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Title: Loitering in Pleasant Paths
Author: Harland, Marion
Language: English
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[Transcriber's Note: Bold text is surrounded by =equal signs= and italic
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a caret ^.]



LOITERINGS IN PLEASANT PATHS

    BY
    MARION HARLAND
    _Author of “The Dinner Year-Book,” “Common Sense in the Household,”
    Etc._


    NEW YORK
    CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
    743 AND 745 BROADWAY
    1880



    COPYRIGHT BY
    CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS.
    1880.


    TROW’S
    PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY,
    201-213 EAST 12TH STREET,
    NEW YORK.



INTRODUCTION.


WHEN I began the MS. of this book, it was with the intention of
including it in the “Common Sense in the Household Series,” in which
event it was to be entitled, “FAMILIAR TALKS FROM AFAR.”

For reasons that seemed good to my publishers and to me, this purpose
was not carried out, except as it has influenced the tone of the
composition; given to each chapter the character of experiences
remembered and recounted to a few friends by the fireside, rather
than that of a sustained and formal narrative, penned in dignified
seclusion, amid guide-books and written memoranda.

This is the truthful history of the foreign life of an American family
whose main object in “going on a pilgrimage” was the restoration of
health to one of its members. In seeking and finding the lost treasure,
we found so much else which enriched us for all time, that, in the
telling of it, I have been embarrassed by a plethora of materials.
I have described some of the things we wanted to see—as we saw
them,—writing _con amore_, but with such manifold strayings from the
beaten track into by-paths and over moors, and in such homely, familiar
phrase, that I foresee criticism from the disciples of routine and
the sedate students of chronology, topography and general statistics.
I comfort myself, under the prospective infliction, with the belief
which has not played me false in days past,—to wit: that what I have
enjoyed writing some may like to read. I add to this the hope that the
fresh-hearted traveler who dares think and feel for, and of himself, in
visiting the Old World which is to him the New, may find in this record
of how we made it Home to us, practical and valuable hints for the
guidance of his wanderings.

                                                MARION HARLAND.

SPRINGFIELD, MASS., April, 1880.



CONTENTS.


    CHAPTER I.
                                                       PAGE
    The Average Briton,                                   1

    CHAPTER II.
    Olla Podrida,                                        14

    CHAPTER III.
    Spurgeon and Cummings,                               29

    CHAPTER IV.
    The Two Elizabeths,                                  39

    CHAPTER V.
    Prince Guy,                                          52

    CHAPTER VI.
    Shakspeare and Irving,                               67

    CHAPTER VII.
    Kenilworth,                                          84

    CHAPTER VIII.
    Oxford,                                              96

    CHAPTER IX.
    Sky-larks and Stoke-Pogis,                          111

    CHAPTER X.
    Our English Cousins,                                121

    CHAPTER XI.
    Over the Channel,                                   137

    CHAPTER XII.
    Versailles—Expiatory Chapel—Père Lachaise,          154

    CHAPTER XIII.
    Southward Bound,                                    170

    CHAPTER XIV.
    Pope, King, and Forum,                              183

    CHAPTER XV.
    On Christmas-Day,                                   196

    CHAPTER XVI.
    L’Allegro and Il Penseroso,                         216

    CHAPTER XVII.
    With the Skeletons,                                 230

    CHAPTER XVIII.
    “Paul—a Prisoner,”                                  243

    CHAPTER XIX.
    Tasso and Tusculum,                                 258

    CHAPTER XX.
    From Pompeii to Lake Avernus,                       272

    CHAPTER XXI.
    “A Sorosis Lark,”                                   293

    CHAPTER XXII.
    In Florence and Pisa,                               308

    CHAPTER XXIII.
    “Beautiful Venice,”                                 325

    CHAPTER XXIV.
    Bologna,                                            339

    CHAPTER XXV.
    “Non é Possibile!”                                  351

    CHAPTER XXVI.
    Lucerne and The Rigi,                               366

    CHAPTER XXVII.
    Personal and Practical,                             379

    CHAPTER XXVIII.
    Home-life in Geneva—Ferney,                         392

    CHAPTER XXIX.
    Calvin—The Diodati House—Primroses,                 408

    CHAPTER XXX.
    Corinne at Coppet,                                  419

    CHAPTER XXXI.
    Chillon,                                            428



LOITERINGS IN PLEASANT PATHS.



CHAPTER I.

_The Average Briton._


SUNDAY in London: For the first time since our arrival in the city we
saw it under what passes in that latitude and language for sunshine.
For ten days we had dwelt beneath a curtain of gray crape resting upon
the chimney-tops, leaving the pavements dry to dustiness. “Gray crape”
is poetical—rather—and sounds better than the truth, which is, that
the drapery, without fold or shading, over-canopying us, was precisely
in color like very dirty, unbleached muslin, a tint made fashionable
within a year or so, under the name of “Queen Isabella’s linen” (“_le
linge de la Reine Isabeau_”). The fixed cloud depressed and oppressed
us singularly. It was a black screen set above the eyes, which we were
all the while tempted to push up in order to see more clearly and
farther,—a heavy hand upon brain and chest. For the opaqueness, the
clinging rimes of the “London fog,” we were prepared. Of the mysterious
withholding for days and weeks of clouds threatening every minute to
fall, we had never heard. We had bought umbrellas at Sangster’s, as
does every sensible tourist immediately after securing rooms at a
hotel, and never stirred abroad without them; but the pristine plaits
had not been disturbed. Struggle as we might with the notion, we could
not rid ourselves of the odd impression that the whole nation had
gone into mourning. Pleasure-seeking, on the part of sojourners who
respected conventionalities, savored of indecorum. We were more at our
ease in the crypt of St. Paul’s, and among the dead of Westminster
Abbey, than anywhere else, and felt the conclave of murderers, the
blood-flecked faces of the severed heads, the genuine _lunette_ and
knife of Samson’s guillotine in Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors, to
be “quite the thing in the circumstances.”

The evil, nameless spell was broken by the clangor of the Sabbath
bells. “The _gray_ pavilion rose” and did not fall—for twenty-four
hours. Strolling through St. James’s Park in the hour preceding
sunsetting, we pointed out to one another the pale blue, dappled
with white, of the zenith, the reddening mists of the horizon. The
ground was strewed with autumnal leaves, russet and brown. The subdued
monotony of the two shades of decay did not move us to adverse
criticism. The crimsons, golds, and purples that were robing woods we
knew of over the water, would be incongruous in this sober-hued land.
In the matter of light and color, he who tarries in England in autumn,
winter, and early spring, soon learns to be thankful for small favors.
We were grateful and satisfied. We were in a mood to be in love with
England,—“our old home;” still walked her soil as in a blessed dream,
haunted only by sharp dreads of awakening to the knowledge that the
realization of the hopes, and longings, and imaginings of many years
was made of such stuff as had been our cloud-pictures. We were in
process of an experience we were ashamed to speak of until we learned
how common it was with other voyagers, whose planning and pining had
resembled ours in kind and degree. None of us was willing to say how
much time was given to a comical weighing of the identity question,
somewhat after the fashion of poor Nelly on the roadside in the
moonlight:—If this were England, who then were we? If these pilgrims
were ourselves—veritable and unaltered—could it be true that we were
_here_? If I do not express well what was as vague as tormenting, it is
not because the system of spiritual and mental acclimation was not a
reality.

The Palace of St. James, a range of brick and dinginess, stretched
before us as we returned to the starting-point of the walk around
the park, taking in the Bird-cage Walk, where Charles II. built his
aviaries and lounged, Nelly Gwynne, or the Duchess of Portsmouth, at
his side, a basket of puppies hung over his lace collar and ruffled
cravat. It is not a palatial pile—even to eyes undried from the juice
of Puck’s “little western flower.”

“It would still be a very decent abode for the horses of royalty—hardly
for their grooms,” said Caput, critically. “And it is worth looking at
when one remembers how long bloody Mary lay there, hideous, forsaken,
half dead, the cancerous memories of Calais and Philip’s desertion
consuming her vitals. There lived and died the gallant boy who was the
eldest son of James I. If he had succeeded to the throne his brother
Charles would have worn his head more comfortably and longer upon his
shoulders. That is, unless, as in the case of Henry VIII., the manhood
of the Prince of Wales had belied the promise of early youth.”

“It was in St. James’s Palace that Charles spent his last night,” I
interrupted. It takes a long time for the novice to become accustomed
to the strange thrill that vibrates through soul and nerves when such
reminiscences overtake him, converting the place whereon he stands
into holy ground. I was a novice, and rushed on impetuously. “The
rooms in which he slept and made his toilet for the scaffold were in
the old Manor-house, a wing of the palace since torn down. Why can’t
they let things alone? But the park is here, and—” glancing dubiously
along the avenues—“it is just possible—altogether possible—that some
of these oldest trees may be the same that stood here then. On that
morning, when—you remember?—the ground being covered lightly with snow,
the king walked with a quick step across the park to Whitehall, calling
to the guard, ‘Step on apace, my good fellows!’”

Measuring with careful eye an air line between the palace and a
building with a cupola, on the St. James Street side of the park, we
turned our steps along this. The dying leaves rustled under our feet,
settling sighingly into the path behind us. The “light snow” had
muffled the ring of the “quick step” more like the impatient tread of a
bridegroom than that of a doomed man shortening the already brief space
betwixt him and fate. Within the shadow of Whitehall, we paused.

“The scaffold was built just without the window of the
banqueting-hall,” we reminded each other. “As late as the reign of
William and Mary, the king’s blood was visible upon the window-sill.
Jacobites made great capital of the insensibility of his granddaughter,
who held her drawing-rooms in that very apartment. The crowd must have
been densest about here, and spread far into the park. But how can we
know just where the scaffold stood? It was low, for the people leaped
upon it after the execution and dipped handkerchiefs in the blood,
to be laid away as precious relics. Those windows are rather high!”
glancing helplessly upward. “And which is the banqueting-hall?”

“Baldeker’s London” was then in press for the rescue of the next
season’s traveller from like pits of perplexity. Not having it, and the
“hand-books” we had provided ourselves with proving dumb guides in the
emergency, the simplest and most natural road out of ignorance was to
ask a question or two of some intelligent native-born Londoner.

In this wise, then, we first made the acquaintance of the Average
Briton,—a being who figured almost as often in our subsequent
wanderings as did the travelling American. I do not undertake to say
which was the more ridiculous or vexatious of the two, according as
our purpose at the time of meeting them chanced to be diversion or
information.

The Average Briton of this Sabbath-day was smug and rotund; in
complexion, rubicund; complacent of visage, and a little rolling in
gait, being duck-legged. A child trotted by him upon a pair of limbs
cut dutifully after the paternal pattern, swinging upon the paternal
hand. Upon the other side of the central figure, arrayed in matronly
black silk and a velvet hat with a white plume, walked a lady of whom
Hawthorne has left us a portrait:

“She has an awful ponderosity of frame, not pulpy, like the looser
development of our few fat women, but massive with solid beef and
streaky tallow; so that (though struggling manfully against the
idea) you inevitably think of her as made up of steaks and sirloins.
She imposes awe and respect by the muchness of her personality to
such a degree that you probably credit her with far greater moral
and intellectual force than she can fairly claim. Without anything
positively salient, or actually offensive, or, indeed, unjustly
formidable to her neighbors, she has the effect of a seventy-four gun
ship in time of peace.” I had ample time to remember and to verify each
line of the picture during the parley with her husband that succeeded
our encounter. A citizen of London-town was he. We were so far right
in our premises. One who had attended “divine service” in the morning;
partaken of roast mutton and a pint of half-and-half at an early
dinner; who would presently go home from this stretch of the legs, with
good appetite and conscience to a “mouthful of somethink ’ot with his
tea,” and come up to time with unflagging powers to bread, cheese, cold
meat, pickles, and ale, at a nine o’clock supper. Our old home teems
with such. Heaven send them length of days and more wit!

Caput stepped into the path of the substantial pair; lifted his hat in
recognition of the lady’s presence and apology for the interruption.

“Excuse me, sir—”

I groaned inwardly. Had I not drilled him in the omission of the
luckless monosyllable ever since we saw the Highlands of Navesink melt
into the horizon? How many times had I iterated and reiterated the
adage?—“In England one says ‘sir’ to prince, master, or servant. It is
a confession of inferiority, or an insult.” Nature and (American) grace
were too strong for me.

“Excuse me, sir! But can you tell me just where the scaffold was
erected on which Charles the First was executed?”

The Average Briton stared bovinely. Be sure he did not touch his hat to
me, nor echo the “sir,” nor yet betray how flatteringly it fell upon
his unaccustomed ear. Being short of stature, he stared at an angle of
forty-five degrees to gain his interlocutor’s face, unlocked his shaven
jaws and uttered in a rumbling stomach-base the Shibboleth of his tribe
and nation:

“I really carnt say!”

Caput fell back in good order—_i. e._, raising his hat again to the
Complete British Matron, whose face had not changed by so much as
the twitch of an eyelid while the colloquy was in progress. She paid
no attention whatever to the homage offered to the sex through “the
muchness of her personality,” nor were the creases in her lord’s double
chin deepened by any inclination of his head.

“The fellow is an underbred dolt!” said Caput, looking after them as
they sailed along the walk.

“In that case it is a pity you called him ‘sir,’ and said ‘erected’
and ‘executed,’” remarked I, with excruciating mildness. “Here comes
another! Ask him where King Charles was beheaded.”

No. 2 was smugger and smoother than No. 1. He had silvery
hair and mutton-leg whiskers, and a cable watch-chain trained
over a satin waistcoat, adjuncts which imparted a look of yet
intenser respectability. There was a moral and social flavor of
bank-directorships and alder-manic expectations about him, almost
warranting the “sir” which slipped again from the incorrigible tongue.

We had the same answer to a word and intonation. The formula must be
taught to them over their crib-rails as our babies are drilled to
lisp—“Now I lay me.” Grown reckless and slightly wicked, we accosted
ten others in quick succession in every variety of phraseology, of
which the subject was susceptible, but always to the same effect. Where
stood the scaffold of Charles the First, Charles Stuart, Charles the
Martyr, Charles, father of the Merry Monarch, the grandparent of Mary
of Orange and Good Queen Anne? Could any man of British mould designate
to us the terminus of that quick step over the snowy park on the
morning of the 30th of January, 1649, the next stage to that “which,
though turbulent and troublesome, would be a very short one, yet would
carry him a great way—even from earth to Heaven?”

Eight intelligent Londoners said, “I really carnt say!” more or less
drawlingly. Two answered bluntly, “Dawnt know!” over their shoulders,
without staying or breaking their saunter. Finally, we espied a youth
sitting under a tree—one of those from which the melting snow might
have dropped upon the prisoner’s head—why not the thrifty oak he
had pointed out to Bishop Juxon in nearing Whitehall, as “the tree
planted by my brother Henry?” The youth was neatly dressed, comely of
countenance, and he held an open book, his eyes riveted upon the open
page.

“That looks promising!” ejaculated Caput. There was genuine respect in
his address:

“I beg your pardon for interrupting you, but can you inform me, etc.,
etc.?”

The student raised his head, and looked at us with lacklustre or
abstracted eyes.

“Hey?”

Caput repeated the query distinctly and with emphasis.

“Chawles the First?”

“Yes!” less patiently. “The king whose head was cut off by order of
Cromwell’s parliament, under the windows of Whitehall, in 1649?”

“Never heard of him!” rejoined the countryman of Hume, Macaulay, and
Froude, resuming his studies.

Caput recoiled as from an electric eel. “I wouldn’t have believed it,
had any one else heard and repeated it to me!” gasped he, when out of
ear-shot. “Do you suppose there is a hod-carrier in Boston who does not
know the history of Faneuil Hall?”

“Hundreds! Hod-carriers are usually of foreign birth.”

“Or a school-boy in America who never heard of Arnold’s treason and
André’s fate? Or, for that matter, who cannot, when twelve years old,
tell the whole story of King Charles’s death, even to the ‘Remember!’
as he laid his head upon the block?”

I had a new difficulty to present.

“While you have been catechizing the enlightened British public, I have
been thinking—and I am afraid we are sentimentalizing in the wrong
place. I have harrowing doubts as to this being the real Whitehall.
The palace was burned in the time of William and Mary—or a portion of
it—and but partially rebuilt by Inigo Jones. There is altogether too
much of this to be the genuine article. And it is startlingly modern!”

It was a spacious building, and did not look as if it had a story. The
exterior was stuccoed and smoke-blackened, but the London air would
have dyed it to such complexion in ten years. A belvidere or cupola
finished it above. Beneath this, on the ground-floor, separating the
wings, was an archway leading into St. James Street. The citizens whom
we had questioned had, with the exception of the student, emerged from
or disappeared in this passage from park to thoroughfare. We saw now a
sentinel, in red coat and helmet, turn in his beat up and down under
the arch.

“Is this Old Whitehall?” we asked.

He shook his head without halting.

“Where is it?”

He pointed to a building on the opposite side of the street. It was two
stories—lofty ones—high above the basement. Twenty-one windows shone in
the handsome front. We traversed the arched passage, planted ourselves
upon the sidewalk and gazed, bewildered, at the one-and-twenty windows.
Through which of them had passed the kingly form we seemed to have seen
for ourselves, so familiar were the oval face and pointed beard, the
great eyes darkened all his life long with prophecy of doom? Through
which had been borne the outraged corpse, the bloody drippings staining
the sill? Upon what spot of the pavement trodden by the throng of
Sabbath idlers had fallen the purple rain from a monarch’s heart? For
sweet pity’s sake, had none marked the place by so much as a cross
in the flagging? All else around us bore the stamp of a later age.
Were the apparently venerable walls pointed out by the sentinel the
banqueting-hall where the granddaughter held her court, or was this
Inigo Jones’s (the Inevitable) restoration?

“One might imagine regicide so common a crime in England as not to be
considered worthy of special note!” we grumbled, a strong sense of
injury upon our foiled souls.

Just then down the street strode a policeman, and, at sight of our
puzzled faces, hesitated with an inquiring look. I cheerfully offer my
testimony here to the civility, intelligence, and general benevolence
of the London police. We met them always when we needed their services,
and as invariably found them ready and able to do all we required of
them, sometimes insisting upon going a block out of their way to show
us our route. Perfunctory politeness? It may have been, but it was so
much better than none at all, or surly familiarity! The man to whom we
now addressed ourselves was tall and brawny, with features that lighted
pleasantly in the hearing of our tale of defeat.

“My father used to tell me,” he said, respectful still, but dropping
into the easy conversational strain an exceptionally obliging New
York “Bobby” might use in like circumstances, “that the king was led
out through that window,” indicating, not one of the triple row in
the banqueting-room, but a smaller in a lower and older wing, “and
executed in front of the main hall. Some say the banqueting-chamber was
not burned with the rest of the palace. Others that it was. My father
was inclined to believe that this is the original building. I have
heard him tell the tale over and over until you might have thought
he had been there himself. The Park ran clear up to Old Whitehall
then, you see—where this street is now. The crowd covered all this
ground where we are standing, the soldiers being nearest the scaffold.
_That_ stood, as nearly as I can make out, about _there_!” tapping the
sidewalk with his stick. “A few feet to the right or the left don’t
make much difference, you know, sir. It does seem queer, and a little
sad, there’s not so much as a stone let into the wall, or a bit of an
inscription. But those were rough times, you know.”

“We are very much obliged to you!” Caput said heartily, holding out his
hand, the palm significantly inverted.

The man shook his head. “Not at all, sir! Against the rules of the
force! I have done nothing worth talking about. If my father were
living, now! But people nowadays care less and less for old stories.”

He touched his cap in moving away.

“The truest gentleman we have met this afternoon!” pronounced Caput.
“Now, we will go back into the park, out of this bustle, and think it
all over!”

This had become already a pet phrase and a pet practice with us. The
amateur dramatization, sometimes partially spoken, for the most part
silent, was our way of appropriating and assimilating as our very
own what we saw and learned. It was a family trick, understood among
ourselves. Quiet, freedom from platitudinal queries and comment,
and comparative solitude, were the favorable conditions for fullest
enjoyment of it.

The student was so absorbed in his book—I hope it was history!—as not
to see us when we passed. The sunlight fell aslant upon the dark-red
walls of the old palace, lying low, long, and gloomy, across the end of
the walk. A stiff, dismal place—yet Elizabeth, in all her glory, had
been moderately contented with it. Within a state bed-chamber, yet to
be seen, the equivocal circumstances—or the coincidences interpreted
as equivocal by the faction hostile to the crown,—attending the birth
of the son of James II. and Mary of Modena laid the first stone of the
mass of distrust that in the end crushed the hopes of “The Pretender.”
The “first gentleman of Europe” opened his baby eyes in this vulgar
world under the roof of the house his father had already begun to
consider unfit for a king’s dwelling, and to meditate taxation of
his American colonies for funds with which to build a greater. Queen
Victoria was married in the Chapel of St. James, adjoining the palace.
Upon the mantel of the venerable Presence-chamber are the initials of
Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn, intertwisted in a loving tangle. They
should have been fashioned in wax instead of the sterner substance that
had hardly left the carver’s hand for the place of honor in the royal
drawing-room before the vane of Henry’s affections veered from Anne to
Jane. It is said that he congratulated himself and the new queen upon
the involutions of the cipher that might be read almost as plainly “H.
J.” as “H. A.” So, there it stands—the sad satire upon wedded love that
mocked the eyes of discreet Jane, the one consort who died a natural
death while in possession of his very temporary devotion,—and the two
Katherines who succeeded her.

By contrast with sombre St. James’s, Buckingham Palace is a
meretricious mushroom, scarcely deserving a passing glance. The air
was bland for early November, and we sat upon a bench under a tree
that let slow, faded leaves down upon our heads while we “thought it
all over,” until the gathering glooms in the deep archway, flanked by
sentry-boxes, shaped themselves into a procession of the “born and
died” in the low-browed chambers. To recite their names would be to
give an abstract of the history of the mightiest realm of the earth for
four centuries.

And, set apart by supreme sorrow from his fellows, ever foremost in our
dream-pictures, walked he, who “made trim,” by his own command, “for
his second marriage-day,” hastened through the snowy avenues of the
park to find a pillow for the Lord’s anointed upon the headsman’s block
before the windows of the banqueting-room of Whitehall.



CHAPTER II.

_Olla Podrida._


IN one week we had been twice to Westminster Abbey, once to the Tower;
had seen St. Paul’s, Hyde Park, Tussaud’s Wax Works, Mr. Spurgeon,
the New Houses of Parliament, Billingsgate, the Monument, Hyde Park,
the British Museum, and more palaces than I can or care to remember.
In all this time we had not a ray of sunshine, but neither had a drop
of rain fallen. We began to leave umbrellas at home, and to be less
susceptible in spirits to the glooming of the dusky canopy upborne by
the chimneys. That one clear—for London—Sunday had made the curtain so
nearly translucent as to assure us that behind the clouds the sun was
still shining, and we took heart of grace for sight-seeing.

But in the course of seven smoky-days we became slightly surfeited
with “lions.” Weary, to employ a culinary figure, of heavy roast and
boiled, we longed for the variety of spicy _entrées_—savory “little
dishes” not to be found on the _carte_, and which were not served to
the conventional sight-seer. One morning, when the children had gone to
“the Zoo” with papa and The Invaluable, Prima—the sharer with me of the
aforesaid whim—and myself left the hotel at ten o’clock to carry into
effect a carefully-prepared programme. We had made a list of places
where “everybody” did not go; which “Golden Guides” and “Weeks in
London” omitted entirely, or slurred over with slighting mention; which
local ciceroni knew not of, and couriers disdained, but each of which
had for us peculiar association and attraction.

Four-wheelers were respectable for unattended women, and cheaper than
hansoms. But there was a tincture of adventure in making our tour in
one of the latter, not taking into account the advantages of being
able to see all in front of us, and the less “stuffy” odor of the
interior. Sallying forth, with a pricking, yet delicious sense of
questionableness that recalled our school-day pranks, we sought the
nearest cab-stand and selected a clean-looking vehicle, drawn by a
strong horse with promise of speed in body and legs. The driver was an
elderly man in decent garb. The entire establishment seemed safe and
reputable so far as the nature of our enterprise could partake of these
characteristics. When seated, we gave an order with inward glee, but
perfect gravity of demeanor.

“Newgate Prison!”

We had judged shrewdly respecting the qualities of our horse. It was
exhilarating, even in the dull, dead atmosphere we could not breathe
freely while on foot, to be whirled through the unknown streets, past
delightless parks and dolefuller mansions in the West End, in and out
of disjointed lanes that ran madly up to one turn and down to another,
as if seeking a way out of the mesh of “squares” and “roads” and
“rows,”—perceiving satisfiedly, as we did all the time, that we were
leaving aristocratic and even respectable purlieus behind as speedily
as if our desires, and not the invisible “cabby,” shaped our flight. We
brought up with a jerk. Cabs—in the guidance of old or young men—have
one manner of stopping; as if the “concern,” driver, horse and hansom,
had meant to go on for ever, like Tennyson’s brook, and reversed the
design suddenly upon reaching the address given them, perhaps, an hour
ago. We jerked up now, in a narrow street shut in on both sides by
black walls. The trap above our heads opened.

“Newgate on the right, mem! Old Bailey on the left!”

The little door shut with a snap. We leaned forward for a sight of the
prison on the right. Contemptible in dimensions by comparison with
the spacious edifice of our imaginations, it was in darksomeness and
relentless expression, a stony melancholy that left hope out of the
question, just what it should—and must—have been. The pall enwrapping
the city was thickest just here, resting, like wide, evil wings upon
the clustered roofs we could see over the high wall. The air was
lifeless; the street strangely quiet. Besides ourselves we did not see
a human being within the abhorrent precincts. The prison-front, facing
the smaller “Old Bailey,” is three hundred feet long. In architecture
it is English,—bald and ugly as brick, mortar, and iron can make it. In
three minutes we loathed the place.

“You can go on!” I called to the pilot, pushing up the flap in the
roof. “Drive to the church in which the condemned prisoners used to
hear their last sermon.”

“Yes, mem!” Now we detected a rich, full-bodied Scotch brogue in his
speech. “Pairhaps ye wouldna’ moind knawing that by that gett—where
ye’ll see the bairs—the puir wretches went on the verra same mornin’.
Wha passed by that gett never cam’ back.”

It was a dour-looking passage to a disgraceful death; a small door
crossed by iron bars, and fastened with a rusty chain. It made us sick
to think who had dragged their feet across the dirt-crusted threshold,
and when.

The cab jerked up again in half a minute, although we had rushed off at
a smart trot that engaged to land us at least a mile off.

“St. Sephulchre’s, mem!”

I have alluded to the difficulty of determining the age of London
buildings from the outward appearance. A year in the sooty moisture
that bathes them for seven or eight months out of twelve, destroys all
fairness of coloring, leaving them without other beauty than such as
depends upon symmetrical proportions, graceful outlines and carving.
The humidity eats into the pores of the stone as cosmetics impair the
texture of a woman’s skin. But St. Sepulchre has a right to be _blasé_.
It antedated the Great Fire of 1666, the noble porch escaping ruin
from the flames as by a miracle. It is black, like everything else
in the neighborhood, and, to our apprehension, not comely beyond the
portico. The interior is as cheerless as the outside, cold and musty.
Throughout, the church has the air of a battered crone with the sins
of a fast youth upon her conscience. There are vaults beneath the
floor, lettered memorial-stones in the aisle, tarnished brasses on
the walls. Clammy sweats break out upon floor, walls, pews and altar
in damp weather, and this day of our visit had begun to be damp. It
was an unwholesome place even to be buried in. What we wanted to see
was a flat stone on the southern side of the choir, reached in bright
weather by such daring sunbeams as could make their way through a
window, the glass of which was both painted and dirty. A brownish-gray
stone, rough-grained, and so much defaced that imagination comes to the
help of the eyes that strive to read it: “_Captain John Smith—Sometime
Governour of Virginia and Admirall of New-England._” He died in 1631,
aged fifty-two. The Three Turks’ Heads are still discernible upon the
escutcheon above the inscription. The rhyming epitaph begins with—

    “Here lyes One conquer^{d} that Hath conquer^{d} Kings.”

We knew that much and failed to decipher the rest.

Family traditions, tenderly transmitted through eight generations,
touching the unwritten life of the famous soldier of fortune, of the
brother who was his heir-at-law, and bequeathed the coat-of-arms to
American descendants, were our nursery tales. For him whose love of
sea and wildwood was a passion captivity nor courts could tame, his
burial-place is a sorry one, although esteemed honorable. I think
he would have chosen rather an unknown grave upon the border of the
Chickahominy or James, the stars, that had guided him through swamp
and desert, for tapers, instead of organ-thrill and incense, the
song of mockingbirds and scent of pine woods. The more one knows and
thinks and sees of St. Sepulchre’s the less tolerant is he of it as a
spot of sepulture for this gallant and true knight. They interred him
there because it was his parish church. But they—the English—are not
backward in removing other people’s bones when it suits their pride
or convenience to do so. In the square tower, lately restored, hangs
the bell that has tolled for two hundred years when the condemned
passed out of the little iron gate we had just seen. They used to
hang them at Tyburn, afterward in the street before the prison. Now,
executions take place privately within the Newgate walls. In the brave
old times, when refinement of torture was appreciated more highly than
now as a means of grace and a Christian art, the criminal had the
privilege of hearing his own funeral sermon,—which was rarely, we may
infer, a panegyric,—seated upon his coffin in the broad aisle of St.
Sepulchre’s. There was a plat of flowers then in the tiny yard where
the grass cannot sprout now for the coal-dust, and as the poor creature
took his place—the service done—upon the coffin in the cart that was to
take him to the gallows, a child was put forward to present him with a
bouquet of blossoms grown under the droppings of the sanctuary. What
manner of herbs could they have been? Rue, rosemary, life-everlasting?
Yet they may have had their message to the dim eyes that looked down
upon them—for the quailing human heart—of the Father’s love for the
lowest and vilest of His created things.

“Temple Bar!” was our next order.

Before we reached it our driver checked his horse of his own accord,
got down from his perch at the back, and presented his weather-beaten
face at my side.

“I’ve thocht”—respectfully, and with unction learned in the
“kirk”—“that it might eenterest the leddies to know that this is
the square where mony hundreds of men, wimmen, and, one may say,
_eenfants_, were burrned alive for the sake of the FAITH.”

And in saying it, he lifted his hat quite from his head in reverence,
we were touched to note, was not meant for us, but as a tribute to
those of whom the world was not worthy.

“Smithfield!” we cried in a breath. “Oh! let us get out!”

It is a hollow square, a small, railed-in garden and fountain in the
middle; around these extends on three sides an immense market, the
pride of modern London, a structure of much pretension, with four
towers and a roof, like that of a conservatory, of glass and iron,
supported by iron pillars. A very Babel of buying and selling, of
hawkers’ and carters’ yells, at that early hour of the day. The stake
was near the fine old church of St. Bartholomew, which faces the open
space. Excepting the ancient temple, founded in 1102, there is no
vestige of the Smithfield (_Smooth_-field) where Wallace was hanged,
drawn and quartered in 1305; where the “Gentle Mortimer” of a royal
paramour was beheaded in 1330, and, in the reign of Mary I., the “Good
Catholic,” three hundred of her subjects, John Rogers and Bradford
among them, were burned with as little scruple as the white-aproned
butcher in the market-stall near by slices off a prime steak for a
customer. The church has been several times restored, but the Norman
tower bears the date 1628. It, too, felt the Great Fire, and the heat
and smoke of crueller flames, in the midst of which One like unto the
Son of Man walked with His children. Against the walls was built the
stage for the accommodation of the Lord Mayor of London, the Duke of
Norfolk and the Earl of Bedford, that they might, at their ease, behold
Anne Askew burn. They were in too prudent dread of the explosion of the
powder-bag tied about her waist to sit near enough to hear her say to
the sheriff’s offer of pardon if she would recant—“I came not hither to
deny my Lord!”

St. Bartholomew the Great stands yet in Smithfield. Above it bow the
heavens that opened to receive the souls born into immortality through
the travail of that bloody reign. Forty years ago, they were digging
in the ground in front of the church to lay pavements, or gas-pipes,
or water-mains, or some other nineteenth-century device, and the picks
struck into a mass of charred human bones.

“_Unknown!_” Stephen Gardiner and his helpers had a brisk run of
business between St. Andrew’s Day, 1554, and November 17, 1558. There
was no time to gather up the fragments. Ah, well! God and His angels
knew where was buried the precious seed of the Church.

How the cockles of our canny Scot’s heart warmed toward us when he
perceived that he and we were of one mind anent Smithfield! that we
took in, without cavil, the breadth and depth of his words—“THE FAITH!”
During that busy four years tender women, girls and babes in age
proved, with strong men, what it meant to “earnestly contend for” it.

In a gush of confidence induced by the kinship of sentiment upon this
point, we told our friend what we wanted to see in the city, that day,
and why, and found him wonderfully versed in other matters besides
martyrology. He named a dozen places of interest not upon our schedule,
and volunteered to call out the names of noted localities through the
loop-hole overhead, as we passed them. This arrangement insured the
success of our escapade, for his judicious selection of routes, so as
to waste no time in barren neighborhoods, was only surpassed by the
quality of the pellets of information dropped into our ears.

St. John’s gate was, in aspect, the most venerable relic we saw in
London. They told us in the office at the gateway that it and the
Priory—now destroyed—were built in 1111; but recollecting that the
Pope’s confirmation of the first constitution of the Order of the
Knights of St. John of Jerusalem bore date of 1113, we nursed some
unspoken doubts. The prior who finished the building in 1504 modestly
left his family coat-of-arms upon the wall of the small entrance-room,
now used as an office. This black and bruised arch marks what was the
rallying-point of British chivalry and piety during three crusades.
Out of this gate the Hospitaliers drew forth in mingled martial and
ecclesiastical array—white gown with the red cross on shoulder, over
hauberk and greaves,—at each departure for the Holy Land. Godfrey de
Bouillon was an influential member and patron of the Order. Henry
VIII. scattered the brethren and pocketed their revenues. His daughter
Mary reinstated them in their home and privileges. Her sister Elizabeth
would none of them, and that was an end of the controversy, for she
lived long enough to enforce her decree.

Cave’s “Gentleman’s Magazine” was published here when gentlemen ceased
to ride, booted, spurred, and illiterate, upon the crusades against
the Saracen. Johnson, a slovenly provincial usher, having failed as
translator and schoolmaster to make a living, applied for, and received
from this periodical literary employment—the first paying engagement
of his life. For more than a dozen years he was a contributor
to the Magazine, and the office above the gate was his favorite
lounging-place. As a proof of this they show a chair, ungainly and
unclean enough to have been used by him throughout the period of his
contributorship.

East of St. John’s Gate we passed a disused intramural cemetery,
begloomed on all sides by rows of dingy houses. The rain of “blacks”
incessantly descending upon the metropolis collects here in unstirred,
sable sheets. Such a pall enfolds the graves of Isaac Watts and Daniel
Defoe, whose “Diary of the Great Plague” is a work of more dramatic
power than his Robinson Crusoe. A stone’s throw apart from hymnster
and romancist, lies a greater than either—the prince of dreamers, John
Bunyan.

Temple Bar is—or was, for it has been pulled down since we were
there—an arch of Portland stone, and is attributed, I hope,
erroneously, to Christopher Wren. Without this information I should
have said that it was a wooden structure, badly hacked, gnawed, and
besmirched by time, with dirty plaster statues of the two Charleses
niched upon one side, and, upon the other, corresponding figures of
James I. and Elizabeth. It was much lower than we had supposed, and
than it is represented in pictures, and just wide enough to allow
two coaches to pass abreast without collision. The roaring tide
overflowing the Strand and Fleet Street appeared to squeeze through
with difficulty. Above the gate was a row of one-story offices—mere
boxes—such as are occupied in our country by newspaper-venders. Within
the memory of living men the top of the gate was a thick-set hedge of
spikes, reckoned, not very many years back, as one of the bulwarks
of English liberties. Up to the middle of the eighteenth century,
law-abiding cockneys, on their peregrinations to and from the city,
were strengthened in loyalty and veneration for established customs,
by the spectacle of rotting and desiccated heads of traitors exposed
here. They were tardy in the abolition of object-teaching in Christian
England. There were solid oaken gates with real hinges and bars at
Temple Gate. When the sovereign paid a visit to the city she was
reminded of some agreeable passages between one of her predecessors
and the London lords of trade, by finding these closed. Her pursuivant
blew a trumpet; there was an exchange of question and reply; the oaken
leaves swung back; the Lord Mayor presented his sword to our gracious
and sovereign lady, the queen, who returned it to him with an affable
smile, and the royal coach was suffered to pass under the Bar. More
object-teaching!

From Temple Gate to Temple Gardens was a natural transition. These
famous grounds formerly sloped down to the Thames, and were an airy,
spacious promenade. Now, one smiles in reading that Suffolk found it a
“more convenient” place for private converse than the “Temple Hall.”
A talk between four gentlemen of the rank of Plantagenet, Suffolk,
Somerset and Warwick, in the pretty plat of grass and flowers, fenced
in by iron rails, would have eavesdroppers by the score, and the
incident of plucking the roses be overlooked by the gossips of fifty
tenement-houses. But the area, sadly circumscribed by the encroachments
of business, is a sightly bit of green, intersected by gravel walks,
and in the season enlivened by the flaming geraniums that not even
London “blacks” can put out of countenance. We really saw rose-trees
there in flower, the following August.

In one particular, and one only, the knowledge and zeal of our
Scotchman were at fault in the course of our Bohemian expedition. I
have said that Baedeker’s excellent “Hand-book for London” was in the
printer’s hands just when we needed it most. Therefore we searched
vainly in St. Paul’s Churchyard for Dr. Johnson’s Coffee-house, where
Boswell hung upon his lumbering periods, as bees upon honeysuckle;
for the site of the Queen’s Arms Tavern, also a resort of the
literati in the time of the great Lexicographer. We were mortified
at our ill-success, chiefly because we ascribed it to the very lame
and imperfect descriptions of these places which were all we could
offer the Average Britons of whom we made inquiry. We were in no such
uncertainty as to the Chapter Coffee-house in Paternoster Row; Mrs.
Gaskell had been there before us and left so broad a “blaze” we could
hardly miss seeing it.

“Half-way up (the Row), on the left hand side, is the Chapter
Coffee-house. It is two hundred years old, or so.... The ceilings of
the small rooms were low, and had heavy beams running across them; the
walls were wainscoted breast-high; the staircase was shallow, broad,
and dark, taking up much space in the centre of the house. This,
then, was the Chapter Coffee-house, which, a century ago, was the
resort of all the booksellers and publishers; and where the literary
hacks, the critics, and even the wits, used to go in search of ideas,
or employment. This was the place about which Chatterton wrote, in
those delusive letters he sent to his mother at Bristol, while he was
starving in London. ‘I am quite familiar at the Chapter Coffee-house,
and know all the geniuses there.’ Here he heard of chances of
employment; here his letters were to be left.”

Here the Brontë sisters, visiting London upon business connected with
“Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights,” stayed for two days, resisting the
invitation of their publisher to come to his house.

Charlotte’s biographer had gone on to draw for us with graphic pen a
scene of later date:

“The high, narrow windows looked into the gloomy Row. The sisters,
clinging together on the most remote window-seat, could see nothing
of motion or of change in the grim, dark houses opposite, so near and
close although the whole breadth of the Row was between. The mighty
roar of London was round them, like the sound of an unseen ocean, yet
every foot-fall on the pavement below might be heard distinctly in that
unfrequented street.”

When we made known our purpose to the guide, who, by this time, had
taken upon him the character of protector, likewise, he was puzzled
but obedient. He got down at the mouth of the crooked Row and begged
permission to do our errand.

“The horse is pairfectly quiet, and there’s quite a dreezle comin’ on.”

This was true. The fog that had seemed dry so long, was falling. The
uneven, round stones were very wet. But why not drive down the street
until we found the house we were looking for?

He rubbed his grizzled, sandy hair into a mop of perplexity.

“The way is but strait at the best, as ye may pairceive, leddies, and
it wad be unco’ _nosty_ to meet a cab, or, mayhap, a four-wheeler in
some pairts.”

We primed him with minute directions and let him depart upon the voyage
of discovery, while we leaned back under the projecting hood of the
carriage, sheltered by it and the queer, wooden folding-doors above
our knees, from the “dreezle,” and speculated why “Paternoster” Row
should be near to and in a line with “Amen” and “Ave Maria” corners.
What august processional had passed that way, and pausing at given
stations to say an “Ave,” a “Paternoster,” a united “Amen,” left behind
it names that would be repeated as long and ignorantly as the Cross
of “_Notre Chère Reine_” and “_La Route du Roi_” are murdered into
cockney English? That led to the telling of a dispute Caput had had
one day with a cabman, who, by the way, had jumped from his box on the
road to Hyde Park corner to say: “No, sir, we’re not at H’Apsley ’Ouse
yet, sir! But I fancied it might h’interest the lady to know that the
pavement we are a-drivin’ over at this h’identical minute, sir, h’is
composed h’entirely of wood!”

“We have hundreds of miles of it in America, and wish you had it all!”
retorted Caput, amused, but impatient. “Go on!”

Having seen Apsley and Stafford Houses, we bade the fellow take us to a
certain number on Oxford Street. He declared there was no such street
in the city, and jumped down from his seat to confirm his assertion out
of the mouths of three or four other “cabbies” at a hackstand. A brisk
altercation ensued, ended by Caput’s exhibition of an open guide-book
and pointing to the name.

“Ho! hit’s _Hugsfoot_ Street you mean!” cried the disgusted cockney.

As I finished the anecdote our Scot returned, crestfallen. He did
not say we had sent him on a fool’s errand, but we began to suspect
it ourselves when we undertook the quest in person. We were wrapped
in waterproofs and did not mind the fine, soaking mist, except as it
made the strip of flagging next the shops slippery, as with coal-oil.
Paternoster Row retains its bookish character. Every second shop was
a publisher’s, printer’s, or stationer’s. Everybody was civil. N.
B.—Civility is a part of a salesman’s trade in England. But everybody
stared blankly at our questions relative to the Chapter Coffee-house,
although the very name fixed it in this locality. One and all said,
first or last—“I really carn’t say!” and several observed politely
that “it was an uncommon nasty day.” One added, “But h’indeed, at this
season, we may look for nasty weather.”

One word about this pet adjective of the noble Briton of both sexes.
It is quite another thing from the American word, spelled but not
pronounced in the same way, and which, with us, seldom passes the lips
of well-bred people. An English lady once told me that a hotel she
had patronized was “very clean—neat as wax, in fact, and handsomely
furnished, but a very-very _nasty_ house!”

She meant, it presently transpired, that the fare was scant in
quantity, and the landlord surly. Whatever is disagreeable, mean,
unsatisfactory, from any cause whatsoever, is “nasty.” When they would
intensify the expression they say “beastly,” and fold over the leaf
upon the list of expletives.

We did not find our coffee-house, nor anybody who looked or spoke
as if he ever heard of the burly Lichfield bear or his parasite, of
Chatterton or Horace Walpole, much less of the Rowley MSS. or the
sisters Brontë! Nor were we solaced for the disappointment by driving
three miles through the mist to see The Tyburn Tree, to behold an
upright slab, like a mile-stone, set upon the inner edge of the
sidewalk at the western verge of Hyde Park. A very disconsolate slab,
slinking against the fence as if ashamed of itself in so genteel a
neighborhood, and of the notorious name cut into its face.



CHAPTER III.

_Spurgeon and Cummings._


MR. SPURGEON and his Tabernacle are “down” in guide-books among the
lions of the metropolis. But, in engaging a carriage to take us to the
Tabernacle on Sabbath morning, we had to clarify the perceptions of our
very decent coachman by informing him that it was hard by the “Elephant
and Castle.” Nothing stimulates the wit of the average Briton like the
mention of an inn or ale-house, unless it be the gleam of the shilling
he is to spend therein.

In anticipation of a crowd, Caput had provided himself with tickets
for our party of three. These are given to any respectable traveller
who will apply to the agent of the “concern,” in Paternoster Row. To
avoid the press of entrance we allowed ourselves an hour for reaching
the church. The Corinthian portico was already packed with non-holders
of tickets, although it lacked half an hour of the time for service.
There were ushers at a gate at the left of the principal entrance,
who motioned us to pass. The way lay by a locked box fastened to
a post, labelled “FOR THE LAY COLLEGE,” or words to that effect.
In consideration of the gratuity of the tickets, and the manifest
convenience of the same, that stranger is indeed a churl, ungrateful,
or obtuse to the laws of _quid pro quo_, who does not drop a coin into
the slit, and feel, after the free-will offering, that he has a better
right to his seat. A second set of ushers received us in the side
vestibule and directed us to go upstairs. The gallery seats are the
choice places, and we obeyed with alacrity. A third detachment met us
at the top of the steps, looked at and retained our tickets, and stood
us in line with fifty other expectants against the inner wall, until
he could “h’arrange matters.” Our turn came in about five minutes, and
we were agreeably surprised at being installed in the front row, with
a clear view of stage and lower pews. In five minutes more an elderly
lady in a black silk dress trimmed profusely with guipure lace, a
purple velvet hat with a great deal of Chantilly about it, and a white
feather atop of all, touched my shoulder from behind, showing me a face
like a Magenta hollyhock, but sensible and kind.

“_Might_ I inquire if you got your tickets from Mr. Merryweather?”

I looked at Caput.

“No, madam!” he replied promptly. “I procured them from ——,” giving the
Paternoster Row address.

“Possible? But you are strangers?”

He bowed assent.

“_And_ Americans?”

Another bow.

“Then all I ’ave to say is, that it is extror’nary! most extror’nary!
I told Mr. Merryweather to give three tickets, with my compliments, to
an American party I heard of—one gentleman and a couple of ladies—and I
was in hopes they were providentially near my pew.”

She leaned forward, after a minute, to subjoin—“Of course, you are
welcome, all the same!”

“That is one comfort!” whispered Prima, as the pew-owner settled
back rustlingly into her corner. “In America we should consider her
‘very-very’ impertinent. _Do_ circumstances and people alter cases?”

Ten minutes more and the galleries were packed by the skilled ushers,
and the body of the lower floor was three-quarters full of pew-holders.
We scanned them carefully and formed an opinion of the social and
intellectual status of the Tabernacle congregation we saw no reason to
reverse at our second and longer visit to London, two years afterward,
when our opportunities of making a correct estimate of pastor and
people were better than on this occasion. Caput summed it up.

“I dare affirm that eight out of ten of them misplace their _h’s_——”

“And say, ‘sir!’” interpolated Prima, gravely.

Yet they looked comfortable in spirit, and, as to body, were decidedly
and tawdrily overdressed—the foible of those whose best clothes are
too good for every-day wear, and who frequent few places where they
can be so well displayed and seen as at church. Somebody assured me
once, that white feathers were worn in Great Britain out of compliment
to the Prince of Wales, whose three white plumes banded together are
conspicuous in all public decorations. If this be true, the prospective
monarch may felicitate himself upon the devotion of the Wives and
Daughters of England. I have never seen one-half so many sported
elsewhere, and they have all seasons for their own.

The last remaining space in our slip was taken up by a pair who arrived
somewhat late. The wife was a pretty dumpling of a woman, resplendent
in a bronze-colored silk dress, _garnie_ with valenciennes, a seal-skin
jacket, and a white hat trebly complimentary to H. R. H. She and her
dapper husband squeezed past those already seated, obliging us to rise
to escape trampled toes, wedged themselves into the far end of the
pew, and a dialogue began in loud whispers.

“I say it’s a shame!”

“If you complain they may say we should a’ come h’earlier.”

“I don’t care! I will ’ave my say! Mr. Smith!” This aloud, beckoning
an usher; “I say, Mr. Smith! You’ve put one too many h’in our pew. Its
h’abominably crowded!”

The slip was very long. Besides the malcontents, there were five of us,
who looked at each other, then at the embarrassed usher. The gentleman
next the aisle arose.

“If you can provide me with another seat I will give the lady more
room,” he said to the man of business.

With a word of smiling apology to his companion—a sweet-faced woman
we supposed was his wife—he followed the guide, and, as the reward
of gallantry stood against the wall back of us until the sermon was
half done. We did not need to be told what was his nationality. The
victorious heroine of the skirmish did not say or look—“I am sorry!” or
“Thanks!” only, to her husband,—“_Now_ I can breathe!”

She was civilly attentive to me, who chanced to sit nearest her,
handing me a hymn-book and offering her fan as the house grew warm. She
evidently had no thought that she had been rude or inhospitable to the
stranger within the gates of her Tabernacle.

The great front doors were opened, and in less time than I can write of
it the immense audience-chamber, capable of containing 6,500 persons,
was filled to overflowing. The rush and buzz were a subdued tumult.
Nobody made more noise than was needful in the work of obtaining
seats in the most favorable positions left for the multitude who were
not regular worshippers there, nor ticket-holders. But I should have
considered one of Apollos’s sermons dearly-bought by such long waiting
and the race that ended it. The ground-swell of excitement had not
entirely subsided when the “ting! ting!” of a little bell was heard. A
door opened at the back of the deep platform already edged with rows of
privileged men and women, who had come in by this way, and Mr. Spurgeon
walked to the front, where were his chair and table.

I have yet to see the person whose feeling at the first sight of the
great Baptist preacher was not one of overwhelming disappointment.
His legs are short and tremble under the heavy trunk. His forehead is
low, with a bush of black hair above it, the brows beetle over small,
twinkling eyes, the nose is thick, the mouth large, with a pendulous
lower jaw. “Here is an animal!” you say to yourself. “Of the earth,
earthy. Of the commonalty, common!”

He moved slowly and painfully, and while preaching, praying and
reading, rested his gouty knee upon the seat of a chair and stood upon
one leg. His hand, stumpy and ill-formed, although small, grasped the
chair-back for further support. If I remember aright, there was no
invocation or other preliminary service before he gave out a hymn. His
voice is a clear monotone, marvellously sustained. The inflections are
slight and few, but exceedingly effective. The ease of elocution that
sent every syllable to the farthest corner of the vast building was
inimitable and cannot be described.

“We will sing”—he began as naturally as in a prayer-meeting of twenty
persons—“We will _all_ sing, with the heart and with the voice, with
the spirit, and with understanding, the ——th hymn:

    “Let us all, with cheerful mood
     Praise the Lord, for He is good!”

The pronunciation of “mood” rhymed precisely with “good,” and he said
“Lard,” instead of “Lord.” But the words had in them the ring of a
silver trumpet.

The precentor stood directly in front of the preacher, facing the
audience and just within the railing of the stage. The instant the
reading of the hymn was over, he raised the tune, the congregation
rising. The Niagara of song made me fairly dizzy for a minute.
Everybody sang. After a few lines, it was impossible to refrain from
singing. One was caught up and swept on by the cataract. He might not
know the air. He might have neither ear nor voice for music. He was
kept in time and tune by the strong current of sound. There was no
organ or other musical instrument, nor was the voice of the precentor
especially powerful. It was as if we were guided by one overmastering
mind and spirit constraining the least emotional to be “conjubilant in
song” with the thousands upon thousands of his fellows. Congregational
psalmody, such as this, without previous rehearsal or training, is
phenomenal.

A prayer followed, as remarkable in its way as the singing.
Comprehensive, devout, simple, it was the pleading of man in the _felt_
presence of his Maker;—the key-note—“Nevertheless, I will talk with
Thee!” Next to Mr. Spurgeon’s earnestness his best gift is his command
of good, nervous English,—fluency which is never verboseness. Knowing
exactly what he means to say, he says it—fully and roundly—and lets
it alone thereafter. He is neither scholarly, nor eloquent, in any
other sense than in these. He read a chapter, giving an exposition of
each verse in terse, familiar phrase. There was another hymn, and he
announced his text:

“_Rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven!_”

I should hardly name humility as a characteristic of prayer or sermon;
yet, for one whose boldness of speech often approximates dogmatism,
he is singularly free from self-assertion. His sermon was more like a
lecture-room talk than a discourse prepared for, and delivered to a
mixed multitude. His quotations from Holy Writ were abundant and apt,
evincing a retentive memory and ready wit. One-third of the sermon
was in the very words of Scripture. His habitual employment of Bible
phrases has lent to his own composition a quaint savor. He makes lavish
use of “thee” and “thou,” jumbling these inelegantly with “you” in the
same sentence.

For example:—He described a man who had been useful and approved as
a church-member: (always addressing his own people)—“The Master has
allowed you to work for many days in His vineyard, and paid thee good
wages, even given thee souls for thy hire.”

In what shape reverses came to the prosperous laborer we were not told,
but that he did see others outstrip him in usefulness and honors:

“You are bidden by the Master to take a lower—maybe the lowest seat.
Ah, then, my friend, _thou hast the dumps_!”

I heard him say in another sermon: “If my Lord were to offer a prize
for a joyful Christian I am afraid there are not many of you who would
dare try for it. And if you did, I fear me much you would not draw even
a third prize.”

Occasionally he is coarse in trope and expression. I hesitate to record
a sentence that shocked me to disgust as being not only in atrocious
taste and an unfortunate figure of speech, but, to my apprehension,
irreverent:

“If we are not filled, it is because we do not hang upon and suck at
those blessed breasts of GOD’S promises as we might and should do.”

His illustrations are like his diction—homely. There was not a new
grand thought, nor a beautiful passage, rhetorically considered,
in any discourse we ever heard from him; not a trace of such fervid
imagination as draws men, sometimes against their will, to hear Gospel
truth in Talmage’s Tabernacle, or of Beecher’s magnificent genius.
We have, in America, scores of men who are little known outside of
their own town, or State, who preach the Word as simply and devoutly;
who are, impartially considered, in speech more weighty, in learning
incomparably superior to the renowned London Nonconformist. Yet we
sat—between six and seven thousand of us—and listened to him for
nearly an hour, without restlessness or straying attention. Yes! and
went again and again, to discover, if possible, as the boys say of the
juggler—“how he did it.”

In giving out the notices for the week, Mr. Spurgeon thanked the
regular attendants of the church for having complied with the request
he had made on the preceding Sabbath morning, and “stopped away at
night,” thus leaving more room for strangers. “I hope still more of
you will stop at home this evening,” he concluded in a tone of jolly
fellowship the people appeared to comprehend and like. He was clearly
thoroughly at one with his flock.

At night we also “stopped away,” but not at home. After much
misdirection and searching, we found the alley—it was nothing
better—leading to Dr. Cummings’s church in Crown Court, Long Acre. It
was small, very small in our sight while the remembered roominess of
the Tabernacle lingered with us,—plain as a Primitive Methodist Chapel
in the country; badly lighted, and the high, straight pews were not
half filled. The author of “Voices of the Dead” and “Lectures upon
the Apocalypse” is a gray-haired man a little above medium height.
His shoulders were bowed slightly—the bend of the student, not of
infirmity; his features were clear-cut and spirituelle. He preached
that night in faith and hope that were pathetic to us who had read his
prophecies—or his interpretation of Divine prophecy—as long ago as
1850, and recalled the fact that the time set for the fulfilment of
some of these had passed.

His text was Rev. i. 3: “_Blessed is he that readeth, and they that
hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things that are written
therein—for_ THE TIME IS AT HAND!”

He believed it. One read it in every word and gesture; in the rapt look
of the eyes so long strained with watching for the nearer promise—the
dayspring—of His coming; in the calm assurance of mien and tone, the
dignity of a seer, whom Heaven was joined with earth to authenticate.
He spoke without visible notes; his only gesture a slight lifting of
both hands, with a fluttering, outward movement. We listened vainly
for some token in his spoken composition of the epigrammatic, often
antithetical style, that gives nerve and point to his published
writings. The interesting, albeit desultory talk was, he informed us,
the first of a series of sermons upon the Apocalypse he designed to
deliver in that place from Sabbath to Sabbath. He had been diligently
engaged of late in recasting the horoscope of the world. That was not
the way he put it. But he did say that he had reviewed the calculations
upon which his published “Lectures” were based, and would make known
the result of his labors in the projected series.

He preferred, it was said, the obscure corner in which he preached
to any other location, and had refused the offer of a lady of rank
to build him a better church, in a better neighborhood. I suppose he
thought it would outlast him—and into the millennial age.

I read, but yesterday, in an English paper, that he had retired from
pulpit duties, in confirmed ill-health, and that after his long life
of toil he is very poor. Some of his wealthy friends propose to pension
him. And we remember so well when his “Voices of the Night”—“The
Day”—“The Dead” were read by more thousands and tens of thousands than
now flock to hear Spurgeon; when the “Lectures upon the Apocalypse”
were a bugle-call, turning the eyes of the Christian world to the so
long rayless East. We recall, too, the title of another of his books,
with the vision of the bent figure and eyes grown dim with waiting for
the glory to be revealed,—and another text from his beloved Revelation:

“_These are they that have come out of Great Tribulation, and have
washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb._”



CHAPTER IV.

_The Two Elizabeths._


IF the English autumn be sad, and the English spring be sour, the
smiling beauty of the English summer should expel the memory of gloom
and acerbity from the mind of the tourist who is not afflicted with
bronchitis. In England they make the _ch_ very hard, and pronounce the
_i_ in the second syllable as in _kite_. They ought to know all about
bronchitis, for it lurks in every whiff of east wind, and most of the
vanes have rusted upon their pivots in their steadfast pointing to that
quarter.

The east wind is not necessarily raw. It was bracing, and the sky blue
as that of Italy, when we took a Fourth of July drive of nine hours
through the fairest portion of the Isle of Wight. The Tally-Ho was a
gorgeous pleasure-coach, all red and yellow. The coachman and guard
were in blue coats and brass buttons, red waistcoats, and snowy leather
breeches, fitting like the skin; high top-boots and cockaded hats.
We had four good horses, the best seats upon the top of the coach,
a hamper of luncheon, and as many rugs and shawls as we would have
taken on a winter voyage across the Atlantic. There were opaline belts
of light upon the sea, such as we had seen from Naples and Sorrento,
passing into pearl and faintest blue where the sky met and mingled
with the water. Hundreds of sails skimmed the waves like so many
white gulls. Here and there a steamer left a dusky trail upon the air.
Three were stationary about a dark object near the shore. It looked
like a projecting pile the rising tide might cover. The _Eurydice_, a
school-ship of the Royal Navy, had foundered there in a gale six weeks
and more agone, carrying upwards of three hundred souls down with her.
Day by day these government transports were toiling to raise her and
recover the bodies of the boys. A week after we left the island they
succeeded in dragging up the water-logged hulk. Only eighteen corpses
were found. The sea had washed off and hidden the rest.

England is a garden in June, July, and August. The Isle of Wight
is a fairy parterre, set with such wealth of verdure and bloom as
never disappoints nor palls upon the sight. The roads are perfect
in stability and smoothness, and whether they lie along the edge of
the cliffs, or among fertile plains besprinkled with villages and
farm-buildings, with an occasional manor-house or venerable ruin,
are everywhere fringed by such hedges as flourish nowhere else so
bravely as in the British Isles. The hawthorn was out of flower, but
blackberries whose blossoms were pink instead of white, trailing
briony, sweet-brier, and, daintiest and most luxuriant of all, wild
convolvulus, hung with tiny cups of pale rose-color—healed our regrets
that we were too late to see and smell the “May” in its best-loved home.

We lunched at Blackgang Chine, spreading our cloth upon the heather
a short distance from the brow of the cliff, the sea rolling so far
below us that the surf was a whisper and the strollers upon the beach
were pigmies. The breadth—the apparent boundlessness of the view were
enhanced by the crystalline purity of the atmosphere. In standing
upon the precipice, our backs to the shore, looking seaward beyond the
purple “Needles” marking the extremest point of the sunken reef, we had
an eerie sense of being suspended between sky and ocean;—a lightness of
body and freedom of spirit, a contempt for the laws of gravitation, and
for the Tally-Ho as a means of locomotion, that were, we decided after
comparing notes among ourselves, the next best thing to being sea-fowl.

The principal objects of interest for the day were Carisbrooke Castle
and Arreton. Next to the Heidelberg Schloss, Carisbrooke takes rank, in
our recollection of ruins many and castles uncountable, for beauty of
situation and for careful preservation of original character without
injury to picturesqueness. The moat is cushioned with daisied turf, but
we crossed it by a stone bridge of a single span. Over the gateway is
carved the Woodville coat-of-arms, supported on each side by the “White
Rose” of York. The arch is recessed between two fine, round towers. The
massive doors, cross-barred with iron, still hang upon their hinges.
Passing these, we were in a grassy court-yard of considerable extent.
On our left was the shell of the suite of rooms occupied by Charles
I. during his imprisonment here, from November 13, 1647, until the
latter part of the next year. Ivy clings and creeps through the empty
window-frames, and tapestries walls denuded of the “thick hangings and
wainscoting” ordered for the royal captive. The floors of the upper
story have fallen and the lower is carpeted with grass. Tufts of a
pretty pink flower were springing in all the crevices. Ferns grew rank
and tall along the inside of the enclosed space. High up in the wall
is the outline of a small window, “blocked up in after alterations,”
according to the record. Through this the king endeavored to escape
on the night of March 20, 1648. Horses were ready in the neighborhood
of the Castle, and a vessel awaited the king upon the shore. A brave
royalist came close beneath the window and gave the signal.

“Then”—in the words of this man, the only eye-witness of the scene—“His
Majesty put himself forward, but, too late, found himself mistaken.”

Charles had declared, when the size of the aperture was under
discussion, “Where my head can pass, my body can follow.”

“He, sticking fast between his breast and shoulders and not able to
get backward or forward. Whilst he stuck I heard him groan, but could
not come to help him, which, you may imagine, was no small affliction
to me. So soon as he was in again—to let me see (as I had to my grief
heard) the design was broken—he set a candle in the window. If this
unfortunate impediment had not happened, his Majesty had certainly then
made a good escape.”

The Stuarts were a burden to the land, as a family; but we wished the
window had been a few inches broader, and exile, not the block, the
end of fight ’twixt king and parliament, as we walked up and down the
tilt-yard converted into a promenade and bowling-green for the prisoner
while Colonel Hammond was governor of the Castle. Here Charles paced
two hours each day, the wide sea and the free ships below him; in plain
sight the cove where the little shallop had lain, at anchor, the night
of the attempted rescue.

“He was not at all dejected in his spirits,” we read; “but carried
himself with the same majesty he had used to do. His hair was all gray,
which, making all others very sad, made it thought that he had sorrow
in his countenance which appeared only by that shadow.”

In further evidence of his unbroken spirit in this earliest
imprisonment, we have the motto “_Dum spiro, spero_,” written by
himself in a book he was fond of reading. Without divining it, he was
getting his breath between two tempests. That in these months all that
was truly kingly and good within him was nourished into healthy growth
we gather, furthermore, in reading that “The Sacred Scriptures he most
delighted in; read often in Sand’s Paraphrase of King David’s Psalms
and Herbert’s Divine Poems.” Also, that “Spenser’s Faerie Queen was the
alleviation of his spirits after serious studies.”

The Bowling Green is little changed in grade and verdure since the
semi-daily promenade of the captive monarch streaked it with narrow
paths, and since his orphaned son and daughter played bowls together
upon the turf two summers afterward. The sward is velvet of thickest
pile. There is an English saying that “it takes a century to make a
lawn.” This has had more than two in which to grow and green.

We were glad that another party who were with us in the grounds were
anxious to see an ancient donkey tread the wheel which draws up a
bucket from the well, “144 feet deep, with 37 feet of water” in a
building at the side of the Castle. While they tarried to applaud
“Jacob’s” feat, we had a quiet quarter of an hour in the upper chamber,
where, as a roughly-painted board tells us, “THE PRINCESS ELIZABETH
DIED.”

Who (in America) has not read the narrative, penned by the
thirteen-year-old child, “_What the King said to me 29^{th} of January
last, being the last time I had the happiness to see him_”? The
heart breaks with the mere reading of the title and the fancy of the
trembling fingers that wrote it out.

Her father had said to her, “But, sweetheart, thou wilt forget what
I tell thee!” “Then, shedding abundance of tears, I told him that I
would write down all he said to me.”

We knew, almost to a word, the naïve recital which was the fulfilment
of the pledge. We could not have forgotten at Carisbrooke that her
father had given her a Bible, saying: “It had been his great comfort
and constant companion through all his sorrows, and he hoped it
would be hers.” She had been a prisoner in the Castle less than a
week when she was caught in a sudden shower while playing with her
little brother, the Duke of Gloucester, on the Bowling Green. The
wetting “caused her to take cold, and the next day she complained of
headache and feverish distemper.” It was a poor bed-chamber for a
king’s daughter (with one window, a mere slit in the wall, and one
door), in the which she lay for a fortnight, “her disease growing
upon her,” until “after many rare ejaculatory expressions, abundantly
demonstrating her unparalleled piety, to the eternal honor of her own
memory and the astonishment of those who waited upon her, she took
leave of the world on Sunday, the 8th of September, 1650.”

That was the way the chaplain and the physician told the story—such a
sorrowful little tale when one strips away the sounding polysyllables
and cuts short the windings of the sentences!

The warden’s wife was, we know, one of “those who waited upon her.”
Hireling hands ministered to her through her “distemper.” In the scanty
retinue that attended her to Carisbrooke was one “Judith Briott, her
gentlewoman.” We liked to think she must have loved her gentle little
mistress. It is possible her tending was as affectionate as the care
she might have had, had the mother, to whom the father had sent his
love by the daughter’s hand, been with her instead of in France, toying
(some say) with a new lover. Yet the child-heart must have yearned for
parents, brothers and sisters. On that Sunday morning, an attendant
entering with a bowl of bread-and-milk, discovered that the princess
had died alone, her cheek pillowed upon the Bible—her father’s legacy.

That small chamber was a sacred spot where we could not but speak low
and step softly. It is utterly dismantled. When draped and furnished
it may not have been comfortless. It could never have been luxurious.
A branch of ivy had thrust itself in at the window through which her
dying eyes looked their last upon the sky. Caput reached up silently
and broke off a spray. As I write, it climbs up my window-frame, a
thrifty vine, that has taken kindly to voyaging and transplanting. To
me it is a more valuable memento than the beautiful photograph of the
monument erected to Princess Elizabeth’s memory in the Church of St.
Thomas, whither “her body was brought (in a borrowed coach) attended
with her few late servants.”

Yet the monument is a noble tribute from royalty to the daughter of a
royal line. The young girl lies asleep, one hand fallen to her side,
the other laid lightly upon her breast, her check turned to rest
upon the open Bible. The face is sweet and womanly; the expression
peacefully happy. “_A token of respect for her virtues, and sympathy
for her misfortunes._ _By_ VICTORIA R., 1856.” So reads the inscription.

Imagination leaped a wide chasm of time and station in passing from
the state prison-chamber of Carisbrooke to the thatched cottage of The
Dairyman’s Daughter; from the marble sculptured by a queen’s command,
to the head-stone reared by one charitable admirer of the humble piety
of Elizabeth Walbridge. To reach the grave we had to pass through
the parish church of Arreton. It is like a hundred other parish
churches scattered among the byways of England. The draught from the
interior met us when the door grated upon the hinges, cold, damp, and
ill-smelling, a smell that left an earthy taste in the mouth. Beneath
the stone flooring the noble dead are packed economically as to room.
The sexton, who may have been a trifle younger than the building, spoke
a dialect we could hardly translate. The church was his pride, and
he was sorely grieved when we would have pushed right onward to the
burying-ground.

“Ye mun look at ’e brawsses!” he pleaded so tremulously that we halted
to note one, on which was the figure of a man in armor, his feet upon a
lion couchant.

    “Here is ye buried under this Grave
     Harry Haweis. His soul GOD save.
     Long tyme steward of the Yle of Wyght.
     Have m’cy on hym, GOD ful of myght.”

The date is 1430.

Another “brass” upon a stone pillar bears six verses setting forth the
worthy deeds of one William Serle:

    “Thus did this man, a Batchelor,
     Of years full fifty-nyne.
     And doing good to many a one,
     Soe did he spend his tyme.”

“An’ ye woant see ’e rest?” quavered the old sexton at our next
movement. “’E be foine brawsses! Quawlity all of um—’e be!”

Seeing our obduracy, he hobbled to the side-door and unlocked it, amid
many groans from himself and the rusty wards. The July light and air
were welcome after the damp twilight within. In death at least, it
would seem to be better with the poor than the “quality,” if sun and
breeze are boons. The churchyard is small and ridged closely with
graves. The old man led the way between and over these to the last home
of the Dairyman’s Daughter. We gathered about it, looked reverently
upon the low swell of turf. There is a metrical epitaph, sixteen lines
in length, presumably the composition of the lady at whose expense the
stone was raised. It begins:

    “Stranger! if e’er by chance or feeling led,
     Upon this hallowed turf thy footsteps tread,
     Turn from the contemplation of the sod,
     And think on her whose spirit rests with GOD.”

The rest is after the same order, a mechanical jingle in pious measure.
It offends one who has not been educated to appreciate the value of
post-mortem patronage bestowed by the lofty upon the lowly. It was
enough for us to know that the worn body of Legh Richmond’s “Elizabeth”
lay there peacefully sleeping away the ages.

We had picked up in a Ventnor bookshop a shabby little copy of
Richmond’s “Annals of the Poor,” printed in 1828. It contained a sketch
of Mr. Richmond’s life by his son-in-law, The Dairyman’s Daughter,
The Negro Servant, and The Young Cottager, the scene of all these
narratives being in the Isle of Wight. We reread them with the pensive
pleasure one feels in unbinding a pacquet of letters, spotted and
yellowed by time, but which hands beloved once pressed, and yielding
still the faint fragrance of the rose-leaves we laid away with them
when the pages were white and fresh. We, who drew delight with
instruction from Sunday-School libraries more than thirty years back,
knew Elizabeth, the “Betsey” of father and mother, better than we did
our next-door neighbors. Prima and Secunda, allured by my enthusiasm
to read the book, declared that her letters to her spiritual adviser
“were prosy and priggish,” but that the hold of the story upon my heart
was not all the effect of early association was abundantly proved by
their respectful mention of her humble piety and triumphant death.

By her side lies the sister at whose funeral Legh Richmond first met
his modest heroine. In the same family group sleep the Dairyman and his
wife. “The mother died not long after the daughter,” says Mr. Richmond,
“and I have good reason to believe that GOD was merciful to her and
took her to Himself. The good old Dairyman died in 1816, aged 84. His
end was eminently Christian.”

Elizabeth died May 30, 1801, at the age of thirty-one.

“Pardon!” said a foreign gentleman, one of the party, who, seeing Caput
uncover his head at the grave, had done the same. “But will you have
the goodness to tell me what it is we have come here to see?”

“The grave of a very good woman,” was the reply.

Legh Richmond tells us little more. Her love for her Saviour, like the
broken alabaster-box of ointment in the hand of another woman of far
different life, is the sweet savor that has floated down to us through
all these years.

I stooped to picked some bearded grasses from the mound. The sexton
bent creakingly to aid me, chattering and grinning. He wore a blue
frock over his corduroy trousers: his hands and clothes were stained
with clay; his sunken cheeks looked like old parchment.

“’A wisht ’a ’ad flowers to gi’ ’e, leddy!” he said. “’A dit troy for
one wheele to keep um ’ere. But ’a moight plant um ivery day, and ’ee
ud be all goane ’afore tummorrer. He! he! he! ’A—manny leddies cooms
’ere for summat fro’ e’ grave. ’A burried ’er brother over yander!”
chucking a pebble to show where—“’a dit! ’E larst of ’e fomily. ’Ees
all goane! And ’_a_’m still aloive and loike to burry a manny more! He!
he!”

Our homeward route lay by the Dairyman’s cottage, a long mile from
the church. When the coffin of Elizabeth, borne by neighbors’ hands,
was followed by the mourners, also on foot, funeral hymns were sung,
“at occasional intervals of about five minutes.” As we bowled along
the smooth road, Prima, sitting behind me, read aloud from the shabby
little volume a description of the surrounding scene, that might, for
accuracy of detail, have been written that day:

“A rich and fruitful valley lay immediately beneath. It was adorned
with corn-fields and pastures, through which a small river winded in
a variety of directions, and many herds grazed upon its banks. A fine
range of opposite hills, covered with grazing flocks, terminated with
a bold sweep into the ocean, whose blue waves appeared at a distance
beyond. Several villages, churches and hamlets were scattered in the
valley. The noble mansions of the rich and the lowly cottages of the
poor added their respective features to the landscape. The air was
mild, and the declining sun occasioned a beautiful interchange of light
and shade upon the sides of the hills.”

The annalist adds,—“In the midst of this scene the chief sound that
arrested attention was the bell tolling for the funeral of the
‘Dairyman’s Daughter.’”

“A picture by Claude!” commented Caput as the reader paused.

“A draught of old wine that has made the voyage to India and back!”
said Dux, our blue-eyed college-boy.

These were the hills that had echoed the funeral psalm; these the
cottages in whose doors stood those “whose countenances proclaimed
their regard for the departed young woman.” Red brick “cottages,” the
little gardens between them and the road crowded with larkspurs,
pinks, roses, lavender, and southernwood. They were generally built in
solid rows under one roof, the yards separated by palings. There were
no basements, the paved floors being laid directly upon the ground.
Two rooms upon this floor, and one above in a steep-roofed attic, was
the prevailing plan of the tenements. The doors were open, and we
could observe, at a passing glance, that some were clean and bright,
others squalid, within. All, mean and neat, had flowers in the windows.
The Dairyman’s cottage stands detached from other houses with what
the neighbors would term “a goodish bit of ground” about it. To the
original dwelling that Legh Richmond saw has been joined a two-story
wing, also of brick. Beside it the cottage with its thatched roof is
a very humble affair. The lane, “quite overshaded with trees and high
hedges,” and “the suitable gloom of such an approach to the house of
mourning,” are gone, with “the great elm-trees which stood near the
house.” The rustling of these,—as he rode by them to see Elizabeth
die,—the imagination of the unconscious poet and true child of Nature
“indulged itself in thinking were plaintive sighs of sorrow.”

But we saw the upper room with its sloping ceiling, and the window-seat
in which “her sister-in-law sat weeping with a child in her lap,” while
Elizabeth lay dying upon the bed drawn into the middle of the floor to
give her air.

The glory of the sunsetting was over sea and land, painting the sails
rose-pink; purpling the lofty downs and mellowing into delicious
vagueness the skyey distances—the pathways into the world beyond this
island-gem—when we drove into Ventnor. The grounds of the Royal Hotel
are high and spacious, with turfy banks rolling from the cliff-brow
down to the road, divided by walks laid in snowy shells gathered from
the shore. From a tall flag-staff set on the crown of the hill streamed
out, proud and straight in the strong sea-breeze—the STARS AND STRIPES!

We did not cheer it, except in spirit, but the gentlemen waved their
hats and the ladies kissed their hands to the grand old standard,
and all responded “Amen!” to the deep voice that said, “GOD bless
it, forever!” And with the quick heart-bound that sent smiles to the
lips and moisture to the eyes, with longings for the Land always and
everywhere dearest to us, came kindlier thoughts than we were wont to
indulge of the “Old Home,” which, in the clearer light of a broadening
Christian civilization, can, with us, rejoice in the anniversary of a
Nation’s Birthday.



CHAPTER V.

_Prince Guy._


LEAMINGTON is in, and of itself, the pleasantest and stupidest town in
England. It is a good place in which to sleep and eat and leave the
children when the older members of the party desire to make all-day
excursions. It is pretty, quiet, healthy, with clean, broad “parades”
and shaded parks wherein perambulators are safe from runaway horses and
reckless driving. There are countless shops for the sale of expensive
fancy articles, notably china and embroidery; more lodging-houses
than private dwellings and shops put together. There is a chabybeate
spring—fabled to have tasted properly, _i. e._, chemically, “nasty,”
once upon a time—enclosed in a pump-room. Hence “Leamington Spa,” one
of the names of the town. And through the Jephson Gardens (supposed
to be the Enchanted Ground whereupon Tennyson dreamed out his
“Lotos-eaters”) flows the “high-complectioned Leam,” the sleepiest
river that ever pretended to go through the motions of running at all.
Hawthorne defines the “complexion” to be a “greenish, goose-puddly
hue,” but, “disagreeable neither to taste nor smell.” We used to
saunter in the gardens after dinner on fine evenings, to promote quiet
digestion and drowsiness, and can recommend the prescription. There
are churches in Leamington, “high” and “low,” or, as the two factions
prefer to call themselves, “Anglican” and “Evangelical;” Nonconformist
meeting-houses—Congregational, Wesleyan and Baptist; there are two
good circulating libraries, and there is a tradition to the effect
that living in hotels and lodgings here was formerly cheap. One fares
tolerably there now—and pays for it.

We made Leamington our headquarters for six weeks, Warwickshire being
a very mine of historic show-places, and the sleepy Spa easy of access
from London, Oxford, Birmingham, and dozens of other cities we must
see, while at varying distances of one, five, and ten miles lie Warwick
Castle, Kenilworth, Stratford-on-Avon, Charlecote, the home of Sir
Thomas Lucy (Justice Shallow), Stoneleigh Abbey—one of the finest
country-seats in Great Britain—and Coventry.

The age of Warwick Castle is a mooted point. “Cæsar’s Tower,” ruder in
construction than the remainder of the stupendous pile, is said to be
eight hundred years old. It looks likely to last eight hundred more.
The outer gate is less imposing than the entrance to some barn-yards
I have seen, A double-leaved door, neither clean nor massive, was
unbolted at our ring by a young girl, who told us that the “H’Earl was
sick,” therefore, visitors were not admitted “h’arfter ’arf parst ten.”
Once in the grounds, “they might stay so long h’as they were dispoged.”

It is impossible to caricature the dialect of the lower classes of
the Mother Country. Even substantial tradesmen, retired merchants and
their families who are living—and traveling—upon their money are, by
turns, prodigal and niggardly in the use of the unfortunate aspirate
that falls naturally into place with us; while servants who have lived
for years in the “best families” appear to pride themselves upon the
liberties they take with their _h’s_, mouthing the mutilated words
with pomp that is irresistibly comic. We delighted to lay traps for
our guides and coachmen, and the yeomen we encountered in walks and
drives, by asking information on the subject of Abbeys, Inns, Earls,
Horses, Halls, and Ages. In every instance they came gallantly up to
our expectations, often transcended our most daring hopes. But we
seldom met with a more satisfactory specimen in this line than the
antique servitor that kept the lodge of Warwick Castle. She wore a
black gown, short-waisted and short-skirted, a large cape of the same
stuff, and what Dickens had taught us to call a “mortified” black
bonnet of an exaggerated type. The cap-frill within flapped about a
face that reminded us of Miss Cushman’s Meg Merrilies. Entering the
lodge hastily, after the young woman who had admitted us had begun
cataloguing the curiosities collected there, she put her aside with
a sweep of her bony arm and an angry, guttural “Ach!” and began the
solemnly circumstantial relation she must have rehearsed thousands of
times. We beheld “H’earl Guy’s” breast-plate, his sword and battle-axe,
the “’orn” of a dun cow slain by him, and divers other bits of old
iron, scraps of pottery, etc. But the _chef d’œuvre_ of the custodian
was the oration above Sir Guy’s porridge-pot, a monstrous iron vessel
set in the centre of the square chamber. Standing over it, a long poker
poised in her hand, she enumerated with glowing gusto the ingredients
of the punch brewed in the big kettle “when the present H’earl came
h’of h’age,” glaring at us from the double pent-house of frill and
bonnet. I forget the exact proportions, but they were somewhat in this
order:

“H’eighteen gallons o’ rum. Fifteen gallons o’ brandy”—tremendous
stress upon each liquor—“One ’undred pounds o’ loaf sugar. H’eleven
’undred lemmings, h’and fifty gallons h’of ’ot water! This h’identikle
pot was filled _h’and_ h’emptied, three times that day! H’I myself saw
h’it!”

Her greedy gloating upon the minutest elements of the potent compound
was elfish and almost terrible. It was like—

    “Eye of newt and toe of frog,
     Wool of bat and tongue of dog,”—

the harsh gutturals and suspended iron bar heightening the haggish
resemblance. The pot, she proceeded to relate, was “six ’undred years
h’old,” and bringing down the poker upon and around the edge, evolving
slow gratings and rumblings that crucified our least sensitive nerves,
“h’is this h’our without ’ole h’or crack h’as H’I can h’answer for
h’and testify!”

The entire exhibition was essentially dramatic and effectively
ridiculous. She accepted our gratuity with the same high tragedy air
and posed herself above the chaldron for an entering party of visitors.

We sauntered up to the castle along a curving drive between a steep
bank overrun with lush ivy and a wall covered with creepers, and
overhung by fine old trees. Birds sang in the branches and hopped
across the road, the green shade bathed our eyes refreshingly after
the glare of the flint-strewn highway outside of the gates. It was a
forest dingle, rather than the short avenue to the grandest ancient
castle in Three Kingdoms. A broad expanse of turf stretching before the
front of the mansion is lost as far as the eye can reach in avenues
and plantations of trees. Among these are cedars of Lebanon, brought
by crusading Earls from the Holy Land, still vigorously supplying by
new growth the waste of centuries. Masses of brilliant flowers relieved
the verdure of the level sward, fountains leaped and tinkled in sunny
glades, and cut the shadow of leafy vistas with the flash of silver
blades. In the principal conservatory stands the celebrated Warwick
Vase, brought hither from Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli. Ladders were
reared against the barbican wall of great height and thickness, close
by Guy’s Tower (erected in 1394). Workmen mounted upon these were
scraping mosses and dirt from the interstices of the stones and filling
them with new cement. No pains nor expense is spared to preserve the
magnificent fortress from the ravages of time and climate. From the
foundation of the Castle until now, the family of Warwick, in some
of its ramifications—or usurpations—has been in occupation of the
demesne and is still represented in the direct line of succession by
the present owner. The noble race has battled more successfully with
revolution and decay in behalf of house and ancestral home than have
most members of the British Peerage whose lineage is of equal antiquity
and note.

Opposite the door by which we entered the Great Hall, was a figure of a
man on horseback, rider and steed as large as life. The complete suit
of armor of the one and the caparisons of the other, were presented
by Queen Elizabeth to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, her handsome
master-of-horse. From this moment until we quitted the house, we
were scarcely, for a moment, out of sight of relics of the _parvenu_
favorite.

