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Title: Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents
Author: Beckford, William
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents" ***

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INCIDENTS***


Transcribed from the 1891 Ward, Lock and Co. edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

   [Picture: William Beckford.  From the original picture by Sir Joshua
                                Reynolds]



                                 DREAMS,
                             WAKING THOUGHTS,
                                   AND
                                INCIDENTS;
                                   IN A
                            SERIES OF LETTERS
                                   FROM
                         VARIOUS PARTS OF EUROPE.


LETTER I.


_June_ 19_th_, 1780.—Shall I tell you my dreams?—To give an account of my
time is doing, I assure you, but little better.  Never did there exist a
more ideal being.  A frequent mist hovers before my eyes, and, through
its medium, I see objects so faint and hazy, that both their colours and
forms are apt to delude me.  This is a rare confession, say the wise, for
a traveller to make: pretty accounts will such a one give of outlandish
countries: his correspondents must reap great benefit, no doubt, from
such purblind observations.  But stop, my good friends; patience a
moment!—I really have not the vanity of pretending to make a single
remark, during the whole of my journey: if — be contented with my
visionary way of gazing, I am perfectly pleased; and shall write away as
freely as Mr. A., Mr. B., Mr. C., and a million others whose letters are
the admiration of the politest circles.

All through Kent did I doze as usual; now and then I opened my eyes to
take in an idea or two of the green, woody country through which I was
passing; then closed them again; transported myself back to my native
hills; thought I led a choir of those I loved best through their shades;
and was happy in the arms of illusion.  The sun set before I recovered my
senses enough to discover plainly the variegated slopes near Canterbury,
waving with slender birch-trees, and gilt with a profusion of broom.  I
thought myself still in my beloved solitude, but missed the companions of
my slumbers.  Where are they?—Behind yon blue hills, perhaps, or t’other
side of that thick forest.  My fancy was travelling after these
deserters, till we reached the town; vile enough o’ conscience, and fit
only to be passed in one’s sleep.  The moment after I got out of the
carriage, brought me to the cathedral; an old haunt of mine.  I had
always venerated its lofty pillars, dim aisles, and mysterious arches.
Last night they were more solemn than ever, and echoed no other sound
than my steps.  I strayed about the choir and chapels, till they grew so
dark and dismal, that I was half inclined to be frightened; looked over
my shoulder; thought of spectres that have an awkward trick of syllabling
men’s names in dreary places; and fancied a sepulchral voice exclaiming:
“Worship my toe at Ghent; my ribs at Florence; my skull at Bologna,
Sienna, and Rome.  Beware how you neglect this order; for my bones, as
well as my spirit, have the miraculous property of being here, there, and
everywhere.”  These injunctions, you may suppose, were received in a
becoming manner, and noted all down in my pocket-book by inspiration (for
I could not see), and hurrying into the open air, I was whirled away in
the dark to Margate.  Don’t ask what were my dreams thither:—nothing but
horrors, deep-vaulted tombs, and pale, though lovely figures, extended
upon them; shrill blasts that sung in my ears, and filled me with
sadness, and the recollection of happy hours, fleeting away, perhaps for
ever!  I was not sorry, when the bustle of our coming-in dispelled these
phantoms.  The change, however, in point of scenery was not calculated to
dissipate my gloom; for the first object in this world that presented
itself, was a vast expanse of sea, just visible by the gleamings of the
moon, bathed in watery clouds; a chill air ruffled the waves.  I went to
shiver a few melancholy moments on the shore.  How often did I try to
wish away the reality of my separation from those I love, and attempt to
persuade myself it was but a dream!

This morning I found myself more cheerfully disposed, by the queer Dutch
faces with short pipes and ginger-bread complexions that came smirking
and scraping to get us on board their respective vessels; but, as I had a
ship engaged for me before, their invitations were all in vain.  The wind
blows fair; and, should it continue of the same mind a few hours longer,
we shall have no cause to complain of our passage.  Adieu!  Think of me
sometimes.  If you write immediately, I shall receive your letter at the
Hague.

It is a bright sunny evening: the sea reflects a thousand glowing
colours, and, in a minute or two, I shall be gliding on its surface.



LETTER II.


                                                    OSTEND, _June_ 21_st_.

T’other minute I was in Greece, gathering the bloom of Hymettus, but now
I am landed in Flanders, smoked with tobacco, and half poisoned with
garlic.  Were I to remain ten days at Ostend, I should scarcely have one
delightful vision; ’tis so unclassic a place—nothing but preposterous
Flemish roofs disgust your eyes when you cast them upwards; swaggering
Dutchmen and mongrel barbers are the principal objects they meet with
below.  I should esteem myself in luck, were the nuisances of this
seaport confined only to two senses; but, alas! the apartment above my
head proves a squalling brattery, and the sounds which proceed from it
are so loud and frequent, that a person might think himself in limbo,
without any extravagance.

Am I not an object of pity, when I tell you that I was tormented
yesterday by a similar cause?  But I know not how it is; your violent
complainers are the least apt to excite compassion.  I believe,
notwithstanding, if another rising generation should lodge above me at
the next inn, I shall grow as scurrilous as Dr. Smollett, and be
dignified with the appellation of the Younger Smelfungus.  Well, let
those make out my diploma that will, I am determined to vent my spleen,
and like Lucifer, unable to enjoy comfort myself, tease others with the
details of my vexatious.  You must know, then, since I am resolved to
grumble, that, tired with my passage, I went to the Capuchin church, a
large solemn building, in search of silence and solitude; but here again
was I disappointed.  Half-a-dozen squeaking fiddles fugued and flourished
away in the galleries, and as many paralytic monks gabbled before the
altars, while a whole posse of devotees, in long white hoods and
flannels, were sweltering on either side.

Such piety, in warm weather, was no very fragrant circumstance; so I
sought the open air again as fast as I was able.  The serenity of the
evening, joined to the desire I had of casting another glance over the
ocean, tempted me to the ramparts.  There, at least, thought I to myself,
I may range undisturbed, and talk with my old friends the breezes, and
address my discourse to the waves, and be as romantic and whimsical as I
please; but it happened that I had scarcely begun my apostrophe, before
out flaunted a whole rank of officers, with ladies and abbés and puppy
dogs, singing, and flirting, and making such a hubbub, that I had not one
peaceful moment to observe the bright tints of the western horizon, or
enjoy the series of antique ideas with which a calm sunset never fails to
inspire me.

Finding, therefore, no quiet abroad, I returned to my inn, and should
have gone immediately to bed, in hopes of relapsing into the bosom of
dreams and delusions; but the limbo I mentioned before grew so very
outrageous, that I was obliged to postpone my rest till sugar-plums and
nursery eloquence had hushed it to repose.  At length peace was restored,
and about eleven o’clock I fell into a slumber, during which the most
lovely Sicilian prospects filled the eye of my fancy.  I anticipated the
classic scenes of that famous island, and forgot every sorrow in the
meadows of Enna.

Next morning, awakened by the sunbeams, I arose quite refreshed by the
agreeable impressions of my dream, and filled with presages of future
happiness in the climes which had inspired them.  No other idea but such
as Trinacria and Naples suggested, haunted me whilst travelling to Ghent.
I neither heard the vile Flemish dialect which was talking around me, nor
noticed formal avenues and marshy country which we passed.  When we
stopped to change horses, I closed my eyes upon the whole scene, and was
transported immediately to some Grecian solitude, where Theocritus and
his shepherds were filling the air with melody.  To one so far gone in
poetic antiquity, Ghent is not the most likely place to recall his
attention; and I know nothing more about it, than that it is a large,
ill-paved, dismal-looking city, with a decent proportion of convents and
chapels, stuffed with monuments, brazen gates, and glittering marbles.
In the great church were two or three pictures by Rubens, mechanically
excellent, but these realities were not designed in so graceful a manner
as to divert my attention from the mere descriptions Pausanias gives us
of the works of Grecian artists, and I would at any time fall asleep in a
Flemish cathedral, for a vision of the temple of Olympian Jupiter.  But I
think I hear, at this moment, some grave and respectable personage
chiding me for such levities, and saying, “Really, Sir, you had better
stay at home, and dream in your great chair, than give yourself the
trouble of going post through Europe, in search of inspiring places to
fall asleep.  If Flanders and Holland are to be dreamed over at this
rate, you had better take ship at once, and doze all the way to Italy.”
Upon my word, I should not have much objection to that scheme; and, if
some cabalist would but transport me in an instant to the summit of Ætna,
any body might slop through the Low Countries that pleased.

Being, however, so far advanced, there was no retracting; and as it is
now three or four years since I have almost abandoned the hopes of
discovering a necromancer, I resolved to journey along with Quiet and
Content for my companions.  These two comfortable deities have, I
believe, taken Flanders under their especial protection; every step one
advances discovering some new proof of their influence.  The neatness of
the houses, and the universal cleanliness of the villages, show plainly
that their inhabitants live in ease and good humour.  All is still and
peaceful in these fertile lowlands: the eye meets nothing but round,
unmeaning faces at every door, and harmless stupidity smiling at every
window.  The beasts, as placid as their masters, graze on without any
disturbance; and I scarcely recollect to have heard one grunting swine or
snarling mastiff during my whole progress.  Before every village is a
wealthy dunghill, not at all offensive, because but seldom disturbed; and
there they bask in the sun, and wallow at their ease, till the hour of
death and bacon arrives, when capacious paunches await them.  If I may
judge from the healthy looks and reposed complexions of the Flemings,
they have every reason to expect a peaceful tomb.

But it is high time to leave our swinish moralities behind us, and to jog
on towards Antwerp.  More rich pastures, more ample fields of grain, more
flourishing willows!—a boundless plain before this city, dotted with cows
and flowers, from whence its spires and quaint roofs are seen to
advantage.  The pale colours of the sky, and a few gleams of watery
sunshine, gave a true Flemish cast to the scenery, and everything
appeared so consistent, that I had not a shadow of pretence to think
myself asleep.

After crossing a broad, noble river, edged on one side by beds of osiers
beautifully green, and on the other by gates and turrets preposterously
ugly, we came through several streets of lofty houses to our inn.  Its
situation in the “Place de Mer,” a vast open space surrounded by
buildings above buildings, and roof above roof, has something striking
and singular.  A tall gilt crucifix of bronze, sculptured by some famous
artist, adds to its splendour; and the tops of some tufted trees, seen
above a line of magnificent hotels, have no bad effect in the
perspective.

It was almost dusk when we arrived; and as I am very partial to new
objects discovered by this dubious visionary light, I went immediately
a-rambling.  Not a sound disturbed my meditations; there were no groups
of squabbling children or talkative old women.  The whole town seemed
retired into their inmost chambers; and I kept winding and turning about,
from street to street, and from alley to alley, without meeting a single
inhabitant.  Now and then, indeed, one or two women in long cloaks and
mantles glided about at a distance; but their dress was so shroud-like,
and their whole appearance so ghostly, that I was more than half afraid
to accost them.  As the night approached, the ranges of buildings grew
more and more dim, and the silence which reigned amongst them more awful.
The canals, which in some places intersect the streets, were likewise in
perfect solitude, and there was just light sufficient for me to observe
on the still waters the reflection of the structures above them.  Except
two or three tapers glimmering through the casements, no one circumstance
indicated human existence.  I might, without being thought very romantic,
have imagined myself in the city of petrified people, which Arabian
fabulists are so fond of describing.  Were any one to ask my advice upon
the subject of retirement, I should tell him,—By all means repair to
Antwerp.  No village amongst the Alps, or hermitage upon Mount Lebanon,
is less disturbed: you may pass your days in this great city without
being the least conscious of its sixty thousand inhabitants, unless you
visit the churches.  There, indeed, are to be heard a few devout
whispers, and sometimes, to be sure, the bells make a little chiming; but
walk about, as I do, in the twilights of midsummer, and be assured your
ears will be free from all molestation.

You can have no idea how many strange, amusing fancies played around me
whilst I wandered along; nor how delighted I was with the novelty of my
situation.  But a few days ago, thought I within myself, I was in the
midst of all the tumult and uproar of London: now, as if by some magic
influence, I am transported to a city equally remarkable for streets and
edifices, but whose inhabitants seem cast into a profound repose.  What a
pity that we cannot borrow some small share of this soporific
disposition!  It would temper that restless spirit which throws us
sometimes into such dreadful convulsions.  However, let us not be too
precipitate in desiring so dead a calm; the time may arrive when, like
Antwerp, we may sink into the arms of forgetfulness; when a fine verdure
may carpet our Exchange, and passengers traverse the Strand, without any
danger of being smothered in crowds, or lost in the confusion of
carriages.

Reflecting, in this manner, upon the silence of the place, contrasted
with the important bustle which formerly rendered it so famous, I
insensibly drew near to the cathedral, and found myself, before I was
aware, under its stupendous tower.  It is difficult to conceive an object
more solemn or imposing than this edifice at the hour I first beheld it.
Dark shades hindered my examining the lower galleries or windows; their
elaborate carved work was invisible; nothing but huge masses of building
met my sight, and the tower, shooting up four hundred and sixty-six feet
into the air, received an additional importance from the gloom which
prevailed below.  The sky being perfectly clear, several stars twinkled
through the mosaic of the spire, and added not a little to its enchanted
effect.  I longed to ascend it that instant, to stretch myself out upon
its very summit, and calculate from so sublime an elevation the influence
of the planets.

Whilst I was indulging my astrological reveries, a ponderous bell struck
ten, and such a peal of chimes succeeded, as shook the whole edifice,
notwithstanding its bulk, and drove me away in a hurry.  No mob
obstructed my passage, and I ran through a succession of streets, free
and unmolested, as if I had been skimming along over the downs of
Wiltshire.  My servants conversing before the hotel were the only sounds
which the great “Place de Mer” echoed.

This universal stillness was the more pleasing, when I looked back upon
those scenes of horror and outcry which filled London but a week or two
ago, when danger was not confined to night only, and the environs of the
capital, but haunted our streets at midday.  Here, I could wander over an
entire city; stray by the port, and venture through the most obscure
alleys, without a single apprehension; without beholding a sky red and
portentous with the light of fires, or hearing the confused and
terrifying murmurs of shouts and groans, mingled with the reports of
artillery.  I can assure you, I think myself very fortunate to have
escaped the possibility of another such week of desolation, and to be
peaceably roosted at Antwerp.  Were I not still fatigued with my heavy
progress through sands and quagmires, I should descant a little longer
upon the blessings of so quiet a metropolis, but it is growing late, and
I must retire to enjoy it.



LETTER III.


                                                   ANTWERP, _June_ 23_rd_.

My windows look full upon the Place de Mer, and the sun, beaming through
their white curtains, awoke me from a dream of Arabian happiness.
Imagination had procured herself a tent on the mountains of Sanaa,
covered with coffee-trees in bloom.  She was presenting me the essence of
their flowers, and was just telling me that you possessed a pavilion on a
neighbouring hill, when the sunshine dispelled the vision; and opening my
eyes, I found myself pent in by Flemish spires and buildings: no hills,
no verdure, no aromatic breezes, no hope of being in your vicinity: all
were vanished with the shadows of fancy, and I was left alone to deplore
your absence.  But I think it rather selfish to wish you here, for what
pleasure could pacing from one dull church to another, afford a person of
your turn?  I don’t believe you would catch a taste for blubbering
Magdalens and coarse Madonnas, by lolling in Rubens’ chair; nor do I
believe a view of the Ostades and Snyders, so liberally scattered in
every collection, would greatly improve your pencil.

After breakfast this morning I began my pilgrimage to all those
illustrious cabinets.  First, I went to Monsieur Van Lencren’s, who
possesses a suite of apartments, lined, from the base to the cornice,
with the rarest productions of the Flemish school.  Heavens forbid I
should enter into a detail of their niceties!  I might as well count the
dew-drops upon any of Van Huysem’s flower-pieces, or the pimples on their
possessor’s countenance; a very good sort of man, indeed; but from whom I
was not at all sorry to be delivered.

My joy was, however, of short duration, as a few minutes brought me into
the courtyard of the Chanoin Knyfe’s habitation; a snug abode, well
furnished with easy chairs and orthodox couches.  After viewing the rooms
on the first floor, we mounted a gentle staircase, and entered an
ante-chamber, which those who delight in the imitations of art rather
than of nature, in the likenesses of joint stools and the portraits of
tankards, would esteem most capitally adorned: but it must be confessed,
that, amongst these uninteresting performances, are dispersed a few
striking Berghems and agreeable Polemburgs.  In the gallery adjoining,
two or three Rosa de Tivolis merit observation; and a large Teniers,
representing a St. Anthony surrounded by a malicious fry of imps and
leering devilesses, is well calculated to display the whimsical
buffoonery of a Dutch imagination.

I was observing this strange medley, when the Canon made his appearance;
and a most prepossessing figure he has, according to Flemish ideas.  In
my humble opinion his Reverence looked a little muddled or so; and, to be
sure, the description I afterwards heard of his style of living, favours
not a little my surmises.  This worthy dignitary, what with his private
fortune and the good things of the church, enjoys a revenue of about five
thousand pounds sterling, which he contrives to get rid of in the joys of
the table and the encouragement of the pencil.

His servants, perhaps, assist not a little in the expenditure of so
comfortable an income; the Canon being upon a very social footing with
them all.  At four o’clock in the afternoon, a select party attend him in
his coach to an alehouse about a league from the city; where a table,
well spread with jugs of beer and handsome cheeses, waits their arrival.
After enjoying this rural fare, the same equipage conducts them back
again, by all accounts, much faster than they came; which may well be
conceived, as the coachman is one of the brightest wits of the
entertainment.

My compliments, alas! were not much relished, you may suppose, by this
jovial personage.  I said a few favourable words of Polemburg, and
offered up a small tribute of praise to the memory of Berghem; but, as I
could not prevail upon Mynheer Knyfe to expand, I made one of my best
bows, and left him to the enjoyment of his domestic felicity.

In my way home, I looked into another cabinet, the greatest ornament of
which was a most sublime thistle by Snyders, of the heroic size, and so
faithfully imitated that I dare say no ass could see it unmoved.  At
length, it was lawful to return home; and as I positively refused
visiting any more cabinets in the afternoon, I sent for a harpsichord of
Rucker, and played myself quite out of the Netherlands.

It was late before I finished my musical excursion, and I took advantage
of this dusky moment to revisit the cathedral.  A flight of starlings was
fluttering about one of the pinnacles of the tower; their faint chirpings
were the only sounds that broke the stillness of the air.  Not a human
form appeared at any of the windows around; no footsteps were audible in
the opening before the grand entrance; and, during the half hour I spent
in walking to and fro beneath the spire, one solitary Franciscan was the
only creature that accosted me.  From him I learnt that a grand service
was to be performed next day in honour of St. John the Baptist, and the
best music in Flanders would be called forth on the occasion.  As I had
seen cabinets enough to form some slight judgment of Flemish painting, I
determined to stay one day longer at Antwerp to hear a little how its
inhabitants were disposed to harmony.

Having taken this resolution, I formed an acquaintance with Mynheer
Vander Bosch, the first organist of the place, who very kindly permitted
me to sit next him in his gallery during the celebration of high mass.
The service ended, I strayed about the aisles, and examined the
innumerable chapels which decorate them, whilst Mynheer Vander Bosch
thundered and lightened away upon his huge organ with fifty stops.

When the first flashes of execution were a little subsided, I took an
opportunity of surveying the celebrated “Descent from the Cross,” which
has ever been esteemed one of Rubens’s chef d’œuvres, and for which they
say old Lewis Baboon offered no less a sum than forty thousand florins.
The principal figure has, doubtless, a very meritorious paleness, and
looks as dead as an artist could desire; the rest of the group have been
so liberally praised, that there is no occasion to add another tittle of
commendation.  A swinging St. Christopher, fording a brook with a child
on his shoulders, cannot fail of attracting your attention.  This
colossal personage is painted on the folding-doors which defend the
capital performance just mentioned from vulgar eyes; and here Rubens has
selected a very proper subject to display the gigantic coarseness of his
pencil.

Had this powerful artist confined his strength to the representation of
agonizing thieves and sturdy Barabbases, nobody would have been readier
than your humble servant to offer incense at his shrine, but when I find
him lost in the flounces of the Virgin’s drapery, or bewildered in the
graces of St. Catherine’s smile, pardon me if I withhold my adoration.
After I had most dutifully observed all the Rubenses in the church, I
walked half over Antwerp in search of St. John’s relics, which were
moving about in procession, but an heretical wind having extinguished all
their tapers, and discomposed the canopy over the Bon Dieu, I cannot say
much for the grandeur of the spectacle.  If my eyes were not greatly
regaled by the Saint’s magnificence, my ears were greatly affected in the
evening by the music which sang forth his praises.  The cathedral was
crowded with devotees and perfumed with incense.  Several of its marble
altars gleamed with the reflection of lamps, and, altogether, the
spectacle was new and imposing.  I knelt very piously in one of the
aisles while a symphony in the best style of Corelli, performed with
taste and feeling, transported me to Italian climates, and I was quite
vexed, when a cessation dissolved the charm, to think that I had still so
many tramontane regions to pass, before I could in effect reach that
classic country, where my spirit had so long taken up its abode.  Finding
it was in vain to wish or expect any preternatural interposition, and
perceiving no conscious angel, or Loretto-vehicle, waiting in some dark
consecrated corner to bear me away, I humbly returned to my hotel in the
Place de Mer, and soothed myself with some terrestrial harmony; till, my
eyes growing heavy, I fell fast asleep, and entered the empire of dreams,
according to custom, by its ivory portal.  What passed in those shadowy
realms is too thin and unsubstantial to be committed to paper.  The very
breath of waking mortals would dissipate all the train, and drive them
eternally away; give me leave, therefore, to omit the relation of my
visionary travels, and have the patience to pursue a sketch of my real
ones from Antwerp to the Hague.

_Monday_, _June_ 26_th_, we were again upon the pavé, rattling and
jumbling along between clipped hedges and blighted avenues.  The plagues
of Egypt have been renewed, one might almost imagine, in this country, by
the appearance of the oak-trees: not a leaf have the insects spared.
After having had the displeasure of seeing no other objects for several
hours, but these blasted rows, the scene changed to vast tracts of level
country, buried in sand, and smothered with heath; the particular
character of which I had but too good an opportunity of intimately
knowing, as a tortoise might have kept pace with us without being once
out of breath.

Towards evening, we entered the dominions of the United Provinces, and
had all their glory of canals, track-shuyts, and windmills before us.
The minute neatness of the villages, their red roofs, and the lively
green of the willows which shade them, corresponded with the ideas I had
formed of Chinese prospects; a resemblance which was not diminished upon
viewing on every side the level scenery of enamelled meadows, with
stripes of clear water across them, and innumerable barges gliding busily
along.  Nothing could be finer than the weather; it improved each moment,
as if propitious to my exotic fancies; and, at sunset, not one single
cloud obscured the horizon.  Several storks were parading by the
water-side, amongst flags and osiers; and, as far as the eye could reach,
large herds of beautifully spotted cattle were enjoying the plenty of
their pastures.  I was perfectly in the environs of Canton, or Ning Po,
till we reached Meerdyke.  You know fumigations are always the current
recipe in romance to break an enchantment; as soon, therefore, as I left
my carriage, and entered my inn, the clouds of tobacco which filled every
one of its apartments dispersed my Chinese imaginations, and reduced me
in an instant to Holland.

                         [Picture: Deleft Haven]

Why should I enlarge upon my adventures at Meerdyke?  To tell you that
its inhabitants are the most uncouth bipeds in the universe would be
nothing very new or entertaining; so let me at once pass over the
village, leave Rotterdam, and even Delft, that great parent of pottery,
and transport you with a wave of my pen to the Hague.

As the evening was rather warm, I immediately walked out to enjoy the
shade of the long avenue which leads to Scheveling.  It was fresh and
pleasant enough, but I breathed none of those genuine woody perfumes,
which exhale from the depths of forests, and which allure my imagination
at once to the haunts of Pan and the good old Sylvanus.  However, I was
far from displeased with my ramble; and, consoling myself with the hopes
of shortly reposing in the sylvan labyrinths of Nemi, I proceeded to the
village on the sea-coast, which terminates the perspective.  Almost every
cottage door being open to catch the air, I had an opportunity of looking
into their neat apartments.  Tables, shelves, earthenware, all glisten
with cleanliness; the country people were drinking tea, after the
fatigues of the day, and talking over its bargains and contrivances.

I left them, to walk on the beach, and was so charmed with the vast azure
expanse of ocean, which opened suddenly upon me, that I remained there a
full half hour.  More than two hundred vessels of different sizes were in
sight, the last sunbeams purpling their sails, and casting a path of
innumerable brilliants athwart the waves.  What would I not have given to
follow this shining track!  It might have conducted me straight to those
fortunate western climates, those happy isles which you are so fond of
painting, and I of dreaming about.  But, unluckily, this passage was the
only one my neighbours the Dutch were ignorant of.  To be sure they have
islands rich in spices, and blessed with the sun’s particular attention,
but which their government, I am apt to imagine, renders by no means
fortunate.

Abandoning therefore all hopes at present of this adventurous voyage, I
returned towards the Hague, and, in my way home, looked into a
country-house of the late Count Bentinck, with parterres and bosquets by
no means resembling (one should conjecture) the gardens of the
Hesperides.  But, considering that the whole group of trees, terraces,
and verdure were in a manner created out of hills of sand, the place may
claim some portion of merit.  The walks and alleys have all the stiffness
and formality our ancestors admired; but the intermediate spaces, being
dotted with clumps and sprinkled with flowers, are imagined in Holland to
be in the English style.  An Englishman ought certainly to behold it with
partial eyes, since every possible attempt has been made to twist it into
the taste of his country.

I need not say how liberally I bestowed my encomiums on Count B.’s
tasteful intentions; nor how happy I was, when I had duly serpentized
over his garden, to find myself once more in the grand avenue.  All the
way home, I reflected upon the economical disposition of the Dutch, who
raise gardens from heaps of sand, and cities out of the bosom of the
waters.  I had still a further proof of this thrifty turn, since the
first object I met was an unwieldy fellow (not able, or unwilling,
perhaps, to afford horses) airing his carcass in a one-dog chair.  The
poor animal puffed and panted,—Mynheer smoked, and gaped around him with
the most blessed indifference.



LETTER IV.


                                                            _June_ 30_th_.

I dedicated the morning to the Prince of Orange’s cabinet of paintings
and curiosities both natural and artificial.  Amongst the pictures which
amused me the most is a St. Anthony, by Hell-fire Brughel, who has shown
himself right worthy of the title; for a more diabolical variety of imps
never entered the human imagination.  Brughel has made his saint take
refuge in a ditch filled with harpies and creeping things innumerable,
whose malice, one should think, would have lost Job himself the
reputation of patience.  Castles of steel and fiery turrets glare on
every side, from whence issue a band of junior devils.  These seem highly
entertained with pinking poor St. Anthony, and whispering, I warrant ye,
filthy tales in his ear.  Nothing can be more rueful than the patient’s
countenance; more forlorn than his beard; more pious than his eye, which
forms a strong contrast to the pert winks and insidious glances of his
persecutors; some of whom; I need not mention, are evidently of the
female kind.

But really I am quite ashamed of having detained you in such bad company
so long; and, had I a moment to spare, you should be introduced to a
better set in this gallery, where some of the most exquisite Berghems and
Wouvermans I ever beheld would delight you for hours.  I do not think you
would look much at the Polemburgs; there are but two, and one of them is
very far from capital; in short I am in a great hurry; so pardon me,
Carlo Cignani! if I don’t do justice to your merit; and excuse me,
Potter! if I pass by your herds without leaving a tribute of admiration.

Mynheer Van Something is as eager to precipitate my motions as I was to
get out of the damps and perplexities of Soorflect yesterday evening; so
mounting a very indifferent staircase, he led me to a suite of
garret-like apartments; which, considering the meanness of their
exterior, I was much surprised to find stored with some of the most
valuable productions of the Indies.  Gold cups enriched with gems, models
of Chinese palaces in ivory, glittering armour of Hindostan, and Japan
caskets, filled every corner of this awkward treasury.  What of all its
baubles pleased me most was a large coffer of some precious wood,
containing enamelled flasks of oriental essences, enough to perfume a
zenana, and so fragrant that I thought the Mogul himself a Dutchman, for
lavishing them upon this inelegant nation.  If disagreeable fumes, as I
mentioned before, dissolve enchantments, such aromatic oils have
doubtless the power of raising them; for, whilst I scented their
fragrance, scarcely could anything have persuaded me that I was not in
the wardrobe of Hecuba,—

              “Where treasur’d odours breath’d a costly scent.”

I saw, or seemed to see, the arched apartments, the procession of
venerable matrons, the consecrated vestments: the very temple began to
rise upon my sight, when a Dutch porpoise approaching to make me a low
bow; his complaisance was full as notorious as Satan’s, when, according
to Catholic legends, he took leave of Calvin or Dr. Faustus.  No spell
can resist a fumigation of this nature; away fled palace, Hecuba,
matrons, temple, etc.  I looked up, and lo!  I was in a garret.  As
poetry is but too often connected with this lofty situation, you won’t
wonder much at my flight.  Being a little recovered from it, I tottered
down the staircase, entered the cabinets of natural history, and was soon
restored to my sober senses.  A grave hippopotamus contributed a great
deal to their reestablishment.

The butterflies, I must needs confess, were very near leading me another
dance: I thought of their native hills and beloved flowers, of Haynang
and Nan-Hoa; {110} but the jargon which was prating all around me
prevented the excursion, and I summoned a decent share of attention for
that ample chamber which has been appropriated to bottled snakes and
pickled fœtuses.

After having enjoyed the same spectacle in the British Museum, no very
new or singular objects can be selected in this.  One of the rarest
articles it contains is the representation in wax of a human head, most
dexterously flayed indeed!  Rapturous encomiums have been bestowed by
amateurs on this performance.  A German professor could hardly believe it
artificial; and, prompted by the love of truth, set his teeth in this
delicious morsel to be convinced of its reality.  My faith was less
hazardously established; and I moved off, under the conviction that art
had never produced anything more horridly natural.

It was one o’clock before I got through the mineral kingdom; and another
hour passed before I could quit with decorum the regions of stuffed birds
and marine productions.  At length my departure was allowable; and I went
to dine at Sir Joseph Yorke’s, with all nations and languages.  The Hague
is the place in the world for a motley assembly, and, in some humours, I
think such the most agreeable.

After coffee I strayed to the great wood, which, considering that it
almost touches the town with its boughs, is wonderfully forest-like.  Not
a branch being ever permitted to be lopped, the oaks and beeches retain
their natural luxuriance, and form some of the most picturesque groups
conceivable.  In some places their straight boles rise sixty feet without
a bough; in others, they are bent fantastically over the alleys, which
turn and wind about just as a painter would desire.  I followed them with
eagerness and curiosity, sometimes deviating from my path amongst tufts
of fern and herbage.

In these cool retreats I could not believe myself near canals and
windmills; the Dutch formalities were all forgotten whilst contemplating
the broad masses of foliage above, and the wild flowers and grasses
below.  Several hares and rabbits scudded by me while I sat; and the
birds were chirping their evening song.  Their preservation does credit
to the police of the country, which is so exact and well regulated as to
suffer no outrage within the precincts of this extensive wood, the depth
and thickness of which seem calculated to favour half the sins of a
capital.

                    [Picture: Amsterdam from the Quay]

Relying upon this comfortable security, I lingered unmolested amongst the
beeches till the ruddy gold of the setting sun ceased to glow on their
foliage; then taking the nearest path, I suffered myself, though not
without regret, to be conducted out of this fresh sylvan scene to the
dusty, pompous parterres of the Greffier Fagel.  Every flower that wealth
can purchase diffuses its perfume on one side; whilst every stench a
canal can exhale, poisons the air on the other.  These sluggish puddles
defy all the power of the United Provinces, and retain the freedom of
stinking in spite of their endeavours: but perhaps I am too bold in my
assertion; for I have no authority to mention any attempts to purify
these noxious pools.  Who knows but their odour is congenial to a Dutch
constitution?  One should be inclined to this supposition by the numerous
banqueting-rooms and pleasure-houses which hang directly above their
surface, and seem calculated on purpose to enjoy them.  If frogs were not
excluded from the magistrature of their country (and I cannot but think
it a little hard that they are), one should not wonder at this choice.
Such burgomasters might erect their pavilions in such situations.  But,
after all, I am not greatly surprised at the fishiness of their site,
since very slight authority would persuade me there was a period when
Holland was all water, and the ancestors of the present inhabitants fish.
A certain oysterishness of eye and flabbiness of complexion are almost
proofs sufficient of this aquatic descent: and pray tell me for what
purpose are such galligaskins as the Dutch burthen themselves with
contrived, but to tuck up a flouncing tail, and thus cloak the deformity
of their dolphin-like terminations?

Having done penance for some time in the damp alleys which line the
borders of these lazy waters, I was led through corkscrew sand-walks to a
vast flat, sparingly scattered over with vegetation.  To puzzle myself in
such a labyrinth there was no temptation, so taking advantage of the
lateness of the hour, and muttering a few complimentary promises of
returning at the first opportunity, I escaped the ennui of this endless
scrubbery, and got home, with the determination of being wiser and less
curious if ever my stars should bring me again to the Hague.  To-morrow I
bid it adieu, and if the horses but second my endeavours, shall be
delivered in a few days from the complicated plagues of the United
Provinces.



LETTER V.


                                                    HAERLEM, _July_ 1_st_.

The sky was clear and blue when we left the Hague, and we travelled along
a shady road for about an hour, then down sunk the carriage into a
sand-bed, and we were dragged along so slowly that I fell into a profound
repose.  How long it lasted is not material; but when I awoke, we were
rumbling through Leyden.  There is no need to write a syllable in honour
of this illustrious city: its praises have already been sung and said by
fifty professors, who have declaimed in its university, and smoked in its
gardens.  So let us get out of it as fast as we can, and breathe the cool
air of the wood near Haerlem, where we arrived just as day declined.  Hay
was making in the fields, and perfumed the country far and wide with its
reviving fragrance.  I promised myself a pleasant walk in the groves,
took up Gesner, and began to have pretty pastoral ideas; but when I
approached the nymphs that were dispersed on the meads, and saw faces
that would have dishonoured a flounder, and heard accents that would have
confounded a hog, all my dislike to the walking filth of the Low
Countries returned.  I let fall the garlands I had wreathed for the
shepherds; we jumped into the carriage, and were driven off to the town.
Every avenue to it swarmed with people, whose bustle and agitation seemed
to announce that something extraordinary was going forward.  Upon inquiry
I found it was the great fair at Haerlem; and before we had advanced much
farther, our carriage was surrounded by idlers and gingerbread-eaters of
all denominations.  Passing the gate, we came to a cluster of little
illuminated booths beneath a grove, glittering with toys and
looking-glasses.  It was not without difficulty that we reached our inn,
and then the plague was to procure chambers; at last we were
accommodated, and the first moment I could call my own has been dedicated
to you.

You won’t be surprised at the nonsense I have written, since I tell you
the scene of the riot and uproar from whence it bears date.  At this very
moment the confused murmur of voices and music stops all regular
proceedings: old women and children tattling; apes, bears, and show-boxes
under the windows; French rattling, English swearing, outrageous
Italians, frisking minstrels; _tambours de basque_ at every corner;
myself distracted; a confounded squabble of cooks and haranguing German
couriers just arrived, their masters following open-mouthed; nothing to
eat, the steam of ham and flesh-pots all the while provoking their
appetite; Mynheers very busy with the realities, and smoking as
deliberately as if in a solitary lusthuys over the laziest canal in the
Netherlands; squeaking chambermaids in the galleries above, and prudish
dames below, half inclined to receive the golden solicitations of certain
beauties for admittance, but positively refusing them the moment some
creditable personage appears; eleven o’clock strikes; half the lights in
the fair are extinguished; scruples grow less and less delicate; Mammon
prevails, darkness and complaisance succeed.  Good-night; may you sleep
better than I shall.



LETTER VI.


                                                    UTRECHT, _July_ 2_nd_.

Well, thank Heaven, Amsterdam is behind us!  How I got thither signifies
not one farthing; it was all along a canal, as usual.  The weather was
hot enough to broil an inhabitant of Bengal; and the odours, exhaling
from every quarter, sufficiently powerful to regale the nose of a
Hottentot.

Under these agreeable circumstances we entered the great city.  The
Stadt-huys being the only cool place it contained, I repaired thither as
fast as the heat permitted, and walked in a lofty marble hall,
magnificently covered, till the dinner was ready at the inn.  That
despatched, we set off for Utrecht.  Both sides of the way are lined with
the country-houses and gardens of opulent citizens, as fine as gilt
statues and clipped hedges can make them.  Their number is quite
astonishing: from Amsterdam to Utrecht, full thirty miles, we beheld no
other objects than endless avenues and stiff parterres scrawled and
flourished in patterns like the embroidery of an old maid’s work-bag.
Notwithstanding this formal taste, I could not help admiring the neatness
and arrangement of every inclosure, enlivened by a profusion of flowers,
and decked with arbours, beneath which a vast number of round unmeaning
faces were solacing themselves after the heat of the day.  Each lusthuys
we passed contained some comfortable party dozing over their pipes, or
angling in the muddy fish-ponds below.  Scarce an avenue but swarmed with
female josses; little squat pug-dogs waddling at their sides, the
attributes, I suppose, of these fair divinities.

But let us leave them to loiter thus amiably in their Elysian groves, and
arrive at Utrecht; which, as nothing very remarkable claimed my
attention, I hastily quitted to visit a Moravian establishment at Siest,
in its neighbourhood.  The chapel, a large house, late the habitation of
Count Zinzendorf, and a range of apartments filled with the holy
fraternity, are totally wrapped in dark groves, overgrown with weeds,
amongst which some damsels were straggling, under the immediate
protection of their pious brethren.

Traversing the woods, we found ourselves in a large court, built round
with brick edifices, the grass-plats in a deplorable way, and one ragged
goat, their only inhabitant, on a little expiatory scheme, perhaps, for
the failings of the fraternity.  I left this poor animal to ruminate in
solitude, and followed my guide into a series of shops furnished with
gew-gaws and trinkets, said to be manufactured by the female part of the
society.  Much cannot be boasted of their handiworks: I expressed a wish
to see some of these industrious fair ones; but, upon receiving no
answer, found this was a subject _of which there was no discourse_.

Consoling myself as well as I was able, I put myself under the guidance
of another slovenly disciple, who showed me the chapel, and harangued
very pathetically upon celestial love.  In my way thither, I caught a
glimpse of some pretty sempstresses, warbling melodious hymns as they sat
needling and thimbling at their windows above.  I had a great inclination
to have approached this busy group, but the roll of the brother’s eye
corrected me.

Reflecting upon my unworthiness, I retired from the consecrated
buildings, and was driven back to Utrecht, not a little amused with my
expedition.  If you are as well disposed to be pleased as I was, I shall
esteem myself very lucky, and not repent sending you so incorrect a
narrative.  I really have not time to look it over, and am growing so
drowsy, that you will, I hope, pardon all its errors, when you consider
that my pen writes in its sleep.



LETTER VII.


                                                        SPA, _July_ 6_th_.

From Utrecht to Bois le Duc nothing but sand and heath; no inspiration,
no whispering foliage, not even a grasshopper, to put one in mind of
Eclogues and Theocritus.  “But why did you not fall into one of your
beloved slumbers, and dream of poetic mountains?  This was the very
country to shut one’s eyes upon without disparagement.”  Why so I did,
but the postillions and boatmen obliged me to open them, as soon as they
were closed.  Four times was I shoved, out of my visions, into leaky
boats, and towed across as many idle rivers.  I thought there was no end
of these tiresome transits; and, when I reached my journey’s end, was so
completely jaded that I almost believed Charon would be the next aquatic
I should have to deal with.  The fair light of the morning (Tuesday, July
4th) was scarcely sufficient to raise my spirits, and I had left Bois le
Duc a good way in arrears before I was thoroughly convinced of my
existence; when I looked through the blinds of the carriage, and saw
nothing but barren plains and mournful willows, banks clad with rushes,
and heifers so black and dismal that Proserpine herself would have given
them up to Hecate.  I was near believing myself in the neighbourhood of a
certain evil place, where I should be punished for all my croakings.  We
travelled at this rate, I dare say, fifteen miles, without seeing a
single shed: at last, one or two miserable cottages appeared, darkened by
heath, and stuck in a sand-pit; from whence issued a half-starved
generation, that pursued us a long while with their piteous wailings.
The heavy roads and ugly prospects, together with the petulant clamours
of my petitioners, made me quite uncharitable.  I was in a dark,
remorseless mood, which lasted me till we reached Brée, a shabby decayed
town, encompassed by walls and ruined turrets.  Having nothing to do, I
straggled about them, till night shaded the dreary prospects, and gave me
an opportunity of imagining them, if I pleased, noble and majestic.
Several of these waning edifices were invested with thick ivy: the
evening was chill, and I crept under their covert.  Two or three brother
owls were before me, but politely gave up their pretensions to the spot,
and, as soon as I appeared, with a rueful whoop flitted away to some
deeper retirement.  I had scarcely begun to mope in tranquillity, before
a rapid shower trickled amongst the clusters above me, and forced me to
abandon my haunt.  Returning in the midst of it to my inn, I hurried to
bed, and was soon lulled asleep by the storm.  A dream bore me off to
Persepolis; and led me thro’ vast subterraneous treasures to a hall,
where Solomon, methought, was holding forth upon their vanity.  I was
upon the very point of securing a part of this immense wealth, and
fancied myself writing down the sage prophet’s advice how to make use of
it, when a loud vociferation in the street, and the bell of a
neighbouring chapel, dispersed the vision.  Starting up, I threw open the
windows, and found it was eight o’clock (Wednesday, July 5th), and had
hardly rubbed my eyes, before beggars came limping from every quarter.  I
knew their plaguy voices but too well; and that the same hubbub had
broken my slumbers, and driven me from wisdom and riches to the regions
of ignorance and poverty.  The halt, the lame, and the blind, being
restored, by the miracle of a few stivers, to their functions, we
breakfasted in peace, and, gaining the carriage, waded through sandy
deserts to Maestricht: our view, however, was considerably improved, for
a league round the town, and presented some hills and pleasant valleys,
smiling with crops of grain: here and there, green meadows, spread over
with hay, varied the prospect, which the chirping of birds (the first I
had heard for many a tedious day) amongst the barley, rendered so
cheerful, that I began, like them, my exultations, and was equally
thoughtless and serene.  I need scarcely tell you, that, leaving the
coach, I pursued a deep furrow between two extensive corn-fields, and
reposed upon a bank of flowers, the golden ears waving above my head, and
entirely bounding my prospect.  Here I lay, in peace and sunshine, a few
happy moments; contemplating the blue sky, and fancying myself restored
to the valley at F., where I have passed so many happy hours, shut out
from the world, and concealed in the bosom of harvests.  It was then I
first grew so fond of dreaming; and no wonder, since I have frequently
imagined that Ceres did not disdain to inspire my slumbers; but, half
concealed, half visible, would tell me amusing stories of her reapers;
and, sometimes more seriously inclined, recite the affecting tale of her
misfortunes.  At midday, when all was still, and a warm haze seemed to
repose on the face of the landscape, I have often fancied this celestial
voice bewailing Proserpine, in the most pathetic accents.  From these
sacred moments I resolved to offer sacrifice in the fields of Enna; to
explore their fragrant recesses, and experience whether the Divinity
would not manifest herself to me in her favourite domain.  It was this
vow, which tempted me from my native valleys.  Its execution, therefore,
being my principal aim, I deserted my solitary bank and proceeded on my
journey.  Maestricht abounds in Gothic churches, but contains no temple
to Ceres.  I was not sorry to quit it, after spending an hour unavoidably
within its walls.  Our road was conducted up a considerable eminence,
from the summit of which we discovered a range of woody steeps, extending
for leagues; beneath lay a winding valley, richly variegated and lighted
up by the Maese.  The evening sun, scarcely gleaming through hazy clouds,
cast a pale, tender hue upon the landscape, and the copses, still dewy
with a shower that had lately fallen, diffused the most grateful
fragrance.  Flocks of sheep hung browsing on the acclivities, whilst a
numerous herd were dispersed along the river’s side.  I stayed so long,
enjoying this pastoral scene, that we did not arrive at Liège till the
night was advanced, and the moon risen.  Her interesting gleams were
thrown away upon this ill-built, crowded city; and I grieved that gates
and fortifications prevented my breathing the fresh air of the
surrounding mountains.

Next morning (July 6th) a zigzag road brought us, after many descents and
rises, to Spa.  The approach, through a rocky vale, is not totally devoid
of picturesque merit, and as I met no cabriolets or tituppings on the
chaufée, I concluded that the waters were not as yet much visited; and
that I should have their romantic environs pretty much to myself.  But,
alas, how rudely was I deceived!  The moment we entered up flew a dozen
sashes.  Chevaliers de St. Louis, meagre Marquises, and ladies of the
scarlet order of Babylon, all poked their heads out.  In a few minutes
half the town was in motion; tailors, confectioners, and barbers
thrusting bills into our hands with manifold grimaces and contortions.
Then succeeded a grand _entré_ of _valets de place_, who were hardly
dismissed before the lodging letters arrived, followed by somebody with a
list of _les seigneurs_ and _dames_ as long as a Welsh pedigree.
Half-an-hour was wasted in speeches and recommendations; another passed
before we could snatch a morsel of refreshment; they then finding I was
neither inclined to go to the ball, nor enter the land where Pharaoh
reigneth, peace was restored, a few feeble bows were scraped, and I found
myself in perfect solitude.  Taking advantage of this quiet moment, I
stole out of town, and followed a path cut in the rocks, which brought me
to a young wood of oaks on their summits.  Luckily I met no saunterer:
the gay vagabonds, it seemed, were all at the assembly, as happy as
billiards and chit-chat could make them.  It was not an evening to tempt
such folks abroad.  The air was cool, and the sky lowering; a melancholy
cloud shaded the wild hills and irregular woods at a distance.  There was
something so importunate in their appearance, that I could not help
asking their name, and was told they were skirts of the forest of
Ardenne, amongst whose enchanted labyrinths the heroes of Boyardo and
Ariosto roved formerly in quest of adventures.  I felt myself singularly
affected whilst gazing upon a wood so celebrated in romance for feats of
the highest chivalry; and, Don Quixote-like, would have explored its
recesses in search of that memorable fountain of hatred, which (if you
recollect the story) was raised by Merlin to free illustrious knights and
damsels from the torments of rejected love.  So far was I advanced in
these romantic fancies, that, forgetting the lateness of the hour, I
wandered on, expecting to reach the fountain at every step; but at length
it grew so dusky that, unable to trace back my way amongst the thickets,
in vain I strayed through intricate copses, till the clouds began to
disperse and the moon appeared.  Being so placed as to receive the full
play of silver radiance, to my no small surprise, I beheld a precipice
immediately beneath my feet.  The chasm was deep and awful; something
like the entrance to a grot discovered itself below, and if I had not
already been disappointed on the score of the fount, I won’t answer but
that I should have flung myself adventurously down, and tried whether I
might not have seen such wonders as appeared to Bradamante, when cast by
Pinnabel, rather impolitely, into Merlin’s cave.  But no propitious light
beaming from the cavity, I concluded times were changed; and searching
about me, found at last a shelving steep, which it was just possible to
descend without goat’s heels, and that’s all.

In my way home, I passed the redoute, and seeing a vast glare of lustres
in its apartments, I ran upstairs and found the gamblers all eager in
storming the Pharaoh Bank: a young Englishman of distinction seemed the
most likely to raise the siege, which increased every instant in
turbulence; but not feeling the least inclination to protract or to
shorten its fate, I left the knights to their adventures, and returned
ingloriously to my inn.

        [Picture: The canal, Ghent, and Aix la Chapelle Cathedral]

All languages are chattering at the Table d’Hôte, and all sorts of
business transacted under my very windows.  The racket and perfume of
this place make me resolve to get out of it to-morrow; as that is the
case, you won’t hear from me till I reach Munich.  Adieu!  May we meet in
our dreams by the fountain of Merlin, and from thence take our flight
with Astolpho to the moon; for I shrewdly suspect the best part of our
senses are bottled up there; and then, you know, it will be a delightful
novelty to wake up with a clear understanding.

