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Title: "Trip to the Sunny South" in March, 1885
Author: L. S. D.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book ""Trip to the Sunny South" in March, 1885" ***

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Internet Archive)



------------------------------------------------------------------------


[Illustration: DAZIO CONSUMO de VENTEMILLE. (A WRANGLE AT AN ITALIAN
CUSTOM HOUSE.)]


------------------------------------------------------------------------



FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION.


                       [Illustration: Decoration]


                       “Trip to the Sunny South”


                            IN MARCH, 1885,

             PARIS, MACON, GENEVA, MENTONE, SAN REMO, MONTE
              CARLO, MONACO, ITALY, GENOA, TURIN, LEGHORN,
              PISA, NAPLES, ROME, REGGIO, SICILY, MESSINA,
                  CATANIA, SYRACUSE, MALTA, GIBRALTAR.


                                   BY
                               L. S. D.,
                           Author of &c., &c.

                                -------

                    DEDICATED TO MY FRIEND, J. P. G.

                                -------


                              BIRKENHEAD:
            PRINTED BY E. GRIFFITH AND SON, HAMILTON STREET.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                PREFACE.

                                -------


The idea of writing a short narrative of a trip to the Mediterranean
suggested itself by the numerous enquiries as to “where did you go?”
“what did you see that afforded most interest?”

It is difficult to compress into half-an-hour, with any degree of
clearness, what can be seen in six weeks, and covering 5,000 miles.

I beg my friends to accept this broken and disjointed attempt at
description. I have tried to say a little about most that I visited,
whether they treated me well or badly.

          L. S. D.

Bebington, April, 1885.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                       [Illustration: Decoration]



                       “TRIP TO THE SUNNY SOUTH.”

                               ----------


“TRY a sea trip, if you can manage it,” was the last prescription I had
from Dr. Banks, “it will do you more good than any medicine.” This was
about the beginning of February. I found a companion in the same humour
as myself, and it was agreed that we should make for the Mediterranean,
going overland.

Armed with passport, pistols, powder (Keating’s insect), candles, soap,
Bradshaw’s Continental and Baedeker’s Guides, and other requisites too
numerous to mention, on the 18th of February we started from Birkenhead
for London.

After a day in London, we booked and registered our luggage for Paris,
and swept through beautiful Kent, with its hills and valleys and hop
fields, like a garden in early spring.

The chops in the channel were very disagreeable, and made us feel quiet,
and look very green and uncomfortable.

The steamer ran us alongside the railway pier at Calais. After luncheon
we took train; were then backed through some of the principal streets,
to attach some more carriages. As we sped along we soon came across the
old familiar blue blouse and baggy trousers of the French peasant, busy
with his spring cultivation. Leaving Boulogne and Amiens, reached Paris
early in the evening.

At the searching room I met with my first trouble. Knowing, from
experience, the quality of French tobacco and cigars would not satisfy
an Englishman–I had also been charged for the credit of my own country
not to forsake the pipe–was provided with a box of each, both of which
were broken into. This would not satisfy the Frenchmen; they gathered
round my portmanteau in a troop, turned out all my sundries, and finally
agreed to let me off with a fine of eighteen francs. My friend managed
to pass, by good luck; they seized his parcel of candles, which he
described as “flambeaux” in his hurry to pick up his French, but
afterwards corrected to “bougie,” which were carefully examined, and he
was allowed to go scot free. We spent Saturday and Sunday here, visited
the Madelene, Champs Elysées, Arch de Triomph, and the Louvre Galleries.
Here we met one of those bland, sleek gentlemen, a guide courier and
interpreter, with his small cane, gloves, and well-polished hat, so
seductive, so suggestive and polite. We engaged him for two hours, at
two francs per hour, to take us over the Picture Galleries. He badly
wanted to shew us the sights of Paris by night, but this we declined. We
sauntered through the well-known gay thoroughfares, the Avenue de
L’Opera, Boulevard des Capucines, Boulevard de Italians, the Palais
Royal, with tasteful and tempting shops of gloves, fancy nic-nacs,
flowers, lace, and millinery, and tempting confectionery establishments.
The prices they ask, and get, are fabulous, still they seem to find
buyers; every one appears to be doing well; you scarcely ever see a shop
to let.

On Saturday evening we did not think the performance of “La Favorita”
did much credit to the company at the Grand Opera House. As regards the
decorations of the house, I consider them too massive, too gorgeous, too
heavy, and too much gold; but the grand staircase and promenade crush
room are the finest I have seen.

Sunday in Paris is not a day of rest, or even recreation. The butchers
and bakers, grocers and drapers open their shops and push their trade.
They are all particular in the way they do their business; the barber
and the butcher are provided with a neat office, desk, stove, and a
large account book.

We took the banks of the river as far as the Hotel de Ville, now
re-built in a grand style after being burnt down by the Communists. The
interior of Notre Dame is lost for want of light; we went in and were
disappointed. This is also the fault with many of the fine Cathedrals in
Italy. They say a church should have that weird and gloomy solemn
appearance to sober the minds of the worshippers; if this be so, why
store up their costly paintings and sculpture in places where they
cannot be seen? Pilgrims visit these grand old churches, and fall into
ecstasy over a Raphael or a Guido that they can scarcely discern.

I admired the column of the Bastille when in Paris five years ago; I
admired it again, not only for the historical reminiscences, but as the
finest column in Paris, which graces the spot where stood for ages the
infamous prison of the Bastille.

Wherever you go it is “Liberty, equality, and fraternity”–the Republican
motto. The Parisians have repaired or rebuilt the ravages of the
Communists (excepting the Tuileries Palace), but now there appears to be
nothing new going on, no extension of the improvements commenced by
Napoleon III. They live a life of pleasure, and at the present seem to
have no further ambition.

An early breakfast on Monday morning, and we left Paris by Lyons and
Marseilles railway, traversing the valley of the Seine through the
forest of Fontainebleau. Although it was very picturesque we failed to
see the giant oak or elm, as in old England. Proceeding south we were
soon in the great wine growing district of France. Miles, even hundreds
of miles, of broad valleys of vines, with the wine growers’ pretty
chateaus and dome shape wine presses and stores. Every station bears the
name of some well-known brand. We broke our journey at Macon, a scant
town on the Rhone, the birthplace of Lamartine, the dramatist and
author.

