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tortoise-shell? what language paint the magic hues of light and shade, the shimmer of the sunbeam as it falls upon the marble pavement, and the brilliant panels inlaid with many-colored stones ? Vague recollections fill my mind, - images dazzling but undefined, like the memory of a gorgeous dream. They crowd my brain confusedly, but they will not stay ; they change and mingle, like the tremulous sunshine on the wave, till imagination itself is dazzled, -bewildered, - overpowered !
What most arrests the stranger's foot within the walls of the Alhambra is the refinement of luxury which he sees at every step. He lingers in the deserted bath, — he pauses to gaze upon the now vacant saloon, where, stretched upon his gilded couch, the effeminate monarch of the East was wooed to sleep by softly-breathing music. What more delightful than this secluded garden, green with the leaf of the myrtle and the orange, and freshened with
the gush of fountains, beside whose basin the nightingale still wooes the blushing rose ? What more fanciful, more exquisite, more like a creation of Oriental magic, than the lofty tower of the Tocador, —its airy sculpture resembling the fretwork of wintry frost, and its windows overlooking the romantic valley of the Darro ; and the city, with its gardens, domes, and spires, far, far below ? Cool through this lattice comes the summer wind from the icy summits of the Sierra Nevada. Softly in yonder fountain falls the crystal water, dripping from its marble vase with neverceasing sound. On
the fragrance of a thousand flowers, the murmur of innumerable leaves; and overhead is a sky where not a vapor floats, -as soft, and blue, and radiant as the eye of childhood!
Such is the Alhambra of Granada ; a fortress, – a palace, — an earthly paradise, — a ruin, wonderful in its fallen greatness !
THE JOURNEY INTO ITALY.
What I catch is at present only sketch-ways, as it were; but I prepare myself betimes for the Italian journey.
On the afternoon of the 15th of December, in the year of grace one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, I left Marseilles for Genoa, taking the sea-shore road through Toulon, Draguignan, and Nice. This journey is written in my memory with a sunbeam. We were a company whom chance had thrown together, — different in ages, humors, and pursuits, — and yet so merrily the days went by, in sunshine, wind, or rain, that methinks some lucky star must have ruled the hour that brought us five so auspiciously together. But where is now that merry company ?
One sleeps in his youthful grave; two sit in their fatherland, and “coin their brain for their daily bread ;” and the others, — where are they? If still among the living, I beg them to remember in their prayers the humble historian of their journey into Italy.
At Toulon we took a private carriage in order to pursue our journey more leisurely and more at ease. I well remember the strange,
outlandish vehicle, and our vetturino Joseph, with his blouse, his short-stemmed pipe, his limping gait, his comical phiz, and the lowland dialect his mother taught him at Avignon. Every scene, every incident of the journey is now before me as if written in a book. The sunny landscapes of the Var, — the peasant girls, with their broad-brimmed hats of straw, – the inn at Draguignan, with its painting of a lady on horseback, underwritten in French and English, “ Une jeune dame à la promenade, – A young ladi taking a walk,"— the mouldering arches of the Roman aqueducts at Fréjus, standing in the dim twilight of morning like shadowy apparitions of the past, — the wooded bridge across the Var, — the glorious amphitheatre of hills that half encircle Nice, - the midnight scene at the village inn of Monaco, — the mountain-road overhanging the sea at a dizzy height, and its long, dark passages cut through the solid rock, — the tumbling mountain-torrent, — and a fortress perched on
a jutting spur of the Alps ; these, and a thousand varied scenes and landscapes of this journey, rise before me, as if still visible to the eye of sense, and not to that of memory only. And yet I will not venture upon a minute description of them. I have not colors bright enough for such landscapes; and besides, even the most determined lovers of the picturesque grow weary of long descriptions; though, as the French guide-book says of these scenes, “ Tout cela fait sans doute un spectacle admirable!!”
How many a
On the tenth day of our journey, we reached Genoa, the city of palaces, — the superb city. The writer of an old book, called “ Time's Storehouse,” thus poetically describes its situation : “ This cittie is most proudly built upon the seacoast and the downefall of the Appenines, at the foot of a mountaine; even as if she were descended downe the mount, and come to repose herselfe uppon a plaine."
It was Christmas eve, — a glorious night! I stood at midnight on the wide terrace of our hotel, which overlooks the sea, and, gazing on the tiny and crisping waves that broke in pearly light beneath the moon, sent back my wandering thoughts far over the sea, to a distant home. The jangling music of churchbells aroused me from my dream. It was the sound of jubilee at the approaching festival of the Nativity, and summoned alike the pious devotee, the curious stranger, and the gallant lover to the church of the Annunziata.
