Page images
PDF
EPUB

66

room.

body else. We laughed and chatted, and appeared and, supposing it was time to get ready, I went to have known each other from childhood, so over to awake my companion, who, strange to say, familiar and easy were we together-I mean the slept like a top. I had to shake him, and bawl whole group-Monsieur Morn, from Anjou—the several times, before I could perceive the least young, nameless artist from Paris—the commer- sign of returning animation. When he did at cial traveller, and all. This last-mentioned gen- length awake, he gave a striking proof of his comtleman was a curious specimen of the Parisian mercial education ; for, supposing me to be a robcockney. He was taking a magnificent set of ber burst suddenly into the room, he cried out, in jewels from a house in Paris to Maria Louise, the extreme fear and agony, The man with the widow of Napoleon, at Parma ; and the fear of money and jewels is in the other bed!" A loud being robbed prompted him to conceal his treasure. shout of laughter from me convinced him he had The vanity of having been entrusted with it over- made a mistake. “So, my friend,” said I, “ you came his fear, and he exhibited the jewels at the have no objection to get my throat cut while you supper table. They were worth several thousand can save your own. However, that is not the pounds; and when he had been guilty of the in- question just now. Get up; all the travellers are discretion, he repented of it, and began to tremble in motion—we must dress and be off.”

On ringfor the result. His throat, he did not doubt, ing for a light, however, we found we had not yet would be cut before he reached his journey's end. been in bed full half an hour; so we enjoyed the In his eyes, every man around him became a rob- luxury of a second rest, and sweet sleep, on which, ber; and when he restored the case to his pocket, if I were writing an epic poem, I would bestow he did so with blanched cheeks, and hands almost as many fond and grateful epithets as Homer does. smitten with paralysis.

In fact, I am never weary of repeating, with SanHowever, we presented a striking contrast with cho Panza, “ Blessed be the man who invented the little knot of Englishmen in another part of the sleep! it wrappeth one about like a garment.”

They ate their supper, not exactly in si- So thought I and the commercial traveller, in the lence, but in something nearly akin to it, mutter-comfortable bedroom at Brigg. Still, between ing to each other every now and then between a sleeping and waking there is always a short intergrowl and a yawn, and looked as if they would val, which people, of course, employ according to have preferred being snug in Cheapside or May their fancy. I generally, at such moments, build Fair, or whatever other locality they belonged to. castles in the air; and most magnificent castles We, on the other hand, half intoxicated with ani- they often are, too, illuminated with beauty,

and mal spirits, made an immense deal of noise, and perfumed with “ Sabean odors, from the spicy ultimately took refuge in cigars, to the introduc- shores of Araby the blest.” On the occasion in tion of which no one objected. I soon enveloped question there were two strange sides to my casmy fair companion in an aromatic cloud, which did tle; the one consisting of a bright glimpse of not, however, in the slightest degree impede her home at Jolimont; the other of Alpine summits utterance.

and sunny Italy. The room was full of thick As the inn was crowded, it was necessary for darkness, save when a gray glimmer entered at us all, except the married couple, to put up with the small casement, shaken occasionally by the double-bedded rooms; and, as fate would have it, wind. My Parisian Argus already slept over his the commercial traveller, with his jewels, fell to jewels, as his snoring proved indubitably; other

