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Title: Wintering in the Riviera - With Notes of Travel in Italy and France, and Practical - Hints to Travellers
Author: Miller, William James
Language: English
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[Illustration: VIEW FROM FOOT–BRIDGE OVER CARREI, MENTONE.]



                       WINTERING IN THE RIVIERA

                                 WITH

                  NOTES OF TRAVEL IN ITALY AND FRANCE

                                  AND

                    _PRACTICAL HINTS TO TRAVELLERS_

                                  BY

                        WILLIAM MILLER, S.S.C.

                               EDINBURGH

                          With Illustrations

                LONDON: LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. 1879.

                       [_All Rights Reserved._]



                     MORRISON AND GIBB, EDINBURGH,
             PRINTERS TO HER MAJESTY’S STATIONERY OFFICE.



                             THIS VOLUME,

    CONTAINING MEMORIES OF HIS BELOVED DAUGHTER’S LAST JOURNEYINGS,

                            IS INSCRIBED TO

                    CHRISTOPHER GODWIN, ESQ., J.P.,

                        STOKE BISHOP, BRISTOL.



                               CONTENTS.


                                                                    PAGE

 PREFACE,                                                              x


                                  I.

                       _CONTINENTAL TRAVELLING._

 Former and Present
   Times—Bugbears—Language—Passports—Impedimenta—Guide–Books—
   Hotels—Money and Exchange—Routes to Paris—Cook’s and Gaze’s
   Railway Tickets—_Voyages circulaires_—Supplementary Billets
   —Customs Examination—Time—Railway Arrangements—Billets—_Salle
   d’attente_—Guards and Porters—Carriages—_Dames seules_—Smoking
   —Carriage Windows—Speed—Train Peculiarities—Stations—Omnibuses
   —_Petite vitesse_,                                                  1


                                  II.

                       _HOTEL AND PENSION LIFE._

 Hotels—Railway
   Results—Construction—Lifts—Charges—Bougies—Service—Rooms—Meals
   —Breakfast—Lunch—_Table–d’hôte_ Dinner—Supplies—Wine—Dining
   _à la Carte_—Foreign Practices—Life at Table—Pension—Charges
   —Extras—Fires—Gratuities—Bills—Cook’s and Gaze’s Coupons
   —Amusements—Tarantella Dance—Remuneration to Performers
   —Charades—Readings—Plays—Amateur Performances—Musical Bands
   —Furnished Villas—Cost—Servants,                                   43


                                 III.

                     _LOCAL MEANS OF CONVEYANCE._

 Private Carriages—Horses—Carriages for Hire—Whip–Cracking
   —Cruelty to Horses—Italian Cabs and Cabmen—Horse Bells
   —Fares—_Pour boire_ and _buona mano_—Drives beyond Town
   —Crossing Swiss Passes—Diligences—Steamboat Travelling
   —Omnibuses—Tramways,                                               82


                                  IV.

                        _POSTAL ARRANGEMENTS._

 Post Rates for Letters—Underpaid Letters—Newspapers—Registration
   —Letters for Interior—Post Cards—Delivery—_Poste restante_
   —Pillars—Postmen,                                                  98


                                  V.

                           _SUNDAY ABROAD._

 As observed by Natives—English Influence—Public Music—Museums,
   etc.—Carnival—Fêtes—Elections—Post Delivery—Dinner—Evening
   Engagements—Sunday Books—Roman Catholic Service—Protestantism
   —Native Protestant Churches—France—Mentone—Italy—Switzerland
   —Protestant Churches for English—Presbyterian—The Chapels
   —Ministers—English Episcopal—Ritualism abroad—Hours of Service
   —Growing Liberality of Feeling—A Practical Suggestion
   —Conclusion of Service,                                           105


                     FIRST WINTER IN THE RIVIERA.


                                  VI.

                     _LONDON TO SOUTH OF FRANCE._

 _Folkestone_—Passage—_Paris_—Railway Journey from Paris—
   _Fontainebleau_—_Dijon_—_Macon_—The Rhone—_Avignon_—_Nimes_
   —_Marseilles_,                                                    127


                                 VII.

                               _CANNES._

 Arrival—Description of Cannes—The Bays—Estrelles—Grasse—Lord
   Brougham—Duke of Vallombrosa’s Villa—the Eucalyptus—Croix
   de Garde—Promenade—Bathing Places—Drains—Garden of the
   Hesperides—Arbutus—Croisette—California—S. Marguerite—Fort
   Monterey—Use of Marble—Mosquitoes, Snakes, and Lizards,           144


                                 VIII.

                                _NICE._

 Cannes to Nice—Appearance of—The Chateau—The Paillon Torrent
   Bed—Nice as a Health Resort—Hotels and Public Places—Nice
   to Mentone,                                                       159


                                  IX.

                              _MENTONE._

 First Impression—Old Town—Mountain Shelter—West Bay—Tideless
   Sea—Drains—Olive Terraces—Valleys—Rivers—Rurality—Quarters
   —Doctors—The Hotels—Pension Charges—Furnished Houses or
   Rooms—Helvetia—Churches—School and Classes—Public Institutions
   —Newspapers—Guide–Books—Mentone by Night—Donkey Excursions
   —Castellar—Rain and Storm—Gorge of St. Louis—The Carrei Valley
   —View from Bridge—Boirigo Valley—St. Agnes—Castle—Monastery of
   S. Annunciata and Chapel—The Gorbio Valley—Gorbio—Rochebrune
   —Cape Martin—Red Rocks and Caves—The Fossil Skeleton—Hanging
   Gardens—Belinda—Grimaldi—Promenade du Midi—Life on the
   Promenade—French Attire and Customs—_Monte Carlo_—Gaming Tables
   —the Garden—Pigeon–shooting—_Monaco_—Mentone Villas—Gardens
   —Shops—Circulating Libraries—Industrial Occupations—Washing
   Clothes—Fishing—Sheep–keeping—Donkey–letting—Woodwork—Town and
   Rural Labourers—Animal Labour—Birds—Mosquitoes—Deaths—Funerals
   —Cemetery—the Evenings—Red–letter Days—Christmas Day—New Year’s
   Day—Conscription Day—Carnival—Corsica—Weather during Winter,      166


                                ITALY.


                                  X.

                         _SAN REMO AND GENOA._

 Cross Frontier—The _douane_—_Ventimiglia_—_Bordighera_—_San
   Remo_—Climate—San Remo described—Excursions—Hotels
   and Pensions—Visitors—Doctors—Churches—Industries–The
   Women—Photographs—San Remo to Genoa—Italian Money—Fares—Coast
   Towns—Savona—Pegli—_Genoa_—Position and Appearance—Statue of
   Columbus—Hotel Rooms—Drive through Town—S. Maria di Carignano
   —The Streets—Palaces—Churches—Public Park—Campo Santo,            237


                                  XI.

                        _SPEZIA, PISA, SIENNA._

 Railway to Spezia—Hotel—Cold Weather—_Spezia_, a Summer
   Place—Described—Carrara Marble Quarries—_Pisa_—Leaning Tower
   —Cathedral Baptistery—Campo Santo—The Town—Drive to _Lucca_
   —_Sienna_—Position—Collegio Tolomei—Cathedral—Its Library
   —Frescoes—Piazza Vittorio Emanuele—Town Hall and other Places
   —Citadel—Italian Soldiers,                                        263


                                 XII.

                                _ROME._

 Quarters—Piazza di Spagna—Carriages—The seeing Rome—First Sunday
   —Scotch Church—Castle of St. Angelo—St. Peter’s—Piazza—Interior
   —Apostle Peter in Rome—St. Peter’s Aisles and Altars—Mosaics
   —Ascent of Dome—Palm Sunday—The Vatican—Sculptures—Pictures
   —Sistine Chapel—Preliminary Drive through Town—The Streets,
   Buildings, etc.—Lecturers on Rome—The Colosseum—Rome’s Birthday
   Illuminations—Arches of Constantine and Titus—Old Roman Roads
   —Forum Romanum—The Capitol—Church of Ara Cœli—The Museums
   —Palatine Hill—Palace of the Cæsars—Temple of Vesta—Cloaca
   Maxima—Monumental Pillars, Trajan’s—M. Aurelius—The Obelisks
   —Aqueducts—Baths of Caracalla—Columbaria—Catacombs of Callixtus
   —Appian Way—The Churches—Pantheon—S. Pietro in Vincoli—Jesuit
   Church—Capuccini—S. Clemente—SS. Cosma e Damiano—The Lateran
   —Santa Scala—S. Maria Maggiore—S. Paolo fuori le mura—The
   Palaces—Contents of Galleries—Engravings and Photographs of
   Pictures—Copying Pictures—The Rospigliosi—Guido’s Aurora—The
   Barberini—Beatrice Cenci—Other Galleries and Studios—The Royal
   Palace—Borghese Grounds and Casino—Pincian Hill Gardens—Drive
   to Tivoli—The Campagna—Hadrian’s Villa—_Tivoli_—S. Lorenzo fuori
   le mura—Shop Purchases—Photographs—Mosaic Jewellery—Bronzes
   —Copies of Paintings—Old Rome as it was,                          275


                                 XIII.

                     _NAPLES, POMPEII, SORRENTO._

 _Naples_, Drive through—Cabs and
   Cabmen—Population—Thieving—Bay of Naples—Town
   described—Cathedral—Hotels—Museum—Chiaja—Aquarium—Photographs
   —Bijouterie—_Castellamare_—_Pompeii_—Museum—Excavations—Old
   City—Public Buildings—Private Dwellings—Streets—Shops—
   _Sorrento_—Excursions—Capri Blue Grotto—Sorrento Woodwork
   —Beggars—Return to Naples—_Puteoli_—Amphitheatre—Solfatara,       322


                                 XIV.

                        _FLORENCE AND BOLOGNA._

 _Florence_—Situation—Lung’Arno—Florence described—Bridges—S.
   Miniato—Piazza Michel Angelo—Fiesole—The Streets—Cascine
   —Historical Associations—Churches—Cathedral—Campanile
   —Baptistery—Misericordia—S. Croce—Chapel and Tombs of the
   Medici—Museum of S. Marco—S. Spirito—Piazza della Signoria
   —Loggia—Palazzo Vecchio—House of Michael Angelo—Uffizi Gallery
   —Pitti Gallery—Artists copying—National Museum—Palazzo Corsini
   —Academia delle Belle Arti—Association for Encouragement of
   Fine Arts—Florentine Marbles and Mosaics—Italian Lungs—
   _Bologna_—Drive through Town—Leaning Towers—Museum and Library
   —S. Petronio—Villa Reale—Campo Santo—S. Domenico—S. Pietro
   —Academia delle Belle Arti,                                       343


                                  XV.

                         _VENICE AND VERONA._

 _Venice_—Railway Station—Hotel Danieli—Bridge of Sighs—S. Marco
   —The Presbyterio—Clock Tower—Piazza and its Shops—Venetian
   Glass—Gondola—Island of S. Georgio—La Guidica—Churches of
   Venice—Palaces—Doge’s Palace—S. Marco—Whitsunday—Mosaics
   —Campanile—Ponte di Rialto—Museo Correr—Academia delle Belle
   Arti—Arsenal—Lido—Moonlight—Is Venice healthy? Grand Canal
   —_Verona_—Drive through Town—Market–Place—Piazza dei Signori
   —Tombs of Scaligers—Arena—S. Zenone—Other Churches—Tomb and
   Window of Juliet,                                                 361


                                 XVI.

                    _MILAN AND THE ITALIAN LAKES._

 _Milan_—Cathedral—Ceremonies—Ascent—Piazza—Galleria—Drive about
   Town—Piazza d’Armi—Arco della Pace—Amphitheatre—S. Ambrogio—S.
   Lorenzo—Public Park—Novel Mode of Watering—Temperature
   —_Italian Lakes_—Arona—_Maggiore_—Baveno—_Lugano_—S. Salvatore
   —Luini’s Frescoes—_Bellaggio_—Hotel Grand Bretagne—_Lake Como_
   —Villa Serbelloni—Villa Carlotta—Villa Melzi—Sail to _Como_—St.
   Giovanni—Hot Days,                                                380


                          SWITZERLAND—FRANCE.


                                 XVII.

                   _THE SPLUGEN PASS, SWITZERLAND._

 Sail to Colico—_Chiavenna_—_Splugen Pass_—Campo Dolcino—Madesimo
   Fall—Summit of Pass—Descent to Splugen—_Switzerland_—_Splugen_
   —Via Mala—Thusis—_Ragatz_—Pfäffers Gorge—Lucerne—_Interlachen_
   —Run Home—_Chateau d’Œx_—Sepey—Aigle—_Montreux_—_Geneva_,         401


                                XVIII.

                              _BIARRITZ._

 Lyons—_Cette_—_Toulouse_—Lourdes—Pau—Bayonne—_Biarritz_—Railway
   Station—Hotels—Cold Winds—Recent Origin of Town—Description
   —The Season—Natural Attractions—Storms—Breakwater—Boating—Rocks
   —Tide—Drains—Bathing Establishments—Bathing—The Bathers—Dresses
   —The Scene—Aquatics—Walks—Light–house—Villa Eugenie—Drive to
   _Bayonne_—Its Fortifications—Bridges—_St. Jean de Luz_—Excursion
   to _S. Sebastian_, Spain—Season ends,                             415


                                 XIX.

                                _PAU._

 Imposing Appearance—Pension Colbert—The Season—Climate—Writers
   on—Rise of Pau—Town—View of Pyrenees—Chateau—Public Park
   —Environs—Excursions—The Cemetery—French General Election,        439


                                  XX.

                    _SECOND WINTER IN THE RIVIERA._

 Pau to Toulouse—_Montpellier_—Climate—Town—Train to Marseilles
   —_Toulon_—_Hyères_—Hotels—Climate—Garden—La Plage—Hyères to
   Cannes—Mentone—Cold Weather—Improvements—More Building
   —Political Position in France—Eastern Question—English Position
   causes Anxiety—Death of Victor Emmanuel and Pope—Services in
   Cathedral—Carnival—Gaieties—Mentone to S. Remo—S. Remo to
   Alassio—_Alassio_—Hotels—Town—Situation—Walks and Views—Dr.
   Schneer on Climate—_Genoa_—Via Orifici—Galleria, etc.—_Turin_
   —View of Alps from Monastery—The Town—Monuments—Waldensian
   Church—Mont Cenis Tunnel—_Aix les Bains_—Return Home,             450



                            ILLUSTRATIONS.

                                                                    PAGE

   1. Frontispiece—View from Footbridge up the Carrei to North
       Mountain Range, Mentone.

   2. The Estrelles from St. Honorat, Cannes,                 Facing 147

   3. Oil Mills, Carrei Valley, Mentone,                         ”   191

   4. Promenade du Midi, Mentone,                                ”   205

   5. Corsica as occasionally seen before Sunrise, Mentone,      ”   235

   6. A City set upon a Hill on Road to Lucca,                   ”   271

   7. Sorrento from the West,                                    ”   337

   8. Ponte Vecchio, Florence,                                   ”   345

   9. Tomb of Juliet, Verona,                                    ”   379

  10. Bellaggio, Lake Como,                                      ”   393

  11. Port Vieux Bathing Establishment, Biarritz,                ”   421

  12. Biarritz Bathers,                                          ”   429



PREFACE.


THE health of my wife having rendered it advisable to spend a winter
in the South of France, I made arrangements to accompany her, and we
left home in October 1876. After a short stay at Cannes and three
months in Mentone, with marked improvement, we made a tour of four
months in Italy, and then passing the remainder of the summer of 1877
in Switzerland, and the autumn chiefly in Biarritz and Pau, we spent
a second winter in the Riviera, principally in Mentone, returning to
England _viâ_ Turin in May 1878.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had visited so many places, and seen so much while thus travelling
during our first year, that it occurred to me, during our second
sojourn at Mentone, to write out some notes of what had come within our
knowledge which might prove both useful and interesting to others, and
particularly to those who desired to winter in the Riviera. The field,
however, was large, and to bring observation into reasonable compass
I could only present general views—indications merely—of what we had
seen; and, indeed, more than this I could scarcely have ventured upon,
because I had not travelled with any idea of writing on the subject,
and the notes I had kept were therefore scanty, although sufficient,
with a vivid recollection of so much calculated to impress, to enable
me to describe, as far as description is perhaps desirable. We saw
much, and might have seen more within the time, but it was necessary to
avoid fatigue.

       *       *       *       *       *

The descriptions contained in the following pages are therefore to be
regarded not as finished pictures, but rather as the scenes of a moving
panorama, exhibiting in succession views of the more salient points
in the various places to which the reader will be taken, and depicted
according to the fashion of such scenes, too roughly to bear close
inspection or minute criticism.

       *       *       *       *       *

When people were compelled to travel slowly, they could take with
them, and had time to read and digest full narratives of all they were
about to see. It was by no means impossible to carry in the lumbering
carriage, or to read during the leisurely journey, a whole library of
such voluminous and now forgotten books as the _Modern Traveller_. But
the rapidity of railway travelling has changed even the character of
the guide–book, which, with more copious and complete information, has
been so clipped and condensed, been made so concisely and methodically
useful,—such a veritable _multum in parvo_,—that every other virtue is
forgotten, and to take up a volume of Bædeker in order to beguile an
hour, or even to obtain a general notion of a place, would be one of
those freaks of which wise men are not readily guilty.

People are therefore more than ever thrown upon reading of a different
description; and notwithstanding the various books which have been
published upon the Riviera, and the still larger list of those upon
Italy, I think none of them, so far as I have seen, are exactly on
the same lines as the present. It is, indeed, not a little noticeable
that so many, in writing upon Italy, should have chosen to wrap their
descriptions in some strange, weird story. In _Corinne ou L’Italie_,
Madame de Staël depicts an exotic Scotch nobleman wildly drawn about
from one part of Italy to another by a most extraordinary platonic love
for an Italian improvisatrice, in order that the different localities
may obtain description. The _Improvisatore_ of Hans Christian Andersen,
with a difference of mode, is much upon the same model for the same
purpose, the machinery by which the hero is blown hither and thither
being much more prominent than the places upon which he alights. The
_Transformation_ of Hawthorne, in order to describe Rome, forces us
into strange scenes and into company with a mysterious ‘faun’ and a
beautiful murderess; while _Romola_, by George Eliot, in describing
Florence, drags us after a smooth–faced, smooth–tongued, heartless
villain, who attains to power with an odd facility, and after blasting
a lovely life, is, to every reader’s relief, tragically removed from
the world. Even Ruffini’s _Dr. Antonio_, commencing amidst placid
scenes with all the softness of a _pastorale_, terminates by breaking
hearts, and in the din of a revolution, with guns crashing and roll of
death–dealing musketry on the streets of Naples.

Amongst its many deficiencies, the present volume is undoubtedly
wanting in this sensational element of popularity.

Neither, on the other hand, can it lay claim to the merit of filling
the place either of the guide–book or of the medical adviser. Its chief
utility may be in giving in a general way to those designing to go
abroad for a period of time, some knowledge which may perhaps aid them
where to go and what to see; while there is furnished for the benefit
of novices, in the preliminary chapters, some practical information,
which the experienced traveller, who knows it all and could state it
much better, will be graciously pleased, if so inclined, to skip.

       *       *       *       *       *

In revising at home what was written abroad, I have studied to ensure
accuracy of statement, and have been rather surprised, on comparing
authorities, to find how widely they frequently differ regarding
matters involving figures, so much so that occasionally I have withheld
any statement on the subject. Some of these discrepancies I have
noticed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Accurate ideas of places can be best formed with the aid of the
pictorial art. A book of this nature is susceptible of endless
illustration, and but for adding to the bulk and the expense, there
could have been no difficulty in illustrating every page of the
travels. I have preferred selecting a few subjects, nearly all from my
own sketches, which have been lithographed by Waterston of Edinburgh.
That of the Estrelles is from a sketch in colours by a lady friend.

Of these illustrations, Mentone has carried off the lion’s share,
and perhaps rightly, because of all the places of health resort
visited by us, we conceived it to be the most charming, and it was
in the winter–time our headquarters. There are those who prefer
Cannes, Hyères, Bordighera, or San Remo. Even Alassio may become a
favourite residence. But it was our opinion that Mentone unites to a
well–sheltered, dry, sunny, winter climate (which is, however, not
suitable for all invalids), the most beautiful and picturesque scenery,
the most delightful walks and excursions, with a fascinating rurality
which, I fear, the natives, looking at the matter from a French point
of view, are bent on destroying, by way of raising it up as a sort of
rival in gaiety to such places as Nice. There is one drawback, in its
proximity to the Monte Carlo gambling tables. But to those who can
resist temptation, a trip to Monte Carlo—a bright, beautiful, sunny
spot, clean and tidy, with its tropical gardens, its broad terraces,
flanked by elegant white stone balustrades—is only an additional
attraction; while the adjoining unique peninsula of Monaco, running out
into the sea from the mountains of the _Tête de Chien_, and crowned by
its palace, its fortifications, its dwellings, its trees, is one of the
many attractive points which, combined with the beautiful blue of the
Mediterranean, lend such a charm to this part of the Riviera.

       *       *       *       *       *

This book would probably never have been written had it not been
begun and all but completed abroad, while in the sunshine of gladness
and hope. Looking to the cause of our travels, it was unavoidable
that I should mention at its close how sadly all hopes were crushed.
But I have striven as far as possible to eschew the introduction of
all merely personal allusions. I feel, however, I must take this
opportunity of thanking the members of the legal body to which I
belong, and of which I had, at the time it became advisable to leave
home, the honour of being chief office–bearer, for their courtesy to me
then, and for the heartfelt sympathy which so many of them have since
expressed. I would only say to them as to others, that we have had of
late not a few examples of valued friends who, long after it became
really necessary, have toiled, and fagged, and wearied their brains out
in the pursuit of an anxious and laborious profession till they have
spent their last days or years in utter prostration. Better far, when
they can, to obtain thorough relaxation in the enjoyment of a year, or
even two years, of Continental travel over such interesting ground as
in this book I have attempted in some small measure to describe.

                                                                  W. M.

         GEORGE SQUARE,
      EDINBURGH, _July 1879_.



                                ERRATA.


 Page  27, 19th line, instead of _for_ read _from_.

  ”    38, 9th line from bottom, for _any_ read _every_.

  ”    60, 5th line, for _visible_ read _visibile_.

  ”    91–3–4, for _manu_ read _mano_.

  ”   272, 7th line from bottom, for _tombs_ read _tomes_.

  ”    ”   5th          ”        for _his_ read _this_.

  ”   305, for _Clementi_ read _Clemente_.

  ”   320, 11th line, for _have_ read _leave_.

  ”   369, 1st line, for _et_ read _e_.



I.

_CONTINENTAL TRAVELLING._


I HAVE sometimes thought that if it were possible for a person of
mature years now living to return to the world, with memory unimpaired,
after a period of five hundred or even of one hundred years hence,
how strangely new to him everything would appear! Events succeed each
other in these times with such startling rapidity, that he would be a
bold man who would venture to predict what even a generation will bring
forth. We may speculate on the effects likely to result from agencies
now in operation,—as to what, for example, may be the future of Great
Britain, looking to the gigantic scale on which hazardous enterprise
is carried on; to the contests of labour with capital in which natural
laws are set at defiance; to the growth of Ritualism in the English
Church; to the penchant which our rulers seem to have for annexing
or conquering remote provinces, stern and wild or insalubrious; to a
thousand other things which are with more or less force influencing or
disquieting our country commercially, socially, or politically,—but
none of us can possibly foresee the actual consequences and the
condition of things to which they will lead. In the future there is
so much dependent on occurrences which appear to us to be fortuitous
(though truly under the guidance of Supreme Wisdom), that we can only
feel that over all there hangs an impenetrable veil of mysterious
darkness. A single unexpected event may turn aside the policy of an
age, or even alter the divisions of the world. A single man by a
foolish blunder may plunge nations into protracted war. A single happy
discovery, a single clever invention, may affect the fortunes or alter
the habits of a whole people. A single convulsion of nature may change
the aspect of a state. But when we turn from the future to the past,
the case is different, and we can pretty well realize what the feelings
of one who has lived, say, sixty years ago would be if he could now
return to earth. It would, indeed, be some time ere he would begin to
grasp the extent of the wonderful changes which, since he formerly
lived, have been effected. But of all the changes flowing from the
inventions and discoveries which the long peace succeeding Waterloo
was instrumental in producing, he would probably be most struck by the
revolution accomplished in the matter of travelling.

We have only to go back half a century to the time when a tour upon
the Continent of Europe was attended by great expense, inconvenience,
and even danger. It consumed much time, and no Englishman upon whom
business did not lay a necessity to travel, could undertake any very
extensive pilgrimage in these foreign countries unless possessed of
ample means united to ample leisure. It was thus generally reserved
for young noblemen and gentlemen of wealth, as the completion of their
education, to take, with a tutor, a courier, and a sufficient retinue,
the grand tour of Europe, the limit of which was usually, though not
always, Constantinople. I suppose this circumstance has given rise to
the Continental idea, which at least formerly prevailed, that every
Englishman was a _milord Anglais_, and to its practical consequence,
from which present travellers continue to suffer—the custom, gradually
disappearing, of charging English persons upon a different scale from
that applied to natives. No doubt many of those men of former days
scattered money profusely, and to a certain extent their successors
continue to do so, and are even exceeded by some of the American
travellers who, accustomed to pay in dollars where shillings with us
often suffice, contrive by their extravagance to spoil for others the
places they frequent.

Times are now changed since the days of our grandfathers. The
treacherous sailing vessel (the smack, which would take at one time
three days, and at another, because of adverse winds, three weeks to
go from Leith to London) is supplanted by the steady, expeditious, and
almost faultlessly punctual steamboat; while the lumbering diligence
or almost equally lumbering post–chaise has been driven out of the
field by, wherever it exists, the rapid railway train. Nevertheless,
as regards Continental railway rapidity, M. Arago’s expectations that
Parisians might ‘on the same day examine the preparations of our
squadron at Toulon; may breakfast on juicy rougets at Marseilles; may
bathe at mid–day their relaxed limbs in the mineral waters of Bagnères,
and return in the evening by way of Bordeaux to attend a ball or the
Opera House,’[1] have hardly as yet, at least, been realized; for
the railway train abroad bears about the same proportion in point of
speed to the English train as the clumsy diligence did of old to our
high–flyers and our ten–mile–an–hour stage–coaches.[2] Sometimes,
indeed, people in former times, who were able to do so, travelled on
the Continent in pursuit of health; and a very interesting account
of a tour of this description, made to a large extent over the same
ground as that which forms the subject of description in the following
pages, is contained in _The Diary of an Invalid_, by Henry Matthew,
A.M., made during a journey, performed in the years 1817–18–19, through
Italy, Switzerland, and France, from which an idea of the difference
of travelling in those days—sixty years ago—from what it is now, may
to some extent be gathered. Since the introduction of railways, which
now form a complete network all over the Continent of Europe, reaching
some of its wildest parts, and not hesitating even to penetrate some of
its loftiest mountains, and often by means of costly tunnels connecting
long stretches of country, travelling has been made so easy, and the
facilities for availing themselves of the means of locomotion have been
rendered so great, that there are comparatively few persons of the
better classes who have not at some time or other, and in a greater or
lesser measure, visited Continental lands. Our very mechanics have,
especially by means of excursion trains, sometimes in connection with
such great occasions as foreign Exhibitions, been enabled to see a
little of other lands; and even the seeing a little of another land is
calculated to remove prejudices, to enlarge the ideas, and to extend
the amount of one’s information.[3]

People in the present day travel sometimes for pleasure and to obtain
acquaintance with what cannot be seen at home, and sometimes for the
sake of health; and it is astonishing to what an extent this latter
reason has operated on the people of Great Britain, who rush from
the rigours of their northern climate—its clouds, its fogs, and its
rains—to enjoy the sunshine of warmer places, avoiding and exchanging
wet, foggy, and chilly winter quarters at home for pleasant sunny
places abroad. So much is this the case, that whole colonies of
English people, many of them owning houses, built or bought for their
residence, are found scattered over the Continent, particularly on
the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. They go to winter there, and the
places they frequent become remarkably English in their habits and
in their language—the force of the English character, and still more
of the English money, bearing down and upon the native population.
Indeed, it may rather be said that towns have been built by or for the
occupation of the English—as, for example, Cannes, which, if it do not
altogether owe its existence, is acknowledged by the natives to owe its
new creation, its growth and extent, to Lord Brougham.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had on various previous occasions taken a summer’s run abroad. The
protracted visit we paid to the Continent which forms the subject of
this volume was dictated by considerations of health; but we combined
with it, and advantageously, even for that end, some tours of pleasure.
The countries visited by us on this occasion were France, Italy, and
Switzerland; and it is with special reference to them that the remarks
offered in this and the succeeding introductory chapters apply. I
propose in this chapter to deal shortly with some of the bugbears
which frighten many from crossing the Channel, to state some of the
peculiarities of foreign travel, and to note a few other matters with
which those new to the subject may find it useful to be acquainted
previous to setting out.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first great stumbling–block in the way of going abroad is to many,
especially elderly persons, the want of knowledge of the language of
the country to which they wish to direct their steps, or the want of
power to converse in it freely.

There can be no doubt that it is of great consequence to have an
acquaintance with the language of the country in which one desires to
travel or reside for a time. People are saved much inconvenience and
often money when they can talk it with fluency, and can comprehend
what the natives say—usually the more difficult operation. At the
same time, in all frequented parts of France, Italy, and Switzerland,
either English or French will carry any one through. French is spoken
by nearly every educated person who travels on the Continent, with
perhaps the exception of the Germans, who, though they may know a
little French, seem to give a preference to the acquisition of the
English language, in which frequently they converse with great purity
and ease. At the hotels, the landlord, or one of the waiters, sometimes
all of them, can speak English more or less perfectly. Nay, what is
very surprising is, that the man sometimes called _portier_, who sits
in a little chamber at the door, has often a better acquaintance with
English than even landlord or waiter. This porter or, as he is more
correctly designated, _concierge_, is attached to all large hotels, and
his ostensible duty is not that of carrying luggage (for which business
there are men of a different stamp under him), but consists in keeping
the keys of the rooms, attending to letters, and answering inquiries.
In reality he is a man of superior intelligence, and acts often as the
interpreter of the house; for he is generally acquainted with many
languages, and usually with at least French, English, and German,
and has to reply to questions in these different languages almost
in the same breath. In frontier places, his acquaintance is extended
to the language of the neighbouring country—it may be, for instance,
Italian or Spanish. However, among employees and others with whom the
traveller has to do, the knowledge of many languages is not confined
to the _gens portier_. At Mentone I was informed that a hairdresser
there could speak five languages; and how else could he hope, from a
hairdresser’s point of view, to please his patients? At Rome, having
gone to the wrong shop, I had to experience the difficulties of
undergoing an operation by a gentleman of the fraternity who could
speak nothing but Italian; and we should never have succeeded in coming
to a mutual understanding, but for the kindly intervention of a priest
who was being shaved and could speak French, and after all it did not
wholly save me from that ‘croppiness’ in which the foreign _coiffeur_
delights. This linguistic faculty does not stop at hairdressers,
who may be considered to be men of an advanced race. At Mentone we
used to employ a donkey girl, who also could speak a little in five
languages. Philippina was a bright, intelligent girl, much liked by her
employers, and no doubt she found her advantage in knowing something
of their different tongues. In Switzerland, for the most part, the
German language prevails, and it is occasionally uncommonly hard, if
one is not acquainted with German or has but a smattering of it, to
get on, say, with a coachman who knows nothing else. At Ragatz, where
they speak German, I put a question to a stallkeeper selling goods on
the street, and was promptly answered by a young girl of the adjoining
stall in English. I asked her how she came to know English. She learnt
it at school. Were they all taught English, I asked. ‘Oh, no; those
who desired to be taught had to pay for it.’ The shopkeepers abroad,
however, have in many cases acquaintance with English sufficient to
enable them to effect sale of their wares. They quickly discover us to
be English, and when they speak our language they like to air it, and
answer questions put in their, the shopkeepers’ language (made, we
imagine, with all correctness of expression and of accent), in our own.
In Rome we found that all the cab–drivers could speak French, which, of
course, facilitates going about to those who cannot speak much Italian.
In Italy generally, unless it might be in speaking to women–servants,
and not even always in their case, we did not find much necessity for
using Italian. Either French or English was in most places understood.
Sometimes we have even had English landladies, as at the Grand Hotel
in Sienna, and at the Tramontano at Sorrento; but this is a species of
good fortune, telling on the English traveller’s comfort in many ways,
which is seldom to be enjoyed. It only suggests that other English
women might find Italy a good field for similar enterprise.

       *       *       *       *       *

In former days the passport system was a difficulty which afflicted
the minds of timorous travellers. Apart from the surveillance implied,
there was the trouble and expense of procuring it, and having
the proper _visas_ affixed by the representatives of Continental
Governments; the anxiety lest in passing some corner of a foreign
territory—some debateable land—it might not be _en règle_; the
detentions it occasioned, and the perturbation of spirit which arose,
should it by any accident have been mislaid or lost, there being no
absolute certainty that if imprisoned in a cold, damp, dreary dungeon
for want of the necessary safe–conduct, our Government after a suitable
period of fruitless negotiation would go to war with the foreign power
for the defaulter’s release. On one occasion (in 1855), on entering
Geneva by diligence, I missed my passport (which on arrival I found
lying at my feet), and did not know what would happen, but the man
in collecting passports from the passengers fortunately overlooked
me. This was a species of the rarest good luck, upon which of course
it was utterly impossible to reckon; and the passport system was one
which was felt by people living in a land in which every one is free,
without inquiry of any kind, to travel where and when he pleases,
to be an intolerable annoyance. It is still maintained; but with a
view, I presume, not to discourage English travelling (a source of
immense profit to the natives), a British subject has only on passing a
frontier to declare his nationality, and he is at once passed through,
except at some places where he is asked for his carte–de–visite; and if
he have not one at hand, even this is not insisted on if it be apparent
that he is what he represents himself to be, _un Anglais_, or, what
is the same thing to them, an American. Yet a passport is sometimes
useful; it now costs little, and should always be taken. It is easily
got under the directions contained in Bradshaw’s _Continental Guide_,
and the _visas_ of the foreign consuls seem now to be unnecessary, at
least for the countries in which we were to travel. It is particularly
important in some towns, to facilitate the obtaining of registered
letters. Even ordinary letters occasionally, as I have found (1872) at
Brussels on a former trip (having unfortunately lost my passport at
Strasburg), will scarcely be delivered at the Poste Restante without
production of the passport or other presumable evidence of identity;
and it is said in guide–books, although we have never experienced the
benefit of the information, that it operates as an admission to certain
places of public resort.

Although to the _mens conscia recti_ it may matter little, it does not
follow that, with all this relaxation of former rigour, people are
altogether free from surveillance. The spy may not crop up here and
there as, according to Doyle, he did, to afflict Messrs. Brown, Jones,
and Robinson, yet travellers do meet with evidences of the existence
of a secret and prying police. At Aix–les–Bains, which, however, may
be regarded as a frontier town, we found the register of visitors kept
in a book furnished by the police, and containing instructions for the
entry of all names and particulars; and almost everywhere, immediately
upon arrival at a hotel, a waiter comes to take down the name,
address, profession, etc., which, apart from police regulations, is
only proper.

       *       *       *       *       *

Besides a passport, there are other things to be attended to in order
that the way may be made smooth.

       *       *       *       *       *

People do not always, when they resolve to travel, sit upon their
boxes—I mean, of course, metaphorically; yet in travelling abroad, at
least for a period of any duration, some thought must be bestowed upon
the _impedimenta_, and it is very proper to take such boxes as will
stand the immense fatigue to which all luggage is exposed, and to which
the foreign system of registration greatly adds. Very little regard
is paid by porters to the conservation of the luggage. It is tossed
and dragged along over iron–bound tables; and huge heavy iron–bound
and iron–cornered American chests, with their piercing little iron
castors, are often thrown or deposited remorselessly on the top of
smaller and weaker packages. Very small articles, indeed, should
never be put in the vans. It is better, and in the long run cheaper,
to have fewer packages and of a larger size. At the same time, they
are very inconvenient if unwieldily large, as too often one sees them
to be, requiring two men for their carriage, and needing to be left
outside the bedroom—an inconvenience both to the traveller herself and
her fellow–travellers; for it is the ladies who are in this respect
the great transgressors. Some ladies seem to travel with their whole
wardrobe, or at all events with a useless number of changes of raiment.
On one occasion we met a gentleman and lady, who had with them nine
huge boxes, nearly filling up the top of a large omnibus, besides
smaller articles, including their maid’s modest provision. This is
a grievous mistake. Ladies ought to travel with the least possible
quantity of changes. More than is fairly needful is inconvenient in
many ways. Apart from causing detentions to others, it is a source of
anxiety, and is most expensive in countries where the luggage is all
weighed, and every pound or extra pound must be paid for.

Among the little things to be taken, no good traveller will, of course,
omit a pocket corkscrew and a flask of cognac; nor will he neglect
soap. If he have not made it a rule in all travelling to use his own
soap, he is charged at foreign hotels 1 franc for _savon_. I have heard
a man growling over the ‘imposition,’ but it served him right, while
the article was just sold to him like anything else, with the usual 200
or 300 per cent. hotel profit added.

We considered it advisable, especially in view of travelling in Italy,
where the water is said to be often impure, and consequently unsafe to
drink, to take with us a small filter; but although we used our filter
occasionally, I cannot say we were frequently conscious of drinking
bad water. It is, however, a proper precaution, as water may be bad
without betraying its quality by the taste. An Ashantee filter with
a quart tin bottle, to be had from Atkins and Co., 62 Fleet Street,
London, occupies little space, and costs 8s. Were Messrs. Atkins to
devise a portable little filter for use at the table by insertion in a
tumbler, so as to purify the drinking water without the fuss of a large
filter, which it is inconvenient to carry, and which one cannot bring
to the public room, it would be of much use. It must be borne in mind,
however, that filters do not destroy organic matter suspended in the
water, and for this purpose permanganite of potash may be employed. A
drop or two of a solution of this substance, which may be purchased in
dry grains at any chemist’s (easily dissolved when wanted), effects
destruction of organic matter, but gives so unpleasant a bitterness to
the flavour of the water that we scarcely ever used it.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are, however, things more important to provide, and among them
are good guide–books. The rapid growth and extraordinary ramifications
of the railway system have created a new branch of literature in
the railway time–tables. It is curious to take up an early copy of
Bradshaw, consisting only of a few pages, small pocket size, neatly got
up, and to contrast it with English Bradshaw of the present time. If
such a book be needful in Great Britain, people are even more helpless
without it abroad. Bradshaw’s _Continental Guide_, special edition,
will always be found to be most useful, both as a preparatory and as
an accompanying handbook. It contains a great deal of information,
which, however, ought to be taken in a general way, or as the lawyers
say, _cum nota_. Perfect reliance cannot always be placed upon the
accuracy of its railway and other time–tables and its tariffs. On
arriving in a country, it is especially necessary to secure, in
addition, one of its latest official railway guides. In France there
is published once a week, on the Sundays, _L’Indicateur des Chemins de
fer et de la Navigation service officielle_. This costs 60 centimes
(6d.), and is a long folio of inconvenient size. As nearly all French
travellers purchase a copy when they start on a journey, it doubtless
obtains a large sale. The _Livret Chaix Spécial pour France_ (there is
another edition for Europe generally) is an official guide of a more
convenient size. It is published once a month, book shape duodecimo,
costs 1 franc, and has no advertisements, which are scattered through
the _Indicateur_ in a tormenting way, though sometimes useful when
desired information is thereby discovered, which it might much more
readily be if, as in Bradshaw, all the advertisements were thrown
systematically to the end of the book. It is, however, troublesome
to follow these French guides when divergence from the main lines is
desired to be made. The lines are cut up into fragments without the
references contained in Bradshaw to other pages where the connecting
railways occur, and the neat little well–engraved maps in the _Livret
Chaix_ do not bear, as in Bradshaw’s map, the page references where the
tables of the railways are to be found. Bradshaw is puzzling enough,
but sometimes it is felt that the _Livret Chaix_ is one of those
mysteriously–arranged productions ‘which no fella can understand.’

In Italy there is published once a month, costing 1 franc or lira,
_L’Indicatore Ufficiale_. This is peculiarly arranged, and requires
study; but the Italian lines are so few, compared with those of France,
that there is no insuperable difficulty in discovering the time–bills
of particular railways. The Italian _Indicatore_ contains various
preliminary directions which it is well to read. They are curious, and
embrace, _inter alia_, regulations relative to the transport of cats
and monkeys.

The Italians have also a long _Indicatore_ similar to the French weekly
one; and in both countries smaller and cheaper district guides, with
more limited information, are to be had.

In Switzerland, a _Guide des Voyageurs en Suisse_ is published,
apparently twice a year—at least those procured in the Swiss travelling
season are marked ‘Saison d’été,’ 1877 or 1878, as the case may be.

It is never safe to trust to a guide of a past month, although changes
are generally only made in the beginning of the winter season, or about
15th or 16th October, and in the beginning of the summer or spring
season. By not observing a change of this kind which had just been
made, we were detained at Toulon for three or four hours waiting for
the next train to Hyères.

Although it is not desirable to burden oneself with many books in
travelling, Bædeker’s Guide–Books, which on the whole are very accurate
and useful, ought not to be dispensed with. Italy is embraced in
three little volumes—Northern, Central, and Southern; and Bædeker has
separate Guides to Switzerland, France, and other countries; so that if
one has to travel much, quite a little library requires to be taken.
Bædeker’s Northern Italy, however, embraces the Riviera di Ponente, in
which Cannes and Mentone are, and the journey thither from Paris, and
towns on the way, such as Lyons, Avignon, Nismes, and Marseilles, while
southward it extends as far as Florence. Murray’s Guide–Books are very
useful, and are much more full and detailed, but consequently are more
bulky, and are therefore more suitable for protracted visits to a town
such as Venice. Neither Bædeker nor Murray, however, are to be wholly
relied upon, especially for the latest information. For example, we
found in Italy that while it is said in Bædeker there are no fees to
pay, in the different Academie delle Belle Arti there is now charged
1 franc per person for admission. I would add, also, that Bædeker’s
estimates of hotel charges can by no means be relied on as exact,
although they may at one time have been so, or they may in some cases
be those with which Germans are charged, Bædeker being a publication
originating in Germany.

These books all require from time to time careful revision; and
considering the importance to the traveller of having the latest
information, and the large sale they command, they ought to be revised
at short intervals.

There are certain very useful guide–books published in France, of two
sorts—the _Guides Diamant_, which are little pocket volumes in small
type; and the _Guides Grand Format_, which are of a larger size.
Each class (published only in French) contains a series of volumes
applicable to the different parts of France, as well as volumes devoted
to other countries. The divisional volumes for France are exceedingly
useful, as containing detailed information respecting the districts to
which they apply.

I may also mention that Mr. Cook, the tourist, publishes a series of
handbooks for the countries to which his tours apply; and that recently
Black has also added to his list of guide–books, guides to the south of
France.

To those visiting Rome, _Hare’s Walks in Rome_ (2 vols.) will be found
extremely serviceable. Unfortunately we did not take it with us, as
adding to the quantity of books with which we had to travel. It is
a little heavy to carry about in the hand, but it directs attention
to what is best worth seeing, and may be consulted at one’s lodgings
before and after visiting the attractions of Rome.

In the old coaching days, when the mail or the diligence drove through
a town, and generally stopped at one of the principal inns, there
was not much deliberation needed or even much choice granted as to
where the passenger should sleep. But it is one of the inconveniences
attendant upon the railway system,—to a certain extent obviated by the
erection of station hotels,—that he has not an opportunity from ocular
inspection beforehand, on arriving at a strange town, of forming an
idea as to where he should go. And it is an observation on Bradshaw
(more or less applicable to other guide–books), that it does not do
to rely implicitly on its recommendations of hotels,—a circumstance
which probably arises from the notice of given hotels having been
written years previously, and means not having been used to obtain a
complete revision from year to year. More reliance in this respect is
to be placed on Bædeker’s Guide–Books. Hotels marked by Bædeker with
an * will almost always be found of a good character. In the absence
of other means of intelligence, we have sometimes been driven, like
many others, to ask information from chance fellow–travellers, at other
times to get it at the hotel from which we started in the morning—not
infrequently the less trustworthy method of the two. But as it is most
desirable to have reliable information on this subject, it is, where
practicable, by far the best plan, before setting out upon a tour, to
settle as nearly as possible the route to be taken, and to obtain a
note from friends who have travelled along it of the hotels they would
recommend. In possession of this knowledge beforehand, all anxiety
is removed, and one is enabled to write previously, requesting the
landlord to retain rooms. Letters and telegrams with such requests are
always carefully attended to, the hotelkeeper no doubt considering
that application to him is made from choice and not from chance.

       *       *       *       *       *

The great increase of travelling produced by the railways, has led
bankers to contrive convenient methods in which people may take the
requisite supply of money with them; and of all the methods which have
been devised, the best and safest is that afforded by the system of
circular notes. These notes are granted by certain banks in London and
Edinburgh, and are drafts upon London for £20 each, or for the usually
more convenient amount of £10 each, according to the tourist’s desire.
They can be cashed at any town on the Continent, hotelkeepers also
accepting them in payment of their bills, but without benefit of any
exchange which would be allowed by the banks. Along with the notes, the
banker delivers what is called a ‘Letter of Indication,’ which contains
a list of all the banks with which he corresponds, embracing almost
every place which may be visited in Europe. This letter, for security’s
sake, it is advisable to keep in a different pocket or box from the
circular notes, which require his signature and endorsement. The
banker’s correspondents ought not to cash the notes without production
of this letter of indication; but sometimes they are negligent or lax
in this respect, particularly if the presenter appear to be respectable
or a _bona fide_ traveller. At some places, however, such as at Paris,
the bankers are more cautious, and not only invariably ask for the
letter, but they put sundry questions and take the hotel address—the
object being, quite properly, in a quiet way to make sure that the
notes are presented by the right person. A friend had his notes stolen
from him at a railway station in Paris on arrival from England, having
unfortunately put them with other things in a small hand–bag, instead
of carrying them in a secure pocket about his person. His letter of
indication, however, was not with the notes, and so far, though not
altogether, was he safe. The thief took them at once to a bank in
Paris, and, I suppose, not having the letter of indication, and perhaps
not being able to give a satisfactory account of himself, they were
forwarded to London, and within fifteen hours after being stolen were
presented to the banker on whom they were drawn, and they were refused
because the signature attached by the thief did not correspond with the
usual signature of my friend.

These circular notes are exchanged for the money of the country in
which they are presented for payment; but French gold is always useful,
and fetches full value abroad. In exchanging, one generally gets the
benefit of the exchange, subject to a fractional deduction. The usual
exchange in France for a sovereign is 25 francs 10 centimes;[4] but
this is seldom got, and in some places, such as Biarritz and Mentone,
the bankers only give the 25 francs nett, and in other places slightly
more or slightly less according to the state of the exchange. At a
bank in Cannes a friend exchanged Bank of England notes simultaneously
with my exchanging a circular note for £10. While I obtained 7½d. (75
centimes) of premium, he got nothing, because the banker said there was
always much more trouble about Bank of England notes, which required
registration. Eighteen months later, however, I found in Paris, oddly
enough, that Bank of England notes were at a premium, while circular
notes were at a discount. At Cannes, in 1877, I had occasion to cash a
bank draft on London received from one of the colonies, and found that
nominally the allowance was greater than upon circular notes; but as
the banker charged a commission, it practically reduced the exchange
to about the same amount. Another notable circumstance was, that while
at Mentone the bankers would give nothing beyond the 25 francs, at the
neighbouring town of Nice the bankers always gave exchange varying
from 75 centimes to 1 franc per £10. At Pau I found that while the
correspondent of the bank only gave ½ franc per £10, another banker
gave 1 franc, and upon an exchange of £50 even a shade more. Again, at
Montreux, in Switzerland, I obtained 1 franc 25 centimes per £10, and
within little more than a week afterwards at Biarritz, in accordance
with invariable practice, nothing beyond the 25 francs per £. The
same difference occurred in two other places. Within a similar short
space, I changed in Paris and got 25 francs per £. Within a day or two
afterwards, I had to change other notes at Interlachen, and received 25
francs 10 centimes. The only explanation I ever got for these anomalies
was that given at Biarritz, the banker there saying, that at Montreux
they were near the Italian border (in fact, a long way off from it),
and could make more money out of the notes. But this was obviously an
unsatisfactory reason, and certainly could not explain the position of
matters at Mentone, which is within two miles of the Italian frontier.

In Italy the exchange of gold or notes on London into Italian
paper is a matter of considerable importance to the holder, for
the exchange allowed, though it fluctuates, is always high.[5] The
lowest we received anywhere was 27·03 at Rome, 23d March 1877, and at
San Remo 1878. The highest was at Venice, in May 1877, 28·25. This
last was during the Eastern War, which had been declared in April,
and considerably raised the value of gold in Italy. I presume the
uncertainty as to whether Italy would be involved in the war helped
to depress the value of the paper. It is difficult for one who has
not been engaged in commerce or in banking to understand why these
fluctuations occur, or to be acquainted with the causes which influence
them. The current value is said to be dependent upon the position of
the commercial relations between Great Britain and the Continent; but
there are obviously other circumstances, such as national credit,
political disturbances, war, and the abundance or scarcity of money,
which affect or bias the barometer. But whatever may be the cause, the
traveller obtains the benefit of the effect when the exchange is high,
as his money goes so much further. The Italian paper money is, unless
otherwise specially bargained for, taken everywhere in Italy—in hotels,
in shops, and even at railways. It is only necessary to be particular
in seeing that paper of the right sort is given. It is always safe to
receive paper of the National Bank of Italy. This circulates everywhere
throughout Italy, but notes of district or provincial banks are not
accepted out of the province; and there are certain notes which have
been called in (with which one soon becomes familiar), which, though
taken in shops, are refused at railway stations and other public
places, sometimes provokingly.

One curious circumstance about the Continental banks is, that they seem
to possess marvellously limited stores of money, whether of notes or of
gold and silver. People have just to take what the bankers can give.
I have more than once been obliged in France to take a note for 1000
francs, or £40, which is practically useless, unless where residence in
a place is to be of sufficient duration to enable the holder to tender
the note in payment of his hotel bill. I have often had the greatest
difficulty in getting small change even for half a napoleon. For a
napoleon (20 francs) one is fortunate to get, as a favour from a bank,
four large 5 franc pieces, the banker saying that he has no smaller
change, which perhaps only means he cannot spare his lesser money.
This state of matters, I believe, arises from the scarcity of silver
money in France, produced by the people hoarding up their savings,
which are thus withdrawn from circulation. In Italy (where apparently
the same hoarding must take place, though probably not so extensively)
I have for the most part had to take, except to a very limited extent,
the notes proffered by the banks; and one very useful kind of note,
that for half a franc, is very difficult to procure. Even 1 franc notes
are scarce; the bankers will give you a pocketful of copper instead.
These ½ franc and 1 franc notes are essentially necessary for fees in
going about such places as Rome; but copper is freely taken as payment
of fees, carriage drives, etc. Fancy tendering a London cabman his fare
in copper!

At first one feels a little repugnance to the use of these small
Italian notes, which are of all values; but after getting habituated to
them, a preference arises for their use over metal money, which is so
much heavier. A special purse with divisions for the different values
should be procured.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, having accomplished the preparations for the journey, the
next question is as to the route. It will always be found that there
are greater facilities in travelling to and from a capital city, such
as London, Paris, or Edinburgh; and in going abroad towards France,
the voyager has generally to select one of the routes from London to
Paris. The four great leading steamboat passages across the Straits
are—Southampton to Havre, advertised to take in crossing six and a
half hours; but on the only occasion on which I have gone by that
route, which was in 1854, the voyage occupied in a calm night eleven
hours, though possibly more powerful boats are now laid on. Newhaven
to Dieppe, five and a half to six hours in good weather: I have
been nine hours in a storm. Folkestone to Boulogne, ordinarily two
hours, although one fast boat (by which our last crossing was made)
accomplishes the passage in an hour and a half. Dover to Calais,
one hour forty minutes; but in a storm I have known it to have taken
four hours. As an inducement to travel by the longer crossings, the
fares are proportionately lower. Fares by night service trains are
considerably less than those by day trains. The routes by Newhaven
and Folkestone are tidal, and the hours of sailing vary according
to the state of the tide, which is troublesome, and infers to most
people, when the boats sail at an early hour, sleeping at the port
of departure, which we repeatedly have had to do.[6] The passage by
Folkestone and Boulogne is by many preferred to that from Dover to
Calais, because there is less groundswell. Getting into the pier
at Boulogne is sometimes, owing to the state of the tide, tedious;
but from a statement in the newspapers, it would appear that the
authorities are contemplating the improvement of the harbour by an
outlay of £680,000. In proceeding to Paris from Calais or Boulogne, one
may stop at Amiens and see the town and fine old cathedral; but the
routes from Havre, and from Dieppe to Paris through Normandy, are far
more interesting by the way, and pass picturesque Rouen, which is well
worthy of a visit, the stoppage of at least a night to explore it amply
repaying the visitor.


       *       *       *       *       *

All the world and the railway companies are largely indebted to the
enterprise of Mr. Cook, who, from small beginnings, commencing in
1851, has gradually enlarged his schemes for the public benefit, till
the ramifications of his system extend over all Europe and even into
the other continents. Mr. Gaze followed, apparently a good many years
later, and his arrangements seem to be on an equally extensive scale.
Both houses have agencies in the leading towns of Great Britain, as
well as in several of the principal European cities. Their success
is evidence of their utility, and there can be no doubt that the
facilities afforded by them have greatly increased the number of
Continental travellers. Their Lists furnish the routes and the cost of
travel; their tickets are extremely useful, and possess the advantage
of being printed in English as well as in the language of the country
to which they apply; while to those who are afraid of travelling in
countries where they cannot speak the language, their conducted tours
are no doubt valuable.

Tickets can be got from Cook’s offices to Paris _via_ Dover and
Newhaven; Gaze supplies tickets _via_ Folkestone and Southampton;
and there is a little advantage in taking these tickets, in respect
of saving time and trouble at the bustling London railway stations.
The tickets are made up in little books, and a leaf applicable to
the portion traversed is withdrawn by the ticket collector upon
accomplishment of that stage of the journey. But if the traveller be
going beyond Paris, to some place to which these offices book, he
receives a separate packet of tickets, which is exceedingly useful to
him, as, besides saving the trouble of purchasing at the Paris railway
station, he is enabled on starting from Paris to register his heavy
luggage to any part of his destination for which there is a coupon, and
that even at every such place. For example, going from Paris to Nice,
the luggage may be registered to Nice; and taking sufficient in the
carriage for the journey, in a _sac–de–nuit_, one may stop or break his
journey at Dijon, Lyons, Avignon, Marseilles, Cannes, and some other
towns. He can be a month on the road, and find upon arrival at Nice his
luggage safe in the luggage room, with a trifle per night to pay for
the accommodation. The trouble of procuring tickets at each station
is also saved, although at some places they require the tickets to be
stamped afresh at the ticket window; but in Italy generally a separate
window for this purpose is provided, so that the trouble of obtaining
the _visa_ is there reduced to a minimum.

The tickets issued by the two London houses for France seem to be
charged at or about the same rates as at the French railway stations.
But in Italy, or for Italy, their tickets must be paid for in English
money; so that it does not seem in a pecuniary point of view to be
one’s interest to procure them, because the benefit of the exchange,
amounting to about one–twelfth of the cost, is thus lost. No doubt it
is an advantage to those who cannot speak a few words of the Italian
language so as to be understood, or who cannot pick up what is said
at the railway booking window, to take the English tickets, and they
can afford to pay for their ignorance. But if the fee–expecting
_commissionaire_ of the hotel do not attend to the matter, which he
often of his own accord does, or will do if asked, extremely little
is necessary to be said, even French, or a mere acquaintance with the
numerals, being generally sufficient. Personally I never experienced
any difficulty whatever in taking out the tickets at the foreign
railway stations, and indeed the only difficulty I remember to have
had was, because I had Cook’s tickets. Conceiving there might, on a
first visit, be trouble, I had at Nice taken tickets from Genoa to
Rome, bearing a right to make three intermediate stoppages. Having,
in perfect accordance with the conditions, stopped at Spezzia, Pisa,
and Sienna, I could hardly, on leaving Sienna, get the tickets marked
for Rome. They were refused at the ticket window, and doubted by the
_chef–de–gare_; and it was only upon my emphatic remonstrance, and his
appealing to somebody else on the platform, that I succeeded in getting
them stamped. On arriving in Rome, I told Mr. Cook’s agent there what
had happened, and he said that if I had been required to have purchased
tickets from Sienna to Rome, he would have compelled the railway
company to have refunded the money, and made a complaint about it. It
was no doubt just one of those stupid things that will happen under the
best arrangements, well to be mentioned, that it may not be repeated;
and apart from the question of time (for the English tickets are
limited in time allowed for a journey extending over several towns),
there is no reason why they should not be preferred, provided always
that they could be procured with Italian paper money. Probably from the
fluctuating state of the exchange, it is difficult for Messrs. Cook and
Gaze to arrange; but if they could, it would obviate all objection.

       *       *       *       *       *

To those intending to travel in Italy, great advantages are held
out by the railway companies in the shape of circular tour tickets
(_viaggi circulari_). The _Indicatore della Strada Ferrata_ contains a
list,[7] with plans of a large number of such tours, the tickets for
which are issued, enduring, according to the length of tour, from ten
to sixty days (which cannot be extended), at the large reduction of
45 per cent. upon the price which would otherwise be exigible. One of
these tours is, for example, a complete round of Italy—from Turin by
the west coast, embracing Florence and Rome to Naples, and thence by
the east coast by Ancona, Bologna, Venice, Milan, and back to Turin,
at a cost for first class of £7, 17s., and second and third classes
correspondingly low. This tour, for which sixty days are allowed,
enables the traveller to stop at any important town on the lines; and
all that is necessary is, at starting from each place, to get the
next station at which he means to stop scored through at the railway
window. To those whose time is limited, these circular tickets are
valuable, and they are procurable with Italian paper, so that the
benefit of exchange is got. Cook and Gaze issue tickets for the same
circular tours, and probably at the same price, although I suppose
they are generally in connection with tickets from London; but they
have, I understand, to be paid for in English money. They possess
the advantage, I believe, by no means to be undervalued, of having
all directions printed in English as well as Italian. The railway
companies issue their tickets at every important town on the line of
route to be travelled.

In France, likewise, there are for some parts circular tours, such as
from Paris to Bordeaux, Biarritz, the Pyrenees and back. Information on
the subject may be got in the _Indicateur_, or in the _Guides Diamant_
among the advertisements.

I would just add in connection with this subject, that it is said by
Bradshaw that return tickets are ‘almost universal abroad, and issued
upon terms far more liberal than any granted by our English lines.’
Although I have on various occasions taken day return tickets for short
trips, I have never yet found them to be any cheaper than the double
fare.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the course of a journey, what are called supplementary billets can
be procured through the guard, so as to enable a neighbouring place to
be visited by a side line. Thus, in going from Lyons to Marseilles, we
obtained supplementary tickets from Tarascon to Nismes by asking for
them when stopping at Valence, about the second station before reaching
Tarascon. This, especially looking to the peculiarities of foreign
lines, is a great convenience.

The Italian _Indicatore_ states that travellers may exchange at any
place to a higher class by paying difference of fare between the place
at which the transfer is effected and the terminus.

       *       *       *       *       *

After crossing the Channel, the first thing which is new to one who has
not previously ventured out of the British Islands, is the examination
of luggage by the _douaniers_ or custom–house officers. It is now
arranged that by registration of luggage to Paris, the examination may
take place there. This saves detention at the port of debarkation. In
general, an Englishman, if apparently a _bona fide_ pleasure traveller,
is very easily dealt with by these officers. If he have but a single
portmanteau, it is sometimes not so much as opened, or if opened,
there is but a nominal examination. He is asked if he have anything
to declare—’Any cigars?’ It is curious that in almost every country,
the sole special question usually asked is, ‘Have you any cigars?’
and the word of an Englishman that he has none is ordinarily taken.
If there be several boxes, the officer points to one of them, and
desires it to be opened, sometimes merely to be closed again. At other
times the man will provokingly put his hand down to the very depths,
and perhaps bring up something hard or a parcel, and fancy he has
made a discovery. But he is easily satisfied, and things are restored
in the best way possible for a tight fit. No examination of luggage
seems to be made on entering Switzerland from any frontier country,
indicating that the Swiss have no custom–house duties; but on leaving
Switzerland and entering France, there is a more minute examination
than occurs when coming from England; and although English people get
off comparatively easily, a question being sometimes asked as to where
they are going, those of other countries are most unmercifully dealt
with, every separate package, down even to handbags, being overhauled.
Once, many years ago, travelling by diligence from Geneva to Lyons,
I saw every article in a French lady’s boxes turned out and minutely
examined at three different places on the way. I presume they are
suspicious of such travellers secreting Geneva watches or jewellery. On
that occasion my own luggage was only examined once, but they made a
sort of examination of the person by passing their hands over my dress.
The lady, no doubt, was subjected to a more strict examination of her
person.

       *       *       *       *       *

On landing in France, it is found that there is a difference of time
between Paris and London of ten minutes. All the French railways go
by Paris time; all Swiss railways, by Berne time, which is twenty
minutes in advance of Paris time; and all Italian railways, by Roman
time, which is forty–seven minutes in advance of Paris time. This is
all very right and proper, and makes it easy to know the times for
travelling by railway. But although the railways adopt the time of
their respective capitals, every different town has, according to its
longitude, its own, or what is held to be the correct time at the place
according to the sun. This proves most embarrassing, more especially
as the hotels regulate their hours by the clock of their own town
when that exists. If not, there is the utmost perplexity in finding
out what the correct time is. At Mentone no two clocks were alike. By
common consent they all differed. On going south to Avignon, the time
is nearly a quarter of an hour in advance of Paris time; at Mentone
it is twenty minutes. If, on the other hand, the journey be westward
of Paris, at Biarritz, the time will be found as much the other way;
so that one of the first inquiries to be made on reaching a hotel is,
‘What is the time of the town?’ and to note the difference between that
and railway time.

The complex and extraordinary mode of measuring time formerly in use in
Italy, by counting twenty–four hours for the varying time of vespers,
seems to be now wholly abandoned.

       *       *       *       *       *

All who have travelled on the Continent are familiar with the railway
arrangements; but as they differ in some particulars from those to
which we are accustomed, and as this introductory chapter is mainly
intended for the benefit of those who have not previously crossed the
Channel, it may be useful to mention some of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Although in all leading respects foreigners have copied our railway
system, yet their diverging peculiarities are not always calculated
to reconcile an Englishman to Continental travel. He arrives at the
station, which he finds he must do in France a full half–hour before
the hour of starting; in Italy, in large towns, a full hour. And in
France he must always, in the first instance, procure his ticket at a
little wire–latticed window, falling into a _queue_ of people to take
his turn. Stooping to a small hole not six inches high on the table
level, he has to shout through in French to the distributor of billets
within, telling him what he wants, and from whom he receives in return
mention of the amount to be paid. It is always well to know beforehand
how much this is, which can be at least approximately calculated
from the time–tables; but the exact price of tickets may usually be
obtained from a board or table of fares near the ticket window, often
most inconveniently placed and arranged, and so dirty and soiled as
occasionally to be illegible. Without a previous knowledge of the
probable cost, it is exceedingly difficult for a stranger to make out
what the man says, owing to the narrowness of the aperture and the
indistinctness of French pronunciation. In many places, particularly in
Italy, an official is stationed (a most commendable practice) outside
the window, to prevent inconvenient crowding, to tell the fares, to see
that the correct billets are supplied, and to be a check on the ticket
distributor giving the right change. I have been told of cases where,
in Italy,—but it was some years ago,—there had been supposed attempts
to cheat on the part of the distributor; but, except on one occasion, I
never got wrong change. It happened at Bologna, where I received at the
ticket office 1 lira too little, and at the luggage office some pence
less than the correct change. In both cases it was at once rectified
on my pointing out the mistakes, and I set them down to slips. At
other times, on accidentally neglecting to take up small change at the
window, such as a sou, I have been called back to get it. But there is
an admirable check upon any attempt to cheat, or on mistakes, in the
circumstance that commonly Continental tickets have marked upon them
their cost—a system which might with great advantage be introduced into
Great Britain.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now the Englishman obtains a new experience of how they manage
things abroad. His luggage was, on arrival at the station, deposited
on a long table under the care of the conductor of the omnibus which
brought him. This luggage, with the exception of such little things
as he means to take with him into the carriage, has, when his turn
arrives, to be carefully weighed. In France each traveller is allowed
30 kilogrammes, or about 65 lbs. weight. For every pound beyond this he
is required to pay according to distance. The men engaged in weighing
ask for the railway billets to show the destination, and then he goes
to the luggage–ticket window, where he duly receives back his billets
stamped as having been used, and gets a little scrap or morsel of thin
paper, which is the receipt for his luggage, and for which he has in
any case to pay 10 centimes (1d.) in addition to any charge for extra
weight. This receipt bears the number of _colis_ or packages and of
persons, the united weight of the party’s luggage, the sum payable, the
place of despatch and the place of destination, and a printed number;
which number is also affixed to each article so registered, and is the
means by which, on arriving at the journey’s end, it is identified.
What is the exact method by which the officials in charge manage to
secure that all the multiform boxes and bags arrive at their respective
proper destinations, I do not know. I presume that, in addition to an
invoice or list of some kind accompanying the train, the things for
each station are separately stowed away in the waggons; but whatever
may be the means adopted, they ensure the utmost regularity, although
I have heard of persons losing small articles, which, as a rule, ought
not to be so registered. On one occasion a rather curious circumstance
happened to my luggage. I went from Interlachen to Paris, and the
registration number on my portmanteau was 82. From Paris to London it
was registered anew, and the number happened to be 282; but the passage
across the Channel was very stormy, and I presume the Paris number had
been washed off on the voyage. On presenting my receipt at London, and
pointing out my portmanteau, it was found that it had not the number
282, but simply 82, and I had some difficulty in getting it; but as my
key opened the lock, and nobody else appeared to claim the article, I
got delivery.

In Italy, no allowance is made for luggage. Every pound which is
registered must be paid for, and consequently it is not in general
necessary previously to take out the railway billets. The expense is
not, however, great, unless one’s luggage be heavy. Our luggage, which
perhaps was less than many travel with, cost me, travelling nearly all
over Italy, for railway charges, less than 30s. per person; but railway
fares in Italy are cheaper than with us, so that the difference is thus
made up.

Although the system of registration is attended by much security,
and is one with which it might not be safe to dispense in travelling
abroad, I do not think that, in its integrity, it could be introduced
into busy England. We should never stand the minute weighing of our
luggage, and, above all, the enormous loss of time which it entails.
It has, besides, its disadvantages, because it results in travellers
carrying and placing beside them articles which ought properly to be
in the van. The luggage registered, too, suffers injury. Moreover,
at the journey’s end a great detention is always occasioned. All
have to wait till the vans are emptied, and the contents dragged
about and arranged upon long tables in a closed room. When the entire
collection is adjusted as far as possible according to the numbers
affixed, the doors of this room are opened, after having had to wait
wearily perhaps half an hour. It is, however, by no means necessary to
attend personally, except where the luggage must be passed through the
_douane_, and sometimes the hotel omnibus will take home the passengers
and come back for the luggage; but personal attendance enables a more
prompt recognition of it to be made, and ensures accuracy. In Italy it
is reckoned safer not to leave luggage at a station. The Italians have
not been credited with the greatest honesty, though probably this is
a thing of the past. However, they themselves manifest the sense of
insecurity by refusing to receive luggage for registration which is
not properly locked or fastened, and boxes arriving in such condition
are closed at the owner’s expense in his presence.

In travelling by steamboat, also, a charge is made for luggage
according to weight. Thus, upon a little sail of about 10 miles on Lake
Como, I had to pay 2½ francs for luggage. In diligences in Switzerland,
20 lbs. weight only is allowed. All weight beyond this is charged for—a
fairly reasonable regulation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Perhaps the most peculiar and striking of all the Continental
travelling arrangements is the system of waiting–rooms. It introduces
to English people a difference of method of a somewhat irritating
description. The _salle–d’attente_ is a species of sheep pen into which
the traveller is driven after he has obtained his railway billets and
had his luggage registered, and where he must remain helplessly shut up
till the train by which he is to travel is about to leave. Generally
a separate large room is provided for each of the three classes of
travellers, and the rule is that nobody is allowed to enter without
exhibition of the railway ticket appropriate to that particular class;
and as this cannot be done till the luggage be registered and paid
for, which seldom takes less than a quarter of an hour, if ladies be
of the party, they must wait with all the patience possible, guarding
the little articles to be taken into the railway carriage, in the large
hall of the office, where ofttimes there is not a seat or a comfortable
or clean one to be had. Once or twice, in breach of the regulations, I
have got them passed into the waiting–room. In the _salle–d’attente_
itself, penetrated under burden of all these little _impedimenta_
(for it is rare good luck to get a porter to help), a crowd of people
all similarly laden is found, and there the passengers have to wait
sometimes for long periods till within four or five minutes of the
starting of the train, when a man opens the door of the prison–house
or menagerie and shouts out, ‘_Messieurs les voyageurs, pour_ (naming
the places) _en voiture!_’ It may happen that there are several such
shouts for other trains before your own is announced, and your sudden
preparations for departure are stopped by the discovery that your
turn has not yet come, and you are not allowed to leave the place of
confinement. When your turn does come, you gather up your things,
which no porter helps you to carry, and rush pell–mell out with the
crowd. There is no servant to tell you where to go, and your only
security not to do wrong is to follow the multitude. When you reach
the carriages, it is seldom they have any board or placard indicating
their destination. If there should by any chance be an official about,
he is not there for the purpose of directing people; and if you ask
him, he gives about as slender information in answer as possible. It is
folly, however, to stop to ask him in the first instance. The plan is,
trudging on with wraps and bags and all the little things, to bundle
into the first open carriage where there appears to be sufficient room,
and secure seats as best you can, and then get out and make inquiries
for certainty’s sake. If you do not do so, and a lady, to recover
breath, halts an instant with foot on step before ascending, others
will coolly mount before her and take possession, and there may be the
utmost possible difficulty in procuring seat–room elsewhere, foreigners
being just as selfishly guilty as English people of telling lies about
a carriage being full. At all events, those who have got in first have
probably secured all the available spaces for their goods and chattels,
as well as the best seats for themselves. To avoid the expense of
registration, or to escape detention on arrival, foreigners (by whom I
mean natives of the Continent) almost invariably, as already mentioned,
bring portmanteaus and other big articles into the carriages; and as
the spaces below the seats are perhaps purposely narrow and confined,
these things become very inconvenient, often occupying the places
presumably intended for light articles, or they are placed on the seats
or among the feet. If smoking disagrees, or you are averse to it,
and desire a non–smoking carriage, the hunt for this in the scramble
is an additional embarrassment; and frequently, after getting into
a carriage and having everything arranged, the non–smokers discover
that the compartment is a smoking one, and they have to tumble out
at the last moment and endeavour to discover empty places elsewhere.
The inconveniences attendant upon this method of arranging for the
departure of travellers are such as would make it intolerable in Great
Britain, where one walks leisurely to the train as he arrives and
selects his seat, with the aid, it may be, of a porter or a guard. Free
Britons will submit quietly till a next election to the imposition of
heavy burdens in support of an unnecessary war, but a petty grievance
like this would raise a storm which no board of directors could resist.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Continental railways, however, have both porters and guards, who,
like policemen, never seem to be present when most wanted. On arrival
at a station from an hotel, there are always railway porters to carry
the luggage to the registration table, for which they expect to be
paid, and sometimes in expectation of a further fee they will carry the
_petits bagages_ to the door of the _salle–d’attente_—occasionally,
though rarely, into the _salle–d’attente_ itself; but where assistance
is more needed, viz. in leaving the _salle–d’attente_ in the rush
for the train, porters are nowhere, and on arrival of the trains at
their destination, it is by the merest chance (at least in France) one
can be got to carry the unregistered articles—the number of which is
aggravated by the circumstance that it seems to be part of the system
of registration, that if luggage be forwarded to a station in advance
of that at which stoppage is to be made for the night or longer, it
is not possible to register separately to the stopping station what
is required for immediate use. A similar difficulty happens if the
heavy luggage is to be left at the railway station, to be got upon
setting out upon the further journey next day—a circumstance constantly
happening, we ourselves having travelled thus for days together. All
must be taken or none. But at some of the larger town stations, there
would now seem to be a left luggage room similar to our own, where
luggage may be deposited on payment of usually two sous per package per
night.

The railway porters always expect a fee (20 centimes per box, at
most, will suffice in France) for moving the heavy luggage—even the
registration weighers sometimes look for a copper. In Italy, however,
the porters often state there is a tariff of charge, under which
generally 25 centimes each package is paid, though the amount depends
somewhat on the size of each. It is, however, a comfort to know in
Italy, if you can, what exactly there is to pay; but although appeal
has often been made to the tariff if it happened to be high, I never
was gladdened with a sight of this mysterious document. I should make
one exception, for the extortion was so great that I demanded to see
it, though, as I might have foreseen, it was worse than useless to do
so. It occurred at Geneva, where a porter exacted 3½ francs (3s.) from
me for transporting on a barrow our luggage from the steamboat to our
hotel close by, we being charged in the bill in addition 2½ francs for
conveying two of us to the hotel, or 5s. for moving baggage little more
than a hundred yards.

I recollect some years ago a system very equitable both for porters and
passengers was in use at Cologne; a charge, I think, of 2d. for each
package was made at the railway station for porterage, and the amount
dropped into a box, the contents of which fell to be divided afterwards
among all the porters.

One misses at the foreign railways the fee–expecting, bustling English
guard. There is such a person, but he is not the important functionary
he makes himself at home, where he is seen going about as if all the
carriages belonged to him. Abroad, the guard arrives not or retreats
until the train is about to start, and the first and perhaps the only
time he makes his appearance is probably after proceeding a long way on
the journey; and when the train is in full motion, nervous passengers
are suddenly alarmed by seeing a man creeping along the outside of the
carriage and popping his head in at the window, or opening the door to
see the billets, which are seldom examined before starting. He silently
gives the tickets a clip, and disappears, perhaps to reappear after
another 50 miles for another examination and another clip, the want of
inspection before starting removing a safeguard which exists in England
against proceeding in the wrong train. But if the guard render himself
invisible, he does not expect, as in England, to be fee’d for making
needless announcements, or proffering superfluous information, and so
the imposition is saved.

       *       *       *       *       *

As a general rule, the Continental railway carriages are superior in
comfort to our own, although latterly improvement has been made in
this direction on some of the English lines. On most of the foreign
lines, the second–class carriages are, or were, equal to our first,
and practically almost the only difference between first and second
consists in the number of passengers which they take, the first
class taking eight in each compartment, and the second ten. In the
line between Cette and Bayonne, and possibly on other lines, the
second–class carriages are not so good, and are more like our own, and
do not possess that with which those on other lines are fitted up—a
netting overhead similar to what is placed in our first–class carriages
for the reception of small things; hooks are substituted. Sometimes one
gets into the older class of carriage, as we did once between Arles and
Marseilles, where the compartments are uncomfortably narrow.

In France, it seems quite the rule to crowd the carriages to the
utmost. I never learnt the reason, but have imagined that a Government
duty or tax is levied on every carriage used. If so, it is highly
desirable that this tax should be removed.

In all the French trains, and I think also in other countries, there
is in each class a division _pour dames seules_; and as occasionally
there is only one second–class carriage in the train, and the post
may, if a mail train, occupy one compartment of it, there is in such
a case only one compartment left for the general travellers by second
class—a circumstance which is productive of inconvenience to them. The
officials peremptorily keep the _dames seules_ portion for ladies only.
On one occasion I had unwittingly got into one with three ladies of my
party, and with our whole effects; but although all the ladies in the
carriage politely expressed their willingness that I should remain, the
guard compelled me to descend and find another compartment for myself.

On most lines in France, Switzerland, and Italy, there are compartments
which are marked as non–smoking; but although so marked, little regard
is paid to the distinction, particularly on the Italian lines. The
men seem to have very little notion that it is a most selfish act to
pollute the air breathed by their fellow–passengers for the sake of
indulging in one of their own—to many others, disagreeable—habits which
might be postponed until they get out; and so little is thought about
it, that it would require Sydney Smith’s ‘Surgical Operation’ to imbue
them with the idea that it is a discomfort to others, or that when
asked to stop smoking, it is their duty at once as gentlemen to comply.
On one occasion in Italy, after speaking to successive passengers, some
of whom complied, and some would not, I spoke to the guard; but he paid
no attention to the complaint (the carriage being non–smoking), and in
charity let me suppose he did not comprehend what I said. But, indeed,
the cigar seems hardly ever out of the mouth of the Italian, and one
wonders how the humbler classes can spare the money from their small
earnings to spend upon this expensive practice.

       *       *       *       *       *

Foreigners are very fond in the hot weather of putting down all the
six windows of the compartment, thus creating draughts, from which I
have several times caught a cold. They have not the slightest notion
of closing a window in passing through a tunnel, and on some lines the
tunnels are frequent and long. But while they put down the glass, they
also draw down the blue blinds placed over each window, under pretence
of the shining of the sun, but quite as often for no conceivable reason
except that the glass is down, or that they don’t want to be bothered
looking out. It is of no manner of consequence although the scenery
through which one is passing be the finest or the grandest possible,
down goes the blue blind without even the politeness of asking the
other passengers whether they so desire or not. As often as I could, I
secured a place at the window, and showed that, although a native of a
colder clime, I could stand the sunshine for the sake of the view. On
one occasion, on a former tour, travelling by diligence from Geneva to
Chamounix, there were some Germans smoking continually, as usual, on
the seats before us. These men, though approaching the grandest scenery
in Europe, insisted angrily on a leather curtain being kept down, so
as to exclude all view, simply because the raising of it admitted a
little sunshine. But this habit is not confined to Germans; and the
conclusion to which I have come is that, to say nothing of the quality
of inherent politeness in true consideration for others, the generality
of foreigners have no high appreciation for scenery, or are desperately
afraid of their complexion, which, to say the truth, cannot rival that
of the Anglo–Saxon.

I should just add, that in Switzerland, on some of the lines, the
railway carriages are constructed somewhat on the American plan, by
which entrance is made from end to end of the carriage, and the guard
can thus pass through from one carriage to another. At Interlachen,
between the two lakes, there is an upper storey to enable people the
better to see the views. Carriages similarly constructed are for the
same reason run upon the little line between Bayonne and Biarritz.

       *       *       *       *       *

The speed on Continental railways is, as compared with that on English
railways, very slow. There are what are called express trains, but
these express trains do not attain the celerity of our ordinary trains.
For example, the express which leaves Paris at 11 A.M. reaches Mentone
the following day at 3.50 P.M.—that is, 690 miles in twenty–nine hours,
or at the rate of 24 miles per hour; and for long journeys like this
in France, first–class tickets must be taken. Express trains are not,
however, always to be had, and one is doomed frequently to long and
tiresome journeys. To go from Nismes to Toulouse, our train took ten
hours, stopping at thirty different stations by the way between Cette
and Toulouse, with twenty minutes to dine at Narbonne, the previous
part of the journey between Nismes and Cette, a short distance, having
been express. The distance is only 298 kilometres, or about 186 miles
for the whole journey, the rate of speed between Cette and Toulouse
being thus only between 14 and 15 miles per hour. In like manner eight
hours were consumed in the journey between Pau and Toulouse, which is
about 130 miles, or rather more than 16 miles per hour. Not only is the
speed slow, but at any station at which the trains stop, there is a
detention for an apparently useless length of time. Occasionally long
stoppages occur also where the lines are single only. In one short
journey of 37 miles between St. Sebastian in Spain and Biarritz, two
hours were lost from this cause by waiting at two stations for trains
from the other end to pass. More powerful locomotives were promised
upon the line between Paris and Marseilles, by which it was expected
the journey of 536 miles might be accomplished in twelve hours; but
they do not yet appear to have been placed upon it.

If, however, the speed be less, the security is greater. We seldom hear
of accidents on the Continental lines.

There are peculiarities about the French trains which render it
necessary to study the _Indicateur_ very carefully, as some trains
take only first–class passengers, and others have no first class; and
although the first train going may be taken, it does not follow that
it will be the first to arrive at the destination. A still further
and annoying peculiarity is, that the railway company by first–class
express trains will not always book to every station on the line at
which they stop. Thus a friend left Mentone for Heidelberg. On arrival
at Marseilles, he found himself compelled to book to Paris to get on.
Thence he went to Strasbourg. Nor would it be possible to leave the
line at Lyons, because the luggage would be registered to Paris.

       *       *       *       *       *

The arrangements of the railways in regard to stations correspond in
some degree with our own; but they have their specialties, into which
I need not enter. The system of _salles–d’attente_ and of registration
of luggage necessitate stations being built on a much larger scale than
our own. Sometimes tickets are collected before arriving at the _gare_,
but more frequently are inconveniently taken at the narrow _sortie_
or _uscita_ from the passengers encumbered with luggage. Outside
the station a host of porters and _commissionaires_ of hotels is
immediately encountered, and beyond this crowd, often largely swelled
by mere idle onlookers, and perhaps by an occasional pickpocket, a long
line of omnibuses and cabs. It is the practice in many, perhaps most
places, for every hotel to keep an omnibus which goes to the station
for every train. Probably there is some jealousy lest cab–drivers or
general omnibus conductors might beguile or be bribed to beguile the
visitors to certain hotels; but whether it be from this cause or from
ostentation, the consequence is that there is waiting for employment
a number of conveyances altogether out of proportion to the number of
passengers requiring conveyance. I have counted at Mentone, waiting
arrival of a train, twenty omnibuses, inclusive of a general one, with
their respective drivers and conductors, and nearly as many cabs;
while the number of passengers leaving the train would not exceed
twenty in all, of whom probably not three would require conveyance. The
maintenance of these omnibuses must be attended with heavy expense to
the hotelkeepers; and although it can by no means pay for the expense,
the charge against the visitor is heavy. The general omnibus, with a
few specially–adapted cabs, would suffice in most places for all the
traffic. It is melancholy to see the almost hourly procession of empty
‘buses, relieved only occasionally by one of them exhibiting in triumph
a solitary occupant, and perhaps bearing five or six large boxes on its
top. In Paris and Toulouse, and some other places, there are little
district or family omnibuses holding four or six persons, unconnected
with any hotel—a far better arrangement.

The charge for a seat in the omnibus is usually, in a town or general
omnibus, without luggage, either 30 or 50 centimes; with luggage, 1
franc. The hotel omnibuses never charge less than 1 franc per person;
and with luggage it is usually 1½ francs. If a party consist of four,
it has thus to pay 6 francs or 5s. for the drive to the hotel, which is
expensive; and it is much cheaper, if there be not heavy luggage, for
which the cabs are seldom adapted, to take a cab. This cannot easily
be done at leaving the hotel, as the guests are expected to employ the
hotel omnibus, which is charged as matter of course in the bill.

We experienced at Rome a curious species of imposition. Not finding a
carriage which would have taken our luggage, we entered the general
omnibus, for which the fare for three persons was, the conductor told
us, 3 francs, and drove to the house where we expected to obtain
quarters. It turned out to be full, and I left the omnibus, crossed the
street on foot and inquired at two hotels, at the second of which I
found accommodation, and the omnibus brought across the luggage. The
conductor demanded 10 francs for what he called the several courses,
and I was glad, with the assistance of the landlord of the hotel,
to arrange for 6 francs; but we were afterwards informed that this
conductor was notorious for such practices.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is sometimes desired to send luggage or boxes by goods trains
_petite vitesse_. I had occasion to do so from Lyons to Mentone. A
declaration was, by aid of the landlord of our hotel, filled up,
containing, among other particulars, the general contents of the boxes
which he sent to the goods office, and they were duly forwarded to
their destination. The time taken in the transit varies and depends
on circumstances—it may be weeks. It is therefore never safe to send
off by goods train luggage which may be immediately wanted. The cost
of carriage is so much per 50 kilogrammes; all below the 50 is charged
the same as 50. For this weight between Lyons and Mentone, I paid 5½
francs. Between Paris and Mentone it would have been 7 to 8 francs;
between Marseilles and Mentone, 3 francs. These figures will give an
approximate idea of the cost. On leaving Mentone, the second season,
I sent a box (under 50 kilogrammes weight) to Glasgow, to care of
Messrs. J. and P. Cameron, railway agents, to go by _petite vitesse_
to Marseilles, and thence by sea to Glasgow, where Messrs. Cameron
passed it through the customs and despatched it to Edinburgh. The
total cost was 6s. 10d. A box I sent from Naples to the care of a
mercantile friend in Liverpool, by whom it was passed and forwarded to
Edinburgh, cost for carriage, Naples to Edinburgh, £1, 2s. 6d. This
amount embraced shipping agents’ charges, and was sent as freight. Had
I sent the box simply as a parcel, it would have cost 5s. 6d. less, but
the shipper would not for the lesser charge undertake responsibility
beyond 40s.; and looking to the thievish character of the Neapolitans,
I thought it safer to pay the additional charge. The difficulty one
feels about sending off things to pass a frontier, is the examination
by the _douaniers_; but I believe that some of the _expediteurs_, to
be found in all towns, undertake for a small fee to get this managed.
I presume they procure the passing through upon the footing of known
or credited respectability of the party sending. I sent to Glasgow and
Liverpool an exact list of the contents of the boxes, for exhibition,
if need were, to the authorities. Some of the bankers—as, for example,
Messrs. Macquay, Hooker, and Co., Florence—undertake to despatch goods
and works of art to any place in Europe.



II.

_CONTINENTAL HOTEL AND PENSION LIFE._


‘THE inn looked so much like a gentleman’s house that we could hardly
believe it was an inn,’ is the observation made by Miss Wordsworth in
her _Recollections of a Tour in Scotland in 1803_, upon arriving at one
which differed signally from others, where they could hardly obtain
even sleeping room, and that of the roughest kind. Books of travels
do indeed afford glimpses into the state of accommodation provided
for travellers in those ‘good old times,’ but they are only glimpses.
People, in recounting their wanderings in their own country, seldom
notice such matters, unless they find them either rather better or
rather worse than the prevailing condition of things to which the force
of habit has reconciled them. In truth, the inns of Great Britain in
the beginning of this century were what would now be reckoned of a
very humble class, and were frequently planted and to be discovered
in localities which would now be considered most undesirable, and
which were doubtless chosen from proximity either to markets or
to the stations of stage–coach departure and arrival, if they did
not themselves create them, and in positions where stabling and a
stable–yard might advantageously and fitly be placed.

The introduction and development of the railway system have effected
such an extraordinary increase in the amount of travelling as to
have, in respect of such public accommodation, produced, or rather
necessitated, a revolutionary change. The old little inn, with its
rubicund jovial hail–fellow–well–met landlord and its horsey adjuncts,
has in the larger towns all but disappeared, or, if left for the
benefit of the antiquary as a relic and specimen of a past age,
receives its chief patronage on market days from the farmers, who find
it convenient to stall their animals in its stables, and enjoy a homely
dinner at its moderate table. Instead of it, whole streets of hotels,
in the best situations, and possessed of all the comforts with which
modern civilisation can furnish them, are built and occupied, and in
busy times are sometimes full to overflowing. The very nomenclature
indicates a superior tone. The house ceases to be an ‘inn,’ and becomes
a ‘hotel.’ The Saracen Heads, the White Harts, and the Georges give
way to national or big swelling names. We are become imperial in the
very appellations we bestow even on houses in which we tarry only for a
night.

       *       *       *       *       *

A similar or even greater reform has been attained in the Continental
towns. The discomforts of the old houses there were no doubt much
greater than they were with ourselves; and, indeed, even now, if we
abandon the tourists’ highway, or run away from the larger towns,
a primitive and perhaps far from agreeable state of matters is
discovered, the fact being that much of the improvement which has taken
place is due to studying the requirements of _les Anglais_. But in the
leading improvements the foreigners have led the van, and we may be
said to follow at a respectful distance.

       *       *       *       *       *

The tendency abroad is, as it is at home, towards building large
establishments in which the rooms are reckoned by the hundred, one
of the hotels in Paris, the Grand (most new hotels abroad now have
‘Grand’ prefixed to some other and more distinctive designation, but
this is ‘The Grand’ _par excellence_), advertising as many as 800
rooms; another (the Louvre), 700,—figures which are beyond anything,
I suppose, in England, unless it be (though perhaps not even there) in
the Midland Railway Hotel, St. Pancras. There is at all times a greater
likelihood of finding accommodation, and such accommodation as may be
desired, in houses of such formidable dimensions; but the visitor’s
importance suffers a shock: he becomes nothing but a number, and as
such is termed by the _employés_ of the hotel, and shouted up and down
the speaking tubes.

       *       *       *       *       *

But a more important result follows from the immense augmentation in
travelling, because the intercourse thus brought about between the
inhabitants of countries originally differing very widely in their
manners and customs has a direct tendency to assimilate not merely
their manners and customs, but their modes of living. Hence the
peculiarities of each gradually, if good, are adopted—if bad, are
lost. We borrow from the foreigners, they borrow from us. Odd ways and
angular corners get rubbed off, and Cæsar and Pompey settle down in
time ‘very much ‘like,’ specially Pompey. Yet, when one leaves the home
country, he happily discerns there are still remaining considerable
differences between life abroad and life in Britain. Hotels on the
Continent are conducted on somewhat different principles from those
which at least formerly were customary in Great Britain; and until the
dead level of uniformity be reached, it may not be uninteresting to
recall some of the differences, and to mention circumstances attendant
upon hotel life abroad, which, to those not very familiar with the
subject, may be noteworthy.

       *       *       *       *       *

In general construction, the more recently erected hotels at home and
abroad do not materially differ. Tardily we are beginning to adopt the
foreign system of numerous and spacious public rooms, and especially
public drawing–rooms, to which ladies can freely resort. But in
one important element of comfort to the weak or weary visitor, the
foreigners are behind ourselves, inasmuch as lifts (_ascenseurs_) do
not seem to be very common; and really in these many–floored hotels
they are needed. The only places where we have seen them have been in
the hotels of Paris and Marseilles, and they were not always in working
order. In addition to the long stairs to be ascended, there are often
in these large hotels lengthy corridors to traverse, so that it is a
journey from the outer door to the bedroom, in some cases requiring a
study of the _locale_, so as to avoid being lost in the labyrinth.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next to comfort, the matter of charges is one of primary consideration
to most travellers, and can scarcely be overlooked in treating of hotel
life. Generally it may be observed, that notwithstanding there has been
abroad, as there has been at home, a very considerable rise in charges
from former scales, the cost of living at hotels abroad is, as it used
to be, still under, or on an average considerably under, the cost for
similar comforts and accommodation at home.

The cost of rooms is regulated primarily by the floor or _étage_ on
which they are situated; and if the visitor desire to be economical,
he ought to ask for rooms upon the higher floors, say the third, or
even, where it exists, the fourth _étage_. First–floor rooms are always
charged high, sometimes exorbitantly so. At Milan we were shown into
bedrooms on the first floor, which, had we taken, would have cost us
about 20 to 25 francs per night per room. In Nice as much as 75 francs,
or £3 per day, have been asked for two rooms on the first floor of a
leading hotel, being equal to a rent per annum of £1095. A friend who
spent the winter at Cannes told me he paid 75 francs per day for the
rooms he had in one of the principal hotels, but probably he had three
or four rooms. In Mentone the highest I have known paid by friends has
been, for a large saloon and a bedroom, both princely rooms, 50 francs,
or about £2 per day, equal to a rent per annum, were they let all the
year round, of £730. These, however, are season places, and such rooms
would remain vacant a considerable portion of the year, and even, a
consequence of the high charge, for great part of the season, as the
hotelkeepers will not lower their price even for a short period.

In Italy it is always desirable, where there is an ability to mount
long stairs, to take rooms as high up as possible, so as to get as far
away as may be from the odours of the street; but the same rule as
regards the charges for rooms prevails. Perhaps in nothing do foreign
hotel charges differ more than in the charges for rooms. They differ
according to the place—that is, whether it be a large or a small
town; according to the hotel, whether it be first class or inferior;
and according to the rooms themselves, their position, size, and
furnishing, and also according as they are single or double bedded.
Abroad, nearly every bedroom large enough is so constructed as to fit
it for use also as a sitting–room or _salon_, in which friends may be
received. Sometimes the beds are placed in a recess or back part of the
room, which may be shut off at will by drawing a curtain. The rooms
abound with mirrors; but unless in houses frequented by the English,
there are for the most part no carpets on the floors, saving a rug at
the bedside, thus and otherwise involving an odd mixture of splendour
and discomfort. However, carpets are beginning to be more frequently
introduced. To those accustomed to the warmth of carpets, getting out
of bed in the morning is, when they are wanting, a chilly operation,
more especially when the floors are constructed, as they sometimes are,
I presume for protection against vermin, of composition.

On an average, I would say that a bedroom on a third floor, with
one bed for a single person, costs from 3 to 5 francs per night; a
double–bedded room, from 5 to 8 francs. On the second floor the price
is advanced a little; but the first floor is always high, varying
according to circumstances. In some fashionable places, such as
Nice and Biarritz, during the season the charge for rooms is, in
first–class hotels, as what I have already said shows, extravagantly
high. The season at Nice is not, like many places, for two or three
months only, but lasts the whole winter—half of the year. It ought not
therefore, one would think, to be so expensive.

But lights have to be paid for separately, and are usually charged at
hotels at the rate of 1 franc per _bougie_ or candle, although I have
seen only 75 centimes charged, and in some out–of–the–way places as
little as half a franc, or even, as at Chateau d’Œx, 30 centimes, upon
which no doubt there was a profit. I was told of the case of a visitor
at an expensive hotel in Nice who was, a good many years ago, charged
16 francs for _bougies_ for a single night. But this mode of plundering
is now so far abandoned, and one has only to be careful that more
candles than he desires be not lighted. The charge for _bougies_, if
remaining only single nights at hotels, becomes heavy; but if several
nights be spent in the house, the candles remain till burned down. It
is said that foreigners carry off their unburnt _bougies_ with them,
and use them at next stoppage, as they carry off also, it is alleged,
the sugar which they have not used, but for which they consider they
have paid. These, however, are petty habits, to which English people
have not yet got accustomed.

The charge for service is almost invariably 1 franc per night per
person. As lights are not charged in England, the united charge for
_bougies_ and service comes, for short periods, to be very much the
same as the charge in England for service alone.

Universally, abroad, the beds are constructed only to hold one person.
This may be, though it is not always, because of the summer’s heat. In
some rare cases the beds are found to be broad enough for two; but it
does not necessarily follow that the charge is in this case as for one
occupant. I have seen charge made for a broad bed as much as if the
room had contained two beds. In parts where mosquitoes exist, the beds
are draped with mosquito curtains.

