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Title: Vagaries
Author: Munthe, Axel
Language: English
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  VAGARIES


  By AXEL MUNTHE
  AUTHOR OF 'LETTERS FROM A MOURNING CITY'



  LONDON
  JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET
  1898



  INSTEAD OF A PREFACE


He who has written these pages is no author; his life belongs to
reality, and does not leave him any peace for indulging in fiction, and,
besides, he has for nearly twenty years limited his best thoughts and
efforts to that special authorship which has for its only public
apothecaries. He thought it very easy and refreshing to write this
little book. The only difficulty about it has been to find a title, for
it turned out that, when confronted with this problem, neither the
writer nor any of the friends he consulted could say what stuff it was
that the book was made of--was it essays, stories, or what? Essays is
much too important a word for me to use, and stories it certainly is
not, for I cannot remember having ever tried to invent anything.

Besides, isn't it so that in a story something always happens--and here,
as a rule, very little seems to me to happen. I do not know, but can it
be that it is life itself which "happens" in these pages, life as seen
by an individual who can but try to be as the Immortal Gods created him,
since conventionality long ago has given up in despair all hope of
licking him into shape?

Now I want to tell you what made me publish this book--what made me
write it cannot interest you. One day I found sitting in my
consulting-room a young lady with a huge parcel on her knee. I asked her
what I could do for her, and she began by telling me a long tale of woe
about herself. She said that nothing interested her, nothing amused
her, she was bored to death by everything and everybody. She could get
anything she wished to have, she could go anywhere she liked, but she
did not wish for anything, she did not want to go anywhere.

Her life was passed in idle luxury, useless to herself and to everybody
else, said she. Her parents had ended by dragging her from one physician
to another: one had prescribed Egypt, where they had spent the whole
winter; another Cannes, where they had bought a big villa; a third India
and Japan, which they had visited in their fine yacht. "But you are the
only doctor who has done me any good," she said. "I have felt more
happiness during this past week than I have done for years. I owe it to
you, and I have come to thank you for it." She began rapidly to unfasten
her parcel, and I stared at her in amazement while she produced from it
one big doll after another, and quite unceremoniously placed them in a
row on my writing-table amongst all my books and papers. There were
twelve dolls in all, and you never saw such dolls. Some of them were
dressed in well-fitting tailor-made jackets and skirts; some were
evidently off for a yachting trip in blue serge suits and sailor hats;
some wore smart silk dresses covered with lace and frills, and hats
trimmed with huge ostrich feathers; and some looked as if they had only
just returned from the Queen's Drawing-room.

I am accustomed to have queer people in my consulting-room, and I
thought I noticed something glistening in her eyes. "You see, Doctor,"
said she with uncertain voice, "I never thought I could be of any good
to anybody. I used to send money to charities at home, but all I did
was to write out a cheque, and I cannot say I ever felt the slightest
satisfaction in doing it. The other day I happened to come across that
article about Toys in an old _Blackwood's Magazine_,[1] and since then I
have been working from morning till evening to dress up all these dolls
for the poor children you spoke about. I have done it all by myself, and
I have felt so strangely happy the whole time."

And I, who had forgotten all about this little escapade from the toil of
my everyday life, I looked at the sweet face smiling through the tears,
I looked at the long row of dolls who stared approvingly at me from
among all my medical paraphernalia on the writing-table. And for the
first and last time in my life did I feel the ineffable joy of literary
triumph, for the first and last time in my life did I feel that mystic
power of being able to move others.

A smart carriage was waiting for her at the door, but we sent it away,
and I put the kind donor and some of her dolls in a cab, and I remember
we went to see Petruccio. I could see by her shyness that it was the
first time she had entered the home of the poor. She gave each child a
magnificent doll, and she blushed with delight when she saw the little
sisters' beaming faces and heard the poor mother's "God bless you!"
Hardly had a week passed before she brought me another dozen of dolls,
and twelve more sick and destitute children forgot all about their
misery. At Christmas I got up a big festa at the Jardin-des-Plantes
quarter, where most of the poor Italians live, and the Christmas-tree
was loaded with dolls of all sizes and descriptions. She went on
bringing me more and more dolls, and there came a time when I did not
know what to do with them, for I had more dolls than patients. Every
chair and table in my rooms was occupied by a doll, and people asked me
to show them "the dear children," and when I told them I was a bachelor
and had not got any they would not believe me. To tell you the truth,
when spring came I sent the lady to St. Moritz for change of air. I have
never seen her since, but should she come across this book she may know
that it was she and her dolls who decided its publication, and it is in
her honour I have given the Toy article the first place.

There is nothing like success. Some time ago I received a letter from a
man I do not know, who wrote me that he was the mayor of a large town.
He said that after having read a little paper called "For those who love
Music"[2] he had revoked the order which forbade organ-grinders to play
in the streets of his town, and had told his children always to give the
old man a penny, for "perhaps it is Don Gaetano!" I admit I was
immensely flattered by this, and in honour of the kind mayor I have
placed his paper second.

But is this to be the end of my literary fame, or will any other
laurel-leaf mark some hitherto unpublished page of this volume? What
about "Blackcock-shooting"? Will ever an English mother write to me that
she is teaching her son that he can grow up every inch a man without
having ever killed a half-tame pheasant or a grouse, or stealthily crept
up to murder a beautiful stag?

I have not heard from the Germans in Capri yet, but when that letter
comes I believe my literary ambition will have reached its zenith, and
that I shall relapse into silence again.

    Rome, _Spring_ 1898.

[Footnote 1: "Toys, from the Paris Horizon" was published in _Blackwood_
several years ago.]

[Footnote 2: This article was printed in _Murray's Magazine_ several
years ago.]



  CONTENTS

                                        PAGE

  Toys                                     1

  For those who love Music                24

  Political Agitations in Capri           44

  Menagerie                               78

  Italy in Paris                         102

  Blackcock-shooting                     125

  To ----                                158

  Monsieur Alfredo                       169

  Mont Blanc, King of the Mountains      192

  Raffaella                              206

  The Dogs in Capri, an interior         224

  Zoology                                253

  Hypochondria                           262

  La Madonna del Buon Cammino            280



  VAGARIES

  TOYS

  FROM THE PARIS HORIZON


In Paris the New Year is awakened by the laughter of children, the dawn
of its first day glows in rosy joy on small round cheeks, and lit up by
the light from children's sparkling eyes, the curtain rises upon the
fairy world of toys.

This world of toys is a faithful miniature of our own, the same
perpetual evolution, the same struggle for existence, goes on there as
here. Types rise and vanish just as with us; the strongest and
best-fitted individuals survive, defying time, whilst the weaker and
less gifted are supplanted and die out.

To the former, for instance, belongs the doll, whose individual type
centuries may have modified, but whose idea is eternal, whose soul lives
on with the imperishable youth of the gods. The doll is thousands of
years old; it has been found in the graves of little Roman children, and
the archæologists of coming generations will find it amongst the remains
of our culture. The children of Pompeii and Herculaneum used to trundle
hoops just as you and I did when we were small, and who knows whether
the rocking-horse on which we rode as boys is not a lineal descendant of
that proud charger into whose wooden flanks the children of Francis I.
dug their heels. The drum is also inaccessible to the variation of time;
through centuries it has beaten the Christmas and New Year's day's
reveille in the nursery to the battles of the tin-soldiers, and it will
continue to beat as long as there are boys' arms to wield the
drum-sticks and grown-up people's tympanums to be deafened. The
tin-soldier views the future with calm; he will not lay down his arms
until the day of the general disarmament, and we are still a long way
from universal peace. Neither will the toy-sword disappear; it is the
nursery-symbol of the ineradicable vice of our race, the lust for
fighting. Foolscap-crowned and bell-ringing harlequins will also defy
time; they will exist in the toy-world as long as there are fools in our
world. Gold-laced knights with big swords at their sides, curly-locked
princesses with satin shoes on dainty feet, stalwart musketeers with top
boots and big moustachios--all are types which still hold their own
pretty well. The Japanese doll is as yet young, but a brilliant future
lies before her.

Amongst the toy-people who are gradually diminishing may be mentioned
monks, hobgoblins, and kings--an evil omen for the matter of that. I
don't wish to make any one uneasy, but it is a fact that the demand for
kings has considerably decreased of late--my studies in toy-anthropology
do not allow me the slightest doubt on this subject. It is not for me to
try to explain the cause of this serious phenomenon--I understand well
that this topic is a painful one, and shall not persist.

Hobgoblins--who in our world are growing more and more ill at ease since
the locomotives began to pant through the forests, and who have sought
and found a refuge in the toy-world, in picture-books, and
fairy-tales--they begin to decrease, even they; they do not leap any
longer with the same wild energy when they are let loose out of their
boxes, and they do not know how to inspire the same terrifying respect
as before. They are doomed to die; a few generations more and wet-nurses
and nursery-maids will be studying physics, and then there will be an
end to hobgoblins and Jack-in-the-boxes! For my part I shall regret
them.

Our social life expresses itself even through toys, and the rising
generation writes the history of its civilisation in the children's
books. Our age is the age of scientific inquiry, and its sons have no
time for dreams; the generation which is growing up moves in a world of
thought totally different from ours. Nowadays Tom Thumb is left to take
care of himself in the trackless forest, and poor Robinson Crusoe, with
whom we kept such faithful company, is feeling more and more lonely on
his desert island with our common friend Friday and the patient goat
whose neck we so often patted in our dreams. Nowadays boy-thoughts
travel with Phileas Fogg _Round the World in Eighty Days_, or undertake
fearlessly a journey to the moon with carefully calculated pace of I
don't know how many miles in a second, and their knapsacks stuffed with
physical science. Nowadays a little future Edison sits meditating in
his nursery laboratory, trying to stun a fly beneath the bell of a
little air-pump, or he communicates with his little sister by means of a
lilliputian telephone--when we only knew how to besiege toy-fortresses
with pop-guns and arrange tin-soldiers' battles, limiting our scientific
inquiries to that bloodless vivisection which consisted in ripping up
the stomachs of all our dolls and pulling to pieces everything we came
across to find out what was inside. These scientific toys were almost
unknown some ten years ago,--these _jouets scientifiques_ which now rank
so high in toy-shops, and offer perhaps the greatest attraction for the
children of the present. _The tranquillity of parents and the education
of children_ is the device on these toys--yes, there is no doubt that
the children's instruction has been thought of, but their imagination,
what is to become of that, now that even Christmas presents give
lessons in chemistry and physics? And all this artificially increased
modern thirst for knowledge, does it not destroy the germ of romance
which was implanted in the child's mind? does it not drive away that
rosy poetry of dreamland which is the morning glow of the awakening
thought? Maybe I am wrong, but it sometimes seems to me that there is
less laughter in the nurseries now than before, that the children's
faces are growing more earnest. And if I am to be quite frank I must
confess that I fight rather shy of these modern toys, and have never
bought any of them for my little friends.

The same claim for reality which has brought forward these scientific
toys is also shown in the multitude of political characters one comes
across in the toy-world--Bismarck, with his bloodshot eyes and three
tufts of hair; the "Zulu," the "Boer," etc. etc. The famous Tonquin
treasures have not yet been brought to light, but we have long ago made
acquaintance with the Tonquinese and his long nose like Mons. Jules
Ferry; and the recent trouble in the Balkan states resulted in last
year's novelty, _le cri de Bulgare_.[3]

Do not, however, imagine that the _rôle_ of politics in the toy-world is
limited to this--it is far more extensive, far more important. I now
mean to dwell on this question for a moment or two, and wish to say a
few words concerning _the political agitations of the toy-world_.

The political agitations of the toy-world--a weighty, and hitherto
rather neglected topic--are like the swell, following the political
storms which agitate our own world. The horizon which here opens before
the eyes of the observer is, however, too vast to be framed in this
small paper. I therefore propose to limit the subject to _the French
toy-politics after l'année terrible_ (1870-71).

The war between Germany and France is over long ago, but the toy-world
still resounds with the echo of the clash of arms of 1870; fighting
still continues with unabated ardour in the lilliputian world, where the
Bismarcks and the Moltkes of the German toy-manufactories each Christmas
fight new battles with _l'Article de Paris_.

Victorious by virtue of their cheapness, the Germans advance. From the
Black Forest descend every Christmas hordes of wooden oxen, sheep,
horses, and dogs to measure themselves against the wares of the
wood-carvers of the Vosges (_St. Claude, etc. etc._). From Hamburg,
Nuremburg, and Berlin emigrate every winter thousands of dolls to
dispute the favour of the buyers with their French colleagues, and every
Christmas dense squadrons of spike-helmeted Prussian tin-soldiers cross
the Rhine to invade the toy-shops and nurseries of France. The struggle
is unequal, the competition too great. Siebenburgen and Tyrol furnish at
will a complete chemist's shop, a plentifully-supplied grocery store, or
a well-stocked farm with crops and implements, cows, sheep, and goats
grazing on the verdant pasture, for three francs fifty centimes. Hamburg
at the same moderate price offers a doll irreproachable to the
superficial observer, a doll with glass eyes, curly hair, and one change
of clothes, whilst the little Parisienne has already spent double that
sum on her toilet alone, and therefore cannot condescend to be yours for
less than half a louis d'or. Nuremburg mobilises a whole regiment of
tin-soldiers, baggage waggons, and artillery (Krupp model), included,
at the same price for which the toy-arsenals of Marais set on foot one
single battalion of "Chasseurs d'Afrique."

The situation is gloomy--the French toys retire all along the line.

But France will never be annihilated! And if the depths of a French
tin-soldier's soul were sounded, there would be found under the surface
of reserve exacted by discipline, the same glorious dreams of revenge
which inspired the volunteers raised by Gambetta from out of the earth.
The French tin-soldier looks towards the east; he knows that he is still
powerless to stop the invasion of the German toy-hordes--he is bound by
Article 4 in the Frankfort treaty of peace, but he bides his time.[4]

And Revenge is near. This time also the signal for rising has been given
from Belleville, by a Gambetta of the toy-world. Some years ago a poor
workman at Belleville got a sudden idea, an idea that since then has
engendered an army which would realise the dream of eternal peace, and
keep in check the assembled troops of all Europe were it a question of
number alone. He sets on foot 5,000,000 soldiers a year. The origin of
these soldiers is humble, but so was Napoleon's. They spring from old
sardine boxes. Thrown away on the dust-heap, the sardine box is saved
from annihilation by the dust-man, who sells it to a rag-merchant in
Belleville or Buttes Chaumont, who in his turn disposes of it to a
specialist, who prepares it for the manufactories. The warriors are cut
out of the bottom of the box. The lid and sides are used for making
guns, railway-carriages, bicycles, etc. etc. All this may seem to you
very unimportant at first sight, but there is now in Belleville a large
manufactory founded on this idea of utilising old sardine boxes, which
occupies no less than two hundred workmen and produces every year over
two milliards of tin toys. I went there the other day, and no one
suspecting that I was a political correspondent, I was admitted without
difficulty to view the gigantic arsenal and its 5,000,000 warriors. The
poor workman out of whose head the fully-armed tin-soldiers
sprung--_viâ_ the sardine box--is now a rich man, and, what is more, an
eager and keen-sighted patriot, who in his sphere has deserved well of
his country. After retreating for years the French tin-soldiers once
more advance; the German spiked-helmets retire every Christmas from the
conquered positions in French nurseries, and maybe the time is not far
off when the tricolour shall wave over the toy-shops of Berlin--a small
revanche _en attendant_ the great one.

Many years have elapsed since the enemy placed his heel upon the neck of
fallen France, but still to-day Paris is the metropolis of human
culture. Competition has led the Article de Paris to a commercial Sedan,
and from a financial point of view _le jouet Parisien_ no longer belongs
to the great powers of the toy-world. But the Paris doll will never
admit the superiority of her German rival; she bears the stamp of
nobility on her brow, and she means to rule the doll-world as before by
right of her undisputed rank and her artistic refinement. It surely
needs very little human knowledge to distinguish her at once, the
graceful Parisienne with her _fin sourire_ and her expressive eyes, from
one of the dull beauties of Nuremburg or Hamburg, who, by the
stereotyped grin on her carmine lips, and the staring, vacant eyes,
immediately reveals her Teutonic origin. Should any hesitation be
possible a glance at her feet will suffice--the Parisienne's foot is
small and dainty, and she is always shod with a certain coquetry, whilst
the daughter of Germany is characteristically careless of her
_chaussure--tout comme chez nous_, for the matter of that. As for the
rest of her wardrobe--to leave the anthropological side of the
question--Germany, in spite of her war indemnity of five milliards, is
incapable of producing a tasteful doll-toilet; the delicate fingers of a
Paris grisette are required for this. It is therefore considered the
proper thing among German dolls of fashion to import their dresses from
some doll-Worth in Paris. I can even tell you in parenthesis that the
really distinguished German dolls not only send to Paris for their
dresses but also for their heads. The German doll manufacturers,
incapable themselves of producing pretty and expressive doll faces, buy
their dolls' heads by retail from the porcelain factories of Montreux
and St. Maurice, where they are modelled by first-rate artists, such as
a Carrier-Belleuse and others.

Up till now I have confined myself to the upper classes of doll society,
but even amongst the well-to-do middle-class dolls of ten to fifteen
francs apiece, the difference between German and French is palpable at
first sight. The further one descends into the lower regions of society,
in the doll _bourgeoisie_, the less clear becomes the national type. I
will undertake, however, to recognise my French friend even amongst
dolls of five francs apiece. To determine the nationality of a one-franc
doll, it is necessary to possess great preliminary knowledge and much
natural aptitude. For the benefit of future explorers in these still
obscure regions of anthropology I may here point out an important item
in the necessary physical examination--the doll must be shaken. If there
is a rattling inside she is probably French, for the Paris grisettes who
make these dolls have a habit of putting some pebbles inside them,
which, I am told, tends to develop the taste for vivisection amongst the
rising generation.

Lower down in the series where the transition type of Darwin is found,
where the doll is without either arms or legs, and where every trace of
soul has died out from her impassive wooden face, stamped with the same
passion-free calm which characterises the marble folk of antiquity, or
where an unconscious smile alone glides over the rudimentary features
into which the wax has hardened, where the nose is nothing but a
prophetic outline, and where the black eyes are still shaded by the
chaotic darkness out of which the first doll rose--there all national
distinctions cease, there the embryo doll lives her life of Arcadian
simplicity, undisturbed by all political agitations in the land which
gave her birth; the doll _à treize sous_ does not emigrate, maybe from
patriotic motives, maybe from lack of initiative.[5] Her rôle in life is
humble; she belongs to the despised. Her place in the large toy-shops
is in a dark corner behind the other dolls, who stretch forth their
jointed arms towards better-to-do purchasers, and with gleaming glass
eyes and laughing lips appropriate the admiring glances of all the
customers. But far away in the deserted streets of the suburbs, where
the whole toy-shop consists of a portable table and the public of a
crowd of ragged urchins,--there the doll _à treize sous_ reigns supreme.
By the flickering light of the lantern illuminating the modest
fairy-world which Christmas and the New Year display to the children of
the poor, there the despised doll becomes beautiful as a queen and is
surrounded by her whole court of admirers.

And I myself am one of her admirers. Not one of the fashionable beauties
of the Magasin du Louvre has ever made my heart beat one whit the
faster; not one of the charming coquettes of the Bon Marché has
succeeded in catching me in the net of her blond tresses; but I admit
the tender sympathy with which my eyes rest upon the coarse features of
the doll _à treize sous_. Every one to his taste--I think she is
handsome; I cannot help it. And we have often met; chance leads me
frequently across her path. But fancy if it were not chance! fancy if
instead it was my undeclared affection which so often guided my steps to
these places where I knew I should meet my sweetheart! fancy if I were
falling in love at last! At all events I haven't said anything to her,
nor has she ever said a word to me either of encouragement or rebuff.
But, as I said before, we often meet at the houses of mutual friends,
and sometimes, especially at Christmas and New Year, have we come
together there. My visit does not impress them very much, but what
happiness does not the doll spread around her! Realising my subordinate
rôle I willingly bow before the superior social talents of my companion,
and silently in a corner by myself I enjoy her success. I don't know how
she manages it, but she has hardly crossed the threshold before it seems
to grow brighter inside the dark garret where live the children of
destitution. The light radiates from the sparkling eyes of the little
ones, glimmers in a faint smile on the pale cheek of the sick brother,
and falls like a halo round the bald head of the doll. The little fellow
crawling on the floor suddenly ceases his sobbing; he forgets that he is
hungry, forgets that he is cold, and with radiant joy he stretches out
his arms to welcome the unexpected guest. And later at night, when it is
time for me to go away, when the children of the rich have danced
themselves tired round the Christmas tree, when the soldier's bugle has
sounded in the boys' nursery, and when the little girls' smart dolls
have been put to sleep each in their dainty bed--then little sister up
in the garret tenderly wraps mother's ragged shawl round her beloved
doll, for the night is cold and the doll has nothing on; and so they
fall asleep side by side together, the pauper doll and her grateful
little admirer.

Despised and ridiculed by us grown-up people, whose eyes have been led
astray by the modern demand for realism, it is nevertheless a fact that
the doll _à treize sous_ in the freshness of her primitive naïveté
approaches nearer the ideal than the costly beauties of the Louvre and
Bon Marché, who have reached the highest summit of refinement. We
grown-up people have lost the faculty of understanding this from the
moment we lost the simplicity of our childhood, but our teacher in this,
as in many other things, is the little chap who still crawls about on
the floor. Put a smart doll of fashion side by side with a simple pauper
doll whose shape is as yet barely human, and you will see that the
child usually stretches out his arms towards the latter. It sounds like
a paradox, but it is a fact that you can easily verify for yourself;
these cheap toys are, as a rule, preferred even by the children of the
rich--that is to say, so long as they are real children and unconscious
of the value of money. Later on, when they have acquired this knowledge,
they are driven out from the Eden of childhood, their eyes are opened to
the nakedness of the pauper doll, and what I have just said ceases to be
true.

But the "political agitations"--what has become of them? Far away from
all political storms and quarrels, my thoughts have fled to the garret
idyll of the pauper doll; I have tried to sketch her as she has so often
revealed herself to me; I have lifted a corner of the veil of unmerited
oblivion which conceals her humble existence, there where she lives to
bring joy to those whom the world rears to sorrow. I have done so as a
tribute of gratitude for the pure joy which she has so often given me
also, although I am myself too old to play with dolls. But, thank God, I
am not too old to look on!

The doll is not old, and old age will never touch her--she will never
grow old; she dies young, even as the hero, beloved of the gods. She
dies young, and the first few weeks of the New Year have hardly passed
away before she wends her way to the strange Elysian fields, where all
that survives of broken toys sleeps under the shade of withered
Christmas trees.

[Footnote 3: An uncanny little invention which, manipulated by hundreds
of street boys, ran all along the Boulevards during the first week of
the New Year. It is about the size of a thimble and costs four sous. As
the Eastern question still commands the attention of Europe, we shall
probably be favoured with it again this winter. To be correct, I must
here state that this attractive toy is also offered for sale under the
name of _Le dernier soupir de la Belle Mère_.]

[Footnote 4: The German toys pay, since 1871, the ridiculous duty of
sixty francs per hundred kilo.]

[Footnote 5: The doll _à treize sous_ is a characteristic Parisian type;
she belongs to the family of _poupards_ and is usually made of
papier-mâché or wood. After the making of the head the creative power of
the artist comes to a sudden stand-still; the rest of the body is only a
sketch and loses itself in an oblong chaos.]



  FOR THOSE WHO LOVE MUSIC


I had engaged him by the year. Twice a week he came and went through his
whole répertoire, and lately, out of sympathy for me, he would play the
Miserere of the _Trovatore_, which was his show piece, twice over. He
stood there in the middle of the street looking steadfastly up at my
windows while he played, and when he had finished he would take off his
hat with a "Addio Signor!"

It is well known that the barrel-organ, like the violin, gets a fuller
and more sympathetic tone the older it is. The old artist had an
excellent instrument, not of the modern noisy type which imitates a
whole orchestra with flutes and bells and beats of drums, but a
melancholy old-fashioned barrel-organ which knew how to lend a dreamy
mystery to the gayest allegretto, and in whose proudest tempo di Marcia
there sounded an unmistakable undertone of resignation. And in the
tenderer pieces of the répertoire, where the melody, muffled and
staggering like a cracked old human voice, groped its way amongst the
rusty pipes of the treble, then there was a trembling in the bass like
suppressed sobs. Now and then the voice of the tired organ failed it
completely, and then the old man would resignedly turn the handle during
some bars of rest more touching in their eloquent silence than any
music.

True, the instrument was itself very expressive, but the old man had
surely his share in the sensation of melancholy which came over me
whenever I heard his music. He had his beat in the poor quarter behind
the Jardin des Plantes, and many times during my solitary rambles up
there had I stopped and taken my place among the scanty audience of
ragged street boys which surrounded him.

We made acquaintance one misty dark autumn day. I sat on a bench under
the fading trees, which in vain had tried to deck the gloomy square with
a little summer, and now hopelessly suffered their leaves to fall; and,
like a melancholy accompaniment to my dreamy thoughts, the old
barrel-organ in the slum close by coughed out the aria from the last act
of the Traviata: "Addio del passato bei sogni ridenti!"

I startled as the music stopped. The old man had gone through his whole
répertoire, and after a despairing inspection of his audience he
resignedly tucked the monkey under his cloak and prepared to depart. I
have always liked barrel-organs, and I have a sufficiently correct ear
to distinguish good music from bad; so I went up and thanked him and
asked him to play a little longer, unless he was too tired in the arm. I
am afraid he was not spoiled by praise, for he looked at me with a sad,
incredulous expression which pained me, and with an almost shy
hesitation he asked me if it was any special piece I wished to hear. I
left the choice to the old man. After a mysterious manipulation with
some screws under the organ, which was answered from its depths by a
half-smothered groan, he began slowly and with a certain solemnity to
turn the handle, and with a friendly glance at me, he said, "_Questo è
per gli amici_."[6]

It was a tune I had not heard him play before, but I knew well the sweet
old melody, and half aloud I searched my memory for the words of perhaps
the finest folk-song of Naples:

  "Fenestra che luciva e mò non luce
   Segn' è ca Nenna mia stace malata
   S' affaccia la sorella e me lo dice:
   Nennella toja è morta e s' è aterrata
   Chiagneva sempe ca dormeva sola,
   Mò dorme in distìnta compagnia."


He looked at me with a shy interest while he played, and when he had
finished he bared his gray head; I also raised my hat, and thus our
acquaintance was made.

It was not difficult to see that times were hard--the old man's clothes
were doubtful, and the pallor of poverty lay over his withered features,
where I read the story of a long life of failure. He came from the
mountains around Monte Cassino, so he informed me, but where the monkey
hailed from I never quite got to know.

Thus we met from time to time during my rambles in the poor quarters.
Had I a moment to spare I stopped for a while to listen to a tune or
two, as I saw that it gratified the old man, and since I always carried
a lump of sugar in my pocket for any dog acquaintance I might possibly
meet, I soon made friends with the monkey also. The relations between
the little monkey and her impresario were unusually cordial, and this
notwithstanding that she had completely failed to fulfil the
expectations which had been founded upon her--she had never been able to
learn a single trick, the old man told me. Thus all attempts at
education had long ago been abandoned, and she sat there huddled
together on her barrel-organ and did nothing at all. Her face was sad,
like that of most animals, and her thoughts were far away. But now and
then she woke up from her dreams, and her eyes could then take a
suspicious, almost malignant expression, as they lit upon some of the
street boys who crowded round her tribune and tried to pull her tail,
which stuck out from her little gold-laced garibaldi. To me she was
always very amiable; confidently she laid her wrinkled hand in mine and
absently she accepted the little attentions I was able to offer her. She
was very fond of sweetmeats, and burnt almonds were, in her opinion,
the most delectable thing in the world.

Since the old man had once recognised his musical friend on a balcony of
the Hôtel de l'Avenir, he often came and played under my windows. Later
on he became engaged, as already said, to come regularly and play twice
a week,--it may, perhaps, appear superfluous for one who was studying
medicine, but the old man's terms were so small, and you know I have
always been so fond of music. Besides it was the only recreation at
hand--I was working hard in the Hôtel de l'Avenir, for I was to take my
degree in the spring.

So passed the autumn, and the hard time came. The rich tried on the new
winter fashions, and the poor shivered with the cold. It became more and
more difficult for well-gloved hands to leave the warm muff or the
fur-lined coat to take out a copper for the beggar, and more and more
desperate became the struggle for bread amongst the problematical
existences of the street. Before hopelessly-closed windows small
half-frozen artistes gave concerts in the courtyards; unnoticed
resounded the most telling pieces of the répertoire about _La bella
Napoli_ and _Santa Lucia_, while stiffened fingers twanged the
mandoline, and the little sister, shivering with cold, banged the
tambourine. In vain the old street-singer sang with hoarse pathos the
song about _La Gloire_ and _La Patrie_, and in vain my friend played
that piece _per gli amici_--thicker and thicker fell the snowflakes over
the humbly-bared heads, and scarcer and scarcer fell the coppers into
the outstretched hats.

