Page images
PDF
EPUB

66

may be,'

CHAPTER

XX.

BEAUTY AND TRUTH.

shut up in a strong room in the chateau ; and as cool air inexpressibly exhilarating. It was laden, soon as I ascertain by the testimony of my own also, with the sound of distant bells, which seemed eyes, you shall have my permission to make your- to say, like the muezzin's voice from the minaret self searce if you please.'

Arise, ye faithful, and pray; prayer is better ". This was done; and, late in the same evening, than sleep!” And this, surely, is the conviction the countess, to my great relief, did, sure enough, of universal humanity. The oldest of the Greek arrive. She was too much fatigned for me to poets represents prayer as so many danghiers of think of touching upon the chest that night. But heaven, destined to move over the carth in the next morning, on my mentioning the subject, she wake of crime, obliteratieg i:s footsteps as they observed with a smile

go. All nations, in all ages, feeling their depend* You are an English gentleman. That is ence on some unseen power, have dropped upon enough. If I had remained absent seven years, I their knees instinctively, and turned up their faces should have felt no apprehension for my property, towards heaven, in the hope of catching a blesshad it been ten times as great ; and, to convince ing from thence. And never is human nature so you of the reality of my confidence, I shall not grand or beautiful as in this attitude, which links, visit, nor unlock the chest until a full year and a as it were, the two worlds together, brings down day after you have left this chateau, whenever that heaven to earth, or lifts up earth to heaven, fuses

spirit and matter, and makes an imperfect inaterial "I returned her the keys, and have not the creature a fit companion for seraphs. slightest doubt that she kept her word. Mean- At the door of the breakfast parlor I met while, however, I ought to say I had suffered Sig- Carlotta. nor Mazzio to effect his escape, though I was care- “Do yon go to mass to-day?" inquired she. ful to relate to the countess what happened, that “I go to church,” was my reply. she might not afterwards receive him into ber 5 And afterwards,” exclaimed the capiain, who service, which she would, otherwise, have been was just then descending the stairs, “ I trust we very apt to do.”

shall all go out into the woods, to enjoy one of the loveliest walks in Christendom."

"With all my heart,” exclaimed Carlotta. Wherever the empire of Christianity extends, “I love walking in woods, it is so refreshing there is a peculiar beauty about the Sunday. The to the spirit.” bustle of business, the toil of labor, the anxieties I know not how it was, but after breakfast, inof the world, seem to have been withdrawn from stead of accompanying Carlotta to mass, I went the face of the earth, and a calm, sweet, serene out with the Dalmatian and the Milanése for a atmosphere of peace to have been substituted for walk. While the church bells were going busily, them. The very sun in great cities shines more we went up one street and down another, talking, brightly, because its rays are not obstructed by the laughing, and enjoying the cheerful sunshine. smoke of furnaces, factories, and so on. Every- The church-goers in that secluded village were body feels that it is a day of rest; and whoever not numerous, though they probably included all has a spark of religion in hiin, is deeply conscious the inhabitants, old and young, who proceeded that around him, on all sides, the sweet incense with cheerful and glad faces to offer up the tribute of prayer, from millions of lips, is ascending of their devotion to Heaven. At the bottom of 3 through the air, and purifying and sanctifying it. street, about half-a-mile from the church, we met Oh! how precious is the repose of that day. The a young lady proceeding thitherward, and leading poor look forward to it as to a renewal of life, as a little girl, about nine years old, by her hand. to a season of special blessing, when they shall When we had approached near enongh to see her have leisure to recruit their strength of mind and face distinctly, the words, Oh, Dio santo,” burst body for encountering the toils and difficulties of from the lips of the Milanese. The Dalmatian the ensuing week. Then, too, they will surely and I were silent. We walked on and passed the hear the voice of glad tidings, “peace on earth, lady, who moved, like a celestial vision, up the and good-will towards men."' There is a solemn hill. Never since or before have I seen beauty so hush in the storm of worldly passions over the perfect. No Madonna ever painted by Raphael, whole Christian world, amid which the still small no Aphrodite ever sculptured by the Hellenic voice of devotion is everywhere heard more or less chisel, could equal it. To enjoy another look we distinctly. Let all those, therefore, who are toil- turned round, walked rapidly up the hill, and worn and oppressed, bless the divine institution of then came leisurely down again. This we rethe Sabbath, which brings to many, if not to all, peated three times ; and, as we last went by her, glimpses of a better world, and opens by the way. I thought I saw the lady smile, not with pity, side fountains of hope and gladness to refresh them or contempt, or scorn, but apparently with surduring their weary pilgrimage towards heaven. prise. Her costume was in itself, to the last