He was a young man of about twenty- wise there prevailed entire stillness in the house. three, with fiery-red hair and a blowsy face, short, Without, the notes of a distant screech-owl soundslight, and eaten up with timidity and suspicion.ed through the air, intimating that she, at least, In my long, drooping, black mustaches and ragged considers herself a fit companion for night, and beard, he saw so many undoubted indications of ever meditates and listens to her own voice, albeit the brigand—he would have given anything to none of the sweetest. Visions of glaciers, and have been Monsieur Morn's companion. But that virgin snow, and piny chasms, and thundering catwas not to be thought of. Monsieur Morn's ar- aracts, formed the avenue by which I approached tistic friend was to be the sharer of his apartment; the land of dreams, where I at length forgot all and so the young jeweller submitted to sleep on terrestrial things among the palm bowers of the robbery with as good a grace as he could assume. distant Nile. Our beds stood each in a recess on either side of Whether we are happy or miserable, time goes the door; and, long after I was comfortably be on, at the old rate, and brings about the hour for tween the sheets, I could hear my companion puf- parting, whether it be from the summit of bliss, fing, blowing, and fumbling about, and taking pre- or from the depths of woe. At half-past two, cautions for securing his treasure. No doubt he there was a knocking at every door in the inn at thrust the jewel-case under his pillow, and made up Brigg; and drowsy travellers shuffled themselves his mind to bawl lustily should I attempt to lay hastiiy into their clothes, in order to have as much violent hands on him in the night. Being heartily spare time as possible for fortifying the inner man. tired, we both fell asleep. We were to start at An inn is generally a pleasant place ; for, as soon half-past two, to commence the ascent of the Sim- as you open your bedroom door, the delicious plon. In the course of the night, the trampling of steams of coffee and fried bacon greet your nosmany feet on the stairs roused me from sleep; trils. Money is a glorious thing, for it sets all the world in motion, and keeps cooks and kitchen wear a purse, but have a large open pocket, which wenches up half the night to provide for your en- lets out the money as a sieve does water-easily, joyment in the morning. Not that they think it and without pain. My theory, however, is, that a hardship; like the race-horse, they enjoy the you should treat gold as a stranger, according to sport, as well as the rider, and always find time, the maxim of antiquity-welcome the coming, in some snug corner of the twenty-four hours, 10 speed the parting, guest. If you have time to get as much sleep as they stand in need of. Be- make its acquaintance, you are apt to get fond of sides, there is an excitement in the operations of it; and then shaking hands and bidding adieu are the kitchen, especially as they can always taste far from pleasant. Your intercourse should be of the best, and that, too, before it is served up to a sort of omnibus intimacy, and never go beyond you. There is, after all, nothing like a breakfast- a nod, or a sort of civil greeting, which provokes table before a journey ; and one would never grow no inclination to sigh in either party; you laugh weary of describing it, if it were not that it is ex- as you meet, and laugh as you part, and there is ceedingly monotonous. On the thing itself, ap- an end of it. You should treat money as a landpetite confers novelty daily. You are not at all lord does his customer- r—that is, get as much as the less disposed to breakfast to-day because you you can out of it, and then turn it about its busibreakfasted yesterday; whereas, in a narrative, ness. Byron says, somewhere, that a great deal one breakfast will generally do, by way of a spec- may be bought for fifty louis; and he was a good imen. At the same time, I must observe that judge in matters of that sort. But foreigners there was considerable variety in our Alpine break- generally treat money more affectionately than we fasts. They sometimes comprehended broiled kid- do, hug it more tenderly, and kiss it on both neys, mutton-chops, a slice of venison, delicious cheeks before they can make up their minds to let butter, honey, and eggs, with rolls hot from the lit go, unattended, into the wide world. You oven, and coffee fit for the denizens of Olympus. would think they were animated by a sort of paA poet of the present day, not over-scrupulous rental solicitude, and that they had felt the throes about the sources of his inspiration, exclaims in of maternity for every guinea in their purse. one of his pieces

my share.

At any rate, paying tavern reckonings—unI'll not envy heaven's princes,

pleasant to everybody who has the slightest attachWhile, with snowy arm, for me

ment for mammon—is doubly disagreeable to the Kate the china tea-cup rinses,

natives of the Continent, who all, on this point, And pours out her best Bohea.

foster a sort of socialist theory, formed from the Had he known Madame Carli, he would have practice in “ Cabet's Icaria,” that innkeepers left out Kate, and tried to get her name into his should furnish you with whatever you want, verses, for most assuredly she presided over the gratis. In descending the stairs, I heard a fearcoffee-pot like a sylph ; and when she raised her ful row in the kitchen ; and, with the true proarm, which was as white and round as any Kate's pensity of a traveller, looked in, just to see what in the world, the sight of it added additional flavor it was all about. The scene was excessively to the Mocha. Let it not be forgotten that I was comic. At the further end was a man in a short now privileged to admire her, since she was to be shirt and red woollen nightcap, sputtering and my wife as far as Duomo d'Ossola. However, foaming like a maniac, and struggling violently to even at that fatal breakfast-table, the jokes began disengage himself from the grasp of two women, which were to end by keeping my fair friend and who held him like vices, which, for aught I know, her husband prisoners in the Alps. She was now they were. Near the door stood the objects of addressed invariably as Madarne St. John; and his fury, Professor Morn, and his companion the Monsieur Carli was complimented upon being a artist. These gentlemen, not having had their single man. The breakfast, nevertheless, went equanimity restored by their good breakfast, or off pleasantly; the coffee was sipped, the rolls, having suffered it to be again ruffled by the bill, butter, eggs, &c., eaten, and, even at that early were describing, in the most provoking terms, hour, cigars were lighted, to enable us the better the wretched accommodation of their bedchamber. to encounter the keen air of the Upper Alps.

