name
of Byron, which was once deeply graven in the stucco, had been scooped
away by the Grand Duke of Tuscany (so the custodian said), and there
is only part of a capital B now visible. But the cell itself is still
fragrant of associations with the noble bard, who, according to the
story related to Valery, caused himself to be locked up in it, and
there, with his head fallen upon his breast, and frequently smiting
his brow, spent two hours in pacing the floor with great strides. It
is a touching picture; but its pathos becomes somewhat embarrassing
when you enter the cell, and see the impossibility of taking more than
three generous paces without turning. When Byron issued forth, after
this exercise, he said (still according to Valery) to the custodian:
"I thank thee, good man! The thoughts of Tasso are now all in my mind
and heart." "A short time after his departure from Ferrara," adds the
Frenchman, maliciously, "he composed his 'Lament of Tasso,' a mediocre
result from such inspiration." No doubt all this is colored, for
the same author adds another tint to heighten the absurdity of the
spectacle: he declares that Byron spent part of his time in the cell
in writing upon the ceiling Lamartine's verses on Tasso, which he
misspelled. The present visitor has no means of judging of the truth
concerning this, for the lines of the poet have been so smoked by the
candles of successive pilgrims in their efforts to get light on them,
that they are now utterly illegible. But if it is uncertain what were
Byron's emotions on visiting the prison of Tasso, there is no doubt
about Lady Morgan's: she "experienced a suffocating emotion; her
heart failed her on entering that cell; and she satisfied a melancholy
curiosity at the cost of a most painful sensation."

I find this amusing fact stated in a translation of her ladyship's
own language, in a clever guide-book called _Il Servitore di Piazza_,
which I bought at Ferrara, and from which, I confess, I have learnt
all I know to confirm me in my doubt of Tasso's prison. The Count
Avventi, who writes this book, prefaces it by saying that he is a
valet de place who knows how to read and write, and he employs these
unusual gifts with singular candor and clearness. No one, he says,
before the nineteenth century, ever dreamed of calling the cellar in
question Tasso's prison, and it was never before that time made the
shrine of sentimental pilgrimage, though it has since been visited by
every traveller who has passed through Ferrara. It was used during the
poet's time to hold charcoal and lime; and not long ago died an old
servant of the hospital, who remembered its use for that purpose. It
is damp, close, and dark, and Count Avventi thinks it hardly possible
that a delicate courtier could have lived seven years in a place
unwholesome enough to kill a stout laborer in two months; while it
seems to him not probable that Tasso should have received there the
visits of princes and other distinguished persons whom Duke Alfonso
allowed to see him, or that a prisoner who was often permitted to ride
about the city in a carriage should have been thrust back into such a
cavern on his return to the hospital. "After this," says our _valet
de place_ who knows how to read and write, "visit the prison of Tasso,
certain that _in the hospital of St. Anna_ that great man was confined
for many years;" and, with this chilly warning, leaves his reader to
his emotions.

I am afraid that if as frank caution were uttered in regard to other
memorable places, the objects of interest in Italy would dwindle sadly
in number, and the _valets de place_, whether they know how to read
and write or not, would be starved to death. Even the learning of
Italy is poetic; and an Italian would rather enjoy a fiction than know
a fact--in which preference I am not ready to pronounce him unwise.
But this characteristic of his embroiders the stranger's progress
throughout the whole land with fanciful improbabilities; so that if
one use his eyes half as much as his wonder, he must see how much
better it would have been to visit, in fancy, scenes that have an
interest so largely imaginary. The utmost he can make out of the most
famous place is, that it is possibly what it is said to be, and
is more probably as near that as any thing local enterprise could
furnish. He visits the very cell in which Tasso was confined, and has
the satisfaction of knowing that it was the charcoal-cellar of the
hospital in which the poet dwelt. And the _genius loci_--where is
that? Away in the American woods, very likely, whispering some dreamy,
credulous youth,--telling him charming fables of its _locus_, and
proposing to itself to abandon him as soon as he sets foot upon its
native ground. You see, though I cared little about Tasso, and nothing
about his prison, I was heavily disappointed in not being able to
believe in it, and felt somehow that I had been awakened from a
cherished dream.


But I have no right to cast the unbroken shadow of my skepticism upon
the reader, and so I tell him a story about Ferrara which I actually
believe. He must know that in Ferrara the streets are marvelous long
and straight. On the corners formed by the crossing of two of the
longest and straightest of these streets stand four palaces, in only
one of which we have a present interest. This palace my guide took
me to see, after our visit to Tasso's prison, and, standing in its
shadow, he related to me the occurrence which has given it a sad
celebrity. It was, in the time of the gifted toxicologist, the
residence of Lucrezia Borgia, who used to make poisonous little
suppers there, and ask the best families of Italy to partake of them.
It happened on one occasion that Lucrezia Borgia was thrust out of
a ball-room at Venice as a disreputable character, and treated with
peculiar indignity. She determined to make the Venetians repent their
unwonted accession of virtue, and she therefore allowed the occurrence
to be forgotten till the proper moment of her revenge arrived,
when she gave a supper, and invited to her board eighteen young and
handsome Venetian nobles. Upon the preparation of this repast she
bestowed all the resources of her skillful and exquisite knowledge;
and the result was, the Venetians were so felicitously poisoned
that they had just time to listen to a speech from the charming and
ingenious lady of the house before expiring. In this address she
reminded her guests of the occurrence in the Venetian ball-room, and
perhaps exulted a little tediously in her present vengeance. She was
surprised and pained when one of the guests interrupted her, and,
justifying the treatment she had received at Venice, declared himself
her natural son. The lady instantly recognized him, and in the sudden
revulsion of maternal feeling, begged him to take an antidote. This he
not only refused to do, but continued his dying reproaches, till his
mother, losing her self-command, drew her poniard and plunged it into
his heart.

The blood of her son fell upon the table-cloth, and this being hung
out of the window to dry, the wall received a stain, which neither
the sun nor rain of centuries sufficed to efface, and which was only
removed with the masonry, when it became necessary to restore the
wall under that window, a few months before the time of my visit to
Ferrara. Accordingly, the blood-stain has now disappeared; but the
conscientious artist who painted the new wall has faithfully restored
the tragic spot, by bestowing upon the stucco a bloody dash of
Venetian red.


It would be pleasant and merciful, I think, if old towns, after having
served a certain number of centuries for the use and pride of men,
could be released to a gentle, unmolested decay. I, for my part, would
like to have the ducal cities of North Italy, such as Mantua, Modena,
Parma, and Ferrara, locked up quietly within their walls, and left to
crumble and totter and fall, without any harder presence to vex them
in their decrepitude than that of some gray custodian, who should come
to the gate with clanking keys, and admit the wandering stranger, if
he gave signs of a reverent sympathy, to look for a little while upon
the reserved and dignified desolation. It is a shame to tempt these
sad old cities into unnatural activity, when they long ago made their
peace with the world, and would fain be mixing their weary brick
and mortar with the earth's unbuilded dust; and it is hard for the
emotional traveller to restrain his sense of outrage at finding them
inhabited, and their rest broken by sounds of toil, traffic, and
idleness; at seeing places that would gladly have had done with
history still doomed to be parts of political systems, to read the
newspapers, and to expose railway guides and caricatures of the Pope
and of Napoleon in their shop windows.

Of course, Ferrara was not incorporated into a living nation against
her will, and I therefore marveled the more that she had become a
portion of the present kingdom of Italy. The poor little State had
its day long before ours; it had been a republic, and then subject to
lords; and then, its lords becoming dukes, it had led a life of gayety
and glory till its fall, and given the world such names and memories
as had fairly won it the right to rest forever from making history.
Its individual existence ended with that of Alfonso II., in 1597, when
the Pope declared it reverted to the Holy See; and I always fancied
that it must have received with a spectral, yet courtly kind of
surprise, those rights of man which bloody-handed France distributed
to the Italian cities in 1796; that it must have experienced a ghostly
bewilderment in its rapid transformation, thereafter, under Napoleon,
into part of the Cispadan Republic, the Cisalpine Republic, the
Italian Republic, and the Kingdom of Italy, and that it must have sunk
back again under the rule of the Popes with gratitude and relief at
last--as phantoms are reputed to be glad when released from haunting
the world where they once dwelt. I speak of all this, not so much from
actual knowledge of facts as from personal feeling; for it seems to
me that if I were a city of the past, and must be inhabited at all,
I should choose just such priestly domination, assured that though
it consumed my substance, yet it would be well for my fame and final
repose. I should like to feel that my old churches were safe from
demolition: that my old convents and monasteries should always shelter
the pious indolence of friars and nuns. It would be pleasant to have
studious monks exploring quaint corners of my unphilosophized annals,
and gentle, snuff-taking abbés writing up episodes in the history of
my noble families, and dedicating them to the present heirs of past
renown; while the thinker and the reviewer should never penetrate
my archives. Being myself done with war, I should be glad to have my
people exempt, as they are under the Pope, from military service; and
I should hope that if the Legates taxed them, the taxes paid would be
as so many masses said to get my soul out of the purgatory of perished
capitals. Finally, I should trust that in the sanctified keeping of
the Legates my mortal part would rest as sweetly as bones laid in
hallowed earth brought from Jerusalem; and that under their serene
protection I should be forever secure from being in any way exhumed
and utilized by the ruthless hand of Progress.

However, as I said, this is a mere personal preference, and other old
cities might feel differently. Indeed, though disposed to condole with
Ferrara upon the fact of her having become part of modern Italy, I
could not deny, on better acquaintance with her, that she was still
almost entirely of the past. She has certainly missed that ideal
perfection of non-existence under the Popes which I have just
depicted, but she is practically almost as profoundly at rest under
the King of Italy. One may walk long through the longitude and
rectitude of many of her streets without the encounter of a single
face: the place, as a whole, is by no means as lively as Pompeii,
where there are always strangers; perhaps the only cities in the world
worthy to compete with Ferrara in point of agreeable solitude are
Mantua and Herculaneum. It is the newer part of the town--the modern
quarter built before Boston was settled or Ohio was known--which is
loneliest; and whatever motion and cheerfulness are still felt in
Ferrara linger fondly about the ancient holds of life--about the
street before the castle of the Dukes, and in the elder and narrower
streets branching away from the piazza of the Duomo, where, on market
days, there is a kind of dreamy tumult. In the Ghetto we were almost
crowded, and people wanted to sell us things, with an enterprise
that contrasted strangely with shopkeeping apathy elsewhere. Indeed,
surprise at the presence of strangers spending two days in Ferrara
when they could have got away sooner, was the only emotion which the
whole population agreed in expressing with any degree of energy, but
into this they seemed to throw their whole vitality. The Italians are
everywhere an artless race, so far as concerns the gratification of
their curiosity, from which no consideration of decency deters them.
Here in Ferrara they turned about and followed us with their eyes,
came to windows to see us, lay in wait for us at street-corners, and
openly and audibly debated whether we were English or German. We might
have thought this interest a tribute to something peculiar in our
dress or manner, had it not visibly attended other strangers who
arrived with us. It rose almost into a frenzy of craving to know more
of us all, when on the third day the whole city assembled before our
hotel, and witnessed, with a sort of desperate cry, the departure
of the heavy-laden omnibus which bore us and our luggage from their


I doubt if, after St. Mark's in Venice, the Duomo at Parma, and the
Four Fabrics at Pisa, there is a church more worthy to be seen for
its quaint, rich architecture, than the Cathedral at Ferrara. It is
of that beloved Gothic of which eye or soul cannot weary, and we
continually wandered back to it from other more properly interesting
objects. It is horribly restored in-doors, and its Renaissance
splendors soon drove us forth, after we had looked at the Last
Judgment by Bastianino. The style of this painting is muscular and
Michelangelic, and the artist's notion of putting his friends in
heaven and his foes in hell is by no means novel; but he has achieved
fame for his picture by the original thought of making it his revenge
for a disappointment in love. The unhappy lady who refused his love
is represented in the depths, in the attitude of supplicating the pity
and interest of another maiden in Paradise who accepted Bastianino,
and who consequently has no mercy on her that snubbed him. But I
counted of far more value than this fresco the sincere old sculptures
on the façade of the cathedral, in which the same subject is treated,
beginning from the moment the archangel's trump has sounded. The
people getting suddenly out of their graves at the summons are all
admirable; but the best among them is the excellent man with one
leg over the side of his coffin, and tugging with both hands to
pull himself up, while the coffin-lid tumbles off behind. One sees
instantly that the conscience of this early riser is clean, for he
makes no miserable attempt to turn over for a nap of a few thousand
years more, with the pretense that it was not the trump of doom, but
some other and unimportant noise he had heard. The final reward of the
blessed is expressed by the repose of one small figure in the lap of
a colossal effigy, which I understood to mean rest in Abraham's bosom;
but the artist has bestowed far more interest and feeling upon the
fate of the damned, who are all boiling in rows of immense pots. It is
doubtful (considering the droll aspect of heavenly bliss as figured
in the one small saint and the large patriarch) whether the artist
intended the condition of his sinners to be so horribly comic as it
is; but the effect is just as great, for all that, and the slowest
conscience might well take alarm from the spectacle of fate so
grotesque and ludicrous; for, wittingly or unwittingly, the artist
here punishes, as Dante knew best how to do, the folly of sinners as
well as their wickedness. Boiling is bad enough; but to be boiled in
an undeniable dinner-pot, like a leg of mutton, is to suffer shame us
well as agony.

We turned from these horrors, and walked down by the side of the Duomo
toward the Ghetto, which is not so foul as one could wish a Ghetto
to be. The Jews were admitted to Ferrara in 1275, and, throughout the
government of the Dukes, were free to live where they chose in
the city; but the Pope's Legate assigned them afterward a separate
quarter, which was closed with gates. Large numbers of Spanish Jews
fled hither during the persecutions, and there are four synagogues
for the four languages,--Spanish, German, French, and Italian. Avventi
mentions, among other interesting facts concerning the Ferrarese Jews,
that one of their Rabbins, Isaaco degli Abranelli, a man of excellent
learning in the Scriptures, claimed to be descended from David. His
children still abide in Ferrara; and it may have been one of his
kingly line that kept the tempting antiquarian's shop on the corner
from which you turn up toward the Library. I should think such a man
would find a sort of melancholy solace in such a place: filled with
broken and fragmentary glories of every kind, it would serve him for
that chamber of desolation, set apart in the houses of the Oriental
Hebrews as a place to bewail themselves in; and, indeed, this idea may
go far to explain the universal Israelitish fondness for dealing in
relics and ruins.


The Ghetto was in itself indifferent to us; it was merely our way to
the Library, whither the great memory of Ariosto invited us to see his
famous relics treasured there.

We found that the dead _literati_ of Ferrara had the place wholly to
themselves; not a living soul disputed the solitude of the halls with
the custodians, and the bust of Ariosto looked down from his monument
upon rows of empty tables, idle chairs, and dusty inkstands.

The poet, who was painted by Titian, has a tomb of abandoned ugliness,
and sleeps under three epitaphs; while cherubs frescoed on the
wall behind affect to disclose the mausoleum, by lifting a frescoed
curtain, but deceive no one who cares to consider how impossible it
would be for them to perform this service, and caper so ignobly as
they do at the same time. In fact this tomb of Ariosto shocks with
its hideousness and levity. It stood formerly in the Church of San
Benedetto, where it was erected shortly after the poet's death, and it
was brought to the Library by the French, when they turned the church
into a barracks for their troops. The poet's dust, therefore, rests
here, where the worm, working silently through the vellum volumes on
the shelves, feeds upon the immortality of many other poets. In the
adjoining hall are the famed and precious manuscripts of Ariosto and
of Tasso. A special application must be made to the librarian, in
order to see the fragment of the _Furioso_ in Ariosto's hand, and the
manuscript copy of the _Gerusalemma_, with the corrections by Tasso.
There are some pages of Ariosto's Satires, framed and glazed for the
satisfaction of the less curious; as well as a letter of Tasso's,
written from the Hospital of St. Anna, which the poet sends to a
friend, with twelve shirts, and in which he begs that his friend will
have the shirts mended, and cautions him "not to let them be mixed
with others." But when the slow custodian had at last unlocked that
more costly fragment of the _Furioso_, and placed it in my hands, the
other manuscripts had no value for me. It seems to me that the one
privilege which travel has reserved to itself, is that of making
each traveller, in presence of its treasures, forget whatever other
travellers have said or written about them. I had read so much of
Ariosto's industry, and of the proof of it in this manuscript, that I
doubted if I should at last marvel at it. But the wonder remains
with the relic, and I paid it my homage devoutly and humbly, and was
disconcerted afterward to read again in my Valery how sensibly all
others had felt the preciousness of that famous page, which, filled
with half a score of previous failures, contains in a little open
space near the margin, the poet's final triumph in a clearly written
stanza. Scarcely less touching and interesting than Ariosto's painful
work on these yellow leaves, is the grand and simple tribute which
another Italian poet was allowed to inscribe on one of them: "Vittorio
Alfieri beheld and venerated;" and I think, counting over the many
memorable things I saw on the road to Rome and the way home
again, this manuscript was the noblest thing and best worthy to be

When at last I turned from it, however, I saw that the custodian had
another relic of Messer Lodovico, which he was not ashamed to match
with the manuscript in my interest. This was the bone of one of the
poet's fingers, which the pious care of Ferrara had picked up from his
dust (when it was removed from the church to the Library), and
neatly bottled and labeled. In like manner, they keep a great deal
of sanctity in bottles with the bones of saints in Italy; but I found
very little savor of poesy hanging about this literary relic.

As if the melancholy fragment of mortality had marshaled us the way,
we went from the Library to the house of Ariosto, which stands at the
end of a long, long street, not far from the railway station. There
was not a Christian soul, not a boy, not a cat nor a dog to be seen
in all that long street, at high noon, as we looked down its narrowing
perspective, and if the poet and his friends have ever a mind for a
posthumous meeting in his little reddish brick house, there is nothing
to prevent their assembly, in broad daylight, from any part of the
neighborhood. There was no presence, however, more spiritual than a
comely country girl to respond to our summons at the door, and nothing
but a tub of corn-meal disputed our passage inside. Directly I found
the house inhabited by living people, I began to be sorry that it was
not as empty as the Library and the street. Indeed, it is much better
with Petrarch's house at Arquà, where the grandeur of the past
is never molested by the small household joys and troubles of the
present. That house is vacant, and no eyes less tender and fond than
the poet's visitors may look down from its windows over the slope of
vines and olives which it crowns; and it seemed hard, here in Ferrara,
where the houses are so many and the people are so few, that Ariosto's
house could not be left to him. _Parva sed apta mihi_, he has
contentedly written upon the front; but I doubt if he finds it large
enough for another family, though his modern housekeeper reserves him
certain rooms for visitors. To gain these, you go up to the second
story--there are but two floors--and cross to the rear of the
building, where Ariosto's chamber opens out of an ante-room, and looks
down upon a pinched and faded bit of garden. [In this garden the poet
spent much of his time--chiefly in plucking up and transplanting the
unlucky shrubbery, which was never suffered to grow three months
in the same place,--such was the poet's rage for revision. It was
probably never a very large or splendid garden, for the reason that
Ariosto gave when reproached that he who knew so well how to describe
magnificent palaces should have built such a poor little house: "It
was easier to make verses than houses, and the fine palaces in his
poem cost him no money."] In this chamber they say the poet died. It
is oblong, and not large. I should think the windows and roof were
of the poet's time, and that every thing else had been restored; I am
quite sure the chairs and inkstand are kindly-meant inventions;
for the poet's burly great arm-chair and graceful inkstand are both
preserved in the Library. But the house is otherwise decent and
probable; and I do not question but it was in the hall where we
encountered the meal-tub that the poet kept a copy of his "_Furioso_,"
subject to the corrections and advice of his visitors.

The ancestral house of the Ariosti has been within a few years
restored out of all memory and semblance of itself; and my wish to see
the place in which the poet was born and spent his childhood resulted,
after infinite search, in finding a building faced newly with stucco
and newly French-windowed.

Our _portier_ said it was the work of the late English Vice-Consul,
who had bought the house. When I complained of the sacrilege, he said:
"Yes, it is true. But then, you must know, the Ariosti were not one of
the noble families of Ferrara."


The castle of the Dukes of Ferrara, about which cluster so many sad
and splendid memories, stands in the heart of the city. I think
that the moonlight which, on the night of our arrival, showed me its
massive walls rising from the shadowy moat that surrounds them, and
its four great towers, heavily buttressed, and expanding at the top
into bulging cornices of cavernous brickwork, could have fallen on
nothing else in all Italy so picturesque, and so full of the proper
dread charm of feudal times, as this pile of gloomy and majestic
strength. The daylight took nothing of this charm from it; for the
castle stands isolated in the midst of the city, as its founder meant
that it should [The castle of Ferrara was begun in 1385 by Niccolò
d'Este to defend himself against the repetition of scenes of tumult,
in which his princely rights were invaded. One of his tax-gatherers,
Tommaso da Tortona, had, a short time before, made himself so
obnoxious to the people by his insolence and severity, that they rose
against him and demanded his life. He took refuge in the palace of
his master, which was immediately assailed. The prince's own life was
threatened, and he was forced to surrender the fugitive to the people,
who tore Tortona limb from limb, and then, after parading the city
with the mutilated remains, quietly returned to their allegiance.
Niccolò, therefore, caused this castle to be built, which he
strengthened with massive walls and towers commanding the whole city,
and rendered inaccessible by surrounding it with a deep and wide canal
from the river Reno.], and modern civilization has not crossed the
castle moat, to undignify its exterior with any visible touch of the
present. To be sure, when you enter it, the magnificent life is gone
out of the old edifice; it is no stately halberdier who stands on
guard at the gate of the drawbridge, but a stumpy Italian soldier in
baggy trousers. The castle is full of public offices, and one sees in
its courts and on its stairways, not brilliant men-at-arms, nor gay
squires and pages, but whistling messengers going from one office to
another with docketed papers, and slipshod serving-men carrying the
clerks their coffee in very dirty little pots. Dreary-looking suitors,
slowly grinding through the mills of law, or passing in the routine of
the offices, are the guests encountered in the corridors; and all that
bright-colored throng of the old days, ladies and lords, is passed
from the scene. The melodrama is over, friends, and now we have a play
of real life, founded on fact and inculcating a moral.

Of course the custodians were slow to admit any change of this kind.
If you could have believed them,--and the poor people told as many
lies as they could to make you,--you would believe that nothing had
ever happened of a commonplace nature in this castle. The taking-off
of Hugo and Parisina they think the great merit of the castle; and one
of them, seeing us, made haste to light his taper and conduct us down
to the dungeons where those unhappy lovers were imprisoned. It is the
misfortune of memorable dungeons to acquire, when put upon show, just
the reverse of those properties which should raise horror and distress
in the mind of the beholder. It was impossible to deny that the
cells of Parisina and of Hugo were both singularly warm, dry, and
comfortable; and we, who had never been imprisoned in them, found
it hard to command, for our sensation, the terror and agony of the
miserable ones who suffered there. We, happy and secure in these
dungeons, could not think of the guilty and wretched pair bowing
themselves to the headsman's stroke in the gloomy chamber under the
Hall of Aurora; nor of the Marquis, in his night-long walk, breaking
at last into frantic remorse and tears to know that his will had been
accomplished. Nay, there upon its very scene, the whole tragedy faded
from us; and, seeing our wonder so cold, the custodian tried to kindle
it by saying that in the time of the event these cells were much
dreadfuller than now, which was no doubt true. The floors of the
dungeons are both below the level of the moat, and the narrow windows,
or rather crevices to admit the light, were cut in the prodigiously
thick wall just above the water, and were defended with four
successive iron gratings. The dungeons are some distance apart: that
of Hugo was separated from the outer wall of the castle by a narrow
passage-way, while Parisina's window opened directly upon the moat.

When we ascended again to the court of the castle, the custodian,
abetted by his wife, would have interested us in two memorable wells
there, between which, he said, Hugo was beheaded; and unabashed by the
small success of this fable, he pointed out two windows in converging
angles overhead, from one of which the Marquis, looking into the
other, discovered the guilt of the lovers. The windows are now walled
up, but are neatly represented to the credulous eye by a fresco of

Valery mentions another claim upon the interest of the tourist which
this castle may make, in the fact that it once sheltered John Calvin,
who was protected by the Marchioness Renée, wife of Hercules II.; and
my _Servitore di Piazza_ (the one who knows how to read and write)
gives the following account of the matter, in speaking of the domestic
chapel which Renée had built in the castle: "This lady was learned in
belles-lettres and in the schismatic doctrines which at that time were
insinuating themselves throughout France and Germany, and with
which Calvin, Luther, and other proselytes, agitated the people,
and threatened war to the Catholic religion. Nationally fond of
innovation, and averse to the court of Rome on account of the
dissensions between her father and Pope Julius II., Renée began
to receive the teachings of Calvin, with whom she maintained
correspondence. Indeed, Calvin himself, under the name of Huppeville,
visited her in Ferrara, in 1536, and ended by corrupting her mind and
seducing her into his own errors, which produced discord between
her and her religious husband, and resulted in his placing her in
temporary seclusion, in order to attempt her conversion. Hence, the
chapel is faced with marble, paneled in relief, and studied to avoid
giving place to saints or images, which were disapproved by the almost
Anabaptist doctrines of Calvin, then fatally imbibed by the princess."

We would willingly, as Protestants, have visited this wicked chapel;
but we were prevented from seeing it, as well as the famous frescoes
of Dosso Dossi in the Hall of Aurora, by the fact that the prefect was
giving a little dinner (_pranzetto_) in that part of the castle. We
were not so greatly disappointed in reality as we made believe; but
our _servitore di piazza_ (the unlettered one) was almost moved to
_lesa maestà_ with vexation. He had been full of scorching patriotism
the whole morning; but now electing the unhappy and apologetic
custodian representative of Piedmontese tyranny, he bitterly assailed
the government of the king. In the times of His Holiness the Legates
had made it their pleasure and duty to show the whole castle to
strangers. But now strangers must be sent away without seeing its
chief beauties, because, forsooth, the prefect was giving a little
dinner. Presence of the Devil!


In our visits to the different churches in Ferrara we noticed devotion
in classes of people who are devout nowhere else in Italy. Not only
came solid-looking business men to say their prayers, but gay young
dandies, who knelt and repeated their orisons and then rose and went
seriously out. In Venice they would have posted themselves against a
pillar, sucked the heads of their sticks, and made eyes at the young
ladies kneeling near them. This degree of religion was all the more
remarkable in Ferrara, because that city had been so many years
under the Pope, and His Holiness contrives commonly to prevent the
appearance of religion in young men throughout his dominions.

Valery speaks of the delightful society which he met in the gray old
town; and it is said that Ferrara has an unusual share of culture in
her wealthy class, which is large. With such memories of learning and
literary splendor as belong to her, it would be strange if she did
not in some form keep alive the sacred flame. But, though there may
be refinement and erudition in Ferrara, she has given no great name to
modern Italian literature. Her men of letters seem to be of that race
of grubs singularly abundant in Italy,--men who dig out of archives
and libraries some topic of special and momentary interest and print
it, unstudied and unphilosophized. Their books are material, not
literature, and it is marvelous how many of them are published. A
writer on any given subject can heap together from them a mass of fact
and anecdote invaluable in its way; but it is a mass without life or
light, and must be vivified by him who uses it before it can serve the
world, which does not care for its dead local value. It remains to be
seen whether the free speech and free press of Italy can reawaken the
intellectual activity of the cities which once gave the land so many
literary capitals.

What numbers of people used to write verses in Ferrara! By operation
of the principle which causes things concerning whatever subject you
happen to be interested in to turn up in every direction, I found a
volume of these dead-and-gone immortals at a book-stall, one day, in
Venice. It is a curiously yellow and uncomfortable volume of the year
1703, printed all in italics. I suppose there are two hundred odd
rhymers selected from in that book,--and how droll the most of them
are, with their unmistakable traces of descent from Ariosto, Tasso,
and Guarini! What acres of enameled meadow there are in those pages!
Brooks enough to turn all the mills in the world go purling through
them. I should say some thousands of nymphs are constantly engaged
in weaving garlands there, and the swains keep such a piping on those
familiar notes,--_Amore, dolore, crudele_, and _miele_. Poor little
poets! they knew no other tunes. Do not now weak voices twitter from a
hundred books, in unconscious imitation of the hour's great singers?

I think some of the pleasantest people in Italy are the army
gentlemen. There is the race's gentleness in their ways, in spite of
their ferocious trade, and an American freedom of style. They brag in
a manner that makes one feel at home immediately; and met in travel,
they are ready to render any little kindness.

The other year at Reggio (which is not far from Modena) we stopped to
dine at a restaurant where the whole garrison had its coat off and was
playing billiards, with the exception of one or two officers, who were
dining. These rose and bowed as we entered their room, and when the
waiter pretended that such and such dishes were out (in Italy the
waiter, for some mysterious reason, always pretends that the best
dishes are out), they bullied him for the honor of Italy, and made him
bring them to us. Indeed, I am afraid his life was sadly harassed by
those brave men. We were in deep despair at finding no French bread,
and the waiter swore with the utmost pathos that there was none; but
as soon as his back was turned, a tightly laced little captain rose
and began to forage for the bread. He opened every drawer and cupboard
in the room, and finding none, invaded another room, captured several
loaves from the plates laid there, and brought them back in triumph,
presenting them to us amid the applause of his comrades. The dismay of
the waiter, on his return, was ineffable.

Three officers, who dined with us at the _table d'hôte_ of the Stella
d'Oro in Ferrara (and excellent dinners were those we ate there), were
visibly anxious to address us, and began not uncivilly, but still
in order that we should hear, to speculate on our nationality among
themselves. It appeared that we were Germans; for one of these
officers, who had formerly been in the Austrian service at Vienna,
recognized the word _bitter_ in our remarks on the _beccafichi_. As I
did not care to put these fine fellows to the trouble of hating us for
others' faults, I made bold to say that we were not Germans, and to
add that _bitter_ was also an English word. Ah! yes, to be sure, one
of them admitted; when he was with the Sardinian army in the Crimea,
he had frequently heard the word used by the English soldiers. He
nodded confirmation of what he said to his comrades, and then was good
enough to display what English he knew. It was barely sufficient to
impress his comrades; but it led the way to a good deal of talk in

"I suppose you gentlemen are all Piedmontese?" I said.

"Not at all," said our Crimean. "I am from Como; this gentleman, il
signor Conte, (il signor Conte bowed,) is of Piacenza; and our friend
across the table is Genoese. The army is doing a great deal to unify
Italy. We are all Italians now, and you see we speak Italian, and not
our dialects, together."

My cheap remark that it was a fine thing to see them all united under
one flag, after so many ages of mutual hate and bloodshed, turned the
talk upon the origin of the Italian flag; and that led our Crimean to
ask what was the origin of the English colors.

"I scarcely know," I said. "We are Americans."

Our friends at once grew more cordial. "Oh, Americani!" They had great
pleasure of it. Did we think Signor Leencolen would be reëlected?

I supposed that he had been elected that day, I said.

Ah! this was the election day, then. _Cospetto_!

At this the Genoese frowned superior intelligence, and the Crimean
gazing admiringly upon him, said he had been nine months at Nuova
York, and that he had a brother living there. The poor Crimean
boastfully added that he himself had a cousin in America, and that the
Americans generally spoke Spanish. The count from Piacenza wore an
air of pathetic discomfiture, and tried to invent a transatlantic
relative, as I think, but failed.

I am persuaded that none of these warriors really had kinsmen in
America, but that they all pretended to have them, out of politeness
to us, and that they believed each other. It was very kind of them,
and we were so grateful that we put no embarrassing questions. Indeed,
the conversation presently took another course, and grew to include
the whole table.

There was an extremely pretty Italian present with her newly wedded
husband, who turned out to be a retired officer. He fraternized at
once with our soldiers, and when we left the table they all rose and
made military obeisances. Having asked leave to light their cigars,
they were smoking--the sweet young bride blowing a fairy cloud from
her rosy lips with the rest. "Indeed," I heard an Italian lady once
remark, "why should men pretend to deny us the privilege of smoking?
It is so pleasant and innocent." It is but just to the Italians to
say that they do not always deny it; and there is, without doubt, a
certain grace and charm in a pretty _fumatrice_. I suppose it is a
habit not so pleasing in an ugly or middle-aged woman.




We had intended to stay only one day at Ferrara, but just at that
time the storms predicted on the Adriatic and Mediterranean coasts, by
Mathieu de la Drome, had been raging all over Italy, and the railway
communications were broken in every direction. The magnificent work
through and under the Apennines, between Bologna and Florence, had
been washed away by the mountain torrents in a dozen places, and the
roads over the plains of the Romagna had been sapped by the flood, and
rendered useless, where not actually laid under water.

On the day of our intended departure we left the hotel, with other
travellers, gayly incredulous of the landlord's fear that no train
would start for Bologna. At the station we found a crowd of people
waiting and hoping, but there was a sickly cast of doubt in some
faces, and the labeled employés of the railway wore looks of ominous
importance. Of course the crowd did not lose its temper. It sought
information of the officials running to and fro with telegrams, in
a spirit of national sweetness, and consoled itself with saying, as
Italy has said under all circumstances of difficulty for centuries:
_Ci vuol pazienza_! At last a blank silence fell upon it, as the
_Capo-Stazione_ advanced toward a well-dressed man in the crowd, and
spoke to him quietly. The well-dressed man lifted his forefinger and
waved it back and forth before his face:--

_The Well-dressed Man_.--Dunque, non si parte più? (No departures,

The _Capo-Stazione_ (waving _his_ forefinger in like manner.)--Non si
parte più. (Like a mournful echo.)

We knew quite as well from this pantomime of negation as from the
dialogue our sad fate, and submitted to it. Some adventurous spirit
demanded whether any trains would go on the morrow. The Capo-Stazione,
with an air of one who would not presume to fathom the designs of
Providence, responded: "Who knows? To-day, certainly not. To-morrow,
perhaps. But"--and vanished.

It may give an idea of the Italian way of doing things to say that, as
we understood, this break in the line was only a few miles in extent,
that trains could have approached both to and from Bologna, and that
a little enterprise on the part of the company could have passed
travellers from one side to the other with very small trouble or
delay. But the railway company was as much daunted by the inundation
as a peasant going to market, and for two months after the accident
no trains carried passengers from one city to the other. No doubt,
however, the line was under process of very solid repair meanwhile.

For the present the only means of getting to Bologna was by carriage
on the old highway, and accordingly we took passage thither in the
omnibus of the Stella d'Oro.

There was little to interest us in the country over which we rode. It
is perfectly flat, and I suppose the reader knows what quantities
of hemp and flax are raised there. The land seems poorer than in
Lombardy, and the farm-houses and peasants' cottages are small and
mean, though the peasants themselves, when we met them, looked well
fed, and were certainly well clad. The landscape lay soaking in a
dreary drizzle the whole way, and the town of Cento when we reached
it, seemed miserably conscious of being too wet and dirty to go
in-doors, and was loitering about in the rain. Our arrival gave the
poor little place a sensation, for I think such a thing as an omnibus
had not been seen there since the railway of Bologna and Ferrara was
built. We went into the principal caffè to lunch,--a caffè much too
large for Cento, with immense red-leather cushioned sofas, and a cold,
forlorn air of half-starved gentility, a clean, high-roofed caffè and
a breezy,--and thither the youthful nobility and gentry of the place
followed us, and ordered a cup of coffee, that they might sit down and
give us the pleasure of their distinguished company. They put on their
very finest manners, and took their most captivating attitudes for the
ladies' sake; and the gentlemen of our party fancied that it was for
them these young men began to discuss the Roman question. How
loud they were, and how earnest! And how often they consulted
the newspapers of the caffè! (Older newspapers I never saw off a
canal-boat.) I may tire some time of the artless vanity of the young
Italians, so innocent, so amiable, so transparent, but I think I never

The great painter Guercino was born at Cento, and they have a noble
and beautiful statue of him in the piazza, which the town caused to be
erected from contributions by all the citizens. Formerly his house
was kept for a show to the public; it was full of the pictures of the
painter and many mementos of him; but recently the paintings have been
taken to the gallery, and the house is now closed. The gallery is,
consequently, one of the richest second-rate galleries in Italy, and
one may spend much longer time in it than we gave, with great profit.
There are some most interesting heads of Christ, painted, as Guercino
always painted the Saviour, with a great degree of humanity in the
face. It is an excellent countenance, and full of sweet dignity, but
quite different from the conventional face of Christ.


At night we were again in Bologna, of which we had not seen the gloomy
arcades for two years. It must be a dreary town at all times: in a
rain it is horrible; and I think the whole race of arcaded cities,
Treviso, Padua, and Bologna, are dull, blind, and comfortless. The
effect of the buildings vaulted above the sidewalks is that of
a continuous cellarway; your view of the street is constantly
interrupted by the heavy brick pillars that support the arches; the
arcades are not even picturesque. Liking always to leave Bologna as
quickly as possible, and, on this occasion, learning that there was no
hope of crossing the Apennines to Florence, we made haste to take the
first train for Genoa, meaning to proceed thence directly to Naples by

It was a motley company that sat down in Hotel Brun the morning
after our arrival in Bologna to a breakfast of murky coffee and furry
beefsteaks, associated with sleek, greasy, lukewarm fried potatoes. I
am sure that if each of our weather-bound pilgrims had told his story,
we had been as well entertained as those at Canterbury. However, no
one thought fit to give his narrative but a garrulous old Hebrew from
London, who told us how he had been made to pay fifteen guineas for a
carriage to cross the Apennines, and had been obliged to walk part of
the way at that price. He was evidently proud, now the money was gone,
of having been cheated of so much; and in him we saw that there was
at least one human being more odious than a purse-proud
Englishman--namely, a purse-proud English Jew. He gave his noble name
after a while, as something too precious to be kept from the
company, when recommending one of the travellers to go to the Hotel
d'Angleterre in Rome: "The best 'otel out of England. You may mention
my name, if you like--Mr. Jonas." The recipient of this favor noted
down the talismanic words in his pocket-book, and Mr. Jonas, conscious
of having conferred a benefit on his race, became more odious to it
than ever. An Englishman is of a composition so uncomfortably original
that no one can copy him, though many may caricature. I saw an
American in London once who thought himself an Englishman because he
wore leg-of-mutton whiskers, declaimed against universal suffrage and
republics, and had an appetite for high game. He was a hateful animal,
surely, but he was not the British lion; and this poor Hebrew at
Bologna was not a whit more successful in his imitation of the
illustrious brute, though he talked, like him, of nothing but hotels,
and routes of travel, and hackmen and porters, and seemed to have
nothing to do in Italy but get through it as quickly and abusively as

We were very glad, I say, to part from all this at Bologna and take
the noon train for Genoa. In our car there were none but Italians,
and the exchange of "_La Perseveranza_" of Milan for "_Il Popolo_"
of Turin with one of them quickly opened the way for conversation and
acquaintance. (_En passant_: I know of no journal in the United States
whose articles are better than those of the "_Perseveranza_," and it
was gratifying to an American to read in this ablest journal of Italy
nothing but applause and encouragement of the national side in our
late war.) My new-made friend turned out to be a Milanese. He was
a physician, and had served as a surgeon in the late war of Italian
independence; but was now placed in a hospital in Milan. There was a
gentle little blonde with him, and at Piacenza, where we stopped
for lunch, "You see," said he, indicating the lady, "we are newly
married,"--which was, indeed, plain enough to any one who looked at
their joyous faces, and observed how great disposition that little
blonde had to nestle on the young man's broad shoulder. "I have a
week's leave from my place," he went on, "and this is our wedding
journey. We were to have gone to Florence, but it seems we are fated
not to see that famous city."

He spoke of it as immensely far off, and herein greatly amused us
Americans, who had outgrown distances.

"So we are going to Genoa instead, for two or three days." "Oh,
have you ever been at Genoa?" broke in the bride. "What magnificent
palaces! And then the bay, and the villas in the environs! There is
the Villa Pallavicini, with beautiful gardens, where an artificial
shower breaks out from the bushes, and sprinkles the people who pass.
Such fun!" and she continued to describe vividly a city of which
she had only heard from her husband; and it was easy to see that she
walked in paradise wherever he led her.

They say that Italian husbands and wives do not long remain fond
of each other, but it was impossible in the presence of these happy
people not to believe in the eternity of their love, and it was hard
to keep from "dropping into poetry" on account of them. Their bliss
infected every body in the car, and in spite of the weariness of our
journey, and the vexation of the misadventures which had succeeded one
another unsparingly ever since we left home, we found ourselves far on
the way to Genoa before we thought to grumble at the distance. There
was with us, besides the bridal party, a lady travelling from Bologna
to Turin, who had learned English in London, and spoke it much better
than most Londoners. It is surprising how thoroughly Italians master
a language so alien to their own as ours, and how frequently you find
them acquainted with English. From Russia the mania for this tongue
has spread all over the Continent, and in Italy English seems to be
prized first among the virtues.

As we drew near Genoa, the moon came out on purpose to show us the
superb city, and we strove eagerly for a first glimpse of the proud
capital where Columbus was born. To tell the truth, the glimpse was
but slight and false, for railways always enter cities by some mean
level, from which any picturesque view is impossible.

Near the station in Genoa, however, is the weak and ugly monument
which the municipality has lately raised to Columbus. The moon made
the best of this, which stands in a wide open space, and contrived,
with an Italian skill in the arrangement of light, to produce an
effect of undeniable splendor. On the morrow, we found out by the
careless candor of the daylight what a uselessly big head Columbus
had, and how the sculptor had not very happily thought proper to
represent him with his sea-legs on.



I had my note-book with me on this journey, and pledged myself to
make notes in it. And, indeed, I did really do something of the kind,
though the result of my labors is by no means so voluminous as I would
like it to be, now when the work of wishing there were more notes is
so easy. We spent but one day in Genoa, and I find such a marvelous
succinct record of this in my book that I am tempted to give it here,
after the fashion of that Historical Heavyweight who writes the Life
of "Frederick the Great."

    "_Genoa, November 13_.--Breakfast _à la fourchette_ excellently
    and cheaply. I buy a hat. We go to seek the Consul, and, after
    finding every thing else for two hours, find him. Genoa is the
    most magnificent city I ever saw; and the new monument to
    Columbus about the weakest possible monument. Walk through the
    city with Consul; Doge's palace; cathedral; girl turning
    somersaults in the street; blind madman on the cathedral steps.
    We leave for Naples at twelve midnight."

As for the breakfast, it was eaten at one of the many good caffè in
Genoa, and perhaps some statistician will like to know that for a
beefsteak and potatoes, with a half-bottle of Ligurian wine, we paid a
franc. For this money we had also the society of an unoccupied waiter,
who leaned against a marble column and looked on, with that gentle,
half-compassionate interest in our appetites, which seems native
to the tribe of waiters. A slight dash of surprise is in this
professional manner; and there is a faint smile on the solemn,
professional countenance, which is perhaps prompted by too intimate
knowledge of the mysteries of the kitchen and the habits of the cook.
The man who passes his life among beefsteaks cannot be expected to
love them, or to regard without wonder the avidity with which others
devour them. I imagine that service in restaurants must beget simple
and natural tastes in eating, and that the jaded men who minister
there to our pampered appetites demand only for themselves--

  "A scrip with herbs and fruits supplied,
  And water from the spring."

Turning from this thought to the purchase of my hat, I do not believe
that literary art can interest the reader in that purely personal
transaction, though I have no doubt that a great deal might be said
about buying hats as a principle. I prefer, therefore, to pass to our
search for the Consul.

A former Consul at ----, whom I know, has told me a good many stories
about the pieces of popular mind which he received at different times
from the travelling public, in reproof of his difficulty of discovery;
and I think it must be one of the most jealously guarded rights
of American citizens in foreign lands to declare the national
representative hard to find, if there is no other complaint to
lodge against him. It seems to be, in peculiar degree, a quality of
consulship at ----, to be found remote and inaccessible. My friend
says that even at New York, before setting out for his post, when
inquiring into the history of his predecessors, he heard that they
were one and all hard to find; and he relates that on the steamer,
going over, there was a low fellow who set the table in a roar by a
vulgar anecdote to this effect:--

"There was once a consul at ----, who indicated his office-hours by
the legend on his door, 'In from ten to one.' An old ship-captain,
who kept coming for about a week without finding the Consul, at last
furiously wrote, in the terms of wager, under this legend, 'Ten to one
you're out!'"

My friend also states that one day a visitor of his remarked: "I'm
rather surprised to find you in. As a general rule, I never do find
consuls in." Habitually, his fellow-countrymen entertained him with
accounts of their misadventures in reaching him. It was useless to
represent to them that his house was in the most convenient locality
in ----, where, indeed, no stranger can walk twenty rods from his
hotel without losing himself; that their guide was an ass, or their
courier a rogue. They listened to him politely, but they never
pardoned him in the least; and neither will I forgive the Consul at
Genoa. I had no earthly consular business with him, but a private
favor to ask. It was Sunday, and I could not reasonably expect to find
him at his office, or any body to tell me where he lived; but I have
seldom had so keen a sense of personal wrong and national neglect as
in my search for that Consul's house.

In Italy there is no species of fact with which any human being you
meet will not pretend to have perfect acquaintance, and, of course,
the driver whose fiacre we took professed himself a complete guide to
the Consul's whereabouts, and took us successively to the residences
of the consuls of all the South American republics. It occurred to
me that it might be well to inquire of these officials where their
colleague was to be found; but it is true that not one consul of them
was at home! Their doors were opened by vacant old women, in whom
a vague intelligence feebly guttered, like the wick of an expiring
candle, and who, after feigning to throw floods of light on the
object of my search, successively flickered out, and left me in total

Till that day, I never knew of what lofty flights stairs were capable.
As out-of-doors, in Genoa, it is either all up or down hill, so
in-doors it is either all up or down stairs. Ascending and descending,
in one palace after another, those infinite marble steps, it became
a question not solved to this hour, whether it was worse to ascend or
descend,--each ordeal in its turn seemed so much more terrible than
the other.

At last I resolved to come to an understanding with the driver, and
I spent what little breath I had left--it was dry and hot as the
simoom--in blowing up that infamous man. "You are a great driver," I
said, "not to know your own city. What are you good for if you can't
take a foreigner to his consul's?" "Signore," answered the driver
patiently, "you would have to get a book in two volumes by heart,
in order to be able to find everybody in Genoa. This city is a

Truly, it had so proved, and I could scarcely believe in my good luck
when I actually found my friend, and set out with him on a ramble
through its toils.

A very great number of the streets in Genoa are footways merely,
and these are as narrow, as dark, as full of jutting chimney-places,
balconies, and opened window-shutters, and as picturesque as the
little alleys in Venice. They wander at will around the bases of the
gloomy old stone palaces, and seem to have a vagabond fondness for
creeping down to the port, and losing themselves there in a certain
cavernous arcade which curves round the water with the flection of the
shore, and makes itself a twilight at noonday. Under it are clangorous
shops of iron-smiths, and sizzling shops of marine cooks, and, looking
down its dim perspective, one beholds chiefly sea-legs coming and
going, more or less affected by strong waters; and as the faces to
which these sea-legs belong draw near, one discerns sailors from all
parts of the world,--tawny men from Sicily and Norway, as diverse in
their tawniness as olive and train-oil; sharp faces from Nantucket
and from the Piraeus, likewise mightily different in their sharpness;
blonde Germans and blonde Englishmen; and now and then a colored
brother also in the seafaring line, with sea-legs, also, more or less
affected by strong waters like the rest.

What curious people are these seafarers! They coast the whole world,
and know nothing of it, being more ignorant and helpless than children
on shore. I spoke with the Yankee mate of a ship one day at Venice,
and asked him how he liked the city.

Well, he had not been ashore yet.

He was told he had better go ashore; that the Piazza San Marco was
worth seeing.

Well, he knew it; he had seen pictures of it; but he guessed he
wouldn't go ashore.

Why not, now he was here?

Well, he laid out to go ashore the next time he came to Venice.

And so, bless his honest soul, he lay three weeks at Venice with his
ship, after a voyage of two months, and he sailed away without ever
setting his foot on that enchanted ground.

I should have liked to stop some of those seafarers and ask them what
they thought of Genoa.

It must have been in the little streets--impassable for horses--that
the people sat and talked, as Heine fabled, in their doorways, and
touched knees with the people sitting and talking on the thresholds
of the opposite side. But we saw no gossipers there on our Sunday in
Genoa; and I think the domestic race of Heine's day no longer lives in
Genoa, for every body we saw on the streets was gayly dressed in the
idea of the last fashions, and was to be met chiefly in the public
promenades. The fashions were French; but here still lingers the
lovely phantom of the old national costume of Genoa, and snow-white
veils fluttered from many a dark head, and caressed many an olive
cheek. It is the kindest and charitablest of attirements, this white
veil, and, while decking beauty to the most perilous effect, befriends
and modifies age and ugliness.

The pleasure with which I look at the splendor of an Italian crowd in
winter is always touched with melancholy. I know that, at the time
of its noonday promenade, it has nothing but a cup of coffee in its
stomach; that it has emerged from a house as cold and dim as a cellar;
and that it will presently go home to dine on rice and boiled beef. I
know that chilblains secretly gnaw the hands inside of its kid gloves,
and I see in the rawness of its faces the anguish of winter-long
suffering from cold. But I also look at many in this crowd with the
eye of the economist, and wonder how people practicing even so great
self-denial as they can contrive to make so much display on their
little means,--how those clerks of public offices, who have rarely an
income of five hundred dollars a year, can dress with such peerless
gorgeousness. I suppose the national instinct teaches them ways and
means unknown to us. The passion for dress is universal: the men are
as fond of it as the women; and, happily, clothes are comparatively
cheap. It is no great harm in itself, this display: it is only a pity
that there is often nothing, or worse than nothing, under the shining

We walked with the brilliant Genoese crowd upon the hill where the
public promenade overlooks a landscape of city and country, houses and
gardens, vines and olives, which it makes the heart ache to behold, it
is so faultlessly beautiful. Behind us the fountain was--

  "Shaking its loosened silver in the sun;"

the birds were singing; and there were innumerable fair girls going
by, about whom one might have made romances if one had not known
better. Our friend pointed out to us the "pink jail" in which Dickens
lived while at Genoa; and showed us on the brow of a distant upland
the villa, called _Il Paradiso_, which Byron had occupied. I dare
say this Genoese joke is already in print: That the Devil reëntered
Paradise when Byron took this villa. Though, in loveliest Italy, one
is half-persuaded that the Devil had never left Paradise.

After lingering a little longer on that delicious height, we turned
and went down for a stroll through the city.

My note-book says that Genoa is the most magnificent city I ever saw,
and I hold by my note-book, though I hardly know how to prove it.
Venice is, and remains, the most beautiful city in the world; but her
ancient rival impresses you with greater splendor. I suppose that
the exclusively Renaissance architecture, which Ruskin declares the
architecture of pride, lends itself powerfully to this effect in
Genoa. It is here in its best mood, and there is little grotesque
Renaissance to be seen, though the palaces are, as usual, loaded with
ornament. The Via Nuova is the chief thoroughfare of the city, and the
crowd pours through this avenue between long lines of palaces. Height
on height rise the stately, sculptured façades, colonnaded, statued,
pierced by mighty doorways and lofty windows; and the palaces seem to
gain a kind of aristocratic _hauteur_ from the fact that there are for
the most part no sidewalks, and that the carriages, rolling insolently
through the crowd, threaten constantly to grind the pedestrian up
against their carven marbles, and immolate him to their stony pride.
There is something gracious and gentle in the grandeur of Venice,
and much that the heart loves to cling to; but in Genoa no sense of
kindliness is touched by the magnificence of the city.

It was an unspeakable relief, after such a street, to come, on a
sudden, upon the Duomo, one of the few Gothic buildings in Genoa, and
rest our jaded eyes on that architecture which Heaven seems truly to
have put into the thoughts of man together with the Christian faith.
O beloved beauty of aspiring arches, of slender and clustered columns,
of flowering capitals and window-traceries, of many-carven breadths
and heights, wherein all Nature breathes and blossoms again! There is
neither Greek perfection, nor winning Byzantine languor, nor insolent
Renaissance opulence, which may compare with this loveliness of yours!
Alas that the interior of this Gothic temple of Genoa should abound in
the abomination of rococo restoration! They say that the dust of St.
John the Baptist lies there within a costly shrine; and I wonder that
it can sleep in peace amid all that heathenish show of bad taste. But
the poor saints have to suffer a great deal in Italy.

Outside, in the piazza before the church, there was an idle, cruel
crowd, amusing itself with the efforts of a blind old man to find
the entrance. He had a number of books which he desperately laid down
while he ran his helpless hands over the clustered columns, and which
he then desperately caught up again, in fear of losing them. At other
times he paused, and wildly clasped his hands upon his eyes, or wildly
threw up his arms; and then began to run to and fro again uneasily,
while the crowd laughed and jeered. Doubtless a taint of madness
afflicted him; but not the less he seemed the type of a blind soul
that gropes darkly about through life, to find the doorway of some
divine truth or beauty,--touched by the heavenly harmonies from
within, and miserably failing, amid the scornful cries and bitter glee
of those who have no will but to mock aspiration.

The girl turning somersaults in another place had far more popular
sympathy than the blind madman at the temple door, but she was hardly
a more cheerful spectacle. For all her festive spangles and fairy-like
brevity of skirts, she had quite a work-a-day look upon her honest,
blood-red face, as if this were business though it looked like sport,
and her part of the diversion were as practical as that of the famous
captain of the waiters, who gave the act of peeling a sack of potatoes
a playful effect by standing on his head. The poor damsel was going
over and over, to the sound of most dismal drumming and braying,
in front of the immense old palace of the Genoese Doges,--a classic
building, stilted on a rustic base, and quite worthy of Palladio, if
any body thinks that is praise.

There was little left of our day when we had dined; but having seen
the outside of Genoa, and not hoping to see the inside, we found even
this little heavy on our hands, and were glad as the hour drew near
when we were to take the steamer for Naples.

It had been one of the noisiest days spent during several years in
clamorous Italy, whose voiceful uproar strikes to the summits of her
guardian Alps, and greets the coming stranger, and whose loud Addio
would stun him at parting, if he had not meanwhile become habituated
to the operatic pitch of her every-day tones. In Genoa, the hotels,
taking counsel of the vagabond streets, stand about the cavernous
arcade already mentioned, and all the noise of the shipping reaches
their guests. We rose early that Sunday morning to the sound of a
fleet unloading cargoes of wrought-iron, and of the hard swearing of
all nations of seafaring men. The whole day long the tumult followed
us, and seemed to culminate at last in the screams of a parrot, who
thought it fine to cry, "_Piove! piove! piove_!"--"It rains! it
rains! it rains!"--and had, no doubt, a secret interest in some
umbrella-shop. This unprincipled bird dwelt somewhere in the
neighborhood of the street where you see the awful tablet in the wall
devoting to infamy the citizens of the old republic that were false to
their country. The sight of that pitiless stone recalls with a thrill
the picturesque, unhappy past, with all the wandering, half-benighted
efforts of the people to rend their liberty from now a foreign and now
a native lord. At best, they only knew how to avenge their wrongs; but
now, let us hope, they have learnt, with all Italy, to prevent them.
The will was never wanting of old to the Ligurian race, and in this
time they have done their full share to establish Italian freedom.

I do not know why it should have been so surprising to hear the
boatman who rowed us to the steamer's anchorage speak English; but,
after his harsh Genoese profanity in getting his boat into open water,
it was the last thing we expected from him. It had somehow the effect
of a furious beast addressing you in your native tongue, and
telling you it was "Wary poordy wedder;" and it made us cling to his
good-nature with the trembling solicitude of Little Red-Riding-Hood,
when she begins to have the first faint suspicions of her grandmother.
However, our boatman was no wild beast, but took our six cents of
_buonamano_ with the base servility of a Christian man, when he had
put our luggage in the cabin of the steamer. I wonder how he should
have known us for Americans? He did so know us, and said he had been
at New York in better days, when he voyaged upon higher seas than
those he now navigated.

On board, we watched with compassion an old gentleman in the cabin
making a hearty meal of sardines and fruit-pie, and I asked him if
he had ever been at sea. No, he said. I could have wept over that
innocent old gentleman's childlike confidence of appetite, and
guileless trust of the deep.

We went on deck, where one of the gentle beings of our party declared
that she would remain as long as Genoa was in sight; and to tell the
truth, the scene was worthy of the promised devotion. There, in a
half-circle before us, blazed the lights of the quay; above these
twinkled the lamps of the steep streets and climbing palaces; over
and behind all hung the darkness on the heights,--a sable cloud dotted
with ruddy points of flame burning in the windows of invisible houses.

  "Merrily did we drop"

down the bay, and presently caught the heavy swell of the open sea.
The other gentle being of our party then clutched my shoulder with a
dreadful shudder, and after gasping, "O Mr. Scribbler, why _will_ the
ship roll so?" was meekly hurried below by her sister, who did not
return for a last glimpse of Genoa the Proud.

