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Title: Saunterings
Author: Warner, Charles Dudley
Language: English
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By Charles Dudley Warner


I should not like to ask an indulgent and idle public to saunter about
with me under a misapprehension. It would be more agreeable to invite it
to go nowhere than somewhere; for almost every one has been somewhere,
and has written about it. The only compromise I can suggest is, that we
shall go somewhere, and not learn anything about it. The instinct of the
public against any thing like information in a volume of this kind is
perfectly justifiable; and the reader will perhaps discover that this is
illy adapted for a text-book in schools, or for the use of competitive
candidates in the civil-service examinations.

Years ago, people used to saunter over the Atlantic, and spend weeks
in filling journals with their monotonous emotions. That is all
changed now, and there is a misapprehension that the Atlantic has been
practically subdued; but no one ever gets beyond the “rolling forties”
 without having this impression corrected.

I confess to have been deceived about this Atlantic, the roughest and
windiest of oceans. If you look at it on the map, it does n’t appear to
be much, and, indeed, it is spoken of as a ferry. What with the eight
and nine days’ passages over it, and the laying of the cable, which
annihilates distance, I had the impression that its tedious three
thousand and odd miles had been, somehow, partly done away with; but
they are all there. When one has sailed a thousand miles due east and
finds that he is then nowhere in particular, but is still out, pitching
about on an uneasy sea, under an inconstant sky, and that a thousand
miles more will not make any perceptible change, he begins to have some
conception of the unconquerable ocean. Columbus rises in my estimation.

I was feeling uncomfortable that nothing had been done for the memory
of Christopher Columbus, when I heard some months ago that thirty-seven
guns had been fired off for him in Boston. It is to be hoped that they
were some satisfaction to him. They were discharged by countrymen of
his, who are justly proud that he should have been able, after a search
of only a few weeks, to find a land where the hand-organ had never
been heard. The Italians, as a people, have not profited much by this
discovery; not so much, indeed, as the Spaniards, who got a reputation
by it which even now gilds their decay. That Columbus was born in Genoa
entitles the Italians to celebrate the great achievement of his life;
though why they should discharge exactly thirty-seven guns I do not
know. Columbus did not discover the United States: that we partly found
ourselves, and partly bought, and gouged the Mexicans out of. He did not
even appear to know that there was a continent here. He discovered
the West Indies, which he thought were the East; and ten guns would
be enough for them. It is probable that he did open the way to the
discovery of the New World. If he had waited, however, somebody else
would have discovered it,--perhaps some Englishman; and then we might
have been spared all the old French and Spanish wars. Columbus let the
Spaniards into the New World; and their civilization has uniformly been
a curse to it. If he had brought Italians, who neither at that time
showed, nor since have shown, much inclination to come, we should have
had the opera, and made it a paying institution by this time. Columbus
was evidently a person who liked to sail about, and did n’t care much
for consequences.

Perhaps it is not an open question whether Columbus did a good thing in
first coming over here, one that we ought to celebrate with salutes and
dinners. The Indians never thanked him, for one party. The Africans had
small ground to be gratified for the market he opened for them. Here
are two continents that had no use for him. He led Spain into a dance
of great expectations, which ended in her gorgeous ruin. He introduced
tobacco into Europe, and laid the foundation for more tracts and nervous
diseases than the Romans had in a thousand years. He introduced the
potato into Ireland indirectly; and that caused such a rapid increase
of population, that the great famine was the result, and an enormous
emigration to New York--hence Tweed and the constituency of the Ring.
Columbus is really responsible for New York. He is responsible for our
whole tremendous experiment of democracy, open to all comers, the best
three in five to win. We cannot yet tell how it is coming out, what with
the foreigners and the communists and the women. On our great stage we
are playing a piece of mingled tragedy and comedy, with what denouement
we cannot yet say. If it comes out well, we ought to erect a monument
to Christopher as high as the one at Washington expects to be; and we
presume it is well to fire a salute occasionally to keep the ancient
mariner in mind while we are trying our great experiment. And this
reminds me that he ought to have had a naval salute.

There is something almost heroic in the idea of firing off guns for a
man who has been stone-dead for about four centuries. It must have had
a lively and festive sound in Boston, when the meaning of the salute was
explained. No one could hear those great guns without a quicker beating
of the heart in gratitude to the great discoverer who had made Boston
possible. We are trying to “realize” to ourselves the importance of the
12th of October as an anniversary of our potential existence. If any one
wants to see how vivid is the gratitude to Columbus, let him start out
among our business-houses with a subscription-paper to raise money for
powder to be exploded in his honor. And yet Columbus was a well-meaning
man; and if he did not discover a perfect continent, he found the only
one that was left.

Columbus made voyaging on the Atlantic popular, and is responsible for
much of the delusion concerning it. Its great practical use in this fast
age is to give one an idea of distance and of monotony.

I have listened in my time with more or less pleasure to very rollicking
songs about the sea, the flashing brine, the spray and the tempest’s
roar, the wet sheet and the flowing sea, a life on the ocean wave, and
all the rest of it. To paraphrase a land proverb, let me write the songs
of the sea, and I care not who goes to sea and sings ‘em. A square yard
of solid ground is worth miles of the pitching, turbulent stuff. Its
inability to stand still for one second is the plague of it. To lie on
deck when the sun shines, and swing up and down, while the waves run
hither and thither and toss their white caps, is all well enough to lie
in your narrow berth and roll from side to side all night long; to walk
uphill to your state-room door, and, when you get there, find you have
got to the bottom of the hill, and opening the door is like lifting up
a trap-door in the floor; to deliberately start for some object, and,
before you know it, to be flung against it like a bag of sand; to
attempt to sit down on your sofa, and find you are sitting up; to slip
and slide and grasp at everything within reach, and to meet everybody
leaning and walking on a slant, as if a heavy wind were blowing, and the
laws of gravitation were reversed; to lie in your berth, and hear all
the dishes on the cabin-table go sousing off against the wall in a
general smash; to sit at table holding your soup-plate with one hand,
and watching for a chance to put your spoon in when it comes high tide
on your side of the dish; to vigilantly watch, the lurch of the heavy
dishes while holding your glass and your plate and your knife and fork,
and not to notice it when Brown, who sits next you, gets the whole swash
of the gravy from the roast-beef dish on his light-colored pantaloons,
and see the look of dismay that only Brown can assume on such an
occasion; to see Mrs. Brown advance to the table, suddenly stop and
hesitate, two waiters rush at her, with whom she struggles wildly,
only to go down in a heap with them in the opposite corner; to see her
partially recover, but only to shoot back again through her state-room
door, and be seen no more;--all this is quite pleasant and refreshing
if you are tired of land, but you get quite enough of it in a couple
of weeks. You become, in time, even a little tired of the Jew who goes
about wishing “he vas a veek older;” and the eccentric man, who looks
at no one, and streaks about the cabin and on deck, without any purpose,
and plays shuffle-board alone, always beating himself, and goes on the
deck occasionally through the sky-light instead of by the cabin
door, washes himself at the salt-water pump, and won’t sleep in his
state-room, saying he is n’t used to sleeping in a bed,--as if the hard
narrow, uneasy shelf of a berth was anything like a bed!--and you have
heard at last pretty nearly all about the officers, and their twenty
and thirty years of sea-life, and every ocean and port on the habitable
globe where they have been. There comes a day when you are quite ready
for land, and the scream of the “gull” is a welcome sound.

Even the sailors lose the vivacity of the first of the voyage. The first
two or three days we had their quaint and half-doleful singing in chorus
as they pulled at the ropes: now they are satisfied with short
ha-ho’s, and uncadenced grunts. It used to be that the leader sang,
in ever-varying lines of nonsense, and the chorus struck in with fine
effect, like this:

  “I wish I was in Liverpool town.   Handy-pan, handy O!
  O captain! where ‘d you ship your crew   Handy-pan, handy O!
  Oh! pull away, my bully crew,   Handy-pan, handy O!”

There are verses enough of this sort to reach across the Atlantic; and
they are not the worst thing about it either, or the most tedious. One
learns to respect this ocean, but not to love it; and he leaves it with
mingled feelings about Columbus.

And now, having crossed it,--a fact that cannot be concealed,--let us
not be under the misapprehension that we are set to any task other than
that of sauntering where it pleases us.



I wonder if it is the Channel? Almost everything is laid to the Channel:
it has no friends. The sailors call it the nastiest bit of water in the
world. All travelers anathematize it. I have now crossed it three times
in different places, by long routes and short ones, and have always
found it as comfortable as any sailing anywhere, sailing being one of
the most tedious and disagreeable inventions of a fallen race. But such
is not the usual experience: most people would make great sacrifices
to avoid the hour and three quarters in one of those loathsome little
Channel boats,--they always call them loathsome, though I did n’t see
but they are as good as any boats. I have never found any boat that
hasn’t a detestable habit of bobbing round. The Channel is hated: and no
one who has much to do with it is surprised at the projects for bridging
it and for boring a hole under it; though I have scarcely ever met an
Englishman who wants either done,--he does not desire any more facile
communication with the French than now exists. The traditional hatred
may not be so strong as it was, but it is hard to say on which side is
the most ignorance and contempt of the other.

It must be the Channel: that is enough to produce a physical
disagreement even between the two coasts; and there cannot be a greater
contrast in the cultivated world than between the two lands lying so
close to each other; and the contrast of their capitals is even more
decided,--I was about to say rival capitals, but they have not enough
in common to make them rivals. I have lately been over to London for a
week, going by the Dieppe and New Haven route at night, and returning
by another; and the contrasts I speak of were impressed upon me anew.
Everything here in and about Paris was in the green and bloom of
spring, and seemed to me very lovely; but my first glance at an English
landscape made it all seem pale and flat. We went up from New Haven
to London in the morning, and feasted our eyes all the way. The French
foliage is thin, spindling, sparse; the grass is thin and light in
color--in contrast. The English trees are massive, solid in substance
and color; the grass is thick, and green as emerald; the turf is like
the heaviest Wilton carpet. The whole effect is that of vegetable
luxuriance and solidity, as it were a tropical luxuriance, condensed and
hardened by northern influences. If my eyes remember well, the French
landscapes are more like our own, in spring tone, at least; but the
English are a revelation to us strangers of what green really is, and
what grass and trees can be. I had been told that we did well to see
England before going to the Continent, for it would seem small and only
pretty afterwards. Well, leaving out Switzerland, I have seen nothing in
that beauty which satisfies the eye and wins the heart to compare with
England in spring. When we annex it to our sprawling country which lies
out-doors in so many climates, it will make a charming little retreat
for us in May and June, a sort of garden of delight, whence we shall
draw our May butter and our June roses. It will only be necessary to put
it under glass to make it pleasant the year round.

When we passed within the hanging smoke of London town, threading our
way amid numberless railway tracks, sometimes over a road and sometimes
under one, now burrowing into the ground, and now running along among
the chimney-pots,--when we came into the pale light and the thickening
industry of a London day, we could but at once contrast Paris.
Unpleasant weather usually reduces places to an equality of
disagreeableness. But Paris, with its wide streets, light, handsome
houses, gay windows and smiling little parks and fountains, keeps up
a tolerably pleasant aspect, let the weather do its worst. But London,
with its low, dark, smutty brick houses and insignificant streets,
settles down hopelessly into the dumps when the weather is bad. Even
with the sun doing its best on the eternal cloud of smoke, it is dingy
and gloomy enough, and so dirty, after spick-span, shining Paris. And
there is a contrast in the matter of order and system; the lack of both
in London is apparent. You detect it in public places, in crowds, in the
streets. The “social evil” is bad enough in its demonstrations in Paris:
it is twice as offensive in London. I have never seen a drunken woman in
Paris: I saw many of them in the daytime in London. I saw men and
women fight in the streets,--a man kick and pound a woman; and nobody
interfered. There is a brutal streak in the Anglo-Saxon, I fear,--a
downright animal coarseness, that does not exhibit itself the other side
of the Channel. It is a proverb, that the London policemen are never
at hand. The stout fellows with their clubs look as if they might do
service; but what a contrast they are to the Paris sergents de ville!
The latter, with his dress-coat, cocked hat, long rapier, white gloves,
neat, polite, attentive, alert,--always with the manner of a jesuit
turned soldier,--you learn to trust very much, if not respect; and you
feel perfectly secure that he will protect you, and give you your rights
in any corner of Paris. It does look as if he might slip that slender
rapier through your body in a second, and pull it out and wipe it,
and not move a muscle; but I don’t think he would do it unless he were
directly ordered to. He would not be likely to knock you down and drag
you out, in mistake for the rowdy who was assaulting you.

A great contrast between the habits of the people of London and Paris is
shown by their eating and drinking. Paris is brilliant with cafes: all
the world frequents them to sip coffee (and too often absinthe), read
the papers, and gossip over the news; take them away, as all travelers
know, and Paris would not know itself. There is not a cafe in London:
instead of cafes, there are gin-mills; instead of light wine, there is
heavy beer. The restaurants and restaurant life are as different as can
be. You can get anything you wish in Paris: you can live very cheaply or
very dearly, as you like. The range is more limited in London. I do not
fancy the usual run of Paris restaurants. You get a great deal for your
money, in variety and quantity; but you don’t exactly know what it is:
and in time you tire of odds and ends, which destroy your hunger without
exactly satisfying you. For myself, after a pretty good run of French
cookery (and it beats the world for making the most out of little), when
I sat down again to what the eminently respectable waiter in white and
black calls “a dinner off the Joint, sir,” with what belongs to it, and
ended up with an attack on a section of a cheese as big as a bass-drum,
not to forget a pewter mug of amber liquid, I felt as if I had touched
bottom again,--got something substantial, had what you call a square
meal. The English give you the substantials, and better, I believe, than
any other people. Thackeray used to come over to Paris to get a good
dinner now and then. I have tried his favorite restaurant here, the
cuisine of which is famous far beyond the banks of the Seine; but I
think if he, hearty trencher-man that he was, had lived in Paris, he
would have gone to London for a dinner oftener than he came here.

And as for a lunch,--this eating is a fascinating theme,--commend me to
a quiet inn of England. We happened to be out at Kew Gardens the other
afternoon. You ought to go to Kew, even if the Duchess of Cambridge is
not at home. There is not such a park out of England, considering
how beautiful the Thames is there. What splendid trees it has! the
horse-chestnut, now a mass of pink-and-white blossoms, from its
broad base, which rests on the ground, to its high rounded dome; the
hawthorns, white and red, in full flower; the sweeps and glades of
living green,--turf on which you walk with a grateful sense of drawing
life directly from the yielding, bountiful earth,--a green set out
and heightened by flowers in masses of color (a great variety of
rhododendrons, for one thing), to say nothing of magnificent greenhouses
and outlying flower-gardens. Just beyond are Richmond Hill and Hampton
Court, and five or six centuries of tradition and history and romance.
Before you enter the garden, you pass the green. On one side of it
are cottages, and on the other the old village church and its quiet
churchyard. Some boys were playing cricket on the sward, and children
were getting as intimate with the turf and the sweet earth as their
nurses would let them. We turned into a little cottage, which gave
notice of hospitality for a consideration; and were shown, by a pretty
maid in calico, into an upper room,--a neat, cheerful, common room,
with bright flowers in the open windows, and white muslin curtains
for contrast. We looked out on the green and over to the beautiful
churchyard, where one of England’s greatest painters, Gainsborough, lies
in rural repose. It is nothing to you, who always dine off the best at
home, and never encounter dirty restaurants and snuffy inns, or run the
gauntlet of Continental hotels, every meal being an experiment of great
interest, if not of danger, to say that this brisk little waitress
spread a snowy cloth, and set thereon meat and bread and butter and a
salad: that conveys no idea to your mind. Because you cannot see that
the loaf of wheaten bread was white and delicate, and full of the
goodness of the grain; or that the butter, yellow as a guinea, tasted of
grass and cows, and all the rich juices of the verdant year, and was not
mere flavorless grease; or that the cuts of roast beef, fat and
lean, had qualities that indicate to me some moral elevation in
the cattle,--high-toned, rich meat; or that the salad was crisp and
delicious, and rather seemed to enjoy being eaten, at least, did n’t
disconsolately wilt down at the prospect, as most salad does. I do not
wonder that Walter Scott dwells so much on eating, or lets his heroes
pull at the pewter mugs so often. Perhaps one might find a better lunch
in Paris, but he surely couldn’t find this one.


It was the first of May when we came up from Italy. The spring grew on
us as we advanced north; vegetation seemed further along than it was
south of the Alps. Paris was bathed in sunshine, wrapped in delicious
weather, adorned with all the delicate colors of blushing spring. Now
the horse-chestnuts are all in bloom and so is the hawthorn; and in
parks and gardens there are rows and alleys of trees, with blossoms
of pink and of white; patches of flowers set in the light green grass;
solid masses of gorgeous color, which fill all the air with perfume;
fountains that dance in the sunlight as if just released from prison;
and everywhere the soft suffusion of May. Young maidens who make their
first communion go into the churches in processions of hundreds, all
in white, from the flowing veil to the satin slipper; and I see them
everywhere for a week after the ceremony, in their robes of innocence,
often with bouquets of flowers, and attended by their friends; all
concerned making it a joyful holiday, as it ought to be. I hear, of
course, with what false ideas of life these girls are educated; how
they are watched before marriage; how the marriage is only one of
arrangement, and what liberty they eagerly seek afterwards. I met a
charming Paris lady last winter in Italy, recently married, who said
she had never been in the Louvre in her life; never had seen any of the
magnificent pictures or world-famous statuary there, because girls were
not allowed to go there, lest they should see something that they ought
not to see. I suppose they look with wonder at the young American girls
who march up to anything that ever was created, with undismayed front.

Another Frenchwoman, a lady of talent and the best breeding, recently
said to a friend, in entire unconsciousness that she was saying anything
remarkable, that, when she was seventeen, her great desire was to
marry one of her uncles (a thing not very unusual with the papal
dispensation), in order to keep all the money in the family! That was
the ambition of a girl of seventeen.

I like, on these sunny days, to look into the Luxembourg Garden: nowhere
else is the eye more delighted with life and color. In the afternoon,
especially, it is a baby-show worth going far to see. The avenues
are full of children, whose animated play, light laughter, and happy
chatter, and pretty, picturesque dress, make a sort of fairy grove
of the garden; and all the nurses of that quarter bring their charges
there, and sit in the shade, sewing, gossiping, and comparing the merits
of the little dears. One baby differs from another in glory, I suppose;
but I think on such days that they are all lovely, taken in the mass,
and all in sweet harmony with the delicious atmosphere, the tender
green, and the other flowers of spring. A baby can’t do better than to
spend its spring days in the Luxembourg Garden.

There are several ways of seeing Paris besides roaming up and down
before the blazing shop-windows, and lounging by daylight or gaslight
along the crowded and gay boulevards; and one of the best is to go to
the Bois de Boulogne on a fete-day, or when the races are in progress.
This famous wood is very disappointing at first to one who has seen the
English parks, or who remembers the noble trees and glades and avenues
of that at Munich. To be sure, there is a lovely little lake and a
pretty artificial cascade, and the roads and walks are good; but the
trees are all saplings, and nearly all the “wood” is a thicket of small
stuff. Yet there is green grass that one can roll on, and there is a
grove of small pines that one can sit under. It is a pleasant place to
drive toward evening; but its great attraction is the crowd there. All
the principal avenues are lined with chairs, and there people sit to
watch the streams of carriages.

I went out to the Bois the other day, when there were races going on;
not that I went to the races, for I know nothing about them, per se,
and care less. All running races are pretty much alike. You see a lean
horse, neck and tail, flash by you, with a jockey in colors on his back;
and that is the whole of it. Unless you have some money on it, in the
pool or otherwise, it is impossible to raise any excitement. The day
I went out, the Champs Elysees, on both sides, its whole length, was
crowded with people, rows and ranks of them sitting in chairs and on
benches. The Avenue de l’Imperatrice, from the Arc de l’Etoile to the
entrance of the Bois, was full of promenaders; and the main avenues of
the Bois, from the chief entrance to the race-course, were lined with
people, who stood or sat, simply to see the passing show. There could
not have been less than ten miles of spectators, in double or triple
rows, who had taken places that afternoon to watch the turnouts of
fashion and rank. These great avenues were at all times, from three till
seven, filled with vehicles; and at certain points, and late in the day,
there was, or would have been anywhere else except in Paris, a jam. I
saw a great many splendid horses, but not so many fine liveries as
one will see on a swell-day in London. There was one that I liked. A
handsome carriage, with one seat, was drawn by four large and elegant
black horses, the two near horses ridden by postilions in blue and
silver,--blue roundabouts, white breeches and topboots, a round-topped
silver cap, and the hair, or wig, powdered, and showing just a little
behind. A footman mounted behind, seated, wore the same colors; and the
whole establishment was exceedingly tonnish.

The race-track (Longchamps, as it is called), broad and beautiful
springy turf, is not different from some others, except that the
inclosed oblong space is not flat, but undulating just enough for
beauty, and so framed in by graceful woods, and looked on by chateaux
and upland forests, that I thought I had never seen a sweeter bit of
greensward. St. Cloud overlooks it, and villas also regard it from other
heights. The day I saw it, the horse-chestnuts were in bloom; and there
was, on the edges, a cloud of pink and white blossoms, that gave a
soft and charming appearance to the entire landscape. The crowd in the
grounds, in front of the stands for judges, royalty, and people who are
privileged or will pay for places, was, I suppose, much as
usual,--an excited throng of young and jockey-looking men, with a few
women-gamblers in their midst, making up the pool; a pack of carriages
along the circuit of the track, with all sorts of people, except the
very good; and conspicuous the elegantly habited daughters of sin
and satin, with servants in livery, as if they had been born to it;
gentlemen and ladies strolling about, or reclining on the sward, and a
refreshment-stand in lively operation.

When the bell rang, we all cleared out from the track, and I happened to
get a position by the railing. I was looking over to the Pavilion, where
I supposed the Emperor to be, when the man next to me cried, “Voila!”
 and, looking up, two horses brushed right by my face, of which I saw
about two tails and one neck, and they were gone. Pretty soon they came
round again, and one was ahead, as is apt to be the case; and somebody
cried, “Bully for Therise!” or French to that effect, and it was all
over. Then we rushed across to the Emperor’s Pavilion, except that I
walked with all the dignity consistent with rapidity, and there, in
the midst of his suite, sat the Man of December, a stout, broad, and
heavy-faced man as you know, but a man who impresses one with a sense of
force and purpose,--sat, as I say, and looked at us through his narrow,
half-shut eyes, till he was satisfied that I had got his features
through my glass, when he deliberately arose and went in.

All Paris was out that day,--it is always out, by the way, when the sun
shines, and in whatever part of the city you happen to be; and it
seemed to me there was a special throng clear down to the gate of the
Tuileries, to see the Emperor and the rest of us come home. He went
round by the Rue Rivoli, but I walked through the gardens. The soldiers
from Africa sat by the gilded portals, as usual,--aliens, and yet always
with the port of conquerors here in Paris. Their nonchalant indifference
and soldierly bearing always remind me of the sort of force the Emperor
has at hand to secure his throne. I think the blouses must look askance
at these satraps of the desert. The single jet fountain in the basin was
springing its highest,--a quivering pillar of water to match the stone
shaft of Egypt which stands close by. The sun illuminated it, and threw
a rainbow from it a hundred feet long, upon the white and green dome
of chestnut-trees near. When I was farther down the avenue, I had the
dancing column of water, the obelisk, and the Arch of Triumph all in
line, and the rosy sunset beyond.


The Prince and Princess of Wales came up to Paris in the beginning of
May, from Italy, Egypt, and alongshore, stayed at a hotel on the Place
Vendome, where they can get beef that is not horse, and is rare, and
beer brewed in the royal dominions, and have been entertained with
cordiality by the Emperor. Among the spectacles which he has shown them
is one calculated to give them an idea of his peaceful intentions,-a
grand review of cavalry and artillery at the Bois de Boulogne. It always
seems to me a curious comment upon the state of our modern civilization,
when one prince visits another here in Europe, the first thing that the
visited does, by way of hospitality is to get out his troops, and show
his rival how easily he could “lick” him, if it came to that.

It is a little puerile. At any rate, it is an advance upon the old
fashion of getting up a joust at arms, and inviting the guest to come
out and have his head cracked in a friendly way.

The review, which had been a good deal talked about, came off in the
afternoon; and all the world went to it. The avenues of the Bois
were crowded with carriages, and the walks with footpads. Such a
constellation of royal personages met on one field must be seen; for,
besides the imperial family and Albert Edward and his Danish beauty,
there was to be the Archduke of Austria and no end of titled personages
besides. At three o’clock the royal company, in the Emperor’s carriages,
drove upon the training-ground of the Bois, where the troops awaited
them. All the party, except the Princess of Wales, then mounted horses,
and rode along the lines, and afterwards retired to a wood-covered knoll
at one end to witness the evolutions. The training-ground is a noble,
slightly undulating piece of greensward, perhaps three quarters of a
mile long and half that in breadth, hedged about with graceful trees,
and bounded on one side by the Seine. Its borders were rimmed that day
with thousands of people on foot and in carriages,--a gay sight, in
itself, of color and fashion. A more brilliant spectacle than the field
presented cannot well be imagined. Attention was divided between the
gentle eminence where the imperial party stood,--a throng of noble
persons backed by the gay and glittering Guard of the Emperor, as brave
a show as chivalry ever made,--and the field of green, with its long
lines in martial array; every variety of splendid uniforms, the colors
and combinations that most dazzle and attract, with shining brass and
gleaming steel, and magnificent horses of war, regiments of black, gray,
and bay.

The evolutions were such as to stir the blood of the most sluggish. A
regiment, full front, would charge down upon a dead run from the far
field, men shouting, sabers flashing, horses thundering along, so that
the ground shook, towards the imperial party, and, when near, stop
suddenly, wheel to right and left, and gallop back. Others would succeed
them rapidly, coming up the center while their predecessors filed down
the sides; so that the whole field was a moving mass of splendid color
and glancing steel. Now and then a rider was unhorsed in the furious
rush, and went scrambling out of harm, while the steed galloped off with
free rein. This display was followed by that of the flying artillery,
battalion after battalion, which came clattering and roaring along,
in double lines stretching half across the field, stopped and rapidly
discharged its pieces, waking up all the region with echoes, filling the
plain with the smoke of gunpowder, and starting into rearing activity
all the carriage-horses in the Bois. How long this continued I do not
know, nor how many men participated in the review, but they seemed to
pour up from the far end in unending columns. I think the regiments must
have charged over and over again. It gave some people the impression
that there were a hundred thousand troops on the ground. I set it at
fifteen to twenty thousand. Gallignani next morning said there were only
six thousand! After the charging was over, the reviewing party rode to
the center of the field, and the troops galloped round them; and the
Emperor distributed decorations. We could recognize the Emperor and
Empress; Prince Albert in huzzar uniform, with a green plume in his
cap; and the Prince Imperial, in cap and the uniform of a lieutenant, on
horseback in front; while the Princess occupied a carriage behind them.

There was a crush of people at the entrance to see the royals make their
exit. Gendarmes were busy, and mounted guards went smashing through
the crowd to clear a space. Everybody was on the tiptoe of expectation.
There is a portion of the Emperor’s guard; there is an officer of the
household; there is an emblazoned carriage; and, quick, there! with a
rush they come, driving as if there was no crowd, with imperial
haste, postilions and outriders and the imperial carriage. There is a
sensation, a cordial and not loud greeting, but no Yankee-like cheers.
That heavy gentleman in citizen’s dress, who looks neither to right nor
left, is Napoleon III.; that handsome woman, grown full in the face of
late, but yet with the bloom of beauty and the sweet grace of command,
in hat and dark riding-habit, bowing constantly to right and left,
and smiling, is the Empress Eugenie. And they are gone. As we look for
something more, there is a rout in the side avenue; something is coming,
unexpected, from another quarter: dragoons dash through the dense mass,
shouting and gesticulating, and a dozen horses go by, turning the corner
like a small whirlwind, urged on by whip and spur, a handsome boy riding
in the midst,--a boy in cap and simple uniform, riding gracefully and
easily and jauntily, and out of sight in a minute. It is the boy Prince
Imperial and his guard. It was like him to dash in unexpectedly, as he
has broken into the line of European princes. He rides gallantly, and
Fortune smiles on him to-day; but he rides into a troubled future. There
was one more show,--a carriage of the Emperor, with officers, in English
colors and side-whiskers, riding in advance and behind: in it the future
King of England, the heavy, selfish-faced young man, and beside him his
princess, popular wherever she shows her winning face,--a fair, sweet
woman, in light and flowing silken stuffs of spring, a vision of lovely
youth and rank, also gone in a minute.

These English visitors are enjoying the pleasures of the French capital.
On Sunday, as I passed the Hotel Bristol, a crowd, principally English,
was waiting in front of it to see the Prince and Princess come out,
and enter one of the Emperor’s carriages in waiting. I heard an
Englishwoman, who was looking on with admiration “sticking out” all
over, remark to a friend in a very loud whisper, “I tell you, the Prince
lives every day of his life.” The princely pair came out at length, and
drove away, going to visit Versailles. I don’t know what the Queen would
think of this way of spending Sunday; but if Albert Edward never does
anything worse, he does n’t need half the praying for that he gets every
Sunday in all the English churches and chapels.



They have not yet found out the secret in France of banishing dust from
railway-carriages. Paris, late in June, was hot, but not dusty: the
country was both. There is an uninteresting glare and hardness in
a French landscape on a sunny day. The soil is thin, the trees are
slender, and one sees not much luxury or comfort. Still, one does
not usually see much of either on a flying train. We spent a night at
Amiens, and had several hours for the old cathedral, the sunset light
on its noble front and towers and spire and flying buttresses, and the
morning rays bathing its rich stone. As one stands near it in front,
it seems to tower away into heaven, a mass of carving and
sculpture,--figures of saints and martyrs who have stood in the sun and
storm for ages, as they stood in their lifetime, with a patient waiting.
It was like a great company, a Christian host, in attitudes of praise
and worship. There they were, ranks on ranks, silent in stone, when
the last of the long twilight illumined them; and there in the same
impressive patience they waited the golden day. It required little fancy
to feel that they had lived, and now in long procession came down the
ages. The central portal is lofty, wide, and crowded with figures. The
side is only less rich than the front. Here the old Gothic builders let
their fancy riot in grotesque gargoyles,--figures of animals, and imps
of sin, which stretch out their long necks for waterspouts above. From
the ground to the top of the unfinished towers is one mass of rich
stone-work, the creation of genius that hundreds of years ago knew no
other way to write its poems than with the chisel. The interior is very
magnificent also, and has some splendid stained glass. At eight o’clock,
the priests were chanting vespers to a larger congregation than many
churches have on Sunday: their voices were rich and musical, and, joined
with the organ notes, floated sweetly and impressively through the dim
and vast interior. We sat near the great portal, and, looking down the
long, arched nave and choir to the cluster of candles burning on the
high altar, before which the priests chanted, one could not but remember
how many centuries the same act of worship had been almost uninterrupted
within, while the apostles and martyrs stood without, keeping watch of
the unchanging heavens.

When I stepped in, early in the morning, the first mass was in progress.
The church was nearly empty. Looking within the choir, I saw two stout
young priests lustily singing the prayers in deep, rich voices. One
of them leaned back in his seat, and sang away, as if he had taken
a contract to do it, using, from time to time, an enormous red
handkerchief, with which and his nose he produced a trumpet obligato. As
I stood there, a poor dwarf bobbled in and knelt on the bare stones, and
was the only worshiper, until, at length, a half-dozen priests swept
in from the sacristy, and two processions of young school-girls entered
from either side. They have the skull of John the Baptist in this
cathedral. I did not see it, although I suppose I could have done so for
a franc to the beadle: but I saw a very good stone imitation of it; and
his image and story fill the church. It is something to have seen the
place that contains his skull.

The country becomes more interesting as one gets into Belgium. Windmills
are frequent: in and near Lille are some six hundred of them; and they
are a great help to a landscape that wants fine trees. At Courtrai,
we looked into Notre Dame, a thirteenth century cathedral, which has a
Vandyke (“The Raising of the Cross”), and the chapel of the Counts
of Flanders, where workmen were uncovering some frescoes that were
whitewashed over in the war-times. The town hall has two fine old
chimney-pieces carved in wood, with quaint figures,--work that one must
go to the Netherlands to see. Toward evening we came into the ancient
town of Bruges. The country all day has been mostly flat, but thoroughly
cultivated. Windmills appear to do all the labor of the people,--raising
the water, grinding the grain, sawing the lumber; and they everywhere
lift their long arms up to the sky. Things look more and more what we
call “foreign.” Harvest is going on, of hay and grain; and men and women
work together in the fields. The gentle sex has its rights here. We saw
several women acting as switch-tenders. Perhaps the use of the switch
comes natural to them. Justice, however, is still in the hands of the
men. We saw a Dutch court in session in a little room in the town hall
at Courtrai. The justice wore a little red cap, and sat informally
behind a cheap table. I noticed that the witnesses were treated with
unusual consideration, being allowed to sit down at the table opposite
the little justice, who interrogated them in a loud voice. At the
stations to-day we see more friars in coarse, woolen dresses, and
sandals, and the peasants with wooden sabots.

As the sun goes to the horizon, we have an effect sometimes produced
by the best Dutch artists,--a wonderful transparent light, in which the
landscape looks like a picture, with its church-spires of stone, its
windmills, its slender trees, and red-roofed houses. It is a good light
and a good hour in which to enter Bruges, that city of the past. Once
the city was greater than Antwerp; and up the Rege came the commerce of
the East, merchants from the Levant, traders in jewels and silks. Now
the tall houses wait for tenants, and the streets have a deserted
air. After nightfall, as we walked in the middle of the roughly paved
streets, meeting few people, and hearing only the echoing clatter of the
wooden sabots of the few who were abroad, the old spirit of the place
came over us. We sat on a bench in the market-place, a treeless square,
hemmed in by quaint, gabled houses, late in the evening, to listen to
the chimes from the belfry. The tower is less than four hundred feet
high, and not so high by some seventy feet as the one on Notre Dame near
by; but it is very picturesque, in spite of the fact that it springs out
of a rummagy-looking edifice, one half of which is devoted to soldiers’
barracks, and the other to markets. The chimes are called the finest in
Europe. It is well to hear the finest at once, and so have done with the
tedious things. The Belgians are as fond of chimes as the Dutch are of
stagnant water. We heard them everywhere in Belgium; and in some towns
they are incessant, jangling every seven and a half minutes. The chimes
at Bruges ring every quarter hour for a minute, and at the full hour
attempt a tune. The revolving machinery grinds out the tune, which is
changed at least once a year; and on Sundays a musician, chosen by the
town, plays the chimes. In so many bells (there are forty-eight),
the least of which weighs twelve pounds, and the largest over eleven
thousand, there must be soft notes and sonorous tones; so sweet jangled
sounds were showered down: but we liked better than the confused chiming
the solemn notes of the great bell striking the hour. There is something
very poetical about this chime of bells high in the air, flinging down
upon the hum and traffic of the city its oft-repeated benediction of
peace; but anybody but a Lowlander would get very weary of it. These
chimes, to be sure, are better than those in London, which became a
nuisance; but there is in all of them a tinkling attempt at a tune,
which always fails, that is very annoying.

Bruges has altogether an odd flavor. Piles of wooden sabots are for sale
in front of the shops; and this ugly shoe, which is mysteriously kept on
the foot, is worn by all the common sort. We see long, slender carts in
the street, with one horse hitched far ahead with rope traces, and no
thills or pole.

The women-nearly every one we saw-wear long cloaks of black cloth with a
silk hood thrown back. Bruges is famous of old for its beautiful women,
who are enticingly described as always walking the streets with covered
faces, and peeping out from their mantles. They are not so handsome
now they show their faces, I can testify. Indeed, if there is in Bruges
another besides the beautiful girl who showed us the old council-chamber
in the Palace of justice, she must have had her hood pulled over her

Next morning was market-day. The square was lively with carts, donkeys,
and country people, and that and all the streets leading to it were
filled with the women in black cloaks, who flitted about as numerous as
the rooks at Oxford, and very much like them, moving in a winged
way, their cloaks outspread as they walked, and distended with the
market-basket underneath. Though the streets were full, the town did not
seem any less deserted; and the early marketers had only come to life
for a day, revisiting the places that once they thronged. In the shade
of the tall houses in the narrow streets sat red-cheeked girls and women
making lace, the bobbins jumping under their nimble fingers. At the
church doors hideous beggars crouched and whined,--specimens of the
fifteen thousand paupers of Bruges. In the fishmarket we saw odd old
women, with Rembrandt colors in faces and costume; and while we strayed
about in the strange city, all the time from the lofty tower the chimes
fell down. What history crowds upon us! Here in the old cathedral,
with its monstrous tower of brick, a portion of it as old as the tenth
century, Philip the Good established, in 1429, the Order of the Golden
Fleece, the last chapter of which was held by Philip the Bad in 1559, in
the rich old Cathedral of St. Bavon, at Ghent. Here, on the square, is
the site of the house where the Emperor Maximilian was imprisoned by
his rebellious Flemings; and next it, with a carved lion, that in which
Charles II. of England lived after the martyrdom of that patient and
virtuous ruler, whom the English Prayerbook calls that “blessed martyr,
Charles the First.” In Notre Dame are the tombs of Charles the Bold and
Mary his daughter.

We begin here to enter the portals of Dutch painting. Here died Jan van
Eyck, the father of oil painting; and here, in the hospital of St. John,
are the most celebrated pictures of Hans Memling. The most exquisite in
color and finish is the series painted on the casket made to contain the
arm of St. Ursula, and representing the story of her martyrdom. You
know she went on a pilgrimage to Rome, with her lover, Conan, and
eleven thousand virgins; and, on their return to Cologne, they were all
massacred by the Huns. One would scarcely believe the story, if he did
not see all their bones at Cologne.


What can one do in this Belgium but write down names, and let memory
recall the past? We came to Ghent, still a hand some city, though
one thinks of the days when it was the capital of Flanders, and its
merchants were princes. On the shabby old belfry-tower is the gilt
dragon which Philip van Artevelde captured, and brought in triumph from
Bruges. It was originally fetched from a Greek church in Constantinople
by some Bruges Crusader; and it is a link to recall to us how, at that
time, the merchants of Venice and the far East traded up the Scheldt,
and brought to its wharves the rich stuffs of India and Persia. The old
bell Roland, that was used to call the burghers together on the approach
of an enemy, hung in this tower. What fierce broils and bloody fights
did these streets witness centuries ago! There in the Marche au
Vendredi, a large square of old-fashioned houses, with a statue of
Jacques van Artevelde, fifteen hundred corpses were strewn in a quarrel
between the hostile guilds of fullers and brewers; and here, later, Alva
set blazing the fires of the Inquisition. Near the square is the
old cannon, Mad Margery, used in 1382 at the siege of Oudenarde,--a
hammered-iron hooped affair, eighteen feet long. But why mention
this, or the magnificent town hall, or St. Bavon, rich in pictures and
statuary; or try to put you back three hundred years to the wild days
when the iconoclasts sacked this and every other church in the Low

Up to Antwerp toward evening. All the country flat as the flattest part
of Jersey, rich in grass and grain, cut up by canals, picturesque with
windmills and red-tiled roofs, framed with trees in rows. It has been
all day hot and dusty. The country everywhere seems to need rain; and
dark clouds are gathering in the south for a storm, as we drive up the
broad Place de Meir to our hotel, and take rooms that look out to the
lace-like spire of the cathedral, which is sharply defined against the
red western sky.

Antwerp takes hold of you, both by its present and its past, very
strongly. It is still the home of wealth. It has stately buildings,
splendid galleries of pictures, and a spire of stone which charms more
than a picture, and fascinates the eye as music does the ear. It still
keeps its strong fortifications drawn around it, to which the broad and
deep Scheldt is like a string to a bow, mindful of the unstable state
of Europe. While Berlin is only a vast camp of soldiers, every less city
must daily beat its drums, and call its muster-roll. From the tower
here one looks upon the cockpit of Europe. And yet Antwerp ought to have
rest: she has had tumult enough in her time. Prosperity seems returning
to her; but her old, comparative splendor can never come back. In the
sixteenth century there was no richer city in Europe.

We walked one evening past the cathedral spire, which begins in the
richest and most solid Gothic work, and grows up into the sky into an
exquisite lightness and grace, down a broad street to the Scheldt. What
traffic have not these high old houses looked on, when two thousand and
five hundred vessels lay in the river at one time, and the commerce
of Europe found here its best mart. Along the stream now is a not very
clean promenade for the populace; and it is lined with beer-houses,
shabby theaters, and places of the most childish amusements. There is
an odd liking for the simple among these people. In front of the booths,
drums were beaten and instruments played in bewildering discord. Actors
in paint and tights stood without to attract the crowd within. On one
low balcony, a copper-colored man, with a huge feather cap and the
traditional dress of the American savage, was beating two drums; a
burnt-cork black man stood beside him; while on the steps was a woman,
in hat and shawl, making an earnest speech to the crowd. In another
place, where a crazy band made furious music, was an enormous “go-round”
 of wooden ponies, like those in the Paris gardens, only here, instead
of children, grown men and women rode the hobby-horses, and seemed
delighted with the sport. In the general Babel, everybody was
good-natured and jolly. Little things suffice to amuse the lower
classes, who do not have to bother their heads with elections and mass

In front of the cathedral is the well, and the fine canopy of iron-work,
by Quentin Matsys, the blacksmith of Antwerp, some of whose pictures we
saw in the Museum, where one sees, also some of the finest pictures
of the Dutch school,--the “Crucifixion” of Rubens, the “Christ on the
Cross” of Vandyke; paintings also by Teniers, Otto Vennius, Albert Cuyp,
and others, and Rembrandt’s portrait of his wife,--a picture whose sweet
strength and wealth of color draws one to it with almost a passion of
admiration. We had already seen “The Descent from the Cross” and “The
Raising of the Cross” by Rubens, in the cathedral. With all his power
and rioting luxuriance of color, I cannot come to love him as I do
Rembrandt. Doubtless he painted what he saw; and we still find the
types of his female figures in the broad-hipped, ruddy-colored women of
Antwerp. We walked down to his house, which remains much as it was two
hundred and twenty-five years ago. From the interior court, an entrance
in the Italian style leads into a pleasant little garden full of old
trees and flowers, with a summer-house embellished with plaster casts,
and having the very stone table upon which Rubens painted. It is a quiet
place, and fit for an artist; but Rubens had other houses in the city,
and lived the life of a man who took a strong hold of the world.


The rail from Antwerp north was through a land flat and sterile. After
a little, it becomes a little richer; but a forlorner land to live in I
never saw. One wonders at the perseverance of the Flemings and Dutchmen
to keep all this vast tract above water when there is so much good solid
earth elsewhere unoccupied. At Moerdjik we changed from the cars to a
little steamer on the Maas, which flows between high banks. The water
is higher than the adjoining land, and from the deck we look down upon
houses and farms. At Dort, the Rhine comes in with little promise of
the noble stream it is in the highlands. Everywhere canals and ditches
dividing the small fields instead of fences; trees planted in straight
lines, and occasionally trained on a trellis in front of the houses,
with the trunk painted white or green; so that every likeness of nature
shall be taken away. From Rotterdam, by cars, it is still the same. The
Dutchman spends half his life, apparently, in fighting the water. He has
to watch the huge dikes which keep the ocean from overwhelming him,
and the river-banks, which may break, and let the floods of the Rhine
swallow him up. The danger from within is not less than from without.
Yet so fond is he of his one enemy, that, when he can afford it, he
builds him a fantastic summer-house over a stagnant pool or a slimy
canal, in one corner of his garden, and there sits to enjoy the aquatic
beauties of nature; that is, nature as he has made it. The river-banks
are woven with osiers to keep them from washing; and at intervals on the
banks are piles of the long withes to be used in emergencies when the
swollen streams threaten to break through.

And so we come to Amsterdam, the oddest city of all,--a city wholly
built on piles, with as many canals as streets, and an architecture so
quaint as to even impress one who has come from Belgium. The whole
town has a wharf-y look; and it is difficult to say why the tall brick
houses, their gables running by steps to a peak, and each one leaning
forward or backward or sideways, and none perpendicular, and no two on a
line, are so interesting. But certainly it is a most entertaining place
to the stranger, whether he explores the crowded Jews’ quarter, with its
swarms of dirty people, its narrow streets, and high houses hung with
clothes, as if every day were washing-day; or strolls through the
equally narrow streets of rich shops; or lounges upon the bridges, and
looks at the queer boats with clumsy rounded bows, great helms’ painted
in gay colors, with flowers in the cabin windows,--boats where families
live; or walks down the Plantage, with the zoological gardens on the one
hand and rows of beer-gardens on the other; or round the great docks;
or saunters at sunset by the banks of the Y, and looks upon flat North
Holland and the Zuyder Zee.

The palace on the Dam (square) is a square, stately edifice, and the
only building that the stranger will care to see. Its interior is richer
and more fit to live in than any palace we have seen. There is nothing
usually so dreary as your fine Palace. There are some good frescoes,
rooms richly decorated in marble, and a magnificent hall, or ball-room,
one hundred feet in height, without pillars. Back of it is, of course,
a canal, which does not smell fragrantly in the summer; and I do not
wonder that William III. and his queen prefer to stop away. From the top
is a splendid view of Amsterdam and all the flat region. I speak of it
with entire impartiality, for I did not go up to see it. But better
than palaces are the picture-galleries, three of which are open to the
sightseer. Here the ancient and modern Dutch painters are seen at their
best, and I know of no richer feast of this sort. Here Rembrandt is
to be seen in his glory; here Van der Helst, Jan Steen, Gerard Douw,
Teniers the younger, Hondekoeter, Weenix, Ostade, Cuyp, and other names
as familiar. These men also painted what they saw, the people, the
landscapes, with which they were familiar. It was a strange pleasure to
meet again and again in the streets of the town the faces, or types of
them, that we had just seen on canvas so old.

In the Low Countries, the porters have the grand title of
commissionaires. They carry trunks and bundles, black boots, and act as
valets de place. As guides, they are quite as intolerable in Amsterdam
as their brethren in other cities. Many of them are Jews; and they have
a keen eye for a stranger. The moment he sallies from his hotel, there
is a guide. Let him hesitate for an instant in his walk, either to look
at something or to consult his map, or let him ask the way, and he will
have a half dozen of the persistent guild upon him; and they cannot
easily be shaken off. The afternoon we arrived, we had barely got into
our rooms at Brack’s Oude Doelan, when a gray-headed commissionaire
knocked at our door, and offered his services to show us the city. We
deferred the pleasure of his valuable society. Shortly, when we came
down to the street, a smartly dressed Israelite took off his hat to us,
and offered to show us the city. We declined with impressive politeness,
and walked on. The Jew accompanied us, and attempted conversation, in
which we did not join. He would show us everything for a guilder an
hour,--for half a guilder. Having plainly told the Jew that we did not
desire his attendance, he crossed to the other side of the street, and
kept us in sight, biding his opportunity. At the end of the street, we
hesitated a moment whether to cross the bridge or turn up by the broad
canal. The Jew was at our side in a moment, having divined that we were
on the way to the Dam and the palace. He obligingly pointed the way,
and began to walk with us, entering into conversation. We told him
pointedly, that we did not desire his services, and requested him to
leave us. He still walked in our direction, with the air of one much
injured, but forgiving, and was more than once beside us with a piece of
information. When we finally turned upon him with great fierceness,
and told him to begone, he regarded us with a mournful and pitying
expression; and as the last act of one who returned good for evil,
before he turned away, pointed out to us the next turn we were to make.
I saw him several times afterward; and I once had occasion to say to
him, that I had already told him I would not employ him; and he always
lifted his hat, and looked at me with a forgiving smile. I felt that
I had deeply wronged him. As we stood by the statue, looking up at the
eastern pediment of the palace, another of the tribe (they all speak a
little English) asked me if I wished to see the palace. I told him I
was looking at it, and could see it quite distinctly. Half a dozen more
crowded round, and proffered their aid. Would I like to go into the
palace? They knew, and I knew, that they could do nothing more than go
to the open door, through which they would not be admitted, and that I
could walk across the open square to that, and enter alone. I asked the
first speaker if he wished to go into the palace. Oh, yes! he would like
to go. I told him he had better go at once,--they had all better go
in together and see the palace,--it was an excellent opportunity. They
seemed to see the point, and slunk away to the other side to wait for
another stranger.