On awaking in the morning I experienced all degree, graceful. It consisted of an amber-colthe delicious effects of sleeping on the summits ored satin dress, open in front, with a rich of mountains. On throwing open the casement, lace chemisette over the bosom, and a fine full which the chambermaid, unknown to me, had petticoat of white muslin. On her head was the closed in the evening, I felt the in-rushing of the Genoese veil, supported on the forehead by a Age and

tures.

comb, and descending in waving folds almost to the to behold this beloved land of Italy flooded with feet. Her hair, the most exquisite auburn, fell the light of knowledge—of that knowledge of the loosely over her shoulders in large natural ringlets, truth which maketh free, which lifteth man above unconfined below by anything ; but, behind the chains and oppression, which rendereth him humcomb, a singular ornament of plaited white satin, ble indeed, and, at an infinite distance, something broad above but narrowing towards both ends, like unto the God who made him. Oh! my brethcame down the side of the face, and was tied with ren, pray for freedom-for the deliverance of white ribbon under the chin. Her eyes were of Italy. Pray that he who teacheth the day-spring the richest and brightest blue ; her features regular from on high to know its place, may roll away the as those of Venus herself, harmonized by an ex- darkness from the face of this country, and once pression of unearthly softness and serenity. Her more pronounce the revivifying words, • Let there look was upturned, her gait quiet, and there was be light.' Religion, my brethren, is nothing an air of reverence about her, scarcely belonging without knowledge but a vile superstition, than to this every-day world. Not a glance, not a which nothing is more unpleasing to God. Our movement betrayed in her the slightest conscious- happiness here and hereafter consists entirely in ness of her surpassing loveliness. She seemed as the knowledge of Him who is the well-spring of innocent as Eve before the fall. I quitted my all other knowledge. Toil, therefore, without companions, and followed her at a distance to the ceasing, that you may become worthy to possess church. When I entered, she was already on her the light which lighteth man to liberty.” knees, with her arms crossed upon her breast, in Much more to this effect did he say, in that the attitude of profound devotion. The light of sonorous, musical language of which even despotone of the richly painted windows fell across her ism cannot deprive the Italians. I could have figure, illuminating it and surrounding it with a sort embraced the friar with all my heart. I felt the of glory. Her prayers found no vent in words. yearnings of a brother towards him. He rememSilent as a statue, she looked up towards heaven, bered, then, that Rome of old was a republic, and absorbed in ecstatic devotion, and forgetful evidently that all Italy shared the freedom of the Eternal of all below. I paid no attention to the words of City; and was content with bread and a hair-cloth the mass—my eyes were fixed on her; and this 1 shirt so that he might enjoy the privilege of diffustrust was pardonable, as I could never again hope ing sacred light around him like a star. to see anything so beautiful among God's crea- the love of truth had crowned him with majesty ;

Some such vision must have dawned upon and, doubtless, he has long ere this been gathered Raphael's mind, and formed the prototype of those to his fathers, “where the wicked cease from virgins whose celestial loveliness still adorns the troubling, and the weary are at rest.” walls of churches and palaces, and imparts a charm, as it were, to the whole face of Europe. I would give much to know that woman's fate.