In a moment heaven's sweet pity flapped away as with the sea-gull's
wings, and I too felt that there was no help for it, and that I must
go and lie down in the cabin. With anguished eyes I beheld upon the
shelf opposite to mine the innocent old gentleman who had lately
supped so confidently on sardines and fruit-pie. He lay upon his back,
groaning softly to himself.




Like the Englishman who had no prejudices, I do hate a Frenchman; and
there were many Frenchmen among our passengers on the _Messina_, in
whose company I could hardly have been happy, had I not seen them
horribly sea-sick. After the imprudent old gentleman of the sardines
and fruit-pie, these wretched Gauls were the first to be seized with
the malady, which became epidemic, and were miserable up to the last
moment on board. To the enormity of having been born Frenchmen, they
added the crime of being commercial travellers,--a class of fellow-men
of whom we know little at home, but who are met everywhere in European
travel. They spend more than half their lives in movement from place
to place, and they learn to snatch from every kind of travel its
meagre comforts, with an insolent disregard of the rights and feelings
of other passengers. They excuse an abominable trespass with a cool
"Pardon!" take the best seat everywhere, and especially treat women
with a savage rudeness, to which an American vainly endeavors to
accustom his temper. I have seen commercial travellers of all nations,
and I think I must award the French nation the discredit of producing
the most odious commercial travellers in the world. The Englishman
of this species wraps himself in his rugs, and rolls into his corner,
defiantly, but not aggressively, boorish; the Italian is almost a
gentleman; the German is apt to take sausage out of a newspaper and
eat it with his penknife; the Frenchman aggravates human nature beyond
endurance by his restless ill-breeding, and his evident intention not
only to keep all his own advantages, but to steal some of yours upon
the first occasion. There were three of these monsters on our
steamer: one a slight, bloodless young man, with pale blue eyes and
an incredulous grin; another, a gigantic full-bearded animal in
spectacles; the third an infamous plump little creature, in absurdly
tight pantaloons, with a cast in his eye, and a habit of sucking his
teeth at table. When this wretch was not writhing in the agonies of
sea-sickness, he was on deck with his comrades, lecturing them upon
various things, to which the bloodless young man listened with his
incredulous grin, and the bearded giant in spectacles attended with a
choked look about the eyes, like a suffering ox. They were constantly
staggering in and out of their state-room, which, for my sins, was
also mine; and opening their abominable commodious travelling bags, or
brushing their shaggy heads at the reeling mirror, and since they
were born into the world, I think they had never cleaned their
finger-nails. They wore their hats at dinner, but always went away,
after soup, deadly pale.


In contrast with these cattle, what polished and courtly gentlemen
were the sailors and firemen! As for our captain, he would in any
company have won notice for his gentle and high-bred way; in his place
at the head of the table among these Frenchmen, he seemed to me the
finest gentleman I had ever seen. He had spent his whole life at sea,
and had voyaged in all parts of the world except Japan, where he meant
some day, he said, to go. He had been first a cabin-boy on a little
Genoese schooner, and he had gradually risen to the first place on
a sailing-vessel, and now he had been selected to fill a commander's
post on this line of steamers. (It is an admirable line of boats,
not belonging I believe to the Italian government, but much under its
control, leaving Genoa every day for Leghorn, Naples, Palermo, and
Ancona, on the Adriatic coast.) The captain had sailed a good deal in
American waters, but chiefly on the Pacific coast, trading from the
Spanish republican ports to those of California. He had been in that
State during its effervescent days, when every thing foul floated
to the top, and I am afraid he formed there but a bad opinion of our
people, though he was far too courteous to say outright any thing of
this sort.

He had very fine, shrewd blue eyes, a lean, weather-beaten, kindly
face, and a cautious way of saying things. I hardly expected him to
turn out so red-hot a Democrat as he did on better acquaintance, but
being a warm friend of man myself, I was not sorry. Garibaldi was
the beginning and ending of his political faith, as he is with every
enthusiastic Italian. The honest soul's conception of all concrete
evil was brought forth in two words, of odd enough application. In
Europe, and Italy more particularly, true men have suffered chiefly
from this form of evil, and the captain evidently could conceive of
no other cause of suffering anywhere. We were talking of the American
war, and when the captain had asked the usual question, "_Quando
finirà mai questa guerra_?" and I had responded as usual, "_Ah, ci
vuol pazienza_!" the captain gave a heavy sigh, and turning his head
pensively aside, plucked his grapes from the cluster a moment in

Then he said: "You Americans are in the habit of attributing this war
to slavery. The cause is not sufficient."

I ventured to demur and explain. "No," said the captain, "the cause is
not sufficient. We Italians know the only cause which could produce a
war like this."

I was naturally anxious to be instructed in the Italian theory, hoping
it might be profounder than the English notion that we were fighting
about tariffs.

The captain frowned, looked at me carefully, and then said:--

"In this world there is but one cause of mischief--the Jesuits."


The first night out, from Genoa to Leghorn, was bad enough, but that
which succeeded our departure from the latter port was by far the
worst of the three we spent in our voyage to Naples. How we envied the
happy people who went ashore at Leghorn! I think we even envied the
bones of the Venetians, Pisans, and Genoese who met and slew each
other in the long-forgotten sea-fights, and sank too deeply through
the waves to be stirred by their restless tumult. Every one has
heard tell of how cross and treacherous a sea the Mediterranean is in
winter, and my own belief is, that he who has merely been sea-sick on
the Atlantic should give the Mediterranean a trial before professing
to have suffered every thing of which human nature is capable. Our
steamer was clean enough and staunch enough, but she was not large--no
bigger, I thought, than a gondola, that night as the waves tossed her
to and fro, till unwinged things took flight all through her cabins
and over her decks. My berth was placed transversely instead of
lengthwise with the boat,--an ingenious arrangement to heighten
sea-sick horrors, and dash the blood of the sufferer from brain to
boots with exaggerated violence at each roll of the boat; and I begged
the steward to let me sleep upon one of the lockers in the cabin.
I found many of my agonized species already laid out there; and the
misery of the three French commercial travellers was so great, that,
in the excess of my own dolor, it actually afforded me a kind of
happiness, and I found myself smiling at times to see the giant, with
the eyes of a choked ox, rise up and faintly bellow. Indeed, there was
something eldritch and unearthly in the whole business, and I think a
kind of delirium must have resulted from the sea-sickness. Otherwise,
I shall not know how to account for having attributed a kind of
consciousness and individuality to the guide-book of a young American
who had come aboard at Leghorn. He turned out afterward to be the
sweetest soul in the world, and I am sorry now that I regarded with
amusement his failure to smoke off his sickness. He was reading his
guide-book with great diligence and unconcern, when suddenly I marked
him lay it softly, softly down, with that excessive deliberation which
men use at such times, and vanish with great dignity from the
scene. Thus abandoned to its own devices, this guide-book began its
night-long riots, setting out upon a tour of the cabin with the first
lurch of the boat that threw it from the table upon the floor. I heard
it careen at once wildly to the cabin door, and knock to get out; and
failing in this, return more deliberately to the stern of the boat,
interrogating the tables and chairs, which had got their sea-legs on,
and asking them how they found themselves. Arrived again at the point
of starting, it seemed to pause a moment, and then I saw it setting
forth on a voyage of pleasure in the low company of a French hat,
which, being itself a French book, I suppose it liked. In these
travels they both ran under the feet of one of the stewards and were
replaced by an immense _tour de force_ on the table, from which the
book eloped again,--this time in company with an overcoat; but it
seemed the coat was too miserable to go far: it stretched itself at
full length on the floor, and suffered the book to dance over it, back
and forth, I know not how many times. At last, as the actions of
the book were becoming unendurable, and the general sea-sickness was
waxing into a frenzy, a heavy roll, that made the whole ship shriek
and tremble, threw us all from our lockers; and gathering myself up,
bruised and sore in every fibre, I lay down again and became sensible
of a blissful, blissful lull; the machinery had stopped, and with
the mute hope that we were all going to the bottom, I fell tranquilly


It appeared that the storm had really been dangerous. Instead of being
only six hours from Naples, as we ought to be at this time, we were
got no further than Porto Longone, in the Isle of Elba. We woke in a
quiet, sheltered little bay, whence we could only behold, not feel,
the storm left far out upon the open sea. From this we turned our
heavy eyes gladly to the shore, where a white little town was settled,
like a flight of gulls upon the beach, at the feet of green and
pleasant hills, whose gentle lines rhymed softly away against the sky.
At the end of either arm of the embracing land in which we lay, stood
gray, placid old forts, with peaceful sentries pacing their bastions,
and weary ships creeping round their feet, under guns looking out so
kindly and harmlessly, that I think General ---- himself would not
have hesitated (except, perhaps, from a profound sentiment of regret
for offering the violence) to attack them. Our port was full of
frightened shipping--steamers, brigs, and schooners--of all sizes and
nations; and since it was our misfortune that Napoleon spent his exile
in Elba at Porto Ferrato instead of Porto Longone, we amused ourselves
with looking at the vessels and the white town and the soft hills,
instead of hunting up dead lion's tracks.

Our fellow-passengers began to develop themselves: the regiment of
soldiers whom we were transporting picturesquely breakfasted forward,
and the second-cabin people came aft to our deck, while the English
engineer (there are English engineers on all the Mediterranean
steamers) planted a camp-stool in a sunny spot, and sat down to read
the "Birmingham Express."

Our friends of the second cabin were chiefly officers with their wives
and families, and they talked for the most part of their sufferings
during the night. They spoke such exquisite Italian that I thought
them Tuscans, but they told me they were of Sicily, where their
beautiful speech first had life. Let us hear what they talked of in
their divine language, and with that ineffable _tonic_ accent which
no foreigner perfectly acquires, and let us for once translate the
profanities Pagan and Christian, which adorn common parlance in

"Ah, my God! how much I suffered!" says a sweet little woman with
gentle brown eyes, red, red lips, and blameless Greek lines of face.
"I broke two basins!"

"There were ten broken in all, by Diana!" says this lady's sister.

"Presence of the Devil!" says her husband; and

"Body of Bacchus!" her young brother, puffing his cigar.

"And you, sir," said the lady, turning to a handsome young fellow in
civil dress, near her, "how did you pass this horrible night?"

"Oh!" says the young man, twirling his heavy blond mustache, "mighty
well, mighty well!"

"Oh mercy of God! You were not sick?"

"I, signora, am never sea-sick. I am of the navy."

At which they all cry oh, and ah, and declare they are glad of it,
though why they should have been I don't know to this day.

"I have often wished," added the young man meditatively, and in a
serious tone, as if he had indeed given the subject much thought,
"that it might please God to let me be sea-sick once, if only that I
might know how it feels. But no!" He turned the conversation, as
if his disappointment were too sore to dwell upon; and hearing our
English, he made out to let us know that he had been at New York, and
could spik our language, which he proceeded to do, to the great pride
of his countrymen, and our own astonishment at the remarkable forms of
English speech to which he gave utterance.


We set out from Porto Longone that night at eight o'clock, and next
evening, driving through much-abated storm southward into calm waters
and clear skies, reached Naples. At noon, Monte Circeo where Circe
led her disreputable life, was a majestic rock against blue heaven
and broken clouds; after nightfall, and under the risen moon, Vesuvius
crept softly up from the sea, and stood a graceful steep, with wreaths
of lightest cloud upon its crest, and the city lamps circling far
round its bay.




Perhaps some reader of mine who visited Naples under the old disorder
of things, when the Bourbon and the Camorra reigned, will like to hear
that the pitched battle which travellers formerly fought, in landing
from their steamer, is now gone out of fashion. Less truculent boatmen
I never saw than those who rowed us ashore at Naples; they were so
quiet and peaceful that they harmonized perfectly with that tranquil
scene of drowsy-twinkling city lights, slumbrous mountains, and
calm sea, and, as they dipped softly toward us in the glare of the
steamer's lamps, I could only think of Tennyson's description:--

  "And round about the keel with faces pale,
  Dark faces pale against the rosy flame,
  The mild-eyed melancholy lotus-eaters came."

The mystery of this placidity had been already solved by our captain,
whom I had asked what price I should bargain to pay from the steamer
to the shore. "There is a tariff," said he, "and the boatmen keep to
it. The Neapolitans are good people, (_buona gente_,) and only needed
justice to make them obedient to the laws." I must say that I found
this to be true. The fares of all public conveyances are now fixed,
and the attempts which drivers occasionally make to cheat you, seem
to be rather the involuntary impulses of old habit than deliberate
intentions to do you wrong. You pay what is due, and as your man
merely rumbles internally when you turn away, you must be a very timid
_signorin_, indeed, if you buy his content with any thing more. I
fancy that all these things are now much better managed in Italy than
in America, only we grumble at them there and stand them in silence at
home. Every one can recall frightful instances of plunder, in which
he was the victim, at New York--in which the robbery had none of the
neatness of an operation, as it often has in Italy, but was a brutal
mutilation. And then as regards civility from the same kind of people
in the two countries, there is no comparison that holds in favor of
us. All questions are readily and politely answered in Italian travel,
and the servants of companies are required to be courteous to the
public whereas, one is only too glad to receive a silent snub from
such people at home.


The first sun that rose after our arrival in Naples was mild and warm
as a May sun, though we were quite in the heart of November. We early
strolled out under it into the crowded ways of the city, and drew near
as we might to that restless, thronging, gossiping southern life,
in contrast with which all northern existence seems only a sort of
hibernation. The long Toledo, on which the magnificence of modern
Naples is threaded, is the most brilliant and joyous street in
the world; but I think there is less of the quaintness of Italian
civilization to be seen in its vivacious crowds than anywhere else
in Italy. One easily understands how, with its superb length and
straightness, and its fine, respectable, commonplace-looking houses,
it should be the pride of a people fond of show; but after Venice and
Genoa it has no picturesque charm; nay, even busy Milan seems less
modern and more picturesque. The lines of the lofty palaces on the
Toledo are seldom broken by the façade of a church or other public
edifice; and when this does happen, the building is sure to be coldly
classic or frantically baroque.

You weary of the Toledo's perfect repair, of its monotonous iron
balconies, its monotonous lofty windows; and it would be insufferable
if you could not turn out from it at intervals into one of those
wondrous little streets which branch up on one hand and down on the
other, rising and falling with flights of steps between the high,
many-balconied walls. They ring all day with the motleyest life of
fishermen, fruit-venders, chestnut-roasters, and idlers of every age
and sex; and there is nothing so full of local color, unless it be the
little up-and-down-hill streets in Genoa. Like those, the by-streets
of Naples are only meant for foot-passengers, and a carriage never
enters them; but sometimes, if you are so blest, you may see a mule
climbing the long stairways, moving solemnly under a stack of straw,
or tinkling gayly down-stairs, bestridden by a swarthy, handsome
peasant--all glittering teeth and eyes and flaming Phrygian cap. The
rider exchanges lively salutations and sarcasms with the by-standers
in his way, and perhaps brushes against the bagpipers who bray
constantly in those hilly defiles. They are in Neapolitan costume,
these _pifferari_, and have their legs incomprehensibly tied up in the
stockings and garters affected by the peasantry of the provinces,
and wear brave red sashes about their waists. They are simple,
harmless-looking people, and would no doubt rob and kill in the most
amiable manner, if brigandage came into fashion in their neighborhood.

Sometimes the student of men may witness a Neapolitan quarrel in these
streets, and may pick up useful ideas of invective from the remarks of
the fat old women who always take part in the contests. But, though
we were ten days in Naples, I only saw one quarrel, and I could have
heard much finer violence of language among the gondoliers at any
ferry in Venice than I heard in this altercation.

The Neapolitans are, of course, furious in traffic. They sell a great
deal, and very boisterously, the fruit of the cactus, which is about
as large as an egg, and which they peel to a very bloody pulp, and lay
out, a sanguinary presence, on boards for purchase. It is not good
to the uncultivated taste; but the stranger may stop and drink, with
relish and refreshment, the orangeade and lemonade mixed with snow and
sold at the little booths on the street-corners. These stands looks
much like the shrines of the Madonna in other Italian cities, and a
friend of ours was led, before looking carefully into their office,
to argue immense Neapolitan piety from the frequency of their
ecclesiastical architecture. They are, indeed, the shrines of a god
much worshiped during the long Neapolitan summers; and it was the
profound theory of the Bourbon kings of Naples, that, if they kept
their subjects well supplied with snow to cool their drink, there was
no fear of revolution. It shows how liable statesmen are to err, that,
after all, the Neapolitans rose, drove out the Bourbons, and welcomed

The only part of the picturesque life of the side streets which seems
ever to issue from them into the Toledo is the goatherd with his
flock of milch-goats, which mingle with the passers in the avenues as
familiarly as with those of the alley, and thrust aside silk-hidden
hoops, and brush against dandies' legs, in their course, but keep on
perfect terms with every body. The goatherd leads the eldest of the
flock, and the rest follow in docile order and stop as he stops to ask
at the doors if milk is wanted. When he happens to have an order, one
of the goats is haled, much against her will, into the entry of a,
house, and there milked, while the others wait outside alone, nibbling
and smelling thoughtfully about the masonry. It is noticeable that
none of the good-natured passers seem to think these goats a great
nuisance in the crowded street; but all make way for them as if they
were there by perfect right, and were no inconvenience.

On the Toledo people keep upon the narrow sidewalks, or strike out
into the carriage-way, with an indifference to hoofs and wheels which
one, after long residence in tranquil Venice, cannot acquire, in
view of the furious Neapolitan driving. That old comprehensive gig of
Naples, with which many pens and pencils have familiarized the reader,
is nearly as hard to find there now as the _lazzaroni_, who have gone
out altogether. You may still see it in the remoter quarters of
the city, with its complement of twelve passengers to one horse,
distributed, two on each thill, four on the top seats, one at each
side, and two behind; but in the Toledo it has given place to much
finer vehicles. Slight buggies, which take you anywhere for half a
franc, are the favorite means of public conveyance, and the private
turn-outs are of every description and degree. Indeed, all the
Neapolitans take to carriages, and the Strand in London at six o'clock
in the evening is not a greater jam of wheels than the Toledo in the
afternoon. Shopping feels the expansive influence of the out-of-doors
life, and ladies do most of it as they sit in their open carriages
at the shop-doors, ministered to by the neat-handed shopmen. They are
very languid ladies, as they recline upon their carriage cushions;
they are all black-eyed, and of an olive pallor, and have gloomy rings
about their fine eyes, like the dark-faced dandies who bow to them.
This Neapolitan look is very curious, and I have not seen it elsewhere
in Italy; it is a look of peculiar pensiveness, and comes, no doubt,
from the peculiarly heavy growth of lashes which fringes the lower
eyelid. Then there is the weariness in it of all peoples whose summers
are fierce and long.

As the Italians usually dress beyond their means, the dandies of
Naples are very gorgeous. If it is now, say, four o'clock in the
afternoon, they are all coming down the Toledo with the streams
of carriages bound for the long drive around the bay. But our
foot-passers go to walk in the beautiful Villa Reale, between this
course and the sea. The Villa is a slender strip of Paradise, a mile
long; it is rapture to walk in it, and it comes, in description, to
be a garden-grove, with feathery palms, Greekish temples, musical
fountains, white statues of the gods, and groups of fair girls in
spring silks. If I remember aright, the sun is always setting on the
bay, and you cannot tell whether this sunset is cooled by the water
or the water is warmed by the golden light upon it, and upon the city,
and upon all the soft mountain-heights around.


Walking westward through the whole length of the Villa Reale, and
keeping with the crescent shore of the bay, you come, after a while,
to the Grot of Posilippo, which is not a grotto but a tunnel cut for
a carriage-way under the hill. It serves, however, the purpose of a
grotto, if a grotto has any, and is of great length and dimness, and
is all a-twinkle night and day with numberless lamps. Overlooking the
street which passes into it is the tomb of Virgil, and it is this
you have come to see. To reach it, you knock first at the door of a
blacksmith, who calls a species of custodian, and, when this
latter has opened a gate in a wall, you follow him up-stairs into a

In one corner, and standing in a leafy and grassy shelter somewhat
away from the vegetables, is the poet's tomb, which has a kind of
claim to genuineness by virtue of its improbable appearance. It looks
more like a bake-oven than even the Pompeian tombs; the masonry is
antique, and is at least in skillful imitation of the fine Roman work.
The interior is a small chamber with vaulted or wagon-roof ceiling,
under which a man may stand upright, and at the end next the street
is a little stone commemorating the place as Virgil's tomb, which was
placed there by the Queen of France in 1840, and said by the custodian
(a singularly dull ass) to be an exact copy of the original, whatever
the original may have been. This guide could tell us nothing more
about it, and was too stupidly honest to pretend to know more. The
laurel planted by Petrarch at the door of the tomb, and renewed
in later times by Casimir Delavigne, has been succeeded by a third
laurel. The present twig was so slender, and looked so friendless and
unprotected, that even enthusiasm for the memory of two poets could
not be brought to rob it of one of its few leaves; and we contented
ourselves with plucking some of the grass and weeds that grew
abundantly on the roof of the tomb.

There was a dusty quiet within the tomb, and a grassy quiet without,
that pleased exceedingly; but though the memories of the place were
so high and epic, it only suggested bucolic associations, and, sunken
into that nook of hill-side verdure, made me think of a spring-house
on some far-away Ohio farm; a thought that, perhaps, would not have
offended the poet, who loved and sang of humble country things, and,
drawing wearily to his rest here, no doubt turned and remembered
tenderly the rustic days before the excellent veterans of Augustus
came to exile him from his father's farm at Mantua, and banish him to
mere glory. But I believe most travellers have much nobler sensations
in Virgil's tomb, and there is a great deal of testimony borne to
their lofty sentiments on every scribbleable inch of its walls. Valery
reminded me that Boccaccio, standing near it of old, first felt his
fate decided for literature. Did he come there, I wonder, with poor
Fiammetta, and enter the tomb with her tender hand in his, before ever
he thought of that cruel absence she tells of? "O donne pietose!" I
hope so, and that this pilgrimage, half of love and half of letters,
took place, "nel tempo nel quale la rivestita terra più che tutto
l'altro anno si mostra bella."

If you ascend from the tomb and turn Naplesward from the crest of the
hill, you have the loveliest view in the world of the sea and of the
crescent beach, mightily jeweled at its further horn with the black
Castel dell' Ovo. Fishermen's children are playing all along the
foamy border of the sea, and boats are darting out into the surf. The
present humble muse is not above saying also that the linen which the
laundresses hang to dry upon lines along the beach takes the sun like
a dazzling flight of white birds, and gives a breezy life to the scene
which it could not spare.


There was a little church on our way back from Posilippo, into which
we lounged a moment, pausing at the altar of some very successful
saint near the door. Here there were great numbers of the usual
offerings from the sick whom the saint had eased of their various
ills,--waxen legs and arms from people who had been in peril of
losing their limbs, as well as eyes, noses, fingers, and feet, and the
crutches of those cured of lameness; but we were most amused with the
waxen effigies of several entire babies hung up about the altar, which
the poor souls who had been near losing the originals had brought
there in gratitude to the saint.

Generally, however, the churches of Naples are not very interesting,
and one who came away without seeing them would have little to regret.
The pictures are seldom good, and though there are magnificent
chapels in St. Januarius, and fine Gothic tombs at Santa Chiara,
the architecture is usually rococo. I fancy that Naples has felt the
damage of Spanish taste in such things as well as Spanish tyranny in
others. Indeed, I saw much there which reminded me of what I had read
about Spain rather than what I had seen in Italy; and all Italian
writers are agreed in attributing the depravation of Naples to the
long Spanish dominion. It is well known how the Spaniards rule their
provinces, and their gloomy despotism was probably never more cruelly
felt than in Italy, where the people were least able to bear it. I
had a heart-felt exultation in walking through the quarter of the city
where the tumults of Massaniello had raged, and, if only for a few
days, struck mortal terror to the brutal pride of the viceroy; but
I think I had a better sense of the immense retribution which has
overtaken all memory of Spanish rule in Naples as we passed through
the palace of Capo di Monte. This was the most splendid seat of the
Spanish Bourbon, whose family, inheriting its power from the violence
of other times, held it with violence in these; and in one of the
chief saloons of the palace, which is now Victor Emanuel's, were
pictures representing scenes of the revolution of 1860, while the
statuette of a Garibaldino, in his red shirt and all his heroic
rudeness, was defiantly conspicuous on one of the tables.


There was nothing else that pleased me as well in the palace, or in
the grounds about it. These are all laid out in pleasant successions
of grove, tangled wilderness, and pasture-land, and were thronged,
the Saturday afternoon of our visit, with all ranks of people, who
strolled through the beautiful walks and enjoyed themselves in the
peculiarly peaceful Italian way. Valery says that the Villa Reale in
the Bourbon time was closed, except for a single day in the year,
to all but the nobles; and that on this occasion it was filled with
pretty peasant women, who made it a condition of their marriage
bargains that their husbands should bring them to the Villa Reale on
St. Mary's Day. It is now free to all on every day of the year, and
the grounds of the Palace Capo di Monte are opened every Saturday. I
liked the pleasant way in which sylvan Nature and Art had made friends
in these beautiful grounds, in which Nature had consented to overlook
even the foolish vanity of the long aisles of lime, cut and trimmed in
formal and fantastic shapes, according to the taste of the silly times
of bagwigs and patches. On every side wild birds fluttered through
these absurd trees, and in the thickets lurked innumerable pheasants,
which occasionally issued forth and stalked in stately, fearless
groups over the sunset-crimsoned lawns. There was a brown gamekeeper
for nearly every head of game, wearing a pheasant's wing in his hat
and carrying a short, heavy sword; and our driver told us, with an
awful solemnity in his bated breath, that no one might kill this game
but the king, under penalty of the galleys.


We went one evening to the opera at San Carlo. It is one of the three
theatres--San Carlo of Naples, La Scala of Milan, and Fenice of
Venice--on which the Italians pride themselves; and it is certainly
very large and imposing. The interior has a _bel colpo d'occhio_,
which is what many Italians chiefly value in morals, manners, and
architecture; but after this comes great shabbiness of detail. The
boxes, even of the first order, are paved with brick tiles, and the
red velvet border of the box which the people see from the pit is not
supported in style by the seats within, which are merely covered with
red oil-cloth. The opera we saw was also second-rate, and was to the
splendor of the scenic arrangements what the oil-cloth was to the
velvet. The house was full of people, but the dress of the audience
was not so fine as we had expected in Naples. The evening dress is not
_de rigueur_ at Italian theatres, and people seemed to have come to
San Carlo in any pleasant carelessness of costume.


The Italians are simple and natural folks, pleased through all
their show of conventionality with little things, and as easy and
unconscious as children in their ways. There happened to be a new
caffè opened in Naples while we were there, and we had the pleasure
of seeing all ranks of people affected by its magnificence. Artless
throngs blocked the sidewalk day and night before its windows, gazing
upon its mirrors, fountains, and frescos, and regarding the persons
over their coffee within as beings lifted by sudden magic out of the
common orbit of life and set dazzling in a higher sphere. All the
waiters were uniformed and brass-buttoned to blinding effect, and the
head waiter was a majestic creature in a long blue coat reaching to
his feet, and armed with a mighty silver-headed staff. This gorgeous
apparition did nothing but walk up and down, and occasionally advance
toward the door, as if to disperse the crowds. At such times, however,
before executing his purpose, he would glance round on the splendors
they were admiring, and, as if smitten with a sense of the enormous
cruelty he had meditated in thinking to deprive them of the sight,
would falter and turn away, leaving his intent unfulfilled.




On the second morning after our arrival in Naples, we took the seven
o'clock train, which leaves the Nineteenth Century for the first cycle
of the Christian Era, and, skirting the waters of the Neapolitan bay
almost the whole length of our journey, reached the railway station
of Pompeii in an hour. As we rode along by that bluest sea, we saw
the fishing-boats go out, and the foamy waves (which it would be an
insolent violence to call breakers) come in; we saw the mountains
slope their tawny and golden manes caressingly downward to the waters,
where the islands were dozing yet; and landward, on the left, we saw
Vesuvius, with his brown mantle of ashes drawn close about his throat,
reclining on the plain, and smoking a bland and thoughtful morning
pipe, of which the silver fumes curled lightly, lightly upward in the

We dismounted at the station, walked a few rods eastward through a
little cotton-field, and found ourselves at the door of Hotel Diomed,
where we took breakfast for a number of sesterces which I am sure
it would have made an ancient Pompeian stir in his urn to think of
paying. But in Italy one learns the chief Italian virtue, patience,
and we paid our account with the utmost good nature. There was
compensation in store for us, and the guide whom we found at the gate
leading up the little hill to Pompeii inclined the disturbed balance
in favor of our happiness. He was a Roman, spoke Italian that Beatrice
might have addressed to Dante, and was numbered Twenty-six. I suppose
it is known that the present Italian Government forbids people to
be pillaged in any way on its premises, and that the property of the
State is no longer the traffic of custodians and their pitiless
race. At Pompeii each person pays two francs for admission, and is
rigorously forbidden by recurrent sign-boards to offer money to the
guides. Ventisei (as we shall call him) himself pointed out one of
these notices in English, and did his duty faithfully without asking
or receiving fees in money. He was a soldier, like all the other
guides, and was a most intelligent, obliging fellow, with a
self-respect and dignity worthy of one of our own volunteer soldiers.

Ventisei took us up the winding slope, and led us out of this living
world through the Sea-gate of Pompeii back into the dead past--the
past which, with all its sensuous beauty and grace, and all its
intellectual power, I am not sorry to have dead, and for the most
part, buried. Our feet had hardly trodden the lava flagging of the
narrow streets when we came in sight of the laborers who were exhuming
the inanimate city. They were few in number, not perhaps a score, and
they worked tediously, with baskets to carry away the earth from the
excavation, boys and girls carrying the baskets, and several athletic
old women plying picks, while an overseer sat in a chair near by, and
smoked, and directed their exertions.

They dig down about eight or ten feet, uncovering the walls and
pillars of the houses, and the mason, who is at hand, places little
iron rivets in the stucco to prevent its fall where it is weak, while
an artist attends to wash and clean the frescos as fast as they are
exposed. The soil through which the excavation first passes is not
of great depth; the ashes which fell damp with scalding rain, in the
second eruption, are perhaps five feet thick; the rest is of that
porous stone which descended in small fragments during the first
eruption. A depth of at least two feet in this stone is always left
untouched by the laborers till the day when the chief superintendent
of the work comes out from Naples to see the last layers removed;
and it is then that the beautiful mosaic pavements of the houses are
uncovered, and the interesting and valuable objects are nearly always

The wonder was, seeing how slowly the work proceeded, not that
two thirds of Pompeii were yet buried, but that one third had been
exhumed. We left these hopeless toilers, and went down-town into the
Forum, stepping aside on the way to look into one of the Pompeian
Courts of Common Pleas.


Now Pompeii is, in truth, so full of marvel and surprise, that it
would be unreasonable to express disappointment with Pompeii in
fiction. And yet I cannot help it. An exuberant carelessness of phrase
in most writers and talkers who describe it had led me to expect much
more than it was possible to find there. In my Pompeii I confess that
the houses had no roofs--in fact, the rafters which sustained the
tiles being burnt, how could the roofs help falling in? But otherwise
my Pompeii was a very complete affair: the walls all rose to their
full height; doorways and arches were perfect; the columns were all
unbroken and upright; putting roofs on my Pompeii, you might have
lived in it very comfortably. The real Pompeii is different. It is
seldom that any wall is unbroken; most columns are fragmentary; and
though the ground-plans are always distinct, very few rooms in the
city are perfect in form, and the whole is much more ruinous than I

But this ruin once granted, and the idle disappointment at its
greatness overcome, there is endless material for study, instruction,
and delight. It is the revelation of another life, and the utterance
of the past is here more perfect than anywhere else in the world.
Indeed, I think that the true friend of Pompeii should make it a
matter of conscience, on entering the enchanted city, to cast out of
his knowledge all the rubbish that has fallen into it from novels and
travels, and to keep merely the facts of the town's luxurious life
and agonizing death, with such incidents of the eruption as he can
remember from the description of Pliny. These are the spells to
which the sorcery yields, and with these in your thought you can
rehabilitate the city until Ventisei seems to be a _valet de place_ of
the first century, and yourselves a set of blond barbarians to whom he
is showing off the splendors of one of the most brilliant towns of the
empire of Titus. Those sad furrows in the pavement become vocal with
the joyous rattle of chariot-wheels on a sudden, and you prudently
step up on the narrow sidewalks and rub along by the little shops
of wine, and grain, and oil, with which the thrifty voluptuaries of
Pompeii flanked their street-doors. The counters of these shops run
across their fronts, and are pierced with round holes on the top,
through which you see dark depths of oil in the jars below, and not
sullen lumps of ashes; those stately _amphoræ_ behind are full of
wine, and in the corners are bags of wheat.

"This house, with a shop on either side, whose is it, XXVI.?"

"It is the house of the great Sallust, my masters. Would you like his
autograph? I know one of his slaves who would sell it."

You are a good deal stared at, naturally, as you pass by, for people
in Pompeii have not much to do, and, besides, a Briton is not an
every-day sight there, as he will be one of these centuries. The skins
of wild beasts are little worn in Pompeii; and those bold-eyed Roman
women think it rather odd that we should like to powder our shaggy
heads with brick-dust. However, these are matters of taste. We, for
our part, cannot repress a feeling of disgust at the loungers in the
street, who, XXVI. tells us, are all going to soak themselves half the
day in the baths yonder; for, if there is in Pompeii one thing more
offensive than another to our savage sense of propriety, it is the
personal cleanliness of the inhabitants. We little know what a change
for the better will be wrought in these people with the lapse of time,
and that they will yet come to wash themselves but once a year, as we

(The reader may go on doing this sort of thing at some length for
himself; and may imagine, if he pleases, a boastful conversation among
the Pompeians at the baths, in which the barbarians hear how Agricola
has broken the backbone of a rebellion in Britain; and in which all
the speakers begin their observations with "Ho! my Lepidus!" and "Ha!
my Diomed!" In the mean time we return to the present day, and step
down the Street of Plenty along with Ventisei.)


It is proper, after seeing the sites of some of the principal temples
in Pompeii (such as those of Jupiter and Venus), to cross the fields
that cover a great breadth of the buried city, and look into the
amphitheatre, where, as every body knows, the lions had no stomach
for Glaucus on the morning of the fatal eruption. The fields are now
planted with cotton, and of course we thought those commonplaces about
the wonder the Pompeians would feel could they come back to see that
New-World plant growing above their buried homes. We might have told
them, the day of our visit, that this cruel plant, so long watered
with the tears of slaves, and fed with the blood of men, was now an
exile from its native fields, where war was plowing with sword and
shot the guilty land, and rooting up the subtlest fibres of the
oppression in which cotton had grown king. And the ghosts of wicked
old Pompeii, remembering the manifold sins that called the fires of
hell to devour her, and thinking on this exiled plant, the latest
witness of God's unforgetting justice, might well have shuddered,
through all their shadow, to feel how terribly He destroys the enemies
of Nature and man.

But the only Pompeian presences which haunted our passage of the
cotton-field were certain small

  "Phantoms of delight,"

with soft black eyes and graceful ways, who ran before us and plucked
the bolls of the cotton and sold them to us. Embassies bearing red and
white grapes were also sent out of the cottages to our excellencies;
and there was some doubt of the currency of the coin which we gave
these poor children in return.

There are now but few peasants living on the land over the head of
Pompeii, and the Government allows no sales of real estate to be made
except to itself. The people who still dwell here can hardly be said
to own their possessions, for they are merely allowed to cultivate
the soil. A guard stationed night and day prevents them from making
excavations, and they are severely restricted from entering the
excavated quarters of the city alone.

The cotton whitens over two thirds of Pompeii yet interred: happy the
generation that lives to learn the wondrous secrets of that sepulchre!
For, when you have once been at Pompeii, this phantasm of the past
takes deeper hold on your imagination than any living city, and
becomes and is the metropolis of your dreamland forever. O marvelous
city! who shall reveal the cunning of your spell? Something not
death, something not life--something that is the one when you turn
to determine its essence as the other! What is it comes to me at this
distance of that which I saw in Pompeii? The narrow and curving, but
not crooked streets, with the blazing sun of that Neapolitan November
falling into them, or clouding their wheel-worn lava with the black,
black shadows of the many-tinted walls; the houses, and the gay
columns of white, yellow, and red; the delicate pavements of mosaic;
the skeletons of dusty cisterns and dead fountains; inanimate garden
spaces with pygmy statues suited to their littleness; suites of fairy
bed-chambers, painted with exquisite frescos; dining-halls with
joyous scenes of hunt and banquet on their walls; the ruinous sites
of temples; the melancholy emptiness of booths and shops and jolly
drinking-houses; the lonesome tragic theatre, with a modern Pompeian
drawing water from a well there; the baths with their roofs perfect
yet, and the stucco bass-reliefs all but unharmed; around the whole,
the city wall crowned with slender poplars; outside the gates, the
long avenue of tombs, and the Appian Way stretching on to Stabiae;
and, in the distance, Vesuvius, brown and bare, with his fiery breath
scarce visible against the cloudless heaven;--these are the things
that float before my fancy as I turn back to look at myself walking
those enchanted streets, and to wonder if I could ever have been so

For there is nothing on the earth, or under it, like Pompeii.

The amphitheatre, to which we came now, after our stroll across the
cotton-fields, was small, like the vastest things in Pompeii, and had
nothing of the stately magnificence of the Arena at Verona, nor any
thing of the Roman Coliseum's melancholy and ruinous grandeur. But its
littleness made it all the more comfortable and social, and, seated
upon its benches under a cool awning, one could have almost chatted
across the arena with one's friends; could have witnessed the
spectacle on the sands without losing a movement of the quick
gladiators, or an agony of the victim given to the beasts--which must
have been very delightful to a Pompeian of companionable habits
and fine feelings. It is quite impossible, however, that the bouts
described by Bulwer as taking place all at the same time on the arena
should really have done so: the combatants would have rolled and
tumbled and trampled over each other an hundred times in the narrow

Of all the voices with which it once rang the poor little amphitheatre
has kept only an echo. But this echo is one of the most perfect ever
heard: prompt clear, startling, it blew back the light chaff we threw
to it with amazing vehemence, and almost made us doubt if it were not
a direct human utterance. Yet how was Ventisei to know our names? And
there was no one else to call them but ourselves. Our "_dolce duca_"
gathered a nosegay from the crumbling ledges, and sat down in the cool
of the once-cruel cells beneath, and put it prettily together for the
ladies. When we had wearied ourselves with the echo he arose and led
us back into Pompeii.


The plans of nearly all the houses in the city are alike: the
entrance-room next the door; the parlor or drawing-room next that;
then the _impluvium_, or unroofed space in the middle of the house,
where the rains were caught and drained into the cistern, and where
the household used to come to wash itself, primitively, as at a pump;
the little garden, with its painted columns, behind the _impluvium_,
and, at last, the dining-room. There are minute bed-chambers on either
side, and, as I said, a shop at one side in front, for the sale of the
master's grain, wine, and oil. The pavements of all the houses are of
mosaic, which, in the better sort, is very delicate and beautiful, and
is found sometimes perfectly uninjured. An exquisite pattern, often
repeated, is a ground of tiny cubes of white marble with dots of black
dropped regularly into it. Of course there were many picturesque and
fanciful designs, of which the best have been removed to the Museum
in Naples; but several good ones are still left, and (like that of the
Wild Boar) give names to the houses in which they are found.

But, after all, the great wonder, the glory, of these Pompeian houses
is in their frescos. If I tried to give an idea of the luxury of color
in Pompeii, the most gorgeous adjectives would be as poorly able to
reproduce a vivid and glowing sense of those hues as the photography
which now copies the drawing of the decorations; so I do not try.

I know it is a cheap and feeble thought, and yet, let the reader
please to consider: A workman nearly two thousand years laying upon
the walls those soft lines that went to make up fauns and satyrs,
nymphs and naiads, heroes and gods and goddesses; and getting weary
and lying down to sleep, and dreaming of an eruption of the mountain;
of the city buried under a fiery hail, and slumbering in its bed of
ashes seventeen centuries; then of its being slowly exhumed, and,
after another lapse of years, of some one coming to gather the shadow
of that dreamer's work upon a plate of glass, that he might infinitely
reproduce it and sell it to tourists at from five francs to fifty
centimes a copy--I say, consider such a dream, dreamed in the hot
heart of the day, after certain cups of Vesuvian wine! What a piece of
_Katzenjämmer_ (I can use no milder term) would that workman think it
when he woke again! Alas! what is history and the progress of the arts
and sciences but one long _Katzenjämmer_!

Photography cannot give, any more than I, the colors of the frescos,
but it can do the drawing better, and, I suspect, the spirit also. I
used the word workman, and not artist, in speaking of the decoration
of the walls, for in most cases the painter was only an artisan, and
did his work probably by the yard, as the artisan who paints walls and
ceilings in Italy does at this day. But the old workman did his work
much more skillfully and tastefully than the modern--threw on expanses
of mellow color, delicately paneled off the places for the scenes, and
penciled in the figures and draperies (there are usually more of the
one than the other) with a deft hand. Of course, the houses of the
rich were adorned by men of talent; but it is surprising to see the
community of thought and feeling in all this work, whether it be from
cunninger or clumsier hands. The subjects are nearly always chosen
from the fables of the gods, and they are in illustration of the
poets, Homer and the rest. To suit that soft, luxurious life which
people led in Pompeii, the themes are commonly amorous, and sometimes
not too chaste; there is much of Bacchus and Ariadne, much of Venus
and Adonis, and Diana bathes a good deal with her nymphs,--not to
mention frequent representations of the toilet of that beautiful
monster which the lascivious art of the time loved to depict. One of
the most pleasing of all the scenes is that in one of the houses, of
the Judgment of Paris, in which the shepherd sits upon a bank in
an attitude of ineffable and flattered importance, with one leg
carelessly crossing the other, and both hands resting lightly on his
shepherd's crook, while the goddesses before him await his sentence.
Naturally the painter has done his best for the victress in this
rivalry, and you see

  "Idalian Aphrodite beautiful,"

as she should be, but with a warm and piquant spice of girlish
resentment in her attitude, that Paris should pause for an instant,
which is altogether delicious.

  "And I beheld great Here's angry eyes."

Awful eyes! How did the painter make them? The wonder of all these
pagan frescos is the mystery of the eyes--still, beautiful, unhuman.
You cannot believe that it is wrong for those tranquil-eyed men and
women to do evil, they look so calm and so unconscious in it all; and
in the presence of the celestials, as they bend upon you those eternal
orbs, in whose regard you are but a part of space, you feel that here
art has achieved the unearthly. I know of no words in literature which
give a _sense_ (nothing gives the idea) of the _stare_ of these gods,
except that magnificent line of Kingsley's, describing the advance
over the sea toward Andromeda of the oblivious and unsympathizing
Nereids. They floated slowly up, and their eyes

  "Stared on her, silent and still, like the eyes in the house
  of the idols."

The colors of this fresco of the Judgment of Paris are still so fresh
and bright, that it photographs very well, but there are other frescos
wherein there is more visible perfection of line, but in which the
colors are so dim that they can only be reproduced by drawings. One of
these is the Wounded Adonis cared for by Venus and the Loves; in which
the story is treated with a playful pathos wonderfully charming.
The fair boy leans in the languor of his hurt toward Venus, who sits
utterly disconsolate beside him, while the Cupids busy themselves
with such slight surgical offices as Cupids may render: one prepares a
linen bandage for the wound, another wraps it round the leg of Adonis,
another supports one of his heavy arms, another finds his own emotions
too much for him and pauses to weep. It is a pity that the colors of
this beautiful fresco are grown so dim, and a greater pity that most
of the other frescos in Pompeii must share its fate, and fade away.
The hues are vivid when the walls are first uncovered, and the ashes
washed from the pictures, but then the malice of the elements begins
anew, and rain and sun draw the life out of tints which the volcano
failed to obliterate. In nearly all cases they could be preserved
by throwing a roof above the walls, and it is a wonder that the
Government does not take this slight trouble to save them.

Among the frescos which told no story but their own, we were most
pleased with one in a delicately painted little bed-chamber. This
represented an alarmed and furtive man, whom we at once pronounced The
Belated Husband, opening a door with a night-latch. Nothing could have
been better than this miserable wretch's cowardly haste and cautious
noiselessness in applying his key; apprehension sat upon his brow,
confusion dwelt in his guilty eye. He had been out till two o'clock
in the morning, electioneering for Pansa, the friend of the people
("Pansa, and Roman gladiators," "Pansa, and Christians to the Beasts,"
was the platform), and he had left his _placens uxor_ at home alone
with the children, and now within this door that _placens uxor_
awaited him!


You have read, no doubt, of their discovering, a year or two since,
in making an excavation in a Pompeian street, the molds of four human
bodies, three women and a man, who fell down, blind and writhing, in
the storm of fire eighteen hundred years ago; whose shape the settling
and hardening ashes took; whose flesh wasted away, and whose bones lay
there in the hollow of the matrix till the cunning of this time found
them, and, pouring liquid plaster round the skeletons, clothed them
with human form again, and drew them forth into the world once more.
There are many things in Pompeii which bring back the gay life of the
city, but nothing which so vividly reports the terrible manner of her
death as these effigies of the creatures that actually shared it. The
man in the last struggle has thrown himself upon his back and taken
his doom sturdily--there is a sublime calm in his rigid figure. The
women lie upon their faces, their limbs tossed and distorted, their
drapery tangled and heaped about them, and in every fibre you see how
hard they died. One presses her face into her handkerchief to draw
one last breath unmixed with scalding steam; another's arms are wildly
thrown abroad to clutch at help; another's hand is appealingly raised,
and on her slight fingers you see the silver hoops with which her poor
dead vanity adorned them.

The guide takes you aside from the street into the house where they
lie, and a dreadful shadow drops upon your heart as you enter their
presence. Without, the hell-storm seems to fall again, and the whole
sunny plain to be darkened with its ruin, and the city to send up the
tumult of her despair.

What is there left in Pompeii to speak of after this? The long street
of tombs outside the walls? Those that died before the city's burial
seem to have scarcely a claim to the solemnity of death.

Shall we go see Diomed's Villa, and walk through the freedman's long
underground vaults, where his friends thought to be safe, and were
smothered in heaps? The garden-ground grows wild among its broken
columns with weeds and poplar saplings; in one of the corridors they
sell photographs, on which, if you please, Ventisei has his bottle,
or drink-money. So we escape from the doom of the calamity, and so, at
last, the severely forbidden _buonamano_ is paid. A dog may die many
deaths besides choking with butter.

We return slowly through the city, where we have spent the whole day,
from nine till four o'clock. We linger on the way, imploring Ventisei
if there is not something to be seen in this or that house; we make
our weariness an excuse for sitting down, and cannot rend ourselves
from the bliss of being in Pompeii.

At last we leave its gates, and swear each other to come again many
times while in Naples, and never go again.

Perhaps it was as well. You cannot repeat great happiness.




The road from Naples to Herculaneum is, in fact, one long street; it
hardly ceases to be city in Naples till it is town at Portici, and in
the interval it is suburb, running between palatial lines of villas,
which all have their names ambitiously painted over their doors. Great
part of the distance this street is bordered by the bay, and, as far
as this is the case, it is picturesque, as every thing is belonging to
marine life in Italy. Sea-faring people go lounging up and down among
the fishermen's boats drawn up on the shore, and among the fishermen's
wives making nets, while the fishermen's children play and clamber
everywhere, and over all flap and flutter the clothes hung on poles
to dry. In this part of the street there are, of course, oysters, and
grapes, and oranges, and cactus-pulps, and cutlery, and iced drinks
to sell at various booths; and Commerce is exceedingly dramatic and
boisterous over the bargains she offers; and equally, of course,
murderous drinking shops lurk at intervals along the pavement, and
lure into their recesses mariners of foreign birth, briefly ashore
from their ships. The New York Coffee House is there to attract my
maritime fellow-countrymen, and I know that if I look into that place
of refreshment I shall see their honest, foolish faces flushed with
drink, and with the excitement of buying the least they can for the
most money. Poor souls! they shall drink that pleasant morning away
in the society of Antonino the best of Neapolitans, and at midnight,
emptied of every soldo, shall arise, wrung with a fearful suspicion
of treachery, and wander away under Antonino's guidance to seek the
protection of the Consul; or, taking the law into their own hands,
shall proceed to clean out, _more Americano_, the New York Coffee
House, when Antonino shall develop into one of the landlords, and
deal them the most artistic stab in Naples: handsome, worthy Antonino;
tender-eyed, subtle, pitiless!


Where the road to Herculaneum leaves the bay and its seafaring life,
it enters, between the walls of lofty, fly-blown houses, a world of
maccaroni haunted by foul odors, beggars, poultry, and insects. There
were few people to be seen on the street, but through the open doors
of the lofty fly-blown houses we saw floury legions at work making
maccaroni; grinding maccaroni, rolling it, cutting it, hanging it
in mighty skeins to dry, and gathering it when dried, and putting it
away. By the frequency of the wine-shops we judged that the legions
were a thirsty host, and by the number of the barber-surgeons' shops,
that they were a plethoric and too full-blooded host. The latter shops
were in the proportion of one to five of the former; and the artist
who had painted their signs had indulged his fancy in wild excesses of
phlebotomy. We had found that, as we came south from Venice, science
grew more and more sanguinary in Italy, and more and more disposed to
let blood. At Ferrara, even, the propensity began to be manifest on
the barbers' signs, which displayed the device of an arm lanced at
the elbow, and jetting the blood by a neatly described curve into a
tumbler. Further south the same arm was seen to bleed at the wrist
also; and at Naples an exhaustive treatment of the subject appeared,
the favorite study of the artist being to represent a nude figure
reclining in a genteel attitude on a bank of pleasant greensward, and
bleeding from the elbows, wrists, hands, ankles, and feet.


In Naples everywhere one is surprised by the great number of English
names which appear on business houses, but it was entirely bewildering
to read a bill affixed to the gate of one of the villas on this road:
"This Desirable Property for Sale." I should scarcely have cared to
buy that desirable property, though the neighborhood seemed to be a
favorite summer resort, and there were villas, as I said, nearly the
whole way to Portici. Those which stood with their gardens toward the
bay would have been tolerable, no doubt, if they could have kept their
windows shut to the vile street before their doors; but the houses
opposite could have had no escape from its stench and noisomeness. It
was absolutely the filthiest street I have seen anywhere outside of
New York, excepting only that little street which, in Herculaneum,
leads from the theatre to the House of Argo.

This pleasant avenue has a stream of turbid water in its centre,
bordered by begging children, and is either fouler or cleaner for the
water, but I shall never know which. It is at a depth of some fifty or
sixty feet below the elevation on which the present city of Portici is
built, and is part of the excavation made long ago to reach the plain
on which Herculaneum stands, buried under its half-score of successive
layers of lava, and ashes, and Portici. We had the aid of all the
virtuous poverty and leisure of the modern town--there was a vast
deal of both, we found--in our search for the staircase by which you
descend to the classic plain, and it proved a discovery involving the
outlay of all the copper coin about us, while the sight of the famous
theatre of Herculaneum was much more expensive than it would have been
had we come there in the old time to see a play of Plautus or Terence.

As for the theatre, "the large and highly ornamented theatre" of which
I read, only a little while ago, in an encyclopedia, we found it, by
the light of our candles, a series of gloomy hollows, of the general
complexion of coal-bins and potato-cellars. It was never perfectly
dug out of the lava, and, as is known, it was filled up in the last
century, together with other excavations, when they endangered the
foundations of worthless Portici overhead. (I am amused to find myself
so hot upon the poor property-holders of Portici. I suppose I should
not myself, even for the cause of antiquity and the knowledge of
classic civilization, like to have my house tumbled about my ears.)
But though it was impossible in the theatre of Herculaneum to gain
any idea of its size or richness, I remembered there the magnificent
bronzes which had been found in it, and did a hasty reverence to
the place. Indeed, it is amazing, when one sees how small a part of
Herculaneum has been uncovered, to consider the number of fine works
of art in the Museo Borbonico which were taken thence, and which argue
a much richer and more refined community than that of Pompeii. A third
of the latter city has now been restored to the light of day; but
though it has yielded abundance of all the things that illustrate the
domestic and public life, and the luxury and depravity of those old
times, and has given the once secret rooms of the museum their worst
attraction, it still falls far below Herculaneum in the value of its
contributions to the treasures of classic art, except only in the
variety and beauty of its exquisite frescos.

The effect of this fact is to stimulate the imagination of the visitor
to that degree that nothing short of the instant destruction of
Portici and the excavation of all Herculaneum will satisfy him. If the
opening of one theatre, and the uncovering of a basilica and two
or three houses, have given such richness to us, what delight and
knowledge would not the removal of these obdurate hills of ashes and
lava bestow!

Emerging from the coal-bins and potato-cellars, the visitor
extinguishes his candle with a pathetic sigh, profusely rewards the
custodian (whom he connects in some mysterious way with the ancient
population of the injured city about him), and, thoughtfully removing
the tallow from his fingers, follows the course of the vile stream
already sung, and soon arrives at the gate opening into the exhumed
quarter of Herculaneum. And there he finds a custodian who enters
perfectly into his feelings; a custodian who has once been a guide in
Pompeii, but now despises that wretched town, and would not be
guide there for any money since he has known the superior life of
Herculaneum; who, in fine, feels toward Pompeii as a Bostonian feels
toward New York. Yet the reader would be wrong to form the idea that
there is bitterness in the disdain of this custodian. On the contrary,
he is one of the best-natured men in the world. He is a mighty mass of
pinguid bronze, with a fat lisp, and a broad, sunflower smile, and
he lectures us with a vast and genial breadth of manner on the
ruins, contradicting all our guesses at things with a sweet "Perdoni,
signori! ma----." At the end, we find that he has some medallions of
lava to sell: there is Victor Emanuel, or, if we are of the _partito
d'azione_, there is Garibaldi; both warm yet from the crater of
Vesuvius, and of the same material which destroyed Herculaneum. We
decline to buy and the custodian makes the national shrug and grimace
(signifying that we are masters of the situation, and that he washes
his hands of the consequence of our folly) on the largest scale that
we have ever seen: his mighty hands are rigidly thrust forth, his
great lip protruded, his enormous head thrown back to bring his
face on a level with his chin. The effect is tremendous, but we
nevertheless feel that he loves us the same.


The afternoon on which we visited Herculaneum was in melancholy
contrast to the day we spent in Pompeii. The lingering summer had at
last saddened into something like autumnal gloom, and that blue, blue
sky of Naples was overcast. So, this second draught of the spirit
of the past had not only something of the insipidity of custom, but
brought rather a depression than a lightness to our hearts. There was
so little of Herculaneum: only a few hundred yards square are exhumed,
and we counted the houses easily on the fingers of one hand, leaving
the thumb to stand for the few rods of street that, with its flagging
of lava and narrow border of foot-walks, lay between; and though the
custodian, apparently moved at our dejection, said that the excavation
was to be resumed the very next week, the assurance did little to
restore our cheerfulness. Indeed, I fancy that these old cities must
needs be seen in the sunshine by those who would feel what gay lives
they once led; by dimmer light they are very sullen spectres, and
their doom still seems to brood upon them. I know that even Pompeii
could not have been joyous that sunless afternoon, for what there was
to see of mournful Herculaneum was as brilliant with colors as any
thing in the former city. Nay, I believe that the tints of the frescos
and painted columns were even brighter, and that the walls of the
houses were far less ruinous than those of Pompeii. But no house was
wholly freed from lava, and the little street ran at the rear of the
buildings which were supposed to front on some grander avenue not yet
exhumed. It led down, as the custodian pretended, to a wharf, and he
showed an iron ring in the wall of the House of Argo, standing at the
end of the street, to which, he said, his former fellow-citizens used
to fasten their boats, though it was all dry enough there now.

There is evidence in Herculaneum of much more ambitious domestic
architecture than seems to have been known in Pompeii. The ground-plan
of the houses in the two cities is alike; but in the former there was
often a second story, as was proven by the charred ends of beams still
protruding from the walls, while in the latter there is only one house
which is thought to have aspired to a second floor. The House of Argo
is also much larger than any in Pompeii, and its appointments were
more magnificent. Indeed, we imagined that in this more purely
Greek town we felt an atmosphere of better taste in every thing than
prevailed in the fashionable Roman watering-place, though this, too,
was a summer resort of the "best society" of the empire. The mosaic
pavements were exquisite, and the little bed-chambers dainty and
delicious in their decorations. The lavish delight in color found
expression in the vividest hues upon the walls, and not only were the
columns of the garden painted, but the foliage of the capitals was
variously tinted. The garden of the House of Argo was vaster than any
of the classic world which we had yet seen, and was superb with a
long colonnade of unbroken columns. Between these and the walls of
the houses was a pretty pathway of mosaic, and in the midst once stood
marble tables, under which the workmen exhuming the city found certain
crouching skeletons. At one end was the dining-room, of course, and
painted on the wall was a lady with a parasol.