Always in travelling through France (more particularly in Italy) take
care to be in time to register your luggage, a quarter of an hour being
required previous to departure of train. Though we arrived five minutes
before departure of train at Macon we had to wait four hours, as our
luggage had not been registered.

The next day we were on our way to the borders of Switzerland, and had
the first view of the snowy mountains of Jura through picturesque
valleys of Derbyshire style–but bolder and much more extensive–pretty
villages, and thriving-looking factories and water mills. We had some
difficulties at the railway junctions, as we found our pure English
language was not much appreciated; however, we reached Geneva in the
evening, a city built at the foot of the lake of Geneva (Lac Leman), its
gardens, villas, and grand hotels nestling on the shores of the placid
waters; its dainty shops of jewellery and watches of exquisite design
and taste; its wide streets of varied styles of architectural beauty,
with lines of shady trees and fountains; its institutions of learning;
its conservatoires of music and art, with a very fine modern theatre;
and the Hotel de Ville, famous for its conventions and treaties. The
principal city in Switzerland–a city that any Englishman would be happy
and contented to live in. They have a good government–the best appointed
republic in the world,–light taxation. The people are clean, sober,
industrious, and well-educated. The shops look thriving, and the
inhabitants prosperous.

We took a trip up the lake by steamer to Nyon, one of those very
interesting little towns of Swiss type. A fierce little stream rushes
down through the town, on its way turning wheels for flour mills,
mechanic’s shops, little factories for making that ingenious Swiss wood
work we so often see at home in our shops. We had in Nyon examples of
old Swiss architecture, little bridges, nooks and corners, turrets and
gables, curious windows and balconies, and those little fanciful
additions which would appear to have been the sudden impulsive thought
of the builder stuck on at an hour’s notice. All the world knows that
Geneva is famed for its watches. They make them so small, and yet so
perfect, that they are worn in a finger ring. By touching a spring the
outer portion of the ring flies open, and displays this perfect pigmy
watch. They have also cluster diamond brooches which have internal works
which continually keep the diamonds in agitation to give them additional
brilliancy.

The grand hotel, Beau Kivage, I can recommend. They look well after your
comfort. It stands near the Pont de Mont Blanc, and has the best view of
that grand mountain peak, Mount Blanc. It was in this hotel that the
Duke of Brunswick lived and died. A very fine monument has been erected
in his memory in the gardens opposite. An amusing incident occurred at
this hotel. My friend and I were sitting in the reading-room, adjoining
the dining-room, waiting for breakfast, as were also a lady and
gentleman whom we took to be Germans–they never spoke except in German
or French. The gentlemen had opened the door of the dining-room, and
continually grumbled in German at the delay, whereupon my friend said to
me, “The old buck is in a hurry for his breakfast.” Not the slightest
notice was taken of the remark by either lady or gentleman, but when
shortly after they were seated opposite us at breakfast they spoke in
the purest English. They charge at Geneva one shilling and ninepence for
a pint of Bass, but you can get fifty good cigars for four francs,–three
farthings each. They are rather particular about money at Geneva. At one
of the cafés, when given a half sovereign in payment it was refused as
bad money, so we gave them Swiss instead.

As the object of our journey was to find a warmer and more sunny clime,
we left Geneva in the early morning. In railway travelling on the
Continent they think nothing of turning out at four or five in the
morning. You have to do this, or lose half a day. Through winding
valleys we began to ascend slowly for Mont Cenis. By mid-day we were
amongst the snow. All through this part of France you see the long lines
or avenues of poplar trees, stretching for miles along the great roads
constructed by the first Napoleon. There is still the one he made over
the Alps to take his troops over to Moscow. The railway follows the same
valley up to Modane. Modane, a small town near the mouth of the Mont
Cenis tunnel, was nearly buried in snow. It was here that we were
suddenly robbed of forty-five minutes of our existence. The one side of
the clock is 12 noon and the other 12.45, Paris and Roman time. The
tunnel is about nine miles long, and you are forty-five minutes in
passing through. It strikes the Alps at an altitude of 4000 feet. The
Italian side is very wild and bold as you emerge from the mountain–a
very deep gorge; villages perched up on the precipitous mountain
side–one had been swept away last winter by an avalanche, and the
inhabitants with it.

We arrived at Turin in the evening. I have not much to say about this
city. It was the capital of Italy, and Victor Emmanuel had his
government here after he was made King of Italy and removed to Rome.
They have erected a fine monumental structure to his memory. The streets
are all straight, and cross each other at right angles. The principal
streets of shops have piazzas, which give the place a heavy, gloomy
appearance, a striking contrast to Geneva. The place bristled with
soldiers and swaggering Italians, with their long black hair, and togas
thrown over their shoulders. Our stay was short.

The next evening we were in Genoa, “Genoa the Superb;” here it is called
Genova; Turin, is Torino; Leghorn, Lavorna; Naples, Napoli; and Rome,
Roma. Genoa has a history like Venice, and has held a prominent position
in the history of Europe. The long streets of palaces of its nobles,
rich in statuary, pictures, and antiquities. It has wealthy nobles, who
still cling to this fine city. These palaces are thrown open to the
public and tourists to view the pictures and statuary. The Duke of
Galliera has lately given twenty million francs to improve the harbour.

We took a liking to Genoa, and stayed nearly three days, and saw the
place thoroughly. Had a guide, viewed the city from an elevated
position, so that we might have the first sight of the Mediterranean.

Genoa is rich in the abundance of the marble used in its buildings, all
the houses in the principal streets being built entirely of marble. The
interior portions are of white marble, such as the wide steps,
balustrading, and columns of the ducal palaces. The elevations are very
lofty, and uniformly six stories, that carries them much higher than the
principal buildings in London. In the lower parts of the city you are
well in the shade; if the rays of the sun ever penetrated to the ground
it would only be for a few minutes, the streets are so narrow and the
buildings so lofty that, looking up, you can only perceive a narrow
streak of blue sky. It is a bustling place, and there appears to be
plenty of business going on. There is a street with nothing but filagree
goods, another for Genoese velvet, a Bourse, and a shipping office
street.

