Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

summer; and they do enjoy it most thoroughly. The buildings usually cover an immense extent of They may then be said to live in the open air : all ground; and the streets are very wide, and laid out the use they make of their houses is to sleep in them, at right angles. Some of the palaces are built of for they take all their meals in the garden or verandah marble; one building in particular, the Hermitage, Picnics are largely indulged in, and with impunity, has in its construction an amazing quantity of this for the weather is settled—they have a beautiful, costly material. It contains a vast number of rooms, clear, blue sky, and brilliant sun for weeks together. nearly all of which have columns, floor, and walls of

The summer is hotter than it is here, but the Rus- marble, each room having a different colour. The sians do not feel the heat so much as we do. There, Hermitage adjoins the Winter Palace. It contains a it is dry, clear, and exhilarating, and constant. Occa- most valuable and highly interesting collection of sionally, they are subjected to rapid changes, but curiosities, old jewellery, vases, statuary, and paintings. not often ; though at St Petersburg, it is excessively hot There is a vast number of institutions in St Petersduring the day, and so cold at night that you are burg; among which, deserving of special mention, are obliged to wear an overcoat. The summer evenings the Orphan Asylum, and a very valuable Museum of and nights in Russia are wonderfully beautiful. Mines. The monuments and statuary are remarkably The air is so calm, clear, soft, and subdued, and it fine. The chief street in St Petersburg is the Newsky. remains light for so long, that you feel inclined to Prospect; this is perhaps half as wide again as Regent linger in the open air all night, and turn into bed Street, and is almost three miles long.

In some with regret. In Riga, I have been able to read a respects, it is a more magnificent street than Regent letter at half-past ten at night; and at St Petersburg Street, but it is spoiled by the peculiar shops. They it is quite light for several nights. The summer is mostly have one on the ground-floor, to which you about as long as ours, but it appears shorter in have to ascend a few steps, and another on the baseconsequence of the shortness of the spring and ment, to which you have to descend; and they are autumn. During the summer, there is a profusion of profusely decorated outside with signboards, on flowers, fruit, and vegetables, similar to our own. An which are painted representations of some of the Englishman misses the beautiful spring and autumn goods to be had within ; for instance, the upper shop of England, but he is more than recompensed by will perhaps have boards on which are represented the splendid summer and winter. The climate of various articles of fur, and the lower one will have Russia is certainly preferable to that of England; gorgeous representations of cheese, ham, candles, but there is one slight drawback to the summer- soap, sugar, &c. This sadly detracts from the beauty it breeds mosquitoes. Some writers assert that of the street. the houses in Russia swarm with insects. This is The theatres are very fine buildings. The Opera a ridiculous exaggeration. The Russians adopt House at St Petersburg is about the same size as the sensible plan of living in flats. The rooms of Covent Garden ; and that at Moscow is, I believe, the higher classes are furnished in the French style, the largest, most commodious, and handsomest theatre but those of the middle class are usually furnished in in the world. But the great glory of St Petersburg a very plain and tasteless manner, and almost inva- is St Isaac's Church. I can assure my readers, it riably without carpets. They have a peculiar way of is worth a journey to this city solely to see this decorating their ceilings by stencilling or painting, and the magnificent granite quays. The cost of which is usually done with very great taste, and has that magnificent church was enormous: the amount a very pretty effect; and they have the floors is not known, but it is stated that the foundation painted or inlaid. The houses are usually made of alone cost two hundred thousand pounds, so many wood, and the roofs are frequently covered with sheet- piles being required, owing to the boggy nature of the iron, painted green or red, which gives them a pictur- soil. It is built of marble, and is in the form of a esque appearance. They have a custom of calling Greek cross; it has four equal sides ; four peristyles, houses after the names of the proprietors, but they the pillars of which are of polished granite, sixty feet are now likewise numbered ; and it is customary to high, and seven feet in diameter, and the capitals are pay rent in advance.

