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(New Monthly Magazine, March.)
SKETCHES OF ITALY IN PROSE AND VERSE.
Passage of the Alps.
Hail, lovely land ! from cliff's where Winter reigns
And yet I linger-Yes, thou Power sublime,
Pill all the bitter ills of life, which tear
Nature, these mental spectres baunt not thee.
ducted me into Italy. What I saw edge of the road to mark its direction, and felt on the occasion suggested the and which must be at least sixteen feet foregoing lines. I will detail in prose, high, were almost covered. The snowy from the memoranda I made on the masses impended over our heads from spot, more accurately, the observations the verge of perpendicular cliffs, and which occurred to me, and the emo- threatened to descend and overwhelm tions which I experienced.
us as we passed ; or they had fallen April 5. We left the small town across the road, and had been cut of St. Michael at break of day, and at through by the workmen constantly the first post arrived at Modene, situa- employed on Mont Cenis, in order or ted very romantically at the entrance to afford a passage. Whether Hanniof a deep defile of precipitous moun- bal passed over Mont Cenis or not has tains. From Modene we began very been a subject of debate and inquiry. perceptibly to ascend, although the It is however, impossible to cross it commencement of the passage of Mont without perpetually recurring to the Cenis is not reckoned from this place, adventures of the Punic chiel, and the but from Lans-le-bourg, a stage farther. admirable narrative of his historian. The scenery, upon our leaving Modene, “ Ex propinquo visa montium altitudo, assumed the wildest and most magnifi- nivesque cælo prope immixtæ, tecta cent character: the precipices were informia imposita rupibus, pecora jusudden and deep, the valleys below mentaque torrida frigore, homines inhollowed out into a variety of savage tonsi et inculti, animalia inanimaque forms, and their natural gloom increas- omnia rigentia gelu, cætera visu quám ed by the thick woods of pine which dictu fædiora tnrrorem renovarunt." overhung them; the mountains peaked The day was very cold, and the wind and covered with snow, and projecting rushing down the deep gorges of the their bleak and barren sides and straight mountain, and bringing with it partiunbroken lines into the glens beneath. cles of snow, beat directly in our faces, At Lans-le-bourg we had attained an and added much to the difficulty of the elevation above the sea of more than ascent. We, however, reached the 4000 feet. From this place the ascent highest part of the road in about two became more rapid: we were forced to hours and a half. We then traversed put on an additional pair of horses to a dreary plain, completely buried under the carriage, and to take with us some the snow, from one part of which we peasants, to assist in supporting its had a fine view of the highest peak of weight on the edge of the precipices, Mont Cenis, which, as we passed, burst which, by the accumulation of snow, for a few moments from the clouds were rendered more than usually dan- that surrounded it, and then retired gerous. We proceeded on foot, in or- again into obscurity. On this plain is der to have a more perfect view of the situated a convent, the monks of which scenery. The road ascended by long are especially charged with the care traverses, six of which, each a mile in and protection of the distressed travellength, led from Lans-le-bourg to the ler. Near the convent is a lake which highest point of Mont Cenis which it I conclude to be the one which Strabo was necessary to pass. Our prospect notices as the sources of the rivers was dreary in the extreme: on every Druentias and Durias. At a short disside we saw wide-expanded snows, in- tance beyond, near a single house callterrupted only by dark woods of pine, ed the Grande Croix, we found sledges which stretched up the mountains. waiting for us. We placed ourselves The snows were in some parts so deep, in them, and began to descend very
rapidly. Each sledge was drawn by a descended in our carriage the rest of mule, and guided by an athletic weath- the way to Susa, along an excellent er-beaten mountaineer. In one place the road. We soon perceived that we descent was so rapid, that my guide dis- were approaching a warmer climate ; missed the mule, and directed the sledge the snow disappeared altogether from down a shelving bank of snow, so steep the edges of the roads, although at the that my own weight was sufficient corresponding elevation on the side of to impel it with considerable velocity. Savoy it was several feet deep; the air Nothing could be wilder than the whole was much milder, and breathed upon scene. The mountaineers with their us the balmy softness of Italy. About sledges bounding from rock to rock, or an hour before we reached the foot of sliding with their burden down the ridg- the mountain, Susa was visible, deeply es of congealed snow; the bare broad sunk amidst cliffs of great elevation. cliffs hung with icicles, or the torrent As we descended, and as the mountains suspended in its course by the frost ; by which we had been so long surthe road winding above our heads in rounded gradually opened, we caught short traverses, down which was seen a glimpse of the distant Italian plains at a distance the carriage slowly de- and hills, seen through the vista of the scending; a rude bridge thrown across termination of the range of Cenis. a chasm or mountain-stream ; the deep At one point the view was extremely black valley below, in which appeared beautiful : vineyards and majestic the small solitary village half buried woods of chesnut formed the forebeneath the impending rocks; and the ground; the small village of Novalese, vast amphitheatre of Mont Cenis, with with the spire of its church, appeared a its attendant mountains closing in every little beyond; Susa still farther; and direction around us, covered with snow the river Duria, winding amidst the and veiled in clouds—all together form- dark cliffs of the Alps, seemed to steal ed a scene of impressive magnificence along with delight to the purple hills and desolation. We left our sledges and green plains of Italy, which were at a small place called San Nicolo, and seen faintly in the distance.