I thought all Herculaneum sad enough, but the profusion of flowers
growing wild in this garden gave it a yet more tender and pathetic
charm. Here--where so long ago the flowers had bloomed, and perished
in the terrible blossoming of the mountain that sent up its fires
in the awful similitude of Nature's harmless and lovely forms, and
showered its destroying petals all abroad--was it not tragic to find
again the soft tints, the graceful shapes, the sweet perfumes of the
earth's immortal life? Of them that planted and tended and plucked and
bore in their bosoms and twined in their hair these fragile children
of the summer, what witness in the world? Only the crouching skeletons
under the tables. Alas and alas!


The skeletons went with us throughout Herculaneum, and descended
into the cell, all green with damp, under the basilica, and lay down,
fettered and manacled in the place of those found there beside the big
bronze kettle in which the prisoners used to cook their dinners. How
ghastly the thought of it was! If we had really seen this kettle and
the skeletons there--as we did not--we could not have suffered more
than we did. They took all the life out of the House of Perseus, and
the beauty from his pretty little domestic temple to the Penates, and
this was all there was left in Herculaneum to see.

"Is there nothing else?" we demand of the custodian.

"Signori, this is all."

"It is mighty little."

"Perdoni, signori! ma----."

"Well," we say sourly to each other, glancing round at the walls of
the pit, on the bottom of which the bit of city stands, "it is a good
thing to know that Herculaneum amounts to nothing."




I have no doubt

  "Calm Capri waits,"

where we left it, in the Gulf of Salerno, for any traveller who may
choose to pay it a visit; but at the time we were there we felt that
it was on exhibition for that day only, and would, when we departed,
disappear in its sapphire sea, and be no more; just as Niagara ceases
to play as soon as your back is turned, and Venice goes out like a
pyrotechnic display, and all marvelously grand and lovely things make
haste to prove their impermanence.

We delayed some days in Naples in hopes of fine weather, and at last
chose a morning that was warm and cloudy at nine o'clock, and burst
into frequent passions of rain before we reached Sorrento at noon
The first half of the journey was made by rail, and brought us to
Castellamare, whence we took carriage for Sorrento, and oranges, and
rapture,--winding along the steep shore of the sea, and under the
brows of wooded hills that rose high above us into the misty weather,
and caught here and there the sunshine on their tops. In that heavenly
climate no day can long be out of humor, and at Sorrento we found
ours very pleasant, and rode delightedly through the devious streets,
looking up to the terraced orange-groves on one hand, and down to the
terraced orange-groves on the other, until at a certain turning of the
way we encountered Antonino Occhio d'Argento, whom fate had appointed
to be our boatman to Capri. We had never heard of Antonino before, and
indeed had intended to take a boat from one of the hotels; but when
this corsair offered us his services, there was that guile in his
handsome face, that cunning in his dark eyes, that heart could not
resist, and we halted our carriage and took him at once.

He kept his boat in one of those caverns which honey-comb the cliff
under Sorrento, and afford a natural and admirable shelter for such
small craft as may be dragged up out of reach of the waves, and here I
bargained with him before finally agreeing to go with him to Capri.
In Italy it is customary for a public carrier when engaged to give
his employer as a pledge the sum agreed upon for the service, which is
returned with the amount due him, at the end, if the service has been
satisfactory; and I demanded of Antonino this _caparra_, as it is
called. "What _caparra_?" said he, lifting the lid of his wicked eye
with his forefinger, "this is the best _caparra_," meaning a face
as honest and trustworthy as the devil's. The stroke confirmed my
subjection to Antonino, and I took his boat without further parley,
declining even to feel the muscle of his boatmen's arms, which he
exposed to my touch in evidence that they were strong enough to row us
swiftly to Capri. The men were but two in number, but they tossed the
boat lightly into the surf, and then lifted me aboard, and rowed to
the little pier from which the ladies and T. got in.

The sun shone, the water danced and sparkled, and presently we raised
our sail, and took the gale that blew for Capri--an oblong height
rising ten miles beyond out of the heart of the azure gulf. On the way
thither there was little interest but that of natural beauty in the
bold, picturesque coast we skirted for some distance; though on
one mighty rock there were the ruins of a seaward-looking Temple of
Hercules, with arches of the unmistakable Roman masonry, below
which the receding waves rushed and poured over a jetting ledge in a
thunderous cataract.

Antonino did his best to entertain us, and lectured us unceasingly
upon his virtue and his wisdom, dwelling greatly on the propriety and
good policy of always speaking the truth. This spectacle of veracity
became intolerable after a while, and I was goaded to say: "Oh then,
if you never tell lies, you expect to go to Paradise." "Not at all,"
answered Antonino compassionately, "for I have sinned much. But the
lie doesn't go ahead" (_non va avanti_), added this Machiavelli of
boatmen; yet I think he was mistaken, for he deceived us with perfect
ease and admirable success. All along, he had pretended that we could
see Capri, visit the Blue Grotto, and return that day; but as we drew
near the island, painful doubts began to trouble him, and he feared
the sea would be too rough for the Grotto part of the affair. "But
there will be an old man," he said, with a subtile air of prophecy,
"waiting for us on the beach. This old man is one of the Government
guides to the Grotto, and he will say whether it is to be seen

And certainly there was the old man on the beach--a short patriarch,
with his baldness covered by a kind of bloated woolen sock--a
blear-eyed sage, and a bare-legged. He waded through the surf toward
the boat, and when we asked him whether the Grotto was to be seen, he
paused knee-deep in the water, (at a secret signal from Antonino, as
I shall always believe,) put on a face of tender solemnity, threw back
his head a little, brought his hand to his cheek, expanded it, and
said, "No; to-day, no! To-morrow, yes!" Antonino leaped joyously
ashore, and delivered us over to the old man, to be guided to the
Hotel di Londra, while he drew his boat upon the land. He had reason
to be contented, for this artifice of the patriarch of Capri relieved
him from the necessity of verifying to me the existence of an officer
of extraordinary powers in the nature of a consul, who, he said, would
not permit boats to leave Capri for the main-land after five o'clock
in the evening.

When it was decided that we should remain on the island till the
morrow, we found so much time on our hands, after bargaining for
our lodging at the Hotel di Londra, that we resolved to ascend the
mountain to the ruins of the palaces of Tiberius, and to this end we
contracted for the services of certain of the muletresses that had
gathered about the inn-gate, clamorously offering their beasts. The
muletresses chosen were a matron of mature years and of a portly habit
of body; her daughter, a mere child; and her niece, a very pretty girl
of eighteen, with a voice soft and sweet as a bird's. They placed
the ladies, one on each mule, and then, while the mother and daughter
devoted themselves to the hind-quarters of the foremost animal,
the lovely niece brought up the rear of the second beast, and the
patriarch went before, and T. and I trudged behind. So the cavalcade
ascended; first, from the terrace of the hotel overlooking the bit
of shipping village on the beach, and next from the town of Capri,
clinging to the hill-sides, midway between sea and sky, until at last
it reached the heights on which the ruins stand. Our way was through
narrow lanes, bordered by garden walls; then through narrow streets
bordered by dirty houses; and then again by gardens, but now of a
better sort than the first, and belonging to handsome villas.

On the road our pretty muletress gossiped cheerfully, and our
patriarch gloomily, and between the two we accumulated a store of
information concerning the present inhabitants of Capri, which, I am
sorry to say, has now for the most part failed me. I remember that
they said most of the land-owners at Capri were Neapolitans, and that
these villas were their country-houses; though they pointed out one
of the stateliest of the edifices as belonging to a certain English
physician who had come to visit Capri for a few days, and had now been
living on the island twenty years, having married (said the
muletress) the prettiest and poorest girl in the town, from this
romance--something like which the muletress seemed to think might
well happen concerning herself--we passed lightly to speak of kindred
things, the muletress responding gayly between the blows she bestowed
upon her beast. The accent of these Capriotes has something of German
harshness and heaviness: they say _non bosso_ instead of _non posso_,
and _monto_ instead of _mondo_, and interchange the _t_ and _d_ a good
deal; and they use for father the Latin _pater_, instead of _padre_.
But this girl's voice, as I said, was very musical, and the island's
accent was sweet upon her tongue.

_I_.--What is your name?

_She_.--Caterina, little sir (signorin).

_I_.--And how old are you, Caterina?

_She_.--Eighteen, little sir.

_I_.--And you are betrothed?

She feigns not to understand; but the patriarch, who has dropped
behind to listen to our discourse, explains,--"He asks if you are in

_She_.--Ah, no! little sir, not yet.

_I_.--No? A little late, it seems to me. I think there must be some
good-looking youngster who pleases you--no?

_She_.--Ah, no! one must work, one cannot think of marrying. We are
four sisters, and we have only the _buonamano_ from hiring these
mules, and we must spin and cook.

_The Patriarch_.--Don't believe her; she has two lovers.

_She._--Ah, no! It isn't true. He tells a fib--he!

But, nevertheless, she seemed to love to be accused of lovers,--such
is the guile of the female heart in Capri,--and laughed over the
patriarch's wickedness. She confided that she ate maccaroni once
a day, and she talked constantly of eating it just as the Northern
Italians always talk of _polenta._ She was a true daughter of the
isle, and had never left it but once in her life, when she went to
Naples. "Naples was beautiful, yes; but one always loves one's own
country the best." She was very attentive and good, but at the end was
rapacious of more and more _buonamano_. "Have patience with her, sir,"
said the blameless Antonino, who witnessed her greediness; "they do
not understand certain matters here, poor little things!"

As for the patriarch, he was full of learning relative to himself and
to Capri; and told me with much elaboration that the islanders lived
chiefly by fishing, and gained something also by their vineyards. But
they were greatly oppressed by taxes, and the strict enforcement
of the conscriptions, and they had little love for the Italian
Government, and wished the Bourbons back again. The Piedmontese,
indeed, misgoverned them horribly. There was the Blue Grotto, for
example: formerly travellers paid the guides five, six, ten francs for
viewing it; but now the Piedmontese had made a tariff, and the poor
guides could only exact a franc from each person. Things were in a
ruinous condition.

By this we had arrived at a little inn on the top of the mountain,
very near the ruins of the palaces, "Here," said the patriarch, "it is
customary for strangers to drink a bottle of the wine of Tiberius." We
obediently entered the hostelry, and the landlord--a white-toothed,
brown-faced, good-humored peasant--gallantly ran forward and presented
the ladies with bouquets of roses. We thought it a pretty and graceful
act, but found later that it was to be paid for, like all pretty and
graceful things in Italy; for when we came to settle for the wine, and
the landlord wanted more than justice, he urged that he had presented
the ladies with flowers,--yet he equally gave me his benediction when
I refused to pay for his politeness.

"Now here," again said the patriarch in a solemn whisper, "you can see
the Tarantella danced for two francs; whereas down at your inn, if you
hire the dancers through your landlord, it will cost you five or six
francs." The difference was tempting, and decided us in favor of an
immediate Tarantella. The muletresses left their beasts to browse
about the door of the inn and came into the little public room, where
were already the wife and sister of the landlord, and took their
places _vis-à-vis_, while the landlord seized his tambourine and
beat from it a wild and lively measure. The women were barefooted
and hoopless, and they gave us the Tarantella with all the beauty of
natural movement and free floating drapery, and with all that splendid
grace of pose which animates the antique statues and pictures of
dancers. They swayed themselves in time with the music; then, filled
with its passionate impulse, advanced and retreated and whirled
away;--snapping their fingers above their heads, and looking over
their shoulders with a gay and a laughing challenge to each other,
they drifted through the ever-repeated figures of flight and wooing,
and wove for us pictures of delight that remained upon the brain like
the effect of long-pondered vivid colors, and still return to illumine
and complete any representation of that indescribable dance. Heaven
knows what peril there might have been in the beauty and grace of the
pretty muletress but for the spectacle of her fat aunt, who, I must
confess, could only burlesque some of her niece's airiest movements,
and whose hard-bought buoyancy was at once pathetic and laughable. She
earned her share of the spoils certainly, and she seemed glad when the
dance was over, and went contentedly back to her mule.

The patriarch had early retired from the scene as from a vanity with
which he was too familiar for enjoyment, and I found him, when the
Tarantella was done, leaning on the curb of the precipitous rock
immediately behind the inn, over which the Capriotes say Tiberius used
to cast the victims of his pleasures after he was sated with them.
These have taken their place in the insular imagination as Christian
martyrs, though it is probable that the poor souls were any thing but
Nazarenes. It took a stone thrown from the brink of the rock twenty
seconds to send back a response from the water below, and the depth
was too dizzying to look into. So we looked instead toward Amalfi,
across the Gulf of Salerno, and toward Naples, across her bay. On
every hand the sea was flushed with sunset, and an unspeakable calm
dwelt upon it, while the heights rising from it softened and softened
in the distance, and withdrew themselves into dreams of ghostly
solitude and phantom city. His late majesty the Emperor Tiberius is
well known to have been a man of sentiment, and he may often have
sought this spot to enjoy the evening hour. It was convenient to his
palace, and he could here give a fillip to his jaded sensibilities
by popping a boon companion over the cliff, and thus enjoy the fine
poetic contrast which his perturbed and horrible spirit afforded to
that scene of innocence and peace. Later he may have come hither also,
when lust failed, when all the lewd plays and devices of his fancy
palled upon his senses, when sin had grown insipid and even murder
ceased to amuse, and his majesty uttered his despair to the Senate in
that terrible letter: "What to write to you, or how to write, I
know not; and what not to write at this time, may all the gods and
goddesses torment me wore than I daily feel that I suffer if I do

The poor patriarch was also a rascal in his small way, and he
presently turned to me with a countenance full of cowardly trouble and
base remorse, "I pray you, little sir, not to tell the landlord
below there that you have seen the Tarantella danced here; for he has
daughters and friends to dance it for strangers, and gets a deal of
money by it. So, if he asks you to see it, do me the pleasure to say,
lest he should take on (_pigliarsi_) with me about it: 'Thanks, but we
saw the Tarantella at Pompeii!'" It was the last place in Italy where
we were likely to have seen the Tarantella; but these simple people
are improvident in lying, as in every thing else.

The patriarch had a curious spice of malice in him, which prompted
him to speak evil of all, and to as many as he dared. After we had
inspected the ruins of the emperor's villa, a clownish imbecile of
a woman, professing to be the wife of the peasant who had made the
excavations, came forth out of a cleft in the rock and received
tribute of us--why, I do not know. The patriarch abetted the
extortion, but Parthianly remarked, as we turned away, "Her husband
ought to be here; but this is a _festa_, and he is drinking and gaming
in the village," while the woman protested that he was sick at home.
There was also a hermit living in great publicity among the ruins, and
the patriarch did not spare him a sneering comment. [This hermit I
have heard was not brought up to the profession of anchorite, but was
formerly a shoemaker, and according to his own confession abandoned
his trade because he could better indulge a lethargic habit in the
character of religious recluse.] He had even a bad word for Tiberius,
and reproached the emperor for throwing people over the cliff, though
I think it a sport in which he would himself have liked to join. The
only human creatures with whom he seemed to be in sympathy were the
brigands of the main-land, of whom he spoke poetically as exiles and

As for the palace of Tiberius, which we had come go far and so
toilsomely to see, it must be confessed there was very little left
of it. When that well-meaning but mistaken prince died, the Senate
demolished his pleasure-houses at Capri, and left only those
fragments of the beautiful brick masonry which yet remain, clinging
indestructible to the rocks, and strewing the ground with rubbish. The
recent excavations have discovered nothing besides the uninteresting
foundations of the building, except a subterranean avenue leading
from one part of the palace to another: this is walled with delicate
brickwork, and exquisitely paved with white marble mosaic; and this
was all that witnessed of the splendor of the wicked emperor. Nature,
the all-forgetting, all-forgiving, that takes the red battle-field
into her arms and hides it with blossom and harvest, could not
remember his iniquity, greater than the multitudinous murder of war.
The sea, which the despot's lust and fear had made so lonely, slept
with the white sails of boats secure upon its breast; the little bays
and inlets, the rocky clefts and woody dells, had forgotten their
desecration; and the gathering twilight, the sweetness of the
garden-bordered pathway, and the serenity of the lonely landscape,
helped us to doubt history.

We slowly returned to the inn by the road we had ascended, noting
again the mansion of the surprising Englishman who had come to Capri
for three months and had remained thirty years; passed through the
darkness of the village,--dropped here and there with the vivid red of
a lamp,--and so reached the inn at last, where we found the landlord
ready to have the Tarantella danced for us. We framed a discreeter
fiction than that prepared for us by the patriarch, and went in to
dinner, where there were two Danish gentlemen in dispute with as many
rogues of boatmen, who, having contracted to take them back that night
to Naples, were now trying to fly their bargain and remain at Capri
till the morrow. The Danes beat them, however, and then sat down
to dinner, and to long stories of the imposture and villany of the
Italians. One of them chiefly bewailed himself that the day before,
having unwisely eaten a dozen oysters without agreeing first with the
oyster-man upon the price, he had been obliged to pay this scamp's
extortionate demand to the full, since he was unable to restore him
his property. We thought that something like this might have happened
to an imprudent man in any country, but we did not the less join him
in abusing the Italians--the purpose for which foreigners chiefly
visit Italy.


Standing on the height among the ruins of Tiberius's palace, the
patriarch had looked out over the waters, and predicted for the morrow
the finest weather that had ever been known in that region; but in
spite of this prophecy the day dawned stormily, and at breakfast time
we looked out doubtfully on waves lashed by driving rain. The entrance
to the Blue Grotto, to visit which we had come to Capri, is by a
semicircular opening, some three feet in width and two feet in height,
and just large enough to admit a small boat. One lies flat in the
bottom of this, waits for the impulse of a beneficent wave, and is
carried through the mouth of the cavern, and rescued from it in like
manner by some receding billow. When the wind is in the wrong quarter,
it is impossible to enter the grot at all; and we waited till nine
o'clock for the storm to abate before we ventured forth. In the mean
time one of the Danish gentlemen, who--after assisting his companion
to compel the boatmen to justice the night before--had stayed at
Capri, and had risen early to see the grotto, returned from it, and we
besieged him with a hundred questions concerning it. But he preserved
the wise silence of the boy who goes in to see the six-legged calf,
and comes out impervious to the curiosity of all the boys who are
doubtful whether the monster is worth their money. Our Dane would
merely say that it was now possible to visit the Blue Grotto; that he
had seen it; that he was glad he _had_ seen it. As to its blueness,
Messieurs--yes, it is blue. _C'est i dire_....

The ladies had been amusing themselves with a perusal of the hotel
register, and the notes of admiration or disgust with which the
different sojourners at the inn had filled it. As a rule, the English
people found fault with the poor little hostelry and the French people
praised it. Commander Joshing and Lieutenant Prattent, R.N., of
the former nation, "were cheated by the donkey women, and thought
themselves extremely fortunate to have escaped with their lives from
the effects of Capri vintage. The landlord was an old Cossack." On the
other hand, we read, "J. Cruttard, homme de lettres, a passè quinze
jours ici, et n'a eu que des félicités du patron de cêt hôtel et de sa
famille." Cheerful man of letters! His good-natured record will keep
green a name little known to literature. Who are G. Bradshaw, Duke
of New York, and Signori Jones and Andrews, Hereditary Princes of the
United States? Their patrician names followed the titles of several
English nobles in the register. But that which most interested the
ladies in this record was the warning of a terrified British matron
against any visit to the Blue Grotto except in the very calmest
weather. The British matron penned her caution after an all but fatal
experience. The ladies read it aloud to us, and announced that for
themselves they would be contented with pictures of the Blue Grotto
and our account of its marvels.

On the beach below the hotel lay the small boats of the guides to the
Blue Grotto, and we descended to take one of them. The fixed rate is a
franc for each person. The boatmen wanted five francs for each of us.
We explained that although not indigenous to Capri, or even Italy,
we were not of the succulent growth of travellers, and would not be
eaten. We retired to our vantage ground on the heights. The guides
called us to the beach again. They would take us for three francs
apiece, or say six francs for both of us. We withdrew furious to the
heights again, where we found honest Antonino, who did us the pleasure
to yell to his fellow-scoundrels on the beach, "You had better take
these signori for a just price. They are going to the syndic to
complain of you." At which there arose a lamentable outcry among the
boatmen, and they called with one voice for us to come down and go
for a franc apiece. This fable teaches that common-carriers are rogues
everywhere; but that whereas we are helpless in their hands at home,
we may bully them into rectitude in Italy, where they are afraid of
the law.

We had scarcely left the landing of the hotel in the boat of the
patriarch--for I need hardly say he was first and most rapacious of
the plundering crew--when we found ourselves in very turbulent waters,
in the face of mighty bluffs, rising inaccessible from the sea. Here
and there, where their swarthy fronts were softened with a little
verdure, goat-paths wound up and down among the rocks; and midway
between the hotel and the grotto, in a sort of sheltered nook, we saw
the Roman masonry of certain antique baths--baths of Augustus, says
Valery; baths of Tiberius, say the Capriotes, zealous for the honor
of their infamous hero. Howbeit, this was all we saw on the way to
the Blue Grotto. Every moment the waves rose higher, emulous of the
bluffs, which would not have afforded a foothold, or any thing to
cling to, had we been upset and washed against them--and we began
to talk of the immortality of the soul. As we neared the grotto, the
patriarch entertained us with stories of the perilous adventures of
people who insisted upon entering it in stormy weather,--especially
of a French painter who had been imprisoned in it four days, and kept
alive only on rum, which the patriarch supplied him, swimming into
the grotto with a bottle-full at a time. "And behold us arrived,
gentlemen!" said he, as he brought the boat skillfully around in front
of the small semicircular opening at the base of the lofty bluff. We
lie flat on the bottom of the boat, and complete the immersion of that
part of our clothing which the driving torrents of rain had spared.
The wave of destiny rises with us upon its breast--sinks, and we are
inside of the Blue Grotto. Not so much blue as gray, however, and the
water about the mouth of it green rather than azure. They say that
on a sunny day both the water and the roof of the cavern are of the
vividest cerulean tint--and I saw the grotto so represented in the
windows of the paint-shops at Naples. But to my own experience it did
not differ from other caves in color or form: there was the customary
clamminess in the air; the sound of dropping water; the sense of dull
and stupid solitude,--a little relieved in this case by the mighty
music of the waves breaking against the rocks outside. The grot is not
great in extent, and the roof in the rear shelves gradually down to
the water. Valery says that some remains of a gallery have caused
the supposition that the grotto was once the scene of Tiberius's
pleasures; and the Prussian painter who discovered the cave was led
to seek it by something he had read of a staircase by which Barbarossa
used to descend into a subterranean retreat from the town of Anacapri
on the mountain top. The slight fragment of ruin which we saw in one
corner of the cave might be taken in confirmation of both theories;
but the patriarch attributed the work to Barbarossa, being probably
tired at last of hearing Tiberius so much talked about.

We returned, soaked and disappointed, to the hotel, where we found
Antonino very doubtful about the possibility of getting back that day
to Sorrento, and disposed, when pooh-poohed out of the notion of bad
weather, to revive the fiction of a prohibitory consul. He was staying
in Capri at our expense, and the honest fellow would willingly have
spent a fortnight there.

We summoned the landlord to settlement, and he came with all his
household to present the account,--each one full of visible longing,
yet restrained from asking _buonamano_ by a strong sense of previous
contract. It was a deadly struggle with them, but they conquered
themselves, and blessed us as we departed. The pretty muletress took
leave of us on the beach, and we set sail for Sorrento, the ladies
crouching in the bottom of the boat, and taking their sea-sickness in
silence. As we drew near the beautiful town, we saw how it lay on
a plateau, at the foot of the mountains, but high above the sea.
Antonino pointed out to us the house of Tasso,--in which the novelist
Cooper also resided when in Sorrento,--a white house not handsomer nor
uglier than the rest, with a terrace looking out over the water. The
bluffs are pierced by numerous arched caverns, as I have said,
giving shelter to the fishermen's boats, and here and there a devious
stairway mounts to their crests. Up one of these we walked, noting how
in the house above us the people, with that puerility usually
mixed with the Italian love of beauty, had placed painted busts of
terra-cotta in the windows to simulate persons looking out. There was
nothing to blame in the breakfast we found ready at the Hotel Rispoli;
and as for the grove of slender, graceful orange-trees in the midst
of which the hotel stood, and which had lavished the fruit in every
direction on the ground, why, I would willingly give for it all the
currant-bushes, with their promises of jelly and jam, on which I gaze
at this moment.

Antonino attended us to our carriage when we went away. He had kept
us all night at Capri, it is true, and he had brought us in at the end
for a prodigious _buonamano_; yet I cannot escape the conviction that
he parted from us with an unfulfilled purpose of greater plunder, and
I have a compassion, which I here declare, for the strangers who fell
next into his hands. He was good enough at the last moment to say that
his name, Silver-Eye, was a nickname given him according to a custom
of the Sorrentines; and he made us a farewell bow that could not be
bought in America for money.

At the station of Castellamare sat a curious cripple on the stones,--a
man with little, short, withered legs, and a pleasant face. He showed
us the ticket-office, and wanted nothing for the politeness. After we
had been in the waiting-room a brief time, he came swinging himself in
upon his hands, followed by another person, who, when the cripple had
planted himself finally and squarely on the ground, whipped out a
tape from his pocket and took his measure for a suit of clothes,
the cripple twirling and twisting himself about in every way for the
tailor's convenience. Nobody was surprised or amused at the sight, and
when his measure was thus publicly taken, the cripple gravely swung
himself out as he had swung himself in.



I had the pleasure one day of visiting nearly all the free schools
which the wise philanthropy of the Protestant residents of Naples has
established in that city. The schools had a peculiar interest for me,
because I had noticed (in an uncareful fashion enough, no doubt) the
great changes which had taken place in Italy under its new national
government, and was desirous to see for myself the sort of progress
the Italians of the south were making in avenues so long closed to
them. I believe I have no mania for missionaries; I have heard of the
converted Jew-and-a-half, and I have thought it a good joke; but
I cannot help offering a very cordial homage to the truth that the
missionaries are doing a vast deal of good in Naples, where they are
not only spreading the gospel, but the spelling-book, the arithmetic,
and the geography.

It is not to be understood from the word missionaries, that this work
is done by men especially sent from England or America to perform it.
The free Protestant schools in Naples are conducted under the auspices
of the Evangelical Aid Committee,--composed of members of the English
Church, the Swiss Church, and the Presbyterian Church; the President
of this committee is Dr. Strange, an Englishman, and the Treasurer
is Mr. Rogers, the American banker. The missionaries in Naples,
therefore, are men who have themselves found out their work and
appointed themselves to do it. The gentleman by whose kindness I was
permitted to visit the schools was one of these men,--the Rev. Mr.
Buscarlet, the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Naples, a Swiss by
birth, who had received his education chiefly in Scotland.

He accompanied me to the different schools, and as we walked up the
long Toledo, and threaded our way through the sprightly Neapolitan
crowd, he told me of the origin of the schools, and of the peculiar
difficulties encountered in their foundation and maintenance. They
are no older than the union of Naples with the Kingdom of Italy, when
toleration of Protestantism was decreed by law; and from the first,
their managers proceeded upon a principle of perfect openness and
candor with the parents who wished to send their children to them.
They announced that the children would be taught certain branches of
learning, and that the whole Bible would be placed in their hands,
to be studied and understood. In spite of this declaration of the
Protestant character of the schools, the parents of the children
were so anxious to secure them the benefits of education, that
they willingly ran the risk of their becoming heretics. They
were principally people of the lower classes,--laborers, hackmen,
fishermen, domestics, and very small shopkeepers, but occasionally
among them were parents able to send their children to other schools,
yet preferring the thorough and conscientious system practiced in
these. So the children came, and thanks to the peaceful, uncombative
nature of Italian boys, who get on with much less waylaying and
thumping and bullying than boys of northern blood, they have not
been molested by their companions who still live the wild life of the
streets, and they have only once suffered through interference of
the priests. On complaint to the authorities the wrong was promptly
redressed, and was not again inflicted. Of course these poor little
people, picked up out of the vileness and ignorance of a city that
had suffered for ages the most degrading oppression, are by no means
regenerate yet, but there seems to be great hope for them. Now at
least they are taught a reasonable and logical morality--and who can
tell what wonders the novel instruction may not work? They learn for
the first time that it is a foolish shame to lie and cheat, and it
would scarcely be surprising if some of them were finally persuaded
that Honesty is the best Policy--a maxim that few Italians believe.
And here lies the trouble,--in the unfathomable, disheartening
duplicity of the race. The children are not quarrelsome, nor cruel,
nor brutal; but the servile defect of falsehood fixed by long
generations of slavery in the Italians, is almost ineradicable. The
fault is worse in Naples than elsewhere in Italy; but how bad it is
everywhere, not merely travellers, but all residents in Italy, must
bear witness.

The first school which we visited was a girls' school, in which some
forty-four little women of all ages, from four to fifteen years,
were assembled under the charge of a young Corfute girl, an Italian
Protestant, who had delegated her authority to different children
under her. The small maidens gathered around their chiefs in groups,
and read from the book in which they were studying when we appeared.
Some allowance must be made for difference of the languages, Italian
being logically spelled and easily pronounced; but I certainly never
heard American children of their age read nearly so well. They seemed
also to have a lively understanding of what they read, and to be
greatly interested in the scriptural stories of which their books were
made up. They repeated verses from the Bible, and stanzas of poetry,
all very eagerly and prettily. As bashfulness is scarcely known
to their race, they had no hesitation in showing off their
accomplishments before a stranger, and seemed quite delighted with
his applause. They were not particularly quiet; perhaps with young
Neapolitans that would be impossible. I saw their copy-books, in which
the writing was very good, (I am sure the printer would like mine to
be as legible,) and the books were kept neat and clean, as were the
hands and faces of the children. Taking the children as one goes in
the streets of Naples, it would require a day perhaps to find as many
clean ones as I saw in these schools, where cleanliness is resolutely
insisted upon. Many of the children were ragged; here and there
was one hideous with _ophthalmia_; but there was not a clouded
countenance, nor a dirty hand among them. We should have great hopes
for a nation of which the children can be taught to wash themselves.

There were fourteen pupils in the boys' superior school, where
geography, mathematics, linear drawing, French, Italian history, and
ancient history were taught. A brief examination showed the boys to
be well up in their studies;--indeed they furnished some recondite
information about Baffin's Bay for which I should not myself have
liked to be called on suddenly. Their drawing-books were prodigies of
neatness, and betrayed that aptness for form and facility of execution
which are natural to the Italians. Some of these boys had been in the
schools nearly three years; they were nearly all of the class which
must otherwise have grown up to hopeless vagabondage; but here they
were receiving gratis an education that would fit them for employments
wherein trained intellectual capacity is required. If their education
went no higher than this, what an advance it would be upon their
original condition!

In the room devoted to boys of lower grade, I entangled myself in
difficulties with a bright-eyed young gentleman, whom I asked if he
liked Italian history better than ancient history. He said he liked
the latter, especially that of the Romans, much better. "Why, that
is strange. I should think an Italian boy would like Italian history
best." "But were not the Romans also Italians, Signore?" I blush to
say that I basely sneaked out of this trouble by answering that they
were not like the Italians of the present day,--whatever that meant.
But indeed all these young persons were startlingly quick with their
information, and knowing that I knew very little on any subject with
certainty, I think I was wise to refuse all offers to examine them in
their studies.

We left this school and returned to the Toledo by one of those
wonderful little side streets already mentioned, which are forever
tumultuous with the oddest Neapolitan life--with men quarreling
themselves purple over small quantities of fish--with asses braying
loud and clear above their discord--with women roasting pine-cones
at charcoal fires--with children in the agonies of having their hair
combed--with degraded poultry and homeless dogs--with fruit-stands
and green groceries, and the little edifices of ecclesiastical
architecture for the sale of lemonade--with wandering bag-pipers, and
herds of nonchalant goats--with horses, and grooms currying them--and
over all, from vast heights of balcony, with people lazily hanging
upon rails and looking down on the riot. Reëntering the stream of the
Toledo, it carried us almost to the Museo Borbonico before we again
struck aside into one of the smaller streets, whence we climbed quite
to the top of one of those incredibly high Neapolitan houses. Here,
crossing an open terrace on the roof, we visited three small rooms, in
which there were altogether some hundred boys in the first stages
of reclamation. They were under the immediate superintendence of Mr.
Buscarlet and he seemed to feel the fondest interest in them. Indeed,
there was sufficient reason for this: up to a certain point, the
Neapolitan children learn so rapidly and willingly that it can hardly
be other than a pleasure to teach them. After this, their zeal flags;
they know enough; and their parents and friends, far more ignorant
than they, are perfectly satisfied with their progress. Then the
difficulties of their teachers begin; but here, in these lowest grade
schools, they had not yet begun. The boys were still eager to learn,
and were ardently following the lead of their teachers. They were
little fellows, nearly all, and none of them had been in school more
than a year and a half, while some had been there only three or four
months. They rose up with "_Buon giorno, signori_," as we entered, and
could hardly be persuaded to lapse back to the duties of life during
our stay. They had very good faces, indeed, for the most part, and
even the vicious had intellectual brightness. Just and consistent
usage has the best influence on them; and one boy was pointed out
as quite docile and manageable, whose parents had given him up as
incorrigible before he entered the school. As it was, there was
something almost pathetic in his good behavior, as being possible to
him, but utterly alien to his instincts. The boys of these schools
seldom play truant, and they are never severely beaten in school; when
quite intractable, notice is given to their parents, and they usually
return in a more docile state. It sometimes happens that the boys are
taken away by their parents, from one motive or another; but they find
their way back again, and are received as if nothing had happened.

The teacher in the first room here is a handsome young Calabrian,
with the gentlest face and manner,--one of the most efficient teachers
under Mr. Buscarlet. The boys had out their Bibles when we entered,
and one after another read passages to us. There were children of
seven, eight, and nine years, who had been in the school only three
months, and who read any part of their Bibles with facility and
correctness; of course, before coming to school they had not known one
letter from another. The most accomplished scholar was a youngster,
named Saggiomo, who had received eighteen months' schooling. He was
consequently very quick indeed, and wanted to answer all the hard
questions put to the other boys. In fact, all of them were ready
enough, and there was a great deal of writhing and snapping of fingers
among those who longed to answer some hesitator's question--just as
you see in schools at home. They were examined in geography, and
then in Bible history--particularly Joseph's story. They responded
in chorus to all demands on this part of study, and could hardly be
quieted sufficiently to give Saggiomo's little brother, aged five, a
chance to tell why Joseph's brethren sold him. As soon as he could
be heard he piped out: "_Perchè Giuseppe aveva dei sogni_!" (Because
Joseph had dreams.) It was not exactly the right answer, but nobody
laughed at the little fellow, though they all roared out in correction
when permitted.

In the next room, boys somewhat older were examined in Italian
history, and responded correctly and promptly. They were given a
sum which they performed in a miraculously short time; and their
copy-books, when shown, were equally creditable to them. Their teacher
was a Bolognese,--a naturalized Swiss,--who had been a soldier,
and who maintained strict discipline among his irregulars, without,
however, any perceptible terrorism.

The amount of work these teachers accomplish in a day is incredible:
the boys' school opens at eight in the morning and closes at four,
with intermission of an hour at noon. Then in the evening the same
men teach a school for adults, and on Sunday have their classes in the
Sunday-schools. And this the whole year round. Their pay is not great,
being about twenty dollars a month, and they are evidently not wholly
self-interested from this fact. The amount of good they accomplish
under the direction of their superiors is in proportion to the work
done. To appreciate it, the reader must consider that they take the
children of the most ignorant and degraded of all the Italians; that
they cause them to be washed corporeally, first of all, and then set
about cleansing them morally; and having cleared away as much of the
inherited corruption of ages as possible, they begin to educate them
in the various branches of learning. There is no direct proselyting
in the schools, but the Bible is the first study, and the children
are constantly examined in it; and the result is at least not
superstition. The advance upon the old condition of things is
incalculably great; for till the revolution under Garibaldi in 1860,
the schools of Naples were all in the hands of the priests or their
creatures, and the little learning there imparted was as dangerous as
it could well be made. Now these schools are free, the children
are honestly and thoroughly taught, and if they are not directly
instructed in Protestantism, are at least instructed to associate
religion with morality, probably for the first time in their lives.
Too much credit cannot be given to the Italian government which has
acted in such good faith with the men engaged in this work, protecting
them from all interruption and persecution; but after all, the great
praise is due to their own wise, unflagging zeal. They have worked
unostentatiously, making no idle attacks on time-honored prejudices,
but still having a purpose of enlightenment which they frankly avowed.
The people whom they seek to benefit judge them by their works, and
the result is that they have quite as much before them as they can do.
Their discouragements are great. The day's teaching is often undone at
home; the boys forget as aptly as they learn; and from the fact that
only the baser feelings of fear and interest have ever been appealed
to before in the Neapolitans, they have often to build in treacherous
places without foundation of good faith or gratitude. Embarrassments
for want of adequate funds are sometimes felt also. But no one can
study their operations without feeling that success must attend their
efforts, with honor to them, and with inestimable benefits to the
generation which shall one day help to govern free Italy.



One day it became plain even to our reluctance that we could not stay
in Naples forever, and the next morning we took the train for Rome.
The Villa Reale put on its most alluring charm to him that ran down
before breakfast to thrid once more its pathways bordered with palms
and fountains and statues; the bay beside it purpled and twinkled in
the light that made silver of the fishermen's sails; far away rose
Vesuvius with his nightcap of mist still hanging about his shoulders;
all around rang and rattled Naples. The city was never so fair before,
nor could ever have been so hard to leave; and at the last moment
the landlord of the Hotel Washington must needs add a supreme pang by
developing into a poet, and presenting me with a copy of a comedy
he had written. The reader who has received at parting from the
gentlemanly proprietor of one of our palatial hotels his "Ode on the
Steam Elevator," will conceive of the shame and regret with which I
thought of having upbraided our landlord about our rooms, of having
stickled at small preliminaries concerning our contract for board, and
for having altogether treated him as one of the uninspired. Let me do
him the tardy justice to say that he keeps, after the Stella d'Oro at
Ferrara, the best hotel in Italy, and that his comedy was really very
sprightly. It is no small thing to know how to keep a hotel, as we
know, and a poet who does it ought to have a double acclaim.

Nobody who cares to travel with decency and comfort can take the
second-class cars on the road between Naples and Rome, though these
are perfectly good everywhere else in Italy. The Papal city makes her
influence felt for shabbiness and uncleanliness wherever she can, and
her management seems to prevail on this railway. A glance into
the second-class cars reconciled us to the first-class,--which in
themselves were bad,--and we took our places almost contentedly.

The road passed through the wildest country we had seen in Italy; and
presently a rain began to fall and made it drearier than ever. The
land was much grown up with thickets of hazel, and was here and there
sparsely wooded with oaks. Under these, hogs were feeding upon the
acorns, and the wet swine-herds were steaming over fires built at their
roots. In some places the forest was quite dense; in other places it
fell entirely away, and left the rocky hill-sides bare, and solitary
but for the sheep that nibbled at the scanty grass, and the shepherds
that leaned upon their crooks and motionlessly stared at us as we
rushed by. As we drew near Rome, the scenery grew lonelier yet; the
land rose into desolate, sterile, stony heights, without a patch of
verdure on their nakedness, and at last abruptly dropped into the
gloomy expanse of the Campagna.

The towns along the route had little to interest us in their looks,
though at San Germano we caught a glimpse of the famous old convent of
Monte-Cassino, perched aloft on its cliff and looking like a part of
the rock on which it was built. Fancy now loves to climb that steep
acclivity, and wander through the many-volumed library of the ancient
Benedictine retreat, and on the whole finds it less fatiguing and
certainly less expensive than actual ascent and acquaintance with
the monastery would have been. Two Croatian priests, who shared our
compartment of the railway carriage, first drew our notice to the
place, and were enthusiastic about it for many miles after it was
out of sight. What gentle and pleasant men they were, and how hard it
seemed that they should be priests and Croats! They told us all about
the city of Spalato, where they lived, and gave us such a glowing
account of Dalmatian poets and poetry that we began to doubt at last
if the seat of literature were not somewhere on the east coast of the
Adriatic; and I hope we left them the impression that the literary
centre of the world was not a thousand miles from the horse-car office
in Harvard Square.

Here and there repairs were going forward on the railroad, and most
of the laborers were women. They were straight and handsome girls,
and moved with a stately grace under the baskets of earth balanced on
their heads. Brave black eyes they had, such as love to look and to
be looked at; they were not in the least hurried by their work, but
desisted from it to gaze at the passengers whenever the train stopped.
They all wore their beautiful peasant costume,--the square white linen
head-dress falling to the shoulders, the crimson bodice, and the red
scant skirt; and how they contrived to keep themselves so clean at
their work, and to look so spectacular in it all, remains one of the
many Italian mysteries.

Another of these mysteries we beheld in the little beggar-boy at
Isoletta. He stood at the corner of the station quite mute and
motionless during our pause, and made no sign of supplication or
entreaty. He let his looks beg for him. He was perfectly beautiful
and exceedingly picturesque. Where his body was not quite naked, his
jacket and trousers hung in shreds and points; his long hair grew
through the top of his hat, and fell over like a plume. Nobody could
resist him; people ran out of the cars, at the risk of being left
behind, to put coppers into the little dirty hand held languidly out
to receive them. The boy thanked none, smiled on none, but looked
curiously and cautiously at all, with the quick perception and the
illogical conclusions of his class and race. As we started he did not
move, but remained in his attitude of listless tranquillity. As we
glanced back, the mystery of him seemed to be solved for a moment: he
would stand there till he grew up into a graceful, prayerful, pitiless
brigand, and then he would rend from travel the tribute now go freely
given him. But after all, though his future seemed clear, and he
appeared the type of a strange and hardly reclaimable people, he was
not quite a solution of the Neapolitan puzzle.




The first view of the ruins in the Forum brought a keen sense of
disappointment. I knew that they could only be mere fragments and
rubbish, but I was not prepared to find them so. I learned that I
had all along secretly hoped for some dignity of neighborhood, some
affectionate solicitude on the part of Nature to redeem these works of
Art from the destruction that had befallen them. But in hollows below
the level of the dirty cowfield, wandered over by evil-eyed buffaloes,
and obscenely defiled by wild beasts of men, there stood here an
arch, there a pillar, yonder a cluster of columns crowned by a bit
of frieze; and yonder again, a fragment of temple, half-gorged by
the façade of a hideous Renaissance church; then a height of vaulted
brick-work, and, leading on to the Coliseum, another arch, and then
incoherent columns overthrown and mixed with dilapidated walls--mere
phonographic consonants, dumbly representing the past, out of which
all vocal glory had departed. The Coliseum itself does not much better
express a certain phase of Roman life than does the Arena at Verona;
it is larger only to the foot-rule, and it seemed not grander
otherwise, while it is vastly more ruinous. Even the Pantheon failed
to impress me at first sight, though I found myself disposed to return
to it again and again, and to be more and more affected by it.

Modern Rome appeared, first and last, hideous. It is the least
interesting town in Italy, and the architecture is hopelessly
ugly--especially the architecture of the churches. The Papal city
contrives at the beginning to hide the Imperial city from your
thought, as it hides it in such a great degree from your eye, and old
Rome only occurs to you in a sort of stupid wonder over the depth at
which it is buried. I confess that I was glad to get altogether away
from it after a first look at the ruins in the Forum, and to take
refuge in the Conservatorio delle Mendicanti, where we were charged
to see the little Virginia G. The Conservatorio, though a charitable
institution, is not so entirely meant for mendicants as its name would
imply, but none of the many young girls there were the children of
rich men. They were often enough of parentage actually hungry and
ragged, but they were often also the daughters of honest poor folk,
who paid a certain sum toward their maintenance and education in the
Conservatorio. Such was the case with little Virginia, whose father
was at Florence, doubly impeded from seeing her by the fact that he
had fought against the Pope for the Republic of 1848, and by the
other fact that he had since wrought the Pope a yet deadlier injury by
turning Protestant.

Ringing a garrulous bell that continued to jingle some time after we
were admitted, we found ourselves in a sort of reception-room, of the
general quality of a cellar, and in the presence of a portress who was
perceptibly preserved from mold only by the great pot of coals that
stood in the centre of the place. Some young girls, rather pretty than
not, attended the ancient woman, and kindly acted as the ear-trumpet
through which our wishes were conveyed to her mind. The Conservatorio
was not, so far, as conventual as we had imagined it; but as the
gentleman of the party was strongly guarded by female friends, and
asked at once to see the Superior, he concluded that there was,
perhaps, something so unusually reassuring to the recluses in his
appearance and manner that they had not thought it necessary to behave
very rigidly. It later occurred to this gentleman that the promptness
with which the pretty mendicants procured him an interview with the
Superior had a flavor of self-interest in; and that he who came to the
Conservatorio in the place of a father might have been for a moment
ignorantly viewed as a yet dearer and tenderer possibility. From
whatever danger there was in this error the Superior soon appeared to
rescue him, and we were invited into a more ceremonious apartment on
the first floor, and the little Virginia was sent for. The visit
of the strangers caused a tumult and interest in the quiet old
Conservatorio of which it is hard to conceive now, and the excitement
grew tremendous when it appeared that, the signori were Americani and
Protestanti. We imparted a savor of novelty and importance to Virginia
herself, and when she appeared, the Superior and her assistant looked
at her with no small curiosity and awe, of which the little maiden
instantly became conscious, and began to take advantage. Accompanying
us over the building and through the grounds, she cut her small
friends wherever she met them, and was not more than respectful to the

It was from an instinct of hospitality that we were shown the
Conservatorio, and instructed in regard to all its purposes. We saw
the neat dormitories with their battalions of little white beds; the
kitchen with its gigantic coppers for boiling broth, and the refectory
with the smell of the frugal dinners of generations of mendicants in
it. The assistant was very proud of the neatness of every thing, and
was glad to talk of that, or, indeed, any thing else. It appeared that
the girls were taught reading, writing, and plain sewing when they
were young, and that the Conservatorio was chiefly sustained by pious
contributions and bequests. Any lingering notion of the conventual
character of the place was dispelled by the assistant's hurrying to
say, "And when we can get the poor things well married, we are glad to
do so."

"But how does any one ever see them?"

"Eh! well, that is easily managed. Once a month we dress the
marriageable girls in their best, and take them for a walk in the
street. If an honest young man falls in love with one of them going
by, he comes to the Superior, and describes her as well as he can,
and demands to see her. She is called, and if both are pleased, the
marriage is arranged. You see it is a very simple affair."

And there was, to the assistant's mind, nothing odd in the whole
business, insomuch that I felt almost ashamed of marveling at it.

Issuing from the backdoor of the convent, we ascended by stairs and
gateways into garden spaces, chiefly planted with turnips and the like
poor but respectable vegetables, and curiously adorned with fragments
of antique statuary, and here and there a fountain in a corner,
trickling from moss-grown rocks, and falling into a trough of
travertine, about the feet of some poor old goddess or Virtue who had
forgotten what her name was.

Once, the assistant said, speaking as if the thing had been within
her recollection, though it must have been centuries before, the
antiquities of the Conservatorio were much more numerous and striking;
but they were now removed to the different museums. Nevertheless they
had still a beautiful prospect left, which we were welcome to enjoy if
we would follow her; and presently, to our surprise, we stepped from
the garden upon the roof of the Temple of Peace. The assistant had not
boasted without reason: away before us stretched the Campagna, a level
waste, and empty, but for the umbrella-palms that here and there
waved like black plumes upon it, and for the arched lengths of
the acqueducts that seemed to stalk down from the ages across the
melancholy expanse like files of giants, with now and then a ruinous
gap in the line, as if one had fallen out weary by the way. The city
all around us glittered asleep in the dim December sunshine, and
far below us,--on the length of the Forum over which the Appian Way
stretched from the Capitoline Hill under the Arch of Septimius Severus
and the Arch of Titus to the Arch of Constantine, leaving the Coliseum
on the left, and losing itself in the foliage of the suburbs,--the
Past seemed struggling to emerge from the ruins, and to reshape and
animate itself anew. The effort was more successful than that which we
had helped the Past to make when standing on the level of the Forum;
but Antiquity must have been painfully conscious of the incongruity of
the red-legged Zouaves wandering over the grass, and of the bewildered
tourists trying to make her out with their Murrays.

In a day or two after this we returned again to our Conservatorio,
where we found that the excitement created by our first visit had been
kept fully alive by the events attending the photographing of Virginia
for her father. Not only Virginia was there to receive us, but her
grandmother also--an old, old woman, dumb through some infirmity of
age, who could only weep and smile in token of her content. I think
she had but a dim idea, after all, of what went on beyond the visible
fact of Virginia's photograph, and that she did not quite understand
how we could cause it to be taken for her son. She was deeply
compassionated by the Superior, who rendered her pity with a great
deal of gesticulation, casting up her eyes, shrugging her shoulders,
and sighing grievously. But the assistant's cheerfulness could not be
abated even by the spectacle of extreme age; and she made the most of
the whole occasion, recounting with great minuteness all the incidents
of the visit to the photographer's, and running to get the dress
Virginia sat in, that we might see how exactly it was given in the
picture. Then she gave us much discourse concerning the Conservatorio
and its usages, and seemed not to wish us to think that life there
was altogether eventless. "Here we have a little amusement also," she
said. "The girls have their relatives to visit them sometimes, and
then in the evening they dance. Oh, they enjoy themselves! I am half
old (_mezzo-vecchia_). I am done with these things. But for youth,
always kept down, something lively is wanted."

When we took leave of these simple folks, we took leave of almost the
only natural and unprepared aspect of Italian life which we were to
see in Rome; but we did not know this at the time.


Indeed, it seems to me that all moisture of romance and adventure has
been wellnigh sucked out of travel in Italy, and that compared with
the old time, when the happy wayfarer journeyed by vettura through the
innumerable little states of the Peninsula,--halted every other mile
to show his passport, and robbed by customs officers in every color of
shabby uniform and every variety of cocked hat,--the present railroad
period is one of but stale and insipid flavor. Much of local life and
color remains, of course; but the hurried traveller sees little of it,
and, passed from one grand hotel to another, without material change
in the cooking or the methods of extortion, he might nearly as well
remain at Paris. The Italians, who live to so great extent by the
travel through their country, learn our abominable languages and
minister to our detestable comfort and propriety, till we have slight
chance to know them as we once could,--musical, picturesque, and full
of sweet, natural knaveries, graceful falsehood, and all uncleanness.
Rome really belongs to the Anglo-Saxon nations, and the Pope and the
past seem to be carried on entirely for our diversion. Every thing is
systematized as thoroughly as in a museum where the objects are all
ticketed; and our prejudices are consulted even down to alms-giving,
Honest Beppo is gone from the steps in the Piazza di Spagna, and now
the beggars are labeled like policemen, with an immense plate bearing
the image of St. Peter, so that you may know you give to a worthy
person when you bestow charity on one of them, and not, alas! to some
abandoned impostor, as in former days. One of these highly recommended
mendicants gave the last finish to the system, and begged of us in
English! No custodian will answer you, if he can help it, in the
Italian which he speaks so exquisitely, preferring to speak bad French
instead, and in all the shops on the Corso the English tongue is _de

After our dear friends at the Conservatorio, I think we found one of
the most simple and interesting of Romans in the monk who showed us
the Catacombs of St. Sebastian. These catacombs, he assured us, were
not restored like those of St. Calixtus, but were just as the martyrs
left them; and, as I do not remember to have read anywhere that
they are formed merely of long, low, narrow, wandering underground
passages, lined on either side with tombs in tiers like berths on
a steamer, and expanding here and there into small square chambers,
bearing the traces of ancient frescos, and evidently used as
chapels,--I venture to offer the information here. The reader is to
keep in his mind a darkness broken by the light of wax tapers, a
close smell, and crookedness and narrowness, or he cannot realize the
catacombs as they are in fact. Our monkish guide, before entering the
passage leading from the floor of the church to the tombs, in which
there was still some "fine small dust" of the martyrs, warned us that
to touch it was to incur the penalty of excommunication, and then
gently craved pardon for having mentioned the fact. But, indeed, it
was only to persons who showed a certain degree of reverence that
these places were now exhibited; for some Protestants who had been
permitted there had stolen handfuls of the precious ashes, merely to
throw away. I assured him that I thought them beasts to do it; and I
was afterwards puzzled to know what should attract their wantonness in
the remnants of mortality, hardly to be distinguished from the common
earth out of which the catacombs were dug.


Returning to the church above we found, kneeling before one of the
altars, two pilgrims,--a man and a woman. The latter was habited in
a nun-like dress of black, and the former in a long pilgrim's coat of
coarse blue stuff. He bore a pilgrim's staff in his hand, and showed
under his close hood a fine, handsome, reverent face, full of a sort
of tender awe, touched with the pathos of penitence. In attendance
upon the two was a dapper little silk-hatted man, with rogue so
plainly written in his devotional countenance that I was not surprised
to be told that he was a species of spiritual _valet de place_,
whose occupation it was to attend pilgrims on their tour to the Seven
Churches at which these devotees pray in Rome, and there to direct
their orisons and join in them.

It was not to the pilgrims, but to the heretics that the monk now
uncovered the precious marble slab on which Christ stood when he met
Peter flying from Rome and turned him back. You are shown the prints
of the divine feet, which the conscious stone received and keeps
forever; and near at hand is one of the arrows with which St.
Sebastian was shot. We looked at these things critically, having to
pay for the spectacle; but the pilgrims and their guide were all faith
and wonder.

I remember seeing nothing else so finely superstitious at Rome. In a
chapel near the Church of St. John Lateran are, as is well known,
the marble steps which once belonged to Pilate's house, and which the
Saviour is said to have ascended when he went to trial before Pilate.
The steps are protected against the wear and tear of devotion by a
stout casing of wood, and they are constantly covered with penitents,
who ascend and descend them upon their knees. Most of the pious people
whom I saw in this act were children, and the boys enjoyed it with a
good deal of giggling, as a very amusing feat. Some old and haggard
women gave the scene all the dignity which it possessed; but certain
well-dressed ladies and gentlemen were undeniably awkward and absurd,
and I was led to doubt if there were not an incompatibility between
the abandon of simple faith and the respectability of good clothes.


In all other parts of Italy one hears constant talk among travellers
of the malaria at Rome, and having seen a case of Roman fever, I know
it is a thing not to be trifled with. But in Rome itself the malaria
is laughed at by the foreign residents,--who, nevertheless, go out of
the city in midsummer. The Romans, to the number of a hundred thousand
or so, remain there the whole year round, and I am bound to say I
never saw a healthier, robuster-looking population. The cheeks of the
French soldiers, too, whom we met at every turn, were red as their
trousers, and they seemed to flourish on the imputed unwholesomeness
of the atmosphere. All at Rome are united in declaring that the fever
exists at Naples, and that sometimes those who have taken it there
come and die in Rome, in order to give the city a bad name; and I
think this very likely.

Rome is certainly dirty, however, though there is a fountain in every
square, and you are never out of the sound of falling water. The Corso
and some of the principal streets do not so much impress you with
their filth as with their dullness; but that part of the city where
some of the most memorable relics of antiquity are to be found is
unimaginably vile. The least said of the state of the archways of the
Coliseum the soonest mended; and I have already spoken of the Forum.
The streets near the Theatre of Pompey are almost impassable, and the
so-called House of Rienzi is a stable, fortified against approach by
a _fossé_ of excrement. A noisome smell seems to be esteemed the most
appropriate offering to the memory of ancient Rome, and I am not sure
that the moderns are mistaken in this. In the rascal streets in the
neighborhood of the most august ruins, the people turn round to stare
at the stranger as he passes them; they are all dirty, and his decency
must be no less a surprise to them than the neatness of the French
soldiers amid all the filth is a puzzle to him. We wandered about a
long time in such places one day, looking for the Tarpeian Rock, less
for Tarpeia's sake than for the sake of Miriam and Donatello and the
Model. There are two Tarpeian rocks, between which the stranger takes
his choice; and we must have chosen the wrong one, for it seemed but
a shallow gulf compared to that in our fancy. We were somewhat
disappointed; but then Niagara disappoints one; and as for Mont


It is worth while for every one who goes to Rome to visit the Church
of St. Peter's; but it is scarcely worth while for me to describe
it, or for every one to go up into the bronze globe on the top of the
cupola. In fact, this is a great labor, and there is nothing to
be seen from the crevices in the ball which cannot be far more
comfortably seen from the roof of the church below.