of bronze. The steps are made out of enormous masses There are two things in which the Russians are of polished granite, and the doors are magnificent very much behindhand-draining and paving. The specimens of bronze-casting. It is ornamented with paving in most of the towns is execrable; it a large central dome and four smaller ones, all of seems as if the chief care of the pavier was to which are gilded, and their appearance, when the sun place the stones the wrong side upwards ; conse- is shining on them, is extremely beautiful. This is quently, walking about the streets is most irk- the first object that meets your gaze when going to St some and tormenting, and is sadly detrimental to Petersburg. The interior is gorgeous in the extreme: one's temper-particularly if you are troubled with it is composed of marble of various colours, and is

The only time when one can walk with any most profusely ornamented with gilding, paintings, degree of comfort is when the snow is on the ground. and wonderful mosaics. The paving in St Petersburg is generally pretty good,

In all Greek churches, there is a gorgeous screen, but owing to the boggy nature of the soil, it is con called the Iconostasis, behind which is the Holy of stantly in need of repair. The idea of building a city Holies. This screen in St Isaac's is extremely on the site of St Petersburg was downright madness. splendid; it is profusely gilded, has columns of It is a dismal swamp; it is subjected to terrible inun- malachite fifty feet high, two smaller columns of dations; the foundation is very insecure; and it is lapis-lazuli, and some large mosaics of saints, so unhealthy. The city is magnificent, but is spoiled by exquisitely done that I at first thought they were its situation. It is built on a level plain, and inter- paintings. In the lantern of the dome is a dove sected by the river Neva and numerous canals. The with outstretched wings, cut out of white marble; entrance to St Petersburg by the river offers a strong so beautiful, that you regard it almost with veneracontrast to the Thames at London. Instead of a tion. In all Greek churches are paintings of the tilthy river, they have one limpid and clear; instead Saviour, the Virgin, and some of the saints. They of dirty, dingy wharfs and warehouses, they have are very peculiar, the face and hands alone being rows of palaces, handsome public buildings, and visible, the remainder of the picture being covered magnificent mansions; and instead of muddy banks, with thin sheets of gold, silver, or gilt, made to repreand narrow, filthy streets and alleys, they have sent the clothing and head-dress. These pictures are magnificent granite quays and wide streets. Although called Eikons. The Russians have a great veneration St Petersburg contains but about six hundred thou for them; they are not only inside the churches, but sand inhabitants, yet it is of enormous extent, and outside, and in various public thoroughfares; they necessitates a liberal use of droskies and omnibuses. I have a small lamp burning in front, and are placed in

corns.

a kind of shed, or in a glass-case. No orthodox are expected to confess once a year-at Easter. It Russian will pass one without stopping, doffing his has our Lord's Prayer, commandments, and belief. hat, making sundry bows, and crossing himself. They Their catechism, and the formula of the duties of likewise hang them up in a corner of their shops, parish priests, are admirable, and worthy of any rooms, and public offices.

