Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

WASHINGTON IRVING From the purtrait by Charles Martin. Reproduced by permission of Messrs. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.

A Festal Day in Rome

By Washington Irving

HE narrative contained in these extracts from the diary of Washington

Irving has not heretofore been published. In 1804 Washington Irving was twenty-one years old ; New York was a provincial city of about twenty-five thousand inhabitants, Jefferson was President of the United States, and packets made the trip to Europe in five or six weeks !

The youth who was to begin the literary expression of American life by the publication of the first book of genuine literary quality had not taken kindly to the fixed hours and recurring tasks of school life, and had said good-by to formal instruction at the premature age of sixteen, having refused to follow his brothers' example and take the course at Columbia College ; he had been keeping up a semblance of law study in the office of Ogden Hoffman, but his real occupation was desultory reading and dreaming in quiet places or on the piers. He was modest and

[graphic]

unobtrusive, but he had marked social qualities, a charming humor, and he was very popular in the little metropolis. He had the literary temperament, but he was not, for a number of years, to become conscious of his gifts and his future work.

In 1804 Irving's health showed alarming signs of failure, and when he sailed for Bordeaux in May the captain of the vessel, as he saw the fragile young man helped up the gangway, is reported to have said, “There's a chap who will go overboard before we get across.” On the 25th of June the vessel was at the mouth of the Gironde, and Irving wrote to his brother that he was already much stronger. It was in the good old days of dirty inns and leisurely diligences ; the different countries had lost little of their individuality of dress, habit, and manners. Irving had immense relish of life, a sharp eye, and a contagious humor. “I am a young man and in Paris,” he wrote to a friend who complained of the infrequency of his letters. He had the gift of loitering, and he slowly approached Rome through many French and Italian cities, reaching the capital late in March, 1805. On his arrival in Bordeaux he had begun to keep a journal, in which he made, in pencil, a record of his travels and experiences ; and, later, he expanded and elaborated many of these memoranda into charming bits of descriptive or character sketches. He remained in Rome until after Holy Week, and it was during this time that he saw the ceremony described in the following passages from his diary, now published for the first time. The MS. volume from which this extract is made is somewhat discolored, but it is entirely legible, in Irving's familiar handwriting. In some cases, as in that of the passage which The Outlook has the pleasure of giving its readers, the account is complete ; in other cases the notes are disconnected and were evidently jotted down for future use. Irving was unconsciously falling into the writer's habit. This description of a curious and interesting ceremonial has intrinsic interest, and it is significant of the quality and growth of one of the most charming of modern writers—the man who was to remove from America the reproach which Sydney Smith had just brought against it; for with the “ History of New York " this country began to have a literature.-THE EDITORS.

CUNDAY, May 24.–We have arrived thedral of St. Peter; but one of the most

at the moment when this city is all singular and attractive parts of the process

in a bustle in celebrating the great is now concealed from the eyes and ears fête. On this day five new saints were of the vulgar, and transacted in private. beatified. This is a ceremony which, I I allude to that ordeal in which the am told, has not occurred in forty years; claim of the candidate is tested. When the expenses attending it being very great an attorney appears as proxy for a saint, No saint-elect is admitted to the honor and another as advocate for his Satanic until he is able to pay his shot. The par- Majesty ; when the cause is ingeniously and ticular votaries of each candidate for the elaborately, and sometimes satirically, araureola are therefore under the necessity gued—the candidate claiming the office, of saying masses and collecting contribu- the Prince of the gloomy realm claiming tions on his account, throughout the pale the candidate-pull d- , pull baker, of the Catholic Church, till they can accu- while his Holiness of the triple crown mulate a sufficient sum to defray his share sits umpire of the contest-this would of the attendant expenses. Of the five have been a trial of skill worthy of obsersaints this day added to the calendar, vation. But this contest is no longer three are females and two males; of the visible. “ Procul, O procul este, profani” latter, one is a negro. His sable saintship is a motto daily more brought into praclabored in the Catholic vineyard under the tice in the more mystic ceremonies of the burning rays of a South American sun. Church, and many ancient rites, which But it is, I believe, above a century since used to blazon themselves in open day, at he departed this sublunary planet. So present, like the miraculous portrait of long is the interval during which he has the Virgin in the Church of Annunciata been compelled to wait the slow accumu- at Florence, seek the friendly shelter of a lation of his funds.

veil. The ceremonies attendant on the beati- Religious ceremonies, celebrated with ficațion were performed in the great Ca- great pomp, now constitute the principal features of the beatification; and the Processions were daily exhibited on the benediction of the multitude from the part of individual churches, and illuminafront of St. Peter's Church is the most tions of different churches, the palaces of striking and brilliant part of the exhibi- particular ambassadors, etc., etc., occurred tion. The manner in which this was per- every evening. - One simple but very formed I detailed in the notes on the fête showy method of exhibiting bonfires or of ascension, when I was first at Rome. illuminations was practiced. These con