We visited the Palazzo Durazzo, which is one of the show places open to
visitors. Among the paintings at this Palace we saw the Magdeline, by
Titian; Flagellation of Christ, by Carracci; Portrait of Vandyke, by
himself; Cleopatra and Sleeping Child, both by Guido; a wonderful
picture in Mosaic of a tiger bought at Milan for 5,000 francs. We saw
the Palazzo Doria where Verdi is at present living, and then visited the
beautiful Gardens of Rozazza, from where a delightful panoramic view of
Genoa, with the blue Mediterranean, is obtained. A tablet to the memory
of Dan O’Connell is inserted in the wall of the Hotel Trombetta.
Garibaldi’s daughter has a fine house in the Via Sarroti. In the front
of this house still hangs the memorial wreaths of Italy’s patriot.

The church of La Annunciata, built by Piola, in 1530, perhaps the
finest, we say, with the exception of churches in Rome, as to the
internal decoration, being entirely of polished and gilded marble; in
gilded carving and statuary, gorgeous, yet beautiful. The cathedral, an
imposing structure of black and white marble, was built 200 years B.C.,
and was formerly the Temple of Janus. In the cathedral they shew you the
charger on which the head of John the Baptist was carried into the
presence of Herod; also the chains which are said to have been worn by
St. John are shewn. A number of beautiful marble pillars at the west
entrance were brought by the Knights of St. John from the Holy Land. The
diabolical act of the dancing Jewish maiden perpetually prevents all of
her sex ever entering into this sacred chapel, containing the bones of
the Evangelist.

Funerals here are very imposing, headed by a band of music, priests
carrying huge crosses, dazzling gilded hearses, followed by a long
procession. One we witnessed, and we were told it was only a common
funeral.

The campo santa or cemetery, three miles from Genoa, is very interesting
and beautiful. The monuments of the deceased are sculptural
representations, with their friends in attitudes of prayer and sorrow.

The market place, in front of the Carlo Felice Theatre, was a busy
throng, even on Sunday morning. The country people in their smart and
gay-coloured costumes–a Babel of tongues–all pressing us to buy as we
strolled through the motley crowd. There is a novelty, even a charm,
about the scene, and in the bright dark eyes and dusky skin of the
weather-beaten old men. Although it is February, we seem to have our
Summer vegetables and fruit; oranges and lemons are in season;
artichokes, endive, leek, garlic, peas, beans, and cauliflowers, are
offered in abundance. The Carlo Felice Theatre is one of the finest in
Italy, with a _stage_ running back 145 feet from the footlights.

The drive from Nice to San Remo is considered the finest in Europe.
Originally it was a mule path, known as the Cornice road, but Napoleon
I. converted it into a fine road. The railway has taken a straighter
line, and you are continually passing through short tunnels, with
glimpses of the sea. Along the whole distance from Genoa to Mentone,
known as the Riviera, are villages surrounded by orange and lemon groves
and olive trees–they seem to grow almost without cultivation. The first
week in March–the time I am writing–oranges and lemons are ripe and at
their best, and the new blossom is just beginning to appear. If you want
an orange in prime condition you must pluck it from a tree, in March. In
our journey from Genoa to Mentone we passed through Bordighera where are
forests of palm trees, and it is from here that the palms used on
festive occasions are sent to St. Peter’s, at Rome. You might say that
Mentone and San Remo were taken by the English, you meet more of them
than any other race, and a very exclusive set they are when here. The
French and Germans are below their notice.

Mentone is not a place to attract fashionable and gay visitors, they
have no public gardens, no places of amusement, most visitors are
supposed to be invalids. They have a promenade by the sea and a
pavilion, but you never see many people about. I think they must all go
to Monte Carlo or Nice when they want to see a little life. Mentone is
hemmed in and sheltered from the north and east by the French Alps (Alps
Maratimes); they form a bold back ground with bristling spurs, and
valleys, and ravines down to the shores of the Mediterranean. It seems a
strange contrast to have the wild snow-clad mountains in the back ground
with peas five feet in pod, and oranges and lemons in galore. The old
town of Mentone which, up to a few years ago, belonged to Italy,
consists of tall houses and narrow streets. Some of these streets are
looped together with stonework to give them firmness should an
earthquake take place, which gives them a peculiar appearance. Since it
came into the hands of the French, and became a sanatorium for lung
diseases, a new town of large hotels and pretty villas around the bay
and up the hill side has sprung up.

The French seem to possess an exquisite taste in building their villas
that you never see in England. It is not the architecture alone, but the
work, the little extra finish, ornamental steps, balconies,
balustrading, the vases, statuettes bearing lamps, all adding to its
happy appearance. They are all cemented outside, some perfectly white
and others tinted with distemper. The climate never seems to discolour
or destroy their freshness.

We made Mentone a centre, and stayed here. Nice, Monaco, Monte Carlo,
and San Remo are only a few miles distant. Nice has long been famous for
its annual fetes, and even more so of late. Our Royal Prince was present
at the last Carnival. In going through Covent Garden Market we wonder
where the Spring flowers come from–the violets, the roses, &c. It is
Nice and the neighbourhood that sends them. There are large shops with
heaps of flowers where they pack them very carefully and send them to
London and Paris. You can buy a small assortment for two or three
francs, and send them to England at a very small cost. I was almost
forgetting to mention that it is the flowers that form one of the
principal features in making up the display at the Carnival. We were a
fortnight too late to witness this display, but in Mentone we saw the
Battle of Flowers, a small affair compared with that of Nice, but still
characteristic. Along the streets was a profuse display of bunting,
lining the parapets with flags on Venetian masts, a gaily decorated
grand stand or tribune on each side of the road, filled with ladies and
children, each provided with a large basket or hamper of flowers. At two
o’clock the mayor opens the fair, or rather two or three gendarmes come
galloping along followed by the mayor, the band strikes up and the
battle commences; ladies, gentlemen, and children dressed in fancy
costumes; carriages dressed even to the spokes of the wheels; coachmen
decorated even to their whips; some with masks and trunk hose; boys on
donkeys; gay carriages with fashionable residents; and visitors
following each other in rapid succession; the spectators defending and
the occupants of the chariots attacking, not forgetting to give their
particular friend a bob in the eye with a bunch as they sweep past. The
battle lasted about two hours, and the roadway was covered with flowers
by the time they had exhausted their supply. We were told some of the
carriages cost £50 and even £100 to decorate and supply with flowers as
ammunition.