The companions of our ascent to the latter point were an English lady
and gentleman, brother and sister, and both Catholics, as they at once
told us. The lady and myself spoke for some time in the Tuscan tongue
before we discovered that neither of us was Italian, after which we
paid each other some handsome compliments upon fluency and perfection
of accent. The gentleman was a pleasant purple porpoise from the
waters of Chili, whither he had wandered from the English coasts in
early youth. He had two leading ideas: one concerned the Pope, to
whom he had just been presented, and whom he viewed as the best and
blandest of beings; the other related to his boy, then in England,
whom he called Jack Spratt, and considered the grandest and greatest
of boys. With the view from the roof of the church this gentleman did
not much trouble himself. He believed Jack Spratt could ride up to the
roof where we stood on his donkey. As to the great bronze globe which
we were hurrying to enter he seemed to regard it merely as a rival in
rotundity, and made not the slightest motion to follow us.

I should be loth to vex the reader with any description of the scene
before us and beneath us, even if I could faithfully portray it. But I
recollect, with a pleasure not to be left unrecorded, the sweetness
of the great fountain playing in the square before the church, and
the harmony in which the city grew in every direction from it, like
an emanation from its music, till the last house sank away into
the pathetic solitude of the Campagna, with nothing beyond but the
snow-capped mountains lighting up the remotest distance. At the same
moment I experienced a rapture in reflecting that I had underpaid
three hackmen during my stay in Rome, and thus contributed to avenge
my race for ages of oppression.

The vastness of St. Peter's itself is best felt in looking down upon
the interior from the gallery that surrounds the inside of the dome,
and in comparing one's own littleness with the greatness of all the
neighboring mosaics. But as to the beauty of the temple, I could not
find it without or within.


In Rome one's fellow-tourists are a constant source of gratification
and surprise. I thought that American travellers were by no means the
most absurd among those we saw, nor even the loudest in their approval
of the Eternal City. A certain order of German greenness affords,
perhaps, the pleasantest pasturage for the ruminating mind. For
example, at the Villa Ludovisi there was, beside numerous Englishry
in detached bodies, a troop of Germans, chiefly young men, frugally
pursuing the Sehenswürdigkeiten in the social manner of their nation.
They took their enjoyment very noisily, and wrangled together with
furious amiability as they looked at Guercino's "Aurora." Then two of
them parted from the rest, and went to a little summer-house in the
gardens, while the others followed us to the top of the Casino. There
they caught sight of their friends in the arbor, and the spectacle
appeared to overwhelm them. They bowed, they took off their hats, they
waved their handkerchiefs. It was not enough: one young fellow mounted
on the balustrade of the roof at his neck's risk, lifted his hat on
his cane and flourished it in greeting to the heart's-friends in the
arbor, from whom he had parted two minutes before.

In strange contrast to the producer of this enthusiasm, so pumped and
so unmistakably mixed with beer, a fat and pallid Englishwoman sat
in a chair upon the roof and coldly, coldly sketched the lovely
landscape. And she and the blonde young English girl beside her
pronounced a little dialogue together, which I give, because I saw
that they meant it for the public:

_The Young Girl_.--I wonder, you knoa, you don't draw-ow St. Petuh's!

_The Artist_.--O ah, you knoa, I can draw-ow St. Petuh's from so
mennee powints.

I am afraid that the worst form of American greenness appears abroad
in a desire to be perfectly up in critical appreciation of the arts,
and to approach the great works in the spirit of the connoisseur. The
ambition is not altogether a bad one. Still I could not help laughing
at a fellow-countryman when he told me that he had not yet seen
Raphael's "Transfiguration," because he wished to prepare his mind for
understanding the original by first looking at all the copies he could


The Basilica San Paolo fuori le Mura surpasses every thing in splendor
of marble and costly stone--porphyry, malachite, alabaster--and luxury
of gilding that is to be seen at Rome. But I chiefly remember it
because on the road that leads to it, through scenes as quiet and
peaceful as if history had never known them, lies the Protestant
graveyard in which Keats is buried. Quite by chance the driver
mentioned it, pointing in the direction of the cemetery with his whip.
We eagerly dismounted and repaired to the gate, where we were met by
the son of the sexton, who spoke English through the beauteous line of
a curved Hebrew nose. Perhaps a Christian could not be found in Rome
to take charge of these heretic graves, though Christians can be got
to do almost any thing there for money. However, I do not think
a Catholic would have kept the place in better order, or more
intelligently understood our reverent curiosity. It was the new
burial-ground which we had entered, and which is a little to the right
of the elder cemetery. It was very beautiful and tasteful in every
way; the names upon the stones were chiefly English and Scotch,
with here and there an American's. But affection drew us only to the
prostrate tablet inscribed with the words, "Percy Bysshe Shelley, Cor
Cordium," and then we were ready to go to the grave of him for whom we
all feel so deep a tenderness. The grave of John Keats is one of
few in the old burying-ground, and lies almost in the shadow of the
pyramid of Caius Cestius; and I could not help thinking of the wonder
the Roman would have felt could he have known into what unnamable
richness and beauty his Greek faith had ripened in the heart of the
poor poet, where it was mixed with so much sorrow. Doubtless, in his
time, a prominent citizen like Caius Cestius was a leading member of
the temple in his neighborhood, and regularly attended sacrifice: it
would have been but decent; and yet I fancied that a man immersed like
him in affairs might have learned with surprise the inner and more
fragrant meaning of the symbols with the outside of which his life was
satisfied; and I was glad to reflect that in our day such a thing is

The grave of our beloved poet is sunken to the level of the common
earth, and is only marked by the quaintly lettered, simple stone
bearing the famous epitaph. While at Rome I heard talk of another and
grander monument which some members of the Keats family were to place
over the dust of their great kinsman. But, for one, I hope this may
never be done, even though the original stone should also be left
there, as was intended. Let the world still keep unchanged this
shrine, to which it can repair with at once pity and tenderness and

A rose-tree and some sweet-smelling bushes grew upon the grave, and
the roses were in bloom. We asked leave to take one of them; but at
last could only bring ourselves to gather some of the fallen petals.
Our Hebrew guide was willing enough, and unconsciously set us a little
example of wantonness; for while he listened to our explanation of
the mystery which had puzzled him ever since he had learned English,
namely, why the stone should say "_writ_ on water," and not _written_,
he kept plucking mechanically at one of the fragrant shrubs, pinching
away the leaves, and rending the tender twig, till I, remembering the
once-sensitive dust from which it grew, waited for the tortured
tree to cry out to him with a voice of words and blood, "Perchè mi


It seems to me that a candid person will wish to pause a little
before condemning Gibson's colored statues. They have been grossly
misrepresented. They do not impress one at all as wax-work, and there
is great wrong in saying that their tinted nakedness suggests impurity
any more than the white nakedness of other statues. The coloring
is quite conventional; the flesh is merely warmed with the hue
representing life; the hair is always a very delicate yellow, the eyes
a tender violet, and there is no other particularization of color; a
fillet binding the hair may be gilded,--the hem of a robe traced
in blue. I, who had just come from seeing the fragments of antique
statuary in Naples Museum, tinted in the same way, could not feel
that there was any thing preposterous in Gibson's works, and I am not
ashamed to say that they gave me pleasure.

As we passed, in his studio, from one room to another, the workman who
showed the marbles surprised and delighted us by asking if we would
like to see the sculptor, and took us up into the little room where
Gibson worked. He was engaged upon a bass-relief,--a visit of Psyche
to the Zephyrs, or something equally aërial and mythological,--and
received us very simply and naturally, and at once began with some
quaint talk about the subject in hand. When we mentioned our pleasure
in his colored marbles we touched the right spring, and he went on to
speak of his favorite theory with visible delight, making occasional
pauses to bestow a touch on the bass-relief, and coming back to his
theme with that self-corroborative "Yes!" of his, which Hawthorne
has immortalized. He was dressed with extraordinary slovenliness and
indifference to clothes, had no collar, I think, and evidently did
not know what he had on. Every thing about him bespoke the utmost
unconsciousness and democratic plainness of life, so that I could
readily believe a story I heard of him. Having dined the greater part
of his life in Roman restaurants where it is but wholesome to go over
your plate, glass, spoon, and knife and fork with your napkin before
using them, the great sculptor had acquired such habits of
neatness that at table in the most aristocratic house in England
he absent-mindedly went through all that ceremony of cleansing
and wiping. It is a story they tell in Rome, where every body is
anecdoted, and not always so good-naturedly.


One Sunday afternoon we went with some artistic friends to visit the
studio of the great German painter, Overbeck; and since I first read
Uhland I have known no pleasure so illogical as I felt in looking at
this painter's drawings. In the sensuous heart of objective Italy he
treats the themes of mediæval Catholicism with the most subjective
feeling, and I thought I perceived in his work the enthusiasm which
led many Protestant German painters and poets of the romantic school
back into the twilight of the Romish faith, in the hope that they
might thus realize to themselves something of the earnestness which
animated the elder Christian artists. Overbeck's work is beautiful,
but it is unreal, and expresses the sentiment of no time; as the work
of the romantic German poets seems without relation to any world men
ever lived in.

Walking from the painter's house, two of us parted with the rest
on the steps of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and pursued our
stroll through the gate of San Lorenzo out upon the Campagna, which
tempts and tempts the sojourner at Rome, until at last he must go
and see--if it will give him the fever. And, alas! there I caught the
Roman fever--the longing that burns one who has once been in Rome to
go again--that will not be cured by all the cool contemptuous things
he may think or say of the Eternal City; that fills him with fond
memories of its fascination, and makes it forever desired.

We walked far down the dusty road beyond the city walls, and then
struck out from the highway across the wild meadows of the Campagna.
They were weedy and desolate, seamed by shaggy grass-grown ditches,
and deeply pitted with holes made in search for catacombs. There was
here and there a farm-house amid the wide lonesomeness, but oftener
a round, hollow, roofless tomb, from which the dust and memory of the
dead had long been blown away, and through the top of which--fringed
and overhung with grasses, and opening like a great eye--the evening
sky looked marvelously sad. One of the fields was full of grim,
wide-horned cattle, and in another there were four or five buffaloes
lying down and chewing their cuds,--holding their heads horizontally
in the air, and with an air of gloomy wickedness which nothing could
exceed in their cruel black eyes, glancing about in visible pursuit
of some object to toss and gore. There were also many canebrakes,
in which the wind made a mournful rustling after the sun had set in
golden glitter on the roofs of the Roman churches and the transparent
night had fallen upon the scene.

In all our ramble we met not a soul, and I scarcely know what it is
makes this walk upon the Campagna one of my vividest recollections
of Rome, unless it be the opportunity it gave me to weary myself upon
that many-memoried ground as freely as if it had been a woods-pasture
in Ohio. Nature, where history was so august, was perfectly simple
and motherly, and did so much to make me at home, that, as the night
thickened and we plunged here and there into ditches and climbed
fences, and struggled, heavy-footed, back through the suburbs to
the city gate, I felt as if half my boyhood had been passed upon the


Pasquino, like most other great people, is not very interesting upon
close approach. There is no trace now in his aspect to show that he
has ever been satirical; but the humanity that the sculptor gave him
is imperishable, though he has lost all character as a public censor.
The torso is at first glance nothing but a shapeless mass of stone,
but the life can never die out of that which has been shaped by art
to the likeness of a man, and a second look restores the lump to
full possession of form and expression. For this reason I lament that
statues should ever be restored except by sympathy and imagination.


Regarding the face of Pompey's statue in the Spada Palace, I was more
struck than ever with a resemblance to American politicians which I
had noted in all the Roman statues. It is a type of face not now to be
found in Rome, but frequent enough here, and rather in the South
than in the North. Pompey was like the pictures of so many Southern
Congressmen that I wondered whether race had not less to do with
producing types than had similarity of circumstances; whether a
republicanism based upon slavery could not so far assimilate character
as to produce a common aspect in people widely separated by time and
creeds, but having the same unquestioned habits of command, and the
same boundless and unscrupulous ambition.


When the Tiber, according to its frequent habit, rises and inundates
the city, the Pantheon is one of the first places to be flooded--the
sacristan told us. The water climbs above the altar-tops, sapping,
in its recession, the cement of the fine marbles which incrust the
columns, so that about their bases the pieces have to be continually
renewed. Nothing vexes you so much in the Pantheon as your
consciousness of these and other repairs. Bad as ruin is, I think I
would rather have the old temple ruinous in every part than restored
as you find it. The sacristan felt the wrongs of the place keenly, and
said, referring to the removal of the bronze roof, which took place
some centuries ago, "They have robbed us of every thing" (_Ci hanno
levato tutto_); as if he and the Pantheon were of one blood, and he
had suffered personal hurt in its spoliation.

What a sense of the wildness everywhere lurking about Rome we had
given us by that group of peasants who had built a fire of brushwood
almost within the portico of the Pantheon, and were cooking their
supper at it, the light of the flames luridly painting their swarthy


Poor little Numero Cinque Via del Gambero has seldom, I imagine, known
so violent a sensation as that it experienced when, on the day of the
Immaculate Conception, the Armenian Archbishop rolled up to the door
in his red coach. The master of the house had always seemed to like
us; now he appeared with profound respect suffusing, as it were, his
whole being, and announced, "Signore, it is Monsignore come to take
you to the Sistine Chapel in his carriage," and drew himself up in a
line, as much like a series of serving-men as possible, to let us
pass out. There was a private carriage for the ladies near that of
Monsignore, for he had already advertised us that the sex were not
permitted to ride in the red coach. As they appeared, however, he
renewed his expressions of desolation at being deprived of their
company, and assured them of his good-will with a multiplicity of
smiles and nods, intermixed with shrugs of recurrence to his poignant
regret. But! In fine, it was forbidden!

Monsignore was in full costume, with his best ecclesiastical clothes
on, and with his great gold chain about his neck. The dress was richer
than that of the western archbishops; and the long white beard of
Monsignore made him look much more like a Scriptural monsignore than
these. He lacked, perhaps, the fine spiritual grace of his brother,
the Archbishop at Venice, to whose letter of introduction we owed his
acquaintance and untiring civilities; but if a man cannot be plump and
spiritual, he can be plump and pleasant, as Monsignore was to the last
degree. He enlivened our ride with discourse about the Armenians at
Venice, equally beloved of us; and, arrived at the Sistine Chapel, he
marshaled the ladies before him, and won them early entrance through
the crowd of English people crushing one another at the door. Then
he laid hold upon the captain of the Swiss Guard, who was swift to
provide them with the best places; and in nowise did he seem one of
the uninfluential and insignificant priests that About describes the
archbishops at Rome to be. According to this lively author, a Swiss
guard was striking back the crowd on some occasion with the butt of
his halberd, and smote a cardinal on the breast. He instantly
dropped upon his knees, with "Pardon, Eminenza! I thought it was a
monsignore!" Even the chief of these handsome fellows had nothing but
respect and obedience for our Archbishop.

The gentlemen present were separated from the ladies, and in a very
narrow space outside of the chapel men of every nation were penned up
together. All talked--several priests as loudly as the rest. But the
rudest among them were certain Germans, who not only talked but stood
upon a seat to see better, and were ordered down by one of the Swiss
with a fierce "_Giù, signore, giù_!" Otherwise the guard kept good
order in the chapel, and were no doubt as useful and genuine as any
thing about the poor old Pope. What gorgeous fellows they were, and,
as soldiers, how absurd! The weapons they bore were as obsolete as the
excommunication. It was amusing to pass one of these play-soldiers on
guard at the door of the Vatican--tall, straight, beautiful, superb,
with his halberd on his shoulder--and then come to a real warrior
outside, a little, ugly, red-legged French sentinel, with his Minié on
his arm.

Except for the singing of the Pope's choir--which was angelically
sweet, and heavenly far above all praise--the religious ceremonies
affected me, like all others of that faith, as tedious and empty. Each
of the cardinals, as he entered the chapel, blew a sonorous nose; and
was received standing by his brother prelates--a grotesque company
of old-womanish old men in gaudy gowns. One of the last to come was
Antonelli, who has the very wickedest face in the world. He sat with
his eyes fastened upon his book, but obviously open at every pore
to all that went on about him. As he passed out he cast gleaming,
terrible, sidelong looks upon the people, full of hate and guile.

From where I stood I saw the Pope's face only in profile: it was
gentle and benign enough, but not great in expression, and the smile
on it almost degenerated into a simper. His Holiness had a cold; and
his _recitative_, though full, was not smooth. He was all priest
when, in the midst of the service, he hawked, held his handkerchief up
before his face, a little way off, and ruthlessly spat in it!


I imagine that Grossetto is not a town much known to travel, for it is
absent from all the guide-books I have looked at. However, it is chief
in the Maremma, where sweet Pia de' Tolommei languished and perished
of the poisonous air and her love's cruelty, and where, so many mute
centuries since, the Etrurian cities flourished and fell. Further, one
may say that Grossetto is on the diligence road from Civita Vecchia
to Leghorn, and that in the very heart of the place there is a lovely
palm-tree, rare, if not sole, in that latitude. This palm stands in a
well-sheltered, dull little court, out of every thing's way, and turns
tenderly toward the wall that shields it on the north. It has no other
company but a beautiful young girl, who leans out of a window high
over its head, and I have no doubt talks with it. At the moment we
discovered the friends, the maiden was looking pathetically to the
northward, while the palm softly stirred and opened its plumes, as a
bird does when his song is finished; and there is very little question
but it had just been singing to her that song of which the palms are
so fond,--

  "Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam
  Im Norden auf kahler Höh'."

Grossetto does her utmost to hide the secret of this tree's
existence, as if a hard, matter-of-fact place ought to be ashamed of
a sentimentality of the kind. It pretended to be a very worldly town,
and tried to keep us in the neighborhood of its cathedral, where the
caffè and shops are, and where, in the evening, four or five officers
of the garrison clinked their sabres on the stones, and promenaded up
and down, and as many ladies shopped for gloves; and as many citizens
sat at the principal caffè and drank black coffee. This was lively
enough; and we knew that the citizens were talking of the last week's
news and the Roman question; that the ladies were really looking for
loves, not gloves; that such of the officers as had no local intrigue
to keep their hearts at rest were terribly bored, and longed for
Florence or Milan or Turin.

Besides the social charms of her piazza, Grossetto put forth others
of an artistic nature. The cathedral was very old and very
beautiful,--built of alternate lines of red and white marble, and
lately restored in the best spirit of fidelity and reverence. But
it was not open, and we were obliged to turn from it to the group of
statuary in the middle of the piazza, representative of the Maremma
and Family returning thanks to the Grand Duke Leopold III. of Tuscany
for his goodness in causing her swamps to be drained. The Maremma and
her children are arrayed in the scant draperies of Allegory, but
the Grand Duke is fully dressed, and is shown looking down with some
surprise at their figures, and with a visible doubt of the propriety
of their public appearance in that state.

There was also a Museum at Grossetto, and I wonder what was in it?

The wall of the town was perfect yet, though the moat at its feet had
been so long dry that it was only to be known from the adjacent fields
by the richness of its soil. The top of the wall had been leveled, and
planted with shade, and turned into a peaceful promenade, like most of
such mediæval defenses in Italy; though I am not sure that a little
military life did not still linger about a bastion here and there.
From somewhere, when we strolled out early in the morning, to walk
upon the wall, there came to us a throb of drums; but I believe that
the only armed men we saw, beside the officers in the piazza, were
the numerous sportsmen resorting at that season to Grossetto for
the excellent shooting in the marshes. All the way to Florence we
continued to meet them and their dogs; and our inn at Grossetto
overflowed with abundance of game. On the kitchen floor and in the
court were heaps of larks, pheasants, quails, and beccafichi, at which
a troop of scullion-boys constantly plucked, and from which the great,
noble, beautiful, white-aproned cook forever fried, stewed, broiled,
and roasted. We lived chiefly upon these generous birds during our
sojourn, and found, when we attempted to vary our bill of fare, that
the very genteel waiter attending us had few distinct ideas beyond
them. He was part of the repairs and improvements which that
hostelry had recently undergone, and had evidently come in with
the four-pronged forks, the chromo-lithographs of Victor Emanuel,
Garibaldi, Solferino, and Magenta in the large dining-room, and the
iron stove in the small one. He had nothing, evidently, in common with
the brick floors of the bed-chambers, and the ancient rooms with
great fire-places. He strove to give a Florentine blandishment to the
rusticity of life in the Maremma; and we felt sure that he must know
what beefsteak was. When we ordered it, he assumed to be perfectly
conversant with it, started to bring it, paused, turned, and, with a
great sacrifice of personal dignity, demanded, "_Bifsteca di manzo, o
bifsteca di motone_?"--"Beefsteak of beef, or beefsteak of mutton?"

Of Grossetto proper, this is all I remember, if I except a boy whom I
heard singing after dark in the streets,--

  "Camicia rossa, O Garibaldi!"

The cause of our sojourn there was an instance of _forza maggiore_, as
the agent of the diligence company defiantly expressed it, in refusing
us damages for our overturn into the river. It was in the early
part of the winter when we started from Rome for Venice, and we were
travelling northward by diligence because the railways were still more
or less interrupted by the storms and floods predicted of Matthieu
de la Drôme,--the only reliable prophet France has produced since
Voltaire;--and if our accident was caused by an overruling Providence,
the company, according to the very law of its existence, was not
responsible. To be sure, we did not see how an overruling Providence
was to blame for loading upon our diligence the baggage of two
diligences, or for the clumsiness of our driver; but on the other
hand, it is certain that the company did not make it rain or cause
the inundation. And, in fine, although we could not have travelled
by railway, we were masters to have taken the steamer instead of the
diligence at Civita Vecchia.

The choice of either of these means of travel had presented itself in
vivid hues of disadvantage all the way from Rome to the Papal port,
where the French steamer for Leghorn lay dancing a hornpipe upon the
short, chopping waves, while we approached by railway. We had
leisure enough to make the decision, if that was all we wanted. Our
engine-driver had derived his ideas of progress from an Encyclical
Letter, and the train gave every promise of arriving at Civita Vecchia
five hundred years behind time. But such was the desolating and
depressing influence of the weather and the landscape, that we reached
Civita Vecchia as undecided as we had left Rome. On the one hand,
there had been the land, soaked and sodden,--wild, shagged with
scrubby growths of timber and brooded over by sullen clouds, and
visibly inhabited only by shepherds, leaning upon their staves at
an angle of forty-five degrees, and looking, in their immovable
dejection, with their legs wrapped in long-haired goat-skins, like
satyrs that had been converted, and were trying to do right; turning
dim faces to us, they warned us with every mute appeal against the
land, as a waste of mud from one end of Italy to the other. On
the other hand, there was the sea-wind raving about our train and
threatening to blow it over, and whenever we drew near the coast,
heaping the waves upon the beach in thundering menace.

We weakly and fearfully remembered our former journeys by diligence
over broken railway routes; we recalled our cruel voyage from Genoa to
Naples by sea; and in a state of pitiable dismay we ate five francs'
worth at the restaurant of the Civita Vecchia station before we knew
it, and long before we had made up our minds. Still we might have
lingered and hesitated, and perhaps returned to Rome at last, but for
the dramatic resolution of the old man who solicited passengers for
the diligence, and carried their passports for a final Papal _visa_
at the police-office. By the account he gave of himself, he was one of
the best men in the world, and unique in those parts for honesty and
truthfulness; and he besought us, out of that affectionate interest
with which our very aspect had inspired him, not to go by steamer, but
to go by diligence, which in nineteen hours would land us safe,
and absolutely refreshed by the journey, at the railway station in
Follonica. And now, once, would we go by diligence? twice, would we
go? three times, would we go?

"Signore," said our benefactor, angrily, "I lose my time with you;"
and ran away, to be called back in the course of destiny, as he knew
well enough, and besought to take us as a special favor.

From the passports he learned that there was official dignity among
us, and addressed the unworthy bearer of public honors as Eccellenza,
and, at parting bequeathed his advantage to the conductor, commending
us all in set terms to his courtesy. He hovered caressingly about us
as long as we remained, straining politeness to do us some last little
service; and when the diligence rolled away, he did all that one man
could to give us a round of applause.

We laughed together at this silly old man, when out of sight; but we
confessed that, if travel in our own country ever came, with advancing
corruption, to be treated with the small deceits practiced upon it in
Italy, it was not likely to be treated with the small civilities also
there attendant on it,--and so tried to console ourselves.

At the moment of departure, we were surprised to have enter the
diligence a fellow-countryman, whom we had first seen on the road from
Naples to Rome. He had since crossed our path with that iteration of
travel which brings you again and again in view of the same trunks
and the same tourists in the round of Europe, and finally at Civita
Vecchia he had turned up, a silent spectator of our scene with the
agent of the diligence, and had gone off apparently a confirmed
passenger by steamer. Perhaps a nearer view of the sailor's hornpipe,
as danced by that vessel in the harbor, shook his resolution. At
any rate, here he was again, and with his ticket for Follonica,--a
bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked man, and we will say a citizen of Portland,
though he was not. For the first time in our long acquaintance with
one another's faces, we entered into conversation, and wondered
whether we should find brigands or any thing to eat on the road,
without expectation of finding either. In respect of robbers, we were
not disappointed; but shortly after nightfall we stopped at a lonely
post-house to change horses, and found that the landlord had so far
counted on our appearance as to have, just roasted and fragrantly
fuming, a leg of lamb, with certain small fried fish, and a
sufficiency of bread. It was a very lonely place as I say; the sky was
gloomy overhead; and the wildness of the landscape all about us gave
our provision quite a gamy flavor; and brigands could have added
nothing to our sense of solitude.

The road creeps along the coast for some distance from Civita Vecchia,
within hearing of the sea, and nowhere widely forsakes it, I believe,
all the way to Follonica. The country is hilly, and we stopped every
two hours to change horses; at which times we looked out, and, seeing
that it was a gray and windy night, though not rainy, exulted that we
had not taken the steamer. With very little change, the wisdom of
our decision in favor of the diligence formed the burden of our talk
during the whole night; and to think of eluded sea-sickness requited
us in the agony of our break-neck efforts to catch a little sleep, as,
mounted upon our nightmares, we rode steeple-chases up and down the
highways and by-ways of horror. Any thing that absolutely awakened us
was accounted a blessing; and I remember few things in life with so
keen a pleasure as the summons that came to us to descend from our
places and cross a river in one boat, while the two diligences of
our train followed in another. Here we had time to see our
fellow-passengers, as the pulsating light of their cigars illumined
their faces, and to discover among them that Italian, common to all
large companies, who speaks English, and is very eager to practice
it with you,--who is such a benefactor if you do not know his own
language, and such a bore if you do. After this, being landed, it was
rapture to stroll up and down the good road, and feel it hard and real
under our feet, and not an abysmal impalpability, while all the
grim shapes of our dreams fled to the spectral line of small boats
sustaining the ferry-barge, and swaying slowly from it as the drowned
men at their keels tugged them against the tide.

"_S' accommodino, Signori_!" cries the cheerful voice of the
conductor, and we ascend to our places in the diligence. The
nightmares are brought out again; we mount, and renew the
steeple-chase as before.

Suddenly, it all comes to an end, and we sit wide awake in the
diligence, amid a silence only broken by the hiss of rain against the
windows, and the sweep of gusts upon the roof. The diligence stands
still; there is no rattle of harness, nor other sound to prove that we
have arrived at the spot by other means than dropping from the clouds.
The idea that we are passengers in the last diligence destroyed
before the Deluge, and are now waiting our fate on the highest ground
accessible to wheels, fades away as the day dimly breaks, and we find
ourselves planted, as the Italians say, on the banks of another
river. There is no longer any visible conductor, the horses have been
spirited away, the driver has vanished.

The rain beats and beats upon the roof, and begins to drop through
upon us in great, wrathful tears, while the river before us rushes
away with a momently swelling flood. Enter now from the depths of
the storm a number of rainy peasants, with our conductor and driver
perfectly waterlogged, and group themselves on the low, muddy shore,
near a flat ferry-barge, evidently wanting but a hint of _forza
maggiore_ to go down with any thing put into it. A moment they
dispute in pantomime, sending now and then a windy tone of protest
and expostulation to our ears, and then they drop into a motionless
silence, and stand there in the tempest, not braving it, but enduring
it with the pathetic resignation of their race, as if it were some
form of hopeless political oppression. At last comes the conductor to
us and says, It is impossible for our diligences to cross in the
boat, and he has sent for others to meet us on the opposite shore.
He expected them long before this, but we see! They are not come.
Patience and malediction!

Remaining planted in these unfriendly circumstances from four o'clock
till ten, we have still the effrontery to be glad that we did not
take the steamer. What a storm that must be at sea! When at last
our connecting diligences appear on the other shore, we are almost
light-hearted, and make a jest of the Ombrone, as we perilously pass
it in the ferry-boat too weak for our diligences. Between the landing
and the vehicles there is a space of heavy mud to cross, and when we
reach them we find the _coupé_ appointed us occupied by three young
Englishmen, who insist that they shall be driven to the boat. With
that graceful superiority which endears their nation to the world, and
makes the travelling Englishman a universal favorite, they keep
the seats to which they have no longer any right, while the tempest
drenches the ladies to whom the places belong; and it is only by the
_forza maggiore_ of our conductor that they can be dislodged. In
the mean time the Portland man exchanges with them the assurances of
personal and national esteem, which that mighty bond of friendship,
the language of Shakespeare and Milton, enables us to offer so
idiomatically to our transatlantic cousins.

What Grossetto was like, as we first rode through it, we scarcely
looked to see. In four or five hours we should strike the railroad at
Follonica; and we merely asked of intermediate places that they
should not detain us. We dined in Grossetto at an inn of the Larthian
period,--a cold inn and a damp, which seemed never to have been
swept since the broom dropped from the grasp of the last Etrurian
chambermaid,--and we ate with the two-pronged iron forks of an extinct
civilization. All the while we dined, a boy tried to kindle a fire
to warm us, and beguiled his incessant failures with stories of
inundation on the road ahead of us. But we believed him so little,
that when he said a certain stream near Grossetto was impassable, our
company all but hissed him.

When we left the town and hurried into the open country, we perceived
that he had only too great reason to be an alarmist. Every little
rill was risen, and boiling over with the pride of harm, and the broad
fields lay hid under the yellow waters that here and there washed over
the road. Yet the freshet only presented itself to us as a pleasant
excitement; and even when we came to a place where the road itself
was covered for a quarter of a mile, we scarcely looked outside the
diligence to see how deep the water was. We were surprised when our
horses were brought to a stand on a rising ground, and the conductor,
cap in hand, appeared at the door. He was a fat, well-natured man,
full of a smiling goodwill; and he stood before us in a radiant

Would Eccellenza descend, look at the water in front, and decide
whether to go on? The conductor desired to content; it displeased him
to delay,--_ma, in somma_!--the rest was confided to the conductor's
eloquent shoulders and eyebrows.

Eccellenza, descending, beheld but a disheartening prospect. On every
hand the country was under water. The two diligences stood on a stone
bridge spanning the stream, that, now swollen to an angry torrent,
brawled over a hundred yards of the road before us. Beyond, the ground
rose, and on its slope stood a farm-house up to its second story in
water. Without the slightest hope in his purpose and merely as an
experiment, Eccellenza suggested that a man should be sent in on
horseback; which being done, man and horse in a moment floundered into
swimming depths.

The conductor, vigilantly regarding Eccellenza, gave a great shrug of

Eccellenza replied with a foreigner's broken shrug,--a shrug of
sufficiently correct construction, but wanting the tonic accent,
as one may say, though expressing, however imperfectly, an equal

It appeared to be the part of wisdom not to go ahead, but to go back
if we could; and we reëntered the water we had just crossed. It had
risen a little meanwhile, and the road could now be traced only by the
telegraph-poles. The diligence before us went safely through; but our
driver, trusting rather to inspiration than precedent, did not follow
it carefully, and directly drove us over the side of a small viaduct.
All the baggage of the train having been lodged upon the roof of our
diligence, the unwieldy vehicle now lurched heavily, hesitated, as if
preparing, like Cæsar, to fall decently, and went over on its side
with a stately deliberation that gave us ample time to arrange our
plans for getting out.

The torrent was only some three feet deep, but it was swift and muddy,
and it was with a fine sense of shipwreck that Eccellenza felt his
boots filling with water, while a conviction that it would have been
better, after all, to have taken the steamer, struck coldly home to
him. We opened the window in the top side of the diligence, and
lifted the ladies through it and the conductor, in the character of
life-boat, bore them ashore; while the driver cursed his horses in
a sullen whisper, and could with difficulty be diverted from that
employment to cut the lines and save one of them from drowning.

Here our compatriot, whose conversation with the Englishman at the
Ombrone we had lately admired, showed traits of strict and severe
method which afterward came into even bolder relief. The ladies being
rescued, he applied himself to the rescue of their hats, cloaks,
rubbers, muffs, books, and bags, and handed them up through the window
with tireless perseverance, making an effort to wring or dry each
article in turn. The other gentleman on top received them all rather
grimly, and had not perhaps been amused by the situation but for the
exploit of his hat. It was of the sort called in Italian as in English
slang a stove-pipe (_canna_), and having been made in Italy, it was
of course too large for its wearer. It had never been any thing but a
horror and reproach to him, and he was now inexpressibly delighted
to see it steal out of the diligence in company with one of the
red-leather cushions, and glide darkly down the flood. It nodded and
nodded to the cushion with a superhuman tenderness and elegance, and
had a preposterous air of whispering, as it drifted out of sight,--

  "It may be we shall reach the Happy Isles,--
  It may be that the gulfs shall wash us down."

The romantic interest of this episode had hardly died away, when our
adventure acquired an idyllic flavor from the appearance on the scene
of four peasants in an ox-cart. These the conductor tried to engage to
bring out the baggage and right the fallen diligence; and they, after
making him a little speech upon the value of their health, which
might be injured, asked him, tentatively, two hundred francs for
the service. The simple incident enforced the fact already known to
us,--that, if Italians sometimes take advantage of strangers, they
are equally willing to prey upon each other; but I doubt if any thing
could have taught a foreigner the sweetness with which our conductor
bore the enormity, and turned quietly from those brigands to carry the
Portland man from the wreck, on which he lingered, to the shore.

Here in the gathering twilight the passengers of both diligences
grouped themselves, and made merry over the common disaster. As the
conductor and the drivers brought off the luggage our spirits rose
with the arrival of each trunk, and we were pleased or not as we found
it soaked or dry. We applauded and admired the greater sufferers among
us: a lady who opened a dripping box was felt to have perpetrated a
pleasantry; and a Brazilian gentleman, whose luggage dropped to pieces
and was scattered in the flood about the diligence, was looked upon as
a very subtile humorist. Our own contribution to these witty passages
was the epigrammatic display of a reeking trunk full of the pretty
rubbish people bring away from Rome and Naples,--copies of Pompeian
frescos more ruinous than the originals; photographs floating loose
from their cards; little earthen busts reduced to the lumpishness of
common clay; Roman scarfs stained and blotted out of all memory of
their recent hues; Roman pearls clinging together in clammy masses.

We were a band of brothers and sisters, as we all crowded into one
diligence and returned to Grossetto. Arrived there, our party, knowing
that a public conveyance in Italy--and everywhere else--always stops
at the worst inn in a place, made bold to seek another, and found it
without ado, though the person who undertook to show it spoke of it
mysteriously and as of difficult access, and tried to make the simple
affair as like a scene of grand opera as he could.

We took one of the ancient rooms in which there was a vast fire-place,
as already mentioned, and we there kindled such a fire as could not
have been known in that fuel-sparing land for ages. The drying of the
clothes was an affair that drew out all the energy and method of our
compatriot, and at a late hour we left him moving about among the
garments that dangled and dripped from pegs and hooks and lines,
dealing with them as a physician with his sick, and tenderly nursing
his dress-coat, which he wrung and shook and smoothed and pulled this
way and that with a never-satisfied anxiety. At midnight, he hired
a watcher to keep up the fire and turn the steaming raiment, and,
returning at four o'clock, found his watcher dead asleep before the
empty fire-place. But I rather applaud than blame the watcher for
this. He must have been a man of iron nerve to fall asleep amid all
that phantasmal show of masks and disguises. What if those reeking
silks had forsaken their nails, and, decking themselves with the
blotted Roman scarfs and the slimy Roman pearls, had invited the
dress-coats to look over the dripping photographs? Or if all those
drowned garments had assumed the characters of the people whom they
had grown to resemble, and had sat down to hear the shade of Pia de'
Tolommei rehearse the story of her sad fate in the Maremma? I say, if
a watcher could sleep in such company, he was right to do so.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the third day after our return to Grossetto, we gathered together
our damaged effects, and packed them into refractory trunks. Then
we held the customary discussion with the landlord concerning the
effrontery of his account, and drove off once more toward Follonica.
We could scarcely recognize the route for the one we had recently
passed over; and it was not until we came to the scene of our wreck,
and found the diligence stranded high and dry upon the roadside, that
we could believe the whole landscape about us had been flooded three
days before. The offending stream had shrunk back to its channel, and
now seemed to feign an unconsciousness of its late excess, and had
a virtuous air of not knowing how in the world to account for that
upturned diligence. The waters, we learned, had begun to subside the
night after our disaster; and the vehicle might have been righted
and drawn off--for it was not in the least injured--forty-eight hours
previously; but I suppose it was not _en règle_ to touch it without
orders from Rome. I picture it to myself still lying there, in the
heart of the marshes, and thrilling sympathetic travel with the
spectacle of its ultimate ruin:

  "Disfecemi Maremma."

We reached Follonica at last, and then the cars hurried us to Leghorn.
We were thoroughly humbled in spirit, and had no longer any doubt
that we did ill to take the diligence at Civita Vecchia instead of
the steamer; for we had been, not nineteen hours, but four days on the
road, and we had suffered as aforementioned.

But we were destined to be partially restored to our self-esteem, if
not entirely comforted for our losses, when we sat down to dinner in
the Hotel Washington, and the urbane head-waiter, catching the drift
of our English discourse, asked us,--

"Have the signori heard that the French steamer, which left Civita
Vecchia the same day with their diligence, had to put back and lie in
port more than two days on account of the storm? She is but now come
into Leghorn, after a very dangerous passage."



Those of my readers who have frequented the garden of Doctor
Rappaccini no doubt recall with perfect distinctness the quaint
old city of Padua. They remember its miles and miles of dim arcade
over-roofing the sidewalks everywhere, affording excellent opportunity
for the flirtation of lovers by day and the vengeance of rivals by
night. They have seen the now-vacant streets thronged with maskers,
and the Venetian Podestà going in gorgeous state to and from the vast
Palazzo della Ragione. They have witnessed ringing tournaments in
those sad empty squares, and races in the Prato della Valle, and
many other wonders of different epochs, and their pleasure makes me
half-sorry that I should have lived for several years within an hour
by rail from Padua, and should know little or nothing of these great
sights from actual observation. I take shame to myself for having
visited Padua so often and so familiarly as I used to do,--for having
been bored and hungry there,--for having had toothache there, upon one
occasion,--for having rejoiced more in a cup of coffee at Pedrocchi's
than in the whole history of Padua,--for having slept repeatedly in
the bad-bedded hotels of Padua and never once dreamt of Portia,--for
having been more taken by the _salti mortali_[_Salti mortali_ are
those prodigious efforts of mental arithmetic by which Italian
waiters, in verbally presenting your account, arrive at six as the
product of two and two.] of a waiter who summed up my account at a
Paduan restaurant, than by all the strategies with which the city has
been many times captured and recaptured. Had I viewed Padua only over
the wall of Doctor Rappaccini's garden, how different my impressions
of the city would now be! This is one of the drawbacks of actual
knowledge. "Ah! how can you write about Spain when once you have been
there?" asked Heine of Théophile Gautier setting out on a journey

Nevertheless it seems to me that I remember something about Padua with
a sort of romantic pleasure. There was a certain charm which I can
dimly recall, in sauntering along the top of the old wall of the
city, and looking down upon the plumy crests of the Indian corn that
flourished up so mightily from the dry bed of the moat. At such times
I could not help figuring to myself the many sieges that the wall had
known, with the fierce assault by day, the secret attack by night, the
swarming foe upon the plains below, the bristling arms of the besieged
upon the wall, the boom of the great mortars made of ropes and leather
and throwing mighty balls of stone, the stormy flight of arrows, the
ladders planted against the defenses and staggering headlong into the
moat, enriched for future agriculture not only by its sluggish waters,
but by the blood of many men. I suppose that most of these visions
were old stage spectacles furbished up anew, and that my armies
were chiefly equipped with their obsolete implements of warfare from
museums of armor and from cabinets of antiquities; but they were very
vivid for all that.

I was never able, in passing a certain one of the city gates, to
divest myself of an historic interest in the great loads of hay
waiting admission on the outside. For an instant they masked again the
Venetian troops that, in the War of the League of Cambray, entered the
city in the hay-carts, shot down the landsknechts at the gates, and,
uniting with the citizens, cut the German garrison to pieces. But it
was a thing long past. The German garrison was here again; and the
heirs of the landsknechts went clanking through the gate to the
parade-ground, with that fierce clamor of their kettle-drums which is
so much fiercer because unmingled with the noise of fifes. Once more
now the Germans are gone, and, let us trust, forever; but when I
saw them, there seemed little hope of their going. They had a great
Biergarten on the top of the wall, and they had set up the altars of
their heavy Bacchus in many parts of the city.

I please myself with thinking that, if I walked on such a spring
day as this in the arcaded Paduan streets, I should catch glimpses,
through the gate-ways of the palaces, of gardens full of vivid bloom,
and of fountains that tinkle there forever. If it were autumn, and
I were in the great market-place before the Palazzo della Ragione, I
should hear the baskets of amber-hued and honeyed grapes humming with
the murmur of multitudinous bees, and making a music as if the wine
itself were already singing in their gentle hearts. It is a great
field of succulent verdure, that wide old market-place; and fancy
loves to browse about among its gay stores of fruits and vegetables,
brought thither by the world-old peasant-women who have been bringing
fruits and vegetables to the Paduan market for so many centuries. They
sit upon the ground before their great panniers, and knit and doze,
and wake up with a drowsy "_Comandala_?" as you linger to look
at their grapes. They have each a pair of scales,--the emblem of
Injustice,--and will weigh you out a scant measure of the fruit if you
like. Their faces are yellow as parchment, and Time has written them
so full of wrinkles that there is not room for another line. Doubtless
these old parchment visages are palimpsests, and would tell the whole
history of Padua if you could get at each successive inscription.
Among their primal records there must be some account of the Roman
city, as each little contadinella remembered it on market-days; and
one might read of the terror of Attila's sack, a little later, with
the peasant-maid's personal recollections of the bold Hunnish trooper
who ate up the grapes in her basket, and kissed her hard, round red
cheeks,--for in that time she was a blooming girl,--and paid nothing
for either privilege. What wild and confused reminiscences on the
wrinkled visage we should find thereafter of the fierce republican
times, of Ecelino, of the Carraras, of the Venetian rule! And is it
not sad to think of systems and peoples all passing away, and these
ancient women lasting still, and still selling grapes in front of the
Palazzo della Ragione? What a long mortality!

The youngest of their number is a thousand years older than the
palace, which was begun in the twelfth century, and which is much the
same now as it was when first completed. I know that, if I entered it,
I should be sure of finding the great hall of the palace--the vastest
hall in the world--dim and dull and dusty and delightful, with nothing
in it except at one end Donatello's colossal marble-headed wooden
horse of Troy, stared at from the other end by the two dog-faced
Egyptian women in basalt placed there by Belzoni.

Late in the drowsy summer afternoons I should have the Court of the
University all to myself, and might study unmolested the blazons of
the noble youth who have attended the school in different centuries
ever since 1200, and have left their escutcheons on the walls to
commemorate them. At the foot of the stairway ascending to the schools
from the court is the statue of the learned lady who was once a
professor in the University, and who, if her likeness belie not her
looks, must have given a great charm to student life in other times.
At present there are no lady professors at Padua any more than at
Harvard; and during late years the schools have suffered greatly from
the interference of the Austrian government, which frequently closed
them for months, on account of political demonstrations among the
students. But now there is an end of this and many other stupid
oppressions; and the time-honored University will doubtless regain
its ancient importance. Even in 1864 it had nearly fifteen hundred
students, and one met them everywhere under the arcades, and could
not well mistake them, with that blended air of pirate and dandy which
these studious young men loved to assume. They were to be seen a good
deal on the promenades outside the walls, where the Paduan ladies are
driven in their carriages in the afternoon, and where one sees the
blood-horses and fine equipages for which Padua is famous. There used
once to be races in the Prato della Valle, after the Italian notion of
horse-races; but these are now discontinued, and there is nothing to
be found there but the statues of scholars and soldiers and statesmen,
posted in a circle around the old race-course. If you strolled thither
about dusk on such a day as this, you might see the statues unbend a
little from their stony rigidity, and in the failing light nod to each
other very pleasantly through the trees. And if you stayed in Padua
over night, what could be better to-morrow morning than a stroll
through the great Botanical Garden,--the oldest botanical garden in
the world,--the garden which first received in Europe the strange
and splendid growths of our hemisphere,--the garden where Doctor
Rappaccini doubtless found the germ of his mortal plant?

On the whole, I believe I would rather go this moment to Padua than to
Lowell or Lawrence, or even to Worcester; and as to the disadvantage
of having seen Padua, I begin to think the whole place has now assumed
so fantastic a character in my mind that I am almost as well qualified
to write of it as if I had merely dreamed it.

The day that we first visited the city was very rainy, and we spent
most of the time in viewing the churches. These, even after the
churches of Venice, one finds rich in art and historic interest, and
they in no instance fall into the maniacal excesses of the Renaissance
to which some of the temples of the latter city abandon themselves.
Their architecture forms a sort of border-land between the Byzantine
of Venice and the Lombardic of Verona. The superb domes of St.
Anthony's emulate those of St. Mark's; and the porticos of other
Paduan churches rest upon the backs of bird-headed lions and leopards
that fascinate with their mystery and beauty.

It was the wish to see the attributive Giottos in the Chapter which
drew us first to St. Anthony's, and we saw them with the satisfaction
naturally attending the contemplation of frescos discovered only since
1858, after having been hidden under plaster and whitewash for many
centuries; but we could not believe that Giotto's fame was destined
to gain much by their rescue from oblivion. They are in nowise to
be compared with this master's frescos in the Chapel of the
Annunziata,--which, indeed, is in every way a place of wonder and
delight. You reach it by passing through a garden lane bordered with
roses, and a taciturn gardener comes out with clinking keys, and lets
you into the chapel, where there is nobody but Giotto and Dante, nor
seems to have been for ages. Cool it is, and of a pulverous smell, as
a sacred place should be; a blessed benching goes round the walls, and
you sit down and take unlimited comfort in the frescos. The gardener
leaves you alone to the solitude and the silence, in which the talk
of the painter and the exile is plain enough. Their contemporaries and
yours are cordial in their gay companionship: through the half-open
door falls, in a pause of the rain, the same sunshine that they saw
lie there; the deathless birds that they heard sing out in the garden
trees; it is the fresh sweetness of the grass mown so many hundred
years ago that breathes through all the lovely garden grounds.

But in the midst of this pleasant communion with the past, you have
a lurking pain; for you have hired your brougham by the hour; and you
presently quit the Chapel of Giotto on this account.

We had chosen our driver from among many other drivers of broughams in
the vicinity of Pedrocchi's, because he had such an honest look, and
was not likely, we thought, to deal unfairly with us.

"But first," said the signor who had selected him, "how much is your
brougham an hour?"

So and so.

"Show me the tariff of fares."

"There is no tariff."

"There is. Show it to me."

"It is lost, signor."

"I think not. It is here in this pocket. Get it out."

The tariff appears, and with it the fact that he had demanded just
what the boatman of the ballad received in gift,--thrice his fee.

The driver mounted his seat, and served us so faithfully that day in
Padua that we took him the next day for Arquà. At the end, when he
had received his due, and a handsome _mancia_ besides, he was still
unsatisfied, and referred to the tariff in proof that he had been
under-paid. On that confronted and defeated, he thanked us very
cordially, gave us the number of his brougham, and begged us to ask
for him when we came next to Padua and needed a carriage.

From the Chapel of the Annunziata he drove us to the Church of Santa
Giustina, where is a very famous and noble picture by Romanino. But as
this writing has nothing in the world to do with art, I here dismiss
that subject, and with a gross and idle delight follow the sacristan
down under the church to the prison of Santa Giustina.

Of all the faculties of the mind there is none so little fatiguing to
exercise as mere wonder; and, for my own sake, I try always to wonder
at things without the least critical reservation. I therefore, in the
sense of deglutition, bolted this prison at once, though subsequent
experiences led me to look with grave indigestion upon the whole idea
of prisons, their authenticity, and even their existence.

As far as mere dimensions are concerned, the prison of Santa Giustina
was not a hard one to swallow, being only three feet wide by about
ten feet in length. In this limited space, Santa Giustina passed five
years of the paternal reign of Nero (a virtuous and a long-suffering
prince, whom, singularly enough, no historic artist has yet arisen to
whitewash), and was then brought out into the larger cell adjoining,
to suffer a blessed martyrdom. I am not sure now whether the sacristan
said she was dashed to death on the stones, or cut to pieces with
knives; but whatever the form of martyrdom, an iron ring in the
ceiling was employed in it, as I know from seeing the ring,--a
curiously well-preserved piece of iron-mongery. Within the narrow
prison of the saint, and just under the grating, through which the
sacristan thrust his candle to illuminate it, was a mountain of
candle-drippings,--a monument to the fact that faith still largely
exists in this doubting world. My own credulity, not only with regard
to this prison, but also touching the coffin of St. Luke, which I saw
in the church, had so wrought upon the esteem of the sacristan, that
he now took me to a well, into which, he said, had been cast the bones
of three thousand Christian martyrs. He lowered a lantern into the
well, and assured me that, if I looked through a certain screenwork
there, I could see the bones. On experiment I could not see the
bones, but this circumstance did not cause me to doubt their presence,
particularly as I did see upon the screen a great number of coins
offered for the repose of the martyrs' souls. I threw down some
_soldi_, and thus enthralled the sacristan.

If the signor cared to see prisons, he said, the driver must take him
to those of Ecelino, at present the property of a private gentleman
near by. As I had just bought a history of Ecelino, at a great
bargain, from a second-hand book-stall, and had a lively interest in
all the enormities of that nobleman, I sped the driver instantly to
the villa of the Signor P----.

It depends here altogether upon the freshness or mustiness of the
reader's historical reading whether he cares to be reminded more
particularly who Ecelino was. He flourished balefully in the early
half of the thirteenth century as lord of Vicenza, Verona, Padua, and
Brescia, and was defeated and hurt to death in an attempt to possess
himself of Milan. He was in every respect a remarkable man for
that time,--fearless, abstemious, continent, avaricious, hardy,
and unspeakably ambitious and cruel. He survived and suppressed
innumerable conspiracies, escaping even the thrust of the assassin
whom the fame of his enormous wickedness had caused the Old Man of the
Mountain to send against him. As lord of Padua he was more incredibly
severe and bloody in his rule than as lord of the other cities, for
the Paduans had been latest free, and conspired the most frequently
against him. He extirpated whole families on suspicion that a single
member had been concerned in a meditated revolt. Little children and
helpless women suffered hideous mutilation and shame at his hands.
Six prisons in Padua were constantly filled by his arrests. The whole
country was traversed by witnesses of his cruelties,--men and women
deprived of an arm or leg, and begging from door to door. He had long
been excommunicated; at last the Church proclaimed a crusade against
him, and his lieutenant and nephew--more demoniacal, if possible,
than himself--was driven out of Padua while he was operating against
Mantua. Ecelino retired to Verona, and maintained a struggle against
the crusade for nearly two years longer, with a courage which never
failed him. Wounded and taken prisoner, the soldiers of the victorious
army gathered about him, and heaped insult and reproach upon him;
and one furious peasant, whose brother's feet had been cut off by
Ecelino's command, dealt the helpless monster four blows upon the head
with a scythe. By some, Ecelino is said to have died of these wounds
alone; but by others it is related that his death was a kind of
suicide, inasmuch as he himself put the case past surgery by tearing
off the bandages from his hurts, and refusing all medicines.


Entering at the enchanted portal of the Villa P----, we found
ourselves in a realm of wonder. It was our misfortune not to see the
magician who compelled all the marvels on which we looked, but
for that very reason, perhaps, we have the clearest sense of his
greatness. Everywhere we beheld the evidences of his ingenious but
lugubrious fancy, which everywhere tended to a monumental and mortuary
effect. A sort of vestibule first received us, and beyond this dripped
and glimmered the garden. The walls of the vestibule were covered with
inscriptions setting forth the sentiments of the philosophy and piety
of all ages concerning life and death; we began with Confucius, and
we ended with Benjamino Franklino. But as if these ideas of mortality
were not sufficiently depressing, the funereal Signor P---- had
collected into earthen _amphoræ_ the ashes of the most famous men of
ancient and modern times, and arranged them so that a sense of their
number and variety should at once strike his visitor. Each jar was
conspicuously labeled with the name its illustrious dust had borne
in life; and if one escaped with comparative cheerfulness from the
thought that Seneca had died, there were in the very next pot the
cinders of Napoleon to bully him back to a sense of his mortality.

We were glad to have the gloomy fascination of these objects broken by
the custodian, who approached to ask if we wished to see the prisons
of Ecelino, and we willingly followed him into the rain out of our
sepulchral shelter.

Between the vestibule and the towers of the tyrant lay that garden
already mentioned, and our guide led us through ranks of weeping
statuary, and rainy bowers, and showery lanes of shrubbery, until we
reached the door of his cottage. While he entered to fetch the key
to the prisons, we noted that the towers were freshly painted and
in perfect repair; and indeed the custodian said frankly enough, on
reappearing, that they were merely built over the prisons on the site
of the original towers. The storied stream of the Bacchiglione sweeps
through the grounds, and now, swollen by the rainfall, it roared, a
yellow torrent, under a corner of the prisons. The towers rise from
masses of foliage, and form no unpleasing feature of what must be, in
spite of Signor P----, a delightful Italian garden in sunny weather.
The ground is not so flat as elsewhere in Padua, and this inequality
gives an additional picturesqueness to the place. But as we were
come in search of horrors, we scorned these merely lovely things, and
hastened to immure ourselves in the dungeons below. The custodian,
lighting a candle, (which ought, we felt, to have been a torch,) went

We found the cells, though narrow and dark, not uncomfortable, and the
guide conceded that they had undergone some repairs since Ecelino's
time. But all the horrors for which we had come were there in perfect
grisliness, and labeled by the ingenious Signor P---- with Latin

In the first cell was a shrine of the Virgin, set in the wall. Beneath
this, while the wretched prisoner knelt in prayer, a trap-door opened
and precipitated him upon the points of knives, from which his body
fell into the Bacchiglione below. In the next cell, held by some rusty
iron rings to the wall, was a skeleton, hanging by the wrists.

"This," said the guide, "was another punishment of which Ecelino was
very fond."

A dreadful doubt seized my mind. "Was this skeleton found here?" I

Without faltering an instant, without so much as winking an eye, the
custodian replied, "_Appunto_."

It was a great relief, and restored me to confidence in the
establishment. I am at a loss to explain how my faith should have been
confirmed afterwards by coming upon a guillotine--an awful instrument
in the likeness of a straw-cutter, with a decapitated wooden figure
under its blade--which the custodian confessed to be a modern
improvement placed there by Signor P----. Yet my credulity was so
strengthened by his candor, that I accepted without hesitation the
torture of the water-drop when we came to it. The water-jar was as
well preserved as if placed there but yesterday, and the skeleton
beneath it--found as we saw it--was entire and perfect.

In the adjoining cell sat a skeleton--found as we saw it--with its
neck in the clutch of the garrote, which was one of Ecelino's more
merciful punishments; while in still another cell the ferocity of
the tyrant appeared in the penalty inflicted upon the wretch whose
skeleton had been hanging for ages--as we saw it--head downwards from
the ceiling.

Beyond these, in a yet darker and drearier dungeon, stood a heavy
oblong wooden box, with two apertures near the top, peering through
which we found that we were looking into the eyeless sockets of a
skull. Within this box Ecelino had immured the victim we beheld there,
and left him to perish in view of the platters of food and goblets of
drink placed just beyond the reach of his hands. The food we saw was
of course not the original food.

At last we came to the crowning horror of Villa P----, the supreme
excess of Ecelino's cruelty. The guide entered the cell before us,
and, as we gained the threshold, threw the light of his taper vividly
upon a block that stood in the middle of the floor. Fixed to the
block by an immense spike driven through from the back was the little
slender hand of a woman, which lay there just as it had been struck
from the living arm, and which, after the lapse of so many centuries,
was still as perfectly preserved as if it had been embalmed. The sight
had a most cruel fascination; and while one of the horror-seekers
stood helplessly conjuring to his vision that scene of unknown
dread,--the shrinking, shrieking woman dragged to the block, the wild,
shrill, horrible screech following the blow that drove in the spike,
the merciful swoon after the mutilation,--his companion, with a sudden
pallor, demanded to be taken instantly away.