creed. They allow the most perfect toleration, except I mentioned the screen called the Iconostasis. A to their own apostates, against whom they are very singular regulation in connection with this is, that no severe, but no proselytising is permitted. Their woman is ever allowed to enter it. To a stranger, priests are called popes, and are obliged to marry, but there appears to be a great deal of superstition mixed are not allowed to marry twice. They have terribly up with their religion; they seem to pay much more long fasts, that extend altogether from twenty-six attention to the forms and ceremonies than to the to twenty-eight weeks in the year, and some of them spirit of religion. In the church is a stall for the are very long and exceedingly severe, particularly the sale of tapers, which the congregation are continually one before Easter, which lasts for seven weeks. The purchasing during the service, and sticking in candle- emperor is the head of the church. They have a sticks before the pictures of the saints. The service curious custom of blessing almost everything-houses, of the Greek Church is particularly fatiguing, for rivers, animals, flowers, bread, &c. The blessing of there are no seats, and the number of bows, crossings, the rivers is most peculiar. On a certain day in and genuflexions are endless. The service is very January, they cut a large hole in the ice, over which peculiar. They have no organ, but a great deal of chant- they erect a canopy. A grand procession leaves the ing; the prayers are read in the Slavonic tongue, which church, and proceeds to this spot, when the bishop the people do not understand; and if they did, they blesses the river. At the conclusion of the ceremony, are delivered with such amazing volubility as to be the people rush forward with pitchers to obtain some almost, if not quite incomprehensible. At twelve of the holy-water, which they carry home in triumph, o'clock on the Saturday night previous to Easter believing it to be efficacious for the purification of Sunday, there is a grand dramatic exhibition in all their houses, and the curing of distempers. A bowl the Russian churches : it is to represent the resur- of this water is carried before the bishop on his return rection of our Saviour; and very novel, striking, and to the church, into which he continually dips a kind grand it is. The archbishop in full canonicals, wear- of whisk, and sprinkles the bystanders on each side ing his mitre; the numerous priests habited in cloth of him. of gold; the various banners and other ornaments; At a burial, they do not issue invitations, but the incense, and the beautiful chanting, make a tout insert an advertisement in the newspaper. The ensemble never to be forgotten. After many prayers, friends and acquaintances then go to the house forms, and ceremonies have been gone through, they to see the corpse lying in state, and, on the day form a grand procession, and leave the church, round of the funeral, join in the procession. The coffin which they walk three times. They are supposed to resembles an ornamental box, highly decorated; for be seeking the body of Jesus. On their return, the an adult, it is generally covered with black or purple archbishop stands at the altar, and joyfully com- velvet; but for a young person it is pink or white, municates to the congregation that Christ is risen.' with a quantity of ornaments and wreaths of flowers. Then there is a general congratulation. The highest It is borne to the grave on a bier having a rich in rank among them advances to the archbishop and canopy of black velvet carefully arranged. A piece exchanges kisses with him, and then kisses the crucifix of paper is put into the hands of the corpse, which is which the archbishop presents to him; the others a kind of certificate from the priest—a passport to advance, according to their rank, and do the like; and heaven. A Riga merchant was in great dread lest then the remainder of the congregation rush forward he should be buried alive, and in order to guard for the same ceremony. The bells ring out a joyful against such a terrible disaster, he had a catacomb peal; the steeples are illuminated, and general joy made for himself, outside which was a bell, the wire reigns around. By the by, whenever a priest gives of which was placed at the head of his coffin, so that, anything to the bishop, or takes anything from him, in the event of his waking up, he might ring for he always kisses his hand. At this time, the usual assistance. But there was very little chance of his salutation of a Russian is, 'Christ is risen,' and the waking, for when I saw him, a few months ago, both reply is, 'Risen indeed ; and then the two friends he and his shroud appeared exactly as if made out of will take off their caps and embrace each other several plaster of Paris. There was every facility for seeing times. They have likewise a custom of giving or him, as he had ordered two wide and long strips of exchanging eggs. These are boiled hard, and then window-glass to be let into the lid of the coffin. coloured, gilded, or silvered, but some of them are The bells of the Russian churches are a most artificial, and contain a handsome present; if you abominable nuisance; they have several, from a little present an egg to a lady, she is bound to exchange muffin-bell to a full, deep-toned, funeral-knell, and kisses with you. It was told to some of the English these are jangled indiscriminately, and make a most who had newly arrived, that the practice of the ladies discordant din. kissing the gentlemen was usual in the church at the conclusion of the before-mentioned ceremony, and several of them went there on speculation ; but, to

LOST AND FOUND. their extreme disgust, they found they had not It was in old King Ferdinand's time that the Hecla embraced the right opportunity.