It is difficult to appreciate that real people, made of flesh, blood,
and sensibilities akin to those of the mass of humankind, live out
their daily lives, act out their true characters, indulge in “tiffs”
and “makings up,” and have “a good time generally,” in these great
houses to which the public are so freely admitted. Neither lives nor
homes seem to be their individual and distinctive property. They must
be tempted, at times, to doubts of the proprietorship of their own
thoughts and enjoy the right of private opinion by stealth.

One thing helped me to picture a social company of friends grouped
comfortably, even cozily, in this mighty chamber, the pointed rafters
of which met so far above us that the armorial bearings carved between
them upon the ceiling were indistinct to near-sighted eyes; where the
walls were covered with suits of armor, paintings by renowned masters,
and treasures of _virtu_ in furniture and ornament thronged even such
spaciousness as that in which the bewildered visitor feels for a moment
lost. A great fireplace, with carved oaken mantel, mellow-brown with
years, and genuine fire-dogs of corresponding size, yawned in the
wall near Leicester’s effigy. Beside this was a stout rack, almost as
large as a four-post bedstead, full of substantial logs, each at least
five feet long. There must have been a cord of seasoned wood heaped
irregularly within bars and cross-pieces. Some was laid ready for
lighting in the chimney, kindlings under it. A match was all that was
needed to furnish a roaring fire. _That_ would be a feature in the old
feudal hall. An antique settle, covered with crimson, stood invitingly
near the hearth. One sitting upon it had a view of the lawn sloping
down to the river, and the umbrageous depths of the woods beyond;
of the jutting end and one remaining pier of the old bridge on the
hither bank, the trailing ivy pendants drooping to touch the Avon that
mirrored castle-towers, trees, the broken masonry of one bridge and
the solid, gray length of the other. In fancying _who_ might have sat
here on cool autumn days, looking dreamily from the red recesses of the
fireplace to the tranquil picture framed by the window; who walked at
twilight upon the polished floor over the sheen of the leaping blaze
upon the dark wood; who talked, face to face, heart with heart, about
the hearth on stormy winter nights—I had let the others move onward in
the lead of the maid-servant who was appointed to show us around. One
gets so tired of the sing-song iteration of names and dates that she
is well-pleased to let acres of painted canvas, the dry inventory of
beds and stools, tables and candlesticks, the list of lords, artists
and grandees gabbled over in hashed English, seasoned with pert
affectations, slip unheeded by her ears. We accounted it great gain
when we were suffered to enjoy in our own way a single picture or a
relic that unlocked for us a treasure-closet of memory and fancy.

Drifting dreamily then in the wake of the crowd, I halted between an
original portrait of Charles I. and one of his namesake and successor,
trying, for the twentieth time, to reconcile the fact of the strong
family likeness with the pensive beauty of the father and the coarse
ugliness of the son, when strident tones projected well through the
nose apprised me that the Traveling American had arrived and was on
duty. The maid had waited in the Great Hall to collect a party of ten
before beginning the tour. Workmen were hammering somewhere upon or
about the vaulted roof, and the woman’s explanations were sometimes
drowned by the reverberation. We were not chagrined by the loss. We
had guide-books and catalogues, and each had some specific object
of interest in view or quest. The Traveling American, benevolent to
a nuisance, tall, black-eyed and bearded, with an oily ripple of
syllables betraying the training of camp-meeting or political campaign,
took up the burden of the girl’s parrot-talk and rolled it over to
us, not omitting to inter-lard it with observations deprecatory,
appreciative, and critical.

“Original portrait of Henry VIII., by a cotemporary artist—name not
known. Holbein—most likely! He was always painting the old tyrant.
Considered a very excellent likeness. Although nobody living is
authority upon that point. Over the door, two portraits. Small heads,
you see, hardly larger than cabinet pictures,—of Mary and Anne Boleyn.
Which is which—did you say, my dear? Oh! the one to the left is Anne,
Henry’s second wife. Supplanted poor old Kate of Arragon, you remember.
What a run of Kates the ugly Blue-beard had! Anne is a pretty,
modest-looking girl. The wonder is how she could have married that fat
beer-guzzler over yonder, king or no king. Let me see! Didn’t he want
to marry Mary, too? ‘Seems to me there is some such story. And she said
‘No, thank you!’ Hers is a nice face, but she isn’t such a beauty as
her sister.”

_Ad infinitum_—and from the outset, _ad nauseam_, to all except the
four ladies of his party. They tittered and nudged one another at
each witticism, and looked at us for answering tokens of sympathy.
We pressed the maid onward since we were not allowed to precede her;
tarried in the rear of the procession as nearly out of ear-shot as
might be. But the armory is a succession of narrow rooms, and a pause
at the head of the train in the last of the series brought about a
“block” of the two parties. Upon a table was a lump of faded velvet and
tarnished gold lace, frayed and almost shapeless.

_T. A. (beamingly)._ “The saddle upon which Queen Elizabeth rode,
on the occasion of her memorable visit to Kenilworth. She had just
given Kenilworth to Leicester, you remember, as a love-token. He was
a Warwick (!); so the saddle has naturally remained in the family.
An interesting and perfectly authenticated relic. Elizabeth invented
side-saddles, as you are all aware. This was manufactured to order.
It is something to see the saddle on which Queen Elizabeth rode. And
on such an occasion! It makes an individual, as it were—_thrill!_
Clara! where are you, my dear.” A pretty little girl came forward,
blushingly. “Put your hand upon it, my child! Now—you can tell them all
at home you have had your hand upon the place where Queen Elizabeth sat
on!”

“Is there no pound in Warwick for vagrant donkeys?” muttered Lex, a
youth in our section of the company.

He had been abroad but three weeks, and the species, if not the
genus, was a novelty to him. Nor had we, when as strange to the
sight and habits of the creature as was he, any adequate prevision
of the annoyance he would become—what a spot, in his ubiquity and
irrepressibleness, upon our feasts of sight-seeing. Caput had, as
usual, a crumb of consolation for himself and for us when we had shaken
ourselves free from our country-people at the castle-door by taking a
different route from theirs through the grounds.

“At any rate, he knew who Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth
were, and was not altogether ignorant of Leicester and Kenilworth. We
need not be utterly ashamed of him. Only—we will wait until he has been
to look at the Warwick Vase before we go in. I can live without hearing
its history from his lips.”

A notable race have been the Warwicks in English legends and history,
for scores of generations. Princely in magnificence; doughty in war;
in love, ardent; in ambition, measureless. Under Plantagenet, Tudor,
Stuart, and Guelph, they have never lacked a man to stand near the
throne and maintain worthily their dignity. But, in the long avenue
of stateliness there are heads loftier than their fellows. Once in an
age, one has stood grandly apart, absorbent of such active interest and
living sympathy as we cannot bestow upon family or clan.

As at Carisbrooke, Charles Stuart and his hapless daughter are
continually present to our imagination; and the grandmother, whose
head, like his, rolled in the sawdust of an English scaffold, glides
a pale, lovely shade with us through the passages of Holyrood; as at
Kenilworth, we think of Elizabeth, the guest, more than of Leicester,
the host, and in Trinity Church at Coventry, pass carelessly by
painted windows exquisite in modern workmanship, to seek in an obscure
aisle the patched fragment of glass that commemorates the chaste
Godiva’s sacrifice for her people,—so there was for us one Lord of
Warwick Castle, one Hero of Warwickshire. I shall confess to so many
sentimental weaknesses, so many historical heresies in the course of
this volume, that I may as well divulge this pampered conceit frankly
and without apology.

For us—foremost and pre-eminent among the mighty men of the house of
Warwick who have “found their hands” for battle and for statecraft
since the foundations of Cæsar’s Tower were laid, stands EARL GUY,
Goliath and Paladin of the line. Of his deeds of valor, authentic and
mythical, the witch at the Lodge has much to tell—the traditionary lore
of the district, more.

    “I am not Samson, nor Sir Guy, nor Colbrand,”

Shakspeare makes a man of the people say. Sir Guy overthrew and slew
the giant Colbrand in the year 926, according to Dugdale. Is not the
story of this and a hundred other feats of arms recorded in the “Booke
of the most victoryous Prince Guy of Warwick”? When he fell in love
with the Lady Lettice—(or Phillis—traditions disagree about the name),
the fairest maiden in the kingdom, she set him on to perform other
prodigies of valor in the hope of winning her hand. In joust and in
battle-field, at home and afar, he wore her colors in his helmet and
her image in his heart.

“She appoynted unto Earl Guy many and grievous tasks, all of which he
did. And soe in tyme it came to pass that he married her.”

They lived in Warwick Castle, a fortress then, in reality, and of
necessity, for a few peaceful years. How many we do not know, only
that children were born unto them, and that Lettice, laying aside
the naughtiness of early coquetry, grew gentler, more lovable and
more fond each day, while Earl Guy waxed silent and morose under the
pressure of a mysterious burden, never shared with the wife he adored
and had periled his soul to win. Suddenly and secretly he withdrew
to the cell of a holy hermit who lived but three miles away, and was
lost to the world he had filled with rumors of “derring-doing.” The
Countess Lettice, distracted by grief at the disappearance of her lord,
and the failure of her efforts to trace the direction of his flight,
without a misgiving that while her detectives—who must have been of the
dullest—scoured land and sea in search of the missing giant, he was
hidden within sight of the turret-windows of Guy’s Tower—withdrew into
the seclusion of her castle and gave herself up to works of piety and
benevolence. Guy’s children had her tenderest care; next to them her
poor tenantry. Upon stated days of the week a crowd of these pensioners
presented themselves at her gates and were fed by her servants. Among
them came for—some say, twenty, others, _forty years_, a beggar, bent
in figure, with muffled features, in rags, and unaccompanied by so much
as a dog, who silently received his dole of the Countess’s charity and
went his way challenged by none. We hope, in hearing it, that the Lady
Lettice, her fair face the lovelier for the chastening of her great
grief, sometimes showed herself to the waiting petitioners. If she did,
weeping had surely dulled her vision that she did not recognize Earl
Guy under his labored disguise, for he was a Saul even among brawny
Saxons and the semi-barbarous islanders. If the eremite had such
chance glimpses of his love, they were the only earthly consolation
vouchsafed him in the tedious life of mortification and prayer. While
Lettice, in her bower among her maidens, prayed for his return,
refusing all intercourse with the gay world, her husband divided his
time between the cave where he dwelt alone and the oratory of the
hermit-monk where he spent whole days in supplication, prone upon the
earth.

Poor, tortured, ignorant soul! grand in remorse and in penance as in
war and in love! He confessed often to the monk, seldom speaking to him
at other times. The priest kept faithfully the dread secrets confided
to him. His absolution, if he granted it, did not ease the burdened
soul. The end came when the long exile had dried up life and spirit.
From his death-bed Earl Guy sent to his wife, by the hand of one of
her hinds, a ring she had given him in the days of their wedded joy,
“praying her, for Jesu’s sake to visit the wretch from whom it came.”
He died in her faithful arms. They were buried, side by side, near his
cave.

This is still pointed out to visitors,—a darksome recess, partly
natural, enlarged by burrowing hands,—perhaps by those of the
“victoryous Prince Guy.”

I drew from the Leamington Library, one Saturday afternoon, a queer
little book, prepared under the auspices of a local archæological
society, and treating at some length of recent discoveries in Guy’s
Cave by an eminent professor of the comparatively new science of
classic archæology. Far up in one corner he had uncovered rude cuttings
in the rock, and with infinite patience and ingenuity, obtained an
impression of them. The surface of the stone is friable; the letters
are such clumsy Runic characters as a warrior of the feudal age would
have made had he turned his thoughts to penmanship. The language is
a barbarous Anglo-Saxon. But they have made out Lettice’s name, twice
repeated, and in another place, Guy’s. This last is appended to a line
of prayer for “relief from this heavy”—or “grievous”—“load.”

I read the treatise aloud that evening, excited and triumphant.

“_Now_, who dare ridicule us for believing in Prince Guy?”

“It all fits in too well,” said candid Prima, sorrowfully.

But the local _savans_ do not discredit the discovery on that account.
We drove out to Guy’s Cliff the next afternoon to attend service in
the family chapel of the Percys, whose handsome mansion is built hard
by. The stables are hewn out of the same rocky ridge in which Guy dug
his cell. The chapel occupies the site of the old oratory. The bell
was tinkling for the hour of worship as we entered the porch. It is a
pretty little building, of gray stone, as are the surrounding offices,
and on this occasion was tolerably well filled with servants and
tenants of “the Family.” In a front slip sat the worshippers from the
Great House—an old lady in widow’s mourning, who was, we were told,
Lady Percy, and three portly British matrons, simple in attire and
devout in demeanor. A much more august personage, pursy and puffing
behind a vast red waistcoat, whom we supposed to be Chief Butler on
week days and verger on Sabbath, assigned to us a seat directly back of
the ladies, and, what was of more consequence in our eyes, in a line
with a niche in which stands a gigantic statue of Earl Guy. This was
set up on the site of the oratory, two hundred years after his death,
by the first of the Plantagenets, Henry II.

“Our lord, the King, has each day a school for right well-lettered
men,” says a chronicler of his reign. “Hence, his conversation that he
hath with them is busy discussing of questions. None is more honest
than our king in speaking, ne in alms largess. Therefore, as Holy Writ
saith, we may say of him—‘His name is a precious ointment, and the alms
of him all the church shall take.’”

Whether as an erudite antiquarian, or as a pious son of the church
he caused this statue to be placed here, History, nor its elder
sister, Tradition informs us. We may surmise shrewdly, and less
charitably, that repentant visitings of conscience touching his marital
infidelities, or the scandal of Fair Rosamond, or peradventure, the
desire to appease the manes of the murdered Becket had something
to do with the offering. The effigy was thrown down in the ruin of
the oratory in the Civil Wars, and for many years, lay forgotten in
the rubbish. The Percys have raised it with reverent hands, and set
it—sadly broken and defaced—in the place of honor in their chapel.

There was charming incongruity in the aspect of the towering gray
figure, with one uplifted arm from which sword or battle-axe has
fallen, and the appointments and occupants of the temple. The head is
much disfigured, worn away, more than shattered. But there is majesty
in the outlines and attitude. Our eyes strayed to it oftener, dwelt
upon it longer, than on the fresh-colored face of the spruce Anglican
who intoned the service and read a neat little homily upon the 51st
Psalm, prefaced by a modest mention of David’s sin in the matter of
Uriah the Hittite. From what depth of blood-guiltiness had our noble
recluse entreated deliverance in a day when blood weighed lightly upon
the souls of brave men?

The Sabbath light flowed through the stained windows of the chancel
and bathed in blessing, the feet of the graven figure; the lifted arm
menaced no more, but signified supplication as we prayed:

    “_Spare Thou those who confess their sins!_”

—was tossed aloft in thanksgiving in the last hymn:—

    “O Paradise, O Paradise!
        Who doth not crave for rest?
     Who would not seek the happy land
        Where they that love are blest?
     Where loyal hearts and true
        Stand ever in the light,
     All rapture through and through,
        In GOD’S most holy sight.”



CHAPTER VI.

_Shakspeare and Irving._


WE had “Queen’s weather” for most of our excursions in England, and no
fairer day than that on which we went to Stratford-on-Avon.

The denizens of the region give the first sound of _a_ to the name of
the quiet river—as in _fate_. I do not undertake to decide whether
they, or we are correct. Their derelictions upon the H question are
so flagrant as to breed distrust of all their inventions and practice
in pronunciation. (Although we did learn to say “Tems”—very short—for
“T’ames.”)

I wish, for the benefit of future tourists who may read these pages,
that I had retained the address of the driver—and I believe the
owner—of the waggonette we secured for our drives in Warwickshire.
It held our party of six comfortably, leaving abundant space in the
bottom and under the seats for hamper and wraps, and was a stylish,
easy-running vehicle. The coachman was a fine young fellow of,
perhaps, six-and-twenty, civil, obliging, and, in our experience, an
exceptionally intelligent member of his class. In this conveyance, and
with such pilotage, we set out on July 27th, upon one of our red-letter
pilgrimages—fore-ordained within our, for once, prophetic souls ever
since, as ten-year old children, we used to read Shakspeare secretly in
the garret on rainy Saturdays.

It was an old copy relegated to the lumber-chest as too shabby for
the family library. One side of the calf-skin cover was gone, and
luckily for the morals of the juvenile student, “Venus and Adonis”
and most of the sonnets had followed suite. But an engraved head of
William Shakspeare was protected by the remaining cover and had left
a shadow-picture, in white-and-yellow, upon the tissue-paper next
it. After the title-page followed a dozen or so of biography, which
we devoured as eagerly as we did “The Tempest,” “Julius Cæsar,” and
“Macbeth.” We had read Mrs. Whitney’s always-and-everywhere charming
“Sights and Insights,” before and since leaving America, and worn Emory
Ann’s “realizing our geography” to shreds by much quoting. To-day, we
were realizing our Shakspeare and “Merry” England.

The drive was surpassingly lovely. The smoothness of the road was,
in itself, a luxury. It is as evenly-graded and free from stones and
ruts as a bowling-alley. One prolific topic of conversation is denied
the morning-callers and bashful swains of Warwickshire. They cannot
discuss the “state of the roads,” their uniform condition being above
criticism. The grass grew quite up to the edge of the highway, but
was shaven and weedless as a lawn. There were hedge-rows instead of
fences, and at intervals, we had enchanting glimpses up intersecting
ways of what we had heard and read of all our lives, yet in which we
scarcely believed until we saw, in their beauty and picturesqueness,
real _lanes_. The banks, sloping downward from the hedges into these,
were clothed with vines, ferns and field-flowers. One appreciates the
exquisite fidelity of such sketches from Nature as,—

    “I know a bank on which the wild thyme blows,
     Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
     Quite over-canopied with lush woodbine
     With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine—”

after seeing the lanes between Leamington and Stratford-on-Avon. Double
rows of noble trees screened us from the sun for a mile at a time, and
the hedges, so skillfully clipped that the sides and rounded tops were
never marred by redundant growth, yet bearing no sign of the shears in
stubby or naked stems, were walls of richest verdure throughout the
route. The freshness and trimness of the English landscape is a joy
and wonder forever to those unused to the perfection of agriculture
which is the growth of centuries. There is the finish and luxuriance
of a pleasure-garden in every prospect in these midland counties, and,
forgetting that the soil has acknowledged a master in the husbandman
for more than a thousand years, and that, for more than half that
time, the highest civilization known to man has held reign in this
tiny island, we are tempted to think discontentedly of the contrast
offered by our own magnificent, and, by contrast, crude spaces. It was
not because of affectation or lack of patriotism that, upon our return
home, the straggling fences, clogged with alder and brambles, the
ragged pastures and gullied hillsides were a positive pain to sight and
heart.

Any one who has seen a good photograph of Shakspeare’s house knows
exactly how it looks. The black timbers of the frame-work are visible
from the outside. The spaces between the beams are filled with cement
or plaster. There are three gables in front, the third, at the upper
corner, broader and higher than the others. The chimney is in the
end-gable, joining this last at right angles, and is covered with ivy.
A pent-house protects the main entrance. Wide latticed windows light
the ground-floor; a latticed oriel projects from the second story of
the taller division of the building. Smaller casements in line with
this are set in each of the principal upper rooms. The house is flush
with the street, and is probably smarter in its “restoration,” than
when Master John Shakspeare, wool-dealer, lived here. We entered,
without intervening vestibule or passage, a square room, the ceiling
of which was not eight feet high. A peasant’s kitchen, that was also
best-room, with a broken stone floor and plastered walls checquered by
hewn beams.

Two sisters, who dressed, looked, moved and spoke absurdly alike, are
the custodians of the cottage. One met us with a professional droop of
a not-elastic figure, a mechanical smile and an immediate plunge into
business:

“After the removal of the Shakspeare family from this humble tenement,
it was leased to a prosperous butcher, who occupied this room as a
shop. That was, indeed, a sad desecration, and one that accounts for
the dilapidation of the floor, it having been shattered by chopping
meat upon it.”

No reasonable visitor could desire to linger in the apartment longer
than sufficed for the delivery of the comprehensive formula, and she
tiptoed into the adjoining room:

“In this the family were accustomed to sit when they were not dressed
in their best clothes”—mincingly jocular.

Caput and I, regardless of routine, strayed back into the outer kitchen
to get a more satisfactory look, and after our fashion, and that of
Mr. Swiveller’s Marchioness, “to make-believe very hard.” We wanted to
shut our eyes—and ears—and in a blessed interval of silence, to see
the honest dealer in wool—member of the corporation; for two years
chamberlain; high bailiff in 1569; and in 1571—his son William being
then seven years of age—chief alderman of Stratford, standing in the
street-door chatting with a respectful fellow-townsman; Mary his wife,
passing from dresser to hearth, and, upon a stool in the chimney
corner, the BOY, chin propped upon his hand, thinking—“idling,” his
industrious seniors would have said.

We had hardly passed the door of communication when sister No. 1 having
transferred the rest of the visitors to No. 2, and sent them up-stairs,
reappeared. The same professional dip of the starched figure; the
manufactured smile, and, mistaking us for fresh arrivals, she began,
without variation of syllable or inflection:

“After the removal of the Shakspeare family from this humble tenement,
it was leased to a prosperous butcher, who occupied this room as a
shop. That was, indeed, a sad desecration—”

We fled to the upper story. The stairs give upon an ante-chamber
corresponding with the back-kitchen. Against the rear-wall, in a
gaudy frame, and, itself looking unpicturesquely new and distinct, is
the celebrated “Stratford Portrait”—another restoration. It is not
spurious, having been the property of a respectable county-family for
upwards of a century, and there is abundant documentary testimony
of its authenticity. It shows us a handsomer man than do the other
pictures of the Great Play-Wright. In fact, it is too good-looking.
One could believe it the representment of the jolly, prosperous
wool-factor, complacent under the shower of municipal honors. It is
difficult to reconcile the smooth, florid face, the scarlet lips,
dainty moustache and imperial, with thoughts of Lear, Hamlet, and
Coriolanus.

“The room in which Shakspeare was born” was quite full of
pilgrims—quiet, well-bred and non-enthusiastic, exclaiming softly over
such signatures as Walter Scott’s upon the casement-panes, and Edmund
Kean’s upon the side of the chimney devoted to actors’ autographs. They
indulged in no conversational raptures—for which we were grateful. But
the hum of talk, the rustle and stir were a death-blow to fond and
poetic phantasies. We gazed coldly upon the scrawlings that disfigure
the walls and blur the windows; incredulously upon the deal table
and chairs; critically at the dirty bust which offered still another
and a different image of the man we refused to believe came by this
shabby portal into the world that was to worship him as the greatest of
created intellects. Such disillusions are more common with those who
visit old shrines in the _rôle_ of “passionate pilgrims” than they are
willing to admit.

I wanted to think of Shakspeare’s cradle and the mother-face above it;
how he had been carried by her to the casement—thrown wide on soft
summer days like this—and clapped his hands at sight of birds and
trees, and boys and girls playing in the street, as my babies, and all
other babies, have done from the days of Cain. How he had rolled and
crept upon the floor, and caught many a tumble in his trial-steps,
and fallen asleep at twilight in the warm covert of mother-arms. I
had thought of it a thousand times before; I have been all over it
a thousand times since. While on the hallowed spot, I saw the low
room, common and homely, with bulging rafters and rough-cast sides,
the uneven boards of the floor, brown and blotched—the vulgarity of
everything, the consecration of nothing.

The museum in an adjoining room caused a perceptible rise in the
spirits, dampened by our inability to “realize,” as conscience decreed,
in the birth-chamber. The desk used by Shakspeare at school looked
plausible. There were realistic touches in the lid bespattered with
ink and hacked by jack-knife. The hinges are of leather. We believed
that he kept gingerbread, sausage-roll, toffey, green apples, and
cock-chafers with strings tied to their hind legs, in it. We did not
quibble over Shakspeare’s signet-ring, engraved with “W. S.” and a
lover’s knot. He might have sat in the chair reputed to have been used
in the merry club-meetings at the Falcon Inn, the sign of which is to
be seen here. His coat-of-arms, a falcon and spear, was proof that his
father bore, by right, the grand old name of “gentleman.” One of the
very tame dragons in charge of the premises bore down upon us while we
were looking at this.

“It is a singular coincidence, too remarkable to be _only_ a
coincidence”—her tones a ripple of treacle—“that the falcon should be
the bird that shakes its wings most constantly while in flight. Combine
this circumstance with the spear, and he is a very dull student of
heraldry who cannot trace the derivation of the name of the Immortal
Bard.”

Caput set his jaw dumbly. It was Dux, younger and less discreet, who
said, “By Jove!”

The crayon head exhibited here is a copy of the “Chandos Portrait,”
taken at the age of forty-three. It also is reputed to be an excellent
likeness, and resembles neither the bust in the church nor the famous
“Death Mask,” of which there is here preserved an admirable photograph.
After studying all other pictures extant of him, one reverts to the
last-mentioned as the truest embodiment of the ideal Shakspeare we
know by his works. The face, sunken and rigid in death, yet bears the
impress of a loftier intellectuality and more dignified manhood than do
any of the painted and sculptured presentments. The only letter written
to Shakspeare, known to be in existence, is preserved in this museum.
It is signed by one Richard Quyney, who would like to borrow thirty
pounds of the poet. One speculates, in deciphering the yellow-brown
leaf that would crumble at a touch, upon the probabilities of the
writer having had a favorable reply, and why this particular epistle
should have been kept so carefully. It was probably pure accident.
It could hardly have been a _unique_ in the owner’s collection
if the stories of his rapid prosperity and the character of the
boon-companions of his early days be true.

As we paused in the lower front room to strengthen our recollection of
the _tout ensemble_, leaning upon the sill of the window by which the
child and boy must often have stood at evening, gazing into the quiet
street, or seen the moon rise hundreds of times over the dark line of
roofs, custodian No. 1 drooped us a professional adieu, and dividing
the wire-and-pulley smile impartially between us and a fresh bevy of
pilgrims upon the threshold, commenced with the automatic precision of
a cuckoo-clock:

“After the removal of the Shakspeare family from this humble tenement
it was leased to a prosperous butcher, who occupied this room as a
shop. That was, indeed, a sad desecration—”

“Eight day or daily?” queried Lex, as we walked down the street.

We lingered for a moment at the building to which went Shakspeare as a

    “Whining school-boy, with his satchel
     And shining morning face, creeping, like snail,
     Unwillingly to school.”

It is “the thing” to quote the line before the gray walls capped by
mossy slates, of the Grammar-School founded by Henry IV. The quadrangle
about which the lecture-rooms and offices are ranged is not large,
and is entered by a low gateway. Over the stones of this court-yard
Shakspeare’s feet,

        “Creeping in to school,
    Went storming out to playing.”

Boy-nature, in 1574, was the same, in these respects, as in 1874,
Shakspeare and Whittier being judges.

Stratford-on-Avon is a clean, quiet country town, that would have
dwindled into a village long ago had not John Shakspeare’s son been
born in her High Street. Antique houses, with peaked gables and
obtrusive beams, deep-stained by years—(Time’s record is made with
inky dyes, and in broad English down-strokes, in this climate)—are to
be seen on every street. Every second shop along our route had in its
one window a show of what we would call “Shakspeare Notions;” stamped
handkerchiefs, mugs, platters, paper-cutters and paper-weights, and a
host of photographs, all commemorative of the town and the Man.

“New Place” was purchased by Shakspeare in 1597, and enlarged and
adorned as befitted his amended fortunes. We like to hear that, while
he lived in London, not a year elapsed without his paying a visit to
Stratford, and that in 1613, upon his withdrawal from public life, he
made New Place his constant residence, spending his time “in ease,
retirement and the society of friends.” In the garden grew, and, long
after his death flourished, the mulberry-tree planted by his own hands.
In the museum we had seen a goblet carved out of the wood of this tree,
and, in a sealed bottle, the purple juice of its berries. New Place did
not pass from the poet’s family until the death of his granddaughter,
Lady Barnard. It is recorded that, in 1643, this lady and her husband
were the hosts of Henrietta Maria, Queen of Charles I. She was thankful
in the turmoil and distrust of civil war, to find an asylum for three
weeks under the roof that had covered a greater than the lordliest
Stuart who ever paltered with a nation’s trust. At Lady Barnard’s
decease, New Place was sold, first to one, then another proprietor,
until Sir Hugh Clopton remodelled and almost rebuilt the house. After
him came the REV. Francis Gastrell who, in a fit of passion at what he
conceived to be the exorbitant tax levied upon the mansion, pulled it
down to the foundation-stones. In the same Christian frame of mind, he
hewed down the mulberry-tree, then in a vigorous old age, a giant of
its tribe, “because so many people stopped in the street to stare at
it, thereby inconveniencing himself and family.” Peevish fatuousness
that has a parallel in the discontent of the present incumbent of
Haworth that, “because he chances to inhabit the parsonage in which
the Brontë sisters lived and died, he must be persecuted by throngs of
visitors to it and the church.” It is not his fault, he pathetically
reminds the public, that people of genius once dwelt there, and he
proposes to demonstrate the dissimilarity of those who now occupy it by
renovating Haworth Rectory and erecting a new church upon the site of
that in which the Brontës are buried.

Of New Place nothing remains but the foundations, swathed in the kindly
coverlet of turf, that in England, so soon cloaks deformity with
graceful sweeps and swells of verdure. The grounds are tended with
pious care, and nobody carps that visitors always loiter here on their
way from Shakspeare’s birth-place to his tomb.

We passed to the fane of Holy Trinity between two rows of limes in
fullest leaf. The avenue is broad, but the noon beams were severed
into finest particles in filtering through the thick green arch; the
door closing up the farther end was an arch of grayer glooms. The
church-yard is paved with blackened tombstones. The short, rich grass
over-spreads mounds and hollows, defines the outlines of the oblong,
flat slabs, sprouts in crack and cranny. The peace of the summer
heavens rested upon the dear old town—the river slipping silently
beneath the bridge in the background—the venerable church, in the
vestibule of which we stayed our steps to hearken to music from within.
The organist was practising a dreamy voluntary, rising, now, into
full chords that left echoes vibrating among the groined arches after
he resumed his pensive strain. Walking softly and slowly, lest our
tread upon the paved floor might awake dissonant echoes, we gained the
chancel. An iron rail hinders the nearer approach to the Grave. This
barrier is a recent erection and a work of supererogation, since that
sight-seer has not been found so rude as to trample over the sacred
dust.

Upon the stone,—even with the rest of the flags—concealing the vault,
lay a strip of white cloth, stamped with a fac-simile of the epitaph
composed by Shakspeare for his tomb. Volumes have been written to
explain its meaning, and treatises to prove that there is nothing
recondite in its menace. Since the rail prevented us from getting to
that side of the slab next the inner wall of the chancel, we must have
read the inscription upside-down but for the convenient copy:

    “GOOD FREND FOR IESVS SAKE FORBEARE,
     TO DIGG THE DUST ENCLOASED HEARE:
     BLEST BE Y^{E} MAN Y^{T} SPARES THES STONES,
     AND CVRST BE HE Y^{T} MOVES MY BONES.”

Our eyes returned again and again to the weird lines and the plain
stone, as thoughts of what lay beneath it were chased away by the
wretched pomp of the monument raised by the nearest relatives of the
dead. It is set in the chancel wall about the height of a tall man’s
head above the floor and almost directly over the burial-vault. The
light from a gorgeous painted window streams upon it. Just beyond,
nearer the floor, the effigy of a knight in armor lies upon a recessed
sarcophagus. The half-length figure intended for Shakspeare is in an
arched niche, the family escutcheon above it. On each side is a naked
boy of forbidding countenance. One holds an inverted torch, the other
a skull and spade. A second and larger skull surmounts the monument.
The marble man—we could not call it Shakspeare—writes, without looking
at pen or paper, within an open book, laid upon a cushion. The whole
affair, niche, desk, cushion and attitude, reminds one ludicrously of
the old-time pulpits likened by Mr. Beecher to a “toddy tumbler with a
spoon in it.” The “spoon” in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, wears the
dress of a gentleman of his day, a full, loose surcoat, with falling
collar and cuffs. The forehead is high and bald, the face smooth as
a pippin, the eyes have a bold, hard stare; upon the mouth, and,
indeed, upon all the visage, dwells a smirk, aggressive and ineffable.
It is the face of a conceited, pompous, heavy fool, which the fine
phrenological development of the cranium cannot redeem. We cannot make
it to be to us the man whom, according to the stilted lines below,—

      “Envious death has plast
    Within this monument.”

“Yet it must have been a likeness,” ventured Caput. “It was seen and
approved by his daughters.”

We persisted in our infidelity, and refused to look again at the
smirking horror. When it was set up in the mortuary pillory overhead,
it was colored from nature. The hair, Vandyke beard, and moustache were
auburn, the tight, protuberant eyes hazel, the dress red and black.
Seventy years afterward, it was painted white and was probably a shade
less odious for the whitewashing. Lately the colors have been restored
to their pristine brightness and varnish.

Another flat slab bears the inscription:—

    “HEERE LYETH INTERRED THE BODY OF ANNE, WIFE
    OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE WHO DEP’TED THIS LIFE THE
    6^{TH} DAY OF AVGT · 1623 · BEING OF THE AGE OF · 67 · YEARES.”

She was a woman of twenty-five, he a lad of eighteen when they were
married,—a circumstance that dampens the romantic imaginings we would
fain foster to their full growth, in visiting the vine-draped cottage
of Anne Hathaway. We put from us, while standing by the graves of
husband and wife, the truth that when he, a hale, handsome gentleman of
fifty-three, sat at eventide in the shadow of the mulberry-tree, or,
as tradition paints him, leaned upon the half-door of a mercer’s shop
and made impromptu epigrams upon passing neighbors,—Anne was a woman of
sixty, who had best abide in-doors after the dew began to fall.

We went to the Red Horse Inn by merest accident. We must lunch
somewhere, having grown ravenously hungry even in Stratford-on-Avon,
and left the choice of a place to the driver of our waggonette. Five
minutes’ rattling drive over the primitive pavements between the rows
of quaint old houses, and we were in a covered passage laid with round
stones. A waiter had his hand upon the door by the time we stopped;
whisked us out before we knew where we were, and into a low-ceiled
parlor on the ground-floor, looking upon the street. A lumbering
mahogany table was in the middle of the floor. Clumsy chairs were
marshalled against the wainscot. Old prints hung around the walls.
The carpet was very substantial and very ugly. A subtle intuition, a
something in the air of the room—maybe, an unseen Presence, arrested
me just within the door. I had certainly never been here before, yet I
stood still, a bewilderment of reminiscence and association enveloping
my senses, like fragrant mist.

“Can this be”—I said slowly, feeling for words—“Geoffrey Crayon’s
Parlor?”

I tell the incident just as it occurred. Not one of us knew the name
of the inn. Our guide-books did not give it, nor had one of the party
bethought him or herself that Washington Irving had ever visited
Stratford or left a record of his visit. None of the many tourists who
had described the town to us had mentioned the antique hostelry. What
followed our entrance _came_ to me,—a “happening” I do not attempt to
explain.

The waiter did not smile. English servants consider the play of facial
muscles impertinent when addressing superiors. But he answered briskly,
as he had opened the carriage-door.

“Yes, mem! Washington Irving’s parlor! Yes, mem!”

“And this is the Red Horse Inn?”

“The Red Horse Inn! Yes, mem!”

“Where, then, is Geoffrey Crayon’s Sceptre?” looking at the grate.

He vanished, and was back in a moment, holding something wrapped in red
plush. A steel poker, clean, bright and slender, and, engraved upon one
flat side in neat characters,—“GEOFFREY CRAYON’S SCEPTRE.”

I took it in speechless reverence. The others gathered about me and it.

“_Now_”—said Caput, in excruciating and patient politeness, wheeling up
the biggest arm-chair,—“if you will have the goodness to sit down, and
tell us what it all means!”

I had read the story thirty years before in a bound volume of the “New
York Mirror,” itself then, at least ten years old. But it came back to
me almost word for word, (what we read in those days, we digested!) as
I sat there, the sceptre upon my knee, and rehearsed the tale to the
circle of listeners.

Since our return to America I have hunted up the old “Mirror,” and take
pleasure in transcribing a portion of Mr. Willis’ pleasant story of the
interview between himself and the landlady who remembered Mr. Irving’s
visit.

“Mrs. Gardiner proceeded: ‘I was in and out of the coffee-room the
night he arrived, mem, and I sees directly, by his modest ways and his
timid look, that he was a gentleman, and not fit company for the other
travellers. They were all young men, sir, and business travellers, and
you know, mem, _ignorance takes the advantage of modest merit_, and
after their dinner they were very noisy and rude. So I says to Sarah,
the chambermaid, says I, ‘that nice gentleman can’t get near the fire,
and you go and light a fire in number three, and he shall sit alone,
and it shan’t cost him nothing, for I like the looks on him.’ Well,
mem, he seemed pleased to be alone, and after his tea he puts his
legs up over the grate, and there he sits with the poker in his hand
till ten o’clock. The other travellers went to bed, and at last the
house was as still as midnight, all but a poke in the grate, now and
then, in number three, and every time I heard it I jumped up and lit a
bed-candle, for I was getting very sleepy, and I hoped he was getting
up to ring for a light. Well, mem, I nodded and nodded, and still no
ring at the bell. At last I says to Sarah, says I, ‘Go into number
three and upset something, for I am sure that gentleman has fallen
asleep.’ ‘La, ma’am!’ says Sarah, ‘I don’t dare.’ ‘Well, then,’ says I,
‘I’ll go!’ So I opens the door and I says—‘If you please, sir, did you
ring?’ little thinking that question would ever be written down in such
a beautiful book, mem.”

(She had already showed to her listeners “a much-worn copy of the
Sketch-Book,” in which Mr. Irving records his pilgrimage to Stratford.)

“He sat with his feet on the fender, poking the fire, and a smile on
his face, as if some pleasant thought was in his mind. ‘No, ma’am,’
says he, ‘I did not.’ I shuts the door and sits down again, for I
hadn’t the heart to tell him it was late, _for he was a gentleman not
to speak rudely to, mem_. Well, it was past twelve o’clock when the
bell _did_ ring. ‘There!’ says I to Sarah, ‘thank heaven he has done
thinking, and we can go to bed!’ So he walked up stairs with his light,
and the next morning he was up early and off to the Shakspeare house....

“There’s a Mr. Vincent that comes here sometimes, and he says to me one
day—‘So, Mrs. Gardiner, you’re finely immortalized! Read that!’ So the
minnit I read it I remembered who it was and all about it, and I runs
and gets the number three poker, and locks it up safe and sound, and
by and by I sends it to Brummagem and has his name engraved on it; and
here you see it, sir, and I wouldn’t take no money for it.”

Mr. Willis was in Stratford-on-Avon in 1836. In 1877 the “sceptre” was
displayed to us, as I have narrated, as one of the valuable properties
of the Red Horse Inn, although good Mrs. Gardiner long ago laid down
her housekeeping keys forever.

We sat late over the luncheon served in the parlor, which could not
have been refurnished since Irving “had his tea” there, too happy in
the chance that had brought us to the classic chamber to be otherwise
than merry over the stout bill, one-third of which should have been
set down to Geoffrey Crayon’s account. The Britons are thorough
utilitarians. Nowhere do you get “sentiment gratis.”

We drove home in the summer twilight, that lasts in the British Isles
until dawn, and enables one to read with ease until ten o’clock P.M.
Our road skirted the confines of Charlecote, the country-seat of the
Lucys. The family was at home, and visitors were therefore excluded.
It is a fine old place, but the park, which is extensive, looked
like a neglected common after the perfectly appointed grounds of
Stoneleigh Abbey, through which we passed. The fence enclosing the
Charlecote domain was a sort of double hurdle, in miserable repair, and
intertwisted with wild vines and brambles. The deer were gathered in
groups and herds under oaks that may have sheltered their forefathers
in Shakspeare’s youth. Scared by our wheels, rabbits scampered from
hedge to coverts of bracken. If the fences were in no better state “in
those ruder ages, when”—to quote Shakspeare’s biographer—“the spirit of
Robin Hood was yet abroad, and deer and coney-stealing classed, with
robbing orchards, among the more adventurous, but ordinary levities of
youth,” the trespass for which the Stratford poacher was arraigned was
a natural surrender to irresistible temptation, and the deed easily
done.



CHAPTER VII.

_Kenilworth._


WE never decided whether it was to our advantage or disappointment that
we all re-read the novel of that name before visiting Kenilworth. It is
certain that we came away saying bitterly uncharitable things of Oliver
Cromwell, to whose command, and not to Time, is due the destruction of
one of the finest castles in the realm. Caput, who, after the habit
of amateur archæologists, never stirs without an imaginary surveyor’s
chain in hand, had studied up the road and ruins in former visits, and
acted now as guide and historian. We were loth to accept the country
road, narrower and more rutty than any other in the vicinity, as that
once filled by the stupendous pageant described by Scott and graver
chroniclers as unsurpassed in costliness and display by any in the
Elizabethan age. Our surveyor talked of each stage in the progress
with the calm confidence of one who had made a part of the procession.
We knew to a minute at what hour of the night the queen—having
been delayed by a hunt at Warwick Castle—with Leicester at her
bridle-rein, passed the brook at the bottom of Castle-hill. A stream
so insignificant, and crossed by such a common little bridge, we were
ashamed to speak of them in such a connection. The column of courtiers
and soldiers thronging the highway was ablaze with the torches carried
by Leicester’s men. The castle, illuminated to the topmost battlement,
made so brave a show the thrifty virgin needed to feast her eyes
often and much upon the splendid beauty of the man at her saddle-bow
to console herself for having presented him with Kenilworth and the
estates—twenty miles in circumference—pertaining thereunto.

All this was fresh in our minds when we alighted where Leicester sprang
from his charger and knelt at the stirrup of his royal mistress in
welcome to his “poor abode.” The grand entrance is gone, and most of
the outer wall. There is no vestige of the drawbridge on which was
stationed the booby-giant with Flibbertigibbet under his cloak. By the
present gateway stands a stately lodge, the one habitable building on
the grounds. “R. D.” is carved upon the porch-front, and within it,
in divers places. Attached to this is a rear extension, so mean in
appearance we were savagely delighted to learn that it was put up in
Cromwell’s time. Passing these by the payment of a fee, and shaking
ourselves free from the briery hold of the women who assaulted us with
petitions to buy unripe fruit, photographs, and “Kenilworth Guides,”
we saw a long slope of turf rising to the level, whereon are Cæsar’s
and Leicester’s Towers, square masses of masonry, crumbling at top and
shrouded, for most of their height, in a peculiarly tough and “stocky”
species of ivy. The walls of Cæsar’s Tower—the only portion of the
original edifice (founded in the reign of Henry I.) now standing—vary
from ten to sixteen feet in thickness. Behind these, on still higher
ground, are the ruins of the Great Hall, built by John of Gaunt. In
length more than eighty feet, in width more than forty, it is, although
roofless, magnificent. The Gothic arches of the windows, lighting it
from both sides, are perfect and beautiful in outline. Ivy-clumps hang
heavy from oriel and buttress. To the left of this is Mervyn’s, or the
Strong Tower, a winding stair leading up to the summit. A broken wall
makes a feint of enclosing the castle-grounds, seven acres in area,
but it may be scaled or entered through gaps at many points. The moat
down which the “Lady of the Lake,” floating “on an illuminated movable
island,” seemed to walk on the water to offer Elizabeth “the lake, the
lodge, the lord,” is a dry ravine, choked with rubbish, overgrown with
grass and nettles. The decline of the hill up which we walked to the
principal ruins was the “base court.” A temporary bridge, seventy feet
long, was thrown over this from the drawbridge to Cæsar’s Tower, and
the queen, riding upon it, was greeted by mythological deities, who
offered her gifts from vineyard, garden, field, and fen, beginning the
ovation where the modern hags had pressed upon us poor pictures, acerb
pears and apples.

This, then, was Kenilworth. We strolled into the Banqueting or Great
Hall—now floorless—where Elizabeth and Leicester led the minuet on the
night when the favorite’s star was highest and brightest; laughing
among ourselves, in recalling the Scottish _diplomat’s_ saying that
“his queen danced neither so high nor so disposedly” as did the
Maiden Monarch. We climbed Mervyn’s Tower in which Amy Robsart had
her lodging; looked down into “The Pleasaunce,” a turfy ruin, in its
contracted bounds a dismay to us until the surveyor’s chain measured,
for our comfort, what must have been the former limits. It is now an
irregular area, scarcely more than a strip of ground, and we sought
vainly for a nook sufficiently retired to have been the scene of the
grotto-meeting between Elizabeth and the deserted wife.

“Of course you are aware that Amy Robsart was never at Kenilworth; that
she had been dead two years when Elizabeth visited Leicester here;
that he was secretly married again, this time to the beautiful widow
of Lord Sheffield, the daughter of Lord William Howard, uncle to the
queen?” said Caput, drily.

Argument with an archæologist is as oxygen to fire. We turned upon him,
instead, in a crushing body of infidel denial.

“We received, without cavil, your account—and Scott’s—of the
torch-light procession, including Elizabeth’s diamonds, after a day’s
hunting, and horsemanship; of Leicester’s glittering ‘like a golden
image with jewels and cloth of gold.’ We decline to discredit Scott
now!”

He shrugged his shoulders; took a commanding position upon the ruined
wall; his eyes swept the landscape discontentedly.

“We dwarf the history of Kenilworth to one little week,” he said. “I
am tempted to wish that Scott had never written that fiction, splendid
as it is. Do you know that Cæsar’s Tower—by the way, it will outlast
Leicester’s, whose building, like the founder, lacks integrity—do you
know that Cæsar’s Tower was begun early in the twelfth century? that
it was the stronghold of Simon de Montfort in his quarrel with Henry
III.? Edward Longshanks, then Prince Edward, attacked de Montfort in
Sussex, took from him banners and other spoils and drove him back into
Kenilworth, which the insurgents held for six months. His father, the
Earl of Leicester, met Edward’s army next day on the other side of
the Avon—over there!” pointing. “Gazing, as he marched, toward his
good castle of Kenilworth, he saw his own banners advancing, and soon
perceived that they were borne by the enemy.

“It is over!” said the old warrior. “The Lord have mercy upon our
souls, for our bodies are Prince Edward’s!”

“He was killed, fighting like a lion, in the battle that followed.
And, all the while, his son, chafing at his inability to help him,
lay,—the lion’s cub at bay,—within these walls. There were Leicesters
and Leicesters, although some are apt to ignore all except the basest
of the name—the Robert Dudley of whom it was said, ‘that he was the son
of a duke, the brother of a king, the grandson of an esquire, and the
great-grandson of a carpenter; that the carpenter was the only honest
man in the family, and the only one of Leicester’s near relatives
who died in his bed.’ Edward II.—poor, favorite-ridden wretch! was a
prisoner at Kenilworth after the execution of the Despensers, father
and son. He was forced to sign his own deposition in the Great Hall,
where you thought of nothing just now but Elizabeth’s dancing. The
breaking of the white wand,—a part of the ceremonial at a king’s
death—by Sir Thomas Blount, before the eyes of the trembling sovereign,
is one of the most dramatic events in English history. Another royal
imbecile, Henry VI., had an asylum here during Jack Cade’s Rebellion.
There was stringent need for such fortresses as Kenilworth and Warwick
in those times.”

We heard it all,—and with interest, sitting upon the edge of the
ivied wall of Mervyn’s Tower, overlooking a land as fair as Beulah,
in alternations of hill and vale; of plains golden with grain, and
belts and groves of grand old trees; the many-gabled roofs and turrets
of great houses rising from the midst of these, straggling villages
of red-brick cottages on the skirts of manorial estates indicating
the semi-feudal system still prevailing in the land. The Avon gleamed
peacefully between the borders tilled by men who never talk, and most
of whom have never heard, of the brave Leicester who fought his last
battle where they swing their scythes. Yet he was known to the yeomen
of his day as “Sir Simon the Righteous.”

“There were Leicesters and Leicesters,” Caput had truly said, and that
the proudest and most magnificent of them all was the most worthless.
But when we had picked our way down the broken stairs, and sat in the
shadow of Cæsar’s Tower, upon the warm sward, watching men drive the
stakes and stretch the cords of a marquee, for the use of a party who
were to pic-nic on the morrow among the ruins, we said:—

“To-morrow, _we_ will see Leicester’s Hospital and Leicester’s tomb, at
Warwick.”

The walk from Leamington to Warwick was one greatly affected by us as
a morning and afternoon “constitutional.” It was delightful in itself,
and we never wearied of rambling up one street and down another of
the town. We never saw Broek, in Holland, but it cannot be cleaner
than this Rip Van Winkle of a Warwickshire village, where the very
children are too staid and civil—or too devoid of enterprise—to stare
at strangers. A house under fifty years of age would be a disreputable
innovation. House-leek, and yellow stone-crop, and moss grow upon the
roofs; the windows have small panes, clear and bright, and, between
parted muslin curtains, each window-sill has its pots of geraniums and
gillyflowers.

We bought some buns in a little shop, the mistress of which was a
pretty young woman, with the soft English voice one hears even among
the lowly, and the punctilious misapplication of _h_ we should, by this
time, have ceased to observe.

“The H’earl h’of Leicester’s ’Ospital h’is a most h’interesting
h’object,” she assured us, upon our inquiring the shortest way thither.
“H’all strangers who h’admire ’istorical relicts make a point h’of
visiting the H’earl h’of Leicester’s ’Ospital.”

The street has been regraded, probably laid out and built up since
the “’istorical relict” was founded, in 1571. We would call it a
“Refuge,” the object being to provide a home for the old age of a
“Master and twelve brethren,” the latter, invalided or superannuated
tenants or soldiers, who had spent their best days in the service of
the Leicesters. It was a politic stroke to offer the ease, beer, and
tobacco of the Refuge as a reward for hard work and hard fighting. We
may be sure Robert Dudley did not overlook this. We may hope—if we
can—that he had some charitable promptings to the one good deed of his
life.

The Hospital is perched high, as if deposited there by the deluge, upon
an Ararat platform of its own. The plastered walls are criss-crossed by
chocolate-colored beams; the eaves protrude heavily; odd carvings, such
as a boy might make with a pocket-knife, divide the second and third
stories. It is a picturesque antique. People in America would speak
of it, were it set up in one of our suburban towns, as a “remarkable
specimen of the Queen Anne style.” One learns not to say such things
where Queen Anne is a creature of yesterday. A curious old structure
is the “relict,”—we liked and adopted the word,—and so incommodious
within we marveled that the brethren, now appointed from Gloucester and
Warwickshire, did not “commute,” as did “our twelve poor gentlemen”
in Dickens’ Haunted Man. But they still have their “pint”—I need not
say of what—a day, and their “pipe o’ baccy,” and keep their coal
in a vast, cobwebby hall, in which James I. once dined at a town
banquet. They cook their dinners over one big kitchen-fire, but eat
them in their own rooms; have daily prayer, each brother using his own
prayer-book, in the Gothic chapel over the doorway, the “H’earl of
Leicester” staring at them out of the middle of the painted window, and
wear blue cloth cloaks in cold weather, or in the street, adorned with
silver badges upon the sleeves. These bear the Leicester insignia, the
Bear and Ragged Staff, and are said to be the very ones presented by
him to the Hospital. Sir Walter Scott is—according to Caput—responsible
for the fact that, in the opinion of the ladies of our company, the
most valuable articles preserved in the institution are a bit of
discolored satin, embroidered by Amy Robsart (at Cumnor-Hall?) with the
arms of her faithless lord, and a sampler whereupon, by the aid of a
lively imagination, one can trace her initials.

How much of heart-ache and heart-sinking, of hope deferred, and
baffled desire may have been stitched into these faded scraps of stuff
that have so long outlasted her and her generation! Needlework has
been the chosen confidante of women since Eve, with shaking fingers
and tear-blinded eyes, quilted together fig-leaves, in token of the
transgression that has kept her daughters incessantly busy upon
tablier, panier, and jupon.

From the Hospital we went to St. Mary’s Church. There is a cellary
smell in all these old stone churches where slumber the mighty dead,
suggestive of must, mould, and cockroaches, and on the hottest day a
chill, like that of an ice-house. Our every step was upon a grave;
the walls were faced with mortuary brasses and tablets. The grating
of the ever-rusty lock and hinges awakened groans and whispers in
far recesses; our subdued tones were repeated in dreary sighs and
mutterings, as if the crowd below stairs were complaining that wealth
and fame could not purchase the repose they were denied in life. Our
cicerone in St. Mary’s was a pleasant-faced woman, in a bonnet—of
course. We never saw a pew-holder or church-guide of her sex,
bonnetless while exercising her profession. Usually, the bonnet was
black. It was invariably shabby. St. Paul’s interdict against women
uncovering the head in church may have set the fashion. Prudent dread
of neuralgias, catarrhs and toothaches would be likely to perpetuate
it. The guide here neither evaded nor superadded _hs_, and we made a
grateful note of the novelty. She conducted us first to what we knew in
our reading as the “Chapel of Richard Beauchamp.”

“The Beechum Chapel? yes, sir!” said our conductress, leading the
way briskly along the aisle, through oratory and chantry up a very
worn flight of steps, under a graceful archway to a pavement of
black-and-white lozenge-shaped marbles. The Founder sleeps in state
second to no lord of high degree in the kingdom, if we except Henry
VII. whose chapel in Westminster Abbey is yet more elaborate in design
and decoration than that of the opulent “Beechums.” The Bear and
Ragged Staff hold their own among the stone sculptures of ceiling and
walls. The former is studded with shields embossed with the arms of
Warwick, and of Warwick and Beauchamp quartered. The stalls are of dark
brown oak, carved richly—blank shields, lions, griffins, muzzled and
chained bears being the most prominent devices. The “Great Earl,” in
full armor of brass, lies at length upon a gray marble sarcophagus. A
brazen hoop-work, in shape exactly resembling the frame of a Conestoga
wagon-top, is built above him. Statuettes of copper-gilt mourners,
representing their surviving kinsmen and kinswomen, occupy fourteen
niches in the upright sides of the tomb. Sword and dagger are at his
side; a swan watches at his uncovered head, a griffin and bear at his
feet; a casque pillows his head; his hands are raised in prayer. The
face is deeply lined and marked of feature, the brows seeming to gather
frowningly while we gaze. It is a marvelous effigy. The woman looked
amazed, Caput disgusted, when we walked around it once, gave a minute
and a half to respectful study of the Earl’s face and armor; smiled
involuntarily in the reading of how he had “decessed ful cristenly
the last day of April, the yeare of oure lord god AMCCCCXXXIX.”—then
inquired abruptly:—“Where is the tomb of Queen Elizabeth’s Leicester?”

As a general, Leicester was a notorious failure; in statecraft, a
bungler; as a man, he was a transgressor of every law, human and
divine; as a conqueror of women’s hearts, he had no peer in his day,
and we cannot withhold from him this pitiful meed of honor—if honor it
be—when we read that “his most sorrowful wife Lætitia, through a sense
of conjugal love and fidelity, hath put up this monument to the best
and dearest of husbands.”

“By Jove!” said Dux, again.

“She ought to speak well of him!” retorted Caput. “He murdered her
first husband, and repudiated his second wife Douglas Howard (Lady
Sheffield) in order to espouse Lettice, not to mention the fact that
he had tried ineffectually about the time of the Kenilworth fête, to
rid himself of No. 2 by poison. He was a hero of determined measures.
Witness the trifling episode of Amy Robsart to which the Earl is
indebted for our visit to-day.”

We stood our ground in calm disdain of the thrust; were not to be
diverted from our steadfast contemplation of the King of Hearts. That
his superb physique was not overpraised by contemporaries, the yellow
marble bears satisfactory evidence, yet the chief charm of his face
was said to be his eyes. The forehead is lofty; the head nobly-shaped;
the nose aquiline; the mouth, even under the heavy moustache, was,
we could see, feminine in mould and sweetness. His hands, joined in
death, as they seldom were in life, in mute prayer upon his breast, are
of patrician beauty. He is clad in full armor, and wears the orders
bestowed upon him by his royal and doating mistress. He was sadly
out of favor with her at the time of his death in 1588. She survived
him fifteen years. If she had turned aside in one of her famous
“progresses” to look upon this altar-tomb, would she have smiled,
sobbed or sworn upon reading that his third countess had written him
down a model Benedict? His sorrowful Lætitia dragged on the load of
life for forty-six years after her Leicester’s decease, and now lies
by his side also with uplifted praying hands. She is a prim matron,
richly bedight “with ruff and cuff and farthingales and things.” The
chaste contour and placidity of her features confuse us as to her
identity with the “light o’ love” who winked at the murder that made
her the wife of Lady Douglas Howard’s husband. The exemplary couple are
encompassed by a high and handsomely wrought iron fence; canopied by a
sort of temple-front supported by four Corinthian pillars. It is almost
unnecessary to remark that the ubiquitous Bear and Ragged Staff mounts
guard above this. A few yards away is the statue of a pretty little
boy, well-grown for his three years; his chubby cheeks encircled by a
lace-frilled cap; an embroidered vestment reaching to his feet. He lies
like father and mother, prone on his back, upon a flat tombstone.

“The noble Impe Robert of Dudley,” reads the inscription, with a
list of other titles too numerous and ponderous to be jotted down or
recollected. The only legitimate son of Amy’s, Douglas’, Elizabeth’s,
Lettice’s—Every-woman’s Leicester, and because he stood in the way of
the succession of some forgotten uncle or cousin, poisoned to order,
by his nurse! “The pity of it!” says First thought at the sight of the
innocent baby-face. Second thought—“How well for himself and his kind
that his father’s and mother’s son did not mature into manhood!”

Leicester left another boy, the son of Lady Douglas, whom he cast
off after she refused to die of the poison that “left her bald.”
Warwickshire traditions are rife with stories of her and her child who
also bore his father’s name. Miss Strickland adverts to one, still
repeated by the gossips of Old Warwick, in which the disowned wife,
with disheveled hair and streaming tears, rocks young Robert in her
arms, crooning the ballad we mothers have often sung without dreaming
of its plaintive origin:—

    “Balow my baby, lie still and sleep!
     It grieves me sair to see thee weep.”

To this Robert his father bequeathed Kenilworth and its estates in the
same will that denied his legitimacy. The heir assumed the title of
Earl of Warwick, but “the crown”—alias, Elizabeth—laid claim to and
repossessed herself of castle and lands.

Thus, the Hospital is the sole remaining “relict” of the man who turned
Queen Bess’s wits out of doors, and while her madness lasted, procured
for himself the titles and honors set in array in the Latin epitaph
upon his monument.

In another chapel—a much humbler one, octagonal in shape, is the tomb
of Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke. He selected the chamber as the one in
which he desired to be buried, and wrote the epitaph:

    “FULKE GREVILLE, SERVANT TO QUEEN ELIZABETH, COUNSELLOR
    TO KING JAMES, _and Friend to Sir Philip Sidney_.”

Upon the sarcophagus were the rusty helmet, sword and other pieces of
armor he had worn without fear and without reproach;—a record in Old
English outweighing with righteous and thoughtful people, the fulsome
Latinity of Leicester’s Grecian altar and the labored magnificence of
the “Beechum Chapel.”



CHAPTER VIII.

_Oxford_.


IMPRIMIS! we put up at the Mitre Tavern in Oxford.

Nota Bene: never to do it again.

It is an interesting rookery to look at—and to leave. Stuffiness and
extortion were words that borrowed new and pregnant meaning from
our sojourn in what we were recommended to try, as “a chawming old
place. Best of service and cookery, you know, thoroughly respectable
and—ah—historic and arntique, and all that, you know!”

Dux, who had noted down the recommendation, proposed at our departure,
to add: “Mem.: Never to stop again at a hotel where illuminated texts
are hung in _every_ bed-room.”

Opposite the bed allotted to me, who am obliged continually to stay
my fearsome soul upon the wholesome promises of daily grace for daily
need, upon exhortations to be careful for nothing, and with the day’s
sufficiency of evil to cease anxious thought for morrows as rife with
trouble,—opposite my bed, where my waking eyes must meet it, was a red
blister-plaster:

“_Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may
bring forth._”

In the adjacent closet, allotted to Prima, the only ornamental object,
besides a wash-bowl so huge she had to call in her father to lift
and empty it into the tiniest slop-jar ever made, was the reminder in
brimstone-blues, “_The wages of sin is Death!_” One of our collegians
was admonished that the “wrath of God abideth upon him,” and the
other had a mutilated doctrinal text signifying quite another thing
when read in the proper connection. Caput, in his character as Mentor
and balance-wheel, checked the boys’ disposition to detect, in the
lavishment of Scriptural instruction, a disposition to establish an
honest equilibrium with the weighty bills. Extras in one direction,
they reasoned, should be met by extras in another.

“All Scripture is profitable,” he reminded the jesters. “It is only
by misuse it can be made, for a moment, to appear common, much less,
absurd. _Therefore_,” emphatically, “I object to texts upon hotel
walls!”

We were not tempted by in-door luxuries to waste in sleep or sloth
the daylight hours, but gave these to very industrious sight-seeing.
Yet we came away with appetites whetted, not satisfied by what we had
beheld. The very air of the place is redolent of learning and honorable
antiquity. Each of the twenty colleges composing the University had a
valid and distinctive claim upon our notice. To name the attractions of
one—say, Christ Church, or Balliol, would be to fill this chapter with
a catalogue of MSS. books, pictures, dates and titles. It is a queer,
fascinating, incomparable old city. Few of the streets are broad, none
straight. The shops are small, usually ill-lighted and devoted to the
needs and tastes of the students. The haberdashers are “gentlemen’s
furnishers,” the booksellers’ windows full of text-books in all known
tongues, interspersed by the far-famed Oxford Editions of Bibles and
Prayer-books. Pastry-cooks are prominent and many. The colleges are
imposing in dimensions, some magnificent in architecture. University,
the oldest, is said to have been founded by the Great Alfred. Restored
in 1229. All are so blackened and battered that the youngest looks
at least a century older than the Roman Pantheon. Ancient edifices
in the drier, hotter air of Southern Europe have been worn by the
friction of ages. The Oxford Colleges are gnawed as by iron teeth.
“Worm-eaten,” is the first epithet that comes to the tongue at sight
of them. From cornice, walls and sculptures, the stone has been picked
away, a grain at a time, until the surface is honeycombed, and to the
inexperienced eye, disintegration of the whole seems inevitable. The
lugubrious effect of age and seeming dilapidation is sensibly relieved
by the reaches of turf, often bordered by gay flowers, forming the
quadrangles, or court-yards, enclosed by the buildings.

The quadrangle of Christ Church College was laid out by Cardinal
Wolsey, the founder and patron. It is almost square, measuring 264 feet
by 261. “Great Tom,” the biggest bell in England—the custodian says,
in the world,—hangs in the cupola over the gateway. It weighs 17,000
pounds, and at ten minutes past nine P.M. strikes one hundred and ten
times, the number of students “on the foundation.” The pride of this
college is the immense refectory, or dining-hall. The ceiling, fifty
feet in height, is of solid oak elaborately carved, with graceful
pendants, also elegantly wrought. Among the decorations of this roof
are the armorial bearings and badges of Henry VIII. and Wolsey. Two
rows, a hundred feet in length, of portraits of renowned patrons,
graduates and professors of Oxford are set high upon the side-walls. At
the upper end of the hall hangs Holbein’s full-length portrait of Henry
VIII. The swinish eyes, pendulous cheeks, pursed-up mouth and double
chin would be easily caught by any caricaturist, and are as familiar to
us as the jaunty set of his flat cap upon the side of his head.

Holbein was a courtier, likewise an artist, who never stooped to
caricature. This, the most celebrated likeness of his master, was said
to be true to life, yet so ingeniously flattered as to find favor
in the sight of the original. Holbein was a master of this species
of delicate homage where the rank of the subject made the exercise
of it politic. He practised the accomplishment once too often when
he painted the miniature of Anne of Cleves. Keeping these things
in mind, we saw a bulky trunk capped by the head I have described,
one short arm akimbo, the hand resting on his sword-belt, the feet
planted far apart to maintain the balance of the bloated column and
display the legs he never wearied of praising and stroking. He wears
a laced doublet and trunk-hose; a short cloak, lined with ermine,
falls back from his shoulders. The portrait-galleries of nations may
be safely challenged to furnish a parallel in bestiality and swagger
with this figure. Yet the widow of a good man, herself a refined and
pious gentlewoman, became without coercion, his sixth queen, and
colored with pleasure when, in the view of the court, he paid her the
distinguished compliment of laying his ulcerous leg across her lap!
Such reminiscences are not sovereign cures for Republicanism.

On one side of Henry hangs the daughter who proved her inheritance
of his coarse nature and callous sensibilities, by vaunting her
relationship to him who had disgraced and murdered her mother, and
declared herself, by act of Parliament, illegitimate. Much is made
in Elizabeth’s portraits of her ruff and tower of red hair, of her
satin robe “set all over with aglets of two sorts,” of “pearl-work and
tassels of gold,” of “costly lace and knotted buttons,” and very little
of the pale, high-nosed face. Her eyes are small and black; her mouth
has the “purse” of her father’s, her features are expressionless. At
the other hand of King Henry is the butcher’s son, created by him
Lord Cardinal, cozened, in a playfully rapacious humor, out of Hampton
Palace, and cast off like a vile slug from the royal hand when he had
had his day and served his monarch’s ends. Wolsey’s portraits are
always taken in profile, to conceal the cast in the eye, which was his
thorn in the flesh. It is a triumvirate that may well chain feet, eyes,
and thought for a much longer time than we could spare for the whole
college.

Across this end of the room runs a platform, raised a foot or two
from the hall floor. A table, surrounded by chairs, is upon it. Here
dine the titled students of Christ Church College (established by the
butcher’s boy!)—the _élite_ who sport the proverbial “tufts” upon
their Oxford caps. Privileged “dons” preside at their meals, and Bluff
King Hal swaggers in such divinity as doth hedge in a king—and his
nobles—over their heads. The gentlemen-commoners are so fortunate as to
sit nearest this hallowed dais, although upon the lower level of the
refectory. The common_est_ drink small-beer from pewter tankards in the
draughts and dimness (social) of the end nearest the door.

Lex’s handsome face was a study when the fitness and beauty of class
distinctions in the halls of learning was made patent to him by
the civil guide. By the way, he wore a student’s gown, and was, we
surmised, a servitor of the college.

“How much light these entertaining items cast upon quotations we have
heard, all our lives, without comprehending,” said the audacious
youth, eying the informant with ingenuous admiration. “‘High life
_and_ below stairs!’ ‘Briton’s sons shall ne’er be slaves!’ ‘Free-born
Englishmen’—and the rest of it! There’s nothing else like an old-world
education, after all, for adjusting society. Under professors like
the Tudors and Stuarts, of course! Why, do you know, we ignoramuses
over the water would set Bright and Gladstone at the same table with
the most empty-pated lord of the lot, and never suspect that we were
insulting one of them?”

Caput pulled him away.

“You rascal!” he said, as we followed the servitor to the kitchen. “How
dare you make fun of the man to his face?”

“He never guessed it,” replied the other coolly. “It takes a drill and
a blast of powder to get a joke into an English skull.”

The kitchen is a vast vault, planned also by Wolsey, whose antecedents
should have made him an authority in the culinary kingdom in an era
when loins were knighted and _entrées_ an unknown quantity in the
composition of good men’s feasts. The high priest of the savory
mysteries met us upon the threshold, the grandest specimen, physically,
of a man we saw abroad. Herculean in stature and girth, he had a noble
head and face, was straight as a Norway pine, and was robed in a
voluminous white bib-apron. His voice was singularly deep and musical,
his carriage majestic. I wish I could add that he was as conversant
with the natural history and rights of the letter H as with the details
of his profession and the story of his realm from 1520 downward. He
exhibited the Brobdingnagian gridiron used in the time of James I., on
which an hundred steaks could be broiled at one and the same time, and
enlarged upon the improvements that had superseded the rusty bars and
smoky jacks, kept now as curiosities. In one pantry was a vast vessel
of ripe apricots, ready-sugared for jam; a huge pasty, hot and fragrant
from the oven, stood upon a dresser, encircled by a cohort of tarts.

“H’out h’of term-time we ’ave comparatively little to do,” said the
splendid giant. “Therefore I ’ave given most h’of my h’employees a
vacation. But there h’are a few h’undergraduates and a tutor h’or
two ’ere still, and”—apologetically for mortal frailty—“the h’inner
man, h’even h’of scholars must be h’entertained. ’Ence these”—waving a
mighty arm toward the pastry.

He pleased us prodigiously, even to the sublime graciousness with
which he accepted a douceur at parting. We turned at the end of the
passage to look at him—a white-robed Colossus, in the dusky arch of the
kitchen doorway. The light from a window touched his hoary hair and the
jet-black brows that darkened the full, serious eyes. He was gazing
after us, too, and bowed gravely without changing his place.

“Are there photographs of _him_ for sale?” asked we of our guide.
“Surely he is one of the college lions?”

“I beg your pardon!”

We directed his attention to the statuesque Anak.

“Oh! _he_ is the cook!” with never a gleam of amusement or surprise.

“Artistically considered,” pursued Prima, with another lingering look,
“he is magnificent.”

This time the black-gown was slightly—never so slightly, bewildered.

“He is the cook,” he said.

    “’Twas throwing words away, for still
     The little man would have his will,
     And answered—‘’Tis the cook!’”

parodied Dux. “Wordsworth was an Englishman and ‘knew how it was
himself.’”

We spent four hours in the Bodleian Library, Museum, and Picture
Gallery, leaving them then reluctantly. It was “realizing our history”
in earnest to see the portrait of William Prynne, carefully executed,
even to Archbishop Laud’s scarlet ear-mark. The clipped organ is turned
to the spectator ostentatiously, one fancies, until he bethinks
himself that the uncompromising Puritan received the loving admonition
of Church and State in both ears, and upon separate occasions. The
miniatures of James III. and his wife are here given an honorable
position. Some years since the words, “The Pretender,” were scratched
by an unknown Jacobite from the gilded frame of the uncrowned king’s
picture. The custodian pointed out the erasure with a smile indulgent
of the harmless, if petulant freak. It is odd who do such things,
and when, so vigilant is the watch kept over visitors. Three of the
delicate fingers are gone from the hands of Marie Stuart in Westminster
Abbey, and, if I remember aright, as many from the effigy of Elizabeth
in the same place.

We paused long at one small faded portrait, far inferior in artistic
merit to those about it—the first picture we had seen of Lady Jane
Grey. She has a sickly, chalky complexion that might match an American
school-girl’s. This may have been caused by the severity of her home
discipline and Master Roger Ascham’s much Latin and more Greek. She
toiled for him cheerfully, she says, “since he was the first person who
ever spake kindly to her.” She was the mistress of five languages and
a frightful number of arts and sciences, and married a sour-tempered
man, chosen by her father and his, when she was seventeen years old.
The lineaments are unformed and redeemed from plainness by large
brown eyes. They have an appealing, hunted look that was not all in
our fancy. A “slip of a girl” compassionate mothers would name her;
frightened at life, or what it was made to be to her by her natural
guardians.

Across the gallery are two portraits of Marie Stuart, one of which was
painted over the other upon the same canvas. This was discovered by an
artist, who then obtained permission from the owners to copy and erase
the upper painting. He succeeded in both tasks. The outermost portrait
wears a projecting headdress, all buckram, lace, and pearls, and a more
ornate robe than the other. A casual glance would incline one to the
belief that the faces are likewise dissimilar, but examination shows
that they are alike in line and color, the difference in expression
being the work of the tawdry coiffure. The lower likeness is so lovely
in its thoughtful sweetness as to kindle indignation with astonishment
that it should have been so foolishly disfigured. The story is a
strange one, but true.

We recognized Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’s picture, from its
resemblance to the effigy upon his tomb, and liked it less than that.
The opened eyes are fine in shape and color, but sleepy and sinister,
the complexion more sanguine than suits a carpet-knight. There is more
of the hunting-squire than the polished courtier in it. Close by is the
pleasing face of the royal coquette’s later favorite, Robert Devereux,
Earl of Essex. Another profile of Wolsey is not far off. A nobler trio
are Erasmus, Hugo Grotius and Thomas Cranmer pendent upon the same side
of the gallery.

I once read in a provincial journal a burlesque list of the curiosities
in Barnum’s Museum. One item was, “a cup of cream from the milky
way—slightly curdled.” Another—“a block from the marble hall the
Bohemian girl dreamed she dwelt in.” The nonsense recurred to me when
we bent over a glass containing Guy Fawkes’ lantern, “slightly” rusted.
In fact, it is riddled by rust, and so far as apparent antiquity goes,
might have belonged to Diogenes. The various parts—candle-holder,
iron cylinder and cover, lie apart, and with them certificates to the
genuineness of the relic. There is the original letter of warning to
Lord Mounteagle not to go to the House at the opening of Parliament,
“since GOD and man have conspired to punish the wickedness of the
times.” “Parliament shall receive a terrible blow and yet shall not see
who hurt them,” is the sentence that led to the search in the cellar
and the capture of Fawkes.

Queen Elizabeth’s fruit-plates are upon exhibition here. They are very
like the little wooden _plaques_ we now paint for card-receivers and
hang about our rooms. The edges are carved and painted, and in the
centre of each are four lines of rhyme, usually a caustic fling at
matrimony and married people.

The wealth of the Bodleian Library consists in its collection of
valuable old books and MSS. In the number and rarity of the latter it
disputes the palm with the British Museum. I should not know where to
stop were I to begin the enumeration of treasures over which we hung
in breathless delight, each one brought forward seeming more wonderful
than the last. The illuminated volumes,—written and painted upon such
parchment as one must see to believe in, so fine is its texture and
so clear the page,—are enough to make a bibliomaniac of the soberest
book-lover. A thousand years have not sufficed to dim tints and
gilding. Queen Elizabeth, as Princess, “did” Solomon’s Proverbs upon
vellum in letters of various styles, all daintily neat. In looking at
her Latin exercises and counting up Lady Jane Grey’s acquirements,
we cease to boast of the superior educational advantages of the girl
of the period. It is experiences such as were ours that morning in
the Bodleian Library and during our three days in Oxford that are
pin-pricks to the balloon of national and intellectual conceit, not the
survey of foreign governments and the study of foreign laws and manner.
If the patient and candid sight-seer do not come home a humbler and a
wiser man, he had best never stir again beyond the corporate limits of
his own little Utica, and pursue contentedly the _rôle_ of the marble
in a peck-measure.

Before seeing the “Martyrs’ Monument,” we went to St. Mary’s Church
in which Cranmer recanted his recantation. The places of pulpit and
reading-desk have been changed since the Archbishop was brought forth
from prison and bidden by Dr. Cole, an eminent Oxford divine, make
public confession of his faith before the waiting congregation. The
church was packed with soldiers, ecclesiastics and the populace. All
had heard that the deposed prelate had been persuaded by argument and
soothing wiles and the cruel bondage of the fear of death to return to
the bosom of Holy Mother Church. Cole had said mass and preached the
sermon.

“Dr. Cranmer will now read his confession,” he said and sat down.

“I _will_ make profession of my faith,” said Cranmer, “and with a good
will, too!”

We saw the site of the old pulpit in which he arose in saying this; the
walls that had given back the tones of a voice that trembled no longer
as he proclaimed his late recantation null and void, “inasmuch as he
had been wrought upon by the fear of burning to sign them. He believed
in the Bible and all the doctrines taught therein which he had wickedly
renounced. As for the Pope, he did refuse him and denounce him as the
enemy of Heaven.”

“Smite him upon the mouth; and take him away!” roared Cole.

We would presently see where he was chained to the stake and helped
tear off his upper garments, as fearing he might again grow cowardly
before the burning began. From a different motive,—namely, the dread
that his bald head and silvery beard might move the people to rescue,
the Lord Overseer of the butchery ordered the firemen to make haste.
“The unworthy hand” was burned first. His heart was left whole in the
ashes.

“That was the Oxford spirit, three hundred and twenty years ago!”
mused Caput, aloud. “Within fifty years, John Henry Newman,—now a
Cardinal—was incumbent of St Mary’s.”

“Yes, sir,” responded the pew-opener (with a bonnet on,) who showed the
church. “He was one of the first Puseyites.”

“I know!” turning again toward the site of the old pulpit.

A small square of marble, no bigger than a tile, let into the chancel
floor, records that in a vault beneath lies “Amy Robsart, first wife of
Lord Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.” Her remains were brought hither
from Cumnor Hall, which was but three miles from Oxford, and decently
interred in a brick grave under the church. Other monument than this
insignificant morsel of stone she has none.

The Martyrs’ Memorial is a handsome Gothic structure of magnesian
limestone, hexagonal and three-storied, rising into a pinnacle
surmounted by a cross. It is in a conspicuous quarter of the city, in
the centre of an open square. In arched niches, facing different ways,
are Cranmer, in his prelatical robes, Ridley, and Latimer.

“This place hath long groaned for me!” said Latimer, passing through
Smithfield, on his way to the tower after his arrest.

But they brought him to Oxford to die.

We checked the carriage and alighted opposite Balliol College. The
street is closely built up on both sides, and in the middle, upon one
of the paving-stones, is cut a deep cross. This is the true Martyrs’
Memorial. There, Ridley and Latimer “lighted such a candle by the
grace of GOD as shall never be put out.” The much-abused phrase,
“baptism of fire,” grows sublime when we read that Latimer was “seen to
make motions with his hands as if washing them in the flames, and to
stroke his aged face with them.”

Said an American clergyman—and inferentially, a defender of the
Faith—“I have no sympathy with those old martyrs. The most charitable
of us must confess that they were frightfully and disgustingly
_obstinate_!”

We may forgive them for failing to win the approbation of latter-day
sentimentalists when we reflect that but for this, their unamiable
idiosyncrasy, neither Protestant England nor Protestant America
would to-day exist, even in name. Not very long since, excavations
under the sidewalk nearest to the cross-mark in this street revealed
the existence here—as a similar accident had in front of St.
Bartholomew-the-Great, in London—of a thick stratum of ashes. “Human
ashes mixed with wood,” says the report of the discovery printed by
an Antiquarian Society—“establishing beyond question that this was
where the public burnings were held.” The inhumanity of sweeping
such ashes into a heap by the wayside, as one might pile the refuse
of a smelting-furnace, is almost as revolting to most people as the
disgusting obstinacy of the consumed heretics. We saw another official
record, of an earlier date, relative to this locality,—the bills sent
by the Sheriff of Oxford to the Queen, after two “public burnings.”
One headed—“_To burn Latimer and Ridley_” has seven items, including
“wood-fagots, furze-fagots, chains, and staples,” accumulating into
a total of £1, 5s. 9d. “_To burn Cranmer_” was a cheaper operation.
“Furze and wood-fagots,” the carriage of these, and “2 laborers,”
cost but “12s. 8d.” Ridley and Latimer suffered for their obstinacy,
October 16, 1555; Cranmer in March of the next year.

The walks and drives in and about Oxford are exceedingly beautiful. The
“Broad Walk,” in Christ Church Meadows, deserves the eulogiums lavished
upon it by tongue and pen. The interlacing tracery of the elms, arched
above the smooth, wide avenue; the glimpses to right and left of “sweet
fields in living green;” clumps of superb oaks and pretty “pleasances;”
the dark-gray towers, domes and spires of the city, and the ivied
walls of private and public gardens; the Isis winding beneath willows
and between meadows, and dotted, although it was the long vacation,
with gliding boats,—all this, viewed in the clear, tender light of the
“Queen’s weather” that still followed us on our journeyings, made up
a picture we shall carry with us while memory holds dear and pleasant
things.

When we go abroad again—(how often and easily the words slip from our
lips!) we mean to give three weeks, instead of as many days, to Oxford.

“Honor bright, now!” said Caput, settling into his place, with the rest
of us, in the railway carriage, after the last look from the windows
upon the receding scene;—“when you say ‘Oxford’ do you think first of
Alfred the Great; of Cœur de Lion, who was born there; of William the
Conqueror, who had a tough battle to win it; of Cardinal Wolsey—or of
Tom Brown?”

“That reminds me!” said Prima, serenely ignoring the query her elders
laughingly declined to answer,—“we must get some sandwiches at Rugby.
Everybody does.”

We did—all leaving the train to peep into the “Refreshment Room of
Mugby Junction,” and quoting, _sotto voce_, from the sketch which,
it is affirmed, has made this, in very truth, what Dickens wrote it
down ironically—“the Model Establishment” of the line. “The Boy” has
disappeared, or grown up. Mrs. Sniff,—“the one with the small waist
buckled in tight in front, and with the lace cuffs at her wrists, which
she puts on the edge of the counter and stands a-smoothing while the
Public foams,”—has been supplanted by a tidy dame, cherry-cheeked and
smiling. She filled our order with polite despatch, and, in her corps
of willing assistants one searches uselessly for the “disdaineous
females and ferocious old woman,” objurgated by the enraged foreigner;
as vainly in the array of tempting edibles upon the counter for
“stale pastry and sawdust sangwiches.” We had our railway carriage to
ourselves, and, carrying our parcels thither, prepared to make merry.

“I need not explain to this assembly the ingredients and formation
of the British Refreshment Sangwich,” began Prima, who knows Dickens
better than she does the Catechism.

The sandwich of Rugby,—as revised—is put up by the half-dozen in
neat white boxes, tied with ribbons, like choice confections. The
ingredients are sweet, white bread, and juicy tongue or ham. The pastry
is fresh and flaky, the cakes delicate and toothsome. We kept our
sandwich-boxes as souvenirs.

We did not catch a sight of Banbury Cross, or of the young woman with
bells on her toes who cantered through our nursery rhyme to that
mythical goal. But we did supplement our Mugby Lunch by Banbury cakes,
an indigestible and palatable compound.



CHAPTER IX.

_Sky-larks and Stoke-Pogis._


THE only really hot weather we felt in the British Isles fell to
our lot at Brighton. The fashionable world was “up in London.” The
metropolis is always “up,” go where you will. “The season” takes in
July, then everybody stays in the country until after Christmas,
usually until April. Benighted Americans exclaim at the unreason of
this arrangement, and are told—“It is customary.”

“But you lose the glory of Spring and Summer; and muddy (_Anglicé_,
‘dirty’) roads and wintry storms must be a serious drawback to country
pleasures. We think the American plan more sensible and comfortable.”

