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Title: Pictures from Italy
Author: Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pictures from Italy" ***

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Transcribed from the 1913 Chapman & Hall, Ltd. edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

                              AMERICAN NOTES
                         GENERAL CIRCULATION {1}
                           PICTURES FROM ITALY

                             CHARLES DICKENS

                                * * * * *

                         WITH 8 ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                            MARCUS STONE, R.A.

                                * * * * *

                           CHAPMAN & HALL, LTD.

                                * * * * *


The Reader’s Passport                                              215
Going through France                                               218
Lyons, the Rhone, and the Goblin of Avignon                        225
Avignon to Genoa                                                   233
Genoa and its Neighbourhood                                        238
To Parma, Modena, and Bologna                                      264
Through Bologna and Ferrara                                        272
An Italian Dream                                                   277
By Verona, Mantua, and Milan, across the Pass of the Simplon       284
into Switzerland
To Rome by Pisa and Siena                                          297
Rome                                                               308
A Rapid Diorama                                                    345


CIVIL AND MILITARY       _Marcus Stone_, _R.A._      218
ITALIAN PEASANTS                ,, ,, ,,             250
THE CHIFFONIER                  ,, ,, ,,             294
IN THE CATACOMBS                ,, ,, ,,             326


IF the readers of this volume will be so kind as to take their
credentials for the different places which are the subject of its
author’s reminiscences, from the Author himself, perhaps they may visit
them, in fancy, the more agreeably, and with a better understanding of
what they are to expect.

Many books have been written upon Italy, affording many means of studying
the history of that interesting country, and the innumerable associations
entwined about it.  I make but little reference to that stock of
information; not at all regarding it as a necessary consequence of my
having had recourse to the storehouse for my own benefit, that I should
reproduce its easily accessible contents before the eyes of my readers.

Neither will there be found, in these pages, any grave examination into
the government or misgovernment of any portion of the country.  No
visitor of that beautiful land can fail to have a strong conviction on
the subject; but as I chose when residing there, a Foreigner, to abstain
from the discussion of any such questions with any order of Italians, so
I would rather not enter on the inquiry now.  During my twelve months’
occupation of a house at Genoa, I never found that authorities
constitutionally jealous were distrustful of me; and I should be sorry to
give them occasion to regret their free courtesy, either to myself or any
of my countrymen.

There is, probably, not a famous Picture or Statue in all Italy, but
could be easily buried under a mountain of printed paper devoted to
dissertations on it.  I do not, therefore, though an earnest admirer of
Painting and Sculpture, expatiate at any length on famous Pictures and

This Book is a series of faint reflections—mere shadows in the water—of
places to which the imaginations of most people are attracted in a
greater or less degree, on which mine had dwelt for years, and which have
some interest for all.  The greater part of the descriptions were written
on the spot, and sent home, from time to time, in private letters.  I do
not mention the circumstance as an excuse for any defects they may
present, for it would be none; but as a guarantee to the Reader that they
were at least penned in the fulness of the subject, and with the
liveliest impressions of novelty and freshness.

If they have ever a fanciful and idle air, perhaps the reader will
suppose them written in the shade of a Sunny Day, in the midst of the
objects of which they treat, and will like them none the worse for having
such influences of the country upon them.

I hope I am not likely to be misunderstood by Professors of the Roman
Catholic faith, on account of anything contained in these pages.  I have
done my best, in one of my former productions, to do justice to them; and
I trust, in this, they will do justice to me.  When I mention any
exhibition that impressed me as absurd or disagreeable, I do not seek to
connect it, or recognise it as necessarily connected with, any essentials
of their creed.  When I treat of the ceremonies of the Holy Week, I
merely treat of their effect, and do not challenge the good and learned
Dr. Wiseman’s interpretation of their meaning.  When I hint a dislike of
nunneries for young girls who abjure the world before they have ever
proved or known it; or doubt the _ex officio_ sanctity of all Priests and
Friars; I do no more than many conscientious Catholics both abroad and at

I have likened these Pictures to shadows in the water, and would fain
hope that I have, nowhere, stirred the water so roughly, as to mar the
shadows.  I could never desire to be on better terms with all my friends
than now, when distant mountains rise, once more, in my path.  For I need
not hesitate to avow, that, bent on correcting a brief mistake I made,
not long ago, in disturbing the old relations between myself and my
readers, and departing for a moment from my old pursuits, I am about to
resume them, joyfully, in Switzerland; where during another year of
absence, I can at once work out the themes I have now in my mind, without
interruption: and while I keep my English audience within speaking
distance, extend my knowledge of a noble country, inexpressibly
attractive to me. {216}

This book is made as accessible as possible, because it would be a great
pleasure to me if I could hope, through its means, to compare impressions
with some among the multitudes who will hereafter visit the scenes
described with interest and delight.

And I have only now, in passport wise, to sketch my reader’s portrait,
which I hope may be thus supposititiously traced for either sex:

Complexion               Fair.
Eyes                     Very cheerful.
Nose                     Not supercilious.
Mouth                    Smiling.
Visage                   Beaming.
General Expression       Extremely agreeable.


ON a fine Sunday morning in the Midsummer time and weather of eighteen
hundred and forty-four, it was, my good friend, when—don’t be alarmed;
not when two travellers might have been observed slowly making their way
over that picturesque and broken ground by which the first chapter of a
Middle Aged novel is usually attained—but when an English
travelling-carriage of considerable proportions, fresh from the shady
halls of the Pantechnicon near Belgrave Square, London, was observed (by
a very small French soldier; for I saw him look at it) to issue from the
gate of the Hôtel Meurice in the Rue Rivoli at Paris.

I am no more bound to explain why the English family travelling by this
carriage, inside and out, should be starting for Italy on a Sunday
morning, of all good days in the week, than I am to assign a reason for
all the little men in France being soldiers, and all the big men
postilions; which is the invariable rule.  But, they had some sort of
reason for what they did, I have no doubt; and their reason for being
there at all, was, as you know, that they were going to live in fair
Genoa for a year; and that the head of the family purposed, in that space
of time, to stroll about, wherever his restless humour carried him.

And it would have been small comfort to me to have explained to the
population of Paris generally, that I was that Head and Chief; and not
the radiant embodiment of good humour who sat beside me in the person of
a French Courier—best of servants and most beaming of men!  Truth to say,
he looked a great deal more patriarchal than I, who, in the shadow of his
portly presence, dwindled down to no account at all.

                      [Picture: Civil and military]

There was, of course, very little in the aspect of Paris—as we rattled
near the dismal Morgue and over the Pont Neuf—to reproach us for our
Sunday travelling.  The wine-shops (every second house) were driving a
roaring trade; awnings were spreading, and chairs and tables arranging,
outside the cafés, preparatory to the eating of ices, and drinking of
cool liquids, later in the day; shoe-blacks were busy on the bridges;
shops were open; carts and waggons clattered to and fro; the narrow,
up-hill, funnel-like streets across the River, were so many dense
perspectives of crowd and bustle, parti-coloured nightcaps,
tobacco-pipes, blouses, large boots, and shaggy heads of hair; nothing at
that hour denoted a day of rest, unless it were the appearance, here and
there, of a family pleasure-party, crammed into a bulky old lumbering
cab; or of some contemplative holiday-maker in the freest and easiest
dishabille, leaning out of a low garret window, watching the drying of
his newly polished shoes on the little parapet outside (if a gentleman),
or the airing of her stockings in the sun (if a lady), with calm

Once clear of the never-to-be-forgotten-or-forgiven pavement which
surrounds Paris, the first three days of travelling towards Marseilles
are quiet and monotonous enough.  To Sens.  To Avallon.  To Chalons.  A
sketch of one day’s proceedings is a sketch of all three; and here it is.

We have four horses, and one postilion, who has a very long whip, and
drives his team, something like the Courier of Saint Petersburgh in the
circle at Astley’s or Franconi’s: only he sits his own horse instead of
standing on him.  The immense jack-boots worn by these postilions, are
sometimes a century or two old; and are so ludicrously disproportionate
to the wearer’s foot, that the spur, which is put where his own heel
comes, is generally halfway up the leg of the boots.  The man often comes
out of the stable-yard, with his whip in his hand and his shoes on, and
brings out, in both hands, one boot at a time, which he plants on the
ground by the side of his horse, with great gravity, until everything is
ready.  When it is—and oh Heaven! the noise they make about it!—he gets
into the boots, shoes and all, or is hoisted into them by a couple of
friends; adjusts the rope harness, embossed by the labours of innumerable
pigeons in the stables; makes all the horses kick and plunge; cracks his
whip like a madman; shouts ‘En route—Hi!’ and away we go.  He is sure to
have a contest with his horse before we have gone very far; and then he
calls him a Thief, and a Brigand, and a Pig, and what not; and beats him
about the head as if he were made of wood.

There is little more than one variety in the appearance of the country,
for the first two days.  From a dreary plain, to an interminable avenue,
and from an interminable avenue to a dreary plain again.  Plenty of vines
there are in the open fields, but of a short low kind, and not trained in
festoons, but about straight sticks.  Beggars innumerable there are,
everywhere; but an extraordinarily scanty population, and fewer children
than I ever encountered.  I don’t believe we saw a hundred children
between Paris and Chalons.  Queer old towns, draw-bridged and walled:
with odd little towers at the angles, like grotesque faces, as if the
wall had put a mask on, and were staring down into the moat; other
strange little towers, in gardens and fields, and down lanes, and in
farm-yards: all alone, and always round, with a peaked roof, and never
used for any purpose at all; ruinous buildings of all sorts; sometimes an
hôtel de ville, sometimes a guard-house, sometimes a dwelling-house,
sometimes a château with a rank garden, prolific in dandelion, and
watched over by extinguisher-topped turrets, and blink-eyed little
casements; are the standard objects, repeated over and over again.
Sometimes we pass a village inn, with a crumbling wall belonging to it,
and a perfect town of out-houses; and painted over the gateway, ‘Stabling
for Sixty Horses;’ as indeed there might be stabling for sixty score,
were there any horses to be stabled there, or anybody resting there, or
anything stirring about the place but a dangling bush, indicative of the
wine inside: which flutters idly in the wind, in lazy keeping with
everything else, and certainly is never in a green old age, though always
so old as to be dropping to pieces.  And all day long, strange little
narrow waggons, in strings of six or eight, bringing cheese from
Switzerland, and frequently in charge, the whole line, of one man, or
even boy—and he very often asleep in the foremost cart—come jingling
past: the horses drowsily ringing the bells upon their harness, and
looking as if they thought (no doubt they do) their great blue woolly
furniture, of immense weight and thickness, with a pair of grotesque
horns growing out of the collar, very much too warm for the Midsummer

Then, there is the Diligence, twice or thrice a-day; with the dusty
outsides in blue frocks, like butchers; and the insides in white
nightcaps; and its cabriolet head on the roof, nodding and shaking, like
an idiot’s head; and its Young-France passengers staring out of window,
with beards down to their waists, and blue spectacles awfully shading
their warlike eyes, and very big sticks clenched in their National grasp.
Also the Malle Poste, with only a couple of passengers, tearing along at
a real good dare-devil pace, and out of sight in no time.  Steady old
Curés come jolting past, now and then, in such ramshackle, rusty, musty,
clattering coaches as no Englishman would believe in; and bony women
dawdle about in solitary places, holding cows by ropes while they feed,
or digging and hoeing or doing field-work of a more laborious kind, or
representing real shepherdesses with their flocks—to obtain an adequate
idea of which pursuit and its followers, in any country, it is only
necessary to take any pastoral poem, or picture, and imagine to yourself
whatever is most exquisitely and widely unlike the descriptions therein

You have been travelling along, stupidly enough, as you generally do in
the last stage of the day; and the ninety-six bells upon the
horses—twenty-four apiece—have been ringing sleepily in your ears for
half an hour or so; and it has become a very jog-trot, monotonous,
tiresome sort of business; and you have been thinking deeply about the
dinner you will have at the next stage; when, down at the end of the long
avenue of trees through which you are travelling, the first indication of
a town appears, in the shape of some straggling cottages: and the
carriage begins to rattle and roll over a horribly uneven pavement.  As
if the equipage were a great firework, and the mere sight of a smoking
cottage chimney had lighted it, instantly it begins to crack and
splutter, as if the very devil were in it.  Crack, crack, crack, crack.
Crack-crack-crack.  Crick-crack.  Crick-crack.  Helo!  Hola!  Vite!
Voleur!  Brigand!  Hi hi hi!  En r-r-r-r-r-route!  Whip, wheels, driver,
stones, beggars, children, crack, crack, crack; helo! hola! charité pour
l’amour de Dieu! crick-crack-crick-crack; crick, crick, crick; bump,
jolt, crack, bump, crick-crack; round the corner, up the narrow street,
down the paved hill on the other side; in the gutter; bump, bump; jolt,
jog, crick, crick, crick; crack, crack, crack; into the shop-windows on
the left-hand side of the street, preliminary to a sweeping turn into the
wooden archway on the right; rumble, rumble, rumble; clatter, clatter,
clatter; crick, crick, crick; and here we are in the yard of the Hôtel de
l’Ecu d’Or; used up, gone out, smoking, spent, exhausted; but sometimes
making a false start unexpectedly, with nothing coming of it—like a
firework to the last!

The landlady of the Hôtel de l’Ecu d’Or is here; and the landlord of the
Hôtel de l’Ecu d’Or is here; and the femme de chambre of the Hôtel de
l’Ecu d’Or is here; and a gentleman in a glazed cap, with a red beard
like a bosom friend, who is staying at the Hôtel de l’Ecu d’Or, is here;
and Monsieur le Curé is walking up and down in a corner of the yard by
himself, with a shovel hat upon his head, and a black gown on his back,
and a book in one hand, and an umbrella in the other; and everybody,
except Monsieur le Curé, is open-mouthed and open-eyed, for the opening
of the carriage-door.  The landlord of the Hôtel de l’Ecu d’Or, dotes to
that extent upon the Courier, that he can hardly wait for his coming down
from the box, but embraces his very legs and boot-heels as he descends.
‘My Courier!  My brave Courier!  My friend!  My brother!’  The landlady
loves him, the femme de chambre blesses him, the garçon worships him.
The Courier asks if his letter has been received?  It has, it has.  Are
the rooms prepared?  They are, they are.  The best rooms for my noble
Courier.  The rooms of state for my gallant Courier; the whole house is
at the service of my best of friends!  He keeps his hand upon the
carriage-door, and asks some other question to enhance the expectation.
He carries a green leathern purse outside his coat, suspended by a belt.
The idlers look at it; one touches it.  It is full of five-franc pieces.
Murmurs of admiration are heard among the boys.  The landlord falls upon
the Courier’s neck, and folds him to his breast.  He is so much fatter
than he was, he says!  He looks so rosy and so well!

The door is opened.  Breathless expectation.  The lady of the family gets
out.  Ah sweet lady!  Beautiful lady!  The sister of the lady of the
family gets out.  Great Heaven, Ma’amselle is charming!  First little boy
gets out.  Ah, what a beautiful little boy!  First little girl gets out.
Oh, but this is an enchanting child!  Second little girl gets out.  The
landlady, yielding to the finest impulse of our common nature, catches
her up in her arms!  Second little boy gets out.  Oh, the sweet boy!  Oh,
the tender little family!  The baby is handed out.  Angelic baby!  The
baby has topped everything.  All the rapture is expended on the baby!
Then the two nurses tumble out; and the enthusiasm swelling into madness,
the whole family are swept up-stairs as on a cloud; while the idlers
press about the carriage, and look into it, and walk round it, and touch
it.  For it is something to touch a carriage that has held so many
people.  It is a legacy to leave one’s children.

The rooms are on the first floor, except the nursery for the night, which
is a great rambling chamber, with four or five beds in it: through a dark
passage, up two steps, down four, past a pump, across a balcony, and next
door to the stable.  The other sleeping apartments are large and lofty;
each with two small bedsteads, tastefully hung, like the windows, with
red and white drapery.  The sitting-room is famous.  Dinner is already
laid in it for three; and the napkins are folded in cocked-hat fashion.
The floors are of red tile.  There are no carpets, and not much furniture
to speak of; but there is abundance of looking-glass, and there are large
vases under glass shades, filled with artificial flowers; and there are
plenty of clocks.  The whole party are in motion.  The brave Courier, in
particular, is everywhere: looking after the beds, having wine poured
down his throat by his dear brother the landlord, and picking up green
cucumbers—always cucumbers; Heaven knows where he gets them—with which he
walks about, one in each hand, like truncheons.

Dinner is announced.  There is very thin soup; there are very large
loaves—one apiece; a fish; four dishes afterwards; some poultry
afterwards; a dessert afterwards; and no lack of wine.  There is not much
in the dishes; but they are very good, and always ready instantly.  When
it is nearly dark, the brave Courier, having eaten the two cucumbers,
sliced up in the contents of a pretty large decanter of oil, and another
of vinegar, emerges from his retreat below, and proposes a visit to the
Cathedral, whose massive tower frowns down upon the court-yard of the
inn.  Off we go; and very solemn and grand it is, in the dim light: so
dim at last, that the polite, old, lanthorn-jawed Sacristan has a feeble
little bit of candle in his hand, to grope among the tombs with—and looks
among the grim columns, very like a lost ghost who is searching for his

Underneath the balcony, when we return, the inferior servants of the inn
are supping in the open air, at a great table; the dish, a stew of meat
and vegetables, smoking hot, and served in the iron cauldron it was
boiled in.  They have a pitcher of thin wine, and are very merry; merrier
than the gentleman with the red beard, who is playing billiards in the
light room on the left of the yard, where shadows, with cues in their
hands, and cigars in their mouths, cross and recross the window,
constantly.  Still the thin Curé walks up and down alone, with his book
and umbrella.  And there he walks, and there the billiard-balls rattle,
long after we are fast asleep.

We are astir at six next morning.  It is a delightful day, shaming
yesterday’s mud upon the carriage, if anything could shame a carriage, in
a land where carriages are never cleaned.  Everybody is brisk; and as we
finish breakfast, the horses come jingling into the yard from the
Post-house.  Everything taken out of the carriage is put back again.  The
brave Courier announces that all is ready, after walking into every room,
and looking all round it, to be certain that nothing is left behind.
Everybody gets in.  Everybody connected with the Hôtel de l’Ecu d’Or is
again enchanted.  The brave Courier runs into the house for a parcel
containing cold fowl, sliced ham, bread, and biscuits, for lunch; hands
it into the coach; and runs back again.

What has he got in his hand now?  More cucumbers?  No.  A long strip of
paper.  It’s the bill.

The brave Courier has two belts on, this morning: one supporting the
purse: another, a mighty good sort of leathern bottle, filled to the
throat with the best light Bordeaux wine in the house.  He never pays the
bill till this bottle is full.  Then he disputes it.

He disputes it now, violently.  He is still the landlord’s brother, but
by another father or mother.  He is not so nearly related to him as he
was last night.  The landlord scratches his head.  The brave Courier
points to certain figures in the bill, and intimates that if they remain
there, the Hôtel de l’Ecu d’Or is thenceforth and for ever an hôtel de
l’Ecu de cuivre.  The landlord goes into a little counting-house.  The
brave Courier follows, forces the bill and a pen into his hand, and talks
more rapidly than ever.  The landlord takes the pen.  The Courier smiles.
The landlord makes an alteration.  The Courier cuts a joke.  The landlord
is affectionate, but not weakly so.  He bears it like a man.  He shakes
hands with his brave brother, but he don’t hug him.  Still, he loves his
brother; for he knows that he will be returning that way, one of these
fine days, with another family, and he foresees that his heart will yearn
towards him again.  The brave Courier traverses all round the carriage
once, looks at the drag, inspects the wheels, jumps up, gives the word,
and away we go!

It is market morning.  The market is held in the little square outside in
front of the cathedral.  It is crowded with men and women, in blue, in
red, in green, in white; with canvassed stalls; and fluttering
merchandise.  The country people are grouped about, with their clean
baskets before them.  Here, the lace-sellers; there, the butter and
egg-sellers; there, the fruit-sellers; there, the shoe-makers.  The whole
place looks as if it were the stage of some great theatre, and the
curtain had just run up, for a picturesque ballet.  And there is the
cathedral to boot: scene-like: all grim, and swarthy, and mouldering, and
cold: just splashing the pavement in one place with faint purple drops,
as the morning sun, entering by a little window on the eastern side,
struggles through some stained glass panes, on the western.

In five minutes we have passed the iron cross, with a little ragged
kneeling-place of turf before it, in the outskirts of the town; and are
again upon the road.


CHALONS is a fair resting-place, in right of its good inn on the bank of
the river, and the little steamboats, gay with green and red paint, that
come and go upon it: which make up a pleasant and refreshing scene, after
the dusty roads.  But, unless you would like to dwell on an enormous
plain, with jagged rows of irregular poplars on it, that look in the
distance like so many combs with broken teeth: and unless you would like
to pass your life without the possibility of going up-hill, or going up
anything but stairs: you would hardly approve of Chalons as a place of

You would probably like it better, however, than Lyons: which you may
reach, if you will, in one of the before-mentioned steamboats, in eight

What a city Lyons is!  Talk about people feeling, at certain unlucky
times, as if they had tumbled from the clouds!  Here is a whole town that
is tumbled, anyhow, out of the sky; having been first caught up, like
other stones that tumble down from that region, out of fens and barren
places, dismal to behold!  The two great streets through which the two
great rivers dash, and all the little streets whose name is Legion, were
scorching, blistering, and sweltering.  The houses, high and vast, dirty
to excess, rotten as old cheeses, and as thickly peopled.  All up the
hills that hem the city in, these houses swarm; and the mites inside were
lolling out of the windows, and drying their ragged clothes on poles, and
crawling in and out at the doors, and coming out to pant and gasp upon
the pavement, and creeping in and out among huge piles and bales of
fusty, musty, stifling goods; and living, or rather not dying till their
time should come, in an exhausted receiver.  Every manufacturing town,
melted into one, would hardly convey an impression of Lyons as it
presented itself to me: for all the undrained, unscavengered qualities of
a foreign town, seemed grafted, there, upon the native miseries of a
manufacturing one; and it bears such fruit as I would go some miles out
of my way to avoid encountering again.

In the cool of the evening: or rather in the faded heat of the day: we
went to see the Cathedral, where divers old women, and a few dogs, were
engaged in contemplation.  There was no difference, in point of
cleanliness, between its stone pavement and that of the streets; and
there was a wax saint, in a little box like a berth aboard ship, with a
glass front to it, whom Madame Tussaud would have nothing to say to, on
any terms, and which even Westminster Abbey might be ashamed of.  If you
would know all about the architecture of this church, or any other, its
dates, dimensions, endowments, and history, is it not written in Mr.
Murray’s Guide-Book, and may you not read it there, with thanks to him,
as I did!

For this reason, I should abstain from mentioning the curious clock in
Lyons Cathedral, if it were not for a small mistake I made, in connection
with that piece of mechanism.  The keeper of the church was very anxious
it should be shown; partly for the honour of the establishment and the
town; and partly, perhaps, because of his deriving a percentage from the
additional consideration.  However that may be, it was set in motion, and
thereupon a host of little doors flew open, and innumerable little
figures staggered out of them, and jerked themselves back again, with
that special unsteadiness of purpose, and hitching in the gait, which
usually attaches to figures that are moved by clock-work.  Meanwhile, the
Sacristan stood explaining these wonders, and pointing them out,
severally, with a wand.  There was a centre puppet of the Virgin Mary;
and close to her, a small pigeon-hole, out of which another and a very
ill-looking puppet made one of the most sudden plunges I ever saw
accomplished: instantly flopping back again at sight of her, and banging
his little door violently after him.  Taking this to be emblematic of the
victory over Sin and Death, and not at all unwilling to show that I
perfectly understood the subject, in anticipation of the showman, I
rashly said, ‘Aha!  The Evil Spirit.  To be sure.  He is very soon
disposed of.’  ‘Pardon, Monsieur,’ said the Sacristan, with a polite
motion of his hand towards the little door, as if introducing
somebody—‘The Angel Gabriel!’

Soon after daybreak next morning, we were steaming down the Arrowy Rhone,
at the rate of twenty miles an hour, in a very dirty vessel full of
merchandise, and with only three or four other passengers for our
companions: among whom, the most remarkable was a silly, old, meek-faced,
garlic-eating, immeasurably polite Chevalier, with a dirty scrap of red
ribbon hanging at his button-hole, as if he had tied it there to remind
himself of something; as Tom Noddy, in the farce, ties knots in his

For the last two days, we had seen great sullen hills, the first
indications of the Alps, lowering in the distance.  Now, we were rushing
on beside them: sometimes close beside them: sometimes with an
intervening slope, covered with vineyards.  Villages and small towns
hanging in mid-air, with great woods of olives seen through the light
open towers of their churches, and clouds moving slowly on, upon the
steep acclivity behind them; ruined castles perched on every eminence;
and scattered houses in the clefts and gullies of the hills; made it very
beautiful.  The great height of these, too, making the buildings look so
tiny, that they had all the charm of elegant models; their excessive
whiteness, as contrasted with the brown rocks, or the sombre, deep, dull,
heavy green of the olive-tree; and the puny size, and little slow walk of
the Lilliputian men and women on the bank; made a charming picture.
There were ferries out of number, too; bridges; the famous Pont d’Esprit,
with I don’t know how many arches; towns where memorable wines are made;
Vallence, where Napoleon studied; and the noble river, bringing at every
winding turn, new beauties into view.

There lay before us, that same afternoon, the broken bridge of Avignon,
and all the city baking in the sun; yet with an under-done-pie-crust,
battlemented wall, that never will be brown, though it bake for

The grapes were hanging in clusters in the streets, and the brilliant
Oleander was in full bloom everywhere.  The streets are old and very
narrow, but tolerably clean, and shaded by awnings stretched from house
to house.  Bright stuffs and handkerchiefs, curiosities, ancient frames
of carved wood, old chairs, ghostly tables, saints, virgins, angels, and
staring daubs of portraits, being exposed for sale beneath, it was very
quaint and lively.  All this was much set off, too, by the glimpses one
caught, through a rusty gate standing ajar, of quiet sleepy court-yards,
having stately old houses within, as silent as tombs.  It was all very
like one of the descriptions in the Arabian Nights.  The three one-eyed
Calenders might have knocked at any one of those doors till the street
rang again, and the porter who persisted in asking questions—the man who
had the delicious purchases put into his basket in the morning—might have
opened it quite naturally.

After breakfast next morning, we sallied forth to see the lions.  Such a
delicious breeze was blowing in, from the north, as made the walk
delightful: though the pavement-stones, and stones of the walls and
houses, were far too hot to have a hand laid on them comfortably.

We went, first of all, up a rocky height, to the cathedral: where Mass
was performing to an auditory very like that of Lyons, namely, several
old women, a baby, and a very self-possessed dog, who had marked out for
himself a little course or platform for exercise, beginning at the
altar-rails and ending at the door, up and down which constitutional walk
he trotted, during the service, as methodically and calmly, as any old
gentleman out of doors.

It is a bare old church, and the paintings in the roof are sadly defaced
by time and damp weather; but the sun was shining in, splendidly, through
the red curtains of the windows, and glittering on the altar furniture;
and it looked as bright and cheerful as need be.

Going apart, in this church, to see some painting which was being
executed in fresco by a French artist and his pupil, I was led to observe
more closely than I might otherwise have done, a great number of votive
offerings with which the walls of the different chapels were profusely
hung.  I will not say decorated, for they were very roughly and comically
got up; most likely by poor sign-painters, who eke out their living in
that way.  They were all little pictures: each representing some sickness
or calamity from which the person placing it there, had escaped, through
the interposition of his or her patron saint, or of the Madonna; and I
may refer to them as good specimens of the class generally.  They are
abundant in Italy.

In a grotesque squareness of outline, and impossibility of perspective,
they are not unlike the woodcuts in old books; but they were
oil-paintings, and the artist, like the painter of the Primrose family,
had not been sparing of his colours.  In one, a lady was having a toe
amputated—an operation which a saintly personage had sailed into the
room, upon a couch, to superintend.  In another, a lady was lying in bed,
tucked up very tight and prim, and staring with much composure at a
tripod, with a slop-basin on it; the usual form of washing-stand, and the
only piece of furniture, besides the bedstead, in her chamber.  One would
never have supposed her to be labouring under any complaint, beyond the
inconvenience of being miraculously wide awake, if the painter had not
hit upon the idea of putting all her family on their knees in one corner,
with their legs sticking out behind them on the floor, like boot-trees.
Above whom, the Virgin, on a kind of blue divan, promised to restore the
patient.  In another case, a lady was in the very act of being run over,
immediately outside the city walls, by a sort of piano-forte van.  But
the Madonna was there again.  Whether the supernatural appearance had
startled the horse (a bay griffin), or whether it was invisible to him, I
don’t know; but he was galloping away, ding dong, without the smallest
reverence or compunction.  On every picture ‘Ex voto’ was painted in
yellow capitals in the sky.

Though votive offerings were not unknown in Pagan Temples, and are
evidently among the many compromises made between the false religion and
the true, when the true was in its infancy, I could wish that all the
other compromises were as harmless.  Gratitude and Devotion are Christian
qualities; and a grateful, humble, Christian spirit may dictate the

Hard by the cathedral stands the ancient Palace of the Popes, of which
one portion is now a common jail, and another a noisy barrack: while
gloomy suites of state apartments, shut up and deserted, mock their own
old state and glory, like the embalmed bodies of kings.  But we neither
went there, to see state rooms, nor soldiers’ quarters, nor a common
jail, though we dropped some money into a prisoners’ box outside, whilst
the prisoners, themselves, looked through the iron bars, high up, and
watched us eagerly.  We went to see the ruins of the dreadful rooms in
which the Inquisition used to sit.

A little, old, swarthy woman, with a pair of flashing black eyes,—proof
that the world hadn’t conjured down the devil within her, though it had
had between sixty and seventy years to do it in,—came out of the Barrack
Cabaret, of which she was the keeper, with some large keys in her hands,
and marshalled us the way that we should go.  How she told us, on the
way, that she was a Government Officer (_concierge du palais a
apostolique_), and had been, for I don’t know how many years; and how she
had shown these dungeons to princes; and how she was the best of dungeon
demonstrators; and how she had resided in the palace from an infant,—had
been born there, if I recollect right,—I needn’t relate.  But such a
fierce, little, rapid, sparkling, energetic she-devil I never beheld.
She was alight and flaming, all the time.  Her action was violent in the
extreme.  She never spoke, without stopping expressly for the purpose.
She stamped her feet, clutched us by the arms, flung herself into
attitudes, hammered against walls with her keys, for mere emphasis: now
whispered as if the Inquisition were there still: now shrieked as if she
were on the rack herself; and had a mysterious, hag-like way with her
forefinger, when approaching the remains of some new horror—looking back
and walking stealthily, and making horrible grimaces—that might alone
have qualified her to walk up and down a sick man’s counterpane, to the
exclusion of all other figures, through a whole fever.

Passing through the court-yard, among groups of idle soldiers, we turned
off by a gate, which this She-Goblin unlocked for our admission, and
locked again behind us: and entered a narrow court, rendered narrower by
fallen stones and heaps of rubbish; part of it choking up the mouth of a
ruined subterranean passage, that once communicated (or is said to have
done so) with another castle on the opposite bank of the river.  Close to
this court-yard is a dungeon—we stood within it, in another minute—in the
dismal tower _des oubliettes_, where Rienzi was imprisoned, fastened by
an iron chain to the very wall that stands there now, but shut out from
the sky which now looks down into it.  A few steps brought us to the
Cachots, in which the prisoners of the Inquisition were confined for
forty-eight hours after their capture, without food or drink, that their
constancy might be shaken, even before they were confronted with their
gloomy judges.  The day has not got in there yet.  They are still small
cells, shut in by four unyielding, close, hard walls; still profoundly
dark; still massively doored and fastened, as of old.

Goblin, looking back as I have described, went softly on, into a vaulted
chamber, now used as a store-room: once the chapel of the Holy Office.
The place where the tribunal sat, was plain.  The platform might have
been removed but yesterday.  Conceive the parable of the Good Samaritan
having been painted on the wall of one of these Inquisition chambers!
But it was, and may be traced there yet.

High up in the jealous wall, are niches where the faltering replies of
the accused were heard and noted down.  Many of them had been brought out
of the very cell we had just looked into, so awfully; along the same
stone passage.  We had trodden in their very footsteps.

I am gazing round me, with the horror that the place inspires, when
Goblin clutches me by the wrist, and lays, not her skinny finger, but the
handle of a key, upon her lip.  She invites me, with a jerk, to follow
her.  I do so.  She leads me out into a room adjoining—a rugged room,
with a funnel-shaped, contracting roof, open at the top, to the bright
day.  I ask her what it is.  She folds her arms, leers hideously, and
stares.  I ask again.  She glances round, to see that all the little
company are there; sits down upon a mound of stones; throws up her arms,
and yells out, like a fiend, ‘La Salle de la Question!’

The Chamber of Torture!  And the roof was made of that shape to stifle
the victim’s cries!  Oh Goblin, Goblin, let us think of this awhile, in
silence.  Peace, Goblin!  Sit with your short arms crossed on your short
legs, upon that heap of stones, for only five minutes, and then flame out

Minutes!  Seconds are not marked upon the Palace clock, when, with her
eyes flashing fire, Goblin is up, in the middle of the chamber,
describing, with her sunburnt arms, a wheel of heavy blows.  Thus it ran
round! cries Goblin.  Mash, mash, mash!  An endless routine of heavy
hammers.  Mash, mash, mash! upon the sufferer’s limbs.  See the stone
trough! says Goblin.  For the water torture!  Gurgle, swill, bloat,
burst, for the Redeemer’s honour!  Suck the bloody rag, deep down into
your unbelieving body, Heretic, at every breath you draw!  And when the
executioner plucks it out, reeking with the smaller mysteries of God’s
own Image, know us for His chosen servants, true believers in the Sermon
on the Mount, elect disciples of Him who never did a miracle but to heal:
who never struck a man with palsy, blindness, deafness, dumbness,
madness, any one affliction of mankind; and never stretched His blessed
hand out, but to give relief and ease!

See! cries Goblin.  There the furnace was.  There they made the irons
red-hot.  Those holes supported the sharp stake, on which the tortured
persons hung poised: dangling with their whole weight from the roof.
‘But;’ and Goblin whispers this; ‘Monsieur has heard of this tower?  Yes?
Let Monsieur look down, then!’

A cold air, laden with an earthy smell, falls upon the face of Monsieur;
for she has opened, while speaking, a trap-door in the wall.  Monsieur
looks in.  Downward to the bottom, upward to the top, of a steep, dark,
lofty tower: very dismal, very dark, very cold.  The Executioner of the
Inquisition, says Goblin, edging in her head to look down also, flung
those who were past all further torturing, down here.  ‘But look! does
Monsieur see the black stains on the wall?’  A glance, over his shoulder,
at Goblin’s keen eye, shows Monsieur—and would without the aid of the
directing key—where they are.  ‘What are they?’  ‘Blood!’

In October, 1791, when the Revolution was at its height here, sixty
persons: men and women (‘and priests,’ says Goblin, ‘priests’): were
murdered, and hurled, the dying and the dead, into this dreadful pit,
where a quantity of quick-lime was tumbled down upon their bodies.  Those
ghastly tokens of the massacre were soon no more; but while one stone of
the strong building in which the deed was done, remains upon another,
there they will lie in the memories of men, as plain to see as the
splashing of their blood upon the wall is now.

Was it a portion of the great scheme of Retribution, that the cruel deed
should be committed in this place!  That a part of the atrocities and
monstrous institutions, which had been, for scores of years, at work, to
change men’s nature, should in its last service, tempt them with the
ready means of gratifying their furious and beastly rage!  Should enable
them to show themselves, in the height of their frenzy, no worse than a
great, solemn, legal establishment, in the height of its power!  No
worse!  Much better.  They used the Tower of the Forgotten, in the name
of Liberty—their liberty; an earth-born creature, nursed in the black mud
of the Bastile moats and dungeons, and necessarily betraying many
evidences of its unwholesome bringing-up—but the Inquisition used it in
the name of Heaven.

Goblin’s finger is lifted; and she steals out again, into the Chapel of
the Holy Office.  She stops at a certain part of the flooring.  Her great
effect is at hand.  She waits for the rest.  She darts at the brave
Courier, who is explaining something; hits him a sounding rap on the hat
with the largest key; and bids him be silent.  She assembles us all,
round a little trap-door in the floor, as round a grave.

‘Voilà!’ she darts down at the ring, and flings the door open with a
crash, in her goblin energy, though it is no light weight.  ‘Voilà les
oubliettes!  Voilà les oubliettes!  Subterranean! Frightful!  Black!
Terrible!  Deadly!  Les oubliettes de l’Inquisition!’

My blood ran cold, as I looked from Goblin, down into the vaults, where
these forgotten creatures, with recollections of the world outside: of
wives, friends, children, brothers: starved to death, and made the stones
ring with their unavailing groans.  But, the thrill I felt on seeing the
accursed wall below, decayed and broken through, and the sun shining in
through its gaping wounds, was like a sense of victory and triumph.  I
felt exalted with the proud delight of living in these degenerate times,
to see it.  As if I were the hero of some high achievement!  The light in
the doleful vaults was typical of the light that has streamed in, on all
persecution in God’s name, but which is not yet at its noon!  It cannot
look more lovely to a blind man newly restored to sight, than to a
traveller who sees it, calmly and majestically, treading down the
darkness of that Infernal Well.


GOBLIN, having shown _les oubliettes_, felt that her great _coup_ was
struck.  She let the door fall with a crash, and stood upon it with her
arms a-kimbo, sniffing prodigiously.

When we left the place, I accompanied her into her house, under the outer
gateway of the fortress, to buy a little history of the building.  Her
cabaret, a dark, low room, lighted by small windows, sunk in the thick
wall—in the softened light, and with its forge-like chimney; its little
counter by the door, with bottles, jars, and glasses on it; its household
implements and scraps of dress against the wall; and a sober-looking
woman (she must have a congenial life of it, with Goblin,) knitting at
the door—looked exactly like a picture by OSTADE.

I walked round the building on the outside, in a sort of dream, and yet
with the delightful sense of having awakened from it, of which the light,
down in the vaults, had given me the assurance.  The immense thickness
and giddy height of the walls, the enormous strength of the massive
towers, the great extent of the building, its gigantic proportions,
frowning aspect, and barbarous irregularity, awaken awe and wonder.  The
recollection of its opposite old uses: an impregnable fortress, a
luxurious palace, a horrible prison, a place of torture, the court of the
Inquisition: at one and the same time, a house of feasting, fighting,
religion, and blood: gives to every stone in its huge form a fearful
interest, and imparts new meaning to its incongruities.  I could think of
little, however, then, or long afterwards, but the sun in the dungeons.
The palace coming down to be the lounging-place of noisy soldiers, and
being forced to echo their rough talk, and common oaths, and to have
their garments fluttering from its dirty windows, was some reduction of
its state, and something to rejoice at; but the day in its cells, and the
sky for the roof of its chambers of cruelty—that was its desolation and
defeat!  If I had seen it in a blaze from ditch to rampart, I should have
felt that not that light, nor all the light in all the fire that burns,
could waste it, like the sunbeams in its secret council-chamber, and its

Before I quit this Palace of the Popes, let me translate from the little
history I mentioned just now, a short anecdote, quite appropriate to
itself, connected with its adventures.

‘An ancient tradition relates, that in 1441, a nephew of Pierre de Lude,
the Pope’s legate, seriously insulted some distinguished ladies of
Avignon, whose relations, in revenge, seized the young man, and horribly
mutilated him.  For several years the legate kept _his_ revenge within
his own breast, but he was not the less resolved upon its gratification
at last.  He even made, in the fulness of time, advances towards a
complete reconciliation; and when their apparent sincerity had prevailed,
he invited to a splendid banquet, in this palace, certain families, whole
families, whom he sought to exterminate.  The utmost gaiety animated the
repast; but the measures of the legate were well taken.  When the dessert
was on the board, a Swiss presented himself, with the announcement that a
strange ambassador solicited an extraordinary audience.  The legate,
excusing himself, for the moment, to his guests, retired, followed by his
officers.  Within a few minutes afterwards, five hundred persons were
reduced to ashes: the whole of that wing of the building having been
blown into the air with a terrible explosion!’

After seeing the churches (I will not trouble you with churches just
now), we left Avignon that afternoon.  The heat being very great, the
roads outside the walls were strewn with people fast asleep in every
little slip of shade, and with lazy groups, half asleep and half awake,
who were waiting until the sun should be low enough to admit of their
playing bowls among the burnt-up trees, and on the dusty road.  The
harvest here was already gathered in, and mules and horses were treading
out the corn in the fields.  We came, at dusk, upon a wild and hilly
country, once famous for brigands; and travelled slowly up a steep
ascent.  So we went on, until eleven at night, when we halted at the town
of Aix (within two stages of Marseilles) to sleep.

The hotel, with all the blinds and shutters closed to keep the light and
heat out, was comfortable and airy next morning, and the town was very
clean; but so hot, and so intensely light, that when I walked out at noon
it was like coming suddenly from the darkened room into crisp blue fire.
The air was so very clear, that distant hills and rocky points appeared
within an hour’s walk; while the town immediately at hand—with a kind of
blue wind between me and it—seemed to be white hot, and to be throwing
off a fiery air from the surface.

We left this town towards evening, and took the road to Marseilles.  A
dusty road it was; the houses shut up close; and the vines powdered
white.  At nearly all the cottage doors, women were peeling and slicing
onions into earthen bowls for supper.  So they had been doing last night
all the way from Avignon.  We passed one or two shady dark châteaux,
surrounded by trees, and embellished with cool basins of water: which
were the more refreshing to behold, from the great scarcity of such
residences on the road we had travelled.  As we approached Marseilles,
the road began to be covered with holiday people.  Outside the
public-houses were parties smoking, drinking, playing draughts and cards,
and (once) dancing.  But dust, dust, dust, everywhere.  We went on,
through a long, straggling, dirty suburb, thronged with people; having on
our left a dreary slope of land, on which the country-houses of the
Marseilles merchants, always staring white, are jumbled and heaped
without the slightest order: backs, fronts, sides, and gables towards all
points of the compass; until, at last, we entered the town.

I was there, twice or thrice afterwards, in fair weather and foul; and I
am afraid there is no doubt that it is a dirty and disagreeable place.
But the prospect, from the fortified heights, of the beautiful
Mediterranean, with its lovely rocks and islands, is most delightful.
These heights are a desirable retreat, for less picturesque reasons—as an
escape from a compound of vile smells perpetually arising from a great
harbour full of stagnant water, and befouled by the refuse of innumerable
ships with all sorts of cargoes: which, in hot weather, is dreadful in
the last degree.

There were foreign sailors, of all nations, in the streets; with red
shirts, blue shirts, buff shirts, tawny shirts, and shirts of orange
colour; with red caps, blue caps, green caps, great beards, and no
beards; in Turkish turbans, glazed English hats, and Neapolitan
head-dresses.  There were the townspeople sitting in clusters on the
pavement, or airing themselves on the tops of their houses, or walking up
and down the closest and least airy of Boulevards; and there were crowds
of fierce-looking people of the lower sort, blocking up the way,
constantly.  In the very heart of all this stir and uproar, was the
common madhouse; a low, contracted, miserable building, looking straight
upon the street, without the smallest screen or court-yard; where
chattering mad-men and mad-women were peeping out, through rusty bars, at
the staring faces below, while the sun, darting fiercely aslant into
their little cells, seemed to dry up their brains, and worry them, as if
they were baited by a pack of dogs.