frigate, of which

I was second-lieutenant, was ordered It may be worth while to glance at the tenets to reinforce the British squadron at anchor off Naples. of the Greek faith. Formerly, the Greek and Roman His Neapolitan majesty was only too glad to see us, Catholic churches were both one. There were four for storms were understood to be lowering in the patriarchal chairs-- Rome, Alexandria, Jerusalem, political world, and the intrigues of the Muratist and Constantinople—each being independent of the party, and those of the secret societies of Carbonari, other; but on the elevation of Gregory VI. to the kept shaking his throne. We were the allies in whom chair of Rome, a rivalry ensued between him and the he most trusted, and an urgent request had been patriarch of Constantinople for the leadership of the pressed upon the Percival ministry to strengthen the whole Christian world, and a separation then took Heet then lying in the Bay of Naples. place. The Greek Church differs from the Roman Our reception was pleasant enough, for the great Catholic in several respects. It rejects the dogma of gay capital of Southern Italy was then at its gayest. purgatory, yet it allows prayers for the dead; it Ferdinand liked his people to amuse themselves, since forbids graven images, yet it permits pictures; and merry-makings were believed to keep them from the it ignores dispensations and indulgences. The people exercise of free-thought, and life seemed a perpetual

It was

holiday. We, the officers of the British ships-of-war, constant mirth of the carnival. Besides, we had had our full share of the diversions of the place, and given Naples a grand display of naval evolutions—had were, for the most part, content enough to look at the sailed and tacked, crossed the bay, and rounded the surface of things, and to conclude that the old king- point_had performed a sham-fight, shaking doors the 'royal lazzarone,' as the French faction had some and windows with the thunder of our heavy cannonwhat maliciously named the shrewd, uneducated, old and had finally swept off on a short cruise that took Bourbon-really knew what was best for his people. us within sight of Sicily, before we returned to our If they were dirty, they were light of heart; if they anchorage under shadow of St Elmo. were ragged, lazy, crafty, and had all the vices and none At last I found myself springing up the dusty stairs of the virtues of barbarians, at least they were pictur- of the great old house in which Bolton lodged. A esque, quick-witted, and always ready to amuse our curious house it was, being a stately mansion that had fun-loving middies, by diving for small coin flung into once belonged to some Spanish grandee of the seventhe sea, or by eating as many yards of macaroni as teenth century, whose coat-of-arms, chipped by the the wits of our cockpit chose to treat them to. chisels of the republican French, was still discernible

Meanwhile the opera was brilliant, the ballet better over the arched entrance. The windows that lighted than any other in Europe ; there were splendid recep the stair were dim and dirty ; the broad, shallow tions at court, in the palaces of the nobility, at the stone steps, and the massy marble banisters, were various embassies, and on board the men-of-war in villainously in want of broom and scrubbing-brush; the roadstead, where the white decks, roofed over and in the many stories were accommodated a banker, with flags and laurels, made the finest possible arena a vice-consul, an upholsterer, a jeweller who made for a dance. All went merrily and well.

filigree-work in gold and silver, three professors of There was a dark side to the picture ; but this we dancing or tongues, several artisans, and more than did not, for the most part, see or care to see.

one wretchedly poor family of semi-mendicants, to not only that the people were degraded and abjectly say nothing of Bolton, who had a noble north window superstitious, proner to beg than work, more disposed to his studio, and a fair suite of rooms. It was one to pilfer or extort a baioccho, and then lie in the sun of those huge cavernous Italian houses, built for a for hours, languidly munching a cheap slice of water- prince's use, and inhabited by the population of a melon, than to earn an honest meal and decent home. hamlet; and I never ceased to marvel at its quaint It was not only that monks and mendicants seemed arrangements. to outnumber the actual labourers of the soil, that I tapped at the studio door, and on being bidden to the mountains swarmed with brigands, and that the come in,' found my friend before his easel, painting, roads which the French had made were fast falling into while before him stood two models, the outline of decay. Not only this, but justice was bought and sold; whose forms he had already transferred to the canvas. crimes were daily winked at by the corrupt magis- They were a blind old woman and her daughter. I trates of the country; in the remote provinces, have used the word 'old' somewhat at random, peralthough several years had elapsed since Murat's haps, though the gray hair and wrinkled brow of the capture and death, the poniards of the Sanfedesti elder female warranted the epithet ; but in Italy, were frequently reddened with the blood of reputed women fade early, especially in the lower ranks of Liberals, for whose murder no account was ever life, and more especially if distress of mind be added demanded by those in authority. Not only this, but to the effects of poverty and the dry climate. A the jails were full—not of the robbers who beset the closer inspection shewed that the elder of the two highways, but of the most useful and energetic citizens models was not beyond middle age, and was a tall of Naples, men whose only crime, in many cases, was and finely moulded figure, erect and dignified, with a some rash expression of opinions at variance with the look of touching resignation on her classically regular traditions of Bourbon royalty.