Now and then I came across my friend, and we always had, as before, a
kind word for one another. He was now wrapped up in an old Abruzzi
cloak, and I noticed that the greater the cold became the faster did he
turn the handle to keep himself warm; and towards December the Miserere
itself was performed in allegretto.

The monkey had now become civilian, and wrapped up her little thin body
in a long ulster such as Englishmen wear; but she was fearfully cold
notwithstanding, and, forgetful of all etiquette, more and more often
she jumped from the barrel-organ and crept in under the old man's cloak.

And while they were suffering out there in the cold I sat at home in my
cosy, warm room, and instead of helping them, I forgot all about them,
more and more taken up as I was with my coming examination, with no
thought but for myself. And then one day I suddenly left my lodgings and
removed to the Hôtel Dieu to take the place of a comrade, and weeks
passed before I put my foot out of the hospital.

I remember it so well, it was the very New Year's Day we met each other
again. I was crossing the Place de Notre Dame, mass was just over, and
the people were streaming out of the old cathedral. As usual, a row of
beggars was standing before the door, imploring the charity of the
churchgoers. The severe winter had increased their number, and besides
the usual beggars, cripples and blind, who were always by the church
porch, reciting in loud voices the history of their misery, there stood
a silent rank of Poverty's accidental recruits--poor fellows whose daily
bread had been buried under the snow, and whose pride the cold had at
last benumbed. At the farther end, and at some distance from the others,
an old man stood with bent head and outstretched hat, and with painful
surprise I recognised my friend in his threadbare old coat without the
Abruzzi cloak, without the barrel-organ, without the monkey. My first
impulse was to go up to him, but an uneasy feeling of I do not know
what held me back; I felt that I blushed and I did not move from my
place. Every now and then a passer-by stopped for a moment and made as
if to search his pocket, but I did not see a single copper fall into the
old man's hat. The place became gradually deserted, and one beggar after
another trotted off with his little earnings. At last a child came out
of the church, led by a gentleman in mourning; the child pointed towards
the old man, and then ran up to him and laid a silver coin in his hat.
The old man humbly bowed his head in thanks, and even I, with my
unfortunate absent-mindedness, was very nearly thanking the little donor
also, so pleased was I. My friend carefully wrapped up the precious gift
in an old pocket-handkerchief, and stooping forward, as if still
carrying the barrel-organ on his back, he walked off.

I happened to be quite free that morning, and, thinking that a little
walk before luncheon could do me no harm after the hospital air, I
followed him at a short distance across the Seine. Once or twice I
nearly caught him up, and all but tapped him on the shoulder, with a
"Buon giorno, Don Gaetano!" Yet, without exactly knowing why, I drew
back at the last moment and let him get a few paces ahead of me again.

An icy wind blew straight against us, and I drew my fur cloak closer
round me. But just then it suddenly struck me to ask myself why, after
all, it was I who owned such a warm and comfortable fur cloak, whilst
the old man who tramped along in front of me had only a threadbare old
coat? And why was it for me that luncheon was waiting, and not for him?
Why should I have a good blazing fire burning in my cosy room, while the
old man had to wander about the streets the whole day long to find his
food, and in the evening go home to his miserable garret and,
unprotected against the cold of the winter night, prepare for the next
day's struggle for bread?

And it suddenly dawned upon me why I had blushed when I saw him at Notre
Dame, and why I could not make up my mind to go and speak to him--I felt
ashamed before this old man, I felt ashamed at life's unmerited
generosity to me and its severity to him. I felt as if I had taken
something from him which I ought to restore to him; and I began to
wonder whether it might be the fur coat. But I got no further in my
meditations, for the old man stopped and looked in at a shop window. We
had just crossed the Place Maubert and turned into the Boulevard St.
Germain; the boulevard was full of people, so that, without being
noticed, I could approach him quite close. He was standing before an
elegant confectioner's shop, and to my surprise he entered without
hesitation. I took up my position before the shop window, alongside some
shivering street arabs who stood there, absorbed in the contemplation of
the unattainable delicacies within, and I watched the old man carefully
untie his pocket-handkerchief and lay the little girl's gift upon the
counter. I had hardly time to draw back before he came out with a red
paper bag of sweets in his hand, and with rapid steps he started off in
the direction of the Jardin des Plantes.

I was very much astonished at what I had seen, and my curiosity made me
follow him. He slackened his pace at one of the little slums behind
Hôpital de la Pitié, and I saw him disappear into a dirty old house. I
waited outside a minute or two, and then I groped my way through the
pitch-dark entrance, climbed up a filthy staircase, and found a door
slightly ajar. An icy, dark room, in the middle three ragged little
children crouched together around a half-extinct brazier, in the corner
the only furniture in the room--a clean iron bedstead, with crucifix and
rosary hung on the wall above it, and by the window an image of the
Madonna adorned with gaudy paper flowers; I was in Italy, in my poor,
exiled Italy. And in the purest Tuscan the eldest sister informed me
that Don Gaetano lived in the garret. I went up there and knocked, but
no one answered, so I opened the door myself. The room was brightly lit
up by a blazing fire. With his back towards the door, Don Gaetano was on
his knees before the stove busy heating a little saucepan over the fire,
beside him on the floor lay an old mattress with the well-known Abruzzi
cloak thrown over it, and close by, spread out on a newspaper, were
various delicacies--an orange, walnuts, and raisins, and there also was
the red paper bag. Don Gaetano dropped a lump of sugar into the
saucepan, stirred it with a stick, and in a persuasive voice I heard
him say, "_Che bella roba, che bella roba, quanto è buono questa latte
con lo zucchero! Non piange anima mia, adesso siamo pronti!_"[7]

A slight rustling was heard beneath the Abruzzi cloak, and a black
little hand was stretched out towards the red paper bag.

"_Primo il latte, primo il latte_," admonished the old man. "_Non
importa, piglia tu una_,"[8] he repented, and took a big burnt almond
out of the paper bag; the little hand disappeared, and a crunching was
heard under the cloak. Don Gaetano poured the warm milk in a saucer, and
then he carefully lifted up a corner of the cloak. There lay the poor
little monkey with heaving breast and eyes glowing with fever. Her face
had become so small, and her complexion was ashy gray. The old man took
her on his knees, and tenderly as a mother he poured some spoonfuls of
the warm milk into her mouth. She looked with indifferent eyes towards
the delicacies on the table, and absently she let her fingers pass
through her master's beard. She was so tired that she could hardly hold
her head up, and now and then she coughed so that her thin little body
trembled, and she pressed both her hands to her temples. Don Gaetano
shook his head sadly, and carefully laid the little invalid back under
the cloak.

A feeble blush spread over the old man's face as he caught sight of me.
I told him that I had happened to be passing by just as he was entering
his house, and that I took the liberty of following him upstairs in
order to bid him good-morning and to give him my new address, in the
hope that he would come and play to me as before. I involuntarily looked
round for the barrel-organ as I spoke, and Don Gaetano, who understood,
informed me that he no longer played the organ--he sang. I glanced at
the precious pile of wood beside the fireplace, at the new blanket that
hung before the window to keep out the draught, at the delicacies on the
newspaper--and I also understood.

The monkey had been ill three weeks--_la febbre_, explained the old man.
We knelt one at each side of the bed, and the sick animal looked at me
with her mute prayer for help. Her nose was hot, as it is with sick
children and dogs, her face wrinkled like that of an old, old woman, and
her eyes had got quite a human expression. Her breathing was so short,
and we could hear how it rattled in her throat. The diagnosis was not
difficult--she had consumption. Now and again she stretched out her thin
arms as if she implored us to help her, and Don Gaetano thought that she
did so because she wished to be bled.[9] I would willingly have given
in in this case, although opposed in principle to this treatment, if I
had thought it possible that any benefit could have been derived from
it; but I knew only too well how unlikely this was, and I tried my best
to make Don Gaetano understand it. Unhappily I did not know myself what
there was to be done. I had at that time a friend amongst the keepers of
the monkey-house in the Jardin des Plantes, and the same night he came
with me to have a look at her; he said that there was nothing to be
done, and that there was no hope. And he was right. For one week more
the fire blazed in Don Gaetano's garret, then it was left to go out, and
it became cold and dark as before in the old man's home.

True, he got his barrel-organ out from the pawn-shop, and now and then a
copper did fall into his hat also. He did not die of starvation, and
that was about all he asked of life.

So the spring came and I left Paris; and God knows what has become of
Don Gaetano.

If you happen to hear a melancholy old barrel-organ in the courtyard, go
to the window and give a penny to the poor errant musician--perhaps it
is Don Gaetano! If you find that his organ disturbs you, try if you like
it better by making him stand a little farther off, but don't send him
away with harshness! He has to hear so many hard words as it is; why
should not we then be a little kind to him--we who love music?

[Footnote 6: "This is for friends."]

[Footnote 7: "What nice things, what nice things, how good this milk
with sugar is! Don't cry, my darling, it is ready now!"]

[Footnote 8: "The milk first, the milk first--never mind, take one."]

[Footnote 9: The lower classes in Italy still use bleeding for all kinds
of diseases, and this treatment is also extended to animals. I knew a
monkey in Naples who was bled twice.]



  POLITICAL AGITATIONS IN CAPRI


Don't be alarmed--they are not going to disturb the peace of Europe.

Alas! there are spots even on the sun, and neither is "the loveliest
pearl in Naples' crown" altogether faultless.

Croaking ravens swarm around the ruins where thousand-year-old memories
lie slumbering, dirty dwarf hands fumble amidst the remains of fallen
giants' vanished splendour, barbarians pull to pieces the mosaic floors
on which the feet of emperors trod. Night-capped and blue-stockinged
Prose startles the Idyll which lies there dreaming with half-closed
eyes, grinning fauns push aside the vines which hide from view the cool
grotto where the nymph of the legend bathes her graceful limbs.

Capri is sick, Capri is infested with parasites even as the old lion.
Capri is full of--yes, but in politics one has to be careful; I say
nothing, read the article to the end, and you will see what it is that
Capri is full of.

Amidst the ruins of Tiberius's Villa you sit on high, gazing out over
the sea. Absently your eye follows a white sail in the distance; it is a
little peaceful fishing-boat quietly sailing home. And your thoughts
wander far, far away. Here, in his marble-shining palace, stood once
upon a time the ruler of the world; he gazed out over the sea, he also,
but his eye was not as fearless as yours, for he dreaded the avenger of
his victims in every approaching boat; and when the bay was dark he
would still linger up there and, trembling, seek to read his doom in the
stars which studded the vault of heaven. No crimes could help him any
longer to forgetfulness of himself; no vice could any more benumb the
torture of his soul; within his rock-built citadel the sombre emperor
suffered torments far greater than any he had ever inflicted on his
victims; his heart had long since bled to death under his purple toga,
but his soul lived on in its titanic sorrow. The spot whereon you lie is
named _Il Salto di Tiberio_. From here he hurled his victims into the
sea, and there below men were rowing about in boats in order to crush to
death with their oars those who were still struggling with the waves.
Bend over the precipice and see the foaming surge--old fishermen have
told me that sometimes when the moon goes under a cloud and all is dark,
the waves breaking over the rocks beneath seem tinged with blood.

But the sun streams his forgiveness over the crumbled witness of so much
sin, and, ere long, the vision of the sombre emperor fades from your
thought. Now it is silent and peaceful up at Villa Tiberio. You lie
there on your back gazing out over the gulf, and it seems to you as
though the world ended beyond its lovely shores. The restless strife of
the day does not reach you here, and all dissonance is silenced; your
thoughts fly aimlessly round, play for awhile amongst the surf near
Sorrento's rocks, send their open-armed greeting to Ischia's groves, and
pluck some fragrant roses from the verdant shore of Posilipo. So
perception gradually dies away, no longer do you hear the buzz of the
whirling wheels in the factory of thought--to-day is a day of rest and
your soul may dream. What dream you?--You know not! Where are you?--You
know not! You fly on the white wings of the sea-gulls far, far away over
the wide waters; you sail with the brilliant clouds high overhead where
no thought can reach you.

But you are only a prisoner after all--a prisoner who dreamt he was free
and is awakened in the midst of his dreams by the rattle of a jailer's
key. The sound of voices strikes your ear, and like a wing-shot bird you
fall to the earth. Beside you stands a lanky individual, and he says to
his companion that it is incredible that a man can be prosaic enough to
fall asleep on a spot so _wunderbar_. Ah, you are asleep, are you?

The spell is broken, the harmony destroyed, and you get up to go away.
He then assaults you with the question whether you don't think the gulf
is blue? and you have not walked on ten yards before he attacks you
treacherously from behind with the remark that the sky is also blue. You
believe it helps to stare savagely at him--I have done it many times,
and it does not impress him in the very least. You want to try to make
him believe you are deaf--that is no use either; he takes it as a
compliment, for he prefers to have the conversation all to himself.

The sun stands high in the heavens and the summer's day is so
warm--come, let us go and bathe in the cool water of the blue grotto.
No, my friend, not there! Even thither, like sharks they come swimming
after us to ask us if we are aware that the blue grotto of Capri is
virtually German, that it was _ein Deutscher_ who discovered the grotto
in 1826. Let us be off for Bagni di Tiberio, the ruins of the emperor's
bath, strip off our clothes inside one of the cool little chambers which
still remain amongst huge blocks of crumbling masonry, and plunge into
the sapphire water. But do you see those huge holes in the fine
sand,--are there elephants in the island? No, my friend, but let us be
off! I know the track, and there she sits, the blonde Gretchen, reading
one of Spielhagen's novels--were it Heine she was reading I might
perhaps forgive her.

We return along the beach to the Marina and wend our way along the old
path between the vineyards leading up to the village. Unfortunately the
new carriage road is nearly ready, but we, of course, prefer the old
way, by far the more picturesque of the two. On the beach we stumble
over easels and colour-boxes at short distances set out as traps for
dreamers; beside each trap sits an amateur in ambush under a big
umbrella, and he invokes _der Teufel_ to help him, which I suppose he
does.

You propose putting up at Albergo Pagano--yes, you are right; it is no
doubt the best hotel in the island. Old Pagano, who was a capital
fellow, died many years ago, and only we old Capriotes can remember him.
His son Manfredo, who now manages the hotel, is my very good friend; but
it is not his fault that his house has become as German as though it
lay in the heart of _Das grosse Vaterland_. At least a good fifty of
them are gathered round the table in the big dining-room. Upon the walls
hangs a plaster medallion of the _Kaiser_ decorated with fresh laurels,
and should they pay you the compliment of mistaking you for a Frenchman,
it is just possible they may drink a bumper to the memory of 1870--an
experience I once went through myself. Instead of the silence and the
peace you so longed for, you are subjected during the whole of
dinner-time to the most terrific uproar worthy of a _Kneipe_ in Bremen.
In despair you fling open the door leading into the garden--no, you are
in Italy after all! Out there under the pergola the moonbeams are
playing amongst the vines, the air is soft and caressing, and the summer
evening recites to you its enchanting sonnet as a compensation for the
prose within. You wander there up and down all alone, but scarcely have
you had time to say to yourself that you are happy before

  "Heil dir im Sieges Kranz!"

rings like a war-cry through the peaceful night, answered from the
street by some little Capriote ragamuffins with a horrible chorus of

  "Ach! du lieber Augustin!
   Augustin, Augustin!"

    *    *    *    *    *

Of course I am aware of the supercilious way in which many of the
readers of _Letters from a Mourning City_[10] have turned up their noses
at my circle of friends out here--lazzaroni, shabby old monks,
half-starving sailors, etc. The hour is at hand for introducing you to
some acquaintances of mine of somewhat higher rank, and now I will tell
you a story of the upper regions of society. It happened at Capri a good
many years ago, and the _dramatis personæ_ consisted of my friend
D----, myself, and the then Crown Princess of Germany.

My friend D---- and I happened to be the only profane people in the
hotel just then. The whole of the big dining-table was in the hands of
the Germans, whilst we two sat by ourselves at a small side-table. It
was there we had our little observatory, as Professor Palmieri had his
on Mount Vesuvius. For some days past our keen instruments of perception
had warned us that something unusual was going on at the big table. The
roaring of an evening was louder than ever, the smoke rose in thicker
clouds, the beer ran in streams, and the faces were flushed to
red-heat--everything announced an eruption of patriotism. One evening
there arrived a telegram which, amidst a terrific babel of voices, was
read aloud by one of the party--a commercial traveller from Potsdam,
whom I personally hated because he snored at night; his room was next
to mine and the walls of the hotel were thin. The telegram announced
that the Crown Princess of Germany, who had been spending the last few
days in Naples, was expected to visit Capri the next day in the
strictest incognito. Nobody appeared to understand that the word
"incognito" means that one wishes to be left in peace, and during the
rest of the dinner the faithful patriots did nothing but discuss the
best way of how to spoil the unfortunate Princess's little visit to the
island. A complete programme was drawn up there and then: a triumphal
arch was to be erected, a select deputation was to swoop down upon her
the moment she set foot on land, while the main body was to block her
way up to the piazza. Patriotic songs were to be sung in chorus, a
speech read, whilst the commercial traveller from Potsdam was to express
in a welcoming poem what already his face said eloquently enough--that
poetry was not in his line. Every garden in Capri was to be despoiled of
its roses, whole bushes and trees were to be uprooted wherewith to deck
the triumphal arch, and all night they were to weave garlands and stitch
flags.

I went up to my room, threw myself on the sofa, and lit a cigarette. And
as I lay there meditating, feelings of the deepest compassion towards
the Crown Princess of Germany began to overwhelm me. I had just read in
the papers how, during her stay in Naples, she had sought by every
manner of means to elude all official recognition, and to avoid every
sort of demonstration in her honour during her excursions round the bay.
Poor Princess! she had flattered herself upon having left all weary
court etiquette behind in foggy Berlin, and yet she was not to be
allowed to enjoy in peace one single summer day on the gulf! To be rich
enough to be able to buy the whole of Capri, and yet be unable to enjoy
the peaceful idyll of the enchanting island for one short hour! To be
destined to wear one of the proudest crowns of the world, and yet to be
powerless to prevent a commercial traveller from writing poetry! My
compassionate reflections were here disturbed by the noise of heavy
footsteps in the adjoining room; it sounded like the tramp of horses'
hoofs; it was the "_Probenreiter_" who mounted his Pegasus. The whole
night through I lay there reflecting on the vanity of earthly power, and
the whole night did the Poet Laureate wander up and down his room. Once
the tramping ceased, and there was a silence. There was a panting from
within, and I heard a husky voice murmur--

  "Ich stehe hier auf Felsenstrand!
   Ich stehe hier auf Felsenstrand!"[11]

A moment afterwards I heard him fling open his window and let the night
air cool the fire of his inspiration. Our rooms opened on to the same
balcony, and carefully lifting up my blind I could see the moonlight
falling full upon him as he leaned against the window-frame. His hair
stood on end and an inarticulate mumble fell from his lips. He gazed in
despair up to the heavens where the stars were twinkling knowingly at
one another; he glanced out over the garden where the night wind flew
tittering amongst the leaves. But he never saw the joke until a startled
young cock inquired of some old cocks down in the poultry yard what time
it was, and then crowed straight into his face that the night was passed
and he had got no further than the first verse. Then he murmured once
more a plaintive--

  "Ich stehe hier auf Felsenstrand!"

and banged his windows to. All the cocks of Pagano's crowed "Bravo!
Bravo!" but Phoebus, Phoebus Apollo, the God of the Sun and of the
poets, entered his room at that moment, and he reddened with anger when
he caught sight of the commercial traveller tampering with his lyre.

Later on, when the chambermaid appeared, I heard him call out for coffee
and cognac--having spent the whole night like that on his
_Felsenstrand_, no wonder he needed a pick-me-up. He was late for
luncheon. I glanced at the poet; an interesting pallor lent a faint look
of distinction to the commercial traveller's plump features, and his
great goggle eyes lay like extinct suns under his heavy eyelids. He
received great attention from everybody, especially from the fair sex. I
heard him confide to his neighbour at table that he always succeeded
best with improvisations, and that he did not intend to let the reins of
his inspiration loose until the last moment. They drank to his charming
talent, whereupon he modestly smiled. He ate nothing, but drank
considerably. At dessert he had regained his high colour, harangued
every one excitedly, and drank toasts right and left. But it seemed as
if he dared not be alone with his thoughts; as soon as the conversation
around him ceased, he sank into profound meditation, and an attentive
observer could easily detect that the roses of his cheeks were hiding
cruel thorns which pierced his soul. For it was twelve o'clock; the
Princess was expected at four, and he still stood there like Napoleon on
St. Helena, alone and abandoned on his _Felsenstrand_, vainly gazing out
over the unfathomable ocean of poetry in search of one single little
friendly rhyme to row him over to the next verse.

The hotel had become quite unbearable downstairs; rehearsals of
patriotic songs were going on in the salon, whilst in the hall went on a
busy manufacture of garlands, to which the victim's name and long
fluttering ribbons were being attached. The piazza was gaily decorated;
the triumphal arch was ready--a black cardboard eagle perched on the top
holding a white placard in his beak, upon which stood out in huge red
letters the word _Willkommen_. Flag-staffs and garlands all over the
piazza; even Nicolino, barber and _salassatore_ (bleeder), had decided
to join the triple alliance, and a colossal German flag was waving
before his _salone_. I did not know what to do with myself, and at last
I strolled up towards Villa di Tiberio--up there, there might be a
chance of a little peace at all events. I had scarcely had time to lie
down in my favourite place far out on the edge of the cliff, viewing the
Bay of Naples on one side and the Bay of Salerno and the wide sea on the
other, before a long shadow fell across me. I looked up, and saw a
patriot staring fixedly through a telescope towards Naples. As a matter
of fact, something was visible in the midst of the bay, but the haze
made it difficult to see what it was. Suddenly he gave a sort of
war-whoop, whereupon two other spies, who must have been sitting at the
top of the old watch-tower, came bursting on the scene. I knew quite
well what it was that had appeared in sight--it was the big
"Scoppa-boat" sailing home from Naples.[12] Of course I said nothing, as
there was always a faint hope that they might mistake it for the
expected steamer, and take themselves off. But unfortunately they also
guessed rightly, and all three sat down on the grass beside me, and
began munching sandwiches and abusing Tiberius. I took myself off, and
returned to Capri. On the piazza I came across my friend D----, who did
not seem to be in a very good temper either; he was on his way to the
Marina, and I accompanied him thither. Down at the Marina everything was
peaceful and quiet, for the time being at all events. Old men sat there
in the open boathouses mending their nets, and small boys, who had not
seen fit to put on more clothes than usual for the Princess's expected
visit, played about in the surf, and rolled their little bronze bodies
in the sand. The landing-place was crowded as usual when the Naples
steamer is expected; girls stood there offering corals, flowers, and
fruit for sale, and in the rear stood patient little donkeys, ready
saddled for carrying the expected visitors on a trip up to the village.
We were just about to blot the whole of Germany from our minds, when my
friend Alessio, shading his eyes with his hand, suddenly observed that
the steamer which had just come in sight was not the usual passenger
steamer from Naples, but a larger and more rapid boat. I looked at my
watch, it was barely three o'clock; I had hoped for at least another
hour's respite. Alessio was right; it was not the usual boat that hove
in sight. And now the Marina began to wake up, and people came pouring
in from all sides. We saw the deputation rush down the hill at full
speed, with the chorus at its heels, and last of all came the court
poet, who surely disapproved as much as we did at the Princess's
anticipating her visit by a whole hour. The steamer was certainly going
with a greater speed than the usual boat, and she also seemed to draw
more water, as she backed farther out than usual from the harbour. The
solemn moment was at hand; the deputation stood on the landing-stage in
battle array, headed by the commercial traveller. We saw several people
descend the ladder and step into a little boat, which rapidly made for
the shore.

  "Heil dir im Sieges Kranz!"

was now performed, and hardly had they got through the first verse when
the boat pulled up alongside the little quay, and two ladies and a
gentleman in uniform prepared to land. If they thought this would prove
so easy a matter, they were mistaken--they were stopped short by the
commercial traveller from Potsdam, who solemnly and warningly stretched
out his right hand towards them, while with his left he drew a paper out
of his trousers pocket. My old compassion for the Crown Princess rose
anew, but what could I do for her? All hope of escape was at an
end. . . .

  "Ich stehe hier auf Felsenstrand"--

--but here there was a sudden silence. One of the ladies laughingly bent
forward to say a few words to the gentleman in uniform, who quietly
informed the deputation that these two ladies of the Princess's suite
were anxious to make an excursion up to the village, while the Princess
herself, who had remained on board, would sail round the island. At
that very moment we saw the steamer turn round and make for the western
side of the island.

Utterly dumbfounded, the deputation held a council of war as to the best
course to be pursued. It was evident that the steamer had gone to make
"_il giro_" (_i.e._ the usual round of the island), to return finally to
the Grande Marina, the only real landing-place which Capri possesses.
True that a sort of harbour exists also on the south side at the Piccola
Marina, but it has fallen into disuse, and the road hence into the
village is very rough. They therefore decided to await the steamer's
return where they were; more than an hour it would scarcely take. The
deputation sank dejectedly down upon some upturned boats, but the poet
remained standing for fear of creasing his dress-coat (fancy wearing a
dress-coat and top-hat in Capri!) And he ran no chance of freezing, I
can tell you, as he stood there in his sun-bath. The hour dragged
wearily along, but still no sign of the steamer. They had waited for
nearly two hours, when a fisherman phlegmatically observed that as far
as he could make out the steamer had gone to the Piccola Marina, for he
had rowed past just as the jolly-boat set out from the steamer, and some
one on the captain's bridge had asked him how many feet of water they
might count upon at the Piccola Marina. Up flew the deputation as if
stung by an asp, and disappeared in a cloud of dust on to the Capri
road.

We dawdled about the Marina for some time longer, but finally we also
wandered up to Capri, not by the broad carriage-road, but climbing the
old path which joins the Anacapri road at some distance from the
village, thus avoiding the piazza altogether.

It was as warm as a summer's day, and we lay down by the roadside to
rest in the high grass. We talked politics by way of exception. My
friend D---- is an Alsatian; he had been through the Franco-German war,
and was anything but tender towards the Germans, and neither was I, for
reasons of my own. But we were generous enemies, and we agreed that we
were very sorry for the Crown Princess, however German she might be.

And thus I came to speak of my nocturnal adventure with the commercial
traveller, and no one being within earshot it is just possible that we
cracked a joke or two at the poet's expense. I remember that we tried to
steer him safely through his poem, and lay there roaring with laughter,
composing some extra verses to his unfinished inspiration. My old dog
lay beside me in the grass; he did his best to follow us in our poetical
flights, but the heat had made him somewhat indifferent to literary
pursuits, and he never succeeded in keeping more than one eye open at a
time. From out the ivy covering the old stone wall behind us a little
quick-tailed lizard peeped every now and then to warm itself in the sun.
Whenever you catch sight of one of these little lizards you should
whistle softly; the graceful little animal will then stand still, gazing
wonderingly around with her bright eyes to see from whence the sound
proceeds. She is so frightened that you can see her heart beat in her
brilliant green breast, but she is so curious and so fond of music--and
there is so little music to be heard inside the old stone wall! You have
only to keep quite quiet to see her emerge from her hiding-place and
settle down to listen attentively. Something rather melancholy is what
pleases her best; she likes Verdi, and I often start with Traviata when
I give concerts for lizards. I am so fond of music myself, and maybe
that is the reason why I try to be kind to these small music-lovers.
That any one can have the heart to take the pretty, graceful little
lizards captive is more than I can understand; they belong to an old
Italian wall as much as the ivy and the sunshine. But in Albergo Pagano
is a German who does nothing but go about hunting lizards; he shuts them
up in a cigar-box, which he opens every now and then to gaze like
another Gulliver upon his Lilliputian captives. We are deadly enemies,
he and I, for once I opened his cigar-box and set all his lizards free.

Suddenly Puck gave a growl. We looked up, and to our great astonishment
we saw two ladies standing in front of us, and behind them stood a
gentleman in black, staring fixedly into space. We had not heard them
come up, so that they must have been standing there while D---- and I
were busy finishing off the commercial traveller's poem. We looked at
each other in consternation, but there was evidently nothing to fear; it
was not difficult to see that they were English, and not likely to have
understood one word of what we had been talking about. One of the ladies
was middle-aged, rather stout, and wore a gray travelling-dress, while
the other was a very smart young lady, whom we thought very good-looking
indeed. They stood there gazing out over the Marina, and on looking in
the same direction we saw that the Princess's steamer had returned from
its _giro_ round the island, and had anchored beside the Naples boat.
Our discomfiture was complete upon the younger of the ladies turning
round to ask us in perfect French how long it would take them to get to
the village. D----, who was lying nearest them, answered it would hardly
take ten minutes.