We were pretty well accommodated at the Hôtel du Paradis, situated in a
narrow street of very high houses, with a hairdresser’s shop opposite,
exhibiting in one of its windows two full-length waxen ladies, twirling
round and round: which so enchanted the hairdresser himself, that he and
his family sat in arm-chairs, and in cool undresses, on the pavement
outside, enjoying the gratification of the passers-by, with lazy dignity.
The family had retired to rest when we went to bed, at midnight; but the
hairdresser (a corpulent man, in drab slippers) was still sitting there,
with his legs stretched out before him, and evidently couldn’t bear to
have the shutters put up.

Next day we went down to the harbour, where the sailors of all nations
were discharging and taking in cargoes of all kinds: fruits, wines, oils,
silks, stuffs, velvets, and every manner of merchandise.  Taking one of a
great number of lively little boats with gay-striped awnings, we rowed
away, under the sterns of great ships, under tow-ropes and cables,
against and among other boats, and very much too near the sides of
vessels that were faint with oranges, to the _Marie Antoinette_, a
handsome steamer bound for Genoa, lying near the mouth of the harbour.
By-and-by, the carriage, that unwieldy ‘trifle from the Pantechnicon,’ on
a flat barge, bumping against everything, and giving occasion for a
prodigious quantity of oaths and grimaces, came stupidly alongside; and
by five o’clock we were steaming out in the open sea.  The vessel was
beautifully clean; the meals were served under an awning on deck; the
night was calm and clear; the quiet beauty of the sea and sky

We were off Nice, early next morning, and coasted along, within a few
miles of the Cornice road (of which more in its place) nearly all day.
We could see Genoa before three; and watching it as it gradually
developed its splendid amphitheatre, terrace rising above terrace, garden
above garden, palace above palace, height upon height, was ample
occupation for us, till we ran into the stately harbour.  Having been
duly astonished, here, by the sight of a few Cappucini monks, who were
watching the fair-weighing of some wood upon the wharf, we drove off to
Albaro, two miles distant, where we had engaged a house.

The way lay through the main streets, but not through the Strada Nuova,
or the Strada Balbi, which are the famous streets of palaces.  I never in
my life was so dismayed!  The wonderful novelty of everything, the
unusual smells, the unaccountable filth (though it is reckoned the
cleanest of Italian towns), the disorderly jumbling of dirty houses, one
upon the roof of another; the passages more squalid and more close than
any in St. Giles’s or old Paris; in and out of which, not vagabonds, but
well-dressed women, with white veils and great fans, were passing and
repassing; the perfect absence of resemblance in any dwelling-house, or
shop, or wall, or post, or pillar, to anything one had ever seen before;
and the disheartening dirt, discomfort, and decay; perfectly confounded
me.  I fell into a dismal reverie.  I am conscious of a feverish and
bewildered vision of saints and virgins’ shrines at the street corners—of
great numbers of friars, monks, and soldiers—of vast red curtains, waving
in the doorways of the churches—of always going up hill, and yet seeing
every other street and passage going higher up—of fruit-stalls, with
fresh lemons and oranges hanging in garlands made of vine-leaves—of a
guard-house, and a drawbridge—and some gateways—and vendors of iced
water, sitting with little trays upon the margin of the kennel—and this
is all the consciousness I had, until I was set down in a rank, dull,
weedy court-yard, attached to a kind of pink jail; and was told I lived

I little thought, that day, that I should ever come to have an attachment
for the very stones in the streets of Genoa, and to look back upon the
city with affection as connected with many hours of happiness and quiet!
But these are my first impressions honestly set down; and how they
changed, I will set down too.  At present, let us breathe after this
long-winded journey.


THE first impressions of such a place as ALBARO, the suburb of Genoa,
where I am now, as my American friends would say, ‘located,’ can hardly
fail, I should imagine, to be mournful and disappointing.  It requires a
little time and use to overcome the feeling of depression consequent, at
first, on so much ruin and neglect.  Novelty, pleasant to most people, is
particularly delightful, I think, to me.  I am not easily dispirited when
I have the means of pursuing my own fancies and occupations; and I
believe I have some natural aptitude for accommodating myself to
circumstances.  But, as yet, I stroll about here, in all the holes and
corners of the neighbourhood, in a perpetual state of forlorn surprise;
and returning to my villa: the Villa Bagnerello (it sounds romantic, but
Signor Bagnerello is a butcher hard by): have sufficient occupation in
pondering over my new experiences, and comparing them, very much to my
own amusement, with my expectations, until I wander out again.

The Villa Bagnerello: or the Pink Jail, a far more expressive name for
the mansion: is in one of the most splendid situations imaginable.  The
noble bay of Genoa, with the deep blue Mediterranean, lies stretched out
near at hand; monstrous old desolate houses and palaces are dotted all
about; lofty hills, with their tops often hidden in the clouds, and with
strong forts perched high up on their craggy sides, are close upon the
left; and in front, stretching from the walls of the house, down to a
ruined chapel which stands upon the bold and picturesque rocks on the
sea-shore, are green vineyards, where you may wander all day long in
partial shade, through interminable vistas of grapes, trained on a rough
trellis-work across the narrow paths.

This sequestered spot is approached by lanes so very narrow, that when we
arrived at the Custom-house, we found the people here had _taken the
measure_ of the narrowest among them, and were waiting to apply it to the
carriage; which ceremony was gravely performed in the street, while we
all stood by in breathless suspense.  It was found to be a very tight
fit, but just a possibility, and no more—as I am reminded every day, by
the sight of various large holes which it punched in the walls on either
side as it came along.  We are more fortunate, I am told, than an old
lady, who took a house in these parts not long ago, and who stuck fast in
_her_ carriage in a lane; and as it was impossible to open one of the
doors, she was obliged to submit to the indignity of being hauled through
one of the little front windows, like a harlequin.

When you have got through these narrow lanes, you come to an archway,
imperfectly stopped up by a rusty old gate—my gate.  The rusty old gate
has a bell to correspond, which you ring as long as you like, and which
nobody answers, as it has no connection whatever with the house.  But
there is a rusty old knocker, too—very loose, so that it slides round
when you touch it—and if you learn the trick of it, and knock long
enough, somebody comes.  The brave Courier comes, and gives you
admittance.  You walk into a seedy little garden, all wild and weedy,
from which the vineyard opens; cross it, enter a square hall like a
cellar, walk up a cracked marble staircase, and pass into a most enormous
room with a vaulted roof and whitewashed walls: not unlike a great
Methodist chapel.  This is the _sala_.  It has five windows and five
doors, and is decorated with pictures which would gladden the heart of
one of those picture-cleaners in London who hang up, as a sign, a picture
divided, like death and the lady, at the top of the old ballad: which
always leaves you in a state of uncertainty whether the ingenious
professor has cleaned one half, or dirtied the other.  The furniture of
this _sala_ is a sort of red brocade.  All the chairs are immovable, and
the sofa weighs several tons.

On the same floor, and opening out of this same chamber, are dining-room,
drawing-room, and divers bedrooms: each with a multiplicity of doors and
windows.  Up-stairs are divers other gaunt chambers, and a kitchen; and
down-stairs is another kitchen, which, with all sorts of strange
contrivances for burning charcoal, looks like an alchemical laboratory.
There are also some half-dozen small sitting-rooms, where the servants in
this hot July, may escape from the heat of the fire, and where the brave
Courier plays all sorts of musical instruments of his own manufacture,
all the evening long.  A mighty old, wandering, ghostly, echoing, grim,
bare house it is, as ever I beheld or thought of.

There is a little vine-covered terrace, opening from the drawing-room;
and under this terrace, and forming one side of the little garden, is
what used to be the stable.  It is now a cow-house, and has three cows in
it, so that we get new milk by the bucketful.  There is no pasturage
near, and they never go out, but are constantly lying down, and
surfeiting themselves with vine-leaves—perfect Italian cows enjoying the
_dolce far’ niente_ all day long.  They are presided over, and slept
with, by an old man named Antonio, and his son; two burnt-sienna natives
with naked legs and feet, who wear, each, a shirt, a pair of trousers,
and a red sash, with a relic, or some sacred charm like the bonbon off a
twelfth-cake, hanging round the neck.  The old man is very anxious to
convert me to the Catholic faith, and exhorts me frequently.  We sit upon
a stone by the door, sometimes in the evening, like Robinson Crusoe and
Friday reversed; and he generally relates, towards my conversion, an
abridgment of the History of Saint Peter—chiefly, I believe, from the
unspeakable delight he has in his imitation of the cock.

The view, as I have said, is charming; but in the day you must keep the
lattice-blinds close shut, or the sun would drive you mad; and when the
sun goes down you must shut up all the windows, or the mosquitoes would
tempt you to commit suicide.  So at this time of the year, you don’t see
much of the prospect within doors.  As for the flies, you don’t mind
them.  Nor the fleas, whose size is prodigious, and whose name is Legion,
and who populate the coach-house to that extent that I daily expect to
see the carriage going off bodily, drawn by myriads of industrious fleas
in harness.  The rats are kept away, quite comfortably, by scores of lean
cats, who roam about the garden for that purpose.  The lizards, of
course, nobody cares for; they play in the sun, and don’t bite.  The
little scorpions are merely curious.  The beetles are rather late, and
have not appeared yet.  The frogs are company.  There is a preserve of
them in the grounds of the next villa; and after nightfall, one would
think that scores upon scores of women in pattens were going up and down
a wet stone pavement without a moment’s cessation.  That is exactly the
noise they make.

The ruined chapel, on the picturesque and beautiful sea-shore, was
dedicated, once upon a time, to Saint John the Baptist.  I believe there
is a legend that Saint John’s bones were received there, with various
solemnities, when they were first brought to Genoa; for Genoa possesses
them to this day.  When there is any uncommon tempest at sea, they are
brought out and exhibited to the raging weather, which they never fail to
calm.  In consequence of this connection of Saint John with the city,
great numbers of the common people are christened Giovanni Baptista,
which latter name is pronounced in the Genoese patois ‘Batcheetcha,’ like
a sneeze.  To hear everybody calling everybody else Batcheetcha, on a
Sunday, or festa-day, when there are crowds in the streets, is not a
little singular and amusing to a stranger.

The narrow lanes have great villas opening into them, whose walls
(outside walls, I mean) are profusely painted with all sorts of subjects,
grim and holy.  But time and the sea-air have nearly obliterated them;
and they look like the entrance to Vauxhall Gardens on a sunny day.  The
court-yards of these houses are overgrown with grass and weeds; all sorts
of hideous patches cover the bases of the statues, as if they were
afflicted with a cutaneous disorder; the outer gates are rusty; and the
iron bars outside the lower windows are all tumbling down.  Firewood is
kept in halls where costly treasures might be heaped up, mountains high;
waterfalls are dry and choked; fountains, too dull to play, and too lazy
to work, have just enough recollection of their identity, in their sleep,
to make the neighbourhood damp; and the sirocco wind is often blowing
over all these things for days together, like a gigantic oven out for a

Not long ago, there was a festa-day, in honour of the _Virgin’s mother_,
when the young men of the neighbourhood, having worn green wreaths of the
vine in some procession or other, bathed in them, by scores.  It looked
very odd and pretty.  Though I am bound to confess (not knowing of the
festa at that time), that I thought, and was quite satisfied, they wore
them as horses do—to keep the flies off.

Soon afterwards, there was another festa-day, in honour of St. Nazaro.
One of the Albaro young men brought two large bouquets soon after
breakfast, and coming up-stairs into the great _sala_, presented them
himself.  This was a polite way of begging for a contribution towards the
expenses of some music in the Saint’s honour, so we gave him whatever it
may have been, and his messenger departed: well satisfied.  At six
o’clock in the evening we went to the church—close at hand—a very gaudy
place, hung all over with festoons and bright draperies, and filled, from
the altar to the main door, with women, all seated.  They wear no bonnets
here, simply a long white veil—the ‘mezzero;’ and it was the most gauzy,
ethereal-looking audience I ever saw.  The young women are not generally
pretty, but they walk remarkably well, and in their personal carriage and
the management of their veils, display much innate grace and elegance.
There were some men present: not very many: and a few of these were
kneeling about the aisles, while everybody else tumbled over them.
Innumerable tapers were burning in the church; the bits of silver and tin
about the saints (especially in the Virgin’s necklace) sparkled
brilliantly; the priests were seated about the chief altar; the organ
played away, lustily, and a full band did the like; while a conductor, in
a little gallery opposite to the band, hammered away on the desk before
him, with a scroll; and a tenor, without any voice, sang.  The band
played one way, the organ played another, the singer went a third, and
the unfortunate conductor banged and banged, and flourished his scroll on
some principle of his own: apparently well satisfied with the whole
performance.  I never did hear such a discordant din.  The heat was
intense all the time.

The men, in red caps, and with loose coats hanging on their shoulders
(they never put them on), were playing bowls, and buying sweetmeats,
immediately outside the church.  When half-a-dozen of them finished a
game, they came into the aisle, crossed themselves with the holy water,
knelt on one knee for an instant, and walked off again to play another
game at bowls.  They are remarkably expert at this diversion, and will
play in the stony lanes and streets, and on the most uneven and
disastrous ground for such a purpose, with as much nicety as on a
billiard-table.  But the most favourite game is the national one of Mora,
which they pursue with surprising ardour, and at which they will stake
everything they possess.  It is a destructive kind of gambling, requiring
no accessories but the ten fingers, which are always—I intend no pun—at
hand.  Two men play together.  One calls a number—say the extreme one,
ten.  He marks what portion of it he pleases by throwing out three, or
four, or five fingers; and his adversary has, in the same instant, at
hazard, and without seeing his hand, to throw out as many fingers, as
will make the exact balance.  Their eyes and hands become so used to
this, and act with such astonishing rapidity, that an uninitiated
bystander would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to follow the
progress of the game.  The initiated, however, of whom there is always an
eager group looking on, devour it with the most intense avidity; and as
they are always ready to champion one side or the other in case of a
dispute, and are frequently divided in their partisanship, it is often a
very noisy proceeding.  It is never the quietest game in the world; for
the numbers are always called in a loud sharp voice, and follow as close
upon each other as they can be counted.  On a holiday evening, standing
at a window, or walking in a garden, or passing through the streets, or
sauntering in any quiet place about the town, you will hear this game in
progress in a score of wine-shops at once; and looking over any vineyard
walk, or turning almost any corner, will come upon a knot of players in
full cry.  It is observable that most men have a propensity to throw out
some particular number oftener than another; and the vigilance with which
two sharp-eyed players will mutually endeavour to detect this weakness,
and adapt their game to it, is very curious and entertaining.  The effect
is greatly heightened by the universal suddenness and vehemence of
gesture; two men playing for half a farthing with an intensity as
all-absorbing as if the stake were life.

Hard by here is a large Palazzo, formerly belonging to some member of the
Brignole family, but just now hired by a school of Jesuits for their
summer quarters.  I walked into its dismantled precincts the other
evening about sunset, and couldn’t help pacing up and down for a little
time, drowsily taking in the aspect of the place: which is repeated
hereabouts in all directions.

I loitered to and fro, under a colonnade, forming two sides of a weedy,
grass-grown court-yard, whereof the house formed a third side, and a low
terrace-walk, overlooking the garden and the neighbouring hills, the
fourth.  I don’t believe there was an uncracked stone in the whole
pavement.  In the centre was a melancholy statue, so piebald in its
decay, that it looked exactly as if it had been covered with
sticking-plaster, and afterwards powdered.  The stables, coach-houses,
offices, were all empty, all ruinous, all utterly deserted.

Doors had lost their hinges, and were holding on by their latches;
windows were broken, painted plaster had peeled off, and was lying about
in clods; fowls and cats had so taken possession of the out-buildings,
that I couldn’t help thinking of the fairy tales, and eyeing them with
suspicion, as transformed retainers, waiting to be changed back again.
One old Tom in particular: a scraggy brute, with a hungry green eye (a
poor relation, in reality, I am inclined to think): came prowling round
and round me, as if he half believed, for the moment, that I might be the
hero come to marry the lady, and set all to-rights; but discovering his
mistake, he suddenly gave a grim snarl, and walked away with such a
tremendous tail, that he couldn’t get into the little hole where he
lived, but was obliged to wait outside, until his indignation and his
tail had gone down together.

In a sort of summer-house, or whatever it may be, in this colonnade, some
Englishmen had been living, like grubs in a nut; but the Jesuits had
given them notice to go, and they had gone, and _that_ was shut up too.
The house: a wandering, echoing, thundering barrack of a place, with the
lower windows barred up, as usual, was wide open at the door: and I have
no doubt I might have gone in, and gone to bed, and gone dead, and nobody
a bit the wiser.  Only one suite of rooms on an upper floor was tenanted;
and from one of these, the voice of a young-lady vocalist, practising
bravura lustily, came flaunting out upon the silent evening.

I went down into the garden, intended to be prim and quaint, with
avenues, and terraces, and orange-trees, and statues, and water in stone
basins; and everything was green, gaunt, weedy, straggling, under grown
or over grown, mildewy, damp, redolent of all sorts of slabby, clammy,
creeping, and uncomfortable life.  There was nothing bright in the whole
scene but a firefly—one solitary firefly—showing against the dark bushes
like the last little speck of the departed Glory of the house; and even
it went flitting up and down at sudden angles, and leaving a place with a
jerk, and describing an irregular circle, and returning to the same place
with a twitch that startled one: as if it were looking for the rest of
the Glory, and wondering (Heaven knows it might!) what had become of it.

                                * * * * *

In the course of two months, the flitting shapes and shadows of my dismal
entering reverie gradually resolved themselves into familiar forms and
substances; and I already began to think that when the time should come,
a year hence, for closing the long holiday and turning back to England, I
might part from Genoa with anything but a glad heart.

It is a place that ‘grows upon you’ every day.  There seems to be always
something to find out in it.  There are the most extraordinary alleys and
by-ways to walk about in.  You can lose your way (what a comfort that is,
when you are idle!) twenty times a day, if you like; and turn up again,
under the most unexpected and surprising difficulties.  It abounds in the
strangest contrasts; things that are picturesque, ugly, mean,
magnificent, delightful, and offensive, break upon the view at every

They who would know how beautiful the country immediately surrounding
Genoa is, should climb (in clear weather) to the top of Monte Faccio, or,
at least, ride round the city walls: a feat more easily performed.  No
prospect can be more diversified and lovely than the changing views of
the harbour, and the valleys of the two rivers, the Polcevera and the
Bizagno, from the heights along which the strongly fortified walls are
carried, like the great wall of China in little.  In not the least
picturesque part of this ride, there is a fair specimen of a real Genoese
tavern, where the visitor may derive good entertainment from real Genoese
dishes, such as Tagliarini; Ravioli; German sausages, strong of garlic,
sliced and eaten with fresh green figs; cocks’ combs and sheep-kidneys,
chopped up with mutton chops and liver; small pieces of some unknown part
of a calf, twisted into small shreds, fried, and served up in a great
dish like white-bait; and other curiosities of that kind.  They often get
wine at these suburban Trattorie, from France and Spain and Portugal,
which is brought over by small captains in little trading-vessels.  They
buy it at so much a bottle, without asking what it is, or caring to
remember if anybody tells them, and usually divide it into two heaps; of
which they label one Champagne, and the other Madeira.  The various
opposite flavours, qualities, countries, ages, and vintages that are
comprised under these two general heads is quite extraordinary.  The most
limited range is probably from cool Gruel up to old Marsala, and down
again to apple Tea.

The great majority of the streets are as narrow as any thoroughfare can
well be, where people (even Italian people) are supposed to live and walk
about; being mere lanes, with here and there a kind of well, or
breathing-place.  The houses are immensely high, painted in all sorts of
colours, and are in every stage and state of damage, dirt, and lack of
repair.  They are commonly let off in floors, or flats, like the houses
in the old town of Edinburgh, or many houses in Paris.  There are few
street doors; the entrance halls are, for the most part, looked upon as
public property; and any moderately enterprising scavenger might make a
fine fortune by now and then clearing them out.  As it is impossible for
coaches to penetrate into these streets, there are sedan chairs, gilded
and otherwise, for hire in divers places.  A great many private chairs
are also kept among the nobility and gentry; and at night these are
trotted to and fro in all directions, preceded by bearers of great
lanthorns, made of linen stretched upon a frame.  The sedans and
lanthorns are the legitimate successors of the long strings of patient
and much-abused mules, that go jingling their little bells through these
confined streets all day long.  They follow them, as regularly as the
stars the sun.

When shall I forget the Streets of Palaces: the Strada Nuova and the
Strada Balbi! or how the former looked one summer day, when I first saw
it underneath the brightest and most intensely blue of summer skies:
which its narrow perspective of immense mansions, reduced to a tapering
and most precious strip of brightness, looking down upon the heavy shade
below!  A brightness not too common, even in July and August, to be well
esteemed: for, if the Truth must out, there were not eight blue skies in
as many midsummer weeks, saving, sometimes, early in the morning; when,
looking out to sea, the water and the firmament were one world of deep
and brilliant blue.  At other times, there were clouds and haze enough to
make an Englishman grumble in his own climate.

The endless details of these rich Palaces: the walls of some of them,
within, alive with masterpieces by Vandyke!  The great, heavy, stone
balconies, one above another, and tier over tier: with here and there,
one larger than the rest, towering high up—a huge marble platform; the
doorless vestibules, massively barred lower windows, immense public
staircases, thick marble pillars, strong dungeon-like arches, and dreary,
dreaming, echoing vaulted chambers: among which the eye wanders again,
and again, and again, as every palace is succeeded by another—the terrace
gardens between house and house, with green arches of the vine, and
groves of orange-trees, and blushing oleander in full bloom, twenty,
thirty, forty feet above the street—the painted halls, mouldering, and
blotting, and rotting in the damp corners, and still shining out in
beautiful colours and voluptuous designs, where the walls are dry—the
faded figures on the outsides of the houses, holding wreaths, and crowns,
and flying upward, and downward, and standing in niches, and here and
there looking fainter and more feeble than elsewhere, by contrast with
some fresh little Cupids, who on a more recently decorated portion of the
front, are stretching out what seems to be the semblance of a blanket,
but is, indeed, a sun-dial—the steep, steep, up-hill streets of small
palaces (but very large palaces for all that), with marble terraces
looking down into close by-ways—the magnificent and innumerable Churches;
and the rapid passage from a street of stately edifices, into a maze of
the vilest squalor, steaming with unwholesome stenches, and swarming with
half-naked children and whole worlds of dirty people—make up, altogether,
such a scene of wonder: so lively, and yet so dead: so noisy, and yet so
quiet: so obtrusive, and yet so shy and lowering: so wide awake, and yet
so fast asleep: that it is a sort of intoxication to a stranger to walk
on, and on, and on, and look about him.  A bewildering phantasmagoria,
with all the inconsistency of a dream, and all the pain and all the
pleasure of an extravagant reality!

The different uses to which some of these Palaces are applied, all at
once, is characteristic.  For instance, the English Banker (my excellent
and hospitable friend) has his office in a good-sized Palazzo in the
Strada Nuova.  In the hall (every inch of which is elaborately painted,
but which is as dirty as a police-station in London), a hook-nosed
Saracen’s Head with an immense quantity of black hair (there is a man
attached to it) sells walking-sticks.  On the other side of the doorway,
a lady with a showy handkerchief for head-dress (wife to the Saracen’s
Head, I believe) sells articles of her own knitting; and sometimes
flowers.  A little further in, two or three blind men occasionally beg.
Sometimes, they are visited by a man without legs, on a little go-cart,
but who has such a fresh-coloured, lively face, and such a respectable,
well-conditioned body, that he looks as if he had sunk into the ground up
to his middle, or had come, but partially, up a flight of cellar-steps to
speak to somebody.  A little further in, a few men, perhaps, lie asleep
in the middle of the day; or they may be chairmen waiting for their
absent freight.  If so, they have brought their chairs in with them, and
there _they_ stand also.  On the left of the hall is a little room: a
hatter’s shop.  On the first floor, is the English bank.  On the first
floor also, is a whole house, and a good large residence too.  Heaven
knows what there may be above that; but when you are there, you have only
just begun to go up-stairs.  And yet, coming down-stairs again, thinking
of this; and passing out at a great crazy door in the back of the hall,
instead of turning the other way, to get into the street again; it bangs
behind you, making the dismallest and most lonesome echoes, and you stand
in a yard (the yard of the same house) which seems to have been unvisited
by human foot, for a hundred years.  Not a sound disturbs its repose.
Not a head, thrust out of any of the grim, dark, jealous windows, within
sight, makes the weeds in the cracked pavement faint of heart, by
suggesting the possibility of there being hands to grub them up.
Opposite to you, is a giant figure carved in stone, reclining, with an
urn, upon a lofty piece of artificial rockwork; and out of the urn,
dangles the fag end of a leaden pipe, which, once upon a time, poured a
small torrent down the rocks.  But the eye-sockets of the giant are not
drier than this channel is now.  He seems to have given his urn, which is
nearly upside down, a final tilt; and after crying, like a sepulchral
child, ‘All gone!’ to have lapsed into a stony silence.

In the streets of shops, the houses are much smaller, but of great size
notwithstanding, and extremely high.  They are very dirty: quite
undrained, if my nose be at all reliable: and emit a peculiar fragrance,
like the smell of very bad cheese, kept in very hot blankets.
Notwithstanding the height of the houses, there would seem to have been a
lack of room in the City, for new houses are thrust in everywhere.
Wherever it has been possible to cram a tumble-down tenement into a crack
or corner, in it has gone.  If there be a nook or angle in the wall of a
church, or a crevice in any other dead wall, of any sort, there you are
sure to find some kind of habitation: looking as if it had grown there,
like a fungus.  Against the Government House, against the old Senate
House, round about any large building, little shops stick so close, like
parasite vermin to the great carcase.  And for all this, look where you
may: up steps, down steps, anywhere, everywhere: there are irregular
houses, receding, starting forward, tumbling down, leaning against their
neighbours, crippling themselves or their friends by some means or other,
until one, more irregular than the rest, chokes up the way, and you can’t
see any further.

One of the rottenest-looking parts of the town, I think, is down by the
landing-wharf: though it may be, that its being associated with a great
deal of rottenness on the evening of our arrival, has stamped it deeper
in my mind.  Here, again, the houses are very high, and are of an
infinite variety of deformed shapes, and have (as most of the houses
have) something hanging out of a great many windows, and wafting its
frowsy fragrance on the breeze.  Sometimes, it is a curtain; sometimes,
it is a carpet; sometimes, it is a bed; sometimes, a whole line-full of
clothes; but there is almost always something.  Before the basement of
these houses, is an arcade over the pavement: very massive, dark, and
low, like an old crypt.  The stone, or plaster, of which it is made, has
turned quite black; and against every one of these black piles, all sorts
of filth and garbage seem to accumulate spontaneously.  Beneath some of
the arches, the sellers of macaroni and polenta establish their stalls,
which are by no means inviting.  The offal of a fish-market, near at
hand—that is to say, of a back lane, where people sit upon the ground and
on various old bulk-heads and sheds, and sell fish when they have any to
dispose of—and of a vegetable market, constructed on the same
principle—are contributed to the decoration of this quarter; and as all
the mercantile business is transacted here, and it is crowded all day, it
has a very decided flavour about it.  The Porto Franco, or Free Port
(where goods brought in from foreign countries pay no duty until they are
sold and taken out, as in a bonded warehouse in England), is down here
also; and two portentous officials, in cocked hats, stand at the gate to
search you if they choose, and to keep out Monks and Ladies.  For,
Sanctity as well as Beauty has been known to yield to the temptation of
smuggling, and in the same way: that is to say, by concealing the
smuggled property beneath the loose folds of its dress.  So Sanctity and
Beauty may, by no means, enter.

The streets of Genoa would be all the better for the importation of a few
Priests of prepossessing appearance.  Every fourth or fifth man in the
streets is a Priest or a Monk; and there is pretty sure to be at least
one itinerant ecclesiastic inside or outside every hackney carriage on
the neighbouring roads.  I have no knowledge, elsewhere, of more
repulsive countenances than are to be found among these gentry.  If
Nature’s handwriting be at all legible, greater varieties of sloth,
deceit, and intellectual torpor, could hardly be observed among any class
of men in the world.

MR. PEPYS once heard a clergyman assert in his sermon, in illustration of
his respect for the Priestly office, that if he could meet a Priest and
angel together, he would salute the Priest first.  I am rather of the
opinion of PETRARCH, who, when his pupil BOCCACCIO wrote to him in great
tribulation, that he had been visited and admonished for his writings by
a Carthusian Friar who claimed to be a messenger immediately commissioned
by Heaven for that purpose, replied, that for his own part, he would take
the liberty of testing the reality of the commission by personal
observation of the Messenger’s face, eyes, forehead, behaviour, and
discourse.  I cannot but believe myself, from similar observation, that
many unaccredited celestial messengers may be seen skulking through the
streets of Genoa, or droning away their lives in other Italian towns.

Perhaps the Cappuccíni, though not a learned body, are, as an order, the
best friends of the people.  They seem to mingle with them more
immediately, as their counsellors and comforters; and to go among them
more, when they are sick; and to pry less than some other orders, into
the secrets of families, for the purpose of establishing a baleful
ascendency over their weaker members; and to be influenced by a less
fierce desire to make converts, and once made, to let them go to ruin,
soul and body.  They may be seen, in their coarse dress, in all parts of
the town at all times, and begging in the markets early in the morning.
The Jesuits too, muster strong in the streets, and go slinking
noiselessly about, in pairs, like black cats.

In some of the narrow passages, distinct trades congregate.  There is a
street of jewellers, and there is a row of booksellers; but even down in
places where nobody ever can, or ever could, penetrate in a carriage,
there are mighty old palaces shut in among the gloomiest and closest
walls, and almost shut out from the sun.  Very few of the tradesmen have
any idea of setting forth their goods, or disposing them for show.  If
you, a stranger, want to buy anything, you usually look round the shop
till you see it; then clutch it, if it be within reach, and inquire how
much.  Everything is sold at the most unlikely place.  If you want
coffee, you go to a sweetmeat shop; and if you want meat, you will
probably find it behind an old checked curtain, down half-a-dozen steps,
in some sequestered nook as hard to find as if the commodity were poison,
and Genoa’s law were death to any that uttered it.

Most of the apothecaries’ shops are great lounging-places.  Here, grave
men with sticks, sit down in the shade for hours together, passing a
meagre Genoa paper from hand to hand, and talking, drowsily and
sparingly, about the News.  Two or three of these are poor physicians,
ready to proclaim themselves on an emergency, and tear off with any
messenger who may arrive.  You may know them by the way in which they
stretch their necks to listen, when you enter; and by the sigh with which
they fall back again into their dull corners, on finding that you only
want medicine.  Few people lounge in the barbers’ shops; though they are
very numerous, as hardly any man shaves himself.  But the apothecary’s
has its group of loungers, who sit back among the bottles, with their
hands folded over the tops of their sticks.  So still and quiet, that
either you don’t see them in the darkened shop, or mistake them—as I did
one ghostly man in bottle-green, one day, with a hat like a stopper—for
Horse Medicine.

                                * * * * *

On a summer evening the Genoese are as fond of putting themselves, as
their ancestors were of putting houses, in every available inch of space
in and about the town.  In all the lanes and alleys, and up every little
ascent, and on every dwarf wall, and on every flight of steps, they
cluster like bees.  Meanwhile (and especially on festa-days) the bells of
the churches ring incessantly; not in peals, or any known form of sound,
but in a horrible, irregular, jerking, dingle, dingle, dingle: with a
sudden stop at every fifteenth dingle or so, which is maddening.  This
performance is usually achieved by a boy up in the steeple, who takes
hold of the clapper, or a little rope attached to it, and tries to dingle
louder than every other boy similarly employed.  The noise is supposed to
be particularly obnoxious to Evil Spirits; but looking up into the
steeples, and seeing (and hearing) these young Christians thus engaged,
one might very naturally mistake them for the Enemy.

Festa-days, early in the autumn, are very numerous.  All the shops were
shut up, twice within a week, for these holidays; and one night, all the
houses in the neighbourhood of a particular church were illuminated,
while the church itself was lighted, outside, with torches; and a grove
of blazing links was erected, in an open space outside one of the city
gates.  This part of the ceremony is prettier and more singular a little
way in the country, where you can trace the illuminated cottages all the
way up a steep hill-side; and where you pass festoons of tapers, wasting
away in the starlight night, before some lonely little house upon the

On these days, they always dress the church of the saint in whose honour
the festa is holden, very gaily.  Gold-embroidered festoons of different
colours, hang from the arches; the altar furniture is set forth; and
sometimes, even the lofty pillars are swathed from top to bottom in
tight-fitting draperies.  The cathedral is dedicated to St. Lorenzo.  On
St. Lorenzo’s day, we went into it, just as the sun was setting.
Although these decorations are usually in very indifferent taste, the
effect, just then, was very superb indeed.  For the whole building was
dressed in red; and the sinking sun, streaming in, through a great red
curtain in the chief doorway, made all the gorgeousness its own.  When
the sun went down, and it gradually grew quite dark inside, except for a
few twinkling tapers on the principal altar, and some small dangling
silver lamps, it was very mysterious and effective.  But, sitting in any
of the churches towards evening, is like a mild dose of opium.

                        [Picture: Italian Romance]

With the money collected at a festa, they usually pay for the dressing of
the church, and for the hiring of the band, and for the tapers.  If there
be any left (which seldom happens, I believe), the souls in Purgatory get
the benefit of it.  They are also supposed to have the benefit of the
exertions of certain small boys, who shake money-boxes before some
mysterious little buildings like rural turnpikes, which (usually shut up
close) fly open on Red-letter days, and disclose an image and some
flowers inside.

Just without the city gate, on the Albara road, is a small house, with an
altar in it, and a stationary money-box: also for the benefit of the
souls in Purgatory.  Still further to stimulate the charitable, there is
a monstrous painting on the plaster, on either side of the grated door,
representing a select party of souls, frying.  One of them has a grey
moustache, and an elaborate head of grey hair: as if he had been taken
out of a hairdresser’s window and cast into the furnace.  There he is: a
most grotesque and hideously comic old soul: for ever blistering in the
real sun, and melting in the mimic fire, for the gratification and
improvement (and the contributions) of the poor Genoese.

They are not a very joyous people, and are seldom seen to dance on their
holidays: the staple places of entertainment among the women, being the
churches and the public walks.  They are very good-tempered, obliging,
and industrious.  Industry has not made them clean, for their habitations
are extremely filthy, and their usual occupation on a fine Sunday
morning, is to sit at their doors, hunting in each other’s heads.  But
their dwellings are so close and confined that if those parts of the city
had been beaten down by Massena in the time of the terrible Blockade, it
would have at least occasioned one public benefit among many misfortunes.

The Peasant Women, with naked feet and legs, are so constantly washing
clothes, in the public tanks, and in every stream and ditch, that one
cannot help wondering, in the midst of all this dirt, who wears them when
they are clean.  The custom is to lay the wet linen which is being
operated upon, on a smooth stone, and hammer away at it, with a flat
wooden mallet.  This they do, as furiously as if they were revenging
themselves on dress in general for being connected with the Fall of

It is not unusual to see, lying on the edge of the tank at these times,
or on another flat stone, an unfortunate baby, tightly swathed up, arms
and legs and all, in an enormous quantity of wrapper, so that it is
unable to move a toe or finger.  This custom (which we often see
represented in old pictures) is universal among the common people.  A
child is left anywhere without the possibility of crawling away, or is
accidentally knocked off a shelf, or tumbled out of bed, or is hung up to
a hook now and then, and left dangling like a doll at an English
rag-shop, without the least inconvenience to anybody.

I was sitting, one Sunday, soon after my arrival, in the little country
church of San Martino, a couple of miles from the city, while a baptism
took place.  I saw the priest, and an attendant with a large taper, and a
man, and a woman, and some others; but I had no more idea, until the
ceremony was all over, that it was a baptism, or that the curious little
stiff instrument, that was passed from one to another, in the course of
the ceremony, by the handle—like a short poker—was a child, than I had
that it was my own christening.  I borrowed the child afterwards, for a
minute or two (it was lying across the font then), and found it very red
in the face but perfectly quiet, and not to be bent on any terms.  The
number of cripples in the streets, soon ceased to surprise me.

There are plenty of Saints’ and Virgin’s Shrines, of course; generally at
the corners of streets.  The favourite memento to the Faithful, about
Genoa, is a painting, representing a peasant on his knees, with a spade
and some other agricultural implements beside him; and the Madonna, with
the Infant Saviour in her arms, appearing to him in a cloud.  This is the
legend of the Madonna della Guardia: a chapel on a mountain within a few
miles, which is in high repute.  It seems that this peasant lived all
alone by himself, tilling some land atop of the mountain, where, being a
devout man, he daily said his prayers to the Virgin in the open air; for
his hut was a very poor one.  Upon a certain day, the Virgin appeared to
him, as in the picture, and said, ‘Why do you pray in the open air, and
without a priest?’  The peasant explained because there was neither
priest nor church at hand—a very uncommon complaint indeed in Italy.  ‘I
should wish, then,’ said the Celestial Visitor, ‘to have a chapel built
here, in which the prayers of the Faithful may be offered up.’  ‘But,
Santissima Madonna,’ said the peasant, ‘I am a poor man; and chapels
cannot be built without money.  They must be supported, too, Santissima;
for to have a chapel and not support it liberally, is a wickedness—a
deadly sin.’  This sentiment gave great satisfaction to the visitor.
‘Go!’ said she.  ‘There is such a village in the valley on the left, and
such another village in the valley on the right, and such another village
elsewhere, that will gladly contribute to the building of a chapel.  Go
to them!  Relate what you have seen; and do not doubt that sufficient
money will be forthcoming to erect my chapel, or that it will,
afterwards, be handsomely maintained.’  All of which (miraculously)
turned out to be quite true.  And in proof of this prediction and
revelation, there is the chapel of the Madonna della Guardia, rich and
flourishing at this day.

The splendour and variety of the Genoese churches, can hardly be
exaggerated.  The church of the Annunciata especially: built, like many
of the others, at the cost of one noble family, and now in slow progress
of repair: from the outer door to the utmost height of the high cupola,
is so elaborately painted and set in gold, that it looks (as SIMOND
describes it, in his charming book on Italy) like a great enamelled
snuff-box.  Most of the richer churches contain some beautiful pictures,
or other embellishments of great price, almost universally set, side by
side, with sprawling effigies of maudlin monks, and the veriest trash and
tinsel ever seen.

It may be a consequence of the frequent direction of the popular mind,
and pocket, to the souls in Purgatory, but there is very little
tenderness for the _bodies_ of the dead here.  For the very poor, there
are, immediately outside one angle of the walls, and behind a jutting
point of the fortification, near the sea, certain common pits—one for
every day in the year—which all remain closed up, until the turn of each
comes for its daily reception of dead bodies.  Among the troops in the
town, there are usually some Swiss: more or less.  When any of these die,
they are buried out of a fund maintained by such of their countrymen as
are resident in Genoa.  Their providing coffins for these men is matter
of great astonishment to the authorities.

Certainly, the effect of this promiscuous and indecent splashing down of
dead people in so many wells, is bad.  It surrounds Death with revolting
associations, that insensibly become connected with those whom Death is
approaching.  Indifference and avoidance are the natural result; and all
the softening influences of the great sorrow are harshly disturbed.

There is a ceremony when an old Cavaliére or the like, expires, of
erecting a pile of benches in the cathedral, to represent his bier;
covering them over with a pall of black velvet; putting his hat and sword
on the top; making a little square of seats about the whole; and sending
out formal invitations to his friends and acquaintances to come and sit
there, and hear Mass: which is performed at the principal Altar,
decorated with an infinity of candles for that purpose.

When the better kind of people die, or are at the point of death, their
nearest relations generally walk off: retiring into the country for a
little change, and leaving the body to be disposed of, without any
superintendence from them.  The procession is usually formed, and the
coffin borne, and the funeral conducted, by a body of persons called a
Confratérnita, who, as a kind of voluntary penance, undertake to perform
these offices, in regular rotation, for the dead; but who, mingling
something of pride with their humility, are dressed in a loose garment
covering their whole person, and wear a hood concealing the face; with
breathing-holes and apertures for the eyes.  The effect of this costume
is very ghastly: especially in the case of a certain Blue Confratérnita
belonging to Genoa, who, to say the least of them, are very ugly
customers, and who look—suddenly encountered in their pious ministration
in the streets—as if they were Ghoules or Demons, bearing off the body
for themselves.

Although such a custom may be liable to the abuse attendant on many
Italian customs, of being recognised as a means of establishing a current
account with Heaven, on which to draw, too easily, for future bad
actions, or as an expiation for past misdeeds, it must be admitted to be
a good one, and a practical one, and one involving unquestionably good
works.  A voluntary service like this, is surely better than the imposed
penance (not at all an infrequent one) of giving so many licks to such
and such a stone in the pavement of the cathedral; or than a vow to the
Madonna to wear nothing but blue for a year or two.  This is supposed to
give great delight above; blue being (as is well known) the Madonna’s
favourite colour.  Women who have devoted themselves to this act of
Faith, are very commonly seen walking in the streets.

There are three theatres in the city, besides an old one now rarely
opened.  The most important—the Carlo Felice: the opera-house of Genoa—is
a very splendid, commodious, and beautiful theatre.  A company of
comedians were acting there, when we arrived: and soon after their
departure, a second-rate opera company came.  The great season is not
until the carnival time—in the spring.  Nothing impressed me, so much, in
my visits here (which were pretty numerous) as the uncommonly hard and
cruel character of the audience, who resent the slightest defect, take
nothing good-humouredly, seem to be always lying in wait for an
opportunity to hiss, and spare the actresses as little as the actors.

But, as there is nothing else of a public nature at which they are
allowed to express the least disapprobation, perhaps they are resolved to
make the most of this opportunity.

There are a great number of Piedmontese officers too, who are allowed the
privilege of kicking their heels in the pit, for next to nothing:
gratuitous, or cheap accommodation for these gentlemen being insisted on,
by the Governor, in all public or semi-public entertainments.  They are
lofty critics in consequence, and infinitely more exacting than if they
made the unhappy manager’s fortune.

The TEATRO DIURNO, or Day Theatre, is a covered stage in the open air,
where the performances take place by daylight, in the cool of the
afternoon; commencing at four or five o’clock, and lasting, some three
hours.  It is curious, sitting among the audience, to have a fine view of
the neighbouring hills and houses, and to see the neighbours at their
windows looking on, and to hear the bells of the churches and convents
ringing at most complete cross-purposes with the scene.  Beyond this, and
the novelty of seeing a play in the fresh pleasant air, with the
darkening evening closing in, there is nothing very exciting or
characteristic in the performances.  The actors are indifferent; and
though they sometimes represent one of Goldoni’s comedies, the staple of
the Drama is French.  Anything like nationality is dangerous to despotic
governments, and Jesuit-beleaguered kings.