I find that this plan works very well with guides: when I see one
approaching, I at once offer to guide him. It is an idea from which he
does not rally in time to annoy us. The other day I offered to show a
persistent fellow through an old ruin for fifty kreuzers: as his price
for showing me was forty-eight, we did not come to terms. One of the
most remarkable guides, by the way, we encountered at Stratford-on-Avon.
As we walked down from the Red Horse Inn to the church, a full-grown boy
came bearing down upon us in the most wonderful fashion. Early rickets,
I think, had been succeeded by the St. Vitus’ dance. He came down upon
us sideways, his legs all in a tangle, and his right arm, bent and
twisted, going round and round, as if in vain efforts to get into his
pocket, his fingers spread out in impotent desire to clutch something.
There was great danger that he would run into us, as he was like a
steamer with only one side-wheel and no rudder. He came up puffing and
blowing, and offered to show us Shakespeare’s tomb. Shade of the
past, to be accompanied to thy resting-place by such an object! But he
fastened himself on us, and jerked and hitched along in his side-wheel
fashion. We declined his help. He paddled on, twisting himself into
knots, and grinning in the most friendly manner. We told him to begone.
“I am,” said he, wrenching himself into a new contortion, “I am what
showed Artemus Ward round Stratford.” This information he repeated again
and again, as if we could not resist him after we had comprehended that.
We shook him off; but when we returned at sundown across the fields,
from a visit to Anne Hathaway’s cottage, we met the sidewheeler
cheerfully towing along a large party, upon whom he had fastened.

The people of Amsterdam are only less queer than their houses. The
men dress in a solid, old-fashioned way. Every one wears the straight,
high-crowned silk hat that went out with us years ago, and the cut of
clothing of even the most buckish young fellows is behind the times.
I stepped into the Exchange, an immense interior, that will hold five
thousand people, where the stock-gamblers meet twice a day. It was very
different from the terrible excitement and noise of the Paris Bourse.
There were three or four thousand brokers there, yet there was very
little noise and no confusion. No stocks were called, and there was no
central ring for bidding, as at the Bourse and the New York Gold Room;
but they quietly bought and sold. Some of the leading firms had desks
or tables at the side, and there awaited orders. Everything was
phlegmatically and decorously done.

In the streets one still sees peasant women in native costume. There was
a group to-day that I saw by the river, evidently just crossed over from
North Holland. They wore short dresses, with the upper skirt looped up,
and had broad hips and big waists. On the head was a cap with a fall of
lace behind; across the back of the head a broad band of silver (or tin)
three inches broad, which terminated in front and just above the ears in
bright pieces of metal about two inches square, like a horse’s blinders,
Only flaring more from the head; across the forehead and just above
the eyes a gilt band, embossed; on the temples two plaits of hair in
circular coils; and on top of all a straw hat, like an old-fashioned
bonnet stuck on hindside before. Spiral coils of brass wire, coming to a
point in front, are also worn on each side of the head by many. Whether
they are for ornament or defense, I could not determine.

Water is brought into the city now from Haarlem, and introduced into the
best houses; but it is still sold in the streets by old men and women,
who sit at the faucets. I saw one dried-up old grandmother, who sat in
her little caboose, fighting away the crowd of dirty children who tried
to steal a drink when her back was turned, keeping count of the pails of
water carried away with a piece of chalk on the iron pipe, and trying to
darn her stocking at the same time. Odd things strike you at every turn.
There is a sledge drawn by one poor horse, and on the front of it is a
cask of water pierced with holes, so that the water squirts out and wets
the stones, making it easier sliding for the runners. It is an ingenious

After all, we drove out five miles to Broek, the clean village; across
the Y, up the canal, over flatness flattened. Broek is a humbug, as
almost all show places are. A wooden little village on a stagnant canal,
into which carriages do not drive, and where the front doors of the
houses are never open; a dead, uninteresting place, neat but not
specially pretty, where you are shown into one house got up for the
purpose, which looks inside like a crockery shop, and has a stiff
little garden with box trained in shapes of animals and furniture. A
roomy-breeched young Dutchman, whose trousers went up to his neck, and
his hat to a peak, walked before us in slow and cow-like fashion, and
showed us the place; especially some horrid pleasure-grounds, with an
image of an old man reading in a summer-house, and an old couple in
a cottage who sat at a table and worked, or ate, I forget which, by
clock-work; while a dog barked by the same means. In a pond was a wooden
swan sitting on a stick, the water having receded, and left it high and
dry. Yet the trip is worth while for the view of the country and
the people on the way: men and women towing boats on the canals; the
red-tiled houses painted green, and in the distance the villages, with
their spires and pleasing mixture of brown, green, and red tints, are
very picturesque. The best thing that I saw, however, was a traditional
Dutchman walking on the high bank of a canal, with soft hat, short pipe,
and breeches that came to the armpits above, and a little below the
knees, and were broad enough about the seat and thighs to carry his no
doubt numerous family. He made a fine figure against the sky.


It is a relief to get out of Holland and into a country nearer to hills.
The people also seem more obliging. In Cologne, a brown-cheeked girl
pointed us out the way without waiting for a kreuzer. Perhaps the women
have more to busy themselves about in the cities, and are not so
curious about passers-by. We rarely see a reflector to exhibit us to the
occupants of the second-story windows. In all the cities of Belgium
and Holland the ladies have small mirrors, with reflectors, fastened
to their windows; so that they can see everybody who passes, without
putting their heads out. I trust we are not inverted or thrown out
of shape when we are thus caught up and cast into my lady’s chamber.
Cologne has a cheerful look, for the Rhine here is wide and promising;
and as for the “smells,” they are certainly not so many nor so vile as
those at Mainz.

Our windows at the hotel looked out on the finest front of the
cathedral. If the Devil really built it, he is to be credited with one
good thing, and it is now likely to be finished, in spite of him. Large
as it is, it is on the exterior not so impressive as that at Amiens;
but within it has a magnificence born of a vast design and the most
harmonious proportions, and the grand effect is not broken by any
subdivision but that of the choir. Behind the altar and in front of the
chapel, where lie the remains of the Wise Men of the East who came to
worship the Child, or, as they are called, the Three Kings of Cologne,
we walked over a stone in the pavement under which is the heart of Mary
de Medicis: the remainder of her body is in St. Denis near Paris. The
beadle in red clothes, who stalks about the cathedral like a converted
flamingo, offered to open for us the chapel; but we declined a sight of
the very bones of the Wise Men. It was difficult enough to believe they
were there, without seeing them. One ought not to subject his faith to
too great a strain at first in Europe. The bones of the Three Kings,
by the way, made the fortune of the cathedral. They were the greatest
religious card of the Middle Ages, and their fortunate possession
brought a flood of wealth to this old Domkirche. The old feudal lords
would swear by the Almighty Father, or the Son, or Holy Ghost, or by
everything sacred on earth, and break their oaths as they would break
a wisp of straw: but if you could get one of them to swear by the Three
Kings of Cologne, he was fast; for that oath he dare not disregard.

The prosperity of the cathedral on these valuable bones set all the
other churches in the neighborhood on the same track; and one can
study right here in this city the growth of relic worship. But the most
successful achievement was the collection of the bones of St. Ursula and
the eleven thousand virgins, and their preservation in the church on the
very spot where they suffered martyrdom. There is probably not so large
a collection of the bones of virgins elsewhere in the world; and I am
sorry to read that Professor Owen has thought proper to see and say that
many of them are the bones of lower orders of animals. They are built
into the walls of the church, arranged about the choir, interred in
stone coffins, laid under the pavements; and their skulls grin at you
everywhere. In the chapel the bones are tastefully built into the wall
and overhead, like rustic wood-work; and the skulls stand in rows, some
with silver masks, like the jars on the shelves of an apothecary’s shop.
It is a cheerful place. On the little altar is the very skull of
the saint herself, and that of Conan, her lover, who made the holy
pilgrimage to Rome with her and her virgins, and also was slain by the
Huns at Cologne. There is a picture of the eleven thousand disembarking
from one boat on the Rhine, which is as wonderful as the trooping of
hundreds of spirits out of a conjurer’s bottle. The right arm of St.
Ursula is preserved here: the left is at Bruges. I am gradually getting
the hang of this excellent but somewhat scattered woman, and bringing
her together in my mind. Her body, I believe, lies behind the altar
in this same church. She must have been a lovely character, if Hans
Memling’s portrait of her is a faithful one. I was glad to see here one
of the jars from the marriage-supper in Cana. We can identify it by a
piece which is broken out; and the piece is in Notre Dame in Paris.
It has been in this church five hundred years. The sacristan, a very
intelligent person, with a shaven crown and his hair cut straight across
his forehead, who showed us the church, gave us much useful information
about bones, teeth, and the remains of the garments that the virgins
wore; and I could not tell from his face how much he expected us to
believe. I asked the little fussy old guide of an English party who had
joined us, how much he believed of the story. He was a Protestant, and
replied, still anxious to keep up the credit of his city, “Tousands is
too many; some hundreds maybe; tousands is too many.”


You have seen the Rhine in pictures; you have read its legends. You
know, in imagination at least, how it winds among craggy hills of
splendid form, turning so abruptly as to leave you often shut in with no
visible outlet from the wall of rock and forest; how the castles, some
in ruins so as to be as unsightly as any old pile of rubbish, others
with feudal towers and battlements, still perfect, hang on the crags, or
stand sharp against the sky, or nestle by the stream or on some lonely
island. You know that the Rhine has been to Germans what the Nile was
to the Egyptians,--a delight, and the theme of song and story. Here the
Roman eagles were planted; here were the camps of Drusus; here Caesar
bridged and crossed the Rhine; here, at every turn, a feudal baron, from
his high castle, levied toll on the passers; and here the French found a
momentary halt to their invasion of Germany at different times. You can
imagine how, in a misty morning, as you leave Bonn, the Seven Mountains
rise up in their veiled might, and how the Drachenfels stands in new and
changing beauty as you pass it and sail away. You have been told that
the Hudson is like the Rhine. Believe me, there is no resemblance; nor
would there be if the Hudson were lined with castles, and Julius Caesar
had crossed it every half mile. The Rhine satisfies you, and you do not
recall any other river. It only disappoints you as to its “vine-clad
hills.” You miss trees and a covering vegetation, and are not enamoured
of the patches of green vines on wall-supported terraces, looking from
the river like hills of beans or potatoes. And, if you try the Rhine
wine on the steamers, you will wholly lose your faith in the vintage. We
decided that the wine on our boat was manufactured in the boiler.

There is a mercenary atmosphere about hotels and steamers on the Rhine,
a watering-place, show sort of feeling, that detracts very much from
one’s enjoyment. The old habit of the robber barons of levying toll on
all who sail up and down has not been lost. It is not that one actually
pays so much for sightseeing, but the charm of anything vanishes when it
is made merchandise. One is almost as reluctant to buy his “views” as he
is to sell his opinions. But one ought to be weeks on the Rhine before
attempting to say anything about it.

One morning, at Bingen,--I assure you it was not six o’clock,--we took
a big little rowboat, and dropped down the stream, past the Mouse Tower,
where the cruel Bishop Hatto was eaten up by rats, under the
shattered Castle of Ehrenfels, round the bend to the little village of
Assmannshausen, on the hills back of which is grown the famous red
wine of that name. On the bank walked in line a dozen peasants, men and
women, in picturesque dress, towing, by a line passed from shoulder to
shoulder, a boat filled with marketing for Rudesheim. We were bound
up the Niederwald, the mountain opposite Bingen, whose noble crown of
forest attracted us. At the landing, donkeys awaited us; and we began
the ascent, a stout, good-natured German girl acting as guide and
driver. Behind us, on the opposite shore, set round about with a wealth
of foliage, was the Castle of Rheinstein, a fortress more pleasing in
its proportions and situation than any other. Our way was through the
little town which is jammed into the gorge; and as we clattered up
the pavement, past the church, its heavy bell began to ring loudly for
matins, the sound reverberating in the narrow way, and following us
with its benediction when we were far up the hill, breathing the fresh,
inspiring morning air. The top of the Niederwald is a splendid forest of
trees, which no impious Frenchman has been allowed to trim, and cut into
allees of arches, taking one in thought across the water to the
free Adirondacks. We walked for a long time under the welcome shade,
approaching the brow of the hill now and then, where some tower or
hermitage is erected, for a view of the Rhine and the Nahe, the villages
below, and the hills around; and then crossed the mountain, down through
cherry orchards, and vine yards, walled up, with images of Christ on
the cross on the angles of the walls, down through a hot road where wild
flowers grew in great variety, to the quaint village of Rudesheim, with
its queer streets and ancient ruins. Is it possible that we can have too
many ruins? “Oh dear!” exclaimed the jung-frau as we sailed along the
last day, “if there is n’t another castle!”


If you come to Heidelberg, you will never want to go away. To arrive
here is to come into a peaceful state of rest and content. The great
hills out of which the Neckar flows, infold the town in a sweet
security; and yet there is no sense of imprisonment, for the view is
always wide open to the great plains where the Neckar goes to join the
Rhine, and where the Rhine runs for many a league through a rich and
smiling land. One could settle down here to study, without a desire to
go farther, nor any wish to change the dingy, shabby old buildings of
the university for anything newer and smarter. What the students can
find to fight their little duels about I cannot see; but fight they do,
as many a scarred cheek attests. The students give life to the town.
They go about in little caps of red, green, and blue, many of them
embroidered in gold, and stuck so far on the forehead that they require
an elastic, like that worn by ladies, under the back hair, to keep
them on; and they are also distinguished by colored ribbons across the
breast. The majority of them are well-behaved young gentlemen, who carry
switch-canes, and try to keep near the fashions, like students at home.
Some like to swagger about in their little skull-caps, and now and then
one is attended by a bull-dog.

I write in a room which opens out upon a balcony. Below it is a garden,
below that foliage, and farther down the town with its old speckled
roofs, spires, and queer little squares. Beyond is the Neckar, with the
bridge, and white statues on it, and an old city gate at this end, with
pointed towers. Beyond that is a white road with a wall on one side,
along which I see peasant women walking with large baskets balanced on
their heads. The road runs down the river to Neuenheim. Above it on
the steep hillside are vineyards; and a winding path goes up to
the Philosopher’s Walk, which runs along for a mile or more, giving
delightful views of the castle and the glorious woods and hills back
of it. Above it is the mountain of Heiligenberg, from the other side
of which one looks off toward Darmstadt and the famous road, the
Bergstrasse. If I look down the stream, I see the narrow town, and the
Neckar flowing out of it into the vast level plain, rich with grain
and trees and grass, with many spires and villages; Mannheim to the
northward, shining when the sun is low; the Rhine gleaming here and
there near the horizon; and the Vosges Mountains, purple in the last
distance: on my right, and so near that I could throw a stone into them,
the ruined tower and battlements of the northwest corner of the castle,
half hidden in foliage, with statues framed in ivy, and the garden
terrace, built for Elizabeth Stuart when she came here the bride of the
Elector Frederick, where giant trees grow. Under the walls a steep
path goes down into the town, along which little houses cling to the
hillside. High above the castle rises the noble Konigstuhl, whence the
whole of this part of Germany is visible, and, in a clear day, Strasburg
Minster, ninety miles away.

I have only to go a few steps up a narrow, steep street, lined with the
queerest houses, where is an ever-running pipe of good water, to which
all the neighborhood resorts, and I am within the grounds of the castle.
I scarcely know where to take you; for I never know where to go myself,
and seldom do go where I intend when I set forth. We have been here
several days; and I have not yet seen the Great Tun, nor the inside of
the show-rooms, nor scarcely anything that is set down as a “sight.”
 I do not know whether to wander on through the extensive grounds, with
splendid trees, bits of old ruin, overgrown, cozy nooks, and seats
where, through the foliage, distant prospects open into quiet retreats
that lead to winding walks up the terraced hill, round to the open
terrace overlooking the Neckar, and giving the best general view of
the great mass of ruins. If we do, we shall be likely to sit in some
delicious place, listening to the band playing in the “Restauration,”
 and to the nightingales, till the moon comes up. Or shall we turn into
the garden through the lovely Arch of the Princess Elizabeth, with its
stone columns cut to resemble tree-trunks twined with ivy? Or go rather
through the great archway, and under the teeth of the portcullis, into
the irregular quadrangle, whose buildings mark the changing style and
fortune of successive centuries, from 1300 down to the seventeenth
century? There is probably no richer quadrangle in Europe: there is
certainly no other ruin so vast, so impressive, so ornamented with
carving, except the Alhambra. And from here we pass out upon the broad
terrace of masonry, with a splendid flanking octagon tower, its base
hidden in trees, a rich facade for a background, and below the town the
river, and beyond the plain and floods of golden sunlight. What shall we
do? Sit and dream in the Rent Tower under the lindens that grow in its
top? The day passes while one is deciding how to spend it, and the sun
over Heiligenberg goes down on his purpose.



If you come to Bale, you should take rooms on the river, or stand on the
bridge at evening, and have a sunset of gold and crimson streaming down
upon the wide and strong Rhine, where it rushes between the houses built
plumb up to it, or you will not care much for the city. And yet it is
pleasant on the high ground, where are some stately buildings, and where
new gardens are laid out, and where the American consul on the Fourth
of July flies our flag over the balcony of a little cottage smothered
in vines and gay with flowers. I had the honor of saluting it that day,
though I did not know at the time that gold had risen two or three per
cent. under its blessed folds at home. Not being a shipwrecked sailor,
or a versatile and accomplished but impoverished naturalized citizen,
desirous of quick transit to the land of the free, I did not call upon
the consul, but left him under the no doubt correct impression that he
was doing a good thing by unfolding the flag on the Fourth.

You have not journeyed far from Bale before you are aware that you are
in Switzerland. It was showery the day we went down; but the ride
filled us with the most exciting expectations. The country recalled
New England, or what New England might be, if it were cultivated and
adorned, and had good roads and no fences. Here at last, after the dusty
German valleys, we entered among real hills, round which and through
which, by enormous tunnels, our train slowly went: rocks looking out
of foliage; sweet little valleys, green as in early spring; the dark
evergreens in contrast; snug cottages nestled in the hillsides, showing
little else than enormous brown roofs that come nearly to the ground,
giving the cottages the appearance of huge toadstools; fine harvests of
grain; thrifty apple-trees, and cherry-trees purple with luscious fruit.
And this shifting panorama continues until, towards evening, behold, on
a hill, Berne, shining through showers, the old feudal round tower and
buildings overhanging the Aar, and the tower of the cathedral over all.
From the balcony of our rooms at the Bellevue, the long range of the
Bernese Oberland shows its white summits for a moment in the slant
sunshine, and then the clouds shut down, not to lift again for two days.
Yet it looks warmer on the snow-peaks than in Berne, for summer sets in
in Switzerland with a New England chill and rigor.

The traveler finds no city with more flavor of the picturesque and
quaint than Berne; and I think it must have preserved the Swiss
characteristics better than any other of the large towns in Helvetia.
It stands upon a peninsula, round which the Aar, a hundred feet below,
rapidly flows; and one has on nearly every side very pretty views of
the green basin of hills which rise beyond the river. It is a most
comfortable town on a rainy day; for all the principal streets have
their houses built on arcades, and one walks under the low arches, with
the shops on one side and the huge stone pillars on the other. These
pillars so stand out toward the street as to give the house-fronts a
curved look. Above are balconies, in which, upon red cushions, sit the
daughters of Berne, reading and sewing, and watching their neighbors;
and in nearly every window are quantities of flowers of the most
brilliant colors. The gray stone of the houses, which are piled up
from the streets, harmonizes well with the colors in the windows and
balconies, and the scene is quite Oriental as one looks down, especially
if it be upon a market morning, when the streets are as thronged as
the Strand. Several terraces, with great trees, overlook the river, and
command prospects of the Alps. These are public places; for the city
government has a queer notion that trees are not hideous, and that a
part of the use of living is the enjoyment of the beautiful. I saw an
elegant bank building, with carved figures on the front, and at
each side of the entrance door a large stand of flowers,--oleanders,
geraniums, and fuchsias; while the windows and balconies above bloomed
with a like warmth of floral color. Would you put an American bank
president in the Retreat who should so decorate his banking-house? We
all admire the tasteful display of flowers in foreign towns: we go
home, and carry nothing with us but a recollection. But Berne has also
fountains everywhere; some of them grotesque, like the ogre that devours
his own children, but all a refreshment and delight. And it has also its
clock-tower, with one of those ingenious pieces of mechanism, in which
the sober people of this region take pleasure. At the hour, a procession
of little bears goes round, a jolly figure strikes the time, a cock
flaps his wings and crows, and a solemn Turk opens his mouth to announce
the flight of the hours. It is more grotesque, but less elaborate, than
the equally childish toy in the cathedral at Strasburg.

We went Sunday morning to the cathedral; and the excellent woman who
guards the portal--where in ancient stone the Last Judgment is enacted,
and the cheerful and conceited wise virgins stand over against the
foolish virgins, one of whom has been in the penitential attitude
of having a stone finger in her eye now for over three hundred
years--refused at first to admit us to the German Lutheran service,
which was just beginning. It seems that doors are locked, and no one
is allowed to issue forth until after service. There seems to be an
impression that strangers go only to hear the organ, which is a sort of
rival of that at Freiburg, and do not care much for the well-prepared
and protracted discourse in Swiss-German. We agreed to the terms of
admission; but it did not speak well for former travelers that the woman
should think it necessary to say, “You must sit still, and not talk.” It
is a barn-like interior. The women all sit on hard, high-backed benches
in the center of the church, and the men on hard, higher-backed benches
about the sides, inclosing and facing the women, who are more directly
under the droppings of the little pulpit, hung on one of the pillars,--a
very solemn and devout congregation, who sang very well, and paid strict
attention to the sermon.

I noticed that the names of the owners, and sometimes their
coats-of-arms, were carved or painted on the backs of the seats, as
if the pews were not put up at yearly auction. One would not call it a
dressy congregation, though the homely women looked neat in black waists
and white puffed sleeves and broadbrimmed hats.

The only concession I have anywhere seen to women in Switzerland, as
the more delicate sex, was in this church: they sat during most of the
service, but the men stood all the time, except during the delivery of
the sermon. The service began at nine o’clock, as it ought to with us in
summer. The costume of the peasant women in and about Berne comes nearer
to being picturesque than in most other parts of Switzerland, where it
is simply ugly. You know the sort of thing in pictures,--the broad hat,
short skirt, black, pointed stomacher, with white puffed sleeves, and
from each breast a large silver chain hanging, which passes under the
arm and fastens on the shoulder behind,--a very favorite ornament. This
costume would not be unbecoming to a pretty face and figure: whether
there are any such native to Switzerland, I trust I may not be put upon
the witness-stand to declare. Some of the peasant young men went
without coats, and with the shirt sleeves fluted; and others wore
butternut-colored suits, the coats of which I can recommend to those who
like the swallow-tailed variety. I suppose one would take a man into
the opera in London, where he cannot go in anything but that sort. The
buttons on the backs of these came high up between the shoulders, and
the tails did not reach below the waistband. There is a kind of rooster
of similar appearance. I saw some of these young men from the country,
with their sweethearts, leaning over the stone parapet, and looking into
the pit of the bear-garden, where the city bears walk round, or sit on
their hind legs for bits of bread thrown to them, or douse themselves in
the tanks, or climb the dead trees set up for their gambols. Years
ago they ate up a British officer who fell in; and they walk round now
ceaselessly, as if looking for another. But one cannot expect good taste
in a bear.

If you would see how charming a farming country can be, drive out on the
highway towards Thun. For miles it is well shaded with giant trees of
enormous trunks, and a clean sidewalk runs by the fine road. On either
side, at little distances from the road, are picturesque cottages and
rambling old farmhouses peeping from the trees and vines and flowers.
Everywhere flowers, before the house, in the windows, at the railway
stations. But one cannot stay forever even in delightful Berne, with its
fountains and terraces, and girls on red cushions in the windows, and
noble trees and flowers, and its stately federal Capitol, and its bears
carved everywhere in stone and wood, and its sunrises, when all the
Bernese Alps lie like molten silver in the early light, and the clouds
drift over them, now hiding, now disclosing, the enchanting heights.


Freiburg, with its aerial suspension-bridges, is also on a peninsula,
formed by the Sarine; with its old walls, old watch-towers, its piled-up
old houses, and streets that go upstairs, and its delicious cherries,
which you can eat while you sit in the square by the famous linden-tree,
and wait for the time when the organ will be played in the cathedral.
For all the world stops at Freiburg to hear and enjoy the great
organ,--all except the self-satisfied English clergyman, who says he
does n’t care much for it, and would rather go about town and see
the old walls; and the young and boorish French couple, whose refined
amusement in the railway-carriage consisted in the young man’s catching
his wife’s foot in the window-strap, and hauling it up to the level of
the window, and who cross themselves and go out after the first tune;
and the two bread-and-butter English young ladies, one of whom asks the
other in the midst of the performance, if she has thought yet to
count the pipes,--a thoughtful verification of Murray, which is very
commendable in a young woman traveling for the improvement of her little

One has heard so much of this organ, that he expects impossibilities,
and is at first almost disappointed, although it is not long in
discovering its vast compass, and its wonderful imitations, now of a
full orchestra, and again of a single instrument. One has not to wait
long before he is mastered by its spell. The vox humana stop did not
strike me as so perfect as that of the organ in the Rev. Mr. Hale’s
church in Boston, though the imitation of choir-voices responding to the
organ was very effective. But it is not in tricks of imitation that this
organ is so wonderful: it is its power of revealing, by all its compass,
the inmost part of any musical composition.

The last piece we heard was something like this: the sound of a bell,
tolling at regular intervals, like the throbbing of a life begun; about
it an accompaniment of hopes, inducements, fears, the flute, the violin,
the violoncello, promising, urging, entreating, inspiring; the
life beset with trials, lured with pleasures, hesitating, doubting,
questioning; its purpose at length grows more certain and fixed, the
bell tolling becomes a prolonged undertone, the flow of a definite life;
the music goes on, twining round it, now one sweet instrument and now
many, in strife or accord, all the influences of earth and heaven and
the base underworld meeting and warring over the aspiring soul; the
struggle becomes more earnest, the undertone is louder and clearer;
the accompaniment indicates striving, contesting passion, an agony of
endeavor and resistance, until at length the steep and rocky way is
passed, the world and self are conquered, and, in a burst of triumph
from a full orchestra, the soul attains the serene summit. But the rest
is only for a moment. Even in the highest places are temptations. The
sunshine fails, clouds roll up, growling of low, pedal thunder is heard,
while sharp lightning-flashes soon break in clashing peals about the
peaks. This is the last Alpine storm and trial. After it the sun bursts
out again, the wide, sunny valleys are disclosed, and a sweet evening
hymn floats through all the peaceful air. We go out from the cool church
into the busy streets of the white, gray town awed and comforted.

And such a ride afterwards! It was as if the organ music still
continued. All the world knows the exquisite views southward from
Freiburg; but such an atmosphere as we had does not overhang them many
times in a season. First the Moleross, and a range of mountains bathed
in misty blue light,--rugged peaks, scarred sides, white and tawny at
once, rising into the clouds which hung large and soft in the blue; soon
Mont Blanc, dim and aerial, in the south; the lovely valley of the River
Sense; peasants walking with burdens on the white highway; the quiet and
soft-tinted mountains beyond; towns perched on hills, with old castles
and towers; the land rich with grass, grain, fruit, flowers; at
Palezieux a magnificent view of the silver, purple, and blue mountains,
with their chalky seams and gashed sides, near at hand; and at length,
coming through a long tunnel, as if we had been shot out into the air
above a country more surprising than any in dreams, the most wonderful
sight burst upon us,--the low-lying, deep-blue Lake Leman, and
the gigantic mountains rising from its shores, and a sort of mist,
translucent, suffused with sunlight, like the liquid of the golden wine
the Steinberger poured into the vast basin. We came upon it out of total
darkness, without warning; and we seemed, from our great height, to be
about to leap into the splendid gulf of tremulous light and color.

This Lake of Geneva is said to combine the robust mountain grandeur of
Luzerne with all the softness of atmosphere of Lake Maggiore. Surely,
nothing could exceed the loveliness as we wound down the hillside,
through the vineyards, to Lausanne, and farther on, near the foot of the
lake, to Montreux, backed by precipitous but tree-clad hills, fronted
by the lovely water, and the great mountains which run away south into
Savoy, where Velan lifts up its snows. Below us, round the curving bay,
lies white Chillon; and at sunset we row down to it over the bewitched
water, and wait under its grim walls till the failing light brings back
the romance of castle and prisoner. Our garcon had never heard of the
prisoner; but he knew about the gendarmes who now occupy the castle.


Not the least of the traveler’s pleasure in Switzerland is derived from
the English people who overrun it: they seem to regard it as a kind
of private park or preserve belonging to England; and they establish
themselves at hotels, or on steamboats and diligences, with a certain
air of ownership that is very pleasant. I am not very fresh in my
geology; but it is my impression that Switzerland was created especially
for the English, about the year of the Magna Charta, or a little later.
The Germans who come here, and who don’t care very much what they eat,
or how they sleep, provided they do not have any fresh air in diningroom
or bedroom, and provided, also, that the bread is a little sour, growl
a good deal about the English, and declare that they have spoiled
Switzerland. The natives, too, who live off the English, seem to
thoroughly hate them; so that one is often compelled, in self-defense,
to proclaim his nationality, which is like running from Scylla upon
Charybdis; for, while the American is more popular, it is believed that
there is no bottom to his pocket.

There was a sprig of the Church of England on the steamboat on Lake
Leman, who spread himself upon a center bench, and discoursed very
instructively to his friends,--a stout, fat-faced young man in a white
cravat, whose voice was at once loud and melodious, and whom our
manly Oxford student set down as a man who had just rubbed through the
university, and got into a scanty living.

“I met an American on the boat yesterday,” the oracle was saying to his
friends, “who was really quite a pleasant fellow. He--ah really was, you
know, quite a sensible man. I asked him if they had anything like this
in America; and he was obliged to say that they had n’t anything like
it in his country; they really had n’t. He was really quite a sensible
fellow; said he was over here to do the European tour, as he called it.”

Small, sympathetic laugh from the attentive, wiry, red-faced woman on
the oracle’s left, and also a chuckle, at the expense of the American,
from the thin Englishman on his right, who wore a large white waistcoat,
a blue veil on his hat, and a face as red as a live coal.

“Quite an admission, was n’t it, from an American? But I think they have
changed since the wah, you know.”

At the next landing, the smooth and beaming churchman was left by
his friends; and he soon retired to the cabin, where I saw him
self-sacrificingly denying himself the views on deck, and consoling
himself with a substantial lunch and a bottle of English ale.

There is one thing to be said about the English abroad: the variety
is almost infinite. The best acquaintances one makes will be
English,--people with no nonsense and strong individuality; and one gets
no end of entertainment from the other sort. Very different from the
clergyman on the boat was the old lady at table-d’hote in one of the
hotels on the lake. One would not like to call her a delightfully wicked
old woman, like the Baroness Bernstein; but she had her own witty and
satirical way of regarding the world. She had lived twenty-five years at
Geneva, where people, years ago, coming over the dusty and hot roads
of France, used to faint away when they first caught sight of the Alps.
Believe they don’t do it now. She never did; was past the susceptible
age when she first came; was tired of the people. Honest? Why, yes,
honest, but very fond of money. Fine Swiss wood-carving? Yes. You’ll get
very sick of it. It’s very nice, but I ‘m tired of it. Years ago, I sent
some of it home to the folks in England. They thought everything of it;
and it was not very nice, either,--a cheap sort. Moral ideas? I don’t
care for moral ideas: people make such a fuss about them lately (this
in reply to her next neighbor, an eccentric, thin man, with bushy hair,
shaggy eyebrows, and a high, falsetto voice, who rallied the witty
old lady all dinner-time about her lack of moral ideas, and accurately
described the thin wine on the table as “water-bewitched”). Why did n’t
the baroness go back to England, if she was so tired of Switzerland?
Well, she was too infirm now; and, besides, she did n’t like to
trust herself on the railroads. And there were so many new inventions
nowadays, of which she read. What was this nitroglycerine, that exploded
so dreadfully? No: she thought she should stay where she was.

There is little risk of mistaking the Englishman, with or without his
family, who has set out to do Switzerland. He wears a brandy-flask, a
field-glass, and a haversack. Whether he has a silk or soft hat, he is
certain to wear a veil tied round it. This precaution is adopted when he
makes up his mind to come to Switzerland, I think, because he has read
that a veil is necessary to protect the eyes from the snow-glare. There
is probably not one traveler in a hundred who gets among the ice and
snow-fields where he needs a veil or green glasses: but it is well
to have it on the hat; it looks adventurous. The veil and the spiked
alpenstock are the signs of peril. Everybody--almost everybody--has an
alpenstock. It is usually a round pine stick, with an iron spike in one
end. That, also, is a sign of peril. We saw a noble young Briton on the
steamer the other day, who was got up in the best Alpine manner. He
wore a short sack,--in fact, an entire suit of light gray flannel, which
closely fitted his lithe form. His shoes were of undressed leather, with
large spikes in the soles; and on his white hat he wore a large quantity
of gauze, which fell in folds down his neck. I am sorry to say that
he had a red face, a shaven chin, and long side-whiskers. He carried a
formidable alpenstock; and at the little landing where we first saw
him, and afterward on the boat, he leaned on it in a series of the most
graceful and daring attitudes that I ever saw the human form assume. Our
Oxford student knew the variety, and guessed rightly that he was an army
man. He had his face burned at Malta. Had he been over the Gemmi? Or up
this or that mountain? asked another English officer. “No, I have not.”
 And it turned out that he had n’t been anywhere, and did n’t seem likely
to do anything but show himself at the frequented valley places. And
yet I never saw one whose gallant bearing I so much admired. We saw him
afterward at Interlaken, enduring all the hardships of that fashionable
place. There was also there another of the same country, got up for the
most dangerous Alpine climbing, conspicuous in red woolen stockings that
came above his knees. I could not learn that he ever went up anything
higher than the top of a diligence.


The greatest diligence we have seen, one of the few of the old-fashioned
sort, is the one from Geneva to Chamouny. It leaves early in the
morning; and there is always a crowd about it to see the mount and
start. The great ark stands before the diligence-office, and, for half
an hour before the hour of starting, the porters are busy stowing
away the baggage, and getting the passengers on board. On top, in the
banquette, are seats for eight, besides the postilion and guard; in the
coupe, under the postilion’s seat and looking upon the horses, seats for
three; in the interior, for three; and on top, behind, for six or eight.
The baggage is stowed in the capacious bowels of the vehicle. At seven,
the six horses are brought out and hitched on, three abreast. We climb
up a ladder to the banquette: there is an irascible Frenchman, who gets
into the wrong seat; and before he gets right there is a terrible war
of words between him and the guard and the porters and the hostlers,
everybody joining in with great vivacity; in front of us are three quiet
Americans, and a slim Frenchman with a tall hat and one eye-glass. The
postilion gets up to his place. Crack, crack, crack, goes the whip; and,
amid “sensation” from the crowd, we are off at a rattling pace, the whip
cracking all the time like Chinese fireworks. The great passion of the
drivers is noise; and they keep the whip going all day. No sooner does a
fresh one mount the box than he gives a half-dozen preliminary snaps; to
which the horses pay no heed, as they know it is only for the driver’s
amusement. We go at a good gait, changing horses every six miles, till
we reach the Baths of St. Gervais, where we dine, from near which we
get our first glimpse of Mont Blanc through clouds,--a section of a
dazzlingly white glacier, a very exciting thing to the imagination.
Thence we go on in small carriages, over a still excellent but more
hilly road, and begin to enter the real mountain wonders; until, at
length, real glaciers pouring down out of the clouds nearly to the road
meet us, and we enter the narrow Valley of Chamouny, through which we
drive to the village in a rain.

Everybody goes to Chamouny, and up the Flegere, and to Montanvert, and
over the Mer de Glace; and nearly everybody down the Mauvais Pas to the
Chapeau, and so back to the village. It is all easy to do; and yet
we saw some French people at the Chapeau who seemed to think they had
accomplished the most hazardous thing in the world in coming down the
rocks of the Mauvais Pas. There is, as might be expected, a great deal
of humbug about the difficulty of getting about in the Alps, and the
necessity of guides. Most of the dangers vanish on near approach. The
Mer de Glace is inferior to many other glaciers, and is not nearly so
fine as the Glacier des Bossons: but it has a reputation, and is easy of
access; so people are content to walk over the dirty ice. One sees it
to better effect from below, or he must ascend it to the Jardin to know
that it has deep crevasses, and is as treacherous as it is grand. And
yet no one will be disappointed at the view from Montanvert, of the
upper glacier, and the needles of rock and snow which rise beyond.

We met at the Chapeau two jolly young fellows from Charleston, S. C.
who had been in the war, on the wrong side. They knew no language but
American, and were unable to order a cutlet and an omelet for breakfast.
They said they believed they were going over the Tete Noire. They
supposed they had four mules waiting for them somewhere, and a guide;
but they couldn’t understand a word he said, and he couldn’t understand
them. The day before, they had nearly perished of thirst, because they
could n’t make their guide comprehend that they wanted water. One
of them had slung over his shoulder an Alpine horn, which he blew
occasionally, and seemed much to enjoy. All this while we sit on a rock
at the foot of the Mauvais Pas, looking out upon the green glacier,
which here piles itself up finely, and above to the Aiguilles de Charmoz
and the innumerable ice-pinnacles that run up to the clouds, while our
muleteer is getting his breakfast. This is his third breakfast this

The day after we reached Chamouny, Monseigneur the bishop arrived there
on one of his rare pilgrimages into these wild valleys. Nearly all the
way down from Geneva, we had seen signs of his coming, in preparations
as for the celebration of a great victory. I did not know at first but
the Atlantic cable had been laid; or rather that the decorations were on
account of the news of it reaching this region. It was a holiday for
all classes; and everybody lent a hand to the preparations. First, the
little church where the confirmations were to take place was trimmed
within and without; and an arch of green spanned the gateway. At Les
Pres, the women were sweeping the road, and the men were setting small
evergreen-trees on each side. The peasants were in their best clothes;
and in front of their wretched hovels were tables set out with flowers.
So cheerful and eager were they about the bishop, that they forgot to
beg as we passed: the whole valley was in a fever of expectation. At one
hamlet on the mulepath over the Tete Noire, where the bishop was that
day expected, and the women were sweeping away all dust and litter
from the road, I removed my hat, and gravely thanked them for their
thoughtful preparation for our coming. But they only stared a little, as
if we were not worthy to be even forerunners of Monseigneur.

I do not care to write here how serious a drawback to the pleasures of
this region are its inhabitants. You get the impression that half of
them are beggars. The other half are watching for a chance to prey upon
you in other ways. I heard of a woman in the Zermatt Valley who refused
pay for a glass of milk; but I did not have time to verify the report.
Besides the beggars, who may or may not be horrid-looking creatures,
there are the grinning Cretins, the old women with skins of parchment
and the goitre, and even young children with the loathsome appendage,
the most wretched and filthy hovels, and the dirtiest, ugliest people in
them. The poor women are the beasts of burden. They often lead, mowing
in the hayfield; they carry heavy baskets on their backs; they balance
on their heads and carry large washtubs full of water. The more
appropriate load of one was a cradle with a baby in it, which seemed not
at all to fear falling. When one sees how the women are treated, he does
not wonder that there are so many deformed, hideous children. I think
the pretty girl has yet to be born in Switzerland.

This is not much about the Alps? Ah, well, the Alps are there. Go
read your guide-book, and find out what your emotions are. As I said,
everybody goes to Chamouny. Is it not enough to sit at your window, and
watch the clouds when they lift from the Mont Blanc range, disclosing
splendor after splendor, from the Aiguille de Goute to the Aiguille
Verte,--white needles which pierce the air for twelve thousand feet,
until, jubilate! the round summit of the monarch himself is visible, and
the vast expanse of white snow-fields, the whiteness of which is rather
of heaven than of earth, dazzles the eyes, even at so great a distance?
Everybody who is patient and waits in the cold and inhospitable-looking
valley of the Chamouny long enough, sees Mont Blanc; but every one
does not see a sunset of the royal order. The clouds breaking up and
clearing, after days of bad weather, showed us height after height,
and peak after peak, now wreathing the summits, now settling below or
hanging in patches on the sides, and again soaring above, until we had
the whole range lying, far and brilliant, in the evening light. The
clouds took on gorgeous colors, at length, and soon the snow caught the
hue, and whole fields were rosy pink, while uplifted peaks glowed red,
as with internal fire. Only Mont Blanc, afar off, remained purely white,
in a kind of regal inaccessibility. And, afterward, one star came out
over it, and a bright light shone from the hut on the Grand Mulets, a
rock in the waste of snow, where a Frenchman was passing the night on
his way to the summit.

Shall I describe the passage of the Tete Noire? My friend, it is
twenty-four miles, a road somewhat hilly, with splendid views of
Mont Blanc in the morning, and of the Bernese Oberland range in the
afternoon, when you descend into Martigny,--a hot place in the dusty
Rhone Valley, which has a comfortable hotel, with a pleasant garden, in
which you sit after dinner and let the mosquitoes eat you.


It was eleven o’clock at night when we reached Sion, a dirty little town
at the end of the Rhone Valley Railway, and got into the omnibus for the
hotel; and it was also dark and rainy. They speak German in this part
of Switzerland, or what is called German. There were two very pleasant
Americans, who spoke American, going on in the diligence at half-past
five in the morning, on their way over the Simplex. One of them was
accustomed to speak good, broad English very distinctly to all races;
and he seemed to expect that he must be understood if he repeated his
observations in a louder tone, as he always did. I think he would force
all this country to speak English in two months. We all desired to
secure places in the diligence, which was likely to be full, as is
usually the case when a railway discharges itself into a postroad.

We were scarcely in the omnibus, when the gentleman said to the

“I want two places in the coupe of the diligence in the morning. Can I
have them?”

“Yah” replied the good-natured German, who did n’t understand a word.

“Two places, diligence, coupe, morning. Is it full?”

“Yah,” replied the accommodating fellow. “Hotel man spik English.”

I suggested the banquette as desirable, if it could be obtained, and the
German was equally willing to give it to us. Descending from the omnibus
at the hotel, in a drizzling rain, and amidst a crowd of porters
and postilions and runners, the “man who spoke English” immediately
presented himself; and upon him the American pounced with a torrent of
questions. He was a willing, lively little waiter, with his moony face
on the top of his head; and he jumped round in the rain like a parching
pea, rolling his head about in the funniest manner.

The American steadied the little man by the collar, and began, “I want
to secure two seats in the coupe of the diligence in the morning.”

“Yaas,” jumping round, and looking from one to another. “Diligence,
coupe, morning.”

“I--want--two seats--in--coupe. If I can’t get them,

“Yaas banquette, coupe,--yaas, diligence.”

“Do you understand? Two seats, diligence, Simplon, morning. Will you get

“Oh, yaas! morning, diligence. Yaas, sirr.”

“Hang the fellow! Where is the office?” And the gentleman left the
spry little waiter bobbing about in the middle of the street, speaking
English, but probably comprehending nothing that was said to him. I
inquired the way to the office of the conductor: it was closed, but
would soon be open, and I waited; and at length the official, a stout
Frenchman, appeared, and I secured places in the interior, the only ones
to be had to Visp. I had seen a diligence at the door with three places
in the coupe, and one perched behind; no banquette. The office is
brightly lighted; people are waiting to secure places; there is the
usual crowd of loafers, men and women, and the Frenchman sits at his
desk. Enter the American.

“I want two places in coupe, in the morning. Or banquette. Two places,
diligence.” The official waves him off, and says something.

“What does he say?”

“He tells you to sit down on that bench till he is ready.”

Soon the Frenchman has run over his big waybills, and turns to us.

“I want two places in the diligence, coupe,” etc, etc, says the

This remark being lost on the official, I explain to him as well as I
can what is wanted, at first,--two places in the coupe.

“One is taken,” is his reply.

“The gentleman will take two,” I said, having in mind the diligence in
the yard, with three places in the coupe.

“One is taken,” he repeats.

“Then the gentleman will take the other two.”

“One is taken!” he cries, jumping up and smiting the table,--“one is
taken, I tell you!”

“How many are there in the coupe?”


“Oh! then the gentleman will take the one remaining in the coupe and the
one on top.”

So it is arranged. When I come back to the hotel, the Americans are
explaining to the lively waiter “who speaks English” that they are to
go in the diligence at half-past five, and that they are to be called at
half-past four and have breakfast. He knows all about it,--“Diligence,
half-past four breakfast, Oh, yaas!” While I have been at the
diligence-office, my companions have secured room and gone to them; and
I ask the waiter to show m to my room. First, however, I tell him that
we three two ladies and myself, who came together, are going in the
diligence at half-past five, and want to be called and have breakfast.
Did he comprehend?

“Yaas,” rolling his face about on the top of his head violently. “You
three gentleman want breakfast. What you have?”

I had told him before what we would I have, an now I gave up all hope of
keeping our parties separate in his mind; so I said, “Five persons want
breakfast at five o’clock. Five persons, five hours. Call all of them
at half-past four.” And I repeated it, and made him repeat it in English
and French. He then insisted on putting me into the room of one of the
American gentlemen and then he knocked at the door of a lady, who cried
out in indignation at being disturbed; and, finally, I found my room.
At the door I reiterated the instructions for the morning; and he
cheerfully bade me good-night. But he almost immediately came back, and
poked in his head with,--

“Is you go by de diligence?”

“Yes, you stupid.”

In the morning one of our party was called at halfpast three, and saved
the rest of us from a like fate; and we were not aroused at all, but
woke early enough to get down and find the diligence nearly ready, and
no breakfast, but “the man who spoke English” as lively as ever. And we
had a breakfast brought out, so filthy in all respects that nobody could
eat it. Fortunately, there was not time to seriously try; but we paid
for it, and departed. The two American gentlemen sat in front of the
house, waiting. The lively waiter had called them at half-past three,
for the railway train, instead of the diligence; and they had their
wretched breakfast early. They will remember the funny adventure with
“the man who speaks English,” and, no doubt, unite with us in
warmly commending the Hotel Lion d’Or at Sion as the nastiest inn in


When one leaves the dusty Rhone Valley, and turns southward from Visp,
he plunges into the wildest and most savage part of Switzerland, and
penetrates the heart of the Alps. The valley is scarcely more than a
narrow gorge, with high precipices on either side, through which the
turbid and rapid Visp tears along at a furious rate, boiling and leaping
in foam over its rocky bed, and nearly as large as the Rhone at the
junction. From Visp to St. Nicolaus, twelve miles, there is only a
mule-path, but a very good one, winding along on the slope, sometimes
high up, and again descending to cross the stream, at first by vineyards
and high stone walls, and then on the edges of precipices, but always
romantic and wild. It is noon when we set out from Visp, in true pilgrim
fashion, and the sun is at first hot; but as we slowly rise up the easy
ascent, we get a breeze, and forget the heat in the varied charms of the

Everything for the use of the upper valley and Zermatt, now a place of
considerable resort, must be carried by porters, or on horseback; and we
pass or meet men and women, sometimes a dozen of them together, laboring
along under the long, heavy baskets, broad at the top and coming
nearly to a point below, which are universally used here for carrying
everything. The tubs for transporting water are of the same sort. There
is no level ground, but every foot is cultivated. High up on the sides
of the precipices, where it seems impossible for a goat to climb, are
vineyards and houses, and even villages, hung on slopes, nearly up to
the clouds, and with no visible way of communication with the rest of
the world.

In two hours’ time we are at Stalden, a village perched upon a rocky
promontory, at the junction of the valleys of the Saas and the Visp,
with a church and white tower conspicuous from afar. We climb up to the
terrace in front of it, on our way into the town. A seedy-looking priest
is pacing up and down, taking the fresh breeze, his broad-brimmed,
shabby hat held down upon the wall by a big stone. His clothes are worn
threadbare; and he looks as thin and poor as a Methodist minister in
a stony town at home, on three hundred a year. He politely returns our
salutation, and we walk on. Nearly all the priests in this region
look wretchedly poor,--as poor as the people. Through crooked, narrow
streets, with houses overhanging and thrusting out corners and gables,
houses with stables below, and quaint carvings and odd little windows
above, the panes of glass hexagons, so that the windows looked like
sections of honey-comb,--we found our way to the inn, a many-storied
chalet, with stairs on the outside, stone floors in the upper passages,
and no end of queer rooms; built right in the midst of other houses as
odd, decorated with German-text carving, from the windows of which the
occupants could look in upon us, if they had cared to do so; but they
did not. They seem little interested in anything; and no wonder, with
their hard fight with Nature. Below is a wine-shop, with a little side
booth, in which some German travelers sit drinking their wine, and
sputtering away in harsh gutturals. The inn is very neat inside, and we
are well served. Stalden is high; but away above it on the opposite side
is a village on the steep slope, with a slender white spire that rivals
some of the snowy needles. Stalden is high, but the hill on which it
stands is rich in grass. The secret of the fertile meadows is the most
thorough irrigation. Water is carried along the banks from the river,
and distributed by numerous sluiceways below; and above, the little
mountain streams are brought where they are needed by artificial
channels. Old men and women in the fields were constantly changing the
direction of the currents. All the inhabitants appeared to be porters:
women were transporting on their backs baskets full of soil; hay was
being backed to the stables; burden-bearers were coming and going upon
the road: we were told that there are only three horses in the place.
There is a pleasant girl who brings us luncheon at the inn; but the
inhabitants for the most part are as hideous as those we see all day:
some have hardly the shape of human beings, and they all live in the
most filthy manner in the dirtiest habitations. A chalet is a sweet
thing when you buy a little model of it at home.