PHILLIPS'S HISTORY.* MR. Phillips is very advantageously together a mass of intelligence at once
known to the public by his former entertaining in the perusal, and replete work, which, though defective and er with matter that may be turned to plearoneous in parts, yet possesses so much sure and profit in the every-day routine of curious information and useful in- of life. struction as to be very generally accep During the reign of George III. siz table to almost every class of 'readers. thousand seven hundred and fifty-six The volumes now offered are equally rare exotics were introduced intoGreat deserving of praise. The author has Britain ; and the fostering rule of his bestowed similar pains in digging into august successor assures us that still ancient writers for the opinions of an more marked and rapid progress will tiquity on the vegetable world, the continue to be made in thus improving strange ideas entertained of the prop- and enriching the country. To exemerties of particular plants, the supersti- plify our subject in details, we pass Artions connected with others, and the tichoke, Asparagus, Asphodel, Barley, domestic purposes to which all that &c. &c. being attracted by its poetical were known at certain eras were appli- analogies to Ocimum or Basil. Mr. P. ed. This research, mixed as it is with defines its order genus, &c. and says, the statement of recent discoveries, and “ The difficulty of overcoming superthe results of an improved system al- stitious prejudices is fully exemplified ways creating new varieties, forms al- in this fragrant herb. It was an opin
History of Cultivated Vegetables ; comprising their Botanical, Medicinal, Edible, and Chemical quali tics ; Natural History: and relation
to Arts, Science, and Commerce. By Henry Phillips, author of the His tory of Fruits known in Great Britain. London, 1829
ion among the ancients, that if basil was believed, that the souls of such as were pounded and put under a stone, it departed, resided in beans; therefore would breed serpents; from this notion they were eaten at funerals and obseits use was decried ;—and when it was quies of the dead. transplanted into our climate, which “ Varro relates, that the great priests was found too cold for serpents, these or sacrificers, called Flamines, abstainreptiles degenerated into worms and ed from beans on this account, as also maggots, which, we are told, this vege- from a supposition that certain letters table will engender, if it be only chew- or characters were to be seen in the ed, and put into the sun.
flowers, that indicated heaviness and “ Basil was condemned by Chrysip- signs of death. Clemens Alexandrinus pus, more than two hundred years B.C. as attributes the abstinence from beans to being hurtful to the stomach, a suppres- the opinion that they occasioned sterilsor of urine, an enemy to the sight, and ity ; which is confirmed by Theophrasa robber of the wits. Diodorus added, tus, who extends the effects even to the that the eating of this plant caused cu- plants. taneous insects; and the Africans were “The Egyptian priests held it a persuaded that no person could survive crime to look at beans, judging the if he were stung by a scorpion on the very sight unclean. The Flamens Disame day that he had eaten basil. alis was not permitted even to mention
“We notice the story told by Hollerus the name. Lucian introduces a philosof this plant to shew how far supersti- opher in hell saying, that to eat beans, tion and credulity carried the ill effects and to eat our father's head, were equal of basil. He relates, that an Italian by crimes. frequent smelling this herb, bred a scor “ Beans make one of the finest of all pion in his brain.