In their swift withdrawal, they only glanced at a few detached
instruments of torture,--all original Ecelinos, but intended for the
infliction of minor and comparatively unimportant torments,--and then
they passed from that place of fear.


In the evening we sat talking at the Caffè Pedrocchi with an abbate,
an acquaintance of ours, who was a Professor in the University of
Padua. Pedrocchi's is the great caffè of Padua, a granite edifice
of Egyptian architecture, which is the mausoleum of the proprietor's
fortune. The pecuniary skeleton at the feast, however, does not much
trouble the guests. They begin early in the evening to gather into the
elegant saloons of the caffè,--somewhat too large for so small a city
as Padua,--and they sit there late in the night over their cheerful
cups and their ices, with their newspapers and their talk. Not so many
ladies are to be seen as at the caffè in Venice, for it is only in the
greater cities that they go much to these public places. There are few
students at Pedrocchi's, for they frequent the cheaper caffè; but you
may nearly always find there some Professor of the University, and
on the evening of which I speak there were two present besides our
abbate. Our friend's great passion was the English language, which
he understood too well to venture to speak a great deal. He had been
translating from that tongue into Italian certain American poems, and
our talk was of these at first. Then we began to talk of distinguished
American writers, of whom intelligent Italians always know at least
four, in this succession,--Cooper, Mrs. Stowe, Longfellow, and Irving.
Mrs. Stowe's _Capanna di Zio Tom_ is, of course universally read; and
my friend had also read _Il Fiore di Maggio_,--"The May-flower."
Of Longfellow, the "Evangeline" is familiar to Italians, through a
translation of the poem; but our abbate knew all the poet's works,
and one of the other professors present that evening had made such
faithful study of them as to have produced some translations rendering
the original with remarkable fidelity and spirit. I have before
me here his _brochure_, printed last year at Padua, and containing
versions of "Enceladus," "Excelsior," "A Psalm of Life," "The
Old Clock on the Stairs," "Sand of the Desert in an Hour-Glass,"
"Twilight," "Daybreak," "The Quadroon Girl," and "Torquemada,"--pieces
which give the Italians a fair notion of our poet's lyrical range, and
which bear witness to Professor Messadaglia's sympathetic and
familiar knowledge of his works. A young and gifted lady of Parma,
now unhappily no more, lately published a translation of "The Golden
Legend;" and Professor Messadaglia, in his Preface, mentions a version
of another of our poet's longer works on which the translator of the
"Evangeline" is now engaged.

At last, turning from literature, we spoke with the gentle abbate of
our day's adventures, and eagerly related that of the Ecelino prisons.
To have seen them was the most terrific pleasure of our lives.

"Eh!" said our friend, "I believe you."

"We mean those under the Villa P----."


There was a tone of politely suppressed amusement in the abbate's
voice; and after a moment's pause, in which we felt our awful
experience slipping and sliding away from us, we ventured to say, "You
don't mean that those are _not_ the veritable Ecelino prisons?"

"Certainly they are nothing of the kind. The Ecelino prisons were
destroyed when the Crusaders took Padua, with the exception of the
tower, which the Venetian Republic converted into an observatory."

"But at least these prisons are on the site of Ecelino's castle?"

"Nothing of the sort. His castle in that case would have been outside
of the old city walls."

"And those tortures and the prisons are all"--

"Things got up for show. No doubt, Ecelino used such things, and many
worse, of which even the ingenuity of Signor P---- cannot conceive.
But he is an eccentric man, loving the horrors of history, and what he
can do to realize them he has done in his prisons."

"But the custodian--how could he lie so?"

Our friend shrugged his shoulders. "Eh! easily. And perhaps he even
believed what he said."

The world began to assume an aspect of bewildering ungenuineness,
and there seemed to be a treacherous quality of fiction in the ground
under our feet. Even the play at the pretty little Teatro Sociale
where we went to pass the rest of the evening appeared hollow and
improbable. We thought the hero something of a bore, with his patience
and goodness; and as for the heroine, pursued by the attentions of the
rich profligate, we doubted if she were any better than she should be.



We said, during summer days at Venice, when every _campo_ was a
furnace seven times heated, and every canal was filled with boiling
bathers, "As soon as it rains we will go to Arquà." Remembering the
ardors of an April sun on the long, level roads of plain, we could not
think of them in August without a sense of dust clogging every pore,
and eyes that shrank from the vision of their blinding whiteness. So
we stayed in Venice, waiting for rain, until the summer had almost
lapsed into autumn; and as the weather cooled before any rain reached
us, we took the moisture on the main-land for granted, and set out
under a cloudy and windy sky.

We had to go to Padua by railway, and take carriage thence to Arquà
upon the road to Ferrara. I believe no rule of human experience was
violated when it began to rain directly after we reached Padua,
and continued to rain violently the whole day. We gave up this day
entirely to the rain, and did not leave Padua until the following
morning when we count that our pilgrimage to Petrarch's house actually

The rain had cooled and freshened the air, but it was already too
late in the season for the summer to recover herself with the elastic
brilliancy that follows the rain of July or early August; and there
was I know not what vague sentiment of autumn in the weather. There
was not yet enough of it to stir the

  "Tears from the depth of some divine despair;"

but in here and there a faded leaf (for in Europe death is not
glorified to the foliage as in our own land), in the purple of the
ripening grapes, and in the tawny grass of the pastures, there was
autumn enough to touch our spirits, and while it hardly affected the
tone of the landscape, to lay upon us the gentle and pensive spell of
its presence. Of all the days in the year I would have chosen this to
go pilgrim to the house of Petrarch.

The Euganean Hills, on one of which the poet's house is built, are
those mellow heights which you see when you look southwest across the
lagoon at Venice. In misty weather they are blue, and in clear weather
silver, and the October sunset loves them. They rise in tender azure
before you as you issue from the southern gate of Padua, and grow in
loveliness as you draw nearer to them from the rich plain that washes
their feet with endless harvests of oil and wine.

Oh beauty that will not let itself be told! Could I not take warning
from another, and refrain from this fruitless effort of description? A
friend in Padua had lent me Disraeli's "Venetia," because a passage
of the story occurs in Petrarch's house at Arquà, and we carried the
volumes with us on our pilgrimage. I would here quote the description
of the village, the house, and the hills from this work, as
faultlessly true, and as affording no just idea of either; but nothing
of it has remained in my mind except the geological fact that the
hills are a volcanic range. To tell the truth, the landscape, as we
rode along, continually took my mind off the book, and I could
not give that attention either to the elegant language of its
descriptions, or the adventures of its well-born characters, which
they deserved. I was even more interested in the disreputable-looking
person who mounted the box beside our driver directly we got out of
the city gate, and who invariably commits this infringement upon your
rights in Italy, no matter how strictly and cunningly you frame your
contract that no one else is to occupy any part of the carriage but
yourself. He does not seem to be the acquaintance of the driver, for
they never exchange a word, and he does not seem to pay any thing for
the ride. He got down, in this instance, just before we reached the
little town at which our driver stopped, and asked us if we wished
to drink a glass of the wine of the country. We did not, but his own
thirst seemed to answer equally well, and he slaked it cheerfully at
our cost.

The fields did not present the busy appearance which had delighted
us on the same road in the spring, but they had that autumnal charm
already mentioned. Many of the vine-leaves were sear; the red grapes
were already purple, and the white grapes pearly ripe, and they formed
a gorgeous necklace for the trees, around which they clung in opulent
festoons. Then, dearer to our American hearts than this southern
splendor, were the russet fields of Indian corn, and, scattered among
the shrunken stalks, great nuggets of the "harmless gold" of pumpkins.

At Battaglia (the village just beyond which you turn off to go to
Arquà) there was a fair, on the blessed occasion of some saint's day,
and there were many booths full of fruits, agricultural implements,
toys, clothes, wooden ware, and the like. There was a great crowd
and a noise, but, according to the mysterious Italian custom, nobody
seemed to be buying or selling. I am in the belief that a small
purchase of grapes we made here on our return was the great
transaction of the day, unless, indeed, the neat operation in alms
achieved at our expense by a mendicant villager may be classed

When we turned off from the Rovigo road at Battaglia we were only
three miles from Arquà.


Now, all the way from this turning to the foot of the hill on which
the village was stretched asleep in the tender sunshine, there was on
either side of the road a stream of living water. There was no other
barrier than this between the road and the fields (unless the vines
swinging from tree to tree formed a barrier), and, as if in graceful
excuse for the interposition of even these slender streams, Nature
had lavished such growth of wild flowers and wild berries on the banks
that it was like a garden avenue, through the fragrance and beauty of
which we rolled, delighted to silence, almost to sadness.

When we began to climb the hill to Arquà, and the driver stopped to
breathe his horse, I got out and finished the easy ascent on foot. The
great marvel to me is that the prospect of the vast plain below, on
which, turning back, I feasted my vision, should be there yet, and
always. It had the rare and saddening beauty of evanescence, and awoke
in me the memory of all beautiful scenery, so that I embroidered the
landscape with the silver threads of western streams, and bordered it
with Ohio hills. Ohio hills? When I looked again it was the storied
Euganean group. But what trans-oceanic bird, voyaging hither, dropped
from its mouth the blackberry which took root and grew and blossomed
and ripened, that I might taste Home in it on these classic hills?

I wonder did Petrarch walk often down this road from his house just
above? I figured him coming to meet me with his book in his hand, in
his reverend poetic robes, and with his laurel on, over that curious
kind of bandaging which he seems to have been fond of--looking, in a
word, for all the world like the neuralgic Petrarch in the pictures.

Drawing nearer, I discerned the apparition to be a robeless, laureless
lout, who belonged at the village inn. Yet this lout, though not
Petrarch, had merits. His face and hands, and his legs, as seen from
his knees down, had the tone of the richest bronze; he wore a mountain
cap with a long tasseled fall to the back of it; his face was comely
and his eye beautiful; and he was so nobly ignorant of every thing
that a colt or young bullock could not have been better company. He
merely offered to guide us to Petrarch's house, and was silent, except
when spoken to, from that instant.

I am here tempted to say: Arquà is in the figure of a man stretched
upon the hill slope. The head, which is Petrarch's house, rests upon
the summit. The carelessly tossed arms lie abroad from this in one
direction, and the legs in the opposite quarter. It is a very lank
and shambling figure, without elegance or much proportion, and the
attitude is the last wantonness of loafing. We followed our lout
up the right leg, which is a gentle and easy ascent in the general
likeness of a street. World-old stone cottages crouch on either side;
here and there is a more ambitious house in decay; trees wave over
the street, and down its distance comes an occasional donkey-cart very
musically and leisurely. By all odds, Arquà and its kind of villages
are to be preferred to those hamlets of the plain which in Italy cling
to the white-hot highway without a tree to shelter them, and bake and
burn there in the merciless sun. Their houses of stuccoed stone are
crowded as thickly together as city houses, and these wretched little
villages do their worst to unite the discomforts of town and country
with a success dreadful to think of. In all countries villages are
hateful to the heart of civilized man. In the Lombard plains I wonder
that one stone of them rests upon another.

We reached Petrarch's house before the custodian had arrived to admit
us, and stood before the high stone wall which shuts in the front of
the house, and quite hides it from those without. This wall bears
the inscription, _Casa Petrarca_, and a marble tablet lettered to the
following effect:--

         SE TI AGITA
         E DI LAURA.

Which may be translated: "If thou art stirred by love of country,
bow to these walls, whence passed the great soul, the singer of the
Scipios and of Laura."

Meanwhile we became the centre of a group of the youths of Arquà, who
had kindly attended our progress in gradually increasing numbers from
the moment we had entered the village. They were dear little girls and
boys, and mountain babies, all with sunburnt faces and the gentle and
the winning ways native to this race, which Nature loves better than
us of the North. The blonde pilgrim seemed to please them, and they
evidently took us for _Tedeschi_. You learn to submit to this fate
in Northern Italy, however ungracefully, for it is the one that
constantly befalls you outside of the greatest cities. The people know
about two varieties of foreigners--the Englishman and the German. If,
therefore, you have not _rosbif_ expressed in every lineament of your
countenance; if the soles of your boots are less than an inch thick,
and your clothes are not reduced in color to the invariable and
maddening tone of the English tweed,--you must resign yourself to be
a German. All this is grievous to the soul which loves to spread its
eagle in every land and to be known as American, with star-spangled
conspicuousness all over the world: but it cannot be helped. I vainly
tried to explain the geographical, political, and natural difference
between Tedeschi and Americani to the custodian of Petrarch's house.
She listened with amiability, shrugged her shoulders hopelessly, and
said, in her rude Venetian, "_Mi no so miga_" (I don't know at all).

Before she came, I had a mind to prove the celebrity of a poet on the
spot where he lived and died,--on his very hearthstone, as it were.
So I asked the lout, who stood gnawing a stick and shifting his weight
from one foot to the other,--

"When did Petrarch live here?"

"Ah! I don't remember him."

"Who was he?"

"A poet, signor."

Certainly the first response was not encouraging, but the last
revealed that even to the heavy and clouded soul of this lout the
divine fame of the poet had penetrated--and he a lout in the village
where Petrarch lived and ought to be first forgotten. He did not
know when Petrarch had lived there,--a year ago, perhaps, or many
centuries,--but he knew that Petrarch was a poet. A weight of
doubt was lifted from my spirit, and I responded cheerfully to
some observations on the weather offered by a rustic matron who was
pitching manure on the little hill-slope near the house. When, at
last, the custodian came and opened the gate to us, we entered a
little grassy yard from which a flight of steps led to Petrarch's
door. A few flowers grew wild among the grass, and a fig-tree leaned
its boughs against the wall. The figs on it were green, though they
hung ripe and blackening on every other tree in Arquà. Some ivy clung
to the stones, and from this and the fig-tree, as we came away, we
plucked memorial leaves, and blended them with flowers which the youth
of Arquà picked and forced upon us for remembrance.

A quaint old door opened into the little stone house, and admitted us
to a kind of wide passage-way with rooms on either side; and at the
end opposite to which we entered, another door opened upon a balcony.
From this balcony we looked down on Petrarch's garden, which,
presently speaking, is but a narrow space with more fruit than flowers
in it. Did Petrarch use to sit and meditate in this garden? For me I
should better have liked a chair on the balcony, with the further and
lovelier prospect on every hand of village-roofs, sloping hills all
gray with olives, and the broad, blue Lombard plain, sweeping from
heaven to heaven below.

The walls of the passage-way are frescoed (now very faintly) in
illustration of the loves of Petrarch and Laura, with verses from the
sonnets inscribed to explain the illustrations. In all these Laura
prevails as a lady of a singularly long waist and stiff movements, and
Petrarch, with his face tied up and a lily in his hand, contemplates
the flower in mingled botany and toothache. There is occasionally a
startling literalness in the way the painter has rendered some of
the verses. I remember with peculiar interest the illustration of a
lachrymose passage concerning a river of tears, wherein the weeping
Petrarch, stretched beneath a tree, had already started a small creek
of tears, which was rapidly swelling to a flood with the torrent from
his eyes. I attribute these frescos to a later date than that of the
poet's residence, but the portrait over the door of the bedroom inside
of the chamber, was of his own time, and taken from him--the custodian
said. As it seemed to look like all the Petrarchian portraits, I did
not remark it closely, but rather turned my attention to the walls of
the chamber, which were thickly over-scribbled with names. They were
nearly all Italian, and none English so far as I saw. This passion for
allying one's self to the great, by inscribing one's name on places
hallowed by them, is certainly very odd; and (I reflected as I added
our names to the rest) it is, without doubt, the most impertinent and
idiotic custom in the world. People have thus written themselves down,
to the contempt of sensible futurity, all over Petrarch's house.

The custodian insisted that the bedroom was just as in the poet's
time; some rooms beyond it had been restored; the kitchen at its
side was also repaired. Crossing the passage-way, we now entered the
dining-room, which was comparatively large and lofty, with a mighty
and generous fire-place at one end, occupying the whole space left by
a balcony-window. The floor was paved with tiles, and the window-panes
were round and small, and set in lead--like the floors and
window-panes of all the other rooms. A gaudy fresco, representing some
indelicate female deity, adorned the front of the fire-place, which
sloped expanding from the ceiling and terminated at the mouth without
a mantel-piece. The chimney was deep, and told of the cold winters
in the hills, of which, afterward, the landlady of the village inn
prattled less eloquently.

From this dining-room opens, to the right, the door of the room which
they call Petrarch's library; and above the door, set in a marble
frame, with a glass before it, is all that is mortal of Petrarch's
cat, except the hair. Whether or not the fur was found incompatible
with the process of embalming, and therefore removed, or whether it
has slowly dropped away with the lapse of centuries, I do not know;
but it is certain the cat is now quite hairless, and has the effect
of a wash-leather invention in the likeness of a young lamb. On the
marble slab below there is a Latin inscription, said to be by the
great poet himself, declaring this cat to have been "second only
to Laura." We may, therefore, believe its virtues to have been rare
enough; and cannot well figure to ourselves Petrarch sitting before
that wide-mouthed fire-place, without beholding also the gifted cat
that purrs softly at his feet and nestles on his knees, or, with
thickened tail and lifted back, parades, loftily round his chair in
the haughty and disdainful manner of cats.

In the library, protected against the predatory enthusiasm of visitors
by a heavy wire netting, are the desk and chair of Petrarch, which I
know of no form of words to describe perfectly. The front of the
desk is of a kind of mosaic in cubes of wood, most of which have been
carried away. The chair is wide-armed and carved, but the bottom is
gone, and it has been rudely repaired. The custodian said Petrarch
died in this chair while he sat writing at his desk in the little nook
lighted by a single window opening on the left from his library. He
loved to sit there. As I entered I found he had stepped out for a
moment, but I know he returned directly after I withdrew.

On one wall of the library (which is a simple oblong room, in nowise
remarkable) was a copy of verses in a frame, by Cesarotti, and on the
wall opposite a tribute from Alfieri, both _manu propriâ_. Over and
above these are many other scribblings; and hanging over the door of
the poet's little nook was a criminal French lithograph likeness of
"Pétrarque" when young.

Alfieri's verses are written in ink on the wall, while those of
Cesarotti are on paper, and framed, I do not remember any reference to
his visit to Petrarch's house in Alfieri's autobiography, though the
visit must have taken place in 1783, when he sojourned at Padua, and
"made the acquaintance of the celebrated Cesarotti, with whose lively
and courteous manners he was no less satisfied than he had always been
in reading his (Cesarotti's) most masterly version of 'Ossian.'" It is
probable that the friends visited the house together. At any rate,
I care to believe that while Cesarotti sat "composing" his tribute
comfortably at the table, Alfieri's impetuous soul was lifting his
tall body on tiptoe to scrawl its inspirations on the plastering.

Do you care, gentle reader, to be reminded that just before this visit
Alfieri had heard in Venice of the "peace between England and the
United Colonies," and that he then and there "wrote the fifth ode of
the 'America Libera,'" and thus finished that poem?

After copying these verses we returned to the dining-room, and while
one pilgrim strayed idly through the names in the visitor's book,
the other sketched Petrarch's cat, before mentioned, and Petrarch's
inkstand of bronze--a graceful little thing, having a cover surmounted
by a roguish cupid, while the lower part is supported on three lion's
claws, and just above the feet, at either of the three corners, is an
exquisite little female bust and head. Thus sketching and idling,
we held spell-bound our friends the youth of Arquà, as well as our
driver, who, having brought innumerable people to see the house of
Petrarch, now for the first time, with great astonishment, beheld the
inside of it himself.

As to the authenticity of the house I think there can be no doubt, and
as to the genuineness of the relics there, nothing in the world could
shake my faith in them, though Muratori certainly characterizes them
as "superstitions." The great poet was sixty-five years old when he
came to rest at Arquà, and when, in his own pathetic words, "there
remained to him only to consider and to desire how to make a good
end." He says further, at the close of his autobiography: "In one of
the Euganean hills, near to ten miles from the city of Padua, I have
built me a house, small but pleasant and decent, in the midst of
slopes clothed with vines and olives, abundantly sufficient for a
family not large and discreet. Here I lead my life, and although, as I
have said, infirm of body, yet tranquil of mind, without excitements,
without distractions, without cares, reading always, and writing and
praising God, and thanking God as well for evil as for good; which
evil, if I err not, is trial merely and not punishment. And all the
while I pray to Christ that he make good the end of my life, and
have mercy on me, and forgive me, and even forget my youthful sins;
wherefore, in this solitude, no words are so sweet to my lips as
these of the psalm: '_Delicta juventutis meoe, et ignorantias meas ne
memineris_.' And with every feeling of the heart I pray God, when it
please Him, to bridle my thoughts, so long unstable and erring; and
as they have vainly wandered to many things, to turn them all to
Him--only true, certain, immutable Good."

I venerate the house at Arquà because these sweet and solemn words
were written in it. We left its revered shelter (after taking a final
look from the balcony down upon "the slopes clothed with vines and
olives") and returned to the lower village, where, in the court of the
little church, we saw the tomb of Petrarch--"an ark of red stone, upon
four columns likewise of marble." The epitaph is this:--

  "Frigida Francisci lapis hic tegit ossa Petrarcae;
  Suscipe, Virgo parens, animam; sate Virgine, parce
  Fessaque jam terris Coeli requiescat in arce."

A head of the poet in bronze surmounts the ark. The housekeeper of the
parish priest, who ran out to enjoy my admiration and bounty, told me
a wild local tradition of an attempt on the part of the Florentines
to steal the bones of Petrarch away from Arquà, in proof of which
she showed me a block of marble set into the ark, whence she said a
fragment had been removed by the Florentines. This local tradition I
afterwards found verified, with names and dates, in a little "Life of
Petrarch," by F. Leoni, published at Padua in 1843. It appears that
this curious attempt of the Florentines to do doubtful honor to the
great citizen whose hereditary civic rights they restored too late
(about the time he was drawing nigh his "good end" at Arquà), was made
for them by a certain monk of Portagruaro named Tommaso Martinelli. He
had a general instruction from his employers to bring away from Arquà
"any important thing of Petrarch's" that he could; and it occurred to
this ill-advised friar to "move his bones." He succeeded on a night of
the year 1630 in stealing the dead poet's arm. The theft being at once
discovered, the Venetian Republic rested not till the thief was also
discovered; but what became of the arm or of the sacrilegious monk
neither the Signor Leoni nor the old women of Arquà give any account.
The Republic removed the rest of Petrarch's body, which is now said to
be in the Royal Museum of Madrid.

I was willing to know more of this quaint village of Arquà, and I rang
at the parish priest's door to beg of him some account of the place,
if any were printed. But already at one o'clock he had gone to bed for
a nap, and must on no account be roused till four. It is but a quiet
life men lead in Arquà, and their souls are in drowsy hands. The
amount of sleep which this good man gives himself (if he goes to bed
at 9 P.M. and rises at 9 A.M., with a nap of three hours during the
day) speaks of a quiet conscience, a good digestion, and uneventful
days. As I turned this notion over in my mind, my longing to behold
his reverence increased, that I might read life at Arquà in the smooth
curves of his well-padded countenance. I thought it must be that
his "bowels of compassion were well-rounded," and, making sure of
absolution, I was half-minded, if I got speech with him, to improve
the occasion by confessing one or two of my blackest sins.

Ought I to say here that, on the occasion of a second visit to Arquà,
I succeeded in finding this excellent ecclesiastic wide awake at two
o'clock in the afternoon, and that he granted me an interview at that
hour? Justice to him, I think, demands this admission of me. He was
not at all a fat priest, as I had prefigured him, but rather of a
spare person, and of a brisk and lively manner. At the village inn,
after listening half an hour to a discourse on nothing but white wine
from a young priest, who had stopped to drink a glass of it, I was
put in the way of seeing the priest of Arquà by the former's courtesy.
Happily enough, his reverence chanced to have the very thing I wanted
to see--no other than Leoni's "Life of Petrarch," to which I have
already referred. Courtesy is the blood in an Italian's veins, and I
need not say that the ecclesiastic of Arquà, seeing my interest in
the place, was very polite and obliging. But he continued to sleep
throughout our first stay in Arquà, and I did not see him then.

I strolled up and down the lazy, rambling streets, and chiefly devoted
myself to watching the young women who were washing clothes at the
stream running from the "Fountain of Petrarch." Their arms and legs
were bronzed and bare, and they chattered and laughed gayly at their
work. Their wash-tubs were formed by a long marble conduit from the
fountain; their wash-boards, by the inward-sloping conduit-sides; and
they thrashed and beat the garments clean upon the smooth stone. To
a girl, their waists were broad and their ankles thick. Above their
foreheads the hair was cut short, and their "back hair" was gathered
into a mass, and held together by converging circle of silver pins.

The Piazza della Fontana, in Arquà, is a place some fifty feet in
length and breadth, and seems to be a favorite place of public resort.
In the evening, doubtless, it is alive with gossipers, as now with
workers. It may be that then his reverence, risen from his nap,
saunters by, and pauses long enough to chuck a pretty girl under the
chin or pinch an urchin's cheek.

Our dinner was ready by the time I got back to the inn, and we sat
down to a chicken stewed in oil and a stoup of the white wine of
Arquà. It was a modest feast, but, being a friend to oil, I found it
savory, and the wine was both good and strong. While we lingered
over the repast we speculated somewhat carelessly whether Arquà had
retained among its simplicities the primitive Italian cheapness of
which you read much. When our landlord leaned over the table and made
out our account on it with a bit of chalk, the bill was as follows:--

  Chicken   70
  Bread      8
  Wine      20
  Total     98

It surely was not a costly dinner, yet I could have bought the same
chicken in Venice for half the money; which is but another proof that
the demand of the producer is often much larger than the supply of
the consumer, and that to buy poultry cheaply you must not purchase it
where raised,--

  ..."On misty mountain ground,
  Its own vast shadow glory crowned,"--

but rather in a large city after it has been transported forty miles
or more. Not that we begrudged the thrifty inn-keeper his fee. We paid
it cheerfully, as well for his own sake as for that of his pleasant
and neat little wife, who kept the whole inn so sweet and clean; and
we bade them a most cordial farewell as we drove away from their door.


Returning, we stopped at the great castle of the Obizzi (now the
property of the Duke of Modena), through which we were conducted by a
surly and humorous _custode_, whose pride in life was that castle and
its treasures, so that he resented as a personal affront the slightest
interest in any thing else. He stopped us abruptly in the midst of the
museum, and, regarding the precious antiques and curiosities around
him, demanded:

"Does this castle please you?" Then, with a scornful glance at us,
"Your driver tells me you have been at Arquà? And what did you see at
Arquà? A shabby little house and a cat without any hair on. I would
not," said this disdainful _custode_, "go to Arquà if you gave me a


I had often heard in Venice of that ancient people, settled in the
Alpine hills about the pretty town of Bassano, on the Brenta, whom
common fame declares to be a remnant of the Cimbrian invaders of Rome,
broken up in battle, and dispersed along the borders of North Italy,
by Marius, many centuries ago. So when the soft September weather
came, last year, we sallied out of Venice, in three, to make
conquest of whatever was curious in the life and traditions of these
mountaineers, who dwell in seven villages, and are therefore called
the people of the Sette Communi among their Italian neighbors. We
went fully armed with note-book and sketch-book, and prepared to take
literary possession of our conquest.

From Venice to the city of Vicenza by railroad, it is two hours; and
thence one must take a carriage to Bassano (which is an opulent and
busy little grain mart, of some twelve thousand souls, about thirty
miles north of Venice). We were very glad of the ride across the
country. By the time we reached the town it was nine o'clock, and
moonlight, and as we glanced out of our windows we saw the quaint
up-and-down-hill streets peopled with promenaders, and every body
in Bassano seemed to be making love. Young girls strolled about the
picturesque ways with their lovers, and tender couples were cooing
at the doorways and windows, and the scene had all that surface
of romance with which the Italians contrive to varnish the real
commonplaceness of their life. Our ride through the twilight landscape
had prepared us for the sentiment of Bassano; we had pleased ourselves
with the spectacle of the peasants returning from their labor in the
fields, led in troops of eight or ten by stalwart, white-teethed,
bare-legged maids; and we had reveled in the momentary lordship of
an old walled town we passed, which at dusk seemed more Gothic and
Middle-Age than any thing after Verona, with a fine church, and
turrets and battlements in great plenty. What town it was, or what it
had been doing there so many ages, I have never sought to know, and I
should be sorry to learn any thing about it.

The next morning we began those researches for preliminary information
concerning the Cimbri which turned out so vain. Indeed, as we drew
near the lurking-places of that ancient people, all knowledge relating
to them diffused itself into shadowy conjecture. The barber and the
bookseller differed as to the best means of getting to the Sette
Communi, and the _caffetiere_ at whose place we took breakfast knew
nothing at all of the road, except that it was up the mountains, and
commanded views of scenery which verily, it would not grieve us to
see. As to the Cimbri, he only knew that they had their own language,
which was yet harder than the German. The German was hard enough, but
the Cimbrian! _Corpo_!

At last, hearing of a famous cave there is at Oliero, a town some
miles further up the Brenta, we determined to go there, and it was a
fortunate thought, for there we found a nobleman in charge of the cave
who told us exactly how to reach the Sette Communi. You pass a bridge
to get out of Bassano--a bridge which spans the crystal swiftness of
the Brenta, rushing down to the Adriatic from the feet of the Alps on
the north, and full of voluble mills at Bassano. All along the road to
Oliero was the finest mountain scenery, Brenta-washed, and picturesque
with ever-changing lines. Maize grows in the bottom-lands, and
tobacco, which is guarded in the fields by soldiers for the monopolist
government. Farm-houses dot the valley, and now and then we passed
villages, abounding in blonde girls, so rare elsewhere in Italy, but
here so numerous as to give Titian that type from which he painted.

At Oliero we learned not only which was the road to the Sette Communi,
but that we were in it, and it was settled that we should come the
next day and continue in it, with the custodian of the cave, who
for his breakfast and dinner, and what else we pleased, offered to
accompany us. We were early at Oliero on the following morning, and
found our friend in waiting; he mounted beside our driver, and we rode
up the Brenta to the town of Valstagna where our journey by wheels
ended, and where we were to take mules for the mountain ascent. Our
guide, Count Giovanni Bonato (for I may as well give him his title,
though at this stage of our progress we did not know into what
patrician care we had fallen), had already told us what the charge
for mules would be, but it was necessary to go through the ceremony of
bargain with the muleteer before taking the beasts. Their owner was a
Cimbrian, with a broad sheepish face, and a heavy, awkward accent of
Italian which at once more marked his northern race, and made us feel
comparatively secure from plunder in his hands. He had come down from
the mountain top the night before, bringing three mules laden with
charcoal, and he had waited for us till the morning. His beasts were
furnished with comfortable pads, covered with linen, to ride upon, and
with halters instead of bridles, and we were prayed to let them have
their heads in the ascent, and not to try to guide them.

The elegant leisure of Valstagna (and in an Italian town nearly the
whole population is elegantly at leisure) turned out to witness the
departure of our expedition; the pretty little blonde wife of our
inn-keeper, who was to get dinner ready against our return, held up
her baby to wish us _boun viaggio_, and waved us adieu with the infant
as with a handkerchief; the chickens and children scattered to right
and left before our advance; and with Count Giovanni going splendidly
ahead on foot, and the Cimbrian bringing up the rear, we struck on
the broad rocky valley between the heights, and presently began the
ascent. It was a lovely morning; the sun was on the heads of the
hills, and the shadows clothed them like robes to their feet; and
I should be glad to feel here and now the sweetness, freshness,
and purity of the mountain air, that seemed to bathe our souls in a
childlike delight of life. A noisy brook gurgled through the valley;
the birds sang from the trees; the Alps rose, crest on crest, around
us; and soft before us, among the bald peaks showed the wooded
height where the Cimbrian village of Fozza stood, with a white chapel
gleaming from the heart of the lofty grove. Along the mountain sides
the smoke curled from the lonely huts of shepherds, and now and then
we came upon one of those melancholy refuges which are built in
the hills for such travellers as are belated in their ways, or are
overtaken there by storms.

The road for the most part winds by the brink of precipices,--walled
in with masonry of small stones, where Nature has not shored it up
with vast monoliths,--and is paved with limestone. It is, of course,
merely a mule-path, and it was curious to see, and thrilling to
experience, how the mules, vain of the safety of their foothold, kept
as near the border of the precipices as possible. For my own part, I
abandoned to my beast the entire responsibility involved by this line
of conduct; let the halter hang loose upon his neck, and gave him no
aid except such slight service as was occasionally to be rendered
by shutting my eyes and holding my breath. The mule of the fairer
traveller behind me was not only ambitious of peril like my own, but
was envious of my beast's captaincy, and continually tried to pass him
on the outside of the path, to the great dismay of the gentle rider;
while half-suppressed wails of terror from the second lady in the
train gave evidence of equal vanity and daring in her mule. Count
Giovanni strode stolidly before, the Cimbrian came behind, and we
had little coherent conversation until we stopped under a spreading
haw-tree, half-way up the mountain, to breathe our adventurous beasts.

Here two of us dismounted, and while one of the ladies sketched the
other in her novel attitude of cavalier, I listened to the talk of
Count Giovanni and the Cimbrian. This Cimbrian's name in Italian
was Lazzaretti, and in his own tongue Brück, which, pronouncing less
regularly, we made Brick, in compliment to his qualities of good
fellowship. His broad, honest visage was bordered by a hedge of red
beard, and a light of dry humor shone upon it: he looked, we thought,
like a Cornishman, and the contrast between him and the _viso sciolto,
pensieri stretti_ expression of Count Giovanni was curious enough.

Concerning his people, he knew little; but the Capo-gente of Fozza
could tell me everything. Various traditions of their origin were
believed among them; Brick himself held to one that they had first
come from Denmark. As we sat there under the spreading haw-tree,
Count Giovanni and I made him give us the Cimbrian equivalent of some
Italian phrases, which the curious may care to see in correspondence
with English and German. Of course, German pronunciation must be given
to the words:--

  _English.         Cimbrian.               German._

  I go,            I gehe,                 Ich gehe.
  Thou goest,      Du gehst,               Du gehst.
  He goes,         Ar geht,                Er geht.
  We go,           Hamish gehen,           Wir gehen.
  You go,          Hamish setender gehnt,  Ihr geht.
  They go,         Dandern gehnt,          Sie gehen.
  I went,          I bin gegehnt,          Ich bin gegangen.
  Thou wentest,    Du bist gegehnt,        Du bist gegangen.
  He went,         Der iganget,            Er ist gegangen
  Good day,        Uter tag,               Guten Tag.
  Good night,      Uter nast,              Gute Nacht.
  How do you do?   Bie estater?            Wie steht's?
  How goes it?     Bie gehts?              Wie geht's?
  I,               I,                      Ich.
  Thou,            Du,                     Du.
  He, she,         Di,                     Er, sie.
  We,              Borandern,              Wir.
  You,             Ihrt,                   Ihr.
  They,            Dandern,                Sie.
  The head,        Da kof,                 Der Kopf.
  Breast,          Petten,                 Brust (_Italian_ petto)
  Face,            Denne,                  Gesicht.
  Arm,             Arm,                    Arm.
  Foot,            Vuss,                   Fuss.
  Finger,          Vinger,                 Finger.
  Hand,            Hant,                   Hand.
  Tree,            Pom,                    Baum.
  Hat,             Hoit,                   Hut.
  God,             Got,                    Gott.
  Heaven,          Debelt,                 Himmel.
  Earth,           Erda,                   Erde.
  Mountain,        Perk,                   Berg.
  Valley,          Tal,                    Thal.
  Man,             Mann,                   Mann.
  Woman,           Beip,                   Weib.
  Lady,            Vrau,                   Frau.
  Child,           Hint,                   Kind.
  Brother,         Pruder,                 Bruder.
  Father,          Vada,                   Vater.
  Mother,          Muter,                  Mutter.
  Sister,          Schwester,              Schwester,
  Stone,           Stone,                  Stein.

A general resemblance to German and English will have been observed in
these fragments of Cimbrian, while other words will have been noticed
as quite foreign to either.

There was a poor little house of refreshment beside our spreading haw,
and a withered old woman came out of it and refreshed us with clear
spring water, and our guides and friends with some bitter berries of
the mountain, which they admitted were unpleasant to the taste, but
declared were very good for the blood. When they had sufficiently
improved their blood, we mounted our mules again, and set out with the
journey of an hour and a quarter still between us and Fozza.

As we drew near the summit of the mountain our road grew more level,
and instead of creeping along by the brinks of precipices, we began
to wind through bits of meadow and pleasant valley walled in by lofty
heights of rock.

Though September was bland as June at the foot of the mountain, we
found its breath harsh and cold on these heights; and we remarked that
though there were here and there breadths of wheat, the land was
for the most part in sheep pasturage, and the grass looked poor and
stinted of summer warmth. We met, at times, the shepherds, who seemed
to be of Italian race, and were of the conventional type of shepherds,
with regular faces, and two elaborate curls trained upon their cheeks,
as shepherds are always represented in stone over the gates of villas.
They bore staves, and their flocks went before them. Encountering us,
they saluted us courteously, and when we had returned their greeting,
they cried with one voice,--"Ah, lords! is not this a miserable
country? The people are poor and the air is cold. It is an unhappy
land!" And so passed on, profoundly sad; but we could not help smiling
at the vehement popular desire to have the region abused. We answered
cheerfully that it was a lovely country. If the air was cold, it was
also pure.

We now drew in sight of Fozza, and, at the last moment, just before
parting with Brick, we learned that he had passed a whole year in
Venice, where he had brought milk from the main-land and sold it in
the city. He declared frankly that he counted that year worth all the
other years of his life, and that he would never have come back to his
native heights but that his father had died, and left his mother and
young brothers helpless. He was an honest soul, and I gave him two
florins, which I had tacitly appointed him over and above the bargain,
with something for the small Brick-bats at home, whom he presently
brought to kiss our hands at the house of the Capo-gente.

The village of Fozza is built on a grassy, oblong plain on the crest
of the mountain, which declines from it on three sides, and on the
north rises high above it into the mists in bleaker and ruggeder
acclivities. There are not more than thirty houses in the village, and
I do not think it numbers more than a hundred and fifty souls, if
it numbers so many. Indeed, it is one of the smallest of the Sette
Communi, of which the capital, Asiago, contains some thousands of
people, and lies not far from Vicenza. The poor Fozzatti had a church,
however, in their village, in spite of its littleness, and they had
just completed a fine new bell tower, which the Capo-gente deplored,
and was proud of when I praised it. The church, like all the other
edifices, was built of stone; and the village at a little distance
might look like broken crags of rock, so well it consorted with the
harsh, crude nature about it. Meagre meadowlands, pathetic with tufts
of a certain pale-blue, tearful flower, stretched about the village
and southward as far as to that wooded point which had all day been
our landmark in the ascent.

Our train drew up at the humble door of the Capo-gente (in Fozza all
doors are alike humble), and, leaving our mules, we entered by his
wife's invitation, and seated ourselves near the welcome fire of the
kitchen--welcome, though we knew that all the sunny Lombard plain
below was purple with grapes and black with figs. Again came from
the women here the wail of the shepherds: "Ah, lords! is it not a
miserable land?" and I began to doubt whether the love which I had
heard mountaineers bore to their inclement heights was not altogether
fabulous. They made haste to boil us some eggs, and set them before us
with some unhappy wine, and while we were eating, the Capo-gente came

He was a very well-mannered person, but had, of course, the
bashfulness naturally resulting from lonely life at that altitude,
where contact with the world must be infrequent. His fellow-citizens
seemed to regard him with a kind of affectionate deference, and some
of them came in to hear him talk with the strangers. He stood till we
prayed him to sit down, and he presently consented to take some wine
with us.

After all, however, he could not tell us much of his people which we
had not heard before. A tradition existed among them, he said, that
their ancestors had fled to these Alps from Marius, and that they
had dwelt for a long time in the hollows and caves of the mountains,
living and burying their dead in the same secret places. At what time
they had been converted to Christianity he could not tell; they
had, up to the beginning of the present century, had little or no
intercourse with the Italian population by which they were surrounded
on all sides. Formerly, they did not intermarry with that race, and it
was seldom that any Cimbrian knew its language. But now intermarriage
is very frequent; both Italian and Cimbrian are spoken in nearly all
the families, and the Cimbrian is gradually falling into disuse. They
still, however, have books of religious instruction in their ancient
dialect, and until very lately the services of their church were
performed in Cimbrian.

I begged the Capo to show us some of their books and he brought us
two,--one a catechism for children, entitled "Dar Kloane Catechism
vor z' Beloseland vortraghet in z' gaprecht von siben Komünen, un vier
Halghe Gasang. 1842. Padova." The other book it grieved me to see, for
it proved that I was not the only one tempted in recent times to
visit these ancient people, ambitious to bear to them the relation of
discoverer, as it were. A High-Dutch Columbus, from Vienna, had been
before me, and I could only come in for Amerigo Vespucci's tempered
glory. This German savant had dwelt a week in these lonely places,
patiently compiling a dictionary of their tongue, which, when it was
printed, he had sent to the Capo. I am magnanimous enough to give
the name of his book, that the curious may buy it if they like. It
is called "Johann Andreas Schweller's Cimbrisches Wörterbuch. Joseph
Bergman. Vienna, 1855."

Concerning the present Cimbri, the Capo said that in his community
they were chiefly hunters, wood-cutters, and charcoal-burners, and
that they practiced their primitive crafts in those gloomier and
wilder heights we saw to the northward, and descended to the towns
of the plain to make sale of their fagots, charcoal, and wild-beast
skins. In Asiago and the larger communities they were farmers and
tradesmen like the Italians; and the Capo believed that the Cimbri, in
all their villages, numbered near ten thousand. He could tell me of
no particular customs or usages, and believed they did not differ from
the Italians now except in race and language. [The English traveller
Rose, who (to my further discomfiture, I find) visited Asiago in 1817,
mentions that the Cimbri have the Celtic custom of _waking_ the dead.
"If a traveller dies by the way, they plant a cross upon the spot,
and all who pass by cast a stone upon his cairn. Some go in certain
seasons in the year to high places and woods, where it is supposed
they worshiped their divinities, but the origin of the custom is
forgot amongst themselves." If a man dies by violence, they lay him
out with his hat and shoes on, as if to give him the appearance of a
wayfarer, and "symbolize one surprised in the great journey of life."
A woman dying in childbed is dressed for the grave in her bridal
ornaments. Mr. Rose is very scornful of the notion that these people
are Cimbri, and holds that it is "more consonant to all the evidence
of history to say, that the flux and reflux of Teutonic invaders
at different periods deposited this backwater of barbarians" in the
district they now inhabit. "The whole space, which in addition to
the seven burghs contains twenty-four villages, is bounded by rivers,
alps, and hills. Its most precise limits are the Brenta to the east,
and the Astico to the west."] They are, of course, subject to the
Austrian Government, but not so strictly as the Italians are; and
though they are taxed and made to do military service, they are
otherwise left to regulate their affairs pretty much at their

The Capo ended his discourse with much polite regret that he had
nothing more worthy to tell us; and, as if to make us amends for
having come so far to learn so little, he said there was a hermit
living near, whom we might like to see, and sent his son to conduct us
to the hermitage. It turned out to be the white object which we had
seen gleaming in the wood on the mountain from so great distance
below, and the wood turned out to be a pleasant beechen grove, in
which we found the hermit cutting fagots. He was warmly dressed in
clothes without rent, and wore the clerical knee-breeches. He saluted
us with a cricket-like chirpiness of manner, and was greatly amazed to
hear that we had come all the way from America to visit him. His
hermitage was built upon the side of a white-washed chapel to St.
Francis, and contained three or four little rooms or cupboards, in
which the hermit dwelt and meditated. They opened into the chapel, of
which the hermit had the care, and which he kept neat and clean like
himself. He told us proudly that once a year, on the day of the
titular saint, a priest came and said mass in that chapel, and it was
easy to see that this was the great occasion of the old man's life.
For forty years, he said, he had been devout; and for twenty-five he
had dwelt in this place, where the goodness of God and the charity of
the poor people around had kept him from want. Altogether, he was a
pleasant enough hermit, not in the least spiritual, but gentle,
simple, and evidently sincere. We gave some small coins of silver to
aid him to continue his life of devotion, and Count Giovanni bestowed
some coppers with the stately blessing, "_Iddio vi benedica, padre

So we left the hermitage, left Fozza, and started down the mountain
on foot, for no one may ride down those steeps. Long before we reached
the bottom, we had learned to loathe mountains and to long for dead
levels during the rest of life. Yet the descent was picturesque, and
in some things even more interesting than the ascent had been. We
met more people: now melancholy shepherds with their flocks; now
swine-herds and swine-herdesses with herds of wild black pigs of the
Italian breed; now men driving asses that brayed and woke long, loud,
and most musical echoes in the hills; now whole peasant families
driving cows, horses, and mules to the plains below. On the way
down, fragments of autobiography began, with the opportunities of
conversation, to come from the Count Giovanni, and we learned that he
was a private soldier at home on that _permesso_ which the Austrian
Government frequently gives its less able-bodied men in times of
peace. He had been at home some years, and did not expect to be again
called into the service. He liked much better to be in charge of the
cave at Oliero than to carry the musket, though he confessed that he
liked to see the world, and that soldiering brought one acquainted
with many places. He had not many ideas, and the philosophy of his
life chiefly regarded deportment toward strangers who visited the
cave. He held it an error in most custodians to show discontent when
travellers gave them little; and he said that if he received never
so much, he believed it wise not to betray exultation. "Always be
contented, and nothing more," said Count Giovanni.

"It is what you people always promise beforehand," I said, "when you
bargain with strangers, to do them a certain service for what they
please; but afterward they must pay what you please or have trouble. I
know you will not be content with what I give you."

"If I am not content," cried Count Giovanni, "call me the greatest ass
in the world!"

And I am bound to say that, for all I could see through the mask of
his face, he was satisfied with what I gave him, though it was not

He had told us casually that he was nephew of a nobleman of a certain
rich and ancient family in Venice, who sent him money while in the
army, but this made no great impression on me; and though I knew there
was enough noble poverty in Italy to have given rise to the proverb,
_Un conte che non conta, non conta niente_, yet I confess that it was
with a shock of surprise I heard our guide and servant saluted by
a lounger in Valstagna with "_Sior conte, servitor suo_!" I looked
narrowly at him, but there was no ray of feeling or pride visible in
his pale, languid visage as he responded, "_Buona sera, caro_."

Still, after that revelation we simple plebeians, who had been all day
heaping shawls and guide-books upon Count Giovanni, demanding menial
offices from him, and treating him with good-natured slight, felt
uncomfortable in his presence, and welcomed the appearance of our
carriage with our driver, who, having started drunk from Bassano in
the morning, had kept drunk all day at Valstagna, and who now drove us
back wildly over the road, and almost made us sigh for the security of
mules ambitious of the brinks of precipices.




I am afraid that the talk of the modern railway traveller, if he is
honest, must be a great deal of the custodians, the vetturini, and the
facchini, whose agreeable acquaintance constitutes his chief knowledge
of the population among which he journeys. We do not nowadays carry
letters recommending us to citizens of the different places. If we
did, consider the calamity we should be to the be-travelled Italian
communities we now bless! No, we buy our through-tickets, and we put
up at the hotels praised in the hand-book, and are very glad of a
little conversation with any native, however adulterated he be by
contact with the world to which we belong. I do not blush to own that
I love the whole rascal race which ministers to our curiosity and
preys upon us, and I am not ashamed to have spoken so often in this
book of the lowly and rapacious but interesting porters who opened to
me the different gates of that great realm of wonders, Italy. I doubt
if they can be much known to the dwellers in the land, though they
are the intimates of all sojourners and passengers; and if I have any
regret in the matter, it is that I did not more diligently study them
when I could. The opportunity once lost, seldom recurs; they are all
but as transitory as the Object of Interest itself, I remember
that years ago when I first visited Cambridge, there was an old man
appeared to me in the character of Genius of the College Grounds, who
showed me all the notable things in our city,--its treasures of art,
its monuments,--and ended by taking me into his wood-house, and sawing
me off from a wind-fallen branch of the Washington Elm a bit of the
sacred wood for a remembrancer. Where now is that old man? He
no longer exists for me, neither he nor his wood-house nor his
dwelling-house. Let me look for a month about the College Grounds, and
I shall not see him. But somewhere in the regions of traveller's faëry
he still lives, and he appears instantly to the new-comer; he has an
understanding with the dryads, who keep him supplied with boughs from
the Washington Elm, and his wood-house is full of them.

Among memorable custodians in Italy was one whom we saw at Pisa, where
we stopped on our way from Leghorn after our accident in the Maremma,
and spent an hour in viewing the Quattro Fabbriche. The beautiful old
town, which every one knows from the report of travellers, one yet
finds possessed of the incommunicable charm which keeps it forever
novel to the visitor. Lying upon either side of the broad Arno, it
mirrors in the flood architecture almost as fair and noble as that
glassed in the Canalazzo, and its other streets seemed as tranquil
as the canals of Venice. Those over which we drove, on the day of
our visit, were paved with broad flag-stones, and gave out scarcely a
sound under our wheels. It was Sunday, and no one was to be seen. Yet
the empty and silent city inspired us with no sense of desolation. The
palaces were in perfect repair; the pavements were clean; behind those
windows we felt that there must be a good deal of easy, comfortable
life. It is said that Pisa is one of the few places in Europe where
the sweet, but timid spirit of Inexpensiveness--everywhere pursued by
Railways--still lingers, and that you find cheap apartments in those
well-preserved old palaces. No doubt it would be worth more to live in
Pisa than it would cost, for the history of the place would alone be
to any reasonable sojourner a perpetual recompense, and a princely
income far exceeding his expenditure. To be sure, the Tower of Famine,
with which we chiefly associate the name of Pisa, has been long razed
to the ground, and built piecemeal into the neighboring palaces, but
you may still visit the dead wall which hides from view the place
where it stood; and you may thence drive on, as we did, to the great
Piazza where stands the unrivaledest group of architecture in
the world, after that of St. Mark's Place in Venice. There is the
wonderful Leaning Tower, there is the old and beautiful Duomo,
there is the noble Baptistery, there is the lovely Campo-Santo, and
there--somewhere lurking in portal or behind pillar, and keeping
out an eagle-eye for the marveling stranger--is the much-experienced
cicerone who shows you through the edifices. Yours is the
fourteen-thousandth American family to which he has had the honor of
acting as guide, and he makes you feel an illogical satisfaction in
thus becoming a contribution to statistics.

We entered the Duomo, in our new friend's custody, and we saw the
things which it was well to see. There was mass, or some other
ceremony, transacting; but as usual it was made as little obtrusive as
possible, and there was not much to weaken the sense of proprietorship
with which travellers view objects of interest. Then we ascended the
Leaning Tower, skillfully preserving its equilibrium as we went by
an inclination of our persons in a direction opposed to the tower's
inclination, but perhaps not receiving a full justification of the
Campanile's appearance in pictures, till we stood at its base, and saw
its vast bulk and height as it seemed to sway and threaten in the
blue sky above our heads. There the sensation was too terrible for
endurance,--even the architectural beauty of the tower could not save
it from being monstrous to us,--and we were glad to hurry away from it
to the serenity and solemn loveliness of the Campo Santo.

Here are the frescos painted five hundred years ago to be ruinous and
ready against the time of your arrival in 1864, and you feel that you
are the first to enjoy the joke of the Vergognosa, that cunning jade
who peers through her fingers at the shameful condition of deboshed
father Noah, and seems to wink one eye of wicked amusement at you.
Turning afterward to any book written about Italy during the time
specified, you find your impression of exclusive possession of the
frescos erroneous, and your muse naturally despairs, where so many
muses have labored in vain, to give a just idea of the Campo Santo.
Yet it is most worthy celebration. Those exquisitely arched and
traceried colonnades seem to grow like the slim cypresses out of the
sainted earth of Jerusalem; and those old paintings, made when Art
was--if ever--a Soul, and not as now a mere Intelligence, enforce
more effectively than their authors conceived the lessons of life and
death; for they are themselves becoming part of the triumphant decay
they represent. If it was awful once to look upon that strange scene
where the gay lords and ladies of the chase come suddenly upon three
dead men in their coffins, while the devoted hermits enjoy the peace
of a dismal righteousness on a hill in the background, it is yet more
tragic to behold it now when the dead men are hardly discernible in
their coffins, and the hermits are but the vaguest shadows of gloomy
bliss. Alas! Death mocks even the homage done him by our poor fears
and hopes: with dust he wipes out dust, and with decay he blots the
image of decay.

I assure the reader that I made none of these apt reflections in
the Campo Santo at Pisa, but have written them out this morning in
Cambridge because there happens to be an east wind blowing. No
one could have been sad in the company of our cheerful and patient
cicerone, who, although visibly anxious to get his fourteen-thousandth
American family away, still would not go till he had shown us that
monument to a dead enmity which hangs in the Campo Santo. This is the
mighty chain which the Pisans, in their old wars with the Genoese,
once stretched across the mouth of their harbor to prevent the
entrance of the hostile galleys. The Genoese with no great trouble
carried the chain away, and kept it ever afterward till 1860, when
Pisa was united to the kingdom of Italy. Then the trophy was restored
to the Pisans, and with public rejoicings placed in the Campo Santo,
an emblem of reconciliation and perpetual amity between ancient
foes. [I read in Mr. Norton's _Notes of Travel and Study in Italy_,
that he saw in the Campo Santo, as long ago as 1856, "the chains that
marked the servitude of Pisa, now restored by Florence," and it is
of course possible that our cicerone may have employed one of those
chains for the different historical purpose I have mentioned. It would
be a thousand pities, I think, if a monument of that sort should be
limited to the commemoration of one fact only.] It is not a very good
world,--_e pur si muove_.

The Baptistery stands but a step away from the Campo Santo, and our
guide ushered us into it with the air of one who had till now held in
reserve his great stroke and was ready to deliver it. Yet I think he
waited till we had looked at some comparatively trifling sculptures
by Nicolò Pisano before he raised his voice, and uttered a melodious
species of howl. While we stood in some amazement at this, the
conscious structure of the dome caught the sound and prolonged it with
a variety and sweetness of which I could not have dreamed. The man
poured out in quick succession his musical wails, and then ceased,
and a choir of heavenly echoes burst forth in response. There was a
supernatural beauty in these harmonies of which I despair of giving
any true idea: they were of such tender and exalted rapture that
we might well have thought them the voices of young-eyed cherubim,
singing as they passed through Paradise over that spot of earth where
we stood. They seemed a celestial compassion that stooped and soothed,
and rose again in lofty and solemn acclaim, leaving us poor and
penitent and humbled.

We were long silent, and then broke forth with cries of admiration of
which the marvelous echo made eloquence.

"Did you ever," said the cicerone after we had left the building,
"hear such music as that?"

"The papal choir does not equal it," we answered with one voice.

The cicerone was not to be silenced even with such a tribute, and he
went on:

"Perhaps, as you are Americans, you know Moshu Feelmore, the
President? No? Ah, what a fine man! You saw that he had his heart
actually in his hand! Well, one day he said to me here, when I told
him of the Baptistery echo, 'We have the finest echo in the world in
the Hall of Congress.' I said nothing, but for answer I merely howled
a little,--thus! Moshu Feelmore was convinced. Said he, 'There is no
other echo in the world besides this. You are right.' I am unique,"
pursued the cicerone, "for making this echo. But," he added with
a sigh, "it has been my ruin. The English have put me in all the
guide-books, and sometimes I have to howl twenty times a day. When our
Victor Emanuel came here I showed him the church, the tower, and the
Campo Santo. Says the king, 'Pfui!'"--here the cicerone gave that
sweeping outward motion with both hands by which Italians dismiss a
trifling subject--"'make me the echo!' I was forced," concluded the
cicerone with a strong sense of injury in his tone, "to howl half an
hour without ceasing."



The delight of one of our first journeys over the road between Padua
and Ferrara was a Roman _cameriere_ out of place, who got into the
diligence at Ponte Lagoscuro. We were six in all: The Englishman who
thought it particularly Italian to say "Sì" three times for every
assent; the Veneto (as the citizen of the province calls himself, the
native of the city being Veneziano) going home to his farm near Padua;
the German lady of a sour and dreadful countenance; our two selves,
and the Roman _cameriere_. The last was worth all the rest--being a
man of vast general information acquired in the course of service
with families of all nations, and agreeably communicative. A brisk
and lively little man, with dancing eyes, beard cut to the mode of the
Emperor Napoleon, and the impressive habit of tapping himself on the
teeth with his railroad-guide, and lifting his eyebrows when he
says any thing specially worthy of remark. He, also, long after the
conclusion of an observation, comes back to himself approvingly,
with "_Sì_!" "_Vabene_!" "_Ecco_!" He speaks beautiful Italian and
constantly, and in a little while we know that he was born at
Ferrara, bred at Venice, and is now a citizen of Rome. "St. Peter's,
Signori,--have you ever seen it?--is the first church of the world.
At Ferrara lived Tasso and Ariosto. Venice is a lovely city. Ah! what
beauty! But unique. My second country. _Sì, Signori, la mia seconda
patria_." After a pause, "_Va bene_."