After we leave Stalden, the walk becomes more picturesque, the
precipices are higher, the gorges deeper. It required some engineering
to carry the footpath round the mountain buttresses and over the
ravines. Soon the village of Emd appears on the right,--a very
considerable collection of brown houses, and a shining white
church-spire, above woods and precipices and apparently unscalable
heights, on a green spot which seems painted on the precipices; with
nothing visible to keep the whole from sliding down, down, into the
gorge of the Visp. Switzerland may not have so much population to the
square mile as some countries; but she has a population to some of
her square miles that would astonish some parts of the earth’s
surface elsewhere. Farther on we saw a faint, zigzag footpath, that we
conjectured led to Emd; but it might lead up to heaven. All day we had
been solicited for charity by squalid little children, who kiss their
nasty little paws at us, and ask for centimes. The children of Emd,
however, did not trouble us. It must be a serious affair if they ever
roll out of bed.

Late in the afternoon thunder began to tumble about the hills, and
clouds snatched away from our sight the snow-peaks at the end of the
valley; and at length the rain fell on those who had just arrived and
on the unjust. We took refuge from the hardest of it in a lonely chalet
high up on the hillside, where a roughly dressed, frowzy Swiss, who
spoke bad German, and said he was a schoolmaster, gave us a bench in the
shed of his schoolroom. He had only two pupils in attendance, and I
did not get a very favorable impression of this high school. Its
master quite overcame us with thanks when we gave him a few centimes on
leaving. It still rained, and we arrived in St. Nicolaus quite damp.

There is a decent road from St. Nicolaus to Zermatt, over which go
wagons without springs. The scenery is constantly grander as we
ascend. The day is not wholly clear; but high on our right are the vast
snow-fields of the Weishorn, and out of the very clouds near it seems
to pour the Bies Glacier. In front are the splendid Briethorn, with its
white, round summit; the black Riffelhorn; the sharp peak of the little
Matterhorn; and at last the giant Matterhorn itself rising before us,
the most finished and impressive single mountain in Switzerland. Not
so high as Mont Blanc by a thousand feet, it appears immense in its
isolated position and its slender aspiration. It is a huge pillar of
rock, with sharply cut edges, rising to a defined point, dusted with
snow, so that the rock is only here and there revealed. To ascend it
seems as impossible as to go up the Column of Luxor; and one can believe
that the gentlemen who first attempted it in 1864, and lost their lives,
did fall four thousand feet before their bodies rested on the glacier

We did not stay at Zermatt, but pushed on for the hotel on the top of
the Riffelberg,--a very stiff and tiresome climb of about three hours,
an unending pull up a stony footpath. Within an hour of the top, and
when the white hotel is in sight above the zigzag on the breast of the
precipice, we reach a green and widespread Alp where hundreds of cows
are feeding, watched by two forlorn women,--the “milkmaids all forlorn”
 of poetry. At the rude chalets we stop, and get draughts of rich, sweet
cream. As we wind up the slope, the tinkling of multitudinous bells from
the herd comes to us, which is also in the domain of poetry. All the way
up we have found wild flowers in the greatest profusion; and the higher
we ascend, the more exquisite is their color and the more perfect their
form. There are pansies; gentians of a deeper blue than flower ever was
before; forget-me-nots, a pink variety among them; violets, the Alpine
rose and the Alpine violet; delicate pink flowers of moss; harebells;
and quantities for which we know no names, more exquisite in shape and
color than the choicest products of the greenhouse. Large slopes are
covered with them,--a brilliant show to the eye, and most pleasantly
beguiling the way of its tediousness. As high as I ascended, I still
found some of these delicate flowers, the pink moss growing in profusion
amongst the rocks of the GornerGrat, and close to the snowdrifts.

The inn on the Riffelberg is nearly eight thousand feet high, almost two
thousand feet above the hut on Mount Washington; yet it is not so cold
and desolate as the latter. Grass grows and flowers bloom on its smooth
upland, and behind it and in front of it are the snow-peaks. That
evening we essayed the Gorner-Grat, a rocky ledge nearly ten thousand
feet above the level of the sea; but after a climb of an hour and a
half, and a good view of Monte Rosa and the glaciers and peaks of that
range, we were prevented from reaching the summit, and driven back by
a sharp storm of hail and rain. The next morning I started for the
GornerGrat again, at four o’clock. The Matterhorn lifted its huge bulk
sharply against the sky, except where fleecy clouds lightly draped it
and fantastically blew about it. As I ascended, and turned to look at
it, its beautifully cut peak had caught the first ray of the sun, and
burned with a rosy glow. Some great clouds drifted high in the air: the
summits of the Breithorn, the Lyscamm, and their companions, lay cold
and white; but the snow down their sides had a tinge of pink. When I
stood upon the summit of the Gorner-Grat, the two prominent silver peaks
of Monte Rosa were just touched with the sun, and its great snow-fields
were visible to the glacier at its base. The Gorner-Grat is a rounded
ridge of rock, entirely encirled by glaciers and snow-peaks. The
panorama from it is unexcelled in Switzerland.

Returning down the rocky steep, I descried, solitary in that great waste
of rock and snow, the form of a lady whom I supposed I had left sleeping
at the inn, overcome with the fatigue of yesterday’s tramp. Lured on
by the apparently short distance to the backbone of the ridge, she had
climbed the rocks a mile or more above the hotel, and come to meet me.
She also had seen the great peaks lift themselves out of the gray dawn,
and Monte Rosa catch the first rays. We stood awhile together to see
how jocund day ran hither and thither along the mountain-tops, until
the light was all abroad, and then silently turned downward, as one goes
from a mount of devotion.


In order to make the pass of the Gemmi, it is necessary to go through
the Baths of Leuk. The ascent from the Rhone bridge at Susten is full of
interest, affording fine views of the valley, which is better to look at
than to travel through, and bringing you almost immediately to the old
town of Leuk, a queer, old, towered place, perched on a precipice, with
the oddest inn, and a notice posted up to the effect, that any one who
drives through its steep streets faster than a walk will be fined five
francs. I paid nothing extra for a fast walk. The road, which is one of
the best in the country, is a wonderful piece of engineering, spanning
streams, cut in rock, rounding precipices, following the wild valley of
the Dala by many a winding and zigzag.

The Baths of Leuk, or Loeche-les-Bains, or Leukerbad, is a little
village at the very head of the valley, over four thousand feet above
the sea, and overhung by the perpendicular walls of the Gemmi, which
rise on all sides, except the south, on an average of two thousand
feet above it. There is a nest of brown houses, clustered together like
bee-hives, into which the few inhabitants creep to hibernate in the long
winters, and several shops, grand hotels, and bathing-houses open for
the season. Innumerable springs issue out of this green, sloping meadow
among the mountains, some of them icy cold, but over twenty of them hot,
and seasoned with a great many disagreeable sulphates, carbonates, and
oxides, and varying in temperature from ninety-five to one hundred and
twenty-three degrees Fahrenheit. Italians, French, and Swiss resort
here in great numbers to take the baths, which are supposed to be very
efficacious for rheumatism and cutaneous affections. Doubtless many of
them do up their bathing for the year while here; and they may need no
more after scalding and soaking in this water for a couple of months.

Before we reached the hotel, we turned aside into one of the
bath-houses. We stood inhaling a sickly steam in a large, close hall,
which was wholly occupied by a huge vat, across which low partitions,
with bridges, ran, dividing it into four compartments. When we entered,
we were assailed with yells in many languages, and howls in the common
tongue, as if all the fiends of the pit had broken loose. We took off
our hats in obedience to the demand; but the clamor did not wholly
subside, and was mingled with singing and horrible laughter. Floating
about in each vat, we at first saw twenty or thirty human heads. The
women could be distinguished from the men by the manner of dressing the
hair. Each wore a loose woolen gown. Each had a little table floating
before him or her, which he or she pushed about at pleasure. One wore
a hideous mask; another kept diving in the opaque pool and coming up to
blow, like the hippopotamus in the Zoological Gardens; some were taking
a lunch from their tables, others playing chess; some sitting on the
benches round the edges, with only heads out of water, as doleful as
owls, while others roamed about, engaged in the game of spattering with
their comrades, and sang and shouted at the top of their voices. The
people in this bath were said to be second class; but they looked as
well and behaved better than those of the first class, whom we saw in
the establishment at our hotel afterward.

It may be a valuable scientific fact, that the water in these vats, in
which people of all sexes, all diseases, and all nations spend so many
hours of the twenty-four, is changed once a day. The temperature at
which the bath is given is ninety-eight. The water is let in at night,
and allowed to cool. At five in the morning, the bathers enter it, and
remain until ten o’clock,--five hours, having breakfast served to them
on the floating tables, “as they sail, as they sail.” They then have a
respite till two, and go in till five. Eight hours in hot water! Nothing
can be more disgusting than the sight of these baths. Gustave Dore
must have learned here how to make those ghostly pictures of the
lost floating about in the Stygian pools, in his illustrations of the
Inferno; and the rocks and cavernous precipices may have enabled him
to complete the picture. On what principle cures are effected in these
filthy vats, I could not learn. I have a theory, that, where so many
diseases meet and mingle in one swashing fluid, they neutralize each
other. It may be that the action is that happily explained by one of
the Hibernian bathmen in an American water-cure establishment. “You see,
sir,” said he, “that the shock of the water unites with the electricity
of the system, and explodes the disease.” I should think that the shock
to one’s feeling of decency and cleanliness, at these baths, would
explode any disease in Europe. But, whatever the result may be, I am not
sorry to see so many French and Italians soak themselves once a year.

Out of the bath these people seem to enjoy life. There is a long
promenade, shaded and picturesque, which they take at evening, sometimes
as far as the Ladders, eight of which are fastened, in a shackling
manner, to the perpendicular rocks,--a high and somewhat dangerous
ascent to the village of Albinen, but undertaken constantly by peasants
with baskets on their backs. It is in winter the only mode Leukerbad
has of communicating with the world; and in summer it is the only way of
reaching Albinen, except by a long journey down the Dala and up another
valley and height. The bathers were certainly very lively and social at
table-d’hote, where we had the pleasure of meeting some hundred of
them, dressed. It was presumed that the baths were the subject of the
entertaining conversation; for I read in a charming little work which
sets forth the delights of Leuk, that La poussee forms the staple of
most of the talk. La poussee, or, as this book poetically calls it,
“that daughter of the waters of Loeche,” “that eruption of which we
have already spoken, and which proves the action of the baths upon the
skin,”--becomes the object, and often the end, of all conversation. And
it gives specimens of this pleasant converse, as:

“Comment va votre poussee?”

“Avez-vous la poussee?”

“Je suis en pleine poussee”

“Ma poussee s’est fort bien passee!”

Indeed says this entertaining tract, sans poussee, one would not be able
to hold, at table or in the salon, with a neighbor of either sex,
the least conversation. Further, it is by grace a la poussee that one
arrives at those intimacies which are the characteristics of the baths.
Blessed, then, be La poussee, which renders possible such a high society
and such select and entertaining conversation! Long may the bathers of
Leuk live to soak and converse! In the morning, when we departed for the
ascent of the Gemmi, we passed one of the bathing-houses. I fancied that
a hot steam issued out of the crevices; from within came a discord of
singing and caterwauling; and, as a door swung open, I saw that the
heads floating about on the turbid tide were eating breakfast from the
swimming tables.


I spent some time, the evening before, studying the face of the cliff we
were to ascend, to discover the path; but I could only trace its zigzag
beginning. When we came to the base of the rock, we found a way cut, a
narrow path, most of the distance hewn out of the rock, winding upward
along the face of the precipice. The view, as one rises, is of
the break-neck description. The way is really safe enough, even on
mule-back, ascending; but one would be foolhardy to ride down. We met a
lady on the summit who was about to be carried down on a chair; and
she seemed quite to like the mode of conveyance: she had harnessed her
husband in temporarily for one of the bearers, which made it still more
jolly for her. When we started, a cloud of mist hung over the edge of
the rocks. As we rose, it descended to meet us, and sunk below, hiding
the valley and its houses, which had looked like Swiss toys from our
height. When we reached the summit, the mist came boiling up after us,
rising like a thick wall to the sky, and hiding all that great mountain
range, the Vallais Alps, from which we had come, and which we hoped
to see from this point. Fortunately, there were no clouds on the other
side, and we looked down into a magnificent rocky basin, encircled by
broken and overtopping crags and snow-fields, at the bottom of which was
a green lake. It is one of the wildest of scenes.

An hour from the summit, we came to a green Alp, where a herd of cows
were feeding; and in the midst of it were three or four dirty chalets,
where pigs, chickens, cattle, and animals constructed very much like
human beings, lived; yet I have nothing to say against these chalets,
for we had excellent cream there. We had, on the way down, fine views
of the snowy Altels, the Rinderhorn, the Finster-Aarhorn, a deep valley
which enormous precipices guard, but which avalanches nevertheless
invade, and, farther on, of the Blumlisalp, with its summit of
crystalline whiteness. The descent to Kandersteg is very rapid, and in
a rain slippery. This village is a resort for artists for its splendid
views of the range we had crossed: it stands at the gate of the
mountains. From there to the Lake of Thun is a delightful drive,--a rich
country, with handsome cottages and a charming landscape, even if the
pyramidal Niesen did not lift up its seven thousand feet on the edge
of the lake. So, through a smiling land, and in the sunshine after the
rain, we come to Spiez, and find ourselves at a little hotel on the
slope, overlooking town and lake and mountains.

Spiez is not large: indeed, its few houses are nearly all picturesquely
grouped upon a narrow rib of land which is thrust into the lake on
purpose to make the loveliest picture in the world. There is the old
castle, with its many slim spires and its square-peaked roofed tower;
the slender-steepled church; a fringe of old houses below on the lake,
one overhanging towards the point; and the promontory, finished by a
willow drooping to the water. Beyond, in hazy light, over the lucid
green of the lake, are mountains whose masses of rock seem soft and
sculptured. To the right, at the foot of the lake, tower the great snowy
mountains, the cone of the Schreckhorn, the square top of the Eiger, the
Jungfrau, just showing over the hills, and the Blumlisalp rising into
heaven clear and silvery.

What can one do in such a spot, but swim in the lake, lie on the shore,
and watch the passing steamers and the changing light on the mountains?
Down at the wharf, when the small boats put off for the steamer, one can
well entertain himself. The small boat is an enormous thing, after all,
and propelled by two long, heavy sweeps, one of which is pulled, and the
other pushed. The laboring oar is, of course, pulled by a woman; while
her husband stands up in the stern of the boat, and gently dips the
other in a gallant fashion. There is a boy there, whom I cannot make
out,--a short, square boy, with tasseled skull-cap, and a face that
never changes its expression, and never has any expression to change; he
may be older than these hills; he looks old enough to be his own father:
and there is a girl, his counterpart, who might be, judging her age by
her face, the mother of both of them. These solemn old-young people are
quite busy doing nothing about the wharf, and appear to be afflicted
with an undue sense of the responsibility of life. There is a
beer-garden here, where several sober couples sit seriously drinking
their beer. There are some horrid old women, with the parchment skin and
the disagreeable necks. Alone, in a window of the castle, sits a lady
at her work, who might be the countess; only, I am sorry, there is no
countess, nothing but a frau, in that old feudal dwelling. And there is
a foreigner, thinking how queer it all is. And while he sits there, the
melodious bell in the church-tower rings its evening song.



We left Switzerland, as we entered it, in a rain,--a kind of double
baptism that may have been necessary, and was certainly not too heavy a
price to pay for the privileges of the wonderful country. The wind blew
freshly, and swept a shower over the deck of the little steamboat,
on board of which we stepped from the shabby little pier and town of
Romanshorn. After the other Swiss lakes, Constance is tame, except at
the southern end, beyond which rise the Appenzell range and the wooded
peaks of the Bavarian hills. Through the dash of rain, and under the
promise of a magnificent rainbow,--rainbows don’t mean anything in
Switzerland, and have no office as weather-prophets, except to assure
you, that, as it rains to-day, so it will rain tomorrow,--we skirted the
lower bend of the lake,--and at twilight sailed into the little harbor
of Lindau, through the narrow entrance between the piers, on one of
which is a small lighthouse, and on the other sits upright a gigantic
stone lion,--a fine enough figure of a Bavarian lion, but with a
comical, wide-awake, and expectant expression of countenance, as if
he might bark right out at any minute, and become a dog. Yet in the
moonlight, shortly afterward, the lion looked very grand and stately,
as he sat regarding the softly plashing waves, and the high, drifting
clouds, and the old Roman tower by the bridge which connects the Island
of Lindau with the mainland, and thinking perhaps, if stone lions ever
do think, of the time when Roman galleys sailed on Lake Constance, and
when Lindau was an imperial town with a thriving trade.

On board the little steamer was an American, accompanied by two ladies,
and traveling, I thought, for their gratification, who was very anxious
to get on faster than he was able to do,--though why any one should
desire to go fast in Europe I do not know. One easily falls into the
habit of the country, to take things easily, to go when the slow German
fates will, and not to worry one’s self beforehand about times and
connections. But the American was in a fever of impatience, desirous, if
possible, to get on that night. I knew he was from the Land of the Free
by a phrase I heard him use in the cars: he said, “I’ll bet a dollar.”
 Yet I must flatter myself that Americans do not always thus betray
themselves. I happened, on the Isle of Wight, to hear a bland landlord
“blow up” his glib-tongued son because the latter had not driven a
stiffer bargain with us for the hire of a carriage round the island.

“Didn’t you know they were Americans?” asks the irate father. “I knew it
at once.”

“No,” replies young hopeful: “they didn’t say GUESS once.”

And straightway the fawning-innkeeper returns to us, professing, with
his butter-lips, the greatest admiration of all Americans, and the
intensest anxiety to serve them, and all for pure good-will. The English
are even more bloodthirsty at sight of a travelere than the Swiss,
and twice as obsequious. But to return to our American. He had all the
railway timetables that he could procure; and he was busily studying
them, with the design of “getting on.” I heard him say to his
companions, as he ransacked his pockets, that he was a mass of
hotel-bills and timetables. He confided to me afterward, that his wife
and her friend had got it into their heads that they must go both to
Vienna and Berlin. Was Berlin much out of the way in going from Vienna
to Paris? He said they told him it was n’t. At any rate, he must
get round at such a date: he had no time to spare. Then, besides the
slowness of getting on, there were the trunks. He lost a trunk in
Switzerland, and consumed a whole day in looking it up. While the
steamboat lay at the wharf at Rorschach, two stout porters came
on board, and shouldered his baggage to take it ashore. To his
remonstrances in English they paid no heed; and it was some time before
they could be made to understand that the trunks were to go on to
Lindau. “There,” said he, “I should have lost my trunks. Nobody
understands what I tell them: I can’t get any information.” Especially
was he unable to get any information as to how to “get on.” I confess
that the restless American almost put me into a fidget, and revived
the American desire to “get on,” to take the fast trains, make all the
connections,--in short, in the handsome language of the great West,
to “put her through.” When I last saw our traveler, he was getting his
luggage through the custom-house, still undecided whether to push on
that night at eleven o’clock. But I forgot all about him and his hurry
when, shortly after, we sat at the table-d’hote at the hotel, and the
sedate Germans lit their cigars, some of them before they had finished
eating, and sat smoking as if there were plenty of leisure for
everything in this world.


After a slow ride, of nearly eight hours, in what, in Germany, is called
an express train, through a rain and clouds that hid from our view the
Tyrol and the Swabian mountains, over a rolling, pleasant country,
past pretty little railway station-houses, covered with vines, gay
with flowers in the windows, and surrounded with beds of flowers, past
switchmen in flaming scarlet jackets, who stand at the switches and
raise the hand to the temple, and keep it there, in a military salute,
as we go by, we come into old Augsburg, whose Confession is not so fresh
in our minds as it ought to be. Portions of the ancient wall remain, and
many of the towers; and there are archways, picturesquely opening from
street to street, under several of which we drive on our way to the
Three Moors, a stately hostelry and one of the oldest in Germany.

It stood here in the year 1500; and the room is still shown, unchanged
since then, in which the rich Count Fugger entertained Charles V. The
chambers are nearly all immense. That in which we are lodged is
large enough for Queen Victoria; indeed, I am glad to say that her
sleeping-room at St. Cloud was not half so spacious. One feels either
like a count, or very lonesome, to sit down in a lofty chamber, say
thirty-five feet square, with little furniture, and historical and
tragical life-size figures staring at one from the wall-paper. One
fears that they may come down in the deep night, and stand at the
bedside,--those narrow, canopied beds there in the distance, like the
marble couches in the cathedral. It must be a fearful thing to be a
royal person, and dwell in a palace, with resounding rooms and naked,
waxed, inlaid floors. At the Three Moors one sees a visitors’ book,
begun in 1800, which contains the names of many noble and great people,
as well as poets and doctors and titled ladies, and much sentimental
writing in French. It is my impression, from an inspection of the book,
that we are the first untitled visitors.

The traveler cannot but like Augsburg at once, for its quaint houses,
colored so diversely and yet harmoniously. Remains of its former
brilliancy yet exist in the frescoes on the outside of the buildings,
some of which are still bright in color, though partially defaced. Those
on the House of Fugger have been restored, and are very brave pictures.
These frescoes give great animation and life to the appearance of a
street, and I am glad to see a taste for them reviving. Augsburg must
have been very gay with them two and three hundred years ago, when,
also, it was the home of beautiful women of the middle class, who
married princes. We went to see the house in which lived the beautiful
Agnes Bernauer, daughter of a barber, who married Duke Albert III. of
Bavaria. The house was nought, as old Samuel Pepys would say, only a
high stone building, in a block of such; but it is enough to make a
house attractive for centuries if a pretty woman once looks out of its
latticed windows, as I have no doubt Agnes often did when the duke and
his retinue rode by in clanking armor.

But there is no lack of reminders of old times. The cathedral, which was
begun before the Christian era could express its age with four figures,
has two fine portals, with quaint carving, and bronze doors of very old
work, whereon the story of Eve and the serpent is literally given,--a
representation of great theological, if of small artistic value. And
there is the old clock and watch tower, which for eight hundred years
has enabled the Augsburgers to keep the time of day and to look out over
the plain for the approach of an enemy. The city is full of fine
bronze fountains some of them of very elaborate design, and adding a
convenience and a beauty to the town which American cities wholly want.
In one quarter of the town is the Fuggerei, a little city by itself,
surrounded by its own wall, the gates of which are shut at night, with
narrow streets and neat little houses. It was built by Hans Jacob
Fugger the Rich, as long ago as 1519, and is still inhabited by indigent
Roman-Catholic families, according to the intention of its founder. In
the windows were lovely flowers. I saw in the street several of those
mysterious, short, old women,--so old and yet so little, all body and
hardly any legs, who appear to have grown down into the ground with
advancing years.

It happened to be a rainy day, and cold, on the 30th of July, when
we left Augsburg; and the flat fields through which we passed were
uninviting under the gray light. Large flocks of geese were feeding on
the windy plains, tended by boys and women, who are the living fences
of this country. I no longer wonder at the number of feather-beds at
the inns, under which we are apparently expected to sleep even in the
warmest nights. Shepherds with the regulation crooks also were watching
herds of sheep. Here and there a cluster of red-roofed houses were
huddled together into a village, and in all directions rose tapering
spires. Especially we marked the steeple of Blenheim, where Jack
Churchill won the name for his magnificent country-seat, early in the
eighteenth century. All this plain where the silly geese feed has been
marched over and fought over by armies time and again. We effect the
passage of, the Danube without difficulty, and on to Harburg, a little
town of little red houses, inhabited principally by Jews, huddled
under a rocky ridge, upon the summit of which is a picturesque medieval
castle, with many towers and turrets, in as perfect preservation as when
feudal flags floated over it. And so on, slowly, with long stops at many
stations, to give opportunity, I suppose, for the honest passengers to
take in supplies of beer and sausages, to Nuremberg.


Nuremberg, or Nurnberg, was built, I believe, about the beginning of
time. At least, in an old black-letter history of the city which I have
seen, illustrated with powerful wood-cuts, the first representation
is that of the creation of the world, which is immediately followed
by another of Nuremberg. No one who visits it is likely to dispute its
antiquity. “Nobody ever goes to Nuremberg but Americans,” said a cynical
British officer at Chamouny; “but they always go there. I never saw
an American who had n’t been or was not going to Nuremberg.” Well, I
suppose they wish to see the oldest-looking, and, next to a true Briton
on his travels, the oddest thing on the Continent. The city lives in the
past still, and on its memories, keeping its old walls and moat entire,
and nearly fourscore wall-towers, in stern array. But grass grows in
the moat, fruit trees thrive there, and vines clamber on the walls. One
wanders about in the queer streets with the feeling of being transported
back to the Middle Ages; but it is difficult to reproduce the impression
on paper. Who can describe the narrow and intricate ways; the odd
houses with many little gables; great roofs breaking out from eaves to
ridgepole, with dozens of dormer-windows; hanging balconies of stone,
carved and figure-beset, ornamented and frescoed fronts; the archways,
leading into queer courts and alleys, and out again into broad streets;
the towers and fantastic steeples; and the many old bridges, with
obelisks and memorials of triumphal entries of conquerors and princes?

The city, as I said, lives upon the memory of what it has been, and
trades upon relics of its former fame. What it would have been without
Albrecht Durer, and Adam Kraft the stone-mason, and Peter Vischer the
bronze-worker, and Viet Stoss who carved in wood, and Hans Sachs the
shoemaker and poet-minstrel, it is difficult to say. Their statues are
set up in the streets; their works still live in the churches and city
buildings,--pictures, and groups in stone and wood; and their statues,
in all sorts of carving, are reproduced, big and little, in all the
shop-windows, for sale. So, literally, the city is full of the memory
of them; and the business of the city, aside from its manufactory of
endless, curious toys, seems to consist in reproducing them and their
immortal works to sell to strangers.

Other cities project new things, and grow with a modern impetus:
Nuremberg lives in the past, and traffics on its ancient reputation. Of
course, we went to see the houses where these old worthies lived, and
the works of art they have left behind them,--things seen and described
by everybody. The stone carving about the church portals and on side
buttresses is inexpressibly quaint and naive. The subjects are sacred;
and with the sacred is mingled the comic, here as at Augsburg, where
over one portal of the cathedral, with saints and angels, monkeys
climb and gibber. A favorite subject is that of our Lord praying in the
Garden, while the apostles, who could not watch one hour, are sleeping
in various attitudes of stony comicality. All the stone-cutters seem to
have tried their chisels on this group, and there are dozens of
them. The wise and foolish virgins also stand at the church doors in
time-stained stone,--the one with a perked-up air of conscious virtue,
and the other with a penitent dejection that seems to merit better
treatment. Over the great portal of St. Lawrence--a magnificent
structure, with lofty twin spires and glorious rosewindow is carved “The
Last Judgment.” Underneath, the dead are climbing out of their stone
coffins; above sits the Judge, with the attending angels. On the right
hand go away the stiff, prim saints, in flowing robes, and with palms
and harps, up steps into heaven, through a narrow door which St. Peter
opens for them; while on the left depart the wicked, with wry faces and
distorted forms, down into the stone flames, towards which the Devil is
dragging them by their stony hair.

The interior of the Church of St. Lawrence is richer than any other I
remember, with its magnificent pillars of dark red stone, rising and
foliating out to form the roof; its splendid windows of stained glass,
glowing with sacred story; a high gallery of stone entirely round the
choir, and beautiful statuary on every column. Here, too, is the famous
Sacrament House of honest old Adam Kraft, the most exquisite thing I
ever saw in stone. The color is light gray; and it rises beside one of
the dark, massive pillars, sixty-four feet, growing to a point, which
then strikes the arch of the roof, and there curls up like a vine to
avoid it. The base is supported by the kneeling figures of Adam Kraft
and two fellow-workmen, who labored on it for four years. Above is
the Last Supper, Christ blessing little children, and other beautiful
tableaux in stone. The Gothic spire grows up and around these, now and
then throwing out graceful tendrils, like a vine, and seeming to
be rather a living plant than inanimate stone. The faithful artist
evidently had this feeling for it; for, as it grew under his hands, he
found that it would strike the roof, or he must sacrifice something of
its graceful proportion. So his loving and daring genius suggested the
happy design of letting it grow to its curving, graceful completeness.

He who travels by a German railway needs patience and a full haversack.
Time is of no value. The rate of speed of the trains is so slow, that
one sometimes has a desire to get out and walk, and the stoppages at
the stations seem eternal; but then we must remember that it is a long
distance to the bottom of a great mug of beer. We left Lindau on one of
the usual trains at half-past five in the morning, and reached Augsburg
at one o’clock in the afternoon: the distance cannot be more than a
hundred miles. That is quicker than by diligence, and one has leisure
to see the country as he jogs along. There is nothing more sedate than
a German train in motion; nothing can stand so dead still as a German
train at a station. But there are express trains.

We were on one from Augsburg to Nuremberg, and I think must have run
twenty miles an hour. The fare on the express trains is one fifth higher
than on the others. The cars are all comfortable; and the officials,
who wear a good deal of uniform, are much more civil and obliging than
officials in a country where they do not wear uniforms. So, not swiftly,
but safely and in good-humor, we rode to the capital of Bavaria.


I saw yesterday, on the 31st of August, in the English Garden, dead
leaves whirling down to the ground, a too evident sign that the summer
weather is going. Indeed, it has been sour, chilly weather for a week
now, raining a little every day, and with a very autumn feeling in
the air. The nightly concerts in the beer-gardens must have shivering
listeners, if the bands do not, as many of them do, play within doors.
The line of droschke drivers, in front of the post-office colonnade,
hide the red facings of their coats under long overcoats, and stand in
cold expectancy beside their blanketed horses, which must need twice
the quantity of black-bread in this chilly air; for the horses here eat
bread, like people. I see the drivers every day slicing up the black
loaves, and feeding them, taking now and then a mouthful themselves,
wetting it down with a pull from the mug of beer that stands within
reach. And lastly (I am still speaking of the weather), the gay military
officers come abroad in long cloaks, to some extent concealing their
manly forms and smart uniforms, which I am sure they would not do,
except under the pressure of necessity.

Yet I think this raw weather is not to continue. It is only a rough
visit from the Tyrol, which will give place to kinder influences. We
came up here from hot Switzerland at the end of July, expecting to find
Munich a furnace. It will be dreadful in Munich everybody said. So we
left Luzerne, where it was warm, not daring to stay till the expected
rival sun, Victoria of England, should make the heat overpowering. But
the first week of August in Munich it was delicious weather,--clear,
sparkling, bracing air, with no chill in it and no languor in it, just
as you would say it ought to be on a high, gravelly plain, seventeen
hundred feet above the sea. Then came a week of what the Muncheners call
hot weather, with the thermometer up to eighty degrees Fahrenheit, and
the white wide streets and gray buildings in a glare of light; since
then, weather of the most uncertain sort.

Munich needs the sunlight. Not that it cannot better spare it than grimy
London; for its prevailing color is light gray, and its many-tinted and
frescoed fronts go far to relieve the most cheerless day. Yet Munich
attempts to be an architectural reproduction of classic times; and, in
order to achieve any success in this direction, it is necessary to have
the blue heavens and golden sunshine of Greece. The old portion of
the city has some remains of the Gothic, and abounds in archways and
rambling alleys, that suddenly become broad streets and then again
contract to the width of an alderman, and portions of the old wall
and city gates; old feudal towers stand in the market-place, and faded
frescoes on old clock-faces and over archways speak of other days of

But the Munich of to-day is as if built to order,--raised in a day
by the command of one man. It was the old King Ludwig I., whose
flower-wreathed bust stands in these days in the vestibule of the
Glyptothek, in token of his recent death, who gave the impulse for all
this, though some of the best buildings and streets in the city
have been completed by his successors. The new city is laid out on a
magnificent scale of distances, with wide streets, fine, open squares,
plenty of room for gardens, both public and private; and the art
buildings and art monuments are well distributed; in fact, many a
stately building stands in such isolation that it seems to ask
every passer what it was put there for. Then, again, some of the new
adornments lack fitness of location or purpose. At the end of the broad,
monotonous Ludwig Strasse, and yet not at the end, for the road runs
straight on into the flat country between rows of slender trees, stands
the Siegesthor, or Gate of Victory, an imitation of the Constantine
arch at Rome. It is surmounted by a splendid group in bronze, by
Schwanthaler, Bavaria in her war-chariot, drawn by four lions; and it is
in itself, both in its proportions and its numerous sculptural figures
and bas-reliefs, a fine recognition of the valor “of the Bavarian army,”
 to whom it is erected. Yet it is so dwarfed by its situation, that it
seems to have been placed in the middle of the street as an obstruction.
A walk runs on each side of it. The Propylaeum, another magnificent
gateway, thrown across the handsome Brienner Strasse, beyond the
Glyptothek, is an imitation of that on the Acropolis at Athens. It has
fine Doric columns on the outside, and Ionic within, and the pediment
groups are bas-reliefs, by Schwanthaler, representing scenes in modern
Greek history. The passageways for carriages are through the side
arches; and thus the “sidewalk” runs into the center of the street, and
foot-passers must twice cross the carriage-drive in going through the
gate. Such things as these give one the feeling that art has been forced
beyond use in Munich; and it is increased when one wanders through
the new churches, palaces, galleries, and finds frescoes so prodigally
crowded out of the way, and only occasionally opened rooms so overloaded
with them, and not always of the best, as to sacrifice all effect, and
leave one with the sense that some demon of unrest has driven painters
and sculptors and plasterers, night and day, to adorn the city at a
stroke; at least, to cover it with paint and bedeck it with marbles, and
to do it at once, leaving nothing for the sweet growth and blossoming of

You see, it is easy to grumble, and especially in a cheerful, open,
light, and smiling city, crammed with works Of art, ancient and modern,
its architecture a study of all styles, and its foaming beer, said by
antiquarians to be a good deal better than the mead drunk in Odin’s
halls, only seven and a half kreuzers the quart. Munich has so much,
that it, of course, contains much that can be criticised. The long, wide
Ludwig Strasse is a street of palaces,--a street built up by the old
king, and regarded by him with great pride. But all the buildings are
in the Romanesque style,--a repetition of one another to a monotonous
degree: only at the lower end are there any shops or shop-windows, and
a more dreary promenade need not be imagined. It has neither shade nor
fountains; and on a hot day you can see how the sun would pour into it,
and blind the passers. But few ever walk there at any time. A street
that leads nowhere, and has no gay windows, does not attract. Toward
the lower end, in the Odeon Platz, is the equestrian statue of Ludwig,
a royally commanding figure, with a page on either side. The street is
closed (so that it flows off on either side into streets of handsome
shops) by the Feldherrnhalle, Hall of the Generals, an imitation of the
beautiful Loggia dei Lanzi, at Florence, that as yet contains only two
statues, which seem lost in it. Here at noon, with parade of infantry,
comes a military band to play for half an hour; and there are always
plenty of idlers to listen to them. In the high arcade a colony of doves
is domesticated; and I like to watch them circling about and wheeling
round the spires of the over-decorated Theatine church opposite, and
perching on the heads of the statues on the facade.

The royal palace, near by, is a huddle of buildings and courts, that I
think nobody can describe or understand, built at different times and in
imitation of many styles. The front, toward the Hof Garden, a grassless
square of small trees, with open arcades on two sides for shops, and
partially decorated with frescoes of landscapes and historical subjects,
is “a building of festive halls,” a facade eight hundred feet long, in
the revived Italian style, and with a fine Ionic porch. The color is the
royal, dirty yellow.

On the Max Joseph Platz, which has a bronze statue of King Max, a seated
figure, and some elaborate bas-reliefs, is another front of the palace,
the Konigsbau, an imitation, not fully carried out, of the Pitti Palace,
at Florence. Between these is the old Residenz, adorned with fountain
groups and statues in bronze. On another side are the church and theater
of the Residenz. The interior of this court chapel is dazzling in
appearance: the pillars are, I think, imitation of variegated marble;
the sides are imitation of the same; the vaulting is covered with rich
frescoes on gold ground. The whole effect is rich, but it is not at all
sacred. Indeed, there is no church in Munich, except the old cathedral,
the Frauenkirche, with its high Gothic arches, stained windows, and
dusty old carvings, that gives one at all the sort of feeling that it is
supposed a church should give. The court chapel interior is boastingly
said to resemble St. Mark’s, in Venice.

You see how far imitation of the classic and Italian is carried here
in Munich; so, as I said, the buildings need the southern sunlight.
Fortunately, they get the right quality much of the time. The
Glyptothek, a Grecian structure of one story, erected to hold the
treasures of classic sculpture that King Ludwig collected, has a
beautiful Ionic porch and pediment. On the outside are niches filled
with statues. In the pure sunshine and under a deep blue sky, its white
marble glows with an almost ethereal beauty. Opposite stands another
successful imitation of the Grecian style of architecture,--a building
with a Corinthian porch, also of white marble. These, with the
Propylaeum, before mentioned, come out wonderfully against a blue sky.
A few squares distant is the Pinakothek, with its treasures of old
pictures, and beyond it the New Pinakothek, containing works of modern
artists. Its exterior is decorated with frescoes, from designs by
Kaulbach: these certainly appear best in a sparkling light; though I am
bound to say that no light can make very much of them.

Yet Munich is not all imitation. Its finest street, the Maximilian,
built by the late king of that name, is of a novel and wholly modern
style of architecture, not an imitation, though it may remind some
of the new portions of Paris. It runs for three quarters of a mile,
beginning with the postoffice and its colonnades, with frescoes on
one side, and the Hof Theater, with its pediment frescoes, the largest
opera-house in Germany, I believe; with stately buildings adorned with
statues, and elegant shops, down to the swift-flowing Isar, which is
spanned by a handsome bridge; or rather by two bridges, for the Isar
is partly turned from its bed above, and made to turn wheels, and drive
machinery. At the lower end the street expands into a handsome platz,
with young shade trees, plats of grass, and gay beds of flowers. I look
out on it as I write; and I see across the Isar the college building
begun by Maximilian for the education of government officers; and I
see that it is still unfinished, indeed, a staring mass of brick, with
unsightly scaffolding and gaping windows. Money was left to complete
it; but the young king, who does not care for architecture, keeps only a
mason or two on the brick-work, and an artist on the exterior frescoes.
At this rate, the Cologne Cathedral will be finished and decay before
this is built. On either side of it, on the elevated bank of the river,
stretch beautiful grounds, with green lawns, fine trees, and well-kept

Not to mention the English Garden, in speaking of the outside aspects of
the city, would be a great oversight. It was laid out originally by the
munificent American, Count Rumford, and is called English, I suppose,
because it is not in the artificial Continental style. Paris has nothing
to compare with it for natural beauty,--Paris, which cannot let a tree
grow, but must clip it down to suit French taste. It is a noble park
four miles in length, and perhaps a quarter of that in width,--a park of
splendid old trees, grand, sweeping avenues, open glades of free-growing
grass, with delicious, shady walks, charming drives and rivers of water.
For the Isar is trained to flow through it in two rapid streams, under
bridges and over rapids, and by willow-hung banks. There is not wanting
even a lake; and there is, I am sorry to say, a temple on a mound, quite
in the classic style, from which one can see the sun set behind the many
spires of Munich. At the Chinese Tower two military bands play every
Saturday evening in the summer; and thither the carriages drive, and the
promenaders assemble there, between five and six o’clock; and while
the bands play, the Germans drink beer, and smoke cigars, and the
fashionably attired young men walk round and round the circle, and the
smart young soldiers exhibit their handsome uniforms, and stride about
with clanking swords.

We felicitated ourselves that we should have no lack of music when we
came to Munich. I think we have not; though the opera has only just
begun, and it is the vacation of the Conservatoire. There are first the
military bands: there is continually a parade somewhere, and the
streets are full of military music, and finely executed too. Then of
beer-gardens there is literally no end, and there are nightly concerts
in them. There are two brothers Hunn, each with his band, who, like the
ancient Huns, have taken the city; and its gardens are given over to
their unending waltzes, polkas, and opera medleys. Then there is the
church music on Sundays and holidays, which is largely of a military
character; at least, has the aid of drums and trumpets, and the whole
band of brass. For the first few days of our stay here we had rooms near
the Maximilian Platz and the Karl’s Thor. I think there was some sort of
a yearly fair in progress, for the great platz was filled with temporary
booths: a circus had set itself up there, and there were innumerable
side-shows and lottery-stands; and I believe that each little shanty
and puppet-show had its band or fraction of a band, for there was never
heard such a tooting and blowing and scraping, such a pounding and
dinning and slang-whanging, since the day of stopping work on the Tower
of Babel. The circus band confined itself mostly to one tune; and as
it went all day long, and late into the night, we got to know it quite
well; at least, the bass notes of it, for the lighter tones came to us
indistinctly. You know that blurt, blurt, thump, thump, dissolute sort
of caravan tune. That was it.

The English Cafe was not far off, and there the Hunns and others also
made night melodious. The whole air was one throb and thrump. The only
refuge from it was to go into one of the gardens, and give yourself over
to one band. And so it was possible to have delightful music, and see
the honest Germans drink beer, and gossip in friendly fellowship and
with occasional hilarity. But music we had, early and late. We expected
quiet in our present quarters. The first morning, at six o’clock, we
were startled by the resonant notes of a military band, that set
the echoes flying between the houses, and a regiment of cavalry went
clanking down the street. But that is a not unwelcome morning serenade
and reveille. Not so agreeable is the young man next door, who gives
hilarious concerts to his friends, and sings and bangs his piano all day
Sunday; nor the screaming young woman opposite. Yet it is something to
be in an atmosphere of music.


This morning I was awakened early by the strains of a military band. It
was a clear, sparkling morning, the air full of life, and yet the sun
showing its warm, southern side. As the mounted musicians went by, the
square was quite filled with the clang of drum and trumpet, which became
fainter and fainter, and at length was lost on the ear beyond the Isar,
but preserved the perfection of time and the precision of execution for
which the military bands of the city are remarkable. After the band came
a brave array of officers in bright uniform, upon horses that pranced
and curveted in the sunshine; and the regiment of cavalry followed, rank
on rank of splendidly mounted men, who ride as if born to the saddle.
The clatter of hoofs on the pavement, the jangle of bit and saber,
the occasional word of command, the onward sweep of the well-trained
cavalcade, continued for a long time, as if the lovely morning had
brought all the cavalry in the city out of barracks. But this is an
almost daily sight in Munich. One regiment after another goes over the
river to the drill-ground. In the hot mornings I used quite to pity
the troopers who rode away in the glare in scorching brazen helmets and
breastplates. But only a portion of the regiments dress in that absurd
manner. The most wear a simple uniform, and look very soldierly. The
horses are almost invariably fine animals, and I have not seen such
riders in Europe. Indeed, everybody in Munich who rides at all rides
well. Either most of the horsemen have served in the cavalry, or
horsemanship, that noble art “to witch the world,” is in high repute

Speaking of soldiers, Munich is full of them. There are huge caserns
in every part of the city, crowded with troops. This little kingdom of
Bavaria has a hundred and twenty thousand troops of the line. Every man
is obliged to serve in the army continuously three years; and every man
between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five must go with his regiment
into camp or barrack several weeks in each year, no matter if the
harvest rots in the field, or the customers desert the uncared-for shop.
The service takes three of the best years of a young man’s life. Most of
the soldiers in Munich are young one meets hundreds of mere boys in the
uniform of officers. I think every seventh man you meet is a soldier.
There must be between fifteen and twenty thousand troops quartered in
the city now. The young officers are everywhere, lounging in the
cafes, smoking and sipping coffee, on all the public promenades, in the
gardens, the theaters, the churches. And most of them are fine-looking
fellows, good figures in elegantly fitting and tasteful uniforms; but
they do like to show their handsome forms and hear their sword-scabbards
rattle on the pavement as they stride by. The beer-gardens are full of
the common soldiers, who empty no end of quart mugs in alternate pulls
from the same earthen jug, with the utmost jollity and good fellowship.
On the street, salutes between officers and men are perpetual,
punctiliously given and returned,--the hand raised to the temple, and
held there for a second. A young gallant, lounging down the Theatiner or
the Maximilian Strasse, in his shining and snug uniform, white kids, and
polished boots, with jangling spurs and the long sword clanking on the
walk, raising his hand ever and anon in condescending salute to a lower
in rank, or with affable grace to an equal, is a sight worth beholding,
and for which one cannot be too grateful. We have not all been created
with the natural shape for soldiers, but we have eyes given us that we
may behold them.

Bavaria fought, you know, on the wrong side at Sadowa; but the result of
the war left her in confederation with Prussia. The company is getting
to be very distasteful, for Austria is at present more liberal than
Prussia. Under Prussia one must either be a soldier or a slave, the
democrats of Munich say. Bavaria has the most liberal constitution in
Germany, except that of Wurtemberg, and the people are jealous of any
curtailment of liberty. It seems odd that anybody should look to the
house of Hapsburg for liberality. The attitude of Prussia compels all
the little states to keep up armies, which eat up their substance, and
burden the people with taxes. This is the more to be regretted now,
when Bavaria is undergoing a peaceful revolution, and throwing off the
trammels of galling customs in other respects.


The 1st of September saw go into complete effect the laws enacted in
1867, which have inaugurated the greatest changes in business and social
life, and mark an era in the progress of the people worthy of fetes
and commemorative bronzes. We heard the other night at the opera-house
“William Tell” unmutilated. For many years this liberty-breathing opera
was not permitted to be given in Bavaria, except with all the life of
it cut out. It was first presented entire by order of young King Ludwig,
who, they say, was induced to command its unmutilated reproduction at
the solicitation of Richard Wagner, who used to be, and very likely is
now, a “Red,” and was banished from Saxony in 1848 for fighting on the
people’s side of a barricade in Dresden. It is the fashion to say of
the young king, that he pays no heed to the business of the kingdom. You
hear that the handsome boy cares only for music and horseback exercise:
he plays much on the violin, and rides away into the forest attended by
only one groom, and is gone for days together. He has composed an opera,
which has not yet been put on the stage. People, when they speak of him,
tap their foreheads with one finger. But I don’t believe it. The same
liberality that induced him, years ago, to restore “William Tell” to the
stage has characterized the government under him ever since.

Formerly no one could engage in any trade or business in Bavaria without
previous examination before, and permission from, a magistrate. If a boy
wished to be a baker, for instance, he had first to serve four years
of apprenticeship. If then he wished to set up business for himself, he
must get permission, after passing an examination. This permission could
rarely be obtained; for the magistrate usually decided that there were
already as many bakers as the town needed. His only other resource was
to buy out an existing business, and this usually costs a good deal.
When he petitioned for the privilege of starting a bakery, all the
bakers protested. And he could not even buy out a stand, and carry it
on, without strict examination as to qualifications. This was the case
in every trade. And to make matters worse, a master workman could not
employ a journeyman out of his shop; so that, if a journeyman could
not get a regular situation, he had no work. Then there were endless
restrictions upon the manufacture and sale of articles: one person
could make only one article, or one portion of an article; one might
manufacture shoes for women, but not for men; he might make an article
in the shop and sell it, but could not sell it if any one else made it
outside, or vice versa.

Nearly all this mass of useless restriction on trades and business,
which palsied all effort in Bavaria, is removed. Persons are free
to enter into any business they like. The system of apprenticeship
continues, but so modified as not to be oppressive; and all trades are
left to regulate themselves by natural competition. Already Munich has
felt the benefit of the removal of these restrictions, which for nearly
a year has been anticipated, in a growth of population and increased

But the social change is still more important. The restrictions upon
marriage were a serious injury to the state. If Hans wished to marry,
and felt himself adequate to the burdens and responsibilities of the
double state, and the honest fraulein was quite willing to undertake
its trials and risks with him, it was not at all enough that in the
moonlighted beergarden, while the band played, and they peeled the
stinging radish, and ate the Switzer cheese, and drank from one mug,
she allowed his arm to steal around her stout waist. All this love and
fitness went for nothing in the eyes of the magistrate, who referred the
application for permission to marry to his associate advisers, and they
inquired into the applicant’s circumstances; and if, in their opinion,
he was not worth enough money to support a wife properly, permission was
refused for him to try. The consequence was late marriages, and fewer
than there ought to be, and other ill results. Now the matrimonial gates
are lifted high, and the young man has not to ask permission of any
snuffy old magistrate to marry. I do not hear that the consent of the
maidens is more difficult to obtain than formerly.