“Indeed, Sir, no Monsieur _comme il faut_, ever left Spa in such dudgeon
before, unless jilted by a Polish princess, or stripped by an itinerant
Count!  You have neither breakfasted at the Vauxhall, nor attended the
Spectacle, nor tasted the waters.  Had you but taken one sip, your
ill-humour would have all trickled away, and you would have felt both
your heels and your elbows quite alive in the evening.”—Granted; but pray
tell your postillions to drive off as fast as their horses will carry
them.

Away we went to Aix-la-Chapelle about ten at night, and saw the
mouldering turrets of that once illustrious capital by the help of a
candle and lantern.  An old woman asked our names (for not a single
soldier appeared); and traversing a number of superannuated streets
without perceiving the least trace of Charlemagne or his Paladins, we
procured comfortable though not magnificent apartments, and slept most
unheroically sound, till it was time to set forward for Dusseldorf.

_July_ 8_th_.—As we were driven out of the town, I caught a glimpse of a
grove, hemmed in by dingy buildings, where a few water-drinkers were
sauntering along to the sound of some rueful French horns; the wan
greenish light admitted through the foliage made them look like unhappy
souls condemned to an eternal lounge for having trifled away their
existence.  It was not with much regret that I left such a party behind;
and, after experiencing the vicissitudes of good roads and rumbling
pavements, found myself, towards the close of evening, upon the banks of
the Rhine.

Many wild ideas thronged into my mind, the moment I beheld this
celebrated river.  I thought of the vast regions through which it flows,
and suffered my imagination to expatiate as far as its source.  A red,
variegated sky, reflected from the stream, the woods trembling on its
banks, and the spires of Nuys rising beyond them, helped to amuse my
fancy.  Not being able to brook the confinement of the carriage, I left
it to come over at its leisure; and, stepping into a boat, rowed along,
at first, by the quivering osiers; then, launching out into the midst of
the waters, I glided a few moments with the current, and resting on my
oars, listened to the hum of voices afar off, while several little
skiffs, like canoes, glanced before my sight, concerning which distance
and the twilight allowed me to make a thousand fantastic conjectures.
When I had sufficiently indulged these extravagant reveries, I began to
cross over the river in good earnest; and being landed on its opposite
margin, travelled forwards to the town.

Nothing but the famous gallery of paintings could invite strangers to
stay a moment within its walls; more crooked streets, more indifferent
houses, one seldom meets with; except soldiers, not a living creature
moving about them; and at night a complete regiment of bugs “marked me
for their own.”  Thus I lay, at once both the seat of war and the victim
of these detestable animals, till early in the morning (Sunday, July
9th), when Morpheus, compassionating my sufferings, opened the ivory
gates of his empire, and freed his votary from the most unconscionable
vermin that ever nastiness engendered.  In humble prose, I fell fast
asleep; and remained quiet, in defiance of my adversaries, till it was
time to survey the cabinet.

This collection is displayed in five large galleries, and contains some
valuable productions of the Italian school; but the room most boasted of
is that which Rubens has filled with no less than three enormous
representations of the last day, where an innumerable host of sinners are
exhibited as striving in vain to avoid the tangles of the devil’s tail.
The woes of several fat luxurious souls are rendered in the highest
gusto.  Satan’s dispute with some brawny concubines, whom he is lugging
off in spite of all their resistance, cannot be too much admired by those
who approve this class of subject, and think such strange imbroglios in
the least calculated to raise a sublime or a religious idea.

For my own part, I turned from them with disgust, and hastened to
contemplate a Holy Family by Camillo Procaccini, in another apartment.
The brightest imagination can never conceive any figure more graceful
than that of the young Jesus; and if ever I beheld an inspired
countenance or celestial features, it was here: but to attempt conveying
in words what colours alone can express, would be only reversing the
absurdity of many a master in the gallery, who aims to represent those
ideas by colours which language alone is able to describe.  Should you
admit this opinion, you won’t be surprised at my passing such a multitude
of renowned pictures unnoticed; nor at my bringing you out of the cabinet
without deluging ten pages with criticisms in the style of the ingenious
Lady M—.

As I had spent so much time in gazing at Camillo’s divinity, the day was
too far advanced to think of travelling to Cologne; I was therefore
obliged to put myself once more under the dominion of the most inveterate
bugs in the universe.  This government, like many others, made but an
indifferent use of its power, and the subject suffering accordingly was
extremely rejoiced at flying from his persecutors to Cologne.

_July_ 10_th_.—Clouds of dust hindered my making any remarks on the
exterior of this celebrated city; but if its appearance be not more
beautiful from without than within, I defy Mr. Salmon himself to launch
forth very warmly in its praise.  But of what avail are stately palaces,
broad streets, or airy markets, to a town which can boast of such a
treasure as the bodies of those three wise sovereigns who were star-led
to Bethlehem?  Is not this circumstance enough to procure it every
respect?  I really believe so, from the pious and dignified contentment
of its inhabitants.  They care not a hair of an ass’s ear whether their
houses be gloomy and ill-contrived, their pavements overgrown with weeds,
and their shops with filthiness, provided the carcasses of Gaspar,
Melchior, and Balthazar might be preserved with proper decorum.  Nothing,
to be sure, can be richer than the shrine which contains these precious
relics.  I paid my devotions before it the moment I arrived; this step
was inevitable: had I omitted it, not a soul in Cologne but would have
cursed me for a Pagan.

Do you not wonder at hearing of these venerable bodies so far from their
native country?  I thought them snug in some Arabian pyramid ten feet
deep in spice; but you see one can never tell what is to become of one a
few ages hence.  Who knows but the Emperor of Morocco may be canonized
some future day in Lapland?  I asked, of course, how in the name of
miracles they came hither; but found no story of a supernatural
conveyance.  It seems the holy Empress Helena, as great a collectress of
relics as the D—s of P. is of profane curiosities, first routed them out:
then they were packed off to Rome.  King Alaric, having no grace, bundled
them down to Milan; where they remained till it pleased God to inspire an
ancient archbishop with the fervent wish of depositing them at Cologne.
There these skeletons were taken into the most especial consideration,
crowned with jewels and filigreed with gold.  Never were skulls more
elegantly mounted; and I doubt whether Odin’s buffet could exhibit so
fine an assortment.  The chapel containing these beatified bones is
placed in a dark extremity of the cathedral.  Several golden lamps gleam
along the polished marbles with which it is adorned, and afford just
light enough to read the following monkish inscription:—

    “CORPORA SANCTORUM RECUBANT HIC TERNA MAGORUM;
    EX HIS SUBLATUM NIHIL EST ALIBIVE LOCATUM.”

After I had satisfied my curiosity with respect to the peregrinations of
the consecrated skeletons, I examined their shrine; and was rather
surprised to find it not only enriched with barbaric gold and pearl, but
covered with cameos and intaglios of the best antique sculpture.  Many an
impious emperor and gross Silenus, many a wanton nymph and frantic
bacchanal, figure in the same range with the statues of saints and
evangelists.  How St. Helena could tolerate such a mixed assembly (for
the shrine was formed under her auspices) surpasses my comprehension.
Perhaps you will say it is no great matter, and give me a hint to move
out of the chapel, lest the three kings and their star should lead me
quite out of my way.  Very well; I think I had better stop in time, to
tell you, without further excursion, that we set off after dinner for
Bonn.

Our road-side was lined with beggarly children, high convent walls, and
scarecrow crucifixes, lubberly monks, dejected peasants, and all the
delights of Catholicism.  Such scenery not engaging a share of my
attention, I kept gazing at the azure irregular mountains which bounded
our view, and in thought was already transported to their summits.
Various are the prospects I surveyed from this imaginary exaltation, and
innumerable the chimeras which trotted in my brain.  Mounted on these
fantastic quadrupeds, I shot swiftly from rock to rock, and built castles
in the style of Piranesi upon most of their pinnacles.  The magnificence
and variety of my aërial towers hindered my thinking the way long.  I was
still walking with a crowd of phantoms upon their terraces, when the
carriage made a halt.  Immediately descending the innumerable flights of
steps which divide such lofty edifices from the lower world, I entered
the inn at Bonn, and was shown into an apartment which commands the chief
front of the Elector’s palace.  You may guess how contemptible it
appeared to one just returned from the court of fancy.

In other respects, I saw it in a very favourable moment; for the
twilight, shading the whole façade, concealed its plaistered walls and
painted pillars; their pediments and capitals being tolerably well
proportioned, and the range of windows beneath considerable, I gave the
architect more credit than he deserved, and paced to and fro beneath the
arcade, as pompously as if arrived at the Vatican; but the circumstance
which rendered my walk in reality agreeable, was the prevalence of a
delicious perfume.  It was so dusky, that I was a minute or two seeking
in vain the entrance of an orangery, from whence this reviving scent
proceeded.  At length I discovered it; and, passing under an arch, found
myself in the midst of lemon and orange trees, now in the fullest blow,
which form a continued grove before the palace, and extend, on each side
of its grand portal, out of sight.  A few steps separate this extensive
terrace from a lawn, bordered by stately rows of beeches.  Beyond, in the
centre of this striking theatre, rises a romantic assemblage of distant
mountains, crowned with the ruins of castles, whose turrets, but faintly
seen, were just such as you have created to complete a prospect.  I was
the only human being in the misty extent of the gardens, and was happier
in my solitude than I can describe.  No noise disturbed its silence,
except the flutter of moths and trickling of fountains.  These undecided
sounds, corresponding with the dimness and haze of the scenery, threw me
into a pensive state of mind, neither gay nor dismal.  I recapitulated
the wayward adventures of my childhood, and traced back each moment of a
period, which had seen me happy.  Then, turning my thoughts towards
future days, my heart beat at the idea of that awful veil which covers
the time to come.  One moment, ’twas the brightest hope that glittered
behind it; the next, a series of melancholy images clouded the
perspective.  Thus, alternately swayed by fears and exultation, I passed
an interesting hour in the twilight, ranging amongst the orange trees, or
reclined by the fountain.  I could not boast of being perfectly
satisfied, since those were absent, without whom not even the fields of
Enna could be charming.  However, I was far from displeased with the
clear streams that bubbled around, and could willingly have dropped
asleep by their margin.  Had I reposed in so romantic a situation, the
murmurs of trees and waters would doubtless have invited “some strange
mysterious dream” to hover over me, and perhaps futurity might have been
unveiled.



LETTER VIII.


_July _11_th_.—Let those who delight in picturesque country repair to the
borders of the Rhine, and follow the road which we took from Bonn to
Coblentz.  In some places it is suspended like a cornice above the
waters; in others, it winds behind lofty steeps and broken acclivities,
shaded by woods and clothed with an endless variety of plants and
flowers.  Several green paths lead amongst this vegetation to the summits
of the rocks, which often serve as the foundation of abbeys and castles,
whose lofty roofs and spires, rising above the cliffs, impress passengers
with ideas of their grandeur, that might probably vanish upon a nearer
approach.  Not choosing to lose any prejudice in their favour, I kept a
respectful distance whenever I left my carriage, and walked on the banks
of the river.

Just before we came to Andernach, an antiquated town with strange
morisco-looking towers, I spied a raft, at least three hundred feet in
length, on which ten or twelve cottages were erected, and a great many
people employed in sawing wood.  The women sat spinning at their doors,
whilst their children played among the water-lilies that bloomed in
abundance on the edge of the stream.  A smoke, rising from one of these
aquatic habitations, partially obscured the mountains beyond, and added
not a little, to their effect.

Altogether, the scene was so novel and amusing, that I sat half an hour
contemplating it from an eminence under the shade of some leafy walnuts;
and should like extremely to build a moveable village, people it with my
friends, and so go floating about from island to island, and from one
woody coast of the Rhine to another.  Would you dislike such a party?  I
am much deceived, or you would be the first to explore the shades and
promontories beneath which we should be wafted along.

But I don’t think you would find Coblentz, where we were obliged to take
up our night’s lodging, much to your taste.  ’Tis a mean, dirty
assemblage of plastered houses, striped with paint, and set off with
wooden galleries, in the beautiful taste of St. Giles’s.  Above, on a
rock, stands the palace of the Elector, which seems to be remarkable for
nothing but situation.  I did not bestow many looks on this structure
whilst ascending the mountain across which our road to Mayence conducted
us.

_July_ 12_th_.—Having attained the summit, we discovered a vast,
irregular range of country, and advancing, found ourselves amongst downs
bounded by forests and purpled with thyme.  This sort of prospect
extending for several leagues, I walked on the turf, and inhaled with
avidity the fresh gales that blew over its herbage, till I came to a
steep slope overgrown with privet and a variety of luxuriant shrubs in
blossom; there reposing beneath its shade, I gathered flowers, listened
to the bees, observed their industry, and idled away a few minutes with
great fascination.  A cloudless sky and bright sunshine made me rather
loth to move on; but the charms of the landscape, increasing every
instant, drew me forward.

I had not gone far, before a winding valley discovered itself, shut in by
rocks and mountains clothed to their very summits with the thickest
woods.  A broad river, flowing at the base of the cliffs, reflected the
impending vegetation, and looked so calm and glassy that I was determined
to be better acquainted with it.  For this purpose we descended by a
zigzag path into the vale, and making the best of our way on the banks of
the Lune (for so is the river called), came suddenly upon the town of
Ems, famous in mineral story; where finding very good lodgings, we took
up our abode, and led an Indian life amongst the wilds and mountains.

After supper I walked on a smooth lawn by the river, to observe the moon
journeying through a world of silver clouds that lay dispersed over the
face of the heavens.  It was a mild genial evening; every mountain cast
its broad shadow on the surface of the stream; lights twinkled afar off
on the hills; they burnt in silence.  All were asleep, except a female
figure in white, with glow-worms shining in her hair.  She kept moving
disconsolately about; sometimes I heard her sigh; and if apparitions
sigh, this must have been an apparition.  Upon my return, I asked a
thousand questions, but could never obtain any information of the figure
and its luminaries.

_July _13_th_.—The pure air of the morning invited me early to the hills.
Hiring a skiff, I rowed about a mile down the stream, and landed on a
sloping meadow, level with the waters, and newly mown.  Heaps of hay
still lay dispersed under the copses which hemmed in on every side this
little sequestered paradise.  What a spot for a tent!  I could encamp
here for months, and never be tired.  Not a day would pass by without
discovering some new promontory, some untrodden pasture, some unsuspected
vale, where I might remain among woods and precipices lost and forgotten.
I would give you, and two or three more, the clue of my labyrinth: nobody
else should be conscious of its entrance.  Full of such agreeable dreams,
I rambled about the meads, scarcely knowing which way I was going;
sometimes a spangled fly led me astray, and, oftener, my own strange
fancies.  Between both, I was perfectly bewildered, and should never have
found my boat again, had not an old German naturalist, who was collecting
fossils on the cliffs, directed me to it.

When I got home it was growing late, and I now began to perceive that I
had taken no refreshment, except the perfume of the hay and a few wood
strawberries; airy diet, you will observe, for one not yet received into
the realms of Ginnistan. {127}

_July_ 14_th_.—I have just made a discovery, that this place as full of
idlers and water-drinkers as their Highnesses of Orange and Hesse
Darmstadt can desire; for to them accrue all the profits of its
salubrious fountains.  I protest, I knew nothing of all this yesterday,
so entirely was I taken up with the rocks and meadows; no chance of
meeting either card or billiard players in their solitudes.  Both abound
at Ems, where they hop and fidget from ball to ball, unconscious of the
bold scenery in their neighbourhood, and totally insensible to its
charms.  They had no notion, not they, of admiring barren crags and
precipices, where even the Lord would lose his way, as a coarse lubber
decorated with stars and orders very ingeniously observed to me; nor
could they form the least conception of any pleasure there was in
climbing like a goat amongst the cliffs, and then diving into woods and
recesses where the sun had never penetrated; where there were neither
card-tables prepared nor sideboards garnished; no _jambon de Mayence_ in
waiting; no supply of pipes, nor any of the commonest delights, to be met
with in the commonest taverns.

To all this I acquiesced with most perfect submission, but immediately
left the orator to entertain a circle of antiquated dames and
weather-beaten officers who were gathering around him.  Scarcely had I
turned my back upon this polite assembly, when _Monsieur l’Administrateur
des bains_, a fine pompous fellow, who had been _maitre d’hôtel_ in a
great German family, came forward purposely to acquaint me, I suppose,
that their baths had the honour of possessing Prince Orloff, “_avec sa
grande maitresse_, _son Chamberlain et quelques Dames d’Honneur_:”
moreover, that his Highness came hither to refresh himself after his
laborious employments at the Court of Petersburg, and expected (_grace
aux eaux_!) to return to the domains his august sovereign had lately
bestowed upon him in perfect health, and to become the father of his
people.

Wishing Monsieur d’Orloff all possible success, I should have left the
company at a great distance, had not a violent shower stopped my career,
and obliged me to return to my apartment.  The rain growing heavier,
intercepted the prospect of the mountains, and spread such a gloom over
the vale as sank my spirits fifty degrees; to which a close foggy
atmosphere not a little contributed.  Towards night the clouds assumed a
more formidable aspect.  Thunder rolled awfully along the distant cliffs,
and several rapid torrents began to run down the steeps.  Unable to stay
within, I walked into an open portico, listening to the murmur of the
river, mingled with the roar of falling waters.  At intervals a blue
flash of lightning discovered their agitated surface, and two or three
scared women rushing through the storm and calling all the saints in
Paradise to their assistance.

Things were in this state, when the orator who had harangued so
brilliantly on the nothingness of ascending mountains, took shelter under
the porch, and entering immediately into conversation, regaled my ears
with a woful narration of murders which had happened the other day on the
precise road I was to follow next morning.

“Sir,” said he, “your route is, to be sure, very perilous: on the left
you have a chasm, down which, should your horses take the smallest alarm,
you are infallibly precipitated; to the right hangs an impervious wood,
and there, sir, I can assure you, are wolves enough to devour a regiment;
a little farther on, you cross a desolate tract of forest land, the roads
so deep and broken, that if you go ten paces in as many minutes you may
think yourself fortunate.  There lurk the most savage banditti in Europe,
lately irritated by the Prince of Orange’s proscription; and so
desperate, that if they once attack, you can expect no mercy.  Should you
venture through this hazardous district to-morrow, you will, in all
probability, meet a company of people who have just left the town to
search for the mangled bodies of their relations; but, for Heaven’s sake,
sir, if you value your life, do not suffer an idle curiosity to lead you
over such dangerous regions, however picturesque their appearance.”

I own I felt rather intimidated by so formidable a prospect, and was very
near abandoning my plan of crossing the mountains, and so go back again
and round about, the Lord knows where; but considering this step would be
quite unheroical, I resolved to attribute my fears to the gloom of the
moment, and the dejection it occasioned.  It was almost nine o’clock
before my kind adviser ceased inspiring me with terrors; then, finding
myself at liberty, I retired to bed, not under the most agreeable
impressions; and after tossing and tumbling in the agitation of
tumultuous slumbers, I started up at seven in the morning of July 15th,
ordered the horses, and set forward, without further dilemmas.  Though it
had thundered almost the whole night, the air was still clogged with
vapours, the mountains bathed in humid clouds, and the scene I had so
warmly admired no longer discernible.  Proceeding along the edge of the
precipices I had been forewarned of, for about an hour, and escaping that
peril at least, we traversed the slopes of a rude, heathy hill, in
instantaneous expectation of foes and murderers.  A misty rain prevented
us seeing above ten yards before us, and every uncouth oak or rocky
fragment we approached seemed lurking spies or gigantic enemies.  One
time the murmur of the wind among invisible woods of beech, sounded like
the wail of distress; and at another the noise of a torrent we could not
discover, counterfeited the report of musquetry.  In this suspicious
manner we journeyed through the forest which had so recently been the
scene of assaults and depredations.  At length, after winding several
restless hours amongst its dreary avenues, we emerged into open daylight.
The sky cleared, a cultivated vale lay before us, and the evening sun,
gleaming bright through the vapours, cast a cheerful look upon some
corn-fields, and seemed to promise better times.  A few minutes more
brought us safe to the village of Viesbaden, where we slept in peace and
tranquillity.

_July_ 16_th_.—Our apprehensions entirely dispersed, we rose light and
refreshed from our slumbers, and passing through Mayence, Oppenheim, and
Worms, travelled gaily over the plain in which Mannheim is situated.  The
sun set before we arrived there, and it was by the mild gleams of the
rising moon, that I first beheld the vast electoral palace, and those
long straight streets and neat white houses, which distinguish this
elegant capital from almost every other.

Numbers of well-dressed people were amusing themselves with music and
fireworks in the squares and open spaces; other groups appeared
conversing in circles before their doors, and enjoying the serenity of
the evening.  Almost every window bloomed with carnations; and we could
hardly cross a street without hearing the German flute.  A scene of such
happiness and refinement contrasted in the most agreeable manner with the
dismal prospects we had left behind.  No storms, no frightful chasms,
were here to alarm us, no ruffians or lawless plunderers.  All around was
peace, security, and contentment in their most engaging attire.

_July_ 17_th_.—Though all impatience to reach that delightful classic
region which already possesses, as I have often said, the better half of
my spirit, I could not think of leaving Mannheim unexplored; and
therefore resolved to give up the day to the halls and galleries of the
electoral palace.  Those, which contain the cabinet of paintings and
sculptures in ivory, form a regular suite of nine immense apartments,
about three hundred and seventy-two feet in length, well-proportioned and
uniformly floored with inlaid wood.  Each room has ample folding-doors
richly gilt and varnished.  When seen in perspective these entrances have
the most magnificent effect imaginable.  Nothing can give nobler ideas of
space than such an enfilade of saloons unencumbered by heavy furniture,
where the eyes range without interruption: I wandered alone from one to
the other, and was never wearied with contemplating the variety of
pictures which enliven the scene, and convey the highest idea of the
collector’s taste.  When my curiosity was a little satisfied, I left this
amusing series of apartments with regret, visited the library which the
present Elector Palatine has formed, upon the same great scale that
characterizes his other collections, and, after viewing the rest of the
palace, saw the opera house, which may boast of having contained one of
the first bands in Europe: from thence I returned home in a very musical
humour.

An excellent harpsichord seconded this disposition, which lasted me till
late in the evening; when growing drowsy, I yielded to the influence of
sleep, and was in an instant transported to a far more delightful palace
than that of the elector; where I expatiated in perfumed apartments with
yellow light, and conversed with none but Albano and Claude Lorrain, till
the beams of the morning sun entered my chamber, and forced my visiting
companions to fly murmuring to the shades.  I cannot say but I was sorry
to leave Mannheim, though my acquaintance with it was entirely confined
to inanimate objects.  The cheerful air and free range of the galleries
would be sufficient, for several days, for my amusement; as you know I
could people them with phantoms.  Not many leagues out of town, lie the
famous gardens of Schweidsing.  The weather being extremely warm, we were
glad to avail ourselves of their shades.  There are a great many
fountains inclosed by thickets of shrubs, and cool alleys which lead to
arbours of trellis-work, festooned with nasturtiums and convolvuluses.
Several catalpas and sumachs in full flower gave considerable richness to
the scenery; and whilst we walked amongst them, a fresh breeze gently
waved their summits.  The tall poplars and acacias, quivering with the
air, cast innumerable shadows on the intervening plats of greensward,
and, as they moved their branches, discovered other walks beyond, and
distant jets of water rising above their foliage, and sparkling in the
sun.  After passing a multitude of shady avenues, terminated by temples
or groups of statues, we followed our guide through a kind of arched
bower to a little opening in the wood, neatly paved with different
coloured pebbles.  On one side, appeared niches and alcoves, ornamented
with spars and polished marbles; on the other, an aviary; in front, a
superb pavilion, with baths, porticos, and cabinets, fitted up in the
most elegant and luxurious style.  The song of exotic birds; the
freshness of the surrounding verdure heightened by falling streams; and
that dubious poetic light admitted through thick foliage, so agreeable
after the glare of a sultry day, detained me for some time in an alcove
reading Spenser, and imagining myself but a few paces removed from the
Idle Lake.  I would fain have loitered an hour more in this enchanted
bower, had not the gardener, whose patience was quite exhausted, and who
had never heard of the Red-Cross Knight and his achievements, dragged me
away to a sunburnt, contemptible hillock, commanding the view of a
serpentine ditch, and decorated with the title of Jardin Anglois.  Some
object like decayed limekilns and mouldering ovens, is disposed in an
amphitheatrical form, on the declivity of this tremendous eminence: and
there is to be ivy, and a cascade, and what not, as my conductor
observed.  A glance was all I bestowed on this caricature upon English
gardens; I then went off in a huff at being chased from my bower, and
grumbled all the road to Entsweigen; where, to our misfortune, we lay
amidst hogs and vermin, who amply revenged my quarrels with their
country.

_July_ 20_th_.—After travelling a post or two, we came in sight of a
green moor, with many insulated woods and villages; the Danube sweeping
majestically along, and the city of Ulm rising upon its banks.  The
fields in its neighbourhood were overspread with cloths bleaching in the
sun, and waiting for barks which convey them down the great river, in ten
days, to Vienna, and from thence through Hungary, into the midst of the
Turkish Empire.  I almost envied the merchants their voyage, and
descending to the edge of the stream, proffered my orisons to Father
Danube, beseeching him to remember me to the regions through which he
flows.  I promised him an altar and solemn rites, should he grant my
request, and was very idolatrous, until the shadows lengthening over the
unlimited plains on his margin, reminded me that the sun would be shortly
sunk, and that I had still above fifteen miles to go.  Gathering a purple
iris that grew upon the bank, I wore it to his honour; and have reason to
fancy my piety was rewarded, as not a fly or an insect dared to buzz
about me the whole evening.

You never saw a brighter sky nor more glowing clouds than gilded our
horizon.  The air was impregnated with the perfume of clover, and for ten
miles we beheld no other objects than smooth levels enamelled with
flowers, and interspersed with thickets of oak, beyond which appeared a
long series of mountains, that distance and the evening tinged with an
interesting azure.  Such were the very spots for youthful games and
exercises, open spaces for tilts, and spreading shades to screen the
spectators.

Father Lafiteau tells us, there are many such vast and flowery meads in
the interior of America, to which the roving tribes of Indians repair
once or twice in a century to settle the rights of the chase, and lead
their solemn dances; and so deep an impression do these assemblies leave
on the minds of the savages, that the highest ideas they entertain of
future felicity consist in the perpetual enjoyment of songs and dances
upon the green boundless lawns of their elysium.  In the midst of these
visionary plains rises the abode of Aneantsic, encircled by choirs of
departed chieftains leaping in cadence to the mournful sound of spears as
they ring on the shell of the tortoise.  Their favourite attendants, long
separated from them whilst on earth, are restored again in this ethereal
region, and skim freely over the vast level space; now hailing one group
of beloved friends, and now another.  Mortals newly ushered by death into
this world of pure blue sky and boundless meads, see the long-lost
objects of their affection advancing across the lawn to meet them.
Flights of familiar birds, the purveyors of many an earthly chase, once
more attend their progress, whilst the shades of their faithful dogs seem
coursing each other below.  Low murmurs and tinkling sounds fill the
whole region, and, as its new denizens proceed, increase in melody, till,
unable to resist the thrilling music, they spring forward in ecstasies to
join the eternal round.

A share of this celestial transport seemed communicated to me whilst my
eyes wandered over the plain, which appeared to widen and extend in
proportion as the twilight prevailed.

The dusky hour, favourable to conjurations, allowed me to believe the
spirits of departed friends not far removed from the clouds, which, to
all appearance, reposed at the extremity of the prospect, and tinted the
surface of the horizon with ruddy colours.  This glow still lingered upon
the verge of the landscape, after the sun disappeared; and ’twas in those
peaceful moments, when no sound but the browsing of cattle reached me,
that I imagined benign looks were cast upon me from the golden vapours,
and I seemed to catch glimpses of faint forms moving, amongst them, which
were once so dear; and even thought my ears affected by well-known
voices, long silent upon earth.  When the warm hues of the sky were
gradually fading, and the distant thickets began to assume a deeper and
more melancholy blue, I fancied a shape like Thisbe {133} shot swiftly
along; and, sometimes halting afar off, cast an affectionate look upon
her old master, that seemed to say, When you draw near the last
inevitable hour, and the pale countries of Aneantsic are stretched out
before you, I will precede your footsteps, and guide them safe through
the wild labyrinths which separate this world from yours.  I was so
possessed with the ideas and so full of the remembrance of that poor,
affectionate creature, whose miserable end you were the witness of, that
I did not, for several minutes, perceive our arrival at Guntsberg.
Hurrying to bed, I seemed in my slumbers to pass that interdicted
boundary which divides our earth from the region of Indian happiness.
Thisbe ran nimbly before me; her white form glimmered amongst dusky
forests; she led me into an infinitely spacious plain, where I heard vast
multitudes discoursing upon events to come.  What further passed must
never be revealed.  I awoke in tears, and could hardly find spirits
enough to look around me, till we were driving through the midst of
Augsburg.

_July_ 21_st_.—We dined and rambled about this renowned city till
evening.  The colossal paintings on the walls of almost every
considerable building gave it a strange air, which pleases upon the score
of novelty.

Having passed a number of streets decorated in this exotic manner, we
found ourselves suddenly before the public hall, by a noble statue of
Augustus, under whose auspices the colony was formed.  Which way soever
we turned, our eyes met some remarkable edifice, or marble basin into
which several groups of sculptured river-gods pour a profusion of waters.
These stately fountains and bronze statues, the extraordinary size and
loftiness of the buildings, the towers rising in perspective, and the
Doric portal of the town-house, answered in some measure the idea
Montfaucon gives us of the scene of an ancient tragedy.  Whenever a
pompous Flemish painter attempts a representation of Troy, and displays
in his background those streets of palaces described in the Iliad,
Augsburg, or some such city, may easily be traced.  Sometimes a corner of
Antwerp discovers itself; and generally, above a Corinthian portico,
rises a Gothic spire.  Just such a jumble may be viewed from the statue
of Augustus, under which I remained till the Concierge came, who was to
open the gates of the town-house, and show me its magnificent hall.

I wished for you exceedingly when, ascending a flight of a hundred steps,
I entered it through a portal, supported by tall pillars and crowned with
a majestic pediment.  Upon advancing, I discovered five more entrances
equally grand, with golden figures of guardian genii leaning over the
entablature; and saw, through a range of windows, each above thirty feet
high, and nearly level with the marble pavement, the whole city, with all
its roofs and spires, beneath my feet.  The pillars, cornices, and panels
of this striking apartment are uniformly tinged with brown and gold; and
the ceiling, enriched with emblematical paintings and innumerable
canopies of carved work, casts a very magisterial shade.  Upon the whole,
I should not be surprised at a burgomaster assuming a formidable dignity
in such a room.

I must confess it had a somewhat similar effect upon me; and I descended
the flight of steps with as much pomposity as if a triumphal car waited
at my feet, or as if on the point of giving audience to the Queen of
Sheba.  It happened to be a Saint’s day, and half the inhabitants of
Augsburg were gathered together in the opening before their hall; the
greatest numbers, especially the women, still exhibiting the very
identical dresses which Hollar engraved.  My lofty gait imposed upon this
primitive assembly, which receded to give me passage with as much silent
respect as if I had really been the wise sovereign of Israel.  When I got
home, an execrable supper was served up to my majesty; I scolded in an
unroyal style, and soon convinced myself I was no longer Solomon.

_July_ 22_nd_.—Joy to the Electors of Bavaria! for planting such
extensive woods of fir in their dominions as shade over the chief part of
the road from Augsburg to Munich.  Near the last-mentioned city, I cannot
boast of the scenery changing to advantage.  Instead of flourishing woods
and verdure, we beheld a parched dreary flat, diversified by fields of
withering barley, and stunted avenues drawn formally across them; now and
then a stagnant pool, and sometimes a dunghill, by way of regale.
However, the wild rocks of the Tyrol terminate the view, and to them
imagination may fly, and walk amidst springs and lilies of her own
creation.  I speak from authority, having had the pleasure of
anticipating an evening in this romantic style.

Tuesday next is the grand fair, with horse-races and junketings: a piece
of news I was but too soon acquainted with; for the moment we entered the
town, good-natured creatures from all quarters advised us to get out of
it; since traders and harlequins had filled every corner of the place,
and there was not a lodging to be procured.  The inns, to be sure, were
like hives of industrious animals sorting their merchandise, and
preparing their goods for sale.  Yet, in spite of difficulties, we got
possession of a quiet apartment.

_July_ 23_rd_.—We were driven in the evening to Nymphenburg, the
Elector’s country palace, whose bosquets, jets-d’eaux, and parterres are
the pride of the Bavarians.  The principal platform is all of a glitter
with gilded Cupids and shining serpents spouting at every pore.  Beds of
poppies, hollyhocks, scarlet lychnis, and the most flaming flowers,
border the edge of the walks, which extend till the perspective meets,
and swarm with ladies and gentlemen in parti-coloured raiment.  The Queen
of Golconda’s gardens in a French opera are scarcely more gaudy and
artificial.  Unluckily, too, the evening was fine, and the sun so
powerful that we were half roasted before we could cross the great avenue
and enter the thickets, which barely conceal a very splendid hermitage,
where we joined Mr. and Mrs. T., and a party of fashionable Bavarians.

Amongst the ladies was Madame la Contesse, I forget who, a production of
the venerable Haslang, with her daughter, Madame de —, who has the honour
of leading the Elector in her chains.  These goddesses stepping into a
car, vulgarly called a cariole, the mortals followed, and explored alley
after alley and pavilion after pavilion.  Then, having viewed
Pagodenburg, which is, as they told me, all Chinese; and Marienburg,
which is most assuredly all tinsel; we paraded by a variety of fountains
in full squirt, and though they certainly did their best (for many were
set a-going on purpose), I cannot say I greatly admired them.

The ladies were very gaily attired, and the gentlemen, as smart as
swords, bags, and pretty clothes could make them, looked exactly like the
fine people one sees represented in a coloured print.  Thus we kept
walking genteelly about the orangery, till the carriage drew up and
conveyed us to Mr. T’s.

Immediately after supper, we drove once more out of town, to a garden and
tea-room, where all degrees and ages dance jovially together till
morning.  Whilst one party wheel briskly away in the valz, another amuse
themselves in a corner with cold meat and rhenish.  That despatched, out
they whisk amongst the dancers, with an impetuosity and liveliness I
little expected to have found in Bavaria.  After turning round and round,
with a rapidity that is quite inconceivable to an English dancer, the
music changes to a slower movement, and then follows a succession of
zig-zag minuets, performed by old and young, straight and crooked, noble
and plebeian, all at once, from one end of the room to the other.  Tallow
candles snuffing and stinking, dishes changing, heads scratching, and all
sorts of performances going forward at the same moment; the flutes,
oboes, and bassoons snorting and grunting with peculiar emphasis; now
fast, now slow, just as Variety commands, who seems to rule the
ceremonial of this motley assembly, where every distinction of rank and
privilege is totally forgotten.  Once a week, on Sundays that is to say,
the rooms are open, and Monday is generally somewhat advanced before they
are deserted.  If good humour and coarse merriment are all that people
desire, here they are to be found in perfection, though at the expense of
toes and noses.  Both these extremities of my person suffered most
cruelly; and I was not sorry to retire about one in the morning to a
purer atmosphere.

_July_ 24_th_.—Custom condemned us to visit the palace, which glares with
looking-glass, gilding, and cut velvet, most sumptuously fringed and
spangled.  The chapel, though small, is richer than anything Crœsus ever
possessed, let them say what they will.  Not a corner but shines with
gold, diamonds, and scraps of martyrdom studded with jewels.  I had the
delight of treading amethysts and the richest gems under foot, which, if
you recollect, Apuleius thinks such supreme felicity.  Alas! I was quite
unworthy of the honour, and had much rather have trodden the turf of the
mountains.  Mammon would never have taken his eyes off the pavement; mine
soon left the contemplation of it, and fixed on St. Peter’s thumb,
enshrined with a degree of elegance, and adorned by some malapert
enthusiast with several of the most delicate antique cameos I ever
beheld; the subjects, Ledas and sleeping Venuses, are a little too pagan,
one should think, for an apostle’s finger.

From this precious repository we were conducted through the public garden
to a large hall, where part of the Sleitzom collection is piled up, till
a gallery can be finished for its reception.  ’Twas a matter of great
favour to view, in this state, the pieces that compose it,—a very
imperfect one too, since some of the best were under operation.  But I
would not upon any account have missed the sight of Rubens’s “Massacre of
the Innocents.”  Such expressive horrors were never yet transferred to
canvas, and Moloch himself might have gazed at them with pleasure.

After dinner we were led round the churches; and if you are as much tired
with reading my voluminous descriptions, as I was with the continual
repetition of altars and reliquaries, the Lord have mercy upon you!
However, your delivery draws near.  The post is going out, and to-morrow
we shall begin to mount the cliffs of the Tyrol; but don’t be afraid of
any long-winded epistles from their summits: I shall be too well employed
in ascending them.  Just now, as I have lain by a long while, I grow
sleek, and scribble on in mere wantonness of spirit.  What excesses such
a correspondence is capable of, you will soon be able to judge.

_July_ 25_th_.—The noise of the people thronging to the fair did not
allow me to slumber very long in the morning.  When I got up, every
street was crowded with Jews and mountebanks, holding forth and driving
their bargains in all the energetic vehemence of the German tongue.  Vast
quantities of rich merchandise glittered in the shops as we passed along
to the gates.  Heaps of fruit and sweetmeats set half the grandams and
infants in the place a-cackling with felicity.

Mighty glad was I to make my escape; and in about an hour or two, we
entered a wild tract of country, not unlike the skirts of a princely
park.  A little farther on stands a cluster of cottages, where we stopped
to give our horses some bread, and were pestered with swarms of flies,
most probably journeying to Munich fair, there to feast upon sugared
tarts and bottle-noses.

The next post brought us over hill and dale, grove and meadow, to a
narrow plain, watered by rivulets and surrounded by cliffs, under which
lies scattered the village of Wollrathshausen, consisting of several
cottages, built entirely of fir, with strange galleries hanging over the
way.  Nothing can be neater than the carpentry of these simple edifices,
nor more solid than their construction; many of them looked as if they
had braved the torrents which fell from the mountains a century ago; and,
if one may judge from the hoary appearance of the inhabitants, here are
patriarchs who remember the Emperor Lewis of Bavaria.  Orchards of
cherry-trees impend from the steeps above the village, which to our
certain knowledge produce no contemptible fruit.

Having refreshed ourselves with their cooling juice, we struck into a
grove of pines, the tallest and most flourishing perhaps we ever beheld.
There seemed no end to these forests, save where little irregular spots
of herbage, fed by cattle, intervened.  Whenever we gained an eminence it
was only to discover more ranges of dark wood, variegated with meadows
and glittering streams.  White clover and a profusion of sweet-scented
flowers clothe their banks; above, waves the mountain-ash, glowing with
scarlet berries; and beyond, rise hills and rocks and mountains, piled
upon one another, and fringed with fir to their topmost acclivities.
Perhaps the Norwegian forests alone equal these in grandeur and extent.
Those which cover the Swiss highlands rarely convey such vast ideas.
There, the woods climb only half way up their ascents, and then are
circumscribed by snows: here, no boundaries are set to their progress,
and the mountains, from their bases to their summits, display rich
unbroken masses of vegetation.

As we were surveying this prospect, a thick cloud, fraught with thunder,
obscured the transparence of the horizon, whilst flashes startled our
horses, whose snorts and stampings resounded through the woods.  What
from the shade of the firs and the impending tempests, we travelled
several miles almost in total darkness.  One moment the clouds began to
fleet, and a faint gleam promised serener hours, but the next all was
gloom and terror; presently a deluge of rain poured down upon the valley,
and in a short time the torrents, beginning to swell, raged with such
fury as to be with difficulty forded.  Twilight drew on, just as we had
passed the most terrible; then ascending a steep hill under a mountain,
whose pines and birches rustled with the storm, we saw a little lake
below.  A deep azure haze veiled its eastern shore, and lowering vapours
concealed the cliffs to the south; but over its western extremities a few
transparent clouds, the remains of the rays of a struggling sunset, were
suspended, which streamed on the surface of the waters, and tinged with
tender pink the brow of a verdant promontory.

I could not help fixing myself on the banks of the lake for several
minutes, till this apparition was lost, and confounded with the shades of
night.  Looking round, I shuddered at a craggy mountain, clothed in dark
forests and almost perpendicular, that was absolutely to be surmounted
before we could arrive at Wallersee.  No house, not even a shed
appearing, we were forced to ascend the peak, and penetrate these awful
groves.

Great praise is due to the directors of the roads across them, which,
considering their situation, are wonderfully fine.  Mounds of stone
support the passage in some places; and, in others, it is hewn with
incredible labour through the solid rock.  Beeches and pines of a hundred
feet high, darken the way with their gigantic branches, casting a chill
around, and diffusing a woody odour.  As we advanced, in the thick shade,
amidst the spray of torrents, and heard their loud roar in the chasm
beneath, I could scarcely help thinking myself transported to the Grande
Chartreuse; and began to conceive hopes of once more beholding St. Bruno.
{140}  But, though that venerable father did not vouchsafe an apparition,
or call to me again from the depths of the dells, he protected his votary
from nightly perils, and brought us to the banks of Wallersee Lake.  We
saw lights gleam upon its shores, which directed us to a cottage where we
reposed after our toils, and were soon lulled to sleep by the fall of
distant waters.

_July_ 26_th_.—The sun rose many hours before me, and when I got up was
spangling the surface of the lake, which expands between steeps of wood,
crowned by lofty crags and pinnacles.  We had an opportunity of
contemplating this bold assemblage as we travelled on the banks of the
Meer, where it forms a bay sheltered by impending forests; the water,
tinged by their reflection with a deep cerulean, calm and tranquil.
Mountains of pine and beech rising above, close every outlet; and, no
village or spire peeping out of the foliage, impress an idea of more than
European solitude.  I could contentedly have passed a summer’s moon in
these retirements, hollowed myself a canoe, and fished for sustenance.

From the shore of Wallersee, our road led us straight through arching
groves, which the axe seems never to have violated, to the summit of a
rock covered with spurge-laurel, and worn by the course of torrents into
innumerable craggy forms.  Beneath, lay extended a chaos of shattered
cliffs, with tall pines springing from their crevices, and rapid streams
hurrying between their intermingled trunks and branches.  As yet, no hut
appeared, no mill, no bridge, no trace of human existence.

After a few hours’ journey through the wilderness, we began to discover a
wreath of smoke; and presently the cottage from whence it arose, composed
of planks, and reared on the very brink of a precipice.  Piles of cloven
spruce-fir were dispersed before the entrance, on a little spot of
verdure browsed by goats; near them sat an aged man with hoary whiskers,
his white locks tucked under a fur cap.  Two or three beautiful children,
their hair neatly braided, played around him; and a young woman, dressed
in a short robe and Polish-looking bonnet, peeped out of a wicket window.

I was so much struck with the exotic appearance of this sequestered
family, that, crossing a rivulet, I clambered up to their cottage and
begged some refreshment.  Immediately there was a contention amongst the
children, who should be the first to oblige me.  A little black-eyed girl
succeeded, and brought me an earthen jug full of milk, with crumbled
bread, and a platter of strawberries fresh picked from the bank.  I
reclined in the midst of my smiling hosts, and spread my repast on the
turf: never could I be waited upon with more hospitable grace.  The only
thing I wanted was language to express my gratitude; and it was this
deficiency which made me quit them so soon.  The old man seemed visibly
concerned at my departure; and his children followed me a long way down
the rocks, talking in a dialect which passes all understanding, and
waving their hands to bid me adieu.

I had hardly lost sight of them and regained my carriage before we
entered a forest of pines, to all appearance without bounds, of every age
and figure; some, feathered to the ground with flourishing branches;
others, decayed into shapes like Lapland idols.  I can imagine few
situations more dreadful than to be lost at night amidst this confusion
of trunks, hollow winds whistling among the branches, and strewing their
cones below.  Even at noonday, I thought we should never have found our
way out.

At last, having descended a long avenue, endless perspectives opening on
either side, we emerged into a valley bounded by swelling hills, divided
into agreeable shady inclosures, where many herds were grazing.  A
rivulet flows along the pastures beneath; and after winding through the
village of Boidou, loses itself in a narrow pass amongst the cliffs and
precipices which rise above the cultivated slopes, and frame in this
happy pastoral region.  All the plain was in sunshine, the sky blue, and
the heights illuminated, except one rugged peak with spires of rock,
shaped not unlike the views I have seen of Sinai, and wrapped, like that
sacred mount, in clouds and darkness.  At the base of this tremendous
mass, lies a neat hamlet called Mittenvald, surrounded by thickets and
banks of verdure, and watered by frequent springs, whose sight and
murmurs were so reviving in the midst of a sultry day, that we could not
think of leaving their vicinity, but remained at Mittenvald the whole
evening.

Our inn had long airy galleries, and a pleasant balcony fronting the
mountain.  In one of these we dined upon trout fresh from the rills, and
cherries just culled from the orchards that cover the slopes above.  The
clouds were dispersing, and the topmost peak half visible, before we
ended our repast.  Every moment discovering some inaccessible cliff or
summit, shining through the mists, and tinted by the sun with pale golden
colours.  These appearances filled me with such delight and with such a
train of romantic associations, that I left the table and ran to an open
field beyond the huts and gardens, to gaze in solitude and catch the
vision before it dissolved away.  You, if any human being is able, may
conceive true ideas of these glowing vapours sailing over the pointed
rocks; and brightening them in their passage with amber light.

When all were faded and lost in the blue ether, I had time to look around
me and notice the mead in which I was standing.  Here, clover covered its
surface; there, crops of grain; further on, beds of herbs and the
sweetest flowers.  An amphitheatre of hills and rocks, broken into a
variety of glens and precipices, guards the plain from intrusion, and
opens a course for several clear rivulets, which, after gurgling amidst
loose stones and fragments, fall down the steeps, and are concealed and
quieted in the herbage of the vale.

A cottage or two peep out of the woods that hang over the waterfalls; and
on the brow of the hills above, appears a series of eleven little
chapels, uniformly built.  I followed the narrow path that leads to them,
on the edge of the eminences, and met a troop of beautiful peasants, all
of the name of Anna (for it was her saintship’s day), going to pay their
devotions, severally, at these neat white fanes.  There were faces that
Guercino would not have disdained copying, with braids of hair the
softest and most luxuriant I ever beheld.  Some had wreathed it simply
with flowers, other with rolls of a thin linen (manufactured in the
neighbourhood), and disposed it with a degree of elegance one should not
have expected on the cliffs of the Tyrol.

Being arrived, they knelt all together at the first chapel, on the steps,
a minute or two, whispered a short prayer, and then dispersed each to her
fane.  Every little building had now its fair worshipper, and you may
well conceive how much such figures, scattered about the landscape,
increased its charms.  Notwithstanding the fervour of their adorations
(for at intervals they sighed and beat their white bosoms with energy),
several bewitching profane glances were cast at me as I passed by.  Don’t
be surprised, then, if I became a convert to idolatry in so amiable a
form, and worshipped St. Anna on the score of her namesakes.