Each room has its key and corresponding number, and the visitor is
expected, upon leaving his chamber, to lock his door, and hang the key
upon the key–board which is under charge of the _concierge_ at the
entrance to the hotel. In very large hotels, there is a key–board for
each floor, in charge of an attendant. So contrary is this system of
locking doors to the habits of the English, that it is often neglected
by them; so much so, that in hotels exclusively frequented by natives
of our isle, such a thing as locking doors and bringing down keys
would be looked upon as extraordinary. At one of these hotels, I asked
a servant, upon leaving my room after arrival, where the key should
be put, as I had seen no key–board. ‘Oh, just leave it in the door,’
was her reply. Foreigners always lock their doors, whatever may be
the establishment in which they are; and in many places, especially
in the large hotels of Paris, where nobody knows who may be his next
neighbour, it is highly proper and safe to do so. In this connection I
may just observe that somehow or other there are in most places hotels
which are only patronized by the English, and a foreigner is a _rara
avis_. Correspondingly, there are other hotels which they never visit.
There must be some species of intuitive freemasonry which underlies and
conduces to this result.

       *       *       *       *       *

All hotels have a public _salle à manger_, to which both ladies and
gentlemen are expected to go, and nearly all have drawing–rooms or
reading–rooms, or both (_salons_ and _salons–de–lecture_). A lady
travelling by herself can freely go to all these rooms, and one
constantly meets such _dames seules_. No necessity is imposed upon them
to engage a _salon_ or sitting–room. But if desirous of taking them out
of the public rooms, the meals will be sent to the bedrooms, for which
luxury and extra trouble, however, there is a charge made, sometimes as
high, at least for dinner, as 2 francs or 3 francs per person per meal,
though usually only ½ franc.

In addition to placing in the reading–rooms newspapers, which
generally comprise one or more of the leading London journals (received
in many places within twenty–four hours of their publication), there
usually and most properly is in hotels, where visitors come for
lengthened periods, a small collection of books sufficient to beguile
an hour or a wet day.

       *       *       *       *       *

The three chief meals of the day are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

In what I shall call the English hotels, almost everybody maintains
the good old English custom of coming down to the _salle–à–manger_ to
breakfast; but foreigners, consistently with their home practice, take
their meagre breakfast or cup of coffee, scarcely to be designated
breakfast, in their bedroom. English people cannot get reconciled
to the idea of taking meals in a room in which they sleep. It is an
uncomfortable and unsocial custom, essentially bad—keeps the bedrooms
long from being attended to, and imposes much additional labour on the
servants, who are kept flying up and down stairs at all hours of the
morning with breakfast equipage.

The usual charge at all hotels, at least as against Englishmen, for
breakfast proper (tea, coffee, or chocolate, with bread and butter)
is 1½ francs. Occasionally, though very rarely, I have found it only
charged 1 franc, and once, viz. at Toulouse, 2 francs. Eggs are
universally charged 25 centimes (2½d.) each; meats and fish, according
to _carte_, and generally expensive.

       *       *       *       *       *

But foreigners make a more substantial meal a little later on, which
they call _déjeuner à la fourchette_, corresponding somewhat to our
lunch. This is intended to be the real breakfast, and, according to
true Continental fashion, it proceeds at many places at so early an
hour as half–past ten, at others at eleven or twelve o’clock. In
such cases it is found to be a most substantial repast, consisting
of several courses, generally three—meat courses, pudding or tart
course and cheese, and fruit courses; and it is in reality an early
dinner, the whole company in the hotel assembling to enjoy it, unless
individually they otherwise arrange. In the English hotels they have
‘lunch’ usually at one o’clock; but this is of a much less substantial
nature, the visitor having been credited with making _more Anglici_
a good breakfast in the morning. The charge for _déjeuner_ or lunch
differs according to the hotel, but is usually about 3 francs.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _table–d’hôte_ dinner is a regular Continental institution, which
it would be well were it made the rule at home. Meaning literally
dinner at the table of the host, I presume that at one time, and before
the establishment of great hotels, the host regularly presided. This,
however, is now rarely seen, although I have sat down to dine at a
table where he took his place. Rising as each course arrived, and
putting on an apron, he would with dexterous rapidity carve what was
brought in, then, putting off his apron, would sit down again and take
part with the guests.

Each hotel has its fixed hour for this dinner, varying in time from
six to seven o’clock. I have also seen a special _table–d’hôte_ dinner
at eight o’clock, to suit those arriving by late trains. In places
frequented by Germans, such as Interlachen, they have two dinner
hours—one at two o’clock, for the Germans chiefly; and the other in the
evening, to suit those who prefer dining at a later hour. The hotel
people are frequently disturbed and put about by visitors, usually
English people, inexcusably coming tardily to table. The charge for
_table–d’hôte_ dinner varies a good deal at different places, 4 to 5
francs being about the average rate, though occasionally it is less. In
Paris some of the large hotels charge 6 francs—wine, however, included,
as is customary in Paris.

The dinner, which is served _à la Russe_, consists of many courses, and
is not, generally speaking, of the substantial character of an English
home dinner. The routine is everywhere the same, and consists of the
following courses, which the waiters present at the division assigned
to each quietly at sound of finger bell:—(1) Potage or soup; (2) Fish,
when it can be had, otherwise a substitute; (3) Entrées; (4) Vegetables
by themselves, such as cauliflower, French beans or peas; (5) Poultry
or game, or otherwise roast beef or roast mutton, accompanied
invariably by salad or lettuce, and water–cresses; (6) Pudding or tart;
(7) Fruits; (8) Sweet biscuits. In some of the grander places there is
a course of ice–cream, and in other hotels ice–creams take the place
of pudding on Sundays, or sometimes on both Sundays and Thursdays.[8]
Such is the invariable routine, the only variety being in the specific
description of the articles in each course. The great want in these
dinners is of a good supply of vegetables; bread, not so wholesome,
being supplied at discretion. It would be better if some of the viands
were dispensed with, and more vegetables given. Such a thing as a good
dry potato, what they call _au naturel_, is hardly known. Potatoes are
served up greased in every conceivable way, or, if presented dry or in
their skins, they are accompanied by a separate plate of butter. One
course often excites remark by English visitors. It is where the game
course consists of small birds, especially thrushes. These afford a
miserable bite apiece, and, for a party of 40 or 50, as many birds fall
to be sacrificed, the rule of the table being that every guest is, or
has the opportunity of being, served alike. At Cannes, at one of the
hotels (season 1876–77), a round robin was subscribed by the English
of the party, protesting against such use of thrushes—I do not know
with what effect. They were to be sometimes seen hanging in bunches at
the poulterers’ doors. It seems a cruel use of such song–birds, which
are fed upon grapes to fatten them for the table; yet all the grapes
they could swallow, even though in quantity enough to satisfy the grape
cure, would never make them more than a miserable picking.

       *       *       *       *       *

The quantities of eggs, fowl, and game which are needed to supply so
many tables must be enormous; and as one sees very few live poultry
anywhere, it has occasioned me surprise to think how they can be
procured. The only feasible explanation is that the country is
ransacked far and near for food to supply the luxurious tables of the
hotels, and the wants of town populations. In a book published in 1857
by Dr. Frederick Johnson,[9] it is stated with regard to Paris alone—

‘That the great Metropolitan maw occupies 712 bakers, and daily
consumes 479,015 loaves and rolls (we abandon verbal computation in
despair), and annually 6,849,449 poultry, 1,329,964 larks, 26,000 kids,
9,937,430 kilos of fish (the kilo being 2–1/5 lbs. English), 5,006,770
kilos of confectionery, 150,223,006 kilos of pears; that yearly each
Parisian swallows 69 oysters, 165 eggs, 137 quarts of wine, and 14
quarts of beer among his other luxuries; and that among them, in their
little enjoyments, they gossip over 3,000,000 kilos of coffee, 350,000
kilos of chicory, 2,000,000 lbs. of chocolate, and 40,000 kilos of tea,
assisted by 109,221,086 quarts of milk. Teetotallers may be alarmed
for the public sobriety when they learn that, besides the wines and
brandies, our Parisian pleasure–seekers dispose of 1,267,230 quarts of
liqueurs, to say nothing of 350,000 kilos of brandied bonbons, and that
they cool the consequences with 500,000 quarts of ice.’

If such be the consumption of Paris, and this is more than twenty
years ago, what must that be of all France, to say nothing of other
Continental countries? Our box of figure–counters would soon be
exhausted in vain attempts at the calculation. We should have to borrow
largely from the astronomers.

       *       *       *       *       *

The guests are, of course, expected to help themselves to only a small
portion of each course. We once (in 1862) saw an Englishman in Paris,
unacquainted with the customs either of France or of good society,
appropriate to himself at one round nearly all that was in the dish,
and we never could pass that untutored savage without thinking of
the plateful of coarse beef which he had doomed himself to eat. But
most Germans, Dutch and Spanish people feed very largely, and make no
scruple as a practice to take double supplies, and the largest and
best pieces of everything which comes round, leaving those who come
after them wofully scant.[10] The waiters are well acquainted with this
habit, and pander to it, possibly in hope of fees. At Biarritz, where
we experienced a singular practice of the waiter doling out portions
to the visitors (on the footing, perhaps, that some of them could not
be trusted to leave even a wreck behind), they, as matter of course,
placed upon the plates of the Spaniards of the company large quantities
of each course, while when they came to ourselves we received often
such small portions that we would occasionally complain and get more.

       *       *       *       *       *

At many places in France and elsewhere, wine is included in the charge
for dinner. In this case it is the _vin ordinaire_ of the place, and
is generally good if fresh; but as the practice is to put down a carafe
to each two persons, much of it is often left. I have sometimes found
the wine sour, evidently arising from having been kept from day to
day, adding only what was necessary to replenish the carafes. The _vin
ordinaire_ costs the hotelkeeper very little, although he would charge
from 1 franc to 2 francs per bottle for it if ordered. Everybody is
expected to take wine, even children; and where wine is not included
and set down, the waiter goes round, not asking whether you wish
wine, but, ‘What wine will you take?’ and you have to select from the
_carte_. I have been much surprised at the great differences in the
price of wine at different places. The same kind of wine is charged
at one place, it may be three, even four times as much as at another;
and in general the price rises, and rises far out of reason, according
to the distance from which the wine is supposed to come. Many lay it
down as a rule to take the wine of the district in which they for the
time being are; and it can, at all events, be had good of its kind and
cheap, costing, some kinds, from 1 franc to 2 francs per bottle. This,
which in the locality is called _vin ordinaire_, elsewhere becomes a
high–priced wine. A fair quality of wine can in general be had at about
3 francs or 2s. 6d. per bottle, although it is observable that the
bottles are so made as evidently to be incapable of containing a quart.
If they be not small in size, they are sure deceptively to have a large
hollow lump of glass in the bottom. Wine, with the exception of the
better descriptions, is never drunk pure, but is poured into a tumbler
and mixed with water, about half of each.

       *       *       *       *       *

When dinner, lasting about an hour, is over, everybody is expected to
rise and leave the room. At one hotel the waiters compelled retreat by
opening all the windows. They have to clear the table and wash up, and
are naturally anxious to have the room to themselves. Besides, in many
places, the servants’ supper takes place at ring of bell immediately
after dinner, and no doubt the waiters are anxious to join. Their
dinner bell in like manner rings after lunch. Visitors are seldom aware
of these internal arrangements, or alive to them if they be.

If one does not dine at _table d’hôte_, to dine _à la carte_, by
selecting out of a list, is costly, and should if possible be avoided.
When arriving too late for _table d’hôte_, we have found in some places
that we could order a dinner for which the same regular charge was
made as at _table d’hôte_, although perhaps this might not be done for
a single visitor. At other places the better course, particularly in
Italy, is to order a dinner at a given figure, leaving the hotel to
supply what they choose. One is certain by doing so to be better off.

       *       *       *       *       *

At table, various Continental practices may be noticed, and among
others a very singular custom which the German gentlemen have of
tucking their napkins under their chins, and spreading them over the
breast like a row of babies with their bibs on. I never could look at a
German so arrayed without thinking of the minister who,

‘Being wi’ the palsy tribbled, In liftin’ spoonfu’s aften dribbled;
Sae, to prevent the draps o’ broth, Prinn’d to his breast the
tablecloth.’

Some explanation of this ludicrous practice is perhaps to be found in
the painful habit which the generality of Germans have—occasionally
ladies as well as men—of eating with their knives. English people
cannot witness this fearful and wonderful operation without a nervous
dread of the result. But there is this to be said for the Germans, that
although some of their customs be peculiar, and not to be copied, they
are great linguists, and enter agreeably in English into conversation;
and I only mention such little foibles, that they may ‘see themselves
as others see them.’ In many places—Switzerland particularly—there
is put down upon the table here and there a case of what turns out to
be toothpicks. One would think that those who choose to injure their
teeth by means of such instruments and perform an odious cleansing,
would prefer to keep their private pick, as much as their private
tooth–brush, and use it in their private room.

We found the Dutch people ceremoniously polite. They never sat down
and never rose from the table, never entered a room and never left it,
without bowing to all round. It always kept us in a fidget lest they
should not receive like courtesy; but it is a very pleasant trait of
character in a people whom we found to be not merely externally polite,
but kind and cordial at heart.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the hotels, unless they be what I have called English hotels, one
usually meets with people of all countries. In one hotel in France,
I was informed we had representatives of eight different nations,
counting English, Scotch, and Irish as one. It has struck me, however,
that although the French language is so generally spoken, the French
themselves, while found travelling in every part of their own land, are
very seldom seen in other countries. I was on one occasion sitting next
a bright Parisian young lady, and rather wickedly, I fear, was exalting
Edinburgh so as to suggest its taking the palm from Paris. She was
astonished, and having asked her when she was coming to see Edinburgh,
she replied very decidedly, though in the very bewitching way in which
the French girls speak, ‘Jamais, ne–verre,’ which honestly meant
there was no probability she would, although the emphasis no doubt
was intended as a delicate rebuke to the heretical presumption of my
thought. _La belle France_ is _tout le monde_ to Frenchmen; nor do they
get much encouragement to cross the English Channel, for I have noticed
that they are, as a rule, most unhappy sailors.

One meets with all peoples and tongues and sorts at the dinner table.
Now, much of comfort at that interesting time depends upon who sit next
you. Dining at a long table with a large company is never so genial as
dining round a smaller table in a party of six or eight. Intercourse
is almost limited to those on the right and left, unless you and those
opposite have strong voices and be both remarkably socially inclined.
This, bad enough at home, is intensified abroad, not merely among
strangers, but strangers who are foreigners, with whose language you
may not be particularly acquainted. Everything, then, turns on the
question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ and in this respect one is all but
entirely at the mercy of the waiters, who have not the grimmest idea
of social assortment; and it may be that you are for weeks together
placed next to those with whom you have no _rapport_ or fellow–feeling
or congeniality of tastes—nay, with whom you may be unable to exchange
a word. When it is otherwise, and people are social, intelligent, well
read, and without necessarily being clever are cheerful, the dinner
hour becomes a pleasant episode of the day.

But it is often otherwise. It is bad enough to get placed beside
a foreigner whose language, perhaps, you can read, but whose oral
pronunciation is perfectly unintelligible; or beside a very stout
and important lady whose ideas, if she have any, run on subjects
with which you have no possible sympathy—who is too ponderous, or
whose composite capital, perhaps stuck tenderly on with pins, is—it
may, from the steadiness of her carriage, be supposed—considered by
her too fragile to bear the shaking and jolting of a joke—or really,
to confess the truth, one whom, it may possibly be, you cannot be
bothered to entertain; or beside a young lady who speaks so low and
so timidly, that in the din of dinner it is literally impossible to
hear what she says. Nor is it less distressing to be placed beside a
very deaf person who not only does not catch what you say, but, as
usual with deaf people, speaks indistinctly. Few have not had such an
experience as this. You are seated beside what appears to you to be a
very amiable, comfortable, benign old lady. The beverage before you is
in a condition which it would not be safe to swallow for a little. You
are both resting on your oars, or rather on your spoons. The moment
is favourable for an opening speech. The subject you select is one of
personal and common interest. The observation you hazard is such as
would in no event occasion a division bell to ring. Quietly you say,
‘The soup is hot.’ She inclines her face as if she had just heard you
were talking in her direction. ‘The soup is hot.’ An inquiring glance
is directed to you. Again you repeat rather louder, ‘The soup is hot.’
‘Sir,’ she replies. In an alto and rather excited pitch you proclaim,
‘The soup is hot.’ By this time everybody has been turning a listening
ear. ‘Beg your pardon, sir; but I am rather deaf.’ ‘Madam’ (in an
altissimo and crescendo style), ‘The soup _is_ HOT.’ ‘Yes,’ she blandly
replies, ‘the room is very hot.’ You are for ever and for ever shut up,
and retire from the struggle hot enough yourself.

But sometimes the wet blanket comes in another form. I was at one place
agreeably set on several occasions beside a lively young German lady,
who spoke English fluently. At our first interview I asked, ‘What was
their national dish? was it _Sauer–kraut_?’ ‘No, it was larks.’ ‘Oh,
you barbarians,’ I replied; ‘do you eat canaries and parrots?’ at which
the fair damsel was much shocked. ‘What’s that?’ obviously whispers
the heavy German next her on her other side, and this and every other
like passage of nonsense had to be translated word for word into this
intensely philomathic alien, but withal kindly guide, philosopher, and
friend of my young neighbour.

I was for a considerable time at another place seated next a most
intelligent member of the French bar, whose bad health unfortunately
added to a natural taciturnity. He could speak English, and liked to do
so. We formed ourselves into a mutual instruction society—I to correct
his good English, and he to correct my bad French. But as he preferred
English conversation, and I was too lazy to bore him with my French,
the educational advantages on my side were reduced to the _minimum
visible_. However, we enjoyed to some extent rational conversation
on subjects of interest, imparting information to each other, and
discussing where we differed. Here was ‘the feast of reason.’ But,
though my friend could enjoy all that creates a laugh, ‘the flow of
soul’ would not have produced a deluge, or even turned a mill–wheel of
moderate dimensions. There is nothing so difficult as to get merry with
those who speak another language, into which everything has mentally
and slowly to be translated, and the flashes of merriment often will
neither brook translation nor abide deliberative meditation. The ball
must be kept up. Any efforts in that direction were therefore of a
ponderous kind. Sometimes I would, with all due and becoming gravity,
put a case to him in French law. ‘If,’ for example, I would say to
him; ‘if a Frenchman were to die, leaving an estate as large as this
room (a tolerably big one), and twelve children?’ ‘Oh, but,’ he would
interpose, smiling, ‘we have no estates so small,’ and perhaps he might
have added, ‘No families so large.’

From him I was shifted for a time to the agreeable society of a
blooming Swedish lady, who could speak no language but her own, and
who was uncommonly ready to imagine others were laughing at her, and
accordingly to take offence. In this fix, to make the best of it, I
returned to school to remedy the neglects of early life, and being a
docile and apparently a reverent pupil, I advanced with such rapid
strides to proficiency in the Swedish tongue, that in not many days I
learnt that in that hitherto supposed outlandish language _chrystal_ is
‘chrystal’ and _knife_ is ‘knife;’ and had my studies been prolonged,
I doubt not that I should in time have come to know that the honest
Swedish people do call a spade a spade.

This interesting pursuit of knowledge under difficulties was, however,
brought to an abrupt close by my being torn away and transferred to
the company of an Irish young lady, from whom I speedily elicited that
she came from the neighbourhood of Kilkenny. This _was_ irresistible.
‘Have you seen the tails of the two cats?’ ‘Oh, yes’ (with a merry
twinkle); ‘they are in the Kilkenny Museum.’ This museum may, like
Aladdin’s palace, have been built up in a night; but ere twenty–four
hours had elapsed, it was stocked from floor to ceiling with such
marvellous rarities as by no possibility had been ever either dreamt of
in philosophy, or, what is more, conceived in the fertile brain of the
great Barnum.

In season places, such shiftings about are few and far between; but in
touring localities, during the travelling season, when you are more
or less frequently changing your own quarters, and all around are
changing almost daily too, one is shuffled about like a card, and more
vicissitudes of association are experienced than befell the noted Gil
Blas of Santillane in the course of his eventful life.

       *       *       *       *       *

The rule of the hotels seems to be that the latest comers take the
bottom of the table, and move up according as those before them leave.
At the same time this rule was frequently infringed, and in some places
we had always to ask where to sit. Of course all meet on a footing
of equality, and it is customary for those of title—especially for
foreign titled persons, unless of the highest rank—to dine with the
other visitors. On one occasion, at a small party of ten or twelve,
an old gentleman appeared, to whom the ladies in the _salon_ had, on
his entrance, bowed profoundly. We afterwards learned from one of them
he was a distinguished foreign prince. An English marchioness or an
English duke will occasionally appear at table, but I fancy English
noblemen rarely condescend to do so. We were, however, often finding
that at the table with us were foreign persons of rank of all grades,
and the foreigners of title with whom we became at all acquainted were
always very friendly and unassuming. But generally in travelling we
could not tell who were our neighbours. It was for the most part from
the lists of visitors that the names of those in the hotel could be
discovered, and occasionally these have been of royal rank. In this
case they were necessarily notable, and although they did not come to
the public table, yet they were seen in the gardens; and sometimes they
travelled with large retinues, and could not escape observation. At
Interlachen, General Grant and his wife came to the Jungfrau Hotel, at
which we were. He was on the night of his arrival serenaded by a brass
band, which played till near midnight, the musicians no doubt regarding
the sweet and melodious sounds of trombones and ophicleides atoned for
any disturbance of the slumber of the visitors, or even of the probably
wearied General himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

All the Continental hotels are, with few exceptions, prepared to take
visitors upon pension—that is, on board. But there are establishments
which, _par excellence_, are termed pensions. The line of demarcation
is very slender, and some hotels are truly pensions, while some
pensions are truly hotels. The pension strict, however, is a less
grand house than the hotel. It is for the most part a large private
house, without, though not always without, the parade of _concierge_
and other distinctive marks of an hotel. As a rule, to which there
are exceptions, it is more homely, there is less style in the method
of conducting, less appearance about the rooms, and smaller attention
paid to service and sanitary arrangements. On the other hand, the
company is smaller, and as the people come to remain for periods of
time, they fraternize better, and there is a good deal more of the home
feeling in a pension than ever finds its way into any hotel. The better
class of pensions profess to require an introduction, but it does not
necessarily follow that the company is more select; on the contrary,
as they are usually rather less expensive than hotels, the company is
not unfrequently of a mixed description, and consequently the name
pension is, to some extent, in disfavour with those English people who
can afford to pay hotel charges, and prefer more style.

At hotels, the rule, sometimes relaxed for a party, is that people are
not taken on pension under a week. A similar rule prevails in pensions
proper, and indeed during pension season it is usually necessary to
secure quarters in pensions proper, and even in hotels, by writing for
rooms some considerable time previously.

       *       *       *       *       *

The charge for pension varies very greatly, according to the place, to
the situation of the rooms, and to the season.

In former days the pension charge was extremely moderate. One old
gentleman told me that in his younger days the charge in Switzerland,
at least, was 3 francs per day for everything; but this was a charge
as against foreigners only, and he, then a young Englishman, succeeded
in getting off upon this low rate by being taken for a German, he
being with a party of Germans. Even till more recent years, one would
hear of 5 francs per day being a normal charge. These good old times
have not wholly disappeared, for to this day, in some outlying places
in Switzerland, pension at a very low rate can be procured. We spent
eight days at the Hotel Berthod, Chateau d’Œx, which lies up among the
mountains, a long day’s journey from Interlachen, _en route_ for Aigle;
and the charge was only 5 francs per day, with 20 centimes for service,
besides _bougies_, which were charged only 30 centimes each. This was
upon the second floor, which we preferred, as less noisy, to that
below at 6 francs. The charge on the third floor was, I believe, even
a shade less. The hotel was a wooden house of large size, and could
accommodate at least eighty guests, and in the season was generally
full, while the company was so far select, being out of the beaten
track of tourists. The accommodation was necessarily somewhat rough,
but every attention was paid, as far as practicable, to the comfort
of the visitors. Considering that its season lasts for scarcely three
months in the year, one would be surprised to think it possible it
could pay; but it seems that the landlord’s brother had formerly kept
the establishment, and had retired with a competence. Everything,
however, with one exception, was cheap at Chateau d’Œx, which boasts of
several establishments of the same kind, one of them (though two miles
off), ‘Rosinière,’ the largest chalet in Switzerland, and picturesquely
situated in a secluded spot, dating back to 1754.

Pension includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedroom, and service,
sometimes also lights. Occasionally service is made a separate charge,
and is stated at from ½ franc to 1 franc per day, according to place.

In many good hotels in Switzerland and elsewhere, pension can be had
at 8 francs per day. At Lugano the charge, I noticed, during summer
(1st April to 31st October), is 8 to 11 francs; during winter, 6 francs
to 7 francs 50 centimes. Both at Interlachen and Montreux, we paid
at the rate of 8 francs, and had excellent quarters in first–class
hotels. With other rooms supposed to be better, the charge would have
been 10 francs per day. But in the height of the Interlachen season,
the hotels will not readily begin to take people _en pension_. At
Chamounix we were told, on a former tour in the month of August, that
the hotels there would not take _en pension_ after 15th July. By that
time English tourists begin to arrive in great shoals, and often
find much difficulty in getting quarters. When this takes place, the
applications are either refused, or the visitors are accommodated in
dependencies, which are either houses or chalets attached to the hotel,
or in some cases simply houses in the villages in which the natives can
spare a room, and therefore not always desirable. Pension in Italy and
France is charged at a little higher rate than in Switzerland. We found
that, upon an average, 10 or 12 francs a day was the charge in these
countries; but according to the accommodation, it would either rise
above or fall below this rate, varying from 8 to 15 or 16 francs per
day. As the charge of 8 francs, which seldom secures any but a north
room, covers everything pension includes, there must be a profit out
of it, and all above that amount ought to be clear extra gain. Eight
francs per day amounts to £116 per annum, 15 francs per day to £219—a
good rate of board.

In season places great contrast often exists between the charges for
pension during the season and after it is over. Thus at Biarritz,
during the winter months, pension might have been had at 7 francs per
diem, but during the two months of summer season (August and September,
on to 15th October) the charges at the principal hotels are high. For
rooms alone the charge may be from 20 to 25 francs on the second floor,
and from 12 to 14 francs per day on the third floor, the first floor
being much more costly. However, we found at the Hotel de Paris, on
18th September, towards the close of the season, which may have made
a difference, fairly comfortable rooms on the first floor, in a good
situation, at a moderate rate. Sometimes with first–floor rooms the
usual charges for living are made separately or in addition to the
charge for rooms.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fire in the private rooms is always an extra. Nowhere is coal burnt,
at least that we have seen, unless in the northern parts of France.
The visitor, when he wishes fire, is supplied with a basket of wood,
the size and the quality of which vary very much, as do the prices. It
consists of logs sawn into pieces about 12 to 18 inches long, and split
up, and the kind of wood necessarily varies with the locality. In the
olive–growing countries it is olive wood, which burns slowly. At Pau it
is the short oak grown in the woods in the vicinity. In other places
it is pine wood, which burns rapidly. At Lyons we paid 2 francs for a
small pannier of soft wood, which lasted two nights. At Mentone a large
pannier of olive wood, probably mixed with pine, cost 2 francs 20
centimes, and lasted much longer. If we had no fire during the day, and
we found day fires very rarely necessary in Mentone, a pannier would
last us nearly a week for one fire per evening, lit after dinner. At
Spezzia, where the wood burnt very fast, the pannier was charged 3·50
francs. At Pisa the charge was 3 francs; and at Rome, had we found it
needful, we should have been charged at the hotel, for each room, 5
francs for a pannier which would not have lasted more than two nights.
Indeed, at Rome the expense of wood is so serious an extra charge, that
I have heard of a gentleman with a large and perhaps extravagant family
feeling obliged to curtail his visit on that account.

The wood is laid across two iron dogs, and emits, especially in the
case of olive wood, good heat. The ashes of former fires are always
left lying between the dogs, and greatly help to keep the fire in. The
ashes smoulder away for a long time, and bellows, always hung by the
fireside, will bring them to a glow long after they are apparently dead.

The dogs are hardly suitable for coals, but might not a good trade in
coals with the Continent be brought about? I suppose the abundance
of wood renders it unnecessary. But a great deal may result from the
force of habit, or, not improbably, there may be a prohibitory duty
preventing the people from using coal.

       *       *       *       *       *

One very annoying item of extra expense consists in the fees with
which servants expect to be tipped at leaving. Many persons refuse to
give anything, on the strictly theoretically–correct ground that they
have already paid for service in the bills. Such persons, at least if
English people, seem to be looked upon as shabby. On the other hand,
there are those, principally English, who are very lavish with their
largess, and really do their successors much harm, leading the servants
to be on the outlook for handsome fees. In Italy the evil is, I think,
most felt. In France, however, it is bad enough. If one be but a
single night at a hotel, chamber–maid, waiters, _concierge_, porters,
conductors, and even drivers of omnibuses—all expect donations, and
stand hovering about (perhaps perform useless little services), that
they may not be lost sight of. Nor is the evil less at pensions,
where I have had more than once to fee no less than seven attendants,
being the whole menial establishment. It becomes a very heavy tax,
amounting to no small sum at the end of a long tour, as one does not
like to be shabby, or thought so. At pensions and hotels at Christmas
time, every servant with whom the visitor has had to do expects his
or her five–franc piece at the least; and this really one does not at
that festive season so much grudge, if dwelling in the house for the
winter, although the feeing process has to be repeated at leaving, and
intermediately for any supposed extra services. I must say, however,
that the only suggestion of a donation at Christmas came from the
_portier_ of our hotel at Mentone, who addressed a lithographed card to
each visitor on the 1st of January: ‘Le portier de l’Hotel vous souhait
une bonne et heureuse année.’ And no doubt a similar lithographed card
was used with effect by all the porters of the place, and made the
ignorant or unthinking aware of what they were expected to do.

The only person outside the establishment who suggested a benefaction
by the enclosure of a card was the postman, who, no doubt, was
cheerfully boxed by every visitor.

I suppose that complaints of this practice of tipping or expecting
fees reached the ears of the landlords, who, honest men, no doubt
had found their advantage in it; for, in the summer of 1877, nine of
the principal hotels in Switzerland announced to the public that,
with a view to putting a stop to it, they should thenceforth make a
charge which would cover everything, so that visitors should not be
annoyed longer in this way. But the system which they did adopt was an
erroneous one, and was only calculated to place an additional burden
on their guests—in other words, they made an extra charge for their
rooms; so that the occupants had to pay nightly, in some cases, perhaps
as much as they would have paid once for all as gratuity, while in many
cases gratuities would continue to be given. We came upon one of these
hotels, the Schweizerhoff in Lucerne. Here, in conformity with the new
rule, one charge was made for rooms per night, inclusive of attendance
and lights, and a bill was stuck up in the rooms containing a notice in
the following terms:—

‘_Avis. Messieurs les étrangers sont priés de ne plus donner de pour
boires aux employés de l’Hotel. Toute le service dans l’intérieur
de l’Hotel ainsi que l’éclairage est compris dans le prix de
l’appartement._’

Such a notice was only valuable if it had borne that the servants
were _expressly prohibited_, upon pain of dismissal, from taking any
gratuity; but while it contained nothing but what was always previously
implied in the charge for service, and left the charge for porterage
of luggage as performed _extérieur_ (a service which has always been
recompensed by a gratuity, and which the porter here duly accepted),
the very form of the notice, ‘Pray, don’t,’ rather suggests the idea
that you ought to give. The evil is really so great that a more
efficient and beneficial method ought to be taken by the hotels.

In Italy I have sometimes been asked for a gratuity by a messenger from
a shop on delivering a purchase made.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hotel bills are usually rendered and paid once a week. At Bellagio an
admirable system was in use. Bills were rendered every day, although
payment was not expected oftener than once a week. In this way any
mistake could at once be rectified; and we did find occasionally—as
every one must, especially in the touring season, when the sojourners
are daily shifting—rectification to be necessary. It would be much in
the interest of the landlords to make the practice universal, because
where any entry has been charged to the wrong person, the person to
whom it ought to have been charged may have left before discovery
has been made. The waiters write, sign, and deliver to the clerk a
slip containing every order, as the means of making up the books, and
sometimes, perhaps, from not wishing to give offence by asking, put
by mistake the wrong name to the order. In London a better system is,
where the guest is requested to write the order himself, heading the
memorandum with his name and number. In some—I am bound to say, only a
few—cases in France, the landlord regularly charges his guests with the
penny Government receipt stamp on discharging the bill. Honestly, this
ought to be borne by himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Messrs. Cook and Gaze both issue hotel coupons. These are made up
as books of three per day. One portion covers bedroom, lights, and
service for one person; but it bears that porterage is not included,
and a charge for conveying luggage to and from the bedroom to the door
is then (I think erroneously) occasionally made in the bill, though
the doing so does not exempt from the customary fee expected by the
porters. Another portion covers plain tea or breakfast; and a third,
dinner at _table d’hôte_, with or without wine, according to the
usual practice of the hotel. Cook’s tickets cost 8s., Gaze’s cost 8s.
6d., but the latter entitle the holder to eggs or meat at breakfast.
The hotels of both firms are for the most part unobjectionable,
but the question is whether the coupons are or are not of any real
advantage. As to this, people who have not used them are generally
much puzzled. I had never, in travelling abroad, tried them before,
but thought, upon entering Italy, where it is reputed (contrary to my
subsequent experience) that one requires to be upon his guard against
hotel imposition, I might make experiment to a limited extent, and
accordingly purchased enough at Nice to last us about fourteen days.

On an average, I believe it will be found that, taking bedroom
accommodation at the lower rates, or as for the upper _étages_, the
price of the coupons is very much the same as the hotel charges
would come to. In some hotels, in the smaller places, the charges may
occasionally come to a trifle less, especially if there be a party; in
others, in the larger towns, the hotel charges will certainly exceed
it. In a pecuniary point of view, therefore, and supposing people are
constantly on the wing, they will find that upon the whole the saving
is not large, but that, in any view, there is a clear advantage in
using them in large and expensive towns such as Marseilles and Nice.

However, if it be intended to stay long enough in a hotel to warrant
going upon pension, it can frequently be arranged to obtain pension at
the same rate as is payable for the coupons, the effect of which is
that lunch is thrown into the bargain, saving 3 francs per day.

In Italy also the advantage of exchange is lost, the coupons being only
purchasable with English money.

The coupons save a little trouble and shorten the bills. To those
unable to speak a foreign tongue, they are additionally valuable. On
the other hand, I fear the traveller is a good deal at the mercy of the
landlord in regard to rooms. It is quite in his power to say he has no
better. But if the house be not full, there is a possibility of being
assigned the best rooms, and so obtaining accommodation for which,
without coupons, a high charge would be made.

My limited experience gave me rather a dislike for them, and led me to
feel I was more independent, and had a chance of being better served,
by paying my way in the usual manner. At a town in Italy, I mentioned
on arrival, as is required, that I had Cook’s coupons and intended
to use them. When the bill at leaving was rendered, I pointed out
that it had not been stated as on this footing. It turned out that
for the two nights we stayed at the house, the hotel charges (we were
most comfortable in every respect) came to 6 francs 75 centimes less
for our party than the cost of the coupons. Yet the landlady looked
black when I pointed out the mistake, and seemed, while I was actually
paying more, as if she thought me imposing on her. I felt so annoyed
that I would never use them again in Italy. Months afterwards, when
in a town in Switzerland, I resolved to employ what remained, and
in driving up to the hotel on Cook’s list, told the landlord so. I
noticed he did not seem to relish the intimation, and when we visited
the rooms allotted to us, we found them dismal chambers looking into
the courtyard. I rebelled, and we got cheerful and better rooms on
the floor above. This showed that we could not always quite rely upon
getting the best accommodation possible, notwithstanding the coupons
in this instance came to more than we could have pensioned for at the
hotel, according to its own printed tariff. I afterwards learnt that
the reason of dislike is, that the London house has a small commission
(which is quite reasonable, and perhaps is not much objected to),
and that settlements with the hotelkeepers do not take place for, it
may be, some months after the bills are incurred, which may produce
considerable inconvenience to some hotelkeepers. Were it possible to
arrange for more frequent, say monthly settlements, perhaps all cause
of dissatisfaction would be obviated, for otherwise the system must be
most advantageous to the hotels which are on the London lists.

I must, however, put against these two instances, which may be very
exceptional, the fact that I had used the coupons previously at two
other hotels in Italy, and subsequently at another in Switzerland, and
another in France, and met with every civility and attention, while
they at once gave us excellent accommodation. Friends also who have
frequently taken advantage of them, have told me that they preferred
them, and would always in travelling avail themselves of the system.

       *       *       *       *       *

To vary the monotony of the pension life, or from the inherent idea
that gaiety is essential to existence, the hotel and pension keepers
get up, from time to time, little entertainments in the _salons_. Of
these, a dance is the most frequent; but in place of a quiet dance
in the drawing–room to music on the piano by one of the guests, it
seems to be considered essential to hire a band of musicians. Perhaps
this practice is more in accordance with the French love of noise and
display; but it both occasions unnecessary expense, and has less of
the social about it. At other times we have had a conjurer introduced
to exhibit tricks of magic. Manifestly he has not the same facilities
as in a room fitted up for the purpose, but the tricks were sometimes
novel, and interest people, particularly the young. On other occasions
we have had special musical evenings, and at Interlachen a band of
Tyrolese singers every now and then, I think almost weekly, gave
an entertainment at the hotel; and as visitors at Interlachen are
always changing, the audience would for the most part be different.
We have also had little plays by strolling actors, and even on one
occasion a small attempt at operatic performance. Perhaps, of all the
entertainments by professionals, the most novel to us and beautiful was
what we witnessed at Sorrento. We were then lodging at the Tramontano
Hotel, and one evening were informed that we should witness the
Tarantala Dance. Round one of the larger rooms chairs were placed for
the guests (numbering probably over sixty). When all were assembled, of
a sudden two dancers bounded lightly into the room, quickly followed
by other pairs—the men dressed in white, with Roman sashes round
the waist; women in gay bodices and white skirts, all looking clean
and tidy, and very specially got up for the occasion. These young
people, to the number of eight, executed a most lively dance to the
music performed by others on mandolins, all the dancers being armed
with castanets, with which they maintained an incessant click–clack,
keeping time to the music. The dance, perhaps invented and practised
by Terpsichore herself, and which it would require a master of the art
to describe, in general outline somewhat resembled a Scotch reel,
but with what I would call Italian variations. It was sprightly and
graceful, and the bright dresses added much to the effect. There were
several different varieties of the dance, and between the dances we
were favoured with some national melodies. One most comical exhibition
consisted in the leader, who was a barber of the village, fastening a
loose piece of paper behind him, and with this tail floating in the
air, he danced or capered about, keeping time to the music, all the
others, girls as well as men, running after him with lighted tapers,
endeavouring to set this novel tail on fire; but so rapid or rather
jerky were his movements, that the paper would not catch fire from the
lights, and after a long chase, exciting the constant mirth of the
onlookers, he escaped triumphant, and burnt his tail to show it was
inflammable. After this, and as a wind up, one of the musicians—an
Italian, of course—honoured us, flavoured by some peculiar linguistic
embellishments, calculated to evoke an occasional smile, with first
‘Yankee Doodle,’ and afterwards with a still more uncommon version of
‘God save the Queen,’ upon which all the company, with the exception
(hardly commendable) of a few Americans present, rose to their feet,
and a choking feeling of home and of loyalty thrilled through us to
hear our national anthem, so sung by foreigners, and so far, it seemed,
after our wanderings, from our native land. With this the performance
terminated, and the collection began, and was evidently good. For it is
by means of a voluntary collection that these professional exertions
are usually recompensed. On one occasion, a conjurer, having made his
collection in the middle of his performance, brought round the plate a
second time, which was rather too much.

A more objectionable course to obtain remuneration has sometimes been
taken at Mentone, of asking the visitors to buy tickets for a raffle.
Of course, each visitor is expected to take at least one ticket
(costing usually, I think, 2 francs), and some take a good many,
especially when the tickets unsold are set up to a sort of absurd
auction, and people in a spirit of fun keep bidding by small amounts
against each other. Looking to the proximity of Mentone to Monaco, the
origin of the practice may be divined, and it is rather calculated
to foster the spirit of gambling which prevails, especially among
foreigners, although the things raffled for are necessarily worthless
trifles, offering a purely nominal value in exchange for the tickets of
the fortunate prize–holders. I presume it is done because it fetches
more money to the performers, although ostensibly to give the aspect
of not stooping to a collection. But as collections for themselves
are, twice a week at least, made abroad by clergymen of the English
Church by sending round the plate during service, one can little see
why a conjurer should be ashamed or consider it _infra dig._ to receive
payment in the same way.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _entrée_, however, is not always _libre_. On one occasion, at
least, bills were sent round to different other hotels that a _matinée
musicale_ would be held in one of the Mentone Hotels—’_Entrée_, 6
francs _par personne_.’ In these cases visitors from other houses are
expected.

       *       *       *       *       *

The guests themselves at the hotels and pensions frequently devise
amusement for the company. Sometimes it consists in charades, more
or less elaborately conducted, according to circumstances. They
are diverting, and create great excitement among the performers in
anticipation, realization, and retrospect. In some hotels, there is at
one end of a large room a little permanent stage expressly fitted up to
enable charades or plays to be performed.

At other times we have had Shakespeare readings, the different members
of the party having assigned to each, one or more of the characters
of the play; but the difficulty always was, by begging and borrowing,
I won’t say stealing, to procure a sufficient number of copies of the
play, so that each reader might have one. A handy copy of Shakespeare
is one of the books which those who go abroad for the winter may with
advantage take with them.

On another occasion, at Florence, we had a remarkably nice series of
miscellaneous readings by a gentleman of the company. But the most
elaborate performance, at least at a hotel, was one at Chateau d’Œx.
Here some Americans of the party arranged with showy dresses a very
successful performance of the play called ‘Popping the Question.’ It
was capitally acted, and we felt only sorry that the spectators were so
comparatively few, although, to increase the number, the performers had
invited their friends living in neighbouring pensions.

       *       *       *       *       *

As I mention this last affair, it is impossible to omit in this
connection two grand entertainments we had at Mentone, in the beginning
of 1877, of a more public nature. These were two dramatic performances
by amateurs, drawn from among the hotel visitors, the leading spirit
being Captain Hartley, who was himself a highly–finished actor. They
were held in the large room of the _cercle_, or club–house, which has
a regular small stage at the one end, and is capable of accommodating
between 200 and 300 people, and was hired for the occasion. The
performers invited their friends, and so unexpectedly well did
they turn out, that the room on the first occasion was more than
filled—many, indeed, could not get within either sight or hearing. The
performance consisted of two pieces,—the first, ‘A Touch of Nature
makes the Whole World kin,’ and ‘Box and Cox.’ The plays were executed
to admiration. Nothing could have been better than the acting, although
it was painful to think that some of the actors were invalids, and were
evidently straining their powers too much, and I fear hurt themselves
by doing so, and by the labour of getting up their parts and attending
rehearsals. But so successful was the performance, that on 3d February
the amateurs held another _matinée_, on which occasion the ‘Porter’s
Knot’ was acted, which gave an equal amount of satisfaction to all who
could witness it. These entertainments were exclusively at the expense
of the amateurs. In the following season their success induced the
having two more, which met with equal applause.

On occasion of the first performance of all, the _Avenir_ (newspaper)
of Mentone congratulated the fair little town on its waking up from its
torpor in a leading article, in the course of which it said:

‘Nos sincères félicitations aux organisateurs de cette charmante fête.
Est–ce que Menton songerait enfin à s’amuser? Bravo, Messieurs!...
reveillez un peu cette ville que les autres se donnent tant de peine
à endormir. Egayez un peu cette riche colonie étrangère, veritable
fortune pour notre beau pays, il faut bien la choyer, l’amuser, et
surtout faire de sérieux sacrifices, pour la retenir éternellement
sur les bords de cette splendide Méditerranée sous les rayons de ce
bienfaisant soleil, sous nos citronniers en fleurs, sous notre beau
ciel bleu—la nature a tout fait pour eux ... à vous de compléter
l’œuvre, à vous de les distraire: concerts, bals, spectacles. Voilà
l’œuvre que vous devez accomplir. La matinée de lundi est un bien jolie
commencement, continuez!’

Attached to nearly all season places, as well as to others frequented
by visitors, there is a band of music, which during the season plays
in public so many times a day, or so many times a week. In some places
it plays twice or even three times a day. In Switzerland, which is
a great resort of the Germans, the music seems designed to promote
out–of–doors tippling, as the ground about the sheltering pavilion in
which the musicians play is dotted over with chairs and little tables,
at which these foreigners sit and imbibe and listen, or are supposed
to listen, to the strains of the music. Nay, I have been told that the
Germans also order beef–steaks and other solids, although long time
cannot have elapsed since the last meal at the hotels, or it will not
be long till the next meal–time arrives. If one should sit down on a
chair, a waiter or waitress immediately comes forward expecting an
order. I do not recollect having seen this custom prevailing anywhere
in France except at the Gardens in the Champs Elysée in Paris, where
professedly the music is given in connection with and to promote the
drink. In Switzerland one has sometimes to pay for the music in the
shape of a regular daily or weekly tax, which is stated in the hotel
bill is authorized to be levied, and which the visitor is bound to pay,
although he may have been deaf from his birth. We were required to
make such a payment at Ragatz at the Quellenhof Hotel, where the band
played morning and evening. At Interlachen, where we spent nine weeks,
I found it more advisable to pay for the season, and it cost me 20
francs, which was practically a payment by me towards the support of a
German drinking establishment, as I do not think during all the time I
was there I looked into the _Kursaal_ more than four or five times, and
that merely to see if any friend were there. It is unpleasant to those
who cannot drink in season and out of season, or who are not used to
public potation, to go to such places.

       *       *       *       *       *

Not having had personal experience of life abroad in villas or
furnished rooms, I cannot say much upon this subject. At all season
places furnished villas abound, and apartments are to be had, the cost
of which necessarily depends upon the locality and the accommodation.
I see from the _Avenir de Menton_ of 12th December 1877, that one
house–agent advertised to have had then to let sixty–five villas in
Mentone, varying from four apartments, or _pièces_, as the French
term them, up to twenty–four, and ranging in price from 900 francs to
18,000 francs for the season. This list was published after previous
demands had been satisfied. How far those on the list may subsequently
have been taken up, I do not know; but the season was considered to
be a bad one, owing to the general dulness of trade, the continuance
of the Eastern War, and the uncertainty as to the state of matters in
France arising out of the position held by the governing Powers among
themselves. Perhaps something also was due to the fact that a good many
new houses had since last season been built, so that there was an
extra supply. The villas and apartments are all let for the season; the
owners will not let them for a shorter period, because if they were to
do so they would run a great risk of not letting them for the remainder
of the winter. However, in a dull season somewhat less than what is
asked may be taken, and after a house has stood empty for a time it may
be had at a reduction. The season at Mentone for so letting, I believe,
is nominally eight months, but in reality few people occupy the houses
more than five, or at most six months during the winter. During summer
months (from about the end of April) Mentone is deserted.

The cost per room seems to range from 200 francs to nearly 800 francs,
or about (taking five months’ occupation) from 10 to 40 francs per week
for each room. A small family house may be had for about from 4000
or 5000 francs, or from £150 to £200, the tenant obtaining nothing
but the rooms and furnishing. It is necessary for him to engage
servants; and I believe it is indispensable to have French servants
in addition to those the family taking the house may bring with them,
as English servants, not knowing the language, could not be a means
of communication with the natives. These French servants are a source
frequently of great annoyance to their employers. They demand a high
wage, and as they are not employed during the whole year, perhaps there
is some reason for it. A lady at Hyères considered herself particularly
fortunate, as no doubt she was, in getting a French servant at 45
francs per month, or at the rate of nearly £24 per year. The amount
asked, however, is, I believe, usually very much more. But this is a
small matter as compared with other evils; for these servants expect
to be employed to make the purchases for the house, and are, it seems,
greatly chagrined if they learn that this duty will not fall within
their province. The lady of the house may resolve to make her own
purchases: she cannot, however, always do so, and finds that she has
generally to devolve the work on one of the domestics; and hence, from
what I have heard, she often finds that the expense of housekeeping
becomes enormously heavy. This may probably arise from the shopkeepers
charging in excess in order to afford a commission to the servants.
One lady in Mentone, with a family of three young children, who had
two English and two French servants, told me it cost her £16 for a
single week of housekeeping, though it is possible this may have been
an extraordinary week. But this is not all, for the family are exposed,
unless they have very reliable servants, to pillage by pilfering and
otherwise. The same lady had no doubt there were large quantities of
bread and other eatables given away by the servants to their friends,
or disposed of, as she could not possibly account otherwise for the
quantities which were said to be consumed. These pilferings, however,
were not confined to eatables. In _six weeks_, on the house–agent going
over the inventory, he made out a bill for 98 francs for breakages.
This included 30 plates, 3 teapots, and I know not what else beside.
Of course, it was incredible that such an amount of breakage could
have taken place even had Caleb Balderstone been in the house, and in
frequent fry. There were no traces of it; there had been no report
of it; the English servants had never seen it. It was clear that the
articles had been appropriated or given away to friends. Such pilfering
(of which another friend also complained) may not be the rule—possibly
even is the exception; and one friend told me they had most honest
native servants. It is well, however, to know that it is a possibility
to be guarded against. One of the best safeguards is, besides being
very particular as to the character of those engaged, to require them
to sleep in the house. If they do not sleep in the house, for which
there may not be sufficient room, they ought not to be allowed to bring
baskets with them when they come in the morning, to take away when they
leave at night.

One curious expense attendant upon the taking of a villa, is a charge
which was made by a house–agent at Mentone (I do not know if it be
universal) for making out the inventory of furniture. He charged the
tenant 2½ per cent, upon the rent; say, if the rent were £200, £5 for
doing so was charged against the tenant. This ought to be a proper
charge against the landlord exclusively, but no doubt the landlord
suffered a similar charge.

       *       *       *       *       *

For two or three persons, it is upon calculation of the cost much less
expensive, and in every respect more desirable, to take quarters in a
hotel, where, if a servant be brought, the usual charge for pension
for her or him is 5 francs, or at most 6 francs, and occasionally,
though rarely, 4 francs per day. But in the case of a large family, a
villa is less expensive and more convenient, especially if the children
be young, though it may require the family to be vigilant in looking
sharply after their foreign domestics.

       *       *       *       *       *

While these foreign servants are not always trustworthy, I must add
this, that we have found no occasion whatever in France or Switzerland
to complain of dishonesty among any of the domestics in any of the
numerous hotels in which we have been. We have had our things lying
openly about, and have never missed a single article, nor have we heard
of any other person suffering loss in this way.

The observation may not perhaps apply so thoroughly to Italy. So
much is heard of the petty thievery which prevails in that country,
especially in the southern portions of it, that it is by no means
proper to expose oneself more than can be helped to lose in this
manner; and we were more than usually careful, while in Italy, not to
throw temptation in the way. At one house we missed two articles, viz.
two pairs of scissors, and could not but suspect that they had been
appropriated. It is, however, I suppose, rather the railway men and the
professed thieves whom people have most to fear in Italy. One hears
every now and then of boxes being opened during railway transit and
contents taken, although this may be only in the case of luggage sent
by goods train, which in Italy should never be done. The thievery is so
open in Naples and surrounding places, that we dared not leave anything
exposed in a carriage. Nay, a lady told me that a thief had even the
audacity, before her very eyes, to lift a bag out of the carriage in
which she was sitting.



III.

_LOCAL MEANS OF CONVEYANCE._


I HAPPEN to have kept the billet of a Parisian cabman, on which I find
the number is 8973. I believe I have seen _voitures_ in Paris bearing a
number higher than 10,000. In all probability, however, there is not a
licensed carriage to represent each unit of this apparent grand total.
When, after many adventures and a long struggle, old age overtakes the
_voiture_, and a sudden jolt sends it to smash, a pious regard may
preserve the number to its shade; while the new vehicle, its successor,
may just be added on to the tail of the list. But be this as it may,
there is no lack of carriages of all sorts in all Continental towns.

       *       *       *       *       *

Elegant private equipages are to be seen in Paris and other parts of
France. These are often jobbed by English people. At Nice the charge
for a carriage, horses, and man is £30 per month. But Nice is a
notoriously expensive place, and I doubt not that in other towns of
France the charge is greatly less. Dr. Johnson (p. 67) states that
carriages in Pau were to be had, with pair of horses and driver, at £10
to £12 per month. His book, however, was written in 1857, and possibly
the charge since that time has been raised.

But it is among the Italians, I think, that the desire appears more
manifested for a good turn–out. In such large towns as Genoa, Rome,
or Naples, one sees hundreds of beautiful carriages and fine horses.
In fact, it would appear that in Italy every woman aspiring to be
considered a lady must, at whatever sacrifice of other comforts,
drive her carriage and pair with liveried coachman and man–servant.
The Italians seem to consider that it is not _comme il faut_ for a
lady to be seen walking,—for which, indeed, the climate is not much
suited,—and they are rather surprised at observing English ladies going
so much about on their own feet. The public vehicles are also of so
inferior a description, that one can scarcely wonder at a resident lady
being ashamed to be seen in them. I fancy, too, that the expense is
not so great as with ourselves. Men–servants’ wages must certainly be
considerably less, and crops of hay are so abundant, while agricultural
labour is so miserably recompensed that the expense of feeding is, no
doubt, also much less than at home. Moreover, horse flesh would appear
to be greatly cheaper in Italy than with ourselves. At Rome I asked
the driver of the carriage in which we went to Tivoli what might be
the cost of such a pair of horses as he was driving. They were poor
hacks, although they went well. He said about 400 francs, or about £16.
I pointed to a handsome pair of horses standing in a private carriage
upon one of the streets of Rome, and asked him what they would cost. He
said from 1000 to 2000 francs, or from £40 to £80. If this information
can be relied on, horse flesh must be cheap enough in Italy. I am not
sufficiently skilled in the subject to say whether the breeds are equal
to our own, though I doubt it; but they look very handsome animals, and
the Italians are careful to allow their tails to grow so as often even
to sweep the ground; and in this way the natural grace and beauty of
the horse is preserved, while it retains the protection it has received
from nature against the attacks of flies, which are a great source of
torment in some places.

The cart horses in France are sometimes fine, strong–looking beasts,
but are scarcely equal to the more powerful breeds of Britain, although
I think they are made to draw heavier loads; and these poor horses do
discharge their duty most heroically in spite of the brutal treatment
they often receive.

       *       *       *       *       *

But present observation has rather to do with cabs or carriages which
ply for hire.

In France, great variety of carriage is to be had. In such places as
Biarritz, Nice, or Mentone, there are many elegant landaus having
nearly all the appearance of private carriages, and, no doubt, most
of them have been quite recently in private occupation. They are kept
in good order and freshly painted, and are the best class. From them
there is a descent to various kinds of smaller and inferior _voitures_.
The close kind is generally of a very shaky, antiquated construction;
although in some places, such as Lyons and Cannes, there is a kind of
brougham plying for hire of a better quality, narrow and confined,
holding two only, and even two with a squeeze, although some of them
(to be seen in Paris) have also a folding down seat for a child. Other
carriages have a hood. In Paris, where people are exposed to sudden
showers of rain, the one–horse open carriages have an extraordinary
huge kind of hood which can be promptly raised, but when turned over,
falls so low as almost to extinguish the occupant and to exclude his
view; but even then, and with a leathern apron drawn up over the knees,
I have found in a storm that adequate protection against rain is not
secured. One of the nicest of light vehicles in use is a kind of basket
carriage, seated for four, or for two with a _vis–à–vis_ folding down
seat for one or for two more behind the box, the box seat sometimes
holding a fifth, and occasionally there is a light miniature rumble
behind holding another. These are drawn for the most part by a pair
of smart horses, remarkably small, akin to the active little Exmoor
ponies.

The horses always go most willingly, and the drivers delight in urging
them at top speed. Regardless of consequences, they dash down a hill in
a way which would make an English coachy’s hair stand on end, and like
a cannon ball through a crowd, without halting or swerving from their
course, expecting the crowd to scatter right and left to make way for
them. This is all done to the noise of a horrid ear–splitting cracking
of the whip. The driver cracks his whip, and considers that having done
so, he is discharged of responsibility, and that it is the pedestrian’s
own fault if he be run over; just as a golfer considers that when he
has cried ‘faar’ before striking his ball, it is the fault of the
person struck that he has not got promptly enough out of the way. This
cracking of the whip goes on incessantly while the man is with his
horse, and even when without, and seems indulged in most frequently
from a boyish love of making the odious noise.

There is great variety in these cracks. The crack of the heavy carter’s
whip differs from that of the coachman’s lighter one. There is the
single crack, the double or back and fore crack, and the multiple
crack, this last being like the dancing noise produced by those
alarming crackers placed by mischievous urchins on a Queen’s Birthday
night under the garments of terrified young women. There is the
encouraging crack, supposed to cheer the horse on his way; the crack
direct, when the driver applies the lash; the practising crack, when he
practises for perfection in this ravishing art; the thoughtless crack,
when done in vacancy from mere force of habit; the warning crack, when
he wishes pedestrians to yield the smooth part of the road, that he may
avoid the rough, or simply that he, the dominant power, may maintain
majestically his straight undeviating course; the angry crack, when
the supposed humble pedestrian, being an Englishman, disregards the
warning crack, thinking that he has as good a right or a better to
pursue his way, there being room enough to pass by making a slight
deviation from the straight; the annunciating crack, particularly
affected by town omnibuses to intimate their approach; and the crack
jubilant, employed by the hotel omnibuses when, having bagged a man,
the driver thus expends all his bottled–up rapture and announces the
joyful event on nearing the door of his hotel. The crack may indicate
a cracked driver or a crack one, according as it is the passers–by
or the driver himself who forms the opinion, and it is an obviously
enviable accomplishment which many can manage with their left hand. The
poor horses are expected to disregard all cracks but the crack direct,
and to appearance do so; but I can’t help thinking that the horrid din
is to the animal very much what the buzz of the mosquito is to man,
not a _malum in se_, but a sound which proclaims the existence of a
torment which at any moment may descend upon its hide. The singular
thing, too, is that this noise does not seem to disturb the equanimity
either of the driver’s own horse or of the other passing horses. With
our own high–spirited horses, the mere wag of the whip will make them
frantic, and I believe there would be no holding in English horses in a
Continental town. Whether it be that the foreign horses are not so high
metalled, or get used to the noise, as horses do to passing trains, I
do not know, but to the walkers along the streets it is an intolerable
nuisance; nor is it altogether without its dangers, as on one occasion
a lady of our party all but got her eye struck by a flying lash. The
same sort of cracking goes on in Italy; but I noticed that in Florence
and Rome, and particularly the latter city, the drivers did it very
seldom. Probably to do so was against some police regulation, as from
the large number of vehicles with which the streets of Rome are filled,
the noise would be deafening, and might even be dangerous.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was at first inclined to think that the Italian coachmen are kinder
to their horses than the French or Swiss. It was long ere I saw an
Italian behaving savagely to his horse; but I have observed it, and
been informed by others of the cruel treatment they have seen practised
by Italians. I have seen men behaving most savagely to their horses
in France and Switzerland. For example, I have frequently seen a
carter, or man in charge of a horse or donkey, when he wished it to
move on, instead of quietly speaking to it, as even an English carter
would, take the butt end of his heavy whip and lay heavily on the
poor animal’s back, or even give it a violent kick. The carters lade
their carts very heavily, and often—I might even say always—beyond the
strength of the horse. I have observed a poor horse struggling with all
his might to pull the improper load up a hill, the carter encouraging
it by the whip all the time. Several times I could not resist speaking
to the men about their conduct. On one occasion, at Cannes, I saw a
horse, after having struggled to the utmost of his strength with a
load twice as heavy as it ought to have been (the bystanders only
looking on and giving it no aid), and remaining willing but helpless
to do more, when the carter took the narrow end of his heavy whip,
and came down twice with his whole force with the heavy–loaded butt
end on his horse’s head. Ere he could repeat the villanous stroke, I
rushed forward, arrested his hand, and told him, in the best French I
could muster, what a brute I thought him to be. But it is not easy to
give vent to one’s indignation in a foreign tongue. The fellow ought
to have been prosecuted, and there does exist in France a Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; but policemen as well as others,
I suspect, are as callous to such offences as our own policemen are
to the destruction by boys of our meadow or park trees. Cruelty to
a horse, however, often consists in little aggravating acts which a
prosecution might fail to reach. I have often seen a coachman waiting
at a stand, or at a door, and, having idle hands, mischievously proceed
to touch up his horses for doing nothing—in short, to vent his own
irritation at his idleness upon the poor dumb animals; and then, when
they began to caper because of the whip, the whip was again applied
because of the caper. However, I am afraid this is an evil habit which
is not seldom to be witnessed in our own country. Another method
abroad of torturing the horse is by the use of a bearing rein strapped
up to the high and heavy saddle or collar borne by the cart horses,
which from its weight is also of itself an infliction. But so long as
Liverpool dray horses are so tortured, we cannot reasonably complain
of bearing reins as a foreign peculiarity. A more extraordinary and
hardly credible kind of torture a lady told me she had witnessed was
in the passing of a strap or rope through the skin of the horse,
compelling him to move on to avoid or lessen the pain so produced. I
would fain believe she had been mistaken, but she was one on whose
relation I could rely, and whose capacity for observing could scarcely
be questioned.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Italian carriages for hire are very inferior to the French. At
Naples they are of the roughest possible kind—open little phaetons made
of coarse wood, at some remote period having enjoyed a coat of paint,
and exhibiting a barely decent seat for two, and a little folding seat
for a third. The Roman carriages are similarly constructed, but a
shade better. The drivers in Naples and its vicinity are, as regards
person and clothes, the dirtiest–looking ragamuffins. One shrinks to
come in contact with them. In Rome, on the other hand, the drivers are
generally a respectable–looking class, and they wear a black glazed hat
and red cloth waistcoat. The most stylish of coachmen we have seen are
those at Biarritz, where they frequently mount a grand blue broidered
jacket with scarlet facings; but this grandeur has to be paid for.

       *       *       *       *       *

At Castellamare and the district round about in the Bay of Naples, and
elsewhere in the south of Italy, the horses’ heads are decorated with
long pheasant feathers, which give them a jaunty look; while in most
places the generality of horses have fastened to their collars a string
of small bells which keep a continual lively jingle,—genial, doubtless,
to the animals,—and are as pleasant as the cracking of whips is odious.
About Sorrento, the carriages are often drawn by three horses abreast,
three being charged the same as for two. It seems a waste of power, the
only explanation given for which was that the horses are not strong.
Whatever may be the case in this respect, the horses in Italy always go
with the greatest spirit, never seeming to require the lash. I fancy
that the jingle of the bells operates as a stimulant. It was very
cheery, sitting in our parlour at Sorrento, to hear every now and then
the jingle of the bells announcing an arrival or a departure.

       *       *       *       *       *

Carriage fares for drives about town are moderate almost everywhere.
They are more in France than in Italy. Bædeker generally states in his
guide–books what the fares are at each town. Although on the whole
correct, they are not always to be relied on, probably because of
alterations on the tariffs. Sometimes a board or bill of the tariffs is
hung up in the carriage, and in some places, such as Paris, the driver
is obliged to give the hirer his number on a ticket which specifies the
fares. In Paris a one–horse carriage is charged 1·85 per course and
2·50 per hour during the day, and 2·50 and 3 francs respectively during
_nuit_, or the hours of darkness. A little more is charged if the
_voiture_ be taken from the _remise_, that is, the stables. There do
not appear to be two–horse carriages plying for hire upon the streets
of Paris. When one is wanted, it must be sent for to the stables, and I
believe that the charge is heavy. Fares in Paris, however, are higher
than in the provinces. At Lyons the fare per course is 1·25; if taken
by the hour, it is only 1½ francs per hour in the city, and the same
at Pau, but at Mentone and elsewhere fares are rather more. A large
carriage with two horses is at Mentone 1·75 per course and 3·50 per
hour during the day, and 2 francs and 3·75 respectively during _nuit_.
A one–horse carriage is 1·25 per course and 2·50 per hour during the
day, and 25 centimes more after dark. If, however, one has to ascend
a height in a town, he is sure to have to pay extra. For example, we
were charged extra for ascending Fourvières at Lyons, and the Chateau
at Nice, although driving per hour. If there be more than a single
place to go to, it is always cheaper to take the carriage by the hour.
If when driving by the course a stoppage be made by the way, it is not
unusual to charge as for two courses. At the same time, Continental
drivers are quite up to the trick of English coachmen, when put upon
hour–driving, of crawling along. We were somewhat amused at Sorrento
(where the horses are invariably put upon full speed), upon taking a
carriage by the hour to Massa, a few miles off, to see how the man
leisurely walked his horse the whole way. Nor, in this instance, did we
grudge it; because the scenery was so lovely that we had full time to
enjoy it, and the rapid whisking through it, which otherwise would have
taken place, would have given us but a passing glimpse.

In Italy the cab fares are exceedingly moderate. For instance, at
Genoa, Florence, and Rome, the drive per course is only 80 centessimi
(8d.). At Rome, for every person beyond two, 20 centimes (2d.)
additional is payable. The charge per hour is 1·50. At Naples, fares
are even more moderate. The course, according to Bædeker, is 60
centimes per hour, 1·40 the first hour and 50 centimes every half–hour
after; but we found the actual tariff was slightly more.

One requires to be careful, especially in Italy, about driving per hour
in a town, not to go unnecessarily beyond its bounds, as when this is
done the tariff is no longer binding, and the fare may be completely
at the mercy of the driver. Thus, at Florence, we had on one occasion
taken a carriage by the hour, and after driving about for some time,
went to Fiesole, which lies beyond the bounds. When we came to settle
with our driver, he charged us three or four francs additional on this
account. At Naples, where one may very easily exceed the bounds, I was
amused at the pertinacity of a driver in suggesting to go to places
just beyond the city; but as I had made myself acquainted with its
limits, and had no wish at that time to go to the places he named, I
declined. The way to adopt when designing to go beyond the bounds is,
as we arranged always at Rome, to make an express bargain that the
charge by time should cover wherever we went.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a custom on the part of the drivers, notwithstanding their fares
are fixed or agreed upon, to expect over and above what they call in
France and Switzerland a _pour boire_, and in Italy _buono manu_.
This is a provoking addition to a regulated fare. No doubt it is left
in the discretion of the traveller, and he may give as much as he
pleases, although it is said that in Italy the giving of too much is
often regarded as symptomatic that the giver is soft and may fairly be
asked for more. But the giving of too little will at once meet with a
remonstrance. It is frequently a difficulty to know exactly what it
should be. It is expected as a matter of right by the French coachman;
it is begged for by the Italians. The best course is always to arrange,
in the case of a special drive, that the charge bargained for shall
include everything, as the French express it _tout compris_; and if
you are pleased with the man’s attention, any gratuity over and above
will be unexpected. But in Italy, even although you have arranged upon
the footing of _tutti compressi_, the driver will sometimes beg for a
_buono manu_. So accustomed are they to this description of beggary,
that I have seen a coachman, before he even knew what I had put into
his hand (which was a half franc more than his fare upon a short ride
upon the footing of _tutti compressi_), beg for a _buono manu_.

The fares which are charged for going to given places beyond a town,
are often out of all proportion to the fares within town—_i.e._, if
charged according to the time occupied, they would be greatly in excess
of a time charge. It is difficult to understand a good reason for
this, as in town they might be standing long idle for chance fares;
while going to a given place, occupying so many hours, is just so much
constant employment. Nor is it constant driving, because nobody goes
to see a place without stopping at it for some time, and perhaps even
making other stoppages by the way. It is just a custom to expect a
‘fat job’ out of such a drive. One owes it no less to oneself than to
those who come after, not to give too much, and really sometimes the
fares asked are exorbitant. For instance, when we wanted a carriage to
go from Interlachen to Chateau d’Œx (which we accomplished in twelve
hours, stopping by the way from two to three hours for dinner, and
with several other stoppages of same duration, and going at a rate
seldom exceeding five miles per hour), one man wanted 150 francs,
or £6; others, 100 francs. I ultimately arranged with a man for 90
francs, with a _pour boire_, which came to 5 francs more. So little
fatigued were his horses, that they were driven back to Interlachen
next morning, and in all probability a return fare was obtained for at
all events part of the way. The sum charged for these journeys includes
the feeding of man and horses, and all hotel charges in connection with
the vehicle, which are borne by the owner of the carriage, and cost him
little, although, were they paid by the traveller, a large addition
would be made to the expense—a method of arrangement which ought to be
universal. The fares are computed by distance on some odd and unequal
principle. I was told afterwards that if we had taken the boat on Lake
Thun to Spiez, or about an hour’s distance from Interlachen, I could
have had a carriage from Spiez to Chateau d’Œx for about one–half what
I paid from Interlachen.

It is principally at the Swiss Passes, however, that the exorbitant
fares are demanded. For example, at Bellagio, the hotel charge for
a carriage and pair from Colico to Coire, where there is a railway
to Zürich, is 200 francs; 300 francs for three horses, without which
it is hardly possible to ascend the mountains; and 380 francs for
four horses. The journey involves—the first day, about three hours’
travelling by coach from Colico to Chiavenna, where we slept; ten hours
the second day, ascending by zig–zags to the top of the mountain,
and then down to Splugen, and halting two or three hours out of the
ten at Campo Dolcino for rest and lunch; and the third day, starting
from Splugen at 8 A.M., getting by a gentle descent through the Via
Mala, and stopping two or three hours at Thusis for lunch, we reached
Coire about 4 o’clock, or eight hours altogether. As I knew that
the fares asked were excessive, I went by steamboat to Colico a day
previous to our leaving, and readily arranged, after some bargaining,
for an excellent carriage and good pair of horses, with a third for
the mountains (we actually had four part of the way) for 150 francs,
with the inevitable _buono manu_. When we reached Splugen, finding
that a gentleman who accompanied us was going to Ragatz, I proposed
we should go there too, instead of proceeding from Coire to Zürich by
railway. Our friend unfortunately spoke about it to the landlord, who
immediately impressed on our coachman, who was also the proprietor of
the carriage, that the proper fare for the additional distance was
35 francs, a distance which I afterwards found took us less than two
hours to accomplish (it was down hill most of the way). I refused to
give such a figure for the addition to our drive, as we could have gone
by rail for a few francs; but on nearing Coire, I spoke to the driver
and arranged to give him 30 francs additional, inclusive of the _buono
manu_, for the whole journey, which we thought would require to be from
12 to 15 francs. It was too much, but it saved stopping an hour at
Coire for a train and shifting our luggage. So confirmed, however, is
the habit of asking a _buono manu_, that, in the face of my express
arrangement after paying the man his 180 francs, he had the assurance
to ask me for it.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is always best, on going a long drive, to make a very express and
explicit arrangement, and in Italy to make it in writing, so that there
may be no room for mistake or dispute; and it is also well to see
the carriage and horses you are to have, and to make sure the horses
are properly shod. Generally, it is better to arrange for a carriage
oneself. For instance, the landlord of our hotel at Castellamare said
the charge for a carriage to Pompeii would be 12 or 15 francs. I
arranged for one for 8 francs. At the same place, his charge was 10
francs to Sorrento, exclusive of _buono manu_, which would be 2 francs
more. As I knew I could easily get a carriage for less, I told him I
would not give more than 8 francs, with _buono manu_, and the carriage
was at once sent for; but even this was more than the fare mentioned
in Bædeker (6 francs). On return from Sorrento, we paid only 8 francs
altogether, the regular charge, the landlady of the Tramontano, a
clever and attentive Irishwoman, telling us that she made it an express
arrangement with the coachman, adding, ‘What was the sense of paying
more, when we had arranged for a given sum?’ In going any distance, it
is always well to make inquiry of those who may know something on the
subject as to what the fares ought to be, and as to the route.

Sometimes hotelkeepers make such excessive demands as practically to
be prohibitive. Thus at Baveno we found the charge for a carriage and
pair for a simple drive to be 8 francs the first hour and 5 francs for
each hour thereafter. At Chateau d’Œx, in other respects one of the
cheapest places we have visited, we were told by some of the young
people at the hotel, that, wishing to go one evening to have a dance at
a neighbouring pension in the village, not an eighth of a mile distant,
but on an acclivity, the hotelkeeper asked for the double drive no
less than 20 francs. They therefore gave up the idea of going. The only
possible excuse for this exorbitant demand might be, that the road was
rough for night driving, but carrying a couple of lamps would have put
that all right.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fares everywhere have, however, been increased of late years. Speaking
from recollection, I think that at Interlachen, for a drive which is
now charged 25 francs, we were charged fifteen years previously only 15
to 18 francs, and other charges in proportion.

       *       *       *       *       *

It used to be considered that for four persons it was at least as cheap
to take a carriage as to pay for four places in a diligence. If this
was so formerly, it is no longer so, as it is less expensive to go by
diligence. I imagine that the fares by diligence either have not been
increased, or have been only slightly raised. We paid for the journey
from Lucerne to Interlachen, inclusive of steamboats on the lakes
of Lucerne and Brienz, 13 francs 90 centimes each for inside places
and cabin, the journey taking 10 hours; from Chateau d’Œx to Aigle,
occupying about 4½ hours of mountain travelling, 8 francs 25 centimes.
In either case it would have cost us considerably more to have hired.
Bædeker mentions the diligence fares from Coire to Colico to be for
_coupé_ 27 francs 90 centimes, and for _intérieur_ 24·50; so that for
four passengers travelling by diligence, the fare would not exceed
112 francs; for six passengers, 168 francs, instead of the 300 or 380
francs demanded by the hotels, which no doubt affords them a heavy
profit. Travelling by diligence is, however, not always desirable,
as often part of the journey may have to be performed during night,
or at uncomfortable hours. Diligences are now nearly driven off the
field by the railways, except in such countries as Switzerland. The
Swiss _Indicateur_ contains a long list of the diligence routes and
their time bills, and _Continental Bradshaw_ furnishes a still longer
list under the head, ‘Diligences, Post and Mail Coaches, Germany,
Switzerland, and North Italy,’ with, in most cases, the fare payable.

       *       *       *       *       *

I do not think that steamboat travelling is cheap—_e.g._, we paid 7
francs each on the Lake of Geneva from Montreux to Geneva, taking three
hours. On Lake Como the fare from Bellagio to Como, about two hours,
was 2 francs 80 centimes, or about 5s. there and back. From Sorrento
to Capri and back was 5 francs. I received a curious answer from the
captain of the steamboat to Capri to my question what would be the
fare to go from Sorrento to Naples; he replied, ‘Whatever you please.’
We were informed at Sorrento that if one of the two rival boats which
usually go from Naples to Capri do not sail, the passengers are in
the power of the boat which does sail, and may be asked for what the
captain pleases, which is sure to be something different from what
pleases the passenger.

The sailings of the steamboats are to be found in the _Indicateurs_. On
Lake Como a convenient little flyleaf guide for the lake sailings is
sold on board at the price of 5 centessimi (one halfpenny).

       *       *       *       *       *

Most towns have their town omnibuses. In Paris there is a system of
‘correspondence,’ by which the passenger leaves his omnibus at certain
stations and gets (with the same ticket) into another to prosecute his
route. But this correspondence is puzzling to a stranger, who will
always find it better to take a cab and drive direct to his destination.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tramways are beginning to be introduced, with carriages similar to our
own, but are generally placed in streets where they will as little as
possible interfere with other traffic.

In some towns of Italy, such as Milan, there are laid stone–ways, being
two parallel courses of flat stones, each course perhaps about a foot
broad, embedded in the causeway and on the same level, on which the
wheels of carts and carriages run smoothly. It has sometimes struck
me that such a system of stone tramways without grooves, on which all
carriages could run, and which would not catch their wheels, would be
preferable for the streets of hilly cities at home, for which tram
rails, especially in its busy thoroughfares, are entirely unsuitable.
All the smoothness of the tramway would be obtained without its danger
to life, its injury to carriages, and its interference with ordinary
traffic; while the huge, clumsy, box–looking, road–filling cars would
give place to a set of light omnibuses of sufficient number. The luxury
of travelling a mile in a larger car could not be placed in the balance.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are other means of conveyance, such as donkeys and gondolas,
which will be more appropriately referred to when I come to speak of
the places where they are used.



IV.

_POSTAL ARRANGEMENTS._


BY treaty agreement, the postage rates for the Continent are now
very much reduced from what they used to be, and are comparatively
moderate, although to those who write much the expense becomes in
the aggregate a considerable item of travelling expenditure. Single
postage from England to France, Switzerland, and Italy, and I think to
most Continental countries, is 2½d., and to this rate the Continental
countries on letters to England conform as nearly as their coinage
permits. But in France and Italy, taking advantage of the fact that
a franc is between 9½d. and 10d., they charge 30 centimes, or about
3d.;[11] so that the price of four stamps in these countries is close
upon 1s., instead of being 10d., as with ourselves. Single postage on
letters for the Continent covers one–half ounce in England; abroad
it covers 15 grammes, which seems to be the precise equivalent.
Little pocket letter–weighers are sold in France at 1 franc and 1½
francs, containing a scale marked in grammes by which letters can
be conveniently weighed, and for prolonged residence are all but
indispensable. If a letter posted in England be insufficiently stamped,
the post office abroad charges the recipient with double the postage
the letter ought to have borne according to the foreign rate, deducting
the amount of the stamps which it carries. Thus, if a person in
England put by mistake a penny stamp upon a single letter, the French
Government charge double the 30 centimes and deduct the penny paid,
so that the recipient has to pay 5d. upon the letter. If the letter
have been stamped with 2½d. postage, but exceeds the half ounce, the
recipient pays 1s., less the 2½d., or 9½d. altogether (more correctly,
95 centimes). It is astonishing how many blunders friends at home make
in this respect. Over and over again have we had to pay for them. If
people are not acquainted with the foreign postage, they ought to study
the postal guides, and in event of any difficulty to make inquiry at a
post office. One lady told me she had summed up what these mistakes had
cost her in one winter, and found they came to 11 francs.

       *       *       *       *       *

Newspapers posted in England require a penny stamp, but abroad are
reckoned by weight. The small Continental papers go for 5 centimes, or
one halfpenny; but in France, at least, English newspapers always cost
one penny or 10 centimes.

       *       *       *       *       *

The rate in France for registering a letter to England is 5d. (50
centimes), while it was 4d. in England, being another instance of the
way in which the French take advantage of the small difference between
our monetary values. The reduction in England of fee to 2d. applies to
foreign as well as inland letters.

       *       *       *       *       *

Letters for the interior are always less than for abroad. In France,
where postage is high, the rate was 25 centimes (now 15 centimes) to
any part of France except the district in which the letter was posted,
when it was 15 centimes, possibly now less. For book delivery in town,
the French have a 2 centimes rate, and in Italy there is a similar rate
for newspapers for the interior.

       *       *       *       *       *

Post cards are usually one–half of letter rates. Thus a French
post card to England is 15 centimes (1½d.), as against our 1¼d.
But in Switzerland, where postage is cheap,—there being half rates
for letters,—and in Italy, post cards for England are only 1d. (10
centimes). English people always familiarly call a 10 centime piece a
penny, which in size as well as in value it resembles.

       *       *       *       *       *

Letters are, I think, delivered with great accuracy. I have only
known of two letters which have not reached us during the whole time
we were away, and one of these was misaddressed. Newspapers, on the
contrary, have not, in France, reached us with the same regularity
as letters. This has been attributed to the French Government being
jealous of newspapers from Great Britain containing animadversions
upon its policy, and during the French crisis of the autumn of 1877,
we regularly missed a _Scotsman_, once a week, sometimes of a Tuesday,
but more commonly of a Thursday, when, if there were no leading article
touching upon the French Government, we fancied it might contain some
gleanings from _Punch_. As _Punch_ carries a free lance and hesitates
not to strike whatever is vulnerable, it is, I suppose, fully more
exposed to be stopped than any ordinary newspaper; but in spite of
precaution, it finds its way abroad even when stopped.

The stoppage of newspapers, while it can do no manner of good, produces
a good deal of irritation and ill–will on the part of the English. I
believe that the attention of the French Parliament has been called to
it, and latterly we found greater regularity. Of course, in many cases
newspapers may miscarry from addresses being insufficient or getting
torn off. It is always safer to write on the newspaper itself; and if
a cover be used, the newspaper stamp must not connect the cover with
the paper, otherwise it is liable to be charged as a letter.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the hotel at which to stop has been decided upon, it is best to
direct letters to be delivered at it. If not so fixed upon, it is usual
to address letters to the _Poste Restante_, where they are got upon
exhibition of a visiting card; but in some places the post is very
particular, and perhaps rightly so. Thus, in San Remo, I was desired
to give my card to the _facteur_ (postman) in whose beat our quarters
were, and the letters would be delivered at the house. In Paris, I was
refused letters for my wife without a written authority from her. In
other large towns, the rule is to ask for passport; and if the inquirer
have no passport, he must prove his identity in a manner satisfactory
to the post clerk, as by exhibition of envelopes of letters received
elsewhere, or otherwise—regulations most reasonable for the security of
the recipients.

       *       *       *       *       *

Registered letters are treated with peculiar care. In France, the
postman declines to give up such a letter except into the hand of the
person to whom it is addressed, who signs his name in a book kept for
the purpose, with date of reception, etc. If he do not happen to be
in the house at the time, the postman takes away the letter, marks
‘absent’ upon it, and brings it back at succeeding deliveries till he
find him. In Italy, they are even more particular. At Milan, I received
at the hotel an intimation from the post office that a registered
letter was lying there for me. In order to procure this letter, I was
under the necessity of going personally to the post office, a good way
off, and of taking with me a certificate by a resident in Milan of my
identity. I knew nobody residing in Milan, but the landlord of the
hotel was kind enough to sign the document. Delivering this document,
I was also required to exhibit my passport to the post office, and
then to sign my name in a book kept there for the purpose. These
precautions, although troublesome to the traveller, make registered
letters very secure; and all letters transmitting money orders ought
to be registered and put in firm, tough envelopes, for I believe that
letters are sometimes lost in consequence of the thinness of the
foreign letter envelopes in which, for the sake of lightness, they are
generally enclosed.

       *       *       *       *       *

On leaving a town, the new address should be given to the post
office or to the _concierge_ of the hotel, and letters will then be
readdressed and forwarded free of charge. Occasionally, we have found
them forwarded to three or four successive addresses before receipt by
us, and that without any extra payment, which would not be the case
in England. Nay, I have discovered, though only after many postages
had unfortunately been paid on the readdress in England, that letters
arriving in England from a colony, say New Zealand, may be readdressed
to the address abroad without charge,—a fact, therefore, well worthy of
being noted. After a lapse of time, whether done by the post office at
request of the landlord or _concierge_ of the hotel or not, we could
not tell, letters have been opened and returned to the writers, from
whom we have received them reinclosed and restamped about a month after
we had left the place to which they were originally addressed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tradesmen, on seeing arrivals announced in the lists, send in their
business cards; and a circular of this kind, posted to our hotel at
Cannes, stamped with 15 centimes district postage, was forwarded to
us at Mentone. On this, 25 centimes (2½d.) had to be paid, showing a
difference in the treatment of interior letters, which may be explained
in this way, that the letter was not originally insufficiently stamped,
and there was not, therefore, excuse for charging it double.

The French have a good system in regard to letter pillars which might
with advantage be adopted by ourselves. When the postman has made his
collection from the pillar box, he turns a dial, which indicates that
that particular collection has been made; _e.g._, suppose he has taken
the first collection upon a Wednesday, the dial bears: ‘Mercredi,
la première levée est faite.’ And this is particularly necessary in
France, because the postmen are by no means particular in adhering to
the time fixed for making the collection. Day after day have I seen
the notice up half an hour before the collection was due, obliging one
either to post early, or to go to the general post. The French letter
pillars are small wooden boxes stuck upon a wall, pretty well out of
reach of mischievous urchins; but their slits are very narrow, and will
not admit of an ordinary English newspaper.

       *       *       *       *       *

French postmen, for protection and security, carry their letters for
delivery in a box suspended by a strap round the neck like a pedlar’s
tray, and registered letters are kept in a separate pocket or portion
of the box. The newspapers and book packets (often immense bundles) are
simply carried bound together by a strap.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is astonishing with what rapidity letters and newspapers are
received from home. London newspapers are received at Biarritz on the
afternoon of the day following publication. At Venice it takes a day
longer, and some places not so distant are, in consequence of the
arrival of the post late in the evening, just as long. Thus, while the
London newspapers are delivered at Nice the evening of the day after
publication, they are not delivered at Mentone till the following
morning, because they arrive after the last postal delivery at Mentone.
When the mail is accelerated, as no doubt it will be in time, this
delay will be remedied; but the practical effect is that letters and
newspapers posted in Edinburgh upon a Monday before five o’clock are
delivered in Nice upon Wednesday evening, but are not delivered in
Mentone until Thursday morning. At Venice or Rome they are delivered on
the Thursday. Letters posted on a Saturday are always one day longer,
in consequence of there being no despatch from London on the Sunday; so
that, leaving Edinburgh on Saturday, they are not delivered in Mentone
till Wednesday morning. Newspapers are often a post later, and not
delivered till the second or evening delivery; for in Mentone, as in
many other places, there are only two deliveries in the day.



V.

_SUNDAY ABROAD._


SUNDAY is kept abroad with various degrees of propriety. As a rule, it
is a gala day—a fete day, and to certain classes of servants it only
brings additional toil. There is no distinction, as with ourselves,
unless in rare and exceptional cases, between railway trains on Sunday
and trains on week–days; and, in point of fact, I believe there is more
travelling on Sundays than on other days of the week. Work and business
are not wholly suspended, but there are fewer carts upon the streets.
In many places, workmen may be seen engaged in their employments, at
all events till dinner–time, just as usual. Shops are nowhere wholly
closed, at least during the earlier part of the day. But the generality
of the natives attend a morning service, and afterwards walk about in
their Sunday clothes; so that in large towns the streets are crowded by
lounging saunterers, or scarcely less idle sightseers. It is gratifying
to observe that wherever English people form a large admixture of
the population, as at Cannes, Mentone, and Pau, a greater external
reverence is paid to the day than elsewhere, and particularly in the
matter of closing shops. Possibly in some cases this may result from
finding it is not worth while to open them, as the principal customers
would not enter and transact, but let us hope that it springs from a
growing influence for good. In Paris, during and after the reign of the
Commune, I believe all shops were open; but they are now, year by year,
getting to be more and more closed.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Mentone the washerwomen appear to suspend operations on Sundays. It
is probable that they strive to get all the linen committed to their
care sent home by the end of the week to the ladies, who require their
things by that time to be ready. But I have occasionally seen one
or two washing away as usual, even in heavy rain; and I fancy, from
appearances, they were then purifying their own garments.

       *       *       *       *       *

To what extent theatres are open, I have no means of stating. I believe
that in Paris and other large French towns, if not elsewhere, the
theatres are in full operation.

       *       *       *       *       *

In places where musical bands play, as at Interlachen, the music
proceeds just as on ordinary days—once, twice, or three times a day,
according to the custom of the place; but it gathers to it all the
idlers, and is therefore generally listened to by far greater crowds
than during the week. Nor is the music different in character from what
is usually performed. There is no attempt to compromise matters by
playing sacred tunes. Not improbably, in some places, there may be a
better selection of secular music than usual; ‘classical music’ may be
attempted. At Cannes, although it is a thoroughly English settlement,
the band plays on Sunday near the Mairie. At Mentone the playing took
place outside the _cirque_, near to some of the churches, so that the
worshippers had to pass by it to reach them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Where there are Galleries or Museums, Sunday is usually an open or free
day, no payment being exacted. At Naples the Museum, and at Florence
the Picture Galleries and the grounds of the Royal Pitti Palace, are
open to the public, the only other day in the week on which the Museum
and Galleries are free being Thursdays. Ascension Day, however, seems
to be regarded as more holy than Sunday, for it happened at Florence,
while we were there, and falling upon a Thursday, the Galleries were
closed. The Louvre in Paris is open on Sunday, but is closed on Monday,
to be cleaned. The Capitoline Museum in Rome (belonging to Government)
is open on Sundays gratis, but as a rule galleries as well as shops are
closed on Sundays in Rome.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Casino at Monte Carlo is always open on Sundays, and was a
source of attraction to many of the foreign visitors at Mentone, and
sometimes, though more rarely, even to such English people as were not
very strict in their views.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Carnival proceeded at Nice the same as on the other day or days on
which it was held. It was probably then a grander affair, and I believe
drew to it much greater crowds—many, though not many English, going to
see it from Mentone, and, no doubt, from all the surrounding parts.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sunday, indeed, is regarded as a fete day. In the times of the Empire
I found it, on occasion of my first visit to Paris, to be the day
of the great Fête Napoleon. It was also the day for illuminations,
and for playing the Grandes–Eaux at Versailles. The same practice
prevails elsewhere. At Rome there was on one Sunday during our visit
an illumination of the Piazza del Popolo, and a balloon was sent up in
the course of the evening. At Pau also our attention was called one
Sunday afternoon to an immense balloon descending, with a man suspended
from it by ropes—a most perilous–looking adventure, and by no means an
agreeable spectacle, though we were not near enough to see the man
distinctly. Throughout France the elections take place on the Sunday,
and possibly it is the same elsewhere. In Italy and in Paris, as well
as in other places, people expend a portion of their earnings in
driving about in cabs and other vehicles plying for hire. One summer,
a few years ago, we spent a fortnight in the Champs Elysées, and found
that on Sunday evening they were, if possible, more brilliantly lighted
up, and more gay and noisy, than on other nights; but I think the
great spectacle then to be seen was derived from the multiplicity of
_voitures_ driving up and down, two rows one way and two rows another,
in continuous line. As each carries either one or two lights (I am not
sure which, but I think two), and as nothing at a little distance but
the lights is seen, the effect is curious. The broad roadway seems from
the Place de la Concorde to the Triumphal Arch to be filled with an
incessant stream of Will–o’–the–wisp–like lights noiselessly flitting
up and down the course.

       *       *       *       *       *

Letters are delivered by the post either as usual on the rest of the
week, or at all events on the Sunday morning, but my impression is that
there is no difference in the deliveries. When there were any letters
to annoy us, they were sure to come on a Sunday morning, so that often
we wished there had been no delivery.

       *       *       *       *       *

In hotels at home, with a laudable view to lessen the work of servants
and give opportunity to them to go to church, visitors who have private
rooms are often requested to dine on Sundays at the public table, and
I have heard of no less than thirteen newly–married couples at one of
the English lake hotels having thus one Sunday complied. As people
abroad are little in the habit of dining in private rooms, there is not
scope for this observance. But Sunday is always regarded as a day for a
somewhat better dinner than usual. Sometimes, if not on the ordinary
programme, it is in the shape of a course of ices, or it may be some
other rarity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The employment of the evening depends upon the company. The English,
as a rule, observe Sunday abroad much as they do at home, except, of
course, that being in a hotel, they are thrown more into living in
public. Many retire to their rooms and read. But often before they do
so, in hotels frequented by them,—particularly if exclusively so,—the
young people, led by some one at the piano, will join in singing hymns.
Even in hotels where foreigners are the principal visitors, English
people present will sometimes strike up a hymn. This takes place
usually to the apparent enjoyment of the foreigners, who seem not to
know what to do with themselves on Sunday. They do not read, at least
to the extent to which the English do. It is not unusual for them to
have recourse to cards, or drafts, or chess, while their children romp
about in a way at which we should be scandalized at home. Occasionally
a visitor will play and sing at the piano secular tunes and songs,
though when our countrywomen go to the piano they rarely select
anything but sacred pieces.

       *       *       *       *       *

One Sunday evening I recollect its being announced that there would be
a concert by professional musicians in the _salon_, from which, before
the concert began, nearly all the English quietly withdrew. It was not
repeated in the same house while we were there.

       *       *       *       *       *

In travelling, those who desire to have a book for Sunday reading,
ought to take one or more such books with them. They are not procurable
in shops or in circulating libraries. Possibly they may be, though
probably not of a high class, at Tract Dépôts; but where these depots
are to be found, may not always be easy to learn. However, in season
places the churches have generally small libraries attached to them,
which are useful to those who are there for the season. A passing
traveller of course cannot avail himself of them. It is not a bad
plan to have the monthly magazines sent by book post to one’s foreign
address, and when read they may prove very acceptable gifts to others.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was not often that we were induced by curiosity to go into a Roman
Catholic Church on a Sunday. The proceedings are unintelligible to
the uninitiated, and the service seems to be all performed for the
people by the priests, who are ‘the Church.’ Where there is singing
or vocal music, it is done by the priests alone, aided by boys, and
sometimes, though very rarely, by women. I recollect, when in Antwerp
many years ago, on occasion of some great festival the choir was
augmented by a number of (concealed) female singers with the sweetest
voices. But the congregation never joins in the singing. They listen,
just as congregations do at home to anthems performed by choirs, which
it would require a knowledge of music, acquaintance with the piece,
a music book, and a good voice to enable them to take part in. The
service is conducted by the priests, with their backs to the people,
these backs being generally covered with an ornamented dress, sometimes
exhibiting an inserted cross in colours, sometimes white satin with
rich gold embroidery, but varying according to the rank held by the
priest, and according to the place, and doubtless according, in some
churches, to the importance of the day. The chief priest appears to be
reading a large book before him on the altar, and mumbling something
to himself; and every now and then he and they (when more than one)
perform a genuflexion or change position, and sometimes he turns round
to the audience and says something inaudibly, while a boy tinkles a
bell as a signal to the people at certain stages of the service. The
ceremony is familiar to all who have been abroad. This priest service
is no doubt intended, with other things, to exalt the priesthood and
to swell its power, the grasp and severity of which the world has
unfortunately too often felt. It is only right, however, to say that
the people listen devoutly, and seem to know something at least of what
is going on, and can follow it and understand when to rise up and when
to kneel down. Many of them hold in their hands the book containing the
service, which is printed both in Latin and in their own tongue; and
were this book (after which the Prayer Book of the Church of England
is modelled) purged of some erroneous matters, such as the prayers
to the Virgin Mary and Saints, it contains a service to the words of
which Protestants probably could not object. Mass sometimes begins
very early in the morning; and after it has been said by the priest (I
think it does not take much longer than half an hour), the congregation
clears out and is succeeded by another, which pours in, before whom the
service is repeated. People who have so heard mass apparently consider
they have done their duty for the day so far as church worship is
concerned.

       *       *       *       *       *

When a priest preaches, which seems to be only rarely, and possibly
only when he has the faculty, he mounts the pulpit, by his side in
which a large crucifix is stuck, and addresses the people shortly but
with great animation, his eloquence increasing like the Welsh preachers
as he proceeds, till he reaches his climax in such a fervent heat that
the perspiration will burst from his brow. No doubt he succeeds in
stirring his auditors, but I never could make out sufficiently what was
said to know exactly the purport of discourse. But the blessed Virgin
is frequently invoked.

