Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

NOTE-BOOK.

Once more among the old, gigantic hills,

With vapors clouded o'er,
The vales of Lombardy grow dim behind,

And rocks ascend before.
They beckon me, the giants, — from afar,

They wing my footsteps on;
Their helms of ice, their plumage of the pine,
Their cuirasses of stone.

OEHLENSCHLÄGER.

The glorious autumn closed. From the Abruzzi Mountains came the Zampognari, playing their rustic bagpipes beneath the images of the Virgin in the streets of Rome, and hailing with rude minstrelsy the approach of merry Christmas. The shops were full of dolls and playthings for the Bifana, who enacts in Italy the same merry interlude for children that Santiclaus does in the North ; and travellers from colder climes began to fly southward, like sun-seeking swallows.

I left Rome for Venice, crossing the Apennines by the wild gorge of the Strettura, in a drenching rain. At Fano we struck into the sands of the Adriatic, and followed the seashore northward to Rimini, where in the market-place stands a pedestal of stone, from which, as an officious cicerone informed me, “ Julius Cæsar preached to his army, before crossing the Rubicon.” Other principal points in my journey were Bologna, with its Campo Santo, its gloomy arcades, and its sausages; Ferrara, with its ducal palace and the dungeon of Tasso ; Padua the Learned, with its sombre and scholastic air, and its inhabitants “apt for pike or pen.'

- so visionary and fairy-like, - that I almost expected to see the city float away like a cloud, and dissolve into thin air. Howell, in his

Signorie of Venice," says, “ It is the water, wherein she lies like a swan's nest, that doth both fence and feed her.” Again: "She swims in wealth and wantonness, as well as she doth in the waters ; she melts in softness and sensuality, as much as any other whatsoever.” And still further : “ Her streets are

so neat and evenly paved, that in the dead of winter one may walk up and down in a pair of satin pantables and crimson silk stockings, and not be dirtied." And the old Italian proverb says,

“Venegia, Venegia,
Chi non ti vede non ti pregia;
Ma chi t'ha troppo veduto

Ti dispregia!" Venice, Venice, who sees thee not doth not prize thee; but who hath too much seen thee doth despise thee!

Should you ever want a gondolier at Venice to sing you a passage from Tasso by moonlight, inquire for Toni Toscan.

we

I first saw Venice by moonlight, as skimmed by the island of St. George in a felucca, and entered the Grand Canal. A thousand lamps glittered from the square of St. Mark, and along the water's edge. Above rose the cloudy shapes of spires, domes, and palaces, emerging from the sea ; and occasionally the twinkling lamp of a gondola darted across the water like a shooting star, and suddenly disappeared, as if quenched in the wave. There was something so unearthly in the scene,

He has a voice like a raven. I sketched his portrait in my

note-book ; and he wrote beneath it this inscription : -

“ Poeta Natural che Venizian,
Cho el so nome xe un tal Toni Toscan.”

The road from Venice to Trieste traverses a vast tract of level land, with the Friulian Mountains on the left, and the Adriatic on the right. You pass through long avenues of trees, and the road stretches in unbroken perspective before and behind. Trieste is a busy, commercial city, with wide streets in

tersecting each other at right angles. It is a mart for all nations. Greeks, Turks, Italians, Germans, French, and English meet you at every corner and in every coffee-house ; and the ever-changing variety of national countenance and costume affords an amusing and instructive study for a traveller.

own lies in it as in a mould. And hence the name of Greifenstein. In the square tower is Richard's prison, completely isolated from the rest of the castle. A wooden staircase leads up on the outside to a light balcony, running entirely round the tower, not far below its turrets. From this balcony you enter the prison,

a small, square chamber, lighted by two Gothic windows. The walls of the tower are some five feet thick ; and in the pavement is a trap-door, opening into a dismal vault, — a vast dungeon which occupies all the lower part of the tower, quite down to its rocky foundations, and which formerly had no entrance but the trap-door above. In one corner of the chamber stands a large cage of oaken timber, in which the royal prisoner is said to have been

the grossest lie that ever cheated the gaping curiosity of a traveller.

The balcony commands some fine and picturesque views. Beneath you winds the lordly Danube, spreading its dark waters over a wide tract of meadow-land, and forming numerous little islands; and all around, the landscape is bounded by forest-covered hills, topped by the mouldering turrets of a feudal castle or the tapering spire of a village church. The spot is well worth visiting, though German antiquaries say that Richard was not imprisoned there; this story being at best a bold conjecture of what is possible, though not probable.

Trieste to Vienna. Daybreak among the Carnic Alps. Above and around me huge snow-covered pinnacles, shapeless masses in the pale starlight, — till touched by the morning sunbeam, as by Ithuriel's spear, they assume their natural forms and dimensions. A long, winding valley beneath, sheeted with spotless snow. At my side a yawning and rent chasm ; a mountain brook, seen now and then through the chinks of its icy bridge, - black and treacherous, — and tinkling along its frozen channel with a sound like a distant clanking of chains.