features. She stood, holding a distaff of the rude old I had a friend, in whose studio near the Chiaia-he Italian pattern, her sightless eyes turned towards the was a young English artist-I often idled away an painter, and her left hand resting on the shoulder of hour pleasantly enough. I had known Edward Bolton her young daughter, a slight, graceful girl of seven. ever since he came up, a little flaxen-headed lad, to teen, with dark hair, and a modest, gentle look that join the 'petties’ at Charterhouse. I was then myself enhanced the rare beauty of her face. A lovely face a fifth-form boy, being Ned's senior by a good many it was; and the strangest thing to me was that I years ; but his parents were friends of my own, and seemed to know it well, and yet I felt certain I had he was put under my protection, and became my fag. never met the girl before. At last the truth flashed Bolton turned out a very clever youngster—not that across me: I had seen and admired that face in many his scholarship was ever remarkable, but that his of Bolton's sketches ; I had even quizzed him about abilities as an artist forced their way, in spite of all the frequency with which he had drawn it; and lo! possible snubbing and discouragement. And after a here was the original, to whom the student's pencil course of study at Rome, having with some difficulty had hardly done justice. persuaded his reluctant relations to consent to his Ned signed to me to sit down, and we held a sort following what was manifestly his natural vocation, of disjointed conversation for half an hour, when the he had established himself at Naples.

sitting came to an end, and the models retired. I Ned Bolton was not absolutely dependent on his thought my own presence caused them some embarprofession; he had an allowance from home, and rassment, as they took their leave, and in a greater would inherit a small competence in due season, but, degree was this the case with Bolton, who followed to do him justice, he worked as if his whole reliance his late visitants out to the landing-place to exchange had been upon brush and colours. His choice of a few hurried words at parting. I could not help subjects was rather desultory as yet: he sat sur- bantering my friend on his supposed susceptibility, rounded by scraps of mythology, sketches of golden- and the more so that I saw him wince and fidget, haired saints and gaunt martyrs, exquisite bits of and make awkward efforts to turn the conversation. marine views or mountain scenery; but his talent * The contadina [both women were in the picturesque was patent and notable, even to ignorant eyes like peasant-dress) is pretty enough to turn any one's mine.

head, I admit;' said I mercilessly; but I thought It happened that some weeks had passed without you above such a solecism in art, Ned, as to be my paying Bolton my accustomed visit. There had bewitched by a model, hired at so many carlini an been a press of invitations from members of the gay hour. Raphael and Fornarina! ha, ha!' and hospitable society of Naples-into which, from Hold your tongue, confound you !' shouted Ned, indolence or distaste, Ned did not enter-and I had stamping, and then held out his hand to me, adding almost forgotten the quiet studio in the noisy and with a kind laugh: 'I beg your pardon, Atherton, old fellow. I can't bear to hear that girl spoken of should not wonder if the worthy 'Maso were really in a disrespectful way. She might be my wife to- in difficulties, and ran away to avoid his creditors, morrow, if she chose; and so she would choose, dear deserting his family, as some of our scoundrels do at little thing, but for an absurd prejudice in her mother's home.' obstinate head, and Francesca is too good a daughter •I don't believe it,' said Ned bluntly. 'I went to disobey.'

to Torre, and found, on inquiry, that the man bore • Your wife !' said I, fairly sobered by such an the best of characters. He was a gentle, harmless avowal; 'you, Bolton, to marry a little Italian fellow, very industrious, and reputed to have saved peasant-maiden! What on earth would your mother money. I am afraid he was foully made away with, say to such a daughter-in-law ?'