Monte Carlo and Monaco are only three and four miles from Mentone, a
lovely walk along the coast. Monaco is the old town, built on a
peninsular rock raised some hundreds of feet above the sea, where Prince
Grimaldi has his palace, and a curious little kingdom it is; he can see
it all from his bed-room window. He lives in state, and has an army of
eight. The sergeant was busy drilling his last recruit when we were
there. There are only two streets in this little town, and they are very
narrow. There is not room to build another house, but they have built on
the table land adjoining, and this is what is called Monte Carlo, one of
the most beautiful spots in the world. I can never forget the two days
we were here, because they were _faultless days_, the sky was blue and
so was the Mediterranean, as blue as ever I had seen it painted. A
gentle slope of high table land with the Maratime Alps for a back
ground. Portions of the approaches or lower parts of the mountains are
covered with sombre-looking olive groves, while the lower ground,
sloping down to the sea, is laid out as ornamental gardens–rare
specimens of shrubbery of distant lands, semi-tropical plants, such as
palm and aloes, evergreen shady bowers, fountains and cascades. The
walks and borders are so clean and perfect that you could not find a
scrap of paper or a loose pebble. The name of Monte Carlo, in my mind,
was associated with sharpers, cut throats, and other pests such as we
see in England associated with the turf, where you would require to look
after the safety of your pocket, but in this respect we were quite
mistaken, every thing is quiet and orderly there–there is a gendarme at
every point. The Grand Casino is a magnificent building, situated in the
Gardens. Strangers or visitors are only admitted, _i.e._, no inhabitants
of the town or neighbourhood. All the visitor has to do is to enter his
or her name in a book, and state the hotel where he or she is staying.
Everywhere is free, no fees are expected. There is a fine reading-room,
plentifully supplied with newspapers and periodicals from all nations.
There is a large crush room or promenade, where you may enjoy the weed.
Leading from this is a very gorgeous concert room–a constant orchestra
of over 100 musicians are always kept; performances of high-class music
are given twice a day. The other–a greater portion of the buildings–is
where the tables are, eight in number. The gaming business commences at
eleven in the morning and finishes at eleven at night. The tables are
presided over by croupiers, who pay and receive the money and spin the
wheel of fortune or deal the cards. The players are standing or seated
round the table; everybody is quiet, all the noise you hear is the
declaring of the winning number and the clinking of the money as it is
raked in or shovelled out. The players consist of all classes, young and
old of all nations, from gay and licentious to the blue stocking of the
dorcas meeting–a large proportion are women–staking from 5 francs to
1000 francs and more. The business is profitable to the proprietors of
the tables, keeps Prince Grimaldi a prince, and pays all the taxes in
the town.

The principal object of our journey to the “Sunny South” was health, to
be best acquired by rest and sea breezes. It was now time to take ship.

I had not an opportunity of shooting any brigands while in Italy,
because at Vintemille, they took charge of a very nice six-shooter lent
me by my friend, Jupiter. It happened just on the Italian frontier. If
you wish to carry a pistol it must be a foot long, and you must carry it
in a _belt around the waist_. My companion was wrath to see these
friendly Italians rudely destroying some choice plants and roots he had
so carefully collected at Mentone, saying, “not possibul, coller ha,”
being afraid of having cholera thus imported into Italy.

From Genoa we took berths by the Florio Rubittino steamer “Asia.” Having
twelve hours to wait at Leghorn we landed and went to Pisa to see the
leaning tower, the cathedral, and baptistry–a quiet, clean old town, its
greatness is recorded in ancient history. The only noticeable feature
about Leghorn is its fine harbour.

Two more days’ delightful sailing along the coast, passing the small
barren island of Elba, where the first Napoleon was banished to for a
time. Nearing the bay of Naples, the first land sighted is the island of
Ischia, where 2000 people lost their lives in 1883 by an earthquake. It
was evening when we sighted Vesuvius, about twenty-five miles away, a
red glare of fire issuing from its summit. As we entered the bay, Naples
looked as if it was illuminated, the rows of gas lights so regular in
line above each other; the night was fine and clear, and the scene
enchanting. We were too late that night to be cleared by the Customs, so
slept on board. Early in the morning we were awakened by the cries of
human voices belonging to the Neapolitan boatmen waiting for their prey.
Before breakfast we went on deck to have a morning view of the bay of
Naples. It was fine, the sun was up. The bay looks like an inland sea of
twenty miles in width. The islands of Capri and Ischia stand at the
opening of the bay, and so close up the view to the open sea. The bold
outline of the mountains, the towns and villages can be seen here and
there on some elevated spot, the atmosphere being so fine, and the sea
glistening placid and clear. To the south of the bay stands Vesuvius,
steaming and smoking, throwing up its vapours to the sky, by night a
bright red glare; at the crown of the bay stands the far-famed Naples,
with its many-tinted houses piled one above another up the hill that
skirts the bay, crowned by the colossal castle of Elmo. The curve of the
bay is broken in the centre by a small mole, on which stands the
ruined-looking castle Dell Ova and the Palace Royal, and further north,
on the rising ground stands modern Naples, laid out with fine hotels,
villas, and gardens.