“ If I had you in France,” said the elder and more provoking of the two, “I would hand you over,

as a mauvais sujet,' to the police. You are, in There is a pleasant and an unpleasant side to fact, a common cheat.” Then addressing memost things. Even making love to a pretty wo- "You shall be judge," he added. " What sort man has its drawbacks. First, the foreknowledge of bed you had, I don't know ; but when we went that it must come to an end ; and, second, the fact up stairs, and had got fairly into ours, we found of having a multitude of rivals. With respect to that a damp towel had been tucked along the top, inns, their delights go on rising like a flood tide, in imitation of a sheet, and that the pillows and till you come to the disagreeable moment of call- bolsters were stuffed with peach stones, which, as ing for your bill. Then there is a sort of shiver it was impossible to sleep, we amused ourselves in your purse, a kind of golden hysteric, occasioned all night in throwing at the bugs.”_" But, Monby the approaching separation of the coin from sier," interrupted his companion,“ my pillow was its comfortable quarters. This, at least, is the still worse, it palpitated with life ; it was simply way with most persons. For myself, I never what in Paris we call a bag of feas." Let not

CHAPTER VIII. -THE INN AT BRIGG.

[ocr errors]

66

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER IX.--THE PASSAGE OF THE SIMPLON.

the reader suppose that these communications were for the sword, which, like the ark of the covenant, uninterrupted. At every particular the landlord is often not at all comprehended by those who bear roared out, Cochon !-vilain !- menteur ! it. It is, in itself, a sacred symbol—the symbol chien !" with other phrases equally complimentary, of justice, supported by might; and not, as is too all the while making strenuous efforts to escape often supposed, a vile instrument designed by from the gripe of his wife and the sturdy Dul- Providence to work only the ends of despotcinea who acted as cook to the establishment. ism. That it has constantly been perverted, is

• Pray, let him go,” cried the professor, coolly ; too true ; but let no free man be so far false 10 “ I will soon beat him into good manners, as our himself as to forswear his allegiance to this mysarmies did his country.”—“Nay,” I interposed, terious representative of liberty. The sword should “ that is ungenerous ; it is no credit to France to glitter over every man's hearth ; not that it may have overcome Switzerland in war. Pray, settle be ready to shed innocent blood, but that it may the matter without diverging into politics.”- You be wielded to protect that hearth, and the altars are quite right," answered Morn, with the utmost which ennoble and sanctify it. Dulce et decorem good humor. “And now, you cut-throat,” ad- est pro patria mori. Death is our portion, whether dressing himself to the landlord, “there is your we be bond or free, noble or ignoble. Of all commoney, which you deserve just as much as the man mon-places, none is so commonplace as this ; yet who stops one on the highway.” So saying, he are we slow to draw from it the inference that and his companion threw down the proper amount death in the service of liberty, on the red battleof francs and sous, and stalked haughtily out of field, when, by an upright and honorable life, we the kitchen, in search of the diligence. Having are prepared to die, is more desirable than the settled with the waiter up stairs, I was enabled to tranquil breathing out of our souls on a featherattend to my fair companion, who had held my bed in a close room. The reason is, that when we arm, without uttering a word, during the whole take up arms in a good cause, we are conscious of the little dialogue above communicated. of performing a sacred duty. God gave us life,