When got beyond the last chapel, I began to hear the roar of a cascade in
a thick wood of beech and chestnut that clothes the steeps of a wide
fissure in the rock.  My ear soon guided me to its entrance, which was
marked by a shed encompassed with mossy fragments, and almost concealed
by bushes of the caper-plant in full red bloom.  Amongst these I
struggled, till, reaching a goat-track, it conducted me, on the brink of
the foaming waters, to the very depths of the cliff, whence issues a
stream which dashes impetuously down, strikes against a ledge of rocks,
and sprinkles the impending thicket with dew.  Big drops hung on every
spray, and glittered on the leaves partially gilt by the rays of the
declining sun, whose mellow hues softened the summits of the cliffs, and
diffused a repose, a divine calm, over this deep retirement, which
inclined me to imagine it the extremity of the earth, and the portal of
some other region of existence; some happy world beyond the dark groves
of pine, the caves and awful mountains, where the river takes its source!
I hung eagerly on the gulph, impressed with this idea, and fancied myself
listening to a voice that bubbled up with the waters; then looked into
the abyss and strained my eyes to penetrate its gloom, but all was dark
and unfathomable as futurity!  Awakening from my reverie, I felt the
damps of the water chill my forehead, and ran shivering out of the vale
to avoid them.  A warmer atmosphere, that reigned in the meads I had
wandered across before, tempted me to remain a good while longer,
collecting the wild pinks with which they are strewed in profusion, and a
species of thyme scented like myrrh.  Whilst I was thus employed, a
confused murmur struck my ear, and, on turning towards a cliff, backed by
the woods from whence the sound seemed to proceed, forth issued a herd of
goats, hundreds after hundreds, skipping down the steeps: then followed
two shepherd boys, gamboling together as they drove their creatures
along: soon after, the dog made his appearance, hunting a stray heifer
which brought up the rear.  I followed them with my eyes till lost in the
windings of the valley, and heard the tinkling of their bells die
gradually away.  Now the last blush of crimson left the summit of Sinai,
inferior mountains being long since cast in deep blue shades.  The
village was already hushed when I regained it, and in a few moments I
followed its example.

_July_ 27_th_.—We pursued our journey to Inspruck, through the wildest
scenes of wood and mountain that were ever traversed, the rocks now
beginning to assume a loftier and more majestic appearance, and to
glisten with snows.  I had proposed passing a day or two at Inspruck,
visiting the castle of Ambras, and examining Count Eysenberg’s cabinet,
enriched with the rarest productions of the mineral kingdom, and a
complete collection of the moths and flies peculiar to the Tyrol; but,
upon my arrival, the azure of the skies and the brightness of the
sunshine inspired me with an irresistible wish of hastening to Italy.  I
was now too near the object of my journey, to delay possession any longer
than absolutely necessary; so, casting a transient look on Maximilian’s
tomb, and the bronze statues of Tyrolese Counts and worthies, solemnly
ranged in the church of the Franciscans, set immediately off.

We crossed a broad noble street, terminated by a triumphal arch, and were
driven along the road to the foot of a mountain waving with fields of
corn, and variegated with wood and vineyards, encircling lawns of the
finest verdure, scattered over with white houses glistening in the sun.
Upon ascending the mount, and beholding a vast range of prospects of a
similar character, I almost repented my impatience, and looked down with
regret upon the cupolas and steeples we were leaving behind.  But the
rapid succession of lovely and romantic scenes soon effaced the former
from my memory.

Our road, the smoothest in the world (though hewn in the bosom of rocks),
by its sudden turns and windings, gave us, every instant, opportunities
of discovering new villages, and forests rising beyond forests; green
spots in the midst of wood, high above on the mountains, and cottages
perched on the edge of promontories.  Down, far below, in the chasm,
amidst a confusion of pines and fragments of stone, rages the torrent
Inn, which fills the country far and wide with a perpetual murmur.
Sometimes we descended to its brink, and crossed over high bridges;
sometimes mounted half-way up the cliffs, till its roar and agitation
became, through distance, inconsiderable.

After a long ascent, the shades of evening reposing in the valleys, and
the upland snows still tinged with a vivid red, we reached Schönberg, a
village well worthy of its appellation: and then, twilight drawing over
us, began to descend.  We could now but faintly discover the opposite
mountains, veined with silver rills, when we came once more to the banks
of the Inn.  This turbulent stream accompanied us all the way to
Steinach, and broke by its continual roar the stillness of the night,
which had finished half its course before we were settled to rest.

_July_ 28_th_.—I rose early to scent the fragrance of the vegetation,
bathed in a shower which had lately fallen, and looking around me, saw
nothing but crags hanging over crags, and the rocky shores of the stream,
still dark with the shade of the mountains.  The small opening in which
Steinach is situated, terminates in a gloomy strait, scarce leaving room
for the road and the torrent, which does not understand being thwarted,
and will force its way, let the pines grow ever so thick, or the rocks be
ever so considerable.

Notwithstanding the forbidding air of this narrow dell, Industry has
contrived to enliven its steeps with habitations, to raise water by means
of a wheel, and to cover the surface of the rocks with soil.  By this
means large crops of oats and flax are produced, and most of the huts
have gardens adjoining, which are filled with poppies, seeming to thrive
in this parched situation.

    “Urit enim lini campum seges, urit avenæ,
    Urunt Lethæo perfusa papavera somno.”

The farther we advanced in the dell, the larger were the plantations
which discovered themselves.  For what purpose these gaudy flowers meet
with such encouragement, I had neither time nor language to inquire; the
mountaineers stuttering a gibberish unintelligible even to Germans.
Probably opium is extracted from them; or, perhaps, if you love a
conjecture, Morpheus has transferred his abode from the Cimmerians, and
has perceived a cavern somewhere or other in the recesses of these
endless mountains.  Poppies, you know, in poetic travels, always denote
the skirts of his soporific reign, and I don’t remember a region better
calculated for undisturbed repose than the narrow clefts and gullies
which run up amongst these rocks, lost in vapours impervious to the sun,
and moistened by rills and showers, whose continual tricklings inspire a
drowsiness not easily to be resisted.  Add to these circumstances the
waving of the pines, with the hum of bees seeking their food in the
crevices, and you will have as sleepy a region as that in which Spenser
and Ariosto have placed the nodding deity.

At present, I must confess, I should not dislike submitting to his
empire, for a few months or years, just as it might happen, whilst Europe
is distracted by demons of revenge and war; whilst they are strangling at
Venice, and tearing each other to pieces in unhappy London; whilst Etna
and Vesuvius give signs of uncommon wrath; America welters in her blood;
and almost every quarter of the globe is filled with carnage and
devastation.  This is the moment to humble ourselves before the God of
Sleep; to beseech him to open his dusky portals; and admit us into the
repose of his retired kingdom.  If you are inclined to become a
suppliant, hasten to the Tyrol, and we will search together about the
mountains, traverse the poppy-meads, and look into every chasm and
fissure that excludes daylight, in hopes of discovering the mansion of
repose.  Then when we have found this corner (or I think our search will
be successful) Morpheus will give us an approving nod, and beckon us in
silence to couch, where, soon lulled by the murmurs of the place, we
shall sink into oblivion and tranquillity.  But we may as well keep our
eyes open for the present, till we have made this important discovery,
and look at the beautiful country round Brixen, whither I arrived in the
cool of the evening, and breathed the freshness of a garden, immediately
beneath my window.  The thrushes, warbling amongst its shades, saluted
me, the moment I awoke next morning.

_July_ 29_th_.—We proceeded over fertile mountains to Bolsano.  Here
first I noticed the rocks cut into terraces, thick set with melons and
Indian corn; gardens of fig-trees and pomegranates hanging over walls,
clustered with fruit; amidst them, a little pleasant cot, shaded by
cypresses.  In the evening we perceived several further indications of
approaching Italy; and after sunset the Adige, rolling its full tide
between precipices, which looked awful in the dusk.  Myriads of
fire-flies sparkled amongst the shrubs on the bank.  I traced the course
of these exotic insects by their blue light, now rising to the summits of
the trees, now sinking to the ground and associating with vulgar
glow-worms.  We had opportunities enough to remark their progress, since
we travelled all night; such being my impatience to reach the promised
land!

Morning dawned just as we saw Trent dimly before us.  I slept a few
hours, then set out again (July 30th), after the heats were in some
degree abated, and leaving Bergine, where the peasants were feasting
before their doors, in their holiday dresses, with red pinks stuck in
their ears instead of rings, and their necks surrounded with coral of the
same colour, we came through a woody valley to the banks of a lake,
filled with the purest and most transparent water, which loses itself in
shady creeks, amongst hills robed with verdure from their bases to their
summits.

The shores present one continual shrubbery, interspersed with knots of
larches and slender almonds, starting from the underwood.  A cornice of
rock runs round the whole, except where the trees descend to the very
brink, and dip their boughs in the water.

It was five o’clock when I caught the sight of this unsuspected lake, and
the evening shadows stretched nearly across it.  Gaining a very rapid
ascent, we looked down upon its placid bosom, and saw several airy peaks
rising above the tufted foliage of the groves around.  I quitted the
contemplation of them with regret, and, in a few hours, arrived at Borgo
di Volsugano, the scenes of the lake still present before the eye of my
fancy.

_July_ 31_st_.—My heart beat quick when I saw some hills, not very
distant, which I was told lay in the Venetian State, and I thought an
age, at least, had elapsed before we were passing their base.  The road
was never formed to delight an impatient traveller; loose pebbles and
rolling stones render it, in the highest degree, tedious and jolting.  I
should not have spared my execrations, had it not traversed a picturesque
valley, overgrown with juniper, and strewed with fragments of rock,
precipitated, long since, from the surrounding eminences, blooming with
cyclamens.

I clambered up several of these crags,

                         “fra gli odoriferi ginepri,”

to gather the flowers I have just mentioned, and found them deliciously
scented.  Fratillarias, and the most gorgeous flies, many of which I here
noticed for the first time, were fluttering about and expanding their
wings to the sun.  There is no describing the numbers I beheld, nor their
gaily varied colouring.  I could not find in my heart to destroy their
felicity; to scatter their bright plumage and snatch them for ever from
the realms of light and flowers.  Had I been less compassionate, I should
have gained credit with that respectable corps, the torturers of
butterflies; and might, perhaps, have enriched their cabinets with some
unknown captives.  However, I left them imbibing the dews of heaven, in
free possession of their native rights; and having changed horses at
Tremolano, entered at length my long-desired Italy.

The pass is rocky and tremendous, guarded by a fortress (Covalo), in
possession of the Empress Queen, and only fit, one should think, to be
inhabited by her eagles.  There is no attaining this exalted hold but by
the means of a cord let down many fathoms by the soldiers, who live in
dens and caverns, which serve also as arsenals, and magazines for powder;
whose mysteries I declined prying into, their approach being a little too
aërial for my earthly frame.  A black vapour, tinging their entrance,
completed the terror of the prospect, which I shall never forget.

For two or three leagues it continued much in the same style; cliffs,
nearly perpendicular, on both sides, and the Brenta foaming and
thundering below.  Beyond, the rocks began to be mantled with vines and
gardens.  Here and there a cottage shaded with mulberries made its
appearance, and we often discovered, on the banks of the river, ranges of
white buildings, with courts and awnings, beneath which vast numbers were
employed in manufacturing silk.  As we advanced, the stream gradually
widened, and the rocks receded; woods were more frequent and cottages
thicker strown.

About five in the evening, we had left the country of crags and
precipices, of mists and cataracts, and were entering the fertile
territory of the Bassanese.  It was now I beheld groves of olives, and
vines clustering the summits of the tallest elms; pomegranates in every
garden, and vases of citron and orange before almost every door.  The
softness and transparency of the air soon told me I was arrived in
happier climates; and I felt sensations of joy and novelty run through my
veins, upon beholding this smiling land of groves and verdure stretched
out before me.  A few glooming vapours, I can hardly call them clouds,
rested upon the extremities of the landscape; and, through their medium,
the sun cast an oblique and dewy ray.  Peasants were returning homeward
from the cultivated hillocks and corn-fields, singing as they went, and
calling to each other over the hills; whilst the women were milking goats
before the wickets of the cottages, and preparing their country fare.

I left them enjoying it, and soon beheld the ancient ramparts and
cypresses of Bassano; whose classic appearance recalled the memory of
former times, and answered exactly the ideas I had pictured to myself of
Italian edifices.  Though encompassed by walls and turrets, neither
soldiers nor custom-house officers start out from their concealment, to
question and molest a weary traveller, for such are the blessings of the
Venetian State, at least of the Terra Firma provinces, that it does not
contain, I believe, above four regiments.  Istria, Dalmatia, and the
maritime frontiers, are more formidably guarded, as they touch, you know,
the whiskers of the Turkish empire.

Passing under a Doric gateway, we crossed the chief part of the town in
the way to our locanda, pleasantly situated, and commanding a level
green, where people walk and eat ices by moonlight.  On the right, the
Franciscan church and convent, half hid in the religious gloom of pine
and cypress; to the left, a perspective of walls and towers rising from
the turf, and marking it, when I arrived, with long shadows; in front,
where the lawn terminates, meadow, wood, and garden run quite to the base
of the mountains.

Twilight coming on, this beautiful spot swarmed with people, sitting in
circles upon the grass, refreshing themselves with cooling liquors or
lounging upon the bank beneath the towers.  They looked so free and happy
that I longed to be acquainted with them; and by the interposition of a
polite Venetian (who, though a perfect stranger, showed me the most
engaging marks of attention), was introduced to a group of the principal
inhabitants.  Our conversation ended in a promise to meet the next
evening at a country house about a league from Bassano, and then to
return together and sing to the praise of Pacchierotti, their idol, as
well as mine.

You can have no idea what pleasure we mutually found in being of the same
faith, and believing in one singer; nor can you imagine what effects that
musical divinity produced at Padua, where he performed a few years ago,
and threw his audience into such raptures, that it was some time before
they recovered.  One in particular, a lady of distinction, fainted away
the instant she caught the pathetic accents of his voice, and was near
dying a martyr to its melody.  La Contessa Roberti, who sings in the
truest taste, gave me a detail of the whole affair.  “Egli ha fatto
veramente un fanatismo a Padua,” was her expression.  I assured her we
were not without idolatry in England, upon his account; but that in this,
as well as in other articles of belief, there were many abominable
heretics.

_August_ 1_st_.—The whole morning not a soul stirred who could avoid it.
Those who were so active and lively the night before, were now stretched
languidly upon their couches.  Being to the full as idly disposed, I sat
down and wrote some of this dreaming epistle; then feasted upon figs and
melons; then got under the shade of the cypress, and slumbered till
evening, only waking to dine, and take some ice.

The sun declining apace, I hastened to my engagement at Mosolente (for so
is the villa called), placed on a verdant hill encircled by others as
lovely, and consisting of three light pavilions connected by porticos:
just such as we admire in the fairy scenes of an opera.  A vast flight of
steps leads to the summit, where Signora Roberti and her friends received
me with a grace and politeness that can never want a place in my memory.
We rambled over all the apartments of this agreeable edifice,
characterised by airiness and simplicity.  The pavement incrusted with a
composition as cool and polished as marble; the windows, doors, and
balconies adorned with silvered, iron work, commanding scenes of meads
and woodlands that extend to the shores of the Adriatic; spires and
cypresses rising above the levels; and the hazy mountains beyond Padua,
diversifying the expanse, form altogether a landscape which the elegant
imagination of Horizonti never exceeded.  Beyond the villa, a tumble of
hillocks present themselves in a variety of forms, with dips and hollows
between, scattered over with leafy trees and vines dangling in continued
garlands.

I gazed on this rural view till it faded in the dusk; then returning to
Bassano, repaired to an illuminated hall, and had the felicity of hearing
La Signora Roberti sing the very air which had excited such transport at
Padua.  As soon as she had ended, and that I could hear no more those
affecting sounds, which had held me silent and almost breathless for
several moments, a band of various instruments stationed in the open
street began a lively symphony, which would have delighted me at any
other time; but now, I wished them a thousand leagues away, so melancholy
an impression did the air I had been listening to leave on my mind.

At midnight I took leave of my obliging hosts, who were just setting out
for Padua.  They gave me a thousand kind invitations, and I hope some
future day to accept them.

_August_ 2_nd_.—Our route to Venice lay winding about the variegated
plains I had surveyed from Mosolente; and after dining at Treviso we came
in two hours and a half to Mestre, between grand villas and gardens
peopled with statues.  Embarking our baggage at the last-mentioned place,
we stepped into a gondola, whose even motion was very agreeable after the
jolts of a chaise.  Stretched beneath the awning, I enjoyed at my ease
the freshness of the gales, and the sight of the waters.  We were soon
out of the canal of Mestre, terminated by an isle which contains a cell
dedicated to the Holy Virgin, peeping out of a thicket from whence spire
up two tall cypresses.  Its bells tingled as we passed along and dropped
some paolis into a net tied at the end of a pole stretched out to us for
that purpose.

As soon as we had doubled the cape of this diminutive island, an azure
expanse of sea opened to our view, the domes and towers of Venice rising
from its bosom.  Now we began to distinguish Murano, St. Michele, St.
Giorgio in Alga, and several other islands, detached from the grand
cluster, which I hailed as old acquaintances; innumerable prints and
drawings having long since made their shapes familiar.  Still gliding
forward, the sun casting his last gleams across the waves, and reddening
the different towers, we every moment distinguished some new church or
palace in the city, suffused with the evening rays, and reflected with
all their glow of colouring from the surface of the waters.

The air was still; the sky cloudless; a faint wind just breathing upon
the deep, lightly bore its surface against the steps of a chapel in the
island of Saint Secondo, and waved the veil before its portal, as we
rowed by and coasted the walls of its garden, overhung with fig-trees and
topped with Italian pines.  The convent discovers itself through their
branches, built in a style somewhat morisco, and level with the sea,
except where the garden intervenes.

Here, meditation may indulge her reveries in the midst of the surges, and
walk in cloisters, alone vocal with the whispers of the pine.  I passed
this consecrated spot soon after sunset, when daylight was expiring in
the west, and when the distant woods of Fusina were lost in the haze of
the horizon.

We were now drawing very near the city, and a confused hum began to
interrupt the evening stillness; gondolas were continually passing and
repassing, and the entrance of the Canal Reggio, with all its stir and
bustle, lay before us.  Our gondoliers turned with much address through a
crowd of boats and barges that blocked up the way, and rowed smoothly by
the side of a broad pavement, covered with people in all dresses and of
all nations.

Leaving the Palazzo Pesaro, a noble structure with two rows of arcades
and a superb rustic, behind, we were soon landed before the Leon Bianco,
which being situated in one of the broadest parts of the grand canal,
commands a most striking assemblage of buildings.  I have no terms to
describe the variety of pillars, of pediments, of mouldings, and
cornices, some Grecian, others Saracenical, that adorn these edifices, of
which the pencil of Canaletti conveys so perfect an idea as to render all
verbal description superfluous.  At one end of this grand perspective
appears the Rialto; the sweep of the canal conceals the other.

The rooms of our hotel are as spacious and cheerful as I could desire; a
lofty hall, or rather gallery, painted with grotesque in a very good
style, perfectly clean, floored with the stucco composition I have
mentioned above, divides the house, and admits a refreshing current of
air.  Several windows near the ceiling look into this vast apartment,
which serves in lieu of a court, and is rendered perfectly luminous by a
glazed arcade, thrown open to catch the breezes.  Through it I passed to
a balcony which impends over the canal, and is twined round with plants
forming a green festoon springing from two large vases of orange-trees
placed at each end.  Here I established myself to enjoy the cool, and
observe, as well as the dusk would permit, the variety of figures
shooting by in their gondolas.

As night approached, innumerable tapers glimmered through the awnings
before the windows.  Every boat had its lantern, and the gondolas moving
rapidly along were followed by tracks of light, which gleamed and played
upon the waters.  I was gazing at these dancing fires when the sounds of
music were wafted along the canals, and as they grew louder and louder,
an illuminated barge, filled with musicians, issued from the Rialto, and
stopping under one of the palaces, began a serenade, which was clamorous
and suspended all conversation in the galleries and porticos; till,
rowing slowly away, it was heard no more.  The gondoliers catching the
air, imitated its cadences, and were answered by others at a distance,
whose voices, echoed by the arch of the bridge, acquired a plaintive and
interesting tone.  I retired to rest, full of the sound; and long after I
was asleep, the melody seemed to vibrate in my ear.

_August_ 3_rd_.—It was not five o’clock before I was aroused by a loud
din of voices and splashing of water under my balcony.  Looking out, I
beheld the grand canal so entirely covered with fruits and vegetables, on
rafts and in barges, that I could scarcely distinguish a wave.  Loads of
grapes, peaches, and melons arrived, and disappeared in an instant, for
every vessel was in motion; and the crowds of purchasers hurrying from
boat to boat, formed one of the liveliest pictures imaginable.  Amongst
the multitudes, I remarked a good many whose dress and carriage announced
something above the common rank; and upon inquiry I found they were noble
Venetians, just come from their casinos, and met to refresh themselves
with fruit, before they retired to sleep for the day.

Whilst I was observing them, the sun began to colour the balustrades of
the palaces, and the pure exhilarating air of the morning drawing me
abroad, I procured a gondola, laid in my provision of bread and grapes,
and was rowed under the Rialto, down the grand canal, to the marble steps
of S. Maria della Salute, erected by the Senate in performance of a vow
to the Holy Virgin, who begged off a terrible pestilence in 1630.  I
gazed, delighted with its superb frontispiece and dome, relieved by a
clear blue sky.  To criticize columns or pediments of the different
façades, would be time lost; since one glance upon the worst view that
has been taken of them, conveys a far better idea than the most elaborate
description.  The great bronze portal opened whilst I was standing on the
steps which lead to it, and discovered the interior of the dome, where I
expatiated in solitude; no mortal appearing except an old priest who
trimmed the lamps, and muttered a prayer before the high altar, still
wrapped in shadows.  The sunbeams began to strike against the windows of
the cupola just as I left the church, and was wafted across the waves to
the spacious platform in front of St. Giorgio Maggiore, by far the most
perfect and beautiful edifice my eyes ever beheld.

When my first transport was a little subsided, and I had examined the
graceful design of each particular ornament, and united the just
proportion and grand effect of the whole in my mind, I planted my
umbrella on the margin of the sea, and reclining under its shade, my feet
dangling over the waters, viewed the vast range of palaces, of porticos,
of towers, opening on every side and extending out of sight.  The Doge’s
residence and the tall columns at the entrance of the place of St. Mark,
form, together with the arcades of the public library, the lofty
Campanile and the cupolas of the ducal church, one of the most striking
groups of buildings that art can boast of.  To behold at one glance these
stately fabrics, so illustrious in the records of former ages, before
which, in the flourishing times of the republic, so many valiant chiefs
and princes have landed, loaded with the spoils of different nations, was
a spectacle I had long and ardently desired.  I thought of the days of
Frederic Barbarossa, when looking up the piazza of St. Mark, along which
he marched in solemn procession, to cast himself at the feet of Alexander
the Third, and pay a tardy homage to St. Peter’s successor.  Here were no
longer those splendid fleets that attended his progress; one solitary
galeass was all I beheld, anchored opposite the palace of the Doge, and
surrounded by crowds of gondolas, whose sable hues contrasted strongly
with its vermilion oars and shining ornaments.  A party-coloured
multitude was continually shifting from one side of the piazza to the
other; whilst senators and magistrates in long black robes were already
arriving to fill their respective charges.

I contemplated the busy scene from my peaceful platform, where nothing
stirred but aged devotees creeping to their devotions; and, whilst I
remained thus calm and tranquil, heard the distant buzz and rumour of the
town.  Fortunately a length of waves rolled between me and its tumults;
so that I ate my grapes, and read Metastasio, undisturbed by
officiousness or curiosity.  When the sun became too powerful, I entered
the nave, and applauded the genius of Palladio.

After I had admired the masterly structure of the roof and the lightness
of its arches, my eyes naturally directed themselves to the pavement of
white and ruddy marble, polished, and reflecting like a mirror the
columns which rise from it.  Over this I walked to a door that admitted
me into the principal quadrangle of the convent, surrounded by a cloister
supported on Ionic pillars, beautifully proportioned.  A flight of stairs
opens into the court, adorned with balustrades and pedestals, sculptured
with elegance truly Grecian.  This brought me to the refectory, where the
chef-d’œuvre of Paul Veronese, representing the marriage of Cana in
Galilee, was the first object that presented itself.  I never beheld so
gorgeous a group of wedding garments before; there is every variety of
fold and plait that can possibly be imagined.  The attitudes and
countenances are more uniform, and the guests appear a very genteel,
decent sort of people, well used to the mode of their times and
accustomed to miracles.

Having examined this fictitious repast, I cast a look on a long range of
tables covered with very excellent realities, which the monks were coming
to devour with energy, if one might judge from their appearance.  These
sons of penitence and mortification possess one of the most spacious
islands of the whole cluster, a princely habitation, with gardens and
open porticos, that engross every breath of air; and, what adds not a
little to the charms of their abode, is the liberty of making excursions
from it, whenever they have a mind.

The republic, wisely jealous of ecclesiastical influence, connives at
these amusing rambles, and, by encouraging the liberty of monks and
churchmen, prevents their appearing too sacred and important in the eyes
of the people, who have frequent proofs of their being mere flesh and
blood, and that of the frailest composition.  Had the rest of Italy been
of the same opinion, and profited as much by Fra Paolo’s maxims, some of
its fairest fields would not, at this moment, lie uncultivated, and its
ancient spirit might have revived.  However, I can scarcely think the
moment far distant, when it will assert its natural prerogatives, awake
from its ignoble slumber, and look back upon the tiara, with all its host
of idle fears and scaring phantoms, as the offspring of a distempered
dream.  Scarce a sovereign supports any longer this vain illusion, except
the old woman of Hungary, and as soon as her dim eyes are closed we shall
probably witness great events. {156}

Full of prophecies and bodings, I moved slowly out of the cloisters; and,
gaining my gondola, arrived, I know not how, at the flights of steps
which lead to the Redenptore, a structure so simple and elegant, that I
thought myself entering an antique temple, and looked about for the
statue of the God of Delphi, or some other graceful divinity.  A huge
crucifix of bronze soon brought me to times present.

The charm being thus dissolved, I began to perceive the shapes of rueful
martyrs peeping out of the niches around, and the bushy beards of
Capuchin friars wagging before the altars.  These good fathers had
decorated their church, according to custom, with orange and citron
trees, placed between the pilasters of the arcades; and on grand
festivals, it seems, they turn the whole church into a bower, strew the
pavement with leaves, and festoon the dome with flowers.

I left them occupied with their plants and their devotions.  It was
midday, and I begged to be rowed to some woody island, where I might dine
in shade and tranquillity.  My gondoliers shot off in an instant; but,
though they went at a very rapid rate, I wished to fly faster, and
getting into a bark with six oars, swept along the waters, soon left the
Zecca and San Marco behind; and, launching into the plains of shining
sea, saw turret after turret, and isle after isle, fleeting before me.  A
pale greenish light ran along the shores of the distant continent, whose
mountains seemed to catch the motion of my boat, and to fly with equal
celerity.

I had not much time to contemplate the beautiful effects on the
waters—the emerald and purple hues which gleamed along their surface.
Our prow struck, foaming, against the walls of the Carthusian garden,
before I recollected where I was, or could look attentively around me.
Permission being obtained, I entered this cool retirement, and putting
aside with my hands the boughs of fig-trees and pomegranates, got under
an ancient bay, near which several tall pines lift themselves up to the
breezes.  I listened to the conversation they held, with a wind just
flown from Greece, and charged, as well as I could understand this airy
language, with many affectionate remembrances from their relations on
Mount Ida.

I reposed amidst bay leaves, fanned by a constant air, till it pleased
the fathers to send me some provisions, with a basket of fruit and wine.
Two of them would wait upon me, and ask ten thousand questions about Lord
George Gordon, and the American war.  I, who was deeply engaged with the
winds, and fancied myself hearing these rapid travellers relate their
adventures, wished my interrogators in purgatory, and pleaded ignorance
of the Italian language.  This circumstance extricated me from my
difficulties, and procured me a long interval of repose.

The rustling of the pines had the same effect as the murmurs of other old
story-tellers, and I slept undisturbed till the people without, in the
boat (who wondered not a little, I dare say, what the deuce was become of
me within), began a sort of chorus in parts, full of such plaintive
modulation, that I still thought myself under the influence of a dream,
and, half in this world and half in the other, believed, like the heroes
of Fingal, that I had caught the music of the spirits of the hill.

When I was thoroughly convinced of the reality of these sounds, I moved
towards the shore from whence they proceeded: a glassy sea lay full
before me; no gale ruffled the expanse; every breath was subsided, and I
beheld the sun go down in all its sacred calm.  You have experienced the
sensations this moment inspires; imagine what they must have been in such
a scene, and accompanied with a melody so simple and pathetic.  I stepped
into my boat, and instead of encouraging the speed of the gondoliers,
begged them to abate their ardour, and row me lazily home.  They
complied, and we were near an hour reaching the platform before the ducal
palace, thronged as usual with a variety of nations.  I mixed a moment
with the crowd; then directed my steps to the great mosque,—I ought to
say the church of St. Mark; but really its cupolas, slender pinnacles,
and semicircular arches, have so oriental an appearance, as to excuse
this appellation.  I looked a moment at the four stately coursers of
bronze and gold that adorn the chief portal, and then took in, at one
glance, the whole extent of the square, with its towers and standards.
So noble an assemblage never met my eyes.  I envied the good fortune of
Petrarch, who describes, in one of his letters, a tournament held in this
princely opening.

Many are the festivals which have been here celebrated.  When Henry the
Third left Poland to mount the throne of France, he passed through
Venice, and found the republic waiting to receive him in their famous
square, which by means of an awning stretched from the balustrades of
opposite palaces, was metamorphosed into a vast saloon, sparkling with
artificial stars, and spread with the richest carpets of the East.  What
a magnificent idea!  The ancient Romans, in the zenith of power and
luxury, never conceived a greater.  It is to them the Venetians are
indebted for the hint, since we read of the Coliseo and Pompey’s theatre
being sometimes covered with transparent canvas, to defend the spectators
from the heat or sudden rain, and to tint the scene with soft agreeable
colours, like the hues of the declining sun.

Having enjoyed the general perspective of the piazza, I began to enter
into particulars, and examine the bronze pedestals of the three standards
before the great church, designed by Sansovino in the true spirit of the
antique, and covered with relievos, at the same time bold and elegant.
It is also to this celebrated architect we are indebted for the stately
façade of the Proccuratie nuove, which forms one side of the square, and
presents an uninterrupted series of arcades and marble columns
exquisitely wrought.  Opposite this magnificent range appears another
line of palaces, whose architecture, though far removed from the Grecian
purity of Sansovino, impresses veneration, and completes the pomp of the
view.

                      [Picture: Grand Canal, Venice]

There is something strange and singular in the tower, which rises
distinct from the smooth pavement of the square, a little to the left as
you stand before the chief entrance of St. Mark’s.  The design is rather
barbarous, and terminates in uncouth and heavy pyramids; yet in spite of
these defects it struck me with awe.  A beautiful building called the
Loggetta, and which serves as a guard-house during the convocation of the
grand council, decorates its base.  Nothing can be more enriched, more
finished than this structure; which, though far from diminutive, is in a
manner lost at the foot of the Campanile.  This enormous mass seems to
promise a very long duration, and will probably carry down the fame of
St. Mark and his Lion to the latest posterity.  Both appear in great
state towards its summit, and have nothing superior, but an archangel
perched on the topmost pinnacle, and pointing to the skies.  The dusk
prevented my remarking the various sculptures with which the Loggetta is
crowded.

Crossing the ample space between this elegant edifice and the ducal
palace, I passed through a labyrinth of pillars and entered the principal
court, of which nothing but the great outline was visible at so late an
hour.  Two reservoirs of bronze, rich with sculptured foliage, diversify
the area.  In front a magnificent flight of steps presents itself, by
which the senators ascend through vast and solemn corridors, which lead
to the interior of the edifice.  The colossal statues of Mars and Neptune
guard the entrance, and have given the appellation of _scala dei geganti_
to the steps below, which I mounted not without respect; and, leaning
against the balustrades, formed like the rest of the building of the
rarest marbles, adored the tutelary divinities.

My devotions were shortly interrupted by one of the sbirri, or officers
of police, who take their stands after sunset before the avenues of the
palace, and who told me the gates were upon the point of being closed.
So, hurrying down the steps, I left half my vows unpaid and a million of
delicate sculptures unexplored; for every pilaster, every frieze, every
entablature, is incrusted with porphyry, verde antique, or some other
curious marble, carved into as many grotesque wreaths and mouldings as we
admire in the loggios of Raffaello.  The various portals, the strange
projections, the length of cloisters; in short, the noble irregularity of
these imperial piles, delighted me beyond idea; and I was sorry to be
forced to abandon them so soon, especially as the twilight, which bats
and owls love not better than I do, enlarged every portico, lengthened
every colonnade, and increased the dimensions of the whole, just as
imagination desired.  This faculty would have had full scope had I but
remained an hour longer.  The moon would then have gleamed upon the
gigantic forms of Mars and Neptune, and discovered the statues of ancient
heroes emerging from the gloom of their niches.

Such an interesting assemblage of objects, such regal scenery, with the
reflection that half their ornaments once contributed to the decoration
of Athens, transported me beyond myself.  The sbirri thought me
distracted.  True enough, I was stalking proudly about like an actor in
an ancient Grecian tragedy, lifting up his hands to the consecrated fanes
and images around, expecting the reply of his attendant chorus, and
declaiming the first verses of Œdipus Tyrannus.

These fits of enthusiasm were hardly subsided, when I issued from the
gates of the palace into the great square, which received a faint gleam
from its casinos and palaces, just beginning to be lighted up, and become
the resort of pleasure and dissipation.  Numbers were walking in parties
upon the pavement; some sought the shade of the porticos with their
favourites; others were earnestly engaged in conversation, and filled the
gay illuminated apartments, where they resorted to drink coffee and
sorbet, with laughter and merriment.  A thoughtless giddy transport
prevailed; for, at this hour, anything like restraint seems perfectly out
of the question; and however solemn a magistrate or senator may appear in
the day, at night he lays up wig and robe and gravity to sleep together,
runs intriguing about in his gondola, takes the reigning sultana under
his arm, and so rambles half over the town, which grows gayer and gayer
as the day declines.

Many of the noble Venetians have a little suite of apartments in some
out-of-the-way corner, near the grand piazza, of which their families are
totally ignorant.  To these they skulk in the dusk, and revel undisturbed
with the companions of their pleasures.  Jealousy itself cannot discover
the alleys, the winding passages, the unsuspected doors, by which these
retreats are accessible.  Many an unhappy lover, whose mistress
disappears on a sudden with some fortunate rival, has searched for her
haunts in vain.  The gondoliers themselves, though the prime managers of
intrigue, are scarce ever acquainted with these interior cabinets.  When
a gallant has a mind to pursue his adventures with mystery, he rows to
the piazza, orders his bark to wait, meets his goddess in the crowd, and
vanishes from all beholders.  Surely, Venice is the city in the universe
best calculated for giving scope to the observations of a devil upon two
sticks.  What a variety of lurking-places would one stroke of his crutch
uncover!

Whilst the higher ranks were solacing themselves in their casinos, the
rabble were gathered in knots round the strollers and mountebanks,
singing and scaramouching in the middle of the square.  I observed a
great number of Orientals amongst the crowd, and heard Turkish and Arabic
muttering in every corner.  There the Sclavonian dialect predominated;
there some Grecian jargon, almost unintelligible.  Had St. Mark’s church
been the wondrous tower, and its piazza the chief square, of the city of
Babylon, there could scarcely have been a greater confusion of languages.

The novelty of the scene afforded me no small share of amusement, and I
wandered about from group to group, and from one strange exotic to
another, asking and being asked innumerable ridiculous questions, and
settling the politics of London and Constantinople, almost in the same
breath.  This instant, I found myself in a circle of grave Armenian
priests and jewellers; the next amongst Greeks and Dalmatians, who
accosted me with the smoothest compliments, and gave proof that their
reputation for pliability and address was not ill-founded.

I was entering into a grand harum-scarum discourse with some Russian
Counts or Princes, or whatever you please, just landed with dwarfs, and
footmen, and governors, and staring, like me, about them, when Mad. de R.
arrived, to whom I had the happiness of being recommended.  She very
obligingly presented me to some of the most distinguished of the Venetian
families at their great casino, which looks into the piazza, and consists
of five or six rooms, fitted up in a gay flimsy taste, neither rich nor
elegant, where were a great many lights, and a great many ladies
negligently dressed, their hair falling very freely about them, and
innumerable adventures written in their eyes.  The gentlemen were lolling
upon the sofas or lounging about the apartments.

The whole assembly seemed upon the verge of gaping, till coffee was
carried round.  This magic beverage diffused a temporary animation; and,
for a moment or two, conversation moved on with a degree of pleasing
extravagance; but the flash was soon dissipated, and nothing remained
save cards and stupidity.

In the intervals of shuffling and dealing, some talked over the affairs
of the grand council with less reserve than I expected; and two or three
of them asked some feeble questions about the late tumults in London: as
much, however, through indolence and forgetfulness, I should conjecture,
as from any political motive, for I don’t believe all those wise stories,
which some travellers have propagated, of Venetian subtlety and profound
silence.  They might have reigned during the dark periods of the
republic, but at this moment the veil is rent in fifty places; and
without any wonderful penetration, the debates of the senate are
discoverable.  There doubtless was a time when, society being greatly
divided, and little communication subsisting among the nobles, secrets
were invariably kept; but since the establishment of casinos, which the
ladies rule, where chit-chat and tittle-tattle are for ever going
forwards, who can preserve a rigorous taciturnity upon any subject in the
universe?  It was one o’clock before all the company were assembled, and
I left them at three, still dreaming over their coffee and card-tables.
Trieze is their favourite game: _uno_, _due_, _tre_, _quatro_, _cinque_,
_fante_, _cavallo_ are eternally repeated; the apartments echoed no other
sound.

No lively people could endure such monotony; yet I have been told the
Venetians are remarkably spirited, and so eager in the pursuit of
amusement as hardly to allow themselves any sleep.  Some, for instance,
after declaiming in the Senate, walking an hour in the square, and
fidgeting about from one casino to another till morning dawns, will get
into a gondola, row across the Lagunes, take the post to Mestre or
Fusina, and jumble over craggy pavements to Treviso, breakfast in haste,
and rattle back again as if the devil were charioteer: by eleven the
party is restored to Venice, resumes robe and periwig, and goes to
council.

This may be very true, and yet I will never cite the Venetians as
examples of vivacity.  Their nerves, unstrung by disease and the
consequences of early debaucheries, impede all lively flow of spirits in
its course, and permit at best but a few moments of a false and feverish
activity.  The approaches of rest, forced back by an immoderate use of
coffee, render them, too, weak and listless, and the facility of being
wafted from place to place in a gondola, adds not a little to their
indolence.  In short, I can scarcely regard their Eastern neighbours in a
more lazy light; and am apt to imagine that instead of slumbering less
than other people, they pass their lives in one perpetual doze.

_August_ 4_th_.—The heats were so excessive in the night, that I thought
myself several times on the point of suffocation, tossed about like a
wounded fish, and dreamt of the devil and Senegal.  Towards sunrise, a
faint breeze restored me to life and reason.  I slumbered till late in
the day, and the moment I was fairly awake, ordered my gondolier to row
out to the main ocean, that I might plunge into its waves, and hear and
see nothing but waters around me.

We shot off, wound amongst a number of sheds, shops, churches, casinos,
and palaces, growing immediately out of the canals, without any apparent
foundation.  No quay, no terrace, not even a slab is to be seen before
the doors; one step brings you from the hall into the bark, and the
vestibules of the stateliest structures lie open to the waters, and level
with them.  I observed several, as I glided along, supported by rows of
well-proportioned pillars, adorned with terms and vases, beyond which the
eye generally discovers a grand court, and sometimes a garden.

In about half an hour, we had left the thickest cluster of isles behind,
and, coasting the Place of St. Mark opposite to San Giorgio Maggiore,
whose elegant frontispiece was painted on the calm waters, launched into
the blue expanse of sea, from which rise the Chartreuse and two or three
other woody islands.  I hailed the spot where I had passed such a happy
visionary evening, and nodded to my friends the pines.

A few minutes more brought me to a dreary, sun-burnt shore, stalked over
by a few Sclavonian soldiers, who inhabit a castle hard by, go regularly
to an ugly unfinished church, and from thence, it is to be hoped, to
paradise; as the air of their barracks is abominable, and kills them like
blasted sheep.

Forlorn as this island appeared to me, I was told it was the scene of the
Doge’s pageantry at the feast of the Ascension; and the very spot to
which he sails in the _Bucentaur_, previously to wedding the sea.  You
have heard enough, and if ever you looked into a show-box, seen full
sufficient of this gaudy spectacle, without my enlarging upon the topic.
I shall only say, that I was obliged to pursue, partly, the same road as
the nuptial procession, in order to reach the beach, and was broiled and
dazzled accordingly.

At last, after traversing some desert hillocks, all of a hop with toads
and locusts (amongst which English heretics have the honour of being
interred), I passed under an arch, and suddenly the boundless plains of
ocean opened to my view.  I ran to the smooth sands, extending on both
sides out of sight, cast off my clothes, and dashed into the waves, which
were coursing one another with a gentle motion, and breaking lightly on
the shores.  The tide rolled over me as I lay floating about, buoyed up
by the water, and carried me wheresoever it listed.  It might have borne
me far out into the main, and exposed me to a thousand perils, before I
had been aware, so totally was I abandoned to the illusion of the moment.
My ears were filled with murmuring undecided sounds; my limbs, stretched
languidly on the surge, rose or sunk just as it swelled or subsided.  In
this passive, senseless state I remained, till the sun cast a less
intolerable light, and the fishing vessels, lying out in the bay at a
great distance, spread their sails and were coming home.

Hastening back over the desert of locusts, I threw myself into the
gondola; and, no wind or wave opposing, was soon wafted across to those
venerable columns, so conspicuous in the Place of St. Mark.  Directing my
course immediately to the ducal palace, I entered the grand court,
ascending the Giant’s stairs, and examined at my leisure its bas-reliefs.
Then, taking the first guide that presented himself, I was shown along
several cloisters and corridors, sustained by innumerable pillars, into
the state apartments, which Tintoret and Paolo Veronese have covered with
the triumphs of their country.

A swarm of lawyers filled the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, and one of the
first advocates in the republic was pleading with all his might, before a
solemn row of senators.  The eyes and ears of the assembly seemed equally
affected.  Clouds of powder and volleys of execrations issuing every
instant from the disputants, I got out of their way; and was led from
hall to hall, and from picture to picture, with exemplary resignation.
To be sure, I was heartily tired, but behaved with decency, having never
once expressed how much I wished the chefs-d’œuvre I had been
contemplating, less smoky and numerous.

At last, I reached once more the colonnades at the entrance, and caught
the sea-breeze in the open porticos which front San Giorgio Maggiore.
The walls are covered in most places with grim visages sculptured in
marble, whose mouths gape for accusations, and swallow every lie that
malice and revenge can dictate.  I wished for a few ears of the same
kind, dispersed about the Doge’s residence, to which one might apply
one’s own, and catch some account of the mysteries within; some little
dialogue between the Three Inquisitors, or debate in the Council of Ten.

This is the tribunal which holds the wealthy nobility in continual awe;
before which they appear with trembling and terror: and whose summons
they dare not disobey.  Sometimes, by way of clemency, it condemns its
victims to perpetual imprisonment in close, stifling cells, between the
leads and beams of the palace; or, unwilling to spill the blood of a
fellow-citizen, generously sinks them into dungeons, deep under the
canals which wash its foundations; so that, above and below, its majesty
is contaminated by the abodes of punishment.  What other sovereign could
endure the idea of having his immediate residence polluted with tears? or
revel in his halls, conscious that many of his species were consuming
their hours in lamentations above his head, and that but a few beams
separated him from the scene of their tortures?  How ever gaily disposed,
could one dance with pleasure on a pavement, beneath which lie damp and
gloomy caverns, whose inhabitants waste away by painful degrees, and feel
themselves whole years a-dying?  Impressed by these terrible ideas, I
could not regard the palace without horror, and wished for the strength
of a thousand antediluvians, to level it with the sea, lay open the
secret recesses of punishment, and admit free gales and sunshine into
every den.

When I had thus vented my indignation, I repaired to the statue of
Neptune and invoked it to second my enterprise.  Once upon a time no
deity had a freer hand at razing cities.  His execution was renowned
throughout all antiquity, and the proudest monarchs deprecated the wrath
of ΚΡΕΙΩΝ ΕΝΟΣΙΧΘΩΝ.  But, like the other mighty ones of ancient days,
his reign is past and his trident disregarded.  Formerly any wild spirit
found favour in the eyes of fortune, and was led along the career of
glory to the deliverance of captives and the extirpation of monsters;
but, in our degenerate times, this easy road to fame is no longer open,
and the means of producing such signal events perplexed and difficult.

Abandoning, therefore, the sad tenants of the Piombi to their fate, I
left the courts, and stepping into my bark, was rowed down a canal over
which the lofty walls of the palace cast a tremendous shade.  Beneath
these fatal waters the dungeons I have also been speaking of are
situated.  There the wretches lie marking the sound of the oars, and
counting the free passage of every gondola.  Above, a marble bridge, of
bold majestic architecture, joins the highest part of the prisons to the
secret galleries of the palace; from whence criminals are conducted over
the arch to a cruel and mysterious death.  I shuddered whilst passing
below; and believe it is not without cause, this structure is named PONTE
DEl SOSPIRI.  Horrors and dismal prospects haunted my fancy upon my
return.  I could not dine in peace, so strongly was my imagination
affected; but snatching my pencil, I drew chasms and subterraneous
hollows, the domain of fear and torture, with chains, racks, wheels, and
dreadful engines, in the style of Piranesi.  About sunset I went and
refreshed myself with the cool air and cheerful scenery of the Fondamenti
nuovi, a vast quay or terrace of white marble, which commands the whole
series of isles, from San Michele’s to Torcello,

                “That rise and glitter o’er the ambient tide.”

Nothing can be more picturesque than the groups of towers and cupolas
which they present, mixed with flat roofs and low buildings, and now and
then a pine or cypress.  Afar off, a little woody isle, called Il
Deserto, swells from the ocean and diversifies its expanse.

When I had spent a delightful half-hour in viewing the distant isles, M.
de.  B. accompanied me to the Mendicanti, one of the four conservatorios,
which give the best musical education conceivable to near one hundred
young women.  You may imagine how admirably those of the Mendicanti in
particular are taught, since their establishment is under Bertoni’s
direction, who breathes around him the very soul of grace and harmony.
The chapel in which we sat to hear the oratorio was dark and solemn; a
screen of lofty pillars, formed of black marble and highly polished,
excluded the glow of the western sky, and reflected the lamps which burn
perpetually before the altar.  Every tribune was thronged with people,
whose profound silence showed them worthy auditors of Bertoni’s
compositions.  Here were no cackling old women, or groaning Methodists,
such as infest our English churches, and scare one’s ears with hoarse
coughs accompanied by the naso obligato.  All were still and attentive,
imbibing the plaintive notes of the voices with eagerness; and scarce a
countenance but seemed deeply affected with David’s sorrows, the subject
of the performance.  I sat retired in a solitary tribune, and felt them
as my own.  Night came on before the last chorus was sung, and I still
seem to hear its sacred melody.

_August_ 18_th_.—It rains; the air is refreshed and I have courage to
resume my pen, which the sultry weather had forced to lie dormant so
long.  I like this odd town of Venice, and find every day some new
amusement in rambling about its innumerable canals and alleys.  Sometimes
I go and pry about the great church of Saint Mark, and examine the
variety of marbles and mazes of delicate sculpture with which it is
covered.  The cupola, glittering with gold, mosaic, and paintings of half
the wonders in the Apocalypse, never fails transporting me to the period
of the Eastern empire.  I think myself in Constantinople, and expect
Michael Paleologus with all his train.  One circumstance alone prevents
my observing half the treasures of the place, and holds down my fancy,
just springing into the air: I mean the vile stench which exhales from
every recess and corner of the edifice, and which all the altars cannot
subdue.

When oppressed by this noxious atmosphere, I run up the Campanile in the
piazza, and seating myself amongst the pillars of the gallery, breathe
the fresh gales which blow from the Adriatic; survey at my leisure all
Venice beneath me, with its azure sea, white sails, and long tracts of
islands shining in the sun.  Having thus laid in a provision of wholesome
breezes, I brave the vapours of the canals, and venture into the most
curious and murky quarters of the city, in search of Turks and Infidels,
that I may ask as many questions as I please about Damascus and Suristan,
those happy countries which nature has covered with roses.