BRIGAND'S TRAGEDY. Is she happy? Did she, or could she, find any one worthy of her; or did religion detach her from I found the captain seated at the inn door, beearth, and convert her into one of the brides of neath a trellised roof of vines, smoking a huge heaven ? However this may have been, I felt cigar, with a bottle of rich wine before him. that it was good for me to be there, and ever * Here you are, my boy !” said he. Come, since, sleeping or waking, the image of that face let me fill you a bumper just to put you in a good beams upon my fancy, at times refreshing and in- humor for our long walk. Where are your lady vigorating it. The preacher that day was a friends ? Gone to mass! It must be a charming Franciscan friar, clad in a loose brown hair-cloth thing that same mass, for my ladies, though Protshirt, with a rope about his waist. He was bare- estants, are off to enjoy it. But ecco ! here they fuot and bareheaded, and had a countenance of come. Well, ladies, are you peckish after mass, singular elevation and nobleness. His text was or shall we start at once ?" extraordinary : “ And God said, Let there be light : Everybody voted that we should lunch first, and and there was light.” I felt in a moment that he then take our dinner out into the woods, where was no ordinary man. He should have preached the captain, proud of his local knowledge, said he before statesmen-he should have addressed him- would show us a mountain tarn on the margin of self to the great ones of this world, to rouse them which we could dine delightfully. I am sadly from their lethargy, and make them feel how afraid the reader will take me for an Epicurean, awful a thing it is to sport with the destinies of from my constant reference to breakfasts, dinners, the human race, and defraud their brethren of their &c.; but he must excuse me. The meal forms birthright. I may, without the least risk of mis- part of the recollection of the place where it was employing it, apply the epithet holy to that friar. eaten, and I cannot easily recall the one without He stood removed far above all the temptations the other. The Dalmatian and Milanese were and weaknesses of this earth. “I have no ambi- found enjoying a nap in the garden ; but the Hantion," said he. "I ask in this world nothing, overian had disappeared, possibly preferring a even of God himself, but my daily bread, and his lonely walk to our society. The Swiss were merciful forgiveness. Did I say, nothing? Yes, getting tipsy in a bower close at hand, from which I daily and hourly pray for one thing more, namely, clouds of smoke issued between the vine leaves,

CHAPTER

XXI.-SUNDAY

IN

THE

WOODS-THE

66

We

mingled with a roar of bacchanalian songs, inter- the panniers were heavy, the ass obstinate, and his mixed, occasionally, with ornamental oaths. halter very weak. What was to be done?

We started on foot, our dinner following us on an were averse to cruelty-yet our appetites informed ass, driven by the son of the master of the inn. us forcibly that we must dine. Our Milanese cut The captain's family consisted of a daughter aged the Gordian knot by snatching the cudgel from the sixteen and her governess, who were severally hands of Giovanni, and dealing the ass so tremenescorted by the Dalmatian and the Milanese. dous a blow on the crupper, that he could no Madame B graced the captain's side ; and, longer hesitate, but plunging down into the stream, as usual, I walked with Carlotta, whose costume made his way to land in the best way he could. on this occasion was so curious, that I shall en- One or two bottles were cracked in the operation, deavor to describe it. Over a robe of purple velvet and shed their rich contents into the stream, to she wore a short pelisse of light blue silk, bor- our inexpressible disappointment. However, there dered with white fur. Her dress was fastened was no help for it, so on we went till we reached in front with agraffes of pearl, almost close up to the banks of the Tarn, literally a mountain gem; the throat; these terminated with the glittering of so beautiful was its situation, so magnificent the a diamond necklace, which issued on both sides cliffs arising from it on all sides, save the narrow from beneath masses of luxuriant hair. At the gap by which we had entered into the basin. Just wrists, long, full sleeves of lace shaded the fair, figure to yourself a sheet of water about half-agloveless hand, which, in the sun, was covered mile in circumference, with precipices, several with the furred lappet of the pelisse. Her delicate hundred feet high, sloping upwards from its edge, white bonnet, sufficiently large to shelter her face and terminating in crags and pinnacles, in some from the sun, was ornamented in the inside with places pointed as needles. Wherever a scrap of a wreath of oak leaves and silver acorns, which earth would allow vegetation to take root, there produced the most extraordinary effect, especially small trees and shrubs feathered the acclivity, when lighted up by her bright blue eyes. Car- trembling and waving their variegated foliage over lotta's lips were the reddest in the world, and her the abyss. It was, doubtless, an ancient crater; teeth as white as ivory. When she spoke, there- and fiery lava had hissed and boiled where that fore, and smiled, it was impossible to resist look- peaceful lake now spread, glittering in the sun. ing at her. Her chin was dimpled, and though We sat down on large stones close to the water's there was habitually little color in her face, it be- edge, and taking out our solid materials, with the came flushed with walking, and then looked ra- bottles which remained, we set about enjoying diant with joy and health.