We hint to him that he is extremely fortunate in having so many
countries, and that it will be difficult to exile so universal a
citizen, which he takes as a tribute to his worth, smiles and says,

Then he turns to the Veneto, and describes to him the English manner
of living. "Wonderfully well they eat--the English. Four times a day.
With rosbif at the dinner. Always, always, always! And tea in the
evening, with rosbif cold. _Mangiano sempre. Ma bene, dico_." After
a pause, "_Sì_!" "And the Venetians, they eat well, too. Whence the
proverb: '_Sulla Riva degli Schiavoni, si mangiano bei bocconi_.'
('On the Riva degli Schiavoni, you eat fine mouthfuls.') Signori, I am
going to Venice," concludes the cameriere.

He is the politest man in the world, and the most attentive to ladies.
The German lady has not spoken a word, possibly not knowing the
language. Our good cameriere cannot bear this, and commiserates her
weariness with noble elegance and originality. "_La Signora si trova
un poco sagrificata_?" ("The lady feels slightly sacrificed!") We all
smile, and the little man very gladly with us.

"An elegant way of expressing it," we venture to suggest. The Veneto
roars and roars again, and we all shriek, none louder than the Roman
himself. We never can get over that idea of being slightly sacrificed,
and it lasts us the whole way to Padua; and when the Veneto gets down
at his farm-gate, he first "reverences" us, and then says, "I am very
sorry for you others who must be still more slightly sacrificed."

At Venice, a week or two later, I meet our cameriere. He is not so
gay, quite, as he was, and I fancy that he has not found so many _bei
bocconi_ on the Riva degli Schiavoni, as the proverb and a sanguine
temperament led him to expect. Do I happen to know, he asks, any
American family going to Rome and desiring a cameriere?

       *       *       *       *       *

As I write, the Spring is coming in Cambridge, and I cannot help
thinking, with a little heartache, of how the Spring came to meet us
once as we rode southward from Venice toward Florence on that road
from Padua to Ferrara. It had been May for some time in Tuscany,
and all through the wide plains of Venetia this was the railroad
landscape: fields tilled and tended as jealously as gardens, and
waving in wheat, oats, and grass, with here and there the hay cut
already, and here and there acres of Indian corn. The green of the
fields was all dashed with the bloody red of poppies; the fig-trees
hung full of half-grown fruit; the orchards were garlanded with vines,
which they do not bind to stakes in Italy, but train from tree to
tree, leaving them to droop in festoons and sway in the wind, with the
slender native grace of vines. Huge stone farm-houses shelter under
the same roof the family and all the live stock of the farm; thatched
cottages thickly dotting the fields, send forth to their cultivation
the most picturesque peasants,--men and women, pretty young girls in
broad hats, and wonderful old brown and crooked crones, who seem never
to have been younger nor fairer. Country roads, level, straight, and
white, stretch away on either hand, and the constant files of poplars
escort them wherever they go. All about, the birds sing, and the
butterflies dance. The milk-white oxen dragging the heavy carts turn
up their patient heads, with wide-spreading horns and mellow eyes,
at the passing train; the sunburnt lout behind them suspends the
application of the goad; unwonted acquiescence stirs in the bosom of
the firm-minded donkey, and even the matter-of-fact locomotive seems
to linger as lovingly as a locomotive may along these plains of

At Padua we take a carriage for Ponte Lagoscuro, and having fought the
customary battle with the vetturino before arriving at the terms of
contract; having submitted to the successive pillage of the man who
had held our horses a moment, of the man who tied on the trunk, and
of the man who hovered obligingly about the carriage, and desired to
drink our health--with prodigious smacking of whip, and banging of
wheels, we rattle out of the Stella d'Oro, and set forth from the gate
of the old city.

I confess that I like posting. There is a freedom and a fine sense of
proprietorship in that mode of travel, combined with sufficient
speed, which you do not feel on the railroad. For twenty francs and
_buonamano_, I had bought my carriage and horses and driver for the
journey of forty miles, and I began to look round on the landscape
with a cumulative feeling of ownership in everything I saw. For me,
old women spinning in old-world fashion, with distaff and spindle,
flax as white as their own hair, came to roadside doors, or moved
back and forth under orchard trees. For me, the peasants toiled in the
fields together, wearing for my sake wide straw hats, or gay ribbons,
or red caps. The white oxen were willing to mass themselves in
effective groups, as the ploughman turned the end of his furrow; young
girls specially appointed themselves to lead horses to springs as we
passed; children had larger eyes and finer faces and played more
about the cottage doors, on account of our posting. As for the
vine-garlanded trees in the orchards, and the opulence of the endless
fertile plain; the white distance of the road before us with its
guardian poplars,--I doubt if people in a diligence could have got so
much of these things as we. Certainly they could not have had all to
themselves the lordly splendor with which we dashed through gaping
villages, taking the street from everybody, and fading magnificently
away upon the road.



If you take the midnight steamer at Venice you reach Trieste by six
o'clock in the morning, and the hills rise to meet you as you enter
the broad bay dotted with the sail of fishing-craft. The hills are
bald and bare, and you find, as you draw near, that the city lies at
their feet under a veil of mist, or climbs earlier into view along
their sides. The prospect is singularly devoid of gentle and pleasing
features, and looking at those rugged acclivities, with their aspect
of continual bleakness, you readily believe all the stories you have
heard of that fierce wind called the Bora which sweeps from them
through Trieste at certain seasons. While it blows, ladies walking
near the quays are sometimes caught up and set afloat, involuntary
Galateas, in the bay, and people keep in-doors as much as possible.
But the Bora, though so sudden and so savage, does give warning of its
rise, and the peasants avail themselves of this characteristic. They
station a man on one of the mountain tops, and when he feels the first
breath of the Bora, he sounds a horn, which is a signal for all within
hearing to lay hold of something that cannot be blown away, and cling
to it till the wind falls. This may happen in three days or in nine,
according to the popular proverbs. "The spectacle of the sea," says
Dall' Ongaro, in a note to one of his ballads, "while the Bora blows,
is sublime, and when it ceases the prospect of the surrounding hills
is delightful. The air, purified by the rapid current, clothes them
with a rosy veil, and the temperature is instantly softened, even in
the heart of winter."

The city itself, as you penetrate it, makes good with its stateliness
and picturesqueness your loss through the grimness of its environs. It
is in great part new, very clean, and full of the life and movement
of a prosperous port; but, better than this, so far as the mere
sight-seer is concerned, it wins a novel charm from the many public
staircases by which you ascend and descend its hillier quarters, and
which are made of stone, and lightly railed and balustraded with iron.

Something of all this I noticed in my ride from the landing of the
steamer to the house of friends in the suburbs, and there I grew
better disposed toward the hills, which, as I strolled over them,
I found dotted with lovely villas, and everywhere traversed by
perfectly-kept carriage-roads, and easy and pleasant foot-paths. It
was in the spring-time, and the peach-trees and almond-trees hung
full of blossoms and bees, the lizards lay in the walks absorbing the
vernal sunshine, the violets and cowslips sweetened all the grassy
borders. The scene did not want a human interest, for the peasant
girls were going to market at that hour, and I met them everywhere,
bearing heavy burdens on their own heads, or hurrying forward with
their wares on the backs of donkeys. They were as handsome as heart
could wish, and they wore that Italian costume which is not to be seen
anywhere in Italy except at Trieste and in the Roman and Neapolitan
provinces,--a bright bodice and gown, with the head-dress of dazzling
white linen, square upon the crown, and dropping lightly to the
shoulders. Later I saw these comely maidens crouching on the ground in
the market-place, and selling their wares, with much glitter of eyes,
teeth, and earrings, and a continual babble of bargaining.

It seemed to me that the average of good looks was greater among the
women of Trieste than among those of Venice, but that the instances of
striking and exquisite beauty were rarer. At Trieste, too, the Italian
type, so pure at Venice, is lost or continually modified by the mixed
character of the population, which perhaps is most noticeable at the
Merchants' Exchange. This is a vast edifice roofed with glass, where
are the offices of the great steam navigation company, the Austrian
Lloyds,--which, far more than the favor of the Imperial government,
has contributed to the prosperity of Trieste,--and where the
traffickers of all races meet daily to gossip over the news and the
prices. Here a Greek or Dalmat talks with an eager Italian or a slow,
sure Englishman; here the hated Austrian button-holes the Venetian
or the Magyar; here the Jew meets the Gentile on common ground; here
Christianity encounters the hoary superstitions of the East, and makes
a good thing out of them in cotton or grain. All costumes are seen
here, and all tongues are heard, the native Triestines contributing
almost as much to the variety of the latter as the foreigners. "In
regard to language," says Cantù, "though the country is peopled by
Slavonians, yet the Italian tongue is spreading into the remotest
villages where a few years since it was not understood. In the city it
is the common and familiar language; the Slavonians of the North use
the German for the language of ceremony; those of the South, as well
as the Israelites, the Italian; while the Protestants use the German,
the Greeks the Hellenic and Illyric, the _employés_ of the civil
courts the Italian or the German, the schools now German and now
Italian, the bar and the pulpit Italian. Most of the inhabitants,
indeed, are bi-lingual, and very many tri-lingual, without counting
French, which is understood and spoken from infancy. Italian, German,
and Greek are written, but the Slavonic little, this having remained
in the condition of a vulgar tongue. But it would be idle to
distinguish the population according to language, for the son adopts a
language different from the father's, and now prefers one language and
now another; the women incline to the Italian; but those of the upper
class prefer now German, now French, now English, as, from one decade
to another, affairs, fashions, and fancies change. This in the salons;
in the squares and streets, the Venetian dialect is heard."

And with the introduction of the Venetian dialect, Venetian discontent
seems also to have crept in, and I once heard a Triestine declaim
against the Imperial government quite in the manner of Venice. It
struck me that this desire for union with Italy, which he declared
prevalent in Trieste, must be of very recent growth, since even so
late as 1848, Trieste had refused to join Venice in the expulsion of
the Austrians. Indeed, the Triestines have fought the Venetians from
the first; they stole the Brides of Venice in one of their piratical
cruises in the lagoons; gave aid and comfort to those enemies of
Venice, the Visconti, the Carraras, and the Genoese; revolted from St.
Mark whenever subjected to his banner, and finally, rather than remain
under his sway, gave themselves five centuries ago to Austria.

The objects of interest in Trieste are not many. There are remains of
an attributive temple of Jupiter under the Duomo, and there is near
at hand the Museum of Classical Antiquities founded in honor of
Winckelmann, murdered at Trieste by that ill-advised Pistojese,
Ancangeli, who had seen the medals bestowed on the antiquary by Maria
Theresa and believed him rich. There is also a scientific museum
founded by the Archduke Maximilian, and, above all, there is the
beautiful residence of that ill-starred prince,--the Miramare, where
the half-crazed Empress of the Mexicans vainly waits her husband's
return from the experiment of paternal government in the New World. It
would be hard to tell how Art has charmed rock and wave at Miramare,
until the spur of those rugged Triestine hills, jutting into the sea,
has been made the seat of ease and luxury, but the visitor is aware of
the magic as soon as he passes the gate of the palace grounds. These
are in great part perpendicular, and are over clambered with airy
stairways climbing to pensile arbors. Where horizontal, they are
diversified with mimic seas for swans to sail upon, and summer-houses
for people to lounge in and look at the swans from. On the point of
land furthest from the acclivity stands the Castle of Miramare, half
at sea, and half adrift in the clouds above:--

  "And fain it would stoop downward
  To the mirrored wave below;
  And fain it would soar upward
  In the evening's crimson glow."

I remember that a little yacht lay beside the pier at the castle's
foot, and lazily flapped its sail, while the sea beat inward with as
languid a pulse. That was some years ago, before Mexico was dreamed of
at Miramare: now, perchance, she who is one of the most unhappy among
women looks down distraught from those high windows, and finds in the
helpless sail and impassive wave the images of her baffled hope, and
that immeasurable sea which gives back its mariners neither to love
nor sorrow. I think though she be the wife and daughter of princes, we
may pity this poor Empress at least as much as we pity the Mexicans to
whom her dreams have brought so many woes.

It was the midnight following my visit to Miramare when the fiacre
in which I had quitted my friend's house was drawn up by its greatly
bewildered driver on the quay near the place where the steamer for
Venice should be lying. There was no steamer for Venice to be seen.
The driver swore a little in the polyglot profanities of his native
city, and descending from his box, went and questioned different
lights--blue lights, yellow lights, green lights--to be seen at
different points. To a light, they were ignorant, though eloquent, and
to pass the time, we drove up and down the quay, and stopped at the
landings of all the steamers that touch at Trieste. It was a snug
fiacre enough, but I did not care to spend the night in it, and I
urged the driver to further inquiry. A wanderer whom we met, declared
that it was not the night for the Venice steamer; another admitted
that it might be; a third conversed with the driver in low tones, and
then leaped upon the box. We drove rapidly away, and before I had, in
view of this mysterious proceeding, composed a fitting paragraph for
the _Fatti Diversi_ of the _Osservatore Triestino_, descriptive of the
state in which the Guardie di Polizia should find me floating in the
bay, exanimate and evidently the prey of a _triste evvenimento_--the
driver pulled up once more, and now beside a steamer. It was the
steamer for Venice, he said, in precisely the tone which he would
have used had he driven me directly to it without blundering. It was
breathing heavily, and was just about to depart, but even in the hurry
of getting on board, I could not help noticing that it seemed to have
grown a great deal since I had last voyaged in it. There was not
a soul to be seen except the mute steward who took my satchel, and
guiding me below into an elegant saloon, instantly left me alone.
Here again the steamer was vastly enlarged. These were not the narrow
quarters of the Venice steamer, nor was this lamp, shedding a soft
light on cushioned seats and paneled doors and wainscotings the sort
of illumination usual in that humble craft. I rang the small silver
bell on the long table, and the mute steward appeared.

_Was_ this the steamer for Venice?


All that I could do in comment was to sit down; and in the mean time
the steamer trembled, groaned, choked, cleared its throat, and we were
under way.

"The other passengers have all gone to bed, I suppose," I argued
acutely, seeing none of them. Nevertheless, I thought it odd, and
it seemed a shrewd means of relief to ring the bell, and pretending
drowsiness, to ask the steward which was my state-room.

He replied with a curious smile that I could have any of them. Amazed,
I yet selected a state-room, and while the steward was gone for the
sheets and pillow-cases, I occupied my time by opening the doors of
all the other state-rooms. They were empty.

"Am I the only passenger?" I asked, when he returned, with some

"Precisely," he answered.

I could not proceed and ask if he composed the entire crew--it seemed
too fearfully probable that he did.

I now suspected that I had taken passage with the Olandese Volante.
There was nothing in the world for it, however, but to go to bed, and
there, with the accession of a slight sea-sickness, my views of the
situation underwent a total change. I had gone down into the Maelstrom
with the Ancient Mariner--I was a Manuscript Found in a Bottle!

Coming to the surface about six o'clock A.M., I found a daylight as
cheerful as need be upon the appointments of the elegant cabin, and
upon the good-natured face of the steward when he brought me the caffè
latte, and the buttered toast for my breakfast. He said "_Servitor
suo_!" in a loud and comfortable voice, and I perceived the
absurdity of having thought that he was in any way related to the

"This is not the regular Venice steamer, I suppose," I remarked to the
steward as he laid my breakfast in state upon the long table.

No. Properly, no boat should have left for Venice last night, which
was not one of the times of the tri-weekly departure. This was one of
the steamers of the line between Trieste and Alexandria, and it was
going at present to take on an extraordinary freight at Venice for
Egypt. I had been permitted to come on board because my driver said I
had a return ticket, and would go.

Ascending to the deck I found nothing whatever mysterious in the
management of the steamer. The captain met me with a bow in the
gangway; seamen were coiling wet ropes at different points, as they
always are; the mate was promenading the bridge, and taking the rainy
weather as it came, with his oil-cloth coat and hat on. The wheel of
the steamer was as usual chewing the sea, and finding it unpalatable,
and making vain efforts at expectoration.

We were in sight of the breakwater outside Malamocco, and a pilot-boat
was making us from the land. Even at this point the innumerable
fortifications of the Austrians began, and they multiplied as we
drew near Venice, till we entered the lagoon, and found it a nest of
fortresses one with another.

Unhappily the day being rainy, Venice did not spring resplendent from
the sea, as I had always read she would. She rose slowly and languidly
from the water,--not like a queen, but like the gray, slovenly,
bedrabbled, heart-broken old slave she really was.



I have already told, in recounting the story of our visit to the
Cimbri, how full of courtship we found the little city of Bassano on
the evening of our arrival there. Bassano is the birthplace of the
painter Jacopo da Ponte, who was one of the first Italian painters to
treat scriptural story as accessory to mere landscape, and who had a
peculiar fondness for painting Entrances into the Ark, for in these he
could indulge without stint the taste for pairing-off early acquired
from observation of local customs in his native town. This was
the theory offered by one who had imbibed the spirit of subtile
speculation from Ruskin, and I think it reasonable. At least it does
not conflict with the fact that there is at Bassano a most excellent
gallery of paintings entirely devoted to the works of Jacopo da Ponte,
and his four sons, who are here to be seen to better advantage than
anywhere else. As few strangers visit Bassano, the gallery is little
frequented. It is in charge of a very strict old man, who will not
allow people to look at the pictures till he has shown them the
adjoining cabinet of geological specimens. It is in vain that you
assure him of your indifference to these scientific _seccature_; he is
deaf and you are not suffered to escape a single fossil. He asked us a
hundred questions, and understood nothing in reply, insomuch that when
he came to his last inquiry, "Have the Protestants the same God as the
Catholics?" we were rather glad that he should be obliged to settle
the fact for himself.

Underneath the gallery was a school of boys, whom as we entered we
heard humming over the bitter honey which childhood is obliged to
gather from the opening flowers of orthography. When we passed out,
the master gave these poor busy bees an atom of holiday, and they all
swarmed forth together to look at the strangers. The teacher was a
long, lank man, in a black threadbare coat, and a skull-cap--exactly
like the schoolmaster in "The Deserted Village." We made a pretense of
asking him our way to somewhere, and went wrong, and came by accident
upon a wide flat space, bare as a brick-yard, beside which was
lettered on a fragment of the old city wall, "Giuoco di Palla." It
was evidently the playground of the whole city, and it gave us a
pleasanter idea of life in Bassano than we had yet conceived, to think
of its entire population playing ball there in the spring afternoons.
We respected Bassano as much for this as for her diligent remembrance
of her illustrious dead, of whom she has very great numbers. It
appeared to us that nearly every other house bore a tablet announcing
that "Here was born," or "Here died," some great or good man of whom
no one out of Bassano ever heard. There is enough celebrity in Bassano
to supply the world; but as laurel is a thing that grows anywhere, I
covet rather from Bassano the magnificent ivy that covers the portions
of her ancient wall yet standing. The wall, where visible, is seen to
be of a pebbly rough-cast, but it is clad almost from the ground
in glossy ivy, that glitters upon it like chain-mail upon the vast
shoulders of some giant warrior. The moat beneath is turned into a
lovely promenade bordered by quiet villas, with rococo shepherds and
shepherdesses in marble on their gates; where the wall is built to the
verge of the high ground on which the city stands, there is a swift
descent to the wide valley of the Brenta waving in corn and vines and

We went up the Brenta one day as far as Oliero, to visit the famous
cavern already mentioned, out of which, from the secret heart of the
hill, gushes one of the foamy affluents of the river. It is reached
by passing through a paper-mill, fed by the stream, and then through
a sort of ante-grot, whence stepping-stones are laid in the brawling
current through a succession of natural compartments with dome-like
roofs. From the hill overhead hang stalactites of all grotesque and
fairy shapes, and the rock underfoot is embroidered with fantastic
designs wrought by the water in the silence and darkness of the
endless night. At a considerable distance from the mouth of the cavern
is a wide lake, with a boat upon it, and voyaging to the centre of the
pool your attention is drawn to the dome above you, which contracts
into a shaft rising upward to a height as yet unmeasured and even
unpierced by light. From somewhere in its mysterious ascent, an
auroral boy, with a tallow candle, produces a so-called effect of
sunrise, and sheds a sad, disheartening radiance on the lake and the
cavern sides, which is to sunlight about as the blind creatures of
subterranean waters are to those of waves that laugh and dance above
ground. But all caverns are much alike in their depressing and gloomy
influences, and since there is so great opportunity to be wretched on
the surface of the earth, why do people visit them? I do not know that
this is more dispiriting or its stream more Stygian than another.

The wicked memory of the Ecelini survives everywhere in this part of
Italy, and near the entrance of the Oliero grotto is a hollow in the
hill something like the apsis of a church, which is popularly believed
to have been the hiding-place of Cecilia da Baone, one of the many
unhappy wives of one of the many miserable members of the Ecelino
family. It is not quite clear when Cecilia should have employed this
as a place of refuge, and it is certain that she was not the wife of
Ecelino da Romano, as the neighbors believe at Oliero, but of Ecelino
il Monaco, his father; yet since her name is associated with the grot,
let us have her story, which is curiously illustrative of the life of
the best society in Italy during the thirteenth century. She was the
only daughter of the rich and potent lord, Manfredo, Count of Baone
and Abano, who died leaving his heiress to the guardianship of
Spinabello da Xendrico. When his ward reached womanhood, Spinabello
cast about him to find a suitable husband for her, and it appeared to
him that a match with the son of Tiso du Camposampiero promised
the greatest advantages. Tiso, to whom he proposed the affair, was
delighted, but desiring first to take counsel with his friends upon
so important a matter, he confided it for advice to his brother-in-law
and closest intimate, Ecelino Balbo. It had just happened that Balbo's
son, Ecelino il Monaco, was at that moment disengaged, having
been recently divorced from his first wife, the lovely but light
Speronella; and Balbo falsely went to the greedy guardian of Cecilia,
and offering him better terms than he could hope for from Tiso,
secured Cecilia for his son. At this treachery the Camposampieri were
furious; but they dissembled their anger till the moment of revenge
arrived, when Cecilia's rejected suitor encountering her upon a
journey beyond the protection of her husband, violently dishonored his
successful rival. The unhappy lady returning to Ecelino at Bassano,
recounted her wrong, and was with a horrible injustice repudiated and
sent home, while her husband arranged schemes of vengeance in due time
consummated. Cecilia next married a Venetian noble, and being in
due time divorced, married yet again, and died the mother of a large
family of children.

This is a very old scandal, yet I think there was an _habitué_ of the
caffè in Bassano who could have given some of its particulars from
personal recollection. He was an old and smoothly shaven gentleman, in
a scrupulously white waistcoat, whom we saw every evening in a corner
of the caffè playing solitaire. He talked with no one, saluted no
one. He drank his glasses of water with anisette, and silently played
solitaire. There is no good reason to doubt that he had been doing the
same thing every evening for six hundred years.



It did not take a long time to exhaust the interest of Bassano, but we
were sorry to leave the place because of the excellence of the inn at
which we tarried. It was called "Il Mondo," and it had everything
in it that heart could wish. Our rooms were miracles of neatness and
comfort; they had the freshness, not the rawness, of recent repair,
and they opened into the dining-hall, where we were served with
indescribable salads and risotti. During our sojourn we simply enjoyed
the house; when we were come away we wondered that so much perfection
of hotel could exist in so small a town as Bassano. It is one of
the pleasures of by-way travel in Italy, that you are everywhere
introduced in character, that you become fictitious and play a part as
in a novel. To this inn of The World, our driver had brought us with a
clamor and rattle proportioned to the fee received from us, and
when, in response to his haughty summons, the cameriere, who had been
gossiping with the cook, threw open the kitchen door, and stood out to
welcome us in a broad square of forth-streaming ruddy light, amid the
lovely odors of broiling and roasting, our driver saluted him with,
"Receive these gentle folks, and treat them to your very best. They
are worthy of anything." This at once put us back several centuries,
and we never ceased to be lords and ladies of the period of Don
Quixote as long as we rested in that inn.

It was a bright and breezy Sunday when we left "Il Mondo," and gayly
journeyed toward Treviso, intending to visit Possagno, the birthplace
of Canova, on our way. The road to the latter place passes through a
beautiful country, that gently undulates on either hand till in the
distance it rises into pleasant hills and green mountain heights.
Possagno itself lies upon the brink of a declivity, down the side of
which drops terrace after terrace, all planted with vines and figs and
peaches, to a watercourse below. The ground on which the village is
built, with its quaint and antiquated stone cottages, slopes gently
northward, and on a little rise upon the left hand of us coming from
Bassano, we saw that stately edifice with which Canova has honored his
humble birthplace. It is a copy of the Pantheon, and it cannot help
being beautiful and imposing, but it would be utterly out of place in
any other than an Italian village. Here, however, it consorted well
enough with the lingering qualities of the old pagan civilization
still perceptible in Italy. A sense of that past was so strong with
us as we ascended the broad stairway leading up the slope from the
village to the level on which the temple stands at the foot of a
mountain, that we might well have believed we approached an altar
devoted to the elder worship: through the open doorway and between the
columns of the portico we could see the priests moving to and fro, and
the voice of their chanting came out to us like the sound of hymns to
some of the deities long disowned; and I remembered how Padre L----
had said to me in Venice, "Our blessed saints are only the old gods
baptized and christened anew." Within as without, the temple resembled
the Pantheon, but it had little to show us. The niches designed by
Canova for statues of the saints are empty yet; but there are busts by
his own hand of himself and his brother, the Bishop Canova. Among the
people was the sculptor's niece, whom our guide pointed out to us, and
who was evidently used to being looked at. She seemed not to dislike
it, and stared back at us amiably enough, being a good-natured, plump,
comely dark-faced lady of perhaps fifty years.

Possagno is nothing if not Canova, and our guide, a boy, knew
all about him,--how, more especially, he had first manifested his
wonderful genius by modeling a group of sheep out of the dust of the
highway, and how an Inglese happening along in his carriage, saw the
boy's work and gave him a plateful of gold napoleons. I dare say
this is as near the truth as most facts. And is it not better for the
historic Canova to have begun in this way than to have poorly picked
up the rudiments of his art in the workshop of his father, a maker of
altar-pieces and the like for country churches? The Canova family was
intermarried with the Venetian nobility, and will not credit those
stories of Canova's beginnings which his townsmen so fondly cherish.
I believe they would even distrust the butter-lion with which the
boy-sculptor is said to have adorned the table of the noble Falier,
and first won his notice.

Besides the temple at Possagno, there is a very pretty gallery
containing casts of all Canova's works. It is an interesting place,
where Psyches and Cupids flutter, where Venuses present themselves
in every variety of attitude, where Sorrows sit upon hard,
straight-backed classic chairs, and mourn in the society of faithful
Storks; where the Bereft of this century surround death-beds in Greek
costume appropriate to the scene; where Muses and Graces sweetly pose
themselves and insipidly smile, and where the Dancers and Passions,
though nakeder, are no wickeder than the Saints and Virtues. In all,
there are a hundred and ninety-five pieces in the gallery, and among
the rest the statue named George Washington, which was sent to America
in 1820, and afterwards destroyed by fire in the Capitol. The figure
is in a sitting posture; naturally, it is in the dress of a Roman
general; and if it does not look much like George Washington, it does
resemble Julius Cæsar.

The custodian of the gallery had been Canova'a body-servant, and he
loved to talk of his master. He had so far imbibed the family spirit
that he did not like to allow that Canova had ever been other than
rich and grand, and he begged us not to believe the idle stories of
his first essays in art. He was delighted with our interest in the
imperial Washington, and our pleasure in the whole gallery, which we
viewed with the homage due to the man who had rescued the world from
Swaggering in sculpture. When we were satisfied, he invited us, with
his mistress's permission, into the house of the Canovas adjoining
the gallery; and there we saw many paintings by the sculptor,--pausing
longest in a lovely little room decorated after the Pompeian manner
with _scherzi_ in miniature panels representing the jocose classic
usualities: Cupids escaping from cages, and being sold from them, and
playing many pranks and games with Nymphs and Graces.

Then Canova was done, and Possagno was finished; and we resumed our
way to Treviso, a town nearly as much porticoed as Padua, and having a
memory and hardly any other consciousness. The Duomo, which is perhaps
the ugliest duomo in the world, contains an "Annunciation," by Titian,
one of his best paintings; and in the Monte di Pietà is the grand and
beautiful "Entombment," by which Giorgione is perhaps most worthily
remembered. The church of San Nicolò is interesting from its quaint
and pleasing frescos by the school of Giotto. At the railway station
an admirable old man sells the most delicious white and purple grapes.



My visit to Lake Como has become to me a dream of summer,--a vision
that remains faded the whole year round, till the blazing heats of
July bring out the sympathetic tints in which it was vividly painted.
Then I behold myself again in burning Milan, amidst noises and
fervors and bustle that seem intolerable after my first six months
in tranquil, cool, mute Venice. Looking at the great white Cathedral,
with its infinite pinnacles piercing the cloudless blue, and gathering
the fierce sun upon it, I half expect to see the whole mass calcined
by the heat, and crumbling, statue by statue, finial by finial, arch
by arch, into a vast heap of lime on the Piazza, with a few charred
English tourists blackening here and there upon the ruin, and
contributing a smell of burnt leather and Scotch tweed to the horror
of the scene. All round Milan smokes the great Lombard plain, and
to the north rises Monte Rosa, her dark head coifed with tantalizing
snows as with a peasant's white linen kerchief. And I am walking out
upon that fuming plain as far as to the Arco della Pace, on which
the bronze horses may melt any minute; or I am sweltering through the
city's noonday streets, in search of Sant' Ambrogio, or the Cenacolo
of Da Vinci, or what know I? Coming back to our hotel, "Alla Bella
Venezia," and greeted on entering by the immense fresco which covers
one whole side of the court, it appeared to my friend and me no wonder
that Garibaldi should look so longingly from the prow of a gondola
toward the airy towers and balloon-like domes that swim above the
unattainable lagoons of Venice, where the Austrian then lorded it in
coolness and quietness, while hot, red-shirted Italy was shut out
upon the dusty plains and stony hills. Our desire for water became
insufferable; we paid our modest bills, and at six o'clock we took
the train for Como, where we arrived about the hour when Don Abbondio,
walking down the lonely path with his book of devotions in his hand,
gave himself to the Devil on meeting the bravos of Don Rodrigo. I
counsel the reader to turn to _I Promessi Sposi_, if he would know
how all the lovely Como country looks at that hour. For me, the ride
through the evening landscape, and the faint sentiment of pensiveness
provoked by the smell of the ripening maize, which exhales the same
sweetness on the way to Como that it does on any Ohio bottom-land,
have given me an appetite, and I am to dine before wooing the
descriptive Muse.

After dinner, we find at the door of the hotel an English architect
whom we know, and we take a boat together for a moonlight row upon the
lake, and voyage far up the placid water through air that bathes our
heated senses like dew. How far we have left Milan behind! On the lake
lies the moon, but the hills are held by mysterious shadows, which for
the time are as substantial to us as the hills themselves. Hints of
habitation appear in the twinkling lights along the water's edge, and
we suspect an alabaster lamp in every casement, and in every invisible
house a villa such as Claude Melnotte described to Pauline,--and some
one mouths that well-worn fustian. The rags of sentimentality flutter
from every crag and olive-tree and orange-tree in all Italy--like the
wilted paper collars which vulgar tourists leave by our own mountains
and streams, to commemorate their enjoyment of the landscape.

The town of Como lies, a swarm of lights, behind us; the hills and
shadows gloom around; the lake is a sheet of tremulous silver. There
is no telling how we get back to our hotel, or with what satisfied
hearts we fall asleep in our room there. The steamer starts for the
head of the lake at eight o'clock in the morning, and we go on board
at that hour.

There is some pretense of shelter in the awning stretched over the
after part of the boat; but we do not feel the need of it in the fresh
morning air, and we get as near the bow as possible, that we may be
the very first to enjoy the famous beauty of the scenes opening
before us. A few sails dot the water, and everywhere there are small,
canopied row-boats, such as we went pleasuring in last night. We reach
a bend in the lake, and all the roofs and towers of the city of Como
pass from view, as if they had been so much architecture painted on
a scene and shifted out of sight at a theatre. But other roofs and
towers constantly succeed them, not less lovely and picturesque than
they, with every curve of the many-curving lake. We advance over
charming expanses of water lying between lofty hills; and as the lake
is narrow, the voyage is like that of a winding river,--like that of
the Ohio, but for the primeval wildness of the acclivities that guard
our Western stream, and the tawniness of its current. Wherever the
hills do not descend sheer into Como, a pretty town nestles on the
brink, or, if not a town, then a villa, or else a cottage, if there is
room for nothing more. Many little towns climb the heights half-way,
and where the hills are green and cultivated in vines or olives,
peasants' houses scale them to the crest. They grow loftier and
loftier as we leave our starting-place farther behind, and as we
draw near Colico they wear light wreaths of cloud and snow. So cool
a breeze has drawn down between them all the way that we fancy it to
have come from them till we stop at Colico, and find that, but for the
efforts of our honest engine, sweating and toiling in the dark
below, we should have had no current of air. A burning calm is in
the atmosphere, and on the broad, flat valley,--out of which a marshy
stream oozes into the lake,--and on the snow-crowned hills upon the
left, and on the dirty village of Colico upon the right, and on the
indolent beggars waiting to welcome us, and sunning their goitres at
the landing.

The name Colico, indeed, might be literally taken in English as
descriptive of the local insalubrity. The place was once large, but it
has fallen away much from sickness, and we found a bill posted in its
public places inviting emigrants to America on the part of a German
steamship company. It was the only advertisement of the kind I
ever saw in Italy, and I judged that the people must be notoriously
discontented there to make it worth the while of a steamship company
to tempt from home any of the home-keeping Italian race. And
yet Colico, though undeniably hot, and openly dirty, and tacitly
unhealthy, had merits, though the dinner we got there was not among
its virtues. It had an accessible country about it; that is, its woods
and fields were not impenetrably walled in from the vagabond foot;
and after we had dined we went and lay down under some greenly waving
trees beside a field of corn, and heard the plumed and panoplied maize
talking to itself of its kindred in America. It always has a welcome
for tourists of our nation wherever it finds us in Italy; and
sometimes its sympathy, expressed in a rustling and clashing of its
long green blades, or in its strong sweet perfume, has, as already
hinted, made me homesick, though I have been uniformly unaffected by
potato-patches and tobacco-fields. If only the maize could impart to
the Italian cooks the beautiful mystery of roasting-ears! Ah! then
indeed it might claim a full and perfect fraternization from its
compatriots abroad.

From where we lay beside the corn-field, we could see, through the
twinkling leaves and the twinkling atmosphere, the great hills across
the lake, taking their afternoon naps, with their clouds drawn like
handkerchiefs over their heads. It was very hot, and the red and
purple ooze of the unwholesome river below "burnt like a witch's
oils." It was indeed but a fevered joy we snatched from Nature there;
and I am afraid that we got nothing more comfortable from sentiment,
when, rising, we wandered off through the unguarded fields toward a
ruined tower on a hill. It must have been a relic of feudal times,
and I could easily believe it had been the hold of one of those wicked
lords who used to rule in the terror of the people beside peaceful and
happy Como. But the life, good or bad, was utterly gone out of it
now, and what was left of the tower was a burden to the sense. A few
scrawny blackberries and other brambles grew out of its fallen stones;
harsh, dust-dry mosses painted its weather-worn walls with their
blanched gray and yellow. From its foot, looking out over the valley,
we saw the road to the Splügen Pass lying white-hot in the valley; and
while we looked, the diligence appeared, and dashed through the dust
that rose like a flame before. After that it was a relief to stroll
in dirty by-ways, past cottages of saffron peasants, and poor stony
fields that begrudged them a scanty vegetation, back to the steamer
blistering in the sun.

Now indeed we were glad of the awning, under which a silent crowd of
people with sunburnt faces waited for the departure of the boat. The
breeze rose again as the engine resumed its unappreciated labors, and,
with our head toward Como, we pushed out into the lake. The company
on board was such as might be expected. There was a German
landscape-painter, with three heart's-friends beside him; there
were some German ladies; there were the unfailing Americans and
the unfailing Englishman; there were some French people; there were
Italians from the meridional provinces, dark, thin, and enthusiastic,
with fat silent wives, and a rhythmical speech; there were Milanese
with their families, out for a holiday,--round-bodied men, with blunt
square features, and hair and vowels clipped surprisingly short, there
was a young girl whose face was of the exact type affected in rococo
sculpture, and at whom one gazed without being able to decide whether
she was a nymph descended from a villa gate, or a saint come from
under a broken arch in a Renaissance church. At one of the little
towns two young Englishmen in knickerbockers came on board, who were
devoured by the eyes of their fellow-passengers, and between whom and
our kindly architect there was instantly ratified the tacit treaty of
non-intercourse which travelling Englishmen observe.

Nothing further interested us on the way to Como, except the gathering
coolness of the evening air; the shadows creeping higher and higher
on the hills; the songs of the girls winding yellow silk on the reels
that hummed through the open windows of the factories on the shore;
and the appearance of a flag that floated from a shallop before the
landing of a stately villa. The Italians did not know this banner, and
the Germans loudly debated its nationality. The Englishmen grinned,
and the Americans blushed in silence. Of all my memories of that hot
day on Lake Como, this is burnt the deepest; for the flag was that
insolent banner which in 1862 proclaimed us a broken people, and
persuaded willing Europe of our ruin. It has gone down long ago from
ship and fort and regiment, as well as from the shallop on the
fair Italian lake. Still, I say, it made Como too hot for us that
afternoon, and even breathless Milan was afterwards a pleasant



It was after sunset when we arrived in the birthplace of Palladio,
which we found a fair city in the lap of caressing hills. There are
pretty villas upon these slopes, and an abundance of shaded walks and
drives about the houses which were pointed out to us, by the boy who
carried our light luggage from the railway station, as the property of
rich citizens "but little less than lords" in quality. A lovely grove
lay between the station and the city, and our guide not only took us
voluntarily by the longest route through this, but, after reaching
the streets, led us by labyrinthine ways to the hotel, in order, he
afterwards confessed, to show us the city. He was a poet, though in
that lowly walk of life, and he had done well. No other moment of our
stay would have served us so well for a first general impression of
Vicenza as that twilight hour. In its uncertain glimmer we seemed
to get quite back to the dawn of feudal civilization, when Theodoric
founded the great Basilica of the city; and as we stood before
the famous Clock Tower, which rises light and straight as a mast
eighty-two metres into the air from a base of seven metres, the
wavering obscurity enhanced the effect by half concealing the tower's
crest, and letting it soar endlessly upward in the fancy. The Basilica
is greatly restored by Palladio, and the cold hand of that friend of
virtuous poverty in architecture lies heavy upon his native city in
many places. Yet there is still a great deal of Lombardic architecture
in Vicenza; and we walked through one street of palaces in which
Venetian Gothic prevailed, so that it seemed as if the Grand Canal had
but just shrunk away from their bases. When we threw open our window
at the hotel, we found that it overlooked one of the city gates, from
which rose a Ghibelline tower with a great bulging cornice, full of
the beauty and memory of times long before Palladio.

They were rather troublous times, and not to be recalled here in all
their circumstance; but I think it due to Vicenza, which is now little
spoken of, even in Italy, and is scarcely known in America, where her
straw-braid is bought for that of Leghorn, to remind the reader
that the city was for a long time a republic of very independent and
warlike stomach. Before she arrived at that state, however, she had
undergone a great variety of fortunes. The Gauls founded the city
(as I learn from "The Chronicles of Vicenza," by Battista Pagliarino,
published at Vicenza in 1563) when Gideon was Judge in Israel, and
were driven out by the Romans some centuries later. As a matter of
course, Vicenza was sacked by Attila and conquered by Alboin; after
which she was ruled by some lords of her own, until she was made
an imperial city by Henry I. Then she had a government more or less
republican in form till Frederick Barbarossa burnt her, and "wrapped
her in ashes," and gave her to his vicar Ecelino da Romano, who "held
her in cruel tyranny" from 1236 to 1259. The Paduans next ruled
her forty years, and the Veronese seventy-seven, and the Milanese
seventeen years; then she reposed in the arms of the Venetian Republic
till these fell weak and helpless from all the Venetian possessions
at the threat of Napoleon. Vicenza belonged again to Venice during the
brief Republic of 1848, but the most memorable battle of that heroic
but unhappy epoch gave her back to Austria. Now at last, and for the
first time, she is Italian. Vicenza is

  "Of kindred that have greatly expiated
  And greatly wept,"

and but that I so long fought against Ecelino da Romano, and the
imperial interest in Italy, I could readily forgive her all her past
errors. To us of the Lombard League, it was grievous that she should
remain so doggishly faithful to her tyrant; though it is to be granted
that perhaps fear had as much to do with her devotion as favor. The
defense of 1848 was greatly to her honor, and she took an active part
in that demonstration against the Austrians which endured from 1859
till 1866.

Of the demonstration we travellers saw an amusing phase at the
opera which we attended the evening of our arrival in Vicenza.
"Nabucodonosor" was the piece to be given in the new open-air theatre
outside the city walls, whither we walked under the starlight. It
was a pretty structure of fresh white stucco, oval in form, with some
graceful architectural pretensions without, and within very charmingly
galleried; while overhead it was roofed with a blue dome set with such
starry mosaic as never covered temple or theatre since they used to
leave their houses of play and worship open to the Attic skies. The
old Hebrew story had, on this stage brought so near to Nature, effects
seldom known to opera, and the scene evoked from far-off days the
awful interest of the Bible histories,--the vague, unfigured oriental
splendor--the desert--the captive people by the waters of the river of
Babylon--the shadow and mystery of the prophecies. When the Hebrews,
chained and toiling on the banks of the Euphrates, lifted their voices
in lamentation, the sublime music so transfigured the commonplaceness
of the words, that they meant all deep and unutterable affliction, and
for a while swept away whatever was false and tawdry in the show, and
thrilled our hearts with a rapture rarely felt. Yet, as but a moment
before we had laughed to see Nebuchadnezzar's crown shot off his head
by a squib visibly directed from the side scenes,--at the point when,
according to the libretto, "the thunder roars, and a bolt descends
upon the head of the king,"--so but a moment after some new absurdity
marred the illusion, and we began to look about the theatre at the
audience. We then beheld that act of _dimostrazioni_ which I have
mentioned. In one of the few boxes sat a young and very beautiful
woman in a dress of white, with a fan which she kept in constant
movement. It was red on one side, and green on the other, and gave,
with the white dress, the forbidden Italian colors, while, looked
at alone, it was innocent of offense. I do not think a soul in the
theatre was ignorant of the demonstration. A satisfied consciousness
was reflected from the faces of the Italians, and I saw two Austrian
officers exchange looks of good-natured intelligence, after a glance
at the fair patriot. I wonder what those poor people do, now they
are free, and deprived of the sweet, perilous luxury of defying their
tyrants by constant acts of subtle disdain? Life in Venetia must be
very dull: no more explosion of pasteboard petards; no more treason
in bouquets; no more stealthy inscriptions on the walls--it must be
insufferably dull. _Ebbene, pazienza_! Perhaps Victor Emanuel may
betray them yet.

A spirit of lawless effrontery, indeed, seemed to pervade the whole
audience in the theatre that night at Vicenza, and to extend to the
ministers of the law themselves. There were large placards everywhere
posted, notifying the people that it was forbidden to smoke in the
theatre, and that smokers were liable to expulsion; but except for
ourselves, and the fair patriot in the box, I think every body there
was smoking and the policemen set the example of anarchy by smoking
the longest and worst cigars of all. I am sure that the captive
Hebrews all held lighted cigarettes behind their backs, and that
Nebuchadnezzar, condemned to the grass of the field, conscientiously
gave himself up to the Virginia weed behind the scenes.

Before I fell asleep that night, the moon rose over the top of the
feudal tower, in front of our hotel, and produced some very pretty
effects with the battlements. Early in the morning a regiment of
Croats marched through the gate below the tower, their band playing
"The Young Recruit." These advantages of situation were not charged in
our bill; but, even if they had been, I should still advise my reader
to go, when in Vicenza, if he loves a pleasant landlord and a good
dinner, to the Hotel de la Ville, which he will find almost at his
sole disposition for however long time he may stay. His meals will be
served him in a vast dining-hall, as bare as a barn or a palace, but
for the pleasant, absurd old paintings on the wall, representing, as
I suppose, Cleopatra applying the Asp, Susannah and the Elders, the
Roman Lucrezia, and other moral and appetizing histories. I take it
there is a quaint side-table or two lost midway of the wall, and that
an old woodcut picture of the Most Noble City of Venice hangs over
each. I know that there is a screen at one end of the apartment behind
which the landlord invisibly assumes the head waiter; and I suspect
that at the moment of sitting down at meat, you hear two Englishmen
talking--as they pass along the neighboring corridor--of wine, in
dissatisfied chest-tones. This hotel is of course built round a court,
in which there is a stable and--exposed to the weather--a diligence,
and two or three carriages and a driver, and an ostler chewing straw,
and a pump and a grape-vine. Why the hotel, therefore, does not smell
like a stable, from garret to cellar, I am utterly at a loss to know.
I state the fact that it does not, and that every other hotel in Italy
does smell of stable as if cattle had been immemorially pastured in
its halls, and horses housed in its bed-chambers,--or as if its only
guests were centaurs on their travels.

From the Museo Civico, whither we repaired first in the morning, and
where there are some beautiful Montagnas, and an assortment of good
and bad works by other masters, we went to the Campo Santo, which is
worthy to be seen, if only because of the beautiful Laschi monument by
Vela, one of the greatest modern sculptors. It is nothing more than
a very simple tomb, at the door of which stands a figure in
flowing drapery, with folded hands and uplifted eyes in an attitude
exquisitely expressive of grief. The figure is said to be the portrait
statue of the widow of him within the tomb, and the face is very
beautiful. We asked if the widow was still young, and the custodian
answered us in terms that ought to endear him to all women, if not
to our whole mortal race,--"Oh quite young, yet. She is perhaps fifty
years old."

After the Campo Santo one ought to go to that theatre which Palladio
built for the representation of classic tragedy, and which is perhaps
the perfectest reproduction of the Greek theatre in the world. Alfieri
is the only poet of modern times, whose works have been judged worthy
of this stage, and no drama has been given on it since 1857, when the
"Oedipus Tyrannus" of Sophocles was played. We found it very silent
and dusty, and were much sadder as we walked through its gayly
frescoed, desolate anterooms than we had been in the Campo Santo. Here
used to sit, at coffee and bassett, the merry people who owned the now
empty seats of the theatre,--lord, and lady, and abbé--who affected
to be entertained by the scenes upon the stage. Upon my word, I
should like to know what has become, in the other world, of those poor
pleasurers of the past whose memory makes one so sad upon the scenes
of their enjoyment here! I suppose they have something quite as
unreal, yonder, to satisfy them as they had on earth, and that they
still play at happiness in the old rococo way, though it is hard to
conceive of any fiction outside of Italy so perfect and so entirely
suited to their unreality as this classic theatre. It is a Greek
theatre, for Greek tragedies; but it could never have been for
popular amusement, and it was not open to the air, though it had a
sky skillfully painted in the centre of the roof. The proscenium is a
Greek façade, in three stories, such as never was seen in Greece;
and the architecture of the three streets running back from the
proscenium, and forming the one unchangeable scene of all the dramas,
is--like the statues in the niches and on the gallery inclosing the
auditorium--Greek in the most fashionable Vicentine taste. It must
have been but an operatic chorus that sang in the semicircular space
just below the stage and in front of the audience. Admit and forget
these small blemishes and aberrations, however, and what a marvelous
thing Palladio's theatre is! The sky above the stage is a wonderful
trick, and those three streets--one in the centre and serving as
entrance for the royal persons of the drama, one at the right for
the nobles, and one at the left for the citizens--present unsurpassed
effects of illusion. They are not painted, but modeled in stucco. In
perspective they seem each half a mile long, but entering them you
find that they run back from the proscenium only some fifteen feet,
the fronts of the houses and the statues upon them decreasing in
recession with a well-ordered abruptness. The semicircular gallery
above the auditorium is of stone, and forty statues of marble crown
its colonnade, or occupy niches between the columns.


It was curious to pass, with the impression left by this costly and
ingenious toy upon our minds, at once to the amphitheatre in Verona,
which, next to the Coliseum, has, of all the works bequeathed us
by the ancient Roman world, the greatest claim upon the wonder and
imagination. Indeed, it makes even a stronger appeal to the fancy. We
know who built the Coliseum, but in its unstoried origin, the Veronese
arena has the mystery of the Pyramids. Was its founder Augustus,
or Vitellus, or Antoninus, or Maximian, or the Republic of Verona?
Nothing is certain but that it was conceived and reared by some mighty
prince or people, and that it yet remains in such perfection that the
great shows of two thousand years ago might take place in it to-day.
It is so suggestive of the fierce and splendid spectacles of Roman
times that the ring left by a modern circus on the arena, and absurdly
dwarfed by the vast space of the oval, had an impertinence which
we hotly resented, looking down on it from the highest grade of the
interior. It then lay fifty feet below us, in the middle of an ellipse
five hundred feet in length and four hundred in breadth, and capable
of holding fifty thousand spectators. The seats that the multitudes
pressed of old are perfect, yet; scarce a stone has been removed from
the interior; the aedile and the prefect might take their places again
in the balustraded tribunes above the great entrance at either end of
the arena, and scarcely see that they were changed. Nay, the victims
and the gladiators might return to the cells below the seats of the
people, and not know they had left them for a day; the wild beasts
might leap into the arena from dens as secure and strong as when first
built. The ruin within seems only to begin with the aqueduct, which
was used to flood the arena for the naval shows, but which is now
choked with the dust of ages. Without, however, is plain enough the
doom which is written against all the work of human hands, and which,
unknown of the builders, is among the memorable things placed in the
corner-stone of every edifice. Of the outer wall that rose high over
the highest seats of the amphitheatre, and encircled it with stately
corridors, giving it vaster amplitude and grace, the earthquake of six
centuries ago spared only a fragment that now threatens above one of
the narrow Veronese streets. Blacksmiths, wagon-makers, and workers
in clangorous metals have made shops of the lower corridors of the old
arena, and it is friends and neighbors with the modern life about it,
as such things usually are in Italy. Fortunately for the stranger, the
Piazza Bra flanks it on one hand, and across this it has a magnificent
approach. It is not less happy in being little known to sentiment, and
the traveller who visits it by moonlight, has a full sense of grandeur
and pathos, without any of the sheepishness attending homage to that
battered old coquette, the Coliseum, which so many emotional people
have sighed over, kissing and afterwards telling.

But he who would know the innocent charm of a ruin as yet almost
wholly uncourted by travel, must go to the Roman theatre in Verona.
It is not a favorite of the hand-books; and we were decided to see it
chiefly by a visit to the Museum, where, besides an admirable gallery
of paintings, there is a most interesting collection of antiques in
bronze and marble found in excavating the theatre. The ancient edifice
had been completely buried, and a quarter of the town was built over
it, as Portici is built over Herculaneum, and on the very top stood a
Jesuit convent. One day, some children, playing in the garden of one
of the shabby houses, suddenly vanished from sight. Their mother ran
like one mad (I am telling the story in the words of the peasant who
related it to me) to the spot where they had last been seen, and fell
herself into an opening of the earth there. The outcry raised by these
unfortunates brought a number of men to their aid, and in digging to
get them out, an old marble stairway was discovered. This was about
twenty-five years ago. A certain gentleman named Monga owned the land,
and he immediately began to make excavations. He was a rich man, but
considered rather whimsical (if my peasant represented the opinion
of his neighbors), and as the excavation ate a great deal of money
(_mangiava molti soldi_), his sons discontinued the work after his
death, and nothing has been done for some time, now. The peasant
in charge was not a person of imaginative mind, though he said the
theatre (supposed to have been built in the time of Augustus)
was completed two thousand years before Christ. He had a purely
conventional admiration of the work, which he expressed at regular
intervals, by stopping short in his course, waving both hands over the
ruins, and crying in a sepulchral voice, "_Qual' opera_!" However,
as he took us faithfully into every part of it, there is no reason to
complain of him.

We crossed three or four streets, and entered at several different
gates, in order to see the uncovered parts of the work, which could
have been but a small proportion of the whole. The excavation has been
carried down thirty and forty feet below the foundations of the modern
houses, revealing the stone seats of the auditorium, the corridors
beneath them, and the canals and other apparatus for naval shows, as
in the great Amphitheatre. These works are even more stupendous than
those of the Amphitheatre, for in many cases they are not constructed,
but hewn out of the living rock, so that in this light the theatre is
a gigantic sculpture. Below all are cut channels to collect and carry
off the water of the springs in which the rock abounds. The depth of
one of these channels near the Jesuit convent must be fifty feet below
the present surface. Only in one place does the ancient edifice rise
near the top of the ground, and there is uncovered the arched front
of what was once a family-box at the theatre, with the owner's name
graven upon the arch. Many poor little houses have of course been
demolished to carry on the excavations, and to the walls that joined
them cling memorials of the simple life that once inhabited them. To
one of the buildings hung a melancholy fire-place left blackened with
smoke, and battered with use, but witnessing that it had once been the
heart of a home. It was far more touching than any thing in the
elder ruin; and I think nothing could have so vividly expressed the
difference which, in spite of all the resemblances noticeable in
Italy, exists between the ancient and modern civilization, as that
family-box at the theatre and this simple fireside.

I do not now remember what fortunate chance it was that discovered
to us the house of the Capulets, and I incline to believe that we
gravitated toward it by operation of well-known natural principles
which bring travellers acquainted with improbabilities wherever they
go. We found it a very old and time-worn edifice, built round an
ample court, and we knew it, as we had been told we should, by the cap
carven in stone above the interior of the grand portal. The family,
anciently one of the principal of Verona, has fallen from much of its
former greatness. On the occasion of our visit, Juliet, very dowdily
dressed, looked down from the top of a long, dirty staircase which
descended into the court, and seemed interested to see us; while her
mother caressed with one hand a large yellow mastiff, and distracted
it from its first impulse to fly upon us poor children of sentiment.
There was a great deal of stable litter, and many empty carts standing
about in the court; and if I might hazard the opinion formed upon
these and other appearances, I should say that old Capulet has now
gone to keeping a hotel, united with the retail liquor business, both
in a small way.

Nothing could be more natural, after seeing the house of the Capulets,
than a wish to see Juliet's Tomb, which is visited by all strangers,
and is the common property of the hand-books. It formerly stood in a
garden, where, up to the beginning of this century, it served, says my
"Viaggio in Italia," "for the basest uses,"--just as the sacred prison
of Tasso was used for a charcoal bin. We found the sarcophagus under
a shed in one corner of the garden of the Orfanotrofio delle
Franceschine, and had to confess to each other that it looked like a
horse-trough roughly hewn out of stone. The garden, said the boy
in charge of the moving monument, had been the burial-place of the
Capulets, and this tomb being found in the middle of the garden, was
easily recognized as that of Juliet. Its genuineness, as well as its
employment in the ruse of the lovers, was proven beyond cavil by a
slight hollow cut for the head to rest in, and a hole at the foot "to
breathe through," as the boy said. Does not the fact that this relic
has to be protected from the depredations of travellers, who could
otherwise carry it away piecemeal, speak eloquently of a large amount
of vulgar and rapacious innocence drifting about the world?