"Is it necessary to go through the village in order to reach the beach?"
said she, pointing towards the Marina.

"Yes," answered D----, "it is necessary to do so."

Here Puck stretched himself and stared yawningly at them.

"What a beautiful dog!" I heard the elder lady say to her companion in
English. I at once discovered her to be a lady of great distinction and
exceptional taste, and I immediately felt a desire to show her some
politeness. I could not hit upon anything better to tell her than that
she had chosen an unfortunate day for coming to Capri, the island having
fallen a prey to the barbarians for the whole day. I told her that the
Crown Princess of Germany was actually on the island, and that, pursued
by a deputation and a commercial traveller, she had just now been caught
on the Piccola Marina and carried off to the Piazza. I added that all
our sympathies followed the Princess. I noticed a rather peculiar
expression on the younger lady's face as I delivered myself of these
remarks, but the elder listened to all I said with a scarcely
perceptible smile over her eyes.

"We are anxious to reach the harbour as soon as possible," said she; "we
have been absent longer than we intended."

"There is a short cut down to the Marina," answered I, politely; "we
have just come up that way ourselves. But I am afraid it is rather too
rough a road for you, madam."

"Will it lead us straight down there?" said she, pointing to the harbour
where both steamers lay at anchor.

"Oh dear, yes!"

"And without obliging us to enter the village?"

"Without obliging you to enter the village," answered I.

She exchanged a few words with the younger lady, and then said in a
decided, abrupt sort of way, "Be kind enough to show us the way."

Yes, that was easy enough, and I led them down to the Marina.
Conversation rather languished on the way. I had come across two
singularly reticent ladies, and had it not been for my repeated efforts
it would have died altogether. Every now and then the younger lady
smiled to herself, which made me fear I had said something stupid. I
have never been much of a society man, and it is not so easy a matter to
entertain two entirely strange ladies.

Upon reaching the wider part of the road I pointed towards the Marina at
their feet, and told them that they could not possibly go wrong now. We
saw one or two officers walking up and down the landing-stage, whereupon
I told the ladies that, were they desirous of seeing the Crown Princess,
they had only to wait there a moment or two; she was bound to arrive
soon with her tormentors at her heels. But this, they said, they did not
care about, and then they kindly wished me good-bye.

Hardly had I begun to retrace my steps when two lackeys in the royal
livery of the house of Savoy came running down the road; I had barely
time to move to one side before they were yards beyond me. They were
immediately followed by a long, gaunt individual with very thin legs and
a very big moustache--_ma foi!_ if not a German officer, remarkably like
one at all events. He in his turn was succeeded by a fat, fussy little
person, who literally threw himself into my arms; he held his gold-laced
hat in one hand, while with the other he wiped the perspiration from his
forehead; he stammered an apology, and then rolled off again like a ball
down the hill. Most extraordinary, thought I to myself, the number of
people on this footpath to-day, considering that as a rule one never
meets a soul here!

D---- still lay on the Anacapri road waiting for me; neither of us cared
to return to Capri just then, and we finally made up our minds to walk
up to Anacapri and greet la bella Margherita, and wait there till the
island should be restored to calm. We sat for a while under the pergola
and drank a glass of vino bianco, and then we slowly sauntered down to
Capri along the beautiful road, the whole of the myrtle-covered mountain
slope at our feet. When passing beneath Barbarossa's ruined castle we
glanced towards the Marina and saw to our relief that both steamers had
taken their departure. Genuine Capriotes always witness the departure of
the steamer with a certain satisfaction; they like to keep their beloved
Capri to themselves, and the crowd of noisy strangers only disturbs the
harmony of the dreamy little island.

It was very nearly dark by the time we reached the village. The piazza
was quite deserted; from the shop-window of Nicolino, barber and
bleeder, hung the tricoloured flag waving sadly in the wind, whilst
perched upon the triumphal arch the cardboard eagle sat aloft gnawing
gloomily at his _Willkommen_.

Upon reaching the hotel we found that every one was seated at table, but
an unusual silence prevailed. We withdrew to our little table and tried
to look as innocent as possible. At dessert there arose a frightful
dispute at the big table as to whose was the fault of a certain calamity
which apparently had happened to them during the day. I thought I heard
a murmur going round about an idiot who had been seen accompanying two
ladies down a short cut to the Marina, but I never got to know who he
was. Ah well! neither D---- nor I care to tell you more about this
story. If we behaved badly I have already been sufficiently punished.
Here I sit far from my beloved island in fog and gloom, whilst the
commercial traveller, for aught I know, is perhaps still enjoying
himself at Capri, and still entertaining the cocks of Pagano with--

  "Ich stehe hier auf Felsenstrand!"

[Footnote 10: _Letters from a Mourning City_, by Axel Munthe. John
Murray: London, 1887.]

[Footnote 11: "Here I stand on a rocky shore!"]

[Footnote 12: The old means of communication between Capri and Naples.
Unfortunately replaced by an ugly little steamer.]



  MENAGERIE

  +--------------------------------------------+
  |          _For a few days only!!!_          |
  |                                            |
  |  BRUTUS, Lion from Nubia.                  |
  |                                            |
  |  Tigers, Bears, Wolves.                    |
  |                                            |
  |  POLAR BEAR.                               |
  |                                            |
  |  Monkeys, Hyænas, and other remarkable     |
  |  Animals.                                  |
  |                                            |
  |  The Lion-Tamer, called "The Lion King,"   |
  |  will enter the Lion's Cage at 6 o'clock.  |
  |                                            |
  |          _For a few days only!!!_          |
  +--------------------------------------------+

The street boys hold out for a while longer, cold though the evening be,
for the Lion King himself has already twice appeared on the platform in
riding-boots, and his breast sparkling with decorations, and, besides
that, one can distinctly hear the howling of the animals within the
tent.

Yes, it would be a pity to miss an entertainment like this; come, let us
go in!

It is the Lion King's wife herself who is sitting there selling the
tickets, and we gaze at her with a deference due to her rank. She wears
gold bracelets round her thick wrists, and a double gold chain glitters
beneath her fur cape. But the monkeys who sit there on each side of her
chained to their perches with leather straps girt tightly round their
stomachs--they wear no fur capes. Their faces are blue with cold, and
when they jump up and down to try to keep themselves warm the street
boys laugh and the market people stop to have a look at them--poor
unconscious clowns of the menagerie who are there for the purpose of
luring in spectators to witness the tortures of their other companions
in distress.

The tent is full of people, and the many gas-lights inflame the infected
air. The show has already begun, and the spectators follow from cage to
cage a negro, who, pointing his stick at the prisoner behind the bars,
in monotonous voice announces his age, his country, and his crime of
having led the life which Nature has taught him to live.

I have been here several times, and I know the negro's description by
heart. I will show you the animals.

Here, in this cage, moping on his perch, his head hidden beneath his
ragged feather-cloak, you see the proudest representative of the bird
world--_The Royal Eagle, three years old, taken young_. You have read
about him, the strong-winged bird, who in solemn majesty circles above
the desolate mountain-tops. Alone he lives up there amongst the
clouds--alone like the human soul. He builds his nest upon an
inaccessible rock, and the precipice shields his young from rapacious
hands. _Taken young_; that means that the nest was plundered, the
mother was shot as she flew shrieking to protect her child, and by the
butt-end of the gun was broken the wing-bone of the half-grown eagle as
he struggled for his freedom. Here he has sat ever since; he sleeps
during the day, but he is awake the live-long night, and when all is
silent in the tent a strange, uncanny moan may be heard from his cage.
_Three years old!_ He is not the most to be pitied here, for he is not
likely to last long--the Royal Eagle dies when caged.

Here you see a _Bear_. His cage is so small that he cannot walk up and
down; he sits there almost upright on his hindquarters, rocking his meek
and heavy head from side to side. If you offer him a piece of bread, he
flattens his nose against the bars and gently and carefully takes the
gift out of your hand. His nose is torn by the iron ring he once was
made to wear, and his eyes are bloodshot and streaming from the strong
gaslight; but their expression is not bad, it is kind and intelligent
like that of an old dog. Now and then he grips the bars with his mighty
paws, helplessly shaking the cage until the guinea-pigs who live below
him rush up and down in abject terror. Ay, shake your cage, old Bruin!
the bars are steel, stronger than your paws; you will never come
out--you are to die in your prison. You are a dangerous beast of
prey--you live on bilberries and fruit, and now and then you help
yourself to a sheep to keep yourself from dying of starvation. God
Almighty did not know better than to teach you to do so, but no doubt it
was very ill-judged of Him, and you are very much to blame; it is only
man who has the right to eat his fill.

Here you see a _Hyæna_. The negro stirs up the hyæna with a cut of his
whip, and timorously the animal crouches in the farthermost corner of
the cage, whilst the negro tells the spectators that the hyæna is known
for its cowardice. The hyæna dare not risk an open fight, but
treacherously attacks the defenceless prisoner whom the savages have
left bound hand and foot to his fate in the wilderness, or the exhausted
beast of burden whom the caravan has abandoned in the desert after
having hoisted on to another the load he is no longer able to bear. The
negro pokes cautiously with his pointed stick into the corner where the
cowardly animal tries to hide itself, and the spectators all agree that
the hyæna, with its crouching back and restless eyes, conveys a faithful
picture of treachery and cowardice. None of the spectators have ever
seen a hyæna before, but they have seen crouching backs and restless
eyes. Not even the dead does the hyæna leave in peace, says the negro,
and with disgust man turns away from the guilty animal.

Here you see a _Polar Bear_. Its name is advertised in huge letters on
the placard outside; and he deserves the distinction well indeed, for
his torture perhaps surpasses that of all the other animals. The Polar
bear is another dangerous beast of prey; he does a little fishing for
himself up in the north where man is busy exterminating the whales. The
horrible sufferings of the animal need no comment--let us go on.

A little _South African Monkey_ and a rabbit live next to the cage
inhabited by the panting Polar bear.[13]

The little monkey is sick to death of the eternal clambering up and down
the bars of the cage, and the swing which dangles over her head does not
amuse her any more. Sadly she sits there upon her straw-covered prison
floor, in one hand she holds a half-withered carrot, which she turns
over once again to see if it looks equally unappetising on every side,
while with the other she sorrowfully scratches the rabbit's back. Now
and then she gets interested, drops the carrot, and attentively with
both hands explores some suspicious-looking spot on her companion's
mangy back and pulls out a few hairs, which she carefully examines. But
soon she wearies of the rabbit also, and does not know in the least what
to do with herself. She looks round in the straw, but there is nothing
to be seen but the carrot; she looks round the bare, slippery walls of
her cage, but neither there is there anything of the slightest interest
to be found. And at last she has nothing else to do but, for the
hundredth time that hour, to jump into the swing, only to leap on to the
floor the next minute and seat herself again, leaning against the
rabbit. The spectators call this jumping for joy, but the poor little
monkey knows how jolly it is.

The rabbit is resigned. The captivity of generations has stupefied
him--the longing for liberty has died ages ago from out of his
degenerated hare-brain. He hopes for nothing, but he desires nothing. He
has no social talents; he is in no way qualified to entertain his
restless friend; and besides that, he fails to grasp the situation. But
he rewards the monkey to the best of his abilities for the little
offices of friendship which she performs for him; and when the gas has
been turned out, and the cold night air enters the tent, then the
Northerner lends his warm fur coat to the trembling little Southerner,
and nestling close to one another they await the new day.

The inhabitant of the cage in yonder corner has not been advertised at
all upon the placard outside. He is not to be seen just now; perhaps he
is asleep for a while in his dark, little bedroom; but every one who
catches sight of that wire wheel knows that it is a _Squirrel_ who lives
here. What he has to do in a menagerie is more than I can say, for on
that point the zoological education of the public should surely be
completed--we all know what the squirrel looks like. Superstitious
people of my country say that it is an evil omen if a squirrel crosses
their path. I don't know where they got hold of that idea, but maybe
they have taken it from a squirrel--for the squirrel believes exactly in
the same way if a man crosses his path, and, alas! he has got reason
enough for his belief. I, on the contrary, have always thought it a
piece of good luck whenever I have happened to come across a little
squirrel. Often enough while roaming through the woods and halting with
grateful joy at every other step before some new wonder in the fairyland
of nature--often enough have I caught a glimpse of the graceful, nimble,
little fellow swinging himself high overhead on some leafy branch, or
carefully peeping out from his little twig cottage, watching with his
bright eyes whether any schoolboys were lurking beneath his tree. "Come
along, little man," I then would say in squirrel language; "true enough,
I did not turn out the man I had been expected to become when at school;
but, thank God! I have at least arrived so far in knowledge that I have
learned to feel tender sympathy for you and yours!" We were, alas! not
taught this at school in my days; we exchanged birds' eggs for old
stamps; we shot small birds with guns as big as ourselves--and now let
him who can come and deny the doctrine of original sin! We were cruel to
animals, like all savages. To the best of my abilities do I now
endeavour to expiate the wrong I was then guilty of. But an evil action
never dies; and I know of bloodstains on tiny boys' fingers which have
rusted to stains of shame in the childhood recollections of the man. To
my humiliation I have shot many a little bird, and many another did I
keep imprisoned. Regretfully do I also own to having killed a squirrel;
treacherously did I plunder his home, and his little one did I imprison
in just such another cage as the one we now stand in front of. See!
there comes the little squirrel out from his bedroom and begins to run
round and round in his wire wheel. He has made the same attempt
thousands and thousands of times, and yet he makes it once again. Yes,
it looks very pretty! when I used to watch my squirrel running round and
round in his wire wheel in precisely the same way, and at last the wheel
was turning so rapidly that I could not distinguish the bars, I thought
it was capital fun. I know now why he runs; he runs in anxious longing
for freedom; he runs as long as he has strength to run; for neither is
_he_ able to distinguish any more the bars of the turning wheel. He may
run a mile and still he is hedged in by the same prison bars. The simple
invention is almost diabolically cunning; it is the wheel of Ixion in
the Tartarus of pain to which mankind has banished animals.

Here you see a _Wolf from Siberia_. The wolf is also, as is well known,
a dangerous, wild beast. When the cold is extreme, and the snow lies
very deep, the wolves approach the habitation of man, and in starving
crowds they follow any sledge they meet--they have even been known in
very rare cases to attack the horses. We have all read that terrible
story of the Russian peasant on his way home across the deserted
snow-fields; he heard the panting of the wolves behind his sledge, and
he could see their eyes glitter through the darkness of the night, and
in order to save his own life he had to throw one of his children to
the wolves.

The negro informs you that the wild beast in this cage was caught young;
the she-wolf as usual was killed while attempting to save her cub.

The bottom of the cage is shining like a parquet floor from the
continual tramping up and down of the prisoner within, for he knows no
rest. Night and day he paces to and fro, his head bent low as though in
search of some outlet of escape; he will never find it; he will die
behind those bars even as the prisoners in his own country die in their
irons.

The big _Parrot_ on her perch over there sheds the one ray of light on
this dark picture. The parrot I need not describe to you, for you know
the species well. This one hails, we are told, from the New World, but
one comes across a good many parrots in the Old World also. The parrot
is a universal favourite and is to be found in nearly every house. The
parrot is not unhappy; she is unconscious of the chain round her leg,
she does not realise that she was born with wings. She is undisturbed by
any unnecessary brain activity; she eats, she sleeps, trims her gorgeous
feather cloak, and chatters ceaselessly from morning till night. Left to
herself she is silent, for she is only able to repeat what others have
said before her, and this she does so cleverly that often, on hearing
some one chatter, I have to ask myself whether it be a human being or a
parrot. . . .

The ragged, attenuated animal standing over there and gazing at us with
her soft, sad eyes is a _Chamois from Switzerland_. The chamois is a
rarity in a menagerie, for, as is well known, it usually frets to death
during the first year of its captivity. I look at the poor animal with a
feeling of oppression at my heart which you can scarcely realise--I have
breathed the free air of the high mountains myself, and I know why the
chamois dies in prison. Those were other times, poor captive chamois,
when you were roving on the Alpine meadows amidst rhododendrons and
myrtillus; when on high, over a precipice, I saw your beautiful
silhouette standing out against the clear, bright sky! You had no need
of an alpenstock, you, to climb up there, where I watched the aerial
play of your graceful limbs amongst the rocks. Up to the realm of ice
you led the way, high on the slopes of Monte Rosa has my clumsy, human
foot trodden the snow in the track of your dainty mountain shoes. Ay,
those were other times, poor prisoner!--those were other times both for
you and me, and we had better say no more about them.

Yonder stalwart, muscular ape is a _Baboon_; _aged, Abyssinian male_,
stands written under his cage. He sits there, wrapped in thought,
fingering a straw. Now and then he casts a rapid glance around him, and
be sure he is not so absent-minded as he looks. The eye is intelligent
but malevolent; its owner is a candidate for humanity.

When the negro approaches his cage he shows him a row of teeth not very
unlike the negro's own--the family likeness between the two faces is,
for the matter of that, unmistakable. The negro cautions the public
against accepting the wrinkled hand which the old baboon extends between
the bars. I always treat him to an extra lump of sugar ever since the
negro told me he once bit off the thumb of an old woman who poked her
umbrella at him. Besides, I look at him with veneration, for he comes
from an illustrious family. Who knows whether he is not an ill-starred
descendant of that heroic old baboon whom Brehm once met in
Abyssinia?--The negro is sure to know nothing of that story, so I may as
well tell it you. One day, while travelling in Abyssinia, the great
German naturalist fell in with a whole troop of baboons, who, bound for
some high rocks, were marching along a narrow defile. The rear had not
yet emerged from the defile when the dogs of Brehm and his companions
rushed forward and barred their passage. Seeing the danger the other
baboons, who had already reached the rocks, then descended in a body to
the rescue of the attacked, and they screamed so terribly that the dogs
actually fell back; the whole troop of baboons was now filing off in
perfect order when the dogs were again set at them. All the apes,
however, reached the rocks in safety, with the exception of one
half-year-old baboon who happened to have been lagging behind; he was
surrounded on all sides by the open-mouthed dogs, and with loud cries of
distress he jumped on to a big boulder. At this juncture a huge baboon
stepped down from the rocks for the second time, advanced alone to the
stone where the little one was crouching, patted him on the back, lifted
him gently down, and so led him off triumphantly before the very noses
of the dogs, who were so taken by surprise that it never even occurred
to them to attack him. One need not have read Darwin to pronounce that
baboon a hero.

I have noticed that even kind-hearted spectators do not seem to feel
very much commiseration for captive monkeys. The ape is playing in the
menagerie the same rôle as Don Quixote in literature--the superficial
observer looks upon them as exclusively comical, and only laughs at
them. But the attentive looker-on knows that the solitary monkey's life
behind the bars is in its way nothing but a tragedy, as well as
Cervantes' immortal book is nothing but a mournful epic. With tender
emotion he feels how an increasing sympathy mingles in his pitiful smile
the more he gets to know of them, these two superannuated types: Don
Quixote, the simple-minded, would-be hero, still lagging on the scene
long after the _epopée_ of chivalry has departed in the twilight of
mediæval mysticism; and the ape, the phantom from the vanishing animal
world, over whose hairy human face already falls the dawn of the
birthday of the first man.

This baboon may perhaps appear to you very ugly, but we know that the
perception of physical beauty is an entirely individual one, and it is
quite possible that the baboon on his side finds us very ugly. You
cannot help smiling now and then when standing and watching him, but, at
least, try not to let him see it, for, like all monkeys, it saddens and
irritates him to be laughed at to his face. This old baboon is deeply
unhappy, for, as he has got more brains than the other animals in the
menagerie, his capacity for suffering is consequently greater--for we
all know that suffering is an intellectual function. He alone realises
the hopelessness of his situation, and his restless brain-activity
refuses him the relative oblivion which resignation vouchsafes to many
others of his companions in distress.

But as a compensation he possesses one quality which the other animals
lack, and it is the possession of this quality which saves him from
falling into hypochondria;--it is his sense of humour. That the monkey
is a born humorist every one knows who has had the opportunity of
observing him in society--for instance, in the monkey-house at the Zoo.
This sense of humour does not even desert the poor monkey kept in
solitary confinement. And sometimes when I have been standing here for a
while watching the mimicry of this old baboon I have involuntarily had
to ask myself whether he were not making fun of me. . . .

The negro has finished his recital, and it is time for the show-piece of
the evening to come off. The spectators crowd in front of the
lion-cage, dividing their admiration between Brutus, the Nubian lion,
behind the bars and the keeper who, unarmed, is about to enter the cage.
The man throws off his overcoat and the "Lion King" stands before us in
all his pride, pink tights, riding-boots, and his gold-laced breast
covered with decorations--from Nubia likewise even these. He is small of
stature like Napoleon, and the constant intercourse with the wild beasts
has given his face a rough and repulsive expression. He reeks of brandy,
to counteract the stale smell of the cage, and his pomatumed hair curls
neatly round his low-sloping forehead. The negro hands him a whip, and
the solemn moment is at hand. Proudly the Lion King creeps into the
cage, and proudly he cracks his whip at the half-sleeping Brutus. The
lion raises himself with a sullen roar, and, hugging the walls, begins
to wander round his cage. Proudly the Lion King stretches out his whip,
and obediently like a dog Brutus leaps lazily over it. Proudly the
negro hands his master a hoop, and wearily and dejectedly Brutus jumps
through it. Brutus is sulky to-night; he does not roar as he ought to
do. Things look up, however, towards the end of the performance, when
the Lion King, standing in a corner of the cage, paralyses Brutus with a
proud look just as he is about to attack him. Brutus is no longer
obstinate, but roars irreproachably, and shows his yellow fang. A few
half-smothered cries of alarm are heard from the audience, an old woman
faints, a pistol is fired off while the Lion King, under cover of the
smoke, hurriedly and proudly creeps out of the cage.

Captive lion, have you then forgotten that once you were a king
yourself, that once there was a time when all men trembled at your
approach, that the forest grew silent when your imperious voice
resounded? Fallen monarch, awake from the degradation of your thraldom;
rise giant-like and let the thunder of your royal voice be heard once
more!

Brutus, Brutus, vindicator of lost freedom, you are too proud to be a
slave! Rend asunder the chains which coward human cunning has bound
around the sleeping power of your limbs!

Shake your flaming lion mane, and, strong as Samson, in your mighty
wrath bring down the prison walls around you to crush the Philistines
assembled here to jeer at the impotence of their once dreaded enemy!

Brutus, Brutus, vindicator of lost freedom!

[Footnote 13: Perhaps you are not aware of the common practice in
menageries of keeping a rabbit in the monkey's cage for the sake of
warmth.]



  ITALY IN PARIS


At one time I had many patients in the Roussel Yard. Ten or twelve
families lived there, but none were so badly off, I believe, as the
Salvatore family. At Salvatore's it was so dark that they were obliged
to burn a little oil-lamp the whole day, and there was no fireplace
except a brazier which stood in the middle of the floor. Damp as a
cellar it was at all times; but when it rained the water penetrated into
the room, which lay a couple of feet lower than the street.

And nevertheless one could see in everything a kind of pathetic struggle
against the gloomy impression which the dwelling itself made. Old
illustrated papers were pasted up round the walls, the bed was neat and
clean, and behind an old curtain in one corner, the family's little
wardrobe was hung up in the neatest order. Salvatore himself, with
skilful hand, had made the little girl's bed out of an old box, and in
the day one could sit upon it as if it were a sofa. The corner shelf
where the Madonna stood was adorned with bright-coloured paper flowers,
and there, too, the small treasures of the family lay spread out,--the
gilt brooch which Salvatore had presented to his wife when they were
married; the string of corals which her brother had brought from the
coral fishery in "Barbaria" (Algeria); the two gorgeous cups out of
which coffee was drunk on solemn occasions; and there, too, stood the
wonderful porcelain dog which Concetta had once received as a present
from a grand lady, and which was only taken down on Sundays to be
admired more closely.

I did not understand how the mother managed it; but the little girls
were always neat and tidy in their outgrown clothes, and their faces
shone, so washed and polished were they. The eldest child, Concetta, had
been at the free school for more than half a year; and it was the
mother's pride to make her read aloud to me out of her book. She herself
had never learned to read, and although I allowed myself to be told that
Salvatore read very well, neither he nor I had ever ventured to try his
capabilities. Now, since Petruccio could hardly ever get out of bed,
Concetta had been obliged to give up going to school, so that she might
stay at home with her sick brother whilst _la mamma_ was at her work
away in the eating-house. This place could not be given up, as not only
did she get ten sous a day for washing dishes, but sometimes she could
bring home scraps under her apron, which no one else could turn to
account, but out of which she managed to make a capital soup for
Petruccio.

Salvatore himself worked the whole day away in La Villette. He was
obliged to be at the stone-mason's yard at six o'clock every morning,
and it was much too far to go home during the mid-day rest. Sometimes it
happened that I was there when he came home in the evening after his
day's work, and then he looked very proudly at me when Petruccio
stretched out his arms towards him. He took his little son up so
carefully with his big horny hands, lifted him on his broad shoulders,
and tenderly leaned his sunburnt cheek against the sick little one's
waxen face. Petruccio sat quite quiet and silent on his father's arm;
sometimes he laid hold of his father's matted beard with his thin
fingers, and then Salvatore looked very happy. "_Vedete, Signor
dottore_," he then would say, "_n'è vero che sta meglio sta sera?_"[14]
He received his week's wages every Saturday, and then he always came
home triumphantly with a little toy for his son, and both father and
mother knelt down beside the bed to see how Petruccio liked it.
Petruccio, alas! liked scarcely anything. He took the toy in his hand,
but that was all. Petruccio's face was old and withered, and his solemn,
weary eyes were not the eyes of a child. I had never known him cry or
complain, but neither had I seen him smile except once when he was given
a great hairy horse--a horse which stretched out its tongue when one
turned it upside down. But it was not every day that a horse like that
could be got.

Petruccio was four years old, but he could not speak. He would lie hour
after hour quite quiet and silent, but he did not sleep: his great eyes
stood wide open, and it seemed as if he saw something far beyond the
narrow walls of the room--"_Sta sempre in pensiero_,"[15] said
Salvatore.

Petruccio was supposed to understand everything which was said around
him, and nothing of importance was undertaken in the little family
without first trying to discover Petruccio's opinion of the affair; and
if any one believed that they could read disapproval in the features of
the soulless little one, the whole question fell to the ground at once,
and it was afterwards found that Petruccio had almost always been right.

On Sundays Salvatore sat at home, and there were usually some other
holiday-dressed workmen visiting him, and in low-toned voices they sat
and argued about wages, about news from _il paese_, and sometimes
Salvatore treated them to a litre of wine, and they played a game, _alla
scopa_. Sometimes it was supposed that Petruccio wished to look on, and
then his little bed was moved to the bench where they sat; and sometimes
Petruccio wished to be alone, and then Salvatore and his guests moved
out into the passage. I had, however, remarked that Petruccio's wish to
be alone, and the consequent removal of the company to the passage,
usually happened when the wife was away: if she were at home she saw
plainly that Petruccio wished his father to stay indoors and not go out
with the others. And Petruccio was right enough there, too. Salvatore
was not very difficult to persuade if one of the guests wished to treat
him in his turn. Once out in the passage, it happened often enough that
he went off to the wine-shop too. And once there, it was not so easy for
Salvatore to get away again.

What was still more difficult was the coming home. His wife forgave him
certainly,--she had done it so many times before; but Salvatore knew
that Petruccio was inexorable, and the thicker the mist of intoxication
fell over him, the more crushed did he feel himself under Petruccio's
reproachful eye. No dissimulation helped here; Petruccio saw through it
at once. Petruccio could even see how much he had drunk, as Salvatore
himself confided to me one Sunday evening when I came upon him sitting
out in the passage, in the deepest repentance. Salvatore was, alas!
obviously uncertain in his speech that evening, and it did not need
Petruccio's perspicacity to see that he had drunk more than usual. I
asked him if he would not go in, but he wished to remain outside to get
_un poco d'aria_; he was, however, very anxious to know if Petruccio
were awake or not, and I promised to come out and tell him. I also
thought it was best he should sit out there till his head should clear
itself a little bit, though not so much for Petruccio's sake as to spare
his wife; and for that matter this was not the first time I had been
Salvatore's confidant in the like difficult situation. They who see the
lives of the poor near at hand cannot be very severe upon a working man
who, after he has toiled twelve hours a day the whole week, sometimes
gets a little wine into his head. It is a melancholy fact, but we must
judge it leniently; for we must not forget that here at least society
has hardly offered the poorer classes any other distraction.