not that we might preserve it at any price, hut that

we might know when and where to lay it down at I was never so much struck by the pitiful small- his bidding. War, consequently, is not to be ness of human dealings, as on stepping out of the denounced because it occasions a great sacrifice of inn at Brigg into the glories of an Alpine night. human life, for peace also occasions the destruction The mountains rose around in indescribable maj- of life no less certainly or profusely; for froin esty, and the stars looked down upon us like the peace proceeds security—from security, false coneyes of God from the sky. Everything in nature fidence- from false confidence, the too great inwas vast and sublime. I was glad to have escaped, crease of the population—from this too great from bugs and bills, and vulgar objurgations, into increase, poverty and distress, and famine and the grandeur of this mighty theatre, which for a pestilence, which dig more graves on the earth's while absorbed my thoughts entirely. It was surface than the most destructive wars. But it is about half-past two when we started, shortly after not for the people to determine, in monarchies, which the atmosphere became overcast with clouds, whether there shall be war or peace. Kings and which so completely obscured the stars and moon their ministers decide for the nation.

This is an that we could see nothing. We had, therefore, to evil, because the war that arises out of their decisdepend entirely on the resources of conversation, ion may be unjust. If so, however, there may be which commenced with a dissertation on peace, by justice on the other side ; and when force is ema German traveller who joined us at Brigg. The ployed for the perpetration of evil, force may work of the Abbé St. Pierre, edited by Jean surely be employed for the prevention of it. ConJacques Rousseau, had, it seems, fallen into his sequently, if you demonstrate the wickedness of a hands early in life, and made so great an impres- war, considered from one point of view, you only sion on him, that he was now travelling about the prove how humane and defensible it is when world in the hope of making proselytes to his the regarded from the other side. ory. Every man is respectable who is sincere ; This, I own, however, was a strange topic to and, therefore, it would have been wrong to laugh be discussed on such an occasion; and I voluntaat our pacific Don Quixote, who expected the rily put an end to it by proposing that, as the dilispeedy advent of the millennium—or rather the gence crept along at something worse than a snail's return, as he called it, of the golden age. Mon- pace, we should all get out, and walk up the mounsieur Carli was his first antagonist; but his educa- tains. My proposition being approved of, we tion had been too oriental to give fair play to alighted ; and, separating into couples, I got accihis logical powers. He, therefore, broke down dentally divided from Madame Carli. I selected speedily, and left the field open to my friend Morn, in her stead one of our bug-bitten companions, who defended vigorously, and, as it appeared to who turned out to be a very agreeable fellow; and me, with success, the mission of the sword. I with him I walked on ahead. Never shall I forhave, practically, all my life been a man of peace, get that morning. Far in the distance behind us, and therefore my sympathies are, of course, ranged the summits of the Bernese Alps, blanched with on the side of the spindle and the spinning-jenny; snow, pierced the sky, while the bright moonlight but I, nerertheless, entertain a profound reverence seemed to repose with pleasure on their cold, glittering peaks. Towards the south-west the sight infinite appetite, likewise ate another meal, upon plunged down a series of dark valleys, partly which it would be difficult to bestow a name. He lighted up by the moon, partly enveloped in had eaten two breakfasts already, and meant to shadow, while one solitary lamp from some win- lunch a little further on ; so that it was a sort of dow, perhaps in Brigg, sparkled like a star among third breakfast, or first luncheon. The name, the rocks below. Scattered masses of white, sil- however, mattered very little to him. Being a very vapor hovered over the distant valleys and philosopher, he ate when he was hungry, and lowlands far beneath, and looked like a broken drank when he was thirsty, without troubling himfloor, through which the moon's rays penetrated to self at all to know whether the world approved of the earth. Close by the road, chasms, which in his goings-on or not. I should most likely have the moonlight appeared of prodigious depth, wound followed his example, but that our second breakalong, while rapid torrents, whose white foam was fast at Persal had blunted my appetite. While once or twice visible between the dark pines, he was regaling himself on the good things to be brawled and roared at the bottom. Here and obtained at so great an elevation above the level there, vast conical mountains sprang up from these of the sea, I amused myself with exchanging tenalysses, and their while heads, clothed with pre- der adieux with Madame Carli. ternatural beauty by the moonlight, at once aston