Asiatics find Venice very much to their liking, and all those I conversed
with allowed its customs and style of living had a good deal of
conformity to their own.  The eternal lounging in coffee-houses and
sipping of sorbets, agrees perfectly well with the inhabitants of the
Ottoman empire, who stalk about here in their proper dresses, and smoke
their own exotic pipes, without being stared and wondered at, as in most
other European capitals.  Some few of these Orientals are communicative
and enlightened; but, generally speaking, they know nothing beyond the
rule of three, and the commonest transactions of mercantile affairs.

The Greeks are by far a more lively generation, still retaining their
propensity to works of genius and imagination.  Metastasio has been
lately translated into their modern jargon, and some obliging papa or
other has had the patience to put the long-winded romance of Clelia into
a Grecian dress.  I saw two or three of these volumes exposed on a stall,
under the grand arcades of the public library, as I went one day to
admire the antiques in its vestibules.

Whilst I was intent upon my occupation, a little door, I never should
have suspected, flew open, and out popped Monsieur de V., from a place
where nothing, I believe, but broomsticks and certain other utensils were
ever before deposited.  This gentleman, the most active investigator of
Homer since the days of the good bishop of Thessalonica, bespatters you
with more learning in a minute than others communicate in half a year;
quotes Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, etc., with a formidable fluency;
and drove me from one end of the room to the other with all the thunder
of erudition.  Syllables fell thicker than hail, and in an instant I
found myself so weighed down and covered, that I prayed, for mercy’s
sake, to be introduced, by way of respite, to a Laplander whom he leads
about as a curiosity; a poor, harmless, good sort of a soul, calm and
indifferent, who has acquired the words of several Oriental languages to
perfection: ideas he has, in none.

We went together to view a collection of medals in one of the Gradanigo
palaces, and two or three inestimable volumes, filled with paintings that
represent the dress of the ancient Venetians; so that I had an
opportunity of observing to perfection all the Lapland nothingness of my
companion.  What a perfect void!  Cold and silent as the polar regions,
not one passion ever throbbed in his bosom; not one bright ray of fancy
ever glittered in his mind; without love or anger, pleasure or pain, his
days fleet smoothly along: all things considered, I must confess I envied
such comfortable apathy.

After having passed a peaceful hour in dreaming over the medals and
rarities, M. de V. was for conducting me to the Armenian convent, but I
begged to be excused, and went to S. Giovanni e Paolo’s, a church ever
celebrated in the annals of painting, since it contains that masterpiece
of Titian, “The Martyrdom of St. Peter.”  It being a festival, the huge
Gothic pillars were covered with red damask, and the shrines of saints
and worthies glimmered with tapers.  The dim chapels on each side the
nave received a feeble light, and discovered the tombs of ancient Doges,
and the equestrian statues of many a doughty General.  I admired them
all, but liked nothing so much as a snug bas-relief I found out in a
corner, which represents St. Mark and some other good souls a-prosing,
whilst his lion and the old serpent squabble and scratch in the
foreground of the sculpture, like cat and dog by the fireside.  After
dinner, when the shadows of domes and palaces began lengthening across
the waves, I rowed out

                   “On the clear hyaline, the glassy sea,”

to observe the last sunbeams fade on the tufted gardens of the Giudecca,
and to contemplate the distant Euganean hills, once the happiest region
of Italy; where wandering nations enjoyed the simplicity of a pastoral
life, long before the arrival of Antenor.  In those ancient times, deep
forests and extensive pastures covered the shores {170a} of the Adriatic,
and innumerable flocks hung on the brow of the mountains.  This golden
period ended upon the incursion of the Trojans and Heneti; who, led by
Antenor, drove away the unfortunate savages, and possessed themselves of
their habitations. {170b}  The form of the hillocks is varied and
picturesque, and the sun, sinking behind them, suffuses their summits
with tints of the brightest orange.  Scarce one evening have I failed to
remark the changeful scenery of the clouds, and to fill my mind with
recollections of primeval days and happier ages.  Night generally
surprises me in the midst of my reveries; I return, lulled in my gondola
by the murmur of waters, pass about an hour with M. de R., whose
imagination and sensibility almost equal your own; then, retire to sleep,
and dream of the Euganeans.



LETTER IX.


_August_ 27_th_.—I am just returned from visiting the isles of Burano,
Torcello, and Mazorbo, distant about five miles from Venice.  To these
amphibious spots the Romans, inhabitants of eastern Lombardy, fled from
the ravine of Attila; and, if we may believe Cassiodorus, there was a
time when they presented a beautiful appearance.  Beyond them, on the
coast of the Lagunes, rose the once populous city of Altina, with its six
stately gates, which Dandolo mentions. {170c} Its neighbourhood was
scattered with innumerable villas and temples, composing altogether a
prospect which Martial compares to Baiæ:

                    “Æmula Baianis Altini littora villis.”

But this agreeable scene, like so many others, is passed entirely away,
and has left nothing, except heaps of stones and misshapen fragments, to
vouch for its former magnificence.  Two of the islands, Costanziaco and
Amiano, that are imagined to have contained the bowers and gardens of the
Altinatians, have sunk beneath the waters; those which remain are
scarcely worthy to rise above their surface.

Though I was persuaded little was left to be seen above ground, I could
not deny myself the imaginary pleasure of treading a corner of the earth
once so adorned and cultivated; and of walking over the roofs, perhaps,
of concealed halls and undiscovered palaces.  M. de R., to whom I
communicated my ideas, entered at once into the scheme; hiring therefore
a _peiotte_ we took some provisions and music (to us equally necessaries
of life), and launched into the canal, between St. Michael and Murano.

The waves coursed each other with violence, and dark clouds hung over the
grand sweep of northern mountains, whilst the west smiled with azure and
bright sunshine.  Thunder rolled awfully at a distance, and those white
and greyish birds, the harbingers of storms, flitted frequently before
our bark.  For some moments we were in doubt whether to proceed; but as
we advanced by a little dome in the Isle of St. Michael, shaped like an
ancient temple, the sky cleared, and the ocean subsiding by degrees, soon
presented a tranquil expanse, across which we were smoothly wafted.  Our
instruments played several delightful airs, that called forth the
inhabitants of every island, and held them silent, as if spell-bound, on
the edge of their quays and terraces, till we were out of hearing.

Leaving Murano far behind, Venice and its world of turrets began to sink
on the horizon, and the low desert isles beyond Mazorbo to lie stretched
out before us.  Now we beheld vast wastes of {171} purple flowers, and
could distinguish the low hum of the insects which hover above them; such
was the silence of the place.  Coasting these solitary fields, we wound
amongst several serpentine canals, bordered by gardens of figs and
pomegranates, with neat Indian-looking inclosures of cane and reed: an
aromatic plant clothes the margin of the waters, which the people justly
dignify with the title of marine incense.  It proved very serviceable in
subduing a musky odour, which attacked us the moment we landed, and which
proceeds from serpents that lurk in the hedges.  These animals, say the
gondoliers, defend immense treasures which lie buried under the ruins.
Woe to those who attempt invading them, or prying too cautiously about!

Not choosing to be devoured, we left many a mount of fragments unnoticed,
and made the best of our way to a little green, free from weeds or
adders, bounded on one side by a miserable shed, decorated with the name
of the Podesta’s residence, and on the other by a circular church.  Some
remains of tolerable antique sculpture are enchased in the walls; and the
dome, supported by pillars of a smooth Grecian marble, though uncouth and
ill-proportioned, impresses a sort of veneration, and transports the
fancy to the twilight glimmering period when it was raised.

Having surveyed what little was visible, and given as much career to our
imaginations as the scene inspired, we walked over a soil composed of
crumbling bricks and cement to the cathedral; whose arches, turned on the
ancient Roman principle, convinced us that it dates as high as the sixth
or seventh century.

Nothing can be well more fantastic than the ornaments of this structure,
formed from the ruins of the Pagan temples of Altina, and incrusted with
a gilt mosaic, like that which covers our Edward the Confessor’s tomb.
The pavement, composed of various precious marbles, is richer and more
beautiful than one could have expected, in a place where every other
object savours of the grossest barbarism.  At the farther end, beyond the
altar, appears a semicircular niche, with seats like the gradines of a
diminutive amphitheatre; above rise the quaint forms of the apostles, in
red, blue, green, and black mosaic, and in the midst of the goodly group
a sort of marble chair, cool and penitential enough, where St. Lorenzo
Giustiniani sat to hold a provincial council, the Lord knows how long
ago!  The fount for holy water stands by the principal entrance, fronting
this curious recess, and seems to have belonged to some place of Gentile
worship.  The figures of horned imps cling round its sides, more
devilish, more Egyptian, than any I ever beheld.  The dragons on old
china are not more whimsical: I longed to have it filled with bats’
blood, and to have sent it by way of present to the sabbath; I can assure
you it would have done honour to their witcheries.  The sculpture is not
the most delicate, but I cannot say a great deal about it, as but little
light reaches the spot where it is fixed.  Indeed, the whole church is
far from luminous, its windows being narrow and near the roof, with
shutters composed of blocks of marble, which nothing but the last
whirlwind, one should think, could move from their hinges.

By the time we had examined every nook and corner of this singular
edifice, and caught perhaps some small portion of sanctity by sitting in
San Lorenzo’s chair, dinner was prepared in a neighbouring convent, and
the nuns, allured by the sound of our flutes and oboes, peeped out of
their cells and showed themselves by dozens at the grate.  Some few
agreeable faces and interesting eyes enlivened the dark sisterhood; all
seemed to catch a gleam of pleasure from the music; two or three of them,
probably the last immured, let fall a tear, and suffered the recollection
of the world and its profane joys to interrupt for a moment their sacred
tranquillity.

We stayed till the sun was low, and the breezes blew cool from the ocean,
on purpose that they might listen as long as possible to a harmony which
seemed to issue, as the old abbess expressed herself, from the gates of
paradise ajar.  A thousand benedictions consecrated our departure;
twilight came on just as we entered the bark and rowed out upon the
waves, agitated by a fresh gale, but fearing nothing under the protection
of St. Margherita, whose good wishes our music had secured.

In two hours we were safely landed at the Fondamenti nuovi, and went
immediately to the Mendicanti, where they were performing the oratorio of
Sisera.  The composer, a young man, had displayed great fire and
originality in this performance; and a knowledge of character seldom
found in the most celebrated masters.  The supplication of the thirsty
chieftain, and Jael’s insinuating arts and pious treachery, are admirably
expressed; but the agitation and bodily slumbers which precede his death,
are imagined in the highest strain of genius.  The terror and agony of
his dreams made me start, more than once, from my seat; and all the
horrors of his assassination seemed full before me, so fatal was the
sound of the instrument, so just the conduct of the harmony.

Too much applause cannot be given to the Marchetti, who sang the part of
Sisera, and seconded the composer’s ideas by the most feeling and
spirited execution.  There are few things I shall regret more at Venice,
than this conservatorio.  Whenever I am musically given, I fly to it, and
hear the most striking finales in Bertoni’s and Anfosse’s operas, as long
and often as I please.

The sight of the orchestra still makes me smile.  You know, I suppose, it
is entirely of the female gender, and that nothing is more common than to
see a delicate white hand journeying across an enormous double bass, or a
pair of roseate cheeks puffing, with all their efforts, at a French horn.
Some that are grown old and Amazonian, who have abandoned their fiddles
and their lovers, take vigorously to the kettledrum; and one poor limping
lady, who had been crossed in love, now makes an admirable figure on the
bassoon.

Good-night!  I am quite exhausted with composing a chorus for these same
Amazonians.  The poetry I send you, which seems to be some of the most
picturesque and nervous an Italian ever produced.  The music takes up too
much room to travel at present.  One day or other, perhaps, we may hear
it in some dark grove, when the moon is eclipsed and nature in alarm.

This is not the last letter you would receive from Venice, was I not
hurrying to Lucca, where Pacchierotti sings next week, in the opera of
Quinto Fabio, of all operas the most worthy to excuse such a musical
fanaticism.  Adieu.



LETTER X.


_September_ 4_th_.—I was sorry to leave Venice, and regretted my peaceful
excursions upon the Adriatic, when the Euganean hills were lost in a
golden haze, and the sun cast his departing gleam across the waters.  No
bright rays illuminated my departure, but the coolness and perfume of the
air made some amends for their absence.

About an hour’s rowing from the isle of Saint Giorgio in Alga, brought us
to the shores of Fusina, right opposite the opening where the Brenta
mixes with the sea.  This river flows calmly between banks of verdure,
crowned by poplars, with vines twining round every stalk, and depending
from tree to tree in beautiful festoons.  Beds of mint and flowers clothe
the brink of the stream, except where a tall growth of reeds and osiers
lift themselves to the breezes.  I heard their whispers as we glided
along; and had I been alone might have told you what they said to me; but
such aërial oracles must be approached in solitude.  The morning
continued to lower as we advanced; scarce a wind ventured to breathe; all
was still and placid as the surface of the Brenta.  No sound struck my
ears except the bargemen hallooing to open the sluices, and deepen the
water.

As yet I had not perceived an habitation; no other objects than green
inclosures and fields of Turkish corn, shaded with vines and poplars, met
my eyes wherever I turned them.

Our navigation, the tranquil streams and cultivated banks, in short the
whole landscape, had a sort of Chinese cast, which led me into Quang-Si
and Quang-Tong.  The variety of canes, reeds, and blooming rushes,
shooting from the slopes, confirmed my fancies, and when I beheld the
yellow nenupha expanding its broad leaves to the current, I thought of
the Tao-Sé, and venerated one of the chief ingredients in their beverage
of immortality.  Landing where this magic vegetation appeared most
luxuriant, I cropped the flowers; but searched in vain for the kernels,
which, according to the doctrine of the Bonzes, produce such wonderful
effects.  Though I was deceived in this pursuit, I gained, however, in
another.  The bank upon which I had sprung presented a continual walk of
level turf, surrounded by vines, concealing the trees which supported
them, and forming the most delightful bowers.  Under these garlands I
passed, and gathered the ripe clusters which dangled around, convinced
that Noah had discovered a far superior beverage to that of the Tao-Sé.
Whilst I was thus agreeably employed, it began to rain, and the earth to
exhale a fresh, reviving odour, highly grateful to one who had been so
long confined to walls and waters.  After breathing nothing but the
essence of the canals and the flavours of the Rialto, after the jingling
of bells and brawls of the gondoliers, imagine how agreeable it was to
scent the perfume of clover, to tread a springing herbage, and listen in
silence to the showers pattering amongst the leaves.  I staid so long
amidst the vines, that it grew late before we rowed by the Mira, a
village of palaces, whose courts and gardens, as magnificent as statues,
terraces, and vases can make them, compose a grand, though far from a
rural prospect.

Not being greatly delighted with such scenery, we stayed no longer than
our dinner required, and reached the Dolo an hour before sunset.  Passing
the great sluices, whose gates opened with a thundering noise, we
continued our course along the peaceful Brenta, winding its broad full
stream through impenetrable copses, surmounted by tall waving poplars.
Day was about to close when we reached Fiesso; and it being a misty
evening, I could scarcely distinguish the pompous façade of the Pisani
palace.  That where we supped looks upon a broad mass of foliage, which I
contemplated with pleasure as it sank in the dusk.

We walked a long while under a pavilion stretched before the entrance,
breathing the freshness of the wood after the shower, and hearing the
drops trickle down the awning above our heads.  The Galuzzi sang some of
her father Ferandini’s compositions, with a fire, an energy, an
expression, that one moment raised me to a pitch of heroism, and the next
dissolved me in tears.  Her cheek was flushed with inspiration, her eyes
glistened; the whole tone of her countenance was like that of a person
rapt and inspired.  I forgot both time and place whilst she was breathing
forth such celestial harmony.  The night stole imperceptibly away, and
morning dawned before I awoke from my trance.  I don’t recollect ever to
have passed an evening, which every circumstance conspired so much to
improve.  In general, my musical pleasures suffer terrible abatements
from the phlegm and stupidity of my neighbourhood, but here every one
seemed to catch the flame, and to listen with reciprocal delight.  The C—
threw quick around her the glancing fires of genius: and, what with the
song of the Galuzzi, and those intellectual meteors, I scarcely knew to
what element I was transported; and doubted for several moments whether I
had not fallen into a celestial dream.  I loathed the light of the
morning star, which summoned me to depart; and, if I may express myself
so poetically,

                “Cast many a longing, ling’ring look behind.”



LETTER XI.


_September_ 5_th_.—The glow and splendour of the rising sun, for once in
my life, drew little of my attention.  I was too deeply plunged in my
reveries, to notice the landscape which lay before me; and the walls of
Padua presented themselves some time ere I was aware.  At any other
moment, how sensibly should I have been affected with their appearance!
how many ideas of Antenor and his Trojans, would have thronged into my
memory! but now I regarded the scene with indifference, and passed many a
palace, and many a woody garden, with my eyes riveted to the ground.  The
first object that appeared, upon lifting them up, was a confused pile of
spires and cupolas, dedicated to blessed St. Anthony, who betook himself
to the conversion of fish, after the heretics would lend no ear to his
discourses.

You are too well apprised of the veneration I have always entertained for
this ingenious preacher, to doubt that I immediately repaired to his
shrine and offered up my little orisons before it.  Mine was a disturbed
spirit, and required all the balm of St. Anthony’s kindness to appease
it.  Perhaps you will say I had better gone to bed, and applied myself to
my sleepy friend, the pagan divinity.  ’Tis probable that you are in the
right; but I could not retire to rest without venting some portion of
effervescence in sighs and supplications.  The nave was filled with
decrepit women and feeble children, kneeling by baskets of vegetables and
other provisions; which, by good Anthony’s interposition, they hoped to
sell advantageously in the course of the day.  Beyond these, nearer the
choir, and in a gloomier part of the edifice, knelt a row of rueful
penitents, smiting their breasts, and lifting their eyes to heaven.
Further on, in front of the dark recess, where the sacred relics are
deposited, a few desperate, melancholy sinners lay prostrate.

To these I joined myself, and fell down on the steps before the shrine.
The sunbeams had not yet penetrated into this religious quarter; and the
only light it received proceeded from the golden lamps, which hang in
clusters round the sanctuary.  A lofty altar, decked with superstitious
prodigality, conceals the holy pile from profane glances.  Those who are
profoundly touched with its sanctity may approach, and walking round,
look through the crevices of the tomb, and rub their noses against the
identical bones of St. Anthony, which, it is observed, exude a balsamic
odour.  But supposing a traveller ever so heretical, I would advise him
by no means to neglect this pilgrimage; since every part of the recess he
visits is decorated with the most exquisite sculptures.  Sansovino and
the best artists have vied with each other in carving the alto relievos
of the arcade, which, for design and execution, would do honour to the
sculptors of antiquity.

Having observed these objects with much less exactness than they merited,
and acted perhaps too capital a part amongst the devotees, I hastened to
the inn, luckily hard by, and one of the best I am acquainted with.  Here
I soon fell asleep in defiance of sunshine.  ’Tis true my slumbers were
not a little agitated.  St. Anthony had been deaf to my prayer, and I
still found myself a frail, infatuated mortal.

At five I got up; we dined, and afterwards, scarcely knowing, nor much
caring, what became of us, we strolled to the great hall of the town; an
enormous edifice, as large as that of Westminster, but free from stalls,
or shops, or nests of litigation.  The roof, one spacious vault of brown
timber, casts a solemn gloom, which was still increased by the lateness
of the hour, and not diminished by the wan light, admitted through the
windows of pale blue glass.  The size and shape of this colossal chamber,
the coving of the roof, with beams like perches for the feathered race,
stretching across it, and, above all, the watery gleams that glanced
through the casements, possessed my fancy with ideas of Noah’s ark, and
almost persuaded me I beheld that extraordinary vessel.  The
representation one sees of it in Scheutzer’s “Physica Sacra” seems to be
formed upon this very model, and for several moments I indulged the
chimera of imagining myself confined within its precincts.  How
willingly, could I but choose my companions, would I encounter a deluge,
to float whole years instead of months upon the waves!

We remained walking to and fro in the ark, till the twilight faded into
total darkness.  It was then full time to retire, as the guardian of the
place was by no means formed to divine our diluvian ideas.



LETTER XII.


_September_ 6_th_.—At Padua, I was too near the last and one of the most
celebrated abodes of Petrarch, to make the omission of a visit excusable;
had I not been in a disposition to render such a pilgrimage peculiarly
pleasing.  I set forwards from Padua after dinner, so as to arrive some
time before sunset.  Nothing could be finer than the day; and I had every
reason to promise myself a serene and delicious hour, before the sun
might go down.  I put the poems of Petrarch into my pocket; and, as my
road lay chiefly through lanes, planted on either side with mulberries
and poplars, from which vines hung dangling in careless festoons, I found
many a bowering shade, where I sat, at intervals, to indulge my pensive
humour over some ejaculatory sonnet; as the pilgrim, on his journey to
Loretto, reposes here and there, to offer his prayers and meditations to
the Virgin.  In little more than an hour and half, I found myself in the
midst of the Euganean hills, and, after winding almost another hour
amongst them, I got, before I was well aware, into the village of Arqua.
Nothing can be more sequestered or obscure than its situation.  It had
rather a deserted appearance; several of its houses being destitute of
inhabitants, and crumbling into ruins.  Two or three of them, however,
exhibited ancient towers, richly mantled with ivy, and surrounded with
cypress, that retained the air of having once belonged to persons of
consideration.  Their present abandoned state nourished the melancholy
idea with which I entered the village.  Could one approach the last
retreat of genius, and not look for some glow of its departed splendour?

    “Dear to the pensive eye of fond regret,
    Is light still beaming from a sun that’s set.”

The residence of Petrarch at Arqua is said to have drawn thither from
Padua the society of its more enlightened citizens.  This city, whilst
Petrarch lived in its neighbourhood, was engaged in rebellion against the
Venetians; and Francis de Carrara, the head of it, went often to Arqua,
to consult Petrarch; when he found himself obliged to sue to Venice for
peace.  The poet was indeed deputed, upon this occasion, his ambassador
to the state; as being a person whose character and credit were most
likely to appease its wrath.  His success in this embassy might, perhaps,
have been some recompense for an employment he accepted with much regret,
as it forced him from his beloved retirement.  In a letter to one of his
friends, written about this period of his life, he says: “I pass the
greatest part of the year in the country, which I have always preferred
to cities: I read; I write; I think: thus, my life and my pleasures are
like those of youth.  I take pains to hide myself; but I cannot escape
visits: it is an honour which displeases and wearies me.  In my little
house on the Euganean hills, I hope to pass my few remaining days in
tranquillity, and to have always before my eyes my dead, or my absent,
friends.”  I was musing on these circumstances as I walked along the
village, till a venerable old woman, seated at her door with her distaff
in her hand, observing me, soon guessed the cause of my excursion; and
offered to guide me to Petrarch’s house.  The remainder of my way was
short, and well amused by my guide’s enthusiastic expressions of
veneration for the poet’s memory; which, she assured me, she felt but in
common with the other inhabitants of the village.  When we came to the
door of the house, we met the peasant, its present possessor.  The old
woman, recommending the stranger and his curiosity to her neighbour’s
good offices, departed.  I entered immediately, and ran over every room,
which the peasant assured me, in confirmation of what I before learnt
from better authority, were preserved, as nearly as they could be, in the
state Petrarch had left them.  The house and premises, having
unfortunately been transmitted from one enthusiast of his name to
another, no tenants have been admitted, but under the strictest
prohibition of making any change in the form of the apartments, or in the
memorial relics belonging to the place: and, to say the truth, everything
I saw in it, save a few articles of the peasant’s furniture in the
kitchen, has an authentic appearance.  Three of the rooms below stairs
are particularly shown, and they have nothing in them but what once
belonged to the poet.  In one, which I think they call his parlour, is a
very antique cupboard; where, it is supposed, he deposited some precious
part of his literary treasure.  The ceiling is painted in a grotesque
manner.  A niche in the wall contains the skeleton of his favourite cat,
with a Latin epigram beneath, of Petrarch’s composition.  It is good
enough to deserve being copied; but the lateness of the hour did not
allow me time.  A little room, beyond this, is said to have been his
study: the walls of it, from top to bottom, are scribbled over with
sonnets, and poetical eulogies on Petrarch, ancient and modern: many of
which are subscribed by persons, of distinguished rank and talents,
Italians as well as strangers.  Here, too, is the bard’s old chair, and
on it is displayed a great deal of heavy, ornamental carpentry; which
required no stretch of faith to be believed the manufacture of the
fourteenth century.  You may be sure, I placed myself in it, with much
veneration, and the most resigned assent to Mrs. Dobson’s relation: that
Petrarch, sitting in this same chair, was found dead in his library, with
one arm leaning on a book.  Who could sit in Petrarch’s chair, void of
some effect?  I rose not from it without a train of pensive sentiments
and soft impressions; which I ever love to indulge.  I was now led into a
larger room, behind that I first saw; where, it is likely enough, the
poet, according to the peasant’s information, received the visits of his
friends.  Its walls were adorned with landscapes and pastoral scenes, in
such painting as Petrarch himself might, and is supposed to have
executed.  Void of taste and elegance, either in the design or colouring,
they bear some characteristic marks of the age to which they are, with no
improbability, assigned; and, separate from the merit of exhibiting
repeatedly the portraits of Petrarch and Laura, are a valuable sketch of
the rude infancy of the art, where it rose with such hasty vigour to
perfection.  Having seen all that was left unchanged in this consecrated
mansion, I passed through a room, said to have been the bard’s bed-room,
and stepped into the garden, situated on a green slope, descending
directly from the house.  It is now rather an orchard than a garden; a
spot of small extent, and without much else to recommend it, but that it
once was the property of Petrarch.  It is not pretended to have retained
the form in which he left it.  An agreeably wild and melancholy kind of
view, which it commands over the Euganean hills, and which I beheld under
the calm glow of approaching sunset, must often, at the same moment, have
soothed the poet’s anxious feelings, and hushed his active imagination,
as it did my own, into a delicious repose.  Having lingered here till the
sun was sunk beneath the horizon, I was led a little way farther in the
village, to see Petrarch’s fountain.  Hippocrene itself could not have
been more esteemed by the poet, than this, his gift, by all the
inhabitants of Arqua.  The spring is copious, clear, and of excellent
water; I need not say with what relish I drank of it.  The last religious
act in my little pilgrimage was a visit to the church-yard; where I
strewed a few flowers, the fairest of the season, on the poet’s tomb; and
departed for Padua by the light of the moon.



LETTER XIII.


_September_ 7_th_.—Immediately after breakfast, we went to St. Justina’s,
a noble temple, designed by Palladio, and worthy of his reputation.  The
dimensions are vast, and the equal distribution of light and ornament
truly admirable.  Upon my first entrance, the long perspective of domes
above, and chequered marble below, struck me with surprise and pleasure.
I roved about the spacious aisles for several minutes, then sat down
under the grand cupola, and admired the beautiful symmetry of the
building.

Both extremities of the cross aisles are terminated by altar and tombs of
very remote antiquity, adorned with uncouth sculptures of the
Evangelists, supported by wreathed columns of alabaster, round which, to
my no small astonishment, four or five gawky fellows were waddling on
their knees, persuaded, it seems, that this strange devotion would cure
the rheumatism, or any other aches with which they were afflicted.  You
can have no conception of the ridiculous attitudes into which they threw
themselves; nor the difficulty with which they squeezed along, between
the middle column of the tomb and those which surrounded it.  No criminal
in the pillory ever exhibited a more rueful appearance, no swine ever
scrubbed itself more fervently than these infatuated lubbers.

I left them hard at work, taking more exercise than had been their lot
for many a day; and, mounting into the organ gallery, listened to
Turini’s {182} music with infinite satisfaction.  The loud harmonious
tones of the instrument filled the whole edifice; and, being repeated by
the echoes of its lofty domes and arches, produced a wonderful effect.
Turini, aware of this circumstance, adapts his compositions with great
intelligence to the place, and makes his slave, the organ, send forth the
most affecting, long-protracted sounds, which languish in the air, and
are some time a-dying.  Nothing can be more original than his style.
Deprived of sight by an unhappy accident, in the flower of his days, he
gave up his entire soul to music, and scarcely exists but through its
medium.

When we came out of St. Justina’s, the azure of the sky and the softness
of the air inclined us to think of some excursion.  Where could I wish to
go, but to the place in which I had been so delighted?  Besides, it was
proper to make the C. another visit, and proper to see the Pisani palace,
which happily I had before neglected.  All these proprieties considered,
M. de R. accompanied me to Fiesso.

The sun was just sunk when we arrived; the whole ether in a glow, and the
fragrance of the arched citron alleys delightful.  Beneath them I walked
in the cool, till the Galuzzi began once more her enchanting melody.  She
sung till the moon tempted the fascinating G—a and myself to stray on the
banks of the Brenta.  A profound calm reigned upon the woods and the
waters, and moonlight added serenity to a scene naturally peaceful.  We
listened to the faint murmurs of the leaves, and the distant rural
noises, observing the gleams that quivered on the river, and discovered a
mutual delight in contemplating the same objects.

We supped late: before the Galuzzi had repeated the airs which had most
affected me, morning began to dawn.

_September_ 8_th_.—It was evening, and I was still asleep; not in a
tranquil slumber, but at the mercy of fantastic visions.  The want of
sound repose had thrown me into a feverish impatient mood, that was alone
to be subdued by harmony.  Scarcely had I snatched some slight
refreshment, before I flew to the great organ at St. Justina’s, but
tried, this time, to compose myself in vain.  M. de R., finding my
endeavours unsuccessful, proposed, by way of diverting my attention, that
we should set out immediately for one of the Euganean hills about five or
seven miles from Padua, at the foot of which some antique baths had very
lately been discovered.  I consented, without hesitation, little
concerned whither I went, or what happened to me, provided the scene was
often shifted.  The lanes and enclosures we passed on our road to the
hills, appeared in all the gaiety that verdure, flowers, and sunshine
could give them.  But my pleasures were overcast, and I beheld every
object, however cheerful, through a dusky medium.  Deeply engaged in
conversation, distance made no impression; and we beheld the meadows,
over which the ruins are scattered, lie before us, when we still imagined
ourselves several miles away.  Had I but enjoyed my former serenity, how
agreeably would such a landscape have affected my imagination!  How
lightly should I not have run over the herbage, and viewed the irregular
shrubby hills, diversified with clumps of cypress, verdant spots, and
pastoral cottages, such as Zuccarelli loved to paint!  No scene could be
more smiling than this which here presented itself, or answer, in a
fuller degree, the ideas I had formed of Italy.

Leaving our carriage at the entrance of the mead, we traversed its
flowery surface, and shortly perceived among the grass an oblong basin,
incrusted with pure white marble.  Most of the slabs are large and
perfect, apparently brought from Greece, and still retaining their
polished smoothness.  The pipes to convey the waters are still
discernible; in short, the whole ground-plan may be easily traced.
Nothing more remains: the pillars and arcades are fallen, and one or two
pedestals alone vouch for their former existence.  Near the principal
bath, we remarked the platforms of several circular apartments, paved
with mosaic, in a neat simple taste, far from inelegant.  Weeds have not
yet sprung up amongst the crevices; and the universal freshness of the
ruin shows that it has not been long exposed.

Theodoric is the prince to whom these structures are attributed; and
Cassiodorus, the prime chronicler of the country, is quoted to maintain
the supposition.  My spirit was too much engaged to make any learned
parade, or to dispute upon a subject, which I abandon, with all its
glories, to calmer and less impatient minds.

Having taken a cursory view of the ruins in the mead, we ascended the
hill which borders upon it, and surveyed a prospect of the same nature,
though in a more lovely and expanded style, than that which I beheld from
Mosolente.  Padua crowns the landscape, with its towers and cupolas
rising from a continued grove; and, from the drawings I have seen, I
should conjecture that Damascus presents somewhat of a similar
appearance.

Taking our eyes off this extensive prospect, we turned them to the
fragments beneath our feet.  The walls appear plainly composed of the
_opus reticulatum_ so universal in the environs of Naples.  A sort of
terrace, with the bases of columns circling the mount, leads me to
imagine here were formerly arcades and porticos, for enjoying the view;
for on the summit I could trace no vestiges of any considerable
structure, and am therefore inclined to conclude, that nothing more than
a colonnade surrounded the hill, leading perhaps to some slight fane, or
pavilion, for the recreation of the bathers below.

A profusion of aromatic flowers covered the slopes, and exhaled
additional perfumes, as the sun declined, and the still hour approached,
which was wont to spread over my mind a divine composure, and to restore
the tranquillity I might have lost in the day.  But now it diffused in
vain its reviving coolness, and I remained, if possible, more sad and
restless than before.

To produce such a revolution, divine how I must have been fascinated! and
be not surprised at my repeating all the way that pathetic sonnet of
Petrarch:

    “O giorno, o ora, o ultimo momento,
    O stelle congiurate a ’mpoverirme!
    O fido sguardo, or che volei tu dirme,
    Partend’ io, per non esser mai contento?”

_September_ 9_th_.—You may imagine how I felt when the hour of leaving
Padua drew near.  It happened to be a high festival, and mass celebrated
at the grand church of St. Anthony, with more than ordinary splendour.
The music drawing us thither, we found every chapel twinkling with
lights, and the choir filled with a vapour of incense.  Through its
medium several cloth of gold figures discovered themselves, ministering
before the altar, and acting their parts with a sacred pomposity,
wonderfully imposing.  I attended very little to their functions, but the
plaintive tones of the voices and instruments, so consonant with my own
feelings, melted me into tears, and gave me, no doubt, the exterior of
exalted piety.  Guadazni sang amongst the other musicians, but seemed to
be sinking apace into devotion and obscurity.  The ceremony ended, I took
leave of M. de R. with sincere regret, and was driven away to Vicenza.
Of my journey I scarce know any more than that the evening was cold and
rainy, that I shivered and was miserable.

_September_ 10_th_.—The morning being overcast, I went, full of the
spirit of Æschylus, to the Olympic Theatre, and vented my evil temper in
reciting some of the most tremendous verses of his furies.  The august
front of the scene, and its three grand streets of fanes and palaces,
inspired me with the loftiest sentiments of the Grecian drama; but the
dubious light admitted through windows, scarce visible between the rows
of statues which crown the entablature, sunk me into fits of gloom and
sadness.  I mused a long while in the darkest and most retired recess of
the edifice, fancying I had penetrated into a real and perfect monument
of antiquity, which till this moment had remained undiscovered.  It is
impossible to conceive a structure more truly classical, or to point out
a single ornament which has not the best antique authority.  I am not in
the least surprised that the citizens of Vicenza enthusiastically gave in
to Palladio’s plan, and sacrificed large sums to erect so beautiful a
model.  When finished, they procured, at a vast expense, the
representation of a Grecian tragedy, with its chorus and majestic
decorations.  You can enter into the rapture of an artist, who sees his
fondest vision realized; and can easily conceive how it was, that
Palladio esteemed this compliment the most flattering reward.  After I
had given scope to the fancies which the scene suggested, we set out for
Verona.

The situation is striking and picturesque.  A long line of battlement
walls, flanked by venerable towers, mounts the hill in a grand irregular
sweep, and incloses many a woody garden and grove of slender cypress.
Beyond rises an awful assembly of mountains; opposite to which a fertile
plain presents itself, decked with all the variety of meads and thickets,
olive-grounds and vineyards.

Amongst these our road kept winding till we entered the city gate, and
passed (the post knows how many streets and alleys in the way!) to the
inn, a lofty, handsome-looking building; but so full that we were obliged
to take up with an apartment on its very summit, open to all the winds,
like the magic chamber Apuleius mentions, and commanding the roofs of
half Verona.  Here and there a pine shot up amongst them, and the shady
hills, terminating the perspective with their walls and turrets, formed a
romantic scene.

Placing our table in a balcony, to enjoy the prospect with greater
freedom, we feasted upon fish from the Lago di Garda, and the delicious
fruits of the country,—grapes worthy of Canaan, and peaches such as Eden
itself might have gloried in producing.  Thus did I remain, solacing
myself, breathing the cool air, and remarking the evening tints of the
mountains.  Neither the paintings of Count this, nor the antiquities of
the Marquis t’other, could tempt me from my aërial situation; I refused
hunting out the famous Paolos scattered over the town, and sat like the
owl in the Georgics,

                 “Solis et occasom servans de culmine summo.”

Twilight drawing on, I left my haunt, and stealing downstairs, inquired
for a guide to conduct me to the amphitheatre, perhaps the most entire
monument of Roman days.  The people of the house, instead of bringing me
a quiet peasant, officiously delivered me up to a professed antiquary,
one of those diligent plausible young men, to whom, God help me! I have
so capital an aversion.  This sweet spark displayed all his little
erudition, and flourished away upon cloacas and vomitoriums with eternal
fluency.  He was very profound in the doctrine of conduits, and knew to
admiration how the filthiness of all the amphitheatre was disposed of;
but perceiving my inattention, and having just grace enough to remark
that I chose one side of the street when he preferred the other, and
sometimes trotted through despair in the kennel, he made me a pretty bow,
I threw him half-a-crown, and seeing the ruins before me, traversed a
gloomy arcade and emerged alone into the arena.  A smooth turf covers its
surface, from which a spacious row of gradines rises to a majestic
elevation.  Four arches, with their simple Doric ornament, alone remain
of the grand circle which once lifted itself above the highest seats of
the amphitheatre; and, had it not been for Gothic violence, this part of
the structure would have equally resisted the ravages of time.  Nothing
can be more exact than the preservation of the gradines; not a block has
sunk from its place, and whatever trifling injuries they may have
received have been carefully repaired.  The two chief entrances are
rebuilt with solidity and closed by portals, no passage being permitted
through the theatre except at public shows and representations, sometimes
still given in the arena.

When I paced slowly across it, silence reigned undisturbed amongst the
awful ruins, and nothing moved, save the weeds and grasses which skirt
the walls and tremble with the faintest breeze.

              [Picture: Verona and Venice—the Ducal Palace]

I liked the idea of being thus shut in on every side by endless gradines,
abandoned to a stillness and solitude I was so peculiarly disposed to
taste.  Throwing myself upon the grass in the middle of the arena, I
enjoyed the freedom of my situation; and pursued the last tracks of
light, as they faded behind the solitary arches, which rose above the
rest.  Red and fatal were the tints of the western sky; the wind blew
chill and hollow, and something more than common seemed to issue from the
withering herbage on the walls.  I started up, fled through a dark
arcade, where water falls drop by drop, and arrived, panting, in the
great square before the ruins.  Directing my steps across it, I reached
an ancient castle, once inhabited by the Scaligeri, sovereigns of Verona.
Hard by appeared the ruins of a triumphal arch, which most antiquarians
ascribe to Vitruvius, enriched with delicate scrolls and flowery
ornaments.  I could have passed half-an-hour very agreeably in copying
these elegant sculptures; but night covering them with her shades, I
returned home to the Corso; where the outlines of several palaces,
designed by Michel San Michele, attracted my attention.  But it was too
dusky to examine their details.

_September_ 11_th_.—Traversing once more the grand piazza, and casting a
last glance upon the amphitheatre, we passed under a lofty arch which
terminates the perspective, and left Verona by a wide, irregular,
picturesque street, commanding, whenever you look back, a striking scene
of towers, cypress, and mountains.

The country, between this beautiful town and Mantua, presents one
continued grove of dwarfish mulberries, among which start up innumerable
barren hills.  Now and then a knot of poplars diversify their craggy
summits, and sometimes a miserable shed.  Mantua itself rises out of a
morass formed by the Mincio, whose course, in most places, is so choked
up with reeds as to be scarcely discernible.  It requires a creative
imagination to discover any charms in such a prospect, and a strong
prepossession not to be disgusted with the scene where Virgil was born.
For my own part, I approached this neighbourhood with proper deference,
and began to feel the God, but finding no tufted tree on which I could
suspend my lyre, or verdant bank which invited to repose, I abandoned
poetry and entered the city in despair.

The beating of drums, and sight of German whiskers, finished what
croaking frogs and stagnant ditches had begun.  Every classic idea being
scared by such sounds and such objects, I dined in dudgeon, and refused
stirring out till late in the evening.

A few paces from the town stand the remains of the palace where the
Gonzagas formerly resided.  This I could not resist looking at, and was
amply rewarded.  Several of the apartments, adorned by the bold pencil of
Julio Romano, merit the most exact attention; and the grotesques, with
which the stucco ceilings are covered, equal the celebrated loggios of
the Vatican.  I don’t recollect ever having seen these elegant designs
engraven, and believe it would be perfectly worth the pains of some
capital artist to copy them.  Being in fresco upon damp neglected walls,
each year diminishes their number, and every winter moulders some
beautiful figure away.

The subjects, mostly from antique fables, are treated with all the purity
and gracefulness of Raphael.  Amongst others the story of Polypheme is
very conspicuous.  Acis appears, reclined with his beloved Galatea, on
the shore of the ocean, whilst their gigantic enemy, seated above on the
brow of Ætna, seems by the paleness and horrors of his countenance to
meditate some terrible revenge.

When it was too late to examine the paintings any longer, I walked into a
sort of court, or rather garden, which had been decorated with fountains
and antique statues.  Their fragments still remain amongst weeds and beds
of flowers, for every corner of the place is smothered with vegetation.
Here nettles grow thick and rampant: there, tuberoses and jessamine cling
around mounds of ruins, which during the elegant reign of the Gonzagas
led to grottos and subterranean apartments, concealed from vulgar eyes,
and sacred to the most refined enjoyments.  I gathered a tuberose that
sprang from a shell of white marble, once trickling with water, now half
filled with mould, and carrying it home, shut myself up for the rest of
the night, inhaled its perfume, and fell a-dreaming.

_September_ 12_th_.—A shower having fallen, the air was refreshed, and
the drops still glittered upon the vines, through which our road
conducted us.  Three or four miles from Mantua the scene changed to
extensive grounds of rice, and meads of the tenderest verdure watered by
springs, whose frequent meanders gave to the whole prospect the
appearance of a vast green carpet shot with silver.  Further on we
crossed the Po, and passing Guastalla, entered a woody country full of
inclosures and villages; herds feeding in the meadows, and poultry
parading before every wicket.

The peasants were busied in winnowing their corn; or, mounted upon the
elms and poplars, gathering the rich clusters from the vines that hang
streaming in braids from one branch to another.  I was surprised to find
myself already in the midst of the vintage, and to see every road crowded
with carts and baskets bringing it along; you cannot imagine a pleasanter
scene.

Round Reggio it grew still more lively, and on the other side of that
agreeable little city, I remarked many a cottage that Tityrus might have
inhabited, with its garden and willow hedge in flower, swarming with
bees.  Our road, the smoothest conceivable, led us, perhaps too rapidly,
by so cheerful a landscape.  I caught glimpses of fields and copses as we
fled along, that could have afforded me amusement for hours, and orchards
on gentle acclivities, beneath which I could have walked till evening.
The trees literally bent under their loads of fruit, and innumerable
ruddy apples lay scattered upon the ground—

              “Strata jacent passim sus quæque sub arbore poma.”

Beyond these rich masses of foliage, to which the sun lent additional
splendour, at the utmost extremity of the pastures, rose the irregular
ridge of the Apennines, whose deep blue presented a striking contrast to
the glowing colours of the foreground.  I fixed my eyes on the chain of
distant mountains, and indulged, as usual, my conjectures of what was
going forward on their summits; of those who tended goats on the edge of
the precipice; traversed, at this moment, the dark thickets of pines, and
passed their lives in yonder sheds, contented and unknown.  Such were the
dreams that filled my fancy, and kept it incessantly employed till it was
dusk, and the moon began to show herself; the same moon which, but a few
days ago, had seen me so happy at Fiesso.  Her soft light reposed upon
the meads, that had been newly mown, and the shadows of tall poplars were
cast aslant them.  I left my carriage, and running into the dim haze,
abandoned myself to the recollection it inspired.  During an hour, I kept
continually flying forwards; bounding from enclosure to enclosure like a
hunted antelope, and forgetting where I was or whither I was going.  One
sole idea filled my mind, and led me on with such heedless rapidity, that
I stumbled over stones and bushes, and entangled myself on every wreath
of vines which opposed my progress.  At length, having wandered where
chance or the wildness of my fancy led, till the lateness of the evening
alarmed me, I regained the chaise as fast as I could, and arrived between
ten and eleven at the place of my destination.

_September_ 13_th_.—Having but a moment or two at liberty, I hurried
early in the morning to the palace, and entered an elegant Ionic court,
with arcades of the whitest stone, through which I caught peeps of a
clear blue sky and groves of cypresses.  Some few good paintings still
adorn the apartments, but the best part of the collection has been
disposed of, for a hundred thousand sequins, amongst which was that
inestimable picture, the Notte of Corregio.  An excellent copy remained
and convinced me the original was not undeservedly celebrated.  None but
the pencil of Corregio ever designed such graceful angels, nor imagined
such a pearly dawn to cast around them.  Ten thousand times, I dare say,
has the subject of the Nativity been treated, and as many painters have
failed in rendering it so pleasing.  The break of day, the first smiles
of the celestial infant, and the truth, the simplicity of every
countenance, cannot be too warmly admired.  In the other rooms, no
picture gave me more pleasure than Jacob’s Vision by Domenico Feti.  I
gazed several minutes at the grand confusion of clouds and seraphim
descending around the patriarch, and wished for a similar dream.

Having spent the little time I had remaining in contemplating this
object, I hastened from the palace and left Modena.

                            [Picture: Bologna]

We traversed a champagne country in our way to Bologna, whose richness
and fertility increased in proportion as we drew near that celebrated
mart of lap-dogs and sausages.  A chain of hills commands the city,
variegated with green inclosures and villas innumerable, almost every one
of which has its grove of chestnuts and cypresses.  On the highest
acclivity of this range appears the magnificent convent of Madonna del
Monte, embosomed in wood, and joined to the town by a corridor a league
in length.  This vast portico, ascending the steeps and winding amongst
the thickets, sometimes concealed and sometimes visible, produces an
effect wonderfully grand and singular.  I longed to have mounted the
height by so extraordinary a passage; and hope on some future day to be
better acquainted with Saint Maria del Monte.

At present I thought of little else, to say truth, but what I had seen at
Fiesso; and what I was to hear at Lucca.  The anxiety inspired by the
one, and impatience by the other, rendered me shamefully insensible to
the merits of Bologna (where I passed near two hours), and of which I can
add nothing but that it is very much out of humour, an earthquake and
Cardinal Buoncompagni having disarranged both land and people.  For
half-a-year the ground continued trembling; and for these last months,
the legate and senators have grumbled and scratched incessantly; so that,
between natural and political commotions, the Bolognese must have passed
an agreeable summer.

Such a report of the situation of things, you may suppose, was not likely
to retard my journey.  I put off delivering my letters to another
opportunity; ran up a tall slender tower as high as the Campanile di San
Marco, by way of exercise; and proceeded immediately after dinner towards
the mountains.  We were soon in the midst of crags and stony channels,
that stream with ten thousand rills in the winter season, but during the
summer months reflect every sunbeam, and harbour half the scorpions in
the country.

For many a toilsome league our prospect consisted of nothing but dreary
hillocks and intervening wastes, more barren and mournful than those to
which Mary Magdalene retired.  Sometimes a crucifix or chapel peeped out
of the parched fern and grasses, with which these desolate fields are
clothed; and now and then we met a goggle-eyed pilgrim trudging along,
and staring about him as if he waited only for night and opportunity to
have additional reasons for hurrying to Jerusalem.

During three or four hours that we continued ascending, the scene
increased in sterility and desolation; but, at the end of our second
post, the landscape began to alter for the better: little green valleys
at the base of tremendous steeps, discovered themselves, scattered over
with oaks, and freshened with running waters, which the nakedness of the
impending rocks set off to advantage.  The sides of the cliffs in general
consist of rude misshapen masses; but their summits are smooth and
verdant, and continually browsed by herds of white goats, which were
gambolling on the edge of the precipices as we passed beneath.