The Theatre of Puppets, or Marionetti—a famous company from Milan—is,
without any exception, the drollest exhibition I ever beheld in my life.
I never saw anything so exquisitely ridiculous.  They _look_ between four
and five feet high, but are really much smaller; for when a musician in
the orchestra happens to put his hat on the stage, it becomes alarmingly
gigantic, and almost blots out an actor.  They usually play a comedy, and
a ballet.  The comic man in the comedy I saw one summer night, is a
waiter in an hotel.  There never was such a locomotive actor, since the
world began.  Great pains are taken with him.  He has extra joints in his
legs: and a practical eye, with which he winks at the pit, in a manner
that is absolutely insupportable to a stranger, but which the initiated
audience, mainly composed of the common people, receive (so they do
everything else) quite as a matter of course, and as if he were a man.
His spirits are prodigious.  He continually shakes his legs, and winks
his eye.  And there is a heavy father with grey hair, who sits down on
the regular conventional stage-bank, and blesses his daughter in the
regular conventional way, who is tremendous.  No one would suppose it
possible that anything short of a real man could be so tedious.  It is
the triumph of art.

In the ballet, an Enchanter runs away with the Bride, in the very hour of
her nuptials, He brings her to his cave, and tries to soothe her.  They
sit down on a sofa (the regular sofa! in the regular place, O. P. Second
Entrance!) and a procession of musicians enters; one creature playing a
drum, and knocking himself off his legs at every blow.  These failing to
delight her, dancers appear.  Four first; then two; _the_ two; the
flesh-coloured two.  The way in which they dance; the height to which
they spring; the impossible and inhuman extent to which they pirouette;
the revelation of their preposterous legs; the coming down with a pause,
on the very tips of their toes, when the music requires it; the
gentleman’s retiring up, when it is the lady’s turn; and the lady’s
retiring up, when it is the gentleman’s turn; the final passion of a
pas-de-deux; and the going off with a bound!—I shall never see a real
ballet, with a composed countenance again.

I went, another night, to see these Puppets act a play called ‘St.
Helena, or the Death of Napoleon.’  It began by the disclosure of
Napoleon, with an immense head, seated on a sofa in his chamber at St.
Helena; to whom his valet entered with this obscure announcement:

‘Sir Yew ud se on Low?’ (the _ow_, as in cow).

Sir Hudson (that you could have seen his regimentals!) was a perfect
mammoth of a man, to Napoleon; hideously ugly, with a monstrously
disproportionate face, and a great clump for the lower-jaw, to express
his tyrannical and obdurate nature.  He began his system of persecution,
by calling his prisoner ‘General Buonaparte;’ to which the latter
replied, with the deepest tragedy, ‘Sir Yew ud se on Low, call me not
thus.  Repeat that phrase and leave me!  I am Napoleon, Emperor of
France!’  Sir Yew ud se on, nothing daunted, proceeded to entertain him
with an ordinance of the British Government, regulating the state he
should preserve, and the furniture of his rooms: and limiting his
attendants to four or five persons.  ‘Four or five for _me_!’ said
Napoleon.  ‘Me!  One hundred thousand men were lately at my sole command;
and this English officer talks of four or five for _me_!’  Throughout the
piece, Napoleon (who talked very like the real Napoleon, and was, for
ever, having small soliloquies by himself) was very bitter on ‘these
English officers,’ and ‘these English soldiers;’ to the great
satisfaction of the audience, who were perfectly delighted to have Low
bullied; and who, whenever Low said ‘General Buonaparte’ (which he always
did: always receiving the same correction), quite execrated him.  It
would be hard to say why; for Italians have little cause to sympathise
with Napoleon, Heaven knows.

There was no plot at all, except that a French officer, disguised as an
Englishman, came to propound a plan of escape; and being discovered, but
not before Napoleon had magnanimously refused to steal his freedom, was
immediately ordered off by Low to be hanged.  In two very long speeches,
which Low made memorable, by winding up with ‘Yas!’—to show that he was
English—which brought down thunders of applause.  Napoleon was so
affected by this catastrophe, that he fainted away on the spot, and was
carried out by two other puppets.  Judging from what followed, it would
appear that he never recovered the shock; for the next act showed him, in
a clean shirt, in his bed (curtains crimson and white), where a lady,
prematurely dressed in mourning, brought two little children, who kneeled
down by the bedside, while he made a decent end; the last word on his
lips being ‘Vatterlo.’

It was unspeakably ludicrous.  Buonaparte’s boots were so wonderfully
beyond control, and did such marvellous things of their own accord:
doubling themselves up, and getting under tables, and dangling in the
air, and sometimes skating away with him, out of all human knowledge,
when he was in full speech—mischances which were not rendered the less
absurd, by a settled melancholy depicted in his face.  To put an end to
one conference with Low, he had to go to a table, and read a book: when
it was the finest spectacle I ever beheld, to see his body bending over
the volume, like a boot-jack, and his sentimental eyes glaring
obstinately into the pit.  He was prodigiously good, in bed, with an
immense collar to his shirt, and his little hands outside the coverlet.
So was Dr. Antommarchi, represented by a puppet with long lank hair, like
Mawworm’s, who, in consequence of some derangement of his wires, hovered
about the couch like a vulture, and gave medical opinions in the air.  He
was almost as good as Low, though the latter was great at all times—a
decided brute and villain, beyond all possibility of mistake.  Low was
especially fine at the last, when, hearing the doctor and the valet say,
‘The Emperor is dead!’ he pulled out his watch, and wound up the piece
(not the watch) by exclaiming, with characteristic brutality, ‘Ha! ha!
Eleven minutes to six!  The General dead! and the spy hanged!’  This
brought the curtain down, triumphantly.

                                * * * * *

There is not in Italy, they say (and I believe them), a lovelier
residence than the Palazzo Peschiere, or Palace of the Fishponds, whither
we removed as soon as our three months’ tenancy of the Pink Jail at
Albaro had ceased and determined.

It stands on a height within the walls of Genoa, but aloof from the town:
surrounded by beautiful gardens of its own, adorned with statues, vases,
fountains, marble basins, terraces, walks of orange-trees and
lemon-trees, groves of roses and camellias.  All its apartments are
beautiful in their proportions and decorations; but the great hall, some
fifty feet in height, with three large windows at the end, overlooking
the whole town of Genoa, the harbour, and the neighbouring sea, affords
one of the most fascinating and delightful prospects in the world.  Any
house more cheerful and habitable than the great rooms are, within, it
would be difficult to conceive; and certainly nothing more delicious than
the scene without, in sunshine or in moonlight, could be imagined.  It is
more like an enchanted place in an Eastern story than a grave and sober

How you may wander on, from room to room, and never tire of the wild
fancies on the walls and ceilings, as bright in their fresh colouring as
if they had been painted yesterday; or how one floor, or even the great
hall which opens on eight other rooms, is a spacious promenade; or how
there are corridors and bed-chambers above, which we never use and rarely
visit, and scarcely know the way through; or how there is a view of a
perfectly different character on each of the four sides of the building;
matters little.  But that prospect from the hall is like a vision to me.
I go back to it, in fancy, as I have done in calm reality a hundred times
a day; and stand there, looking out, with the sweet scents from the
garden rising up about me, in a perfect dream of happiness.

There lies all Genoa, in beautiful confusion, with its many churches,
monasteries, and convents, pointing up into the sunny sky; and down below
me, just where the roofs begin, a solitary convent parapet, fashioned
like a gallery, with an iron across at the end, where sometimes early in
the morning, I have seen a little group of dark-veiled nuns gliding
sorrowfully to and fro, and stopping now and then to peep down upon the
waking world in which they have no part.  Old Monte Faccio, brightest of
hills in good weather, but sulkiest when storms are coming on, is here,
upon the left.  The Fort within the walls (the good King built it to
command the town, and beat the houses of the Genoese about their ears, in
case they should be discontented) commands that height upon the right.
The broad sea lies beyond, in front there; and that line of coast,
beginning by the light-house, and tapering away, a mere speck in the rosy
distance, is the beautiful coast road that leads to Nice.  The garden
near at hand, among the roofs and houses: all red with roses and fresh
with little fountains: is the Acqua Sola—a public promenade, where the
military band plays gaily, and the white veils cluster thick, and the
Genoese nobility ride round, and round, and round, in state-clothes and
coaches at least, if not in absolute wisdom.  Within a stone’s-throw, as
it seems, the audience of the Day Theatre sit: their faces turned this
way.  But as the stage is hidden, it is very odd, without a knowledge of
the cause, to see their faces changed so suddenly from earnestness to
laughter; and odder still, to hear the rounds upon rounds of applause,
rattling in the evening air, to which the curtain falls.  But, being
Sunday night, they act their best and most attractive play.  And now, the
sun is going down, in such magnificent array of red, and green, and
golden light, as neither pen nor pencil could depict; and to the ringing
of the vesper bells, darkness sets in at once, without a twilight.  Then,
lights begin to shine in Genoa, and on the country road; and the
revolving lanthorn out at sea there, flashing, for an instant, on this
palace front and portico, illuminates it as if there were a bright moon
bursting from behind a cloud; then, merges it in deep obscurity.  And
this, so far as I know, is the only reason why the Genoese avoid it after
dark, and think it haunted.

My memory will haunt it, many nights, in time to come; but nothing worse,
I will engage.  The same Ghost will occasionally sail away, as I did one
pleasant autumn evening, into the bright prospect, and sniff the morning
air at Marseilles.

The corpulent hairdresser was still sitting in his slippers outside his
shop-door there, but the twirling ladies in the window, with the natural
inconstancy of their sex, had ceased to twirl, and were languishing,
stock still, with their beautiful faces addressed to blind corners of the
establishment, where it was impossible for admirers to penetrate.

The steamer had come from Genoa in a delicious run of eighteen hours, and
we were going to run back again by the Cornice road from Nice: not being
satisfied to have seen only the outsides of the beautiful towns that rise
in picturesque white clusters from among the olive woods, and rocks, and
hills, upon the margin of the Sea.

The Boat which started for Nice that night, at eight o’clock, was very
small, and so crowded with goods that there was scarcely room to move;
neither was there anything to cat on board, except bread; nor to drink,
except coffee.  But being due at Nice at about eight or so in the
morning, this was of no consequence; so when we began to wink at the
bright stars, in involuntary acknowledgment of their winking at us, we
turned into our berths, in a crowded, but cool little cabin, and slept
soundly till morning.

The Boat, being as dull and dogged a little boat as ever was built, it
was within an hour of noon when we turned into Nice Harbour, where we
very little expected anything but breakfast.  But we were laden with
wool.  Wool must not remain in the Custom-house at Marseilles more than
twelve months at a stretch, without paying duty.  It is the custom to
make fictitious removals of unsold wool to evade this law; to take it
somewhere when the twelve months are nearly out; bring it straight back
again; and warehouse it, as a new cargo, for nearly twelve months longer.
This wool of ours, had come originally from some place in the East.  It
was recognised as Eastern produce, the moment we entered the harbour.
Accordingly, the gay little Sunday boats, full of holiday people, which
had come off to greet us, were warned away by the authorities; we were
declared in quarantine; and a great flag was solemnly run up to the
mast-head on the wharf, to make it known to all the town.

It was a very hot day indeed.  We were unshaved, unwashed, undressed,
unfed, and could hardly enjoy the absurdity of lying blistering in a lazy
harbour, with the town looking on from a respectful distance, all manner
of whiskered men in cocked hats discussing our fate at a remote
guard-house, with gestures (we looked very hard at them through
telescopes) expressive of a week’s detention at least: and nothing
whatever the matter all the time.  But even in this crisis the brave
Courier achieved a triumph.  He telegraphed somebody (_I_ saw nobody)
either naturally connected with the hotel, or put _en rapport_ with the
establishment for that occasion only.  The telegraph was answered, and in
half an hour or less, there came a loud shout from the guard-house.  The
captain was wanted.  Everybody helped the captain into his boat.
Everybody got his luggage, and said we were going.  The captain rowed
away, and disappeared behind a little jutting corner of the
Galley-slaves’ Prison: and presently came back with something, very
sulkily.  The brave Courier met him at the side, and received the
something as its rightful owner.  It was a wicker basket, folded in a
linen cloth; and in it were two great bottles of wine, a roast fowl, some
salt fish chopped with garlic, a great loaf of bread, a dozen or so of
peaches, and a few other trifles.  When we had selected our own
breakfast, the brave Courier invited a chosen party to partake of these
refreshments, and assured them that they need not be deterred by motives
of delicacy, as he would order a second basket to be furnished at their
expense.  Which he did—no one knew how—and by-and-by, the captain being
again summoned, again sulkily returned with another something; over which
my popular attendant presided as before: carving with a clasp-knife, his
own personal property, something smaller than a Roman sword.

The whole party on board were made merry by these unexpected supplies;
but none more so than a loquacious little Frenchman, who got drunk in
five minutes, and a sturdy Cappuccíno Friar, who had taken everybody’s
fancy mightily, and was one of the best friars in the world, I verily

He had a free, open countenance; and a rich brown, flowing beard; and was
a remarkably handsome man, of about fifty.  He had come up to us, early
in the morning, and inquired whether we were sure to be at Nice by
eleven; saying that he particularly wanted to know, because if we reached
it by that time he would have to perform Mass, and must deal with the
consecrated wafer, fasting; whereas, if there were no chance of his being
in time, he would immediately breakfast.  He made this communication,
under the idea that the brave Courier was the captain; and indeed he
looked much more like it than anybody else on board.  Being assured that
we should arrive in good time, he fasted, and talked, fasting, to
everybody, with the most charming good humour; answering jokes at the
expense of friars, with other jokes at the expense of laymen, and saying
that, friar as he was, he would engage to take up the two strongest men
on board, one after the other, with his teeth, and carry them along the
deck.  Nobody gave him the opportunity, but I dare say he could have done
it; for he was a gallant, noble figure of a man, even in the Cappuccíno
dress, which is the ugliest and most ungainly that can well be.

All this had given great delight to the loquacious Frenchman, who
gradually patronised the Friar very much, and seemed to commiserate him
as one who might have been born a Frenchman himself, but for an
unfortunate destiny.  Although his patronage was such as a mouse might
bestow upon a lion, he had a vast opinion of its condescension; and in
the warmth of that sentiment, occasionally rose on tiptoe, to slap the
Friar on the back.

When the baskets arrived: it being then too late for Mass: the Friar went
to work bravely: eating prodigiously of the cold meat and bread, drinking
deep draughts of the wine, smoking cigars, taking snuff, sustaining an
uninterrupted conversation with all hands, and occasionally running to
the boat’s side and hailing somebody on shore with the intelligence that
we _must_ be got out of this quarantine somehow or other, as he had to
take part in a great religious procession in the afternoon.  After this,
he would come back, laughing lustily from pure good humour: while the
Frenchman wrinkled his small face into ten thousand creases, and said how
droll it was, and what a brave boy was that Friar!  At length the heat of
the sun without, and the wine within, made the Frenchman sleepy.  So, in
the noontide of his patronage of his gigantic protégé, he lay down among
the wool, and began to snore.

It was four o’clock before we were released; and the Frenchman, dirty and
woolly, and snuffy, was still sleeping when the Friar went ashore.  As
soon as we were free, we all hurried away, to wash and dress, that we
might make a decent appearance at the procession; and I saw no more of
the Frenchman until we took up our station in the main street to see it
pass, when he squeezed himself into a front place, elaborately renovated;
threw back his little coat, to show a broad-barred velvet waistcoat,
sprinkled all over with stars; then adjusted himself and his cane so as
utterly to bewilder and transfix the Friar, when he should appear.

The procession was a very long one, and included an immense number of
people divided into small parties; each party chanting nasally, on its
own account, without reference to any other, and producing a most dismal
result.  There were angels, crosses, Virgins carried on flat boards
surrounded by Cupids, crowns, saints, missals, infantry, tapers, monks,
nuns, relics, dignitaries of the church in green hats, walking under
crimson parasols: and, here and there, a species of sacred street-lamp
hoisted on a pole.  We looked out anxiously for the Cappuccíni, and
presently their brown robes and corded girdles were seen coming on, in a

I observed the little Frenchman chuckle over the idea that when the Friar
saw him in the broad-barred waistcoat, he would mentally exclaim, ‘Is
that my Patron!  _That_ distinguished man!’ and would be covered with
confusion.  Ah! never was the Frenchman so deceived.  As our friend the
Cappuccíno advanced, with folded arms, he looked straight into the visage
of the little Frenchman, with a bland, serene, composed abstraction, not
to be described.  There was not the faintest trace of recognition or
amusement on his features; not the smallest consciousness of bread and
meat, wine, snuff, or cigars.  ‘C’est lui-même,’ I heard the little
Frenchman say, in some doubt.  Oh yes, it was himself.  It was not his
brother or his nephew, very like him.  It was he.  He walked in great
state: being one of the Superiors of the Order: and looked his part to
admiration.  There never was anything so perfect of its kind as the
contemplative way in which he allowed his placid gaze to rest on us, his
late companions, as if he had never seen us in his life and didn’t see us
then.  The Frenchman, quite humbled, took off his hat at last, but the
Friar still passed on, with the same imperturbable serenity; and the
broad-barred waistcoat, fading into the crowd, was seen no more.

The procession wound up with a discharge of musketry that shook all the
windows in the town.  Next afternoon we started for Genoa, by the famed
Cornice road.

The half-French, half-Italian Vetturíno, who undertook, with his little
rattling carriage and pair, to convey us thither in three days, was a
careless, good-looking fellow, whose light-heartedness and singing
propensities knew no bounds as long as we went on smoothly.  So long, he
had a word and a smile, and a flick of his whip, for all the peasant
girls, and odds and ends of the Sonnambula for all the echoes.  So long,
he went jingling through every little village, with bells on his horses
and rings in his ears: a very meteor of gallantry and cheerfulness.  But,
it was highly characteristic to see him under a slight reverse of
circumstances, when, in one part of the journey, we came to a narrow
place where a waggon had broken down and stopped up the road.  His hands
were twined in his hair immediately, as if a combination of all the
direst accidents in life had suddenly fallen on his devoted head.  He
swore in French, prayed in Italian, and went up and down, beating his
feet on the ground in a very ecstasy of despair.  There were various
carters and mule-drivers assembled round the broken waggon, and at last
some man of an original turn of mind, proposed that a general and joint
effort should be made to get things to-rights again, and clear the way—an
idea which I verily believe would never have presented itself to our
friend, though we had remained there until now.  It was done at no great
cost of labour; but at every pause in the doing, his hands were wound in
his hair again, as if there were no ray of hope to lighten his misery.
The moment he was on his box once more, and clattering briskly down hill,
he returned to the Sonnambula and the peasant girls, as if it were not in
the power of misfortune to depress him.

Much of the romance of the beautiful towns and villages on this beautiful
road, disappears when they are entered, for many of them are very
miserable.  The streets are narrow, dark, and dirty; the inhabitants lean
and squalid; and the withered old women, with their wiry grey hair
twisted up into a knot on the top of the head, like a pad to carry loads
on, are so intensely ugly, both along the Riviera, and in Genoa, too,
that, seen straggling about in dim doorways with their spindles, or
crooning together in by-corners, they are like a population of
Witches—except that they certainly are not to be suspected of brooms or
any other instrument of cleanliness.  Neither are the pig-skins, in
common use to hold wine, and hung out in the sun in all directions, by
any means ornamental, as they always preserve the form of very bloated
pigs, with their heads and legs cut off, dangling upside-down by their
own tails.

These towns, as they are seen in the approach, however: nestling, with
their clustering roofs and towers, among trees on steep hill-sides, or
built upon the brink of noble bays: are charming.  The vegetation is,
everywhere, luxuriant and beautiful, and the Palm-tree makes a novel
feature in the novel scenery.  In one town, San Remo—a most extraordinary
place, built on gloomy open arches, so that one might ramble underneath
the whole town—there are pretty terrace gardens; in other towns, there is
the clang of shipwrights’ hammers, and the building of small vessels on
the beach.  In some of the broad bays, the fleets of Europe might ride at
anchor.  In every case, each little group of houses presents, in the
distance, some enchanting confusion of picturesque and fanciful shapes.

The road itself—now high above the glittering sea, which breaks against
the foot of the precipice: now turning inland to sweep the shore of a
bay: now crossing the stony bed of a mountain stream: now low down on the
beach: now winding among riven rocks of many forms and colours: now
chequered by a solitary ruined tower, one of a chain of towers built, in
old time, to protect the coast from the invasions of the Barbary
Corsairs—presents new beauties every moment.  When its own striking
scenery is passed, and it trails on through a long line of suburb, lying
on the flat sea-shore, to Genoa, then, the changing glimpses of that
noble city and its harbour, awaken a new source of interest; freshened by
every huge, unwieldy, half-inhabited old house in its outskirts: and
coming to its climax when the city gate is reached, and all Genoa with
its beautiful harbour, and neighbouring hills, bursts proudly on the


I STROLLED away from Genoa on the 6th of November, bound for a good many
places (England among them), but first for Piacenza; for which town I
started in the _coupé_ of a machine something like a travelling caravan,
in company with the brave Courier, and a lady with a large dog, who
howled dolefully, at intervals, all night.  It was very wet, and very
cold; very dark, and very dismal; we travelled at the rate of barely four
miles an hour, and stopped nowhere for refreshment.  At ten o’clock next
morning, we changed coaches at Alessandria, where we were packed up in
another coach (the body whereof would have been small for a fly), in
company with a very old priest; a young Jesuit, his companion—who carried
their breviaries and other books, and who, in the exertion of getting
into the coach, had made a gash of pink leg between his black stocking
and his black knee-shorts, that reminded one of Hamlet in Ophelia’s
closet, only it was visible on both legs—a provincial Avvocáto; and a
gentleman with a red nose that had an uncommon and singular sheen upon
it, which I never observed in the human subject before.  In this way we
travelled on, until four o’clock in the afternoon; the roads being still
very heavy, and the coach very slow.  To mend the matter, the old priest
was troubled with cramps in his legs, so that he had to give a terrible
yell every ten minutes or so, and be hoisted out by the united efforts of
the company; the coach always stopping for him, with great gravity.  This
disorder, and the roads, formed the main subject of conversation.
Finding, in the afternoon, that the _coupé_ had discharged two people,
and had only one passenger inside—a monstrous ugly Tuscan, with a great
purple moustache, of which no man could see the ends when he had his hat
on—I took advantage of its better accommodation, and in company with this
gentleman (who was very conversational and good-humoured) travelled on,
until nearly eleven o’clock at night, when the driver reported that he
couldn’t think of going any farther, and we accordingly made a halt at a
place called Stradella.

The inn was a series of strange galleries surrounding a yard where our
coach, and a waggon or two, and a lot of fowls, and firewood, were all
heaped up together, higgledy-piggledy; so that you didn’t know, and
couldn’t have taken your oath, which was a fowl and which was a cart.  We
followed a sleepy man with a flaring torch, into a great, cold room,
where there were two immensely broad beds, on what looked like two
immensely broad deal dining-tables; another deal table of similar
dimensions in the middle of the bare floor; four windows; and two chairs.
Somebody said it was my room; and I walked up and down it, for half an
hour or so, staring at the Tuscan, the old priest, the young priest, and
the Avvocáto (Red-Nose lived in the town, and had gone home), who sat
upon their beds, and stared at me in return.

The rather dreary whimsicality of this stage of the proceedings, is
interrupted by an announcement from the Brave (he had been cooking) that
supper is ready; and to the priest’s chamber (the next room and the
counterpart of mine) we all adjourn.  The first dish is a cabbage, boiled
with a great quantity of rice in a tureen full of water, and flavoured
with cheese.  It is so hot, and we are so cold, that it appears almost
jolly.  The second dish is some little bits of pork, fried with pigs’
kidneys.  The third, two red fowls.  The fourth, two little red turkeys.
The fifth, a huge stew of garlic and truffles, and I don’t know what
else; and this concludes the entertainment.

Before I can sit down in my own chamber, and think it of the dampest, the
door opens, and the Brave comes moving in, in the middle of such a
quantity of fuel that he looks like Birnam Wood taking a winter walk.  He
kindles this heap in a twinkling, and produces a jorum of hot brandy and
water; for that bottle of his keeps company with the seasons, and now
holds nothing but the purest _eau de vie_.  When he has accomplished this
feat, he retires for the night; and I hear him, for an hour afterwards,
and indeed until I fall asleep, making jokes in some outhouse (apparently
under the pillow), where he is smoking cigars with a party of
confidential friends.  He never was in the house in his life before; but
he knows everybody everywhere, before he has been anywhere five minutes;
and is certain to have attracted to himself, in the meantime, the
enthusiastic devotion of the whole establishment.

This is at twelve o’clock at night.  At four o’clock next morning, he is
up again, fresher than a full-blown rose; making blazing fires without
the least authority from the landlord; producing mugs of scalding coffee
when nobody else can get anything but cold water; and going out into the
dark streets, and roaring for fresh milk, on the chance of somebody with
a cow getting up to supply it.  While the horses are ‘coming,’ I stumble
out into the town too.  It seems to be all one little Piazza, with a cold
damp wind blowing in and out of the arches, alternately, in a sort of
pattern.  But it is profoundly dark, and raining heavily; and I shouldn’t
know it to-morrow, if I were taken there to try.  Which Heaven forbid.

The horses arrive in about an hour.  In the interval, the driver swears;
sometimes Christian oaths, sometimes Pagan oaths.  Sometimes, when it is
a long, compound oath, he begins with Christianity and merges into
Paganism.  Various messengers are despatched; not so much after the
horses, as after each other; for the first messenger never comes back,
and all the rest imitate him.  At length the horses appear, surrounded by
all the messengers; some kicking them, and some dragging them, and all
shouting abuse to them.  Then, the old priest, the young priest, the
Avvocáto, the Tuscan, and all of us, take our places; and sleepy voices
proceeding from the doors of extraordinary hutches in divers parts of the
yard, cry out ‘Addio corrière mio!  Buon’ viággio, corrière!’
Salutations which the courier, with his face one monstrous grin, returns
in like manner as we go jolting and wallowing away, through the mud.

At Piacenza, which was four or five hours’ journey from the inn at
Stradella, we broke up our little company before the hotel door, with
divers manifestations of friendly feeling on all sides.  The old priest
was taken with the cramp again, before he had got half-way down the
street; and the young priest laid the bundle of books on a door-step,
while he dutifully rubbed the old gentleman’s legs.  The client of the
Avvocáto was waiting for him at the yard-gate, and kissed him on each
cheek, with such a resounding smack, that I am afraid he had either a
very bad case, or a scantily-furnished purse.  The Tuscan, with a cigar
in his mouth, went loitering off, carrying his hat in his hand that he
might the better trail up the ends of his dishevelled moustache.  And the
brave Courier, as he and I strolled away to look about us, began
immediately to entertain me with the private histories and family affairs
of the whole party.

A brown, decayed, old town, Piacenza is.  A deserted, solitary,
grass-grown place, with ruined ramparts; half filled-up trenches, which
afford a frowsy pasturage to the lean kine that wander about them; and
streets of stern houses, moodily frowning at the other houses over the
way.  The sleepiest and shabbiest of soldiery go wandering about, with
the double curse of laziness and poverty, uncouthly wrinkling their
misfitting regimentals; the dirtiest of children play with their
impromptu toys (pigs and mud) in the feeblest of gutters; and the
gauntest of dogs trot in and out of the dullest of archways, in perpetual
search of something to eat, which they never seem to find.  A mysterious
and solemn Palace, guarded by two colossal statues, twin Genii of the
place, stands gravely in the midst of the idle town; and the king with
the marble legs, who flourished in the time of the thousand and one
Nights, might live contentedly inside of it, and never have the energy,
in his upper half of flesh and blood, to want to come out.

What a strange, half-sorrowful and half-delicious doze it is, to ramble
through these places gone to sleep and basking in the sun!  Each, in its
turn, appears to be, of all the mouldy, dreary, God-forgotten towns in
the wide world, the chief.  Sitting on this hillock where a bastion used
to be, and where a noisy fortress was, in the time of the old Roman
station here, I became aware that I have never known till now, what it is
to be lazy.  A dormouse must surely be in very much the same condition
before he retires under the wool in his cage; or a tortoise before he
buries himself.

I feel that I am getting rusty.  That any attempt to think, would be
accompanied with a creaking noise.  That there is nothing, anywhere, to
be done, or needing to be done.  That there is no more human progress,
motion, effort, or advancement, of any kind beyond this.  That the whole
scheme stopped here centuries ago, and laid down to rest until the Day of

Never while the brave Courier lives!  Behold him jingling out of
Piacenza, and staggering this way, in the tallest posting-chaise ever
seen, so that he looks out of the front window as if he were peeping over
a garden wall; while the postilion, concentrated essence of all the
shabbiness of Italy, pauses for a moment in his animated conversation, to
touch his hat to a blunt-nosed little Virgin, hardly less shabby than
himself, enshrined in a plaster Punch’s show outside the town.

In Genoa, and thereabouts, they train the vines on trellis-work,
supported on square clumsy pillars, which, in themselves, are anything
but picturesque.  But, here, they twine them around trees, and let them
trail among the hedges; and the vineyards are full of trees, regularly
planted for this purpose, each with its own vine twining and clustering
about it.  Their leaves are now of the brightest gold and deepest red;
and never was anything so enchantingly graceful and full of beauty.
Through miles of these delightful forms and colours, the road winds its
way.  The wild festoons, the elegant wreaths, and crowns, and garlands of
all shapes; the fairy nets flung over great trees, and making them
prisoners in sport; the tumbled heaps and mounds of exquisite shapes upon
the ground; how rich and beautiful they are!  And every now and then, a
long, long line of trees, will be all bound and garlanded together: as if
they had taken hold of one another, and were coming dancing down the

Parma has cheerful, stirring streets, for an Italian town; and
consequently is not so characteristic as many places of less note.
Always excepting the retired Piazza, where the Cathedral, Baptistery, and
Campanile—ancient buildings, of a sombre brown, embellished with
innumerable grotesque monsters and dreamy-looking creatures carved in
marble and red stone—are clustered in a noble and magnificent repose.
Their silent presence was only invaded, when I saw them, by the
twittering of the many birds that were flying in and out of the crevices
in the stones and little nooks in the architecture, where they had made
their nests.  They were busy, rising from the cold shade of Temples made
with hands, into the sunny air of Heaven.  Not so the worshippers within,
who were listening to the same drowsy chaunt, or kneeling before the same
kinds of images and tapers, or whispering, with their heads bowed down,
in the selfsame dark confessionals, as I had left in Genoa and everywhere

The decayed and mutilated paintings with which this church is covered,
have, to my thinking, a remarkably mournful and depressing influence.  It
is miserable to see great works of art—something of the Souls of
Painters—perishing and fading away, like human forms.  This cathedral is
odorous with the rotting of Correggio’s frescoes in the Cupola.  Heaven
knows how beautiful they may have been at one time.  Connoisseurs fall
into raptures with them now; but such a labyrinth of arms and legs: such
heaps of foreshortened limbs, entangled and involved and jumbled
together: no operative surgeon, gone mad, could imagine in his wildest

There is a very interesting subterranean church here: the roof supported
by marble pillars, behind each of which there seemed to be at least one
beggar in ambush: to say nothing of the tombs and secluded altars.  From
every one of these lurking-places, such crowds of phantom-looking men and
women, leading other men and women with twisted limbs, or chattering
jaws, or paralytic gestures, or idiotic heads, or some other sad
infirmity, came hobbling out to beg, that if the ruined frescoes in the
cathedral above, had been suddenly animated, and had retired to this
lower church, they could hardly have made a greater confusion, or
exhibited a more confounding display of arms and legs.

There is Petrarch’s Monument, too; and there is the Baptistery, with its
beautiful arches and immense font; and there is a gallery containing some
very remarkable pictures, whereof a few were being copied by hairy-faced
artists, with little velvet caps more off their heads than on.  There is
the Farnese Palace, too; and in it one of the dreariest spectacles of
decay that ever was seen—a grand, old, gloomy theatre, mouldering away.

It is a large wooden structure, of the horse-shoe shape; the lower seats
arranged upon the Roman plan, but above them, great heavy chambers;
rather than boxes, where the Nobles sat, remote in their proud state.
Such desolation as has fallen on this theatre, enhanced in the
spectator’s fancy by its gay intention and design, none but worms can be
familiar with.  A hundred and ten years have passed, since any play was
acted here.  The sky shines in through the gashes in the roof; the boxes
are dropping down, wasting away, and only tenanted by rats; damp and
mildew smear the faded colours, and make spectral maps upon the panels;
lean rags are dangling down where there were gay festoons on the
Proscenium; the stage has rotted so, that a narrow wooden gallery is
thrown across it, or it would sink beneath the tread, and bury the
visitor in the gloomy depth beneath.  The desolation and decay impress
themselves on all the senses.  The air has a mouldering smell, and an
earthy taste; any stray outer sounds that straggle in with some lost
sunbeam, are muffled and heavy; and the worm, the maggot, and the rot
have changed the surface of the wood beneath the touch, as time will seam
and roughen a smooth hand.  If ever Ghosts act plays, they act them on
this ghostly stage.

It was most delicious weather, when we came into Modena, where the
darkness of the sombre colonnades over the footways skirting the main
street on either side, was made refreshing and agreeable by the bright
sky, so wonderfully blue.  I passed from all the glory of the day, into a
dim cathedral, where High Mass was performing, feeble tapers were
burning, people were kneeling in all directions before all manner of
shrines, and officiating priests were crooning the usual chant, in the
usual, low, dull, drawling, melancholy tone.

Thinking how strange it was, to find, in every stagnant town, this same
Heart beating with the same monotonous pulsation, the centre of the same
torpid, listless system, I came out by another door, and was suddenly
scared to death by a blast from the shrillest trumpet that ever was
blown.  Immediately, came tearing round the corner, an equestrian company
from Paris: marshalling themselves under the walls of the church, and
flouting, with their horses’ heels, the griffins, lions, tigers, and
other monsters in stone and marble, decorating its exterior.  First,
there came a stately nobleman with a great deal of hair, and no hat,
bearing an enormous banner, on which was inscribed, MAZEPPA! TO-NIGHT!
Then, a Mexican chief, with a great pear-shaped club on his shoulder,
like Hercules.  Then, six or eight Roman chariots: each with a beautiful
lady in extremely short petticoats, and unnaturally pink tights, erect
within: shedding beaming looks upon the crowd, in which there was a
latent expression of discomposure and anxiety, for which I couldn’t
account, until, as the open back of each chariot presented itself, I saw
the immense difficulty with which the pink legs maintained their
perpendicular, over the uneven pavement of the town: which gave me quite
a new idea of the ancient Romans and Britons.  The procession was brought
to a close, by some dozen indomitable warriors of different nations,
riding two and two, and haughtily surveying the tame population of
Modena: among whom, however, they occasionally condescended to scatter
largesse in the form of a few handbills.  After caracolling among the
lions and tigers, and proclaiming that evening’s entertainments with
blast of trumpet, it then filed off, by the other end of the square, and
left a new and greatly increased dulness behind.

When the procession had so entirely passed away, that the shrill trumpet
was mild in the distance, and the tail of the last horse was hopelessly
round the corner, the people who had come out of the church to stare at
it, went back again.  But one old lady, kneeling on the pavement within,
near the door, had seen it all, and had been immensely interested,
without getting up; and this old lady’s eye, at that juncture, I happened
to catch: to our mutual confusion.  She cut our embarrassment very short,
however, by crossing herself devoutly, and going down, at full length, on
her face, before a figure in a fancy petticoat and a gilt crown; which
was so like one of the procession-figures, that perhaps at this hour she
may think the whole appearance a celestial vision.  Anyhow, I must
certainly have forgiven her her interest in the Circus, though I had been
her Father Confessor.

There was a little fiery-eyed old man with a crooked shoulder, in the
cathedral, who took it very ill that I made no effort to see the bucket
(kept in an old tower) which the people of Modena took away from the
people of Bologna in the fourteenth century, and about which there was
war made and a mock-heroic poem by TASSONE, too.  Being quite content,
however, to look at the outside of the tower, and feast, in imagination,
on the bucket within; and preferring to loiter in the shade of the tall
Campanile, and about the cathedral; I have no personal knowledge of this
bucket, even at the present time.

Indeed, we were at Bologna, before the little old man (or the Guide-Book)
would have considered that we had half done justice to the wonders of
Modena.  But it is such a delight to me to leave new scenes behind, and
still go on, encountering newer scenes—and, moreover, I have such a
perverse disposition in respect of sights that are cut, and dried, and
dictated—that I fear I sin against similar authorities in every place I

Be this as it may, in the pleasant Cemetery at Bologna, I found myself
walking next Sunday morning, among the stately marble tombs and
colonnades, in company with a crowd of Peasants, and escorted by a little
Cicerone of that town, who was excessively anxious for the honour of the
place, and most solicitous to divert my attention from the bad monuments:
whereas he was never tired of extolling the good ones.  Seeing this
little man (a good-humoured little man he was, who seemed to have nothing
in his face but shining teeth and eyes) looking wistfully at a certain
plot of grass, I asked him who was buried there.  ‘The poor people,
Signore,’ he said, with a shrug and a smile, and stopping to look back at
me—for he always went on a little before, and took off his hat to
introduce every new monument.  ‘Only the poor, Signore!  It’s very
cheerful.  It’s very lively.  How green it is, how cool!  It’s like a
meadow!  There are five,’—holding up all the fingers of his right hand to
express the number, which an Italian peasant will always do, if it be
within the compass of his ten fingers,—‘there are five of my little
children buried there, Signore; just there; a little to the right.  Well!
Thanks to God!  It’s very cheerful.  How green it is, how cool it is!
It’s quite a meadow!’

He looked me very hard in the face, and seeing I was sorry for him, took
a pinch of snuff (every Cicerone takes snuff), and made a little bow;
partly in deprecation of his having alluded to such a subject, and partly
in memory of the children and of his favourite saint.  It was as
unaffected and as perfectly natural a little bow, as ever man made.
Immediately afterwards, he took his hat off altogether, and begged to
introduce me to the next monument; and his eyes and his teeth shone
brighter than before.


THERE was such a very smart official in attendance at the Cemetery where
the little Cicerone had buried his children, that when the little
Cicerone suggested to me, in a whisper, that there would be no offence in
presenting this officer, in return for some slight extra service, with a
couple of pauls (about tenpence, English money), I looked incredulously
at his cocked hat, wash-leather gloves, well-made uniform, and dazzling
buttons, and rebuked the little Cicerone with a grave shake of the head.
For, in splendour of appearance, he was at least equal to the Deputy
Usher of the Black Rod; and the idea of his carrying, as Jeremy Diddler
would say, ‘such a thing as tenpence’ away with him, seemed monstrous.
He took it in excellent part, however, when I made bold to give it him,
and pulled off his cocked hat with a flourish that would have been a
bargain at double the money.

It seemed to be his duty to describe the monuments to the people—at all
events he was doing so; and when I compared him, like Gulliver in
Brobdingnag, ‘with the Institutions of my own beloved country, I could
not refrain from tears of pride and exultation.’  He had no pace at all;
no more than a tortoise.  He loitered as the people loitered, that they
might gratify their curiosity; and positively allowed them, now and then,
to read the inscriptions on the tombs.  He was neither shabby, nor
insolent, nor churlish, nor ignorant.  He spoke his own language with
perfect propriety, and seemed to consider himself, in his way, a kind of
teacher of the people, and to entertain a just respect both for himself
and them.  They would no more have such a man for a Verger in Westminster
Abbey, than they would let the people in (as they do at Bologna) to see
the monuments for nothing. {272}

Again, an ancient sombre town, under the brilliant sky; with heavy
arcades over the footways of the older streets, and lighter and more
cheerful archways in the newer portions of the town.  Again, brown piles
of sacred buildings, with more birds flying in and out of chinks in the
stones; and more snarling monsters for the bases of the pillars.  Again,
rich churches, drowsy Masses, curling incense, tinkling bells, priests in
bright vestments: pictures, tapers, laced altar cloths, crosses, images,
and artificial flowers.

There is a grave and learned air about the city, and a pleasant gloom
upon it, that would leave it, a distinct and separate impression in the
mind, among a crowd of cities, though it were not still further marked in
the traveller’s remembrance by the two brick leaning towers (sufficiently
unsightly in themselves, it must be acknowledged), inclining cross-wise
as if they were bowing stiffly to each other—a most extraordinary
termination to the perspective of some of the narrow streets.  The
colleges, and churches too, and palaces: and above all the academy of
Fine Arts, where there are a host of interesting pictures, especially by
GUIDO, DOMENICHINO, and LUDOVICO CARACCI: give it a place of its own in
the memory.  Even though these were not, and there were nothing else to
remember it by, the great Meridian on the pavement of the church of San
Petronio, where the sunbeams mark the time among the kneeling people,
would give it a fanciful and pleasant interest.

Bologna being very full of tourists, detained there by an inundation
which rendered the road to Florence impassable, I was quartered up at the
top of an hotel, in an out-of-the-way room which I never could find:
containing a bed, big enough for a boarding-school, which I couldn’t fall
asleep in.  The chief among the waiters who visited this lonely retreat,
where there was no other company but the swallows in the broad eaves over
the window, was a man of one idea in connection with the English; and the
subject of this harmless monomania, was Lord Byron.  I made the discovery
by accidentally remarking to him, at breakfast, that the matting with
which the floor was covered, was very comfortable at that season, when he
immediately replied that Milor Beeron had been much attached to that kind
of matting.  Observing, at the same moment, that I took no milk, he
exclaimed with enthusiasm, that Milor Beeron had never touched it.  At
first, I took it for granted, in my innocence, that he had been one of
the Beeron servants; but no, he said, no, he was in the habit of speaking
about my Lord, to English gentlemen; that was all.  He knew all about
him, he said.  In proof of it, he connected him with every possible
topic, from the Monte Pulciano wine at dinner (which was grown on an
estate he had owned), to the big bed itself, which was the very model of
his.  When I left the inn, he coupled with his final bow in the yard, a
parting assurance that the road by which I was going, had been Milor
Beeron’s favourite ride; and before the horse’s feet had well begun to
clatter on the pavement, he ran briskly up-stairs again, I dare say to
tell some other Englishman in some other solitary room that the guest who
had just departed was Lord Beeron’s living image.

I had entered Bologna by night—almost midnight—and all along the road
thither, after our entrance into the Papal territory: which is not, in
any part, supremely well governed, Saint Peter’s keys being rather rusty
now; the driver had so worried about the danger of robbers in travelling
after dark, and had so infected the brave Courier, and the two had been
so constantly stopping and getting up and down to look after a
portmanteau which was tied on behind, that I should have felt almost
obliged to any one who would have had the goodness to take it away.
Hence it was stipulated, that, whenever we left Bologna, we should start
so as not to arrive at Ferrara later than eight at night; and a
delightful afternoon and evening journey it was, albeit through a flat
district which gradually became more marshy from the overflow of brooks
and rivers in the recent heavy rains.