I therefore advised my friend Salvatore to sit outside till I came back,
and I went in alone. Inside sat the wife with her child of sorrow in her
arms; and the even breathing of the little girls could be heard from the
box. Petruccio was supposed to know me very well, and even to be fond of
me--although he had never shown it in any way, nor, as far as I knew,
had any sort of feeling ever been mirrored in his face. The mother's
eye, so clear-sighted in everything, nevertheless did not see that there
was no soul in the child's vacant eye; the mother's ear, so sensible to
each breath of the little one, yet did not hear that the confused
sounds which sometimes came from his lips would never form themselves
into human speech. Petruccio had been ill from his birth, his body was
shrunken, and no thought lived under the child's wrinkled forehead.
Unhappily I could do nothing for him; all I could hope for was that the
ill-favoured little one should soon die. And it looked as if his release
were near. That Petruccio had been worse for some time both the mother
and I had understood; and this evening he was so feeble that he was not
able to hold his head up. Petruccio had refused all food since
yesterday, and Salvatore's wife, when I came in, was just trying to
persuade him, with all the sweet words which only a mother knows, to
swallow a little milk; but he would not. In vain the mother put the
spoon to his mouth and said that it was wonderfully good, in vain did
she appeal to my presence, "_Per fare piacere al Signor
dottore_,"--Petruccio would not. His forehead was puckered, and his
eyes had a look of painful anxiety, but no complaint came from his
tightly compressed lips.

Suddenly the mother gave a scream. Petruccio's face was distorted with
cramp, and a strong convulsion shook his whole little body. The attack
was soon over; and whilst Petruccio was being laid in his bed, I tried
to calm the mother as well as I could by telling her that children often
had convulsions which were of very little importance, and that there was
no further danger from this one now. I looked up and I saw Salvatore,
who stood leaning against the door-post. He had taken courage, and had
staggered to the door, and, unseen by us, he had witnessed that sight so
terrifying to unaccustomed eyes. He was pale as a corpse, and great
tears ran down the cheeks which had been so lately flushed with drink.
"_Castigo di Dio! Castigo di Dio!_"[16] muttered he with trembling
voice; and he fell on his knees by the door, as if he dared not approach
the feeble cripple who seemed to him like God's mighty avenger.

The unconscious little son had once more shown his father the right way;
Salvatore went no more to the wine-shop.

Petruccio grew worse and worse, and the mother no longer left his side.
And it was scarcely a month after she lost her place that Salvatore's
accident happened: he fell from a scaffolding and broke his leg. He was
taken to the Lariboisière Hospital; and the company for whom he worked
paid fifty centimes a day to his family, which they were not obliged to
do,--so that Salvatore's wife had to be very grateful for it. Every
Thursday--the visiting day at the hospital--she was with him for an
hour; and I too saw him now and then. The days went on, and with
Petruccio's mother want increased more and more. The porcelain dog
stood alone now on the Madonna's shelf; and it was not long before the
holiday clothes went the same way as the treasures--to the pawnshop.
Petruccio needed broth and milk every day, and he had them. The little
girls too had enough, I believe, to satisfy them more or less; but what
the mother herself lived upon I do not know.

I had already tried many times to take Petruccio to the children's
hospital, where he would have been much better off, but as usual all my
powers of eloquence could not achieve this: the poor, as is well known,
will hardly ever be separated from their sick children. The lower middle
class and the town artisans have learnt to understand the value of the
hospital, but the really poor mother, whose culture is very low, will
not leave the side of her sick child: the exceptions to this rule are
extremely rare.

And so came the 15th, the dreaded day when the quarter's rent must be
paid, when the working man drags his mattress to the pawn-shop, and the
wife draws off her ring, which in her class means much more than in
ours; the day full of terror, when numberless suppliants stand with
lowered heads before their landlord, and when hundreds of families do
not know where they will sleep the next night.

I happened to pass by there on that very evening, and at the door stood
Salvatore's little girl crying all to herself. I asked her why she
cried, but that she did not know; at last, however, I learned that she
cried because "_la mamma piange tanto_."[17] Inside the yard I ran
against my friend Archangelo Fusco, the street-sweeper, who lived next
door to the Salvatores. He was occupied in dragging his bed out into the
yard, and I did not need to wait for his explanation to understand that
he had been evicted.[18] I asked him where he was going to move to, and
he hoped to sleep that night at the Refuge in the Rue Tocqueville, and
afterwards he must find out some other place. Inside sat Salvatore's
wife crying by Petruccio's bed, and on the table stood a bundle
containing the clothes of the family. The Salvatore family had not been
able to pay their rent, and the Salvatore family had been evicted. The
landlord had been there that afternoon, and had said that the room was
let from the morning of the next day. I asked her where she thought of
going, and she said she did not know.

I had often heard the dreaded landlord talked of; the year before I had
witnessed the same sorrowful scene, when he had turned out into the
street a couple of unhappy families and laid hands upon the little they
possessed. I had never seen him personally, but I thought it might be
useful in my study of human nature to make his acquaintance. Archangelo
Fusco offered to take me to him, and we set forth slowly. On the way my
companion informed me that the landlord was "_molto ricco_"; besides the
whole court he owned a large house in the vicinity, and this did not
surprise me in the least, because I had long known that he secretly
carried on that most lucrative of all professions--money-lending to the
poor. Archangelo Fusco considered that he on his side had nothing to
gain by a meeting with the landlord, and after he had told me that
besides the rent he also owed him ten francs, we agreed that he should
only accompany me to the entrance.

A shabbily-dressed old man, with a bloated, disagreeable face opened the
door carefully, and after he had looked me over, admitted me into the
room. I mentioned my errand, and asked him to allow Salvatore to settle
his rent in a few days' time. I told him that Salvatore himself lay in
the hospital, that the child was dying, and that his severity towards
these poor people was inhuman cruelty. He asked who I was, and I
answered that I was a friend of the family. He looked at me, and with an
ugly laugh he said that I could best show that by at once paying their
rent. I felt the blood rushing to my head, I hope and believe it was
only with anger, for one never ought to blush because one is not rich. I
listened for a couple of minutes whilst he abused my poor destitute
Italians with the coarsest words; he said that they were a dirty
thieving pack, who did not deserve to be treated like human beings; that
Salvatore drank up his wages; that the street-sweeper had stolen ten
francs from him; and that they all of them well deserved the misery in
which they lived.

I asked if he needed this money just now, and from his answer I
understood that here no prayers would avail. He was rich; he owned over
50,000 francs in money, he said, and he had begun with nothing of his
own. It is a melancholy fact that the man who has risen from destitution
to riches is usually cruel to the poor: one would hope and believe the
contrary, but this is unhappily the case.

My intention when I went there was to endeavour with diplomatic cunning
to effect a kind of arrangement, but alas! I was not the man for that. I
lost my temper altogether and went further than I had intended to do, as
usual. At first he answered me scornfully and with coarse insults, but
he soon grew silent, and I ended by talking alone I should say for
nearly an hour's time. It would serve no purpose to relate what I said
to him; there are occasions when it is legitimate to show one's anger in
action, but it is always stupid to show it in words. I said to him,
however, that this money which had been squeezed out of the poor was
the wages of sin; that his debt to all these poor human beings was far
greater than theirs to him. I pointed to the crucifix which hung against
the wall, and I said that if any divine justice was to be found on this
earth, vengeance could not fail to reach him, and that no prayers could
buy his deliverance from the punishment which awaited him, for his life
was stained with the greatest of all sins--namely cruelty towards the
poor. "And take care, old blood-sucker!" I shouted out at last with
threatening voice; "You owe your money to the poor, but you owe yourself
to the devil, and the hour is near when he will demand his own again!" I
checked myself, startled, for the man sank down in his chair as if
touched by an unseen hand, and pale as death, he stared at me with a
terror which I felt communicated itself to me. The curse I had just
called down rang still in my ears with a strange uncanny sound, which I
did not recognise; and it seemed to me as if there were some one else
in the room besides us two.

I was so agitated that I have no recollection of how I came away. When I
got home it was already late, but I did not sleep a wink all night; and
even to this day I think with wonder of the waking dream which that
night filled me with an inconceivable emotion. I dreamt that I had
condemned a man to death.

When I got there in the forenoon the blow had already fallen upon me. I
_knew_ what had happened although no human being had told me. All the
inhabitants of the yard were assembled before the door in eager talk.
"_Sapete Signor dottore?_"[19] they called out as soon as they saw me.

"Yes, I know," answered I, and hurried to Salvatore's. I bent down over
Petruccio and pretended to examine his chest; but breathless I listened
to every word that the wife said to me.

The landlord had come down there late yesterday evening, she said. The
little girl had run away and hidden herself when he came into the room;
but Concetta had remained behind her mother's chair, and when he asked
why they were so afraid of him, Concetta had answered because he was so
cruel to mamma. He had sat there upon the bench a long time without
saying a word, but he did not look angry, Salvatore's wife thought. At
last he said to her she need not be anxious about the rent; she could
wait to pay it till next time. And when he left he laid a five-franc
piece upon the table to buy something for Petruccio. Outside the door he
had met Archangelo Fusco with his bed on a hand-cart, preparing to take
himself off, and he had told the street-sweeper too that he could remain
in his lodging. He had asked Archangelo Fusco about me, and Archangelo
Fusco, who judged me with friendship's all-forgiving forbearance, had
said nothing unkind about me. He had then gone on his way, and
according to what was discovered by the police investigations he had,
contrary to his habit, passed the evening in the wine-shop close by, and
the porter had thought he looked drunk when he came home. As he lived
quite alone, and for fear of thieves or from avarice, attended to his
housekeeping himself, no one knew what had happened; but lights were
burning in the house the whole night, and when he did not come down in
the morning, and his door was fastened inside, they had begun to suspect
foul play and sent for the police. He was still warm when they cut him
down; but the doctor whom the police sent for said that he had already
been dead a couple of hours. They had not been able to discover the
smallest reason for his hanging himself. All that was known was that he
had been visited in the evening by a strange gentleman who had stayed
with him more than an hour, and the neighbours had heard a violent
dispute going on inside. No one in the house had seen the strange
gentleman before, and no one knew who he was.

    *    *    *    *    *

The Roussel Yard belongs now to the dead man's brother; and to my joy
the new landlord's first action was to have the rooms in it repaired, so
that now they look more habitable. He also lowered the rents.

The Salvatores moved thence when Petruccio died; but the place is still
full of Italians. I go there now and then; and in spite of all the talk
about the Paris doctors' _jalousie de métier_, I have never yet met any
one who tried to supplant me in this practice.

[Footnote 14: "Is it not true that he is better to-night?"]

[Footnote 15: "He lies always buried in thought."]

[Footnote 16: "The punishment of God."]

[Footnote 17: "Mamma cries so."]

[Footnote 18: The landlord can take everything in such cases except the
bed and the clothes.]

[Footnote 19: "Do you know, doctor?"]



  BLACKCOCK-SHOOTING


The passion for the chase is man's passion for pursuing, and if possible
killing, animals living in liberty. The passion for the chase is the
expression of the same impulse of the stronger to overthrow the weaker
which goes through the whole animal series. The wild beast's lust for
murder has been tamed to unconscious instinct, and thousand years of
culture lie between our wild ancestors who slew each other with stone
axes for a piece of raw fish, and the sportsman of our day. But it is
only the method which has been refined, the principle is the same.

The passion for killing is an animal instinct, and as such, impossible
to eradicate. But it behoves man, conscious of his high rank, to
struggle against this vice of his wild childhood, this phantom from the
grave in which sleep the progenitors of his race.

I cannot give you here in detail my proposals for new game laws--the
matter is not yet quite ripe--but I am very willing to explain the
fundamental principle on which they rest. I maintain that the very great
start which mankind has gained through the law of natural selection has
made the struggle between the man and the animal _too unequal to be
fair_; I maintain that killing animals is an unmanly and an ignoble
occupation.

Yes, but as regards wild beasts, wolves, foxes, etc., you don't really
mean to stand up for them? Of course I do! First of all it has never
been proved that the wild animals attacked man the first. And in the
hopeless, defensive warfare in which the animals with vanishing strength
struggle against mankind, all my sympathies are unhesitatingly given to
the weaker. Yes, it is quite true that now and then they take a hen or
a sheep from us; but what is that in comparison with all we take from
them, from woods and fields which were meant to be their larder as well
as ours? And do not talk too much about the ferocity of the wolf, you
men, who have the heart treacherously to put out poisoned food for the
starving animal! Perhaps you have not seen this way of killing wolves,
but I have. I have seen the victim's agony written in the snow; seen how
he has walked a little way and then begun to totter; has fallen, and
with ebbing strength tried to get up again; in mad delirium has rolled
in the snow whilst the poison was burning his bowels, and then at last
has lain down to die. And I have watched the trapper when he joyfully
came to seize his prey.

Do not talk too much about the cunning of the fox, you men who have
invented the spring-traps which cut into his leg when he tries to take
the lying bait which you have set out for him. In England you have not
seen this way of catching foxes, but I have. I have seen the prisoner
struggling with his last strength to get free, with the blood flowing
from his wounded leg, cut to the bone by the sharp iron; I have heard
the animal's moan far off in the night, and I have seen the footmarks in
the snow of his comrades, who have anxiously roamed around.

"But this is horrible! how is it possible that such a thing can be
allowed?"

"Yes, you are right; it is horrible; but this is the death which awaits
many foxes both in Russia and Scandinavia, and in Germany too."

"In England it would be considered a crime to kill a fox in that way."

"Yes, I know well that England is the country for lovers of animals.
What a fine graceful animal is the fox----"

"Only think what would become of the noblest of all sports, that of
fox-hunting----"

Fox-hunting! and you call that a noble sport? I will tell you what
fox-hunting is--no, I think I will not tell you. I will only say that
were I a fox, I think I would rather try to cross the Channel and become
a continental fox than to be hunted to death by your hounds and your
spurred horses. And the spur which urges you on, what is that? The love
of galloping away on a fiery horse in wild chase over hedge and
ditch--ah! I understand that joy well! But why must you have an animal
flying in terror for its life before you? Why not leave the pursuers and
the pursued to themselves if the latter is doomed to die and has to die?
Why do you wish to witness his desperate struggle for life against his
manifold stronger enemy? And why, if everything be all right, do you
often enough feel something akin to satisfaction if by chance the fox
escapes? I only ask, I dare not answer--I dare not for fear of my
Editor. And I think we had better drop this subject altogether; it is
too dangerous a one to discuss before an English public.

Once when travelling in Norway I heard of a famous man, the wealthiest
of that country. I was told he had made his fame and his money as a
promoter of a new method of catching whales. Nature to protect the
whales has given them their slippery coat and their thick lining of
blubber, but that man has overreached Nature. He kills them with
dynamite. You ask, as I did, when I heard the horrible story, if that
man has not been hanged. Alas, my poor friend! we do not understand the
world at all; the man has by no means been hanged. True that a cord has
been put round his neck, but it was the cord of Commander of St.
Olaf--_sapristi!_ they are not very particular in that country! I am
very sorry for him, but were I to meet that man I would decline to shake
hands with him. What have the whales done to man to be treated in this
way? Have they not always been inoffensive and harmless ever since that
kind old whale who happened to swallow the prophet Jonah, and then spat
him carefully back on the shore? Only think what a horrible idea to
blast in pieces a sensitive body as one blasts in pieces a rock! Think
what a barbarous conception of man's position towards animals is here
allowed to be put in practice, think of that--before the man is promoted
to a Grand Cross of his St. Olaf!

Before giving the last touches to my new game-laws--the fundamental
principles of which I have hinted to you--I am perfectly willing to
listen to any legitimate claims of the sportsman, and I shall be glad to
try to satisfy them if they do not harm the animals. But on one point I
am firm. Under no pretext shall children be allowed to shoot, on account
of the great development this occupation gives to the instinctive
cruelty of the child, and the rude colour it lends to the formation of
the whole character. Kindness to our inferiors we ought to be taught as
children; life will surely teach us to grow hard enough. Nor are
children to be allowed to watch shooting; for men's faces turn so ugly
when they are pursuing a flying animal, and the child should be
protected as much as possible from the sight of anything unbeautiful.

Ah! I remember so well a little lad up in Sweden who had escaped from
school one clear spring morning. He saw how the trees were budding and
the meadows in flower, and high up in the air he heard the song of the
first skylark. The boy lay down silently in the grass and listened with
thankfulness and joy. He knew well what the skylark sang: it sang that
the long winter was over, and that it was springtime in the North. And
he stared at the little bird high up in the bright air; he stared at it
till the tears came into his eyes. He would have liked to kiss the wings
which had borne it far over the wide sea home again; he would have liked
to warm it at his heart in the frosty spring nights; he would have liked
to guard its summer nest from all evil. Yes, surely the skylark could
have remained longer in the land of eternal summer! But it knew that up
in the cold North there wandered about men longing for spring breezes
and summer sun, for flowers and song of birds. So it flew home, the
courageous little bird, home to the frozen field from where the pale
morning sun melted the white frost-flowers of the night, where primroses
and anemones were waking up from their winter sleep. With the head
hidden under the down of its wings it kept out the cold of the night,
and when the horizon brightened, it flew up and sang its joyful morning
hymn--sang Nature's promise of life-bringing sun. But the next day the
boy read in the newspaper under the title: _Forerunner of
Spring_--"Yesterday the first skylark of the year was shot, and brought
to the Kings palace." Man had killed the innocent little bird on whose
wings Spring had flown to the North, and whose little songster's heart
was beating with Nature's jubilant joy! And in the palace they had eaten
the gray-coated little messenger of summer! That day the boy swore his
Hannibal oath against shooting. And when he fell asleep that night he
dreamt about a republican rebellion.

    *    *    *    *    *

Do not believe that this is nothing but theoretical nonsense--that I am
discussing matters of which I know nothing. For there was a time when I
felt the fascination of the gun myself; there was a time when I too was
a great shot. The man who is now sitting here and scribbling about his
love for animals, shoots no more; but it is with an indulgent smile on
his lips that he looks back upon the whimsical sportsman of bygone days.

Yes, I have been a sportsman--a great sportsman. I have often made long
journeys to join shooting parties, and more than once there was no one
in the whole company who fired off as many cartridges as I did. All my
best friends were amongst sportsmen, and it was seldom indeed I failed
to be present on the opening day of the season. We had lots of good
sport about my place, but the best was blackcock-shooting. Do you know
anything about blackcock-shooting? A very fine sport. How many pleasant
recollections have I not from those happy sporting days! how many joyful
rambles through the silent forests! how many peaceful hours passed away
in half-waking dreams, with the head leaning against a mossy hillock
and soft murmuring pines all around! And how happy, too, was my poor old
Tom during these never-to-be-forgotten days of sport! How glad was he to
scamper about on the soft moss instead of the stones of the streets! how
contentedly he lay down to harmonious contemplations by my side--so near
that I could now and then caress his beautiful head and catch a friendly
glance from his half-open eyes. He knew I was always in splendid temper
on those shooting days, and that was all he required to be perfectly
happy himself. But if I begin to speak about my dear old dog we shall
never arrive at the blackcock, and it is about them I want to speak
to-day.

The gamekeeper had long known the whereabouts of the birds, and
carefully exploring the woods he had often enough heard the call of the
hen; the blackcock chicks had, so to speak, grown up under his eyes, and
he had tried in all sorts of ways to take care of them, the good
gamekeeper! And now since they had grown up, the important thing had
been to keep them undisturbed lest they should be dispersed. We
sportsmen came down the day before the opening day, and well do I
remember those pleasant evenings, with a stroll in the forest to clear
the lungs from the dust of the town, and then supper in the gamekeeper's
cottage in excellent company, flavoured with stories of first-rate shots
and marvellous adventures. At first I used to be rather shy, and would
silently sit and listen to the others' wonderful tales, but I soon got
to learn the trick, and having once mastered the technical terms, I had
shot every kind of game at every conceivable range. After dinner, when
we got hold of our pipes, I had killed swallows with bullets at
tremendous distances, and my friends began to consult me about guns and
cartridges and all the other paraphernalia, and were most anxious to
have my advice about the arrangements for the next day. Tom lay beside
us in the grass and stared with solemn dignity at the company, winking
knowingly at me with one eye when no one else was looking, whilst I was
telling them about his pedigree and some of his most astounding
achievements. When we had delivered ourselves of all our stories, and
every one's power of invention had come to an end, we began to yawn, and
soon dispersed to our sleeping-quarters to gain strength for next day's
hard work.

I remember so well my first blackcock. I had happened to come upon the
birds during a short walk with the gamekeeper in the afternoon, and I
had heard the mother's anxious call, and had seen some clumsy blackcock
children following after her into the forest. I was so excited that I
could not close my eyes all night, and could think of nothing but
blackcock. Outside, the enchanting summer night allured me to its
darkening fells and mysterious woods, and it was as though I could see
before my eyes the condemned blackcock where they sat and slept their
last sleep. Everything was still in the cottage, and, silent as ghosts,
Tom and I glided out armed to the teeth. Yes, I could see the blackcock
so distinctly before me, that I had scarcely reached the glen where we
had come upon them in the afternoon than I fired off my gun. No
blackcock fell. But hardly had the dreadful thunder of the gun died away
than the whole forest woke up. Startled small birds fluttered backward
and forward deeper into the brushwood. A little squirrel peeped
cautiously between two branches, dropped in his fright the fir-cone he
was crunching, and then jumped hastily away. The nasty smoke spread with
the wind farther in the wood, and pinched the nose of a hare who sat
half-asleep under a bush. "I smell human blood," said the hare to
himself, like the giant to Tom Thumb, and off he went in a tremendous
hurry to find a safer refuge for the day's rest. Tom and I watched him
with interest as he stopped short in catching sight of us, stamped with
his paws, and then scampered off. The hare has the reputation of being
rather ugly; we noticed, on the contrary, that he was quite graceful in
his elegant leap over a fallen fir-tree, and I was sorry he did not give
us a little longer time in which to look at him. It is not every day one
gets a hare; and very satisfied with the beginning of our day, we went
on farther into the forest, keeping a sharp look-out for the blackcock.
We soon left the forest track and wandered along over the moss, soft as
velvet, without the slightest idea where we were going. So we came upon
a little brook which cheerfully murmured in our ears as he hurried
along, would we not like to accompany him down to the lake? and that we
did, to make sure that he did not go astray in the gloom between
hillocks and stones. We could not see him, but we heard him singing to
himself the whole time. Now and then he stopped short at a jutting rock
or fallen tree and waited for us, and then he rushed down the vale
quicker than ever to make up for lost time. Yes, it was easy enough for
him, who had nothing to carry but some flowers and dry leaves, to rush
off with such a speed; he should have had that confounded gun to drag
with him, he would then have seen how easy a matter it was! And thus it
happened that he ran away from us. We did not know what to do next, so
we fired off a shot again. No blackcock fell. But we had scarcely time
to load the gun again before we came upon the whole covey. Fancy if I
had not had time to load! But they got it all right. There was a
tremendous whirring up in the tree-tops, and on heavy wings they
dispersed in different directions. We thought the blackcock was a very
fine bird, who looks exceedingly well in a forest.

Hallo! There he came again, our friend the brook, dancing toward us
happier than ever, and I bent down to kiss his night-cool face just as
he glided past me. Ah! now there was no longer any danger that he should
lose his way, for already the night had fled away on swift dwarf-feet to
hide itself deeper in the forest under the thick firs. Around us birches
and aspens put on their green coats, and amongst the moss and fern at
our feet small flowers stretched their pretty heads out of the gloom and
looked at us as we passed. And deep below in the misty valley a lake
opened its eyelid.

So we got sick of blackcock-shooting and we sat down on a mossy stone to
read a chapter of Nature's bible whilst the sun rose above the fir-tops
and the sky brightened over our heads.

The disturber of the peace sat there quite quiet, silently wondering to
himself how it could be possible that men exist who have the heart to
bring sorrow and death into a friendly forest. And the small birds also
began to wonder, wonder whether that dreadful thunder which awoke them
was only a bad dream; the whole forest was so silent again, and
perchance it might not be so dangerous to try a little song! And so they
took courage one after another and began each to sing their tune. Some
were perfect artists and sang long arias with trills and variations;
some sang folk-songs; some knew nothing but a little refrain, and that
they did not in the least mind repeating over and over again; and some
only knew how to hum a single little note, but they were just as merry
for all that. And now and again one could hear among all the soprani a
rich melodious alto who sang an old ballad--listen! that is the
greatest artist in the whole forest; that is the blackbird!

So I thanked my little wild friends for their song; they knew well how
happy I felt with them. But I was obliged to turn home again. I told
them that I was a sportsman and that I had to be at the rendezvous with
my party at seven sharp. I told them to be prudent, to listen carefully
for the sound of our voices and to fly on quick wings as soon as we
approached--they must be aware that men are so unmusical that they do
not know how to appreciate a soulful artist; that they are so unkind,
one can never know what may happen. And the merry squirrels, the
red-skinned little acrobats of the woods, I told them also to be on the
look-out, to take care not to crunch their fir-cones too loudly and not
to peep too much from behind their tree--they must know that men are so
cold in their hearts that to keep warm they wrap themselves in furs
made from their small red coats. I had also prepared a speech for the
blackcock, but, as I never caught sight of them again, I could not
deliver it. But I had the impression that they had grasped the situation
thoroughly, and that was all I wanted of them.

I was punctual at the rendezvous, and the party set off in excellent
spirits. We roamed about the whole day, strode miles and miles with our
huge game-bags dangling behind our backs, sank knee-deep into morasses
and bogs, climbed over hundreds of hedges and tore our faces with the
branches of the tangled brushwood. We were all to meet in the evening at
the shooting-box, where supper (with roast blackcock) was to be served,
and where also, idyllic enough, ladies were to come to give the
sportsmen welcome, and to share the spoil.

As one sportsman after the other, hungry and disappointed, reached the
meeting-place, dragging his gun after him, those who were already there
looked eagerly at his bag. I was one of the last, and I saw at once that
the situation was gloomy. I was also in a bad temper, having just
discovered that I had unfortunately left my gun behind somewhere, and I
could not remember in the least where it might be. I was very
disagreeably surprised to see one of the party with a cry of triumph
seize hold of my bag. The bag looked really as if it were filled, but
the fact was I was absolutely unprepared for such importunate
examination. I protested and said it contained nothing but small birds
and squirrels, but he took the bag from me and the whole party watched
with avaricious eyes when he thrust in his hand and fumbled in the bag.
After he had pulled out my whole little shooting-library, Heine and
Alfred de Musset and my old friend Leopardi, all the sportsmen looked at
each other with amazement. And I quite lost my head. They became
absolutely furious when, with my unfortunate absent-mindedness, I
happened to let out that I had made a little private excursion before
sunrise and by chance had come across some blackcock. "_But had you not
time to fire at them?_" they cried, shaking me by the arms and pulling
at my coat. "_Yes, of course, I had time to fire, but the blackcock had
also time to get away._" "_Did you not aim at the thick of the covey?_"
they yelled with bloodshot eyes and contorted faces. "_No, I think that
I aimed at a little cloud, and, for the matter of that, I think I hit
it, for a moment later I saw that the sky was beautifully blue._" My
remark about the cloud must have been to the point, for it made them
absolutely dumbfounded; they only shook their heads in silence and
stared at me while I put my books in the bag again. I had not time to
stay longer, having to go and look at the effects of the sunset deeper
in the wood, and I politely begged them to excuse me for breaking up
the party.

I had not gone many steps before there broke out a frightful dispute
amongst them as to who was guilty of having brought me amongst them,
and, as far as I could make out, they called me "that idiot."

I was never invited to that place any more. For the matter of that, it
was an observation I often made--I was never invited more than once to
any place. To my astonishment I saw myself cut out from one house-party
after another, and there sprang up a rumour that I brought bad luck with
me. Isn't it odd, this often-observed tendency to superstition amongst
sportsmen?

    *    *    *    *    *

I have really no time to linger any longer over my new game-laws, for I
have so many other reforms concerning the animals at hand. Only think
how much there is to be done for domestic animals also! The division of
labour forms here a most important chapter. The domestic animals will
only have to work a certain number of hours a day, in proportion to
their strength, and not, as now, work themselves to death. And so when
age comes upon them men will have to try to give back to the tired
animals a small part of all that these humble fellow-workmen have given
to them as long as they were able. Surely the domestic animals belong to
the family; and just as the old labourer is allowed to end his days in
peace in his little cottage, so shall the old horse, when his eyes begin
to grow dim and his legs to get stiff, be allowed to rest in his stall;
and now and then one should go and pet the old servant with grateful
hands, and give him his bit of bread as before. The old worn-out ox,
surely he too might be allowed at last to glean a little dry hay from
the fields which he in his strong days has so many times ploughed for
the seed, which year after year filled the farmer's barn with golden
sheaves and sweet clover. And the kind, sympathetic little donkeys,
whose whole life is a series of self-renunciation, and whose melancholy
is an unheard protest against the degradation into which they have
fallen--surely I shall not forget you in my reforms, my poor Italian
friends! And keep up your courage, resigned little donkeys! your cause
is a good one, the tyranny of barbarians shall come to an end one day,
and the oppressed animals shall be given back their right to enjoy life,
even they! And the day will come when you are to be reinstated in the
high social position which your misunderstood intelligence and your
subtle humour entitle you to hold, and when you shall throw back in the
faces of your oppressors the epithet which short-sighted men now apply
to you!