ourselves after the true English fashion, the capOur walk through the trees was delicious. tain presiding, as his experience entitled him to There was sufficient light and air to nourish, at do. There were roast fowls, and small birds, the foot of the trees, a delicate turf, half grass, delicious cold salmon, preserved fruits, jellies, and half moss, on which the foot fell almost noise- pastry, with wines of every hue and flavor. Evlessly. It was like a Persian carpet. The trunks erybody contributed a good keen appetite ; and of the trees, of all forms and dimensions, support- Carlotta, in particular, made great way with the ing an impenetrable canopy of leaves, were thinned fowls, for which she entertained a great partiality. towards the edge of the glades, and allowed cheq- Madame B- also, and the other ladies peruered patterns of sunshine to descend upon the formed their parts well ; nor did any of us shrink green sward. The most solemn stillness prevailed from the wine, which circulated in profusion, till around, till it was broken by our merry laugh, and we were all in the best humor in the world. I the dialogues held by Giovanni with his ass, whom should observe that Giovanni was not excluded he alternately scolded and encouraged, to keep his from our circle ; and as, of course, he could not courage up. In one place we had to cross a dark be separated from his companion, he also petistream by means of stepping-stones. A little to tioned for the admission of the ass, which, as Gioour left, a patch of sunshine fell upon the water, vanni expressed it, ate bread and drank wine like which danced and glittered as it flowed along, like a Christian. a liquid mirror rippled by the breeze. On the We all of us noticed a very extraordinary right it plunged beneath umbrageous trees, which ledge of rock, projecting from between two pinbarely allowed us to catch a glimpse of its mean- nacles, above three hundred feet, at least, over our derings, as it flowed silently towards the Mediter- heads.

Giovanni here took it into his head that · That ledge,” said Giovanni, “ was not long the rivulet was too deep for the ass, which he ac- ago the scene of a sad tragedy, which plunged the cordingly wished to coax over the stepping-stones. whole of this neighborhood into grief. There was The animal for a long time resisted. Ultimately, a brigand in the mountains, who often disguised however, yielding to the logic of a stout cudgel, himself, and descended to our village to purchase he undertook the task ; but upon reaching a broad provisions. On one of these occasions he saw a stone in mid-channel, stood still, obstinately deter- beautiful girl, the daughter of a vine-grower, who mined neither to advance nor to retreat. We lives close to our house ; and, being a lawless pertrembled for our dinner. Giovanni, a boy of about son, he determined to steal her away. fourteen, now saw clearly he had made a false “It was not, however, so easy to put his design

The stone was of considerable height, into execution ; for the young girl seldom went

ranean.

move.

out after dark, and in the day time it would have towards yonder ledge, and threatened them that, been next to impossible to effect his purpose, there if they did not stand still, he would plunge over were so many persons stirring. But there is an it, with the girl in his arms. They treated this old proverb, which says, ' Where there is a will as a vain menace intended to arrest their progress ; there is a way.' The brigand descended at night but the girl, who had by this time learned the to the village, bringing along with him a small character of her captor, entreated them to desist. ladder, which !e had himself constructed. This She shuddered, and shrunk back from the dreadful he placed against one of the windows of our neigh-depth before her. Underneath, there were several bor's house, and, climbing up hastily, forced open hundred feet of rock, and a deep lake. The head, the casement, and entered a bed-room, which was as you must feel, gentlemen, turns giddy even in that of the father and mother. Here he had the looking up; you may easily conceive, therefore, audacity to kindle a lamp, by means of a fiint and what it must be to look down from that tremensteel which he had brought with him. He then dous height. But the blood of the villagers was drew a large pistol from his pocket, and, approach- heated. They dashed forward, the brigand still ing the bed, determined to shoot them both should waving them back with his hand, and uttering the they awake.