At sunset, when I was walking on alone, while the horses rested, I
arrived upon a little scene, which, by one of those singular mental
operations of which we are all conscious, seemed perfectly familiar to
me, and which I see distinctly now.  There was not much in it.  In the
blood red light, there was a mournful sheet of water, just stirred by the
evening wind; upon its margin a few trees.  In the foreground was a group
of silent peasant girls leaning over the parapet of a little bridge, and
looking, now up at the sky, now down into the water; in the distance, a
deep bell; the shade of approaching night on everything.  If I had been
murdered there, in some former life, I could not have seemed to remember
the place more thoroughly, or with a more emphatic chilling of the blood;
and the mere remembrance of it acquired in that minute, is so
strengthened by the imaginary recollection, that I hardly think I could
forget it.

More solitary, more depopulated, more deserted, old Ferrara, than any
city of the solemn brotherhood!  The grass so grows up in the silent
streets, that any one might make hay there, literally, while the sun
shines.  But the sun shines with diminished cheerfulness in grim Ferrara;
and the people are so few who pass and re-pass through the places, that
the flesh of its inhabitants might be grass indeed, and growing in the

I wonder why the head coppersmith in an Italian town, always lives next
door to the Hotel, or opposite: making the visitor feel as if the beating
hammers were his own heart, palpitating with a deadly energy!  I wonder
why jealous corridors surround the bedroom on all sides, and fill it with
unnecessary doors that can’t be shut, and will not open, and abut on
pitchy darkness!  I wonder why it is not enough that these distrustful
genii stand agape at one’s dreams all night, but there must also be round
open portholes, high in the wall, suggestive, when a mouse or rat is
heard behind the wainscot, of a somebody scraping the wall with his toes,
in his endeavours to reach one of these portholes and look in!  I wonder
why the faggots are so constructed, as to know of no effect but an agony
of heat when they are lighted and replenished, and an agony of cold and
suffocation at all other times!  I wonder, above all, why it is the great
feature of domestic architecture in Italian inns, that all the fire goes
up the chimney, except the smoke!

The answer matters little.  Coppersmiths, doors, portholes, smoke, and
faggots, are welcome to me.  Give me the smiling face of the attendant,
man or woman; the courteous manner; the amiable desire to please and to
be pleased; the light-hearted, pleasant, simple air—so many jewels set in
dirt—and I am theirs again to-morrow!

ARIOSTO’S house, TASSO’S prison, a rare old Gothic cathedral, and more
churches of course, are the sights of Ferrara.  But the long silent
streets, and the dismantled palaces, where ivy waves in lieu of banners,
and where rank weeds are slowly creeping up the long-untrodden stairs,
are the best sights of all.

The aspect of this dreary town, half an hour before sunrise one fine
morning, when I left it, was as picturesque as it seemed unreal and
spectral.  It was no matter that the people were not yet out of bed; for
if they had all been up and busy, they would have made but little
difference in that desert of a place.  It was best to see it, without a
single figure in the picture; a city of the dead, without one solitary
survivor.  Pestilence might have ravaged streets, squares, and
market-places; and sack and siege have ruined the old houses, battered
down their doors and windows, and made breaches in their roofs.  In one
part, a great tower rose into the air; the only landmark in the
melancholy view.  In another, a prodigious castle, with a moat about it,
stood aloof: a sullen city in itself.  In the black dungeons of this
castle, Parisina and her lover were beheaded in the dead of night.  The
red light, beginning to shine when I looked back upon it, stained its
walls without, as they have, many a time, been stained within, in old
days; but for any sign of life they gave, the castle and the city might
have been avoided by all human creatures, from the moment when the axe
went down upon the last of the two lovers: and might have never vibrated
to another sound

    Beyond the blow that to the block
    Pierced through with forced and sullen shock.

Coming to the Po, which was greatly swollen, and running fiercely, we
crossed it by a floating bridge of boats, and so came into the Austrian
territory, and resumed our journey: through a country of which, for some
miles, a great part was under water.  The brave Courier and the soldiery
had first quarrelled, for half an hour or more, over our eternal
passport.  But this was a daily relaxation with the Brave, who was always
stricken deaf when shabby functionaries in uniform came, as they
constantly did come, plunging out of wooden boxes to look at it—or in
other words to beg—and who, stone deaf to my entreaties that the man
might have a trifle given him, and we resume our journey in peace, was
wont to sit reviling the functionary in broken English: while the
unfortunate man’s face was a portrait of mental agony framed in the coach
window, from his perfect ignorance of what was being said to his

There was a postilion, in the course of this day’s journey, as wild and
savagely good-looking a vagabond as you would desire to see.  He was a
tall, stout-made, dark-complexioned fellow, with a profusion of shaggy
black hair hanging all over his face, and great black whiskers stretching
down his throat.  His dress was a torn suit of rifle green, garnished
here and there with red; a steeple-crowned hat, innocent of nap, with a
broken and bedraggled feather stuck in the band; and a flaming red
neckerchief hanging on his shoulders.  He was not in the saddle, but
reposed, quite at his ease, on a sort of low foot-board in front of the
postchaise, down amongst the horses’ tails—convenient for having his
brains kicked out, at any moment.  To this Brigand, the brave Courier,
when we were at a reasonable trot, happened to suggest the practicability
of going faster.  He received the proposal with a perfect yell of
derision; brandished his whip about his head (such a whip! it was more
like a home-made bow); flung up his heels, much higher than the horses;
and disappeared, in a paroxysm, somewhere in the neighbourhood of the
axle-tree.  I fully expected to see him lying in the road, a hundred
yards behind, but up came the steeple-crowned hat again, next minute, and
he was seen reposing, as on a sofa, entertaining himself with the idea,
and crying, ‘Ha, ha! what next!  Oh the devil!  Faster too!
Shoo—hoo—o—o!’  (This last ejaculation, an inexpressibly defiant hoot.)
Being anxious to reach our immediate destination that night, I ventured,
by-and-by, to repeat the experiment on my own account.  It produced
exactly the same effect.  Round flew the whip with the same scornful
flourish, up came the heels, down went the steeple-crowned hat, and
presently he reappeared, reposing as before and saying to himself, ‘Ha
ha! what next!  Faster too!  Oh the devil!  Shoo—hoo—o—o!’


I HAD been travelling, for some days; resting very little in the night,
and never in the day.  The rapid and unbroken succession of novelties
that had passed before me, came back like half-formed dreams; and a crowd
of objects wandered in the greatest confusion through my mind, as I
travelled on, by a solitary road.  At intervals, some one among them
would stop, as it were, in its restless flitting to and fro, and enable
me to look at it, quite steadily, and behold it in full distinctness.
After a few moments, it would dissolve, like a view in a magic-lantern;
and while I saw some part of it quite plainly, and some faintly, and some
not at all, would show me another of the many places I had lately seen,
lingering behind it, and coming through it.  This was no sooner visible
than, in its turn, it melted into something else.

At one moment, I was standing again, before the brown old rugged churches
of Modena.  As I recognised the curious pillars with grim monsters for
their bases, I seemed to see them, standing by themselves in the quiet
square at Padua, where there were the staid old University, and the
figures, demurely gowned, grouped here and there in the open space about
it.  Then, I was strolling in the outskirts of that pleasant city,
admiring the unusual neatness of the dwelling-houses, gardens, and
orchards, as I had seen them a few hours before.  In their stead arose,
immediately, the two towers of Bologna; and the most obstinate of all
these objects, failed to hold its ground, a minute, before the monstrous
moated castle of Ferrara, which, like an illustration to a wild romance,
came back again in the red sunrise, lording it over the solitary,
grass-grown, withered town.  In short, I had that incoherent but
delightful jumble in my brain, which travellers are apt to have, and are
indolently willing to encourage.  Every shake of the coach in which I
sat, half dozing in the dark, appeared to jerk some new recollection out
of its place, and to jerk some other new recollection into it; and in
this state I fell asleep.

I was awakened after some time (as I thought) by the stopping of the
coach.  It was now quite night, and we were at the waterside.  There lay
here, a black boat, with a little house or cabin in it of the same
mournful colour.  When I had taken my seat in this, the boat was paddled,
by two men, towards a great light, lying in the distance on the sea.

Ever and again, there was a dismal sigh of wind.  It ruffled the water,
and rocked the boat, and sent the dark clouds flying before the stars.  I
could not but think how strange it was, to be floating away at that hour:
leaving the land behind, and going on, towards this light upon the sea.
It soon began to burn brighter; and from being one light became a cluster
of tapers, twinkling and shining out of the water, as the boat approached
towards them by a dreamy kind of track, marked out upon the sea by posts
and piles.

We had floated on, five miles or so, over the dark water, when I heard it
rippling in my dream, against some obstruction near at hand.  Looking out
attentively, I saw, through the gloom, a something black and massive—like
a shore, but lying close and flat upon the water, like a raft—which we
were gliding past.  The chief of the two rowers said it was a

Full of the interest and wonder which a cemetery lying out there, in the
lonely sea, inspired, I turned to gaze upon it as it should recede in our
path, when it was quickly shut out from my view.  Before I knew by what,
or how, I found that we were gliding up a street—a phantom street; the
houses rising on both sides, from the water, and the black boat gliding
on beneath their windows.  Lights were shining from some of these
casements, plumbing the depth of the black stream with their reflected
rays, but all was profoundly silent.

So we advanced into this ghostly city, continuing to hold our course
through narrow streets and lanes, all filled and flowing with water.
Some of the corners where our way branched off, were so acute and narrow,
that it seemed impossible for the long slender boat to turn them; but the
rowers, with a low melodious cry of warning, sent it skimming on without
a pause.  Sometimes, the rowers of another black boat like our own,
echoed the cry, and slackening their speed (as I thought we did ours)
would come flitting past us like a dark shadow.  Other boats, of the same
sombre hue, were lying moored, I thought, to painted pillars, near to
dark mysterious doors that opened straight upon the water.  Some of these
were empty; in some, the rowers lay asleep; towards one, I saw some
figures coming down a gloomy archway from the interior of a palace: gaily
dressed, and attended by torch-bearers.  It was but a glimpse I had of
them; for a bridge, so low and close upon the boat that it seemed ready
to fall down and crush us: one of the many bridges that perplexed the
Dream: blotted them out, instantly.  On we went, floating towards the
heart of this strange place—with water all about us where never water was
elsewhere—clusters of houses, churches, heaps of stately buildings
growing out of it—and, everywhere, the same extraordinary silence.
Presently, we shot across a broad and open stream; and passing, as I
thought, before a spacious paved quay, where the bright lamps with which
it was illuminated showed long rows of arches and pillars, of ponderous
construction and great strength, but as light to the eye as garlands of
hoarfrost or gossamer—and where, for the first time, I saw people
walking—arrived at a flight of steps leading from the water to a large
mansion, where, having passed through corridors and galleries
innumerable, I lay down to rest; listening to the black boats stealing up
and down below the window on the rippling water, till I fell asleep.

The glory of the day that broke upon me in this Dream; its freshness,
motion, buoyancy; its sparkles of the sun in water; its clear blue sky
and rustling air; no waking words can tell.  But, from my window, I
looked down on boats and barks; on masts, sails, cordage, flags; on
groups of busy sailors, working at the cargoes of these vessels; on wide
quays, strewn with bales, casks, merchandise of many kinds; on great
ships, lying near at hand in stately indolence; on islands, crowned with
gorgeous domes and turrets: and where golden crosses glittered in the
light, atop of wondrous churches, springing from the sea!  Going down
upon the margin of the green sea, rolling on before the door, and filling
all the streets, I came upon a place of such surpassing beauty, and such
grandeur, that all the rest was poor and faded, in comparison with its
absorbing loveliness.

It was a great Piazza, as I thought; anchored, like all the rest, in the
deep ocean.  On its broad bosom, was a Palace, more majestic and
magnificent in its old age, than all the buildings of the earth, in the
high prime and fulness of their youth.  Cloisters and galleries: so
light, they might have been the work of fairy hands: so strong that
centuries had battered them in vain: wound round and round this palace,
and enfolded it with a Cathedral, gorgeous in the wild luxuriant fancies
of the East.  At no great distance from its porch, a lofty tower,
standing by itself, and rearing its proud head, alone, into the sky,
looked out upon the Adriatic Sea.  Near to the margin of the stream, were
two ill-omened pillars of red granite; one having on its top, a figure
with a sword and shield; the other, a winged lion.  Not far from these
again, a second tower: richest of the rich in all its decorations: even
here, where all was rich: sustained aloft, a great orb, gleaming with
gold and deepest blue: the Twelve Signs painted on it, and a mimic sun
revolving in its course around them: while above, two bronze giants
hammered out the hours upon a sounding bell.  An oblong square of lofty
houses of the whitest stone, surrounded by a light and beautiful arcade,
formed part of this enchanted scene; and, here and there, gay masts for
flags rose, tapering, from the pavement of the unsubstantial ground.

I thought I entered the Cathedral, and went in and out among its many
arches: traversing its whole extent.  A grand and dreamy structure, of
immense proportions; golden with old mosaics; redolent of perfumes; dim
with the smoke of incense; costly in treasure of precious stones and
metals, glittering through iron bars; holy with the bodies of deceased
saints; rainbow-hued with windows of stained glass; dark with carved
woods and coloured marbles; obscure in its vast heights, and lengthened
distances; shining with silver lamps and winking lights; unreal,
fantastic, solemn, inconceivable throughout.  I thought I entered the old
palace; pacing silent galleries and council-chambers, where the old
rulers of this mistress of the waters looked sternly out, in pictures,
from the walls, and where her high-prowed galleys, still victorious on
canvas, fought and conquered as of old.  I thought I wandered through its
halls of state and triumph—bare and empty now!—and musing on its pride
and might, extinct: for that was past; all past: heard a voice say, ‘Some
tokens of its ancient rule and some consoling reasons for its downfall,
may be traced here, yet!’

I dreamed that I was led on, then, into some jealous rooms, communicating
with a prison near the palace; separated from it by a lofty bridge
crossing a narrow street; and called, I dreamed, The Bridge of Sighs.

But first I passed two jagged slits in a stone wall; the lions’
mouths—now toothless—where, in the distempered horror of my sleep, I
thought denunciations of innocent men to the old wicked Council, had been
dropped through, many a time, when the night was dark.  So, when I saw
the council-room to which such prisoners were taken for examination, and
the door by which they passed out, when they were condemned—a door that
never closed upon a man with life and hope before him—my heart appeared
to die within me.

It was smitten harder though, when, torch in hand, I descended from the
cheerful day into two ranges, one below another, of dismal, awful,
horrible stone cells.  They were quite dark.  Each had a loop-hole in its
massive wall, where, in the old time, every day, a torch was placed—I
dreamed—to light the prisoner within, for half an hour.  The captives, by
the glimmering of these brief rays, had scratched and cut inscriptions in
the blackened vaults.  I saw them.  For their labour with a rusty nail’s
point, had outlived their agony and them, through many generations.

One cell, I saw, in which no man remained for more than four-and-twenty
hours; being marked for dead before he entered it.  Hard by, another, and
a dismal one, whereto, at midnight, the confessor came—a monk
brown-robed, and hooded—ghastly in the day, and free bright air, but in
the midnight of that murky prison, Hope’s extinguisher, and Murder’s
herald.  I had my foot upon the spot, where, at the same dread hour, the
shriven prisoner was strangled; and struck my hand upon the guilty
door—low-browed and stealthy—through which the lumpish sack was carried
out into a boat, and rowed away, and drowned where it was death to cast a

Around this dungeon stronghold, and above some part of it: licking the
rough walls without, and smearing them with damp and slime within:
stuffing dank weeds and refuse into chinks and crevices, as if the very
stones and bars had mouths to stop: furnishing a smooth road for the
removal of the bodies of the secret victims of the State—a road so ready
that it went along with them, and ran before them, like a cruel
officer—flowed the same water that filled this Dream of mine, and made it
seem one, even at the time.

Descending from the palace by a staircase, called, I thought, the
Giant’s—I had some imaginary recollection of an old man abdicating,
coming, more slowly and more feebly, down it, when he heard the bell,
proclaiming his successor—I glided off, in one of the dark boats, until
we came to an old arsenal guarded by four marble lions.  To make my Dream
more monstrous and unlikely, one of these had words and sentences upon
its body, inscribed there, at an unknown time, and in an unknown
language; so that their purport was a mystery to all men.

There was little sound of hammers in this place for building ships, and
little work in progress; for the greatness of the city was no more, as I
have said.  Indeed, it seemed a very wreck found drifting on the sea; a
strange flag hoisted in its honourable stations, and strangers standing
at its helm.  A splendid barge in which its ancient chief had gone forth,
pompously, at certain periods, to wed the ocean, lay here, I thought, no
more; but, in its place, there was a tiny model, made from recollection
like the city’s greatness; and it told of what had been (so are the
strong and weak confounded in the dust) almost as eloquently as the
massive pillars, arches, roofs, reared to overshadow stately ships that
had no other shadow now, upon the water or the earth.

An armoury was there yet.  Plundered and despoiled; but an armoury.  With
a fierce standard taken from the Turks, drooping in the dull air of its
cage.  Rich suits of mail worn by great warriors were hoarded there;
crossbows and bolts; quivers full of arrows; spears; swords, daggers,
maces, shields, and heavy-headed axes.  Plates of wrought steel and iron,
to make the gallant horse a monster cased in metal scales; and one
spring-weapon (easy to be carried in the breast) designed to do its
office noiselessly, and made for shooting men with poisoned darts.

One press or case I saw, full of accursed instruments of torture horribly
contrived to cramp, and pinch, and grind and crush men’s bones, and tear
and twist them with the torment of a thousand deaths.  Before it, were
two iron helmets, with breast-pieces: made to close up tight and smooth
upon the heads of living sufferers; and fastened on to each, was a small
knob or anvil, where the directing devil could repose his elbow at his
ease, and listen, near the walled-up ear, to the lamentations and
confessions of the wretch within.  There was that grim resemblance in
them to the human shape—they were such moulds of sweating faces, pained
and cramped—that it was difficult to think them empty; and terrible
distortions lingering within them, seemed to follow me, when, taking to
my boat again, I rowed off to a kind of garden or public walk in the sea,
where there were grass and trees.  But I forgot them when I stood upon
its farthest brink—I stood there, in my dream—and looked, along the
ripple, to the setting sun; before me, in the sky and on the deep, a
crimson flush; and behind me the whole city resolving into streaks of red
and purple, on the water.

In the luxurious wonder of so rare a dream, I took but little heed of
time, and had but little understanding of its flight.  But there were
days and nights in it; and when the sun was high, and when the rays of
lamps were crooked in the running water, I was still afloat, I thought:
plashing the slippery walls and houses with the cleavings of the tide, as
my black boat, borne upon it, skimmed along the streets.

Sometimes, alighting at the doors of churches and vast palaces, I
wandered on, from room to room, from aisle to aisle, through labyrinths
of rich altars, ancient monuments; decayed apartments where the
furniture, half awful, half grotesque, was mouldering away.  Pictures
were there, replete with such enduring beauty and expression: with such
passion, truth and power: that they seemed so many young and fresh
realities among a host of spectres.  I thought these, often intermingled
with the old days of the city: with its beauties, tyrants, captains,
patriots, merchants, counters, priests: nay, with its very stones, and
bricks, and public places; all of which lived again, about me, on the
walls.  Then, coming down some marble staircase where the water lapped
and oozed against the lower steps, I passed into my boat again, and went
on in my dream.

Floating down narrow lanes, where carpenters, at work with plane and
chisel in their shops, tossed the light shaving straight upon the water,
where it lay like weed, or ebbed away before me in a tangled heap.  Past
open doors, decayed and rotten from long steeping in the wet, through
which some scanty patch of vine shone green and bright, making unusual
shadows on the pavement with its trembling leaves.  Past quays and
terraces, where women, gracefully veiled, were passing and repassing, and
where idlers were reclining in the sunshine, on flag-stones and on
flights of steps.  Past bridges, where there were idlers too; loitering
and looking over.  Below stone balconies, erected at a giddy height,
before the loftiest windows of the loftiest houses.  Past plots of
garden, theatres, shrines, prodigious piles of
architecture—Gothic—Saracenic—fanciful with all the fancies of all times
and countries.  Past buildings that were high, and low, and black, and
white, and straight, and crooked; mean and grand, crazy and strong.
Twining among a tangled lot of boats and barges, and shooting out at last
into a Grand Canal!  There, in the errant fancy of my dream, I saw old
Shylock passing to and fro upon a bridge, all built upon with shops and
humming with the tongues of men; a form I seemed to know for Desdemona’s,
leaned down through a latticed blind to pluck a flower.  And, in the
dream, I thought that Shakespeare’s spirit was abroad upon the water
somewhere: stealing through the city.

At night, when two votive lamps burnt before an image of the Virgin, in a
gallery outside the great cathedral, near the roof, I fancied that the
great piazza of the Winged Lion was a blaze of cheerful light, and that
its whole arcade was thronged with people; while crowds were diverting
themselves in splendid coffee-houses opening from it—which were never
shut, I thought, but open all night long.  When the bronze giants struck
the hour of midnight on the bell, I thought the life and animation of the
city were all centred here; and as I rowed away, abreast the silent
quays, I only saw them dotted, here and there, with sleeping boatmen
wrapped up in their cloaks, and lying at full length upon the stones.

But close about the quays and churches, palaces and prisons sucking at
their walls, and welling up into the secret places of the town: crept the
water always.  Noiseless and watchful: coiled round and round it, in its
many folds, like an old serpent: waiting for the time, I thought, when
people should look down into its depths for any stone of the old city
that had claimed to be its mistress.

Thus it floated me away, until I awoke in the old market-place at Verona.
I have, many and many a time, thought since, of this strange Dream upon
the water: half-wondering if it lie there yet, and if its name be VENICE.


I HAD been half afraid to go to Verona, lest it should at all put me out
of conceit with Romeo and Juliet.  But, I was no sooner come into the old
market-place, than the misgiving vanished.  It is so fanciful, quaint,
and picturesque a place, formed by such an extraordinary and rich variety
of fantastic buildings, that there could be nothing better at the core of
even this romantic town: scene of one of the most romantic and beautiful
of stories.

It was natural enough, to go straight from the Market-place, to the House
of the Capulets, now degenerated into a most miserable little inn.  Noisy
vetturíni and muddy market-carts were disputing possession of the yard,
which was ankle-deep in dirt, with a brood of splashed and bespattered
geese; and there was a grim-visaged dog, viciously panting in a doorway,
who would certainly have had Romeo by the leg, the moment he put it over
the wall, if he had existed and been at large in those times.  The
orchard fell into other hands, and was parted off many years ago; but
there used to be one attached to the house—or at all events there may
have, been,—and the hat (Cappêllo) the ancient cognizance of the family,
may still be seen, carved in stone, over the gateway of the yard.  The
geese, the market-carts, their drivers, and the dog, were somewhat in the
way of the story, it must be confessed; and it would have been pleasanter
to have found the house empty, and to have been able to walk through the
disused rooms.  But the hat was unspeakably comfortable; and the place
where the garden used to be, hardly less so.  Besides, the house is a
distrustful, jealous-looking house as one would desire to see, though of
a very moderate size.  So I was quite satisfied with it, as the veritable
mansion of old Capulet, and was correspondingly grateful in my
acknowledgments to an extremely unsentimental middle-aged lady, the
Padrona of the Hotel, who was lounging on the threshold looking at the
geese; and who at least resembled the Capulets in the one particular of
being very great indeed in the ‘Family’ way.

From Juliet’s home, to Juliet’s tomb, is a transition as natural to the
visitor, as to fair Juliet herself, or to the proudest Juliet that ever
has taught the torches to burn bright in any time.  So, I went off, with
a guide, to an old, old garden, once belonging to an old, old convent, I
suppose; and being admitted, at a shattered gate, by a bright-eyed woman
who was washing clothes, went down some walks where fresh plants and
young flowers were prettily growing among fragments of old wall, and
ivy-coloured mounds; and was shown a little tank, or water-trough, which
the bright-eyed woman—drying her arms upon her ‘kerchief, called ‘La
tomba di Giulietta la sfortunáta.’  With the best disposition in the
world to believe, I could do no more than believe that the bright-eyed
woman believed; so I gave her that much credit, and her customary fee in
ready money.  It was a pleasure, rather than a disappointment, that
Juliet’s resting-place was forgotten.  However consolatory it may have
been to Yorick’s Ghost, to hear the feet upon the pavement overhead, and,
twenty times a day, the repetition of his name, it is better for Juliet
to lie out of the track of tourists, and to have no visitors but such as
come to graves in spring-rain, and sweet air, and sunshine.

Pleasant Verona!  With its beautiful old palaces, and charming country in
the distance, seen from terrace walks, and stately, balustraded
galleries.  With its Roman gates, still spanning the fair street, and
casting, on the sunlight of to-day, the shade of fifteen hundred years
ago.  With its marble-fitted churches, lofty towers, rich architecture,
and quaint old quiet thoroughfares, where shouts of Montagues and
Capulets once resounded,

    And made Verona’s ancient citizens
    Cast by their grave, beseeming ornaments,
    To wield old partizans.

With its fast-rushing river, picturesque old bridge, great castle, waving
cypresses, and prospect so delightful, and so cheerful!  Pleasant Verona!

In the midst of it, in the Piazza di Brá—a spirit of old time among the
familiar realities of the passing hour—is the great Roman Amphitheatre.
So well preserved, and carefully maintained, that every row of seats is
there, unbroken.  Over certain of the arches, the old Roman numerals may
yet be seen; and there are corridors, and staircases, and subterranean
passages for beasts, and winding ways, above ground and below, as when
the fierce thousands hurried in and out, intent upon the bloody shows of
the arena.  Nestling in some of the shadows and hollow places of the
walls, now, are smiths with their forges, and a few small dealers of one
kind or other; and there are green weeds, and leaves, and grass, upon the
parapet.  But little else is greatly changed.

When I had traversed all about it, with great interest, and had gone up
to the topmost round of seats, and turning from the lovely panorama
closed in by the distant Alps, looked down into the building, it seemed
to lie before me like the inside of a prodigious hat of plaited straw,
with an enormously broad brim and a shallow crown; the plaits being
represented by the four-and-forty rows of seats.  The comparison is a
homely and fantastic one, in sober remembrance and on paper, but it was
irresistibly suggested at the moment, nevertheless.

An equestrian troop had been there, a short time before—the same troop, I
dare say, that appeared to the old lady in the church at Modena—and had
scooped out a little ring at one end of the area; where their
performances had taken place, and where the marks of their horses’ feet
were still fresh.  I could not but picture to myself, a handful of
spectators gathered together on one or two of the old stone seats, and a
spangled Cavalier being gallant, or a Policinello funny, with the grim
walls looking on.  Above all, I thought how strangely those Roman mutes
would gaze upon the favourite comic scene of the travelling English,
where a British nobleman (Lord John), with a very loose stomach: dressed
in a blue-tailed coat down to his heels, bright yellow breeches, and a
white hat: comes abroad, riding double on a rearing horse, with an
English lady (Lady Betsy) in a straw bonnet and green veil, and a red
spencer; and who always carries a gigantic reticule, and a put-up

I walked through and through the town all the rest of the day, and could
have walked there until now, I think.  In one place, there was a very
pretty modern theatre, where they had just performed the opera (always
popular in Verona) of Romeo and Juliet.  In another there was a
collection, under a colonnade, of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan remains,
presided over by an ancient man who might have been an Etruscan relic
himself; for he was not strong enough to open the iron gate, when he had
unlocked it, and had neither voice enough to be audible when he described
the curiosities, nor sight enough to see them: he was so very old.  In
another place, there was a gallery of pictures: so abominably bad, that
it was quite delightful to see them mouldering away.  But anywhere: in
the churches, among the palaces, in the streets, on the bridge, or down
beside the river: it was always pleasant Verona, and in my remembrance
always will be.

I read Romeo and Juliet in my own room at the inn that night—of course,
no Englishman had ever read it there, before—and set out for Mantua next
day at sunrise, repeating to myself (in the _coupé_ of an omnibus, and
next to the conductor, who was reading the Mysteries of Paris),

    There is no world without Verona’s walls
    But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
    Hence-banished is banished from the world,
    And world’s exile is death—

which reminded me that Romeo was only banished five-and-twenty miles
after all, and rather disturbed my confidence in his energy and boldness.

Was the way to Mantua as beautiful, in his time, I wonder!  Did it wind
through pasture land as green, bright with the same glancing streams, and
dotted with fresh clumps of graceful trees!  Those purple mountains lay
on the horizon, then, for certain; and the dresses of these peasant
girls, who wear a great, knobbed, silver pin like an English
‘life-preserver’ through their hair behind, can hardly be much changed.
The hopeful feeling of so bright a morning, and so exquisite a sunrise,
can have been no stranger, even to an exiled lover’s breast; and Mantua
itself must have broken on him in the prospect, with its towers, and
walls, and water, pretty much as on a commonplace and matrimonial
omnibus.  He made the same sharp twists and turns, perhaps, over two
rumbling drawbridges; passed through the like long, covered, wooden
bridge; and leaving the marshy water behind, approached the rusty gate of
stagnant Mantua.

If ever a man were suited to his place of residence, and his place of
residence to him, the lean Apothecary and Mantua came together in a
perfect fitness of things.  It may have been more stirring then, perhaps.
If so, the Apothecary was a man in advance of his time, and knew what
Mantua would be, in eighteen hundred and forty-four.  He fasted much, and
that assisted him in his foreknowledge.

I put up at the Hotel of the Golden Lion, and was in my own room
arranging plans with the brave Courier, when there came a modest little
tap at the door, which opened on an outer gallery surrounding a
court-yard; and an intensely shabby little man looked in, to inquire if
the gentleman would have a Cicerone to show the town.  His face was so
very wistful and anxious, in the half-opened doorway, and there was so
much poverty expressed in his faded suit and little pinched hat, and in
the thread-bare worsted glove with which he held it—not expressed the
less, because these were evidently his genteel clothes, hastily slipped
on—that I would as soon have trodden on him as dismissed him.  I engaged
him on the instant, and he stepped in directly.

While I finished the discussion in which I was engaged, he stood, beaming
by himself in a corner, making a feint of brushing my hat with his arm.
If his fee had been as many napoleons as it was francs, there could not
have shot over the twilight of his shabbiness such a gleam of sun, as
lighted up the whole man, now that he was hired.

‘Well!’ said I, when I was ready, ‘shall we go out now?’

‘If the gentleman pleases.  It is a beautiful day.  A little fresh, but
charming; altogether charming.  The gentleman will allow me to open the
door.  This is the Inn Yard.  The court-yard of the Golden Lion!  The
gentleman will please to mind his footing on the stairs.’

We were now in the street.

‘This is the street of the Golden Lion.  This, the outside of the Golden
Lion.  The interesting window up there, on the first Piano, where the
pane of glass is broken, is the window of the gentleman’s chamber!’

Having viewed all these remarkable objects, I inquired if there were much
to see in Mantua.

‘Well!  Truly, no.  Not much!  So, so,’ he said, shrugging his shoulders

‘Many churches?’

‘No.  Nearly all suppressed by the French.’

‘Monasteries or convents?’

‘No.  The French again!  Nearly all suppressed by Napoleon.’

‘Much business?’

‘Very little business.’

‘Many strangers?’

‘Ah Heaven!’

I thought he would have fainted.

‘Then, when we have seen the two large churches yonder, what shall we do
next?’ said I.

He looked up the street, and down the street, and rubbed his chin
timidly; and then said, glancing in my face as if a light had broken on
his mind, yet with a humble appeal to my forbearance that was perfectly

‘We can take a little turn about the town, Signore!’  (Si può far ’un
píccolo gíro della citta).

It was impossible to be anything but delighted with the proposal, so we
set off together in great good-humour.  In the relief of his mind, he
opened his heart, and gave up as much of Mantua as a Cicerone could.

‘One must eat,’ he said; ‘but, bah! it was a dull place, without doubt!’

He made as much as possible of the Basilica of Santa Andrea—a noble
church—and of an inclosed portion of the pavement, about which tapers
were burning, and a few people kneeling, and under which is said to be
preserved the Sangreal of the old Romances.  This church disposed of, and
another after it (the cathedral of San Pietro), we went to the Museum,
which was shut up.  ‘It was all the same,’ he said.  ‘Bah!  There was not
much inside!’  Then, we went to see the Piazza del Diavolo, built by the
Devil (for no particular purpose) in a single night; then, the Piazza
Virgiliana; then, the statue of Virgil—_our_ Poet, my little friend said,
plucking up a spirit, for the moment, and putting his hat a little on one
side.  Then, we went to a dismal sort of farm-yard, by which a
picture-gallery was approached.  The moment the gate of this retreat was
opened, some five hundred geese came waddling round us, stretching out
their necks, and clamouring in the most hideous manner, as if they were
ejaculating, ‘Oh! here’s somebody come to see the Pictures!  Don’t go up!
Don’t go up!’  While we went up, they waited very quietly about the door
in a crowd, cackling to one another occasionally, in a subdued tone; but
the instant we appeared again, their necks came out like telescopes, and
setting up a great noise, which meant, I have no doubt, ‘What, you would
go, would you!  What do you think of it!  How do you like it!’ they
attended us to the outer gate, and cast us forth, derisively, into

The geese who saved the Capitol, were, as compared to these, Pork to the
learned Pig.  What a gallery it was!  I would take their opinion on a
question of art, in preference to the discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Now that we were standing in the street, after being thus ignominiouly
escorted thither, my little friend was plainly reduced to the ‘píccolo
gíro,’ or little circuit of the town, he had formerly proposed.  But my
suggestion that we should visit the Palazzo Tè (of which I had heard a
great deal, as a strange wild place) imparted new life to him, and away
we went.

The secret of the length of Midas’s ears, would have been more
extensively known, if that servant of his, who whispered it to the reeds,
had lived in Mantua, where there are reeds and rushes enough to have
published it to all the world.  The Palazzo Tè stands in a swamp, among
this sort of vegetation; and is, indeed, as singular a place as I ever

Not for its dreariness, though it is very dreary.  Not for its dampness,
though it is very damp.  Nor for its desolate condition, though it is as
desolate and neglected as house can be.  But chiefly for the
unaccountable nightmares with which its interior has been decorated
(among other subjects of more delicate execution), by Giulio Romano.
There is a leering Giant over a certain chimney-piece, and there are
dozens of Giants (Titans warring with Jove) on the walls of another room,
so inconceivably ugly and grotesque, that it is marvellous how any man
can have imagined such creatures.  In the chamber in which they abound,
these monsters, with swollen faces and cracked cheeks, and every kind of
distortion of look and limb, are depicted as staggering under the weight
of falling buildings, and being overwhelmed in the ruins; upheaving
masses of rock, and burying themselves beneath; vainly striving to
sustain the pillars of heavy roofs that topple down upon their heads;
and, in a word, undergoing and doing every kind of mad and demoniacal
destruction.  The figures are immensely large, and exaggerated to the
utmost pitch of uncouthness; the colouring is harsh and disagreeable; and
the whole effect more like (I should imagine) a violent rush of blood to
the head of the spectator, than any real picture set before him by the
hand of an artist.  This apoplectic performance was shown by a
sickly-looking woman, whose appearance was referable, I dare say, to the
bad air of the marshes; but it was difficult to help feeling as if she
were too much haunted by the Giants, and they were frightening her to
death, all alone in that exhausted cistern of a Palace, among the reeds
and rushes, with the mists hovering about outside, and stalking round and
round it continually.

Our walk through Mantua showed us, in almost every street, some
suppressed church: now used for a warehouse, now for nothing at all: all
as crazy and dismantled as they could be, short of tumbling down bodily.
The marshy town was so intensely dull and flat, that the dirt upon it
seemed not to have come there in the ordinary course, but to have settled
and mantled on its surface as on standing water.  And yet there were some
business-dealings going on, and some profits realising; for there were
arcades full of Jews, where those extraordinary people were sitting
outside their shops, contemplating their stores of stuffs, and woollens,
and bright handkerchiefs, and trinkets: and looking, in all respects, as
wary and business-like, as their brethren in Houndsditch, London.

Having selected a Vetturíno from among the neighbouring Christians, who
agreed to carry us to Milan in two days and a half, and to start, next
morning, as soon as the gates were opened, I returned to the Golden Lion,
and dined luxuriously in my own room, in a narrow passage between two
bedsteads: confronted by a smoky fire, and backed up by a chest of
drawers.  At six o’clock next morning, we were jingling in the dark
through the wet cold mist that enshrouded the town; and, before noon, the
driver (a native of Mantua, and sixty years of age or thereabouts) began
_to ask the way_ to Milan.

It lay through Bozzolo; formerly a little republic, and now one of the
most deserted and poverty-stricken of towns: where the landlord of the
miserable inn (God bless him! it was his weekly custom) was distributing
infinitesimal coins among a clamorous herd of women and children, whose
rags were fluttering in the wind and rain outside his door, where they
were gathered to receive his charity.  It lay through mist, and mud, and
rain, and vines trained low upon the ground, all that day and the next;
the first sleeping-place being Cremona, memorable for its dark brick
churches, and immensely high tower, the Torrazzo—to say nothing of its
violins, of which it certainly produces none in these degenerate days;
and the second, Lodi.  Then we went on, through more mud, mist, and rain,
and marshy ground: and through such a fog, as Englishmen, strong in the
faith of their own grievances, are apt to believe is nowhere to be found
but in their own country, until we entered the paved streets of Milan.

The fog was so dense here, that the spire of the far-famed Cathedral
might as well have been at Bombay, for anything that could be seen of it
at that time.  But as we halted to refresh, for a few days then, and
returned to Milan again next summer, I had ample opportunities of seeing
the glorious structure in all its majesty and beauty.

All Christian homage to the saint who lies within it!  There are many
good and true saints in the calendar, but San Carlo Borromeo has—if I may
quote Mrs. Primrose on such a subject—‘my warm heart.’  A charitable
doctor to the sick, a munificent friend to the poor, and this, not in any
spirit of blind bigotry, but as the bold opponent of enormous abuses in
the Romish church, I honour his memory.  I honour it none the less,
because he was nearly slain by a priest, suborned, by priests, to murder
him at the altar: in acknowledgment of his endeavours to reform a false
and hypocritical brotherhood of monks.  Heaven shield all imitators of
San Carlo Borromeo as it shielded him!  A reforming Pope would need a
little shielding, even now.

The subterranean chapel in which the body of San Carlo Borromeo is
preserved, presents as striking and as ghastly a contrast, perhaps, as
any place can show.  The tapers which are lighted down there, flash and
gleam on alti-rilievi in gold and silver, delicately wrought by skilful
hands, and representing the principal events in the life of the saint.
Jewels, and precious metals, shine and sparkle on every side.  A windlass
slowly removes the front of the altar; and, within it, in a gorgeous
shrine of gold and silver, is seen, through alabaster, the shrivelled
mummy of a man: the pontifical robes with which it is adorned, radiant
with diamonds, emeralds, rubies: every costly and magnificent gem.  The
shrunken heap of poor earth in the midst of this great glitter, is more
pitiful than if it lay upon a dung-hill.  There is not a ray of
imprisoned light in all the flash and fire of jewels, but seems to mock
the dusty holes where eyes were, once.  Every thread of silk in the rich
vestments seems only a provision from the worms that spin, for the behoof
of worms that propagate in sepulchres.

In the old refectory of the dilapidated Convent of Santa Maria delle
Grazie, is the work of art, perhaps, better known than any other in the
world: the Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci—with a door cut through it
by the intelligent Dominican friars, to facilitate their operations at

I am not mechanically acquainted with the art of painting, and have no
other means of judging of a picture than as I see it resembling and
refining upon nature, and presenting graceful combinations of forms and
colours.  I am, therefore, no authority whatever, in reference to the
‘touch’ of this or that master; though I know very well (as anybody may,
who chooses to think about the matter) that few very great masters can
possibly have painted, in the compass of their lives, one-half of the
pictures that bear their names, and that are recognised by many aspirants
to a reputation for taste, as undoubted originals.  But this, by the way.
Of the Last Supper, I would simply observe, that in its beautiful
composition and arrangement, there it is, at Milan, a wonderful picture;
and that, in its original colouring, or in its original expression of any
single face or feature, there it is not.  Apart from the damage it has
sustained from damp, decay, or neglect, it has been (as Barry shows) so
retouched upon, and repainted, and that so clumsily, that many of the
heads are, now, positive deformities, with patches of paint and plaster
sticking upon them like wens, and utterly distorting the expression.
Where the original artist set that impress of his genius on a face,
which, almost in a line or touch, separated him from meaner painters and
made him what he was, succeeding bunglers, filling up, or painting across
seams and cracks, have been quite unable to imitate his hand; and putting
in some scowls, or frowns, or wrinkles, of their own, have blotched and
spoiled the work.  This is so well established as an historical fact,
that I should not repeat it, at the risk of being tedious, but for having
observed an English gentleman before the picture, who was at great pains
to fall into what I may describe as mild convulsions, at certain minute
details of expression which are not left in it.  Whereas, it would be
comfortable and rational for travellers and critics to arrive at a
general understanding that it cannot fail to have been a work of
extraordinary merit, once: when, with so few of its original beauties
remaining, the grandeur of the general design is yet sufficient to
sustain it, as a piece replete with interest and dignity.

We achieved the other sights of Milan, in due course, and a fine city it
is, though not so unmistakably Italian as to possess the characteristic
qualities of many towns far less important in themselves.  The Corso,
where the Milanese gentry ride up and down in carriages, and rather than
not do which, they would half starve themselves at home, is a most noble
public promenade, shaded by long avenues of trees.  In the splendid
theatre of La Scala, there was a ballet of action performed after the
opera, under the title of Prometheus: in the beginning of which, some
hundred or two of men and women represented our mortal race before the
refinements of the arts and sciences, and loves and graces, came on earth
to soften them.  I never saw anything more effective.  Generally
speaking, the pantomimic action of the Italians is more remarkable for
its sudden and impetuous character than for its delicate expression, but,
in this case, the drooping monotony: the weary, miserable, listless,
moping life: the sordid passions and desires of human creatures,
destitute of those elevating influences to which we owe so much, and to
whose promoters we render so little: were expressed in a manner really
powerful and affecting.  I should have thought it almost impossible to
present such an idea so strongly on the stage, without the aid of speech.

Milan soon lay behind us, at five o’clock in the morning; and before the
golden statue on the summit of the cathedral spire was lost in the blue
sky, the Alps, stupendously confused in lofty peaks and ridges, clouds
and snow, were towering in our path.

Still, we continued to advance toward them until nightfall; and, all day
long, the mountain tops presented strangely shifting shapes, as the road
displayed them in different points of view.  The beautiful day was just
declining, when we came upon the Lago Maggiore, with its lovely islands.
For however fanciful and fantastic the Isola Bella may be, and is, it
still is beautiful.  Anything springing out of that blue water, with that
scenery around it, must be.

It was ten o’clock at night when we got to Domo d’Ossola, at the foot of
the Pass of the Simplon.  But as the moon was shining brightly, and there
was not a cloud in the starlit sky, it was no time for going to bed, or
going anywhere but on.  So, we got a little carriage, after some delay,
and began the ascent.