It is well to see even such idle and foolish curiosities, however, in
a city like Verona, for the mere going to and fro in search of them
through her streets is full of instruction and delight. To my mind, no
city has a fairer place than she that sits beside the eager Adige, and
breathes the keen air of mountains white with snows in winter, green
and purple with vineyards in summer, and forever rich with marble.
Around Verona stretch those gardened plains of Lombardy, on which
Nature, who dotes on Italy, and seems but a step-mother to all
transalpine lands, has lavished every gift of beauty and fertility.
Within the city's walls, what store of art and history! Her
market-places have been the scenes of a thousand tragic or ridiculous
dramas; her quaint and narrow streets are ballads and legends full
of love-making and murder; the empty, grass-grown piazzas before
her churches are tales that are told of municipal and ecclesiastical
splendor. Her nobles sleep in marble tombs so beautiful that the dust
in them ought to be envied by living men in Verona; her lords lie in
perpetual state in the heart of the city, in magnificent sepulchres of
such grace and opulence, that, unless a language be invented full
of lance-headed characters, and Gothic vagaries of arch and finial,
flower and fruit, bird and beast, they can never be described. Sacred
be their rest from pen of mine, Verona! Nay, while I would fain bring
the whole city before my reader's fancy, I am loath and afraid to
touch any thing in it with my poor art: either the tawny river,
spanned with many beautiful bridges, and murmurous with mills afloat
and turned by the rapid current; or the thoroughfares with their
passengers and bright shops and caffès; or the grim old feudal towers;
or the age-embrowned palaces, eloquent in their haughty strength of
the times when they were family fortresses; or the churches with the
red pillars of their porticos resting upon the backs of eagle-headed
lions; or even the white-coated garrison (now there no more), with its
heavy-footed rank and file, its handsome and resplendent officers,
its bristling fortifications, its horses and artillery, crowding the
piazzas of churches turned into barracks. All these things haunt my
memory, but I could only at best thinly sketch them in meagre black
and white. Verona is an almost purely Gothic city in her architecture,
and her churches are more worthy to be seen than any others in North
Italy, outside of Venice. San Zenone, with the quaint bronzes on its
doors representing in the rudeness of the first period of art the
incidents of the Old Testament and the miracles of the saints--with
the allegorical sculptures surrounding the interior and exterior of
the portico, and illustrating, among other things, the creation of
Eve with absolute literalness--with its beautiful and solemn crypt
in which the dust of the titular saint lies entombed--with its minute
windows, and its vast columns sustaining the roof upon capitals of
every bizarre and fantastic device--is doubtless most abundant in that
Gothic spirit, now grotesque and now earnest, which somewhere appears
in all the churches of Verona; which has carven upon the façade of
the Duomo the statues of Orlando and Olliviero, heroes of romance, and
near them has placed the scandalous figure of a pig in a monk's robe
and cowl, with a breviary in his paw; which has reared the exquisite
monument of Guglielmo da Castelbarco before the church of St.
Anastasia, and has produced the tombs of the Scaligeri before the
chapel of Santa Maria Antica.

I have already pledged myself not to attempt any description of these
tombs, and shall not fall now. But I bought in the. English tongue, as
written at Verona, some "Notices," kept for sale by the sacristan,
"of the Ancient Churg of Our Lady, and of the Tombs of the most
illustrious Family Della-Scala," and from these I think it no
dereliction to quote _verbatim_. First is the tomb of San Francesco,
who was "surnamed the Great by reason of his valor." "With him the
Great Alighieri and other exiles took refuge. We see his figure
extended upon a bed, and above his statue on horsebac with the vizor
down, and his crest falling behind his shoulders, his horse covered
with mail. The columns and capitals are wonderful." "Within the
Cemetery to the right leaning against the walls of the church is the
tomb of John Scaliger." "In the side of this tomb near the wall of
Sacristy, you see the urn that encloses the ashes of Martin I.," "who
was traitorously killed on the 17th of October 1277 by Scaramello of
the Scaramelli, who wished to revenge the honor of a young lady of his
family." "The Mausoleum that is in the side facing the Place encloses
the Martin II.'s ashes.... This building is sumptuous and wonderful
because it stands on four columns, each of which has an architrave
of nine feet. On the beams stands a very large square of marble that
forms the floor, on which stands the urn of the Defunct. Four other
columns support the vault that covers the urn; and the rest is adorned
by facts of Old Testament. Upon the Summit is the equestrian statue as
large as life." Of "Can Signorius," whose tomb is the most splendid
of all, the "Notices" say: "He spent two thousand florins of gold,
in order to prepare his own sepulchre while he was yet alive, and
to surpass the magnificence of his predecessors. The monument is as
magnificent as the contracted space allows. Six columns support the
floor of marble on which it stands covered with figures. Six other
columns support the top, on that is the Scaliger's statues....
The monument is surrounded by an enclosure of red marble, with six
pillars, on which are square capitols with armed Saints. The rails of
iron with the Arms of the Scala, are worked with a beauty wonderful
for that age," or, I may add, for any age. These "rails" are an
exquisite net-work of iron wrought by hand, with an art emulous of
that of Nicolò Caparra at Florence. The chief device employed is a
ladder (_scala_) constantly repeated in the centres of quatre-foils;
and the whole fabric is still so flexible and perfect, after the lapse
of centuries, that the net may be shaken throughout by a touch. Four
other tombs of the Scaligeri are here, among which the "Notices"
particularly mention that of Alboin della Scala: "He was one of the
Ghibelline party, as the arms on his urn schew, that is a staircase
risen by an eagle--wherefore Dante said, _In sulla Scala porta il
santo Uccello_."

I should have been glad to meet the author of these delightful
histories, but in his absence we fared well enough with the sacristan.
When, a few hours before we left Verona, we came for a last look it
the beautiful sepulchres, he recognized us, and seeing a sketch-book
in the party, he invited us within the inclosure again, and then ran
and fetched chairs for us to sit upon--nay, even placed chairs for
us to rest our feet on. Winning and exuberant courtesy of the Italian
race! If I had never acknowledged it before, I must do homage to it
now, remembering the sweetness of the sacristans and custodians of
Verona. They were all men of the most sympathetic natures. He at San
Zenone seemed never to have met with real friends till we expressed
pleasure in the magnificent Mantegna, which is the pride of his
church. "What coloring!" he cried, and then triumphantly took us into
the crypt: "What a magnificent crypt! What works they executed
in those days, there!" At San Giorgio Maggiore, where there are a
Tintoretto and a Veronese, and four horrible swindling big pictures by
Romanino, I discovered to my great dismay that I had in my pocket but
five soldi, which I offered with much abasement and many apologies
to the sacristan; but he received them as if they had been so many
napoleons, prayed me not to speak of embarrassment, and declared that
his labors in our behalf had been nothing but pleasure. At Santa
Maria in Organo, where are the wonderful _intagli_ of Fra Giovanni da
Verona, the sacristan fully shared our sorrow that the best pictures
could not be unveiled as it was Holy Week. He was also moved with us
at the gradual decay of the _intagli_, and led us to believe that, to
a man of so much sensibility, the general ruinous state of the church
was an inexpressible affliction; and we rejoiced for his sake that it
should possess at least one piece of art in perfect repair. This was
a modern work, that day exposed for the first time, and it represented
in a group of wooden figures The Death of St. Joseph. The Virgin and
Christ supported the dying saint on either hand; and as the whole was
vividly colored, and rays of glory in pink and yellow gauze descended
upon Joseph's head, nothing could have been more impressive.


Parma is laid out with a regularity which may be called characteristic
of the great ducal cities of Italy, and which it fully shares with
Mantua, Ferrara, and Bologna. The signorial cities, Verona, Vicenza,
Padua, and Treviso, are far more picturesque, and Parma excels only in
the number and beauty of her fountains. It is a city of gloomy aspect,
says Valery, who possibly entered it in a pensive frame of mind, for
its sadness did not impress us. We had just come from Modena, where
the badness of our hotel enveloped the city in an atmosphere of
profound melancholy. In fact, it will not do to trust to travellers in
any thing. I, for example, have just now spoken of the many beautiful
fountains in Parma because I think it right to uphold the statement
of M. Richard's hand-book; but I only remember seeing one fountain,
passably handsome, there. My Lord Corke, who was at Parma in 1754,
says nothing of fountains, and Richard Lasells, Gent., who was there a
century earlier, merely speaks of the fountains in the Duke's
gardens, which, together with his Grace's "wild beasts" and "exquisite
coaches," and "admirable Theater to exhibit Operas in," "the Domo,
whose Cupola was painted by the rare hand of Corregio," and the church
of the Capuchins, where Alexander Farnese is buried, were "the Chief
thing to be seen in Parma" at that day.

The wild beasts have long ago run away with the exquisite coaches, but
the other wonders named by Master Lasells are still extant in Parma,
together with some things he does not name. Our minds, in going
thither, were mainly bent upon Correggio and his works, and while our
dinner was cooking at the admirable Albergo della Posta, we went
off to feast upon the perennial Hash of Frogs in the dome of the
Cathedral. This is one of the finest Gothic churches in Italy, and
vividly recalls Verona, while it has a quite unique and most beautiful
feature in the three light-columned galleries, that traverse the
façade one above another. Close at hand stands the ancient Baptistery,
hardly less peculiar and beautiful; but, after all, it is the work of
the great painter which gives the temple its chief right to wonder and
reverence. We found the fresco, of course, much wasted, and at first
glance, before the innumerable arms and legs had time to order and
attribute themselves to their respective bodies, we felt the
justice of the undying spite which called this divinest of frescos a
_guazzetto di rane_. But in another moment it appeared to us the most
sublime conception of the Assumption ever painted, and we did not find
Caracci's praise too warm where he says: "And I still remain stupefied
with the sight of so grand a work--every thing so well conceived--so
well seen from below--with so much severity, yet with so much judgment
and so much grace; with a coloring which is of very flesh." The height
of the fresco above the floor of the church is so vast that it
might well appear like a heavenly scene to the reeling sense of the
spectator. Brain, nerve, and muscle were strained to utter exhaustion
in a very few minutes, and we came away with our admiration only
half-satisfied, and resolved to ascend the cupola next day, and see
the fresco on something like equal terms. In one sort we did thus
approach it, and as we looked at the gracious floating figures of the
heavenly company through the apertures of the dome, they did seem to
adopt us and make us part of the painting. But the tremendous depth,
over which they drifted so lightly, it dizzied us to look into; and
I am not certain that I should counsel travellers to repeat our
experience. Where still perfect, the fresco can only gain from
close inspection,--it is painted with such exquisite and jealous
perfection,--yet the whole effect is now better from below, for the
decay is less apparent; and besides, life is short, and the stairway
by which one ascends to the dome is in every way too exigent. It is
with the most astounding sense of contrast that you pass from the
Assumption to the contemplation of that other famous roof frescoed by
Correggio, in the Monastero di San Paolo. You might almost touch
the ceiling with your hand, it hovers so low with its counterfeit of
vine-clambered trellis-work, and its pretty boys looking roguishly
through the embowering leaves. It is altogether the loveliest room
in the world; and if the Diana in her car on the chimney is truly a
portrait of the abbess for whom the chamber was decorated, she was
altogether worthy of it, and one is glad to think of her enjoying life
in the fashion amiably permitted to nuns in the fifteenth century.
What curious scenes the gayety of this little chamber conjures up, and
what a vivid comment it is upon the age and people that produced it!
This is one of the things that makes a single hour of travel worth
whole years of historic study, and which casts its light upon all
future reading. Here, no doubt, the sweet little abbess, with the
noblest and prettiest of her nuns about her, received the polite
world, and made a cheerful thing of devotion, while all over
transalpine Europe the sour-hearted Reformers were destroying pleasant
monasteries like this. The light-hearted lady-nuns and their gentlemen
friends looked on heresy as a deadly sin, and they had little reason
to regard it with favor. It certainly made life harder for them in
time, for it made reform within the Church as well as without, so that
at last the lovely Chamber of St. Paul was closed against the public
for more than two centuries.

All Parma is full of Correggio, as Venice is of Titian and Tintoretto,
as Naples of Spagnoletto, as Mantua of Giulio Romano, as Vicenza of
Palladio, as Bassano of Da Ponte, as Bologna of Guido Reni. I have
elsewhere noticed how ineffaceably and exclusively the manner of the
masters seems to have stamped itself upon the art of the cities where
they severally wrought,--how at Parma Correggio yet lives in all the
sketchy mouths of all the pictures painted there since his time. One
might almost believe, hearing the Parmesans talk, that his manner had
infected their dialect, and that they fashioned their lazy, incomplete
utterance with the careless lips of his nymphs and angels. They almost
entirely suppress the last syllable of every word, and not with
a quick precision, as people do in Venice or Milan, but with an
ineffable languor, as if language were not worth the effort of
enunciation; while they rise and lapse several times in each sentence,
and sink so sweetly and sadly away upon the closing vocable that the
listener can scarcely repress his tears. In this melancholy
rhythm, one of the citizens recounted to me the whole story of the
assassination of the last Duke of Parma in 1850; and left me as softly
moved as if I had been listening to a tale of hapless love. Yet it was
an ugly story, and after the enchantment of the recital passed away, I
perceived that when the Duke was killed justice was done on one of the
maddest and wickedest tyrants that ever harassed an unhappy city.

The Parmesans remember Maria Louisa, Napoleon's wife, with pleasant
enough feelings, and she seems to have been good to them after the
manner of sovereigns, enriching their city with art, and beautifying
it in many ways, besides doing works of private charity and
beneficence. Her daughter by a second marriage, the Countess
Sanvitali, still lives in Parma; and in one of the halls of the
Academy of Fine Arts the Duchess herself survives in the marble of
Canova. It was she who caused the two great pictures of Correggio,
the St. Jerome and the Madonna della Scodella, to be placed alone in
separate apartments hung with silk, in which the painter's initial A
is endlessly interwoven. "The Night," to which the St. Jerome is "The
Day," is in the gallery at Dresden, but Parma could have kept nothing
more representative of her great painter's power than this "Day." It
is "the bridal of the earth and sky," and all sweetness, brightness,
and tender shadow are in it. Many other excellent works of Correggio,
Caracci, Parmigianino, and masters of different schools are in this
gallery, but it is the good fortune of travellers, who have to see so
much, that the memory of the very best alone distinctly remains. Nay,
in the presence of prime beauty nothing else exists, and we found
that the church of the Steccata, where Parmigianino's sublime "Moses
breaking the Tables of the Law" is visible in the midst of a multitude
of other figures on the vault, really contained nothing at last but
that august and awful presence.

Undoubtedly the best gallery of classical antiquities in North Italy
is that of Parma, which has derived all its precious relics from the
little city of Valleja alone. It is a fine foretaste of Pompeii
and the wonders of the Museo Borbonico at Naples, with its antique
frescos, and marble, and bronzes. I think nothing better has come out
of Herculaneum than the comic statuette of "Hercules Drunk." He is in
bronze, and the drunkest man who has descended to us from the elder
world; he reels backward, and leers knowingly upon you, while one hand
hangs stiffly at his side, and the other faintly clasps a wine-cup--a
burly, worthless, disgraceful demigod.

The great Farnese Theatre was, as we have seen, admired by Lasells;
but Lord Corke found it a "useless structure" though immense. "The
same spirit that raised the Colossus at Rhodes," he says, "raised the
theatre at Parma; that insatiable spirit and lust of Fame which would
brave the Almighty by fixing eternity to the name of a perishable
being." If it was indeed this spirit, I am bound to say that it did
not build so wisely at Parma as at Rhodes. The play-house that Ranuzio
I. constructed in 1628, to do honor to Cosmo II. de' Medici (pausing
at Parma on his way to visit the tomb of San Carlo Borromeo), and that
for a century afterward was the scene of the most brilliant spectacles
in the world, is now one of the dismalest and dustiest of ruins. This
_Theatrum orbis miraculum_ was built and ornamented with the
most perishable materials, and even its size has shrunken as the
imaginations of men have contracted under the strong light of later
days. When it was first opened, it was believed to hold fourteen
thousand spectators; at a later _fête_ it held only ten thousand; the
last published description fixes its capacity at five thousand; and
it is certain that for many and many a year it has held only the stray
tourists who have looked in upon its desolation. The gay paintings
hang in shreds and tatters from the roof; dust is thick upon the seats
and in the boxes, and on the leads that line the space once flooded
for naval games. The poor plaster statues stand naked and forlorn amid
the ruin of which they are part; and the great stage, from which
the curtain has rotted away, yawns dark and empty before the empty


In that desperate depth of Hell where Dante beholds the Diviners
doomed to pace with backward-twisted faces, and turn forever on the
past the rainy eyes once bent too daringly on the future, the sweet
guide of the Tuscan poet points out among the damned the daughter of a
Theban king, and discourses to his charge:--

  Manto was she: through many lands she went
    Seeking, and paused where I was born, at last.
    Therefore I choose thou be on me intent
  A little. When from life her father passed,
    And they of Bacchus' city became slaves,
    Long time about the world the daughter cast.
  Up in fair Italy is a lake that laves
    The feet of Alps that lock in Germany:
    Benaco called....
  And Peschiera in strong harness sits
    To front the Brescians and the Bergamasques,
    Where one down-curving shore the other meets.
  There all the gathered waters outward flow
    That may not in Benaco's bosom rest,
    And down through, pastures green a river go.

       *       *       *       *       *

    As far as to Governo, where, its quest
  Ended at last, it falls into me Po.
    But far it has not sought before a plain
    It finds and floods, out-creeping wide and slow
  To be the steaming summer's offense and bane.
    Here passing by, the fierce, unfriendly maid
    Saw land in the middle of the sullen main,
  Wild and unpeopled, and here, unafraid
    Of human neighborhood, she made her lair,
    Rested, and with her menials wrought her trade,
  And lived, and left her empty body there.
    Then the sparse people that were scattered near
    Gathered upon that island, everywhere
  Compassed about with swamps and kept from fear.
    They built their city above the witch's grave,
    And for her sake that first made dwelling there
  The name of Mantua to their city gave.

To this account of the first settlement of Mantua Virgil adds a
warning to his charge to distrust all other histories of the city's
foundation; and Dante is so thoroughly persuaded of its truth, that
he declares all other histories shall be to him as so many lifeless
embers. Nevertheless, divers chroniclers of Mantua reject the
tradition here given as fabulous; and the carefullest and most
ruthless of these traces the city's origin, not to the unfriendly
maid, but to the Etruscan King Ocno, fixing the precise date of its
foundation at thirty years before the Trojan war, one thousand five
hundred and thirty-nine years after the creation of the world, three
hundred years before Rome, and nine hundred and fifteen years after
the flood, while Abimelech was judge in Israel. "And whoever," says
the compiler of the "Flower of the Mantuan Chroniclers" (it is a very
dry and musty flower, indeed), citing doughty authorities for all his
facts and figures,--"whoever wishes to understand this more curiously,
let him read the said authors, and he will be satisfied."

But I am as little disposed to unsettle the reader's faith in
the Virgilian tradition, as to part with my own; and I therefore
uncandidly hold back the names of the authorities cited. This
tradition was in fact the only thing concerning Mantuan history
present to my thoughts as I rode toward the city, one afternoon of a
pleasant Lombard spring; and when I came in sight of the ancient hold
of sorcery, with the languid waters of its lagoons lying sick at
its feet, I recognized at least the topographical truth of Virgil's
description. But old and mighty walls now surround the spot which
Manto found sterile and lonely in the heart of the swamp formed by the
Mincio, no longer Benaco; and the dust of the witch is multitudinously
hidden under the edifices of a city whose mighty domes, towers, and
spires make its approach one of the stateliest in the world. It is a
prospect on which you may dwell long as you draw toward the city, for
the road from the railway station winds through some two miles of flat
meadow-land before it reaches the gate of the stronghold which the
Italians call the first hope of the winner of the land, and the last
hope of the loser of Italy. Indeed, there is no haste in any of the
means of access to Mantua. It lies scarce forty miles south of Verona,
and you are three hours in journeying this distance in the placid
railway train,--a distance which Romeo, returning to Verona from his
exile in Mantua, no doubt travelled in less time. There is abundant
leisure to study the scenery on the way; but it scarcely repays the
perusal, for it lacks the beauty of the usual Lombard landscape.
The soil is red, stony, and sterile; the orchard-trees are scant and
slender, and not wedded with the caressing vines which elsewhere in
North Italy garland happier trees and stretch gracefully from trunk to
trunk. Especially the landscape looks sad and shabby about the little
village of Villafranca, where, in 1864, the dejected prospect seemed
incapable of a smile even in spring; as if it had lost all hope and
cheerfulness since the peace was made which confirmed Venetia to the
alien. It said as plainly as real estate could express the national
sentiment, "Come si fa? Ci vuol pazienza!" and crept sullenly out of
sight, as our pensive train resumed its meditative progress. No doubt
this poor landscape _was_ imbued, in its dull, earthy way, with a
feeling that the coming of Garibaldi would irrigate and fertilize it
into a paradise; as at Venice the gondoliers believed that his army
would bring in its train cheap wine and hordes of rich and helpless
Englishmen bent on perpetual tours of the Grand Canal without
understanding as to price.

But within and without Mantua was a strong argument against
possibility of change in the political condition of this part of
Italy. Compassed about by the corruption of the swamps and the
sluggish breadth of the river, the city is no less mighty in her
artificial defenses than in this natural strength of her position;
and the Croats of her garrison were as frequent in her sad, handsome
streets, as the priests in Rome. Three lakes secure her from approach
upon the east, north, and south; on the west is a vast intrenched
camp, which can be flooded at pleasure from one of the lakes; while
the water runs three fathoms deep at the feet of the solid brick walls
all round the city. There are five gates giving access by drawbridges
from the town to the fortressed posts on every side, and commanding
with their guns the roads that lead to them. The outlying forts, with
the citadel, are four in number, and are each capable of holding
from two to three thousand men. The intrenched camp, for cavalry and
artillery, and the barracks of the city itself, can receive a garrison
of from thirty to forty thousand men; and the measureless depths of
the air are full of the fever that fights in defense of Mantua, and
serves with equal zeal whoever is master of the place, let him be
French, Italian, or Austrian, so only that he have an unacclimated
enemy before him.

I confess that little of this formidable military knowledge burdened
me on the occasion of my visit to Mantua, and I have already confessed
that I was but very imperfectly informed of the history of the city.
But indeed, if the reader dealt candidly with himself, how much
could he profess to know of Mantuan history? The ladies all have
some erudite associations with the place as giving the term of
_mantua-making_ to the art of dress, and most persons have heard that
Mantua's law was once death to any he that uttered mortal drugs there,
and that the place was till a few years since an Austrian fortress
on the Mincio. Of Giulio Romano, and his works to Mantua, a good
many have heard; and there is something known to the reader of the
punctuated edition of Browning about Sordello. But of the Gonzagas of
Mantua, and their duchy, what do you know, gentle reader?

For myself, when in Mantua, I tried to make a virtue of my want of
information, and fancied that a sort of general ignorance was
more favorable to my enjoyment of what I saw there than thorough
acquaintance with the city's history would have been. It certainly
enabled me to accept all the poetic fiction of the custodians, and
to embroider with their pleasing improbabilities the business-like
succinctness of the guide-books; to make out of the twilight which
involved all impressions a misty and heroic picture of the Mantuan
past, wherein her great men appeared with a stately and gigantic
uncertainty of outline, and mixed with dim scenes of battle, intrigue,
and riot, and were gone before Fact could lay her finger on any shape,
and swear that it was called so, and did so and so. But even if there
had been neither pleasure nor profit in this ignorance, the means of
dispelling it are so scant in modern literature that it might well
have been excused in a far more earnest traveller. The difficulty,
indeed, which I afterwards experienced in trying to learn something of
Mantua, is my best excuse for writing of its history here.

I fancy that the few recent books on the subject are not in the hands
of most readers, and I have a comforting belief that scarcely a
reader of mine has been a reader of the "Grande Illustrazione de
Lombardo-Veneto."[Mantova e Sua Provincia, per 'Avvocato Bartolomeo
Arrighi: _Grande Illustrazione del Lombardo-Veneto, ossia Storia delle
Città, des Borghi, Communi, Castelli, etc., fino ai Tempi moderni.
Per Cura di Cesare Cantù, e a' altri Literati_. Milano, 1859.] Yet
I suppose that he forms some notion of this work from its title, and
figures to himself a physical bulk of six volumes,--large, abounding
in ill-printed wood-cuts, and having the appalling features which
repel our race from pictorial history-books generally.

The "Grande Illustrazione del Lombardo-Veneto" includes notice of all
those dear and famous cities of North Italy which we know,--of Verona,
Vicenza, Padua, Venice, Mantua, Modena, Brescia, Bergamo, and the
rest; but here we have only to do with the part which concerns Mantua.
This is written by the advocate Bartolomeo Arrighi, whose ingenious
avoidance of all that might make his theme attractive could not
be sufficiently celebrated here, and may therefore be left to the
reader's fancy. There is little in his paper to leaven statistical
heaviness; and in recounting one of the most picturesque histories,
he contrives to give merely a list of the events and a diagram of
the scenes. Whatever illustrated character in princes or people he
carefully excludes, and the raciness of anecdote and the flavor
of manner and epoch distil not into his compilation from the elder
historiographers. I have therefore to go back, in my present purpose,
to the authors whose substance he has desiccated; and with their help,
and that of one or two antiquated authors of this century, I shall try
to rehabilitate the ducal state of Mantua,

  "Which was an image of the mighty world,"

and present some shadow of its microcosmal life. The story has the
completeness of a tragedy; but it runs over many centuries, and it
ends like a farce, though it ends with a death. One feels, indeed,
almost as great satisfaction in the catastrophe as the Mantuans
themselves, who terminated their national existence and parted from
their last Duke with something like exultation.

As I recall my own impressions of the city, I doubt if any good or bad
fortune could rouse her to such positive emotion now. She seemed
sunken, that dull April evening of our visit, into an abiding lethargy;
as if perfect repose, and oblivion from the many-troubled past,--from
the renown of all former famine, fire, intrigue, slaughter, and
sack,--were to be preferred by the ghost of a once populous and haughty
capital to the most splendid memories of national life. Certainly, the
phantom of bygone Mantuan greatness did not haunt the idle tourists who
strolled through her wide streets, enjoying their quiet beauty and
regularity, and finding them, despite their empty, melancholy air, full
of something that reminded of home. Coming from a land where there is a
vast deal of length, breadth, and rectitude in streets, as well as human
nature, they could not, of course, feel that wonder in the Mantuan
avenues which inspired a Venetian ambassador, two centuries since, to
write the Serenest Senate in praise of their marvelous extent and
straightness; but they were still conscious of a certain expansive
difference from Gothic Verona and narrow Venice. The windows of the
ground-floors were grated to the prison-like effect common throughout
Italy; but people evidently lived upon the ground-floors, and at many of
the iron-barred windows fair young prisoners sat and looked out upon the
streets, or laughed and chatted together. About the open doorways,
moreover, people lounged gossiping; and the interiors of the
entry-halls, as they appeared to the passing glance, were clean, and had
not that forbidding, inhospitable air characteristic of most
house-entrances in North Italy. But sculptured Venice and Verona had
unfitted the travellers for pleasure in the stucco of Mantua; and they
had an immense scorn for the large and beautiful palaces of which the
before-quoted ambassador speaks, because they found them faced with
cunningly-moulded plaster instead of carven stone. Nevertheless, they
could not help a kind of half-tender respect for the old town. It shares
the domestic character of its scenes with the other ducal cities,
Modena, Parma, and Ferrara; and this character is, perhaps, proper to
all long and intensely municipalized communities. But Mantua has a
ghostly calm wholly its own; and this was not in the least broken that
evening by chatters at thresholds, and pretty laughers at grated
windows. It was very, very quiet. Perhaps half a score of carriages
rumbled by us in our long walk, and we met some scattered promenaders.
But for the most part the streets were quite empty; and even in the
chief piazza, where there was still some belated show of buying and
selling, and about the doors of the caffès, where there was a good deal
of languid loafing, there was no indecency of noise or bustle There were
visibly few people in the place, and it was in decay; but it was not
squalid in its lapse. The streets were scrupulously neat and clean, and
the stuccoed houses were all painted of that pale saffron hue which
gives such unquestionable respectability to New England towns. Before we
returned to our lodgings, Mantua had turned into twilight; and we walked
homeward through a placid and dignified gloom, nowhere broken by the
flare of gas, and only remotely affected, here and there, by the light
of lamps of oil, faintly twinkling in a disheartened Mantuan fashion.

If you turn this pensive light upon the yellow pages of those old
chronicles of which I spoke, it reveals pictures fit to raise both
pity and wonder for the past of this city,--pictures full of the glory
of struggles for freedom, of the splendor of wise princes, of the
comfort of a prosperous and contented people, of the grateful fruits
of protected arts and civilization; but likewise stained with images
of unspeakable filth and wickedness, baseness and cruelty, incredible
shame, suffering, and sin.

Long before the birth of Christ, the Gauls drive out the Etruscans
from Mantua, and aggrandize and beautify the city, to be in their turn
expelled by the Romans, under whom Mantua again waxes strong and fair.
In this time, the wife of a farmer not far from the city dreams a
marvelous dream of bringing forth a laurel-bough, and in due time
bears into the world the chiefest of all Mantuans, with a smile upon
his face. This is a poet, and they call his name Virgil. He goes from
his native city to Rome, when ripe for glory, and has there the good
fortune to win back his father's farm, which the greedy veterans of
Augustus, then settled in the Cremonese, had annexed to the spoils
bestowed upon them by the Emperor. Later in this Roman time, and only
three years after the death of Him whom the poet all but prophesied,
another grand event marks an epoch in Mantuan history. According to
the pious legend, the soldier Longinus, who pierced the side of Christ
as he hung upon the cross, has been converted by a miracle; wiping
away that costly blood from his spear-head, and then drawing his hand
across his eyes, he is suddenly healed of his near-sightedness, and
stricken with the full wonder of conviction. He gathers anxiously the
precious drops of blood from his weapon into the phial from which
the vinegar mixed with gall was poured, and, forsaking his life of
soldier, he wanders with his new-won faith and his priceless treasure
to Mantua, where it is destined to work famous miracles, and to be
the most valued possession of the city to all after-time. The saint
himself, preaching the Gospel of Christ, suffers martyrdom under
Tiberius; his tongue is cut out, and his body is burnt; and his ashes
are buried at Mantua, forgotten, and found again in after ages
with due signs and miraculous portents. The Romans give a civil
tranquillity to Mantua; but it is not till three centuries after
Christ that the persecutions of the Christians cease. Then the temples
of the gods are thrown down, and churches are built; and the city goes
forward to share the destinies of the Christianized empire, and be
spoiled by the barbarians. In 407 the Goths take it, and the Vandals
in their turn sack and waste it, and scatter its people, who return
again after the storm, and rebuild their city. Attila, marching to
destroy it, is met at Governo (as you see in Raphael's fresco in
the Vatican) by Pope Leo I., who conjures him to spare the city, and
threatens him with Divine vengeance if he refuse; above the pontiff's
head two wrathful angels, bearing drawn swords, menace the Hun with
death if he advance; and, thus miraculously admonished, he turns aside
from Mantua and spares it. The citizens successfully resist an attack
of Alboin; but the Longobards afterwards, unrestrained by the visions
of Attila, beat the Mantuans and take the city. From the Lombards the
Greeks, sent thither by the Exarch of Ravenna, captured Mantua
about the end of the sixth century; and then, the Lombards turning
immediately to besiege it again, the Greeks defend their prize long
and valiantly, but in the end are overpowered. They are allowed to
retire with their men and arms to Ravenna, and the Lombards dismantle
the city.

Concerning our poor Mantua under Lombard rule there is but little
known, except that she went to war with the Cremonese; and it may be
fairly supposed that she was, like her neighbors, completely involved
in foreign and domestic discords of every kind. That war with the
Cremonese was about the possession of the river Ollio; and the
Mantuans came off victors in it, slaying immense numbers of the enemy,
and taking some thousands of them prisoners, whom their countrymen
ransomed on condition of building one of the gates of Mantua with
materials from the Cremonese territory, and mortar mixed with water
from the disputed Ollio. The reader easily conceives how bitter a pill
this must have been for the high-toned Cremonese gentlemen of that

When Charlemagne made himself master of Italy, the Mantuan lands and
Mantuan men were divided up among the brave soldiers who had helped to
enslave the country. These warriors of Charlemagne became counts; and
the _contadini_, or inhabitants of each _contado_ (county), became
absolutely dependent on their will and pleasure. It is recorded (to
the confusion of those who think primitive barbarism is virtue) that
the corruption of those rude and brutal old times was great, that all
classes were sunk in vice, and that the clergy were especially venal
and abominable. After the death of Charlemagne, in the ninth century,
wars broke out all over Italy between the factions supporting
different aspirants to his power; and we may be sure that Mantua had
some share in the common quarrel. As I have found no explicit record
of this period, I distribute to the city, as her portion of the
calamities, at least two sieges, one capture and sack, and a
decimation by famine and pestilence. We certainly read that, fifty
years later, the Emperor Rudolph attacked it with his Hungarians, took
it, pillaged it, and put great part of its people to the sword. During
the siege, some pious Mantuans had buried (to save them from the
religious foe) the blood of Christ, and part of the sponge which had
held the gall and vinegar, together with the body of St. Longinus.
Most unluckily, however, these excellent men were put to the sword,
and all knowledge of the place of sepulture perished with them.

At the end of these wars Mantua received a lord, by appointment of the
Emperor, and the first lord's son married the daughter of the Duke
of Lorraine, from which union was born the great Countess Matilda.
Boniface was the happy bridegroom's name, and the wedding had a wild
splendor and profuse barbaric jollity about it, which it is pleasant
enough to read of after so much cutting and slashing. The viands were
passed round on horseback to the guests, and the horses were shod
with silver shoes loosely nailed on, that they might drop off and be
scrambled for by the people. Oxen were roasted whole, as at a Kentucky
barbecue; and wine was drawn from wells with buckets hung on silver
chains. It was the first great display of that magnificence of which
after princes of Mantua were so fond; and the wretched hinds out of
whose sweat it came no doubt thought it very fine.

Of course Lord Boniface had his wars. There was a plot to depose
him discovered in Mantua, and the plotters fled to Verona. Boniface
demanded them; but the Veronese answered stoutly that theirs was
a free city, and no man should be taken from it against his will.
Boniface marched to attack them; and the Veronese were such fools as
to call the Duke of Austria to their aid, promising submission to his
government in return for his help. It was then that Austria first put
her finger into the Italian _pasticcio_, where she kept it so many
centuries. But the Austrian governor whom the Duke set over the
Veronese made himself intolerable,--the Austrian governor always
does,--and they drove him out of the city. On this the Duke turns
about, unites with Boniface, takes Verona and sacks it.

An altogether pleasanter incident of Boniface's domination was the
miraculous discovery of the sacred relics, buried and lost during the
sack of Mantua by the Hungarians. The place of sepulture was revealed
thrice to a blind pauper in a dream. People dug where he bade them
and found the relics. Immediately on its exhumation the Blood wrought
innumerable miracles; and the fame of it grew so great, that the Pope
came to see it, attended by such concourse of the people that they
were obliged to sleep in the streets. It was an age that drew the
mantle of exterior devotion and laborious penances and pilgrimages
over the most hideous crimes and unnatural sins. But perhaps the poor
believers who slept in the streets of Mantua on that occasion were
none the worse for their faith when the Pope pronounced the Blood
genuine and blessed it. I am sure that for some days of enthusiasm
they abstained from the violence of war, and paused a little in that
career of vice and wickedness of which one reads in Italian history,
with the full conviction that Sodom and Gomorrah also were facts, and
not merely allegory. I have no doubt that the blind beggar believed
that Heaven had revealed to him the place where the Blood was buried,
that the Pope believed in the verity of the relic, and that the devout
multitudes were helped and uplifted in their gross faith by this
visible witness to the truth that Christ had died for them upon the
bloody tree. Poor souls! they had much to contend with in the way to
any good. The leaven of the old pleasure-making pagan civilization
was in them yet (it is in the Italians to this day); and centuries
of Northern invasion had made them fierce and cruel, without teaching
them Northern virtues. Nay, I question much if their invaders had so
many rugged virtues to teach as some people would have us think. They
seem to have liked well the sweet corruptions of the land, and the
studied debaucheries of ages of sin, and to have enjoyed them as
furiously and clumsily as bears do the hoarded honey of civilized

After the death of Boniface the lordship of Mantua fell to his famous
daughter, Matilda, of whom most have heard. She was a woman of strong
will and strong mind; she held her own, and rent from others with a
mighty hand, till she had united nearly all Lombardy under her
rule. She was not much given to the domestic affections; she had two
husbands (successively), and, if the truth must be told, divorced them
both: one because he wished to share her sovereignty, perhaps usurp
it; and the other because he was not warm enough friend of religion.
She had no children, and, indeed, in her last marriage contract it was
expressly provided that the spouses were to live in chastity together,
and as much asunder as possible, Matilda having scruples. She was
a great friend to learning,--founded libraries, established the
law schools at Bologna, caused the codification of the canon law,
corresponded with distant nations, and spoke all the different
languages of her soldiers. More than literature, however, she loved
the Church; and fought on the side of Pope Gregory VII in his wars
with the Emperor Henry IV. Henry therefore took Mantua from her in
1091, and up to the year 1111 the city enjoyed a kind of republican
government under his protection. In that year Henry made peace with
Matilda, and appointed her his vice-regent in Italy; but the Mantuans,
after twenty years of freedom, were in no humor to feel the weight of
the mailed hand of this strong-minded lady. She was then, moreover,
nigh to her death; and, hearing that her physicians had given her up,
the Mantuans refused submission. The great Countess rose irefully from
her deathbed, and, gathering her army, led it in person, as she always
did, laid siege to Mantua by land and water, entered the city in 1114,
and did not die till a year after. Such is female resolution.

The Mantuans now founded a republican government, having unlimited
immunities and privileges from the Emperor, whose power over them
extended merely to the investure of their consuls. Their republic was
democratic, the legislative council of nine rectors and three curators
being elective by the whole people. This government, or something like
it, endured for more than a century, during which period the Mantuans
seem to have done nothing but war with their neighbors in every
direction,--with the Veronese chiefly, with the Cremonese a good
deal, with the Paduans, with the Ferrarese, with the Modenese and the
Bolognese: indeed, we count up twelve of these wars. Like the English
of their time, the Mantuans were famous bowmen, and their shafts took
flight all over Lombardy. At the same time they did not omit to fight
each other at home; and it must have been a dullish kind of day
in Mantua when there was no street-battle between families of the
factious nobility. Dante has peopled his Hell from the Italy of this
time, and he might have gone farther and fared worse for a type of
the infernal state. The spectacle of these countless little Italian
powers, racked, and torn, and blazing with pride, aggression,
and disorder, within and without,--full of intrigue, anguish, and
shame,--each with its petty thief or victorious faction making war
upon the other, and bubbling over with local ambitions, personal
rivalries, and lusts,--is a spectacle which the traveller of to-day,
passing over the countless forgotten battle-fields, and hurried from
one famous city to another by railroad, can scarcely conjure up.
Parma, Modena, Bologna, Ferrara, Padua, Mantua Vicenza, Verona,
Bassano,--all are now at peace with each other, and firmly united in
the national sentiment that travellers were meant to be eaten alive
by Italians. Poor old cities! it is hard to conceive of their bygone
animosities; still harder to believe that all the villages squatting
on the long white roads, and waking up to beg of you as your diligence
passes, were once embroiled in deadly and incessant wars. Municipal
pride is a good thing, and discentralization is well; and we have to
thank these intensely local little states for genius triply crowned
with the glories of literature, art, and science, which Italy might
not have produced if she had been united, and if the little states had
loved themselves less and Italy more. Though, after all, there is
the doubt whether it is not better to bless one's obscure and happy
children with peace and safety, than to give to the world a score of
great names at the cost to millions of incalculable misery.

Besides their local wars and domestic feuds the Mantuans had
troubles on a much larger scale,--troubles, indeed, which the Emperor
Barbarossa laid out for all Italy. In Carlyle's History of Frederick
the Great you can read a pleasanter account of the Emperor's business
at Roncaglia about this time than our Italian chroniclers will give
you. Carlyle loves a tyrant; and if the tyrant is a ruffian and bully,
and especially a German, there are hardly any lengths to which that
historian will not go in praise of him. Truly, one would hardly
guess, from that picture of Frederick Redbeard at Roncaglia, with
the standard set before his tent, inviting all men to come and have
justice done them, that the Emperor was actually at Roncaglia for
the purpose of conspiring with his Diet to take away every vestige
of liberty and independence from miserable Italy. Among other cities
Mantua lost her freedom at this Diet, and was ruled by an imperial
governor and by consuls of Frederick's nomination till 1167, when she
joined the famous Lombard League against him. The leagued cities
beat the Emperor at Legnano, and received back their liberties by the
treaty of Costanza in 1183; after which, Frederick having withdrawn to
Germany, they fell to fighting among themselves again with redoubled
zeal, and rent their league into as many pieces as there had been
parties to it. In 1236 the Germans again invaded Lombardy, under
Frederick II.; and aided by the troops of the Ghibelline cities,
Verona, Padua, Vicenza, and Treviso, besieged Mantua, which
surrendered to this formidable union of forces, thus becoming once
more an imperial city, and irreparably fracturing the Lombard League.
It does not appear, however, that her ancient liberties were withdrawn
by Frederick II.; and we read that the local wars went on after this
with as little interruption as before. The wars went on as usual, and
on the old terms with Verona and Cremona; and there is little in
their history to interest us. But in 1256 the famous tyrant of Padua,
Eccelino da Romano, who aspired to the dominion of Lombardy, gathered
his forces, and went and sat down before Mantua. The Mantuans refused
to surrender at his summons; and Eccelino, who had very little notion
of what the Paduans were doing in his absence, swore that he would cut
down the vines in those pleasant Mantuan vineyards, plant new ones,
and drink the wine of their grapes before ever he raised the siege.
But meantime that conspiracy which ended in Eccelino's ruin had
declared itself in Padua, and the tyrant was forced to abandon the
siege and look to his dominion of other cities.

After which there was something like peace in Mantua for twenty years,
and the city waxed prosperous. Indeed, neither industry nor learning
had wholly perished during the wars of the republic, and the people
built grist-mills on the Mincio, and cultivated belles-lettres to
some degree. Men of heavier science likewise nourished, and we read of
jurists and astronomers born in those troublous days, as well as of a
distinguished physician, who wrote a ponderous dictionary of simples,
and dedicated it to King Robert of Naples. But by far the greatest
Mantuan of this time was he of whom readers have heard something from
a modern poet. He is the haughty Lombard soul, "in the movement of the
eyes honest and slow," whom Dante, ascending the inexplicable heights
of Purgatory, beheld; and who, summoning all himself, leaped to the
heart of Virgil when he named Mantua: "O Mantuan! I am Sordello, of
thine own land!"

Of Virgil the superstition of the Middle Ages had made a kind of
wizard, and of Sordello the old writers fable all manner of wonders;
he is both knight and poet, and has adventures scarcely less
surprising than those of Amadis of Gaul. It is pretty nearly certain
that he was born in 1189 of the Visconti di Goito, in the Mantuan
country, and that he married Beatrice, a sister of Eccelino, and had
amours with the youngest sister of this tyrant, the pretty Cunizza,
whom Dante places in his "Paradiso." This final disposition of
Cunizza, whom we should hardly think now of assigning a place among
the blest, surprised some people even in that day, it seems; for an
old commentator defends it, saying: "Cunizza was always, it is true,
tender and amorous, and properly called a daughter of Venus; but she
was also compassionate, benign, and merciful toward those unhappy ones
whom her brother cruelly tormented. Therefore the poet is right
in feigning to find her in the sphere of Venus. _For if the gentle
Cyprians deified their Venus, and the Romans their Flora, how much
more honestly may a Christian poet save Cunizza_." The lady, whose
salvation is on these grounds inexpugnably accomplished, was married
to Count Sanbonifazio of Padua, in her twenty-fourth year; and
Sordello was early called to this nobleman's court, having already
given proofs of his poetic genius. He fell in love with Cunizza, whom
her lord, becoming the enemy of the Eccelini, began to ill-treat. A
curious glimpse of the manners and morals of that day is afforded by
the fact, that the brothers of Cunizza conspired to effect her escape
with Sordella from her husband's court, and that, under the protection
of Eccelino da Romano, the lovers were left unmolested to their
amours. Eccelino, indeed, loved this weak sister with extraordinary
tenderness, and we read of a marvelous complaisance to her amorous
intrigues by a man who cared nothing himself for women. Cunizza lived
in one of her brother's palaces at Verona, and used to receive there
the visits of Sordello after Eccelino had determined to separate them.
The poet entered the palace by a back door, to reach which he must
pass through a very filthy alley; and a servant was stationed there to
carry Sordello to and fro upon his back. One night Eccelino took the
servant's place, bore the poet to the palace door, and on his return
carried him back to the mouth of the alley, where he revealed
himself, to the natural surprise and pain of Sordello, who could have
reasonably expected anything but the mild reproof and warning given
him by his truculent brother-in-law: "Ora ti basti, Sordello. Non
venir più per questa vile strada ad opere ancor più vili."--"Let this
suffice thee, Sordello. Come no more by this vile path to yet viler

It was probably after this amour ended that Sordello sat out upon his
travels, visiting most courts, and dwelling long in Provence, where
he learned to poetize in the Provençal tongue, in which he thereafter
chiefly wrote, and composed many songs. He did not, however, neglect
his Lombard language, but composed in it a treatise on the art of
defending towns. The Mantuan historian, Volta, says that some of
Sordello's Provençal poems exist in manuscript in the Vatican and
Chigi libraries at Rome, in the Laurentian at Florence, and the
Estense at Modena. He was versed in arms as well as letters, and
he caused Mantua to be surrounded with fosses five miles beyond her
walls; and the republic having lodged sovereign powers in his hands
when Eccelino besieged the city, Sordello conducted the defense with
great courage and ability, and did not at all betray the place to his
obliging brother-in-law, as the latter expected. Verci, from whose
"History of the Eccelini" we have drawn the account of Sordello's
intrigue with Cunizza, says: "The writers represent this Sordello as
the most polite, the most gentle, the most generous man of his time,
of middle stature, of beautiful aspect and fine person, of lofty
bearing, agile and dexterous, instructed in letters, and a good poet,
as his Provençal poems manifest. To these qualities he united military
valor in such degree that no knight of his time could stand before
him." He was properly the first Lord of Mantua, and the republic seems
to have died with him in 1284.

The madness which comes upon a people about to be enslaved commonly
makes them the agents of their own undoing. The time had now come for
the destruction of the last vestiges of liberty in Mantua, and the
Mantuans, in their assembly of the Four Hundred and Ninety, voted full
power into the hands of the destroyer. That Pinamonte Bonacolsi whom
Dante mentions in the twentieth canto of the "Inferno," had been
elected captain of the republic, and, feigning to fear aggression from
the Marquis of Ferrara, he demanded of the people the right to banish
all enemies of the state. This reasonable demand was granted, and
the captain banished, as is well known, all enemies of Pinamonte
Bonacolsi. After that, having things his own way, he began to favor
public tranquillity, abolished family feuds and the ancient amusement
of street-battles, and led his enslaved country in the paths of
material prosperity; for which he was no doubt lauded in his day
by those who thought the Mantuans were not prepared for freedom.
He resolved to make the captaincy of the republic hereditary in the
Bonacolsi family; and when he died, in 1293, his power descended to
his son Bordellone. This Bordellone seems to have been a generous and
merciful captain enough, but he loved ease and pleasure; and a rough
nephew of his, Guido Botticella, conspired against him to that degree
that Bordellone thought best, for peace and quietness' sake, to
abdicate in his favor. Guido had the customary war with the Marquis of
Ferrara, and then died, and was succeeded by his brother Passerino, a
very bad person, whose son at last brought his whole family to grief.
The Emperor made him vicar of Modena; and he used the Modenese very
cruelly, and shut up Francesco Pico and his sons in a tower, where he
starved them, as the Pisans did Ugolino. In those days, also, the Pope
was living at Avignon, and people used to send him money and other
comforts there out of Italy. An officer of Passerino's, being of
Ghibelline politics, attacked one of these richly laden emissaries,
and took his spoils, dividing them with Passerino. For this the Pope
naturally excommunicated the captain of Mantua, and thereupon his
neighbors made a great deal of pious war upon him. But he beat the
Bolognese, the most pious of his foes, near Montevoglio, and with his
Modenese took from them that famous bucket, about which Tassoni
made his great Bernesque epic, "The Rape of the Bucket" (_La Secchia
Rapita_), and which still hangs in the tower of the Duomo at Modena.
Meantime, while Passerino had done everything to settle himself
comfortably and permanently in the tyranny of Mantua, his worthless
son Francesco fell in love with the wife of Filippino Gonzaga.

According to the old Mantuan chronicles the Gonzagas were of a royal
German line, and had fixed themselves in the Mantuan territory in 770
where they built a castle beyond Po, and began at once to take part in
public affairs. They had now grown to be a family of such consequence
that they could not be offended with impunity, and it was a great
misfortune to the Bonacolsi that Francesco happened to covet Filippino
Gonzaga's wife. As to the poor lady herself, it is of infinite
consequence to her eternal health whether she was guilty or no, but to
us still on earth, it seems scarcely worth while to inquire, after so
great lapse of time. History, however, rather favors the notion of
her innocence; and it is said that Francesco, unable to overcome her
virtue, took away her good fame by evil reports. At the same time he
was greatly wroth--it is scarcely possible to write seriously of these
ridiculous, wicked old shadows--that this lady's husband should have
fallen in love with a pretty concubine of his, Bonacolsi's; and, after
publicly defaming Filippino's wife, he threatened to kill him for this
passion. The insult and the menace sank deep into the bitter hearts
of the Gonzagas; and the head of that proud race, Filippino's uncle,
Luigi Gonzaga, resolved to avenge the family dishonor. He was a secret
and taciturn man, and a pious adulator of his line has praised him
for the success with which he dissembled his hatred of the Bonacolsi,
while conspiring to sweep them and their dominion away. He won over
adherents among the Mantuans, and then made a league with Can Grande
of Verona to divide the spoils of the Bonacolsi; and so, one morning,
having bribed the guards to open the city gates, he entered Mantua
at the head of the banded forces. The population was roused with
patriotic cries of "Long live the Mantuan people!" and, as usual,
believed, poor souls, that some good was meant them by those who came
to overthrow their tyrants. The Bonacolsi were dreaming that pleasant
morning of anything but ruin, and they offered no resistance to the
insurrection till it burst out in the great square before the Castello
di Corte. They then made a feeble sally from the castle, but were
swiftly driven back, and Passerino, wounded to death under the great
Gothic archway of the palace, as he retreated, dropped from his
languid hands the bridle-rein of his charger and the reins of that
government with which he had so long galled Mantua. The unhappy
Francesco fled to the cathedral for protection; but the Gonzagas slew
him at the foot of the altar, with tortures so hideous and incredible,
that I am glad to have our friend, the advocate Arrighi, deny the fact
altogether. Passerino's brother, a bishop, was flung into a tower to
starve, that the Picos might be avenged; and the city of Mantua was

In that day, when you freed a city from a tyrant, you gave it up to be
pillaged by the army of liberation; and Mantua was now sacked by
her deliverers. Can Grande's share of the booty alone amounted to a
hundred thousand gold florins (about two hundred and fifty thousand
dollars). The Mantuans, far from imitating the ungrateful Paduans,
who, when the Crusaders liberated them from Eccelino, grudged these
brave fellows three days' pillage of their city, and even wished back
their old tyrant,--the Mantuans, we say, seemed not in the least
to mind being devoured, but gratefully elected the Gonzaga their
captain-general, and purchased him absolution from the Pope for his
crimes committed in the sack. They got this absolution for twenty
thousand gold florins; and the Pope probably sold it cheap,
remembering his old grudge against the Bonacolsi, whom the Gonzaga had
overthrown. All this was in the year of grace 1328.

I confess that I am never weary of reading of these good, heroic,
virtuous old times in Italy, and that I am here tempted to digress
into declamation about them. There is no study more curious and
interesting, and I am fond of tracing the two elements of character
visible in Italian society, and every individual Italian, as they flow
down from the remotest times to these: the one element, that capacity
for intellectual culture of the highest degree; the other element,
that utter untamableness of passion and feeling. The presence of these
contradictory elements seems to influence every relation of Italian
life;--to make it capable of splendor, but barren of comfort; to
endear beauty, but not goodness, to the Italian; to lead him to
recognize and celebrate virtues, but not to practice them; to produce
a civilization of the mind, and not of the soul.

When Luigi Gonzaga was made lord of Mantua, he left his castle beyond
Po, to dwell in the city. In this castle he had dwelt, like other
lords of his time, in the likeness of a king, spending regally and
keeping state and open house in an edifice strongly built about with
walls, encircled with ditches passable by a single drawbridge, and
guarded day and night, from castle moat to castle crest, by armed
vassals. Hundreds ate daily at his board, which was heaped with a rude
and rich profusion, and furnished with carven goblets and plate of
gold and silver. In fair weather the banquet-hall stood open to all
the winds that blew; in foul, the guests were sheltered from the storm
by curtains of oiled linen, and the place was lighted with torches
borne by splendidly attired pages. The great saloons of the castle
were decked with tapestries of Flanders and Damascus, and the floor
was strewn with straw or rushes. The bed in which the lord and lady
slept was the couch of a monarch; the household herded together in the
empty chambers, and lay upon the floor like swine. The garden-fields
about the castle smiled with generous harvests; the peasant lay
down after his toil, at night, in deadly fear of invasion from some
neighboring state, which should rob him of everything, dishonor his
wife and daughters, and slay him upon the smoking ruins of his home.

In the city to which this lord repaired, the houses were built
here and there at caprice, without numbers or regularity, and only
distinguished by the figure of a saint, or some pious motto painted
above the door. Cattle wandered at will through the crooked, narrow,
and filthy streets, which rang with the clamor of frequent feud, and
reeked with the blood of the embattled citizens; over all the squalor
and wickedness rose the loveliest temples that ever blossomed from
man's love of the beautiful, to the honor and glory of God.

In this time Crusaders went to take the Lord's sepulchre from the
infidel, while their brothers left at home rose against one another,
each petty state against its neighbor, in unsparing wars of rapine
and devastation,--wars that slew, or, less mercifully, mutilated
prisoners,--that snatched the babe from the embrace of its violated
mother, and dashed out its brains upon the desolated hearth. A
hopeless, hellish time of sack, plunder, murder, famine, plague, and
unnatural crime; a glorious age, in which flourished the gentlest and
sweetest poet that ever sang, and the grimmest and grandest that ever
upbraided a godless generation for its sins,--in which Petrarch was
crowned with laurel at Rome, and Dante wandered in despair from court
to court, learning in the bitterness of his exile's heart,

  "come sa di sale
  Lo pane altrui, e come è duro calle
  Lo scendere e il salir per l'altrui scale."

It was a time ignorant of the simplest comfort, but debauched with the
vices of luxury; in which cities repressed the license of their people
by laws regulating the length of women's gowns and the outlays
at weddings and funerals. Every wild misdeed and filthy crime was
committed, and punished by terrible penalties, or atoned for by fines.
A fierce democracy reigned, banishing nobles, razing their palaces,
and ploughing up the salt-sown sites; till at last, in the uttermost
paroxysm of madness, it delivered itself up to lords to be defended
from itself, and was crushed into the abjectest depths of slavery.
Literature and architecture flourished, and the sister arts were born
amid the struggles of human nature convulsed with every abominable

For nearly four hundred years the Gonzagas continued to rule the city,
which the first prince of their line, having well-nigh destroyed,
now rebuilt and restored to greater splendor than ever; and it is the
Mantua of the Gonzagas which travellers of this day look upon when
they visit the famous old city. Their pride and their wealth adorned
it; their wisdom and prudence made it rich and prosperous; their
valor glorified it; their crimes stain its annals with infamy; their
wickedness and weakness ruined it and brought it low. They were a
race full of hereditary traits of magnificence, but one reads their
history, and learns to love, of all their long succession, only one or
two in their pride, learns to pity only one or two in their fall. They
were patriotic, but the patriotism of despotic princes is self-love.
They were liberal--in spending the revenues of the state for the glory
of their family. They were brave, and led many nameless Mantuans
to die in forgotten battles for alien quarrels which they never

The succession of the Gonzagas was of four captains, ending in 1407;
four marquises, ending in 1484; and ten dukes, ending in 1708.

The first of the captains was Luigi, as we know. In his time the great
Gothic fabric of the Castello di Corte was built; and having rebuilt
the portions of the city wasted by the sack, he devoted himself,
as far as might be in that age, to the arts of peace; and it is
remembered of him that he tried to cure the Mantuan air of its
feverish unwholesomeness by draining the swampy environs. During his
time, Petrarch, making a sentimental journey to the birthplace of
Virgil, was splendidly entertained and greatly honored by him. For the
rest, Can Grande of Verona was by no means content with his hundred
thousand golden florins of spoil from the sack of the city, but
aspired to its seigniory, declaring that he had understood Gonzaga
to have promised him it as the condition of alliance against the
Bonacolsi. Gonzaga construed the contract differently, and had so
little idea of parting with his opinion, that he fought the Scaligero
on this point of difference till he died, which befell thirty years
after his election to the captaincy.

Him his son Guido succeeded,--a prince already old at the time of his
father's death, and of feeble spirit. He shared his dominion with his
son Ugolino, excluding the younger brothers from the dominion. These,
indignant at the partiality, one night slew their brother Ugolino at a
supper he was giving; and being thereupon admitted to a share in their
father's government, had no trouble in obtaining the pardon of the
Pope and Emperor. One of the murderers died before the father; the
other, named Ludovico, was, on the death of Guido, in 1370, elected to
the captaincy, and ruled long, wisely, and well. He loved a peaceful
life; and though the Emperor confirmed him in the honors conferred on
him by the Mantuans, and made him Vicar imperial, Ludovico declined to
take part with Ghibellines against Guelphs, remained quietly at home,
and spent himself much in good works, as if he would thus expiate his
bloody crime. He gathered artists, poets, and learned men about him,
and did much to foster all arts. In his time, Mantua had rest from
war, and grew to have twenty-eight thousand inhabitants; but it was
not in the nature of a city of the Middle Ages to be long without a
calamity of some sort, and it is a kind of relief to know that Mantua,
under this peaceful prince, was well-nigh depopulated by a pestilence.