The sanitary condition of animals is to be improved a great deal.
Hospitals and asylums for sick and aged animals are to be founded. Up
till now I know personally of only two almshouses, that in London for
"lost and starving dogs"--where they are not so badly cared for--and
that in Florence for aged and infirm cats--it includes a _crêche_ for
lost and orphan kittens (it has been founded by an English lady, I
believe).

The jurisdiction is to be entirely changed. Flogging is only to be
allowed in certain exceptional cases, and only after serious
remonstrances and repeated warnings. There is nothing in the whole of
creation so stubborn as a school-boy when he tries his best; well, now,
when one is no longer allowed to flog him, why may one then be allowed
to beat the animal whose duller perception ought so much the more to
protect him from the birch-rod?

Capital execution--I recognise its necessity--is to be changed from
arbitrary barbarity to an institution watched over by mildness and
tenderness for the condemned animal. The animal-executioners should form
a corporation apart, kept under the severest supervision. The profession
is a repulsive but a necessary one, and the individuals who enlist
themselves on its roll deserve high wages.

    *    *    *    *    *

It was never meant that man should be an autocratic tyrant in the great
society which peoples the world, but a constitutional monarch. I had
dreamt of a republic, but I admit that our earth is not yet ripe for
this form of government. Yes, man is the ruler of the earth; always
victorious, he carries his blood-stained banner round the world, and his
kingdom has no longer any limit. But man is an upstart--I, at any rate,
cannot believe all his talk about his high birth. He will try to take us
in by saying that he is a foundling who was mysteriously put into the
nursery of creation, and that he is of far nobler origin than anybody
else on the whole earth. It is true there is something peculiar about
him, and that he is domineering and arrogant: that he showed early
enough. Even when a baby, and lying at Nature's mother-breast, he pushed
away the other children of the earth, and drank the strength of life in
deep draughts. Hardly could he crawl before he scratched his kind nurse
in the face and beat his weaker foster-brothers. So he grew up to be a
true bully, a brutish Protanthropos, breaking down each obstacle,
subduing with the right of the stronger all opposition. And the law of
selection enlarged his facial angle, and culture put arms in his hands.
How could the sickle-like claws of _Ursus spelæus_ (cave-bear) prevail
against his trident studded with thorns or twig-spikes or set with
razor-edged shells? What could the six-inch long canines of Machærodus
do against his sharpened flint? And so they disappeared, one after the
other, these vanquished giants, into the gloom of past ages. But the
power of man expanded more and more, and higher and higher flew his
thoughts. Now the earth lies at his feet, and he prepares to assault
heaven! And he has been so spoiled by all his success, so refined by all
civilisation, that he turns up his aristocratic nose whenever one
reminds him of his childhood. And his humble old ancestors, among whom
his cradle stood, and all his poor relations who, homeless, rove about
the earth, these he will not own at all, and he is so hard to them. But
man is no longer young--no one knows exactly how many hundred thousand
years he carries on his back; but I think it is time for him to reflect
a little upon all the evil he has done in his days, and try to grow a
little kinder in his old age. The day will come when the last man will
lie down to die, and when a new-crowned king of creation will mount the
throne--_le roi est mort, vive le roi!_ So falls the twilight of ages
round the sarcophagus where the dead monarch sleeps in the Pantheon of
Palæontology. The dust covers the inscription which records all the
honorary titles of the dead, and the standards which witnessed his
victories moulder away. Up there in the new planet sits a professor, and
lectures about the remains from prehistoric times, and he hands round to
his audience a fragile cranium, which is carefully examined by wondering
students. It is our cranium, with that upright facial angle and that
large brain-pan which was our pride! And the professor makes a casual
remark about _Homo Sapiens_, and he points out the fang which is still
to be seen in the jaw.

We learn from the long story of the development of our race that the
hunter-stage was the lowest of all human conditions, the most purely
animal. The pursuing and killing of animals for mere pleasure is a
humiliating reminiscence from this time of savagery. Man's right over
the animal is limited to his right of defence, and his right of
existence. The former can only very seldom be evoked in our country; the
latter cannot be evoked by our class.

A man of culture recognises his obligations towards animals as a
compensation for the servitude he imposes on them. The pursuing and
killing of animals for mere pleasure is incompatible with the fulfilment
of these obligations. Sympathy extending beyond the limit of humanity,
_i.e._ kindness to animals, is one of the latest moral qualities
acquired by mankind. This sympathy is absolutely lacking in the lowest
human races, and the degree of this sympathy possessed by an individual
marks the distance which separates him from his primitive state of
savagery.

An individual who enjoys the pursuing and killing of animals is thus to
be considered as a transitional type between a savage and a man of
culture. He forms the missing link in the evolution of the mind from
brutishness to humanity.



  TO ----

                "The firmest friend,
  The first to welcome, foremost to defend."

    Byron.


We have camped together for the whole of ten years. We have stuck to
each other in both joy and sorrow; honestly we have shared good and
evil.

When I am happy he is also happy; he does not for a moment consider if
he has any personal reason to cheer up; he doesn't ask for any
explanations; he only thinks of partaking in my pleasure--only a glance,
a nod, or a single friendly word is enough for him, and his whole honest
face lights up with my joy. And when I am depressed and miserable, he
then sits so sorrowfully by my side. He does not try to console me, for
he knows how little words of pity avail; he says nothing, for he knows
that silence is a comfort when one is sad. He only looks steadfastly at
me, and maybe puts his big head on my knee. He knows that he cannot
fathom what it is that worries me; that his poor, dark brain cannot
follow me in all I am thinking about; but his faithful heart anyhow
wants to claim his share of my burden.

Others think I am quick-tempered and angry, and pay me back in the same
way; his patient indulgence knows how to forgive everything; his
friendship stands the trial against all injustice. Am I nervous and hard
on him when I leave him, he rewards evil with good and comes just as
friendly and caressingly to meet me when I come back. Others sit in
judgment over my many faults, and have only words of blame for whatever
I take in hand; he tries with loving eagerness to find out the least
ugly side of everything; he refuses to believe me capable of anything
wrong. When I defend a cause, I am too often considered to be in the
wrong; but he thinks always as I do. In the moment of adversity no
friends are to be found; he is always at my side ready to defend me
against any peril, happy, if required, to give his life for mine.

He never complains; he is always satisfied, however uncomfortable he is,
if only he may be allowed to be with me. He can sit for hours out in the
street waiting patiently, in cold and rain, whilst I am visiting some of
my acquaintances where he is not received. Is there no room in the
carriage when I drive, he runs just as cheerfully behind me; he is even
delighted when I am driving; he is proud of me; he thinks it looks
grand. Do I go out in my boat, without hesitation he jumps in the water
after me; he swims as long as he has any breath left, and when his
strength begins to give out, with a last effort he raises himself out of
the water to look after the boat, but to return to the shore he never
dreams of. When I travel by train, he sits, without complaining, cramped
up in his little compartment for however long it may be, without a scrap
of comfort, with the sharp wind blowing straight through, sore in all
his bones with the continual shaking, softened by no springs, black in
his face as a sweep from the smoke of the engine. And anyhow, whenever
the train stops, he shouts out cheerfully that he is there, and all well
on board. Have I time to run forward and look at him, he peeps out
patiently and contentedly through his little barred window, and presses
his dry nose against my hand--never a hint that he is aware how
uncomfortable he is, compared to me in my luxurious wagon-lit; never the
slightest complaint against the railway company who has done so
surprisingly little for travellers of his class.

But if he, out of delicacy for me, has never wanted to make any
complaint, I do not see why I should be kept back from doing so by any
such consideration. And I may as well tell you that I am thinking of
getting up a petition to protest against _the unfair distribution of
comfort for railway travellers_. I have been inquiring about it for the
many years I have knocked about on the railways of all nations, and I am
pretty sure that I may count upon a great number of signatures from
travellers concerned. Man, who always takes the best of everything, and
thinks of nobody but himself, has also succeeded in securing all sorts
of advantages from the railway companies--advantages which exclusively
benefit him, but which are a crying injustice towards other travellers,
who have also paid for their tickets, and consequently have a right,
even they, to claim the fulfilment of the obligations which the railway
company has accepted towards them. If I am waked up in the night in my
comfortable berth by the heating apparatus having gone wrong, and find
the compartment cold, I have only to complain to the conductor; but I
have innumerable times heard loud complaints from the dog-compartments
about the ice-cold night-wind blowing straight through them, and I have
never noticed any one pay the slightest attention to this. If my
neighbour lights a cigar, and having blown a cloud of smoke in my face,
asks me if I object to his smoking, although it is not a smoking
compartment, I have only to answer "Yes," to get rid of the smoke; but
who has ever asked the dogs if they object to the thick fumes of coal
which the engine puffs in their faces the whole time, where the poor
fellows sit in the front van?

All trains stop at certain places for refreshment, and we have only to
run into the buffet to eat our fill; but is there any one who knows how
difficult it is to get a little food and a drink of water for a
travelling dog? The minutes are counted, and you are served in turn as
you come to the buffet, you believe. No, not in the very least, the dogs
are always skipped over, even if they have their money lying ready
before them on the table; and as often as not, when their turn comes the
bell rings, and the train is off. When I was in the first stage of my
human knowledge--the Idealistic--I always asked for some food for my
dog; that was no good, no waiter was kind enough to listen to that.
Later, when in the second stage--that of Vanishing Illusions--I asked at
once for a beefsteak for my dog; that was not much better, the chances
of getting anything are very small. In the third stage--that of
Hopeless Pessimism--I immediately ask for dinner for two, and turn two
chairs at the _table d'hôte_; Tappio disappears instantly under the
table, and I hand down to him his portion as it is placed before his
chair. I have acquired such a practice in this that nobody notices where
the food goes, and silent as a ghost, Tappio swallows down both cutlets
and pastry in one gulp--the only thing which has made him lose
countenance has been the, in Italy, not uncommon practice of serving
ice-cream, of the inconvenience of which, at railway dinners, I agree
with him. I remember how once in Macon--the Paris-Turin night-train used
to stop there for supper--we had as neighbours a peaceful family of
bourgeois, the members of which, one after the other, dropped their
knives and forks as the dinner proceeded, and stared at me and my
rapidly vanishing double portions with increasing amazement. At last a
little old lady, who was of the party, exclaimed, quite aloud, "_Voilà
un homme que je ne voudrais pas inviter à dîner, il serait capable de
manger les assiettes aussi!_"

    *    *    *    *    *

Yes, we have seen a good deal of the world; we have met many people on
our way; our experience of life is large enough. There was a time when
we were ambitious we also, very ambitious. We dreamt of prize medals and
certificates for both of us, of Persian carpets under our feet, and of
roasted ortolans flying straight into our mouths. That time is past, one
of us is already gray, but no roasted ortolans have flown into our
mouths, nor any Persian carpets spread themselves under our feet. And
when the floor feels too cold, I lay down my cloak for my comrade to lie
upon. And we begin to realise what man is worth. We used to be idealists
because we believed that others were idealists. We were gentle and
harmless as lambs because we believed that others were so. We were
philanthropists. But we have discovered that we were mistaken. Men are
not at all kind to each other. They talk so much about friendship, but
there are only very few of them who are capable of realising the true
signification of this word.

But, to be sure, they laugh if one gives to a dog's faithful devotion
the name of friendship, if with thankful recognition one strives to
repay as far as lies in one's power the humble comrade whom they call
but a soulless animal, whose fine, sensitive thought they call instinct,
and for whose honest, noble soul they deny all right to live any longer
than his faithful dog-heart beats.

If this be not virtue, this all-sacrificing, all-self-denying,
all-injustice-forgetting love,--well, then, I don't know what virtue
means; and should his only reward for a whole life's faithful devotion
consist in being shot in his old age and buried under a tree in the
park at home, then all I can say is, that I do not believe that we
either will get beyond the grave where our remains will one day be laid.



  MONSIEUR ALFREDO


I do not in the least know how I happened to come upon the modest little
café, nor do I know how it came to pass that during the whole of that
year I frequented no other.

I wonder whether it was not on account of Monsieur Alfredo that I became
an habitué there.

He evidently had his luncheon later than I, as I had already had time to
smoke a couple of cigarettes before he made his appearance at the Café
de l'Empereur, upright and trim in his tightly-buttoned frock-coat, a
roll of manuscript under his arm, and his gray hair in neat curls
surrounding his wrinkled, childlike face. The waiter brought him his
little cup of coffee and placed the chess-board between us. Monsieur
Alfredo, with old-fashioned courtesy, inquired after my health, and I on
my side received satisfactory assurances as to his well-being. I busied
myself in placing the chess-men, and whilst I groped under the table to
find that pawn which somehow or other had always fallen to the ground,
Monsieur Alfredo rapidly produced his lump of sugar out of his pocket
and put it into his cup.

We always played two games. I am singularly unlucky in games, and the
old man, who loved chess, beamed all over every time he checkmated me.
He played very slowly, but with amazing boldness, and even after having
played with him every day for months together, I was still incapable of
forming an opinion as to which of us played the worse. What puzzled me
most of all was the fact that Monsieur Alfredo seldom or never played
anything but kings and queens; occasionally, with reluctance, he would
put the knights, castles, and bishops into requisition, but as to the
pawns, he appeared to ignore them altogether. I had never before seen
anybody play in this way, and often enough had I to look very sharp to
make sure of losing.

The conversation turned on literature, and above all, the theatre.
Monsieur Alfredo was extremely exacting as to dramatic art, and approved
of no other form than the tragic. He was exceedingly difficult as to
authors. I was just then full of Victor Hugo, but Monsieur Alfredo
considered him much too sentimental. Racine and Corneille he thought
better of, although he gave me to understand he considered them lacking
in power. He despised comedy and refused point-blank to admit Scribe,
Augier, Labiche, or Dumas as celebrities. One only needed to mention the
name of Offenbach or Lecocq to make the otherwise peaceful Monsieur
Alfredo fall into a complete rage; he then burst forth into Italian,
which he never spoke unless greatly excited; he denounced them as
_Birbanti_, and _Avvelenatori_,[20]--they had with their music spread
the poison which had killed the good taste of a whole generation, and
they were, to a great extent, responsible for the downfall of tragedy in
our days.

He seemed well informed in everything concerning the Paris theatres, and
was evidently a frequent playgoer himself; I had once or twice hinted
that we should go to the theatre together some evening, but had observed
that Monsieur Alfredo never seemed willing to understand me.

As soon as we had finished our second game, Monsieur Alfredo produced
four sous wrapped up in paper, called the waiter and asked what he had
to pay, and laid his four sous on the table. The Café de l'Empereur was
not a very expensive place, as you may perceive; on the Boulevard St.
Michel they charged you eight sous for a cup of coffee, here you only
had to pay four if you took it without milk or sugar--Monsieur Alfredo
had long ago confided to me his experience that sugar took away half the
fragrance of coffee. I, who was not so particular, had both sugar and
milk with my coffee, and cognac besides, but never once had I succeeded
in getting Monsieur Alfredo to accept a glass from me. I had tried to
tempt him with everything the Café de l'Empereur could offer, but the
old gentleman had always declined courteously but firmly.

I knew that Monsieur Alfredo was an author, and that it was the
manuscript of a five-act tragedy he carried under his arm. I have always
admired authors and artists, and I tried my best to make him understand
how flattered I felt by his society. I had long ago told him everything
about myself and my affairs, but Monsieur Alfredo showed for a long
while a singular reticence in all that concerned himself. Sometimes, on
leaving the café together, I had tried to accompany him for a while,
but, once in the streets, he always wished me good-bye, and I could
easily see that I was not wanted. I had also expressed a wish to be
allowed to call upon him, but had been given to understand that his time
was very limited just then, and feeling sure that the tragedy was the
cause of it all, I took good care not to disturb him.

He never came to the café in the evening, so I then lounged there alone
smoking. Every now and then I dined with some of my fellow-students down
on the boulevards, but as true inhabitants of the Quartier Latin, it was
only seldom that we crossed the Seine. One evening, however, some one at
the dinner-table proposed that we should all drive down to the Variétés
to see Offenbach's _Les Brigands_, and somehow or another they carried
me off with them.

I believe the whole pit was full of students. We were in tremendous
spirits, and applauded quite as vigorously as the _claque_ which
occupied the row behind us. It seemed to me as though I were playing my
old friend from the Café de l'Empereur false, and I felt how he would
despise me had he seen me, and I made up my mind not to tell him
anything about it. But I could not help it, I roared with laughter the
whole time. The last words of a song were hardly over before the
_claque_ broke out with a deafening applause, and we and the whole pit
followed their lead with right good will. And so when we collapsed and
could move our arms no longer, the _claque_ had recuperated its
strength, and the brilliant farce was hailed once more with thundering
applause by the joyless spectators behind us, where a whole chorus of
poor devils shouted "bravo, bravo!" for next day's bread.

Suddenly I was startled by a "bravo, bravo!" which came a little after
the rest. I turned rapidly round, and ran my eye over the _claque_, and
then to the astonishment of my comrades, I took my hat and slunk out of
the theatre.

The joyous music rang in my ears the whole way home, but I felt that
tears were not far from my eyes that night.

No, I never told Monsieur Alfredo that I had been to see _Les Brigands_.
I never alluded again in our conversations to Offenbach and Lecocq, and
never more did I try to accompany the old gentleman to the theatre.

Next day, after we had finished our game of chess, I followed him home
at some little distance. I went to his house that same evening, and
whilst I stood there contemplating the card on Monsieur Alfredo's door,
the concierge made her appearance, and informed me that he never spent
the evenings at home. "Was I perhaps a pupil?" I answered in the
affirmative. I asked her if he had many pupils just then, and she
answered I was the first she had ever seen.

It was towards the end of autumn that I communicated to Monsieur Alfredo
my irrevocable decision to throw medicine to the winds and to devote
myself to the stage, and to my great satisfaction he consented to become
my instructor in deportment and declamation. The lessons were given at
my rooms in the Hôtel de l'Avenir. The old fellow's method was a
peculiar one, and his theories on acting as bold as those he held on
chess. I listened with the utmost attention to all he said, and tried as
well as I could to learn the fundamental rules of deportment he saw fit
to teach me. After a while he acceded to my request to be allowed to try
myself in a rôle, and fully aware of my preference for tragedy, it was
decided that, under the immediate superintendence of the author
himself, I should get up one of the characters in Monsieur Alfredo's
last work, _Le Poignard_, a tragedy in five acts. Monsieur Alfredo
himself was the king and I was the marquis. I admit that my début was
not a happy one. I saw that the author was far from satisfied with me,
and I realised myself that my marquis was a dead failure. My next début
was in the rôle of the English lord in the five-act tragedy, _La
Vengeance_, but neither there were there any illusions possible as to my
success. I then tried my luck as the count in _Le Secret du Tombeau_,
but with a very doubtful result. I then sank down to a viscount, and
made superhuman efforts to keep up to the mark, but notwithstanding the
indulgent way in which Monsieur Alfredo pointed out my shortcomings, I
could not conceal from myself the fact that I was not fit to be a
viscount either.

I began to have serious doubts as to my theatrical vocation, but
Monsieur Alfredo thought that the reason of my failure might be traced
to my unfamiliarity with the highest society, and my difficulty in
adapting myself to the sensations and thoughts of these high personages.
And he was right--it was anything but easy. All his heroes and heroines
were very sorry for themselves, not to say desperate, although as a rule
it was impossible for me to understand the reason of their being so.
Love and hatred glowed in every one's eyes. True that as a rule
everything went wrong for the lovers, but even if they got each other at
last, they did not seem to be a bit the more cheerful for that. I
remember, for instance, the third act of _Le Poignard_, where I (the
marquis), after having waded through blood, succeed in winning the lady
of my heart, who on her side has gone through fire and water to be mine.
The Archbishop marries us by moonlight, and we, who had not seen each
other for ten years, are left alone for a while in a bower of roses. We
had nothing on earth to be afraid of; no one was likely to disturb us,
as I had previously run my sword through every grown-up person in the
play, and I thought that I ought to be a little kind to the marchioness.
But Monsieur Alfredo never found my voice tragic enough during the few
brief moments of happiness he granted us. (We perished shortly
afterwards in an earthquake.)

For the matter of that, those who escaped a violent death were not much
better off--they were carried off in any case in the flower of their
youth by sudden inexplicable ailments, which no amount of care could
contend against. At first I tried to save some of the victims, but
Monsieur Alfredo always looked very astonished when I suggested that
some one might be allowed to recover; and knowing his theory that it was
sentimentality that spoiled Victor Hugo as a dramatist, I ceased more
and more to interfere in the matter.

After a few more abortive attempts to pose as a nobleman, I submitted to
Monsieur Alfredo my opinion that I might do better in a more humble
position. But here we were met by an unforeseen obstacle--Monsieur
Alfredo did not descend below viscounts. If by the exigencies of the
plot a lonely representative of the lower orders had to appear on the
scene, he had no sooner got a word out of his mouth before the author
would fling a purse at his head, and send him back into the wings with
an imperial wave of his shiny coat sleeve. Well, away with all false
pride! It was in these rôles I at last hit upon my true genre; it was
here I scored my only triumphs. Imperceptibly to the old man, I
disappeared more and more from the répertoire, would now and then cross
the stage and with a deep obeisance deliver a manuscript letter from
some crowned head, or would occasionally come to carry off a
corpse--that was all.

So the autumn passed on, we had gone through one tragedy after another,
and still Monsieur Alfredo constantly turned up with a new manuscript
under his arm. I began to be afraid that the old man would wear himself
out with this fathomless authorship, and I tried in every possible way
to make him rest a little. This was, however, quite impossible. He now
came every single day to Hôtel de l'Avenir to his only pupil and
literary confidant. His guileless, childish face seemed to grow more and
more gentle, and more and more was I drawn towards the poor old
enthusiast with a sort of tender sympathy.

And unquenchable and ever more unquenchable became his literary
bloodthirstiness. By Christmas-time his new tragedy was ready, and
Monsieur Alfredo himself looked upon it as his best work. The scene was
laid in Sicily at the foot of Mount Etna in the midst of burning
lava-streams. Not a soul survived the fifth act. I begged for the life
of a Newfoundland dog, who, with a dead heir in his mouth, had swum over
from the mainland, but Monsieur Alfredo was inexorable. The dog threw
himself into the crater of Etna in the last scene.

But while the lava of Mount Etna was heating Monsieur Alfredo's world of
dreams, the winter snow was falling over Paris. All of us had long since
taken to our winter coats, but my poor professor was still wandering
about in his same old frock-coat, so shiny with constant brushing, so
thread-bare with the wear and tear of years. The nights became so cold,
and sadly did I follow in my thoughts the poor old man tramping home
every night across the streets of Paris after the theatre was over.
Many times was I very near broaching the delicate subject, but was
always deterred by the sensitive pride with which he sought to disguise
his poverty. Yet had I never seen him in such excellent spirits as he
was just then, he placed greater expectations than ever on his new
tragedy. Like all his previous plays it was written for the Théâtre
Français. The systematic ill-will with which Mons. Perrin[21] had
refused to accept any work of his had certainly made him turn his
thoughts to the Odéon Theatre; but with due consideration to the
colossal proportions of his new drama, Monsieur Alfredo did not quite
see how to avoid offering it to the very first theatre in Paris.

Maybe it seems to you that I ought to have pointed out to Monsieur
Alfredo the dangerous flights of his imagination, that I ought to have
tried to make him realise that his theatre was erected on quite another
planet than ours. I did nothing of the sort, and you would not have done
so either had you known him as I did, had you witnessed the anxiety with
which his kind eyes sought for my approval, how his sad old child-face
brightened up when he recited some passage which he expected would
especially dumbfound me--which alas! it seldom failed to do. But I had
arrived so far that I was quite incapable of spoiling his pleasure by a
single word of criticism. Silently I listened to tragedy after tragedy,
and there was no need to simulate being serious, for all my laughter
over his wild creations was silenced by the tragedy of reality, all my
criticism was disarmed by his utter helplessness--he did not even
possess an overcoat! The only audience the poor old man ever had was me,
why then shouldn't I bestow upon him a little approval, he whom life
had so unmercifully hissed?

One afternoon he did not turn up at the Café de l'Empereur, and in vain
I waited for him before the chess-board the next day. I waited still
another day, but then, driven by uneasy forebodings, I went to look him
up towards evening. The concierge had not seen him go out, and there was
no answer to my knock at his door. I stood there for a moment or two
looking at the faded old visiting-card nailed on his door--

  +------------------------------------------+
  |                                          |
  |  Mr. ALFREDO                             |
  |                                          |
  |  Auteur Dramatique                       |
  |                                          |
  |  Professeur de Déclamation, de Maintien  |
  |                                          |
  |  et de Mise en Scène.                    |
  |                                          |
  +------------------------------------------+

And then I quietly opened the door and went in.

The old man lay on his bed delirious, not recognising the unbidden guest
who stood there, sadly looking round the empty garret cold as the
streets without, for there was no fireplace.

It was sunny and bright next day, and it was easy to remove him to the
hospital close by--I was on the staff there for the matter of that. He
had pneumonia. They were all very kind to the old gentleman, both the
doctors and the students, and dear Soeur Philomène managed matters so
successfully that she got a private room for him. He continued delirious
the whole of that day and night, but towards morning he became conscious
and recognised me. He then insisted on returning at once to his own
quarters, but quieted down considerably on being told he was in a
private room, and that he was quite independent of all the other
patients. After some hesitation he inquired what he would have to pay,
and I answered him I did not think the hospital could charge him
anything, as the _Société des Auteurs Dramatiques_ was entitled to a
free bed, and I doubted whether it would be the right thing to refuse to
avail himself of this privilege, as of course every one knew who he
was. Soeur Philomène, who stood behind his pillow, shook her finger
reprovingly at my little white lie, but I could well see by the
expression of her eyes that she forgave me. I had touched the poor old
author's most sensitive chord; with keenest interest he made me repeat
over and over again what I had said about the _Société des Auteurs
Dramatiques_ and a faint smile of content lit up his faded old face when
at last I had succeeded in making him believe me. From that moment he
seemed quite pleased and satisfied with everything, and he did not
realise himself how rapidly he was sinking. According to his wish, a
little table with writing materials had been placed beside his bed, but
he had not yet tried to write anything.

The night had been worse than usual, and during the morning round I
noticed that Soeur Philomène had hung a little crucifix at the head of
his bed. He lay there quite silent the whole day, once only when he was
given his broth he asked for the name of the most rapid poison, and
Soeur Philomène thought it was prussic acid.

Towards evening he became more feverish, and his eyes began to be
restless. He begged me to sit down beside him, and after swearing me
over to secrecy he unveiled to me the plot of his new tragedy where the
rival gives prussic acid to the bride and bridegroom during the wedding
ceremony. He spoke rapidly and cheerfully, and with a triumphant glance
he asked me whether I thought the Théâtre Français would dare to reject
him this time, and I answered that I did not believe it would dare to do
so. The work was to proceed with great speed, the first act was to be
ready next morning, and in a week's time at the very latest he intended
to send in the manuscript for perusal.

He became more and more delirious, and he did not pay any more attention
to my answers. His eye still rested on mine, but his horizon widened
more and more, for the barriers of this world began to fall away. His
speech became more and more rapid, and I could no longer follow his
staggering thought. But his face still expressed what his failing
perception could no longer form into words, and with deep emotion I
witnessed death bestow on him the joy that life had denied him.

He seemed to listen. There flew a light over his pale features, his eye
sparkled, and with head erect the old man sat up in bed. He shook away
his gray curls, and a shimmer of triumph fell over his brow. With his
hand on his heart the dying author made a low bow, for in the silence of
the falling night he heard the echo of his life's fondest dream; he
heard the Théâtre Français jubilant with applause!

And slowly the curtain sank upon the old author's last tragedy.

[Footnote 20: Scoundrels and poisoners.]

[Footnote 21: The then manager of the Théâtre Français.]



  MONT BLANC

  KING OF THE MOUNTAINS

  Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains;
    They crown'd him long ago
  On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds,
    With a diadem of snow.

      Byron.

    _Note._--The following paper may perhaps be considered rather
    too whimsical by those unacquainted with a little adventure I
    had while descending Mont Blanc, an adventure which began in an
    avalanche and ended happily in a crevasse. The article dances
    away on the rope of a single metaphor, and dances over
    precipices. But the sentiment reflected in the word-picture of
    the title impresses me still so strongly, so much do I still
    admire the anger of the mighty snow-mountain, that I dare not
    approach it with the familiarity of a reporter. I see that here
    and there I have tried to smile--that is because of the pain in
    my frozen foot. When I make fun of Mont Blanc I am reminded of
    an antique bas-relief once seen in Rome, representing a little
    Satyr, who, a look of blank astonishment on his face, measures
    the toe of a sleeping Polyphemus.