I joined one of these frisking assemblies, whose shadows were stretched
by the setting sun along the level herbage.  There I sat a few minutes
whilst they shook their beards at me, and tried to scare me with all
their horns; but I was not to be frightened, and would offer up my
adorations to departing day, in spite of their caperings.  Being tired
with skipping and butting at me in vain, the whole herd trotted away, and
I after them.  They led me a dance from crag to crag and from thicket to
thicket.

It was growing dusky apace, and wreaths of smoke began to ascend from the
mysterious depths of the valleys.  I was ignorant what monster inhabited
such retirements, so gave over my pursuit, lest some Polypheme or other
might make me repent it.  I looked around, the carriage was out of sight;
but hearing the neighing of horses at a distance, I soon came up with
them, and mounted another rapid ascent, whence an extensive tract of
cliff and forest land was discernible.

The rocks here formed a spacious terrace; along which I continued
surveying the distant groves, and marking the solemn approach of night.
The sky was hung with storms, and a pale moon seemed to advance with
difficulty amongst broken and tempestuous clouds.  It was an hour to reap
plants with brazen sickles, and to meditate upon revenge.

A chill wind blew from the highest peak of the Apennines, inspiring evil,
and making a dismal rustle amongst the woods of chestnut that hung on the
mountain’s side, through which we were forced to pass.  I never heard
such fatal murmurs; nor felt myself so gloomily.  I walked out of the
sound of the carriage, where the glimmering moonlight prevailed, and
began interpreting the language of the leaves, not greatly to my own
advantage or that of any being in the universe.  I was no prophet of
good, but full of melancholy bodings, and something that bordered upon
despair.  Had I but commanded an oracle, as ancient visionaries were
wont, I should have thrown whole nations into dismay.

How long I continued in this strange temper I cannot pretend to say, but
believe it was midnight before we emerged from the oracular forest, and
saw faintly before us the huts of Lognone, where we were to sleep.  This
blessed hamlet is suspended on the brow of a bleak mountain, and every
gust that stirs shakes the whole village to its foundations.  At our
approach two hags stalked forth with lanterns and invited us with a grin,
which I shall always remember, to a dish of mustard and crow’s gizzards,
a dish I was more than half afraid of tasting, lest it should change me
to some bird of darkness, condemned to mope eternally on the black
rafters of the cottage.

After repeated supplications we procured a few eggs, and some faggots to
make a fire.  Its blaze gave me courage to hear the hollow blasts that
whistled in the crevices; and pitching my bed in a warm corner, I soon
fell asleep, and forgot all my cares and inquietudes.

_September_ 14_th_.—The sun had not been long above the horizon, before
we set forward upon a craggy pavement hewn out of the rough bosom of the
cliffs and precipices.  Scarce a tree was visible, and the few that
presented themselves began already to shed their leaves.  The raw nipping
air of this desert with difficulty spares a blade of vegetation; and in
the whole range of these extensive eminences I could not discover a
single corn-field or pasture.  Inhabitants, you may guess, there were
none.  I would defy even a Scotch highlander to find means of subsistence
in so rude a soil.

Towards midday, we had surmounted the dreariest part of our journey, and
began to perceive a milder landscape.  The climate improved as well as
the prospect, and after a continual descent of several hours, we saw
groves and villages in the dips of the hills, and met a string of mules
and horses laden with fruit.  I purchased some figs and peaches from this
little caravan, and spreading my repast upon a bank, baked in the
sunshine, and gathered large spikes of lavender in full bloom.

Continuing our route, we bid adieu to the realms of poverty and
barrenness, and entered a cultivated vale sheltered by woody acclivities.
Among these we wound along, the peasants singing upon the hill, and
driving their cattle to springs by the road’s side; near one of which we
dined in a patriarchal manner, and afterwards pursued our course through
a grove of taper cypresses, waving with the cool gales of the evening.
The heights were suffused with a ruddy glow, proceeding from the light
pink clouds which floated on the horizon.  No others were to be seen.
All nature seemed in a happy tranquil state; the herds penned in their
folds, and every rustic going to repose.  I shared the general calm for
the first time this many a tedious hour; and traversed the dales in
peace, abandoned to flattering hopes and gay illusions.  The full moon
shone propitiously upon me as I ascended a hill, and discovered Florence
at a distance, surrounded with gardens and terraces, rising one above
another.  The serene moonlight on the pale grey tints of the olive, gave
an Elysian, visionary appearance to the landscape.  I never beheld so
mild a sky, nor such soft gleams: the mountains were veiled in azure
mists, which concealed their rugged summits; and the plains in vapours,
that smoothed their irregularities, and diffused a faint aërial hue, to
which no description can render justice.  I could have contemplated such
scenery for hours, and was sorry when I found myself shut up from it by
the gates of Florence.  We passed several lofty palaces of the true
Tuscan order, with rustic arcades and stout columns, whose solidity and
magnificence were not diminished by the shades of midnight.  Whilst these
grand masses lay dark and solemn, the smooth flagstone, with which every
street is paved, received a chequered gleam, and the Arno, the brightest
radiance.  Though tired with my jumble over the Apennines, I could not
resist the temptation of walking upon the banks of so celebrated a river,
and crossing its bridges, which still echoed with music and conversation.
Having gratified the first impulse of curiosity, I returned to Vaninis,
and slept as well as my impatience would allow, till it was time next
morning (September 15th), to visit the gallery, and worship the Venus de
Medicis.  I felt, upon entering this world of taste and elegance, as if I
could have taken up my abode in it for ever; but confused with the
multitude of objects, I knew not where to turn myself, and ran childishly
by the ample ranks of sculptures, like a butterfly in a parterre, that
skims before it fixes, over ten thousand flowers.

Having taken my course down one side of the gallery, I turned the angle
and discovered another long perspective, equally stored with prodigies of
bronze and marble; paintings on the walls, on the ceilings, in short,
everywhere.  A minute brought me, vast as it was, to the extremity of
this range; then, flying down a third, adorned in the same delightful
manner, I paused under the bust of Jupiter Olympius; and began to reflect
a little more maturely upon the company in which I found myself.
Opposite, appeared the majestic features of Minerva, breathing divinity;
and Cybele, the mother of the gods.

I bowed low to these awful powers, but seeing a black figure just by,
whose attitude seemed to announce the deity of sleep, I made immediately
up to it.  You know my fondness for this drowsy personage, and that it is
not the first time I have quitted the most splendid society for him.  I
found him, at present, of touchstone, with the countenance of a towardly
brat, sleeping ill through indigestion.  The artist had not conceived
such high ideas of the god as live in my bosom, or else he never would
have represented him with so little grace or dignity.

Displeased at finding my favourite subject profaned, I perceived the
lively transports of enthusiasm began in some degree to be dissipated,
and I felt myself calm enough to follow the herd of guides and spectators
from chamber to chamber and cabinet to cabinet, without falling into
errors of rapture and inspiration.  We were led slowly and moderately
through the large rooms, containing the portraits of painters, good, bad,
and indifferent, from Raffaelle to Liotard; then into a museum of
bronzes, which would afford both amusement and instruction for years.

To one who can never behold an ancient lamp or tripod without the
associations of those who sacrificed on the one and meditated by the
other, imagine what pleasures such a repository must have communicated.

When I had alarmed, not satisfied, my curiosity by rapidly running over
this multitude of candelabra, urns, and sacred utensils, we entered a
small luminous apartment, surrounded with cases richly decorated, and
filled with the most exquisite models of workmanship in bronze and
various metals, classed in exact order.  Here are crowds of diminutive
deities and tutelary lars, to whom the superstition of former days
attributed those midnight murmurs which were believed to presage the
misfortunes of a family.  Amongst these now neglected images are
preserved a vast number of talismans, cabalistic amulets, and other
grotesque relics of ancient credulity.

In the centre of the room, I remarked a table, beautifully formed of
polished gems, and, hard by it, the statue of a genius with his familiar
serpent, and all his attributes; the guardian of the treasured
antiquities.  From this chamber we were conducted into another, which
opens to that part of the gallery where the busts of Adrian and Antinous
are placed.  Two pilasters, delicately carved in trophies and clusters of
ancient armour, stand on each side of the entrance; within are several
perfumed cabinets of miniatures, and a single column of Oriental
alabaster about ten feet in height,

                  “Lucido e terso, e bianco, più che latte.”

I put my guide’s patience to the proof, by remaining much longer than any
one else ever did, in admiring the pillar, and rummaging the drawers of
the cabinets.  At last, the musk with which they are impregnated obliged
me to desist, and I moved on to a suite of saloons, with low arched
roofs, glittering with arabesque, in azure and gold.  Several medallions
appear amongst the wreaths of foliage, tolerably well painted, with
representations of splendid feasts and tournaments for which Florence was
once so famous.

A vast collection of small pictures, most of them Flemish, covers the
walls of these apartments.  But nothing struck me more than a Medusa’s
head by that surprising genius Leonardo da Vinci.  It appears just
severed from the body, and cast on the damp pavement of a cavern: a
deadly paleness covers the countenance, and the mouth exhales a
pestilential vapour: the snakes, which fill almost the whole picture,
beginning to untwist their folds; one or two seemed already crept away,
and crawling up the rock in company with toads and other venomous
reptiles.

The colouring of these disgustful objects is faithful to a great degree;
the effect of light, prodigious; the whole so masterly that I could not
help entering into this description; though I fear to little purpose, as
words at best convey but a weak idea of objects addressed to the sight
alone.

Here are a great many Polemburgs: one in particular, the strangest I ever
beheld.  Instead of those soft scenes of woods and waterfalls he is in
general so fond of representing, he has chosen for his subject Virgil
ushering Dante into the regions of eternal punishment, amidst the ruins
of flaming edifices that glare across the infernal waters.  These
mournful towers harbour innumerable shapes, all busy in preying upon the
damned.  One capital devil, in the form of an enormous lobster, seems
very strenuously employed in mumbling a miserable mortal, who sprawls,
though in vain, to escape from his claws.  This performance, whimsical as
it is, retains all that softness of tint and delicacy of pencil for which
Polemburg is so renowned.

Had not the subject so palpably contradicted the execution as to become
remarkable, I should have passed it over, like a thousand more, and
brought you immediately to the Tribune.  I dare say our sensations were
similar on entering this apartment.  Need I say I was enchanted the
moment I set my feet within it, and saw full before me the Venus de
Medicis?  The warm ivory hue of the original marble is a beauty no copy
has ever imitated, and the softness of the limbs exceeded the liveliest
idea I had formed to myself of their perfection.

Their symmetry every artist is acquainted with; but do you recollect a
faint ruddy cast in the hair, which admirably relieves the whiteness of
the forehead?  This circumstance, though perhaps accidental, struck me as
peculiarly charming; it increased the illusion, and helped me to imagine
I beheld a breathing divinity.

When I had taken my eyes reluctantly from this beautiful object, I cast
them upon a Morpheus of white marble, which lies slumbering at the feet
of the goddess in the form of a graceful child.  A dormant lion serves
him for a pillow: two ample wings, carved with the utmost delicacy, are
gathered under him; two others, budding from his temples, half concealed
by a flow of lovely ringlets.  His languid hands scarce hold a bunch of
poppies: near him creeps a lizard, just yielding to his influence.
Nothing can be more just than the expression of sleep in the countenance
of the little divinity.  His lion too seems perfectly lulled, and rests
his muzzle upon his fore-paws as quiet as a domestic mastiff.  I
contemplated the god with infinite satisfaction, till I felt an agreeable
sleepiness steal over my senses, and should have liked very well to doze
away a few hours by his side.  My ill-humour at seeing this deity so
grossly sculptured in the gallery, was dissipated by the gracefulness of
his appearance in the Tribune.  I was now contented, for the artist, (to
whom the Lord give a fair seat in paradise!) had realized my ideas; and,
if I may venture my opinion, sculpture never arrived to higher
perfection, or, at the same time, kept more justly within its province.
Sleeping figures with me always produce the finest illusion.  I easily
persuade myself that I behold the very personage, cast into the lethargic
state which is meant to be represented, and I can gaze whole hours upon
them with complacency.  But when I see an archer in the very act of
discharging his arrow, a dancer with one foot in the air, or a gladiator
extending his fist to all eternity, I grow tired, and ask, When will they
perform what they are about?  When will the bow twang? the foot come to
the ground? or the fist meet its adversary?  Such wearisome attitudes I
can view with admiration, but never with pleasure.  The wrestlers, for
example, in the same apartment, filled me with disgust: I cried out, For
heaven’s sake! give the throw, and have done.  In taking my turn round
the enchanted circle, I discovered still, another Morpheus; stretched
carelessly on a mantle, with poppies in his hands; but no wings grow from
his temples, nor lion supports his head.  A moth just issuing from his
chrysalis is the only being which seems to have felt his soporific
influence; whereas the other god I have mentioned may vaunt the glory of
subduing the most formidable of animals.

The morning was gone before I could snatch myself from the Tribune.  In
my way home, I looked into the cathedral, an enormous fabric, inlaid with
the richest marbles, and covered with stars and chequered work, like an
old-fashioned cabinet.  The architect seems to have turned his building
inside out; nothing in art being more ornamented than the exterior, and
few churches so simple within.  The nave is vast and solemn, the dome
amazingly spacious, with the high altar in its centre, inclosed by a
circular arcade near two hundred feet in diameter.  There is something
imposing in this decoration, as it suggests the idea of a sanctuary, into
which none but the holy ought to penetrate.  However profane I might feel
myself, I took the liberty of entering, and sat myself down in a niche.
Not a ray of light reaches this sacred inclosure, but through the medium
of narrow windows, high in the dome and richly painted.  A sort of yellow
tint predominates, which gives additional solemnity to the altar, and
paleness to the votary before it.  I was sensible of the effect, and
obtained at least the colour of sanctity.

Having remained some time in this pious hue, I returned home and feasted
upon grapes and ortolans with great edification; then walked to one of
the bridges across the Arno, and surveyed the hills at a distance,
purpled by the declining sun.  Its mild beams tempted me to the garden of
Boboli, which lies behind the Palazzo Pitti, stretched out on the side of
a mountain.  I ascended terrace after terrace, robed by a thick underwood
of hay and myrtle, above which rise several nodding towers, and a long
sweep of venerable wall, almost entirely concealed by ivy.  You would
have been enraptured with the broad masses of shade and dusky alleys that
opened as I advanced, with white statues of fauns and sylvans glimmering
amongst them; some of which pour water into sarcophagi of the purest
marble, covered with antique relievos.  The capitals of columns and
ancient friezes are scattered about as seats.

On these I reposed myself, and looked up to the cypress groves spiring
above the thickets; then, plunging into their retirements, I followed a
winding path, which led me by a series of steep ascents to a green
platform overlooking the whole extent of wood, with Florence deep
beneath, and the tops of the hills which encircle it, jagged with pines;
here and there a convent, or villa, whitening in the sun.  This scene
extends as far as the eye can reach.

Still ascending I attained the brow of the mountain, and had nothing but
the fortress of Belvedere, and two or three open porticos above me.  On
this elevated situation, I found several walks of trellis-work, clothed
with luxuriant vines, that produce to my certain knowledge the most
delicious clusters.  A colossal statue of Ceres, her hands extended in
the act of scattering fertility over the prospect, crowns the summit,
where I lingered to mark the landscape fade, and the bright skirts of the
western sun die gradually away.

Then descending alley after alley, and bank after bank, I came to the
orangery in front of the palace, disposed in a grand amphitheatre, with
marble niches relieved by dark foliage, out of which spring tall aërial
cypresses.  This spot brought the scenery of an antique Roman garden full
into my mind.  I expected every instant to be called to the table of
Lucullus hard by, in one of the porticoes, and to stretch myself on his
purple triclinias; but waiting in vain for a summons till the approach of
night, I returned delighted with a ramble that had led me so far into
antiquity.

_Friday_, _September_ 16_th_.—My impatience to hear Pacchierotti called
me up with the sun.  I blessed a day which was to give me the greatest of
musical pleasures, and travelled gaily towards Lucca, along a fertile
plain, bounded by rocky hills, and scattered over with towns and
villages.  We passed Pistoia in haste, and about three in the afternoon
entered the Lucchese territory, by a clean, paved road, which runs
through some of the pleasantest copses imaginable, bordered with a
variety of heaths and broom in blossom.  Sometimes it conducted us down
slopes, overgrown with shrubby chestnuts and arbor vitæ; sometimes
between groves of cypresses and pines laden with cones: a red soil
peeping forth from the vegetation adds to the richness of the landscape,
which swells all the way into gentle acclivities: and at about seven or
eight miles from the city spreads into mountains, green to their very
summits, and diversified with gardens and palaces.  A more pleasing
scenery can with difficulty be imagined: I was quite charmed with
beholding it, as I knew very well that the opera would keep me a long
while chained down in its neighbourhood.

Happy for me that the environs of Lucca were so beautiful; since I defy
almost any city to contain more ugliness within its walls.  Narrow
streets and dismal alleys; wide gutters and cracked pavements; everybody
in black, like mourners for the gloom of their habitations, which,
however, are large and lofty enough of conscience; but having all grated
windows, they convey none but dark and dungeon-like ideas.  My spirits
fell many degrees upon entering this sable capital; and when I found
Friday was meagre day, in every sense of the word, with its inhabitants,
and no opera to be performed, I grew terribly out of humour, and shut
myself up in a chamber of the inn, which, to complete my misfortune, was
crowded with human lumber.  Instead of a delightful symphony, I heard
nothing for some time but the clatter of plates and the swearing of
waiters.

Amongst the number of my tormentors was a whole Genoese family of
distinction; very fat and sleek, and terribly addicted to the violin.
Hearing of my fondness for music, they speedily got together a few
scrapers, and began such an academia as drove me to one end of the room,
whilst they possessed the other.  The hopes and heir of the family—a
coarse chubby dolt of about eighteen—played out of all time, and during
the interval of repose he gave his elbow, burst out into a torrent of
commonplace, which completed, you may imagine, my felicity.

Pacchierotti, whom they all worshipped in their heavy way, sat silent the
while in a corner; the second soprano warbled, not absolutely ill, at the
harpsichord; whilst the old lady, young lady, and attendant females, kept
ogling him with great perseverance.  Those who could not get in, squinted
through the crevices of the door.  Abbés and greyhounds were fidgeting
continually without.  In short, I was so worried that, pleading headaches
and lassitudes, I escaped about ten o’clock, and shook myself when I got
safe to my apartment, like a spaniel just fresh from a dripping copse.



LETTER XIV.


                                                LUCCA, _September_ 25_th_.

You ask me how I pass my time.  Generally upon the hills, in wild spots
where the arbutus flourishes: from whence I may catch a glimpse of the
distant sea; my horse tied to a cypress, and myself cast upon the grass,
like Palmarin of Oliva, with a tablet and pencil in my hand, a basket of
grapes by my side, and a crooked stick to shake down the chestnuts.  I
have bidden adieu, several days ago, to the dinners and glories of the
town, and only come thither in an evening, just time enough for the grand
march which precedes Pacchierotti in _Quinto Fabio_.  Sometimes he
accompanies me in my excursions, to the utter discontent of the Lucchese,
who swear I shall ruin their opera, by leading him such confounded
rambles amongst the mountains, and exposing him to the inclemency of
winds and showers.  One day they made a vehement remonstrance, but in
vain; for the next, away we trotted over hill and dale, and stayed so
late in the evening, that cold and hoarseness were the consequence.

The whole republic was thrown into commotion, and some of its prime
ministers were deputed to harangue Pacchierotti upon the rides he had
committed.  Billingsgate never produced such furious orators.  Had the
safety of their mighty state depended upon this imprudent excursion, they
could not have vociferated with greater violence.  You know I am rather
energetic, and, to say truth, I had very nearly got into a scrape of
importance, and drawn down the execrations of the Gonfalonier and all his
council upon my head, in defending him, and in openly declaring our
intention of taking, next morning, another ride over the rocks, and
absolutely losing ourselves in the clouds which veil their acclivities.
These threats were put into execution, and yesterday we made a tour of
about thirty miles upon the highlands, and visited a variety of castles
and palaces.

The Conte Nobili conducted us, a noble Lucchese, but born in Flanders and
educated at Paris.  He possesses the greatest elegance of imagination,
and a degree of sensibility rarely met with upon our gross planet.  The
way did not appear tedious in such company.  The sun was tempered by
light clouds, and a soft autumnal haze rested upon the hills, covered
with shrubs and olives.  The distant plains and forests appeared tinted
with deep blue, and I am now convinced the azure so prevalent in Velvet
Breughel’s landscapes is not exaggerated.

After riding for six or seven miles along the cultivated levels, we began
to ascend a rough slope, overgrown with chestnuts; here and there some
vines streaming in garlands displayed their clusters.  A great many loose
fragments and stumps of ancient pomegranates perplexed our route, which
continued, turning and winding through this sort of wilderness, till it
opened on a sudden to the side of a lofty mountain, covered with tufted
groves, amongst which hangs the princely castle of the Garzonis, on the
very side of a precipice.

Alcina could not have chosen a more romantic situation.  The garden lies
extended beneath, gay with flowers, and glittering with compartments of
spar, which, though in no great purity of taste, has an enchanted effect
for the first time.  Two large marble basins, with jet-d’eaux seventy
feet in height, divide the parterres; from the extremity of which rises a
rude cliff, shaded with firs and ilex, and cut into terraces.

Leaving our horses at the great gate of this magic inclosure, we passed
through the spray of the fountains, and mounting an almost endless flight
of steps, entered an alley of oranges, and gathered ripe fruit from the
trees.  Whilst we were thus employed, the sun broke from the clouds, and
lighted up the vivid green of the vegetation; at the same time spangling
the waters, which pour copiously down a succession of rocky terraces, and
sprinkle the impending citron-trees with perpetual dew.  These streams
issue from a chasm in the cliff, surrounded by cypresses, which conceal
by their thick branches some pavilions with baths.  Above arises a
colossal statue of Fame, boldly carved, and in the very act of starting
from the precipices.  A narrow path leads up to the feet of the goddess,
on which I reclined; whilst a vast column of water arched over my head,
and fell, without even wetting me with its spray, into the depths below.

I could with difficulty prevail upon myself to abandon this cool recess,
which the fragrance of bay and orange, extracted by constant showers,
rendered uncommonly luxurious.  At last I consented to move on, through a
dark wall of ilex, which, to the credit of Signor Garzoni be it spoken,
is suffered to grow as wild and as forest-like as it pleases.  This grove
is suspended on the mountain side, whose summit is clothed with a
boundless wood of olives, and forms, by its azure colour, a striking
contrast with the deep verdure of its base.

After resting a few moments in the shade, we proceeded to a long avenue
(bordered by aloes in bloom, forming majestic pyramids of flowers thirty
feet high), which led us to the palace.  This was soon run over.  Then,
mounting our horses, we wound amongst sunny vales, and inclosures with
myrtle hedges, till we came to a rapid steep.  We felt the heat most
powerfully in ascending it, and were glad to take refuge under a bower of
vines, which runs for miles along its summit, almost without
interruption.  These arbours afforded us both shade and refreshment; I
fell upon the clusters which formed our ceiling, like a native of the
north, unused to such luxuriance: one of those Goths which Gray so
poetically describes, who

    “Scent the new fragrance of the breathing rose,
    And quaff the pendent vintage as it grows.”

I wish you had journeyed with us under this fruitful canopy, and observed
the partial sunshine through its transparent leaves, and the glimpses of
the blue sky it every now and then admitted.  I say only every now and
then, for in most places a sort of verdant gloom prevailed, exquisitely
agreeable in so hot a day.

But such luxury did not last, you may suppose, for ever.  We were soon
forced from our covert, and obliged to traverse a mountain exposed to the
sun, which had dispersed every cloud, and shone with intolerable
brightness.  On the other side of this extensive eminence lies an
agreeable hillock, surrounded by others, woody and irregular.  Wide
vineyards and fences of Indian corn lay between, across which the Conte
Nobili conducted us to his house, where we found prepared a very
comfortable dinner.  We drank the growth of the spot, and defied
Constantia and the Cape to excel it.

Afterwards, retiring into a wood of the Marchese Mansi, with neat pebble
walks and trickling rivulets, we sipped coffee and loitered till sunset.
It was then time to return: the dews began to fall, and the mists to rise
from the valleys.  The profound calm and silence of evening threw us all
three into our reveries.  We went pacing along heedlessly, just as our
horses pleased, without hearing any sound but their steps.

Between nine and ten we entered the gates of Lucca.  Pacchierotti
coughed, and half its inhabitants wished us at the devil.

I think now I have detained you long enough with my excursions: you must
require a little repose; for my own part, I am heartily tired.  I
intended to say some things about certain owls, amongst other grievances
I am pestered with in this republic; but shall cut them all short, and
wish you good-night; for the opera is already begun, and I would not miss
the first glorious recitative for the empire of Trebizond.



LETTER XV.


                                                LIVOURNO, _October_ 2_nd_.

No sooner were we beyond the gates, than we found ourselves in narrow
roads, shut in by vines and grassy banks of canes and osiers, rising high
above our carriage, and waving their leaves in the air.  Through the
openings which sometimes intervene we discovered a variety of hillocks
clothed with shrubberies and verdure, ruined towers looking out of the
bushes, not one without a romantic tale attending it.

This sort of scenery lasted till, passing the baths, we beheld Pisa
rising from an extensive plain, the most open we had as yet seen in
Italy, crossed by an aqueduct.  We were set down immediately before the
Duomo, which stands insulated in a verdant opening, and is by far the
most curious and highly finished edifice my eyes ever viewed.  Don’t ask
of what shape or architecture; it is almost impossible to tell, so great
is the confusion of ornaments.  The capitals of the columns and carvings
of the architraves, as well as the form of the arches, are evidently of
Grecian design, but Gothic proportions.  The dome gives the mass an
Oriental appearance, which helped to bewilder me; in short, I have
dreamed of such buildings, but little thought they existed.  On one side
you survey the famous tower, as perfectly awry as I expected; on the
other the baptistery, a circular edifice distinct from the church and
right opposite its principal entrance, crowded with sculptures and topped
by the strangest of cupolas.

Having indulged our curiosity with this singular prospect for some
moments, we entered the cathedral and admired the stately columns of
porphyry and the rarest marbles, supporting a roof which, like the rest
of the building, shines with gold.  A pavement of the brightest mosaic
completes its magnificence: all around are sculptures by M. Ang.
Buonaroti, and paintings by the most distinguished artists.  We examined
them all, and then walked down the nave and remarked the striking effect
of the baptistery, seen in perspective through the bronze portals, which
you know, I suppose, are covered with relievos of the finest workmanship.
These noble valves were thrown wide open, and we passed between to
examine the alabaster fount in the baptistery, constructed after the
primitive ritual, and exquisitely wrought.  Many palm trees appear
amongst the carved work, which seems to indicate the former connections
of the Pisanese with Palestine.

Our next object was the Campo Santo, which forms one side of the opening
in which the cathedral is situated.  The walls, and Gothic tabernacle
above the entrance, rising from a level turf, appear as fresh as if built
within the present century, and, preserving a neat straw colour, have the
cleanest effect imaginable.  Our guide unlocking the gates, we entered a
spacious cloister, forming an oblong quadrangle, enclosing the sacred
earth of Jerusalem, conveyed hither about the period of the crusades, in
the days of Pisanese prosperity.  The holy mould produces a rampant crop
of weeds, but none are permitted to spring from the pavement, which is
entirely composed of tombs with slabs and monumental inscriptions
smoothly laid.  Ranges of slender pillars, formed of the whitest marble
and glistening in the sun, support the arcades, which are carved with
innumerable stars and roses, partly Gothic and partly Saracenial.
Strange paintings of hell and the devil, mostly taken from Dante’s
rhapsodies, cover the walls of these fantastic galleries, attributed to
the venerable Giotto and Bufalmacco, whom Boccace mentions in his
“Decamerone.”

Beneath, along the base of the columns, rows of pagan sarcophagi are
placed, to my no small surprise, as I could not have supposed the
Pisanese sufficiently tolerant to admit profane sculptures within such
consecrated precincts.  However, there they are, as well as fifty other
contradictory ornaments.

I was quite seized by the strangeness of the place, and paced fifty times
round and round the cloisters, discovering at every time some odd
novelty.  When tired, I seated myself on a fair slab of _giallo antico_,
that looked a little cleaner than its neighbours (which I only mention to
identify the precise point of view), and looking through the filigreed
covering of the arches, observed the domes of the cathedral, cupola of
the baptistery, and roof of the leaning tower rising above the leads, and
forming the strangest assemblage of pinnacles perhaps in Europe.  The
place is neither sad nor solemn; the arches are airy, the pillars light,
and there is so much caprice, such an exotic look in the whole scene,
that without any violent effort of fancy one might imagine one’s self in
fairyland.  Every object is new, every ornament original; the mixture of
antique sarcophagi with Gothic sepulchres, completes the vagaries of the
prospect, to which, one day or other, I think of returning, to act a
visionary part, hear visionary music, and commune with sprites, for I
shall never find in the whole universe besides so whimsical a theatre.
It was between ten and eleven when we entered the Campo Santo, and one
o’clock struck before I could be persuaded to leave it; and ’twas the sun
which then drove me away; whose heat was so powerful that all the
inhabitants of Pisa showed their wisdom by keeping within doors.  Not an
animal appeared in the streets, except five camels laden with water,
stalking along a range of garden walls and pompous mansions, with an
awning before every door.  We were obliged to follow their steps, at
least a quarter of a mile, before we reached our inn.  Ice was the first
thing I sought after, and when I had swallowed an unreasonable portion, I
began not to think quite so much of the deserts of Africa, as the heat
and the camels had induced me a moment ago.

Early in the afternoon, we proceeded to Livourno through a wild tract of
forest, somewhat in the style of our English parks.  The trees in some
places formed such shady arbours, that we could not resist the desire of
walking beneath them, and were well rewarded; for after struggling
through a rough thicket, we entered a lawn hemmed in by oaks and
chestnuts, which extends several leagues along the coast and conceals the
prospect of the ocean; but we heard its murmurs.

Nothing could be smoother or more verdant than the herbage, which was
sprinkled with daisies and purple crocuses, as in the month of May.  I
felt all the genial sensations of Spring steal into my bosom, and was
greatly delighted upon discovering vast bushes of myrtle in bloom.  The
softness of the air, the sound of the distant surges, the evening gleams,
and repose of the landscape, quieted the tumult of my spirits, and I
experienced the calm of my infant hours.  I lay down in the open
turf-walks between the shrubberies, listlessly surveyed the cattle
browsing at a distance, and the blue hills that rose above the foliage,
and bounded the view.  During a few moments I had forgotten every care;
but when I began to inquire into my happiness, I found it vanish.  I felt
myself without those I love most, in situations they would have warmly
admired, and without them these pleasant meads and woodlands were of
little avail.

We had not left this woody region far behind, when the Fanalè began to
lift itself above the horizon—the Fanalè you have so often mentioned; the
sky and ocean glowing with amber light, and the ships out at sea
appearing in a golden haze, of which we have no conception in our
northern climates.  Such a prospect, together with the fresh gales from
the Mediterranean, charmed me; I hurried immediately to the port and sat
on a reef of rocks, listening to the waves that broke amongst them.



LETTER XVI.


_October_ 3_rd_.—I went, as you would have done, to walk on the mole as
soon as the sun began to shine upon it.  Its construction you are no
stranger to; therefore I think I may spare myself the trouble of saying
anything about it, except that the port which it embraces is no longer
crowded.  Instead of ten ranks of vessels there are only three, and those
consist chiefly of Corsican galleys, that look as poor and tattered as
their masters.  Not much attention did I bestow upon such objects, but,
taking my seat at the extremity of the quay, surveyed the smooth plains
of ocean, the coast scattered over with watch-towers, and the rocky isle
of Gorgona, emerging from the morning mists, which still lingered upon
the horizon.

Whilst I was musing upon the scene, and calling up all that train of
ideas before my imagination, which possessed your own upon beholding it,
an ancient figure, with a beard that would have suited a sea-god, stepped
out of a boat, and tottering up the steps of the quay, presented himself
before me with a basket in his hand.  He stayed dripping a few moments
before he pronounced a syllable, and when he began his discourse, I was
in doubt whether I should not have moved off in a hurry, there was
something so wan and singular in his countenance.  Except this being, no
other was visible for a quarter of a mile at least.  I knew not what
strange adventure I might be upon the point of commencing, or what
message I was to expect from the submarine divinities.  However, after
all my conjectures, the figure turned out to be no other than an old
fisherman, who, having picked up a few large branches of red coral,
offered them to sale.  I eagerly made the purchase, and thought myself a
favourite of Neptune, since he allowed me to acquire for next to nothing
some of his most beautiful ornaments.

My bargain thus expeditiously finished, I ran along the quay with my
basket of coral, and, jumping into a boat, was rowed back to the gate of
the port.  The carriage waited there; I filled it with jasmine, shut
myself up in the shade of the green blinds, and was driven away at a rate
that favoured my impatience.  We bowled smoothly over the lawns I
attempted describing in my last letter, amongst myrtles in flower, that
would have done honour to the island of Juan Fernandes.

Arrived at Pisa, I scarcely allowed myself a moment to revisit the Campo
Santo, but, after taking my usual portion of ice and pomegranate-seeds,
hurried on to Lucca as fast as horses could carry me, threw the whole
idle town into a stare by my speedy return, and gave myself up to _Q.
Fabio_.

Next day (October 4th) was passed in running over my old haunts upon the
hills, and bidding farewell to several venerable chestnuts, for which I
had contracted a sort of friendship by often experiencing their
protection.  I could not help feeling some melancholy sensation when I
turned round the last time to bid them adieu.  Who knows but some dryad
enclosed within them was conscious of my gratitude, and noted it down on
the bark of her tree?  It was late before I finished my excursion, and
soon after I had walked as usual upon the ramparts the opera began.



LETTER XVII.


                                                FLORENCE, _October_ 5_th_.

It was not without regret that I forced myself from Lucca.  We had all
the same road to go over again, that brought us to this important
republic, but we broke down by way of variety.  The wind was chill, the
atmosphere damp and clogged with unwholesome vapours, through which we
were forced to walk for a league, whilst our chaise lagged after us.

Taking shelter in a miserable cottage, we remained shivering and shaking
till the carriage was in some sort of order, and then proceeded so slowly
that we did not arrive at Florence till late in the evening.  We found an
apartment over the Arno prepared for our reception.  The river, swollen
with rains, roared like a mountain torrent.  Throwing open my windows, I
viewed its agitated course by the light of the moon, half concealed in
stormy clouds, which hung above the fortress of the Belvedere, and cast a
lowering gleam over the hills, which rise above the town, and wave with
cypress.  I sat contemplating the effect of the shadows on the bridge, on
the heights of Boboli, and the mountain covered with pale olive groves,
amongst which a convent is situated, till the moon sunk into the darkest
quarter of the sky, and a bell began to toll.  Its sullen sound filled me
with sadness.  I closed the casements, called for lights, ran to a
harpsichord Vannini had prepared for me, and played somewhat in the
strain of Jomelli’s _Miserere_.

_October_ 6_th_.—Every cloud was dispersed when I arose; the sunbeams
glittered on the stream, and the purity and transparency of the tether
added new charms to the woody eminences around.  Such was the clearness
of the air that even objects on the distant mountains were
distinguishable.  I felt quite revived by the exhilarating prospect, and
walked in the splendour of sunshine to the porticos beneath the famous
gallery; then to an ancient castle, raised in the days of the republic,
which fronts the grand piazza: colossal statues and venerable terms are
placed before it.  On one side a fountain clung round with antique
figures of bronze, by John of Bologna, so admirably wrought as to hold me
several minutes in astonishment; on the other, three lofty Gothic arches,
and under one of them the Perseus of Benvenuto Cellini, raised on a
pedestal, incomparably designed and executed; which I could not behold
uninterested, since its author has ever occupied a distinguished place in
my kalendar of genius.  Having examined some groups of sculptures, by
Baccio Bandinelli and other mighty artists, I entered the court of the
castle, dark and deep, as if hewn out of a rock; surrounded by a vaulted
arcade, covered with arabesque ornaments, and supported by pillars as
uncouthly carved as those of Persepolis.  In the midst appears a marble
fount with an image of bronze, that looks quite strange and cabalistic.
I leaned against it, to look up to the summits of the walls, which rise
to a vast height, from whence springs a slender tower.  Above, in the
apartments of the castle, were preserved numbers of curious cabinets,
tables of inlaid gems, and a thousand rarities, collected by the house of
Medici, but exposed by the present sovereign of Tuscany to public sale.

It was not without indignation that I learnt this new mark of contempt
which the Austrians bestow on the memory of those illustrious patrons of
the Arts; whom, being unwilling to imitate, they affect to despise as a
race of merchants, whose example it would be abasing their dignity to
follow.

I could have stayed much longer to enjoy the novelty and strangeness of
the place; but it was right to pay some compliments of form.  That duty
over, I dined in peace and solitude, read over your letters, and
repaired, as evening drew on, to the thickets of Boboli.

What a serene sky! what mellowness in the tints of the mountains!  A
purple haze concealed the bases, whilst their summits were invested with
saffron light, discovering every white cot and every copse that clothed
their declivities.  The prospect widened as I ascended the terraces of
the garden.

After traversing many long alleys, brown with impending foliage, I
emerged into a green opening on the brow of the hill, and seated myself
under the statue of Ceres.  From this high point I surveyed the mosaic
cupola of the Duomo, its quaint turret, and one still more grotesque in
its neighbourhood, built not improbably in the style of ancient Etruria.
Beyond this singular group of buildings a plain stretches itself far and
wide, most richly scattered over with villas, gardens, and groves of pine
and olive, quite to the feet of the mountains.

After I had marked the sun’s going down, I went through a plat of vines
hanging on the steeps, to a little eminence, round which the wood grows
wilder and more luxuriant, and the cypresses shoot up to a surprising
elevation.  The pruners have spared this sylvan corner, and suffered the
bays to put forth their branches, and the ilex to dangle over the walks,
many of whose entrances are nearly overgrown.  I enjoyed the gloom of
these shady arbours, in the midst of which rises a lofty pavilion with
galleries running round it, not unlike the idea one forms of Turkish
chiosks.  Beneath lies a garden of vines and rose-trees, which I visited,
and found a spring under a rustic arch of grotto-work, fringed round with
ivy.  Millions of fish inhabit here, of that beautiful glittering species
which comes from China.  This golden nation were leaping after insects,
as I stood gazing upon the deep, clear water, and listening to the drops
that trickle from the cove.  Opposite to which, at the end of an alley of
vines, you discover an oval bason, and in the midst of it a statue of
Ganymede, sitting reclined upon the eagle, full of that graceful languor
so peculiarly Grecian.  Whilst I was musing on the margin of the spring
(for I returned to it after casting a look upon the sculpture), the moon
rose above the tufted foliage of the terraces.  Her silver brightness was
strongly contrasted by the deep green of the holm-oak and bay, amongst
which I descended by several flights of stairs, with neat marble
balustrades crowned by vases of aloes.

It was about seven o’clock, and everybody was jumbling to my Lord T—’s,
who lives in a fine house all over blue and silver, with stuffed birds,
alabaster cupids, and a thousand prettinesses more; but, after all,
neither he nor his abode are worth mentioning.  I found a deal of
slopping and sipping of tea going forwards, and many dawdlers assembled.

As I can say little good of the party, I had better shut the door, and
conduct you to the opera, which is really a striking spectacle.  However,
it being addressed to the sight alone, I was soon tired, and gave myself
up to conversation.  Bedini, first soprano, put my patience to severe
proof, during the few minutes I attended.  You never beheld such a
porpoise.  If these animals were to sing, I should conjecture it would be
in his style.  You may suppose how often I invoked Pacchierotti, and
regretted the lofty melody of _Quinto Fabio_.  Everybody seemed as well
contented as if there were no such thing as good music in the world,
except a Neapolitan duchess, who delighted me by her vivacity.  We took
our fill of maledictions, and went home equally pleased with each other
for having mutually execrated both singers and audience.



LETTER XVIII.


_October_ 22_nd_.—They say the air is worse this year at Rome than ever,
and that it would be madness to go thither during its malign influence.
This was very bad news indeed to one heartily tired of Florence, at least
of its society.  Merciful powers! what a set harbour within its walls! *
* * * * You may imagine I do not take vast or vehement delight in this
company, though very ingenious, praiseworthy, etc.  The woods of the
Cascini shelter me every morning; and there grows an old crooked ilex at
their entrance, twisting round a pine, upon whose branches I sit for
hours,—hear, without feeling, the showers trickling above my head, and
see the cattle browsing peacefully in their pastures, which hazel copses,
Italian pines, and groves of cypress enclose.

In the afternoon I never fail hiding myself in the thickets of Boboli,
and marking the golden glimmer of sunset between their leaves.  The other
evening I varied my walks, and ascended one of those pleasant hills {214}
which rise in the vicinity of the city, and command a variegated scene of
spires, towns, villas, cots, and gardens.  On the right, as you stand
upon the brow, appears Fesule with its turrets and white houses, covering
a rocky mount; to the left, the vast Val d’Arno lost in immensity.  A
Franciscan convent stands on the summit of the eminence, wrapped up in
ancient cypresses, which hinder its holy inhabitants from seeing too much
of so gay a view.  The paved ascent leading up to their abode receives
also a shade from the cypresses which border it.  Beneath which venerable
avenue, crosses with inscriptions are placed at stated distances, to mark
the various moments of Christ’s passion; as when fainting under His
burden He halted to repose Himself, or when He met His afflicted mother
(“Giesu incontra la fua afflitta madre”).

Above, at the end of the perspective, rises a chapel designed with
infinite taste and simple elegance by M. A. Buonarotti.  Further on, an
ancient church, in the corrupt Greek style of the primitive Christians,
incrusted with white marble, porphyry, and verd antique.  The interior
presents a crowded assemblage of ornaments, elaborate mosaic pavements,
and inlaid work without end.  The high altar, placed in a semicircular
recess, which reminded me of the church at Torcello, glitters with
barbaric paintings on a gold ground, and receives the strongest glow of
light imaginable from five windows, filled up with transparent marble
clouded like tortoiseshell.  A smooth polished staircase leads to this
sacred place: another brought me to a subterraneous chapel, supported by
confused groups of variegated pillars, just visible by the glimmer of
lamps.  I thought of the Zancaroon at Cordova, and began reciting the
first verses of the Koran.

                           [Picture: Florence]

Passing on not unawed, I followed some flights of steps, which terminate
in the neat cloisters of the convent, in perfect preservation, but
totally deserted.  Ranges of citron and aloes fill up the quadrangle,
whose walls are hung with superstitious pictures most singularly fancied.
The Jesuits were the last tenants of this retirement, and seem to have
had great reason for their choice.  Its peace and stillness delighted me.

Next day a very opposite scene engaged me, though much against my will.
Her R. H. the G. Duchess having produced a princess in the night,
everybody put on grand gala in the morning, and I was carried, along with
the glittering tide of courtiers, ministers, and ladies, to see the
christening.  After hearing the Grand Duke talk politics for some time,
the doors of a temporary chapel were thrown open.  Trumpets flourished,
processions marched, and the archbishop began his business at an altar of
massive gold, placed under a yellow silk pavilion, with pyramids of
lights before it.  Wax tapers, though it was noon-day, shone in every
corner of the apartments.  Two rows of pages, gorgeously accoutred, and
holding enormous torches, stood on each side his Royal Highness, and made
him the prettiest courtesies imaginable, to the sound of an execrable
band of music, though led by Nardini.  The poor old archbishop, who
looked very piteous and saint-like, struck up the Te Deum with a
quavering voice, and the rest followed him full gallop.

That ceremony being despatched (for his R. H. was in a mighty fidget to
shrink back into his beloved obscurity), the crowd dispersed, and I went,
with a few others, to dine at my Lord Tilney’s.

Evening drawing on, I ran to throw myself into the woods of Boboli, and
remained till it was night in their profound recesses.  Really this
garden is enough to bewilder an enthusiastic spirit; there is something
so solemn in its shades, its avenues, and spires of cypresses.  When I
had mused for many a melancholy hour amongst them, I emerged into the
orangery before the palace, which overlooks the largest district of the
town, and beheld, as I slowly descended the road which leads up to it,
certain bright lights glancing across the cupola of the Duomo and the
points of the highest towers.  At first I thought them meteors, or those
illusive fires which often dance before the eye of my imagination; but
soon I was convinced of their reality: for in a few minutes the
battlements of the old castle, which I remember mentioning in a former
letter, shone with lamps; the lantern of the cathedral was lighted up on
a sudden; whilst a stream of torches ran along its fantastic turrets.

I enjoyed this prospect at a distance: when near, its pleasure was
greatly diminished, for half the fish in the town were frying to rejoice
the hearts of H. R. Highness’s loyal subjects, and bonfires blazing in
every street and alley.  Hubbubs and stinks of every denomination drove
me quickly to the theatre; but that was all glitter and glare.  No taste,
no arrangement, paltry looking-glasses, and rat’s-tail candles.  I had
half a mind to return to Boboli.



LETTER XIX.


_October_ 23_rd_.—Do you recollect our evening rambles last year upon the
hill of pines? and the dark valley where we used to muse in the twilight?
I remember we often fancied the scene like Valombrosa; and vowed, if ever
an occasion offered, to visit that deep retirement.  I had put off the
execution of this pilgrimage from day to day till the warm weather was
gone; and the Florentines declared I should be frozen if I attempted it.
Everybody stared last night at the opera when I told them I was going to
bury myself in fallen leaves, and hear no music but their rustlings.

Mr. — was just as eager as myself to escape the chit-chat and nothingness
of Florence; so we finally determined upon our expedition, and mounting
our horses, set out this morning, happily without any company but the
spirit which led us along.  We had need of inspiration, since nothing
else, I think, would have tempted us over such dreary, uninteresting
hillocks as rise from the banks of the Arno.  The hoary olive is their
principal vegetation; so that Nature, in this part of the country, seems
in a withering decrepit state, and may not unaptly be compared to “an old
woman clothed in grey.”  However, we did not suffer the prospect to damp
our enthusiasm, which was the better preserved for Valombrosa.

About half way, our palfreys thought proper to look out for some oats,
and I to creep into a sort of granary in the midst of a barren waste,
scattered over with white rocks, that reflected more heat than I cared
for, although I had been told snow and ice were to be my portion.
Seating myself on the floor between heaps of corn, I reached down a few
purple clusters of Muscadine grapes, which hung to dry in the ceiling,
and amused myself very pleasantly with them till the horses had finished
their meal and it was lawful to set forwards.  We met with nothing but
rocky steeps shattered into fragments, and such roads as half inclined us
to repent our undertaking; but cold was not yet amongst the number of our
evils.

At last, after ascending a tedious while, we began to feel the wind blow
sharp from the peaks of the mountains, and to hear the murmur of the
forests of pine which shade their acclivities.  A paved path leads across
them, quite darkened by boughs, which, meeting over our heads, cast a
gloom and a chill below, that would have stopped the proceedings of
reasonable mortals, and sent them to bask in the plain; but, being not so
easily discomfited, we threw ourselves boldly into the forest.  It
presented one of those confusions of tall straight stems I am so fond of,
and exhaled a fresh aromatic odour that revived my spirits.

The cold to be sure was piercing; but setting that at defiance, we
galloped on, and issued shortly into a vast amphitheatre of lawns and
meadows, surrounded by thick woods beautifully green.  Flocks of sheep
were dispersed on the slopes, whose smoothness and verdure equal our
English pastures.  Steep cliffs and mountains, clothed with beech to
their very summits, guard this retired valley.  The herbage, moistened by
streams which fall from the eminences, has never been known to fade; and,
whilst the chief part of Tuscany is parched by the heats of summer, these
upland meadows retain the freshness of spring.  I regretted not having
visited them sooner, as autumn had already made great havoc amongst the
foliage.  Showers of leaves blew full in our faces as we rode towards the
convent, placed at an extremity of the vale, and sheltered by remote firs
and chestnuts towering one above another.