Our flirtation had been unfortunate, for my ished and delighted the imagination. The stars French companions, preferring their own amuseshone with amazing brightness, and the constella- ment to the solid interests of poor Monsieur Carli, tion of the Great Bear, in particular, seemed to had so worried and tormented him about the suphave a brilliance and beauty I had never observed posed danger he would run by getting me to take betore. But the exquisite beauty of the dawn his wife as mine over the frontier, that his imagisurpassed everything. The snow-sprinkled peaks nation became alarmed ; so that he chose rather to of the Alps now seemed to become transparent; be detained at Simplon, as a person suspected of while starlight, moonlight, and the pale yellow cholera, than carry out the plan of entering Piedmetallic brilliance of the sky, flushed with the mont, which we had so sagaciously formed at first approaches of the dawn, diffused over every Brigg. rock, and glen, and stream, and forest, and gla- Our stratagem, had it been discovered, might cier, a wild, sparkling, mysterious, unearthly have caused me considerable embarrassment; but beauty, which electrified the very soul. I see I the risk of this I was willing to incur, to oblige am repeating the same terms again and again ; but him. When too late, he found that he might language, with all its plastic power, is insufficient very well have taken Dogberry's phrase for his to render with fidelity the numerous exquisite emo- motto,

" Write me down an ass. He now came tions which at such times crowd upon the mind. I to me with his wife to express his regret-called was certainly for a time literally" wrapt, inspired.” Monsieur Morn and the rest “ des imperlinents," Heaven appeared to touch earth, and Poetry sat and said that he felt quite ashamed at being made enthroned upon the mountains. But such raptures their dupe. cannot last. With the increase of light, much of Here, during a whole week,” said he, “ shall the gigantic sublimity of the scene dwinded away, I do penance for having been silly enough to though enough remained to render the passage of misconstrue your motives ; but, Monsieur, we the Simplon one of the most remarkable scenes in shall meet at Milan, where I will endeavor to the world.

prove to you that, though I have been for the moWe walked on to Persal, where we took a sec- ment a jealous fool, it was but for a moment. ond breakfast, among the delicacies of which was What else I would and ought to say, I leave Madsome of the most delicious honey I had ever tasted. ame to express for me." We still continued to ascend for several hours. So saying, he shook me heartily by the hand, But I was now tired of walking, and got into the and walked off. Madame Carli, though one of cabriolet of the diligence, where I could see the the best women in the world, was still a bit of a

at my ease. My companions, who all coquette, and, in ball-rooms or on a journey, liked seemed to have taken a great liking to me, to make love pour passer le temps.

It was agreebrought me delicious Alpine raspberries and straw-able, she said ; and then it was so long since she berries, with a curious little fruit called embrock, had met any one like me—by exact computation peculiar to those elevated regions. The leaves of time, probably six weeks—I was so earnest, so of the last-mentioned plant, reddened by the au- sincere. I could do no other than bow, and press tumn, literally illuminated the whole face of the her hand--compliments and flattery are so delightmountains in several places. At length we reached ful from a woman! I professed to have been imthe top of the pass, and saw the streams turn their mensely happy, and said I did not doubt that we back upon Switzerland, and roll their sparkling should pass our time most pleasantly together at waters, against the morning sun, towards Italy. Milan. How many more fine things we might

have uttered, I know not; but just then I saw the

remorseless professor running among the trees, in At the village of the Simplon we stopped search of us. There was not a moment to be awhile to change horses, drink brandy and water, lost. We might never see each other again ; and and smoke a cigar. The conducteur, a fellow of could we part like two statues ? No! We bent

66

scene

CHAPTER X.-MADAME CARLI.

one.

our heads towards each other, and I fear I kissed who can gaze with undiminished pleasure on mounMadame Carli. But if I did, the time, and place, tain after mountain—who never grow weary or the and circumstances will, I trust, constitute my apol- hills, and long earnestly for the sight of a plainogy. We were, I know not how many thousand I may envy, but cannot understand them. Long feet in the air, surrounded by snows and glaciers. before we reached Duomo d'Ossola I was sick of Everything there was cold but the heart, and the the Alps, and eagerly desired to behold the verdant kiss was decorous and fraternal, just as it ought flats of Lombardy, that I might be delivered from to have been. We then shook hands, and prom- the eternal pine forests, cascades, and cataracts, ised faithfully to meet at Milan. But did we? | and endless succession of peaked mountains, each No! From that time to this, Madame Carli has exactly like the other. I have a powerful sympabeen, among the millions of Eve's daughters who thy with the grand in nature, but have still greater tread the mazy surface of this planet in smiles, love of variety. It was with inexpressible satisinvisible to me. Her husband, though something faction, therefore, that I caught the first view of of an Oriental in feeling, was at bottom a right the Lago Maggiore, where beauty of the softest good fellow; and I trust her life has been a happy kind succeeds to savage grandeur. Ah! who that

is happy would not live on the shores of that lake, “Ah! I had lost you,” exclaimed the professor. which looks like a fragment of Fairyland thrown “ But what was that little cloud of drapery which in by accident among the rough realities of this has just disappeared behind the foliage ?"