On Sunday evening the principal parts sisted of barrels of straw or shavings of the city were illuminated to express the which were arranged round a square, as joy of the public at the accession the the Piazza Colonna, etc., and when these corps of saints had that morning received. were set on fire the staves confined the Rome seemed for the moment converted material and retained the flames so as to into Naples, such was the bustle and render it much more permanent than I throng of carriages and pedestrians that should have expected. The reflection of crowded the illuminated streets. We gave these columns of flame on the surroundourselves up to the guidance of the multi- ing buildings, the obelisks and lofty coltude, and moved in a current through the umns, was very powerful. The procesVia del Corso, Piazza del Colonna, etc., sions were of various kinds. In some etc., to the Bridge of the Angels, over instances the penitents in white robes had which a long line of carriages was contin- their heads entirely covered with white ually rolling, while old Tiber reflected in linen veils, with merely openings for the a fiery glow the strong glare of illumination eyes, large tapers in their hands, etc., etc. that brightened the surface of his waters. The multitude in the streets uncovered

From the Ponte degli Angeli we pro- and on their knees as the host passed ceeded to the grand area in front of them. St. Peter's Cathedral, scarcely bestowing On Tuesday, High Mass was performed a glance on the Castle of St. Angelo as we by the Sovereign Pontiff in person ; but passed along. The splendid scene that on Thursday, the 28th, the great fête of here presented, seemed to realize the vis- Corpus Christi was the scene of the grandions of romance, or the fairy fabrics of est procession the church could command, enchantment. The whole façade of the or Rome, even at this period, could furCathedral, to the very cross upon the nish. On this occasion all the different apex of the dome, was covered with thou- orders of priesthood, in their various sands of small lamps, so arranged as to grades and costumes, the different orders disclose the elegant proportions of the of monks in their peculiar habiliments, structure. It seemed an edifice con the officers of the Church, and civil officers structed of innumerable stars, arranged of the city in their insignia and decorations, according to the most beautiful order of the cardinals in their robes and miters, architecture. The pillars of the project- together with the Pope in person borne on ing portico being illuminated in similar his palanquin and followed by an escort style, the spacious area before it, with its of cavalry, proceeded according to their obelisk and fountains, was as light as day, seniority in inverted order to the Church half surrounded by the colonnade in a of St. Peter. Here the procession opened crescent of brilliant fire, the majestic for the passage of his Holiness, closing temple in the center of the crescent. This successively in rear of him. They entered vast area was the theater on which a mul- through the colonnade of the portico on titude of gay and fashionable figures, in- the left to the church. The colonnades, termingled with monks, abbés, and cardi- with the vestibules, were hung with paintnals, exhibited their diversified costumes ings in the Gobelin tapestry, and crowded in motley groups. The gentle ascent dis- with beautiful females draped out to the played them to suitable advantage. A long greatest advantage. line of carriages, full of males and females In this procession I had an opportunity gayly dressed, were moving in a waving of seeing the various orders of monks in circuit, the number being too great to their respective costumes—Capuchins, return through the passages by which they Benedictines, Franciscans, etc., etc. came, and which were crowded with the Among them were many fine and veneramultitude in a continual stream.

ble heads, and among the cardinals some

noble countenances, dignified and com- remote occurrence, they are so silly and manding figures. The Pope was borne ridiculous that I wonder they should have on the shoulders of men, apparently in a been disclosed to the public eye. These kneeling attitude, his eyes bent downward, handsome streamers of white tapestryhis hands clasped and reclining on a for they seem of that material—should cushion before him, on which the host was have been held sacred to the private concarried. A multitude of lighted torches clave in which the claims of the candiwere borne in this procession, and added dates were tested ; for the scene of that to its solemnity and interest. Some cere- judicial inquiry they would have served as monies were performed within the church appropriate ornaments. In one of these, at the great altar, by the Pope in person. Saint Somebody is represented curing a

In this procession the appearance of sore leg; in another, a pain in the hip, the spectators was not less interesting to etc., etc., which had resisted the force of me than that of the high dignitaries and medicine. The other exploits of these miscellaneous brotherhood of the Church. saintships are in a style equally puerile and Previous to the arrival of the cortège, I ridiculous, but they serve to make handpassed with my companions through the some paintings. avenues it was to occupy. A lane was Handsome effects are produced by kneelformed for it, each side bordered with ing female figures in white and flowing seats rising behind each other, and filled drapery. There are no seats or benches with handsome females of every different in the church to take off from the grandeur grade, from the princess to the cottage of the coup d'ail. Males and females maid. Rome and its environs exhibited enter and kneel in any spot that strikes on this occasion all their beauties. The their fancies—in a corner, or in the center, windows of the houses and palaces were on the clean and polished marble pavepeopled in a similar manner, and received ment. the further decoration of all the finery After one of our visits to St. Peter's their owners could exhibit; rich damasks Church we availed ourselves of a leisure and costly tapestry hung down from the hour to pay our respects to the Holy windows covering the fronts of the houses. Office, or Inquisition, the buildings of