“It is not customary with us.”

With the Average Briton, and with multitudes who are above the average
in intelligence and breeding, “custom” is an end of all controversy.

For one week of the two we spent in Brighton, it was unequivocally
_hot_. The sea was a burnished mirror between the early morning and
evening hours. The Parade and the Links were deserted; the donkey-boys
and peripatetic minstrels retired discouraged from the sultry streets.
We had a pleasant suite of rooms upon Regency Square and kept tolerably
comfortable by lowering the awning of the front balcony and opening
all the inner doors and windows to invite the breeze. Our landlord
had been a butler in Lord Somebody’s family for twenty-eight years;
had married the housekeeper, and with their joint savings and legacies
leased the “four-story brick,” No. 60 Regency Square, and kept a
first-class lodging-house. Every morning, at nine o’clock, he appeared
with slate and pencil for orders for the day. “Breakfast,” “Luncheon,”
“Dinner” were written above as many spaces, and beneath each I made out
a bill-of-fare. Meals were served to the minute in the back-parlor and
the folding-doors, opened by his august hand, revealed him in black
coat and white necktie, ready to wait at table. Cookery and service
were excellent; the rooms handsomely furnished, including napery,
china, silver, and gas. We paid as much as we would have done at a
hotel, but were infinitely more contented, having the privacy and many
of the comforts of a real home.

Our worthy landlord remonstrated energetically at sight of the open
windows; protested against the draughts and our practice of drawing
reading-chairs and lounges into the cooling currents.

“The wind is east, sir!” he said to Caput, almost with tears,—“and when
it sets in that quarter, draughts are deadly.”

We laughed, thanked him and declared that we were used to east winds,
and continued to seek the breeziest places until every one of us was
seized with influenza viler than any that ever afflicted us in the
middle of a Northern winter. Upon Caput, the most robust of the party,
it settled most grievously. The dregs were an attack of bronchitis that
defied all remedies for a month, then sent him back to the Continent
for cure. I mention this instance of over-confidence in American
constitutions and ignorance of the English climate as a warning to
others as rash and unlearned.

The wind stayed in the east all the time we were in Brighton and the
sun’s ardor did not abate. Our host had a good library,—a rarity in a
lodging-house, and we “lazed” away noon-tides, book or fancy-work in
hand. We had morning drives into the country and evening rambles in the
Pavilion Park, and out upon the splendid pier where the band played
until ten o’clock, always concluding, as do all British bands, the
world around, with “GOD save the Queen.” Boy, attended by the devoted
Invaluable, divided the day between donkey-rides, playing in the
sand,—getting wet through regularly twice _per diem_, by an in-rolling
wave,—and the Aquarium. The latter resort was much affected by us all.
It is of itself worth far more than the trouble and cost of a trip from
London to Brighton and back.

The restfulness,—the indolence, if you will have it so—of that sojourn
in a place where there were few “sights,” and when it was too warm
to make a business of visiting such as there were, was a salutary
break,—barring the influenza—in our tour. Perhaps our mental digestions
are feebler or slower than those of the majority of traveling
Americans. But it was a positive necessity for us to be quiet, now
and then, for a week or a month, that the work of assimilation and
nourishment might progress safely and healthfully. After a score of
attempts to bolt an art-gallery, a museum, a cathedral, or a city at
one meal, and to follow this up by rapidly successive surfeits, we
learned wisdom from the dyspeptic horrors that ensued, and resigned
the experiment to others. Nor did we squander time and strength upon a
thing to which we were indifferent, merely because Murray or Baedeker
prescribed it, or through fear of that social nuisance, the Thorough
Traveler. We cultivated a fine obtuseness to the attacks of this
personage and never lost an hour’s sleep for his assurance that the
one thing worth seeing in Munich was the faïence in a tumbling-down
palace only known to virtuosos “who understood the ropes,” and which
we, being simple folk unversed in rope-pulling, had not beheld; or
that he who omitted to walk the entire length of the Liverpool Docks,
or to see the Giant’s Causeway by moonlight, or to go into the Blue
Grotto, might better have stayed at home and given his ticket and
letter-of-credit to a more appreciative voyager.

Our fortnight at Brighton, then, was one of our resting-spells, and one
morning, after a night-shower had freshened the atmosphere, and the
wind blew steadily but not too strongly from the sea, we drove, _en
famille_, to the Downs and the Devil’s Dyke, a deep ravine cleaving the
Downs into two hills. The devil’s name is a pretty sure guarantee of
the picturesque or awful in scenery,—a sort of trade-mark. Our course
was through the open, breezy country; the road, fringed and frilled
with milk-white daisies and scarlet poppies, overlooking the ocean
on one side, bounded upon the other by corn-fields and verdant downs
stretching up and afar into the hilly horizon. The evenness of the
grass upon these rolling heights, and of the growth of wheat and oats
was remarkable, betokening uniformity of fertility and culture unknown
in our country. Wheat, oats, barley—all bearded cereals—are “corn”
abroad, maize being little known.

Leaving the waggonette at the hotel on the top of the Downs, and
turning a deaf ear to the charming of the photographer, whose camera
and black cloth were already afield, early in the day as it was, we
walked on the ridge for an hour. We trod the springy turf as upon
a flowery carpet; the air was balm and cordial; from our height we
surveyed five of the richest counties of England, seeming to be spread
upon a plane surface, the distance leveling minor inequalities.
Sussex, Surrey, and Hampshire were a mottled map below our plateau, a
string of hamlets marking highways and knotting up, once in a while,
into a larger settlement wound about a church. Some of these were very
primitive sanctuaries, with thatched roofs and towers, and the straw
gables of the cottages were like so many embrowned hay-ricks.

Then and there, our feet deep in wild thyme and a hundred unknown
blossoming grasses, the pastoral panorama unrolled for our vision, from
the deep blue sea-line to the faint boundary of the far-off hills,
the scented breezes filling lungs that panted to inhale yet larger
draughts of their cool spiciness—we first heard the larks sing! We
had been sceptical about the sky-lark. And since hearing the musical
“jug-jug” and broken _cadenzas_ of Italian nightingales, and deciding
that the mocking-bird would be a triumphantly-successful rival could
he be induced to give moonlight concerts, we had waxed yet more
contemptuous of the bird who builds upon the ground, yet is fabled to
sing at heaven’s gate. We had seen imported larks, brown, spiritless
things, pecking in a home-sickly way at a bit of turf in the corner
of their cage, and emitting an infrequent “tweet.” Our hedge-sparrow
is a comelier and more interesting bird, and, for all we could see,
might sing as well, if he would but apply his mind to the study of the
sustained warble.

Our dear friend, Dr. V——, of Rome, once gave me a description of the
serenades of the nightingales about his summer home on the Albanian
Hills, so exquisite in wording, so pulsing with natural poetry as to
transcend the song of any Philomel we ever listened to. I wished for
him on the Downs that fervid July morning. I wish for his facile pen
the more now when I would tell, and cannot, how the sky-larks sang and
with what emotions we hearkened to them. They arose, not singly or in
pairs, but by the score, from the expanse of enameled turf, mounting
straight and slowly heavenward. Their notes blended in the upper air
into a vibrating ecstasy of music. Pure as the odor of the thyme, free
as the rush of the sea-air over the heights, warble and trill floated
down to us as they soared, always directly up, up, until literally
invisible to the naked eye. I brought the field-glass to bear upon two
I had thus lost, and saw them sporting in the ether like butterflies,
springing and sinking, tossing over and over upon the waves of their
own melody, and, all the while, the lower air in which we stood was
thrilling as clearly and deliciously with rapturous rivulets of sound
as when they were scarce twenty feet above the earth.

Our last memory of Oxford is a landscape—in drawing, graphic and clear
as a Millais, rich and mellow as a Claude in coloring. We brought away
both picture and poem from Brighton Downs.

It was still summer-time, but summer with a presage of autumn in
russet fields and shortening twilights, when we left the railway train
at Slough, a station near Windsor Castle, and took a carriage for
Stoke-Pogis. This, the “Country Church-yard” of Thomas Gray, is but two
and a half miles from the railway, and is gained by a good road winding
between hedge-rows and coppices, with frequent views of quiet country
homes. The flag flaunting from the highest tower of Windsor was seldom
out of sight on the route.

    “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
     And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave.”

It was impossible to abstain from repeating the couplet, inevitable
that it should recur to us, a majestic refrain, at each glimpse of the
royal standard. We stopped in the broad shadow of a clump of oaks at
the side of the road; passed through a turn-stile and followed a worn
foot-path across the fields. The glimmer of a pale, graceful spire
among the trees was our guide. About sixty yards beyond the stile
is an oblong monument of granite, surmounted by a sarcophagus with
steeply-slanting sides and a gabled cover. The paneled sides of the
base are covered with selections from Gray’s poems. The turf slopes
from this into a shallow moat, on the outer bank of which reclined two
boys. They were well-favored fellows, dressed in well-made jackets and
trousers, and had, altogether, the air of gentlemen’s sons. While one
copied into a blank book the inscription on the side nearest him, his
companion was at work upon a tolerable sketch of the monument.

    “Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade
     Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
     Each in his narrow cell forever laid
     The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep,”

read Caput from the monument. Then, glancing at the sarcophagus:
“Can Gray himself be buried here? I thought his grave was in the
church-yard?”

The boys wrote and sketched on, deaf and dumb. Caput approached the
elder, who may have been fifteen years old.

“I beg your pardon! but can you tell me if this is the burial-place of
the poet Gray?”

The lads looked at each other.

“Gray?” said one—

“Poet?” the other.

Then—this is solemn truth, dear Reader!—both uttered, with the unison
and monotony of a church-response—“I really carn’t say!”

We pursued the little foot-path to the church. There would surely be
some record there to satisfy our query. Stones should have tongues
upon the soil that produces the Average Briton. “The summer’s late
repentant smile” cast a pensive beauty over the country-side, made of
the sequestered church-yard a home fair to see and to be desired when
the “inevitable hour” should come. The wall has a luxuriant coping of
ivy throughout its length. Prehensile streamers have anchored in the
turf below and bound the graves with green withes. The ivy-mantle of
the old square tower leaves not a stone visible except where it has
been cut away from the window of the belfry. A new steeple rises out
of the green mass. A modest and symmetrical pinnacle, but one that
displeases prejudice, if not just taste, and which is as yet shunned by
the ivy, that congener of honorable antiquity. It clings nowhere more
lovingly than to the double gable, under the oriel window of which is
the poet’s grave. This is a brick parallelogram covered by a marble
slab. Gray’s mother is buried with him. A tablet in the church-wall
tells us in which narrow cell he sleeps.

Just across the central alley the sexton was opening an old grave,
probably that it might receive another tenant, possibly to remove the
remains to another cemetery. A gentleman in clerical dress stood near,
with two young girls. The grave-digger and his assistant completed the
group. Caput applied to the clergyman, rightly supposing him to be the
parish rector, for permission to gather some of the pink thyme and
grasses from the base of the brick tomb. During the minute occupied by
courteous question and reply, the contents of the grave were exposed to
view.

“A ‘mouldering heap’ of dust!” said Caput, coming back to us, “Here and
there a crumbling bone. A mat of human hair. Not even the semblance of
human shape. That is what mortality means. Gray may have seen the like
in this very place.”

We picked buttercups, clover, and thyme, some blades of grass and
sprigs of moss, that had their roots in the fissures of the bricks, and
as silently quitted the vicinage of the open pit. Every step furnished
proof of the fidelity to nature of the imperishable idyl. It was an
impossibility—or so we then believed—that it could have been written
elsewhere than in that “church-yard.” The moveless arabesques of the
rugged elm-boughs slept upon the ridged earth at our left; the yew-tree
blackened a corner at the right. The “upland lawn” was bathed in
sunshine; the

                      “nodding beech
    That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,”

at whose foot the recluse stretched his listless length at noontide,
still leaned over the brook. We stayed our lingering steps to listen to
its babbling, and point out the wood and the “’customed hill.”

We rode back to the station by way of the hamlet, into whose uncouth
name genius has breathed music, and saw Gray’s home. It is a plain,
substantial dwelling, little better than a farm-house. In the garden
is a summer-house, in which, it is said, he was fond of sitting
while he wrote and read. Constitutionally shy, and of exceeding
delicacy of nerve and taste, his thoughtfulness deepened by habitual
ill-health,—one comprehends, in seeing Stoke-Pogis, why he should have
preferred it to any other abode, yet how, in this seclusion, gravity
and dreaming should have become a gentle melancholy tingeing every line
we have from his pen. As, when apostrophizing Eton:—

    “Ah, happy hills! ah, pleasing shades!
      Ah, fields, beloved in vain!
    Where once my careless childhood strayed,
      A _stranger yet to pain_.”

This continual guest, Pain, engendered an indolent habit of body. His
ideal Heaven was “where one might lie on the sofa all day and read a
novel,” unstung by conscience or the contempt of his kind.

“William Penn was born at Stoke-Pogis!” I remembered, aloud and
abruptly.

Caput’s eyes were upon the fast-vanishing spire:

“The Elegy—in which I defy any master of English to find a misapplied
word—was written twenty times before it was printed,” he observed
sententiously.

“_Papa!_” from the young lady on the back seat of the carriage—“Now, I
thought it was an impromptu——”

“Dashed off upon the backs of a pocketful of letters, between daylight
and dark, a flat grave-stone for a desk,—and published in the next
morning’s issue of the ‘Stoke-Pogis Banner of Light!’” finished the
senior, banteringly.

But there is a lesson, with a moral, in the brief dialogue.



CHAPTER X.

_Our English Cousins._


WE had seen the _Carnevale_ at Rome, and the wild confusion of the
_moccoletti_, which is its finale; _festas_, in Venice, Milan, and
almost every other Italian town where we had stayed overnight. There
are more festas than working-days in that laughter-loving land. In
Paris we had witnessed illuminations, and a royal funeral, or of such
shreds of royalty as appertained unto the dead King of Hanover,—the
Prince of Wales, very red of face in the broiling sun, officiating as
chief mourner in his mother’s absence. In Geneva we had made merry over
the extravaganzas of New Year’s Day, and the comicalities of patriotism
that rioted in the _Escalade_. We were _au fait_ to the beery and
musical glories of the German _fest_. We would see and be in the thick
of a British holiday. What better opportunity could we have than was
offered by the placards scattered broadcast in the streets, and pasted
upon the “hoardings” of Brighton, announcing a mammoth concert in the
Crystal Palace at Sydenham; a general muster of Temperance Societies;
an awarding of prizes to competitive brass bands, and a prospective
convocation of 100,000 souls from every town and shire within a radius
of fifty miles? Such facilities for beholding that overgrown monster,
the British Public, in his Sunday clothes and best humor—might not
occur again—for us—in a half-century.

True, the weather was warm, but the Palace and grounds were spacious.
The musical entertainment was not likely to be of the classic order,
but it would be something worth the hearing and the telling,—the
promised chorus of 5,000 voices, led by the immense organ, in “GOD SAVE
THE QUEEN!” Thus we reasoned away Caput’s predictions that we would
be heartily sick of the experiment before the day was half-gone, and
thankful to escape, as for our lives, from the hustling auditors of the
grand chorus. We yielded one point. Instead of going up to Sydenham in
an excursion-train, the better to note the appearance and manners of
the Public, we waited for a quieter and later, at regular prices, and
so reached the Crystal Palace Station about eleven o’clock.

The punishment of our contumacy began immediately. Wedged in a dark
passage with a thousand other steaming bodies, with barely room enough
for breathing—not for moving hand or foot—retreat cut off and advance
impracticable, we waited until the pen was filled to overflowing by the
arrival of the next train before the two-leaved doors at the Palaceward
end split suddenly and emptied us into the open air. We made a feint
of going through the main building with those of our party who had
not already seen it, but every staircase was blocked by ascending
and descending droves, and nobody gave an inch to anybody else. The
Mothers of England were all there, each with a babe in arms and another
tugging at her skirts. Men swore—good-humoredly,—women scolded as
naturally as in their own kitchens and butteries, and babies cried
without fear or favor. The police kept a wise eye upon the valuables of
the Palace, and let the people alone. Repelled in every advance upon
art-chamber and conservatory, we collected our flurried forces and
withdrew to the grounds. When sore-footed with walking from fountain
to flower-bed, the gentlemen watched for and obtained seats for the
ladies upon a bench near the stand, where the competitive brass bands
were performing, heard, perhaps by themselves and their rivals, but few
besides.

The avenues were choked in every direction with swarms of the
commonest-looking people our eyes had ever rested upon. Rags and
squalor were seldom seen, and the yeomanry and their families were
fresh-colored and plump. The representatives from London and other
large cities were easily distinguishable by a sharper, sometimes a
pinched look, leaden complexions and smarter clothes. There is a
Continental saying that in England, blacksmiths make the women’s
dresses and men’s hats. If the ladies of rank, beginning with the
queen, are notably ill-dressed, what shall we say of the apparel of
mechanics’, small tradesmen’s and farmers’ wives and daughters, such
as we beheld at Sydenham? Linsey skirts, quite clearing slippered feet
and ankles clothed in home-knit hose, were converted into gala-suits by
polonaises of low-priced grenadine, or worked muslin of a style twenty
years old, and bonnets out-flaunting the geranium-beds. The English
gardeners may have borrowed the device of massing lawn-flowers from
their countrywomen’s hats. White was in high favor with the young,
generally opaque stuffs such as _piqué_ and thick cambric, but we did
not see one that was really clean and smooth. Most had evidently done
holiday-duty for several seasons and were still considered “fresh
enough.” Elderly matrons and spinsters panted in rusty black silk
and shiny alpacas, set off by broad cotton lace collars, astounding
exhibitions of French lace, cheap flowers and often white feathers,
upon hats that had not seen a milliner’s block in a dozen seasons. Old
and young were prone to ribbon-sashes with flying or drooping ends,
and cotton gloves. Some wore fur tippets over their summer-robes. These
we remarked the less for having seen ladies, traveling first-class,
with footmen and maids in attendance, wear in August, grenadine and
muslin dresses and sealskin jackets.

The women were more easy in their finery than were the men in
broadcloth, shirt-fronts and blackened boots. These huddled in awkward
groups, talked loudly and laughed blusteringly, while their feminine
companions strolled about, exchanging greetings and gossip. The little
girls kept close to their mothers in conformity with British traditions
on the government of girls of all ages; the small boys munched apples
and gingerbread-nuts, and stared stolidly around; those of the bigger
lads who could afford the few pence paid for the privilege, rode
bicycles up and down the avenues until the blood threatened to start
from the pores of their purple faces, and their eyes from the sockets.
From that date to this, the picture of a half-grown Briton,—done up
to the extreme of uncomfortableness in best jacket and breeches that
would “just meet,”—careering violently over the gravel under the fierce
July sun, directing two-thirds of his energies to the maintenance
of his centre of gravity upon the ticklish seat, the rest to the
perpetual motion of arms and legs,—stands with me as the type of the
pitiable-ludicrous. Of men, women and children, at least one-half wore
ribbon badges, variously lettered and illuminated. Standards were
borne in oblique, undress fashion, upon shoulders, and leaned against
trees, advertising the presence of “Bands of Hope,” “Rain Drops,”
“Rechabites,” “Summer Clouds,” “Snow-Flakes” and “Cooling Springs.”
Many men, and of women not a few, had velvet trappings, in shape and
size resembling Flemish horse-collars, about their necks, labeled in
gold with cabalistic characters, denoting the title borne by the
wearer in some one of the Temperance Societies represented.

Caput was right. The element of the picturesque was utterly wanting
from the holiday crowd. The naïve jollity that almost compensates
for this deficiency in the _fests_ of Deutschland was likewise
absent. The brass bands pealed on perseveringly, the crowd shifted
lumberingly to and fro, and we grew hungry as well as tired. The Palace
Restaurant would be crowded, we knew, but we worked our way thither
by a circuitous course, avoiding the densest “jams” in corridors and
stairways, and were agreeably surprised at finding less than twenty
persons at lunch, and in the long, lofty dining-room, the coolest,
quietest retreat we had had that day. The dinner was excellent, the
waiters prompt and attentive, and with the feeling that the doors
(bolted by the restaurant-prices), were an effectual bulwark against
the roaring rabble, we dallied over our dessert as we might in the back
drawing-room in Brighton with good Mr. Chipp behind Caput’s chair.

We would fain have lingered in the concert-hall to hear the chorus of
five thousand voices upborne by the full swell of the mighty organ.
There were the tiers of singers, mostly school-girls in white frocks,
piled up to the ceiling, waiting for the signal to rise. Somebody
said the organ was preluding, but of this we were not sure, such was
the reigning hubbub. The important moment came. The thousands of
the choir were upon their feet; opened their mouths as moved by one
unseen spring. The conductor swung his bâton with musical emphasis
and discretion. The mouths expanded and contracted in good time. We
heard not one note of it all. Men shouted to one another and laughed
uproariously; women scolded and cackled; babies screamed,—as if music,
“heavenly maid,” had never been born, and it was no concern of theirs
whether the Queen might, could, would, or should be saved.

Caput put his mouth to my ear.

“This will kill you!” he said, and by dint of strong elbows and broad
shoulders, fought a way for us out of the press.

“From all such—and the rest of it!” gasped Prima, when we were seeking
lost breath, and smoothing rumpled plumage in the outer air.

That blessed man was magnanimous! He never so much as _looked_—“You
would come!”

He only said solicitously to me—“I am afraid your head aches! Would you
like to sit quietly in the shade for awhile before we go home?”

Fallacious dream! The British Public had lunched out-of-doors while
we sat at ease within. The park, containing more than two hundred
acres, was littered with whitey-brown papers that had enwrapped the
“British Sangwich;” empty beer-bottles were piled under the trees, and
the late consumers of the regulation-refreshments lounged upon the
grass in every shady corner, smoking, talking and snoring. Abandoning
the project of rest within the grounds, we walked toward the gate of
egress. Everywhere was the same waste of greasy papers, cheese-parings,
bacon-rinds and recumbent figures, and, at as many points of our
progress we saw three drunken women—too drunk to walk or rise. One lay
in the blazing sunshine, untouched by Good Samaritan or paid police,
a baby not over two years old sitting by her, crying bitterly. Caput
directed a policeman to the shocking spectacle. He shook his head.

“She’s werry drunk!” he admitted. “But she h’aint noisy. We must give
the h’attention of the Force to them w’ot _h’is_!”

It was but two o’clock when we entered the waiting-room of the station.
Out-going trains were infrequent at that time of the day, and we must
wait an hour. I found a comfortable sofa in the ladies’ parlor and laid
down my throbbing head upon a pillow of the spare shawls without which
we never stirred abroad. A kindly-faced woman suspended her knitting
and asked what she could do for me.

“Maybe the lady would like a cup of tea with a teaspoonful of brandy in
it? Or a glass of h’ale?”

I thanked her, but said I only wanted rest and quiet.

“Which I mean to say, mem, it’s ’ard to get to-day. I’ve been ’ere five
year, keeper of this ’ere waiting-room, and never ’ave I seen such
crowds. The trains h’are a-comin’ h’in constant still, and will, till
h’evening. And h’every train, h’it do bring a thousand. A Temperance
pic-nic, you see, mem, _do_ allers draw h’uncommon!”

We saw, not of choice, one more fête-day in England—the Bank
holiday lately granted to all classes of working-people. It fell
on Monday, August 5th, and caught us in London with a day full
of not-to-be-deferred engagements, the departure of some of our
family-party being near at hand. The Banks, all public offices and
shops were closed. The British Museum, Zoölogical Gardens, The Tower
and parks would be crowded, we agreed, in modifying our plans. St.
Paul’s and Westminster Abbey seemed safe. We were right with respect
to the Cathedral. An unusually large number of people strayed in and
sauntered about, looking at monuments and tablets in church and crypt,
but we were free to move and examine. It was a “free day” at the Abbey.
The chapels locked at other seasons, and only to be seen in the conduct
of a verger, were now open to everybody, and everybody was there.
We threaded the passage-ways in the wake of a fleet of cockneys,
great and small, to whom the tomb that holds the remains of the Tudor
sisters, and on which their greatest queen lies in marble state,
signified no more than a revolving doll in a hair-dresser’s window; who
slouched aimlessly from Ben Jonson’s bust to Chaucer’s monument, and
trod with equal apathy the white slab covering “Old Parr,” and the gray
flagging lettered, “CHARLES DICKENS.”

That this judgment of the rank and file is not uncharitable we had
proof in the demeanor and talk of the visitors.

“James!” cried a wife to her heedless husband, when abreast of the tomb
of Henry III. “You don’t look at nothink you parss. Don’t you see this
is the tomb of ’Enry Thirteenth?”

“’Enry or ’Arry!” growled her lord without taking his hands from his
pocket—“Wot do I care for _he_?”

None of the comments, we overheard, upon the treasures of this grandest
of burial-places amused us more than the talk of a respectable-looking
man with his bright-eyed ten-year old son over the memorial to Sir John
Franklin. Beneath a fine bust of the hero-explorer is a bas-relief of
the Erebus and Terror locked in the ice.

“See the vessels in the rocks, Pa!” cried the boy. “Or—is it ice?”

“I don’t rightly know, Charley. Don’t touch!”

“I wont, Pa! I just want to read what this is on the ship. E, R, E, B,
U, S!—_E. R. Bruce!_ Is he buried here, do you ’spose?”

“In course he is, me lard! They wouldn’t never put h’another man’s name
h’upon ’is tombstone—would they?”

It is obviously unfair, say some of those for whom I am writing, to
gauge the intelligence and breeding of a great nation by the manners of
the lower classes. Should I retort that upon such data, as collected
by British tourists in a flying trip through our country, is founded
the popular English belief that we are vulgar in manner and speech,
superficial in education and crude in thought, I should be told that
these are the impressions and opinions of a bygone period,—belong to
a generation that read Mrs. Trollope’s and Marryatt’s “Travels,” and
Boz’s “American Notes;” that the Briton of to-day harbors neither
prejudice nor contempt for us; appreciates all that is praiseworthy in
us as individuals and a people; is charitable to our faults. There are
Americans resident abroad who will assert this. Some, because having
made friends of enlightened English men and women, true and noble,
they see the masses through the veil of affectionate regard they have
for the few. Others, flattered in every fibre of their petty natures
by the notice of those who arrogate superiority of race and training,
affect to despise their own land and kind; would rather be Anglicized
curs beneath the tables of the nobility than independent citizens of a
free and growing country. We know both classes. We met them every day
and everywhere for two years. America can justify herself against such
children as those I have last described.

But I have somewhat to say about the popular estimate in England of
America and Americans, and I foresee that I shall write of other
matters with more comfort when I have eased my spirit by a little plain
speech upon this subject:

“You agree with me, I am sure, in saying, ‘My country, right or
wrong!’” said a dear old English lady, turning to me during a
discussion upon the policy of Great Britain with regard to the
Russian-Turkish war.

“We say—‘My country, always right!’” replied I, smiling. “We are,
as you often tell us, ‘very young’—too young to have committed many
national sins. Perhaps when we are a thousand or fifteen hundred
years nearer the age of European governments, we, too, may have made
dangerous blunders.”

An English gentleman, hearing a portion of this badinage, came up to me.

“You were not in earnest in what you said just now?” he began,
interrogatively. “I honor America. I have studied her history,
and I hail every step of her march to the place I believe GOD has
assigned her—the leadership of the Christian world. She is fresh and
enthusiastic. She is _sound_ to the core. But she does make mistakes.
Let us reason together for a little while. There is the Silver Bill,
for example.”

“I was talking nonsense,” I said, impulsively. “Mere braggadocio, and
in questionable taste. But it _irks_ me that the best and kindest of
you patronize my country, and excuse me! that so many who do it know
next to nothing about us. Mrs. B—— asked me, just now, if it were
‘quite safe to promenade Broadway unarmed—on account of the savages,
you know.’ And when I answered—‘the nearest savages to us are in your
Canadian provinces,’ she said, without a tinge of embarrassment—‘Ah!
I am very, very excessively ignorant about America. In point of fact,
it is a country in which I have no personal interest whatever. I have
a son in India, and one in Australia, but no friends on your side of
the world.’ Yet she is a _lady_, well educated and well-born. She has
traveled much; speaks several languages, and converses intelligently
upon most topics. She is, moreover, too kind to have told me that
my country is uninteresting had she dreamed that I could be hurt or
offended by the remark. Another lady, a disciple of Dr. Cummings, and
his personal friend, asked my countrywoman, Mrs. T——, ‘if she came
from America by steamer or by the overland route?’ and a member of
Parliament told Mr. J——, the other day, that the ‘North should have
let the South go when she tried to separate herself from the Union. The
geographical position of the two countries showed they should never
have been one nation.’ ‘The hand of the Creator,’ he went on to say,
‘had placed a rocky rampart between them.’ ‘A rocky rampart!’ repeated
Mr. J——, his mind running upon Mason’s and Dixon’s line. ‘Yes! The
_Isthmus of Darien_!’

“Americans are accused of over-sensitiveness and boastfulness. Is it
natural that we should submit tamely to patronage and criticism from
those who calmly avow their ‘excessive ignorance’ of all that pertains
to our land and institutions? Can we respect those who assume to
teach when they know less upon many subjects than we do? A celebrated
English divine once persisted in declaring to my husband that Georgia
is a city, not a State. Another informed us that Pennsylvania is the
capital of New England. Even my dear Miss W—— cannot be convinced that
boys of nine years old are considered minors with us. She says she has
been told by those who ought to know that, at that age, they discard
parental authority; while her sister questioned me seriously as to
the truth of the story that the feet of all American babies—boys and
girls—are bandaged in infancy to make them small. Don’t laugh! This is
all true, and I have not told you the tenth. The Silver Bill! I have
never met another Englishman who knew anything about it!”

My friend laughed, in spite of my injunction.

“It is not ‘natural’ for Americans to ‘submit tamely’ to any kind of
injustice, I fancy. But be merciful! Have you read in the ‘Nineteenth
Century’ Dr. Dale’s ‘Impressions of America?’”

“I have. They are like himself, honest, sincere, thorough! But I have
also read Trollope’s ‘American Senator,’ a product of the nineteenth
century that will be read and credited by many who cannot appreciate
Dr. Dale’s scholarship and logic. May I tell you an anecdote—true
in every particular—to offset the Senator’s behavior in the Earl’s
drawing-room? An English novelist, than whom none is better known on
both sides of the water, dined, by invitation, at the house of a _bona
fide_ Senator in Washington. After dinner he approached the hostess in
the drawing-room to take leave.

“‘It is very early yet, Mr.——,’ she said politely.

“‘I know it. But the fact is I _must write ten pounds’ worth_ before I
go to bed!’

“Yet this man is especially happy in clever flings at American society.
We _have_ faults—many and grievous! But we might drop them the sooner
if our monitors were better qualified to instruct us, and would
admonish in kindness, not disdain.”

Because he was an Englishman, and I liked him, I withheld from my
excited harangue many and yet more atrocious absurdities uttered in
my hearing by his compatriots. At this distance and time, and under
the shelter of a _nom de plume_, I may relate an incident I forebore
religiously from giving to my transatlantic acquaintances, albeit
sorely tempted, occasionally, by their unconscious condescension and
simplicity of arrogance—too amusing to be always offensive.

We were taking a cup of “_arf_ternoon tea” with some agreeable English
people, who had invited their rector and his wife to meet us. My seat
was next the wife, a pretty, refined little woman, who graciously
turned the talk into a channel where she fancied I would be at ease.
She began to question me about America. Perceiving her motive, and
being by this time somewhat weary of cruising in one strait, I, as
civilly, fought shy of my native shores, and plied her with queries in
my turn. I asked information, among other things, concerning Yorkshire
and Haworth, stating our intention of visiting the home and church
of the Brontës. The rectoress knew nothing about the topography of
Yorkshire, but had heard of the Brontë novels.

“Wasn’t ‘Jane Eyre’ just a little—_naughty_? I fancy I have heard
something of the kind.”

Our English cousins “farncy” quite as often as we “guess,” or “reckon,”
or “presume,” and sometimes as incorrectly.

I waived the subject of Jane Eyre’s morals by a brief tribute to the
author’s genius, and passed to Mrs. Gaskell’s description of the West
Riding town, Haworth. Our hostess caught the word “Keighley.”

“I was in Keighley last year, at a wedding,” she interpolated. “It is
near Haworth—did you say? And you have friends in Haworth?”

I explained.

“Ah!” politely. “I did not know Charlotte Brontë ever lived there. Her
‘Jane Eyre’ was a good deal talked about when I was a girl. She was
English—did you say?”

Dropping the topic for that of certain local antiquities, I discussed
these with my gentle neighbor until I happened to mention the name of
an early Saxon king.

“The familiarity, of Americans with early English history quite
astonishes me,” she remarked. “I cannot understand why they should be
conversant with what concerns them so remotely.”

I suggested that their history was also ours until within a hundred
years. That their great men in letters, statesmanship and war belonged
to us up to that time as much as to the dwellers upon English soil, the
two countries being under one and the same government.

The blue eyes were slightly hazy with bewilderment.

“A hundred years! I beg your pardon—but I fancied—I was surely under
the impression that America was discovered more than a hundred years
ago?”

“It was!” I hastened to say. “Every American child is taught to say—

    ‘In fourteen hundred, ninety-two,
     Columbus crossed the ocean blue.’

But”—feeling that I touched upon delicate ground,—“we were provinces
until 1776, when we became a separate government.”

I just avoided adding—“and independent.”

The little lady’s eyes cleared before a gleam that was more than the
joy of discovery. It was, in a mild and decorous way, the rapture of
creation. Her speech grew animated.

“1776! And last year was 1876! Pardon me! but perhaps you never
thought—I would say—has it ever occurred to you that possibly that may
have been the reason why your National Exposition was called ‘_The
Centennial_’?”

Magnanimity and politeness are a powerful combination. By their aid, I
said—“Very probably!” and sipped my tea as demurely as an Englishwoman
could have done in the circumstances.

It is both diverting and exasperating to hear Englishmen sneer openly
and coarsely at the attentions bestowed by American gentlemen upon
the ladies under their care. Their dogged assumption—and disdainful
as dogged—that this is an empty show exacted by us cannot be shaken
by the fact of which _they_ certainly are not ignorant,—to wit, that
our countrymen are cowards in naught else. I will cite but one of the
many illustrations that fell under my eye of their different policy
toward the weaker sex. I had climbed the Ventnor Downs one afternoon
by the help of my escort, and stood upon the brow of the highest hill,
when we espied three English people, known to us by sight, approaching.
The short grass was slippery, the direct ascent so steep that the last
of the party, a handsome woman of fifty or thereabouts, was obliged,
several times, to fall upon her hands and knees to keep from slipping
backward. Her son, a robust Oxonian, led the way, cane in hand. Her
hale, bluff husband came next, also grasping a stout staff. At the top
they stopped to remark upon the beauty of the view and evening, thus
giving time to the wife and mother to join them. She was very pale;
the sweat streamed down her face; she caught her breath in convulsive
gasps. Her attendants smiled good-humoredly.

“Pretty well blown—eh?” said her lord.

Her affectionate son—“Quite knocked-up, in fact!”

Yet these were _gentlemen_ in blood and reputation.

I do not defend the ways and means by which the Travelling American
makes his name, and, too often, that of his country a by-word and
a hissing in the course of the European tour, which is, in his
parlance, “just about the thing” for the opulent butcher, baker, and
candlestick-maker, now-a-days. I do affirm that, judging him by the
representative of the class corresponding to his in the Mother Country,
he is no more blatant and objectionable to people of education and
refinement than the Briton who is his fellow-traveller. In aptness
and general intelligence he will assuredly bear off the palm. If the
American of a higher grade be slow to abandon his provincial accent,
and his wife her shrill, “clipping” speech; if what Bayard Taylor
termed “the national catarrh” be obstinate in both,—the Englishman
has his “aws” and “you knows,” and lumbering articulation; calls the
_garçon_ who cannot comprehend his order at the _table d’hôte_ “a
stupid ass,” in the hearing of all, declares the weather to be “nosty,”
the wine “beastly,” and the soup “filthy,” while I have seen his wife
bring her black-nosed pug to dinner with her, and feed him and herself
with blanc mange from the same spoon.

We received much courtesy and many kindnesses from English people in
their own country and upon the continent; formed friendships with some
the memory of which must warm our hearts until they cease to beat.
Their statesmen, their scholars, and their philanthropists have, as
such, no equals in any clime or age. If we wince under censures we feel
are unjust, and under sarcasms that cut the more keenly because edged
with truth:—if, when they tell us we are “young,” we are disposed to
retort that they are old enough to know and to do better, let us, in
solemn remembrance of our kinship in blood and in faith, borrow, in
thought, my friend’s advice, and “be merciful.”



CHAPTER XI.

_Over the Channel._


I LAUGHED once on the route from Dover to Calais. The fact deserves to
be jotted down as an “Incident of Travel.” For the boat was crowded,
the wind brisk, and we had a “chopping sea” in the Channel. Words of
woe upon which we need not expatiate to those who have lost sight of
Shakspeare’s Cliff in like circumstances. The voyage was filled with
disgust as Longfellow’s Night with music, and with untold misery to all
of our party excepting Caput, to whom smooth and turbulent seas are as
one. If he has a preference, it is for the latter. He led off in the
laugh that extended even to the wretched creature I had known in calmer
hours, as Myself.

An elderly lord was on board. A very loud lord as to voice. A mighty
lord in rank and honors, if one might judge from the attentions of
deck-stewards and some of the initiated passengers. A very big lord as
to size. A very rich lord, if the evidence of furred mantles, and a
staff of obsequious servants be admitted. A very pompous lord, whose
stiffened cravat, beef-steak complexion and goggle-eyes reminded us of
“Joey Bagstock, Tough Jo, J. B., sir!”

If, having sunk to the depths of suffering and degradation, we could
have slid into a lower deep, it would have been by reason of that man’s
struttings and vaporings and bullyings in our sight. He tramped the
deck over and upon the feet of those who were too sick, or too much
crowded to get out of his path,—courier and valet at his heels, one
bearing a furled umbrella and a mackintosh in case it should rain, the
other a second furred surtout should “my lord” grow chilly.

“Ill, sir! what do you mean, sir! I am never ill at sea!” he
vociferated to the captain, who ventured a query and the offer of his
own cabin should his lordship require the refuge.

“Pinafore” had not then been written, and the assertion went
unchallenged.

“I have travelled thousands of miles by water, sir, and never known so
much as a qualm of sea-sickness—not a qualm, sir! Do you take me for a
woman, sir, or a fool?”

In his choler he was more like Bagstock than ever, as he continued his
promenade, gurgling and puffing, goggling and wagging his head like an
apoplectic china mandarin.

We were in mid-channel where there was a rush of master, servants,
and officious deck-hands to the guards, that made the saddest
sufferers raise their eyes. In a few minutes, the parting of the
group of attendants showed the elderly lord, upon his feet, indeed,
but staggering so wildly that the courier and a footman held him up
between them while the valet settled his wig and replaced his hat. His
complexion was ashes-of-violets, if there be such a tint,—his eyes were
as devoid of speculation as those of a boiled fish. The steward picked
up his gold-headed cane, but the flabby hands could not grasp it. The
captain hastened forward.

“Very sorry, me lud, I’m sure, for the little accident. But it’s a
nosty sea, this trip, me lud, as your ludship sees. An uncommon beastly
sea! I hope your ludship is not suffering much?”

The British lion awoke in the great man’s bosom. The crimson of rage
burned away the ashes. The eyes glared at the luckless official.

“Suffering, sir! Do you suppose I care for suffering? It is the _dommed
mortification_ of the thing!”

Then, as I have said, Caput laughed, and the sickest objects on board
joined in feeble chorus.

Prima lifted her head from her father’s shoulder. “I am glad I came!”
she said, faintly.

So was I—almost—for the scene lacked no element of grotesqueness nor of
poetical retribution.

The long room in the Paris station (_gare_), where newly-arrived
travellers await the examination of their luggage, is comfortless,
winter and summer. It was never drearier than on one March morning,
when, after a night-journey of fifteen hours, we stood, for the want
of seats, upon the stone floor, swept by drifts of mist from the
open doors, until our chattering teeth made very broken French of
our petition to the officers to clear our trunks at their earliest
convenience, and let us go somewhere to fire and breakfast. The
inspection was the merest form, as we found it everywhere. Perhaps
we looked honest (or poor), or our cheerful alacrity in surrendering
our keys and entreating prompt attendance, may have had some share in
purchasing immunity from the annoyances of search and confiscation
complained of by many. One trunk was unlocked; the tray lifted and put
back, without the disturbance of a single article; all the luggage
received the mystic chalking that pronounced it innocuous to the
French Republic; we entered a carriage and gave the order: “61 Avenue
Friedland!”

Caput, to whom every quarter of the city and every incident of the
Commune Reign of Terror were familiar, pointed out streets and squares,
as we rode along, that gained a terrible notoriety through the
events of that bloody and fiery era. I recollect leaning forward to
look at one street—not a wide one—in which ten thousand dead had lain
at one time behind the barricades. For the rest, I was ungratefully
inattentive. Paris, in the gray of early morning, looked sleepy,
respectable, and dismal. The mist soaked us to the bone; the drive was
long; we had void stomachs and aching heads. Some day we might listen
to and believe in the tale of her revolutions, her horrors and her
glories. Now this was a physical, and therefore, a mental impossibility.

“At last!”

Almost in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, looming gigantic through
the fog, the carriage stopped at a handsome house. A porter came out
for our luggage, the concierge gave us into the care of a waiter.

“But yes, monsieur, the rooms were ready. Perfectly. And the fires.
Perfectly—perfectly! Monsieur would find all as had been ordered.”

Up we went, two flights of polished stairs,—where never an atom of
dust was allowed to settle—along one hall, across an ante-chamber, and
the waiter threw back a door. A large chamber stood revealed, made
lightsome by two windows; heartsome by a glowing fire of sea-coal. And
set in front of the grate was a round table draped whitely, and bearing
that ever-blessed sight to a fagged-out woman—a tea equipage. By the
time I, as the family invalid, was divested of bonnet and mufflers, and
laid in state upon the sofa at one side of the hearth, a tap at the
door heralded the entrance of a smiling English housekeeper in a black
dress and muslin cap with flowing lappets. She carried a tray; upon it
were hissing tea-urn, bread and butter, and light biscuits.

“Miss Campbell hopes the ladies are not very much fatigued after their
long journey, and that they will find themselves quite comfortable
here.”

How comfortable we were then, and during all the weeks of our stay in
Hôtel Campbell; how we learned to know and esteem, as she deserved,
the true gentlewoman who presides with gracious dignity at her table,
and makes of her house a genuine home for guests from foreign lands,
I can only state here in brief. Neither heart nor conscience will let
me pass over in silence the debt of gratitude and personal regard we
owe her. I shall be only too happy should these lines be the means of
directing other travelers to a house that combines, in a remarkable
degree, elegance and comfort in a city whose hotels, boarding-houses,
and “appartements” seldom possess both.

The March weather of Paris is execrable. Some portion of our
disappointment at this may have been due to popular fictions respecting
sunny France, and a city so fair that the nations come bending with awe
and delight before her magnificence; where good Americans—of the upper
tendom—wish to go when they die; the home of summer, butterflies, and
WORTH! To one who has heard, and, in a measure, credited all this, the
fog that hides from him the grand houses across the particular Rue or
Avenue in which he lodges, are more penetrating, the winds more bitter,
the flint-dust they hurl into his eyes is sharper, the rain, sleet, and
snow-flurries that pelt him to shelter more disagreeable—than London
fog or Berlin gloom and dampness. There were whole days during which
I sat, perforce, by my fire, or, if I ventured to the window to enjoy
the prospect of sheets of rain, dropping a wavering curtain between
me and the Rothschild mansion opposite, I must wrap my shawl about my
shoulders, so “nipping and eager” was the air forcing its way between
the joints of the casements.

But there were other days in which out-door existence was tolerable
in a _fiacre_, jealously closed against the whirling dust. Where it
all came from we could not tell. The streets of Paris are a miracle of
cleanliness. Twice a day they are swept and washed, and the gutters run
continually with clear, living water.

The wind was keen, the dust pervasive, the sky a bright, hard blue when
we went, for the first time, to the tomb of Napoleon in the Hôtel des
Invalides. The blasts held revel in the courtyard we traversed in order
to gain the entrance. The sentinels at the gate halted in the lee of
the lodges before turning in their rounds to face the dust-laden gusts.
Once within the church a great peace fell upon us—sunshine and silence.
It was high noon, and the light flowed through the cupola crowning the
dome directly into the great circular crypt in the centre of the floor,
filling—overflowing it with glory. We leaned upon the railing and
looked down. Twenty feet below was the sarcophagus. It is a monolith
of porphyry, twelve feet in length, six in breadth, with a projecting
base of green granite. Around it, wrought into the tesselated marble
pavement, is a mosaic wreath of laurel—glossy green. Between this and
the sarcophagus one reads—“_Austerlitz_, _Marengo_, _Jena_, _Rivoli_,”
and a long list of other battle-fields, also in brilliant mosaic.
Without this circle, upon the balustrade fencing in the tomb, are
twelve statues, representatives of as many victories. A cluster of
fresh flowers lay upon the sarcophagus. And upon all, the sunshine,
that seemed to strike into the polished red marble and bring out the
reflection of hidden flame. It was a strange optical illusion, so
powerful one had to struggle to banish the idea that the porphyry was
translucent and the glow reddening the sides of the crypt such gleams
as one sees in the heart of an opal—“the pearl with a soul in it.” It
was easier to give the rein to fancy and think of a Rosicrucian lamp
burning above the stilled heart of the entombed Emperor. The quiet of
the magnificent burial-place is benignant, not oppressive. In noting
the absence of the sentimental fripperies with which the French delight
to adorn the tombs of the loved and illustrious dead we could not but
hope that the grandeur of the subject wrought within the architect this
pure and sublime conception of more than imperial state.

We followed the winding staircase from the right of the high
altar,—above which flashes a wonderful golden crucifix—to the door
of the crypt. Bertrand on one side, Duroc on the other, guard their
sleeping master. “The bivouac of the dead!” The trite words are
pregnant with dignity and with power when quoted upon that threshold.
Over the doorway is a sentence in French, from Napoleon’s will:

“I desire that my ashes may repose on the banks of the Seine, in the
midst of the French people, whom I have so much loved.”[A]

The Communists tore down the bronze column in the Place Vendôme. The
bas-reliefs, winding from bottom to top, were cast from cannon captured
by Napoleon, and his statue surmounted the shaft. They battered the
Tuileries, where he had lived, to a yawning ruin, and outraged the
artistic sensibilities of the world by setting fire to the Louvre. But,
neither paving-stone, nor bomb, nor torch, was flung into the awful
circle where rests the hero, with his faithful generals at his feet.

Jerome Bonaparte, his brother’s inferior and puppet, is buried in a
chapel at the left of the entrance of the Dôme. A bronze statue of him
rests upon his sarcophagus. His eldest son—by his second marriage—is
near him. A smaller tomb holds the heart of Jerome’s Queen. Joseph
Bonaparte is interred in a chapel opposite, the great door being
between the brothers.

We took the Place de la Concorde in our ride uptown. We did this
whenever we could without making too long a _détour_. The Luxor
obelisk, three thousand years old, is in the middle of the Square. A
beautiful fountain plays upon each side of this, and the winds, having
free course in the unsheltered Place, flung the waters madly about.
Twelve hundred people were trampled to death here once. A discharge
of fireworks in celebration of the marriage of Louis XVI. and Marie
Antoinette caused a panic and a stampede among the horses attached to
the vehicles blocking up the great square. They dashed into the dense
mass of the populace, and in half-an-hour the disaster was complete.
Sixteen years later there was another panic,—another rush of maddened
brutes, that lasted eighteen months. Twenty-eight hundred souls were
driven to bliss or woe in the hurly-burly—the devil’s dance of the
eighteenth century. The bride and groom, whose nuptial festivities
had caused the minor catastrophe, duly answered to their names at the
calling of the death-roll. The most precious blood of the kingdom was
flung to right and left as ruthlessly as the March winds now tore the
spray of the fountains.

Nobody knows, they say, exactly where the guillotine stood;—only that
it was near the obelisk and the bronze basins, where Tritons and
nymphs bathe all day long. We were in the Place one evening when an
angry sunset tinged the waters to a fearful red. Passers-by stopped to
look at the phenomenon, until quite a crowd collected. A very quiet
crowd for Parisians, but eyes sought other eyes meaningly, some in
superstitious dread. While we reviewed, mentally, the list of the
condemned brought hither in those two years, it would not have seemed
strange had the dolphins vomited human blood into the vast pools.

“Monsieur will see the Colonne de Juillet?” said our coachman, who, as
we gazed at the fountains on this day, had exchanged some words with
a compatriot. “There has been an accident to” (or _at_) “the Colonne.
Monsieur and mesdames will find it interesting, without doubt.” The
wind was too sharp for bandying words. We jumped at the conclusion that
the colossal Statue of Liberty, poised gingerly upon the gilt globe on
the summit of the monument, had been blown down; bade him drive to the
spot, and closed the window.

The Colonne de Juillet stands in the Place de la Bastille. No need
to tell the story of the prison-fastness. The useless key hangs in
the peaceful halls of Mount Vernon. The leveled stones are built into
the Bridge de la Concorde. These “French” titles of squares, bridges,
and streets, are sometimes apt, oftener fantastic, not infrequently
horribly incongruous. The good Archbishop of Paris was shot upon the
site of the old Bastille, in the revolution of 1848, pleading with both
parties for the cessation of the fratricidal strife, and dying, like
his Lord, with a prayer for his murderers upon his lips. Under the
Column of July lie buried the victims of still another revolution—that
of 1830,—with some who fell at the neighboring barricade, in 1848. One
must carry a pocket record of wars and tumults, if he would keep the
run of Parisian _émeutes_.

Our _cocher’s_ information was correct. A throng gathered about the
railed-in base of the column. But Liberty still tip-toed upon the
gilded world, and the bronze shaft was intact.

“If Monsieur would like to get out”—said the driver at the door—“he
can learn all about the accident. _Le pauvre diable_ leaped—it is now
less than an hour since.”

“Leaped!” Then the interesting accident was described. A man had jumped
down from the top of the monument. They often did it.

We ought to have been shocked. But the absurdity of the
misunderstanding, the man’s dramatic enjoyment of the situation, and
his manner of communicating the news, rather tempted us to amusement.

“Was he killed?”

“Ah! without doubt, Madame! The colonne has one hundred and fifty-two
feet of height. Perfectly killed, Monsieur!”

Impelled by a wicked spirit of perversity, or a more complex caprice, I
offered another query:

“What do you suppose he thought of while falling?”

The fellow scanned my impassive face.

“Ah, Madame! of nothing! One never thinks at such a moment. _Ma foi!_
why should he? He will be out of being—_rien_—in ten seconds. He has no
more use for thought. Why think?”

We declined to inspect the stone on which the suicide’s head had
struck. Indeed, assented our _cocher_, where was the use? The body
had been removed immediately, and the pavement washed. The police
would look to that. Monsieur would see only a wet spot. The wind would
soon dry it. Ah! they were skilful (_habile_) in such accident at the
monument. If a man were weary of life, there was no better place for
him—and no noise made about it afterward.

“Somehow,” said Prima, presently, “I cannot feel that a Frenchman’s
soul is as valuable as ours. They make so light of life and death, and
as for Eternity, they resolve it into, as that man said—‘nothing.’”

“‘He giveth to all life and breath and all things, and hath made of one
blood all nations of men,’” I quoted, gravely.

I would not admit, unless to myself, that the coachman’s talk of
the wet spot upon the pavement and the significant gesture of
blowing away a gas, or scent, that had accompanied his “Nothing,”
brought to my imagination the figure of a broken phial of spirits of
hartshorn—pungent, volatile—_rien_!

On another windy morning we made one of our favorite “Variety
Excursions.” We had spent the previous day at the Louvre, and eyes and
minds needed rest. I have seen people who could visit this mine of
richest art for seven and eight consecutive days, without suffering
from exhaustion or plethora. Three hours at a time insured for me a
sleepless night, or dreams thronged with travesties of the beauty in
which I had reveled in my waking hours. Instead then, of entering the
Louvre on the second day, we checked the carriage on the opposite side
of the street before the church of St. Germain l’Auxerrois.

Dionysius the Areopagite, converted by Paul’s sermon on Mars’ Hill,
went on a mission to Paris, suffered death for his faith upon
Montmartre—probably a corruption of _Mons Martyrum_,—and was interred
upon the site of St. Germain l’Auxerrois. His tomb and chapel are
there, in support of the legend. Another chapel is dedicated to “Notre
Dame de la Compassion.” The name reads like a sorrowful satire. For
we had not come thither out of respect for St Dionysius—alias St.
Denis—nor to gaze upon frescoes and paintings—all fine of their
kind,—nor to talk of the battle between Bourbons and populace in 1831,
when upon the eleventh anniversary of the Duc de Berry’s assassination,
as a memorial mass was in progress, the church was stormed by a
mob—that _canaille_-deep that was ever boiling like a pot—the priests
violently ejected, the friends of the deceased Duc forced to fly for
their lives, and the old church itself closed against priests and
worshippers for seven years. It was the royal parish church, for a
long time. Catherine de Medicis must have attended it, being a good
daughter of the Church. Hence there was especial propriety in her order
that from the belfry of this sanctuary should be given the signal for
the massacre of her dear son’s heretic subjects on St. Bartholomew’s
Night, 1572. From a window in his palace of the Louvre, Charles fired
as fast as his guards could load carbines, upon the flying crowds in
the streets. In obedience to tradition, a certain window was, up to the
beginning of this century, designated as that in which he was stationed
on that occasion, and an inscription to this effect was engraved
beneath it:

“_C’est de cette fenêtre que l’infâme Charles 9 d’exécrable mémoire a
tiré sur le peuple avec une carabine._”

“Upon the people!” It was not safe even in 1796 to write that the
murdered were Huguenots and that they perished for that cause and none
other. The cautious inscription was removed upon the belated discovery
that the part of the palace containing this window was not built
until the execrable Charles was in his grave. The balcony from which
he “drew” upon all who did not wear the white badge of Romanism, was
in the front of the palace where the deep boom of the bell must have
jarred him to his feet, pealing from midnight to dawn. The government
suffered no other knell to sound for the untimely taking-off of nearly
one hundred thousand of the best citizens of France.

A modern steeple lifts a stately spire between the church-porch and
the adjoining Mayor’s Court. The little old belfry is thrown into
background and shadow, as if it sought to slink out of sight and
history. We paused beneath it, within the church upon the very spot
pressed by the ringer’s feet that awful night. The sacristan stared
when we asked what had become of the bell, and why it had not been
preserved as a historical relic.

“There is a _carillon_ (chime) in the new steeple. Fine bells, large
and musical. Unfortunately, they do not at present play.”

The ceiling of the church is disproportionately low; the windows,
splendid with painted glass, light the interior inadequately, even in
fine weather. As we paced the aisles the settling of the clouds without
was marked by denser shades in the chapels and chancel, blotting out
figures and colors in frescoes and paintings, and making ghostly the
trio of sculptured angels about the cross rising above the holy-water
basin—or _bénitier_. Fountains of holy-water at each corner of the
Place would not be amiss.

The Parisian Panthéon has had a hard struggle for a name. First, it
was the Church of Ste. Géneviève, the patron saint of Paris, erected
soon after her martyrdom, A.D. 500. The present building, finished in
1790, bore the same title until in 1791, the Convention, in abolishing
Religion at large, called it “the Panthéon” and dedicated it to “the
great men of a grateful country.” This dedication, erased thirty years
afterward, was in 1830, again set upon the façade, and remains there,
_malgré_ the decree of Church and State, giving back to it the original
name.

Under the impression that Ste. Géneviève was buried in the chapel named
for her and the church decorated with scenes from her life, I accosted
a gentlemanly priest and asked permission on behalf of a namesake of
the girl-saint to lay a rosary entrusted to me, upon her tomb. He
heard me kindly, took the chaplet and proceeded to inform me that Ste.
Géneviève was burned (_brûlée_), but that “we have here in her shrine,
her hand, miraculously preserved, and her ashes.”

“That must do, I suppose,” said I, as deputy for American Géneviève.
The chaplet was laid within the shrine, blessed, crossed and returned
to me. I had no misgivings until our third visit to Paris, when, going
into St. Étienne du Mont, situated also in the Place du Panthéon, I
discovered that Ste. Géneviève had not been burned; had been buried,
primarily, in the Panthéon, then removed to St. Étienne du Mont, and
had now rested for a thousand years or so, in a tomb grated over to
preserve it from being destroyed by the kisses and touches of the
faithful. I bought another rosary; the priest undid a little door
on the top of the grating, passed the beads through and rubbed them
upon the sacred sarcophagus. Novices are liable to such errors and
consequent discomfiture.

The Panthéon, imposing in architecture and gorgeous in adornment,
assumed to us, through a series of disappointments, the character of
a vast receiving-vault. The crypt is massive and spacious, supported
by enormous pillars of masonry, and remarkable for a tremendous echo,
whereby the clapping of the guide’s hands is magnified and multiplied
into a prolonged and deafening cannonade, rolling and bursting through
the dark vaults, as if all the sons of thunder once interred (but not
staying) here were comparing experiences above their vacated tombs, and
suiting actions to words in fighting their battles over again.

Mirabeau’s remains were taken from this crypt for re-interment in Père
Lachaise. Marat—the Abimelech of the Jacobin fraternity—was torn from
his tomb, tied up in a sack like offal, and thrown into a sewer. There
is here a _wooden_ sarcophagus, cheap and pretentious, inscribed with
the name of Rousseau and the epitaph—“Here rests the man of Nature and
of Truth.” The door is ajar—a hand and wrist thrust forth, upbear a
flaming torch—an audacious conception, that startled us when we came
unexpectedly upon it.

“A sputtering flambeau in this day and generation,” said Caput.

The guide, not understanding one English word, hastened to inform us
that the tomb was empty.

“Where, then, is the body?”

A shrug. “Ah! monsieur, who knows?”

Another wooden structure, with a statue on top, is dedicated, “_Aux
manes de Voltaire_.”

“Poet, historian, philosopher, he exalted the man of intellect and
taught him that he should be free. He defended Calas, Sirven, De la
Barre, and Montbailly; combated atheists and fanatics; he inspired
toleration; he reclaimed the rights of man from servitude and
feudalism.” Thus runs the epitaph.

“Empty, also!” said the guide, tapping the sarcophagus. “The body was
removed by stealth and buried—who can say where?”

“Was _anybody_ left here?”

“But yes, certainly, monsieur!” and we were showed the tombs—as yet
unrifled—of Marshal Lannes, Lagrange, the mathematician, and Soufflot,
the architect of the Panthéon; likewise, the vaults in which the
Communists stored gunpowder for the purpose of blowing up the edifice.
It was a military stronghold in 1848, and again in 1871, and but for
the opportune dislodgment of the insurgents at the latter date the
splendid pile would have followed the example of the noted dead who
slumbered, for a time, beneath her dome—then departed—“who can tell
where?”

The Hôtel and Museum de Cluny engaged our time for the rest of the
forenoon. A visit to it is a “Variety Excursion” in itself. The
hall, fifty feet high, and more than sixty in length, and paved
with stone—headless trunks, unlidded sarcophagi, like dry and mouldy
bath-tubs; broken marbles carved with pagan devices, and heaps of
nameless _débris_ lying about in what is, to the unlearned, meaningless
disorder—was the _frigidarium_, or cold-water baths, belonging to the
palace of the Roman Emperor Constantius Chlorus, built between A.D. 290
and 306. It was bleak with the piercing chilliness the rambler in Roman
ruins and churches never forgets—which has its acme in the more than
deathly cold of that ancient and stupendous refrigerator, St. John of
Lateran, and never departs in the hottest noon-tide of burning summer
from the frigidaria of Diocletian and Caracalla. But we lingered,
shivering, to hear that the Apostate Julian was here proclaimed Emperor
by his soldiers in 360, and to see his statue, gray and grim, near an
altar of Jupiter, found under the church of Nôtre Dame. Wherever Rome
set her foot in her day of power, she stamped hard. Centuries, nor
French revolutions can sweep away the traces.

In less than three minutes the guide was pointing out part of Molière’s
jaw-bone affixed to a corridor-wall in the Musée. This, directly
adjoining the Roman palace, was a “branch establishment” of the
celebrated Abbey of Cluny, in Burgundy; next, a royal palace, first
occupied by the English widow of Louis XII., sister of Bluff King
Hal. “_La chambre de la Reine Blanche_,” so called because the queens
of France wore white for mourning—is now the receptacle of a great
collection of musical instruments, numbered and dated. James V. of
Scotland married Madeleine, daughter of Francis I., in this place.
After the first Revolution, when kings’ houses were as if they had not
been, Cluny became state property, and was bought by an archæologist,
who converted it into a museum. There are now upward of nine thousand
articles on the catalogue. The reader will thankfully excuse me
from attempting a summary, but heed the remark that the collection
is valuable and varied, and better worth visit and study than any
other assortment of relics and ancient works of art we saw in France.
The fascination it exerted upon us and others is doubtless, in part,
referable to the character of the building in which the collection
is stored. Palissy faïence, ivory carvings, rich with the slow,
mellow dyes of centuries; enamels in copper, executed for Francis I.;
Venetian glasses; old weapons; quaint and ornate tilings; tapestries,
more costly than if woof and broidery were pure gold—are tenfold
more ravishing when seen in the light from mullioned windows of the
fifteenth century, and set in recesses whose carvings vie in beauty and
antiquity with the objects enclosed by their walls. Gardens, deep with
shade, mossy statues and broken fountains dimly visible in the alleys,
great trees tangled and woven into a thick roof over walks and green
sward—all curiously quiet in the heart of the restless city, seclude
Thermæ and Hôtel in hushed and dusky grandeur.

The Rue St. Jacques, skirting the garden-wall on one side, was an old
Roman road. By it we were transported, without too violent transition
from the Past, into the Paris of To-Day.

FOOTNOTE:

[A] “_Je désire que mes cendres reposent sur les bords de la Seine, au
milieu de ce peuple François que j’ai tant aimé._”



CHAPTER XII.

_Versailles—Expiatory Chapel—Père Lachaise._


THE guide-books say that the visitor to the palace of Versailles is
admitted, should he desire it, to five different court-yards. We cared
for but one—the _cour d’honneur_ whose gates are crowned with groups
emblematical of the victories of _le grand Monarque_.

It is an immense quadrangle, paved with rough stones, and flanked
on three sides by the palace and wings. The central château, facing
the entrance, was built by Louis XIII., the wings by Louis XIV. The
prevailing color is a dull brick-red; the roofs are of different
heights and styles; the effect of the whole far less grand, or even
dignified, than we had anticipated. The pavilions to the right and
left are lettered, “_À toutes les gloires de la France_.” Gigantic
statues, beginning, on the right hand, with Bayard, “_sans peur et sans
reproche_,” guard both sides of the court. In the centre is a colossal
equestrian statue in bronze of Louis XIV., the be-wigged, be-curled,
and be-laced darling of himself and a succession of venal courtezans.
At the base of this statue we held converse, long and low, of certain
things this quadrangle had witnessed when, through it, lay the way
to the most luxurious and profligate court that has cursed earth and
insulted Heaven since similar follies and crimes wrought the downfall
of the Roman Empire. Of the throngs of base parasites that flocked
thither in the days when Pompadour and Du Barry held insolent misrule
over a weaker, yet more vicious sovereign than Louis XIV. Of the
payment exacted for generations of such amazing excesses, when Parisian
garrets and slums sent howling creditors by the thousand to settle
accounts with Louis XVI. Vast as is the space shut in by palace-walls
and folding gates, they filled it with ragged, bare-legged, red-capped
demons. Upon the balcony up there, the king, also wearing the red cap,
appeared at his good children’s call. Anything for peace and life! Upon
the same balcony stood, the same day, his braver wife, between her
babes, true royalty sustaining her to endure, without quailing, the
volleys of contumely hurled at “the Austrian woman.” Having secured
king, queen, and children as hostages for the payment of the national
debt of vengeance, the complainants sacked the palace, made an end
of its glory as a kingly residence, until Louis Philippe repaired
ravages to the extent of his ability, and converted such of the state
apartments as he adjudged unnecessary for court uses into an historical
picture-gallery.

The history of the French nation—of its monarchs, generals, marshals,
victories, coronations, and hundreds of lesser events—is there written
upon canvas. Eyes and feet give out and the brain wearies before it
is half read. The polished floors, inlaid with different-colored
woods, smooth as glass, are torture to the burning soles; the aching
in the back of the neck becomes agony. Yet one cannot leave the work
unfinished, where every step is a surprise and each glance discovers
fresh objects of interest.

“If only we had the moral courage not to look at the painted ceilings!”
said Dux, meditatively; “or if it were _en règle_ for a fellow to lie
upon his back in order to inspect them!”

We were in the Gallery of Mirrors, two hundred and forty feet long;
seventeen windows looking down upon gardens and park, upon fountains,
groves, and lakelets; seventeen mirrors opposite these repeating the
scenes framed by the casements.

“The ceiling by Lebrun represents scenes in the life of the Grand
Monarch,” uttered the guide.

Hence the plaint, echoed groaningly by us all.

The chamber in which Louis XIV. died is furnished very much as it was
when he lay breathing more and more faintly, hour after hour, within
the big bed lifted by the dais from the floor, that, sleeping or dying,
he might lie above the common walks of men. Communicating with the
king’s bed-room is the celebrated Salle de l’œil de Bœuf, the ox-eyed
window at one side giving the name. The courtiers awaited there each
day the announcement that the king was awake and visible, beguiling
the tedium of their long attendance by sharp trades in love, court,
and state honors. It is a shabby-genteel little room, the hardness,
glass and glare that distinguish palatial parlors from those in which
sensible, comfort-loving people live, rubbed and tarnished by time
and disuse. Filled with a moving throng in gala-apparel, this and
the expanse of the royal bed-chamber may have been goodly to behold;
untenanted, they are stiff and desolate.

The central balcony, opening from the great chamber—the balcony
on which, forty-four years later, Marie Antoinette stood with her
children—was, upon the death-night of the king, occupied by impatient
officials—impatient, but no longer anxious, for the decease of their
lord was certain and not far off. The hangings of the bed, cumbrous
with gold embroidery, had been twisted back to give air to the expiring
man. As the last sigh fluttered from his lips, the high chamberlain
upon the balcony broke his white wand of office, shouting to the crowds
in the court-yard, “_Le roi est mort!_” and, without taking breath,
“_Vive le roi!_”

No incident in French history is more widely known. In talking of it
in the bed-chamber and balcony, it was as if we heard it for the first
time.

The “little apartments of the queen” were refreshment to our jaded
senses and nerves. They are a succession of cozy nooks in a retired
wing. Boudoirs, where were the soft lounges and low chairs, excluded
by etiquette from the courtly _salons_; closets, fitted up with
writing-desk, chair, and footstool; others, lined on all sides with
books; still others, where the queen, whether it were Maria Lesczinski
or Marie Antoinette, might sit, with a favorite maid of honor or two,
at her embroidery. Through these apartments, all the “home” she had had
in the palace, a terrified woman fled to gain a secret door of escape,
while the marauders, the delegation from Paris, were yelling and raging
for her blood in the corridors and state apartments.

If this row of snug resting and working rooms were the “Innermost”
of her domestic life, the Petit Trianon was her play-ground. It is
a pretty villa, not more than half as large as the Grand Trianon
built for Madame de Maintenon by Louis XIV. Napoleon I. had a suite
of small apartments in the Petit Trianon—study, salon, bath and
dressing-rooms, and bed-chamber. They are furnished as he left them,
even to the hard bed and round, uncompromising pillows. All are hung
and upholstered with yellow satin brocade; the floors are polished
and waxed, uncarpeted, save for a rug laid here and there. A door
in the arras communicates with the Empress’ apartments. The villa
was built by Louis XV. for the Du Barry, but interests us chiefly
because of Marie Antoinette’s love for it. Her spinnet is in the
salon where she received only personal and intimate friends. It is a
common-looking affair, the case of inlaid woods ornamented with brass
handles and corners. The keys are discolored—some of them silent; the
others yielded discordant tinklings as we touched them with reverent
fingers. Her work-table is in another room. Her bed is spread with an
embroidered satin coverlet, once white. Her monogram and a crown were
worked near the bottom. The stitches were cut out by revolutionary
scissors, but their imprint remains, enabling one to trace clearly
the design. In this room hang her portrait and that of her son, the
lost Dauphin, a lovely little fellow, with large, dark-blue eyes like
his mother’s, and chestnut hair, falling upon a wide lace collar. His
coat is blue; a strap of livelier blue crosses his chest to meet a
sword-belt; a star shines upon his left breast, and he carries a rapier
jauntily under his arm. His countenance is sweet and ingenuous, but
there is a shading of pensiveness or thought in the expression which
is unchildlike. It was easy and pleasant to picture him running up and
down the marble stairs, and filling the now uninhabited rooms with
boyish talk and mirth. It was yet easier to reproduce in imagination
the figures of mother and children in the avenues leading to the Swiss
village, her favorite and latest toy.

This is quite out of sight of palace and villas. The intervening
park was verdant and bright as with June suns, although the season
was November, and the sere leaves were falling about us. A miniature
lake and the islet in the middle, a circular marble temple upon the
island, giving cover to a nude nymph or goddess, were there, when
the light steps of royal mother and children skimmed along the path,
she, in her shepherdess hat, laughing and jesting with attendants in
sylvan dress. The day was very still with the placid melancholy that
consists in our country with Indian summer. The smell of withering
leaves hung in the air, spiciest in the sunny reaches of the winding
road, almost too powerful in shaded glens, heaped with yellow and
brown masses. We met but two people in our walk—an old peasant bent
low under a bundle of faggots, and an older woman in a red cloak, who
may have been a gypsy. The woods are well kept, the brushwood cut
out, and the trees, the finest in the vicinity of Paris, carefully
pruned of decaying boughs. We saw the village between their boles long
before reaching the outermost building—a mill, with peakéd gables and
antique chimneys, the hoary stones overgrown with ivy. We mounted the
flight of steps leading, on the outside, to the second story; shook
the door, in the hope that it might, through inadvertence, have been
left unlocked. Hollow echoes from empty rooms answered. Bending over
the balustrade, we looked down at the little water-wheel, warped by
dryness; at the channel that once led supplies to it from the lake hard
by. A close body of woods formed the background of the deserted house.
In the water of the lake were reflected the gray and moss-green stones;
barred windows; the clinging cloak of ivy; our own forms—the only
moving objects in the picture. Louis XVI., amateur locksmith for his
own pleasure, played miller here to gratify his wife’s whim, grinding
tiny sacks of real corn, and taking pains to become more floury in an
hour than a genuine miller would have made himself in six weeks, in
order to give vraisemblance to the play enacted by the queen and her
coterie. Around the bend of the pond lay the larger cottages which
served as kitchen, dining, and ball-rooms. All are built of stone, with
benches at the doors where peasants might rest at noon or evening; all
are clothed with ivy; all closed and locked. We skirted the lake to
get to the _laiterie_, or dairy. It is a one-storied cottage, with
windows in the tiled roof. Long French casements and glazed doors
allowed us to get a tolerable view of the interior. The floor, and the
ledges running around the room, are marble or smooth stone. Within this
building court-gallants churned the milk of the Swiss cows that grazed
in the lakeside glades; maids of honor made curds and whey for the
noonday dinner, and the leader of the frolic moulded rolls of butter
with her beautiful hands, attired like a dairy-maid, and training her
facile tongue to speak peasant patois. The industrious ivy climbs to
the low-hanging eaves, and, drooping in long sprays that did not sway
in the sleeping air, touched the busts of king and queen set upon tall
pedestals, the one between the two windows in the side of the house,
the other between the glass doors of the front gable. An observatory
tower, with railed galleries encircling the first and third stories, is
close to the _laiterie_.

Many sovereigns in France and elsewhere have had expensive playthings.
Few have cost the possessors more dearly than did this Swiss hamlet.

Innocent as the pastimes of miller and dairymaid appear to us, the
serious student of those times sees plainly that the comedy of happy
lowly life was a burning, cankering insult to the apprehension of the
starving people to whom the reality of peace and plenty in humble
homes, was a tradition antedating the reign of the Great Louis. While
their children died of famine, and men prayed vainly for work, the
profligate court, to maintain whose pomp the poor man’s earnings were
taxed, demeaned their queen and themselves in such senseless mummeries
as beguiled Time of weight in the pleasure-grounds of the Petit Trianon.

The Place de la Concorde, from which Marie Antoinette waved farewell
to the Tuileries—dearer to her in death than it had been in life—is
the connecting link between the toy-village in the Versailles Park
and the Expiatory Chapel, in what was formerly the Cemetery of the
Madeleine in Paris. Leaving the bustling street, one enters through a
lodge, a garden, cheerful in November, with roses and pansies. A broad
walk connects the lodge and the tomb-like façade of the chapel. On
the right and left of paved way and turf-borders are buried the Swiss
Guard, over whose dead bodies the insurgents rushed to seize the queen
in the Tuileries, when compromise and the mockery of royalty were at
an end. The chapel is small, but handsome. On the right, half-way up
its length, is a marble group, life-size, of the kneeling king, looking
heavenward from the scaffold, in obedience to the gesture of an angel
who addresses him in the last words of his confessor—“Son of St. Louis,
ascend to Heaven!”

Opposite is an exquisite portrait-statue of the queen, her sinking
figure supported by Religion. Anguish and resignation are blended in
the beautiful face. Her regards, like those of the king, are directed
upward. The features of Religion are Madame Elizabeth’s, the faithful
sister of Louis, who perished by the guillotine May 12, 1794. Both
groups are admirably wrought, and seen in the dim light of the stained
windows, impressively life-like.

In the sub-chapel, gained by a winding stair, is an altar of black
marble in a recess, marking the spot where the unfortunate pair were
interred after their execution. The Madeleine was then unfinished,
and in the orchard back of it the dishonored corpse of Louis, and,
later, of his widow, were thrust into the ground with no show of
respect or decency. The coffins were of plain boards; the severed
heads were placed between the feet; quicklime was thrown in to hasten
decomposition; the grave or pit was ten feet deep, and the soil
carefully leveled. No pains were spared to efface from the face of
the earth all traces of the victims of popular fury. But loving eyes
noted the sacred place; kept watch above the mouldering remains until
the nation turned to mourn over the slaughter wrought by their rage.
Husband and wife were removed to the vaults of the Kings of France,
at St. Denis, in 1817, by Louis Philippe. The consciences of himself
and people fermented actively about that time, touching the erection
of a _monument expiatoire_. The Place de la Concorde was re-christened
“Place de Louis XVI.,” with the ulterior design of raising upon the
site of his scaffold, obelisk or church, which should bear his name
and be a token of his subjects’ contrition. To the like end, the king
of the French proposed to change the Temple de la Gloire of Napoleon
I.—otherwise the Madeleine—into an expiatory church, dedicated to
the _manes_ of Louis XVI., Louis XVII. (the little Dauphin), Marie
Antoinette, and Madame Elizabeth, a hapless quartette whose memory
needed rehabilitation at the hands of the reigning monarch and his
loving subjects, if ever human remorse could atone for human suffering.

The Chapelle Expiatoire is the precipitate and settlement into
crystallization of this mental and moral inquietude.

“No, madame!” said the custodian, in a burst of confidence. “We have
_not_ here the corpses of Louis XVI. and his queen. Their skeletons
repose at St. Denis. But only their bones! For there are here”—touching
the black marble altar—“the earth, the lime, the clothing that enclosed
their bodies. And upon this spot was their deep, deep grave. People of
true sensibility prefer to weep here rather than in the crypt of St.
Denis!”

On the same day we saw St. Roch. Bonaparte planted his cannon upon the
broad steps, October 3, 1795, and fired into the solid ranks of the
advancing Royalists—insurgents now in their turn. The front of the
church is scarred by the balls that returned the salute. The chief
ornament of the interior is the three celebrated groups of statuary in
the Chapelle du Calvaire. These—the Crucifixion, Christ on the Cross,
and the Entombment—are marvelous in inception and execution. The small
chapel enshrining them becomes holy ground even to the Protestant
gazer. They moved us as statuary had never done before. Returning to
them, once and again, from other parts of the church, to look silently
upon the three stages in the Story that is above all others, we left
them finally with lagging tread and many backward glances. At the same
end of the church is the altar at which Marie Antoinette received her
last communion, on the day of her death.

“Were _they_ here, then?” we asked of the sacristan, pointing to the
figures in the Chapelle du Calvaire.

“But certainly, Madame! They are the work, the most famous, of Michel
Anguier, who died in 1686. The queen saw them, without doubt.”

While the bland weather lasted, we drove out to Père Lachaise, passing
_en route_, the Prison de la Roquette, in which condemned prisoners are
held until executed. The public place of execution is at its gates.
This was a slaughter-pen during the Commune. The murdered citizens,—the
Archbishop of Paris, and the curé of the Madeleine among them,—were
thrown into the _fosses communes_ of Père Lachaise. These common
ditches, each capable of containing fifty coffins, are the last homes
donated by the city of Paris to the poor who cannot buy graves for
themselves. One is thankful to learn that the venerable Archbishop and
his companions were soon granted worthier burial. Our _cocher_ told us
what may, or may not be true, that the last victim of the guillotine
suffered here; likewise that one of the fatal machines is still kept
within the walls ready for use.

For a mile—perhaps more—before reaching Père Lachaise, the streets are
lined with shops for the exhibition and sale of flowers,—a few natural,
many artificial,—wreaths of immortelles, yellow, white and black, and
an incredible quantity of bugle and bead garlands, crosses, anchors,
stars and other emblematic devices. Windows, open doors, shelves and
pavement are piled with them. Plaster lambs and doves and cherubs,
porcelain ditto; small glazed pictures of deceased saints, angels and
other creatures; sorrowing women weeping over husbands’ death-beds,
empty cradles and little graves,—all framed in gilt or black wood,—are
among the merchandise offered to the grief-stricken. A few of the
mottoes wrought into the immortelle and bead decorations will give a
faint idea of the “Frenchiness” of the display.

“_Hélas!_” “_À ma chère femme_,” “_Chère petite_,” “_Ah! mon amie_,”
“_Bien-aimée_,” “_Chérie_,” and every given Christian name known in the
Gallic tongue.

The famous Cemetery, which contains nearly 20,000 monuments, great and
small, is a curious spectacle to those who have hitherto seen only
American and English burial-grounds. Père Lachaise is a city of the
dead; not “GOD’S Acre,” or the garden in which precious seed have been
committed to the dark, warm, sweet earth in hope of Spring-time and
deathless bloom. The streets are badly paved and were so muddy when
we were there, that we had to pick our steps warily in climbing the
steep avenue beginning at the gates. Odd little constructions, like
stone sentry-boxes, rise on both sides of the way. Most of these
are surrounded by railings. All have grated doors, through which
one can survey the closets within. Flagging floors, plain stone, or
plastered walls and ceilings; low shelves or seats at the back, where
the meditative mourner may sit to weep her loss, or kneel to pray for
the belovéd soul,—these are the same in each. The monotony of the row
is broken occasionally by a chapel, an enlarged and ornate edition of
the sentry-box, or a monument resembling in form those we were used
to see in other cemeteries. The avenues are rather shady in summer.
At our November visit, the boughs were nearly bare, and rotting
leaves, trampled in the mud of the thoroughfares, made the place more
lugubrious. Really cheerful or beautiful it can never be. The flowers
set in the narrow beds between tombs and curbings, scarcely alleviate
the severely business-like aspect. Still less is this softened by
the multitudinous bugled and beaded ornaments depending from the
spikes of iron railings, cast upon sarcophagi, and the marble ledges
within the gates. All Soul’s Day was not long past and we supposed
this accounted for the superabundance of these offerings. We were
informed subsequently that there are seldom fewer than we saw at this
date. About and within one burial-closet—a family-tomb—we counted
_fifty-seven_ bugle wreaths of divers patterns, in all the hues of
the rainbow, besides the conventional black-and-white. The parade of
mortuary millinery, for a while absurd, became presently sickening,
horribly tawdry and glistening. It was a relief to laugh heartily and
naturally when we saw a child pick up a garland of shiny purple beads,
and set it rakishly upon the bust of Joseph Fourier, the inclination of
the decoration over the left eyebrow making him seem to wink waggishly
at us, in thorough enjoyment of the situation.

We wanted to be thoughtful and respectful in presence of the dead, but
the achievement required an effort which was but lamely successful.
Dispirited we did become, by and by, and fatigued with trampling up
steep lanes and cross-alleys. Carriages cannot enter the grounds, and
even a partial exploration of them is a weariness. We drooped like the
weeping-willow set beside Alfred de Musset’s tomb, before we reached
it. An attenuated and obstinately disconsolate weeper is the tree
planted in obedience to his request:—

    “Mes chers amis, quand je mourrai,
     Plantez un saule au cimetière;
     J’aime son feuillage éploré,
     La pâleur m’en est douce et chère;
     Et son ombre sera légère,
     À la terre où je dormirai.”

The conditions of the sylvan sentinel whose sprays caressed his bust,
were, when we beheld it, comically “according to order.” There were
not more than six branches upon the tree, a few sickly leaves hanging
to each. At its best the foliage must have been “pale” and the shade
exceedingly “light.”

The Gothic chapel roofing in the sarcophagus of Abelard and Heloïse,
was built of stones from the convent of Paraclet, of which Heloïse
was, for nearly half a century, Lady Superior. From this retreat she
addressed to her monkish lover letters that might have drawn tears
of blood from the heart of a flint; which impelled Abelard to the
composition of quires of homilies upon the proper management of the
nuns in her charge, including by-laws for conventual housewifery.
Under the pointed arches the mediæval lovers rest, side by side,
although they were divided in death by the lapse of twenty-two years.
Sarcophagus and effigies are very old, having been long kept among the
choice antiquities of a Parisian museum and placed in Père Lachaise by
the order of Louis Philippe. The monument was originally set up in the
Abbey of Heloïse near the provincial town of Nogent-sur-Seine, where
the rifled vault is still shown. Prior and abbess slumbered there for
almost seven centuries. Their statues are of an old man and old woman,
vestiges of former beauty in the chiseled features; more strongly drawn
lines of thought and character in brow, lip, and chin. They wear their
conventual robes.