It was late in November; and the snow lying four or five feet thick in
the beaten road on the summit (in other parts the new drift was already
deep), the air was piercing cold.  But, the serenity of the night, and
the grandeur of the road, with its impenetrable shadows, and deep glooms,
and its sudden turns into the shining of the moon and its incessant roar
of falling water, rendered the journey more and more sublime at every

Soon leaving the calm Italian villages below us, sleeping in the
moonlight, the road began to wind among dark trees, and after a time
emerged upon a barer region, very steep and toilsome, where the moon
shone bright and high.  By degrees, the roar of water grew louder; and
the stupendous track, after crossing the torrent by a bridge, struck in
between two massive perpendicular walls of rock that quite shut out the
moonlight, and only left a few stars shining in the narrow strip of sky
above.  Then, even this was lost, in the thick darkness of a cavern in
the rock, through which the way was pierced; the terrible cataract
thundering and roaring close below it, and its foam and spray hanging, in
a mist, about the entrance.  Emerging from this cave, and coming again
into the moonlight, and across a dizzy bridge, it crept and twisted
upward, through the Gorge of Gondo, savage and grand beyond description,
with smooth-fronted precipices, rising up on either hand, and almost
meeting overhead.  Thus we went, climbing on our rugged way, higher and
higher all night, without a moment’s weariness: lost in the contemplation
of the black rocks, the tremendous heights and depths, the fields of
smooth snow lying, in the clefts and hollows, and the fierce torrents
thundering headlong down the deep abyss.

Towards daybreak, we came among the snow, where a keen wind was blowing
fiercely.  Having, with some trouble, awakened the inmates of a wooden
house in this solitude: round which the wind was howling dismally,
catching up the snow in wreaths and hurling it away: we got some
breakfast in a room built of rough timbers, but well warmed by a stove,
and well contrived (as it had need to be) for keeping out the bitter
storms.  A sledge being then made ready, and four horses harnessed to it,
we went, ploughing, through the snow.  Still upward, but now in the cold
light of morning, and with the great white desert on which we travelled,
plain and clear.

We were well upon the summit of the mountain: and had before us the rude
cross of wood, denoting its greatest altitude above the sea: when the
light of the rising sun, struck, all at once, upon the waste of snow, and
turned it a deep red.  The lonely grandeur of the scene was then at its

                        [Picture: The Chiffonier]

As we went sledging on, there came out of the Hospice founded by
Napoleon, a group of Peasant travellers, with staves and knapsacks, who
had rested there last night: attended by a Monk or two, their hospitable
entertainers, trudging slowly forward with them, for company’s sake.  It
was pleasant to give them good morning, and pretty, looking back a long
way after them, to see them looking back at us, and hesitating presently,
when one of our horses stumbled and fell, whether or no they should
return and help us.  But he was soon up again, with the assistance of a
rough waggoner whose team had stuck fast there too; and when we had
helped him out of his difficulty, in return, we left him slowly ploughing
towards them, and went slowly and swiftly forward, on the brink of a
steep precipice, among the mountain pines.

Taking to our wheels again, soon afterwards, we began rapidly to descend;
passing under everlasting glaciers, by means of arched galleries, hung
with clusters of dripping icicles; under and over foaming waterfalls;
near places of refuge, and galleries of shelter against sudden danger;
through caverns over whose arched roofs the avalanches slide, in spring,
and bury themselves in the unknown gulf beneath.  Down, over lofty
bridges, and through horrible ravines: a little shifting speck in the
vast desolation of ice and snow, and monstrous granite rocks; down
through the deep Gorge of the Saltine, and deafened by the torrent
plunging madly down, among the riven blocks of rock, into the level
country, far below.  Gradually down, by zig-zag roads, lying between an
upward and a downward precipice, into warmer weather, calmer air, and
softer scenery, until there lay before us, glittering like gold or silver
in the thaw and sunshine, the metal-covered, red, green, yellow, domes
and church-spires of a Swiss town.

The business of these recollections being with Italy, and my business,
consequently, being to scamper back thither as fast as possible, I will
not recall (though I am sorely tempted) how the Swiss villages, clustered
at the feet of Giant mountains, looked like playthings; or how confusedly
the houses were heaped and piled together; or how there were very narrow
streets to shut the howling winds out in the winter-time; and broken
bridges, which the impetuous torrents, suddenly released in spring, had
swept away.  Or how there were peasant women here, with great round fur
caps: looking, when they peeped out of casements and only their heads
were seen, like a population of Sword-bearers to the Lord Mayor of
London; or how the town of Vevey, lying on the smooth lake of Geneva, was
beautiful to see; or how the statue of Saint Peter in the street at
Fribourg, grasps the largest key that ever was beheld; or how Fribourg is
illustrious for its two suspension bridges, and its grand cathedral

Or how, between that town and Bâle, the road meandered among thriving
villages of wooden cottages, with overhanging thatched roofs, and low
protruding windows, glazed with small round panes of glass like
crown-pieces; or how, in every little Swiss homestead, with its cart or
waggon carefully stowed away beside the house, its little garden, stock
of poultry, and groups of red-cheeked children, there was an air of
comfort, very new and very pleasant after Italy; or how the dresses of
the women changed again, and there were no more sword-bearers to be seen;
and fair white stomachers, and great black, fan-shaped, gauzy-looking
caps, prevailed instead.

Or how the country by the Jura mountains, sprinkled with snow, and
lighted by the moon, and musical with falling water, was delightful; or
how, below the windows of the great hotel of the Three Kings at Bâle, the
swollen Rhine ran fast and green; or how, at Strasbourg, it was quite as
fast but not as green: and was said to be foggy lower down: and, at that
late time of the year, was a far less certain means of progress, than the
highway road to Paris.

Or how Strasbourg itself, in its magnificent old Gothic Cathedral, and
its ancient houses with their peaked roofs and gables, made a little
gallery of quaint and interesting views; or how a crowd was gathered
inside the cathedral at noon, to see the famous mechanical clock in
motion, striking twelve.  How, when it struck twelve, a whole army of
puppets went through many ingenious evolutions; and, among them, a huge
puppet-cock, perched on the top, crowed twelve times, loud and clear.  Or
how it was wonderful to see this cock at great pains to clap its wings,
and strain its throat; but obviously having no connection whatever with
its own voice; which was deep within the clock, a long way down.

Or how the road to Paris, was one sea of mud, and thence to the coast, a
little better for a hard frost.  Or how the cliffs of Dover were a
pleasant sight, and England was so wonderfully neat—though dark, and
lacking colour on a winter’s day, it must be conceded.

Or how, a few days afterwards, it was cool, re-crossing the channel, with
ice upon the decks, and snow lying pretty deep in France.  Or how the
Malle Poste scrambled through the snow, headlong, drawn in the hilly
parts by any number of stout horses at a canter; or how there were,
outside the Post-office Yard in Paris, before daybreak, extraordinary
adventurers in heaps of rags, groping in the snowy streets with little
rakes, in search of odds and ends.

Or how, between Paris and Marseilles, the snow being then exceeding deep,
a thaw came on, and the mail waded rather than rolled for the next three
hundred miles or so; breaking springs on Sunday nights, and putting out
its two passengers to warm and refresh themselves pending the repairs, in
miserable billiard-rooms, where hairy company, collected about stoves,
were playing cards; the cards being very like themselves—extremely limp
and dirty.

Or how there was detention at Marseilles from stress of weather; and
steamers were advertised to go, which did not go; or how the good
Steam-packet Charlemagne at length put out, and met such weather that now
she threatened to run into Toulon, and now into Nice, but, the wind
moderating, did neither, but ran on into Genoa harbour instead, where the
familiar Bells rang sweetly in my ear.  Or how there was a travelling
party on board, of whom one member was very ill in the cabin next to
mine, and being ill was cross, and therefore declined to give up the
Dictionary, which he kept under his pillow; thereby obliging his
companions to come down to him, constantly, to ask what was the Italian
for a lump of sugar—a glass of brandy and water—what’s o’clock? and so
forth: which he always insisted on looking out, with his own sea-sick
eyes, declining to entrust the book to any man alive.

Like GRUMIO, I might have told you, in detail, all this and something
more—but to as little purpose—were I not deterred by the remembrance that
my business is with Italy.  Therefore, like GRUMIO’S story, ‘it shall die
in oblivion.’


THERE is nothing in Italy, more beautiful to me, than the coast-road
between Genoa and Spezzia.  On one side: sometimes far below, sometimes
nearly on a level with the road, and often skirted by broken rocks of
many shapes: there is the free blue sea, with here and there a
picturesque felucca gliding slowly on; on the other side are lofty hills,
ravines besprinkled with white cottages, patches of dark olive woods,
country churches with their light open towers, and country houses gaily
painted.  On every bank and knoll by the wayside, the wild cactus and
aloe flourish in exuberant profusion; and the gardens of the bright
villages along the road, are seen, all blushing in the summer-time with
clusters of the Belladonna, and are fragrant in the autumn and winter
with golden oranges and lemons.

Some of the villages are inhabited, almost exclusively, by fishermen; and
it is pleasant to see their great boats hauled up on the beach, making
little patches of shade, where they lie asleep, or where the women and
children sit romping and looking out to sea, while they mend their nets
upon the shore.  There is one town, Camoglia, with its little harbour on
the sea, hundreds of feet below the road; where families of mariners
live, who, time out of mind, have owned coasting-vessels in that place,
and have traded to Spain and elsewhere.  Seen from the road above, it is
like a tiny model on the margin of the dimpled water, shining in the sun.
Descended into, by the winding mule-tracks, it is a perfect miniature of
a primitive seafaring town; the saltest, roughest, most piratical little
place that ever was seen.  Great rusty iron rings and mooring-chains,
capstans, and fragments of old masts and spars, choke up the way; hardy
rough-weather boats, and seamen’s clothing, flutter in the little harbour
or are drawn out on the sunny stones to dry; on the parapet of the rude
pier, a few amphibious-looking fellows lie asleep, with their legs
dangling over the wall, as though earth or water were all one to them,
and if they slipped in, they would float away, dozing comfortably among
the fishes; the church is bright with trophies of the sea, and votive
offerings, in commemoration of escape from storm and shipwreck.  The
dwellings not immediately abutting on the harbour are approached by blind
low archways, and by crooked steps, as if in darkness and in difficulty
of access they should be like holds of ships, or inconvenient cabins
under water; and everywhere, there is a smell of fish, and sea-weed, and
old rope.

The coast-road whence Camoglia is descried so far below, is famous, in
the warm season, especially in some parts near Genoa, for fire-flies.
Walking there on a dark night, I have seen it made one sparkling
firmament by these beautiful insects: so that the distant stars were pale
against the flash and glitter that spangled every olive wood and
hill-side, and pervaded the whole air.

It was not in such a season, however, that we traversed this road on our
way to Rome.  The middle of January was only just past, and it was very
gloomy and dark weather; very wet besides.  In crossing the fine pass of
Bracco, we encountered such a storm of mist and rain, that we travelled
in a cloud the whole way.  There might have been no Mediterranean in the
world, for anything that we saw of it there, except when a sudden gust of
wind, clearing the mist before it, for a moment, showed the agitated sea
at a great depth below, lashing the distant rocks, and spouting up its
foam furiously.  The rain was incessant; every brook and torrent was
greatly swollen; and such a deafening leaping, and roaring, and
thundering of water, I never heard the like of in my life.

Hence, when we came to Spezzia, we found that the Magra, an unbridged
river on the high-road to Pisa, was too high to be safely crossed in the
Ferry Boat, and were fain to wait until the afternoon of next day, when
it had, in some degree, subsided.  Spezzia, however, is a good place to
tarry at; by reason, firstly, of its beautiful bay; secondly, of its
ghostly Inn; thirdly, of the head-dress of the women, who wear, on one
side of their head, a small doll’s straw hat, stuck on to the hair; which
is certainly the oddest and most roguish head-gear that ever was

The Magra safely crossed in the Ferry Boat—the passage is not by any
means agreeable, when the current is swollen and strong—we arrived at
Carrara, within a few hours.  In good time next morning, we got some
ponies, and went out to see the marble quarries.

They are four or five great glens, running up into a range of lofty
hills, until they can run no longer, and are stopped by being abruptly
strangled by Nature.  The quarries, ‘or caves,’ as they call them there,
are so many openings, high up in the hills, on either side of these
passes, where they blast and excavate for marble: which may turn out good
or bad: may make a man’s fortune very quickly, or ruin him by the great
expense of working what is worth nothing.  Some of these caves were
opened by the ancient Romans, and remain as they left them to this hour.
Many others are being worked at this moment; others are to be begun
to-morrow, next week, next month; others are unbought, unthought of; and
marble enough for more ages than have passed since the place was resorted
to, lies hidden everywhere: patiently awaiting its time of discovery.

As you toil and clamber up one of these steep gorges (having left your
pony soddening his girths in water, a mile or two lower down) you hear,
every now and then, echoing among the hills, in a low tone, more silent
than the previous silence, a melancholy warning bugle,—a signal to the
miners to withdraw.  Then, there is a thundering, and echoing from hill
to hill, and perhaps a splashing up of great fragments of rock into the
air; and on you toil again until some other bugle sounds, in a new
direction, and you stop directly, lest you should come within the range
of the new explosion.

There were numbers of men, working high up in these hills—on the
sides—clearing away, and sending down the broken masses of stone and
earth, to make way for the blocks of marble that had been discovered.  As
these came rolling down from unseen hands into the narrow valley, I could
not help thinking of the deep glen (just the same sort of glen) where the
Roc left Sindbad the Sailor; and where the merchants from the heights
above, flung down great pieces of meat for the diamonds to stick to.
There were no eagles here, to darken the sun in their swoop, and pounce
upon them; but it was as wild and fierce as if there had been hundreds.

But the road, the road down which the marble comes, however immense the
blocks! The genius of the country, and the spirit of its institutions,
pave that road: repair it, watch it, keep it going!  Conceive a channel
of water running over a rocky bed, beset with great heaps of stone of all
shapes and sizes, winding down the middle of this valley; and _that_
being the road—because it was the road five hundred years ago!  Imagine
the clumsy carts of five hundred years ago, being used to this hour, and
drawn, as they used to be, five hundred years ago, by oxen, whose
ancestors were worn to death five hundred years ago, as their unhappy
descendants are now, in twelve months, by the suffering and agony of this
cruel work!  Two pair, four pair, ten pair, twenty pair, to one block,
according to its size; down it must come, this way.  In their struggling
from stone to stone, with their enormous loads behind them, they die
frequently upon the spot; and not they alone; for their passionate
drivers, sometimes tumbling down in their energy, are crushed to death
beneath the wheels.  But it was good five hundred years ago, and it must
be good now: and a railroad down one of these steeps (the easiest thing
in the world) would be flat blasphemy.

When we stood aside, to see one of these cars drawn by only a pair of
oxen (for it had but one small block of marble on it), coming down, I
hailed, in my heart, the man who sat upon the heavy yoke, to keep it on
the neck of the poor beasts—and who faced backwards: not before him—as
the very Devil of true despotism.  He had a great rod in his hand, with
an iron point; and when they could plough and force their way through the
loose bed of the torrent no longer, and came to a stop, he poked it into
their bodies, beat it on their heads, screwed it round and round in their
nostrils, got them on a yard or two, in the madness of intense pain;
repeated all these persuasions, with increased intensity of purpose, when
they stopped again; got them on, once more; forced and goaded them to an
abrupter point of the descent; and when their writhing and smarting, and
the weight behind them, bore them plunging down the precipice in a cloud
of scattered water, whirled his rod above his head, and gave a great
whoop and hallo, as if he had achieved something, and had no idea that
they might shake him off, and blindly mash his brains upon the road, in
the noontide of his triumph.

Standing in one of the many studii of Carrara, that afternoon—for it is a
great workshop, full of beautifully-finished copies in marble, of almost
every figure, group, and bust, we know—it seemed, at first, so strange to
me that those exquisite shapes, replete with grace, and thought, and
delicate repose, should grow out of all this toil, and sweat, and
torture!  But I soon found a parallel to it, and an explanation of it, in
every virtue that springs up in miserable ground, and every good thing
that has its birth in sorrow and distress.  And, looking out of the
sculptor’s great window, upon the marble mountains, all red and glowing
in the decline of day, but stern and solemn to the last, I thought, my
God! how many quarries of human hearts and souls, capable of far more
beautiful results, are left shut up and mouldering away: while
pleasure-travellers through life, avert their faces, as they pass, and
shudder at the gloom and ruggedness that conceal them!

The then reigning Duke of Modena, to whom this territory in part
belonged, claimed the proud distinction of being the only sovereign in
Europe who had not recognised Louis-Philippe as King of the French!  He
was not a wag, but quite in earnest.  He was also much opposed to
railroads; and if certain lines in contemplation by other potentates, on
either side of him, had been executed, would have probably enjoyed the
satisfaction of having an omnibus plying to and fro across his not very
vast dominions, to forward travellers from one terminus to another.

Carrara, shut in by great hills, is very picturesque and bold.  Few
tourists stay there; and the people are nearly all connected, in one way
or other, with the working of marble.  There are also villages among the
caves, where the workmen live.  It contains a beautiful little Theatre,
newly built; and it is an interesting custom there, to form the chorus of
labourers in the marble quarries, who are self-taught and sing by ear.  I
heard them in a comic opera, and in an act of ‘Norma;’ and they acquitted
themselves very well; unlike the common people of Italy generally, who
(with some exceptions among the Neapolitans) sing vilely out of tune, and
have very disagreeable singing voices.

From the summit of a lofty hill beyond Carrara, the first view of the
fertile plain in which the town of Pisa lies—with Leghorn, a purple spot
in the flat distance—is enchanting.  Nor is it only distance that lends
enchantment to the view; for the fruitful country, and rich woods of
olive-trees through which the road subsequently passes, render it

The moon was shining when we approached Pisa, and for a long time we
could see, behind the wall, the leaning Tower, all awry in the uncertain
light; the shadowy original of the old pictures in school-books, setting
forth ‘The Wonders of the World.’  Like most things connected in their
first associations with school-books and school-times, it was too small.
I felt it keenly.  It was nothing like so high above the wall as I had
hoped.  It was another of the many deceptions practised by Mr. Harris,
Bookseller, at the corner of St. Paul’s Churchyard, London.  _His_ Tower
was a fiction, but this was a reality—and, by comparison, a short
reality.  Still, it looked very well, and very strange, and was quite as
much out of the perpendicular as Harris had represented it to be.  The
quiet air of Pisa too; the big guard-house at the gate, with only two
little soldiers in it; the streets with scarcely any show of people in
them; and the Arno, flowing quaintly through the centre of the town; were
excellent.  So, I bore no malice in my heart against Mr. Harris
(remembering his good intentions), but forgave him before dinner, and
went out, full of confidence, to see the Tower next morning.

I might have known better; but, somehow, I had expected to see it,
casting its long shadow on a public street where people came and went all
day.  It was a surprise to me to find it in a grave retired place, apart
from the general resort, and carpeted with smooth green turf.  But, the
group of buildings, clustered on and about this verdant carpet:
comprising the Tower, the Baptistery, the Cathedral, and the Church of
the Campo Santo: is perhaps the most remarkable and beautiful in the
whole world; and from being clustered there, together, away from the
ordinary transactions and details of the town, they have a singularly
venerable and impressive character.  It is the architectural essence of a
rich old city, with all its common life and common habitations pressed
out, and filtered away.

SIMOND compares the Tower to the usual pictorial representations in
children’s books of the Tower of Babel.  It is a happy simile, and
conveys a better idea of the building than chapters of laboured
description.  Nothing can exceed the grace and lightness of the
structure; nothing can be more remarkable than its general appearance.
In the course of the ascent to the top (which is by an easy staircase),
the inclination is not very apparent; but, at the summit, it becomes so,
and gives one the sensation of being in a ship that has heeled over,
through the action of an ebb-tide.  The effect _upon the low side_, so to
speak—looking over from the gallery, and seeing the shaft recede to its
base—is very startling; and I saw a nervous traveller hold on to the
Tower involuntarily, after glancing down, as if he had some idea of
propping it up.  The view within, from the ground—looking up, as through
a slanted tube—is also very curious.  It certainly inclines as much as
the most sanguine tourist could desire.  The natural impulse of
ninety-nine people out of a hundred, who were about to recline upon the
grass below it, to rest, and contemplate the adjacent buildings, would
probably be, not to take up their position under the leaning side; it is
so very much aslant.

The manifold beauties of the Cathedral and Baptistery need no
recapitulation from me; though in this case, as in a hundred others, I
find it difficult to separate my own delight in recalling them, from your
weariness in having them recalled.  There is a picture of St. Agnes, by
Andrea del Sarto, in the former, and there are a variety of rich columns
in the latter, that tempt me strongly.

It is, I hope, no breach of my resolution not to be tempted into
elaborate descriptions, to remember the Campo Santo; where grass-grown
graves are dug in earth brought more than six hundred years ago, from the
Holy Land; and where there are, surrounding them, such cloisters, with
such playing lights and shadows falling through their delicate tracery on
the stone pavement, as surely the dullest memory could never forget.  On
the walls of this solemn and lovely place, are ancient frescoes, very
much obliterated and decayed, but very curious.  As usually happens in
almost any collection of paintings, of any sort, in Italy, where there
are many heads, there is, in one of them, a striking accidental likeness
of Napoleon.  At one time, I used to please my fancy with the speculation
whether these old painters, at their work, had a foreboding knowledge of
the man who would one day arise to wreak such destruction upon art: whose
soldiers would make targets of great pictures, and stable their horses
among triumphs of architecture.  But the same Corsican face is so
plentiful in some parts of Italy at this day, that a more commonplace
solution of the coincidence is unavoidable.

If Pisa be the seventh wonder of the world in right of its Tower, it may
claim to be, at least, the second or third in right of its beggars.  They
waylay the unhappy visitor at every turn, escort him to every door he
enters at, and lie in wait for him, with strong reinforcements, at every
door by which they know he must come out.  The grating of the portal on
its hinges is the signal for a general shout, and the moment he appears,
he is hemmed in, and fallen on, by heaps of rags and personal
distortions.  The beggars seem to embody all the trade and enterprise of
Pisa.  Nothing else is stirring, but warm air.  Going through the
streets, the fronts of the sleepy houses look like backs.  They are all
so still and quiet, and unlike houses with people in them, that the
greater part of the city has the appearance of a city at daybreak, or
during a general siesta of the population.  Or it is yet more like those
backgrounds of houses in common prints, or old engravings, where windows
and doors are squarely indicated, and one figure (a beggar of course) is
seen walking off by itself into illimitable perspective.

Not so Leghorn (made illustrious by SMOLLETT’S grave), which is a
thriving, business-like, matter-of-fact place, where idleness is
shouldered out of the way by commerce.  The regulations observed there,
in reference to trade and merchants, are very liberal and free; and the
town, of course, benefits by them.  Leghorn had a bad name in connection
with stabbers, and with some justice it must be allowed; for, not many
years ago, there was an assassination club there, the members of which
bore no ill-will to anybody in particular, but stabbed people (quite
strangers to them) in the streets at night, for the pleasure and
excitement of the recreation.  I think the president of this amiable
society was a shoemaker.  He was taken, however, and the club was broken
up.  It would, probably, have disappeared in the natural course of
events, before the railroad between Leghorn and Pisa, which is a good
one, and has already begun to astonish Italy with a precedent of
punctuality, order, plain dealing, and improvement—the most dangerous and
heretical astonisher of all.  There must have been a slight sensation, as
of earthquake, surely, in the Vatican, when the first Italian railroad
was thrown open.

Returning to Pisa, and hiring a good-tempered Vetturíno, and his four
horses, to take us on to Rome, we travelled through pleasant Tuscan
villages and cheerful scenery all day.  The roadside crosses in this part
of Italy are numerous and curious.  There is seldom a figure on the
cross, though there is sometimes a face, but they are remarkable for
being garnished with little models in wood, of every possible object that
can be connected with the Saviour’s death.  The cock that crowed when
Peter had denied his Master thrice, is usually perched on the tip-top;
and an ornithological phenomenon he generally is.  Under him, is the
inscription.  Then, hung on to the cross-beam, are the spear, the reed
with the sponge of vinegar and water at the end, the coat without seam
for which the soldiers cast lots, the dice-box with which they threw for
it, the hammer that drove in the nails, the pincers that pulled them out,
the ladder which was set against the cross, the crown of thorns, the
instrument of flagellation, the lanthorn with which Mary went to the tomb
(I suppose), and the sword with which Peter smote the servant of the high
priest,—a perfect toy-shop of little objects, repeated at every four or
five miles, all along the highway.

On the evening of the second day from Pisa, we reached the beautiful old
city of Siena.  There was what they called a Carnival, in progress; but,
as its secret lay in a score or two of melancholy people walking up and
down the principal street in common toy-shop masks, and being more
melancholy, if possible, than the same sort of people in England, I say
no more of it.  We went off, betimes next morning, to see the Cathedral,
which is wonderfully picturesque inside and out, especially the
latter—also the market-place, or great Piazza, which is a large square,
with a great broken-nosed fountain in it: some quaint Gothic houses: and
a high square brick tower; _outside_ the top of which—a curious feature
in such views in Italy—hangs an enormous bell.  It is like a bit of
Venice, without the water.  There are some curious old Palazzi in the
town, which is very ancient; and without having (for me) the interest of
Verona, or Genoa, it is very dreamy and fantastic, and most interesting.

We went on again, as soon as we had seen these things, and going over a
rather bleak country (there had been nothing but vines until now: mere
walking-sticks at that season of the year), stopped, as usual, between
one and two hours in the middle of the day, to rest the horses; that
being a part of every Vetturíno contract.  We then went on again, through
a region gradually becoming bleaker and wilder, until it became as bare
and desolate as any Scottish moors.  Soon after dark, we halted for the
night, at the osteria of La Scala: a perfectly lone house, where the
family were sitting round a great fire in the kitchen, raised on a stone
platform three or four feet high, and big enough for the roasting of an
ox.  On the upper, and only other floor of this hotel, there was a great,
wild, rambling sála, with one very little window in a by-corner, and four
black doors opening into four black bedrooms in various directions.  To
say nothing of another large black door, opening into another large black
sála, with the staircase coming abruptly through a kind of trap-door in
the floor, and the rafters of the roof looming above: a suspicious little
press skulking in one obscure corner: and all the knives in the house
lying about in various directions.  The fireplace was of the purest
Italian architecture, so that it was perfectly impossible to see it for
the smoke.  The waitress was like a dramatic brigand’s wife, and wore the
same style of dress upon her head.  The dogs barked like mad; the echoes
returned the compliments bestowed upon them; there was not another house
within twelve miles; and things had a dreary, and rather a cut-throat,

They were not improved by rumours of robbers having come out, strong and
boldly, within a few nights; and of their having stopped the mail very
near that place.  They were known to have waylaid some travellers not
long before, on Mount Vesuvius itself, and were the talk at all the
roadside inns.  As they were no business of ours, however (for we had
very little with us to lose), we made ourselves merry on the subject, and
were very soon as comfortable as need be.  We had the usual dinner in
this solitary house; and a very good dinner it is, when you are used to
it.  There is something with a vegetable or some rice in it which is a
sort of shorthand or arbitrary character for soup, and which tastes very
well, when you have flavoured it with plenty of grated cheese, lots of
salt, and abundance of pepper.  There is the half fowl of which this soup
has been made.  There is a stewed pigeon, with the gizzards and livers of
himself and other birds stuck all round him.  There is a bit of roast
beef, the size of a small French roll.  There are a scrap of Parmesan
cheese, and five little withered apples, all huddled together on a small
plate, and crowding one upon the other, as if each were trying to save
itself from the chance of being eaten.  Then there is coffee; and then
there is bed.  You don’t mind brick floors; you don’t mind yawning doors,
nor banging windows; you don’t mind your own horses being stabled under
the bed: and so close, that every time a horse coughs or sneezes, he
wakes you.  If you are good-humoured to the people about you, and speak
pleasantly, and look cheerful, take my word for it you may be well
entertained in the very worst Italian Inn, and always in the most
obliging manner, and may go from one end of the country to the other
(despite all stories to the contrary) without any great trial of your
patience anywhere.  Especially, when you get such wine in flasks, as the
Orvieto, and the Monte Pulciano.

It was a bad morning when we left this place; and we went, for twelve
miles, over a country as barren, as stony, and as wild, as Cornwall in
England, until we came to Radicofani, where there is a ghostly, goblin
inn: once a hunting-seat, belonging to the Dukes of Tuscany.  It is full
of such rambling corridors, and gaunt rooms, that all the murdering and
phantom tales that ever were written might have originated in that one
house.  There are some horrible old Palazzi in Genoa: one in particular,
not unlike it, outside: but there is a winding, creaking, wormy,
rustling, door-opening, foot-on-staircase-falling character about this
Radicofani Hotel, such as I never saw, anywhere else.  The town, such as
it is, hangs on a hill-side above the house, and in front of it.  The
inhabitants are all beggars; and as soon as they see a carriage coming,
they swoop down upon it, like so many birds of prey.

When we got on the mountain pass, which lies beyond this place, the wind
(as they had forewarned us at the inn) was so terrific, that we were
obliged to take my other half out of the carriage, lest she should be
blown over, carriage and all, and to hang to it, on the windy side (as
well as we could for laughing), to prevent its going, Heaven knows where.
For mere force of wind, this land-storm might have competed with an
Atlantic gale, and had a reasonable chance of coming off victorious.  The
blast came sweeping down great gullies in a range of mountains on the
right: so that we looked with positive awe at a great morass on the left,
and saw that there was not a bush or twig to hold by.  It seemed as if,
once blown from our feet, we must be swept out to sea, or away into
space.  There was snow, and hail, and rain, and lightning, and thunder;
and there were rolling mists, travelling with incredible velocity.  It
was dark, awful, and solitary to the last degree; there were mountains
above mountains, veiled in angry clouds; and there was such a wrathful,
rapid, violent, tumultuous hurry, everywhere, as rendered the scene
unspeakably exciting and grand.

It was a relief to get out of it, notwithstanding; and to cross even the
dismal, dirty Papal Frontier.  After passing through two little towns; in
one of which, Acquapendente, there was also a ‘Carnival’ in progress:
consisting of one man dressed and masked as a woman, and one woman
dressed and masked as a man, walking ankle-deep, through the muddy
streets, in a very melancholy manner: we came, at dusk, within sight of
the Lake of Bolsena, on whose bank there is a little town of the same
name, much celebrated for malaria.  With the exception of this poor
place, there is not a cottage on the banks of the lake, or near it (for
nobody dare sleep there); not a boat upon its waters; not a stick or
stake to break the dismal monotony of seven-and-twenty watery miles.  We
were late in getting in, the roads being very bad from heavy rains; and,
after dark, the dulness of the scene was quite intolerable.

We entered on a very different, and a finer scene of desolation, next
night, at sunset.  We had passed through Montefiaschone (famous for its
wine) and Viterbo (for its fountains): and after climbing up a long hill
of eight or ten miles’ extent, came suddenly upon the margin of a
solitary lake: in one part very beautiful, with a luxuriant wood; in
another, very barren, and shut in by bleak volcanic hills.  Where this
lake flows, there stood, of old, a city.  It was swallowed up one day;
and in its stead, this water rose.  There are ancient traditions (common
to many parts of the world) of the ruined city having been seen below,
when the water was clear; but however that may be, from this spot of
earth it vanished.  The ground came bubbling up above it; and the water
too; and here they stand, like ghosts on whom the other world closed
suddenly, and who have no means of getting back again.  They seem to be
waiting the course of ages, for the next earthquake in that place; when
they will plunge below the ground, at its first yawning, and be seen no
more.  The unhappy city below, is not more lost and dreary, than these
fire-charred hills and the stagnant water, above.  The red sun looked
strangely on them, as with the knowledge that they were made for caverns
and darkness; and the melancholy water oozed and sucked the mud, and
crept quietly among the marshy grass and reeds, as if the overthrow of
all the ancient towers and housetops, and the death of all the ancient
people born and bred there, were yet heavy on its conscience.

A short ride from this lake, brought us to Ronciglione; a little town
like a large pig-sty, where we passed the night.  Next morning at seven
o’clock, we started for Rome.

As soon as we were out of the pig-sty, we entered on the Campagna Romana;
an undulating flat (as you know), where few people can live; and where,
for miles and miles, there is nothing to relieve the terrible monotony
and gloom.  Of all kinds of country that could, by possibility, lie
outside the gates of Rome, this is the aptest and fittest burial-ground
for the Dead City.  So sad, so quiet, so sullen; so secret in its
covering up of great masses of ruin, and hiding them; so like the waste
places into which the men possessed with devils used to go and howl, and
rend themselves, in the old days of Jerusalem.  We had to traverse thirty
miles of this Campagna; and for two-and-twenty we went on and on, seeing
nothing but now and then a lonely house, or a villainous-looking
shepherd: with matted hair all over his face, and himself wrapped to the
chin in a frowsy brown mantle, tending his sheep.  At the end of that
distance, we stopped to refresh the horses, and to get some lunch, in a
common malaria-shaken, despondent little public-house, whose every inch
of wall and beam, inside, was (according to custom) painted and decorated
in a way so miserable that every room looked like the wrong side of
another room, and, with its wretched imitation of drapery, and lop-sided
little daubs of lyres, seemed to have been plundered from behind the
scenes of some travelling circus.

When we were fairly going off again, we began, in a perfect fever, to
strain our eyes for Rome; and when, after another mile or two, the
Eternal City appeared, at length, in the distance; it looked like—I am
half afraid to write the word—like LONDON!!!  There it lay, under a thick
cloud, with innumerable towers, and steeples, and roofs of houses, rising
up into the sky, and high above them all, one Dome.  I swear, that keenly
as I felt the seeming absurdity of the comparison, it was so like London,
at that distance, that if you could have shown it me, in a glass, I
should have taken it for nothing else.


WE entered the Eternal City, at about four o’clock in the afternoon, on
the thirtieth of January, by the Porta del Popolo, and came
immediately—it was a dark, muddy day, and there had been heavy rain—on
the skirts of the Carnival.  We did not, then, know that we were only
looking at the fag end of the masks, who were driving slowly round and
round the Piazza until they could find a promising opportunity for
falling into the stream of carriages, and getting, in good time, into the
thick of the festivity; and coming among them so abruptly, all
travel-stained and weary, was not coming very well prepared to enjoy the

We had crossed the Tiber by the Ponte Molle two or three miles before.
It had looked as yellow as it ought to look, and hurrying on between its
worn-away and miry banks, had a promising aspect of desolation and ruin.
The masquerade dresses on the fringe of the Carnival, did great violence
to this promise.  There were no great ruins, no solemn tokens of
antiquity, to be seen;—they all lie on the other side of the city.  There
seemed to be long streets of commonplace shops and houses, such as are to
be found in any European town; there were busy people, equipages,
ordinary walkers to and fro; a multitude of chattering strangers.  It was
no more _my_ Rome: the Rome of anybody’s fancy, man or boy; degraded and
fallen and lying asleep in the sun among a heap of ruins: than the Place
de la Concorde in Paris is.  A cloudy sky, a dull cold rain, and muddy
streets, I was prepared for, but not for this: and I confess to having
gone to bed, that night, in a very indifferent humour, and with a very
considerably quenched enthusiasm.

Immediately on going out next day, we hurried off to St. Peter’s.  It
looked immense in the distance, but distinctly and decidedly small, by
comparison, on a near approach.  The beauty of the Piazza, on which it
stands, with its clusters of exquisite columns, and its gushing
fountains—so fresh, so broad, and free, and beautiful—nothing can
exaggerate.  The first burst of the interior, in all its expansive
majesty and glory: and, most of all, the looking up into the Dome: is a
sensation never to be forgotten.  But, there were preparations for a
Festa; the pillars of stately marble were swathed in some impertinent
frippery of red and yellow; the altar, and entrance to the subterranean
chapel: which is before it: in the centre of the church: were like a
goldsmith’s shop, or one of the opening scenes in a very lavish
pantomime.  And though I had as high a sense of the beauty of the
building (I hope) as it is possible to entertain, I felt no very strong
emotion.  I have been infinitely more affected in many English cathedrals
when the organ has been playing, and in many English country churches
when the congregation have been singing.  I had a much greater sense of
mystery and wonder, in the Cathedral of San Mark at Venice.

When we came out of the church again (we stood nearly an hour staring up
into the dome: and would not have ‘gone over’ the Cathedral then, for any
money), we said to the coachman, ‘Go to the Coliseum.’  In a quarter of
an hour or so, he stopped at the gate, and we went in.

It is no fiction, but plain, sober, honest Truth, to say: so suggestive
and distinct is it at this hour: that, for a moment—actually in passing
in—they who will, may have the whole great pile before them, as it used
to be, with thousands of eager faces staring down into the arena, and
such a whirl of strife, and blood, and dust going on there, as no
language can describe.  Its solitude, its awful beauty, and its utter
desolation, strike upon the stranger the next moment, like a softened
sorrow; and never in his life, perhaps, will he be so moved and overcome
by any sight, not immediately connected with his own affections and

To see it crumbling there, an inch a year; its walls and arches overgrown
with green; its corridors open to the day; the long grass growing in its
porches; young trees of yesterday, springing up on its ragged parapets,
and bearing fruit: chance produce of the seeds dropped there by the birds
who build their nests within its chinks and crannies; to see its Pit of
Fight filled up with earth, and the peaceful Cross planted in the centre;
to climb into its upper halls, and look down on ruin, ruin, ruin, all
about it; the triumphal arches of Constantine, Septimus Severus, and
Titus; the Roman Forum; the Palace of the Cæsars; the temples of the old
religion, fallen down and gone; is to see the ghost of old Rome, wicked,
wonderful old city, haunting the very ground on which its people trod.
It is the most impressive, the most stately, the most solemn, grand,
majestic, mournful sight, conceivable.  Never, in its bloodiest prime,
can the sight of the gigantic Coliseum, full and running over with the
lustiest life, have moved one’s heart, as it must move all who look upon
it now, a ruin.  GOD be thanked: a ruin!

As it tops the other ruins: standing there, a mountain among graves: so
do its ancient influences outlive all other remnants of the old mythology
and old butchery of Rome, in the nature of the fierce and cruel Roman
people.  The Italian face changes as the visitor approaches the city; its
beauty becomes devilish; and there is scarcely one countenance in a
hundred, among the common people in the streets, that would not be at
home and happy in a renovated Coliseum to-morrow.

Here was Rome indeed at last; and such a Rome as no one can imagine in
its full and awful grandeur!  We wandered out upon the Appian Way, and
then went on, through miles of ruined tombs and broken walls, with here
and there a desolate and uninhabited house: past the Circus of Romulus,
where the course of the chariots, the stations of the judges,
competitors, and spectators, are yet as plainly to be seen as in old
time: past the tomb of Cecilia Metella: past all inclosure, hedge, or
stake, wall or fence: away upon the open Campagna, where on that side of
Rome, nothing is to be beheld but Ruin.  Except where the distant
Apennines bound the view upon the left, the whole wide prospect is one
field of ruin.  Broken aqueducts, left in the most picturesque and
beautiful clusters of arches; broken temples; broken tombs.  A desert of
decay, sombre and desolate beyond all expression; and with a history in
every stone that strews the ground.

                                * * * * *

On Sunday, the Pope assisted in the performance of High Mass at St.
Peter’s.  The effect of the Cathedral on my mind, on that second visit,
was exactly what it was at first, and what it remains after many visits.
It is not religiously impressive or affecting.  It is an immense edifice,
with no one point for the mind to rest upon; and it tires itself with
wandering round and round.  The very purpose of the place, is not
expressed in anything you see there, unless you examine its details—and
all examination of details is incompatible with the place itself.  It
might be a Pantheon, or a Senate House, or a great architectural trophy,
having no other object than an architectural triumph.  There is a black
statue of St. Peter, to be sure, under a red canopy; which is larger than
life and which is constantly having its great toe kissed by good
Catholics.  You cannot help seeing that: it is so very prominent and
popular.  But it does not heighten the effect of the temple, as a work of
art; and it is not expressive—to me at least—of its high purpose.

A large space behind the altar, was fitted up with boxes, shaped like
those at the Italian Opera in England, but in their decoration much more
gaudy.  In the centre of the kind of theatre thus railed off, was a
canopied dais with the Pope’s chair upon it.  The pavement was covered
with a carpet of the brightest green; and what with this green, and the
intolerable reds and crimsons, and gold borders of the hangings, the
whole concern looked like a stupendous Bonbon.  On either side of the
altar, was a large box for lady strangers.  These were filled with ladies
in black dresses and black veils.  The gentlemen of the Pope’s guard, in
red coats, leather breeches, and jack-boots, guarded all this reserved
space, with drawn swords that were very flashy in every sense; and from
the altar all down the nave, a broad lane was kept clear by the Pope’s
Swiss guard, who wear a quaint striped surcoat, and striped tight legs,
and carry halberds like those which are usually shouldered by those
theatrical supernumeraries, who never _can_ get off the stage fast
enough, and who may be generally observed to linger in the enemy’s camp
after the open country, held by the opposite forces, has been split up
the middle by a convulsion of Nature.

I got upon the border of the green carpet, in company with a great many
other gentlemen, attired in black (no other passport is necessary), and
stood there at my ease, during the performance of Mass.  The singers were
in a crib of wirework (like a large meat-safe or bird-cage) in one
corner; and sang most atrociously.  All about the green carpet, there was
a slowly moving crowd of people: talking to each other: staring at the
Pope through eye-glasses; defrauding one another, in moments of partial
curiosity, out of precarious seats on the bases of pillars: and grinning
hideously at the ladies.  Dotted here and there, were little knots of
friars (Frances-cáni, or Cappuccíni, in their coarse brown dresses and
peaked hoods) making a strange contrast to the gaudy ecclesiastics of
higher degree, and having their humility gratified to the utmost, by
being shouldered about, and elbowed right and left, on all sides.  Some
of these had muddy sandals and umbrellas, and stained garments: having
trudged in from the country.  The faces of the greater part were as
coarse and heavy as their dress; their dogged, stupid, monotonous stare
at all the glory and splendour, having something in it, half miserable,
and half ridiculous.

Upon the green carpet itself, and gathered round the altar, was a perfect
army of cardinals and priests, in red, gold, purple, violet, white, and
fine linen.  Stragglers from these, went to and fro among the crowd,
conversing two and two, or giving and receiving introductions, and
exchanging salutations; other functionaries in black gowns, and other
functionaries in court-dresses, were similarly engaged.  In the midst of
all these, and stealthy Jesuits creeping in and out, and the extreme
restlessness of the Youth of England, who were perpetually wandering
about, some few steady persons in black cassocks, who had knelt down with
their faces to the wall, and were poring over their missals, became,
unintentionally, a sort of humane man-traps, and with their own devout
legs, tripped up other people’s by the dozen.

There was a great pile of candles lying down on the floor near me, which
a very old man in a rusty black gown with an open-work tippet, like a
summer ornament for a fireplace in tissue-paper, made himself very busy
in dispensing to all the ecclesiastics: one a-piece.  They loitered about
with these for some time, under their arms like walking-sticks, or in
their hands like truncheons.  At a certain period of the ceremony,
however, each carried his candle up to the Pope, laid it across his two
knees to be blessed, took it back again, and filed off.  This was done in
a very attenuated procession, as you may suppose, and occupied a long
time.  Not because it takes long to bless a candle through and through,
but because there were so many candles to be blessed.  At last they were
all blessed: and then they were all lighted; and then the Pope was taken
up, chair and all, and carried round the church.