We left the steamer here to take another when we wished to proceed
further South. Here, as in all the Mediterranean ports, we were anchored
in the bay; hundreds of boats were clustered around our steamer, and a
ragged, noisy lot they were. We landed, were searched and counter
searched before we were clear, and able to drive to our hotel. Naples is
a place we have heard much of, writers have painted it in words and
artists in oil–they say, “see Naples and then die.” If you happened to
be a nervous man or troubled with heart disease, you would soon die. I
have been in Scotland Road Market on Saturday night, I have been on
London Bridge, the greatest thoroughfare in the world, but in the
Toledo, the Strada del Mola, and the Strada del Piliera, you will hear
noises far greater in volume and variety than in London. I think it must
be the language that helps them on, every word appears to end with a ee,
oo, ii; they whistle, they shout, rush and jostle you about, and as the
streets are narrow you have to look after yourself or be run over. The
sense of smell will have a feast, with a few new specimens which
permeate the air on every side; outdoor cooking arrangements,
vegetables, and other mystic messes simmering and spluttering in fat or
oil. Their sanitary arrangements are worse than in Paris, and their
sense of decency is less shameless.

Naples like Genoa, in the old portion of the town, is so closely huddled
together, and the streets are so steep and narrow, that no vehicles can
pass up. They are generally so littered up with baskets and hampers that
foot passengers have a difficulty in threading their way. The shoemaker
brings his bench outside, and plys his trade in the open street; the
tailor with his clumsy-looking sewing machine, and his dirty-looking
apprentice, are likewise busy on the parapet. The houses are eight or
nine stories high with balconies, and _washing_ on each storey. On a
bright day the streets look dark because no sun can penetrate them, and
the sky is hidden by the various projecting obstructions. If you look
into a shop window, some miserable-looking fellow will ask you to go in
and purchase. If you do so he will ask for commission from the buyer,
you may be sure he will try and do his best with the seller. If you go
into a shop and price a certain article, they fix a price they never
expect to get; you say it is too dear, they immediately ask, _How much
will you give?_ and if needs be will take one-half or one-third what was
first asked. There is no very marked difference between a Neapolitan and
an Englishman. They appear to be of the same family as our English
gipsy, dusky, with dark hair and eyes. Their dress, hat, and coat are
much the same as our fashion, but still there is a difference; perhaps
the pockets are fixed horizontally instead of perpendicular, or the
buttons are different; their boots are more namby-pamby, in contrast
with those the writer wore–there must be something. We were marked at
once as Englishmen. The cabman would get his eye upon us, chase us
about, back his horse across our path, and try and cajole us into his
car; once in, he would be sure to try and take you to some place four
times the distance you wished to go.

The Italians are true lovers of art, and sometimes carry it to a
ridiculous degree. It bespeaks a man’s taste if he has the goddess of
dancing or music painted on his house, but to see the same figures on a
stone cart, or bouquets of flowers on a manure cart, we certainly think
too, too æsthetic.

One of the many things that struck me in the streets of Naples were the
vehicles, and more especially the harness. The horses draw from the
breast, and therefore wear no collar; the harness, which is very
ornamental in shape, is covered with brass, tassels, &c. They don’t
groom their horses and mules, but clean their brass very carefully. They
yoke a horse and donkey together, a donkey and an ox, a donkey and mule,
or three donkeys and a mule. One day I observed a horse, an ox, and a
donkey drawing a cart of stones, all with bells clanging.

In some few things they are in advance of us, for instance, we don’t
have a cow driven to our door, and see our quart of _milk drawn_, as we
did in the Via Roma, the Regent Street of Naples. You may have goat’s
milk if you like that better.

The outskirts of Naples are pretty undulating, you can never for long
lose sight of the bay or Vesuvius. By a drive of three or four miles to
the west, along the bay, you get a fairly good view of Naples, embracing
Pompeii and Herculaneum nestling insecurely at the foot of Vesuvius, but
not equal to the one as you enter the bay.

We were told the churches were not so gorgeous and rich as those of
Genoa, Pisa, or Rome, so we did not visit them. The only public building
of great interest is the Museum of Ancient Sculpture and Paintings; it
is large and well appointed, and contains more than any other public
building in Italy. I never was an enthusiast of sculpture until now, but
it was quite plain to see that the magnificent ideas arose from the old
heathen worship. The gods as heroes of strength; the Farnese Hercules
slaying the bull; the Gladiators achieving wonderful feats of their
scientific skill; Bacchus at his feasts; Adonis wooing Venus; Venus in
her various graceful attitudes; Bacchus in his youthful revelry;
Silenus, the fat jolly old man; the Dancing Graces, the Apollos, the
Jupiters, the colossal figures of horses and lions, hundreds of Roman
senators, statues in white marble draped in black or coloured marble;
statues buried for a thousand years, some sadly mutilated and placed in
position; ancient inscriptions, Mosaic work of wonderful effect,
galleries of pictures of immense canvas, huge libraries, rooms full of
papyri, coins, antique jewellery, bronzes, crystals, and cameos. We
spent some time in inspecting these, but we should have had a week, or
even a month.



                       [Illustration: Decoration]



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                       [Illustration: Decoration]



                                POMPEII.