baits for fish, if prepared in the follow“ The Romans sowed the seeds of this ing manner : Steep them in warm waplant with maledictions and ill words, ter. for about six hours; then boil them believing that the more it was cursed, in river-water in a new earthen pot, the better it would prosper ; and when glazed in the inside ; when about half they wished for a crop, they trod it boiled, to a quart of beans add two down with their feet, and prayed to the ounces of honey, and about a grain of gods that it might not vegetate:
musk; after which let them boil for “ The French are now so partial to a short time. Select a clear part of the the flavour and qualities of this plant, water, and throw in a few of these beans that its leaves enter into the composi- early in the morning, and again at evention of almost all their soups and sauces.” ing, for two or three days, which will
Our next examples shall be drawn draw the fish together, and they may be from the more familiar Faba or Bean, taken in a casting net in great numbers. and Brassica or cabbage“ The meal of beans is the heaviest
66 The Roman name Brassica, came, made from pulse, and was called in
as is supposed, from præseco, because Latin lomentum. This was mingled also called Caluis in Latin, on account
it was cut off from the stalk: it was with frumentic corn, whole, and so of the goodness of its stalks, and from eaten by the ancients ; but they some which the English name Cole, Colwort, times, by way of having a dainty, bruised it first: it was considered a strong
or Colewort, is derived. The word food, and was generally eaten with Cabbage, by which all the varieties of gruel or pottage. It was thought to this plant are now improperly called, dull the senses and understanding, and means the firm head or ball that is to cause troublesome dreams. Pythag- each other; from that circumstance we
formed by the leaves turning close over oras expressly forbade beans to be
say the cole has cabbaged, or the tailor eaten by his disciples, because he sup
has cabbaged. posed them to have been produced from the same putrid matter from which,
"Your tailor, instead of shreds, cabat the creation of the world, man was
bages whole yards of cloth.'*, formed. The Romans at one time * Arbuthnot's History of John Bull.
“ From thence arose the cant word “Take two table spoonfuls of small applied to tailors, who formerly worked red pepper, or three of common Caat the private houses of their customers, yenne pepper, add two of fine salt, and where they were often accused of cab- beat them into a paste ; add half a pint baging; which means the rolling up of boiling water, strain off the liquor pieces of cloth, instead of the lists and when cold, and add to it half a pint of shreds, which they claim as their due. very sharp vinegar. Give a table
“ We cannot here pass over the ad- spoonful every half hour as a dose for vice of Bruyerinus, respecting the pre- an adult, and so in proportion for paring cabbage for the table. “I must,” younger patients. Perhaps this medisays he,“ expose an error, which is no cine might merit a trial in the yellow less common than pernicious, in pre- fever.* paring cabbage. Most people, in con “ The general mode of preparing Casequence of the ignorance of their yenne pepper is by gathering the bird cooks, eat it after it has been long boil- peppers when ripe, drying them in the ed, a circumstance which does not a sun, powdering and mixing them with little diminish both its grateful taste and salt, which, when well dried, is put insalutary qualities. But I observe, that to close corked bottles, for the purpose those who have a more polite and ele- of excluding the air, which disposes the gant turn, order their cabbage to be salt to liquefy, and therefore is thought slightly boiled, put into dishes, and sea- by some an improper ingredient in the soned with salt and oil; by which composition. This is sometimes called method they assume a beautiful green Cayenne butter, and is is general escolour, become grateful to the taste, teem for the excellent relish it gives to and proper for keeping the body solu different dishes." ble. This circumstance ought not to be 6 Fennel.-- The common fennel is forgot by those who are lovers of cab- now but little used for culinary purThe ancients boiled their cabbage
poses, except as a saucc for mackerel.
The French epicures keep their fish in with nitre, which rendered it at once the leaves of fennel to make them firm. more grateful to the palate, and more It is also used in France, in water-suché, agreeable to the eye.
and all fish soups. In the Economical Journal of France, « The whole of the plant is good in the following method of guarding cab- soup or broth. It was formerly the bages from the depredations of cater. practice to boil fennel with all fish, and pillars, is stated to be infallible ; and it never would have been discontinued, may, perhaps, be equally serviceable had its virtues been more generally against those which infect other vege- known; for it consumes the phlegmatic tables.
humour, in which most fish abound, 6 Sow a belt of hemp-seed round the and which greatly annoys many per'borders of the ground where the cab sons who are fond of boiled fish. Our bages are planted, and although the fishmongers should at all times have a neighbourhood be infected with cater- plentiful supply of this hardy and pillars, the space enclosed by the hemp wholesome herb, every part of which will be perfectly free, and not one of
agrees with the stomach. these vermin will approach it.”
“ It is one of the five opening roots : The following miscellaneous extracts it is recommended in broth to cleanse from the first volume will further illus- the blood, and remove obstructions of trate Mr. Phillips' production
the liver, and to clear and improve the “Guinea Pepper.- The following complexion after the jaundice and other receipt is the famous pepper medicine sickness. for the cure of malignant influenza and “ The seed is one of the greater carsore throats ; which has been found minative seeds; and, boiled in barleyhighly efficacious, and is recommended water, is good for nurses, as it is said as a powerful diaphorectic, stimulant, to increase milk and make it more and antiseptic.