I must say, that I never saw anything, out of November, so like the
popular English commemoration of the fifth of that month.  A bundle of
matches and a lantern, would have made it perfect.  Nor did the Pope,
himself, at all mar the resemblance, though he has a pleasant and
venerable face; for, as this part of the ceremony makes him giddy and
sick, he shuts his eyes when it is performed: and having his eyes shut
and a great mitre on his head, and his head itself wagging to and fro as
they shook him in carrying, he looked as if his mask were going to tumble
off.  The two immense fans which are always borne, one on either side of
him, accompanied him, of course, on this occasion.  As they carried him
along, he blessed the people with the mystic sign; and as he passed them,
they kneeled down.  When he had made the round of the church, he was
brought back again, and if I am not mistaken, this performance was
repeated, in the whole, three times.  There was, certainly nothing solemn
or effective in it; and certainly very much that was droll and tawdry.
But this remark applies to the whole ceremony, except the raising of the
Host, when every man in the guard dropped on one knee instantly, and
dashed his naked sword on the ground; which had a fine effect.

The next time I saw the cathedral, was some two or three weeks
afterwards, when I climbed up into the ball; and then, the hangings being
taken down, and the carpet taken up, but all the framework left, the
remnants of these decorations looked like an exploded cracker.

                                * * * * *

The Friday and Saturday having been solemn Festa days, and Sunday being
always a _dies non_ in carnival proceedings, we had looked forward, with
some impatience and curiosity, to the beginning of the new week: Monday
and Tuesday being the two last and best days of the Carnival.

On the Monday afternoon at one or two o’clock, there began to be a great
rattling of carriages into the court-yard of the hotel; a hurrying to and
fro of all the servants in it; and, now and then, a swift shooting across
some doorway or balcony, of a straggling stranger in a fancy dress: not
yet sufficiently well used to the same, to wear it with confidence, and
defy public opinion.  All the carriages were open, and had the linings
carefully covered with white cotton or calico, to prevent their proper
decorations from being spoiled by the incessant pelting of sugar-plums;
and people were packing and cramming into every vehicle as it waited for
its occupants, enormous sacks and baskets full of these confétti,
together with such heaps of flowers, tied up in little nosegays, that
some carriages were not only brimful of flowers, but literally running
over: scattering, at every shake and jerk of the springs, some of their
abundance on the ground.  Not to be behindhand in these essential
particulars, we caused two very respectable sacks of sugar-plums (each
about three feet high) and a large clothes-basket full of flowers to be
conveyed into our hired barouche, with all speed.  And from our place of
observation, in one of the upper balconies of the hotel, we contemplated
these arrangements with the liveliest satisfaction.  The carriages now
beginning to take up their company, and move away, we got into ours, and
drove off too, armed with little wire masks for our faces; the
sugar-plums, like Falstaff’s adulterated sack, having lime in their

The Corso is a street a mile long; a street of shops, and palaces, and
private houses, sometimes opening into a broad piazza.  There are
verandahs and balconies, of all shapes and sizes, to almost every
house—not on one story alone, but often to one room or another on every
story—put there in general with so little order or regularity, that if,
year after year, and season after season, it had rained balconies, hailed
balconies, snowed balconies, blown balconies, they could scarcely have
come into existence in a more disorderly manner.

This is the great fountain-head and focus of the Carnival.  But all the
streets in which the Carnival is held, being vigilantly kept by dragoons,
it is necessary for carriages, in the first instance, to pass, in line,
down another thoroughfare, and so come into the Corso at the end remote
from the Piázza del Popolo; which is one of its terminations.
Accordingly, we fell into the string of coaches, and, for some time,
jogged on quietly enough; now crawling on at a very slow walk; now
trotting half-a-dozen yards; now backing fifty; and now stopping
altogether: as the pressure in front obliged us.  If any impetuous
carriage dashed out of the rank and clattered forward, with the wild idea
of getting on faster, it was suddenly met, or overtaken, by a trooper on
horseback, who, deaf as his own drawn sword to all remonstrances,
immediately escorted it back to the very end of the row, and made it a
dim speck in the remotest perspective.  Occasionally, we interchanged a
volley of confétti with the carriage next in front, or the carriage next
behind; but as yet, this capturing of stray and errant coaches by the
military, was the chief amusement.

Presently, we came into a narrow street, where, besides one line of
carriages going, there was another line of carriages returning.  Here the
sugar-plums and the nosegays began to fly about, pretty smartly; and I
was fortunate enough to observe one gentleman attired as a Greek warrior,
catch a light-whiskered brigand on the nose (he was in the very act of
tossing up a bouquet to a young lady in a first-floor window) with a
precision that was much applauded by the bystanders.  As this victorious
Greek was exchanging a facetious remark with a stout gentleman in a
doorway—one-half black and one-half white, as if he had been peeled up
the middle—who had offered him his congratulations on this achievement,
he received an orange from a housetop, full on his left ear, and was much
surprised, not to say discomfited.  Especially, as he was standing up at
the time; and in consequence of the carriage moving on suddenly, at the
same moment, staggered ignominiously, and buried himself among his

Some quarter of an hour of this sort of progress, brought us to the
Corso; and anything so gay, so bright, and lively as the whole scene
there, it would be difficult to imagine.  From all the innumerable
balconies: from the remotest and highest, no less than from the lowest
and nearest: hangings of bright red, bright green, bright blue, white and
gold, were fluttering in the brilliant sunlight.  From windows, and from
parapets, and tops of houses, streamers of the richest colours, and
draperies of the gaudiest and most sparkling hues, were floating out upon
the street.  The buildings seemed to have been literally turned inside
out, and to have all their gaiety towards the highway.  Shop-fronts were
taken down, and the windows filled with company, like boxes at a shining
theatre; doors were carried off their hinges, and long tapestried groves,
hung with garlands of flowers and evergreens, displayed within; builders’
scaffoldings were gorgeous temples, radiant in silver, gold, and crimson;
and in every nook and corner, from the pavement to the chimney-tops,
where women’s eyes could glisten, there they danced, and laughed, and
sparkled, like the light in water.  Every sort of bewitching madness of
dress was there.  Little preposterous scarlet jackets; quaint old
stomachers, more wicked than the smartest bodices; Polish pelisses,
strained and tight as ripe gooseberries; tiny Greek caps, all awry, and
clinging to the dark hair, Heaven knows how; every wild, quaint, bold,
shy, pettish, madcap fancy had its illustration in a dress; and every
fancy was as dead forgotten by its owner, in the tumult of merriment, as
if the three old aqueducts that still remain entire had brought Lethe
into Rome, upon their sturdy arches, that morning.

The carriages were now three abreast; in broader places four; often
stationary for a long time together, always one close mass of variegated
brightness; showing, the whole street-full, through the storm of flowers,
like flowers of a larger growth themselves.  In some, the horses were
richly caparisoned in magnificent trappings; in others they were decked
from head to tail, with flowing ribbons.  Some were driven by coachmen
with enormous double faces: one face leering at the horses: the other
cocking its extraordinary eyes into the carriage: and both rattling
again, under the hail of sugar-plums.  Other drivers were attired as
women, wearing long ringlets and no bonnets, and looking more ridiculous
in any real difficulty with the horses (of which, in such a concourse,
there were a great many) than tongue can tell, or pen describe.  Instead
of sitting _in_ the carriages, upon the seats, the handsome Roman women,
to see and to be seen the better, sit in the heads of the barouches, at
this time of general licence, with their feet upon the cushions—and oh,
the flowing skirts and dainty waists, the blessed shapes and laughing
faces, the free, good-humoured, gallant figures that they make! There
were great vans, too, full of handsome girls—thirty, or more together,
perhaps—and the broadsides that were poured into, and poured out of,
these fairy fire-shops, splashed the air with flowers and bon-bons for
ten minutes at a time.  Carriages, delayed long in one place, would begin
a deliberate engagement with other carriages, or with people at the lower
windows; and the spectators at some upper balcony or window, joining in
the fray, and attacking both parties, would empty down great bags of
confétti, that descended like a cloud, and in an instant made them white
as millers.  Still, carriages on carriages, dresses on dresses, colours
on colours, crowds upon crowds, without end.  Men and boys clinging to
the wheels of coaches, and holding on behind, and following in their
wake, and diving in among the horses’ feet to pick up scattered flowers
to sell again; maskers on foot (the drollest generally) in fantastic
exaggerations of court-dresses, surveying the throng through enormous
eye-glasses, and always transported with an ecstasy of love, on the
discovery of any particularly old lady at a window; long strings of
Policinelli, laying about them with blown bladders at the ends of sticks;
a waggon-full of madmen, screaming and tearing to the life; a coach-full
of grave mamelukes, with their horse-tail standard set up in the midst; a
party of gipsy-women engaged in terrific conflict with a shipful of
sailors; a man-monkey on a pole, surrounded by strange animals with pigs’
faces, and lions’ tails, carried under their arms, or worn gracefully
over their shoulders; carriages on carriages, dresses on dresses, colours
on colours, crowds upon crowds, without end.  Not many actual characters
sustained, or represented, perhaps, considering the number dressed, but
the main pleasure of the scene consisting in its perfect good temper; in
its bright, and infinite, and flashing variety; and in its entire
abandonment to the mad humour of the time—an abandonment so perfect, so
contagious, so irresistible, that the steadiest foreigner fights up to
his middle in flowers and sugar-plums, like the wildest Roman of them
all, and thinks of nothing else till half-past four o’clock, when he is
suddenly reminded (to his great regret) that this is not the whole
business of his existence, by hearing the trumpets sound, and seeing the
dragoons begin to clear the street.

How it ever _is_ cleared for the race that takes place at five, or how
the horses ever go through the race, without going over the people, is
more than I can say.  But the carriages get out into the by-streets, or
up into the Piázza del Popolo, and some people sit in temporary galleries
in the latter place, and tens of thousands line the Corso on both sides,
when the horses are brought out into the Piázza—to the foot of that same
column which, for centuries, looked down upon the games and chariot-races
in the Circus Maximus.

At a given signal they are started off.  Down the live lane, the whole
length of the Corso, they fly like the wind: riderless, as all the world
knows: with shining ornaments upon their backs, and twisted in their
plaited manes: and with heavy little balls stuck full of spikes, dangling
at their sides, to goad them on.  The jingling of these trappings, and
the rattling of their hoofs upon the hard stones; the dash and fury of
their speed along the echoing street; nay, the very cannon that are
fired—these noises are nothing to the roaring of the multitude: their
shouts: the clapping of their hands.  But it is soon over—almost
instantaneously.  More cannon shake the town.  The horses have plunged
into the carpets put across the street to stop them; the goal is reached;
the prizes are won (they are given, in part, by the poor Jews, as a
compromise for not running foot-races themselves); and there is an end to
that day’s sport.

But if the scene be bright, and gay, and crowded, on the last day but
one, it attains, on the concluding day, to such a height of glittering
colour, swarming life, and frolicsome uproar, that the bare recollection
of it makes me giddy at this moment.  The same diversions, greatly
heightened and intensified in the ardour with which they are pursued, go
on until the same hour.  The race is repeated; the cannon are fired; the
shouting and clapping of hands are renewed; the cannon are fired again;
the race is over; and the prizes are won.  But the carriages: ankle-deep
with sugar-plums within, and so be-flowered and dusty without, as to be
hardly recognisable for the same vehicles that they were, three hours
ago: instead of scampering off in all directions, throng into the Corso,
where they are soon wedged together in a scarcely moving mass.  For the
diversion of the Moccoletti, the last gay madness of the Carnival, is now
at hand; and sellers of little tapers like what are called Christmas
candles in England, are shouting lustily on every side, ‘Moccoli,
Moccoli!  Ecco Moccoli!’—a new item in the tumult; quite abolishing that
other item of ‘Ecco Fióri!  Ecco Fior-r-r!’ which has been making itself
audible over all the rest, at intervals, the whole day through.

As the bright hangings and dresses are all fading into one dull, heavy,
uniform colour in the decline of the day, lights begin flashing, here and
there: in the windows, on the housetops, in the balconies, in the
carriages, in the hands of the foot-passengers: little by little:
gradually, gradually: more and more: until the whole long street is one
great glare and blaze of fire.  Then, everybody present has but one
engrossing object; that is, to extinguish other people’s candles, and to
keep his own alight; and everybody: man, woman, or child, gentleman or
lady, prince or peasant, native or foreigner: yells and screams, and
roars incessantly, as a taunt to the subdued, ‘Senza Moccolo, Senza
Moccolo!’  (Without a light!  Without a light!) until nothing is heard
but a gigantic chorus of those two words, mingled with peals of laughter.

The spectacle, at this time, is one of the most extraordinary that can be
imagined.  Carriages coming slowly by, with everybody standing on the
seats or on the box, holding up their lights at arms’ length, for greater
safety; some in paper shades; some with a bunch of undefended little
tapers, kindled altogether; some with blazing torches; some with feeble
little candles; men on foot, creeping along, among the wheels, watching
their opportunity, to make a spring at some particular light, and dash it
out; other people climbing up into carriages, to get hold of them by main
force; others, chasing some unlucky wanderer, round and round his own
coach, to blow out the light he has begged or stolen somewhere, before he
can ascend to his own company, and enable them to light their
extinguished tapers; others, with their hats off, at a carriage-door,
humbly beseeching some kind-hearted lady to oblige them with a light for
a cigar, and when she is in the fulness of doubt whether to comply or no,
blowing out the candle she is guarding so tenderly with her little hand;
other people at the windows, fishing for candles with lines and hooks, or
letting down long willow-wands with handkerchiefs at the end, and
flapping them out, dexterously, when the bearer is at the height of his
triumph, others, biding their time in corners, with immense extinguishers
like halberds, and suddenly coming down upon glorious torches; others,
gathered round one coach, and sticking to it; others, raining oranges and
nosegays at an obdurate little lantern, or regularly storming a pyramid
of men, holding up one man among them, who carries one feeble little wick
above his head, with which he defies them all!  Senza Moccolo!  Senza
Moccolo!  Beautiful women, standing up in coaches, pointing in derision
at extinguished lights, and clapping their hands, as they pass on,
crying, ‘Senza Moccolo!  Senza Moccolo!’; low balconies full of lovely
faces and gay dresses, struggling with assailants in the streets; some
repressing them as they climb up, some bending down, some leaning over,
some shrinking back—delicate arms and bosoms—graceful figures—glowing
lights, fluttering dresses, Senza Moccolo, Senza Moccoli, Senza
Moc-co-lo-o-o-o!—when in the wildest enthusiasm of the cry, and fullest
ecstasy of the sport, the Ave Maria rings from the church steeples, and
the Carnival is over in an instant—put out like a taper, with a breath!

There was a masquerade at the theatre at night, as dull and senseless as
a London one, and only remarkable for the summary way in which the house
was cleared at eleven o’clock: which was done by a line of soldiers
forming along the wall, at the back of the stage, and sweeping the whole
company out before them, like a broad broom.  The game of the Moccoletti
(the word, in the singular, Moccoletto, is the diminutive of Moccolo, and
means a little lamp or candlesnuff) is supposed by some to be a ceremony
of burlesque mourning for the death of the Carnival: candles being
indispensable to Catholic grief.  But whether it be so, or be a remnant
of the ancient Saturnalia, or an incorporation of both, or have its
origin in anything else, I shall always remember it, and the frolic, as a
brilliant and most captivating sight: no less remarkable for the unbroken
good-humour of all concerned, down to the very lowest (and among those
who scaled the carriages, were many of the commonest men and boys), than
for its innocent vivacity.  For, odd as it may seem to say so, of a sport
so full of thoughtlessness and personal display, it is as free from any
taint of immodesty as any general mingling of the two sexes can possibly
be; and there seems to prevail, during its progress, a feeling of
general, almost childish, simplicity and confidence, which one thinks of
with a pang, when the Ave Maria has rung it away, for a whole year.

                                * * * * *

Availing ourselves of a part of the quiet interval between the
termination of the Carnival and the beginning of the Holy Week: when
everybody had run away from the one, and few people had yet begun to run
back again for the other: we went conscientiously to work, to see Rome.
And, by dint of going out early every morning, and coming back late every
evening, and labouring hard all day, I believe we made acquaintance with
every post and pillar in the city, and the country round; and, in
particular, explored so many churches, that I abandoned that part of the
enterprise at last, before it was half finished, lest I should never, of
my own accord, go to church again, as long as I lived.  But, I managed,
almost every day, at one time or other, to get back to the Coliseum, and
out upon the open Campagna, beyond the Tomb of Cecilia Metella.

We often encountered, in these expeditions, a company of English
Tourists, with whom I had an ardent, but ungratified longing, to
establish a speaking acquaintance.  They were one Mr. Davis, and a small
circle of friends.  It was impossible not to know Mrs. Davis’s name, from
her being always in great request among her party, and her party being
everywhere.  During the Holy Week, they were in every part of every scene
of every ceremony.  For a fortnight or three weeks before it, they were
in every tomb, and every church, and every ruin, and every Picture
Gallery; and I hardly ever observed Mrs. Davis to be silent for a moment.
Deep underground, high up in St. Peter’s, out on the Campagna, and
stifling in the Jews’ quarter, Mrs. Davis turned up, all the same.  I
don’t think she ever saw anything, or ever looked at anything; and she
had always lost something out of a straw hand-basket, and was trying to
find it, with all her might and main, among an immense quantity of
English halfpence, which lay, like sands upon the sea-shore, at the
bottom of it.  There was a professional Cicerone always attached to the
party (which had been brought over from London, fifteen or twenty strong,
by contract), and if he so much as looked at Mrs. Davis, she invariably
cut him short by saying, ‘There, God bless the man, don’t worrit me!  I
don’t understand a word you say, and shouldn’t if you was to talk till
you was black in the face!’  Mr. Davis always had a snuff-coloured
great-coat on, and carried a great green umbrella in his hand, and had a
slow curiosity constantly devouring him, which prompted him to do
extraordinary things, such as taking the covers off urns in tombs, and
looking in at the ashes as if they were pickles—and tracing out
inscriptions with the ferrule of his umbrella, and saying, with intense
thoughtfulness, ‘Here’s a B you see, and there’s a R, and this is the way
we goes on in; is it!’  His antiquarian habits occasioned his being
frequently in the rear of the rest; and one of the agonies of Mrs. Davis,
and the party in general, was an ever-present fear that Davis would be
lost.  This caused them to scream for him, in the strangest places, and
at the most improper seasons.  And when he came, slowly emerging out of
some sepulchre or other, like a peaceful Ghoule, saying ‘Here I am!’ Mrs.
Davis invariably replied, ‘You’ll be buried alive in a foreign country,
Davis, and it’s no use trying to prevent you!’

Mr. and Mrs. Davis, and their party, had, probably, been brought from
London in about nine or ten days.  Eighteen hundred years ago, the Roman
legions under Claudius, protested against being led into Mr. and Mrs.
Davis’s country, urging that it lay beyond the limits of the world.

Among what may be called the Cubs or minor Lions of Rome, there was one
that amused me mightily.  It is always to be found there; and its den is
on the great flight of steps that lead from the Piazza di Spágna, to the
church of Trínita del Monte.  In plainer words, these steps are the great
place of resort for the artists’ ‘Models,’ and there they are constantly
waiting to be hired.  The first time I went up there, I could not
conceive why the faces seemed familiar to me; why they appeared to have
beset me, for years, in every possible variety of action and costume; and
how it came to pass that they started up before me, in Rome, in the broad
day, like so many saddled and bridled nightmares.  I soon found that we
had made acquaintance, and improved it, for several years, on the walls
of various Exhibition Galleries.  There is one old gentleman, with long
white hair and an immense beard, who, to my knowledge, has gone half
through the catalogue of the Royal Academy.  This is the venerable, or
patriarchal model.  He carries a long staff; and every knot and twist in
that staff I have seen, faithfully delineated, innumerable times.  There
is another man in a blue cloak, who always pretends to be asleep in the
sun (when there is any), and who, I need not say, is always very wide
awake, and very attentive to the disposition of his legs.  This is the
_dolce far’ niente_ model.  There is another man in a brown cloak, who
leans against a wall, with his arms folded in his mantle, and looks out
of the corners of his eyes: which are just visible beneath his broad
slouched hat.  This is the assassin model.  There is another man, who
constantly looks over his own shoulder, and is always going away, but
never does.  This is the haughty, or scornful model.  As to Domestic
Happiness, and Holy Families, they should come very cheap, for there are
lumps of them, all up the steps; and the cream of the thing is, that they
are all the falsest vagabonds in the world, especially made up for the
purpose, and having no counterparts in Rome or any other part of the
habitable globe.

My recent mention of the Carnival, reminds me of its being said to be a
mock mourning (in the ceremony with which it closes), for the gaieties
and merry-makings before Lent; and this again reminds me of the real
funerals and mourning processions of Rome, which, like those in most
other parts of Italy, are rendered chiefly remarkable to a Foreigner, by
the indifference with which the mere clay is universally regarded, after
life has left it.  And this is not from the survivors having had time to
dissociate the memory of the dead from their well-remembered appearance
and form on earth; for the interment follows too speedily after death,
for that: almost always taking place within four-and-twenty hours, and,
sometimes, within twelve.

At Rome, there is the same arrangement of Pits in a great, bleak, open,
dreary space, that I have already described as existing in Genoa.  When I
visited it, at noonday, I saw a solitary coffin of plain deal: uncovered
by any shroud or pall, and so slightly made, that the hoof of any
wandering mule would have crushed it in: carelessly tumbled down, all on
one side, on the door of one of the pits—and there left, by itself, in
the wind and sunshine.  ‘How does it come to be left here?’ I asked the
man who showed me the place.  ‘It was brought here half an hour ago,
Signore,’ he said.  I remembered to have met the procession, on its
return: straggling away at a good round pace.  ‘When will it be put in
the pit?’ I asked him.  ‘When the cart comes, and it is opened to-night,’
he said.  ‘How much does it cost to be brought here in this way, instead
of coming in the cart?’ I asked him.  ‘Ten scudi,’ he said (about two
pounds, two-and-sixpence, English).  ‘The other bodies, for whom nothing
is paid, are taken to the church of the Santa Maria della Consolázione,’
he continued, ‘and brought here altogether, in the cart at night.’  I
stood, a moment, looking at the coffin, which had two initial letters
scrawled upon the top; and turned away, with an expression in my face, I
suppose, of not much liking its exposure in that manner: for he said,
shrugging his shoulders with great vivacity, and giving a pleasant smile,
‘But he’s dead, Signore, he’s dead.  Why not?’

                                * * * * *

Among the innumerable churches, there is one I must select for separate
mention.  It is the church of the Ara Coeli, supposed to be built on the
site of the old Temple of Jupiter Feretrius; and approached, on one side,
by a long steep flight of steps, which seem incomplete without some group
of bearded soothsayers on the top.  It is remarkable for the possession
of a miraculous Bambíno, or wooden doll, representing the Infant Saviour;
and I first saw this miraculous Bambíno, in legal phrase, in manner
following, that is to say:

We had strolled into the church one afternoon, and were looking down its
long vista of gloomy pillars (for all these ancient churches built upon
the ruins of old temples, are dark and sad), when the Brave came running
in, with a grin upon his face that stretched it from ear to ear, and
implored us to follow him, without a moment’s delay, as they were going
to show the Bambíno to a select party.  We accordingly hurried off to a
sort of chapel, or sacristy, hard by the chief altar, but not in the
church itself, where the select party, consisting of two or three
Catholic gentlemen and ladies (not Italians), were already assembled: and
where one hollow-cheeked young monk was lighting up divers candles, while
another was putting on some clerical robes over his coarse brown habit.
The candles were on a kind of altar, and above it were two delectable
figures, such as you would see at any English fair, representing the Holy
Virgin, and Saint Joseph, as I suppose, bending in devotion over a wooden
box, or coffer; which was shut.

The hollow-cheeked monk, number One, having finished lighting the
candles, went down on his knees, in a corner, before this set-piece; and
the monk number Two, having put on a pair of highly ornamented and
gold-bespattered gloves, lifted down the coffer, with great reverence,
and set it on the altar.  Then, with many genuflexions, and muttering
certain prayers, he opened it, and let down the front, and took off
sundry coverings of satin and lace from the inside.  The ladies had been
on their knees from the commencement; and the gentlemen now dropped down
devoutly, as he exposed to view a little wooden doll, in face very like
General Tom Thumb, the American Dwarf: gorgeously dressed in satin and
gold lace, and actually blazing with rich jewels.  There was scarcely a
spot upon its little breast, or neck, or stomach, but was sparkling with
the costly offerings of the Faithful.  Presently, he lifted it out of the
box, and carrying it round among the kneelers, set its face against the
forehead of every one, and tendered its clumsy foot to them to kiss—a
ceremony which they all performed down to a dirty little ragamuffin of a
boy who had walked in from the street.  When this was done, he laid it in
the box again: and the company, rising, drew near, and commended the
jewels in whispers.  In good time, he replaced the coverings, shut up the
box, put it back in its place, locked up the whole concern (Holy Family
and all) behind a pair of folding-doors; took off his priestly vestments;
and received the customary ‘small charge,’ while his companion, by means
of an extinguisher fastened to the end of a long stick, put out the
lights, one after another.  The candles being all extinguished, and the
money all collected, they retired, and so did the spectators.

I met this same Bambíno, in the street a short time afterwards, going, in
great state, to the house of some sick person.  It is taken to all parts
of Rome for this purpose, constantly; but, I understand that it is not
always as successful as could be wished; for, making its appearance at
the bedside of weak and nervous people in extremity, accompanied by a
numerous escort, it not unfrequently frightens them to death.  It is most
popular in cases of child-birth, where it has done such wonders, that if
a lady be longer than usual in getting through her difficulties, a
messenger is despatched, with all speed, to solicit the immediate
attendance of the Bambíno.  It is a very valuable property, and much
confided in—especially by the religious body to whom it belongs.

I am happy to know that it is not considered immaculate, by some who are
good Catholics, and who are behind the scenes, from what was told me by
the near relation of a Priest, himself a Catholic, and a gentleman of
learning and intelligence.  This Priest made my informant promise that he
would, on no account, allow the Bambíno to be borne into the bedroom of a
sick lady, in whom they were both interested.  ‘For,’ said he, ‘if they
(the monks) trouble her with it, and intrude themselves into her room, it
will certainly kill her.’  My informant accordingly looked out of the
window when it came; and, with many thanks, declined to open the door.
He endeavoured, in another case of which he had no other knowledge than
such as he gained as a passer-by at the moment, to prevent its being
carried into a small unwholesome chamber, where a poor girl was dying.
But, he strove against it unsuccessfully, and she expired while the crowd
were pressing round her bed.

Among the people who drop into St. Peter’s at their leisure, to kneel on
the pavement, and say a quiet prayer, there are certain schools and
seminaries, priestly and otherwise, that come in, twenty or thirty
strong.  These boys always kneel down in single file, one behind the
other, with a tall grim master in a black gown, bringing up the rear:
like a pack of cards arranged to be tumbled down at a touch, with a
disproportionately large Knave of clubs at the end.  When they have had a
minute or so at the chief altar, they scramble up, and filing off to the
chapel of the Madonna, or the sacrament, flop down again in the same
order; so that if anybody did stumble against the master, a general and
sudden overthrow of the whole line must inevitably ensue.

The scene in all the churches is the strangest possible.  The same
monotonous, heartless, drowsy chaunting, always going on; the same dark
building, darker from the brightness of the street without; the same
lamps dimly burning; the selfsame people kneeling here and there; turned
towards you, from one altar or other, the same priest’s back, with the
same large cross embroidered on it; however different in size, in shape,
in wealth, in architecture, this church is from that, it is the same
thing still.  There are the same dirty beggars stopping in their muttered
prayers to beg; the same miserable cripples exhibiting their deformity at
the doors; the same blind men, rattling little pots like kitchen
pepper-castors: their depositories for alms; the same preposterous crowns
of silver stuck upon the painted heads of single saints and Virgins in
crowded pictures, so that a little figure on a mountain has a head-dress
bigger than the temple in the foreground, or adjacent miles of landscape;
the same favourite shrine or figure, smothered with little silver hearts
and crosses, and the like: the staple trade and show of all the
jewellers; the same odd mixture of respect and indecorum, faith and
phlegm: kneeling on the stones, and spitting on them, loudly; getting up
from prayers to beg a little, or to pursue some other worldly matter: and
then kneeling down again, to resume the contrite supplication at the
point where it was interrupted.  In one church, a kneeling lady got up
from her prayer, for a moment, to offer us her card, as a teacher of
Music; and in another, a sedate gentleman with a very thick
walking-staff, arose from his devotions to belabour his dog, who was
growling at another dog: and whose yelps and howls resounded through the
church, as his master quietly relapsed into his former train of
meditation—keeping his eye upon the dog, at the same time, nevertheless.

Above all, there is always a receptacle for the contributions of the
Faithful, in some form or other.  Sometimes, it is a money-box, set up
between the worshipper, and the wooden life-size figure of the Redeemer;
sometimes, it is a little chest for the maintenance of the Virgin;
sometimes, an appeal on behalf of a popular Bambíno; sometimes, a bag at
the end of a long stick, thrust among the people here and there, and
vigilantly jingled by an active Sacristan; but there it always is, and,
very often, in many shapes in the same church, and doing pretty well in
all.  Nor, is it wanting in the open air—the streets and roads—for, often
as you are walking along, thinking about anything rather than a tin
canister, that object pounces out upon you from a little house by the
wayside; and on its top is painted, ‘For the Souls in Purgatory;’ an
appeal which the bearer repeats a great many times, as he rattles it
before you, much as Punch rattles the cracked bell which his sanguine
disposition makes an organ of.

And this reminds me that some Roman altars of peculiar sanctity, bear the
inscription, ‘Every Mass performed at this altar frees a soul from
Purgatory.’  I have never been able to find out the charge for one of
these services, but they should needs be expensive.  There are several
Crosses in Rome too, the kissing of which, confers indulgences for
varying terms.  That in the centre of the Coliseum, is worth a hundred
days; and people may be seen kissing it from morning to night.  It is
curious that some of these crosses seem to acquire an arbitrary
popularity: this very one among them.  In another part of the Coliseum
there is a cross upon a marble slab, with the inscription, ‘Who kisses
this cross shall be entitled to Two hundred and forty days’ indulgence.’
But I saw no one person kiss it, though, day after day, I sat in the
arena, and saw scores upon scores of peasants pass it, on their way to
kiss the other.

To single out details from the great dream of Roman Churches, would be
the wildest occupation in the world.  But St. Stefano Rotondo, a damp,
mildewed vault of an old church in the outskirts of Rome, will always
struggle uppermost in my mind, by reason of the hideous paintings with
which its walls are covered.  These represent the martyrdoms of saints
and early Christians; and such a panorama of horror and butchery no man
could imagine in his sleep, though he were to eat a whole pig raw, for
supper.  Grey-bearded men being boiled, fried, grilled, crimped, singed,
eaten by wild beasts, worried by dogs, buried alive, torn asunder by
horses, chopped up small with hatchets: women having their breasts torn
with iron pinchers, their tongues cut out, their ears screwed off, their
jaws broken, their bodies stretched upon the rack, or skinned upon the
stake, or crackled up and melted in the fire: these are among the mildest
subjects.  So insisted on, and laboured at, besides, that every sufferer
gives you the same occasion for wonder as poor old Duncan awoke, in Lady
Macbeth, when she marvelled at his having so much blood in him.

There is an upper chamber in the Mamertine prisons, over what is said to
have been—and very possibly may have been—the dungeon of St. Peter.  This
chamber is now fitted up as an oratory, dedicated to that saint; and it
lives, as a distinct and separate place, in my recollection, too.  It is
very small and low-roofed; and the dread and gloom of the ponderous,
obdurate old prison are on it, as if they had come up in a dark mist
through the floor.  Hanging on the walls, among the clustered votive
offerings, are objects, at once strangely in keeping, and strangely at
variance, with the place—rusty daggers, knives, pistols, clubs, divers
instruments of violence and murder, brought here, fresh from use, and
hung up to propitiate offended Heaven: as if the blood upon them would
drain off in consecrated air, and have no voice to cry with.  It is all
so silent and so close, and tomb-like; and the dungeons below are so
black and stealthy, and stagnant, and naked; that this little dark spot
becomes a dream within a dream: and in the vision of great churches which
come rolling past me like a sea, it is a small wave by itself, that melts
into no other wave, and does not flow on with the rest.

It is an awful thing to think of the enormous caverns that are entered
from some Roman churches, and undermine the city.  Many churches have
crypts and subterranean chapels of great size, which, in the ancient
time, were baths, and secret chambers of temples, and what not: but I do
not speak of them.  Beneath the church of St. Giovanni and St. Paolo,
there are the jaws of a terrific range of caverns, hewn out of the rock,
and said to have another outlet underneath the Coliseum—tremendous
darknesses of vast extent, half-buried in the earth and unexplorable,
where the dull torches, flashed by the attendants, glimmer down long
ranges of distant vaults branching to the right and left, like streets in
a city of the dead; and show the cold damp stealing down the walls,
drip-drop, drip-drop, to join the pools of water that lie here and there,
and never saw, or never will see, one ray of the sun.  Some accounts make
these the prisons of the wild beasts destined for the amphitheatre; some
the prisons of the condemned gladiators; some, both.  But the legend most
appalling to the fancy is, that in the upper range (for there are two
stories of these caves) the Early Christians destined to be eaten at the
Coliseum Shows, heard the wild beasts, hungry for them, roaring down
below; until, upon the night and solitude of their captivity, there burst
the sudden noon and life of the vast theatre crowded to the parapet, and
of these, their dreaded neighbours, bounding in!

Below the church of San Sebastiano, two miles beyond the gate of San
Sebastiano, on the Appian Way, is the entrance to the catacombs of
Rome—quarries in the old time, but afterwards the hiding-places of the
Christians.  These ghastly passages have been explored for twenty miles;
and form a chain of labyrinths, sixty miles in circumference.

A gaunt Franciscan friar, with a wild bright eye, was our only guide,
down into this profound and dreadful place.  The narrow ways and openings
hither and thither, coupled with the dead and heavy air, soon blotted
out, in all of us, any recollection of the track by which we had come:
and I could not help thinking ‘Good Heaven, if, in a sudden fit of
madness, he should dash the torches out, or if he should be seized with a
fit, what would become of us!’  On we wandered, among martyrs’ graves:
passing great subterranean vaulted roads, diverging in all directions,
and choked up with heaps of stones, that thieves and murderers may not
take refuge there, and form a population under Rome, even worse than that
which lives between it and the sun.  Graves, graves, graves; Graves of
men, of women, of their little children, who ran crying to the
persecutors, ‘We are Christians!  We are Christians!’ that they might be
murdered with their parents; Graves with the palm of martyrdom roughly
cut into their stone boundaries, and little niches, made to hold a vessel
of the martyrs’ blood; Graves of some who lived down here, for years
together, ministering to the rest, and preaching truth, and hope, and
comfort, from the rude altars, that bear witness to their fortitude at
this hour; more roomy graves, but far more terrible, where hundreds,
being surprised, were hemmed in and walled up: buried before Death, and
killed by slow starvation.

‘The Triumphs of the Faith are not above ground in our splendid
churches,’ said the friar, looking round upon us, as we stopped to rest
in one of the low passages, with bones and dust surrounding us on every
side.  ‘They are here!  Among the Martyrs’ Graves!’  He was a gentle,
earnest man, and said it from his heart; but when I thought how Christian
men have dealt with one another; how, perverting our most merciful
religion, they have hunted down and tortured, burnt and beheaded,
strangled, slaughtered, and oppressed each other; I pictured to myself an
agony surpassing any that this Dust had suffered with the breath of life
yet lingering in it, and how these great and constant hearts would have
been shaken—how they would have quailed and drooped—if a foreknowledge of
the deeds that professing Christians would commit in the Great Name for
which they died, could have rent them with its own unutterable anguish,
on the cruel wheel, and bitter cross, and in the fearful fire.

                       [Picture: In the Catacombs]

Such are the spots and patches in my dream of churches, that remain
apart, and keep their separate identity.  I have a fainter recollection,
sometimes of the relics; of the fragments of the pillar of the Temple
that was rent in twain; of the portion of the table that was spread for
the Last Supper; of the well at which the woman of Samaria gave water to
Our Saviour; of two columns from the house of Pontius Pilate; of the
stone to which the Sacred hands were bound, when the scourging was
performed; of the grid-iron of Saint Lawrence, and the stone below it,
marked with the frying of his fat and blood; these set a shadowy mark on
some cathedrals, as an old story, or a fable might, and stop them for an
instant, as they flit before me.  The rest is a vast wilderness of
consecrated buildings of all shapes and fancies, blending one with
another; of battered pillars of old Pagan temples, dug up from the
ground, and forced, like giant captives, to support the roofs of
Christian churches; of pictures, bad, and wonderful, and impious, and
ridiculous; of kneeling people, curling incense, tinkling bells, and
sometimes (but not often) of a swelling organ: of Madonne, with their
breasts stuck full of swords, arranged in a half-circle like a modern
fan; of actual skeletons of dead saints, hideously attired in gaudy
satins, silks, and velvets trimmed with gold: their withered crust of
skull adorned with precious jewels, or with chaplets of crushed flowers;
sometimes of people gathered round the pulpit, and a monk within it
stretching out the crucifix, and preaching fiercely: the sun just
streaming down through some high window on the sail-cloth stretched above
him and across the church, to keep his high-pitched voice from being lost
among the echoes of the roof.  Then my tired memory comes out upon a
flight of steps, where knots of people are asleep, or basking in the
light; and strolls away, among the rags, and smells, and palaces, and
hovels, of an old Italian street.

                                * * * * *

On one Saturday morning (the eighth of March), a man was beheaded here.
Nine or ten months before, he had waylaid a Bavarian countess, travelling
as a pilgrim to Rome—alone and on foot, of course—and performing, it is
said, that act of piety for the fourth time.  He saw her change a piece
of gold at Viterbo, where he lived; followed her; bore her company on her
journey for some forty miles or more, on the treacherous pretext of
protecting her; attacked her, in the fulfilment of his unrelenting
purpose, on the Campagna, within a very short distance of Rome, near to
what is called (but what is not) the Tomb of Nero; robbed her; and beat
her to death with her own pilgrim’s staff.  He was newly married, and
gave some of her apparel to his wife: saying that he had bought it at a
fair.  She, however, who had seen the pilgrim-countess passing through
their town, recognised some trifle as having belonged to her.  Her
husband then told her what he had done.  She, in confession, told a
priest; and the man was taken, within four days after the commission of
the murder.

There are no fixed times for the administration of justice, or its
execution, in this unaccountable country; and he had been in prison ever
since.  On the Friday, as he was dining with the other prisoners, they
came and told him he was to be beheaded next morning, and took him away.
It is very unusual to execute in Lent; but his crime being a very bad
one, it was deemed advisable to make an example of him at that time, when
great numbers of pilgrims were coming towards Rome, from all parts, for
the Holy Week.  I heard of this on the Friday evening, and saw the bills
up at the churches, calling on the people to pray for the criminal’s
soul.  So, I determined to go, and see him executed.

The beheading was appointed for fourteen and a-half o’clock, Roman time:
or a quarter before nine in the forenoon.  I had two friends with me; and
as we did not know but that the crowd might be very great, we were on the
spot by half-past seven.  The place of execution was near the church of
San Giovanni decolláto (a doubtful compliment to Saint John the Baptist)
in one of the impassable back streets without any footway, of which a
great part of Rome is composed—a street of rotten houses, which do not
seem to belong to anybody, and do not seem to have ever been inhabited,
and certainly were never built on any plan, or for any particular
purpose, and have no window-sashes, and are a little like deserted
breweries, and might be warehouses but for having nothing in them.
Opposite to one of these, a white house, the scaffold was built.  An
untidy, unpainted, uncouth, crazy-looking thing of course: some seven
feet high, perhaps: with a tall, gallows-shaped frame rising above it, in
which was the knife, charged with a ponderous mass of iron, all ready to
descend, and glittering brightly in the morning sun, whenever it looked
out, now and then, from behind a cloud.

There were not many people lingering about; and these were kept at a
considerable distance from the scaffold, by parties of the Pope’s
dragoons.  Two or three hundred foot-soldiers were under arms, standing
at ease in clusters here and there; and the officers were walking up and
down in twos and threes, chatting together, and smoking cigars.

At the end of the street, was an open space, where there would be a
dust-heap, and piles of broken crockery, and mounds of vegetable refuse,
but for such things being thrown anywhere and everywhere in Rome, and
favouring no particular sort of locality.  We got into a kind of
wash-house, belonging to a dwelling-house on this spot; and standing
there in an old cart, and on a heap of cartwheels piled against the wall,
looked, through a large grated window, at the scaffold, and straight down
the street beyond it until, in consequence of its turning off abruptly to
the left, our perspective was brought to a sudden termination, and had a
corpulent officer, in a cocked hat, for its crowning feature.

Nine o’clock struck, and ten o’clock struck, and nothing happened.  All
the bells of all the churches rang as usual.  A little parliament of dogs
assembled in the open space, and chased each other, in and out among the
soldiers.  Fierce-looking Romans of the lowest class, in blue cloaks,
russet cloaks, and rags uncloaked, came and went, and talked together.
Women and children fluttered, on the skirts of the scanty crowd.  One
large muddy spot was left quite bare, like a bald place on a man’s head.
A cigar-merchant, with an earthen pot of charcoal ashes in one hand, went
up and down, crying his wares.  A pastry-merchant divided his attention
between the scaffold and his customers.  Boys tried to climb up walls,
and tumbled down again.  Priests and monks elbowed a passage for
themselves among the people, and stood on tiptoe for a sight of the
knife: then went away.  Artists, in inconceivable hats of the
middle-ages, and beards (thank Heaven!) of no age at all, flashed
picturesque scowls about them from their stations in the throng.  One
gentleman (connected with the fine arts, I presume) went up and down in a
pair of Hessian-boots, with a red beard hanging down on his breast, and
his long and bright red hair, plaited into two tails, one on either side
of his head, which fell over his shoulders in front of him, very nearly
to his waist, and were carefully entwined and braided!

Eleven o’clock struck and still nothing happened.  A rumour got about,
among the crowd, that the criminal would not confess; in which case, the
priests would keep him until the Ave Maria (sunset); for it is their
merciful custom never finally to turn the crucifix away from a man at
that pass, as one refusing to be shriven, and consequently a sinner
abandoned of the Saviour, until then.  People began to drop off.  The
officers shrugged their shoulders and looked doubtful.  The dragoons, who
came riding up below our window, every now and then, to order an unlucky
hackney-coach or cart away, as soon as it had comfortably established
itself, and was covered with exulting people (but never before), became
imperious, and quick-tempered.  The bald place hadn’t a straggling hair
upon it; and the corpulent officer, crowning the perspective, took a
world of snuff.

Suddenly, there was a noise of trumpets.  ‘Attention!’ was among the
foot-soldiers instantly.  They were marched up to the scaffold and formed
round it.  The dragoons galloped to their nearer stations too.  The
guillotine became the centre of a wood of bristling bayonets and shining
sabres.  The people closed round nearer, on the flank of the soldiery.  A
long straggling stream of men and boys, who had accompanied the
procession from the prison, came pouring into the open space.  The bald
spot was scarcely distinguishable from the rest.  The cigar and
pastry-merchants resigned all thoughts of business, for the moment, and
abandoning themselves wholly to pleasure, got good situations in the
crowd.  The perspective ended, now, in a troop of dragoons.  And the
corpulent officer, sword in hand, looked hard at a church close to him,
which he could see, but we, the crowd, could not.