No city of its size is more prolific of pictures than Munich. I do not
know how all its artists manage to live, but many of them count upon the
American public. I hear everywhere that the Americans like this, and do
not like that; and I am sorry to say that some artists, who have done
better things, paint professedly to suit Americans, and not to express
their own conceptions of beauty. There is one who is now quite devoted
to dashing off rather lamp-blacky moonlights, because, he says, the
Americans fancy that sort of thing. I see one of his smirchy pictures
hanging in a shop window, awaiting the advent of the citizen of the
United States. I trust that no word of mine will injure the sale of the
moonlights. There are some excellent figure-painters here, and one can
still buy good modern pictures for reasonable prices.


Was there ever elsewhere such a blue, transparent sky as this here
in Munich? At noon, looking up to it from the street, above the gray
houses, the color and depth are marvelous. It makes a background for the
Grecian art buildings and gateways, that would cheat a risen Athenian
who should see it into the belief that he was restored to his beautiful
city. The color holds, too, toward sundown, and seems to be poured, like
something solid, into the streets of the city.

You should see then the Maximilian Strasse, when the light floods the
platz where Maximilian in bronze sits in his chair, illuminates the
frescoes on the pediments of the Hof Theater, brightens the Pompeian
red under the colonnade of the post-office, and streams down the gay
thoroughfare to the trees and statues in front of the National Museum,
and into the gold-dusted atmosphere beyond the Isar. The street is
filled with promenaders: strangers who saunter along with the red book
in one hand,--a man and his wife, the woman dragged reluctantly past the
windows of fancy articles, which are “so cheap,” the man breaking his
neck to look up at the buildings, especially at the comical heads and
figures in stone that stretch out from the little oriel-windows in the
highest story of the Four Seasons Hotel, and look down upon the moving
throng; Munich bucks in coats of velvet, swinging light canes, and
smoking cigars through long and elaborately carved meerschaum holders;
Munich ladies in dresses of that inconvenient length that neither sweeps
the pavement nor clears it; peasants from the Tyrol, the men in black,
tight breeches, that button from the knee to the ankle, short jackets
and vests set thickly with round silver buttons, and conical hats with
feathers, and the women in short quilted and quilled petticoats, of
barrel-like roundness from the broad hips down, short waists ornamented
with chains and barbarous brooches of white metal, with the oddest
head-gear of gold and silver heirlooms; students with little red or
green embroidered brimless caps, with the ribbon across the breast, a
folded shawl thrown over one shoulder, and the inevitable switch-cane;
porters in red caps, with a coil of twine about the waist; young fellows
from Bohemia, with green coats, or coats trimmed with green, and green
felt hats with a stiff feather stuck in the side; and soldiers by
the hundreds, of all ranks and organizations; common fellows in blue,
staring in at the shop windows, officers in resplendent uniforms,
clanking their swords as they swagger past. Now and then, an elegant
equipage dashes by,--perhaps the four horses of the handsome young
king, with mounted postilions and outriders, or a liveried carriage of
somebody born with a von before his name. As the twilight comes on, the
shutters of the shop windows are put up. It is time to go to the opera,
for the curtain rises at half-past six, or to the beer-gardens, where
delicious music marks, but does not interrupt, the flow of excellent

Or you may if you choose, and I advise you to do it, walk at the same
hour in the English Garden, which is but a step from the arcades of the
Hof Garden,--but a step to the entrance, whence you may wander for miles
and miles in the most enchanting scenery. Art has not been allowed here
to spoil nature. The trees, which are of magnificent size, are left to
grow naturally;--the Isar, which is turned into it, flows in more
than one stream with its mountain impetuosity; the lake is gracefully
indented and overhung with trees, and presents ever-changing aspects of
loveliness as you walk along its banks; there are open, sunny meadows,
in which single giant trees or splendid groups of them stand, and walks
without end winding under leafy Gothic arches. You know already that
Munich owes this fine park to the foresight and liberality of an
American Tory, Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford), born in Rumford, Vt.,
who also relieved Munich of beggars.

I have spoken of the number of soldiers in Munich. For six weeks the
Landwehr, or militia, has been in camp in various parts of Bavaria.
There was a grand review of them the other day on the Field of Mars, by
the king, and many of them have now gone home. They strike an unmilitary
man as a very efficient body of troops. So far as I could see, they were
armed with breech-loading rifles. There is a treaty by which Bavaria
agreed to assimilate her military organization to that of Prussia. It is
thus that Bismarck is continually getting ready. But if the Landwehr
is gone, there are yet remaining troops enough of the line. Their chief
use, so far as it concerns me, is to make pageants in the streets, and
to send their bands to play at noon in the public squares. Every day,
when the sun shines down upon the mounted statue of Ludwig I., in front
of the Odeon, a band plays in an open Loggia, and there is always a
crowd of idlers in the square to hear it. Everybody has leisure for that
sort of thing here in Europe; and one can easily learn how to be idle
and let the world wag. They have found out here what is disbelieved
in America,--that the world will continue to turn over once in about
twenty-four hours (they are not accurate as to the time) without their
aid. To return to our soldiers. The cavalry most impresses me; the
men are so finely mounted, and they ride royally. In these sparkling
mornings, when the regiments clatter past, with swelling music and
shining armor, riding away to I know not what adventure and glory, I
confess that I long to follow them. I have long had this desire; and the
other morning, determining to satisfy it, I seized my hat and went after
the prancing procession. I am sorry I did. For, after trudging after
it through street after street, the fine horsemen all rode through an
arched gateway, and disappeared in barracks, to my great disgust; and
the troopers dismounted, and led their steeds into stables.

And yet one never loses a walk here in Munich. I found myself that
morning by the Isar Thor, a restored medieval city gate. The gate is
double, with flanking octagonal towers, inclosing a quadrangle. Upon the
inner wall is a fresco of “The Crucifixion.” Over the outer front is a
representation, in fresco painting, of the triumphal entry into the city
of the Emperor Louis of Bavaria after the battle of Ampfing. On one
side of the gate is a portrait of the Virgin, on gold ground, and on
the other a very passable one of the late Dr. Hawes of Hartford, with
a Pope’s hat on. Walking on, I came to another arched gateway and
clock-tower; near it an old church, with a high wall adjoining, whereon
is a fresco of cattle led to slaughter, showing that I am in the
vicinity of the Victual Market; and I enter it through a narrow, crooked
alley. There is nothing there but an assemblage of shabby booths and
fruit-stands, and an ancient stone tower in ruins and overgrown with

Leaving this, I came out to the Marian Platz, where stands the column,
with the statue of the Virgin and Child, set up by Maximilian I. in 1638
to celebrate the victory in the battle which established the Catholic
supremacy in Bavaria. It is a favorite praying-place for the lower
classes. Yesterday was a fete day, and the base of the column and half
its height are lost in a mass of flowers and evergreens. In front is
erected an altar with a broad, carpeted platform; and a strip of
the platz before it is inclosed with a railing, within which are
praying-benches. The sun shines down hot; but there are several poor
women kneeling there, with their baskets beside them. I happen along
there at sundown; and there are a score of women kneeling on the hard
stones, outside the railing saying their prayers in loud voices. The
mass of flowers is still sweet and gay and fresh; a fountain with
fantastic figures is flashing near by; the crowd, going home to supper
and beer, gives no heed to the praying; the stolid droschke-drivers
stand listlessly by. At the head of the square is an artillery station,
and a row of cannon frowns on it. On one side is a house with a tablet
in the wall, recording the fact that Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden once
lived in it.

When we came to Munich, the great annual fair was in progress; and the
large Maximilian Platz (not to be confounded with the street of that
name) was filled with booths of cheap merchandise, puppet-shows, lottery
shanties, and all sorts of popular amusements. It was a fine time to
study peasant costumes. The city was crowded with them on Sunday;
and let us not forget that the first visit of the peasants was to the
churches; they invariably attended early mass before they set out upon
the day’s pleasure. Most of the churches have services at all hours till
noon, some of them with fine classical and military music. One could not
but be struck with the devotional manner of the simple women, in their
queer costumes, who walked into the gaudy edifices, were absorbed in
their prayers for an hour, and then went away. I suppose they did
not know how odd they looked in their high, round fur hats, or their
fantastic old ornaments, nor that there was anything amiss in bringing
their big baskets into church with them. At least, their simple,
unconscious manner was better than that of many of the city people, some
of whom stare about a good deal, while going through the service, and
stop in the midst of crossings and genuflections to take snuff and pass
it to their neighbors. But there are always present simple and homelike
sort of people, who neither follow the fashions nor look round on them;
respectable, neat old ladies, in the faded and carefully preserved silk
gowns, such as the New England women wear to “meeting.”

No one can help admiring the simplicity, kindliness, and honesty of the
Germans. The universal courtesy and friendliness of manner have a very
different seeming from the politeness of the French. At the hotels in
the country, the landlord and his wife and the servant join in hoping
you will sleep well when you go to bed. The little maid at Heidelberg
who served our meals always went to the extent of wishing us a good
appetite when she had brought in the dinner. Here in Munich the people
we have occasion to address in the street are uniformly courteous. The
shop-keepers are obliging, and rarely servile, like the English. You
are thanked, and punctiliously wished the good-day, whether you purchase
anything or not. In shops tended by women, gentlemen invariably remove
their hats. If you buy only a kreuzer’s worth of fruit of an old
woman, she says words that would be, literally translated, “I thank you
beautifully.” With all this, one looks kindly on the childish love the
Germans have for titles. It is, I believe, difficult for the German mind
to comprehend that we can be in good standing at home, unless we have
some title prefixed to our names, or some descriptive phrase added. Our
good landlord, who waits at the table and answers our bell, one of whose
tenants is a living baron, having no title to put on his doorplate under
that of the baron, must needs dub himself “privatier;” and he insists
upon prefixing the name of this unambitious writer with the ennobling
von; and at the least he insists, in common with the tradespeople, that
I am a “Herr Doctor.” The bills of purchases by madame come made out to
“Frau----, well-born.” At a hotel in Heidelberg, where I had registered
my name with that distinctness of penmanship for which newspaper men are
justly conspicuous, and had added to my own name “& wife,” I was not a
little flattered to appear in the reckoning as “Herr Doctor Mamesweise.”


To change the subject from gay to grave. The Gottesacker of Munich is
called the finest cemetery in Germany; at least, it surpasses them in
the artistic taste of its monuments. Natural beauty it has none: it is
simply a long, narrow strip of ground inclosed in walls, with straight,
parallel walks running the whole length, and narrow cross-walks; and
yet it is a lovely burial-ground. There are but few trees; but the whole
inclosure is a conservatory of beautiful flowers. Every grave is covered
with them, every monument is surrounded with them. The monuments are
unpretending in size, but there are many fine designs, and many finely
executed busts and statues and allegorical figures, in both marble and
bronze. The place is full of sunlight and color. I noticed that it was
much frequented. In front of every place of sepulcher stands a small urn
for water, with a brush hanging by, with which to sprinkle the
flowers. I saw, also, many women and children coming and going with
watering-pots, so that the flowers never droop for want of care. At the
lower end of the old ground is an open arcade, wherein are some effigies
and busts, and many ancient tablets set into the wall. Beyond this is
the new cemetery, an inclosure surrounded by a high wall of brick, and
on the inside by an arcade. The space within is planted with flowers,
and laid out for the burial of the people; the arcades are devoted to
the occupation of those who can afford costly tombs. Only a small number
of them are yet occupied; there are some good busts and monuments, and
some frescoes on the panels rather more striking for size and color than
for beauty.

Between the two cemeteries is the house for the dead. When I walked
down the long central alle of the old ground, I saw at the farther end,
beyond a fountain, twinkling lights. Coming nearer, I found that they
proceeded from the large windows of a building, which was a part of the
arcade. People were looking in at the windows, going and coming to and
from them continually; and I was prompted by curiosity to look within.
A most unexpected sight met my eye. In a long room, upon elevated biers,
lay people dead: they were so disposed that the faces could be seen; and
there they rested in a solemn repose. Officers in uniform, citizens in
plain dress, matrons and maids in the habits that they wore when living,
or in the white robes of the grave. About most of them were lighted
candles. About all of them were flowers: some were almost covered
with bouquets. There were rows of children, little ones scarce a span
long,--in the white caps and garments of innocence, as if asleep in beds
of flowers. How naturally they all were lying, as if only waiting to be
called! Upon the thumb of every adult was a ring in which a string was
tied that went through a pulley above and communicated with a bell in
the attendant’s room. How frightened he would be if the bell should ever
sound, and he should go into that hall of the dead to see who rang! And
yet it is a most wise and humane provision; and many years ago, there
is a tradition, an entombment alive was prevented by it. There are three
rooms in all; and all those who die in Munich must be brought and laid
in one of them, to be seen of all who care to look therein. I suppose
that wealth and rank have some privileges; but it is the law that the
person having been pronounced dead by the physician shall be the same
day brought to the dead-house, and lie there three whole days before

There is something peculiar in the obsequies of Munich, especially in
the Catholic portion of the population. Shortly after the death, there
is a short service in the courtyard of the house, which, with the
entrance, is hung in costly mourning, if the deceased was rich. The body
is then carried in the car to the dead-house, attended by the priests,
the male members of the family, and a procession of torch-bearers, if
that can be afforded. Three days after, the burial takes place from the
dead-house, only males attending. The women never go to the funeral;
but some days after, of which public notice is given by advertisement,
a public service is held in church, at which all the family are present,
and to which the friends are publicly invited. Funeral obsequies are as
costly here as in America; but everything is here regulated and fixed by
custom. There are as many as five or six classes of funerals recognized.
Those of the first class, as to rank and expense, cost about a thousand
guldens. The second class is divided into six subclasses. The third is
divided into two. The cost of the first of the third class is about four
hundred guldens. The lowest class of those able to have a funeral
costs twenty-five guldens. A gulden is about two francs. There are
no carriages used at the funerals of Catholics, only at those of
Protestants and Jews.

I spoke of the custom of advertising the deaths. A considerable portion
of the daily newspapers is devoted to these announcements, which are
printed in display type, like the advertisements of dry-goods sellers
with you. I will roughly translate one which I happen to see just now.
It reads, “Death advertisement. It has pleased God the Almighty, in his
inscrutable providence, to take away our innermost loved, best husband,
father, grandfather, uncle, brother-in-law, and cousin, Herr---, dyer of
cloth and silk, yesterday night, at eleven o’clock, after three weeks
of severe suffering, having partaken of the holy sacrament, in his
sixty-sixth year, out of this earthly abode of calamity into the better
Beyond. Those who knew his good heart, his great honesty, as well as his
patience in suffering, will know how justly to estimate our grief.” This
is signed by the “deep-grieving survivors,”--the widow, son, daughter,
and daughter-in-law, in the name of the absent relatives. After the name
of the son is written, “Dyer in cloth and silk.” The notice closes with
an announcement of the funeral at the cemetery, and a service at the
church the day after. The advertisement I have given is not uncommon
either for quaintness or simplicity. It is common to engrave upon the
monument the business as well as the title of the departed.


On the 11th of October the sun came out, after a retirement of nearly
two weeks. The cause of the appearance was the close of the October
Fest. This great popular carnival has the same effect upon the weather
in Bavaria that the Yearly Meeting of Friends is known to produce in
Philadelphia, and the Great National Horse Fair in New England. It
always rains during the October Fest. Having found this out, I do not
know why they do not change the time of it; but I presume they are wise
enough to feel that it would be useless. A similar attempt on the part
of the Pennsylvania Quakers merely disturbed the operations of nature,
but did not save the drab bonnets from the annual wetting. There is a
subtle connection between such gatherings and the gathering of what
are called the elements,--a sympathetic connection, which we shall, no
doubt, one day understand, when we have collected facts enough on the
subject to make a comprehensive generalization, after Mr. Buckle’s

This fair, which is just concluded, is a true Folks-Fest, a season
especially for the Bavarian people, an agricultural fair and cattle
show, but a time of general jollity and amusement as well. Indeed, the
main object of a German fair seems to be to have a good time and in
this it is in marked contrast with American fairs. The October Fest was
instituted for the people by the old Ludwig I. on the occasion of his
marriage; and it has ever since retained its position as the great
festival of the Bavarian people, and particularly of the peasants. It
offers a rare opportunity to the stranger to study the costumes of the
peasants, and to see how they amuse themselves. One can judge a good
deal of the progress of a people by the sort of amusements that satisfy
them. I am not about to draw any philosophical inferences,--I am a mere
looker-on in Munich; but I have never anywhere else seen puppet-shows
afford so much delight, nor have I ever seen anybody get more
satisfaction out of a sausage and a mug of beer, with the tum-tum of a
band near, by, than a Bavarian peasant.

The Fest was held on the Theresien Wiese, a vast meadow on the outskirts
of the city. The ground rises on one side of this by an abrupt step,
some thirty or forty feet high, like the “bench” of a Western river.
This bank is terraced for seats the whole length, or as far down as the
statue of Bavaria; so that there are turf seats, I should judge, for
three quarters of a mile, for a great many thousands of people, who can
look down upon the race-course, the tents, houses, and booths of the
fair-ground, and upon the roof and spires of the city beyond. The statue
is, as you know, the famous bronze Bavaria of Schwanthaler, a colossal
female figure fifty feet high, and with its pedestal a hundred feet
high, which stands in front of the Hall of Fame, a Doric edifice, in the
open colonnades of which are displayed the busts of the most celebrated
Bavarians, together with those of a few poets and scholars who were so
unfortunate as not to be born here. The Bavaria stands with the
right hand upon the sheathed sword, and the left raised in the act of
bestowing a wreath of victory; and the lion of the kingdom is beside
her. This representative being is, of course, hollow. There is room for
eight people in her head, which I can testify is a warm place on a sunny
day; and one can peep out through loopholes and get a good view of the
Alps of the Tyrol. To say that this statue is graceful or altogether
successful would be an error; but it is rather impressive, from its
size, if for no other reason. In the cast of the hand exhibited at the
bronze foundry, the forefinger measures over three feet long.

Although the Fest did not officially begin until Friday, October 12,
yet the essential part of it, the amusements, was well under way on the
Sunday before. The town began to be filled with country people, and the
holiday might be said to have commenced; for the city gives itself up
to the occasion. The new art galleries are closed for some days; but
the collections and museums of various sorts are daily open, gratis; the
theaters redouble their efforts; the concert-halls are in full blast;
there are dances nightly, and masked balls in the Folks’ Theater;
country relatives are entertained; the peasants go about the streets
in droves, in a simple and happy frame of mind, wholly unconscious that
they are the oddest-looking guys that have come down from the Middle
Ages; there is music in all the gardens, singing in the cafes, beer
flowing in rivers, and a mighty smell of cheese, that goes up to heaven.
If the eating of cheese were a religious act, and its odor an incense, I
could not say enough of the devoutness of the Bavarians.

Of the picturesqueness and oddity of the Bavarian peasants’ costumes,
nothing but a picture can give you any idea. You can imagine the men in
tight breeches, buttoned below the knee, jackets of the jockey cut,
and both jacket and waistcoat covered with big metal buttons, sometimes
coins, as thickly as can be sewed on: but the women defy the pen; a
Bavarian peasant woman, in holiday dress, is the most fearfully and
wonderfully made object in the universe. She displays a good length of
striped stockings, and wears thin slippers, or sandals; her skirts are
like a hogshead in size and shape, and reach so near her shoulders as to
make her appear hump-backed; the sleeves are hugely swelled out at
the shoulder, and taper to the wrist; the bodice is a stiff and
most elaborately ornamented piece of armor; and there is a kind of
breastplate, or center-piece, of gold, silver, and precious stones,
or what passes for them; and the head is adorned with some monstrous
heirloom, of finely worked gold or silver, or a tower, gilded and
shining with long streamers, or bound in a simple black turban, with
flowing ends. Little old girls, dressed like their mothers, have the air
of creations of the fancy, who have walked out of a fairy-book. There
is an endless variety in these old costumes; and one sees, every moment,
one more preposterous than the preceding. The girls from the Tyrol, with
their bright neckerchiefs and pointed black felt hats, with gold cord
and tassels, are some of them very pretty: but one looks a long time
for a bright face among the other class; and, when it is discovered, the
owner appears like a maiden who was enchanted a hundred years ago, and
has not been released from the spell, but is still doomed to wear the
garments and the ornaments that should long ago have mouldered away with
her ancestors.

The Theresien Wiese was a city of Vanity Fair for two weeks, every
day crowded with a motley throng. Booths, and even structures of some
solidity, rose on it as if by magic. The lottery-houses were set up
early, and, to the last, attracted crowds, who could not resist the
tempting display of goods and trinkets, which might be won by investing
six kreuzers in a bit of paper, which might, when unrolled, contain a
number. These lotteries are all authorized: some of them were for the
benefit of the agricultural society; some were for the poor, and others
on individual account: and they always thrive; for the German, above
all others, loves to try his luck. There were streets of shanties, where
various things were offered for sale besides cheese and sausages. There
was a long line of booths, where images could be shot at with bird-guns;
and when the shots were successful, the images went through astonishing
revolutions. There was a circus, in front of which some of the spangled
performers always stood beating drums and posturing, in order to entice
in spectators. There were the puppet-booths, before which all day stood
gaping, delighted crowds, who roared with laughter whenever the little
frau beat her loutish husband about the head, and set him to tend the
baby, who continued to wail, notwithstanding the man knocked its head
against the doorpost. There were the great beer-restaurants, with
temporary benches and tables’ planted about with evergreens, always
thronged with a noisy, jolly crowd. There were the fires, over which
fresh fish were broiling on sticks; and, if you lingered, you saw the
fish taken alive from tubs of water standing by, dressed and spitted and
broiling before the wiggle was out of their tails. There were the old
women, who mixed the flour and fried the brown cakes before your eyes,
or cooked the fragrant sausage, and offered it piping hot.

And every restaurant and show had its band, brass or string,--a full
array of red-faced fellows tooting through horns, or a sorry quartette,
the fat woman with the harp, the lean man blowing himself out through
the clarinet, the long-haired fellow with the flute, and the robust and
thick-necked fiddler. Everywhere there was music; the air was full
of the odor of cheese and cooking sausage; so that there was nothing
wanting to the most complete enjoyment. The crowd surged round, jammed
together, in the best possible humor. Those who could not sit at tables
sat on the ground, with a link of an eatable I have already named in
one hand, and a mug of beer beside them. Toward evening, the ground was
strewn with these gray quart mugs, which gave as perfect evidence of the
battle of the day as the cannon-balls on the sand before Fort Fisher
did of the contest there. Besides this, for the amusement of the crowd,
there is, every day, a wheelbarrow race, a sack race, a blindfold
contest, or something of the sort, which turns out to be a very flat
performance. But all the time the eating and the drinking go on, and the
clatter and clink of it fill the air; so that the great object of the
fair is not lost sight of.

Meantime, where is the agricultural fair and cattle-show? You must know
that we do these things differently in Bavaria. On the fair-ground,
there is very little to be seen of the fair. There is an inclosure where
steam-engines are smoking and puffing, and threshing-machines are making
a clamor; where some big church-bells hang, and where there are a few
stalls for horses and cattle. But the competing horses and cattle are
led before the judges elsewhere; the horses, for instance, by the royal
stables in the city. I saw no such general exhibition of do mestic
animals as you have at your fairs. The horses that took the prizes
were of native stock, a very serviceable breed, excellent for
carriage-horses, and admirable in the cavalry service. The bulls and
cows seemed also native and to the manor born, and were worthy of little
remark. The mechanical, vegetable, and fruit exhibition was in the
great glass palace, in the city, and was very creditable in the fruit
department, in the show of grapes and pears especially. The products of
the dairy were less, though I saw one that I do not recollect ever to
have seen in America, a landscape in butter. Inclosed in a case, it
looked very much like a wood-carving. There was a Swiss cottage, a
milkmaid, with cows in the foreground; there were trees, and in the rear
rose rocky precipices, with chamois in the act of skipping thereon. I
should think something might be done in our country in this line of the
fine arts; certainly, some of the butter that is always being sold so
cheap at St. Albans, when it is high everywhere else, must be strong
enough to warrant the attempt. As to the other departments of the fine
arts in the glass palace, I cannot give you a better idea of them than
by saying that they were as well filled as the like ones in the American
county fairs. There were machines for threshing, for straw-cutting, for
apple-paring, and generally such a display of implements as would give
one a favorable idea of Bavarian agriculture. There was an interesting
exhibition of live fish, great and small, of nearly every sort, I
should think, in Bavarian waters. The show in the fire-department was so
antiquated, that I was convinced that the people of Munich never intend
to have any fires.

The great day of the fete was Sunday, October 5 for on that day the king
went out to the fair-ground, and distributed the prizes to the owners of
the best horses, and, as they appeared to me, of the most ugly-colored
bulls. The city was literally crowded with peasants and country people;
the churches were full all the morning with devout masses, which poured
into the waiting beer-houses afterward with equal zeal. By twelve
o’clock, the city began to empty itself upon the Theresien meadow; and
long before the time for the king to arrive--two o’clock--there were
acres of people waiting for the performance to begin. The terraced bank,
of which I have spoken, was taken possession of early, and held by a
solid mass of people; while the fair-ground proper was packed with a
swaying concourse, densest near the royal pavilion, which was erected
immediately on the race-course, and opposite the bank.

At one o’clock the grand stand opposite to the royal one is taken
possession of by a regiment band and by invited guests. All the space,
except the race-course, is, by this time, packed with people, who
watch the red and white gate at the head of the course with growing
impatience. It opens to let in a regiment of infantry, which marches
in and takes position. It swings, every now and then, for a solitary
horseman, who gallops down the line in all the pride of mounted civic
dignity, to the disgust of the crowd; or to let in a carriage, with some
overdressed officer or splendid minister, who is entitled to a place in
the royal pavilion. It is a people’ fete, and the civic officers enjoy
one day of conspicuous glory. Now a majestic person in gold lace is set
down; and now one in a scarlet coat, as beautiful as a flamingo. These
driblets of splendor only feed the popular impatience. Music is heard in
the distance, and a procession with colored banners is seen approaching
from the city. That, like everything else that is to come, stops beyond
the closed gate; and there it halts, ready to stream down before our
eyes in a variegated pageant. The time goes on; the crowd gets denser,
for there have been steady rivers of people pouring into the grounds for
more than an hour.

The military bands play in the long interval; the peasants jabber in
unintelligible dialects; the high functionaries on the royal stand are
good enough to move around, and let us see how brave and majestic they

At last the firing of cannon announces the coming of royalty. There is
a commotion in the vast crowd yonder, the eagerly watched gates swing
wide, and a well-mounted company of cavalry dashes down the turf, in
uniforms of light blue and gold. It is a citizens’ company of butchers
and bakers and candlestick-makers, which would do no discredit to the
regular army. Driving close after is a four-horse carriage with two of
the king’s ministers; and then, at a rapid pace, six coal-black horses
in silver harness, with mounted postilions, drawing a long, slender,
open carriage with one seat, in which ride the king and his brother,
Prince Otto, come down the way, and are pulled up in front of the
pavilion; while the cannon roars, the big bells ring, all the flags
of Bavaria, Prussia, and Austria, on innumerable poles, are blowing
straight out, the band plays “God save the King,” the people break into
enthusiastic shouting, and the young king, throwing off his cloak, rises
and stands in his carriage for a moment, bowing right and left before
he descends. He wears to-day the simple uniform of the citizens’ company
which has escorted him, and is consequently more plainly and neatly
dressed than any one else on the platform,--a tall (say six feet),
slender, gallant-looking young fellow of three and twenty, with an open
face and a graceful manner.

But, when he has arrived, things again come to a stand; and we wait for
an hour, and watch the thickening of the clouds, while the king goes
from this to that delighted dignitary on the stand and converses. At
the end of this time, there is a movement. A white dog has got into
the course, and runs up and down between the walls of people in terror,
headed off by soldiers at either side of the grand stand, and finally,
becoming desperate, he makes a dive for the royal pavilion. The
consternation is extreme. The people cheer the dog and laugh: a
white-handed official, in gold lace, and without his hat, rushes out to
“shoo” the dog away, but is unsuccessful; for the animal dashes between
his legs, and approaches the royal and carpeted steps. More men of
rank run at him, and he is finally captured and borne away; and we all
breathe freer that the danger to royalty is averted. At one o’clock six
youths in white jackets, with clubs and coils of rope, had stationed
themselves by the pavilion, but they did not go into action at this
juncture; and I thought they rather enjoyed the activity of the great
men who kept off the dog.

At length there was another stir; and the king descended from the rear
of his pavilion, attended by his ministers, and moved about among the
people, who made way for him, and uncovered at his approach. He spoke
with one and another, and strolled about as his fancy took him. I
suppose this is called mingling with the common people. After he had
mingled about fifteen minutes, he returned, and took his place on the
steps in front of the pavilion; and the distribution of prizes began.
First the horses were led out; and their owners, approaching the king,
received from his hands the diplomas, and a flag from an attendant.
Most of them were peasants; and they exhibited no servility in receiving
their marks of distinction, but bowed to the king as they would to any
other man, and his majesty touched his cocked hat in return. Then came
the prize-cattle, many of them led by women, who are as interested as
their husbands in all farm matters. Everything goes off smoothly, except
there is a momentary panic over a fractious bull, who plunges into
the crowd; but the six white jackets are about him in an instant, and
entangle him with their ropes.

This over, the gates again open, and the gay cavalcade that has been so
long in sight approaches. First a band of musicians in costumes of the
Middle Ages; and then a band of pages in the gayest apparel, bearing
pictured banners and flags of all colors, whose silken luster would have
been gorgeous in sunshine; these were followed by mounted heralds with
trumpets, and after them were led the running horses entered for
the race. The banners go up on the royal stand, and group themselves
picturesquely; the heralds disappear at the other end of the list;
and almost immediately the horses, ridden by young jockeys in stunning
colors, come flying past in a general scramble. There are a dozen or
more horses; but, after the first round, the race lies between two.
The course is considerably over an English mile, and they make four
circuits; so that the race is fully six-miles,--a very hard one. It was
a run in a rain, however, which began when it did, and soon forced up
the umbrellas. The vast crowd disappeared under a shed of umbrellas, of
all colors,--black, green, red, blue; and the effect was very singular,
especially when it moved from the field: there was then a Niagara of
umbrellas. The race was soon over: it is only a peasants’ race, after
all; the aristocratic races of the best horses take place in May. It was
over. The king’s carriage was brought round, the people again shouted,
the cannon roared, the six black horses reared and plunged, and away he

After all, says the artist, “the King of Bavaria has not much power.”

“You can see,” returns a gentleman who speaks English, “just how much he
has: it is a six-horse power.”

On other days there was horse-trotting, music production, and for
several days prize-shooting. The latter was admirably conducted: the
targets were placed at the foot of the bank; and opposite, I should
think not more than two hundred yards off, were shooting-houses, each
with a room for the register of the shots, and on each side of him
closets where the shooters stand. Signal-wires run from these houses
to the targets, where there are attendants who telegraph the effect
of every shot. Each competitor has a little book; and he shoots at any
booth he pleases, or at all, and has his shots registered. There was
a continual fusillade for a couple of days; but what it all came to,
I cannot tell. I can only say, that, if they shoot as steadily as they
drink beer, there is no other corps of shooters that can stand before


We are all quiet along the Isar since the October Fest; since the young
king has come back from his summer castle on the Starnberg See to live
in his dingy palace; since the opera has got into good working order,
and the regular indoor concerts at the cafes have begun. There is no
lack of amusements, with balls, theaters, and the cheap concerts, vocal
and instrumental. I stepped into the West Ende Halle the other night,
having first surrendered twelve kreuzers to the money-changer at the
entrance,--double the usual fee, by the way. It was large and well
lighted, with a gallery all round it and an orchestral platform at
one end. The floor and gallery were filled with people of the most
respectable class, who sat about little round tables, and drank beer.
Every man was smoking a cigar; and the atmosphere was of that degree of
haziness that we associate with Indian summer at home; so that through
it the people in the gallery appeared like glorified objects in a
heathen Pantheon, and the orchestra like men playing in a dream. Yet
nobody seemed to mind it; and there was, indeed, a general air of social
enjoyment and good feeling. Whether this good feeling was in process of
being produced by the twelve or twenty glasses of beer which it is not
unusual for a German to drink of an evening, I do not know. “I do not
drink much beer now,” said a German acquaintance,--“not more than four
or five glasses in an evening.” This is indeed moderation, when we
remember that sixteen glasses of beer is only two gallons. The orchestra
playing that night was Gungl’s; and it performed, among other things,
the whole of the celebrated Third (or Scotch) Symphony of Mendelssohn
in a manner that would be greatly to the credit of orchestras that
play without the aid of either smoke or beer. Concerts of this sort,
generally with more popular music and a considerable dash of Wagner,
in whom the Munichers believe, take place every night in several cafes;
while comic singing, some of it exceedingly well done, can be heard
in others. Such amusements--and nothing can be more harmless--are very

Speaking of Indian summer, the only approach to it I have seen was in
the hazy atmosphere at the West Ende Halle. October outdoors has been an
almost totally disagreeable month, with the exception of some days, or
rather parts of days, when we have seen the sun, and experienced a mild
atmosphere. At such times, I have liked to sit down on one of the empty
benches in the Hof Garden, where the leaves already half cover the
ground, and the dropping horse-chestnuts keep up a pattering on them.
Soon the fat woman who has a fruit-stand at the gate is sure to come
waddling along, her beaming face making a sort of illumination in the
autumn scenery, and sit down near me. As soon as she comes, the little
brown birds and the doves all fly that way, and look up expectant at
her. They all know her, and expect the usual supply of bread-crumbs.
Indeed, I have seen her on a still Sunday morning, when I have been
sitting there waiting for the English ceremony of praying for Queen
Victoria and Albert Edward to begin in the Odeon, sit for an hour, and
cut up bread for her little brown flock. She sits now knitting a red
stocking, the picture of content; one after another her old gossips
pass that way, and stop a moment to exchange the chat of the day; or
the policeman has his joke with her, and when there is nobody else to
converse with, she talks to the birds. A benevolent old soul, I am sure,
who in a New England village would be universally called “Aunty,”
 and would lay all the rising generation under obligation to her for
doughnuts and sweet-cake. As she rises to go away, she scrapes together
a half-dozen shining chestnuts with her feet; and as she cannot possibly
stoop to pick them up, she motions to a boy playing near, and smiles so
happily as the urchin gathers them and runs away without even a “thank


If that of which every German dreams, and so few are ready to take any
practical steps to attain,--German unity,--ever comes, it must ride
roughshod over the Romish clergy, for one thing. Of course there are
other obstacles. So long as beer is cheap, and songs of the Fatherland
are set to lilting strains, will these excellent people “Ho, ho, my
brothers,” and “Hi, hi, my brothers,” and wait for fate, in the shape
of some compelling Bismarck, to drive them into anything more than the
brotherhood of brown mugs of beer and Wagner’s mysterious music of the
future. I am not sure, by the way, that the music of Richard Wagner
is not highly typical of the present (1868) state of German unity,--an
undefined longing which nobody exactly understands. There are those
who think they can discern in his music the same revolutionary tendency
which placed the composer on the right side of a Dresden barricade in
1848, and who go so far as to believe that the liberalism of the young
King of Bavaria is not a little due to his passion for the disorganizing
operas of this transcendental writer. Indeed, I am not sure that any
other people than Germans would not find in the repetition of the five
hours of the “Meister-Singer von Nurnberg,” which was given the other
night at the Hof Theater, sufficient reason for revolution.

Well, what I set out to say was, that most Germans would like unity if
they could be the unit. Each State would like to be the center of the
consolidated system, and thus it happens that every practical step
toward political unity meets a host of opponents at once. When Austria,
or rather the house of Hapsburg, had a preponderance in the Diet, and it
seemed, under it, possible to revive the past reality, or to realize the
dream of a great German empire, it was clearly seen that Austria was a
tyranny that would crush out all liberties. And now that Prussia, with
its vital Protestantism and free schools, proposes to undertake the
reconstruction of Germany, and make a nation where there are now only
the fragmentary possibilities of a great power, why, Prussia is a
military despot, whose subjects must be either soldiers or slaves, and
the young emperor at Vienna is indeed another Joseph, filled with the
most tender solicitude for the welfare of the chosen German people.

But to return to the clergy. While the monasteries and nunneries are
going to the ground in superstition-saturated Spain; while eager workmen
are demolishing the last hiding-places of monkery, and letting the
daylight into places that have well kept the frightful secrets of three
hundred years, and turning the ancient cloister demesne into public
parks and pleasure-grounds,--the Romish priesthood here, in free
Bavaria, seem to imagine that they cannot only resist the progress of
events, but that they can actually bring back the owlish twilight of
the Middle Ages. The reactionary party in Bavaria has, in some of the
provinces, a strong majority; and its supporters and newspapers are
belligerent and aggressive. A few words about the politics of Bavaria
will give you a clew to the general politics of the country.

The reader of the little newspapers here in Munich finds evidence of at
least three parties. There is first the radical. Its members sincerely
desire a united Germany, and, of course, are friendly to Prussia, hate
Napoleon, have little confidence in the Hapsburgs, like to read of
uneasiness in Paris, and hail any movement that overthrows tradition and
the prescriptive right of classes. If its members are Catholic, they are
very mildly so; if they are Protestant, they are not enough so to harm
them; and, in short, if their religious opinions are not as deep as a
well, they are certainly broader than a church door. They are the party
of free inquiry, liberal thought, and progress. Akin to them are what
may be called the conservative liberals, the majority of whom may be
Catholics in profession, but are most likely rationalists in fact; and
with this party the king naturally affiliates, taking his music devoutly
every Sunday morning in the Allerheiligenkirche, attached to the
Residenz, and getting his religion out of Wagner; for, progressive as
the youthful king is, he cannot be supposed to long for a unity which
would wheel his throne off into the limbo of phantoms. The conservative
liberals, therefore, while laboring for thorough internal reforms,
look with little delight on the increasing strength of Prussia, and
sympathize with the present liberal tendencies of Austria. Opposed to
both these parties is the ultramontane, the head of which is the
Romish hierarchy, and the body of which is the inert mass of ignorant
peasantry, over whom the influence of the clergy seems little shaken
by any of the modern moral earthquakes. Indeed I doubt if any new ideas
will ever penetrate a class of peasants who still adhere to styles of
costume that must have been ancient when the Turks threatened Vienna,
which would be highly picturesque if they were not painfully ugly, and
arrayed in which their possessors walk about in the broad light of these
latter days, with entire unconsciousness that they do not belong to this
age, and that their appearance is as much of an anachronism as if the
figures should step out of Holbein’s pictures (which Heaven forbid), or
the stone images come down from the portals of the cathedral and walk
about. The ultramontane party, which, so far as it is an intelligent
force in modern affairs, is the Romish clergy, and nothing more, hears
with aversion any hint of German unity, listens with dread to the
needle-guns at Sadowa, hates Prussia in proportion as it fears her,
and just now does not draw either with the Austrian Government, whose
liberal tendencies are exceedingly distasteful. It relies upon that
great unenlightened mass of Catholic people in Southern Germany and
in Austria proper, one of whose sins is certainly not skepticism. The
practical fight now in Bavaria is on the question of education; the
priests being resolved to keep the schools of the people in their own
control, and the liberal parties seeking to widen educational facilities
and admit laymen to a share in the management of institutions of
learning. Now the school visitors must all be ecclesiastics; and
although their power is not to be dreaded in the cities, where teachers,
like other citizens, are apt to be liberal, it gives them immense power
in the rural districts. The election of the Lower House of the Bavarian
parliament, whose members have a six years’ tenure of office, which
takes place next spring, excites uncommon interest; for the leading
issue will be that of education. The little local newspapers--and every
city has a small swarm of them, which are remarkable for the absence of
news and an abundance of advertisements--have broken out into a style
of personal controversy, which, to put it mildly, makes me, an American,
feel quite at home. Both parties are very much in earnest, and both
speak with a freedom that is, in itself, a very hopeful sign.

The pretensions of the ultramontane clergy are, indeed, remarkable
enough to attract the attention of others besides the liberals
of Bavaria. They assume an influence and an importance in the
ecclesiastical profession, or rather an authority, equal to that ever
asserted by the Church in its strongest days. Perhaps you will get an
idea of the height of this pretension if I translate a passage which the
liberal journal here takes from a sermon preached in the parish church
of Ebersburg, in Ober-Dorfen, by a priest, Herr Kooperator Anton
Hiring, no longer ago than August 16, 1868. It reads: “With the power
of absolution, Christ has endued the priesthood with a might which is
terrible to hell, and against which Lucifer himself cannot stand,-a
might which, indeed, reaches over into eternity, where all other earthly
powers find their limit and end,--a might, I say, which is able to break
the fetters which, for an eternity, were forged through the commission
of heavy sin. Yes, further, this Power of the forgiveness of sins makes
the priest, in a certain measure, a second God; for God alone naturally
can forgive sins. And yet this is not the highest reach of the priestly
might: his power reaches still higher; he compels God himself to serve
him. How so? When the priest approaches the altar, in order to bring
there the holy mass-offering, there, at that moment, lifts himself up
Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father, upon his
throne, in order to be ready for the beck of his priests upon earth.
And scarcely does the priest begin the words of consecration, than there
Christ already hovers, surrounded by the heavenly host, come down from
heaven to earth, and to the altar of sacrifice, and changes, upon the
words of the priest, the bread and wine into his holy flesh and blood,
and permits himself then to be taken up and to lie in the hands of the
priest, even though the priest is the most sinful and the most unworthy.
Further, his power surpasses that of the highest archangels, and of the
Queen of Heaven. Right did the holy Franciscus say, ‘If I should meet a
priest and an angel at the same time, I should salute the priest first,
and then the angel; because the priest is possessed of far higher might
and holiness than the angel.’”

The radical journal calls this “ultramontane blasphemy,” and, the day
after quoting it, adds a charge that must be still more annoying to
the Herr Kooperator Hiring than that of blasphemy: it accuses him of
plagiarism; and, to substantiate the charge, quotes almost the very same
language from a sermon preached in 1785--In this it is boldly claimed
that “in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, there is nothing mightier
than a priest, except God; and, to be exact, God himself must obey
the priest in the mass.” And then, in words which I do not care to
translate, the priest is made greater than the Virgin Mary, because
Christ was only born of the Virgin once, while the priest “with five
words, as often and wherever he will,” can “bring forth the Saviour of
the world.” So to-day keeps firm hold of the traditions of a hundred
years ago, and ultramontanism wisely defends the last citadel where the
Middle Age superstition makes a stand,--the popular veneration for the

And the clergy take good care to keep up the pomps and shows even
here in skeptical Munich. It was my inestimable privilege the other
morning--it was All-Saints’ Day--to see the archbishop in the old
Frauenkirche, the ancient cathedral, where hang tattered banners that
were captured from the Turks three centuries ago,--to see him seated
in the choir, overlooked by saints and apostles carved in wood by some
forgotten artist of the fifteenth century. I supposed he was at least an
archbishop, from the retinue of priests who attended and served him, and
also from his great size. When he sat down, it required a dignitary of
considerable rank to put on his hat; and when he arose to speak a few
precious words, the effect was visible a good many yards from where
he stood. At the close of the service he went in great state down the
center aisle, preceded by the gorgeous beadle--a character that is
always awe-inspiring to me in these churches, being a cross between
a magnificent drum-major and a verger and two persons in livery, and
followed by a train of splendidly attired priests, six of whom bore
up his long train of purple silk. The whole cortege was resplendent in
embroidery and ermine; and as the great man swept out of my sight, and
was carried on a priestly wave into his shining carriage, and the noble
footman jumped up behind, and he rolled away to his dinner, I stood
leaning against a pillar, and reflected if it could be possible that
that religion could be anything but genuine which had so much genuine
ermine. And the organ-notes, rolling down the arches, seemed to me to
have a very ultramontane sound.


Perhaps it may not interest you to know how we moved, that is, changed
our apartments. I did not see it mentioned in the cable dispatches, and
it may not be generally known, even in Germany; but then, the cable is
so occupied with relating how his Serenity this, and his Highness that,
and her Loftiness the other one, went outdoors and came in again, owing
to a slight superfluity of the liquid element in the atmosphere, that it
has no time to notice the real movements of the people. And yet, so
dry are some of these little German newspapers of news, that it is
refreshing to read, now and then, that the king, on Sunday, walked out
with the Duke of Hesse after dinner (one would like to know if they also
had sauerkraut and sausage), and that his prospective mother-in-law,
the Empress of Russia, who was here the other day, on her way home from
Como, where she was nearly drowned out by the inundation, sat for an
hour on Sunday night, after the opera, in the winter garden of the
palace, enjoying the most easy family intercourse.

But about moving. Let me tell you that to change quarters in the face
of a Munich winter, which arrives here the 1st of November, is like
changing front to the enemy just before a battle; and if we had perished
in the attempt, it might have been put upon our monuments, as it is upon
the out-of-cannon-cast obelisk in the Karolina Platz, erected to
the memory of the thirty thousand Bavarian soldiers who fell in the
disastrous Russian winter campaign of Napoleon, fighting against all the
interests of Germany,--“they, too, died for their Fatherland.” Bavaria
happened also to fight on the wrong side at Sadowa and I suppose that
those who fell there also died for Fatherland: it is a way the Germans
have of doing, and they mean nothing serious by it. But, as I was
saying, to change quarters here as late as November is a little
difficult, for the wise ones seek to get housed for the winter by
October: they select the sunny apartments, get on the double windows,
and store up wood. The plants are tied up in the gardens, the fountains
are covered over, and the inhabitants go about in furs and the heaviest
winter clothing long before we should think of doing so at home. And
they are wise: the snow comes early, and, besides, a cruel fog, cold as
the grave and penetrating as remorse, comes down out of the near Tyrol.
One morning early in November, I looked out of the window to find snow
falling, and the ground covered with it. There was dampness and frost
enough in the air to make it cling to all the tree-twigs, and to take
fantastic shapes on all the queer roofs and the slenderest pinnacles
and most delicate architectural ornamentations. The city spires had a
mysterious appearance in the gray haze; and above all, the round-topped
towers of the old Frauenkirche, frosted with a little snow, loomed up
more grandly than ever. When I went around to the Hof Garden, where I
late had sat in the sun, and heard the brown horse-chestnuts drop on
the leaves, the benches were now full of snow, and the fat and friendly
fruit-woman at the gate had retired behind glass windows into a little
shop, which she might well warm by her own person, if she radiated heat
as readily as she used to absorb it on the warm autumn days, when I have
marked her knitting in the sunshine.

But we are not moving. The first step we took was to advertise our wants
in the “Neueste Nachrichten” (“Latest News “) newspaper. We desired, if
possible, admission into some respectable German family, where we should
be forced to speak German, and in which our society, if I may so express
it, would be some compensation for our bad grammar. We wished also
to live in the central part of the city,--in short, in the immediate
neighborhood of all the objects of interest (which are here very much
scattered), and to have pleasant rooms. In Dresden, where the people
are not so rich as in Munich, and where different customs prevail, it
is customary for the best people, I mean the families of university
professors, for instance, to take in foreigners, and give them tolerable
food and a liberal education. Here it is otherwise. Nearly all families
occupy one floor of a building, renting just rooms enough for the
family, so that their apartments are not elastic enough to take in
strangers, even if they desire to do so. And generally they do not.
Munich society is perhaps chargeable with being a little stiff and
exclusive. Well, we advertised in the “Neueste Nachrichten.” This is
the liberal paper of Munich. It is a poorly printed, black-looking daily
sheet, folded in octavo size, and containing anywhere from sixteen to
thirty-four pages, more or less, as it happens to have advertisements.
It sometimes will not have more than two or three pages of reading
matter. There will be a scrap or two of local news, the brief telegrams
taken from the official paper of the day before, a bit or two of other
news, and perhaps a short and slashing editorial on the ultramontane
party. The advantage of printing and folding it in such small leaves is,
that the size can be varied according to the demands of advertisements
or news (if the German papers ever find out what that is); so that the
publisher is always giving, every day, just what it pays to give that
day; and the reader has his regular quantity of reading matter, and does
not have to pay for advertising space, which in journals of unchangeable
form cannot always be used profitably. This little journal was started
something like twenty years ago. It probably spends little for news, has
only one or, at most, two editors, is crowded with advertisements, which
are inserted cheap, and costs, delivered, a little over six francs a
year. It circulates in the city some thirty-five thousand. There is
another little paper here of the same size, but not so many leaves,
called “The Daily Advertiser,” with nothing but advertisements,
principally of theaters, concerts, and the daily sights, and one page
devoted to some prodigious yarn, generally concerning America, of
which country its readers must get the most extraordinary and frightful
impression. The “Nachrichten” made the fortune of its first owner, who
built himself a fine house out of it, and retired to enjoy his wealth.
It was recently sold for one hundred thousand guldens; and I can see
that it is piling up another fortune for its present owner. The Germans,
who herein show their good sense and the high state of civilization
to which they have reached, are very free advertisers, going to the
newspapers with all their wants, and finding in them that aid which all
interests and all sorts of people, from kaiser to kerl, are compelled,
in these days, to seek in the daily journal. Every German town of any
size has three or four of these little journals of flying leaves, which
are excellent papers in every respect, except that they look like badly
printed handbills, and have very little news and no editorials worth
speaking of. An exception to these in Bavaria is the “Allgerneine
Zeitung” of Augsburg, which is old and immensely respectable, and is
perhaps, for extent of correspondence and splendidly written editorials
on a great variety of topics, excelled by no journal in Europe except
the London “Times.” It gives out two editions daily, the evening one
about the size of the New York “Nation;” and it has all the telegraphic
news. It is absurdly old-grannyish, and is malevolent in its pretended
conservatism and impartiality. Yet it circulates over forty thousand
copies, and goes all over Germany.