Alighting before the entrance, two fathers came out and received us into
the peace of their retirement.  We found a blazing fire, and tables
spread very comfortably before it, round which five or six overgrown
friars were lounging, who seemed, by the sleekness and rosy hue of their
countenances, not totally to have despised this mortal existence.

My letters of recommendation soon brought the heads of the order about
me, fair round figures, such as a Chinese would have placed in his
pagoda.  I could willingly have dispensed with their attention; yet to
avoid this was scarcely within the circle of possibility.  All dinner we
endured the silliest questions imaginable; but that despatched, away flew
your humble servant to the fields and forests.  The fathers made a shift
to waddle after, as fast and as complaisantly as they were able, but were
soon distanced.

Now, I found myself at liberty, and ran up a narrow path overhung by
rock, with bushy chestnuts starting from the crevices.  This led me into
wild glens of beech trees, mostly decayed and covered with moss: several
were fallen.  It was amongst these the holy hermit Gualbertus had his
cell.  I rested a moment upon one of their huge branches, listening to
the roar of a waterfall which the wood concealed; then springing up, I
clambered over crags and fragments, guided by the sound, and presently
discovered a full stream, precipitating itself down a cliff of pine,
amongst which I remained several minutes, watching the fallen floods;
till, tired with their endless succession, I plunged into the thickest of
the grove.  A beech received me, like a second Gualbertus, in its hollow
trunk.  The dry leaves chased each other down the steeps on the edge of
the torrents with hollow rustlings, whilst the solemn wave of the forests
above exactly answered the idea I had formed of Valombrosa,

          “ . . . where th’ Etrurian shades
    High overarch’t imbowr.”

The scene was beginning to take effect, and the genius of Milton to move
across his favourite valley, when the fathers arrived puffing and
blowing, by an easier ascent than I knew of.  Pardon me, if I cursed
their intrusion, and wished them as still as Gualbertus.

“You have missed the way,” cried the youngest; “the hermitage, with the
fine picture by Andrea del Sarto, which all the English admire, is on the
opposite side of the wood: there don’t you see it on the point of the
cliff?”

“Yes, yes,” said I a little peevishly; “I wonder the devil has not pushed
it down long ago; it seems to invite his kick.”

“Satan,” answered the old Pagod very dryly, “is full of malice; but
whoever drinks of a spring which the Lord causeth to flow near the
hermitage is freed from his illusions.”

“Are they so?” replied I with a sanctified accent; “then prithee conduct
me thither, for I have great need of such salutary waters, being troubled
with strange fancies and imaginations, such as the evil one himself ought
to be ashamed of inspiring.”

The youngest father shook his head, as much as to say, “This is nothing
more than a heretic’s whim.”

The senior—muddled, I conjecture—set forwards with greater piety, and
began some legendary tales of the kind which my soul loveth: rare stories
of caves and dens of the earth, inhabited by ancient men familiar with
spirits, and not the least discomposed by a party of angels coming to
dinner, or playing a game at miracles to pass away the evening.  He
pointed to a chasm in the cliff, round which we were winding by a spiral
path, where Gualbertus used to sleep, and, turning himself towards the
west, see a long succession of saints and martyrs sweeping athwart the
sky, and gilding the clouds with far brighter splendours than the setting
sun.  Here he rested till his last hour, when the bells of the convent
beneath (which till that moment would have made dogs howl, had there been
any within its precincts) struck out such harmonious jingling that all
the country around was ravished, and began lifting up their eyes with
singular devotion, when, behold! cherubim appeared, light dawned, and
birds chirped, although it was midnight.  Alas! alas! what would I not
give to witness such a spectacle, and read my prayer-book by the
effulgence of opening heaven!

However, willing to see something at least, I crept into the consecrated
cleft, and extended myself on its rugged surface.  A very penitential
couch! but commanding glorious prospects of the world below, which lay
this evening in deep blue shade; the sun looking red and angry through
misty vapours, which prevented our discovering the Tuscan sea.

Finding the rock as damp as might be expected, I soon shifted my
quarters, and followed the youngest father up to the Romitorio, a snug
little hermitage, with a neat chapel, and altar-piece by Andrea del
Sarto, which I should have more minutely examined in any other place, but
where the wild scenery of hanging woods and meadows, steep hills and
nodding precipices, possessed my whole attention.  I just stayed to taste
the holy fountain; and then, escaping from my conductors, ran eagerly
down the path, leaping over the springs that crossed it, and entered a
lawn of the smoothest turf, grazed by sheep, and swelling into gentle
acclivities, skirted by groves of fir, whose solemn verdure formed a
contrast with its tender green.  Beyond this pleasant opening rises a
second, hemmed in with copses; and still higher, a third, whence a forest
of young pines spires up into a lofty theatre terminated by peaks,
universally concealed under a thick mantle of beech, tinged with ruddy
brown.  Pausing in the midst of the lawns, and looking upward to the
sweeps of wood which surrounded me, I addressed my orisons to the genius
of the place, and prayed that I might once more return into its bosom,
and be permitted to bring you along with me, for surely such meads, such
groves, were formed for our enjoyment!

This little rite performed, I walked on quite to the extremity of the
pastures, traversed a thicket, and found myself on the edge of
precipices, beneath whose base the whole Val d’Arno lies expanded.  I
listened to distant murmurings in the plain, saw smoke rise from the
cottages, and viewed a vast tract of barren country, which evening
rendered still more desolate, bounded by the high mountain of Radicofani.
Then, turning round, I beheld the whole extent of rock and forest, the
groves of beech, and wilds above the convent, glowing with fiery red, for
the sun, making a last effort to pierce the vapours, produced this
effect; which was the more striking, as the sky was dark, and the rest of
the prospect of a melancholy blue.

Returning slowly homeward, I marked the warm glow deserting the
eminences, and heard the bell toll sullenly to vespers.  The young boys
of the seminary were moving in a body to their dark inclosure, all
dressed in black.  Many of them looked pale and wan.  I wished to ask
them whether the solitude of Valombrosa suited their age and vivacity;
but a tall spectre of a priest drove them along like a herd, and
presently, the gates opening, I saw them no more.  A sadness I could
scarcely account for came over me.  I shivered at the bare idea of being
cooped up in such a place, and seeing no other living objects than
scarecrow priests and friars; to hear every day the same dull service and
droning organ; view the same cloisters; be led the same walks; watched,
cribbed, confined, and filled with superstitious fears.

The night was growing chill, the winds boisterous, and in the intervals
of the gusts I had the addition of a lamentable screech-owl to raise my
spirits.  Upon the whole, I was not at all concerned to meet the fathers,
who came out to show me to my room, and entertain me with various
gossipings, both sacred and profane, till supper appeared.

Next morning, the Padre Decano gave us chocolate in his apartment; and
afterwards led us round the convent, insisting most unmercifully upon our
viewing every cell and every dormitory.  However, I was determined to
make a full stop at the organ, which is perhaps the most harmonious I
ever played upon; but placed in a dark, dingy recess, feebly lighted by
lamps, not calculated to inspire triumphant voluntaries.  The monks, who
had all crowded around me when I first began, in expectation of brisk
jigs and lively overtures, soon took themselves away upon hearing a
strain ten times more sorrowful than that to which they were accustomed.
I did not lament their departure, but played dismally on till our horses
came round to the gate.  We mounted, spurred back through the grove of
pines which protect Valombrosa from intrusion, descended the steeps, and,
gaining the plains, galloped in three hours to Florence.



LETTER XX.


                                                 SIENNA, _October_ 26_th_.

At last fears were overcome, the epidemical fever at Rome allowed to be
no longer dangerous, and myself permitted to quit Florence.  The weather
was neither gay nor dismal; the country neither fine nor ugly; and your
friend full as indifferent as the scenes he looked at.  Towards
afternoon, a thunderstorm gave character to the landscape, and we entered
a narrow vale enclosed by rocks, with streams running at their base.
Poplars with faded yellow leaves sprung from the margins of the rivulets,
which seemed to lose themselves in the ruins of a castle, built in the
Gothic times.  Our road led through its court and passed the ancient
keep, still darkened by its turrets; a few mud cottages are scattered
about the opening where formerly the chieftain exercised his vassals, and
trained them to war.  The dungeon, once filled with miserable victims,
serves only at present to confine a few goats, which were milking before
its entrance.  As we were driven along under a tottering gateway, and
then through a plain and up a hill, the breeze whispering amongst the
fern which covers it, I felt the sober autumnal cast of the evening bring
back the happy hours I passed last year at this very time, calm and
sequestered.  Full of these recollections, my eyes closed of their own
accord, and were not opened for many hours; in short, till we entered
Sienna.

_October_ 27_th_.—Here my duty of course was to see the cathedral, and I
got up much earlier than I wished, in order to perform it.  I wonder our
holy ancestors did not choose a mountain at once, scrape it into shrines,
and chisel it into scripture stories.  It would have cost them almost as
little trouble as the building in question, which may certainly be
esteemed a masterpiece of ridiculous taste and elaborate absurdity.  The
front, incrusted with alabaster, is worked into a million of fretted
arches and puzzling ornaments.  There are statues without number and
relievos without end.

The church within is all of black and white marble alternately; the roof
blue and gold, with a profusion of silken banners hanging from it; and a
cornice running above the principal arcade, composed entirely of bustos
representing the whole series of sovereign pontiffs, from the first
Bishop of Rome to Adrian the Fourth.  Pope Joan figured amongst them,
between Leo the Fourth and Benedict the Third, till the year 1600, when
she was turned out, at the instance of Clement the Eighth, to make room
for Zacharias the First.

I hardly knew which was the nave, or which the cross aisle, of this
singular edifice, so perfect is the confusion of its parts.  The pavement
demands attention, being inlaid so curiously as to represent variety of
histories taken from Holy Writ, and designed in the true style of that
hobgoblin tapestry which used to bestare the halls of our ancestors.
Near the high altar stands the strangest of pulpits, supported by
polished pillars of granite, rising from lions’ backs, which serve as
pedestals.  In every corner of the place some chapel or other offends or
astonishes you.  That, however, of the Chigi family, it must be allowed,
has infinite merit with respect to design and execution; but it is so
lost in general disorder as to want the best part of its effect.

From the church one enters a vaulted chamber, erected by the Picolominis,
filled with valuable missals most exquisitely illuminated.  The paintings
in fresco on the walls are rather barbarous, though executed after the
designs of the mighty Raffaelle; but then, we must remember, he had but
just escaped from Pietro Perugino.

Not staying long in the Duomo, we left Sienna in good time; and, after
being shaken and tumbled in the worst roads that were ever pretended to
be made use of, found ourselves beneath the rough mountains round
Radicofani, about seven o’clock on a cold and dismal evening.  Up we
toiled a steep craggy ascent, and reached at length the inn upon its
summit.  My heart sunk when I entered a vast range of apartments, with
high black rafted roofs, once intended for a hunting palace of the Grand
Dukes, but now desolate and forlorn.  The wind having risen, every door
began to shake, and every board substituted for a window to clatter, as
if the severe power who dwells on the topmost peak of Radicofani,
according to its village mythologists, was about to visit his abode.  My
only spell to keep him at a distance was kindling an enormous fire, whose
charitable gleams cheered my spirits, and gave them a quicker flow.  Yet,
for some minutes, I never ceased looking, now to the right, now to the
left, up at the dark beams, and down the long passages, where the
pavement, broken up in several places, and earth newly strewn about,
seemed to indicate that something horrid was concealed below.

A grim fraternity of cats kept whisking backwards and forwards in these
dreary avenues, which I am apt to imagine is the very identical scene of
a sabbath of witches at certain periods.  Not venturing to explore them,
I fastened my door, pitched my bed opposite the hearth, which glowed with
embers, and crept under the coverlids, hardly venturing to go to sleep,
lest I should be suddenly roused from it by the sudden glare of torches,
and be more initiated than I wished into the mysteries of the place.

Scarce was I settled, before two or three of the brotherhood just
mentioned stalked in at a little opening under the door.  I insisted upon
their moving off faster than they had entered, suspecting that they would
soon turn wizards, and was surprised, when midnight came, to hear nothing
more than their mewings, doleful enough, and echoed by the hollow walls
and arches.



LETTER XXI.


                                             RADICOFANI, _October_ 28_th_.

I begin to despair of magical adventures, since none happened at
Radicofani, which Nature seems wholly to have abandoned.  Not a tree, not
an acre of soil, has she bestowed upon its inhabitants, who would have
more excuse for practising the gloomy art than the rest of mankind.  I
was very glad to leave their black hills and stony wilderness behind,
and, entering the Papal territory, to see some shrubs and corn-fields at
a distance, near Aquapadente, which is situated on a ledge of cliffs,
mantled with chestnut copses and tufted ilex.  The country grew varied
and picturesque.  St. Lorenzo, the next post, built upon a hill,
overlooks the lake of Bolsena, whose woody shores conceal many ruined
buildings.  We passed some of them in a retired vale, with arches from
rock to rock, and grottos beneath half lost in thickets, from which rise
craggy pinnacles crowned by mouldering towers; just such scenery as
Polemburg and Peter de Laer introduce in their paintings.

Beyond these truly Italian prospects, which a mellow evening tint
rendered still more interesting, a forest of oaks presents itself upon
the brows of hills, which extends almost the whole way to Monte Fiascone.
It was late before we ascended it.  The whole country seems full of
inhabited caverns, that began as night drew on to shine with fires.  We
saw many dark shapes glancing before them, and perhaps a subterraneous
people like the Cimmerians lurk in their recesses.  As we drew near
Viterbo, the lights in the fields grew less and less frequent; and when
we entered the town, all was total darkness.

To-morrow I hope to pay my vows before the high altar of St. Peter, and
tread the Vatican.  Why are you not here to usher me into the imperial
city: to watch my first glance of the Coliseo: and lead me up the stairs
of the Capitol?  I shall rise before the sun, that I may see him set from
Monte Cavallo.



LETTER XXII.


                                                   ROME, _October_ 29_th_.

We set out in the dark.  Morning dawned over the Lago di Vico; its waters
of a deep ultramarine blue, and its surrounding forests catching the rays
of the rising sun.  It was in vain I looked for the cupola of St. Peter’s
upon descending the mountains beyond Viterbo.  Nothing but a sea of
vapours was visible.

At length they rolled away, and the spacious plains began to show
themselves, in which the most warlike of nations reared their seat of
empire.  On the left, afar off, rises the rugged chain of Apennines, and
on the other side, a shining expanse of ocean terminates the view.  It
was upon this vast surface so many illustrious actions were performed,
and I know not where a mighty people could have chosen a grander theatre.
Here was space for the march of armies, and verge enough for encampments.
Levels for martial games, and room for that variety of roads and
causeways that led from the capital to Ostia.  How many triumphant
legions have trodden these pavements! how many captive kings!  What
throngs of cars and chariots once glittered on their surface! savage
animals dragged from the interior of Africa; and the ambassadors of
Indian princes, followed by their exotic train, hastening to implore the
favour of the senate!

During many ages, this eminence commanded almost every day such
illustrious scenes; but all are vanished: the splendid tumult is passed
away; silence and desolation remain.  Dreary flats thinly scattered over
with ilex, and barren hillocks crowned by solitary towers, were the only
objects we perceived for several miles.  Now and then we passed a few
black ill-favoured sheep feeding by the way-side, near a ruined
sepulchre, just such animals as an ancient would have sacrificed to the
Manes.  Sometimes we crossed a brook, whose ripplings were the only
sounds which broke the general stillness, and observed the shepherds’
huts on its banks, propped up with broken pedestals and marble friezes.
I entered one of them, whose owner was abroad tending his herds, and
began writing upon the sand, and murmuring a melancholy song.  Perhaps
the dead listened to me from their narrow cells.  The living I can answer
for: they were far enough removed.

You will not be surprised at the dark tone of my musings in so sad a
scene, especially as the weather lowered; and you are well acquainted how
greatly I depend upon skies and sunshine.  To-day I had no blue firmament
to revive my spirits; no genial gales, no aromatic plants to irritate my
nerves and give me at least a momentary animation.  Heath and furze were
the sole vegetation which covers this endless wilderness.  Every slope is
strewed with the relics of a happier period; trunks of trees, shattered
columns, cedar beams, helmets of bronze, skulls and coins, are frequently
dug up together.

I cannot boast of having made any discoveries, nor of sending you any
novel intelligence.  You knew before how perfectly the environs of Rome
were desolate, and how completely the Papal government contrives to make
its subjects miserable.  But who knows that they were not just as
wretched in those boasted times we are so fond of celebrating?  All is
doubt and conjecture in this frail existence; and I might as well attempt
proving to whom belonged the mouldering bones which lay dispersed around
me, as venture to affirm that one age is more fortunate than another.
Very likely the poor cottager, under whose roof I reposed, is happier
than the luxurious Roman upon the remains of whose palace, perhaps, his
shed is raised: and yet that Roman flourished in the purple days of the
empire, when all was wealth and splendour, triumph and exultation.

I could have spent the whole day by the rivulet, lost in dreams and
meditations; but recollecting my vow, I ran back to the carriage and
drove on.  The road not having been mended, I believe, since the days of
the Cæsars, would not allow our motions to be very precipitate.  “When
you gain the summit of yonder hill, you will discover Rome,” said one of
the postillions: up we dragged; no city appeared.  “From the next,” cried
out a second; and so on from height to height did they amuse my
expectations.  I thought Rome fled before us, such was my impatience,
till at last we perceived a cluster of hills with green pastures on their
summits, inclosed by thickets and shaded by flourishing ilex.  Here and
there a white house, built in the antique style, with open porticos, that
received a faint gleam of the evening sun, just emerged from the clouds
and tinting the meads below.  Now domes and towers began to discover
themselves in the valley, and St. Peter’s to rise above the magnificent
roofs of the Vatican.  Every step we advanced the scene extended, till,
winding suddenly round the hill, all Rome opened to our view.

A spring flowed opportunely into a marble cistern close by the way; two
cypresses and a pine waved over it.  I leaped up, poured water upon my
hands, and then, lifting them up to the sylvan Genii of the place,
implored their protection.  I wished to have run wild in the fresh fields
and copses above the Vatican, there to have remained till fauns might
creep out of their concealment, and satyrs begin to touch their flutes in
the twilight, for the place looks still so wondrous classical, that I can
never persuade myself either Constantine Attila or the Popes themselves
have chased them all away.  I think I should have found some out, who
would have fed me with milk and chestnuts, have sung me a Latian ditty,
and mourned the woeful changes which have taken place, since their sacred
groves were felled, and Faunus ceased to be oracular.  Who can tell but
they would have given me some mystic skin to sleep on, that I might have
looked into futurity?

Shall I ever forget the sensations I experienced upon slowly descending
the hills, and crossing the bridge over the Tiber; when I entered an
avenue between terraces and ornamented gates of villas, which leads to
the Porto del Popolo, and beheld the square, the domes, the obelisk, the
long perspective of streets and palaces opening beyond, all glowing with
the vivid red of sunset?  You can imagine how I enjoyed my beloved tint,
my favourite hour, surrounded by such objects.  You can fancy me
ascending Monte Cavallo, leaning against the pedestal which supports
Bucephalus; then, spite of time and distance, hurrying to St. Peter’s in
performance of my vow.

I met the Holy Father in all his pomp returning from vespers: trumpets
flourishing, and a legion of guards drawn out upon Ponte St. Angelo.
Casting a respectful glance upon the Moles Adriani, I moved on till the
full sweep of St. Peter’s colonnade opened upon me, and fixed me, as if
spell-bound, under the obelisk, lost in wonder.  The edifice appears to
have been raised within the year, such is its freshness and preservation.
I could hardly take my eyes from off the beautiful symmetry of its front,
contrasted with the magnificent though irregular courts of the Vatican
towering over the colonnade, till, the sun sinking behind the dome, I ran
up the steps and entered the grand portal, which was on the very point of
being closed.

I knew not where I was, or to what scene transported.  A sacred twilight
concealing the extremities of the structure, I could not distinguish any
particular ornament, but enjoyed the effect of the whole.  No damp air or
fetid exhalation offended me.  The perfume of incense was not yet
entirely dissipated.  No human being stirred.  I heard a door close with
the sound of thunder, and thought I distinguished some faint whisperings,
but am ignorant whence they came.  Several hundred lamps twinkled round
the high altar, quite lost in the immensity of the pile.  No other light
disturbed my reveries but the dying glow still visible through the
western windows.  Imagine how I felt upon finding myself alone in this
vast temple at so late an hour, and think whether I had not revelations.

It was almost eight o’clock before I issued forth, and, pausing a few
minutes under the porticos, listened to the rush of the fountains: then
traversing half the town, I believe, in my way to the Villa Medici, under
which I am lodged, fell into a profound repose, which my zeal and
exercise may be allowed, I think, to have merited.

_October_ 30_th_.—It was a clear morning; I mounted up to the roof of the
house, and sat under a set of open pavilions, surveying the vast group of
stately buildings below; then repaired immediately after breakfast to St.
Peter’s, which even exceeded the height of my expectations.  I could
hardly quit it.  I wish his Holiness would allow me to erect a little
tabernacle under the dome.  I should desire no other prospect during the
winter; no other sky than the vast arches glowing with golden ornaments,
so lofty as to lose all glitter or gaudiness.  But I cannot say I should
be perfectly contented, unless I could obtain another pavilion for you.
Thus established, we would take our evening walks on the field of marble;
for is not the pavement vast enough to excuse the extravagance of the
appellation?  Sometimes, instead of climbing a mountain, we should ascend
the cupola, and look down on our little encampment below.  At night I
should wish for a constellation of lamps dispersed about in clusters, and
so contrived as to diffuse a mild and equal light for us to read or draw
by.  Music should not be wanting: one day to breathe in the subterraneous
chapels, another to mount high into the dome.

The doors should be closed, and not a mortal admitted.  No priests, no
cardinals: God forbid!  We should have all the space to ourselves, and to
such creatures, too, as resemble us.

The windows I should shade with transparent curtains of yellow silk, to
admit the glow of perpetual summer.  Lanterns, as many as you please, of
all forms and sizes; they would remind us of China, and, depending from
the roof of the palace, bring before us that of the Emperor Ki, which was
twice as large as St. Peter’s (if we may credit the grand annals), and
lighted alone by tapers, for his Imperial Majesty, being tired of the
sun, would absolutely have a new firmament of his own creation, and an
artificial day.  Was it not a rare fantastic idea?  For my part, I should
like of all things to immure myself after his example, with those I love;
forget the divisions of time, have a moon at command, and a theatrical
sun to rise and set at pleasure.

I was so absorbed in my imaginary palace, and exhausted with contriving
plans for its embellishment, as to have no spirits left for the Pantheon,
which I visited late in the evening, and entered with a reverence
approaching to superstition.  The whiteness of the dome offending me, I
slunk into one of the recesses, closed my eyes, transported myself into
antiquity; then opened them again, tried to persuade myself the pagan
gods were in their niches, and the saints out of the question; was vexed
at coming to my senses, and finding them all there, St. Andrew with his
cross, and St. Agnes with her lamb, etc., etc.  Then I paced
disconsolately into the portico, which shows the name of Agrippa on its
pediment.  I leaned a minute against a Corinthian column; I lamented that
no pontiff arrived with victims and aruspices, of whom I might inquire,
what, in the name of birds and garbage, put me so terribly out of humour!
for you must know I was very near being disappointed, and began to think
Piranesi and Paolo Panini had been a great deal too colossal in their
view of this venerable structure.  I left the column, walked to the
centre of the temple, and, folding my arms, stood as fixed as a statue.
Some architects have celebrated the effect of light from the opening
above, and pretended it to be distributed around so as to give those who
walk beneath the appearance of mystic substances beaming with radiance.
Mighty fine, if that were the case!  I appeared, to be sure, a luminous
figure, and never stood I more in need of something to distinguish me,
being forlorn and dismal in the supreme degree.

But though it is not so immense as I had expected, yet a certain
venerable air, an awful gloom, breathed inspiration, though of the
sorrowful kind.

I had expected a heap of Venetian letters, but could not discover one.  I
had received no intelligence from England this many a tedious day; and
for aught I can tell to the contrary, you may have been dead these three
weeks.  I think I shall wander soon in the Catacombs, which I am half
inclined to imagine communicate with the lower world; and perhaps I may
find some letter there from you, lying upon a broken sarcophagus, dated
from the realms of Night, and giving an account of your descent into her
bosom.  Yet, I pray continually, notwithstanding my curiosity to learn
what passes in the dark regions beyond the tomb, that you will condescend
to remain a few years longer on our planet; for what would become of me,
should I lose sight of you for ever?  Stay, therefore, as long as you
can, and let us have the delight of dozing a little more of this poor
existence away together, and steeping ourselves in pleasant dreams.

                          [Picture: Modern Rome]

_October_ 31_st_.—I absolutely will have no antiquary to go prating from
fragment to fragment, and tell me, that were I to stay five years at
Rome, I should not see half it contained.  The thought alone, of so much
to look at, is quite distracting, and makes me resolve to view nothing at
all in a scientific way; but straggle and wander about, just as the
spirit chooses.  This evening, it led me to the Coliseo, and excited a
vehement desire in me to break down and pulverize the whole circle of
saints’ nests and chapels, which disgrace the arena.  You recollect, I
dare say, the vile effect of this holy trumpery, and would join with all
your heart in kicking it into the Tiber.  A few lazy abbots were at their
devotions before them; such as would have made a lion’s mouth water;
fatter, I dare say, than any saint in the whole martyrology, and ten
times more tantalizing.  I looked first, at the dens where wild beasts
used to be kept, to divert the magnanimous people of Rome with
devastation and murder; then, at the tame cattle before the altars.
Heavens! thought I to myself, how times are changed!  Could ever
Vespasian have imagined his amphitheatre would have been thus inhabited?
I passed on, making these reflections, to a dark arcade, overgrown with
ilex.  In the openings which time and violence have made, a distant grove
of cypresses discover themselves; springing from heaps of mouldering
ruins, relieved by a clear transparent sky, strewed with a few red
clouds.  This was the sort of prospect I desired, and I sat down on a
shattered frieze to enjoy it.  Many stories of ancient Rome thronged into
my mind as I mused; triumphal scenes, but tempered by sadness, and the
awful thoughts of their being all passed away.  It would be in vain to
recapitulate the ideas which chased one another along.  Think where I
sat, and you may easily conjecture the series.  When the procession was
fleeted by (for I not only thought, but seemed to see warriors moving
amongst the cypresses, and consuls returning from Parthian expeditions,
loaded with strange spoils, and received with the acclamations of
millions upon entering the theatre), I arose, crossed the arena, paced
several times round and round, looked up to arcade rising above arcade,
and admiring the stately height and masses of the structure, considered
it in various points of view, and felt, as if I never should be satisfied
with gazing, hour after hour, and day after day.  Next, directing my
steps to the arch of Constantine, I surveyed the groups of ruins which
surrounded me.  The cool breeze of the evening played in the beds of
canes and osiers which flourished under the walls of the Coliseo: a cloud
of birds were upon the wing to regain their haunts in its crevices; and,
except the sound of their flight, all was silent; for happily no
carriages were rattling along.  I observed the palace and obelisk of St.
John of Lateran, at a distance; but it was too late to take a nearer
survey; so, returning leisurely home, I traversed the Campo Vaccino, and
leaned a moment against one of the columns which supported the temple of
Jupiter Stator.  Some women were fetching water from the fountain hard
by, whilst another group had kindled a fire under the shrubs and twisted
fig-trees, which cover the Palatine Hill.  Innumerable vaults and arches
peep out of the vegetation.  It was upon these, in all probability, the
splendid palace of the Cæsars was raised.  Confused fragments of marble,
and walls of lofty terraces, are the sole traces of its ancient
magnificence.  A wretched rabble were roasting their chestnuts, on the
very spot, perhaps, where Domitian convened a senate, to harangue upon
the delicacies of his entertainment.  The light of the flame cast upon
the figures around it, and the mixture of tottering wall with foliage
impending above their heads, formed a striking picture, which I stayed
contemplating from my pillar, till the fire went out, the assembly
dispersed, and none remained but a withered hag, raking the embers, and
muttering to herself.  I thought also it was high time to retire, lest
the unwholesome mists, which were streaming from the opening before the
Coliseo, might make me repent my stay.  Whether they had already taken
effect, or no, I will not absolutely determine; but something or other
had grievously disordered me.  A few centuries ago I should have taxed
the old hag with my headache, and have attributed the uncommon oppression
I experienced to her baleful power.  Hastening to my hotel, I mounted
into the open portico upon its summit, nearly upon a level with the Villa
Medici, and sat, several hours, with my arms folded in one another,
listening to the distant rumours of the town.  It had been a fine moment
to have bestrode one of the winds which piped around me, offering, no
doubt, some compact from Lucifer.

_November_ 1_st_.—Though you find I am not yet snatched away from the
earth, according to my last night’s bodings, I was far too restless and
dispirited to deliver my recommendatory letters.  St. Carlos, a mighty
day of gala at Naples, was an excellent excuse for leaving Rome, and
indulging my roving disposition.  After spending my morning at St.
Peter’s, we set off about four o’clock, and drove by the Coliseo and a
Capuchin convent, whose monks were all busied in preparing the skeletons
of their order, to figure by torchlight in the evening.  St. John’s of
Lateran astonished me.  I could not help walking several times round the
obelisk, and admiring the noble open space in which the palace is
erected, and the extensive scene of towers and aqueducts discovered from
the platform in front.

We went out at the Porta Appia, and began to perceive the plains which
surround the city opening on every side.  Long reaches of walls and
arches, but seldom interrupted, stretch across them.  Sometimes, indeed,
a withered pine, lifting itself up to the mercy of every blast that
sweeps the champagne, breaks their uniformity.  Between the aqueducts to
the left, nothing but wastes of fern, or tracts of ploughed lands, dark
and desolate, are visible, the corn not being yet sprung up.  On the
right, several groups of ruined fanes and sepulchres diversify the
levels, with here and there a garden or woody inclosure.  Such objects
are scattered over the landscape, that towards the horizon bulges into
gentle ascents, and, rising by degrees, swells at length into a chain of
mountains, which received the pale gleams of the sun, setting in watery
clouds.

By this uncertain light we discovered the white buildings of Albano,
sprinkled about the steeps.  We had not many moments to contemplate them,
for it was night when we passed the Torre di mezza via, and began
breathing a close pestilential vapour.  Half suffocated, and recollecting
a variety of terrifying tales about the malaria, we advanced, not without
fear, to Veletri, and hardly ventured to fall asleep when arrived there.

_November_ 2_nd_.—I arose at daybreak, and forgetting fevers and
mortalities, ran into a level meadow without the town, whilst the horses
were putting to the carriage.  Why should I calumniate the air? it seemed
purer and more transparent than any I had before inhaled.  The mountains
were covered with thin mists, and the morning star sparkled above their
summits.  Birds were twittering amongst some sheds and bushes, which
border the sides of the road.  A chestnut hung over it, against which I
leaned till the chaise came up.  Being perfectly alone, and not
discovering any trace of the neighbouring city, I fancied myself existing
in the ancient days of Hesperia, and hoped to meet Picus in his woods
before the evening.  But, instead of those shrill clamours which used to
echo through the thickets when Pan joined with mortals in the chase, I
heard the rumbling of our carriage, and the curses of its postillions.
Mounting a horse, I flew before them, and seemed to catch inspiration
from the breezes.  Now I turned my eyes to the ridge of precipices, in
whose grots and caverns Saturn and his people passed their life; then to
the distant ocean.  Afar off rose the cliffs, so famous for Circe’s
incantations, and the whole line of coast, which was once covered with
her forests.

Whilst I was advancing with full speed, the sunbeams began to shoot
athwart the mountains, the plains to light up by degrees, and their
shrubberies of myrtle to glisten with dewdrops.  The sea brightened, and
the Circean rock soon glowed with purple.  I never felt my spirits so
exhilarated, and they could not have flowed with more vivacity, even had
I tasted the cup which Helen gave Telemachus.  You will think me gone
wild when I tell you I was, in a manner, drunk with the dews of the
morning, and so enraptured with the prospects which lay before me as to
address them in verse, and compose charms to dispel the enchantments of
Circe.  All day were we approaching her rock; towards evening Terracina
appeared before us, in a bold romantic site; house above house, and
turret looking over turret, on the steeps of a mountain, inclosed with
mouldering walls, and crowned by the ruined terraces of a delightful
palace: one of those, perhaps, which the luxurious Romans inhabited
during the summer, when so free and lofty an exposition (the sea below,
with its gales and murmurs) must have been exquisitely agreeable.  Groves
of orange and citron hang on the declivity, rough with the Indian fig,
whose bright red flowers, illuminated by the sun, had a magic splendour.
A palm-tree, growing on the highest crag, adds not a little to its
singular appearance.  Being the largest I had ever seen, and clustered
with fruit, I climbed up the rocks to take a close survey of it, and
found a spring trickling near its fount, bordered by fresh herbage.  On
this I stretched myself on the very edge of the precipice, and looking
down upon the beach, and glassy plains of ocean, exclaimed with Martial:

    “O nemua!  O fentes! solidumque madentis arenæ
    Littus, et æquoreis splendidus Anxur aquis!”

Glancing my eyes athwart the sea, I fixed them on the Circean promontory,
which lies right opposite to Terracina, joined to the continent by a very
narrow strip of land, and appearing like an island.  The roar of the
waves lashing the base of the precipices, might still be thought the howl
of savage monsters; but where are those woods which shaded the dome of
the goddess?  Scarce a tree appears.  A few thickets, and but a few, are
the sole remains of this once impenetrable vegetation; yet even these I
longed to visit, such was my predilection for the spot.

Who knows but Circe might have led me to some other palace, in a more
secret and retired vale, where she dwells remote from modern mariners,
and the present inhabitants of her environs; universally changed to swine
for these many ages?  Their metamorphoses being so thoroughly established
as to leave no further pretence for her operations, I can imagine her
given up to solitude, and the consciousness of her potent influence.
Notwithstanding the risks of the adventure, I wished to have attempted
it, and seen whether she would have allowed me, as night came on, to warm
myself by her cedar fire, and hear her captivating song.  Perhaps, had
the goddess been propitious, I might have culled some herbs of wondrous
efficacy.  You recollect, I dare say, how renowned the cliff was for
them, and remember that Circe’s attendants, deeply skilled, like their
mistress, in pharmacy, were continually gathering plants in the woods and
wilds which enriched her abode.  It was thus the companions of Ulysses
found them employed, when, entering her palace, they unwarily drank the
beverage she offered.  Ovid has told this story in a masterly manner, and
formed a lively picture of the magic dome, with the occupations of its
inhabitants.  We see them judiciously arranging their plants, whilst
Circe directs and points out, with the nicest discernment, the simple and
compound virtues of every flower.

Descending the cliff, and pursuing our route to Mola along the shore, by
a grand road formed on the ruins of the Appian, we drove under an
enormous perpendicular rock, standing detached, like a watch-tower, and
cut into arsenals and magazines.  Day closed just as we got beyond it,
and a new moon gleamed faintly on the waters.  We saw fires afar off in
the bay, some twinkling on the coast, others upon the waves, and heard
the murmur of voices; for the night was still and solemn, like that of
Cajetas’s funeral.  I looked anxiously on a sea, where the heroes of the
Odyssey and Æneid had sailed in search of fate and empire, then closed my
eyes, and dreamed of those illustrious wanderers.

Nine struck when we arrived at Mola di Cajeta.  The boats were just
coming in (whose lights we had seen out upon the main), and brought such
fish as Neptune, I dare say, would have grudged Æneas and Ulysses.

_November_ 3_rd_.—The morning was soft, but hazy.  I walked in a grove of
oranges, white with blossoms, and at the same time glowing with fruit,
some of which I obtained leave to gather.  The spot sloped pleasantly
towards the sea, and here I amused myself with my agreeable occupation
till the horses were ready, then set off on the Appian, between hedges of
myrtle and aloes, catching fresh gales from the sea as I flew along, and
breathing the perfume of an aromatic vegetation, which covers the fields
on the shore.  We observed variety of towns, with battlemented walls and
ancient turrets, crowning the pinnacles of rocky steeps, surrounded by
wilds, and rude uncultivated mountains.  The Liris, now Garigliano, winds
its peaceful course through wide extensive meadows, scattered over with
the remains of aqueducts, and waters the base of the rocks I have just
mentioned.  Such a prospect could not fail of bringing Virgil’s panegyric
of Italy full in my mind:

    “Tot congesta manu præruptis oppida saxis
    Fluminaque antiquos suhterlabentia muros.”

As soon as we arrived in sight of Capua, the sky darkened, clouds covered
the horizon, and presently poured down such deluges of rain as floated
the whole country.  The gloom was general; Vesuvius disappeared just
after we had the pleasure of discovering it; lightning began to flash
with dreadful rapidity, and people to run frightened to their houses.  At
four o’clock darkness universally prevailed, except when a livid glare of
lightning presented momentary glimpses of the bay and mountains.  We
lighted torches, and forded several torrents almost at the hazard of our
lives.  The fields round Naples were filled with herds, lowing most
piteously, and yet not half so much scared as their masters, who ran
about cursing and swearing like Indians during the eclipse of the moon.
I knew Vesuvius had often put their courage to proof, but little thought
of an inundation occasioning such commotions.

For three hours the storm increased in violence, and instead of entering
Naples on a calm evening, and viewing its delightful shores by
moonlight—instead of finding the squares and terraces thronged with
people and animated by music, we advanced with fear and terror through
dark streets totally deserted, every creature being shut up in their
houses, and we heard nothing but driving rain, rushing torrents, and the
fall of fragments beaten down by their violence.  Our inn, like every
other habitation, was in great disorder, and we waited a long while
before we could settle in our apartments with any comfort.  All night the
waves roared round the rocky foundations of a fortress beneath my
windows, and the lightning played clear in my eyes.  I could not sleep,
and was full as disturbed as the elements.

_November_ 4_th_.—Peace was restored to nature in the morning, but every
mouth was full of the dreadful accidents which had happened in the night.
The sky was cloudless when I awoke, and such was the transparence of the
atmosphere that I could clearly discern the rocks, and even some white
buildings on the island of Caprea, though at the distance of several
miles.  A large window fronts my bed, and its casements being thrown
open, gives me a vast prospect of ocean, uninterrupted except by the
peaks of Caprea and the Cape of Sorento.  I lay half an hour gazing on
the smooth level waters, and listening to the confused voices of the
fishermen, passing and repassing in light skiffs, which came and
disappeared in an instant.

Running to the balcony the moment my eyes were fairly open (for till then
I saw objects, I know not how, as one does in dreams), I leaned over its
rails, and viewed Vesuvius rising distinct into the blue ether, with all
that world of gardens and casinos which are scattered about its base;
then looked down into the street, deep below, thronged with people in
holiday garments, and carriages, and soldiers in full parade.  The woody,
variegated shore of Posilipo next drew my attention.  It was on those
very rocks, under those tall pines, Sannazaro was wont to sit by
moonlight, or at peep of dawn, holding converse with the Nereids.  ’Tis
there he still sleeps; and I wished to have gone immediately and strewed
coral over his tomb, but I was obliged to check my impatience, and hurry
to the palace in form and gala.

A courtly mob had got thither upon the same errand, daubed over with lace
and most notably be-periwigged.  Nothing but—bows and salutations were
going forward on the staircase, one of the largest I ever beheld, and
which a multitude of prelates and friars were ascending in all the pomp
of awkwardness.  I jostled along to the presence chamber, where his
Majesty was dining alone in a circular inclosure of fine clothes and
smirking faces.  The moment he had finished, twenty long necks were poked
forth, and it was a glorious struggle amongst some of the most decorated
who first should kiss his hand.  Doing so was the great business of the
day, and everybody pressed forward to the best of their abilities.  His
Majesty seemed to eye nothing but the end of his nose, which is doubtless
a capital object.

Though people have imagined him a weak monarch, I beg leave to differ in
opinion, since he has the boldness to prolong his childhood and be happy,
in spite of years and conviction.  Give him a boar to stab, and a pigeon
to shoot at, a battledore or an angling rod, and he is better contented
than Solomon in all his glory, and will never discover, like that sapient
sovereign, that all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

His courtiers in general have rather a barbaric appearance, and differ
little in the character of their physiognomies from the most savage
nations.  I should have taken them for Calmucks or Samoieds, had it not
been for their dresses and European finery.

You may suppose I was not sorry, after my presentation was over, to
return to Sir W.’s and hear Lady H. play, whose music breathes the most
pastoral Sicilian ideas, and transports me to green meads on the
sea-coast, where I wander with Theocritus.

The evening was passing swiftly away in this delightful excursion of
fancy, and I had almost forgotten there was a grand illumination at the
theatre of St. Carlo.  After traversing a number of dark streets, we
suddenly entered this enormous edifice, whose six rows of boxes blazed
with tapers.  I never beheld such lofty walls of light, nor so pompous a
decoration as covered the stage.  Marchesi was singing in the midst of
all these splendours some of the poorest music imaginable, with the
clearest and most triumphant voice, perhaps, in the universe.

It was some time before I could look to any purpose around me, or
discover what animals inhabited this glittering world: such was its size
and glare.  At last I perceived vast numbers of ugly beings, in gold and
silver raiment, peeping out of their boxes.  The court being present, a
tolerable silence was maintained, but the moment his Majesty withdrew
(which great event took place at the beginning of the second act) every
tongue broke loose, and nothing but buzz and hubbub filled up the rest of
the entertainment.

The last ballet, formed upon the old story of “Le Festin de Pierre,” had
wonderful effect, and terminated in the most striking perspective of the
infernal region.  Picq danced incomparably, and Signora Rossi led the
Fandango, with a grace and activity that pleased me beyond idea.  Music
was never more rapturous than that which accompanies this dance.  It
quite enchanted me, and I longed to have sprung upon the stage.  The
cadence is so strongly marked by the castanets, that it is almost
impossible to be out of time; and the rapidity of steps and varied
movements scarcely allows a moment to think of being tired.  I should
imagine the eternal dance, with which certain tribes of American savages
think they are to be rewarded in a future existence, might be formed
somewhat on this model.  Indeed the Fandango arrived in Spain with the
conquerors of the other hemisphere, and is far too lively and extatic to
be of European original.

_November_ 6_th_.—Till to-day we have had nothing but rains; the sea
covered with mists, and Caprea invisible.  Would you believe it?  I have
not yet been able to mount to St. Elmo and the Capo di Monte, in order to
take a general view of the town.

At length a bright gleam of sunshine roused me from my slumbers, and
summoned me to the broad terrace of Chiaja, directly above the waters and
commanding the whole coast of Posilipo.  Insensibly I drew towards it,
and (you know the pace I run when out upon discoveries) soon reached the
entrance of the grotto, which lay in dark shades, whilst the crags that
lower over it were brightly illumined.  Shrubs and vines grow luxuriantly
in the crevices of the rock; and their fresh yellow colours, variegated
with ivy, have a beautiful effect.  To the right a grove of pines sprung
from the highest pinnacles: on the left, bay and chestnut conceal the
tomb of Virgil, placed on the summit of a cliff which impends over the
opening of the grotto, and is fringed with a florid vegetation.  Beneath
are several wide apertures hollowed in the solid stone, which lead to
caverns sixty or seventy feet in depth, where a number of peasants, who
were employed in quarrying, made such a noise with their tools and their
voices as almost inclined me to wish the Cimmerians would start from
their subterraneous habitations, and sacrifice these profane to the
Manes.

Walking out of the sunshine, I seated myself on a loose stone immediately
beneath the first gloomy arch of the grotto, and looking down the vast
and solemn perspective, terminated by a speck of grey uncertain light,
venerated a work which some old chroniclers have imagined as ancient as
the Trojan war.  ’Twas here the mysterious race I have just mentioned
performed their infernal rites, and it was this excavation perhaps which
led to their abode.

The Neapolitans attribute a more modern, though full as problematical an
origin to their famous cavern, and most piously believe it to have been
formed by the enchantments of Virgil, who, as Mr. Addison very justly
observes, is better known at Naples in his magical character, than as the
author of the Æneid.  This strange infatuation most probably arose from
the vicinity of the tomb, in which his ashes are supposed to have been
deposited; and which, according to popular tradition, was guarded by
those very spirits who assisted in constructing the cave.  But whatever
may have given rise to these ideas, certain it is they were not confined
to the lower ranks alone.  King Robert, {240} a wise though far from
poetical monarch, conducted his friend Petrarch with great solemnity to
the spot; and, pointing to the entrance of the grotto, very gravely asked
him, whether he did not adopt the general belief, and conclude this
stupendous passage derived its origin from Virgil’s powerful
incantations?  The answer, I think, may easily be conjectured.

When I had sat for some time, contemplating this dusky avenue, and trying
to persuade myself that it was hewn by the Cimmerians, I retreated
without proceeding any farther, and followed a narrow path which led me,
after some windings and turnings, along the brink of the precipice,
across a vineyard, to that retired nook of the rocks which shelters
Virgil’s tomb, most venerably mossed over, and more than half concealed
by bushes and vegetation.  Drops of dew were distilling from the niches
of the little chamber, which once contained his urn, and heaps of
withered leaves had gathered on the pavement.  Amongst these I crept to
eat some grapes and biscuits, having duly scattered a few crumbs as a
sort of offering to the invisible guardians of the place.  I believe they
were sensible of my piety, and, as a reward, kept vagabonds and clowns
away.

The one who conducted me remained aloof at awful distance, whilst I sat
commercing with the manes of my beloved poet, or straggling about the
shrubbery which hangs directly above the mouth of the grot.  I wonder I
did not visit the eternal shades sooner that I expected, for no squirrel
ever skipped from bough to bough more venturously.  One instant I climbed
up the branches of a chestnut, and sat almost on its extremity, my feet
impending over the chasm below; another I boldly advanced to the edge of
the rock, and saw crowds of people and carriages, diminished by distance,
issuing from the bosom of the mountain, and disappearing almost as soon
as discovered in the windings of its road.  Having clambered high above
the cavern, I hazarded my neck on the top of one of the pines, and looked
contemptuously down on the race of pigmies that were so busily moving to
and fro.  The sun was fiercer than I could have wished, but the
sea-breezes fanned me in my aërial situation, which commanded the grand
sweep of the bay, varied by convents, palaces, and gardens, mixed with
huge masses of rock and crowned by the stately buildings of the
Carthusians and fortress of St. Elmo.  Add a glittering blue sea to this
perspective, with Caprea rising from its bosom, and Vesuvius breathing
forth a white column of smoke into the ether, and you will then have a
scene upon which I gazed with delight, for more than an hour, almost
forgetting that I was perched upon the head of a pine, with nothing but a
frail branch to uphold me.  However, I descended alive, as Virgil’s
genii, I am resolved to believe, were my protectors.



LETTER XXIII.


_November_ 8_th_.—This morning I awoke in the glow of sunshine; the air
blew fresh and fragrant; never did I feel more elastic and enlivened.  A
brisker flow of spirits than I had for many a day experienced, animated
me with a desire of rambling about the shore of Baii, and creeping into
caverns and subterraneous chambers.  Off I set along Chiaja, and up
strange paths which impend over the grotto of Posilipo, amongst the
thickets mentioned a letter or two ago; for in my present lively humour,
I disdained ordinary roads, and would take paths and ways of my own.  A
society of kids did not understand what I meant by intruding upon their
precipices; and scrambling away, scattered sand and fragments upon the
good people that were trudging along the pavement below.

I went on from pine to pine, and thicket to thicket, upon the brink of
rapid declivities.  My conductor, a shrewd savage, whom Sir William had
recommended to me, cheered our route with stories that had passed in the
neighbourhood, and traditions about the grot over which we were
travelling.  I wish you had been of the party, and sat down by us on
little smooth spots of sward, where I reclined, scarcely knowing which
way caprice was leading me.  My mind was full of the tales of the place,
and glowed with a vehement desire of exploring the world beyond the grot.
I longed to ascend the promontory of Misenus, and follow the same dusky
route down which the Sibyl conducted Æneas.