       *       *       *       *       *

Roman Catholicism, however, must be losing ground fast, as the people
increase in knowledge and desire to be free from clerical yoke; and it
is astonishing to what an extent Protestantism, everywhere tolerated
now, prevails in countries formerly so pope and priest ridden. A book,
called _A Guide to Evangelical Work on the Continent of Europe, and
on the Southern and Eastern Shores of the Mediterranean_, published by
the Committee of the Foreign Evangelical Society (London: James Nisbet
& Co., 21 Berners Street; Paris: 4 Place du Théâtre Français, Rue de
Rivoli), gives an idea of the extent of this work.[12] I have tried to
make up some statistics from it, but have not found my results to agree
in numbers with the prefatory notes prefixed to some of the sections. I
observe, however, that in France the Reformed Church, under the control
of the State, is by far the largest of the Protestant denominations,
and it is stated in the guide to consist of 483 parishes and 573
pastors. But on reckoning up the churches named in the book, it seems
only to mention 124 Reformed Churches. Probably the explanation is that
all parishes are not given. Of the Church of the Augsburg Confession,
or Lutheran Church, there seem to be 63; of the Methodists, 7; of
the Société Evangélique de France, 25; of the Société Centrale, 70;
of the Wesleyan Church, 39; of the Free Church, 63; Independents, 6;
Baptists, 6; Société Evangélique de Genève, 14; Society of Friends, 1;
other denominations, 11 churches or stations. In all these the service
is in the native French, and intended for the natives, and there is
not a town of any importance in which there is not one or more of the
different denominations represented by a church, so that it will be
seen that Protestantism must be spreading and taking a deeper hold
on the people. In Paris alone there are, _inter alia_, the following
French Protestant churches:—Reformed Church, 19; Lutheran, 16;
Evangélique de France, 7; Baptist, 1; French Wesleyan, 6. The native
population, besides, throughout France, is reached by a multitude of
Protestant or Evangelical associations and institutions and schools,
such as Young Men’s Christian Associations, mission homes, orphanages,
etc., and there are not less than 85 Bible or Tract Dépôts. I state all
these figures _salvo justo calculo_, and with the impression that they
only represent a portion of the work, and they are at least short of
the figures given in the prefatory ‘note’ on the Protestant Churches of
France.

       *       *       *       *       *

In some cases, as at Biarritz, French service is conducted in the
English Church; in others, as at Lucerne and Chateau d’Œx, the English
service is held in the native Protestant Church.

       *       *       *       *       *

At Mentone, the French Protestant Church, under the pastoral care of a
most worthy man, M. Delapierre, is largely attended by English–speaking
people. Indeed, I would say that English, Scotch, and Americans of
all denominations form during the season by far the principal part
of the congregation. We used almost regularly to attend this church
during one of the Sunday services, going to one of the other churches
for the other service. A layman commenced by reading a short liturgy
or formulary of devotion, then a portion of Scripture, and, having
given out a hymn or canticle, as it is termed, left the pulpit, and
the minister taking his place, after extempore prayer, preached a
sermon. M. Delapierre spoke slowly and distinctly, and it was easy,
comparatively, to follow him. His thoughts were always good and
striking, though simple, often rising to an elevated and earnest
eloquence, calculated to make a deep impression. He was much respected
and esteemed by all, but unfortunately was, or rather is, a man of
delicate health; so that he only took one of the Sunday services, and
had for a short time to leave Mentone for relaxation and change of air.
His assistants (young men) we never could follow so well. Hymn–books,
with the canticles set to music, were placed in all the pews; and
generally at the close of the service a doxology was sung, being a
verse commencing, ‘Gloire soit au Saint Esprit,’ to the tune called
Hursley, the old German melody to which the hymn ‘Sun of my Soul’
has been wedded. There is a striking and puzzling peculiarity in the
French singing, for the words are not sung as spoken. Thus _père_ is
pronounced _peray_. The singing also is in slow time. The Communion
was dispensed on the first Sunday of the month, all who desired being,
without distinction of sect, invited to attend, and was conducted very
much in the same way as in Congregational churches at home.

       *       *       *       *       *

We once witnessed in this church the baptism of an infant. The father
and mother, nurse and baby, and another man and woman—all stood up in
front of the reading–desk below the pulpit, to which M. Delapierre
descended, and took the baby, which had been squalling, over his
left arm. Holding up his hand, and looking down upon it, its great
eyes looked up into his either in terror or in wonder, and all was
still, not even the water sprinkling disturbing its equanimity. The
preliminary service or address seemed to be somewhat long.

No gown or vestment of any kind was used in the church beyond the
wearing of black clothes and a white tie, although I believe a gown is
worn in many other French churches. Everything was conducted with the
reverent simplicity so consistent with true worship. The singing was
assisted by a harmonium, amply sufficient for the size of the church,
which I suppose might not be seated for many more than two hundred.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Italy the Waldensian is the largest of the native churches. The
_Guide_ (p. 159) says:—

‘Their missionaries are now found in all parts of Italy. There are 40
churches, some of them small, perhaps, but of living Christians; and
there are also 10 missionary stations, with 30 ordained pastors and
20 lay preachers, who visit every month 50 other small towns where
there are those friendly to the gospel. There are at present upwards
of 2000 converts. This Church, which has 15 parishes in the Waldensian
valleys, has a College or Lyceum at Torre Pellice, the capital, and a
Theological College at Florence, with three able professors.’

Next to the Waldensian is the Free Christian Church, which ‘has taken
a position between Presbyterianism and Congregationalism. It has 37
stations and 24 preachers.’ After it the Wesleyan Church comes, with 28
stations and as many Italian ministers. There are in Italy 14 Bible or
Tract Dépôts.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Switzerland, Protestant service is conducted in most of the towns
by, _inter alia_, the National Reformed Church, the Free Church, the
Société Evangélique de Genève. There are 16 Bible or Tract Dépôts
throughout the country.

       *       *       *       *       *

We attended a French service in the church at Chateau d’Œx, and found a
peculiarity existing there which perhaps may be characteristic of the
native Swiss churches, for all the women were seated on one side, and
all the men on the other, as, I believe, is the case with the Society
of Friends in Great Britain. Not till it was too late did I discover I
was a black sheep among the women. This congregation sat at singing and
rose at prayer. The church, a tolerably large one, was quite full, and
no doubt many came from a considerable distance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having said so much with regard to the native churches, I shall now
state a few facts regarding those conducted in English for the benefit
of strangers.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are of American churches in France, 3; in Italy, 3; in
Switzerland, 1; of Wesleyan or Methodist, 5 in France, 2 in Italy (not
including American Methodist, which are probably Italian churches), and
none in Switzerland.[13] Apparently there is but one Congregational
church in these three countries, viz. in Paris, where nearly all the
above churches stated to be in France likewise are. The remaining
English churches are either Scotch Presbyterian or English Episcopalian.


       *       *       *       *       *

Taking the Scotch Presbyterian first, I ascertain from the _Guide_
(by summation), in France 6, in Italy 6, in Switzerland 5—17 churches
altogether, but there may possibly be other Scotch services not
noted—as, for example, we found a room occupied in Venice which is not
a station noted. Of these 17, I find from the _Guide_ (comparing it,
too, with a card obtained abroad), there are 11 in connection with
the Free Church of Scotland; there is only one in connection with the
United Presbyterian body; the remaining five are either in connection
with the Established Church of Scotland, or are, as in Rome, and as
they undoubtedly should be, ‘occupied by a minister of the Established,
Free, or United Presbyterian Church of Scotland.’ It would be much
better if all the churches were in connection with all these bodies;
and, indeed, there is no reason why they might not take in Independents
and Baptists and other denominations, and call it everywhere the
‘Scotch Church.’ It would strengthen their hands very much, and avoid,
at least, the appearance of unnecessary schism. I believe, however,
there is an understanding, so far commendable, that where one of the
three Presbyterian bodies above named already has a station in a
foreign town, neither of the others shall introduce one of their own.

       *       *       *       *       *

In some places the Presbyterian Churches have a chapel or building
devoted to worship, as at Cannes. In others a room is engaged, as at
Mentone; and I may here mention that the same thing is found with
regard to the Episcopal Churches or stations: frequently a room in
one of the hotels is used, and sometimes, as at Sorrento, is devoted
to this use. Where a church has been built by an Episcopalian body, a
great deal of space seems often lost, as at Hyères, in the chancel; and
in such cases, when the minister retires to its extreme end to read the
communion service, his voice is sometimes lost to the congregation.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Florence, Leghorn, Pau, and perhaps elsewhere, there is a permanent
settled minister attached to the Presbyterian Church. At other stations
the pulpit is supplied either by ministers sent out for the season,
or more generally by ministers requiring to go abroad for health, to
whom the chaplaincy is pecuniarily an advantage; but it can scarcely
be an advantage in regard of their own health, and it does not tend to
secure for the station the best men. However, if this were not done,
probably stations might become vacant. At Rome, where there is a large
nice church outside the Porto del Popolo, alongside of other Protestant
churches, care is taken to send for a short period a man, or rather
two men, of recognised ability—a very proper step in such a city, and
one which, were it possible, it would be well to take elsewhere. While
we were in Rome, we were so fortunate as to have, among others, Mr.
Mitchell of Leith, who spoke with great power and eloquence. It was
strange and gladdening to think that in the very citadel of Old Giant
Pope there was now such perfect freedom of speech.

       *       *       *       *       *

The English Episcopal Church is necessarily far more largely
represented abroad. In fact, there is no town of any importance in
which there is not a service conducted according to the forms of
this Church. In France, as appearing from the _Guide_, there are 54
stations; in Italy, 23; in Switzerland, 43; in all, 120. Of course
in other countries it is similarly, though perhaps not so largely
represented, because the three above–named are the principal countries
frequented by English travellers, and it is to them the present
observations have had exclusive reference.

       *       *       *       *       *

I do not profess to know much about the operations of the Episcopal
Church of England, but I believe that it has two societies in
connection with the Continent—the Colonial and Continental Society, and
the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. This last belongs to the
High Church or Ritualistic party.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ritualism is not, according to my limited opportunities of observing,
very rampant abroad, although, looking at it as a dangerous and
insidious Jesuitical attempt to subvert the Protestant Church of
England to Rome, or to its errors, and to swell the power of the
clergy, the least beginnings deserve to be carefully watched and
reprobated by all who desire to preserve the purity of Christian
worship. Even were it carried to the most extravagant lengths to
which it sometimes is in England, it would pale its ineffectual
fire before the full blaze of the Roman Catholic Churches around in
their richly–adorned cathedrals, their great altars heaped with all
manner of valuables and decorations, their innumerable candles of all
sizes, their multiplicity of priests with gorgeous vestments, their
full–voiced sonorous chanting, their theatrical ceremonial.

But in some places there is a tendency, apparently held under a certain
check, towards Ritualistic practices.

Of course one sees everywhere in Episcopal congregations a good deal
of genuflexion among the women.[14] But I imagine this is not regarded
by many good people as Ritualistic, although it has a considerable
resemblance to the observance in Roman Catholic churches of bending the
knee before every crucifix which is passed.

The church is open in some places every morning of the week for reading
of prayers.

Intoning the prayers is occasionally attempted; but in a small
church, and essayed by one whose voice is not naturally musical, the
unaccustomed performance assumes all the appearance of a timidity
conscious of deviation from the simplicity of genuine worship.

Not infrequently the altar is gaily ornamented, and a large cross is
placed on it, and sometimes there is in a compartment of the window
over it a representation of the Saviour on the cross in stained glass.
At one little town where we spent a Sunday, the minister was a young
man with Ritualistic tendencies. We attended the little chapel, the
congregation (one–half probably Episcopalians) being about a dozen or
fifteen persons, nearly filling it. The altar was plain, just a table
covered with a red cloth, but a large cross stood on it. Shortly after
having read the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven
image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in
the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; thou shalt not
bow down to them nor worship them,’ etc., the young man knelt down on
his knees before the cross with his back to the congregation, as if in
silent adoration. Upon this an English gentleman immediately rose up,
and with his family walked out, and I felt much inclined to follow his
example.

The single attempt at robing I have witnessed was in the use of stoles,
where the wearer, having a black one and a red one, pleased himself by
crossing them on his back like a St. Andrew’s cross.

The only other practice I am aware of, savouring of Ritualism, is
where three or four stalwart young men, robed in white, have marched
in swinging procession from the vestry up the aisle to the chancel to
‘perform’ the duty, not requiring great physical and still less mental
exertion, of reading prayers, upon which (the watchful choir leading by
rising up) great part of the congregation stood to do them reverence in
the house of their Master. One almost expected the men, horrified, to
turn round and call out to the people in the words of the angel, ‘See
thou do it not, for I am thy fellow–servant. Worship God.’

       *       *       *       *       *

I believe, were it not that in all the Episcopalian congregations
abroad there is a large proportion who either do not belong to the
body, or belonging to it, thoroughly disapprove of the practices of the
Ritualists (spoken of by the Roman Catholics as ‘our first cousins’),
there might be more latitude taken. But this reason should go a good
deal further and put an end to it altogether, because it has a direct
tendency to prevent those who cannot reconcile their conscience to
giving even the semblance of approval by attending service, from coming
to the chapel in which they prevail, and which may be the only one in
the place.

       *       *       *       *       *

All these and any further observations, though made tenderly, must be
taken as by one who does not belong to the Episcopalian communion, and
as indicating perhaps the impressions formed by strangers or by those
belonging to other denominations.

       *       *       *       *       *

The practice now so common, but I believe originally not either
intended or observed, of reading the Litany and Communion Service in
addition to the ordinary Morning Service, is very general abroad,
and, conveniently for lazy or careless clergymen, shoves the sermon
into a corner, so that, losing importance, it becomes short and is
commonplace, being seldom striking or impressive, although this
orthodox flatness is occasionally transgressed, sometimes singularly.
We once heard a sermon on Saint Michael almost leading up to the
worship of angels, and at Mentone a stranger one afternoon occupying
the pulpit spoke in eulogy of war at a time when war or peace were
trembling in the balance, and there was little need to inflame some
minds.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Episcopal churches there is usually a printed notice in every
pew to the effect that the income of the chaplaincy is dependent on
the offertory, and at every service (even, I believe, on week–days) a
collection is made by sending up the collecting plate through every
pew. While this is done, the congregation, or the major part, stands,
although perhaps not one in a hundred could assign any feasible reason
for doing so, and the minister for whose benefit the collection is made
reads out at intervals certain verses of Scripture. The collecting
plates with their contents are taken to him, and by him are deposited
on the altar, and afterwards carried by him to the vestry. To say that
this practice produces more, is only to act on the Roman Catholic
doctrine that the end justifies the means. In other places, such as in
Paris, the custom, in better taste, is to hold out a plate at the door
as the congregation retires.

The hours of service on Sunday are generally at 11 A.M. and 3 P.M.
If the second service be taken in the evening, it is not always so
arranged as to avoid trenching on the hotel dinner hour. In the Riviera
it is invariably in the afternoon, and it is kept short so as to allow
invalids to get home some time before sunset of the winter months. The
morning service is always well attended; but the afternoon service
(except in such places as Cannes and Mentone, and even there, too, to a
certain extent) is, in Episcopal churches, deserted, and there is only
a sprinkling of people in the pews. I have at one place seen only a
single person besides ourselves and those officiating; at others, only
a few, and probably none of them belonging to the Episcopal Church. In
these cases, sometimes only the Evening Service is read.

       *       *       *       *       *

Out of Paris and Rome, there is hardly a ‘Dissenting’ Church
represented; and as the worship of the other churches does not
fundamentally differ, it may be convenient, in what I am about to
say, to design and classify them all as Presbyterian. Putting out of
view such places as Paris, Florence, and Rome, those attending the
Presbyterian services are comparatively few in number; and this is
partly attributable to the congregations being drawn from a smaller
community, and from a nation in which, among the better classes, from
whose ranks to a large extent travellers are drawn, Episcopalianism
is, to a considerable extent, considered fashionable. Assuming the
population of England to be seven times that of Scotland, the seventeen
Scotch Church stations form just about the fair proportion as compared
with the 120 English Church stations; while upon the same calculation,
the numbers of those who should attend Scotch services ought to be only
one–seventh, or, say, 10 for every 70. In this view of it, the Scotch
churches are fairly enough represented. But, of course, this is not a
practical view, and it is obvious that there must be great difficulty
in maintaining, with so few supporters, stations in not very populous
towns.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Fielding’s time, Thwackum’s definition of religion might very well
represent general opinion in England, at least among Episcopalians.
By religion, he said, ‘I mean the Christian religion, and not only
the Christian religion, but the Protestant religion; and not only the
Protestant religion, but the Church of England.’ The idea dictating
this expression finds utterance more recently in Dean Hook saying,
with reference to an interview with Dr. Chalmers, ‘It would be
contrary to my principles to hear him preach.’ Many still would
shrink from entering a Presbyterian or Dissenting church, though they
are themselves Dissenters when across the Scottish border, where all
sects are on the same level, no sect affecting a religious superiority
over another, or being conscious of any social separation from others.
But when bishops have quietly gone to hear popular Scotch ministers
like Dr. Guthrie, and when men like Dean Stanley have even conducted
Presbyterian service in Scotland, it shows that this narrow and
unchristian illiberality of feeling is passing away. Presbyterians
and Dissenters in general take a large and liberal view, and do not
hesitate to go, at least occasionally, to an English Episcopal chapel;
and where it is conducted with simplicity and reverence, they even
enjoy a casual attendance, and hearing the fine old service of the
English Church, although after having had to go repeatedly they are
glad to get back to the less formal worship to which they have been
accustomed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, does not all this suggest for consideration whether it would
not be possible, in the smaller places at least, to combine the
Scotch and English services in such a way as would enable all to meet
in common. There are marked peculiarities in both, distinguishing
them, no doubt—peculiarities which at home will take long, by mutual
reconcilement, to efface; but when people are from home, there is a
tendency to meet more on common ground and feel members of the same
great community. Thus it is not uncommon, at least in Scotland, in
large hydropathic establishments, very much to the satisfaction of all,
to have the whole company assembled on a Sunday evening for a simple
worship by reading of Scripture, singing of hymns, extempore prayer,
and a sermon or address by a Presbyterian minister.

       *       *       *       *       *

Apart from the objection which Presbyterians have to a service which
is wholly read, and is therefore apt to degenerate into ceremonious
worship, there is not a great deal in what is usually read to which
they would take exception. The absolution would be better out, as
having a tendency to mislead,[15] and it grates upon unaccustomed ears
to hear the words of the prosaic version of the Psalms contained in the
Prayer Book substituted for the far grander and more poetical words of
the Authorized Version. But the Prayer Book, till reformed or revised,
would need to be taken as it stands. There would be, however, no need
for adding to the morning or evening service the communion service—that
might be reserved for those who desired to remain one Sunday in the
month for the Episcopal communion, the Presbyterians taking another
Sunday in the month for their communion. Nor need the Litany be always
used. Then, with regard to the remainder of the service, why not have
a Presbyterian minister, when he could be got (and sometimes there
are even men of eminence going about), to take it alternately, or
otherwise, with the Episcopalian, by giving a short suitable extempore
prayer before sermon, and then preaching a sermon according to his own
usage—in other words, adopting the mode of service practised in the
Rev. Newman Hall’s church, London.

       *       *       *       *       *

Besides other and higher good, this alternate preaching might benefit
even the ministers themselves of both communions. The great fault
among Episcopalian clergymen is that, in the generality of cases,
what they read has no pretence or aim at preaching, but consists
rather of a string of meagre platitudes, of sentiments which nobody
would controvert, a dry homily read without feeling or animation, and
having no intention of reaching the soul or heart of the hearers. The
ministers of the other communions have, as a rule, a higher estimate
of the duty of the preacher; but they do not always have the power or
the perception of the means of carrying it out successfully. Among
men of mediocrity, the idea seems to be to occupy a long statutory
three–quarters of an hour in a stiff, formal, methodical fashion
of dividing and exhausting the subject, and an equally formal and
unskilful, and therefore ineffective, application and address. While
added to ignorance of the arts of arresting and maintaining attention
and of persuading an audience, Presbyterian divines too often do not
choose the most suitable subjects of discourse. Might not even the
spirit of emulation evoke better things?

       *       *       *       *       *

It is too much the custom in churches in Scotland, after sermon,
to close with a hymn, a prayer, and an anthem. After an impressive
sermon, it seems only calculated to drive out the impression to have,
immediately after, the same subject and the same thoughts droned out by
the congregation in a melancholy paraphrase to a doleful tune, followed
up by the blare and fanfare of an elaborate high–sounding anthem
performed by the choir according to book. The English method, where all
this would be more appropriate, is to close quietly. But sometimes the
minister stops suddenly short, and with startling rapidity utters, ‘Now
to God the Father,’ etc. However, the rule is, whether with or without
this invocation, to close with either benediction, or a short prayer
and benediction. We did not often go to the west church at Mentone,
though near to us, because the flavour of the service inclined to be
‘high’; but the closing there was always pleasing. After the minister
had pronounced the benediction, and before the congregation rose from
their knees, the choir (composed principally of young ladies with good
and trained voices), to the accompaniment of the organ, in subdued
tones, so suitable to parting with reverent step and slow, sung to a
soft sweet tune the following simple, perhaps child–like verse:—

‘Lord, keep us safe this night, Secure from all we fear; May angels
guard us while we sleep, Till morning light appear.’



FIRST WINTER IN THE RIVIERA.

VI.

_LONDON TO SOUTH OF FRANCE._


SELECTING the route to Paris by Folkestone, we left London on the
afternoon of 1st November 1876, and slept at Folkestone. The steamboat
was to sail the following morning at 9.15, and to have proceeded direct
would have involved leaving London at the inconveniently early hour
of 7.10 A.M. The train by Dover and Calais departs fixedly at 7.40
A.M., so that one is not much better off by taking that route. But on
proceeding by Boulogne, there is a chance that the state of the tide
may throw the time of sailing to a later hour; only when this is the
case, it involves arriving at the journey’s end late in the evening.
The train in connection with the boat by which we were to sail, was due
in Paris at 4.40 afternoon—a nice time at which to arrive.

       *       *       *       *       *

One does not get a chance of observing whether there be any attractions
about Folkestone by just sleeping a night there. It may be a very
Paradise upon earth; and, from its facilities for popping over to
France, to its residents it probably is. One cannot say, but it does
not look like it. Possibly the quarter to which summer visitors resort
may be more inviting than the portion disclosed at the harbour. Anyhow,
it seems a less dreary, out–of–the–world place than Newhaven. But
Britannia rebels a little at her children quitting their native land to
get enamoured with strange countries, and frowns upon their departure;
for these nights before crossing are by no means pleasurable. One is
brought into rather close proximity to the dreaded passage; and if
the wind should howl or be even but moderately fresh, or if the sea,
unwitting of its gigantean power, be only sporting in joyous freedom,
the prospect for the morrow is far from assuring. Then it is a busy,
bustling, uncomfortable scene at the hotel. Piles of luggage strew
the hall. Apprehensive passengers are arriving by successive trains,
and others in a woe–begone condition, and in all sorts and manners of
wraps and disguises, by the boats. They are dining, teaing, suppering
in a confused disagreeable way in the coffee–room. Anxious waiters and
active chamber–maids are hurrying about. Porters meet you in narrow
corners laden with luggage. There is nothing to invite you to remain
in the public room. There is nothing to induce you to venture long
out of doors. People depart early to bed. But the search for petty
utilities by the feeble light of candle, the cramped bedroom, the
cheerless difference from home, produce a feeling of discomfort which,
combined with the early retirement, the noise and tramping about the
corridors, the creaking of ships’ gearing dimly heard, and the thoughts
arising,—which have little in them of the land of promise and more of
the morn,—all keep the pilgrim long restless upon bed; and, after an
unrefreshing night of broken sleep, he is glad to get up betimes for an
early breakfast, call, with twenty others simultaneously, for the bill,
settle it up quick if correct, and, after an impatient waiting for his
goods, which seem never likely to make their appearance, and seeing
that every little thing is brought along, to be off to the steamboat;
for nobody stays, unless in exceptional circumstances, such as pending
a storm, more than a night. After a little, the train arrives, and an
endless procession of unassorted passengers moves slowly on board;
the luggage and merchandise brought by it tediously follow. At last
the gangway is dragged ashore, the vessel is released, and, after the
usual backings and easings and tender movements, it tardily steams
out of harbour, increases its speed, and we sit looking on the land,
the return to which may be in the far future; and, thinking much of
dear friends from whom we have parted, we gradually, as the distance
widens, lose sight of Old England, and passing here and there a gallant
ship, with its snowy sails catching, fortunately for us, but a gentle
balmy breeze, we near the other—once hostile, now friendly—shore, and
landing find ourselves among a foreign race, and gazing upon foreign
habitations, and soon encountering foreign customs and institutions.

       *       *       *       *       *

We made the mistake of registering our luggage at London when we left
London, instead of taking it on with us to Folkestone and registering
it there for Paris. The consequence was that, on arrival of the train
at Paris, we were compelled to wait nearly an hour at the station,
which was cold, dark, and drafty, until all the luggage which had come
by the train by which we had arrived had been arranged, examined by
the _douaniers_, and delivered to their owners. We disconsolately saw
our luggage standing within a barred enclosure, but the men would on
no account touch it till then, and no doubt where thieves abound some
precaution of this kind is needful.

We had repeatedly visited Paris before, but in one respect it was new
to us—to see it in its wintry aspect. On former occasions, we had
visited it in the sunshine of summer. But how changed did it look
now! The trees were yellow with the tints of autumn, and were nearly
stripped of their foliage. The air was cold and frosty, and Paris
looked bleak and miserable. We spent one or two days in it; and one of
the places to which we paid a visit was beyond the range of ordinary
sight–seeing. The daughters of some Edinburgh friends were at a large
boarding–school in Paris, in the Faubourg d’Auteuil. We drove there
to see them, and after some search discovered the establishment, the
name of which, ‘Une Institution des Demoiselles,’ was painted up in
letters a yard high. It had quite a conventual aspect. The house was
entered through a narrow little door, hinged on a panel of a large
one (just like what one sees in the large door of a prison), which,
upon ringing the bell, was opened by a pull from the opposite side of
the court–yard, around which the buildings of the school were placed.
Crossing to the dwelling–house, we were shown into a parlour, where
our young friends shortly came to us. They were all habited in black,
with a red leather belt, being the uniform compulsory on all the pupils
while in school. They informed us there were 150 boarders, of whom only
17 were English. Having introduced us to one of the governesses, this
lady very kindly showed us all over the place. Ranges of large rooms
were occupied as bedrooms, containing a separate bed for each of the
young ladies—all kept in the highest order, and in white, spotless
purity. Separate adjoining rooms were fitted up as lavatories. Other
rooms were schoolrooms; others, dining–rooms, or _salles à manger_,
where the young people were then at lunch or early dinner, and
evidently enjoying a hearty meal. A separate building was kept as an
infirmary for the sick—a very prudent arrangement, where so many young
persons were brought together. For those who were in good health, there
was a large garden and playground attached to the house.

       *       *       *       *       *

On Monday, 6th November, having taken Gaze’s tickets from London to
Nice, we left Paris by the Lyons Railway, registering our heavy luggage
for Cannes; and we were free to travel to any station on the line to
Cannes, at which our tickets permitted us to stop, only taking with us
what we would require for a week by the way. Some people prefer making
the journey from Paris to Cannes, Nice, or Mentone without break,
and say there is less fatigue in doing so; but it is a long journey,
occupying from Paris to Mentone—journeying by the express leaving at
11.20 A.M.—twenty–eight hours, arriving at Mentone at 3.24 next day.
For invalids in a feeble condition, it is in some respects preferable.
It is only one fatigue to be overcome, and it avoids the risk of
exposure to damp or rain. In cold, winter weather at Paris, the one
journey is certainly preferable, and at the end of it people arrive in
what is by contrast a genial summer. So proceeding, passengers have,
besides other shorter stoppages, an interval of half an hour at Dijon,
at 5.45 P.M., to dine; 25 minutes at Lyons, at 10.18 P.M.; and the
following morning, at 6.30 A.M., 1 hour 25 minutes at Marseilles to
wash and breakfast.

       *       *       *       *       *

We desired to take the journey leisurely, and to see a little by
the way. After the usual difficulty on French railways of getting
accommodation in the train, we proceeded as far as Dijon. There is
little to interest one by the route. Fontainebleau, at which the
express trains do not stop, is passed soon after leaving Paris, but
is nearly two miles from the station. Its palace with its gardens is
really the only thing worth seeing, but to see them involves spending a
day at the town. If not pushed for time, they are, however, well worthy
of a visit. We stopped a night on our way home to see them. The palace
is extensive, consisting of four distinct but united chateaux, erected
at different times, with splendid suites of rooms full of historical
interest. The forest, which covers 25,000 acres, is disappointing. The
charges at the hotel to which we went, were as high as those of any in
Paris.

       *       *       *       *       *

We rested the first night at Dijon, a convenient halting–place. The
Hotel du Jura is near to the railway station, and is most comfortable.
The landlord of it is attentive, and his charges moderate. Dijon was
the former residence of the Dukes of Burgundy, and is a curious old
place, well worthy of a visit for a day or two days. People often break
their journey at Dijon merely to sleep there, but, arriving at night
and departing next morning, do not always visit the town. A forenoon
may be very profitably spent in walking about its promenades and its
streets, with houses adorned by quaint carvings and architecture, and
seeing its large, massively–built churches, particularly St. Michael
and St. Benigne, and its interesting old public buildings. On the card
of the hotel there is a little plan of the town, in which the Place
Grande is shown about its centre. Here there is a large edifice which
was formerly the palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, now the Hotel de
Ville, one part of which has been converted into a museum and picture
gallery, the most interesting portion being the old banqueting hall of
the dukes, with its colossal chimney–piece and its monuments, carrying
one away back to the times of boisterous mirth and probably lawless
deeds.

Dijon stands high, and the weather being cold on our journey south, we
were glad of fires. We considered we had made a mistake in travelling
so late in the season. Had we started about the middle of October, it
would have been better. The fact is, the larger part of the people
going for health to the Riviera make the grievous mistake of delaying
their departure till winter has commenced. Many, indeed, do not come
to the Riviera till the month of January, in order to enjoy the
gratification—dearly purchased, in some cases—of a Christmas at home.
By doing so, they are obliged to travel through France during a season
when the weather is often piercingly chill, while they are exposed in
crossing the Channel to the risk of encountering winter storms.

       *       *       *       *       *

We proceeded next day to Lyons, passing through a rich wine country,
in the midst of which Macon lies, where, at the station, on high
days and holidays, the women may be seen wearing a witch–like hat of
peculiar build. The cycle of fashion will no doubt in due course make
the whole world acquainted with it, till which time the world may wait
and wonder. It may require some fortitude to don this sweet marvel of
a bonnet for the first time. But what observation will not the ladies
brave to follow their leader in fashion!

       *       *       *       *       *

At Lyons it was keenly cold. There is not much to be seen at the
ancient city, situated on the banks of the Rhone and Saone, which
effect their junction just below it. The railway journey from Dijon
occupies five or six hours, according to the trains. We arrived in the
dark, and drove to the Hotel Collet, one of the best in the place. It
is situated in the main street, which may be said to be the only good
street of shops, formerly called the Rue Napoleon, and now since the
Republic, which changes even the names of streets, the Rue Nationale.
On entering the large hall, round which were distributed palm trees and
other tropical plants in tubs and pots, we had the first suggestion of
approaching a southern clime.

Lyons is populous without being lively, and stately without being
imposing. We took a close carriage next morning, and drove about for
nearly four hours to see what could be seen—almost the whole of which
time was occupied in visiting the junction of the rivers and ascending
Fourvières, a steep hill on the right bank of the Saone, from which
an extensive panoramic view is in clear weather obtained, and Mont
Blanc, about 130 miles distant, is sometimes seen—its visibility being
a circumstance symptomatic of approaching wet weather, as we found
did happen on a subsequent occasion, when the white mountain was
seen as we were nearing Lyons from Geneva. Lyons at this season was
looking very dreary, and the cold necessitated our burning fires in
the bedrooms. On a former visit, in summer, the heat had been almost
unendurable. In the evening of the second day, we found the large
central hall of the hotel—which was lighted from the roof, and afforded
access by encircling corridors and concealed stairs to the different
floors—was covered in by an awning, and the _salle à manger_ was laid
for a magnificent dinner. It turned out that the principal rooms were
engaged for a wedding party (_noces_), the ordinary guests being
conducted to other rooms. It was, however, a very quiet, solemn–looking
affair; although the number assembled was large, they made no noisy
demonstrations. At breakfast–time next morning the waiters seemed but
half aroused.

       *       *       *       *       *

We left Lyons by train at 11 o’clock forenoon. Our through tickets
required to be _vise’d_ at the booking–office before they would admit
us to the _salle–d’attente_. The route from Lyons southward is very
interesting. The railway skirts the Rhone nearly the whole way. The
river has been said to vary in width from a quarter of a mile to two
miles, although from the railway it does not appear to be so wide. In
the sunshine everything looked beautiful. The farther south we got,
the foliage became fresher, and it was very charming to see the river
rolling softly on, fringed by trees, and through valleys, from which
rise the vine–clad hills. We passed the Côtes d’Or, and other regions,
where the famous Burgundy wines are grown. Some of the mountain ranges
are lofty. We thought how much more beautiful would the river appear
during summer months, and our wish as regards time was actually
fulfilled the following September; but, alas! it was then obscured by
clouds and rain.

       *       *       *       *       *

The railway to Marseilles passes several interesting places, and among
others, the towns of Orange, Avignon, and Arles, which all contain
relics of Roman occupation. On occasion of our going south in September
1877, we stopped at Avignon, which is 230 kilometres, or about 140
miles, from Lyons,[16] the train taking about six hours. When one can
manage it, Avignon is a place well worth stopping to see. Leaving the
station, we drove through some narrow dirty streets till we reached the
Hotel de l’Europe, the situation of which is not at first inviting; but
it is considered the best hotel, and our rooms were very comfortable.
It was kept by a young landlady, who spoke English, and was very
attentive. On the following morning we took a cab to drive about and
see the town, and, _inter alia_, saw the Calvi Museum, which contains
many paintings, some of which are good, and a large collection of coins
and books. Then we went to the cathedral, which is well worth a visit.
Here are the tombs of several popes. The construction of the gallery of
the church is peculiar. I desired to have a photograph of the interior
at a shop, but they had it not. Photographs, however, were sold outside
the cathedral, and possibly I might have procured it there; but we had
so often found photographs sold at the show places themselves so dear,
that I had not asked for them at the cathedral door. It does, however,
sometimes happen, as probably it did here, that they can only be had at
the place itself; and when time is limited, it is better to secure what
may be wanted, especially interiors, at once. The pope’s old palace
adjoins the cathedral. This is a large building with very massive
walls 100 feet high. It is now occupied as a caserne or barrack for
French soldiers. The lofty rooms, for greater accommodation, have had a
floor interposed. The rooms, fitted up with beds and filled with the
soldiery, are in a very different condition from what they must at one
time have been when this was the papal residence. One of the rooms into
which we were shown, was the upper interposed half of what had formerly
been the chamber of torture of the Inquisition. There was nothing very
special now to be seen in this dismal unoccupied apartment, which at
one time echoed with the groans and cries of the tortured.

In the Place de l’Hotel de Ville, in the centre of the town, are a
handsome–looking theatre and other public buildings; but one of the
most interesting objects in Avignon is the old Roman bridge across
the river. Avignon was a fortified city, and is still surrounded by
walls having many gates, and in our drive we passed outside the walls
till we reached the Roman bridge. Only part of it is now standing, the
remainder having, I presume, been swept away by floods. The river is
now crossed by a good modern bridge, not far from the site of the old
one, and conducts to a town upon the other bank of the river which
forms a suburb to Avignon.

       *       *       *       *       *

We did not, in November 1876, stop at Avignon; but being then desirous
of seeing the old Roman city of Nismes, we procured through the guard,
when stopping at the station of Valence, supplementary tickets enabling
us to change at Tarascon, which we reached in the dusk about five
o’clock. Here we had to change carriages, and cross the platform,
and enter a dingy station or _salle–d’attente_, and to wait wearily
for nearly an hour till the train proceeded to Nismes. It was cold,
and we had, as usual, no assistance from porters with our _petits
bagages_. Nismes is about an hour’s journey by rail from Tarascon.
The mistral was blowing, and it was bitterly cold. The coldness of
this wind is, I believe, greatly produced by the cutting down of the
trees on the mountains in the south of France; and if so, the sooner
they are replanted the better. It is piercingly felt all over the
south of France, even Mentone, at its extreme east point, not being
wholly sheltered from its influence. I fancy that in the Roman times,
when such places as Nismes, Avignon, and Arles were selected for
habitation, the mistral was not felt, at least to the extent it is now.
It prevented our invalid from leaving the house while at Nismes on this
occasion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nismes, as a capital city of a department of France, is a town
of importance. It is the seat of the departmental courts, and it
possesses various educational establishments as well as a variety of
manufactures. It is beautifully situated in a fertile district. The
town itself is attractive. The principal streets are wide and clean,
and the Boulevards are pleasant; but it is as an ancient city, full of
vestiges of old Roman occupation, that it possesses charms to attract
the stranger.

The most famous of these Roman remains is the Arena, and attention is
naturally drawn to it from being situated fronting a large open space
in the heart of the town, called the Esplanade. It was the first of the
Roman amphitheatres we had at that time seen. Exposed to the mistral,
it was then intensely cold; and one could hardly suppose that it would
have been built on that site if it had not been at the time a place to
which the people could go without fear of colds (for, odd though it
may sound, I fancy the grand old Roman nose did suffer occasionally
from colds). However, an arena seems to have been then as necessary
an appendage to a Roman town as a church is to an English village.
The building is oval in shape, and is 412 feet long by 306 feet in
breadth, and rises in upwards of 30 massive tiers from the centre to
the circumference, resting on strong stone arches, and containing
perfect means of ingress and egress—every separate external arch having
been, no doubt, a separate vomitory. The building is computed to have
accommodated 32,000 persons. The arena, though in part ruinous, is
still in a very fair state of preservation, but is undergoing a process
of restoration by the insertion of new stones in place of the old ones,
to strengthen the structure, which, as the old stone is grey with age
and the new stone is a beautiful pearly white, looks most incongruous.
One could almost wish that the building were let alone, although it is
to be hoped that in the course of years the new stone will assume a
colour in keeping with the rest. Perhaps it might be stained to bring
it into harmony. Of this same kind of stone, two beautiful churches
have recently been built: one of them, St. Perpetué, is completed and
in use; the other, a very large one,—I presume to be occupied as a
cathedral, with a double spire far in advance when we saw it first,—was
in the following year not yet finished. The designs of these churches,
particularly in their spires, are remarkably graceful. There is another
very elegant modern building adjoining the Arena, the Courts of
Justice, which also fronts the Esplanade, in the centre of which open
space has been erected a very handsome modern marble fountain at a cost
of £10,000.

Leaving the Arena and passing up the Boulevard St. Antoine, we arrive
at the _Maison Carrée_, or the Square House—a small but beautiful
temple, with a peristyle of the Corinthian order, in admirable
preservation. It is situated in a space enclosed by railings, and is
occupied as a museum and picture gallery, for which it affords but
limited room. From the Maison Carrée the visitor proceeds through
public gardens to the Roman Baths, which are in wonderful condition,
although the marble statues have nearly all lost their noses, the
common fate of all marble statues long exposed to the weather. These
baths are very elegant enclosures of water, now looking very stagnant
and green. Upon the west side are the ruins of what has been termed a
temple of Diana, in which are preserved many of the antiquities found
in the vicinity of it. To the south issues, through an elegant iron
rail and gateway, a very long wide avenue or boulevard called _Cours
Neuf_, on a straight line, flanked by trees which, when completed,
will extend, I think, a full mile in length. The north extremity is
terminated by a hill, reached by magnificent stairs, and commanding a
fine view of the Baths or fountains, of the long wide avenue beyond and
the surrounding country. This hill is surmounted by the _Tour Magne_,
the ruin of a building the object of which has not been definitely
ascertained.

Nismes in summer in fine weather is very hot, but is a charming
residence for a few days. We stayed two nights on this occasion at
the Hotel Luxembourg, which is recommended to English travellers. The
men–servants here, who are also the _femmes–de–chambres_, had quite an
Italian look and cut, and were in their morning attire very comically
dressed in a short jacket, somewhat like those schoolboys used to wear.

       *       *       *       *       *

We returned _en route_ for Marseilles by Tarascon, passing by the
way several stone quarries and fields in which olive trees had been
planted by way of experiment. These were the first olive trees we had
seen. They were young and short, and were disappointing, as in fact
are all olive trees, however large or old they be, to those who, like
ourselves, having read of sitting under the olive tree as a species of
luxurious enjoyment, found them very different from our expectations,
being in leaf like the willow. But their existence indicated approach
to a warmer climate.

       *       *       *       *       *

The old Roman town of Arles lies between Tarascon and Marseilles, and
is said to be, though I doubt it, as much worth seeing as Nismes; but,
owing to the difficulty of finding trains to fit in to meet our time,
we have not in passing visited it.

       *       *       *       *       *

It rained heavily all the way from Tarascon to Marseilles, when it
fortunately cleared up. Part of the way is flanked by what appears to
be barren desert land, possibly occasioned by the ground being high and
level, so that it is not watered by rivers.

       *       *       *       *       *

At Marseilles, we found the _commissionaire_ of the Hotel du Louvre et
de la Paix, to which we had written for rooms, waiting. Owing to some
odd arrangement then prevailing, all carriages were kept out of sight
till the luggage was sorted, so that we were fortunate to get him to
send for one. The hotel we found to be a large many–storeyed one, but
it had a lift. There is another large hotel at Marseilles, to which we
went on the next occasion. It is hard to say which is the better. The
Noailles has a large and beautiful _salle à manger_, and a good–sized
drawing–room. Both are expensive. We found at Marseilles, as at Dijon,
Lyons, Avignon, Nismes, and afterwards at Hyères, that the charge for
_table–d’hôte_ dinner included _vin ordinaire_. We had an agreeable
surprise at dinner in meeting two families—old friends—from Bristol.

       *       *       *       *       *

Marseilles is seldom visited, except as a place of halt for further
travel. After staying one or two nights, those arriving depart either
landward by railway or seaward by steamboat to other parts. But it
is well worth at least one day’s visit to see it thoroughly. It is a
very ancient city, being upwards of 2500 years old, and the population
is above 300,000. In contrast to Lyons, it has all the appearance of
a busy place. The principal streets are always crowded, the port is
the largest in the Mediterranean, and may be considered the Liverpool
of France, though the docks are not so extensive. On occasion of our
first visit, the weather was cold and wet, and we had only a Sunday
there, so that we did not see much; but when we paid it a second visit
in October 1877, we had a little more time, and drove round the town
and docks. The ancient port is a large natural harbour filled with
good–sized vessels, while additional docks of large extent stretch
away to the westward. Outside them, a breakwater has been built, which
extends about two miles in length. Bædeker says that, on an average,
nearly 20,000 vessels, of an aggregate burden of 2,000,000 tons, enter
and quit Marseilles annually. Our driver pointed out as we passed, in
one of the docks (the Basin de la Joillette), a P. & O. steamer; and
it would have been interesting to have visited it, but we were afraid
we should not have had time. A large cathedral was being built facing
the docks, and will be a very prominent object to those arriving at
Marseilles by sea. Another very prominent and striking object, and from
which a fine view of the town, harbour, and district is to be had, is
an eminence to the south–east, crowned by the Church of Notre Dame
de la Garde. Leaving the docks, we proceeded round the town to the
Palais de Longchamps, which stands on a height. It is a large, elegant
columnar structure, with spacious staircases leading up to and through
it to the gardens beyond. The palace contains two museums. A fine view
is obtained from the top.

Marseilles is a busy commercial and manufacturing place. The central
streets are always bustling—teeming with life. An interesting part of
it is the flower market, where the women are to be seen perched up
on tables or platforms tying up their pretty bouquets of flowers and
selling them to purchasers. The heights to the north of the town are
bare, but, together with the islands which stud the sea outside the
harbour, give picturesqueness to the view. But although it stands as
far south as Mentone and San Remo, or rather farther south, it wants
the shelter of the health resorts on the Riviera, and suffers severely
from exposure to the mistral.

       *       *       *       *       *

On leaving Marseilles for Cannes, we had not gone far by railway before
we obtained a complete change of temperature. It was like passing from
winter into summer, and from dreary stony mountain ranges to verdant
slopes covered with mature olive trees, and with orange and lemon
trees—all indicative of a warmer climate. We did not on this first
occasion stop at any place between Marseilles and Cannes, but on the
following year visited Hyères, and it will therefore be adverted to in
the sequel.

       *       *       *       *       *

On this first occasion, we left by an early train on the Monday morning
with our friends. We had much difficulty in getting seat–room, with
no assistance from guards. The carriages were filled with people who
had travelled all night from Paris. In the compartment which fell
to our lot, the remainder of the seats were all filled by French
gentlemen who were or had been smoking, and were begrimed with dust,
and looked like very ogres. The morning was splendid, the sun, pouring
out his beams in rich effulgence, gave gladness to the bright scene,
which we especially felt after the cold weather to which we had, ever
since our arrival in France, been exposed. After leaving Toulon, the
railway goes inland and does not again touch the coast till it reaches
Frejus, 91 kilometres, or above 50 miles on; but the country is very
beautiful. This route, between Marseilles and Genoa, and on to Pisa,
passes through constantly–occurring tunnels. It is said that between
Marseilles and Genoa alone there are no less than 200, and it certainly
looks like it. The train is for ever rushing into and darting out
of tunnels; and as French people never think of closing windows in
tunnels, and always put and keep down the glass, the transit through
them is very cold and trying, particularly to invalids or to those who
may be afflicted with a cold in the head. After leaving Frejus, the
railway skirts the coast, and as the train emerges from a tunnel, the
passengers have the opportunity of seeing the most lovely bays formed
by the jutting promontories and the blue Mediterranean. In saying they
have the opportunity, however, this is a chance depending upon whether
there are no foreigners at the windows. If there be, most mercilessly,
and without leave asked, much less obtained, down go the blue blinds
on both sides of the carriage. Fortunately, on this first occasion (I
was not so lucky on the second), I got seated near the south or sea
window, and managed to get one of the three curtains kept up; but just
as we approached within sight of Cannes, where the view was becoming
exquisitely beautiful, a little of the bright sun darted in: the
intruder was expelled in double haste, and the blind most uncourteously
and ruthlessly pulled down. It saved some sunburnt ogre from being, if
possible, a little more browned or reddened, and it signified not that
his fellow–passengers were deprived of an enjoyment into which he could
not enter.



VII.

_CANNES._


WHEN we arrived at Cannes, we could see by an occasional glimpse
through a chink in the obstructive blinds, that everything was bright
and beautiful and gay in the sunshine. It was quite a new scene to us,
and gave a charming idea of Riviera life.

Waiting the arrival of the Paris train at Cannes, there are often,
besides the usual very long row of omnibuses, many private carriages
and always carriages for hire. Relatives had preceded us by about
eight or ten days, and we desired, if possible, to join them. Just
outside the station, looking for one of them, I was at once besieged
by porters wanting to take our _petits bagages_. I asked one by whom
I was importuned, how much he demanded to carry them to our friends’
quarters, little more than half a mile off. ‘Five francs.’ I doubt
if I thanked him sufficiently; and we drove off in one of the little
carriages which were there waiting employment, the fare for which was
1 franc 50 centimes. The house in which our friends were was full, and
we found accommodation in the neighbouring Hotel du Pavillon. This
is a large, good, first–class hotel, frequented by English people,
and is situated on the west bay, with a garden, such as most of the
hotels at Cannes have, in which were palm and orange trees, the latter
bearing their golden fruit. They sent for our heavy luggage, which
had been lying for a week at the station, suffering no loss save that
of a new rope which had been tied round one of the boxes, and which
was feloniously stolen and theftuously away taken, as in Scotland Her
Majesty’s advocate for Her Majesty’s interest would have charged the
culprits if he had only known who they were.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cannes is very picturesquely situated. The old town, which is not
savoury, fortunately rests out of sight upon an elevation or ridge
which is crowned by the cathedral church and two old towers, which give
a distinctive mark to the place, and are seen in most representations
of Cannes. From this height, and still better from greater heights
behind the town, an admirable view is obtained all round. But taking
our position on the ridge, we find the hill slopes down from it
away to the south, and reaching the road below, extends seaward by
a short projection, partly natural and partly artificial, forming
a breakwater on one side, and pier on the other, terminated by a
lighthouse. The ridge and this projection divide the waters into two
distinct portions, constituting the east and west bays. About two to
three miles to the southward, Les Isles de Lerins, two long strips of
islands—Ste. Marguerite, with its fortifications fronting the town,
and St. Honorat—lie stretched along, giving a natural shelter on the
south to the little port of Cannes, and, except in the neighbourhood
of the fort, both covered with tall pine trees. The harbour or port,
surrounded on two sides by lofty houses, warehouses, and public
buildings or hotels, is right under us, on the east side of the ridge,
and does not aspire to receiving more than a few sloops or vessels
of small burden and a large number of boats, apparently intended
principally for pleasure sailing—although, if this be their purpose,
the number seemed out of all proportion to the slender demand. On the
north side of this bay, the new town—the business part of Cannes—has
been built. The main street, long, and lined with numerous shops, runs
through the centre of it, with streets branching off right and left.
It is the highway to Nice, and forms part of the famous Corniche road,
which proceeds from Marseilles to Genoa along the coast. Immediately
behind the town, the ground rises, and at one part becomes a low hill
crowned by a few straggling houses and solitary trees. A handsome
promenade has been constructed along the beach, upon which a few of the
best hotels and some magnificent villas, with their large interposing
gardens full of exotic trees and plants, are situated, imparting a
bright and gay look to the walk. About a mile and a half or two miles
to the eastward of our point of view, we see a range of hills, the
shoulder of which is called California. This range, covered with pine
trees, affords shelter to Cannes from the east wind; and from its
extremity at California, the hill slopes sharply down, and then the
ground runs far out into the water, forming a projecting arm. The last
portion, of level ground, called the Croisette, reaches to a point
not far from the island of St. Marguerite, and constitutes a natural
breakwater to the bay and harbour on the east side. Some miles farther
to the eastward, the long, low, hilly, narrow, projecting promontory
called the Antibes protrudes still more into the sea, and affords
additional protection, while it creates another fine bay, greater in
extent, in which a fleet of French men–of–war is often seen lying at
anchor or at exercise.

[Illustration: THE ESTRELLES FROM S^[T] HONORAT, CANNES.]

On the west side of the old ridge, the sea retreats in a large,
beautiful bay, called the Gulf of Napoule,—or more commonly, the west
bay,—the west boundary of which, several miles distant across the
sea, is formed by the glorious range of mountains called the Estérels
or Estrelles. These stretch out a long way seaward, and are always a
picturesque feature in views of Cannes. They are covered principally
with a rich dark green, which, I suppose, is due to the existence
of pine forests; but in some parts, especially towards the ocean,
they are bare, steep, and rocky. Irregular, and in some places even
ragged–looking in outline, and varying in height, some of them are
said to be as high as 4000 feet. Though much less extensive, they are
to Cannes very much what the mountains of Mull are to Oban. Only they
have not the constantly–changing aspect which confers so great a charm
upon the Scottish hills. This is partly owing to the greater serenity
of the atmosphere, three–fourths of the days being clear and sunny,
without a cloud; but chiefly because the sun gets so soon round upon
the mountains that they are early in the forenoon thrown into shade,
giving no doubt a murkier and grander aspect, but making the separate
markings less distinctly visible. The Estrelles have been photographed
as in moonlight, in which they are very beautiful, but the moonlight
effect so shown is a mere trick of the photographer.

To the north of Cannes, and about three or four miles inland, the
village of Cannet lies upon rising ground; and, I presume, from being
away from the sea, it is preferred by some invalids to Cannes. Farther
off, and distant about nine or ten miles from Cannes, the town of
Grasse, famous for its manufacture of perfumes, is built among gardens
devoted to the culture, for their essences, of roses, orange trees,
heliotropes, and other odoriferous plants. Indeed, Cannes itself
manufactures perfumes, and around are some gardens filled with a short
or stunted species of acacia, growing to about the size of a large
gooseberry bush, and bearing globular yellow flowers from which perfume
is extracted. Beyond Grasse, the landward panorama is bounded on the
north by distant mountain chains.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is at all times difficult to realize a place from description,
even with the aid of the pictorial art; but perhaps from this short
delineation it may be perceived that there is a marked character about
the site, locality, and features of Cannes. But when to the natural
formation the glorious colouring is added which it derives from the
brilliant blue of the ocean and the scarcely less brilliant blue of the
sky in the bright sunny days which usually mark the weather; the rich
varied greens of the abounding foliage; the tropical character of the
gardens; and the enlivening effect produced by the often fanciful forms
of the houses, painted in luminous whites and yellows picked out upon
their jalousies with green and other contrasting tints, and glowing in
their red–tiled roofs, it will at once be seen that there must be a
signal beauty and picturesqueness about the landscape which cannot fail
to arrest the eyes of those to whom this phase of scenery is new.

       *       *       *       *       *

But Cannes was never a town of any importance until Lord Brougham took
up his residence there. It happened in the year 1831 that his lordship
was detained at Cannes by the prevalence somewhere of a pestilence.
He was so much struck with the natural features of the landscape and
the suitability of the place for winter residence, and so impressed,
that he soon thereafter acquired ground on the west bay, where he
built a house, to which he used regularly every winter to resort, and
where, on 7th May 1868, he died. His example brought many English
people to the locality, and Cannes is now in the winter season such
a place of fashionable resort for English and Scotch families, that
it may be regarded as completely an English colony, there being but
a sprinkling of other nationalities. It is accordingly in both bays
studded with villas, and filled with numerous large hotels, the latter
said to number upwards of fifty. There are no less than three English
(Episcopal) churches, and in the west bay, near the town (the handsome
gift of Sir John M’Neill, who has a residence in the suburbs), a Scotch
Presbyterian church. There are also both French and German churches.
The population of Cannes has increased wonderfully since Lord Brougham
led the fashion to it, and it is now, I believe, considerably over
10,000. A monument has been erected to his lordship in the cemetery
where he is buried, and a marble bust of him has, on a long square
pillar pedestal, been placed in the public gardens of the west bay.
When we were last at Cannes (November 1877), it was proposed by the
municipal authorities to hold a centenary celebration of the birth of
Lord Brougham as the virtual founder of the town; and this festival has
since (April 1879) been held, lasting four days. Nor is it any wonder
that the Cannais should feel themselves under a debt of gratitude to
the great English, or rather Scottish, lord. The following paragraph
from an account of the fête, contained in the _Scotsman_ of 4th April
1879, speaks for itself:—

‘It is a matter of unquestionable fact, that, since the days of Lord
Brougham’s example to his countrymen, prosperity has flowed steadily
in upon the fortunate people of Cannes. Those of them who were lucky
enough to possess land, have had golden opportunities, and must have
made ample fortunes out of the weak–chested but strong–pursed stranger
to whom this winter climate is simply a necessity of life. The price
of ground here, fit to build upon, is almost fabulous. Eight to ten
thousand pounds an acre is a common rate for small lots near the town,
and a site was quite recently sold, in the principal boulevard, at
the enormous rate of £19,200 per acre. Even in the remotest suburbs,
outside the cab radius, nothing available for building can be had under
10 francs a metre, or £1600 an acre.’

The Corniche road runs westward through, for upwards of two miles, a
nearly continuous line of charming villas, and thence on to Napoule,
upon the west of the bay of that name. Upon the right or east side of
this road, about half a mile from the old town ridge, which may be
said to bound on the west the town proper, the villa of Lord Brougham
may be seen standing at the top of a gentle slope, where it commands a
beautiful view of the bay and the Estrelles, though exposed to the west
winds. It is of good size, but nothing remarkable. We did not, however,
see the interior, nor does it seem to be shown to strangers. In being
enclosed by an iron railing towards the road, it offers an exemplary
exception to the rule, as nearly all the villas in that direction are
enclosed by high walls which shut out the sight of the grounds within,
and make the road for a long stretch dull walking. Nor is there a
footpath except for a short way, although one was, when we were last
there, in progress of formation, and very needful too, as after rain
the road is particularly muddy, so that walking in that direction is
not always inviting. But generally on an afternoon, when the occupants
of the villas are out driving, their gateways are left open, and
passers–by get glimpses into fascinating gardens exuberant with palm
and other tropical trees, which, freed from their unsightly enclosing
walls, would so enliven the way without the privacy of the inhabitants
being really disturbed.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the most delightful residences in this neighbourhood is the
chateau of the Duke of Vallombrosa. This Italian nobleman asked,
as the sole recompense of services rendered to the King of Italy,
the title which he now bears. His villa is in the castellated
style, and stands upon an eminence—a very picturesque object in the
landscape, and seen from all parts round. The grounds attached to the
house—extending, I suppose, to at least eight or ten acres, and the
oldest about Cannes—are, in the duke’s absence, open to visitors. To
those who have not previously seen any gardens of the kind, it appears
a sort of fairy–land, if such a term can be applied to a place where
much of the timber is gigantic. The vegetation is rich, luxuriant,
tropical, and the place looks delicious on a sunny day, under the
cool shelter afforded by the trees from the rays of the sun, while
here and there a fountain sends up its refreshing stream of water.
Below the battlemented castle terrace, a shady grotto has been built—a
cool retreat in hot weather, perhaps too cool to be safe. This garden
contains many lofty specimens of a tree recently introduced into the
Riviera, and everywhere to be seen there, called the Eucalyptus. A
relic of the Eocene period,[17] when everything was on a huge scale,
it shoots up with amazing rapidity, apparently something like ten
feet in a year, and I believe ultimately reaches sometimes a height
of nearly 500 feet. I have seen it stated in a colonial paper that
the largest known, grown in (I think, speaking from recollection)
New Zealand, has reached the height of 480 feet, and is claimed to
be the highest tree in the world. Probably it is not of great age,
as the growth of the Eucalyptus is much more rapid than that of the
Californian trees. As it matures, it changes the form of its leaf from
what it was when young, and sheds its bark. It possesses some very
health–bringing properties, or is an antidote to what is insalubrious,
and bears a beautiful white flower. In the duke’s gardens some of
these trees are very lofty. They were, I presume, planted about twelve
or fifteen years previous to our visit, and appeared to be then
considerably over 100 feet.

A hill called the Croix de Garde slopes up behind the Villa
Vallombrosa, or rather to the northward. It is several hundred feet
high, and its summit, crowned with pine trees, commands an extensive
prospect, and forms a delightful walk to those who are able to make
the ascent. The view comprises the bays and all that I have already
described. A little iron cross, inserted in a stone upon the top, to
which no doubt some legend attaches, gives its name to the height.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Corniche road below, running between the lines of villas,
conducts to a little village called Verviers, about three miles from
town. Here there is a large forest of umbrella pines bordering the
coast, furnishing opportunities of study to the artist and to the
photographer, and where one can enjoy a forenoon’s rambling about. The
railway cuts the forest off from the shore, and flanks the beach all
the way till it arrives close upon Cannes, and must therefore operate
injuriously to the amenity. So far as the villas are concerned, they
have, by means of bridges or otherwise, communication with the sea.
Fortunately, however, for Cannes, the railway leaves the coast about
half a mile from town, and passing through a tunnel proceeds by the
back of the town, where the station is.

From near the point where the railway diverges from the shore, the
public promenade on the west bay commences. This is lined by palm
trees, but the dust and the sea air together seem inimical to their
development. The main promenade is that which, commencing with the
harbour, runs eastward to the point of Croisette, a distance of from
two to three miles. It is a great resort of visitors both on foot and
in carriages. A band of music plays alternate days on the east and
west bays. In each of these bays there are bathing establishments of a
construction peculiar to the Riviera, being somewhat of the nature of
the Lacustrian dwellings. They are simply wooden sheds for undressing
and dressing in, resting upon poles stuck firmly into the beach, with
depending ladders to enable the bathers to descend to the water. As
the beach shelves very rapidly down, I presume that bathers who cannot
swim must always be in charge of an attendant or be tied by a rope;
but whether it was that the bathing may have taken place at an early
hour, I have hardly ever seen any person indulging in a bath at Cannes
during our brief visits, although the temperature is seldom such
throughout the winter as to forbid the exercise to persons in good
health either at this or at other parts of the province. I have seen
at Nice (a colder place than Cannes) people bathing towards the end of
November. By a strange fatality, for one can hardly suppose it to be
the result of deliberate arrangement, we observed that close by each of
the bathing establishments a drain has been run into the sea, the same
practice occurring also at Biarritz. These drains are so odoriferously
disagreeable as to make it unpleasant to walk along the promenade,
while one would think that some parts of Cannes ought in consequence
to be unhealthy. At all events, they must to a certain extent nullify
the good got from residence at this otherwise agreeable and fashionable
watering–place.

       *       *       *       *       *

Near the point of Croisette, there is a large orange garden which
has been dignified with the name of the garden of the Hesperides.
The oranges are cultivated for sale, and the trees are covered with
the yellow fruit. In all the private gardens orange trees grow, and
sometimes, though rarely, lemons, which I understand do not flourish
at Cannes so well as elsewhere in the Riviera—a symptomatic sign
indicative of a colder climate; for the lemon is a very delicate tree,
requiring warmth and shelter, and being injured or killed by frost.
There are also many arbutus trees in the gardens, bearing rich red soft
berries nearly an inch in diameter, which are edible, and become ripe
about November or December, and are sometimes, I have been informed,
put down as dessert at hotel tables. The oranges do not ripen till
February, although the fruit is on the trees all the year round.

At Croisette there is a depôt for the sale of the earthenware, tinted
with a peculiar blue or with a livid green, of which many fancy
articles are made in the neighbouring town of Vallauris; but the stuff
is brittle, and it is not advisable to purchase for bringing home any
articles with slender handles—they break so easily off, while they can
be bought at home in china shops.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the favourite drives is to California, upon the slope of which
some new large hotels have been built, from which the views must be
fine; but the situation, though healthy, is rather inconveniently
distant from the town, and involves a pull up hill, which perhaps puts
walking up beyond the power of invalids. We drove there on the 18th
November. The sun had risen gloriously in the morning. There was not
a speck of cloud on the sky. The day was broiling hot, and it was
difficult to realize that we were no longer in July, but in a time of
year when at home we should have had cold wintry weather. So warm,
indeed, had we felt it at Cannes, that we were under the necessity of
throwing off the extra clothing we had donned at Paris and Lyons. The
road is steep, and the ascent fatiguing to horse and man, to the point
where the reservoir, which supplies Cannes with water, is placed. Here
we left the carriage and climbed to the top of the hill over above, the
view from which amply repaid the exertion. Had we gone to a farther
height, we should have seen the Alpes Maritimes; but from the height
at which we arrived, the view was magnificent, the Estrelles lying
straight out to the west, Antibes to the east, and the Lerins lying,
to appearance, almost below us to the south. In a glowing sunshine
such as we then had, the Mediterranean is always of a brilliant deep
blue, while the sky is also of a rich blue of a lighter shade. One can
hardly realize the beauty of the scenery beheld on such a day without
having previously witnessed another like it. Such days would live in
our recollection even more than they do, were they not, during several
months’ residence in the Riviera, of so frequent occurrence.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the winter season, there is, for the accommodation of visitors,
a tiny steamer, perhaps about the magnitude of Fulton’s first
steamboat, mayhap the identical one, which, for a fare of 2 francs
(return ticket), crosses to the islands of Ste. Marguerite and St.
Honorat. We resolved to spend a forenoon on Ste. Marguerite, and, with
about twenty or thirty passengers on board, crossed, leaving at eleven
o’clock and returning at four. The boat stopped at a little quay below
the high walls of Fort Monterey. Here we got out, and the whole party
landing, went up to see the fort, which is doubly famous as the place
where Bazaine was confined and from which he escaped, and where ‘the
man in the iron mask’ was so long imprisoned. Like some other French
forts, it is not at present occupied by soldiers, though a regular
fortification in masonry, and capable of affording protection against
vessels seeking to attack Cannes. A man placed as resident in the fort
accompanied us to the rooms which had been occupied by Bazaine. The
suite of apartments was extensive, and bore anything but the appearance
of a prison–house. Except for the involuntary confinement, one might
regard it as a charming residence; and in its recent occupation was
a public remonstrance against the barbarity of laws which imprison
convicted persons who have hitherto enjoyed a good social position in
the same cells as ordinary criminals, to whom such cells are in truth
more comfortable than their own miserable dirty homes. We were then
taken to the spot where it is said that Bazaine escaped by descending
the wall and rock. The height is not great, and a descent in the
daylight would be no great achievement. It would no doubt be more
difficult and perhaps dangerous in the dark, and it is even alleged
that the Marshal was allowed to walk out by the gate. There is no great
improbability in this story, seeing that the French had gained all they
wanted by a condemnation of this officer as a scapegoat for their want
of success. The room in which the ‘man in the iron mask’ was confined,
was much more like a prison—a cell with massive thick walls. We saw
the hole through which he is said to have dropped the billet which was
picked up by a fisherman.

There has been placed in this fort one of those semaphores which are
studded along the coast of France, by which signals are or used to be
made, and which, before the introduction of the electric telegraph,
were no doubt useful. From the battlements we had a clear view of the
magnificent landscape before us, which embraced on the extreme right
distance the snowy peaks of the Maritime Alps. We left the fort, and
wandered over the island and through the trees, with which the greater
part of it is covered, lunched _al fresco_, and enjoyed our forenoon
very much. It is an island we could have wished transported, with all
its surroundings and its sunshine, to our own shores.

       *       *       *       *       *

We spent fifteen days on this occasion at Cannes. It is a nice place
for winter residence for those who are in good health; but I doubt
whether, notwithstanding the records of the thermometer, it be
sufficiently warm—at least, whether it affords sufficient shelter—for
delicate invalids, being apparently a good deal more open to north and
west winds than some other places in the Riviera. Before we arrived,
there had been not a little rain, and the roads were very dirty. While
we remained, we had still more; but the usual weather all along the
Riviera is dry and fair, and it is of dust one has most to complain.
There is no river meriting the name debouching within the limits of the
town, although their insignificant beds are speedily filled when heavy
rain falls.

       *       *       *       *       *

Like most places on the Riviera, there is abundance of marble used
in the houses and hotels. It is not altogether without its drawbacks
and its dangers. Stair steps are of marble, and it is requisite to be
careful in descending. On one occasion I slipped upon a marble step
and fell on my back, and might, had the fall been more direct, have
received permanent injury; but in the winter time carpets are usually
laid on the stairs.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is said that there are snakes and venomous green lizards. We never
saw any snakes, and though there are plenty of lizards running nimbly
about and up the walls, diving out of sight into hiding holes, yet
sometimes leaving a little of their long tails sticking out, I cannot
vouch for these being either venomous or innocuous. They look pretty
gentle creatures, and one is rather savage to see men and boys throwing
stones at them.

A real pest, however, to which all are exposed at Cannes and kindred
places, is the plague of the mosquitoes, which abound in hot weather.
We were told they were off by the 1st of November, but we found upon
arrival at Cannes, and throughout our stay there, that this insect
plague was in full force. It is a small gnat, with long legs and
yellowish–brown wing. The first thing that we did was to kill as many
as we could see resting on ceiling, walls, or bed, and this is best
effected by coming quickly down upon them with a damp towel; but they
are very agile, and unless the arm be vigorous and prompt, they escape
the swish. They are also remarkably knowing and cunning, and soon
discover when an enemy is bent on their destruction, when they manage
unaccountably to disappear. Nay, even without attack made, they will
hide themselves during the day, conscious that they will get a good
feed during the night. Every now and then they came buzzing about you
with a peculiar hum, which becomes more loud just when the insect is
about to strike. This it does by driving its proboscis like a lancet
into the skin, extracting a drop of blood, and leaving behind, I fancy,
a minute drop of poison or other cause of irritation, producing a small
red mark. Most people do not suffer inconvenience from the bite itself
beyond the mark it leaves, and with which the brow, a favourite point
of attack, soon gets dotted over. One lady at Cannes was so severely
bitten that she could hardly see, her eyes being nearly closed by
the effects of the bites, so much so as to prevent her coming to the
table. Another lady was so affected by the bites that the parts bitten
rose in large swellings, requiring her to consult a doctor, by whom
they were lanced; and the cure was tedious, leaving long after marks
on the skin. But the great annoyance which they occasion is their
tormenting vicious hum, revealing their presence, and showing that at
any moment they may be down upon you. If you wake through the night
and hear this hum, it is impossible to get any further sleep. If
there be anything worse than a mosquito humming about you, it is to
have two of them; but one is enough to keep you lively, and furnish
you with incessant employment; and where one is, there are generally
plenty more. Apparently the mosquito, like the king, never dies, for
as fast as one is slain another reigns in his stead. All sorts of
remedies for the bite are prescribed, but we found that prevention is
better than cure; and the most effectual prevention, besides taking
care to close windows early and not to light a candle before closing,
was to burn a pastille, specially prepared for the purpose, by placing
it on an iron shovel, and just before bed–time carrying it burning
round the room and holding it within the bed curtains. The smoke of it
appears to stupefy the insect, although it does not kill it; and in the
morning the mosquitoes, evidently wanting to get out to breathe the
fresh air and take their revenge at night, fly in a sickly condition
to the windows, where, or elsewhere about the room, they are easily
killed. When killed, a bloody streak is left, indicating they have
been fed somewhere. One extraordinary circumstance is that, although
the fecundity of this creature is enormous,[18] yet those which find
their way into rooms are comparatively few, and it puzzles one to know
where the rest go to. I believe the insect’s existence is not so much
due to great heat as to bad drainage. We found Cannes to be worse than
Mentone, and Hyères worse than Cannes; but by Christmas–time, when
cold weather has set in, they nearly vanish, although, when a fire is
lighted, sometimes they are either attracted or revived, but are then
in a weakly condition.



VIII.

_NICE._


WE were due at Mentone on Wednesday the 29th November, and intended to
have spent two nights at Nice by the way; but the Monday was so very
wet at Cannes that we delayed leaving till the Tuesday morning, and by
so doing obtained a brilliant day for the short but delightful railway
ride. Passing the Croisette, we first skirted the Bay of Antibes, where
the French squadron was then lying at anchor, and in which is the spot,
denoted by a commemorative monument, where Napoleon Bonaparte landed
from Elba. A little farther, the distant snowy Maritime Alps came into
view. Here, as elsewhere in the Riviera, curious villages, looking
very dead–alive under their rotten brown roofs, are seen upon the tops
of hills. These villages were so built in the olden times, with the
view of securing some protection from the Moors, who, crossing the
Mediterranean from Algeria to capture the inhabitants for slaves, kept
them in terror when they landed. We passed over the wide course of the
Var, and in about an hour from departure arrived in the gay town of
Nice.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nice is a large town in the province of Nice, formerly part of the
Sardinian kingdom, when the boundary line between France and Italy lay
about four miles to the westward of the town. Ceded to France, it is
now the capital of the French department of the Alpes Maritimes. The
population, which forty years ago was 34,000, is now stated by Bædeker
to be 50,000; but as the town has been from year to year rapidly
extending under the influence of the railway facilities, and now covers
a large area, it is probable that this estimate is much under the mark,
and that it numbers greatly more. Arriving by the railway, the station
is left, and the town entered by a wide handsome street or boulevard
called the Avenue de Longchamps. This leads straight down to the Place
Massena and the Pont Neuf, where are the public gardens, the Promenade
des Anglais, the Boulevard du Midi, and other noted parts. The river
Paillon passes through Nice, and is crossed near its mouth by the Pont
Neuf.

Nice is a very lively place, and in some respects is attractive.
The town is well laid out, and it has many good shops, though none
of them large. It is a commercial town, but does not possess many
notable public buildings. The cathedral lies in a quarter I never
visited; but a handsome Roman Catholic church, externally large, but
internally contracted, has been recently built of a fine white stone,
and forms a feature in the avenue. The streets, houses, and hotels
are imposing. The Promenade des Anglais is a long wide roadway along
the beach, extending westward between one and two miles; and upon its
landward side, many of the largest and best hotels, a theatre, and
other buildings have been erected. This promenade is the great resort,
particularly on a Sunday, of the inhabitants and visitors, and it has
certainly a magnificent aspect. A handsome iron bridge of three arches
over the Paillon connects it with the Boulevard du Midi, which forms a
continuation eastward towards the harbour.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nice was, and I suppose still is, a free port, and therefore possesses
some advantages. Its harbour affords accommodation for many large
ships. Before reaching it, however, and to the south–east of the town,
a hill interposes, rising abruptly above 300 feet high, popularly
called the Chateau, of which castle, however, nothing is now left but
its ruins. The slopes of the hill are covered with trees, many of them
exotics, through which the road winds gently to the top. We drove up
this winding road to the harsh music of innumerable French drummers and
trumpeters (one would have thought the tyros of all France were here
assembled) practising upon their respective instruments all sorts of
disagreeable rat–tats and military signals of contradictory import in
dinning, hoarse, distracting, discordant, ear–cracking immaturity—a
very Babel of uncertain sounds, tending to realize, perhaps faintly,
the Highlander’s dream of heaven,—that delectable thought of ‘four and
twenty bagpipers all in one room, and all pleyin’ different chunes.’
Nevertheless, every visitor desirous of obtaining the best view of
Nice and its environs should make the ascent, previously bribing the
concierge to ascertain if possible at what hour the unhappy musicians
dine or otherwise disappear. On the top of the hill there is a
platform, from which is obtained a most striking panoramic view. Below,
on one side, lie the harbour, and the hills beyond to the eastward,
over which the Corniche road proceeds to Mentone and Genoa; then on
the south, the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, hemmed in by promontories,
and basking and glittering in the sun; westward, the promenades; and
thence northwards and eastwards, the city, bounded in the distance by
mountains. But what arrested our attention most was the extraordinary
torrent bed of the river Paillon. Crossing the Var, we had seen a
similar bed, and much wider. In a railway train, however, one has
little opportunity of catching more than a passing glimpse of things,
especially when the railway line is nearly on the same level. But
from the platform of the chateau we were looking down upon the bed
of the Paillon from a considerable elevation, which enabled us to
see up the course of the river for some miles away to the mountains,
where it became lost to view. As the torrent beds are a remarkably
characteristic feature of the Riviera, I may just describe their
appearance. The bed or channel of the river consists of a broad stony
course, through which usually a streamlet trickles; the bed being out
of all proportion to the size of the stream as usually seen. It is,
however, stony, and no grass grows in it; and sometimes, after heavy
rains or from snowy meltings, the water comes down from the mountains
in torrents, and more or less covers the channel from side to side,
even occasionally, when the rains are more than ordinarily protracted,
flooding it considerably—a fact which I believe the contractors in
forming the railway found to their cost. But although we have seen
heavy rains lasting for days together, I do not think that, with
one exception, we ever witnessed such a flow of water in any of the
river beds as completely to cover it. The strange aspect of the river
course, however, is produced by men continually digging into it when
and where dry, and riddling out the fine limy earth which has been
borne down from the uplands, and carting it away for building and
other purposes; by doing whereof they leave behind them all over it
large holes and little heaps of riddled–out stones, imparting a very
mottled and singular appearance to the channel. The river Paillon,
therefore, extending for miles in this condition, had a most novel and
extraordinary aspect from the chateau. Although there had been heavy
rain the day before, the stream was very diminutive.

       *       *       *       *       *

We stayed but one night at Nice, although we went several times
afterwards from Mentone to spend the day there. I do not therefore
pretend to know it well. It is the most expensive town in the Riviera,
but is alluring to those who go in good health for pure enjoyment.
For promotion of enjoyment and gaiety, it is, I presume, everything
that can be desired; but although the climate is better than that
of some other places, being, it is said, equal or similar to the
climate of Florence, it wants the shelter which is so necessary to
invalids. The mountains are not near enough to afford protection, and
cold winds, keen and piercing, blow down the streets, very trying to
delicate constitutions, especially to those suffering from pulmonary
complaints. In fact, it would seem to be the battle–ground of all the
villainous winds which afflict the south. The _bise_, the _marin_, the
_tramontane_, the _mistral_, the _sirocco_, are in continual conflict
for the ascendency; and sometimes the one and sometimes the other
has it, and enjoys its triumph for a few days in dealing misery on
the inhabitants. To many the sea–breeze is most trying. I met on one
occasion, on the railway, a gentleman in bad health returning from
Nice to Rome because he could not stand its sea–breeze. But given good
strong health and a relish for the kind of life, and Nice is charming.

The hotels and pensions are legion in number; but those considered good
by English people, it is well to know, are costly.

Theatres, skating rinks, bathing, exhibitions of paintings and
sculpture, each in turn claims patronage, while delightful excursions
by carriage can be made to places of interest in the neighbourhood.
There is a constant stir of life in Nice, aided not a little by
military promenades and military music, a band playing each afternoon
in the public gardens.

       *       *       *       *       *

But we were impatient to be off to Mentone, which, from all we could
learn before leaving home, was thought to be the most desirable of all
the health resorts in the Riviera for winter residence. Our friends had
preceded us from Cannes, and secured quarters for us in the same hotel
with themselves.

The carriage road from Nice to Mentone, about 24 miles, is one of
the most charming parts of the Corniche drive, and, if weather be not
cold and expense be no obstacle, it ought, unless the traveller be an
invalid, to be preferred to the railway, which, although it skirts
the Mediterranean just at a sufficient elevation to give a charm to
the view of its lovely waters, suffers the great drawback of passing
through numerous tunnels, some of them long. On the other hand, the
drive by road, for which 40 and even 50 francs are asked (though less
will be taken), rises at one part to a great height, overlooking the
ocean, and being there on the top of the hills, is without protection
from the cutting north wind.

It was not warm enough to warrant our venturing to drive, and we
decided to go by rail. Soon after leaving the station at Nice, we
crossed the torrent bed of the river Paillon, but were still in the
town or suburbs of Nice, and in the midst of orange gardens, the
fruit shining, like everything else, in the brilliant sun. At the
other end of a long tunnel we reached Villefranche, where the gulf
of that name presents a large natural harbour, in which one or more
men–of–war are sometimes to be seen. From this point the railway hugs
the coast, passing under or through the hills by tunnels, whereby
many fine points of view are missed, and particularly the sight of
Eza, a curious town perched on a precipitous rock, formerly a Saracen
free–booter’s stronghold. The Corniche road is more inland, and
commands the whole prospect uninterruptedly. As the train emerged
from these tunnels successively, bay after bay, filled with the
beautiful blue Mediterranean water, hemmed in by rocky promontories,
upon which lonely trees sometimes grow, met our sight, but, most
tantalizingly, immediately after disappeared from view, eclipsed by
the next tunnel. At last, after rather more than half way to Mentone,
the bold, peculiar rocky promontory of Monaco, for which we had been
watching, appeared, stretching out like a tongue of land, or rather a
long steep rock, into the ocean. The view of Monaco either from west
or from east is very striking. The rock is from 200 to 300 feet high,
and dips perpendicularly into the ocean, crowned by the town, the
handsome palace of the Prince of Monaco, and by fortifications. It is
inaccessible on three sides, and can only be reached by a fortified
road upon the east side sloping up the side of the rock. Upon the north
end, which is also steep and inaccessible, it is connected at the
bottom by a low narrow belt of land. I shall, however, recur to Monaco
in describing a visit to Monte Carlo, which lies about half a mile to
the eastward. After leaving Monaco station, the passenger, looking
down, sees on the ground below, and leading up to Monte Carlo, a
number of villas, pure and bright in their colouring, looking so clean
and tidy in the sunshine with which on this occasion we were again
favoured. Monte Carlo is not well seen from the railway, as the line
and station lie below and even in part under it. All trains stop both
at Monaco and Monte Carlo, and at the latter place they generally set
down and take up a considerable number of people, who resort either to
the gaming tables, or to the delightful gardens which surround them, or
to the music room of the Casino. Leaving Monte Carlo, we came in sight
of another long projecting though not precipitous point of land, or
rising hill ground, covered with trees, principally dark pines. This,
the promontory of Cape Martin, is the west boundary and termination of
the western protecting arm of Mentone. It necessitates another long
tunnel, escaping from which, and passing extensive terraces or forests
of old olive trees, and crossing two river courses, we at last arrived
at our long anticipated destination, the subject of many thoughts
during past months—Mentone.



IX.

_MENTONE._


THE union of bold grandeur with soft loveliness in the Mentone
landscape, arrest and powerfully strike the eye upon arrival.
Familiarity with its scenery, after a residence of months, scarcely
dims the first impression. We had heard much in a general way regarding
it even before leaving home, but every expectation was at once far
exceeded by the reality. We had just left Cannes and Nice, and
witnessed them both in their brightest aspects; but Mentone in its
natural features, and seeing it, as we did, for the first time, in
glorious sunshine, threw them both into the shade. It was an agreeable
surprise, and made us instantly feel that a more beautiful spot for
winter residence could not have been chosen.

       *       *       *       *       *

Originally the town of Mentone consisted simply of a collection of high
old houses, rising ridge upon ridge like so many terraces resting upon
the steep slope of a hill, the crest of which was at one time crowned
by a castle or palace of the old feudal lords, now converted into a
picturesquely–situated cemetery. This hill or ridge, with its curious
old houses,—among or above which the cathedral and other churches
stand, from which there rise two elegant minaret–like spires, one
taller than the other, conspicuous from every quarter round,—forms
a very striking object, especially when seen from the east, and from
that side may be said in miniature to resemble a little, though of a
different character, the old town of Edinburgh, which, however, is
far more lofty and extends at least ten times farther. The harbour or
port of Mentone lies at the bottom of the seaward end of this ridge.
Curious old high houses, resting upon odd long–shaped water–worn rocks,
the terminals of the hill, abut and hem in the harbour on the north
or land side; while on the south side, a long breakwater is in course
of formation for protection from the ocean waves, which, coursing
over the whole width of the Mediterranean Sea without interruption,
occasionally, under the pressure of a south–west wind, dash up and
over with great vigour. An old building, at one time a small castle,
standing at the end of the original pier, makes an object in the
landscape, and perhaps could tell some tales. The water in the port is
extremely shallow, so that the anchorage is only adapted for vessels of
a small size, of which there are always a few moored to the quays. The
hill ridge, with the projecting pier, form, similarly to Cannes, the
dividing line between what are termed the east and west bays.

       *       *       *       *       *

The books which have been recently written on Mentone, particularly
those of Dr. Bennett and of Mr. William Chambers, but more than any
book, the good reports of visitors, have induced such an influx of
winter dwellers from distant lands as to have created a new town in
both bays. Rather, it may be said that the hotels extend in both
directions, for in reality the newer parts of Mentone are made up
chiefly of lines of large hotels, the street or shop part of the town
being only a necessary sequence. From the ridge eastward to the gaping
gorge of St. Louis, which is now the boundary line between France and
Italy, the distance by road is about two miles. Hotels line upon one
side nearly the first mile, the other side being open to the sea, and
villas dot the remainder of the way. From the gorge, south or seaward,
a mountain called Belinda (1702 feet) springs up, and from its shoulder
a promontory juts out to the sea and forms the termination of the east
projecting arm of the bays. From the north side of the gorge a mountain
range rises more loftily into the majestic Berceau and Grande Montagne,
and, stretching away to the north and north–west, form the great shield
to Mentone from the east and north–east winds. These mountains attain
an elevation of about (more or less) 4000 feet,—the Grande Montagne
being stated by one authority to be 4525 feet,—and show themselves
boldly and almost perpendicularly in some parts like enormous colossal
walls of bare rock. Due north from Mentone, and from two to three miles
distant from it, another chain of mountains lies almost at right angles
right across from east to west—St. Agnes in the centre, and behind it
the high and sharply–pointed Aigle (4232 feet high)—affording shelter
from the north winds; while the Agel (3730 feet high), and some other
lesser mountains, terminated by the long promontory of Cape Martin, all
lying from north to south, afford shelter from the west and north–west
winds, and particularly the cold mistral. Within these greater mountain
chains, a series of high ridges or hills standing in front, or issuing
out of them like huge tumuli, all covered with olives in terraces,
afford additional shelter; so that were it possible for the wind to
blow down the outer rampart, it would be withstood by this inner wall
or circle of lesser heights, some of which are 1000 feet high. In the
distance on the other side of the great mountains, but invisible from
Mentone, the Maritime Alps rise to a height of from 5000 to 9000 feet.
It will thus be seen that the configuration of the mountains is that
of a great semicircle, and that on every side save the south or sunny
side, open to the sea, Mentone has protection from the cold winds
which in reality blow over the tops of these great walls and strike
at some distance away,—the north or prevailing winter wind reaching
the sea some miles out. It cannot be said that the cold of the winds
is not felt, but it is so greatly averted or modified that Mentone
is practically sheltered; and hence it is that, coupled with the
long continuance during the winter of dry open sunny weather and the
absorption and radiation of the sun’s heat in and from the limestone
rocks, it becomes so admirable a place for the invalid.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our quarters were in the west bay, considered to be more bracing and
less relaxing than the other, which is said to be three degrees warmer,
and, from being so, and more enclosed and protected, better suited to
the extremely delicate. The hotels and houses in the west bay—in which
is also situated the new or shop portion of the town—extend, though
not continuously, about a mile; and there has been formed in front, by
the border of the sea, a roadway called the Promenade du Midi,—a good
and fairly–wide pleasant road for foot–passengers and carriages,—which
is, in the early part of the forenoon, the great resort of invalids
and other strangers, who here meet their friends, and can view the sea
uninterruptedly in their walks, or enjoy a book or a newspaper on one
of the many seats provided for the weary or lazy. A low stone–built
bulwark protects the promenade from being washed away by the sea, which
sometimes, though very rarely, sweeps up forcibly in heavy waves, and
even occasionally in a storm, so as to dash over the road. But when
the wind is from the north, the sea retires under its pressure 60 to
100 feet from the bulwark, and there is scarcely a ripple upon the
water, which then looks like one sheet of blue glass. And this is its
predominating or normal condition during the winter. When the waves
come, they trundle over monotonously, without gaining or losing a step.
It is the great drawback of the Mediterranean that it has no tide, or
a tide that is all but imperceptible. The difference between high and
low water at Mentone is only from two to three feet. The consequence
is, that the sea does not carry away sufficiently the impurities which
are conveyed to it; and there is wanting that interesting feature
of a tidal beach, the change from hour to hour of the appearance
of the shore. It is only right, however, to add, that Mentone
enjoys comparative immunity from the noisome influence of exposed
drainage. Small drains only empty into the west bay; and they are not
particularly offensive, though they might be improved by carrying pipes
down into the water,—only the likelihood is, that the first storm would
sweep them away. Another empties in the east bay, at the corner formed
by the junction of the old town at its north end with the shore. This
is at all times disagreeable to passers–by, and must be insalubrious
to those residing in its neighbourhood. But it seems difficult to
understand how Mentone is drained, unless the east pipe conveys the
great bulk of the sewerage to the sea; although, so far as the old town
is concerned, it has been explained that the natives collect all manure
to carry it off to the country, thus combining thrift with cleanliness.
That the town is not as yet so disagreeable as Cannes, may arise from
the population being greatly smaller. When Mentone increases much, as
it is threatening to do, it may be quite as discernible.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have never seen any place so strikingly enclosed as Mentone is by its
semicircle of mountains and the minor hill ridges. The higher parts
of the mountains are steep, rocky, and bare; but all over the ridges,
and far up away into the mountains, the olive tree is cultivated
in terraces built for their reception. The orange and lemon trees
mingle with the olives at a lower elevation, and in some, especially
the higher parts, pine trees furnish a deep green covering. But all
combined add a rich beauty to the imposing grandeur of the scene. Some
of the buildings also contribute materially to the effect. On the
summit of a lofty ridge, between the Carrei and Boirigo valleys, a
monastery conspicuously rears its head. On the other heights there are
houses of peculiar construction, curiously painted; and the whole place
is dotted over with bright–coloured villas, of all tints and shades
of white and yellow, relieved by the almost invariable roofing of red
tiles, and the usual gay greens of the outside venetian jalousies. But
next to the mountain heights, the most marked lineaments of the Mentone
scenery are its valley depths or ravines between the various ridges,
and in which rivers find their beds, although in the dry weather which
generally prevails they are but trickling streams, and in some cases
usually almost dry. The greater valleys are three—or rather, it may
be said, four—in number, consisting of two larger, with their torrent
beds, the Carrei and Boirigo; a third, containing a smaller river
course, the Gorbio; and a fourth, the Mentone valley and streamlet, the
smallest of all, but obtaining its name from, or giving it to, the old
town, at the bottom of which, or underneath the streets, the rivulet
passes. The valleys, three of them of considerable width, in which
these rivers run, form beautiful adjuncts to the town; and the torrent
beds, which are not so long or so wide as those at Nice, are striking
without being distasteful to the eye.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such are the general outlines of the landscape. I shall have to recur
to some of them hereafter. To those who can appreciate scenery, the
_tout ensemble_ cannot fail to produce a feeling of intense admiration;
but added to all, there is that which lends its peculiar charm to
Mentone. This is its rurality. While it contains many large hotels,
which do not contribute much to the adornment of the scene,—though
year by year becoming more essential to meet the demands for
accommodation,—none of the buildings in Mentone possess the palatial
appearance of those at Nice, neither in the large hotels nor in the
street buildings. Indeed, with regard to the latter, there is only one
street proper in Mentone, not half a mile long. On issuing from the
railway station, which stands on high ground, the town is, or was, hid
from view by a curtain of trees, which afford a beautiful fringe to the
ocean, seen lying placidly beyond. The road to town is along an avenue
of tall plane trees by the bank of the Carrei, one of the torrent beds.
The road on the other side of the Carrei is also flanked by trees, as
yet young. On arriving at the main road, which crosses the river bed
by a wooden suspension bridge, there is a piece of ground, not large,
on either side, laid out as a public garden. From this point, the road
each way, east and west, continues to be lined with plane trees. The
villas passed on the way are built in gardens, wherein orange, lemon,
pepper, and palm trees grow; and so it is everywhere, except in the
heart of the town. I fear much that, from year to year, as people
continue to flock to Mentone, and more lodging–room becomes requisite
(for in sixteen or eighteen years Mentone has risen from being, so
far as strangers are concerned, a mere wayside stopping–place to its
present ample dimensions, embracing a native population of above 5000,
besides a stranger population of probably 3000 more), and as land
becomes in consequence more valuable, this peculiar charm of rurality
will disappear; and though, mainly from the impossibility of its
becoming a great seaport, it will never be a large commercial town like
Nice; and although it will always continue to possess natural features
which no buildings can obliterate, and which neither Nice nor any other
town wanting them can secure, yet it may in time rival in towny aspect
such a place as Cannes, which is at present very considerably larger.

       *       *       *       *       *

As the first duty of the visitor is to see to his quarters, it is only
right here to make some observations relative to the hotels such as
they were during our stay. They were then reckoned, in 1877, to amount
to forty–four in number; but the number is year by year increasing, and
at least one large hotel (the National) has been built since we left,
although the advertisements do not disclose its whereabouts. The hotels
are found either fronting the sea or back from it, and either in the
west or the east bay; and as the question of locale is not unimportant,
invalids should endeavour in this respect to suit their particular
case, noting, too, that, like every other place, some hotels are more
expensive than others.

It is not unusual for those who have not been previously in Mentone, or
who have not secured apartments before arriving, to take rooms for a
night in the Hotel Mediterranée or the Hotel Royal, or some other hotel
in the town (of which there are several), and then look about. At the
beginning of the season there is abundance of choice; but if the visit
be delayed, as so often is the case, till after Christmas, it is not
unlikely to be discovered that the best rooms have, for the most part,
been taken; and it is much more difficult to secure what is suitable,
and especially good south or sun–visited rooms. When such delay is
unavoidable, the better course is, if possible, to write to a friend in
Mentone previously to make inquiries and engage rooms. In the spring,
many migrate from Cannes and Nice on to Mentone, _en route_ a little
later for Italy. As proximity to the sea air, or to be within hearing
of the monotonous noise of the waves, does not suit some persons, while
the proximity may benefit others, and as the temperature of the east
and west bays differs considerably, it is not inadvisable for those
in delicate health to consult a medical man, who should decide which
part of Mentone is best suited to the particular case. There are about
twenty doctors practising in Mentone. Of these, the English doctors
are, I believe, the following:—In the west bay, Drs. Siordet, Marriott,
Gent, and Sparks; and in the east bay, Dr. Bennett. It is also well
to know that the fees of the resident English medical men are high,
and are paid at each visit. If the visit be to two persons of the same
party, two fees, I have been told, are charged or expected. The fees
of the French medical men are greatly less. It would seem, on some
points, the doctors of the two countries differ,—as, for example,
English doctors advocate sitting in the sun, and foreign doctors,
sitting in the shade; and knowing how foreigners abhor their friend the
sun, I can well believe they do.

In viewing the hotels in order to make a selection, it will be observed
that some are more sheltered than others, and a certain preference
may be given to those which seem to be the better protected from the
north wind, which in winter months, especially during December and
January, prevails and blows sometimes with a piercing cold during night
and in the morning. I am afraid this is a circumstance but seldom
studied by the builders of the hotels, for I suspect there are few
houses—particularly on the Promenade du Midi—which are not exposed to
cold in consequence of having doors opening to the north side. This
of itself is not desirable, and perhaps in most cases is unavoidable;
but the evil is increased when such door is in direct communication
with the staircase without outer porch and lobby, or if a corridor
connect it with an entrance on the other or south side. Considering,
also, how important it is for invalids that the temperature in–doors
should be maintained throughout the house at a proper degree, I have
been surprised to find that means are not universally taken to heat
the staircases and lobbies, delicate people being very apt to suffer
great harm by passing out of heated rooms into cold corridors. So far
as I am aware, there is but one hotel in Mentone which fully attends to
this important particular—the Hotel des Îles Britanniques. Possibly,
however, there may be others. If not, this may be taken as a valuable
hint.[19]

The rate of pension varies according to the hotel and to the floor,
and runs from 8 to 16 francs per day, exclusive of wine, candles, and
firewood.

To those who prefer taking either a furnished house or rooms in a
lodging–house, choice of villas or rooms can be had in abundance at
very varying rates, but generally, like the hotels, high. The number of
villas is constantly on the increase. When last in Mentone, there were
no fewer than about 250. During a bad season, many remain unlet. Lists
of houses can be had from the house–agents, of whom the principal
apparently was M. Amarante, Avenue Victor Emanuele.

An institution maintained by subscription, and called Helvetia,
provides at a small rate of board (£1 per week), a home for, I believe,
fifteen invalid ladies, who are not in circumstances to incur the much
heavier expense of boarding at a hotel.

       *       *       *       *       *

Six Roman Catholic churches supply the wants of the Roman worshippers
in Mentone.

There are two English Episcopal churches. One, in the west bay,
succeeds in obtaining good music and good congregations. The chaplain
of this church was till recently the Rev. W. Barber, who, after
officiating for many years, died on 24th February 1878, and was
succeeded by his assistant, the Rev. Henry Sidebottom. One of Mr.
Barber’s sons was the able organist and choirmaster. The other and
earlier church in the east bay, built in 1863, is more simple in its
services, and, I fear, was therefore not so much in favour as the more
fashionable chapel in the west bay, to which, notwithstanding the
distance, many of the east bay visitors resorted. The regular minister
was Mr. Morant Brock. But last winter (1877–78) his place was supplied
by Mr. Boudillon, the author of some books, and a good old man.

The Free Church of Scotland has Presbyterian service in a room of a
villa in the east bay; but, whether owing to the distant and elevated
situation, or to not having a church building, or to the paucity of
Scotch people, it was generally attended by only a few, though the
small room was filled when the preacher was popular.