Magnificent highland scenery between Grätz and Vienna in the Steiermark. The wild mountain-pass from Meerzuschlag to Schottwien. A castle built like an eagle's nest upon the top of a perpendicular crag.

A little hamlet at the base of the mountain. A covered wagon, drawn by twenty-one horses, slowly toiling up the slippery, zigzag road. A snowstorm. Reached Vienna at midnight.

shut up;

On the southern bank of the Danube, about sixteen miles above Vienna, stands the ancient castle of Greifenstein, where - if the tale be true, though many doubt, and some deny it — Richard the Lion-heart of England was imprisoned, when returning from the third crusade. It is built upon the summit of a steep and rocky hill, that rises just far enough from the river's brink to leave a foothold for the highway. At the base of the hill stands the village of Greifenstein, from which a winding pathway leads you to the old castle. You pass through an arched gate into a narrow courtyard, and thence onward to a large, square tower. Near the doorway, and deeply cut into the solid rock, upon which the castle stands, is the form of a human hand, so perfect that your

From Vienna I passed northward, visiting Prague, Dresden, and Leipsic, and then folding my wings for a season in the scholastic shades of Göttingen. Thence I passed through Cassel to Frankfort-on-the-Maine; and thence to Mayence, where I took the steamboat down the Rhine. These several journeys I shall not describe, for as many several reasons. First,

- but no matter, I prefer thus to stride across the earth like the Saturnian in Micromegas, making but one step from the Adriatic to the German Ocean. I leave untold the wonders of the wondrous Rhine, a fascinating theme. Not even the beauties of the Vautsburg and the Bingenloch shall detain me. I hasten, like the blue waters of that romantic river, to lose myself in the sands of Holland.

THE PILGRIM'S SALUTATION.

Ye who have traced the Pilgrim to the scene
Which is his last, if in your memories dwell
A thought which once was his, if on ye swell
A single recollection, not in vain
He wore his sandal-shoon and scallop-shell.

CHILDE HAROLD.

THESE, fair dames and courteous gentlemen, are some of the scenes and musings of my pilgrimage, when I journeyed away from my kith and kin into the land of Outre-Mer. And yet amid these scenes and musings, - amid all the novelties of the Old World, and the quick succession of images that were continually calling my thoughts away, there were always fond regrets and longings after the land of my birth lurking in the secret corners of my heart. When I stood by the sea-shore, and listened to the melancholy and familiar roar of its waves, it seemed but a step from the threshold of a foreign land to the fireside of home; and when I watched the out-bound sail, fading over the water's edge, and losing itself in the blue mists of the sea, my heart went with it and I turned away fancy-sick with the blessings of home and the endearments of domestic love.

to fill up, as it were, the blanks of existence with the images of those we love! How sweet are these dreams of home in a foreign land ! How calmly across life's stormy sea blooms that little world of affection, like those Hesperian isles where eternal summer reigns, and the olive blossoms all the year round, and honey distils from the hollow oak! Truly, the love of home is interwoven with all that is pure, and deep, and lasting in earthly affection. Let us wander where we may, the heart looks back with secret longing to the paternal roof. There the scattered rays of affection concentrate. Time may enfeeble them, distance overshadow them, and the storms of life obstruct them for a season; but they will at length break through the cloud and storm, and glow, and burn, and brighten around the peaceful threshold of home.

And now, farewell! The storm is over, and through the parting clouds the radiant sunshine breaks upon my path. God's blessing upon you for your hospitality. I fear I have but poorly repaid it by these tales of my pilgrimage; and I bear your kindness meekly, for I come not like Theudas of old, “ boasting myself to be somebody.”

Farewell! My prayer is that I be not among you as the stranger at the court of Busiris ; that your God-speed be not a thrust that kills.

The Pilgrim's benison upon this honorable company. Pax vobiscum!

“I know not how, but in yon land of roses

My heart was heavy still;
I startled at the warbling nightingale,

The zephyr on the hill.
They said the stars shone with a softer gleam:

It seemed not so to me!
In vain a scene of beauty beamed around,

My thoughts were o'er the sea.”

At times I would sit at midnight in the solitude of my chamber, and give way to the recollection of distant friends. How delightful it is thus to strengthen within us the golden threads that unite our sympathies with the past,

1126

THE PROSE WORKS OF HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

COLOPHON

My pilgrimage is ended. I have come home to rest; and, recording the time past, I have fulfilled these things, and written them in this book, as it would come into my mind, — for the most part, when the duties of the day were over, and the world around me was hushed in sleep. The pen wherewith I write most easily is a feather stolen from the sable wing of night. Even now, as I record these parting words, it is long past midnight. The morning watches

have begun. And as I write, the melancholy thought intrudes upon me, — To what end is all this toil? Of what avail these midnight vigils? Dost thou covet fame? Vain dreamer! A few brief days, — and what will the busy world know of thee? Alas! this little book is but a bubble on the stream ; and although it may catch the sunshine for a moment, yet it will soon float down the swift-rushing current, and be seen no more!

[graphic][subsumed]
« AnteriorContinuar »