The ascent of Mont Blanc is easy.

No one attempts the _Weisshorn_, _Dent Blanche_, or the _Matterhorn_
unless his eye be calm and his foot sure, but we all know that Tartarin
of Tarascon went up Mont Blanc--although he never arrived at the top.

They are indomitable revolutionists, these other mountain giants,
freedom's untamed heroes who refuse to be subjugated save by the sun
alone, haughty lords of the Alps who know themselves to be princes of
the blood.

But Mont Blanc is the crowned king of the Alps. There was a time when he
was sullen and cruel, but he has grown kinder-hearted in his old age,
and now, like a venerable patriarch, he sits there, the white-haired
Charlemagne, looking out in calm majesty over his three kingdoms.

Good-humouredly he suffers the Lilliputians to crawl up the
marble-bright steps that lead into his citadel, and with royal
hospitality he allows them to visit his ice-shining castle.

But when the summer day begins to darken into autumn, he goes to sleep
in his white state bed under a canopy of clouds. And then he does not
like to be disturbed, the old king.

No, he does not like to be disturbed; I knew it well. I had addressed
myself to his retainers and had been told that it was too late for an
audience, that the king did not receive at this time. I had come from
afar, my knapsack on my back, my head full of wonderful stories about
the far-famed palace, and longing to see the proud old mountain-king.

Somewhat disconcerted I hung for a while about the castle gates,
muttering socialistic sentences to myself. I had taken in radical
newspapers all the summer and was not to be treated in that off-hand
way. It is the lot of the great to be subjected to the gaze of
inquisitive eyes, and I can but be turned away, thought I to myself, and
up I went with two followers. Perhaps it was a trifle unceremonious on
my part, but I am not used to the court etiquette of conventionality.

Summer accompanied me a little way; at first she climbed the slopes with
ease, planting her foot firmly in the clefts, but it was not difficult
to see that she, the fair daughter of the valley, did not look forward
to the royal visit as ardently as I did. I had got myself up in
court-dress to pay my respects to the ice-gray monarch, in sharp-spiked
mountain shoes, snow gaiters, and steel-pointed pilgrim staff, but she
was in no wise equipped to meet the requirements of such a journey, poor
little one! The wind pulled and tugged at her leaf-woven petticoat, and
sharp stones cut her green velvet shoes adorned with bows of harebell
and forget-me-not. But she did not give in so easily; she bound her poor
feet with soft moss; she patched her petticoat with bracken and juniper,
and although her fingers were stiff-frozen, neatly and gracefully she
managed to weave some tiny heather-bells between.

And thus we reached the summit of a rock, and on the edge thereof sat
Cerberus, the fierce sentinel of the castle, barking and howling and
shaking his arctic fur till great white tufts flew in the air around. I
have never been afraid of bad-tempered dogs and hailed old Boreas by his
name and asked him in our own language if he did not recognise me, he,
the guardian of my childhood's home. And sure enough he rushed at me
full speed! He laid his paws upon my breast with such force that he
nearly knocked me backward over the cliff, and licked my face with his
icy tongue till I could hardly breathe. But suddenly, in the midst of
his friendly demonstrations, he bit my nose, and, what is more, he
nearly bit it off--that is what I have always said, one cannot be too
careful where strange dogs are concerned! If any one is a lover of dogs
I am, but I did not know how to take that, and hurried on as quickly as
possible. He evidently thought he belonged to the party, and followed us
growling like the brute that he was. But Summer took fright and said she
dared not go any farther, and so we took leave of each other.
Light-footed and joyous she returned to the green of the alpine meadows,
and I, drawing my coat closer round me, went on my way. Some firs also
took courage, and, gripping the rugged granite with sinewy arms, they
followed us up the rock.

Steeper and steeper became the track, fewer and fewer the green-clad
bodyguard which advanced with me. And soon the last of them halted
beneath the shelter of a jutting rock. I asked them if they would not
come a little farther, but they shook their white heads and bade me
farewell. Deeper and deeper penetrated the chill of death into the
mountain's veins; slower and slower beat the heart of Nature; higher
and higher went my path. And there she stood, the last outpost of
Summer, the courageous little child-flower of the mountain heights,
beautiful as her name, _Edelweiss_! She stood there quite alone with her
feet in the snow; no living soul had she to bear her company, but she
was just as neat for all that in her gray little woollen gown edged with
frost pearls, and just as frankly for all that did she look up at the
sun. She also had her part to play, and it was not for me to do her any
harm. I glanced at her a moment and thought how pretty she was, although
so simply dressed in her homespun clothes, poor little half-frozen
Cinderella amongst her summer-fair sisters of the valley.

I stood now on the frontier of the kingdom of Eternal Winter, and firm
of foot I crossed the moat of frozen glacier-waves which surrounded the
citadel of the ice-monarch. There reigned a desolate repose over the
sleeping palace, and I felt that I was drawing nigh unto a king. I
wandered through deserted castle-halls on whose dazzling white carpets
no human foot had ever trod, beneath crystal-glittering temple vaults
through which the organ thundered like the roar of a subterranean river,
between tall colonnades whose cloud-hidden capitals supported the
firmament.

So I gained the highest tower of the castle. The winding staircase
leading thereunto was gone, but with ice-axe and rope we assaulted the
Royal Eagle's nest.

And I stood face to face with the mountain-king. Upon the giant's
forehead sat the beaming diadem of the sun, and an unspeakable splendour
of purple and gold fell over his royal mantle. No echo from the valleys
disturbed his proud repose; mournful in isolated peace he sat on high
surveying his mute kingdom. Silent stood the bodyguard about his throne,
the tall grenadiers with steel-glinting ice armour upon their granite
breasts and cloud-crested helmets upon their snow-white heads. I knew
the weather-beaten features of more than one of them full well, and
reverently I greeted the giants by name, _Schreckhorn_, _Wetterhorn_,
_Finsteraarhorn_, _Monte Rosa_, _Monte Viso_, and her, the virgin
warrior with lowered vizor over her beautiful face immaculate as Diana
in her snow-white garb, _Die Jungfrau_! And my eye dwelt long upon the
proud combatant yonder, Achilles-like in his god-forged armour purpled
with blood, the _Matterhorn_!

But suddenly the king's face darkened and a sombre cloud fell over his
forehead. He took off his crown, and his white curls flew in the wind,
and without paying the slightest attention to us he put on his
night-cap.[22] And we understood that the audience was ended.

But he must be a good sleeper indeed if he be able to rest in such a
noise as this, thought we, for around us there arose a fearful tumult.
The storm raged over our heads till we thought the roof of the castle
would fall in upon us, and Boreas, like a hungry wolf, howled at our
heels. Hastily we retraced our steps through the darkening palace;
through deserted courtyards where spirit hands swept every trace of path
away; through vast state halls, gloomy as chambers of death in their
white draperies; through vaults adown which the organ stormed as on the
Day of Judgment.

But there was something wrong with these old castle-halls--I began to
think they were haunted. There were groans and shrieks; a shrill and
scornful laugh rang suddenly through the air, and beside us flew long
shadows swathed in white--it was not easy to make out what they were;
mountain-wraiths, I suppose.

We then reached a big plain called "_le grand plateau_," but we had
hardly got halfway across it before a cannon shot rent the skies. I
looked up to see the white smoke dancing down the Mont Maudit and a
whole mountain of projectiles bearing down upon us with the speed of an
avalanche--_Sapristi!_ On we went. Then there came a crash as though the
thunder had burst over our heads, the ground gaped under our feet, and I
fell into Hades. Everything became silent and the chill of death fell
over me.

But the instinct of self-preservation roused me, and half awake I sat up
in the coffin and looked around. At the same moment one of my companions
also crept out of his shroud, and by the help of the ice-axe we forced
open the lid that had already been screwed down over our third
companion. And to our astonishment we discovered that we were not dead
at all. We sat imprisoned in a subterranean dungeon waiting for trial,
but we all agreed that we were in the cell of the condemned. Daylight
fell through a narrow rift over our heads, and beside us yawned a great
chasm--it was like the Mamertine prison in Rome. We had time to meditate
upon a good many things. To complain was useless; to protest against our
fate was useless too; all we could do was to hope that the judicial
formalities might be conducted as quickly as possible--_der Tod ist
nichts, aber das Sterben ist eine schändliche Erfindung!_[23]

Now and then a white wraith peeped through the opening and with mocking
laugh threw down great heaps of snow, then swept away over our heads.
"Are you still the lords of the earth, you miserable little human
microbes?" they howled until the vault shook again. We clenched our
teeth and said nothing. At last I got quite angry and shouted back to
them that they were nothing but microbes themselves. I glanced at my
companions and all three of us made a sort of grimace to show how
excellent we thought the joke, but it did not come to much, for the
muscles of laughter had been paralysed in our blue faces. But the
wraiths seemed taken aback all the same, and, summoning up all my
courage, I went on calling out that it was useless to give themselves
such airs, that there was something higher than Mont Blanc itself, and I
pointed towards a star which just then glanced down at us poor devils
through the gray fog bars of the opening. I had hardly got the words out
of my mouth before the wraiths vanished one and all, and by the light of
the brightening evening we saw that they had been transformed into huge
blocks of ice, which, impelled by the avalanche, had stopped short at
the very edge of the crevasse--witchcraft, nothing but witchcraft! But
it was not witchcraft that got us out that time. It was something else
that helped us--that which is higher than Mont Blanc.

[Footnote 22: "_Il met son bonnet_"--the guides' usual and sufficiently
characteristic metaphor referring to that little cloud which suddenly
covers the summit of Mont Blanc--it announces a storm. It looks its best
from a certain distance.]

[Footnote 23: Heine.]



  RAFFAELLA


The picture was considered one of the very best in the whole Salon, and
the young painter's name was on every one's lips. It was always
surrounded by a group of admirers, fascinated by its beauty. She lay
there on a couch of purple, and around her loveliness there fell as it
were a shimmer from life's May-sun. Refined art-critics had settled her
age to be at most sixteen. There was still something of the enchanting
grace of the child in her slender limbs, and it was as if a veil of
innocence protected her.

Who was she, the fair sleeper, the shaping of whose features was so
noble, the harmony of whose limbs was so perfect? Was it true, what
rumour whispered, that the original of the dazzling picture bore one of
the greatest names of France, that a high-born beauty of Faubourg St.
Germain had, unknown to the man, allowed the artist to behold the ideal
he had sought for but never found? Who was she?

The doctor had stood there for a while listening to the murmur of praise
which bore witness to the young painter's triumph, and slowly making his
way through the fashionable crowd he approached the exit. He stopped
there for a moment or two watching one carriage after another roll down
the Champs Elysées, and then he wandered away across Place de la
Concorde and entered the Boulevard St. Germain. The clock struck seven
as he passed St. Germain des Prés and he hastened his steps, for he had
a long way still to go. He turned into one of the small streets near the
Jardin des Plantes, and it soon seemed as if he had left Paris behind
him. The streets began to darken, and narrowed into lanes, the great
shops shrank into small booths, and the cafés became pot-houses. Fine
coats became more and more rare, and blouses more numerous. It was
nearly eight o'clock, just theatre time down on the brilliant
boulevards, and up here groups of workmen wandered home after the day's
toil. They looked tired and heavy-hearted, but the work was hard,
already by six in the morning the bell was rung in the manufactories and
workshops, and many of them had had an hour's walk to come there. Here
and there stood a ragged figure with outstretched hand, he carried no
inscription on his breast telling how he became blind, he did not recite
one word of the story of his misery--he did not need to do that here,
for those that gave him a sou were poor themselves, and most of them had
known what it meant to be hungry.

The alleys became dirtier and dirtier, and heaps of sweepings and refuse
were left in the filthy gutters; it did not matter so much up here where
only poor people lived.

The doctor entered an old tumble-down house, and groped his way up the
slippery dark stairs as high as he could go. An old woman met him at the
door--he was expected. "_Zitto, zitto!_" (hush, hush), said the old
woman, with her fingers on her lips; "she sleeps." And in a whisper _la
nonna_ (the grandmother) reported how things had been going on since
yesterday. Raffaella had not been delirious in the night, she had lain
quite still and calm the whole day, only now and then she had asked to
see the child, and a short while ago she had fallen asleep with the
little one in her arms. Did _il signor Dottore_ wish to wake her up? No,
that he would not do. He sat himself down in silence beside the old
woman on the bench. They were very good friends these two, and he knew
well the sad story of the family.

They were from St. Germano, the village up amongst the mountains half
way between Rome and Naples, whence most of the Italian models came.
They had arrived in Paris barely two years ago with a number of men and
women from their neighbourhood. Raffaella's mother had caught _la
febbre_ and died at Hôtel Dieu a couple of months after their arrival,
and the old woman and the grandchild had had to look after themselves
alone in the foreign city.

And Raffaella had become a model like the others.

And a young artist painted her picture. He painted her beautiful girlish
head, he painted her young bosom. And then fell her poor clothes, and he
painted her maiden loveliness in its budding spring, in the innocent
peace of the sleeping senses. She was the butterfly-winged Psyche, whose
lips Eros has not yet kissed; she was Diana's nymph who, tired after
hunting, unfastens her chiton and, unseen by mortal eyes, bathes her
maiden limbs in the hidden forest lake; she was the fair Dryad of the
grove who falls asleep on her bed of flowers.

His last picture was ready. Fame entered the young artist's studio, and
a ruined child went out from it.

They separated like good friends, he wrote down her address with a piece
of charcoal on the wall, and she went to pose to another painter. So she
went from studio to studio, and her innocence protected her no longer.

One day the old grandmother stood humbly at the door of the fashionable
studio, and told between her sobs that Raffaella was about to become a
mother. Ah yes! he remembered her well, the beautiful girl, and he put
some pieces of gold in the old woman's hand and promised to try to do
something for her. And he kept his word. The same evening he proposed to
his comrades to make a collection for Raffaella's child, and he assumed
that there was no one who had a right to refuse. There was no one who
had the right to refuse. They all gave what they could, some more and
some less, and more than one emptied his purse into the hat which went
round for Raffaella's child. They all thought it was such a pity for
her, the beautiful girl, to have had such bad luck. They wondered what
would become of her, she might of course continue to be a model, but
never would she be the same as before. The sculptors all agreed that the
beautiful lines of the hip could never stand the trial, and the painters
knew well that the exquisite delicacy of her colouring was lost for
ever. The child would of course be put out to nurse in the country, and
the money collected was enough to pay for a whole year. And it was not a
bad idea either to beg their friend, that foreign doctor, who was so
fond of Italians, to give an eye to Raffaella, he might perhaps be
useful in many future contingencies.

And the doctor, who was so fond of Italians, had often been to see her
of late. Raffaella had been so ill, so ill, she had been delirious for
days and nights, and this was the first quiet sleep she had had for a
long time.

No, the doctor certainly did not wish to wake her up; he sat there in
silence beside the old grandmother, deep in thought. He was thinking of
Raffaella's story. It was not new to him, that story, the Italian poor
quarter had more than once told it him, and he had often enough read it
in books. It seemed to him that what he saw in life was far simpler and
far sadder than what he read in books. Nor was there in Raffaella's
story anything very unusual or very sensational, no great display of
feeling either of sorrow or despair, no accusations, no threat for
vengeance, no attempt at suicide. Everything had gone so simply in such
everyday fashion. It was not with head erect and flaming eyes that the
old grandmother had stood before him who was guilty of the child's
fall, but in humble resignation she had stopped at the door and sobbed
out their misery, and when she left she had prayed the Madonna to reward
him for his charity. The poor old woman had her reasons for this--she
could not carry her head erect, for life had long since bent her neck
under the yoke of daily toil; her eyes could not flame with menace, for
they had too often had to beg for bread. She knew not how to accuse, for
she herself had been condemned unheard to oppression; she knew not how
to demand justice, for life had meant for her one long endurance of
wrongs. Her path had lain through darkness and misery, she had seen so
little of life's sunlight, and her thoughts had grown so dim under her
furrowed brow. She was dull, dull as an old worn-out beast of burden.

And the seducer, he was perhaps after all not more of a blackguard than
many others. He had done what he could to atone for a fault, which from
his point of view was hardly to be considered so very great, he had
provided for a whole year for a child which he said was none of
his--what could he do more? He had asked the doctor if he knew of any
virtuous models, and the doctor had answered him, "No," for neither did
he know of any virtuous models.

And Raffaella had borne her degradation as she had borne her poverty,
without bitterness and without despair; she wept sometimes, but she
accused no one, neither herself nor him who had injured her. She was
resigned. Authors believe that it is so easy to jump into the Seine or
to take a dose of laudanum, but it is very difficult. Raffaella was a
daughter of the people, no culture had entered into her thought-world,
either with its light or its shadow, she was far too natural even to
think of such a thing.

He who was cultured had brought forward the question of sending the
child into the country or placing it in the _Enfants trouvés_ (foundling
hospital), and she who was uncultured had known of no other answer than
to wind her arms still closer round her child's neck. And _la nonna_
(the old grandmother), who scrubbed steps and carried coals all day, and
having at last lulled the child to rest in the evening, dead-tired went
to sleep with half-shut eyes and a string round her wrist, so as now and
then to rock the little one's cradle; neither could she understand that
it would be any relief if "_la piccerella_" were to be sent away.

The light fell on the squalid bed, and the doctor looked at his patient.
Yes! it was indeed very like her, he certainly was a clever artist that
young painter! Her face was only a little paler now, that painful shadow
over the forehead was probably not to be seen in the bright studio
where the picture was painted, those dark rings round her eyes very
likely were not suitable for the Salon. But the same perfection of form
in every feature, the same noble shape of the head, the same childishly
soft rounding of the cheek, the same curly locks round the beautiful
brow; yes, rumour spoke true, she bore the mark of nobility on her
forehead, not that of Faubourg St. Germain, but that of Hellas, she bore
the features of the Venus of Milo.

It was quite still up there in the dim little garret. The doctor looked
at the young mother who slept so peacefully with her child in her arms,
he looked at the old woman who sat by his side fingering her rosary.
With foreboding sadness he looked into the future which awaited these
three, and sorrowfully his thoughts wandered along the way which lay
before his poor friends.

Ah yes, Raffaella soon got well, for she was healthy with Nature's
youth. Model she never became again, for she could not leave her child.
She did not marry, for her people do not forgive one who has had a child
by a _Signore_. With the baby at her breast she wandered about in search
of work, any work whatever. Her demands were so small, but her chances
were still smaller. She found no work. The old woman still held out for
a time, then she broke down and Raffaella had to provide food for three
mouths. The last savings were gone, and the Sunday clothes were at the
pawn-shop. Public charity did not help her, for she was a foreigner, and
private charity never came near Raffaella. She had to choose between
want or going on the streets. Her child lived and she chose want. The
world did not reward her for her choice, for virtue hungers and freezes
in the poor quarters of Paris. And she ended like so many others by
_fare la Scopa_.[24] Pale and emaciated sat the child on _la nonna's_
knee, and with low bent back Raffaella swept the streets where pleasure
and luxury went by. Poverty had effaced her beauty, she bore the
features of want and hardship. Sorrow had furrowed her brow, but the
stamp of nobility was still there. Hats off for virtue in rags! It is
greater than the virtue of Faubourg St. Germain!

    *    *    *    *    *

Perhaps a clever writer could make a nice little sketch out of
Raffaella's story; it is, however, as I said before, neither a very
original nor a very exciting one, it is quite commonplace. But I can
give you a subject for another little sketch; it is that doctor who is
so fond of Italians who has hit upon it. He has been thinking it over
for many years, but he never gets further than thinking. Write a story
about female models and dedicate it to artists! Write it without lies
and without sentimentality. Write it without exaggeration, for it needs
none; without severity, for we all have need of forbearance. Tell them,
the artists, how much we all like them, the light-hearted good-natured
comrades, tell them how proud we are of them, the happy interpreters of
our longing for beauty. But ask them why they so despise their models,
ask them if they know what becomes of the originals of their female
pictures!

They know it well.

If they answer you that they are young, that their temptations are
greater than those of any others, then reflect if you yourself have the
right to say any more to them. But if they answer you that the fault
lies with the models, then tell them to their faces that they lie. Then
tell them what road the greater part of the women models take--the
statistics are there and they cannot be contradicted. We know well that
many of these models have themselves to blame for their misfortunes, but
by far the greater part of them owe their fall to the misleading of an
artist.

And look here! Is he then quite wrong, that doctor who thinks that the
artist stands towards his woman model in the same position as the
physician towards his woman patient? Society demands, and is right in
demanding, a passionless eye from the physician, and between the
physician's respect for his profession and the temptation of the man,
honour has no choice. The present day ranks art higher than science, why
then is not the artist's respect for his profession great enough to
protect a woman model! Why are there no virtuous models? Is not the
model the unknown collaborator in the artist's creation, is she not,
even she, although unconsciously a humble servant in the temple of art,
in that temple where the ancients placed the statue of the chaste Pallas
Athene?

Yes, a clever writer may have a good deal more to say about this, and he
may also make use of that doctor's meditations if he thinks there is any
meaning in them, they have at least the merit of being founded upon
experience, experience of the art world of Paris as well as that of
Rome.[25]

But he must not forget that it is the spoiled children of our day that
he is daring to blame. Should his article be to the point he may be sure
he will be very severely censured by them; let him take it as praise for
_il n'y a que la vérité qui blesse_! And besides, let him remember that
the world's blame is as little worth caring about as its praise.

[Footnote 24: The harbour of refuge for most of the shipwrecked ones who
still can and will work. The street scavengers of Paris are to a great
extent Italians.]

[Footnote 25: I was for ten years the confidant, the friend, and the
doctor to most of the poor Italians in Paris, the greater number of whom
are models. My experience during these years was a terrible one. Nine
years in Rome have made the evidence still more conclusive. Of English
models I know nothing and have nothing to say.]



  THE DOGS IN CAPRI

  AN INTERIOR


Like the ancient Romans, the Capri dogs devote the greater part of their
day to public life. The Piazza is their Forum, and it is there they
write their history. When Don Antonio opens the doors of his osteria,
and Don Nicolino, barber and bleeder, steps out of his "Salone," Capri
begins a new day. From all sides the dogs then come gravely walking
forth--the doctor's, the tobacconist's, the secretary's, Don
Archangelo's, Don Pietro's, etc. etc., and, after a greeting in
accordance with nature's prescribed ceremonial, they seat themselves
upon the Piazza to meditate. Don Antonio places a couple of chairs in
front of his café, and whilst some of them accept the invitation to lean
against them, others prefer the steps leading up to the Church, or that
comfortable corner by the Campanile, to whose clock generations have
listened with ever-increasing astonishment where, indomitable as the
sun, it presses forward on its own path, but alas! not that of the sun.

After a while the dogs from Hotel Pagano make their appearance. They get
up later than the others, for they eat a terribly solid dinner. They all
descend from the venerable old "Timberio"[26] Pagano, who walks a little
behind the rest of his family. Timberio has a cataract in one eye, but
the other eye looks out upon life with immovable calm. The Pagano
dog-family has always ranked amongst the very first in Capri, and now,
since one of their masters, Manfredo, was made Sindaco, they have still
further accentuated that reserved bearing which they always understood
how to maintain towards the lower orders. They usually form a "circle"
of themselves and some of the Liberal dogs in the Municipal Portico. The
Conservative dogs, who were beaten at the last election when the Liberal
candidate, Manfredo Pagano, became Sindaco, cluster together in a
hostile minority on the other side of the Piazza by the steps leading up
to the Church. Now and then they take a look inside the Church, and seat
themselves down by the door with the greatest decorum, like humble
publicans, whilst the Mass is said in the chancel or the _Figlie di
Maria_ intone the Litany with half-singing voices.

About ten o'clock appear Il Cacciatore's[27] two dogs, mother and son.
They go without hesitation straight into Don Antonio's wineshop. They
were born upon the island, but they have received an English education,
and they well know the taste of a leg of mutton or a piece of roast
beef. Don Antonio's dogs have also a certain idea of these things. After
several generations a vague Anglicism still survives amongst them from
the time when Don Antonio was steward on board an English steamboat, and
it is with a visible pride that they say to their Capri colleagues their
"Bow-wow-wow--how do you do, sir?" as any stranger approaches their
osteria. The German dogs never enter this place; in spite of all
Bismarck's efforts to win Don Antonio over to the triple alliance, they
are not well looked upon there, their permanent headquarters are still
at Morgano's "Zum Hiddigeigei," whence one can hear them barking and
yelping till late at night.

The morning passes in calm _dolce far niente_ as a preparation for the
exertions of the day. Seldom has anything happened since they met here
yesterday, seldom is there the slightest indication that the day which
now begins will bring in its train any change in the imperturbable
harmony of their _status quo_. An Arcadian peace reigns over their whole
being, a contemplative calm is stamped upon their faces. And yet this
peace hovers over a volcano, like the summer which brightens the slopes
of Vesuvius away on the far horizon. Now and then the thunder growls
from the depths of Timberio Pagano's broad breast when Hotel Quisisana's
shaggy black guardian goes too near him. Seated on each side of the
_farmacia_ door the two doctors' four-footed assistants stick out their
tongues at each other on the sly, and often enough do the dogs of Don
Nicolino and Don Chichillo (the new barber) fall upon each other, so
that tufts of hair fly around. Animosity, however, soon sinks down
again, and, calm as the rippling waves against the old Emperor's bath
palace below, the hours glide away in rhythmical monotony.

They watch the girls as they stride past with mighty _Tufa_-stones on
their well-poised heads, like the Caryatides of the Erechtheum; they
watch the Marina fishermen bringing up for sale in baskets the night's
haul of golden _Triglie_ and great _Scurmi_, of bright-coloured mussels
from some rocky reef, or perhaps a coral-spun old Roman amphora dragged
up by the deep _Palamido_ nets from out of its thousand-years-old
hiding-place at the bottom of the sea.

Sometimes the longing for activity awakes, and they slowly cross the
Piazza to the corner of the Anacapri road to gaze dreamily upon the
bustling life in front of the stables, where cavalcades of _forestieri_
are waiting impatiently whilst saddles are laid upon the donkeys'
bleeding backs, and rusty bits are stuffed into their sore mouths.
_Aaaaah! Aaaaah! Avanti!!_ Off, little donkeys, for Monte Solaro, one
hour and a half's stiff climbing with the happy tourists! Yes, the road
is beautiful, winding up along the side of the mountain, clad with
myrtle and broom. The view widens more and more--_Aaaaaah! Aaaaaaaah!!_
one more climb, and the vineyards and olive woods lie deep under your
feet, and over your head rise steep cliffs as wild in their mighty
desolation as the Via Mala of the Alps; and Barbarossa's half-crumbling
castle riveted fast upon the edge of the precipice. Beyond gleams the
gulf girdled by the immortal beauty of the shore, and from Posilipo's
pine-crowned cape, island after island floats away towards the blue
distance of the Mediterranean--_wunderbar! kolossal!!_

Under the saddle it burns like fire, and the mouth is so sore with the
incessant tugging at the heavy bridle; but courage, little donkey! up
above upon the heights lives Padre Anselmo in his hermit chapel, and he
has good wine for thirsty throats!

Other dogs who do not get so far as the donkey-stand lean thoughtfully
against the parapet of the Piazza, where some lounging sailors look out
over the gulf. The eyes wander far over the gleaming line of Naples, and
the mighty silhouette of Vesuvius, or follow absently the direction of
some outstretched hand pointing towards Capo Sorrento, whence can be
seen the steamboat on its way to Capri. And here come the two blind old
men, Fenocchio and Giovanni, groping their way across the Piazza to
their usual corner at the edge of the path, where the hum of thousands
of gay tourists has rustled by them, where they have sat for so many
years with their old fisher-caps in outstretched hands, and their vacant
eyes staring into their eternal night of gleaming sunshine: "_Date u
soldo Eccellenza al povero cieco! La Madonna vi accompagna!_"

Up on the Piazza the dogs are beginning to awake, and in scattered
groups they wander across to the parapet to stare at the steamboat which
glides past in the blue water on its way to the Grotto. It is time to
start down to the Marina to greet the arriving strangers. Quisisana's,
Pagano's, and Hôtel de France's dogs solemnly escort their respective
porters to the arched entrance of the Piazza with its Bourbon
coat-of-arms still enthroned above it. Small ready-saddled donkeys also
clatter patiently down the old stairway to the Marina, and with loud
cracks of the whip Felicello's coachmen rattle down the new
carriage-road. From the Piazza above, they watch the steamer anchoring
outside the harbour, and the small boats landing the passengers. A faint
interest lights up the passive faces of the lookers-on when the first
strangers reach the Piazza. But alas! always the same invariable types,
always the same colossal matron on the same slender little donkey,
always the same correct "misses" in Felicello's landau, always the same
fiery-red noisy Germans, wrangling over prices with the girls who have
dragged their boxes up the heights to the town. Seldom are there any
dogs amongst the arrivals, seldom does any occasion whatever arise for
interference in one way or another--passivity, nothing but passivity!