Peripatetic skeletons and ashes are _à la mode_ in this polite country.
The “manes,” poets and epitaphs are so fond of apostrophizing, should
have lively wits and faithful memories if they would keep the run of
their mortal parts.

Marshal Ney has neither sentry-box, nor chapel, nor memorial-tablet.
His grave is within a square plat, railed in by an iron fence. The
turf is fresh above him, and late autumn roses, lush and sweet, were
blooming around. The ivy, which grows as freely in France as brambles
and bind-weed with us, made a close, green wall of the railing. We
plucked a leaf, as a souvenir. It is twice as large as our ivy-leaves,
shaded richly with bronze and purple, and whitely veined, and there
were hundreds as fine upon the vine.

One path is known as that of the “artistes,” and is much frequented.
Upon Talma’s head-stone is carved a tragic mask. Music weeps over
the bust of Bellini and beside Chopin’s grave, and, in bas-relief,
crowns the sculptured head of Cherubini. Bernardin de St. Pierre lies
near Boïeldieu, the operatic composer. Denon, Napoleon’s companion
in Egypt, and general director of museums under the Empire, sits in
bronze, dark and calm as a dead Pharaoh, in the neighborhood of Madame
Blanchard, the aëronaut, who perished in her last ascent. There was
a picture of the disaster in Parley’s Magazine, forty years ago. I
remembered it—line for line, the bursting flame and smoke, the falling
figure—at sight of the inscription setting forth her title to artistic
distinction. Upon another avenue lie La Fontaine, Molière,—(another
itinerant, re-interred here in 1817,) Laplace, the astronomer, and
Manuel Garcia, the gifted father of a more gifted daughter,—Malibran.
“Around the corner,” we stumbled, as it were, upon the tomb of Madame
de Genlis.

Rachel sleeps apart from Gentile dust in the Jewish quarter of Père
Lachaise. Beside the bare stone closet above her vault is a bush of
laurestinus, with glossy green leaves. The floor inside was literally
heaped with visiting-cards, usually folded down at one corner to
signify that he or she, paying the compliment of a post-mortem
morning-call, deposited the bit of pasteboard in person. There was
at least a half bushel of these touching tributes to dead-and-gone
genius. No flowers, natural or false, no immortelles—_no bugle
wreaths_! Only visiting-cards, many engraved with coronets and other
heraldic signs, tremendously imposing to simple Republicans. We
examined fifty or sixty, returning them to the closet, with scrupulous
care, after inspection. Some admirers had added to name and address,
a complimentary or regretful phrase that would have titillated the
insatiate vanity of the deceased, could she have read it,—wounded to
her death as she had been by the success of her rival Ristori. Her
votaries may have had this reminiscence of her last days in mind, and
a shadowy idea that her “manes,” in hovering about her grave, would be
cognizant of their compassionate courtesies.

Most of the offerings were from what we never got out of the habit
of styling “foreigners.” There were a few snobbish-looking English
cards,—one with a sentence, considerately scribbled in French—“_Mille
et mille compliments_.” So far as our inspection went, there was not
one that bore an American address. Nor did we leave ours as exceptions
to this deficiency in National appreciation of genius and artistic
power—or National paucity of sentimentality.



CHAPTER XIII.

_Southward-Bound._


“DO NOT go to Rome!” friends at home had implored by letter and word of
mouth, prior to our sailing from the other side. English acquaintances
and friends caught up the cry. In Paris, it swelled into impassioned
adjuration, reiterated in so many forms, and at times so numerous and
unseasonable that we nervously avoided the remotest allusion to the
Eternal City in word. But sleeping and waking thoughts were tormented
by mental repetitions that might, or might not be the whispers of
guardian angels.

“Do not go to Rome! Do not thou or you go to Rome! Do not ye or you go
to Rome!”

Thus ran the changes in the burden of admonition and thought.
Especially, “Do not ye or you go to Rome!”

“Go, if you are bent upon it, me dear!” said a kind English lady. “Your
husband is robust, and it may be as you and he believe, that your
health requires a mild and sedative climate. But do not take your dear
daughters. The air of Rome is deadly to young English and American
girls. Quite a blight, I assure you!”

Said one of our Paris bankers to Caput:—“I can have no conceivable
interest in trying to turn you aside from your projected route, but it
is my duty in the cause of common humanity to warn you that you are
running into the jaws of danger in taking your family to Rome. We have
advices to-day that the corpses of thirteen Americans, most of them
women and children,—all dead within the week—are now lying at Maquay
and Hooker’s in Rome awaiting transportation to America.”

This was appalling. But matters waxed serious in Paris, too. Indian
Summer over, it began to rain. In Scriptural phrase,—“Neither sun nor
stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest”—of mist, sleet and
showers—“lay upon us.” Deprived of what was my very life—(what little
of it remained,) daily exercise in the open air, the cough, insomnia
and other terrors that had driven us into exile, increased upon me
rapidly and alarmingly. Weakening day by day, it was each morning
more difficult to rise and look despairingly from my windows upon the
watery heavens and flooded streets. Sunshine and soft airs were abroad
somewhere upon the earth. Find them we must before it should be useless
to seek them. The leader of the household brigade ordered a movement
along the whole line. Like a brood of swallows, we fled southward.
“Certainly to Florence. Probably to Rome. Should the skies there prove
as ungenial as those of France,—as a last and forlorn hope—to Algiers.”
Such were the terms of command.

We arrived in Florence, the Beautiful, at ten o’clock of a December
night. The _facchini_ and _cocchieri_ at the station stared wildly
when we addressed them in French, became frantic under the volley of
Latin Caput hurled upon them, in the mistaken idea that they would
understand their ancestral tongue. Italian was, as yet, an unknown
realm to us, and our ignominious refuge was in the universal language
of signs. Porters and coachmen were quick in interpretation, much of
their intercourse with their fellow-countrymen being carried on in like
manner. The luggage was identified, piece by piece, and fastened upon
the carriages. The human freight was bestowed within, and as Prima
dropped upon the seat beside me, she lifted her hand in a vow:

“I begin the study of Italian to-morrow!”

It was raining steadily, the streets were ill-lighted, the pavements
wretched; and when a slow drive through tortuous ways brought us to our
desired haven, the house was so full that comfortable accommodations
for so large a party could not be procured. The proprietor kindly
and courteously directed us to a neighboring hotel, which he could
conscientiously recommend, and sent an English-speaking waiter—a
handsome, quick-witted fellow—to escort us thither and “see that we
were not cheated.”

“Babes in the woods—nothing more!” grumbled the high-spirited young
woman at my elbow.

She was the mistress of a dozen telling Italian words before she
slept. Our bed-rooms and adjoining _salon_ were spacious, gloomy, and
cheerless to a degree unknown out of Italy. The hotel had been a palace
in the olden times, after the manner of three-fourths of the Italian
houses of entertainment. Walls and floor were of stone, the chill of
the latter striking through the carpets into our feet My chamber, the
largest in the suite, contained two bier-like beds set against the far
wall, bureau, dressing-table, wash-stand, six heavy chairs, and a sofa,
and, between these, a desolate moor of bare carpeting before one could
gain the hearth. This was a full brick in width, bounded in front by a
strip of rug hardly wider—at the back by a triangular hole in the wall,
in which a chambermaid proceeded, upon our entrance, to build a wood
fire. First, a ball of resined shavings was laid upon the bricks; then,
a handful of dried twigs; then, small round sticks; then, diminutive
logs, split and seasoned, and we had a crackling, fizzing, conceited
blaze that swept all the heat with it up the chimney. The Invaluable’s
spirit-lamp upon the side-table had more cheer in it. If set down upon
the pyramid of Cheops, and told we were to camp there overnight, this
feminine Mark Tapley would, in half-an-hour, have made herself and the
rest of us at home; got up “a nice tea;” put Boy to bed and sat down
beside him, knitting in hand, as composedly as in our nursery over the
sea.

Her “comfortable cup of tea” was ready by the time our supper was
brought up—a good supper, hot, and served with praiseworthy alacrity.
We ate it, and drank our tea, and looked at the fire, conscious that we
ought also to feel it, it was such a brisk, fussy little conflagration.
Landlord and servants were solicitous and attentive; hot-water bottles
were tucked in at the foot of each frozen bed, and we sought our
pillows in tolerable spirits.

Mine were at ebb-tide again next morning, as, lying upon the sofa,
mummied in shawls, a _duvet_, covered with satinet and filled with
down, on the top of the heap, yet cold under them all, my eyes wandered
from the impertinent little fire that did not thaw the air twelve
inches beyond the hearth, to the windows so clouded with rain I could
hardly see the grim palace opposite, and I wondered why I was there.
Was the game worth the expensive candle? Why had I not stayed at home
and died like a Christian woman upon a spring-mattress, swathed in
thick blankets, environed by friends and all the appliances conducive
to euthanasia? I had begged the others to go out on a tour of business
and sight-seeing. I should be quite comfortable with my books, and the
thought of loneliness was preposterous. Was I not in Florence? Knowing
this, it would be a delight to lie still and dream. In truth, I was
thoroughly miserable, yet would have died sooner than confess it. I did
not touch one of the books laid upon the table beside me, because, I
said to my moody self, it was too cold and I too languid to put my hand
out from the load of wraps.

There was a tap at the door. It unclosed and shut again softly. An
angel glided over the Siberian desert of carpet—before I could exclaim,
bent down and kissed me.

“Oh!” I sighed, in hysterical rapture. “I did not know you were in
Italy!”

She was staying in the hotel at which we had applied for rooms the
night before, and the handsome interpreter, Carlo, had reported our
arrival to the Americans in the house.

Shall I be more glad to meet her in heaven than I was on that day to
look upon the sweet, womanly face, and hear the cooing voice, whose
American intonations touched my heart to melting? She sat with me all
the forenoon, the room growing warmer each hour. Her party—also a
family one—had now been abroad more than a year. The invalid brother,
her especial charge, was wonderfully better for the travel and change
of climate. He was far more ill than I when they left home. Of course
I would get well! Why not, with such tender nurses and the dear Lord’s
blessing? No! it did not “rain always in Florence;” but the rainy
season had now set in, and “Frederic and I are going to Rome next
week.” I question if she ever named herself, even in thought or prayer,
without the prefix of “Frederic.”

“To Rome!” cried I, eagerly. “_Dare_ you!”

My story of longing, discouragement, dreads—that had darkened into
superstitious presentiments—followed. The day went smoothly enough
after the confession, and the reassurances that it elicited. We secured
smaller and brighter bed-rooms, and almost warmed them by ruinously
dear fires, devouring as they did basketful after basketful of the
Lilliputian logs. It was the business of one _facchino_ to feed the
holes in the walls of the three rooms we inhabited in the day-time.
Other friends called—cordial and lavish of kind offices and offers as
are compatriots when met upon foreign soil. One family—old, old friends
of Caput—had, although now resident in Florence, lived for a year in
Rome, and laughed to scorn our fears of the climate. They rendered us
yet more essential service in suggestions as to clothing, apartments,
and general habits of life in Central Italy. To the adoption of these
we were, I believe, greatly indebted for the unbroken health which was
our portion as a household during our winter in the dear old city.

We were in Florence ten days. Nine were repetitions, “to be continued,”
of such weather as we had left in Paris. One was so deliciously
lovely that, had not the next proved stormy, we should have postponed
our departure. We made the most of the sunshine, taking a carriage,
morning and afternoon, for drives in the outskirts of the town and in
the suburbs, which must have given her the name of _bella_. The city
proper is undeniably and irremediably ugly. The streets are crooked
lanes, in which the meeting of two carriages drives foot-passengers
literally to the wall. There are no sidewalks other than the few rows
of cobble-stones slanting down from the houses to the gutter separating
them from the middle of the thoroughfare. The far-famed palaces are
usually built around courtyards, and present to the street walls
sternly blank, or frowning with grated windows. If, at long intervals,
one has snatches through a gateway of fountains and conservatories,
they make the more tedious block after block of lofty edifices that
shut out light from the thread-like street—shed chill with darkness
into these dismal wells. This is the old city in its winter aspect.
Wider and handsome streets border the Arno—a sluggish, turbid creek—and
the modern quarters are laid out generously in boulevards and squares.
We modified our opinions materially the following year, when weather
and physical state were more propitious to favorable judgment. Now,
we were impatient to be gone, intolerant of the praises chanted and
written of _Firenze_ in so many ages and tongues. The happiest moment
of our stay within her gates was when we shook off so much of her mud
as the action could dislodge from our feet and seated ourselves in a
railway carriage for Rome.

It was a long day’s travel, but the most entrancing we had as yet
known. Vallambrosa, Arezzo (the ancient _Arretium_), Cortona;
_Lake Thrasymene!_ The names leaped up at us from the pages of our
guide-books. The places for which they stood lay to the right and left
of the prosaic railway, like scenes in a phantasmagoria. We had, as
was our custom when it could be compassed by fee or argument, secured
a compartment to ourselves. There were no critics to sneer, or marvel
at our raptures and quotations. Boy, ætat four, whose preparation
for the foreign tour had been readings, recitations, and songs from
“Lays of Ancient Rome,” in lieu of Mother Goose and Baby’s Opera, and
whose personal hand-luggage consisted of a very dog-eared copy of the
work, illustrated by stiff engravings from bas-reliefs upon coins and
stones—bore a distinguished part in our talk. He would see “purple
Apennine,” and was disgusted at the commonplace roofs of Cortona that
no longer

        “Lifts to heaven
    Her diadem of towers.”

At mention of the famous lake, he scrambled down from his seat; made a
rush for the window.

“Papa! is _that_ ‘reedy Thrasymene?’ Where is ‘dark Verbenna?’”

As a reward for remembering his lesson so well, he was lifted to the
paternal knee, and while the train slowly wound along the upper end of
the lake, heard the story of the battle between Hannibal and Flaminius,
upon the weedy banks, B. C. 217; saw the defile in which the brave
consul was entrapped; where, for hours, the slaughter of the snared and
helpless troops went on, until the little river we presently crossed
was foul with running blood. It is Sanguinetto to this day.

The vapors of morning were lazily curling up from the lake; dark
woods crowd down to the edge on one side; hills dressed in gray olive
orchards border another; a bold promontory on the west is capped by an
ancient tower. A monastery occupies one of the three islands that dot
the surface. A light film, like the breath upon a mirror, veiled the
intense blue of the sky—darkened the waters into slaty purple.

A dense fog filled the basin between the hills on the May-day when
Rome’s best consul and general marched into it and to his death.

On we swept, past Perugia, capital of old Umbria, one of the twelve
chiefest Etruscan cities; overcome and subjugated by the Roman power
B. C. 310. It was a battle-field while Antony and Octavius contended
for the mastership of Rome; was devastated by Goth, Ghibelline and
Guelph; captured successively by Savoyard, Austrian, and Piedmontese.
It is better known to this age than by all these events as the home of
Perugino, the master of Raphael, and father of the new departure from
the ancient school of painting. The view became, each moment, more
novel because more Italian. The roads were scantily shaded by pollarded
trees—mostly mulberry—from whose branches depended long festoons of
vines, linking them together, without a break, for miles. Farms were
separated by the same graceful lines of demarcation. Other fences were
rare. We did not see “a piece of bad road,” or a mud-hole, in Italy.
The road and bridge-builders of the world bequeathed to their posterity
one legacy that has never worn out, which bids fair to last while the
globe swings through space. As far as the eye could reach along the
many country highways we crossed that day, the broad, smooth sweep
commanded our wondering admiration. The grade from crown to sides is so
nicely calculated that rain-water neither gathers in pools in the road,
nor gullies the bed in running off. Vehicles are not compelled, by
barbarous “turnpiking,” to keep the middle of the track, thus cutting
deep ruts other wheels must follow. It is unusual, in driving, to
strike a pebble as large as an egg.

The travellers upon these millennial thoroughfares were not numerous.
Peasants on foot drove herds of queer black swine, small and gaunt,
in comparison with our obese porkers—vicious-looking creatures, with
pointed snouts and long legs. Women, returning from or going to market,
had baskets of green stuff strapped upon their backs, and often
children in their arms; bare-legged men in conical hats and sheepskin
coats, trudged through clouds of white dust, raised by clumsy carts,
to which were attached the cream-colored oxen of the Campagna. Great,
patient beasts they are, the handsomest of their race, with incredibly
long horns symmetrically fashioned and curved. These horns are sold
everywhere in Italy as a charm against “the evil eye”—the dread of all
classes.

About the middle of the afternoon we descended into the valley of the
Tiber—the cleft peak of Soracte (Horace’s Soracte!) visible from afar
like a rent cloud. We crossed a bridge built by Augustus; halted for
a minute at the Sabine town that gave Numa Pompilius to Rome; watched,
with increasing delight, the Sabine and Alban Mountains grow into
shape and distinctness; gazed oftenest and longest—as who does not?—at
the Dome, faint, for a while, as a bubble blown into the haze of the
horizon—more strongly and nobly defined as we neared our goal; crossed
the Anio, upon which Romulus and Remus had been set adrift; made a wide
_détour_ that, apparently, took us away from, not toward the city, and
showed us the long reaches of the aqueducts, black and high, “striding
across the Campagna,” in the settling mists of evening. Then ensued an
odd jumble of ruins and modern, unfinished buildings, an alternation,
as incongruous, of strait and spacious streets, and we steamed slowly
into the station. It is near the Baths of Diocletian, and looks like a
very audacious interloper by daylight.

It was dusk when our effects were collected, and they and ourselves
jolting over miserable pavements toward our hotel in the guardianship
of a friend who had kindly met us at the station. By the time we had
reached the quarters he had engaged for us; had waited some minutes
in a reception-room in the _rez-de-chaussée_ that felt and smelt like
a newly-dug grave; had ascended two flights of obdurate stone stairs,
cruelly mortifying to feet cramped and tender with long sitting and
the hot-water footstools of the railway carriage; had sat for half
an hour, shawled and hatted, in chambers more raw and earthy of odor
than had been the waiting-room, watching the contest betwixt flame
and smoke in the disused chimneys, we discovered and admitted that
we were tired to death. Furthermore, that the sensation of wishing
oneself really and comfortably deceased, upon attaining this degree of
physical depression, is the same in a city almost thirty centuries
old, and in a hunter’s camp in the Adirondacks. Even Caput looked
vexed, and wondered audibly and repeatedly why fires were not ready in
rooms that were positively engaged and ordered to be made comfortable
twenty-four hours ago; and the Invaluable, depositing Boy, swathed in
railway rugs, upon one of the high, single beds, lest his feet should
freeze upon “the murdersome cold floors,” “guessed these Eyetalians
aren’t much, if any of fire-makers.” Thereupon, she went down upon her
knees to coax into being the smothering blaze, dying upon a cold hearth
under unskilfully-laid fuel. The carpet in the _salon_ we had likewise
bespoken was not put down until the afternoon of the following day. The
fires in all the bed-rooms smoked. By eight o’clock we extinguished
the last spark and went to bed. In time, we took these dampers and
reactions as a part of a hard day’s work; gained faith in our ability
to live until next morning. Being unseasoned at this period, the first
night in Rome was torture while we endured it, humiliating in the
retrospect.

It rained from dawn to sundown of the next day. Not with melancholy
persistency, as in Florence, as if the weather were put out by contract
and time no object, but in passionate, fitful showers, making rivers of
the streets, separated by intervals of sobbing and moaning winds and
angry spits of rain-drops. We stayed in-doors, and, under compulsion,
rested. The fires burned better as the chimneys warmed to their work;
we unpacked a trunk or two; wrote letters and watched, amused and
curious, the proceedings of two men and two women who took eight hours
to stretch and tack down the carpet in our _salon_. Each time one of us
peeped, or sauntered in to note and report progress, all four of the
work-people intermitted their ceaseless jargon to nod and smile, and
say “_Domane!_” Young travelled in Italy before he wrote “To-morrow,
and to-morrow, and to-morrow!”

Our morrow was brilliantly clear, and freshness like the dewy breath
of early Spring was in the air. Our first visit was, of course, to
our bankers, and while Caput went in to inquire for letters (and to
learn, I may add, that the story of the thirteen American corpses was
unsupported by the presence, then or during the entire season, of a
single one), we lay back among the carriage-cushions, feeling that we
drank in the sunshine at every pore—enjoying as children or Italians
might the various and delightful features of the scene.

The sunlight—clarified of all vaporous grossness by the departed
tempest—in color, the purest amber; in touch and play beneficent as
fairy balm, was everywhere. Upon the worn stones paving the Piazza di
Spagna, and upon the Bernini fountain (one of them), the Barcaccia,
at the foot of the Spanish Steps,—a boat, commemorating the mimic
naval battles held here by Domitian, when the Piazza was a theatre
enclosing an artificial lake. Upon beggars lolling along the tawny-gray
Steps, and contadini—boys, women, and girls—in fantastic costume,
attitudinizing to catch the eye of a chance artist. Upon the column,
with the Virgin’s statue on top, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and David
at the base, rusty tears, from unsuspected iron veins, oozing out
of the sides,—decreed by Pius IX. in honor of his pet dogma of the
Immaculate Conception. Upon the big, dingy College of the Propaganda,
founded in 1622, Barberini bees in bas-relief conspicuous among the
architectural ornaments. More of Bernini’s work. Urban VIII., his
patron, being a Barberini. Upon the Trinita di Monti at the top of the
Spanish Staircase, where the nuns sing like imprisoned canaries—as
sweetly and as monotonously—on Sabbath afternoons, and all the world
goes to hear them. Upon the glittering windows of shops and hotels
fronting the Piazza—the centre of English and American colonies in
Rome. Upon the white teeth and brown faces of boys—some beautiful as
cherubs—who held up great trays of violets for us to buy, and wedded
forever our memories of the Piazza and this morning with violet scent.
Upon the wrinkles and rags of old women—some hideous as hags—who piped
entreaties that we would “_per l’amore di Dio_” make a selection from
their stock of Venetian beads, Naples lava trinkets, and Sorrento
wood-work. Upon the portly figure and bland countenance of Mr. Hooker,
coming out to welcome us to the city which has given him a home for
thirty years, and which he has made home-like to so many of his
country-people. Lastly, and to our fancy most brightly, upon the faces
of my Florence angel of mercy and her family party, alighting from
their carriage at the door of the bank, and hurrying up to exchange
greetings with us.

This was our real coming to Rome! Not the damp and despondency of the
thirty-six hours lying just behind us; dreariness and doubts never
renewed in the five fleet-footed months during which we lingered and
_lived_ within her storied gates.



CHAPTER XIV.

_Pope, King, and Forum._


I WAS sorry to leave the hotel, the name of which I withhold for
reasons that will be obvious presently. Not that it was in itself a
pleasant caravansary, although eminently respectable, and much affected
by Americans and English. Not that the rooms were ever warm, although
we wasted our substance in fire-building; or that the one dish of
meat at luncheon, or the principal dessert at dinner, always “went
around.” We had hired a commodious and sunny “_appartamento_” of seven
well-furnished rooms in Via San Sebastiano—a section of the Piazza di
Spagna—and were anxious to begin housekeeping.

I _did_ regret to leave, with the probability of never seeing her
again—a choice specimen of the _Viatrix Americana_, a veritable unique,
whose seat was next mine at luncheon and dinner. Our friendship began
through my declaration, at her earnest adjuration, of my belief that
the “kick-shaws,” as she called them, offered for our consumption
were harmless and passably digestible by the Yankee stomach. She was
half-starved, poor thing! and after this I cheerfully fulfilled the
office of taster, drawing my salary twice _per diem_ in the liberal
entertainment of her converse with me. She had been three-quarters of
the way around the world, with her husband as banker and escort; was
great upon Egyptian donkeys and the domestic entomology of Syria, and
could not lisp one word of any dialect excepting that of her native
“Vairmount” and of her adopted State, which we will name—Iowa.

“You sight-see so slow!” was her unintentional alliteration, on the
fifth day of our acquaintanceship. “Aint bin to see a church yet, hev
you?”

I answered, timidly, that I was waiting to grow stronger. “The churches
are so cold in Winter that I shall probably put off that part of my
sight-seeing until Spring.”

“Good gracious! Be you goin’ to spend the winter here?”

“That is our hope, at present.”

“You’ll be bored to death! You wont see _You_-rope in ten year, if you
take it so easy. We calkerlate to do up Rome under a fort_night_. We’ve
jest finished up the churches. On an averidge of thirty-five a day! But
we hed to work lively. Now we’re at the villers. One on ’em you must
see—sick or well. ’Taint so very much of it upstairs. The beautifullest
furnitur’ I ever see. Gildin’ and tay-pis_try_, and velvet and picters
and freskies, common as dirt, as you may say. The gardings a sight
to behold. You _make_ your husband take you! Set your foot down, for
oncet!”

“What villa—did you say?”

“The Land! I don’t bother with the outlandish names. But you’ll find
it easy. Napoleon Boneypart did somethin’ or ’nother ther oncet. Or,
his son, or nephey, or some of the family. Any way, I do know I never
see sech winder-curtains anywhere. Thick as a board! Solid satin. No
linin’s, for I fingered ’em and took a peek at the wrong side to be
positive. We wound up the churches by goin’ to see the tomb the Pope’s
been a buildin’ of for himself. A kind o’ square pit, or cellar right
in the middle of the church of What’s-his-name?”

“Santa Maria Maggiore?”

“That’s the feller! You go down by two flights of stun steps. One
onto each side of the cellar. Its all open on top, you understand, on
a level with the church-floor, and jest veneered with marble. Every
color you can think of. Floor jest the same. Old Pope Griggory, he
aint buried yet. Lies ’bove-ground, in a red marble box. He can’t be
buried for good ’tell Pious, he dies. And _he_ must hev the same spell
o’ waitin’ for the next one. Ther’ must be two popes on the top of the
yearth at the same time. One live and one dead. Thinks-I, when I looked
inter the cryp’—as they call it—jest a-blazin’ and a-dazzlin’ with red,
blue, green and yellow, and polished like a new table-knife blade.—If
_this_ aint vanity and vexation! I’d ruther hev our fam’ly lot in the
buryin’ groun’ to Meekinses Four Corners—(a real nice lot it is! With
only one stun’ as yet. ‘To my daughter Almiry Jane, Ag_éd_ six months
and six days,’) where I could be tucked up, like a lady, safe and snug.
Oncet for all and no bones about it!”

On the tenth and last day of our sojourn at the hotel, she went to see
the Pope.

“May I come inter your sittin’-room?” was her petition at evening. “I
am fairly bustin’ to tell you all about it. And if we go inter the
public parler, them Englishers will be makin’ fun behind my back. For,
you see, ther’s considerable actin’ to be done to tell it jest right.”

I took her into our _salon_, established her in an arm-chair, and was
attentive. I had seen her in her best black silk with the regulation
black lace shawl, which generally does duty as a veil, pinned to
her scanty hair. Ladies attending the Pope’s levees must dress in
black, without bonnets, the head being covered by a black veil.
When thus attired, my acquaintance had wound and hung at least half
a peck of rosaries upon her arms, “to have ’em handy for the old
cretur’s blessin’.” I was now to hear how her husband had hired at the
costumer’s the dress-coat prescribed for gentlemen.

“Come down to his heels, if you’ll believe me! He bein’ a spare man,
and by no manner of means tall. Sleeves a mile too long. Collar over
his ears. A slice of his bald head showed atop of it like a new moon!”

She stopped to laugh, we all joining in heartily.

“Mr. Smith from St. _Lewis_,—he was along and his coat was as much too
small for him as my husband’s was too big for _him_. Mr. Smith daresn’t
breathe for fear of splittin’ it down the back.”

I recollected the story of Cyrus and the two coats, and restrained the
suggestion that they might have exchanged garments.

“Eight francs an hour, they paid—one dollar ’n’ sixty cents good money,
for the use of each of the bothering machines. Well! when we was all
got up to kill as it were—(’twas some like it!) we druv’ off, two
carriage-fulls, to the Pope’s Palace—the _Vacuum_. Up the marble steps
we tugged, through five or six monstrous rooms, all precious marbled
and gilded and tapes_tried_, into a long hall, more like a town-meeting
house than a parler. Stuffed benches along the side, where we all sat
down to wait for the old man. Three mortal hours, he kept us coolin’ of
our heels after the time advertised for the levy. I _hev_ washed an’
ironed and churned and done my own housework in my day. I ain’t ashamed
to say I’d ruther do a good day’s heft at ’em all, than to pass another
sech tiresome mornin’. I don’t call it mannerly to tell people when to
come, and then not be ready. Mr. Smith, he nearly died in his tight
coat with the circulation stopped into both arms. At last, the door at
the bottom of the hall was flung open by a fellow in striped breeches,
and in _he_ come. A man in a black gownd to each side on him. He is
powerful feeble-lookin’, but I will say, aint quite so _an_cient as I’d
expected to see. He leaned upon the arm of one man. Another went ’round
the room with ’em, collectin’ of our names to give ’em to him. I forgot
to tell you that everybody dropped on their knees, the minute the
door opened and we saw who ’twas. That is, except Mr. Smith. He stood
straight up, like a brass post. He says, ‘because American citizens
hadn’t oughter bend the knee to no human man.’ _I_ say he was afraid on
account of the coat. I didn’t jest like kneelin’ myself. So, I saved my
conscience by kinder _squattin’_! So-fashion!”

I was glad “the Englishers” were not by as she “made a cheese” of her
skirts by the side of her chair, and was up again in the next breath.

“_He_ wore a white skull-cap and a long white gownd belted at the
waist. Real broadcloth ’twas. I thought, at first, ’twas opery flannel
or merino, but when he was a-talkin’ to them next me, I managed to
pinch a fold of it. ’Twas cloth—high-priced it must ’a been—soft and
solid. But after all that’s said and done, he looks like an ole woman
and a fat one. Kind face, he hez, and a sort of sweet, greasy smile
onto it the whole time. He blessed us all ’round, and said to the
Americans how fond he was of their country, and how he hoped we and
our children would come back to the True Fold. It didn’t hurt us none
to hev him say it, you know, and we hed a fair look at him while one
of the black-gowners was a-translatin’ of it. Ther’ was two sisters
of charity or abbesses or nuns, or somethin’ of that sort there,
who dropped flat onto their faces on the bare floor when he got to
them,—and kissed his slipper. White they was—the slippers, I mean—with
a gold cross worked onto them. He gave us all his hand to kiss, with
the seal-ring held up. I aint much in the habit of that sort o’ thing,
and it did go agin my stomach a _leetle_. So, I tuk his hand, this
way”—seizing mine—“and smacked my lips over it without them a-touchin’
on it.”

Again illustrating the narrative by “acting.”

“I tuk notice ’twas yellow, like old ivory, but flabby, as ’twas to
be counted upon at his time o’ life. Well, ’twas a sight to see them
charitable sisters mumblin’ and smouchin’ over the Holy Father’s hand,
and sayin’ prayers like a house a-fire, after they’d done with his
slipper and got up onto their knees; and him a-smiling like a pot of
hair-oil, and a-blessin’ on his dear daughters! One of ’em had brought
along a new white cap for him, embroidered elegant with crosses and
crowns and other rigmarees, by her own hands, most likely. When she giv
it to him, still on her knees and a-lookin’ up, worshippin’-like, he
very politely tuk off his old one and put on the new. You’d a thought
the poor thing would ’a died on that floor of delight when he nodded
at her, a smilin’ sweeter than ever, to show how well it fitted.
She’ll talk about it to her dyin’ day as the biggest thing that ever
happened to her, and never think, I presume, that he must have about
a hundred caps, given to him by other abbesses, kickin’ ’round in the
Vacuum closets. After he’d done up the row of visitors—a hundred and
odd—and blessed all the crosses, and bunches of beads, and flowers, and
artificial wreaths, and other gimcracks, and all we had on to boot, he
stopped in the middle of the room and made us a little French sermon.
Sounded neat—but, of course, I didn’t get a word of it. Then he raised
his hand and pronounced the benediction, and toddled out. He rocks
considerable in his walk, poor old man! He ain’t long for this world;
and, indeed, he hez lived as long as his best friends care to hev him.”

I have had many other descriptions of the Pope’s receptions, which
were semi-weekly in this the last year of his life. In the main, these
accounts tallied so well with the charcoal sketch furnished by my
Yankee-Western dame, that I have given it as nearly as possible as I
received it from her lips.

Victor Emmanuel had reigned in Rome six years when we were there. The
streets were clean; the police vigilant and obliging; every museum
and monastery and library was unbarred by the Deliverer of Italy.
Protestant churches were going up within the walls of the city;
Protestant service was held wherever and whenever the worshippers
willed, without the visible protection of English or American flag.
One scarcely recognized in the renovated capital the Rome of which the
travelers of ’69 had written, so full and free had been the sweep of
the tidal wave of liberty and decency. The Pope, than whom never man
had a more favorable opportunity to do all the King had accomplished,
and more, was a voluntary prisoner in his palace of a thousand rooms,
with a beggarly retinue of five hundred servants, and stables full of
useless state-coaches and horses. Whoever would see him shorn of the
beams of temporal sovereignty must bend the knee to him as spiritual
lord. Without attempting to regulate the consciences or actions of
others, we declined to make this show of allegiance. Since attendance
in the temple of Rimmon was a matter of individual option, we stayed
without—_Anglicé_—we “stopped away.”

Victor Emmanuel we saw frequently in his rides and drives about Rome,
and at various popular gatherings, such as reviews and state gala-days.
He was the homeliest and best belovèd man in his dominions. Somewhat
above medium height and thick-set, his military bearing, especially
upon horseback, barely redeemed his figure from clumsiness. The
bull-neck, indicative of the baser qualities, the story of which is
a blot upon his early life, upbore a massive head, carried in manly,
kingly fashion. His complexion was purple-red; the skin, rough in
grain, streaked with darker lines, as if blood-vessels had broken under
the surface. The firm mouth was almost buried by the moustache, heavy
and black, curling upward until the tips threatened the eyes. The nose
thick and _retroussé_, with wide nostrils, corroborated the testimony
of the neck. But, beneath the full forehead, the eyes of the master of
men and of himself shone out so expressively that to meet them was to
forget blemishes of feature and form, and to do justice to the hero of
his age—the Father of United Italy.

Prince Umberto was often his father’s companion in the carriage and on
horseback—a much handsomer man, whom all regarded with interest as the
king of the future, with no premonition that the eventful race of the
stalwart parent was so nearly run, or that the aged Pope, whose serious
illnesses were reported from week to week, would survive to send a
message of amity to the monarch’s death-bed.

The prettiest sight in Rome was one yet more familiar than that of King
and heir-apparent driving in a low carriage on the crowded Pincio,
unattended by so much as a single equerry. The Princess Margherita,
the people’s idol, took her daily airing as any lady of rank might
do, her little son at her side, accompanied by one or two ladies of
her modest court, and returning affably the salutations of those who
met or passed her. The frank confidence of the royal family in the
love of the people was with her a happy unconsciousness of possible
danger that stirred the most callous to enthusiasm of loyalty. A murmur
of blessing followed her appearance among the populace. They never
named her without endearing epithets. During the Carnival, she drove,
attended as I have described, down the middle of the Corso, wedged in
by a slow-moving line of vehicles, the people packing side-walks and
gutters up to the wheels, a storm of cheering and waving caps breaking
out along the close files as they recognized her. We were abreast of
her several times; saw her bow to this side and that, swaying with
laughter while she put up both hands to ward off the rain of bouquets
poured upon her from balcony and pavement and carriage, until her coach
was full above her lap. The small Prince of Naples, on his part, stood
up and flung flowers vigorously to left and right, shouting his delight
in the fun.

We were strolling in the grounds of the Villa Borghese, one afternoon,
when we espied the scarlet liveries of the Princess approaching along
the road. That Boy, who was _au fait_ to many tales of her sweetness
and charitable deeds, might have a better look at one who ranked, in
his imagination, with the royal heroines of fairy-tales, his father
lifted him to a seat upon the rail dividing the foot-path from the
drive. As the Princess came up, our group was the only one in the
retired spot, and Boy, staring solemnly with his great, gray eyes, at
the beautiful lady, of his own accord pulled off his Scotch cap and
made a profound obeisance from his perch upon the rail. The Princess
smiled brightly and merrily, and, after acknowledging Caput’s lifted
hat by a gracious bend of the head, leaned forward to throw a kiss at
Boy, as his especial token of favor, while her boy took off and waved
his cap with a nod of good-fellowship.

One can believe that with this trivial incident in our minds it _hurt_
us to read, eighteen months later, of the little fellow’s terror at
sight of the blood streaming from his father’s arm upon his mother’s
dress, and at the clash over his innocent head of loyal sword and
assassin’s dagger.

The change in the government of Rome is not more apparent in the
improved condition of her streets and in the enforcement of sanitary
laws unknown or uncared-for under the _ancien régime_, than in
the aspect of the ruins—her principal attraction for thousands of
tourists. The Forum Romanum described by Hawthorne and Howells as a
cow-pasture, broken by the protruding tops of buried columns, has
been carefully excavated, and the rubbish cleared away down to the
original floor of the Basilica Julia, commenced by Julius Cæsar and
completed by Augustus. The boundaries of this, which was both Law
Court and Exchange, are minutely defined in the will of Augustus, and
the measurements have been verified by classic archæologists. The
Forum, as now laid bare, is a sunken plain with steep sides, divided
into two unequal parts by a modern street crossing it. Under this
elevated causeway, one passes through an arch of substantial masonry
from the larger division—containing the Comitium, Basilica Julia,
Temple of Castor and Pollux, site of Temple of Vesta and the column of
Phocas—Byron’s “nameless column with the buried base,” now exposed down
to the lettered pedestal—into the smaller enclosure, flanked by the
Tabularium on which is built the modern Capitol. On a level with the
Etruscan foundation-stones of this are the sites of the Tribune and the
Rostrum—fragments of colored marble pavement on which Cicero stood when
declaiming against Catiline, eight majestic pillars, the remains of the
Temple of Saturn, three that were a part of the Temple of Vespasian,
and the arch of Septimius Severus. Upon the front of the latter is
still seen the significant erasure made by Caracalla, of his brother
Geta’s name, after the latter had fallen by his—Caracalla’s—hand. Near
the mighty arch is a conical heap of earth and masonry, which was the
Golden Milestone, the centre of Rome and of the world.

There were not many days in the course of that idyllic winter that
did not see some of us in the Forum. We haunted it early and late;
alighting for a few minutes, _en route_ for other places, to run down
the slight wooden stair leading from the street-level, to verify to our
complete satisfaction some locality about which we had read or heard,
or studied since yesterday’s visit. Or coming, with books and children,
when the Tramontana was blowing up and down every street in the city,
and we could find no other nook so sheltered and warm as the lee of
the wall where once ran the row of butchers’ stalls, from one of which
Virginius snatched the knife to slay his daughter. My favorite seat was
upon the site of the diminutive Temple of Julius Cæsar (_Divus Julius_)
the first reared in Rome in honor of a mortal. The remnants of the
green-and-white pavement show where lay the body of great Cæsar when
Mark Antony delivered his funeral oration, and where Tiberius performed
the like pious office over the bier of Augustus.

The Via Sacra turns at this point, losing itself in one direction in
the bank, which is the limit of the excavation, winding in the other
through the centre of the exposed Forum, up to the Capitol foundations.
Horace was here persecuted by the bore whose portrait is as true to
life now as it was then. Dux read the complaint aloud to us once, with
telling effect, substituting “Broadway” for the ancient name. Cicero
sauntered along this fashionable promenade as a young man waiting
for clients; trod these very stones with the assured step of the
successful advocate and famous orator, and upon them dripped the blood
from his severed hand and head, and the tongue pierced by Fulvia’s
bodkin. Beyond the transversing modern street is a mound, once a
judgment-seat. There Brutus sat, his face an iron mask, while his sons
were scourged and beheaded before his eyes. In the Comitium was the
renowned statue of the she-wolf, now in the Capitoline Museum, which
was struck by lightning at the moment of Cæsar’s murder in Pompey’s
Theatre. Cæsar passed by this way on the Ides of March from his house
over there—the Regia—where were enacted the mysteries of the Bona
Dea when Pompeia, Calphurnia’s predecessor, admitted Clodius to the
forbidden rites. The soothsayer who cried out to him may have loitered
in waiting by the hillock, which is all that is left of Vesta’s Fane,
where were kept the sacred geese.

Boy knew each site and meant no disrespect to the “potent, grave,
and reverend” heroes who used to pace the ancient street, while
entertaining himself by skipping back and forth its entire length so
far as it is uncovered, “telling himself a story.” He was always happy
when thus allowed to run and murmur, a trick begun by the time he could
walk. Content in this knowledge, the Invaluable sat upon the steps of
the Basilica Julia, knitting in hand, guarding a square aperture near
the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the one danger (to Boy) in the Forum.
For, looking into it, one saw the rush of foul waters below hurrying
to discharge themselves through the Cloaca Maxima—built by Numa
Pompilius—into the Tiber. Here, it is said, yawned the gulf into which
Curtius leaped, armed and mounted.

“A quagmire, drained and filled up by an enterprising street contractor
of that name,” says Caput, to whom this and a score of other treasured
tales of those nebulously olden times are myths with a meaning.

While I rested apart in my sunny corner, and watched the august wraiths
trooping past, or pretended to read with eyes that did not see the
book on my knees, Boy’s “story-telling” drifted over to me in rhymical
ripples:

    “On rode they to the Forum,
     While laurel-wreaths and flowers
     From house-tops and from windows
     Fell on their crests in showers.
     When they drew nigh to Vesta,
     They vaulted down amain,
     And washed their horses in the well
     That springs by Vesta’s fane.”...

Or—

    “And they made a molten image,
     And set it up on high,
     And there it stands unto this day
     To witness if I lie.
     It stands in the Comitium,
     Plain for all folk to see—
     Horatius in his harness
     Halting upon one knee.”

“Where is it now, Mamma? And Horatius? and the Great Twin Brethren—and
the rest of them?”

“Are gone, my darling!”



CHAPTER XV.

_On Christmas-Day._


ON Christmas-Day, we went, _via_ the Coliseum, for a long drive in the
Campagna. The black cross, at the foot of which many prayers have been
said for many ages, has disappeared from the centre of the arena. It
was necessary to take it down in the course of the excavations that
have revealed the subterranean cells whose existence was unsuspected
until lately. These are mere pits unroofed by the removal of the floor
of the amphitheatre, and in winter are half-full of water left by the
overflow of the Tiber and the autumnal rains. The abundant and varied
Flora of the Coliseum, including more than three hundred different wild
flowers and such affluence of foliage as might almost be catalogued in
the terms used to describe the botanical lore of the philosopher-king
of Israel: “Trees from the cedar that is in Lebanon, even unto the
hyssop that springeth out of the wall,”—all these have been swept away
by the unsparing hand of Signore Rosa, the superintendent to whom the
care of the ruins of the old city has been committed. To the artistic
eye, the Coliseum and other structures have suffered irretrievable
damage through the measures which, he asserts, are indispensable to
their preservation. We who never saw the rich fringe of ilex and ivy
that made “the outside wall with its top of gigantic stones, seem like
a mountain-barrier of bare rock, enclosing a green and varied valley,”
forget to regret our loss in congratulating ourselves that filth has
been cleared away with the evergreen draperies. Despite the pools of
stagnant water now occupying half of the vast circle enclosed by the
scraped and mended walls, the Coliseum is not one-tenth as dangerous to
the health of him who whiles away a noontide hour there, or threads the
corridors by moonlight as when it was far more picturesque.

The sunlight of this Christmas-Day lay peacefully upon and within the
walls, as we walked around the circular arcades, and paused in the
centre of the floor, looking up to the seats of honor—(the podium)
reserved, on the day of dedication, for Titus, his family, the Senate,
and the Vestal Virgins. When, according to Merrivale, “the capacity of
the vast edifice was tested by the slaughter of five thousand animals
in its circuit.”

The site was a drained lake in the gardens of Nero. His colossal statue
used to stand upon the little pile of earth on the other side of the
street. Twelve thousand captive Jews were overworked to their death
in building the mighty monument to the destroyer of Jerusalem. After
describing the dedicatory pageant and its items of battles between
cranes and pigmies, and of gladiators with women, and a sea-fight for
which the arena was converted into a mimic lake, the historian adds:
“When all was over, Titus himself was seen to weep, perhaps from
fatigue, possibly from vexation and disgust.”

If the last-named emotions had any share in the reactionary hysteria
characterized as “effeminate” by his best friends, his successors did
not profit by the lesson. Hadrian slaughtered, on a birth-day frolic in
the Coliseum, one thousand wild beasts, not to mention less valuable
human beings. The prudent Augustus forbade the entrance of the noble
classes into the arena as combatants, and to avoid a hustle of death,
decreed that not more than sixty pairs of gladiators should be engaged
at one time in the fashionable butchery. Commodus had no such scruples
on the subject of caste or humanity. His imperial form bound about with
a lion’s skin, his locks bedusted with gold, he fought repeatedly upon
the bloody sands, killing his man—he being both emperor and beast—in
every encounter. Ignatius—reputed to have been one of the children
blessed by Our Lord—uttered here his last confession of faith:

“I am as the grain of the field, and must be ground by the teeth of the
lions, that I may become bread fit for HIS table.”

The Christians sought the deserted Coliseum by stealth, that night, to
gather the few bones the lions had left. Some of these, his friends,
may have been among the one hundred and fifteen “obstinates” drawn
up upon the earth scarcely dried from the blood of Ignatius, a line
of steady targets for the arrows of skilled bowmen—a kind of archery
practice in high favor with Roman clubs just then.

The life-blood that followed the arrow-thrust was a safe and rapid
stream to float the soul into harbor. One hour of heaven were worth
all the smiting, and thrusting, and tearing, and _theirs_ have been
centuries of bliss. But our hearts ached with pain and sympathy
inexpressible in the Coliseum, on that Christmas-Day. There is poetic
beauty and profound spiritual significance in the churchly fable that
Gregory the Great pressed fresh blood from a handful of earth taken
from the floor of the amphitheatre.

    “While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand;
     When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall—
     And when Rome falls—the world!”

Thus runs the ancient prophecy.

Plundering cardinals and thrifty popes had never heard the saying, or
were strangely indifferent to the fate of their empire and globe for
four hundred years of spoliation and desecration. Cardinal Farnese
built his palace out of the marble casings. It is amazing even to
those who have inspected the massive walls cemented by mortar as hard
as the stones it binds together, that the four thousand men appointed
to tear down and bear off in twelve hours the materials needed for
the Farnese palace, did not demolish or impair the solidity of the
whole structure. After abortive attempts on the part of sundry popes
to utilize the building by turning the corridors into bazaars and
establishing manufactories of woolen goods and saltpetre in the central
space, the place was left to quiet decay and religious rites. Clement
XI. consecrated it to the memory of the faithful disciples who perished
there “for Christ’s sake.” Stations were appointed in the arcades, the
black cross was set up and indulgences granted to all believers who
would say a prayer at its foot for the rest of the martyrs’ souls.
Masses were said every Friday afternoon, each station visited in
turn with chant and prayer, and then a sermon preached by a Capuchin
friar. Vines thickened and trees shot upward from tier and battlement,
night-birds hooted in the upper shades, thieves and lazzaroni prowled
below. Dirt and miasma marked the sacred precincts for their own. We
can but be grateful that the march of improvement, begun when the
Italian troops entered Rome in 1870 through the breach near the Porta
Pia, has reached the Coliseum, cleansing and strengthening, although
not beautifying it.

About midway between the Forum and Coliseum we had passed—as no Jew
ever does—under the Arch of Titus. It spans the Via Sacra, leading
right on from the southern gate of the city through the Forum to the
Capitol. The pavement of huge square blocks of lava is the same on
which rolled, joltingly in their springless chariots, the conquerors
returning in triumph with such griefful captives in their train as
are sculptured upon the inside of this arch. The Goths, the Middle
Ages, and the Popes (or their nephews), dealt terrible blows at the
procession of Jewish prisoners, bearing the seven-branched candlestick,
the table of shew-bread, and the golden trumpets of the priests. Arms
and legs are missing, and features sadly marred. But drooping heads and
lax figures, and the less mutilated faces express the utter dejection,
the proud but hopeless humiliation of the band who left their happier
countrymen dead by famine, crucifixion, the sword and fire, in the
ashes of their city.

A rod or two further, and we were in the Via Appia.

“In that vineyard,” said I, pointing to a rickety gate on our left,
“are the remains of the Porta Capena, where the surviving Horatius met
and killed his sister as she bewailed the death of her lover, the last
of the Curatii. Her brother presented himself to her wearing the cloak
she had embroidered for and given to her betrothed.”

“The whole story is a highly figurative history of a war between
the Romans and Albans,” began Caput, mildly corrective. “The best
authorities are agreed that Horatii and Curatii are alike mythical.”

I should have been vexed upon any other day. Had I not seen, beyond the
fifth milestone on this very road, the tombs of the six combatants? Had
not my girlish heart stood still with awe when Rachel, as Camille, fell
dead upon the stage beneath the steel of her irate brother?

I did say—I _hope_, temperately—“Cicero was welcomed at the Porta
Capena, by the Senate and people, on his return from banishment, B. C.
57. That is, if there was ever such a man as Cicero!”

The Baths of Caracalla; the tombs of the Scipios; the Columbaria of
the Freedmen of Augustus; the Catacombs of St. Sebastian and of St.
Calixtus—are situate upon the Appian Way. Each should have its visit in
turn. Any one of them was, in speculators’ slang, “too big a thing” for
one Christmas forenoon. We were on pure pleasure bent—not in bondage
to Baedeker. A quarter of a mile from the road, still to our left, the
ground falls away into a cup-like basin, holding the Fountain of Egeria
enshrined in a grove of dark ilex-trees. A couple of miles further, and
we passed through the Gate of San Sebastian, supported by two towers
in fair preservation. We were still within the corporate limits of
Old Rome. At this gate welcoming processions from the city met those
who returned to her in triumphal pomp, or guests, to whom the Senate
decreed extraordinary honors. A little brook runs across the road at
the bottom of the next hill, and, just beyond it, is the ruined tomb of
the murdered Geta. At a fork in the highway near this is a dirty little
church, set down so close to the road that the mud from passing wheels
has spattered the front. Here, according to the legend, Peter, fleeing
from Nero’s persecution, met his Lord with His face toward the city.

“Lord! whither goest Thou?” exclaimed the astonished apostle.

“I go to Rome to be again crucified!” answered the Master.

Peter, taking the vision as a token that he should not shrink from
martyrdom, returned to Rome.

The chapel—it is nothing more—of “Domine quo vadis” commemorates the
interview. We stepped from the carriage upon the broken threshold, and
tried the locked door. A priest as slovenly as the building unclosed
it. Directly opposite the entrance is a plaster cast of Michael
Angelo’s statue of Our Saviour in the act of addressing Peter. The
foot extended in the forward step has been almost kissed away by
pilgrims. On the right wall is a fresh and flashy, yet graphic fresco
of the Lord, walking swiftly toward Rome; upon the left kneels the
conscience-smitten Peter. Between them, upon the floor, secured by
a grating from the abrading homage of the vulgar, is a copy of the
footprints left upon the rock at the spot where the meeting took place.
The original is in the church of San Sebastiano. The marble is stained
with yellowish blotches. The impression is coarsely cut; the conception
is yet coarser. Two brawny, naked feet, enormous in size, plebeian
in shape, are set squarely and straight, side by side, as no living
man would stand of his own accord. The impudence of these priestly
relics would be contemptible only, were the subjects less sacred.
We turned away from the “fac-simile” in sad disgust. The legend had
been a favorite with us both. We were sorry we had entered the mouldy
little barn. The offer of the sacristan to sell us beads, medals, and
photographs was in keeping with the rest of the show. We gave him a
franc; plucked from the cracked door-stone a bit of pellitory—_herba
parietina_, the sobriquet given to Trajan in derision of his habit of
writing his name upon much which he had not built—and returned to our
carriage.

The way is bordered, until one reaches the tomb of Cæcilia Metella by
vineyard and meadow walls. Most of the stones used in building these
were collected from the ancient pavement, or the _débris_ of fortresses
and tombs that encumbered this. Imbedded in the mortar, and often
defaced by clots and daubs of it, put in beside common rubble-stones
and sherds of tufa, are many sculptured fragments. Here, the corner of
a richly-carved capital projects from the surface; there, a cluster of
flowers, with a serpent stealing out of sight among the leaves. Now, a
baby’s head laughs between lumps of travertine or granite; next comes a
part of a gladiator’s arm, or the curve of a woman’s neck. The ivy is
luxuriantly aggressive and of a species we had never seen elsewhere,
gemmed with glossy, saffron-colored berries. “Wee, crimson-tippéd”
daisies mingled with grass that is never sere. In March we found
anemones of every hue; pink and white cyclamen; wild violets, at once
diffusive and retentive of odor, embalming gloves, handkerchiefs, and
the much-thumbed leaves of our guide-books; reddish-brown wall-flowers,
and hosts of other “wild” blossoms on this road. The dwelling-houses we
passed were rude, slight huts, hovels of reeds and straw, often reared
upon the foundation of a tomb.

For this Way of Triumph was also the Street of Tombs. Sepulchres, or
their ruins, are scattered on every side. We looked past them, where
there occurred a break in the road-wall over the billowing Campagna,
the arches of ancient and modern aqueducts dwindling into cobweb-lines
in the hazy distance; above them at the Sabine and Alban hills, newly
capped with snow, while Spring smiled warmly upon the plains at their
base. We alighted at the best-known of these homes of the dead, not
many of which hold the ashes that gave them names.

Hawthorne describes it in touches few and masterly. “It is built of
great blocks of hewn stone on a vast square foundation of rough,
agglomerated material, such as composes the mass of all the other
ruinous tombs. But, whatever might be the cause, it is in a far
better state of preservation than they. On its broad summit rise the
battlements of a mediæval fortress, out of the midst of which grow
trees, bushes, and thick festoons of ivy. This tomb of a woman has
become the dungeon-keep of a castle, and all the care that Cæcilia
Metella’s husband could bestow to secure endless peace for her belovèd
relics only sufficed to make that handful of precious ashes the nucleus
of battles long ages after her death.”

The powerful family of the Gaetani added the battlements that tooth
the top of the enormous tower, when they made it their château and
fortress in the thirteenth century. The ruins of their church are close
to the walls. We paid a trifling fee for the privilege of entering the
court-yard of the Tomb where there was nothing to see, and for peeping
into the ruinous cellar, once the “cave” where “treasure lay, so
locked, so hid”—the sarcophagus about which all these stone swathings
were wound as layers of silk and wool about a costly jewel. The empty
marble coffin is in a Roman museum. A public-spirited pope ripped off
the sculptured casing of the exterior that he might build the Fountain
of Trevi. It would be as futile to seek for this woman’s ashes as for
those of Wickliffe after the Avon had carried them out to sea.

The dreary road-walls terminate here, but the survey of the tombs
diverts the attention from the views of Campagna and mountains. They
must have formed an almost continuous block of buildings for miles.
The foundations may be traced still, and about these are remnants of
the statues and symbolic ornaments that gave them individuality and
beauty. The figure which occurred most frequently was that of a man in
the dress of a Roman citizen, the arm laid over the breast to hold the
toga in place and fold. Most of the heads were missing, and usually
the legs, but the torso had always character, sometimes beauty, in it.
There were hundreds of them here once, probably mounted sentinel-wise
at the doors of the tombs, changeless effigies of men who had been, who
were now a pinch of dust, preserved in a sealed urn for fear the wind
might take them away.

There is a so-called “restored” tomb near the “fourth mile-stone.” A
bas-relief, representing a murder, is let into a brick façade.

“The tomb of Seneca!” said our _cocchière_, confidently.

“Dubious!” commented the genius of wary common sense upon the front
seat. “If he _was_ put to death by Nero’s officers near the fourth
mile-stone, is it probable that he was interred on the spot?”

The driver held to his assertion, and I got out to pick daisies and
violets growing in the shelter of the ugly red-brick front—there was
no back,—souvenirs that lie to-day, faded but fragrant, between the
leaves of my Baedeker. Nearly opposite to the round heaps of turf-grown
rubbish with solid basement walls, “supposed to be the tombs of the
Horatii and Curatii,” across the road and a field, are the ruins of
the Villa of Commodus. He wrested this pleasant country-seat from two
brothers, who were the Naboths of the coveted possession. Conduits have
been dug out from the ruins, stamped with their names, and convicting
him mutely but surely of the theft charged upon him by contemporaries.
He and his favorite Marcia were sojourning here when the house was
“mobbed” by a deputation, several thousand in number, sent from Rome
to call him to account for his misdeeds. He pacified them measurably
by throwing from an upper window the head of Cleander, his obnoxious
premier, and beating out the brains of that official’s child. The
Emperor’s Coliseum practice made such an evening’s work a mere
bagatelle.

Six miles from Rome is the Rotondo, believed to have been the family
mausoleum of a poet-friend of Horace, Massala Corvinus. It is
larger than the tomb of the “wealthiest Roman’s wife,” but not so
well-preserved. A miserable wine-shop was in the court-yard, and we
paid the mistress half-a-franc for permission to mount a flight of
easy steps to the summit. Upon the flat roof, formed by the flooring
of the upper story, the walls of which are half gone, olive-trees have
taken root and overhang the sides. The eye swept the Campagna for
miles, followed the Via Appia, stretched like a white ribbon between
grassy slopes and sepulchre-ruins, back into Rome and onward to Albano.
A faintly-tinged haze brought the mountains nearer, instead of hiding
them—purpled the thymy dells between the swells of the far-reaching
prairies. Flocks of sheep browsed upon these, attended by shepherds and
dogs. A party of English riders cantered by from Rome, the blue habit
and scarlet plume of the only lady equestrian made conspicuous by the
white road and green banks. Near and far, the course of the ancient
highway was defined by masses of masonry in ruins, some overgrown
by herbs, vines, and even trees, but most of them naked to the sun
and wind. These have not been the destroyers of the tombs. On the
contrary, the uncovered foundations are hardened by the action of the
elements, until bricks are as unyielding as solid marble and cement is
like flint. Nature and neglect are co-workers, whose operations upon
buildings raised by man, are far less to be feared in this than in
Northern climates. The North, that let loose her brutish hordes upon a
land so much fairer than their own that their dull eyes could not be
tempted by her beauty except to wanton devastation. They were grown-up
children who battered the choicest and most delicate objects for the
pleasure of seeing and hearing the crash.

“Some day,” said Caput, wistful lights in the eyes that looked far away
to where the road lost itself in the blue hills—“Some day, I mean to
drive all the way to the Appii Forum, and follow St. Paul’s track back
to the city.”

He brought out his pocket Testament, and, amid the broken walls, the
shadows of the olive-boughs flickering upon the page, we read how
the Great Apostle longed to “see Rome,” yet knowing that bonds and
imprisonment awaited him wherever he went—the Rome he was never to quit
as a free man, and where he was to leave a multitude of witnesses to
his fidelity and the living power of the Gospel, of which he was an
ambassador in bonds. Thence we passed to the few words describing his
journey and reception:

“We came the next day unto Puteoli, where we found brethren, and were
desired to tarry with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. And
from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far
as Appii Forum and the Three Taverns. Whom, when Paul saw, he thanked
GOD and took courage.”

For some miles the Way has been cleared down to the ancient pavement.
It was something to see the stones over which St. Paul had walked.

We took St. Peter’s in our drive home. When one is used to the
immensity of its spaces, has accommodated his imagination comfortably
to the aisle-vistas and the height of the ceilings, St. Peter’s is the
most restful temple in Rome. The equable temperature—never cold in
winter, never hot in summer; the solemn quiet of a vastness in which
the footfalls upon the floor die away with out echo, and the sound of
organ and chant from one of the many chapels only stirs a musical throb
which never swells into reverberation; the subdued light—all contribute
to the sense of grateful tranquillity that allures one to frequent
visits and slow, musing promenades within the magnificent Basilica.
Madame de Staël says in one line what others have failed to express in
pages of labored rhetoric:

“_L’Architecture de St. Pierre est une musique fixée._”

Listening with all our souls, we strolled up one side of the church
past the bronze Image, in appearance more Fetish than saint. A statue
of Jupiter was melted down to make it. The frown of the Thunderer still
contracts the brows that seem to find the round of glory, spoked like
a wheel, too heavy. The projecting toe, often renewed, bright as a new
brass kettle from the attrition of kisses, rests upon a pedestal five
feet, at least, from the floor. Men can conveniently touch it with
their lips. Short women stand on tiptoe, and children are lifted to it.
Each wipes it carefully before kissing, a ceremony made necessary by a
popular trick of the Roman _gamins_. They watch their chance to anoint
the holy toe with damp red pepper, then hide behind a column to note
the effect of the next osculation. At the Jubilee of Pius IX., June 16,
1871, they dressed the hideous black effigy in pontifical vestments,
laced and embroidered to the last degree of gorgeousness, and fastened
the cope of cloth-of-gold with a diamond brooch!

The _baldacchino_, or canopy, built above the high altar and
overshadowing the tomb of St. Peter, is of gilded bronze that once
covered the roof of the Pantheon,—another example of popely thrift.
Beneath, yawns an open crypt, lined with precious marbles and gained by
marble stairs. Upon the encompassing balustrade above is a circle of
ever-burning golden lamps, eighty-six in number. Pius VI. (in marble by
Canova) kneels forever, as he requested in his will, before the closed
door of St. Peter’s tomb, below.

“I wish I could believe that Peter’s bones are there!” Caput broke a
long thought-laden pause, given to silent gazing upon the kneeling
form. “Roman Catholic historians say that an oratory was erected here
above his remains, A.D. 90. The circus of Nero was hereabouts. The
chapel was in honor of the thousands who died a martyr’s death in his
reign, as well as to mark the spot of Peter’s burial. In the days of
Constantine, a Basilica superseded the humble chapel, at which date St.
Peter’s bones were encased in a bronze sarcophagus. Five hundred years
afterward, the Saracens plundered the Basilica. Did they take Peter—if
he were ever here—or in Rome at all? Or, did they spare his bones
when they carried off the gilt-bronze coffin and inner casket of pure
silver?”

Another silence.

“The Basilica and tomb were here when English Ethelwolf brought his boy
Alfred to Rome,” I said aloud.

“But the Popes did their will upon it afterward. Pulled down and built
up at the bidding of caprice and architects until not one of the
original stones was left upon another. After two centuries of this sort
of work—or play—the present church was planned and was one hundred and
seventy-odd years in building. I hope Peter’s bones were cared for in
the squabble. I should like to believe it!”

We looked for a long minute more at the praying pope. _He_ believed it
so much as to desire to kneel there, with clasped hands and bowed head,
awaiting through the coming cycles the opening of the sealèd door.

Wanderings in and out of stately chapels ensued, until we had enough of
dead popes, marble and bronze.

The surname of Pope Pignatella, signifying “little cream-jug,”
suggested to the sculptor the neat conceit of mingling sundry
cream-pots with other ornaments of his tomb.

Gregory XIII., he of the Gregorian calendar, is an aged man, invoking
the benediction of Heaven upon whomsoever it may concern, while Wisdom,
as Minerva, and Faith hold a tablet inscribed—“_Novi opera hujus et
fidem_.”

Urban VIII., the patron of Bernini, is almost forgiven by those who
have sickened over the countless and cruel devices of his _protégé_
when one beholds his master-piece of absurdity in his sovereign’s tomb.
The pontiff, in the popular attitude of benediction, towers above the
black marble coffin, in charge of Prudence and Justice,—the drapery of
the latter evidently a decorous afterthought,—while a very airy gilded
skeleton is writing, with a _dégagé_ air, the names and titles of Urban
upon an obituary list. The Barberini bees crawl over the monument, as
busily officious and in as bad taste as was Bernini himself.

Pius VII., the prisoner-Pope of Napoleon I., is there—a mild old man,
looking as if he had suffered and forgiven much—sitting dreamily, or
drowsily, in a chair, and kept in countenance by Courage and Faith.

Innocent VIII. sleeps, like a tired man, upon his sarcophagus, while
his animated Double is enthroned above it, one hand, of course,
extended in blessing, the other holding a copy of the sacred lance that
pierced the Saviour’s side, presented to him by Bajazet, and by the
pope to St. Peter’s.

More interesting to us than these and the tiresome array of the many
other pontifical and prelatical personages, was the arch near the
front door of the Basilica, which covers the remains of the last of
the Stuarts. Canova carved the memorial-stone of James III. (the
Pretender), his sons, Charles Edward (the Young Pretender), and
Henry, who,—with desperate fidelity worthy of a better cause, wearied
out by the successive failures and misfortunes of his race,—gave
himself wholly to the Church, devotion to which had cost his father
independence, happiness, and England. Henry Stuart died, as we read
here, Cardinal York. Marie Clementine Sobieski, wife of James III.,
named upon the tablet, “Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland,”
who never set foot within the British Empire,—completes the family
group. It is said the expenses of these testimonials were defrayed by
the then reigning House of Hanover. It could well afford to do it.

In a chapel at the left of the entrance is a mammoth font of dark-red
porphyry which has a remarkable—I can hardly say, in view of cognate
facts—a singular history. It is the inverted cover of Hadrian’s
sarcophagus. Having rested within its depths longer than his life had
entitled him to do, this Emperor was ejected and Otho III. took his
place. In due season, a pope of a pious and practical turn of mind
ousted Otho, and transferred the lid of the coffin to its present
place. The bronze fir-cone from the top of the mausoleum of Hadrian,
now the Castle of San Angelo, is a prominent ornament in the gardens of
the Vatican. Near it are two bronze peacocks, the birds of Juno, from
the porch of the same edifice.

“Entirely and throughout consistent,” said Caput, caustically.

“I beg your pardon! Did you address me, sir?” asked a startled voice.

The Traveling American was upon us. Pater Familias, moreover, to the
sanguine young people who had attacked systematically, Baedeker, Murray
and Forbes in hand—the opposite chapel, the gem of which is Michael
Angelo’s _Pietà_—the Dead Christ upon his mother’s knees. We recognized
our interlocutor. A very worthy gentleman, an enterprising and opulent
citizen of the New World, whom we had met, last week, in the _salon_
of a friend. He was making, he had informed a listening circle,
“the grand Eu_ro_pean tour for the third time, now, for educational
purposes, having brought his boys and girls along. A thing few of our
country-people have money and brains to undertake!”

“I was saying”—explained Caput, “that the Popes have done more toward
the destruction of the monuments of pagan Rome than barbarians and
centuries combined. I lose patience and temper when I see what they
have ‘consecrated’ to the use of their Church. Vandalism is an insipid
word to employ in this connection.”

Pater Familias put out one foot; lifted a hortatory hand.

“I have learned to cast such considerations behind me, sir!
Anachronisms do not trouble me. Nor solecisms, except in artistic
execution. I travel with a purpose—that of self-improvement and the
foundation, in the bosoms of my family, of true principles of art,
the cultivation of the instinct of the beautiful in their souls and
in mine. Despising the statistical, and, to a certain degree, the
historical, as things of slight moment, I rise into the region of
the purely æsthetic. For example:” The hortatory hand pointed to the
opposite arch, within which is a gorgeous modern copy, in mosaic, of
Raphael’s “Transfiguration.” “For example, pointing to that inimitable
masterpiece, I say to my children—‘Do not examine into the ingredients
of the pigments staining the canvas, nor criticise, anatomically, the
structure of the figures. But catch, if you can, the spirit and tone of
the whole composition. Behold, recognize, and make your own the very
soul and mood, the inspiration of _Michael Angelo_!’”

Caput drew out his watch.

“Do you know, my dear,” he said, plaintively, “that it is an hour past
our luncheon-time?”

At the bottom of the gentle incline leading from the church-door into
the wide Piazza di San Piétro, we stopped for breath and composure.

Caput grew serious in turning to survey the façade of the Basilica,
with the guard of saints and their Master upon the balustrade; the
Dome, light in semblance as the clouds swimming in summer languor
above it, strong as Soracte; the sweep of the colonnades to the right
and left, “with the holy ones walking upon their roofs;” the Obelisk of
Heliopolis in the centre of the Court and its flashing fountains—the
heaven of rich, tender blue—

“That man has crossed the ocean three times to behold all this!” he
said. “He can bring his rabble of children to see it with him. While
men who could enter the arcana of whose mysteries he prattles; to whom
the life he is leading would be like a walk through Paradise—are tied
down to desk and drugs and country parishes! That these things exist is
a tough problem!”

We told the story, leaving the pathetic enigma out of sight, over our
Christmas-dinner, that evening. My Florentine angel of mercy, her
brothers and sister, were our guests. Mince and pumpkin pies were
not to be thought of, much less obtained here. But our Italian cook
had under my eye, stuffed and roasted a turkey, the best we could
buy in the poultry-shop just around the corner from the Pantheon. I
did not spoil my friends’ appetites by describing the manner of its
“taking-off” which may, however, interest poultry-fanciers. I wanted
a larger bird than any displayed by the turkey-vender, and he bade me
return in fifteen minutes, when he would have just what I desired.

We gave half an hour to a ramble around the square surrounding the
Pantheon, the most nearly perfect pagan building in Rome. Urban VIII.
abstracted nearly five hundred thousand pounds of gilt bronze from
portico and dome, to be wrought into the twisted columns of St. Peter’s
baldacchino, and into cannon for the defence of that refuge for scared
and hunted popes—the Castle of San Angelo. In recompense for the
liberty he had taken with the Temple of all the Gods, he added, by
the hand of his obsequious architect, the comical little towers like
mustard-pots, known to the people as the “asses’ ears of Bernini.”
Another pope, one of the Benedicts, offered no apology in word or deed,
for pulling off the rare old marbles facing the inner side of the dome,
and using them for the adornment of churches and palaces.

But to our turkey! The merchant had him well in hand when we got back.
He had tied a stout twine tightly around the creature’s neck, and while
it died by slow strangulation, held it fast between his knees and
stripped off the feathers from the palpitating body. All our fowls came
to us with this twine necklace knotted about the gullet, and all had a
trick of shrinking unaccountably in cooking.

“He is a-swellin’ wisibly before my eyes!” quoted Caput from the elder
Weller, as we gazed, horror-stricken, upon the operation.

The merchant laughed—the sweet, childish laugh of the Italian of
whatever rank, that showed his snowy teeth and brought sparkle to his
black eyes.

“Altro?” he said. “_Buono? Bon?_ Signora like ’im mooch?”

I tried not to remember how little I _had_ liked it when my guests
praised the brown, fat bird.

Canned cranberries and tomatoes we had purchased from Brown, the polite
English grocer in Via della Croce, who makes a specialty of “American
goods.” Nazzari, the Incomparable (in Rome), furnished the dessert.
Soup, fish, and some of the vegetables were essentially Italian, and
none the worse on that account.

There was a strange commingling and struggle of pain and pleasure in
that “make-believe” Christmas-at-home in a foreign land. It was a
new and fantastically-wrought link in a golden chain that ran back
until lost in the misty brightness of infancy. We gathered about
our parlor-fire, for which we had, with some difficulty, procured
a Yule-log of respectable dimensions; talked of loved and distant
ones and other days; said, with heart and tongue, “Heaven bless the
country we love the best, and the friends who, to-night, remember us
as we think of them!” We told funny stories, all we could remember, in
which the Average Briton and Traveling American figured conspicuously.
We laughed amiably at each other’s jokes. We planned days and weeks
of sight-seeing and excursions, waxed enthusiastic over the wealth
of Roman ruins, and declared ourselves more than satisfied with the
experiment of trans-ocean travel.

We were, or should be, on the morrow.

Now, between the eyes of our spirit and the storied riches of this
sunbright elysium, the Italia of kings, consuls, emperors, and
popes, glided visions of ice-bound rivers and snow-clad hills—of
red firesides and jocund frolic, and clan-gatherings, from near and
from far—of Christmas stockings, and Christmas trees, and Christmas
greetings—of ringing skates, making resonant moonlit nights, and the
tintinnabulations of sleigh-bells—of silent grave-yards, where the snow
was lying spotless and smooth.

Beneath laugh and jest, and graver talk of visions fulfilled, and
projects for future enjoyment—underlying all these was a slow-heaving
main, hardly repressed—an indefinable, yet exquisite, heart-ache very
far down.



CHAPTER XVI.

_L’Allegro and Il Penseroso._


THERE is music by the best bands in Rome upon the Pincian Hill on
Sabbath afternoons. Sitting at the window of our tiny library,
affecting to read or write, my eyes wandered continually to the lively
scene beyond. My fingers were beating time to the waltzes, overtures,
and marches that floated over the wall and down the terraces—over the
orange and camellia-trees, the pansy and violet-beds, and lilac-bushes
in the court-yard, the pride of our handsome _portiere’s_ heart—up to
my Calvinistic ears. Drive and promenade were in full and near view,
and up both streamed, for two hours, a tossing tide of carriages and
pedestrians. It would flow down in variegated billows when the sun
should paint the sky behind St. Peter’s golden-red. Resigning even the
pretence of occupation by-and-by, I used to lie back in my easy-chair,
my feet upon the fender, hemming in the wood-fire we never suffered to
go out, and, watching the pleasure-making on the hill, dream until I
forgot myself and the age in which I lived.

At the foot of the Pincio, which now overtops the other hills of Rome,
beside the Porta del Popolo, or People’s Gate, are the convent and
church of S. Augustine. In the former, Luther dwelt during his stay in
the city of his love and longing. At this gate he prostrated himself
and kissed the earth in a passion of delight and thankfulness. In
the church he celebrated his first mass in Rome, and just before his
departure, soon after the change of feeling and purpose which befell
him upon the Sacred Staircase, he performed here his last service as a
priest of the Romish Church.

S. Augustine’s was raised upon the site of the tomb of Nero—a spot
infested, according to tradition, for hundreds of years, by flocks of
crows, who built, roosted, and cawed in the neighboring trees, becoming
in time such a nuisance as to set one of the popes to dreaming upon
the subject. In a vision, it was revealed to him that these noisy
rooks were demons contending for or exulting in the possession of
the soul of the wicked tyrant—a point on which there could have been
little uncertainty, even in the mind of a middle-ages pope. The trees
were leveled, and the birds, or devils, scared away by the hammers of
workmen employed upon a church paid for by penny collections among the
people. The Gate of the People owes its name to this circumstance.
Within the antique gateway, Christina of Sweden was welcomed to Rome
after her apostasy from Protestantism, cardinals and bishops and a long
line of sub-officials meeting her here in stately procession. It is
also known as the Flaminian Gate, opening as it does upon the famous
Flaminian Way. A side-road, branching off from this a few rods beyond
the walls, leads into and through the beautiful grounds of the Villa
Borghese.

Turning to the left, after entering the Porta del Popolo, one ascends
by a sinuous road the Pincio, or Hill of Gardens. Below lies the Piazza
del Popolo, the twin churches opposite the city-gate marking the
burial-place of Sylla. The red sandstone obelisk in the middle of the
square is from Heliopolis, and the oldest monument in Rome. The most
heedless traveler pauses upon the Pincian terraces to look down upon
“the flame-shaped column,” which, Merivale tells us, “was a symbol of
the sun, and originally bore a blazing orb upon its summit.” Hawthorne
reminds us yet more thrillingly that “this monument supplied one of
the recollections which Moses and the Israelites bore from Egypt into
the desert.” And so strong is the chain with which, in his “Marble
Faun,” this subtle and delicate genius has united the historical and
the imaginative, one recollects, in the same instant, that the parapet
by which he is standing is the one over which Kenyon and Hilda watched
the enigmatical pantomime of Miriam and the Model beside the “four-fold
fountain” at the base of the obelisk. Nowhere else in Rome is the
thoughtful traveler more tempted to borrow from this marvelous romance
words descriptive of scene and emotion than when he reaches the “broad
and stately walk that skirts the brow” of the Pincio. We read and
repeated the paragraph that, to this hour, brings the view to us with
the clearness and minuteness of a sun-picture, until it arose of itself
to our lips whenever we halted upon the outer edge of the semicircular
sweep of wall.

“Beneath them, from the base of the abrupt descent, the city spread
wide away in a close contiguity of red-earthen roofs, above which
rose eminent the domes of a hundred churches, besides here and there
a tower, and the upper windows of some taller, or higher situated
palace, looking down on a multitude of palatial abodes. At a distance,
ascending out of the central mass of edifices, they could see the
top of the Antonine column, and, near it, the circular roof of the
Pantheon, looking heavenward with its ever-open eye.”

“The very dust of Rome,” he writes again, “is historic, and inevitably
settles on our page and mingles with our ink.”

Thus, the Pincio—the gayest place in Rome on “music-afternoon,” and
one of the loveliest at all seasons and every day;—a modern garden,
with parterres of ever-green and ever-blooming roses; with modern
fountains and plantations, rustic summer-houses and play-grounds, all
erected and laid out—if Hare is to be credited—within twenty years, in
the “deserted waste where the ghost of Nero was believed to wander”
in the dark ages, had its story and its tragedy antedating the bloody
death and post-mortem peregrinations of him over whose grave the crows
quarrelled at the bottom of the hill. Other gardens smiled here when
Lucullus supped in the Hall of Apollo in his Pincian Villa with Cicero
and Pompey, and was served with more than imperial luxury. Here,
Asiaticus, condemned to die through the machinations of the wickedest
woman in Rome, who coveted ground and house, bled himself to death
after “he had inspected the pyre prepared for him in his own gardens,
and ordered it to be removed to another spot that an umbrageous
plantation which overhung it might not be injured by the flames.”

Here grew the tree up which climbed Messalina’s creature on the night
of her last and wildest orgy with her lover, and flung down the
warning—“I see an awful storm coming from Ostia!” The approaching
tempest was the injured husband, Claudius, the Emperor, whose swift
advance drove Messalina, half-drunken and half-clad, to a hiding-place
“in the shade of her gardens on the Pincio, the price of the blood of
the murdered Asiaticus.” There she died. “The hot blood of the wanton
smoked on the pavement of his garden, and stained, with a deeper hue,
the variegated marbles of Lucullus.”[B]

At the intersection of the two fashionable drives which constitute
“the round,”—a circuit that can be accomplished with ease in five
minutes—is an obelisk, also Egyptian, erected, primarily, upon the
Nile, by Hadrian and his Empress, in memory of the drowned Antinöus.

Urban VIII. left his mark and a memento of the inevitable Bernini on
the Pincio, in the Moses Fountain. It commands, through an artful
opening in the overhanging trees, an exquisitely lovely view of
St. Peter’s, framed in an arch of green. The fountain consists of
a circular basin, and, in the middle of this, Jochebed, the mother
of Moses, upon an island. She looks heavenward while she stoops to
extricate a hydrocephalus babe from a basket much too small for his
trunk and limbs, not to say the big head.

Caput’s criticism was professionally indignant.

“It is simply preposterous to fancy that a child with such an abnormal
cerebral development could ever have become a leader of armies or a
law-giver. The wretched woman naturally avoids the contemplation of the
monstrosity she has brought into the world.”

From that section of the Pincian Gardens overlooking the Borghese Villa
and grounds projects a portion of the ancient wall of Rome, that was
pronounced unsafe and ready to fall in the time of Belisarius. Being
miraculously held in place by St. Peter, there is now no real danger,
unsteady as it looks, that this end of the Pincio will give way under
the weight of the superincumbent wall, and plunge down the precipice
among the ilex-trees and stone-pines beneath. In the shadow of this
wall, tradition holds that blind Belisarius begged from the passers-by.

With the deepening glow of the sunset—

    “Flushing tall cypress-bough,
     Temple and tower”—

the Roman promenaders and riders flock homeward from Borghese and
Pincio. Foreigners, less familiar with the character of the unwholesome
airs and noxious dews of twilight, linger later until they learn
better. Mingling with the flood of black coats that poured down the
shorter ascent in sight of my windows were rills of scarlet and purple
that puzzled me for awhile. At length I made it my business to examine
them more closely from the parlor balcony in their passage through the
street at the front of the house.

“There go the _ganders_!” shouted Boy, who accompanied me to the
look-out.

“I should call them flamingoes?” laughed I.

The students in the Propaganda wear long gowns, black, red, or purple,
and broad-brimmed hats, each nationality having its uniform. The
members of each division take their “constitutional” at morning and
evening in a body, striding along with energy that sends their skirts
flapping behind them in a gale of their own making. They seldom missed
a band-afternoon upon the Pincio, and were a picturesque element in the
lively display. Boy’s name for them was an honest mispronunciation of a
polysyllable too big for him to handle. But I never saw them stalking
in a slender row across the Piazza di Spagna and up the hill without a
smile at the random shot. The name had a sort of aptness when fitted
to the sober youngsters whose deportment was solemn to grotesqueness
by contrast with the volatile crowd they threaded in their progress to
the pools of refreshment prescribed as a daily recreation—the fleeting
glimpses of the world outside of their pasture.

The gates of the avenues by which access is had to the gardens are
closed soon after sundown. No one is allowed to walk there after dark,
or remain there overnight. But theatres and other places of amusement
are open in the evening, the best operatic and dramatic entertainments
being reserved for Sunday night. We wearied soon of the bustle and
gayety of such Sabbath afternoons. We could not shut out from our
apartment the strains that seduced thought away from the books we
would fain study. The tramp and hum of the street were well-nigh as
bewildering. In the beginning, to avoid this—afterward, from love of
the place and the beauty and quiet that reign there, like the visible
benediction of the All-Father—we fell into the practice of driving out
every week to the Protestant Cemetery.

Boy was always one of the carriage-party. The streets were a continual
carnival to him on this, the Christian’s Lord’s Day, being alive with
mountebanks and strolling musicians. Behind the block in which were
our apartments was an open square, where a miniature circus was held
at least one Sabbath per month, it was said, for the diversion of the
boy-prince who is now the heir-apparent. In view of the fact that
_our_ heir-apparent was to be educated for Protestant citizenship in
America, we preferred for him, as for ourselves, Sabbath meditations
among the tombs to the divers temptations of the town—temptations not
to be shunned except by locking him up in a windowless closet and
stuffing his ears with cotton. The route usually selected, because it
was quietest on the holiday that drew the populace elsewhere, granted
us peeps at many interesting objects and localities.

In the vestibule of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin is the
once-noted Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth—a round, flat wheel,
like an overgrown grindstone set on edge, a gaping mouth in the centre.
The first time we visited it (it was _not_ on the Sabbath) the Average
Briton was before us, and affably volunteered an explanation of the
rude mask.