There were also a German church and a French Protestant church, the
latter being under the pastoral care of M. Delapierre. The Scotch
church had no afternoon service, while that held in the French church
in the afternoon was usually poorly attended. A good arrangement might
be, were the Scotch to give up their room, for which they pay £30 per
annum, and to have the use of the French church for one service in the
afternoon; and the second French service might, with advantage in that
case, be held in the evening.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having had occasion to make inquiry for a good school, we found most
highly recommended an excellent French school kept by M. and Mme.
Arnulf in a house adjoining the Hotel Bristol, and which was attended
by young ladies from several of the principal hotels. The teachers are
Roman Catholics; but many of their pupils being Protestants, they made
a point of avoiding any allusion to religion in their classes. The
school was mainly intended for girls, but M. Arnulf had a class for
boys. French, music, and the ordinary elementary branches of education,
including a little English, were taught, the pupils receiving tuition
also in drawing from M. Bouché, who paints pretty little pictures of
Mentone, which are occasionally seen in book–shop windows for sale, and
which are valuable to purchasers as agreeable reminiscences of their
visit. The charge for all branches, music included, for the hours from
9 till 12 (lunch hour), six days per week, was 90 francs per month;
if lunch and additional hour’s tuition were taken, then so much more.
Mme. Arnulf, a most pleasing French lady, had an excellent mode of
retaining the interest of the pupils by giving a donkey excursion party
(which all the young people could attend) about once a month. This was
looked forward to by all the scholars with great glee, and sad was the
disappointment if any unexpected sickness seemed likely to disable one
of them from being of the cavalcade. In their daily walks, the young
people were freely allowed to play after getting out of town, showing
a great amount of good sense in the management of children, of which
in other parts of France, I have seen it stated, teachers are in this
respect innocent.

Young ladies and others can likewise obtain lessons in Italian, music,
and other branches from resident masters and governesses. Young men who
are not invalids are scarce in Mentone, and I doubt whether, in the
midst of so much else to attract, their ardour for study is intense.

A botany class was successfully formed during the winter of 1877–78 by
Mr. Henry Robertson, a visitor. The study of botany is very suitable
for the Riviera.

Pianofortes can be hired for the season, though not by the month; but
the charge made is usually high—from 150 to 300 francs.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is, besides a public library, a small museum of natural history,
etc., in the Hotel de Ville, consisting principally of flint implements
found in the caves of the Rochers Rouges, and of specimens of snakes,
fishes, and other animals caught in the neighbourhood.

A theatre exists, but the performances seem to be rare. I never was in
it.

In an open place or square, there is what is called the Cercle
Philharmonique, or Club, admission to which is by ballot and
subscription (annual, monthly, or by the season). Here are held
concerts, dances, and occasional dramatic entertainments, while
newspapers lie in the reading–room.

Two newspapers are published in Mentone—the _Avenir_ and _Le
Mentonnais_; but newspapers from Marseilles, Nice, and other places
are brought by train daily, and are procurable at the railway station,
shops, and a kiosk, or covered round stall in the middle of the Place
Nationale.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having given this general description of Mentone, and noted some of the
institutions which are of the nature of essentials to the visitor’s
comfort, and being now settled down in the place for the winter, the
natural wish is to know what is to be seen which will help to make
residence agreeable.

There are various guide–books[20] which may be bought and consulted
for this purpose, and it is no part of my plan in these pages to take
their place or to describe after their manner. One of them, titled,
_The Splendide Hotel Handbook to Mentone and its Environs_, would be
more useful were it less of a puff of the Splendide Hotel, which really
does not require any puffing. This book, in tagging and dragging the
unhappy hotel into almost every paragraph, reminds one of De Foe’s puff
of _Drelincourt on Death_, which he brought or endeavoured to bring
into notice by repeated mention of it in his remarkable _Vision of Mrs.
Veal_. The author of the guide—(who doubtless laughs in his own sleeve
and not that of De Foe)—mentions that there are fifty–nine excursions
from Mentone, all of which he describes shortly, and I would refer to
the book for its recital. Fifty–nine is a tolerably large number, and
will, in any view, afford constant employment to those who are of an
exploring disposition. However, people cannot always be on the trot,
more especially if they be not in strong, good health. Much less will
suffice for ordinary existence, and if all be accomplished in three or
four winters, these winters will not have witnessed inactive lives. The
number, however, is an odd one; and to make it even, I must add one
which the writer fails to describe. It fell to my lot the very first
night.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was impatient to look about me, and on the evening of my first day
took, with a young Scotch gentleman residing in the hotel, a walk as
far as the gorge of St. Louis. It is the evening aspect of Mentone
which I regard as my first and the additional excursion, and it is
one of, if it be not, the most lovely. The moon was full and shining
brightly. Now, the moonlight at Mentone is so clear and strong that
everything comes out sharply, and all objects on which it rests are
seen with almost the same distinctness as in daylight. Even quarter
moon illuminates surprisingly. The great orb of night sheds her
effulgence upon the grand, steep, abrupt mountains, upon the rugged
rocks, upon the glittering trees, upon the hill–tops, upon the white
houses, upon all I have already attempted to depict as contributing to
the magnificence of the landscape. Bold and varied as everything looks,
as usually seen when the sun is in the heavens, the soft, wondrous
silvering on the parts which are moonlit, set in contrast against the
deep, sombre, unrelieved blackness of the parts which are cast into
shade, developes the features of the panorama, with an impressive
_chiaro oscuro_ effect which can never be observed or attained in
the broad light of day; while, turning round and looking upon the
ocean below, we see the waves roll softly ashore in lambent lines of
dazzling light, and the yielding water is dancing and glancing with
the restrained restlessness of girlish glee, and tossing up little
flickering tongues of fire, which cover the sea in the moonlight gleam
as with thousands of short–lived electric sparks, darting up to snatch
a kiss from their pale but glorious mother, and expiring in the vain
and feeble effort. We had not far to go for this lovely tableau, which,
when beheld for the first time, produces the sensation of being in the
presence of a scene of enchantment.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the scene is scarcely less beautiful, though different, when,
the sky being clear, and especially on those evenings which are
slightly touched by frost, the moon averts her face; for then the
stars assemble with a twofold brilliancy, sparkling with a lustre
which is unknown in our dull and foggy northern clime. Venus first of
all appears like a great lamp in the west. We have had simultaneously
other planets shining brightly, and particularly Jupiter, Saturn,
and Mars, the last two having been in the winter of 1877–78 in close
conjunction, but ruddy Mars not being so full as we had at Interlachen
seen it some months before, when it was nearer the earth. The sky
glows with constellations, chief among which stands prominently out
Orion, which rises from the sea in the south–east, and passes slowly
and majestically over the firmament to the north–west, every star
in it, with generous but governed emulation, stinting not its oil
and burning with redoubled energy. Then, almost right below Orion’s
belt, Sirius, the largest and most beautiful star visible from earth,
radiates in full intensity, shining and scintillating with a luminous
green splendour which has emanated from that grand orb twenty–two years
previously—a light so strong that it casts a streak or tail across
the Mediterranean like that of the moon, though fainter and less.
Then overhead are galaxies of glory, in the midst of which the Milky
Way, the nearest of the nebulæ (for it is that to which we ourselves
belong), stretches over the great expanse its belt of pearly sheen, the
dwelling–place of countless myriads of starry habitants whose light as
now seen dates back to a period anterior to the creation of man—all
of them far too distant to be discernible by the unassisted eye. Cold
though the evenings sometimes were, I was often tempted to turn out and
see the matchless sight. The promenade was close by, and there all was
open to the view.

       *       *       *       *       *

Visitors, however, are no sooner settled in a place than, according to
immemorial usage, it seems to be their paramount duty to escape out
of it and see its environs, and perhaps I shall best illustrate the
locality by describing some of our excursions.

       *       *       *       *       *

Besides the main road which leads in one direction to Monaco and
Nice, and in the other to San Remo and Genoa, and another road up
the Carrei valley to Turin, and roads which go a short way up the
Boirigo and Gorbio valleys, there is not much opportunity for varied
driving; but the mountains which connect themselves by their ridgy
tentacula with the very coast, afford innumerable excursions on foot
and on donkeys, and parties, often large in number, are daily in
good weather to be seen starting on such expeditions. The donkeys
are patient, sure–footed, know every inch of the way, and require
little encouragement by means of the whip. There are many roads or
paths constructed expressly for them up and over the ridges, although
rather intended for the rural traffic than for excursionizing. The
animals are let out for hire at 5 francs per day, or 2½ francs for
the half day, the day being considered divided by the lunch or
dinner hour of twelve, and detention of half an hour beyond twelve
reckoned as a whole day. Girls or boys, sometimes women or even men,
attend the donkeys and act as guides, expecting a trifle of a fee to
themselves—generally half a franc per donkey per day, and half that for
half a day. There are plenty of carriages of all kinds, but principally
light basket–carriages with one or more horses. The only other mode of
conveyance is the railway. Steamboats do not touch at the port, and
boating is not much indulged in, the open sea not being particularly
safe, although near shore usually placid, and offering imposing views
towards the land.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days after our arrival, we joined a party of friends for
Castellar, which is about three miles distant. We started after
lunch, about half–past one, having six donkeys for those who rode.
It was the 2d of December, and the day was overpoweringly hot. The
ascent commences at once from the town, and the mounting was almost
continuous, diversified, however, by stretches of level path. For
protection of the road, which would otherwise be soon worn away, it
is, like most other donkey paths, in its steeper parts paved sometimes
with the small round stones commonly called petrified kidneys, which
are very trying to the feet of the walkers, at least till they get
accustomed to them. After we had gone up a short way, we obtained the
shelter of trees, which lessened the fatigue. It was a lovely walk the
whole way, the views at every turn being so fine; the sky overhead,
bright, clear, blue, against which the bold outlines of the adjacent
mountains broke in most picturesque lines; while, whether we looked
down the thickly–covered slopes below or across the ravines to the
wooded slopes of the Berceau above, or to the hill ridges fringed with
trees or capped by picturesque buildings, it was a scene of grandeur
and beauty blended; while the silver–lined blue–green of the olive
leaf, mingling with the dark green of the pines, and the grass and the
wild shrubbery, combined with the bright glitter of the sun through
the branches to make it fairy–land. Notwithstanding the shade afforded
by the trees, I felt the ascent very hot work, and perspired at every
pore. At last, in about an hour and a half, we reached Castellar,
perched upon the summit of the rock or acclivity, which is 1200 feet
above the level of the sea. We found it a very curious old Italian
village—a type, however, of others which we subsequently saw. It
consists of two long narrow streets, and of three ranges of miserable
old houses, offering wretched uncomfortable holes for the inhabitants,
the wretchedness being probably to some extent redeemed by the natural
purity of the air. On the outside walls, the windows, where they
exist, stand high, and are small (in many places merely loopholes for
guns), the town being so built as to afford some protection against
the roving expeditions of the Moors. Poor and miserable as the place
looks, it has, like all such villages, a grand church—that is, grand
in comparison with the dwellings and with the apparent poverty of the
people. The church is adorned by the usual spire, which forms a feature
of the little town or village, which, though picturesque at a short
distance, does not afford as much scope for the pencil of the artist
as some other similar villages. From the platform on which the town
stands, we obtained a splendid view of the mountains of Mentone and of
the bay below. After halting a very brief time, the party descended,
to be back before sunset—a precaution essentially needful to be
attended to by those who are subject to any weakness in the chest, and
by no means to be neglected even by those in robust health, as just
before sunset, and for an hour afterwards, a cold clammy air descends
or envelopes these regions. Going and returning occupied altogether
about three hours. We returned highly satisfied with this our first
expedition. On the way down, the graceful towers of the churches at
several points came prominently into view.

       *       *       *       *       *

After this hot day, we had two continuously wet days. The rain poured
heavily, the wind blew violently from the south–west, and the torrent
beds of the rivers were filled to an extent I never saw subsequently.
The rain was no doubt very beneficial to a country which gets so
little, while the flood must have proved useful in clearing out the
bed of the river, with all its accumulations of dirt, soapy washings,
and olive refuse. As the stream in flood brings down with it soil from
the mountains, on this and on other similar occasions, the rivers,
by carrying out what they hold in solution to the sea, discolour
the water, and the sea was a deeply–marked brown for a considerable
distance on and along the coast. The waves were high, and dashed
grandly on the shore, and broke beautifully over the pier. Only on one
occasion during this winter were they so violent as to dash over the
promenade. We were informed it was a good sign that the winter should
commence, as it had done, with heavy rain, as it generally ensured a
long continuance of fine weather further on in the season. There were a
few wet days in November and December, and all January and February we
had it, nearly continuously, fine, dry, and open. The clearness of the
atmosphere of Mentone is one of its great recommendations. There are
no fogs such as we have at home, though what seemed to be the mistral
produces an approach to them; but there are occasional cloudy days, and
when the sun gets behind a cloud, the air is cold, sometimes keenly so.
Wet days, however, are exceedingly useful to the visitor for keeping up
correspondence, which the attractions out of doors tempt him to neglect
in fine weather.

During one of the days of the week upon which it did not rain, I took a
walk with a friend to the gorge of St. Louis. The road was very muddy,
in consequence of the rain which had fallen; indeed, it is very seldom
this road is in an agreeable condition. It is laid with soft limestone,
which is ground down by heavy carts laden with enormous stones which
are being conveyed from the rocks from which they are blasted to the
breakwater. The dust so formed lies about three inches deep upon the
road. Every horse, carriage, and cart which passes raises a cloud; but
when the wind blows, it becomes insufferable, and there is hardly any
possibility of brushing the dust out of one’s clothes. Rain converts
the dust into mud, and when the mud has obtained a consistency by being
baked in the sun, it forms into hard ruts trying to the pedestrian.

The gorge was fully two miles distant from our hotel, and was a
frequent point to which we subsequently walked or drove. To reach it
from the west end we may pass through the Avenue Victor Emanuele, where
the shops are, and its continuation, the Rue St. Michael. The road
then skirts the water by the Quai Bonaparte (so called after Napoleon
I., who constructed the Corniche road, of which this is a part), and
looking up, we saw the old town with its ridge upon ridge of high old
dingy houses, like so many terraces one over the other—a very hanging
garden (though garden is anything but the suitable word) of old roofs
and chimney–tops; while, looking over the parapet wall, the water lying
15 or 20 feet below, a fine view of the bay and little harbour is had.
But this part of the road is always under shade after twelve o’clock,
and is exceedingly trying to invalids. I have often thought that the
municipal authorities might effect a vast improvement if they would
construct a diagonal road across from its commencement at the well to
the Hotel de la Paix. The water is very shallow, apparently only a few
feet deep; and though it would be a work of time and would require
much material, it would really be of vast importance to Mentone, as
then the invalid could walk or drive either to or from the east bay
at any time of day without danger. The space intervening between the
embankment so to be formed and the Quai Bonaparte, might afterwards
be filled up and converted into a large public garden. The operation,
however, would be costly, although the stone for forming it is at
hand. But taking things as they are, the road continues in front of
the various hotels I have already mentioned. Whether it was that the
air here is more confined than in the west bay, I know not, but we
never could walk along this long dusty stretch without a feeling of
languor such as was not experienced in other and much longer walks,
so that we were always ready to take rest on one of the seats placed
by the roadside. After proceeding a good way, the road at the east
bend of the bay divides, and one fork winds up to the gorge and on to
Italy. The other fork turns aside into a promenade (now in course of
formation), as yet short, by the margin of the sea and along the rocks
of the coast, which will, when completed, become, as even now to some
extent it is, a very agreeable accession to the amenity of the east
bay, where there are not so many nice walks as are in the neighbourhood
of the west bay. Reaching the gorge, which forms a dividing ravine
between the mountains of the Berceau and Belinda, and is crossed by a
bridge, conspicuous from most parts of Mentone, standing about 200 feet
above the stream below, and a good deal more below the rocks towering
above, we can at the north end of the bridge place one foot in France
and the other in Italy. The Italian _douaniers_ have a station–house
a little beyond, perched prominently on the summit of the rock. The
French _douaniers_ have theirs on the road near to the junction of the
above–mentioned two roads, the two houses being stationed considerably
apart, as if to prevent the possibility of quarrel.

The view from the bridge is remarkably fine, and should be seen in
the morning, as when the sun gets round to the west or south–west, it
throws much of the scene into the shade, and is, besides, too dazzling
to behold. The harbour lies under us, a good mile off, with its few
ships and boats, and the picturesque old town; beyond it, the west
bay, Cape Martin, and all the panorama of mountains which stretch to
the north and north–west of Mentone, the aspect of whose outlines and
rugged tops, being so near, changes at every different point of view.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the afternoon of the same day, we took a walk up one of the valleys.
These valleys are all favourite walks to those residing in the west
bay. The views from the bridges which span them at the mouths of
the river or rivers, supposed to run below them, are each different
from the other, and are exceedingly picturesque. The one next to us
was the Carrei or Turin valley. The torrent bed of this river course
is confined from its mouth, where it is narrowed (speaking from
recollection) to about 60 or 80 feet, and for a considerable way up and
beyond the railway viaduct, by sloping bulwarks of masonry. After this
the bed, no longer so confined, widens very considerably, and about a
mile from the mouth gets broad and bare; farther up still, it narrows
again, and becomes the rocky bed of what sometimes may be called a
river, but usually is nothing but a small stream. Within Mentone the
bed is crossed by two wooden foot bridges, one wooden suspension bridge
for carriages and foot passengers, and a railway viaduct. Looking up
and northward from the wooden foot bridge which spans the river course
at its mouth, and placed for the purpose of connecting two portions
of the promenade, one of the grandest views in Mentone is had.[21] On
either side of the spectator the Eucalyptus and Spanish fig trees,
the flowering aloes and other trees of the public gardens, offer a
leafy inclosure; and carrying the eye along upon the left side up
the right bank of the Carrei to the railway viaduct, and beyond it,
we observe the tall plane trees of the avenue leading to the railway
station casting their shadows over the road, and in the afternoon over
the river course, giving the aspect of agreeable shelter from the
sun. On the right side, like theatrical side scenes run in one behind
the other, bright–looking villas with their coloured jalousies and
red–tiled roofs, diversified by an occasional one in blue lead and
French roof, project out of gardens,—the Hotel du Louvre and the Hotel
des Îles Britanniques, in the rear of all, being by a bend of the river
scarcely visible from this bridge. Then a mountain ridge within half a
mile from the bridge crosses the view above 1000 feet high, and crowned
by a monastery (St. Annunciata), and with slopes here concealed by
olive, lemon, and orange trees, in regular terraces, and there broken
and exposed by rock and steep earthy–looking sides, as if washed away,
and dotted elsewhere by coloured houses, and with straggling pine trees
bristling up from the immediate background; while behind all this, as
a grand back scene, rising boldly out of rounded, verdant, or stony
slopes, mingled and varying in aspect each hour with the course of the
sun, which throws the shadows in the morning westward and the afternoon
eastward, and sometimes bathes them in light, and sometimes veils them
in shade, the rocky, rugged heights of the mountains (seen here in part
only), some of them only two to three miles distant, tower up, thrown,
in lines clear and strong, upon the limpid blue sky tying cloudless and
serene above. The subject is one which frequently engages the pencil or
the brush of the amateur; but the situation is public, and one cannot
attempt a sketch without inviting inquisitive looks by crowds of those
who are too polite to stop and hang over one’s head in heaps, like
the wondering and intently watchful, concerned, and admiring _gamins_
of the street, but who are rude enough sometimes to pass repeatedly
back and forward, shaking the bridge with every footfall, and jostling
each other and the artist for a look over the shoulder as they pass.
The scene is one which I never could tire of beholding. It has been
photographed, but photographs never give a mountain view with the
clearness and effect of a good drawing.

       *       *       *       *       *

But leaving the bridge and proceeding to the Avenue de la Gare, we
find on inquiry that this is the commencement of the road to Turin,
which is nearly 100 miles off, although about half way it is met by a
railway from Cuneo to Turin, and is now all but superseded for traffic
by the coast railway towards Genoa, the direct line to Turin branching
off at Savona, making a distance by rail of about, according to my
calculation, 183 miles. This road is the only one up the valleys which
can be traversed for any distance. A strong current of air frequently
blows down the valley and renders it occasionally in its shady parts
a cold walk for the invalid, who must in winter months carry wraps
for use when either he gets out of sunshine or the sun retires behind
a cloud. This current is, I presume, the cause of the west bay being
cooler than the east. It is, however, a charming walk up the road,
level for nearly two miles, and the greater part of the way—indeed,
almost the whole of it—being fringed with trees. For a little distance
after passing under the railway viaduct, pretty houses, in gardens
full of orange and lemon trees covered with fruit, are seen on both
sides of the river; and in spring, women are constantly met bearing on
their heads to town immense basketfuls of lemons and oranges. Farther
on, and on emerging from the shade of the monastery hill, a curious
range of oil–mills has been placed like steps one over the other on
the slope of the hill, driven each by a separate water wheel of large
diameter—the same water, apparently, by an economical arrangement,
driving the wheels successively as it falls. Some way beyond these
mills, the road begins to ascend and to wind, and, as the valley closes
in, thickly planted with trees on both sides, seems to become more
and more inviting; while peeps are had of Castellar, high overhead,
on the right, embosomed among olive groves. Rocky mountains, bold and
bluff, oppose themselves nearer and nearer to the spectator; the small
village of Monti and its white church and long spire is attained, and
after some miles by a zig–zag road, the summit, upwards of 2000 feet
high, and three miles from the sea, is won. An excellent excursion by
carriage along this road is to the picturesque village of Sospello,
22 kilometres, or about 14 miles distant from Mentone, passing and
visiting by the way the curious old town of Castiglione, which lies
perched up among the mountains (inaccessible by carriage) at a height,
it is said, of over 2500 feet above the sea.[22]

[Illustration: OIL MILLS CARREI VALLEY, MENTONE.]

The valley of Carrei, partly from its proximity to our hotel, was with
us a favourite walk, and could be visited also by a more sunny road for
a short way on the east bank of the river course. Here, as elsewhere,
the municipality have placed wooden seats, which are very acceptable
to pedestrians. Sometimes a whiff of cold air blowing down the valley
proves too trying to allow of sitting long; but one scarcely tires of
the bright glad sun, or the view of the hill slopes and verdure with
which they are covered all the year through, or of the bold mountains,
on the foremost central one of which may be discovered—particularly
with the aid of a glass, for it is at first hardly distinguishable by
the eye from the rocks on which it rests—the ruined castle of Ste.
Agnese, elevated like an eagle’s eyrie high up on the apparently
inaccessible summit.

       *       *       *       *       *

A trip to Ste. Agnese is generally taken by all who are not infirm.
Though not so arduous as the ascent of the Berceau, of the Grand
Mont, or of Mont Agel, which all command extensive views, but can
only be undertaken by the able–bodied, it is a somewhat fatiguing
excursion, and most people perform the ascent on donkey back. On the
13th December, the morning and day being fine, we started, a party of
twelve, with eight donkeys and two donkey–drivers. To reach the point
from which the ascent begins, we proceeded along the Nice road westward
to the Boirigo valley. The view from the bridge across this valley
was then (even still is, notwithstanding the erection of buildings
on each side, some of them lofty and uninteresting, has somewhat
contracted the view) much more open and extensive than that from the
Carrei bridge. It took in west, north, and east, the whole panorama of
mountain, twenty–eight peaks and pinnacles, enumerated in Giordan’s
little _Mentone Guide_ (1877), being counted from the bridge. A road
runs up each side of the river course, which is hemmed in like the
Carrei by bulwarks of masonry. The road upon the left bank does not
proceed above a mile, when—at a picturesquely–situated olive–oil mill,
embosomed among olive and lemon trees, and bordered by a pretty stretch
of the channel of the river, lying at the bottom of a dell closed
in by wooded hills on both sides—it is shut in and becomes a donkey
path buried among the trees of the valley, the river in the ravine
below meantime narrowing correspondingly. The walk by this delightful
path through the woods arrives at an old stone bridge leading to the
village of Cabriole, whence by a steep ascent Ste. Agnese may be taken.
The road upon the right bank terminates more speedily, entering at a
large pottery upon ‘the primrose valley,’ the river course of which,
delightfully shut in by high banks, is usually all but dry. Up both
valleys we have had many pleasant strolls. On the present occasion,
proceeding only a short way beyond the railway viaduct, we left the
last–mentioned road, and, ascending by a steep donkey path, gradually
gained the top of a ridge, along which, at a gradient gently inclining
upward, a walk lies, protected, like that to Castellar, by trees, and
looking down on the Gorbio valley—on the one side, its great plain
thickly planted with olive trees, and terminated at its north end by
the town of Gorbio, as if resting on an island peak; and on the other,
on the Boirigo valley and the monastery heights. It took us some time
to reach the base of the mountains, when the path became rough with
loose stones, and steep and toilsome. Nearly three hours elapsed from
the time of our leaving the hotel till we reached one of the mountain
roadside chapels, with which the country abounds, constructed not
only to point religious feelings, but as covered places of refuge
from a storm. As usual, a cross stood by it, bent to the north–east,
indicating that south–west were the violent and prevailing winds.
This chapel, which could easily have held all our party and more in
a storm, was a short way below the town of Ste. Agnese, and afforded
a convenient resting–place ere proceeding farther. We had from it a
good view of Ste. Agnese, which, being placed back on the north side
of the mountain, is not visible from Mentone. It stands about 2100
or 2200 feet above the level of the sea. The castle, now in ruins,
on the summit, is above 300 feet higher. As a stronghold it was no
doubt almost unassailable; for on one side the rock may be said to be
perpendicular, and the other sides are, as I learnt from the ascent,
very steep. The town of Ste. Agnese, which we had yet a good pull to
arrive at, is another of those curious villages which are seen in
the Riviera. From a little distance it has a deserted, ruinous look,
and the place does not improve upon nearer acquaintance. Of course,
notwithstanding the apparent poverty of the inhabitants, it has a grand
church with a spire to it, and we had chanced to light upon a fête
day; for, as we were sitting on the rocks beyond it at lunch (brought
with us as usual on such excursions, and forming no unacceptable
part of their enjoyment),[23] we cast our eyes down upon the steep
hillside below, and there we saw winding up, quite a number of priests
and people with images, banners, and other insignia. On reaching the
plateau on which we were, they halted to rest, and then formed into
procession, one priest bearing in front a large crucifix with a figure
of our Saviour on it, life–size; and all chanting, proceeded to the
church.

Resting some time, a few of us ventured to climb to the castle. An
interesting legend (fully narrated in Pemberton’s _Monaco_, p. 351)
attaches to it. During the latter half of the tenth century, Haroun,
a bold African chief, in command of a formidable fleet, was cruelly
ravaging the coast and carrying off captives, among whom was a maiden
of Provence called Anna, of illustrious birth and marvellous beauty.
The vessel bearing her to Spain had been taken after a bloody battle,
in which her father and two brothers were killed. Haroun had first
pitied and protected her, and then fell violently in love with her. His
jealous wife, divining the fact from his altered demeanour, gave orders
to bind her and have her by night cast into the sea. Discovering this
in time, he saved Anna’s life, and in his rage caused his wife to be
strangled. Arriving opposite Ste. Agnese, and struck by the advantage
of the position, he landed with 100 men and his captives, the natives
flying before him, ascended the mountain, and built the fort. Here he
importuned the disconsolate maid to renounce Christianity and marry
him, but in vain; till, finding her one day praying for him, he was
overcome, embraced Christianity himself, and fled with her and all his
treasure to Marseilles, where they were joyfully received and were
married.

The return took rather shorter time than the ascent; but the expedition
occupied nearly the whole day from breakfast–time till dark. We might
have descended by two or three different routes, but chose the way by
which we had come. One of the other routes would have been by going
round the mountain and descending upon the east side; but I believe it
is very steep, and not much approved by the guides or donkey people.
Another route would have been by diverging from the road by which we
had ascended and coming down another ridge, called the Arbutus Walk
(from the circumstance that it is filled with arbutus trees, with their
brilliant scarlet and gold flower and fruit, so tempting and attractive
to young people), and terminating in the Madonna Hill, a very favourite
walk from Mentone. All in the hotel who had not taken part were eager
to hear about our expedition, and we became for the nonce heroes, as
famous as if we had made the ascent of Mont Blanc.

       *       *       *       *       *

If one were to ascend simply to obtain a view, that from Ste. Agnese,
or even from the castle on the top, would scarcely repay the fatigue
of the ascent. It is dominated by a chain of rocky mountains, which
surround it on every side except that to the sea; and the view towards
the sea—that is, towards Mentone—is not more extensive than what may
be obtained from many lower points upon which we there look down,
and among others the monastery of Annunciata, which seems a long way
immediately below, although it stands high, and is a prominent object
from Mentone.

To this monastery we paid several visits. It stands on the ridge
between the Carrei and Boirigo valleys, and is said at one time—by
no means, looking to its position, unlikely—to have been the former
site of Mentone and of a castle. The plateau on which now the chapel
and monastery are built is above 1000 feet high, and is attained by
another of those donkey paths of which there are so many on the hills.
In fact, various such paths, more or less steep, conduct up to it
from different parts. The main ascent from the Carrei valley is sharp
and steep enough, and has the usual allowance of twelve or fifteen
chapels or stations by the way—little places like sentry–boxes, in
which sometimes objects of worship are placed. A small church or
chapel forms an adjunct to the monastery. Its walls are covered over
with votive pictures in commemoration of miraculous escapes from great
dangers, but of the rudest description. They depict the danger escaped,
and the Virgin opportunely appearing in the clouds to interpose and
save, and are very singular specimens of art, drawn by the merest
tyros—or rather babes—in art. It is surprising how those in charge of
the church could allow it to be desecrated by such trashy attempts at
the pictorial. The thing, however, is to be seen in many other such
churches. Our first visit to this spot was at Christmas–time (29th
Dec.), when the monks dress up a little crypt below the chapel in a
very curious way, so as to represent the Nativity of our Lord. On a
raised platform a country–side is seen, with rocks, and plains, and
rustic bridges, studded over by little puppet figures or dolls about
a foot high, others in the distance smaller, personating different
characters—kings, Roman soldiers, shepherds with some woolly sheep,
and Joseph and Mary standing in the midst of all. Near them a little
babe lies on the ground, and kneeling before and adoring it a figure,
I suppose, representing one of the Magi. Nor are angels wanting to
complete the representation; while in a recess in the distant vista a
toy Noah’s Ark is set, supposed to be resting on Ararat, satisfactorily
proving by ocular demonstration that Noah’s Ark was, at the time of the
Nativity, visible. The figures are evidently carved, by the hands of
the monks, as the faces differ entirely from those of ordinary dolls,
and from each other. It must cost the monks a good deal of labour to
make the arrangements; but they have, I presume, little else to do, and
it no doubt furnishes an agreeable occupation, which doubtless they
grievously want. At stated hours of the day they may be heard with
sepulchral voices chanting service; and as they seem to have nothing
else to do, I suppose it may literally be said their vocation is, ‘_Vox
et preterea nihil_.’

       *       *       *       *       *

The most westerly of the valleys is that of Gorbio, which in some
respects is the most beautiful, as it is the most secluded of all
the three. It has no broad torrent bed like those of the Carrei and
Boirigo, and in fact the river can scarcely be seen between its
entrance to the sea and a long way up the valley, the road between
these points lying at some distance from the river, in a ravine below,
winding its course over rocks and among trees which hide it from sight.
The valley, everywhere wooded, and river derive their name from the
town of Gorbio, which crests a lofty conical–shaped rock or height 1400
feet high, about three miles distant from Mentone. The olive–covered
ridges rise also on either side the valley pretty steeply, and hem it
in.

On 14th February a party was made up from our hotel to go to Gorbio,
sixteen in number, with nine donkeys and three donkey attendants. We
left at half–past nine in the morning and got back at five o’clock.
There is now a good carriage road for a considerable distance up the
valley; but at that time it was only in course of formation, and was
very rough. Where the road ceases, the ascent, hitherto gentle, becomes
more perceptible; and on arriving at a point below the height on which
Gorbio stands, we had to look up to it far above on the summit of its
bold abrupt rock. It looked magnificent, and the sketchers of the
party longed exceedingly to take it from that point; but the donkeys,
or their drivers or riders, had no compassion, and, as it was not
desirable to separate on such excursions, the chance on this occasion
was lost, though, by starting a little earlier than the party, I got it
on a subsequent visit.

The ascent to the top was steep by a donkey path, but the town was
very curious. It has been, I believe, the scene of many battles. After
inspecting it amidst the gazing of a crowd of idle inhabitants, we
adjourned to a grassy bank a little outside, where we enjoyed our
lunch, and the four sketchers were recompensed by obtaining a view of
the town from an excellent point. As Gorbio is an excursion frequently
made, we were surrounded by children, who kept us in a state of siege
for coppers, which they are led by the injudiciousness of visitors to
expect, and it was no easy matter to shake them off. We had still a
great deal before us to do; so, as soon, as possible, the donkeys were
remounted, and we proceeded along a mountain path, gradually reaching
an elevation several hundred feet above Gorbio, on which we then looked
down. All along this path we had splendid views, including one of the
village of Ste. Agnese and the mountain on which it stands, which,
from that point presenting its edge to us, appeared like a sharp Swiss
aiguille. After a long circuit, we reached a point, at which the party
dismounted and walked to the top of a hill commanding the valley;
and then began the descent by a rough, stony, mountainous path to
Rochebrune, about two miles off. Some of our party, keeping too high
up, had to descend the mountain so perpendicularly that they could only
liken the declivity to the side or face of a house.

Rochebrune rests upon the slope of a hill looking westward, down upon
the Corniche road, on Monaco and the sea, between 600 and 800 feet
below. The ruins of a castle stand upon a rock, which is said to have
slipped down from a cliff 200 or 300 feet above. This, if true, would
be a remarkable and unique circumstance. The town itself, which is
about three or four miles from Mentone, from which it is a favourite
excursion, is very picturesque, and affords many choice bits for the
artist, I think more so than any similar town in the neighbourhood.
One of our party jocularly proposed to come and spend a fortnight
there, and take sketches; but to any civilised person it would be just
as agreeable to spend the time, if that were possible, in a rabbit
warren, to which another compared it. The view towards Monaco and the
hills beyond it is very fine, but requires to be seen before the
afternoon sun comes round. There are two ways of reaching Mentone from
Rochebrune—one, by going down to the Corniche road a little below; and
the other, by descending through terraces of fine old olive trees, one
of which, in the pathway leading out of the village, is of immense
girth, and must be of great age. It is said that some of the olive
trees in this neighbourhood are considered to be nearly two thousand
years old. The trunks of these olives are often very curious, from the
mode in which they divide or split up and twist about. By either way
to Mentone, splendid views are obtained, and the usual course on an
excursion to Rochebrune is to go by one route and return by the other.
In going by the road, we skirt the tongue of land called Cape Martin.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the most interesting and most usual walks or drives from Mentone
is to this Cape Martin—to the point it is above two miles distant;
and it is at present, or was while we were there, reached either by
the rough, stony beach, disagreeable for the feet, but the shorter
way, and pleasant, as passing by the ocean and having the view open to
the scenes around. In time, it is expected that the promenade will be
extended all along the coast to the cape, which will make approach to
it by the shore a most agreeable walk. The other access, much longer,
is by proceeding along the dusty high road leading to Monaco to some
distance beyond the Hôtel? du Pavillon, and passing under a railway
viaduct which crosses the road to a rough side road or avenue which
diverges to the left and winds through a delicious plantation of
fine old olive trees, with knotted, and gnarled, and divided trunks,
and long, vigorous branches which stretch fantastically overhead and
interlace; while the sun glinting through them here casts alternate
lights and shadows on the white limestone road, and there shoots in
streaks through the openings, speckling the forest with glancing
radiance, shifting and changing as the olive boughs wave, and their
tender leaves turning now their silver breasts and now their green
backs to the breeze, shimmer in the light; while the carpet of grass
is spread underneath, dotted over with violet and anemone; and the
distance is dark, shut out by the thicket of trees, and the background
of shrubs, and banks, and hill. As the road proceeds, it again passes
under another railway bridge, the trains over which whistle and whirl
on, scaring the passers–by, and breaking incongruously on the quiet of
the scene, as if winged demons had escaped and in a state of fright
rushed in hot and fiery to disturb the tranquillity of the land and
break its peace. Then walled gardens are passed, closely planted with
orange trees, laden in bunches with their tempting fruit. Still keeping
on this rustic road amidst more olive trees, we at last arrive upon an
open part, and behold a church of curious design on the one hand, and
the blue Mediterranean on the other, and before us the avenue along the
margin of the promontory. Here it had unhappily been intended to have
built a town, and as a commencement three villas have been erected; but
the situation is not only too distant from Mentone, but is on the wrong
side of the hill, seeing the sun leaves it in cold shade soon after
noon; and thus, though commanding a splendid view all along the coast
eastward, they have not found favour, and stand silent and all but
deserted. Beyond these villas, and at the entrance to the wooded hill,
the carcass of an unfinished Roman arch, intended no doubt as a grand
portal to the projected new town, spans the road, which, proceeding by
the border of the promontory, and overhanging it, looks down through
the trees and rocks to the lovely sea sporting about in little pools,
or surging and breaking on its natural bulwarks, while the slopes of
the hill above on the right hand side are densely overspread with wood.
At the end of the avenue, where the shelter of the hill terminates,
the strength and usual lie of the wind are manifested in the bent and
twisted forms of the trees, most of which are inclined, curved, or
in some cases doubled down, as if bowing in lowly obeisance towards
Mentone in the north–east, the south–west winds blowing fiercely
across the ocean when they come. The walks through the forest and up
to the semaphore on the top are charming, and make Cape Martin one of
the most enjoyable of the easy excursions from Mentone, so that the
visitors have great cause to congratulate themselves that the building
speculation came to nought. If building be ever resumed, it is to be
hoped the forest will be spared to the public, and that any houses will
be placed on the west or sunny side; although it would be a mistake
there too, as it is wholly without shelter from the west. It is not
unusual for large parties to come to picnic in the woods and enjoy the
scene, bringing their lunch with them. Some houses were commenced on a
level plateau at the point, one of them suspiciously like an incipient
restaurant, but, no doubt, being found to be too much exposed, were
abandoned, and what little was put up is now going to wreck and ruin.
It is to be hoped that Cape Martin will never be desecrated by any
such concern in the future. Here, at and round the point, the land is
surrounded by a belting of rocks and sharp pinnacles, worn so by the
breaking of the waves, and upon these pinnacles the sea is continually
breaking. In stormy weather, it is beautiful to observe the waves
rolling in and striking the rocks with great violence, and dashing high
into the air, shivering into millions of shining particles, forming
spray, which spreads and scatters in brilliant showers all round.
Nor is it less beautiful, when the breeze is gentle, to watch the
waves rolling majestically in, the hot sun shining through the long
well–dressed line as if it were through purest glass of the brightest
sea–green, and then to observe the rearing crests tumbling grandly over
as they charge to the death and deliver themselves one after another on
the rocky beach, which with a calm steadiness receives the shock.

From Cape Martin fine views are had of Monte Carlo, Monaco, with the
more distant Antibes, and even the Estrelles; while north–eastward, as
if in long white robes, the young Mentone lies nestling or cradled in
at the foot of the high range of mountains which, like gigantic Titans,
in mute serenity hang over, and watch and guard with placid pride
the smiling, sleepy little town to which they have given birth. With
scenery so romantic, the point of the cape has become a very favourite
haunt of the artist. It is seldom a visit is paid to it in which,
if the weather be fine (for in cold weather one cannot sit long),
persons are not to be seen taking sketches or elaborating more finished
pictures, for which a capital foreground is furnished by the bent and
distorted trees.

       *       *       *       *       *

But it would be endless to describe or even to enumerate all the
many walks and excursions which are possible from Mentone. These are
principally from the western side; but we had occasionally walks in
the other direction. I have already mentioned the walk to the gorge of
St. Louis. There is another walk which we sometimes had to the rocks
below and beyond the gorge, called ‘Les Rochers rouges’ from their red
colour. These derive a peculiar interest from their containing certain
caves or fissures in the rock, disclosed or opened up by the formation
of the railway, out of one of which was exhumed the skeleton, or what
is called the fossil skeleton, of a man. This, of course, is held up
as evidencing the existence of man anterior to the creation of Adam,
by those who believe in the existence of Preadamites. The skeleton is
in Paris, and I have seen neither it nor the _brochure_ of Dr. Rivière
describing the discovery; but I noticed that the sides of the cave—as
it at present stands, after the excavations for the railway—are not
more than 20 feet apart at the bottom, the cave extending probably 40
feet inward, and about 50 or 60 feet high; but these eye measurements
are sometimes deceptive. It is of very soft limestone, and in other
parts of the rocks there are huge stalactites depending. It may
therefore be very safely said that stalactite would at an early
period form with great rapidity, and speedily cover up what the cave
contained. I was informed, however, that the skeleton was found about
9 feet below the surface, in the midst of debris. In these caves, and
elsewhere round about, many flint implements have been found, and some
of them are collected in the Natural History Museum in the Hotel de
Ville at Mentone. The workmen finding them sell them to strangers for a
few pence.

Dr. Bennet’s and Mr. Hanbury’s gardens both lie in this direction—Dr.
Bennet’s, on the rocks above the Italian _douane_ station; Mr.
Hanbury’s, about a mile and a half farther on the road to Ventimiglia.
They may properly be called hanging gardens, and are not laid out as
gardens are with ourselves. Many tropical plants are growing in them in
the open air.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our best excursion in this direction was that to the top of Belinda.
We started on 31st January 1877, a party of eleven, with six donkeys.
The walkers drove to Pont St. Louis, where they were overtaken by
those on donkeys. All then proceeded a little beyond the bridge and
the station of the Italian _douane_, and ascended by very steep paths
to the village of Grimaldi, about 700 feet above the sea, on the slope
or shoulder of Belinda, and seen from Mentone picturesquely buried
among the olive trees. This is another of those curious old towns with
the usual appendage of a church and spire. The slope on which it is
built is all but perpendicular, so that house rises over house, and
the back base of a house is greatly higher than the front. Clovelly in
North Devon is nothing to it. Roads are impossibilities. There are no
streets, only narrow paths, or at best donkey tracks, through it. By
one of these paths, winding upward, we were led to a point right above
the gorge of St. Louis. From this dizzy height, the party, halting,
looked down upon the precipitous yawning gulf below, and then across
the bay towards Mentone, and upward towards the mountains, which this
new position threw into shapes different from any observable from other
points. Having taken in this striking view, we are urged to proceed by
a very rough path, some parts of which are so uncommonly steep that
those riding were compelled to dismount from their donkeys, and manage
the ascent, like the others, as best they could; and so, alternately
scrambling up pretty nearly perpendicular parts, and alternately
winding up and jogging on by gentle ascents, where the donkeys were
remounted, and through a forest of young trees, we, in about two hours
and a half from the time of leaving the hotel, inclusive of a halt of
half an hour at Grimaldi, attained the top of Belinda.

[Illustration: PROMENADE DU MIDI, MENTONE.]

This mountain is, as already stated, 1702 feet high, and the view
from the top of it is very extensive. We fancied we saw westward
along the French coast, beyond the Estrelles, as far as the Îles d’Or
off Hyères. If so, this would be a distance of fully ninety miles.
On the east side, we could not see along the Italian coast beyond
Bordighera, as the mountains rise and shut out further view in that
direction. The huge rocky Berceau towered up in close proximity, to
the north; and behind it, away to the eastward, we saw the tops of the
snowy Maritime Alps peering up in magnificent white drapery; while
between them and the coast lay a peculiar species of high, barren,
bleak, desolate–looking mountains, intersected by wild and bare river
courses; and more immediately below us, portions of the ramparts of
Ventimiglia; and beyond, the long arm of Bordighera, appearing, from
this point of view, stunted and different from its aspect at Mentone.
The wind was blowing piercingly cold from the north–east at the top,
so that we could not gaze at the scene in this direction above a few
minutes; but just below the top, on the western slope, we found shelter
and sun warmth, and enjoyed our lunch and the splendid prospect. On
returning, we descended by a different path, which in many parts might
well be termed a _mauvais pas_. It was often so bad and so precipitous
that the riders, in dread of their necks, were soon obliged to leave
their saddles and walk. At last we reached the Corniche road, near to
Mr. Hanbury’s garden, and by this road returned home. From the heights
we had seen a cloud of dust hanging over the road to Mentone, in
consequence of the wind having risen to a gale. We now were under the
necessity of encountering this dust, and, barring the chill blast on
the hill–top, it formed the only obstacle to a thorough enjoyment of
this most delightful excursion, which occupied altogether between seven
and eight hours.

       *       *       *       *       *

Although Mentone thus possesses so many walks and excursions in its
neighbourhood, of which only a few have been touched upon, there
are some people who, going there, fancy that it is an unattractive
place. The fact is, that these people do nothing but walk up and down
the promenade, perhaps also proceeding a short way up one or two of
the valleys, and in all likelihood never even so much as venturing
through the obstructions to the pier or the breakwater wall in course
of formation, and now extending some length, from which one of the
best views of the mountain range is to be had. It may be imagined,
therefore, that a monotonous perambulation up and down the same road,
however attractive in itself, may in time become tiresome, even if
we put out of consideration those numerous dullards upon whom fine
scenery or the charms of nature are altogether lost. In reality,
however, it is one of the most captivating promenades to be found
anywhere; and I always felt it to be in itself a very cheerful scene,
whether when gay with its moving crowds in a morning, or when in the
quiet repose of still life. But although preferring a quieter time,
it is when thronged and all ‘the world’ of Mentone is there that
seemingly to most people it is most inviting; and between the hours of
10 A.M. and 12, the Promenade du Midi is alive with promenaders, for
the earlier part of the day is considered to be the best period for
so walking. Twelve o’clock is the general lunch or early dinner hour,
and after that, or even before, the wind sometimes rises; but before
12, it is usually warm—nay, hot; and many men as well as women walk
out with white parasols (lined with green), and many with blue goggle
spectacles, to protect their precious eyes from the white glitter of
the road. Although the glistering blaze of the sun upon the water,
if caught direct, is too dazzling to abide, I never personally found
either the heat or the general glare so oppressive as to require these
protections, and it rather appeared to me that it was beneficial
to accustom the eyes to the light. On certain days a band of music
plays in the gardens in the afternoon (at other times playing at the
_cirque_, or at the new gardens at the East End), but we seldom heard
it, except by accident, as we devoted the afternoon to more distant
walks. To some people, however, the music was evidently an unfailing
attraction, although, so far as I could judge, the audiences were
mainly confined to French and Germans, and other continentals, who,
with some excellent exceptions, never seem to have any enjoyment beyond
occasionally a little light reading, a good deal of idle smoking, or
an endless elaborate thrumming on pianos, and on whom, therefore,
time hangs heavily. English people, women especially, have generally
an occupation of some kind. In reading, writing, sketching, and other
occupations, I was never myself without employment, and sometimes was
pressed enough for time.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the promenade one sees a good deal of the peculiarities of the
different countries represented in Mentone, especially in the matter
of dress; and on this account, if for no other reason, it affords
opportunities for observation not without their interest. Let us
take a walk. It is, we shall suppose, the 21st December, the shortest
day, cold and shivery in the north, and verging to eleven o’clock of
the forenoon. The fishing operations of the morning are over, and
the boats engaged in it have been drawn up upon the beach. The water
carts, small wooden boxes drawn by men, have performed their rounds,
and the roadway is moist, but is rapidly drying up under the burning
beams of the hot sun; but the dust is laid. The sea is tranquil—not
a ripple disturbs it, except at the very edge, where it lazily turns
over in the tiniest of waves, as if the exertion implied far too much
fatigue for this melting day. A ship has ventured out of the harbour,
spreading its white sails in vain attempt to catch a breeze. A flock
of gulls are resting, in quiet happiness and contemplation, their
snowy bosoms on the glassy water. In the distance, bright Bordighera
is stretching its long green sleeve far into the blue sea, its fair
hand lighted by the sun; while its cathedral window, like a jewel
on the finger, catches and glistens with a blazing ray. Nearer, the
fortifications of Ventimiglia are peering round from behind a jutting
hill. Belinda, high and verdant; the gorge of St. Louis, deep in the
shade; and the lofty Berceau, just emerging into the solar beams, fill
up the near background, against which is cast the pier, terminated by
its old castle, and half concealing the little sheaf of masts which
it girdles, and bounded landward by a line of tall picturesque old
buildings, out of and above which the minarets of the town churches
gracefully rise. Then down along the promenade, on the one side, rests
the irregular and diversified line of hotels and houses and gardens,
partly filled with low trees, refreshing to the sight; while a low,
scrubby, ill–kept belt of evergreens, dusty and withered, strives at
some parts to guard the frontier on the other side against a careless
tumble down the bulwarks bordering the beach; and all along this level
road, common to man and to beast (for there is no footway), a crowd of
people is streaming. In the view of so much that is grand in nature,
we are at first hardly conscious of the concourse. We begin to move
down the promenade,—’cric–crac,’—turn the shoulder suddenly, and find
a _voiture_ has almost run us down. Neither man nor horse apologizes.
They pass on unheeding our well–merited indignation; and, as we cast a
fierce look and waste an English word, down comes another at full speed
with angry ‘crack, crack.’ Glad, like others, to jump unscathed away,
we are about to sit down upon one of the many wooden seats or forms
which the providence of Mentone has placed here and there to lessen
the lassitude of the human frame. In the very nick of time we luckily
discover a warning label, and are thankful we have not become for the
day men of mark; for the bright green seat, so delightfully clean and
pretty and enticing, has just been repainted. We look out for another,
for the sun is hot, and our limbs are getting jaded, and fortunately
detect one to which the attention of the municipal adorners of Mentone
has not as yet been directed.

And now pass in review before us all the inhabitants—no, not all the
inhabitants, but a considerable section of the visitors, intermingled
with a few of the residents of this remarkable place. Here comes a
short Cockney, broiling in a long Noah’s Ark Ulster—the young man has
no other upper coat, and, besides, it adds a span to his stature. Then
follow him in a row, three or four tall, lanky young Dutchmen in their
dapper little coatees. Then a party of German ladies, plump in figure
and peculiar in their body–gear and head–dress, their good looks set
off by a most comfortable–looking ruff or frill about the neck. They
are accompanied by a fair German gentleman in gold spectacles. As they
pass, their ‘Yahs’ and their ‘Achs’ betray their origin. Close after
saunters along a pleasant–looking clergyman, who, far from official
cares, wisely doffs official costume, and is accompanied by two
blooming English daughters. Near to him follows meditatively a priest
without daughters, whose bluish–black cheeks and chin disclose it to be
three days off from last shaving night. Now we must feel nervous and
think and shake about our misdeeds, for who should follow in the full
dignity of office but an imposing gendarme with fierce moustache, and
in cocked hat and hot blue cloth clothing, adorned by yards of twisted
cord, and swinging a murderous sword by his side. The little boys
could see him a mile off. We breathe more freely when he is past—this
terrible man of office. But nothing afraid, three women of Mentone are
close upon his heels, perhaps in gaping admiration. Two of them bear
on their heads each a large basket of dirty clothes they are taking to
some dirty pool to wash. The third leads a child, and wears a broad
Mentone flat hat, 16 inches wide at the very least. All are sturdy,
and their carriage is erect. The little child wears a red hood, which
tightly fits the round bullet head, and descends upon the neck and
shoulders. The women wear short woollen jackets reaching to the waist,
their lower drapery decently short. Another woman is behind, dressed
similarly, except that, instead of hat, she, in common with most other
native women, ties a coloured handkerchief round her head, and thus
with a presumable thickness of bone beneath becomes proof against solar
heat. Then succeed rows or groups of unmistakeable English in all
varieties of home costume, suitable or unsuitable, though occasionally
a damsel will glory in French attire, possibly a little Anglified.
Then other groups of equally unmistakeable French. Here and there a
solitary Frenchman steps out in full Parisian costume, with trig kid
gloves, high chimney–pot hat, and smart cane or white parasol. And
now and then a pale–looking young man, tended by an anxious sister or
still more anxious mother, walks slowly past. He has come too late
to obtain good. Had he come a year sooner, he might ere this, had it
been the Divine will, have regained his strength. All health resorts
abound with clergymen, particularly English and Scotch clergy—men of
all denominations, whose ministerial exertions seem to necessitate
occasional ‘retreats.’ Mentone is a favourite gathering–place for
them. Here comes one, with a broad, low–crowned wide–awake (clerical
undress), with white choker and lengthy surtout, his round face red
and jovial, and beaming with laughing jollity; and alongside of him
stalks a younger man of a sad and sallow countenance, whose greater
length of coat proves more veritable descent from the apostles. He has
just arrived from London, and is on his route to the great city of the
Italian king—perhaps hopes to have a secret meeting with the Pope. ‘I
can’t linger here,’ he says; ‘I am on my way to Rome.’ ‘Ay,’ replies
the older one, ‘so I see. I am content to remain here; half way, you
know—ha! ha!’ They stop a moment, shake hands, and as the younger
one turns carelessly to go, he nearly upsets an old fisherman with a
coil of ropes in his hand, a pending striped cowl on his head, and
clothed in a short wrought woollen coat and indescribable trousers,
patched, like the famous Delphian Boat, till no trace of the original
remains. One trouser leg is down, the other is drawn to the top, and
discloses a long, bare, dirty–looking, unwashed, hairy leg. The feet
are shoeless, the body spare, and the face pinched, as if he saw more
work than victuals, and browned, as if he handled more fish than
_savon_—in all likelihood the very personification of the fisherman of
Cæsar’s time. And now a nursery–maid with three lively little English
children toddle along, the young ones attired in Mentone hats of narrow
diameter, prettily decorated in worsted, but rather difficult articles
to attach to the head. Fortunately the wind does not blow. And now
jauntily trot up two riders—a young Englishman on a milk–white steed
and lady on a chestnut. They are off for a canter along the road to
Cape Martin. And then, as if in mockery, immediately follow an ass with
panniers, in each of which will be found planted a fat, chubby, small
child, looking dreamily contented or ignorantly happy, attended by
donkey–driver, pleased attentive nurse, proud mother, and a big little
brother with toy whip in hand astride another donkey. But here walks up
an old friend, a divinity professor, presumably of the Broad Church;
for is not the brim of his wide–awake broad enough to drive a coach and
four round it? We must rise and shake hands, the more especially as
we see stealthily approaching the lean painter, casting hungry looks
at the seat, as much as to say, ‘By your leave;’ and feeling really
desirous of being regarded blacker than we might be painted, we quit,
join our friend, and move on. All this time we have been revolving the
peculiarities of French female attire; for, generally speaking, we
could tell a French woman by her long sack–like cloak. According to the
fashion then prevailing, which may most likely be now changed, this
sack hung down from the shoulders, tapering outwards as it descended
to the bottom without any waist; for it seems to be the practice of
the French for the men all to dress so as to give them the appearance
of a wasp–like waist, and for the women all to dress as if waist they
had none. Nor can I say, having had no opportunities of knowing, unless
in observing the specimens of Mentone women walking about, whose
conformation, unaltered by dress, is striking, and apt to convey this
idea, being broad at the shoulders, broader still at the waist, and
broadest at the haunches. Then all the French ladies, in defiance of
surgical laws, wear high heels upon their shoes—sometimes no less than
three inches high; and perhaps I am not far wrong in saying that, with
few exceptions, every one of them in consequence walks badly, with a
short hobbling step. To crown all, there is often stuck upon the head
a bonnet like the hat of a typical Irishman, resembling an inverted
flowerpot, with a brim, if brim it be, no broader than that of the
article from which it is copied. Often, too, one sees a long gown tail
flourishing in the dust, which next morning is shaken vehemently by
the owner outside her room, and is brushed assiduously by the maid on
the staircase; so that out of the deposits from this stupid fashion,
the wearers do not positively kill their neighbours, but thoughtlessly
compel them to bite the dust. The picture of French women, therefore,
is not particularly inviting, though there is often a spicy jauntiness
about the mode and ornamentation of their costume which is peculiarly
taking. Upon a Sunday or fête day, young French children are habited
in the gayest of attire, sometimes smart and pretty, but at all times
to our eyes Frenchy, and frequently with alarmingly short, expanded
petticoats, and long, lanky, bare legs. In every case, these children
must be dressed out of all proportion to their position in life.
Occasionally a child dressed entirely in white, denoting its dedication
to the Virgin, will be seen. English young ladies may be at once
distinguished from French, inasmuch as they usually exhibit a most
disquieting tightening of the waist. Real wasps, however, in nothing
but the waist, it is truth to say they carry the palm in appearance and
good looks over the representatives of every other land.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of those customs which Sterne could hardly have said were better
ordered in France, is the French mode of passing people when walking.
Instead of doing so upon the right hand, they pass upon the left, which
certainly does not appear to British people to be nearly so natural
as their own mode; and till the English stranger becomes habituated
to the foreign custom, it is not inapt to produce a startling, if
not a striking, method of seeing eye to eye. Similarly, a contrary
rule exists as regards horses and vehicles. It would be well if there
were one general system observed all over the world for walking and
driving. In sailing, I think there is already a universal rule. In
saluting, foreigners always lift the hat, be it to man or woman of
their acquaintance, making a very ceremonious swing of the chapeau,
but little inclination of the body, and no movement whatever of the
countenance, thus imparting the impression of a very superficial,
heartless politeness. Perhaps there may be more kindliness in the
practice, at Mentone and elsewhere, of every man or woman met in the
mornings in the hotel saluting you and expecting you to salute them
with a ‘Bon jour.’ At home in some rural districts a similar usage is
occasionally encountered.

I have not observed many beggars in France, but in Mentone, so close
upon Italy, there are some professional or regular mendicants always
hunting the promenade and other parts; while all the native children
have been taught a very evil custom, which many men and women also
practise, of coming up to visitors, holding out the hand and saying,
‘Donnez moi un sou,’ or simply, ‘Un sou’ (Give me a halfpenny); and
some visitors, unconscious of doing harm, give them sous. An American
gentleman told me he had given away 8 sous in a single forenoon, being
all that he had about him. The children do not require them, and it
teaches them a very bad lesson, sapping their independence. Sometimes
the method is varied by presenting bunches of wild–flowers, or by lying
in wait and tossing the bouquet into passing carriages; for which, of
course, they expect, if accepted, to be recompensed.

       *       *       *       *       *

An excursion to Monte Carlo and Monaco is one which even the most
inveterate promenade walkers will at times take; and it is, indeed,
a very favourite one with most Mentone visitors, many going weekly,
and even oftener. The distance to Monte Carlo is about six or eight
miles, and young people occasionally walk it. Driving by carriage is
undoubtedly a most enjoyable mode of going. The road, after passing
some elegant villas, including the palace of the Carnoles family, the
former residence at Mentone of the princes of Monaco, for great part
of the way is bordered by olive and other trees, embosomed in the
midst of which, here and there, are brightly–painted houses and large
villas with a grand background of lofty mountains. Glorious views are
had by the way not merely of the mountain scenery, but of the bays,
of Cape Martin, of Rochebrune, of white–terraced Monte Carlo, and of
the singular projecting rock of Monaco with its castellated walls
and buildings, and overtopping it, rising with great abruptness, the
mountain called Tête de Chien, resembling very much in shape Salisbury
Crags at home, only three times as high, the height being stated to be
1810 feet. Just below Rochebrune, the road, keeping by the coast to
Monte Carlo, diverges from the Corniche road, which slowly ascends and
surmounts the Tête de Chien.

The railway is a more rapid means of conveyance, but its hours do not
always fit in with the visitor’s time.

The famous gambling tables at Monte Carlo, established in 1856, are,
I believe, the only thing of the kind now left in Central Europe. The
French Government, it is thought, would fain acquire the principality,
so as to put down this pernicious institution; but I presume it
would be too costly, at least in present circumstances, to arrange.
To attract visitors to the place, the grounds have been laid out in
beautiful terraces flanked by elegant white balustrades, the borders
being filled with palm and other exotic trees and shrubbery. The main
attraction, however, is contained in the Casino, which is a long
handsome building, in which are a spacious concert room, a reading room
with newspapers, and the gambling rooms. A first–class instrumental
band, numbering between seventy and eighty performers, attached to
the establishment, plays gratuitously to the visitors every afternoon
and evening, and on Thursdays gives a selection from classic music.
This daily concert, to which dramatic and other entertainments are
sometimes added, forms an excellent excuse to many for going to Monte
Carlo; and I have seen persons whom I would not have suspected of
passionate fondness for music, visiting it day after day—the real
moving cause being, no doubt, the hazard table. To see the mode of
operation, I once entered the room where the gambling is carried on.
For this purpose, application must be made, in a room off the hall,
for a ticket of admission, which specifies the length of time, say a
month or two months, during which the holder desires to use it. Upon
presenting a visiting card, and stating residence and country to which
the applicant belongs, the admission card is at once filled up and
handed over; but it is refused to natives of Monaco, nor are young
people allowed to enter the room. The roulette tables are divided into
squares, and corresponding numbers from O to 36. The gamesters place
their money stakes upon the squares, or, if they desire to spread their
chances, upon the lines which divide them. A revolving wheel and a
small ball are then simultaneously set in motion, and both circulate
many times before they stop. According to the divisional number of the
wheel into which the ball eventually falls, the fate of the stakers
is determined. The table has the advantage of 1 in 36 in its favour,
so that in the long run it always gains. If the gambler stake upon a
number into which the ball rolls, he gets thirty–five times the amount
of his stake; if upon the line between two numbers, and the ball fall
upon one of them, he gets only half; if staked at the junction of four
lines, correspondingly less. If O (zero) turn up, nobody gets anything,
unless zero have been staked on, and the player then gets thirty–six
times his stake. I do not profess either to describe the rules or even
to know them, and state these facts, possibly inaccurate, merely upon
casual information. The roulette stakes are not less than 5–franc
pieces, and are often gold; but the highest amount which can be staked
at one adventure is 6,000 francs, £240. It is astonishing with what
rapidity the game is renewed and carried on. The sums are laid down by
the eager onlookers, and as soon as the table is formed, which it takes
a very short time to do, round goes the wheel; and when the ball falls
into one of the spaces marked on the wheel, one of the men stationed at
the table calls out the number, rapidly pulls in the losing money, and
shovels out with equal rapidity the sums which are gained. Not a moment
is lost; the table is again formed, and the ball again decides the fate
of those who peril their money on its uncertain movements. There are
three such tables in the rooms, at each of which there are three or
four men in charge; and each table is always surrounded by a crowd of
onlookers and players, many of whom are persons who evidently cannot
afford to lose money. There is a fourth table, at which the lottery
is decided by a foolish game at cards, called ‘_trente et quarante_.’
The stakes here are always in gold, and the play is for much higher
sums than at roulette, the lowest stakes being 20 francs, and the
highest 12,000 francs (£480). I believe that most people not withheld
by principle, upon visiting the rooms, try their luck; and some visit
the neighbourhood with a given sum, which they risk from time to time
till all be lost,—a species of ‘limited liability’ which is better than
total want of restraint. Whether a first loss always is the least, or
often withholds from further play, I do not know; but I fear that, in
general, a spirit of infatuation seizes upon people, tempting them
either by failure to retrieve loss, or by success to go on further
and lose all. Most of the habitual players watch the turning of the
wheel, and form their own ideas or calculations as to what numbers or
combinations of numbers are fortunate, and act accordingly. It is a
sad temptation to silly young men, who are often led on from bad to
worse, till they lose all they possess. The consequences are sometimes
distressing. At Mentone we heard that in one week, while we were there,
two young men, visitors, had committed suicide; but such occurrences do
not reach the newspapers.

It was pleasant to leave this gay though sad scene of a vicious
institution to stroll into the tasteful little shops permitted
outside, in which enticing fine–art wares in choice variety are
displayed, or wander about the gardens and terraces, sitting in the
sunshine under shelter of the trees from the air, which is often
cold at Monte Carlo when mild at Mentone, and looking at the lovely
scenes around. But there is, out of doors, one object suggestive of
any feeling but that of admiration; it is the pigeon palace, upon and
around which, unconscious of their fate, the poor pigeons are seen in
crowds, bred to become marks for the would–be sportsmen. The shooting
of these gentle birds is one of the most barbarous descriptions of
pastime; it has not even the recommendation of sport. The shooters
might as well fire at barn–door fowls.

       *       *       *       *       *

The drive from Monte Carlo to Monaco is down a decline of little more
than half a mile. The Palace of Monaco is visible upon Saturdays, and
to see it specially, we devoted a forenoon. After ascending by a long
fortified or walled road within the castle, the flat summit of the
rock was reached; and here we found a large open space, or esplanade,
or _place d’armes_, facing the palace and between it and the town. The
palace, however, was not open to the public till one o’clock; so that
we first visited the town, which of course is a small one, limited to
the size of the rock, but possessing a population of about 1500. It is
intersected by narrow streets, outside of which there are shady walks
upon the south and west margins or edges of the rocks, among which we
rambled, and at parts could look down to the water, more than 200 feet
below. As the rock projects so far into the ocean, it is withdrawn
from the shelter of the mountains, and is exposed to the mistral as
well as to the north wind; so that the town itself, inhabited solely
by the native population, is no doubt often a cold residence during
winter. The principality, whose independence was recognised by the
Treaty of Paris of 1815, used to extend on the mainland fifteen miles
in greatest length by six in greatest breadth. In 1860, the Mentone
portion was ceded to the Emperor of the French for £12,000. Monaco is
now, therefore, greatly shorn; but the revenues are said to be 350,000
francs, or £14,000 yearly. The palace, a large one for a prince whose
territory is now so circumscribed, is square, with a courtyard in the
centre, round which the buildings are placed, and on one side of which
a handsome outside marble staircase leads to a splendid suite of state
rooms. We were shown through these rooms, each of which is hung and
decorated in a uniform tint or hanging, but each room differing from
the others. It was interesting, a sort of Versailles in miniature. We
were also conducted through the adjoining gardens at the extreme north
and more sheltered end of the rock, which, though small, are filled
with palm and other trees and plants growing luxuriantly, forming a
pleasant retreat to the inhabitants of the palace.

Monaco is a place of great antiquity, its origin having been traced
back as far as 1700 years B.C. Its history has been most eventful, and
is set forth in full detail in Pemberton’s _History of Monaco_, where
the oppression suffered by the people at the hands of its princes,
and the spirited resistance made, especially by the Mentonnais, who
ultimately succeeded, without violence, in throwing off the yoke, will
be found narrated.

       *       *       *       *       *

The villas about Mentone are, as already mentioned, like the
generality in the Riviera, painted in lively colours, and surmounted
by tidy–looking red–tiled roofs. Slate is unknown, though sometimes
roofs are covered with what appears to be lead or zinc, imparting a
little variety. The windows of all the houses have outside jalousies,
generally painted green. These Riviera houses resemble somewhat
in colouring the houses in a German box of toys, or one of those
vividly–coloured dolls’ houses sold in toyshops. They give a remarkable
brightness to the landscape, more especially where the hills are
covered extensively and monotonously with the sombre olive tree. All
houses are painted, and sometimes very fantastically, in imitation of
shaped stones, carvings, projections, and other architectural features,
and even of roofs, and they are so cleverly executed that a stranger
has often to approach close to them to detect the illusion. So far
is this sometimes carried, that I have seen a good substantial house
painted to represent it in a state of decay—an odd freak; at other
times, painted as if vegetation were, under neglect or abandonment,
springing out of chinks between the painted layers of stones. The
houses are built—with a certain amount of substantiality, though with
wonderful rapidity—of a species of rubble, which is plastered over
and sometimes neatly ornamented with stucco mouldings. Internally,
they are in general nicely finished with abundance of decoration,
particularly at the painter’s hands; though one is sometimes annoyed
to find that the plaster work is of such inferior quality as to be
full of cracks, and even to give way and tumble down. The paintings
on the ceilings are certainly wonderful specimens of art. Accustomed
as people so often are at home to paper ornamentation, they are apt
to suppose at first that these ceilings must simply be stained paper
pieces pasted on; but on examination, it is found that they are, with
some occasional imitations, all hand–painted. And although there are
many coarse specimens of this style of decoration, they are frequently
finished with great delicacy. The rooms we ourselves had in Mentone
were in this respect, as well as in others, finished with good taste
and skill; and although the ceilings were prettily painted, they were
light and suitable. Sometimes the decoration of houses is carried the
length of painting cleverly outside garden walls with scenic views,
imitation staircases and theatrical trees, fountains, grottoes,
etc. Marble is used in abundance in the houses, in chimney–pieces,
staircases (outside sometimes as well as inside), and other portions of
the buildings. Proximity to Italy renders cheap the carriage of the
rough marble, which is wrought up according to requirement at local
marble workshops. Windows are all constructed on the French fashion
of opening up the centre—a method which is suitable to the climate,
although, not being so close–fitting as our window–sashes, it would
not answer in our own sterner climate. They are fastened by a bolt,
the working of which the inhabitant requires to understand, as, if
not properly fastened, a window may blow open, as it once did to us
in a gale at Marseilles during the night; and in ignorance of the way
of turning the bolt, much trouble will be occasioned in the dark.
Nearly all rooms open into those adjoining, on both sides, by a door,
sometimes two–leaved. The consequence is, especially when the partition
walls are thin, that all that goes on in your neighbour’s apartment is
overheard. To remedy this inconvenience, in part, as well as to add to
the warmth of the chambers, the doors are in first–class houses double,
for which a certain degree of thickness of walls is necessary. Terraces
and balconies are common adjuncts, and enable the inhabitants in many
cases to enjoy the air and the views without leaving their houses, or
scarcely their rooms.

The gardens attached to villas are usually planted with orange,
lemon, and red pepper trees, with aloes, and the ever–green, and
health–producing, rapid–growing Eucalyptus, besides other trees and
plants, natives of a warm climate.

At Cannes we were taken by a French gentleman through a large villa he
had just built for his own occupation. Upon the first floor (what we
would term the street floor), above the ground floor, or that occupied
by the offices and servants’ accommodation, and opening out of a large
hall, there was a suite of public rooms, consisting of dining–room and
drawing–room, with intermediate ante–drawing–room—all looking to the
sun, and of a library and another room upon the north or non–sunny side
of the house. On the floor above, there were six bed–rooms, separate
sleeping chambers being devoted to the husband and wife. The south
windows opened out on each floor to a broad terrace, looking down
upon a large garden, beyond which fine views were had of the sea and
Estrelles. Every room was finished in the best style.

As I have already said, there is only in reality one street in
Mentone occupied with shops. This is in the heart of the town, and
the shops are few in number, some of them evidently having a struggle
to exist; but coupled with a vegetable and fruit market, they are
abundantly sufficient, if not more than sufficient, for the wants of
the inhabitants and visitors. None of the shops can be said to be
of any size—except, perhaps, one of the bazaars, of which there are
several, and in which almost every description of ware except eatables
is sold. And at Christmas–time they are packed with purchasers in
quest of nicknacks for presents—toys, photographs, woodwork, and
ornaments of divers descriptions, many of which are marked with the
letters ‘Mentone;’ for it is curious that the old Italian name is
thus preserved in preference to the French Menton, which is not so
euphonious. Things are generally dear in the shops; in fact, nearly
every description of article is dearer than at home, unless, perhaps,
it may be French writing–paper, which is sold at a moderate price. All
articles of household consumption are dear; sugar, for instance, is 8d.
or 10d. per lb., showing the French people themselves do not benefit by
their system of bounty on sugar enjoyed by their refiners. Many things,
however, have to be brought from a great distance,—butter, I believe,
comes from Milan, and is good; fish, from Bordeaux and other distant
ports; books, from Paris and London,—and a large percentage is added
to the price. I have been told, but cannot say from experience, that
shopkeepers follow the Italian custom of asking more than they will
take or than the goods are worth, and that the disagreeable custom of
bargaining is necessary. But the things we have bought have generally
been such that there could be little room for difference of price.
However, it is extremely likely that, in the market, bargaining is
absolutely needful, and possibly also in some shops. A lady said to me
that at Nice they had to bargain about dress.

The booksellers have circulating libraries, in which are many English
books, including a quantity of Tauchnitz editions; but the collections
are principally of works of fiction and light reading, and for our
second winter at Mentone I thought it advisable to have a box of
selected books from home.

       *       *       *       *       *

If asked to say what is the great industrial occupation of the
inhabitants of Mentone, I think I could not be far wrong in naming
that for women as consisting in the washing of clothes. In fact, all
along the Riviera, as well as in other parts of France, washing of
clothes seems to the women portion of the working population the sole
vocation of life; although it is difficult to comprehend from whom all
the clothes to fill their hands and baskets come, unless France be the
washing field of the world. At Mentone, go where one might, women were
washing clothes, and that in a manner most disgusting and repulsive to
English notions. Instead of washing them in some rural part with pure
hot water and soap, wringing out the water and bleaching on the grass,
these women will walk to any spot where a drop of water can be had, no
matter how foul, or whence it comes, or what are its surroundings. Thus
at Mentone they haunt the rivulets, which are full of olive juice sent
down from the olive mills, the water passing over, as it trickles down,
beds thick with the deposited accumulations of months of olive refuse,
mud, and other dirt; and then, ensconcing themselves in the baskets in
which the clothes are brought, and on their knees, they stoop down,
put the clothes into the filthy water, and with a wooden roller–pin
beat the unfortunate articles till one might suppose they were beat
into a jelly, or at least into a thousand holes.[24] The clothes are
thereupon hung up or spread on stones to dry, all in the view of the
population, and along the beach and elsewhere. There was, indeed—for
it is now disused, in consequence of the remonstrance made as after
mentioned—one public washing–place, constructed for the purpose of
washing in; but this was nothing but one long continuous stone trough,
for the use of which, I presume, a small charge was made. Here I have
counted fifty–two women washing at one time, as close as they could be
packed, upon both sides of this trough, which seemed about sixty feet
long and three or four feet wide. All the garments were washed in one
water, which, I presume, could scarcely be said to have been changed
oftener than once a day at best, although a trickle of new water might
ooze through it. The washing in this trough, however, was purity itself
compared with what took place elsewhere. I have seen women washing at
one pool of dirty water for weeks together, any fresh water which could
possibly percolate through it being utterly unable to carry off the
soap and dirt of the washings which stuck to the sides and bottom. Nor
was this the worst. At one narrow aqueduct, full of the blackest dirt,
and with the veriest drop of water struggling through it, little more
than an inch deep, and only secured by damming it up, and only changed
when a flood unexpectedly came, women were to be seen constantly
engaged, it is to be hoped only on their own clothes.

So offensive has this custom been considered by the English, that a
representation was made to the civic authorities, and some change for
the better was promised; but whether it has been or will be such as
will adequately meet and remove all the evil complained of, or whether
it will simply remove them out of sight, I cannot say. It is most
uncomfortable to think, were there no other objection, that one’s
clothes may be washed in the same water as that in which, it may be,
the clothes of those who have been suffering from disease are being
soaked. Towels and sheets have, when fresh, a most disagreeable soapy
smell. Linen articles of wearing apparel, however, seem to come home
remarkably pure, and it is to be hoped that they are, after the first
bleaching, put through clean water. Buttons, however, soon get loose
after the violent treatment to which linens are subjected.[25]

       *       *       *       *       *

Another grand pursuit of the Mentonnais is that of fishing. Two or more
fishing boats are engaged almost every morning in this occupation.
A boat takes out the net a long distance, when it is dropped in the
water. By two long lines the nets are then laboriously drawn in upon
the shore by from twelve to twenty men or women. A great deal of
this labour might easily be saved by the use of windlasses. When the
net comes near the shore, a crowd of visitors and other idle persons
surround the fishermen to witness the result. Often I have seen the
net pulled up without a single fish in it; at other times, a small
basketful of little fish which they call sardines. Sometimes a few
larger fish, a dozen or half a dozen mackerel, may be taken; but at
other times I have seen little more brought up after all this waste of
exertion and time than a quantity of minute fry about an inch or so
long, the young of fish which might otherwise have attained maturity.
The result is miserable, and one could wish not merely that the men
were better employed, but that there might be some stoppage put to a
mode of catching which must prove so injurious to the fishings. Is
it not likely that a deep–sea line, baited with so many hooks (such
as our fishermen use), would take large fish and leave the young to
develop? But the fishermen have no doubt fished for two thousand years
or more in the same way, and could not possibly take in the thought
of any novelty; and, patient as they are, one would wish to see this
patience change to enterprising and inventive vigour. It is, however,
to be kept in view that the sardines for which they lay their snares
may apparently be caught only on the surface, as when there is a surf
falling on the shore I have seen the nets dragged into the boats upon
the sea, and many sardines thereby caught. In stormy weather, a rare
occurrence, the fishing is altogether stopped. Judging from what I have
seen, I should say it was unlikely that the fishermen earn more than
the merest pittance (a few pence a day) by their calling, in pursuing
which they dress in their worst clothes; and it is well they do so. I
have seen an active young man knocked over and sucked in by the surf,
disappear for a moment, and come out dripping.

But wretched as this occupation is, there is a still more pitiable
phase of the fishing life, consisting in grown men—not one alone, but
many—angling the whole day with a long reed rod and a hook baited with
chewed bread. After enduring hours of waiting, during which their
hearts may have been rejoiced by glorious nibbles, they will entrap
some unfortunate little fish—generally a small sardine, only fit
to be tossed back into its element; while around the noble fisher,
various idle spectators are congregated, watching his float and deeply
interested in his success.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another pursuit, curious in its mode, is that of the shepherd. Hardly
a morning passed but we saw an Italian shepherd standing about,
singularly attired in shaggy coat and rough knee–breeches, and a
species of stocking leggings, with a short, tawny–coloured Italian
cloak on his shoulder, and a long, conical, Italian wide–awake on
his head, the whole suit bearing traits of the wear of a lifetime.
Sometimes he was accompanied by a boy, a representation or copy in
miniature of the same; the copper–brown complexion and bright dark
eyes of both revealing them to be children of the sun. Near to them
on the hard stony beach, a flock of thin small sheep as gaunt–looking
as their herds were hobbling about on the stones and picking up dried
leaves and anything that once was green which they could find in this,
to them, barren land. He moves, and they follow. No dog scares them, or
collects or pursues them. They hear his voice and, as if affectionately
attached, obey. When they have traversed the beach, he produces a sack
and spreads upon the ground what looks like sawdust, but is probably
bran, which they eagerly devour. It would seem as if the sheep never
had a chance of browsing on the hillside, for I do not recollect ever
seeing a sheep upon the grass. Whence they come I know not, but their
food by the road is just the fallen leaves.

       *       *       *       *       *

A better occupation than the fishing, although it is dependent on the
weather, is that of letting out donkeys. What we would regard as great
fortunes cannot, of course, be made out of the small remuneration which
the donkey people receive, but it seems enough to enable them to appear
respectable.

Some employment is also had in the making of wooden inlaid articles
for sale in the shops, generally with the word ‘Mentone’ on them.
The articles sell well; but it is said that many of them come from
Sorrento, which is the headquarters of this description of work, and
where it is carried to the highest perfection, or at least to its
largest extent. The prices asked at Mentone are sometimes double what
are asked for similar work at Sorrento; while the same variety and
beauty of work cannot, I think, be procured, although a Mentone workman
laboured to make me believe his _modus operandi_ was superior.

The great mass of the Mentone men, however, seem to be occupied in the
various trades connected with house–building—in quarrying stones; and
upon the works of the town, such as metalling and watering the roads
forming the promenades, etc.; and I must say that the men appear to be
industrious and steady in their application to their appointed tasks,
as well as sober, for during all the time we were in Mentone, I never
witnessed but once a case of drunkenness, and it was that of two men
who apparently were not of the town, but from the rural parts. Not
that they do not drink, for even the women carry to their work a huge
litre bottle, but their drinking must be in great moderation and of
a weak quality of wine. It is, however, very desirable to have some
saving of human fatigue effected. For example, instead of lifting large
stones by means of cranes, three or four men may be seen tediously
and laboriously moving them by means of levers, keeping time to an
unearthly sound ejaculated by the foreman or leader of the group.
Labour is no doubt cheap. I suppose that wages do not exceed 2 francs
per day, but the employment of so many men unnecessarily must add to
the expense of public improvements. I suspect, however, that in this
also, as in other things, there is a conservative clinging to old
habits and customs, and fear of innovations, which it is very difficult
to eradicate, and that men follow in their fathers’ ways just because
their fathers had always done so before them.

Necessarily the visitors bring with them employment to the inhabitants,
such as in dressmaking and the various other requirements of life;
and if one be passing along the main street of Mentone after the sun
has reached the meridian, for no public clock strikes or bell sounds,
he will find it crowded with girls and men leaving work and going to
dinner.

The rural population is mainly occupied with the cultivation of the
olive and the gathering of the olive berries, which are beaten off the
trees by long rods, and picked off the ground by women and girls; and
also, but to a much more limited extent, with the cultivation of the
lemon and orange trees, and the gathering of their fruit, which is
borne off by the women in large baskets on their heads. There appear
to be few vines about Mentone, although there are a good many kitchen
gardens to supply the needful vegetables for the population. Connected
with the olive cultivation, is the employment of building terraces on
the sides of the hills for the planting of trees. These are very neatly
executed with a smooth facing of stone. The crushing of the olives
in the olive mills also affords employment to a small class of men;
while the building of water reservoirs or tanks in connection with the
terraces, in order to secure supplies of water for the trees, gives
further occupation. These reservoirs, and the conduits which are found
running all over the hill–slopes to supply them, or to turn the mill
wheels, are scattered everywhere: the tanks look ugly places to tumble
into.

The wages of agricultural labourers, I believe, do not exceed from 1 to
2 francs per day.

       *       *       *       *       *

Assisting the operations of labourers of different kinds, there
are horses, mules, and asses. Frequently a cart will be drawn by a
combination of all the three, a small ass leading the van, followed
by the larger mule, the rear being brought up by a horse yoked within
the shafts of the cart. The carts are, as a rule, laden far beyond
the strength of the animals drawing them, and it would be well that
the police could sometimes interfere. The horses are willing, though
it is sad to see them occasionally brutally beaten, to urge them to
efforts under which every muscle is strained to the utmost. But the
mountaineers depend mainly on the ass. On this animal they throw the
burden of carrying up and down the steep and rough hill paths, stones,
barrels, bags, wood, and agricultural produce, etc., and patiently and
intelligently do they perform their work.

One sees here and there poultry, but few comparatively to the number
which are requisite to meet the daily consumption at the hotels.

Small wild birds are scarcely ever seen. I have counted up six sparrows
fluttering about or chirping in the trees; but a sparrow, like every
other small bird, is in France a _rara avis_. Three broad–shouldered
men, dressed in blouses like labourers, go out daily with guns to shoot
them. One could almost wish a visitation upon France of the Colorado
beetle, or if birds do not feed on it, of some other insect plague, to
open the eyes of the French to the impolicy of allowing these small
birds to be shot. One of the most pleasing diversions in Mentone is
to sit and watch the flock (perhaps now only two or three hundred
in number) of sea–gulls which frequent its shores. While you are
witnessing the joyful flights of these beautiful birds, suddenly you
hear a shot fired, and the whole flight rises and skims away, leaving
perhaps a distressed comrade, who has probably had its wing broken by
a bullet. It is making frantic attempts to rise or to get out to sea.
With right good–will could one pitch into the fellow who had done this
wanton, cruel harm. I believe that the consequence of the shooting is
that the poor birds find their muster roll greatly reduced, and they
may in time disappear or migrate to some safer locality.

There is one animal which everybody could more readily wish to
disappear, and that is the mosquito. I have previously mentioned that
we did not find this plague so great at Mentone as at Cannes and
Hyères. This may partly have arisen from our having visited these other
places earlier in the winter; but I think a good deal also is due to
Mentone being better drained, or at least to the drains not being so
offensive.

At Cannes we were also more plagued than at Mentone with flies. These
little animals are very impudent. They walk over your face and hands,
nibbling as they go, and play at hide–and–seek in your hair. They
are not to be deterred by the most stringent prohibitions; and while
one has no mercy on mosquitoes, you hesitate to inflict the extreme
penalty of the law upon a fly—nay, rather help your tormentors out of
their scrapes when they tumble into water, milk, treacle, or the like.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is commonly thought that it must be a disagreeable feature of
Mentone that visitors encounter in their walks so many invalids there.
No doubt there are a good many invalids at Mentone, and some of them
have all the appearance of being so, but they do not predominate by
any means. Many of them keep their rooms, and those who go out seldom
go beyond the promenade, except for a drive. It is indeed painful
sometimes to see some delicate invalids who are hopelessly beyond
recovery, and particularly young men, thin, gaunt, and white, well
wrapped up, even on sunny days; but they are never so numerous as
to make Mentone a painful residence. The English people, as a rule,
are wiser than the Continental. They come at an early stage of their
complaint, and get rapidly cured; while it is said, on the other
hand, that people of other nations come when they are incurable. Of
course, some of these invalids succumb, and from time to time a death
occurs; but a funeral is seldom or never seen. When a death happens,
the hotel people keep it as long quiet as possible. The authorities
take charge of the burial, and the body, which must lie unburied
twenty–four hours after death, is removed in a coffin after dark to the
mortuary adjoining the cemetery, where the relations assemble usually
on the following day, and it is buried. The expense of burial is said
to be moderate, the charges varying according to circumstances. But
there is one repellent fact connected with this subject which I have
heard exists. It is, that some of the hotels put up a notice in the
printed bills of charges, which are hung in the bedrooms, that a death
occurring in the house will be charged so much. This is no doubt done
to prevent disputes, and there is fairly reason for a charge, seeing
that the bedding on which the dead person lay is burnt or otherwise
destroyed, the room is unoccupied for a short time, and it is against
the hotel; but the making of this prominent notification shocks one’s
feelings, and may sometimes be injurious to the invalid. I have not
personally seen it.

The cemetery of Mentone, surmounting the hill, on the ridge and
slopes of which the old town is built, has a picturesque look from
below. As usual abroad, the Protestant ground is separated from the
Roman Catholic; the Catholics, by the narrow feeling of religious
exclusiveness, refusing Protestants burial in the same ground with
themselves. But it collects the strangers the more together, and it is
painful to walk round and think of the many who are buried so far away
from their homes and friends. We have seen at different places one or
two funerals, when the English service was performed, but at Cannes had
the opportunity of witnessing a funeral service conducted by the French
Protestant clergyman. He was a remarkably fine–looking old gentleman,
and in place of a formal service, or perhaps in addition to it, for we
had not arrived at the commencement, he made a very touching address to
the relations and others present, and offered a simple earnest prayer.
We could not help thinking that it was so very much more appropriate
than the formal service of the Church of England, however stately and
beautiful, which so often is rattled over without much appearance of
feeling, and is uniformly the same to all.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were three months in Mentone during our first winter there, and, as
may be gathered from what I have previously said, we had ample means of
spending the days pleasantly. Perhaps the evenings, though pleasant,
had too much of the public life about them, living so much in family
with others. We occasionally longed for the quietness of home life,
which could not be said to be had by simply retreating to our rooms.
Sometimes the evening was varied, as I have elsewhere mentioned, by
little entertainments, such as conjurors with their tricks. But we had,
even amidst all the pleasant days we spent there, some peculiarly red
letter days, embracing our more extensive excursions, and days to be
noted.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of these, the first was Christmas day. Among the English people this
was maintained in the usual manner; but we had heard that there
would be a grand service according to the Roman Catholic form in the
cathedral or parish church, and we went thither. The Church of St.
Michael, a large one, dating back, it is said, to the thirteenth
century, was draped with crimson cloth, and a profusion of gold or
gilt articles was displayed at the altar, which was lighted up with
an immense quantity of candles. The place was crammed with people,
the crowd even extending a good way outside the door. After the
usual service and chanting, the great event of the day took place.
Several priests, preceded by a tall janitor in cocked hat and uniform
and halberd, in humble imitation of the grand man of the Madeleine,
commenced parading through the church, one of them bearing in his arms
a wax doll, baby size, as if new born, which he held out to be kissed;
and every one, even respectable–looking people, pressed forward as they
slowly progressed to kiss the doll’s foot. When he came our length,
the priest, a jolly fat man, who, whatever he may have felt at the
absurdity of the scene, contrived to keep his countenance, quietly,
seeing at a glance we were Protestants, or what was the same thing,
‘Anglais,’ presented it to others, and did not give us a chance. A
priest behind him took up the collection. Each person, besides, had
to pay for the use of a chair, some paying for two, one being used to
kneel on.

       *       *       *       *       *

New Year’s day is, however, the great day among the native population;
and gifts among the foreigners are usually then exchanged, in place
of, as with the English, on Christmas day. A very common form of such
gifts is that of a large bouquet of flowers, generally more than a foot
in diameter, laid out in circular symmetrical rows, the flowers on
short stalks being supported by wires. They look pretty, but stiff, and
do not last so long as our assorted bouquets with their long stalks.
On occasion of a birthday, the heroine of the day, if popular, and the
event were known, would often get three or four such sent to her.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 3d of February we saw bands of young men parading the streets
in an uproarious manner, with flags, and preceded by drummers beating
the usual rat–tat–tat. We could not imagine what this meant, until
informed that it was the day upon which the young men drew lots for
the selection of those who were to serve as conscripts in the French
army. The noise and merriment were, like the tom–tom at a Hindoo suttee
funeral pile, doubtless intended to hide the agony and to drive away
thought, if they any had, from the ‘chosen few.’

[Illustration: CORSICA AS SEEN BEFORE SUNRISE. MENTONE.]

A week later witnessed the grandest event of the season, for on
10th February the keeping of the Carnival commenced. For some days
previously, the shops were full of false faces, wire gauze masks,
strange dresses, and confetti; and cars were in course of decoration
for the event, which necessarily, in a small place like Mentone, could
only be upon a small scale. The coming affair was the grand talk of
the town, and we had even some masquerading before it came. At last
the eventful morning dawned. It was a complete holiday. Every one
turned into the streets, or took possession of windows, balconies, and
other salient points; while the promenade was ornamented with long
venetian decorated poles, such as we had planted in the streets of
Edinburgh when the Queen came to unveil the Prince Consort’s statue in
1876. Balconies were draped, flags were everywhere fluttering in the
breeze, and the Cercle where prizes were to be distributed was gaily
dressed with evergreens and coloured calico. At mid–day the procession
was expected to move; but it was much too important to move off so
early, and did not commence till two o’clock. Meantime the streets
were filled with people in the oddest and most comical attire, with
masks on their faces, rendering them unrecognisable by their friends.
One of these figures was absurdly dressed in feathers as a huge cock,
while another represented a still larger eagle. All this time the
people were peppering each other with confetti, small round chalk
pellets smaller than peas. But the grand peppering was reserved for
the procession, which at last hove in sight. It was preceded by a car
filled with musicians in carnival costume, who did not play, being
probably afraid lest their instruments might suffer damage. Then a
long row of fancy soldiers ambled forward on horseback, two and two,
dressed in a uniform of blue coat and white trousers, looking very
gay. Then various cars were dragged slowly or staggeringly along in
odd devices, one of which was the representation of a gigantic lobster
pie filled with men dressed out in red as boiled lobsters, while the
horses had vast coverings as black or unboiled lobsters. Another car
personified classical statuary, the men and women being chalked or
painted over in white, and intended to be motionless, but as taken
being well shaken, not always succeeding in preserving either rigidity
or composure. Various other cars, besides walking figures, and people
in carriages, all disguised, completed the procession, which, like a
stage army, to make up for the want of numbers, passed round the circle
and repassed repeatedly. All this time, the people in the street, or
on the balconies or scaffoldings erected for the occasion, and in the
carriages and cars, continued to fire away at each other a copious
shower of confetti. These were discharged with a right good–will;
but all, except the improvident, being protected by masks and calico
garments, no damage was suffered, except when a man audaciously
appeared in a good hat, which hat was battered by discharges of
confetti without mercy. Young men and young ladies adopted the novel
method of flirting by vigorously pelting each other, and wicked men
would quietly and furtively slip a handful of confetti down a woman’s
open neck. This tomfoolery was begun upon the Saturday and continued
upon the Monday, but was not practised upon the Sunday at Mentone. At
Nice, however, where the English do not preponderate, the Carnival,
which was there upon a larger scale, was kept up on the Sunday, and
about twenty of the visitors (foreigners, of course) at our hotel went
to Nice to see it. On the Monday night the promenade was lighted up
by means of paper Chinese lanterns, and there was an exhibition of
fireworks, concluding with setting in blaze a giant figure representing
‘the Mentone man,’ well stuffed with tar. The streets on the following
day, as well as previously, were covered with the chalk pellets, and
it was some time before they were swept and restored to their ordinary
condition.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of a different sort were other days regarded as eventful in so quiet a
place as Mentone. A fall of snow was an event, the discovery of ice in
the river, even a rainy day was to be noted. But of all days of this
description, those in which Corsica was visible were the greatest,
and the query when friends met on such days always was, ‘Have you
seen Corsica this morning?’ It was only in peculiar states of the
atmosphere that this distant island became visible, and it happened
perhaps six times in the winter. Just before sunrise,—generally from
a quarter to half an hour before, if the atmosphere was particularly
clear, and especially if frosty,—the sun rising behind Corsica revealed
the tops of mountains from 90 to 130 miles off, and from 6000 to 9000
feet high: the vision remained till the sun rose to the horizon, when
it disappeared. I was always on the watch on likely mornings, and
succeeded in taking a sketch of the view, which, by verifying at each
successive appearance, I rendered exact. The engraving opposite is a
little more than half that of the original sketch, which was just as
seen. Only on one occasion was Corsica visible during the day. This
happened in the second winter, on 26th November 1877. I had seen it in
the morning, and was incredulous when informed in the forenoon that
it was then visible. Seeing was believing, however; for there it was,
and it remained in sight the whole day till four o’clock, the sun
throughout shining brightly _on_ it instead of behind it, so that this
appearance was quite different from what was seen in the morning. I
looked upon it as the harbinger of wet weather, and accordingly for
some days afterwards we had rain.

       *       *       *       *       *

By the end of February we began to prepare for leaving Mentone to
travel in Italy. During December we had five days, during January two
days, and during February three days with more or less rain—eleven days
altogether out of ninety. Besides these days, which were also cold,
we had as many more days which were cold or stormy without being wet.
All the other days, even with the north or east winds blowing, were
fine and sunny. There were very few days in which an invalid could
not venture out. In fact, more than three–fourths of the weather was
fine and sunny, and often as hot as a hot day in July at home. On 27th
February, however, we had an eclipse of the moon, which was total. It
must, I think, have had a serious effect upon the temperature, for
immediately afterwards it became extremely cold; so much so that there
was ice for the first time on the river, and it was needful at last to
don our winter attire. We had planned to leave upon the 2d March, but
the day was such as to necessitate postponing our departure till the
morrow. We proceeded by carriage to San Remo.



ITALY.

X.

_SAN REMO AND GENOA._


WE were now proceeding into a country with which many old associations
were united, running back to schoolboy days,—a land over whose sunny
skies and vine–clad fields so many raptures have been uttered; a
land bearing evidence in its deeply–interesting ruins of the power
of a great empire long since passed away; a land of the old classic
literature, and of so much that was grand in ancient art. The pleasure
of visiting it, long looked for, had come at last, and with high
anticipation (a feeling, I suppose, common to most people) we entered
Italy.

Our great difficulty on leaving Mentone was the weather. Friends who
had just been travelling spoke of having had in Italy great severity
of cold and much rain. One of these friends advised against going so
soon, but another thought we might now without any hesitation set
off. Perhaps impatient to leave after having formed our plans, we
resolved to adventure, upon the theory of the Scotch saying, generally
applied to the converse of the case, that the cold would be, as the
spring advanced, ‘a fault aye mending.’ As it turned out, we would
have been better to have waited eight or ten days longer after the 3d
of March, the date of our departure; and, judging from our experience
on this occasion, I should say that about the middle of March is the
earliest time to commence a tour in Italy, after spending a winter in
the sheltered regions of the Riviera. It is not only cold previously,
but, except in favoured spots, the prospect is bleak and wintry. The
vines which in the summer grow so luxuriantly and are so extensively
cultivated, are leafless, the trees are bare, and the fields black.