After the ceremonies were concluded, which are adjacent and in the rear of the we lingered in the church viewing its Cathedral. We paced the interior courts, splendid and interesting contrasts. But mounted the stairways, and penetrated we had already paid it repeated visits. It into the long corridors of the building. presents an inexhaustible source for the Solitude and silence reigned in most of gratification of curiosity. At present, how- them. We saw occasionally a distant ever, it is loaded with adventitious orna- door open, and a priest or abbé occasionments, which have a handsome effect in ally made his appearance and gazed at us themselves, but veil the more simple and as we passed. We were determined, howmajestic architecture of the building. The ever, to see as much as we could of this walls are covered with crimson hangings of once so formidable establishment. We silk, with border of broad gold lace. Silk therefore jogged on, sometimes with an flags are hung between the arches of the air of business, sometimes with the gaze columns, exhibiting in handsome paintings of curiosity, but always passed on, peeped the exploits of saints who have received into small chambers and narrow passages, the honors of beatitude. As these mirac- or peered through the casements of large ulous proofs relate to facts at present of apartments.

[graphic]

Nature Study

By John Burroughs AM often asked by editors of educa- of the wild creatures, he will have a better tional journals and by teachers and discipline for his eye and ear and hand,

principals of schools to write or talk and when he comes home at night, if he upon Nature Study. My reply is, Why have less science, he will have more love should I, who never study nature, write and relish for nature and a free life in the or speak upon Nature Study? I have open air. loved nature and spent many of my days The knowledge of nature that comes in the fields and woods in as close inti- easy, that comes through familiarity with macy with her varied forms of life as I her, as through fishing, hunting, nutting, could bring about, but a student of nature walking, farming--that is the kind that in any strict, scientific sense I have not reaches and affects the character and bebeen. What knowledge I possess of her comes a grown part of us. We absorb creatures and ways has come to me through this as we absorb the air, and it gets into contemplation and enjoyment, rather than the blood. Fresh, vital knowledge is one through delibe rate study of her. I have thing; the desiccated fact is another. Do been occupied more with the spirit than we know the wild flower when we have with the letter of her works. In our time, it analyzed it and pressed it, or made a seems to me, too much stress is laid upon drawing of it? Of course this is one the letter. We approach nature in an kind of knowledge and is suited to cerexact, calculating, tabulating, mercantile tain minds, but if we cannot supplement spirit. We seek to make an inventory of it with the other kind, the knowledge that her storehouse. Our relations with her comes through the heart and the emotake on the air of business, not of love tions, we are poor indeed. and friendship. The clerk of the fields I recently read a lecture on “ How a and woods goes forth with his block of Naturalist is Trained,” and I was forced to printed tablets upon which, and under conclude that I was not and never could various heads, he puts down what he sees, be a naturalist at all, that I knew nothing and I suppose foots it all up and gets at about nature. It seems, from this lecture, the exact sum of his knowledge when he that the best naturalist is he who can cut gets back home. He is so intent upon a fish-egg up into the thinnest slices. the bare fact that he does not see the Talk about hair-splitting ; this egg-splitspirit or the meaning of the whole. He ting of the modern biologist goes far bedoes not see the bird, he sees an ornitho- yond it. An egg is to be split into seclogical specimen; he does not see the tions so thin that twenty-five of them will wild flower, he sees a new acquisition to not equal the thickness of paper; and his herbarium ; in the bird's nest he sees these slices are to be mounted and studied only another prize for his collection. Of with a microscope. Are the great naturalthat sympathetic and emotional intercourse ists really trained in this way? I could but with nature which soothes and enriches the ask. Darwin certainly was not. Darwin soul, he experiences little or none. Though was not an egg-carver. His stupendous rethe sportsman has long since died out of sults were not the result of any “training” me, yet I sometimes react so strongly of this sort, but “ originated,” says Proagainst these calculating nature-students fessor Eimer, “from the simplest observathat I am glad when my boy takes his tions that presupposed no scientific chargun and goes forth upon the river for acter, and were open to be made, with a ducks or into the marshes for woodcock, little tact, by every sharp eye and clear instead of upon a biological or botanical head.” A large and open-eyed study of cruise. He will get a larger nature, he nature and of natural forms, how much will get nearer the spirit of the whole, he more fruitful it is than this minute dissecwill have a more intense and personal ex- tion of germs and eggs! A naturalist is perience, he will pit his wit against that to be trained through his ordinary facul

« AnteriorContinuar »