But were we not saying something about moving? The truth is, that the
best German families did not respond to our appeal with that alacrity
which we had no right to expect, and did not exhibit that anxiety for
our society which would have been such a pleasant evidence of their
appreciation of the honor done to the royal city of Munich by the
selection of it as a residence during the most disagreeable months of
the year by the advertising undersigned. Even the young king, whose
approaching marriage to the Russian princess, one would think, might
soften his heart, did nothing to win our regard, or to show that he
appreciated our residence “near” his court, and, so far as I know, never
read with any sort of attention our advertisement, which was composed
with as much care as Goethe’s “Faust,” and probably with the use of more
dictionaries. And this, when he has an extraordinary large Residenz, to
say nothing about other outlying palaces and comfortable places to live
in, in which I know there are scores of elegantly furnished apartments,
which stand idle almost the year round, and might as well be let to
appreciative strangers, who would accustom the rather washy and fierce
frescoes on the walls to be stared at. I might have selected rooms, say
on the court which looks on the exquisite bronze fountain, Perseus with
the head of Medusa, a copy of the one in Florence by Benvenuto Cellini,
where we could have a southern exposure. Or we might, so it would seem,
have had rooms by the winter garden, where tropical plants rejoice in
perennial summer, and blossom and bear fruit, while a northern winter
rages without. Yet the king did not see it “by those lamps;” and I
looked in vain on the gates of the Residenz for the notice so frequently
seen on other houses, of apartments to let. And yet we had responses.
The day after the announcement appeared, our bell ran perpetually; and
we had as many letters as if we had advertised for wives innumerable.
The German notes poured in upon us in a flood; each one of them
containing an offer tempting enough to beguile an angel out of paradise,
at least, according to our translation: they proffered us chambers that
were positively overheated by the flaming sun (which, I can take my
oath, only ventures a few feet above the horizon at this season), which
were friendly in appearance, splendidly furnished and near to every
desirable thing, and in which, usually, some American family had long
resided, and experienced a content and happiness not to be felt out of

I spent some days in calling upon the worthy frauen who made these
alluring offers. The visits were full of profit to the student of human
nature, but profitless otherwise. I was ushered into low, dark chambers,
small and dreary, looking towards the sunless north, which I was assured
were delightful and even elegant. I was taken up to the top of tall
houses, through a smell of cabbage that was appalling, to find empty and
dreary rooms, from which I fled in fright. We were visited by so many
people who had chambers to rent, that we were impressed with the idea
that all Munich was to let; and yet, when we visited the places offered,
we found they were only to be let alone. One of the frauen who did us
the honor to call, also wrote a note, and inclosed a letter that she had
just received from an American gentleman (I make no secret of it that
he came from Hartford), in which were many kindly expressions for her
welfare, and thanks for the aid he had received in his study of German;
and yet I think her chambers are the most uninviting in the entire city.
There were people who were willing to teach us German, without rooms or
board; or to lodge us without giving us German or food; or to feed us,
and let us starve intellectually, and lodge where we could.

But all things have an end, and so did our hunt for lodgings. I chanced
one day in my walk to find, with no help from the advertisement, very
nearly what we desired,--cheerful rooms in a pleasant neighborhood,
where the sun comes when it comes out at all, and opposite the Glass
Palace, through which the sun streams in the afternoon with a certain
splendor, and almost next door to the residence and laboratory of the
famous chemist, Professor Liebig; so that we can have our feelings
analyzed whenever it is desirable. When we had set up our household
gods, and a fire was kindled in the tall white porcelain family
monument, which is called here a stove,--and which, by the way, is
much more agreeable than your hideous black and air-scorching cast-iron
stoves,--and seen that the feather-beds under which we were expected to
lie were thick enough to roast the half of the body, and short enough to
let the other half freeze, we determined to try for a season the regular
German cookery, our table heretofore having been served with food cooked
in the English style with only a slight German flavor. A week of the
experiment was quite enough. I do not mean to say that the viands served
us were not good, only that we could not make up our minds to eat them.
The Germans eat a great deal of meat; and we were obliged to take meat
when we preferred vegetables. Now, when a deep dish is set before you
wherein are chunks of pork reposing on stewed potatoes, and another
wherein a fathomless depth of sauerkraut supports coils of boiled
sausage, which, considering that you are a mortal and responsible being,
and have a stomach, will you choose? Herein Munich, nearly all the bread
is filled with anise or caraway seed; it is possible to get, however,
the best wheat bread we have eaten in Europe, and we usually have it;
but one must maintain a constant vigilance against the inroads of the
fragrant seeds. Imagine, then, our despair, when one day the potato,
the one vegetable we had always eaten with perfect confidence, appeared
stewed with caraway seeds. This was too much for American human nature,
constituted as it is. Yet the dish that finally sent us back to our
ordinary and excellent way of living is one for which I have no name.
It may have been compounded at different times, have been the result of
many tastes or distastes: but there was, after all, a unity in it
that marked it as the composition of one master artist; there was
an unspeakable harmony in all its flavors and apparently ununitable
substances. It looked like a terrapin soup, but it was not. Every dive
of the spoon into its dark liquid brought up a different object,--a junk
of unmistakable pork, meat of the color of roast hare, what seemed to be
the neck of a goose, something in strings that resembled the rags of a
silk dress, shreds of cabbage, and what I am quite willing to take my
oath was a bit of Astrachan fur. If Professor Liebig wishes to add to
his reputation, he could do so by analyzing this dish, and publishing
the result to the world.

And, while we are speaking of eating, it may be inferred that the
Germans are good eaters; and although they do not begin early, seldom
taking much more than a cup of coffee before noon, they make it up
by very substantial dinners and suppers. To say nothing of the
extraordinary dishes of meats which the restaurants serve at night, the
black bread and odorous cheese and beer which the men take on board
in the course of an evening would soon wear out a cast-iron stomach in
America; and yet I ought to remember the deadly pie and the corroding
whisky of my native land. The restaurant life of the people is,
of course, different from their home life, and perhaps an evening
entertainment here is no more formidable than one in America, but it
is different. Let me give you the outlines of a supper to which we were
invited the other night: it certainly cannot hurt you to read about it.
We sat down at eight. There were first courses of three sorts of cold
meat, accompanied with two sorts of salad; the one, a composite, with
a potato basis, of all imaginable things that are eaten. Beer and bread
were unlimited. There was then roast hare, with some supporting dish,
followed by jellies of various sorts, and ornamented plates of something
that seemed unable to decide whether it would be jelly or cream; and
then came assorted cake and the white wine of the Rhine and the red of
Hungary. We were then surprised with a dish of fried eels, with a sauce.
Then came cheese; and, to crown all, enormous, triumphal-looking loaves
of cake, works of art in appearance, and delicious to the taste. We
sat at the table till twelve o’clock; but you must not imagine that
everybody sat still all the time, or that, appearances to the contrary
notwithstanding, the principal object of the entertainment was eating.
The songs that were sung in Hungarian as well as German, the poems that
were recited, the burlesques of actors and acting, the imitations
that were inimitable, the take-off of table-tipping and of prominent
musicians, the wit and constant flow of fun, as constant as the
good-humor and free hospitality, the unconstrained ease of the whole
evening, these things made the real supper which one remembers when the
grosser meal has vanished, as all substantial things do vanish.


For a month Munich has been preparing for Christmas. The shop windows
have had a holiday look all December. I see one every day in which are
displayed all the varieties of fruits, vegetables, and confectionery
possible to be desired for a feast, done in wax,--a most dismal
exhibition, and calculated to make the adjoining window, which has a
little fountain and some green plants waving amidst enormous pendent
sausages and pigs’ heads and various disagreeable hashes of pressed
meat, positively enticing. And yet there are some vegetables here that I
should prefer to have in wax,--for instance, sauerkraut. The toy windows
are worthy of study, and next to them the bakers’. A favorite toy of the
season is a little crib, with the Holy Child, in sugar or wax, lying
in it in the most uncomfortable attitude. Babies here are strapped
upon pillows, or between pillows, and so tied up and wound up that they
cannot move a muscle, except, perhaps, the tongue; and so, exactly like
little mummies, they are carried about the street by the nurses,--poor
little things, packed away so, even in the heat of summer, their little
faces looking out of the down in a most pitiful fashion. The popular toy
is a representation, in sugar or wax, of this period of life. Generally
the toy represents twins, so swathed and bound; and, not infrequently,
the bold conception of the artist carries the point of the humor so
far as to introduce triplets, thus sporting with the most dreadful
possibilities of life.

The German bakers are very ingenious; and if they could be convinced of
this great error, that because things are good separately, they must
be good in combination, the produce of their ovens would be much more
eatable. As it is, they make delicious cake, and of endless variety; but
they also offer us conglomerate formations that may have a scientific
value, but are utterly useless to a stomach not trained in Germany.
Of this sort, for the most part, is the famous Lebkuchen, a sort of
gingerbread manufactured in Nurnberg, and sent all over Germany: “age
does not [seem to] impair, nor custom stale its infinite variety.” It is
very different from our simple cake of that name, although it is usually
baked in flat cards. It may contain nuts or fruit, and is spoiled by
a flavor of conflicting spices. I should think it might be sold by the
cord, it is piled up in such quantities; and as it grows old and is much
handled, it acquires that brown, not to say dirty, familiar look, which
may, for aught I know, be one of its chief recommendations. The cake,
however, which prevails at this season of the year comes from the
Tyrol; and as the holidays approach, it is literally piled up on the
fruit-stands. It is called Klatzenbrod, and is not a bread at all, but
and amalgamation of fruits and spices. It is made up into small round or
oblong forms; and the top is ornamented in various patterns, with split
almond meats. The color is a faded black, as if it had been left for
some time in a country store; and the weight is just about that of
pig-iron. I had formed a strong desire, mingled with dread, to taste
it, which I was not likely to gratify,--one gets so tired of such
experiments after a time--when a friend sent us a ball of it. There was
no occasion to call in Professor Liebig to analyze the substance: it
is a plain case. The black mass contains, cut up and pressed together,
figs, citron, oranges, raisins, dates, various kinds of nuts, cinnamon,
nutmeg, cloves, and I know not what other spices, together with
the inevitable anise and caraway seeds. It would make an excellent
cannon-ball, and would be specially fatal if it hit an enemy in the
stomach. These seeds invade all dishes. The cooks seem possessed of
one of the rules of whist,--in case of doubt, play a trump: in case of
doubt, they always put in anise seed. It is sprinkled profusely in the
blackest rye bread, it gets into all the vegetables, and even into the
holiday cakes.

The extensive Maximilian Platz has suddenly grown up into booths and
shanties, and looks very much like a temporary Western village.
There are shops for the sale of Christmas articles, toys, cakes, and
gimcracks; and there are, besides, places of amusement, if one of the
sorry menageries of sick beasts with their hair half worn off can be so
classed. One portion of the platz is now a lively and picturesque forest
of evergreens, an extensive thicket of large and small trees, many of
them trimmed with colored and gilt strips of paper. I meet in every
street persons lugging home their little trees; for it must be a very
poor household that cannot have its Christmas tree, on which are hung
the scanty store of candy, nuts, and fruit, and the simple toys that the
needy people will pinch themselves otherwise to obtain.

At this season, usually, the churches get up some representations for
the children, the stable at Bethlehem, with the figures of the Virgin
and Child, the wise men, and the oxen standing by. At least, the
churches must be put in spick-and-span order. I confess that I like to
stray into these edifices, some of them gaudy enough when they are, so
to speak, off duty, when the choir is deserted, and there is only here
and there a solitary worshiper at his prayers; unless, indeed, as it
sometimes happens, when I fancy myself quite alone, I come by chance
upon a hundred people, in some remote corner before a side chapel,
where mass is going on, but so quietly that the sense of solitude in the
church is not disturbed. Sometimes, when the place is left entirely to
myself, and the servants who are putting it to rights and, as it were,
shifting the scenes, I get a glimpse of the reality of all the pomp
and parade of the services. At first I may be a little shocked with
the familiar manner in which the images and statues and the gilded
paraphernalia are treated, very different from the stately ceremony
of the morning, when the priests are at the altar, the choir is in the
organ-loft, and the people crowd nave and aisles. Then everything is
sanctified and inviolate. Now, as I loiter here, the old woman sweeps
and dusts about as if she were in an ordinary crockery store: the sacred
things are handled without gloves. And, lo! an unclerical servant,
in his shirt-sleeves, climbs up to the altar, and, taking down the
silver-gilded cherubs, holds them, head down, by one fat foot, while he
wipes them off with a damp cloth. To think of submitting a holy cherub
to the indignity of a damp cloth!

One could never say too much about the music here. I do not mean that of
the regimental bands, or the orchestras in every hall and beer-garden,
or that in the churches on Sundays, both orchestral and vocal. Nearly
every day, at half-past eleven, there is a parade by the Residenz, and
another on the Marian Platz; and at each the bands play for half an
hour. In the Loggie by the palace the music-stands can always be set
out, and they are used in the platz when it does not storm; and the
bands play choice overtures and selections from the operas in fine
style. The bands are always preceded and followed by a great crowd as
they march through the streets, people who seem to live only for this
half hour in the day, and whom no mud or snow can deter from keeping up
with the music. It is a little gleam of comfort in the day for the most
wearied portion of the community: I mean those who have nothing to do.

But the music of which I speak is that of the conservatoire and opera.
The Hof Theater, opera, and conservatoire are all under one royal
direction. The latter has been recently reorganized with a new director,
in accordance with the Wagner notions somewhat. The young king is
cracked about Wagner, and appears to care little for other music: he
brings out his operas at great expense, and it is the fashion here
to like Wagner whether he is understood or not. The opera of the
“Meister-Singer von Nurnberg,” which was brought out last summer,
occupied over five hours in the representation, which is unbearable to
the Germans, who go to the opera at six o’clock or half-past, and expect
to be at home before ten. His latest opera, which has not yet been
produced, is founded on the Niebelungen Lied, and will take three
evenings in the representation, which is almost as bad as a Chinese
play. The present director of the conservatoire and opera, a Prussian,
Herr von Bulow, is a friend of Wagner. There are formed here in town
two parties: the Wagner and the conservative, the new and the old,
the modern and classical; only the Wagnerites do not admit that their
admiration of Beethoven and the older composers is less than that of
the others, and so for this reason Bulow has given us more music of
Beethoven than of any other composer. One thing is certain, that the
royal orchestra is trained to a high state of perfection: its rendition
of the grand operas and its weekly concerts in the Odeon cannot easily
be surpassed. The singers are not equal to the orchestra, for Berlin and
Vienna offer greater inducements; but there are people here who regard
this orchestra as superlative. They say that the best orchestras in
the world are in Germany; that the best in Germany is in Munich;
and, therefore, you can see the inevitable deduction. We have another
parallel syllogism. The greatest pianist in the world is Liszt; but then
Herr Bulow is actually a better performer than Liszt; therefore you see
again to what you must come. At any rate, we are quite satisfied in this
provincial capital; and, if there is anywhere better music, we don’t
know it. Bulow’s orchestra is not very large,--there are less than
eighty pieces, but it is so handled and drilled, that when we hear it
give one of the symphonies of Beethoven or Mendelssohn, there is little
left to be desired. Bulow is a wonderful conductor, a little man, all
nerve and fire, and he seems to inspire every instrument. It is worth
something to see him lead an orchestra: his baton is magical; head,
arms, and the whole body are in motion; he knows every note of the
compositions; and the precision with which he evokes a solitary note out
of a distant instrument with a jerk of his rod, or brings a wail from
the concurring violins, like the moaning of a pine forest in winter,
with a sweep of his arm, is most masterly. About the platform of
the Odeon are the marble busts of the great composers; and while the
orchestra is giving some of Beethoven’s masterpieces, I like to fix my
eyes on his serious and genius-full face, which seems cognizant of all
that is passing, and believe that he has a posthumous satisfaction in
the interpretation of his great thoughts.

The managers of the conservatoire also give vocal concerts, and there
are, besides, quartette soiries; so that there are few evenings without
some attraction. The opera alternates with the theater two or three
times a week. The singers are, perhaps, not known in Paris and London,
but some of them are not unworthy to be. There is the baritone, Herr
Kindermann, who now, at the age of sixty-five, has a superb voice and
manner, and has had few superiors in his time on the German stage. There
is Frau Dietz, at forty-five, the best of actresses, and with a still
fresh and lovely voice. There is Herr Nachbar, a tenor, who has a
future; Fraulein Stehle, a soprano, young and with an uncommon voice,
who enjoys a large salary, and was the favorite until another soprano,
the Malinger, came and turned the heads of king and opera habitues. The
resources of the Academy are, however, tolerably large; and the practice
of pensioning for life the singers enables them to keep always a
tolerable company. This habit of pensioning officials, as well as
musicians and poets, is very agreeable to the Germans. A gentleman the
other day, who expressed great surprise at the smallness of the salary
of our President, said, that, of course, Andrew Johnson would receive
a pension when he retired from office. I could not explain to him how
comical the idea was to me; but when I think of the American people
pensioning Andrew Johnson,--well, like the fictitious Yankee in “Mugby
Junction,” “I laff, I du.”

There is some fashion, in a fudgy, quaint way, here in Munich; but it is
not exhibited in dress for the opera. People go--and it is presumed the
music is the attraction in ordinary apparel. They save all their dress
parade for the concerts; and the hall of the Odeon is as brilliant as
provincial taste can make it in toilet. The ladies also go to operas and
concerts unattended by gentlemen, and are brought, and fetched away,
by their servants. There is a freedom and simplicity about this which
I quite like; and, besides, it leaves their husbands and brothers at
liberty to spend a congenial evening in the cafes, beer-gardens, and
clubs. But there is always a heavy fringe of young officers and gallants
both at opera and concert, standing in the outside passages. It is
cheaper to stand, and one can hear quite as well, and see more.



At all events, saith the best authority, “pray that your flight be not
in winter;” and it might have added, don’t go south if you desire warm
weather. In January, 1869, I had a little experience of hunting after
genial skies; and I will give you the benefit of it in some free running
notes on my journey from Munich to Naples.

It was the middle of January, at eleven o’clock at night, that we left
Munich, on a mixed railway train, choosing that time, and the slowest of
slow trains, that we might make the famous Brenner Pass by daylight. It
was no easy matter, at last, to pull up from the dear old city in which
we had become so firmly planted, and to leave the German friends who
made the place like home to us. One gets to love Germany and the
Germans as he does no other country and people in Europe. There has been
something so simple, honest, genuine, in our Munich life, that we look
back to it with longing eyes from this land of fancy, of hand-organ
music, and squalid splendor. I presume the streets are yet half the day
hid in a mountain fog; but I know the superb military bands are still
playing at noon in the old Marian Platz and in the Loggie by the
Residenz; that at half-past six in the evening our friends are quietly
stepping in to hear the opera at the Hof Theater, where everybody goes
to hear the music, and nobody for display, and that they will be at home
before half-past nine, and have dispatched the servant for the mugs
of foaming beer; I know that they still hear every week the choice
conservatoire orchestral concerts in the Odeon; and, alas that
experience should force me to think of it! I have no doubt that they
sip, every morning, coffee which is as much superior to that of Paris
as that of Paris is to that of London; and that they eat the delicious
rolls, in comparison with which those of Paris are tasteless. I wonder,
in this land of wine,--and yet it must be so,--if the beer-gardens are
still filled nightly; and if it could be that I should sit at a little
table there, a comely lass would, before I could ask for what everybody
is presumed to want, place before me a tall glass full of amber liquid,
crowned with creamy foam. Are the handsome officers still sipping their
coffee in the Cafe Maximilian; and, on sunny days, is the crowd of
fashion still streaming down to the Isar, and the high, sightly walks
and gardens beyond?

As I said, it was eleven o’clock of a clear and not very severe night;
for Munich had had no snow on the ground since November. A deputation of
our friends were at the station to see us off, and the farewells between
the gentlemen were in the hearty fashion of the country. I know there
is a prejudice with us against kissing between men; but it is only a
question of taste: and the experience of anybody will tell him that
the theory that this sort of salutation must necessarily be desirable
between opposite sexes is a delusion. But I suppose it cannot be denied
that kissing between men was invented in Germany before they wore full
beards. Well, our goodbyes said, we climbed into our bare cars. There
is no way of heating the German cars, except by tubes filled with hot
water, which are placed under the feet, and are called foot-warmers. As
we slowly moved out over the plain, we found it was cold; in an hour the
foot-warmers, not hot to start with, were stone cold. You are going to
sunny Italy, our friends had said: as soon as you pass the Brenner you
will have sunshine and delightful weather. This thought consoled us,
but did not warm our feet. The Germans, when they travel by rail, wrap
themselves in furs and carry foot-sacks.

We creaked along, with many stoppings. At two o’clock we were at
Rosenheim. Rosenheim is a windy place, with clear starlight, with a
multitude of cars on a multiplicity of tracks, and a large, lighted
refreshment-room, which has a glowing, jolly stove. We stay there an
hour, toasting by the fire and drinking excellent coffee. Groups of
Germans are seated at tables playing cards, smoking, and taking coffee.
Other trains arrive; and huge men stalk in, from Vienna or Russia, you
would say, enveloped in enormous fur overcoats, reaching to the heels,
and with big fur boots coming above the knees, in which they move like
elephants. Another start, and a cold ride with cooling foot-warmers,
droning on to Kurfstein. It is five o’clock when we reach Kurfstein,
which is also a restaurant, with a hot stove, and more Germans going on
as if it were daytime; but by this time in the morning the coffee had
got to be wretched.

After an hour’s waiting, we dream on again, and, before we know it, come
out of our cold doze into the cold dawn. Through the thick frost on
the windows we see the faint outlines of mountains. Scraping away the
incrustation, we find that we are in the Tyrol, high hills on all sides,
no snow in the valley, a bright morning, and the snow-peaks are soon
rosy in the sunrise. It is just as we expected,--little villages under
the hills, and slender church spires with brick-red tops. At nine
o’clock we are in Innsbruck, at the foot of the Brenner. No snow yet. It
must be charming here in the summer.

During the night we have got out of Bavaria. The waiter at the
restaurant wants us to pay him ninety kreuzers for our coffee, which is
only six kreuzers a cup in Munich. Remembering that it takes one hundred
kreuzers to make a gulden in Austria, I launch out a Bavarian gulden,
and expect ten kreuzers in change. I have heard that sixty Bavarian
kreuzers are equal to one hundred Austrian; but this waiter explains
to me that my gulden is only good for ninety kreuzers. I, in my turn,
explain to the waiter that it is better than the coffee; but we come to
no understanding, and I give up, before I begin, trying to understand
the Austrian currency. During the day I get my pockets full of coppers,
which are very convenient to take in change, but appear to have a very
slight purchasing, power in Austria even, and none at all elsewhere, and
the only use for which I have found is to give to Italian beggars. One
of these pieces satisfies a beggar when it drops into his hat; and
then it detains him long enough in the examination of it, so that your
carriage has time to get so far away that his renewed pursuit is usually

The Brenner Pass repaid us for the pains we had taken to see it,
especially as the sun shone and took the frost from our windows, and we
encountered no snow on the track; and, indeed, the fall was not deep,
except on the high peaks about us. Even if the engineering of the road
were not so interesting, it was something to be again amidst mountains
that can boast a height of ten thousand feet. After we passed the
summit, and began the zigzag descent, we were on a sharp lookout for
sunny Italy. I expected to lay aside my heavy overcoat, and sun myself
at the first station among the vineyards. Instead of that, we bade
good-by to bright sky, and plunged into a snowstorm, and, so greeted,
drove down into the narrow gorges, whose steep slopes we could see were
terraced to the top, and planted with vines. We could distinguish enough
to know that, with the old Roman ruins, the churches and convent towers
perched on the crags, and all, the scenery in summer must be finer
than that of the Rhine, especially as the vineyards here are
picturesque,--the vines being trained so as to hide and clothe the
ground with verdure.

It was four o’clock when we reached Trent, and colder than on top of the
Brenner. As the Council, owing to the dead state of its members for now
three centuries, was not in session, we made no long tarry. We went into
the magnificent large refreshment-room to get warm; but it was as cold
as a New England barn. I asked the proprietor if we could not get at a
fire; but he insisted that the room was warm, that it was heated with a
furnace, and that he burned good stove-coal, and pointed to a register
high up in the wall. Seeing that I looked incredulous, he insisted that
I should test it. Accordingly, I climbed upon a table, and reached up my
hand. A faint warmth came out; and I gave it up, and congratulated the
landlord on his furnace. But the register had no effect on the great
hall. You might as well try to heat the dome of St. Peter’s with a
lucifer-match. At dark, Allah be praised! we reached Ala, where we went
through the humbug of an Italian custom-house, and had our first glimpse
of Italy in the picturesque-looking idlers in red-tasseled caps, and
the jabber of a strange tongue. The snow turned into a cold rain: the
foot-warmers, we having reached the sunny lands, could no longer be
afforded; and we shivered along till nine o’clock, dark and rainy,
brought us to Verona. We emerged from the station to find a crowd of
omnibuses, carriages, drivers, runners, and people anxious to help us,
all vociferating in the highest key. Amidst the usual Italian clamor
about nothing, we gained our hotel omnibus, and sat there for ten
minutes watching the dispute over our luggage, and serenely listening
to the angry vituperations of policemen and drivers. It sounded like a
revolution, but it was only the ordinary Italian way of doing things;
and we were at last rattling away over the broad pavements.

Of course, we stopped at a palace turned hotel, drove into a court with
double flights of high stone and marble stairways, and were hurried up
to the marble-mosaic landing by an active boy, and, almost before we
could ask for rooms, were shown into a suite of magnificent apartments.
I had a glimpse of a garden in the rear,--flowers and plants, and
a balcony up which I suppose Romeo climbed to hold that immortal
love-prattle with the lovesick Juliet. Boy began to light the candles.
Asked in English the price of such fine rooms. Reply in Italian. Asked
in German. Reply in Italian. Asked in French, with the same result.
Other servants appeared, each with a piece of baggage. Other candles
were lighted. Everybody talked in chorus. The landlady--a woman of
elegant manners and great command of her native tongue--appeared with
a candle, and joined in the melodious confusion. What is the price
of these rooms? More jabber, more servants bearing lights. We seemed
suddenly to have come into an illumination and a private lunatic asylum.
The landlady and her troop grew more and more voluble and excited. Ah,
then, if these rooms do not suit the signor and signoras, there are
others; and we were whisked off to apartments yet grander, great suites
with high, canopied beds, mirrors, and furniture that was luxurious
a hundred years ago. The price? Again a torrent of Italian; servants
pouring in, lights flashing, our baggage arriving, until, in the tumult,
hopeless of any response to our inquiry for a servant who could speak
anything but Italian, and when we had decided, in despair, to hire the
entire establishment, a waiter appeared who was accomplished in all
languages, the row subsided, and we were left alone in our glory, and
soon in welcome sleep forgot our desperate search for a warm climate.

The next day it was rainy and not warm; but the sun came out
occasionally, and we drove about to see some of the sights. The first
Italian town which the stranger sees he is sure to remember, the outdoor
life of the people is so different from that at the North. It is the
fiction in Italy that it is always summer; and the people sit in the
open market-place, shiver in the open doorways, crowd into corners
where the sun comes, and try to keep up the beautiful pretense. The
picturesque groups of idlers and traffickers were more interesting to us
than the palaces with sculptured fronts and old Roman busts, or tombs
of the Scaligers, and old gates. Perhaps I ought to except the wonderful
and perfect Roman amphitheater, over every foot of which a handsome
boy in rags followed us, looking over every wall that we looked over,
peering into every hole that we peered into, thus showing his fellowship
with us, and at every pause planting himself before us, and throwing a
somerset, and then extending his greasy cap for coppers, as if he
knew that the modern mind ought not to dwell too exclusively on hoary
antiquity without some relief.

Anxious, as I have said, to find the sunny South, we left Verona that
afternoon for Florence, by way of Padua and Bologna. The ride to Padua
was through a plain, at this season dreary enough, were it not, here and
there, for the abrupt little hills and the snowy Alps, which were always
in sight, and towards sundown and between showers transcendently lovely
in a purple and rosy light. But nothing now could be more desolate than
the rows of unending mulberry-trees, pruned down to the stumps, through
which we rode all the afternoon. I suppose they look better when the
branches grow out with the tender leaves for the silk-worms, and when
they are clothed with grapevines. Padua was only to us a name. There we
turned south, lost mountains and the near hills, and had nothing but the
mulberry flats and ditches of water, and chilly rain and mist. It grew
unpleasant as we went south. At dark we were riding slowly, very slowly,
for miles through a country overflowed with water, out of which trees
and houses loomed up in a ghastly show. At all the stations soldiers
were getting on board, shouting and singing discordantly choruses from
the operas; for there was a rising at Padua, and one feared at Bologna
the populace getting up insurrections against the enforcement of the
grist-tax,--a tax which has made the government very unpopular, as it
falls principally upon the poor.

Creeping along at such a slow rate, we reached Bologna too late for the
Florence train, It was eight o’clock, and still raining. The next train
went at two o’clock in the morning, and was the best one for us to take.
We had supper in an inn near by, and a fair attempt at a fire in our
parlor. I sat before it, and kept it as lively as possible, as the
hours wore away, and tried to make believe that I was ruminating on the
ancient greatness of Bologna and its famous university, some of whose
chairs had been occupied by women, and upon the fact that it was on a
little island in the Reno, just below here, that Octavius and Lepidus
and Mark Antony formed the second Triumvirate, which put an end to
what little liberty Rome had left; but in reality I was thinking of the
draught on my back, and the comforts of a sunny clime. But the time came
at length for starting; and in luxurious cars we finished the night very
comfortably, and rode into Florence at eight in the morning to find, as
we had hoped, on the other side of the Apennines, a sunny sky and balmy

As this is strictly a chapter of travel and weather, I may not stop to
say how impressive and beautiful Florence seemed to us; how bewildering
in art treasures, which one sees at a glance in the streets; or scarcely
to hint how lovely were the Boboli Gardens behind the Pitti Palace, the
roses, geraniums etc, in bloom, the birds singing, and all in a soft,
dreamy air. The next day was not so genial; and we sped on, following
our original intention of seeking the summer in winter. In order to
avoid trouble with baggage and passports in Rome, we determined to book
through for Naples, making the trip in about twenty hours. We started
at nine o’clock in the evening, and I do not recall a more thoroughly
uncomfortable journey. It grew colder as the night wore on, and we went
farther south. Late in the morning we were landed at the station outside
of Rome. There was a general appearance of ruin and desolation. The wind
blew fiercely from the hills, and the snowflakes from the flying clouds
added to the general chilliness. There was no chance to get even a cup
of coffee, and we waited an hour in the cold car. If I had not been so
half frozen, the consciousness that I was actually on the outskirts of
the Eternal City, that I saw the Campagna and the aqueducts, that yonder
were the Alban Hills, and that every foot of soil on which I looked was
saturated with history, would have excited me. The sun came out here and
there as we went south, and we caught some exquisite lights on the near
and snowy hills; and there was something almost homelike in the miles
and miles of olive orchards, that recalled the apple-trees, but for
their shining silvered leaves. And yet nothing could be more desolate
than the brown marshy ground, the brown hillocks, with now and then a
shabby stone hut or a bit of ruin, and the flocks of sheep shivering
near their corrals, and their shepherd, clad in sheepskin, as his
ancestor was in the time of Romulus, leaning on his staff, with his back
to the wind. Now and then a white town perched on a hillside, its houses
piled above each other, relieved the eye; and I could imagine that it
might be all the poets have sung of it, in the spring, though the Latin
poets, I am convinced, have wonderfully imposed upon us.

To make my long story short, it happened to be colder next morning at
Naples than it was in Germany. The sun shone; but the northeast wind,
which the natives poetically call the Tramontane, was blowing, and the
white smoke of Vesuvius rolled towards the sea. It would only last three
days, it was very unusual, and all that. The next day it was colder, and
the next colder yet. Snow fell, and blew about unmelted: I saw it in the
streets of Pompeii.

The fountains were frozen, icicles hung from the locks of the marble
statues in the Chiaia. And yet the oranges glowed like gold among their
green leaves; the roses, the heliotrope, the geraniums, bloomed in all
the gardens. It is the most contradictory climate. We lunched one day,
sitting in our open carriage in a lemon grove, and near at hand the
Lucrine Lake was half frozen over. We feasted our eyes on the brilliant
light and color on the sea, and the lovely outlined mountains round the
shore, and waited for a change of wind. The Neapolitans declare that
they have not had such weather in twenty years. It is scarcely one’s
ideal of balmy Italy.

Before the weather changed, I began to feel in this great Naples, with
its roaring population of over half a million, very much like the sailor
I saw at the American consul’s, who applied for help to be sent home,
claiming to be an American. He was an oratorical bummer, and told his
story with all the dignity and elevated language of an old Roman. He
had been cast away in London. How cast away? Oh! it was all along of a
boarding-house. And then he found himself shipped on an English vessel,
and he had lost his discharge-papers; and “Listen, your honor,” said he,
calmly extending his right hand, “here I am cast away on this desolate
island with nothing before me but wind and weather.”



Ravenna is so remote from the route of general travel in Italy, that
I am certain you can have no late news from there, nor can I bring you
anything much later than the sixth century. Yet, if you were to see
Ravenna, you would say that that is late enough. I am surprised that a
city which contains the most interesting early Christian churches and
mosaics, is the richest in undisturbed specimens of early Christian
art, and contains the only monuments of Roman emperors still in their
original positions, should be so seldom visited. Ravenna has been dead
for some centuries; and because nobody has cared to bury it, its ancient
monuments are yet above ground. Grass grows in its wide streets, and its
houses stand in a sleepy, vacant contemplation of each other: the wind
must like to mourn about its silent squares. The waves of the Adriatic
once brought the commerce of the East to its wharves; but the deposits
of the Po and the tides have, in process of time, made it an inland
town, and the sea is four miles away.

In the time of Augustus, Ravenna was a favorite Roman port and harbor
for fleets of war and merchandise. There Theodoric, the great king of
the Goths, set up his palace, and there is his enormous mausoleum. As
early as A. D. 44 it became an episcopal see, with St. Apollinaris, a
disciple of St. Peter, for its bishop. There some of the later Roman
emperors fixed their residences, and there they repose. In and about it
revolved the adventurous life of Galla Placidia, a woman of considerable
talent and no principle, the daughter of Theodosius (the great
Theodosius, who subdued the Arian heresy, the first emperor baptized in
the true faith of the Trinity, the last who had a spark of genius), the
sister of one emperor, and the mother of another,--twice a slave, once
a queen, and once an empress; and she, too, rests there in the great
mausoleum builded for her. There, also, lies Dante, in his tomb “by the
upbraiding shore;” rejected once of ungrateful Florence, and forever
after passionately longed for. There, in one of the earliest Christian
churches in existence, are the fine mosaics of the Emperor Justinian
and Theodora, the handsome courtesan whom he raised to the dignity
and luxury of an empress on his throne in Constantinople. There is the
famous forest of pines, stretching--unbroken twenty miles down the coast
to Rimini, in whose cool and breezy glades Dante and Boccaccio walked
and meditated, which Dryden has commemorated, and Byron has invested
with the fascination of his genius; and under the whispering boughs
of which moved the glittering cavalcade which fetched the bride to
Rimini,--the fair Francesca, whose sinful confession Dante heard in

We went down to Ravenna from Bologna one afternoon, through a country
level and rich, riding along toward hazy evening, the land getting
flatter as we proceeded (you know, there is a difference between level
and flat), through interminable mulberry-trees and vines, and fields
with the tender green of spring, with church spires in the rosy horizon;
on till the meadows became marshes, in which millions of frogs sang the
overture of the opening year. Our arrival, I have reason to believe, was
an event in the old town. We had a crowd of moldy loafers to witness it
at the station, not one of whom had ambition enough to work to earn a
sou by lifting our traveling-bags. We had our hotel to ourselves, and
wished that anybody else had it. The rival house was quite aware of
our advent, and watched us with jealous eyes; and we, in turn, looked
wistfully at it, for our own food was so scarce that, as an old traveler
says, we feared that we shouldn’t have enough, until we saw it on the
table, when its quality made it appear too much. The next morning, when
I sallied out to hire a conveyance, I was an object of interest to the
entire population, who seemed to think it very odd that any one should
walk about and explore the quiet streets. If I were to describe Ravenna,
I should say that it is as flat as Holland and as lively as New London.
There are broad streets, with high houses, that once were handsome,
palaces that were once the abode of luxury, gardens that still bloom,
and churches by the score. It is an open gate through which one walks
unchallenged into the past, with little to break the association with
the early Christian ages, their monuments undimmed by time, untouched by
restoration and innovation, the whole struck with ecclesiastical death.
With all that we saw that day,--churches, basilicas, mosaics, statues,
mausoleums,--I will not burden these pages; but I will set down is
enough to give you the local color, and to recall some of the most
interesting passages in Christian history in this out-of-the-way city on
the Adriatic.

Our first pilgrimage was to the Church of St. Apollinare Nuova; but
why it is called new I do not know, as Theodoric built it for an
Arian cathedral in about the year 500. It is a noble interior,
having twenty-four marble columns of gray Cippolino, brought from
Constantinople, with composite capitals, on each of which is an impost
with Latin crosses sculptured on it. These columns support round arches,
which divide the nave from the aisles, and on the whole length of the
wall of the nave so supported are superb mosaics, full-length figures,
in colors as fresh as if done yesterday, though they were executed
thirteen hundred years ago. The mosaic on the left side--which is,
perhaps, the finest one of the period in existence--is interesting on
another account. It represents the city of Classis, with sea and ships,
and a long procession of twenty-two virgins presenting offerings to
the Virgin and Child, seated on a throne. The Virgin is surrounded by
angels, and has a glory round her head, which shows that homage is being
paid to her. It has been supposed, from the early monuments of Christian
art, that the worship of the Virgin is of comparatively recent origin;
but this mosaic would go to show that Mariolatry was established before
the end of the sixth century. Near this church is part of the front
of the palace of Theodoric, in which the Exarchs and Lombard kings
subsequently resided. Its treasures and marbles Charlemagne carried off
to Germany.


We drove three miles beyond the city, to the Church of St. Apollinare
in Classe, a lonely edifice in a waste of marsh, a grand old basilica, a
purer specimen of Christian art than Rome or any other Italian town can
boast. Just outside the city gate stands a Greek cross on a small fluted
column, which marks the site of the once magnificent Basilica of St.
Laurentius, which was demolished in the sixteenth century, its stone
built into a new church in town, and its rich marbles carried to
all-absorbing Rome. It was the last relic of the old port of Caesarea,
famous since the time of Augustus. A marble column on a green meadow
is all that remains of a once prosperous city. Our road lay through the
marshy plain, across an elevated bridge over the sluggish united stream
of the Ronco and Montone, from which there is a wide view, including the
Pineta (or Pine Forest), the Church of St. Apollinare in the midst of
rice-fields and marshes, and on a clear day the Alps and Apennines.

I can imagine nothing more desolate than this solitary church, or the
approach to it. Laborers were busy spading up the heavy, wet ground,
or digging trenches, which instantly filled with water, for the whole
country was afloat. The frogs greeted us with clamorous chorus out of
their slimy pools, and the mosquitoes attacked us as we rode along.
I noticed about on the bogs, wherever they could find standing-room,
half-naked wretches, with long spears, having several prongs like
tridents, which they thrust into the grass and shallow water. Calling
one of them to us, we found that his business was fishing, and that he
forked out very fat and edible-looking fish with his trident. Shaggy,
undersized horses were wading in the water, nipping off the thin spears
of grass. Close to the church is a rickety farmhouse. If I lived there,
I would as lief be a fish as a horse.

The interior of this primitive old basilica is lofty and imposing,
with twenty-four handsome columns of the gray Cippolino marble, and an
elevated high altar and tribune, decorated with splendid mosaics of the
sixth century,--biblical subjects, in all the stiff faithfulness of the
holy old times. The marble floor is green and damp and slippery. Under
the tribune is the crypt, where the body of St. Apollinaris used to lie
(it is now under the high altar above); and as I desired to see where he
used to rest, I walked in. I also walked into about six inches of water,
in the dim, irreligious light; and so made a cold-water Baptist devotee
of myself. In the side aisles are wonderful old sarcophagi, containing
the ashes of archbishops of Ravenna, so old that the owners’ names are
forgotten of two of them, which shows that a man may build a tomb
more enduring than his memory. The sculptured bas-reliefs are very
interesting, being early Christian emblems and curious devices,--symbols
of sheep, palms, peacocks, crosses, and the four rivers of Paradise
flowing down in stony streams from stony sources, and monograms, and
pious rebuses. At the entrance of the crypt is an open stone book,
called the Breviary of Gregory the Great. Detached from the church is
the Bell Tower, a circular campanile of a sort peculiar to Ravenna,
which adds to the picturesqueness of the pile, and suggests the
notion that it is a mast unshipped from its vessel, the church, which
consequently stands there water-logged, with no power to catch any wind,
of doctrine or other, and move. I forgot to say that the basilica was
launched in the year 534.

A little weary with the good but damp old Christians, we ordered our
driver to continue across the marsh to the Pineta, whose dark fringe
bounded all our horizon toward the Adriatic. It is the largest unbroken
forest in Italy, and by all odds the most poetic in itself and its
associations. It is twenty-five miles long, and from one to three in
breadth, a free growth of stately pines, whose boughs are full of music
and sweet odors,--a succession of lovely glades and avenues, with miles
and miles of drives over the springy turf. At the point where we entered
is a farmhouse. Laborers had been gathering the cones, which were heaped
up in immense windrows, hundreds of feet in length. Boys and men were
busy pounding out the seeds from the cones. The latter are used for
fuel, and the former are pressed for their oil. They are also eaten:
we have often had them served at hotel tables, and found them rather
tasteless, but not unpleasant. The turf, as we drove into the recesses
of the forest, was thickly covered with wild flowers, of many colors and
delicate forms; but we liked best the violets, for they reminded us
of home, though the driver seemed to think them less valuable than the
seeds of the pine-cones. A lovely day and history and romance united
to fascinate us with the place. We were driving over the spot where,
eighteen centuries ago, the Roman fleet used to ride at anchor. Here,
it is certain, the gloomy spirit of Dante found congenial place for
meditation, and the gay Boccaccio material for fiction. Here for hours,
day after day, Byron used to gallop his horse, giving vent to that
restless impatience which could not all escape from his fiery pen,
hearing those voices of a past and dead Italy which he, more truthfully
and pathetically than any other poet, has put into living verse. The
driver pointed out what is called Byron’s Path, where he was wont to
ride. Everybody here, indeed, knows of Byron; and I think his memory
is more secure than any saint of them all in their stone boxes, partly
because his poetry has celebrated the region, perhaps rather from
the perpetuated tradition of his generosity. No foreigner was ever so
popular as he while he lived at Ravenna. At least, the people say so
now, since they find it so profitable to keep his memory alive and to
point out his haunts. The Italians, to be sure, know how to make
capital out of poets and heroes, and are quick to learn the curiosity of
foreigners, and to gratify it for a compensation. But the evident
esteem in which Byron’s memory is held in the Armenian monastery of St.
Lazzaro, at Venice, must be otherwise accounted for. The monks keep his
library-room and table as they were when he wrote there, and like
to show his portrait, and tell of his quick mastery of the difficult
Armenian tongue. We have a notable example of a Person who became a monk
when he was sick; but Byron accomplished too much work during the few
months he was on the Island of St. Lazzaro, both in original composition
and in translating English into Armenian, for one physically ruined and


The pilgrim to Ravenna, who has any idea of what is due to the genius of
Dante, will be disappointed when he approaches his tomb. Its situation
is in a not very conspicuous corner, at the foot of a narrow street,
bearing the poet’s name, and beside the Church of San Francisco, which
is interesting as containing the tombs of the Polenta family, whose
hospitality to the wandering exile has rescued their names from
oblivion. Opposite the tomb is the shabby old brick house of the
Polentas, where Dante passed many years of his life. It is tenanted now
by all sorts of people, and a dirty carriage-shop in the courtyard kills
the poetry of it. Dante died in 1321, and was at first buried in the
neighboring church; but this tomb, since twice renewed, was erected,
and his body removed here, in 1482. It is a square stuccoed structure,
stained light green, and covered by a dome,--a tasteless monument,
embellished with stucco medallions, inside, of the poet, of Virgil, of
Brunetto Latini, the poet’s master, and of his patron, Guido da Polenta.
On the sarcophagus is the epitaph, composed in Latin by Dante himself,
who seems to have thought, with Shakespeare, that for a poet to make
his own epitaph was the safest thing to do. Notwithstanding the mean
appearance of this sepulcher, there is none in all the soil of Italy
that the traveler from America will visit with deeper interest. Near by
is the house where Byron first resided in Ravenna, as a tablet records.

The people here preserve all the memorials of Byron; and, I should
judge, hold his memory in something like affection. The Palace
Guiccioli, in which he subsequently resided, is in another part of the
town. He spent over two years in Ravenna, and said he preferred it to
any place in Italy. Why I cannot see, unless it was remote from
the route of travel, and the desolation of it was congenial to him.
Doubtless he loved these wide, marshy expanses on the Adriatic, and
especially the great forest of pines on its shore; but Byron was apt to
be governed in his choice of a residence by the woman with whom he was
intimate. The palace was certainly pleasanter than his gloomy house in
the Strada di Porta Sisi, and the society of the Countess Guiccioli
was rather a stimulus than otherwise to his literary activity. At her
suggestion he wrote the “Prophecy of Dante;” and the translation of
“Francesca da Rimini” was “executed at Ravenna, where, five centuries
before, and in the very house in which the unfortunate lady was born,
Dante’s poem had been composed.” Some of his finest poems were also
produced here, poems for which Venice is as grateful as Ravenna. Here
he wrote “Marino Faliero,” “The Two Foscari,” “Morganti Maggiore,”
 “Sardanapalus,” “The Blues,” “The fifth canto of Don Juan,” “Cain,”
 “Heaven and Earth,” and “The Vision of Judgment.” I looked in at the
court of the palace,--a pleasant, quiet place,--where he used to work,
and tried to guess which were the windows of his apartments. The sun was
shining brightly, and a bird was singing in the court; but there was no
other sign of life, nor anything to remind one of the profligate genius
who was so long a guest here.


Very different from the tomb of Dante, and different in the associations
it awakes, is the Rotunda or Mausoleum of Theodoric the Goth, outside
the Porta Serrata, whose daughter, Amalasuntha, as it is supposed, about
the year 530, erected this imposing structure as a certain place “to
keep his memory whole and mummy hid” for ever. But the Goth had not lain
in it long before Arianism went out of fashion quite, and the zealous
Roman Catholics despoiled his costly sleeping-place, and scattered his
ashes abroad. I do not know that any dead person has lived in it since.
The tomb is still a very solid affair,--a rotunda built of solid blocks
of limestone, and resting on a ten-sided base, each side having a recess
surmounted by an arch. The upper story is also decagonal, and is reached
by a flight of modern stone steps. The roof is composed of a single
block of Istrian limestone, scooped out like a shallow bowl inside; and,
being the biggest roof-stone I ever saw, I will give you the dimensions.
It is thirty-six feet in diameter, hollowed out to the depth of ten
feet, four feet thick at the center, and two feet nine inches at the
edges, and is estimated to weigh two hundred tons. Amalasuntha must have
had help in getting it up there. The lower story is partly under water.
The green grass of the inclosure in which it stands is damp enough for
frogs. An old woman opened the iron gate to let us in. Whether she was
any relation of the ancient proprietor, I did not inquire; but she had
so much trouble in, turning the key in the rusty lock, and letting
us in, that I presume we were the only visitors she has had for some

Old women abound in Ravenna; at least, she was not young who showed
us the mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Placidia was also prudent and
foreseeing, and built this once magnificent sepulcher for her own
occupation. It is in the form of a Latin cross, forty-six feet in length
by about forty in width. The floor is paved with rich marbles; the
cupola is covered with mosaics of the time of the empress; and in the
arch over the door is a fine representation of the Good Shepherd. Behind
the altar is the massive sarcophagus of marble (its cover of silver
plates was long ago torn off) in which are literally the ashes of
the empress. She was immured in it as a mummy, in a sitting position,
clothed in imperial robes; and there the ghastly corpse sat in a
cypress-wood chair, to be looked at by anybody who chose to peep through
the aperture, for more than eleven hundred years, till one day, in 1577,
some children introduced a lighted candle, perhaps out of compassion for
her who sat so long in darkness, when her clothes caught fire, and she
was burned up,--a warning to all children not to play with a dead and
dry empress. In this resting-place are also the tombs of Honorius II.,
her brother, of Constantius III., her second husband, and of Honoria,
her daughter.