       *       *       *       *       *

We left old friends, and as we rattled through the street of Mentone we
passed familiar places sorrowfully. Shortly afterwards we reached the
Pont St. Louis, and were in Italy.

At the _douane_ station beyond the bridge, we were stopped by the
_douaniers_, who made a show of examining luggage; but they saw we
were _bona fide_ travellers, and we were not detained more than a few
minutes. This brevity of detention and being spared the annoyance of
having all one’s luggage turned out and tossed about, are two great
advantages of proceeding by carriage. Passengers going by railway to
Italy from Mentone are stopped at Ventimiglia for a weary hour, and
must submit to the usual inspection.

The _douane_ roadside station, to which we had often walked, stands
high, and commands a remarkably good view of Mentone and all its
surroundings. We looked back from this point and others on our way, not
knowing if we should ever see this cherished spot again.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the time we left Mentone, and for the greater part of the way, the
air was full of an odour not over agreeable, and I fancied that it
might be that the olive trees were being manured,—a process to which
they are subjected every second or third year, when a ditch is dug
round each of them, and part of the manure placed in it consists of old
rags, which the better answer their purpose the older and filthier they
are.

The day was fairly bright in the morning, and while we had the sun
everything looked beautiful; but a black cloud which had been looming
in the south arose, and, spreading, for part of the way obscured the
great luminary, so that we could not see everything in perfection, and
might only imagine how much more charming some parts must have been,
had they been brightened by its rays. The want of sun also, as usual,
chilled the air.

       *       *       *       *       *

We passed Belinda and Mr. Hanbury’s garden, and came in sight of
Ventimiglia, which lies about seven miles from Mentone. It is
fortified, and commands the Corniche road and access to Italy in that
direction. The town itself has rather a striking appearance, and is
well worth a visit. It was an old Roman station, and in the time of
Augustus a flourishing place, adorned and supplied with temples, baths,
and other accessories of Roman life. Many remains of these ancient
times have been found, and at present the ruins of an amphitheatre
about a mile eastward have been discovered and are being exposed.
Enterprise in the direction of excavation is sure to reward the
authorities, who are undertaking it. A broad torrent bed intersects
the town, through which the Roja, a stream larger than any at Mentone,
flows. The banks of this stream, which really contains water, were
lined by washerwomen pursuing their occupation according to the manner
of those at Mentone, already described. This river is crossed by a
bridge, whence a fine view is had up the wide valley to the mountains.

       *       *       *       *       *

The road onward from Ventimiglia is dotted on each side by Italian
houses, and offers a pleasant drive. After proceeding four miles, we
arrived at Bordighera, or, as it is sometimes spelled, Bordighiera.

The promontory on which this small town lies, stretches far out into
the sea. The town itself has been built on its west slope, and from
Mentone always looks clothed in sunshine. Probably its half insular
position may give a certain amount of softness to the air. It is
now becoming a place of resort for invalids. The stranger population
apparently is about from 150 to 200, more than one–half of whom
are English. It is thought more bracing than Mentone, and may suit
some constitutions; but it seems to want the shelter which most
invalids require, and which is obtained elsewhere. It is, however, a
bright–looking place, with several hotels. The Hotel de Bordighera,
newly opened, is very pleasantly situated, with large garden in front.
The other hotels are ‘D’Angleterre,’ ‘Beau Rivage,’ ‘Bellevue,’ and
‘Pension Anglaise.’ There are also about twenty villas, besides other
houses, in which quarters may be obtained.

The people of Bordighera obtained from the Pope the privilege of
supplying Rome with palms at Easter, in the manner afterwards mentioned
(p. 298). The palm tree here, therefore, is a subject of special
cultivation. We found the palm garden closed, presumably in preparation
for Easter. Leaving the carriage, we ascended to the church or
cathedral in the old town,—always a prominent object from Mentone,—and
from this point, whence an extensive view is obtained, we took our last
look, for that time, of the place where we had spent the previous three
months so happily. Returning reluctantly to the carriage, we drove
on, and soon passed round to the other side of the promontory, which
thereupon shut out of view all the places whence we had come, and after
proceeding seven or eight miles, reached San Remo.


SAN REMO.

San Remo is a place much recommended by physicians, often in
preference to Mentone. Its air is said to possess all the invigorating
qualities of that of Nice, with the warmth of that of Mentone; to be
warm, exhilarating and soothing, and conducive to sleep. The mean
winter temperature is stated by some accounts to be from 54° to 59°
Fahrenheit; spring, 63° to 68°; summer, 72° to 85°; and autumn, 66° to
72°.[26] The icy Tramontane wind is said to be only slightly felt, and
that in the west and more exposed end of the town, while the mistral
is only known as a high wind. It is also asserted that the natives are
healthy and long–lived. With all these recommendations as a health
resort, San Remo cannot be considered to possess the attractions of
Mentone, and it was with a feeling of disappointment we first entered
the place. Perhaps our disappointment was increased by the difficulty
of obtaining accommodation, and by the contrast in what we did obtain
with what we had enjoyed at Mentone.

Arriving at the West End, we found all the hotels there full, and
were glad to secure accommodation in one within the town, possessing
a garden, dreary and overlooked by houses. The place—at all events
externally—was not inviting; and as the weather was, during the greater
part of our sojourn on this occasion, bad, with rain, our first
impressions were not favourable.

       *       *       *       *       *

San Remo is, like Mentone, surrounded by a half circle of mountains,
but of a much softer–looking character. Bignole, the highest, is 4300
feet high. They do not approach so closely to the town, nor do they
rear their heads so boldly, grandly, and picturesquely, but they do so
without gap. In rear of them, though not visible from the town, are
other and higher mountain ranges, belonging to the Maritime Alps. What
are called rivers exist,—small narrow streamlets, scarcely amounting
to what in Scotland we should term ‘burns,’—which trickle through the
town (the Romulo after heavy rain was only three or four feet wide and
a few inches deep); but they do not pass through valleys like those
which give so marked a character to Mentone. San Remo also wants the
protecting arms which Cape Martin, and Belinda, and Bordighera send
out west and east into the sea. Capo Nero on the west and Capo Verde
on the east no doubt create a bay, but are comparatively stunted arms.
Then the railway passes along the coast and cuts the inhabitants off
from the sea. There is therefore no promenade or road along the coast—a
stupid mistake, to which the authorities ought never to have consented,
and which deprives San Remo of what otherwise would have been its
main attraction as a place of residence. The new town contains only
a few good shops, in which things are not cheap. The old town, with
a population double that of Mentone, is much larger than that of its
rival. It is situated on a similar, but larger and loftier hill; but,
unlike Mentone, which rests on the east, it rests mainly on the west
slope of the hill, and is no doubt very picturesque, probably one of
the most picturesque towns of the kind built for protection from the
Algerine pirates. But though this may give value to it in the artistic
eye, it is not a quality which contributes either to health or comfort;
and one may justly say, parodying a common saying, ‘picturesque and
nasty.’ Dirt, indeed, everywhere reigns—nay, some of the drains, even
in the newer portion of the town, would seem to be above ground; and
we found on our first visit the smells villanous,—a remark I am bound,
however, to observe was not so applicable on occasion of our visit in
the following year.

The railway station occupies a prominent position in the town, and
passes by or cuts off the harbour, which lies outside of it. From the
battlements or breakwater of this most untidily–kept harbour, a good
view is had of the town and the mountains behind it. I made the ascent
of the town through long narrow dirty winding vias, like Edinburgh
High Street closes, only they are narrower, steeper, and tortuous, and
far more dirty and unsavoury. Sometimes the road, paved with stone
throughout, lies under dismal arched vaults, while the houses on each
side are irregular and dilapidated—foul, dark, and dreary dens, rather
than habitations for human beings. It was some relief to reach the
platform on the summit, on which the large church called the sanctuary
stands. From this point an excellent view is had all around. I
descended by another of those curious vias, in which the houses support
each other by arched flying buttresses, intended as a security against
the effects of earthquakes, of which, however, we obtained no specimen
shock during either of our visits to San Remo.

       *       *       *       *       *

The mountains and hill–slopes surrounding San Remo are densely covered
with olive trees, and to some extent with lemons, and afford shelter
and walks to the visitors, but of a character differing entirely from
those at Mentone. On the hillsides many wild flowers grow in rich
profusion—hyacinths, narcissi, anemones, tulips, mignonette, gladioli,
and others. Those who have been out exploring the country in the
spring, return generally laden with bouquets, or rather bundles, of
bright–coloured flowers.

       *       *       *       *       *

Various excursions which may be taken to places among the mountains
by assistance of donkeys, are described in a little volume called
_San Remo as a Winter Residence_, by an Invalid, 1869 (Wm. Hunt and
Co., London), to which, for further information regarding the town
and locality, I would refer. I believe a lady is bringing out another
guide–book with information up to date. In 1869, it would appear from
the ‘Invalid’s’ little book that there were then only five hotels and
twenty–three villas. Since the extension of the railway to San Remo,
the number of both has largely increased. Now there are nine hotels and
pensions in the east division of San Remo, and eleven in the west, some
of which are said to be expensive. Of the West End hotels, one or two
are situated well up on a hill–slope, the fatigue of greater ascent and
the additional exposure being no doubt considered to be balanced by
the expanded prospect. There are now also fully eighty villas east and
west.

       *       *       *       *       *

San Remo possesses, besides, a small public garden to the west of the
old town—a very nice piece or strip of ground at the West End, laid
out in walks and shrubbery, gifted by the Empress of Russia, who had
honoured San Remo by her residence there some years ago. The gift is
an accession to the place, and a pavilion has been erected, in which
the band plays on certain days of the week. On other days it plays
in the public garden or in a rondo at the East End. The West End of
the town, where several of the best hotels are, has an open view to
the sea,—that is to say, the sea can be seen from the road and public
grounds,—and it is consequently more cheerful than the east; but it is
much more exposed to the winds. The east end is more sheltered, and
is thought to be more healthy. From the centre of the town eastwards,
a broad pavement runs, provided here and there with wooden seats for
the wearied pedestrian, and is practically terminated by the Hotel
Victoria—a comfortable house, having a large garden reaching down to
the sea, though the railway intersects a small portion of it at the
bottom. A large hotel, called the Mediterranée, has recently been built
adjoining the Victoria, having a similar piece of ground stretching to
the railway and sea also, though of course more newly laid out as a
garden. All along this road, till it reaches a point nearly two miles
from the old town, it is cut off even from the view of the sea, to
which the only access is by many narrow filthy walled lanes. Beyond
the Victoria there are various nice villas, one especially, called the
Villa Patrone, a choice specimen of elegant design, and of a mode of
wall ornamentation in pebble peculiar to the Riviera.

       *       *       *       *       *

I found, from a list of strangers published at San Remo on 21st January
1877, the following interesting analysis:—

  Allemands,       dont  46    avec fam., 160
  Anglais,           ”   56        ”      126
  Austro–Hongrois,   ”    8        ”       20
  Belges,            ”    2        ”        2
  Danois,            ”    0        ”        1
  Espagnols,         ”    2        ”        2
  Français,          ”    8        ”       17
  Hollandais,        ”    1        ”        5
  Italiens,          ”   16        ”       41
  Roumains,          ”    1        ”        1
  Russes,            ”   14        ”       30
  Suedois,           ”    0        ”        1
  Suisses,           ”    2        ”        5
  Americains,        ”   12        ”       23
  Asiatiques,        ”    0        ”        1
                        ———               ———
            Total, dont 168    avec fam., 435

In the following year, the _Liste Générale des Étrangers_, dated 16th
February 1878, gives the names of the strangers then in San Remo
under their several nationalities, and winds up with the following
‘recapitulation,’ showing an increase on the whole. But it should be
kept in view that, generally speaking, places in the Riviera are fuller
in February than in previous months, the number of visitors being, in
fact, then at its maximum.

  RECAPITULATION.

  Allemands,        dont  52   avec fam., 171
  Anglais,            ”   70       ”      167
  Austro–Hongrois,    ”   10       ”       25
  Belges,             ”    4       ”        6
  Français,           ”   13       ”       21
  Hollandais,         ”    8       ”       15
  Italiens,           ”   24       ”       64
  Portugais,          ”    1       ”        1
  Roumains,           ”    1       ”        1
  Russes,             ”   11       ”       30
  Suedois,            ”    3       ”        5
  Suisses,            ”    5       ”       11
  Americains,         ”   13       ”       28
                         ———              ———
             Total, dont 215   avec fam., 545

From these lists it appears that San Remo is principally frequented
by the Germans and the English. A reason for the Germans flocking to
San Remo, is no doubt to be found in the fact that Cannes, Nice, and
Mentone are within French territory, where Germans are not particularly
welcome—in truth, are sometimes, as I know in one instance, received
by the French with marked rudeness; though it is to be hoped that this
state of feeling, not unnatural after the late calamitous war, is now
subsiding. But it may be taken as corroborative of this observation,
that, judging from the lists published in the beginning of December
1877 (the very commencement of the season), out of about 850 names of
strangers in Mentone (I state it roughly and without computing the
number of families these names represent), only between 70 and 80 were
German, principally ladies; while, so far as I can ascertain, there was
only one German doctor in Mentone against six German doctors in San
Remo—a fact, if I be correct, which speaks for itself.

Excluding the German element, therefore, it will be seen that the
English very nearly equal all those of other nations put together. At
the same time, one must observe that such lists require to be taken
in a very general way. Implicit reliance upon them cannot be placed,
as I have so often seen that names which ought to have appeared have
been omitted for a whole season. Everything depends upon how the list
is made up. If made up from persons handing in their own names to the
newspapers, then it fails, because there are many who never think of
doing so, while even hotelkeepers (whose interest one would think is to
reveal the popularity of their houses) are very careless in furnishing
complete information.

       *       *       *       *       *

The San Remo _Liste Générale des Étrangers_, besides other
intelligence, gives the names of the ‘Medicins,’—viz., six German,
three English, one French, one Russian, and thirteen Italian doctors.
There are both German and English Protestant churches. The English
church is a commodious building: the incumbent is the Rev. Mr. Fenton.
The United Presbyterians of Scotland—I think the only station possessed
by that body abroad—had worship in two rooms of the Villa Marguerita,
where once a day on Sundays, the Rev. James Robertson of Edinburgh
(just deceased) was, during our first visit, addressing, in a homely
manner, crowded audiences; while in the evening he had service in
a room of the Hotel des Londres, in which he was then residing,
the English visitors of the hotel turning in to listen to one much
respected by them all,—all sympathizing, too, in the sad cause which
brought him to a place where he was destined, like so many others, to
leave a loved one behind.

       *       *       *       *       *

The great industry of San Remo necessarily consists in the cultivation
of the olive tree; but one minor occupation is derived from the olive
groves in the fabrication of articles of olive wood. That of San Remo
is of a lighter colour and richer grain, and takes a higher polish than
the olive wood of Sorrento. In the matter of inlaying, however, it
does not appear to me that San Remo comes up to the better quality of
Sorrento work, while the articles made are sold at a much higher price.
The shopkeepers, I was told, consider the foreigners, and I suppose
especially the English, as legitimate prey, and charge them more than
the natives; nor do they ask high prices, as they do in other Italian
places, with the intention of after abatement, but they stick to the
price demanded, and are very stiff to move.

On one of the hill–slopes about a mile and a half out of town, we found
a chocolate manufactory, the material for which comes all the way from
Bordeaux.

       *       *       *       *       *

The women when young are good–looking; many have the dark Italian eye,
but, like the Mentone women, soon acquire, from the drudgery to which
they are exposed, a hard–looking and dried–up appearance. They are
treated as very beasts of burden, and are accustomed from early years
to carry enormous loads upon their heads, far more so than at Mentone,
and they glory in the amount they can carry. I have beheld one carrying
an enormous log of wood on her head; and barrels, and every description
of heavy articles, are constantly to be seen so carried. A lady told me
she had a heavy oak table carried home to her house by her gardener’s
wife, and it was thought nothing of. Such a thing as a rope and
pulley, much less a crane to lift stones from the ground to the floors
where masons are building a house, are utterly unknown. The women are
employed as day–labourers, at something like a shilling a day, to carry
the stones aloft on their heads. I have seen a woman, time after time,
carrying a stone or a couple of uneven stones balanced, the one on the
top of the other, on her head, up ladders nearly perpendicular, to a
height of two storeys, to the stage where the masons were working. All
they do is just to twist a handkerchief in a coil on the head, and
then, with a most extraordinary power of balancing, they convey the
load to where it is wanted. Men very seldom undertake the drudgery. If
they do, they carry a lighter load, not, however, on their heads, but
on the bent back or shoulders, protected by a sack. I have observed a
woman carrying a stone on her head which it took four of them to lift.
Their skulls and spines no doubt thicken and acquire some strange
amount of hardy strength, but any nobler faculty must be crushed out of
them; yet they never seem to feel their degradation, and would resent,
I presume, the introduction of appliances by which their labour would
be saved, and at the same time a means of livelihood taken from them.

Of all the instances, however, of this nature which I witnessed, the
most marvellous was that of carrying a pianoforte on the head. On
our second visit to San Remo, a lady informed me she had seen this
sight. It seemed truly incredible, and perhaps, as she was an American,
I was at first inclined to set it down to the national tendency to
imaginative exaggeration. I looked anxiously for visual corroboration,
seeing being in such a case believing, and I was not disappointed. The
very day of leaving I had the good fortune to witness the scene, and
was thus enabled to give full credit to the story. Happening to be in
town, I met three women walking steadily along the street, their bodies
erect, one in front and two behind, with the huge load of a heavy
cabinet piano on their heads. I think each had one hand, at least,
raised to steady it—a very painful exertion of itself to most people.
Apparently, keeping pace together, this burden was sturdily carried as
if it cost them no effort; while by their side marched a man in charge,
who, I was thankful to observe (although, as I have read somewhere, it
may be observed elsewhere, I think at Pompeii), carried no instrument
of flagellation in his hand. Probably he would condescend to assist in
raising the piano at starting, and in lowering it at its destination.

On this subject the writer of the little guide–book I have already
referred to (_San Remo as a Winter Residence_), makes these
observations (p. 26):—

‘The inhabitants of both sexes, but more particularly the women, are
very good–looking, especially those from the country. You see most
lovely faces amongst the girls from fifteen to twenty–five; they
have as a rule good figures also, and neat feet and legs. They walk
remarkably well, with a firm easy step, holding themselves erect. This
results from their always carrying burdens on their heads, with which
they go along at a quick steady pace, uphill or down, on rough roads or
smooth, without ever raising a hand to support them, unless very large
or clumsy in form. You seldom see a woman without something on her
head; if she has not her bundle or her panniken, she will place the pad
there on which she carries them. But this constant bearing of weights
on the head has another and less admirable result, which is that the
women very soon lose their beauty and their youth. I am told that it
is quite usual for a woman to carry 100 kilogrammes on her head (220
lbs.) up to the mountains, and this every day; she will also bring
a heavy bundle of grass or something back again. The men walk beside
them empty–handed, or oftener still ride the mules and donkeys. Almost
all the carrying is done on women’s heads. If a man has to transport
a heavy weight, he takes his wife with him to carry it. I ordered a
wooden horse for my saddle; the joiner who made it brought it home
certainly, but on his pretty little wife’s head, not his own. The men
consider it a disgrace to carry anything, a parcel even, and a woman’s
highest ambition is to keep her husband in perfect idleness. A friend
of mine, an English lady, was riding on a donkey one very hot day,
accompanied by my servant Giovanni, a San Remese, who was, of course,
trudging on foot by her side, and reflecting the heat of the day on her
face. As they went along, they met a party of country people coming
down from the mountains. In passing, a man, one of the party, stopped
and spoke earnestly to my servant, who gave a laughing reply. When
they had passed, my friend asked what the man had said. “Oh,” replied
Giovanni, “he was telling me I ought to make you get off the donkey,
and ride myself instead.” We had lectured him so often on the disgrace
of the men taking their ease while the women worked so hard, that he
quite entered into the facetiousness of the man’s proposition, an
Englishwoman being in the case.’

In the redress of these women’s wrongs, might not an excellent field
for the operations of the Women’s Rights Association be found?

       *       *       *       *       *

Photographs are not cheap in San Remo; but one photographer (P. Guidi),
under the direction of Signor Panizzi, has produced a large collection,
numbering, I think, upwards of 150 specimens, size of nature, of the
botany of San Remo. These are beautifully coloured from the plants
themselves, and form a valuable and interesting illustration of the
flora of the district.

       *       *       *       *       *

We remained in San Remo from Saturday till the following Wednesday.
The weather having been wet and disagreeable, we were by no means
sorry when, the Wednesday morning proving fine, we resolved to quit a
place where we had felt far from comfortable, and to proceed to Genoa
by railway. I had, on arrival, exchanged at the banker’s a circular
note, for which i got at the rate of 27·20 francs or lire per £ in
Italian paper money. It was my first experience of this kind of
money, and although it brought a premium of 22 francs per £10, the
bundle of little notes was at first by no means assuring. However, I
soon began to find it extremely convenient as well as profitable to
exchange into paper. I paid the hotel bill and the railway fares both
in paper, even although in the former case there was a notice up in
the hotel requiring (although paper is a legal tender) visitors to pay
in gold; and everywhere afterwards in Italy, paper was received as
full value for what it represented. We had here for the first time to
pay for all registered luggage according to weight. Putting railway
fare and luggage cost together, however, the expense was, especially
reckoning a deduction of 9 per cent. by use of paper, moderate. The
fare first–class from San Remo to Genoa was 15 francs each, adding
proportion of charge for luggage, nearly 3 francs[27] additional for
each, say 18 francs or 15s., and deducting exchange, 13s. 4d. for a
journey of about eighty–five miles, which is probably about a shade
more than the average at home for second–class fare for a similar
distance. However, the cost necessarily varies according to the
quantity of luggage registered. To most Italians, who register none,
it would be so much less; to many ladies who cannot travel without
innumerable dresses, so much more.

Upon escaping from San Remo, the railway leaves the coast line and
keeps a little inland—at least it nowhere cuts off any of the coast
towns from the sea; nor could it well do so, as nearly all are built
close upon the beach. It therefore proceeds rather behind them or
through their outskirts; and, partly owing to this and partly to the
numerous—vexatiously numerous—tunnels through which the railway is,
from the hilly nature of the country, constrained to run, the views
had, of the towns at least, cannot be equal to what is obtained by
driving along the Corniche road. These Italian towns are exceedingly
picturesque, both in appearance and in situation, and there can be no
doubt that one misses much by travelling by rail, although it must be
added that the route between San Remo and Genoa by no means equals that
between Nice and San Remo. Clear, pleasing photographs of the towns on
the line are published, and may give one some idea of them; but they
are not, with one or two exceptions, the views seen from the railway.
All views from railway carriage windows, however, even where no ogre
sits to pull down the blinds, labour under disadvantage, and are too
transient, and often too detached and interrupted, to enable passengers
to catch and retain in memory general views of any place which a
railway passes. On this occasion we had the carriage to ourselves, and
eagerly availed ourselves of the opportunity to draw up blinds and gaze
out right and left.

       *       *       *       *       *

About three miles from San Remo, looking up a valley, one of those
curious old towns which are perched on the top of a hill becomes
visible. I had thought it to be Ceriana, which lies in that direction,
a visit to which is one of the excursions from San Remo; but it
proved, according to Bædeker, to be a similar town called Bussana. The
picturesque town of Porto Maurizio is invisible from the railway, which
passes under it; while a little farther on, Oneglia and its harbour are
just seen in approaching, and the railway stops at the landward end of
it. However, at next station, Diana Marina, the railway traveller is
rewarded by a most charming landscape. A chain of mountains hems in a
valley, in the centre of which a conical hill rises abruptly, and on
its top Diano Castello stands, another of those curious and picturesque
towns which are so common in the Riviera and in Italy. The scene is
one in which an artist’s pencil might luxuriate. The _tout ensemble_
would make, as it no doubt has often made, a striking picture. At
Alassio, nine miles farther on, we rested on our journey in the
following year, and I shall return to it, therefore, further on. But
leaving Alassio and passing under its west boundary the promontory of
Santa Croce, looking seawards there was seen, perhaps about two miles
out, the small rocky desolate–looking island of Gallenaria, on which
a former proprietor had built a house for residence, but where, we
were told, and could readily believe, his more sociable wife refused
to live. Farther on upon the left, inland, but near the railway, the
town of Albenga appears prominently. This is an old Roman town, and is
an episcopal residence. Its many and thickly–planted towers give to it
quite the aspect of a cathedral city. Touching shortly afterwards at
Finalmarina and Noli, in about three and a half hours from the time of
leaving San Remo, the large and imposing town of Savona, beautifully
situated, came into view a massive–looking fort towering over and
protecting the harbour below. Here many who travel by carriage leave
the road and proceed to Genoa by rail, and those for Genoa going
westward take carriage from Savona, the reason being, that the road and
rail between Savona and Genoa run parallel to each other, while the
route lacks the attractions of the remainder of the Corniche drive.
From Savona, also, there is a direct line of railway to Turin. The
train moves on, and eleven miles beyond Savona, reaches Cogoletto,
which is said to have been the birthplace of Columbus, and is therefore
a town of interest. The town, like so many others, lies on the beach,
and the railway station only affords a view of backs of houses. Shortly
after, the train stops at Pegli, a place about six miles from Genoa, a
place of winter residence, and famous for its gardens, which attract
excursions by visitors at Genoa, besides inducing others to take up
their abode for more or less time at the hotels of the place. A little
after six o’clock we arrived at Genoa, the train slackening speed
as it passed amidst ranges of lofty buildings, which looked all the
more grand that our eyes for so long had been unaccustomed to the
dimensions of a town so large.


GENOA.

For many miles before arrival, we could, from the railway carriage
windows, descry the ‘superb’ city with its tall lighthouse standing
like a sentinel in advance. But one loses much in arriving by railway
instead of by sea. The view had upon entering Genoa for the first time
by sea is always spoken of as magnificent, and it must necessarily be
very striking. The large natural basin which forms the port, protected
by two long moles or breakwaters, emanating from each side like two
arms, forms a semicircle nearly two miles in diameter, the east end
terminated by the lighthouse, said to be 520 feet high above the level
of the sea, and the west end crowned by the large and lofty Church of
St. Maria de Carignano. From the harbour, filled with shipping, the
ground rises all round to a height of 500 or 600 feet in steep slopes,
upon which the city is built; a line of warehouses or other great white
buildings, connected no doubt for the most part, if not altogether,
with the trade of the port, forms the front rank, and gives an
imposing facing to the whole. The buildings on the west side, however,
exhibit but a slender cordon: the compact mass of the city lies upon
the hill–slopes and hills of the east side, which extend outward
considerably to the south of the east mole. The view, therefore, on
arriving by sea, must be that of looking upon one–half of the sloping
tiers of a gigantic amphitheatre; while backward from the city, which
is surrounded by a double wall or line of fortification, the Apennines
rise in still higher slopes, bold and stern, and probably afford some
protection from the north winds.

Thus looks the famous city, once thriving by commerce, and powerful,
till a spirited foreign policy led, as its natural consequences, to
expensive wars, to weakness and decay. It revived, however, in time,
and manifests a scene of peaceful busy industry, conferring upon it the
position of being the first commercial town of Italy.

       *       *       *       *       *

The façade of the railway station is one of great elegance. It is
built of white marble, with beautiful columns surmounted by rich
sculptured entablature. In the large open space or piazza in front, in
the midst of shrubbery, there has been placed a beautiful monumental
statue of Christopher Columbus, on a high round pedestal which rests
on a large square base. The circular part, forming the upper portion
of the pedestal, adorned by prow heads of an ancient or conventional
type, is surrounded by four allegorical seated figures, one at each
corner, representing religion, geography, strength, and wisdom, and
by bas–reliefs delineating events in the hero’s life. Columbus stands
pointing with his finger to a recumbent nude American–Indian lying at
his feet. The whole is of white marble, and bears on the base a simple
dedication.

It is a noble monument, and affords, as it were, at the very threshold
of Italy, a remarkable specimen of Italian skill in sculpture, and
particularly in graceful grouping of figures, and in designing a
pleasing and handsome pedestal, from which those who have had charge of
some recently–erected monuments at home might have done well to have
taken a hint.

However, we had no opportunity then of studying either station or
monument. We hastened to the omnibus of the Hotel de Gênes, and drove
there with a large company of English, by whom this hotel would seem to
be principally patronized. Some of the hotels in Genoa are planted in
undesirable localities. This one is situated facing the open piazza,
where in the morning market is held, and in the immediate neighbourhood
of all the principal buildings and good streets, the principal
theatre, Carlo Felice, being opposite, and the post office within a
stone–throw. Like most of the buildings in Genoa, the hotel is of a
somewhat palatial order, having wide lofty staircases and rooms, some
of them oppressively large. A bedroom we had seemed to be about 30 feet
long by about 20 feet high.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day continued fine throughout, but heavy rain fell through the
night, and the next morning was very cold. We drove about for two hours
to see the town; but it became so cold, wet, and windy, that we had to
give up further visiting for that day. Among other places we visited
Santa Maria de Carignano, a great church, built by the munificence of a
single Genoese citizen, which crests the eastern height overlooking the
town; and from the terrace on the top of it there are magnificent views
of the entire panorama—the harbour, the coast east and west, the city,
and the mountains, which there lay, covered with a coating of snow,
which no doubt had fallen through the night, and gave a very bleak
appearance to the surroundings. I could gladly have remained up for a
long time (the others had not ventured), but the cold was so great that
I could only take a momentary glimpse. We had also from the opposite
extremity of the town a different view, looking from the harbour near
to the lighthouse upward to Genoa, rising in crescent form line above
line from the basin of the port. The street itself, which surrounds
the port, is for the most part noisy, bustling, and dirty—by no means,
therefore, attractive. At some parts the passage is nearly blocked by
loiterers, who may perhaps, by a stretch of charity, be supposed to
be actively prosecuting some busy calling, just as may be seen on the
street of a country town at home on a market day.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following day was dry, but cold, and afforded an opportunity for
going about a little on foot, and seeing some of the large churches
and the streets of grand palaces for which Genoa is famous. These
palaces (some of them now used for purposes other than those for
which they were built) are principally situated in a line of streets,
called the Vias Balbi, Nuova, and Nuovissima. Like those of many of
the Italian towns, these vias are paved with large flat blocks of
stone, neatly, closely, and uniformly laid. The palaces themselves
are massive stone buildings of the elegant Italian style now so often
adopted by our architects in designing banks and public offices, the
walls generally in rustic work, and the cornices rich and heavily
projecting, the large windows protected from assault by thick outside
iron gratings and stanchions, imparting a very prison–like look. The
palaces are lofty and handsomely built, and the entry is generally by
a large gateway to an inner court, round which further buildings are
placed. Wide handsome staircases, quite a marked feature, conduct to
the upper floors. The streets which are lined by these palaces are so
narrow that the elegance of design is greatly lost to the eye. On this
the occasion of our first visit, we had only opportunity of seeing the
Palazzo Brignole, which contains a fine collection of paintings by the
great masters Vandyke, Guido Reni, and others. Among them we observed
a particularly good St. Sebastian by Guido. In the following year we
visited some additional palaces,—viz., first, the Palazzo Durazzo
on the Via Balbi, a magnificent house with a much–noted staircase.
Notwithstanding the family were then residing in this palace, we were
shown through about a dozen rooms, in which the hangings were of superb
elegance, and the walls richly adorned with pictures. Thence we went to
the Palazzo Balbi, a fine mansion, but not equal to the Durazzo; and
thence to the Palazzo Reale, one of those royal palaces which the King
of Italy seldom visits, but which he nevertheless appears compelled to
maintain. The rooms are beautiful, the queen’s bedroom particularly
rich and dazzling. The facilities afforded for seeing these palaces,
which no one going to Genoa should, if possible, omit to visit, are
very commendable. A fee of 1 franc to the attendant is all that there,
as elsewhere in Italy, is expected.

       *       *       *       *       *

The churches of Genoa are, like all Italian churches, very dark and
very dirty—purposely ill–lighted, no doubt, to produce a dim religious
light, and dirty because it is part of an Italian’s religion in church
to spit upon the floor and otherwise to consider that cleanliness is
next to ungodliness. The Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the neighbouring
Jesuit Church of San Ambrogio are large buildings, especially the
cathedral, and possess fine altars, surmounted by show pictures, and
otherwise are richly adorned. The Church of San Annunciata, on the way
to the railway station, is profusely gilded.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the afternoon we walked to the Aqua Sola, a public park, which is
evidently a place of resort of the Genoese gentry. Being a winter
day, there were not many going about; but we saw a number of handsome
equipages with Italian horses, their long flowing tails touching the
ground. A very curious kind of curricle, such as we saw nowhere else,
was constructed with high wheels, and seated, like a country mail cart,
for one person only. This was drawn by one horse at full speed, and
between two of them a race was run round and round the park. We had
seen a good many of the women walking about town, having a mantilla or
veil depending from the head—a graceful Genoese fashion, although one
would hardly think it could afford much protection from either cold or
heat. But here, for the first time, we saw some of the grand Italian
nurses, who are generally dressed in a most peculiar and magnificent
attire, their hair fantastically decked with large pins, very gorgeous
to behold. There were evident degrees of magnificence, dependent, I
suppose, to some extent upon the condition of the family in whose
service the nurses were. The children also in their charge were attired
in costumes more or less brilliant and rich, everything in Genoa being,
I presume, from a palace to a hair–pin, necessarily ‘superb.’

       *       *       *       *       *

Next morning we resolved to proceed to Spezia, but before going, drove
out to the famous Campo Santo. It is situated about a mile and a half
out of town, and the road to it is by no means choice; but the place
itself is remarkable. The cemetery covers a good many acres of ground,
and, judging from the inscriptions on the tombs, is little more than
a quarter of a century old; but the mode in which it is laid out
is peculiarly Italian. It was the first of the kind I had seen. We
subsequently visited others in different parts of Italy; but there was
not one which could be compared, for combined grandeur and tasteful,
refined elegance, with that of Genoa. The main portion of the grounds
is laid out in a large square, enclosing a piece of open ground,
probably, speaking roughly and from recollection, six or eight acres
in extent. This open ground apparently is used for the more common
burials, and is in no way extraordinary, except for the contrast it
affords to the enclosed portions. The monuments, thickly planted in it,
are of the paltry, frippery kind,—little tumble–down, uneasy–looking
crosses, gewgaw wirework, top–heavy miniature lanterns pending from
poles agee,—mingled with tawdry remains of immortelles and withered
flowers, so commonly seen in Roman Catholic grounds abroad, though,
to do the Genoa burying–ground justice, it is much more tidy in this
respect than is customary. A colossal statue of the Virgin stands in
the centre of the open space. Round three sides of this ground (besides
the fourth regarding which anon) there have been built, in white
marble,—of which material there are quarries in the neighbourhood of
Genoa,—two long, parallel, spacious enclosures or vaults. In the outer
of these vaults, monumental tablets are ranged down the side walls
row above row in great uniformity, recording the names (with usual
dates) of the deceased persons who have been, or are presumed to have
been, buried in cells of which these are the outer ends or sides. The
tablets are all of white polished marble, and black lettered. There is
nothing particularly striking about this part except its extent and, to
our eyes, novelty. But the inner aisle or arcade and all the corners
or prominent parts are devoted to statues and figures, and sometimes
representations in _alto relievo_—all cut out of white marble, and
erected in memory of the more eminent or more opulent citizens of
Genoa, or members of their families, who are buried there. The
monuments evidence possession not merely of the beautiful material out
of which they are produced, but of great natural capability on the part
of the Italian sculptors, and of a taste on the part of the public,
either natural or educated, in that direction. Without according
indiscriminate admiration, one may say that there was scarcely a piece
of sculpture of which our best artists at home could reasonably be
ashamed. On the one side of each arcade the memorials are, for the
most part, mural; on the other, which opens by arches to the Campo,
the principal monuments are placed one under each arch. The general
character of the mural monuments is stately repose, some exceptionally
being in action. But under the arches, between the supporting columns,
the figures are often in startling resemblance to life. For example,
one group is of a lady sitting up in bed, with an earnest fascinating
or fascinated look, grasping the right hand of another in a long
garment, loose from the neck to the feet, whose left arm and forefinger
of the hand are pointing upward. In another, a charming female figure
appears soaring with an angel upward resting on clouds, the group being
pervaded, like so many more, by a marvellous grace and freedom of
execution. Another is a mother with a babe in each arm. But it would be
endless to describe them, the more especially as to do so effectively
one would require to make each monument a special study—not to be
recommended, because the vaults are cold, and it is not safe to linger
in them. Only the west of the three sides of the quadrangle, and part
of the south side, were then so occupied.

The fourth side of the square lies upon the slope of a hill, and
advantage has been taken of this natural feature of the ground for
the formation of terraces, in the centre of which, at the top of a
magnificent flight of marble steps, a large circular church of white
marble has been built, upon entering which we look upon a majestic row
of black marble pillars, standing in a stately circle round vacancy as
yet. When we saw it last, the church was not completed, and evidently
would not be for a long time to come, for no expense seems to be spared
to render it in every respect the grand complement of its beautiful
surroundings. Upon the arcaded terraces, stretching away right and left
from the church, we found some of the choicest groups of sculpture in
the whole place. They are large and costly, and harmoniously graceful
embellishments of the symmetrical structure. Behind these arcades,
vaults have been built akin to those on the other three sides; while
beyond, to the north, open ground on the hill–slope has been laid out
for interments,—as yet sparsely dotted by monuments.

       *       *       *       *       *

A burial–place such as this would at home cost such an enormous amount
of money as practically to remove from our thoughts the possibility
of erecting it. I presume it is only possible in Italy from the
circumstance that the sculptor’s occupation is more common, and is less
handsomely remunerated; but much also is due to the proximity of the
material, and to an appreciation on the part of the public of the forms
of high art. In regarding this wonderful enclosure, a mingled feeling
will in many minds arise; for its solemn impressiveness, its silent
grandeur, its touching monuments and bas–reliefs, its very unadorned
inscriptions, carry us away in thought and sympathy to sad scenes of
death and sorrow; while the brightness and purity, and the exquisite
forms and seraphic tranquillity of the sculptured white marble, point
to that beatific life beyond the tomb, where all is bright and pure
and exceeding lovely—where the spirits of just men made perfect, in
serene, undisturbed calm, dwell for ever in the rapture of heavenly
joy, and, arrayed in the beauty of holiness, are surpassing glad
amidst the burning thrill of boundless love and the celestial beams of
ineffable glory, and the sweet music of angel song—for, they stand in
the presence of GOD.



XI.

_SPEZIA, PISA, SIENNA._


WE had to hurry away from the Campo Santo to get money changed, prepare
for travelling, and be in time for the train at half–past one. When
we reached the hotel, we found there were about forty leaving by the
same train. We were therefore advised to take the first omnibus, but
it involved waiting an hour in the cold _salle–d’attente_ at the
station. I had taken at Nice, Cook’s tickets from Genoa to Rome, with a
potentiality of stopping at three places by the way; so that all I had
to do was to get the tickets marked for Spezia, our first stoppage, and
stamped for the commencement of the journey, and to get luggage weighed
and paid for. The trouble saved by taking these tickets was, I found,
so insignificant that I never afterwards procured them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The railway journey (57 miles) from Genoa to Spezia is very
tantalizing. It takes three hours, including stoppages, and in that
time we passed through thirty–eight tunnels. The line is close to the
sea, and the views or peeps throughout of ocean, rock, and village are
lovely and picturesque, the many small coast towns by the way being
brightly Italian in their character. We had scarcely time, however,
to enjoy any scene when the view was suddenly cut off by a long
tunnel, the same thing to happen time after time provokingly. It is
said that the tunnels, which must have rendered the railway a very
costly undertaking, are giving way, and that the line may require to
be abandoned. Be this as it may, to those who would enjoy the scenery,
nothing could be more charming than to drive, in warm enough weather,
by carriage along the Riviera di Levante, the scenes by road being
considered to equal those of the Riviera di Ponente. Some towns, such
as Nervi, in sheltered situations on the route, are used to some extent
as winter resorts, although comfortable accommodation is difficult to
procure. Even with all the disadvantages attendant upon travelling by
railway, we were greatly delighted with our journey, the pleasure being
much aided, no doubt, by the brilliant sunshine of the day. And here
I may just observe, that, notwithstanding the drawback of travelling
by rail and passing through so many tunnels, travellers of the present
day are greatly better off than those of only a few years back, when,
in consequence of the expense and insecurity of proceeding by road,
most people went by sea from Marseilles to Naples, touching at Genoa
and Civita Vecchia by the way. Splendid general views, doubtless,
they sometimes in day–time had; but not only did the vessels keep too
far out of sight of land to permit of close observation of the lovely
coast, but the voyages appear generally to have been made in great part
by night.


SPEZIA.

Spezia, on arrival, appeared beauteous, and, though a tolerably large
town, quite rural after Genoa. We drove to a large new hotel, the Croce
di Malta, the omnibus entering the hall of the hotel itself, which we
found to be spacious, with long flights of stairs and lofty ceilings,
and profusion of white marble,—in fact, the use of marble for some
purposes might well enough have been dispensed with. However, Spezia
is a summer and not a winter place, and these cool appearances must
be very grateful to the summer visitors. The Genoese largely resort
to it in summer months, and I suppose the sea–bathing obtained at its
beach is excellent. During our visit the weather was intensely cold,
and we had the utmost difficulty in heating our lofty rooms with fires
of a soft wood which rapidly burnt down. But what was thus a source of
discomfort, added a charming effect to the landscape. Snow had fallen,
and the Carrara Mountains (some of them between 5000 and 6000 feet
high), which are seen from Spezia, lying to the south, were covered
with a mantle whiter, perhaps, than the white marble they contain,
ranges of hills and mountains of a lower height in their own green
clothing lying between. Add to this fine effect the splendid harbour
to which nature has so much contributed, containing the great arsenal
of Italy, and the bay filled with large men–of–war, at one time riding
at anchor, at another steaming about in order to exercise their crews,
the handsome many–storied ranges of buildings fronting the shore, and
behind them the town with a ruined castle on a height, and rising
directly in the north a huge protecting wall of high mountains, and the
panoramic picture is complete. A London artist who was there at the
time (Mr. Pilleau), and whom we afterwards met at almost every place
which we visited in Italy, made a drawing in colours of the scene, with
the Carrara Mountains in the background; and I do not think that there
was among all his Italian drawings, which he subsequently kindly showed
us, one which had a finer pictorial effect.

       *       *       *       *       *

We arrived on the Saturday. English service was held in a room of the
hotel on the Sunday, and was well attended in the forenoon; but, in
accordance with a too common laxity of practice, few attended in the
afternoon. The Monday was a warmer day, and we enjoyed a ramble and
ascended the hill lying to the back of the town, from which we had a
grand view of the Gulf of Spezia, which is a tongue of sea running
up northward from the Mediterranean, and studded by islands at the
entrance. A delightful drive may be had to Porto Venere (more charming
when leaves are out), but we did not feel it sufficiently warm to
hazard the exposure.

It would undoubtedly have been a gratification to have seen the arsenal
and the large 100–ton gun, but we were informed that it was necessary
to obtain from Rome a permission to see them, and this difficulty put
it beyond our power.

       *       *       *       *       *

We remained three nights at Spezia, and on Tuesday morning left for
Pisa, the weather having again become raw and cold.

The journey to Pisa occupied about four hours. We passed many
interesting places, and among others the Carrara quarries. Immense
quantities of the white marble, quarried from the hills adjoining the
railway, lay at the stations ready for transport. The quarrying of
this famous marble, the purer quality of which is of close grain (the
fine statuary marble), is a source of employment to a vast number of
workmen. When the traveller has time to spare, it is no doubt worth
stopping a few hours between trains to visit the place. At last we
arrived in sight of Pisa, and as we entered the town got a glimpse from
the carriage windows of the buildings which have made it celebrated.


PISA.

The weather was cold, and lunch hardly helped to warm us, so we
speedily set out to get a brisk walk and see the lions. We had hardly
emerged from the door of the Hotel de Londres when we were waylaid by
one of the loitering guides. We could not shake him off, and engaged
him at 3 francs. He proved of little use beyond taking us the most
direct route to the objects in view by a handsome bridge over the Arno,
which is probably from 300 to 400 feet wide; but it was then in full
flood, the snow melting on the mountains bringing down much water.
Proceeding up a long street, we came at the end of it, on the outskirts
of the town, to the Piazza del Duomo, where are congregated all that
may be said to make Pisa famous in the world—its cathedral, its
baptistery, its Campo Santo, and its leaning tower. Here we stood face
to face with what had been familiar to me through pictures from boyhood
as ‘the seventh wonder of the world.’ Whether it be the seventh or the
seventieth wonder of the world, I don’t know, but it was with a strange
feeling I thus for the first time saw the reality. The day was too cold
to venture the ascent to the top, from which there is an extensive
view. Controversy exists as to whether the fact of the inclination is
due to design or to subsidence of the ground. I think the latter is the
real or more likely cause, the more especially as to all appearance the
baptistery also is off the vertical. The bell tower or Campanile (178
feet high) is one of those detached belfries not uncommon in Italy, and
of which few specimens occur in England. A rather uneasy feeling is
produced in hearing the bells ring, and thinking of the vibration to
which doubtless the motion subjects a building which seems as if ready
of itself to topple over. We were glad to take refuge from the cold
in the cathedral, constructed of marble, and eight hundred years old.
Unfortunately, the sun being under cloud, we could not see it to the
same advantage as if it had been a clear day. In length it exceeds 300
feet. The transept is over 250 feet. The interior, divided into aisles
by double rows of columns, is a wonderful collection of enrichment of
all kinds—pictures, statuary, carved marble, bronzes, articles in gold
and silver, and finely–ornamented pulpits and altars. We afterwards
saw many cathedrals and churches in Italy, but none to compare with
this cathedral in its peculiar description of magnificence. St.
Peter’s of Rome and St. Mark’s of Venice have their own distinguishing
characteristics entitling them to the first rank, but the Cathedral
of Pisa is just as much worthy of honour in its own line for what it
contains.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the cathedral we stepped across the piazza to the baptistery,
where we were so fortunate as to witness two new–born unhappy infants
undergoing the ceremony of baptism; which, indeed, was rather a
serious ordeal, as the poor little things, not a day old, were well
rubbed with oil, besides being sprinkled with water and tickled with
salt.[28] The priest rattled through the service with great rapidity,
the women uttering the responsive amen at apparently the right places
with promptitude, as if quite accustomed to it. Before the priest came
in, I asked one of the women what was to be the name. ‘Would you give
it?’ was the reply. The building, thus detached from the church like
the Campanile (of which other specimens occur in Italy), is circular,
100 feet in diameter, surmounted by a dome 190 feet high. It is an
exquisite piece of workmanship, the font and pulpit being peculiarly
rich; the sculpture outside is also good. Within the building there was
a great ring of sound or hollow echo when the priest read the service.

       *       *       *       *       *

Leaving the baptistery, we rung the bell at the door of the Campo
Santo, and were admitted. It is small in size compared with that at
Genoa, and of a very different description and interest. Its age is
great, about seven hundred years having passed since it was founded. In
shape it is a parallelogram, probably about 400 feet long by about 150
feet wide. The walls are covered with curious frescoes, some of which
are getting indistinct. Round the enclosure and by the walls, under
cover, many fine monuments in marble, old and new, mingled together,
are disposed more like objects in a museum than as forming memorials in
a place of sepulture. The interior court or burial–ground is said to
have been made up of earth (fifty–three ship–loads) brought from Mount
Calvary or some other place near Jerusalem.

       *       *       *       *       *

In returning to town, we saw many shops filled attractively with
Italian sculpture in alabaster and in Carrara marble. Alabaster,
however, is soft, and is more liable to injury than marble, the groups
in which material are much dearer, but at the same time fairly moderate
compared with prices at home, although in computing price the risk and
expense of carriage have to be added.

The town of Pisa is situated upon both sides of the Arno; the streets,
wide and lined with high houses and other buildings, look tidy and
clean; but about all there is a deserted look, although the population
is stated at 50,000, and the place, which is a University town, is
compactly built. It has a mild humid atmosphere, said, rightly or
wrongly, to have curative properties for those affected with asthma.
Centuries ago it was a leading commercial city, the great rival of
Genoa, with which it was long at war, and to which it ultimately
succumbed. Merchants had not at that time learnt that their true power
and proper glory lies not in war but in commerce.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day was fine, with a bright sun to warm the air; and we
took advantage of it to drive to Lucca, said in guide–books to be
fifteen miles distant by rail: by road it seemed little more than ten.
Calculating according to Bædeker, we should only have had, by time
occupied (six hours), to pay 6 francs for the carriage; but the driver
asked 15 francs, and agreed to go for 12½ which we were informed was
ample fare. On return he wished us to go by some other route, and if we
had agreed, it would, we were told, have enabled him to make his own
terms at the end of the drive. The road to Lucca is well–formed, hard,
and level, and would therefore seem to have been one of the old Roman
roads, the more especially as it lies between what were two ancient
Roman cities. It was a most delightful drive through many picturesque
valleys, and through a mountainous country, and it would have been more
so two months later. At this time the trees were bare. On the way, near
Ripafrata, a bold, steep rock rises like an island from the plain,
crowned by a small Italian town, which our driver named Lugliano—a very
striking object, especially with the snow–capped Apennines peering in
the background over the nearer hills, quite an artist’s study,—and of
which, stopping the carriage for a few minutes, I made a rapid sketch.
As a characteristic specimen of ‘a city set upon a hill,’ of which we
afterwards saw so many in Italy, the drawing is given in illustration.
Lucca is a fortified town, in regular wall and ditch formation, three
miles in circuit, and there is a good deal to see in it. We visited the
cathedral, and walked round a portion of the ramparts, from which views
are had towards the mountains which surround Lucca.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are two routes from Pisa to Rome—one by Leghorn and the coast,
which would have obliged us either to stop the night at the uninviting
town of Civita Vecchia, or to have arrived at Rome late in the evening.
We chose the other route by Sienna. To go by Sienna, the traveller
proceeds eastward about half–way along the railway to Florence, and
changes carriages at Empoli. From Empoli the railway strikes off
southward to Sienna and Rome. Sienna stands high, being 1330 feet above
the level of the sea, and is considered a place of summer residence for
its coolness.

[Illustration: A CITY SET UPON A HILL, ON ROAD TO LUCCA.]


I was therefore somewhat apprehensive, considering the cold weather we
had endured, lest it might be too cold. Although, however, it stands
high above the level of the sea, it does not seem to be more than 200
feet above the level of the surrounding country, or of the railway,
and we did not find it very cold. But a change had taken place in the
weather, and it was again a fine cloudless day. Having decided to go by
Sienna, we could not resist making another excursion to the cathedral
before starting by the mid–day train, and were all but tempted to
ascend the Campanile. But to an invalid it looked chilly outside, and
the height deterring; and I being the only one who might have gone, the
custodier could not take me alone, the rule, to guard against accidents
or suicide, being that not less than three must make the ascent at a
time. The cathedral looked much finer in the sunshine, and we could
have lingered long examining it in detail, and would gladly have had
there the wearisome time, well–nigh an hour, we were, according to
Italian custom, required to spend in the _salle–d’attente_ of the
railway. The journey from Pisa to Sienna, about seventy miles, is
through a mountainous country, with some places of interest by the way,
though our prospect was much contracted by reason of a passenger in the
carriage who would draw down all the blinds on his side and read a book
the whole way, till his wife, out of shame, seeing our disappointment,
persuaded him to allow one of the three blinds on his side to be
raised, there being no sun peering in even to justify an excuse, which,
indeed, never was made. In four hours and twenty minutes we arrived at
our destination.


SIENNA.

Sienna, resting on the top and brow of a hill, looks picturesque from
below. The railway station lies in a hollow, and the road up to town
is steep. We drove to the Grand Hotel, which, though not mentioned
in Bædeker, unless its name has been changed, is in by far the best
situation of any, its windows looking down upon the public park and
across to the fort or citadel; while, to add to its attractions, it is
kept by a worthy English landlady, and is consequently possessed of
all English comforts. We had an hour to see the town before dinner, at
which we enjoyed its famous Chiante wine presented in flasks.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following morning, having engaged a guide from the hotel, we
desired him to take us to the places of most interest. Accordingly,
he led us through the long, narrow main street of Sienna, where there
is scarcely room for two carriages to pass, and no footways, and
all paved, according to Italian mode, with large flagstones. There
are shops in this street, and, I think, nowhere else, but of a very
inferior description. It terminates near the Collegio Tolomei, which
we entered to see a large gallery of the old masters, including some
good paintings, one especially by Perugino. From this we proceeded
to the cathedral, which is built in alternate courses of black and
white marble, the façade very richly ornamented. The interior, though
highly adorned, is not so rich in works of art as the Cathedral of
Pisa. The interior pavement, composed of marble mosaics, representing
Old Testament scenes, had unfortunately been so much worn by the
worshippers’ feet as to require to be boarded over for protection;
but a part of the boarding is removed, to allow the visitor to see
a portion as a specimen. We were shown into the library, which is
surrounded by huge illuminated tombs, some of which lie open for
inspection. It is a great lofty hall, ornamented by sculpture and by
large frescoes, executed by a fellow–pupil of Raphael, his great master
having been said to have had a hand in the designs. These frescoes are
very bright and perfect, and were among the best we saw anywhere in
Italy. Leaving the cathedral, and just looking in at the baptistery
below, we crossed over to the large open place called the Piazza
Vittorio Emanuele. Here a curious sight met our eyes. A dentist, who
had been driving through the town in a carriage and four, with a band
of music to congregate the people, stood on the box of the carriage
among a crowd of people, and was gratuitously extracting their decayed
teeth as fast as the unfortunates could pass up to him. The patient was
seated, a moment’s inspection, the tooth (probably the right one, not
impossibly occasionally the wrong one) was drawn and tossed into the
air among the crowd; the person so operated on descended, relieved, on
the other side, and in a twinkling another unhappy one took his place
to be similarly treated. We understood that the operator was paid from
some charitable source.

       *       *       *       *       *

Several public buildings are situated in the Piazza, and among them
the town or public hall, containing many frescoes and paintings,
through which we were conducted. A very high, slender–looking tower or
campanile rises from it, and is one of the most prominent objects in
Sienna. Leaving the town–hall, we walked to the Instituto delle Belle
Arti, which contains a collection of old paintings, particularly of the
school of Sienna, principally interesting to the student; thence to the
large Church of St. Domenico, where are various paintings, and among
others, frescoes by Sodoma.

       *       *       *       *       *

The places which we thus visited were among the principal in the
town, and they showed that several days might profitably be spent by
students and lovers of art at Sienna. Returning to the hotel to lunch,
we afterwards crossed the esplanade or public park to the citadel, and
enjoyed the views of the surrounding country from the battlements. The
walls are high, with deep fosses. I think it was here for the first
time we saw the Italian soldiery; and besides those stationed in the
fort, there was a large force in barracks outside the walls, in front
of which the soldiers were being drilled. The Italian soldier is of
small stature, generally young or even boyish–looking, as if newly
conscripted. The uniform—a curious mixture of hot and cold attire—is
a blue cloth surtout, and white canvas trousers and gaiters, with a
black–glazed, round, broad–brimmed hat, adorned with a bunch of cock’s
feathers, and stuck upon the one side of the head—a most unmilitary and
unbecoming head–gear. The undress, a cap covered with white canvas, is
an improvement.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following morning we left for Rome. There is not much of interest
by the way, unless it be that the railway runs by the river Tiber
more than half the journey; but as we approached our destination, we
strained our eyes in eager longings to catch the first view of the
glorious old place. Rome, however, is not imposing at a distance.
Almost the only object which catches the eye is the dome of St.
Peter’s. At length we passed slowly through the Campagna, skirted
an ancient aqueduct and some other ruins, entered the walls of the
fortifications, and in a modern railway station were deposited in the
grand old Eternal City.



XII.

_ROME._


WE had about a month previously taken rooms in Madame Tellenbach’s
Pension for the 15th of March, but at her suggestion, as the weather
had been cold and wet, had given them up. We obtained quarters in the
Hotel de Londres, on the opposite side of the Piazza di Spagna. This is
a large open space, in what is considered to be the strangers’ quarter,
and most of the principal hotels are in it, or in its neighbourhood. It
is very necessary to be cautious where one sleeps in Rome, and we heard
that cases of fever had happened even in some of what are considered
the best hotels. It is said that it is not desirable to have rooms
immediately under the Pincian Hill; while, oddly enough also, it is
believed that the most healthy localities are those in which the houses
and their inhabitants are most crowded, as in the Ghetto. I cannot
vouch for either of these theories. After being two nights in the Hotel
de Londres, we procured rooms in Madame Tellenbach’s. There are some
advantages attaching to a house of this description in a place like
Rome; principally because the people mingle more sociably together than
in an hotel, arising, I suppose, from the lady of the house sitting
at table and introducing her guests to each other. It is also less
expensive than an hotel. It cost me from 4 to 5 francs per day for each
of my party more at the hotel than at the pension, the difference
necessarily being more or less according to circumstances, and
especially according to the rooms taken in the one and in the other.
But it must be admitted that there is a certain amount of additional
comfort, tidiness, and appearance, which are usually obtained at an
hotel, which a little judicious expenditure in a pension might secure.
And for a short visit the hotel is, in any view, preferable.

Those who intend to spend the winter in Rome can, if they so desire,
procure lodgings; and sometimes they can be obtained at a moderate
rate. A friend had (winter 1878–79) for six months a suite of rooms
(two public and three bed rooms) neatly furnished, in a good street
near the Piazza di Spagna, for 320 francs per month, service included.
The rooms, however, were on the fourth _piano_ or storey, and on a
lower floor would have been greatly more. But in Rome, as in Italian
towns generally, it is an advantage to be high up; and, indeed, one
may toil up a long stair, as we have done, and find an excellent
private dwelling on the top floor; for many of the houses in Rome
resemble the ‘tenements’ or ‘lands’ so common in Scotland, divided into
‘flats,’—that is, a separate dwelling on each floor, and communicating
with the street by a common stair.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Piazza di Spagna is a very convenient central position for all
parts of Rome, and it is filled with carriages for hire—both landaus
with two horses, and little carriages with one horse, principally the
latter. None of the horses look very strong, but they go actively
about. Carriage fares are moderate, a course in a one–horse carriage
being 80 centimes, with 20 centimes extra for each passenger beyond
two; nor is _buono mano_ (drink money) expected. Per hour, the charge
is 1 franc 70 centimes for one horse, and 2 francs 20 centimes for two
(scarcely 2s.). It is well that fares are so moderate, because Rome is
a place where people are cautioned not to fatigue themselves by much
walking.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were fortunate enough to get into good genial weather, with the
exception of an occasional shower, and remained in Rome at this time
for nine or ten days, when we went to Naples, and on our return spent
about a fortnight longer. Both visits combined made but a short period
in which to see all that is to be seen in Rome; but we did see (in a
general way) a great deal in that time, which it would be impossible
for me to describe fully in small compass. My object here is not to
describe in detail, or to furnish the information which may be had in
guide–books, or in more important works, and particularly in such books
as Hare’s _Walks in Rome_, which is a most exhaustive guide to all that
can be seen, or Sir George Head’s _Rome, A Tour of Many Days_, which,
in three volumes, furnishes very full accounts of everything; it is
simply to give a mere outline of some places we saw, so as to offer a
general idea of them, and be as hints to those who visit the old city.
Photographs and engravings have made all the important objects familiar
to the eye.

Some people set about the seeing of sights in Rome in a very
methodical, systematic manner, and so as to ensure their missing
nothing, planning minutely each night what is to be done next day. This
exhaustive method of ‘doing’ Rome is calculated rather to make a toil
of a pleasure; but some degree of pre–arrangement is necessary, so as
to economize time and to see as much as possible without weariness.
Having decided where to go, we usually after breakfast engaged a
carriage by the hour, or, if desirous of seeing a gallery of paintings
or a palace, which would consume an hour, drove to the place, dismissed
the cab, and on leaving took the first vacant one at the door. In the
city itself there is no difficulty in at once procuring one anywhere.
But in the outskirts they are not so easily found. This difficulty
happened once to ourselves, on occasion of visiting St. John in
Lateran. Having in view to see the church, museum, baptistery, Santa
Scala, and other neighbouring places, which would take at least two
hours, we unluckily dismissed our carriage, and when we left had to
walk some distance before obtaining another to take us back to town.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our first day in Rome was a Sunday. We readily found the Presbyterian
or Scotch church just outside the Porto del Popolo. It is a large,
airy, nice place of worship. The climate of Rome, however, does not
suit every one, and may produce weakness or develop what is latent. We
met at Mentone, in the following winter, an esteemed Scotch clergyman,
who ascribed debility to having in a previous year had three months’
duty in Rome. He had never, he said, been in good health since.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next morning we drove to St. Peter’s, which is generally the first
object of attraction to the visitor. The way to it leads through narrow
insignificant streets till the Ponte St. Angelo be reached. This bridge
across the Tiber is decorated on each side parapet with five white
marble statues, looking very black with exposure to the weather. The
Tiber rolls below, yellow, muddy, and unalluring, and is in breadth
between 300 and 400 feet, or about one–third the width of the Thames at
Blackfriars Bridge.

The Castle of St. Angelo is one of those marked features of old Rome
which engravings enable us at once to recognise. It was built by
Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and succeeding emperors, and the
square base of this immense monument covered an acre and a half of
ground. The round tower, which rises from the base, is now 188 feet
in diameter; but it is stripped of its outer case of stone and white
marble, and it no longer possesses what it is believed to have had, a
dome 300 feet high, together with encircling statues. When built, it
was no doubt a monument of the greatest magnificence; but its massive
strength caused it to be for centuries occupied as a fort, and the
successive sieges to which it has been subjected have brought about the
destruction of all its adornment. Its history is to a large extent,
since it was built, the history of the city of Rome, and may be seen
set forth in Mr. Storey’s _Castle of St. Angelo_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Passing the castle on the right, the Tiber being on the left after
crossing the bridge, the way lies along one of several narrow streets
terminating in the great Piazza San Pietro, so that till the Piazza be
reached St. Peter’s is obscured. It was not without emotion we arrived
in view of this noble building, sending out from it on each side, like
huge arms, imposing colonnades, consisting of no less than 284 columns
each 64 feet high, which enclose so far the Piazza. The Egyptian
obelisk brought to Rome by Caligula has been placed in the centre
of the Piazza, attaining, with its pedestal, a height of 127 feet 6
inches, and yet dwarfed in presence of the great temple, the dome of
which, however, is not well seen from the Piazza, or, indeed, from any
place near. The obelisk is flanked on each side by a large and handsome
fountain always playing, and in windy weather sending a shower of spray
to a considerable distance leeward.

The cab stopped at the bottom of the long flight of steps which led
up to the grand portico, and ascending it, we passed through, and
pushing aside the heavy mat which, as usual in Italian churches,
depends upon the door, looked eagerly in, and were—must I confess
it?—at first disappointed. One expects a great deal, and the magnitude
of the building at first sight did not strike us as so overwhelming. I
suppose this was partly owing to its admirable proportions; but when
we had walked round the interior, the vastness of the structure seemed
to grow upon us, and with every successive visit we felt its solemn
grandeur and majestic harmony impressing more and more. We contented
ourselves on the present occasion with walking round, Bædeker in hand,
studying the plan, and making ourselves familiar with the different
parts. St. Peter’s drew us to it repeatedly afterwards, and as this is
not a journal of visits, I may here simply notice the result of the
impressions which we formed.

       *       *       *       *       *

This grand edifice, the largest church in Christendom, is in every
respect on a colossal scale. There is nothing paltry about it, unless
it be the statue of St. Peter himself. This is frightfully hideous,
and why it should have been allowed to be set and to remain in a
place where everything is in such good taste, is very extraordinary.
The statue is a sitting one, bolt upright, and holding up two
fingers of the right hand in a stiff manner. The face is ugly, and
certainly has not anything of the Jewish type about it. Every minute
people are seen coming up to kiss the toe of this odious image, the
kissing being performed by all classes of people. I observed how
inconsistent it was with the character of the apostle, who, with
all his forwardness, had a profound consciousness of his own sinful
humanity, and who himself, when ‘Cornelius fell down at his feet
and worshipped him, took him up, saying, Stand up, I myself also
am a man.’ A story goes that a person affected with sore eyes had
gone up and rubbed them upon the toe, and immediately afterwards a
gentleman, ignorant of this remedial operation, coming in, kissed it.
Let us hope he was straightway informed by some charitable onlooker
of what had previously been done, and that the fact opened his eyes
to the grossness of such superstitious idolatry. It is strange that
Peter should be forced into association with Rome, because, as those
who have anxiously investigated the subject consider, there is no
actual proof of the ‘first’ (called) of the apostles ever having been
there. And yet in the Mamertine prison, the place is shown where it
is given out that Peter and Paul were imprisoned; and so far do they
presume on credulity, that a hollow in the wall is actually pointed
out and gravely affirmed to have been made upon it by contact with the
energetic apostle’s head, I suppose during animated discussions with
Paul. If I am not mistaken, it was Adam Smith who left the mark of his
head on the wall paper of the room in which he wrote his _Wealth of
Nations_; but Peter’s head must have been formed of stuff harder and
rougher even than that of his statue, to have hollowed out a hole in
a stone wall. A more wonderful stone, however, is shown in a little
chapel outside the gates, fixed on the floor, where we were gravely
informed, for the charge of, I think, 5 soldi (twopence halfpenny),
that the deep impression of two feet—pretty large ones too—were the
marks of Peter’s feet. This marvellous petrifaction is protected by
an iron grating.[29] To crown all, the dome of St. Peter’s is held to
cover the site of the burial–place of the apostle, and beneath lies
his tomb. Over the supposed tomb and over the high altar attached, at
which only a pope or a cardinal delegate can officiate on important
occasions, a canopy (_baldacchino_) rises ninety–five feet high, to
which, architecturally, exception has been taken. More exception might
be taken to the reality of the place of sepulture. It cannot even be
proved that Peter was put to death at Rome, and is it likely that
his persecutors would allow him to be buried in the spot alleged, or
that any succeeding emperor, supposing he was desirous of removing
the martyr to a place with which he, the apostle of the Jews, had
no peculiar connection, would have been able to have recovered and
identified the body?

       *       *       *       *       *

The grand central aisle of the cathedral is flanked by colossal
columns, the size of which can hardly be appreciated without actual
measurement or veritable comparison with other known heights. On each
side the aisles, of proportionate size, contain large chapels, one
of which is used for the ordinary services of the Church, which are
chanted by the pope’s choir. Gigantic statues and monuments of popes
adorn the aisles and transept. The altars, as usual, are enriched
by paintings, which at our first visit, being in Lent, were, as in
all the churches at that season, veiled. The altars themselves are
rich, but not obtrusively so—all in quiet keeping with the august
building. In the transept, wooden confessional boxes are set, each
different confessing nation, England included, having one. Looking up
the gigantic dome, we find the walls covered with mosaics. The four
Evangelists occupy a first course, and high above them other figures.

Once a week, Thursday mornings, before ten o’clock, the public are
admitted to ascend the dome, which, to the top of the lantern, is
403 feet high, the extreme height at the summit of the cross being
435 feet. The ascent, which can be made on horseback to the roof, is
extremely interesting, and gives a better idea of the magnitude of the
building than any perambulations below. It is effected by a special
tower situated near the portico. By a gentle slope the passage rises,
winding and winding round this huge tower, along the sides of which
inscriptions, cut in the stone, bear the names of monarchs who have
made the ascent, till, after a long and wearisome progression, the roof
of the cathedral is reached, and stepping out on it we see its great
extent and the gigantic size of the statues, which, having regard to
view from below, are three times the size of life. Walking across the
roof and mounting a few steps, we enter the dome, and get into the
first gallery which encircles it within. Even from this elevation,
gazing down, the people walking on the floor below looked like pigmies.
At this point we were brought into proximity to the mosaics, and
perceived the colossal scale upon which they are constructed. The
Evangelists, who look like life–size below, are found to be of immense
magnitude; and what look like small cherub boys below, are huge giants,
the dimensions of which I would not venture to name, because in St.
Peter’s all computations by the eye are deceptive, and it is only by
referring to actual measurement that sizes can be safely reckoned.
Here also the width of the dome (178 feet) is observable by finding
what a long walk it is round the gallery. A further ascent up narrow
stairs leads to the second gallery over the first and inside the
dome, and from this gallery everything below is still more dwarfed.
Then, by contracted stairs between the inner and outer walls of the
dome, the lantern is gained. It would be a dizzy height were it not
for the platform of the roof more immediately below. From this point
an admirable bird’s–eye view of Rome is had. Unfortunately the day
we ascended was gusty and wet with occasional showers, rendering it
undesirable to stand at the embrasures, and disturbing our view. But
we could catch a glimpse of the lie of the town and its extent, which
appeared less than we had expected to see it. Rome is compact, and this
city, once the mistress of the world, and said to have in the days of
its glory possessed a population exceeding that of London, does not
appear to cover one–third of the ground on which the city of Edinburgh
stands. The greatest length of the inhabited part seems to be about 1¾
miles, its greatest width about the same. According to the last census,
the present population is under 250,000. The town, as now occupied,
dates back only to the end of the sixteenth century.

The second Sunday we were in Rome was Palm Sunday, and after an early
breakfast we drove to St. Peter’s. A tedious service kept us waiting
about an hour, when the priests formed in procession and marched to the
portal with palms in their hands. These were blanched palms, twisted
into fantastic shapes, and not, as one would suppose, of the long
natural green branches, which would certainly have been more suitable.
The great door was opened and half the procession passed through and
stood outside, the remainder standing within. Some form of blessing
or other ceremony took place, and then they all marched back again.
Altogether it was a very poor affair, although, when it used to be
performed by the pope himself, I believe it was more imposing; but the
absence of the pope (Pius IX.), who since 1871 had never appeared in
public at this or other ceremonials, stripped the pageant of its wonted
attractions.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Vatican adjoins St. Peter’s, and consists of immense ranges
of buildings, said to contain 11,000 chambers. It is no ornament,
architecturally, to the cathedral, upon which it impinges, the portion
seen from the Piazza of St. Peter’s having too much the appearance
of a huge factory. Attached to it, and seen from some of the windows
of the Vatican, the pope’s garden occupies a large piece of ground,
very stiffly laid out, in which His Holiness can, unincommoded by the
public, who are not admitted to it, take his walks or drives. Admission
to the Vatican is by means of _permessoes_, which are procurable
through booksellers and others. To obtain these documents, people
are put to trouble and expense, while it must cost a little to issue
them, and really they seem required without adequate reason. As the
_permesso_ is given up at the door, a fresh one is necessary at every
visit, unless the visitor express a desire to retain it for use again;
when he intimates this at entering, gets it back at going out, and pays
the doorkeeper 1 franc for the privilege. Whatever may be the object of
employing them, it does not save fees, which are payable at every door
which is opened. The doors are very numerous, but fortunately the fee
expected is small—half a franc, or even, in some cases, quarter of a
franc from each party suffices for each janitor. These ‘proud porters’
have no objection to copper. It would be really much better if all
fees and _permessoes_ were abolished and strictly _prohibited_, and a
fee not exceeding a franc for a party of, say, four were exacted at
each visit. The galleries of the Vatican are places which most people
desire, when they go to Rome, to see over and over again.

The great gate of the galleries, in which the sculptures are deposited,
is reached by driving or walking all round St. Peter’s; and by making
the circuit, although it is rather long, one obtains another idea of
the vast extent and huge proportions of the cathedral.

The galleries containing the paintings are situated in other rooms, and
require separate days as well as separate orders for their examination.
The entrance is reached by the Scala Regia in the Colonnade, on the
right side approaching St. Peter’s.

We devoted two separate afternoons to each.

The sculptures are far more numerous than the paintings, and even after
two inspections, we could only consider we had seen them in a very
general way. To do them justice, one would almost require to bestow
upon each different group of halls a distinct visit. The number of
statues, busts, urns, and other sculptured objects exhibited, is very
great. Most, if not all of them, have been recovered from the ruins of
ancient Rome while under the government of the popes. The visitor is
brought face to face with the original of the Apollo Belvedere, the
Laocoon, and many other statues and groups familiar to all by copies or
by engravings. But it is necessary to watch carefully, lest omission be
made of some of the rooms; for we discovered, on going a second time,
rooms we had previously overlooked, and which contained some of the
finest statuary. Of many of the halls and of the individual statues,
photographs can be purchased in the shops, which, to those who have not
seen them, convey some idea of the galleries and their contents, and
are exceedingly useful to those who have, in recalling them. Without
this help, the multiplicity of objects tends to obscure and confuse the
recollection. There is one annoying feature about the statue galleries
of the Vatican, that in place of the names of the objects, there is
painted upon them the name of the pope by whom they were placed where
they stand. One gets quite irritated by the vanity of Pius VI. and Pius
VII., leading them in so objectionable a manner to obtrude their names
upon the public.

The examination of the picture galleries is much more easily
accomplished. The good paintings are in reality confined to two or
three rooms, and one or two more, in which are fine frescoes by
Raphael and others. The great attractions of this gallery are—’The
Transfiguration,’ by Raphael; ‘The Madonna di Foligno,’ a fine
work of the same great master; and ‘The Communion of St. Jerome,’
by Domenichino. The upper portion of ‘The Transfiguration’ is so
exquisitely beautiful as to suggest whether it would not have been
better severed from the lower half, representing the writhing boy in
the midst of the perplexed disciples, which, though it may have been
designed by Raphael, was painted by his pupils. Indeed, the insertion
of the scene may be said to be an anachronism, because the cure was
effected on ‘the next day,’ while its introduction detracts from the
feeling of sublime elevation above the world and the things of the
world which the upper portion of the picture breathes.

There are many other fine pictures in the rooms by the old masters.
One in particular, which struck me for its softness and beauty of
colouring, was a ‘Madonna and Child,’ by Sasso Ferrato, although it
must be confessed both the mother and child are rather plumply fat. I
asked the price of a photograph of it for sale in the rooms, taken from
an engraving, and was asked 4 francs. It is so often the way in such
places to demand long prices.

We had not an opportunity of seeing the library of the Vatican.

The Sistine Chapel is what nobody omits to see. The entrance to it is
from the Scala Regia, just before coming to the picture galleries.
We saw it once, and I must own it fell short of expectation. The
chamber is dark, the frescoes are fading, and to see some of them it
is necessary to lie on one’s back and look up. The view, therefore,
is indistinct and uncomfortable; but though they are from the hand of
a great master, the eye experiences a want of repose, the effect of
over–decoration.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is usually recommended to people visiting Rome for the first time,
to take a preliminary drive of some hours, to form a general idea of
the city. This, after our first visit to St. Peter’s, we did, and found
it attended with considerable advantage. Except where it is bounded
by the Tiber, Rome is surrounded by walls of defence, in which are
several gates. Outside of some of these gates, the town has slightly
extended; but, for the most part, the walls stretch a good way beyond
the inhabited portion of the town, which is very compactly built, there
being no large public gardens or parks within the city, and scarcely
an open square, while the streets are narrow and the houses high. The
seven hills upon which Rome has always been regarded as standing,
are rather hillocks than hills, and do not, seen from the Campagna,
bulk much upon the eye. They vary in height from 156 feet to 218 feet
above the level of the sea; so that, deducting at least 40 feet for
the general level of the city, the highest is but low. From the Porto
del Popolo, outside of which the Protestant churches are, with one
exception, placed, and inside of which is one of the largest piazzas,
or open places, in Rome, three straight–leading streets branch out,
diverging at acute angles—viz., the Via Babuino, conducting into the
Piazza di Spagna; a centre street, the famous Via del Corso; and a
third, the Via di Ripetta, which passes by or near to the banks of the
Tiber. All these streets proceed (a wonderful circumstance in Rome) in
straight lines to a considerable distance, the Corso fully a mile in
length, the vista of all being terminated at the one end in the Piazza
del Popolo by the Flaminian Egyptian obelisk, the third in altitude in
Rome. The Corso, the longest and central one, terminates at a point
not far from the forum of Trajan and the Capitoline Hill, in the
vicinity of which the principal ruins of Rome lie. Out of the Corso,
however, except where it is crossed for a short way after leaving the
Porto del Popolo by a few regular streets, the streets of Rome are so
tortuous that I do not recollect any other city, at least similar in
size, where it is so puzzling to find one’s way about. I did once or
twice adventure on a walk, just to try and familiarize myself with
the streets, but in doing so found it necessary to take the bearings
very exactly, and to keep the map in hand, to prevent my getting
bewildered. These tortuous streets are irregular and narrow, sometimes
with scarcely room for two little cabs to pass. They are causewayed,
but have no footpath. Even the three leading streets I have named
are extremely narrow. The Corso is only 40 to 50 feet wide, and the
footpaths which have been placed there are proportionately contracted,
leaving, I may say, no room in some places for two foot–passengers
to pass each other. The streets are now, however, like other Italian
towns, lighted with gas, the want of proper lighting previously having
been much felt. The principal shops are in the Corso, the Piazza di
Spagna, and the Via Condotti, which crosses from the Corso to the
Piazza. Some of the chief booksellers are in the Piazza, but the
jewellers’ and photographers’ shops are the kind which are most largely
patronized by strangers. None of the shops, however, are capacious, and
the wares they contain are in general marvellously limited in quantity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Beyond the inhabited part of Rome, there are many good roads,
principally conducting to or from the gates, and leading to the country
beyond. As one passes along the streets, the eye is continually met by
churches, palaces, and other public buildings; but the great attractive
interest lies in what remains of the grand buildings of ancient Rome,
which for the most part are found in proximity to each other.

Of these, the one which predominates, and by its imposing mass
generally claims the first examination, is the Colosseum. It stands
nearly free from other buildings, in all the sublimity of age and
magnitude. But not far from it are the Arches of Titus and Constantine,
the ruins of the Temple of Venus, of the Basilica of Constantine, of
the palace of the Cæsars on the Palatine Hill, of the Forum Romanum,
and of many other ancient buildings and places, familiar to all who
have read about Rome, and which one could not see for the first time
without being profoundly stirred. There are gentlemen—I suppose they
may be called clinical lecturers—who give descriptions on the spot
of these interesting old places, and the information so afforded is
useful, because the results of study are imparted by the living voice
in a familiar way, and special attention is called to the historical
associations, which otherwise to most people might remain unknown.
One of these gentlemen, Mr. Forbes (charge, 3 fr. each), makes up
two parties per day, one before and one after lunch—regularity in
taking which, in Rome, is always recommended as essential to health.
I had an opportunity on one occasion of accompanying him, and there
was certainly an advantage in hearing his explanations. There is so
much, however, to see in Rome, and that of a diversified character,
that this was the only time I managed to do so. Mr. Shakespeare Wood
is another who occasionally goes out in this way, but I was apprised
that he would not form a party during the time we were in Rome. He is
said to be remarkably well informed, and is usually engaged by Mr.
Cook for his special excursions. To those who would study old Rome,
great assistance might be found in a series of instructive papers,
evincing great literary research, and evidently of minute exactness of
statement, printed in the _Transactions of the Architectural Institute
of Scotland_, written by the late Mr. Alexander Thomson of Banchory.
It would be well if these scholarly papers could be collected and
published by themselves, for, as they stand, they are not within the
reach of the general public. Some of the statements I shall hereafter
make on Old Rome will be on his authority.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would not be possible, according to the plan I have adopted of
a rapid survey of what is to be seen in Rome, to give any detailed
description of the various ancient buildings, which, besides, are by
means of photographs and engravings so familiar even to those who never
have visited Italy.

The Colosseum[30] is an immense mass of building, notwithstanding not
only that it was long occupied as a fortress, and subjected to the
injury resulting from attack and defence, but that it was, like so many
others, used for centuries as a quarry for its stones, its marble,
and even its iron. Happily this species of destruction was stopped by
the French, and steps have also been taken for its preservation by
building strong and lofty supports. The Colosseum is at least twice as
large as the arena at Nismes, and even as it now remains it is twice as
high,[31] but that at Nismes is in much better preservation. The outer
walls, galleries, and arches of the Colosseum are built of massive
blocks of stone, bound together with iron; but brick composed what was
below. Brick, evidently of a hardy quality, cemented by a very strong,
durable mortar, appears, indeed, to have been very largely used by the
Romans for the carcases or substantial and concealed portions of their
buildings. These brick carcases, however, were either built over with
substantial stone–work, or faced with slabs of marble, sometimes both;
and in a building of this magnitude, even the outer deceptive covering
of stone or marble would be of immense mass. By the removal of vast
quantities of the large stones forming the casing, a great deal of this
brick carcase or underwork has been laid bare, so that the interior of
the building has a very ruinous look. Externally, also, the removal
of courses of stone, in some parts combined with the ravages of time,
impart to it the aspect of a huge ruin. There is free entrance to the
public to the arena or central area. We seldom passed the Colosseum
without going in to take a glance at it. One could hardly, however,
forget what deadly scenes had been enacted there, what agonies had been
endured, what cries of pain had been uttered, what savage shouts had
once filled its walls, or help feeling thankful that the barbarous and
brutalizing spectacles which were then found necessary ‘to make a Roman
holiday,’ were now happily things of a long–past age.

I was so fortunate as to be in the city on Saturday, 21st April 1877,
which was held as the birthday of Rome (the 2630th, I believe), and
beheld a spectacle in the Colosseum which never had greeted the eyes
of the old Romans. Nearly the whole population was, in the evening
of that day, drawn to the great amphitheatre and its neighbourhood.
Joining a party of ladies from our house, with considerable difficulty
we drove through the crowded streets, and, dismissing the carriage,
we succeeded in getting inside the Colosseum along with a large but
orderly mass of people. After waiting long, we were at last rewarded.
All of a sudden, the various galleries, which I suppose had been lined
with soldiers, were illumined with coloured lights. On one half of the
huge building red lights were burned; on the other half, green. When
the powders were burned down, others were substituted, the colours
being reversed. The effect was magnificent. Every figure in the place
was bathed in coloured light, while the walls were one mass of a
glowing hue, disclosing the colossal proportions in all their ruinous
irregularity, and, where red was burned, looking as if it were a huge
lump of burning lava or molten iron. This over, with some trouble we
managed to edge away from the crowd to the outside, to see the further
operations elsewhere. The Colosseum itself was first lighted on the
exterior, which, fine as the effect was, I think could hardly be
compared with the interior view. Lights were then successively burned
to illuminate the Arches of Constantine and Titus and the Basilica
of Constantine—the figures of the persons running about in charge
appearing at a little distance, wrapped in the carmine colour, like so
many incarnate demons. Last of all, the Forum, the Capitoline Hill,
and the surrounding buildings and ruins, were several times similarly
illuminated, while a display of fireworks from the Capitol terminated
this very imposing spectacle.

       *       *       *       *       *

The grand dimensions of the Colosseum drew us often there. It seemed
at every visit more and more imposing. Leaving it, and proceeding by
the Via Sacra to the Capitoline Hill, which lies about half a mile
distant, one passes upon the left the Arch of Constantine, standing at
the entrance to a broad wooded roadway, called the Via di Gregorio,
running between the Palatine Hill (on which are the ruined palaces of
the Cæsars) on the right side, and the Church of San Gregorio Magno and
other buildings on the left side, and leading out towards the Appian
Way. The fine sculptures upon the arch are well preserved, and give a
richer appearance to it than to any other arches now standing; but have
been taken from buildings of an earlier age than that of Constantine,
and thought to be of the time of Trajan, whose life they illustrate.

About 200 yards farther on we pass under the Arch of Titus. The
bas–relief, exhibiting the triumphal procession and captive Jews, is of
itself sufficient to confer a lasting interest upon this arch. It forms
a grand contemporaneous record of the siege of Jerusalem, and of the
forms of some of the sacred furnishings of the temple.

Here we find and drive over a portion of the veritable paving–stones
of an old Roman road, the Via Sacra. Considering how frequently our
roads and streets require to be re–paved, re–laid, or re–macadamized,
it seems little short of a miracle that any portion of the old Roman
paving should have remained for so many centuries. But the Roman
roads were constructed in a special manner, with the great object in
view of ensuring their being solid, dry, level, and direct. The under
foundation was of three courses of broken stones of different given
sizes for each course, and altogether 3 feet deep, with a top course of
closely–jointed stone, generally basalt, a foot thick. The roads were
narrow, sometimes only 12 feet wide, and had a rise of 3 inches in the
centre to allow the rain to run off. The making of roads was considered
a matter of prime importance and a most laudable undertaking, so that
enormous sums were spent on them. In Britain alone there were 2500
miles of Roman roads. The roads of Rome were the more durable, inasmuch
as they were not subjected to the heavy traffic of our streets, the
carriages being small and light; while, as no gas and water pipes
underlay them, there was no everlasting turning of them up to get at
things below, and as little were there tramway lines to shake the
foundations or injure the surface.

The space of ground on which the Forum Romanum stands lies on the
Colosseum side of the Capitol. It is sunk many feet below the level
of the roads which now surround it, and which, no doubt, have been so
raised above it by the accumulation of rubbish during centuries. Little
is left entire in this open or excavated space but the Arch of Severus;
the remainder, inclusive _inter alia_ of the once splendid Basilica
Julia, and the temples of Saturn and Vespasian, are in ruins, only a
few pillars remaining to testify to what they were, and in some cases
not even so much. But enough remains to show how very elegant these
buildings must have been, although one would think, judging from their
present appearance, they were rather too much crowded together for
effect. The whole of the space, however, between the Capitoline Hill
and the Colosseum was at one time a scene of great magnificence, and
all glistening in white marble. Classic temples and other buildings
apart from the Forum were ranged upon one side, with the Quirinal and
Esquiline Hills, and Trajan’s Forum and Column in the background; while
the other side was bordered by the Palatine Hill (118 feet above the
valley), crowned by the grand palace of the Cæsars. This is now almost
a mass of ruins, but much excavation has of late years been made,
rendering a visit to it exceedingly interesting. We spent some hours
one day exploring the ground, admission to which is by payment of one
franc each.

The Capitoline Hill, attained from the Forum by two roads, and covering
an area of 16 English acres, is crowned, as seen from the direction
of the Colosseum, with a building which has little but some age to
recommend it, and from which a square tower rises. It turns its back on
the Forum below. The hill, however, in the time of the old Romans, was
undoubtedly decorated with imposing buildings worthy of its situation.
The temple of Jupiter Capitolinus is now ascertained to have stood upon
the highest part of the hill, on the site of the present Church of St.
Maria in Ara Cœli, reached by a very ladder of steps (124 in number)
from the level plateau on the main crown of the hill, formerly the
valley of the Intermontium, now called the Piazza del Campidoglio. This
church dates from the tenth century, and is the oldest extant in Rome.
It is large, but, though curious, cannot be said to equal many others,
and, I suppose, derives its chief importance from its association with
the miracle–working Bambino, which marvellous doll finds its abode
there. The Capitoline Museum stands on one side of the Piazza, and the
Palace of the Conservatori on the other. These are modern buildings,
but they contain a large collection of sculptures found in or about
Rome, and a large picture gallery comprehending many fine paintings
by the old masters. One of the sculpture rooms is devoted to busts of
the Roman emperors, and is considered to be the best collection of
them. It is strange and deeply interesting to look at these marble
representations, executed from the living person, of men who existed so
long ago, and whose actions are so noted in history. Where there are
more than one of the same man, they invite comparison to notice their
accordances or their dissimilarities. The galleries also comprise many
other objects of great attraction; for example, what is commonly called
‘The Dying Gladiator,’ which, thus seen in the original, far excels any
copy. Indeed, it is seldom that copies approach originals. They want
the delicate shades and lines, and other evidences of masterly power
denoting that marked superiority which raises the great creations of
genius above the works of the common herd. In another room we saw the
famous Capitoline Venus.

In a side street we were shown the place which is held to have been the
site of the Tarpeian Rock, from which malefactors were hurled; but if
this be the true site, the ground below has been much filled up, as the
height seems little enough for producing so violent a death. Near to
it the spot is also pointed out where Tarpeia opened the gate of the
citadel to the Sabines, and received the reward of her treachery.

In the centre of the Piazza the noble equestrian statue of Marcus
Aurelius arrests the eye. There is a vigorous power about horse and
rider to which no other similar statue rises. I have felt it impossible
to compare with it the equestrian statue of Charles I. at Charing
Cross, in London, or even that of Charles II. in the Parliament Square,
Edinburgh, although this last is considered a fine work of art. A
broad, handsome flight of steps conducts to the town below. Descending
a little way, there may be seen two wolves, kept within an iron–barred
cage in memory of the traditional story regarding Romulus and Remus.

We found not far from the Capitoline Hill the beautiful little
circular Temple of Vesta, which has been made familiar to everybody
by photographs and engravings, and in its neighbourhood a small part
of the Cloaca Maxima. This is a portion of the great system of drains
(either for sewage or for removing stagnant marsh water) with which
Rome was supplied. There it stands to this day, for everything with the
Romans was not only made adequate to subserve its purpose, but built to
endure, if only the destructive hand of man would let it alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would, however, be perfectly endless to attempt to enumerate, much
less describe, all the ancient buildings of interest in Rome. There
are now upwards of twenty temples, about a dozen triumphal and other
arches, and many other buildings, more or less in a state of ruin. To
describe all these would be beyond the scope of the present work. But I
can hardly, in narrating our visit, omit to advert to one or two more
of the features of Old Rome still remaining.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are scattered over the old city various prominent pillars and
obelisks, which naturally attract attention. The most important of
the monumental columns are those of Trajan and of Marcus Aurelius,
and there is also in the Forum Romanum a small pillar of a different
character, that of Phocas.

The pillar of Trajan is familiar to all by engravings. The
_bassi–relievi_ which encircle it contain no less than 2500 figures
of men, besides those of animals and other objects. It was erected
not merely as a monument to the man, but as a record in its height
of the depth of the huge work of excavation on the Quirinal Hill,
undertaken and accomplished at its site. The sculpture which adorns it
is a beautiful and interesting record of events in Trajan’s history.
The pillar was planted in the middle of a forum, and surrounded by
buildings of such wonderful beauty, and composed of materials so rich
and varied, that those who beheld them found themselves utterly at a
loss for words to express their admiration; but now, so far as any
remains are extant, altogether in ruins, while the rest has been built
over.

The column of Marcus Aurelius in the Piazza Colonna, is a similar
though less perfect structure.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the obelisks in Rome are more remarkable than the columns. When we
think of the difficulty we have recently had in removing to London a
single obelisk, and that not of the largest size, it seems incredible
to hear, notwithstanding Rome is so much nearer Egypt, that at one time
there were no less than forty–eight Egyptian obelisks standing in that
city. Of these, only twelve now remain visible and erect, and most of
them have been removed from other positions they formerly occupied in
Rome. The remainder, excepting two (one taken to France, and the other
to Florence), are, it is supposed, buried in the ruins of ancient
Rome. The twelve now standing vary in height from a very short one, 8
feet 6 inches high, to the largest, 102 feet high, not reckoning the
pedestals, which—in some cases inappropriate—add much to the height,
nor the additions, equally inappropriate, made to some of them upon the
apex. All have been hewn out of the syenite red granite quarries of
Egypt, but three of them, including that in the Piazza of St. Peter,
were extracted by the Romans themselves from these quarries, and have
no hieroglyphics, the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the remainder
attesting their true Egyptian origin. The obelisk now in London is 68
feet 5½ inches high, being scarcely the height of the fourth in size in
Rome, which is 69 feet. But the weight of the London obelisk is only
186 tons, while the weight of the largest (also the oldest, dating
back to 1740 B.C.) obelisk in Rome, that placed before the Church of
St. John Lateran, is 437 tons, or considerably more than double. The
removal to Rome of this last–mentioned huge and weighty block of stone,
and its erection on its pedestal, was an undertaking of immense labour
and cost, taxing the resources and appealing to the honour of emperors
for its accomplishment. The mere erection upon its present position of
that now standing in the Piazza of St. Peter’s (the second in size,
and weighing 331 tons), in the time of Sextus V., cost £9000. It was
on this memorable occasion, when under pain of death, certain to be
inflicted, all were commanded to be silent, and the ropes were about to
give way, the Italian sailor from Bordighera, at the peril of his life,
called out, ‘Wet the ropes!’ and saved the obelisk from destruction.
He was himself pardoned, and obtained for Bordighera as reward the
privilege of supplying Rome with palm leaves at Easter.

       *       *       *       *       *

Outside the walls of Rome, particularly on entering or leaving by
railway, long lines of lofty arches are seen, more or less ruinous
(having suffered dilapidation at the hand of enemies), which supported
aqueducts by which ancient Rome was supplied with water. At one time
there were no less than twenty–four of these aqueducts, entering Rome
from various distances. The water was brought along on the gravitation
principle, the inclination being believed to have been 1 foot in 400;
for although it seems the Romans were acquainted with the scientific
fact of which we now avail ourselves, that water in a closed pipe
will find its own level, they did not to any extent act upon their
knowledge of it. The water so brought in was distributed to an immense
number of small reservoirs, or wells or fountains, for the use of the
inhabitants, the surplus water being scrupulously employed to flush
and scour the sewers. But it was also used to supply the baths of
Rome. The bath was regarded by the old Romans as a necessary of life;
and many luxurious men, who had not the newspaper or the last new
book to wile away the time, bathed as often as seven or eight times a
day—great and small, men and women, all mingling promiscuously in the
water. To provide for this voluptuous habit, the baths were numerous,
and constructed on an enormous scale. There were no less than sixteen
establishments throughout Rome, intended not merely for the purposes of
ablution, but to supply other means of recreation, and public places
where the citizens might meet each other. The Thermæ of Agrippa, of
Caracalla, of Constantine, of Diocletian, and of Titus, still exist in
ruins, some of them exemplifying their magnitude. Those of Diocletian,
close by the railway station, were the most extensive, measuring more
than a mile in circumference. Our time permitted of a visit to only one
of these Thermæ, the Thermæ of Caracalla, which, enormous in extent
as they were, were only half as large as those of Diocletian. They
lie about three–quarters of a mile from the Arch of Constantine, and
usually, in a drive to the Catacombs of St. Calixtus, are taken going
or returning. The extent of the rooms is something marvellous. The
building itself was an oblong enclosed by walls, and is stated to be
above 700 feet in length, by nearly 400 feet wide, or nearly half a
mile in circuit.[32] Little remains of the structure excepting huge
walls or carcases of brick, at one time covered with plates or blocks
of marble, which have been removed, and either used in churches or
other buildings, or, in accordance with a very vexatious custom, burnt
for lime. The rooms, as indicated by the ruins left, must have been
of great magnificence, not merely from their size and their marble
pillars, coating, and flooring, but from the mosaics with which they
were inlaid, and the splendid statues with which they were adorned.
Some of the statues have been dug out of the ruins, and among them the
famous large group called the Farnese Bull, which we saw in the museum
of Naples, with many others now deposited in the museums of that city
and of Rome. To accommodate the bathers, there were placed around the
baths polished marble chairs (cool seats for the undressed), in those
of Caracalla to the number of 1600, in those of Diocletian to the
number of 3200. The scene during the bathing hours was no doubt very
animated, for the baths were crowded.

I may here state that the supply of water to modern Rome is both
abundant and of good quality, a circumstance of great importance, and
not always to be reckoned upon in other Italian cities, where the water
is looked upon, perhaps justly, with great suspicion.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Catacombs of Rome are very numerous and of great extent, and it has
been calculated that if all the passages were placed in continuous
line, they would extend to 545 miles. Those of Calixtus are what are
most commonly visited.