“You see, when a fellah was suspected of perjury—false swearing,
you know—he was brought heah and made to put his harnd in
those—ah!—confoundedly beastly jaws; when, if he had lied
or—ah!—prevaricated, you know, the mouth would shut upon his harnd,
and, in short, bit it off! The truth was, I farncy, that there was a
fellah behind there with a sword or cleaver, or something of that kind,
you know.”

Across the church square, which is adorned by a graceful fountain,
often copied in our country, is a small, circular Temple of Vesta,
dating back to the reign of Vespasian, if not to Pompey’s time. It is a
tiny gem of a ruin, if ruin it can be called. The interior is a chapel,
lighted by slits high in the wall. A row of Corinthian columns, but
one of them broken, surrounds it; a conical tiled roof covers it. This
heathen fane is a favorite subject with painters and photographers.
Near it is a much older building—the Temple of Fortune—erected by
Servius Tullius, remodeled during the Republic. Other houses have been
built into one side, and the spaces between the Ionic columns of the
other three been filled in with solid walls to make a larger chamber.
It is a church now, dedicated to St. Mary of Egypt.

An alley separates this from the House of Rienzi, the Last of the
Tribunes. The marble or stucco coating has peeled away from the
walls, but, near the eaves are fragments of rich sculpture. The Latin
inscription over the doorway has reference to the honors and might of
the ancient owners. Beyond these there is not a symptom of beauty or
grandeur about the ugly, rectangular homestead. The Tiber rolls near,
and its inundations have had much to do with the defacement of the
lower part of the house. The suspension-bridge which crosses the slow
yellow waters at this point, rests at one end upon piers built by
Scipio Africanus. From this bridge—the Ponte Rotto—the pampered body of
Heliogabalus was thrown into the river. Further down the stream are the
foundations of other piles, which have withstood current and freshet
for two thousand years. We always paused when opposite these. Boy knew
the point, and never wearied of hearing and telling—

    “How well Horatius kept the bridge
     In the brave days of old.”

Upon the thither bank were mustered the hosts who made Lars Porsenna “a
proud man” “upon the trysting-day.”

    “There lacked not men of prowess,
     Nor men of lordly race;
     For all Etruria’s noblest
     Were ’round the fatal place.”

From the same shore captive Clelia plunged into the river on horseback,
and swam over to the city. A short distance above our halting-place the
Cloaca Maxima, a huge, arched opening upon the brink, debouches into
the river, still doing service as the chief sewer of Rome.

Macaulay does well to tell us that the current of Father Tiber was
“swollen high by mouths of rain” when recounting the exploit of
Horatius Coccles. The ramparts from which the Romans frowned upon their
foes exist no longer, but the low-lying river gives no exalted estimate
of their altitude when

    “To the highest turret-tops
     Was splashed the yellow foam.”

“In point of fact,” as the Average Briton would say, the Tiber is
a lazy, muddy water-course, not half as wide, I should say, as the
Thames, and less lordly in every way. At its best, _i. e._, its
fullest, it is never grand or dignified; a sulky, unclean parent Rome
should be ashamed to claim.

“How dirty Horatius’ clothes must have been when he got out!” said
Boy, seriously, eying with strong disfavor the “tawny mane,” sleek to
oiliness in the calm afternoon light.

Dredging-boats moor fast to the massive piers of the Pons Sublicius,
better known to us as the Horatian Bridge. They were always at work
upon the oozy bed of the river, to what end, we could never discover.

The Monte Testaccio, a hill less than two hundred feet high, starts
abruptly out of the rough plain in front of the English Cemetery. It
is composed entirely of pot-sherds, broken crockery of all kinds,
covered with a slow accretion of earth thick enough to sustain scanty
vegetation. Why, when, and how, the extraordinary pile of refuse grew
into its present proportions, is a mystery. It is older than the
Aurelian wall in whose shelter nestles the Protestant burying-ground.

The custodian, always civil and obliging, learned to know and welcome
us by and by, and after answering our ring at the gate would say,
smilingly:—“You know the way!” and leave us to our wanderings. Boy had
permission to fill his cap with scarlet and white camellias which had
fallen from the trees growing in the ground and open air at mid-winter.
I might pick freely the violets and great, velvet-petaled pansies
covering graves and borders. When the guardian of the grounds bade
us “Good-day” at our egress, he would add to gentle chidings for the
smallness of my bouquet, a bunch of roses, a handful of double purple
violets or a spray of camellias. We were at home within the enclosure,
to us a little sanctuary where we could be thoughtful, peaceful—hardly
sad.

“It is enough to make one in love with death to think of sleeping in so
sweet a spot,” wrote Shelley.

“Strangers always ask first for Shelley’s tomb,” said the custodian.

It lies at the top of a steep path, directly against the hoary wall
where the ivy clings and flaunts, and the green lizards play in the
sunshine, so tame they scarcely stir or hide in the crevices as the
visitor’s shadow touches them.

      “PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY,
          COR CORDIUM.
      NATUS IV. AUG. MDCCXCII.
      OBIT VIII. JULY MDCCCXXI.
    Nothing of him that doth fade
    But doth suffer a sea-change
    Into something rich and strange.”

Leigh Hunt and Trelawney have made familiar the strange sequel of
a wild, strange life. Overtaken upon the Mediterranean by a sudden
squall, Shelley had hardly time to start from his lounging-place on
deck, and thrust into his jacket-pocket the copy of Keats’ Lamia he was
reading, when the yacht capsized. His body, with that of Williams, his
friend and fellow-voyager, was cast on shore by the waves several days
afterward, and burned in the presence of Byron, Trelawney, Hunt, and
others.

“Shelley, with his Greek enthusiasm, would not have been sorry to
foresee this part of his fate,” writes Hunt. Frankincense, wine and
spices, together with Keats’ volume found in his pocket, open at the
page he had been reading, were added to the flames.

“The yellow sand and blue sky were intensely contrasted with one
another,” continues the biographer. “Marble mountains touched the
air with coolness, and the flame of the fire bore away toward heaven
in vigorous amplitude, waving and quivering with a brightness of
inconceivable beauty. It seemed as though it contained the glassy
essence of vitality.”

Trelawney’s account of the ceremony is realistic and revolting. The
heart remained perfect amid the glowing embers, and Trelawney accredits
himself with the pious act of snatching it from the fire. It and the
ashes were sent to Rome for interment “in the place which he had so
touchingly described in recording its reception of Keats.”

On week-days, the little cemetery which we had to ourselves on Sabbath,
is a popular resort for travelers. Instead of the holy calm that to
us, had become one with the caressing sunlight and violet-breath,
the old wall gives back the chatter of shrill tongues and gruff
responses, as American women and English men trip and tramp along
the paths in haste to “do” this one of the Roman sights. We were by
Shelley’s tomb, one day, when a British matron approached, accompanied
by two pretty daughters or nieces. Murray was open in her hand at
“Burial-ground—English.”

“Ah, Shelley!” she cooed in the deep chest-voice affected by her class,
screwing her eye-glass well in place before bringing it to bear upon
the horizontal slab. “The poet and infidel, Shelley, me dears! A man
of some note in his day. I went to school with his sister, I remember.
Quite a nice girl, too, I assure you. Poor Shelley! it was a pity he
imbibed such very-very sad notions upon certain subjects, for he really
was not without ability!”

The fancy of how the wayward genius would have listened to these
comments above a poet’s grave would have provoked a smile from
melancholy itself.

In another quarter of the cemetery rests the mortal part of one whom we
knew for ourselves, to have been a good man and a useful. Rev. N. C.
Burt, formerly a Baltimore pastor, died in Rome, whither he had come
for health, and sleeps under heartsease and violets that are never
blighted by winter.

“In so sweet a spot!” We said it aloud, in gathering for his wife a
cluster of white violets growing above his heart.

Death and the grave cannot be made less fearful than in this garden of
the blest:—

    “Where, like an infant’s smile, over the dead,
     A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread.”

Keats is buried in the old cemetery, of which the new is an adjunct.
It is bounded at the back by the Aurelian wall; on two sides, by a
dry moat, and the fourth by the pyramid of Cestius. An arched bridge
crosses the narrow moat, and the gate is kept locked. On the side of
the arch next his grave is a profile head of Keats in basso-relievo;
beneath it, this acrostic—

    “Keats! if thy cherished name be ‘writ in water,’
       Each drop has fallen from some mourner’s cheek,—
       A sacred tribute, such as heroes seek,
     ‘Though oft in vain—for dazzling deeds of slaughter.
       Sleep on! Not honored less for epitaph so meek!”

The tomb is an upright head-stone, simple but massive, with the
well-known inscription:—

                   “This Grave
             Contains all that was Mortal
                      of a
                 Young English Poet
                       Who
                  on his Death Bed
            in the Bitterness of his Heart
        at the Malicious Power of his Enemies
                    Desired
    these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone:
                 “Here lies One
          Whose Name was writ in Water.”
               Feb. 24^{th} 1821”

A marble bar runs around the sides and foot, and the space enclosed
is literally covered with violets. An English lady pays the expense
of their renewal as fast as they die, or are plucked. They must bloom
forever upon the grave of Keats. So runs her order.

The custodian added to those he gave us, a rose and a sprig of a
fragrant shrub that grew by the head-stone, and wondered politely when
I knelt to pick the daisies smiling in the grass.

“I gather and I shall preserve them,” I explained, “because when Keats
was dying, he said—‘I feel the daisies growing over me!’”

Daisies thronged the place all winter, and blossomed as abundantly in
the sward on the other side of the moat. The most distinct mind-picture
I have of those Sabbath afternoon walks and talks among and beside the
dead shows me the broken battlements of the wall, the ivy streaming
through the useless loop-holes; the flowery slope of the graves down
to the moat, on the other side of which lies Keats under his fragrant
coverlet; the solemn old pyramid casting a shadow upon turf and tomb,
and in the foreground Boy skipping over the grass, “telling himself a
story,” very softly because the silent sleepers are so near, or busily
picking daisies to add to the basket of flowers that are to fill our
_salle_ with perfume until we come again.

“So sweet a spot!”

FOOTNOTE:

[B] Merivale, vol. vi., p. 176.



CHAPTER XVII.

_With the Skeletons._


In the Piazza Barberini is the Fountain of the Triton by Bernini,
one of the least objectionable of his minor works. A chubby, sonsie
fellow is the young Triton, embrowned by wind, water and sun, seated
in a shell, supported by four dolphins and blowing into a conch with
a single eye to business that should, but does not act as a salutary
example to the tribe of beggars, models and gossips who congregate
around him.

From the right of the spacious square leads the street on which stands
the Palace of the Barberini,—I had nearly written the Bee-hive, so
intimate grows the association between the powerful family and these
busy stingers to one who has studied the Barberini monuments, erected
by them while living, and to them when defunct. I have consistently
and resolutely refrained, thus far, from plying my readers with
art-criticisms—fore-ordained to be skipped—of pictures and statues
which do not interest those who have never seen them, and fail to
satisfy those who have. I mention the picture of Beatrice Cenci by
Guido Reni because it is the most wonderful portrait extant. Before
seeing it, I fairly detested the baby-face, with a towel wound about
the head, that looked slyly backward at me from the window of every
print-shop. Of the principal feature so raved about by Byronic youths
and bilious school-girls, it might be said,—

    “Thou hast no speculation in the eyes
     That thou dost glare with.”

The other lineaments would have been passable in a Paris doll.
Believing these caricatures—or some of them—to be tolerable copies of
the original, we lived in Rome four months; made ourselves pretty well
acquainted with the half-dozen good pictures among the host of poor
ones in the Palazzo Doria, and the choice gems in the small Academia di
San Luca; we had seen the Aurora of the Rospiglioso, the Antinöus upon
the mantel in Villa Albani; Venus Victrix and Daphne in the Borghese,
and the unrivaled frescoes upon the walls and ceilings of the Palazzo
Farnese, besides going, on an average, once a week to the Capitoline
and Vatican museums;—yet never been persuaded by friends wiser or less
prejudiced than we, to enter the meagrely supplied art-gallery of the
Barberini Palace. When we did go it was with a languor of curiosity
clogging our steps and dulling our perceptions, which found no stimulus
in the two outer apartments of the suite. There were the usual
proportion of Holy Families, Magdalenes, and Portraits, to an unusual
number of which conscientious Baedeker had affixed interrogation-points
casting worse than doubt upon their origin;—Christ among the
Doctors—which it is difficult to imagine was painted by Dürer, but easy
to believe was “done” in five days; Raphael’s Fornarina, a shade more
brazen and a thought less handsome than the bar-maid of the same title,
in the Uffizzi at Florence, and so plainly what she was, one is sorry
to trace Raphael’s name upon her bracelet. Then the guide suddenly
turned toward the light a small, shabby frame hung upon a hinge—and a
soul looked at us!

“The very saddest picture ever painted or conceived. It involved an
unfathomable depth of sorrow, the sense of which came to the observer
by a sort of intuition.... It is infinitely heart-breaking to meet her
glance and to feel that nothing can be done to help or comfort her;
neither does she ask help or comfort, knowing the hopelessness of the
case better than we do.”

Hawthorne comprehended and expressed the spirit of the composition (if
it be a fancy sketch, as latter-day iconoclasts insinuate), and the
language of the doomed girl’s eyes. Even he has told but a part of the
story; given but a hint of the nature of the charm that holds cool
critic and careless stroller spell-bound before this little square of
canvas. There is sorcery in it pen nor tongue can define. It haunted
and tormented us until the possession was provoking. After coming
many times to experience the same thrill—intense to suffering if we
gazed long;—after dreaming of her by day and by night, and shunning,
more disgustfully than ever, the burlesques in the shops—“the poor
girl with the blubbered eyes,”—we tried to forget her. It was weak
to be thus swayed by a twenty-inch painting; unworthy of people who
fearlessly pronounced Perugino stiff, and had not been overwhelmed
to rapturous incoherence by the sprawling anatomical specimens left
by Michael Angelo to the guild of art-lovers under the name of the
“Last Judgment.” Saying and feeling thus,—we took every opportunity
of slipping without premeditation, or subsequent confession into the
Barberini Palace;—finally leaving the picture and Rome, no better able
to account for our fascination than after our first grudging visit.

Returning to the square of the Triton after one of these bootless
excursions, we ascended a short avenue to the plain old church of the
Capuchins. A Barberini founded this also, and the convent next door,—a
cardinal, and brother to Urban VIII. He made less use of the bees and
Bernini in his edifices than did his kinsman. That he had a juster
appreciation of true genius, was evinced by his hospitable attentions
to Milton when he was in Rome. Church annals record, moreover, the
circumstance that Cardinal Barberini availed himself no further of the
family wealth and aggrandizement than to give liberally to the poor and
endow this church and monastery. He is buried beneath the high altar,
and a modest stone bears the oft-borrowed epitaph—“_Hic jacet pulvis,
cinis, et nihil!_”

There are famous paintings in this church,—the chapel nearest the
entrance containing Guido Reni’s “St. Michael,” while upon the walls
of the next but one is a fine fresco of the “Death of St. Francis,” by
Domenichino. The crypts are, however, the popular attraction of the
place.

The burial-vaults of the Capuchin brotherhood are not vaults at all
in the sense of subterranean chambers. They are four in number, of
fair size, open on one side to the corridor which is lighted by grated
windows. The inner walls are banks and rows of dried skeletons, whole
and dismembered.

“Does it take long to upholster an apartment in this style?” asked Mark
Twain, contemplating the decorations of the crypt.

The wicked witticism sounded in our ears in his exquisite drawl, as,
amazed to discover how slightly shocked we were, we raised curious eyes
to the geometrical figures traced in raised lines upon the ceiling.
These are composed of the small bones of the human form, skillfully
assorted and matched. Pillars and niches are built of thigh, leg and
arm bones. Each niche has its skeleton, stayed in an upright posture
by a cord knotted about his waist, securing him to a hook behind. All
wear the costume of the order;—a butternut-colored gown, the cowl
framing the skull. Some tiny skeletons lie upon compact beds of bones
close to the ceiling.

“Children!” we said, in French, to the guide. “How is that?”

“Children of the Barberini,” was the answer. “Therefore, entitled to a
place here. Our founder was a Barberini.”

“And were _they_ buried for a while, and then disturbed—dug up?”

“Why not?”

He was a stalwart fellow, with bare, horny feet; a rusty beard falling
below his breast; and a surly face, that did not relax at these
questions, nor at our comments, in our own tongue, upon what we saw.

The floor of the chambers is light, mellow soil, like that of lately
weeded and raked flower-beds. To carry out the conceit, rows of sticks,
labeled, were stuck along one side, that might mark seed-rows. So much
of the original soil as remains there was brought from Jerusalem. In
each grave a deceased monk slumbers twenty-five years, then makes room
for the next comer, and is, himself, promoted, intact or piece-meal, as
architectural needs demand—

“To a place in the dress, or the family circle,” supplied Prima, with
praiseworthy gravity.

Caput, usually an exemplar in the matter of decorum, was now tempted to
a quotation as irreverent as the saucy girl’s comment.

“‘Each of the good friars in his turn, enjoys the luxury of a
consecrated bed, attended with the slight drawback of being forced to
get up long before day-break, as it were, and make room for another
lodger.’”

“Miriam’s model, known to the friars as Brother Antonio, was buried in
the farthest recess,” said I, leading the way to it. “Do you remember
that he lay in state before the altar up-stairs when she and Donatello
visited the church? And how the guide explained that a brother, buried
thirty years before, had risen to give him place? _That_ is probably
the ejected member.”

The worthy designated wore an air of grim jollity, of funereal
festivity, indescribable and irresistible. Dangling by the middle from
his hempen girdle, his head on one shoulder, his cowl awry, he squinted
at us out of its shadow with a leer that would have convicted of
drunkenness anybody less holy than a barefoot friar, and less staid of
habit than a skeleton of fifty years’ standing. Struggling to maintain
composure, I accosted the sacristan. He was standing with his back to
us, looking out of the window, and had certainly not seen our smiles.

“Which of these was disinterred last?”

He pointed to one whose robe was less mouldy than the rest, and upon
whose chin yet bristled the remnant of a sandy beard.

“Which was his grave?”

Another silent gesture.

“What is the date of the latest interment?”

“1869,” incisively.

“Have there been no deaths in the convent since then?”

“Yes!” The disdainful growl was in good _English_. “We bury no more in
this ground. Victor Emmanuel forbids it!”

An Italian murmur in the depths of his frowsy beard was not a
benediction upon the tyrant. Members of monastic orders cursed him
more deeply in private, as they would have banned him openly, by
bell and by book, had they dared, when he commanded, that same year,
the conscription of young men for the Italian army to extend to the
native-born neophytes and pupils in convents and church-schools.

“VITTORIO EMMANUELE!” The musical name was very clearly printed at the
foot of a placard, glazed and hung in the vestibule of the Collegio
Romano. Guide-books of a date anterior to that enunciated so venomously
by our Capuchin, in describing the museum attached to this institution,
were fain to add:—“The museum can be seen on Sundays only, 10-11
o’clock, A.M. Ladies not admitted.”

By the grace of the printed proclamation, throwing open the collection
of antiquities and library to well-behaved persons of both sexes, we
passed the unguarded doors, mounted the stone staircase, dirty as are
all Roman stairs, and were, without let or hindrance, in the midst of
what we wished to examine and from which there is no conceivable reason
for excluding women.

Most of the Catacomb inscriptions that could be removed without
injury to the tablets bearing them, have been deposited elsewhere for
safe-keeping and more satisfactory inspection than is consistent with
the darkness of the underground cemeteries. The shelves, arranged
like those in modern vaults, stripped of the stone fronts that once
concealed their contents, are still partially filled with fine
ashes—sacred dust, mixed with particles from the friable earth walling
and flooring the labyrinth of narrow passages. Fragments of sculptured
marble lie where they have fallen from broken altars or memorial
slabs, and in the wider spaces used as oratories, where burial-rites
were performed, and, in times of sorest tribulation, other religious
services held, there are traces of frescoes in faded, but still
distinguishable colors.

In the Collegio Romano are garnered most interesting specimens
of the mural tablets brought from catacombs and columbaria. The
Christian Museum of San Giovanni in Laterano embraces a more extensive
collection, but in the less spacious corridors and rooms of the
Collegio, one sees and studies in comfort and quiet that are not to
be had in the more celebrated halls. In the apartment devoted to
Christian antiquities are many small marble coffers, sculptured more
or less elaborately, taken from columbaria. These were receptacles for
the literal ashes of the departed. They are out of keeping with our
belief that the early Christians regarded incremation with dread as
destructive, in the popular mind, of the doctrine of the resurrection
of the body. They committed their beloved dead tenderly to the keeping
of the earth, with a full recognition of the analogy between this act
and seed-planting, so powerfully set forth by St. Paul. Else, why the
Catacombs? These cinerary caskets, whether once tenanted by Christian
or pagan dust, merit careful notice. They are usually about twelve or
fourteen inches in height, and two or three less in width. The lid
slopes gently up from the four sides to form a peaked centre like a
square house-roof, with pointed turrets or ears at the corners. The
covers were firmly cemented in place when deposited in the columbaria.
We saw one or two thus secured to protect the contents, but all have
probably been broken open, at one time or another, in quest of other
treasure than relics precious to none save loving survivors. The lids
of many have been lost.

The mural slabs were arranged against the wall as high as a man could
reach. The lettering—much of it irregularly and unskillfully done—is
more distinct than epitaphs not thirty years old, in our country
church-yards. The inscriptions are often ungrammatical and so spelt
as to betray the illiterate workman. But there is no doubt what were
the belief and trust of those who set them up in the blackness and
damps of a Necropolis whose existence was scarcely suspected by their
persecutors.

“IN CHRISTO, IN PACE,” is the language of many, the meaning of all. It
may be only a cross rudely cut into soft stone; it is often a lamb,
sometimes carrying a cross; a dove, a spray meant for olive, in its
mouth—dual emblem of peace and the “rest that remaineth.” The Greek
Alpha and Omega, repeated again and again, testify that these hunted
and smitten ones had read John’s glorious Revelation. On all sides, we
saw the, to heathen revilers, mystical cypher, early adopted as a sign
and seal by the Christians, a capital P, transfixing a St. Andrew’s
Cross.

From one stained little slab, we copied an inscription entire and
_verbatim_.

[Illustration:

    Puer Decessit                   Qui vixit
    Nomine Dulcis’us                Annos V
                                    Mensis VI]

Above Benjamin Franklin’s baby-daughter, buried beside him in the
almost forgotten corner of an intra-mural graveyard, we can, with
pains, read—“_The dearest child that ever was_.” We thought of it and
of another “child” whose brief, beautiful life is summed up in words as
apt and almost as few:—

          “The sweetest soul
    That ever looked with human eyes.”

O, holy Nature! the throbbing, piercèd heart of parenthood! the same in
the breast of the mother who laid her boy to sleep, until the morning,
in the starless night of the Catacombs, as within the Rachel who weeps
to-day beside the coffin of her first, or latest-born!

We had seen the wall in Nero’s barracks from which the famous
“_Graffito Blasphemo_” was taken, about ten years before. To behold
the sketch itself was one of our errands to this Museum. It is a
square of cement, of adamantine hardness, in a black frame, and hangs
in a conspicuous position at the end of the principal corridor. The
story, as gathered from the caricature and the place in which it
was discovered, is probably something like this:—A party of Nero’s
soldiery, gathered in a stall or barrack belonging to the Imperial
household, amused themselves by ridiculing one of their number who had
been converted to Christianity. Paul was, about that time, dwelling
in his own hired house in Rome, or as a prisoner awaiting trial or
execution. A part of the richly-sculptured marble bar indicating the
Tribune in the Basilica Jovis, before which he was tried, is still
standing, not a bow-shot from where the lounging guards made a jest
of their comrade’s new faith. One of them drew, with the point of his
sword, or other sharp instrument, upon the plastered wall, a rough
caricature, representing a man with the head of an ass, hanging upon a
cross. His hands are bound to the transverse arms, his feet rest upon a
shorter cross-piece fastened to the upright beam. From this position,
the head looks down upon a small figure below, who raises his hand in a
gesture of adoration more intelligible to the pagan of that date than
to us. A jumble of Greek and Latin characters, crowded between and
under the figures, points the ribald satire, “_Alexamenos adores his
God_.” Nero went to his account. The very site of his Golden House is a
matter of dispute among archæologists who have bared the foundations
of the palace of the Cæsars. But after eighteen hundred years, when the
rubbish was dug out from the soldiers’ quarters, there appeared the
blasphemer’s sketch, as distinct as if drawn at last week’s debauch.

From the observatory of the Collegio Romano a signal is given daily, at
twelve o’clock, for the firing of the noon cannon from the Castle of
San Angelo. As we entered the Piazza di Spagna on our return, the dull
boom shook the air. The streets were full of people, the day being a
fine one in early Spring, and, as happens every day in the year, every
man, from the _cocchière_ upon his box, to the _élégant_ strolling
along the shady side of the square to digest his eleven o’clock
breakfast, looked at his watch. Not that the Romans are a punctual
people, or moderately industrious. “The man who makes haste, dies
early,” is one of their mottoes. “_Dolce far niente_” belongs to them
by virtue of tongue and practice. “Lazzaroni” should be spelled with
one z, and include, according to the sense thus conveyed to English
ears, tens of thousands besides professional beggars.

There is no pleasanter place in which to be lazy than in this
bewitching old city. Our own life there was an idyl, rounded and pure,
such as does not come twice to the same mortal. The climate, they
would have had us believe was the bane of confiding strangers, was to
us all blessedness. Not one of us was ill for a day while we resided
in the cozy “_appartamento_” in Via San Sebastiano; nor was there a
death, that winter, among American visitors and residents in Rome.
For myself, the soft air was curative to the sore lungs; a delicious
sedative that quieted the nerves and brought the boon, long and vainly
sought—Sleep! My cough left me within a month, not to return while we
remained in Italy. We made the natural mistake of tarrying too late in
the Spring, unwilling to leave scenes so fair, fraught with such food
for Memory and for Imagination. After mid-April, the noon-day heat was
debilitating, and I suffered appreciable diminution of vigor.

I do not apologize for these personal details. Knowing how eagerly
invalids, and those who have invalid friends, crave information
respecting the means that have restored health to others, I write
frankly of my own experience in quest of the lost treasure. It would
be strange if I could think of Rome and our home there without felt
and uttered gratitude. Convalescence was, with me, less a rally of
energies to battle with disease and weakness, than a gradual return,
by ways of pleasantness and paths of peace, to physical tranquillity,
and through rest, to strength. I hardly comprehended, for awhile, that
I was really getting better; that I might be well again in time. I
only knew that to breathe was no longer pain, nor to live labor that
taxed the powers of body and spirit to the utmost. There was so much
to draw me away from the contemplation of my own griefs and ailments
that I could have supposed the new existence a delusion, my amendment a
trick of fancy. I forgot to think of and watch myself. I had all winter
but one return—and that a slight one, induced by unusual exertion—of
the hæmorrhages that had alarmed us, from time to time, for two years
preceding our departure from America. The angel of healing had touched
me, and I knew it not.

One morning I had gone, as was my custom, to a window in the _salon_,
so soon as I left my bed-chamber; thrown it open and leaned upon the
balcony-railing to taste the freshness of the new day. We clung to our
pillows, as a family rule, until the sonorous cry of the vendor of a
morning journal arose to our drowsy ears.

“Popolo Ro-ma-a-no!”

“There is Old Popolo!” Boy would shout from his crib. “It is eight
o’clock!”

It was half-past eight on the day of which I speak, and the shops were
not yet open; the Piazza deserted but for a flock of goats and the
attendant contadini who milked them from one door to another for their
customers. Birds were twittering among the trees in the Pincian Gardens
upon my left; there was a lingering flush of pink in the sky that would
be, within an hour and until evening, of the “incomparable sweet” blue,
American heavens put on after one thunder-shower, and before another
blackens them. In Italy nobody calls the exquisite depth of color “a
weather-breeder.” A church-bell was ringing so far away that it was
a musical pulse, not a chime. Down the Via della Croce to my right,
over half a mile of tiled roofs, round and distinct in the dry, pure
atmosphere, towered the Castle of San Angelo—the bronze angel on the
summit sheathing the sword of pestilence, as Pope Gregory affirmed he
beheld him at the approach to the Tiber of the penitential procession
headed by the pontiff. As the goats turned into the Via del Babuino,
the faint tinkle of their bells was blent with the happy laugh of a
young contadina. I quaffed slow, delicious draughts of refreshment that
seemed to touch and lift the heart; that lulled the brain to divinest
dreaming.

Then and there, I had a revelation; bowed my soul before my Angel of
Annunciation, I should not die, but live. Then and thus, I accepted
the conviction that, apart from the intellectual delight I drew from
our present life—the ministry of sky and air, of all goodly sights and
sounds and the bright-winged fancies that were a continual ecstasy, was
to my body—HEALTH! That hour I thanked GOD and took courage!



CHAPTER XVIII.

“_Paul—a Prisoner._”


JUST outside of the Ostian Gate is the pyramid of Caius
Cestius—Tribune, Prætor and Priest, who died thirty years before Christ
was born, and left a fortune to be expended in glorification of himself
and deeds. The monument is one hundred and twenty feet high, nearly
one hundred feet square at the base, built of brick and overlaid with
marble slabs. Modeled after the Egyptian mausoleums, and unaccountably
spared by Goth and Pope, it stands to-day, after the more merciful wear
and tear of twenty centuries, entire, and virtually unharmed. Alexander
VII., when he had the rubbish cleared away from the base, also ordered
a door to be cut in the side. The body, or ashes of Cestius had been
deposited in the centre of the pyramid before its completion, and
hermetically inclosed by the stupendous walls. What was done with the
handful of dust that had been august and a member of the College of
Epulones, appointed to minister by sacrifices to the gods, history does
not relate. The great pile contains one empty chamber contemptible in
dimensions by comparison with the superficies of the exterior. The
walls of this retain signs of frescoes, designed for the delectation of
the dead noble, and such ghostly visitants as were able to penetrate
the marble facing and twenty feet of brick laid with Roman cement. The
custodian of the English burial-ground has the key of Alexander’s door,
and shows the vault for a consideration. Nobody goes to see it a second
time.

The Ostian Gate is now the Porta S. Paolo, and is a modern structure.
Here begins the Via Ostiensis, in St. Paul’s life-time, the
thronged road to Rome’s renowned sea-port. Ostia is now a wretched
fishing-village of less than one hundred inhabitants. Over the
intervening country broods malaria, winter and summer. Conybeare
and Howson have told us in words that read like the narrative of
an eye-witness, how the route looked when, “through the dust and
tumult of that busy throng, the small troop of soldiers”—having Paul
in charge—“threaded their way under the bright sky of an Italian
midsummer.”

The silence and desolation of the Campagna on the February day of our
excursion to Tre Fontane, or Aquas Salvias,—the Tyburn of the Romans
under the Emperors, were as depressing as the seen shadow of Death.
The sunlight brought out warm umber tints upon the gray sides of the
pyramid. Children, ragged and happy, rolled in the dust and basked in
the sun before the mean houses on the wayside. Women in short, russet
skirts, blue or red bodices, with gay handkerchiefs, folded square,
laid upon the top of the head and hanging down the back of the neck,
nursed brown babies and spun flax in open doors, or sitting flat upon
the ground. Men drank and smoked in and about the wine-shops, talking
with such vehemence of gesticulation as would frighten those who did
not know that the subject of debate was no more important than the
price of macaroni, or the effect of yesterday’s rain upon the growing
artichokes.

But, from the moment our short procession of three carriages emerged
from the city-gate and took the road to Ostia, the most mercurial
spirit amongst us felt the weight as of a remembered sorrow. We
had seen the opening in the floor of the lower chapel of S. Pietro
in Montorio, where S. Peter’s cross had stood, and the golden sand
in which the foot of it was imbedded; groped down the steps of the
Mamertine Prison, and felt our way by torchlight around the confines
of the cell in which both of the Great Apostles, it is said, perhaps
truly, were incarcerated up to the day of their martyrdom. We had
surveyed the magnificence, without parallel even in Rome, of the
Basilica of St Paul’s Without the Walls; the very sepulchre of St Paul,
the ostensible reason for this affluence of ecclesiastical grandeur,
and believed exactly as much and as little as we pleased of what
the Church told us of localities, and authorities in support of the
authenticity of these. But the evidence that St. Paul was beheaded near
Rome, in Via Ostiensis, was irrefragable. There was no ground for cavil
in the statement, sustained by venerable traditions, that he perished
at Tre Fontane.

Half-way between the Gate of St. Paul and the Basilica, is a squalid
chapel, the entrance rather lower than the street, with an indifferent
bas-relief over the door, of two men locked in one another’s arms.
Here—according to the apocryphal epistle of St. Dionysius the
Areopagite to Timothy—Peter and Paul, who, Jerome states, were executed
upon the same day, parted. Besides the bas-relief, the tablet over the
lintel records their farewell words:

“And Paul said unto Peter,—‘Peace be with thee, Foundation of the
Church, Shepherd of the Flock of Christ!’”

“And Peter said unto Paul,—‘Go in peace, Preacher of Good Tidings, and
Guide of the Salvation of the Just!’”

We were in no mood to make this one of the stations of our pious
journey. Nor did we stop at the Basilica, the dingy outside of which
offers no promise of the superb interior. Beyond the church spread
the sad-colored Campagna, irresponsive to the sunshine, unbroken save
by leafless coppices and undulations where the surface rolled into
hillocks that caught no light, and into hollows of deeper gloom. A
few peasants’ huts upon the edge of a common, and mounds of shapeless
ruins, are all the signs of human habitation, past or present. It is
unutterably mournful—this “wilderness that moans at the gates” of
the seven-hilled city. The sun was oppressive in the unshaded road,
although the sky was filmy, and the horses moved sluggishly. Ours was
a funeral cortége, following the figure loving fancies set before
us in the lonely highway. An old man, enfeebled by imprisonment, by
“weariness and painfulness, by watchings often, by hunger and thirst,
by fastings often, by cold and nakedness,” yet pressing forward, ready
and joyful to be offered. We had read, last night, in anticipation of
this pilgrimage, his farewell letter to his adopted son; noted, as
we had not in previous perusals, his confident expectation of this
event; and the yearning of the great, tender heart over this dearest of
earthly friends,—his desire to see him once more before his departure
breaking in upon his clearest views of Heaven and the Risen Lord. It
was the backward glance of a father from the top of the hill that will
hide the group of watching children from his eyes.

“Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which
the Lord—the righteous Judge—shall give me at that day.”

(This was after he had been brought before Nero the first time,
where—“no man stood with me, but all men forsook me.”)

“And not unto me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.

“Do thy diligence to come _shortly_ unto me!”

And, again:—“The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will
preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom. To whom be glory forever and
ever! AMEN!

“Do thy diligence to come to me _before winter_!”

He had not thought his end so near, then. The likelihood is that he
was hurried to the judgment the second time, and sentence speedily
pronounced. He may have been still bewildered by this haste when he
walked with his escort, along the road to Ostia. It was June, and
the sun beat fiercely upon his head. After the cool twilight of the
dungeon, the air must have scorched like furnace-vapors. He would be
very weary before the three miles beyond the gates were accomplished,
unless the rapturous certainty that he would, that very day, stand
face-to-face with Him who also suffered without the gate, lightened the
burden of heavy limbs and fainting flesh.

A high wall, rising abruptly from barren fields, incloses three
churches, a small monastery, a flower and kitchen-garden, and some rows
of thrifty Eucalyptus trees. Thus much we saw, through the grating of
the gate, while awaiting the answer to our ring. A monk admitted us.
The Convent was made over to the Order of La Trappe in 1868. Twelve
brethren, by the help of Eucalyptus and the saints, live here, defying
isolation and malaria. Their rules are strict, enjoining many fastings
and prayers. They wear sandals instead of shoes, and have, therefore,
the shuffling gait inseparably connected, in our minds, with pietistic
pretension. A man in loose slippers recalls the impression to this
day. The habit of the order is brown cloth, and is worn day and night,
without change, for three years, when it is laid aside—or drops off of
its own weight and threadbareness—for a new one. Our monk had donned
his—we estimated, charitably—just two years and eleven months anterior
to our acquaintance with him, and eaten onions three times every day.
He was a social brother, alert and garrulous, and shortly grew more
gallant to the young ladies of our party than became his asceticism
and his paucity of front teeth. He stared open-mouthed—consequently,
disagreeably—at our refusal to enter the church nearest the gate.

“It is the church of Santa Maria Scala Cœli!” he represented,
earnestly. “Twelve thousand Christian martyrs, who built the Thermæ of
Diocletian, slumber beneath it. Holy St. Bernard had here a dream of
angels carrying souls up a ladder from purgatory to heaven.”

“Very interesting!” we acknowledged, suavely. “But our time is short!”

The brother regretted. “But messieurs and mesdames will not pass the
second door! The church of Saints Vincenzo and Anastasia. Very antique,
founded in 625. One sees there, still, frescoes celebrating the deaths
of these holy men, by cooking upon a gridiron and by strangling.
Mesdemoiselles will enjoy looking upon these.”

Unmoved by his tempting lures, we passed on to the third, last,
and evidently, in his opinion, the least attractive of the three
edifices—San Paolo alle tre Fontane. He followed, discontented, but
always obsequious.

The vestibule walls are adorned with bas-reliefs of St. Paul’s
execution in the presence of Roman guards. The pavement of the church
is a large and fine mosaic, found in the ruins of ancient Ostia.
The subject is the Four Seasons, and the monk, checking us when we
would have trodden upon it, threw himself into a studied transport of
admiration. There was not another mosaic like it in Italy. Contemplate
the brilliant dyes! the graceful contour of the figures! Artists from
all lands flocked to the Abbey delle tre Fontane, entreating permission
from the Superior to copy it.

We broke the thread impatiently from the reel. We were here to see
where St. Paul was beheaded.

“_Vraiment?_” politely, smothering his chagrin. “But, certainly! Upon
that block in the corner!”

It was a pillar, not a block, and marble, not wooden. An imposition so
bare-faced did not pass unchallenged. We argued that the pillar was
modern in workmanship, and too clean. No blood-stains disfigured its
whiteness.

“There _had_ been blood-stains without doubt. Beyond question, also,
the kisses and tears of the faithful had erased them.”

But it was absurd, unheard of, to talk of decapitation upon a stone
block, waiving objections to the height and shape of this. The axe, in
severing the head, would be spoiled utterly by contact with the hard
surface beneath.

“So I should have said, Monsieur. It is the dictate of _le bon sens_,
Madame! But me—I am here to repeat what the Church instructs me to say.
When I arrive at this so holy place, I find the pillar here, as you see
it—protected by an iron rail from destruction at the hands and lips of
devotees. I am told, ‘It is the pillar on which was cut off the head
of St. Paul the Blessed Martyr.’ Who am I, a poor lay-brother, that I
should doubt the decree of the Church?”

Seeing absolution in our faces after this frank confession, he entered,
with interest, upon the history of the three fountains enclosed in as
many marble altars, ranged at one side of the church. In the front
of each is an opening large enough to admit the hand, arm, and a
drinking-cup kept ready for dipping. Above each aperture is a head of
Paul in bas-relief. In the first, the eyes are open, the features
instinct with life. The second portrays the relaxed lineaments of a
dying man, the third, the rigidity of death in closed eyelids and
sunken cheeks. Keeping close to the letter of the lesson he had been
taught, our unsavory cicerone related that the Apostle’s head made
three bounds upon the earth after its separation from the body, and
that at each touch a fountain had burst forth. To establish the truth
of the miracle to unbelievers in all ages, no less than to kindle the
enthusiasm of true worshippers at this shrine, the water of the first
spring is still warm; of the second, tepid; of the third, ice-cold.

“Will Mademoiselle,” turning to the young girl near him, and grimacing
in what was meant to be a fascinating fashion—“Will Mademoiselle
vouchsafe to taste the healing waters? For that they are a veritable
catholicon is attested by many cures. Or, is it that Mademoiselle is
never ill? Her blooming cheeks would say, ‘No.’ Ah, then, so much the
better! A draught of the miraculous fountains—accompanied, of course,
by an ‘Ave Maria,’ is efficacious in procuring a husband. May he be _un
bon Catholique_!”

But one of the company tasted the waters, and she affirmed roundly—in
English, for our benefit, in French for the friar’s—that the
temperature of all three was the same.

“That is because you have not faith!” chuckled the lay-brother,
throwing what was left in the cup upon the Four Seasons. “The Catholic
husband will cure all that!”

His cackling laugh was odious, his torrent of talk wearisome. We
hurried to escape them by quitting the church and proffering the
gate-fee, a franc for each person. At sight of the money, he ceased
laughing and began to whine. The fees were the property of the Convent.
For himself, he had no perquisites save such as he earned from the
sale of Eucalyptus syrup. Unlocking the door of a store-house, he
showed us shelves crowded with bottles of the elixir, prepared by the
brethren, and used freely by them in the sickly season. Formerly, we
were informed, no one could live here even in winter. The place was a
miasmatic swamp, the churches and abbey were almost in ruins. But the
monks of La Trappe enjoyed in an extraordinary degree (the whine rising
into a sanctimonious sing-song) the favor of Our Lady and the saints.
They stayed here, the year around, encouraged by His Holiness the Pope
in the cultivation of the Eucalyptus, chiefly, that the elixir might be
bestowed upon the contadini who ventured to live in the pestilential
district, and charitable _forestieri_, (foreigners) unused to the
climate. We assured him, coldly, that we would not buy medicine we did
not need, and satisfied his benevolent intentions us-ward, by paying
him for some flowers and pieces of marble we brought away as souvenirs.
We left him standing in the gateway, grinning at the young ladies, and
breathing so hard that we imagined we smelt garlic and sour wine a
hundred yards down the road.

“A filthy cur!” uttered Caput, and nobody said him nay.

Even the demon of malaria might scorn such prey.

We were told by those qualified by long residence in Italy to speak
advisedly concerning these matters, that, while the priesthood of that
country comprises many men eminent for learning, the mass of minor
ecclesiastics, especially in the country, are ignorant and vulgar
beyond our powers of credence. For ages, the monastic orders have
been a swarm of caterpillars, battening upon the fat of the land, and
blighting, while they devoured. To the King, who let the light into
their nests, clearing out many, and leaving in the nest only those who
were too infirm to begin a work, so unfamiliar to them all, as earning
their livelihood—the thanks of civilization and philanthropy are due.

So harshly had our experiences in the church jarred upon the mood in
which we had approached it, that we could not, as it were, get back
to St. Paul that day. We deferred the pilgrimage to his supposed tomb
until we were in better tune.

Tradition—“the elder sister of history”—asserts that as devout men
carried Stephen to his burial, Paul’s friends and converts, including
persons of influence in the city, even some attachés of the Imperial
household, took charge of _his_ remains. It is interesting to note the
names of certain disciples, who were, we know, of that faithful band.
Clement, of Rome, whose writings and whose Basilica remain with us unto
the present day; Claudia, a British Princess, a Christian convert, and
the _protégée_ of an Emperor; Pudens, her husband, whose daughter and
hers was the foundress of the primitive Cathedral of Rome.

This church—I digress to state—is now joined to a convent in Via
Quatro Fontane. It occupies the site of the house of the daughters
of Pudens—Prudentia and Praxedes. Or—what is more likely,—it was
an enlargement of the family chapel—or “Basilica.” The repute of
these sisters, the children of the noble pair who were Paul’s
fellow-laborers, has descended to us by more trustworthy channels
than those through which church-legends are generally transmitted. In
the early persecutions their house was a refuge for the fugitive, a
hospital for the wounded and dying,—a sacred _morgue_ for bodies cast
forth from torture-chamber and scaffold, to be eaten of dogs and crows.
In one of the chapels of the old church is a mosaic of these sisters of
mercy, pressing sponges soaked in martyrs’ blood into a golden urn.
Another depicts them in the presence of their enthroned Lord, and,
standing near, Paul and Peter. The women hold between them the martyr’s
crown, earned for themselves by fidelity to the Faith and friends of
their parents.

One of Paul’s disciples was a Roman matron named Lucina, who—to return
to our tradition—gained possession of the Apostle’s lifeless body, and
buried it in her own catacomb or vineyard in the vicinity of the Ostian
Gate. Eusebius says the catacomb was shown in his day; Chrysostom, that
“the grave of St. Paul is well known.”

“St. Cyprian”—writes Macduff—“is the interpreter, in a single sentence,
of the sentiment of the faithful in those ages: ‘_To the bodies of
those who depart by the outlet of a glorious death, let a more zealous
watchfulness be given._’ Can we believe that those who by means of rude
sarcophagi and inscriptions in the vaults of the Catacombs, took such
pains to mark the dormitory of their sainted dead, would omit rearing a
befitting memorial in the case of their illustrious spiritual chief?”

From the same catacomb have been unearthed inscriptions belonging to
the Pauline era. The story was so thoroughly believed in the reign of
Constantine that he built the original Basilica of St. Paul’s above
this catacomb, and placed the bones of Paul, or relics supposed to be
his, within the crypt. Since that date, this church has had them in
ward.

With these credentials fresh in our memories, we took advantage of
a very mild morning whose influences somewhat tempered the chill
of aisles and chapels, to make a prolonged examination of _San
Paolo-fuori-le-mura_—St. Paul’s-beyond-the-Wall. The outside is, as I
have intimated, tamely ugly. He who passes it by will remember it as
the least comely of the hundred unsightly churches in and about the
city. From the moment one enters the immense nave,—stands between the
columns of yellowish alabaster, presented by Mehemet Ali, which are
the prelude to a double rank of eighty monoliths of polished granite,
cut from the Simplon,—to his exit, the spectacle is one of bewildering
magnificence. Macduff likens the floor to a “sea of glass,” nor is the
figure overstrained. The illusion is heightened by the reflection upon
the highly-polished surface of the brilliant tints of the series of
mosaic medallions, each the portrait of a pope, set in the upper part
of the wall and girdling, in a sweep of splendor, nave and transept.
The blending and shimmer of the gorgeous colors upon the marble
mirror are like the tremulous motion of a lake just touched by the
breeze. The costliest marbles, such as we are used to see wrought into
small ornaments for the homes of the wealthy, are here employed with
lavishness that makes tales of oriental luxury altogether credible,
and the Arabian Nights plausible. Alabaster, malachite, rosso and
verde-antique are wrought into columns and altars, and each chapel has
its especial treasure of sculpture and painting. The pictures in the
Chapel of St. Stephen, representing the trial and death of the martyr,
would, by themselves, make the church noteworthy.

Surrounded by this inconceivable wealth of splendor, rises a
_baldacchino_ surmounted by a dome, supported by four pillars of red
alabaster, also the gift of the Turkish Pacha. An angel stands at each
corner of the canopy. Within this miniature temple is another, and
an older, being the altar-canopy, saved from the fire that, in 1823,
destroyed the greater portion of the ancient building. Under this,
again, is the marble altar—crimson and emerald—enshrining it is said,
the bones of St. Paul. The inscription runs along the four sides of
the baldacchino:

    “TU ES VAS ELECTIONIS.
     SANCTE PAULE APOSTOLE.
     PRÆDICATOR VERITATIS.
     IN UNIVERSO MUNDO.”

A railing, inclosing an area of perhaps a dozen yards, prevents too
close an approach to the altar.

“You must first have a _permesso_ from the Pope, or, at least, from
a Cardinal,” said a passing verger to whom we communicated our
desire to go in. Discovering, upon trial, that the gate was not
locked, we felt strongly inclined to make an independent sally, but
were withheld by a principle to which we endeavored to be uniformly
true,—namely,—obedience to law, and what the usages of the time and
place decreed to be order. A priest, belonging, we guessed from his
dress, to a higher order than most of those we had encountered in our
tour of the building, knelt on the low step surrounding the railing,
and while my companions strolled on, I loitered near the forbidden
gate, one eye upon him who prayed at the shrine of “Sancte Paule
Apostole.” When he arose, I accosted him, having had leisure in which
to study a diplomatic address. I chanced to have in the pocket of
my cloak a box of Roman pearls and other trinkets I had bought that
forenoon. Producing this, as a prefatory measure, and beginning with
the conventional, “_Pardon, Monsieur!_” I informed him in the best
French at my command, that I was a stranger and an American—facts he
must have gleaned before I had dropped three words;—that, although not
a Roman Catholic, I desired to lay these trifles upon the tomb of St.
Paul. Not out of custom or superstition, but as I might pick a flower
from, or touch, in greeting, the grave of a friend.

He had a noble, gentle face and hearkened kindly to my petition.

“I comprehend!” he said, taking the beads from my hand, and, beckoning
up a sacristan, motioned him to open the gate.

“You can enter, Madame!” he continued, with a courteous inclination of
the head.

I followed the two; stood by while they bent the knee to the altar-step
and made the sign of the cross. The superior priest turned to me.

“You know, do you not, that Timothy is buried here, also,” touching a
tablet upon which was cut one word—“TIMOTHEI.”

“I hope so!” answered I, wistfully.

Was it wrong to hold lovingly the desire—almost the belief—that the
“beloved son” had taken alarm at the import and tone of the second
epistle from “Paul the Aged,” and come long enough before winter to
brighten his last days? “It is possible,” students and professors of
Church History concede to those who crave this rounding of a “finished”
life. It seemed almost sure, with Paul’s name above us and Timothy’s
under my hand.

My new friend smiled. “_We_ believe it. Timothy’s body was brought to
Rome after his martyrdom—he outlived his master many years—and interred
beside him in the Catacomb of St. Lucina.”

“I know the legend,” I said; “it is very beautiful.”

“It is customary,” the priest went on to say, “to lay chaplets upon the
shrine. But you are an American,” another grave smile. “Would you like
to look into the tomb?”

He opened a grating in the front of the altar. By leaning forward, I
fancied I saw a dark object in the deep recess.

“The sarcophagus is of silver. A cross of gold lies upon it. Then,
there is an outer case.”

He knelt, reached the hand holding the beads as far through the opening
as his arm would go, and arose.

“They have touched the coffin of St. Paul!” simply and solemnly.

While they lay over his fingers he crossed the beads, murmured some
rapid words.

“My blessing will not hurt them, or you!” restoring them to me with the
gentle seriousness that marked his demeanor throughout the little scene.

I thanked him earnestly. Whether he were sincere, or acting a
well-conned part, his behavior to me was the perfection of high-toned
courtesy, I said that he had done me a kindness, and I meant it.

“It is nothing!” was the rejoinder. “It is I who am grateful for the
opportunity to render a stranger, and an American, even so slight a
service.”

Some of our party made merry over my adventure; affected to see in my
appreciation of the increased value of my blest baubles, deflection
from the path of Protestantism rectilinear and undefiled. I think
all were slightly scandalized when, turning in their walk across the
nave, they saw the tableau within the sacred rail; myself, between two
priests, and bending toward the open tomb of St. Paul.

To me it is a pleasing and interesting reminiscence, even if the story
of Paul’s and Timothy’s tenancy of the crypt be a monkish figment. And
this I am loath to admit.



CHAPTER XIX.

_Tasso and Tusculum._


THE church and convent of S. Onofrio crown the steepest slope of the
Janiculan. Our _cocchieri_ always insisted, more or less strenuously,
that we should alight at the bottom of the short _Salita di S.
Onofrio_, and ascend on foot while the debilitated horses followed at
their ease. Our first drive thither was upon a delicious morning in
February, when the atmosphere was crystalline to the Sabine Hills. The
terrace before the church-portico was clean and sunny, the prospect so
enchanting, that we hung over the parapet guarding the verge of the
hill, for a long quarter of an hour. Under the Papacy, S. Onofrio was
barred against women, except upon the 25th of April, the anniversary of
the death of Torquato Tasso, for whose sake, and that alone, strangers
would care to pass the threshold.

Beyond the tomb of Tasso, and that of the lingual prodigy, Cardinal
Mezzofanti, the church offers no temptation to sight-seers. We
therefore turned almost immediately into the cloisters of the now
sparsely inhabited monastery. The young priests and acolytes are
winning honest bread by honest labor elsewhere. Gray-bearded monks
stumble along the corridors, keep up the daily masses, and sun
themselves among the salad and artichoke beds of the garden.

“Slow to learn!” said Caput, shaking his head before a fresco in the
side-arcade of the church.

It represented St. Jerome, gaunt, wild-eyed and distraught with the
sense of his impotence and sinfulness, at the moment thus described
by him;—“How often, when alone in the desert with wild beasts and
scorpions, _half dead with fasting and penance_, have I fancied myself
a spectator of the sins of Rome, and of the dances of its young women!”

Victor Emmanuel had biting reasons of his own for knowing what is the
sway of the flesh and the devil, leaving the world out of the moral
sum. Merciful humanitarian as well as wise ruler, he led would-be
saints into the wholesome air of God’s working-day world.

The passage from the church to the conventual buildings is decorated
with unlovely scenes from the life of that unlovely hermit, S. Onofrio.
His neglected nakedness and ostentatious contempt for the virtue
very near akin to commonplace godliness, make one wonder the more
at the sweet cleanliness of the halls and rooms nominally under his
guardianship.

“Ecco!” said our guide, opening the door of a large chamber.

Directly opposite, in strong relief against the bare wall, stood a
man. Dressed in the doublet and hose worn by Italian gentlemen two
hundred years ago, he leaned lightly on the nearest wainscot, with the
easy grace of one who listens, ready to reply to friend or guest. The
beautiful head was slightly bent,—a half-smile lighted features that
were else sad. A step into the room, a second’s thought dispelled the
illusion. Some of the company said it had never existed for them. For
myself, I gladly own that I was startled by the life-like expression of
figure and face. It is a fresco, and critics say, cheap and tawdry,—a
mere trick, and not good even as a trick. I got used, after awhile,
to disagreement with the critics, and when a thing pleased me, liked
it, in my own heart, without their permission. This fresco helped me
believe that this was Tasso’s room; that he had trodden this floor,
perhaps leaned against the wall over there, while he looked from that
window upon the Rome that had done him tardy justice by summoning him
to receive in her Capitol the laureate’s crown.

Wrecked in love and in ambition; robbed and maligned; deserted by
friends and hounded by persecutors; confined for cause as yet unknown,
for seven years in a madman’s cell, he was at fifty-one—uncheered by
the blaze of popular favor shed upon him at evening-time—bowed in
spirit, infirm in body. The Coronation was postponed until Spring in
consideration for his feeble health. The ceremony was to surpass all
former literary pageants, and preparations for it were in energetic
progress when Tasso removed, for rest and recuperation, to the
Convent of S. Onofrio. He had worked hard that winter in spite of
steadily-declining strength. He would rally his forces against the
important day that was to declare his life to have been triumph, not
failure. We recall the bitterer address of Wolsey at the door of the
convent in which he had come to lay his bones, in reading Tasso’s
exclamation to the monks who welcomed him: “My fathers! I have come to
die amongst you!” When informed by his physician that the end was very
near, he thanked him for the “pleasant news” and blessed Heaven for “a
haven so calm after a life so stormy.”

To a friend, he wrote—“I am come to begin my conversation in Heaven
in this elevated place.” The Pope sent him absolution under his own
hand and seal. “I _shall_ be crowned!” said the dying poet. “Not with
laurel, as a poet in the Capitol, but with a better crown of glory in
Heaven.”

The monk who watched and prayed with him on the night ending with the
dawn of April 25, 1595, caught his last murmur:—

“_In manus tuas, Domine!_”

He had instructed his friend, Cardinal Aldobrandini, to collect and
destroy all his printed works, the mutilation of which had nettled
him to frenzy, a few years before. They were nothing to him now;
the memories of his turbulent life a dream he would forget “in this
elevated place.”

A glass case in this chamber holds a wax cast of his face taken after
death. It is brown, cracked, dreesome, the features greatly changed by
sorrow and pain from those of a marble bust near by, and very unlike
those of the frescoed portrait. The head is small and well-formed, the
forehead high, with cavernous temples. A shriveled laurel-wreath is
bound about them, discolored and brittle as the wax. The crucifix used
by him in his last illness and which was enclasped by his dead hands
is also exhibited, with his inkstand, a page of MS. and the iron box
in which he lay buried until the erection of his monument. But for the
graceful figure upon the wall in the corner by the left-hand window,
and the view framed by the casements, we could not have remembered that
life, no less than death, had been here;—still less, that this was, in
truth, a Coronation-room.

Through the garden a broad alley leads between beds of thrifty
vegetables to Tasso’s oak. From the shattered trunk, which has suffered
grievously from the winds, shoots a single vigorous branch. We picked
ivy and grasses from the earth about the roots where Tasso sat each
day, while he could creep so far;—the city at his feet, the Campagna
beyond the city unrolled to the base of the mountains, and Heaven
beyond the hills. The only immortelle I saw growing in Italy, I found
so near to Tasso’s oak that his foot must often have pressed the spot.

At the left of the oak, and winding along the crest of the hill is
a terrace bordered by a low, broken wall, bright that day, with
mid-winter turf and bloom. Rust-brown and golden wall-flowers were
rooted among the stones; pansies smilingly pushed aside the grass to
get a good look at the sun; daisies, like happy, lawless children, ran
everywhere.

“This is what I crossed the Atlantic to see and to be!” Caput
pronounced, deliberately, throwing himself down on the sward, and
resting an elbow upon the wall, just where the flowers were thickest,
the sunshine warmest, the prospect fairest. “You can go home when you
like. I shall remain here until the antiquated fathers up at the house
drive me from the premises. I can touch Heaven—as the Turks say—with my
finger!”

While we affected to wait upon his pleasure, we remembered that a more
genial saint than the patron of the convent—to wit—S. Filippo Neri, was
wont to assemble here Roman children and teach them to sing and act his
oratorios. What a music-gallery! And what a theme for artist’s brush
or pen were those rehearsals under this sky, at this height, with the
shadow of Tasso’s oak upon the al fresco concert-hall!

“The view from Tusculum is said to be more beautiful than this,”
observed our head, murmurously, from the depths of his Turkish trance.
“We will see it before the world is a week older!”

Nevertheless, the earth was two months further on in her swing around
the sun, and that sun had kissed into life a thousand blushing flowers,
where one had bloomed in February, when we really set out for the site
of that venerable town. We had appointed many other seasons for the
excursion, and been thwarted in design, crippled in execution. Mrs.
Blimber’s avowal that she could go down to the grave in peace could
she but once have seen Cicero in his villa at Tusculum, was worn into
shreds among us. When we did meet, by appointment, our friends, the
V——s at the station in time for the eleven o’clock train to Frascati,
we had a story of an inopportune call that had nearly been the fortieth
obstacle to the fruition of our scheme.

It was April, but the verdure of early summer was in trees and herbage.
Nature never sleeps in Italy. At the worst, she only lapses into
drowsiness on winter nights, and, next morning, confesses the breach
of decorum with a bewitching smile that earns for her abundant pardon.
The exuberance of her mood on this day was tropical and superb. The
tall grasses of the Campagna were gleaming surges before the wind,
laden with odors stolen from plains of tossing purple spikes—not
balls—yet which were clover to taste and smell. Red rivulets of
poppies twisted in and out of the corn-fields and splashed up to the
edge of the railway, and ox-eyed daisies were foamy masses upon the
scarlet streams. Even in Italy, and in spring-tide, the olive is the
impersonation of calm melancholy. In all the voluptuous glory of this
weather, the olive trees stood pale, passionless, patient, holding on
to their hillsides, not for life’s, but for duty’s sake, sustaining
resolution and disregarding gravitation, by casting backward, grappling
roots above the soil, like anchors played out in rough seas. They could
not make the landscape sad, but they chastened it into milder beauty.
Between dark clumps of ilex, overtopped by stately stone pines—ruined
towers and battlements told their tale of days and races now no more,
as the white walls of modern villas, embosomed in groves of nectarine
and almond, and flowering-chestnut trees—like sunset clouds for rosy
softness—bespoke present affluence and tranquillity in which to enjoy
it.

In half an hour we were at the Frascati station. A mile of steep
carriage-drive that granted us, at every turn in the ascent, new and
delightful views, brought us to the cathedral. It is very ugly and
uninteresting except for the circumstance that just within it is the
monument dedicated by Cardinal York to his brother, Charles Edward,
better known by his sobriquet of “Young Pretender,” than by the string
of Latin titles informing us of his inherited rights and claim.
Vexatious emptiness though these were, the recitation of them appears
to have been the pabulum of soul and spirit to the exiled Stuarts unto
the third generation.

We lunched moderately well—being hungry—at the best inn in Frascati,
and discarding the donkeys and donkey-boys clustering like flies in
the cathedral piazza, we bargained for four “good horses” to take us
up to Tusculum. Mrs. V—— was not well, and remained at the hotel while
our cavalcade, attended by two guides, wound up the hill. The element
of the ludicrous, never lacking upon such expeditions, came promptly
and boldly to the front by the time we were fairly mounted, and hung
about the party until we alighted in the same spot on our return. Dr.
V—— stands six feet, four, in low-heeled slippers, and to him, as
seemed fit, was awarded the tallest steed. Prima’s was a gaunt beast,
whose sleepy eyes and depressed head bore out the master’s asseveration
that he was quiet as a lamb. Caput’s horse was of medium height and
abounding in capers, a matter of no moment until it was discovered that
my lamb objected to be mounted, and refused to be guided by a woman.
After a due amount of prancing and curveting had demonstrated this
idiosyncrasy to be no mere notion on my part, a general exchange,
leaving out Prima, was effected. I was lifted to the back of the
lofty creature who had borne Dr. V——. Caput demanded the privilege of
subduing the misogynist. To the lot of our amiable son of Anak fell a
Rosinante, who, as respectable perhaps in his way as his rider was in
his, became, by the conjunction of the twain, an absurd hexaped that
provoked the spectators to roars of laughter, his rider leading and
exceeding the rest.

“The tomb of Lucullus!” he sobered us by exclaiming, pointing to a
circular mass of masonry by the roadside. “That is to say, the reputed
tomb. We know that he was Cicero’s neighbor—that they borrowed one
another’s books in person.”

The books that, Cicero tells Atticus, “gave a soul to his house!”
The brief, every-day phrase indicative of the neighborliness of the
two celebrated Romans made real men of them, and the region familiar
ground. The road lay between oaks, chestnuts, laurels, and thickets
of laurestinus, the leaves shining as with fresh varnish—straight up
the mountain, until it became a shaded lane, paved with polygonal
blocks of lava. This is, incontestably, the ancient road to Tusculum,
discovered and opened within fifty years. The banks were a mosaic
of wild flowers;—the largest daisies and anemones we had yet seen,
cyclamen, violets, and scores of others unknown by sight or name to
us. In response to our cry of delight, both gentlemen reined in their
horses, and Dr. V—— alighted to collect a bouquet. The tightening of
Caput’s rein brought his horse’s ears so near his own, he had to throw
his head back suddenly to save his face. The animal had a camel’s neck
in length and suppleness,—a mule’s in stubbornness, and put upon, or
off, his mettle by the abrupt jerk, he gave marvelous illustrations
of these qualities. He could waltz upon four legs or upon two; dance
fast or slow; rear and kick at once, or stand like a petrifaction under
whip, spur, and an enfilading fire of Italian and American expletives;
but his neck was ever _the_ feature of the performance. Whether he made
of it a rail, an inclined iron plane, the handle of a jug, or a double
bow-knot, it was true to one purpose—not to obey rein or rider.

“The wretched brute has no martingale on!” cried the latter, at length.
“See, here! you scamp! Ecco! Voilà! V——! what is the Italian for
martingale? Ask that fellow what he means by giving such a horse to a
lady, or to any one whose life is of any value, without putting curb or
martingale upon him?”

The doctor, who, by the way, was once described to me by a Roman
shopkeeper as the “tall American, with the long beard, and who speaks
Italian so beautifully,” opened parley, when he could control his
risibles, with the owner of the “_molto buono_” animal.

“He says he could not put upon him what he does not possess,” was the
epitome of the reply. “That he has but three martingales. And there are
four horses. Supply inadequate to demand, my dear fellow! He implores
the _signore Americano_ to be reasonable.”

“Reasonable!” The signore swung himself to the ground. “Say to him,
with my compliments, that I implore him to take charge of a horse that
is altogether worthy,—if that could be—of his master! I shall walk!
_He_ ought to be made to ride!”

We begged off the cowering delinquent from this extreme of retribution.
Picking up the bridle flung to him, he followed us at a disconsolate
and respectful distance. Cicero had a fine, peppery temper of his own.
Did he ever have a fracas with his charioteer in this steep lane, I
wonder?

We dismounted at what are supposed to be the ruins of his Villa. Some
archæologists give the preference to the spot now occupied by the Villa
Ruffinella, which we had seen on our way up. The best authorities had
decided, at the date of our excursion to Tusculum, that the orator’s
favorite residence, “_ad latera superiora_” of the eminence culminating
in the Tusculan fortress, stood nearer the city than was once thought,
and that its remains are the thick walls and vaulted doorway we
examined in profound belief in this theory. It is not an extensive
nor a very picturesque remainder, although the buried foundations
may be traced over a vast area. Against the sunniest wall grows an
immense ivy-tree, spreading broad arms and tenacious fingers over
the brick-work. The side adhering to the wall is flat, of course. We
measured the outer surface, at the height of five feet from the ground.
It was thirty-nine inches from side to side. This may almost be rated
as the diameter, the bark being very slightly protuberant.

For beauty of situation the Villa was without an equal. Forsyth
says,—“On the acclivity of the hill were scattered the villas of
Balbus, Brutus, Catullus, Metellus, Crassus, Pompey, Cæsar, Gabinus,
Lucullus, Lentulus and Varro, so that Cicero was in the midst of his
acquaintances and friends.”

“In that place, alone”—wrote Cicero of his Tusculan home to his best
friend and correspondent—“do I find rest and repose from all my
troubles and toil.”

In his “Essay upon Old Age,” he drawls an attractive picture of the
country-life of a gentleman-farmer at that time. I have not room
to transcribe it here, faithfully as it portrays the real tastes
and longings of the ambitious lawyer and successful politician.
“What need”—and there is a sigh for the Tusculan upper hillside in
the sentence—“to dwell upon the charm of the green fields, the
well-ordered shrubberies, the beauty of vineyards and olive-groves?”

These smile no more about the site of the desolated villa. Terraces,
slopes and summits are overgrown with wild grass. A few goats were
feeding upon these at the door where little Tullia—the “Tulliola” of
the fond father—his “_delicia nostræ_”—may have frolicked while he
watched her from the colonnade overlooking Rome,—or one of “the seats
with niches against the wall adorned with pictures;”—or, still, within
sound of her voice, wrote in his library to Atticus, that the young
lady threatened to sue him, (Atticus,) for breach of contract in not
having sent her a promised gift.

The paved road, firm velvet ridges of turf rising between the blocks,
runs beyond the Villa, directly to a small theatre. The upper walls
are gone, but the foundations are entire, with fifteen rows of seats.
It is a semicircular hollow in the turfy bank, excavated by Lucien
Bonaparte while he lived at Villa Ruffinella. We descended half a
dozen steps and stood upon the stone platform where it is generally
believed Cicero held the famous Tusculan Disputations. The topics of
these familiar dialogues or talks were “Contempt of Death,” “Constancy
in Suffering,” and the like. Did he draw consolation from a review of
his own philosophy, upon that bitter day when, deserted by partisans,
and chased by his enemies, he withdrew to his beloved “Tusculaneum” and
from these heights looked down upon the city whose pride he had been?—

    “_Rerum, pulcherrima Roma!_”

Waiting, doubting, dreading, he at length received the news that a
price had been set upon his head, fled in a blind, strange panic;
returned upon his steps; again took flight, doubled a second time upon
the track, and sat down, stunned and desperate, to await the death-blow.

Instead of the myrtle-tree, thorn-bushes and brambles grow rankly in

    “The white streets of Tusculum.”

The reservoir that fed the aqueducts; the ruins of Forum and Theatre;
piles of nameless stones breaking through uncultivated moors; on the
side nearest Rome, mossy pillars of the old gateway; outside of this,
a stone drinking-trough set there in the days of the Consulate, and
through which still runs a stream of pure cold water,—this is what is
left of the town founded by the son of Circe and Ulysses; erst the
stanch ally of Rome, and the queen-city of Latium up to the battle of
Lake Regillus. The best view of the encompassing country is to be had
a little beyond the gateway. From this point is visible the natural
basin, shut in by wooded hills, which contains Lake Regillus, now a
stagnant pond, quite dry in summer. Under our feet were the stones from
which the hoofs of Mamilius’ dark-gray charger struck fire on the day
of battle.

Repeating the rhyme, we looked around to trace the route by which

    “He rushed through the gate of Tusculum;
     He rushed up the long white street;
     He rushed by tower and temple,
     And paused not from his race
     ’Till he stood before his master’s door
     In the stately market-place.”

“Poetry—not history!” objected one.

“Better than statistical facts!” said another.

Glancing in the direction of Rome, we were the witnesses of an
extraordinary atmospheric phenomenon. The city, a dozen miles away,
was lifted from the plain and floating upon a low-lying band of
radiant mist. The dome of St. Peter’s actually appeared to sway and
tremble as a balloon strains at its cords. The roofs were silver; the
pinnacles aërial towers. Thus the background, while between it and our
mountain, the Campagna was a gulf black as death with the shadow of a
thundercloud that had come we know not from what quarter. It was not
there five minutes ago. We had barely time to exclaim over the marvel
of contrasted light and gloom, when the cloud dropped like monstrous
bat-wings upon the valley, flew faster than did ever bird of day or
night toward us. There was not a roof in Tusculum. The guides brought
up the horses in haste, and three of us were in the saddle by the time
the first big drops dashed in our faces.

“_Ride!_” ejaculated the fourth, in response to the supplicating
pantomime of the leader of the unmartingaled beast. “On _that_ thing!”

Tusculum rain had not extinguished his sense of injury, and this was
insult. There was but one umbrella amongst us, and this was forced
upon me. Caput threw my bridle over his arm and walked at my tall
horse’s head, calmly regardless of the drenching storm. Dr. V—— and
his four-footed adjunct jogged placidly at the head of the line. Next
rode Prima, humming softly to herself, while cascades poured from her
hat-brim upon her shoulders, and her soaked dress distilled green
tears upon the sides of her white horse. We followed, I very high, and
selfishly dry. The guides, to whose outer men the plentiful washing was
an improvement, straggled along in the rear, leading the recalcitrant
horse. It was a forlorn-looking, but perfectly good-humored procession.
There was little danger of taking cold from summer rain in this
warm air. However this might be, to fret would be childish, to
rebel foolishly useless. Caput uttered the only protest against the
proceedings of the day, and that not until we left our horses in the
piazza in front of the cathedral, and waited in the sunshine succeeding
the shower, while the guides were paid.

“I don’t mind the walk up and down the mountain,” beating the wet from
his hat, and wiping the drops from his face. “Nor the wetting very
much, although my boots are ruined. I _do_ grudge giving ten francs for
the privilege of seeing that brigand lead his villanous horse three
miles!”

But he paid the bill.



CHAPTER XX.

_From Pompeii to Lake Avernus._


WE were at Naples and Pompeii in the winter, and again in the spring.
The Romans aver that most of the foreigners who die in their city with
fever, contract the disease in Naples. We credited this so far that we
preferred to make short visits to the latter place, and, while there,
passed much time in the open air. It is our conviction, moreover, that
little is to be apprehended from malaria in the worst-drained city of
Italy if visitors will stipulate invariably for bed-room and parlor
fires. The climate is deceitful, if not so desperately wicked as many
believe. Extremes of heat and cold are alike to be avoided, and the
endeavor to do this involves care and expense. It must be remembered
that in America we have no such winter suns as those that keep alive
the heart of the earth in Southern Europe. Nor are our houses stone
grottoes, constructed with express reference to the exclusion of
the fierce heats of eight months of the year. The natives affect to
despise fires in their houses except a charcoal-blast in the kitchen
while meals are cooking, and a brazier, or _scaldino_ of coals in the
_portière’s_ lodge, in very cold weather. Our Roman visitors evidently
regarded the undying wood-fire in our _salle_ as an extravagant
caprice. It was pretty, they admitted. It pleased their æsthetic
taste, and they never failed to praise it, in taking their seats as
far as possible from it. Indoor life to them is a matter of secondary
importance in comparison with driving, walking and visiting. The ladies
have few domestic duties, or such intellectual pursuits as would tempt
them to sit for hours together at home. Cookery, sewing and housework
are done by hirelings, who are plentiful, content with low wages and
who live upon salads, black bread and sour wine, never expecting even
savory crumbs left by their employers. Americans are apt to construe
literally the injunction to live in Rome as the Romans do, leaving out
of view the grave consideration that they are not, also, born and bred
Italians. They have cold feet incessantly, even at night, they will
tell you; are chilled to the marrow by stone walls and floors; the
linen sheets are so many snow-drifts; the air of their apartments is
that of ice-vaults upon their incoming from outdoor excursions.

“Yet, it is too absurd to have fires in this lovely weather! Who would
think of such a thing at home on a June day?”

Forgetting that “at home” the June air would make its way to the inner
chambers and modify the temperature of the very cellars. One more
sanitary hint, and I leave practical suggestions for the present. Wear
thick flannels and woolen stockings in the Italian winter, and keep
at hand light shawls or sacques that may be cast about the shoulders
indoors, in laying aside the wrappings you have worn in the street.
Always recollect that the danger of taking cold is greatest in coming
in, not in going out.

The winter weather in Naples was so fine as to banish our fears of
illness. We had heard that sea-storms a week long were not uncommon at
that season, and to make sure of Pompeii, drove out thither, the day
after our arrival. The entrance to the long-entombed city provoked and
amused us. The Hôtel Dioméde is to the eye a second-class lager-bier
saloon, the name conspicuous above the entrance. A smart and dirty
waiter ran down the steps, opened the carriage-door, and ushered us
into the restaurant, where the proprietor received us bowingly, and
pressed upon us the hospitalities of the establishment.

Crest-fallen at the news that we had lunched, he opined,
notwithstanding, that we would purchase something in the Museum, and
passed us on to the custodian of the inner room. This was stocked with
trinkets, vases, manufactured antiquities, etc., prepared to meet the
wants of those travellers to whom a cheap imitation is better than a
costly original; people who wear lava brooches and bracelets, crowd
their mantels with mock Parian images and talk of “_Eye_talians” and
“Pompey-_eye_.” We were not to be stayed, having seen the turf and sky
beyond the back-door.

A flight of steps took us up to a high terrace where was the
ticket-office. A revolving bar passed us through between two guards. A
guide in the same uniform was introduced to us.

“No. 27 will show you whatever you wish to see,” said an officer.

No. 27 touched his cap, and belonged to us henceforth.

No ashes, or scoria heaps yet! No ruins,—no lava! For all we could
perceive—no Pompeii. Only a pleasant walk between high turfed banks and
portulacca-beds, with Vesuvius, still and majestic, a mile or two away,
a plume of white vapor curling slowly above the cone. We traversed a
short, covered corridor, and began the ascent of a paved alley—dead
walls on each side.

“_Porta della Marina!_ _Via della Marina!_” said our guide, then,
translating into French the information that we had entered Pompeii by
the Gate and the Street of the Sea—the highway of city-traffic before
the imprisoned demons of the mountain broke bounds.

The streets are all alleys, like this first, laid with heavy polygonal
blocks of tufa, and grooved—most deeply and sharply at the corners—by
wheels. The ruts of Glaucus’ chariot-wheels! But what were the
dimensions of the bronze vehicle “of the most fastidious and graceful
fashion,” drawn by _two_ horses of Parthian breed that “glided rapidly”
by others of the same build between these blocks of buildings? Or was
there a Pompeian law requiring those who went in a certain direction to
proceed by specified streets?

We were not prepared for the difficulty of ascertaining which was the
West End of the town which Glaucus tells Clodius, “had the brilliancy
of luxury without the lassitude of its pomp.” Nearly every house has
a shop attached to it. “Stalls” we would style them, in which the
brick counter, formerly covered with marble, takes up at least half
the room. The shops were closed at night by wooden doors or shutters
filling up the entire width of the front. These, having decayed or
burned away, the visitor steps from the street into the cell walled
in on three sides, and roofless. The entrance to the dwelling had no
connection whatever with the stall built on to it. If this was the
proprietor’s abode, he, in genuine Epicurean fashion, “sank the shop”
out of work-hours. It is supposed that the wealthier citizens rented
their street-fronts at a high rate, to tradespeople, without the
consequent depreciation of gentility that would befall a member of New
York uppertendom, were he to “live over” or back of a “store.” Another
surprise was the band-box tenements in which people who made more
account of ease and beauty than of their own immortality, contrived to
live. The vestibule, running beside the shop-wall from the street into
the Lilliputian mansion, is scarcely five feet wide in some of the best
houses. The court-yard behind is not larger than a square table-cloth;
the fountain-basin in the middle resembles a big punch-bowl. Beyond
this, separated now by a marble or paved walk, formerly, also, by a
curtain that could be raised or lowered, is a larger court. This part
of the building was devoted to such public dealings as the owner might
have with the outer world. Here he received office-seekers, beggars
and book-agents; paid bills and gave orders. The family court—the
_peristylium_—was still further back, and usually raised by the height
of a marble step above the second. This was enclosed by pillars,
painted red, a quarter of the way up,—the rest white. Another curtain
shut in this sanctum from the general gaze. In the middle of the court
was a flower-bed, its centre a fountain. About these three courts were
built dining-room, kitchen, dressing- and bed-rooms and other family
apartments. The upper stories were of wood and usually occupied as
servants’ dormitories. These have slowly mouldered away, having been,
some think, calcined by the hot ashes. There are, of course, variations
upon this plan, and some mansions of respectable size without the
commercial attachment, but the above may serve as an outline draught of
the typical Pompeian dwelling, even of the richer classes.

“Have you read the ‘Last Days of Pompeii?’” the guide amazed us by
saying when we had wandered in his wake for an hour.

We had a copy with us and showed it to him. He believed it to be an
Italian work, it presently appeared, having read it in that language,
_sans_ preface, we suppose, for he also accepted it as sober, veracious
history. We allowed ourselves to share his delusion in beholding the
plot of ground—a sheet would have covered it—in which Nydia tended
the flowers of Glaucus; the shrine of the Penates at the back of the
peristyle; the _triclinum_—or banqueting-room in which the young Greek
supped with Lepidus, Pansa, Sallust, Clodius and his _umbra_; where
the slave-carver “performed that office upon the Ambracian kid to the
sound of music, his knife keeping time, beginning with a low tenor, and
accomplishing the arduous feat amidst a magnificent diapason.”

The apartment is, like the others, small but well-proportioned, and
the frescoes are still quite distinct. We allotted places to the host
and his several guests about an imaginary table, the guide smiling at
our animated interest without a misgiving that the _dramatis personæ_
were dream-children of Signore Bulwer’s brain. I dare not attempt his
Italianization of the noble author’s title. Workmen were repairing the
step by which we left the inner court for the _tablium_, or master’s
office. An accident had shivered the marble sheathing and several
bits were cast aside as worthless. With the guide’s sanction, I
pocketed them, and afterward had them made into dainty little salvers,
purely clear as the finest Parian, or the enamored Glaucus’ ideal of
Ione—“that nymph-like beauty which for months had shone down upon the
waters of his memory.”

The silence that has its home in the deserted city is something to
dream of,—not describe. The town is swept and clean—doubtless cleaner
than when the gargoyles on the fountains at every other corner gushed
with fresh winter. That the Pompeians were a thirsty race, water- as
well as wine-bibbers,—is distinctly proved by the hollows worn in the
stone sides of these enclosed hydrants, just where a man would rest his
hand and lean his whole weight to swing his body around in order to
bring his lips in contact with the stream from the carved spout. No.
27 showed us how it was done and by the simple action made stillness
and solitude more profound. Thousands of swarthy hands—the callous
palms of laborer and peasant,—must have rested thus for hundreds of
years to produce such abrasion of the solid stone. And here were he
and five pale-faced strangers,—the only living things in sight in a
street of yawning shop-fronts, built in compact blocks; to the right
a grove of columns and expanse of tessellated flooring—the Temple of
Justice, to which none now resorted, to which none would ever come
again for redress or penalty, while Time endures. Wherever the eye
fell were temples of deities whose names live only in mythology and in
song, the shrines and fanes of a dead Religion. This was the strangest
sight of all;—in this professedly Christian land, temples and altars
with the traces of slain and bloodless sacrifices that had smoked
upon them, to Mercury and Jupiter and Venus. There was the temple of
Isis—whose statue we saw, subsequently, in the Neapolitan Museum,—with
the chamber where the priests held their foul orgies, and the secret
passage by which they reached the speaking-tube concealed in the body
of the goddess; and the room in which Calenus and Burbo were found.
An earthquake may have overthrown upper chambers and toppled down
images but yesterday. Yet it is a city in which there is not the sign
of a cross, or other token that Christ was born and died; whose last
inhabitants and worshippers ate, drank, married and were given in
marriage in the name of Juno, while He walked the earth.

I have said that Pompeii is a band-box edition that looks like a
caricature of a town in which men once lived and traded and reveled.
The bed-rooms in the houses of Glaucus, Sallust, Pansa and even
in Diomed’s Villa, are no larger than the wardrobe closet of a
Philadelphia mechanic’s wife. A brick projection fills up one side. On
this the bed was laid. In some there are no windows; in others were
slits to admit air, but through which, owing to the thickness of the
walls and the contiguity of other buildings, little light could have
entered. The positive assertion of guide-books that window-glass was
unknown to the Pompeians is contradicted by the recent excavation of
a house in which a fragment of a pane still adheres to one of these
apertures. We saw it and can testify that it was a bit of indubitable
glass, set firmly in its casing. How Julia and Ione contrived to
light their dressing-rooms sufficiently to make such toilettes as
we see in ancient paintings, baffles our invention when we look at
the glimmering loop-holes and the tiny lamps that held but a few
thimblefuls of perfumed oil. Bulwer calls the _cubicula_ and boudoirs
“petty pigeon-holes,” but alleges that these darkened chambers were
“the effect of the most elaborate study”—that “they sought coolness
and shade.” We are dubious, in reading further of the fair Julia’s
toilette-appointments, that her “eye, accustomed to a certain darkness,
was sufficiently acute to perceive exactly what colors were the most
becoming—what shade of the delicate rouge gave the brightest beam to
her dark glance,” etc. In one house of the better—i. e.—larger sort—is
a really cozy boudoir, almost big enough to accommodate two people, a
dressing-table and a chair. The floor is in mosaic, wrought, as was
the Pompeian fashion, of bits of marble, black and white, less than
half-an-inch square, set with cement. The central design is a pretty
conceit of three doves, rifling a jewel-casket of ropes of pearls. This
work, like the image of the bear in the house to which it has given its
name, is covered with coarse sand to protect it from the weather. “The
fierce dog painted”—in mosaic—“on the threshold” of Glaucus’ house, has
been removed, with the immense “Battle of Darius and Alexander,” to the
Naples museum.