perhaps to obtain possession of whatever little hoard Hereupon, Ned broke out into rhapsodies of inco- he may have concealed in a coppice, or buried in a herent talk, excusable in a lover, but rather trying garden, for these Neapolitans are like orientals in this to the patience of even a friendly listener. However, respect. But the old woman's resolution is a sad one I gathered the following facts. The name of the for me. I should have liked to procure Francesca elder woman was Luisa-her surname, like those of some education-she is quick at learning--and then many of the peasantry, having fallen into a sort of I am sure my mother would soon learn to be fond oblivion ; but she was a native of Torre del Greco, of her daughter-in-law, whose only fault is her and it was thought that she had seen better days. A peasant origin, and who is pretty enough and good series of misfortunes had reduced her to indigence. enough to be a fairy princess. Her husband, who united the trade of a carpenter This was all that Bolton said during our interview, to the care of a small farm and vineyard, as is not except the somewhat long-winded praises of Francesca unfrequent in that primitive region, had suddenly in which he indulged, and at which I could hardly and mysteriously disappeared. He had gone forth help yawning. to his labour in the vineyard one morning; and when Are all men in love so absurd, I wonder,' thought his wife went to call him to his dinner, noon having I, as I made my way down the darkling staircase. passed, he was missing. His jacket and straw-hat . To be sure, the girl seems worthy of the promotion and pruning-hook were found on a patch of trampled he offers her; and I can't help respecting the mother's ground, that bore evident marks of a struggle ; but sturdy independence of spirit-rather selfish, but their owner was nowhere to be found. Every exer- honest, at any rate. I wonder what will be the end tion was made to trace the missing man, but in vain, of it.' So saying, I turned into the street, and forgot and fresh evils soon succeeded. A grasping person. the whole affair. age in the neighbourhood, who had had dealings with A few days afterwards, I, with two others of the poor 'Maso, laid claim to the little property, in virtue Hecla's officers, got leave of absence, and proceeded of a pretended debt, and by bribing the district judge, to explore several of the more interesting localities obtained his suit.

near Naples. It was after a long morning spent among The poor cheated woman removed with her daughter the ruins of Pæstum, ruins of evil repute, on account to Naples, and for a time lived by needle-work, at of the murder of two young English travellers, Mr which she was expert; but her eyes had long been and Mrs H-, a few years before, that we heard failing, and her imprudent exertions brought on the rumours of an interesting sight among the crags of total loss of sight. However, just as actual beggary Mount Alburno. It was from a wandering German stared her in the face, a slight change for the better sculptor that we received this report, and he told us occurred. A friend was struck by the remarkable such marvels respecting some little-known Roman beauty of young Francesca's face, and had the sense baths, at a place called Villarossa, among the mounto see something worthy an artist's notice in the sad tains, that we could not help hiring mules and guides, dignity with which the mother herself bore the and setting out. We were four well-armed Englishreverses of fortune. This man was himself a model ; men, for the marine officer, who was of the party, had he recoinmended the mother and daughter to his brought his servant, a resolute fellow, and we did patrons, and before long there was quite a competition not accept the offer of an escort of carabiniers on the among the painters of Naples to secure sittings from part of the military authorities. Indeed, there was such admirable studies. Everybody was soon raving no serious danger. The mountaineers were cowed by about Francesca—the beauty of Torre del Greco, as the stern severity with which the murder I have they styled her--and if her little head had not been alluded to had been punished; and as we slowly steady, it would have been turned by flattery-but wound our way among the stony spurs of the hills, she is the dearest girl, sensible and good, and shrank we often caught sight of a gibbet, whereon swung in from the compliments of her admirers. Old Luisa, rusty chains the grisly skeleton of one of the band too, is a dragon in her way, proud as a duchess- by whom the crime was done. you might have noticed the carriage of her head- We were rather disappointed with Villarossa, so and won't stand any nonsense; so the pair won called from the red colour of the Roman brick and respect from everybody.'