Sound sleep, however, preserved most fearful threats and imprecations. Every their lives. He then proceeded into the next instant, he drew nearer and nearer the edge of the room, where he found the young woman's brother, abyss. His face grew pale with rage. Hea stout young man of about five-and-twenty. He seized the girl by the hair of her head ; he shook also was asleep, for it was past midnight. In the his clenched fist at his pursuers ; he foamed at the room adjoining, the brigand found the girl, over mouth like a mad dog ; and then, mustering up all whose mouth he passed a tight bandage, tying it his force and all his fury, plunged with the girl firmly behind the head. By doing this he awak- over the ledge ; and, whirling about in the air, ened her, but she could not speak; and, holding and bounding from crag to crag, they were presthe pistol to her head, he swore if she struggled ently dashed upon the slope which sinks yonder he would shoot her on the spot. He then took into the lake. Their bodies were immediately her in his arms, and carried her, struggling, found, indescribably mutilated and disfigured ; and through her father and mother's bed-room ; and, the brother and sister, the only hopes of their getting out through the window, descended the parents, were buried in one grave. A hole in the ladder, where he placed her on her feet, and, mountain received the corpse of the brigand. The seizing her by the arm, forced her along. A mother lost her senses, and may still every day be neighbor, who happened at this moment to be seen sitting at her door, asking the passers-by if looking out through her window, saw the young they have seen Bianca, and if they can tell her girl struggling hard with the brigand ; and, in when she will come back. Her husband lives to the contest, the bandage fell off her mouth. She watch over her; and there is not an individual in then shouted with all her might, waked her father, the whole country round who does not pause to mother, and brother, together with several neigh- cast a pitying blessing upon Bianca's mother, and bors, who all now rushed out to give chase. The on the husband who so tenderly watches over brigand now once more snatched her in his arms, her." and succeeded in effecting his escape into the woods. How he forced her along is not known ; but her cries directed the pursuit for some time. The reader will, I trust, excuse me for not At length, however, she became silent, and it was entering here into the military history of the Bocfeared that he had killed her. The night passed chetta, and telling him how the Imperialists forced on and the dawn began to break, when the bri- it in 1746, and thus opened themselves a way to gand and his shivering captive were seen high up Genoa. All this sort of information may be obamong the rocks, making, as it was supposed, to- tained elsewhere. I only undertake to describe wards his cave. The pursuit now recommenced my own movements, with what I saw, felt and with fresh alacrity. Father, brother, and neigh- heard. It belongs to learned travellers to enter bors, climbed the rocks, spreading themselves so minutely into the annals of former generations, as to encompass the brigand on all sides, and to and relate the fortunes of all the cities and counforce him towards yonder precipice, where, it was tries through which they passed. My task is a thought, he must of necessity surrender. Power- much humbler one, and I cheerfully abandon to ful as he was, he gradually became exhausted, by them all the honor and profit to be derived from being forced from time to time to carry his cap- the grandeose style of writing. It will be undertive in his arms. His exertions, therefore, slack- stood that we did not remain all night on the borened ; and the villagers approached nearer and ders of the tarn, but returned early to our inn,

In order to intimidate them, he drew one where we enjoyed the luxury of a hot supper. of his pistols, and fired. No one was hurt ; but, Some physicians, I believe, condemn this meal as with the second, he shot the brother, who fell, the prolific parent of nightmare, apoplexy, and staggering, into his father's arms. The neigh- what not. But I like it, nevertheless, especially bors, now seeing that blood had been “shed, like when it is eaten in company with pleasant people, wise grew ferocious, and rushing towards the whose voices, looks, and smiles impart to it a brigand, determined to take his life. He retreated | better relish than the finest sauce.

On the present

CHAPTER XXII.-DIALEOTICS IN SMOKE.

nearer.