With these dispositions I proceeded; and soon the cliffs and copses
opened to views of the Baian bay, with the little isles of Niscita and
Lazaretto lifting themselves out of the waters.  Procita and Ischia
appeared at a distance, invested with that purple bloom so inexpressibly
beautiful, and peculiar to this fortunate climate.  I hailed the prospect
and blessed the transparent air that gave me life and vigour to run down
the rocks, and hie as fast as my savage across the plain to Puzzoli.
There we took bark and rowed out into the blue ocean, by the remains of a
sturdy mole: many such, I imagine, adorned the bay in Roman ages crowned
by vast lengths of slender pillars; pavilions at their extremities, and
taper cypresses spiring above their balustrades: this character of villa
occurs very frequently in the paintings of Herculaneum.

We had soon crossed the bay, and landing on a bushy coast, near some
fragments of a temple which they say was raised to Hercules, advanced
into the country by narrow tracks covered with moss and strewed with
shining pebbles; to the right and left, broad masses of luxuriant
foliage, chestnut, bay, and ilex, that shelter the ruins of columbariums
and sepulchral chambers, where the dead sleep snug amongst rampant
herbage.  The region was still, save when a cock crew from the hamlets,
which, as well as the tombs, are almost concealed by thickets.  No
parties of smart Englishmen and connoisseurs were about.  I had all the
land to myself, and mounted its steeps and penetrated into its recesses,
with the importance of a discoverer.  What a variety of narrow paths,
between banks and shades, did I wildly follow! my savage laughing loud at
my odd gestures and useless activity.  He wondered I did not scrape the
ground for medals, and pocket little bits of plaster, like other
plausible young travellers that had gone before me.

After ascending some time, I followed him into the Piscina Mirabilis, the
wondrous reservoir which Nero constructed to supply his fleet, when
anchored in the neighbouring bay.  ’Tis a grand labyrinth of solid vaults
and pillars, as you well know, but you cannot conceive the partial gleams
of sunshine which played on the arches, nor the variety of roots and
ivies trailing from the cove.  A noise of trickling waters prevailed,
that had almost lulled me to sleep as I rested myself on the celandine
which carpets the floor; but curiosity urging me forward, I gained the
upper air; walked amongst woods a few minutes, and then into grots and
dismal excavations (prisons they call them), which began to weary me.

After having gone up and down in this manner for some time, we at last
reached an eminence that looked over the Mare Morto, and Elysian fields
trembling with poplars.  The Dead Lake, a faithful emblem of eternal
tranquillity, looked deep and solemn.  A few peasants were passing along
its margin, their shadows reflected on the water: all was serene and
peaceful.  Turning from the lake I espied a rock at about a league
distant, whose summit was clad with verdure, and finding this to be the
promontory of Misenus, I immediately set my face to that quarter.

We passed several dirty villages, inhabited by an ill-favoured
generation, infamous for depredations and murders.  Their gardens,
however, discover some marks of industry; the fields are separated by
neat hedges of cane, and corn seemed to flourish in the inclosures.

I walked on with slowness and deliberation, musing at every step, and
stopping ever and anon to rest myself by springs and tufted bay-trees;
when insensibly we began to leave the cultivated lands behind us, and to
lose ourselves in shady wilds, which, to all appearance, no mortal had
ever trodden.  Here were no paths, no enclosures; a primeval rudeness
characterized the whole scene,—

       “Juvat arva videre,
    Non rastris, hominum non ulli obnoxia curæ.”

The idea of going almost out of the world, soothed the tone of mind into
which a variety of affecting recollections had thrown me.  I formed
conjectures about the promontory to which we were tending; and when I
cast my eyes around the savage landscape, transported myself four
thousand years into antiquity, and half persuaded myself I was one of
Æneas’s companions.  After forcing our way about a mile through glades of
shrubs and briars, we entered a verdant opening at the base of the cliff
which takes its name from Misenus.  The poets of the Augustan age would
have celebrated such a meadow with the warmest raptures; they would have
discovered a nymph in every flower, and detected a dryad under every
tree.  Doubtless imagination never formed a lovelier prospect.  Here were
clear streams and grassy hillocks, leafy shrubs and cypresses spiring out
of their bosom,—

    “Et circum irriguo surgebant lilia prato
    Candida purpureis mista papaveribus.”

But as it is not the lot of human animals to be contented, instead of
reposing in the vale, I scaled the rock, and was three parts dissolved in
attaining its summit,—a flat spot covered with herbage, where I lay
contemplating the ocean, and fanned by its breezes.  The sun darted upon
my head; I wished to avoid its immediate influence: no tree was near.
Deep below lay the pleasant valley: ’twas a long way to descend.  Looking
round and round, I spied something like a hut, under a crag on the edge
of a dark fissure.  Might I avail myself of its covert?  My conductor
answered in the affirmative, and added that it was inhabited by a good
old woman, who never refused a cup of milk, or slice of bread, to refresh
a weary traveller.

Thirst and fatigue urged me speedily down an intervening slope of stunted
myrtle.  Though oppressed with heat, I could not help deviating a few
steps from the direct path to notice the uncouth rocks which rose
frowning on every quarter.  Above the hut, their appearance was truly
formidable; dark ivy crept among the crevices, and dwarf aloes with sharp
spines, such as Lucifer himself might be supposed to have sown.  Indeed,
I knew not whether I was not approaching some gate that leads to his
abode, as I drew near a gulph (the fissure lately mentioned) and heard
the hollow gusts which were imprisoned below.  The savage, my guide,
shuddered as he passed by to apprise the old woman of my coming.  I felt
strangely, and stared around me, and but half liked my situation.  To say
truth, I wished myself away, and heartily regretted the green vale.

In the midst of my doubts, forth tottered the old woman.  “You are
welcome,” said she, in a feeble voice, but a better dialect than I had
heard in the neighbourhood.  Her look was more humane, and she seemed of
a superior race to the inhabitants of the surrounding valleys.  My savage
treated her with peculiar deference.  She had just given him some bread,
with which he retired to a respectful distance, bowing to the earth.  I
caught the mode, and was very obsequious, thinking myself on the point of
experiencing a witch’s influence, and gaining, perhaps, some insight into
the volume of futurity.  She smiled at my agitation, and kept beckoning
me into the cottage.

“Now,” thought I to myself, “I am upon the verge of an adventure.  O
Quixote!  O Sylvio di Rosalva! how would ye have strutted in such a
situation!  What fair Infantas would ye not have expected to behold,
condemned to spinning wheels, and solitude?”  I, alas! saw nothing but
clay walls, a straw bed, some glazed earthen bowls, and a wooden
crucifix.  My shoes were loaded with sand: this my hostess perceived, and
immediately kindling a fire in an inner part of the hovel, brought out
some warm water to refresh my feet, and set some milk and chestnuts
before me.  This patriarchal politeness was by no means indifferent after
my tiresome ramble.  I sat down opposite to the door which fronted the
unfathomable gulph; beyond appeared the sea, of a deep cerulean, foaming
with waves.  The sky also was darkening apace with storms.  Sadness came
over me like a cloud, and I looked up to the old woman for consolation.

“And you too are sorrowful, young stranger,” said she, “that come from
the gay world!  How must I feel, who pass year after year in these lonely
mountains?”  I answered that the weather affected me, and my spirits were
exhausted by the walk.

All the while I spoke she looked at me with such a melancholy earnestness
that I asked the cause, and began again to imagine myself in some fatal
habitation,

                  “Where more is meant than meets the ear.”

Said she, “Your features are wonderfully like those of an unfortunate
young person, who, in this retirement . . . ”  The tears began to fall as
she pronounced these words; she seemed older than before, and bent to the
ground with sorrow.  My curiosity was fired.  “Tell me,” continued I,
“what you mean? who was this youth for whom you are so interested? and
why did he seclude himself in this wild region?  Your kindness might no
doubt alleviate, in some measure, the horrors of the place; but may God
defend me from passing the night near such a gulph!  I would not trust
myself in a despairing moment.”

“It is,” said she, “a place of horrors.  I tremble to relate what has
happened on this very spot; but your manner interests me, and though I am
little given to narrations, for once I will unlock my lips concerning the
secrets of yonder fatal chasm.

“I was born in a distant part of Italy, and have known better days.  In
my youth fortune smiled upon my family, but in a few years they withered
away; no matter by what accident.  I am not going, however, to talk of
myself.  Have patience a few moments!  A series of unfortunate events
reduced me to indigence, and drove me to this desert, where, from rearing
goats and making their milk into cheese, by a different method than is
common in the Neapolitan State, I have, for about thirty years, prolonged
a sorrowful existence.  My silent grief and constant retirement had made
me appear to some a saint, and to others a sorceress.  The slight
knowledge I have of plants has been exaggerated, and, some years back,
the hours I gave up to prayer, and the recollection of former friends,
lost to me for ever! were cruelly intruded upon by the idle and the
ignorant.  But soon I sank into obscurity; my little recipes were
disregarded, and you are the first stranger who, for these twelve months
past, has visited my abode.  Ah, would to God its solitude had ever
remained inviolate!

“It is now three-and-twenty years,” and she looked upon some characters
cut on the planks of the cottage, “since I was sitting by moonlight,
under that cliff you view to the right, my eyes fixed on the ocean, my
mind lost in the memory of my misfortunes, when I heard a step, and
starting up, a figure stood before me.  It was a young man, in a rich
habit, with streaming hair, and looks that bespoke the utmost terror.  I
knew not what to think of this sudden apparition.  ‘Mother,’ said he with
faltering accents, ‘let me rest under your roof; and deliver me not up to
those who thirst after my blood.  Take this gold; take all, all!’

“Surprise held me speechless; the purse fell to the ground; the youth
stared wildly on every side: I heard many voices beyond the rocks; the
wind bore them distinctly, but presently they died away.  I took courage,
and assured the youth my cot should shelter him.  ‘Oh! thank you, thank
you!’ answered he, and pressed my hand.  He shared my scanty provision.

“Overcome with toil (for I had worked hard in the day), sleep closed my
eyes for a short interval.  When I awoke the moon was set, but I heard my
unhappy guest sobbing in darkness.  I disturbed him not.  Morning dawned,
and he was fallen into a slumber.  The tears bubbled out of his closed
eyelids, and coursed one another down his wan cheeks.  I had been too
wretched myself not to respect the sorrows of another: neglecting
therefore my accustomed occupations, I drove away the flies that buzzed
around his temples.  His breast heaved high with sighs, and he cried
loudly in his sleep for mercy.

“The beams of the sun dispelling his dream, he started up like one that
had heard the voice of an avenging angel, and hid his face with his
hands.  I poured some milk down his parched throat.  ‘Oh, mother!’ he
exclaimed, ‘I am a wretch unworthy of compassion; the cause of
innumerable sufferings; a murderer! a parricide!’  My blood curdled to
hear a stripling utter such dreadful words, and behold such agonising
sighs swell in so young a bosom; for I marked the sting of conscience
urging him to disclose what I am going to relate.

“It seems he was of high extraction, nursed in the pomps and luxuries of
Naples, the pride and darling of his parents, adorned with a thousand
lively talents, which the keenest sensibility conspired to improve.
Unable to fix any bounds to whatever became the object of his desires, he
passed his first years in roving from one extravagance to another, but as
yet there was no crime in his caprices.

“At length it pleased Heaven to visit his family, and make their idol the
slave of an unworthy passion.  He had a friend, who from his birth had
been devoted to his interest, and placed all his confidence in him.  This
friend loved to distraction a young creature, the most graceful of her
sex (as I can witness), and she returned his affection.  In the
exultation of his heart, he showed her to the wretch whose tale I am
about to tell.  He sickened at her sight.  She too caught fire at his
glances.  They languished—they consumed away—they conversed, and his
persuasive language finished what his guilty glances had begun.

“Their flame was soon discovered, for he disdained to conceal a thought,
however dishonourable.  The parents warned the youth in the tenderest
manner; but advice and prudent counsels were to him so loathsome, that
unable to contain his rage, and infatuated with love, he menaced the life
of his friend as the obstacle of his enjoyment.  Coolness and moderation
were opposed to violence and frenzy, and he found himself treated with a
contemptuous gentleness.  Stricken to the heart, he wandered about for
some time like one entranced.  Meanwhile the nuptials were preparing; and
the lovely girl he had perverted found ways to let him know she was about
to be torn from his embraces.

“He raved, and rousing his dire spirit, applied to a malignant dæmon who
sold the most inveterate poisons.  These he presented, like a cup of pure
iced water, to his friend, and to his own affectionate father.  They
drank the draught, and soon began to pine.  He marked the progress of
their dissolution with a horrid firmness.  He let the moment pass beyond
which all antidotes were vain.  His friend expired; and the young
criminal, though he beheld the dews of death hang on his parent’s
forehead, yet stretched not forth his hand.  In a short space the
miserable father breathed his last, whilst his son was sitting aloof in
the same chamber.

“The sight overcame him.  He felt, for the first time, the pangs of
remorse.  His agitation passed not unnoticed.  He was watched: suspicions
beginning to unfold, he took alarm, and one evening escaped; but not
without previously informing the partner of his crimes which way he
intended to flee.  Several pursued; but the inscrutable will of
Providence blinded their search, and I was doomed to behold the effects
of celestial vengeance.

“Such are the chief circumstances of the tale I gathered from the youth.
I swooned whilst he related it, and could take no sustenance.  One whole
day afterwards did I pray the Lord, that I might die rather than be near
an incarnate demon.  With what indignation did I now survey that slender
form and those flowing tresses, which had interested me before so much in
his behalf!

“No sooner did he perceive the change in my countenance, than sullenly
retiring to yonder rock, he sat careless of the sun and scorching winds;
for it was now the summer solstice.  Equally was he heedless of the
unwholesome dews.  When midnight came my horrors were augmented; and I
meditated several times to abandon my hovel, and fly to the next village;
but a power more than human chained me to the spot and fortified my mind.

“I slept, and it was late next morning when some one called at the wicket
of the little fold, where my goats are penned.  I arose, and saw a
peasant of my acquaintance leading a female strangely muffled up, and
casting her eyes on the ground.  My heart misgave me.  I thought this was
the very maid who had been the cause of such unheard-of wickedness.  Nor
were my conjectures ill-founded.  Regardless of the clown who stood by in
stupid astonishment, she fell to the earth and bathed my hand with tears.
Her trembling lips with difficulty inquired after the youth; and, as she
spoke, a glow of conscious guilt lightened up her pale countenance.

“The full recollection of her lover’s crimes shot through my memory.  I
was incensed, and would have spurned her away; but she clung to my
garments and seemed to implore my pity with a look so full of misery,
that, relenting, I led her in silence to the extremity of the cliff where
the youth was seated, his feet dangling above the sea.  His eye was
rolling wildly around, but it soon fixed upon the object for whose sake
he had doomed himself to perdition.

“I am not inclined to describe their ecstasies, or the eagerness with
which they sought each other’s embraces.  I turned indignantly my head;
and, driving my goats to a recess amongst the rocks, sat revolving in my
mind these strange events.  I neglected procuring any provision for my
unwelcome guests; and about midnight returned homewards by the light of
the moon, which shone serenely in the heavens.  Almost the first object
her beams discovered was the guilty maid sustaining the head of her
lover, who had fainted through weakness and want of nourishment.  I
fetched some dry bread, and, dipping it in milk, laid it before them.
Having performed this duty I set open the door of my hut, and retiring to
a neighbouring cavity, there stretched myself on a heap of leaves, and
offered my prayers to Heaven.

“A thousand fears, till this moment unknown, thronged into my fancy.  I
mistook the shadow of leaves, that chequered the entrance to the grot,
for ugly reptiles, and repeatedly shook my garments.  The flow of the
distant surges was deepened by my apprehensions into distant groans: in a
word, I could not rest; but issuing from the cavern as hastily as my
trembling knees would allow, paced along the edge of the precipice.  An
unaccountable impulse hurried my steps.  Dark clouds were driving across
the sky, and the setting moon was flushed with the deepest crimson.  A
wan gleam coloured the sea.  Such was my terror and shivering, that,
unable to advance to my hut or retreat to the cavern, I was about to
shield myself from the night in a sandy crevice, when a loud shriek
pierced my ear.  My fears had confused me; I was in fact hard by my
hovel, and scarcely three paces from the brink of the cavern: it was from
thence the cries proceeded.

“Advancing in a cold shudder to its edge, part of which was newly
crumbled in, I discovered the form of the young man suspended by one foot
to a branch of juniper that grew ten feet down: thus dreadfully did he
hang over the gulph from the branch bent with his weight.  His features
were distorted, his eye-balls glared with agony, and his screams became
so shrill and terrible, that I lost all power of assistance.  Fixed, I
stood with my eyes riveted upon the criminal, who incessantly cried out,
‘O God!  O Father! save me, if there be yet mercy! save me, or I sink
into the abyss!’

“I am convinced he saw me not; for not once did he implore my help.  My
heart was dead within me.  I called out upon the Lord.  His voice grew
faint, and as I gazed intent upon him, he fell into utter darkness.  I
sank to the earth in a trance, during which a sound like the rush of
pennons assaulted my ear: methought the evil spirit was bearing off his
soul; I lifted up my eyes, but nothing stirred; the stillness that
prevailed was awful.

“The moon looked stained with streaks of blood; her orb hanging low over
the waves afforded a sickly light, by which I perceived some one coming
down that white cliff you see before you; and soon I heard the voice of
the young woman calling aloud on her guilty lover.  She stopped.  She
repeated again and again her exclamation; but there was no reply.
Alarmed and frantic she hurried along the path, and now I saw her on the
promontory, and now by yonder pine, devouring with her glances every
crevice in the rock.  At length perceiving me, she flew to where I stood,
by the fatal precipice, and having noticed the fragments fresh crumbled
in, pored importunately on my countenance.  I continued pointing to the
chasm; she trembled not; her tears could not flow; but she divined the
meaning.  ‘He is lost!’ said she; ‘the earth has swallowed him! but, as I
have shared with him the highest joy, so will I partake his torments.  I
will follow; dare not to hinder me.’  I shrank back.

“Like the phantoms I have seen in dreams, she glanced beside me; and,
clasping her hands above her head, lifted a steadfast look on the
hemisphere, and viewed the moon with an anxiousness that told me she was
bidding it farewell for ever.  Observing a silken handkerchief on the
ground, with which she had but an hour ago bound her lover’s temples, she
snatched it up, and imprinting it with burning kisses, thrust it into her
bosom.  Once more, expanding her arms in the last act of despair and
miserable passion, she threw herself, with a furious leap, into the
gulph.

“To its margin I crawled on my knees, and, shuddering, looked down into
the gloom.  There I remained in the most dreadful darkness; for now the
moon was sunk, the sky obscured with storms, and a tempestuous blast
ranging the ocean.  Showers poured thick upon me, and the lightning, in
clear and frequent flashes, gave me terrifying glimpses of yonder
accursed chasm.

“Stranger, dost thou believe in the great Being? in our Redeemer? in the
tenets of our faith?”  I answered with reverence, but said I was no
Catholic.  “Then,” continued the aged woman, “I will not declare before a
heretic what were the sacred visions of that night of vengeance!”  She
paused; I was silent.

After a short interval, with deep and frequent sighs, she resumed her
narrative.  “Daylight began to dawn as if with difficulty, and it was
late before its radiance had tinged the watery and tempestuous clouds.  I
was still kneeling by the gulph in prayer when the cliffs began to
brighten, and the beams of the morning sun to strike against me.  Then
did I rejoice.  Then no longer did I think myself of all human beings the
most abject and miserable.  How different did I feel myself from those,
fresh plunged into the abodes of torment, and driven for ever from the
morning!

“Three days elapsed in total solitude: on the fourth, some grave and
ancient persons arrived from Naples, who questioned me, repeatedly, about
the wretched lovers, and to whom I related their fate with every dreadful
particular.  Soon after I learned that all discourse concerning them was
expressly stopped, and that no prayers were offered up for their souls.”

With these words, as well as I recollect, the old woman ended her
singular narration.  My blood thrilled as I walked by the gulph to call
my guide, who stood aloof under the cliffs.  He seemed to think, from the
paleness of my countenance, that I had heard some gloomy prediction, and
shook his head when I turned round to bid my old hostess adieu!  It was a
melancholy evening, and I could not refrain from tears, as, winding
through the defiles of the rocks, the sad scenes which had passed amongst
them recurred to my memory.

Traversing a wild thicket, we soon regained the shore, where I rambled a
few minutes whilst the peasant went for the boatmen.  The last streaks of
light were quivering on the waters when I stepped into the bark, and
wrapping myself up in an awning, slept till we reached Puzzoli, some of
whose inhabitants came forth with torches to light us home.

I was vexed to be roused from my visions, and had much rather have sunk
in some deep cave of the Cimmerians than returned to Naples.



LETTER XXIV.


                                                 NAPLES, _November_ 9_th_.

We made our excursion to Pompeii, passing through Portici, and over the
last lava of Mount Vesuvius.  I experienced a strange mixture of
sensations, on surveying at once the mischiefs of the late eruption, in
the ruin of villages, farms, and vineyards; and all around them the most
luxuriant and delightful scenery of nature.  It was impossible to resist
the impressions of melancholy from viewing the former, or not to admit
that gaiety of spirits which was inspired by the sight of the latter.  I
say nothing of the Museum at Portici, which we saw in our way, on account
of the ample description of its contents already given to the public, and
because it should be described no otherwise than by an exact catalogue,
or by an exhibition of engravings.  An hour and half brought us from this
celebrated repository to Pompeii.  Nothing can be conceived more
delightful than the climate and situation of this city.  It stands upon a
gently-rising hill, which commands the bay of Naples, with the islands of
Caprea and Ischia, the rich coasts of Sorento, the tower of Castel a
Mare; and on the other side, Mount Vesuvius, with the lovely country
intervening.  It is judged to be about an Italian mile long, and three
and a half in circuit.  We entered the city at the little gate which lies
towards Stabiæ.  The first object upon entering is a colonnade round a
square court, which seems to have formed a place of arms.  Behind the
colonnade is a series of little rooms, destined for the soldiers’
barracks.  The columns are of stone, plaistered with stucco and coloured.
On several of them we found names scratched in Greek and Latin; probably
those of the soldiers who had been quartered there.  Helmets and armour
for various parts of the body were discovered amongst the skeletons of
some soldiers, whose hard fate had compelled them to wait on duty, at the
perilous moment of the city’s approaching destruction.  Dolphins and
tridents, sculptured in relief on most of these relics of armour, seem to
show that they had been fabricated for naval service.  Some of the
sculptures on the arms, probably belonging to officers, exhibit a greater
variety of ornaments.  The taking of Troy, wrought on one of the helmets,
is beautifully executed; and much may be said in commendation of the work
of several others.

We were next led to the remains of a temple and altar near these
barracks.  From thence to some rooms floored (as indeed were almost all
that have been cleared from the rubbish) with tesselated mosaic pavements
of various patterns, and most of them of very excellent execution.  Many
of these have been taken up, and now form the floors of the rooms in the
Museum at Portici, whose best ornaments of every kind are furnished from
the discoveries at Pompeii.  From the rooms just mentioned we descended
into a subterraneous chamber, communicating with a bathing apartment.  It
appears to have served as a kind of office to the latter.  It was
probably here that the clothes used in bathing were washed.  A fireplace,
a capacious cauldron of bronze, and earthen vessels, proper for that
purpose, found here, have given rise to the conjecture.  Contiguous to
this room is a small circular one with a fireplace, which was the stove
to the bath.  I should not forget to tell you that the skeleton of the
poor laundress (for so the antiquaries will have it), who was very
diligently washing the bathing clothes at the time of the eruption, was
found lying in an attitude of most resigned death, not far from the
washing cauldron in the office just mentioned.

We were now conducted to the temple, or rather chapel, of Isis.  The
chief remains are a covered cloister; the great altar on which was
probably exhibited the statue of the goddess; a little edifice to protect
the sacred well; the pediment of the chapel, with a symbolical vase in
relief; ornaments in stucco, on the front of the main building,
consisting of the lotus, the sistrum, representations of gods,
Harpocrates, Anubis, and other objects of Egyptian worship.  The figures
on one side of this temple are Perseus with the Gorgon’s head; on the
other side, Mars and Venus, with Cupids bearing the arms of Mars.  We
next observe three altars of different sizes.  On one of them is said to
have been found the bones of a victim unconsumed, the last sacrifice
having probably been stopped by the dreadful calamity which had
occasioned it.  From a niche in the temple was taken a statue of marble:
a woman pressing her lips with her forefinger.  Within the area is a
well, where the priest threw the ashes of the sacrifices.  We saw in the
Museum at Portici some lovely arabesque paintings, cut from the walls of
the cloister.  The foliage which ran round the whole sweep of the
cloister itself is in the finest taste.  A tablet of basalt with Egyptian
hieroglyphics was transported from thence to Portici, together with the
following inscription, taken from the front gate of the chapel:

                          N. POPIDUS N. F. CELSINUS.
                      AEDEM ISIDIS TERRAE MOTU COLLAPSAM
                        A FUNDAMENTO P.  SUA RESTITUIT
                       HUNC DECURIONES OB LIBERALITATEM
                       CUM ESSET ANNORUM SEX ORDINI SUO
                              GRATIS ADLEGERUNT.

Behind one of the altars we saw a small room, in which, our guide
informed us, a human skeleton had been discovered, with some fish bones
on a plate near it, and a number of other culinary utensils.  We then
passed on to another apartment, almost contiguous, where nothing more
remarkable had been found than an iron crow: an instrument with which
perhaps the unfortunate wretch, whose skeleton I have mentioned above,
had vainly endeavoured to extricate herself, this room being probably
barricaded by the matter of the eruption.  This temple, rebuilt, as the
inscription imports, by N. Popidius, had been thrown down by a terrible
earthquake, that likewise destroyed a great part of the city (sixteen
years before the famous eruption of Vesuvius described by Pliny, which
happened in the first year of Titus, A.D. 79) and buried at once both
Herculaneum and Pompeii.  As I lingered alone in these environs sacred to
Isis, some time after my companions had quitted them, I fell into one of
those reveries which my imagination is so fond of indulging; and
transporting myself seventeen hundred years back, fancied I was sailing
with the elder Pliny, on the first day’s eruption, from Misenum, towards
Retina and Herculaneum; and afterwards towards the villa of his friend
Pomponianus at Stabiæ.  The course of our galley seldom carried us out of
sight of Pompeii, and as often as I could divert my attention from the
tremendous spectacle of the eruption, its enormous pillar of smoke
standing conically in the air, and tempests of liquid fire continually
bursting out from the midst of it, then raining down the sides of the
mountain, and flooding this beautiful coast with innumerable streams of
red-hot lava, methought I turned my eyes upon this fair city, whose
houses, villas, and gardens, with their long ranges of columned courts
and porticos, were made visible through the universal cloud of ashes, by
lightning from the mountain; and saw its distracted inhabitants, men,
women, and children, running to and fro in despair.  But in one spot, I
mean the court and precincts of the temple, glared a continual light.  It
was the blaze of the altars; towards which I discerned a long-robed train
of priests moving in solemn procession, to supplicate by prayer and
sacrifice, at this destructive moment, the intervention of Isis, who had
taught the first fathers of mankind the culture of the earth, and other
arts of civil life.  Methought I could distinguish in their hands all
those paintings and images, sacred to this divinity, brought out on this
portentous occasion, from the subterraneous apartments and mystic cells
of the temple.  There was every form of creeping thing and abominable
beast, every Egyptian pollution which the true prophet had seen in
vision, among the secret idolatries of the temple at Jerusalem.  The
priests arrived at the altars; I saw them gathered round, and purifying
the three at once with the sacred meal; then, all moving slowly about
them, each with his right hand towards the fire: it was the office of
some to seize the firebrands of the altars, with which they sprinkled
holy water on the numberless bystanders.  Then began the prayers, the
hymns, and lustrations of the sacrifice.  The priests had laid the
victims with their throats downward upon the altars; were ransacking the
baskets of flour and salt for the knives of slaughter, and proceeding in
haste to the accomplishment of their pious ceremonies;—when one of our
company, who thought me lost, returned with impatience, and calling me
off to some new object, put an end to my strange reverie.  We were now
summoned to pay some attention to the scene and corridor of a theatre,
not far from the temple.  Little more of its remains being yet cleared
away, we hastened back to a small house and garden in the neighbourhood
of Isis.  Sir W. Hamilton (in his account of Pompeii communicated to the
Society of Antiquaries), when speaking of this house, having taken
occasion to give a general idea of the private mansions of the ancient
citizens, I shall take the liberty of transcribing the whole passage.  “A
covered cloister, supported by columns, goes round the house, as was
customary in many of the houses at Pompeii.  The rooms in general are
very small, and in one, where an iron bedstead was found, the wall had
been pared away to make room for this bedstead; so that it was not six
feet square, and yet this room was most elegantly painted, and had a
tesselated or mosaic floor.  The weight of the matter erupted from Mount
Vesuvius has universally damaged the upper parts of the houses; the lower
parts are mostly found as fresh as at the moment they were buried.  The
plan of most of the houses at Pompeii is a square court, with a fountain
in the middle, and small rooms round, communicating with that court.  By
the construction and distribution of the houses, it seems, the
inhabitants of Pompeii were fond of privacy.  They had few windows
towards the street, except where, from the nature of the plan, they could
not avoid it; but even in that case the windows were placed too high for
anyone in the streets to overlook them.  Their houses nearly resemble
each other, both as to distribution of plan, and in the manner of
finishing the apartments.  The rooms are in general small, from ten to
twelve feet, and from fourteen to eighteen feet; few communications
between room and room, almost all without windows, except the apartments
situated to the gardens, which are thought to have been allotted to the
women.  Their cortiles, or courts, were often surrounded by porticos,
even in very small houses; not but there were covered galleries before
the doors of their apartments to afford shade and shelter.  No timber was
used in finishing their apartments, except in doors and windows.  The
floors were generally laid in mosaic work.  One general taste prevailed
of painting the sides and ceilings of the rooms.  Small figures and
medallions of low relief were sometimes introduced.  Their great variety
consisted in the colours, and in the choice and delicacy of the
ornaments, in which they displayed great harmony and taste.  Their houses
were some two, others three stories high.”

We now pursued our way through what is with some probability thought to
have been the principal street.  Its narrowness, however, surprised me.
It is scarcely eleven feet wide, clear of the footways raised on each
side of it.  The pavement is formed of a large sort of flattish-surfaced
pebbles; not laid down with the greatest evenness or regularity.  The
sideways may be about a yard wide, each paved, irregularly enough, with
small stones.  There are guard stones at equal intervals, to defend the
foot passengers from carriages and horses.  I cannot say I found anything
either elegant or pleasant in the effect of this open street.  But, as
the houses in general present little more than a dead wall towards it, I
do not imagine any views, beyond mere use and convenience, were consulted
in the plan.  It led us, however, through the principal gate or entrance,
to a sort of Villa Rustica, without the limits of the city, which amply
recompensed our curiosity.  The arcade surrounding a square garden, or
courtyard, offers itself first to the observer’s notice.  Into this open
a number of coved rooms, adorned with paintings of figures and
arabesques.  These rooms, though small, have a rich and elegant
appearance, their ornaments being very well executed, and retaining still
their original freshness.  On the top of the arcade runs a walk or open
terrace, leading to the larger apartments of the higher story.  One of
the rooms below has a capacious bow-window, where several panes of glass,
somewhat shattered, were found, but in sufficient preservation to show
that the ancients were not without knowledge of this species of
manufacture.  As Horace and most of the old Latin Poets dwell much on the
praises of ancient conviviality, and appear to have valued themselves
considerably on their connoisseurship in wine, it was with great pleasure
I descended into the spacious cellars, sunk and vaulted beneath the
arcade above-mentioned.  Several earthen amphoræ were standing in rows
against the walls, but the Massic and Falernian with which they were once
stored, had probably long been totally absorbed by the earth and ashes,
which were now the sole contents of these venerable jars.  The ancients
are thought to have used oil, instead of corks, and that the stoppers
were of some matter that could make but little resistance, seems
confirmed by the entrance of that, which now supplied the place with
wine.  The skeletons of several of the family who had possessed this
villa were discovered in the cellar, together with brass and silver
coins, and many such ornaments of dress as were of more durable
materials.  On re-ascending, we went to the hot and cold baths; thence to
the back of the villa, separated by a passage from the more elegant part
of the house; we were shown some rooms which had been occupied by the
farmer, and from whence several implements of agriculture had been
carried, to enrich the collection at Portici.  On the whole, the plan and
construction of this villa are extremely curious, and its situation very
happily chosen.  I could not, however, help feeling some regret, in not
having had the good fortune to be present at the first discovery.  It
must have been highly interesting to see all its ancient relics (the
greatest part of which are now removed) each in its proper place; or, at
least, in the place they had possessed for so long a course of years.
His Sicilian Majesty has ordered a correct draught of this villa to be
taken, which, it is hoped, will one day be published, with a complete
account of all the discoveries at Pompeii.

Our next walk was to see the Columbarium, a very solemn looking edifice,
where probably the families of higher rank only at Pompeii, deposited the
urns of their deceased kindred.  Several of these urns, with their ashes,
and one among the rest of glass, inclosed in another of earth, were dug
out of the sepulchral vaults.  A quantity of marble statues, of but
ordinary execution, and colossal masks of terra-cotta, constituted the
chief ornaments of the Columbarium.  It is situated without the gates, on
the same side of the city as the villa just described.  There is
something characteristically sad in its aspect.  It threw my mind into a
melancholy, but not disagreeable tone.  Under the mixed sentiments it
inspired, I cast one lingering look back on the whole affecting scene of
ruins, over which I had for several hours been rambling, and quitted it
to return to Naples, not without great reluctance.



LETTER XXV.


                                                   ROME, _December_ 9_th_.

My last letter was despatched in such a hurry that I had not time to
conclude it.  This will be nearly as imperfect; but yet I cannot forbear
writing, having the vanity to believe that you are pleased with hearing
only that I am well.

Your friend H. walked with me this morning in the Loggios of Raffaelle,
and we went afterwards to the Capitol.  Nothing delighted me more in the
whole treasury of sculptures, than a figure in alto relievo of Endymion,
reclined on the mountain’s brow: his head falls upon his breast with an
ease and gracefulness, of which the Greeks alone had ever a true
conception.  Most of the chambers, if you recollect, are filled with the
elegant remains of Adrian’s collection.  The villa of that classic
emperor at Tivoli, must have been the most charming of structures.
Having travelled into various and remote parts of his empire, he
assembled their most valuable ornaments on one spot.  Some of his
apartments were filled with the mysterious images and symbols of Egypt:
others with Eastern tripods and strange Adriatic vases.  Though
enraptured with St. Peter’s and the Vatican, with the gardens and groves
of pine, that surround this interesting city, still I cannot help sighing
after my native hills and copses, which look (I know not how it happens)
more like the haunts of Pan than any I have seen in Italy.  I eagerly
anticipate the placid hours we shall pass, perhaps next summer, on the
wild range which belongs to our sylvan deities.  In their deep fastnesses
I will hide myself from the world, and never allow its glare to bicker
through my foliage.  You will follow me, I trust, into retirement, and
equally forget the turmoils of mankind.  What have we children of the
good Sylvanus to do with the miseries or triumphs of the savages that
prowl about London?  Let us forget there exists such a city, and when
reposing amongst ivy and blossoms of bloom, imagine ourselves in the
ancient dominions of Saturn, and dream that we see him pass along with
his rustic attendants.



LETTER XXVI.


                                         AUGSBURG, _January_ 20_th_, 1781.

For these ten days past have I been traversing Lapland: winds whistling
in my ears, and cones showering down upon my head from the wilds of pine
through which our route conducted us.  Often were we obliged to travel by
moonlight, and I leave you to imagine the awful aspect of the Tyrol
mountains buried in snow.

I scarcely ventured to utter an exclamation of surprise, though prompted
by some of the most striking scenes in nature, lest I should interrupt
the sacred silence that prevails, during winter, in these boundless
solitudes.  The streams are frozen, and mankind petrified, for aught I
know to the contrary, since whole days have we journeyed on without
perceiving the slightest hint of their existence.

I never before felt the pleasure of discovering a smoke rising from a
cottage, or of hearing a heifer lowing in its stall; and could not have
supposed there was so much satisfaction in perceiving two or three fur
caps, with faces under them, peeping out of their concealments.  I wish
you had been with me, exploring this savage region: wrapped up in our
bear-skins, we should have followed its secret avenues, and penetrated,
perhaps, into some enchanted cave lined with sables, where, like the
heroes of northern romances, we should have been waited upon by dwarfs,
and sung drowsily to repose.  I think it no bad scheme to sleep away five
or six years to come, since every hour affairs are growing more and more
turbulent.  Well, let them! provided we may enjoy, in security, the
shades of our thickets.



ADDITIONAL LETTERS.


[The following Letters, written in a second Excursion, which was
interrupted by a dangerous illness, are added on account of their
affinity to some of the preceding.]



LETTER I.


                                              COLOGNE, _May_ 28_th_, 1782.

This is the first day of summer; the oak leaves expand, the roses blow,
butterflies are about, and I have spirits enough to write to you.  We
have had clouded skies this fortnight past, and roads like the Slough of
Despond.  Last Wednesday we were benighted on a dismal plain, apparently
boundless.  The moon cast a sickly gleam, and now and then a blue meteor
glided along the morass which lay before us.

After much difficulty we gained an avenue, and in an hour’s time
discovered something like a gateway, shaded by crooked elms and crowned
by a cluster of turrets.  Here we paused and knocked; no one answered.
We repeated our knocks; the stout oaken gate returned a hollow sound; the
horses coughed, their riders blew their horns.  At length the bars fell,
and we entered—by what means I am ignorant, for no human being appeared.

A labyrinth of narrow winding alleys, dark as the vaults of a cathedral,
opened to our view.  We kept wandering along, at least twenty minutes,
between lofty mansions with grated windows, and strange galleries,
projecting one over another, from which depended innumerable uncouth
figures and crosses, in iron-work, swinging to and fro with the wind.  At
the end of this gloomy maze we found a long street, not fifteen feet
wide, I am certain; the houses still loftier than those in the alleys,
the windows thicker barred, and the gibbets (for I know not what else to
call them) more frequent.  Here and there we saw lights glimmering in the
highest stories, and arches on the right and left, which seemed to lead
into retired courts and deeper darkness.

Along one of these recesses we were jumbled, over such pavement as I hope
you may never tread upon; and, after parading round it, went out at the
same arch whence we came in.  This procession seemed at first very
mystical, but it was too soon accounted for by our postillions, who
confessed they had lost their way.  A council was held amongst them in
form, and then we struck into another labyrinth of hideous edifices,
habitations I will not venture to call them, as not a creature stirred;
though the rumbling of our carriages was echoed by all the vaults and
arches.

Towards midnight we rested a few minutes, and a head poking out of a
casement directed us to the hotel of Der Heilige Geist, where an
apartment, thirty feet square, was prepared for our reception.



LETTER II.


                                                   INSPRUCK, _June_ 4_th_.

No sooner had we passed Fuezen than we entered the Tyrol, and the country
of wonders.  Those lofty peaks, those steeps of wood I delight in, lay
before us.  Innumerable clear springs gush out on every side, overhung by
luxuriant shrubs in blossom.  The day was mild, though overcast, and a
soft blue vapour rested upon the hills, above which rise mountains that
bear plains of snow into the clouds.

At night we lay at Nasariet, a village buried amongst savage
promontories.  The next morning we advanced, in bright sunshine, into
smooth lawns on the slopes of mountains, scattered over with larches,
whose delicate foliage formed a light green veil to the azure sky.
Flights of birds were merrily travelling from spray to spray.  I ran
delighted into this world of boughs, whilst C. sat down to draw the huts
which are scattered about for the shelter of herds, and discover
themselves amongst the groves in the most picturesque manner.

These little edifices are uncommonly neat, and excite those ideas of
pastoral life to which I am so fondly attached.  The turf from whence
they rise is enamelled, in the strict sense of the word, with flowers.  A
sort of bluebell predominated, brighter than ultramarine; here and there
auriculas looked out of the moss, and I often reposed upon tufts of
ranunculus.  Bushes of phillerea were very frequent, the sun shining full
on their glossy leaves.  An hour passed away swiftly in these pleasant
groves, where I lay supine under a lofty fir, a tower of leaves and
branches.



LETTER III.


                                                     PADUA, _June_ 14_th_.

Once more, said I to myself, I shall have the delight of beholding
Venice; so got into an open chaise, the strangest curricle that ever man
was jolted in, and drove furiously along the causeways by the Brenta,
into whose deep waters it is a mercy, methinks, I was not precipitated.
Fiesso, the Dolo, the Mira, with all their gardens, statues, and palaces,
seemed flying after each other, so rapid was our motion.

After a few hours’ confinement between close steeps, the scene opened to
the wide shore of Fusina.  I looked up (for I had scarcely time to look
before) and beheld a troubled sky, shot with vivid red, the Lagunes
tinted like the opal, and the islands of a glowing flame-colour.  The
lofty mountains of the distant continent appeared of a deep melancholy
grey, and innumerable gondolas were passing to and fro in all their
blackness.  The sun, after a long struggle, was swallowed up in the
tempestuous clouds.

In an hour we drew near to Venice, and saw its world of domes rising out
of the waters.  A fresh breeze bore the toll of innumerable bells by my
ear.  Sadness came over me as I entered the great canal, and recognised
(the scene of many a strange adventure) those solemn palaces, with their
lofty arcades and gloomy arches, beneath which I had so often sat.

The Venetians being mostly at their villas on the Brenta, the town
appeared deserted.  I visited, however, all my old haunts in the Place of
St. Mark, ran up the Campanile, and rowed backwards and forwards,
opposite the Ducal Palace, by moonlight.  They are building a spacious
quay, near the street of the Sclavonians, fronting the island of San
Giorgio Maggiore, where I remained alone at least an hour, following the
wanderings of the moon amongst mountainous clouds, and listening to the
waters dashing against marble steps.

I closed my evening at my friend M. de R.’s, and sung over the airs I
composed in the dawn of our acquaintance.

Next morning the wind was uncommonly violent for the mild season of June,
and the canals much agitated; but I was determined to visit the Lido once
more, and bathe on my accustomed beach.  The pines in the garden of the
Carthusians were nodding as I passed by in my gondola, which was very
poetically buffeted by the waves.

Traversing the desert of locusts, I hailed the Adriatic, and plunged into
its bosom.  The sea, delightfully cool, refreshed me to such a degree,
that, upon my return to Venice, I found myself able to thread its
labyrinths of streets, canals, and alleys, in search of amber and
Oriental curiosities.  The variety of exotic merchandize, the perfume of
coffee, the shade of awnings, and the sight of Greeks and Asiatics
sitting crossed-legged under them, made me think myself in the bazaars of
Constantinople.

’Tis certain my beloved town of Venice ever recalls a series of Eastern
ideas and adventures.  I cannot help thinking St. Mark’s a mosque, and
the neighbouring palace some vast seraglio, full of arabesque saloons,
embroidered sofas, and voluptuous Circassians.



LETTER IV.


                                                     PADUA, _June_ 19_th_.

The morning was delightful, and St. Anthony’s bells in full chime.  A
shower which had fallen in the night rendered the air so cool and
grateful, that Mad. de R. and myself determined to seize the opportunity
and go to Mirabello, a country house, which Algarotti had inhabited,
situate amongst the Euganean hills, eight or nine miles from Padua.

Our road lay between poplar alleys and fields of yellow corn, overhung by
garlands of vine, most beautifully green.  I soon found myself in the
midst of my favourite hills, upon slopes covered with clover, and shaded
by cherry-trees.  Bending down their boughs I gathered the fruit, and
grew cooler and happier every instant.

We dined very comfortably in a strange hall, where I pitched my
pianoforte, and sang the voluptuous airs of Bertoni’s Armida.  That
enchantress might have raised her palace in this situation; and, had I
been Rinaldo, I certainly should not very soon have abandoned it.

After dinner we drank coffee under some branching lemons, which sprang
from a terrace, commanding a boundless scene of towers and villas; tall
cypresses and shrubby hillocks rising, like islands, out of a sea of corn
and vine.

Evening drawing on, and the breeze blowing fresh from the distant
Adriatic, I reclined on a slope, and turned my eyes anxiously towards
Venice; then upon some little fields hemmed in by chestnuts in blossom,
where the peasants were making their hay, and, from thence, to a
mountain, crowned by a circular grove of fir and cypress.

In the centre of these shades some monks have a comfortable nest;
perennial springs, a garden of delicious vegetables, and, I dare say, a
thousand luxuries besides, which the poor mortals below never dream of.

Had it not been late, I should certainly have climbed up to the grove,
and asked admittance into its recesses; but having no mind to pass the
night in this eyrie, I contented myself with the distant prospect.



LETTER V.


                                                      ROME, _June_ 29_th_.

It is needless for me to say I wish you with me: you know I do; you know
how delightfully we should ramble about Rome together.  This evening,
instead of jiggeting along the Corso with the puppets in blue and silver
coats, and green and gold coaches, instead of bowing to Cardinal this,
and dotting my head to Abbé t’other, I strolled to the Coliseo, found out
my old haunts amongst its arches, and enjoyed the pure transparent sky
between groves of slender cypress.  Then bending my course to the
Palatine Mount, I passed under the Arch of Titus, and gained the Capitol,
which was quite deserted, the world, thank Heaven, being all
slip-slopping in coffee-houses, or staring at a few painted boards
patched up before the Colonna palace, where, by the by, to-night is a
grand _rinfresco_ for all the dolls and doll-fanciers of Rome.  I heard
their buzz at a distance; that was enough for me!

Soothed by the rippling of waters, I descended the Capitoline stairs, and
leaned several minutes against one of the Egyptian lionesses.  This
animal has no knack at oracles, or else it would have murmured out to me
the situation of that secret cave, where the wolf suckled Romulus and his
brother.

About nine, I returned home, and am now writing to you like a prophet on
the housetop.  Behind me rustle the thickets of Villa Medici; before,
lies roof beyond roof and dome beyond dome: these are dimly discovered;
but don’t you see the great cupola of cupolas, twinkling with
illuminations?  The town is real, I am certain; but, surely, that
structure of fire must be visionary.



LETTER VI.


                                                      ROME, _June_ 30_th_.

As soon as the sun declined I strolled into the Villa Medici; but finding
it haunted by fine pink and yellow people, nay, even by the Spanish
Ambassador, and several more dignified carcasses, I moved off to the
Negroni garden.  There I found what my soul desired, thickets of jasmine,
and wild spots overgrown with bay; long alleys of cypress totally
neglected, and almost impassable through the luxuriance of the
vegetation; on every side antique fragments, vases, sarcophagi, and
altars sacred to the Manes, in deep, shady recesses, which I am certain
the Manes must love.  The air was filled with the murmurs of water,
trickling down basins of porphyry, and losing itself amongst overgrown
weeds and grasses.

Above the wood and between its boughs appeared several domes, and a
strange lofty tower.  I will not say they belong to St. Maria Maggiore;
no, they are fanes and porticos dedicated to Cybele, who delights in
sylvan situations.  The forlorn air of this garden, with its high and
reverend shades, make me imagine it as old as the baths of Dioclesian,
which peep over one of its walls.  Yes, I am persuaded some consul or
prætor dwelt here only fifty years ago.  Would to God, our souls might be
transported to such solitary spots! where we might glide along the dark
alleys together, when bodies were gone to bed.  I discovered a little
cave that would just suit us; celandine, Venus’ hair, and a thousand
delicate plants, growing downwards from the cave; beneath lies a clear
spring.

At the close of day, I repaired to the platform before the stately
porticos of the Lateran.  There I sat, folded up in myself.  Some priests
jarred the iron gates behind me.  I looked over my shoulder through the
portals, into the portico.  Night began to fill it with darkness.  Upon
turning round, the sad waste of the Campagna met my eyes, and I wished to
go home, but had not the power.  A pressure, like that I have felt in
horrid dreams, seemed to fix me to the pavement.

I was thus in a manner forced to view the dreary scene, the long line of
aqueducts and lonesome towers.  Perhaps the unwholesome vapours, rising
like blue mists from the plains, affected me.  I know not how it was; but
I never experienced such strange, such chilling terrors.  About ten
o’clock, thank God, the spell dissolved; I found my limbs at liberty, and
returned home.