After a short delay, some monks were seen approaching to the scaffold
from this church; and above their heads, coming on slowly and gloomily,
the effigy of Christ upon the cross, canopied with black.  This was
carried round the foot of the scaffold, to the front, and turned towards
the criminal, that he might see it to the last.  It was hardly in its
place, when he appeared on the platform, bare-footed; his hands bound;
and with the collar and neck of his shirt cut away, almost to the
shoulder.  A young man—six-and-twenty—vigorously made, and well-shaped.
Face pale; small dark moustache; and dark brown hair.

He had refused to confess, it seemed, without first having his wife
brought to see him; and they had sent an escort for her, which had
occasioned the delay.

He immediately kneeled down, below the knife.  His neck fitting into a
hole, made for the purpose, in a cross plank, was shut down, by another
plank above; exactly like the pillory.  Immediately below him was a
leathern bag.  And into it his head rolled instantly.

The executioner was holding it by the hair, and walking with it round the
scaffold, showing it to the people, before one quite knew that the knife
had fallen heavily, and with a rattling sound.

When it had travelled round the four sides of the scaffold, it was set
upon a pole in front—a little patch of black and white, for the long
street to stare at, and the flies to settle on.  The eyes were turned
upward, as if he had avoided the sight of the leathern bag, and looked to
the crucifix.  Every tinge and hue of life had left it in that instant.
It was dull, cold, livid, wax.  The body also.

There was a great deal of blood.  When we left the window, and went close
up to the scaffold, it was very dirty; one of the two men who were
throwing water over it, turning to help the other lift the body into a
shell, picked his way as through mire.  A strange appearance was the
apparent annihilation of the neck.  The head was taken off so close, that
it seemed as if the knife had narrowly escaped crushing the jaw, or
shaving off the ear; and the body looked as if there were nothing left
above the shoulder.

Nobody cared, or was at all affected.  There was no manifestation of
disgust, or pity, or indignation, or sorrow.  My empty pockets were
tried, several times, in the crowd immediately below the scaffold, as the
corpse was being put into its coffin.  It was an ugly, filthy, careless,
sickening spectacle; meaning nothing but butchery beyond the momentary
interest, to the one wretched actor.  Yes!  Such a sight has one meaning
and one warning.  Let me not forget it.  The speculators in the lottery,
station themselves at favourable points for counting the gouts of blood
that spirt out, here or there; and buy that number.  It is pretty sure to
have a run upon it.

The body was carted away in due time, the knife cleansed, the scaffold
taken down, and all the hideous apparatus removed.  The executioner: an
outlaw _ex officio_ (what a satire on the Punishment!) who dare not, for
his life, cross the Bridge of St. Angelo but to do his work: retreated to
his lair, and the show was over.

                                * * * * *

At the head of the collections in the palaces of Rome, the Vatican, of
course, with its treasures of art, its enormous galleries, and
staircases, and suites upon suites of immense chambers, ranks highest and
stands foremost.  Many most noble statues, and wonderful pictures, are
there; nor is it heresy to say that there is a considerable amount of
rubbish there, too.  When any old piece of sculpture dug out of the
ground, finds a place in a gallery because it is old, and without any
reference to its intrinsic merits: and finds admirers by the hundred,
because it is there, and for no other reason on earth: there will be no
lack of objects, very indifferent in the plain eyesight of any one who
employs so vulgar a property, when he may wear the spectacles of Cant for
less than nothing, and establish himself as a man of taste for the mere
trouble of putting them on.

I unreservedly confess, for myself, that I cannot leave my natural
perception of what is natural and true, at a palace-door, in Italy or
elsewhere, as I should leave my shoes if I were travelling in the East.
I cannot forget that there are certain expressions of face, natural to
certain passions, and as unchangeable in their nature as the gait of a
lion, or the flight of an eagle.  I cannot dismiss from my certain
knowledge, such commonplace facts as the ordinary proportion of men’s
arms, and legs, and heads; and when I meet with performances that do
violence to these experiences and recollections, no matter where they may
be, I cannot honestly admire them, and think it best to say so; in spite
of high critical advice that we should sometimes feign an admiration,
though we have it not.

Therefore, I freely acknowledge that when I see a jolly young Waterman
representing a cherubim, or a Barclay and Perkins’s Drayman depicted as
an Evangelist, I see nothing to commend or admire in the performance,
however great its reputed Painter.  Neither am I partial to libellous
Angels, who play on fiddles and bassoons, for the edification of
sprawling monks apparently in liquor.  Nor to those Monsieur Tonsons of
galleries, Saint Francis and Saint Sebastian; both of whom I submit
should have very uncommon and rare merits, as works of art, to justify
their compound multiplication by Italian Painters.

It seems to me, too, that the indiscriminate and determined raptures in
which some critics indulge, is incompatible with the true appreciation of
the really great and transcendent works.  I cannot imagine, for example,
how the resolute champion of undeserving pictures can soar to the amazing
beauty of Titian’s great picture of the Assumption of the Virgin at
Venice; or how the man who is truly affected by the sublimity of that
exquisite production, or who is truly sensible of the beauty of
Tintoretto’s great picture of the Assembly of the Blessed in the same
place, can discern in Michael Angelo’s Last Judgment, in the Sistine
chapel, any general idea, or one pervading thought, in harmony with the
stupendous subject.  He who will contemplate Raphael’s masterpiece, the
Transfiguration, and will go away into another chamber of that same
Vatican, and contemplate another design of Raphael, representing (in
incredible caricature) the miraculous stopping of a great fire by Leo the
Fourth—and who will say that he admires them both, as works of
extraordinary genius—must, as I think, be wanting in his powers of
perception in one of the two instances, and, probably, in the high and
lofty one.

It is easy to suggest a doubt, but I have a great doubt whether,
sometimes, the rules of art are not too strictly observed, and whether it
is quite well or agreeable that we should know beforehand, where this
figure will be turning round, and where that figure will be lying down,
and where there will be drapery in folds, and so forth.  When I observe
heads inferior to the subject, in pictures of merit, in Italian
galleries, I do not attach that reproach to the Painter, for I have a
suspicion that these great men, who were, of necessity, very much in the
hands of monks and priests, painted monks and priests a great deal too
often.  I frequently see, in pictures of real power, heads quite below
the story and the painter: and I invariably observe that those heads are
of the Convent stamp, and have their counterparts among the Convent
inmates of this hour; so, I have settled with myself that, in such cases,
the lameness was not with the painter, but with the vanity and ignorance
of certain of his employers, who would be apostles—on canvas, at all

The exquisite grace and beauty of Canova’s statues; the wonderful gravity
and repose of many of the ancient works in sculpture, both in the Capitol
and the Vatican; and the strength and fire of many others; are, in their
different ways, beyond all reach of words.  They are especially
impressive and delightful, after the works of Bernini and his disciples,
in which the churches of Rome, from St. Peter’s downward, abound; and
which are, I verily believe, the most detestable class of productions in
the wide world.  I would infinitely rather (as mere works of art) look
upon the three deities of the Past, the Present, and the Future, in the
Chinese Collection, than upon the best of these breezy maniacs; whose
every fold of drapery is blown inside-out; whose smallest vein, or
artery, is as big as an ordinary forefinger; whose hair is like a nest of
lively snakes; and whose attitudes put all other extravagance to shame.
Insomuch that I do honestly believe, there can be no place in the world,
where such intolerable abortions, begotten of the sculptor’s chisel, are
to be found in such profusion, as in Rome.

There is a fine collection of Egyptian antiquities, in the Vatican; and
the ceilings of the rooms in which they are arranged, are painted to
represent a starlight sky in the Desert.  It may seem an odd idea, but it
is very effective.  The grim, half-human monsters from the temples, look
more grim and monstrous underneath the deep dark blue; it sheds a strange
uncertain gloomy air on everything—a mystery adapted to the objects; and
you leave them, as you find them, shrouded in a solemn night.

In the private palaces, pictures are seen to the best advantage.  There
are seldom so many in one place that the attention need become
distracted, or the eye confused.  You see them very leisurely; and are
rarely interrupted by a crowd of people.  There are portraits
innumerable, by Titian, and Rembrandt, and Vandyke; heads by Guido, and
Domenichino, and Carlo Dolci; various subjects by Correggio, and Murillo,
and Raphael, and Salvator Rosa, and Spagnoletto—many of which it would be
difficult, indeed, to praise too highly, or to praise enough; such is
their tenderness and grace; their noble elevation, purity, and beauty.

The portrait of Beatrice di Cenci, in the Palazzo Berberini, is a picture
almost impossible to be forgotten.  Through the transcendent sweetness
and beauty of the face, there is a something shining out, that haunts me.
I see it now, as I see this paper, or my pen.  The head is loosely draped
in white; the light hair falling down below the linen folds.  She has
turned suddenly towards you; and there is an expression in the
eyes—although they are very tender and gentle—as if the wildness of a
momentary terror, or distraction, had been struggled with and overcome,
that instant; and nothing but a celestial hope, and a beautiful sorrow,
and a desolate earthly helplessness remained.  Some stories say that
Guido painted it, the night before her execution; some other stories,
that he painted it from memory, after having seen her, on her way to the
scaffold.  I am willing to believe that, as you see her on his canvas, so
she turned towards him, in the crowd, from the first sight of the axe,
and stamped upon his mind a look which he has stamped on mine as though I
had stood beside him in the concourse.  The guilty palace of the Cenci:
blighting a whole quarter of the town, as it stands withering away by
grains: had that face, to my fancy, in its dismal porch, and at its
black, blind windows, and flitting up and down its dreary stairs, and
growing out of the darkness of the ghostly galleries.  The History is
written in the Painting; written, in the dying girl’s face, by Nature’s
own hand.  And oh! how in that one touch she puts to flight (instead of
making kin) the puny world that claim to be related to her, in right of
poor conventional forgeries!

I saw in the Palazzo Spada, the statue of Pompey; the statue at whose
base Cæsar fell.  A stern, tremendous figure!  I imagined one of greater
finish: of the last refinement: full of delicate touches: losing its
distinctness, in the giddy eyes of one whose blood was ebbing before it,
and settling into some such rigid majesty as this, as Death came creeping
over the upturned face.

The excursions in the neighbourhood of Rome are charming, and would be
full of interest were it only for the changing views they afford, of the
wild Campagna.  But, every inch of ground, in every direction, is rich in
associations, and in natural beauties.  There is Albano, with its lovely
lake and wooded shore, and with its wine, that certainly has not improved
since the days of Horace, and in these times hardly justifies his
panegyric.  There is squalid Tivoli, with the river Anio, diverted from
its course, and plunging down, headlong, some eighty feet in search of
it.  With its picturesque Temple of the Sibyl, perched high on a crag;
its minor waterfalls glancing and sparkling in the sun; and one good
cavern yawning darkly, where the river takes a fearful plunge and shoots
on, low down under beetling rocks.  There, too, is the Villa d’Este,
deserted and decaying among groves of melancholy pine and cypress trees,
where it seems to lie in state.  Then, there is Frascati, and, on the
steep above it, the ruins of Tusculum, where Cicero lived, and wrote, and
adorned his favourite house (some fragments of it may yet be seen there),
and where Cato was born.  We saw its ruined amphitheatre on a grey, dull
day, when a shrill March wind was blowing, and when the scattered stones
of the old city lay strewn about the lonely eminence, as desolate and
dead as the ashes of a long extinguished fire.

One day we walked out, a little party of three, to Albano, fourteen miles
distant; possessed by a great desire to go there by the ancient Appian
way, long since ruined and overgrown.  We started at half-past seven in
the morning, and within an hour or so were out upon the open Campagna.
For twelve miles we went climbing on, over an unbroken succession of
mounds, and heaps, and hills, of ruin.  Tombs and temples, overthrown and
prostrate; small fragments of columns, friezes, pediments; great blocks
of granite and marble; mouldering arches, grass-grown and decayed; ruin
enough to build a spacious city from; lay strewn about us.  Sometimes,
loose walls, built up from these fragments by the shepherds, came across
our path; sometimes, a ditch between two mounds of broken stones,
obstructed our progress; sometimes, the fragments themselves, rolling
from beneath our feet, made it a toilsome matter to advance; but it was
always ruin.  Now, we tracked a piece of the old road, above the ground;
now traced it, underneath a grassy covering, as if that were its grave;
but all the way was ruin.  In the distance, ruined aqueducts went
stalking on their giant course along the plain; and every breath of wind
that swept towards us, stirred early flowers and grasses, springing up,
spontaneously, on miles of ruin.  The unseen larks above us, who alone
disturbed the awful silence, had their nests in ruin; and the fierce
herdsmen, clad in sheepskins, who now and then scowled out upon us from
their sleeping nooks, were housed in ruin.  The aspect of the desolate
Campagna in one direction, where it was most level, reminded me of an
American prairie; but what is the solitude of a region where men have
never dwelt, to that of a Desert, where a mighty race have left their
footprints in the earth from which they have vanished; where the
resting-places of their Dead, have fallen like their Dead; and the broken
hour-glass of Time is but a heap of idle dust!  Returning, by the road,
at sunset! and looking, from the distance, on the course we had taken in
the morning, I almost feel (as I had felt when I first saw it, at that
hour) as if the sun would never rise again, but looked its last, that
night, upon a ruined world.

To come again on Rome, by moonlight, after such an expedition, is a
fitting close to such a day.  The narrow streets, devoid of footways, and
choked, in every obscure corner, by heaps of dunghill-rubbish, contrast
so strongly, in their cramped dimensions, and their filth, and darkness,
with the broad square before some haughty church: in the centre of which,
a hieroglyphic-covered obelisk, brought from Egypt in the days of the
Emperors, looks strangely on the foreign scene about it; or perhaps an
ancient pillar, with its honoured statue overthrown, supports a Christian
saint: Marcus Aurelius giving place to Paul, and Trajan to St. Peter.
Then, there are the ponderous buildings reared from the spoliation of the
Coliseum, shutting out the moon, like mountains: while here and there,
are broken arches and rent walls, through which it gushes freely, as the
life comes pouring from a wound.  The little town of miserable houses,
walled, and shut in by barred gates, is the quarter where the Jews are
locked up nightly, when the clock strikes eight—a miserable place,
densely populated, and reeking with bad odours, but where the people are
industrious and money-getting.  In the day-time, as you make your way
along the narrow streets, you see them all at work: upon the pavement,
oftener than in their dark and frouzy shops: furbishing old clothes, and
driving bargains.

Crossing from these patches of thick darkness, out into the moon once
more, the fountain of Trevi, welling from a hundred jets, and rolling
over mimic rocks, is silvery to the eye and ear.  In the narrow little
throat of street, beyond, a booth, dressed out with flaring lamps, and
boughs of trees, attracts a group of sulky Romans round its smoky coppers
of hot broth, and cauliflower stew; its trays of fried fish, and its
flasks of wine.  As you rattle round the sharply-twisting corner, a
lumbering sound is heard.  The coachman stops abruptly, and uncovers, as
a van comes slowly by, preceded by a man who bears a large cross; by a
torch-bearer; and a priest: the latter chaunting as he goes.  It is the
Dead Cart, with the bodies of the poor, on their way to burial in the
Sacred Field outside the walls, where they will be thrown into the pit
that will be covered with a stone to-night, and sealed up for a year.

But whether, in this ride, you pass by obelisks, or columns ancient
temples, theatres, houses, porticoes, or forums: it is strange to see,
how every fragment, whenever it is possible, has been blended into some
modern structure, and made to serve some modern purpose—a wall, a
dwelling-place, a granary, a stable—some use for which it never was
designed, and associated with which it cannot otherwise than lamely
assort.  It is stranger still, to see how many ruins of the old
mythology: how many fragments of obsolete legend and observance: have
been incorporated into the worship of Christian altars here; and how, in
numberless respects, the false faith and the true are fused into a
monstrous union.

From one part of the city, looking out beyond the walls, a squat and
stunted pyramid (the burial-place of Caius Cestius) makes an opaque
triangle in the moonlight.  But, to an English traveller, it serves to
mark the grave of Shelley too, whose ashes lie beneath a little garden
near it.  Nearer still, almost within its shadow, lie the bones of Keats,
‘whose name is writ in water,’ that shines brightly in the landscape of a
calm Italian night.

The Holy Week in Rome is supposed to offer great attractions to all
visitors; but, saving for the sights of Easter Sunday, I would counsel
those who go to Rome for its own interest, to avoid it at that time.  The
ceremonies, in general, are of the most tedious and wearisome kind; the
heat and crowd at every one of them, painfully oppressive; the noise,
hubbub, and confusion, quite distracting.  We abandoned the pursuit of
these shows, very early in the proceedings, and betook ourselves to the
Ruins again.  But, we plunged into the crowd for a share of the best of
the sights; and what we saw, I will describe to you.

At the Sistine chapel, on the Wednesday, we saw very little, for by the
time we reached it (though we were early) the besieging crowd had filled
it to the door, and overflowed into the adjoining hall, where they were
struggling, and squeezing, and mutually expostulating, and making great
rushes every time a lady was brought out faint, as if at least fifty
people could be accommodated in her vacant standing-room.  Hanging in the
doorway of the chapel, was a heavy curtain, and this curtain, some twenty
people nearest to it, in their anxiety to hear the chaunting of the
Miserere, were continually plucking at, in opposition to each other, that
it might not fall down and stifle the sound of the voices.  The
consequence was, that it occasioned the most extraordinary confusion, and
seemed to wind itself about the unwary, like a Serpent.  Now, a lady was
wrapped up in it, and couldn’t be unwound.  Now, the voice of a stifling
gentleman was heard inside it, beseeching to be let out.  Now, two
muffled arms, no man could say of which sex, struggled in it as in a
sack.  Now, it was carried by a rush, bodily overhead into the chapel,
like an awning.  Now, it came out the other way, and blinded one of the
Pope’s Swiss Guard, who had arrived, that moment, to set things to

Being seated at a little distance, among two or three of the Pope’s
gentlemen, who were very weary and counting the minutes—as perhaps his
Holiness was too—we had better opportunities of observing this eccentric
entertainment, than of hearing the Miserere.  Sometimes, there was a
swell of mournful voices that sounded very pathetic and sad, and died
away, into a low strain again; but that was all we heard.

At another time, there was the Exhibition of Relics in St. Peter’s, which
took place at between six and seven o’clock in the evening, and was
striking from the cathedral being dark and gloomy, and having a great
many people in it.  The place into which the relics were brought, one by
one, by a party of three priests, was a high balcony near the chief
altar.  This was the only lighted part of the church.  There are always a
hundred and twelve lamps burning near the altar, and there were two tall
tapers, besides, near the black statue of St. Peter; but these were
nothing in such an immense edifice.  The gloom, and the general upturning
of faces to the balcony, and the prostration of true believers on the
pavement, as shining objects, like pictures or looking-glasses, were
brought out and shown, had something effective in it, despite the very
preposterous manner in which they were held up for the general
edification, and the great elevation at which they were displayed; which
one would think rather calculated to diminish the comfort derivable from
a full conviction of their being genuine.

On the Thursday, we went to see the Pope convey the Sacrament from the
Sistine chapel, to deposit it in the Capella Paolina, another chapel in
the Vatican;—a ceremony emblematical of the entombment of the Saviour
before His Resurrection.  We waited in a great gallery with a great crowd
of people (three-fourths of them English) for an hour or so, while they
were chaunting the Miserere, in the Sistine chapel again.  Both chapels
opened out of the gallery; and the general attention was concentrated on
the occasional opening and shutting of the door of the one for which the
Pope was ultimately bound.  None of these openings disclosed anything
more tremendous than a man on a ladder, lighting a great quantity of
candles; but at each and every opening, there was a terrific rush made at
this ladder and this man, something like (I should think) a charge of the
heavy British cavalry at Waterloo.  The man was never brought down,
however, nor the ladder; for it performed the strangest antics in the
world among the crowd—where it was carried by the man, when the candles
were all lighted; and finally it was stuck up against the gallery wall,
in a very disorderly manner, just before the opening of the other chapel,
and the commencement of a new chaunt, announced the approach of his
Holiness.  At this crisis, the soldiers of the guard, who had been poking
the crowd into all sorts of shapes, formed down the gallery: and the
procession came up, between the two lines they made.

There were a few choristers, and then a great many priests, walking two
and two, and carrying—the good-looking priests at least—their lighted
tapers, so as to throw the light with a good effect upon their faces: for
the room was darkened.  Those who were not handsome, or who had not long
beards, carried _their_ tapers anyhow, and abandoned themselves to
spiritual contemplation.  Meanwhile, the chaunting was very monotonous
and dreary.  The procession passed on, slowly, into the chapel, and the
drone of voices went on, and came on, with it, until the Pope himself
appeared, walking under a white satin canopy, and bearing the covered
Sacrament in both hands; cardinals and canons clustered round him, making
a brilliant show.  The soldiers of the guard knelt down as he passed; all
the bystanders bowed; and so he passed on into the chapel: the white
satin canopy being removed from over him at the door, and a white satin
parasol hoisted over his poor old head, in place of it.  A few more
couples brought up the rear, and passed into the chapel also.  Then, the
chapel door was shut; and it was all over; and everybody hurried off
headlong, as for life or death, to see something else, and say it wasn’t
worth the trouble.

I think the most popular and most crowded sight (excepting those of
Easter Sunday and Monday, which are open to all classes of people) was
the Pope washing the feet of Thirteen men, representing the twelve
apostles, and Judas Iscariot.  The place in which this pious office is
performed, is one of the chapels of St. Peter’s, which is gaily decorated
for the occasion; the thirteen sitting, ‘all of a row,’ on a very high
bench, and looking particularly uncomfortable, with the eyes of Heaven
knows how many English, French, Americans, Swiss, Germans, Russians,
Swedes, Norwegians, and other foreigners, nailed to their faces all the
time.  They are robed in white; and on their heads they wear a stiff
white cap, like a large English porter-pot, without a handle.  Each
carries in his hand, a nosegay, of the size of a fine cauliflower; and
two of them, on this occasion, wore spectacles; which, remembering the
characters they sustained, I thought a droll appendage to the costume.
There was a great eye to character.  St. John was represented by a
good-looking young man.  St. Peter, by a grave-looking old gentleman,
with a flowing brown beard; and Judas Iscariot by such an enormous
hypocrite (I could not make out, though, whether the expression of his
face was real or assumed) that if he had acted the part to the death and
had gone away and hanged himself, he would have left nothing to be

As the two large boxes, appropriated to ladies at this sight, were full
to the throat, and getting near was hopeless, we posted off, along with a
great crowd, to be in time at the Table, where the Pope, in person, waits
on these Thirteen; and after a prodigious struggle at the Vatican
staircase, and several personal conflicts with the Swiss guard, the whole
crowd swept into the room.  It was a long gallery hung with drapery of
white and red, with another great box for ladies (who are obliged to
dress in black at these ceremonies, and to wear black veils), a royal box
for the King of Naples and his party; and the table itself, which, set
out like a ball supper, and ornamented with golden figures of the real
apostles, was arranged on an elevated platform on one side of the
gallery.  The counterfeit apostles’ knives and forks were laid out on
that side of the table which was nearest to the wall, so that they might
be stared at again, without let or hindrance.

The body of the room was full of male strangers; the crowd immense; the
heat very great; and the pressure sometimes frightful.  It was at its
height, when the stream came pouring in, from the feet-washing; and then
there were such shrieks and outcries, that a party of Piedmontese
dragoons went to the rescue of the Swiss guard, and helped them to calm
the tumult.

The ladies were particularly ferocious, in their struggles for places.
One lady of my acquaintance was seized round the waist, in the ladies’
box, by a strong matron, and hoisted out of her place; and there was
another lady (in a back row in the same box) who improved her position by
sticking a large pin into the ladies before her.

The gentlemen about me were remarkably anxious to see what was on the
table; and one Englishman seemed to have embarked the whole energy of his
nature in the determination to discover whether there was any mustard.
‘By Jupiter there’s vinegar!’ I heard him say to his friend, after he had
stood on tiptoe an immense time, and had been crushed and beaten on all
sides.  ‘And there’s oil!  I saw them distinctly, in cruets!  Can any
gentleman, in front there, see mustard on the table?  Sir, will you
oblige me!  _Do_ you see a Mustard-Pot?’

The apostles and Judas appearing on the platform, after much expectation,
were marshalled, in line, in front of the table, with Peter at the top;
and a good long stare was taken at them by the company, while twelve of
them took a long smell at their nosegays, and Judas—moving his lips very
obtrusively—engaged in inward prayer.  Then, the Pope, clad in a scarlet
robe, and wearing on his head a skull-cap of white satin, appeared in the
midst of a crowd of Cardinals and other dignitaries, and took in his hand
a little golden ewer, from which he poured a little water over one of
Peter’s hands, while one attendant held a golden basin; a second, a fine
cloth; a third, Peter’s nosegay, which was taken from him during the
operation.  This his Holiness performed, with considerable expedition, on
every man in the line (Judas, I observed, to be particularly overcome by
his condescension); and then the whole Thirteen sat down to dinner.
Grace said by the Pope.  Peter in the chair.

There was white wine, and red wine: and the dinner looked very good.  The
courses appeared in portions, one for each apostle: and these being
presented to the Pope, by Cardinals upon their knees, were by him handed
to the Thirteen.  The manner in which Judas grew more white-livered over
his victuals, and languished, with his head on one side, as if he had no
appetite, defies all description.  Peter was a good, sound, old man, and
went in, as the saying is, ‘to win;’ eating everything that was given him
(he got the best: being first in the row) and saying nothing to anybody.
The dishes appeared to be chiefly composed of fish and vegetables.  The
Pope helped the Thirteen to wine also; and, during the whole dinner,
somebody read something aloud, out of a large book—the Bible, I
presume—which nobody could hear, and to which nobody paid the least
attention.  The Cardinals, and other attendants, smiled to each other,
from time to time, as if the thing were a great farce; and if they
thought so, there is little doubt they were perfectly right.  His
Holiness did what he had to do, as a sensible man gets through a
troublesome ceremony, and seemed very glad when it was all over.

The Pilgrims’ Suppers: where lords and ladies waited on the Pilgrims, in
token of humility, and dried their feet when they had been well washed by
deputy: were very attractive.  But, of all the many spectacles of
dangerous reliance on outward observances, in themselves mere empty
forms, none struck me half so much as the Scala Santa, or Holy Staircase,
which I saw several times, but to the greatest advantage, or
disadvantage, on Good Friday.

This holy staircase is composed of eight-and-twenty steps, said to have
belonged to Pontius Pilate’s house and to be the identical stair on which
Our Saviour trod, in coming down from the judgment-seat.  Pilgrims ascend
it, only on their knees.  It is steep; and, at the summit, is a chapel,
reported to be full of relics; into which they peep through some iron
bars, and then come down again, by one of two side staircases, which are
not sacred, and may be walked on.

On Good Friday, there were, on a moderate computation, a hundred people,
slowly shuffling up these stairs, on their knees, at one time; while
others, who were going up, or had come down—and a few who had done both,
and were going up again for the second time—stood loitering in the porch
below, where an old gentleman in a sort of watch-box, rattled a tin
canister, with a slit in the top, incessantly, to remind them that he
took the money.  The majority were country-people, male and female.
There were four or five Jesuit priests, however, and some half-dozen
well-dressed women.  A whole school of boys, twenty at least, were about
half-way up—evidently enjoying it very much.  They were all wedged
together, pretty closely; but the rest of the company gave the boys as
wide a berth as possible, in consequence of their betraying some
recklessness in the management of their boots.

I never, in my life, saw anything at once so ridiculous, and so
unpleasant, as this sight—ridiculous in the absurd incidents inseparable
from it; and unpleasant in its senseless and unmeaning degradation.
There are two steps to begin with, and then a rather broad landing.  The
more rigid climbers went along this landing on their knees, as well as up
the stairs; and the figures they cut, in their shuffling progress over
the level surface, no description can paint.  Then, to see them watch
their opportunity from the porch, and cut in where there was a place next
the wall!  And to see one man with an umbrella (brought on purpose, for
it was a fine day) hoisting himself, unlawfully, from stair to stair!
And to observe a demure lady of fifty-five or so, looking back, every now
and then, to assure herself that her legs were properly disposed!

There were such odd differences in the speed of different people, too.
Some got on as if they were doing a match against time; others stopped to
say a prayer on every step.  This man touched every stair with his
forehead, and kissed it; that man scratched his head all the way.  The
boys got on brilliantly, and were up and down again before the old lady
had accomplished her half-dozen stairs.  But most of the penitents came
down, very sprightly and fresh, as having done a real good substantial
deed which it would take a good deal of sin to counterbalance; and the
old gentleman in the watch-box was down upon them with his canister while
they were in this humour, I promise you.

As if such a progress were not in its nature inevitably droll enough,
there lay, on the top of the stairs, a wooden figure on a crucifix,
resting on a sort of great iron saucer: so rickety and unsteady, that
whenever an enthusiastic person kissed the figure, with more than usual
devotion, or threw a coin into the saucer, with more than common
readiness (for it served in this respect as a second or supplementary
canister), it gave a great leap and rattle, and nearly shook the
attendant lamp out: horribly frightening the people further down, and
throwing the guilty party into unspeakable embarrassment.

On Easter Sunday, as well as on the preceding Thursday, the Pope bestows
his benediction on the people, from the balcony in front of St. Peter’s.
This Easter Sunday was a day so bright and blue: so cloudless, balmy,
wonderfully bright: that all the previous bad weather vanished from the
recollection in a moment.  I had seen the Thursday’s Benediction dropping
damply on some hundreds of umbrellas, but there was not a sparkle then,
in all the hundred fountains of Rome—such fountains as they are!—and on
this Sunday morning they were running diamonds.  The miles of miserable
streets through which we drove (compelled to a certain course by the
Pope’s dragoons: the Roman police on such occasions) were so full of
colour, that nothing in them was capable of wearing a faded aspect.  The
common people came out in their gayest dresses; the richer people in
their smartest vehicles; Cardinals rattled to the church of the Poor
Fishermen in their state carriages; shabby magnificence flaunted its
thread-bare liveries and tarnished cocked hats, in the sun; and every
coach in Rome was put in requisition for the Great Piazza of St. Peter’s.

One hundred and fifty thousand people were there at least!  Yet there was
ample room.  How many carriages were there, I don’t know; yet there was
room for them too, and to spare.  The great steps of the church were
densely crowded.  There were many of the Contadini, from Albano (who
delight in red), in that part of the square, and the mingling of bright
colours in the crowd was beautiful.  Below the steps the troops were
ranged.  In the magnificent proportions of the place they looked like a
bed of flowers.  Sulky Romans, lively peasants from the neighbouring
country, groups of pilgrims from distant parts of Italy, sight-seeing
foreigners of all nations, made a murmur in the clear air, like so many
insects; and high above them all, plashing and bubbling, and making
rainbow colours in the light, the two delicious fountains welled and
tumbled bountifully.

A kind of bright carpet was hung over the front of the balcony; and the
sides of the great window were bedecked with crimson drapery.  An awning
was stretched, too, over the top, to screen the old man from the hot rays
of the sun.  As noon approached, all eyes were turned up to this window.
In due time, the chair was seen approaching to the front, with the
gigantic fans of peacock’s feathers, close behind.  The doll within it
(for the balcony is very high) then rose up, and stretched out its tiny
arms, while all the male spectators in the square uncovered, and some,
but not by any means the greater part, kneeled down.  The guns upon the
ramparts of the Castle of St. Angelo proclaimed, next moment, that the
benediction was given; drums beat; trumpets sounded; arms clashed; and
the great mass below, suddenly breaking into smaller heaps, and
scattering here and there in rills, was stirred like parti-coloured sand.

What a bright noon it was, as we rode away!  The Tiber was no longer
yellow, but blue.  There was a blush on the old bridges, that made them
fresh and hale again.  The Pantheon, with its majestic front, all seamed
and furrowed like an old face, had summer light upon its battered walls.
Every squalid and desolate hut in the Eternal City (bear witness every
grim old palace, to the filth and misery of the plebeian neighbour that
elbows it, as certain as Time has laid its grip on its patrician head!)
was fresh and new with some ray of the sun.  The very prison in the
crowded street, a whirl of carriages and people, had some stray sense of
the day, dropping through its chinks and crevices: and dismal prisoners
who could not wind their faces round the barricading of the blocked-up
windows, stretched out their hands, and clinging to the rusty bars,
turned _them_ towards the overflowing street: as if it were a cheerful
fire, and could be shared in, that way.

But, when the night came on, without a cloud to dim the full moon, what a
sight it was to see the Great Square full once more, and the whole
church, from the cross to the ground, lighted with innumerable lanterns,
tracing out the architecture, and winking and shining all round the
colonnade of the piazza!  And what a sense of exultation, joy, delight,
it was, when the great bell struck half-past seven—on the instant—to
behold one bright red mass of fire, soar gallantly from the top of the
cupola to the extremest summit of the cross, and the moment it leaped
into its place, become the signal of a bursting out of countless lights,
as great, and red, and blazing as itself, from every part of the gigantic
church; so that every cornice, capital, and smallest ornament of stone,
expressed itself in fire: and the black, solid groundwork of the enormous
dome seemed to grow transparent as an egg-shell!

A train of gunpowder, an electric chain—nothing could be fired, more
suddenly and swiftly, than this second illumination; and when we had got
away, and gone upon a distant height, and looked towards it two hours
afterwards, there it still stood, shining and glittering in the calm
night like a jewel!  Not a line of its proportions wanting; not an angle
blunted; not an atom of its radiance lost.

The next night—Easter Monday—there was a great display of fireworks from
the Castle of St. Angelo.  We hired a room in an opposite house, and made
our way, to our places, in good time, through a dense mob of people
choking up the square in front, and all the avenues leading to it; and so
loading the bridge by which the castle is approached, that it seemed
ready to sink into the rapid Tiber below.  There are statues on this
bridge (execrable works), and, among them, great vessels full of burning
tow were placed: glaring strangely on the faces of the crowd, and not
less strangely on the stone counterfeits above them.

The show began with a tremendous discharge of cannon; and then, for
twenty minutes or half an hour, the whole castle was one incessant sheet
of fire, and labyrinth of blazing wheels of every colour, size, and
speed: while rockets streamed into the sky, not by ones or twos, or
scores, but hundreds at a time.  The concluding burst—the Girandola—was
like the blowing up into the air of the whole massive castle, without
smoke or dust.

In half an hour afterwards, the immense concourse had dispersed; the moon
was looking calmly down upon her wrinkled image in the river; and
half-a-dozen men and boys, with bits of lighted candle in their hands:
moving here and there, in search of anything worth having, that might
have been dropped in the press: had the whole scene to themselves.

By way of contrast we rode out into old ruined Rome, after all this
firing and booming, to take our leave of the Coliseum.  I had seen it by
moonlight before (I could never get through a day without going back to
it), but its tremendous solitude that night is past all telling.  The
ghostly pillars in the Forum; the Triumphal Arches of Old Emperors; those
enormous masses of ruins which were once their palaces; the grass-grown
mounds that mark the graves of ruined temples; the stones of the Via
Sacra, smooth with the tread of feet in ancient Rome; even these were
dimmed, in their transcendent melancholy, by the dark ghost of its bloody
holidays, erect and grim; haunting the old scene; despoiled by pillaging
Popes and fighting Princes, but not laid; wringing wild hands of weed,
and grass, and bramble; and lamenting to the night in every gap and
broken arch—the shadow of its awful self, immovable!

As we lay down on the grass of the Campagna, next day, on our way to
Florence, hearing the larks sing, we saw that a little wooden cross had
been erected on the spot where the poor Pilgrim Countess was murdered.
So, we piled some loose stones about it, as the beginning of a mound to
her memory, and wondered if we should ever rest there again, and look
back at Rome.


WE are bound for Naples!  And we cross the threshold of the Eternal City
at yonder gate, the Gate of San Giovanni Laterano, where the two last
objects that attract the notice of a departing visitor, and the two first
objects that attract the notice of an arriving one, are a proud church
and a decaying ruin—good emblems of Rome.

Our way lies over the Campagna, which looks more solemn on a bright blue
day like this, than beneath a darker sky; the great extent of ruin being
plainer to the eye: and the sunshine through the arches of the broken
aqueducts, showing other broken arches shining through them in the
melancholy distance.  When we have traversed it, and look back from
Albano, its dark, undulating surface lies below us like a stagnant lake,
or like a broad, dull Lethe flowing round the walls of Rome, and
separating it from all the world!  How often have the Legions, in
triumphant march, gone glittering across that purple waste, so silent and
unpeopled now!  How often has the train of captives looked, with sinking
hearts, upon the distant city, and beheld its population pouring out, to
hail the return of their conqueror!  What riot, sensuality and murder,
have run mad in the vast palaces now heaps of brick and shattered marble!
What glare of fires, and roar of popular tumult, and wail of pestilence
and famine, have come sweeping over the wild plain where nothing is now
heard but the wind, and where the solitary lizards gambol unmolested in
the sun!

The train of wine-carts going into Rome, each driven by a shaggy peasant
reclining beneath a little gipsy-fashioned canopy of sheep-skin, is ended
now, and we go toiling up into a higher country where there are trees.
The next day brings us on the Pontine Marshes, wearily flat and lonesome,
and overgrown with brushwood, and swamped with water, but with a fine
road made across them, shaded by a long, long avenue.  Here and there, we
pass a solitary guard-house; here and there a hovel, deserted, and walled
up.  Some herdsmen loiter on the banks of the stream beside the road, and
sometimes a flat-bottomed boat, towed by a man, comes rippling idly along
it.  A horseman passes occasionally, carrying a long gun cross-wise on
the saddle before him, and attended by fierce dogs; but there is nothing
else astir save the wind and the shadows, until we come in sight of

How blue and bright the sea, rolling below the windows of the inn so
famous in robber stories!  How picturesque the great crags and points of
rock overhanging to-morrow’s narrow road, where galley-slaves are working
in the quarries above, and the sentinels who guard them lounge on the
sea-shore!  All night there is the murmur of the sea beneath the stars;
and, in the morning, just at daybreak, the prospect suddenly becoming
expanded, as if by a miracle, reveals—in the far distance, across the sea
there!—Naples with its islands, and Vesuvius spouting fire!  Within a
quarter of an hour, the whole is gone as if it were a vision in the
clouds, and there is nothing but the sea and sky.

The Neapolitan frontier crossed, after two hours’ travelling; and the
hungriest of soldiers and custom-house officers with difficulty appeased;
we enter, by a gateless portal, into the first Neapolitan town—Fondi.
Take note of Fondi, in the name of all that is wretched and beggarly.

A filthy channel of mud and refuse meanders down the centre of the
miserable streets, fed by obscene rivulets that trickle from the abject
houses.  There is not a door, a window, or a shutter; not a roof, a wall,
a post, or a pillar, in all Fondi, but is decayed, and crazy, and rotting
away.  The wretched history of the town, with all its sieges and pillages
by Barbarossa and the rest, might have been acted last year.  How the
gaunt dogs that sneak about the miserable streets, come to be alive, and
undevoured by the people, is one of the enigmas of the world.

A hollow-cheeked and scowling people they are!  All beggars; but that’s
nothing.  Look at them as they gather round.  Some, are too indolent to
come down-stairs, or are too wisely mistrustful of the stairs, perhaps,
to venture: so stretch out their lean hands from upper windows, and howl;
others, come flocking about us, fighting and jostling one another, and
demanding, incessantly, charity for the love of God, charity for the love
of the Blessed Virgin, charity for the love of all the Saints.  A group
of miserable children, almost naked, screaming forth the same petition,
discover that they can see themselves reflected in the varnish of the
carriage, and begin to dance and make grimaces, that they may have the
pleasure of seeing their antics repeated in this mirror.  A crippled
idiot, in the act of striking one of them who drowns his clamorous demand
for charity, observes his angry counterpart in the panel, stops short,
and thrusting out his tongue, begins to wag his head and chatter.  The
shrill cry raised at this, awakens half-a-dozen wild creatures wrapped in
frowsy brown cloaks, who are lying on the church-steps with pots and pans
for sale.  These, scrambling up, approach, and beg defiantly.  ‘I am
hungry.  Give me something.  Listen to me, Signor.  I am hungry!’  Then,
a ghastly old woman, fearful of being too late, comes hobbling down the
street, stretching out one hand, and scratching herself all the way with
the other, and screaming, long before she can be heard, ‘Charity,
charity!  I’ll go and pray for you directly, beautiful lady, if you’ll
give me charity!’  Lastly, the members of a brotherhood for burying the
dead: hideously masked, and attired in shabby black robes, white at the
skirts, with the splashes of many muddy winters: escorted by a dirty
priest, and a congenial cross-bearer: come hurrying past.  Surrounded by
this motley concourse, we move out of Fondi: bad bright eyes glaring at
us, out of the darkness of every crazy tenement, like glistening
fragments of its filth and putrefaction.

A noble mountain-pass, with the ruins of a fort on a strong eminence,
traditionally called the Fort of Fra Diavolo; the old town of Itrí, like
a device in pastry, built up, almost perpendicularly, on a hill, and
approached by long steep flights of steps; beautiful Mola di Gaëta, whose
wines, like those of Albano, have degenerated since the days of Horace,
or his taste for wine was bad: which is not likely of one who enjoyed it
so much, and extolled it so well; another night upon the road at St.
Agatha; a rest next day at Capua, which is picturesque, but hardly so
seductive to a traveller now, as the soldiers of Prætorian Rome were wont
to find the ancient city of that name; a flat road among vines festooned
and looped from tree to tree; and Mount Vesuvius close at hand at
last!—its cone and summit whitened with snow; and its smoke hanging over
it, in the heavy atmosphere of the day, like a dense cloud.  So we go,
rattling down hill, into Naples.

A funeral is coming up the street, towards us.  The body, on an open
bier, borne on a kind of palanquin, covered with a gay cloth of crimson
and gold.  The mourners, in white gowns and masks.  If there be death
abroad, life is well represented too, for all Naples would seem to be out
of doors, and tearing to and fro in carriages.  Some of these, the common
Vetturíno vehicles, are drawn by three horses abreast, decked with smart
trappings and great abundance of brazen ornament, and always going very
fast.  Not that their loads are light; for the smallest of them has at
least six people inside, four in front, four or five more hanging on
behind, and two or three more, in a net or bag below the axle-tree, where
they lie half-suffocated with mud and dust.  Exhibitors of Punch, buffo
singers with guitars, reciters of poetry, reciters of stories, a row of
cheap exhibitions with clowns and showmen, drums, and trumpets, painted
cloths representing the wonders within, and admiring crowds assembled
without, assist the whirl and bustle.  Ragged lazzaroni lie asleep in
doorways, archways, and kennels; the gentry, gaily dressed, are dashing
up and down in carriages on the Chiaji, or walking in the Public Gardens;
and quiet letter-writers, perched behind their little desks and inkstands
under the Portico of the Great Theatre of San Carlo, in the public
street, are waiting for clients.