I descended from the terrace, and, groping my way through one of the dark and narrow lanes which intersect the city in all directions, soon found myself in the Strada Nuova. The long line of palaces lay half in shadow, half in light, stretching before me in magical perspective, like the long vapory opening of a cloud in the summer sky. Following the various groups that were passing onward towards the public square, I entered the church, where midnight mass was to be chanted. A dazzling blaze of light from the high altar shone upon the red marble columns which support the roof, and fell with a solemn effect upon the kneeling crowd that filled the body of the church. All beyond was in darkness; and
from that darkness at intervals burst forth the deep voice of the organ and the chanting of the choir, filling the soul with solemnity and awe. And yet, among that prostrate crowd, how many had been drawn thither by unworthy motives,
motives even worthy than mere idle curiosity! How many sinful purposes arose in souls unpurified, and mocked at the bended knee ! heart beat wild with earthly passion, while the unconscious lip repeated the accustomed prayer! Immortal spirit! canst thou so heedlessly resist the imploring voice that calls thee from thine errors and pollutions ? Is not the long day long enough, is not the wide world wide enough, has not society frivolity enough for thee, that thou shouldst seek out this midnight hour, this holy place, this solemn sacrifice, to add irreverence to thy folly ?
In the shadow of a column stood a young man wrapped in a cloak, earnestly conversing in a low whisper with a female figure, so veiled as to hide her face from the eyes of all but her companion. At length they separated. The young man continued leaning against the column, and the girl, gliding silently along the dimly lighted aisle, mingled with the crowd, and threw herself upon her knees. Beware, poor girl, thought I, lest thy gentle nature prove thy undoing! Perhaps, alas, thou art already undone! And I almost heard the evil spirit whisper, as in the Faust, “ How different was it with thee, Margaret, when, still full of innocence, thou camest to the altar here, - out of the well-worn little book lispedst prayers, half child-sport, half God in the heart! Margaret, where is thy head? What crime in thy heart!"
The city of Genoa is magnificent in parts, but not as a whole. The houses are high, and the streets in general so narrow that in many of them you may almost step across from side to side. They are built to receive the cool seabreeze, and shut out the burning sun. Only three of them if my memory serves me are wide enough to admit the passage of carriages; and these three form but one continuous street, the street of palaces. They are the Strada Nuova, the Strada Novissima, and the Strada Balbi, which connect the Piazza
Amorosa with the Piazza dell'Annunziata. These palaces, the Doria, the Durazzo, the Ducal Palace, and others of less munificence, with their vast halls, their marble staircases, vestibules, and terraces, and the aspect of splendor and munificence they wear, - have given this commercial city the title of Genoa the Superb. And, as if to humble her pride, some envious rival among the Italian cities has launched at her a biting sarcasm in the well known proverb, “ Mare senza pesce, uomini senza fede, e donne senza vergogna,” – A sea without fish, men without faith, and women without shame!
The road from Genoa to Lucca strongly resembles that from Nice to Genoa. It runs along the seaboard, now dipping to the water's edge, and now climbing the zigzag mountainpass, with toppling crags, and yawning chasms, and verdant terraces of vines and olive-trees. Many a sublime and many a picturesque landscape catches the traveller's eye, now almost weary with gazing ; and still brightly painted upon my mind lies a calm evening scene on the borders of the Gulf of Spezia, with its broad sheet of crystal water, — the blue-tinted hills that form its oval basin, - the crimson sky above. and its bright reflection,
of my windows was the venerable church of Santa Maria Novella, in whose gloomy aisles Boccaccio has placed the opening scene of his Decamerone. There, when the plague was raging in the city, one Tuesday morning, after mass, the “ seven ladies, young and fair,” held counsel together, and resolved to leave the infected city, and flee to their rural villas in the environs, where they might hear the birds sing, and see the green hills, and the plains, and the fields covered with grain and undulating like the sea, and trees of species manifold.”
In the Florentine museum is a representation in wax of some of the appalling scenes of the plague which desolated this city about the middle of the fourteenth century, and which Boccaccio has described with such simplicity and power in the introduction of his Decamerone. It is the work of a Sicilian artist, by the name of Zumbo. He must have been a man of the most gloomy and saturnine imagination, and more akin to the worm than most of us, thus to have revelled night and day in the hideous mysteries of death, corruption, and the charnel-house. It is strange how this representation haunts one. It is like a dream of the sepulchre, with its loathsome corses, with “the blackening, the swelling, the bursting of the trunk, - the worm, the rat, and the tarantula at work.” You breathe more freely as you step out into the open air again ; and when the bright sunshine and the crowded busy streets next meet your eye, you are ready to ask, Is this indeed a representation of reality ? Can this pure air have been laden with pestilence? Can this gay city have ever been a city of the plague?