earth? I would not describe the scene if I could, “ It was nothing,” said I.

it has so often been delineated. But, with my “Then, nothing let it be,” answered he. “But mind's eye, I see it now—a broad expanse of come; there is a countryman of yours down here water, spreading among winding shores, which in front of the inn, who appears so grand, and at conceal its extent; terraced banks covered with the same time so triste, you had better speak to verdure, and dotted thickly with white, glittering him. After having taken his place in the dili-villas ; isles of poetic beauty, floating, as it were, gence, he turned away proudly from every one, as on the surface of the lake ; and, far away towards if we were not worth looking at, and is now gazing the west, serene and quiet towns, sending up their at the Alps, as though they alone were worthy to peaceful domestic smoke against the evening sky. be his companions. Pray come, and try whether The golden light of sunset bathed everything in pride has congealed him into an icicle or not.” splendor; and my heart beat with a strange delight,

“He does not speak French or Italian,"' I replied. to feel that I was at length in Italy. " How do you know?" inquired the professor.

I felt quite sure of it; and, coming out just at that moment upon the terrace in front of the inn, What would not those who have felt much, give went forward, and politely addressed my country- to be able to chronicle all their sensations? It may man in French. He made me a profound bow, but be truly said that what we learn from experience said nothing. I then spoke in Italian, with the belongs to our outer life, while what we feel is same result. Upon this, quite sure that my con- treasured up in our heart of hearts. The obscurity jecture was well founded, I addressed him in Eng- of evening was over Italy as I approached it. She lish. “Ah! I am so delighted !” cried he ; " but was like a beauty meeting her lover beneath her from your beard and mustache, I took you to be a veil. Though not unconscious of the loveliness foreigner, and thought I should be persecuted all extending around on all sides, I longed for sunrise the way to Milan. Where do you sit in the dili- to reveal it to me. My pleasure was too great to gence? Can't I get a seat by you?''

be enjoyed in darkness ; I therefore wished for “I have managed," I said, " to secure a place day, that, by rendering the object of my admiration in the cabriolet, for the purpose of enjoying the half visible to sight, as it were, I might deprive scenery;" at which he looked blank, being booked it of those mysterious additions bestowed by fancy, for the interior. By a little manœuvring, however, which rendered its enjoyment almost oppressive. we got one of the Frenchmen to cede to him his Mohammed pronounced the approach to Damascus place, which was really a great sacrifice, as, from too delicious; and I found it impossible to sleep on the hot and close inside of the diligence, nothing the night before my arrival at Thebes. The soul could be seen.

at such moments feels a tumultuous joy, which Nothing so speedily palls upon the appetite as stern reason, perhaps, will scarcely justify; but magnificent scenery. At least I can speak for my- the sources of it are within you—you have been self; 1 have at times derived extreme pleasure replenishing them from your childhood by the from the sight of the Alps, especially of those wild study of history, poetry, and romance. and savage portions of them which suggest ideas who make the earth a paradise or a hell for yourof death and utter desolation--where the water self. I would not sleep on the night of my arrival comes rolling and foaming down precipitous rocks, in Italy—that is, I determined to resist it; but havamong dark pine forests, and tumbles into almost ing been kept awake by superior excitement the bottomless gulfs below, where you shudder as you whole of the night before, my resolution was only lean over to catch the last sight of them. Enough half kept. I found myself dozing and dreaming of this sort of scenery had presented itself to us on perpetually, as the heavy diligence, laden with our descent towards Italy; but if there be those sleeping men and women, wert jolting drowsily

CHAPTER XI.-ENTRANCE INTO ITALY.

It is you

« PreviousContinue »