THE base of Mount Vesuvius is about four miles from Naples. In going to
Pompeii you skirt the coast, having the burning mountain on the left.
Pompeii lies four miles further on the margin of the bay, so that if
another great eruption was to take place, with an east wind, Naples
might stand in the same danger as Pompeii; still they build houses and
villages and grow grapes up the mountain side. One village has been
destroyed no less than eight times. We did not go to see the crater, the
day we had to spare was not bright and clear, and the fatigue more than
two invalids cared to undertake. But we went to Pompeii. Within a few
minutes from leaving the railway station you reach a kind of hotel and
lodge, buy permission tickets, and take a guide. You enter by an arched
gateway, something like the ancient gates of Chester. The streets are
about as broad and steep as Watergate. Pompeii is about equal in area to
the ancient City of Chester. As you enter the gates you can see the deep
ruts of the two chariot wheels worn fully six inches into the solid
blocks of stone pavement. Their streets, which are straight and narrow,
strike each other at right angles, with a narrow parapet on each side.
The houses are of one storey, externally very plain–no projections or
balconies, but a simple doorway. You have to cross the threshold of the
houses to peer into the mode of life of these Pompeians, who were
suddenly swept out of existence on the 29th November, A.D. 79. Bulwer
Lytton has written a work on the supposed customs and habits of these
people. It would take a book to describe your reflections on this “City
of the Dead.” It has not the appearance of a city destroyed by fire; all
that has disappeared are the roofs, the doors, the people, and the
furniture. The walls and plaster for the most part are perfect, the
fountains and statues are there, the Mosaic floors are bright and clean,
and the fresco painting as bright as when it was done. It seems strange
that none of the present habitations of the Italians resemble those of
the ancients, so vastly different to the tall stuccoed houses of
Naples–one storey houses with an entrance hall, and an open courtyard
with large and small chambers entering from a piazza that skirted the
buildings. Some of the richer houses have an inner courtyard with a
garden in the centre, and different offices leading from it; while
others have engraved on stone the name of the owner. The Forum, or
principal open square, seems to have suffered most; broken pillars and
Corinthian columns are scattered about the halls of justice and the
judge’s vacant seat; the dungeon where two prisoners, fettered, were
discovered a few years ago in a state of petrifaction–they had been left
to their fate on that fearful night. There are many public buildings
around the Forum, and the Latin tablets referring to the business
carried on in them; the steps that time and bustle and business had
worn; the Pagan temples with their tables of sacrifice, are still to be
seen. Then there are the theatres–the day theatre open to the sky, and
the night theatre covered. The tickets of admission were rather
peculiar, for instance, the musicians’ had a lyre, those for the upper
galleries a pigeon, and free tickets a skull–all were carved ivory
tokens. At the outskirts of the town is the amphitheatre, which held
30,000 people, where senators used to harangue their constituents and
gladiators fought their deadly fights, where prisoners were brought from
their cells to fight with and to be torn to pieces by hungry wild
beasts. They have the street of Fortune and the street of Merchants. You
see the wine shop displaying its sign, an earthenware jar, and inside
you see the same seats, the same wine jars, empty and desolate. The
habitués are not there discussing the topics of the day or revelling
with the fulness of the wine cup; they are gone eighteen centuries ago.
There is the apothecary’s shop with its sign–the twisted serpent, and
bakeries with deep brick ovens. In some respects fashions have not
altered much, in a baker’s oven were found black charred loaves with the
baker’s name stamped on them, the same squat shape as you see carried
about the streets of Naples to-day, and known in England as cottage
loaves; from the same oven they shew you a young sucking pig, petrified
to stone, that was there cooking for some one’s supper, in their hurry
and confusion they left this dainty morsel behind. When a workman was
one day using a pick he struck something hollow, it was found when
examined to be in shape like a human body. Several of these hollow
shells were afterwards exhumed, for safety and preservation they were
filled with liquid plaster of paris. The fine ashes and the moisture of
the body together formed this human shell a man in the act of running,
with a key in one hand and some money in another. There is a beautifully
formed girl of seventeen, her face turned a little on one side, with
sweet innocent features clearly defined, with her hair dressed with
girlish coquetry; a boy of twelve has fallen on his face, and there he
lay. There was the body of a dog found with a collar round its neck in
the vestibule of a house; the poor dog must have died hard, it has
rolled over in its agony, and lies on its back with its mouth open, its
limbs violently contorted, and the whole frame twisted and wrenched in a
manner to denote severe pain. There was a girl found, with a golden
clasp brooch bearing the name of Julia Diamede, said to be the daughter
of one of the rich men of the city, whose house gives an idea of his
wealth from its costly fittings discovered. These wonderful relics are
shewn you in a small museum erected in Pompeii. You see the baths with
the niches and seats for undressing, with nails to hang up their
clothes; you are shewn the so-called Turkish bath, but what was really
the ancient Roman bath, with its small stone seats upon which to sit
while waiting for the hot air to induce perspiration.

There is abundance of proof that the people of Pompeii were steeped in
degradation and vice, for the frescos and inscriptions were such that
they have been moved from the view of women and children.

In the Museum Nationale, Naples, they have a Pompeii section; it
contains almost everything you would find in a broker’s shop–pots, pans,
fish hooks, money chests, candelabras, buckets, handsome cloak clasps
(same as lately worn, and now produced in Birmingham by the gross),
cooking stoves, braziers, charred walnuts, barley, olives with the drop
of oil caused by the heat to stand out, a _glass bottle of oil_, eggs,
onions, dates, pears, tortoises, corks, portion of a woman’s dress
finely woven like merino, hinges, locks, taps, a circulating hot-water
boiler with brass tap, a cooking apparatus similar to the French Bain
Marie pan of the present day, leaden pipes, scales and weights, the
metal pen supposed to have been a modern English invention, the safety
pin, which is now so largely made in Birmingham for use in the nursery;
a banker’s paper, receipts for money, a mass of copy in papyrus,
legends, treaties, forceps, lances, probes, speculum and different
doctor’s instruments, medicine phials, dice, and hundreds of articles
supposed to be newly invented, and sold nowadays as novelties. The
cameos and intaglios are of such rich and exquisite work that our modern
lapidaries cannot equal them.



                       [Illustration: Decoration]



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                       [Illustration: Decoration]



                                 ROME.


AS you roll into the big railway station, and hear the sonorous voice of
the railway porter pronounce _Roma_, there is an inward feeling of
reverence and pride that you have reached Rome–“The Eternal City.” It
was late in the evening when we arrived, and so we took up our quarters
at the Hotel Continental, a large and modern hotel, situated on a high
part of the town–one of the seven hills–and where malaria is not likely
to find its way.

There is a Mr. Forbes resident in Rome, who conducts and lectures to
parties on the spot, at points of interest; he takes a week to do the
city.

As we had only two or three days to stay we had a guide of our own. When
I bought a pair of easy boots for walking, my companion enquired what
commission he would get; this gave him great offence, he said he was a
gentleman, a rich man–proud men are these Romans. In driving through the
streets of Rome, there appears to be nothing of a very remarkable
character. You require to know its brilliant history, and the deeds of
its patriots and rulers You may lazily climb up the hill leading to the
Forum, but if you are interrupted and told that on this spot Cæsar was
murdered, or on that spot his friend Anthony delivered his oration, you
are impressed. You require to live a few days in Rome to get through the
preface of the story of its eventful history. This history should be
divided into three eras–Ancient Rome, the time of its supreme greatness;
Old Rome, or the middle ages and the supremacy of the Popes; and New
Rome, since the entry of Garibaldi. I intend to say little about this
wonderful place; I am unable to do so, as it is too classical, I will
only give just a rough and crude idea of what attracted my attention.