In 1381 he died, and with his son Francesco the blood-letting began
again. Indeed, this captain spent nearly his whole life in war with
those pleasant people, the Visconti of Milan. He had married the
daughter of Barnabo Visconti, but discovering her to be unfaithful to
him, or believing her so, he caused her to be put to death, refusing
all her family's intercessions for mercy. After that, a heavy sadness
fell upon him, and he wandered aimlessly about in many Italian
cities, and at last married a second time, taking to wife Margherita
Malatesta. He was a prince of high and generous soul and of manly
greatness rare in his time. There came once a creature of the Visconti
to him, with a plot for secretly taking off his masters; but the
Gonzaga (he must have been thought an eccentric man by his neighbors)
dismissed the wretch with scornful horror. I am sure the reader will
be glad to know that he finally beat the Visconti in fair fight, and
(the pest still raging in Mantua) lived to make a pilgrimage to the
Holy Land. When he returned, he compiled the city's statutes, divided
the town into four districts, and named its streets. So he died.

And after this prince had made his end, there came another Francesco,
or Gianfrancesco, who was created Marquis of Mantua by the Emperor
Sigismund. He was a friend of war, and having been the ward of
the Venetian Republic (Venice was fond of this kind of trust, and
sometimes adopted princely persons as her children, among whom the
reader will of course remember the Queen of Cyprus, and the charming
Bianca Capello, whose personal attractions and singularly skillful
knowledge of the use of poisons made her Grand Duchess of Tuscany
some years after she eloped from Venice), he became the leader of
her armies on the death of Carmagnola, who survived the triumphal
reception given him by the Serenest Senate only a very short time. [It
seems scarcely worth while to state the fact that Carmagnola,
suspected of treasonable correspondence with the Visconti, was
recalled to Venice to receive distinguished honors from the republic.
The Senate was sitting in the hall of the Grand Council when he
appeared, and they detained him there with various compliments till
night fell. Then instead of lights, the Sbirri appeared, and seized
Carmagnola. "I am a dead man," he exclaimed, on beholding them. And
so indeed he was; for, three days after, he was led out of prison,
and beheaded between the pillars of the Piazzetta.] The Gonzaga
took Verona and Padua for the republic, and met the Milanese in many
battles. Venice was then fat and insolently profuse with the spoils
of the Orient, and it is probable that the Marquis of Mantua acquired
there that taste for splendor which he introduced into his hitherto
frugal little state. We read of his being in Venice in 1414, when the
Jewelers and Goldsmiths' Guild gave a tournament in the Piazza San
Marco, offering as prizes to the victorious lances a collar enriched
with pearls and diamonds, the work of the jewelers, and two helmets
excellently wrought by the goldsmiths. On this occasion the Gonzaga,
with two hundred and sixty Mantuan gentlemen, mounted on superb
horses, contested the prizes with the Marquis of Ferrara, at the
head of two hundred Ferrarese, equally mounted, and attended by their
squires and pages, magnificently dressed. There were sixty thousand
spectators of the encounter. "Both the Marquises," says Mutinelli
in his "Annali Urbani," "being each assisted by fourteen well-armed
cavaliers, combated valorously at the barrier, and were both judged
worthy of the first prize: a Mantuan cavalier took the second."

The Marquis Gonzaga was the first of his line who began that royal
luxury of palaces with which Mantua was adorned. He commenced the
Ducal Palace; but before he went far with the work, he fell a prey to
the science then much affected by Italian princes, but still awaiting
its last refinement from the gifted Lucrezia Borgia. The poor Marquis
was poisoned by his wife's paramour, and died in the year 1444.
Against this prince, our advocate Arrighi records the vandalism of
causing to be thrown down and broken in pieces the antique statue
of Virgil, which stood in one of the public places of Mantua, and of
which the head is still shown in the Museum of the city. In all times,
the Mantuans had honored, in diverse ways, their great poet, and at
certain epochs had coined money bearing his face. With the common
people he had a kind of worship (more likely as wizard than as poet),
and they celebrated annually some now-forgotten event by assembling
with songs and dances about the statue of Virgil, which was destroyed
by the uncle of the Marquis, Malatesta, rather than by the Marquis's
own order. This ill-conditioned person is supposed to have been
"vexed because our Mantuan people thought it their highest glory to be
fellow-citizens of the prince of poets." We can better sympathize with
the advocate's indignation at this barbarity, than with his blame of
Francesco for having consented, by his acceptance of the marquisate,
to become a prince of the Roman Empire. Mantua was thus subjected
to the Emperors, but liberty had long been extinguished; and the
voluntary election of the Council, which bestowed the captaincy on
each succeeding generation of the Gonzagas, was a mere matter of form,
and of course.

The next prince, Lodovico Gonzaga, was an austere man, and had been
bred in a hard school, if I may believe some of our old chroniclers,
whom, indeed, I sometimes suspect of being not altogether faithful. It
is said that his father loved his younger brother better than him,
and that Lodovico ran away in his boyhood, and took refuge with his
father's hereditary enemies, the Visconti. To make dates agree,
it must have been the last of these, for the line failed during
Lodovico's time, and he had wars with the succeeding Sforza. In the
day of his escapade, Milan was at war with Mantua and with Venice, and
the Marquis Gonzaga was at the head of the united armies, as we have
already seen. So the father and son met in several battles; though
the Visconti, out of love for the boy, and from a sentiment of piety
somewhat amazing in them, contrived that he should never actually
encounter his parent face to face. Lodovico came home after the wars,
wearing a long beard; and his mother called her son "the Turk," a
nickname that he never lost.

Il Turco was a lover of the arts and of letters, and he did many
works to enrich and beautify the city. He established the first
printing-office in Mantua, where the first book printed was the
"Decamerone" of Boccaccio. He founded a college of advocates, and he
dug canals for irrigation; and the prosperity of Mantuan manufacturers
in his time may be inferred from the fact that, when the King of
Denmark paid him a visit, in 1474, the merchants decked their shops
with five thousand pieces of fine Mantuan cloth.

The Marquis made his brilliant little court the resort of the arts and
letters; and hither from Florence came once the elegant Politian, who
composed his tragedy of "Orfeo" in Mantua, and caused it to be first
represented before Lodovico. But it must be confessed that this was
a soil in which art flourished better than literature, and that even
born Mantuan poets went off, after a while, and blossomed in other
air. The painter Mantegna, whom the Marquis invited from Padua, passed
his whole life here, painting for the Marquis in the palaces and
churches. The prince loved him, and gave him a house, and bestowed
other honors upon him; and Mantegna executed for Lodovico his famous
pictures representing the Triumph of Julius Cæsar. [Now at Hamilton
Court, in England.] It was divided into nine compartments, and, as a
frieze, went round the upper part of Lodovico's newly erected palace
of San Sebastian. Mantegna also painted a hall in the Castello di
Corte, called the Stanza di Mantegna, and there, among other subjects
of fable and of war, made the portraits of Lodovico and his wife. It
was partly the wish to see such works of Mantegna as still remained in
Mantua that took us thither; and it was chiefly this wish that carried
us, the morning after our arrival, to the Castello di Corte, or the
Ducal Palace. Our thirst for Mantegnas was destined to be in no degree
satisfied in this pile, but it was full of things to tempt us to
forget Mantegna, and to make us more and more interested in the
Gonzagas and their Mantua.

It is taken for granted that no human being ever yet gained an idea of
any building from the most artful description of it; but if the reader
cares to fancy a wide piazza, or open square, with a church upon the
left hand, immense, uninteresting edifices on the right, and an ugly
bishop's palace of Renaissance taste behind him, he may figure before
him as vastly and magnificently as he pleases the superb Gothic front
of the Castello di Corte. This façade is the only one in Italy that
reminds you of the most beautiful building in the world, the Ducal
Palace at Venice; and it does this merely by right of its short
pillars and deep Gothic arches in the ground story, and the great
breadth of wall that rises above them, unbroken by the second line of
columns which relieves and lightens this wall in the Venetian palace.
It stands at an extremity of the city, upon the edge of the broad
fresh-water lagoon, and is of such extent as to include within its
walls a whole court-city of theatre, church, stables, playground,
course for riding, and several streets. There is a far older edifice
adjoining the Castello di Corte, which Guido Bonacolsi began, and
which witnessed the bloody end of his line, when Louis Gonzaga
surprised and slew his last successor. But the palace itself is all
the work of the Gonzagas, and it remains the monument of their kingly
state and splendid pride.

It was the misfortune of the present writer to be recognized by the
_employé_ (formerly of Venice) who gives the permissions to travellers
to visit the palace, and to be addressed in the presence of the
_Custode_ by the dignified title to which his presence did so little
honor. This circumstance threw upon the Custode, a naturally tedious
and oppressive old man, the responsibility of being doubly prolix and
garrulous. He reveled in his office of showing the palace, and did
homage to the visitor's charge and nation by an infinite expansion
upon all possible points of interest, lest he should go away
imperfectly informed of anything. By dint of frequent encounter with
strangers, this Custode had picked up many shreds and fragments
of many languages, and did not permit the travellers to consider
themselves as having at all understood him until he had repeated
everything in Italian, English, French, and German. He led the
way with his polyglot babble through an endless number of those
magnificent and uninteresting chambers which palaces seem specially
built to contain, that men may be content to dwell in the humbler
dullness of their own houses; and though the travellers often prayed
him to show them the apartments containing the works of Mantegna,
they really got to see nothing of this painter's in the Ducal Palace,
except, here and there, some evanescent frescoes, which the Custode
would not go beyond a _si crede_ in attributing to him. Indeed, it is
known that the works of Mantegna suffered grievously in the wars of
the last century, and his memory has faded so dim in this palace where
he wrought, that the guide could not understand the curiosity of the
foreigners concerning the old painter; and certainly Giulio Romano has
stamped himself more ineffaceably than Mantegna upon Mantua.

In the Ducal Palace are seen vividly contrasted the fineness and
strength, the delicacy and courage of the fancy, which, rather than
the higher gift of imagination, characterize Giulio's work. There is
such an airy refinement and subtile grace in the pretty grotesques
with which he decorates a chamber; there is such daring luxury of
color and design in the pictures for which his grand halls are merely
the frames. No doubt I could make fine speeches about these paintings;
but who, not seeing them, would be the wiser, after the best
description and the choicest critical disquisition? In fact, our
travellers themselves found it pleasanter, after a while, to yield to
the guidance of the Custode, and to enjoy the stupider marvels of the
place, than to do the set and difficult admiration of the works of
art. So, passing the apartments in good preservation (the Austrian
Emperors had taken good care of some parts of the palace of one of
their first Italian possessions), they did justice to the splendor
of the satin beds and the other upholstery work; they admired rich
carpentering and costly toys; they dwelt on marvelous tapestries
(among which the tapestry copies of Raphael's cartoons, woven at
Mantua in the fifteenth century, are certainly worthy of wonder);
and they expressed the proper amazement at the miracles of art which
caused figures frescoed in the ceilings to turn with them, and follow
and face them from whatever part of the room they chose to look. Nay,
they even enjoyed the Hall of the Rivers, on the sides of which the
usual river-gods were painted, in the company of the usual pottery,
from which they pour their founts, and at the end of which there
was an abominable little grotto of what people call, in modern
landscape-gardening, rock-work, out of the despair with which its
unmeaning ugliness fills them. There were busts of several Mantuan
duchesses in the gallery, which were interesting, and the pictures
were so bad as to molest no one. There was, besides all this, a
hanging garden in this small Babylon, on which the travellers looked
with a doleful regret that they were no longer of the age when a
hanging garden would have brought supreme comfort to the soul. It
occupied a spacious oblong, had a fountain and statues, trees and
flowers, and would certainly have been taken for the surface of the
earth, had not the Custode proudly pointed out that it was on a level
with the second floor, on which they stood.

After that they wandered through a series of unused, dismantled
apartments and halls, melancholy with faded fresco, dropping stucco,
and mutilated statues of plaster, and came at last upon a balcony
overlooking the Cavallerizza, which one of the early dukes built after
a design by the inevitable Giulio Romano. It is a large square, and
was meant for the diversion of riding on horseback. Balconies go all
found it between those thick columns, finely twisted, as we see
them in that cartoon of Raphael, "The Healing of the Lame Man at the
Beautiful Gate of the Temple"; and here once stood the jolly dukes and
the jolly ladies of their light-hearted court, and there below rode
the gay, insolent, intriguing courtiers, and outside groaned the
city under the heavy extortions of the tax-gatherers. It is all in
weather-worn stucco, and the handsome square is planted with trees.
The turf was now cut and carved by the heavy wheels of the Austrian
baggage-wagons constantly passing through the court to carry munitions
to the fortress outside, whose black guns grimly overlook the dead
lagoon. A sense of desolation had crept over the sight-seers, with
that strange sickness of heart which one feels in the presence of ruin
not to be lamented, and which deepened into actual pain as the Custode
clapped his hands and the echo buffeted itself against the forlorn
stucco, and up from the trees rose a score of sullen, slumberous owls,
and flapped heavily across the lonesome air with melancholy cries. It
only needed, to crush these poor strangers, that final touch which the
Custode gave, as they passed from the palace through the hall in which
are painted the Gonzagas, and in which he pointed out the last Duke of
Mantua, saying he was deposed by the Emperor for felony, and somehow
conveying the idea of horse-stealing and counterfeiting on the part of
his Grace.

A very different man from this rogue was our old friend Lodovico, who
also, however, had his troubles. He was an enemy of the Ghibellines,
and fought them a great deal. Of course he had the habitual wars with
Milan, and he was obliged to do battle with his own brother Carlo
to some extent. This Gonzaga had been taken prisoner by Sforza; and
Lodovico, having paid for him a ransom of sixty thousand florins of
gold (which Carlo was scarcely worth), seized the fraternal lands, and
held them in pledge of repayment. Carlo could not pay, and tried
to get back his possessions by war. Vexed with these and other
contentions, Lodovico was also unhappy in his son, whose romance I
may best tell in the words of the history [Volta: _Storia di Mantova_.],
from which I take it:

    "Lodovico Gonzaga, having agreed with the Duke of Bavaria to
    take his daughter Margherita as wife for his (Lodovico's)
    first-born, Federico, and the young man having refused her,
    Lodovico was so much enraged that he sought to imprison him;
    but the Marchioness Barbara, mother of Federico, caused him to
    fly from the city till his father's anger should be abated.
    Federico departed with six attendants [The _Fioretto delle
    Cronache_ says "persons of gentle condition."]; but this flight
    caused still greater displeasure to his father, who now
    declared him banished, and threatened with heavy penalties any
    one who should give him help or favor. Federico, therefore,
    wandered about with these six attendants in diverse places, and
    finally arrived in Naples; but having already spent all his
    substance, and not daring to make himself known for fear of his
    father, he fell into great want, and so into severe sickness.
    His companions having nothing wherewith to live, and not
    knowing any trade by which to gain their bread, did menial
    services fit for day-laborers, and sustained their lord with
    their earnings, he remaining hidden in a poor woman's house
    where they all dwelt.

    "The Marchioness had sent many messengers in divers provinces
    with money to find her son, but they never heard any news of
    him; so that they thought him dead, not hearing anything,
    either, of his attendants. Now it happened that one of those
    who sought Federico came to Naples, and presented himself to
    the king with a letter from the said lady, praying that he
    should make search in his territory for a company of seven men,
    giving the name and description of each. The king caused this
    search to be made by the heads of the district; and one of
    these heads told how in his district there were six Lombard men
    (not knowing of Federico, who lay ill), but that they were
    laborers and of base condition. The king determined to see
    them; and they being come before him, he demanded who they
    were, and how many; as they were not willing to discover their
    lord, on being asked their names they gave others, so that the
    king, not being able to learn anything, would have dismissed
    them. But the messenger sent by the Marchioness knew them, and
    said to the king, 'Sire, these are the attendants of him whom I
    seek; but they have changed their names.' The king caused them
    to be separated one from another, and then asked them of their
    Lord; and they, finding themselves separated, minutely narrated
    everything; and the king immediately sent for Federico, whom
    his officers found miserably ill on a heap of straw. He was
    brought to the palace, where the king ordered him to be cared
    for, sending the messenger back to his mother to advise her how
    the men had been found and in what great misery. The
    Marchioness went to her husband, and, having cast herself at
    his feet, besought him of a grace. The Marquis answered that he
    would grant everything, so it did not treat of Federico. Then
    the lady opened him the letter of the king of Naples, which had
    such effect that it softened the soul of the Marquis, showing
    him in how great misery his son had been; and so, giving the
    letter to the Marchioness, he said, 'Do that which pleases
    you.' The Marchioness straightway sent the prince money, and
    clothes to clothe him, in order that he should return to
    Mantua; and having come, the son cast himself at his father's
    feet, imploring pardon for himself and for his attendants; and
    he pardoned them, and gave those attendants enough to live
    honorably and like noblemen, and they were called The Faithful
    of the House of Gonzaga, and from them come the _Fedeli_ of

    "The Marquis then, not to break faith, caused Federico to take
    Margherita, daughter of the Duke of Bavaria, for his wife, and
    celebrated the nuptials splendidly; so that there remained the
    greatest love between father and son."

The son succeeded to the father's dominion in 1478; and it is recorded
of him in the "Flower of the Chronicles," that he was a hater of
idleness, and a just man, greatly beloved by his people. They chiefly
objected to him that he placed a Jew, Eusebio Malatesta, at the head
of civil affairs; and this Jew was indeed the cause of great mischief:
for Ridolfo Gonzaga coming to reside with his wife for a time at the
court of his brother, the Marquis, Malatesta fell in love with
her. She repelled him, and the bitter Jew thereupon so poisoned her
husband's mind with accusations against her chastity, that he took her
home to his town of Lazzaro, and there put the unhappy and innocent
lady to death by the headsman's hand in the great square of the city.

Federico was Marquis only six years, and died in 1484, leaving
his marquisate to his son Francesco, the most ambitious, warlike,
restless, splendid prince of his magnificent race. This Gonzaga wore a
beard, and brought the custom into fashion in Italy again. He founded
the famous breed of Mantuan horses, and gave them about free-handedly
to other sovereigns of his acquaintance. To the English king he
presented a steed which, if we may trust history, could have been sold
for almost its weight in gold. He was so fond of hunting that he kept
two hundred dogs of the chase, and one hundred and fifty birds of

Of course this Gonzaga was a soldier, and indeed he loved war better
even than hunting, and delighted so much in personal feats of arms
that, concealing his name and quality, in order that the combat should
be in all things equal, he was wont to challenge renowned champions
wherever he heard of them, and to meet them in the lists. Great part
of his life was spent in the field; and he fought in turn on nearly
all sides of the political questions then agitating Italy. In 1495
he was at the head of the Venetian and other Italian troops when they
beat the French under Charles VIII. at Taro, and made so little use
of their victory as to let their vanquished invaders escape from them
after all. Nevertheless, if the Gonzaga did not here show himself a
great general, he did great feats of personal valor, penetrating to
the midst of the French forces, wounding the king, and with his own
hand taking prisoner the great Bastard of Bourbon. Venice paid him
ten thousand ducats for gaining the victory, such as it was, and when
peace was made he went to visit the French king at Vercelli; and there
Charles gave his guest a present of two magnificent horses, which the
Gonzaga returned yet more splendidly in kind. About five years later
he was again at war with the French, and helped the Aragonese drive
them out of Naples. In 1506, Pope Julius II. made him leader of the
armies of the Church (for he had now quitted the Venetian service),
and he reduced the city of Bologna to obedience to the Holy See. In
1509 he joined the League of Cambray against Venice, and, being made
Imperial Captain-General, was taken prisoner by the Venetians. They
liberated him, however, the following year; and in 1513 we find him at
the head of the league against the French.

A curious anecdote of this Gonzaga's hospitality is also illustrative
of the anomalous life of those times, when good faith had as little
to do with the intercourse of nations as at present; but good fortune,
when she appeared in the world, liked to put on a romantic and
melodramatic guise. An ambassador from the Grand Turk on his way to
Rome was taken by an enemy of the Pope, despoiled of all his money,
and left planted, as the Italians expressively say, at Ancona.
This ambassador was come to concert with Alexander VI. the death of
Bajazet's brother, prisoner in the Pope's hands, and he bore the Pope
a present of 50,000 gold ducats. It was Gian Della Rovere who seized
and spoiled him, and sent the papers (letters of the Pope and Sultan)
to Charles VIII. of France, to whom Alexander had been obliged to give
the Grand Turk's brother. The magnificent Gonzaga hears of the Turk's
embarrassing mischance, sends and fetches him to Mantua, clothes him,
puts abundant money in his purse, and dispatches him on his way. The
Sultan, in reward of this courtesy to his servant, gave a number of
fine horses to the Marquis, who, possibly being tired of presenting
his own horses, returned the Porte a ship-load of excellent Mantuan
cheeses. This interchange of compliments seems to have led to a kind
of romantic friendship between the Gonzaga and the Grand Turk, who did
occasionally interest himself in the affairs of the Christian dogs;
and who, when Francesco lay prisoner at Venice, actually wrote to the
Serenest Senate, and asked his release as a personal grace to him, the
Grand Turk. And Francesco was, thereupon, let go; the canny republic
being willing to do the Sultan any sort of cheap favor.

This Gonzaga, being so much engaged in war, seems to have had little
time for the adornment of his capital. The Church of Our Lady of
Victory is the only edifice which he added to it; and this was merely
in glorification of his own triumph over the French at Taro. Mantegna
painted an altar-piece for it, representing the Marquis and his wife
on their knees before the Virgin, in act of rendering her thanks for
the victory. The French nation avenged itself for whatever wrong was
done its pride in this picture by stealing it away from Mantua in
Napoleon's time; and it now hangs in the gallery of the Louvre.

Francesco died in 1519; and after him his son, Federico II., the first
Duke of Mantua, reigned some twenty-one years, and died in 1540. The
marquisate in his time was made a duchy by the Emperor Charles V.,
to whom the Gonzaga had given efficient aid in his wars against the
French. This was in the year 1530; and three years later, when the
Duke of Monferrato died, and the inheritance of his opulent little
state was disputed by the Duke of Savoy, by the Marquis of Saluzzo,
and by the Gonzaga, who had married the late Duke's daughter,
Charles's influence secured it to the Mantuan. The dominions of the
Gonzagas had now reached their utmost extent, and these dominions
were not curtailed till the deposition of Fernando Carlo in 1708, when
Monferrato was adjudged to the Duke of Savoy, and afterwards confirmed
to him by treaty. It was separated from the capital of the Gonzagas by
a wide extent of alien territory, but they held it with a strong
hand, embellished the city, and founded there the strongest citadel in

Federico, after his wars for the Emperor, appears to have reposed in
peace for the rest of his days, and to have devoted himself to the
adornment of Mantua and the aggrandizing of his family. His court
was the home of many artists; and Titian painted for him the Twelve
Cæsars, which the Germans stole when they sacked the city in 1630.
But his great agent and best beloved genius was Giulio Pippi, called
Romano, who was conducted to Mantua by pleasant Count Baldassare

Pleasant Count Baldassare Castiglione! whose incomparable book of the
"Cortigiano" succeeded in teaching his countrymen every gentlemanly
grace but virtue. He was born at Casatico in the Mantovano, in the
year 1476, and went in his boyhood to be schooled at Milan, where he
learnt the profession of arms. From Milan he went to Rome, where
he exercised his profession of arms till the year 1504, when he was
called to gentler uses at the court of the elegant Dukes of Urbino. He
lived there as courtier and court-poet, and he returned to Rome as the
ambassador from Urbino. Meantime his liege, Francesco Gonzaga, was but
poorly pleased that so brilliant a Mantuan should spend his life in
the service and ornament of other princes, and Castiglione came back
to his native country about the year 1516. He married in Mantua, and
there finished his famous book of "The Courtier," and succeeded in
winning back the favor of his prince. Federico, the Duke, made him
ambassador to Rome in 1528; and Baldassare did his master two signal
services there,--he procured him to be named head of all the Papal
forces, and he found him Giulio Romano. So the Duke suffered him to
go as the Pope's Nuncio to Spain, and Baldassare finished his courtly
days at Toledo in 1529.

The poet made a detour to Mantua on his way to Spain, taking with
him the painter, whom the Duke received with many caresses, as Vasari
says, presented him a house honorably furnished, ordered provision for
him and his pupils, gave them certain brave suits of velvet and satin,
and, seeing that Giulio had no horse, called for his own favorite
Luggieri, and bestowed it on him. Ah! they knew how to receive
painters, those fine princes, who had merely to put their hands into
their people's pocket, and take out what florins they liked. So the
Duke presently set the artist to work, riding out with him through the
gate of San Bastiano to some stables about a bow-shot from the walls,
in the midst of a flat meadow, where he told Giulio that he would be
glad (if it could be done without destroying the old walls) to have
such buildings added to the stables as would serve him for a kind of
lodge, to come out and merrily sup in when he liked. Whereupon Giulio
began to think out the famous Palazzo del T.

This painter is an unlucky kind of man, to whom all criticism seems
to have agreed to attribute great power and deny great praise.
Castiglione had found him at Rome, after the death of his master
Raphael, when his genius, for good or for ill, began for the first
time to find original expression. At Mantua, where he spent all the
rest of his busy life, it is impossible not to feel in some degree
the force of this genius. As in Venice all the Madonnas in the
street-corner shrines have some touch of color to confess the
painter's subjection to Titian or Tintoretto; as in Vicenza the
edifices are all in Greekish taste, and stilted upon pedestals in
honor and homage to Palladio; as in Parma Correggio has never died,
but lives to this day in the mouths and chiaroscuro effects of all the
figures in all the pictures painted there;--so in Mantua Giulio Romano
is to be found in the lines of every painting and every palace. It is
wonderful to see, in these little Italian cities which have been the
homes of great men, how no succeeding generation has dared to wrong
the memory of them by departing in the least from their precepts
upon art. One fancies, for instance, the immense scorn with which the
Vicentines would greet the audacity of any young architect who dared
to think Gothic instead of Palladian Greek, and how they would put
him to shame by asking him if he knew more than Palladio about
architecture! It seems that original art cannot arise in the presence
of the great virtues and the great errors of the past; and Italian art
of this day seems incapable of even the feeble, mortal life of other
modern art, in the midst of so much immortality.

Giulio Romano did a little of everything for the Dukes of
Mantua,--from painting the most delicate and improper little fresco
for a bed-chamber to restraining the Po and the Mincio with immense
dikes, restoring ancient edifices and building new ones, draining
swamps and demolishing and reconstructing whole streets, painting
palaces and churches, and designing the city slaughter-house. He grew
old and very rich in the service of the Gonzagas; but though Mrs.
Jameson says he commanded respect by a sense of his own dignity as an
artist, the Bishop of Casale, who wrote the "Annali di Mantova," says
that the want of nobility and purity in his style, and his "gallant
inventions, were conformable to his own sensual life, and that he did
not disdain to prostitute himself to the infamies of Aretino."

His great architectural work in Mantua is the Palazzo del T, or Tè,
as it is now written. It was first called Palazzo del T, from the
convergence of roads there in the form of that letter; and the modern
Mantuans call it Del Tè, from the superstition, transmitted to us by
the Custode of the Ducal Palace, that the Gonzagas merely used it
on pleasant afternoons to take tea in! so curiously has latter-day
guidemanship interpreted the jolly purpose expressed by the Duke to
Giulio. I say nothing to control the reader's choice between T and Tè,
and merely adhere to the elder style out of reverence for the past.
It is certain that the air of the plain on which the palace stands
is most unwholesome; and it may have been true that the dukes never
passed the night there. Federico did not intend to build more than
a lodge in this place; but fascinated with the design offered him
by Giulio, he caused the artist to go on, and contrive him a palace
instead. It stands, as Vasari says, about a good bow-shot from one of
the city's gates; and going out to see the palace on our second day
in Mantua, we crossed a drawbridge guarded by Austrian soldiers. Below
languished a bed of sullen ooze, tangled and thickly grown with long,
villainous grasses, and sending up a damp and deathly stench, which
made all the faces we saw look feverish and sallow. Already at that
early season the air was foul and heavy, and the sun, faintly making
himself seen through the dun sky of the dull spring day, seemed sick
to look upon the place, where indeed the only happy and lively things
were the clouds of gnats that danced before us, and welcomed us to the
Palazzo del T. Damp ditches surround the palace, in which these gnats
seemed to have peculiar pleasure; and they took possession of the
portico of the stately entrance of the edifice as we went in, and held
it faithfully till we returned.

In one of the first large rooms are the life-size portraits of the
six finest horses of the Gonzaga stud, painted by the pupils of Giulio
Romano, after the master's designs. The paintings attest the beauty of
the Mantuan horses, and the pride and fondness of their ducal owners;
and trustworthy critics have praised their eminent truth. But it is
only the artist or the hippanthrop who can delight in them long; and
we presently left them for the other chambers, in which the invention
of Giulio had been used to please himself rather than his master.
I scarcely mean to name the wonders of the palace, having, indeed,
general associations with them, rather than particular recollections
of them.

One of the most famous rooms is the Chamber of Psyche (the apartments
are not of great size), of which the ceiling is by Giulio and the
walls are by his pupils. The whole illustrates, with every variety
of fantastic invention, the story of Psyche, as told by Apuleius, and
deserves to be curiously studied as a part of the fair outside of a
superb and corrupt age, the inside of which was full of rottenness.
The civilization of Italy, as a growth from the earliest Pagan times,
and only modified by Christianity and the admixture of Northern blood
and thought, is yet to be carefully analyzed; and until this analysis
is made, discussion of certain features must necessarily be incomplete
and unsatisfactory. No one, however, can stand in this Chamber of
Psyche, and not feel how great reality the old mythology must still
have had, not only for the artists who painted the room, but for
the people who inhabited it and enjoyed it. I do not say that they
believed it as they believed in the vital articles of Christian faith,
but that they accepted it with the same spirit as they accepted the
martyrology of the Church; and that to the fine gentlemen and ladies
of the court, those jolly satyrs and careless nymphs, those Cupids
and Psyches, and Dianas and Venuses, were of the same verity as the
Fathers of the Desert, the Devil, and the great body of the saints.
If they did not pray to them, they swore by them, and their names were
much oftener on their lips; and the art of the time was so thoroughly
Pagan, that it forgot all Christian holiness, and clung only to
heathen beauty. When it had not actually a mythologic subject to deal
with, it paganized Christian themes. St. Sebastian was made to look
like Apollo, and Mary Magdalene was merely a tearful, triste Venus.
There is scarcely a ray of feeling in Italian art since Raphael's
time which suggests Christianity in the artist, or teaches it to the
beholder. In confessedly Pagan subjects it was happiest, as in
the life of Psyche, in this room; and here it inculcated a gay and
spirited license, and an elegant absence of delicacy, which is still
observable in Italian life. It would be instructive to know in what
spirit the common Mantuans of his day looked upon the inventions of
the painter, and how far the courtly circle which frequented this room
went in discussion and comment on its subjects; they were not
nice people, and probably had no nasty ideas about the unspeakable
indecency of some of the scenes. [The ruin in the famous room frescoed
with the Fall of the Giants commences on the very door-jambs, which
are painted in broken and tumbling brick-work; and throughout there is
a prodigiousness which does not surprise, and a bigness which does not
impress; and the treatment of the subject can only be expressed by
the Westernism _powerfully weak_. In Kugler's _Hand-book of Italian
Painting_ are two illustrations, representing parts of the fresco,
which give a fair idea of the whole.]

Returning to the city we visited the house of Giulio Romano, which
stands in one of the fine, lonesome streets, and at the outside
of which we looked. The artist designed it himself; and it is very
pretty, with delicacy of feeling in the fine stucco ornamentation, but
is not otherwise interesting.

We passed it, continuing our way toward the Arsenal, near which we had
seen the women at work washing the linen coats of the garrison in the
twilight of the evening before; and we now saw them again from the
bridge, on which we paused to look at a picturesque bit of modern
life in Mantua. The washing-machine (when the successful instrument
is invented) may do its work as well, but not so charmingly, as these
Mantuan girls did. They washed the linen in a clear, swift-running
stream, diverted from the dam of the Mincio to furnish mill-power
within the city wall; and we could look down the watercourse past
old arcades of masonry half submerged in it, past pleasant angles of
houses and a lazy mill-wheel turning slowly, slowly, till our view
ended in the gallery of a time-worn palace, through the columns of
which was seen the blue sky. Under the bridge the stream ran very
strong and lucid, over long, green, undulating water-grasses, which it
loved to dimple over and play with. On the right were the laundresses
under the eaves of a wooden shed, each kneeling, as their custom is,
in a three-sided box, and leaning forward over the washboard that
sloped down into the water. As they washed they held the linen in one
hand, and rubbed it with the other; then heaped it into a mass upon
the board and beat it with great two-handed blows of a stick. They
sang, meanwhile, one of those plaintive airs of which the Italian
peasants are fond, and which rose in indescribable pathos, pulsing
with their blows, and rhythmic with the graceful movement of their
forms. Many of the women were young,--though they were of all
ages,--and the prettiest among them was third from where we stood
upon the bridge. She caught sight of the sketch-book which one of the
travellers carried, and pointed it out to the rest, who could hardly
settle to their work to be sketched. Presently an idle baker, whose
shop adjoined the bridge, came out and leaned upon the parapet, and
bantered the girls. "They are drawing the prettiest," he said, at
which they all bridled a little; and she who knew herself to be
prettiest hung her head and rubbed furiously at the linen. Long before
the artist had finished the sketch, the lazy, good-humored crowd which
the public practice of the fine arts always attract in Italy, had
surrounded the strangers, and were applauding, commenting, comparing,
and absorbing every stroke as it was made. When the book was closed
and they walked away, a number of boys straggled after them some
spaces, inspired by a curious longing and regret, like that which
leads boys to the eager inspection of fireworks when they have gone
out. We lost them at the first turning of the street, whither the
melancholy chorus of the women's song had also followed us, and where
it died pathetically away.

In the evening we walked to the Piazza Virgiliana, the beautiful space
laid out and planted with trees by the French, at the beginning of
this century in honor of the great Mantuan poet. One of its bounds is
the shore of the lake which surrounds the city, and from which now
rose ghostly vapors on the still twilight air. Down the slow, dull
current moved one of the picturesque black boats of the Po; and
beyond, the level landscape had a pleasant desolation that recalled
the scenery of the Middle Mississippi. It might have been here in this
very water that the first-born of our first Duke of Mantua fell from
his boat while hunting water-fowl in 1550, and took a fever of which
he died only a short time after his accession to the sovereignty of
the duchy. At any rate, the fact of the accident brings me back from
lounging up and down Mantua to my grave duty of chronicler.
Francesco's father had left him in childhood to the care of his uncle,
the Cardinal Hercules, who ruled Mantua with a firm and able hand,
increasing the income of the state, spending less upon the ducal stud,
and cutting down the number of mouths at the ducal table from eight
hundred to three hundred and fifty-one. His justice tended to severity
rather than mercy; but reformers of our own time will argue well of
his heart, that he founded in that time a place of refuge and
retirement for abandoned women. Good Catholics will also be pleased to
know that he was very efficient in suppressing the black heresy of
Calvin, which had crept into Mantua in his day,--probably from
Ferrara, where the black heretic himself was then, or about then, in
hiding under the protection of the ill-advised Marchioness Renée. The
good Cardinal received the Pope's applause for his energy in this
matter, and I doubt not his hand fell heavily on the Calvinists. Of
the Duke who died so young, the Venetian ambassador thought it worth
while to write what I think it worth while to quote, as illustrating
the desire of the Senate to have careful knowledge of its neighbors:
"He is a boy of melancholy complexion. His eyes are full of spirit,
but he does not delight in childish things, and seems secretly proud
of being lord. He has an excellent memory, and shows much inclination
for letters."

His brother Guglielmo, who succeeded him in 1550, seems to have
had the same affection for learning; but he was willful, harsh, and
cruelly ambitious, and cared, an old writer says, for nothing so
much as perpetuating the race of the Gonzagas in Mantua. He was a
hunchback, and some of his family (who could not have understood his
character) tried to persuade him not to assume the ducal dignity; but
his haughty temper soon righted him in their esteem, and it is said
that all the courtiers put on humps in honor of the Duke. He was not
a great warrior, and there are few picturesque incidents in his reign.
Indeed, nearly the last of these in Mantuan history was the coronation
at Mantua of the excellent poet Lodovico Ariosto, by Charles V., in
1532, Federico II. reigning. But the Mantuans of Guglielmo's day were
not without their sensations, for three Japanese ambassadors passed
through their city on the way to Rome. They were also awakened to
religious zeal by the reappearance of Protestantism among them. The
heresy was happily suppressed by the Inquisition, acting under Pius
V., though with small thanks to Duke William, who seems to have taken
no fervent part in the persecutions. "The proceedings," says Cantù,
writing before slavery had been abolished, "were marked by those
punishments which free America inflicts upon the negroes to-day,
and which a high conception of the mission of the Church moves us
to deplore." The Duke must have made haste after this to reconcile
himself with the Church; for we read that two years later he was
permitted to take a particle of the blood of Christ from the church of
St. Andrea to that of Sta. Barbara, where he deposited it in a box of
crystal and gold, and caused his statue to be placed before the shrine
in the act of adoring the relic.

Duke William managed his finances so well as to leave his spendthrift
son Vincenzo a large sum of money to make away with after his death.
Part of this, indeed, he had earned by obedience to his father's
wishes in the article of matrimony. The prince was in love with the
niece of the Duke of Bavaria, very lovely and certainly high-born
enough, but having unhappily only sixty thousand crowns to her
portion. So she was not to be thought of, and Vincenzo married the
sister of the Duke of Parma, of whom he grew so fond, that, though
two years of marriage brought them no children, he could scarce
be persuaded to suffer her divorce on account of sterility. This
happened, however, and the prince's affections were next engaged by
the daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The lady had a portion
of three hundred thousand crowns, which entirely charmed the
frugal-minded Duke William, and Vincenzo married her, after certain
diplomatic preliminaries demanded by the circumstances, which scarcely
bear statement in English, and which the present history would blush
to give even in Italian.

Indeed, he was a great beast, this splendid Vincenzo, both by his own
fault and that of others; but it ought to be remembered of him, that
at his solicitation the most clement lord of Ferrara liberated from
durance in the hospital of St. Anna his poet Tasso, whom he had kept
shut in that mad-house seven years. On his delivery, Tasso addressed
his "Discorso" to Vincenzo's kinsman, the learned Cardinal Scipio
Gonzaga; and to this prelate he submitted for correction the
"Gerusalemme," as did Guarini his "Pastor Fido."

When Vincenzo came to power he found a fat treasury, which he enjoyed
after the fashion of the time, and which, having a princely passion
for every costly pleasure, he soon emptied. He was crowned in 1587;
and on his coronation day rode through the streets throwing gold to
the people, after the manner of the Mantuan Dukes. He kept up an army
of six thousand men, among a population of eighty thousand all told;
and maintained as his guard "fifty archers on horseback, who also
served with the arquebuse, and fifty light-horsemen for the guard of
his own person, who were all excellently mounted, the Duke possessing
such a noble stud of horses that he always had five hundred at
his service, and kept in stable one hundred and fifty of marvelous
beauty." He lent the Spanish king two hundred thousand pounds out
of his father's sparings; and when the Archduchess of Austria,
Margherita, passed through Mantua on her way to wed Philip II. of
Spain, he gave her a diamond ring worth twelve thousand crowns. Next
after women, he was madly fond of the theatre, and spent immense sums
for actors. He would not, indeed, cede in splendor to the greatest
monarchs, and in his reign of fifteen years he squandered fifty
million crowns! No one will be surprised to learn from a contemporary
writer in Mantua, that this excellent prince was adorned with all
the Christian virtues; nor to be told by a later historian, that in
Vincenzo's time Mantua was the most corrupt city in Europe. A satire
of the year 1601, which this writer (Maffei) reduces to prose, says
of that period: "Everywhere in Mantua are seen feasts, jousts, masks,
banquets, plays, music, balls, delights, dancing. To these, the
young girls," an enormity in Italy, "as well as the matrons, go in
magnificent dresses; and even the churches are scenes of love-making.
Good mothers, instead of teaching their daughters the use of the
needle, teach them the arts of rouging, dressing, singing, and
dancing. Naples and Milan scarcely produce silk enough, or India and
Peru gold and gems enough, to deck out female impudence and pride.
Courtiers and warriors perfume themselves as delicately as ladies;
and even the food is scented, that the mouth may exhale fragrance.
The galleries and halls of the houses are painted full of the loves
of Mars and Venus, Leda and the Swan, Jove and Danae, while the
devout solace themselves with such sacred subjects as Susannah and the
Elders. The flower of chastity seems withered in Mantua. No longer in
Lydia nor in Cyprus, but in Mantua, is fixed the realm of pleasure."
The Mantuans were a different people in the old republican times, when
a fine was imposed for blasphemy, and the blasphemer put into a basket
and drowned in the lake, if he did not pay within fifteen days; which
must have made profanity a luxury even to the rich. But in that day
a man had to pay twenty soldi (seventy-five cents) if he spoke to
a woman in church; and women were not allowed even the moderate
diversion of going to funerals, and could not wear silk lace about the
neck, nor have dresses that dragged more than a yard, nor crowns of
pearls or gems, nor belts worth more than ten livres (twenty-five
dollars), nor purses worth more than fifteen soldi (fifty cents.)

Possibly as an antidote for the corruption brought into the world with
Vincenzo, there was another Gonzaga born about the same period, who
became in due time Saint Louis Gonzaga, and remains to this day one of
the most powerful friends of virtue to whom a good Catholic can pray.
He is particularly recommended by his biographer, the Jesuit Father
Cesari, in cases of carnal temptation, and improving stories are told
Italian youth of the miracles he works under such circumstances. He
vowed chastity for his own part at an age when most children do not
know good from evil, and he carried the fulfillment of this vow to
such extreme, that, being one day at play of forfeits with other
boys and girls, and being required to kiss--not one of the little
maidens--but her _shadow_ on the wall, he would not, preferring to
lose his pawn. Everybody, I think, will agree with Father Cesari that
it would be hard to draw chastity finer than this.

San Luigi Gonzaga descended from that Ridolfo who put his wife to
death, and his father was Marquis of Castiglione delle Stivere. He was
born in 1568, and, being the first son, was heir to the marquisate;
but from his earliest years he had a call to the Church. His family
did everything possible to dissuade him--his father with harshness,
and his uncle, Duke William of Mantua, with tenderness--from his
vocation. The latter even sent a "bishop of rare eloquence" to labor
with the boy at Castiglione; but everything was done in vain. In due
time Luigi joined the Company of Jesus, renounced this world, and
died at Rome in the odor of sanctity, after doing such good works as
surprised every one. His brother Ridolfo succeeded to the marquisate,
and fell into a quarrel with Duke William about lands, which dispute
Luigi composed before his death. About all which the reverend Jesuit
Father Tolomei has shown how far heaviness can go in the dramatic
form, and has written a pitiless play, wherein everybody goes into a
convent with the fall of the curtain. Till the reader has read this
play, he has never (properly speaking) been bored. For the happiness
of mankind, it has not been translated out of the original Italian.

From the time of the first Vincenzo's death, there are only two tragic
events which lift the character of Mantuan history above the quality
of _chronique scandaleuse_, namely, the Duke Ferdinand's repudiation
of Camilla Faa di Casale, and the sack of Mantua in 1630. The first of
these events followed close upon the demise of the splendid Vincenzo;
for his son Francesco reigned but a short time, and died, leaving a
little daughter of three years to the guardianship of her uncle,
the Cardinal Ferdinand. The law of the Mantuan succession excluded
females; and Ferdinand, dispensed from his ecclesiastical functions
by the Pope, ascended the ducal throne. In 1615, not long after his
accession, as the chronicles relate, in passing through a chamber
of the palace he saw a young girl playing upon a cithern, and being
himself young, and of the ardent temper of the Gonzagas, he fell in
love with the fair minstrel. She was the daughter of a noble servant
of the Duke, who had once been his ambassador to the court of the Duke
of Savoy, and was called Count Ardizzo Faa Monferrino di Casale; but
his Grace did not on that account hesitate to attempt corrupting her;
indeed, a courtly father of that day might well be supposed to have
few scruples that would interfere with a gracious sovereign's designs
upon his daughter. Singularly enough, the chastity of Camilla was
so well guarded that the ex-cardinal was at last forced to propose
marriage. It seems that the poor girl loved her ducal wooer; and
besides, the ducal crown was a glittering temptation, and she
consented to a marriage which, for state and family reasons, was made
secret. When the fact was bruited, it raised the wrath and ridicule
of Ferdinand's family, and the Duke's sister Margaret, Duchess of
Ferrara, had so lofty a disdain of his _mésalliance_ with an inferior,
that she drove him to desperation with her sarcasms. About this time
Camilla's father died, with strong evidences of poisoning; and the
wife being left helpless and friendless, her noble husband resorted to
the artifice of feigning that there had never been any marriage, and
thus sought to appease his family. Unhappily, however, he had given
her a certificate of matrimony, which she refused to surrender when
he put her away, so that the Duke, desiring afterwards to espouse
the daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, was obliged to present
a counterfeit certificate to his bride, who believed it the real
marriage contract, and destroyed it. When the Duchess discovered the
imposition, she would not rest till she had wrung the real document
from Camilla, under the threat of putting her son to death. The
miserable mother then retired to a convent, and died of a broken
heart, while Ferdinand bastardized his only legitimate son, a noble
boy, whom his mother had prettily called Jacinth. After this, a
kind of retribution, amid all his political successes, seems to have
pursued the guilty Duke. His second wife was too fat to bear children,
but not to bear malice; and she never ceased to distrust and reproach
the Duke, whom she could not believe in anything since the affair
of the counterfeit marriage contract. She was very religious, and
embittered Ferdinand's days with continued sermons and reproofs,
and made him order, in the merry Mantuan court, all the devotions
commanded by her confessor.

So Ferdinand died childless, and, it is said, in sore remorse, and was
succeeded in 1626 by his brother Vincenzo, another hope of the faith
and light of the Church. His brief reign lasted but one year, and
was ignoble as it was brief, and fitly ended the direct line of the
Gonzagas. Vincenzo, though an ecclesiastic, never studied anything,
and was disgracefully ignorant. Lacking the hereditary love of
letters, he had not the warlike boldness of his race; and resembled
his ancestors only in the love he bore to horses, hunting, and women.
He was enamored of the widow of one of his kinsmen, a woman no longer
young, but of still agreeable person, strong will, and quick wit,
and of a fascinating presence, which Vincenzo could not resist. The
excellent prince was wooing her, with a view to seduction, when he
received the nomination of cardinal from Pope Paul V. He pressed his
suit, but the lady would consent to nothing but marriage, and Vincenzo
bundled up the cardinal's purple and sent it back, with a very
careless and ill-mannered letter to the ireful Pope, who swore never
to make another Gonzaga cardinal. He then married the widow, but soon
wearied of her, and spent the rest of his days in vain attempts
to secure a divorce, in order to be restored to his ecclesiastical
benefices. And one Christmas morning _he_ died childless; and three
years later the famous sack of Mantua took place. The events leading
to this crime are part of one of the most complicated episodes of
Italian history.

Ferdinand, as guardian of his brother's daughter Maria, claimed
the Duchy of Monferrato as part of his dominion; but his claim was
disputed by Maria's grandfather, the Duke of Savoy, who contended that
it reverted to him, on the death of his daughter, as a fief which had
been added to Mantua merely by the intermarriage of the Gonzagas with
his family. He was supported in this claim by the Spaniards, then at
Milan. The Venetians and the German Emperor supported Ferdinand, and
the French advanced the claim of a third, a descendant of Lodovico
Gonzaga, who had left Mantua a century before, and entered upon the
inheritance of the Duchy of Nevers-Rethel. The Duke of Savoy was one
of the boldest of his warlike race; and the Italians had great hopes
of him as one great enough to drive the barbarians out of Italy. But
nearly three centuries more were wanted to raise his family to the
magnitude of a national purpose; and Carlo Emanuel spent his greatness
in disputes with the petty princes about him. In this dispute for
Monferrato he was worsted; for at the treaty of Pavia, Monferrato was
assured to Duke Ferdinand of Mantua.

Ferdinand afterwards died without issue, and Vincenzo likewise died
childless; and Charles Gonzaga of Nevers-Rethel, who had married
Maria, Ferdinand's ward, became heir to the Duchy of Mantua, but his
right was disputed by Ferrante Gonzaga of Guastalla. Charles hurriedly
and half secretly introduced himself into Mantua without consultation
with Venetian, Spaniard, or German. While Duke Olivares of Spain was
meditating his recognition, his officer at Milan tried to seize Mantua
and failed; but the German Emperor had been even more deeply offended,
and claimed the remission of Charles's rights as a feudatory of the
Roman Empire, until he should have regularly invested him. Charles
prepared for defense. Meanwhile Spain and Savoy seized Monferrato, but
they were afterwards defeated by the French, and the Spanish Milanese
was overrun by the Venetians and Mantuans. The German Emperor then
sent down his Landsknechts, and in 1630 besieged Mantua, while the
French promised help and gave none, and the Pope exhorted Charles
to submit. The Venetians, occupied with the Uskok pirates, could do
little in his defense. To the horrors of this unequal and desperate
war were added those of famine; and the Jews, passing between the camp
and the city, brought a pest from the army into Mantua, which raged
with extraordinary violence among the hungry and miserable people. In
vain they formed processions, and carried the blood of Christ about
the city. So many died that there were not boats enough to bear them
away to their sepulture in the lakes, and the bodies rotted in the
streets. There was not wanting at this time the presence of a traitor
in the devoted city; and that this wretch was a Swiss will be a
matter of no surprise. The despicable valor of these republicans has
everywhere formed the best defense of tyrants, and their fidelity has
always been at the service of the highest bidder. The recreant was
a lieutenant in the Swiss Guard of the Duke; and when he had led the
Germans into Mantua, and received the reward of his infamy, two German
soldiers, placed over him for his protection, killed him and plundered
him of his spoil.

The sack now began, and lasted three days, with unspeakable horrors.
The Germans (then the most slavish and merciless of soldiers) violated
Mantuan women, and buried their victims alive. The harlots of their
camp cast off their rags, and robing themselves in the richest spoils
they could find, rioted with brutal insult through the streets, and
added the shame of drunken orgies to the dreadful scene of blood and
tears. The Jews were driven forth almost naked from the Ghetto. The
precious monuments of ages were destroyed; or such as the fury of the
soldiers spared, the avarice of their generals consumed; and pictures,
statues, and other works of art were stolen and carried away. The
churches were plundered, the sacred houses of religion were sacked,
and the nuns who did not meet a worse fate went begging through the

The imperial general, Aldringher, had, immediately upon entering the
city, appropriated the Ducal Palace to himself as his share of the
booty. He placed a strong guard around it, and spoiled it at leisure
and systematically, and gained fabulous sums from the robbery. After
the sack was ended, he levied upon the population (from whom his
soldiers had forced everything that terror and torture could wring
from them) four contributions, amounting to a hundred thousand
doubloons. This population had, during the siege and sack, been
reduced from thirty to twelve thousand; and Aldringher had so
thoroughly accomplished his part of the spoliation, that the Duke
Charles, returning after the withdrawal of the Germans, could not find
in the Ducal Palace so much as a bench to sit upon. He and his family
had fled half naked from their beds on the entry of the Germans, and,
after a pause in the citadel, had withdrawn to Ariano, whence the
Duke sent ambassadors to Vienna to expose his miserable fate to
the Emperor. The conduct of Aldringher was severely rebuked at the
capital; and the Empress sent Carlo's wife ten thousand zecchini, with
which they returned at length to Mantua. It is melancholy to read how
his neighbors had to compassionate his destitution: how the Grand Duke
of Tuscany sent him upholstery for two state chambers; how the Duke
of Parma supplied his table-service; how Alfonso of Modena gave him
a hundred pairs of oxen, and as many peasants to till his desolated
lands. His people always looked upon him with evil eyes, as the cause
of their woes; and after a reign of ten years he died of a broken
heart, or, as some thought, of poison.

Carlo had appointed as his successor his nephew and namesake, who
succeeded to the throne ten years after his uncle's death, the
princess Maria Gonzaga being regent during his minority. Carlo II.
early manifested the amorous disposition of his blood, but his
reign was not distinguished by remarkable events. He was of imperial
politics during those interminable French-Austrian wars, and the
French desolated his dominions more or less. In the time of this
Carlo II., we read of the Jews being condemned to pay the wages of
the Duke's archers for the extremely improbable crime of killing some
Hebrews who had been converted; and there is account of the Duchess
going on foot to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace, to render thanks
for her son's recovery from a fever, and her daughter's recovery from
the bite of a monkey. Mantua must also have regained something of its
former gayety; for in 1652 the Austrian Archdukes and the Medici spent
Carnival there. Carlo II. died, like his father, with suspicions of
poisoning, and undoubted evidences of debauchery. He was a generous
and amiable prince; and, though a shameless profligate, was beloved by
his subjects, with whom, no doubt, his profligacy was not a reproach.

Ferdinand Carlo, whose ignoble reign lasted from 1665 to 1708, was
the last and basest of his race. The histories of his country do not
attribute a single virtue to this unhappy prince, who seems to have
united in himself all the vices of all the Gonzagas. He was licentious
and depraved as the first Vincenzo, and he had not Vincenzo's
courage; he was luxurious as the second Francesco, but had none of
his generosity; he taxed his people heavily that he might meanly enjoy
their substance without making them even the poor return of national
glory; he was grasping as Guglielmo, but saved nothing to the state;
he was as timid as the second Vincenzo, and yet made a feint of making
war, and went to Hungary at one time to fight against the Turk. But he
loved far better to go to Venice in his gilded barge, and to spend his
Carnivals amid the infinite variety of that city's dissoluteness. He
was so ignorant as scarcely to be able to write his name; but he knew
all vicious things from his cradle, as if, indeed, he had been gifted
to know them by instinct through the profligacy of his parents. It is
said that even the degraded Mantuans blushed to be ruled by so dull
and ignorant a wretch; but in his time, nevertheless, Mantua was all
rejoicings, promenades, pleasure-voyages, and merry-makings. "The
Duke recruited women from every country to stock his palace," says an
Italian author, "where they played, sang, and made merry at his will
and theirs." "In Venice," says Volta, "he surrendered himself to such
diversions without shame, or stint of expense. He not only took part
in all public entertainments and pleasures of that capital, but he
held a most luxurious and gallant court of his own; and all night long
his palace was the scene of theatrical representations by dissolute
women, with music and banqueting, so that he had a worse name than
Sardanapalus of old." He sneaked away to these gross delights in 1700,
while the Emperor was at war with the Spaniards, and left his Duchess
(a brave and noble woman, the daughter of Ferrante Gonzaga, Duke of
Guastalla) to take care of the duchy, then in great part occupied by
Spanish and French forces. This was the War of the Spanish Succession;
and it used up poor Ferdinand, who had not a shadow of interest in
it. He had sold the fortress of Casale to the French in 1681, feigning
that they had taken it from him by fraud: and now he declared that
he was forced to admit eight thousand French and Spanish troops into
Mantua. Perhaps indeed he was, but the Emperor never would believe it;
and he pronounced Ferdinand guilty of felony against the Empire, and
deposed him from his duchy. The Duke appealed against this sentence to
the Diet of Ratisbon, and, pending the Diet's decision, made a journey
of pleasure to France, where the Grand Monarch named him generalissimo
of the French forces in Italy, though he never commanded them. He
came back to Mantua after a little, and built himself a splendid
theatre,--the cheerful Duke.

But his end was near. The French and Austrians made peace in 1707; and
next year, Monferrato having fallen to Savoy, the Austrians entered
Mantua, whence the Duke promptly fled. The Austrians marched into
Mantua on the 29th of February, that being leap-year, and Ferdinand
came back no more. Indeed, trusting in false hopes of restoration
held out to him by Venice and France, he died on the 5th of the July
following, at Padua,--it was said by poison, but more probably of sin
and sorrow. So ended Ducal Mantua.

The Austrians held the city till 1797. The French Revolution took
it and kept it till 1799, and then left it to the Austrians for two
years. Then the Cisalpine Republic possessed it till 1802; and then it
was made part of the Kingdom of Italy, and so continued twelve years;
after which it fell again to Austria. In 1848, there was a revolution,
and the Austrian soldiers stole the precious silver case that held
the phial of the true blood. Now at last it belongs to the Kingdom
of Italy, with the other forts of the Quadrilateral--thanks to the
Prussian needle-gun.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Italian Journeys" ***

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