There are no other undisturbed tombs of the Caesars in existence. Hers
is almost the last, and the very small last, of a great succession. What
thoughts of a great empire in ruins do not force themselves on one in
the confined walls of this little chamber! What a woman was she whose
ashes lie there! She saw and aided the ruin of the empire; but it may be
said of her, that her vices were greater than her misfortunes. And
what a story is her life! Born to the purple, educated in the palace at
Constantinople, accomplished but not handsome, at the age of twenty she
was in Rome when Alaric besieged it. Carried off captive by the Goths,
she became the not unwilling object of the passion of King Adolphus, who
at length married her at Narbonne. At the nuptials the king, in a
Roman habit, occupied a seat lower than hers, while she sat on a throne
habited as a Roman empress, and received homage. Fifty handsome youths
bore to her in each hand a dish of gold, one filled with coin, and the
other with precious stones,--a small part only, these hundred vessels
of treasure, of the spoils the Goths brought from her country. When
Adolphus, who never abated his fondness for his Roman bride, was
assassinated at Barcelona, she was treated like a slave by his
assassins, and driven twelve miles on foot before the horse of his
murderer. Ransomed at length for six hundred thousand measures of wheat
by her brother Honorius, who handed her over struggling to Constantius,
one of his generals. But, once married, her reluctance ceased; and she
set herself to advance the interests of herself and husband, ruling him
as she had done the first one. Her purpose was accomplished when he
was declared joint emperor with Honorius. He died shortly after; and
scandalous stories of her intimacy with her brother caused her removal
to Constantinople; but she came back again, and reigned long as the
regent of her son, Valentinian III.,--a feeble youth, who never grew
to have either passions or talents, and was very likely, as was said,
enervated by his mother in dissolute indulgence, so that she might be
supreme. But she died at Rome in 450, much praised for her orthodoxy and
her devotion to the Trinity. And there was her daughter, Honoria, who
ran off with a chamberlain, and afterward offered to throw herself
into the arms of Attila who wouldn’t take her as a gift at first,
but afterward demanded her, and fought to win her and her supposed
inheritance. But they were a bad lot altogether; and it is no credit to
a Christian of the nineteenth century to stay in this tomb so long.

Near this mausoleum is the magnificent Basilica of St. Vitale, built in
the reign of Justinian, and consecrated in 547, I was interested to
see it because it was erected in confessed imitation of St. Sophia at
Constantinople, is in the octagonal form, and has all the accessories of
Eastern splendor, according to the architectural authorities. Its effect
is really rich and splendid; and it rather dazzled us with its maze
of pillars, its upper and lower columns, its galleries, complicated
capitals, arches on arches, and Byzantine intricacies. To the student of
the very early ecclesiastical art, it must be an object of more interest
than even of wonder. But what I cared most to see were the mosaics in
the choir, executed in the time of Justinian, and as fresh and beautiful
as on the day they were made. The mosaics and the exquisite arabesques
on the roof of the choir, taken together, are certainly unequaled by any
other early church decoration I have seen; and they are as interesting
as they are beautiful. Any description of them is impossible; but
mention may be made of two characteristic groups, remarkable for
execution, and having yet a deeper interest.

In one compartment of the tribune is the figure of the Emperor
Justinian, holding a vase with consecrated offerings, and surrounded by
courtiers and soldiers. Opposite is the figure of the Empress Theodora,
holding a similar vase, and attended by ladies of her court. There is a
refinement and an elegance about the empress, a grace and sweet dignity,
that is fascinating. This is royalty,--stately and cold perhaps: even
the mouth may be a little cruel, I begin to perceive, as I think of her;
but she wears the purple by divine right. I have not seen on any walls
any figure walking out of history so captivating as this lady, who would
seem to have been worthy of apotheosis in a Christian edifice. Can
there be any doubt that this lovely woman was orthodox? She, also, has a
story, which you doubtless have been recalling as you read. Is it worth
while to repeat even its outlines? This charming regal woman was the
daughter of the keeper of the bears in the circus at Constantinople;
and she early went upon the stage as a pantomimist and buffoon. She was
beautiful, with regular features, a little pale, but with a tinge of
natural color, vivacious eyes, and an easy motion that displayed to
advantage the graces of her small but elegant figure. I can see all that
in the mosaic. But she sold her charms to whoever cared to buy them in
Constantinople; she led a life of dissipation that cannot be even hinted
at in these days; she went off to Egypt as the concubine of a general;
was deserted, and destitute even to misery in Cairo; wandered about a
vagabond in many Eastern cities, and won the reputation everywhere of
the most beautiful courtesan of her time; reappeared in Constantinople;
and, having, it is said, a vision of her future, suddenly took to a
pretension of virtue and plain sewing; contrived to gain the notice of
Justinian, to inflame his passions as she did those of all the world
besides, to captivate him into first an alliance, and at length a
marriage. The emperor raised her to an equal seat with himself on his
throne; and she was worshiped as empress in that city where she had been
admired as harlot. And on the throne she was a wise woman, courageous
and chaste; and had her palaces on the Bosphorus; and took good care of
her beauty, and indulged in the pleasures of a good table; had ministers
who kissed her feet; a crowd of women and eunuchs in her secret
chambers, whose passions she indulged; was avaricious and sometimes
cruel; and founded a convent for the irreclaimably bad of her own sex,
some of whom liked it, and some of whom threw themselves into the sea
in despair; and when she died was an irreparable loss to her emperor. So
that it seems to me it is a pity that the historian should say that she
was devout, but a little heretic.



The splendid and tiresome ceremonies of Holy Week set in; also the rain,
which held up for two days. Rome without the sun, and with rain and the
bone-penetrating damp cold of the season, is a wretched place. Squalor
and ruins and cheap splendor need the sun; the galleries need it; the
black old masters in the dark corners of the gaudy churches need it; I
think scarcely anything of a cardinal’s big, blazing footman, unless
the sun shines on him, and radiates from his broad back and his splendid
calves; the models, who get up in theatrical costumes, and get put into
pictures, and pass the world over for Roman peasants (and beautiful many
of them are), can’t sit on the Spanish Stairs in indolent pose when it
rains; the streets are slimy and horrible; the carriages try to run
over you, and stand a very good chance of succeeding, where there are
no sidewalks, and you are limping along on the slippery round
cobble-stones; you can’t get into the country, which is the best part
of Rome: but when the sun shines all this is changed; the dear old dirty
town exercises, its fascinations on you then, and you speedily forget
your recent misery.

Holy Week is a vexation to most people. All the world crowds here to see
its exhibitions and theatrical shows, and works hard to catch a glimpse
of them, and is tired out, if not disgusted, at the end. The things to
see and hear are Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s; singing of the Miserere
by the pope’s choir on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in the Sistine
Chapel; washing of the pilgrims’ feet in a chapel of St. Peter’s, and
serving the apostles at table by the pope on Thursday, with a papal
benediction from the balcony afterwards; Easter Sunday, with the
illumination of St. Peter’s in the evening; and fireworks (this year in
front of St. Peter’s in Montorio) Monday evening. Raised seats are
built up about the high altar under the dome in St. Peter’s, which will
accommodate a thousand, and perhaps more, ladies; and for these tickets
are issued without numbers, and for twice as many as they will seat.
Gentlemen who are in evening dress are admitted to stand in the reserved
places inside the lines of soldiers. For the Miserere in the Sistine
Chapel tickets are also issued. As there is only room for about four
hundred ladies, and a thousand and more tickets are given out, you may
imagine the scramble. Ladies go for hours before the singing begins, and
make a grand rush when the doors are open. I do not know any sight so
unseemly and cruel as a crowd of women intent on getting in to such a
ceremony: they are perfectly rude and unmerciful to each other. They
push and trample one another under foot; veils and dresses are torn;
ladies faint away in the scrimmage, and only the strongest and most
unscrupulous get in. I have heard some say, who have been in the
pellmell, that, not content with elbowing and pushing and pounding, some
women even stick pins into those who are in the way. I hope this latter
is not true; but it is certain that the conduct of most of the women is
brutal. A weak or modest or timid woman stands no more chance than
she would in a herd of infuriated Campagna cattle. The same scenes
are enacted in the efforts to see the pope wash feet, and serve at the
table. For the possession of the seats under the dome on Palm Sunday
and Easter there is a like crush. The ceremonies do not begin until
half-past nine; but ladies go between five and six o’clock in the
morning, and when the passages are open they make a grand rush. The
seats, except those saved for the nobility, are soon all taken, and the
ladies who come after seven are lucky if they can get within the charmed
circle, and find a spot to sit down on a campstool. They can then see
only a part of the proceedings, and have a weary, exhausting time of it
for hours. This year Rome is more crowded than ever before. There are
American ladies enough to fill all the reserved places; and I fear they
are energetic enough to get their share of them.

It rained Sunday; but there was a steady stream of people and carriages
all the morning pouring over the Bridge of St. Angelo, and discharging
into the piazza of St. Peter’s. It was after nine when I arrived on the
ground. There was a crowd of carriages under the colonnades, and a heavy
fringe in front of them; but the hundreds of people moving over the
piazza, and up the steps to the entrances, made only the impression of
dozens in the vast space. I do not know if there are people enough in
Rome to fill St. Peter’s; certainly there was no appearance of a crowd
as we entered, although they had been pouring in all the morning, and
still thronged the doors. I heard a traveler say that he followed ten
thousand soldiers into the church, and then lost them from sight: they
disappeared in the side chapels. He did not make his affidavit as to
the number of soldiers. The interior area of the building is not much
greater than the square of St. Mark in Venice. To go into the great
edifice is almost like going outdoors. Lines of soldiers kept a wide
passage clear from the front door away down to the high altar; and
there was a good mass of spectators on the outside. The tribunes for the
ladies, built up under the dome, were of course, filled with masses of
ladies in solemn black; and there was more or less of a press of people
surging about in that vicinity. Thousands of people were also roaming
about in the great spaces of the edifice; but there was nowhere else
anything like a crowd. It had very much the appearance of a large
fair-ground, with little crowds about favorite booths. Gentlemen in
dress-coats were admitted to the circle under the dome. The pope’s choir
was stationed in a gallery there opposite the high altar. Back of the
altar was a wide space for the dignitaries; seats were there, also, for
ambassadors and those born to the purple; and the pope’s seat was on
a raised dais at the end. Outsiders could see nothing of what went on
within there; and the ladies under the dome could only partially see, in
the seats they had fought so gallantly to obtain.

St. Peter’s is a good place for grand processions and ceremonies; but it
is a poor one for viewing them. A procession which moves down the nave
is hidden by the soldiers who stand on either side, or is visible only
by sections as it passes: there is no good place to get the grand effect
of the masses of color, and the total of the gorgeous pageantry. I
should like to see the display upon a grand stage, and enjoy it in a
coup d’oeil. It is a fine study of color and effect, and the groupings
are admirable; but the whole affair is nearly lost to the mass of
spectators. It must be a sublime feeling to one in the procession to
walk about in such monstrous fine clothes; but what would his emotions
be if more people could see him! The grand altar stuck up under the dome
not only breaks the effect of what would be the fine sweep of the nave
back to the apse, but it cuts off all view of the celebration of the
mass behind it, and, in effect, reduces what should be the great point
of display in the church to a mere chapel. And when you add to that the
temporary tribunes erected under the dome for seating the ladies, the
entire nave is shut off from a view of the gorgeous ceremony of high
mass. The effect would be incomparable if one could stand in the door,
or anywhere in the nave, and, as in other churches, look down to the end
upon a great platform, with the high altar and all the sublime spectacle
in full view, with the blaze of candles and the clouds of incense rising
in the distance.

At half-past nine the great doors opened, and the procession began,
in slow and stately moving fashion, to enter. One saw a throng of
ecclesiastics in robes and ermine; the white plumes of the Guard Noble;
the pages and chamberlains in scarlet; other pages, or what not, in
black short-clothes, short swords, gold chains, cloak hanging from the
shoulder, and stiff white ruffs; thirty-six cardinals in violet robes,
with high miter-shaped white silk hats, that looked not unlike the
pasteboard “trainer-caps” that boys wear when they play soldier;
crucifixes, and a blazoned banner here and there; and, at last, the
pope, in his red chair, borne on the shoulders of red lackeys, heaving
along in a sea-sicky motion, clad in scarlet and gold, with a silver
miter on his head, feebly making the papal benediction with two upraised
fingers, and moving his lips in blessing. As the pope came in, a
supplementary choir of men and soprano hybrids, stationed near the door,
set up a high, welcoming song, or chant, which echoed rather finely
through the building. All the music of the day is vocal.

The procession having reached its destination, and disappeared behind
the altar of the dome, the pope dismounted, and took his seat on
his throne. The blessing of the palms began, the cardinals first
approaching, and afterwards the members of the diplomatic corps, the
archbishops and bishops, the heads of the religious orders, and such
private persons as have had permission to do so. I had previously seen
the palms carried in by servants in great baskets. It is, perhaps, not
necessary to say that they are not the poetical green waving palms,
but stiff sort of wands, woven out of dry, yellow, split palm-leaves,
sometimes four or five feet in length, braided into the semblance of
a crown on top,--a kind of rough basket-work. The palms having been
blessed, a procession was again formed down the nave and out the door,
all in it “carrying palms in their hands,” the yellow color of which
added a new element of picturesqueness to the splendid pageant. The pope
was carried as before, and bore in his hand a short braided palm, with
gold woven in, flowers added, and the monogram “I. H. S.” worked in
the top. It is the pope’s custom to give this away when the ceremony
is over. Last year he presented it to an American lady, whose devotion
attracted him; this year I saw it go away in a gilded coach in the hands
of an ecclesiastic. The procession disappeared through the great portal
into the vestibule, and the door closed. In a moment somebody knocked
three times on the door: it opened, and the procession returned, and
moved again to the rear of the altar, the singers marching with it and
chanting. The cardinals then changed their violet for scarlet robes; and
high mass, for an hour, was celebrated by a cardinal priest: and I was
told that it was the pope’s voice that we heard, high and clear, singing
the passion. The choir made the responses, and performed at intervals.
The singing was not without a certain power; indeed, it was marvelous
how some of the voices really filled the vast spaces of the edifice,
and the choruses rolled in solemn waves of sound through the arches. The
singing, with the male sopranos, is not to my taste; but it cannot be
denied that it had a wild and strange effect.

While this was going on behind the altar, the people outside were
wandering about, looking at each other, and on the watch not to miss any
of the shows of the day. People were talking, chattering, and greeting
each other as they might do in the street. Here and there somebody was
kneeling on the pavement, unheeding the passing throng. At several
of the chapels, services were being conducted; and there was a large
congregation, an ordinary church full, about each of them. But the
most of those present seemed to regard it as a spectacle only; and as a
display of dress, costumes, and nationalities it was almost unsurpassed.
There are few more wonderful sights in this world than an Englishwoman
in what she considers full dress. An English dandy is also a pleasing
object. For my part, as I have hinted, I like almost as well as anything
the big footmen,--those in scarlet breeches and blue gold-embroidered
coats. I stood in front of one of the fine creations for some time, and
contemplated him as one does the Farnese Hercules. One likes to see to
what a splendor his species can come, even if the brains have all
run down into the calves of the legs. There were also the pages, the
officers of the pope’s household, in costumes of the Middle Ages; the
pope’s Swiss guard in the showy harlequin uniform designed by Michael
Angelo; the foot-soldiers in white short-clothes, which threatened
to burst, and let them fly into pieces; there were fine ladies and
gentlemen, loafers and loungers, from every civilized country, jabbering
in all the languages; there were beggars in rags, and boors in coats
so patched that there was probably none of the original material left;
there were groups of peasants from the Campagna, the men in short
jackets and sheepskin breeches with the wool side out, the women with
gay-colored folded cloths on their heads, and coarse woolen gowns; a
squad of wild-looking Spanish gypsies, burning-eyed, olive-skinned,
hair long, black, crinkled, and greasy, as wild in raiment as in face;
priests and friars, Zouaves in jaunty light gray and scarlet; rags and
velvets, silks and serge cloths,--a cosmopolitan gathering poured into
the world’s great place of meeting,--a fine religious Vanity Fair on

There came an impressive moment in all this confusion, a point of august
solemnity. Up to that instant, what with chanting and singing the many
services, and the noise of talking and walking, there was a wild babel.
But at the stroke of the bell and the elevation of the Host, down went
the muskets of the guard with one clang on the marble; the soldiers
kneeled; the multitude in the nave, in the aisles, at all the chapels,
kneeled; and for a minute in that vast edifice there was perfect
stillness: if the whole great concourse had been swept from the earth,
the spot where it lately was could not have been more silent. And then
the military order went down the line, the soldiers rose, the crowd
rose, and the mass and the hum went on.

It was all over before one; and the pope was borne out again, and the
vast crowd began to discharge itself. But it was a long time before
the carriages were all filled and rolled off. I stood for a half hour
watching the stream go by,--the pompous soldiers, the peasants and
citizens, the dazzling equipages, and jaded, exhausted women in black,
who had sat or stood half a day under the dome, and could get no
carriage; and the great state coaches of the cardinals, swinging high in
the air, painted and gilded, with three noble footmen hanging on behind
each, and a cardinal’s broad face in the window.



Everybody who comes to Naples,--that is, everybody except the lady who
fell from her horse the other day at Resina and injured her shoulder,
as she was mounting for the ascent,--everybody, I say, goes up Vesuvius,
and nearly every one writes impressions and descriptions of the
performance. If you believe the tales of travelers, it is an undertaking
of great hazard, an experience of frightful emotions. How unsafe it is,
especially for ladies, I heard twenty times in Naples before I had been
there a day. Why, there was a lady thrown from her horse and nearly
killed, only a week ago; and she still lay ill at the next hotel,
a witness of the truth of the story. I imagined her plunged down a
precipice of lava, or pitched over the lip of the crater, and only
rescued by the devotion of a gallant guide, who threatened to let go
of her if she didn’t pay him twenty francs instantly. This story, which
will live and grow for years in this region, a waxing and never-waning
peril of the volcano, I found, subsequently, had the foundation I have
mentioned above. The lady did go to Resina in order to make the
ascent of Vesuvius, mounted a horse there, fell off, being utterly
unhorsewomanly, and hurt herself; but her injury had no more to do with
Vesuvius than it had with the entrance of Victor Emanuel into Naples,
which took place a couple of weeks after. Well, as I was saying, it is
the fashion to write descriptions of Vesuvius; and you might as well
have mine, which I shall give to you in rough outline.

There came a day when the Tramontane ceased to blow down on us the cold
air of the snowy Apennines, and the white cap of Vesuvius, which is, by
the way, worn generally like the caps of the Neapolitans, drifted inland
instead of toward the sea. Warmer weather had come to make the bright
sunshine no longer a mockery. For some days I had been getting the gauge
of the mountain. With its white plume it is a constant quantity in
the landscape: one sees it from every point of view; and we had been
scarcely anywhere that volcanic remains, or signs of such action,--a
thin crust shaking under our feet, as at Solfatara, where blasts of
sulphurous steam drove in our faces,--did not remind us that the whole
ground is uncertain, and undermined by the subterranean fires that have
Vesuvius for a chimney. All the coast of the bay, within recent historic
periods, in different spots at different times, has risen and sunk and
risen again, in simple obedience to the pulsations of the great
fiery monster below. It puffs up or sinks, like the crust of a baking
apple-pie. This region is evidently not done; and I think it not
unlikely it may have to be turned over again before it is. We had seen
where Herculaneum lies under the lava and under the town of Resina;
we had walked those clean and narrow streets of Pompeii, and seen the
workmen picking away at the imbedded gravel, sand, and ashes which still
cover nearly two thirds of the nice little, tight little Roman city;
we had looked at the black gashes on the mountain-sides, where the lava
streams had gushed and rolled and twisted over vineyards and villas and
villages; and we decided to take a nearer look at the immediate cause of
all this abnormal state of things.

In the morning when I awoke the sun was just rising behind Vesuvius; and
there was a mighty display of gold and crimson in that quarter, as if
the curtain was about to be lifted on a grand performance, say a ballet
at San Carlo, which is the only thing the Neapolitans think worth
looking at. Straight up in the air, out of the mountain, rose a white
pillar, spreading out at the top like a palm-tree, or, to compare it to
something I have seen, to the Italian pines, that come so picturesquely
into all these Naples pictures. If you will believe me, that pillar of
steam was like a column of fire, from the sun shining on and through it,
and perhaps from the reflection of the background of crimson clouds
and blue and gold sky, spread out there and hung there in royal and
extravagant profusion, to make a highway and a regal gateway, through
which I could just then see coming the horses and the chariot of a
southern perfect day. They said that the tree-shaped cloud was the sign
of an eruption; but the hotel-keepers here are always predicting that.
The eruption is usually about two or three weeks distant; and the hotel
proprietors get this information from experienced guides, who observe
the action of the water in the wells; so that there can be no mistake
about it.

We took carriages at nine o’clock to Resina, a drive of four miles, and
one of exceeding interest, if you wish to see Naples life. The way is
round the curving bay by the sea; but so continuously built up is it,
and so inclosed with high walls of villas, through the open gates of
which the golden oranges gleam, that you seem never to leave the
city. The streets and quays swarm with the most vociferous, dirty,
multitudinous life. It is a drive through Rag Fair. The tall,
whitey-yellow houses fronting the water, six, seven, eight stories high,
are full as beehives; people are at all the open windows; garments hang
from the balconies and from poles thrust out; up every narrow, gloomy,
ascending street are crowds of struggling human shapes; and you see
how like herrings in a box are packed the over half a million people of
Naples. In front of the houses are the markets in the open air,--fish,
vegetables, carts of oranges; in the sun sit women spinning from
distaffs or weaving fishing-nets; and rows of children who were never
washed and never clothed but once, and whose garments have nearly
wasted away; beggars, fishermen in red caps, sailors, priests,
donkeys, fruit-venders, street-musicians, carriages, carts, two-wheeled
break-down vehicles,--the whole tangled in one wild roar and rush and
babel,--a shifting, varied panorama of color, rags,--a pandemonium such
as the world cannot show elsewhere, that is what one sees on the road
to Resina. The drivers all drive in the streets here as if they held
a commission from the devil, cracking their whips, shouting to their
horses, and dashing into the thickest tangle with entire recklessness.
They have one cry, used alike for getting more speed out of their horses
or for checking them, or in warning to the endangered crowds on foot. It
is an exclamatory grunt, which may be partially expressed by the
letters “a-e-ugh.” Everybody shouts it, mule-driver, “coachee,” or
cattle-driver; and even I, a passenger, fancied I could do it to
disagreeable perfection after a time. Out of this throng in the streets
I like to select the meek, patient, diminutive little donkeys, with
enormous panniers that almost hide them. One would have a woman seated
on top, with a child in one pannier and cabbages in the other; another,
with an immense stock of market-greens on his back, or big baskets of
oranges, or with a row of wine-casks and a man seated behind, adhering,
by some unknown law of adhesion, to the sloping tail. Then there was
the cart drawn by one diminutive donkey, or by an ox, or by an ox and
a donkey, or by a donkey and horse abreast, never by any possibility a
matched team. And, funniest of all, was the high, two-wheeled caleche,
with one seat, and top thrown back, with long thills and poor horse.
Upon this vehicle were piled, Heaven knows how, behind, before, on the
thills, and underneath the high seat, sometimes ten, and not seldom as
many as eighteen people, men, women, and children,--all in flaunting
rags, with a colored scarf here and there, or a gay petticoat, or
a scarlet cap,--perhaps a priest, with broad black hat, in the
center,--driving along like a comet, the poor horse in a gallop, the
bells on his ornamented saddle merrily jingling, and the whole load in a
roar of merriment.

But we shall never get to Vesuvius at this rate. I will not even stop
to examine the macaroni manufactories on the road. The long strips of
it were hung out on poles to dry in the streets, and to get a rich color
from the dirt and dust, to say nothing of its contact with the filthy
people who were making it. I am very fond of macaroni. At Resina we take
horses for the ascent. We had sent ahead for a guide and horses for our
party of ten; but we found besides, I should think, pretty nearly
the entire population of the locality awaiting us, not to count the
importunate beggars, the hags, male and female, and the ordinary loafers
of the place. We were besieged to take this and that horse or mule, to
buy walking-sticks for the climb, to purchase lava cut into charms, and
veritable ancient coins, and dug-up cameos, all manufactured for the
demand. One wanted to hold the horse, or to lead it, to carry a shawl,
or to show the way. In the midst of infinite clamor and noise, we at
last got mounted, and, turning into a narrow lane between high walls,
began the ascent, our cavalcade attended by a procession of rags and
wretchedness up through the village. Some of them fell off as we rose
among the vineyards, and they found us proof against begging; but
several accompanied us all day, hoping that, in some unguarded moment,
they could do us some slight service, and so establish a claim on us.
Among these I noticed some stout fellows with short ropes, with which
they intended to assist us up the steeps. If I looked away an instant,
some urchin would seize my horse’s bridle; and when I carelessly let my
stick fall on his hand, in token for him to let go, he would fall back
with an injured look, and grasp the tail, from which I could only loosen
him by swinging my staff and preparing to break his head.

The ascent is easy at first between walls and the vineyards which
produce the celebrated Lachryma Christi. After a half hour we reached
and began to cross the lava of 1858, and the wild desolation and gloom
of the mountain began to strike us. One is here conscious of the titanic
forces at work. Sometimes it is as if a giant had ploughed the ground,
and left the furrows without harrowing them to harden into black and
brown stone. We could see again how the broad stream, flowing down,
squeezed and squashed like mud, had taken all fantastic shapes,--now
like gnarled tree roots; now like serpents in a coil; here the human
form, or a part of it,--a torso or a limb,--in agony; now in other
nameless convolutions and contortions, as if heaved up and twisted in
fiery pain and suffering,--for there was almost a human feeling in it;
and again not unlike stone billows. We could see how the cooling crust
had been lifted and split and turned over by the hot stream underneath,
which, continually oozing from the rent of the eruption, bore it down
and pressed it upward. Even so low as the point where we crossed the
lava of 1858 were fissures whence came hot air.

An hour brought us to the resting-place called the Hermitage, an osteria
and observatory established by the government. Standing upon the end of
a spur, it seems to be safe from the lava, whose course has always been
on either side; but it must be an uncomfortable place in a shower of
stones and ashes. We rode half an hour longer on horseback, on a nearly
level path, to the foot of the steep ascent, the base of the great
crater. This ride gave us completely the wide and ghastly desolation of
the mountain, the ruin that the lava has wrought upon slopes that were
once green with vine and olive, and busy with the hum of life. This
black, contorted desert waste is more sterile and hopeless than any
mountain of stone, because the idea of relentless destruction is
involved here. This great hummocked, sloping plain, ridged and seamed,
was all about us, without cheer or relaxation of grim solitude. Before
us rose, as black and bare, what the guides call the mountain, and which
used to be the crater. Up one side is worked in the lava a zigzag path,
steep, but not very fatiguing, if you take it slowly. Two thirds of
the way up, I saw specks of people climbing. Beyond it rose the cone of
ashes, out of which the great cloud of sulphurous smoke rises and rolls
night and day now. On the very edge of that, on the lip of it, where the
smoke rose, I also saw human shapes; and it seemed as if they stood on
the brink of Tartarus and in momently imminent peril.

We left our horses in a wild spot, where scorched boulders had
fallen upon the lava bed; and guides and boys gathered about us like
cormorants: but, declining their offers to pull us up, we began the
ascent, which took about three quarters of an hour. We were then on the
summit, which is, after all, not a summit at all, but an uneven waste,
sloping away from the Cone in the center. This sloping lava waste was
full of little cracks,--not fissures with hot lava in them, or anything
of the sort,--out of which white steam issued, not unlike the smoke from
a great patch of burned timber; and the wind blew it along the ground
towards us. It was cool, for the sun was hidden by light clouds, but not
cold. The ground under foot was slightly warm. I had expected to feel
some dread, or shrinking, or at least some sense of insecurity, but I
did not the slightest, then or afterwards; and I think mine is the usual
experience. I had no more sense of danger on the edge of the crater than
I had in the streets of Naples.

We next addressed ourselves to the Cone, which is a loose hill of ashes
and sand,--a natural slope, I should say, of about one and a half to
one, offering no foothold. The climb is very fatiguing, because you sink
in to the ankles, and slide back at every step; but it is short,--we
were up in six to eight minutes,--though the ladies, who had been helped
a little by the guides, were nearly exhausted, and sank down on the very
edge of the crater, with their backs to the smoke. What did we see? What
would you see if you looked into a steam boiler? We stood on the ashy
edge of the crater, the sharp edge sloping one way down the mountain,
and the other into the bowels, whence the thick, stifling smoke rose.
We rolled stones down, and heard them rumbling for half a minute. The
diameter of the crater on the brink of which we stood was said to be an
eighth of a mile; but the whole was completely filled with vapor. The
edge where we stood was quite warm.

We ate some rolls we had brought in our pockets, and some of the party
tried a bottle of the wine that one of the cormorants had brought up,
but found it anything but the Lachryma Christi it was named. We looked
with longing eyes down into the vapor-boiling caldron; we looked at
the wide and lovely view of land and sea; we tried to realize our awful
situation, munched our dry bread, and laughed at the monstrous demands
of the vagabonds about us for money, and then turned and went down
quicker than we came up.

We had chosen to ascend to the old crater rather than to the new one of
the recent eruption on the side of the mountain, where there is nothing
to be seen. When we reached the bottom of the Cone, our guide led us to
the north side, and into a region that did begin to look like business.
The wind drove all the smoke round there, and we were half stifled with
sulphur fumes to begin with. Then the whole ground was discolored red
and yellow, and with many more gay and sulphur-suggesting colors. And it
actually had deep fissures in it, over which we stepped and among which
we went, out of which came blasts of hot, horrid vapor, with a roaring
as if we were in the midst of furnaces. And if we came near the cracks
the heat was powerful in our faces, and if we thrust our sticks down
them they were instantly burned; and the guides cooked eggs; and the
crust was thin, and very hot to our boots; and half the time we couldn’t
see anything; and we would rush away where the vapor was not so thick,
and, with handkerchiefs to our mouths, rush in again to get the full
effect. After we came out again into better air, it was as if we had
been through the burning, fiery furnace, and had the smell of it on our
garments. And, indeed, the sulphur had changed to red certain of our
clothes, and noticeably my pantaloons and the black velvet cap of one of
the ladies; and it was some days before they recovered their color. But,
as I say, there was no sense of danger in the adventure.

We descended by a different route, on the south side of the mountain,
to our horses, and made a lark of it. We went down an ash slope, very
steep, where we sank in a foot or little less at every step, and there
was nothing to do for it, but to run and jump. We took steps as long as
if we had worn seven-league boots. When the whole party got in motion,
the entire slope seemed to slide a little with us, and there appeared
some danger of an avalanche. But we did n’t stop for it. It was exactly
like plunging down a steep hillside that is covered thickly with light,
soft snow. There was a gray-haired gentleman with us, with a good deal
of the boy in him, who thought it great fun.

I have said little about the view; but I might have written about
nothing else, both in the ascent and descent. Naples, and all the
villages which rim the bay with white, the gracefully curving arms that
go out to sea, and do not quite clasp rocky Capri, which lies at the
entrance, made the outline of a picture of surpassing loveliness. But as
we came down, there was a sight that I am sure was unique. As one in a
balloon sees the earth concave beneath, so now, from where we stood, it
seemed to rise, not fall, to the sea, and all the white villages were
raised to the clouds; and by the peculiar light, the sea looked exactly
like sky, and the little boats on it seemed to float, like balloons in
the air. The illusion was perfect. As the day waned, a heavy cloud hid
the sun, and so let down the light that the waters were a dark purple.
Then the sun went behind Posilipo in a perfect blaze of scarlet, and all
the sea was violet. Only it still was not the sea at all; but the little
chopping waves looked like flecked clouds; and it was exactly as if
one of the violet, cloud-beautified skies that we see at home over some
sunsets had fallen to the ground. And the slant white sails and the
black specks of boats on it hung in the sky, and were as unsubstantial
as the whole pageant. Capri alone was dark and solid. And as we
descended and a high wall hid it, a little handsome rascal, who had
attended me for an hour, now at the head and now at the tail of my pony,
recalled me to the realities by the request that I should give him a
franc. For what? For carrying signor’s coat up the mountain. I rewarded
the little liar with a German copper. I had carried my own overcoat all



The day came when we tired of the brilliancy and din of Naples, most
noisy of cities. Neapolis, or Parthenope, as is well known, was founded
by Parthenope, a siren who was cast ashore there. Her descendants still
live here; and we have become a little weary of their inherited musical
ability: they have learned to play upon many new instruments, with which
they keep us awake late at night, and arouse us early in the morning.
One of them is always there under the window, where the moonlight
will strike him, or the early dawn will light up his love-worn visage,
strumming the guitar with his horny thumb, and wailing through his
nose as if his throat was full of seaweed. He is as inexhaustible as
Vesuvius. We shall have to flee, or stop our ears with wax, like the
sailors of Ulysses.

The day came when we had checked off the Posilipo, and the Grotto,
Pozzuoli, Baiae, Cape Misenum, the Museum, Vesuvius, Pompeii,
Herculaneum, the moderns buried at the Campo Santo; and we said, Let
us go and lie in the sun at Sorrento. But first let us settle our

The Bay of Naples, painted and sung forever, but never adequately, must
consent to be here described as essentially a parallelogram, with an
opening towards the southwest. The northeast side of this, with Naples
in the right-hand corner, looking seaward and Castellamare in the
left-hand corner, at a distance of some fourteen miles, is a vast rich
plain, fringed on the shore with towns, and covered with white houses
and gardens. Out of this rises the isolated bulk of Vesuvius. This
growing mountain is manufactured exactly like an ant-hill.

The northwest side of the bay, keeping a general westerly direction,
is very uneven, with headlands, deep bays, and outlying islands. First
comes the promontory of Posilipo, pierced by two tunnels, partly natural
and partly Greek and Roman work, above the entrance of one of which is
the tomb of Virgil, let us believe; then a beautiful bay, the shore of
which is incrusted with classic ruins. On this bay stands Pozzuoli, the
ancient Puteoli where St. Paul landed one May day, and doubtless walked
up this paved road, which leads direct to Rome. At the entrance, near
the head of Posilipo, is the volcanic island of “shining Nisida,” to
which Brutus retired after the assassination of Caesar, and where he
bade Portia good-by before he departed for Greece and Philippi: the
favorite villa of Cicero, where he wrote many of his letters to Atticus,
looked on it. Baiae, epitome of the luxury and profligacy, of the
splendor and crime of the most sensual years of the Roman empire, spread
there its temples, palaces, and pleasure-gardens, which crowded the low
slopes, and extended over the water; and yonder is Cape Misenum, which
sheltered the great fleets of Rome.

This region, which is still shaky from fires bubbling under the thin
crust, through which here and there the sulphurous vapor breaks out, is
one of the most sacred in the ancient world. Here are the Lucrine Lake,
the Elysian Fields, the cave of the Cumean Sibyl, and the Lake Avernus.
This entrance to the infernal regions was frozen over the day I saw it;
so that the profane prophecy of skating on the bottomless pit might have
been realized. The islands of Procida and Ischia continue and complete
this side of the bay, which is about twenty miles long as the boat

At Castellamare the shore makes a sharp bend, and runs southwest along
the side of the Sorrentine promontory. This promontory is a high, rocky,
diversified ridge, which extends out between the bays of Naples and
Salerno, with its short and precipitous slope towards the latter. Below
Castellamare, the mountain range of the Great St. Angelo (an offshoot of
the Apennines) runs across the peninsula, and cuts off that portion of
it which we have to consider. The most conspicuous of the three parts of
this short range is over four thousand seven hundred feet above the
Bay of Naples, and the highest land on it. From Great St. Angelo to the
point, the Punta di Campanella, it is, perhaps, twelve miles by balloon,
but twenty by any other conveyance. Three miles off this point lies

This promontory has a backbone of rocky ledges and hills; but it has
at intervals transverse ledges and ridges, and deep valleys and chains
cutting in from either side; so that it is not very passable in any
direction. These little valleys and bays are warm nooks for the olive
and the orange; and all the precipices and sunny slopes are terraced
nearly to the top. This promontory of rocks is far from being barren.

From Castellamare, driving along a winding, rockcut road by the
bay,--one of the most charming in southern Italy,--a distance of seven
miles, we reach the Punta di Scutolo. This point, and the opposite
headland, the Capo di Sorrento, inclose the Piano di Sorrento, an
irregular plain, three miles long, encircled by limestone hills, which
protect it from the east and south winds. In this amphitheater it
lies, a mass of green foliage and white villages, fronting Naples and

If nature first scooped out this nook level with the sea, and then
filled it up to a depth of two hundred to three hundred feet with
volcanic tufa, forming a precipice of that height along the shore, I can
understand how the present state of things came about.

This plain is not all level, however. Decided spurs push down into it
from the hills; and great chasms, deep, ragged, impassable, split in the
tufa, extend up into it from the sea. At intervals, at the openings of
these ravines, are little marinas, where the fishermen have their huts’
and where their boats land. Little villages, separate from the world,
abound on these marinas. The warm volcanic soil of the sheltered plain
makes it a paradise of fruits and flowers.

Sorrento, ancient and romantic city, lies at the southwest end of this
plain, built along the sheer sea precipice, and running back to the
hills,--a city of such narrow streets, high walls, and luxuriant groves
that it can be seen only from the heights adjacent. The ancient boundary
of the city proper was the famous ravine on the east side, a similar
ravine on the south, which met it at right angles, and was supplemented
by a high Roman wall, and the same wall continued on the west to the
sea. The growing town has pushed away the wall on the west side; but
that on the south yet stands as good as when the Romans made it. There
is a little attempt at a mall, with double rows of trees, under that
wall, where lovers walk, and ragged, handsome urchins play the exciting
game of fives, or sit in the dirt, gambling with cards for the Sorrento
currency. I do not know what sin it may be to gamble for a bit of
printed paper which has the value of one sou.

The great ravine, three quarters of a mile long, the ancient boundary
which now cuts the town in two, is bridged where the main street,
the Corso, crosses, the bridge resting on old Roman substructions,
as everything else about here does. This ravine, always invested with
mystery, is the theme of no end of poetry and legend. Demons inhabit
it. Here and there, in its perpendicular sides, steps have been cut
for descent. Vines and lichens grow on the walls: in one place, at the
bottom, an orange grove has taken root. There is even a mill down there,
where there is breadth enough for a building; and altogether, the ravine
is not so delivered over to the power of darkness as it used to be.
It is still damp and slimy, it is true; but from above, it is always
beautiful, with its luxuriant growth of vines, and at twilight
mysterious. I like as well, however, to look into its entrance from the
little marina, where the old fishwives are weaving nets.

These little settlements under the cliff, called marinas, are worlds in
themselves, picturesque at a distance, but squalid seen close at hand.
They are not very different from the little fishing-stations on the Isle
of Wight; but they are more sheltered, and their inhabitants sing at
their work, wear bright colors, and bask in the sun a good deal, feeling
no sense of responsibility for the world they did not create. To weave
nets, to fish in the bay, to sell their fish at the wharves, to eat
unexciting vegetables and fish, to drink moderately, to go to the chapel
of St. Antonino on Sunday, not to work on fast and feast days, nor more
than compelled to any day, this is life at the marinas. Their world is
what they can see, and Naples is distant and almost foreign. Generation
after generation is content with the same simple life. They have no more
idea of the bad way the world is in than bees in their cells.


The Villa Nardi hangs over the sea. It is built on a rock, and I know
not what Roman and Greek foundations, and the remains of yet earlier
peoples, traders, and traffickers, whose galleys used to rock there
at the base of the cliff, where the gentle waves beat even in this
winter-time with a summer swing and sound of peace.

It was at the close of a day in January that I first knew the Villa
Nardi,--a warm, lovely day, at the hour when the sun was just going
behind the Capo di Sorrento, in order to disrobe a little, I fancy,
before plunging into the Mediterranean off the end of Capri, as is his
wont about this time of year. When we turned out of the little piazza,
our driver was obliged to take off one of our team of three horses
driven abreast, so that we could pass through the narrow and crooked
streets, or rather lanes of blank walls. With cracking whip, rattling
wheels, and shouting to clear the way, we drove into the Strada di San
Francisca, and to an arched gateway. This led down a straight path,
between olives and orange and lemon-trees, gleaming with shining leaves
and fruit of gold, with hedges of rose-trees in full bloom, to another
leafy arch, through which I saw tropical trees, and a terrace with a low
wall and battered busts guarding it, and beyond, the blue sea, a white
sail or two slanting across the opening, and the whiteness of Naples
some twenty miles away on the shore.

The noble family of the Villa did not descend into the garden to welcome
us, as we should have liked; in fact, they have been absent now for
a long time, so long that even their ghosts, if they ever pace the
terrace-walk towards the convent, would appear strange to one who should
meet them; and yet our hostess, the Tramontano, did what the ancient
occupants scarcely could have done, gave us the choice of rooms in the
entire house. The stranger who finds himself in this secluded paradise,
at this season, is always at a loss whether to take a room on the sea,
with all its changeable loveliness, but no sun, or one overlooking the
garden, where the sun all day pours itself into the orange boughs, and
where the birds are just beginning to get up a spring twitteration. My
friend, whose capacity for taking in the luxurious repose of this region
is something extraordinary, has tried, I believe, nearly every room
in the house, and has at length gone up to a solitary room on the top,
where, like a bird on a tree he looks all ways, and, so to say, swings
in the entrancing air. But, wherever you are, you will grow into content
with your situation.

At the Villa Nardi we have no sound of wheels, no noise of work or
traffic, no suggestion of conflict. I am under the impression that
everything that was to have been done has been done. I am, it is true, a
little afraid that the Saracens will come here again, and carry off more
of the nut-brown girls, who lean over the walls, and look down on us
from under the boughs. I am not quite sure that a French Admiral of the
Republic will not some morning anchor his three-decker in front, and
open fire on us; but nothing else can happen. Naples is a thousand miles
away. The boom of the saluting guns of Castel Nuovo is to us scarcely
an echo of modern life. Rome does not exist. And as for London and New
York, they send their people and their newspapers here, but no pulse of
unrest from them disturbs our tranquillity. Hemmed in on the land side
by high walls, groves, and gardens, perched upon a rock two hundred feet
above the water, how much more secure from invasion is this than any
fabled island of the southern sea, or any remote stream where the boats
of the lotus-eaters float!

There is a little terrace and flower-plat, where we sometimes sit, and
over the wall of which we like to lean, and look down the cliff to the
sea. This terrace is the common ground of many exotics as well as
native trees and shrubs. Here are the magnolia, the laurel, the Japanese
medlar, the oleander, the pepper, the bay, the date-palm, a tree called
the plumbago, another from the Cape of Good Hope, the pomegranate,
the elder in full leaf, the olive, salvia, heliotrope; close by is a

I find a good deal of companionship in the rows of plaster busts that
stand on the wall, in all attitudes of listlessness, and all stages of
decay. I thought at first they were penates of the premises; but better
acquaintance has convinced me that they never were gods, but the clayey
representations of great men and noble dames. The stains of time are on
them; some have lost a nose or an ear; and one has parted with a still
more important member--his head,--an accident that might profitably have
befallen his neighbor, whose curly locks and villainously low forehead
proclaim him a Roman emperor. Cut in the face of the rock is a walled
and winding way down to the water. I see below the archway where it
issues from the underground recesses of our establishment; and there
stands a bust, in serious expectation that some one will walk out and
saunter down among the rocks; but no one ever does. Just at the right
is a little beach, with a few old houses, and a mimic stir of life, a
little curve in the cliff, the mouth of the gorge, where the waves come
in with a lazy swash. Some fishing-boats ride there; and the shallow
water, as I look down this sunny morning, is thickly strewn with
floating peels of oranges and lemons, as if some one was brewing a
gigantic bowl of punch. And there is an uncommon stir of life; for a
schooner is shipping a cargo of oranges, and the entire population is in
a clamor. Donkeys are coming down the winding way, with a heavy basket
on either flank; stout girls are stepping lightly down with loads on
their heads; the drivers shout, the donkeys bray, the people jabber
and order each other about; and the oranges, in a continual stream, are
poured into the long, narrow vessel, rolling in with a thud, until there
is a yellow mass of them. Shouting, scolding, singing, and braying, all
come up to me a little mellowed. The disorder is not so great as on
the opera stage of San Carlo in Naples; and the effect is much more

This settlement, the marina, under the cliff, used to extend along the
shore; and a good road ran down there close by the water. The rock has
split off, and covered it; and perhaps the shore has sunk. They tell
me that those who dig down in the edge of the shallow water find sunken
walls, and the remains of old foundations of Roman workmanship.
People who wander there pick up bits of marble, serpentine, and
malachite,--remains of the palaces that long ago fell into the sea, and
have not left even the names of their owners and builders,-the ancient
loafers who idled away their days as everybody must in this seductive
spot. Not far from here, they point out the veritable caves of the
Sirens, who have now shut up house, and gone away, like the rest of the
nobility. If I had been a mariner in their day, I should have made no
effort to sail by and away from their soothing shore.

I went, one day, through a long, sloping arch, near the sailors’ Chapel
of St. Antonino, past a pretty shrine of the Virgin, down the zigzag
path to this little marina; but it is better to be content with looking
at it from above, and imagining how delightful it would be to push off
in one of the little tubs of boats. Sometimes, at night, I hear the
fishermen coming home, singing in their lusty fashion; and I think it is
a good haven to arrive at. I never go down to search for stones on the
beach: I like to believe that there are great treasures there, which I
might find; and I know that the green and brown and spotty appearance of
the water is caused by the showing through of the pavements of courts,
and marble floors of palaces, which might vanish if I went nearer, such
a place of illusion is this.

The Villa Nardi stands in pleasant relations to Vesuvius, which is just
across the bay, and is not so useless as it has been represented; it
is our weather-sign and prophet. When the white plume on his top floats
inland, that is one sort of weather; when it streams out to sea, that is
another. But I can never tell which is which: nor in my experience does
it much matter; for it seems impossible for Sorrento to do anything but
woo us with gentle weather. But the use of Vesuvius, after all, is
to furnish us a background for the violet light at sundown, when the
villages at its foot gleam like a silver fringe. I have become convinced
of one thing: it is always best when you build a house to have it front
toward a volcano, if you can. There is just that lazy activity about a
volcano, ordinarily, that satisfies your demand for something that is
not exactly dead, and yet does not disturb you.

Sometimes when I wake in the night,--though I don’t know why one ever
wakes in the night, or the daytime either here,--I hear the bell of the
convent, which is in our demesne,--a convent which is suppressed, and
where I hear, when I pass in the morning, the humming of a school. At
first I tried to count the hour; but when the bell went on to strike
seventeen, and even twenty-one o’clock, the absurdity of the thing came
over me, and I wondered whether it was some frequent call to prayer for
a feeble band of sisters remaining, some reminder of midnight penance
and vigil, or whether it was not something more ghostly than that, and
was not responded to by shades of nuns, who were wont to look out from
their narrow latticed windows upon these same gardens, as long ago as
when the beautiful Queen Joanna used to come down here to repent--if she
ever did repent--of her wanton ways in Naples.

On one side of the garden is a suppressed monastery. The narrow front
towards the sea has a secluded little balcony, where I like to fancy
the poor orphaned souls used to steal out at night for a breath of fresh
air, and perhaps to see, as I did one dark evening, Naples with its
lights like a conflagration on the horizon. Upon the tiles of the
parapet are cheerful devices, the crossbones tied with a cord, and the
like. How many heavy-hearted recluses have stood in that secluded nook,
and been tempted by the sweet, lulling sound of the waves below; how
many have paced along this narrow terrace, and felt like prisoners who
wore paths in the stone floor where they trod; and how many stupid louts
have walked there, insensible to all the charm of it!