There is not a great deal of Ancient Rome left––the old buildings appear
to have been knocked down, levelled up, and new and mean streets built
over the top. In the dark ages they seem to have had no regard to the
grandeur of Ancient Rome, they buried up the massive columns and
statuary, and built up the present New Rome over them, so that many of
the places laid bare are ten or twelve feet below the present street
level, especially in the neighbourhood of the Forum of Trajan and the
Pantheon, and whenever they are re-building in this part of the city
they come across some old relic or other. We visited the Roman Forum,
the Triumphal Arch of Titus, the Arch of Constantine, the remains of the
great Colosseum that once seated 90,000 Romans, and the Temple of Castor
and Pollux. We crossed the Tiber by Adrian’s Bridge, built A.D. 136, to
the Castle of St. Angelo, now so called, but really the Tomb of Trajan.
The Tiber is a muddy, sleepy-looking river, with about the same volume
of water as the Dee, at Chester, or scarcely as much.

The Pantheon, once a Pagan temple but now a church, is the only ancient
building left in a state fit for use; its walls are of brick twenty feet
thick, with an opening in centre of dome, as the only means of lighting
the interior. It contains the tomb of the late King Victor Emmanuel, and
other memorials, including one to Canova, the sculptor, and is used also
as a chapel. All the other remains are in a dismantled, ruined state,
every thing that was costly has disappeared.

The Colosseum for centuries was used as a stone quarry. When foundation
and other stones were wanted for a new church they were there ready for
the builder; and in like manner the columns and slabs of marble that had
been brought from Greece and many parts of the earth, for the public
buildings, are now in St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s, St. John’s, and the other
churches in Rome. I cannot attempt to describe St. Peter’s, except that
it is considered the largest, grandest, and most costly building in the
world–taking twenty million francs to pay for it–and will hold 45,000
people. It took 300 years to complete, and although finished 300 years
ago, it looks as bright and clean as if it had been perpetually under a
glass shade and sponged down every morning. Every proportion about it is
gigantic–there is nothing small or paltry that would assist you in
realising its immensity. You see a figure inside the church, it looks
life size, but go up to it and you will find it twenty or thirty feet
high.

St. Peter’s contains no oil paintings, as in most churches. The
Ascension, by Raphael, and all the other pictures of like size are of
Mosaic, prepared and executed in the Vatican; each picture is made up of
thirteen millions of small fragments of tinted Mosaics, and it takes an
artist thirty years to complete one. The ashes of St. Peter are, or are
said to be, here, under a bronze canopy, beneath the centre of the great
dome–this canopy is 96 feet high, and is of solid bronze, taken from the
Pantheon 270 years ago–the Cross of Christ, from Calvary; the
handkerchief with the print of His face still visible; the spear the
Roman soldier pierced His side with. This soldier, we were told,
happened to have a blind eye, on which a drop of blood fell from the
point of the spear, and instantly restored that orb. He was made a
saint, and his effigy now stands fifty feet high under the great dome.
We listened with wonder and amazement and tried to believe. It was
Saturday, and the church was nearly empty, excepting a few hundreds of
priests, and a beggar-like looking woman with her shoeless, ragged
children; she dragged these children through this pile of grandeur with
open mouths and eyes, perhaps wondering if heaven could be grander than
this.

Rome is built on seven hills–the Pincian Quirinale, the Capitol, and
Mount Palatine. From the Pincian Hill–the Hill of Gardens–you get the
best view of the Old City, the Corsa, and the River. From Mount Palatine
you get the best view of the Ruins of Ancient Rome, the Forum, the
Colosseum, the different Temples and Arches, the Capitol, while, turning
your face, the view is very fine–the Campana stretching twenty miles
crossed by the Appian way, and the great aqueducts, now partially broken
down, that carried the waters from the distant mountains of Albany,
twenty-five miles away; across the plain are mounds of stone, very faint
traces of the days of Titus, when Rome is supposed to have had a
population of three-and-a-half millions, while a few hundred years later
it had scarcely twenty thousand. The fountains are, perhaps, one of the
wonders of the city. Hundreds of thousands gallons of water gush out in
the gardens of Mount Palatine, it comes out again at the Capitol, again
at the Quirinale, and again in a lower part of the city. There is
perhaps no city in the world with such an abundant water supply, so
beautifully dispersed by magnificent fountains. We saw King Humbert, on
his birthday, driving out in the Park of the Villa Borghese; we saw the
Via Nationale of New Rome, illuminated in Parisian style. We strolled
down the Corsa, with its well-stocked shops. In the Café de Roma you
will get a mid-day meal equal to any in Europe if you like Italian
cooking. The Corsa is a sort of Piccadilly and Regent Street mixed, and
it contains the best shops and mansions. The Piazza de Spragna is the
artists’ quarters–it is a sort of Bond Street. Shop after shop with
works of art, pictures, Mosaics, sculpture, photographs; here it is you
see the Roman living models flitting about–the good-looking woman with
her troop of roguish-looking children; the old man; the old woman; the
dark eyes of the young girl of Roman type of beauty, dressed in the
picturesque and highly-coloured garb of the surrounding country
districts, are all to be seen in this centre.

We had to leave Rome before we had seen a tenth of the pictures, and
statues, and bronzes. We began to like the place, and could have done
with a week here, but the steamer “Candia,” for Malta, sailed on
Tuesday, so we bid good bye to Rome, and passed another night in that
villainous Naples. Surely this is one of the wickedest places on earth.
We speak of England, its drunkenness, and the wretchedness caused by
drink, but go there and see the degradation; they don’t drink, but the
poor wretches will gamble with their last franc. The banco lotto you see
in a prominent part of every street, as you do in Rome, where the
offices are open for the sale of tickets, even on Sundays. The
Government realise fourteen millions per annum from these lotteries. The
obscenities and vice that meet you at every street corner are so
shocking that it would make an Englishman shudder with disgust.