The drive to the Catacombs of Calixtus is very interesting; the ground
lies by the Appian Way some distance out of the city, and beyond the
Porta St. Sebastian. On the way the tombs of the Cæsars and Scipios
are passed, and in a neighbouring private garden (on entering which it
is highly proper to settle the fee to be paid) there are two buildings
sunk in the ground, termed Columbaria—pigeon–holes—apartments probably
about 20 feet square, judging from recollection. Descending by a narrow
stair, the walls are found covered over with small plates of marble,
and under each plate a little niche is formed, containing a vase. The
marble plates bear the names of persons deceased, and in the vases
below their ashes were deposited. They are curious, carrying one back
to ancient times, and becoming, too, a sort of preparative for the
visit to the Catacombs, to see which a _permesso_ is requisite, a fee
being, however, paid at exit to the conductor for each person, varying
a little in amount according to the number. As soon as a sufficient
party is collected, and waiting until the party which may be below has
reappeared, for only one set is taken at a time, the man in charge of
the Catacombs makes up the company for the visit. Each person then
lights the taper with which he or she ought to be provided (which, as
tapers are not supplied at the place, must be brought from the city,
a circumstance sometimes overlooked), and descent is made by a stair.
The visitors are rapidly marched or whisked along the narrow intricate
passages, on each side of which they see the catacombs in which the
bodies of persons deceased were formerly laid—the great burial–place
of the first Christians. There are many old Latin inscriptions, which
the guide stops a minute to point out; but with a very large number it
is difficult for all to get near him. It does not appear as if the
passages lay far below ground, I should imagine not exceeding 50 feet;
but though the air is warm, it is a dismal place, which the generality
of people, seeing once, will not care to see again. One requires to be
careful to follow the guide to avoid being lost. The examination does
not occupy so much as half an hour.

       *       *       *       *       *

On returning to the light of day we were glad to take a drive farther
along the Appian Way. This famous old Roman road was constructed at
enormous cost, and was 26 feet wide. At one part a mountain was cut
down 120 feet, to obtain that levelness which the Romans always desired
for their roads. In its original state it must have offered a very
remarkable scene. For, though not unusual for the Romans to bury, or at
least to erect monuments to the dead, along the side of public roads,
the Appian Way was the favourite part for entombment. For many miles
on each side it was lined by sculptured monuments or tombs in marble,
of more or less size or magnificence. But all that is now left is, in
general, nothing but portions of the brick carcases which underlay the
stone or marble surface. Vast numbers of these monuments have been
destroyed for the sake of the material. The only notable monument
remaining to some extent in preservation is the large and massive tomb
of Cecilia Metella—a circular tower 70 feet in diameter, the walls
of which are 25 feet thick. Its strength caused it at one time to be
used as a fortress. The Appian Way itself fell into ruin and became
impassable, but has now been cleared; and one can look along it and
see it proceeding as far as the eye can reach in a straight line. It
terminates at Puteoli, which when we were at Naples we visited, and so
had the good fortune, if it may be so called, to pass over both ends
of the road, immortalized by the Scripture record as that by which the
Apostle Paul went on his way to Rome.

Mr. Thomson, in an interesting paper on the _Recent Excavations in
Rome_, in which he gives, by illustrative restorations as proposed by
Canina of monuments in portions of the Way, some idea of its grandeur,
says (p. 28):

‘Altogether the Via Appia, when in its pristine glory, must have been
a wondrous scene, with its innumerable monuments extending on both
sides of fifteen miles of roadway, varied by occasional villas of
great extent and beauty, by temples, by exedræ or covered seats, and
by fountains. These are of every age and style, from the simplest
republican to the richest adornments of imperial times.

‘The Via Appia was the road by which travellers from Spain, or Africa,
or the East, arrived at the city.

‘How striking this approach to the Mistress of the World! How
heart–stirring the memories of the illustrious departed which it must
have called up in every heart!

‘We are not aware of any similar arrangement of equal extent and
grandeur among all the remains of ancient times.’

So numerous are the churches in Rome, that I believe it may be said
there is one for every day in the year. They abound everywhere, and
during a short visit one can only, of course, see a few of those which
may be regarded as among the chief. All of them, however, possess some
distinguishing mark to attract attention. We entered a good many, the
very names of which we did not know. And it is useful to notice that in
general it is necessary to visit the churches before twelve o’clock;
after the hour of noon they are closed, except in the case of some of
the more important.

The Pantheon (built B.C. 27) is the only ancient building in Rome
which is now standing entire, although bereft of its ornamentation;
but such has been the accumulation of rubbish around it, that the
steps leading up to it are now considerably below the level of the
street. The edifice itself, also, is much hid by surrounding houses,
and is not seen till one is close upon it. Passing through a grand
columnar portico, we enter a vast circular expanse 140 feet wide,
surmounted by a dome 140 feet high. There are large recesses or deep
niches around, which were formerly used as receptacles for statues of
the gods, when it became a Roman temple. The place now looks very
vacant. The building has been stripped also externally of its marble
covering or skin and other adornments, so that it no longer exhibits
the magnificence it once possessed. But here Raphael and other great
painters have been buried, and here the body of Victor Emmanuel, the
gallant first King of Italy, has found its resting–place. Mr. Thomson
observes:

‘The noblest of all the remains of ancient Rome, the Pantheon was,
without doubt, originally built as a portion of these (Agrippa’s)
baths; it is proved by the contiguity of the other fragments, and
by the identity of the style of the brickwork. It was turned into a
temple by Agrippa himself, on which occasion he added the portico of
sixteen Corinthian columns of granite, each of one stone, 50 feet 9
inches in length and 5 feet 9 inches in diameter. Thirteen of these
remain as originally placed; the three on the east side are modern
restorations.’[33]

San Pietro in Vinculi is visited because it possesses Michael Angelo’s
grand colossal statue of Moses. Notwithstanding its masterly power, it
is far from pleasing in the confined space in which it is placed.

The Jesuit Church (under which one of the lost obelisks has been
unfortunately buried) is very gorgeously adorned, and the altar of St.
Ignatius (the body of Ignatius Loyola lies below it) exhibits a globe
of lapis lazuli, said to be the largest known. This, like every other
church at Rome, is besieged by beggars at the door, who whiningly
importune for coppers, and one of them always officiously pushes open
the thick, heavy, greasy mat placed swinging at the doorway, to keep
out the cold air and to offer a convenient asylum to the insect world,
and thus, as it is never cleaned, affording a valid excuse for a demand
(were reason required). But in all the churches where anything is to
be seen inside, a spider is on the watch in the shape of a guardian,
who, keys in hand, proffers his services to open locked doors and
exhibit the treasures of the church, or to draw curtains which conceal
principal paintings. However, the fee is small; one franc or half a
franc for the party generally suffices.

One of these churches, containing a veiled picture, the celebrated
St. Michael of Guido Reni, is that of the Capuccini. The picture is
certainly well worth seeing, and, in some respects, it may claim a
preference over that of the same subject by Raphael in the Louvre.
But why should such pictures—except for fees—be veiled? The veiling
is very detrimental to the colour, as the exclusion of sunlight will
in time make a picture black. Italian churches are dark enough as
built, without shutting out the light of day from the paintings by an
impervious curtain.

That for which, however, people chiefly go to the Capuccini is the
extraordinary vaulting below the church. Here are arranged in all
manner of devices the bones of the monks attached to the Capuccini
monastery, of which this is the church. The skeletons of the more noted
are exposed entire in their garments, some of them 300 years old. It
is a ghastly spectacle, and was shown to us by a monk, who told us he
expected his own bones, when he died, would be placed in the vaults,
although we had understood the practice had been stopped.

Of a very different kind of interest was what is underground of two
other churches,—San Clementi and San Cosmo in Damian. In the vaults
below them we were shown the remains of the original churches, built
not later than the fourth century, though the precise date cannot be
ascertained. Those of San Clementi, discovered in excavating since
1858, are extensive and extremely interesting, including frescoes of
the eighth and ninth centuries—one of them being the Crucifixion. It
carries one back to Christianity in Rome of a very early period.

No visitor to Rome fails to visit San Giovanni in Laterano. This
is a spacious edifice with altars all round, and is one of the
grand churches in Rome, dating back a long way, and historically
celebrated. It is, of course, splendidly adorned. The baptistery, like
that at Pisa, is an entirely separate building in the Piazza. The
Lateran Museum adjoins the church, and on the ground floor contains
a collection of ancient statues, the entrance to which we had some
difficulty in finding. The upper floor is chiefly remarkable for its
collection of inscriptions inserted in the walls, taken from the
Catacombs, and of which there is an immense number; but there was
nobody to give any information. The famous Santa Scala, said to be
the steps of the staircase of Pontius Pilate’s house, up which, it is
given out, our Lord walked, is on the opposite side of the Piazza. The
steps are covered with wood to prevent them being further worn. We saw
a good many of the faithful painfully and laboriously ascending it
upon their knees,—a very tedious operation, and sometimes, it is said,
from its difficulty and unwonted novelty, a ludicrous one, the people
(who are of all classes, and fine ladies as well as common men) in
their contortions nearly tumbling over or knocking each other about.
At every few steps there is a fixed cross to kiss, and at each step
fresh paternosters are said; and when at last they attain the top (the
stair consists, according to my reckoning, of twenty–eight steps), they
kneel upon a small bench and look through an opening into a sacred
chapel beyond, and perform further devotions. We heretics ascended more
rapidly by one of the two side stairs by which the devotees descend.

A more splendid church than that of the Lateran is the Santa Maria
Maggiore, so named from being the largest of eighty churches in
Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is also one of the oldest
churches in existence, and has a handsome façade, in front of which
a lofty Corinthian column stands, surmounted by a statue of Philip
IV. of Spain. The interior is profusely decorated, and is remarkably
beautiful.

But perhaps the church which of all others, after St. Peter’s,
attracts most attention, is that of ‘San Paolo fuori le mura.’ This
is situated about a mile and a half outside the Porta San Paolo, in
a road where foot passengers had been lately robbed, and was not,
therefore, considered to be very safe for them. But no apprehension
was felt in proceeding by carriage, and it forms a pleasant drive from
the city. In going, the English cemetery, and the Pyramid of Cestus
adjoining, both outside the walls, are passed. These we had intended
visiting, but by a mistake of our driver we were taken some way beyond
the entrance gate, and then unluckily postponed our visit for another
opportunity, which never came, and our return to the city on the
occasion was by a different route. The Church of St. Paul, erected on
the road to Tre Fontane, where it is said the apostle was beheaded,
is a new one, the former one having been destroyed by fire in 1823.
The original church was founded so far back as the fourth century, and
became in time one of great magnificence. Externally there is nothing
remarkable about the present building, but internally it is one mass
of marble ornament on a grand scale. It was expected, when commenced,
the cost would amount to £1,500,000; but it is alleged that as much as
£10,000,000 sterling have already been spent upon it. This may be quite
the case. £10,000,000 according to some, and £20,000,000 according to
others, have in three centuries been expended on St. Peter’s, and that
during times when money was more valuable. But whatever has been the
cost, it must necessarily have been enormous. The church consists of
immense, square–shaped rooms,—huge boxes,—which are not over–pleasing
architecturally. Floors and walls are covered with large plates of
marble of every description, and long rows of costly granite pillars
(80 in number) and of oriental alabaster pillars imposingly line the
aisles. Four of the oriental yellow alabaster columns are supported on
malachite pedestals presented by the Emperor of Russia. The ceilings
(flat) are decorated; and along the walls under them a very long
series of portraits of all the popes has been executed in mosaic.
The windows are filled with stained glass containing representations
of sacred events. The decorations of the church, which comprise some
saved from the fire, are not yet completed, and at present (that is,
when we saw it) a feeling of emptiness was conveyed; but when, in
course of time, it is filled up with fine statues, paintings, and other
ornaments, like other Roman Catholic churches, as no doubt it will
be, this feeling of vacancy will disappear, and although in design it
may not brook comparison with other churches, it will probably be the
most sumptuous building in the world. Outside the church there is a
beautiful court of cloisters of the Benedictine monastery; but the site
is unhealthy, and the monastery cannot be inhabited during the summer.
If nobody remains in charge of this costly church during summer, I do
not know how it is guarded from depredation. It seems a great risk to
build it in such a situation. Perhaps the laws against sacrilege may be
so severe as to deter.[34]

There are many other churches in Rome which should be visited, but
cannot be described in a sketch like the present. Indeed, the fullest
description of such places can only enable a stranger to realize them
very imperfectly.

       *       *       *       *       *

The palaces in Rome, or what are termed such, are as great an
attraction as the churches, and to many much more so. There are about
seventy of one kind or another, generally huge old buildings, some
of which are open to the public on certain days of the week, or on
other stated days,—a fee of 1 franc per party being given to the
doorkeeper at leaving, which is always the time in Italy when fees
are paid, except when admission is by ticket, paid for at entrance.
Most of these palaces are visited for the collections of paintings
and sculptures which they contain, some of which are very valuable.
Generally the second storey is devoted to these collections, the first
being sometimes occupied as shops or as servants’ apartments, and the
upper floors by the family. Leaving umbrellas and sticks at the door,
visitors pass from one room to another unattended, although there are
men usually going quietly about to keep watch. There are lists in each
room, printed on cardboard, of the pictures in it,—one side being
generally in Italian, and the other in French. It would be perfectly
endless to describe these various collections. Those most worthy of
notice are specified in Hare’s _Walks in Rome_, which is a useful guide
to them. But it would really be conferring a great boon upon visitors
to Rome if some one were to publish a catalogue of all the collections
in the manner of the _Academy Notes_, illustrating the noteworthy. Only
by such means is it possible to retain in memory, or recall distinctly
and without confusion, some recollection of their varied contents, and
where given pictures are to be found.[35] Photographs of many can no
doubt be procured, and are useful, and, so far as they go, better than
the little rough sketches of the _Academy Notes_; but the collection
of such photographs is limited (they are for the most part taken from
engravings), and they can only be picked up by degrees. There is,
however, a very valuable collection of engravings, published under
direction of the Italian Government, of the choicest of the pictures
and sculptures; and a few pounds may be well spent in purchases, which
can be safely carried home rolled in tin cases which are supplied
for the purpose. The shop in which they are sold is close to the
Fountain of Treves, No. 6 Via Stamperia. The catalogue, extending to
33 pages, is divided into three parts,—_Pittura_, _Scultura_, and
_Architettura_,—and in the first part comprises the works of 43
painters. The engravings are fairly moderate in price.

       *       *       *       *       *

The galleries for the most part contain specimens of the great
masters,—such as Titian, Guido Reni, Vandyke, and almost every other
master of note,—though most frequently of the Italian masters and
artists. Some of these collections are very extensive. That of the
Borghese Palace occupies no less than twelve rooms. Among so many
pictures there is always to be found a great amount of mediocrity,
interspersed with works and gems of the highest art, over which one
could gladly linger. On most of them age has bestowed its mellow tint.
There is a richness and power in these old masters which one misses
in modern galleries; and after visiting the principal collections in
Italy, and fresh from the Louvre in Paris, I felt as if landed in a new
world on entering the Royal Academy in London.

In some of the galleries persons are usually to be seen making copies
of more or less merit of noted paintings, the copying of pictures being
apparently, as it is in other Italian cities, a considerable branch of
business in Rome. The casino of the Rospigliosi is visited principally
for the celebrated Aurora of Guido Reni, with which that of Guercino
cannot compare. It is a large work of art, which, like too many others,
is painted on a ceiling, at all times an awkward position in which to
be seen; and so awkward, too, for the artist, that to copy it always
seems a very wonderful effort of execution. In this case, however, with
much consideration for visitors’ necks, a mirror is placed on a table
below for the purpose of reflecting it at a convenient angle, and in
this way it can be studied. As the masterpiece of the great painter
(for Guido can hold his place alongside of Titian and Raphael), this
picture is a very favourite subject of copy; and while we were in the
room, there were three or four artists making copies of it varying in
size. I asked the price of one good–sized copy, the execution of which
was remarkably good, and the answer was, 600 francs—£24 nominally,
or about £21 calculating according to the then state of the exchange
(which, however, does not enter into the artist’s calculations) with
England. There was a good deal of work upon it, and it might possibly
be fairly worth the money; but, according to the Italian mode of
dealing, more may have been stated than would be taken, although it is
only fair to say that in any transactions I have myself had with the
Italian painters, this does not seem to be a practice which extends to
them.

At the Barberini Palace, the favourite subject of copy is what is
termed the head of Beatrice Cenci, by Guido Reni, although doubt has
been cast upon the statement that it is the portrait of her who was
executed upon being, rightly or wrongly, condemned as one of the
murderers of her father. Whoever it may represent, the eyes in this
lovely pale face, with a quiet, tender, inexpressible sorrow, fix
themselves on the spectator; but it is a melancholy and suggestively
sad picture, to which the white headgear very much adds. Why people
should desire to have copies of it, it is difficult to say. Its
attraction lies in its inimitable painting, which none of the copies
reproduce. Indeed, some of them are simply hideous or grotesque. Yet
copies, more or less bad, are seen everywhere; and not merely is the
head copied on canvas, but it is transferred to china, to wood, and
other material on which reproduction is necessarily coarse; as if the
subject in itself were attractive.

       *       *       *       *       *

Besides the palaces, there are regular galleries, such as the Academia
di San Luca, a collection of the old masters, although not very
extensive. Visitors also can obtain admittance to the studios of
artists and sculptors, who are always glad to see them. We did not do
much, however, in this way. We called on Mr. Glennie, an English artist
settled in Rome, to whom we had an introduction, and had the pleasure
of seeing several of his pictures, principally in water–colour.
Mr. Lawrence MacDonald, the venerable–looking old Scotchman, since
deceased, kindly with his son showed us over their studio, in which
were many fine pieces of sculpture; and Signor Rosetti was also good
enough to let us see his collection, which contained a large number of
finely conceived and executed sculptures in white marble, at prices
much below what is expected at home for similar works. A small fee (1
franc) is given at leaving to the workman who attends or opens the door.

       *       *       *       *       *

We heard that the Royal Palace (Quirinal) could be seen, and
accordingly visited it. After inscribing our names in a visitors’
book, we were shown round the rooms by an attendant. The palace is
on the Quirinal Hill, and is one of several which the King of Italy
maintains; some of which, I doubt not, he would gladly dispense with,
as adding unnecessarily to the cost of his establishment. It formerly
belonged to the Popes, and the room was shown us in which the cardinals
used to sit in conclave for the election of the Pope, which, when
completed, was announced from a balcony to the people congregated
outside. There are several spacious apartments in the building, adorned
by some interesting paintings and sculptures. We were taken through
the audience and other public _salons_, including the ballroom, which
is decorated in a peculiar manner, especially by mirrors, on which
appropriate figures have been depicted. The ceiling is painted to
represent dancers in the air, and the floor is of polished wood. Some
of the rooms are tapestried. A franc to the attendant, and a half–franc
to the porter who had charge of our umbrellas, was all that was
expected.

       *       *       *       *       *

The grounds of some of the villas about Rome are also opened to the
public; but they are not kept with the neatness and tidiness which
characterize gentlemen’s grounds at home. The most important or most
extensive is probably the Villa Borghese. The gate of entrance to this
great park, laid out in a way which is peculiarly Italian, is just
outside the Porta del Popolo. The grounds are open daily, except on
Mondays, and it is a favourite resort for all classes in the afternoon.
After a long drive through them we reached the Casino, a building
of many rooms, on two floors, devoted to a very large collection
of sculptures, which well merits several visits. The Roman ladies,
like other Italians, are very fond of driving about in style, with
coachman and footman on the box; and a good part of their afternoon
appears to be spent in these grounds and on the Pincian Hill, which
adjoins, and in the gardens of which a band of music plays in the
afternoons, attracting, as the only public garden—and it is of small
dimensions—which the Romans seem to have, a fashionable crowd. The
Pincian gardens are very prettily laid out, and there are excellent
views of Rome from this height (one of the two highest of the hills of
Rome), especially looking towards St. Peter’s. A splendid survey of the
city is also obtained from the hill on which San Pietro in Montorio
stands, being to the south–west of St. Peter’s, and therefore facing
the Pincian Hill. From both points, as well as from others in Rome, the
eye takes in the prospect of the Campagna, and of the mountains beyond;
among which nestle several villages by name well known, such as Albano,
Frascati, and Tivoli.

       *       *       *       *       *

To see the last mentioned, together with a little of the Campagna,
we devoted a day. For this purpose we hired a carriage, the charge
for which was 35 francs. Bædeker says it is 25 francs; one of those
instances which show that implicit reliance cannot always be placed on
guidebook figures, although it is quite possible that a person resident
in Rome, and acquainted with the ways and language, might bargain for
the lesser sum.

There had been some wet weather, and the morning on which we were
to start was overcast; but our coachman was confident that the day
would be fine, as indeed it proved, and we left at half–past seven—a
necessarily early hour, so as both to afford time for the trip and
to obtain the cool of the day for the drive. Although the excursion
was very enjoyable, a great part of the road lay through the flat,
uninteresting Campagna, relieved by here and there a few houses, by an
old robber’s castle, and by other ruins. It is melancholy to observe
these extensive plains now so unhealthy, formerly so salubrious and
fertile; now apparently all but uninhabited, but in the days of Rome’s
glory so full of life. Hardly a tree is to be seen, and one could wish
very much that there was an extensive planting of the Eucalyptus tree,
which, if it would thrive, might probably contribute to the restoration
of the land to a healthy condition, or to some extent neutralize the
malaria, believed to arise from the destruction of the villas and
gardens and groves with which it was formerly covered, and from the
festering of the ruins below ground. It is said that the natives, who
probably get to a certain extent inured to residence in a locality
so unhealthy, object to plantation; and perhaps the climate might in
winter be too severe for a tree which is easily blighted by the frost.
Other and hardier trees may, however, be equally well adapted for the
purpose, and as the whole subject has been and is under consideration
of the authorities, perhaps we may soon hope to see better things.
Indeed, I should imagine that the Campagna has already been improved
by drainage or otherwise; at all events, if haze be a symptom of the
unhealthiness, we did not observe much haze hanging over the fields.
The way was enlivened by occasionally passing regiments of Italian
soldiers, here as elsewhere engaged closely at drill, no doubt in
preparation for the possibility of being called upon to engage on
one side or the other (for the side was a matter uncertain) in the
war which had then recently been commenced, or at least declared,
between Russia and Turkey, and into which there seemed the lamentable
possibility of the other European nations being drawn. These little
Italian soldiers were clad as usual in that compound of warm and light
clothing which is suitable for a climate where one part of the day is
cold and another hot. In fact, it is very curious, in a country with
which one associates so much of sun and heat, to see how universally
the Italian men, at all events in spring–time, go about with heavy
thick cloth greatcoats or cloaks, sometimes half on, dangling from the
shoulder, but ready to be wrapped about them when the cold descends.
We also occasionally passed one of those picturesquely–dressed mounted
shepherds which are seen in pictures; more frequently we overtook some
of the country carts, drawn by the strong and patient buffaloes, so
common in Italy, but which strike a native of Britain as singularly
primitive.

About half–way to Tivoli, which is sixteen miles from Rome, we
approached the Lago di Tartari and a sulphurous stream which issues
from it and flows under the road, scenting the air for some distance
around. As we drew near to the mountains, which are all along in sight,
the country improved; and diverging by a road to the right, we arrived
at Hadrian’s Villa, the admission to which is by ticket, 1 franc each.
This is the ruin of an extraordinary country residence, built by the
Emperor Hadrian on a most magnificent and extensive scale. It contained
a theatre, a hippodrome, baths, temples, and every description of
edifice in use in the time of the Romans, and that on a grand plan, and
adorned with marble and sculptures, some of which have been recovered
from the ruins—a walk among which gives, though imperfectly, a
wonderful idea of the extraordinary splendour and opulence of the Roman
emperors.

Returning to the main road, and slowly proceeding up a long, steep
ascent, the town or village of Tivoli was reached. It stands high,
and the ruins of two temples are situated close upon the famous
waterfalls. Visitors here stop at the little Sibylla Hotel, usually
bringing their lunch with them, as we did, and a table is spread under
the temple of the Sibyl, on a platform which commands views towards
the falls and mountains. For the accommodation so afforded we were
charged 4 francs, and we enjoyed their Frascati wine. When we rose to
make the usual round, we were besieged by loitering guides and idle
people offering to take us to the falls. Having hired a donkey for my
wife, I told the rest we had no need for them. But they would take no
refusal; and although informed decidedly they were not wanted, two men
with a chaise _à porteur_ persistently followed us all the way down,
asking to be engaged, and diminishing their demands as we descended
and the prospect of employment became more and more hopeless. We were
also annoyed by all sorts of begging and methods of asking money; one
respectable–looking woman, who had a child suspended in a peculiar sort
of go–cart, which, as a curiosity, we were looking at, was not ashamed
to ask for some _soldi_ in respect of the ‘bambino;’ in fact, nobody
there, or elsewhere in Italy, seems ashamed to beg.

The falls were not so grand as we had expected to find them, although
there is one thundering cascade. We had intended going to see the Villa
d’Este, but a lady who had been there before dissuaded us, as not worth
seeing, though I understand the grounds are; and as it would have taken
time, and we were anxious to be home early, for it is not good to be
out in the Campagna after dusk, we left in the afternoon in spite of
the protestations of the coachman, who for some unknown reason would
have detained us two hours longer, and got back to Rome about half–past
six, in time for dinner, and sufficiently late at that season to be
out. Outside the walls we stopped at the Church of San Lorenzo fuori
le mura, and entered it. Its old pillars, pavement, and mosaics, its
pulpit and its peculiar construction, make it remarkable, and well
worthy of a visit. On returning to the carriage, one of the ladies
missed a cloak, which in all likelihood had been adroitly abstracted
by a loitering beggar, of whom there were several at the gate of the
church.

       *       *       *       *       *

In any mention of a visit to Rome, one can scarcely omit some notice
of the Roman shops. I suppose that no visitor to Rome leaves without
making purchases of one description or another, or of all. Apparently,
the Americans go in more largely than others for purchases of all
kinds, and one reason for that may possibly be the fear their visit to
Italy may never be repeated. One lady, in the house in which we were,
had bought so many things of divers sorts that she required to get
seven boxes made to hold them. They comprised marble busts, copies of
paintings, bronzes, photographs, and I know not what besides. All these
can be bought at prices not only greatly less than in America, where
everything is dear, but also much less than in Great Britain, if indeed
they can be had out of Italy; but to the price the purchaser requires
in his calculations to add the cost of carriage and import duty (where
exigible), and to take into view the risk of transit.

There are many photograph shops in Rome, and at most of them one can
purchase cheaply all descriptions. They are often filled with people
selecting examples, chiefly of buildings and pictures. It is needful
to know where to go, but this is soon learned, either by experience or
by recommendation of fellow photograph–hunters. I have seen the same
photographs, and equally good, sold at one shop at half the price they
were sold at another. The cheaper shops are therefore crowded, while
the others (in which, however, some large and good photographs claiming
to be high–class are sold) enjoy their _otium cum dignitate_. Some
of the photographs exhibited in the windows—as, for example, of St.
Peter’s and the Colosseum—are of great size, requiring to be printed on
two or three large sheets.

Another description of shop, the most numerous of all, is that for the
sale of Roman, mosaic, and other species of jewellery. The windows
of these jewellers’ shops are filled with very elegant specimens of
mosaic work, in the form of brooches, bracelets, ear–drops, shawl–pins,
etc., composed of minute coloured stones put together in all sorts of
devices, sometimes in miniature copies of well–known pictures. The
execution is marvellous.[36] The prices are moderate, but one requires
to keep in mind, in some cases, the Italian method of demanding a
larger price than will be taken. Even in shops professedly dealing on
the principle of fixed prices, the shopkeepers are not insusceptible
of a diminution, at least upon goods of a high price, although an
offer of a lower price should be made only when it seems likely to be
accepted. The Italians’ idea of selling in general apparently is, that
if they can make a profit, however small, rather to sell than lose the
chance. The system of asking a long price, to be met with an equally
low offer, and by gradual approximations to come to terms, is a mode of
transacting extremely repugnant to British habits, but it is sometimes
encountered. I have heard of the same article being offered to an
English person at one price, and sold to a native at little more than
half. At the same time, it is only right to say that this was not in
Rome, where, I think, on the whole, prices seem to be fair and fixed.

Ladies find in the pretty silk Roman sashes and ribbons, woven, I
believe, by girls on antiquated small looms in the shops where they are
sold, another species of attraction.

Other shops, again, are devoted to the sale of bronze and marble
copies, on a small scale, of statues, heads, and ruins, particularly
columns in the Forum and elsewhere; and some have small alabaster or
Roman marble copies of sculptures, though for such articles Florence
is the greater mart. Other shops sell copies of celebrated paintings.
The visitor, therefore, has very little difficulty, if possessed of
time, inclination, and money, in making a good collection to take home
of objects of _virtu_, or, at least, of what will give a pleasing
recollection of what one has seen in Old Rome.

       *       *       *       *       *

But what one sees in Rome can only give the faintest idea of what it
was when mistress of the world. In place of being confined to the
comparatively circumscribed limits of the walls, a space which at
present it only partially covers, the city, besides being composed of
high, many–storied houses, like those in the Old Town of Edinburgh,
extended for miles over the Campagna, and that perhaps very densely.
Instead of a population now of scarcely a quarter of a million, the
population then is thought to have greatly exceeded that of London
at the present day. Indeed, some have not hesitated to state it at
as high a figure as 14,000,000, while others, more moderate in their
calculations, have placed it at from 4,000,000 to 6,000,000. But
whatever it may have been (for this is a _questio vexata_), it was
many times what it has now become. Then consider the magnificent
multiplicity of its buildings and decorations. For, besides 700
temples[37] and other structures of whose number no record perhaps
exists, there were in ancient Rome at one time, 31 theatres, 11
amphitheatres (and we have seen the scale upon which these erections
were constructed), 48 obelisks, 66 ivory statues, 82 equestrian
statues, 3785 bronze statues, 1352 fountains, 2091 prisons, 9025 baths,
17,097 palaces. Then keep in view that this was all during a period
when classic taste prevailed, and everything, as the remains now left
testify, was in the utmost perfection of art, and sometimes of the
most wonderful magnificence. Keep also in view that thousands of Roman
citizens were then of immense opulence, one evidence of which was
that they were possessed of crowds of slaves, some of them having as
many as 10,000 or even 20,000; and think what pomp and style must have
been kept up in the 17,000 palaces of Rome, surging out upon its 360
spacious streets and its countless minor _vias_, and one approaches
to an idea of the superb grandeur of the great city; in the presence
of which it does make us feel small to think, that while we lavish
millions on war, we cannot so much as, at the hundredth part of the
cost of one of our little wars, build and complete a single temple in
the perfection of the ancients, seeing we have the National Monument on
the Calton Hill, so bravely begun, in a condition calculated merely to
expose the indifference to high art with which the British nation is
afflicted. But we cannot be sorry for the fall of Rome, and only should
take warning from it, because its power was built up on military force,
and its riches were got, not by the successful prosecution of peaceful
pursuits, but by the conquest and plunder and the subjection of other
nations.

Nor can we any more deplore that modern Rome is now shorn of the
prestige it enjoyed while the Popes were once all–potent. Strangers
can no longer be gratified by the sight of priestly pageants and papal
shows. But let us be thankful that, as the Pope hides his head, the
civil power has risen; and now, in place of persecution, torture, and
death for those who would not bow the knee to a corrupted religion, the
Inquisition—that cruel, hateful instrument of religious intolerance and
priestly tyranny—is at an end, and every one can worship God within
the walls of Rome as his conscience dictates, none daring to make
him afraid. The only strange reflection[38] which arises is, that
while so many in England, where education prevails and people should
know better, are allowing themselves to be drawn back again into the
trammels of Rome, the people of Rome and of Italy, with all their
ignorance, are shaking off a yoke which neither they nor their fathers
were able to bear, and rejoicing to be free.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had been nine days in Rome, and before seeing it further, thought
it advisable to take a run to Naples, and rest in that locality, for
so much sight–seeing was fatiguing. During even this short time we
had done a great deal, and the break of going away operated, as it
were, as a first visit, preliminary to a further investigation upon
our second visit of what then became to us in a manner as familiar
old friends. Even in both our visits, made out of the common motive
of curiosity, and with no higher aims, we could only consider we had
examined things in a most superficial way, leaving besides a great deal
that was unexplored. It is often said that even a whole winter in Rome
is inadequate to do justice to its sights. In a single forenoon we have
been to as many as a dozen different places. We entered Rome with the
idea that it would be the first and only visit of a lifetime. We left
it with the feeling that we had only seen enough to make it more easy
for us to comprehend the subject at home, so that some years later we
might all return to investigate it together in greater detail, or with
more perfect acquaintance with what we had to see, to know, and to
think about. Alas! how little did we then anticipate that that future
day, to one of us at least, whose hopes were bright and whose enjoyment
of all was deep and thorough, would never come!



XIII.

_NAPLES, POMPEII, SORRENTO._


IT proved a very wet morning in Rome on the day we had settled to go
to Naples (for it can rain in Rome remarkably well); but we had taken
our rooms at a hotel in Naples, and were packed and ready to go, and
accordingly left, arriving at the station at half–past eight for the
train leaving at 9.20, and were not a bit too soon. The traveller has
to hang on for his turn to get his luggage weighed and to purchase his
railway tickets; and after these operations were accomplished, and
admission was at last accorded to the _salle–d’attente_ (for none,
according to the evil custom which keeps ladies hanging about on their
feet, can enter previously), we had but a few minutes to wait in that
apartment until the doors were opened and announcement made that
passengers might now hurry to the train.

       *       *       *       *       *

For a considerable part of the way the rain fell and heavy clouds hung
upon the mountains, so that little could be seen of the scenery in
the early part of the journey, which is the most interesting, as the
line commands in many parts historical ground. We passed the Alban and
Volscian Mountains; the town of Capua, where are interesting Roman
remains; Caserta, where there is an immense royal palace; and many
curious old towns resting upon the hills which the railway skirted. It
would have been well worth while to have stayed at Capua and Caserta
to have seen them, but it is difficult to arrange for doing so without
spending a night by the way, or continuing the journey by a night
train, because trains do not suit. This being the 26th of March,
vegetation was in a very backward state, the trees just beginning
to show symptoms of being about to throw out their buds, so that
everything looked somewhat dreary. At last we arrived in Naples, after
a seven hours’ ride, just in time to settle down before dinner.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following morning we took a cab to drive through and see the town,
and, looking to select a good one, I was beset by a host of cabmen,
all wanting to be engaged, even after I had engaged one, and told them
so positively. There is very little choice among them. The vehicles
are all equally shabby, and the drivers all equally dirty. Their fares
are very low, which may account for the disreputable appearance of the
men and cabs, which are as numerous as bees in a hive. The coachmen
will take any amount of trouble to get a hire. If, upon going to a
place, say the Museum, they be dismissed, they will hang about for
an hour, hoping to get the return fare. But driving is really the
only way by which one can see some parts of Naples. The town swarms
with people to an extent which, unless seen, can hardly be either
realized or credited. In England, every rod may maintain its man, but
in Naples, and even all about the Bay of Naples, it would seem as if
not merely every square yard, but almost every square foot maintained
its man, woman, or child. But how they all live, or even where they
all sleep, is a mystery. The main street, the Toledo, a mile long, is
so crowded, that one wonders how the carriages can possibly penetrate;
and the people are such notorious thieves and such adroit pickpockets,
that it is dangerous to attempt to walk on foot. Even in driving,
the passenger must be very careful, as a thief will think nothing of
abstracting loose articles, even in his very sight. At the railway
station the traveller should keep a sharp look–out that the very porter
who is taking his portmanteau to a carriage does not quietly run off
with it. Knowing these habits, we left the most of our luggage at Rome,
and only took with us what was indispensable, as every additional
package is in such a case an additional anxiety.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Bay of Naples is naturally the first point of attraction. One hears
so much of its transcendent beauty that expectation is highly raised. I
thought the accounts of it exaggerated; but then it was not summer, and
therefore we could not see it in perfection; while we had just recently
come from Mentone, where we had been living for months in sight of
lovely bays. The blue waters of the Mediterranean in brilliant sunshine
are always charming, and here they are enclosed in a very large bay—for
it is about twenty miles each way—with one long arm stretching away and
terminated by the island of Ischia, and the other long arm stretching
away and terminated by the island of Capri; the outlines of all being
picturesque, and all sides being dotted with villages. In the centre
of the landward side Vesuvius boldly rises (the eruptions from time
to time causing variations in its height, which, however, averages
about 4000 feet), with a stream of smoke, betokening its character,
constantly ascending from the summit as if from some colossal chimney;
while below, a line of houses stretches continuously from Naples,
probably fifteen miles, or perhaps even more, indicating how populous
is this part of Italy. In the distance, behind Naples and Vesuvius, a
range of the Apennines lies.

       *       *       *       *       *

Naples itself, the largest and most populous city in Italy, is, from
a little distance, picturesque, resting, somewhat like Genoa, on a
half–circle of sloping heights, with a broad margin to the shore, the
houses towards which are lofty, many being five and even six storeys
high. In the central and denser parts of the town they are even higher,
while in these portions the streets are mere lanes, 15 to 20 feet
wide, and irregular; and if they be not absolutely unsafe to visit,
must form a very labyrinth of perplexity to the stranger. In the newer
parts of the city the streets are spacious and elegant. Every here and
there, a jutting prominence or a bold height crowned with some peculiar
structure gives character to the scene. The Chiaja is a long strip of
land turned into a public garden or park lying in or towards the north
end of the town, and fronting the sea. A broad street, the Riviera di
Chiaja, flanks it, lined by the trees of the park on the one side, and
by hotels and other buildings on the other, and terminated at the north
end by Posilipo, a hill perforated by the famous grotto of that name,
or tunnel, I presume half natural and half excavated, which affords
an access to the other side. Up from the Chiaja, on a height, the
Castle of St. Elmo stands, the interior of which our limited time did
not afford us opportunity of seeing. Leaving the Chiaja by a handsome
drive which has been formed by the shore, we pass the Castel del Ovo,
which stands out into the sea, cresting a large rock or small island
connected with the land by a mole or breakwater. It is ugly and old,
but can scarcely, because it is so, be called picturesque, though at
least it is striking or prominent; and I suppose it does or can, with
other fortifications, offer some protection to the port; but it was,
and perhaps still is, used as a prison, and, in spite of sunshine, is
gloomy enough for that. From this point southward, commencing with the
broad Strada San Lucia, the harbour lies, in which there is a moderate
amount of shipping, but small as compared with that of Genoa. Life
abounds about this harbour and the adjoining quays, along which broad
streets run, filled with sellers of fish and other commodities, and
with crowds of pedestrians and carriages. The road turns up from S.
Lucia into the large open space called the Piazza del Plebiscito—one
side occupied by a handsome semicircular colonnade, and the other by
the royal palace, where the king was at the time of our visit residing,
two equestrian statues in the centre of the piazza contributing to
its adornment. The Toledo or High Street of Naples issues out of it.
Proceeding farther along the harbour, and at its extreme south, we come
to the Castel del Carmine, also forming a feature in the landscape, and
from it a road leads up to the railway station, which is just outside
the inhabited part of Naples. From the harbour, or any point which
commands a view, the town looks bright and picturesque, and in rather
striking contrast with its dirty population. Ascent of the lighthouse
for the sake of the view is recommended.

       *       *       *       *       *

The only church in Naples which we thought at all comparable to those
in Rome was the cathedral, which is a large and handsome building. One
of its side chapels is that of the famous St. Januarius, where the
blood and other relics of the martyr are preserved.

The hotels are situated principally on the line of buildings facing the
sea from the Chiaja southward to S. Lucia. But some new hotels have
been opened on the high ground near the Castle of St. Elmo, thought to
be a more healthy locality. This may or may not be, but one requires
to be careful as to where he lives in Naples. In fact, the natural air
of Naples must be extremely salubrious, to counteract, as it seems
to a large extent to do, the evil influences arising from so large a
population living upon so comparatively small a portion of the tideless
Mediterranean. Were it otherwise, fever would be constantly raging, and
Naples depopulated.

       *       *       *       *       *

We spent the forenoon of the following day in the Museum. This is an
immense collection of antiquities, principally from Pompeii, and is
well worthy of several visits, without which, in fact, it cannot be
properly studied. Illustrated catalogues can be procured, which are
no doubt useful, but are expensive. Our time would only allow of a
general examination. The Museum contains thousands of articles of great
interest, and very many which show to what a state of perfection art
had arrived at the time Pompeii was destroyed. The sculptures of all
descriptions and pictures are very numerous, and among many others
deserving of special note was the grand group called the Toro Farnese,
of masterly power. It is composed of five graceful and pleasing human
figures, besides the bull rampant and a dog, and other sculpture, and
if cut out of one block of marble, would seem to be a miracle of art.
Why it should have been removed from Rome to Naples I am not aware.
But the Museum at Naples is very spacious and extensive, and may have
afforded better accommodation than any place in Rome. Some of the
rooms are filled with articles of domestic use recovered from the
ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii; and, what is very curious, in one
room loaves of bread, grain of various sorts, dates, and other edibles
1800 years old are exhibited. Many of the curious frescoes found upon
the walls of Pompeii have been removed to the Museum and built bodily
into its walls. The colours of these frescoes are considerably faded,
but copying them seems to afford employment to a number of artists,
who, however, impart to their copies the supposed original brightness
of the pictures, and one seldom sees an original Pompeian fresco
possessing that vividness of colouring which representations of them
usually manifest. One room is fitted up as a reproduction of a Pompeian
bedroom, and gives a greater idea of luxurious comfort than one would
imagine possible from the appearance of the rooms, now in ruins, which
we afterwards saw in Pompeii itself.

       *       *       *       *       *

The afternoon is the time for seeing the Chiaja, for then all the
private carriages of Naples may be witnessed driving about; and on one
occasion we had the good fortune to pass the Princess Margherita, now
the Queen of Italy. Girls are on the watch to sell large and beautiful
bouquets of flowers at marvellously cheap prices. An aquarium has been
built near the centre of the Chiaja gardens, which we visited the
morning of the day following, before going to Castellamare. It is not
nearly so large as that at Brighton, but it is interesting enough.
It contained, _inter alia_, a good many octopi, which repulsive fish
is said to be sold and eaten in Naples, and, in all probability,
occasionally appears under some disguised name at the hotel dinners.

       *       *       *       *       *

Naples is a great place for the sale of photographs and articles of
bijouterie in lava, and of coral and tortoiseshell. At Mr. Sommer’s
Fine Art Establishment near the Chiaja, a large collection of beautiful
photographs of almost all places in Italy is to be found. These are
very moderate in price—the cheapest in Italy—as well as good, and in
number exceed five thousand. I laid in a good stock, and only wish I
had taken more. Any of them can be at once procured by reference to the
number they bear. They are best kept flat, but if rolling be preferred,
they should always be rolled up with the photograph side outwards.
Why it is that photographs of a size which cost a shilling at Naples
should be charged five shillings or six shillings, or even more, at
home, I don’t know. But the consequence is that people buy the Italian
photographs by the hundred, whereas at home, if they buy at all, it is
by the unit. Our dealers plainly miss the market by their high prices.
Mr. Sommer might do well to extend his operations to the towns of
France and to Switzerland, where photographs are expensive.

Among other shops we also visited Squadrilli’s, which is recommended in
Bædeker. Here we found a well–stocked store of articles in lava and
coral, but owing, I suppose, to the thieving which exists in Naples,
and from which, no doubt, they have sometimes suffered, we were rather
unpleasantly watched by three persons, a circumstance of which others
who had been there also complained. The articles, however, seemed to
be good, while the prices are fixed, though a discount of five per
cent, was allowed for cash. The gold used in Naples for bijouterie
is considered to be inferior to the standard quality of England,
and even of Rome, which professes to be, like England, of eighteen
carats. Squadrilli allowed that their gold was only fourteen carats,
and perhaps his estimate might not apply to all his articles. There
are many imitations, however, even of this inferior gold, and some
articles, possibly ‘job lots,’ are sold in Naples at astonishingly low
prices. The articles supposed to be of lava are, I believe, in reality
cut out of the limestone rocks of Somma, one of the peaks of Vesuvius.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were anxious to make our stay in Naples as short as possible, as so
much is heard of its insalubrity. After the general survey we had thus
made of it, we took train to Castellamare, the railway passing Mount
Vesuvius on the one side and the coast on the other, so that we were
in view of the bay nearly all the way. Castellamare is a convenient
halting–place for seeing Pompeii, which, however, may be visited from
Naples itself, either by hiring a carriage from Naples,—making a
pretty long drive, and, I believe, of little interest, the road being
a continuous street of houses,—or by taking the train as far as Torre
dell’ Annunciata, and a carriage thence to Pompeii, which is not two
miles off. Castellamare is one of those populous unclean towns which
lie upon the bay. Friends had said it was a remarkably nice place to
stop at, and the Hotel Quisisana, on the height above the town, is
a fairly comfortable one, commanding a splendid view of the bay, of
Vesuvius, and of Naples beyond. Perhaps we did not remain long enough
to acquire a knowledge of its beauties, but we were not taken with the
dirty town; while the garden of the hotel, which might have been laid
out to great advantage, and thus have helped to reconcile us to the
place, was no better than such Italian gardens usually are. I suppose
that Nature has been so lavish of her bounties when the sun shines,
that the Italians think it unnecessary to supplement her labours. Yet
I have sometimes thought that the time of waiters, who between meals
in foreign places have often little to do, might, not unprofitably
to the hotels, and with some advantage in health to themselves, be
occupied in trimming the hotel gardens. Our bedrooms looked towards
the bay, and therefore were, I presume, considered more choice; but
being a northern or north–western exposure, we found them extremely
cold at night. It was, however, intensely interesting to look across to
Vesuvius, which I had seen emitting a red light on our second evening
at Naples, without being aware, unfortunately, till afterwards that
this light was unusual, and that had I watched it for half an hour
longer I should have seen it become more intensely bright. People were
then in full expectation of an eruption, and even the very day had been
predicted, although the premonitory symptoms of streams drying up had
not appeared; but expectation was not gratified.

       *       *       *       *       *

We arranged the following morning to drive to Pompeii, which is about
three miles distant.

Pompeii on being approached seems like a huge mound, somewhat akin
in the distance to a fortified place. The excavated town itself is
not visible from the road. The visitor is deposited at the door of
what appears to be a sort of tavern or place of refreshment, through
which, threading one’s way among tables, entrance is had to the
excavations. We found the tavern filled with people taking an early
dinner, or rather breakfast, rendering the access by no means an
agreeable one. Here leaving with the _cameriere_ our wraps,—not without
some misgivings, fortunately not realized, that we should never see
them again,—we passed up a stair, and through a magazine for sale of
lava ornaments, etc., the prices asked for which, as usual in show
places, were exorbitantly and forbiddingly high. Outside the magazine
we paid two francs each for admission and for the assistance of a
guide (children being charged only a half–franc each), and procured
a little French–speaking guide in smart uniform and side arms, whom
we found very obliging and attentive. These guides are necessary,
and must be taken, though sometimes respectable people who have been
there before are allowed to go without them; perhaps not always with
advantage to the ruins, as it is a very common trick with people who
should know better, and who might not be expected to do such a thing,
to pocket stones which can be of no use whatever to themselves, but
the abstraction of which is detrimental to the place whence they are
taken. On one occasion in Italy, a lady of a party in which I was—who
acknowledged to being in the habit of bringing away a stone from every
place to which she had been—quietly pocketed a piece of marble lying
on the ground, when the custodier, who was keeping a sharp look–out,
went up to her and desired her to replace it. It was a numbered piece,
and he would, he said, be responsible for it to the authorities. The
practice of chipping stones from a building of note, or taking up loose
pieces, cannot be too severely reprehended, and ought sometimes to be
punished. The guides at Pompeii are not allowed to receive any gratuity
from the visitors, but they make a little by an accorded permission to
sell photographs of the ruins.

Passing through an old gateway, we were ushered into a museum, the
contents of which are not numerous, as the bulk of the articles found
is sent to the large Museum of Naples. It contains, however, some
things of great interest, particularly the casts of men and women
found in Pompeii who had perished in the great overthrow, and whose
bodies had been so curiously enveloped with the scoriæ as to form a
close–fitting, indurated mould, and a cast from it, when the dust
is blown out, reproduces every line of the body or of the clothing
of the suffocated person. Some of the casts so taken give a clear
representation of the form of the features; and I noticed that the
dress of the men seemed to be very similar to what is still worn by
those in the vicinity, particularly in the tight–fitting, wrought
woollen jacket covering the body. If I was right in this supposition,
it is another instance of the manner in which the people cling to
ancient habits and modes of dress.

We were then taken to the excavations which are being systematically
carried on, and our examination commenced with the forum, a large
open space, containing the remains of the pillars by which it was
surrounded. From these remains and the remains of other public
buildings, it is evident that Pompeii was a very elegantly adorned
city. It had temples, no less than nine being marked upon the plan,
but they are all in ruins; only fragments exist, the pillars and
superincumbent building having been almost everywhere thrown down.
In some of them, such as the temple of Venus and temple of Isis, a
few columns, with their entablature, stand, to indicate the beauty
of their construction. Besides temples there have been excavated two
theatres and a large amphitheatre, in excellent preservation, capable
of accommodating 20,000 persons, and nearly, in length and breadth, as
large as that at Nismes; also, as usual in Roman towns, baths, besides
other public buildings. But probably the greatest interest attaches to
the remains of the private dwellings. It is rarely that private houses
exhibit, after a lapse of nearly 2000 years, even in ruins, what they
were when in occupation. Here, however, the lava or scoriæ or dust of
Vesuvius by hermetical seal closed up these houses, in order that they
might be seen by the people of a long–distant age. Many of the houses
in Pompeii belonged to men of wealth, and they are all laid out, in the
better class at least, upon much the same plan, entering upon a square
court, open in the centre to the outer air, in the middle of which a
marble fountain played. The rooms were built around or beyond, the
principal or public rooms being to the back—a mode of design probably
suitable to the climate, at least in summer, and admitting, no doubt,
of great elegance of arrangement and design, and of which such houses
as those of Marcus Holconius, of the Faun, of Sallust, of the poet,
of Meleager, and of Cornelius Rufus afford examples,—all containing
beautiful fluted pillars and other decorations, sometimes in marble,
still standing, while the walls were tastefully decorated with that
peculiar description of painting well known as Pompeian. Some of the
houses appear to be only one storey high, but stairs indicate a second
storey, and it is even supposed that in some cases there may have been
a third. But they had no appearance to the street, while the streets
themselves are narrow, so much so that it is impossible to see how in
many of them even the smallest carriages could pass each other without
encroaching on the equally narrow footway or _trottoir_ (discovery of
the remains of it here revealing its use in ancient times); but the
large stones or slabs forming the street pavement are in some places
marked with a deep rut, indicating a good deal of carriage traffic.
The shops on the streets are small, and are sometimes built into the
dwellings, so that shop floors then were probably as remunerative as
they seem to be now with ourselves, although persons now in similar
rank of life in Great Britain would little like to allow a portion
of their mansions to be so occupied. As, however, the streets were
so confined, there could have been no view from the house itself
upon the front facing the street; yet, no doubt, from some windows
in the upper apartments behind there might be fine glimpses of the
bay and of Vesuvius, as well as of the surrounding country. At all
events, we obtained excellent views from the ruins, especially from
the walls. Vesuvius appears close at hand, and one feels astonished
at the foolhardiness of people building towns and houses so close
under the fiery mountain after the tremendous warnings received in the
destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum. We were shown at one place in
the ‘House of Diomede’ a long vault or cellar, in which the remains
were found of seventeen unfortunate persons who had taken refuge there
during the awful time when they knew not where to flee, and supposed
that the walls of the house would cover them from calamity. We could
not look upon such places without thinking what an appalling time it
must have been, and what heartrending agonies must then have been
endured. Notwithstanding all the elegance of the public portions of the
houses, and perhaps even of the private chambers, it seemed as if the
actual comfort of the inhabitants could not be great, and especially in
the matter of bedroom accommodation, for I imagine the sleeping–rooms
were of the smallest dimensions—mere closets, not such as people of the
present day in good circumstances would approve.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would, however, be impossible, in small compass, to give any
adequate idea of these houses or of their decorations. Books have
been written upon the subject, and an excellent recent account of
Pompeii, its history, buildings, and antiquities, containing nearly
300 illustrations, has been written by Dr. Thomas H. Dyer. Nothing,
indeed, but a visit to Pompeii itself can convey a sufficient idea of
the resuscitated city; but a study of Mr. Dyer’s book before going, as
well as after a visit, will help materially to an understanding of it.
Pompeii is a place of engrossing interest entirely unique, and in some
respects it offers, I think, more attractions to a visitor than any
other in Italy, and well merits more than one visit. The excavations
are still proceeding, and it will probably be many years before they
are completed, as there is still a large piece of ground, probably as
much again as has already been opened, on which to operate.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having seen Pompeii, we did not care to stay longer at Castellamare,
and next day, taking a carriage with three horses, the bells jingling
cheerily all the way, drove to Sorrento. The drive occupied an hour
and a half, and is considered to be one of the finest to be had in
Italy. The road borders the bay, and passes through several large
Italian villages most picturesquely situated, and across a deep ravine,
evidently the result of an earthquake, by a beautiful bridge. Sorrento
is a long town, and the road through its suburbs is shut in by lofty
and most objectionable garden walls. As we drove down the road towards
it, from the height to the eastward the place looked very charming,
surrounded by hills on every side except the north, which is open to
the sea. Turning down a long narrow lane, we arrived at the Tramontano
Hotel (kept by an Irish landlady, an active and most obliging woman),
where everything is remarkably comfortable, and the accommodation is
ample. It is situated on classic ground, Tasso having resided in a
house which, or its site, is now part of the hotel. A garden, where,
no doubt, Tasso often meditated, encloses the hotel upon the south,
while the north windows and terraces command magnificent views of the
bay, of the islands, of Naples lying opposite, and of Vesuvius, whose
smoke, always ascending, is an excellent indicator of the direction of
the wind. The garden extends away to the eastward, where a dependence
or additional house is kept for the accommodation of the guests. A
large public room, with windows to the bay, was being added to the
main house, so that now both _salon_ and _salle–à–manger_ are large
rooms. Having had experience of the cold of northerly chambers at
Castellamare, we chose cheerful rooms on the south side overlooking
the hotel yard, with all its enlivening bustle, and the garden and
green hills behind.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sorrento lies upon a platform or broad level space of land, the seaward
side being high perpendicular cliffs, so that one looks sheer down from
the hotel windows on the north to the water far below, which is reached
from the hotel by a winding tunnel cut into the rock. It is placed,
like Mentone, under the guard of a semicircle of hills, although these
are both nearer and much lower than those at Mentone; but as the town
faces the north, instead of the south as at Mentone, it is rather a
summer than a winter residence. We had it very cold there during the
night, but in the glowing mid–day sun it was charming to look out
upon the water and land, and see everything bathed in an atmosphere
of light, while vegetation was now beginning to advance, lending an
additional charm to the landscape. We were not, however, altogether
without rain. One night was particularly stormy and wet.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are excursions from Sorrento upon the hills which can be
accomplished by aid of donkeys, and it is also possible to cross over
the hills to Amalfi, though this was not reckoned altogether safe
from bandits. Boats can be had for boating, but the main excursions
are by steamboat to Capri, and driving to Massa, a picturesque town a
few miles westward; the road to it by the coast being a continuation
of that from Castellamare, and affording lovely views at every turn.
The excursion to Capri is made by steamboat, and every fine morning
two rival steamers (a paddle and a screw boat) from Naples approached
Sorrento to take excursionists to Capri and its blue grotto. In
addition to the fare there and back of 5 francs, innumerable other
little charges for boats, etc. make the expense up to 8 francs each.
When the sea is stormy, the boats do not go, as it is impossible to
enter the grotto when there is the least swell upon the water. This is
annoying to unlucky persons who are left on the island, as it sometimes
happens in consequence that the boats may not leave Naples for weeks
together. I met on board the steamer two American friends who had come
from Naples, were to sleep a night at Capri and return the next day,
having taken their passage for the day following in a steamer for
Genoa. The next day, however, proved stormy, and the steamboats did
not make their appearance for several days afterwards, so that our
friends must have been kept prisoners on the island and lost their
passage besides. We had, however, a very beautiful day for the trip,
the steamboat taking about two hours to reach Capri from Sorrento, and
it was most enjoyable. The views from the deck are enchanting. When we
arrived off the grotto, the vessel was surrounded by a multitude of
little boats; and as three persons only are allowed to each, it took a
long time for all the visitors to get off. The sea where the steamer
stopped was of a most lovely blue colour, perhaps due to some great
local saltness of the ocean. On approaching the entrance to the grotto,
all were desired to lie down on the bottom of the boat, otherwise, by
catching the crest of a wave, we might have broken our heads against
the rocks of the entrance, which is very low,—although it might, one
would think, be enlarged,—while the boatmen carefully pushed the boat
inside. Once we were in, however, there was space enough for several
boats to paddle about. We found everything bathed in the blue light of
the sea reflected on the walls of the cavern. It is this which gives
the name to the grotto. The rocks themselves are just ordinary colour,
and do not, as might from the name be supposed, consist, like those of
the blue John Cavern of Derbyshire, of actual blue spar.

[Illustration: SORRENTO FROM THE WEST.]

When all had seen the grotto, the steamboats took us to the town of
Capri, which, with another on the hill, is picturesque. There are good
hotels near the landing–place. A long ascent leads to the high town,
near which the palace of Tiberius once stood. From the height I had
a view of the southern coast of Italy; but the day was hot, and the
atmosphere therefore hazy, so that we could not see far. We returned to
Sorrento in the afternoon.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sorrento is a great place—in fact, the chief place—for the manufacture
of articles of inlaid wood. It is the industry of the town, and
everywhere we found workshops for its manufacture, having attached
to them shops for its sale, although, I presume, the larger part of
the manufacture is for export or transmission elsewhere. As may be
supposed, there is considerable diversity of skill among the workmen,
and many articles exhibit inferiority; but I soon found out in which
shops the best workmanship prevailed, and in particular considered
the articles manufactured by M. Grandville were both well finished
and wrought in good taste. Garguilo also, who has a more imposing
establishment, had some very fine specimens of work. Every visitor buys
more or less, principally, doubtless, to take home as gifts to friends,
and I did not escape the contagion. Some of the articles are extremely
beautiful; and one I secured, which seemed to be one of the finest
examples, was so delicately inlaid that at first sight it seemed as if
it were a painting on the wood. I saw, however, the process by which
the inlaying is effected, which satisfied me with the reality of the
inlaying. A picture is drawn on paper, and little pieces, corresponding
in colour to the pattern, are cut out of larger coloured pieces with
an extremely slender steel saw—almost a thread for fineness. These are
glued down upon the pattern so closely that the joinings are invisible,
and it is in the comparative skill with which this nice operation is
conducted I presume the difference of quality and effect is mainly
found. In purchasing these articles, however, one has not to lose
sight of the fact that the transaction is taking place in the South
of Italy, and sometimes a considerably higher price is asked than the
seller is prepared to take. I had the specimens purchased put in a
box, carefully packed, to send from Naples home by sea, and found on
entering Naples that _octroi_ duty upon it was exacted, and this not
according to value, but to weight. The wood shops are among the best in
Sorrento, but I was struck with the marvellous likeness there was, in
size at least, in the common small shops of Sorrento to what had been
shops in Pompeii.

       *       *       *       *       *

We led a quiet life very pleasantly among friends and acquaintances at
the hotel in Sorrento for about a fortnight, glad of rest after so much
previous sight–seeing; but the hotel was always full, and the constant
jingling of horses’ bells, denoting the arrival or departure of
carriages, kept it lively, while, among other diversions, we witnessed
the Tarantala dancing entertainment, to which I have elsewhere alluded
(p. 72). We had at first thought of going to Cava, with a view to
taking trips thence to Amalfi and Pæstum; but preferring rest, left
that, like many other excursions, to another opportunity, which might
never come. We returned to Naples on 11th April, having a glorious day
for the return drive to Castellamare. The trees were only budding, so
that we did not see things in perfection. As we drove out of the hotel
yard, a man, neither clothed in plush and fine linen nor recently
washed, jumped up and sat on the luggage behind, an undesirable–looking
and unengaged lackey. The driver explained it was to guard the luggage,
which sometimes, I believe, is, by the nimble–fingered inhabitants of
the bay, quietly abstracted if not well roped. It was only, however, a
genteel method of begging for 30 centimes, with which at Castellamare
he was well satisfied. The beggars of Sorrento are certainly
industrious in their calling. I stayed a few minutes at one place to
make a little sketch, and was immediately surrounded by half–a–dozen
women, and at least as many children, all wanting copper. One regular
beggar, a man, old to appearance, who was constantly sauntering about,
stick in hand, amused me much. His address was, as you approached him,
arrestively and decisively, ‘Signor!’ You proceeded a yard farther, and
it was more decisively, or rather imperatively, ‘Signor!’ You passed
him, and it was ‘Signor! Signor!’ (weepingly) ‘povero vecc. he he per
amor di Dio,’ a phrase generally employed by the Italian beggars. It
is, however, but fair to add, that begging in Italy is not nearly so
bad as it once was, for the authorities are setting their face against
it. Still, in some places, it is a great annoyance that one cannot walk
along the streets of a small town like Sorrento without being assailed
by the same everlasting beggar, giving to whom only encourages to ask
again.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were anxious upon our return to Naples to have ascended Vesuvius,
at least as far as the Observatory, but unfortunately a heavy cloud
hung over the mountain, and reluctantly we had to give it up. Instead,
we took a drive to Puteoli, or, as it is now called, Pozzuoli, about
two hours distant. Our way lay through the grotto of Posilipo, which
is lighted up with gas, and is about a third of a mile long, about 21
feet wide, and varies in height from 70 to 25 feet; thence along an
uninteresting road till again we reached the sea, when the islands
and Puteoli looked very picturesque. One could hardly imagine from
its appearance that it was formerly a great Roman port; but it has
been subjected to many changes, and bears evidence of the forces
below agitating the ground, by which some parts have been alternately
submerged and upheaved, and the recurrence of such events would be
sufficient of themselves to account for its desertion. Here we drove
over the southern termination of the Appian Way, paved with the large
old Roman stones; and our coachman pointed out the part of the old
Roman pier (now in fragments, like a row of giant stepping–stones
lifting their heads above water) at which he alleged the Apostle
Paul had landed. There are some ruined temples in Puteoli and its
neighbourhood, and the ruins of a large amphitheatre, which the guide
said had held 45,000, but, as is more credibly stated by others, 25,000
spectators, for it is not so large or so imposing as that at Nismes,
while the measurements are considerably less,—Nismes exceeding it in
length by 75 feet, and in breadth by 120 feet. Chambers underneath were
discovered in 1838, and are very interesting. They contained dens for
the confinement of the wild beasts, and rooms where the gladiators were
trained to fight. We had, previous to entering Puteoli, taken a side
road to Solfatara. This is a scarcely extinct crater, supposed to have
a direct communication underground with Vesuvius, twelve miles distant.
However, there has been no eruption since 1198, when it sent forth a
current of lava. A man who appeared as guide threw a heavy stone upon
the probably thin crust of sulphurous matter constituting the ground
over which we were treading; the reverberation from the fall indicated
that it was hollow below, and in all likelihood a slender protection
from a fiery furnace which it might not be safe to expose to the air
and light of day. And as Solfatara is quiescent when Vesuvius is
active, and active when Vesuvius is quiescent, which it then was, the
thought, as we were intruding upon the domains of these angry forces of
nature, that some sudden impulse might burst the earthy covering and
blow us all up into the air, like Paul Pry peering about the steamboat
when the boiler burst, was not comfortable. The guide took us to a hole
from which sulphurous fumes were issuing, and for a few coppers entered
it at some risk of suffocation, and by means of a long stick pulled
out some pieces of hot sulphur from the boiling natural caldron, which
we carried off as souvenirs of our visit to a place which some day may
become the scene of a terrible disaster.

Taking a different route on returning, we passed the supposed tomb
of Virgil; and crossing over the hill, came again in sight at some
distance of Naples, and the continuous stretch of houses along the
coast to the southward. Altogether it was a very interesting drive. Had
we had time for it, we should have gone farther, as far as to Baiæ,
which is a few miles beyond Puteoli.

       *       *       *       *       *

As illustrative of the method of selling and clutching at a profit,
however small, I may here mention that, going out with a friend from
the hotel, we were waylaid by boys offering walking–sticks for sale.
The first boy asked 2 francs for a cane, my friend offered 1 franc,
and it was at once taken. Thereupon another with much better canes
came up. My friend picked out five of the best, for which he was asked
15 francs, and they were really very cheap at the money. He offered
5 francs and then 6, and to throw in the stick he had just bought of
the other boy. The offer was at once closed with, so that he got for 7
francs five beautiful canes, which, judging from prices asked in the
shops, were worth 20 francs at least.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had still a good deal to see in Naples; but, not feeling very well,
we were anxious to leave a place the reputation of which for salubrity
is by no means assuring, and departed for Rome by a morning train,
leaving at 7 o’clock and arriving before 2 P.M.



XIV.

_FLORENCE, BOLOGNA._


FLORENCE.

WE stayed in Rome until 27th April, when we left for Florence. We
had intended going round by the attractive town of Perugia, but the
morning of the 26th was wet, and, delaying our departure for a day,
we gave up Perugia, partly because to have gone upon a Friday would
have involved spending a Sunday there. The latter part of our journey
was interesting. On arriving at the outskirts of the town the railway
circumnavigates it, so that we had an opportunity from the very first
of seeing the cathedral dome and campanile, and the other towers and
spires of Florence, which lies beautifully situated in a luxuriantly
verdant valley, enclosed by the Apennines and other hills, and
intersected by the river Arno, which, seeing for the first time in the
soft moonlight in the course of the evening, looked so lovely.

The Lung’ Arno, or bank of the river, where most of the principal
hotels are placed, is considered the best situation, at least for
winter residence. Some of the hotels are unpleasantly near a waterfall
or wear stretching across the river, the incessant din of which is
troublesome at night. We spent a few nights at one of the hotels there,
and afterwards a fortnight at the Pension Molini Barbensi[39], on
the left bank of the river, where we found pleasant society and some
former travelling acquaintances. The house is a good one, and the rooms
are large, but a very little expenditure on sanitary arrangements
would improve it as a residence. Living seems not to be expensive at
Florence, and lodgings can be procured at a moderate rate.

       *       *       *       *       *

Florence lies upon the same river as Pisa, but I suppose fifty or sixty
miles farther up, and the town bears some resemblance to it, but is
far more picturesque and far more lively and populous. In fact, Pisa
is quite a dull, quiet, dead–alive town beside it. The population of
Florence, at present about 170,000, is four times as great as that of
Pisa, and it has been a royal town as well as a provincial capital.
The river is crossed by six bridges (three, or rather four of them, of
very old date) connecting the north and south portions of the city,
which, however, lies mainly upon the north shore. Of these bridges
(all strongly buttressed against the force of the river, which no
doubt occasionally descends in floods with great power), the Ponte
Vecchio is peculiar and picturesque, and a remnant of old times, being
covered on each side with houses, and on one side, on the top floor,
by the long gallery which connects the Uffizi and Pitti Palaces. These
houses on the bridge are very curious. Next the street they present
to view on both sides small booths or stalls, principally occupied
by goldsmiths or jewellers, which very likely much resemble what the
shops of Old London were, but at the present day do not, for jewellers’
wares, inspire confidence. On the other or river sides, all manner of
chambers in or on the wall project, jut out, and overhang the river,
very perilous to behold, and suggestive of _oubliettes_ through which
murdered travellers on the bridge might be quietly dropped into the
river below, but conferring a quaintness of appearance precious in the
sight of the artist. Equally striking in effect is an adjoining range
of buildings on the left bank—also flanking the river, and with their
projecting chambers overhanging it. In the centre of the bridge large
arched openings enable the passer–by to look up and down the river, and
take in the prospect beyond.

[Illustration: PONTE VECCHIO,—FLORENCE.]

Nearly all along both sides of the Arno (protected by parapet walls)
a wide street runs, and the buildings lining it are some of them
stately and handsome, others are old or massive or peculiar, while the
line is diversified here and there by a spire or a curious tower. The
remarkable lofty old tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, and the dome and
campanile of the cathedral,—all such notable objects in the pictures
of Florence,—are prominent from almost every part, but especially from
the south side of the river. There are, however, certain points of view
from which Florence can be commanded. One of these is the terrace of
the church of San Miniato, which stands upon a hill to the south–east,
and is reached by a very delightful winding road bordered by villas,
which were all at the time of our visit looking very charming in
their new drapery of spring foliage. The church is an old one, finely
decorated with marble and mosaics and marble pillars, and possessing
a large crypt below. In itself it is well worth seeing, but it is
principally visited for the sake of the prospect. Looking down from the
terrace in front, Florence, with dome and towers, is seen lying away
below very compactly in the centre of a long, large, flat plain, cut in
two by the river, and surrounded by hills. It has here a fresher and
cleaner look than most Italian towns. Immediately below San Miniato the
piazza named after Michael Angelo lies, adorned in the centre by that
artist’s famous colossal statue of David. The smart terraces of this
nicely laid–out piazza command views similar to those from San Miniato,
but from a lower elevation. A different winding road, as pleasant as
the other, conducts down to the town.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another fine drive is to the very ancient town of Fiesole, which
stands on a hill upon the north side, and is about three miles out of
town. There is here a curious old church or cathedral, with pillars
said to be of the first century. Ascending a hill a little higher,
and probably 1000 feet above the sea, the view from the top is more
commanding than that of San Miniato, and one sees the Arno winding its
way for a long distance down the valley, and the Carrara Mountains in
the distance. These and other drives about the suburbs of Florence give
the impression of a very charming place for a spring residence; but
Florence is hot in summer and often very cold in winter time, fierce
winds blowing from the hills, which I suppose are frequently covered
with snow. The older portions of the city are similar to most Italian
towns, full of narrow, tortuous streets; but adjoining the river and in
the newer portions, and in the outskirts, the streets are regular and
comparatively wide, with piazzas or open spaces in several parts. There
are wide, handsome boulevards or _viales_ encircling the city. In the
Piazza Cavour there is a graceful triumphal arch akin to that in the
Tuileries of Paris. At the west end, and adjoining the Arno, a large
public park extends, called the Cascine, in which are long avenues
bordered by trees, affording room for delightful drives and walks, one
portion being also laid out as a racecourse. In the quarter south of
the Arno the Boboli Gardens attached to the Royal Pitti Palace are also
extensive, but open to the public only on Sundays and Thursdays.

       *       *       *       *       *

Florence, historically, is a place of great interest, and is associated
with many great names. It is the birthplace of, among others, Dante,
Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Galileo, Michael Angelo Buonarotti, Cimabue,
Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Carlo Dolci, and others eminent in
art. The houses of some of these celebrities are pointed out.

I can imagine that to those who spend a winter in Florence it must be
exceedingly interesting to study the history of the place, and read on
the spot such entertaining books as the remarkable life of that most
remarkable man, Benvenuto Cellini, giving, as it does, such an insight
into Italian life in the sixteenth century. Machiavelli, who died in
1527, brings his history down only to the year 1492; but after reading
Trollope’s history, in four vols., Napier’s in six (leaving off at the
year 1824) will afford for a whole winter a sufficiently tough _pièce
de résistance_, the perusal whereof one’s physician would no doubt
recommend should be diversified occasionally by a chapter in Mrs.
Oliphant’s _Makers of Florence_, or by George Eliot’s _Romola_, which
it is to be hoped was not drawn from the life.

       *       *       *       *       *

Florence, although in itself a more desirable place of residence than
Rome, has no Roman ruins. It possesses, however, very many objects of
great interest. There are within it about ninety churches, not a few of
which are attractive.

The cathedral, commenced about six hundred years ago, and in its façade
not yet finished, is immense, being 556 feet long by 342 feet wide. The
spirit in which it was originated was lofty, the Florentine Republic
desiring ‘that an edifice should be constructed so magnificent in its
height and beauty that it shall surpass everything of the kind produced
in the time of their greatest power by the Greeks and Romans.’ It is,
at least in external covering, composed of marble—white, black, and
green—with many sculptures and carvings in the marble, especially about
the doorways. The stones are laid on a species of panelling consisting
of upright parallelograms broken by large, formal, circular openings.
Though it be somewhat stiff in pattern, and may be objected to as
piebald, a certain richness of effect is produced. But the interior
is not correspondent with the exterior; it is vast, but too bare and
empty, and dark and dingy—perhaps, therefore, the more sublime! Looking
up from below into the magnificent dome, it seems an enormous height
to the lantern; as it no doubt is, being 352 feet—so high, in fact,
that the dome itself is higher than that of St. Peter’s, although the
highest pinnacle is not. In design and general effect, as a whole, the
cathedral will not compare with the great temple of Rome. The campanile
or bell tower which adjoins, but is separated from it, is of marvellous
beauty, and stands nearly 300 feet high. It is a perpendicular square
tower, built of every kind of coloured marble, adorned by statuary and
covered with rich alto–relievos (of which photographs can be procured);
also by the graceful windows, very charmingly decorated in a species
of suitable tracery. There is a completeness about this tower, even
though it lacks the spire with which Giotto intended it to be crowned,
combined with an exuberant affluence of decoration, which renders it a
delightful object of contemplation, or rather, I should say, a choice
object of study.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the side of the piazza opposite to the west front the baptistery
stands, an octagonal building 94 feet in diameter, and in one of the
entrances the celebrated bronze gates are placed. We often availed
ourselves of opportunities to examine these beautiful embodiments in
bronze of Scripture subjects. Being exposed to the street, they are
laden with dust, which to a certain extent reduces their apparent
sharpness. Over this entrance gate there is a representation of the
baptism of Jesus in three sculptured figures—our Lord, John the
Baptist, and an attendant angel. Inside the baptistery, besides its
oriental granite columns and its mosaics, there is nothing very
remarkable.

On the south side of the cathedral, in the piazza, we found the little
church of the Misericordia, belonging to that peculiar body of monks
who, dressed in long black cloaks, with black masks over their faces
pierced by eyeholes, are to be occasionally seen going about Florence
and elsewhere in procession with the dead, which they bury, taking
thus the place of the relations, who, in some parts of Italy, seem to
abandon their friends when they die, and appear regardless of what
becomes of their remains. We saw the chapel upon Ascension Day, which
was a great holiday, or, to speak more exactly, _holy_ day in Florence.
On that occasion it was, like other churches, crammed to the door with
a changing audience, and, after pushing our way in, we were as glad to
push our way out again.

The churches of Santa Croce, S.S. Annunciata, Santa Maria Novella,
and San Lorenzo are among the finest. They contain beautiful marble
monuments, altar paintings, and other decorations which it would be
endless to mention. The large church of Santa Croce has a fine white
and black marble façade—rather straight and angular, however, in its
lines. It measures nearly 500 feet long, and the interior, besides
being adorned, as usual, with pictures, is the great receptacle of
monuments to illustrious Florentine men, such as Michael Angelo,
Galileo, and Machiavelli. The cloisters adjoining the church are well
worthy of a visit. Most of the important churches in Florence have the
advantage of a large open piazza in front. The vacant space surrounding
the cathedral, unfortunately, is comparatively insignificant, and it
were well if it could be enlarged. That in front of Santa Croce is
large, and is adorned by a colossal marble statue of Dante in classic
robe, attended by an eagle and guarded by four lions placed at the
corners of a suitable pedestal.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the church of San Lorenzo, founded in the fourth century, and one
of the oldest churches in Italy, we were conducted by a touting guide
to the adjacent chapel of the Medici,—the princes of Florence,—and
the tombs of these princes, erected at a cost of nearly £900,000. The
chapel contains Michael Angelo’s masterpieces in sculpture—Lorenzo de
Medici as a warrior resting, but ready, while Day and Night personified
recline below, and on the opposite side Julian de Medici sits pondering
over recumbent Dawn and Twilight. Opinions, however, have differed as
to which is Lorenzo and which is Julian, and I am afraid the visitor
has, like the little boy, to ‘take his choice.’

       *       *       *       *       *

The monastery, formerly of the Silvestrine, afterwards the Dominican
monks, now the Museum of San Marco, is close to the church of San
Marco. Here are to be seen a great many paintings by the pure–minded
Fra (Giovanni) Angelico, who resided in the monastery during the first
half of the fifteenth century. All his works, wrought out in prayer,
are distinguished by the beautiful though smooth painting of the faces,
many of which, here and elsewhere in Florence, are angelic, or, as we
might more correctly designate them, of a saintly, soft beauty, and
composed, devout inexpressiveness of any passion, but peculiar both
in attire and employment. It would be a mistake, however, to set down
all Angelo’s faces as of this description, as in some of his paintings
there is great diversity of contour and of expression, although the
drawing is often singular and in the pre–Raphaelite style. I suppose it
is generally correct, although not always. In one instance I noticed
that a neck seemed to be a linked sweetness rather long drawn out.
There is likewise shown in this museum, which is in reality a range of
monkish cells, the little cell in which Savonarola, the illustrious,
eloquent prior of the order, lived,—a man of great force of character,
a precursor of Luther, fearless as Knox, and a saviour of Florence,
whose people, when they burnt him at the stake, put to death their
greatest benefactor. In a large room were exhibited an immense
collection of the flags, banners, and colours of all the towns and
corporations of Italy which were represented at the Dante festival in
1865.

On the south side of the river, with the exception of Minesota, the
churches do not appear to be so fine; but there is one, the church of
San Spirito, which is large and attractive, and contains no less than
thirty–eight chapels encircling it—by far the largest number of side
chapels attached to a church I have seen anywhere.

       *       *       *       *       *

The visitor, however, is at first most attracted by the Piazza della
Signoria, which—the centre of business—is a large open space, wherein,
or in its neighbourhood, some of the most important buildings are
congregated. On the south side of this piazza there is a lofty,
covered, arcaded hall, called the Loggia dei Lanzi, open on two sides
to the street by arches resting upon high ornamental pillars. Here
are arranged some of the most beautiful modern statues in Florence,
including the Rape of the Sabines in marble, by Giovanni da Bologna—a
spirited work, which, like some of the others, is constantly being
copied on a small scale in marble and alabaster, for sale in the shops;
and Perseus, a bronze statue by Benvenuto Cellini, a master of whose
works there are various specimens to be seen in Florence. Both these
stand in line with the front of the Loggia. Behind them are several
other groups, including the Rape of Polyxena, Hercules slaying the
Centaur, and one supposed to represent Ajax dragging along the body of
Patroclus or of Achilles, all in fine powerful action. Tall, massive
buildings have been erected on another side of the square, and opposite
them, sentinelled by statues, the Palazzo Vecchio rises grandly but
grimly, with its conspicuous campanile towering over everything
around. This palace is well worthy of a visit. Immediately within the
doorway we found, in contrast with the exterior, a graceful entrance
court, encircled by an arcade supported by rows of columns florid in
arabesques, each differing from the others, and a small fountain in
the centre giving life to the whole. Ascending a long stair, we were
ushered into an enormous hall, ornamented by six huge fresco paintings
representing events in the history of Italy. On a floor above we were
shown a chapel and several small rooms, in one of which there was a
model of the proposed façade of the cathedral. I suspect it will be a
long time before the façade itself be an accomplished fact. It appears
strange that it should be allowed to remain in its present condition,
a blemish upon the building, and a reflection upon the spirit in which
the erection was commenced.

       *       *       *       *       *

The house of Michael Angelo is not far from the Piazza. It has been
converted into a museum, and contains, besides a series of paintings
representative of events in his life, with some of his drawings and
models in wax, and a small collection of works of art, a closet
or studio in which he wrought, and a portrait and statue of this
extraordinary artist and fiery independent man, conscious of a genius
as versatile as it was unrivalled. The high estimate in which he has
been held by those qualified to judge may be seen by referring to Sir
Joshua Reynolds’ _Discourses_.[40] In another street an inscription
upon a stone in the wall denotes a house in which Benvenuto Cellini at
one time lived.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the greatest sources of attraction in Florence are the Uffizi and
Pitti Galleries. These are open free to the public on Sundays and
Thursdays—on other days on payment of a franc. The Uffizi Gallery
occupies the upper floor of the three sides of a long narrow street or
court or _cul de sac_, I believe 450 feet long—the fourth being open
to the Piazza della Signoria. The building has a handsome elevation,
scarcely visible in the narrow street, and is adorned by nearly thirty
marble statues of celebrated Tuscans, such as Dante, Petrarch, Michael
Angelo, Lorenzo il Magnifico, evidencing the wealth of Florence in
illustrious men. The gallery itself is reached by a long staircase,
and through vestibules embellished by busts and statues. On entering
we find ourselves in a long corridor, which is carried round the
whole length of the three sides of the building; in fact, making
three long galleries, not particularly high, though high enough for
the purpose, and lighted from the top and by windows looking into the
court. In these corridors, besides a good many pictures interspersed
upon the walls, the greater part of the sculpture of the collection
is assembled—embracing some choice specimens of ancient art, but in
number very small compared with the vast treasures of the Vatican.
Doors open all round into suites of rooms containing an immense
assemblage of paintings, principally Italian, and among them many of
the choicest works of the great masters. Besides the many chambers
devoted to works of art of various nations, among which Britain seems
to be nowhere and Italy to predominate, there are some small rooms
containing collections of gems, medals, and bronzes. Two of the larger
galleries exhibit several hundred portraits of artists, one of the
most pleasingly beautiful among them being a sweet likeness by Mme. Le
Brun of herself, a very favourite subject of copy, and with herself a
not uncommon subject of her brush, as may be noticed in the Louvre.
A very large room is likewise set apart mainly for the exhibition of
seventeen most painfully–expressive statues of the famous Niobe group.
But of all the rooms in this great gathering of art, the Tribune is the
one which displays the choicest specimens. It is a comparatively small
room, but is said to have cost £20,000 in its construction. Here are
chef–d’œuvres of Raphael, Titian, Guido Reni, Correggio, and various
others; while the chamber also contains the famous Venus de Medici, the
Wrestlers, the Dancing Faun, the Whetter—all masterpieces of ancient
sculpture.

Descending by a stair, the visitor proceeds by an almost interminably
long corridor, which stretches out to the Ponte Vecchio, and across
that bridge away to the Pitti Palace on the south side of the Arno—I
suppose scarcely less than half a mile between the two places.
This corridor, being lined with engravings, with drawings of the
masters, and with tapestries,—a collection of things in themselves
valuable,—would take a long time to examine, but in presence of so much
else more attractive, scarcely succeeds in alluring the passing visitor
to any lengthened scrutiny. Away and away it stretches, till after a
weary walk it comes to a termination, and ascending by another stair
into the Pitti Palace, we find ourselves in a collection of upwards of
five hundred paintings and a few sculptures, occupying about fifteen
different beautiful large rooms. It may truly be said there is hardly a
painting in these rooms which is not good, while there are among them
some of the choicest works of the great masters, as, for example,—for
it is but one of very many which might be named,—Raphael’s Madonna
della Sedia, the beauty of which painting is something wonderful.
No engraving and no copy that I have seen approaches the lovely
expressiveness of the original. I was several times in these galleries,
in which one could spend many days with the greatest enjoyment. But to
endeavour to write a description would be not merely fruitlessly to
seek to realize the works, but would be to attempt a disquisition on
the great in art, which, even with capacity for the undertaking, would
here be out of place. I suppose there is not an Italian painter of
eminence who is not represented in the gallery, though beyond native
art I think the only other nations whose artists’ works appear are the
Dutch and Spanish. Photographs and engravings can be procured of many
of the pictures in the shops.

At all times artists are engaged, in both the Uffizi and Pitti
Galleries, making copies of the more celebrated or most attractive
pictures—occasionally two upon the same picture; and they do proceed
with most wonderful patience and infinite pains, copying to the
minutest hair, and laying on coat after coat with the greatest
delicacy, some of them attaining to great excellence. A _permesso_ is
necessary to copy, and for some of the more celebrated paintings the
artists, I was told, had sometimes to wait their turn for years. When
they have, after elaborate painstaking, made a good copy, I fancy they
manufacture other copies from it. I was fortunate enough, among others,
to secure a copy of the lovely Madonna del Cordellina by Raphael, so
perfect that it might almost vie with the original. It was obviously a
copy direct from, and inspired by, the original. Beside it stood in the
same shop another copy, but oh! how different! I believe that some of
the copiers attach themselves more particularly to given masters,—for
example, one in general copies Titians, another Murillos, another
Raphaels. To protect against the abstraction of pictures from the
galleries, no one is allowed to take a picture, not even a copy, out of
Italy without a _permesso_. I bought a small copy of a Titian in the
galleries, and the artist (Adolphe Boschi) accompanied me with it to
the town, because, he said, they would not have allowed me to pass with
it myself.

There is one little inconvenience attendant upon the extreme length of
the galleries. Upon occasion of my first visit, I had unfortunately
taken an umbrella, which I was obliged to leave at the door of the
Uffizi Gallery. After wandering to the extreme end of the Pitti
Gallery, I had to retrace all my steps to regain this umbrella. It is
better, therefore, if anything must be left at the door, to confine a
visit to one or other of the palaces, and there is abundance in either
to engage a whole forenoon.

       *       *       *       *       *

Not far from the Piazza della Signoria is what is called the National
Museum, contained in the old Palazzo del Podesta, rich, but severely
rich, in its architecture. The ground floor is occupied with ancient
and modern armour and arms. Above there is a gallery of statues, some
of them by Michael Angelo, a room full of majolica, another of ivory
carvings, two of bronzes, two of tapestry, and two of sculpture; but
the collection, though interesting, looks small after experiencing the
extent of the Uffizi and Pitti Galleries, and seems hardly deserving to
be dignified with the name of National.

The Corsini Palace, on the Lung Arno, is open three days in the week
to the public, and contains in twelve rooms a large collection of
paintings, many of which are by the great masters.

The Academia delle Belle Arti contains a large collection of
pre–Raphaelites, commencing with Cimabue, and comprising among others
some fine Peruginos. It is accordingly interesting. In an upper floor
several rooms exhibit paintings by modern Italian artists, principally
battlepieces. I paid a visit also to the rooms of the Association for
the Encouragement of the Fine Arts, which seems to be founded somewhat
on the same principles as similar associations in Great Britain;
but from such opportunities as I have had of forming an opinion, I
cannot say that the mantle of their great predecessors—whose works are
constantly before them, and might be thought calculated to inspire—has
fallen upon the modern Florentine artists.

       *       *       *       *       *

Florence, besides being a great place for the sale of copies of
paintings, and for the manufacture of the well–known massive and
tastefully–decorated picture–frames, all carved out of the solid wood,
upon which the gilding is laid without any mixture of composition,
is the place of all others for the manufacture and sale of marble and
alabaster sculpture, and of the beautiful Florentine mosaic jewellery.
It is filled with shops for the sale of these various articles, which
are to be had at moderate prices, and strangers seldom leave without
more or less extensively making purchases.

       *       *       *       *       *

The streets of Florence are always full of life. Occasionally of an
evening a body of men, perhaps twenty or thirty, would form themselves
in a ring, and with deep, rich, melodious voices sing Italian songs.
The power of voice or strength of lungs which the Italians sometimes
possess is indeed often exhibited in a surprising manner. All of a
sudden, walking along a street, it may be meditatively, a vendor of
small wares will abruptly at your very ear, and without apparent
effort, discharge a sharp, stentorian cry, piercing and startling
as with the shock of a nine–pounder, and nearly knocking you down
breathless and affrighted. The markets, too, are noisy,—bargain–making
being a serious operation, in which success is supposed to attend the
most vociferous and energetic,—but sometimes they are more quietly
conducted. Having once penetrated them, and found myself in the press
of a great crowd in very narrow passages, and in odious proximity
to heaps of most unpleasant–looking fish, it was with no little
satisfaction I made my escape as soon as escape was practicable.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are many other places in Florence to be seen besides those I
have specially mentioned. We did see a good deal in the time we were
there, but not all by any means, and what we did see was in a very
general way. We remained not quite three weeks, and could with pleasure
have stayed much longer. It is a place which, like Rome, though not
to the same extent, requires a long stay, and is full of objects
meriting careful study and worthy of repeated examination. It is not,
however, without its drawbacks, chief among them being the not uncommon
practice in Italian towns of making air–holes from the drains to the
streets, from which unsavoury whiffs occasionally come, not pleasant to
contemplate. The authorities plainly want in sanitary arrangements some
teaching.


BOLOGNA.

We left Florence for Bologna by train at 7.50 A.M. As we were about to
enter a railway carriage, a pleasant–looking English lady looked out
and cried to us deterringly, ‘This is not a smoking carriage.’ ‘Thank
you, madam,’ I replied; ‘that is just what we want.’ So, as the two
parties filled the compartment, we were not troubled with any selfish
smoker, and, as we were all English, with no needless exclusion of the
views by lowering the blinds. We reached Bologna at noon. The railway
passes through many tunnels, and in some places at a great elevation.
The views from it are fine.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bologna is a singular old university town, very compact within the
walls, so as to accommodate its population of 109,000. From the twelve
or thirteen gates in the walls, leading streets converge to the centre,
constructed with arcades at the sides, under which the pavements and
shops are placed. The object of the arcading is probably to afford
shelter from the snow in winter and the rain in summer. The town
itself is dull, and the shops entering from the arcades are dark and
second–rate. Photographs of Bologna can be procured at Florence, and
perhaps in some as yet undiscovered region in Bologna itself. The Hotel
Brun (the principal one) is an old–fashioned house. Like many of the
Italian hotels, the _salons_ are entered direct from the court–yard.

As soon as possible, as we were only to stay one night, we went out
for a drive of some hours, and were taken first to the two leaning
towers, which stand together. These are long, lanky, and square, dark
with age and long exposure to the weather, often, I suspect, of a
humid character. One of them—the _Torre Asinelli_—said by Bædeker to
be 272, and in other authorities 320 feet high, was originally 476
feet, or 40 feet higher than the top of the cross of St. Peter’s. It
was shortened in 1416 after an earthquake. It now lies 3 ft. 5 in.
off the perpendicular. The other, that of Garisenda, is, according to
Bædeker, 138 feet high, and upwards of 8 feet out of the perpendicular,
and by no means assuring to look at. They are neither of them imposing
architecturally, although noted features viewed from outside the
city. From this point we went to the Etruscan Museum, in which a
variety of antiquities are exhibited, and, among other things, several
skeletons of an old date discovered in neighbouring excavations. Under
the same roof there is also a large library, comprising upwards of
100,000 volumes. I believe the museum and library are connected with
the University, 760 years old. Close by is the large church of San
Petronio, 384 feet long by 154 feet wide, intended to have been a
vast deal larger. Here Charles v. was crowned emperor in 1530. There
are various other large churches interesting to see, but, after those
in Rome and Florence, they have, with all their grandeur, rather a
provincial look. We then drove beyond the walls to the Villa Reale, one
of the royal palaces. It stands upon a height, and commands admirable
views of the town, out of which rise a good many towers, domes, and
spires, relieving its otherwise spiritless level. One also sees far
into the surrounding country, which, for the most part, is very flat.
The villa contains some long corridors, one of them 500 feet long,
adorned by statues. The church of the monastery is entered from the
galleries. From this we drove (still outside the walls) to the Campo
Santo, which is much larger, is more ramified, and is older than that
at Genoa, but it is by no means equal to it either in arrangement or
in monuments. Some of the monuments are good, but many are paltry. On
our way back to town we entered the churches of San Domenico and San
Pietro, both large, and containing greater objects of interest than San
Petronio.

Cab fares in Bologna are moderate. I paid the cabman half a franc more
than his fare, and, wonderful to say, he thanked me. It was the first
and only time in Italy. The usual course is to take all that is offered
and beg for more. Do the cabmen of Bologna graduate at the University?

       *       *       *       *       *

Rain fell heavily the following morning, and as we were to leave for
Venice at twelve o’clock, we had not much time, but I could scarcely
leave Bologna without taking a hurried glimpse of the Academia delle
Belle Arti. An hour in this large gallery was, of course, far too
brief a space for seeing its contents, and in the galleries there are
many great paintings of more or less merit; among others, Raphael’s
celebrated and beautiful picture of St. Cecilia listening to heavenly
music, in which, however (such are the exigencies of art), six solid
angels, securely seated on a cloud, obtain their words and their time,
somewhat inconveniently, from two stout music–books, perhaps purchased
in the Via outside—a profane remark; but irreverent thoughts will
intrude even in the presence of the most wonderful works. It was a
change to pass from the well–favoured countenance of St. Cecilia to
Guido Reni’s Crucifixion. There are indeed two Crucifixions by Guido,
but the smaller one seems to me the grander effort of genius. The
effect of the darkness in the painting is truly sublime.



XV.

_VENICE AND VERONA._


VENICE.

THE rain continued while we proceeded to Venice, but cleared off
shortly before we arrived at our journey’s end, about five o’clock.
The country for some distance from Bologna is very flat, and was then
full of water, but rich and verdant. We passed the towns of Ferrara,
Rovigo, and Padua. In approaching the old city Padua, the country
becomes hilly. This university town arrests attention by its domes and
towers, and seemed to invite a visit; but one cannot see everything
in a single tour. Venice is only twenty–two miles distant from Padua,
but the railway takes nearly two hours to reach it. At last we arrived
at a broad lagune, separating the mainland from the island city, and
crossed by a railway viaduct apparently about two miles long. From
this bridge, gazing from the carriage windows, we saw lying before
us at a little distance, like fairyland, Venice, as if floating on
the water, a strange sight! On arriving at the station, which is real
stone and lime, resting on veritable ground, and very much like railway
stations elsewhere, except that no omnibuses or cabs wait arrival, the
exit is to the banks of the Grand Canal. We were met outside by the
_commissionaire_ of the Hotel Danieli (Royal), who gave us in charge
of a boatman; and leaving the _commissionaire_ to bring the luggage
afterwards, we had our first experience—a new and curious one—of a
gondola on the canals of Venice. The boatman took us a certain length
along the Grand Canal, and then, as I found the post office could be
reached on the way, we turned aside into a narrow canal to a place
which it would have required infinite trouble to discover, secured
our letters, and an early ingiving of our address, and thence went on
to the hotel, which is nicely situated on the Riva degli Chiavoni,—a
broad quay recently formed along the Great Canal di San Marco from the
Piazzetta at the Doge’s Palace, eastward, I suppose, about 1000 yards,
while a continuation of the walk westward from the Piazzetta has been
made in the Royal Gardens fronting the Royal Palace. This situation is
decidedly the best in Venice. It faces the south, and the views from
it are open and surpass others. The hotel is within a stone–throw of
the Doge’s Palace, and people can at once get out from it to the open
fresh air, walk freely about, and visit many of the objects of greatest
interest without stepping into a gondola, or picking their way along
the numerous narrow and tortuous streets or lanes intersecting Venice,
which are extremely perplexing to a stranger. Most of the other hotels
are situated upon the canals,—sometimes in sunless interior parts,—with
communications behind by these narrow lanes with the landward parts of
the town; and they want the advantage of the quay in front, which with
the shipping always affords a lively, interesting promenade.