LETTER VII.


                                                     NAPLES, _July_ 8_th_.

The sea-breezes restored me to life.  I set the heat of midday at
defiance, and do not believe in the horrors of the sirocco.  Yesterday I
passed at Portici, with Lady H.  The morning, refreshing and pleasant,
invited us at an early hour into the open air.  We drove, in an uncovered
chaise, to the royal Bosquetto: no other carriage than Sir W.’s is
allowed to enter its alleys.  We breathed a fresh air untainted by dust
or garlic.  Every now and then, amidst wild bushes of ilex and myrtle,
one finds a graceful antique statue, sometimes a fountain, and often a
rude knoll, where the rabbits sit undisturbed, contemplating the blue
glittering bay; at least, I should do so, if I were a rabbit.

The walls of this shady inclosure are lined with Peruvian aloes, whose
white blossoms, scented like those of the magnolia, form the most
magnificent clusters.  They are plants to salute respectfully as one
passes by, such is their size and dignity.  In the midst of the thickets
stands the King’s Pagliaro, surrounded by gardens with hedges of
luxuriant jasmine, whose branches are suffered to flaunt as much as
Nature pleases.

The morning sun darted his first rays on their flowers just as I entered
this pleasant spot.  The hut looks as if erected in the days of fairy
pastoral life; its neatness is quite delightful.  Bright tiles compose
the floor; straw, nicely platted, covers the walls.  In the middle of the
room, you see a table spread with a beautiful Persian carpet; at one end,
four niches with mattresses of silk, where the King and his favourites
repose after dinner; at the other, a white marble basin.  Mount a little
staircase, and you find yourself in another apartment, formed by the
roof, which being entirely composed of glistening straw, casts that
comfortable yellow glow I admire.  From the windows you look into the
garden, not flourished with parterres, but divided into plats of fragrant
herbs and flowers, with here and there a little marble table, or basin of
the purest water.

These sequestered inclosures are cultivated with the greatest care, and
so frequently watered, that I observed lettuces, and a variety of other
vegetables, as fresh as in our green England.



AN EXCURSION TO THE GRAND CHARTREUSE IN THE YEAR 1778.


THE GRAND CHARTREUSE has exceeded my expectations; it is more wonderfully
wild than I can describe, or even you can imagine.  It has possessed me
to such a degree that at present I can neither think, speak, nor write
upon any other subject.

_June_ 5_th_.—I left Geneva, and after passing through a succession of
valleys between innumerable mountains, and after crossing a variety of
picturesque bridges, thrown over the streams which water them, arrived at
Aix, in Savoy, famous for its baths, which, as disagreeable things are
generally the most salutary, ought doubtless to be of the greatest
efficacy; for more uninviting objects one seldom meets with.

Advancing beneath a little eminence, partly rock, partly wall, we
discovered the principal bath, filled with a blue reeking water, whose
very steam is sufficient to seethe one without further assistance.

Scarce had we stood looking on it a minute, before down dashed three or
four dirty boys, as copper-coloured as the natives of Bengal; who by
splashing us all over, and swimming about _à la crapaudine_, convinced us
that it was not their fault, if we would not have companions in the
delights of bathing.  I soon hurried away from this salubrious cauldron,
and stepping into a little chapel hard by, where they were singing
vespers, prayed heartily to the Virgin, that I might never need the
assistance of those wonder-working waters over which she presides.  As
there was but little company in the town, and little amusement, I went to
bed at nine, and rose at four the next morning, that I might reach before
sunset the celebrated road, which Charles Emanuel had cut through a rocky
mountain.  My plan succeeded, and after dining at Chambery (a place
scarce worth speaking of to you), and passing by a cataract that throws
itself from a lofty steep, I began to discover a beautiful woody vale,
terminated on one side by the hallowed cliffs of the Grand Chartreuse,
and on the other by the mountain which Charles Emanuel had perforated in
so extraordinary a manner.  The sun was just sinking in a brilliant
cloud, which seemed to repose on a swelling hill, covered with cattle,
when we quitted the cheerful valley, and began to descend between two
ridges of precipices, that at some distance had the appearance of
towering ramparts.  Pursuing our route, we found ourselves in a deep
cleft, surrounded by caverns, echoing with a thousand rills which trickle
down their sides, and mingling their murmurs with the rattling of our
wheels and the steps of our horses, infinitely repeated and multiplied,
formed, altogether, the strangest combination of sounds that ever reached
my ears.  The road itself is admirably cut, and hewn with such neatness
that, were it not for the savage and desolate air of its environs, I
should have imagined myself approaching some grand castle or considerable
city.  Toward the summits of the precipices, that in some places rise to
a majestic elevation (the two sides here and there nearly meeting in an
arch), hang light woods of glossy green, which, being agitated by a
gentle wind, cast a moving shadow over the cleft beneath, and, at a
little distance, gave our road the appearance of a chequered pavement.

Having wound through the bosom of the mountain for some time, I was
struck by the unexpected appearance of a grand edifice, resembling a vast
portal, supported by Doric pilasters, and crowned with an ornamented
pediment.  Upon my nearer approach I found a smooth tablet filling up the
space I had allotted for an entrance, on which was engraven a pompous
Latin inscription, setting forth with what incredible labour and
perseverance his Majesty, Charles Emanuel the Second of Sardinia, Cyprus,
and Jerusalem, King, had cut this road through the mountain; which great
enterprise, though unattempted by the Romans, and despaired of by other
nations, was executed under his auspices.  I very sincerely wished him
joy, and, as the evening was growing rather cool, was not sorry to
perceive, through an opening in the rocks, a wide-extended plain,
interspersed with meadows, embosomed by woods, in which I distinguished
Les Echelles, a village, where we were to lie, with its chimneys smoking,
under the base of one of the Carthusian mountains, round which had
gathered a concourse of red and greyish clouds.

The twilight was beginning to prevail when we reached our inn, and very
glad I was to leave it at the first dawn of the next day.  We were now
obliged to abandon our coach; and taking horse, proceeded towards the
mountains, which, with the valleys between them, form what is called the
Desert of the Carthusians.

In an hour’s time we were drawing near, and could discern the opening of
a narrow valley overhung by shaggy precipices, above which rose lofty
peaks, covered to their very summits with wood.  We could now distinguish
the roar of torrents, and a confusion of strange sounds, issuing from
dark forests of pine.  I confess at this moment I was somewhat startled.
I experienced some disagreeable sensations, and it was not without a
degree of unwillingness that I left the gay pastures and enlivening
sunshine, to throw myself into this gloomy and disturbed region.  How
dreadful, thought I, must be the despair of those who enter it never to
return!

But after the first impression was worn away, all my curiosity redoubled;
and desiring our guide to put forward with greater speed, we made such
good haste, that the meadows and cottages of the plain were soon left far
behind, and we found ourselves on the banks of the torrent, whose
agitation answered the ideas which its sounds had inspired.  Into the
midst of these troubled waters we were obliged to plunge with our horses,
and, when landed on the opposite shore, were by no means displeased to
have passed them.

We had now closed with the forests, over which the impending rocks
diffused an additional gloom.  The day grew obscured by clouds, and the
sun no longer enlightened the distant plains, when we began to ascend
towards the entrance of the desert, marked by two pinnacles of rock far
above us, beyond which a melancholy twilight prevailed.  Every moment we
approached nearer and nearer to the sounds which had alarmed us; and,
suddenly emerging from the woods, we discovered several mills and forges,
with many complicated machines of iron, hanging over the torrent, that
threw itself headlong from a cleft in the precipices; on one side of
which I perceived our road winding along, till it was stopped by a
venerable gateway.  A rock above one of the forges was hollowed into the
shape of a round tower, of no great size, but resembling very much an
altar in figure; and, what added greatly to the grandeur of the object,
was a livid flame continually palpitating upon it, which the gloom of the
valley rendered perfectly discernible.

The road, at a small distance from this remarkable scene, was become so
narrow, that, had my horse started, I should have been but too well
acquainted with the torrent that raged beneath; dismounting, therefore, I
walked towards the edge of the great fall, and there, leaning on a
fragment of cliff, looked down into the foaming gulph, where the waters
were hurled along over broken pines, pointed rocks, and stakes of iron.
Then, lifting up my eyes, I took in the vast extent of the forests,
frowning on the brows of the mountains.

It was here first I felt myself seized by the genius of the place, and
penetrated with veneration of its religious gloom; and, I believe,
uttered many extravagant exclamations; but, such was the dashing of the
wheels, and the rushing of the waters at the bottom of the forges, that
what I said was luckily undistinguishable.

I was not yet, however, within the consecrated inclosure, and therefore
not perfectly contented; so, leaving my fragment, I paced in silence up
the path which led to the great portal.  When we arrived before it, I
rested a moment, and leaning against the stout oaken gate, which closed
up the entrance to this unknown region, felt at my heart a certain awe,
that brought to my mind the sacred terror of those, in ancient days,
going to be admitted into the Eleusinian mysteries.

My guide gave two knocks; after a solemn pause, the gate was slowly
opened, and all our horses having passed through it, was again carefully
closed.

I now found myself in a narrow dell, surrounded on every side by peaks of
the mountains, rising almost beyond my sight, and shelving downwards till
their bases were hidden by the foam and spray of the water, over which
hung a thousand withered and distorted trees.  The rocks seemed crowding
upon me, and, by their particular situation, threatened to obstruct every
ray of light; but, notwithstanding the menacing appearance of the
prospect, I still kept following my guide, up a craggy ascent, partly
hewn through a rock, and bordered by the trunks of ancient fir-trees,
which formed a fantastic barrier, till we came to a dreary and exposed
promontory, impending directly over the dell.

The woods are here clouded with darkness, and the torrents, rushing with
additional violence, are lost in the gloom of the caverns below; every
object, as I looked downwards from my path, that hung midway between the
base and the summit of the cliff, was horrid and woeful.  The channel of
the torrent sunk deep amidst frightful crags, and the pale willows and
wreathed roots spreading over it, answered my ideas of those dismal
abodes, where, according to the druidical mythology, the ghosts of
conquered warriors were bound.  I shivered whilst I was regarding these
regions of desolation, and, quickly lifting up my eyes to vary the scene,
I perceived a range of whitish cliffs, glistening with the light of the
sun, to emerge from these melancholy forests.

On a fragment that projected over the chasm, and concealed for a moment
its terrors, I saw a cross, on which was written VIA COELI.  The cliffs
being the heaven to which I now aspired, we deserted the edge of the
precipice, and ascending, came to a retired nook of the rocks, in which
several copious rills had worn irregular grottoes.  Here we reposed an
instant, and were enlivened with a few sunbeams, piercing the thickets
and gilding the waters that bubbled from the rock, over which hung
another cross, inscribed with this short sentence, which the situation
rendered wonderfully pathetic, O SPES UNICA! the fervent exclamation of
some wretch disgusted with the world, whose only consolation was found in
this retirement.

We quitted this solitary cross to enter a thick forest of beech-trees,
that screened in some measure the precipices on which they grew,
catching, however, every instant terrifying glimpses of the torrent
below.  Streams gushed from every crevice in the cliffs, and falling over
the mossy roots and branches of the beech, hastened to join the great
torrent, athwart which I every now and then remarked certain tottering
bridges, and sometimes could distinguish a Carthusian crossing over to
his hermitage, that just peeped above the woody labyrinths on the
opposite shore.

Whilst I was proceeding amongst the innumerable trunks of the beech
trees, my guide pointed out to me a peak, rising above the others, which
he called the Throne of Moses.  If that prophet had received his
revelations in this desert, no voice need have declared it holy ground,
for every part of it is stamped with such a sublimity of character as
would alone be sufficient to impress the idea.

Having left these woods behind, and crossing a bridge of many lofty
arches, I shuddered once more at the impetuosity of the torrent; and,
mounting still higher, came at length to a kind of platform before two
cliffs, joined by an arch of rock, under which we were to pursue our
road.  Below we beheld again innumerable streams, turbulently
precipitating themselves from the woods, and lashing the base of the
mountains, mossed over with a dark sea-green.

In this deep hollow such mists and vapours prevailed as hindered my
prying into its recesses; besides, such was the dampness of the air, that
I hastened gladly from its neighbourhood, and passing under the second
portal, beheld with pleasure the sunbeams gilding the Throne of Moses.

It was now about ten o’clock, and my guide assured me I should soon
discover the convent.  Upon this information I took new courage, and
continued my route on the edge of the rocks, till we struck into another
gloomy grove.  After turning about it for some time, we entered again
into the glare of daylight, and saw a green valley skirted by ridges of
cliffs and sweeps of wood before us.  Towards the farther end of this
inclosure, on a gentle acclivity, rose the revered turrets of the
Carthusians, which extend in a long line on the brow of the hill; beyond
them a woody amphitheatre majestically presents itself, terminated by
spires of rock and promontories lost amongst the clouds.

The roar of the torrent was now but faintly distinguishable, and all the
scenes of horror and confusion I had passed, were succeeded by a sacred
and profound calm.  I traversed the valley with a thousand sensations I
despair of describing, and stood before the gate of the convent with as
much awe as some novice or candidate, newly arrived, to solicit the holy
retirement of the order.

As admittance is more readily granted to the English than to almost any
other nation, it was not long before the gates opened, and whilst the
porter ordered our horses to the stable, we entered a court watered by
two fountains and built round with lofty edifices, characterized by a
noble simplicity.

The interior portal, opening, discovered an arched aisle, extending till
the perspective nearly met, along which windows, but scantily distributed
between the pilasters, admitted a pale solemn light, just sufficient to
distinguish the objects with a picturesque uncertainty.  We had scarcely
set our feet on the pavement when the monks began to issue from an arch,
about half way down, and passing in a long succession from their chapel,
bowed reverently with much humility and meekness, and dispersed in
silence, leaving one of their body alone in the aisle.

The Father Coadjutor (for he only remained) advanced towards us with
great courtesy, and welcomed us in a manner which gave me far more
pleasure than all the frivolous salutations and affected greetings so
common in the world beneath.  After asking us a few indifferent
questions, he called one of the lay brothers, who live in the convent
under less severe restrictions than the fathers whom they serve, and
ordering him to prepare our apartment, conducted us to a large square
hall with casement windows, and, what was more comfortable, an enormous
chimney, whose hospitable hearth blazed with a fire of dry aromatic fir,
on each side of which were two doors that communicated with the neat
little cells destined for our bedchambers.

Whilst he was placing us round the fire, a ceremony by no means
unimportant in the cold climate of these upper regions, a bell rang which
summoned him to prayers.  After charging the lay brother to set before us
the best fare their desert afforded, he retired, and left us at full
liberty to examine our chambers.

The weather lowered, and the casements permitted very little light to
enter the apartment: but on the other side it was amply enlivened by the
gleams of the fire, that spread all over a certain comfortable air, which
even sunshine but rarely diffuses.  Whilst the showers descended with
great violence, the lay brother and another of his companions were
placing an oval table, very neatly carved and covered with the finest
linen, in the middle of the hall; and, before we had examined a number of
portraits which were hung in all the panels of the wainscot, they called
us to a dinner widely different from what might have been expected in so
dreary a situation.  The best fish, the most exquisite fruits, and a
variety of dishes, excellent without the assistance of meat, were served
up with an order and arrangement that showed it was not the first time
they had entertained in the noblest manner.  But I was not more struck
with the delicacy of the entertainment, than with the extreme cleanness
and English-like neatness of the whole apartment and its furniture.  A
marble fountain, particularly, gave it a very agreeable aid, and the
water that fell from it into a porphyry shell was remarkable for its
clearness and purity.  Our attendant friar was helping us to some
Burgundy, which we pronounced of very respectable antiquity, when the
Coadjutor returned, accompanied by two other fathers, the Secretary and
Procurator, whom he presented to us.  You would have been both charmed
and surprised with the cheerful resignation that appeared in their
countenances, and with the easy turn of their conversation.

The Coadjutor, though equally kind, was as yet more reserved: his
countenance, however, spoke for him without the aid of words, and there
was in his manner a mixture of dignity and humility, which could not fail
to interest.  There were moments when the recollection of some past event
seemed to shade his countenance with a melancholy that rendered it still
more affecting.  I should suspect he formerly possessed a great share of
natural vivacity (something of it being still, indeed, apparent in his
more unguarded moments); but this spirit is almost entirely subdued by
the penitence and mortification of the order.

The secretary displayed a very considerable share of knowledge in the
political state of Europe, furnished probably by the extensive
correspondence these fathers preserve with the three hundred and sixty
subordinate convents, dispersed throughout all those countries where the
court of Rome still maintains its influence.

In the course of our conversation they asked me innumerable questions
about England, where formerly, they said, many monasteries had belonged
to their order; and principally that of W., which they had learnt to be
now in my possession.

The Secretary, almost with tears in his eyes, beseeched me to revere
these consecrated edifices, and to preserve their remains, for the sake
of St. Hugo, their canonized Prior.  I replied greatly to his
satisfaction, and then declaimed so much in favour of Saint Bruno, and
the holy prior of Witham, that the good fathers grew exceedingly
delighted with the conversation, and made me promise to remain some days
with them.  I readily complied with their request, and, continuing in the
same strain, that had so agreeably affected their ears, was soon
presented with the works of Saint Bruno, whom I so zealously admired.

After we had sat extolling them, and talking upon much the same sort of
subjects for about an hour, the Coadjutor proposed a walk amongst the
cloisters and galleries, as the weather would not admit of any longer
excursion.  He leading the way, we ascended a flight of steps, which
brought us to a gallery, on each side of which a vast number of pictures,
representing the dependent convents, were ranged; for I was now in the
capital of the order, where the General resides, and from whence he
issues forth his commands to his numerous subjects; who depute the
superiors of their respective convents, whether situated in the wilds of
Calabria, the forests of Poland, or in the remotest districts of Portugal
and Spain, to assist at the grand chapter, held annually under him, a
week or two after Easter.

This reverend father Dom Biclét died about ten days before our arrival: a
week ago they elected the Pere Robinét prior of the Carthusian convent at
Paris in his room, and two fathers were now on their route to apprise him
of their choice, and to salute him General of the Carthusians.  During
this interregnum the Coadjutor holds the first rank in the temporal, and
the Grand Vicaire in the spiritual, affairs of the order; both of which
are very extensive.

If I may judge from the representations of the different convents, which
adorn this gallery, there are many highly worthy of notice, for the
singularity of their situations, and the wild beauties of the landscapes
which surround them.  The Venetian Chartreuse, placed in a woody island,
and that of Rome, rising from amongst groups of majestic ruins, struck me
as peculiarly pleasing.  Views of the English monasteries hung formerly
in such a gallery, but had been destroyed by fire, together with the old
convent.  The list only remains, with but a very few written particulars
concerning them.

Having amused myself for some time with the pictures, and the
descriptions the Coadjutor gave me of them, we quitted the gallery and
entered a kind of chapel, in which were two altars with lamps burning
before them, on each side of a lofty portal.  This opened into a grand
coved hall, adorned with historical paintings of St. Bruno’s life, and
the portraits of the Generals of the order, since the year of the great
founder’s death (1085) to the present time.  Under these portraits are
the stalls for the Superiors, who assist at the grand convocation.  In
front appears the General’s throne; above, hangs a representation of the
canonized Bruno, crowned with stars.

Were I, after walking along the dim cloisters, and passing through the
antechapel, faintly illuminated by a solitary lamp, suddenly to enter
this hall at midnight, when the convocation is assembled, and the synod
of venerable fathers, all in solemn order, surrounding the successor of
Bruno, it would be a long while, I believe, before I could recover from
the surprise of so august a spectacle.  It must indeed be a very imposing
sight: the gravity they preserve on these occasions, their venerable age
(for Superiors cannot be chosen young), and the figures of their deceased
Generals, dimly discovered above, may surely be allowed to awe even an
heretical spectator into a momentary respect for the order.  For my own
part, I must confess, that the hall, though divested of all this
accompaniment, filled me with a veneration I scarcely knew how to account
for; perhaps the portraits inspired it.  They were all well executed, and
mostly in attitudes of adoration.  The form of Bruno was almost lost in
the splendour of the stars which hovered over him.  I could in some
moments fancy myself capable of plunging into the horror of a desert, and
foregoing all the vanities and delights of the world, to secure my memory
so sublime a consecration.

The Coadjutor seemed charmed with the respect with which I looked round
on these holy objects; and if the hour of vespers had not been drawing
near, we should have spent more time in the contemplation of Bruno’s
miracles, portrayed on the lower panels of the hall.  We left that room
to enter a winding passage (lighted by windows in the roof), that brought
us to a cloister six hundred feet in length, from which branched off two
others, joining a fourth of the same most extraordinary dimensions.  Vast
ranges of slender pillars extend round the different courts of the
edifice, many of which are thrown into gardens belonging to particular
cells.

We entered one of them: its inhabitant received us with much civility,
walked before us through a little corridor that looked on his garden,
showed us his narrow dwelling, and, having obtained leave of the
Coadjutor to speak, gave us his benediction, and beheld us depart with
concern.  Nature has given this poor monk very considerable talents for
painting.  He has drawn the portrait of the late General, in a manner
that discovers great facility of execution; but he is not allowed to
exercise his pencil on any other subject, lest he should be amused; and
amusement in this severe order is a crime.  He had so subdued, so
mortified an appearance, that I was not sorry to hear the bell, which
summoned the Coadjutor to prayers, and prevented my entering any more of
the cells.  We continued straying from cloister to cloister, and
wandering along the winding passages and intricate galleries of this
immense edifice, whilst the Coadjutor was assisting at vespers.

In every part of the structure reigned the most death-like calm: no sound
reached my ears but the “minute drops from off the eaves.”  I sat down in
a niche of the cloister, and fell into a profound reverie, from which I
was recalled by the return of our conductor; who, I believe, was almost
tempted to imagine, from the cast of my countenance, that I was
deliberating whether I should not remain with them for ever.

But I soon roused myself, and testified some impatience to see the great
chapel, at which we at length arrived, after traversing another labyrinth
of cloisters.  The gallery immediately before its entrance appeared quite
gay, in comparison with the others I had passed, and owes its
cheerfulness to a large window (ornamented with slabs of polished
marble), that admits the view of a lovely wood.  Being neatly glazed, and
free from paintings or Gothic ornaments, it allows a full blaze of light
to dart on the chapel door; which is also adorned with marble, in a plain
but noble style of architecture.

The father sacristan stood ready on the steps of the portal to grant us
admittance; and, throwing open the valves, we entered the chapel and were
struck by the justness of its proportions, the simple majesty of the
arched roof, and the mild solemn light, equally diffused over every part
of the edifice.  No tawdry ornaments, no glaring pictures, disgraced the
sanctity of the place.  The high altar, standing distinct from the walls,
which were hung with a rich velvet, was the only object on which many
ornaments were lavished, and even there the elegance of the workmanship
concealed the glare of the materials, which were silver, solid gold, and
the most costly gems.  It being Whit-Sunday, this altar was covered with
statues of gold, shrines, and candelabra of the stateliest shape and most
delicate execution.  Four of the latter, of a gigantic size, were placed
on the steps; which, together with part of the inlaid floor within the
choir, were spread with beautiful carpets.

The illumination of so many tapers striking on the shrines, censers, and
pillars of polished jasper, sustaining the canopy of the altar, produced
a wonderful effect; and, as the rest of the chapel was visible only by
the faint external light admitted from above, the splendour and dignity
of the altar was enhanced by contrast.  I retired a moment from it, and
seating myself in one of the furthermost stalls of the choir, looked
towards it, and fancied it had risen like an exhalation.

Here I remained several minutes breathing nothing but incense, and should
not have quitted my station soon, had I not been apprehensive of
disturbing the devotions of two aged fathers who had just entered, and
were prostrating themselves before the steps of the altar.  These
venerable figures added greatly to the solemnity of the scene; which as
the day declined increased every moment in splendour; for the sparkling
of several lamps of chased silver that hung from the roofs, and the
gleaming of nine huge tapers which I had not before noticed, began to be
visible just as I left the chapel.

Passing through the sacristy, where lay several piles of rich embroidered
vestments, purposely displayed for our inspection, we regained the
cloister which led to our apartment, where the supper was ready prepared.
We had scarcely finished it, when the Coadjutor, and the fathers who had
accompanied us before, returned, and ranging themselves round the fire,
resumed the conversation about St. Bruno.

Finding me very piously disposed by the wonders I had seen in the day to
listen to things of a miraculous nature, they began to relate the
inspirations they had received from him, and his mysterious apparitions.
I was all attention, respect, and credulity.  The old Secretary worked
himself up to such a pitch of enthusiasm, that I am very much inclined to
imagine he believed, in these moments, all the marvellous events he
related.  The Coadjutor being less violent in his pretensions to St.
Bruno’s modern miracles, contented himself with enumerating the noble
works he had done in the days of his fathers, and in the old time before
them.

It grew rather late before my kind hosts had finished their narrations,
and I was not sorry, after all the exercise I had taken, to return to my
cell, where everything invited to repose.  I was charmed with the
neatness and oddity of my little apartment; its cabin-like bed, oratory,
and ebony crucifix; in short, everything it contained; not forgetting the
aromatic odour of the pine, with which it was roofed, floored, and
wainscoted.  The night was luckily dark.  Had the moon appeared, I could
not have prevailed upon myself to have quitted her till very late; but,
as it happened, I crept into my cabin, and was by “whispering winds soon
lulled asleep.”

Eight o’clock struck next morning before I awoke; when, to my great
sorrow, I found the peaks, which rose above the convent, veiled in
vapours, and the rain descending with violence.

After we had breakfasted by the light of our fire (for the casements
admitted but a very feeble gleam), I sat down to the works of St. Bruno;
of all medleys the strangest.  Allegories without end: a
theologico-natural history of birds, beasts, and fishes: several chapters
on paradise; the delights of solitude; the glory of Solomon’s temple; the
new Jerusalem; and numberless other wonderful subjects, full of
enthusiasm and superstition.

Saint Bruno was certainly a mighty genius; I admire the motives which
drew him to this desert; but perhaps before we come to that part of the
story, you will like to know what preceded it.  My Saint (for Bruno has
succeeded Thomas of Canterbury) was of noble descent, and possessed
considerable wealth.  He was not less remarkable for the qualities of his
mind, and his talents gained him the degree of Master of the great
sciences in the University of Rheims; here he contracted a friendship
with Odo, afterwards Urban the Second.  Being always poetic, singular,
and visionary, he soon grew disgusted with the world, and began early in
life to sigh after retirement.  His residence at Grenoble, where he was
invited by Hugo, its bishop, determined him to the monastic state.

This venerable prelate imparted to him a vision in which he seemed to
behold the desert and mountain beyond his city visible in the dead of
night by the streaming of seven lucid stars that hung directly over them.
Whilst he was ardently gazing at this wonder, a still voice was heard
declaring it the future abode of Bruno—by him to be consecrated as a
retirement for holy men desirous of holding converse with their God.  No
shepherd’s pipe was to be heard within these precincts; no huntsman’s
profane feet to tread these silent regions, which were to be dedicated
solely to their Creator; no woman was to ascend this mountain, nor
violate by her allurements the sacred repose of its inhabitants.

Such were the first institutions of the order as the inspired Bishop of
Grenoble delivered them to Bruno, who selecting a few persons that, like
himself, contemned the splendours of the world and the charms of society,
repaired with them to this spot; and, in the darkest parts of the forests
which shade the most gloomy recesses of the mountains, founded the first
convent of Carthusians, long since destroyed.

Several years passed away, whilst Bruno was employed in actions of the
most exalted piety; and, the fame of his exemplary conduct reaching Rome
(where his friend had been lately invested with the papal tiara), the
whole conclave was desirous of seeing him, and entreated Urban to invite
him to Rome.  The request of Christ’s vicegerent was not to be refused;
and Bruno quitted his beloved solitude, leaving some of his disciples
behind, who propagated his doctrines, and tended zealously the infant
order.

The pomp of the Roman court soon disgusted the rigid Bruno, who had
weaned himself entirely from worldly affections.

Being wholly intent on futurity, the bustle and tumults of a busy
metropolis became so irksome that he supplicated Urban for leave to
retire; and, having obtained it, left Rome, and immediately seeking the
wilds of Calabria, there sequestered himself in a lonely hermitage,
calmly expecting his last moments.  Many are the miracles which he
wrought and which his canonized bones have since effected: angels (it is
said), hovered round him in his departing hour, and bore him on their
wings to heaven.  The different accounts of his translation are almost
endless; and as they are all nearly in the same style, it will be
needless to recite them.

I had scarcely finished taking extracts from the life and writings of St.
Bruno when the dinner appeared, consisting of everything most delicate
which a strict adherence to the rules of meagre could allow.  The good
fathers returned as usual with the dessert, and served up an admirable
dish of miracles, well seasoned with the devil and prettily garnished
with angels and moonbeams. {284}

Our conversation was interrupted, very agreeably, by the sudden intrusion
of the sun, which, escaping from the clouds, shone in full splendour
above the highest peak of the mountains, and the vapours fleeting by
degrees discovered the woods in all the freshness of their verdure.  The
pleasure I received from seeing this new creation rising to view was very
lively, and, as the fathers assured me the humidity of their walks did
not often continue longer than the showers, I left my hall.

Crossing the court, I hastened out of the gates, and running swiftly
along a winding path on the side of the meadow, bordered by the forests,
enjoyed the charms of the prospect, inhaled the perfume of the woodlands,
and now turning towards the summits of the precipices that encircled this
sacred inclosure, admired the glowing colours they borrowed from the sun,
contrasted by the dark hues of the forest.  Now, casting my eyes below, I
suffered them to roam from valley to valley, and from one stream (beset
with tall pines and tufted beech trees) to another.  The purity of the
air in these exalted regions, and the lightness of my own spirits, almost
seized me with the idea of treading in that element.

Not content with the distant beauties of the hanging rocks and falling
waters, I still kept running wildly along, with an eagerness and rapidity
that, to a sober spectator, would have given me the appearance of one
possessed, and with reason, for I was affected with the scene to a degree
I despair of expressing.

Whilst I was continuing my course, pursued by a thousand strange ideas, a
father, who was returning from some distant hermitage, stopped my career,
and made signs for me to repose myself on a bench erected under a
neighbouring shed; and, perceiving my agitation and disordered looks,
fancied, I believe, that one of the bears that lurk near the snows of the
mountains had alarmed me by his sudden appearance.

The good old man, expressing by his gestures that he wished me to recover
myself in quiet on the bench, hastened, with as much alacrity as his age
permitted, to a cottage adjoining the shed, and returning in a few
moments, presented me some water in a wooden bowl, into which he let fall
several drops of an elixir composed of innumerable herbs, and having
performed this deed of charity, signified to me by a look, in which
benevolence, compassion, and perhaps some little remains of curiosity
were strongly painted, how sorry he was to be restrained by his vow of
silence from inquiring into the cause of my agitation, and giving me
farther assistance.  I answered also by signs, on purpose to carry on the
adventure, and suffered him to depart with all his conjectures
unsatisfied.

No sooner had I lost sight of the benevolent hermit, than I started up,
and pursued my path with my former agility, till I came to the edge of a
woody dell, that divided the meadow on which I was running from the
opposite promontory.  Here I paused, and looking up at the cliffs, now
but faintly illumined by the sun, which had been some time sinking on our
narrow horizon, reflected that it would be madness to bewilder myself, at
so late an hour, in the mazes of the forest.  Being thus determined, I
abandoned with regret the idea of penetrating into the lovely region
before me, and contented myself for some moments with marking the pale
tints of the evening gradually overspreading the cliffs, so lately
flushed with the gleams of the setting sun.

But my eyes were soon diverted from contemplating these objects by a red
light streaming over the northern sky, which attracted my notice, as I
sat on the brow of a sloping hill, looking down a steep hollow vale,
surrounded by the forests, above which rose majestically the varied peaks
and promontories of the mountains.

The upland lawns, which hang at immense heights above the vale, next
caught my attention.  I was gazing alternately at them and the valley,
when a long succession of light misty clouds, of strange fantastic
shapes, issuing from a narrow gully between the rocks, passed on, like a
solemn procession, over the hollow dale, midway between the stream that
watered it below and the summits of the cliffs on high.

The tranquillity of the region the verdure, of the lawn, environed by
girdles of flourishing wood, and the lowing of the distant herds, filled
me with the most pleasing sensations.  But when I lifted up my eyes to
the towering cliffs, and beheld the northern sky streaming with ruddy
light, and the long succession of misty forms hovering over the space
beneath, they became sublime and awful.  The dews which began to descend,
and the vapours which were rising from every dell, reminded me of the
lateness of the hour; and it was with great reluctance that I turned from
the scene which had so long engaged my contemplation, and traversed
slowly and silently the solitary meadows, over which I had hurried with
such eagerness an hour ago.

Hill appeared after hill, and hillock succeeded hillock, which I had
passed unnoticed before.  Sometimes I imagined myself following a
different path from that which had brought me to the edge of the deep
valley; another moment, descending into the hollows between the hillocks
that concealed the distant prospects from my sight, I fancied I had
entirely mistaken my route, and expected every moment to be lost amongst
the rude brakes and tangled thickets that skirted the eminences around.

As the darkness increased, my situation became still more and more
forlorn.  I had almost abandoned the idea of reaching the convent; and
whenever I gained any swelling ground, looked above, below, and on every
side of me, in hopes of discovering some glimmering lamp which might
indicate a hermitage, whose charitable possessor, I flattered myself,
would direct me to the monastery.

At length, after a tedious wandering along the hills, I found myself,
unexpectedly, under the convent walls; and, as I was looking for the
gate, the attendant lay brothers came out with lights, in order to search
for me.  Scarcely had I joined them when the Coadjutor and the Secretary
came forward, with the kindest anxiety expressed their uneasiness at my
long absence, and conducted me to my apartment, where Mr. — was waiting,
with no small degree of impatience; but I found not a word had been
mentioned of my adventure with the hermit; so that, I believe, he
strictly kept his vow till the day when the Carthusians are allowed to
speak, and which happened after my departure.

We had hardly supped before the gates of the convent were shut, a
circumstance which disconcerted me not a little, as the full moon gleamed
through the casements, and the stars, sparkling above the forests of
pines, invited me to leave my apartment again, and to give myself up
entirely to the spectacle they offered.

The Coadjutor, perceiving that I was often looking earnestly through the
windows, guessed my wishes, and calling a lay brother, ordered him to
open the gates, and wait at them till my return.  It was not long before
I took advantage of this permission, and escaping from the courts and
cloisters of the monastery, all hushed in death-like stillness, ascended
a green knoll, which several ancient pines strongly marked with their
shadows: there, leaning against one of their trunks, I lifted up my eyes
to the awful barrier of surrounding mountains, discovered by the
trembling silver light of the moon shooting directly on the woods which
fringed their acclivities.

The lawns, the vast woods, the steep descents, the precipices, the
torrents, lay all extended beneath, softened by a pale bluish haze, that
alleviated, in some measure, the stern prospect of the rocky promontories
above, wrapped in dark shadows.  The sky was of the deepest azure;
innumerable stars were distinguished with unusual clearness from this
elevation, many of which twinkled behind the fir-trees edging the
promontories.  White, grey, and darkish clouds came marching towards the
moon, that shone full against a range of cliffs, which lift themselves
far above the others.  The hoarse murmur of the torrent, throwing itself
from the distant wildernesses into the gloomy vales, was mingled with the
blast that blew from the mountains.  It increased.  The forests began to
wave, black clouds rose from the north, and, as they fleeted along,
approached the moon, whose light they shortly extinguished.  A moment of
darkness succeeded; the gust was chill and melancholy; it swept along the
desert, and then subsiding, the vapours began to pass away, and the moon
returned the grandeur of the scene was renewed, and its imposing
solemnity was increased by her presence.  Inspiration was in every wind.

I followed some impulse which drove me to the summit of the mountains
before me; and there, casting a look on the whole extent of wild woods
and romantic precipices, thought of the days of St. Bruno.  I eagerly
contemplated every rock that formerly might have met his eyes; drank of
the spring which tradition says he was wont to drink of; and ran to every
pine whose withered appearance bespoke a remote antiquity, and beneath
which, perhaps, the saint had reposed himself, when worn with vigils, or
possessed with the sacred spirit of his institutions.

It was midnight: the convent bell tolled; for the most solemn hour of
prayer was arrived.  I cannot, nor would I, attempt to unfold to you, in
prose, half the strange things of which I thought, and which I seemed to
see, during this wild excursion.  However, I owe to it the poetical
humour in which I composed the following lines, written immediately on my
return, in the album of the fathers, during the stillest watch of the
night:

                                   ODE.

      To orisons, the midnight bell
   Had toll’d each silent inmate from his cell;
      The hour was come to muse or pray,
   Or work mysterious rites that shun the day:
      My steps some whis’pring influence led,
   Up to yon pine-clad mountain’s gloomy head:
      Hollow and deep the gust did blow,
   And torrents dash’d into the vales below.
      At length the toilsome height attain’d,
   Quick fled the moon, and sudden stillness reign’d.
      As fearful turn’d my searching eye,
   Glanc’d near a shadowy form, and fleeted by;
      Anon, before me full it stood:
   A saintly figure, pale, in pensive mood.
      Damp horror thrill’d me till he spoke,
   And accents faint the charm bound silence broke:
      “Long, trav’ller! ere this region near,
   Say, did not whisp’rings strange arrest thine ear?
      My summons ’twas to bid thee come,
   Where sole the friend of Nature loves to roam.
      Ages long past, this drear abode
   To solitude I sanctified, and God:
      ’Twas here, by love of Wisdom brought,
   Her truest lore, Self-knowledge, first I sought;
      Devoted here my worldly wealth,
   To win my chosen sons immortal health.
      Midst these dun woods, and mountains steep,
   Midst the wild horrors of yon desert deep,
      Midst yawning caverns, wat’ry dells,
   Midst long, sequestered aisles, and peaceful cells,
      No passions fell distract the mind,
   To Nature, Silence, and Herself consign’d.
      In these still mansions who shall bide,
   ’Tis mine, with Heaven’s appointment, to decide;
      But, hither, I invite not all:
   Some want the will to come, and more the call;
      But all, mark well my parting voice!
   Led, or by chance, necessity, or choice
      (Ah! with our Genius dread to sport),
   Sage lessons here may learn of high import.
      Know!  Silence is the nurse of Truth;
   Know!  Temperance long retards the flight of Youth
      Learn here, how penitence and pray’r
   Man’s fallen race for happier worlds prepare;
      Learn mild demeanour, void of art,
   And bear, amidst the world, the hermit’s heart;
      Fix, trav’ller! deep this heaven-taught lore:
   Know Bruno brings it, and returns no more.”
      (Half sighed, half smiled his long farewell),
   He turn’d, and vanish’d in the bright’ning dell.

My imagination was too much disturbed, and my spirits far too active, to
allow me any rest for some time, and I had not long been quieted by
sleep, when I was suddenly awakened by a furious blast, that drove open
my casement, and let in the roar of the tempest, for the night was
troubled.  In the intervals of the storm, in those moments when the winds
seemed to pause, the faint sounds of the choir stole upon my ear; but
were swallowed up the next instant by the redoubled fury of the gust,
which was still increased by the roar of the waters.

I started from my bed, closed the casement, and composed myself as well
as I was able; but no sooner had the sunbeams entered my window, than I
arose, and gladly leaving my cell, hastened to the same knoll where I had
stood the night before.  The storm was dissipated, and the pure morning
air delightfully refreshing; every tree, every shrub, glistened with dew.
A gentle wind breathed upon the woods, and waved the fir-trees on the
cliffs, which, free from clouds, rose distinctly into the clear blue sky.
I strayed from the knoll into the valley between the steeps of wood and
the turrets of the convent, and passed the different buildings, destined
for the manufacture of the articles necessary to the fathers; for nothing
is worn or used within this inclosure which comes from the profane world.

Traversing the meadows and a succession of little dells, where I was so
lately bewildered, I came to a bridge thrown over the torrent, which I
crossed; and here followed a slight path that brought me to an eminence,
covered with a hanging wood of beach-trees feathered to the ground, from
whence I looked down the narrow pass towards Grenoble.  Perceiving a
smoke to arise from the groves which nodded over the eminence, I climbed
up a rocky steep, and, after struggling through a thicket of shrubs,
entered a smooth, sloping lawn, framed in by woody precipices; at one
extremity of which I discovered the cottage, whose smoke had directed me
to this sequestered spot; and, at the other, a numerous group of cattle,
lying under the shade of some beech-trees, whilst several friars, with
long beards and russet garments, were employed in milking them.

The luxuriant foliage of the woods, clinging round the steeps that
skirted the lawn; its gay, sunny exposition; the groups of sleek, dappled
cows, and the odd employment of the friars, so little consonant with
their venerable beards, formed a picturesque and certainly very singular
spectacle.  I, who had been accustomed to behold “milk-maids singing
blithe,” and tripping lightly along with their pails, was not a little
surprised at the silent gravity with which these figures shifted their
trivets from cow to cow; and it was curious to see with what adroitness
they performed their functions, managing their long beards with a
facility and cleanliness equally admirable.

I watched all their movements for some time, concealed by the trees,
before I made myself visible; but no sooner did I appear on the lawn,
than one of the friars quitted his trivet, very methodically set down his
pail, and coming towards me with an open, smiling countenance, desired me
to refresh myself with some bread and milk.  A second, observing what was
going forward, was resolved not to be exceeded in an hospitable act, and,
quitting his pail too, hastened into the woods whence he returned in a
few minutes with some strawberries, very neatly enveloped in fresh
leaves.  These hospitable, milking fathers, next invited me to the
cottage, whither I declined going, as I preferred the shade of the
beeches; so, throwing myself on the dry aromatic herbage, I enjoyed the
pastoral character of the scene with all possible glee.

Not a cloud darkened the heavens; every object smiled; innumerable gaudy
flies glanced in the sunbeams that played in a clear spring by the
cottage; I saw with pleasure the sultry glow of the distant cliffs and
forests, whilst indolently reclined in the shade, listening to the summer
hum; one hour passed after another neglected away, during my repose in
this most delightful of valleys.  The cattle were all slunk into the
recesses of the wood, and were drinking at the streams which flow along
their shades, before I could prevail on myself to quit the turf and the
beech trees.  Never shall I cease regretting the peaceful moments I spent
in Valombré, as never perhaps, were I even to return to it, may so many
circumstances unite to render it pleasing.

When I returned unwillingly to the convent, the only topic on which I
could converse was the charms of Valombré; but notwithstanding the
indifference with which I now regarded the prospects that surrounded the
monastery, I could not disdain an offer made by one of the friars, of
conducting me to the summit of the highest peak in the desert.

Pretty late in the afternoon I set out with my guide, and, following his
steps through many forests of pine, and wild apertures among them,
strewed with fragments, arrived at a chapel, built on a mossy rock, and
dedicated to St. Bruno.

Having once more drunk of the spring that issues from the rock on which
this edifice is raised, I moved forward, keeping my eyes fixed on a lofty
green mountain, whence rises a vast cliff, spiring up to a surprising
elevation; and which (owing to the sun’s reflection on a transparent mist
hovering around it) was tinged with a pale visionary light.  This object
was the goal to which I aspired; and redoubling my activity, I made the
best of my way over rude ledges of rocks, and crumbled fragments of the
mountain interspersed with firs, till I came to the green steeps I had
surveyed at a distance.

These I ascended with some difficulty, and, leaving a few scattered
beech-trees behind, in full leaf, shortly bid adieu to summer, and
entered the regions of spring; for, as I approached that part of the
mountain next the summit, the trees, which I found there rooted in the
crevices, were but just beginning to unfold their leaves, and every spot
of the greensward was covered with cowslips and violets.

After taking a few moments’ repose, my guide prepared to clamber amongst
the rocks, and I followed him with as much alertness as I was able, till
laying hold of the trunk of a withered pine, we sprang upon a small level
space, where I seated myself, and beheld far beneath me the vast desert
and dreary solitudes, amongst which appeared, thinly scattered, the green
meadows and hanging lawns.  The eye next overlooking the barrier of
mountains, ranged through immense tracts of distant countries; the plains
where Lyons is situated; the woodlands and lakes of Savoy; amongst which
that of Bourget was near enough to discover its beauties, all glowing
with the warm haze of the setting sun.

My situation was too dizzy to allow a long survey; so turning my eyes
from the terrific precipice, I gladly beheld an opening in the rocks,
through which we passed into a little irregular glen of the smoothest
greensward, closed in on one side by the great peak, and on the others by
a ridge of sharp pinnacles, which crown the range of white cliffs I had
so much admired the night before, when brightened by the moon.

The singular situation of this romantic spot invited me to remain in it
till the sun was about to sink on the horizon: during which time I
visited every little cave delved in the ridges of rock, and gathered
large sprigs of the mezereon and rhododendron in full bloom, which, with
a surprising variety of other plants, carpeted this lovely glen.  A
luxuriant vegetation,

    “That on the green turf suck’d the honey’d showers,
    And purpled all the ground with vernal flow’rs.”

My guide, perceiving I was ready to mount still higher, told me it would
be in vain, as the beds of snow that lie eternally in some fissures of
the mountain, must necessarily impede my progress; but, finding I was
very unwilling to abandon the enterprise, he showed me a few notches in
the peak, by which we might ascend, though not without danger.  This
prospect rather abated my courage, and the wind rising, drove several
thick clouds round the bottom of the peak, which increasing every minute,
shortly screened the green mountain and all the forest from our sight.  A
sea of vapours soon undulated beneath my feet, and lightning began to
flash from a dark angry cloud, that hung over the valleys, and deluged
them with storms, whilst I was securely standing under the clear expanse
of ether.

But the hour did not admit of my remaining long in this proud station; so
descending, I was soon obliged to pass through the vapours, and,
carefully following my guide (for a false step might have caused my
destruction), wound amongst the declivities, till we left the peak
behind, and just as we reached the green mountain, which was moistened
with the late storm, the clouds fleeted and the evening recovered its
serenity.

Leaving the chapel of St. Bruno on the right, we entered the woods, and
soon emerged from them into a large pasture, under the grand amphitheatre
of mountains, having a gentle ascent before us, beyond which appeared the
neat blue roofs and glittering spires of the convent, where we arrived as
the moon was beginning to assume her empire.

I need not say I rested well after the interesting fatigues of the day.
The next morning, early, I quitted my kind hosts with great reluctance.
The Coadjutor and two other fathers accompanied me to the outward gate,
and there within the solemn circle of the desert bestowed on me their
benediction.

It seemed indeed to come from their hearts, nor would they leave me till
I was a hundred paces from the convent; and then, laying their hands on
their breasts, declared that if ever I was disgusted with the world, here
was an asylum.

I was in a melancholy mood when I traced back all the windings of my
road, and when I found myself beyond the last gate, in the midst of the
wide world again, it increased.

We returned to Les Echelles; from thence to Chamberry, and, instead of
going through Aix, passed by Amecy; but nothing in all the route engaged
my attention, nor had I any pleasing sensations till I beheld the glassy
lake of Geneva, and its lovely environs.

I rejoiced then because I knew of a retirement on its banks where I could
sit and think of Valombré.



FOOTNOTES.


{110}  Hills in the neighbourhood of Quang-Tong.

{127}  The Peries, inhabitants of Ginnistan, live upon perfumes, etc.,
etc.  See Richardson’s Dissertations.

{133}  Thisbe, a favourite greyhound torn to pieces by a mad dog.

{140}  See the description of the Grande Chartreuse.

{156}  The conduct of the emperor, since the death of his mother, seems
to be accomplishing this prediction apace.

{170a}  It is reasonably conjectured that the sea formerly washed the
walls of Padua.

{170b}  T. Livius, L. i., c. i.

{170c}  Lib. v., c. iv., p. 5.

{171}  Called Roscani in Venetian, and reduced to ashes for the glass
manufactory at Murano.

{182}  A nephew of Bertoni, and worthy of his uncle.

{214}  Mentioned by Dante in his “Purgatorio.”

{240}  Mem. pour la Vie de Petrarque, vol. i., p. 439.

{284}  Angela are frequently represented, in legendary tales, as riding
on the beams of the moon.





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