Here is a galley-slave in chains, who wants a letter written to a friend.
He approaches a clerkly-looking man, sitting under the corner arch, and
makes his bargain.  He has obtained permission of the sentinel who guards
him: who stands near, leaning against the wall and cracking nuts.  The
galley-slave dictates in the ear of the letter-writer, what he desires to
say; and as he can’t read writing, looks intently in his face, to read
there whether he sets down faithfully what he is told.  After a time, the
galley-slave becomes discursive—incoherent.  The secretary pauses and
rubs his chin.  The galley-slave is voluble and energetic.  The
secretary, at length, catches the idea, and with the air of a man who
knows how to word it, sets it down; stopping, now and then, to glance
back at his text admiringly.  The galley-slave is silent.  The soldier
stoically cracks his nuts.  Is there anything more to say? inquires the
letter-writer.  No more.  Then listen, friend of mine.  He reads it
through.  The galley-slave is quite enchanted.  It is folded, and
addressed, and given to him, and he pays the fee.  The secretary falls
back indolently in his chair, and takes a book.  The galley-slave gathers
up an empty sack.  The sentinel throws away a handful of nut-shells,
shoulders his musket, and away they go together.

Why do the beggars rap their chins constantly, with their right hands,
when you look at them?  Everything is done in pantomime in Naples, and
that is the conventional sign for hunger.  A man who is quarrelling with
another, yonder, lays the palm of his right hand on the back of his left,
and shakes the two thumbs—expressive of a donkey’s ears—whereat his
adversary is goaded to desperation.  Two people bargaining for fish, the
buyer empties an imaginary waistcoat pocket when he is told the price,
and walks away without a word: having thoroughly conveyed to the seller
that he considers it too dear.  Two people in carriages, meeting, one
touches his lips, twice or thrice, holding up the five fingers of his
right hand, and gives a horizontal cut in the air with the palm.  The
other nods briskly, and goes his way.  He has been invited to a friendly
dinner at half-past five o’clock, and will certainly come.

All over Italy, a peculiar shake of the right hand from the wrist, with
the forefinger stretched out, expresses a negative—the only negative
beggars will ever understand.  But, in Naples, those five fingers are a
copious language.

All this, and every other kind of out-door life and stir, and
macaroni-eating at sunset, and flower-selling all day long, and begging
and stealing everywhere and at all hours, you see upon the bright
sea-shore, where the waves of the bay sparkle merrily.  But, lovers and
hunters of the picturesque, let us not keep too studiously out of view
the miserable depravity, degradation, and wretchedness, with which this
gay Neapolitan life is inseparably associated!  It is not well to find
Saint Giles’s so repulsive, and the Porta Capuana so attractive.  A pair
of naked legs and a ragged red scarf, do not make _all_ the difference
between what is interesting and what is coarse and odious?  Painting and
poetising for ever, if you will, the beauties of this most beautiful and
lovely spot of earth, let us, as our duty, try to associate a new
picturesque with some faint recognition of man’s destiny and
capabilities; more hopeful, I believe, among the ice and snow of the
North Pole, than in the sun and bloom of Naples.

Capri—once made odious by the deified beast Tiberius—Ischia, Procida, and
the thousand distant beauties of the Bay, lie in the blue sea yonder,
changing in the mist and sunshine twenty times a-day: now close at hand,
now far off, now unseen.  The fairest country in the world, is spread
about us.  Whether we turn towards the Miseno shore of the splendid
watery amphitheatre, and go by the Grotto of Posilipo to the Grotto del
Cane and away to Baiæ: or take the other way, towards Vesuvius and
Sorrento, it is one succession of delights.  In the last-named direction,
where, over doors and archways, there are countless little images of San
Gennaro, with his Canute’s hand stretched out, to check the fury of the
Burning Mountain, we are carried pleasantly, by a railroad on the
beautiful Sea Beach, past the town of Torre del Greco, built upon the
ashes of the former town destroyed by an eruption of Vesuvius, within a
hundred years; and past the flat-roofed houses, granaries, and macaroni
manufactories; to Castel-a-Mare, with its ruined castle, now inhabited by
fishermen, standing in the sea upon a heap of rocks.  Here, the railroad
terminates; but, hence we may ride on, by an unbroken succession of
enchanting bays, and beautiful scenery, sloping from the highest summit
of Saint Angelo, the highest neighbouring mountain, down to the water’s
edge—among vineyards, olive-trees, gardens of oranges and lemons,
orchards, heaped-up rocks, green gorges in the hills—and by the bases of
snow-covered heights, and through small towns with handsome, dark-haired
women at the doors—and pass delicious summer villas—to Sorrento, where
the Poet Tasso drew his inspiration from the beauty surrounding him.
Returning, we may climb the heights above Castel-a-Mare, and looking down
among the boughs and leaves, see the crisp water glistening in the sun;
and clusters of white houses in distant Naples, dwindling, in the great
extent of prospect, down to dice.  The coming back to the city, by the
beach again, at sunset: with the glowing sea on one side, and the
darkening mountain, with its smoke and flame, upon the other: is a
sublime conclusion to the glory of the day.

That church by the Porta Capuana—near the old fisher-market in the
dirtiest quarter of dirty Naples, where the revolt of Masaniello began—is
memorable for having been the scene of one of his earliest proclamations
to the people, and is particularly remarkable for nothing else, unless it
be its waxen and bejewelled Saint in a glass case, with two odd hands; or
the enormous number of beggars who are constantly rapping their chins
there, like a battery of castanets.  The cathedral with the beautiful
door, and the columns of African and Egyptian granite that once
ornamented the temple of Apollo, contains the famous sacred blood of San
Gennaro or Januarius: which is preserved in two phials in a silver
tabernacle, and miraculously liquefies three times a-year, to the great
admiration of the people.  At the same moment, the stone (distant some
miles) where the Saint suffered martyrdom, becomes faintly red.  It is
said that the officiating priests turn faintly red also, sometimes, when
these miracles occur.

The old, old men who live in hovels at the entrance of these ancient
catacombs, and who, in their age and infirmity, seem waiting here, to be
buried themselves, are members of a curious body, called the Royal
Hospital, who are the official attendants at funerals.  Two of these old
spectres totter away, with lighted tapers, to show the caverns of
death—as unconcerned as if they were immortal.  They were used as
burying-places for three hundred years; and, in one part, is a large pit
full of skulls and bones, said to be the sad remains of a great mortality
occasioned by a plague.  In the rest there is nothing but dust.  They
consist, chiefly, of great wide corridors and labyrinths, hewn out of the
rock.  At the end of some of these long passages, are unexpected glimpses
of the daylight, shining down from above.  It looks as ghastly and as
strange; among the torches, and the dust, and the dark vaults: as if it,
too, were dead and buried.

The present burial-place lies out yonder, on a hill between the city and
Vesuvius.  The old Campo Santo with its three hundred and sixty-five
pits, is only used for those who die in hospitals, and prisons, and are
unclaimed by their friends.  The graceful new cemetery, at no great
distance from it, though yet unfinished, has already many graves among
its shrubs and flowers, and airy colonnades.  It might be reasonably
objected elsewhere, that some of the tombs are meretricious and too
fanciful; but the general brightness seems to justify it here; and Mount
Vesuvius, separated from them by a lovely slope of ground, exalts and
saddens the scene.

If it be solemn to behold from this new City of the Dead, with its dark
smoke hanging in the clear sky, how much more awful and impressive is it,
viewed from the ghostly ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii!

Stand at the bottom of the great market-place of Pompeii, and look up the
silent streets, through the ruined temples of Jupiter and Isis, over the
broken houses with their inmost sanctuaries open to the day, away to
Mount Vesuvius, bright and snowy in the peaceful distance; and lose all
count of time, and heed of other things, in the strange and melancholy
sensation of seeing the Destroyed and the Destroyer making this quiet
picture in the sun.  Then, ramble on, and see, at every turn, the little
familiar tokens of human habitation and every-day pursuits; the chafing
of the bucket-rope in the stone rim of the exhausted well; the track of
carriage-wheels in the pavement of the street; the marks of
drinking-vessels on the stone counter of the wine-shop; the amphoræ in
private cellars, stored away so many hundred years ago, and undisturbed
to this hour—all rendering the solitude and deadly lonesomeness of the
place, ten thousand times more solemn, than if the volcano, in its fury,
had swept the city from the earth, and sunk it in the bottom of the sea.

After it was shaken by the earthquake which preceded the eruption,
workmen were employed in shaping out, in stone, new ornaments for temples
and other buildings that had suffered.  Here lies their work, outside the
city gate, as if they would return to-morrow.

In the cellar of Diomede’s house, where certain skeletons were found
huddled together, close to the door, the impression of their bodies on
the ashes, hardened with the ashes, and became stamped and fixed there,
after they had shrunk, inside, to scanty bones.  So, in the theatre of
Herculaneum, a comic mask, floating on the stream when it was hot and
liquid, stamped its mimic features in it as it hardened into stone; and
now, it turns upon the stranger the fantastic look it turned upon the
audiences in that same theatre two thousand years ago.

Next to the wonder of going up and down the streets, and in and out of
the houses, and traversing the secret chambers of the temples of a
religion that has vanished from the earth, and finding so many fresh
traces of remote antiquity: as if the course of Time had been stopped
after this desolation, and there had been no nights and days, months,
years, and centuries, since: nothing is more impressive and terrible than
the many evidences of the searching nature of the ashes, as bespeaking
their irresistible power, and the impossibility of escaping them.  In the
wine-cellars, they forced their way into the earthen vessels: displacing
the wine and choking them, to the brim, with dust.  In the tombs, they
forced the ashes of the dead from the funeral urns, and rained new ruin
even into them.  The mouths, and eyes, and skulls of all the skeletons,
were stuffed with this terrible hail.  In Herculaneum, where the flood
was of a different and a heavier kind, it rolled in, like a sea.  Imagine
a deluge of water turned to marble, at its height—and that is what is
called ‘the lava’ here.

Some workmen were digging the gloomy well on the brink of which we now
stand, looking down, when they came on some of the stone benches of the
theatre—those steps (for such they seem) at the bottom of the
excavation—and found the buried city of Herculaneum.  Presently going
down, with lighted torches, we are perplexed by great walls of monstrous
thickness, rising up between the benches, shutting out the stage,
obtruding their shapeless forms in absurd places, confusing the whole
plan, and making it a disordered dream.  We cannot, at first, believe, or
picture to ourselves, that THIS came rolling in, and drowned the city;
and that all that is not here, has been cut away, by the axe, like solid
stone.  But this perceived and understood, the horror and oppression of
its presence are indescribable.

Many of the paintings on the walls in the roofless chambers of both
cities, or carefully removed to the museum at Naples, are as fresh and
plain, as if they had been executed yesterday.  Here are subjects of
still life, as provisions, dead game, bottles, glasses, and the like;
familiar classical stories, or mythological fables, always forcibly and
plainly told; conceits of cupids, quarrelling, sporting, working at
trades; theatrical rehearsals; poets reading their productions to their
friends; inscriptions chalked upon the walls; political squibs,
advertisements, rough drawings by schoolboys; everything to people and
restore the ancient cities, in the fancy of their wondering visitor.
Furniture, too, you see, of every kind—lamps, tables, couches; vessels
for eating, drinking, and cooking; workmen’s tools, surgical instruments,
tickets for the theatre, pieces of money, personal ornaments, bunches of
keys found clenched in the grasp of skeletons, helmets of guards and
warriors; little household bells, yet musical with their old domestic

The least among these objects, lends its aid to swell the interest of
Vesuvius, and invest it with a perfect fascination.  The looking, from
either ruined city, into the neighbouring grounds overgrown with
beautiful vines and luxuriant trees; and remembering that house upon
house, temple on temple, building after building, and street after
street, are still lying underneath the roots of all the quiet
cultivation, waiting to be turned up to the light of day; is something so
wonderful, so full of mystery, so captivating to the imagination, that
one would think it would be paramount, and yield to nothing else.  To
nothing but Vesuvius; but the mountain is the genius of the scene.  From
every indication of the ruin it has worked, we look, again, with an
absorbing interest to where its smoke is rising up into the sky.  It is
beyond us, as we thread the ruined streets: above us, as we stand upon
the ruined walls, we follow it through every vista of broken columns, as
we wander through the empty court-yards of the houses; and through the
garlandings and interlacings of every wanton vine.  Turning away to
Pæstum yonder, to see the awful structures built, the least aged of them,
hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, and standing yet, erect in
lonely majesty, upon the wild, malaria-blighted plain—we watch Vesuvius
as it disappears from the prospect, and watch for it again, on our
return, with the same thrill of interest: as the doom and destiny of all
this beautiful country, biding its terrible time.

It is very warm in the sun, on this early spring-day, when we return from
Pæstum, but very cold in the shade: insomuch, that although we may lunch,
pleasantly, at noon, in the open air, by the gate of Pompeii, the
neighbouring rivulet supplies thick ice for our wine.  But, the sun is
shining brightly; there is not a cloud or speck of vapour in the whole
blue sky, looking down upon the bay of Naples; and the moon will be at
the full to-night.  No matter that the snow and ice lie thick upon the
summit of Vesuvius, or that we have been on foot all day at Pompeii, or
that croakers maintain that strangers should not be on the mountain by
night, in such an unusual season.  Let us take advantage of the fine
weather; make the best of our way to Resina, the little village at the
foot of the mountain; prepare ourselves, as well as we can, on so short a
notice, at the guide’s house; ascend at once, and have sunset half-way
up, moonlight at the top, and midnight to come down in!

At four o’clock in the afternoon, there is a terrible uproar in the
little stable-yard of Signior Salvatore, the recognised head-guide, with
the gold band round his cap; and thirty under-guides who are all
scuffling and screaming at once, are preparing half-a-dozen saddled
ponies, three litters, and some stout staves, for the journey.  Every one
of the thirty, quarrels with the other twenty-nine, and frightens the six
ponies; and as much of the village as can possibly squeeze itself into
the little stable-yard, participates in the tumult, and gets trodden on
by the cattle.

After much violent skirmishing, and more noise than would suffice for the
storming of Naples, the procession starts.  The head-guide, who is
liberally paid for all the attendants, rides a little in advance of the
party; the other thirty guides proceed on foot.  Eight go forward with
the litters that are to be used by-and-by; and the remaining
two-and-twenty beg.

We ascend, gradually, by stony lanes like rough broad flights of stairs,
for some time.  At length, we leave these, and the vineyards on either
side of them, and emerge upon a bleak bare region where the lava lies
confusedly, in enormous rusty masses; as if the earth had been ploughed
up by burning thunderbolts.  And now, we halt to see the sun set.  The
change that falls upon the dreary region, and on the whole mountain, as
its red light fades, and the night comes on—and the unutterable solemnity
and dreariness that reign around, who that has witnessed it, can ever

It is dark, when after winding, for some time, over the broken ground, we
arrive at the foot of the cone: which is extremely steep, and seems to
rise, almost perpendicularly, from the spot where we dismount.  The only
light is reflected from the snow, deep, hard, and white, with which the
cone is covered.  It is now intensely cold, and the air is piercing.  The
thirty-one have brought no torches, knowing that the moon will rise
before we reach the top.  Two of the litters are devoted to the two
ladies; the third, to a rather heavy gentleman from Naples, whose
hospitality and good-nature have attached him to the expedition, and
determined him to assist in doing the honours of the mountain.  The
rather heavy gentleman is carried by fifteen men; each of the ladies by
half-a-dozen.  We who walk, make the best use of our staves; and so the
whole party begin to labour upward over the snow,—as if they were toiling
to the summit of an antediluvian Twelfth-cake.

We are a long time toiling up; and the head-guide looks oddly about him
when one of the company—not an Italian, though an habitué of the mountain
for many years: whom we will call, for our present purpose, Mr. Pickle of
Portici—suggests that, as it is freezing hard, and the usual footing of
ashes is covered by the snow and ice, it will surely be difficult to
descend.  But the sight of the litters above, tilting up and down, and
jerking from this side to that, as the bearers continually slip and
tumble, diverts our attention; more especially as the whole length of the
rather heavy gentleman is, at that moment, presented to us alarmingly
foreshortened, with his head downwards.

The rising of the moon soon afterwards, revives the flagging spirits of
the bearers.  Stimulating each other with their usual watchword,
‘Courage, friend!  It is to eat macaroni!’ they press on, gallantly, for
the summit.

From tingeing the top of the snow above us, with a band of light, and
pouring it in a stream through the valley below, while we have been
ascending in the dark, the moon soon lights the whole white
mountain-side, and the broad sea down below, and tiny Naples in the
distance, and every village in the country round.  The whole prospect is
in this lovely state, when we come upon the platform on the
mountain-top—the region of Fire—an exhausted crater formed of great
masses of gigantic cinders, like blocks of stone from some tremendous
waterfall, burnt up; from every chink and crevice of which, hot,
sulphurous smoke is pouring out: while, from another conical-shaped hill,
the present crater, rising abruptly from this platform at the end, great
sheets of fire are streaming forth: reddening the night with flame,
blackening it with smoke, and spotting it with red-hot stones and
cinders, that fly up into the air like feathers, and fall down like lead.
What words can paint the gloom and grandeur of this scene!

The broken ground; the smoke; the sense of suffocation from the sulphur:
the fear of falling down through the crevices in the yawning ground; the
stopping, every now and then, for somebody who is missing in the dark
(for the dense smoke now obscures the moon); the intolerable noise of the
thirty; and the hoarse roaring of the mountain; make it a scene of such
confusion, at the same time, that we reel again.  But, dragging the
ladies through it, and across another exhausted crater to the foot of the
present Volcano, we approach close to it on the windy side, and then sit
down among the hot ashes at its foot, and look up in silence; faintly
estimating the action that is going on within, from its being full a
hundred feet higher, at this minute, than it was six weeks ago.

There is something in the fire and roar, that generates an irresistible
desire to get nearer to it.  We cannot rest long, without starting off,
two of us, on our hands and knees, accompanied by the head-guide, to
climb to the brim of the flaming crater, and try to look in.  Meanwhile,
the thirty yell, as with one voice, that it is a dangerous proceeding,
and call to us to come back; frightening the rest of the party out of
their wits.

What with their noise, and what with the trembling of the thin crust of
ground, that seems about to open underneath our feet and plunge us in the
burning gulf below (which is the real danger, if there be any); and what
with the flashing of the fire in our faces, and the shower of red-hot
ashes that is raining down, and the choking smoke and sulphur; we may
well feel giddy and irrational, like drunken men.  But, we contrive to
climb up to the brim, and look down, for a moment, into the Hell of
boiling fire below.  Then, we all three come rolling down; blackened, and
singed, and scorched, and hot, and giddy: and each with his dress alight
in half-a-dozen places.

You have read, a thousand times, that the usual way of descending, is, by
sliding down the ashes: which, forming a gradually-increasing ledge below
the feet, prevent too rapid a descent.  But, when we have crossed the two
exhausted craters on our way back and are come to this precipitous place,
there is (as Mr. Pickle has foretold) no vestige of ashes to be seen; the
whole being a smooth sheet of ice.

In this dilemma, ten or a dozen of the guides cautiously join hands, and
make a chain of men; of whom the foremost beat, as well as they can, a
rough track with their sticks, down which we prepare to follow.  The way
being fearfully steep, and none of the party: even of the thirty: being
able to keep their feet for six paces together, the ladies are taken out
of their litters, and placed, each between two careful persons; while
others of the thirty hold by their skirts, to prevent their falling
forward—a necessary precaution, tending to the immediate and hopeless
dilapidation of their apparel.  The rather heavy gentleman is abjured to
leave his litter too, and be escorted in a similar manner; but he
resolves to be brought down as he was brought up, on the principle that
his fifteen bearers are not likely to tumble all at once, and that he is
safer so, than trusting to his own legs.

In this order, we begin the descent: sometimes on foot, sometimes
shuffling on the ice: always proceeding much more quietly and slowly,
than on our upward way: and constantly alarmed by the falling among us of
somebody from behind, who endangers the footing of the whole party, and
clings pertinaciously to anybody’s ankles.  It is impossible for the
litter to be in advance, too, as the track has to be made; and its
appearance behind us, overhead—with some one or other of the bearers
always down, and the rather heavy gentleman with his legs always in the
air—is very threatening and frightful.  We have gone on thus, a very
little way, painfully and anxiously, but quite merrily, and regarding it
as a great success—and have all fallen several times, and have all been
stopped, somehow or other, as we were sliding away—when Mr. Pickle of
Portici, in the act of remarking on these uncommon circumstances as quite
beyond his experience, stumbles, falls, disengages himself, with quick
presence of mind, from those about him, plunges away head foremost, and
rolls, over and over, down the whole surface of the cone!

Sickening as it is to look, and be so powerless to help him, I see him
there, in the moonlight—I have had such a dream often—skimming over the
white ice, like a cannon-ball.  Almost at the same moment, there is a cry
from behind; and a man who has carried a light basket of spare cloaks on
his head, comes rolling past, at the same frightful speed, closely
followed by a boy.  At this climax of the chapter of accidents, the
remaining eight-and-twenty vociferate to that degree, that a pack of
wolves would be music to them!

Giddy, and bloody, and a mere bundle of rags, is Pickle of Portici when
we reach the place where we dismounted, and where the horses are waiting;
but, thank God, sound in limb!  And never are we likely to be more glad
to see a man alive and on his feet, than to see him now—making light of
it too, though sorely bruised and in great pain.  The boy is brought into
the Hermitage on the Mountain, while we are at supper, with his head tied
up; and the man is heard of, some hours afterwards.  He too is bruised
and stunned, but has broken no bones; the snow having, fortunately,
covered all the larger blocks of rock and stone, and rendered them

After a cheerful meal, and a good rest before a blazing fire, we again
take horse, and continue our descent to Salvatore’s house—very slowly, by
reason of our bruised friend being hardly able to keep the saddle, or
endure the pain of motion.  Though it is so late at night, or early in
the morning, all the people of the village are waiting about the little
stable-yard when we arrive, and looking up the road by which we are
expected.  Our appearance is hailed with a great clamour of tongues, and
a general sensation for which in our modesty we are somewhat at a loss to
account, until, turning into the yard, we find that one of a party of
French gentlemen who were on the mountain at the same time is lying on
some straw in the stable, with a broken limb: looking like Death, and
suffering great torture; and that we were confidently supposed to have
encountered some worse accident.

So ‘well returned, and Heaven be praised!’ as the cheerful Vetturíno, who
has borne us company all the way from Pisa, says, with all his heart!
And away with his ready horses, into sleeping Naples!

It wakes again to Policinelli and pickpockets, buffo singers and beggars,
rags, puppets, flowers, brightness, dirt, and universal degradation;
airing its Harlequin suit in the sunshine, next day and every day;
singing, starving, dancing, gaming, on the sea-shore; and leaving all
labour to the burning mountain, which is ever at its work.

Our English dilettanti would be very pathetic on the subject of the
national taste, if they could hear an Italian opera half as badly sung in
England as we may hear the Foscari performed, to-night, in the splendid
theatre of San Carlo.  But, for astonishing truth and spirit in seizing
and embodying the real life about it, the shabby little San Carlino
Theatre—the rickety house one story high, with a staring picture outside:
down among the drums and trumpets, and the tumblers, and the lady
conjurer—is without a rival anywhere.

There is one extraordinary feature in the real life of Naples, at which
we may take a glance before we go—the Lotteries.

They prevail in most parts of Italy, but are particularly obvious, in
their effects and influences, here.  They are drawn every Saturday.  They
bring an immense revenue to the Government; and diffuse a taste for
gambling among the poorest of the poor, which is very comfortable to the
coffers of the State, and very ruinous to themselves.  The lowest stake
is one grain; less than a farthing.  One hundred numbers—from one to a
hundred, inclusive—are put into a box.  Five are drawn.  Those are the
prizes.  I buy three numbers.  If one of them come up, I win a small
prize.  If two, some hundreds of times my stake.  If three, three
thousand five hundred times my stake.  I stake (or play as they call it)
what I can upon my numbers, and buy what numbers I please.  The amount I
play, I pay at the lottery office, where I purchase the ticket; and it is
stated on the ticket itself.

Every lottery office keeps a printed book, an Universal Lottery Diviner,
where every possible accident and circumstance is provided for, and has a
number against it.  For instance, let us take two carlini—about
sevenpence.  On our way to the lottery office, we run against a black
man.  When we get there, we say gravely, ‘The Diviner.’  It is handed
over the counter, as a serious matter of business.  We look at black man.
Such a number.  ‘Give us that.’  We look at running against a person in
the street.  ‘Give us that.’  We look at the name of the street itself.
‘Give us that.’  Now, we have our three numbers.

If the roof of the theatre of San Carlo were to fall in, so many people
would play upon the numbers attached to such an accident in the Diviner,
that the Government would soon close those numbers, and decline to run
the risk of losing any more upon them.  This often happens.  Not long
ago, when there was a fire in the King’s Palace, there was such a
desperate run on fire, and king, and palace, that further stakes on the
numbers attached to those words in the Golden Book were forbidden.  Every
accident or event, is supposed, by the ignorant populace, to be a
revelation to the beholder, or party concerned, in connection with the
lottery.  Certain people who have a talent for dreaming fortunately, are
much sought after; and there are some priests who are constantly favoured
with visions of the lucky numbers.

I heard of a horse running away with a man, and dashing him down, dead,
at the corner of a street.  Pursuing the horse with incredible speed, was
another man, who ran so fast, that he came up, immediately after the
accident.  He threw himself upon his knees beside the unfortunate rider,
and clasped his hand with an expression of the wildest grief.  ‘If you
have life,’ he said, ‘speak one word to me!  If you have one gasp of
breath left, mention your age for Heaven’s sake, that I may play that
number in the lottery.’

It is four o’clock in the afternoon, and we may go to see our lottery
drawn.  The ceremony takes place every Saturday, in the Tribunale, or
Court of Justice—this singular, earthy-smelling room, or gallery, as
mouldy as an old cellar, and as damp as a dungeon.  At the upper end is a
platform, with a large horse-shoe table upon it; and a President and
Council sitting round—all judges of the Law.  The man on the little stool
behind the President, is the Capo Lazzarone, a kind of tribune of the
people, appointed on their behalf to see that all is fairly conducted:
attended by a few personal friends.  A ragged, swarthy fellow he is: with
long matted hair hanging down all over his face: and covered, from head
to foot, with most unquestionably genuine dirt.  All the body of the room
is filled with the commonest of the Neapolitan people: and between them
and the platform, guarding the steps leading to the latter, is a small
body of soldiers.

There is some delay in the arrival of the necessary number of judges;
during which, the box, in which the numbers are being placed, is a source
of the deepest interest.  When the box is full, the boy who is to draw
the numbers out of it becomes the prominent feature of the proceedings.
He is already dressed for his part, in a tight brown Holland coat, with
only one (the left) sleeve to it, which leaves his right arm bared to the
shoulder, ready for plunging down into the mysterious chest.

During the hush and whisper that pervade the room, all eyes are turned on
this young minister of fortune.  People begin to inquire his age, with a
view to the next lottery; and the number of his brothers and sisters; and
the age of his father and mother; and whether he has any moles or pimples
upon him; and where, and how many; when the arrival of the last judge but
one (a little old man, universally dreaded as possessing the Evil Eye)
makes a slight diversion, and would occasion a greater one, but that he
is immediately deposed, as a source of interest, by the officiating
priest, who advances gravely to his place, followed by a very dirty
little boy, carrying his sacred vestments, and a pot of Holy Water.

Here is the last judge come at last, and now he takes his place at the
horse-shoe table.

There is a murmur of irrepressible agitation.  In the midst of it, the
priest puts his head into the sacred vestments, and pulls the same over
his shoulders.  Then he says a silent prayer; and dipping a brush into
the pot of Holy Water, sprinkles it over the box—and over the boy, and
gives them a double-barrelled blessing, which the box and the boy are
both hoisted on the table to receive.  The boy remaining on the table,
the box is now carried round the front of the platform, by an attendant,
who holds it up and shakes it lustily all the time; seeming to say, like
the conjurer, ‘There is no deception, ladies and gentlemen; keep your
eyes upon me, if you please!’

At last, the box is set before the boy; and the boy, first holding up his
naked arm and open hand, dives down into the hole (it is made like a
ballot-box) and pulls out a number, which is rolled up, round something
hard, like a bonbon.  This he hands to the judge next him, who unrolls a
little bit, and hands it to the President, next to whom he sits.  The
President unrolls it, very slowly.  The Capo Lazzarone leans over his
shoulder.  The President holds it up, unrolled, to the Capo Lazzarone.
The Capo Lazzarone, looking at it eagerly, cries out, in a shrill, loud
voice, ‘Sessantadue!’ (sixty-two), expressing the two upon his fingers,
as he calls it out.  Alas! the Capo Lazzarone himself has not staked on
sixty-two.  His face is very long, and his eyes roll wildly.

As it happens to be a favourite number, however, it is pretty well
received, which is not always the case.  They are all drawn with the same
ceremony, omitting the blessing.  One blessing is enough for the whole
multiplication-table.  The only new incident in the proceedings, is the
gradually deepening intensity of the change in the Cape Lazzarone, who
has, evidently, speculated to the very utmost extent of his means; and
who, when he sees the last number, and finds that it is not one of his,
clasps his hands, and raises his eyes to the ceiling before proclaiming
it, as though remonstrating, in a secret agony, with his patron saint,
for having committed so gross a breach of confidence.  I hope the Capo
Lazzarone may not desert him for some other member of the Calendar, but
he seems to threaten it.

Where the winners may be, nobody knows.  They certainly are not present;
the general disappointment filling one with pity for the poor people.
They look: when we stand aside, observing them, in their passage through
the court-yard down below: as miserable as the prisoners in the gaol (it
forms a part of the building), who are peeping down upon them, from
between their bars; or, as the fragments of human heads which are still
dangling in chains outside, in memory of the good old times, when their
owners were strung up there, for the popular edification.

Away from Naples in a glorious sunrise, by the road to Capua, and then on
a three days’ journey along by-roads, that we may see, on the way, the
monastery of Monte Cassino, which is perched on the steep and lofty hill
above the little town of San Germano, and is lost on a misty morning in
the clouds.

So much the better, for the deep sounding of its bell, which, as we go
winding up, on mules, towards the convent, is heard mysteriously in the
still air, while nothing is seen but the grey mist, moving solemnly and
slowly, like a funeral procession.  Behold, at length the shadowy pile of
building close before us: its grey walls and towers dimly seen, though so
near and so vast: and the raw vapour rolling through its cloisters

There are two black shadows walking to and fro in the quadrangle, near
the statues of the Patron Saint and his sister; and hopping on behind
them, in and out of the old arches, is a raven, croaking in answer to the
bell, and uttering, at intervals, the purest Tuscan.  How like a Jesuit
he looks!  There never was a sly and stealthy fellow so at home as is
this raven, standing now at the refectory door, with his head on one
side, and pretending to glance another way, while he is scrutinizing the
visitors keenly, and listening with fixed attention.  What a dull-headed
monk the porter becomes in comparison!

‘He speaks like us!’ says the porter: ‘quite as plainly.’  Quite as
plainly, Porter.  Nothing could be more expressive than his reception of
the peasants who are entering the gate with baskets and burdens.  There
is a roll in his eye, and a chuckle in his throat, which should qualify
him to be chosen Superior of an Order of Ravens.  He knows all about it.
‘It’s all right,’ he says.  ‘We know what we know.  Come along, good
people.  Glad to see you!’  How was this extraordinary structure ever
built in such a situation, where the labour of conveying the stone, and
iron, and marble, so great a height, must have been prodigious?  ‘Caw!’
says the raven, welcoming the peasants.  How, being despoiled by plunder,
fire and earthquake, has it risen from its ruins, and been again made
what we now see it, with its church so sumptuous and magnificent?  ‘Caw!’
says the raven, welcoming the peasants.  These people have a miserable
appearance, and (as usual) are densely ignorant, and all beg, while the
monks are chaunting in the chapel.  ‘Caw!’ says the raven, ‘Cuckoo!’

So we leave him, chuckling and rolling his eye at the convent gate, and
wind slowly down again through the cloud.  At last emerging from it, we
come in sight of the village far below, and the flat green country
intersected by rivulets; which is pleasant and fresh to see after the
obscurity and haze of the convent—no disrespect to the raven, or the holy

Away we go again, by muddy roads, and through the most shattered and
tattered of villages, where there is not a whole window among all the
houses, or a whole garment among all the peasants, or the least
appearance of anything to eat, in any of the wretched hucksters’ shops.
The women wear a bright red bodice laced before and behind, a white
skirt, and the Neapolitan head-dress of square folds of linen,
primitively meant to carry loads on.  The men and children wear anything
they can get.  The soldiers are as dirty and rapacious as the dogs.  The
inns are such hobgoblin places, that they are infinitely more attractive
and amusing than the best hotels in Paris.  Here is one near Valmontone
(that is Valmontone the round, walled town on the mount opposite), which
is approached by a quagmire almost knee-deep.  There is a wild colonnade
below, and a dark yard full of empty stables and lofts, and a great long
kitchen with a great long bench and a great long form, where a party of
travellers, with two priests among them, are crowding round the fire
while their supper is cooking.  Above stairs, is a rough brick gallery to
sit in, with very little windows with very small patches of knotty glass
in them, and all the doors that open from it (a dozen or two) off their
hinges, and a bare board on tressels for a table, at which thirty people
might dine easily, and a fireplace large enough in itself for a
breakfast-parlour, where, as the faggots blaze and crackle, they
illuminate the ugliest and grimmest of faces, drawn in charcoal on the
whitewashed chimney-sides by previous travellers.  There is a flaring
country lamp on the table; and, hovering about it, scratching her thick
black hair continually, a yellow dwarf of a woman, who stands on tiptoe
to arrange the hatchet knives, and takes a flying leap to look into the
water-jug.  The beds in the adjoining rooms are of the liveliest kind.
There is not a solitary scrap of looking-glass in the house, and the
washing apparatus is identical with the cooking utensils.  But the yellow
dwarf sets on the table a good flask of excellent wine, holding a quart
at least; and produces, among half-a-dozen other dishes, two-thirds of a
roasted kid, smoking hot.  She is as good-humoured, too, as dirty, which
is saying a great deal.  So here’s long life to her, in the flask of
wine, and prosperity to the establishment.

Rome gained and left behind, and with it the Pilgrims who are now
repairing to their own homes again—each with his scallop shell and staff,
and soliciting alms for the love of God—we come, by a fair country, to
the Falls of Terni, where the whole Velino river dashes, headlong, from a
rocky height, amidst shining spray and rainbows.  Perugia, strongly
fortified by art and nature, on a lofty eminence, rising abruptly from
the plain where purple mountains mingle with the distant sky, is glowing,
on its market-day, with radiant colours.  They set off its sombre but
rich Gothic buildings admirably.  The pavement of its market-place is
strewn with country goods.  All along the steep hill leading from the
town, under the town wall, there is a noisy fair of calves, lambs, pigs,
horses, mules, and oxen.  Fowls, geese, and turkeys, flutter vigorously
among their very hoofs; and buyers, sellers, and spectators, clustering
everywhere, block up the road as we come shouting down upon them.

Suddenly, there is a ringing sound among our horses.  The driver stops
them.  Sinking in his saddle, and casting up his eyes to Heaven, he
delivers this apostrophe, ‘Oh Jove Omnipotent! here is a horse has lost
his shoe!’

Notwithstanding the tremendous nature of this accident, and the utterly
forlorn look and gesture (impossible in any one but an Italian Vetturíno)
with which it is announced, it is not long in being repaired by a mortal
Farrier, by whose assistance we reach Castiglione the same night, and
Arezzo next day.  Mass is, of course, performing in its fine cathedral,
where the sun shines in among the clustered pillars, through rich
stained-glass windows: half revealing, half concealing the kneeling
figures on the pavement, and striking out paths of spotted light in the
long aisles.

But, how much beauty of another kind is here, when, on a fair clear
morning, we look, from the summit of a hill, on Florence!  See where it
lies before us in a sun-lighted valley, bright with the winding Arno, and
shut in by swelling hills; its domes, and towers, and palaces, rising
from the rich country in a glittering heap, and shining in the sun like

Magnificently stern and sombre are the streets of beautiful Florence; and
the strong old piles of building make such heaps of shadow, on the ground
and in the river, that there is another and a different city of rich
forms and fancies, always lying at our feet.  Prodigious palaces,
constructed for defence, with small distrustful windows heavily barred,
and walls of great thickness formed of huge masses of rough stone, frown,
in their old sulky state, on every street.  In the midst of the city—in
the Piazza of the Grand Duke, adorned with beautiful statues and the
Fountain of Neptune—rises the Palazzo Vecchio, with its enormous
overhanging battlements, and the Great Tower that watches over the whole
town.  In its court-yard—worthy of the Castle of Otranto in its ponderous
gloom—is a massive staircase that the heaviest waggon and the stoutest
team of horses might be driven up.  Within it, is a Great Saloon, faded
and tarnished in its stately decorations, and mouldering by grains, but
recording yet, in pictures on its walls, the triumphs of the Medici and
the wars of the old Florentine people.  The prison is hard by, in an
adjacent court-yard of the building—a foul and dismal place, where some
men are shut up close, in small cells like ovens; and where others look
through bars and beg; where some are playing draughts, and some are
talking to their friends, who smoke, the while, to purify the air; and
some are buying wine and fruit of women-vendors; and all are squalid,
dirty, and vile to look at.  ‘They are merry enough, Signore,’ says the
jailer.  ‘They are all blood-stained here,’ he adds, indicating, with his
hand, three-fourths of the whole building.  Before the hour is out, an
old man, eighty years of age, quarrelling over a bargain with a young
girl of seventeen, stabs her dead, in the market-place full of bright
flowers; and is brought in prisoner, to swell the number.

Among the four old bridges that span the river, the Ponte Vecchio—that
bridge which is covered with the shops of Jewellers and Goldsmiths—is a
most enchanting feature in the scene.  The space of one house, in the
centre, being left open, the view beyond is shown as in a frame; and that
precious glimpse of sky, and water, and rich buildings, shining so
quietly among the huddled roofs and gables on the bridge, is exquisite.
Above it, the Gallery of the Grand Duke crosses the river.  It was built
to connect the two Great Palaces by a secret passage; and it takes its
jealous course among the streets and houses, with true despotism: going
where it lists, and spurning every obstacle away, before it.

The Grand Duke has a worthier secret passage through the streets, in his
black robe and hood, as a member of the Compagnia della Misericordia,
which brotherhood includes all ranks of men.  If an accident take place,
their office is, to raise the sufferer, and bear him tenderly to the
Hospital.  If a fire break out, it is one of their functions to repair to
the spot, and render their assistance and protection.  It is, also, among
their commonest offices, to attend and console the sick; and they neither
receive money, nor eat, nor drink, in any house they visit for this
purpose.  Those who are on duty for the time, are all called together, on
a moment’s notice, by the tolling of the great bell of the Tower; and it
is said that the Grand Duke has been seen, at this sound, to rise from
his seat at table, and quietly withdraw to attend the summons.

In this other large Piazza, where an irregular kind of market is held,
and stores of old iron and other small merchandise are set out on stalls,
or scattered on the pavement, are grouped together, the Cathedral with
its great Dome, the beautiful Italian Gothic Tower the Campanile, and the
Baptistery with its wrought bronze doors.  And here, a small untrodden
square in the pavement, is ‘the Stone of DANTE,’ where (so runs the
story) he was used to bring his stool, and sit in contemplation.  I
wonder was he ever, in his bitter exile, withheld from cursing the very
stones in the streets of Florence the ungrateful, by any kind remembrance
of this old musing-place, and its association with gentle thoughts of
little Beatrice!

The chapel of the Medici, the Good and Bad Angels, of Florence; the
church of Santa Croce where Michael Angelo lies buried, and where every
stone in the cloisters is eloquent on great men’s deaths; innumerable
churches, often masses of unfinished heavy brickwork externally, but
solemn and serene within; arrest our lingering steps, in strolling
through the city.

In keeping with the tombs among the cloisters, is the Museum of Natural
History, famous through the world for its preparations in wax; beginning
with models of leaves, seeds, plants, inferior animals; and gradually
ascending, through separate organs of the human frame, up to the whole
structure of that wonderful creation, exquisitely presented, as in recent
death.  Few admonitions of our frail mortality can be more solemn and
more sad, or strike so home upon the heart, as the counterfeits of Youth
and Beauty that are lying there, upon their beds, in their last sleep.

Beyond the walls, the whole sweet Valley of the Arno, the convent at
Fiesole, the Tower of Galileo, BOCCACCIO’S house, old villas and
retreats; innumerable spots of interest, all glowing in a landscape of
surpassing beauty steeped in the richest light; are spread before us.
Returning from so much brightness, how solemn and how grand the streets
again, with their great, dark, mournful palaces, and many legends: not of
siege, and war, and might, and Iron Hand alone, but of the triumphant
growth of peaceful Arts and Sciences.

What light is shed upon the world, at this day, from amidst these rugged
Palaces of Florence!  Here, open to all comers, in their beautiful and
calm retreats, the ancient Sculptors are immortal, side by side with
Michael Angelo, Canova, Titian, Rembrandt, Raphael, Poets, Historians,
Philosophers—those illustrious men of history, beside whom its crowned
heads and harnessed warriors show so poor and small, and are so soon
forgotten.  Here, the imperishable part of noble minds survives, placid
and equal, when strongholds of assault and defence are overthrown; when
the tyranny of the many, or the few, or both, is but a tale; when Pride
and Power are so much cloistered dust.  The fire within the stern
streets, and among the massive Palaces and Towers, kindled by rays from
Heaven, is still burning brightly, when the flickering of war is
extinguished and the household fires of generations have decayed; as
thousands upon thousands of faces, rigid with the strife and passion of
the hour, have faded out of the old Squares and public haunts, while the
nameless Florentine Lady, preserved from oblivion by a Painter’s hand,
yet lives on, in enduring grace and youth.

Let us look back on Florence while we may, and when its shining Dome is
seen no more, go travelling through cheerful Tuscany, with a bright
remembrance of it; for Italy will be the fairer for the recollection.
The summer-time being come: and Genoa, and Milan, and the Lake of Como
lying far behind us: and we resting at Faido, a Swiss village, near the
awful rocks and mountains, the everlasting snows and roaring cataracts,
of the Great Saint Gothard: hearing the Italian tongue for the last time
on this journey: let us part from Italy, with all its miseries and
wrongs, affectionately, in our admiration of the beauties, natural and
artificial, of which it is full to overflowing, and in our tenderness
towards a people, naturally well-disposed, and patient, and
sweet-tempered.  Years of neglect, oppression, and misrule, have been at
work, to change their nature and reduce their spirit; miserable
jealousies, fomented by petty Princes to whom union was destruction, and
division strength, have been a canker at their root of nationality, and
have barbarized their language; but the good that was in them ever, is in
them yet, and a noble people may be, one day, raised up from these ashes.
Let us entertain that hope!  And let us not remember Italy the less
regardfully, because, in every fragment of her fallen Temples, and every
stone of her deserted palaces and prisons, she helps to inculcate the
lesson that the wheel of Time is rolling for an end, and that the world
is, in all great essentials, better, gentler, more forbearing, and more
hopeful, as it rolls!

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END

                                * * * * *

                                PRINTED BY
                           LONDON AND BECCLES.


{1}  This Doctrine Publishing Corporation eText contains just _Pictures from Italy_.
_American Notes_ is also available from Doctrine Publishing Corporation as a separate

{216}  This was written in 1846.

{272}  A far more liberal and just recognition of the public has arisen
in Westminster Abbey since this was written.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pictures from Italy" ***

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