       *       *       *       *       *

Rain fell during the evening, but next morning we sallied out to see a
little of this wonderful place. It is a curious sensation to see for
the first time a town like Venice, whose leading features by means of
pictures have been familiar to us from childhood; but no pictures ever
come up to the reality. We stood for a little upon the pretty bridge
which crosses a narrow canal, and looked up to the renowned Bridge
of Sighs, which, at a considerable elevation over this small canal,
connects the east side of the Doge’s Palace with the prison. The façade
of the palace upon this side exhibits a combination of elegance with an
appearance of massive strength, to which the lower tiers of masonry,
formed of rows of tooth–shaped or square diamond–pointed bosses
(they perhaps have a technical name), similar to the enrichments on
Crichton Castle (Midlothian), very much contribute. Then we passed the
well–known south front of the Doge’s Palace to the Piazzetta separating
the Doge’s from the Royal Palace—a wide, open space, wherein stand the
two red granite pillars one sees in every representation of this part
of Venice; the one surmounted by the winged lion, and the other by the
former patron of the Republic, San Teodoro, who was turned out by the
mundane authorities and succeeded in office by San Marco, such patrons
having no will of their own in the bestowal or withdrawal of their
patronage. Then walking up by the west side of the Palace, we entered
the large open square called the Piazza di San Marco, nearly 600 feet
long, by, at the east end, 270 feet wide, narrowing to 180 feet at the
west end, and presenting on each side a handsome façade in the Italian
style, the lower floor being occupied with shops and cafés under
arcades. The Church of St. Mark forms the east side of this Piazza.
Near to it, on the south–east of the Piazza, its lofty campanile rises;
while opposite the famous clock tower and clock form a portion of the
north side.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the eye is first arrested by the cathedral. There is in St.
Mark’s a mixture of styles, but its predominating Byzantine style of
architecture, so different from what one is ordinarily accustomed
to,—its façade, so beautifully ornamented by pictorial representations
in mosaic, bright and vivid in their colouring; its mosque–like domes;
its pierced pinnacles; its graceful lines and cresting statues; its
numerous rich, and all differing, marble columns (500 outside and
in),—give to the whole a magnificence of effect which fixed us to
the spot, gazing in admiration from beside the noticeable and noted
flagstaffs planted in front. The pause was fatal to peace. We were
immediately surrounded by a small swarm of touters, quick to scent
fresh blood, and eager to be employed to show the way into St. Mark’s
and give imperfect or perhaps altogether unintelligible accounts of the
edifice. Brushing them aside, on entering our first impression of the
interior was of darkness and dirt. The place is 900 years old, and the
sun was at the time under a cloud. The floor is very uneven, having
sunk at many places in a series of waves, as if it had once rested
on the Adriatic, and the traces of its motion had been left behind.
The mosaics, which cover many thousand square feet, and are very old,
are cracked, and have given way in several parts; but it was a very
curious, peculiar church, and it grew upon one the longer it was looked
at. On this occasion we contented ourselves with a general view of
the interior, spending more than an hour in doing so, and in seeing
the ‘Presbyterio,’ which was shown by the sacristan. The choir of the
church is raised above the ground floor of the main body, and is railed
off by a parapet or screen, adorned by eight columns and surmounted by
fourteen statues and a large central crucifix. It is reached by a few
steps, and there hangs in front of it, suspended from the ceiling, a
massive silver lamp—a peculiar adornment. Here are the high altars with
their costly ornaments, and the principal curiosities and valuables
(some of them very ancient) of the church; among others, two pillars
said to be from Solomon’s temple. These, with the Pala d’Oro (an
elaborately–wrought gold screen), the bronze bas–reliefs, the statues,
all contribute to the interest. But other people are waiting, and we
are hurried through.

By this time it was nearly twelve o’clock, and we went outside to see
the clock strike. The clock tower is a large broad building six storeys
high, topped by a short central tower forming an additional storey. On
the façade, a large dial marks the hours up to twenty–four, according
to old Italian time, and some other astronomical mutations. Over the
dial there is a statue of the Virgin, and on the top of the tower,
surmounted by a golden lion, two bronze giants with sledge–hammers
strike the hours, whereupon, by means of machinery, three puppet kings,
preceded by an angel, stagger out at a door on one side of the Virgin,
and passing jerkily along, each in turn, as it arrives opposite her,
bows to her stiffly with puppet grace, marches on, and with a twitch
disappears at another door, both doors closing after all have done
their duty. A crowd watched the performance, which we were in luck to
see, as after Whitsunday the show does not take place for some length
of time.

       *       *       *       *       *

This important event witnessed, we walked round the Piazza, which
at night is a gay scene—lights blazing, a band of music performing,
and the whole square filled with people. In the day–time it is
comparatively quiet. Here and in an adjoining street the shops of
Venice are concentrated. They are small boxes resembling very much
the little shops in the Palais Royal in Paris, though not so rich in
jewellery or so well stocked with merchandise. In many of them there
are always for sale little models of gondolas in all kinds of material,
from silver to leather and wood. In others photographs are sold, the
photos of Venice being noted as remarkably good; and they are printed,
I think, on rather thicker paper than elsewhere, but they are slightly
dearer than those in the South of Italy. There are also shops in which
the famous Venetian glass is sold. The manufacture of glass is a great
trade in Venice, and one sees among them very beautiful samples of the
work, embracing articles in iridescent glass; but as the manufacturers
have agents in London, it is not very desirable to purchase such
frail commodities to take so far home. People, however, do so, and
probably they would not purchase at home; while it is certainly true
that purchases made in distant places of what is peculiar to the place
acquire a value which never attaches to the same things procured in
one’s own country. On a subsequent day we visited one of the glass and
mosaic works, which our gondoliers (for some unaccountable reason, if
we put aside personal motives and small commissions which the brave
gondolier must assuredly be above accepting) were always pressing we
should stop at. The manufacture is interesting, but one feels under an
obligation to purchase in requital for attention, and really the prices
asked were forbiddingly high.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the afternoon of this our first day, we had our first real
experience of going about in a gondola. The gondolas are all, by order
of the authorities, to prevent expensive rivalry in colours, painted
black, and they have therefore a very funereal look. One would think
that, as it is merely uniformity which is desired, a brighter colour
might have been chosen, and for this everybody would plead. Just fancy
all our street cabs of the colour of funeral carriages! Some of the
gondolas, perhaps all of them, have wooden removable covers, analogous
to waggonette covers, which for wet weather may be very useful; but,
generally speaking, they have, at least in warm weather, white or
light–coloured linen canopies stretched on rods for protection from
the sun, which was very hot during our stay. These canopies, however,
interfere with the view, and as we had not the Continental dread of the
sun, we used at once to desire them to be taken down. It is marvellous
how one rower, who rows upon one side of the boat, manages to propel it
steadily along. On one occasion, however, we had a gondolier who shook
the boat from stem to stern at every step, owing to some awkwardness
he had in managing his foot or his oar, rendering the shaking motion
most unpleasant; but with this exception (and we took care to avoid
this man again), sailing in the gondolas we found to be one of the most
delightful ways of going about, gliding noiselessly through the water,
and continually passing others similarly engaged. The dexterity with
which the boatman steers is somewhat marvellous. He will, for instance,
approach a rope stretched from a ship, and pass under it, the high prow
clearing it by an inch. Again, on entering the narrow canals (in doing
which the men always sing out a peculiar warning cry), or making a turn
in one of them, these long boats were managed most adroitly. The fares
for the gondolas are very moderate, being with one gondolier 1 franc
(lira) for the first hour, and half a franc for every other. If two men
be employed, the fare is doubled. The boatmen, however, generally seem
to expect more than their fare, and even on giving more, as we always
did, we never were thanked. Whenever a gondola stops at a place, and we
had continual stoppages, there is an officious man waiting to hook the
boat with his stick, for which he expects a soldo, value one halfpenny.

       *       *       *       *       *

On occasion of our first trip we crossed the Canal di San Marco (really
an arm of the sea) to the island di San Georgio Maggiore, on which has
been built the church of that name, which, with its dome and columned
front, and its high, conspicuous campanile, is a boldly prominent and
graceful object from the town. The main attraction inside the church
is its beautiful carved wooden choir, representing the life of St.
Benedict, executed by Alberto di Bruli, of Flanders. It is likewise
filled with marbles, bronzes, and paintings; after examining which we
ascended the campanile and had a splendid view of Venice and of all
the islands. The view from it, indeed, is somewhat better than that
which we subsequently had from the campanile of San Marco, which looks
rather directly down upon Venice. From this island we rowed across to
another long island called La Guidica, forming one side of the canal
of the same name; and on this island is the church of Il Redentore,
which contains some fine marbles, and in the sacristy some paintings by
Bellini.

       *       *       *       *       *

But it would be almost endless to describe the various churches which
in the course of our short stay we visited. Most of them are adorned by
pictures by Titian or by other great masters, by monumental sculptures,
and by every other species of ornamentation. I shall only mention the
names of some, with a remark.

The church of San Sebastian, containing the tomb of Paul Veronese,
and some of the finest specimens of that artist’s works. Santa Maria
della Salute, nearly opposite the Royal Palace, and at the entrance to
the Grand Canal—a vast church, which with its domes forms a striking
leading feature of Venice. It was erected after the plague of 1630,
and the only wonder is that there is not an annual plague in Venice,
the smells are so atrocious. The old church of San Stephano, with
its statues, monuments, and bronzes. When we visited it, a grand
funeral service was being performed; the singers led by a man with a
baton,—very unlike real mourning. The church of Santa Maria dei Frari,
full of monuments, paintings, and statues, but its main attractions are
the magnificent marble monuments to the memory of Titian and Canova,
in two very different styles of art. The church of the Scalzi, or
barefooted friars, gorgeously ornamented with marbles from all parts
of the world, some of the marbles being cut in curious imitation
of drapery and cushions. The church of the Jesuits, decorated in a
strange, florid style with black and white marble—in imitation of
damask patterns, I presume, inlaid somewhat like mosaics—pillars and
pilasters and other parts being all so covered, as if with cloth, in
black and white damask. It is elaborate and peculiar, and looks like a
freak in architecture. The church of San Giovanni et Paolo, a grand
old place, full of magnificent altars, fine columns, and gorgeous
monuments, most of them to Doges, very many of whom are buried here.
This church is therefore regarded as the Venetian Westminster Abbey.
The chapel del Rosario was an adjunct to it, and when entire must
have been of exquisite beauty, as is evident from the remains of the
sculpture. It was, unhappily, set on fire by an incendiary in 1867,
whereby many fine paintings were destroyed, including a grand one by
Titian. The keeper of the chapel had photographs of the sculpture for
sale; but, as usual when offered at show places, asked extravagant
prices.

       *       *       *       *       *

The palaces, however, of Venice are among its main attractions.
They line almost continuously the Grand Canal, and are to be found
occasionally in the side canals. Formerly the abodes of the old
nobility, probably few of them are now occupied by private proprietors.
To appearance, the majority of them are diverted to other uses—some
as government offices, others as hotels, others as museums, and, I
suspect, even in some cases for purposes of trade and manufacture. For
any one to attempt to describe them in few pages would be vain, and
they require the aid of the pictorial art to realize them. Fortunately,
good photographs of many of them can be procured. They are imposing,
and not infrequently very beautiful buildings. Their design is in
some cases a species of fanciful Gothic, and in others the heavier
style of the Renaissance; but a character of their own pervades them,
denoting them Venetian. Our architects at home occasionally reproduce
them in our public buildings, with variations. No two are alike. Their
variety is pleasing, and age has in many imparted a rich colouring to
the stone or marble of which they are built. In nearly all the balcony
is a prominent feature; and no doubt on many grand occasions their
balconies were crowded by the fairest of the fair, decked in their best
attire, and many bright and loving eyes have peered over balustrades
gaily decorated with brilliant hangings on sumptuous pageants passing
beneath, and darted captivating glances on favoured gallants taking
their part in the spectacles. Long poles stuck into the canal in front
of many of the palaces indicate the nobility of the families to which
they now or at one time belonged. Some of the rooms in these palaces
are very spacious, as, for example, those in the Palazzo Pesaro, a
large edifice in the style of the Renaissance, where there was one
great hall the whole depth of the house, from the front facing the
canal to the back. This room was filled with pictures, some for sale;
and, as usual, balconies overlooked the canal, from which we had a
charming view of all the life afloat. In the Palazzo Emo–Treves we were
shown the two last works of Canova—statues of Hector and Ajax. They are
gigantic, and seem rather out of place in a comparatively small room.
In other palaces the visitors are conducted through suites of rooms
hung with paintings.

       *       *       *       *       *

So numerous are the palaces, that I see eighty–nine are mentioned in
a small but useful guide–book, called _A Week in Venice_,[41] the
churches being about as many in number. The grand palace of all,
however, is the Doge’s. This is a magnificent building both inside and
out. The admission is by ticket, costing a franc each for the palace
itself, with extra tickets for the Bridge of Sighs and the Museum, a
small collection. The palace is a square or oblong building, with a
large court–yard in the centre, and both externally and on the walls
of the court is highly decorated; but there is a heaviness in the
upper part of the west and south exterior façades, and a dumpiness
about the windows with which these parts are pierced, which could
never reconcile me to them. Even the lower part in its arcading wants
relief. Thirty–four Gothic arches in a row, and all monotonously alike
in size and figure, however beautiful individually, without a break
loses in effect. The entrance from the Piazzetta is by a beautiful
Gothic doorway closely adjoining St. Mark’s, richly sculptured. After
examining and passing through it, we find ourselves at the foot of the
Giant’s Staircase; but the large central square court round which the
palace extends arrests the eye, and we enter it to admire the interior
façades, particularly those on the east and north. The north side is
short and broken, and more diversified than the others, not merely by
statues and a peculiar rich ornamentation, but by the domes of St.
Mark, which tower over it and claim to be a portion of the structure.
But after lingering about this handsome court, and taking a look at
the carved bronze wells which are placed in it, and from which water
is obtained, ascent is made by the Giant’s Staircase to the first
floor, where admission is gained to the portions of the building shown
to the public. The arrangement of the rooms is somewhat perplexing to
the visitor, requiring a plan which is not anywhere given to guide him
through. But we find our way through some immense halls, all decorated
by huge pictures principally representing scenes in the history of
Venice—real ‘gallery pictures’ in point of extent of canvas, but highly
suitable to the noble proportions of the rooms. One picture, not by any
means a pleasing one, is the largest in the world, and occupies the
whole breadth of an immense room—’Paradise,’ by Tintoretto, who seemed
fond of enormous canvases; his chef–d’œuvre, the Crucifixion, in the
Scola di S. Rocco, being also huge. The ceilings of the rooms in the
palace, some of them lofty, are also, according to Italian practice,
embellished with paintings and massive gilding; but labour and expense
seem greatly thrown away, it is such a strain to look up to them. In
one large room, just below the ceiling, in a running row, portraits
are seen of all the Doges, 120 in number, commencing in the year 697
and ending 1797, a period of exactly 1100 years. One of them, however,
as a traitor to Venice, is painted under veil. These portraits in
all likelihood are, at least among the earlier Doges, as reliable as
are those of the early kings of Scotland in the gallery of Holyrood
Palace, or of those of the earlier popes in certain churches in Rome.
The rooms, however, of greatest interest are those in which the Doge
and his council assembled in conclave; and one cannot help, when in
such rooms, endeavouring to conjure up old scenes happening there, and
thinking how the glory of Venice has departed.

When in the library we were asked to go into a small room off it,
where we were shown some old MSS., and a fine old unique breviary,
with most beautiful illuminated illustrations. It has been or is being
photographed, and I presume copies will be for sale.

The dungeons, which are seen by crossing the Bridge of Sighs, are, so
far as shown, small, but sufficiently repellent.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Doge’s Palace abuts upon the church of St. Mark, which we rarely
passed without entering. On Whitsunday (20th May 1877) a grand service
was held in the church. The singing was performed by about from twelve
to twenty choristers in the organ gallery, with a leader. The voices
were splendid, and the music very fine. On another occasion we walked
round the gallery of the church under guidance of an attendant, and
examined the mosaics, of which one thus gets a nearer view. They are
imposing, but unfortunately are giving way in many places. At a west
window we were taken outside to see the four fine bronze horses over
the portal, which form a feature in the ornamentation of the façade.
The horses are, however, in size small, and apparently not sufficiently
gigantic for the situation.

In the Piazza di San Marco immense flocks of pigeons are always to
be seen; they are kept under the protection of the city, the law
being that to kill or ill–treat them is a punishable offence. Every
day at two o’clock they are regularly fed with grain, and they are
said to know the time so exactly as to arrive for their dinner from
all quarters at the precise hour. It is certainly remarkable to see
how tame they are, being quite devoid of the fear and dread of man,
perching all over any stranger who will feed them, with as much
confidence as if they were with Adam or Eve in the Garden of Eden.

       *       *       *       *       *

After we had seen a good deal of Venice we ascended the campanile of
St. Mark. This is a wide square tower, and by a commodious sloping
internal ascent the belfry is attained, where we get among the bells.
The hours are struck by a man stationed to pull the ropes and watch for
fires, which, when he discovers, he notifies to the proper quarter—a
useful, but, I fear, a rare species of precaution against this species
of calamity. The view from this tower (which is 322 feet high to the
hair of the angel’s head, an altitude which I need scarcely say we
did not attempt) is commanding, ranging over the city and lagunes,
looking, however, as I have already said, a little too directly down
upon the roofs of the houses below. However, one gets a pretty clear
idea of the map of Venice, with its multifarious canals, islands, and
narrow streets. As stated by Bædeker, the ‘15,000 houses and palaces
of Venice (population, 128,901) are situated on 3 large and 114 small
islands, formed by 147 canals, connected by 378 bridges (most of them
stone), and altogether about 7 miles in circumference.’ I occasionally
endeavoured to thread my way through the narrow streets of Venice, and
considered it rather an achievement the first time I managed to pioneer
through all the intricacies of the passage from the Piazza San Marco
to the Ponte Rialto and back again. This famous bridge is a graceful
marble arch, of one span of 74 feet, across the Grand Canal. An elegant
marble balustrade protects each side, the space on the bridge being
divided into three footways by two covered arched or arcaded buildings
used as shabby little shops, which one would gladly see abolished,
being so little in keeping with the handsome character of the bridge.
Here at the Rialto there are also markets on either side of the canal,
for the sale of fruit and other things.

       *       *       *       *       *

Situated on the Grand Canal, but nearer to the railway station, is the
Museo Correr, in which we found a collection of pictures, armour, and
curiosities, of no great extent, but said to be valuable. The Palazzo
Marcello (proprietor, Richetti) contains a quantity of ‘antiquities,’
curiosities, bronzes, and other things manufactured for sale, some of
them curiously designed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nearer to the principal part of the town the Academia delle Belle Arti
lies—a very extensive collection of paintings in twenty large halls,
besides smaller rooms, the pictures numbering in all 679. These are
all, with the exception of a few of the Dutch school, if I am not
mistaken, the works of Italian artists, most of them by the great
masters, and many on a large scale. Among others is what is considered
Titian’s masterpiece—’The Assumption of the Virgin,’ a clear and
brilliant, a glorious work in point of drawing and colour. In fact,
the colour is perhaps rather too strong in reds and blues. One great
canvas, a grand picture by Paul Veronese of the banquet in Levi’s
house, occupies the entire breadth of the largest hall. The banquet
is represented as held under a remarkably Venetian–looking light
colonnade, open to the outer air, and peopled by characters evidently
clothed in Venetian attire of the painter’s era. But it scarcely does
to scan such works of art with too much regard to accessories. What
appears to be the favourite picture is another Veronese—a Virgin with
a young, naked, little St. John the Baptist standing on a pedestal,
with legs to appearance (it may be merely the effect of shade) of
unequal lengths. There were half a dozen painters when we were there,
engaged in copying the chubby St. John. Copies of it may be seen in
many of the shops of Venice. They are, I fancy, favourites with the
ladies. We paid only one visit to the Academy, but it would take
several visits to do its galleries justice.

       *       *       *       *       *

The arsenal of Venice, dating back to the year 1104, is well worthy of
a visit for the sake of its museum, an interesting collection of arms
and models of ships, particularly of the grand state gondolas; nothing
but the museum is apparently shown to the ordinary visitor. The arsenal
is not so extensive as it once was. Admission is had by simply entering
one’s name in the visitors’ book, and, as usual at all these show
places where admission is not by payment, giving a small fee to the
_custodes_, one being stationed in each hall.

       *       *       *       *       *

A steamboat, large enough for the traffic, sailed every hour from the
quay in front of our hotel to the island of Lido, about two miles
distant. We crossed in it one afternoon; and the sail is interesting,
as the vessel passes the other islands, and fine views are had from it
of the town, and, in the distance, of the mountains of the Tyrol. The
island of Lido is long and narrow. Upon landing we walked across to the
other side, about half a mile of road. Here we were on the borders of
the Adriatic. The island is a bright little spot with a few buildings
on it. Returning, we got on board just in time to escape, under cover
of its awning, a thunder–shower which came pelting down very heavily,
and lasted all the time we were on board.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had now been eight days in Venice, and had been constantly going
about seeing much that was to be seen, but yet only seeing it in a
superficial way. There was no place in Italy which was more attractive.
Its gorgeous palaces and churches, its strange, unique kind of life,
the multitudinous canals teeming with gondolas, and the pleasure of
moving about in them, was something we never could forget. We saw
Venice usually in brilliant sunshine, with everything sparkling in
light, although nearly every afternoon, with a severe punctuality which
enabled us generally to be prepared for it, black clouds gathered, and
a thunderstorm emptied them quickly. But perhaps the most beautiful
sight of all was to see Venice in moonlight. One is familiar with
photographs of the fair city, tinted with a deep blue in imitation of
moonlight effect, a white spot being picked out for the moon herself
(as, of course, the photographs are taken during the day), and I can
hardly say that there is in these pictures much, if any, exaggeration.
The blueness of the sky, and of everything with which the light is
tinged in moonlight, is something remarkable and very lovely, while the
effect is increased when the moon, getting behind a cloud, gives to the
cloud a luminous edging of silver.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were exceedingly unwilling to leave this bright fairyland,
but became afraid to stay longer. The fact is, that with all its
attractiveness Venice has not, at least to a stranger, the feeling of
healthiness. It drains into the canals, where the tide rises and falls
only 2 feet, and has not force sufficient to carry off the drainage.
The effluvium from the narrow canals is sometimes overpowering, and yet
it is said, as it is said of so many other places one might imagine
insalubrious, that Venice is naturally so healthy that the people are
notedly long–lived; and, indeed, one instance of this occurs in the
case of Titian, who lived to the patriarchal age of ninety–nine. How
this comes, ‘let doctors tell.’

We left on 23d May, pursuing our way up the Grand Canal and under the
Ponte Rialto, and on to the railway station,—a long pull, but one we
always enjoyed. In fact, if a visitor do nothing but obtain a sail
along this canal, he sees the greater part of Venice; just as, though
much less completely, a stranger sees much of London by a sail upon
the Thames, and would see more were the main buildings, as at Venice,
placed upon its banks; which henceforth, perhaps, there is a hope they
may be. The canal is, I think, about two miles in length, and on an
average not less than 100 feet wide, and is lined by palaces, churches,
and houses, in the utmost irregularity of height and diversity of
character and style, many of them beautiful, while the canal itself is
alive with gondolas; and the _tout ensemble_ is so picturesque, that
when the sun shines, as it generally did, everything looks engaging
to the eye. One by one we passed and gazed at the palaces (which had
become, as it were, old friends) with many a lingering look, as if
resolved we never should forget them. But the vision came to an end
as we entered the modern and disenchanting railway station, whence we
shortly after proceeded on our journey to Verona, the scene of _Romeo
and Juliet_. Romance was not, therefore, to be quite at an end, and as
the train issued out of the railway station the curtain was raised for
a momentary glimpse; and slowly wending our way over the lagune by the
long viaduct of 222 arches, we looked intently on the floating city,
wondering if ever we should see it again. Losing sight of it lying
on the one side, attention was forthwith drawn to the other by the
line of the Tyrolese mountains, which at some distance were in view,
and flanking us nearly the whole way. We passed Padua and Vicenza,
and through a country which is flat, but was smiling in the greens of
early summer, and after a journey of about seventy miles in four hours
reached our destination.


VERONA.

We had proposed spending two nights at Verona, but American friends who
came with us from Venice were anxious to get on to Milan, so that we
had just two hours the following morning for a drive about the town. We
regretted afterwards that our opportunity was not greater, for it is
indeed a place at which one may stay for a few days with advantage. It
is very picturesquely situated on the river Adige, and contains a good
deal that is interesting. We first drove through the old market–place,
where people were busy selling fruit, vegetables, and other things in
a piazza surrounded by curious old houses. Then into the Piazza dei
Signori, where are some very fine buildings, old and new, and adjoining
it a small open space or square closely surrounded by houses, in which
the noted and highly decorated tombs of the Scaligers, enclosed within
a wall and railing, are seen. Then on to the Arena, which is not so
imposing as the Colosseum or even the Arena at Nismes, and although
covering more ground than the latter, was seated for fewer spectators;
but it is in a very perfect condition—the most perfect, I think, of
any we saw in Italy, the large marble slabs of which it is built being
nearly all in place. We mounted to the top row, and had an excellent
view of the country round about. From this we drove to the church
of San Zenone Maggiore, a thousand years old, and very curious. The
portal is peculiar, and adorned by rich marble reliefs. Within are
some fine old pillars, said to be of single pieces of marble, a crypt,
and cloisters—altogether a place of great interest and of striking
conformation. We were only sorry we had so little time to examine
it minutely, for we could take but a rapid walk round. Returning to
town we entered two other churches,—San Fermo Maggiore, with an open
ceiling in walnut wood, and the Duomo, which is quaintly ornamented;
but we had seen so many Italian churches elsewhere that we were rather
attracted to a little building at the end of a garden, said to be the
tomb of Juliet. One is fain to believe in it, but as matter of fact
it is discredited. This tomb so–called Juliet’s is an elegant, small,
open, three–arched vault, or recessed covered place with slender double
columns, containing within a sarcophagus. More certainty is attached to
what is shown at a different part of the town as Juliet’s window; but,
alas for the romance! the window looks into the street, and it has no
balcony.

[Illustration: TOMB OF JULIET,—VERONA.]

So rapid a survey was not doing justice to fair Verona. There was
much more to be seen in the town, while the river and its bridges and
surroundings, and the neighbouring country, all looked so picturesque
and inviting, that I have no doubt it is a favourite halting–place for
the artist, and it may well repay a visit of some days.



XVI.

_MILAN AND THE ITALIAN LAKES._


MILAN.

WE left Verona at mid–day for Milan. The scenery was fine, and for some
miles we had Lake Garda, the largest of the Italian lakes, in view,
at one part as near as only a mile off. Here we passed over the field
of the battle of Solferino, which took place on 24th June 1859. An
interest naturally attaches to ground where not many years previously a
great battle was fought, and so many events were being enacted terrible
to the actors, but there is nothing specially to mark it out. The day
had been clear when we started, but before we got to Milan the clouds
began to gather, the sky became very black, and we unluckily arrived at
four o’clock in a thunderstorm. However, we had not far to drive down
the wide Corso to the Hôtel de Ville, which is well situated near the
Cathedral, in the principal street of Milan.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were out betimes next morning to see the glorious cathedral. It is
certainly a magnificent church, inside and out, built of white marble,
and of great size and height, being only inferior in size or extent
to St. Peter’s.[42] It was not a little refreshing to see a Gothic
church of any sort, after having had so much elsewhere in other styles.
It is not divided into or surrounded by chapels, so that it wants the
aid which these accessories afford for decoration; and therefore, in
contrast with many less pretentious churches, there is a feeling of
vacancy about it, although it is devoid of the gloom of the large,
empty, dark Duomo of Florence. Fault, no doubt, has been found with the
windows that they do not throw down the light sufficiently from above,
but the windows themselves are traceried and filled with beautiful
stained glass. Upon entering by the great portal at the west, the eye
is caught in the far distance by the glimmering colours of the grand
east window, whose dimensions are colossal, as may be gathered from
the fact that its traceried compartments comprise no fewer than 350
pictures in glass, copies, in many instances, of known paintings.
Then the eye is arrested by four long rows of lofty clustered
columns—upwards of 50 in number in all—each 8 feet in diameter and 90
feet high, their comparative slenderness giving an airy character to
the great interior, which rises in graceful pointed arches in the nave
to the height of 152 feet. These pillars are most peculiarly adorned by
a sort of double capital, between which are placed in canopied niches
sculptured figures or statues in white marble, evincing that herein
Milan is master; but somehow they do not attain the effect of a grand
capital. The roof is painted in imitation fretwork or open carving,
a species of deception which, however well done, is hardly to be
expected, or even tolerated, where no cost has otherwise been spared.

The exterior has so light and fairy–like an appearance that one
can hardly believe it to be of stone, and yet all the parts which
look so light and delicate are in reality massive and substantial
marble. The mass or quantity of statues is really surprising. Niches
innumerable contain them, studded at every conceivable spot over the
huge building. Every one of the countless pinnacles, besides being
adorned in successive courses by them, is surmounted by a statue, a
mute mast–headed man, patiently and uncomplainingly remaining where he
has been ordered to do duty, and so aiding to adorn the magnificent
edifice. The number of marble statues inside and outside has been
variously computed, but cannot be less than 4000. The central tower
may be objected to as fully too small or too light for the size of the
building, but it is in style in harmony with the numberless spirelets
which rise like a forest around it, sometimes in clusters, and spanned
by flying buttresses in lace–like decoration, which give strength and
stability to a structure which, if it were not irreverent to say so,
has a good deal of the look, in its white purity, of a most gigantic
and beautiful bride–cake.

We lingered about the cathedral on our first visit for a long time. It
was grand to hear the great organ pealing through the vast chamber,
although the music was not so fine as it had been at St. Mark’s on the
Sunday.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following morning (for while at Milan we never missed seeing it
every day) we again entered the church, and found an important service
proceeding, apparently either a levée, or, more likely, a consecration
of priests. An old bishop wearing a large mitre sat on his throne,
and one after another young men ascended and knelt before him, when
he placed his paternal hands on the head of each successively, and
apparently kissed him. The string of those who thus went up for
consecration seemed, like Paddy’s rope, to have had the other end cut
off—we thought it would never terminate. But what struck me much was
the remarkable want of intelligence in the faces of the old priests,
particularly those who wore the grandest dresses; they had such a
stupid, stolid look, reminding one very much of a ‘donnered auld
Hieland porter.’ After witnessing enough of this ceremony, we ascended
the stair leading to the summit, admission to which costs a small fee.
The cathedral is 360 feet high, if not higher to the topmost point,
for here also authorities differ; but the point I reached might not
exceed 300 feet, and, if I am not mistaken, there did not seem to be
open access to the public to a higher elevation. There are many breaks
of the ascent by the way, where one can halt and look around and have a
near view of the sculpture, which is by no means coarsely executed; the
figures, however, upon the top of these long needle–shaped pinnacles
convey a nervous dread of their stability, though, no doubt, securely
fastened. About many of them lightning conductors are placed, without
which they might only be points of attraction for the electric fluid.
The roof of the building is composed of slabs of white marble in neat
layers or courses overlapping each other upon a slope of moderate
angle, giving a remarkably clean finish to the whole. It was glorious
to think of this being a work of man. One could envy the feelings of
the architect who had the honour to design and commence it, but did
not live to see it completed. It was begun in 1385; the main body was
finished thirty–three years later, but the central spire not till the
year 1440. It may be said, therefore, that it is 450 years old, and
yet it has such a freshness about it that one could readily suppose it
is hardly a generation old. They are, however, always making additions
to and repairing it. Standing upon the high tower, and surrounded by a
forest of marble pinnacles and statues, and by rich sculpture at every
point, the eye is yet attracted to the distant view from the summit,
which is very magnificent. The country, which for miles from Milan is
very flat but verdant, lies spread out in panorama, from Turin, 80
miles distant, to Venice, 150 miles off; but Venice, at least, is too
distant to be visible, and I doubt if Turin, even by aid of a glass,
can be descried. Right in front to the north, and thence west and east,
within a radius of from 80 to 100 miles, the grand mountain ranges of
Switzerland lie. We saw some of the snowy peaks, but unfortunately the
sky was clouded, and the view of most of them was obscured. But we took
note of where Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, and other old
friends might have been seen on a clear day, though it would require a
good telescope to distinguish the different mountain celebrities. The
Italian lakes are, with the exception of Lake Garda, between 30 and 40
miles distant, but, shut in by the mountains, they are not visible,
although we imagined we could make out their situation. The city of
Milan lay compactly spread out all around just under us, the cathedral
standing very much in the centre of all.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were fortunate in getting a tolerably clear day for this ascent. I
had intended to go up again on the following Monday, but found it too
cloudy to be of any use. Another rather interesting sight, however,
was in progress that day within the church; for an immense number of
young children—boys and girls—were all seated in long rows round a
vacant space, wherein were priests with candles, and an archbishop or
some other dignitary, who was going round them. The girls were all
dressed in white with white veils, the boys in their best attire,
many of them with white ties and some with white waistcoats. The
children seemed to be from seven to fifteen years of age, and by all
it was evidently regarded as a grand gala–day—something like a public
school examination–day in Scotland, before breaking up for the summer
holidays. They were perhaps receiving confirmation. The procession of
priests stopped at each child in rotation. The old bishop performed
motions with his hands over each—I suppose making the form of the cross
over them, and mumbling something inaudibly. It must have taken a long
time so to go over them all, as there were several hundreds.

       *       *       *       *       *

The people of Milan have wisely left a large vacant space or piazza in
front of the cathedral, upon its west side, so that one can admire,
without intervening interruption, its beauty from a sufficient
distance. On the south side of the piazza, or rather of the cathedral,
the Royal Palace, a plain building, is situated. The piazza itself
is surrounded on three sides by new and very handsome commercial
buildings, which are quite an ornament to the place; and out of it,
upon the north side, there has been built, at an expense of no less
than £320,000, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele—a splendid arcade, or
rather street or streets of stone buildings, laid out in the shape
of a cross, covered over by an iron and glass vaulted roof, upon the
Crystal Palace model. The main gallery is nearly 1000 feet long, about
50 feet wide, and 94 feet high; and it is occupied in the lower floor
by shops, and the upper floors apparently by warehouses or other
places of business, the façades being of an elegant style adorned by
sculpture. The central dome is particularly graceful, and at night is
lighted up by a circle of gas jets placed round the top. These, with
the other lights, produce a most brilliant effect, and it is scarcely
surprising to find that in the evening the gallery is crowded by
the townspeople and strangers, so that passage through it is rather
difficult. This gallery—really the most perfect thing of the kind I
have seen anywhere—leads out at the other end to another piazza, in
the centre of which a very fine marble monument to Leonardo da Vinci
has been erected. He stands surrounded by four of his pupils, all of
white marble. In another part of the town is the famous picture by that
artist of the Last Supper, a fresco which is almost obliterated. The
charge for admission to see this celebrated work is at the exorbitant
rate of 1 franc per person.

There may be seen gratuitously on the streets of Milan a picture of a
different kind in the elaborately made–up head–dress of the women. In
a pad of hair at the back of the head a dozen or two of long pins, of
more or less magnificence, are stuck, in arrangements to suit the fancy
of the wearer, but most commonly in a fan shape. It is not for man to
pry into the hidden mysteries of the toilet, but it seems scarcely
possible for any woman to effect this elaborate tire unaided, nor is
it probable that the effect is achieved by a daily effort. The amount
of nightly torture by acupressure to which the Milanese women may
therefore subject themselves, in obedience to a law of fashion, is not
agreeable to contemplate. We can only be grateful.

       *       *       *       *       *

In order to see a little of the town, we took a carriage one afternoon
and drove out in the direction of the Piazza d’Armi, a large open
space about 2000 feet square, outside the inhabited part of the city.
The castle or barracks occupies one side of the square. The noble
Arco della Pace, begun by Napoleon in 1804 as a termination to the
Simplon route, faces the castle on the west side. It is of the same
character as the triumphal arches of the Tuileries at Paris, and the
Piazza Cavour at Florence, and is a beautiful three–arched gateway of
white marble, Corinthian columns supporting an entablature, on the top
of which a hero drives six fiery horses abreast, in utmost peril to
himself and them (were they living), while a man on horseback at each
of the four top corners, in equal peril and in violent action, holds up
a conqueror’s wreath. These figures, being in bronze, will not, it is
supposed, readily commit an act of self–destruction.

On the north side of the piazza there is a large, modern, oval
amphitheatre of wood, and without cover, within which races are held,
and capable of accommodating 30,000 spectators.

From the piazza we proceeded to visit some of the churches, and _inter
alia_ the church of San Ambrogio, founded by Saint Ambrose in the
fourth century. It is entered by passing through a large arcaded
court or _atrium_ in front, dating back a thousand years. The church,
associated with various events in history, is ancient evidently, and
peculiar in its interesting decoration, but not to be compared with
that of San Zeno in Verona. On Sundays mass is celebrated, accompanied
by the old Ambrogian music, but this we did not hear. The church of San
Lorenzo was not far off—also a very ancient building, said, in part at
least, to have been built in the fourth century. It is octagonal in
form and surmounted by a dome. A colonnade of sixteen large Corinthian
columns stands close by, and is thought to have formed part of a Roman
building or temple, of which the church may at first have been also a
part. All the churches, at the time of our visit, were being decorated
for Trinity Sunday.

       *       *       *       *       *

The picture gallery (the Pinacoteca) was unfortunately closed while
we were in Milan, so that we missed seeing its frescoes and examples
of the great masters. There is apparently not much more to be seen in
Milan than what I have mentioned; but it contains some good streets and
a public park—not of great extent—embracing within it in a zoological
garden a small and not very valuable collection of animals. This park
is no doubt a very nice retreat in hot weather. We spent an hour in
it one afternoon, and while there witnessed a very novel method of
watering the road. Attached to a water–barrel drawn on a cart, was
a flexible pipe about five or six feet long and about six inches in
diameter, with a bulb at the end perforated with holes. A man walked
behind with a rope attached to the bulb, by which he jerked it about so
as to spread the water from side to side all across the road. This man,
who was endowed with a pair of five–o’clock legs, was, notwithstanding
his deformity,—which seemed, indeed, to contribute to his power of
dispersing the water,—somewhat of a wag, and with a wicked leer
quietly contrived to bestow an amicable sprinkling on the laughing
nurserymaids as he passed. The method of watering, however, was both
novel and ingenious, and answered its purpose remarkably well. But
there was little dust to lay in this rainy quarter; and indeed it never
was, while we were in Milan, particularly hot, and perhaps it never is;
while in winter–time, especially in December, it is sometimes a place
of excessive cold.[43]


ITALIAN LAKES.

We left Milan for Baveno on Monday, 28th May, at noon. It was a slow
train to Arona, where passengers embark on board the steamer on Lago
Maggiore. Unfortunately, just before arrival at Arona, the rain began
to fall heavily, so that we not only had to walk on board in the rain,
but we did not see the lake to advantage. For although the rain shortly
ceased, the clouds remained and no sunshine succeeded, and a haze hung
over the lake, which then assumed very much the appearance of one
of our Highland lochs in similar condition, except for the Italian
character and bright colouring of the houses on the margin. On a sunny
day the lake would, no doubt, wear a different aspect. Fortunately
it continued fair till we got housed in the large, comfortable Hotel
Belle Vue at Baveno, which, lying at the point of a jutting promontory
upon the border of the lake, looks out right upon it. Soon afterwards,
however, the rain again began, and it fell in torrents, to our great
disappointment, and continued almost without intermission till the
Friday afternoon, when it cleared up, and in the evening of that day
we had a beautiful sunset, with the sun shining brightly upon the
Simplon, to see which effect all the people in the hotel turned out
upon a balcony commanding it. In consequence of the clouds we hardly
ever could see across the lake, so much so that I could only finish on
the Friday evening a sketch of it which I began on the Monday afternoon
upon arrival, the mountains being invisible or under a gloomy pall
nearly the whole intervening time. When we could catch the view it was
very beautiful. The lake is here just sufficiently broad to form a
fine picture, the bold, well–marked, conical mountains on the other or
east side,—one of the peaks, I believe, rising to about 6000 feet,—the
neighbouring town of Pallanza on the north, and the mountains behind
it composing the background to the lake, studded by the charming
Borromean Islands, lying so picturesquely near, with their curious
houses and their trees; Isola Bella, with its strange gardens, being
an especial feature. These islands are the great attraction to Baveno;
but unfortunately we had not the opportunity of seeing them, except
from the steamboat in passing, as the days were never fair sufficiently
long to permit of our venturing in a boat to land upon them. If there
be anything else to see in the neighbourhood of Baveno, as doubtless
there was, we had little means of becoming acquainted with it, for
usually upon venturing out for a walk we were speedily driven back
again by warning drops. The town itself is a mere village, although
the houses are capacious—bulky, barrack–looking—and the church on the
slope above is large, with a high, square, ugly campanile. Luckily, the
windows of our rooms, as well as of the public rooms, all looked over
the lake; and there was a library of books for visitors’ use, which,
in this unpropitious condition of the atmosphere, received marked
attention from all; but it was the dreariest time we had spent since we
left home, reminding us rather too much of Loch Lomond in its normal
condition.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the Saturday morning came with bright sunshine we were glad to
avail ourselves of it, lest we might become prisoners for another week,
and to be off accordingly for Lugano, which is situated on a portion of
outlying Swiss territory overlapping Italy, so that one has to cross
an odd nook of Switzerland to get from Maggiore to Lake Como. The trip
in the steamboat is pleasant, and in crossing from Baveno to Pallanza,
which is probably about three miles distant by water, we had the good
fortune to see both the Simplon and Monte Rosa through a gap in the
mountains—the latter raising its snowy head in the distance. Pallanza
is a place which some people prefer to Baveno for stopping at in order
to see Lago Maggiore. It is much more of a town, and, commanding the
view of Monte Rosa, has a finer outlook, while it is not very much
farther from Isola Bella and the other islands, a pull to which must
be most enjoyable. From Pallanza the steamer crossed to the other
side of the lake, then went up to Luino, where we disembarked, and
on our leaving it proceeded to the northern extremity with those _en
route_ for the St. Gothard Pass. It was a glorious sail in the bright
sunshine, with Monte Rosa, the Simplon, and also, in the upper portion,
St. Gothard, all appearing snow–clad in view. The porter of the hotel
had asked us to allow him to telegraph for a carriage to be waiting us
at Luino, and willing to oblige him we consented, but we should have
been better to have chosen one for ourselves upon arrival. However, it
was a lovely drive of above two hours and a half to Lugano, part of
the way being by the banks of a river, which was greatly swollen by
the five days’ previous rain. The Hotel du Parc at Lugano is nicely
situated near the lake at the entrance to the town, and has a small
garden attached to it. It was formerly a monastery, and is built as a
large square house, with a courtyard in the middle. Bædeker recommends
Lugano as a very pleasant place for a lengthened stay; and it may be
so, but we were anxious to get on to Lake Como to rest there, and
remained only three nights.

Hot sunny weather succeeded the week of rain, so that we enjoyed walks
by the banks of the gleaming lake, plucking the wild–flowers, which
were abundant, though not of many kinds. The town of Lugano looks
very well in the distance—a mile off—at the head or north end of the
lake, but it is not particularly enticing in itself, and it lies too
much on the level of the water, so that the road was, when we arrived,
half covered, the lake having, in consequence of the continued rain,
overflowed its banks. The Lake of Lugano looks bold, and in a storm
would look angry, from the fact that except at the north end the
mountains appear to dip almost sheer down upon it. I believe the sail
from the other end to Lugano (which is what those who purchase circular
tickets from Milan obtain a coupon for) is very grand, but a gentleman
I subsequently met told me he had experienced a terrific storm upon it,
in which the vessel was in the greatest danger, as the sailors could
not see where they were being driven to, by reason of a dense fog.

Upon the Monday we walked in a broiling sun, from which we could not
always obtain shelter, about two miles up the road leading to the top
of San Salvatore, which, 3000 feet high, is the great ascent here, and
to those in good health and active, the exercise is rewarded by an
extensive prospect, while a hotel offers refreshment on the summit.
Choosing shady places where to rest, we spent a charming day upon this
road, which everywhere commanded fine views, particularly down upon the
lake and up to the snowy mountains of the St. Gothard range.

In the old church adjoining the hotel there are three frescoes by
Luini, a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci. The principal fresco, that
of the Crucifixion, is a curious large picture, containing within
it, expressively depicted and cleverly arranged, all the different
scenes connected with the death of our Saviour, from His trial to His
ascension. But the three crosses are lengthened to what represents 20
feet at least, in order to admit of use being made of the background.
Many angels are ministering to our Lord, while one angel is on the
cross of the repentant thief, and a devil crawling along the other
cross has charge of his sinful fellow. A skull and cross–bones at
the foot of the central cross indicate the place to be Golgotha. The
picture is quite a study.

       *       *       *       *       *

We left Lugano for Bellaggio on the Monday morning by steamer for
Porlezza, at the east end of the lake, about ten miles distant.
Before reaching it we crossed the invisible line which here separates
Italy from Switzerland, and the steamer was boarded by an Italian
custom–house officer. Upon arrival at Porlezza our luggage underwent
the formality of examination, and we the reality of detention for
a considerable time until the examination was concluded. From this
town to Menaggio, on Lake Como, the drive was in an omnibus, and we
regretted much afterwards not having had a carriage to ourselves,
as we could see little from the omnibus windows. The distance is
about six or seven miles, and inclines gradually to the shoulder of
a hill overlooking Lake Como; and in such a bright, sunny day as we
were favoured with, the drive in an open carriage would have been
delightful, especially on approaching Lake Como from the high ground,
where it is seen lying magnificently below. One advantage of a private
carriage is that it may be stopped at the will of the party, and the
scene viewed at leisure. Coach and omnibus fares here were quite after
Highland rates. At Menaggio, finding the steamboat would not arrive
for an hour and a half, we took a boat (charge, 3 fr.), and were in
three–quarters of an hour rowed across the lake to the Hotel Grand
Bretagne, which is nicely situated away to the south end of Bellaggio,
and outside the small town. It was hot, broiling sunshine, and this,
our first experience of a boat upon Como, was exceedingly charming.
Blinds were all down, and nobody observed our arrival, so our boatman
had to shout from the quay across the garden to the hotel porter.
We found very comfortable quarters in this hotel, which is a large,
long building, with many bedrooms looking to the lake; for, if I am
not mistaken, there were upwards of 100 bedroom windows overlooking
it. The ground floor is entirely occupied by a suite of public rooms,
terminating at one end in a large, airy dining–hall, and on the other
in a superb, similarly large drawing–room, both with suitably lofty
ceilings. Other public rooms on this floor are occupied as _salles à
manger_ and _salons de conversation_, _de concert et de lecture_, _de
billiard_, etc. In one of the reading–rooms there was a small library
for the use of the visitors. I do not think we had found anywhere such
ample public accommodation within doors, while in front a large garden
extended the whole length of the house, reaching up into grounds and a
wood behind, with shady seats under the trees, where one could sit and
read, or look out upon the lovely views, or watch the passing steamers
and pleasure–boats, or observe the countless green lizards which at
Bellaggio, as elsewhere in these warm regions, were constantly making
rapid runs over the paths.

[Illustration: BELLAGGIO.—LAKE COMO.]

Here we remained for about a fortnight, resting and enjoying our rest.
From our windows we looked across to lofty mountains on the opposite
shore, with Cadenabbia and Menaggio lying at their foot, while away to
the north end of the lake a range of snowy peaks rose as if barricading
exit in that direction, and forming a fine, important feature in
the landscape. The Lake of Como is in fact completely hemmed in by
high, steep, bare mountains, which fall with considerable abruptness
down upon it, leaving but a small border of land for cultivation
and habitation. The principal mountain opposite Bellaggio is San
Crucione, which rises to a sharp peak, taking six or seven hours to
ascend; but it is stated to command striking views of the snowy Alps,
and especially of the Monte Rosa chain, ‘une armée de géants.’ The
mountain itself is no doubt a study for the geologist, as it offers
a most extraordinary exhibition of upheaval of strata, the face of
it showing in a great waving line, commencing near the margin of the
lake and sloping up the face to near the top, a huge stratum of rock,
which in the distance appears to be of sandstone, but more likely is of
limestone formation, uplifted probably nearly 3000 feet.

The borders of Lake Como are fringed with trees, in some places a few
hundred feet up, and dotted with those small, picturesque Italian
villages, each with its church and campanile, which always give such a
charm to the landscape.

       *       *       *       *       *

The town of Bellaggio is small but rather curious. Where it borders
the lake an arcade has been formed, with terraces projecting from the
houses and covering the roadway. In this arcade and elsewhere a few
small shops offer articles for sale, and particularly small things in
olive wood, the manufacture of which is an industry of the place. The
wood is more darkly marked than at Sorrento or in the south of France,
sometimes to the extent of being blotchy. Photographs, principally of
the lake scenes and sculptures in the neighbourhood, can be procured,
but, though good, they are dear for Italy.

Half–way up the hill at the foot of which Bellaggio stands, reached
by a steep road, is the Villa Serbelloni. This is now a dependance of
the ‘Grande Bretagne,’ and in the season is said to be always full.
It is a _pension_ for protracted stay, not for a passing night. What
the comforts of the house itself may be, whether the _pension_ be good
or not, I do not know; but the house is most charmingly situated,
surrounded by the extensive grounds of the place, nicely laid out with
long terrace walks winding up the hill, crowned on the top by the ruin
of what was probably an old castle. The hill is covered with trees,
affording delicious shade from the sun, while the roses climb about
them to a height of 50 or 60 feet, and with the other flowers make it
a sort of enchanted land. From the top of the hill, views are had all
round and up the lake to the snowy mountains of the Splugen Pass, and
down the lake, which here is forked, one prong running in the direction
of Como, and the other of Lecco.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was hot sunshine all the time we were at Bellaggio, diversified by
two grand thunderstorms, accompanied by vivid flashes of lightning,
sheet and forked, one of which flashes set fire to a tree or a church
on the opposite shore. It was a dreamy life, too hot to do very much;
but there was always a little excitement at the departure and arrival
of the steamboats, which go up and down the lake, and to and from
Lecco, several times a day; and if we had no better amusement, it was
great fun to feed the fishes abounding in the lake; the water being
so clear one could see their every motion, and watch the caution with
which, proportioned to their age and consequent experience, they would
approach the bread. When a piece was thrown in, there would be a
general assembly to the spot. The young ones would at once dart at it,
trying to seize it, but, being much too big for their little mouths,
ineffectually. Then, after a little, larger ones would come snuffing at
it without touching; by and by, perceiving no symptom of hook or line,
would get bolder, and, thinking all safe, would venture to the attack.
Then still larger ones would come and swim in large circles round and
round it, thinking, thinking, till possibly the piece was gobbled up by
younger ones before their thoughts were matured. But generally there
would be quite a scramble and a splutter, twenty fishes together, after
a single piece, which got less and less by successive dabs, till a big
fellow made a dart and swallowed it whole. But sometimes the piece was
too large for even his throat; it was speedily disgorged, and then
another scramble took place, till it wholly disappeared among them.

       *       *       *       *       *

A charming variety in our life was to take one of the small
pleasure–boats, always lying at the hotel quay for engagement, and pull
about on the lake, although at noon it was fully too hot even for that.
Still we had several delightful sails upon the lake. One of these was
across to the Villa Carlotta. This residence contains some exquisite
sculptures, particularly the ‘Cupid and Psyche’ by Canova, which, by
means of photographs, and sometimes in alabaster copies, is so well
known. Also ‘Innocence,’ a winged youth or maiden holding a pair of
doves, by Bien Aimé; and a large frieze, with reliefs, by Thorwaldsen,
which cost £15,000. The hall in which this beautiful collection of
sculptures is placed does not seem worthy of it. It looks rather like a
receptacle or storage room till the proper hall be ready; but one would
almost wish that such gems of art could be seen in a less inaccessible
place. The grounds of the villa are delightful; the vegetation is
quite tropical, while the views are superb, especially looking across
to Bellaggio and the lofty mountains bordering the other side of Lake
Lecco, which tower like a huge wall of rock behind the Serbelloni Hill.
Returning to our boat, we rowed round the coast, which contains very
many luxuriant spots; one of the most lovely of these was a little
summer–house by the banks of the lake, filled with graceful drooping
acacias and brilliant summer flowers—one of those ‘juicy bits’ which
artists so much prize.

On another occasion we visited the Villa Melzi, lying upon the
Bellaggio side. It contains some good sculptures, but not equal
to those in the Villa Carlotta. The gardens, however, were
fascinating—shady walks with sloping grass banks, lofty trees, and all
by the margin of the smiling lake. One could hardly imagine a more
romantic residence, but the proprietor occupies it only two months
in the year—September and October. We did long for the power of
transplanting such places, with all their sunshine and clear blue sky,
to our native land.

       *       *       *       *       *

The sail in the steamboat to Como takes about two hours, and is a very
charming excursion. The lake winds about among the mountains, and the
boat, crossing from side to side, touches every now and then at one of
those picturesque Italian villages which adorn the lake and form such
admirable subjects for the painter’s brush. At the south end, where
the town of Como lies, the mountains dwindle down to insignificant
hills, and the town is built for the most part on a large level plain,
which probably has been gained from the lake by deposit. The town is
one of some size, its principal ornament being the cathedral, a large
and imposing church with a dome built of white marble, and finely
ornamented within by sculpture. This and the adjoining Broletto, or
Town Hall, built in alternate courses of black and white marble, with
an open arcade below, and an old tower by its side, are, with the
cathedral, the attractions of the ancient city of Como.

The sail in the other direction, towards the snowy mountains, is much
grander, and also takes about two hours, stopping at Colico. The sail
upon Lake Lecco we did not take.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was too hot to walk to any distance, but one forenoon two of us
ventured exploringly as far as St. Giovanni, a small fishing village
with two churches, about a mile or more to the south of Bellaggio. Here
quantities of the fish caught in the lake by means of nets were hanging
up to dry and be baked in the sun. On our way we passed a monument
in course of erection to some Principe, whose name I did not gather,
curiously composed of a combination of red brick, granite, and marble;
and not far off the ruins of a church, whose tall square campanile,
remaining standing, was an object in the landscape.

In one of our walks, we found lying on the road one after another three
small snakes, which had been killed and left there. They were probably
about 15 inches in length and ⅝ths of an inch thick.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had a continuance of hot weather, and in those glorious days this
was generally the even tenor of our way. In the early morning, too soon
to rise and dress, but tempted to look out at window, we could see
that the sun was illuminating the snowy peaks of the Splugen range,
and casting a brilliant light on San Crucione and all the hills on
that, the other side of the lake. By nine o’clock the sun had obtained
power; but it was a great joy to go out after breakfast and stroll
under the shade of the trees by the banks of the limpid blue water, and
look across its lustrous expanse to the opposite shore, fringed with
verdure, out of which rose the giant mountains circling the lake, and
over all to the clear blue Italian sky, making, with the broad snowy
range of peaks in the north, one of the loveliest pictures we had seen
in Italy. Then, when the sun came round to the south, the air, heated
as by a furnace, trembled with the sultry glow, and all blinds were
drawn down, and the houses looked asleep. Everything was still, save
when at given hours the steamboat paddles beat upon the water, or the
bell announced arrival or departure. We would return to the hotel
for shade and coolness, have lunch, read our letters or answer them,
dip into the newspapers, say good–bye to those who were leaving, or
sometimes be gladdened by meeting old travelling friends just come;
or, failing any more important occupation, take up a book and withdraw
to a sofa in the great cool _salon_, to obtain a quiet read. Then in
time the dressing–bell would ring, and we would shortly after assemble
at dinner, and enjoy pleasant intercourse with those around. Dinner
over, some of the visitors, especially among those just arrived, would
embark in pleasure–boats upon the lake; and others (ladies throwing a
shawl over the shoulders, and a hat upon the head) would sit out in
the garden a good while, conversing and looking upon the fair prospect
and the boats gliding along, their oars gently touching and turning
the silver water and leaving a ripple behind; and, by and by, the
sun would retire and set behind the mountains; and though the lesser
orb, being then in its infancy, could not afford us the resplendent
spectacle of full moon on the lake, the stars were on the _qui vive_,
and, stealthily sending their pale twinkling scouts to peep timidly
out and reconnoitre, would all, the moment the enemy disappeared, with
bold face rise, each in its appointed position, and, as they slowly and
silently, but steadily, pursued the sun in his flight, hang out their
far–shining lamps, radiant in green and gold, to light up the beauteous
scene. The very rapture of the frogs, as they maintained, agreeably to
themselves, an incessant ‘wrack–wrack,’ seemed not out of place; while
the glow–worm, with greater humanity, and in greater keeping with all
around, would turn upon the garden paths its glittering tail. But as
it became dark, and visitors had one by one retreated to the house, it
would happen that either from our shore or from the Cadenabbia shore,
the hotelkeepers began to burn coloured lights, ignite fireworks, and
send rockets blazing and bursting high up into the air; and, this show
being over, it was time to retire to rest, and, if the heat would admit
of sleep, perchance to repeat our experience of the day in visions of
the night, and wake on the morrow for another such day. And so, like
many others similarly placed, we dreamed away this blissful fortnight.

       *       *       *       *       *

But we were now in the middle of June, and the season seemed to be
drawing to a close, and probably a month later, when the sun’s heat
would be intolerable, Bellaggio might become altogether deserted. The
numbers at the hotel lessened day by day, so that for a week I was at
the head of the table as the oldest inhabitant. It was warning we must
move on. We must leave this land of Beulah; bid adieu for a time to the
sunny soil and sky of Italy, where we had now spent nearly four months,
and proceed to the cooler regions of Switzerland by the neighbouring
Splugen Pass.



SWITZERLAND—FRANCE.



XVII.

_THE SPLUGEN PASS, SWITZERLAND._


THE SPLUGEN PASS.

VETTURINI are always hanging about the hotels at Bellaggio, to be
engaged either by the landlords or directly by travellers, although
their usual course is to refer the inquirer to the landlord, to
arrange with whom no doubt they have an understanding. But one
labours under the disadvantage, by hiring at Bellaggio, of not seeing
either the carriage or the cattle which are to convey you over the
mountain—perhaps, too, in a thunderstorm. Therefore, and because of
the high charge at the hotels, I took, before travelling, the steamer
to Colico at the head of the lake, and arranged for a carriage thence
to be waiting the arrival of the boat on the following Monday; and an
English gentleman and his wife agreed to accompany us.

       *       *       *       *       *

Monday proved a fine day, without too much sun, and we left Bellaggio
by steamer at half–past ten with not a little regret. The sail up the
lake, amongst the bold mountains with which it is enclosed, and by
the nine little Italian villages on its margin, to visit which the
steamer crosses from side to side, giving thus alternately the view
from each side at different points, is very enjoyable, although it
was trying to think we were so soon to bid adieu to it all. At Colico
the mountains are rugged and bare, and the lake gets very marshy, so
that the locality is unhealthy. Here the carriage was ready for us, and
it took about three hours’ drive to reach Chiavenna, the road winding
for a long way by the Lagunes of the lake. Upon leaving Colico we were
immediately among the mountains, the road gradually ascending. The
drive was beautiful, but extremely dusty.

Chiavenna is an Italian and old Roman village town about 1100 feet
above the level of the sea, very picturesquely buried among the bluff
high mountains which closely hem it in on every side, and upon the
heights of some of which patches of snow were visible in many places.
It lies at the foot of the Splugen Pass, and on the river Maira, which,
crossed by a good stone bridge, pours a torrent of water down from the
snowy heights. We had time, both before dinner and after, to stroll
about and see the little that was to be seen. Chiavenna is celebrated
for its beer, and we thought it our duty to try it as the wine of the
country, expecting to get it in perfection, but found it very flat. We
had had it better at Bellaggio.

       *       *       *       *       *

Soon after seven o’clock the following morning, we left the hotel,
and had three hours of a most laborious ascent to Campo Dolcino,
only eight miles distant. The three horses with which we started,
afterwards supplemented by a fourth, toiled up innumerable zigzags,
getting higher and higher at every turn, but making very little onward
progress; so that generally some of us would get out of the carriage,
and by climbing up at the end of one zigzag to the end of the next,
meet its slow arrival there. The distant views as we proceeded were
fine, and improved the higher we mounted; while in the narrow valley
beneath,—farther and farther beneath as we got higher and higher,—the
river was seen wending its foamy course, augmented at little intervals
by every fresh rivulet which rushed to embrace it from the lovely
waterfalls descending in long, silver–grey, horsetail streams from
the mountains opposite, in bright white contrast with the brown rocks
over which they dashed and fell. There is not much to be seen at
Campo Dolcino. It is a small village in a bleak–looking district;
but, stopping for three hours to rest the horses, look about, and
obtain lunch at the little inn, we proceeded on our way up the pass.
Soon afterwards we reached the Madesimo waterfall, which is near to
the road; and all turned out to see this famous cascade from a small
stone gallery above it, whence the water is observed rolling over and
tumbling and sinking in one grand heap 700 feet down, scattering, by
the mere force of the descent, into a cloud of spray below. Little by
little we continued ascending, passing in the way through three long
tunnels (one of them 1530 feet in length), built to protect from the
avalanches, which at certain seasons would otherwise bury the road; and
at last we reached the region of perpetual snow, where the inaccessible
Alpine roses bloom, and amidst blue gentians springing from the banks
on the roadside. Mile after mile we passed along the road cut through
the snow, not pure or clean, standing consolidated on each side, like
the Red Sea when the Israelites passed over its channel and the waters
were divided and became ‘a wall unto them on their right hand and on
their left;’ very possibly by the action of frost upon the sea as it
fled from the pressure of the fierce east wind which made the sea dry
land. But though there was no fear of our experiencing the fate of
Pharaoh’s host, our walls were slowly melting away in little trickling
streamlets at every part, under the influence of the hot sun, no doubt
to be made good again by a snowstorm from the next moisture in the air.
As we approached the top of the pass, the scene became wild and dreary.
Immense fields of snow lay spread out in a melting condition, sending
down innumerable streams, all converging on the river which descends
to Chiavenna, and by whose side, though generally at a great elevation
above, our road had all along lain, the large roaring torrent at
Chiavenna being here but a small turbid stream. But the cold–looking,
slushy snow–field afforded an admirable notion of how these rivers are
fed.

       *       *       *       *       *

We reached the summit, which is 6945 feet high, and is surrounded
by lofty mountains, one of them 9925 feet, and another 10,748 feet
high, covered with their white mantle, and, by an optical illusion,
looking nearer and lower than they really were. The feeling (perhaps
arising out of our having been so lately in the midst of all that was
suggestive of heat) was strange upon finding ourselves in the vicinity
of such cold peaks, and very much as if we had been suddenly tumbled
into the arctic regions—desolate, barren, impassable retreats for man,
and yet not altogether so; for the boundary line between Switzerland
and Italy lies at the top of the pass, and not far below this great
altitude the Italian _douane_ station has been built. One would imagine
the position hardly tenable by the poor custom–house men in winter
months. The traveller into Switzerland, however, is not troubled by any
_douanier_.

Here two of the horses were liberated, and dashing down with the
remaining two along many zigzags, we gradually came in sight of the
village of Splugen, 2200 feet below, and about five miles distant from
the summit, passing by on the way a river which gradually got larger
and larger, and proved to be the source, or one of the sources, of the
Rhine. We arrived about half–past five, making it a journey of fully
ten hours to traverse a distance, between Chiavenna and Splugen, at
least as the crow flies, of not more than sixteen miles.


SWITZERLAND.

We remained in Switzerland from the 19th June to the 11th September,
nearly three months; and as I wish to notice our movements in it, for
the most part in well–beaten paths, merely by way of connection, I
shall do so very briefly. We had decided to spend another winter in the
Riviera, and with a view to this to pass the remainder of the summer
in Switzerland, and thereafter cross over France to Pau and Biarritz,
to spend there the period intervening, till it should be time to move
onwards to Mentone.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Swiss village of Splugen has a southern exposure, and lies very
picturesquely with its church on the slope and top of a little
eminence, at an altitude of 4757 feet above the sea, overlooking a
valley out of which lofty mountains raise their heads, one of them
to the north behind the village itself. Pine forests are planted on
the slopes, affording, no doubt, a little shelter from the cold north
winds. Like all such places, it looks best at a little distance; and,
approaching it from the opposite hill, it seemed a pretty village of
wooden houses, built in the Swiss chalet style, and therefore quite
a change from the Italian houses to which our eyes had been for the
last few months accustomed. The accommodation was primitive. We were
lodged in a large wooden hotel. The temperature, too, and the aspect
of everything was changed. We had bidden adieu to the heat of Italy,
and found it much colder upon the northern side of the mountains.
This produced an accident which was annoying to me, and created a
good deal of after trouble, as in winding up my watch at night the
chain gave way, I presume, owing to the jump from great heat to frosty
cold to which it had been subjected. The attempt I afterwards made
in Switzerland to get it repaired only made matters worse, and the
ultimate repair at home costly. One would almost require to carry a
spare watch in travelling among these localities. We had time to see
a little of Splugen in the evening. The fields were literally covered
with bright flowers, tempting us to pluck many handfuls. Although
standing so high, the valley does not give one the impression of its
great elevation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before eight o’clock next morning, we started for Coire. Down and
down we drove by the banks of the roaring and foaming Rhine, the road
and river being beautifully wooded. The drive was most charming. At
every mile the river got larger, while the mountains reared their
heads above, to heights varying from 8,000 to 11,000 feet. In about
two hours’ time we reached the Via Mala, where the mountains or rocks
converge, and the river dashes far below, in some places nearly hidden
by the pines thickly set upon the precipitous banks, wherever they can
obtain a footing. At one time the pass may have been a dangerous one;
but now, although it be still impressive, the road is good, and there
is nothing to fear, notwithstanding the cliffs rise perpendicularly to
a great height, higher even than they appear to do. Yet, were a mass
of rock to loosen and fall, and block up the road or tear it away, it
would be decidedly awkward for persons passing. The gorge, at which you
look straight up and straight down, is well seen from a bridge, where
a man was ready to plump a big stone into the torrent far down in the
depths below. Everybody walks through the pass; the most indifferent to
grand effects could hardly sit still in his carriage. I suppose it is
possible to get to some safe place near the water, as photographs have
been taken looking up to the bridge; and so seen, it appears perched
high above, over steep and even impending rocks, which, save for a tree
here and there, are smooth and bare, and form a narrow, ugly, perilous
cleft, through which the river flows at the bottom.

Emerging from the pass, and just out of it, we reached the clean and
tidy but shadeless village of Thusis, which lay basking in the hot sun,
though not so hot as we had had it at Lake Como. There is a good hotel
here, but one might well dispense in such places with men–waiters,
black coats, and white ties. From the garden of the hotel, an excellent
view is had of the entrance to the pass. Here we rested two and a half
hours, and then drove on to Coire by the banks of the Rhine, looking up
to the lofty mountains with their snowy tops, and across a well–wooded
landscape. At Coire there is a railway to Zurich, by which we had
intended to proceed; but, arranging with the driver, he took us on to
Ragatz, about two hours farther, where we arrived at half–past five,
the last half hour being in a thunderstorm. It had been down hill
the whole way since we left Splugen in the morning, and the horses,
notwithstanding the fatigues of the preceding day, went briskly along,
and apparently returned next morning; for it is not the habit of the
owners of these Swiss conveyances, if they can help it, to give their
horses a day’s rest after excessive fatigue. We enjoyed our three days’
drive amazingly, through scenery alternately grand, wild and desolate,
or beautiful and romantic. A more pleasant excursion could not be
planned; but to be enjoyed, it requires to be taken in the way we did.
One has not the same freedom in travelling by diligence, and besides it
goes on night and day, and passes through the best of the scenery in
the dark.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ragatz lies a little beyond the range of the usual tourists’ track, and
we had not ourselves visited it before. It is very charmingly situated,
at the entrance of the Gorge of Pfäffers, in a valley up from that of
the Rhine flow, and hemmed in by high, bold mountains, which, from
the Ragatz side, look like immense walls, on whose higher slopes some
patches of snow were then visible. The village is small and spotlessly
clean, externally at least, and the Hotel Quellenhoff, a large new
comfortable house, has grounds attached to it which afford pleasant
retreats and walks. It is, however, a somewhat noisy establishment,
being one of those Continental watering–places where a band of music,
paid for by a daily tax on each visitor, plays morning and night to the
accompaniment of out–door drinking. We found the house full of Germans,
and having one or two distinguished visitors, among whom were the King
of Saxony and Count Arnim. In the public breakfast room we found one
morning four Germans smoking at a table—a disgusting piece of rudeness
which is sometimes experienced in Switzerland. In the grounds there
are a kursaal, where the band plays, a newsroom, and a book–seller’s
stall—all under one roof; and in another neat range of buildings, shops
for the sale of Swiss and other articles, a fountain flowing with
Pfäffers water, and baths of the same.

       *       *       *       *       *

The walk up the Pfäffers Gorge is very interesting. Crossing a rustic
wooden bridge over a deep rapid torrent, not very wide, however, the
road at once begins to lead into a confined valley, the rocks or hills
on either side rising steeply, and leaving room only for the river
and the road by its side, with an occasional widening. It is well
wooded all along, the pine trees affording shelter to some extent
from the sun when it penetrates, as it does in certain positions. The
seclusion is alluring, but it is not altogether free from danger. At
one place my daughter ran up a bank, and came flying back to say that
she had found a snake moving in the grass at her feet. An older person,
less observant, would in all likelihood have trod upon it.[44] As we
proceeded, the mountains seemed to rise higher and higher overhead;
and, about two and a half miles from Ragatz, the rocks approach still
closer, and a large hotel, seemingly very much out of place, greets the
eye. Here tickets are procured for entrance to the gorge itself. It is
effected through the hotel to a wooden gallery resting on a ledge cut
out of the rock, which impends at a by no means assuring acute angle
immediately overhead, and even some way beyond the shaky platform.
Looking down the abyss, the water is seen below flowing still and deep
and fast through the narrow cleft; and this cleft rises high, as we can
see the rocks appearing to all but touch above, while one side inclines
to the other with an apparent appalling desire to embrace. It looks as
if an earthquake had split up the rock, and as if another shock might
at once and for ever close it up again. It is a damp, gloomy sort of
cavern, till one reaches the part where the hot spring escapes from
the rocks, one half of it flowing into the river in a huge spout, and
the remainder being carried in a long pipe to Ragatz to supply the
baths there. We entered by a door into a cave in the rock, a distance
of probably 50 or 60 feet, pitch dark, hot, and vaporous, where we had
given us a little of the hot water to drink, not disagreeable to the
taste. Afraid of chill, we left in time to get back to Ragatz ere the
road should be in shade.

       *       *       *       *       *

We should have stayed at Ragatz with pleasure for at least a week,
but, expecting letters at Lucerne, remained only three nights. Leaving
the hotel at half–past eight, we had a tedious journey, as we did not
arrive at Lucerne (only about 76 miles distant by rail) till four
o’clock, the railway passing through a very pretty country, well wooded
and watered, stopping at every station by the way, and for an hour at
the town of Zurich. Leaving in sunshine, we were again unfortunate
enough to arrive at Lucerne in heavy rain, which, with previous falls,
had caused the lake to overflow its banks.

We spent three nights at Lucerne, and had rain great part of the time.
We were fortunate, however, to obtain, on the Tuesday, a charming
sunny day to cross the lake and proceed by diligence to Interlachen by
the Brunig Pass. The steamboat left the quay at Lucerne at 10.10 for
Alpnacht, and we did not get to Interlachen till about 8 P.M., having
had, however, two long halts by the way to enable the passengers to
dine or obtain refreshment and to rest the horses. We had the interior
of the diligence to ourselves, and, though objecting at first to
the closeness, it afforded cover from the sun, then in full power.
The other passengers were accommodated in other and open carriages.
The sail and drive are both beautiful; the sunset upon the Jungfrau
awaiting our arrival was one of the finest we enjoyed while at
Interlachen, tinting the snow with a shining glow of bright red light,
which gradually left the lower parts till the shade ascended to the
summit; and then the whole mountain was as if dead, but it shortly
after returned to life in the like ruddy hue of the after–glow,—a
beautiful effect we did not often afterwards witness.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had several times visited Interlachen before. It was at this time
very empty. We had arrived in the German season, and there were few
but Germans there. The English do not generally begin to come to
Switzerland until the middle or end of July, when Interlachen becomes
crowded, and it is difficult to secure good accommodation. We found
little change in the place since we were last there (five years
previously), but the prices of the Swiss carvings on wood exhibited in
the shops had risen very considerably.

Interlachen, with which we had many associations, is a charming spot at
which to remain for some time, and I arranged for my family to stay at
the Jungfrau Hotel _en pension_, which they did for above two months,
and during part of this time I went home on a flying visit. It is an
admirable centre for excursions, while the place itself is, especially
in the height of the season, exceedingly attractive. The hotels are for
the most part situated on the north side of the high road conducting in
one direction to Thun and Berne, and in the other to Brienz, Meyringen,
and Lucerne, always full of life. Though the hotels are large, they
retreat from the road, and have not the towny look which large hotels
generally have. The trees, and the flowers, and the pretty chalets,
and the wood–carving shops, and the background of mountains—all confer
a rustic look, as seen from the highway, which is greatly enhanced
by the large open field so properly kept open upon the south side of
the road, lined by fine old trees, between which one catches sight
of the picturesque church and the equally picturesque houses at some
distance, and behind them the ranges of green mountains and the conical
tree–covered hill called the Jungfraublick; but beyond all, the grand
view of the majestic snow–clad Jungfrau itself, fifteen miles off, seen
at the termination of the magnificent vista afforded by the gap in
the mountains which lie between it and Interlachen; by a road through
which Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, the Wengern Alp, and the Murren are
reached—all glorious excursions.

Then there are the Lakes of Thun and Brienz, both affording delightful
steamboat trips, and in the locality round about innumerable walks.
However, like most places among the mountains, great changes in the
weather often take place, and frequent thunderstorms with drenching
rain, intermingled with glowing hot days, are experienced. We had a
fair share of both.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I thought to make a run to Scotland, I found that leaving by a
train to Berne at 9.50 A.M., and proceeding by Neufchatel and Dijon,
I could get to Paris by 5.35 next morning, stopping two hours by the
way at Berne. On the return journey, leaving Paris at 7.40 evening,
I did not get to Interlachen till near dinner–time next day, being
compelled to spend four hours again at Berne. These stoppages are
annoying to those who have been at Berne before, and, as a train leaves
just immediately antecedent to the arrival of the train from the north,
they might at least in that case easily be avoided. But probably the
intention is to compel a short stay at Berne.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had heard Chateau d’Œx highly spoken of as a pleasant, cool retreat,
where we might be invigorated by Highland breezes for the coming winter.

Having engaged a carriage for this rather long drive, we left
Interlachen on 28th August about 7.30 A.M., and had a splendid but
cruelly hot day. The distance, I should imagine, might possibly be
fifty miles, if so much; for certainly we did not go on an average at
a greater speed than five miles per hour,—considerable part of the way
being indeed just crawling up the hill. After leaving Interlachen by
the south bank of Lake Thun, we soon got into the shade of the hill,
and it was chilly, causing all wraps to be in requisition. Reaching
high ground over Spiez, we took our last view of Interlachen in the
distance, with the smoke of morning fires hanging over it. From this
point the road lay in a long valley between two ranges of hills, which,
after those we had been so long looking upon, did not appear high.
Everything was now in bright sunshine, and the valley and the slopes
were so verdant and luxuriant as to make the drive lovely, though
scarcely, except at one or two parts, could it be called grand. We
passed many little villages, all looking so sleepy in the sun, but
evidently prosperous. Soon after twelve we stopped at the little town
of Boltigen, to rest the horses for two hours and dine at the hotel
with the sign, life–size, of the gilded bear, kept by a pleasant young
woman, who strove to make us comfortable. The road after Boltigen
was still up hill till we reached a point whence descent is made to
Sarnen, the centre of the famous Gruyère cheese district, and soon
after we came in sight of Chateau d’Œx, with its picturesque church,
formerly a castle, on the top of an isolated conical hill, from which
the small town takes its name. This chateau or church at once arrests
the eye, and gives character to the place; but the town itself lies
at the foot of the eminence, and is 3260 feet above the sea. Bold
mountains, well wooded, rise on every side, and are probably, some of
them, 5000 or 6000 feet high—all contributing to fill a considerable
river in the valley a good way below. There are several hotels in
the town, and chalet pensions on the slopes above, the pension in
all being amazingly moderate, somewhat upon the scale which formerly
prevailed throughout Switzerland. The Hotel Berthod, at which we
stopped, accommodates about eighty people, and is built of wood, the
appointments being somewhat rough, though clean. The season is short,
but the hotel is for part of the time full. As it is so much out of the
beaten track, the society is probably more select than it sometimes is
in other parts of Switzerland. For the active, there are abundance of
nice walks in the immediate neighbourhood. The air, though in day–time
hot, was invigorating; but as we were getting near the end of the
season, it had a tendency at night at this elevation to get cold. We
therefore only spent eight days there, though very pleasantly.

       *       *       *       *       *

On leaving Chateau d’Œx, we took the diligence to the pretty large
town of Aigle, and to reach it had slowly to ascend the mountains to
an altitude of between 5000 and 6000 feet. It was a most charming ride
or walk, and I got out and walked several miles ahead of the lumbering
conveyance. The descent from the summit of the pass continues to
Sepey, a village where we halted for lunch, and said to be another
charming centre, with pension upon the same moderate scale as we had
just experienced. The views here were very fine, but the place itself
did not strike me as so desirable as Chateau d’Œx, although it has the
advantage of being more accessible. From Sepey we descended to Aigle,
where there is a large hotel or hydropathic establishment just out of
the town. The diligence deposited us at the railway station nearly an
hour previous to the train to Montreux on the Lake of Geneva being due.

From its comparatively sheltered situation, Montreux is much frequented
during winter months, and it is a little warmer than Geneva or
Lausanne; but during part of the winter the temperature of Montreux is,
I believe, lower than that of London and Edinburgh, so that possibly
it may therefore not be suitable as a winter resort for those having
delicate constitutions. The picturesque and interesting Castle of
Chillon lies about two miles off, nearer the upper end of the lake.
Our bedroom windows commanded the view of the lake, together with the
Dent du Midi in the distance, so that the prospect was always pleasing.
Montreux is rather too much of a town, and the walls and houses shut
out almost completely the sight of the lake from the road or street.
The adjoining town of Clarens, nearly united to it, appears to be, on
the whole, nicer for summer residence.

After being at Montreux for a few days, we left by the steamboat, and
had a lovely sail to Geneva, where, in the afternoon, just before
dinner, we obtained a good glimpse of Mont Blanc in the distance
unveiled. Besting one night, we proceeded to Lyons by train next day,
and were once more in France.



XVIII.

_BIARRITZ._


I HAD thought it might have been possible to arrange for proceeding
across country from Lyons to Biarritz by a westerly line, say by
Clermont, instead of by the Mediterranean line, which we had already
travelled. But although there are lines in that direction, it seemed
extremely difficult to make them fit in so that we could, upon
stopping at any place, obtain next day a train at a suitable hour
for prosecuting the journey. Not only so, but being quite out of the
ordinary beat of tourists, and especially of English tourists, one
could not possibly rely on getting such hotel accommodation by the way
as is desirable and is procurable on the beaten tracks. I therefore
gave up this thought, though not till after some laborious studies
of the _Livret Chaix_, and after consulting Cook’s agent at Geneva,
who, I found, did not issue tickets towards Biarritz. There seemed
no alternative, therefore, but to go by the Chemin de Fer du Midi,
the Paris and Marseilles Railway. We had hoped, it being the 12th
September, to have seen the Rhone in all its summer beauty, but were
disappointed. The day was dull and misty when we started, and soon
after it began to rain; so that we could see little, and everything
looked dismal, whereas in summer sunshine the prospect is no doubt very
lovely. Before we reached Avignon (in six hours ten minutes) the rain
ceased. We stopped a night there (see p. 135), and had fortunately good
weather. Next afternoon brought us to Nismes, two hours distant from
Avignon by rail; and after another night in our old quarters there,
and seeing places this time in sunshine instead of shrouded by the
mistral, which prevailed during our visit in the previous year, we
left at mid–day for Toulouse, arriving at this large city about eleven
o’clock at night. There is not another train by which we could have
proceeded from Nismes to Toulouse during day, nor is there any place
nearer Toulouse where it is desirable to stop except Montpellier; but
Montpellier is only an hour distant from Nismes, and better adapted,
therefore, for stoppage coming from Toulouse on the return journey,
and on our return journey we accordingly spent a night there. Cette,
where we changed carriages and were long detained for no apparent
good reason, and where there are extensive salines or manufactories
of salt, lies very low and is marshy. It is therefore considered a
most unhealthy spot, not to be thought of for sleeping at. The journey
to Cette is not particularly interesting. Beyond it to Toulouse the
country is more inviting. The distance is about 136 miles, and the
train most tiresomely stopped several minutes at every little station,
twenty–nine or thirty in all, with an extra halt at Narbonne, amounting
to twenty minutes, where a hasty though acceptable dinner waited the
arrival of the train. The more interesting part of the road was passed
in the dark.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had been recommended by fellow–passengers to the Hotel Sacaron at
Toulouse, and found it remarkably comfortable; but to all appearance
it was then out of season, as we seemed to be the only guests, except
it might be our old friends the mosquitoes, who, paying nothing but
penalties, were unceasing in their attentions, and from whom we might
have suffered more than we did had we not been well protected by the
snowy–white mosquito curtains. Our daughter, however, had a long watch,
and discovered in the morning her forehead was jewelled in thirty–two
holes.

Leaving next morning for Pau by the 11 o’clock train, we had no
opportunity of getting more than a glimpse at this important provincial
town. The houses are large, and the streets—such of them as we saw—are
wide. The railway station is handsome and tidy. We arrived at Pau about
5 P.M., by a quick or express train, having only stopped at eleven out
of thirty–four stations. Notwithstanding it took us six hours to go
little more than 130 miles, being at the rate of 22 miles per hour.
However, it was an improvement upon the previous day’s travelling. The
only other trains by which we could have gone from Toulouse to Pau were
two,—one which left at midnight, getting in at 10 o’clock next morning;
and another which left at 5.20 A.M., getting to Pau at half–past
1. I mention these facts just to show that every consideration is
not paid here, and elsewhere (and it is better here than elsewhere)
on French lines, to the convenience of travellers. Apart from the
disagreeableness of starting at such inhuman hours, to travel by the
midnight train would be to miss for great part of the way the view of
the most interesting scenery along the railway route, which skirts the
Pyrenees.

These grand mountains we saw now for the first time. Near to Lourdes
the railway approaches them closely, and the church of Lourdes, to
which it has been customary of recent years to make pilgrimages, is not
far from the railway. It rises loftily from the ground far below. A
crowd of pilgrims was marching towards its supposed miraculous shrines.
The scenery about Lourdes is very picturesque, and the railway to Pau
for a great part of the way runs parallel to and overlooks a mountain
river, apparently the Adour, very much resembling at this part such
rivers as the Garry in Perthshire: a clear–flowing stream, descending
through a rocky bed, with many a rushing fall or rapid between
converging rocks.

We arrived at Pau on the Saturday afternoon, and left it on the
following Tuesday morning—just having time to rest. I reserve,
therefore, any observations regarding Pau till our return journey,
when we spent a longer time there. The railway ride (between sixty
and seventy miles) from Pau to Bayonne is very beautiful, part of
the way being by the banks of the Adour, which, as it approaches
Bayonne, becomes wide, and is, indeed, navigable for forty miles up.
We were advised to book to Bayonne, and hire thence to Biarritz; but
I found the fares asked for the drive so excessive, occasioned, as we
afterwards learnt, by races being then held at Bayonne, that we took
the train just about to start on to Biarritz. The station La Negresse
proved, however, to be two miles out of Biarritz, and only one carriage
was waiting disengaged. For this short distance I was charged 8 francs;
certainly exorbitant, but during the season at Biarritz everything
is very high, and the races had then taken off the usual supply of
vehicles, so that we were at the mercy of the gorgeously–attired
coachman, who drove us in by a pretty rural road between trees and
hedges. In all likelihood he had driven a party to join the train we
had just left, so that we may have been indebted even to this chance
for finding any conveyance waiting. I do not know why the railway
company laid their line so far away from the town, unless it was that
they did not appreciate the importance of the station. As an attempt
to remedy the evil, a short line intended to connect Bayonne specially
with Biarritz has been made; but though the Biarritz terminus is
tolerably near the centre of the town, the other terminus does not
enter Bayonne, and is a long way from the general railway terminus. It
may be useful for excursionists, but it is useless for other traffic,
and I should hardly think it would pay.

We had been recommended to the Hotel de Paris, near the rocks, and,
with some difficulty, the town being then very full, got accommodation
in it; rough enough at the first, but after two nights we obtained a
change to first–floor rooms, fairly good. The hotel is situated in a
public square planted with trees, the north end being open, overlooking
the sea. Here the band played every evening, Sunday included, from
half–past 8 till 10 o’clock during the season, making our rooms for the
time very noisy; but as our windows looked right down upon the seated
enclosure, brightly lighted up with numerous lamps, it was a little
variety and divertisement to watch the gay crowd with whom it was at
first filled, who paid for admission half a franc each. The charges
in the hotels and for lodgings at Biarritz are said to be, during
the summer season, immoderately high, and to cost in some cases as
much as £5 per day. I cannot help thinking, however, that there must
be a little exaggeration in these statements, or some extravagance
on the part of the visitor so charged. We were ourselves charged at
no excessive rate. The Angleterre and Grand Hotels, with superior
arrangements, I believe, charged a good deal more. But there are other
and more moderate hotels, such as the Hotel de France and the Hotel des
Ambassadeurs, which, however, are both in the town itself, and not so
well situated as those I have already named.

       *       *       *       *       *

We remained at Biarritz till 13th October, nearly four weeks, and
enjoyed it very much, although for a considerable part of the time,
particularly during the earlier part, east and north–east winds, said
to be unusual, prevailed, rendering the place for the time being cold,
and giving us a taste of what winter weather is there, a visitor
informing us that he had not found it colder in winter. If, however,
it be no colder on winter days than what we did experience, it could
hardly be described as trying for persons in good, strong health; but
the prevailing winds are west and south–west, both mild and salubrious,
though sometimes the south wind blows, and brings with it, in the hot
months, the parching heat of the sirocco.

Biarritz is a place of very recent growth. Formerly nobody but English
people, for the sake of the bathing it afforded, frequented it.
Afterwards the civil war of succession in Spain brought many of the
best Spanish families to live in it as a frontier town and among others
the Countess de Montijo and her two daughters, one of whom became the
wife of Napoleon III. Her fondness for the place induced the Emperor
to build the Villa Eugenie as a marine residence, and so, practically,
made this delightful watering–place.

There may be said to be two bays, one north and one south; the first
lying between the lighthouse and the pier, and the second upon the
Basque beach. In the centre of the north bay the Villa Eugenie reposes
on a rocky eminence, 40 or 50 feet above the shore to the east of the
town, and is seen from many points. East and west of it, the sloping
beach, a fine sandy one, stretches away on the right hand to the steep
rocks, about 70 feet high, under the lighthouse, resting on a jutting
promontory forming the eastern enclosing arm, to the rocks on the west,
among which, looking down the small harbour, may be seen the town lying
above and back from them. Westward from the Villa Eugenie, perhaps
about half a mile distant, an imposing range of lofty hotels—the Grand
Hotel and the Angleterre, with the Casino between them, all towering
many storeys high—meets the view, and beyond them we see the spire of a
large town church; and then still beyond, outward to the sea, running
to a point, a range of high rocks or small hills which enclose the bay
on the west. Some of the hilly rocks are surmounted by houses, and one
prominent one by a semaphore or signal station. The rocks afford some
shelter to the beach from the fury of the waves, but are themselves
gradually giving way. No doubt at one time they formed a strong natural
breakwater and better barrier, and extended well out into the ocean;
but year by year they are succumbing to the force of the Atlantic and
the storms which visit the Bay of Biscay.

[Illustration: PORT–VIEUX BATHING ESTABLISHMENT, BIARRITZ.]

In the centre of the north bay, and to the westward of the Villa
Eugenie, a short promenade has been formed, on or adjoining which the
great bathing establishment has been erected, the beach here being
called the Grande Plage, in contradistinction to the other beaches.
From the west end of it the road winds up below the Casino and past the
Angleterre, and along by the top of the rocks overlooking the harbour,
and through a tunnel under one of the hills to what was intended to be
a breakwater, but is now a sort of pier, at which no vessels ever lie,
becoming, therefore, only a place people stroll to in moderately calm
weather, to watch the waves dashing upon and over the rocks in wild
beauty. In rough weather no one dare venture. From this pier the road
winds back towards the town and southward round the Port–Vieux, and
through a gap in the rocks to the sandy Basque beach, which extends
away southward for miles, the rocks rising perpendicularly from it,
perhaps 80 feet high, the curve of the rocks forming the south bay.
From any of the heights about the Port–Vieux or the Basque, one can
see along the coast 20 miles to the entrance of the Bidassoa (the
boundary there between France and Spain), and then on from that to the
coast–line of Spanish mountains (offering a strong barrier against the
aggression of the sea) for at least 40 miles farther, some even saying,
though I should doubt it, seen 100 miles altogether. Southward the
range of the Pyrenees bounds the horizon, the eye being caught by the
Trois Couronnes or three–cornered or peaked mountain, rising boldly as
commander of this battalion of the great guardian mountain chain.

The town of Biarritz bears every mark of its rapid construction. The
streets are very irregular, the houses having been placed just any way
and according to any plan, at the mere caprice of the builders. One
leading street, lined by trees, passes through it to the Port–Vieux. In
the centre of the town this widens to what may be called a large square
or place, whence the omnibuses or diligences start, and where carriages
can be had for hire. The Hotel de Ville has been built at one end of
this place, which, in the height of the season, must be full of life.
The principal shops are in its neighbourhood, some of them exhibiting
in their windows articles of lace worn by the Spanish ladies, and
Spanish shawls, sword–sticks, stilettoes, as well as other things of a
more agreeable use. Itinerant vendors, too, of Spanish goods are always
going about during the season, sometimes gaily dressed in a sort of
showy fancy Spanish costume; but when the summer season is over, they
migrate to Pau, and even to Cannes, Mentone, and other winter–season
places, where we frequently saw the same men and women so occupied we
had previously noticed at Biarritz. Some shopkeepers from Nice open
establishments during the season at Biarritz, and close them when it
is over. Besides many good shops, there is a regular market, though of
small size. The town covers a considerable extent of ground, and new
houses are being constantly built. The ordinary population now exceeds
4000. The English church had been found too small for its occupants,
and a large new one was, while we were there, in course of completion.

Many nice–looking villas have been planted on the outskirts of the
town, particularly upon and in the direction of the road to Bayonne.
The heights above the Basque beach are likewise studded by various
distinctive houses; and about a mile from town, isolated from
everything about, there is a house belonging to Lord Ernest Bruce,
built in the Moorish style with a glass dome, and surrounded by a
garden.

The French and Spanish form the bulk of the visitors during August and
September, these months constituting, _par excellence_, what is called
the season, while during the winter months the English take possession.
In the winter months the hotel charges undergo great modification,
and _pension_ can then be had in some of the best hotels at 7 francs
per day.[45] It is noteworthy that _pension_ at Biarritz and Pau, and
elsewhere in the south of France, includes wine. House accommodation,
too, in the winter months is correspondingly cheap. The best months for
enjoying Biarritz, we were informed, are the months of April and May,
when the heat is sufficient but not oppressive. The month of July is
sometimes unbearably hot. A family who had been there during July told
us that they could hardly venture out in that month till late in the
evening; and if the sirocco prevailed, they were even obliged to close
the windows, the hot sand percolating through every crevice. The band
of music, I understood, plays only during the two months of the season,
and removes at its close, when the enclosure is dismantled.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the great attractions of Biarritz consist in its beach, its rocks,
its grand seas, and in its capacities for good bathing. We were never
fortunate enough to witness a storm in the bay, although there was
occasionally enough of swell upon the water to show what a storm could
be. Our landlord, speaking of the appearance of a storm on the ocean,
described it as ‘terreeble;’ and no doubt it is, and not very safe,
too, as sometimes people are washed away by an unexpected dash and
sweep of the ocean. But a standing evidence of the force of the waves
is exhibited by the remains or ruins of the breakwater, begun in view
of here affording a port of refuge and pier. Regarding this scheme
Count Russell says (p. 13):—

‘Napoleon III. suggested it, meaning to connect by a breakwater several
of the detached rocks scattered on the north–western side of the Porte
Vieux, and thus to form a small harbour, only open to the north. A
clever engineer, M. Palaà, was entrusted with this almost superhuman
undertaking, but the only result has been, after years of labour and
more than one sacrifice of life, to accumulate a shapeless and useless
mass of ruins along the intended harbour. The breakwater (or what is
left of it) was built with concrete; artificial square blocks weighing
36 tons (some of them 48) were sunk by hundreds at random and just
where they liked to fall! But the tremendous surf has been playing with
them as if they were pebbles, and in 1868 one of them was carried right
over the pier (22 feet above low–water mark) like a toy or a feather!
For these and for financial reasons the works are now suspended. They
have already cost £120,000, and all to no purpose. In fact, nothing
human can resist such a sea as the Sea of Biscay, except, perhaps, at
St. Jean de Luz, where nature has half made a harbour.’

The sea is by far too treacherous and violent to make boating safe, and
we seldom, if ever, saw pleasure–boats out, although they were lying in
the harbour.

Some isolated rocks stand out in the water, separated from the
mainland, with which, I fancy, they have at one time been connected.
They are rough, and rugged, and bare, and honeycombed, and even,
occasionally, altogether perforated by the water; bearing witness in
their haggard condition to the violence of the waves by which they are
continually assailed, undermined, broken up, and thrown down. It is,
indeed, very beautiful to see, during a swell, the water lashing the
rocks and dashing over in clouds of white spray, or sometimes through
the perforations or over and down the rocks in streams of white foam.
During the day we used to stand and observe the swell surging into the
large cavities formed by continual action, and tossed out again, as
if the rocks had said with Phineas, ‘Friend, thee isn’t wanted here;’
while the whole water around, nothing daunted, was boiling and excited,
dancing and glancing and sparkling in the sun as if in glee, or in
the spirit of fun and mischief. This, too, in calm weather. But at
night we used to hear the boom of the waves as they tumbled into these
caverns and were as promptly turned out again, as if it had been guns
firing—for which, indeed, at first we were inclined to mistake the
sound.