The variety and affluence of decoration in these dollhouses is
bewildering to the Occidental of this century. Every inch of wall and
floor was crowded with pictures in fresco and mosaic; statues in bronze
and marble adorned recess and court, and if the pearl-ropes perished
with her who wore them, there are enough cameos and intaglios of rarest
design and cutting; chains, bracelets, tiaras, finger and earrings and
necklaces, in the Neapolitan Museum, to indicate what were the other
riches of the despoiled casket.

I wish I could talk for awhile about this Museum, so unlike any other
in the world. Of its statuary, vases and paintings; of the furniture,
so odd and yet so beautiful, taken from the unroofed dwellings; of the
contents of baker’s, grocer’s, fruiterer’s, artist’s, jeweller’s and
druggist’s shops; of the variety of household implements that were
familiar to us through others of like pattern upon the shelves of our
own pantries and kitchens. Of patty-pans, fluted cake-moulds with
funnels in the middle; of sugar-tongs; ice-pitchers and coffee-urns;
of chafing-dishes, colanders and tea-strainers; sugar-scoops and
flour-sifters. Of just such oval “gem”-pans, fastened together by the
dozen, as I had pleased myself by buying the year before—as “quite a
new idea.” When I finally came upon a sheet-iron vessel, identical
in size and form with those that await the scavenger upon Fifth
Avenue sidewalks; beheld the dent made by the kick of the Pompeian
street-boy, the rim scorched by red-hot ashes “heaved” into it by
the scullion whose untidiness and irresponsibility foreshadowed the
nineteenth-century “help”—I sank upon the edge of a dismantled couch
that may have belonged to the Widow Fulvia, profound respect for the
wisdom of the Preacher filling my soul and welling up to my tongue!

“Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See! this is new?’ It hath
been already of old time which was before us.”

I did not see clothes-wringer, vertical broiler, or Dover egg-beater,
but I make no doubt they were there, tucked away in corners I had
not time and strength to explore, behind a sewing-machine and
telephone-apparatus.

We have not—as yet—reproduced in America the so-termed nearly extinct
volcano of Solfatara. It is near the road from Naples to Baiæ.

I am tempted to lay down my pen in sheer discouragement at the thought
of what we saw in that drive of twelve hours, and how little space I
ought, in consistency with the plan of this work, to devote to it. Baia
was the Newport of Neapolis and other cities of Southern Italy, under
the consuls and emperors. Many rich Romans had summer-seats there, and
it had, likewise, a national reputation as the abode of philosophers
and authors.

“I grant the charms of Baiæ,” Bulwer puts into Glaucus’ mouth. “But I
love not the pedants who resort there, and who seem to weigh out their
pleasures by the drachm.”

The route thither lies through, or above the grotto of Posilipo, a
tunnel built, some assert, by order of Nero—the only commendable deed
recorded of him. On the principle, “To him that hath shall be given,”
others choose to ascribe the work to Augustus. It is certain that the
grotto existed in Nero’s time, as his contemporaries mention its gloom
and straitness. The tomb of Virgil is hidden among the vineyards on the
hill to the left as one leaves the tunnel, going from Naples. The tomb
beside which Petrarch planted a laurel! One of its remote successors
still flourishes—somewhat—at the door of the structure which belongs
to the class of Columbaria. A good-sized chamber has three windows
and a concave ceiling. Around the walls are pigeon-holes for cinerary
urns. There was a larger cavity between this room and a rear wall,
in which tradition insists Virgil was interred in compliance with his
often-expressed desire. Antiquarians and historians have squabbled over
the spot until plain people, with straightforward ways of thought,
question if Virgil ever lived at Posilipo, or elsewhere than in the
imagination of his countrymen. It is recorded that an urn, sealing up
his ashes, was here about the middle of the fourteenth century, and
that, running around the lip, was the epitaph known to every classic
smatterer, beginning—

    “_Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere._”

Neither urn nor epitaph remains. A later inscription commences, “Qui
cineres?” Most visitors “give it up.” But Petrarch was here once, and
King Robert of Sicily, who helped Laura’s lover plant the laurel. And
Virgil—or his ashes—may have been. We generally gave the departed the
benefit of the doubt in such circumstances.

A mile aside from the Baiæ road is the Grotto del Cane, distinguished
for dogs and mephitic vapors, which, as Henry Bergh’s country-people,
we declined to enter.

Pozzuoli—Puteoli, when Paul landed there, after his shipwreck—is a
dirty, sleepy little town, in general complexion so dingy, and in
expression so down-hearted, the visitor is inclined to suspect that
its self-disgust had something to do with the gradual sinking of its
foundations for the last three hundred years. The steps by which St.
Paul gained the pier are dimly visible under the waters lapping lazily
above them. Nothing seems alive but the breeze, fragrant of sea-brine,
and shaking the blue surface of the bay into wavering lines and bars of
shaded green, purple, and silver, that were worth seeing if Puteoli was
not.

We alighted at the Temple of Serapis, _restored_ by Marcus Aurelius
and Septimus Severus. The site has shared the fate of Pozzuoli, having
been lowered by a succession of volcanic shocks a dozen feet below its
former level. The Egyptian deity was magnificently enthroned before the
decline of paganism, and this sea-side country, upon a pedestal in a
circular temple, enclosed by a portico of Corinthian columns—African
marble—sixteen in number. The pillars have been removed to the royal
palace at Caserta, and the salt ooze lies, sullen and green, over their
bases. The quadrangle of the temple had once its guard of forty-eight
granite columns, and a porch supported by six of marble, three of
which are left standing. It is a mournful ruin, the water lying deep
in the sunken centre and in pools over the highest part of the uneven
pavement, and is not made cheerful by the incongruous addition of
bath-houses on one side. Salt springs, some of them hot, broke through
the crust at the latest eruption—that which threw up Monte Nuovo in
1538.

Cicero had a villa on this coast—the “Puteolaneum,” beloved only less
than Tusculaneum. It was built upon rising ground, now occupied by a
vineyard and orchard, but commanding a beautiful view of sea and shore.
Here, Hadrian was buried after his decease at Baiæ, A.D. 138, and
rested until the construction of his Roman mausoleum.

Passing the amphitheatre of Pozzuoli, crumbled down to the seats, in
the arena of which Nero fought in person, and Diocletian fed wild
beasts with Christian martyrs by the hundred; by the chapel that
commemorates the death of Januarius, the patron saint of Naples, we
were in a steep road full of rough stones—a country lane where horses
could hardly hold their footing. Here Ernesto, the useful, who was,
at once, coachman and guide, informed us regretfully, that we must
walk to the gate of Solfatara. Moreover, with augmented regret—that,
although he had, up to this point, been able to protect us from the
sallies of other _ciceroni_, at, at least, five places where Baedeker
parenthesizes—(“Guide—1 franc for each pers.”)—he dared not push
righteous audacity too far. The tempers of the Solfatara men were
uncertain and hot, like their volcano—(nearly extinct).

“I veel stay ’ere veez de ’orses!” subjoined Ernesto, who means to go
to America in eight or ten years’ time, to seek a coachman’s place, and
practises English diligently to that end. “You veel meet at de gate von
man, verra ceevil, who veel zhow you all!”

The civil man awaited us at the top of the short, sharp climb; undid
the gate of the enclosure, and called our attention to the stucco
manufactory on the inside of the high fence. In his esteem, it
outranked the subterranean works whose bellowing and puffing filled
our ears. The earth used for this stucco is a pink pumice or clay,
pleasing to the eye and very plastic. The plain is composed entirely of
it. Men were digging and donkey-carts transporting it to a long shed
by the gate, where a huge wheel ground it into paste. Tumuli of the
same, natural and artificial, were scattered over the area, which is
an oblong basin among chalky hills. At brief intervals, smoke ascended
slowly from cracks in the arid earth which was hot to the touch. A man
stood near the volcano (nearly extinct) ready to hurl a big stone upon
the ground and awaken hollow echoes that rumbled away until lost in the
sea on one hand, among the volcanic hills on the other.

If Solfatara were in her usual mood that day, her reputed half-death is
an alarmingly energetic condition. Bunyan saw the place in his dreams
twice:

“About the midst of the valley, I perceived the mouth of hell to be.
Ever and anon the flame and smoke would come out in abundance, with
sparks and hideous noises. The flames would be reaching towards him;
also, he heard doleful noises and rushings to and fro.”

Again: “There was a door in the side of a hill. Within, it was very
dark and smoky. They also thought that they heard there a rumbling
noise as of fire, and a cry as of some tormented, and that they smelt
the scent of brimstone. The shepherds told them—‘This is a by-way to
hell.’”

So said our very civil man.

“What makes the noise down there?” I asked, loudly, to be heard above
the roaring and groaning.

“The fire, Madame!”

“But who keeps up the fires?”

“The devil, Madame, without question. That is his home.”

We listened. The sound, when we were somewhat used to it, had a
diabolical rhythm, as of the rise and fall of a thousand pistons,
propelled by a head of steam that, without this safety-valve, would
rend the solid globe asunder. It was angry, threatening, fiendish. The
deep crevice was faced with bright crystals of sulphur that glowed like
gems between the bursts of smoke. A man broke off some with a long
pole, and dragged them out to cool until we could handle them. The
ground is saturated with sulphurous gases, and the lips of the numerous
fissures encrusted with sulphites and alum. The idea of the conscious
malignity of the volcano was sustained by the warning of two of the men
standing near to a gentleman who had lighted a cigar.

“No! no! the signore must not bring that here. _She_ will not allow it.
_Ecco!_” as a volume of stifling vapor gushed out in our direction. “It
comes to you, you see!”

“Government monopoly! No interference tolerated,” said Caput, as the
offender retreated.

“It is always so! She does not like cigars, nor so much as a match,”
was all the solution we could get from the men of the phenomenon. “She
will smoke. Nobody else must.”

Fifty yards to the right of the nearly extinct crater is a fountain
of hot mud in a little hollow. An ugly, restless thing, that shivers
and heaves continually, and, every few moments, spouts like a whale,
or an uneasy villain whose conscience periodically betrays him into a
visible casting up of mire and dirt. The mud is a greasy black compound
of unpleasant ingredients, beginning with brimstone, and, to test the
heat, our civil man offered to boil eggs in it.

“Suppose one were to fall in?” queried I, eying the chaldron in
expectation of the next upward rush.

“Ah, Madame! he would be boiled also. Unless he should go too soon, all
the way _down_,” pointing ominously.

The horrible stuff trembled, surged in the middle as if a goblin-head
were rising—bubbled, and sank with a groan. The imp would try it again
presently, perhaps emerge to sight. I continued to gaze.

“Madame!” said a deprecating voice.

My friends had moved away. The guide, in the act of following, had
glanced back, and, seeing me motionless beside the mammoth egg-boiler,
recalling my question, descried suicidal intent in my eye and mien, and
rushed back to avert a _contretemps_ that might hurt his reputation as
a safe conductor and civil man.

“The friends of Madame await her,” he said, insinuatingly. “Nor is
it good for the lungs of Madame to inhale the gas from the pool,”
affecting to cough. “The pool is not handsome. In effect, it is a devil
of a place! Will not Madame have the goodness to walk on? There are
other things to see, very interesting!”

I laughed, frightening him still more, I fear, for he kept near me all
the time we were in the grounds, and whispered significantly to the
gate-keeper as I passed out. Hawthorne doubts if his Zenobia would
have drowned herself had she foreseen how disfigured a thing would be
dragged up by the grappling-hook. Similar knowledge of feminine nature
would have corrected our civil man’s suspicion of me. _Felo de se_ in
a boiling mud-hole would not tempt the maddest maniac who had, ever in
her life, cared to look in her mirror.

Monte Nuovo is a really dead, if not gone, volcano, a mile and a half
to the west of Pozzuoli. It came up in a night in 1538—a conical hill
of considerable height—a conglomerate of lava, trachyte, pumice and
ashes, now covered with shrubs and trees. The earthquake that created
it, lowered the coast and cut off Lake Lacrinus from the sea. In
mythological days, Hercules built a breakwater here that he might drive
the bulls of Geryon from the neighboring marshes. This sank at the
Monte Nuovo rising, but can be seen when the water is calm, together
with ruined piers and masses of masonry. A road branches off here from
the Baiæ thoroughfare to Lake Avernus.

Leaving the carriage on the shore of the latter, we went on foot to
the Grotto of the Sibyl. It is a dark, damp opening in the hill on
the south side of the lake. Rank vines festoon and evergreen thickets
overshadow the mouth. Five or six fellows, with unshorn hair and
beards, and in sheepskin coats and hats, clamored for permission to
pilot us through the long passage—the fabled entrance of hell—into the
central hall which lies midway between Lakes Avernus and Lacrinus.

“Should not be attempted by ladies!” cried Miss M—— from her open
Baedeker.

One and all, we raised remonstrative voices against the resolution of
our escort to penetrate the recess. Not see it when Homer had sung of
it and Virgil depicted the descent of Æneas by this very route to the
infernal regions! This was the protest as vehement as our entreaties.
One might draw inferences the reverse of complimentary to himself from
our alarm. Of what should he be afraid?

Had he heard how our friend, Mr. H——, after being carried in the
guide’s arms through the shallow pool covering the grotto-floor, had
been set down on the other side and forced to pay ten francs before the
wretch would bring him back?

Yes! he had had the tale from the victim’s lips.

“And should I not appear within the hour, send Ernesto in to see what
has become of me. Two honest men are a match for six such cutthroats
as these. I must own, candidly, that I never beheld worse countenances
and toilettes. If they won’t bring me back, I can wade through twelve
inches of water. Now, my fine fellows—are you ready?”

They had lighted their candles, strapped their breeches above their
knees and looked like utterly disreputable butchers, prepared for the
shambles.

We were ill-at-ease about the adventure, but, dissembling this for the
sake of appearances, before the brace of desperadoes who had remained
outside,—it would seem to watch us—strolled to the edge of the water
and sat down in the shade. The lake is a cup, two hundred feet in
depth, less than two miles in circumference, with a rich setting of
wooded hills. It was joined to Lacrinus in the reign of Augustus by
canals, and Roman fleets lay here in a sheltered harbor, Monte Nuovo
cut off this communication, traces of which can be seen in both lakes.
At the upper end of Avernus are the fine ruins of a Temple of Apollo.
We knew the ancient stories of noxious exhalations that killed birds
while flying over it, and of other manifest horrors of the location;
of gullies, infested by Cimmerian shades; of the Styx, draining its
slow waters in their sevenfold circuit of hell, by an underground
current from the bottom of this reservoir; of the ghostly boatman, the
splash of whose oars could be heard in the breathless solitude of these
accursed shores. Upon the hillsides, in the noisome depths of forests
polluted by the effluvia of the waters, smoked sacrifices to Hecate.

We saw a placid sheet, mirroring the skies as purely as do Como and
Windermere. The ravines were cloaked by chestnuts and laurels, and the
hills upon the thither side were clothed with vineyards. A lonely place
it is, with a brooding hush upon it that was not wholly imaginary. It
is assuredly not unlovely, nor in the slightest degree forbidding. The
only uncanny object we found was a vine at the entrance of the grotto.
It had a twisting, tough stem, and leaves in shape somewhat resembling
the ivy, although larger and more succulent, each marked in white
with the distinct impression of a serpent. Upon no two was the image
exactly the same in form or position, but the snake was there in all,
partly coiled, partly trailing over the dark-green surface, clearly
visible even to the scales, the head and, in some, the forked tongue.
We remembered the pampered viper of the witch of Vesuvius, and wondered
if the Sibylline spell had perpetuated in the leaving of this vine, the
image of a favorite familiar, or cursed a hated plant with this brand.
We gathered and pressed a handful of the mystic leaves from which the
sinuous lines faded with the verdure into a dull brown, after some
weeks.

The pair of cutthroats, removed to a barely respectful distance,
whispered together as we examined our floral gains, staring at us
from under black eyebrows. Traditions, known to the peasants, may have
divulged the secret of the odd veining. More likely—our neighbors were
objurgating Victor Emmanuel and his obedient soldiery for spoiling the
honest trade of brigandage, and reminding one another how their honored
ancestors would have fleeced these bold _forestieri_. Brigandage was
a hereditary possession in those fair old times; held in high esteem
by those who lived thereby, and, it was murmured, so gently rebuked by
the Government that it throve, not withered under the paternal frown.
It was openly asserted and generally believed that Cardinal Antonelli
came of such thievish and murderous stock, although he died the richest
man—save one—in Rome. The declension in Government morals on this head
may have had much to do with Caput’s triumphant egress from the cave
before the expiration of half the period he had named.

He reported the interior to consist of two narrow passages, ventilated
from above, and two chambers hewn in the rock. Through the larger
of these lay the entrance to the lower regions. No trace remains of
the route. Probably it was closed by earthquakes as useless, so many
other avenues to the same locality having been discovered. The smaller
room—the Sibyl’s Bath—is floored with mosaic and flooded to the depth
of a foot with tepid water, welling up in an adjacent nook. The walls
are smoke-blackened, the air is close, the ante-chamber to Hades less
imposing and more comfortless than when Ulysses passed this way, and
Dido’s perfidious lover was led by the Sibyl through corridor and hall
to the shadier realms underneath.

We stopped at a public house upon the Lucrine Lake, for lunch, and were
served with Falernian wine of really excellent flavor, and small yellow
oysters, tasting so strongly of copper as to be uneatable by us. People
get to liking them after many attempts, we were informed by Roman
epicures. One American gourmand, who had lived ten years in Italy, was
so far denaturalized as to protest that our “natives” are gross in size
and texture, and flavorless, when compared with these bilious-looking
bivalves.

“Baedeker says they were celebrated in ancient times,” remarked Miss
M——.

Glaucus regretted that he could not give his guests the oysters he
“had hoped to procure from Britain,” yet subjoins that “they want the
richness”—(the copperiness)—“of the Brundusium oyster.”

Old Baiæ is a heap of confusion and desolation that cumbers the hill
overlooking the modern town. The only ruins at all suggestive of the
state and luxury which were the boast of patrician Rome when Augustus
reigned and Horace wrote, are the foundations and part of the walls of
the Temples of Mercury and Diana. The former is around building with a
domed roof open-eyed at the top, like the Pantheon. Six horrible hags,
their parchment dewlaps dangling odiously, their black eyes glittering
with hunger and cunning, in rags like tattered bed-quilts, here insist
upon dancing the tarantella for the amusement of _forestieri_. They are
always in the temple. They have, presumably, no other abode. In other
doomed pleasant palaces than those of Babylon, the imagination takes up
Isaiah’s lament:—

“Their houses shall be full of doleful creatures, and _the daughters of
the owl shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there_!”

The Villa Bauli used to stand near Baiæ. Here, Nero plotted his
mother’s murder. Another ruined pile was the villa in which he
consented, with a feint of reluctance that did not impose upon his
accomplice, to the proposition of Anicetus to drown her by the sinking
of her galley. Julius Cæsar had a summer residence upon the neighboring
heights.

Ernesto brought us back to Naples over the hill of Posilipo, instead
of through the tunnel, gaining the summit when the glory of the
sunsetting was at fullest tide. Such light and such splendor as were
never before—or since—for us upon land or sea. To attempt description
in human speech would be, in me, presumption so rank as to verge upon
profanation. But when I would renew—in such faint measure as memory
and fancy can revive past ecstasy—the scene and emotion that made that
evening a joy for ever, I recite to myself words evoked by the view
from a true poet-soul and—

    “With dreamful eyes
     My spirit lies
     Under the walls of Paradise.”



CHAPTER XXI.

“_A Sorosis Lark._”


WHEN we left Naples in January the snow lay whitely upon the scarred
poll of Vesuvius. Yet, as we drove to the station, we were beset by
boys and girls running between the wheels of our carriage and ducking
under the horses’ heads, clamorously offering bouquets of roses,
violets and camellias that had blossomed in the open gardens. To save
the bones, for which they showed no regard, each of us loaded herself
with an immense bunch of flowers she was tempted, a dozen times before
night, to throw out of the car-window. I counted ten japonicas in
mine—white, creamy, and delicate pink—and I paid the black-eyed vender
fifty centimes, ten cents, for all.

We ran down to the sea-shore again in April, the laughing, fecund
April, that rioted over the Campagna the day we went to Tusculum.
Caput was detained in Rome, and I acted as chaperone to five of the
brightest, merriest American girls that ever set off upon a pleasure
trip. “A Sorosis Lark,” one named it, while another was inquisitive as
to the kinship of this bird to Athené’s owl.

We took the railway from Naples to Pompeii. Used as we were to the
odd jumble of old and new forced upon our notice on all public
lines of travel in the Old World, it yet gave us a queer thrill to
hear the station at Pompeii called out in the mechanical sing-song
that announces our arrival at “Richmond” or “Jersey City.” No. 27
was already engaged, much to our regret, but he recognized us, and
introduced his comrade, No. 18, who, he guaranteed, “would give
us satisfaction.” A jolly, kindly old fellow we found him to be,
more garrulous than his friend, but so staid and respectable that,
when I grew tired, I committed the four younger ladies to his
guardianship, and sat me down in company with my dear, and for so long,
fellow-traveller, Miss M——, upon the top step of the Temple of Jupiter
to rest, promising to rejoin the party at the house of Glaucus.

We spread our shawls upon the marble to make the seat safe and
comfortable, and when the voices of guide and girls were lost in
the distance, had, to all appearance, the exhumed city for our own.
Vesuvius was slightly restless at this date. The night before, we had
rushed out upon the balcony of the hotel parlor at a warning cry, and
seen the canopy of smoke above the mountain blood-red with reflections
from the crater. Now, as we watched the destroyer, fast bulging volumes
of vapor, white and gray, rose against the blue heavens. We pictured,
by their help, the Cimmerian gloom of the night-in-day that rained
ashes and scalding water upon fair and populous Pompeii. Night of
eighteen centuries to temple, mart and dwelling, leaving, when the
morning came, the bleached skeleton we now looked upon. “The City of
the Dead!” repeated Sir Walter Scott, over and again, as he surveyed
the disinterred ruins. Life seems absolutely suspended within its
gates. While we sat there, we heard neither twittering bird nor chirp
of insect. Even the lithe green lizards that frisk over and in other
ruined walls, shun these, blasted by the hot showers,—out of mind for
forty generations of living men.

We must have rested thus, and chatted softly of these things, for fully
half an hour, when a large party, appearing suddenly in the echoless
silence, from behind the walls of a neighboring court-yard, stared
curiously at us, and we remembered that our being there without a guide
was an infringement of rules. The custodian of the strangers assumed,
politely, that we had lost our way, and when we named our rendezvous,
directed us how to get thither by the shortest route. We were properly
grateful, and when his back was turned, chose our own way and time for
doing as we pleased. Were we not _habitués_ of Pompeii—friends of older
inhabitants than he dreamed of in his round?

We were too early, after all, for the rest, although long after the
hour agreed upon for the meeting. While Miss M—— sallied forth on a
private exploration of the vicinity, I sat in the shadow of the wall
upon the step of the peristyle once adorned by Nydia’s flower-borders,
and re-read the description of the scene between her and Glaucus
when, upon this very spot, he told the blind girl of his love for the
Neapolitan, summoning her from her graceful task of “sprinkling the
thirsting plants which seemed to brighten at her approach.” He had
bidden her seek him in the _triclinum_ over there—“the chamber of Leda”
when she had gathered the flowers he would send to Ione. Here, too, she
gave him the philtre that was to win his love, and robbed him of his
senses.

The laggards rejoined us before I had become impatient. Gay, fresh
voices put phantoms and musing to flight. All were in high good humor.
Their guide had allowed them to loiter and investigate to their heart’s
content, and presented each with a bit of seasoned soap eighteen
hundred years old, which, by the way, we tried that night and proved by
the “lathering” to be saponaceous and of good quality. He had dashed
their complacency by remarking, without the remotest suspicion that
he was uttering dispraise, that he always recognized Americans by
their nasal articulation, but reinstated himself in their favor and
themselves, also, by expressing surprise and delight that all four
could converse fluently in his native tongue. We extended our ramble
beyond the Villa of Diomed into the Street of Tombs—the Via Appia—that,
in former times, extended, without a break, all the way to Rome.

Was it in ostentatious display of their family mausoleums, or in
callous contempt of natural loves and human griefs, or, from a desire
to honor the _manes_ of the departed, and remind the living of their
mortality, that the traveler to these ancient cities entered them
between a double file of the dead? Was there recognition, however
vague, of the great fact that, through Death we gain Life?

We were to spend the night at Castellamare, and having, through a
provoking blunder for which we could only blame ourselves, missed the
five o’clock train, were obliged to remain in the Pompeii station
until nine. We had lunched at the restaurant—and a villainous lunch
it was—and being hungry and weary, and out of patience with our
stupidity, would have been held excusable by charitable people had
we been slightly cross. I record that we were not, as an additional
proof of the Tapleyish turn of the feminine disposition. I take no
credit to myself. I was tired beyond the ability to complain. Laid
upon a bench, cushioned by the spare wraps of the party, my head in
Prima’s lap, I beheld in admiration I lacked energy to express, the
unflagging good-humor of my charges; the “small, sweet courtesies” that
made harmless play of badinage and repartee. They called up a boy of
ten, the son of the station-master, from his hiding-place behind the
door communicating with the family apartments, and talked to him of
his life and likings. He was civil, but not clean—a shrewd, knavish
sprite, judging from his physiognomy, but a fond brother to the little
sister who soon crept after him. She wore a single garment that had,
probably, never been whole or neat in her existence of two years. Even
“our girls” could not pet her. But they spoke to her kindly as she
planted herself before them on her two naked feet, her neck encircled
by her brother’s arm, and gave her _bon-bons_. The boy bade her say,
“_Grazie!_” and supplemented her lisp with “Tank ’oo!” and “Goot
morning!”—his whole stock of English.

The four hours passed at last, and we quitted the dim waiting-room for
pitchy darkness and pouring rain outside. At Castellamare, we were set
down upon an open platform. The clouds were falling upon us in sheets;
the wind caught savagely at our light sun-umbrellas, our only defence
against the storm. The pavement was ankle-deep in water, and it was
ten o’clock at night. We had been recommended to go to Miss Baker’s
excellent _pension_ on the hill, but it was a full mile away, and we
were wet in an instant. In the dismayed confusion, nobody knew just
how it happened, or who first spoke the word of doom, but we packed
ourselves and dripping garments into carriages and were driven to the
Hôtel Royale. The land-lady—or housekeeper—stationed in the vestibule,
took in our plight and her advantage at one fell glance. She met us
with a feline smile, and we were hers.

“My mother is not well. We must have a room, with a fire, for her, _at
once_. And not too high up!” said Prima, breathlessly, not waiting to
mop her wet face and hair.

Felina smiled more widely; jingled her keys and studied the red rosette
of a slipper she put forward for that purpose.

“I have rooms—certainly.”

“Let us see them—please! This lady must not stand here in her wet
clothes!” cried all in one voice.

“Here” was a lofty passage whose stone floor was swept by draughts of
damp air.

“She will catch her death of cold!” subjoined Prima, frantic.

Felina put out another slipper; assured herself that the rosette was
upon it, also. “I have rooms. One large. Two small. On third floor.”

I will not prolong the scene. We stood where we were, in opposition
to our entreaties to be allowed to enter the _salle_, while the
negotiation was pending, until we agreed to take her three rooms,
unseen, at her prices. Extortionate we knew them to be and said as much
to Felina’s face, eliciting a tigerish expansion of the thin lips,
and—“As Mesdames like. I have said I have three rooms. One large. Two
small.”

Up one hundred (counted) stone stairs we trudged, to a barn of a room,
the sea breaking and the winds screaming against the outer walls. There
we learned that neither fire nor hot supper was to be our portion that
night, and that for meals served in bed-chambers an extra sum must be
paid.

“But you said we could not have supper down-stairs at this hour! We
have had no dinner. To say nothing of being wet to the skin. Cannot you
send up a bowl of hot soup?”

Of course the plea dashed vainly against her smile.

“But,” a touch of disdain for my weakness mingling with it, as she saw
the girls wrap me in dry blankets pulled from the bed, lay me upon the
sofa, and chafe my feet—“Madame can have a cup of tea should she desire
it.”

A very grand butler brought up the tea-equipage at eleven o’clock.
Spread upon a broad platter were as many slices of pale, cold mutton
as there were starving guests. A roll apiece was in the bread-tray.
A canine hunger was upon us. Our teeth chattered with cold and
nervousness. We chafed under the knowledge of being cheated, outwitted,
outraged. Yet when the _supper_ was set out upon the round table
wheeled up to my couch, and we recognized in it the climax of our woes,
we shouted with laughter until the waiter grinned in sympathy.

Then—we made a night of it—for two hours. We drained tea-pot and
kettle, and would have chewed the tea-leaves had any strength remained
in them; drank all the blue milk, and ate every lump of sugar; left
not a crumb of roll or meat to tell the tale of the abuse of hotel
and _padrona_ with which we seasoned their dryness. We told stories;
held discussions, historical, philosophical, and theological; laughed
handsomely at each other’s _bon-mots_, and were secretly vain of our
own,—wrapped, all the while, from head to heels in shawls, blankets,
and bedspreads, the girls with pillows under their feet to avoid the
chill of the flooring. The destined occupants of the small rooms kissed
us “Good night,” at last. Prima—still fuming, poor child! and marveling
audibly what report she should make to him whose latest words were an
exhortation “upon no account to let Mamma take cold,”—tucked me up
in one of the single beds, and pinned the flimsy curtains together.
They swayed and billowed in the gusts rushing between the joints of
the casements. The surf-roar was deafening; the wash of the waves so
distinct and sibilant, I fancied sometimes I heard it gurgling over
the floor. It was futile to think of sleep, but, after the fatigue
and excitement of the day, I watched out the hours between our late
bed-time and the dawn, not unhappily.

Castellamare is the ancient Stabiæ—or, more correctly speaking—it
occupied the site of that ill-starred town destroyed by the earthquake
that forced from Vesuvius ashes and boiling water-spouts upon Pompeii.
Here perished the elder Pliny, suffocated by the mephitic vapors of the
eruption. By morning the storm had exhausted itself. From my windows
I looked down upon the spot where Pliny died, and over a sea of the
matchless blue no one will believe in who sees the Bay of Naples in
pictures only. Overhead, a sky whose serenity had in it no reminiscence
of last night’s rage, bowed over the smiling earth.

We paid for our supper,—a franc for each bit of pallid mutton;
half-a-franc for each roll, and as much for every cup of tea; for
“service”—two francs each;—for lodgings, five francs for each hard
bed, and at the like rate for the stale eggs, burnt toast, and thick
chocolate that formed our breakfast. Then, heedless of Felina’s
representations that “strangers were always cheated in the town,” we
sent out an Italian-speaking committee of two, who hired a carriage
and horses at half the sum for which she offered hers, and were off
for Sorrento. The drive between the two towns is justly noted for its
beauty and variety. The play of prismatic lights upon the sea was
exquisitely lovely: Capri was a great amethyst; Ischia and Procida
milk-opals in the softly-colored distance, while on, above and below
the ridge along which ran the carriage-road, lay Fairy Land—the
Delectable Mountains—Heaven come down to earth! Mulberry trees looped
together for long miles by swaying vines laden with young grapes;
orange and fig-orchards in full bearing; olive-groves, silvery-gray
after the rain; all manner of flowering trees, shrubs, and plants;
lordly castles upon the high hills; vine-draped cottages nestling
in vales and hollows; ravines, dark with green shadows, that let us
catch only stray glimpses of flashing torrents and cascades, spanned
by bridges built by Augustus or Marcus Aurelius; under our wheels
a road of firmest rock, without rut or pebble; between us and the
steeps on the verge of which we drove—breast-high parapets adding to
our enjoyment of the wonderful scene the quietness of perfect security
against the chance of mishap—these were some of the features of the
seven most beautiful miles in Southern Europe. The sea-breeze was
fresh, not rude, the sky speckless, but the heat temperate.

If we had sought a thorough contrast to the experiences of the previous
evening, we could not have attained our end more triumphantly than
by pitching our moving tent during our stay in Sorrento at the Hotel
Tramontana. It includes under its stretch of roofs the house of Tasso,
where he dwelt with his widowed sister, from June, 1577, until the
summer of the ensuing year,—retirement which purchased bodily health
and peace of mind, that had not been his in court and palace. The
situation of the hotel is picturesque, the balconies overhanging the
beach, and the seaward outlook is enchanting. All the appointments—not
excepting landlady and housekeeper—were admirable—and the terms less
exorbitant than Felina’s lowest charges. It was while guests here, and
in obedience to information rendered by the hospitable proprietor, that
we made our memorable and only raid upon an orange-orchard. Italian
oranges, let me say, _en passant_, are, in their perfection and at
the most favorable season, inferior in richness and sweetness to our
Havana and Florida fruit. The sourest I ever tasted were bought in
Rome, and warranted “_dolce_.” Single oranges, and oranges in twos and
threes, we had eaten from the trees in the garden of the Tramontana
Hotel. Oranges by the quantity—as we had vowed to behold and pluck
them—were to be had somewhere for the picking. In our character as
independent Sorosis larks, we pined for these and liberty—to gather at
our will. I have forgotten the name lettered upon the gate-posts at
which our _cocchière_ set us down. “Villa” Something or Somebody. We
saw no buildings whatsoever, going no further into the estate than the
orchard of orange and lemon-trees in luxuriant fruitage, and smaller,
sturdier trees, that had borne, earlier in the season, the aromatic
dwarf-orange, or _mandarino_.

“_Tutti finiti!_” said the gardener when we asked for these.

We consoled ourselves by filling our pockets with fruit when we had
eaten all we could. “Could” signifies more than the uninitiated can
believe to a group of American girls knee-deep in soft, lush grasses,
orange-flower scent distilling into the warm air from a thousand tiny
retorts, globes of red-gold hanging thick between them and the sky,
and such exuberance of fun as only glad-hearted American girls can
know, ruling the hour. We had made, in the hearing of our _cocchière_,
a bargain with the proprietor of the Hesperides. We were to eat all
we wanted, and carry away all we could without baskets, and pay him a
franc and a half at the gate on our return. I dare not say how many we
plucked, sucked dry and threw away empty, or how many more we carried
off in the pockets of over-skirts, lower skirts and jackets. We were
in the orchard for an hour, wading through the cool grass, making
critical selections from the loaded boughs and leisurely regalement
upon our spoils, and talking even more nonsense than we had done
during the nocturnal revel over cold, white mutton and weak tea at the
Hôtel Royale. The gardener followed us wherever we moved, eying us as
sourly as if he had lived from childhood upon unripe lemons. At the
gate he broke our contract by demanding two francs and a half for the
damage done his orchard. With (Italian) tears in his eyes he protested
that he had never imagined the possibility of ladies eating so many
oranges, or pockets so enormous; that we had consumed the profits of
his entire crop in one rapacious hour—and so much more to the like
effect that we passed from compassion and repentance to skepticism and
indignation, and called up the _cocchière_ as witness and umpire. He
scratched his head very hard, and listened very gravely to both sides,
before rendering a verdict. Then he hinted gently that, being novices
in the business of orchard-raids, we had possibly overacted our parts;
that our appetites orange-ward _had_ passed the bounds of the Sorrento
imagination, and that American pockets were a trifle larger than those
of his country-people. Naturally, since Americans had so much more to
put into them. But honor was honor, and a bargain a bargain. What if we
were to pay the unconscionable, injured husbandman—whose oranges were
the whole living of himself and family—two francs to compensate for his
losses and out of sheer charity.

We were willing, the husbandman mournfully resigned, and _cocchière_
received _buono mano_ for his amicable adjustment of the difficulty.

We had a real adventure upon the return trip to Naples. Our party
filled a railway carriage with the exception of two seats, one of
which was taken by an elderly German, the other by an Italian officer,
whose bright eyes and bronzed complexion were brighter and darker for
his snowy hair. Ernesto had engaged to meet us at the station at nine
o’clock P.M. We had no apprehension on the score of the proprieties
with so steady and tried a coachman. But we were loaded down with
parcels of Sorrento woodwork, and the streets swarmed with daring
thieves. At a former visit to Naples, as we were driving through the
_Chiaja_, the fashionable thoroughfare of the city, a man had sprung
upon the carriage-step, snatched a gold chain and locket from the neck
of a young lady sitting opposite to me, and made off with his booty
before we could call out to Caput who sat beside the coachman. The
streets were one blaze of lamps, the hour early dusk; a hundred people
must have witnessed the robbery, but nobody interfered.

“We shall have trouble with all these, I am afraid!” remarked I,
looking at the bulky bundles.

“You vill, inteet!” struck in the German, respectfully. “I dit haf to
bay effer so mooch duty on some photograph I did dake from Bompeii to
Naple dis last veek.”

“Duty! in going from one Italian city to another!”

“Duty! and a fery heafy impost it is! Brigand dey are—de Gofferment and
all!”

We had spent so much of our substance—rating available funds as such—in
the ruinously-fascinating shops of Sorrento that the prospect of
duties that might double the sum was no bagatelle. The story sounded
incredible. We appealed to the officer, making frank disclosure of
our purchases and ignorance of custom-house regulations. He was a
handsome man, with a fatherliness of manner in hearkening to our story
that won our confidence. It was true, he stated, that imposts were
levied by one Italian city and province upon the products of another.
Equally true that it was a relic of less enlightened days when union
of the different states under one government was a dream, even of
wise patriots. He advised us to conceal as many of our parcels under
our cloaks as we could, to avoid notice and a scene at the gate of
the station. Should we be stopped, he would represent the case in its
proper aspect, and do what he could to help us.

“Although”—with a smile—“custom-house officials do not relish
interference from any quarter.”

He spoke French fluently, but the conversation that succeeded was in
his own tongue. He was a gentleman, intelligent and social, with the
gentle, winning courtesy of speech and demeanor that characterizes
the well-bred Italian, infinitely more pleasing than the polished
hollowness of the Frenchman of equal rank. As we were running into the
station he asked permission to carry a large portfolio one of us had
bought. His short, military cloak, clasped at the throat, and falling
over one arm, hid it entirely.

“And yours?” he turned to Miss M——, whose possessions were most
conspicuous of all.

“Tell him,” she said to Prima, in her pleasant, even tones, “that I
will hide nothing. I have been all over the Continent with all sorts
of things known as contraband in my satchel and trunks, and have never
paid a cent of duty. Nobody troubles me. They see that I am an American
who speaks no language but her own, therefore is perfectly honest. They
would let me pass if I were made of Sorrento wood, carved and inlaid in
the most expensive style. You will see! I bear a charmed life.”

I went through the gate first. There was room but for one at a time.

“_Le panier_,” an officer touched my little basket of oranges.

I opened it.

“You can pass.”

Miss M—— was next. Serene as a May morning in her native Virginia,
bending her head slightly and courteously to the myrmidons of the
law, as she walked between them, loaded up to the chin with flat,
round and irregular packages concerning whose contents there was not a
possibility of mistake—she was the impersonation of a conscience void
of offence to this or any other government. The officials were alive in
a second.

“Sorrento!” ejaculated one, and in French, requested her to step back
into the custom-house office.

“I don’t speak French,” said the delinquent, smiling calmly, and passed
right on.

Six of them buzzed after, and around her, like so many bees, letting
the rest of the party walk unchallenged through the gate.

“I don’t speak Italian!” she observed, with a pitying smile, at their
grimacing and posturing. “Not a word! I am sorry I cannot understand
you. I am an American!”

Still walking forward, her parcels clasped in her arms.

We laughed. We could not help it. But it was unwise, for the men
grew angry as well as vociferous, dancing around their prisoner in a
transport of enraged perplexity that put a new face upon the affair.
Prima went to the rescue of her undismayed friend. She assured the
officers that the lady was really ignorant of their language, and
willing to do what was just and right. Calming down, they yet declared
that she, and, indeed, all of us, must go into the office, give an
account of ourselves, and pay duty upon such contraband articles as
we had with us. It might be a form, but it was the law. Where was
our gray-haired officer all this while? We had not seen him since he
assisted us to alight from the carriage, the precious portfolio held
cleverly under his left arm. Now, casting anxious eyes upon the crowd
gathering about our devoted band, we looked vainly for the silvery head
and military cap, for the gleam of the gold lace upon his one uncovered
shoulder. It was plain that he had deserted us at the first note of
alarm.

“And my beautiful portfolio!” gasped the late owner thereof.

We were at the gate, Miss M—— the only composed one of the humbled
“larks,” the curious throng pressing nearer and closer, when down into
their ranks charged a flying figure, careless that the streaming cloak
revealed the Sorrento folio—waving a paper in his hand. The officers
raised their caps; fell away from us and ordered off the gaping
bystanders.

“I am most sorry,” said our deliverer, breathless with haste. “But when
I saw the men stop you, I went into the Custom-House to obtain a pass
in due form from the chief.”

Prima has it to this day. It certified that the contents of our parcels
were “_articles de luxe_” for our personal use, and ordered that we
should be suffered to proceed upon our way unmolested.

“It was the shortest way, and the safest,” pursued our self-constituted
escort, walking with us to the carriage. “But allow me to express my
sorrow that you were subjected to even a momentary annoyance.”

He handed us into our carriage; regretted that his return that night
to Castellamare would prevent him from being of further service to us
during our stay in Naples, smiled and disclaimed when we thanked him
warmly for his kindness, and uncovered his dear old head as we drove
away.

Miss M—— sank back with a long sobbing breath, the first indication of
agitation she had displayed since the arrest at the gate:

“I shall love the sight of the Italian uniform as long as I live!” she
averred, with heartfelt emphasis.

“So said”—and so _do_—“all of us!”



CHAPTER XXII.

_In Florence and Pisa._


FLORENCE in May is a very different place from Florence in November.
Still it rained every day, or night, of the month we passed there;
showers that made the earth greener, the air clearer. We were homesick
for Rome, too, although our lodgings with Madame Giotti, then in Via
dei Serragli—now in Piazza Soderini, were the next best thing to the
sunny _appartimento_ No. 8, Via San Sebastiano, that had been home to
us for almost six months.

Madame Bettina Giotti, trim and kindly, who speaks charmingly-quaint
English and “likes Americans,” was to us the embodiment of genuine
hospitality, irrespective of the relations of landlady and boarder.
We had a most comfortable suite of rooms, a private table, where she
served us in person, and which was spread with the best food, as
to quality, variety and cookery, we had upon the other side of the
water—Paris not excepted.

We gave ourselves, thus situated, resolutely and systematically to
sight-seeing.

The Invaluable and Boy had a pass that admitted them daily, and at all
hours, to the Boboli Gardens, and we left them to their own devices
while we spent whole days in the Uffizi and Pitti Galleries, roaming
among the tombs of the illustrious dead in S. Croce and S. Lorenzo,
studying and enjoying art everywhere in this, her home, and where men
most delight to do her honor. History and religion have here their
notable shrines, also. Both combine to make the extensive square before
the Palazzo Vecchio a spot to which pilgrim-footsteps turn from all
quarters of Christendom.

It is the ancient Forum of the Florentine Republic. The surges of
commercial and political life yet beat upon and across it. The Palace
is old, and replete with interest to the historical student. The Great
Hall in its centre was built under the direction of Jerome Savonarola
in 1495. Three years later, they put him to death at the stake in
the Piazza della Signoria—the square just mentioned—and had the wind
set that way, the smoke of his burning must have filled the spacious
chamber planned by him while virtual Dictator of Florence. There
lies upon the table beside me, a photograph of a rude picture of his
martyrdom. The Palace is the same we look upon now, at the side of an
area, vaster then than at present, the same lofty, square tower capping
the gloomy building. The judges sit upon benches against the outer
wall. A temporary gangway extends from their platform to the gibbet
in the open space. On this walk the three condemned monks, in white
shrouds, each between two confessors in black, toward the fire blazing
under the gallows. They burned Savonarola’s body after it had suffered
the extremest indignity of the law, such was their lust of rage against
the man who had turned their world upside down—the Reformer born out of
time by two hundred years. Until very lately it was the custom among
the common people to strew with violets, on each anniversary of the
event, the pavement on which he perished.

    “To prove that all the winters that have snowed
     Cannot snow out the scent from stones and air
     Of a sincere man’s virtues.”

Savonarola had had _his autos-da-fé_ in places as public as the Piazza
della Signoria—pyres, on which women cast rouge-pots, and false hair,
and all manner of meretricious personal adornments; to whose flames bad
books and licentious paintings and statues were resigned by converted
authors and owners. The thunders of his invectives against spiritual
wickedness in high places, reached and jarred the proudest throne
in Christian Europe. To the proffered bribe of a cardinal’s hat, he
returned word—“I will have no red hat, but one reddened with mine own
blood—the crown given to the saints.”

Pope and rabble granted his wish.

From the scene of his death we drove straight to the Convent of San
Marco, his home. Upon the walls and roof of the monastery, the friars
fought like trapped wolves on the night of the requisition for their
brother. It was he, not they, who surrendered the body of Savonarola to
save the sacred place from sack and fire. It was, then, outside of the
town that is now packed in dense, high blocks and far-reaching streets
all around church and cloisters. These last surround a quadrangle
of turf and flowers. The street-gate shut behind us with a resonant
clang, and conventual loneliness and quietness were about us. Above the
sacristy-door is a fresco of Peter the Martyr, his hand laid upon his
mouth, signifying that silence was the rule of the Dominican order.
The spirit of the brotherhood lingers here yet, impressing itself upon
all who pass within the monastic bounds. We spoke and stepped softly,
without bidding on the subject, in going from one to another of the
frescoes on the inner walls of the porticoes or open cloisters. They
are nearly all from the hand—and heart—of John of Fiesole, known best
as Fra Angelico, the monk of sweet and holy memory, who prayed while
he painted; whose demons were all amiable failures; whose angel-faces
came to him in celestial trances. The unoccupied cells of the monks on
the second floor—square closets, each containing a single window, are
adorned with pictures of the Passion from his brush. Faded, now—never
elaborate in color or finish, each tells its story, and with power. How
much more eloquent must that story have been when the solitary inmate
of the chamber knelt upon the bare floor, the awful silence that could
be heard shutting down upon him—the one token of human sympathy left
him, the agonizing image above his oratory!

In Savonarola’s room are his chair, haircloth shirt, MSS., crucifix,
and, among other relics, a piece of wood from his gibbet. His portrait
hangs over his writing-table. It is a harsh, strong, dark visage in
striking profile, the monk’s cowl drawn tightly around it. We obtained
photographs of it in the convent, and one of Fra Angelico, a mild,
beautiful face, with a happy secret in the large, luminous eyes. Mrs.
Browning interprets it:

                        “Angelico,
    The artist-saint, kept smiling in his cell.
    The smile with which he welcomed the sweet, slow
    Inbreak of angels—(whitening through the dim,
    That he might paint them).”

Yet he was, in religious phrase, the “dear brother” of Savonarola, and,
for long in daily companionship with him.

Fra Benedetto, the brother, according to the flesh, of John of Fiesole,
was, likewise, an artist. In the library of the convent, together
with many other illuminated missals, are the Gospels, exquisitely
embellished by him, with miniatures of apostles and saints. A smaller
hall, near the library, is lined with an imposing array of flags of all
the towns and corporations of Italy, collected here after the Dante
Festival, May 14th, 1865.

Dante’s monument, inaugurated at that date, on the six hundredth
anniversary of his birth, stands in the Piazza S. Croce, facing the
church. A lordly pile in his honor, on the summit of which he sits in
sombre sovereignty, takes up much space in the right aisle of this
famous fane—“the Pantheon of Modern Italy.” His remains are at Ravenna.
The epitaph on his tomb-stone, dictated by himself, styles Florence the
“least-loving of all mothers.” She exiled him, setting a price upon his
head; made him for nineteen years, he says, “a vessel without sail or
rudder, driven to divers ports, estuaries and shores by that hot blast,
the breath of grievous poverty.” When she relaxed her persecutions so
far as to recall him upon condition of confession and fine, he refused
to enter her gates. Upon bended knee, Florence prayed Ravenna to
surrender his remains to his “Mother-city” less than a century after
he died, a petition oft and piteously renewed. But the plucky little
town holds him yet to her heart, and Florence accounts as holy, for his
sake, such things as the dirty bench fastened in the wall of a house
opposite the Campanile and Cathedral, whereon he used to sit day after
day to watch the building of the latter.

The centuries through which this work was dragged were a woful drawback
to its external comeliness. Since we saw it, as we learn from the
indignant outcries of art-critics, it has been “cleaned.” “A perfectly
uninjured building,” wails one, “with every slenderest detail fine and
clear as the sunshine that streams on it in mid-summer—is drenched in
corrosive liquids until all the outer shell of the delicate outlines
is hacked and chipped away, the laborers hammering on at all these
exquisite and matchless sculptures as unconcernedly as they would
hammer at the blocks of _macigno_ with which they would repave the
streets!” I confess—albeit, as I have intimated before,—not an
art-critic, that in perusing the above, the “corrosive liquids” ate
into my finest sensibilities, and the “hammering” was upon my very
heart. But my recollection of the condition of the building in 1877
is not of harmony, or such fineness and clearness as our plaintiff
describes. These existed unquestionably in form and proportion. But
the walls of black and white marble were “streaky,” soiled and clean
portions, fitted together without intervening shading, denoting where
the builders of one age left off and those of the next began anew. An
attempt to cleanse it, set on foot some years previous, had marred the
Duomo yet more. The effect was that of a “half-and-half” penitentiary
garment. Those who know edifices like this and the Milan Cathedral,
and that one of the “Seven Lamps of Architecture,” Giotti’s Campanile,
from photographs, have one advantage over _bona fide_ travelers. The
stains and cracks of time are softened into mellow uniformity in the
sun-picture that yet preserves faithfully each grace of design and
workmanship. He who dreams over the stereoscopic view which brings
out carvings and angles, and the expression of the whole building
with magic accuracy, is spared the pain of seeing that the miracle of
architectural genius in marble or bronze is undeniably and vulgarly
_dirty_. This is especially true of the Baptistery. The bronze doors (I
am not going to repeat Michael Angelo’s remark touching them upon the
thousandth part of a chance that one man or woman in the United States
may not have heard it) are so encrusted with the dust of as many ages
as they have hung in their present place that one cannot distinguish
between Noah drunk and Noah sober; between Cain slaying his brother and
Adam tilling the ground. The interior would be vastly improved, not by
hammering workmen, and corrosive liquids, but by a genuine New England
house-cleaning. A hogshead of disinfectants would not dispel the
mouldy, sickly odor that clings to the walls and unclean floor. All the
children born in Florence of Roman Catholic parents are brought hither
for baptism. We never peeped in at the mighty door without seeing
one or more at the font. After one closer view of the parties to the
ceremony, we refrained from approaching that part of the building while
it was thus occupied.

We had been for a long drive in the Cascine—the Central Park of the
Florentines—extended into the country, and, our hands full of wild
flowers, the odors of field and hedge and garden lingering in our
senses, alighted at the Baptistery, attracted by the spectacle of a
group dimly visible from the sunlit street. It had seemed a pretty
fancy to us, this gathering all the lambs of Firenze into one visible
earthly fold, and one that peopled the dusky Rotunda with images of
innocence and beauty. We would make these definite and lasting by
witnessing the solemn rite. A priest in a dirty gown mumbled prayers
from a dog-eared book; a grimy-faced boy in a dirtier white petticoat
and a dirtiest short-gown, trimmed with cotton-lace, swung a censer too
indolently to disturb the foul air. A woman in clothes that were whole,
but not clean, held the _bambino_. I do not like to call it a baby. It
was wound from feet to arm-pits, as are all the Italian children of
the lower classes, in swaddling-linen, fold upon fold, until the lower
part of the body is as stiff as that of a corpse. These wrappings are
never loosened during the day. I cannot answer for the fashion of their
night-gear. The unhappy little mummy in question was, in complexion, a
livid purple, and gasped, all the while, as in the article of death.
The cradle-bands had apparently come down to it through a succession
of brother and sister _bambini_, with scanty interference on the part
of washerwomen, and bade fair to become its winding-sheet if not soon
removed. The priest made the sign of the cross in holy water on the
forehead, wrinkled like that of an old man, never pausing in his Latin
rattle and swing; the acolyte gave a last, lazy toss to the censer,
drawling, “A-a-men!” The woman, as nonchalant as they, covered in the
child from the May air with a wadded quilt, wrapping it over the face
as Hazael laid the wet cloth upon his master’s, possibly to the same
end. The touching rite was disposed of, and the priest shuffled out of
one door, the acolyte went whistling out of another.

The accomplished author of “Roba di Roma,” says of
swaddling-bands—“There are advantages as well as disadvantages in this
method of dressing infants. The child is so well-supported that it can
be safely carried anyhow, without breaking its back, or distorting its
limbs. It may be laid down anywhere, and even be borne on the head in
its little basket without danger of its wriggling out.”

He doubts, moreover, whether the custom be productive of deformity.
Perhaps not. But, our attention having been directed by the ceremony
just described to what was, to our notion, a barbarous invention for
the promotion of infanticide, we noted, henceforward, the proportion of
persons diseased and deformed in the lower limbs among the Florentine
street population. The result amazed and shocked us. On the afternoon
of which I speak, we counted ten cripples upon one block, and the
average number of these unfortunates upon others was between seven
and eight. Join to the tight bands about their trunks and legs the
close linen, or cotton or woollen caps, worn upon their heads, and the
lack of daily baths and fresh clothing, and it is easy to explain why
cutaneous diseases should be likewise prevalent.

The mural tablets of Florence are a study,—sometimes, a thrilling one.
As when, for example, in driving or walking through the old street,
neither wide, light, nor picturesque, of S. Martino, we came upon a
tall, stone house with queer latticed windows very high up in the thick
walls,—and deciphered above the doorway these words:—

    “In questa casa degli Alighieri nacque il divina poeta.”

    (“In this house of the Alighieri was born the divine poet.”)

There is the tenderness of remorse in the “least-loving mother’s”
every mention of her slighted son—now “chapeled in the bye-way out of
sight”—to wit,—sleepy little Ravenna.

Bianca Capello—fair, fond and false—lived in what is now a very shabby
palace in Via Maggio, bearing the date, “1566.” Amerigo Vespucci was
esteemed worthy of a tablet upon a building in the Borgo Ognissanti.
Galileo’s house is near the Boboli Gardens, and, removed by a block or
two, is the Museum of Natural Sciences, enshrining, as its gem, the
Tribuna of Galileo, enriched by his portrait, his statue, paintings
illustrative of his life, and instruments used by him in making
mathematical and astronomical calculations. His tomb is in the church
of S. Croce, almost covered with ascriptions to his learning, valuable
scientific discoveries, etc., etc. Of tomb and epitaph the Infallible
Mother is the affectionate warden, guarding them, it is to be presumed,
as jealously as she once did the canon he was convicted of insulting.
“The world moves,” and so must The Church, or be thrown off behind.

“Casa Guidi”! “Twixt church and palace of a Florence street!” From
which the clear-eyed poetess bent to gaze upon the hosts who,—

                  “With accumulated heats,
    And faces turned one way as if one fire
      Both drew and flushed them, left their ancient beats
    And went up toward the Palace-Pitti wall,”

on a day which “had noble use among GOD’S days!” How well we had known
them, and the face that will look from them no more—while as yet the
sea divided us from the land of her love and adoption!

Surely, never had poet more prosaic dwelling-place. Casa Guidi is a
plain, four-story house, covered with yellowish stucco, lighted by
formal rows of rectangular windows, without a morsel of moulding or the
suspicion of an arch to relieve the tameness of the front elevation. It
opens directly upon the sidewalk of as commonplace a street as Florence
can show to the disappointed tourist. Yet we strolled often by it,
lingeringly and lovingly; studied with thoughts, many and fond, the
simple tablet between the first and second-story casements:

    “_Qui scrisse e mori Elisabetta Barrett Browning che in
    cuore di donna conciliava scienza di dotto e spirito di
    poeta, e del suo verso fece un aureo anello fra Italia
    e Inghilterra. Pone alla sua memoria Firenze grata,
    1861._”

    (“Here wrote and died Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who
    combined with a woman’s heart, the science of the
    savant and the mind of the poet, and by her verse
    formed a golden link between Italy and England. Erected
    to her memory by grateful Florence. 1861.”)

This is a free English translation, but it does not—it cannot, being
English—say to ear and soul what the musical flow of the original
conveys.

She is buried in that part of grateful Florence known as the English
Cemetery. It is smaller than that in Rome, and not comparable to it
in loveliness or interest. We coveted for the woman and the poet a
corner of the old Aurelian wall beside Shelley instead of the small
plot of the main alley of this village of the dead;—Keats’ coverlet of
violets rather than the marble sarcophagus, with a pillared base, set
hard and flat upon her grave. One panel bears her medallion profile in
basso-rilievo, and the initials “E. B. B., 1861.” There was no need
to write more. We would have been better satisfied with less—marble!
Buttercups and daisies pressed over the closed, cold mouth of the tomb,
and a tea-rose tree at the head had strewed it with blushing petals.

Florence is the acknowledged Queen of Modern Art and gives lessons in
the same to all civilization. Yet this English Burial-ground can show
almost as many specimens of poor taste and mediocre manipulation as
there are monuments within its gates;—a puzzle and a pain to those who
have luxuriated in galleries and loggie, the very atmosphere of which
ought to be, not only inspiration, but education.

Galileo’s Observatory, where he watched the stars pale before the
dawn for many happy nights,—and the Villa, in which he lived for
the last eleven years of his mortal life,—blind, illustrious, and,
if we may believe him, contented;—whither Milton came to visit and
console him and was moved to congratulation at the sight of his deep
tranquillity,—stand upon a hill from whose brow Florence is, indeed,
_la Bella_. Galileo’s lamp hangs in the Cathedral of Pisa.

Our excursion to this city was in mid-May. It is distant from Florence
but four hours by rail. The intervening country is one of the loveliest
tracts in Northern Italy. The wheat-fields were ripening into palest
green, and every breath of wind that ruffled this revealed the
scarlet sheen of the poppy underrobe. The railway banks were beds of
mountain-pinks, separated by acres of buttercups and blue flax, clumps
of wild roses and geraniums. Up to this we had felt no oppressive
heats, fast though the season was advancing, and to-day, while the
train was in motion, we rather enjoyed the blaze of sunshine under
which the landscape glowed, while we gazed, into more vivid coloring.
But the radiations from the white streets of Pisa were blinding. The
breeze lost itself among the flat outskirts of the town, and was never
suspected inland.

We took carriages at the hotel and drove, untempted to loiterings
in the shadeless thoroughfares, directly to the Cathedral. It is
fortunate for travelers who come to Pisa in spring or summer, that the
four principal objects of interest, all that one cares to see in the
whilom “queen of the western waves,” are grouped within a radius of
fifty yards from the Duomo. Seeking its shadow from the pitiless sun,
we looked up at the Leaning Tower “over the way.” It did not lean as
emphatically as we had hoped for, nor was it as high as it should have
been. But from the first glimpse of it, its lightness and grace were an
agreeable surprise. And it was _clean_! Seven hundred years have not
defiled it to the complexion of the Florentine Duomo, or even to the
cloudiness of “that model and mirror of perfect architecture,” Giotto’s
Tower. Its eight-storied colonnades of creamy tints passing into white,
were cast up upon the deep blue background like the frost arcades
raised at night by winter fairies. It was loftier, presently, and as it
heightened, inclined more gracefully toward the earth.

“Like an ice-cream obelisk melting at the base,” suggested a heated
spectator pensively.

We walked around the beautiful, majestic wonder; gazed up at its bent
brow from the overhanging side; measured the dip of the foundation by
the deepening of the area in which it is set, and laughed at ourselves
for the natural recoil from walls that seemed to be toppling over upon
us. While the young people, in the convoy of a guide, climbed the three
hundred—save six—stairs winding up to the summit of the Campanile,
Caput and I gladly took refuge in the cool dimness of the Cathedral.
Seated upon a bench exactly over the spot where Galileo used to set
his chair in order to gaze at the mighty chandelier pendent from the
ceiling, we, too, watched it.

It is a grand sight—that great bronze lamp, its scores of disused
candle-sockets hanging empty from the three broad bands. Five naked
boys brace themselves upon their chubby feet against the lower band,
and do Caryatide-duty for the upper. Scrolls, branches, and knops are
exquisitely wrought, and the length of the chandelier must be at least
twelve feet. The sacristan told us, in a subdued voice, how Galileo had
the “habitude” of resorting to the church, day after day, and sitting
“just here” to think and to pray. How his eyes, fixed mechanically upon
the lamp, noted, one day, that the inclination of the long, slender
rod to which it is attached was not quite the same at different hours;
of his excitement as he divined the cause of the variation; that,
after this, he haunted the Duomo continually until he thought out
the truth—“or”—crossing himself, apologetically—“the Blessed Virgin
revealed it to her faithful worshipper.”

Having Protestant and inconvenient memories, we had our thoughts
respecting the reception the discovery, to which the Virgin helped her
_protégé_, had from her other faithful sons. But we liked the story all
the same. We were still more pleased when he deserted us to escort two
German priests, the only other persons present beside ourselves, to the
contemplation of a large picture of the birth of Our Lady. There are
many paintings in the Cathedral and some good ones. Ninety-nine and a
half per cent. are in honor of the Virgin Mary. The Madonna and Child
over the _bénitier_ near the entrance are attributed to Michael Angelo.

We saw all these things while waiting for our juniors; then, went back
to our bench and our contemplation of the lamp, until they rejoined us.

The Campo Santo is a quadrangle enclosed by chapels, with corridors
open toward the burial-ground, and paved with flat tomb-stones. When
the Crusaders of the thirteenth century lost the Holy Land, a pious
archbishop of Pisa had between fifty and sixty ship-loads of earth
brought hither from Mount Calvary, and made into a last bed for those
who loved Jerusalem and mourned her loss. The sacred soil had the
property of converting bodies laid within it into dust so quickly and
thoroughly that others could follow them within a short time without
inconvenience to dead or living. The Campo Santo became tremendously
fashionable, and graves were bought at terrifically high prices when
one considers the dubious character of the privilege connected with
the situation. No interments have been made here for so long that the
quadrangle is a smooth lawn edged with flower-borders.

The frescoes of chapels or corridors are the leading curiosity of the
place. Guide-books and local inventories, without a gleam of humor,
write these down as “remarkable,” “admirable,” “celebrated.” Only
by beholding them can one bring himself to believe in the horrible
grotesqueness of these Biblical and allegorical scenes. Hideous and
blasphemous as they were to me, I bought several photographs that my
home-friends might credit my story of mediæval religious art. The lower
part of one I draw, at random, from my collection, represents the
Creation of Adam. The Creator, a figure with a nimbus about his head,
a train of attendants similarly crowned, behind him,—lifts a nude,
inert man from the earth. A toothed parapet separates this scene in the
Drama of Life from one above, where the same crowned Figure, in the
presence of a larger retinue, draws Eve from the side of sleeping Adam.
She stares about her in true feminine curiosity, clasping her hands in
a gesture of amazement, or delight, designed, no doubt, to contrast
strongly, as it does, with the stupid, half-awake air with which Adam
comes into the world. The sleeping bridegroom is disturbed by the
extraction of his rib, for, without awaking, he puts his hand under
his arm, touching Eve’s toe as it leaves his side. The gravest Puritan
cannot but see that he is _tickled_ by the operation. The lower section
of this panel has Adam, clothed in skins, digging with a rude hoe, in
the parallelograms and circles of an Italian garden. The sequence of
the narrative is interrupted here to put the curse of labor in more
significant juxtaposition with the gift of a wife. At the right-hand
corner of the photograph appears what properly belongs to the third
place in the series;—the guilty pair crouching together, after the
transgression, amid the trees of the garden, and betrayed in their
covert by a darting ray of light from heaven. Below this are Adam and
Eve, driven by two angels in knight’s armor through the Norman-Gothic
door of a machicolated tower. Cain and Abel, quarreling beside an altar
modeled after the pulpit of the Pisan Baptistery, are crowded into the
background.

The lack of room for the amplification of subjects and the artist’s
conceptions of these, led to a terrific “mix” upon the walls, which
are literally loaded with frescoes. The entire Book of Genesis is
illustrated upon the surface of the North wall, my photograph being a
fair specimen of the style of the decorations. The partisans of Pietro
di Paccio and of Buffalmacco claim for their respective masters the
honor of the upper line of scenes. A Florentine, Benozzo Gozzoli,
began with Noah’s drunkenness,—a favorite theme in wine-growing
countries—and ran the Jewish history down to the interview of Solomon
and the Queen of Sheba. To him was awarded the distinction of a grave
beneath the history of Joseph.

The two German priests were going into convulsions of merriment before
a monstrous spectacle of the Last Judgment and Hell, in which devils in
green, red and yellow, are fighting over souls of equivocal reputation,
with angels in blue-and-white liveries. The spirits in dispute have
so dire a time between them that the terrors of the fate which befall
them, when relinquished by the angels, must be materially mitigated
by recollections of the escaped horrors of dismemberment. The Inferno
of Dante’s countryman the artist, whose name is unknown, is a huge
chaldron, crammed with heretics, apostates and Jews. The Chief Cook,
his very horns a-tingle with delight, is ramming down some and stirring
up others with a big pudding-stick. The priests laughed themselves
double over our dumb disgust. Probably they credited the fidelity of
the representation less than even we.

The Baptistery is a four-storied rotunda. The lower story is set around
with half-columns; the second, with smaller whole pillars. Above this
rise two tiers of pointed arches, the first row enclosing niches in
which are half-length figures of saints. The upper arches are windows.
A fine dome covers all. An octagonal font occupies the centre of the
one vaulted chamber whose ceiling is the roof. It is raised by two
steps from the floor, and is of white marble carved into patterns as
delicate and intricate as the richest lace-work. The pulpit is scarcely
less lovely, being adorned with bas-reliefs descriptive of the Life of
our Lord from the Annunciation to the Last Judgment. It is a hexagon
and there are five of these panels, the sixth side opening upon the
steps. The reticulated marble is singularly pure in quality and wrought
into elaborateness of finish that has never been excelled.

We were examining it and objurgating the ubiquitous Goth who has
mutilated several of the finest figures, when the custodian, standing
a little apart from us, sounded three notes in a sonorous baritone.
Angel-voices caught them up and repeated them in every variety of
harmonious intonation; then, a loftier choir echoed the strains;
another and another, and still another until the rejoicings were lost
in the heaven of heavens.

We sank upon the steps of the font, and listened, as, in obedience to
our wordless gesture, the man, once and again, gave the signal for
the unearthly chorus. The voices were human, if human tones are ever
perfect in sweetness, roundness and harmony, the transition of the
theme from each band of singers to a higher, a complete illusion of
the enchained senses. The responses, clear, tender, thrilling, invoked
such images as we had seen in the Uffizi and Pitti galleries—concentric
circles of cherubim and seraphim and rapturous redeemed ones, with
uplifted faces and glad, eager eyes, reflecting the effulgence of the
Great White Throne and Him that sat thereon.

Carlo Dolci knew how to paint such, and Raphael, and Fra Angelico. We
had heard their quiring while looking upon the pictured canvas. We
_saw_ them as we hearkened to the hymning that ascended to the stars.



CHAPTER XXIII.

“_Beautiful Venice._”


FROM Florence we went to Venice—eight days thereafter, to Bologna.

We “did” Venice leisurely and with great delight.

“The one place on the Continent that bored me!” I once heard a young
lady declare at an American watering-place;—a sentiment heartily
seconded by several others. “You can do everything there in two days!”
continued the critic. “After that, it is the stupidest old hole in
creation. I thought I should have died!”

Our friend, Miss M—- had been in Venice in December, and described
the blackened fronts of palaces dripping and streaming with rain; low
clouds excluding the sea-view; lead-colored drains where poets had seen
canals, and a depressing silence through which the gondolier’s cry was
like—“Bring out your dead!”

We were prepared to behold the ghost of a city, whispering hollowly of
a sublime Past;—a monotonous succession of ditches washing the slimy
foundations of crumbling walls;—almost the stillness and desolation of
a desert. We left Florence on a hot day; the railway train was crowded;
the long, dusty ride the least picturesque we had had in Italy. It was
late in the afternoon when we alighted at the station-quay and saw
our first gondola. It was wedged in with fifty others against the
pier, so tightly that the manner of its extrication was a mystery. A
bend of the gondolier’s wrist did it all. He had held up his hand, and
Caput had nodded. In a minute more he had brought his craft close to
our feet, and balanced himself by means of a long pole with a paddle
at the end, while he raised his cap and offered his services. He had
a family gondola, black as a hearse, a murderous-looking battle-axe,
edge outward, fastened to the prow, and seats for six upon the cushions
under a striped awning. Our luggage was quickly disengaged from the
confused mass discharged from the baggage-car, and stowed away in the
bows; we settled ourselves among the cushions and shot out into the
canal out of sight and hearing of the noisy station.

We were in Venice! The Bride of the Sea! Venice of the Doges—of the
thousand isles—of the cloudy-winged thousand years! Heat, dust, fatigue
went out of our minds with the play of the cool air over our faces, the
ripple of the salt-water under the keel of our boat. For this was also
the Venice of our old-time poetic fancies—not the sad city photographed
upon imagination by our friends’ descriptions. The lofty palaces were
ancient, blurred and seamed, but not ruinous—the smooth sunniness of
the canals allured the eye on to the sea, the highway and bulwark of
the city. Groves of masts streaked it here and there, line and spar
delicately defined against the flushing west. At longer intervals,
government buildings or warehouses sat blackly upon the breast of the
water, the tide lapping their thresholds twice a day. Purplish banks,
lying close to the horizon in the hazy amber distances, were the _lidi_
and _murazzi_—(sand hills and embankments)—protecting the Lagune
from oceanic irruptions in tempestuous weather. All this was lost,
presently, by the narrowing of the watery highway and closer line of
buildings. The canals were dull tracks but for the tossing wake in the
middle of each as our gondolier cleft a path with his long-armed sweep.
His call before turning a corner was a guttural dissyllable, not easy
of imitation. Poets—and Mark Twain—say gondoliers used to sing. We
never heard them. Our Antonio, our first acquaintance, and our faithful
boatman and guide until he deposited us at the station, the morning of
our departure—could not sing a note. Nor could any of his professional
brethren, he said.

“It was perhaps the sea-fogs that spoiled their throats. Or the
exposure in all weathers, signore. The signora would observe that a
gondolier’s life was one of hardship, summer and winter. He had no
breath to spare for singing. _Misericordia_, not a great deal! Nor
heart for it when the _sposa_ and _bambini_ must have their mouths
filled with food. And _polenta_ dearer every season!”

We were Antonio’s friends before we landed at the Hôtel Luna, and had
engaged him for a moonlight excursion upon the Grand Lagune that very
night. We hired him for the day, next morning, and upon several other
successive forenoons.

For Venice did not bore us. The Piazza S. Marco was just around the
corner from our quiet but excellent hotel—a matter of a hundred steps,
perhaps, on dry land—and the Basilica of S. Marco—_the_ attraction of
Venice to us. Prancing over the great entrance are the four bronze
horses, stolen from the triumphal arch of Nero by Trajan to adorn
_his_; from Trajan by Constantine for the new city of his founding and
name; from Constantine by Doge Dandolo for the Venetian Cathedral; from
Venice by Napoleon I. for the arch in the Place Carrousel, finally,
restored by the Emperor Francis to St. Mark’s. They are sturdy
roadsters, with good “staying” qualities, if one may judge from their
build and history, in no wise jaded by their travels and changes of
climate, and look fresh, but not impatient for another start.

The pigeons feed in the Piazza at two o’clock every day. It is “the
thing” for strangers and native-born strollers to congregate here at
that hour to witness the spectacle. About ten minutes before the bell
strikes, the birds begin to assemble, crowding the roofs, eaves and
window-sills of the surrounding buildings, preening and billing and
cooing, with the freedom of privileged guests. At the stroke of the
bell they rise, as one bird, into the air for a downward swoop upon the
scattered grain. The pavement is covered in an instant with a shifting
mass of purple and gray plumage, and the noise of fluttering and
murmuring, of pecking bills and clicking feet fills the square. A bevy
of their remote ancestors brought, six hundred years ago, dispatches of
such importance from the besieged island of Candia to Admiral Dandolo’s
fleet, that he sent the carrier-pigeons to Venice with the tidings of
his success in taking the island, and the aid they had rendered him.
They were put upon the retired list and fed at the public expense—they,
their heirs and assigns forever.

The best photographs—and the cheapest—in Italy are to be bought upon
the Piazza San Marco. Florian’s celebrated _café_, is there, and
countless shops for the sale of Venetian glass and beads—_bijouterie_
of all sorts, and for the general robbery of travelers—the rule
being to ask twice the value of each article when the customer is a
foreigner, and to “come down” should the victim object to the proposed
fleecing.

The mosaic floor of San Marco billows like the _Mer de Glace_, having
settled in many places. The decorations of façade and interior are
oriental in character and color. St. Mark, after much _post mortem_
travel, rests under the high altar. The altar-piece is of enameled
silver and gold plate, fretted with jewels. A canopy of _verde antique_
overshadows the holy sepulchre. A second altar is behind the chief
shrine. The canopy of this rests upon four columns, curiously twisted.
The two forward ones are of alabaster, and semi-translucent.

“Brought hither from Solomon’s Temple after the destruction of
Jerusalem,” affirmed our cicerone.

“By whom?”

The inevitable shrug and grimace, embodying civil surprise at the
query, and personal irresponsibility for the tradition.

“Ah! the signora can answer that as well as I who have never thought of
it until now. Doubtless”—flashing up brilliantly—“San Marco, himself!
Who more likely?”

The _Battisterio_ is a gloomy chapel, and as little clean as it is
bright. It has more the appearance of a lumber-chamber than a place of
worship. But the relics are priceless—the rubbish unique. The bronze
font, big enough for a carp-pond, dates from the 16th century, and is
presided over by John the Baptist. His head was cut off upon the stone
one sees at the left of the altar. Above the latter is another bit
of precious quartz or granite, from Mt. Tabor. St. Mark’s has drawn
heavily upon the Holy Land, if one-half the valuables stored within
the Cathedral are genuine. Sturdy old Doge Dandolo, who pensioned the
pigeons after the capitulation of Candia; who, old and purblind, led
the Venetians in the recapture of rebellious Zara, and to victory
in the siege of Constantinople; who accomplished what Pietro Doria,
two hundred years later, boasted that he would do after humbling the
arrogant Republic,—bridled the bronze horses and led them whithersoever
he would—is entombed in the Baptistery.

With all of what some call its barbaric redundance of ornament and
color, and the neglected richness that seems incompatible with the
reputed veneration of the Venetians for their renowned Basilica, St.
Mark’s works powerfully upon those who are conversant with its history
and can appreciate the charm of its quaint magnificence. Talk of
“restoration” in this connection is a project to coat the dusky bloom
of a Cleopatra with “lily-white.”

One hundred-thirty-and-four years was this thousand-year-old temple
in building, and, pending its erection, all homeward-bound vessels
were compelled to bring some tribute to the rising structure. The
five hundred columns of the façade are of rare marbles thus imported,
principally from the Orient. The wall between these is gorgeous with
mosaics—not frescos. The domes are begirt with a frontlet of pinnacles.
Sultana of the Sea, to whom all kingdoms have paid tribute, she sits
upon the shore in calm imperiousness befitting the regal estate
confirmed by a decade of centuries. The hack of chisel, the corrosion
of acids here will be sacrilege. Yet they say it is ordained that she
shall endure the outrage. They may smite,—they cannot belittle her.

We disbelieved in the fragment of the true cross set in a silver column
exhibited in the “Treasury;” were disposed to smile at the splinter, or
chip, of St. John’s frontal bone “adorning” an agate goblet. We shook
our heads over St. Mark’s Episcopal throne as we had at St. Peter’s in
Rome, and would not look at the crystal urn said to contain some of the
Saviour’s blood. Nor were we credulous as to the authenticity of the
capitals brought from the Temple at Jerusalem crowning the pillars of
the Entrance-Hall.

But we always stayed our steps at the red porphyry slabs embedded
in the floor of the vestibule. Here, Frederic Barbarossa, Emperor of
Germany, and twice-crowned King of Italy,—once by Pope, again by the
anti-pope of his own setting-up; Conqueror of Poland and Lombardy;
the most accomplished, as he was the most heroic warrior in an era
when heroism was knightly duty,—knelt to Pope Alexander III., at
the pacific instance of Sebastiano Ziani, Doge of Venice. Ten years
of excommunication; the disastrous battle on Lake Como, desertion,
treachery and disease had tired out, not quelled the haughty spirit. A
twenty years’ war, resulting in irrevocable defeat, probably wrought
more potently upon reason and will than the Doge’s arguments. His face
was of a more burning red than the hair and beard that earned his
nickname, as his knee touched the ground.

Schiller makes Marie Stuart protest, after her betrayal into the like
act of subserviency to Elizabeth, that she “knelt not to _her_, but to
GOD!” The poet may have borrowed the equivocation from Barbarossa’s
kingly growl—“_Non tibi—sed Petro!_”

Alexander was pontiff, diplomatist and magnanimous.

“_Et mihi, et Petro!_” he said,—raising the humbled monarch and giving
him the kiss of peace.

Ah! the languorous noons, when we loitered among the shadows of the
great Entrance-Hall, the “court of the Gentiles,” “thinking it all
over,” the pigeons cooing and strutting on the hot stones outside,
while St. Theodore, on his tall shaft, the Winged Lion of S. Marco on
his, stood guard over the deserted Piazzetta, and the breeze came up
past them from the Adriatic, the Bride of the Doges!

“_In signum veri perpetuique dominii!_” Thus ran the ceremony of
espousal. The King of all Italy, Vittorio Emmanuele, paid a flying
visit to the royal palace on the Grand Canal while we were in the
city, and the wedded Adriatic took the event as quietly as she had
regarded the usurpation of Austrian and French conquerors. “Perpetual”
is a term of varied meanings in this world and life.

Three stately cedar masts arise from ornamental pedestals before the
church. They were set up in 1505, and the captured banners of Candia,
the Morea and Cyprus used to flaunt there upon state festa-days while
the doges ruled Venice and the sea. The flag of United Italy is raised
upon each on Sabbaths and holidays. On a certain May morning, more than
two-and-half centuries agone, other trees adorned the Piazza S. Marco.
They had sprung up during the night, and each bore fruit, at the seeing
of which men fled affrighted and women swooned. Many of the spectators
had been guiltily cognizant of a conspiracy, headed by Spanish agents,
to murder Doge, nobles and Council, when they should come to S. Marco
on Ascension-Day. The faces of the strangled men swinging, each from
his gallows, revealed the awful truth that the Council of Ten had also
known of the plot and marked the ringleaders.

We walked across the Rialto; stopped to cheapen Venetian glasses in the
tiny shops crowding the streets leading to and from the bridge; bought
here ripe, luscious oranges for a reasonable sum from one Jew, and paid
three prices to another for a woven grass basket to hold the fruit. It
is a Bowery neighborhood, at the best, from the cheap flashiness of
which Antonio would withdraw his aristocratic patronage were he now a
merchant of Venice. The Rialto is a steep, covered bridge, lighted by
green Venetian blinds, that help to make it a common-looking structure.
A bright-eyed Italian offered caged birds for sale on the pier where
our Antonio and the gondola waited for us. Upon a tray beside him were
heaped white cuttle-fish bones for the use of the canaries.

“I do not want a bird,” I said. “But I will buy some of those”—pointing
to the cuttle-fish—“as a souvenir of the Rialto.”

He plucked off his tattered cap in a low bow.

“But the signora should not pay for a souvenir of the Rialto! I will
give her as many as she wants—gladly.”

He pressed three of the largest upon me, and absolutely refused to
accept so much as a centime in return.

“_Buono mano!_” insisted Caput, holding out a coin.

The Italian put his hands behind his back. “It is nothing! Let it be a
souvenir of the Rialto to the signora from a Venetian.”

“Unaccountable!” sighed Caput, as we dropped upon our cushions under
the awning.

“Refreshing!” said I, gazing back at the bird-vender until a turn in
the canal hid him.

He stands in the foreground of my mind-picture of the Rialto,—hung
about from neck to waist-band with rude wooden cages of chirping
linnets, canaries and the less expensive goldfinch, the petted
“cardellino” of the lower classes. Their fondness for the lively
little creature and his comparative worthlessness in the esteem
of bird-fanciers gives meaning to Raphael’s lovely “Madonna del
Cardellino,” and interprets the tenderness in the eyes of the Divine
Child as He arches His hand over the nestling offered him by John.

S. Giovanni e Paolo ranks second to S. Marco in size, impressiveness
of architecture and historical interest. It is the burial-place of the
Doges. The last of their number, Manini, sleeps in the more modern
church of the Gesuiti (the Jesuits). “_Æternitati suo Manini cineres_”
is his only epitaph. His predecessors repose pompously in the old
church, begun in the 13th century and completed in the 15th. It feels
and smells like an ocean cave. So strong is the briny dampness of
flavor that one would hardly wonder to find sea-weed washed up in the
chapel-corners. Pietro Mocenigo,—as great in war as Tomaso Mocenigo
was in statecraft and finance, has a liberal share of the right aisle.
Fifteen statues surround the mausoleum constructed “from the spoils
of his enemies.” In the grave he could not relax his hold upon their
throats.

“The only horses in Venice!” said a friend to me, once, in showing a
photograph of St. Mark’s “team.”