If I pass into the Tramontano garden, it is not to escape the presence
of history, or to get into the modern world, where travelers are
arriving, and where there is the bustle and proverbial discontent of
those who travel to enjoy themselves. In the pretty garden, which is a
constant surprise of odd nooks and sunny hiding-places, with ruins, and
most luxuriant ivy, is a little cottage where, I am told in confidence,
the young king of Bavaria slept three nights not very long ago. I hope
he slept well. But more important than the sleep, or even death, of a
king, is the birth of a poet, I take it; and within this inclosure, on
the eleventh day of March, 1541, Torquato Tasso, most melancholy of men,
first saw the light; and here was born his noble sister Cornelia, the
descendants of whose union with the cavalier Spasiano still live here,
and in a manner keep the memory of the poet green with the present
generation. I am indebted to a gentleman who is of this lineage for many
favors, and for precise information as to the position in the house that
stood here of the very room in which Tasso was born. It is also minutely
given in a memoir of Tasso and his family, by Bartolommeo Capasso,
whose careful researches have disproved the slipshod statements of the
guidebooks, that the poet was born in a house which is still standing,
farther to the west, and that the room has fallen into the sea. The
descendant of the sister pointed out to me the spot on the terrace of
the Tramontano where the room itself was, when the house still stood;
and, of course, seeing is believing. The sun shone full upon it, as we
stood there; and the air was full of the scent of tropical fruit and
just-coming blossoms. One could not desire a more tranquil scene of
advent into life; and the wandering, broken-hearted author of “Jerusalem
Delivered” never found at court or palace any retreat so soothing as
that offered him here by his steadfast sister.

If I were an antiquarian, I think I should have had Tasso born at the
Villa Nardi, where I like best to stay, and where I find traces of many
pilgrims from other countries. Here, in a little corner room on the
terrace, Mrs. Stowe dreamed and wrote; and I expect, every morning, as
I take my morning sun here by the gate, Agnes of Sorrento will come down
the sweet-scented path with a basket of oranges on her head.


It is not always easy, when one stands upon the highlands which encircle
the Piano di Sorrento, in some conditions of the atmosphere, to tell
where the sea ends and the sky begins. It seems practicable, at such
times, for one to take ship and sail up into heaven. I have often,
indeed, seen white sails climbing up there, and fishing-boats, at secure
anchor I suppose, riding apparently like balloons in the hazy air.
Sea and air and land here are all kin, I suspect, and have certain
immaterial qualities in common. The contours of the shores and the
outlines of the hills are as graceful as the mobile waves; and if there
is anywhere ruggedness and sharpness, the atmosphere throws a friendly
veil over it, and tones all that is inharmonious into the repose of

The atmosphere is really something more than a medium: it is a drapery,
woven, one could affirm, with colors, or dipped in oriental dyes. One
might account thus for the prismatic colors I have often seen on the
horizon at noon, when the sun was pouring down floods of clear golden
light. The simple light here, if one could ever represent it by pen,
pencil, or brush, would draw the world hither to bathe in it. It is not
thin sunshine, but a royal profusion, a golden substance, a transforming
quality, a vesture of splendor for all these Mediterranean shores.

The most comprehensive idea of Sorrento and the great plain on which
it stands, imbedded almost out of sight in foliage, we obtained one day
from our boat, as we put out round the Capo di Sorrento, and stood away
for Capri. There was not wind enough for sails, but there were chopping
waves, and swell enough to toss us about, and to produce bright flashes
of light far out at sea. The red-shirted rowers silently bent to
their long sweeps; and I lay in the tossing bow, and studied the high,
receding shore. The picture is simple, a precipice of rock or earth,
faced with masonry in spots, almost of uniform height from point to
point of the little bay, except where a deep gorge has split the rock,
and comes to the sea, forming a cove, where a cluster of rude buildings
is likely to gather. Along the precipice, which now juts and now recedes
a little, are villas, hotels, old convents, gardens, and groves. I can
see steps and galleries cut in the face of the cliff, and caves and
caverns, natural and artificial: for one can cut this tufa with a knife;
and it would hardly seem preposterous to attempt to dig out a cool,
roomy mansion in this rocky front with a spade.

As we pull away, I begin to see the depth of the plain of Sorrento, with
its villages, walled roads, its groves of oranges, olives, lemons,
its figs, pomegranates, almonds, mulberries, and acacias; and soon the
terraces above, where the vineyards are planted, and the olives also.
These terraces must be a brave sight in the spring, when the masses of
olives are white as snow with blossoms, which fill all the plain with
their sweet perfume. Above the terraces, the eye reaches the fine
outline of the hill; and, to the east, the bare precipice of rock,
softened by the purple light; and turning still to the left, as the boat
lazily swings, I have Vesuvius, the graceful dip into the plain, and the
rise to the heights of Naples, Nisida, the shining houses of Pozzuoli,
Cape Misenum, Procida, and rough Ischia. Rounding the headland, Capri
is before us, so sharp and clear that we seem close to it; but it is a
weary pull before we get under its rocky side.

Returning from Capri late in the afternoon, we had one of those effects
which are the despair of artists. I had been told that twilights are
short here, and that, when the sun disappeared, color vanished from the
sky. There was a wonderful light on all the inner bay, as we put off
from shore. Ischia was one mass of violet color, As we got from under
the island, there was the sun, a red ball of fire, just dipping into the
sea. At once the whole horizon line of water became a bright crimson,
which deepened as evening advanced, glowing with more intense fire,
and holding a broad band of what seemed solid color for more than three
quarters of an hour. The colors, meantime, on the level water,
never were on painter’s palette, and never were counterfeited by the
changeable silks of eastern looms; and this gorgeous spectacle continued
till the stars came out, crowding the sky with silver points.

Our boatmen, who had been reinforced at Capri, and were inspired either
by the wine of the island or the beauty of the night, pulled with new
vigor, and broke out again and again into the wild songs of this coast.
A favorite was the Garibaldi song, which invariably ended in a cheer and
a tiger, and threw the singers into such a spurt of excitement that
the oars forgot to keep time, and there was more splash than speed. The
singers all sang one part in minor: there was no harmony, the voices
were not rich, and the melody was not remarkable; but there was, after
all, a wild pathos in it. Music is very much here what it is in Naples.
I have to keep saying to myself that Italy is a land of song; else I
should think that people mistake noise for music.

The boatmen are an honest set of fellows, as Italians go; and, let us
hope, not unworthy followers of their patron, St. Antonino, whose chapel
is on the edge of the gorge near the Villa Nardi. A silver image of the
saint, half life-size, stands upon the rich marble altar. This valuable
statue has been, if tradition is correct, five times captured and
carried away by marauders, who have at different times sacked Sorrento
of its marbles, bronzes, and precious things, and each time, by some
mysterious providence, has found its way back again,--an instance of
constancy in a solid silver image which is worthy of commendation. The
little chapel is hung all about with votive offerings in wax of arms,
legs, heads, hands, effigies, and with coarse lithographs, in frames,
of storms at sea and perils of ships, hung up by sailors who, having
escaped the dangers of the deep, offer these tributes to their dear
saint. The skirts of the image are worn quite smooth with kissing.
Underneath it, at the back of the altar, an oil light is always burning;
and below repose the bones of the holy man.

The whole shore is fascinating to one in an idle mood, and is good
mousing-ground for the antiquarian. For myself, I am content with one
generalization, which I find saves a world of bother and perplexity: it
is quite safe to style every excavation, cavern, circular wall, or arch
by the sea, a Roman bath. It is the final resort of the antiquarians.
This theory has kept me from entering the discussion, whether the
substructions in the cliff under the Poggio Syracuse, a royal villa, are
temples of the Sirens, or caves of Ulysses. I only know that I descend
to the sea there by broad interior flights of steps, which lead through
galleries and corridors, and high, vaulted passages, whence extend
apartments and caves far reaching into the solid rock. At intervals are
landings, where arched windows are cut out to the sea, with stone seats
and protecting walls. At the base of the cliff I find a hewn passage, as
if there had once been here a way of embarkation; and enormous fragments
of rocks, with steps cut in them, which have fallen from above.

Were these anything more than royal pleasure galleries, where one
could sit in coolness in the heat of summer and look on the bay and its
shipping, in the days when the great Roman fleet used to lie opposite,
above the point of Misenum? How many brave and gay retinues have swept
down these broad interior stairways, let us say in the picturesque
Middle Ages, to embark on voyages of pleasure or warlike forays! The
steps are well worn, and must have been trodden for ages, by nobles and
robbers, peasants and sailors, priests of more than one religion, and
traders of many seas, who have gone, and left no record. The sun was
slanting his last rays into the corridors as I musingly looked down from
one of the arched openings, quite spellbound by the strangeness and dead
silence of the place, broken only by the plash of waves on the sandy
beach below. I had found my way down through a wooden door half ajar;
and I thought of the possibility of some one’s shutting it for the
night, and leaving me a prisoner to await the spectres which I have no
doubt throng here when it grows dark. Hastening up out of these chambers
of the past, I escaped into the upper air, and walked rapidly home
through the narrow orange lanes.


The tiptop of the Villa Nardi is a flat roof, with a wall about it three
feet high, and some little turreted affairs, that look very much like
chimneys. Joseph, the gray-haired servitor, has brought my chair and
table up here to-day, and here I am, established to write.

I am here above most earthly annoyances, and on a level with the
heavenly influences. It has always seemed to me that the higher one
gets, the easier it must be to write; and that, especially at a great
elevation, one could strike into lofty themes, and launch out, without
fear of shipwreck on any of the earthly headlands, in his aerial
voyages. Yet, after all, he would be likely to arrive nowhere, I
suspect; or, to change the figure, to find that, in parting with the
taste of the earth, he had produced a flavorless composition. If it were
not for the haze in the horizon to-day, I could distinguish the very
house in Naples--that of Manso, Marquis of Villa,--where Tasso found
a home, and where John Milton was entertained at a later day by that
hospitable nobleman. I wonder, if he had come to the Villa Nardi and
written on the roof, if the theological features of his epic would have
been softened, and if he would not have received new suggestions for
the adornment of the garden. Of course, it is well that his immortal
production was not composed on this roof, and in sight of these
seductive shores, or it would have been more strongly flavored with
classic mythology than it is. But, letting Milton go, it may be
necessary to say that my writing to-day has nothing to do with my theory
of composition in an elevated position; for this is the laziest place
that I have yet found.

I am above the highest olive-trees, and, if I turned that way, should
look over the tops of what seems a vast grove of them, out of which a
white roof, and an old time-eaten tower here and there, appears; and
the sun is flooding them with waves of light, which I think a person
delicately enough organized could hear beat. Beyond the brown roofs
of the town, the terraced hills arise, in semicircular embrace of the
plain; and the fine veil over them is partly the natural shimmer of the
heat, and partly the silver duskiness of the olive-leaves. I sit with my
back to all this, taking the entire force of this winter sun, which is
full of life and genial heat, and does not scorch one, as I remember
such a full flood of it would at home. It is putting sweetness, too,
into the oranges, which, I observe, are getting redder and softer day
by day. We have here, by the way, such a habit of taking up an orange,
weighing it in the hand, and guessing if it is ripe, that the test is
extending to other things. I saw a gentleman this morning, at breakfast,
weighing an egg in the same manner; and some one asked him if it was

It seems to me that the Mediterranean was never bluer than it is to-day.
It has a shade or two the advantage of the sky: though I like the
sky best, after all; for it is less opaque, and offers an illimitable
opportunity of exploration. Perhaps this is because I am nearer to it.
There are some little ruffles of air on the sea, which I do not feel
here, making broad spots of shadow, and here and there flecks and
sparkles. But the schooners sail idly, and the fishing-boats that have
put out from the marina float in the most dreamy manner. I fear that
the fishermen who have made a show of industry, and got away from
their wives, who are busily weaving nets on shore, are yielding to the
seductions of the occasion, and making a day of it. And, as I look at
them, I find myself debating which I would rather be, a fisherman there
in the boat, rocked by the swell, and warmed by the sun, or a friar,
on the terrace of the garden on the summit of Deserto, lying perfectly
tranquil, and also soaked in the sun. There is one other person, now
that I think of it, who may be having a good time to-day, though I do
not know that I envy him. His business is a new one to me, and is an
occupation that one would not care to recommend to a friend until he had
tried it: it is being carried about in a basket. As I went up the new
Massa road the other day, I met a ragged, stout, and rather dirty woman,
with a large shallow basket on her head. In it lay her husband, a large
man, though I think a little abbreviated as to his legs. The woman asked
alms. Talk of Diogenes in his tub! How must the world look to a man in
a basket, riding about on his wife’s head? When I returned, she had put
him down beside the road in the sun, and almost in danger of the passing
vehicles. I suppose that the affectionate creature thought that, if he
got a new injury in this way, his value in the beggar market would be
increased. I do not mean to do this exemplary wife any injustice; and I
only suggest the idea in this land, where every beggar who is born
with a deformity has something to thank the Virgin for. This custom
of carrying your husband on your head in a basket has something to
recommend it, and is an exhibition of faith on the one hand, and of
devotion on the other, that is seldom met with. Its consideration is
commended to my countrywomen at home. It is, at least, a new commentary
on the apostolic remark, that the man is the head of the woman. It is,
in some respects, a happy division of labor in the walk of life: she
furnishes the locomotive power, and he the directing brains, as he lies
in the sun and looks abroad; which reminds me that the sun is getting
hot on my back. The little bunch of bells in the convent tower is
jangling out a suggestion of worship, or of the departure of the hours.
It is time to eat an orange.

Vesuvius appears to be about on a level with my eyes and I never knew
him to do himself more credit than to-day. The whole coast of the bay
is in a sort of obscuration, thicker than an Indian summer haze; and
the veil extends almost to the top of Vesuvius. But his summit is still
distinct, and out of it rises a gigantic billowy column of white smoke,
greater in quantity than on any previous day of our sojourn; and the sun
turns it to silver. Above a long line of ordinary looking clouds, float
great white masses, formed of the sulphurous vapor. This manufacture
of clouds in a clear, sunny day has an odd appearance; but it is easy
enough, if one has such a laboratory as Vesuvius. How it tumbles up the
white smoke! It is piled up now, I should say, a thousand feet above the
crater, straight into the blue sky,--a pillar of cloud by day. One
might sit here all day watching it, listening the while to the melodious
spring singing of the hundreds of birds which have come to take
possession of the garden, receiving southern reinforcements from Sicily
and Tunis every morning, and think he was happy. But the morning has
gone; and I have written nothing.


If ever a northern wanderer could be suddenly transported to look down
upon the Piano di Sorrento, he would not doubt that he saw the Garden of
the Hesperides. The orange-trees cannot well be fuller: their branches
bend with the weight of fruit. With the almond-trees in full flower,
and with the silver sheen of the olive leaves, the oranges are apples of
gold in pictures of silver. As I walk in these sunken roads, and between
these high walls, the orange boughs everywhere hang over; and through
the open gates of villas I look down alleys of golden glimmer, roses
and geraniums by the walk, and the fruit above,--gardens of enchantment,
with never a dragon, that I can see, to guard them.

All the highways and the byways, the streets and lanes, wherever I go,
from the sea to the tops of the hills, are strewn with orange-peel; so
that one, looking above and below, comes back from a walk with a golden
dazzle in his eyes,--a sense that yellow is the prevailing color.
Perhaps the kerchiefs of the dark-skinned girls and women, which take
that tone, help the impression. The inhabitants are all orange-eaters.
The high walls show that the gardens are protected with great care; yet
the fruit seems to be as free as apples are in a remote New England town
about cider-time.

I have been trying, ever since I have been here, to ascertain the price
of oranges; not for purposes of exportation, nor yet for the personal
importation that I daily practice, but in order to give an American
basis of fact to these idle chapters. In all the paths I meet, daily,
girls and boys bearing on their heads large baskets of the fruit, and
little children with bags and bundles of the same, as large as they can
stagger under; and I understand they are carrying them to the packers,
who ship them to New York, or to the depots, where I see them lying in
yellow heaps, and where men and women are cutting them up, and removing
the peel, which goes to England for preserves. I am told that these
oranges are sold for a couple of francs a hundred. That seems to me so
dear that I am not tempted into any speculation, but stroll back to the
Tramontano, in the gardens of which I find better terms.

The only trouble is to find a sweet tree; for the Sorrento oranges are
usually sour in February; and one needs to be a good judge of the fruit,
and know the male orange from the female, though which it is that is the
sweeter I can never remember (and should not dare to say, if I did, in
the present state of feeling on the woman question),--or he might as
well eat a lemon. The mercenary aspect of my query does not enter in
here. I climb into a tree, and reach out to the end of the branch for
an orange that has got reddish in the sun, that comes off easily and is
heavy; or I tickle a large one on the top bough with a cane pole; and
if it drops readily, and has a fine grain, I call it a cheap one. I can
usually tell whether they are good by splitting them open and eating
a quarter. The Italians pare their oranges as we do apples; but I like
best to open them first, and see the yellow meat in the white casket.
After you have eaten a few from one tree, you can usually tell whether
it is a good tree; but there is nothing certain about it,--one bough
that gets the sun will be better than another that does not, and one
half of an orange will fill your mouth with more delicious juices than
the other half.

The oranges that you knock off with your stick, as you walk along the
lanes, don’t cost anything; but they are always sour, as I think the
girls know who lean over the wall, and look on with a smile: and, in
that, they are more sensible than the lively dogs which bark at you
from the top, and wake all the neighborhood with their clamor. I have no
doubt the oranges have a market price; but I have been seeking the value
the gardeners set on them themselves. As I walked towards the heights,
the other morning, and passed an orchard, the gardener, who saw my
ineffectual efforts, with a very long cane, to reach the boughs of
a tree, came down to me with a basketful he had been picking. As an
experiment on the price, I offered him a two-centime piece, which is a
sort of satire on the very name of money,--when he desired me to help
myself to as many oranges as I liked. He was a fine-looking fellow,
with a spick-span new red Phrygian cap; and I had n’t the heart to take
advantage of his generosity, especially as his oranges were not of the
sweetest. One ought never to abuse generosity.

Another experience was of a different sort, and illustrates the Italian
love of bargaining, and their notion of a sliding scale of prices. One
of our expeditions to the hills was one day making its long, straggling
way through the narrow street of a little village of the Piano, when
I lingered behind my companions, attracted by a handcart with several
large baskets of oranges. The cart stood untended in the street;
and selecting a large orange, which would measure twelve inches in
circumference, I turned to look for the owner. After some time a fellow
got from the open front of the neighboring cobbler’s shop, where he sat
with his lazy cronies, listening to the honest gossip of the follower of
St. Crispin, and sauntered towards me.

“How much for this?” I ask.

“One franc, signor,” says the proprietor, with a polite bow, holding up
one finger.

I shake my head, and intimate that that is altogether too much, in fact,

The proprietor is very indifferent, and shrugs his shoulders in an
amiable manner. He picks up a fair, handsome orange, weighs it in his
hand, and holds it up temptingly. That also is one, franc.

I suggest one sou as a fair price, a suggestion which he only receives
with a smile of slight pity, and, I fancy, a little disdain. A woman
joins him, and also holds up this and that gold-skinned one for my

As I stand, sorting over the fruit, trying to please myself with size,
color, and texture, a little crowd has gathered round; and I see, by
a glance, that all the occupations in that neighborhood, including
loafing, are temporarily suspended to witness the trade. The interest
of the circle visibly increases; and others take such a part in the
transaction that I begin to doubt if the first man is, after all, the

At length I select two oranges, and again demand the price. There is a
little consultation and jabber, when I am told that I can have both for
a franc. I, in turn, sigh, shrug my shoulders, and put down the oranges,
amid a chorus of exclamations over my graspingness. My offer of two sous
is met with ridicule, but not with indifference. I can see that it has
made a sensation. These simple, idle children of the sun begin to show a
little excitement. I at length determine upon a bold stroke, and resolve
to show myself the Napoleon of oranges, or to meet my Waterloo. I pick
out four of the largest oranges in the basket, while all eyes are fixed
on me intently, and, for the first time, pull out a piece of money. It
is a two-sous piece. I offer it for the four oranges.

“No, no, no, no, signor! Ah, signor! ah, signor!” in a chorus from the
whole crowd.

I have struck bottom at last, and perhaps got somewhere near the value;
and all calmness is gone. Such protestations, such indignation, such
sorrow, I have never seen before from so small a cause. It cannot be
thought of; it is mere ruin! I am, in turn, as firm, and nearly as
excited in seeming. I hold up the fruit, and tender the money.

“No, never, never! The signor cannot be in earnest.”

Looking round me for a moment, and assuming a theatrical manner,
befitting the gestures of those about me, I fling the fruit down, and,
with a sublime renunciation, stalk away.

There is instantly a buzz and a hum that rises almost to a clamor. I
have not proceeded far, when a skinny old woman runs after me, and begs
me to return. I go back, and the crowd parts to receive me.

The proprietor has a new proposition, the effect of which upon me is
intently watched. He proposes to give me five big oranges for four sous.
I receive it with utter scorn, and a laugh of derision. I will give two
sous for the original four, and not a centesimo more. That I solemnly
say, and am ready to depart. Hesitation and renewed conference; but at
last the proprietor relents; and, with the look of one who is ruined
for life, and who yet is willing to sacrifice himself, he hands me the
oranges. Instantly the excitement is dead, the crowd disperses, and
the street is as quiet as ever; when I walk away, bearing my hard-won

A little while after, as I sat upon the outer wall of the terrace of the
Camaldoli, with my feet hanging over, these same oranges were taken from
my pockets by Americans; so that I am prevented from making any moral
reflections upon the honesty of the Italians.

There is an immense garden of oranges and lemons at the village of
Massa, through which travelers are shown by a surly fellow, who keeps
watch of his trees, and has a bulldog lurking about for the unwary.
I hate to see a bulldog in a fruit orchard. I have eaten a good many
oranges there, and been astonished at the boughs of immense lemons which
bend the trees to the ground. I took occasion to measure one of the
lemons, called a citron-lemon, and found its circumference to be
twenty-one inches one way by fifteen inches the other,--about as big
as a railway conductor’s lantern. These lemons are not so sour as the
fellow who shows them: he is a mercenary dog, and his prices afford me
no clew to the just value of oranges.

I like better to go to a little garden in the village of Meta, under a
sunny precipice of rocks overhung by the ruined convent of Camaldoli. I
turn up a narrow lane, and push open the wooden door in the garden of
a little villa. It is a pretty garden; and, besides the orange and
lemon-trees on the terrace, it has other fruit-trees, and a scent of
many flowers. My friend, the gardener, is sorting oranges from one
basket to another, on a green bank, and evidently selling the fruit to
some women, who are putting it into bags to carry away.

When he sees me approach, there is always the same pantomime. I propose
to take some of the fruit he is sorting. With a knowing air, and an
appearance of great mystery, he raises his left hand, the palm toward
me, as one says hush. Having dispatched his business, he takes an empty
basket, and with another mysterious flourish, desiring me to remain
quiet, he goes to a storehouse in one corner of the garden, and returns
with a load of immense oranges, all soaked with the sun, ripe and
fragrant, and more tempting than lumps of gold. I take one, and ask him
if it is sweet. He shrugs his shoulders, raises his hands, and, with
a sidewise shake of the head, and a look which says, How can you be so
faithless? makes me ashamed of my doubts.

I cut the thick skin, which easily falls apart and discloses the
luscious quarters, plump, juicy, and waiting to melt in the mouth. I
look for a moment at the rich pulp in its soft incasement, and then try
a delicious morsel. I nod. My gardener again shrugs his shoulders, with
a slight smile, as much as to say, It could not be otherwise, and is
evidently delighted to have me enjoy his fruit. I fill capacious pockets
with the choicest; and, if I have friends with me, they do the same.
I give our silent but most expressive entertainer half a franc, never
more; and he always seems surprised at the size of the largesse. We
exhaust his basket, and he proposes to get more.

When I am alone, I stroll about under the heavily-laden trees, and pick
up the largest, where they lie thickly on the ground, liking to hold
them in my hand and feel the agreeable weight, even when I can carry
away no more. The gardener neither follows nor watches me; and I think
perhaps knows, and is not stingy about it, that more valuable to me than
the oranges I eat or take away are those on the trees among the shining
leaves. And perhaps he opines that I am from a country of snow and ice,
where the year has six hostile months, and that I have not money enough
to pay for the rich possession of the eye, the picture of beauty, which
I take with me.


There are three places where I should like to live; naming them in the
inverse order of preference,--the Isle of Wight, Sorrento, and Heaven.
The first two have something in common, the almost mystic union of
sky and sea and shore, a soft atmospheric suffusion that works an
enchantment, and puts one into a dreamy mood. And yet there are decided
contrasts. The superabundant, soaking sunshine of Sorrento is of very
different quality from that of the Isle of Wight. On the island there is
a sense of home, which one misses on this promontory, the fascination
of which, no less strong, is that of a southern beauty, whose charms
conquer rather than win. I remember with what feeling I one day
unexpectedly read on a white slab, in the little inclosure of Bonchurch,
where the sea whispered as gently as the rustle of the ivy-leaves, the
name of John Sterling. Could there be any fitter resting-place for that
most, weary, and gentle spirit? There I seemed to know he had the rest
that he could not have anywhere on these brilliant historic shores. Yet
so impressible was his sensitive nature, that I doubt not, if he had
given himself up to the enchantment of these coasts in his lifetime, it
would have led him by a spell he could not break.

I am sometimes in doubt what is the spell of Sorrento, and half believe
that it is independent of anything visible. There is said to be a
fatal enchantment about Capri. The influences of Sorrento are not so
dangerous, but are almost as marked. I do not wonder that the Greeks
peopled every cove and sea-cave with divinities, and built temples on
every headland and rocky islet here; that the Romans built upon the
Grecian ruins; that the ecclesiastics in succeeding centuries gained
possession of all the heights, and built convents and monasteries, and
set out vineyards, and orchards of olives and oranges, and took root as
the creeping plants do, spreading themselves abroad in the sunshine
and charming air. The Italian of to-day does not willingly emigrate, is
tempted by no seduction of better fortune in any foreign clime. And so
in all ages the swarming populations have clung to these shores, filling
all the coasts and every nook in these almost inaccessible hills
with life. Perhaps the delicious climate, which avoids all extremes,
sufficiently accounts for this; and yet I have sometimes thought there
is a more subtle reason why travelers from far lands are spellbound
here, often against will and judgment, week after week, month after

However this may be, it is certain that strangers who come here, and
remain long enough to get entangled in the meshes which some influence,
I know not what, throws around them, are in danger of never departing.
I know there are scores of travelers, who whisk down from Naples,
guidebook in hand, goaded by the fell purpose of seeing every place in
Europe, ascend some height, buy a load of the beautiful inlaid woodwork,
perhaps row over to Capri and stay five minutes in the azure grotto,
and then whisk away again, untouched by the glamour of the place. Enough
that they write “delightful spot” in their diaries, and hurry off to new
scenes, and more noisy life. But the visitor who yields himself to the
place will soon find his power of will departing. Some satirical people
say, that, as one grows strong in body here, he becomes weak in mind.
The theory I do not accept: one simply folds his sails, unships his
rudder, and waits the will of Providence, or the arrival of some
compelling fate. The longer one remains, the more difficult it is to go.
We have a fashion--indeed, I may call it a habit--of deciding to go, and
of never going. It is a subject of infinite jest among the habitues
of the villa, who meet at table, and who are always bidding each other
good-by. We often go so far as to write to Naples at night, and bespeak
rooms in the hotels; but we always countermand the order before we sit
down to breakfast. The good-natured mistress of affairs, the head of
the bureau of domestic relations, is at her wits’ end, with guests who
always promise to go and never depart. There are here a gentleman and
his wife, English people of decision enough, I presume, in Cornwall, who
packed their luggage before Christmas to depart, but who have not gone
towards the end of February,--who daily talk of going, and little by
little unpack their wardrobe, as their determination oozes out. It is
easy enough to decide at night to go next day; but in the morning, when
the soft sunshine comes in at the window, and when we descend and walk
in the garden, all our good intentions vanish. It is not simply that we
do not go away, but we have lost the motive for those long excursions
which we made at first, and which more adventurous travelers indulge
in. There are those here who have intended for weeks to spend a day on
Capri. Perfect day for the expedition succeeds perfect day, boatload
after boatload sails away from the little marina at the base of the
cliff, which we follow with eves of desire, but--to-morrow will do as
well. We are powerless to break the enchantment.

I confess to the fancy that there is some subtle influence working this
sea-change in us, which the guidebooks, in their enumeration of the
delights of the region, do not touch, and which maybe reaches back
beyond the Christian era. I have always supposed that the story of
Ulysses and the Sirens was only a fiction of the poets, intended to
illustrate the allurements of a soul given over to pleasure, and deaf to
the call of duty and the excitement of a grapple with the world. But a
lady here, herself one of the entranced, tells me that whoever climbs
the hills behind Sorrento, and looks upon the Isle of the Sirens, is
struck with an inability to form a desire to depart from these coasts. I
have gazed at those islands more than once, as they lie there in the
Bay of Salerno; and it has always happened that they have been in a
half-misty and not uncolored sunlight, but not so draped that I could
not see they were only three irregular rocks, not far from shore, one of
them with some ruins on it. There are neither sirens there now, nor any
other creatures; but I should be sorry to think I should never see them
again. When I look down on them, I can also turn and behold on the
other side, across the Bay of Naples, the Posilipo, where one of the
enchanters who threw magic over them is said to lie in his high tomb
at the opening of the grotto. Whether he does sleep in his urn in that
exact spot is of no moment. Modern life has disillusioned this region
to a great extent; but the romance that the old poets have woven about
these bays and rocky promontories comes very easily back upon one who
submits himself long to the eternal influences of sky and sea which made
them sing. It is all one,--to be a Roman poet in his villa, a lazy
friar of the Middle Ages toasting in the sun, or a modern idler, who has
drifted here out of the active currents of life, and cannot make up his
mind to depart.


On heights at either end of the Piano di Sorrento, and commanding
it, stood two religious houses: the Convent of the Carnaldoli to the
northeast, on the crest of the hill above Meta; the Carthusian Monastery
of the Deserto, to the southwest, three miles above Sorrento. The longer
I stay here, the more respect I have for the taste of the monks of the
Middle Ages. They invariably secured the best places for themselves.
They seized all the strategic points; they appropriated all the
commanding heights; they knew where the sun would best strike the
grapevines; they perched themselves wherever there was a royal view.
When I see how unerringly they did select and occupy the eligible
places, I think they were moved by a sort of inspiration. In those days,
when the Church took the first choice in everything, the temptation to a
Christian life must have been strong.

The monastery at the Deserto was suppressed by the French of the first
republic, and has long been in a ruinous condition. Its buildings crown
the apex of the highest elevation in this part of the promontory:
from its roof the fathers paternally looked down upon the churches and
chapels and nunneries which thickly studded all this region; so that I
fancy the air must have been full of the sound of bells, and of incense
perpetually ascending. They looked also upon St. Agata under the hill,
with a church bigger than itself; upon more distinct Massa, with its
chapels and cathedral and overlooking feudal tower; upon Torca, the
Greek Theorica, with its Temple of Apollo, the scene yet of an annual
religious festival, to which the peasants of Sorrento go as their
ancestors did to the shrine of the heathen god; upon olive and orange
orchards, and winding paths and wayside shrines innumerable. A sweet and
peaceful scene in the foreground, it must have been, and a whole horizon
of enchantment beyond the sunny peninsula over which it lorded: the
Mediterranean, with poetic Capri, and Ischia, and all the classic
shore from Cape Misenum, Baiae, and Naples, round to Vesuvius; all
the sparkling Bay of Naples; and on the other side the Bay of Salerno,
covered with the fleets of the commerce of Amalfi, then a republican
city of fifty thousand people; and Grecian Paestum on the marshy shore,
even then a ruin, its deserted porches and columns monuments of an
architecture never equaled elsewhere in Italy. Upon this charming perch,
the old Carthusian monks took the summer breezes and the winter sun,
pruned their olives, and trimmed their grapevines, and said prayers for
the poor sinners toiling in the valleys below.

The monastery is a desolate old shed now. We left our donkeys to eat
thistles in front, while we climbed up some dilapidated steps, and
entered the crumbling hall. The present occupants are half a dozen
monks, and fine fellows too, who have an orphan school of some twenty
lads. We were invited to witness their noonday prayers. The flat-roofed
rear buildings extend round an oblong, quadrangular space, which is
a rich garden, watered from capacious tanks, and coaxed into easy
fertility by the impregnating sun. Upon these roofs the brothers were
wont to walk, and here they sat at peaceful evening. Here, too, we
strolled; and here I could not resist the temptation to lie an unheeded
hour or two, soaking in the benignant February sun, above every human
concern and care, looking upon a land and sea steeped in romance. The
sky was blue above; but in the south horizon, in the direction of Tunis,
were the prismatic colors. Why not be a monk, and lie in the sun?

One of the handsome brothers invited us into the refectory, a place
as bare and cheerless as the feeding-room of a reform school, and set
before us bread and cheese, and red wine, made by the monks. I notice
that the monks do not water their wine so much as the osteria keepers
do; which speaks equally well for their religion and their taste. The
floor of the room was brick, the table plain boards, and the seats were
benches; not much luxury. The monk who served us was an accomplished
man, traveled, and master of several languages. He spoke English a
little. He had been several years in America, and was much interested
when we told him our nationality.

“Does the signor live near Mexico?”

“Not in dangerous proximity,” we replied; but we did not forfeit his
good opinion by saying that we visited it but seldom.

Well, he had seen all quarters of the globe: he had been for years a
traveler, but he had come back here with a stronger love for it than
ever; it was to him the most delightful spot on earth, he said. And we
could not tell him where its equal is. If I had nothing else to do, I
think I should cast in my lot with him,--at least for a week.

But the monks never got into a cozier nook than the Convent of the
Camaldoli. That also is suppressed: its gardens, avenues, colonnaded
walks, terraces, buildings, half in ruins. It is the level surface of
a hill, sheltered on the east by higher peaks, and on the north by the
more distant range of Great St. Angelo, across the valley, and is one
of the most extraordinarily fertile plots of ground I ever saw. The rich
ground responds generously to the sun. I should like to have seen the
abbot who grew on this fat spot. The workmen were busy in the garden,
spading and pruning.

A group of wild, half-naked children came about us begging, as we sat
upon the walls of the terrace,--the terrace which overhangs the busy
plain below, and which commands the entire, varied, nooky promontory,
and the two bays. And these children, insensible to beauty, want

In the rear of the church are some splendid specimens of the
umbrella-like Italian pine. Here we found, also, a pretty little
ruin,--it might be Greek and--it might be Druid for anything that
appeared, ivy-clad, and suggesting a religion older than that of the
convent. To the east we look into a fertile, terraced ravine; and beyond
to a precipitous brown mountain, which shows a sharp outline against the
sky; halfway up are nests of towns, white houses, churches, and above,
creeping along the slope, the thread of an ancient road, with stone
arches at intervals, as old as Caesar.

We descend, skirting for some distance the monastery walls, over which
patches of ivy hang like green shawls. There are flowers in profusion,
scented violets, daisies, dandelions, and crocuses, large and of the
richest variety, with orange pistils, and stamens purple and violet, the
back of every alternate leaf exquisitely penciled.

We descend into a continuous settlement, past shrines, past brown,
sturdy men and handsome girls working in the vineyards; we descend--but
words express nothing--into a wonderful ravine, a sort of refined Swiss
scene,--high, bare steps of rock butting over a chasm, ruins, old
walls, vines, flowers. The very spirit of peace is here, and it is not
disturbed by the sweet sound of bells echoed in the passes. On narrow
ledges of precipices, aloft in the air where it would seem that a bird
could scarcely light, we distinguish the forms of men and women; and
their voices come down to us. They are peasants cutting grass, every
spire of which is too precious to waste.

We descend, and pass by a house on a knoll, and a terrace of olives
extending along the road in front. Half a dozen children come to the
road to look at us as we approach, and then scamper back to the house in
fear, tumbling over each other and shouting, the eldest girl making
good her escape with the baby. My companion swings his hat, and cries,
“Hullo, baby!” And when we have passed the gate, and are under the wall,
the whole ragged, brown-skinned troop scurry out upon the terrace, and
run along, calling after us, in perfect English, as long as we keep in
sight, “Hullo, baby!” “Hullo, baby!” The next traveler who goes that
way will no doubt be hailed by the quick-witted natives with this
salutation; and, if he is of a philological turn, he will probably
benefit his mind by running the phrase back to its ultimate Greek roots.


For three years, once upon a time, it did not rain in Sorrento. Not a
drop out of the clouds for three years, an Italian lady here, born in
Ireland, assures me. If there was an occasional shower on the Piano
during all that drought, I have the confidence in her to think that she
would not spoil the story by noticing it.

The conformation of the hills encircling the plain would be likely to
lead any shower astray, and discharge it into the sea, with whatever
good intentions it may have started down the promontory for Sorrento. I
can see how these sharp hills would tear the clouds asunder, and let out
all their water, while the people in the plain below watched them with
longing eyes. But it can rain in Sorrento. Occasionally the northeast
wind comes down with whirling, howling fury, as if it would scoop
villages and orchards out of the little nook; and the rain, riding on
the whirlwind, pours in drenching floods. At such times I hear the beat
of the waves at the foot of the rock, and feel like a prisoner on an
island. Eden would not be Eden in a rainstorm.

The drought occurred just after the expulsion of the Bourbons from
Naples, and many think on account of it. There is this to be said in
favor of the Bourbons: that a dry time never had occurred while they
reigned,--a statement in which all good Catholics in Sorrento will
concur. As the drought went on, almost all the wells in the place dried
up, except that of the Tramontano and the one in the suppressed convent
of the Sacred Heart,--I think that is its name.

It is a rambling pile of old buildings, in the center of the town, with
a courtyard in the middle, and in it a deep well, boring down I know
not how far into the rock, and always full of cold sweet water. The
nuns have all gone now; and I look in vain up at the narrow slits in the
masonry, which served them for windows, for the glance of a worldly or
a pious eye. The poor people of Sorrento, when the public wells and
fountains had gone dry, used to come and draw at the Tramontano; but
they were not allowed to go to the well of the convent, the gates were
closed. Why the government shut them I cannot see: perhaps it knew
nothing of it, and some stupid official took the pompous responsibility.
The people grumbled, and cursed the government; and, in their
simplicity, probably never took any steps to revoke the prohibitory
law. No doubt, as the government had caused the drought, it was all of a
piece, the good rustics thought.

For the government did indirectly occasion the dry spell. I have the
information from the Italian lady of whom I have spoken. Among the first
steps of the new government of Italy was the suppression of the useless
convents and nunneries. This one at Sorrento early came under the ban.
It always seemed to me almost a pity to rout out this asylum of praying
and charitable women, whose occupation was the encouragement of beggary
and idleness in others, but whose prayers were constant, and whose
charities to the sick of the little city were many. If they never were
of much good to the community, it was a pleasure to have such a sweet
little hive in the center of it; and I doubt not that the simple people
felt a genuine satisfaction, as they walked around the high walls, in
believing that pure prayers within were put up for them night and day;
and especially when they waked at night, and heard the bell of the
convent, and knew that at that moment some faithful soul kept her
vigils, and chanted prayers for them and all the world besides; and they
slept the sounder for it thereafter. I confess that, if one is helped
by vicarious prayer, I would rather trust a convent of devoted women
(though many of them are ignorant, and some of them are worldly, and
none are fair to see) to pray for me, than some of the houses of coarse
monks which I have seen.

But the order came down from Naples to pack off all the nuns of the
Sacred Heart on a day named, to close up the gates of the nunnery,
and hang a flaming sword outside. The nuns were to be pulled up by the
roots, so to say, on the day specified, and without postponement, and to
be transferred to a house prepared for them at Massa, a few miles down
the promontory, and several hundred feet nearer heaven. Sorrento was
really in mourning: it went about in grief. It seemed as if something
sacrilegious were about to be done. It was the intention of the whole
town to show its sense of it in some way.

The day of removal came, and it rained! It poured: the water came
down in sheets, in torrents, in deluges; it came down with the wildest
tempest of many a year. I think, from accurate reports of those who
witnessed it, that the beginning of the great Deluge was only a moisture
compared to this. To turn the poor women out of doors such a day as this
was unchristian, barbarous, impossible. Everybody who had a shelter was
shivering indoors. But the officials were inexorable. In the order for
removal, nothing was said about postponement on account of weather; and
go the nuns must.

And go they did; the whole town shuddering at the impiety of it, but
kept from any demonstration by the tempest. Carriages went round to the
convent; and the women were loaded into them, packed into them, carried
and put in, if they were too infirm to go themselves. They were driven
away, cross and wet and bedraggled. They found their dwelling on the
hill not half prepared for them, leaking and cold and cheerless. They
experienced very rough treatment, if I can credit my informant, who says
she hates the government, and would not even look out of her lattice
that day to see the carriages drive past.

And when the Lady Superior was driven away from the gate, she said to
the officials, and the few faithful attendants, prophesying in the midst
of the rain that poured about her, “The day will come shortly, when you
will want rain, and shall not have it; and you will pray for my return.”

And it did not rain, from that day for three years.

And the simple people thought of the good Superior, whose departure had
been in such a deluge, and who had taken away with her all the moisture
of the land; and they did pray for her return, and believed that
the gates of heaven would be again opened if only the nunnery were
repeopled. But the government could not see the connection between
convents and the theory of storms, and the remnant of pious women was
permitted to remain in their lodgings at Massa. Perhaps the government
thought they could, if they bore no malice, pray as effectually for rain
there as anywhere.

I do not know, said my informant, that the curse of the Lady Superior
had anything to do with the drought, but many think it had; and those
are the facts.


The common people of this region are nothing but children; and
ragged, dirty, and poor as they are, apparently as happy, to speak
idiomatically, as the day is long. It takes very little to please them;
and their easily-excited mirth is contagious. It is very rare that
one gets a surly return to a salutation; and, if one shows the least
good-nature, his greeting is met with the most jolly return. The boatman
hauling in his net sings; the brown girl, whom we meet descending a
steep path in the hills, with an enormous bag or basket of oranges
on her head, or a building-stone under which she stands as erect as a
pillar, sings; and, if she asks for something, there is a merry twinkle
in her eye, that says she hardly expects money, but only puts in a
“beg” at a venture because it is the fashion; the workmen clipping the
olive-trees sing; the urchins, who dance about the foreigner in the
street, vocalize their petitions for un po’ di moneta in a tuneful
manner, and beg more in a spirit of deviltry than with any expectation
of gain. When I see how hard the peasants labor, what scraps and
vegetable odds and ends they eat, and in what wretched, dark, and
smoke-dried apartments they live, I wonder they are happy; but I
suppose it is the all-nourishing sun and the equable climate that do
the business for them. They have few artificial wants, and no uneasy
expectation--bred by the reading of books and newspapers--that anything
is going to happen in the world, or that any change is possible. Their
fruit-trees yield abundantly year after year; their little patches of
rich earth, on the built-up terraces and in the crevices of the rocks,
produce fourfold. The sun does it all.

Every walk that we take here with open mind and cheerful heart is sure
to be an adventure. Only yesterday, we were coming down a branch of the
great gorge which splits the plain in two. On one side the path is a
high wall, with garden trees overhanging. On the other, a stone parapet;
and below, in the bed of the ravine, an orange orchard. Beyond rises a
precipice; and, at its foot, men and boys were quarrying stone, which
workmen raised a couple of hundred feet to the platform above with a
windlass. As we came along, a handsome girl on the height had just taken
on her head a large block of stone, which I should not care to lift, to
carry to a pile in the rear; and she stopped to look at us. We stopped,
and looked at her. This attracted the attention of the men and boys in
the quarry below, who stopped work, and set up a cry for a little money.
We laughed, and responded in English. The windlass ceased to turn.
The workmen on the height joined in the conversation. A grizzly beggar
hobbled up, and held out his greasy cap. We nonplussed him by extending
our hats, and beseeching him for just a little something. Some passers
on the road paused, and looked on, amused at the transaction. A boy
appeared on the high wall, and began to beg. I threatened to shoot him
with my walkingstick, whereat he ran nimbly along the wall in terror The
workmen shouted; and this started up a couple of yellow dogs, which came
to the edge of the wall and barked violently. The girl, alone calm in
the confusion, stood stock still under her enormous load looking at us.
We swung out hats, and hurrahed. The crowd replied from above, below,
and around us, shouting, laughing, singing, until the whole little
valley was vocal with a gale of merriment, and all about nothing.
The beggar whined; the spectators around us laughed; and the whole
population was aroused into a jolly mood. Fancy such a merry hullaballoo
in America. For ten minutes, while the funny row was going on, the girl
never moved, having forgotten to go a few steps and deposit her load;
and when we disappeared round a bend of the path, she was still watching
us, smiling and statuesque.

As we descend, we come upon a group of little children seated about a
doorstep, black-eyed, chubby little urchins, who are cutting oranges
into little bits, and playing “party,” as children do on the other side
of the Atlantic. The instant we stop to speak to them, the skinny hand
of an old woman is stretched out of a window just above our heads, the
wrinkled palm itching for money. The mother comes forward out of the
house, evidently pleased with our notice of the children, and shows
us the baby in her arms. At once we are on good terms with the whole
family. The woman sees that there is nothing impertinent in our cursory
inquiry into her domestic concerns, but, I fancy, knows that we are
genial travelers, with human sympathies. So the people universally are
not quick to suspect any imposition, and meet frankness with frankness,
and good-nature with good-nature, in a simple-hearted, primeval manner.
If they stare at us from doorway and balcony, or come and stand near
us when we sit reading or writing by the shore, it is only a childlike
curiosity, and they are quite unconscious of any breach of good manners.
In fact, I think travelers have not much to say in the matter of
staring. I only pray that we Americans abroad may remember that we are
in the presence of older races, and conduct ourselves with becoming
modesty, remembering always that we were not born in Britain.

Very likely I am in error; but it has seemed to me that even the
funerals here are not so gloomy as in other places. I have looked in at
the churches when they are in progress, now and then, and been struck
with the general good feeling of the occasion. The real mourners I could
not always distinguish; but the seats would be filled with a motley
gathering of the idle and the ragged, who seemed to enjoy the show and
the ceremony. On one occasion, it was the obsequies of an officer in
the army. Guarding the gilded casket, which stood upon a raised platform
before the altar, were four soldiers in uniform. Mass was being said
and sung; and a priest was playing the organ. The church was light and
cheerful, and pervaded by a pleasant bustle. Ragged boys and beggars,
and dirty children and dogs, went and came wherever they chose--about
the unoccupied spaces of the church. The hired mourners, who are
numerous in proportion to the rank of the deceased, were clad in white
cotton,--a sort of nightgown put on over the ordinary clothes, with a
hood of the same drawn tightly over the face, in which slits were cut
for the eyes and mouth. Some of them were seated on benches near the
front; others were wandering about among the pillars, disappearing
in the sacristy, and reappearing with an aimless aspect, altogether
conducting themselves as if it were a holiday, and if there was anything
they did enjoy, it was mourning at other people’s expense. They laughed
and talked with each other in excellent spirits; and one varlet near the
coffin, who had slipped off his mask, winked at me repeatedly, as if to
inform me that it was not his funeral. A masquerade might have been more
gloomy and depressing.


The most serviceable saint whom I know is St. Antonino. He is the patron
saint of the good town of Sorrento; he is the good genius of all sailors
and fishermen; and he has a humbler office,--that of protector of the
pigs. On his day the pigs are brought into the public square to be
blessed; and this is one reason why the pork of Sorrento is reputed so
sweet and wholesome. The saint is the friend, and, so to say, companion
of the common people. They seem to be all fond of him, and there is
little of fear in their confiding relation. His humble origin and
plebeian appearance have something to do with his popularity, no doubt.
There is nothing awe-inspiring in the brown stone figure, battered and
cracked, that stands at one corner of the bridge, over the chasm at the
entrance of the city. He holds a crosier in one hand, and raises the
other, with fingers uplifted, in act of benediction. If his face is
an indication of his character, he had in him a mixture of robust
good-nature with a touch of vulgarity, and could rough it in a jolly
manner with fishermen and peasants. He may have appeared to better
advantage when he stood on top of the massive old city gate, which the
present government, with the impulse of a vandal, took down a few years
ago. The demolition had to be accomplished in the night, under a guard
of soldiers, so indignant were the populace. At that time the homely
saint was deposed; and he wears now, I think, a snubbed and cast-aside
aspect. Perhaps he is dearer to the people than ever; and I confess that
I like him much better than many grander saints, in stone, I have
seen in more conspicuous places. If ever I am in rough water and foul
weather, I hope he will not take amiss anything I have here written
about him.