Unlike the Mediterranean Sea, the tide has the usual ebb and flow of
the Atlantic, consequently not only is the beach more interesting, but
the town is kept more healthy. The sands afford the usual occupation
and delight to children, but shells and seaweed are rare. A good many
jelly–fish are thrown up; some gelatinous animals of a large size
perhaps were octopi. We used often to sit by the beach and watch the
sea, especially under the Basque Rocks, where the waves, with the
slightest breath of wind, would come charging gallantly in, high and
crested, and turn gracefully over in long lines when they neared the
shore. Over the rocks the inhabitants would seem to have the odious
habit of running their drains or dirty water, both unsightly to the
eye and leaving disagreeable black pools below. This surely might be
remedied. It does create a drawback to this most enjoyable beach.
Equally objectionable, if not more so, is the practice, so offensive at
Cannes, of putting the outlets of the town drains close to each of the
bathing–places. The tide, no doubt, is such at Biarritz as to remove
the stuff carried down, but there could or should be no difficulty in
carrying the pipes away to some distance from parts where people enter
the water to bathe, and at all events in not making them so obnoxiously
near and prominent.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are three bathing establishments at Biarritz. One, and the
largest, is on the Grande Plage, between the Villa Eugenie and the
hotels, though much closer to the latter. It is a large wooden building
of one storey, in the Moorish style, and opening from the promenade,
three or four steps leading down at each end to the sands. When the
tide is low there is a long space of sand to traverse. At the west
side, where the rocks are, a rope for the use of the bathers is
stretched between two rocks running seaward. The second is on the
Port–Vieux, a creek perhaps 400 or 500 feet long by 100 to 150 feet
wide. The wooden building forming the bathing establishment, of very
neat design, with a balcony running all round, and a red–tiled roof,
is built on three sides of the square down to the usual high–water
mark. The fourth and open side is to the sea, which for a good way
out is hemmed in by rocks, between which a rope, slack but strong, is
stretched across the creek, hanging, in very low tide, considerably
above water, but in high tide having the middle part submerged. One
side of the house is devoted to the dressing–rooms of the ladies and
the other to those of the gentlemen, and long wooden stairs on each
side enable the bathers to reach the sands. A few yards brings into
sufficient depth for bathing, but at low water the sea goes back so as
to land one among the rocks, especially in spring tides, and bathing is
then not so pleasant, especially to non–swimmers; but this condition
does not last above an hour. When the wind is in the west, even when
hardly perceptible, there is more or less surf at the edge, and in
strong west or north–west winds the swell must be such as to prevent
bathing altogether at the Port–Vieux. But in this case more shelter
will no doubt be had at the Grande Plage, which is to a small extent
protected on the west by rocks. In stormy weather it must be altogether
impossible to bathe anywhere. The third bathing establishment is at
(though raised some feet above) the Basque beach, and is intended for
the convenience of those residing in that neighbourhood on the plateau
above. It is smaller considerably than either of the other two, and can
be reached from the sands by ascending a ladder or stair of steps, or
from the town by descending a zigzag path from the top of the nearly
perpendicular rock against which it is placed. The arrangements of all
are, I suppose, on exactly the same principles: little boxes under
cover of the establishment for undressing and dressing, towels, and
the usual appliances, including a tub of hot water to take the sand out
of the feet.

The establishment at the Grande Plage is much the largest, but we
always gave the preference to the Port–Vieux, where the Empress
formerly used to sit and watch the bathers if she did not bathe
herself. The town and road are high above it, and descending by a
handsome stone staircase, one is confronted at the bottom by the ticket
office, where (those not bathing can without charge go down to the
beach) those intending to bathe pay according to their requirements,
usually from half a franc to a franc each, the assistance of a bathing
man being charged half a franc additional. No gratuities are expected,
but a box at the dressing–room entrance–door modestly appears, into
which those who choose may in passing drop a coin now and then. Bathers
can be supplied with a bathing dress, and have it washed, but most
people naturally prefer to have their own habiliments.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bathing is the great occupation of the visitors. Many bathe twice
a day, and some, I believe, all the year round, wind and weather
permitting. The sea is full of saline particles, and is usually warm,
while the atmosphere is also warm and salubrious, so that bathing is
even advantageous to those who dare not venture on it in the British
Isles. Unless the wind be blowing, say, from the north–west, it is
almost always possible to obtain a dip. To call a bathe there a dip,
however, would be exceedingly inappropriate. It is a steady, serious
occupation of some duration, and more or less protracted according to
the heat of the weather and the enthusiasm of the bather. The times for
bathing are in the morning before breakfast, after breakfast between
ten and twelve, and in the afternoon between three and six. During
the bathing hours spectators in crowds, perhaps not so numerous and
certainly not so noisy as at Ramsgate on a forenoon, but stationed
upon every available point, or quietly standing or sitting on rocks,
sands, or chairs, or on the steps or balconies of the establishments,
amusedly watch the performances, which are extremely interesting, and
to British eyes peculiar. At the Port–Vieux special vantage–ground is
gained by the road, which, like a gallery, envelopes the three sides,
and being higher than the roof of the building, enables the passers–by
to peer down from perhaps 50 feet above on the aquatic sport below.

For ladies and gentlemen array themselves in bathing costume, in which
they march down to the water from the establishment—the ladies in
general wearing over all a cloak or shawl, which they drop ere they
reach the edge, and it is taken charge of by a friend or a bathing man.
The ladies’ habit, of which the fanciful patterns (possibly imagined
and engraved in far–away Paris) exhibited in dressmakers’ shop windows
afford but a faint and incorrect idea (as, for example, in representing
ladies appearing in lace frills, and trig, tight, little laced boots),
usually consists of a short tunic with equally short sleeves, not
reaching to the elbows, and knee–breeches reaching barely to the knees,
the tunic girt at the waste by a girdle, to which is attached in the
majority of cases, _à la_ John Gilpin, two empty yellow gourds as
floats. Then very often a straw hat is stuck upon the head, and tied
by a ribbon over the crown and broad brim and under the chin, giving
the appearance of a frightful ‘ugly;’ while on the feet are generally
worn a pair of local shoes made of canvas, with thick hemp soles,
which, decorated with devices in worsted, are very commonly worn by
the residents, and even for walking about the beach by many of the
visitors, and are sold for 2 or 3 francs per pair. The bathing dresses
vary in pattern and shape, and are of all colours. White is seldom
worn. Bright colours—red, scarlet, green, light blue, yellow, amber—are
often seen; in short, the aim with many is apparently at something
stunning, suitable for the adornment of a pretty mermaid. To add to the
effect, smart young ladies will also have their dresses embroidered,
and otherwise made attractive and bewitching, in the way only a
graceful girl knows how; and really it must be confessed that this
bloomer costume is exceedingly becoming, at all events to the younger
ladies. Stout old ladies cut a figure in it sometimes remarkable.

[Illustration: BIARRITZ BATHERS.]

The gentlemen, on the other hand, look like harlequins, for their
costume in general consists of a somewhat tight–fitting dress either
of cotton or woollen, and most commonly in stripes of two colours,
and of all colours and shades, though white and blue stripes are
the most common. Their dress costs from 6f. to 20f. (a very good
woollen one in red and black stripes cost me 13f.). Some of the old
gentlemen wear a straw hat loose on their heads, so that occasionally
it is seen floating away from the wearer by reason of an accidental
wave or submersion. I suppose the object of the straw hat is to
obtain protection against the beams of the sun, but it suggests the
uncomfortable idea that the wearer never plunges his or her head under
water, the doing of which would, I doubt not, afford equal protection
against the sun’s heat, and is in any view always necessary to prevent
a flow of blood to the brain in bathing.[46]

       *       *       *       *       *

In these varied and brightly–coloured costumes, the bathers cut gay
figures. But the picture is composed and completed when they enter into
action. At the edge of the water, the gentlemen bathers, sometimes
portly and rotund, having threaded in bare feet their way down through
the ladies sitting on the stairs, and through the crowd of spectators
on the sand, wait with patience in their brilliant, tight, and
unusual attire, the observed of all observers, the arrival of their
lady friends, if they any have, and on their arrival, taking their
hand, accompany them into the water; or the ladies take the hand of a
bathing man engaged to attend them, and march in under their charge,
and presently they are in the clear salt water, alive with bathers in
every colour and in every form of movement practised by those who go
down to the sea to bathe. Some rush from the shore wildly and inhumanly
into the water, and, wickedly regardless of frightening the small
fishes, dive head foremost with a splash, and strike out. Others stalk
in majestically, and either quietly push far out, or paddle about
pretending or attempting to swim in shallow water. Then other gentlemen
are giving encouragement to their little boys or girls, or to their
wives, or possibly their lovers, or improbably their sisters, either
dipping them, or helping them to swim, or teaching them to float, or
joining in other usual maritime gyrations. Others catch hold of the
rope stretched out if the water be low, and dance about in a mad and
profitless way, or if the tide be high, the swimmers catch at it as
they pass and take a rest; and sometimes, if at a proper height, an
adventurous one will sit upon the rope, like a sparrow on a telegraph
wire, when (perhaps beholding admiringly from the treacherous seat some
fat lady floating on her back on the surface, her bathing integuments
undulating in the water like the tentacular folds of a jelly–fish) of a
sudden somebody else, perhaps waggishly, perhaps innocently, clutches
at the slack rope, and with unexpected shock upsets the unwary,
abstracted philosopher, who with a whirl capsizes heels in the air,
and head making discoveries through eyegate, nosegate, and mouthgate
in the brine below. Or two recently arrived English young ladies will
walk in, hand in hand, scorning the aid of a bathing man, and perform
together, with all the regularity of clockwork, an endless series of
curtsey ducks in the water without stirring from the safely selected
spot. Other ladies, to vary the programme, are carried out by a bathing
man and dipped horizontally in the wave, so that head and feet obtain
ablution simultaneously; or a stout matron will take hold of a bathing
man, who swims out with her on his back apparently, so that she enjoys
the luxury of being buoyed up and drawn through the water, and can say,
‘I’m afloat.’ But these sham swimmers are notably the exceptions. The
great matter of observation is that the vast majority of the ladies,
young and old, swim about as easily as the gentlemen, though they are
in doing so generally accompanied by a man swimming behind or beside
them in case of accident; and, indeed, one important occupation of
those employed as bathing men is to teach the young idea how to swim,
an accomplishment which, after a few lessons, they are usually able
to master, and young girls are constantly seen swimming about among
the others, like minnows among the tritons. Some ladies, after long
practice, are very adventurous; two of them will go out together in a
boat a considerable distance, when, throwing off their cloaks, they
will dive head foremost from the side of the boat and swim ashore,
the boat following. One little girl was most clever. She would go out
to what looks like the vestige of an old pier, and, jumping high,
perform a somersault, and, diving under the water, ‘come up smiling,’
swim about, and do it again and again. I have, however, seen many
older diving belles jumping from the same pier. In fact, bathing in
all its forms is here carried by the ladies to an enviable perfection
altogether unknown at home; and while it not merely affords a most
invigorating exercise, it becomes a most valuable branch of education,
tending to lessen the risk of casualties at sea. It were well that at
home the good example could be followed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The late King of Hanover was at Biarritz while we were there. Being
blind, he was carried into the water upon a _chaise–à–porteur_ by four
men, his suite bathing with him. His daughter was said to bathe at an
early hour in the morning, and many ladies, we were told, bathed as
early as six o’clock. During the time we were there, and the weather
being cold, forenoon and afternoon were preferable.

The bathing men will never dip one’s head unless expressly desired to
do so, and never propose it—a great mistake. The bathing dress is not
at all inconvenient or uncomfortable while in the water, but it is
heavy out of it, especially if of woollen material (decidedly the best
kind), because it absorbs and retains a great deal of water.

       *       *       *       *       *

Away from the beach all the walks are on the high roads, which are
principally three,—to the railway station, to Bayonne, and to the
lighthouse. The distance to the lighthouse by the road is considerably
farther than by the beach, from which to the platform on the top of the
rocks whereon it stands, access is had by a steep path. From the top
of the lighthouse, 220 feet from the level of the sea to the lantern,
a most extensive view is had northward up the west coast of France,
bordered by the Landes—a low sandy coast, now planted with pine trees
to guard against the incursions of the sea—stretching 100 miles towards
Bordeaux; and in the other direction along the Spanish coast, bounded
by a chain of mountains far as the eye can see; while inland the view
extends towards the Pyrenees. A steep path leads from the lighthouse to
a small recessed platform half–way down the rock, where in calm weather
one can behold the swelling and surging sea below ever and anon dashing
against the rocks, and where men repair with long rods and lines to
fish. But in stormy weather it is dangerous even to stand on the ground
above; people are exposed to be swept away by unexpected rushes of the
sea, and many have been drowned there in consequence. The fish caught
at this platform, so far as we know, were small. Indeed, at Biarritz
there are not many caught, though the table is always supplied from
neighbouring fishing stations. Lobsters, however, seem to be plentiful.

The Villa Eugenie, between the lighthouse and the town, is an object
of interest to every one visiting Biarritz. It is shown to the public
on Mondays. Entrance is had by the west approach, where there is a
lodge and large but not elegant stabling accommodation. The grounds
are not extensive (about thirty acres in all), but sufficient for
a marine residence of the kind; nor do they exhibit much attention
to horticulture, though perhaps it is hardly fair to judge of them
in present circumstances. The house, of three storeys, commenced in
the year 1854, forms three sides of a square, with an _annexe_ (I
presume, offices) on the east side. It still belongs to the Empress,
who, of course, never occupies it now, and she will not sell or
let it. Ringing the bell, an old servant (who expects a small fee
from each party for his trouble) opens the door and shows visitors
through the house. Our troop consisted of several distinct parties,
mustering probably above a dozen persons in all. The rooms are of
comfortable size, and compose just what an Empress would consider to
be a snuggery. The dining–room is the largest room in the house, the
windows facing on one side the west to the town and sea, on another
northward to the sea and lighthouse. On a rough guess, and speaking
from recollection, it is probably from 40 to 50 feet long and from 20
to 25 feet wide, the ceiling lofty. The reception–room is comparatively
small. The bedrooms of the Emperor, Empress, and Prince are just of a
comfortable size. There are many small bedrooms, very nicely decorated,
for use of the suite or for visitors. The floors are polished, and
the staircase is so slippery that people are cautioned to take great
care in descending, the steps not being carpeted. It was melancholy
to think it was no longer possible for poor Eugenie to occupy this
delightful residence.[47] Perhaps it is the only place in France where
the Imperial arms remain, and one sees upon it also the touching
monogram ƎNE, which reads up or down. The place would to our Queen
be objectionable as being so close to a town; but to a French lady
this, no doubt, would give it additional attraction, and it must be
recollected that Biarritz in reality largely owes its existence to
the Empress having built her villa there. For this the French people
should be grateful, although it looks a little unlike it, because in
the grounds two pillars in front of a small unfinished chapel for the
Imperial family use have been much broken. This, however, may merely
have been the result of accident.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a pleasant drive to Bayonne, which lies about five miles off.
Like many other roads in France, such as at Pau, the road proceeds
a long way in a straight line, flanked by regimental rows of trees,
which, affording shade from the sun, have a peculiarly stiff effect.
Here, as elsewhere, too, contrary to the Roman beau–ideal of a road
that it should be level, this one, though straight, yields to the
inequalities of the ground, and is alternately in hollows and on
elevations. But people ought to be thankful the road is so good, for,
speaking of a time about forty years ago or more, Dr. Taylor (_Climate
of Pau_) says:—

‘There was no carriage road from Bayonne to Biarritz, the only
conveyance being _en cacolet_, which contrivance consisted of a pair
of panniers laid on the back of a horse or mule, into each of which a
traveller of equal weight, if possible, had to perch himself at the
same instant with his fellow, and to preserve their position as best
they could. In the event of one being lighter than the other, there was
a make–weight of stones put along with him in the pannier to adjust the
equilibrium.’

Judging from the specimens of comfortable Spanish ladies we saw at
Biarritz, I should pity the horse or the mule which had to carry two of
them.

About half way to Biarritz, a very elegant white stone villa in the
Moorish style is passed—the Villa Sophia. There is something very
unique in the appearance of this building, which is covered with
arabesques, inducing me to go out one day and take a rough sketch of
it. On approaching Bayonne, the road lies through a wood—I suppose,
a suburban park. Then on entering the town we see a long many–arched
stone bridge spanning the Adour,—here very wide,—and beyond it the
fortifications, built by Vauban. These may at one time have been
considered strong, but at the present day cannot be thought so, and
they are overlooked by neighbouring heights. The fort lacks the
picturesquely–imposing appearance of stone wall castles. A good deal
of historical interest attaches to Bayonne and its fortifications. The
town itself is not remarkable for much save its four bridges, crossing
very close to each other the river Nive, which here joins the Adour.
The cathedral, above seven hundred years old, is large and handsome,
and is in course of restoration. The spires (one of them only is
completed, the other being in course of completion) are very beautiful,
tapering gradually, with spirelets around; but the church is like too
many others abroad, rather hemmed in by the houses around.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are other good drives about Biarritz, and particularly to the
Bois de Boulogne and to the old historical maritime town of St. Jean
de Luz, about ten miles distant, and not far from the Spanish border.
It was here Louis XIV. had a residence and was married. His house, in
the French style, with square towers at the four corners, stands now in
the centre of the town upon the main street, and in its ground floor is
occupied with shops and cafés. St. Jean is also a bathing place, but is
not so popular, and is certainly not so attractive, as Biarritz.

There is a fine drive to Cambo, at the base of the Pyrenees, but during
the first part of the period of our stay at Biarritz the weather was
too cold to take it, and in the latter part the days were getting
rather too short, the distance being about eighteen miles.[48]

       *       *       *       *       *

Few people visit Biarritz without making an excursion by railway to St.
Sebastian to see a little of Spain. It is thirty–seven miles distant
by rail, and can be easily managed in a day—in fact, going by morning
train, one is left rather too much time in St. Sebastian. Crossing
the river Bidassoa, the picturesque town of Fuenterrabia is the first
object catching the eye on the Spanish border. A halt of an hour is
made at Irun for examination of the luggage, and it is possible,
though a risk, to drive off and return in time for the train after
a hurried examination of this interesting old town, which from the
railway has an appearance of being deserted. Leaving Irun, the railway
winds its way through the mountains, and reaches St. Sebastian, which
is a tidy–looking town standing at the mouth of a river crossed by a
handsome bridge, with view out to the Bay of Biscay and to the fortress
of St. Sebastian on a hill next the sea. The town lies on the landward
side of this hill, the more modern part of it, at least, consisting of
wide streets and lofty square houses with nothing redeeming about their
aspect. Passing along the main wide street from the bridge, we arrive
at an enclosed natural harbour, a tract of sea, like a bag contracted
at the neck, through which communication is had with the bay without.
The shipping is not extensive; the harbour proper, lying on the side
nearest the sea, being small. On the south side, next the newer
portion of the town and the railway, the grand _plage_ bathing–place,
with a wooden bathing–house, is found. Behind it the mountains rise
picturesquely. It requires an order to see the fortress, which is
mainly of earthen ramparts. The town itself has little of interest
in it. Close by the railway station, however, there is a very large
wooden amphitheatre for bull–fights. Bills containing announcements
of one of these savage entertainments were placarded on the building
and the railway stations and elsewhere. The dwellings on the line of
railway are similar to those about Biarritz, principally of the Basque
style; many of them have on the top little glazed houses, sort of
huts, no doubt designated, according to the taste of the occupants, as
observatories, retreats, or smoking–rooms. Except for seeing a little
of Spain, I believe it is better rather to stop and see the curious old
town of Fuenterrabia.

       *       *       *       *       *

After 1st October a very marked change came over the appearance of
Biarritz. Nearly all of the Spanish and French visitors (coming no
doubt for the gaiety) then left, while the English influx for the
winter season had scarcely begun. During the first fortnight of this
month the town wore a deserted look, and this was greatly aggravated by
many of the shops commencing to pack up for migration to other places,
and one after another closing. I daresay, a month later, there would be
more life in the place.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had all experienced the greatest benefit from our short residence
of about a month in Biarritz, and although the weather was, during
the greater part of the time, especially at first, very cold, in
consequence of the northeasterly winds, we felt that our invalid
especially had derived great good from the ‘soothing and invigorating
air;’ so much so that we fondly thought, owing to this and the former
changes, she was now in recovered health, and that it only wanted
another winter in the Riviera to set her completely up. Biarritz is
considered too cold a place for delicate persons to winter in, and
the approach of its winter season would in any view have warned us
away. But we did feel extremely reluctant to leave; for this agreeable
watering–place had quite taken our fancy, and perhaps we felt the
leaving all the more that we had not seen it in its stern grandeur
of a storm, or even in its wild grandeur of a cloudy sunset, while,
under the influence of a gentle wind blowing from the south, the day
upon which we left was one of the finest and sunniest we had had while
there. Having a good hour before departure, we visited all the beaches
and rocks, and lingered sorrowfully upon the scenes now so radiant in
sunshine and so genial in their warmth, where we had spent pleasant
times, and thence looked out upon the bright sparkling ocean gleaming
below us, and the waves gently kissing the shore and bidding us adieu,
and with unwilling steps returned to our hotel to leave for Pau. This
leave–taking is one of the penalties to be paid for the pleasure of
travelling in bright spots where everything has combined to make one
happy—where the scenes are new and pleasing, where the object of travel
seems to have been secured, and where hearts in perfect harmony and
with congenial likings are able to appreciate the blessings they have
thus been privileged together to enjoy.



XIX.

_PAU._


ENGAGING a small omnibus for 8 francs to Bayonne, five miles distant,
we left Biarritz at 12.25 for the 1.45 train to Pau. The station at
Bayonne for Pau in one direction, and Bordeaux in another, is on the
north side of the Adour, so that we had to cross the long bridge over
that river. The day was glorious, and the Adour, by whose banks we
proceeded part of the way, was looking very fine.

       *       *       *       *       *

The traveller arrives at Pau by railway, in a station down in the
depths on the banks of the river Gave, a tributary of the Adour. But
the town itself mainly lies on a level platform, about 150 feet higher,
and almost immediately above, the rise being sharp, and the road
whereby it is reached very steep. The best advantage has been taken of
the situation to erect in front line a series of imposing edifices near
to the edge of this almost perpendicular height, so that on issuing
from the railway station the _coup d’œil_ is extremely impressive.
Commencing at the west end, the chateau or castle, with its ivy–clad
old tower or donjon, is the first object arresting the attention—a
large symmetrical building in the chateau style. Then the eye runs
along to the great new Hotel Gassion, with its corner projections
(which are neither towers nor turrets), surmounted by clumsy
extinguisher pointed roofs, and then the white Church of St. Martin’s,
with its lofty graceful needle spire, and on to the Hotel de France and
other imposing houses in the Place Royale—the whole producing an effect
which gives to the stranger the idea of a magnificent city behind. But
the truth is (all honour to those who did it), that the grenadiers
have here all been brought to the front rank; for the stately group
assembles in this commanding spot nearly all the buildings which are
noteworthy in Pau, the only other, if I am not mistaken, being the
white Church of St. Jacques, with its fine double spires, and perhaps
the adjoining Palais de Justice, both at a little distance from the
Place Royale.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had been recommended on our first visit to apply for quarters at
the Pension Colbert, near the termination of the Rue Montpensier, at
the north or rural side of the town, kept by English ladies (Misses
Finch). It was at first a steep pull up the hill for the horses, but
the hill conquered, the road was thereafter level. We had been made
not merely so comfortable, but so much at home, at this house that
we engaged rooms in it on our return from Biarritz. On our first
visit in September, it was before the season commenced, and we were
accordingly the only guests; on the second, the house was nearly full,
and we experienced similar kind attention. It is recommended, with
a view to getting gradually accustomed to the climate before winter
sets in, that invalids should come in September, and there seems no
reason in the shape of excessive heat or the presence of mosquitoes to
prevent it; the weather, indeed, was cool during our first visit. But
the season does not really begin before the end of October, and it is
even the first week of November before Pau becomes tolerably full. We
accordingly found it upon our second visit, in the middle of October,
still comparatively empty.

The climate of Pau is not what suits every one. As compared with
Biarritz in the months from October to March inclusive, the mean
temperature is, according to the month, from one to five degrees lower.
Whether it was owing to our experiencing a difference of temperature,
or to the fact of our having had a good deal of rain while in Pau, or
whether due to accidental circumstances, such as neglect to shut a
bedroom window one evening, we all caught colds there, and lost much of
the good we had got at Biarritz. The fact suggests some notice of what
has been said on the subject of the climate of Pau as a health resort.

Dr., afterwards Sir Alexander Taylor, who wrote a special book on
the climate of Pau and other places,[49] divides climates into three
classes: _exciting_, _sedative_, and _relaxing_, and he gives us
examples (p. 21)—

1. Of exciting climates—Nice, Naples, Montpellier, and Florence.

2. Of sedative climates—Rome and, _par excellence_, Pau.

3. Of relaxing climates—Pisa and Madeira.

‘In the sedative climate we have a more neutral state of the
atmosphere—a remarkable freedom from dryness on the one hand, and from
communicable humidity on the other, and in Pau particularly, great
stillness of the atmosphere.’

It is therefore only in cases where a sedative climate would be
beneficial that Dr. Taylor recommends Pau, and in a subsequent chapter
(p. 100) he mentions the kind of cases for which the climate of Pau is
specially beneficial.

Among the characteristics of the climate, he mentions that while
more rain falls in Pau than in London and some other situations in
England, yet from the absorbent nature of the soil, and from some
peculiar electric state of the atmosphere, there is an absence of
‘free communicable humidity;’ and that while 27 inches of rain fall
annually in London, and from 40 to 50 inches in Pau, the number of
rainy days is only 109 against 178 in London. Further, a very important
advantage possessed by Pau is its distinguishing freedom from wind
from apparently any quarter, while the malevolent circius, bise, and
the mistral are never felt there. Dr. Taylor contrasts in tables the
difference of temperature between Greenwich and Pau—as, for example,
in the mean temperature of each for the months between October and
May, showing them to vary, according to the month, from 3 to 7 degrees
in favour of Pau. The mean moisture of the air is also shown to be
generally about one–twelfth less at Pau; while a further circumstance
is that there is more sunshine at Pau, imparting greater cheerfulness
to the winter climate. A very curious additional fact is thus stated
(p. 80):—

‘From an examination of the mean distribution of the winds, according
to the cardinal points of the compass, indicated by carefully–kept
registers for a considerable series of years, we find that they show
northerly winds prevailed in summer, southerly in winter, easterly in
autumn and winter, and westerly in spring and early summer; and when we
recall to the reader what has before been said with regard to the usual
want of force of the winds at all times at Pau, he can easily figure
to himself how the heats of summer being modified by the northerly
wind, the cold of winter shorn of its intensity by the southerly, and
the usual biting keenness of spring softened by the prevalence of
westerly winds, the climate should act beneficially on the irritable
air passages and on the lungs of invalids either predisposed to active
disease or which are already a prey to it.’

At another place Dr. Taylor gives a table of death–rates, from which
Pau would seem to be at the top of the list for least mortality—as, for
example, while in Pau 1 in 45 died annually, in London it was 1 in 40,
in Nice 1 in 31, Rome 1 in 25, Vienna 1 in 22½, etc.; and he adds this
important statement (p. 94):—

‘In the department of the Basses Pyrénées, in a period of seventeen
years, 1777 persons died from 90 to 95, 649 from 95 to 100, and 168
above 100 years of age. In Pau itself, during a period of twenty years,
390 persons died from 80 to 85, 161 from 85 to 90, and 103 from 90 to
100 and upwards. By the last census, there were in Pau several persons
ranging from 100 to 104 years of age, and in the department also
several _centenaires_ who are described as being still very healthy.’

But I must refer to Dr. Taylor’s work for more information on this and
other matters relating to Pau. Besides containing general information
relative to the town itself, it deals in its last half with the climate
of other places, and particularly affords information relative to the
different places of resort in the Pyrenees.

Another book (already referred to, p. 53), by Dr. Frederick H.
Johnson, entitled, _A Winter’s Sketches in the South of France and the
Pyrenees_, is similarly devoted to Pau and the Pyrenees, and is written
in an interesting, graphic manner.

Mr. C. Home Douglas, in his little work called _Searches for Summer_,
takes a rather different view of the climate of Pau from Dr. Taylor,
although opening his observations by saying:

‘Passing from Biarritz to Pau, as we did in the beginning of May,
seemed almost like returning to the still sunny climate of the south
of Spain. The fresh strong Atlantic breeze—invigorating, doubtless, to
many constitutions—gave place to such gentle and balmy air as we used
to open our windows to at Malaga.’

Mr. Douglas, not confining comparison to London, compares the
temperature of Pau with that also of other places in Great Britain,
showing that the sunny temperature of Pau is 4°·1 below that of
Helstone in Cornwall, and is under that of Torquay in Devonshire and
Valentia in Ireland during the same winter months, and quotes Dr. Otley
to the effect that there is greater daily range of temperature at Pau
than in England, adding that the nights must be colder at Pau than in
the west coasts of Britain, and expresses the opinion that ‘no one who
cannot stand severe cold ought to think of going to Pau for the winter;
better go to Easdale in Argyllshire. No one so constituted should think
of going till March at soonest; April, in my opinion, is early enough.’

Mr. Douglas writes as a meteorologist, and his little volume is a
valuable contribution to the consideration of the temperature of the
various places of health resort therein mentioned; but the facts stated
by Dr. Taylor, even though one is inclined to look with suspicion on
medical advocates of special places, show that the value of a place for
an invalid may not wholly depend on the records of the thermometer.

       *       *       *       *       *

We made Pau only a halting–place for nine days, _en route_ for the
Riviera, and to form some opinion as to its suitability for a longer
stay at another time. Coming from the ever–changing ocean, and from
Biarritz, which had so captivated our fancy, perhaps we did not take
so kindly to Pau, a large inland rural town, as we might otherwise
have done; while, in consequence of the season not having fairly
commenced, the strangers encountered in the streets were few, and the
town consequently was more dull than it would have been later on. The
weather also was such that we had not much opportunity of seeing the
environs.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before 1840, Pau apparently was a place of no repute. I presume Dr.
Taylor’s recommendation gave it its great stimulus. But in twenty years
after 1840 it had largely increased, evidences of which were, that
the octroi duty had in 1860 realized nearly double, that the British
visitors had amounted to 1000 in number in the year, and that its
population had augmented to 21,000. It has gone on increasing since,
and is now so well frequented as to require no less than three English
churches and one Scotch church, with resident ministers, while the
population is reckoned to amount to 30,000.

The town itself is regularly built, with good leading streets, and
possesses a large market–place, where goods of all kinds, even
broadcloths, are sold in open stalls; and as Pau is the centre of a
very large rural population, it is on market days a busy place; but
there are many good shops in some of the best streets, and the wares
are, I think, cheaper than in Nice and elsewhere in the Riviera. The
two town churches, St. Martin’s and St. Jacques, are new and of white
stone, and with their fine tapering spires are externally handsome, but
internally, except for their stained–glass windows, want the richness
of ornamentation we had seen in so many other Roman Catholic churches
abroad.

       *       *       *       *       *

The grand sight at Pau is the chain of the Pyrenees. We had only to
go a short way along the country road, in which the Pension Colbert
is, to see them. But a more uninterrupted prospect is had from the
Boulevard du Midi, or terrace of the Place Royale, in front of the
prominent buildings I have already mentioned. Leaning upon the parapet
wall of this fine terrace, and looking almost straight down upon the
valley below, one sees beyond the road and a small outlying portion of
the town and the railway station, the river Gave flowing sluggishly
along, crossed by a handsome low stone bridge of, I think, five arches,
and lined on both sides by rows of tall poplar and other trees, and
bordered by straggling houses, which give some character to the scene.
Then, on the other side, there rises a range of well–wooded knolls
and hills, called the Côteaux of Juraçon and Gelos, the highest about
300 feet in height, and dotted over among the trees by mansions; and
then apparently the ground dips behind them, and in the distance
(the nearest being twenty miles off) the long range of the Pyrenees
stretches out in a continuous line eastward and westward as far as the
eye can see, and forming the natural boundary and barrier between the
two great countries France and Spain. Rising abruptly and prominently
out of the range like two great tusks, are the Pic de Midi d’Ossau,
to appearance nearly opposite Pau, and the grandest of the Pyrenees;
and away to the eastward, the Pic de Gers; while still farther to
the east, but eclipsed by intervening heights scarcely visible from
Pau, the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, each of them, or at least the first
and last mentioned, from 10,000 to 11,000 feet high. From the upper
windows of the hotels on this Boulevard the view must be magnificent.
It was very fine from the windows of the Chateau, but they are of a low
elevation. This view, perhaps the finest in France, is really the great
attraction to the hotels in this quarter, for nowhere else does it seem
possible to obtain the prospect from so high a position, and so free
from intervening obstructions. When we were at Pau, there was no snow
upon the Pyrenees, so that we failed to see them in their best. Even,
however, when snow–covered, they cannot bear comparison with the Alps
as seen from Turin. But the view may be finer when the mountains are
snow–covered and there is a grand sunset, for which Pau is famed. The
mountains in the ruddy glow may then resemble the Bernese Alps, as seen
from Berne in a brilliant sunset. At Turin, as the mountains lie to the
west of the town, the sunset effect must be greatly lost.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Chateau, which was the residence of the Princes of Bearne in former
times, and where Henry IV. of France was born in 1553, is well worthy
of inspection, and, of course, any stranger coming to Pau pays it a
visit. Three bridges connect it with the town, and at one time it
was doubtless a place of strength. Entering on one side through what
appears to be a modern screen of three open slender arches embellished
by carved work (seemingly rather too delicate for a warlike place), and
passing the sentinel, the visitor is at once in the court–yard, the
remaining three sides of the nearly square yard forming the castle,
pierced by decorated windows. The walls are of great thickness, giving
the idea of massive strength and solidity. In some of the rooms the
walls are covered with tapestry, and in parts the tapestry is a
close imitation in worsted of paintings in oil—a mistake in art, I
think. The ceilings are bold in design, without being either fine
or remarkable. The old beds are curious high boxes of carved oak,
requiring steps to enable the occupants to get up into them. A lower
modern carved bed in one of the rooms, devoid of the canopy of the old
ones, seemed vastly preferable. One of the bedrooms was hung with silk
of the time of Madame de Maintenon, and, as we understood, manufactured
under her superintendence. The most interesting object in the castle
was the cradle of Henry IV., made of a large tortoise shell. There is
a statue of the great monarch in the grounds, and in the country round
about places exist with which he was associated; and, indeed, Pau and
its neighbourhood is a place of great historical interest.

A public park closely adjoins the Chateau. It is filled with lofty
trees, and continues for a long stretch by the banks of the Gave on a
rising ground, through which and under the trees walks have been formed
and seats placed, whence charming views of the river and mountains are
had. The band plays during the season sometimes in the park and at
other times in the Place Royale.

       *       *       *       *       *

The environs of Pau are said to be beautiful, but we had not much
opportunity of exploring them. Mr. Inglis (the traveller), in a passage
quoted by Dr. Taylor, says:—

‘The Gave serpentines through the charming undulating country that
surrounds the town. Grain, meadows, and vines diversify the scenery,
and innumerable country–houses are everywhere scattered around. Nothing
can exceed the beauty of the promenades in the neighbourhood of Pau.
Some lie alongside the Gave, others along the banks of the smaller
river.’

The road to Bordeaux and the other roads out of Pau seem to be all
lined with regimental rows of poplars, shady perhaps in sunshine, but
stiff. Some neat villas in nicely–planted gardens in the outskirts of
the town—delightful retreats—are let furnished. I had the pleasure of
meeting a very old Scotch friend, who, after having tried many places,
has found the climate of Pau to be most suitable, and has accordingly
built just out of town an elegant villa for permanent residence.

There are, I believe, many excellent excursions from Pau, such as
a drive to Lourdes, 25 miles distant—a long day’s work for the
horses there and back, but, I was told and can readily believe, most
enjoyable. In the summer–time, everybody who can, escapes to the
mountains, where so many charming spots, including Eaux–Chaudes and
Eaux–Bonnes, are to be found.

We paid a visit to the cemetery, which lies back from the Place
d’Armes, and quite out of town, the Protestant ground being, as
customary, separate from the Roman Catholic. There are throughout many
monuments, including one to Marshal Bosquet, whose name is familiar to
us in connection with the Crimean War. After the war he spent his last
years in Pau, his native place. One monument to the memory of a Russian
lady, representing her in the act of kneeling and praying, in very rich
attire, is of white marble, and has no doubt been executed in Italy.

       *       *       *       *       *

During our stay in Pau, the French General Election took place, and
according to French practice was on a Sunday (14th October 1877).
Everything was quiet, quieter even than it would have been at home,
notwithstanding it was politically a time of great anxiety. Although
there were some small crowds of people hanging about the streets on the
day of election, and on the following day the newspaper shops at the
time of publishing were besieged, all was quite orderly. We had it, of
course, for the comfort of the old ladies, that all the Protestants
were in bodily fear; and perhaps in former times there might have
been some risk, for in some parts of France it was an inconvenient
custom, occasionally exercised on a sumptuous scale, to burn, shoot,
and otherwise destroy Protestants and other obnoxious heretics. In the
present day, however, it would no doubt be considered an economic
mistake to slay, or to drive away to other lands, the birds which
beneficently lay, in hotels, pensions, furnished villas, shops, and
other places, their heart–winning, hate–dissipating golden eggs; and
instead of a display of unpleasant engines of extirpation, there is
great kindliness of feeling towards Protestants, and every provision is
made for alluring strangers to Pau, and detaining them there by means
of cricket and golf grounds, skating–rinks, fox–hunting, lawn tennis,
libraries, museums, and the like active and passive means of enjoyment.



XX.

_SECOND WINTER IN THE RIVIERA._


WE left Pau for Toulouse on 23d October 1877. The journey occupied
upwards of eight hours, or two hours longer than the same journey from
Toulouse. At every little station there is a stoppage for an apparently
endless length of time, although I suppose the delay is partly
attributable to the necessities of the careful system of registration
of luggage. One tunnel was shored up, and we went slowly through it
and over the ground before and after. When we approached Toulouse,
and had to cross the rivers, the train proceeded with the utmost
caution. The bridges had evidently been washed away, and what we passed
over seemed either unfinished or temporary. It was here, it may be
recollected, that in the year 1875 such disastrous floods took place.
But whether the condition of the bridges in 1877 was attributable to
this or to a more recent flooding, we could not tell. The journey,
though long, was agreeable, the rivers resembling our own Scotch
rivers, and the Pyrenees clear and crisp, with a slight sprinkling or
dusting of snow upon them, though not enough to give them the aspect
of snowy mountains. The trees were clothed in their autumn tints of
yellow, brown, and red, and the sun was shining. We were accommodated
with the rooms we had formerly occupied in the Hotel Sacaron—clean,
tidy, but carpetless; the mosquitoes, however, were gone. A good many
persons appeared in the _salle à manger_, but there was no common
_table–d’hôte_ dinner. Each party dined separately at 5 francs per
head. I had, before leaving Pau, calculated on getting a good hour
before dinner for a drive through the town; but a change had been
recently made,—I suppose about the 16th October, the usual commencement
of winter hours,—by which our train, probably to dispense with another,
became a slow one, stopping at all stations, and taking two hours
longer than before; so that, arriving at six o’clock, there was no
time for a drive in daylight. In the evening I had a stroll through a
small part of the town, which contains some good wide shop streets. The
Church of St. Servan is the finest, and, according to representations,
peculiarly constructed, but in the dark I had no opportunity of seeing
it. Nor did we see the bridges and other neighbouring public parts.
Had we not been anxious to push on towards Marseilles, we might have
stopped a day to see a city which has a name, but is a good deal out of
the ordinary path of travellers. We also missed seeing the view from it
of the Pyrenees, which is said to be there extensive, being about the
centre of the chain. It rained through the night, and was damp in the
morning; and as our train left at ten o’clock, we could not obtain an
hour before leaving for Montpellier.

The scenery between Toulouse and Cette, great part of which we had
missed on our former journey in the dark or twilight, was not equal to
that of the previous day. We passed field after field of vineyards,
where they were lading large carts with the grapes. About Biarritz and
other places in the south–west of France, the carts are generally drawn
by oxen. In Italy, the equally patient buffalo, with its meek eyes, is
used. Here the carts seen from the railway were drawn by two horses.
Grapes were charged at the railway station of Narbonne, in the centre
of this vine district, 5d. per lb. We had paid elsewhere from 1½d. (15
centimes) to 3d. (30 centimes) per lb., but at railway stations prices
are usually increased. For oranges at railway stations, 20 centimes
apiece were sometimes demanded. The sun went down as we got into Cette,
but not before gaining, as we approached that port, a glimpse now
and then of our old friend the Mediterranean. A cup of coffee at the
station was refreshing, but the waiter, who calculated in sous, was
very confused in his reckoning. We arrived at Montpellier in the dark
at 6.44, and found the omnibus of the Hotel Nevet waiting; but it would
not start till all luggage was got out, so that we might as well have
taken our luggage with us instead of leaving it, as we usually did on
such journeys, for the night at the station. This hotel, recommended as
the best, is rather old–fashioned both in accommodation and furnishing,
giving an idea of the comforts enjoyed there in former times when
Montpellier was in vogue, and its name was a synonym for any place
where the air was peculiarly pure and salubrious. Now I suspect it has
lost favour, and more modern localities, such as Cannes and Mentone,
have supplanted it, as railways have brought their previously–hidden
virtues to light, and rendered them more easy of access, probably
to yield in turn to others better spoken of. Dr. Taylor (p. 7) thus
adverts to its climate:—

‘The climate of the south–east of France, of which Montpellier may
be considered as the centre, is, on the contrary’ (to Pau), ‘highly
electric and dry, subject, particularly during the spring, to severe
cutting and irritating winds, loaded with impalpable dust, exciting
in its qualities, and productive of inflammatory diseases of an
acute character. To prove these latter assertions, we shall produce
the following unbiased evidence. We find in a work on the medical
topography of Montpellier, the following statistical results of
diseases treated during a year in the public hospital of that town. The
number of patients admitted in one year was 2756; the proportion of
deaths was 154; and of that number, 53—that is, more than a third—were
caused by diseases of the chest. Again, we find the following opinion
from a work full of valuable observations on the effect of the winds
of the south–east of France: “One ought to have a chest sound and well
constituted to resist such impressions.” Matthews also, in his _Diary
of an Invalid_, says “that every mouthful of the air irritates weak
lungs and sets them coughing.”’

After a late dinner, I walked out, but could see little. The town
seemed full of cafés. In the morning, before the train started, we
had an hour to look about. It would be unfair to judge of any place
with such slender opportunities, but it did not appear to offer great
attractions. In the centre of the town, surrounded by lofty buildings,
there is a large open place, adorned by a handsome fountain. Out of
this place a Boulevard runs, leading to the Place d’Armes, where people
walk and drive, and it is said there are fine views of the Pyrenees and
Alps to be had; but the morning was hazy, and any prospect was hid. It
was also cold, and wraps became advisable.

We had to change carriages twice between Montpellier and
Marseilles—viz., at Tarascon, and again, in little more than an hour,
at Arles. The second change was aggravating, because we could not see
why the carriages might not have gone on to Marseilles; while those
into which, after some detention and trouble, we were shifted, were
antiquated, narrow, and confined. Fortunately no rain fell during the
change, for Arles station is not under cover.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have already, in mentioning our first visit to the Riviera, taken
note of Marseilles. We were glad to meet some old Scotch friends
unexpectedly at the Hotel Noailles. The weather was cold, which of
itself would have rendered it advisable to push on; so, after a drive
through the town next day, we left for Hyères, about fifty miles
distant, by the 1.20 train, but found by another of those changes
made just a few days previously, we could only book to Toulon, the
train in connection from Toulon to Hyères by a branch line having been
discontinued, although the Hyères season was just commencing—a rather
odd way of accommodating the coming visitors. On arrival at Toulon, we
had accordingly upwards of three hours before a train would start for
Hyères, and we availed ourselves of the time to explore a little about
this noted naval station.

The town of Toulon itself is uninteresting; its streets are dirty
and narrow, the houses high. Near the railway station the ground is
more open and the houses more modern. Passing them, we soon came upon
the fortifications which surround the town, but retracing our steps,
walked down to the docks and along the public quay. There are two
large docks communicating with each other—the Port Marchand and the
Port Militaire. The latter is one of the great arsenals of France;
but we could not see it, an order of admission being required, only
procurable in the morning. It extends to 35 acres and is said to be
capable of receiving 200 ships of the line. The other dock is probably
of about the same extent. Both docks are highly fortified. On looking
from the quay, we saw many of the old men–of–war laid up like invalids,
dismasted and dismantled and put under cover, apparently as hospital
ships. At one time convicts were kept in some of them. A little beyond,
some serviceable men–of–war lay, and the quays were crowded with boats
which, with men and officers, were passing to and fro, making it a
lively, gay scene. Some civilians were evidently going out in the
boats to see the ships or their friends on board. A bronze statue has
been erected upon the public quay, to the memory of the many eminent
men who have been connected by birth or otherwise with Toulon and its
history, and whose names are engraved on the sides. After our stroll,
we were glad to return and have, in the railway station refreshment
room, dinner (supplied at 3½ francs a head, the usual station tariff),
and at 6.50 left in the dark for Hyères, arriving at eight o’clock.
Nine omnibuses in a semicircle were waiting the arrival of the train,
but we were the only passengers requiring conveyance. We took that of
the Hotel d’Orient, recommended in Bradshaw and also by Murray for its
beautiful situation. It is a comfortable hotel, the hotelkeeper is
attentive, and the situation is more sheltered from the mistral than
others; but it seems a mistake to speak of it as ‘beautiful,’ as any
view it may have commanded at one time is shut out by the trees of the
garden on the opposite side of the road. The Hotel des Îles d’Or is the
principal hotel in Hyères. It commands a fine view, but has a west or
south–west exposure. The Hesperides Hotel is near to it. This and the
Hotel des Ambassadeurs, in the centre of the small town, are considered
comfortable and more moderate.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hyères is considered less costly than any of the other important
places in the Riviera, regarding it as within the Riviera, which
perhaps, strictly speaking, it is not. I believe it may be considered
to be about 2 francs per day less than Mentone for corresponding
accommodation and pension, and in all probability the reason for this
is that it is not usually thought so attractive. The town itself is
most uninviting. The original and older part of it, lying upon the hill
slope, is so very dirty that I could not bring myself to visit it a
second time. The drains there run down the middle of the streets, and
no regard seems to be paid to cleanliness. It speaks well, doubtless,
for its healthiness, that the inhabitants can survive its pestilential
odours. The newer part of the town consists mainly of a long street,
in which most of the hotels are, and a few poor shops, some of which
were not, at this early period of the winter, opened. The Rue des
Palmiers, in which the English church is situated, is the best street.
It is flanked by gardens attached to the houses, and by a row of palm
trees on each side, which grow better in Hyères than they do in some
other parts where they are more exposed to dust and sea air. This Rue
has quite the look of a retired row in the suburbs of a large city.
Outside the town, which is altogether very small, there are a number
of pretty villas. Behind the town a hill rises steeply to a height of
650 feet, whereon the château, an old castle, stands. The view from
this hill is very fine, looking down upon the plains below, and the
surrounding mountains, and the Mediterranean three miles off—the long,
low, but picturesque islands of Hyères, called the Îles d’Or, the
nearest being to appearance about two to three miles from the shore, or
six miles off, but as distance on water is deceptive, probably rather
more. These islands, formerly productive, now barren, but said to be
salubrious, are four in number, the largest being four miles long by
two miles broad, and (speaking from distant recollection of a visit to
Ireland) slightly resembling from Hyères, though larger, Spike Island
at Queenstown, Cork.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are a number of very nice walks at Hyères. About a mile out
of town, a piece of ground has been recently laid out as a Jardin
d’Acclimation; but as yet it is mainly occupied by an immense number
of ducks of all kinds. The great drawback to Hyères is, that it is not
sufficiently sheltered from the mistral, which blows during spring
from the west and unprotected side. It is also far from the sea–shore,
and is therefore deprived of the life and interest always found at
the sea–side. Its climate, though warm, is, I believe, changeable.
On the 1st November it was as hot there as it is any day in July in
London; but it may suit some invalids who require to be at a distance
from the sea. We did not like it, but were perhaps spoiled for fully
appreciating it by having been previously at other and, as we thought,
more attractive places. This, however, has to be said, that our visit
to Hyères took place before the season had fairly commenced, and to be
in a season place out of season is always dreary. We were very nearly
the only persons in our hotel. There was one family there, whom we met
in very painful circumstances. They had brought with them a daughter
who had been given up in London by her physicians, who said her only
chance of life was going to the south of France. With great difficulty
she was brought so far. She survived about five or six weeks from the
time of leaving home, but died a few days after reaching Hyères. We
attended her funeral, conducted by the English clergyman, and it was
gratifying to see that it created an apparent sympathy among the native
population, who assembled in considerable numbers in the burying–ground.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hyères is no doubt interesting to other persons; indeed, we have met
with those who have spoken very highly of it. La Plage, the nearest
point on the coast, is about three miles distant, and the railway has
been extended to it and to the salines beyond. We took the train to it
one day, and found a few villas had been built in the hope of making it
a seaside town; but at the time of our visit, at least, the speculation
did not seem to look hopeful. There is nothing attractive either about
the beach or about the neighbourhood, except a forest of umbrella
pines, affording the only shelter it possesses against the winds, which
must often blow violently at this part, and were blowing so keenly at
the time that we were glad to walk home and not wait three hours for a
train.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were a good deal annoyed by mosquitoes while at Hyères,
necessitating recourse to burning pastilles at night, and waging a war
of extermination in the morning.

       *       *       *       *       *

After being eight days at Hyères, we were by no means sorry to leave it
for Cannes by the little branch line to Toulon, where we were doomed
to wait two hours—one in consequence of the trains not fitting in,
and another because the train we were to join (a first–class express
from Paris) was an hour behind time. French trains are generally
very punctual, but on these long journeys are, especially at the
commencement of a season, often late. The engine was, in consequence,
urged on at an unusual speed after leaving Toulon, and we had made up
a good part of the lost time when we were stopped at Fréjus by a goods
train having by some accident got in the way. After all, we were not
more than half an hour late at Cannes. We again had much difficulty
in getting seat–room, guards affording no manner of assistance; the
carriages also were filled with people who had travelled all night
from Paris, and perhaps were selfishly unwilling to be disturbed by
intruders. On this our second journey to Cannes, the blinds on _both_
sides of the carriage were ruthlessly closed by the ‘foreigners’
sitting next them, so that we had no chance of seeing the lovely views
to be had from the windows.

We went to our old quarters at Cannes, where, in spite of mosquitoes
and flies, we were, as before, very comfortable. The weather was partly
sunny and partly wet during the ten days we sojourned there. On one of
the bright days our quondam invalid walked to the top of the Croix de
Garde, which she could not attempt on our visit the previous year. It
showed how well she then was, and how much cause for thankfulness we
then had.

       *       *       *       *       *

We reached Mentone on 12th November 1877, unfortunately in heavy rain,
and, having some time previously secured them, obtained possession of
the same bright rooms we had occupied the year before, and there we
remained till the end of March.

The weather at Mentone during December and January was unusually
cold—such a coldness as had not been experienced for many years. It
was penetrating, and hard to withstand, at least during the hours of
darkness. When the sun was out, the air was warm; but mornings and
evenings were cold, and it was difficult to avoid encountering cold
blasts and drafts, especially in passing from hot rooms through cold
corridors chilled by open doors, and we did find this year servants
very tiresome in leaving doors open which communicated with the outer
air. I believe, though not conscious of it at the time, that this cold
weather and the cold drafts had reproduced, though it might have then
been in a very elementary way, the seeds of disease which we fondly
thought had been altogether eradicated.

       *       *       *       *       *

We found the municipal authorities busy making a continuation of the
promenade along the shore for a full additional half–mile or more
westward towards Cape Martin,—an addition which has ere this proved a
great accession to the place, and will be complete when carried as far
as Cape Martin itself, which, with its forest of trees, is one of the
most charming haunts about Mentone; but the access to it has hitherto
been either by the dusty high road or by the rough stony beach.
Builders had also been busy with new houses, but the speculation, I
doubt, had not proved profitable, as, owing to the dulness of trade
and to the war in the East, many of the villas remained empty, while
even the hotels did not fill so rapidly as they had done the previous
year. However, when we left in the spring, the builders had not
seemed deterred by the want of demand, for building operations were
still progressing, and I fear much that in a few years Mentone, if
not overbuilt for the number of visitors, will lose a great deal of
its charm as a rural town. In other respects it was the same as ever,
bright and pleasant; and helping to make it so, we had friends in many
of the other hotels, besides meeting old friends in our own.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the first part of our stay, people were kept in great anxiety
about the course of events in France, and we never could tell but
that any day a revolution might break out: one result apparently was
that newspapers were occasionally stopped, or at least some did not
reach us. _Punch_ had in one number a certain distinguished gentleman
floundering in the mud. This number did not reach us through the usual
channels, but the cartoon nevertheless came to the hotel enclosed in
a letter to one of the visitors from a friend in Germany. Perhaps the
French are a people too easily excited to make it safe to allow such
things to be circulated, but it seems strange to our ideas of free
discussion.

When these difficulties were overcome, the British portion of the
population at least were disquieted by the attitude taken by England
in regard to affairs in the East. Before we left home in 1876, Turkish
misrule and oppression of the provinces had awakened the attention of
the European powers, and a movement for reform was made. The Turkish
atrocities in Bulgaria had also come to light, and Mr. Gladstone, with
all the fervour of his noble heart, had come to the front, and forced
the facts into lively attention, and not without effect. But the firm
word from us to the Turk, which would have prevented war, was not
spoken, and Russia found herself compelled, single–handed, to have
recourse to arms to terminate oppression. Russia did not declare war
till April 1877. When she became successful, there was considerable
excitement in the south of England, and it seemed as if many good
people were not careful of what they fed upon, and for a long time
nightly dreamt that the Czar, with one foot on Russia, was putting
another on Constantinople, and, like a gigantic Gulliver, was just
about to haul India off to St. Petersburg. Into the political causes
and consequences of this excitement it would be out of place to enter
here. Suffice it to say that they made us uneasy during several months;
and had it not been for the extreme moderation and coolness throughout
regulating the counsels of Russia (which was no doubt thinking as
much of taking Jupiter or Georgium Sidus as of taking India, or even
Constantinople, and was perhaps amused, though displeased, at our
fright), joined to the restraining good sense of the country at home
generally, we should have been involved in war, all Europe would have
been ablaze, and—selfish thought—what would those have had to do who
found a foreign residence necessary?

Among other delicious canards to which we were treated from time to
time during the war in the little French newspapers, was the astounding
information that our beloved Queen had resolved to resign.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two important events, however, did happen during our stay at
Mentone—first, the somewhat sudden or unlooked–for death of Victor
Emmanuel in January 1878; and, within a month afterwards, the
long–expected death of Pope Pius IX. On both these occasions a special
service was held in the Cathedral of Mentone, and I suppose 2000
persons must have been crammed into its body and recesses. Although the
church is a pretty large one, the odour with which it was filled was by
no means that of sanctity, and it was a relief, when the service was
over, in little more than an hour, to get out to the fresh air. Besides
black drapery hung throughout the church, a grand catafalque was in
each case erected in the centre of the cathedral, in front of which a
space was reserved and seated for the grandees of Mentone. The altar
at the back was denuded, perhaps to afford space, and the singers and
players on instruments were placed between it and the catafalque, out
of sight of the audience. The harsh sounds of the brass instruments
as they blew their trumpet–blasts thus in our ears seemed vastly
inappropriate. The singing had quite a provincial mediocrity; but on
the whole, for a small country town, I believe it may be said the
arrangements, according to Romanist notions of how such things should
be conducted, were fairly good.

       *       *       *       *       *

The death of the Pope, while it prevented the celebration of the
Carnival in Rome, had no influence in preventing its observance in
Mentone and Nice, and scenes similar to those of last year were
enacted, with a difference—not to the better—in the pageant. At Nice
the Carnival was, I believe, grander than ever, and many of the
Mentone visitors made a day of it there. The Carnival time brought
with it rather appropriately, though probably accidentally, some
fancy balls in Mentone, for which gay and elaborate costumes were,
I believe, procured at Nice. We were kindly invited to one of these
entertainments, but for reasons declined.

The tendency towards such gaieties seemed this winter rather on the
increase. They suit some, but to those desirous of quiet evenings it is
disturbing to have frequent routs, and concerts, and other diversions
in the drawing–rooms of the hotels.

We were treated, however, to a different description of pleasure, in
the shape of an exhibition at New Year’s time of a large collection of
water–colour paintings of views in Mentone, Cannes, Corsica, etc., by
Mr. Van der Weldt, a skilful artist. The pictures were for sale, but
the admission money went to the funds of Helvetia.

       *       *       *       *       *

The orange and lemon trees this winter bore scantily, and we could not
help feeling regret to see how few and far between were the bunches
of golden fruit. To what cause this failure of the crop was to be
attributed I do not know, but I believe that the trees do not bear
largely for two successive years.

       *       *       *       *       *

We again, on leaving Mentone, took a carriage to San Remo, and
fortunately had a quiet and warm sunny day for the drive. The dust lay
thick on the road, but there was no wind to raise it. The loveliness
of the ride was the one atoning circumstance to put against all the
pain of parting with friends, and leaving a place with which so many
happy recollections were associated. We little thought we were bearing
away from it one—then in apparent good health, and, fond of travel,
thoroughly appreciating all that she saw—who would never see it again;
for the regret of leaving was tempered with the hope that it might be
our privilege, though it might not be absolutely needful, to return in
a future year to this bright land of the olive and fig tree, the lemon
and orange—this land of cloudless sky and cheering sun.

       *       *       *       *       *

After leaving Ventimiglia, we looked out for the Roman amphitheatre
which had been discovered and was being excavated, but could not find
the place, and our driver was unable to render us any information
or assistance. We were now in the heart of the scenery forming the
_locale_ of that deeply–interesting story, _Dr. Antonio_; and on
the previous occasion our driver, I believe, pointed out to us the
veritable house in which Sir John Davenne and his heavenly daughter had
their abode. After paying a passing visit to friends in Bordighera, we
soon afterwards were again in San Remo.

We remained three weeks at San Remo, and during our stay had a good
deal of wind blowing from the west, and cold air with heavy rain, and
consoled ourselves by thinking that the wind being in that direction,
was probably more felt at Mentone. On leaving, we proceeded by train
to Alassio, about twenty–eight miles along the coast eastward. We had
heard Alassio a good deal spoken of, and wished to see it. It is as
yet only visited by casual travellers, and it has not become a place
of common winter resort for invalids. Had we not written for rooms,
we might not have found any carriage waiting to take us to the Hotel
de Rome, which was at the time the only hotel, I believe, to which
English people could go. It was a drive of about a mile from the
station (principally through the long narrow streets of the town) to
the hotel, which fronts the beach, just out of and to the west of the
town. It is a comparatively new house, and the accommodation is fairly
good and clean. Another hotel, ‘The Grand,’ on a much larger scale, has
been built, also fronting the sea, but about the middle of the town.
It was not, however, then opened, and the situation did not seem so
desirable, though nearer the station.

We found Alassio to be one of those little Italian coast towns in the
Riviera which are by no means attractive in themselves. The population
is said to be 5500, so that it is of some extent. It is dirty and
disagreeable, and unfortunately, like some others, is not shelved away
upon an avoidable eminence, but is stuck down upon the very best part
of the shore. The towers of the cathedral and other churches, and the
structure of the houses, combine to give it, at a little distance,
a picturesque appearance. A sandy beach forms the shore, on which,
opposite the town, many fishing boats lay. The sands, of a pale yellow
or white, though they may afford good bathing, are not interesting,
shells and sea–weed being scarce. The town lies at the head or in the
centre of a bay formed by two projecting capes or protecting arms,
the Capo della Melle on the west and the Capo S. Croce on the east.
Between these two points the distance may, I suppose, be about three
miles. A semicircular cordon of hills runs back from their termini, and
with an inner circle surrounds and hems in Alassio lying in the basin
below. The slopes of most of the hills, at least of the inner circle,
are covered with olive, carroube, and other trees, giving them a
richly–wooded aspect; but the hills themselves do not rise to any great
altitude. They are sufficiently high and close upon the town to give
much—perhaps, in summer, too much—shelter to Alassio, and to afford
room for supposing that it might become, on a smaller scale, another
Mentone for winter residence. Possibly if no old Italian town had
existed there, and everything could be laid out anew, Alassio might be
made a good place and suitable for strangers; but the great drawbacks
to it for residence, and not regarding it from a medical point of view,
are the existence of this old dirty town, which usurps nearly the
whole of the shore space, and is far from attractive, and the confined
or limited situation. I believe that many fine walks may be found
about it, but the mountains lack the height and picturesque grandeur
of those of Mentone, and there seem to be no valleys and rivers to
offer variety. Some English families, however, have been so pleased
with it as to have built houses there, for permanent occupation, on
the slopes of the hills. One of these we visited—that of Mr. Gibb, a
Scotch gentleman. Its position is commanding, and derives shelter from
the hills behind; and from the terraces overlooking the town, the views
were fine. The ground was laid out in the style of hanging gardens,
full of orange trees. At leaving, Mr. Gibb kindly caused a basketful
of oranges to be plucked and given to us, and they were of the most
delicious flavour; indeed, I believe the Alassio oranges are noted for
their excellent quality. Although a little society is to be found at
Alassio, it struck me as a dull place of residence except to those who
are fond of retirement. A great improvement to the town would be the
formation of a promenade along the shore, as at Mentone, Cannes, and
Nice. Were this done, it would help to draw strangers, and if strangers
came, other improvements would follow.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the first afternoon, we had, after arrival, time to take a
walk westward along the beach for about a mile to a small village
Laigueglia, which, as usual, possesses a church with a campanile; other
large buildings like granaries fronted the sea. We took, the following
day, a much more interesting walk up the height of Santa Croce to
the eastward, encountering unexpectedly by the way a smart shower,
from which some protection was afforded by the trees. Upon leaving
the town, a paved donkey–path leads up the hillside, skirted by woods
(the carroube trees here growing luxuriantly), to the ruins of an old
chapel, whence an extensive panorama spreads out on one side, back
over the hills behind the town, and down on the town and ocean below;
while eastward the rockbound coast stretches away, visible as far, I
believe, on a clear day, as Genoa and beyond it. But the day was not
sufficiently clear to see so far.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dr. Giuseppe Schneer has published a pamphlet of about eighty pages on
Alassio, titled, _Alassio ed il suo clima confrontato con quello di S.
Remo, Mentone, Nizza, e Cannes_. It is in Italian, unfortunately, and
consists of three parts. The first and largest part contains medical
advice, leading up, of course, to approval of Alassio. The second part
gives some information about the town, its population, schools, hotels,
etc.; and in reference to its healthiness, adduces a table of mortality
from which it would appear that during nine years the average was about
100 deaths per annum in a population assumed to be now and throughout
5500, or 1 in 55, which would certainly be extraordinarily low. Another
table is given to show the duration of life, evidencing considerable
longevity. The third part deals with the meteorology of Alassio, and
contains some tables, from which it would appear, if the observations
be correctly taken, Alassio stands well, and, on the whole, obtains
a higher temperature than places on the Riviera with which it is
compared—a result which may be accounted for by its being more shut in.
I take the liberty of quoting an excerpt from one of these tables (p.
74):—

     _Media della Temperatura delle Singole Stazioni della Riviera._

 +---------+-------+-------+------+------+--------+--------+-----------+
 |         |       |       |      |      |        |        |   Media   |
 |Stazioni.|Gennaio|Febraio|Marzo |Aprile|Novembre|Decembre| de 5 Mesi,|
 |         |       |       |      |      |        |        |piu freddi.|
 |---------+-------+-------+------+------+--------+--------+-----------*
 |         |       |       |      |      |        |        |           |
 |Alassio, | 9·18  | 10·   |13·45 |14·05 | 11·86  | 10·80  |   11·05   |
 |         |       |       |      |      |        |        |           |
 |San Remo,| 8·97  | 11·44 |11·22 |13·83 | 12·41  | 10·43  |   10·25   |
 |         |       |       |      |      |        |        |           |
 |Mentone, | 9·3   |  9·5  |11·6  |14·6  | 12·2   |  9·5   |   10·04   |
 |         |       |       |      |      |        |        |           |
 |Nizza,   | 8·1   |  9·5  |11·2  |14·5  | 12·6   |  9·2   |    9·83   |
 |         |       |       |      |      |        |        |           |
 |Cannes,  | 8·6   |  9·8  |13·4  |17·3  | 13·5   |  9·9   |   10·45   |
 |         |       |       |      |      |        |        |           |
 +---------+-------+-------+------+------+--------+--------+-----------+

Dr. Schneer also states that in the five months from November to March
there are 79 days all bright, 37·5 half so, 36 cloudy, and 20 bad.

It may be, therefore, that the climate of Alassio is one suitable for
invalids, and living is moderate, as pension can be had at the Hotel de
Rome for 7 and 8 francs per day _tout compris_.

       *       *       *       *       *

After being two nights there, we left for Genoa. The day was fine, and
having a compartment to ourselves, we had full opportunity of looking
about and enjoying the scenery. The distance is about fifty–seven
miles, and as the train took nearly four hours to arrive quietly at
Genoa, we moved leisurely. I paced one of our bedrooms at the Hotel de
Gènes, and it seemed to be 27 feet long by 21 feet wide, and probably
it was 20 feet high. In the afternoon we drove out again to see the
Campo Santo, and found little change since last year. On the following
day we visited most of the places we had seen the previous year, and
some others, including some additional palaces already noticed. With
a little difficulty we made discovery of the Via Orifici (a narrow
street in the heart of the town, not far from the hotel), where the
filigree shops are, and made a few purchases. The shops are on both
sides of the street, and contain sometimes beautiful specimens of this
delicate work in silver and gold; perhaps the shop of Salvi exhibited
the largest collection of choice handiwork. In buying, it is well to
remember one is transacting in Italy. Genoa has a Galleria, but not
nearly so handsome as that at Milan, although equally suitable for
its purpose. Last year we had seen it in course of construction, but
it was now completed, and some of the best shops in Genoa were opened
in it. But at the time of our visit it was not fully occupied. At
night it was, as at Milan, crowded by the townspeople and visitors. A
long, wide, lofty arcade like this, covered over by a glass roof, and
brilliantly lighted up, is naturally an attraction, and something of
the kind in our large towns might induce a withdrawal of many from the
gin–palaces and drinking–shops, the glare and comfort of which seem to
be so great an inducement and temptation to certain classes. But, like
the Italian galleries, they require to be thoroughfares in good central
situations—not _cul–de–sacs_.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the afternoon of the third day we left by train for Turin. A
few drops fell as we left, augmenting as we proceeded under inky
clouds to heavy rain. We obtained our last glimpse of our old friend
the Mediterranean just after leaving Genoa. The railway stations,
not improved by the rain, looked all so dirty—filthy, indeed. At
Alessandria, where we had an hour to wait, affording time to dine,
the whole platform was most disagreeable, from the abominable habit
(elsewhere alluded to) the Italians have of defiling every place, even
the floors of churches, so that it is not uncommon to see a notice up
in the churches requesting that it be not practised. However, good
service is done by the women, who trail their gowns over the floors,
and thus, with a thoughtful consideration for others and an unselfish
disregard for themselves, keep them cleaner than they would otherwise
be.

We arrived at Turin about eight o’clock in the evening, and found
quarters in the Ligurie, a large, new, first–class hotel, not far
from the station. The double windows, thick shutters, and the cloth
curtains outside the bedroom doors, were suggestive of what descent
in temperature there may sometimes be in Turin; but except a little
cold and damp in the evening, resulting from the rain which had fallen
before our arrival, we had it warm and sunny during the three days we
remained there. The following forenoon we devoted to a long drive in
and about Turin. The streets are exceedingly regular and wide, and the
houses being lofty and the town of considerable extent and full of
handsome public buildings and monuments, Turin has all the appearance
of a capital; but though a city upwards of 2000 years old, there is
about it quite a modern air. The view along several of the streets
is terminated by a grand vista of snowy mountains, and one of the
sights of Turin—indeed, its great sight—is the view obtained from it
of the Alps. To witness this in perfection, it should be seen from a
commanding height early in the morning of a clear day. We accordingly,
soon after breakfast, driving past the public park and gardens, and
round an imposing quadrangular building called the Castel di Valentino,
and crossing the river Po by a stone bridge of five arches, were
deposited at the foot of the steep hill on which the Capuchin Monastery
is built. Here, by a road winding round the hill, we walked to the top,
and from the plateau beheld the most magnificent mountain prospect I
had ever seen, or which I suppose is visible in Europe. Right in front
of us, against a sky all but clear, rose the great range of the snowy
Alps, stretching far as the eye could reach to right and left, the
nearest being only about fifteen miles distant, but seeming much nearer
as seen through a transparent atmosphere over a range of low hills
lying in front of them. Monte Viso, conical in shape, about forty–five
miles to the south–west, in which the river Po finds its source, rises
prominently like a huge tusk, the rest like an enormous jaw, in wavy
line of peaks or serrated folds. Between the river Po, flowing below,
and the mountains, the ground appears one vast level plain, on which
the city rests in regular lines of lofty houses, the monotony being
broken by the numerous towers and domes of the public buildings; and
conspicuous among them is the great ugly peculiar square dome of the
Jewish Synagogue, a far from pleasing object. In a different direction,
away to the north–east, we saw the Superga or Royal Mausoleum, built
on the crest of a hill much higher than the monastery, and commanding
a fully better view. To visit it and the royal tombs is a day’s
excursion, and we gave it up. The royal palace was among the places
in town which we visited. Its magnificent rooms are reached by a
truly regal staircase of marble adorned by sculpture. The armoury, an
interesting exhibition, is not far from the palace. A long room in it
is filled with figures of men–at–arms on horseback clad with the armour
of different periods.

The streets of Turin are to a large extent lined by arcades, and no
doubt in bad weather, and especially in snowstorms, such a method of
construction must be useful, the shops, however, being generally placed
under them.

Turin possesses many fine monuments. One of the finest is that to
Cavour, inscribed, ‘A Camillo Cavour nato a Torino il x. Agosto
MDCCCX., morto il vi. Giugno MDCCCLXI.’ A kneeling female figure,
representing doubtless Italia, is presenting him with a garland; while
below, the base is adorned by emblematical figures at least life–size,
and, like the statue, of white marble—all very tasteful. Another and
very singular monument is that to the Duke of Genoa. His horse falls to
the ground on its knees wounded, and the rider, the Duke, sitting on
the horse, is resting one foot on the ground and waving his sword.

We had a Sunday in Turin, and in the morning went into the cathedral.
It is a large building, not very imposing; but inside it is dark, and
the dirtiest church we had seen in Italy, which is saying a good deal.
To Protestants, the Waldensian Church is a place of great interest.
Unfortunately we had been informed at the hotel that the Italian
service was in the morning, and the French service in the afternoon;
and we therefore attended service in the morning, in the English Church
in the yard immediately behind it. Returning in the afternoon, we found
our informant was mistaken; the French service had been in the morning,
the afternoon service was in Italian. The church, which is a large one,
was scantily attended by a shifting congregation of the poorer classes
of Italians. Many, apparently Roman Catholics, just entered to see what
was doing, and after a few minutes went out again, to be replaced by
others. As we understood little of what was said, we did not stay the
service out. We learned at dinner from a lady who had been there in the
forenoon, that the morning service had been in French, that the church
was crowded by a most respectable congregation, and that the whole
service was most interesting.

Turin is a place in which a few days can be well spent, and an
excursion is not unfrequently made from it to the Waldensian valleys,
part of the way to which is by railway.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had a beautiful day on which to leave for Aix–les–Bains by the
Mont Cenis Tunnel. The view of the snowy mountains was brilliantly
clear as we approached them. In about six miles we reached the first
or low hills. Thenceforth the scenery along the line of railway was
at some parts wild and grand, and at others the hills were surmounted
by structures which gave a picturesque character to them. At last we
reached and passed through the Mont Cenis Tunnel. The time taken in
passing through was about twenty–eight minutes. It was long to be boxed
up in the dark, but it did not feel so long as I anticipated. Once or
twice I put down a window; the air felt slightly damp, not cold. On
issuing from it on the French side, the railway makes a long detour
to reach the lower level of Modane, where luggage is examined by the
French _douaniers_, and we changed into French carriages, which were
superior in comfort to those of the Italian line. The scenery all along
to Chambery and Aix–les–Bains was among the mountains, some of them
capped with snow.

We stayed, as we had planned, a week at Aix–les–Bains, and we should
have enjoyed it but that great part of the time we had rain, and the
air, though warm, was moist. A range of low hills separates Aix from
Lake Bourget, enclosed on the other side by steep rugged mountains,
their summits visible over the hills. A short walk takes one to the
top of these hills, whence an excellent view is had of the lake, upon
which a steamer plies during the summer. The lake is reached by the
road at a part fringed by tall poplars about one and a half to two
miles distant, offering a pleasant stroll on a fine afternoon such as
we had to walk to it.

       *       *       *       *       *

We left by a morning train for Dijon, and shortly after the sky got
black, and we were obliged to change carriages at Culoz in drenching
rain, the station being destitute of cover so necessary at a junction
like this, or indeed at every railway station. As we passed along, the
whole country seemed to be inundated. Both at Dijon and Fontainebleau
we were caught in showers unexpectedly. At Paris, where we rested for a
few days, we had rain, but principally through the night. At Boulogne
we had a shower. Crossing thence, we landed, after a beautiful passage,
at Folkestone in May 1878, and proceeded by Bristol to Stoke Bishop.
Here, instead of the sunshine with which the neighbourhood of Clifton
is usually favoured at this season, and to which we had looked forward,
we were still pursued by almost daily rain. After remaining six weeks
looking constantly for better weather, we got back to Scotland.

       *       *       *       *       *

And here with a sad heart I must close. I had written most of these
pages at a time when we had every belief that the changes experienced
had effected cure—at least to the extent of allowing us to go home for
the summer. And we had been so much longer away than we had proposed
when we left, that not unnaturally we were the more anxious to be back.
The last change was destined to be fatal. Looking to second causes,
it is probable that the unforeseen and unusual moisture to which we
had been exposed everywhere after leaving Italy, succeeding so long
a residence in a dry climate, had developed latent seeds of disease,
and weakness had latterly been increased by exposure to a cold draft
inducing cough. Whatever was the cause, she for whose benefit we
had taken this prolonged tour in sunny lands, and who we had fondly
hoped had been restored to health, sank within a few months from the
time of touching her native shore. It was when hopes were beginning
to revive, and she herself had thought the crisis was past, a sudden
change for the worse took place. After a restless night, the morning
light, for which she had anxiously longed, only arrived to bear her
soul peacefully away from weakness and solicitude to a land brighter
than any she had looked on here. Though gentle and unpresuming, her
cheerful and unselfish disposition, joined to other graces, and to good
sense born of a well–balanced and well–informed mind, soon made her
acquaintance valued wherever she went; and, scattered as so many are,
perhaps it is only through this little record some may chance to learn
that they have lost an esteemed friend.


                               THE END.


                     MORRISON AND GIBB, EDINBURGH,
             PRINTERS TO HER MAJESTY’S STATIONERY OFFICE.



APRIL 1879.

GENERAL LISTS OF NEW WORKS

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ASTRONOMY, METEOROLOGY, POPULAR GEOGRAPHY &c.

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THE USEFUL ARTS, MANUFACTURES &c.

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Loudon’s Encyclopædia of Agriculture. 8vo. 21_s._ — — — Gardening.
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Abbey & Overton’s English Church in the Eighteenth Century. 2 vols.
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Boultbee’s Commentary on the 39 Articles. Crown 8vo. 6_s._ Browne’s
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Library Edition, with all the Original Illustrations, Maps, Landscapes
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Colenso’s Lectures on the Pentateuch and the Moabite Stone. 8vo.
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Ephesians, 8_s._ 6_d._ Pastoral Epistles, 10_s._ 6_d._ Philippians,
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Ellicott’s Lectures on the Life of our Lord. 8vo. 12_s._ Ewald’s
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WORKS OF FICTION.

Becker’s Charicles; Private Life among the Ancient Greeks. Post 8vo.
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Cabinet Edition of Stories and Tales by Miss Sewell:—

Amy Herbert, 2_s._ 6_d._ Cleve Hall, 2_s._ 6_d._ The Earl’s Daughter,
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Ivors, 2_s._ 6_d._ Katharine Ashton, 2_s._ 6_d._ Laneton Parsonage,
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Novels and Tales by the Right Hon. the Earl of Beaconsfield, K.G.
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Lothair, 6_s._ Coningsby, 6_s._ Sybil, 6_s._ Tancred, 6_s._ Venetia.
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The Modern Novelist’s Library. Each Work in crown 8vo. A Single Volume,
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By the Earl of Beaconsfield, K.G.

Lothair. Coningsby. Sybil. Tancred. Venetia. Henrietta Temple.
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By Anthony Trollope.

Barchester Towers. The Warden.

By the Author of ‘the Rose Garden.’

Unawares.

By Major Whyte–Melville.

Digby Grand. General Bounce. Kate Coventry. The Gladiators. Good for
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By the Author of ‘the Atelier du Lys.’

Mademoiselle Mori. The Atelier du Lys.

By Various Writers.

Atherstone Priory. The Burgomaster’s Family. Elsa and her Vulture. The
Six Sisters of the Valley.

Lord Beaconsfield’s Novels and Tales, 10 vols. cloth extra, gilt
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POETRY & THE DRAMA.

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First Series. ‘Divided,’ ‘The Star’s Monument,’ &c. 5_s._ Second
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Blaine’s Encyclopædia of Rural Sports. 8vo. 21_s._ Dobson on the Ox,
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Nevile’s Horses and Riding. Crown 8vo. 6_s._ Reynardson’s Down the
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Stonehenge’s Dog in Health and Disease. Square crown 8vo. 7_s._ 6_d._
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WORKS OF UTILITY & GENERAL INFORMATION.

Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families. Fcp. 8vo. 6_s._ Black’s
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Lying–in Room. Fcp. 8vo. 2_s._ 6_d._ Campbell–Walker’s Correct Card,
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Banking. 8vo. 15_s._ Cunningham’s Conditions of Social Well–Being.
8vo. 10_s._ 6_d._ Handbook of Gold and Silver, by an Indian Official.
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Value of Property. Post 8vo. 10_s._ Wilson on Banking Reform. 8vo.
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                              FOOTNOTES:

[1] _Life of Watt_, 1839, p. 198.

[2] A compilation recently published gives an account of the means of
conveyance had in times past in Great Britain, but does not, except
very incidentally, touch upon those on the Continent. See Croal’s _Book
about Travelling, Past and Present_, W. P. Nimmo, Edinburgh.

[3] The following table, taken from Croal’s _Book about Travelling_,
p. 575, shows the extent of the railway system in 1875 on the European
Continent:—

                             Miles     Square Miles of Territory
                              of         to each Mile of Line.
                            Railway.

  Belgium,                   2,174                  5
  Switzerland,               1,300                 11
  German Empire,            14,472                 12
  France,                   12,376                 14
  Denmark,                     561                 18
  Netherlands,               1,016                 20
  Austria and Hungary,      10,154                 20
  Italy,                     4,817                 23
  Spain,                     3,822                 50
  Roumania,                    770                 59
  Portugal,                    596                 61
  Sweden,                    2,237                 63
  Turkey in Europe,            965                138
  Russia in Europe,         11,591                157
  Norway,                      339                387
   Greece,                       7              2,658


[4] The normal value of a sovereign is 25 francs 20 centimes.

[5] It may be interesting to give, as far as I have preserved note of
it, the rate of exchange received at different places during part of
the period we were away:—

  At Cannes,   Nov. 1876,           per £, 25·75
   ” Mentone,  Dec.  ”                ”    25·25
   ”    ”      thereafter,            ”    25·
   ” Nice,     February      1877,    ”    25·75
   ” San Remo, March           ”      ”    27·20
   ” Genoa,       ”            ”      ”    27·10
   ” Rome,        23d    ”     ”      ”    27·03
   ”   ”          19th April   ”      ”    27·90
   ” Florence,    28th   ”     ”      ”    28·10
   ”     ”         7th May     ”      ”    28·15
   ”     ”        12th  ”      ”      ”    28·10
   ” Venice,      20th  ”      ”      ”    28·25
   ”   ”           22d  ”      ”      ”    28·15
   ” Milan,       26th  ”      ”      ”    28·
   ” Como,        11th June    ”      ”    27·10
   ” Bellagio,      ”   ”      ”      ”    27·47
   ” Lucerne,     25th  ”      ”      ”    25·15
   ” Interlachen, 13th July    ”      ”    25·10
   ” Paris,            Aug.    ”      ”    25·
   ” Interlachen,        ”     ”      ”    25·10
   ” Montreux,     8th Sept.   ”      ”    25·12
   ” Biarritz,         Oct.    ”      ”    25·
   ” Pau,         18th   ”     ”      ”    25·05
   ”  ”           21st   ”     ”      ”    25·12
   ” Cannes,           Nov.    ”      ”    25·06
   ” San Remo,         March  1878,   ”    27·03
   ”     ”              April  ”      ”    27·45
   ”     ”                ”    ”      ”    27·37


[6] Little monthly time bills or leaflets can be got at the Company’s
offices in London and Paris, for which see Bradshaw. Some of them also,
like Cook’s and Gaze’s Lists, contain through fares to most places on
the Continent.

[7] A quarto publication, called _Voyages circulaires viâ le Mont Cenis
et la Corniche_, is issued by ‘Agence de Paris, Rue Auber 1, Maison du
Grand Hotel,’ containing circular tours in Italy, starting from Paris,
Nice, and Marseilles.

[8] The following may be given as specimens of the menu:—

_At the Grand Hotel du Louvre, Paris._

_Potage._—Consommé aux Quenelles; Hors d’œuvre; Melon.
_Relevées._—Saumon Sauce Hollandaise; Pommes de terre nature; Train
de Côtes à la broche; Aubergines à la Provençale. _Entrées._—Timbales
à la Joinville; Poulardes à la Demidoff. _Rot._—Canetons de Rouen au
Cresson; Salade de Romaine. _Entremets._—Petits Pois à l’Anglaise;
Biscuits Princesse; Garnis d’Allumettes. _Desserts._

_At a Provincial Hotel in France, somewhat more meagre than usual,
however (verbatim)._

_Potage._—Tapioca. _Relevées._—Epigrammes d’Agneau Bretonne.
_Entrées._—Poulets Sautés Maringa. _Legumes._—Choux de Bruxelles.
_Rôtis._—Ros bief. _Entremets._—Charlotte de Pommes Parisien, etc.
_Dessert._

[9] _A Winter’s Sketches in the South of France and the Pyrenees_, p. 7.

[10] At Naples I sat next a German who helped himself to four thick
slices of roast beef, then, according to German custom, began by
placing one above another, and cutting the whole into little squares
by drawing his knife first lengthways and then crossways through them,
and having so divided the beef, took his knife and shovelled, in quick
succession, all the pieces into his mouth. Fish is often a scarce
commodity, yet I have seen German ladies, after having liberally helped
themselves to it, call for more as they would for more of any other
course, though it is unusual for others to ask a second supply of any
course.

[11] Since this chapter was written, alterations have been made on
the French postal rates, and, _inter alia_, the postage to England is
reduced to 25 centimes, and for the interior to 15 centimes; but I have
allowed the text to stand as referring to the time we were away. There
may be other changes of which I am not aware.

[12] The _Guide_, arranged alphabetically, contains information
regarding the following countries and places:—Austria, Belgium,
Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal,
Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey in Europe, and the
Mediterranean. In Denmark and Greece the number of Protestant churches
is very limited. The Mediterranean embraces fifty–four towns, including
towns in Egypt and Palestine.

[13] The figures in this chapter are all given subject to correction.

[14] Bowing the head or bowing the knee at the mention of the name of
Jesus, is one of those literal renderings sometimes put upon words of
Scripture, of which in reading through, long ago, as a student, the
_Corpus Juris Canonici_, I found examples. The subject is disposed of
in Mr. Thomas Spalding’s _Scripture Difficulties_, p. 269.

[15] In Mr. Birrel’s interesting _Life of Dr. Brock_, a man of great
power and, I believe, of much liberality of mind, the following
passage (p. 241) occurs in reference to a Sunday in crossing the
Atlantic:—’Next day was all that a Sunday at home could be. We had
service, Mr. Nolan again officiating—the captain, however, this time
reading the prayers himself. One thing struck me painfully: when the
absolution came to be read, the captain gave way to the priest, who
alone stood and alone spoke; he alone had authority in the great matter
of remission. The captain had none. Of what is this the germ?’

[16] A French kilometre is equal to 1093·633 yards; an English mile is
1760 yards. Two miles are therefore more than three kilometres, and
two kilometres are equal to about one mile and a quarter (1¼). But all
the foreign measures differ, and it is puzzling therefore to know from
the railway guides and others what are the distances in English miles.
A uniform mileage system would be exceedingly useful. In fact, the
statesman who could effect uniformity in measures, weights, and coinage
throughout Europe, would do more real good than is obtained by more
glittering acts.

[17] _Vide_ Figuier’s _World before the Deluge_, p. 317.

[18] I have seen the numbers produced by a single insect in the course
of a year stated in a newspaper, but unfortunately did not preserve a
note of the information, which is not given in the usual books about
insects.

[19] It would be hardly possible for me to give from recollection a
complete list of all the hotels and pensions in Mentone, but I may note
some at least of the most prominent. Having had friends in many of
them, we had occasional opportunities of seeing them, and learning a
little regarding them; but only residence in each could enable anybody
to speak authoritatively, and therefore observations now made must be
taken in a very general way, and subject to all allowances, and as
perhaps mistaken.

At the extreme west, the Pavillon is, I believe, a well–appointed
hotel; but it is fully half a mile outside the town, to some a
recommendation. Between it and a small house, now called the Hotel
Anglo–Americaine, near to the Boirigo Bridge, there are several elegant
villas, some of them to let furnished. East of this bridge, facing
the promenade, are the Pension Condamine (small and moderate) and
some other minor houses and pensions; then the Hotel de Russie (one
on Gaze’s list); and crossing the Carrei, the first house beyond, and
overlooking the public gardens, is called the Pension Americaine,
in reality an hotel, with good cuisine, kept by an active, clever,
and attentive landlady; near to it, the Pension Camous, a tall,
overtopping, narrow building, at which the town street may be said to
commence; adjoining it, the Pension or Hotel de Londres; and a little
farther east, and more in town, the Hotels Westminster, Victoria, and
Menton—all large, and, I believe, expensive; and, last of all, the
Hotel du Midi. Beyond the Promenade, close to the market–place, and
not far from the harbour, the Hotel Bristol. With the exception of the
two last, all have gardens of more or less size between them and the
promenade, and all have access on the other side to the public street.

Back from or on the other side of the main street, there are many other
hotels and pensions, among which may be mentioned, west of the Carrei,
the Splendide (on Gaze’s list), a comfortable hotel within a garden;
the Hotel du Parc, on the avenue leading to the railway station, with
good rooms, although the entrance or site is not promising. On the
east side of the Carrei and some way up beyond the railway, which
it dominates, the Hotel du Louvre, a large, well–appointed hotel,
apparently frequented by Germans and Dutch; behind it, and rather
higher, there is the great Hotel des Îles Britanniques, commanding
good views, in every respect first class, patronized by the English
(though not exclusively so, one long table being set for the English
and another long one for the foreigners). The landlord claims it to be
the most expensive hotel in Mentone. Both these last–mentioned hotels
are near to the railway station, but carriages have to make a circuit
to reach them. Both are under shelter of an olive–covered hill rising
high and steep immediately behind, which also affords similar shelter
to the Hotels des Princes, Venise, D’Orient, Turin, and others, lying
nearly in a line to the eastward. The D’Orient and Turin have both
gardens in front,—that of the former is large, and in the garden of the
latter a bed of roses flourishes in full flower all the winter through.
Both are good houses, but the views from the windows and grounds are
confined, and street houses shut them out almost entirely from the view
of the sea. If, however, view be not considered important, the position
is comparatively sheltered. There are also about this part several
pensions, such as the ‘Des Alpes,’—a small house, and moderate charges.

In the east bay, after passing the old town, which in the afternoon
always casts a dank shadow on the part of the road which underlies
it, called the Quai Bonaparte, requiring the invalid to take special
precautions, and passing the drain pipe, the first hotel met is the
Grande Bretagne, one of the oldest houses. It is that upon Cook’s
list for Mentone, and consequently seems to be always well filled.
Up on the height behind, a little to the eastward, are the Hotels
d’Italie and Belle Vue, both comfortable; but the ascent to them is
steep, the fatigue being, however, rewarded by the fine view from the
terraces and windows. Returning to the road below, which is a part
of the Corniche, we observe the East English Church, and next to it
the Hotel de la Paix close to the street, but having a garden to the
back. Facing it across the road is the only bathing establishment of
Mentone. Adjoining its east side, but back from the road within a
garden, the Hotel des Anglais where Dr. Bennett obtains his quarters.
A little beyond, a small piece of ground, probably an acre in extent,
has recently been acquired and laid out as a public garden, in which
the band occasionally plays; and amidst a cluster of other hotels and
pensions farther east, the Grand Hotel, a comfortable, large house,
charging moderately. If the visitor prefer or is recommended to reside
in the east bay, he will find the extreme east (called the Quartier
Garavent, though so much farther from town, and though hot and dusty)
is the choicer situation. There is, however, an omnibus to town every
hour from the far east to about the Hotel du Pavillon, at the extreme
west end.

[20] A recently–published guide–book to the south of France says,
with regard to Mentone:—’A kind of gloom pervades Menton. The strip
of ground on which it stands is narrow, and so are the streets.’ ‘The
valleys are narrow and sombre. The roads up the mountains are steep,
badly paved, and are generally traversed on donkeys, which go slowly
and require so much chastisement that an ordinary walker will find it
less fatiguing to dispense with them.’ It also sets down the population
at 12,000, and that of Cannes, by far the larger town, at 7000. These
are statements which require revision, as they do not accord with the
facts.

[21] See Frontispiece.

[22] It is impossible to place reliance on the exactness of such
figures. They must throughout be taken as obtained from different
sources, and possibly in no one case correct. I should, for example,
here doubt whether Castiglione stands as high as the castle of Ste.
Agnese.

[23] It is the custom in the Riviera, and probably elsewhere in France,
to give free of charge, to those who are on pension, their lunch to
take with them on such excursions, which they would otherwise have had
at the hotel.

[24] At Biarritz a different practice prevails. Instead of beating the
linen, the linen is employed to beat the stone. We have seen a lady’s
fancy petticoat thus thrashed against the stones without mercy.

[25] The expense of washing at Mentone, though not moderate, is less
than in Paris.

[26] Mr. C. Home–Douglas (p. 177) publishes observations giving much
lower mean temperatures. I suppose in these matters observers seldom
agree.

[27] I shall use henceforth franc for lira, the Italian name, for
simplicity’s sake.

[28] The ceremony of baptism in the Greek Church is even more trying to
the poor child. See _The Englishwoman in Russia_, p. 265.

[29] I have since seen a different account given of this stone.

[30] So called from its colossal size. It is sometimes spelt Coliseum,
a corruption of the word.

[31] The arena of Nismes is 148 by 112 yards, height 74 feet, and
accommodated 32,000 spectators; arena, 74 by 42 yards. The Colosseum,
205 by 170 yards, height 156 feet, accommodating 87,000 spectators
(besides containing standing room for 23,000 more in the porticoes and
surrounding passages); arena, 93 by 58 yards. But in stating these
and other measurements, it is always right to keep in mind that in
different books the figures do not correspond, and one well–informed
and most reliable writer states the dimensions of the Colosseum at
about 40 feet more each way than the above. Mr. Storey’s figures
for the Colosseum also vary from the above several yards in each
measurement. For a pretty full account of the Colosseum, reference may
be made to Storey’s _Roba di Roma_, vol. i. chap. ix.

[32] The extent, however, is variously computed. One writer, generally
very exact, says: ‘According to Romani and Nibby’s plan of Rome,’
Caracalla’s baths ‘covered an area of 370 yards square, or 28 English
acres.’ ‘Eustace makes the extent twice as great.’ Gibbon states that
they were a mile in circumference, which would be 193,600 square
yards, or 40 acres. Hare says they covered a space of 2,625,000 square
yards, which is equal to 542 acres. It is not improbable that some
measurements may refer merely to the ground covered by buildings, and
that others comprehend ground not so covered. But even this explanation
will not account for such extraordinary discrepancies.

[33] Bædeker says: ‘At the back of the Pantheon are situated the ruins
of the Thermæ of Agrippa, the proximity of which to the Pantheon once
gave rise to the absurd conjecture that the temple originally belonged
to the baths, and was afterwards converted into a temple.’ In a matter
of this kind, however, the authority of such a man as Mr. Thomson is
much to be preferred to that of any writer in a guide–book.

[34] It seems that at _Tre Fontane_, above a mile westward, which we
did not visit, the Eucalyptus tree has now been largely planted; and if
it will grow, it is expected to render the locality healthy.

[35] Miss Kate Thompson’s _Handbook to the Public Picture Galleries of
Europe_, Macmillan, 1877, is a useful little volume in its way, but its
illustration would occupy volumes.

[36] After being in several shops, we concluded that C. Roccheggiani,
Via Condotti, had the largest and most varied stock.

[37] This number is stated upon an authority which differs in the
further figures here given, some of which seem almost incredibly large.
How the 9025 baths can be reconciled with the statement (p. 299) of
sixteen bathing establishments, I do not pretend to say.

[38] I see it stated that in 1851 the number of Romish priests in
Great Britain was 958; of Romish chapels, 683; of monasteries, 17; of
religious houses for women, 53. In 1879 these numbers were increased
to 1238, 1386, 118, and 272 respectively. The number of the laity
doubtless has increased, though possibly, and as it is to be hoped, not
correspondingly.

[39] So named after the present proprietrix, Mme. Barbensi. It seems
quite a foreign or at least an Italian practice to call houses after
the name of the proprietor. Molini was either her maiden name or the
name of the previous proprietor.

[40] ‘Were I now to begin the world again, I would tread in the steps
of that great master; to kiss the hem of his garment, to catch the
slightest of his perfections, would be glory and distinction enough for
an ambitious man.’—15th Discourse.

[41] A large valuable work in small folio, copiously
illustrated—veritable volumes _de luxe_—has recently been published:
‘_Venise: Histoire, Art, Industrie, la Ville, la Vie._ Par Charles
Yriarte.’

[42] Here, as in other things, measurements differ, one authority
having it 443 feet long, another 477 feet, interior measurement.
Though it may be shorter than St. Paul’s of London, it is no doubt
considerably wider, and covers, therefore, a greater area.

[43] It is stated in one book that in December 1845 the thermometer
registered as low as-82·90°, equal to about-185° Fahr. This was
incredible; and on looking the Austrian official records I found it
should have been-2·9°, showing with what caution such statements in
non–official books should be taken.

[44] Afterwards, at Interlachen, when standing on a rustic bridge, she
saw a small snake crawling on the path, and called to me. It was about
15 to 18 inches long. I went and pitched it into the stream.

[45] I am told the winter season is now becoming very gay and very dear
too.

[46] The accompanying illustration, depicting three gentlemen and
seven ladies in bathing costume, was taken (tell it not in Gath) from
jottings made at a safe distance. The stout lady in the centre was
doubtless a Spaniard.

[47] As this is passing through the press, the sad news has come which
has sent a thrill of sympathy through every British breast for the
heartbroken bereaved mother. Any objection on the part of France which
might formerly have prevailed against her return to Biarritz, if she
should desire it, can no longer possibly exist. Let us hope that a
generous kindly feeling will pervade all parties in France towards one
who once filled a place so high among so great a people, and upon whom
such overwhelming sorrows have fallen.

[48] Some additional information, particularly regarding places in the
vicinity, will be found in _Biarritz and Basque Countries_, by Count
Henry Russell, though the chapter on Biarritz itself is brief and
scanty.

[49] I have his third edition, published in 1861. It is possible there
may be a later one. Dr. Taylor was knighted, at the request of the
Emperor Napoleon III., in recognition of his efforts to develop the
resources of Pau as a residence for invalids. He has just (May 1879)
died.


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE:

—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.





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