occasion we had at immense Treat, fresh trout and imagined the topic which Até threw in, like the grayling, known to our neighbors by the poetic apple of discord, among us. Military men are often name of ombre chevalier- I suppose because of its great theologians, it being a rule in this world, darting through clear streams like a shadow. that people always best like to talk about what These delicate fish, nicely fried, and served up they do not understand. . Our captain possessed like Turkish cababs, hissing hot, appeared much to this fine quality, and being, of course, a Protesthe taste of all present. The captain pronounced tant, contrived—Heaven knows how !-10 engage them magnificent; and Madame B-, in all us all in a discussion on the comparative meriis such matters quite his echo, protested she had of the two churches. As might have been exnever tasted anything so good in her life. Carlotta pected, the Carbonaro looked down with supreme was much of the same opinion. The rest of the contempt on all churches, and, indeed, which, party, no way inclined to get up a controversy on however, is a very different thing—on all religions, the subject, agreed with us to a little. So we also. lle had been taught, poor fellow, to believe ate, and were very merry, as people should be that complete liberty is only to be attained by who have nothing on their consciences. It would emancipating the mind from all its preconceived be wrong, however, to grant a monopoly of praise notions, whether true or false ; and his creed, acto the fish, since the wine was no less deserving cordingly, was the most compendious imaginable, of commendation. It sparkled in the glasses like since he believed nothing ; but, like another person liquid amber, and diffused around a delicious aroma, of our acquaintance, who shall here be nameless, enough of itself to intoxicate a poet. Let no one he had not a metaphysical head, and therefore, misunderstand me if I confess I love wine. Not though he argued a great deal, there was nothing for its own sake-God forbid !-- but for that of in it. Ile had read " Lamettrie," and the "Systhe agreeable things to which it gives birth aniong téme de la Naiure,” peeped into Kant, and Ilegel, pleasant people. It operates like moral sunshine Fichte, and Schelling, and amused himself occaon the human conntenance; it adds fresh bright- sionally with Vanini and Giordano Bruno. He ness to the brightest eyes ; and, as it lies cradled had, accordingly, a great deal to say, and said it in glittering crystal, appears half conscious of the with an easy dogmatism, well calculated to impose ideas it is capable of inspiring. No philosopher, upon the ignorant. I admit, has yet discovered the way in which it With this redoubtable young gentleman, the impregnates the brain, and calls into being swarms captain, in one of bis airy mental excursions, of gorgeous fancies, flashes of fiery wit, modifica- came into collision. But materialism is an unfruittions of grotesque and comic humor, that set the ful and uninviting topic; and, to my very great table in a roar. But though the inetaphysics of the relief, the Dalmatian adroitly shifted the ground affair may baffle us, we cannot be at all mistaken of argument, and brought it round to the chances respecting the plain matter of fact. Half the of Catholicism. He thought, not without some literature of the old world owes its charms to wine. reason, that there is a fashion in religion as in How the poets revel in the subject ! How they other things, and that in the history of the world, boast of those "noctes cenaque deoremover faiths come in and out like ruffs and farthingales, which the Falernian sheds its perfume, an vere though sometimes under new names; but Catholithe Chian or Maræotic imparted fresh wings to cism he maintained to be the creed best adapted to the imagination! And yet, I dare say, they were the wants of man in this world, made up as it is all in reality as sober as quakers, and drank chiefly of mystery, dogmatism, and an incessant appeal to out of those fabulous bowls which were served up the sensibilities of our nature. Its mysteries are to the gods of Olympus.

calculated to excite and keep alive our curiosity : It is to be hoped the reader, especially if a lady, its dogmatism subdues our will; its poetical characis of a tolerant disposition ; otherwise, I shall ter addresses itself to our imaginations, and transscarcely obtain forgiveness for my frequent intro- poris us into a world of soft illusions infinitely duction of cigars. But how can one draw a true delightful to the mind. " But, my dear sir," expicture if he omit the principal figure ? And claimed the captain, 6 wliat signifies this if it be where smokers are assembled, your cigar, like the false ? as I maintain it to be. It has bad its day, Zeus of the old Orphic hymn writer, is first, last, however, and is now dying out. People fancy and middle. At all events, as soon as we began they see tokens of revival in England, France, to feel ourselves comfortable after supper, the and elsewhere, because a few mystical priests and captain brought out his case, filled with choice clergymen, eager for ecclesiastical domination, are Los dos Amigos, and politely handed it round. laboring to diffuse an artificial enthusiasm for No one, of course, refused the profered weed. niches, wax tapers, high altars, beads, copes, and Experience had taught us that the ladies were dalmatics. But does the history of mankind afford tolerant; so we all lighted at once, and were soon one single example of the resuscitation of an old enveloped in an ambrosial cloud, as thick, if not creed? No, sir, a religion, once dead, is dead as fragrant, as that in which tutig OEUV T8 xu1 forever." av@gw.ruv einbraced llera on Olympus.

“ But can a religion be dead," interposed Car Who that had seen us then, overflowing with lotta, “ when it has an altar in every heart-- when the milk of human kindness, as serene, pacific, it places us, morning and evening, on our knees and dreamy as opium-eaters, would ever have - when it begets lourly in us a fresh sense of

« PreviousContinue »