Now the hotel bells ring for luncheon, and they one and all wander home.
The processes of digestion are carried out, according to correct
physiological laws undisturbed by any brain-work, and the afternoon is
passed in a siesta on some loggia, whilst the sun's rays slowly climb
the Anacapri cliff, and long shadows begin to glide down Monte Solaro's
slopes towards the town. The air is cool and refreshing, and they
prepare to resume public business on the Piazza. The second event of the
day is about to happen. The post arrives. Don Peppino (post-master)
solemnly shuts his office-door, and the loiterers wait with interest
whilst the post-bag is being opened inside. Always the same
disappointment--no letters for them, all the letters and newspapers are
for the strangers in the hotels! Sometimes they get hold of a _Corriere
di Napoli_ or a _Pungolo_, and then they disappear into some corner by
themselves to make people believe that they can read; but after they
have devoured the whole newspaper they are none the wiser for it. So
they become drowsy again and wander a few times round the Piazza, past
Don Antonio's _osteria_ with the faded photographs and dried-up biscuits
in the window, and a few unconscious philosophers meditating inside;
past Il Salone, where the flies keep watch over Don Nicolino's dreams;
past La Farmacia, where the morphia of idleness soothes Don Petruccio's
ideas to rest; past the stables where the donkeys are pushed into their
dark holes after the strangers have returned from their expedition. They
look out over the gulf where Ischia blushes in fading sunlight, while
dark-blue twilight falls around Vesuvius. The day's session draws to an
end and the Piazza is becoming deserted. Up in the Campanile there
suddenly breaks out a terrible row amongst the cogs and wheels, and at
last the old machinery loses its temper altogether, and, getting hold of
a rusty hammer, begins to beat with all its might on some unwilling
bells: "_Ventiquattro ore_," yawns Don Nicolino, shutting up his Salone;
"_Ventiquattro ore_," say the flies, and go to sleep amongst the brushes
and combs; "_Ventiquattro ore_," say the dogs, and go home with the
feeling of having performed their duty to gather strength for the next
day's toils by twelve or fourteen hours' dreamless sleep.

Then the church bells ring out the Ave Maria, and the day sinks into the
sea.

So passes day after day, each like the other, as are the beads of the
rosaries which glide between the fingers of the _Figlie di Maria_ inside
the Church. Each morning collects the citizens for social duty on the
Piazza--each evening the campanile exhorts them to go to rest.

Under the walls of the houses the shadows begin to grow smaller and
smaller, and the paving-stones of the Piazza get hotter and hotter in
the sun-bath. Uneasy dreams begin to disturb the peace of the siesta,
and Capri is seized with an irresistible desire to scratch itself. Don
Antonio spreads the awning before his wineshop, and the questions of the
day are oftener and oftener dealt with under its protecting shade. They
linger later on the Piazza in the warm evenings, and with nose in the
air they sit for long hours on the parapet looking out over the gulf
towards Vesuvius, whose mighty smoke-cloud slowly spreads over the
mainland--the wind is south, all is as it should be! And, with
apprehensive thoughts of fatigues to come, they troop home to their
much-needed repose.

The Piazza is quite empty, now and then a short bark is heard from some
wineshop, or a howling "_Potz Donner Wetter!_" from Hiddigeigei's
beer-house, then everything is still, and only the old watchman in the
Campanile counts over the hours of the night in a sonorous brazen voice
to keep himself awake. Still for a while the white town gleams out
amongst the cliffs, then it becomes quite dark and Capri's isle sinks
into the gloom of night.

But lo! already climbs the moon over Sorrento's mountain, and the veil
of twilight glides down Monte Solaro's heights, over shimmering olive
woods, over orange and myrtle groves, and vanishes amid the waves of the
gulf. Night dreams a beautiful dream, and mysteriously the siren's
moonlit island rises out of the dark sea. A gentle south wind breathes
over the water, murmurs amidst the half-slumbering waves, flies
fragrantly over orange-trees in blossom, and playfully rocks the tender
vine branches. Jubilant voices call out from the sea, louder and louder
they sound in the stillness of the night, and the wanderer on Monte
Solaro hears the rustling of wings in the moonlit space above.

When Capri awakes the next morning, every one knows that the wild geese
have passed. Spring has come, and the shooting season has begun! From
early morning the Piazza is full of dogs. The quiet of everyday life has
departed, a certain energy animates their dull features, and the
reflection of an idea lights up the contemplative gloom of their eyes.

In front of Maria Vacca's butcher-shop hangs a dead quail, and outside
Don Antonio's _osteria_ stand guns in long rows, and upon the chairs lie
great game-bags and powder-horns. Il Cacciatore has been in the wineshop
since sunrise, in colossal shooting-boots with cartridge-belt round his
waist. Woe to the quail which may now appear in Maria Vacca's shop! It
vanishes at once into Il Cacciatore's game-bag. Inside the Municipal
Portico a younger generation listens to old Timberio Pagano's shooting
stories of the days of his youth, when many thousand quails were caught
in a day, and up on the Church steps the clericals think sadly of that
period of vanished splendour when Capri had its own Bishop, whose
maintenance was paid by the quail harvest--"_Vescovo delle quaglie_"[28]
as he was called in Rome. Excitement increases as the hours pass, and
when at last the Campanile's bells announce that the first day's
shooting is over, each one goes to his home to gather strength for the
next day's exertions. Once again darkness falls upon the island, and
Capri sleeps the sleep of the just.

On tired wings swarms of birds fly over the sea. Thousands have fallen
on Africa's coasts, where they assembled for their long journey,
thousands have sunk exhausted amidst the waves, thousands will die on
the rocky island which glimmers from afar in the darkness. Sheltered by
the last hour of gloom they approach the island and silently swoop down
upon its steep coast, upon the heights by Villa di Tiberio, where the
hermit watches behind his snares; amongst the cliffs of Mitromania and
the Piccola Marina, where nets are spread to catch their wings; upon the
headlands of Limbo and Punta di Carena, where the Capri dogs, stealthy
as cats, sneak round after their prey. When day dawns over Monte
Solaro, and its first rays stream even as they did two thousand years
ago in sacred fire upon the old sun-god's crumbling altar in the grotto
of Mitromania,[29] hundreds of birds, quails, wood-pigeons, larks,
thrushes, flutter in the nets around, and hundreds of others bleed to
death amongst the cliffs--but what cares the sun for that! What matters
it to the sun that the darkness he disperses conceals a multitude of
worn-out birds from rapacious eyes, that to-day death stalks from cliff
to cliff along the track shown by his gleaming light:

  "So che Natura è sorda,
   Che miserar non sa;
   Che non del Ben sollecita
   Fu, ma dell 'esser solo."[30]

Upon the heights of Monte Solaro sits Il Cacciatore, armed to the teeth,
looking with the eye of a conqueror over the field of battle below. The
day has been a hot one, Il Cacciatore has fired some hundred shots in
different directions. At his feet lie his two dogs, mother and son, and
behind him sits Spadaro with an extra gun in his hands and an enormous
game-bag over his shoulder. Now and then mother and son give little
yelps and wag their tails, following in their dreams an escaping bird,
now and then Il Cacciatore's hand fumbles after his trusty gun to bring
down an imaginary quail or pigeon, now and then Spadaro seems to stuff
some new booty into his vast bag. Deeper and deeper grows the silence
over Monte Solaro. Down at their feet the three rocks of Faraglione
shine in purple and gold, and the glow of the sinking sun falls on the
waves of the gulf. From the town of Capri hotel bells ring for dinner.
A fragrant hallucination of quail-pie tickles Il Cacciatore's nostrils,
and from under his half-shut eyelids the whole gulf assumes a
tantalising resemblance to a sea of pure _Capri rosso_--that purple hue
which already old Homer likened to red wine--whilst Spadaro's more
modest imagination hears the macaroni splutter and boil in the murmur of
the waves against the cliff below, and sees the purple glow of the
evening sun pour masses of "pumaroli"[31] sauce over it.

Suddenly Il Cacciatore rubs his eyes and looks dreamily around, and
Spadaro investigates with amazement the bag, where only a single little
lark, which was on its way to give spring concerts in the north, sleeps
his last sleep. _Hallo! Spadaro! Andiamonci!_[32] The dogs wake up by
degrees, and the caravan starts slowly on its way towards Capri. Tired
by the day's toil, at last they reach the Piazza and its friendly
wineshop, where Il Cacciatore sits down to rest whilst Spadaro and the
dogs carry home the lark in triumph.

So pass the weeks of the shooting season in continued exertions. Every
morning before daybreak they start off to try and capture Spring in its
flight, every evening they meet on the Piazza to rest, and often enough
do we assemble round our friend Il Cacciatore's table to partake of a
magnificent quail-pie, such as only he can put before us.

But although the ranks are thinned, the March of The Ten Thousand still
advances victoriously. Soon the larks sing over the frosty fields in the
distant North, soon the swallows twitter under the eaves of the far-off
little cottage, which has lain so long half-buried in snow, and the
quails sound their monotonous note in the spring evenings.

The shooting season is over, and the Capri dogs sit blankly upon the
Piazza, staring out over the gulf in the direction the bird flew when he
escaped out of their hands. Higher and higher the sacred fire flames
each morning upon the sun-god's altar down in Mitromania's grotto,
brighter and brighter the Faraglioni rocks gleam each evening with
purple and gold, with a still ruddier glow the wine-hue of the gulf
fascinates Il Cacciatore's retina. Silently the liberal dogs ponder over
the burning questions of the day, and, panting, the clericals listen
from their sunny church steps to the prophecies of the fires of _Il
purgatorio_, which the priests proclaim every Sunday inside the cool
Church. Public life ceases by degrees, and it seems as if a reaction
sets in after the excitement of the shooting season. The arrival of the
steamer is certainly still watched from the Piazza, and with one eye
open they look at the few strangers who wander up to the Piazza with
outspread sketching-umbrellas and easel and colour-box on a boy's head.
True, they still assemble in front of the closed door of the office to
await the opening of the post-bag, but interest in political life has
slackened, and their hope of letters has become a quiet resignation.
Inside the _Farmacia_ the drugs ferment in their pots, and in Don
Nicolino's Salone living frescoes of flies adorn the walls. About the
slopes of Monte Salaro the Scirocco hangs in heavy clouds, and an
irresistible drowsiness settles down upon the Piazza. Capri enters into
its summer torpor.

When it awakes the sun has subdued his fire, and the table stands ready
spread for the lords of creation to seat themselves and feast, and for
the dogs to gather up the fragments that remain. From the _pergola_
over their heads hang grapes in heavy clusters, and amidst the shade of
the orange-groves peep out juicy figs and red-cheeked peaches. Then
comes the Bacchanalia of the vintage, with song and jest and maiden's
bright eyes looking out from under huge baskets of grapes, and naked
feet freeing the slumbering butterfly of wine from its crushed
chrysalis.

Over the Piazza a cooling sea breeze blows now and again, and Capri
takes a refreshing bath of heavy autumnal rain to wash away the heat and
dust of summer. The dogs save themselves in time from the vivacity of
the unknown element, but millions of obscure lives are drowned in the
streams which force their way like a deluge over the bloody battle-field
of summer, whilst others find their Ararat amongst the brushes in Don
Nicolino's Salone.

The mist of unconsciousness is gradually lifted from the dogs' brains,
and waking dreams about activity and strength stare out from their
half-shut eyes. Don Nicolino smilingly dusts the halo of flies from his
portrait, and, deep in thought, Don Petruccio composes a new elixir of
life from summer's _mixtum compositum_. Fenocchio and Giovanni seat
themselves again in their corner to wash a little copper out of the
tourist stream, and with trembling legs the small donkeys once more
unload numbers of _forestieri_ in the Piazza. From Vesuvius the smoke
falls in long cloud-streamers over the gulf, and upon the wings of the
Tramontana (the north wind), Summer flies home again after her
wedding-trip to the North. In vain do the Capriotes spread their nets
once more round the shores of the island; in vain do the dogs lie in
wait amongst the rocks; in vain does Il Cacciatore sit in full armour on
the heights of Monte Solaro and shoot off his cartridges after the
fugitive--Summer passes by.

With drooping tails the dogs sit huddled together upon the stones of
their Piazza, thinking with sorrow of their departed summer idyll. From
snow-covered Apennines, Winter comes sailing in his foam-hidden
dragon-ship over the uneasy waters of the gulf. The storm thunders
amidst the ruins of the old watch-tower, whose alarm-bell[33] has been
silent for so long, and amongst the foaming breakers the mad Viking
boards Capri's cliffs. Strong as a whirlwind he cuts in pieces the
pergola garlands which were left hanging after Autumn's Bacchanalian
feast, and, brutal as a savage, he tears asunder the leaf-woven chiton
which clothed the Dryad of the grove.

But down in Mitromania's grotto the sacred fire flames as before upon
the old Persian god's altar, and tenderly the God of Day spreads his
shining shield over his beloved island and bids the barbarian from the
North go to sea again. So he departs, the rough stranger, his errand
unaccomplished, without having robbed a single rose from the maiden's
sun-warmed cheek, without having stolen a single golden fruit from the
everlasting green of the orange groves. And scarcely has he turned his
back before tiny fearless violets peep carefully out from among the
hillocks, and narcissus and rosemary clamber high up on the steep cliffs
to see whither the harsh Northerner has gone, and soon a whole flock of
flower children come and set themselves down to play at summer in the
grass.

Upon the Piazza the dogs sit as before in sunny contemplation. The cycle
of their life's emotions has been run through, and they begin to turn
over anew the blank pages of their history, page after page in unvarying
sequence. Day follows day and year follows year, and soon old age comes
and scatters some white almond blossom upon their heads. The buoyant
delights of the senses are benumbed, youth's far-flying thoughts have
broken their wings against the four walls of the Piazza, and like tame
ducks they go round and round their enclosed space, from Don Antonio's
wineshop to Felicello's donkey-stand, from Don Nicolino's Salone to Don
Petruccio's Farmacia. Now and again the free cry of the passing wild
geese high above in space reaches the Piazza, the early youthful courage
wakes anew, and they sluggishly tramp along towards the Anacapri road as
far as their heavy limbs can carry them. Now and again a faint echo from
some world's revolution trembles on their tympanums through Don
Peppino's post-office, and they look away in dreaming peace to the white
town of Naples, the noise of whose human life is lost amidst the murmur
of the waves, or away to the old revolutionist Vesuvius, whose
threatening wrath will never reach their Eden.

So they sit on their Piazza, staring out upon the river of time as it
flows past them. They still sit there staring for a few more years to
come, then they move no more--they have become hypnotised. The struggle
for existence has ceased, and imperceptibly they sink into Buddha's
Nirvâna, unconscious, painless, inebriate with the sun.

[Footnote 26: I write here as I talk here--not Italian but Capri
dialect. The old Emperor, who lived on the island for eleven years, is
never called Tiberio here, but "Timberio."]

[Footnote 27: Our friend old Mr. X----, for fifteen years the delight
and ornament of the Piazza of Capri, always cheerful, always thirsty, a
great destroyer of quails and wine-bottles, now at last gone to rest in
the quiet little field outside the town of Capri, where the sombre green
of some laurel and cypress-trees stands out between the waving branches
of his favourite plant, the vine. Old Spadaro is still alive, and will
tell you all about his lamented master.]

[Footnote 28: Quail bishop. Capri no longer owns a bishop, but the quail
harvest still forms one--and perhaps the most important--item of the
island's revenue.]

[Footnote 29: Few strangers visit the grotto of Mitromania, the name of
which may be derived from _Magnum Mitrae Antrum_. It faces east, and the
first rays of the sun light up its mysterious gloom. One knows from
excavations made here that once upon a time the old, yet ever young,
sun-god was worshipped in this cave.]

[Footnote 30: Leopardi.]

[Footnote 31: Pumaroli-pomidoro, _i.e._ tomato, the Southern Italian's
favourite fruit, the most important ingredient in everything he eats,
sweetening the monotony of his macaroni.]

[Footnote 32: "Let us be off."]

[Footnote 33: The alarm-bell used to be rung from the old tower to warn
the shores of the gulf of the approach of pirates.]



  ZOOLOGY


They say that love for mankind is the highest of all virtues. I admire
this love for mankind, and I know well that it only belongs to noble
minds. My soul is too small, my thought flies too near the earth ever to
reach so far, and I am obliged to acknowledge that the longer I live the
farther I depart from this high ideal. I should lie if I said that I
love mankind.

But I love animals, oppressed, despised animals, and I do not care when
people laugh at me because I say that I feel happier with them than with
the majority of people I come across.

When one has spoken with a human being for half an hour, one has, as a
rule, had quite enough, isn't it so? I, at least, then usually feel
inclined to slip away, and I am always astonished that he with whom I
have been speaking has not tried to escape long before. But I am never
bored in the society of a friendly dog, even if I do not know him or he
me. Often when I meet a dog walking along by himself, I stop and ask him
where he is going and have a little chat with him; and even if no
further conversation takes place, it does me good to look at him and try
to enter into the thoughts which are working in his mind. Dogs have this
immense advantage over man that they cannot dissimulate, and
Talleyrand's paradox that speech has been given us in order to conceal
our thoughts, cannot at all be applied to dogs.

I can sit half the day in a field watching the grazing cattle; and to
observe the physiognomy of a little donkey is one of the keenest
pleasures of a psychologist. But it is specially when donkeys are free
that they are most interesting, a tied-up donkey is not nearly so
communicative as when she is loose and at liberty, and that after all is
not much to be wondered at.

At Ischia I lived for a long time almost exclusively with a donkey. It
was Fate which brought us together. I lived in a little boat-house down
at the Marina, and the donkey lived next door to me. I had quite lost my
sleep up in the stifling rooms of the hotel, and had gladly accepted my
friend Antonio's invitation to live down at the Marina in his cool
boat-house, while he was out fishing in the bay of Gaeta. I fared
exceedingly well in there amongst the pots and fishing-nets; and astride
on the keel of an old upturned boat I wrote long love-letters to the
sea. And when evening came and it began to grow dusk in the boat-house,
I went to bed in my hammock, with a sail for a covering and the memory
of a happy day for a pillow. I fell asleep with the waves and I woke
with the day. Each morning came my neighbour, the old donkey, and stuck
in her solemn head through the open door, looking steadfastly at me. I
always wondered why she stood there so still and did nothing but stare
at me, and I could not hit upon any other explanation than that she
thought I was nice to look at. I lay there half awake looking at her--I
thought that she too was nice to look at. She resembled an old family
portrait as she stood there with her gray head framed by the doorway
against the blue background of a summer's morning. Out there it grew
lighter and lighter, and the clear surface of the sea began to glitter.
Then came a ray of sunlight dancing right into my eyes, and I sprang up
and greeted the gulf. I had nothing whatever to do all day, but the poor
donkey was supposed to be at work the whole forenoon up in Casamicciola.
There grew, however, such a sympathy between us that I found a
substitute for her, and then we wandered carelessly about all day long,
like true vagabonds wherever the road led us. Sometimes it was I who
went first with the donkey trotting quietly at my heels, sometimes it
was she who had got a fixed determination of her own, and then I
naturally followed her. I studied the whole time with great attention
the interesting personality I had so unexpectedly come across, and it
was long since I had found myself in such congenial company. I might
have much more to say about all this, but these psychological researches
may prove far too serious a topic for many of my readers, and I
therefore believe I had better stop here.

And the birds, who can ever tire of them? Hour after hour I can sit on a
mossy stone and listen to what a dear little bird has to say--I, who can
never keep my thoughts together when some one is talking to me. But have
you noticed how sweet a little bird is to look at when he sings his
song, and now and again bends his graceful head, as if to listen for
some one to answer far away in the forest? In the late summer, when the
bird-mother has to teach her children to talk--do not believe it is
only a matter of instinct, even they have to take lessons in learning
their singing language--have you watched these lessons when the mother
from her swinging-chair lectures about something or other, and the
summer-old little ones stammer after her with their clear child-voices?

And when the birds are silent, I have only to look down among the grass
and moss to light on other acquaintances to keep me company. Over waving
grass and corn flies a dragon-fly on wings of sun-glitter and fairy-web,
and deep down in the path, which winds between the mighty grass stems, a
little ant struggles on with a dry fir-needle on her back. Rough is the
road, now it goes up-hill and now it goes down-hill, now she pushes the
heavy load like a sledge before her, now she carries it upon her slender
shoulders. She pulls so hard up-hill that her whole little body
stiffens, she rolls down the steep slopes with her burden clasped
tightly in her arms; but she never lets go, and onward it goes, for the
ant is in a hurry to get home. Soon the dew will fall, and then it is
unsafe to be out in the trackless forest, and best to be home in peace
after the day's work is ended. Now the road becomes mountainous and
steep, and suddenly a mighty rock rises in front of her--what the name
of that rock is the ant knows well enough; I know nothing, and to me it
looks like an ordinary pebble. The ant stops short and ponders awhile,
then she gives a signal with her antennæ, which I am too stupid to
understand but which others at once respond to, for from behind a dry
leaf I see two other ants approach to the rescue. I watch how they hold
a council of war, and how the new arrivals with great concern pull the
log to try how heavy it is. Suddenly they stand quite still and
listen--an ant-patrol marches by a little way off, and I see how a
couple of ants are told off to lend assistance. Then they all take hold
together, and like sailors they haul up the log with a long slow pull.

I understand it is to repair the havoc made by an earthquake that the
log is to be used--how many hard-working lives were perhaps crushed
under the ruins of the fallen houses, and what evil power was it that
destroyed what so much patient labour built up? I dare not ask, for who
knows if it were not a passing man who amused himself by knocking down
the ant-hill with his stick!

And all the other tiny creatures, whose name I do not know, but into
whose small world I look with joy, they also are fellow-citizens in
Creation's great society, and probably they fulfil their public duties
far better than I fulfil mine!

And besides, when thus lying down and staring into the grass, one ends
by becoming so very small oneself.

And at last it seems to me as if I were nothing but an ant myself,
struggling on with my heavy load through the trackless forest. Now it
goes up-hill and now it goes down-hill. But the thing is not to let go.
And if there is some one to help to give a pull where the hill seems too
steep and the load too heavy, all goes well enough.

But suddenly Fate comes passing by and knocks down all that has been
built up with so much hard labour.

The ant struggles on with her heavy load deep in the trackless forest.
The way is long, and there is still some time before the day's work is
over and the dew falls.

But high overhead flies the dream on wings of sun-glitter and fairy-web.



  HYPOCHONDRIA


The study of micro-organisms has directed medical science into new
channels, and thrown open a hitherto undreamt-of world for eager
investigators. The list of recent discoveries in bacteriology is already
a long one. Koch's researches in cholera and tuberculosis, and Pasteur's
method of vaccination against hydrophobia, are but links in the chain
which one day shall fetter the hydra-headed dragon of disease. Less
known, but hardly less important, are the very latest studies of
hypochondria, which have led to the discovery that this evil also
belongs to infectious diseases.

Struck by the constant disorder of thought and sensibility which
characterise the hypochondriac, the doctors have up till now placed this
malady amongst the nervous diseases, and it is in the central organs of
the nervous system, more especially the brain, that its seat and origin
have been determined. We finally know that hypochondria is an infectious
disease, caused by a microbe which has been isolated, and named
_Bacillus niger_ (A. M.).

It is after all astonishing that this discovery has escaped so many
investigators ever since Burton, whose _Anatomy of Melancholy_ still
remains unparalleled--it is astonishing when one considers the many
analogies which connect this so-called nervous disease with some of the
best-known bacterial diseases, such as hydrophobia, tuberculosis, and
cholera. As in hydrophobia, so in hypochondria the virus spreads over
the nervous system, produces constant and well-known disorders in the
brain, and ends here also by paralysis, paralysis of the affected
individual's intellectual and moral functions, and, at last, mental
death. As in hydrophobia, one also notices by the bacillus niger
infection cramp in certain groups of muscles--that of the muscles of
laughter being, for instance, very common. This cramp, _risus
sardonicus_, is excessively painful, and its prognostic signification is
a bad one, for it is a characteristic of absolutely incurable cases
(Heine).

The tendency to bite, which characterises hydrophobia, is also
encountered in certain forms of hypochondria (Schopenhauer). As a rule
the affected individual is, however, inoffensive and resigned
(Leopardi).

The cholera characteristic, _Stadium algidum_, is also to be found in
bacillus niger infection--a Stadium algidum when the soul slowly grows
cold, and at last reaches the zero of insensibility (Tiberius).

The curious, and, up till now, unexplained immunity which protects
certain individuals from cholera, appears again in hypochondria--so,
for instance, have idiots shown themselves absolutely refractory, _i.e._
not receptive of the bacillus niger infection. The explanation of the
relative rarity of hypochondria is probably to be found in this
fact. . . .

In analogy with what experimental pathology has taught us about the
microbes of cholera and tuberculosis, the bacillus niger does not seem
to thrive on animals, though several exceptions to this rule are to be
found, and as the tuberculosis bacillus is exceedingly common amongst
cows, so may be pointed out the great diffusion of bacillus niger
infection amongst old donkeys (Rosina). I do not believe, though, that
here, as with the cows, one can speak of spontaneous infection--the
virus has, in the case of the old donkey, more probably been introduced
into the blood through a flogged back. Dogs seem, after a long contact
with infected individuals, to be receptive of contagion (Puck).

Bacillus niger originates in the heart--there is no doubt about
that--the disorders of the brain are secondary. The explanation why the
seat of the evil has been supposed to be the brain is natural enough,
because as a rule it is only since the infection has spread to the brain
that the malady can be diagnosed. So long as bacillus niger has only
attacked the heart, the diagnosis is much more difficult. The nature of
the evil can, however, here, as in certain forms of tuberculosis, be
easily enough detected at the back of the eyes. This is probably in
relation with the morbid alteration of the organ of sight, which
characterises the bacillus niger infection--_the patient sees life as it
is_; when, on the contrary, as is well known, in the normal eye the
vision of the outer world is reflected through certain media, illusions
and never-dying hope, before it is transferred through the optic nerve
to the brain.

As with microbes of the before-mentioned diseases, bacillus niger is
also exceedingly tenacious of life. Its virulence can be temporarily
reduced by alcohol, ink, and music. As for alcohol, its effect is
indubitable, but unfortunately of very short duration. The microbe very
soon--indeed, already the next morning, according to all
experimentalists--regains its full vigour, and its temporary inactivity
seems rather to have increased its virulence instead of decreasing it.
Like most of the other antimicrobic agents, alcohol is in itself a
deadly poison, and its application in the treatment of the disease is
therefore very limited. It is to be used with the greatest precaution,
for there are numerous instances of the individual having followed his
microbe to the grave.

May I here mention _en passant_ a harmless old quack remedy--the common
practice of smoking out the microbe. The home of the tobacco-plant is
the same land where the poppy of oblivion blossoms, the silent shores
between which flows the stream of Lethe. The fragrance of its leaf has
deadened the microbe in more than one diseased brain, the clouds from an
old pipe have hidden the reality from more than one sorrowful eye. (Do
you remember Rodolphe in Henri Murger's _Vie de Bohème_?)

Ink as a bactericide is less known, but worth consideration. I know of a
case, to which I shall return later, where a momentary amelioration was
produced by an ink-cure. Contrary to alcohol, this specific can be used
without any danger whatever to the individual himself--the danger being
limited to his surroundings. The microbe is dipped in the ink-stand, and
fixed on paper to dry. It maintains, however, its virulence long enough,
and can, transplanted in a fertile soil, regain its vigour and grow.
The preparation must, therefore, be strictly locked up in the
writing-desk, which now and then must be disinfected, the surest
disinfectant being here, as always, fire.

As for music, this treatment was known even in the childhood of science;
it was already highly esteemed by the ancients--hypochondria is, as is
well known, one of the oldest of all diseases; it resounds already in
the choruses of Sophocles and Euripides. The new world of bacteriology
was then undreamt of, but the discoveries of thousands of years have
done no more than verify the experience of the ancients. Music still
remains the greatest consoler of sorrow-stricken man. Still to-day Saul
seeks relief for his sombre soul from David's harp, still to-day does
Orpheus conquer the shades of Hades by the sound of his lute; still
to-day the song calls out for the Eurydice of our longing.