He had been twice to Venice, but he must have skipped SS. Giovanni
e Paolo. Whether or not the Doges were, in life, adepts in noble
horsemanship, they are addicted to equestrian statues after death. Very
high amid the prevailing dampness, stand and paw their marble coursers
on the lids of sarcophagi, as stamping to arouse their slumbering
masters, and upon wall-shelves and niches. The Chapel of the Rosary,
founded in 1571, as a thank-offering of the Republic for the victory
of Lepanto, is now a smoke-blackened shell,—the valuable contents,
including the original of Titian’s “Death of St. Petrus, Martyr,”
having been destroyed by fire in 1868.

The pictured wealth of Venice had not been conceived of by us prior to
this visit. Fresh from Florentine galleries as we were, our day in the
Accademia delle Belle Arti was a banquet enjoyed the more because it
was unexpected. Our surprise was the result of a want of reflection,
since we knew that Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto and Paul Veronese were
Venetians. Still, as men and prophets go, that was hardly a reason
why we should behold their master-pieces in honored places in their
native, or adopted city. Titian’s “Presentation of Mary in the Temple,”
and “John the Baptist in the Wilderness,” Bonifazio’s “Banquet of
Dives,” “Jesus in the House of Levi” by Paul Veronese—(how well we
all know artists and subjects through the “blessed sun-pictures,” and
engravings!) are in the Academy of Fine Arts, a suppressed monastery of
modest dimensions and appearance, devoted now to better uses than of
yore.

The Bridge of Sighs is another covered bridge, but with a level floor
and grated, instead of shuttered windows. A row of gargoyles grin upon
the lower arch. An allegorical figure which, we guessed, was St. Mark,
occupies the centre of the frieze,—a lion on each hand. The Bridge
looks like a place accursed. We did not quite like to pass under it.
It spans a narrow canal, shut in from the sunshine by the Palace of
the Doges on one side, a dingy, darksome prison on the other. The
water is inky-black in their shadow. A chill wind draws through the
passage on the hottest day. The last glimpse of the world framed by
the barred windows, could not have heightened the hardship of leaving
it. The prisons are empty dungeons, the walls exuding cold sweats;
badly-lighted and worse-ventilated. There is nothing in them to
recompense one for the discomfort and depression of a visit.

We entered the Palace of the Doges by the Giant’s Staircase:—

    “The gory head rolled down the Giant’s stairs.”

Of course we quoted the line; knowing the while, that Marino Falieri’s
head nor foot ever touched the stately flight. He was beheaded, at
eighty years of age, at the top of another staircase the site of which
is occupied by this. We saw the place where his name should be in the
Great Hall of the Doges. The walls are covered with miles of historical
canvas. Tintoretto’s gigantic picture,—said to be the largest
oil-painting in the world—of “Paradise” fills one end of the chamber.
On the other sides are scenes from the history of the Crusades,—notably
of the Venetians’ participation in the Holy Wars. The portraits of the
Doges are upon the frieze close to the ceiling. We gave none a second
glance. The whole procession of ermine and purple mantles and peaked
beards did not interest us one-hundredth part as much as did a sable
blank directly over the coronation of Baldwin of Flanders by one of the
Dandolos.

    “_Hic est locus Marino Falieri, decapitati pro criminibus._”

Another Doge, whose craft, or inoffensiveness kept his head upon his
shoulders, takes up the indefinite series beyond the accusing tablet.

Many of the historical pictures are by noted artists. Paul Veronese
and his pupils appear most prominently in the catalogue, although
Tintoretto and Bassano did their part, under princely patronage,
toward commemorating the glories, civic, ecclesiastic, and naval, of
Venice. So much Doge and Pope drove us from the field of observation
by the time we had spent an hour in the immense room. The Voting Hall,
visited next, afforded neither change nor relief. Thirty-nine Doges
could not be forced into the Council Chamber. The faithful Venetians
have made a frieze of them, also, at the end of which we read aloud and
thankfully, the name of Manini. We had seen his tomb, and remembered
him as the last of the worthy old gentlemen. Here we read the history
of the Republic again on ceiling and walls, except where a “Last
Judgment”—pertinent, but not complimentary—over the entrance, broke the
line of battle, which was, invariably, Venetian victory.

The notorious _Bocca di Leone_ is a slit by the side of a door in a
second-story room. We were passing it, without notice, when the guide
pointed it out. It is no larger than the “slide” in a post-office
door, and like it in shape. If it could give breath to all the secrets
it swallowed when the Bridge of Sighs was a populous pathway to the
dungeons that meant death; when nocturnal hangings, with no public
preamble of trial or sentence, were legal executions—the little hole in
the wall would be as the mouth—not of the lion—but of hell!

This Palace, whose foundations were laid A. D. 800, is a superb
fabric. It was finished in the fourteenth century. It faces the sea
on one side, upon another the Piazzetta, where St. Theodore stands
aloft, shield and spear in hand, the crocodile under his feet, and
the Winged Lion holds open the Book of the Gospels with his paw. A
double colonnade of more than a hundred columns, runs around both of
these sides. We counted carefully from the main entrance to the ninth
and tenth pillars. They are of rich red marble, and between them, in
the prosperous days of the Republic, stood the herald while he cried
aloud the sentences of death just decreed in the Great Hall. The Doges
were crowned upon the upper landing of the Giant’s Staircase. An inner
stairway is known as the Scala d’Oro, or Golden Stairs, and in the
same Republican age, none could tread it who were not registered among
the nobility. We saw the table around which convened the Council of
Ten,—perhaps the same over which the Spanish conspiracy was discussed,
and on which the death-warrants were penned.

Then we rejoined patient Antonio at the foot of the Piazzetta, and
were rowed—or spirited—by winding ways, to the beautiful church of the
Franciscans, to see Canova’s monument. It was erected five years after
his death, from his own design for Titian’s tomb. The artist within
whose soul the exquisite conception grew into form should rest in this
mausoleum and none other. The door of the pyramidal tomb is pushed
open by a bending figure, (life-size,) in trailing weeds, who looks
longingly, yet fearfully, into the inner darkness. She is followed up
the short flight of steps by a procession of mourners,—Poetry, and
Sculpture, and Painting, among them,—bearing laurels and funereal
emblems. Titian’s monument, in another aisle, is a tasteless
monstrosity, in comparison with this “rejected” design.

The Franciscan Monastery adjoining the church, contains the archives of
Venice since 883. There are not less than fourteen _million_ documents
in the collection. So boast the custodians. Three hundred rooms are
appropriated for their accommodation.



CHAPTER XXIV.

_Bologna._


I HAVE recorded the Traveled American girl’s experience in the Venice
we mourned at leaving after eight days’ sojourn. In the parlor of
the Hôtel Brun, in Bologna, we met the Average Briton, a spinster of
linguistic and botanical tastes—artistic too, as presently appeared—who
was “stopping overnight,” in the city.

“Where there’s nothing to be seen, me dear,” she asserted to a
countrywoman of her own, in our hearing, “unless one has a fondness for
sausage. You remarked that they made a course of Bologna sausage at the
dinner-table. Ex’tror’nary—was it not? We thought it quite nasty. But
Bologna is a filthy old town—not a show-place at all. Nobody stops here
unless obliged to do so. We take the early train for Venice. Ah! there
is a wealth of art _there_!”

“Will you walk?” asked Caput of me, so abruptly that the A. B. lifted
her eye-glass at him.

The sidewalks are arcades, protected from sun and rain by roofs
supported upon arches and pillars. The shops were still open; the
pavements alive with strollers and purchasers. A cleanly, wide-awake
city it looked to be, even by night, and nowhere that we saw, dull or
“filthy.”

“I lose my patience at the contradiction of fools!” ejaculated my
escort, unnecessarily, his demeanor having already spoken for him.
“That of sinners is a bagatelle compared with it. I will take you
to-morrow, first to the University of Bologna, one of the oldest
institutions of learning extant. A University founded more than seven
hundred and fifty years ago,—if not, as some declare, established by
Theodosius in 425, and subsequently restored by Charlemagne. There were
often, as late as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, eight,
nine, ten thousand students in attendance at once in the various
departments, especially in the law-schools taught by the ablest
jurists of Europe. In anatomical research and discoveries, the medical
department gained almost equal fame. Galvani was a professor here, and
from the Bolognese University the knowledge of galvanism spread over
the civilized world. _You_ should be proud to know that there were
women-professors in this faculty centuries before ‘advanced ideas,’ and
the ‘co-education of the sexes,’ became fashionable jargon in America.”

“I have heard of Novella d’Andrea, the Hypatia of the fourteenth
century—fabled to have been so beautiful that she was obliged to sit
behind a screen when she lectured.”

“Upon Canon Law! The story is true. Inerius introduced here the study
of Roman law, and Novella was its able and eloquent expounder. Laura
Bassi received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University
about 1700. She was Professor of Mathematics and Physical Science.
Madame Manzolini, in the same century, taught Anatomy. Clotilda
Tambroni, Professor of Greek, died in 1817. The character of the
branches studied and taught by them is the most remarkable thing.
_Belles-lettres_ and modern languages would seem more natural.

“Bologna has produced nothing worthy of note except sausages! Yet the
king of linguists, Mezzofanti, was, likewise, a professor in this
University. Eight popes were born in Bologna, Benedict XIV. among
them, and other men far more eminent in their day and in ours, such
as Manfredi and Aldobrandini. In the Bolognese Accademia delle Belle
Arti are the very best paintings of a school that owes its name to
the city. Had that woman ever heard of Francesca Francia, Guido Reni,
Domenichino, or the three Caracci? Or, of the museum of Etruscan
curiosities in the University Buildings? Of the two Leaning Towers of
Bologna? Or, the Campo Santo? Sausage, forsooth! I _hate_ a fool!”

“So did Mr. F’s aunt!” said I, at this climax. We both laughed, and the
Average Briton was dismissed for pleasanter topics.

I was almost afraid, after this philippic, to hint that the Leaning
Towers, seen by the morrow’s light, were unfortunately like two
overgrown factory chimneys, canting tipsily to one side. They are of
grimy brick, devoid of ornament, and seven hundred and seventy years
old. Ugly, unfinished and useless, they impart a rakish, dissipated air
to an otherwise respectable quarter. The junior of the twain, and the
shorter, by one hundred and thirty-four feet, exceeds the greater in
obliquity. A century since, its inclination was eight feet southward,
three feet eastward, and it is said to have persisted in its downward
tendency during that hundred years. Its taller mate leans but three
feet out of the perpendicular.

Dante honors the shorter and more ungainly tower, by likening to it
Antæus, who was but a son of the clod himself. Prima found the passage
in the Inferno, and read it to us:

    “Qual pare a riguardar la Carisenda
     Sotto’l chinato, quando un nuvol vada
     Sovr’ essa si, ch’ella in contrario penda;
     Tal parve Anteo a me, che stava a bada
     Di vederlo chinare:—”

A less mellifluous rhyme arose to English-speaking lips in surveying
the incomplete shaft:

        “If I was so soon done for,
    I wonder what I was begun for.”

When the unstable foundations became an admitted fact, why were not the
Asinelli and Garisenda torn down and built upon firmer ground, or the
materials otherwise appropriated?

We were bound for the University, having but made a _détour_ in our
drive thither, to see what the guide-books catalogued as the “most
singular structures in Bologna”—the drunken towers.

The buildings occupied by the famous school of learning are
comparatively modern, and were, until 1803, the palace of the Cellesi,
a noble family of Bologna. The library of one hundred thousand volumes
is arranged in an extensive suite of rooms, frescoed, as are some
of the corridors, with the coats of arms of former students in the
University.

“What if a student should not have a family escutcheon?” we suggested
to our guide.

The objection was as intelligible, we saw, at once, as if we had asked,
“Must every student have a head of his own in order to matriculate
here?”

While we speculated in our own vernacular as to the number of genuine
heraldic emblems four or five hundred American college-boys could
collect at such a demand from their Alma Mater, and the guide stood
by, puzzled and obsequious, we were accosted in excellent English by a
gentleman who had entered from another room.

“Can I be of service to you? We are proud of our University and happy
to show it to strangers.”

It was Sig. Giovanni Szedilo, of whose grammar of Egyptian
hieroglyphics we afterward heard much, and for the next three hours, he
acted as host and interpreter.

The Bolognese Street of Tombs has been uncovered within a decade. It
was disclosed by that searcher of depths and bringer of hidden things
to light—a railway cutting. The bared sepulchres gave up wonderful
treasures, and the ancient University, as next of age in the region,
became their keeper. In one room of the museum are large glass cases
fastened to the floor, by brickwork, I think. In these lay the exhumed
Etruscan skeletons amid their native dust. The removal of the graves
with their tenants was so skillfully effected that we saw them exactly
as they had lain in the ground. Sons of Anak all—and daughters as
well. The women were six feet in length and grandly proportioned.
Tarnished bracelets, from which the gems had dropped, encircled the
fleshless wrists, and a tiara had slipped from the brow of one with the
gentle mouldering back to ashes. “Can a maid forget her ornaments?”
The Etruscans believed that she would not be content in the next
world—wherever they located it—without them. In the hand of each
person lay the small coin that was to pay the Etruscan Charon for the
soul’s passage over the dark river. Always a river to Pagan and to
Christian, and too deep for man’s fording! Beside the skeleton of a
little girl was a tray set out with a doll’s tea-set, as we would call
it, pretty little vessels of Etruscan ware, that were a dainty prize of
themselves, in a “collector’s” eyes. We would not have touched them had
they been exposed to manual examination—although the craze for antique
pottery had possessed us for many years. The outstretching of the small
arm, the pointing fingers in the direction of the plaything were a
sufficient guard. Other toys were laid away with other children; now
and then, a vase, or a cup of choicer ware, beside an adult.

“Supposed to be two thousand years old!” said our erudite guide. “We
are assisted materially in our computation of dates by the articles
buried with them.”

A running lecture upon Etruscan pottery ensued, illustrated by the
large and perfectly-assorted collection in the museum. There were
five different and well-defined periods in the history of the art, we
learned, and how to discern the features of each. We marked its rise
and decline from the earthenware pot, roughly engraved and rudely
colored, and the dark, or black jug, with slightly raised and more
graceful designs upon a smooth surface—to the elegant forms of chalice
and vase, embellished with groups of allegorical figures, and painted
tales of love and war. These declined in beauty and finish until,
about fifty years before the Christian era, all traces of the renowned
manufacture were lost.

“There has not been a bit of _real_ Etruscan ware made since that
time,” reiterated the connoisseur, accentuating the dictum by tapping
gently upon the specimen in his hand, and smiling into our interested
faces, “Who asserts the contrary, _lies_!” yet more suavely.

He blew invisible dust from the precious vase; replaced it tenderly
upon its shelf, and passed on to Egyptian mummies with the easy
sociability of a contemporary. There are papyrii by the score in the
archives of the University, and four thousand ancient MSS. in the “new”
buildings which are “all print” to him. He rendered the long-winded
hieroglyphical inscriptions upon sarcophagus and tablet as fluently
as we would the news summary of Herald, Tribune or Times. A pleasant,
gracious gentleman he proved to be withal. His courtesy to the party
of strangers whose sole recommendation to his hospitality was their
strangerhood, is held by them in grateful remembrance.

S. Petronio, the largest church in Bologna, is, like the Leaning
Towers, unfinished, although begun in the fourteenth century. The
Emperor Charles V. was crowned here. A vast, hideous barn without, it
yet holds some valuables that well repay the trouble of inspection.
The marble screens of the chapels; the inlaid and carved stalls, of a
clear, dark brown with age; old stained glass that shames the gaudiness
of later art; one or two fine groups of sculpture, and a very few good
paintings enrich the interior. The astronomer Cassini drew, in 1653,
the meridian-line upon the pavement of one of the aisles. Much of the
stained glass is from the hand of the celebrated Jacob of Ulm. About
the church is a bare, paved space, devoid of ornament or enclosure,
that adds to the dreariness of the structure.

Guido Reni is buried in S. Domenico, a smaller edifice, enshrining
the remains of its patron saint. The kneeling angel on one side of
his tomb, and the figure of St. Petronious (a new worthy to us) upon
the other, are by Michael Angelo. Guido Reni painted St. Dominic’s
transfiguration within the dome, and, with one of the Caracci, frescoed
the Chapel of the Rosary on the left. In the choir is the monument of
King Enzio.

We had already seen the house in which he was confined for twenty-two
years after the disastrous fight of Fassalta. He was the son of the
Emperor Frederic II., and great-grandson of Barbarossa. Like his
auburn-haired ancestor, Frederic II. waged war for twenty years with
the Papal See, the Bolognese espousing the cause of the latter, and
that of the Guelphs. Euzio’s gift from his father of the Kingdom of
Sardinia was the pretext of the Pope’s second bull of excommunication
against the Emperor, and the cause of the war which resulted for the
brave young Prince in life-long captivity. His incarceration was rather
the honorable detention of a prisoner-of-state than penal confinement.
The Palazzo del Podestà was a luxurious home. Its Great Hall still
bears his name. It was not in this audience-chamber that he received
the visits of the most beautiful woman in Bologna, Lucia Vendagoli,
whom he secretly married. Euzio was, at the time of his capture, but
twenty-five years of age. At seventeen, he had fought his first battle
under his father’s eye; at nineteen, was King of Sardinia; at twenty,
was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial forces. To the bravery
and knightly accomplishments of his illustrious great-grandfather, he
united personal beauty and grace that made him irresistible to the fair
patrician. Her passion for him and her wifely devotion are the theme of
numberless ballads and romances, and were the solace of an existence
that must else have been insupportable to the caged eagle.

From this union sprang the powerful family of the Bentivogli who
carried on the hereditary feud with the Pope until the latter sued
for peace and alliance. The Bentivogli were a stirring race and kept
Bologna in hot water for as many decades as their founder passed years
in the palatial prison. The staircase up which Lucia stole to meet her
royal lover; the apartments in which their interviews were held, are
still pointed out, although the palace is now a city hall where records
are made and preserved.

We drove out to the Campo Santo upon the loveliest of June afternoons,
passing, within the town-walls, the house of Rossini, built under his
own eye, and the more modest abodes of Guercino and Guido Reni. The
frescoes of this last are from the master’s brush, but we had not time
to go in to look at them. “Something must be crowded out”—even in
Bologna. For example, we visited neither soap nor sausage-factory.

The drives in the environs of the city are extremely beautiful, the
roads good. The Campo Santo was, until the beginning of this century, a
Carthusian Monastery. The grounds are entered through a gate in walls
enclosing church, cloisters and arcades, with a level space literally
floored with grave-stones. In this, the common burying-ground,
were re-interred the greater part of the bones unearthed by the
railway excavations through the Street of Tombs. Etruscans, Guelphs,
Ghibellines and modern Bolognese sleep amicably and compactly together.
Grass and purple clover spring up between the horizontal stones,
and the roses in the path-borders load the air with sweetness. The
distinguished dead have monuments in the arcades,—long corridors,
filled with single statues and groups, usually admirable in design and
workmanship. The vaults of the nobility are here, wealth combining with
affection to set fitting tributes above the beloved and departed. There
may be, also, a vying of wealth with wealth in the elaborate sculpture
and multiplication of figures. I did not think of this in pausing at
a father’s tomb on which stood upright a handsome lad of thirteen or
thereabouts, the mother’s only surviving child. She had bowed upon his
shoulder and buried her face in his neck in an agony of desolation,
clinging to him as to earth’s last hope. The boy’s head was erect, and
his arm encircled the drooping form. He would play the man-protector,
but his eyes were full, and the pouting underlip was held firm by the
tightened line of the upper. The careful finish of the details of hair
and dress did not detract from the pathos of the group.

“That is not Art!” objected Prima, made critical by Roman art lectures
and illustrative galleries.

“No!” I assented. “It is Nature!”

The monument of Lætitia Murat Pepoli, Napoleon’s niece, is here, and
a matchless statue of King Murat in full uniform, sword in hand, one
advanced foot upon a piece of ordnance. Torn banners, a crown and other
trophies of victorious generalship, bestrew the ground. The pose of
head, the military carriage, the contained strength of the countenance
betoken the master of men and of himself.

A monument representing Christ, attended by angels floating in the air,
is a surprisingly lovely bit of “artistic trickery.”

Clotilda Tambroni is buried here, and in the cloisters are the busts
of men distinguished in science and in letters, Mezzofanti and Galvani
among them. When our erudite Sig. Giovanni seeks Etrurians and
Egyptians in the world of shades, the Bolognese will set up his marble
presentment beside his peers.

Among the “crowded outs” of Bologna was _not_ the Accademia delle Belle
Arti. We almost pitied—under the mollifying and refining influences of
our stay within its courts,—the Average British Spinster who had taken
the early train for Venice and the “wealth of art _there_.” Baedeker
and his followers designate as the “gem of the collection” Raphael’s
picture of S. Cæcilia’s trance while angels discourse heavenly music
above her head. One demurs at the decision in beholding, in the
same gallery, Guido Reni’s “Crucifixion,” his “Victorious Samson”
and “Slaughter of the Innocents;” Domenichino’s “Martyrs,” with
supplicating saints and angels in the upper part; the best works of the
Caracci and Francesca Francia; Peruginos—for those who like them; more
pleasing pictures from Guercino, the Sirani, and a host of artists of
less note.

We were to leave the uninteresting city at half-past twelve, the third
day after our arrival. The carriages stood at the door of the hotel,
piled with luggage, and the party, with one exception, were in their
places half an hour before the moment of the train’s departure for
Milan. Landlord, waiters, and _facchini_ were paid, vehicles engaged
and trunks brought down before Caput’s disappearance. Fifteen minutes
of tolerably patient waiting ended in inquiries among ourselves as to
who had seen him last and where. He had stepped around into the next
street, at eleven o’clock, we were assured by the proprietor. He would
be back very soon. Five restless minutes more, and the urbane host
ventured to ask if Monsieur had the “habitude” of losing trains. It was
the custom of some travelers. And what matter? It was an easy affair
to unload and dismiss the carriages and return to our apartments.
There were still unvisited attractions in Bologna. His smiles grew
broader, our anxiety more active as two, three, four minutes slipped
by. The fifth was upon us when a hot and hurrying figure dashed up
the street; sprang into the foremost carriage, and we drove off at a
gallop to the station. There, we had a breathless rush, as might have
been expected,—a scramble for tickets and seats. It was impossible
to secure a compartment for our party. The lunch-basket was in one
carriage; the fruit-basket in another. Nobody had her own satchel or
books. The Invaluable and Boy were separated by four compartments
from always-foreboding Mamma. We were fifty miles from the hills of
Bologna, and our eyes already sated with the watery flats, rice-fields
and broom-stick poplars of Lombardy before we found one another, our
respective belongings,—and our tempers.

The cause of the delay and consequent turmoil maintained his
equanimity, as was meet. For, had he not had another hour in the
University? Did he not offer me, as a peace-gift, photographs of the
portraits of the quintette of Lady-professors of Bologna, including the
perilously-fair Novella? Was he not brimming and bubbling over with
priceless information imparted by the benevolent librarian, and burning
benevolently to make us partakers of his knowledge? And, securely
buttoned in the breast-pocket of his traveling-coat, did he not possess
the Grammar of Egyptian Hieroglyphics, written in flowing Italian by
Sig. Giovanni Szedilo?



CHAPTER XXV.

“_Non é Possibile!_”


“_NON é possibile_!” said Boy, turning his flushed face to the pillow,
and away from me.

“But it is arrow-root jelly, dear! Try to eat a little!”

“_Non é possibile!_” murmured the little fellow, dreamily, and fell
into a feverish doze.

We were detained ten days in Milan, waiting for letters and to
collect luggage. Coolness was not to be had in the city except in
the Cathedral, and among the streams, fountains and trees of the
Public Gardens. The older members of the party haunted the former
place, exploring every part from the private crypt where Carlo
Borromeo lies, like a shriveled black walnut, in his casket of
rock crystal, enwrapped in cloth-of-gold; a jeweled mitre upon his
head, a cross of emerald and diamonds over his breast;—four million
francs represented in sarcophagus and ornaments, while beggars swarm
upon the church-steps;—to the ascent “from glory to glory,” of the
hundred-pinnacled roof. Boy and his devoted attendant frequented the
Gardens—“the Publics,” as he called them, as they had what he had named
the “Bobbolos” in Florence. We believed him as safe as happy there.

Yet, when he drooped and sickened within a few days after our arrival
at Cadenabbia on Lake Como, we feared lest malaria, the pest of Milan,
had lurked in the shaded glens, and on the brink of the ponds where he
used to feed the swans. The malady proved to be measles, contracted in
Lombardy or from some Cadenabbian playmate. It was an easy matter to
quarantine our apartments in the quiet hotel we had chosen because we
could be better accommodated, as a family, there, than at the larger
one lower down the lake. Three of our rooms on the second-floor were
_en suite_. We removed the patient into the farthest of these, a cool,
corner bed-room fronting the water, and the Invaluable had entire
charge of it. Happily, the only other children in the house were two
baby-girls whose parents were Americans, but now resident in Florence.
I went immediately to the mother, with the truth, when the eruption
appeared. She was a sensible woman, and a thorough lady.

“My girls must have the disease at some time,” she said. “As well now
as later. Do not distress yourself.”

Her husband, as considerate of us and as philosophical for their little
ones, added some valuable advice to his reassurances,—counsel I am glad
to transmit to others who may require the warning.

“Say nothing to the _Padrone_ of the nature of Boy’s ailment. He
will, probably, demand a large sum for the damage done his hotel by
the rumor of the infectious disease. That is a favorite ‘dodge.’
Travelers must pay for the luxury of illness in a country where there
are fewer appliances for the comfort of invalids than anywhere else in
Christendom.”

We thanked him for his friendly caution, and followed his directions so
faithfully that, to this day, neither landlord nor domestic suspects
the harm they sustained through our residence with them. Boy had the
measles, as he does everything, with all his might. He could neither
taste nor smell, and the sight of food was odious. The room was shaded
to densest twilight while the sun was above the horizon, to spare the
weak eyes. The gentlest talk and softest songs were required to calm
the unrest of fever. When his mind wandered, as it often did, he would
speak nothing but Italian, fancying, generally, that he was talking
with the _padrone_ and his wife who had petted him abundantly before
his illness. Hence, the “_non é possible_” that had refused his supper.

Seeing him sink into more quiet sleep than he had enjoyed for several
days, I set down the rejected cup; stole to the window and unbolted
a shutter. The sunny day was passing away, but the lake was a-glow
with its farewell. In the garden, separating the hotel from the shore,
was a group of American friends who had arrived from Milan two days
before. Three or four girls, looking delightfully cool and home-like in
their muslin dresses, sat upon low chairs with their fancy-work. The
gentlemen wore loose coats and straw hats. The coziness of content,—the
reposefulness expressed in attitude and demeanor, were in just harmony
with hour and scene. One was reading aloud, and while I looked, the
words formed themselves clearly upon my ear. They had talked at dinner,
of “Kismet,” then a new sensation in literary circles. But the tuneful
measures delivered by the fine voice of the reader were from no modern
novel or other ephemeral page:—

    “By Sommariva’s garden-gate
      I make the marble stairs my seat,
     And hear the water, as I wait,
      Lapping the steps beneath my feet.

     The undulation sinks and swells
      Along the stony parapets;
     And, far away the floating bells
      Tinkle upon the fisher’s nets.

     Silent and slow, by tower and town,
      The freighted barges come and go,
     Their pendent shadows gliding down
      By town and tower submerged below.

     The hills sweep upward from the shore,
      With villas, scattered, one by one,
     Upon their wooded spurs, and lower,
      Bellaggio, blazing in the sun.

     And, dimly seen, a tangled mass
      Of walls and woods, of light and shade,
     Stands, beckoning up the Stetvio Pass,
      Varenna, with its white cascade.

     I ask myself—Is this a dream?
      Will it all vanish into air?
     Is there a land of such supreme
      And perfect beauty anywhere?

     Sweet vision! do not fade away;
      Linger until my heart shall take
     Into itself the summer day
      And all the beauty of the lake!”

I do not apologize for the long quotation. I offer it as a pendant to
Buchanan Read’s “Drifting,” that brings before our closed eyes the
unrivaled loveliness of the “Vesuvian Bay.” Both are inspired—I use the
term reverently—word-paintings. Both excite within the soul of him who
has seen Naples from Posilipo and Como from Cadenabbia, something of
the sweet madness of poetic dreaming. It is all before us again with
the melodious movement of the verse—even to such realistic touches as
the trailing hand—

              “Over the rail,
    Within the shadow of the sail”—

and the tinkle of the floating bells that guide the fisherman by night
to his spread net.

I believe Como disappoints nobody. Claude Melnotte’s description of
his ideal castle upon its banks reads like a fairy-story. Recalled at
Cadenabbia or Bellaggio, it may be aptly likened to a cleverly-painted
drop-curtain.

I had been shut up in the darkened room all day; was weary of body,
and if not actually anxious, sympathized so earnestly with the little
sufferer that my heart was as sore as my nerves were worn. The view—the
perfumed air; the on-coming of an evening fairer than the day; the
home-comfortableness of the garden-party; the feeling and music of the
voice rendering the poem,—perhaps, most of all the poem itself, loved
and familiar as it was—were soothing and cordial for sleeplessness,
fatigue and _the mother’s heart pain_. I know no other ache that so
surely and soon drains dry the fountain of life and strength as the
nameless, terrible “goneness” and sinking I have thus characterized.

The moon arose before the Iris hues faded out from the water. The
young people filled two boats and floated away upon the silvery track
laid smoothly and broadly from shore to shore. A band was playing
at the Hotel Bellevue, half-a-mile away, and the lake lay still, as
listening. In the pauses of the music the tinkling of the tiny bells
on the nets; the far-off murmur of happy voices, and the yet fainter
song of nightingales in the chestnut-grove behind the house filled up
the silence. From the richly-wooded hills and clustering villas at
the lower end of the lake, my eyes roved along the loftier crests of
the opposite heights to the snow-line of the Bernese Alps filling the
horizon to my left. We had meant to give but one week to Como, tempting
as it was. These seven days were to have been a breathing space after
Milanese heats before we essayed the St. Gothard Pass—the gate of
Switzerland. A mighty gate and a magnificent, and, up to June 10th,
locked fast against us. The band of white radiance, gleaming in the
moonlight, like the highway of the blessed ones from earth to heaven,
had been a stern “_non é possibile!_” to our progress before Boy fell
ill. A party had passed the barrier on the 7th, but at the cost of
great suffering and peril to the invalid of their company,—a report
duly conveyed to us, coupled with a warning against similar temerity.
_Now_—upon the 20th—we were a fixed fact, for three weeks, at the
least, and had taken our measures accordingly. Matters might have been
far worse. For instance, had the civil _padrone_ surmised the character
of Boy’s “feverish attack,” or the dear babies B—— caught it from him.
We were granted time to write up note-books, arrange photographs and
herbarium-albums, and bring up long arrears of correspondence. Had we
pressed on over the mountain-wall at the appointed date we should have
missed the reunion with the party of eight from lower Italy from whose
companionship we were drawing refreshment and sincerest pleasure.

In the center of one leaf of my floral album—right opposite a view
of Bellagio and Villa Serbelloni, with the rampart of snow-capped
hills rising back of it into the clouds, the shining mirror before
it repeating white walls and dark woods, olive-terraces and
rose-gardens,—is a single pressed blossom. It is five-petaled,
gold-colored; the pistil of deepest orange protected by a thicket
of amber floss. The leaves are long, stiff, and were glossy, set in
pairs, the one against the other on a brown, woody stem. It grew in
the grounds of the Villa Carlotta. The spray of many fountains kept
the foliage green, when Bellaggio blazed most fiercely in the June
suns, and the lime-walks on the Cadenabbia side were deserted. Boscages
of myrtle, of lemon-trees and citron-aloe, honeysuckles, jasmine and
magnolias shadowed the alleys. Calla lilies, tall and pure, gave back
the moonlight from the fountain-rims, and musk-roses were wooed by the
nightingales from moonrise to day-dawn.

This is what my yellow-haired princess says to me, as I unclose the
book, and a waft of the perfume she brought from the enchanted regions
steals forth. She was bright as the sun, clear as the day, sweeter than
the magnolias, when Caput came with her, into Boy’s room the day after
my moonlight reverie at the window, and gave her into my hand:

“Mr. R—— S——’s compliments and regrets that you could not join the
walking-party.”

She has a page to herself,—the peerless beauty! as the episode of
the four days’ visit of our transatlantic friends glows out from the
pale level of our social life during our as many weeks’ lingering at
Cadenabbia.

We made excursions when Boy was well enough to leave his bed, by
boat, by carriage and on foot. We bought in Bellaggio more olive-wood
thimble-cases, ink-stands, silk-winders, darning-eggs and paper-cutters
than we shall ever get rid of on Christmases and birth-days. We visited
silk-factories; penetrated the malodorous recesses of stone cottages
to see the loathsome worms gorging themselves with mulberry-leaves;
going into silken retirement and enforced fasting after their gluttony,
and boiling by the million in a big pot, dirty peasant women catching
at the loosened threads and winding them on bobbins until the dead
nakedness of the spinner was exposed. We read, studied and wrote in
the scorching noons and passed the evenings in walking and sailing. We
did not tire of lake or country, but July was late for Italy, and my
system may have absorbed poison from the Lombardy marshes. When, on the
morning of July 4th, the diligence we had engaged for the journey to
Porlezza drove to the door, I was supported down the stairs after a
week of pain and debility, and lifted into my place in the _coupé_, or
deep front seat, facing the horses.

Wedged in and stayed by cushions, I soon tested and approved the
sagacity of an eminent physician’s advice to invalids—chronic and
occasional. “Change air and place, instead of drugging yourself. Move
as long as you can stir. When you cannot,—be _carried_! But, go!”

The air was fresh and invigorating, blowing straight from the
mountains. The road wound up and over terraced hills, cultivated to the
topmost ridges; through fertile valleys and delicious forest glades,
gemmed with wood blossoms. It was haying time. Purple clover and
meadow-grasses were swathed, drying, and stacked in a hundred fields,
the succulent stems yielding under the tropical sun the balm of a
thousand—ten thousand flowers. I have talked of the wild Flora of Italy
until the reader may sicken at the hint of further mention of such
tapestry as Nature rolled down to our wheel-tracks. Cyclamen, violets,
wild peas,—daisies, always and everywhere,—edged and pearled the green
carpet. The scenery changed gradually, without loss of beauty, in
nearing the Lake of Lugano. Lying among pillows on the deck of the
steamer we had taken at Porlezza, I noted that the very mountain shapes
were unlike those environing Como, and their coloring darker. There
were no more straight brows and abrupt precipices, but one conical
height was linked to another, furrowed by foaming cascades, springing
from crest and sides, until S. Salvador loomed up before us at the
terminus of our twelve-mile sail, majestic and symmetrical, wearing a
gray old convent as a bride her nuptial crown.

At the Hotel Belle Vue, on the border of the lake, we tarried two
days, to rally strength for the continuous effort of the next week,
more than to inspect Lugano and its suburbs. We hired here a carriage,
in size and general features resembling a Concord stage. A written
contract was signed by both parties. The driver, vehicle and four
horses were ours until we should be delivered, baggage and bodies,
upon the steamboat plying between Fluelen, at the upper end of the
Lake of the Four Cantons, and the town of Lucerne. The _diligence_
was well-hung, fitted up with red velvet seats, soft and elastic; the
horses were strong and true,—the driver spoke Italian—not German,
which we were beginning to dread. For almost a week we were to be only
passengers, free to eat, sleep and see at our will, without the fear
of altered prices, extras and other sharp impositions, incessantly
weighing upon our foreign-born souls.

How we climbed the Alps is too long a story to relate in detail.
Maggiore, the Ticino, Bellinzona, the quiet Sabbath at Faido near the
mouth of the St. Gothard tunnel, then building,—I catch the names in
fluttering the leaves of our note-books, and each has its story.

Julius Cæsar fought his way from Rome to Gaul through the valley of
the Ticino. The plains on each side of the classic river, as level as
an Illinois prairie, are a narrow strip between the mighty ranges of
snow-mountains. The meadow-farms are divided by hedge-rows and flecked
with grazing flocks. Other herds are pastured high up the hill-sides in
the summer, the huts of their keepers black or tawny dots, when seen
from below. Every few furlongs, cataracts flash into sight, hasting
by impetuous leaps, down the rocks to the river, not infrequently
dispersing themselves in spray and naught, in the length and number of
their bounds.

We crossed the Pass, July 9th—a cloudless day. Since early morning we
had been climbing. The road is built and cut into the solid mountain,
and barely wide enough to permit the skillfully-conducted passage of
two diligences. It winds up and around spurs and shoulders, and is
protected at the more dangerous curves and steeper cliffs by stout
stone posts. The traveler eyes the thickness and obstinate expression
of these with growing satisfaction as the villages below dwindle into
toy-hamlets and the fields into dolls’ patchwork-quilts of divers
shades of green and yellow; while he makes rapid silent calculations
of the distance between them, and their relation to the length and
breadth of the stage. _Could_ we go down backward, sideways, anyway,
were a horse to balk, or a trace to break, or a wheel come off? Looking
directly upward, we saw a tedious succession of terraces, similarly
guarded; dizzy inclines that were surely inaccessible to hoof or wheel.
The next hour showed us from the most incredible of these, the road
from which we had surveyed it.

“I begin to comprehend ‘Excelsior,’” said Secunda, solemnly. “No wonder
he died when he got to the top!”

We were nearing the snow-line. We were warmly wrapped, but the
increasing frostiness of the air warned us to unfasten shawl-straps
and pull from beneath the seats the carriage-rugs we had stowed
away at Faido. Caput had spent as much time out of the _diligence_
as in it, in the ascent. A bed of scarlet pinks or blue gentian; a
blanket of hoary moss capped with red; a clump of yellow pansies—the
tiny “Marguerites” of the Alps,—branchy shrubs of rose-colored
rhododendrons;—were continually-recurring temptations to leap over the
wheel from his place in the _coupé_. Once out, it was hardly worth
his while to get in again when, for a mile or two ahead, the like
attractions, and many others, cushioned the rocks, nodded from their
brows and smiled from every crevice. Now, as he came up to the side of
the carriage to toss in upon us his burden of beauty, his face was
reddened by cold,—not sunburned;—he struck his emptied hands smartly
together to quicken the circulation, and the rime began to form upon
his moustache. Scanty patches of snow no longer leaked from sheltered
nooks across the road. Brown earth and barren rocks were hidden
partially, then, entirely,—then, heaped over by the gray drifts. They
_were_ gray,—positively grimy. Not quite as dirty as city-snow, but of
a genuine pepper-and-salt that was a surprise and a disgust. From below
they were as dazzlingly pure as the clouds that caught against them,
with the same cold azure shadows in their clefts. We were driving now
between cloven banks of packed snow,—six, twelve, twenty feet high, on
which the heavens might have showered ashes for as many days and nights
as darkness had brooded over Pompeii, so befouled were they. The July
sun shone full upon the glistering surface, with no more perceptible
effect than if the month had been December. The ingrained dust had been
swept from the iron crags jutting into the snow-cutting at the next
turn of the pass, and frowning upon us from yet loftier terraces. It
was granitic powder, disintegrated and beaten fine by frost and blast.

Once in a while, we passed a low house with deep eaves and great stones
laid upon the roof. These supplied refuge at night and in storm, to the
goats browsing on Alpine moss and grasses. The herdsmen wore jackets,
coats and caps of goat and sheepskin. Wiry dogs, not at all like the
pictorial St. Bernard, slunk at their heels, or barked crossly at a
straying kid. A clatter of hoofs and rattle of trace-chains upon the
upper road prepared us for the appearance of a single horse, trotting
steadily by us in the direction from which we had come.

“Has there been an accident?” we inquired.

We might see a coach rolling back upon us next. The driver explained
that the summit of the Pass was but a mile or two ahead; that the
fourth horse was not needed in the descent and was accordingly released
from each _diligence_ at the post-house at the top, and sent home by
himself.

He was a saturnine “whip,”—for one who spoke Italian—but he smiled
grimly at the next question; “Will he certainly find his way home? Will
nobody try to stop, or steal him?”

“It is an everyday affair, Signorina. His supper is at the foot of the
hill. Who should stop him, since everybody knows to whom he belongs and
whither he goes?”

Peering over the edge of the precipice from my window, I saw the
trained creature, already two hundred feet below our level, trotting
at the same even gait, down the zigzag highway. Before we had gone
half-a-mile further, a second met and passed us, harness on, the traces
hooked up out of the way of his heels, going downward at the regulation
rate of speed, neither faster nor slower than his predecessor. It was
at this point that a volley of soft snow-balls flew against and into
the carriage, and from their ambush, behind a drifted heap, emerged
Caput and Prima, rosy with laughter and the sharp air. They had left
the carriage an hour ago to walk directly across the ice-fields to this
height, a straight track of two miles, while we had toiled and doubled
over more than six to the rendezvous.

Snow-balling in July! The story of the “three little boys who went out
to slide, All on a summer’s day,” need not have been fictitious if they
were St. Gothardites. In a trice, Secunda had torn off entangling rugs
and was upon the ground, and Boy halloaing vociferously to be allowed a
share in the sport. The driver sat upon the box, gazing at his horses’
ears, unmoved by the whizzing missiles, merry shrieks and deafening
detonations from the frozen rocks. I was cramped by long sitting, even
in my luxurious nest upon the back seat. I would get out. The snow was
not white, but it was snow. I longed to feel it crisp and crunch under
my feet.

“Is it quite prudent?” remonstrated Miss M——, gently.

“Come on!” encouraged the revelers.

After a dozen trial-steps, I boldly avowed my intention to walk to the
nearest curve in the road. Caput gave me his arm and we sent the coach
on with the others. The ground was smooth as a skating-pond, but not
so slippery. A mountain-wall, five hundred feet high, arose in sheer
perpendicular at our left.

“Take it slowly!” cautioned my escort. “You are weak, and the air
highly rarefied.”

_That_, then, was the reason why respiration passed rapidly from
difficulty to pain. I should get used to it soon, and to the horrible
aching in my right lung. But, when, having walked beyond the lee of the
rocky rampart, the breeze from a neighboring glacier struck us in the
face, I thought breath was gone forever. In vain Caput, turning my back
to the wind, sheltered me with his broad shoulders and assured me the
pain would be short-lived. The agony of suffocation went on. I had but
one distinct recollection in the half-death:

“A traveler died, last year, near the top of the Pass from _collapse of
the lungs_!” a gentleman had said to another one evening at the hotel
as I passed through the hall.

I had scarcely thought of it again until now, when I was dying in the
same way. I heard Caput’s shout to the driver; saw mistily the entire
party tumble out into the snow, and Prima, plunging down a steep bank
to reach us the sooner,—brandy-bottle in hand. As if swallowing were
easier than breathing! They got me into my nest again; wound me up in
shawls and rugs; poured some wine down my throat; chafed my hands, and,
after an age of misery, the tiniest whiff of breath found entrance to
the laboring lungs, as when a closed bellows is slowly opened.

The driver, during all this commotion, sat, rigid as the nearest Alp,
without abating his scrutiny of his leaders’ ears. Collapsing lungs
were no novelty and no terror to him, and none of his business. He had
contracted to deliver us, alive or dead—(and our luggage,) upon the
deck of the Fluelen steamer within a week, for and in consideration
of the sum of so many hundred francs. That was all he knew or cared
about the matter. He loosened one of our horses at the post-house on
the summit, and the patient beast trotted off down the mountain in
the convoy of a dog chained to his collar. The cold was now piercing;
the never-thawed ice of the lake before the Hospice, blue and hard as
steel. Caput added to his adjurations to haste, a gratuity that touched
a chord of natural feeling in the wooden man. He fairly raced down the
other side of the mountain, spinning around curves and grating upon the
wheel-brakes while our hair stood on end and our teeth were on edge.
Down defiles between heights that held up the heavens on each side; on
the verge of precipices with the wheels almost scraping upright rocks
on the left and grazing the outermost edge on the right; thundering
over bridges and flying through the spray of waterfalls, we plunged,
ever downward—until, at sunset, we whirled out into the open plain and
into the yard of the Hotel Belle Vue at Andermatt.

In ten minutes more, I lay, smothering in the well of one feather-bed,
another upon me, and was cold withal. A Swiss maid was building a fire
in the stove, within four feet of the bolster. The Invaluable and the
spirit-lamp were brewing a comforting cup of tea upon the round stand
at my side.

The hotel was excellent, being clean, commodious, well-provisioned and
handsomely-appointed as to furniture and service. The rest of the party
used it as a center for all-day excursions to the Furca Pass and the
Rhone Glacier, while I lay in bed, too worn and miserable to be more
than feebly diverted by scraps of conversation that arose to my windows
from the piazza and lawn. Such, for example as this:

_English Voice_—feminine and fat. “I _guess_ you are an American boy,
stranger!”

_Boy._ “What makes you think so?”

_E. V._ “Oh! I judge—I mean, I guess—by the cut of you.”

_Boy_ (who never “guesses”—) “And I judge you are English. I can tell
them wherever I see them.”

_E. V._ “How—I should like to know?”

_Boy_ (knowing and sententious). “Americans are white and thin. English
are fat and red.”

_E. V._ “Upon me word! _You_ are not very white, I am sure!”

_Boy._ “Ah! but if you had seen me when I had the measles at
Cadenabbia! _Misericordia!_ I was as red as you!”

This chapter has two morals for those whom they may concern.

To Traveling Americans and those who hope to become such: Heed wisely
Nature’s emphatic or hinted “_Non é possible!_” Do not attempt the St.
Gothard or Simplon Pass if you have unsound lungs or heart.

To the Average Briton: A monkey is better at cutting capers than an
elephant.



CHAPTER XXVI.

_Lucerne and The Rigi._


PHOTOGRAPHS, casts and carvings of the Lucerne Lion are well-nigh as
plentiful as copies of the Beatrice of the Palazzo Barberini. All—even
the best of these—fall lamentably short of expressing the simple
grandeur of Thorwaldsen’s boldest work. The face of a perpendicular
sandstone cliff was hewn roughly,—not smoothed nor polished in any
part. Half-way up was quarried a niche, and in this, as in his lair,
lies a lion, nearly thirty feet long. The splintered shank of a lance
projects from his side. The head—broken or bitten off in his mortal
throe, lies by the shield of France, which is embossed with the _fleur
de lys_. One huge paw protects the sacred emblem. He has dragged
himself, with a final rally of strength to die upon, while caressing
it. He will never move again. The limbs are relaxed, the mighty frame
stretched by the convulsion that wrenched away his life. He is dead—not
daunted;—conquered,—not subdued. The blended grief and ferocity in his
face are human and heroic, not brutal. In the rock above and below the
den are cut a Latin epitaph, and the names of twenty-six men.

“_Helvetiorum fidei ac virtuti. Die X Aug. II et III Sept., 1792_;”
begins the inscription. The date tells the story.

Who has not read, oft and again, how the Swiss Guard of twenty-six
officers and seven hundred and fifty privates were cut to pieces to a
man in defence of the royal prisoner of the Tuileries against the mob
thirsting for her blood? In the little shop near the monument they show
a fac-simile of the king’s order to the Guards to be at the palace upon
the fatal day. Trailing vines have crept downward from the top and
fissures of the cliff. Tall trees clothe the summit. A pool lies at
the base, a slender fountain in the middle. There are always travelers
seated upon the benches in front of the railing guarding the water’s
brink, contemplating the dead monarch. It is the pride of Lucerne.

Just above it is the Garden of the Glacier, lately uncovered. The earth
has been removed with care, revealing cup-like basins in the sandstone,
worn by the glacial action of the round stones lying in the bottom of
the hollows.

“Do you believe it?” I overheard an American girl ask her cavalier, as
they leaned over the railing of a rustic bridge crossing the largest
“cup.”

“Not a bit of it! It’s gotten up to order by some of these foreign
scientifs. Stones are too round, and the marks of grinding too plain.
Fact is—the Glacial Theory is the nobby thing, now-a-days, and if
there’s no trick about this concern, it’s _proved_—clear as print! But
they’ve done it too well. Nature doesn’t turn out such smooth jobs.”

It _is_ very smooth work. Those who believe in the authenticity of
the record, gaze with awe at the stones, varying in size from a
nine-pin ball to boulders of many tons’ weight, forced into their
present cavities by the slow rotation of cycles. Ball and boulder have
been ground down themselves in all this wear and tear, but the main
rock has been the greater sufferer. The glacier was the master and
resistless motive-power.

The great Glacier of the Uri-Rothestock was in sight of my bed-room
windows, flanked by the eternal snow-line of the Engelberger Alps.
Across the lake from the city loomed Mt. Pilatus.

    “If Pilatus wears his cap, serene will be the day;
     If his collar he puts on, you may venture on your way.
     But if his sword he wields, at home you’d better stay”—

is an English translation of a Lucerne rhyme. Guide-books refer to him
as the district-barometer. Our experience—and we watched him narrowly
for a month,—proved him to be as unstable as was he for whom he was
named. There is a gloomy tarn upon the southern declivity in which
Pontius Pilate drowned himself, a remorseful exile, driven from palace,
judgment-seat and country, but unable to evade the torment of memory
and the accusing vision of “that Just Man.” So runs the popular legend,
and that the “cap,” “collar” and “sword” of the mountain rise from this
dark and accursed lake. Moreover, it is believed by the peasants that
storms follow the approach of a foreigner to the haunted spot. With all
his humors and untruthfulness, Pilatus deserves a better name. He is a
striking and magnificent accessory to a view that is glorious in every
aspect.

Every rood of ground around Lake Lucerne, otherwise known as the Lake
of the Four Cantons, is memorable in the history of the gallant little
Republic. Near it, Arnold Winkelried gathered into his breast the red
sheaf of spears upon the battle-field of Sempach, July 9th, 1386.

The Confederate Brethren of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, met at Rütli
upon the very border of the lake, on the night of November 7th, 1307,
and swore to give no rest to mind or body until Switzerland should be
free.

William Tell was born at Bürglen, a few miles above Fluelen. It is
fashionable to call him a myth, and his biography symbolical. If our
opinion on this head had been demanded prior to our going to Lucerne,
the spirit, if not the letter of our reply would have been akin to
Betsey Prig’s “memorable and tremendous words,”—“I don’t believe
there’s no sich a person!” By the time we had re-read Schiller’s
“William Tell,” and visited, with it in hand, Altorf, Küssnacht and
Tell’s Platte, we credited the tales of his being and daring almost as
devoutly as do the native Switzers.

Küssnacht is but a couple of miles back from the lake in the midst of
a smiling country lying between water and mountains. A crumbling wall
on a hill-side to the left of the road was pointed out to us as the
remains of Gessler’s Castle, pulled down and burned by the Confederates
the year after the Oath of Rütli. The Hollow Way in which Tell shot him
is a romantic lane between steep, grassy banks and overhanging trees.
It was by this that Gessler approached the tree behind which Tell lay,
concealed, cross-bow in hand. The exact place of the tyrant’s death
is marked by a little chapel. A fresco in the porch depicts the scene
described by Schiller. The purple Alpine heather blossoms up to the
church-door, and maiden-hair ferns fringe the foundation walls. The
short, warm season in Switzerland is blessed by frequent and copious
showers; the face of the earth is freshly green and the herbage almost
as luxuriant as are the spring-crops of Italy. We drove a mile beyond
the chapel to Immensee, a hamlet upon Lake Zug. Lunch was spread for
us at a round table in the lakeside garden of a _café_. The Rigi rose
abruptly from the southern and narrower end of the blue sheet. Drifts
of gauzy haze were sailing slowly across the broad brow.

“Almost six thousand feet high!” remarked Prima, following the outlines
with thoughtful eyes, “And Zug is thirteen hundred feet deep. Lake Thun
fifteen hundred. One’s imagination needs Swiss training in order to
grasp such figures.”

The opposite heights were a much lower group, graceful in undulation
and form, and heavily wooded. To our right as we sat, was a barren
line, like a mountain-road, running sharply down the side of one of the
range.

“The Goldau Landslip!” We had heard of it almost as long and frequently
as of the Wyllie disaster in the White Mountains. In 1806, a strip of
the mountain, one thousand feet long and one hundred thick, slid, on a
September afternoon, at first slowly, then, with frightful velocity,
until it crashed, three thousand feet below, upon four peaceful
villages at the foot of the slope and into the Lake of Lowerz. To this
day, a solemn mass is said in the sister-village of Artli, upon the
anniversary of the calamity, for the souls of the four hundred-and-odd
men, women and children who perished in that one hour. Lowerz, forced
thus suddenly from its bed, reared, a tottering wall of waters, eighty
feet high, and fell backward upon islands and shores, bearing churches,
dwellings and trees before it. It is a mere pond now, a little over a
mile wide, and but fifty feet deep, the _débris_ of the slide having
settled in it. A peaceful eye of light, it reflected the quiet heavens
as we looked back upon it from the hill above Immensee, but the awful
track on which neither tree nor bush takes root, leads down into it.

Tell’s Platte—or “Leap”—is marked by a tiny chapel upon the extremest
water’s edge near Rütli. Its foundations are built into the rock upon
which the patriot sprang from Gessler’s boat. The present shrine
belongs probably to the sixteenth century, but the original chapel was
consecrated,—declare the annalists of the country, and the English
translator of Schiller,—when men who had seen and known Tell were alive
and present at the ceremony. An altar stands within the recess—it is
only that. The front is arched and pillared, and the steps are washed
by the wake of each passing steamer. A great Thanksgiving Mass for
Swiss liberty is performed here once in the year, attended by a vast
concourse of people in gaily-decorated boats. There is not room on the
shelving shore for a congregation.

Altorf is a clean Swiss village where the window-curtains are all
white, and most of the casements gay with flowers, and where the
children, clean, too, but generally bare-legged and bare-headed, turn
out in a body to gather around the strangers who stop to look at the
monument. A very undignified memorial it is of the valiant Liberator.
A big, burly plaster statue of the father, erected on the ground where
Tell stood to shoot at the apple, brandishes the reserved arrow in
the face of an imaginary bailiff. “With which I meant to kill you had
I hurt my son!” says the inscription on the pedestal. The lime-tree
to which the boy Albert was tied to be shot at was one hundred and
forty-seven measured paces away. A fountain is there now, adorned by
the statue of the magistrate who gave it to the town. Upon the sides of
a tower that antedates Tell’s day, are faded frescoes, commemorating
the apple-shot, his jump from the rocking boat and Gessler’s death.
The Swiss are not enthusiastic idealists. They believe—very much—in a
veritable Tell, preserve with jealous and reverential affection all
traces of his existence and national services.

Our first ascent of the Rigi was made in company with two of our
American “boys,” college-mates who had “run over” to pass a three
months’ vacation upon “the other side.” Letters announcing this
intention had been sent to us from home, and a later missive from
London, containing a copy of their “itinerary,” repeated the invitation
to join them at the steamboat landing in Lucerne, July 23d, 4.10 p.m.
for a sail up the lake and a night on the Rigi.

“But how very-very extror’nary! Quite American in point of fact!”
ejaculated an English lady, to whom I spoke at the lunch-table of our
intended excursion. “When you have heard nothing from them in three
weeks! They may have altered their plans entirely. You will not meet
them, you may be sure.”

I smiled confidently. “The engagement is of six weeks’ standing. They
will keep it, or we should have had a telegram.”

The steamboat touched at our side of the lake for passengers and I got
on there, while Caput, who had an errand in the town, walked around
by the iron bridge. I watched him cross it; noted what we had cause,
afterward, to recollect,—the white radiations from the stone pavement
that forms the flooring of the long causeway, and that the deck was hot
to my feet.

“The intensest sun-blaze I have ever felt!” he said, coming aboard at
the railway terminus. “Strangely sickening too! It made the brain reel!”

The train was puffing into the station. Among the earliest to step on
the gangway were two bronzed youths on whose beards no foreign razor
had fallen. Each carried a small satchel and had no other luggage or
_impedimenta_ incompatible with a quick “run.” New Yorkers going out to
Newark or Trenton to pass the night with friends would have evinced as
much sense of strangeness.

“We planned everything before sailing from home,” they said when we
commended their punctuality “Lucerne and the Rigi were written down for
to-day.”

They had never seen Lucerne before, but they had “studied it up” and
were at home on the lake so soon as they got the points of the compass
and we had swung loose from the pier. They would return with us to the
town on the morrow and spend a day in seeing it. Including the Lion,
of course, and the Glacial Garden and the old covered bridge with the
queer paintings of the Dance of Death. And hear the grand organ in the
Stifts-Kirche at vespers. The city-walls were better-preserved than
they had imagined they would be. The nine watch-towers—where were they?
They could count but six. They were on the lookout for the four arms
that make the lake cruciform and traced them before we could designate
them. Was that old tower in the rear of the handsome château over there
the famous Castle of Hapsburg? Pilatus they recognized at a glance, and
the different expression of his shore from the cheerful beauty of the
Lucerne side, the pleasant town and the rising background of groves and
fields, gardens and orchards. Vitznau? Were we there so soon? The sail
had been to the full as charming as they had anticipated.

All this was, as the English lady had said, “quite American.” To
us, used for many months to alternate _douches_ of British _nil
admirai-ism_ and hot baths of Italian and French exaggeration of
enthusiasm, the clear, methodical scheme of travel, the intelligent
appreciation of all that met the eye, the frank, yet not effusive
enjoyment of a holiday, well-earned and worthily-spent, were as
refreshing as a dipper of cool water from the homestead spring would
have been on that “blazing” day.

If we had never gone up the Mount Washington Railway, the ascent of
the Rigi would have been exciting. The cars are less comfortable
than those on the New Hampshire mountain, and the passengers all
ride up backward, for the better enjoyment of the view,—a miserable
arrangement for people of weak stomachs and heads. Mt. Washington had
been a thrilling terror that fascinated me as did ghost-stories in my
childhood. The Rigi is a series of gentle inclines with but one span
of trestle-work that could have scared the most indefatigably-timid
woman. But Mt. Washington offers no such prospect as was unfolded for
us in wider and more wondrous beauty with each minute. The sun was
setting when, instead of entering the Hotel Rigi-Kulm where our rooms
had been engaged by telegraph from Lucerne, we walked out upon the
plateau on which the house stands. Against the southwestern horizon
lay the Schreckhörner, Finsteraarhorn, and—fairest of “maidens,”—the
Jungfrau,—faint blushes flickering through the white veils they have
worn since the fall of the primeval snow. On the south-east the
Bristenstock, Windgelle, Ober-Alp, and a score of minor mounts, unknown
to us by name, caught and repeated the reflected fires of the sunset.
The air was perfectly still, and the distances so clear as to bring
out the lines of heights like penciled curves, that are seldom seen
even from an outlook embracing an area of three hundred miles. “Alps
on Alps!” Mountain rising behind and overtopping mountain, until the
sublime succession melted into the outlined curves just mentioned. In
the direction of Lucerne, stretched right beneath us what seemed a
level, checkered expanse of farms, groves and villages, lighted, once
in a while, by the gleam of a lake (we counted ten without stirring or
turning from where we stood) and intersected by an hundred streams. The
twilight was gathering upon the plain. When the light had died out from
lake and river, we stood in the sunshine, and the snow-summits were
deepening into crimson. The air was chill, but we lingered to show our
friends the “Alpen-glow,”—to us a daily-renewed and lovely mystery.
The lowlands were wrapped in night; the ruddied snows paled into
pink,—ashes-of-roses,—dead white. The West was pallid and still. The
day had waned and died, blankly and utterly. When, suddenly, from peak
to peak, glowed soft flame,—a flush of exquisite rose-color, quivering
like wind-blown fire, yet, lasting a whole minute by my watch, ere it
trembled again into dead whiteness. Another minute, and the phenomenon
recurred, but less vividly. It was a blush that rose and blenched as
with a breath slowly drawn and exhaled. One could not but fancy that
the white-breasted mountains heaved and fell with the glow in long
sighs, before sinking and darkening into slumber.

“It is really night now!” Caput broke the silence. “We will go in.
But it was worth staying to see, though one had witnessed the like a
thousand times.”

We came out again after an excellent dinner, but the wind had risen,
the night was piercingly cold, and we were driven into our beds. By
nine o’clock there was nowhere else to go. The lights were extinguished
in the _salon_ and main halls, and bed-room fires had not been thought
of. The only suggestion of comfort was in the single beds heaped higher
than they were broad with blankets and _duvets_. The window at the foot
of my couch was unshuttered. Sleep was slow in coming, while the wind
thundered like rock-beaten surf against the house, threatened to burst
the rattling casements.

I pulled another pillow under my head, and had a picture before me that
made me revel in wakefulness. The moon was up and near the full. The
horizon was girdled with effulgence, sparkling, chaste—inconceivable.
The valleys were gulfs of purple dusks; the forest-slopes black as
death. I could discern the glitter of granitic cliffs, and upon
inferior hills, the sheen of snow-banks left in sunless hollows. Had
my eyes been sealed, I should have pronounced it a tempestuous night.
Could I have closed my ears, the divinest calm had brooded upon the
world enclosed within the white mountains.

“The strength of the hills is His also!” The strength of these heights!
Serenity of power! The perfectness of Peace!

I did not mean to sleep. There would be other nights,—and days—if I
chose to take them—for that. But the bugle-call at half-past three
startled me from slumber in which moonlight and mountains were
forgotten as though they were not. The snow-tops were dimmer in the
dawn than they were under the high moon, the sky behind them dun and
sullen. Guests are forbidden by English, French and German placards to
“take the blankets from their beds.” The wisdom of the prohibition was
palpable to all who assembled upon the plateau to see the sun-rise.
The wind was still furious, the morning colder than the night, and, I
think, not ten people out of the forty or fifty shiverers present had
made a regular toilette. Ladies had thrown on double flannel wrappers,
and tied up their heads in hoods and scarfs. Gentlemen had donned
dressing-gowns, and some had come forth in slippered haste. All wore
cumbrous shawls, waterproof cloaks and railway rugs. One half-frozen
Frenchman was enveloped in a strip of bed-side carpet brought from his
chamber. A more serious annoyance than cold or gale, was the dust,
raised by the latter,—or more correctly speaking, minute grains of
attrite granite that offended eyes and nostrils. I had dressed snugly
and warmly, and tied a thick veil over my face and ears, but the wind
tore viciously at my wraps, and the pulverized particles sifted through
the net until I could scarcely breathe, even by turning my back upon
it, while my three cavaliers formed a close guard between me and the
hurricane. We could not forget discomfort, but we disregarded it when
we had cleared our eyes from the stinging sand.

The lower landscape was still in shadow, the mountains wrapped
in bluish-gray indistinctness. Presently, warm glows of color
suffused the dun vapors of the lower heavens,—saffron and rose and
carmine;—quivering arrows of amber light shot upward and outward
from an unseen center below the horizon verge,—and, one by one, as
beacons respond to the flash of the signal-fire, the loftiest tips of
Finsteraarhorn, Schreckhörner, Wetterhorn, the Monch, the Eiger—the
Jungfrau—flamed up above the mists. Floods of changeful lights rolled
down upon the lesser hills, revealing peak, chasm and valley; pouring,
finally, a benign deluge over the plain. It was not a swift, capricious
darting of rays hither and yon, but a gradual growth of the power
of the light into a fullness of occupation. The sun came in calm
stateliness out of his chamber in the east, and the world was awake.

Early as it was, women and boys were threading the crowd with
chamois-horn paper-cutters and knobby bunches of dirty Edelweiss and
Alpine roses for sale at Rigi-Kulm—(or tip-top) prices. An Englishman,
in an Indian-pattern dressing-gown, a smoking-cap bound over his ears
with a Madras handkerchief,—swore roughly at them collectively, and at
one poor hag in particular, as she offered the shabby bouquet.

“Picked but yesterday, milor’, from the edge of a glacier.
Milor’ knows—”with a ghastly smirk—“that the Edelweiss is the
betrothal-flower?”

He may have understood the wretched _patois_ of Swiss-German-French. He
probably comprehended nothing except that she wanted him to buy what
he styled, not inaptly—“filthy rubbish.” But he would have sworn as
vehemently in either case, for the wind had tangled him up badly in his
voluminous skirts, and while striving to disengage his calves with one
hand he held on to his cap—possibly to his peruke—with the other.

“Monsieur!” implored the woman, lifting the flowers to the face of that
one of “our boys” nearest me.

He shook his head with a smile,—being American, and a gentleman—gave a
look at her pinched visage and poor garments, and his hand moved toward
his pocket.

“I don’t want them, you know!” to me. “But—” another merciful glance.

“_Combien?_” I said to the woman.

She had, in my hearing, asked the Anglo-Indian to give her half a franc
for the bunch.

She now protested that the three Edelweiss were cheap at five sous
(cents) each, and the three Alpine roses should go as a bargain to “_le
beau Monsieur_” at three cents a piece.

“You are a cheat—and a very foolish one!” I said. To my young
friend—“American sympathy is a marketable commodity over here. Only, he
who gives it, pays in current coin her who receives it.”



CHAPTER XXVII.

_Personal and Practical._


I HAVE alluded to the intense blaze of the sun upon the day of our
tryst with the newly-arrived travelers. Until then we had not suffered
from heat in Switzerland. Our _pension_ was a stone building, with
spacious, high-ceiled rooms, in which the breeze from lake and icy
mountains was ever astir, and we were rarely abroad excepting at
morning and evening.

On our way home the next afternoon, after a delightful sail to Fluelen
and back, and a visit to Altorf, we met Boy and nurse at the gate of
the public park where he and I went daily for the “milk-cure.” Three
or four cows and twice as many goats were driven into the enclosure at
five o’clock and tethered at the door of a rustic pavilion. There they
were milked, and invalids and children drank the liquid warm from great
tumblers like beer-glasses. Goats’ milk had been prescribed for me, and
I could endure the taste when it was fresh. When cold, the flavor was
peculiar and unpleasant. Boy usually relished his deep draught of cows’
milk, but to-day he would not touch it. He had a grievance, too, that
had tried temper and pride.

“Things bother me so, mamma! The people here are so foolish! A woman
had some fruit to sell down there by the Schweizerhof and said a long
nonsense to me. I said—‘_Non capisco Tedeseo!_’ and everybody laughed.
It’s good Italian, and means—‘I don’t understand a word of your horrid
old Dutch!’”

He began to sob. Papa picked him up and carried him to our carriage.
When we were in our rooms, the Invaluable had her story to tell. Boy
had taken a long walk with his sister in the forenoon and had come
home complaining of headache and violent nausea. Seeming better toward
evening, he had insisted upon going for his milk, and she had hoped the
cooler air would refresh him.

“I want to go back where people have sense and can understand me!”
moaned the little fellow. “I’m not a bit sick! I’m _discouraged_!”

The fever ran high all night. The following day we summoned Dr.
Steiger, the best physician in Lucerne. There are few better anywhere.
For the next fortnight—the saddest of our exile—his visits were the
brightest gleams in the chamber shadowed by such wild fears as we
hardly dared avow to one another. Cheerful, intelligent, kindly, the
doctor would have been welcome had his treatment of our stricken child
been less manifestly skillful.

“He is a sick boy. But you are brave?” looking around at us from his
seat at the pillow of the delirious patient. “I will tell you the
truth. He has had a _coup de soleil_. He is likely to have a long
fever. It is not typhoid yet, but it may be, by and by. Strangers
unused to the sun in Switzerland are often seriously affected by it.
When he gets well, you will be careful of him for one, two, three
years. Now—we will do our best for him. I have four boys of my own.
And—”a quick glance at me—“I know what is the mother’s heart!”

I would not review, even in thought, the three weeks succeeding this
decision, were it not that I cannot bring myself to withhold the
tribute of grateful hearts—then so heavy! to the abundant goodness
of the stranger-physician whose name we had never heard until our
boy’s illness, and to the sympathy and active kindness that were
our portion from every boarder in a house filled with English and
Americans. Jellies, ices, fruit, flowers, toys, were handed in at Boy’s
door, with tender inquiries, from hour to hour, as to his condition.
Music-loving girls who had scarcely left the piano silent for fifteen
minutes during the day and evening, now closed it lest the sufferer
should be disturbed by the sound, his chamber being directly over the
_salon_. Every foot trod softly upon the polished floor of the upper
hall and the stairs, and offers of personal service were as earnest and
frequent as if we had dwelt among our own people. I write it down with
a swelling heart that presses the tears to my eyes. For Heaven knows
how sore was our need of friendly offices and Good Samaritans at that
juncture! The house was handsome, well-furnished and kept beautifully
clean. Well people fared comfortably enough. But, for sickness we
found, as we had everywhere else—notably at Cadenabbia—no provision
whatever, and with regard to dietetic cookery, depths of ignorance that
confounded us.

I could not for money—much less for love or pity’s sake—get a cup of
gruel or beef-tea made in the kitchen. When Boy was convalescent and
his life depended upon the judicious administration of nourishment, I
tried to have some oatmeal porridge cooked, according to directions,
below stairs, paying well for the privilege. There were two pounds of
oatmeal in the package. I ordered half-a-cupful to be boiled a long
time in a given quantity of water, stirred up often from the bottom and
slightly salted. The cook—a professed _cordon bleu_—cooked it all at
once and sent it up in a prodigious tureen,—a gallon of soft, grayish
paste, seasoned with pepper, salt, lemon-peel and chopped garlic!

I did give the landlady credit for an inexplicable fit of motherly
kindness when, at length, fish and birds, nicely broiled, came up,
every day or two, to brighten the pale little face laid against the
cushions of his lounge; thanked her for them heartily and with emotion.

“It is not’ing!” she said, beaming (as when was she not?) “I only wis’
to know dat de beautiful child ees better. I t’ought he could taste de
feesh.”

I was grateful and unsuspicious for a week, recanting, repentantly,
the hard things I had said of continental human nature, and admitting
Madame to the honorable list of exceptions, headed—far above hers—by
Dr. Steiger’s name. Then, chancing to come down-stairs one day, shod
with the “shoes of silence” I wore in the sick-room, I trod upon the
heels of a handsome young Englishman, almost a stranger to me, who
was spending the honeymoon with his bride in Switzerland. He had been
three weeks in this house, and we had not exchanged ten sentences with
him or his wife. He stood now in the hall, his back toward me, in
close conference with Madame, our hostess. He was in sporting-costume,
fishing-rod on shoulder. Madame held a fine fish, just caught, and was
receiving his instructions delivered in excellent French:

“You will see that it is broiled—with care—you know, and sent, as you
have done the others, to the little sick boy in No. 10. And this is for
the cook!”

There was the chink of coin. The cook! whom I had feed generously and
regularly for preparing the game and fish so acceptable to my child!

I stepped forward. “It is you, then, Mr. N——, whom I should thank!”
with a two-edged glance that meant confusion to Madame, acknowledgment
and apology to the real benefactor.

The young Briton blushed as if detected in a crime. Madame smiled,
without blushing, and bustled off to the kitchen.

Happily, Americans are not without “contrivances” even on the
Continent. A summary of ours while the fever-patient needed delicate
food such as American nurses and mothers love to prepare, may be useful
to other wayfarers on the “road to Jericho.” We carried our spirit-lamp
and kettle with us everywhere. Besides these, I bought a small tin
saucepan with a cover and a tin plate; made a gridiron of a piece of
stout wire, and set up a hospital kitchen in one of our rooms at an
open window that took smoke and odor out of the way. Here, for a month,
we made beef-tea, broiled birds and steak and chops—the meat bought
by ourselves in the town; cooked omelettes, gruel, arrowroot jelly,
custards, and boiled the water for our “afternoon tea.” Cream-toast
was another culinary success, but the bread was toasted down-stairs by
the Invaluable when she could get—as she phrased it—“a chance at the
kitchen-fire.” Cream and butter were heated in the covered tin-cup over
our lamp.

For fifteen days, the fever ran without intermission, sometimes so
fiercely that the brain raged into frenzied wanderings; for three
weeks, our Swiss doctor came morning, afternoon or evening—sometimes
all three; for a month, our boy was a prisoner to his own room, and
we attended upon his convalescence before daring to strike camp and
move northward into Germany. And all in consequence of that long walk,
without shade of trees or umbrella, under the treacherous Swiss sun! We
had had our lesson. I pass it on to those who may be willing to profit
thereby.

But for this unfortunate break in our plans we would have had a happy
month in Lucerne. We could not stir out of doors without meeting
friends from over the sea, and, every day, cards, inscribed with
familiar names, were brought in to us. All the American traveling-world
goes to the Swiss lakes and crosses the Passes in the short summer.
Lucerne is picturesque in itself and environs. The lake ranks next to
Como in beauty; the drives and walks in and about it are attractive in
scenery and associations. Of the healthfulness of those portions of the
town lying along the quay we had grave doubts. The cellars are flooded
after every heavy rain, and copious rains are a feature of the climate.
Our morning walk for our letters lay past one of the largest hotels,
patronized extensively by English and Americans. A rainy night or day
was sure to be followed by an opening of the rear basement windows,
and a pumping into the gutter of hogsheads of muddy water. The rapid
evaporation of the surplus moisture under the mid-day heats must have
filled the atmosphere with noxious exhalations.

The evening-scene on the quay was brilliant. Hundreds of strollers
thronged the broad walks beneath the trees; the great fountain threw
a column of spray fifty feet into the air. A fine band played until
ten o’clock before the Hôtel National; pleasure-boats shot to and fro
upon the water; the lamps of the long bridge sparkled—a double row—in
the glassy depths. Upon certain evenings, the Lion held levees, being
illuminated by colored lights thrown upon the massive limbs that seemed
to quiver under their play, and upon the roll of honor of those who
died for their queen and for their oath’s sake.

Lucerne is very German in tongue and character—a marked and unpleasant
change to those who enter Switzerland from the Italian side. Ears used
to the flowing numbers of the most musical language spoken by man, are
positively pained by the harsh jargon that responds to his effort to
make himself intelligible. The English and French of the shopkeepers
and waiters, being filtered through the same foul medium, is equally
detestable. Our friend, Dr. Steiger, spoke all three languages well
and with a scholarly intelligence that made his English a model
of conciseness and perspicuity. Our experiences and difficulties
with other of the native residents would make a long chapter of
cross-purposes.

Three times a week the fruit-market is held in the arcades of the old
town. One reaches them by crooked streets and flights of stone steps,
beginning in obscure corners and zigzagging down to the green Reuss,
swirling under its bridges and foaming past the light-house tower to
its confluence with the Lake. The summer fruits were, to our ideas, an
incongruous array. Strawberries—the small, dark-red “Alpine,” conical
in shape, spicily sweet in flavor; raspberries, white, scarlet and
yellow; green and purple figs; nectarines; plums in great variety and
abundance; apples, peaches and pears; English medlars and gooseberries;
Italian _nespoli_ and early grapes were a tempting variety. We had
begun to eat strawberries in April in Rome. We had them on our
dessert-table in Geneva in November.

The second time I went to the fruit-market, I took Prima as
interpreter. The peasant-hucksters were obtuse to the pantomime I had
practised successfully with the Italians. The shine of coin in the
left palm while the right hand designated fruit and weight—everything
being sold from the scales—elicited only a stolid stare and gruff
“_Nein_,” the intonation of which was the acme of dull indifference.
Thick of tongue and slow of wit, they cared as little for what we
said as for what we were. Intelligence and curiosity may not always
go hand-in-hand, but where both are absent, what the Yankees call “a
trade,” is a disheartening enterprise. Having at my side a young
lady who “knew” German, I advanced boldly into the aisle between the
stalls of the sellers, and said—“Ask this woman the price of those
gooseberries.” Big, red and hairy as Esau, they were a lure to American
eyes and palates. Prima put the question with a glibness truly pleasing
to the maternal heart, however the gutturals might grate upon the ear.
The vender’s countenance did not light up, but she answered readily, if
monotonously. Prima stared at her, disconcerted.

“What does she say? That is not German!”

Italian and French were tried. The woman gazed heavily at the
Wasserthurm, the quaint tower rising from the middle of the river near
the covered bridge of the Capelbrücke, and remained as unmoved as that
antique land-mark.

“This has ceased to be amusing!” struck in Caput, imperatively, and
turning about, made proclamation in the market-place—“Is there nobody
here who can _speak English_?”

A little man peeped from a door behind the stall. “I can!”

The two monosyllables were the “Open Sesame” to the fruity wealth that
had been Tantalus apples and a Barmecide banquet and whatever else
typifies unfulfilled desire to us, up to the moment of his appearing.

“How odd that the woman should understand me when I did not comprehend
a word _she_ said!” meditated our discomfited interpreter, aloud.

The enigma was solved at lunch, where the story was told and the
ridiculous element made the most of. A pretty little Russian lady
was my _vis-à-vis_. The Russians we met abroad were, almost without
exception, accomplished linguists. They are compelled they say,
jestingly, to learn the tongues of other peoples, since few have the
courage and patience to master theirs. My neighbor’s English caused us
to fall in love with our own language. Her speech with her children was
in French, and she conversed with German gentlemen at the table with
equal facility.

“Your daughter is quite correct in her description of the Lucerne
dialect,” she said, rounding each syllable with slow grace that was
not punctiliousness. “It is a vile mongrel of which the inhabitants
may well be ashamed. I have much difficulty in comprehending their
simplest phrases, and I lived in Germany five years. The Germans would
disown the _patois_. It is a provincial composite. The better classes
understand, but will not speak it.”

I take occasion to say here, having enumerated the summer-delicacies
offered for sale in the Lucerne market, that those of our countrypeople
who visit Europe with the hope of feasting upon such products of
orchard and garden as they leave behind them, are doomed to sore
disappointment. Years ago, I heard Dr. E. D. G. Prime of the “_New York
Observer_,” in his delightful lecture, “All Around the World,” assert
that “the finest fruit-market upon the globe is New York City.” We
smiled incredulously, thinking of East Indian pine-apples and mangoes,
Seville oranges and Smyrna grapes. We came home from our briefer
pilgrimage, wiser, and thankfully content. We murmured, not marveled
at the pitiful display of open-air fruit in England, remembering the
Frenchman’s declaration that _baked_ apples were the only ripe fruit
he had tasted in that cloudy isle. Plums and apricots there are of
fair quality, the trees being trained upon sunny walls, but the prices
of these are moderate only by contrast with those demanded for other
things. Peaches are sixpence—(twelve-and-a-half cents) _each_. Grapes
are reared almost entirely in hot-houses, and sell in Covent Garden
market at two and three dollars a pound. Pears, comparable to the
Bartlett, Seckel or Flemish Beauty are nowhere to be had, and, in the
same celebrated market of fruit and flowers, “American apples” were
pressed upon us as the finest, and, therefore, costliest of their
kind. Gooseberries are plentiful and quite cheap, as are cherries
and currants. Pine-apples in England—“pines”—bring a guinea or a
half-guinea apiece, being also, hot-house products.

“Do the poor eat no fruit?” I asked our Leamington fruiterer, an
intelligent man whose wares were choice and varied—for that latitude.

“They are permitted to pick blackberries and sloes in the edges. Of
course, pines and peaches are forbidden luxuries to people in their
station.”

He might have added—“And plums at two cents, apricots at four, pears at
five cents apiece, and strawberries”—charged against us by our landlady
at half-a-dollar per quart in the height of the season. Tomatoes ranged
from six to twelve cents _apiece_! asparagus was scarce and frightfully
dear; green peas, as a spring luxury, were likewise intended for rich
men’s tables. For Indian corn, sweet potatoes, egg-plants, Lima and
string-beans, summer squash and salsify we inquired in vain. Nor had
any English people to whom we named these ever seen them in their
country. Many had never so much as heard that such things were, and
asked superciliously—“And are they really tolerable—eatable, you know?”

Our English boarders in Lucerne smiled, indulgent of our national
peculiarities,—but very broadly—at seeing us one day at the
_pension_-table, eat raw tomatoes as salad, with oil, vinegar, pepper
and salt. They were set in the centre of the board as a part of the
dessert, but our instructions to the waiters broke up the order of
their serving. Madame and daughters confessed, afterward, that they
were not certain where they belonged, but had heard that Americans
liked tomatoes, and so procured them.

Matters mended, in these respects, as we moved southward. When the
weather is too hot, and the climate too unwholesome for foreigners
to tarry in Southern France and Italy, the natives revel in berries,
peaches and melons. We ate delicious grapes in Florence as late as
the first of December, and a few in Rome. By New Year’s Day, not a
bunch of fresh ones was exhibited in shops, at this time, filled with
sour oranges, sweet, aromatic _mandarini_, mediocre apples and drying
_nespoli_ and medlars. The _nespoli_, let me remark, is a hybrid
between the date and plum, with an added cross of the persimmon.
Indeed, it resembles this last in color and shape, also, in the
acerbity that mingles with the acid of the unripe fruit. When fully
matured they are very good, when partially dried, not unlike dates in
appearance and flavor. Medlars are popular in England, and in request
in Paris. To us, they were from first to last, disagreeable. To be
candid, the taste and texture of the pulp were precisely those of
rotten apples. We thought them decayed, until told that they were only
fully ripe. In these circumstances how tantalizing were reminiscences
of Newtown and Albemarle pippins, of Northern Spy and Seek-no-further!
We could have sat us down on the pavement of the Piazza di Spagna,
and, hidden by mountains of intolerably tart oranges, plained as did
the mixed multitude at Taberah, that our souls were dried away in
remembering the winter luxuries of which we did eat freely in our own
land; the Catawba, Isabella and Diana grapes, close packed in purple
layers in neat boxes for family use, late pears and all-the-year-round
sweet oranges; plump, paly-green Malaga and amethyst Lisbon grapes,
retailed at thirty and twenty-five cents per pound. Were we not now
upon the same side of the ocean with Lisbon and Malaga? It was nearly
impossible to credit the scarcity of these sun bright lands in what we
had so long received and enjoyed as everyday mercies to people of very
moderate means.

As to bananas, we did not see a dozen in two years. I did not taste one
in all that time. Desiccated tomatoes and mushrooms are sold in Italian
cities by the string. Canned vegetables are an American “notion.”
Brown, in the Via della Croce in Rome, had fresh oysters—American—for
eighty cents a can. As the daintiest canned peas and the useful
_champignons_ are imported by United States grocers direct from
France, it was odd that we could not have them, for the asking, in
Switzerland and Italy. Esculents for salad grow there out of doors all
winter, including several varieties not cultivated with us. Potatoes,
spinach, rice, celery,—cooked and raw—onions, cabbage, cauliflower,
macaroni, a root known as “dog-fennel,” and,—leading them all in
the frequency of its appearing, but not, to most people’s taste, in
excellence,—artichokes—are the vegetable bill-of-fare. If there are
eight courses at dinner, the probability is that but two of them will
be vegetables. An eight-course dinner on the Continent may be a very
plain affair, important as it sounds, and the diner-out be hardly able
to satisfy a healthy appetite ‘though he partake of each dish. Soup is
the first course;—sometimes, nourishing and palatable,—as often, thin
and poor. Fish succeeds. If it be salmon, whitebait, whitings, soles or
fresh sardines, it is usually good. But, beyond Paris, we were rarely
served on the Continent with any of these, except the last-named, that
could be truthfully called, “fresh.” The sardines of Naples and Venice,
just from the water, are simply delicious.