The work of the Sicilian artist is admirable as a piece of art; the description of the Florentine prose-poet equally admirable as a piece of eloquence. “How many vast palaces," he exclaims,“ how many beautiful houses, how many noble dwellings, aforetime filled with lords and ladies and trains of servants, were now untenanted even by the lowest menial ! How many memorable families, how many ample heritages, how many renowned possessions, were left without an heir! How many valiant
beautiful women, how many gentle youths breakfasted in the morn
“ Where it lay Deep bosomed in the still and quiet bay, The sea reflecting all that glowed above, Till a new sky, softer but not so gay, Arched in its bosom, trembled like a dove."
Pisa, the melancholy city, with its Leaning Tower, its Campo Santo, its bronze-gated cathedral, and its gloomy palaces, - Florence the Fair, with its magnificent Duomo, its gallery of ancient art, its gardens, its gay society, and its delightful environs, — Fiesole, Camaldoli, Vallombrosa, and the luxuriant Val d'Arno; - these have been so often and so beautifully described by others, that I need not repeat the twice-told tale.
At Florence I took lodgings in a house which looks upon the Piazza Novella. In front
ing with their relatives, companions, and friends, and, when the evening came, supped with their ancestors in the other world! ”
“ Under this stone lies the victim of sorrow,
Fly, wandering stranger, from her mouldering dust, Lest the rude wind, conveying a particle thereof unto
thee, Should communicate that venom melancholy That has destroyed the strongest frame and liveliest
spirit. With joy of heart has she resigned her breath, A living martyr to sensibility!"
How inferior in true pathos is this inscription to one in the cemetery of Bologna : —
Implora eterna pace.”
I met with an odd character at Florence, a complete humorist. He was an Englishman of some forty years of age, with a round goodhumored countenance, and a nose that wore the livery of good company. He was making the grand tour through France and Italy, and home again by the way of the Tyrol and the Rhine. He travelled post, with a double-barrelled gun, two pairs of pistols, and a violin without a bow. He had been in Rome without seeing St. Peter's, — he did not care about it; he had seen St. Paul's in London. He had been in Naples without visiting Pompeii, because “ they told him it was hardly worth seeing, — nothing but a parcel of dark streets and old walls." The principal object he seemed to have in view was to complete the grand tour.
I afterward met with his counterpart in a countryman of my own, who made it a point to see everything which was mentioned in the guide-books; and boasted how much he could accomplish in a day. He would dispatch a city in an incredibly short space of time. A Roman aqueduct, a Gothic cathedral, two or three modern churches, and an ancient
were only a breakfast for him. Nothing came amiss ; not a stone was left unturned. A city was like a Chinese picture to him, — it had no perspective. Every object seemed of equal magnitude and importance. He saw them all; they were all wonderful.
“ Life is short, and art is long,” says Hippocrates; yet spare me from thus travelling with the speed of thought, and trotting, from daylight until dark, at the heels of a cicerone, with an umbrella in one hand, and a guide-book and, plan of the city in the other.
ruin or so,
Lucretia Picini implores eternal peace !
From Florence to Rome I travelled with a vetturino, by the way of Siena. We were six days upon the road, and, like Peter Rugg in the story book, were followed constantly by clouds and rain. At times, the sun, not allforgetful of the world, peeped from beneath his cowl of mist, and kissed the swarthy face of his beloved land ; and then, like an anchorite, withdrew again from earth, and gave himself to heaven. Day after day the mist and the rain were my fellow-travellers; and as I sat wrapped in the thick folds of my Spanish cloak, and looked out upon the misty landscape and the leaden sky, I was continually saying to myself, “ Can this be Italy?” and smiling at the untravelled credulity of those who, amid the storms of a northern winter, give way to the illusions of fancy, and dream of Italy as a sunny land, where no wintry tempest beats, and where, even in January, the pale invalid may go about without his umbrella, or his India-rubber walk-in-the-waters.
Notwithstanding all this, with the help of a good constitution and a thick pair of boots, I contrived to see all that was to be seen upon the road. I walked down the long hillside at San Lorenzo, and along the border of the Lake of Bolsena, which, veiled in the driving mist, stretched like an inland sea beyond my ken; and through the sacred forest of oak, held in superstitious reverence by the peasant, and inviolate from his axe. I passed a night at Montefiascone, renowned for a delicate Muscat wine, which bears the name of Est, and made a midnight pilgrimage to the tomb of the
I copied the following singular inscription from a tombstone in the Protestant cemetery at Leghorn. It is the epitaph of a lady, written by herself, and engraven upon her tomb at her own request.