    *    *    *    *    *

As was to be expected, the discovery of the microbe of hypochondria gave
quite a new direction to the study of the treatment of this disease. To
relate here the far-reaching experiences which followed the isolation of
the bacillus niger would carry us too far--enough to say that the
results of these investigations have unfortunately up till now been
hopelessly negative. We, however, find it expedient to mention in a few
words the experiments in air-therapeutics by which the discoverer of the
microbe hoped to find a remedy for the evil--true that the result was
even here negative, but there is a certain amount of interest still
attached to these experiments which, pursued with more patience, might
perhaps have led to a more satisfactory result. Starting from the
analogy between the bacillus niger infection and tuberculosis, the
doctor emitted his hypothesis of a region of immunity from hypochondria
as well as from consumption, of a possibility of finding in the pure air
of the high altitudes a medium where the development of bacillus niger
in the mind would cease, as well as the development of the
tuberculosis-bacilli in the lungs. It was in the domain of experimental
pathology--the field where Pasteur and Koch reaped their laurels--that
the solution of the problem was to be looked for, and the bacterium in
question living almost exclusively on mankind, the suitable animal for
experiment had in this case necessarily to be a man. The doctor had for
several years attended an individual affected with the complaint in
question. It was a fine case. We quote here from the notes of the
doctor: "Man about thirty. The patient maintains an obstinate silence as
to the origin of his sufferings; it is, however, evident that the evil
dates from several years back. External examination nothing
remarkable--on the contrary. Big dog at his heels. Energy but little
developed. Active impulses wanting. Ambition rudimentary. Intelligence
mediocre--maybe slightly above. Sense of humour well defined, as usual
in these cases. Sensibility abnormally developed. Heart perhaps rather
large. Tendency for idealism. Patient has hallucinations--fancies, for
instance, he is surrounded by people who suffer and hunger; imagines
seeing all sorts of animals oppressed and tortured to death." The doctor
had in vain prescribed several things in order to calm and distract his
diseased mind, rest-cure in Anacapri for a whole year; earthquake in
Ischia, cholera in Naples, etc. etc., but without any enduring result.
Returned to Paris, the patient had, though with visible aversion, gone
through a cure of ink-treatment, and in the beginning had felt a little
better for it, but had soon fallen back to his normal condition of
hopeless dejection. The doctor was at his wit's end, and began to be
bored to death by the continual lamentations of his patient. The
unfortunate man was perpetually hanging about in the doctor's
consulting-room, and ended by taking up nearly his whole day, to the
great detriment of his other practice. It was then the doctor
communicated to his patient his hypothesis of the possibility of a
region of immunity from hypochondria, as from consumption, and the
desirability of finding a fitting animal for experiment, for the purpose
of studying the influence of high altitudes on hypochondria.

The patient placed himself at the doctor's absolute disposal.

On the top of Mont Blanc (4810 mètres) the doctor still found a
considerable quantity of microbes in the thoughts of his patient. The
patient complained that he felt so small and forlorn up there on the
pinnacles of Nature's temple, where all around him the Alps raised their
marble-shining arch of triumph over the silent cloud-heavy earth. With
awe he bent his eyes before the beaming majesty of the sun, where,
indomitable and unconscious, the Almighty Ruler trod his course over the
shade and light of the valleys, over the sorrow and joy of man.

Chained to the ice-axe firmly riveted in the frozen snow, did the doctor
leave his patient for a whole night on a projecting rock, under the
shoulder of the Matterhorn (4273 mètres), while the snowstorm passed.
Now and then a flash of lightning flamed through the icy night of the
desolate precipices; like combating Titans, giant-shaped crags stood out
between storm-driven clouds, and the mighty mountain shook, while the
thunder rolled over the snow-fields. Then everything became still; the
storm passed by, and like silent birds of the night heavy flakes of
snow floated through the darkness. With stiff-frozen limbs, half-covered
with snow, sat the patient in mute wonder, looking out over Matterhorn's
sombre cliffs, over Monte Rosa's desolate glaciers. The patient
complained of feeling so utterly helpless before the magnificent force
which had built up this, the proudest monument of the Alps, so crushed
before the time-defying Titan, who, it seemed to him, was only going to
fall with the world, which was his footstool. . . . He listened with awe
to the mountains answer; high above his head he heard the thunder of
loosening rocks, and while the echo replied from the Ebihorn cliffs, an
avalanche of rattling stones rolled along the flank of the mountain to
break into fragments and disappear deep down amongst the crevices of the
Zmutt glacier--mute testimonies that even the mightiest mountain of the
Alps was condemned to crumble away into grains of sand in the
hour-glass of the Eternal, broken fragments from the oldest monument of
creation, teaching, like the modern hieroglyphics from the Nile, that
all shall perish.

As the night passed on the patient felt more and more downcast and
miserable. The doctor had already given up the experiment as hopeless,
when towards daybreak, to his great astonishment, symptoms of an
unmistakable amelioration showed themselves. The patient's head had
fallen on the guide's shoulder; a painless repose crept over his
stiffening limbs, and with utmost interest the doctor found an almost
complete absence of bacillus niger in the benumbed thought of his
patient. The doctor watched for a while in great excitement the
patient's pale face, while the darkness of the night vanished more and
more, and the dawn of a new day flew over the horizon. He was just going
to make a new test on bacillus niger, when one of the guides suddenly
leaned his ear against the patient's breast, and then anxiously began to
rub his nostrils and half-open eyelids with brandy, and to pull his arms
and legs. . . .

When he shortly afterwards slowly opened his eyes, he was more depressed
than ever, and remained decidedly worse for several days.

After renewed experiments on Monte Rosa, Schreckhorn, Die Jungfrau, and
a prolonged observation in a crevasse under the Mont Maudit cliffs of
Mont Blanc (1471 mètres), the doctor had to give up his hypothesis of
immunity from hypochondria. In spite of the isolation of the microbe, we
are obliged to admit that no positive result has been gained up till now
as to the treatment of the affected individual--the analogy with cholera
and even tuberculosis can, alas! be applied even here. We continue to
remain powerless to cure hypochondria. We are able to soothe the
sufferings of the hypochondriac, because we are able to deaden his
microbe--kill it, we cannot. After more or less time the bacillus niger
recovers his virulence, and the diseased individual retakes his
momentary interrupted course towards the sombre land whence no traveller
returns, and over whose doors are written those words of the great seer:

  "Lasciate ogni Speranza, voi ch'entrate!"

A severe scientific critic might, however, object that the
above-mentioned experiment on the influence of high altitude on
hypochondria was not pursued long enough to make its negative result
absolutely conclusive. Who knows if the solution of the problem did not
slip out of the doctor's hands that night on the Matterhorn? Who knows
if the patient might not for all time have been freed from his bacillus,
if he had been allowed to remain a little longer up there on the
Matterhorn's cliff, under the cover of the falling snow, while the
darkness of the night vanished more and more from his benumbed thought,
and the dawn of a new day flew past his half-opened eye?



  LA MADONNA DEL BUON CAMMINO

  Naples, 1884.


The doctor had often seen him at the door of the sanctuary looking out
over the dirty lane, and, even when a long distance from each other,
friendly salutations were exchanged between them in the usual Neapolitan
fashion of waving hands, with "_Buon giorno, Don Dionisio!_" "_Ben
venuto, Signor Dottore!_"

Often, too, he had looked in at the old deserted cloister garden, with
its dried-up fountain and a few pale autumn roses against the wall of
the little chapel. And Don Dionisio had related to him many of the
miracles of the Madonna of Buon Cammino. The Madonna of Buon Cammino
stood there quite alone in her half-ruined sanctuary, and only one tiny
little oil-lamp struggled with the darkness within. With great
solemnity Don Dionisio had drawn aside the curtain which veiled his
Madonna from profane eyes; and tenderly as a mother he had arranged the
tattered fringes of her robe, which threatened to fall to pieces
altogether. And the doctor had looked with compassionate wonder upon the
pale waxen image with the impassive smile on the rigid features, which
to Don Dionisio's eyes reflected the highest physical and spiritual
beauty. "_Come è bella, come è simpatica!_"[34] said he, looking up at
his Madonna.

Inside the old church of Santa Maria del Carmine, close by, hundreds of
votive candles were burning before the altars, and night and day the
people flocked in there to implore the mighty Madonna's protection.
Mothers took the rings off their hands and hung them as sacred offerings
round the Madonna's neck, girls drew the strings of coral out of their
dark plaits to adorn the rich robe of the statue, and, with brows
pressed against the worn marble floor, strong men knelt, murmuring
prayers for help and mercy.

Death dwelt in the slums of Naples. Three times the wonder-working image
of the Madonna del Carmine had been carried round the quarter in solemn
procession to protect the people of the Mercato from the dreaded plague,
and many miracles were reported of dying people brought back to life on
being permitted to kiss the hem of the garment of the blessed Maria del
Carmine.

The doctor had seen Don Dionisio disappear into his little portico with
a disdainful shrug when the procession of Maria del Carmine passed by,
and he had more than once heard the old priest express his doubts about
the far-famed Madonna's wonder-working power to one gossip or another,
whom he had succeeded in stopping on her way to the church of the
Madonna.

"What, after all, has your Madonna done for you, you people of Mercato?"
he called out mockingly. "If she is so powerful, why has she not saved
Naples from the cholera? And here, in the midst of her own quarter in
Mercato, whose inhabitants for centuries have knelt before her, what has
she done to prevent the disease spreading here? Do not people die every
day round her own sanctuary, round the very Piazza del Mercato, in spite
of all your prayers, in spite of all your votive candles? _Altro che la
Madonna del Carmine!_[35]

"And as the cholera has never reached this side of the Piazza, and never
will reach it, whom do you suppose you have to thank for that, if not
the holy Madonna del Buon Cammino, who stretches her protecting hand
over you although you do not deserve it, although you leave her
sanctuary dark and take all your offerings to the other Madonnas,
whatever their names may be! And yet you cannot see in your blindness
that the blessed Madonna del Buon Cammino is far more powerful than all
your Madonnas put together! _Altro che la Madonna del Carmine!_"

But no one seemed to take any heed of the old man's words, no votive
candles dispersed the darkness within the chapel of the blessed Madonna
del Buon Cammino, and no lips murmured her name in their prayers for
help and protection against the dreaded sickness. Had they not Santa
Maria del Carmine close by, who from all time had been the patron saint
of the quarter, who had helped them through so much distress, and
consoled them in so much misery? Was there not in her church that
miraculous crucifix out of whose pierced side blood trickled every Good
Friday, and whose hair the priests solemnly cut every Christmas,--that
same crucifix which had bowed its head to avoid the enemy's bullet, and
sent death to the besieger's camp and victory to Naples? And if the
Madonna del Carmine could not give sufficient protection to all of them
in these days of distress, had they not the venerable Madonna del
Colera, who saved their city in the year 1834 from the same sickness
which now raged amongst them? And in the Harbour quarter close by, did
not the Madonna del Porto Salvo stand in her sumptuous chapel dressed in
silk and gold brocade, ready to listen to their prayers? Was there not
to be found by the Banchi Nuovi the far-famed Madonna dell'Aiuto, who
would certainly not belie her name of Helper in the hour of need? Had
they not La Madonna dell'Addolorata with the mantle of solid silver and
the black velvet robe, whose folds no one had ever kissed without
gaining comfort and peace? Had they not La Madonna dell'Immacolata,
whose sky-blue garment was strewn with gold stars from the vault of
heaven itself? Had they not La Madonna di Salette in her purple skirt
dyed with the blood of martyrs? And did not San Gennaro himself stand in
his shining dome above,--he, the patron saint of Naples, whose congealed
blood flows anew every year,--he who protected the city of his care from
plague and famine, and commanded the flowing lava of Vesuvius to stop
before its gates? But La Madonna del Buon Cammino--who knew anything of
her? Who knew whence she came or who had seen with their own eyes a
single miracle worked by her hand? What kind of Madonna was that whose
shrine remained without candles or flowers, and whose mantle was in
rags? "_Non tiene neppure capelli, la vostra Madonna!_"[36] an old woman
had once shouted in Don Dionisio's face, to the great joy of the crowd.
The effect of this argument had been crushing, and Don Dionisio had
disappeared in great fury inside his portico, and had not been seen
again for several days.

The doctor's road lay in that direction one evening, and he determined
to visit his old friend. From inside the chapel he heard Don Dionisio
with mighty voice singing an old Latin hymn in honour of his Madonna.

  "Consolatrix miserorum,
   Suscitatrix mortuorum,
   Mortis rumpe retia;
   Intendentes tuae laudi,
   Nos attende, nos exaudi,
   Nos a morte libera!"

He lifted the curtain before the door, and in the light of the little
oil-lamp he saw Don Dionisio on his knees before the image of his
Madonna, very busy brushing the cobwebs off an enormous old wig of an
indescribable colour. His anger had not yet subsided. "_Dicono che non
tiene capelli!_" he called out as soon as he caught sight of the doctor;
"_mo vogliamo vedere chi tieni i più belli capelli!_"[37] And with a
triumphant glance at his visitor he placed the wig upon the bald head of
La Madonna del Buon Cammino. "_Come è bella, come è simpatica!_" said
he, with sparkling eyes, and he arranged as well as he could the
entangled curls round the forehead of the image.

When the doctor went away Don Dionisio's anger had cooled, and again he
took up his position in the little portico in excellent spirits, quite
ready to fight both on the offensive and defensive for his Madonna's
sake. The same evening the doctor was told of a case of cholera in a
_fondaco_ close by the street in which Don Dionisio lived, and he went
to look at it early the next morning. In passing by he saw the old
fellow already at his post, rubbing his hands and looking very cheerful,
and the doctor had not the heart to tell him then that even the
protecting presence of his Madonna had now failed. But Don Dionisio
waved his hand eagerly as soon as he caught sight of the doctor, and
when he was still some distance he called out, so as to be heard
throughout the whole lane, "_Ecco il colera!_ See now what I have always
said! Here you have got it because you would not believe in La Madonna
del Buon Cammino; now you are all of you going to see what becomes of
those who believe more in the Madonna del Carmine than in her! _Ecco il
colera!_ in our very midst, _Ecco il colera!_"

The lane was full of people, who in trembling terror had fled out of
their houses to pray in the churches and before the shrines at the
street corners, and some of them stopped irresolutely in front of the
chapel to listen to Don Dionisio's threatening prophecy of death to
every one who had dared to brave the anger of the blessed Madonna del
Buon Cammino. The _fondaco_ seemed quite empty, for as many as were
able had run away at the first alarm; but, guided by the sound of
praying voices, the doctor came at last to a dark hole, where the usual
sight met his eyes. Round the door some kneeling _commare_[38] in
earnest prayer; stretched out at full length upon the floor a mother
wringing her hands in despair; and in a corner the livid face of a
child, half-hidden under a heap of ragged coverings. The little girl was
quite cold, her eyelids half shut, and her pulse scarcely perceptible.
Now and again a convulsive trembling passed over her; but except for
that she lay there quite motionless and insensible--cholera! At the head
of the bed lay a picture of the Madonna del Carmine, and the doctor
gathered from the muttering of the women that the wonder-working Madonna
had been brought there the evening before. Now and then the mother
lifted her head and looked searchingly at the doctor, and it seemed to
him as if he could read something like confidence in her anguished eyes.
And yet it appeared as if he could do nothing. Ether-injections,
frictions, all the usual remedies proved fruitless to bring the warmth
of life back, and the pulse grew weaker and weaker. Again the doctor saw
to his surprise the same trusting expression in the mother's eyes when
she looked at him, and he determined to try his new remedy. He knew well
that in a case like this there was nothing to lose, for left to herself
the child was evidently dying; but for some time he had been pursued by
a wild idea that maybe there was everything still to gain. No one cared
any longer to watch what he did; the mother lay with her forehead
pressed against the floor, calling upon the Madonna with touching voice
to take her own life in exchange for the child's; and amongst the
_commare_ the prayers had ceased and in their place a lively discussion
broken out as to whether it would not be better to fetch some other
Madonna, since the Madonna del Carmine would not help them in spite of
all their prayers, in spite of the candles before her image, in spite of
the mother's promise to dress the child in the Madonna's colour for a
whole year, if only it might live. The child was quite insensible, and
everything was easily done. When all was finished the doctor slightly
touched the mother's shoulder, and whilst she stared at him, as if she
hardly understood his words, he said that there was no time to lose if
they wished to fetch another Madonna, and he suggested that they should
send for the holy Madonna del Buon Cammino, whose chapel was close by. A
deep silence followed his words, and it was plain that his suggestion
did not meet with the smallest sympathy. He pretended to take their
silence for consent, and with a little difficulty succeeded in
persuading one of the women, whom he knew well, to go to the chapel of
the Madonna del Buon Cammino.

Don Dionisio came like a shot with his Madonna in his arms. He put the
little oil-lamp at the feet of the image, and began eagerly to sing the
hymn to the honour of his Madonna, now and then casting a furious glance
at the image of her powerful rival, before which the mother still lay
outstretched; whilst by the door the women were muttering all sorts of
opprobrious remarks about his idol: "_Vatene farti un'altra gonnella,
poverella! Benedetto San Gennaro, che brutta faccia che l'hanno dato,
povera vecchia!_"[39]

Suddenly they became quite silent, and in breathless amazement they all
stared at the doctor's pale waxen assistant in his fight for the
child's life. For from the closely compressed lips of the dying girl a
subdued moan was heard, and the half-opened eyes turned slowly towards
the Madonna del Buon Cammino. All crossed themselves repeatedly; and the
doctor perceived the child's pulse grow stronger, and the warmth of life
slowly begin to spread over the icy limbs. The terror of death began to
glow in her eyes, and she cried with half-broken voice: "_Salvatemi!
Salvatemi! Madonna Sanctissima!_"[40]

With a louder voice Don Dionisio began again his song of praise, and all
round him now murmured the name of the blessed Madonna del Buon Cammino.
Don Dionisio left the _fondaco_ about an hour afterwards, followed by a
procession of almost all its inhabitants. The child was then quite
conscious; and all agreed that the holy Madonna del Buon Cammino had
worked a miracle.

The doctor sat for a good while longer at the child's side, watching
with the keenest interest the slow but sure return of its strength. Late
in the evening, when he looked in again, the improvement was so marked
that it was probable the child would live. Everywhere--in the _fondaco_
and in the alleys around--nothing was talked of but the new miracle; and
when the doctor went home he saw for the first time lights shining in
the chapel of the Madonna del Buon Cammino.

He did not sleep a wink that night, for he could not keep his thoughts
away from what he had witnessed in the morning, and he could hardly
restrain his impatience to meet with a fresh case on which to repeat the
experiment.

He had not to wait long. The same night another woman in the _fondaco_
was attacked, and when he saw her the next day she was already so bad
that it seemed as if she might die at any moment. His advice to fetch
the Madonna del Buon Cammino was taken now without hesitation, and
whilst everybody's attention was fixed upon Don Dionisio and his image,
the doctor could busy himself with his patient, undisturbed by any
suspicious and troublesome eyes.

Here again a speedy and decided reaction set in, which became more and
more confirmed during the day; and that same evening the rumour spread
through the alleys of the Mercato of a second miracle by the
wonder-working Madonna del Buon Cammino.

Thus began those strange never-to-be-forgotten days, when, insensible to
fatigue, yes! to hunger, the doctor went day and night from bed to bed,
borne as by strong wings of an idea which almost blinded his sight, and
made all his scepticism waver. He would come with Don Dionisio at his
heels to meet the usual sight of some poor half-dead creature for whom
it seemed as if human skill could do nothing, and when, an hour or two
later, the Madonna del Buon Cammino was carried away in solemn
procession, followed by the deepest devotion of the crowd, he would slip
out unnoticed, forgetful of everything, in silent wonder at the sudden
and constant improvement he had witnessed--an improvement which often
seemed like a rising from the dead.

Ah! he had gone down there where it had seemed to him so easy to die,
just as easy as it had been to delude himself with the thought that he
had gone there only to help others. He had done very little for others,
but a good deal for himself--he had almost forgotten his own misery. His
experience of cholera was already wide enough, he knew about as much as
others knew. He knew that fate reigns over death as over life. Method
after method he had tried honestly and conscientiously, and he had
learnt that in spite of Koch, in spite of the microbes, his ignorance
was as great as ever when it came to the treatment of a cholera patient.
So he had wandered round the quarters of Naples with remedies in his
hands in which he did not believe himself, and words of encouragement
and confidence on his lips, but hopeless scepticism in his heart.

And now this last experiment, so bold that he had almost shrunk from
trying it, which had resulted in an unbroken series of successes in the
midst of an epidemic with an enormous mortality! Once again he was a
doctor and nothing more. With redoubled zeal he followed every case,
scarcely for a minute did he leave his patient's side, and with
increasing excitement he watched every symptom, every detail, with his
former scepticism--and yet the fact remained, for a whole week not a
single fatal case!

He had almost forgotten that Don Dionisio and the Madonna del Buon
Cammino followed his footsteps--he had forgotten them as he had
forgotten himself. Now and then his vacant eyes would fall upon the
unconscious assistant at his side, and he felt glad that he had been
able to give the old man a share in his success. Don Dionisio seemed to
need no more rest than the doctor, day and night he was going about with
his Madonna. His face shone with ecstasy, and he enjoyed to the full his
short happiness.

The Madonna del Buon Cammino was now clothed in a flame-coloured silken
mantle, a diadem of showy glass beads encircled her brow, and round her
neck, strung upon a cord, hung numbers of rings and gold ear-rings.
Night and day votive candles were lighted in her chapel, and on the
walls, so naked before, hung _ex votos_ of all possible kinds,
thank-offerings for deliverance from sickness and death. The chapel was
always full of people, praying fervently on their knees for help from
that mighty Madonna who had performed so many miracles, and who
stretched out her protecting hand over the street. For, to his
amazement, the doctor had heard Don Dionisio prophesy that as long as
the lights burned in the chapel of the Madonna del Buon Cammino, the
cholera would never dare to approach her street.

It was now that the poor people of Naples were to suffer their deepest
misery, that the infection, swift as fire, broke out all over the alleys
and slums of the four poor quarters. It was now that people fell down in
the street as if they had been struck by lightning; that the dying and
dead lay side by side in almost every house; that the omnibuses of
Portici, filled with the day's death-harvest, were driven every evening
up to the Campo Santo dei Colerosi,[41] where over a thousand corpses
every night filled the enormous grave. It was now that trembling hands
broke down the walls with which modern times had hidden the old shrines
at the street corners, that the people in wild fury stormed the Duomo to
force the priests to carry San Gennaro himself down to their alleys. It
was now that anxiety reached the borders of frenzy, that despair began
to howl like rage, that from trembling lips prayers and curses fell in
alternating confusion, that knives gleamed in hands which just before
had convulsively grasped rosary and crucifix.

The doctor and his friend went on their way as before, undisturbed by
the increasing terrors which surrounded them. And wherever they went
Death gave way before them. The doctor needed all his self-control to
enable him still to maintain his doubts, and before his eyes he saw like
a mirage the goal which his daring dreams already reached. As for Don
Dionisio, no questioning doubt had ever awakened his slumbering freedom
of thought, and long ago the doctor had given up all attempts to
restrain the old fellow's joyous conviction of his victory.

The epidemic had now reached its highest point, almost every house in
the quarter was infected, and still Don Dionisio's prophecy held good,
for not a single case had occurred in the street of the Madonna del Buon
Cammino.

The doctor had been told by a _commare_ that in one of the _bassi_ in
Orto del Conte lay a dying woman, and that her husband had been
_avvelenato_[42] in the hospital the day before. He went there the same
evening, but it was with great difficulty that he succeeded in getting
through the hostile crowd which had assembled in front of the infected
house. He heard that the husband had been removed almost by force to
the hospital, that he had there died, and that when, a couple of hours
afterwards, they had tried to remove his wife too, who had been attacked
in the night, the people had opposed it, a _carabiniere_ had been
stabbed, and the others had had to save their lives by flight. As usual,
the unfortunate doctors bore the blame of all the evil, and he heard all
around him in the crowd the well-known epithets of "Ammazzacane!"
"Assassino!"[43] "Avvelenatore!"[44] After several fruitless efforts to
gain their confidence and make friends with them, he had no choice but
to give up all attempts of helping the sick woman and to wait till Don
Dionisio came. As soon as he entered the room the attention of every one
was at once fixed upon him and his Madonna, and they all fell on their
knees and prayed fervently, without caring in the least about either the
patient or the doctor. The woman was in _Stadium algidum_,[45] but her
pulse was still perceptible. Strong in the confidence of his previous
successes, the doctor went to work. He had hardly finished before the
heart began to flag. Just as Don Dionisio with triumphant voice
announced that the miracle was done, the death-agony began, and it was
with the greatest difficulty that the doctor could keep up the action of
the heart until the Madonna del Buon Cammino had left the house,
followed by the crowd outside in solemn procession. Shortly afterwards
the doctor slipped out of the house like a thief, and ran for his life
to the corner of the Via del Duomo, where he knew he would be in safety.

The same night three of his patients died. He did his utmost to prevent
Don Dionisio accompanying him the following day, but in vain. Every one
of the sick he visited and treated that day died under his eyes.

The wings which had borne him during those days had fallen from his
shoulders, and dead tired he wandered home in the evening with Don
Dionisio at his side. They said good-night to each other in front of the
chapel of the Madonna del Buon Cammino, and in the flickering light of
the lamp before her shrine the doctor saw a deathly pallor spread over
his friend's face. The old man tottered and fell, with the Madonna in
his arms. The doctor carried him into the chapel and laid him upon the
straw bed where he slept, in a corner behind a curtain. He placed the
Madonna del Buon Cammino carefully on her stand, and poured oil for the
night into the little lamp which burned over her head. Don Dionisio
motioned with his hand to be moved nearer, and the doctor dragged his
bed forward to the pedestal of the image. "_Come è bella, come è
simpatica!_" said he, with feeble voice. He lay there quite motionless
and silent, with his eyes intently fixed upon his beloved Madonna. The
doctor sat all night long by his side, whilst his strength diminished
more and more and he slowly grew cold. One votive candle after another
flickered and went out, and the shadows fell deeper and deeper in the
chapel of the Madonna del Buon Cammino. Then it became all dark, and
only the little oil-lamp as of old spread its trembling light over the
pale waxen image with the impassive smile upon her rigid features.

The next day the doctor fainted in the street, and was picked up and
taken to the Cholera Hospital. And, indomitable as fate, death swept
over the street of the Madonna del Buon Cammino, over Vicolo del Monaco.
For it was Vicolo del Monaco--that name which filled Naples with terror,
and which, through the newspapers, was known to the whole world as the
place where the cholera raged in its fiercest form.[46]

    *    *    *    *    *

The dark little chapel which sheltered the old visionary's confused
devotion has been razed to the ground by the new order of things which
has dawned over Naples at last, and Vicolo del Monaco is no more. Don
Dionisio sank unconscious from the dim thought-world of his superstition
into the impenetrable darkness of the great grave up there on the Campo
Santo dei Colerosi.

The other, the fool, who for a moment had believed he could command
Death to stop short in his triumphant march, he is still alive, but with
the bitter vision of reality for all time shadowing his sight. So will
he sink, he also, into the great grave of oblivion; and of all those
who lived and suffered in the Vicolo del Monaco nothing will
remain--nothing.

But behind a curtain in some dark little chapel stands the Madonna del
Buon Cammino, with the impassive smile upon her rigid features.

[Footnote 34: "How beautiful, how sympathetic she is!"]

[Footnote 35: "Madonna del Carmine indeed!"]

[Footnote 36: "Your Madonna has not even got any hair on her head!"]

[Footnote 37: "They say she has got no hair! but we shall soon see who
has the most beautiful hair!"]

[Footnote 38: Gossips.]

[Footnote 39: "Go and make thyself another gown, poor thing! Blessed San
Gennaro, what an ugly face they have given her, poor old creature!"]

[Footnote 40: "Save me, save me, most holy Madonna!"]

[Footnote 41: Cholera cemetery.]

[Footnote 42: Poisoned.]

[Footnote 43: "Dog-murderer!" "Assassin!"]

[Footnote 44: "Poisoner!"]

[Footnote 45: The state of collapse, characteristic of cholera, when the
body becomes cold.]

[Footnote 46: Almost the whole alley died. An official report stated
that there were over thirty cases in a single hour.]


  THE END


  _Printed by_ R. & R. Clark, Limited, _Edinburgh_


  =Transcriber's Notes:=
  - hyphenation, spelling and grammar have been preserved as in the
    original (other than as listed below)
  - Italian and Neapolitan sentences have been preserved as in the
    original (other than as listed below)
  Page 72, straight down there?' ==> straight down there?"
  Page 158, foremost to defend.' ==> foremost to defend."
  Page 186, et de Mise en Scéne ==> et de Mise en Scène
  Page 251, Don Petrucchio's Farmacia ==> Don Petruccio's Farmacia
  Page 293, un altra gonnella ==> un'altra gonnella
  Page 303, give up all attemps ==> give up all attempts





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