One curiosity you see in Naples I was almost forgetting, that is the
money changers. These relics of antiquity are at the corners of the
streets, seated in a wooden box, with piles of copper and other coins,
plying their trade. Under the portico of the Theatre Carlo another
antique relic still exists. With skull cap and silver spectacles, the
letter writer with his table, pens, ink, and paper, is always there, and
appears to enjoy a good practice writing business as well as love
letters for his customers. We were told that not more than one-third of
the Italians can read or write.

I have said unkind words about Naples, and she deserves them, but being
once more in the bay she looked most enchanting. It was a fine clear
evening when we steamed out of the bay, and took our last view of
Vesuvius as we rounded the point into the open sea. Early next morning
we found Stromboli busy throwing up her dense smoke. We had two pleasant
days in the Straits of Messina, calling at Messina, in the Island of
Sicily, thence to Reggio, almost the extreme southerly point of Italy,
returning to Messina, thence to Catania and Syracuse. In driving through
the town of Catania we were struck with the peculiarity of its stuccoed
buildings, with Mount Etna standing boldly out as a good background,
sending forth its volumes of smoke and steam, yet capped with snow and
wreathed in clouds. Here we saw the fine monument erected to Bellini,
the composer, Catania being his birthplace; around the pedestal are four
life-sized figures in white marble, being principal characters from some
of his operas. The harness of the horses is very gay, being one mass of
coloured and gold or brass brocade, with a very peculiar collar covered
completely with polished brass and bells. The carts are mostly painted
yellow, the panels decorated with brilliant landscapes of the locality.
You see scores of these carts coming down to the harbour from Mount Etna
laden with the yellow sulphur of commerce, the whole presenting a scene
unique and pleasing. We drove through the principal streets to look at
the people and the place, and were stared and jabbered at, as we
supposed, as though we were barbarians. We visited the gardens which
were beautifully laid out and full of flowers, returning thence to our
steamer after the usual wrangle with the cabby, who, like his London
brother, asks for more than he is entitled to, but, thanks to the
offices of a Maltese gentleman who was with us, he did not get more than
he deserved, at least in hard cash if he did in hard words. Another
twenty-four hours brought us up to the Mole in the Bay of Valetta, in
Malta. Although 2,000 miles away from home, we felt as if we were in
England, especially when we first saw the familiar red coats with white
Indian helmets, and the fife and drum struck up “The Girl I left Behind
me.” I had almost forgotten this was not the first time we came across
the British uniform, for at Syracuse some enterprising outfitter had
purchased the scarlet shell jackets of the British cavalry, which were
now on the backs of the howling Syracusian boatmen, minus the buttons.

We stayed three days in Malta, made a tour of inspection round the
fortifications, had a chat with the British soldier, sounded him as to
his politics and the present Government, and found him right. We visited
the Dried Monks, at the Monastery of the Capuchins. We were taken down
into the basement, where, along the walls of the corridors, we saw rows
of monks, each in his particular niche. One had been there nearly 800
years, and did not seem to object, indeed, he had lost some of “his
cheek.” These monks, when a brother dies, bury him for twelve months
without a coffin, and then dis-inter him and bring him to his particular
stand-point before allotted, and label as brother Anselmo or whatever
name he bore when alive. Our guide pointed out the particular niche
reserved for himself. The draught blowing along the corridor, and not
being anxious to take into our open mouths of wonder any dried monk, we
retraced our footsteps and ascended to scenes brighter and more
salubrious.

The races by Arab horses mounted by British officers were very good.
Twenty-four horses started, and all came in neck and neck to the winning
post; they also rode what is called an omnibus race, two riders on one
horse; also the wardrobe race, each rider putting on his braces,
waistcoat, and jacket as he rode, before reaching the winning post. The
tent pegging and lemon slicing was quite new to us.

The P. and O. boats from Australia, calling at Malta, are the best
service, so we took our berths to Gibraltar, a passage of four days. The
“Indus” carried about one hundred cabin passengers, principally
colonists. We were never out of sight of land the whole distance, first
skirting the African Coast off Tunis, then Algiers, Fez, and Morocco,
all picturesque and interesting. A lady remarked they had been coasting
Africa for a fortnight, at 12½ knots, and yet had three days more to do,
which gives a very faint idea of what a Continent we were passing. We
passed a whale spouting in these seas. Before nearing Gibraltar the
course directed to the Spanish Coast, and during this portion of the
voyage we had the boldest coast we had ever seen.

Gibraltar is only a rock of about 1,200 feet, but it is more picturesque
than Malta. It is not very unlike the Great Ormes Head from some points
of view, but looks bolder. The base of the hill is studded with pretty
villas, these are occupied mostly by English Officers and their
families. The space for the town is very small; the markets and houses
are all within the fortifications. There are about 4,000 Spanish allowed
to live here on sufferance, but are liable to be ejected at a moment’s
notice.

The principal feature of Gibraltar is its natural fortifications. The
Rock is pierced with two tunnels, called the Upper and Lower Gallery.
From these tunnels cannon are fixed at all points of defence. A sergeant
told us that it would take all the powers of Europe combined to take
Gibraltar.

We stayed here two days, and then shipped on the Cunard S.S. “Morocco.”
We had a fair passage–about two nights and two-and-a-half days in the
Bay of Biscay, with a head wind N.E., doing five knots per hour. I had
often wished to see the rollers of the Bay, and I saw them. They were so
grand that they took away the appetite I should have had for my dinner.
It was on the Thursday morning preceding Good Friday that we rounded
Holyhead.

We had not had any English news for a fortnight, because it takes six
days to go to Gibraltar and six back. We cleared the Bar and steamed
into the Alexandra Dock, after being away for six weeks and three days,
and, as my companion had carefully calculated, covered over 5,000 miles.



                         [Illustration: ENDE.]



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                  ------------------------------------

        E. GRIFFITH AND SON, PRINTERS, CAXTON WORKS, BIRKENHEAD.

                      ----------------------------



------------------------------------------------------------------------



 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was corrected.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.
    ○ Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).





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