Meat comes next—a substantial dish, and an _entrée_ of some sort. These
are separated by a course consisting of a single vegetable, potatoes
or stewed celery or macaroni _au gratin_, or, perhaps, cauliflower with
_sauce tartare_. Another vegetable precedes the first meat-course.
Salad follows the second. Then, we have pastry or some other sweet,
and dessert, meaning fruit, nuts and _bon-bons_. Finally, coffee. The
dinner is _à la Russe_, no dishes being set upon the table, excepting
the dessert. The carving is done in another room and the guests are not
tempted to gluttony by the amount served to each.

“If they would only give me a potato with my boiled fish!” lamented
an American to me, once. “Or serve the green peas with the lamb!
And mutton-chops and tomato-sauce are as naturally conjoined in the
educated mind as the English _q_ and _u_!”

On the Continent the exception to the rule he objurgated is the serving
of chicken and salad—lettuce, endive or chervil,—together upon a _hot_
plate. The vinegar and oil cool the chicken. The heated plate wilts
and toughens the salad. Common sense might have foretold the result.
But chicken-and-salad continue to hold their rank in the culinary
succession, and are eaten without protest by those who are loudest in
ridicule and condemnation of transatlantic solecisms.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

_Home-life in Geneva—Ferney._


OUR German experiences, sadly curtailed as to time by Boy’s sickness,
scarcely deserve the title of “loiterings.” We passed two days in
Strasburg; as many in Baden-Baden, a day and night at Schaffhausen; a
week in Heidelberg; a few hours at Basle, etc., etc., too much in the
style of the conventional tourist to accord with our tastes or habits.
At Heidelberg our forces were swelled by the addition of another family
party, nearly allied to ours in blood and affection. There, we entered
upon a three weeks’ tour, a pleasant progress that had no mishap or
interruption until we re-crossed the Alps into Switzerland, this time
by the Brünig Pass, traveling as we had done over the St. Gothard,
_en famille_, but in two _diligences_, instead of one, taking in
Interlaken, The Staubbach, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, the Wengernalp,
Freiburg, Bern and a host of other notable places and scenes, and
brought up, in tolerable order, if somewhat travel-worn, at ten o’clock
one September night, in Geneva.

We were to disband here; one family returning to Germany; Miss M——
going on to Paris; ourselves intending to winter again in Italy. I had
enjoyed our month of swift and varied travel the more for the continual
consciousness of the increase of health and strength that enabled me
to perform it. But I had taken cold somewhere. The old cough and pain
possessed me, and for these, said men medical and non-medical, Geneva
was the worst place one could select in autumn or winter. The _bise_,
a strong, cold, west wind, blows there five days out of seven; for
weeks the sun is not visible for the fog; rain-storms are frequent
and severe, and the atmosphere is always chilled by the belt of
snow-mountains. This was the meteorological record of the bright little
city, supplied by those who should have known of that whereof they
spoke.

For three days after our arrival, it sustained this reputation. The
_bise_ blew hard and incessantly, filling the air with dust-clouds and
beating the lake into an angry sea that flung its waves clear across
the Pont du Mont Blanc, the wide, handsome bridge, uniting the two
halves of the city. I sat by the fire and coughed, furtively. Caput
looked gravely resolute and wrote letters to Florence and Rome. Then,
Euroclydon—or _Bise_,—subsided into calm and sunshine, and we sallied
forth, as do bees on early spring-days, to inspect the town—“the
richest and most popular in Switzerland.” (Vide Baedeker.)

The air was still cool, as was natural in the last week of September,
but as exhilarating as iced champagne. Respiration became suddenly
easy, and motion, impulse, not duty. We walked up the _Quai Eaux
Vives_ to the first breakwater that checks the too-heavy roll of the
waves in stormy weather; watched the wondrous, witching sheen of
ultramarine and emerald and pearly bands upon the blue lake; down
the broad quay by the English Gardens, through streets of maddening
shop-windows, a brilliant display of all that most surely coaxes money
from women’s pockets;—jewelry, mosaics, laces, carvings in wood and
in ivory, photographs, music-boxes,—a distracting medley, showed to
best advantage by the crystalline atmosphere. We crossed to Rousseau’s
Island in the middle of the lake by a short chain-bridge attaching it
to the _Pont des Bergues_, and fed the swans who live, eat and sleep
upon the water; marked the point where the Rhone shoots in arrowy
flight from the crescent-shaped lake to its marriage with the slower
Arve below the city. Thence, we wound by way of the Corraterie, a
busy street, formerly a fosse, to the Botanical Gardens; skirted the
Bastions from which the Savoyards were thrown headlong at the midnight
surprise of the “Escalade,”—and were in the “Old Town.” This is an
enchanting tangle of narrow, excursive streets, going up and down by
irregular flights of stone steps; of antique houses with bulging upper
stories and hanging balconies and archways, and courts with fountains
where women come to draw water and stay to gossip and look picturesque,
in dark, full skirts, red boddices and snowy caps. We passed between
the National Cathedral of St. Pierre and the plain church where Père
Hyacinthe preached every Sabbath to crowds who admired his eloquence
and had no sympathy with his chimerical Reformed Catholicism; along
more steep streets into a newer quarter, built up with handsome
mansions,—across an open space, climbed a long staircase and were upon
the hill on which stands the new Russian Church.

It is a diminutive fabric, made the most of by a gilded dome and four
gilt minarets, and by virtue of its situation, contrives to look twice
as big as it is, and almost half as large as the old Cathedral which
dates from 1024.

Geneva was below us, and diverging from it in every direction, like
veins from a heart, were series of villas, châteaux and humbler homes,
separated and environed by groves, pleasure-grounds and hedge-rows. The
laughing lake, which seldom wears the same expression for an hour at a
time, was dotted with boats that had not ventured out of harbor while
the wind-storm prevailed. Most of these carried the pretty lateen sail.
The illusion of these “goose-winged” barques is perfect and beautiful,
especially when a gentle swell of the waves imparts to them the
flutter of birds just dipping into, or rising from the surface;—birds
statelier than the swans, more airy than the grebe circling above and
settling down upon the _Pierres du Niton_. These are two flat boulders
near the shore whereon tradition says Julius Cæsar once sacrificed to
Neptune,—probably to propitiate the genius of the _bise_. Across the
water and the strip of level country, a few miles in breadth, were the
Juras, older than the Alps, but inferior in grandeur, their crests
already powdered with snow. On our side of the lake behind town and
ambitious little church,—outlying _campagnes_ (country-seats) and
dozens of villages, arose the dark, horizontal front of the Saléve. It
is the barrier that excludes from Geneva the view of the chain of Alps
visible from its summit. Mont Blanc overtops it, and, to the left of
its gleaming dome, the _Aiguilles du Midi_ pierce the sky. Others of
the “Mont Blanc Group” succeed, carrying on the royal line as far as
the unaided eye can reach. Between these and the city rises the Mole, a
rugged pyramid projecting boldly from the plain.

Chamouny, the Mer de Glace, Martigny, Lausanne, Vevay, Chillon, Coppet,
Ferney! To all these Geneva was the key. And in itself it was so fair!

We talked less confidently of Italian journeyings, as we descended
the hill; more doubtfully with each day of fine weather and
rapidly-returning strength. Still, we had no definite purpose of
wintering in Geneva, contrary to the advice of physicians and friends.
It was less by our own free will than in consequence of a chain
of coincident events, which would be tedious in the telling, that
December saw us, somewhat to our astonishment, settled in the “Pension
Magnenat,” studying and working as systematically as if Italy were
three thousand watery miles away.

That a benignant Providence detained us six months in this place we
recognize cheerfully and thankfully. I question if Life has in reserve
for us another half-year as care-free and as evenly happy. There are
those who rate Geneva as “insufferably slow;” the “stupidest town on
the Continent,” “devoid of society except a _mélée_ of Arabs, or the
stiffest of exclusive cliques.” Our American “clique” may have been
exceptionally congenial that year, but it supplied all we craved, or
had leisure to enjoy of social intercourse. Foreigners who remain there
after the middle of December, do so with an object. The facilities for
instruction in languages, music and painting are excellent. Lectures,
scientific and literary, are given throughout the season by University
professors and other _savans_. The prices of board and lessons are
moderate, and—an important consideration with us and other families of
like views and habits—Sabbath-school and church were easy of access and
well-conducted.

There were no “crush” parties, and had they been held nightly, our
young people were too busy with better things to attend them. But
what with music and painting-classes; German and French “evenings;”
reading-clubs in the English classics; the “five o’clock tea” served
every afternoon in our _salon_ for all who would come, and of which
we never partook alone; what with Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas
merry-making, when our rooms were bowers of holly and such luxuriant
mistletoe as we have never seen elsewhere; with New Year Reception and
birth-day “surprise;” daily walks in company, and, occasionally a good
concert, our happy-family-hood grew and flourished until each accepted
his share in it as the shelter of his own vine and fig-tree. We were a
lively coterie, even without the _divertissements_ of the parties of
pleasure we got up among ourselves to Coppet, Ferney, Chillon and the
Saléve. Shall we ever again have such pic-nics as those we made to the
top of the Grand Saléve—our observatory-mountain, driving out to the
base in strong, open wagons, then ascending on foot or on donkeys?

There are those who will read this page with smiles chastened by tender
thoughts of vanished joys, as one by one, the salient features of those
holiday excursions recur to mind. Donkeys that would not go, and others
that would not stop. The insensate oaf of a driver who walked far ahead
of the straggling procession and paid no attention to the calls of
bewildered women. The volunteer squad of the stronger sex who strode
between the riders and the precipice, and beat back the beasts when
they sheered dangerously close to the edge. The gathering of the whole
company for rest and survey of the valley, at the stone cross half-way
up. The explorations of straggling couples in quest of “short cuts” to
the crown of the upper hill, and their return to the main road by help
of the bits of paper they had attached to twigs on their way into the
labyrinth of brushwood and stones. Who of us can forget the luncheons
eaten under the three forlorn trees that feigned to shade the long, low
hut on the summit? When, no matter how liberal our provision, something
always gave out before the onward rush of appetites quickened by the
keen air? How we devoured black bread bought in the _Châlet_ where we
had our coffee boiled, and thought it sweeter than Vienna rolls! Do you
remember—friends belovéd—now so sadly and widely sundered—the basket
of dried thistles proffered gravely, on one occasion, and to whom,
when the cry for “bread” was unseemly in vociferation and repetition?
And that, when our hunger was appeased, we, on a certain spring day,
roamed over the breast of the mighty mount, gathering gentians, yellow
violets, orchis and scraggy sprays of hawthorn, sweet with flowers,
until tired and happy, we all sat down on the moss-cushions of the
highest rocks, and looked at Mont Blanc—so near and yet so far,—stern,
pure, impassive,—and hearkened to the cuckoo’s song?

I know, moreover, because I recollect it all so well, that you have
not forgotten the as dear delights of talking over scene and adventure
and mishap—comic, and that only in the rehearsal,—on the next rainy
afternoon. When we circled about the wood-fire, tea-cups in hand,
raking open the embers and laying on more fuel that we might see each
others’ faces, yet not be obliged to light the lamps while we could
persuade ourselves that it was still the twilight-hour. We kept no
written record of the merry sayings and witty repartees and “capital”
stories of those impromptu conversaziones, but they are all stored up
in our memories,—other, and holier passages of our intercourse, where
they will be yet more faithfully kept—in our hearts.

If I am disposed to dwell at unreasonable length upon details that
seem vapid and irrelevant to any other readers, I cry them, “pardon.”
The lapse may be overlooked in one whose life cannot show many such
peaceful seasons; to whom the time and opportunity to renew health and
youth beside such still waters had not been granted in two decades.

Rome was rest. Geneva was recuperation. I have likened the air of
Switzerland to iced champagne. But the buoyancy begotten by it had
no reaction: the vigor was stable. I had not quite appreciated this
fact when, at Lucerne, I talked with fair tourists from my own land
who “would have died of fatigue,” if compelled to walk a couple of
miles, at home, yet boasted, and truly, of having tramped up the Rigi
and back—a distance of three leagues. But when I walked upon my own
feet into Geneva after an afternoon at Ferney, and experienced no
evil effects from the feat, we began to discredit scientific analyses,
dealing with the preponderance of ozone in the atmosphere, and to
revert to tales of fountains of perpetual youth and the Elixir of Life.

The town of Ferney is a mean village four miles-and-a-half from Geneva,
and over the French frontier. The château is half-a-mile further;—a
square, two-storied house set in extensive and handsome grounds,
gardens, lawn, park and wood. It is now the property of a French
gentleman who uses it as a country-seat, his chief residence being in
Paris. A liveried footman opened the gate at the clang of the bell and
showed two apartments that remain as Voltaire left them. These are on
the first floor, the entrance-hall, or _salon_, being the largest. The
floor is of polished wood inlaid in a cubic pattern. An immense stove
of elaborate workmanship stands against the left wall; a monument of
black and gray marble in a niche to the right. A tablet above the urn
on the top of this odd construction is inscribed:—

    “_Mon esprit est partout,
      Mon cœur est ici._”

Below is the very French legend:—“_Mes manes sont consolés, puisque mon
cœur est au milieu de vous._”

“The stove of Voltaire! His monument!” pronounced the servant in slow,
distinct accents.

“But his heart is not really there?”

“But no, monsieur. He is interred in Paris. Madame comprehends that
this is only an epitaph.”

Inferentially,—a lie.

Pictures hung around the room; one remarkable etching of “Voltaire and
his friends;” old engravings and some paintings of little value. The
furniture, of the stiffest order of the antique, was covered with faded
embroidery.

“The work of Madame du Chatelet, the niece of Voltaire,” continued the
footman, demurely.

The next room was his bed-chamber. A narrow bed, head and foot-board
covered with damask to match the arras; more embroidered chairs
from the niece’s hand, and, just opposite the door, a portrait of
Voltaire, painted at the age of twenty-five. A dapper, curled, and
be-frilled dandy of the era that produced Chateauneuf, Ninon de
l’Enclos and Chaulieu. The visage is already disfigured by the smirk
of self-satisfaction he intended should be cynical, which gives to the
bust in the outer apartment, and to sketched and engraved likenesses,
taken in mature manhood and old age, the look of a sneering monkey.
Close to the young Voltaire hung the portrait of Madame du Chatelet.

“The niece of Voltaire!” reiterated the serving-man, pointedly.

There could then be no impropriety in our prolonged survey of the
beautiful face. She was the mistress of a fine fortune and château
at Cirey, when Voltaire sought a retreat in the neighborhood from
governmental wrath, excited by his eulogistic “_Lettres sur les
Anglais_.” She was the ablest mathematician of her time, revelling in
the abstruse metaphysics and political economics which were Voltaire’s
delight, and so thorough a Latinist that she read the “_Principia_” in
Latin from choice. Her husband was much older than herself, an officer
in the French army, and thus furnished with an excuse for absenteeism
from the society of a woman too much his superior mentally to be an
agreeable help-meet. The Platonic attachment between the accomplished
_châtelaine_ and the poet-satirist lasted nineteen years. He was
thirty-six when it began. Her death broke what little heart he had.
There is a story that he sent his confidential _valet_ into the room
where her corpse lay, the night after her demise, to take from her
hand a ring he had given her, long ago, containing his miniature. When
it was brought to him, he kissed it passionately, and, before fitting
it upon his own finger, touched the spring of the seal concealing the
picture. It was not his, but the handsomer face of a younger man, that
met his eyes, one who had bowed, she would have had Voltaire believe,
hopelessly, at her feet. The duped lover bore the dead woman no malice
for her perfidy, if the contents of the Ferney apartments be admitted
as evidence. On the mantel in the bedroom is a glass case, covering the
model designed by him for her sarcophagus. The flat door of the tomb is
cleft in twain by the rising figure of the woman, holding in her arms
the babe that cost her life and was buried with her.

The Philosopher’s Walk, Voltaire’s favorite promenade, is nearly a
hundred yards in length, and completely embowered by pollarded limes,
the lateral branches meeting and interlacing over the broad alley.
From the parapet of the adjoining terrace can be had, on clear days,
a magnificent view, comprehending the Bernese Alps, the Juras, the
Aiguilles and their crowned Monarch—Mont Blanc—by day, a silver
dome,—at the rising and going down of the sun, a burning altar of
morning and evening sacrifice.

“In sight of _this_, the Man of Ferney could say—‘There is no GOD!’”
interjected an indignant voice, while we hung, entranced, over the wall.

“The ‘Coryphæus of Deism’ never said it!” answered Caput. “His last
words,—after he had, to secure for his meagre body the rites of
Mother Church, signed a confession of faith in her tenets—were,—‘I
die, worshiping GOD, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, _but_
detesting superstition.’”

The philosopher had, presently, another and more enthusiastic defender.
I had tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain a photograph of the little
church outside the gate of the château. Albeit no artist, except for my
own convenience and amusement, I resolved to have something that should
look like the interesting relic. While my companions strayed down the
pleached walk into the woods, I returned to the entrance, sat down upon
the grassy bank opposite the church-front and began to sketch. There
was no one in sight when I selected my position, but, pretty soon, a
party of three—two ladies and a gentleman—emerged from the gate and
stopped within earshot for a parting look at the lowly sanctuary, now a
granary.

The Traveling American dashes at dead languages as valiantly as at
living.

“_Deo erexit Voltaire_” is cut into a small tablet below the belfry.

Will it be believed that I heard, actually and literally, the
conversation I now write down?

“_I_ call that blasphemous!”

The speaker was a lady, in dress and deportment.

“Heaven-daring blasphemy!” she added, in a low, horrified tone, reading
the Latin aloud.

“I don’t see that—exactly,” answered a deeper voice. “It is strange
that an infidel, such as Voltaire is usually considered, should build a
church at all, but there is nothing wrong——”

“But look at the inscription! ‘GOD _erects it to Voltaire_!’ Horrible!”

“I doubt if that is _quite_ the right translation, my love”—began the
spouse.

The lady caught him up—“I may not be a classical scholar, but I hope I
can read, and I am not altogether ignorant of Latin. And Baedeker says
it is an ’ostentatious inscription.’ I suppose Baedeker knows what he
is talking about—if I do not!”

They walked off down the lane.

Voltaire built the church for the use of his servants and tenantry.
The Bishop refused to consecrate it, and Voltaire created a Bishopric
of Ferney. The priest was paid by him and was often one of the
château-guests. Upon Sabbath mornings, it was the master’s habit to
march into church, attended by visitors and retainers, and engage, with
outward decorum, in the service. Religious ceremonies were a necessity
for the vulgar and ignorant, as were amusements. He provided for both
needs on the same principle.

The building is of stone, with sloping roof and two shed-like wings
joined to the central part. A small clock-tower is capped by a
weather-cock. There is but one door, now partly boarded up. Over
this is a single large window with a Norman arch. It was a perfect
October afternoon, dreamy and soft. Chestnuts and limes were yet in
full leaf; the garden was gay with flowers untouched by a breath of
frost. I had my turfy bank all to myself for half an hour, and in the
stillness, could hear the hum of the bees in the red and white clover
of the meadow behind me, the voices of men and women in the vineyard,
three fields away. It was the vintage-season and they were having rare
weather for it. Heavy steps grated upon the road; were checked so near
me that I looked up. The intruder was a peasant in faded blue shirt
and trowsers, a leather belt, a torn straw hat and wooden shoes, and
carried a scythe upon his shoulder. A son of the soil, who grinned and
touched his hat when I saw him.

“_Pardon, madame!_”

I nodded and went on with my work. He stood as still as the church,—an
indigo shadow between me and the sky. I glanced at him again, this
time, inquiringly.

“_Pardon, madame!_”

He was respectful, and had he been rude, I could call through the gate
to my friends who were walking in the grounds. There was nothing to
alarm me in his proximity, but a certain annoyance at his oversight of
my occupation.

“Are you one of the laborers on the estate?” asked I, coldly.

“Madame is right. I am the farm-servant of M. David.”

Who, it was so evident, did not suspect that he was impolite in
watching me that I forgave him.

“I am only making a little sketch of the church,” I deigned to explain.

“_Est-ce que je vous gêne, Madame?_” said the “clod,” deprecatingly.
“If so, I will go. I am an ignorant peasant and I never, until now, saw
a picture make itself.”

Upon receiving permission to remain, he lowered his scythe and stood
leaning upon it, while the poor little picture “made itself.” To put
him at his ease, I asked who built the church.

“M. Voltaire. My grandfather has told me of him.”

“What of him?”

“That he built Ferney and would have made of it a great city—much finer
than Geneva—perhaps as grand as Paris. Who knows? And free, Madame! He
would have had all the people hereabouts”—waving his hand to indicate a
circuit of miles—“free, and learnèd, and happy. He was a wise man—this
M. Voltaire! _un si bon Protestant!_”

“Protestant!”

“_Mais, oui, parfaitement, Madame!_ He hated the priests. He succored
many distressed Protestants. He was, without doubt, a good Christian.”

I recollected Calas and Sirven, and refrained from polemics.

“Ferney is free, now that France is a Republic. You vote, and so govern
yourselves.”

My friend was out of soundings. “_Plaît-il?_” staring imbecilely. Then,
pulling his thoughts together—“Madame is right. France is a great
country. She demands many soldiers. Conscripts are taken every year
from Ferney. It maybe I shall go, one day. Unless I can lose these two
front teeth, or, by accident, cut off this finger.”

He had his inquiry when the sketch was done.

“The pictures one sees on the walls in Geneva—beasts and people—red and
blue and many colors—that are to play in the _spectacles_—are they made
like that?”

I laughed—“They are printed,”—then, as the difficulty of enlightening
him on the subject of lithography struck me, I added—“Somebody makes
the drawing first.”

He shook his head compassionately. “I never knew how much of work they
were! Ah! I shall always think of it when I see them. And of the poor
people who draw them!”

“_Les Délices_”—Voltaire’s home in Geneva prior to his purchase of
Ferney, is now a girls’ boarding-school. We had friends there, and
were, through the kindness of the Principal, allowed free access to the
grounds and such apartments as retained traces of Voltaire’s residence.
The house is large and rambling, and Voltaire’s dressing- and bed-rooms
are, as at Ferney, upon the ground-floor. The frescoes are fairly
distinct, as yet, and the carved mantels unaltered. One long wing is
unused and closed. This was the private theatre that shattered, at
last, and forever, the brittle friendship between Voltaire and Rousseau.

“You have basely corrupted my Republic!” was the angry protest of the
author of “_La Nouvelle Héloïse_.”

Voltaire retorted by satire, caustic and pointed;—some say, with the
famous sarcasm upon the Canton of Geneva, which is but fifteen miles
square:—

“When I shake my wig, I powder the whole Republic!”

The theatre was built, in spite of Rousseau’s remonstrances; actors
brought from naughty Paris, and complimentary tickets for the first
representation sent to the magnates of Calvin’s city. Not one of these,
from the Mayor down to the constable, had any intention of going. All
were thrilled with horror at the suspicion that some weak brother might
be allured by the forbidden fruit. All were curious to know who the
recreant would be, and burning with jealousy for the purity of the
public morals. Early in the afternoon of the appointed day, loungers
and spies stationed themselves on the bridge and road by which the
delinquents must pass to _Les Délices_. The cordon lengthened and
spread until the throng at Voltaire’s gates pressed back upon those
pouring out of the city. When the theater-doors were opened, the crowd
rushed in, still moved by pietistic and patriotic fervor; the seats
were filled and the curtain rose.

Reckoning shrewdly upon the revulsion of the human nature he knew
so well, Voltaire sent privily to the Cathedral of St. Pierre for
the triangular chair of Calvin preserved there, with holy care, and
introduced it among the stage-properties in the last scene. The
Genevese municipality recognized it immediately, as did the rest of the
spectators, but so intoxicated were they by now with the novel draught
of “corrupting” pleasure, that they actually applauded its appearance!

We heard this story from the lips of the Lady-Principal of the
_pensionnat_, upon the threshold of the barred doors of the theatre.
Groups of girls sat under the spreading chestnuts; walked, arm-in-arm,
up and down the avenues. The casements of the old house were open to
the warm air. Boy, who had accompanied us, in defiance of the ordinance
excluding young gentlemen, was the cynosure of the merry band, and
being spoiled faster than usual by offerings of flowers, confectionery,
kisses and coaxing flatteries.

A faintly-worn path beyond the theatre marks “Voltaire’s Walk.” It
is shaded by a double row of splendid trees, and at the far end is a
mossy stone bench on which he used to sit. It was easy for Fancy to
conjure up the picture of what might have been there on the morrow
of the theater-opening, and the image of him who was the life of the
party, glorying insolently in their triumph. The meager figure wrapped
in the gorgeous dressing-gown, remembered still at _Les Délices_—the
sardonic smirk that poisoned equivoque and epigram; the Du Chatelet’s
lover-comrade; the friend and slanderer of Frederick the Great; the
pupil of the Jesuits, and the _bon Chrétien_, who “hated the priests;”
the philosopher, who died, worshiping his Maker, and at peace with the
world,—but who had, living, feared not GOD, neither regarded Man!



CHAPTER XXIX.

_Calvin—The Diodati House—Primroses._


THE house in which Calvin lived and died has never been photographed.
“Madame does not reflect how narrow is the street!” pleaded the
picture-dealer to whom I expressed my surprise at this.

But the camera would have been set up in one of the windows across the
way had there been a lively demand upon the thrifty Swiss for mementoes
of the Reformer. John Calvin is out of fashion on the Continent, and
Geneva is not an exception to the prevalent obsoleteness of reverence
for his character and doctrines.

“_Fanatique!_” ejaculated a Genevese lady who worshiped statedly in the
Protestant Cathedral, and called herself “dévôte.”

Our friend Mrs. G—— the artist, _par excellence_, of our happy family,
had made an excellent copy of an original portrait of Calvin which M.
Reviliod had, as an especial favor, lent her from his fine collection
of pictures, a compliment of which we were proud for her. Herself the
daughter of a clergyman who had fought a good fight for the truth as he
held it, she had copied the picture _con amore_.

“I have lived in Calvin’s age—not in this, while I painted,” she said
when I looked into her parlor to see how the work was getting on. “An
age that needed such men! The face is not lovely in any sense, but I
have laid in each stroke tenderly. My father used to say that the
Church at large owes more to-day to John Calvin than to any other one
man who ever lived.”

The face was, as she had said, not lovely. It was not benign. The
hollow temples, deep-set eyes; the small, resolute mouth were the
lineaments of an ascetic whose warfare with the world, the flesh and
the devil—and the church he conceived in his honest, stubborn soul to
be a compound of all three—was to the death. He wore the Genevan cap
and gown, the latter trimmed with fur. His black beard was long, but
scanty. One thin hand was lifted slightly in exhortation. A man of
power, he was one whom not many would dare to love.

“Greater in thought and in action than Luther; as brave as Zwingli; as
zealous as Knox!” pursued his admirer, touching the canvas lightly with
her brush, as if reluctant to demit the work. “Ah, mademoiselle!” to
the entering visitor, the Genevese Protestant aforesaid. “You are just
in time to see my finished Calvin!”

Then, the Genevese said, with a grimace, “_Fanatique! Moi, je déteste
cet homme!_”

If she had been one man, the artist another—(and unregenerate) I am
afraid the predestined portion of the last speaker would have been a
blow of the maul-stick.

The Genevese have swung completely around the circle in three hundred
years.

“They would be insupportable to me, and I to them!” replied Calvin to
the recall of the Council after his two years of banishment.

But how earnestly he served them and Protestantism in the
quarter-century that intervened from the time of the refusal and
the months during which he lay “long a-dying” in the strait Rue des
Chanoines, almost in the shadow of the Cathedral!

The ground-floor and part of the second-story of the “plain house
provided for him,” are now used as a dispensary and doctor’s office,—a
charitable institution. A placard at the door sets forth the hours at
which patients can be admitted to the consulting-rooms. After Calvin’s
death, and until within a few years, it was occupied as a convent and
school by a Roman Catholic sisterhood. The building is of brick and
“plain” to humbleness, two stories in height, and built around four
sides of an open court. We saw the closet in which Calvin studied and
wrote—so overwhelmed by preparations for the pulpit, the university
lecture-room, and with voluminous correspondence with churches at home
and abroad, that he passed whole nights without laying by his pen, and,
by day, had not, he says, “time to look up to the light of the blessèd
sun;”—and the chamber in which he died. This is low-ceiled and of fair
size, wainscoted with dark wood. Over the doors are paneled paintings
representing the Four Seasons. These were there during Calvin’s
occupancy, as was the carved mantel of black oak. Two windows open upon
a balcony hung thickly with ivy.

One speculates fruitlessly touching the incidents of the private life
of him of whom it was said that “he was never for one day unfaithful to
his apostolate.” We questioned the woman who showed us the house and
who said she was a Protestant,—hoping to glean some interesting local
traditions. But she knew nothing beyond her lesson—a brief and a dry
one. We longed to know if in this apartment came and went the child
whose biography is comprised by the father in one line:—

“GOD gave us a little son. HE took him away.”

The mother who “always aided, never opposed” her husband, survived the
boy eight years. Calvin never married again. Henceforward, his earthly
ties were the Reformed Church and Geneva. “I offer to my GOD my slain
heart as a sacrifice, forcing myself to obedience to His will,” became
the motto of a life that had, no more, in it the sweet elements of
home-happiness and repose.

The sun set while we stood upon the balcony, the room behind us growing
darker and more desolately-silent, while the heavens brightened,
ruddying the tiled roofs and time-stained walls of the “Old Town”
in which the house stands. The wife may have sat here at even-tide,
thinking of the babe that was coming to cheer her lonely, frugal
dwelling, and, in those eight childless years, of the little son
GOD took away. Her husband had no time for loverly converse or sad
reverie—with his daily sermon every other week; his Theology lectures;
his semi-weekly Consistory-meeting; his written controversies with
Unitarians and Anabaptists, and the government, in all its details, of
a municipality that owned him Dictator of letter and of spirit.

“Geneva”—wrote Knox to a friend during a visit to Calvin’s model
town—“is the most perfect school of Christ the world has seen since the
days of the Apostles.”

Scoffers said that Calvin resisted the Divine decree in his own case
when the physicians pronounced him to be dying from _seven_ mortal
diseases. When he could no longer eat or sit up, he dictated, between
the paroxysms of nausea and faintness, letters to all parts of Europe
to one scribe, comments upon the Book of Joshua to another. He fainted
in the pulpit, his sermon unfinished, the last time he was carried to
the Cathedral. One month before his death, the most eminent medical
authorities in Switzerland declaring that he could not survive a day
longer, civil and ecclesiastical officers were collected to receive his
solemn farewell. Still he lived—in such agony of body as chills the
blood to read of, but in calm joyfulness of soul, until the end of May,
almost four months after the Sabbath when he was brought back from the
Cathedral fainting—it was believed, in a dying condition. The Battle
of Life was with him a favorite figure in speech and writings. How he
fought it until the last drop of blood was drained from his veins and
heart is worthily told by Theodore Beza.

His handsome face hangs near Calvin’s in the Reviliod Gallery. So
genial and _débonnaire_ does this one of the Reformers look that we
marvel—not at the charge of French levity brought against him by
certain of his _confrères_—but that he should have loved so well
his stern, joyless brother-in-arms. Yet gentle Melanchthon sighs,
oppressed by the conviction that “Old Adam is too strong for young
Melanchthon,”—“If I could but lay my weary head upon thy” (Calvin’s)
“faithful heart and die there!”

Beza carries his affectionate partizanship so far as to defend the
burning of Servetus for obstinate heresy, by the Genevan authorities.
Men have chosen to execrate Calvin as the author of an act which
was in exact accordance with the temper of the State-Church at that
time. The Council of Geneva, after long and stirring debate, and much
advisement with other Cantons, condemned the Spanish heretic-physician
to the stake as a political necessity. Farel was earnest in advocating
this extreme penalty of the law, and exhorted him, at the place
of execution, to recantation. Melanchthon gave it unqualified, if
sorrowful sanction, as did Bullinger. The one voice raised against the
horrible cruelty was Calvin’s. He pleaded, vainly—since the man must
die—that he should be beheaded, not burnt.

The Genevese declare they do not know “just where” this violation of
the avowed principles of Protestantism occurred. The burning-place was
upon the Champel, a pretty green hill, south of the city.

Of Calvin, guide-books and travelers have long asserted—“No man
knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” The truth being that, several
years ago, careful measurement of the cemetery of Plain Palais, and
examination of the record of his burial, pointed out the locality he
desired should be forgotten lest a costly monument might dishonor the
memory of the poverty he had borne for Christ’s sake. His bones rest
not many rods from the wall of the burial-ground. A lofty hemlock grows
directly upon the grave. The boughs have been torn off by relic-hunters
as far up as a tall man can reach. A sloping stone of gray granite,
a foot square and about as tall at the highest side, is lettered,
“J. C.” That is all. There is no mound to warn aside the unwary
foot, although the graves about it are carefully kept, distinguished
by memorial-tablets and adorned with flowers. Upon his return from
Strasbourg, in compliance with the prayers of Geneva—Canton and
town—the people gave him, in addition to the “plain house,” a “piece of
cloth for a coat.” The bald covering of earth is all he would accept
from them in death.

Plain Palais is a dismal last home even for John Calvin. Low, flat and
damp on the sunniest days, it is a pity it should not be, as Baedeker
describes it—“disused.” But one passes on the route to Calvin’s grave,
the gorgeous red granite tomb of the Duke of Brunswick who bequeathed
his wealth to the city. And in our numerous visits to the cemetery we
rarely went in or out without meeting a funeral train. The paths are
greened by moss-slime, and the short winter afternoons are briefer and
gloomier for the mists that begin to rise here by four o’clock.

Very different in location and aspect is the grave of the historian of
the Reformation, Merle d’Aubigné. The walk up the quay took us past his
former residence, a comfortable homestead, now occupied by his widow.
Leaving the lake-edge, about half-a-mile from the town, we turned to
the left into a crooked road paved with cobble-stones. High walls,
covered with ivy and capped by the foliage of fine old trees, rooted
within the grounds, seclude on both sides of the way the _campagnes_ of
wealthy Genevese who desert them in the winter for the confined streets
and noise of the city. A brook of clear water, issuing from the wall,
runs gaily down to the lake. The road winds irregularly up the hill,
yet so sharply that we were content to rest on the brow, and, sitting
upon a wayside bench, enjoy the view of Lake Leman and the Juras on one
hand, the Mont Blanc chain of Alps upon the other. The small cemetery
was gained by an abrupt turn to the right and another rise. It is
enclosed on all sides by a brick wall, entered through strong iron
gates, and, we judged from the lack of traces of recent occupancy,
was in truth “disused.” D’Aubigné is buried in a corner remote from
the gate. Some of his kindred sleep within the enclosure, but none
near him. We had read the names of others of the noble race upon mural
brasses in the old Cathedral. He selected the spot of his interment
“that he might rise in sight of Mont Blanc at the Last Day.”

So runs the story. It was impressive, told, as we heard it, grouped
about the grave, the solemn, eternal whiteness of the mountain in
full view. A profile of the historian in bas-relief is upon the
head-stone. Climbing roses bound this and the mound with lush withes of
grayish-crimson and pale-green, and plumes of golden-rod nodded over
his head. The ancient wall is hung and heaped with ivy, as common in
Geneva and the neighborhood as the grass and field-flowers.

We never knew when we had walked far enough in Switzerland. On this
afternoon we extended our ramble a mile further up the lake beyond
the cemetery, keeping upon the ridge of the range, to the Diodati
House. It is one of the old family seats that stud the hill-sides
in all directions. Milton was here a welcome guest for months, and
under the patronage of the Diodati, a French translation of “Paradise
Lost” was printed. A degenerate son of the house, upon a visit to
England, became intimate with a poet of different mold. When Byron
left his native land after the separation from his wife, he accepted
the invitation of young Diodati to his ancestral home. The host became
so enamored of his guest’s society that he assigned to him a suite
of apartments overlooking the lake, as his own, so long as he would
honor him by occupying them. Shelley had rooms in the neighboring
village of Cologny. The balcony before the second-story front windows
is designated as the habitual lounging-place of the two at sunset and
through moonlight evenings. The morals of Diodati the younger were
not amended by the companionships of the year spent by Byron in the
enjoyment of his hospitality. Tales of the orgies of the comrades are
still rife in the region, to the shame of all three. From this balcony
Byron witnessed the thunderstorm by night upon Lake Leman, described
in the third canto of Childe Harold, written at the Diodati House. Its
pictures of the lake-scenery are faithful and beautiful. The opening
lines recur to the memory of the least poetical tourist who has ever
read them, when he reclines, as we did on that day, and many others, on
the lawn before the mansion.

    “Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
        With the wild world I dwelt in, is a thing,
     Which warns me with its stillness, to forsake
        Earth’s troubled waters for a purer spring.
        This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing
     To waft me from distraction. Once I loved
        Torn ocean’s roar, but thy soft murmuring
     Sounds sweet as if a sister’s voice reproved
     That I with stern delights should e’er have been so moved.”

Shelley’s second wife, Mary Wollstonecraft, was with her husband, and
about the English party collected a jovial company of both sexes for
whom the Diodati homestead was the rendezvous. At the close of the year
they journeyed southward to Ravenna, to Pisa and to Spezzia, near which
latter place Shelley and Williams were drowned.

The old house is very peaceful now in restored respectability. A very
Quaker of a _campagne_, in faded dove-color and broad-brimmed roof,
it is square-built like Ferney, and without tower or battlement. So
English is its expression of home-comfort in spacious rooms, spreading
lawn and clumps of shade-trees, that Byron must have had recalled to
him continually the land he affected to despise and hate.

In the Spring, we found our earliest primroses in the Diodati grounds.
We had never seen them growing wild before, and emulous parties sallied
forth, every day, for fresh spoils of these and the fragrant purple
violets, unknown to American fields. A week later, the meadows upon the
left bank of the lake were yellow as gold with them. But on the day of
my first primrose-hunt they had just begun to show their straw-colored
faces, and so tentatively that our quest had to be close and keen.
We—two of us—strayed into the grounds of a closed country-house on a
warm March afternoon, not sanguine of success after the assurances of
sundry laborers and rosy-cheeked nurses whom we had met and catechized,
that “_les primevères_” were never found thereabouts. The day before,
two of “our girls” had come in to five o’clock tea, with handfuls of
the pale beauties picked in the Diodati woods, so we knew they were
above-ground. The lawn chosen by my friend J—— and myself, as the scene
of our trespass, was level and open to the sun, except where branchy
limes and tent-like chestnuts made cool retreats for the “summer-days
a-coming.” The turf was so deep, our feet sank into it, so elastic,
it was a joy to tread it. We had gone perhaps twenty yards from the
entrance-gates when something smiled up suddenly at us, as if it had,
that instant, broken ground. We were down upon our knees in a second,
tugging so hard at the prize that the tender stems snapped close to the
flowers. Then, perceiving that the stalks were long as well as frail,
we dug down through the turf with our gloved fingers, parasol-handles,
hair-pins—anything that might penetrate to the root. Not a stick
was visible upon the neat lawn. Being only two women, we had not a
pocket-knife between us. I would not declare that we would not have
used our teeth had nothing better offered, so excited were we over our
treasure-trove. They shone at us above the sward on all sides, after
we espied that one cluster. The depth of the roots below the surface
is amazing. Our digging and scraping assumed the dignity of scientific
excavations by the time we had filled handkerchiefs and veils.

The uprooted primroses did not lose their character for bravery.
Embedded in a bank of moss laid within a dish, and supplied with
moisture, they lived for days, unfurling buds and leaves as assiduously
as if the teeming bulk of their native earth had underlain them,
subject to the call of the torn fibers. Our “primrose-bank,” renewed
again and again in the season of their bloom, was a cherished feature
of our _salon_, that happy Spring-time. The fragrance is faint, but
pleasant, and has, in a peculiar degree, the subtle _associativeness_
possessed by some other wood-flowers, granting us, with the inhalation,
visions of the banks on which they grew; of tossing brooks and wet,
trailing grasses, swinging in the eddying water; of ferny glades, cool
in the hottest noons; of moss-grown hollows under shelving rocks; of
bird-call; the grasshopper’s rattle and the whirr of the quail;—the
thousand nameless pleasures of Memory that are the mesmeric passes with
which Imagination beguiles us into forgetfulness of sorrow, time and
distance.



CHAPTER XXX.

_Corinne at Coppet._


THE sail of nine miles up the lake to Coppet, the residence, for so
long, of Madame de Staël, is one of the pleasantest short excursions
enjoined by custom upon the traveler sojourning for a few days in
Geneva.

The village is nothing in itself;—a mere appanage, in olden days,
of the Neckar estate. The château is reached by a short walk up a
quiet street—or road—for there is neither side-walk nor curbing. The
house-front is lake-ward, but entrance is had from the street through
a paved court-yard at the side. A brick wall surrounds this. A pair of
great gates admit the passage of carriages. We were met at each visit,
in the lower hall, by a plump housekeeper in white cap and black silk,
who showed the mansion and received our douceur at parting, with gentle
dignity. The main hall is large and nearly square. Wide settees are
set against the walls. A bust of Neckar is in one corner. A flight of
oaken stairs, broad and easy, ascends to the upper hall. The floors
are of polished wood, as slippery as glass. The _salon_, entered
from the second-story hall, is handsomely plenished with antique
furniture and pictures, mostly family portraits. Mad. de Staël is here
as Corinne. David was the artist, but the likeness is not pleasing.
The “pose” in character is too apparent. The abstracted stare and
fixed intellectuality are plainly “done to order.” The Duchess de
Broglie, the daughter of the great De Staël, hangs at the other end
of the room. As _châtelaine_ of Coppet,—a home preferred by her to
Paris _salons_,—her memory is held in grateful esteem by rich and poor
neighbors. Her face is purely and sweetly womanly, with a pensive cast
that tells of long-sustained physical or mental pain. She had passed
Life’s prime when the portrait was taken, but was still very lovely.
In her youth she was far more beautiful and infinitely more amiable
than her distinguished mother. Beside the mantel is a painting—cabinet
size—of three grandchildren of Madame de Staël, children of her only
son by her first marriage. They died in infancy and early youth, and
are here depicted sleeping in the arms and against the knees of the
Saviour. Design and painting are exquisite.

This _salon_ communicates with another, not quite so large, but more
interesting. Neckar is here, as at the height of his splendid career
as the prince of financiers; saviour of the realm from bankruptcy;
reverenced by the sovereign and adored by the populace.

“I shall never cease to regret”—says the daughter to whom he was ever
the greatest and dearest of men—“that it had not pleased GOD to make me
his wife, instead of his child.”

She who was his wife in law, if not in spirit and affection, is also in
this gallery of family-pictures—a haughty dame whose hard, passionless
features sustain the stories of the severity of discipline practised
in the education of her only child. In looking from her to the noble,
frank gentleman who lifted her from the station of governess in a Swiss
country-house to rank and wealth, one easily comprehends the daughter’s
fond partiality for one of her parents.

“She is well enough!” (“_assez bien_”—) Madame Neckar would say, with a
resigned shrug, when congratulated upon her child’s brilliant success
in literature and society. “But nothing to what I would have made her,
had not her father interfered.”

The deprecated interference was the result of the decision of the
best physician in France that the girl was dying under the mother’s
intolerable regimen of study and home-etiquette. She was blooming too
rapidly in a social and educational hot-house, and the doctor summoned
by the father, earned the mother’s enmity by saving the patient’s life
at the price of a long, idle vacation at Coppet.

Madame Neckar was, prior to her marriage, madly beloved by—some say,
the betrothed of Gibbon the historian. She wedded Neckar to establish
herself well in life. To the same end she married her daughter, at
twenty, to Baron de Staël, a Swedish nobleman.

“Her mother had done wrong,” writes sensible Madame de Genlis of
Mademoiselle Neckar at sixteen—“in allowing her to spend three-fourths
of her time with the throng of wits who continually surrounded her, and
who held dissertations with her upon love and the passions.”

These disquisitions and their subjects did not enter into her
calculations in accepting the hand of a man double her age. She was
weary of her mother’s tyranny and the restraints of singlehood.
Married to this good-natured nobleman, who had engaged not to take
her to Sweden, she could begin to live. The Baron’s portrait is in
the Coppet _salon_,—at a reasonable remove from his lady-wife, as she
liked to keep him when both were alive. A portly figure and round,
florid visage, as blank as to expression, as the wall behind him; a
fine court-suit, with plenty of gold and thread-lace—these are what
the canvas presents to us. Diagonally opposite is David’s celebrated
portrait of Anne-Marie-Louise-Germaine, Baronne de Staël-Holstein
(_née_ Neckar). A Persian shawl is wound, turban-wise, about her head,
dark curls falling below it upon her forehead and bare shoulders.
Her short-waisted dress is of crimson silk, with short sleeves. A
dark-blue Cashmere shawl falls low upon her skirt, and is caught up by
one arm. The other is bare, and lies lightly on a table by which she
stands, the hand drooping over the edge. In the right hand, the arm
crossing her figure horizontally to hold the shawl, is the green spray
without which she would not talk in company. Captious critics affirmed
that she held and twirled and gesticulated with the leafy scepter to
attract admiration to her beautiful hands. These, her eyes, and her
finely-moulded arms were all that commended her to the eye. In form
she was clumsy; her complexion was muddy and rough; her mouth large,
and her teeth were so prominent that the lips hardly met over them.
Yet this portrait, not cloaking these defects, is of the queen this
woman undoubtedly was. The head is turned slightly, as in listening,—a
thing which, by the way, she never did,—and a little upraised; the eyes
are full of life and spirit;—the glow of inspiration, as unlike the
factitious animation of the “Corinne” in the other room, as day-light
to gas-glare, shines through and from the heavily-cast features. The
colors are as rich and fresh as if laid on but yesterday.

Auguste de Staël, her son, at thirty, hangs near, a fresh-colored
_gentilhomme_, without a trace of the refined loveliness of his sister,
or of his mother’s genius, in his Swedish physiognomy. Yet, it is
related that, when a lad of seventeen, he pleaded well and bravely with
Napoleon for the recall of his mother from exile, offering his personal
guarantee that she would not meddle with politics were she suffered to
return to Paris. Napoleon knew better than to trust her, but he liked
the young fellow’s fearlessness so well that he playfully pulled his
ear in denying his petition.

Down-stairs are the library and bed-chamber of Madame de Staël, opening
by long windows upon balcony and parterre. The bed-room is large,
and furnished in a style befitting the fashion, then popular, of
using what we regard as the _penetralia_ of a home,—to wit—“my lady’s
chamber”—for morning-receptions. The French single bed in a distant
corner alone indicates that the occupant of the apartment really slept
there. The walls are hung with tapestry,—Gobelin, or a fair imitation
of it;—chairs and sofa are embroidered to match, in designs from Æsop’s
Fables. A tall mirror is set between the windows. In the center of
the room, on a large Turkish rug, is Madame de Staël’s escritoire, at
which she always wrote, a chair before it, as she used to have it. It
is a cumbrous affair,—long and not high,—with pigeon-holes, carved
legs and brass-handled drawers. The mistress, as Sappho, looks down
upon it from the wall. We liked this portrait least of all. It is a
Bacchante, in inflamed complexion and wild eyes. The original preferred
it to all others. The library adjoins the bed-room, and is lined with
book-shelves to the ceiling. The floor is polished to glassiness,—the
dark wood of doors and casement-frames and the ranks of sober-hued
volumes reflected in it, as in a somber pool.

We looked back into the shadow and silence from the threshold, thinking
of the goodly company of intellectual athletes who frequented it when
the most wonderful woman of her age held court here as regally as when
in Paris. De Goncourt described her as a “_man_ of genius, by whose
hands France signed a treaty of alliance with existing institutions,
and, for a period, accepted the Directory. The daughter of Neckar”—he
continues—“forbade France to recall the line of kings; she retained
the Republic; she condemned the throne.”

Or, as when forbidden to approach within thirty miles of Paris, she
established her household at precisely that distance, and her residence
was crowded with guests from the Capital.

“She pretends”—growled the Emperor—“to speak neither of public affairs,
nor of me. But it happens invariably that every one comes out of her
presence less attached to me than when he went in.”

Hunted to Coppet, she was attended there by Benjamin Constant—“the
scribe of her dictation; the aid-de-camp of her thought; the man who
almost equaled her in conversational power;”—visited there, by Byron,
Schlegel, Sismondi, and so many other men of mark and power that a
cordon of French police was drawn about the house near enough to watch
all comers and goers without revealing their proximity. Madame Récamier
braved the danger of discovery and the consequent wrath of Napoleon by
journeying thither by post-carriage from France, expressly to see her
persecuted friend. Arriving under cover of the darkness, she tarried
but a night, departing early the next morning. So soon as the news
could travel to Paris and a post be sent in reply, a messenger overtook
her in her Swiss tour with an order from the Emperor, prohibiting her
return to the metropolis under penalty of fine and imprisonment.

Above the broad arch of the doorway, within which the two women—one as
eminent for her beauty as was the other for her genius, met and parted,
is carved the Neckar coat-of-arms. The court-yard is full of flowers,
the high iron fence separating it from lawn and park, wreathed with
roses and white jasmine. The central building and two wings of the
château encompass it on three sides. Great iron gates give egress in
the direction of the grounds. These are extensive and of much natural
beauty. A road bends around a lawn brightened by beds of geraniums and
coleas. An oval pond is in the center, a solitary willow drooping above
it. Beyond pool and circling drive, is an old stone bench from which
we got the best view of the house. It is of gray stone, shaded darkly
by age. Above the second story is a high, sloping roof, pierced by
dormer windows and many chimneys. The wings are peaked towers, capped
by quaint wooden knops and spires that may be seen far up and down the
lake. Masses of chestnuts and limes, diversified by a few hemlocks
and spruces, embower the mansion. The undulating line of the Juras is
visible above it, like another roof-tree. Branching off from the wider
road are foot-paths, overhung by trees. A swift brook is the limit of
the lawn at the right. The banks are steep and green with turf and the
ivy that has strayed downward from the tree-boles. Lime and poplar
leafage make the clear water darkly deep. Foot-bridges span it by which
one can pass into the meadows beyond.

“Ah, madame!” said Chateaubriand, while walking in the peaceful demesne
with its mistress,—“If the Emperor would but banish me, likewise—to
Coppet!”

She paced these walks like a caged lioness; ate her heart out in the
fine old house yonder.

“I would rather,” she cried, passionately,—“live in the Rue Jean Pain
Mollet, with two thousand francs a year, than upon one hundred thousand
at Coppet!”

Her egotism was as magnificent as her genius. For the food of one and
the display of the other, Paris was the only place upon the globe.

It was while she lived at Coppet that she made her love-match with De
Rocca, a young French officer, and an invalid, absent from the army
on furlough at Geneva. He was eminently handsome, and she worshiped
beauty. The suit of a man of twenty-two to a widow twenty years his
senior, was dangerous flattery to one who drew in admiration as the
very breath of life. Other men had paid court to her intellect, her
position, her wealth. This man loved the _woman_ he would make his wife.

“My name belongs to Europe!” she replied to his first offer.

“I will love you so well as to _make_ you love me!” was his answer.

The marriage was a secret, kept until disclosed in her will after her
death. We gain a glimpse of the morals of the day that is a shock
to our ideas of decorum, when we read in the same paragraph of his
residence at Coppet; his companionship in her travels, and that their
son was born without the revelation of their relation as husband and
wife.

It was not until our third trip to Coppet that we were able to see the
bust of De Rocca in one of the upper rooms not shown to strangers while
the family are at home. It is a beautiful head, with a sweet manliness
of look that excuses the seemingly absurd union, to susceptible
lady-visitors.

Neither then, nor at any other time, could we prevail upon any employé
of the De Broglies (Madame de Staël’s grandson now owns the estate) to
unlock the rusty gate of the family cemetery across the road. It is
environed by neglected commons, and the brick wall is, at least, ten
feet high. It looks like a fortified forest, so dense is the unpruned
foliage of the tall trees. We walked all around it, each recalling
something he, or she had heard or read of the burial-chapel of the
Neckars so safely hidden in the heart of the wood. Of Neckar’s tomb
and recumbent statue, and his wife’s at his side. Of their daughter’s
request that her grave might not be made a show-place, and the pious
respect accorded by her son and daughter and their descendants to a
wish so incongruous with the passion for notoriety that swayed her from
the nursery to the death-bed.

She had suffered intensely in her latest years. Natural nervousness
was aggravated by the use of opium in such quantities to dull severe
paroxysms of pain, that it lost its effect as a sedative. She seemed
to have forgotten how to sleep. But her mind retained its strength and
clearness.

“I know now,” she said, “what the passage from life to death is. The
goodness of GOD makes it easy. Our thoughts become indistinct. The pain
is not great.”

The habit of analytical thought was strong to the last.

In spite of the sternly-barred gates, prying curiosity has found its
way to the sequestered chapel. At one angle of the wall, out of sight
of the house, bricks have been picked out at intervals to supply a
foothold for the climber, and the coping is fractured. A gentleman of
our party put his toe into a crevice and looked over.

“More than one person has passed in this way,” he said. “The grass is
trampled and the underbrush broken. The place is a jungle of matted
bushes and large trees.”

He stepped back gently to the ground, and we strolled on.

“_Hic tandem quiescit, quæ nunquam quievit_,” reads her tombstone. The
embosoming trees; the lofty wall; the locked gate are not without their
meaning.

GOD rest her soul in keeping yet more wise and tender!



CHAPTER XXXI.

_Chillon._


THE Castle of Chillon is a whitey-gray pile, with towers of varying
heights and black, pointed roofs, like extinguishers, clustering about
the central and tallest. The lake washes the base on all sides. A
wooden bridge, once a “draw,” joins the fortress to the shore. This
was the scene of the casualty to Julie’s child, and his rescue by the
mother, resulting in the death of the latter, narrated by Rousseau in
the concluding chapters of “La Nouvelle Héloïse.”

In spring and summer, the aspect of the storied prison is not
forbidding. The walk from the steamboat is pleasantly shaded throughout
much of its length. Trees grow down in the old moat; pretty creeping
plants drop in festoons and knots from the top and face of the
shore-wall; birds hop and sing in bending branches that dip in the
water. The “thousand years of snow on high” are verdant slopes below.
“The white-walled distant town,” “the channeled rock,” “the torrent’s
leap and gush”—are as familiar to Byron’s reader as the fields and
hills about his childhood’s home, distinct as a photograph painted by
Swiss sunshine.

The scenery near Chillon is the grandest on Lake Leman, reminding
one of the snow-capped ramparts of Lucerne. When, at eleven o’clock
of the last day of October, we left the steamboat dock in front of
the Hôtel Russie in Geneva, sky and wave were still and smiling. Mont
Blanc drew a cowl over his face by the time we touched the Nyon pier.
But the ugly old town had never been more nearly sightly. The five
Roman towers of the ancient castle were softly outlined against the
blue; the browns, grays and blacks of the houses, crowding into the
lake, were foil and relief to the scarlet and gold of massy vines,
the russet and purple and lemon-yellow of the trees on the esplanade
and the steep, winding streets. The cowl unfolded into mantling mist
upon “the left bank” (our right) as we sailed by Vevay, the “livest”
town on the upper lake. A company of school-boys in uniform were
drilling in the parade-ground close to the wharf, to the music of drum
and fife, a herd of _gamins_ peering enviously at them between the
pales of the fence. Window-gardens were flush with petunias, salvias
and pelargoniums. Woodbine streamed, as with living blood, from
hotel-balconies and garden-walls. The “grape-cure” was over and the
bulk of the vintage gathered, but purple bunches hung still among the
dying leaves,—luscious gleanings for the peasant-children trampling the
mellow soil with bare toes, and cheering shrilly as the boat glided
by. Clarens—“Julie’s” home—a village of pink, buff and pea-green
houses, more like painted sugar châteaux than human habitations,
harmonized better with the autumnal tints of aspen and poplar than
with their vernal green. The chestnut copse, known as the “_Bosquet
de Julie_,”—where she gave the first kiss to her lover, was like fine
gold for depth and brilliancy of hue. Montreux lies in the hollow of
a crescent-shaped cove, sheltered from adverse winds from whatever
quarter, a warm covert for invalids, where roses blossom eternally in
sight of never-melted snows. The bristly spines of mountains are its
rear-guard, and upon their lower terraces are hedges of evergreen
laurels, orchards of figs and pomegranates.

Thus far, we had sunshine and color with us, while, upon the other
shore, the stealing fogs kept pace with our progress,—a level line
at the lower edge which rested mid-way up the sides of the nearer
mountains, but gradually encroaching upon the blue above, until, when
we stepped ashore at Chillon, the sun began to look wan. The days were
shortening rapidly at this season. To save time, we took a carriage at
the wharf and drove directly to the Château through the hamlet that has
taken its name.

“GOD _bless the ingoers and outcomers_!” is the German legend above the
entrance, put there by the pious Bernese in 1643.

Our guide was a rosy Savoyard girl in blue skirt, scarlet bodice and
white apron. Dangling a bunch of ponderous keys from her forefinger,
she tripped across a courtyard shut in by the tall buildings and peaked
roofs, and paved with round stones, to a flight of cellar-steps. Just
such cellar-steps as are used by farmers’ wives and dairymaids in going
to and from buttery and cream-room. The descent of six or eight stairs,
worn and uneven, brought us to the subterranean chapel of the Dukes
of Savoy, a long, low room floored with roughened stones, the ceiling
supported by four thick pillars, and so dim, on the windowless side, as
to cast doubt upon the received theory of its original uses. Although
Religion, as understood and practised by thirteenth century lordlings
and their vassals, was a thing that lurked in and filled the dark
places of the earth. Next, was a small room, not eight feet square,
where the condemned by the worshipers in the adjoining chapel, passed
the night preceding his execution. A niche in the rear wall was filled
to half its height by a sloping ledge,—a rocky bed, inclining upward
at the head. On this, the doomed wretch lay until the morning looked
in upon his misery through the slit in the outer wall. This series of
vaults was supplied with all the ancient improvements for executions.
In the third apartment a black bar, extending across the cell, was the
gallows, and in the wall near the floor an aperture, now closed with
rude masonry, finished the drama with business-like promptness, being
the “_chute_” into eight hundred feet of water.

    “Lake Leman lies by Chillon’s walls,
     A thousand feet in depth below,
     Its massy waters meet and flow.”

Two hundred feet, more or less, do not materially alter the story, or
diminish or increase the horror.

Bonnivard’s prison—_the_ dungeon of Chillon—is beyond the cell of
execution and the last of the grim suite of basement state-apartments.
The Prisoner of Chillon may have been the child of the poet’s brain.
Bonnivard was not a myth. Three times in arms against the ravening
beasts of war, known by the courtesy of history, as Dukes of Savoy, and
twice a prisoner, he was, at his second capture, immured in the Castle
of Chillon. Six weary years were spent by him in this rocky dungeon.
During two of these, he was chained to one of the “seven pillars of
Gothic mold” upbearing the ceiling. A stone of irregular shape is
embedded in the floor at its base. I sat down upon it; put my feet into
the hollow worn by his, as he rested thus, night after night, day by
day, year upon year!

The girl had disappeared, in answer to a call from the outer-room.
Caput leaned against the pillar beside me. We could just trace the
circle beaten out of the solid stone by the prisoner’s measured pacing,
around the pillar as far as the chain would let him go,—then, back
again. It is plain enough by day, but the light was failing where we
were. Caput struck a match and held it close to the mournful little
track;—another, that we might decipher Byron’s name upon the “autograph
column.” Then, the blue flame expired, and the gloom was deeper
than before. We hearkened silently to the lap of the lake against
the foundation-stones, and the moan of the rising wind; watched the
glimmering slits, without glass or shutters, that admitted light and
air.

    “A double dungeon wall and wave
     Have made—and like a living grave!”

quoted Caput. “It is worse! The dead do not dream!”

“Or hear!” I shuddered. “That dull ‘wash! wash!’ would drive me mad in
a week!”

Our little maid reäppeared, all out of breath, brimful of excuses for
having left us so long. We were quitting the dungeon when I detected
gleams, as of soft eyes, in the darkest corner.

“_Mes fleurs!_” smiled the girl. “They are safe here from frost and
need rest after blooming so well all summer. I bring them in every
winter. Would madame like some?”

She clipped and broke until I checked her liberality. The gleams that
had caught my eye were large Marguerites, with lissome, white petals,
that scarcely discolored in the pressing and drying.

“If they were mine I should rather leave them to the winds and
frost than have them winter here!” I said, touching the branches
compassionately.

“_Plaît-il?_” answered the Savoyard, with wide, innocent eyes.

Across the court-yard, upon the ground-floor of another building, is
the chamber of torture. This, too, has its memorial pillar, a slender,
wooden post in the middle of the room. To this, the prisoner was bound
for scourging.

“Sometimes they used whips,” said the guide. “Sometimes,——” she pointed
to scorched places on the seasoned wood.

The flesh tingles at sight of these dumb records, burned in upon the
memories of Protestants of that day, as they are into the surface of
the post. The scourge, in the cases of extreme offenders against ducal
and ecclesiastical law, was of fine wire, tipped with red-hot iron or
steel. When these missed the back of the victim, they wrote legibly and
lastingly upon the pillar of flagellation. There were other “ancient
improvements” here once, but they have been removed.

One of note was exhibited in another room,—“_the oubliettes_,”
sometimes called, “the well of promise.” Both names are significant
enough. It is an opening in the floor, fenced in with stout rails.
Four stone steps slant downward from the brink. The eye cannot pierce
the obscurity of the chasm. To the edge of this, then undefended well,
the tried and secretly-condemned prisoner was led, blindfolded, and
instructed to step down a staircase that would lead him into the outer
air and to liberty. The abyss is eighty feet deep. The bottom was set
with sharp knives.

Upon the second floor are the “family rooms,” the Duke’s bed-chamber
and the boudoir of the Duchess. This last is not large, and
so badly-lighted, that she must have required candles on the
toilette-table, except in the brightest weather. The walls are covered
with what masons style a “scratch-coat” of mortar. It was hung with
tapestry when Chillon was a ducal palace. This boudoir is immediately
above the chamber of torture. When we exclaimed at the proximity, the
girl explained, naïvely, that their Highnesses did not live here all
the year, having other residences. Probably, the operation of rack,
spiked helmet and collar, thumb-screw and scourging-post was subject to
the convenience of the Duchess. All the same, we wondered how she slept
with but the plank flooring between her and what she knew of, down
there.

The window of her room frames a superb view, on fine days, of the
“wide, long lake,” the towering heights of the Savoy side, and the
“small, green isle” with its three trees. Looking out of it, now, we
saw only the water darkening under the wreathing mists that had chased
us all the way from Nyon, and ruffled by the wind. In the spacious
Knight’s Hall to which we went next, we could barely discern the stains
on the walls that were once frescos, and make out the design of the
carved mantel around the mighty-mouthed chimney-place. The windows
are all toward the lake and deeply recessed, with broad inner ledges.
Within one of these embrasures we sat, gazing upon the slowly-gathering
storm, and listening to the “knocking”—Byron used the right word,—of
the sullen waves, our little Savoyard attending motionless upon our
pleasure. We were going no further than Montreux that night, and our
carriage would wait. We would see—we did see—Chillon upon brighter days
and in merrier company. It suited us to linger and dream, in the weird
twilight, of what had been in the isolated stronghold,—of what, pray
Heaven! could never be again.

The girl brought a lamp to guide us to the Duke’s private chapel.
The altar is gone, but the choristers’ seats of carved oak are left.
Benches are disposed in orderly rows for the Protestant service, held
here twice in the month. Chillon Castle is still a prison,—a cantonal
penitentiary,—in plainer English—a county jail. Upon each alternate
Sabbath, the inmates are gathered into the chapel, and one of the
neighborhood pastors ministers to them.

In the court-yard we stopped to gather some yellow-blossomed moss
sprouting between the stones, and our Savoyard damsel added to my
bouquet of prison-flowers, scarlet and brown leaves from the woodbine
running rankly over the tower in which is the torture-chamber. She
stood upon the drawbridge as we drove away, a stalwart young turnkey
at her side,—who, by the way, had narrowly missed locking us into the
lower cells by mistake. Her smiling face, red bodice and white apron
were the only spots of brightness in the gray-and-black picture of the
frowning fortress, close-folded in the mists and the rolling glooms of
the water.

We thought of the Marguerites in the dungeon.


FINIS.



A NEW VOLUME

_In the “Common Sense in the Household” Series._

THE DINNER YEAR-BOOK.

By MARION HARLAND,

Author of “COMMON SENSE IN THE HOUSEHOLD,” “BREAKFAST, LUNCHEON, AND
TEA,” etc., etc.

_WITH SIX ORIGINAL FULL-PAGE COLORED PLATES._

=One vol. 12mo, 720 pages, beautifully bound in cloth. Price $2.25.=

KITCHEN EDITION IN OIL-CLOTH COVERS AT SAME PRICE.

THE DINNER YEAR-BOOK is, in its name, happily descriptive of its
purposes and character. It occupies a place which, amid all the
publications upon cookery—and their name is Legion—=has never yet been
occupied=.

The author truly says that there have been _dinner-giving_ books
published, that is, books of _menus_ for company dinings, “Little
Dinners,” for especial occasions, etc., etc.; but that she has never
yet met with a =practical directory= of this important meal =for every
day in the year=. In this volume she has furnished the programme in
all its details, and has superintended the preparation of each dish,
proceeding even to the proper manner of serving it at table. =The book
has been prepared for the family, for the home of ordinary means, and
it has hit the happy line where elegance and economy meet.=

The most numerous testimonials to the value of Marion Harland’s “Common
Sense” books which the publishers have received, both in newspaper
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The purchaser will find that he has bought what the name purports—_The
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and preparation, serving, etc., of the ordinary home dinner for every
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This book, however, is not valuable merely as a directory for dinners
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material for this work has been collected with great care both at home
and abroad, representing the diligent labor of many months. A very
marked feature of the new volume, and distinguishing it from any other
in the American market, is its =series of beautiful colored plates=,
the entire preparation of which has been the work of the author’s own
hand.

*** _The above books for sale by all booksellers, or will be sent, post
or express charges paid, upon receipt of the price by the publishers,_

    CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS,
    743 AND 745 BROADWAY NEW YORK



    “The very best, the most sensible, the most practical,
    the most honest book on this matter of getting up good
    dinners, and living in a decent, Christian way, that
    has yet found its way in our household.”—WATCHMAN AND
    REFLECTOR.



COMMON SENSE IN THE HOUSEHOLD.

A MANUAL OF PRACTICAL HOUSEWIFERY.

    =By MARION HARLAND=,
    Author of “Alone,” “Hidden Path,” “Nemesis,” &c., &c.

    One Vol. 12mo, cloth,        Price $1.75
    KITCHEN EDITION, IN OIL CLOTH COVERS, AT SAME PRICE

    _See what the Critics and Practical Housekeepers say about it:_

“In the hands of the author, whose name is well known in another
department of literature, the subject has been treated with
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successful in the concoction of a toothsome viand as in the composition
of a romance.”—_N. Y. Daily Tribune._

“It inspires us with a great respect for the housewifery of a literary
lady, and we cannot err in predicting for it a wide popularity.”—_N. Y.
Evening Post._

“Unites the merits of a trustworthy receipt-book with the freshness of
a familiar talk on household affairs.”—_Albany Evening Journal._

“The directions are clear, practical, and so good in their way that the
only wonder is how any one head could hold so many pots, kettles and
pans, and such a world of gastronomic good things.”—_Hearth and Home._

“The recipes are clearly expressed, easy to follow, and not at all
expensive. The suggestions about household affairs are _chic_. On a
test comparison with three other American cook-books, it comes out
ahead upon every count. Beyond this _experto credo_ nothing more need
be said.”—_Christian Union._



BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

BREAKFAST, LUNCHEON & TEA.

    One vol. 12mo, cloth,         Price $1.75.
    KITCHEN EDITION, IN OIL CLOTH COVERS, AT SAME PRICE.

*** _The above books for sale by all booksellers, or will be sent, post
or express charges paid, upon receipt of the price by the publishers,_

    CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS,
    743 AND 745 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.



NOW READY.—THE THIRD EDITION.

_THE SECOND SERIES._

SAXE HOLM’S STORIES.

    INCLUDING
    “The Four-Leaved Clover,” “My Tourmaline,”
    “Farmer Bassett’s Romance,” “Joe Hales’ Red Stockings,”
    “Susan Lawton’s Escape.”

    _1 vol. 12mo, cloth, $1.50._

CRITICAL NOTICES.

    “The second series of ‘Saxe Holm’s Stories’ well
    sustains the interest which has made the name of the
    author a subject of discussion with literary gossips,
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    “The second series is an elegant volume, and contains
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    to make the reputation of any story-writer. * * *
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    “The simplicity which marks Saxe Holm’s use of dialect
    is something which is difficult to describe. It pleases
    us in the reading, but escapes our critical grasp like
    a sunbeam. This is particularly observable in the first
    of these tales which comprise the second series of her
    stories.”—_New York Mail._

    “Whoever is the author, she is certainly entitled to
    the high credit of writing stories which charm by their
    sweetness, impress by their power, and hold attention
    by their originality.”—_Albany Argus._



SAXE HOLM’S STORIES.

_FIRST SERIES._

    “Draxy Miller’s Dowry,” “The Elder’s Wife,”
    “Whose Wife Was She?” “The One-Legged Dancers,”
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    “Esther Wynn’s Love Letters.”

    _1 vol. 12mo, cloth, $1.50._

    *** _The above books for sale by all booksellers,
    or will be sent, post or express charges paid, upon
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=“The charm of these nearly perfect stories lies in their exquisite
simplicity and most tender humor.”—PHILADELPHIA TIMES.=

    RUDDER GRANGE.

    By FRANK R. STOCKTON.

    _One Volume, 16mo, Extra Cloth, attractive bindings, $1.25._

“Humor like this is perennial.”—_Washington Post._

“Mr. Stockton has rare gifts for this style of writing, and has
developed in these papers remarkable genius.”—_Pittsburgh Gazette._

“A certain humorous seriousness over matters that are not serious
surrounds the story, even in its most indifferent parts, with an
atmosphere, an aroma of very quaint and delightful humor.”—_N. Y.
Evening Post._

“Mr. Stockton’s vein of humor is a fresh and rich one, that affords
pleasure to mature people as well as to young ones. Thus far, ‘Rudder
Grange’ is his best effort.”—_Philadelphia Bulletin._

“Rudder Grange is an ideal book to take into the country for summer
reading.”—_Portland Press._

“Rudder Grange is really a very delightful piece of fooling, but, like
all fooling that is worth the while, it has point and purpose.”—_Phil.
Telegraph._

“The odd conceit of making his young couple try their hands at
house-keeping first in an old canal boat, suggests many droll
situations, which the author improves with a frolicsome humor that is
all his own.”—_Worcester Spy._

“There is in these chapters a rare and captivating drollery.... We have
had more pleasure in reading them over again than we had when they
first appeared in the magazine.”—_Congregationalist._

    *** _The above book for sale by all booksellers, or
    will be sent, prepaid, upon receipt of price, by_

    CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS, PUBLISHERS,
    743 AND 745 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.



The best Biography of the Greatest of the Romans.

CÆSAR: A SKETCH.

    BY
    JAMES ANTHONY FROUDE, M.A.

    One vol., 8vo, cloth, with a Steel Portrait and a Map.
    Price, $2.50.

There is no historical writer of our time who can rival Mr. Froude
in vivid delineation of character, grace and clearness of style,
and elegant and solid scholarship. In his _Life of Cæsar_, all
these qualities appear in their fullest perfection, resulting in
a fascinating narrative which will be read with keen delight by a
multitude of readers, and will enhance, if possible, Mr. Froude’s
brilliant reputation.

CRITICAL NOTICES.

    “The book is charmingly written, and, on the whole,
    wisely written. There are many admirable, really noble,
    passages; there are hundreds of pages which few living
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    explained with singular lucidity, and with what seems
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    of Roman society under the rule of the magnates
    is painted with startling power and brilliance of
    coloring.—_Atlantic Monthly._

    “Mr. Froude’s latest work, “Cæsar,” is affluent of his
    most distinctive traits. Nothing that he has written
    is more brilliant, more incisive, more interesting. *
    * * He combines into a compact and nervous narrative
    all that is known of the personal, social, political,
    and military life of Cæsar; and with his sketch of
    Cæsar, includes other brilliant sketches of the great
    men, his friends or rivals, who contemporaneously
    with him formed the principal figures in the Roman
    world.”—_Harper’s Monthly._

    “This book is a most fascinating biography, and is by
    far the best account of Julius Cæsar to be found in the
    English language.”—_London Standard._

    “It is the best biography of the greatest of the Romans
    we have, and it is in some respects Mr. Froude’s best
    piece of historical writing.”—_Hartford Courant._

    “Mr. Froude has given the public the best of all recent
    books on the life, character and career of Julius
    Cæsar.”—_Phila. Eve. Bulletin._

*** _For sale by all booksellers, or will be sent, prepaid, upon
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Haworth’s

    BY
    _FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT_,

    Author of “THAT LASS O’LOWRIE’S.”

    One Vol. 12mo, Illustrated. Price, $1.50.

    The publication of a new novel from Mrs. Burnett’s pen
    has become an event of more than ordinary moment, both
    to the critics and the public; and =HAWORTH’S= fulfills
    the best anticipations of both. It is in the direct
    line of development of the author’s strongest traits,
    and marks a higher point than was reached even in the
    best passages of her first story.

_CRITICAL NOTICES._

“_Haworth’s_ is a product of genius of a very high order—a piece of
work which will hold a permanent place in literature; one of those
masterly performances that rise wholly above the plane of light
literature upon which novels are generally placed.”—_Evening Post._

“It is but faint praise to speak of _Haworth’s_ as merely a good
novel. It is one of the few great novels.... As a story, it is alive
throughout with a thrilling interest which does not flag from beginning
to end, and, besides the story, there is in it a wonderfully clever
study of human nature.”—_Hartford Courant._

“_Haworth’s_ will unquestionably be acknowledged one of the great
literary achievements of the day. The chief feature is its intense
dramatic power. It consists almost wholly of vividly-presented
pictures, which so impress themselves on the mind of the reader, that
the effect is more that of seeing the story acted than of reading
it.”—_Boston Post._

“Conversation and incident move naturally and with perfect freedom, yet
there is not a page which does not essentially aid in the development
of plot.... The handsome illustrations are in tone and keeping with the
spirit of the book.”—_Buffalo Courier._

“The book is original, powerful, helpful, dramatic, vivid and great.
Every character is cut with the distinctness of a cameo, and every one
is unique.... The art of the volume is perfect. Every word is needed to
effect the result. The pictures fit into one another. The whole is a
faultless mosaic.”—_Albany Argus._

    *** _For sale by all booksellers, or will be sent, prepaid, upon
            receipt of price, by_

    CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS,
    743 AND 745 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.



DR. J. G. HOLLAND’S _POPULAR NOVELS_.

    Each one vol., 12mo, cloth, - - - - $1.75.


NICHOLAS MINTURN:

_A Study in a Story. Illustrated._

“It is unquestionably DR. HOLLAND’S ablest production. The characters
are sketched by a master hand, the incidents are realistic, the
progress of events rapid, and the tone pure and healthy. The book is
superbly illustrated.”—_Rock Island Union._

“_Nicholas Minturn_ is the most real novel, or rather life-story, yet
produced by any American writer.”—_Philadelphia Press._


SEVENOAKS:

_A Story of To-Day. Illustrated._

“DR. HOLLAND has added a leaf to his laurels. In _Sevenoaks_, he has
given us a thoroughly good novel, with the distinctive qualities
of a work of literary art. As a story, it is thoroughly readable;
the action is rapid, but not hurried; there is no flagging, and no
dullness.”—_Christian Union._


ARTHUR BONNICASTLE:

_A Story of American Life. Illustrated._

“The narrative is pervaded by a fine poetical spirit that is alive to
the subtle graces of character, as well as to the tender influences of
natural scenes.... Its chief merits must be placed in its graphic and
expressive portraitures of character, its tenderness and delicacy of
sentiment, its touches of heartfelt pathos, and the admirable wisdom
and soundness of its ethical suggestions.”—_N. Y. Tribune._

    *** _The above books for sale by all booksellers, or
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“=Two as Interesting and valuable books of travel as have been
published in this country.=”

                                          NEW YORK EXPRESS.

    _DR. FIELD’S TRAVELS ROUND THE WORLD._

    I.
    FROM THE LAKES OF KILLARNEY TO THE
    GOLDEN HORN.

    II.
    FROM EGYPT TO JAPAN.

    By HENRY M. FIELD, D.D., Editor of the N. Y. Evangelist.

    Each 1 vol. 12mo. Cloth, gilt top, uniform in style, $2.

    CRITICAL NOTICES.

    By George Ripley, LL.D., in the New York Tribune.

    Few recent travellers combine so many qualities that
    are adapted to command the Interest and sympathy of
    the public. While he indulges, to its fullest extent,
    the characteristic American curiosity with regard to
    foreign lands, insisting on seeing every object of
    interest with his own eyes, shrinking from no peril
    or difficulty in pursuit of information—climbing
    mountains, descending mines, exploring pyramids,
    with no sense of satiety or weariness, he has also
    made a faithful study of the highest authorities on
    the different subjects of his narrative, thus giving
    solidity and depth to his descriptions, without
    sacrificing their facility or grace.

From the New York Observer.

    The present volume comprises by far the most novel,
    romantic, and interesting part of the Journey [Round
    the World], and the story of it is told and the scenes
    are painted by the hand of a master of the pen. Dr.
    Field is a veteran traveller; he knows well what to
    see, and (which is still more important to the reader)
    he knows well what to describe and how to do it.

By Chas. Dudley Warner, in the Hartford Courant.

    It is thoroughly entertaining; the reader’s interest is
    never allowed to flag; the author carries us forward
    from land to land with uncommon vivacity, enlivens
    the way with a good humor, a careful observation, and
    treats all peoples with a refreshing liberality.

From Rev. Dr. R. S. Storrs.

    It is indeed a charming book—full of fresh information,
    picturesque description, and thoughtful studies of men,
    countries, and civilizations.

From Prof. Roswell D. Hitchcock, D.D.

    In this second volume, Dr. Field, I think, has
    surpassed himself in the first, and this is saying
    a good deal. In both volumes the editorial instinct
    and habit are conspicuous, Dr. Prime has said that
    an editor should have six senses, the sixth being “a
    sense of the _interesting_.” Dr. Field has this to
    perfection. * * *

From the New York Herald.

    It would be impossible by extracts to convey an
    adequate idea of the variety, abundance, or picturesque
    freshness of these sketches of travel, without copying
    a great part of the book.

Rev. Wm. M. Taylor, D.D., In the Christian at Work.

    Dr. Field has an eye, if we may use a photographic
    illustration, with a great deal of collodion in it,
    so that he sees very clearly. He knows also how to
    describe just those things in the different places
    visited by him which an intelligent man wants to know
    about.


    *** _The above books for sale by all booksellers,
    or mill be sent, post or express charges paid, upon
    receipt of the price by the publishers,_

    CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS,
    743 AND 745 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired. Archaic spellings such as
“checquered” and “chabybeate” were retained as was the varied
hyphenation. Text also uses Hotel Bellevue and Hotel Belle Vue.

Page v, “Ollapodrida” changed to “Olla Podrida”

Pages 25 and 27, “Bronté” changed to “Brontë” (Here the Brontë) (or the
sisters Brontë)

Page 86, “brighest” changed to “brightest” (highest and brightest)

Page 90, “surburban” changed to “suburban” (our suburban towns)

Page 115, “faience” changed to “faïence” (faïence in a tumbling-down)

Page 118, “clerygman” changed to “clergyman” (applied to the clergyman)

Page 143, “Tuilleries” changed to “Tuileries” (Tuileries, where he had)

Page 145, “revolulution” changed to “revolution” (another
revolution—that)

Page 148, “l’infame” changed to “l’infâme” (fenêtre que l’infâme)

Page 149, “brulée” changed “brûlée” (burned (_brûlée_), but)

Pages 154 and 373, “chateau” changed to “château” (central château,
facing) (handsome château over)

Page 155, “regle” changed to “règle” (_en règle_ for a)

Page 162, “inquitude” changed to “inquietude” (and moral inquietude)

Page 166, poem, “cimitiere,” “chére,” and “légére” changed to
“cimetière,” “chère,” and “légère.”

Pages 205 and 240, “cocchiere” changed to “cocchière” (said our
_cocchière_) (the _cocchière_ upon)

Page 219, “quareled” changed to “quarrelled” (crows quarrelled at)

Page 228, “rilievo” changed to “relievo” (in basso-relievo)

Page 229, “dasies” changed to “daisies” (picked the daisies)

Page 230, “Réni” changed to “Reni” (by Guido Reni)

Page 233, “Réni’s” changed to “Reni’s” (containing Guido Reni’s)

Page 265, “stubborness” changed to “stubbornness” (a mule’s in
stubbornness)

Page 272, “deceiftul” changed “deceitful” (climate is deceitful)

Page 275, “Liliputian” changed “Lilliputian” (Lilliputian mansion, is)

Page 302, “propretor” changed “proprietor” (with the proprietor)

Page 359, “an” changed to “as” (level as an Illinois)

Page 370, “Goldnau” changed to “Goldau” (The Goldau Landslip)

Page 377, “heacons” changed to “beacons” (by one, as beacons)

Page 382, “feed” is past tense of “fee” in this instance so is correct
as printed.

Page 394, “chateaux” changed to “châteaux” (châteaux and humbler)

Page 404, “géne” changed to “gêne” (je vous gêne)

Pages 405 and 432, “Plait” changed to “Plaît” (Plaît-il?)





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