Sunday, and it happened to be St. Valentine’s also, was the great
fete-day of St. Antonino. Early in the morning there was a great
clanging of bells; and the ceremony of the blessing of the pigs took
place,--I heard, but I was not abroad early enough to see it,--a
laziness for which I fancy I need not apologize, as the Catholic is
known to be an earlier religion than the Protestant. When I did go out,
the streets were thronged with people, the countryfolk having come in
for miles around. The church of the patron saint was the great center
of attraction. The blank walls of the little square in front, and of the
narrow streets near, were hung with cheap and highly-colored lithographs
of sacred subjects, for sale; tables and booths were set up in every
available space for the traffic in pre-Raphaelite gingerbread, molasses
candy, strings of dried nuts, pinecone and pumpkin seeds, scarfs, boots
and shoes, and all sorts of trumpery. One dealer had preempted a large
space on the pavement, where he had spread out an assortment of bits
of old iron, nails, pieces of steel traps, and various fragments which
might be useful to the peasants. The press was so great, that it was
difficult to get through it; but the crowd was a picturesque one, and in
the highest good humor. The occasion was a sort of Fourth of July, but
without its worry and powder and flowing bars.

The spectacle of the day was the procession bearing the silver image
of the saint through the streets. I think there could never be anything
finer or more impressive; at least, I like these little fussy provincial
displays,--these tag-rags and ends of grandeur, in which all the
populace devoutly believe, and at which they are lost in wonder,--better
than those imposing ceremonies at the capital, in which nobody believes.
There was first a band of musicians, walking in more or less disorder,
but blowing away with great zeal, so that they could be heard amid the
clangor of bells the peals of which reverberate so deafeningly between
the high houses of these narrow streets. Then follow boys in white,
and citizens in black and white robes, carrying huge silken banners,
triangular like sea-pennants, and splendid silver crucifixes which flash
in the sun. Then come ecclesiastics, walking with stately step, and
chanting in loud and pleasant unison. These are followed by nobles,
among whom I recognize, with a certain satisfaction, two descendants of
Tasso, whose glowing and bigoted soul may rejoice in the devotion of his
posterity, who help to bear today the gilded platform upon which is the
solid silver image of the saint. The good old bishop walks humbly in
the rear, in full canonical rig, with crosier and miter, his rich robes
upborne by priestly attendants, his splendid footman at a respectful
distance, and his roomy carriage not far behind.

The procession is well spread out and long; all its members carry
lighted tapers, a good many of which are not lighted, having gone out in
the wind. As I squeeze into a shallow doorway to let the cortege pass, I
am sorry to say that several of the young fellows in white gowns tip
me the wink, and even smile in a knowing fashion, as if it were a mere
lark, after all, and that the saint must know it. But not so thinks the
paternal bishop, who waves a blessing, which I catch in the flash of
the enormous emerald on his right hand. The procession ends, where it
started, in the patron’s church; and there his image is set up under a
gorgeous canopy of crimson and gold, to hear high mass, and some of the
choicest solos, choruses, and bravuras from the operas.

In the public square I find a gaping and wondering crowd of rustics
collected about one of the mountebanks whose trade is not peculiar to
any country. This one might be a clock-peddler from Connecticut. He
is mounted in a one-seat vettura, and his horse is quietly eating his
dinner out of a bag tied to his nose. There is nothing unusual in the
fellow’s dress; he wears a shiny silk hat, and has one of those grave
faces which would be merry if their owner were not conscious of serious
business on hand. On the driver’s perch before him are arranged his
attractions,--a box of notions, a grinning skull, with full teeth and
jaws that work on hinges, some vials of red liquid, and a closed jar
containing a most disagreeable anatomical preparation. This latter he
holds up and displays, turning it about occasionally in an admiring
manner. He is discoursing, all the time, in the most voluble Italian. He
has an ointment, wonderfully efficacious for rheumatism and every sort
of bruise: he pulls up his sleeve, and anoints his arm with it,
binding it up with a strip of paper; for the simplest operation must be
explained to these grown children. He also pulls teeth, with an ease and
expedition hitherto unknown, and is in no want of patients among this
open-mouthed crowd. One sufferer after another climbs up into the
wagon, and goes through the operation in the public gaze. A stolid,
good-natured hind mounts the seat. The dentist examines his mouth, and
finds the offending tooth. He then turns to the crowd and explains the
case. He takes a little instrument that is neither forceps nor turnkey,
stands upon the seat, seizes the man’s nose, and jerks his head round
between his knees, pulling his mouth open (there is nothing that opens
the mouth quicker than a sharp upward jerk of the nose) with a rude
jollity that sets the spectators in a roar. Down he goes into the
cavern, and digs away for a quarter of a minute, the man the while
as immovable as a stone image, when he holds up the bloody tooth. The
patient still persists in sitting with his mouth stretched open to its
widest limit, waiting for the operation to begin, and will only close
the orifice when he is well shaken and shown the tooth. The dentist
gives him some yellow liquid to hold in his mouth, which the man insists
on swallowing, wets a handkerchief and washes his face, roughly rubbing
his nose the wrong way, and lets him go. Every step of the process is
eagerly watched by the delighted spectators.

He is succeeded by a woman, who is put through the same heroic
treatment, and exhibits like fortitude. And so they come; and the
dentist after every operation waves the extracted trophy high in air,
and jubilates as if he had won another victory, pointing to the stone
statue yonder, and reminding them that this is the glorious day of St.
Antonino. But this is not all that this man of science does. He has the
genuine elixir d’amour, love-philters and powders which never fail in
their effects. I see the bashful girls and the sheepish swains come
slyly up to the side of the wagon, and exchange their hard-earned francs
for the hopeful preparation. O my brown beauty, with those soft eyes and
cheeks of smothered fire, you have no need of that red philter! What a
simple, childlike folk! The shrewd fellow in the wagon is one of a race
as old as Thebes and as new as Porkopolis; his brazen face is older
than the invention of bronze, but I think he never had to do with a more
credulous crowd than this. The very cunning in the face of the peasants
is that of the fox; it is a sort of instinct, and not an intelligent

This is Sunday in Sorrento, under the blue sky. These peasants, who
are fooled by the mountebank and attracted by the piles of adamantine
gingerbread, do not forget to crowd the church of the saint at vespers,
and kneel there in humble faith, while the choir sings the Agnus Dei,
and the priests drone the service. Are they so different, then, from
other people? They have an idea on Capri that England is such another
island, only not so pleasant; that all Englishmen are rich and
constantly travel to escape the dreariness at home; and that, if they
are not absolutely mad, they are all a little queer. It was a fancy
prevalent in Hamlet’s day. We had the English service in the Villa Nardi
in the evening. There are some Englishmen staying here, of the class one
finds in all the sunny spots of Europe, ennuye and growling, in search
of some elixir that shall bring back youth and enjoyment. They seem
divided in mind between the attractions of the equable climate of this
region and the fear of the gout which lurks in the unfermented wine.
One cannot be too grateful to the sturdy islanders for carrying their
prayers, like their drumbeat, all round the globe; and I was much
edified that night, as the reading went on, by a row of rather battered
men of the world, who stood in line on one side of the room, and
took their prayers with a certain British fortitude, as if they were
conscious of performing a constitutional duty, and helping by the act to
uphold the majesty of English institutions.


There is always a mild excitement about mounting donkeys in the morning
here for an excursion among the hills. The warm sun pouring into the
garden, the smell of oranges, the stimulating air, the general openness
and freshness, promise a day of enjoyment. There is always a doubt as
to who will go; generally a donkey wanting; somebody wishes to join the
party at the last moment; there is no end of running up and downstairs,
calling from balconies and terraces; some never ready, and some waiting
below in the sun; the whole house in a tumult, drivers in a worry, and
the sleepy animals now and then joining in the clatter with a vocal
performance that is neither a trumpet-call nor a steam-whistle, but an
indescribable noise, that begins in agony and abruptly breaks down
in despair. It is difficult to get the train in motion. The lady who
ordered Succarina has got a strange donkey, and Macaroni has on the
wrong saddle. Succarina is a favorite, the kindest, easiest, and
surest-footed of beasts,--a diminutive animal, not bigger than a
Friesland sheep; old, in fact grizzly with years, and not unlike the
aged, wizened little women who are so common here: for beauty in this
region dries up; and these handsome Sorrento girls, if they live, and
almost everybody does live, have the prospect, in their old age, of
becoming mummies, with parchment skins. I have heard of climates that
preserve female beauty; this embalms it, only the beauty escapes in the
process. As I was saying, Succarina is little, old, and grizzly; but her
head is large, and one might be contented to be as wise as she looks.

The party is at length mounted, and clatters away through the narrow
streets. Donkey-riding is very good for people who think they cannot
walk. It looks very much like riding, to a spectator; and it deceives
the person undertaking it into an amount of exercise equal to walking.
I have a great admiration for the donkey character. There never was
such patience under wrong treatment, such return of devotion for injury.
Their obstinacy, which is so much talked about, is only an exercise of
the right of private judgment, and an intelligent exercise of it, no
doubt, if we could take the donkey point of view, as so many of us are
accused of doing in other things. I am certain of one thing: in any
large excursion party there will be more obstinate people than obstinate
donkeys; and yet the poor brutes get all the thwacks and thumps. We are
bound to-day for the Punta della Campanella, the extreme point of the
promontory, and ten miles away. The path lies up the steps from the new
Massa carriage-road, now on the backbone of the ridge, and now in
the recesses of the broken country. What an animated picture is the
donkeycade, as it mounts the steeps, winding along the zigzags! Hear
the little bridlebells jingling, the drivers groaning their “a-e-ugh,
a-e-ugh,” the riders making a merry din of laughter, and firing off a
fusillade of ejaculations of delight and wonder.

The road is between high walls; round the sweep of curved terraces which
rise above and below us, bearing the glistening olive; through glens and
gullies; over and under arches, vine-grown,--how little we make use of
the arch at home!--round sunny dells where orange orchards gleam; past
shrines, little chapels perched on rocks, rude villas commanding most
extensive sweeps of sea and shore. The almond trees are in full bloom,
every twig a thickly-set spike of the pink and white blossoms; daisies
and dandelions are out; the purple crocuses sprinkle the ground, the
petals exquisitely varied on the reverse side, and the stamens of bright
salmon color; the large double anemones have come forth, certain that it
is spring; on the higher crags by the wayside the Mediterranean heather
has shaken out its delicate flowers, which fill the air with a mild
fragrance; while blue violets, sweet of scent like the English, make our
path a perfumed one. And this is winter.

We have made a late start, owing to the fact that everybody is captain
of the expedition, and to the Sorrento infirmity that no one is able to
make up his mind about anything. It is one o’clock when we reach a high
transverse ridge, and find the headlands of the peninsula rising before
us, grim hills of limestone, one of them with the ruins of a convent on
top, and no road apparent thither, and Capri ahead of us in the sea, the
only bit of land that catches any light; for as we have journeyed the
sky has thickened, the clouds of the sirocco have come up from the
south; there has been first a mist, and then a fine rain; the ruins
on the peak of Santa Costanza are now hid in mist. We halt for
consultation. Shall we go on and brave a wetting, or ignominiously
retreat? There are many opinions, but few decided ones. The drivers
declare that it will be a bad time. One gentleman, with an air of
decision, suggests that it is best to go on, or go back, if we do not
stand here and wait. The deaf lady, from near Dublin, being appealed to,
says that, perhaps, if it is more prudent, we had better go back if
it is going to rain. It does rain. Waterproofs are put on, umbrellas
spread, backs turned to the wind; and we look like a group of explorers
under adverse circumstances, “silent on a peak in Darien,” the donkeys
especially downcast and dejected. Finally, as is usual in life, a
compromise prevails. We decide to continue for half an hour longer and
see what the weather is. No sooner have we set forward over the brow of
a hill than it grows lighter on the sea horizon in the southwest, the
ruins on the peak become visible, Capri is in full sunlight. The clouds
lift more and more, and still hanging overhead, but with no more rain,
are like curtains gradually drawn up, opening to us a glorious vista of
sunshine and promise, an illumined, sparkling, illimitable sea, and a
bright foreground of slopes and picturesque rocks. Before the half hour
is up, there is not one of the party who does not claim to have been the
person who insisted upon going forward.

We halt for a moment to look at Capri, that enormous, irregular rock,
raising its huge back out of the sea, its back broken in the middle,
with the little village for a saddle. On the farther summit, above
Anacapri, a precipice of two thousand feet sheer down to the water on
the other side, hangs a light cloud. The east elevation, whence
the playful Tiberius used to amuse his green old age by casting his
prisoners eight hundred feet down into the sea, has the strong sunlight
on it; and below, the row of tooth-like rocks, which are the extreme
eastern point, shine in a warm glow. We descend through a village,
twisting about in its crooked streets. The inhabitants, who do not see
strangers every day, make free to stare at and comment on us, and even
laugh at something that seems very comical in our appearance; which
shows how ridiculous are the costumes of Paris and New York in some
places. Stalwart girls, with only an apology for clothes, with bare
legs, brown faces, and beautiful eyes, stop in their spinning, holding
the distaff suspended, while they examine us at leisure. At our left,
as we turn from the church and its sunny piazza, where old women sit
and gabble, down the ravine, is a snug village under the mountain by
the shore, with a great square medieval tower. On the right, upon rocky
points, are remains of round towers, and temples perhaps.

We sweep away to the left round the base of the hill, over a difficult
and stony path. Soon the last dilapidated villa is passed, the last
terrace and olive-tree are left behind; and we emerge upon a wild, rocky
slope, barren of vegetation, except little tufts of grass and a sort of
lentil; a wide sweep of limestone strata set on edge, and crumbling in
the beat of centuries, rising to a considerable height on the left.
Our path descends toward the sea, still creeping round the end of the
promontory. Scattered here and there over the rocks, like conies,
are peasants, tending a few lean cattle, and digging grasses from the
crevices. The women and children are wild in attire and manner, and set
up a clamor of begging as we pass. A group of old hags begin beating
a poor child as we approach, to excite our compassion for the abused
little object, and draw out centimes.

Walking ahead of the procession, which gets slowly down the rugged path,
I lose sight of my companions, and have the solitude, the sun on the
rocks, the glistening sea, all to myself. Soon I espy a man below me
sauntering down among the rocks. He sees me and moves away, a solitary
figure. I say solitary; and so it is in effect, although he is leading
a little boy, and calling to his dog, which runs back to bark at me. Is
this the brigand of whom I have read, and is he luring me to his haunt?
Probably. I follow. He throws his cloak about his shoulders, exactly as
brigands do in the opera, and loiters on. At last there is the point
in sight, a gray wall with blind arches. The man disappears through
a narrow archway, and I follow. Within is an enormous square tower. I
think it was built in Spanish days, as an outlook for Barbary pirates.
A bell hung in it, which was set clanging when the white sails of the
robbers appeared to the southward; and the alarm was repeated up the
coast, the towers were manned, and the brown-cheeked girls flew away
to the hills, I doubt not, for the touch of the sirocco was not half so
much to be dreaded as the rough importunity of a Saracen lover. The bell
is gone now, and no Moslem rovers are in sight. The maidens we had just
passed would be safe if there were. My brigand disappears round the
tower; and I follow down steps, by a white wall, and lo! a house,--a red
stucco, Egyptian-looking building,--on the very edge of the rocks.
The man unlocks a door and goes in. I consider this an invitation,
and enter. On one side of the passage a sleeping-room, on the other
a kitchen,--not sumptuous quarters; and we come then upon a pretty
circular terrace; and there, in its glass case, is the lantern of the
point. My brigand is a lighthouse-keeper, and welcomes me in a quiet
way, glad, evidently, to see the face of a civilized being. It is very
solitary, he says. I should think so. It is the end of everything. The
Mediterranean waves beat with a dull thud on the worn crags below. The
rocks rise up to the sky behind. There is nothing there but the sun, an
occasional sail, and quiet, petrified Capri, three miles distant across
the strait. It is an excellent place for a misanthrope to spend a week,
and get cured. There must be a very dispiriting influence prevailing
here; the keeper refused to take any money, the solitary Italian we have
seen so affected.

We returned late. The young moon, lying in the lap of the old one, was
superintending the brilliant sunset over Capri, as we passed the last
point commanding it; and the light, fading away, left us stumbling over
the rough path among the hills, darkened by the high walls. We were not
sorry to emerge upon the crest above the Massa road. For there lay the
sea, and the plain of Sorrento, with its darkening groves and hundreds
of twinkling lights. As we went down the last descent, the bells of the
town were all ringing, for it was the eve of the fete of St. Antonino.


“CAP, signor? Good day for Grott.” Thus spoke a mariner, touching his
Phrygian cap. The people here abbreviate all names. With them Massa
is Mas, Meta is Met, Capri becomes Cap, the Grotta Azzurra is reduced
familiarly to Grott, and they even curtail musical Sorrento into Serent.

Shall we go to Capri? Should we dare return to the great Republic, and
own that we had not been into the Blue Grotto? We like to climb the
steeps here, especially towards Massa, and look at Capri. I have read in
some book that it used to be always visible from Sorrento. But now the
promontory has risen, the Capo di Sorrento has thrust out its rocky spur
with its ancient Roman masonry, and the island itself has moved so far
round to the south that Sorrento, which fronts north, has lost sight of

We never tire of watching it, thinking that it could not be spared from
the landscape. It lies only three miles from the curving end of the
promontory, and is about twenty miles due south of Naples. In this
atmosphere distances dwindle. The nearest land, to the northwest, is the
larger island of Ischia, distant nearly as far as Naples; yet Capri has
the effect of being anchored off the bay to guard the entrance. It is
really a rock, three miles and a half long, rising straight out of the
water, eight hundred feet high at one end, and eighteen hundred feet at
the other, with a depression between. If it had been chiseled by hand
and set there, it could not be more sharply defined. So precipitous are
its sides of rock, that there are only two fit boat-landings, the
marina on the north side, and a smaller place opposite. One of those
light-haired and freckled Englishmen, whose pluck exceeds their
discretion, rowed round the island alone in rough water, last summer,
against the advice of the boatman, and unable to make a landing, and
weary with the strife of the waves, was in considerable peril.

Sharp and clear as Capri is in outline, its contour is still most
graceful and poetic. This wonderful atmosphere softens even its
ruggedness, and drapes it with hues of enchanting beauty. Sometimes the
haze plays fantastic tricks with it,--a cloud-cap hangs on Monte Solaro,
or a mist obscures the base, and the massive summits of rock seem to
float in the air, baseless fabrics of a vision that the rising wind will
carry away perhaps. I know now what Homer means by “wandering islands.”
 Shall we take a boat and sail over there, and so destroy forever another
island of the imagination? The bane of travel is the destruction of

We like to talk about Capri, and to talk of going there. The Sorrento
people have no end of gossip about the wild island; and, simple and
primitive as they are, Capri is still more out of the world. I do not
know what enchantment there is on the island; but--whoever sets foot
there, they say, goes insane or dies a drunkard. I fancy the reason of
this is found in the fact that the Capri girls are raving beauties. I
am not sure but the monotony of being anchored off there in the bay,
the monotony of rocks and precipices that goats alone can climb, the
monotony of a temperature that scarcely ever, winter and summer, is
below 55 or above 75 Fahrenheit indoors, might drive one into lunacy.
But I incline to think it is due to the handsome Capri girls.

There are beautiful girls in Sorrento, with a beauty more than skin
deep, a glowing, hidden fire, a ripeness like that of the grape and the
peach which grows in the soft air and the sun. And they wither, like
grapes that hang upon the stem. I have never seen a handsome, scarcely
a decent-looking, old woman here. They are lank and dry, and their
bones are covered with parchment. One of these brown-cheeked girls, with
large, longing eyes, gives the stranger a start, now and then, when he
meets her in a narrow way with a basket of oranges on her head. I hope
he has the grace to go right by. Let him meditate what this vision of
beauty will be like in twenty ears.

The Capri girls are famed as magnificent beauties, but they fade like
their mainland sisters. The Saracens used to descend on their island,
and carry them off to their harems. The English, a very adventurous
people, who have no harems, have followed the Saracens. The young lords
and gentlemen have a great fondness for Capri. I hear gossip
enough about elopements, and not seldom marriages, with the island
girls,--bright girls, with the Greek mother-wit, and surpassingly
handsome; but they do not bear transportation to civilized life (any
more than some of the native wines do): they accept no intellectual
culture; and they lose their beauty as they grow old. What then? The
young English blade, who was intoxicated by beauty into an injudicious
match and might, as the proverb says, have gone insane if he could not
have made it, takes to drink now, and so fulfills the other alternative.
Alas! the fatal gift of beauty.

But I do not think Capri is so dangerous as it is represented. For
(of course we went to Capri) neither at the marina, where a crowd of
bare-legged, vociferous maidens with donkeys assailed us, nor in the
village above, did I see many girls for whom and one little isle a
person would forswear the world. But I can believe that they grow here.
One of our donkey girls was a handsome, dark-skinned, black-eyed
girl; but her little sister, a mite of a being of six years, who could
scarcely step over the small stones in the road, and was forced to lead
the donkey by her sister in order to establish another lien on us for
buona mano, was a dirty little angel in rags, and her great soft black
eyes will look somebody into the asylum or the drunkard’s grave in time,
I have no doubt. There was a stout, manly, handsome little fellow of
five years, who established himself as the guide and friend of the
tallest of our party. His hat was nearly gone; he was sadly out of
repair in the rear; his short legs made the act of walking absurd; but
he trudged up the hill with a certain dignity. And there was nothing
mercenary about his attachment: he and his friend got upon very cordial
terms: they exchanged gifts of shells and copper coin, but nothing was
said about pay.

Nearly all the inhabitants, young and old, joined us in lively
procession, up the winding road of three quarters of a mile, to the
town. At the deep gate, entering between thick walls, we stopped to look
at the sea. The crowd and clamor at our landing had been so great that
we enjoyed the sight of the quiet old woman sitting here in the sun, and
the few beggars almost too lazy to stretch out their hands. Within
the gate is a large paved square, with the government offices and the
tobacco-shop on one side, and the church opposite; between them, up a
flight of broad stone steps, is the Hotel Tiberio. Our donkeys walk up
them and into the hotel. The church and hotel are six hundred years old;
the hotel was a villa belonging to Joanna II. of Naples. We climb to the
roof of the quaint old building, and sit there to drink in the strange
oriental scene. The landlord says it is like Jaffa or Jerusalem. The
landlady, an Irish woman from Devonshire, says it is six francs a day.
In what friendly intercourse the neighbors can sit on these flat roofs!
How sightly this is, and yet how sheltered! To the east is the height
where Augustus, and after him Tiberius, built palaces. To the west, up
that vertical wall, by means of five hundred steps cut in the face
of the rock, we go to reach the tableland of Anacapri, the primitive
village of that name, hidden from view here; the medieval castle of
Barbarossa, which hangs over a frightful precipice; and the height of
Monte Solaro. The island is everywhere strewn with Roman ruins, and with
faint traces of the Greeks.

Capri turns out not to be a barren rock. Broken and picturesque as it
is, it is yet covered with vegetation. There is not a foot, one might
say a point, of soil that does not bear something; and there is not a
niche in the rock, where a scrap of dirt will stay, that is not made
useful. The whole island is terraced. The most wonderful thing about
it, after all, is its masonry. You come to think, after a time, that the
island is not natural rock, but a mass of masonry. If the labor that has
been expended here, only to erect platforms for the soil to rest on,
had been given to our country, it would have built half a dozen Pacific
railways, and cut a canal through the Isthmus.

But the Blue Grotto? Oh, yes! Is it so blue? That depends upon the time
of day, the sun, the clouds, and something upon the person who enters
it. It is frightfully blue to some. We bend down in our rowboat, slide
into the narrow opening which is three feet high, and passing into the
spacious cavern, remain there for half an hour. It is, to be sure,
forty feet high, and a hundred by a hundred and fifty in extent, with
an arched roof, and clear water for a floor. The water appears to be as
deep as the roof is high, and is of a light, beautiful blue, in contrast
with the deep blue of the bay. At the entrance the water is illuminated,
and there is a pleasant, mild light within: one has there a novel
subterranean sensation; but it did not remind me of anything I have
seen in the “Arabian Nights.” I have seen pictures of it that were much

As we rowed close to the precipice in returning, I saw many similar
openings, not so deep, and perhaps only sham openings; and the
water-line was fretted to honeycomb by the eating waves. Beneath the
water-line, and revealed here and there when the waves receded, was a
line of bright red coral.


At vespers on the fete of St. Antonino, and in his church, I saw the
Signorina Fiammetta. I stood leaning against a marble pillar near the
altar-steps, during the service, when I saw the young girl kneeling on
the pavement in act of prayer. Her black lace veil had fallen a little
back from her head; and there was something in her modest attitude
and graceful figure that made her conspicuous among all her kneeling
companions, with their gay kerchiefs and bright gowns. When she rose and
sat down, with folded hands and eyes downcast, there was something so
pensive in her subdued mien that I could not take my eyes from her. To
say that she had the rich olive complexion, with the gold struggling
through, large, lustrous black eyes, and harmonious features, is only
to make a weak photograph, when I should paint a picture in colors and
infuse it with the sweet loveliness of a maiden on the way to sainthood.
I was sure that I had seen her before, looking down from the balcony of
a villa just beyond the Roman wall, for the face was not one that even
the most unimpressible idler would forget. I was sure that, young as she
was, she had already a history; had lived her life, and now walked amid
these groves and old streets in a dream. The story which I heard is not

In the drawing-room of the Villa Nardi was shown, and offered for sale,
an enormous counterpane, crocheted in white cotton. Loop by loop, it
must have been an immense labor to knit it; for it was fashioned in
pretty devices, and when spread out was rich and showy enough for the
royal bed of a princess. It had been crocheted by Fiammetta for her
marriage, the only portion the poor child could bring to that sacrament.
Alas! the wedding was never to be; and the rich work, into which her
delicate fingers had knit so many maiden dreams and hopes and fears, was
offered for sale in the resort of strangers. It could not have been want
only that induced her to put this piece of work in the market, but the
feeling, also, that the time never again could return when she would
have need of it. I had no desire to purchase such a melancholy coverlet,
but I could well enough fancy why she would wish to part with what must
be rather a pall than a decoration in her little chamber.

Fiammetta lived with her mother in a little villa, the roof of which is
in sight from my sunny terrace in the Villa Nardi, just to the left
of the square old convent tower, rising there out of the silver
olive-boughs,--a tumble-down sort of villa, with a flat roof and odd
angles and parapets, in the midst of a thrifty but small grove of lemons
and oranges. They were poor enough, or would be in any country where
physical wants are greater than here, and yet did not belong to that
lowest class, the young girls of which are little more than beasts of
burden, accustomed to act as porters, bearing about on their heads great
loads of stone, wood, water, and baskets of oranges in the shipping
season. She could not have been forced to such labor, or she never would
have had the time to work that wonderful coverlet.

Giuseppe was an honest and rather handsome young fellow of Sorrento,
industrious and good-natured, who did not bother his head much about
learning. He was, however, a skillful workman in the celebrated inlaid
and mosaic woodwork of the place, and, it is said, had even invented
some new figures for the inlaid pictures in colored woods. He had a
little fancy for the sea as well, and liked to pull an oar over to Capri
on occasion, by which he could earn a few francs easier than he could
saw them out of the orangewood. For the stupid fellow, who could not
read a word in his prayer-book, had an idea of thrift in his head, and
already, I suspect, was laying up liras with an object. There are one
or two dandies in Sorrento who attempt to dress as they do in Naples.
Giuseppe was not one of these; but there was not a gayer or handsomer
gallant than he on Sunday, or one more looked at by the Sorrento girls,
when he had on his clean suit and his fresh red Phrygian cap. At least
the good Fiammetta thought so, when she met him at church, though I feel
sure she did not allow even his handsome figure to come between her and
the Virgin. At any rate, there can be no doubt of her sentiments after
church, when she and her mother used to walk with him along the winding
Massa road above the sea, and stroll down to the shore to sit on the
greensward over the Temple of Hercules, or the Roman Baths, or the
remains of the villa of C. Fulvius Cunctatus Cocles, or whatever those
ruins subterranean are, there on the Capo di Sorrento. Of course, this
is mere conjecture of mine. They may have gone on the hills behind the
town instead, or they may have stood leaning over the garden-wall of
her mother’s little villa, looking at the passers-by in the deep lane,
thinking about nothing in the world, and talking about it all the sunny
afternoon, until Ischia was purple with the last light, and the olive
terraces behind them began to lose their gray bloom. All I do know is,
that they were in love, blossoming out in it as the almond-trees do here
in February; and that all the town knew it, and saw a wedding in the
future, just as plain as you can see Capri from the heights above the

It was at this time that the wonderful counterpane began to grow, to the
continual astonishment of Giuseppe, to whom it seemed a marvel of
skill and patience, and who saw what love and sweet hope Fiammetta was
knitting into it with her deft fingers. I declare, as I think of it, the
white cotton spread out on her knees, in such contrast to the rich olive
of her complexion and her black shiny hair, while she knits away so
merrily, glancing up occasionally with those liquid, laughing eyes to
Giuseppe, who is watching her as if she were an angel right out of the
blue sky, I am tempted not to tell this story further, but to leave
the happy two there at the open gate of life, and to believe that they
entered in.

This was about the time of the change of government, after this
region had come to be a part of the Kingdom of Italy. After the first
excitement was over, and the simple people found they were not all made
rich, nor raised to a condition in which they could live without work,
there began to be some dissatisfaction. Why the convents need have been
suppressed, and especially the poor nuns packed off, they couldn’t
see; and then the taxes were heavier than ever before; instead of being
supported by the government, they had to support it; and, worst of
all, the able young fellows must still go for soldiers. Just as one was
learning his trade, or perhaps had acquired it, and was ready to earn
his living and begin to make a home for his wife, he must pass the three
best years of his life in the army. The conscription was relentless.

The time came to Giuseppe, as it did to the others. I never heard but he
was brave enough; there was no storm on the Mediterranean that he
dare not face in his little boat; and he would not have objected to a
campaign with the red shirts of Garibaldi. But to be torn away from his
occupations by which he was daily laying aside a little for himself and
Fiammetta, and to leave her for three years,--that seemed dreadful to
him. Three years is a longtime; and though he had no doubt of the pretty
Fiammetta, yet women are women, said the shrewd fellow to himself, and
who knows what might happen, if a gallant came along who could read and
write, as Fiammetta could, and, besides, could play the guitar?

The result was, that Giuseppe did not appear at the mustering-office on
the day set; and, when the file of soldiers came for him, he was nowhere
to be found. He had fled to the mountains. I scarcely know what his
plan was, but he probably trusted to some good luck to escape the
conscription altogether, if he could shun it now; and, at least, I
know that he had many comrades who did the same, so that at times the
mountains were full of young fellows who were lurking in them to escape
the soldiers. And they fared very roughly usually, and sometimes nearly
perished from hunger; for though the sympathies of the peasants were
undoubtedly with the quasi-outlaws rather than with the carbineers, yet
the latter were at every hamlet in the hills, and liable to visit every
hut, so that any relief extended to the fugitives was attended with
great danger; and, besides, the hunted men did not dare to venture from
their retreats. Thus outlawed and driven to desperation by hunger, these
fugitives, whom nobody can defend for running away from their duties as
citizens, became brigands. A cynical German, who was taken by them some
years ago on the road to Castellamare, a few miles above here, and held
for ransom, declared that they were the most honest fellows he had
seen in Italy; but I never could see that he intended the remark as
any compliment to them. It is certain that the inhabitants of all these
towns held very loose ideas on the subject of brigandage: the poor
fellows, they used to say, only robbed because they were hungry, and
they must live somehow.

What Fiammetta thought, down in her heart, is not told: but I presume
she shared the feelings of those about her concerning the brigands, and,
when she heard that Giuseppe had joined them, was more anxious for the
safety of his body than of his soul; though I warrant she did not forget
either, in her prayers to the Virgin and St. Antonino. And yet those
must have been days, weeks, months, of terrible anxiety to the poor
child; and if she worked away at the counterpane, netting in that
elaborate border, as I have no doubt she did, it must have been with a
sad heart and doubtful fingers. I think that one of the psychological
sensitives could distinguish the parts of the bedspread that were
knit in the sunny days from those knit in the long hours of care and
deepening anxiety.

It was rarely that she received any message from him and it was then
only verbal and of the briefest; he was in the mountains above Amalfi;
one day he had come so far round as the top of the Great St. Angelo,
from which he could look down upon the piano of Sorrento, where the
little Fiammetta was; or he had been on the hills near Salerno, hunted
and hungry; or his company had descended upon some travelers going to
Paestum, made a successful haul, and escaped into the steep mountains
beyond. He didn’t intend to become a regular bandit, not at all. He
hoped that something might happen so that he could steal back into
Sorrento, unmarked by the government; or, at least, that he could escape
away to some other country or island, where Fiammetta could join him.
Did she love him yet, as in the old happy days? As for him, she was now
everything to him; and he would willingly serve three or thirty years
in the army, if the government could forget he had been a brigand,
and permit him to have a little home with Fiammetta at the end of the
probation. There was not much comfort in all this, but the simple fellow
could not send anything more cheerful; and I think it used to feed the
little maiden’s heart to hear from him, even in this downcast mood, for
his love for her was a dear certainty, and his absence and wild life did
not dim it.

My informant does not know how long this painful life went on, nor does
it matter much. There came a day when the government was shamed into
new vigor against the brigands. Some English people of consequence (the
German of whom I have spoken was with them) had been captured, and
it had cost them a heavy ransom. The number of the carbineers was
quadrupled in the infested districts, soldiers penetrated the fastnesses
of the hills, there were daily fights with the banditti; and, to show
that this was no sham, some of them were actually shot, and others were
taken and thrown into prison. Among those who were not afraid to stand
and fight, and who would not be captured, was our Giuseppe. One day the
Italia newspaper of Naples had an account of a fight with brigands; and
in the list of those who fell was the name of Giuseppe---, of Sorrento,
shot through the head, as he ought to have been, and buried without
funeral among the rocks.

This was all. But when the news was read in the little post office in
Sorrento, it seemed a great deal more than it does as I write it; for,
if Giuseppe had an enemy in the village, it was not among the people;
and not one who heard the news did not think at once of the poor girl
to whom it would be more than a bullet through the heart. And so it was.
The slender hope of her life then went out. I am told that there was
little change outwardly, and that she was as lovely as before; but a
great cloud of sadness came over her, in which she was always enveloped,
whether she sat at home, or walked abroad in the places where she and
Giuseppe used to wander. The simple people respected her grief, and
always made a tender-hearted stillness when the bereft little maiden
went through the streets,--a stillness which she never noticed, for she
never noticed anything apparently. The bishop himself when he walked
abroad could not be treated with more respect.

This was all the story of the sweet Fiammetta that was confided to
me. And afterwards, as I recalled her pensive face that evening as
she kneeled at vespers, I could not say whether, after all, she was
altogether to be pitied, in the holy isolation of her grief, which I am
sure sanctified her, and, in some sort, made her life complete. For I
take it that life, even in this sunny Sorrento, is not alone a matter of


The Great St. Angelo and that region are supposed to be the haunts of
brigands. From those heights they spy out the land, and from thence
have, more than once, descended upon the sea-road between Castellamare
and Sorrento, and caught up English and German travelers. This elevation
commands, also, the Paestum way. We have no faith in brigands in these
days; for in all our remote and lonely explorations of this promontory
we have never met any but the most simple-hearted and good-natured
people, who were quite as much afraid of us as we were of them. But
there are not wanting stories, every day, to keep alive the imagination
of tourists.

We are waiting in the garden this sunny, enticing morning-just the day
for a tramp among the purple hills--for our friend, the long Englishman,
who promised, over night, to go with us. This excellent, good-natured
giant, whose head rubs the ceiling of any room in the house, has a wife
who is fond of him, and in great dread of the brigands. He comes down
with a sheepish air, at length, and informs us that his wife won’t let
him go.

“Of course I can go, if I like,” he adds. “But the fact is, I have n’t
slept much all night: she kept asking me if I was going!” On the whole,
the giant don’t care to go. There are things more to be feared than

The expedition is, therefore, reduced to two unarmed persons. In the
piazza we pick up a donkey and his driver for use in case of accident;
and, mounting the driver on the donkey,--an arrangement that seems
entirely satisfactory to him,--we set forward. If anything can bring
back youth, it is a day of certain sunshine and a bit of unexplored
country ahead, with a whole day in which to wander in it without a care
or a responsibility. We walk briskly up the walled road of the piano,
striking at the overhanging golden fruit with our staves; greeting the
orange-girls who come down the side lanes; chaffing with the drivers,
the beggars, the old women who sit in the sun; looking into the open
doors of houses and shops upon women weaving, boys and girls slicing up
heaps of oranges, upon the makers of macaroni, the sellers of sour wine,
the merry shoemakers, whose little dens are centers of gossip here, as
in all the East: the whole life of these people is open and social; to
be on the street is to be at home.

We wind up the steep hill behind Meta, every foot of which is terraced
for olive-trees, getting, at length, views over the wayside wall of the
plain and bay and rising into the purer air and the scent of flowers and
other signs of coming spring, to the little village of Arola, with its
church and bell, its beggars and idlers,--just a little street of houses
jammed in between the hills of Camaldoli and Pergola, both of which we
know well.

Upon the cliff by Pergola is a stone house, in front of which I like
to lie, looking straight down a thousand or two feet upon the roofs of
Meta, the map of the plain, and the always fascinating bay. I went down
the backbone of the limestone ridge towards the sea the other afternoon,
before sunset, and unexpectedly came upon a group of little stone
cottages on a ledge, which are quite hidden from below. The inhabitants
were as much surprised to see a foreigner break through their seclusion
as I was to come upon them. However, they soon recovered presence of
mind to ask for a little money. Half a dozen old hags with the parchment
also sat upon the rocks in the sun, spinning from distaffs, exactly as
their ancestors did in Greece two thousand years ago, I doubt not. I
do not know that it is true, as Tasso wrote, that this climate is so
temperate and serene that one almost becomes immortal in it. Since two
thousand years all these coasts have changed more or less, risen and
sunk, and the temples and palaces of two civilizations have tumbled
into the sea. Yet I do not know but these tranquil old women have been
sitting here on the rocks all the while, high above change and worry and
decay, gossiping and spinning, like Fates. Their yarn must be uncanny.

But we wander. It is difficult to go to any particular place here;
impossible to write of it in a direct manner. Our mulepath continues
most delightful, by slopes of green orchards nestled in sheltered
places, winding round gorges, deep and ragged with loose stones, and
groups of rocks standing on the edge of precipices, like medieval
towers, and through village after village tucked away in the hills.
The abundance of population is a constant surprise. As we proceed, the
people are wilder and much more curious about us, having, it is evident,
seen few strangers lately. Women and children, half-dressed in dirty
rags which do not hide the form, come out from their low stone huts
upon the windy terraces, and stand, arms akimbo, staring at us, and not
seldom hailing us in harsh voices. Their sole dress is often a single
split and torn gown, not reaching to the bare knees, evidently the
original of those in the Naples ballet (it will, no doubt, be different
when those creatures exchange the ballet for the ballot); and, with
their tangled locks and dirty faces, they seem rather beasts than
women. Are their husbands brigands, and are they in wait for us in the
chestnut-grove yonder?

The grove is charming; and the men we meet there gathering sticks are
not so surly as the women. They point the way; and when we emerge from
the wood, St. Maria a Castello is before us on a height, its white and
red church shining in the sun. We climb up to it. In front is a broad,
flagged terrace; and on the edge are deep wells in the rock, from which
we draw cool water. Plentifully victualed, one could stand a siege here,
and perhaps did in the gamey Middle Ages. Monk or soldier need not wish
a pleasanter place to lounge. Adjoining the church, but lower, is a
long, low building with three rooms, at once house and stable, the
stable in the center, though all of them have hay in the lofts. The
rooms do not communicate. That is the whole of the town of St. Maria a

In one of the apartments some rough-looking peasants are eating dinner,
a frugal meal: a dish of unclean polenta, a plate of grated cheese, a
basket of wormy figs, and some sour red wine; no bread, no meat. They
looked at us askance, and with no sign of hospitality. We made friends,
however, with the ragged children, one of whom took great delight in
exhibiting his litter of puppies; and we at length so far worked into
the good graces of the family that the mother was prevailed upon to get
us some milk and eggs. I followed the woman into one of the apartments
to superintend the cooking of the eggs. It was a mere den, with an
earth floor. A fire of twigs was kindled against the farther wall, and
a little girl, half-naked, carrying a baby still more economically clad,
was stooping down to blow the smudge into a flame. The smoke, some of
it, went over our heads out at the door. We boiled the eggs. We desired
salt; and the woman brought us pepper in the berry. We insisted on salt,
and at length got the rock variety, which we pounded on the rocks. We
ate our eggs and drank our milk on the terrace, with the entire family
interested spectators. The men were the hardest-looking ruffians we had
met yet: they were making a bit of road near by, but they seemed capable
of turning their hands to easier money-getting; and there couldn’t be a
more convenient place than this.

When our repast was over, and I had drunk a glass of wine with the
proprietor, I offered to pay him, tendering what I knew was a fair
price in this region. With some indignation of gesture, he refused it,
intimating that it was too little. He seemed to be seeking an excuse for
a quarrel with us; so I pocketed the affront, money and all, and turned
away. He appeared to be surprised, and going indoors presently came out
with a bottle of wine and glasses, and followed us down upon the rocks,
pressing us to drink. Most singular conduct; no doubt drugged wine;
travelers put into deep sleep; robbed; thrown over precipice; diplomatic
correspondence, flattering, but no compensation to them. Either this, or
a case of hospitality. We declined to drink, and the brigand went away.

We sat down upon the jutting ledge of a precipice, the like of which
is not in the world: on our left, the rocky, bare side of St. Angelo,
against which the sunshine dashes in waves; below us, sheer down two
thousand feet, the city of Positano, a nest of brown houses, thickly
clustered on a conical spur, and lying along the shore, the home of
three thousand people,--with a running jump I think I could land in the
midst of it,--a pygmy city, inhabited by mites, as we look down upon it;
a little beach of white sand, a sailboat lying on it, and some fishermen
just embarking; a long hotel on the beach; beyond, by the green shore,
a country seat charmingly situated amid trees and vines; higher up, the
ravine-seamed hill, little stone huts, bits of ruin, towers, arches. How
still it is! All the stiller that I can, now and then, catch the sound
of an axe, and hear the shouts of some children in a garden below. How
still the sea is! How many ages has it been so? Does the purple mist
always hang there upon the waters of Salerno Bay, forever hiding from
the gaze Paestum and its temples, and all that shore which is so much
more Grecian than Roman?

After all, it is a satisfaction to turn to the towering rock of
St. Angelo; not a tree, not a shrub, not a spire of grass, on its
perpendicular side. We try to analyze the satisfaction there is in such
a bald, treeless, verdureless mass. We can grasp it intellectually, in
its sharp solidity, which is undisturbed by any ornament: it is, to the
mind, like some complete intellectual performance; the mind rests on it,
like a demonstration in Euclid. And yet what a color of beauty it takes
on in the distance!

When we return, the bandits have all gone to their road-making: the
suspicious landlord is nowhere to be seen. We call the woman from the
field, and give her money, which she seemed not to expect, and for which
she shows no gratitude. Life appears to be indifferent to these people.
But, if these be brigands, we prefer them to those of Naples, and
even to the innkeepers of England. As we saunter home in the pleasant
afternoon, the vesper-bells are calling to each other, making the
sweetest echoes of peace everywhere in the hills, and all the piano is
jubilant with them, as we come down the steeps at sunset.

“You see there was no danger,” said the giant to his wife that evening
at the supper-table.

“You would have found there was danger, if you had gone,” returned the
wife of the giant significantly.


I like to walk upon the encircling ridge behind Sorrento, which commands
both bays. From there I can look down upon the Isles of the Sirens. The
top is a broad, windy strip of pasture, which falls off abruptly to the
Bay of Salerno on the south: a regular embankment of earth runs along
the side of the precipitous steeps, towards Sorrento. It appears to be
a line of defence for musketry, such as our armies used to throw up:
whether the French, who conducted siege operations from this promontory
on Capri, under Murat, had anything to do with it, does not appear.

Walking there yesterday, we met a woman shepherdess, cowherd, or
siren--standing guard over three steers while they fed; a scantily-clad,
brown woman, who had a distaff in her hand, and spun the flax as she
watched the straying cattle, an example of double industry which the
men who tend herds never imitate. Very likely her ancestors so spun
and tended cattle on the plains of Thessaly. We gave the rigid woman
good-morning, but she did not heed or reply; we made some inquiries as
to paths, but she ignored us; we bade her good-day, and she scowled
at us: she only spun. She was so out of tune with the people, and the
gentle influences of this region, that we could only regard her as an
anomaly,--the representative of some perversity and evil genius, which,
no doubt, lurks here as it does elsewhere in the world. She could not
have descended from either of the groups of the Sirens; for she was not
fascinating enough to be fatal.

I like to look upon these islets or rocks of the Sirens, barren
and desolate, with a few ruins of the Roman time and remains of
the Middle-Age prisons of the doges of Amalfi; but I do not care to
dissipate any illusions by going to them. I remember how the Sirens sat
on flowery meads by the shore and sang, and are vulgarly supposed to
have allured passing mariners to a life of ignoble pleasure, and then
let them perish, hungry with all unsatisfied longings. The bones of
these unfortunates, whitening on the rocks, of which Virgil speaks, I
could not see. Indeed, I think any one who lingers long in this region
will doubt if they were ever there, and will come to believe that the
characters of the Sirens are popularly misconceived. Allowing Ulysses
to be only another name for the sun-god, who appears in myths as Indra,
Apollo, William Tell, the sure-hitter, the great archer, whose arrows
are sunbeams, it is a degrading conception of him that he was obliged to
lash himself to the mast when he went into action with the Sirens, like
Farragut at Mobile, though for a very different reason. We should be
forced to believe that Ulysses was not free from the basest mortal
longings, and that he had not strength of mind to resist them, but must
put himself in durance; as our moderns who cannot control their desires
go into inebriate asylums.

Mr. Ruskin says that “the Sirens are the great constant desires, the
infinite sicknesses of heart, which, rightly placed, give life, and,
wrongly placed, waste it away; so that there are two groups of Sirens,
one noble and saving, as the other is fatal.” Unfortunately we are
all, as were the Greeks, ministered unto by both these groups, but can
fortunately, on the other hand, choose which group we will listen to the
singing of, though the strains are somewhat mingled; as, for instance,
in the modern opera, where the music quite as often wastes life away,
as gives to it the energy of pure desire. Yet, if I were to locate the
Sirens geographically, I should place the beneficent desires on this
coast, and the dangerous ones on that of wicked Baiae; to which group
the founder of Naples no doubt belonged.

Nowhere, perhaps, can one come nearer to the beautiful myths of Greece,
the springlike freshness of the idyllic and heroic age, than on this
Sorrentine promontory. It was no chance that made these coasts the home
of the kind old monarch Eolus, inventor of sails and storm-signals.
On the Telegrafo di Mare Cuccola is a rude signal-apparatus for
communication with Capri,--to ascertain if wind and wave are propitious
for entrance to the Blue Grotto,--which probably was not erected by
Eolus, although he doubtless used this sightly spot as one of his
stations. That he dwelt here, in great content, with his six sons and
six daughters, the Months, is nearly certain; and I feel as sure that
the Sirens, whose islands were close at hand, were elevators and not
destroyers of the primitive races living here.

It seems to me this must be so; because the pilgrim who surrenders
himself to the influences of these peaceful and sun-inundated coasts,
under this sky which the bright Athena loved and loves, loses, by and
by, those longings and heart-sicknesses which waste away his life, and
comes under the dominion, more and more, of those constant desires
after that which is peaceful and enduring and has the saving quality of
purity. I know, indeed, that it is not always so; and that, as Boreas is
a better nurse of rugged virtue than Zephyr, so the soft influences
of this clime only minister to the fatal desires of some: and such are
likely to sail speedily back to Naples.

The Sirens, indeed, are everywhere; and I do not know that we can go
anywhere that we shall escape the infinite longings, or satisfy them.
Here, in the purple twilight of history, they offered men the choice
of good and evil. I have a fancy, that, in stepping out of the whirl of
modern life upon a quiet headland, so blessed of two powers, the air and
the sea, we are able to come to a truer perception of the drift of
the eternal desires within us. But I cannot say whether it is a subtle
fascination, linked with these mythic and moral influences, or only the
physical loveliness of this promontory, that lures travelers hither, and
detains them on flowery meads.

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