tile of which its shattered buildings were composed. Ned went on to say that he had proposed to marry No doubt the baths and villas had once been tasteful Francesca, and to take kind care of the old woman and sumptuous; but constant depredations on the part for the remainder of her life-that he had gained the of those who wished to erect farmhouses or walls, daughter's consent, but could not make any impression and were too lazy to mould bricks or hew stones for on the mother's obstinate resolve, not to permit her themselves, had reduced the ancient structures to child to marry before the return of her lost father. mounds of rubbish. However, the scenery was fine, She persisted that 'Maso must be alive-he had no and the pure thin air of the hills was very refreshing enemies to murder him, was too poor to have pro- after the sultry heat of the low country. We found voked the cupidity of the brigands, too inoffensive the syndic of the place a very obliging person; he to have been a victim to the Sanfedesti. She was apologised for the shortcomings of the Roman ruius, sure he would come back; and till he did return to as if he had been personally to blame, invited us to his take care of his blind wife, she would never consent house, and finally devised for us a treat of a novel that Francesca should marry anybody, least of all an order. Inglese, however kind and generous, an Inglese who • Illustrious ones,' said the syndic, we have little might suddenly command his bride to accompany him to exhibit worthy your excellencies' attention. Were to his own country, where, as Luisa firmly believed, it the season, we could shew your honours good sport the sun never shone, and fruits and flowers were with our mountain-hares ; but now we have no unknown.

amusement to offer, unless your worships will con'A queer story!' said I, suppressing a smile. 'I descend to inspect our prison.

• Your prison ?'

harmless creature, gentlemen-officers, and that delu· Carissimo Inglese, yes; the prison of Villarossa. sion about his own identity is his only one. His brain Were it a place of confinement for common male- is out of tune on that one point-he maintains that factors, for poverini of smugglers, thieves, or clippers he is not the person sentenced, and denies that he is of our Lord Ferdinand's coin, I would not permit the real Carlo Barucci.' myself the suggestion ; but our tower is a place of • Is his sentence a long one?' note. It gives lodging to none but political offenders ; For life. Silly fellow, he must needs conspire and but that the lieutenant-governor is my cousin against our good king, and ecco! behold what comes brother (a relationship peculiar to Italy], I could not of it. Addio! noble sirs; I am the humblest servant obtain you admission.'

of your bountiful graces.' We visited the grim old tower, or rather collection So saying, the lieutenant-governor pocketed the few of towers, which served as the jail of Villarossa, and ducats we slipped into his hand, and gave us our which, by the Arabic flourishes carved over the arch money's worth in bows and gesticulations as we left of its gateway, was probably the erection of some of the terrace. But as we descended the rugged road, Manfred's Saracen colonists.

the head of the old captive was thrust out between There were about eighty prisoners, for the tower was the iron bars of a turret-window, and we could hear one of the smallest and least known of the prisonhim screaming to us that he was unjustly condemned, fortresses in the kingdom, and they were in a less that if the king knew it, he would be released, and deplorable condition than those aptives who were that he was suffering in the place of another. immured at Procida and elsewhere. Not that we did We pushed on, anxious to get away from the painful not see much to pain and shock us-not that the scene; but even when we reached the distant angle in state of the inmates was not one of chronic squalor the road where the tower was last perceptible, we and discomfort, but that the prisoners, if in rags, could see the poor lunatic's white hair fluttering in the were tolerably fed and not unduly crowded, and that wind, and hear the shrill cry with which he pursued there was evidently truth in the syndic's boast, that us, and of which the burden ever was: 'I am not his brother-cousin' was a humane man.

Carlo Barucci !' Most of those imprisoned were of the agricultural Some weeks passed by. Easter was over; and class-farmers or small proprietors; but there were such of us as could be spared from duty, of whom I among them several professional men, whose thread- was not one, had come back from Rome, after witnessbare coats and thoughtful faces contrasted with the ing the strange splendours of the Holy Week, when a dulled look of the contadini. Our entrance made a new whim took possession of the gay world of Naples ; little stir among the more intelligent of them, but this whim was no other than a passion for horseit soon died away when they found we were not racing, in the English style, and though ephemeral, it government officials ; and though they answered our was strong while it lasted. I believe the whole thing questions politely, they asked none in return. They originated in a sort of random handicap, which our were evidently almost dead to hope. As for the middies got up with the aid of any rawboned hack peasants there incarcerated, they eyed us with abso that they could obtain for cash or credit. But the lute indifference, until they saw us distributing cigars ambassador, Lord B-, happened to be a man of and other trifling luxuries, precious to a prisoner, sporting tastes; and there were several of the rich when they came eagerly up to clamour for their share. Neapolitan nobles, whose idleness chanced to take the

But there was one man who followed us to and form of a frenzy for the possession of blood-horses, fro, not speaking, but watching us with wistful eyes, tandems, grooms, and boule-dogs,' all equally English. and whose earnest face contrasted with the dull As for the king, he lent his hearty encouragement apathy of the others of his class, for he, though to any scheme which promised to afford a new amusedressed in patched garments of nondescript aspect, had ment to his subjects, and a new distraction to their still the dark sun-browned tinge of one used to thoughts ; and thus it was settled that there were to open-air labour, struggling with the pallor of sickly be races of all sorts and distances, and for prizes of all captivity. He was a hale man, not much bowed by values. age, but his hair was quite white, and his forehead Gentlemen-riders '--& word which continental deeply wrinkled. Such as he was, this man followed lovers of sport have adopted with a wider and vaguer us along the gallery in which all the prisoners, save meaning than it bears in England-were in high only half-a-dozen who were sick, were lodged ; but he request, for although the Marchesi and Principi of never addressed us until we were on the point of Naples owned many valuable horses, they had no idea leaving, when he sprang forward and caught the of riding them, and were wholly dependent on foreign marine officer, Maxwell

, by the sleeve, crying out : skill for winning the various cups and salvers which * For the love of Heaven, noble English, tell the great they already reckoned as their own. British jockeys Signori of Naples the truth. I am a most unhappy were not to be had, but it was firmly impressed on

I am innocent—the victim of a mistake. I am the Neapolitan mind that every Briton is a Centaur not Carlo Barucci !'

by right of his birthplace, and accordingly the younger * Briccone ! cur! pig viler than a Jew! hands off!' of the English residents, as well as the junior officers cried the turnkey, quite indignant at the captive's of the fleet, were obliged either to don the gay silk audacity, and shaking him violently, to compel him to jacket, or to make a mortifying confession of incalet go his gripe of Maxwell's sleeve. But we all pacity. interfered to prevent the poor old man from being I was among the former class. Sailors seldom roughly handled: there was genuine anguish in his ride well, but it happened that I had been very tone and manner, and we felt sorry for him.

familiar with horse-flesh ever since, at eight years old, 'Hear me, gentlemen. I am innocent-I swear it I followed hounds on my Shetland pony. This fact by the Thorns. I am not Carlo Barucci.'

was known in the Hecla's wardroom, and our purser I looked inquiringly towards the syndic and his introduced me to a wealthy landed proprietor who relative; the former tapped his forehead with a had come on board to seek an ally capable of backing significance which there was no mistaking, while the a vicious thoroughbred, Pyrrhus by name, which he latter laughed and arched his eyebrows, bidding his had bought at Rome, and which was considered warders remove the prisoner to a cell.

certain of winning the hurdle-race, a prize for which • Mad, of course, poor fellow ! Has he long was offered by the Duke of Salerno. been so ?' asked I of the lieutenant-governor, as we This Neapolitan gentleman was called the Cavaliere parted on the threshold of the jail.

--something or other; what I could not well make Another shrug and grin. * As long as I have been out, for our purser's Italian was defective, and he here-nine years,' said the functionary. 'A quiet, slurred over every word he did not fully comprehend;

man.

« AnteriorContinuar »