A Love Story
Part 4 out of 6
passer by with nods of recognition, and smiles of indifference?
What! if, returning homewards--choked with bitter recollections, which
rise fantastic, quick, and ill-defined--the very ghosts of departed
scenes and years--what if we start as we then perceive you--lightsome of
heart, and glib of speech--clustered and smirking, on that roof of
nodding plumes--neath which, one short hour since--lay what was dearest
to us on earth?
Let us not heed these things! for--light as is the task to traders in
death's dark trappings; painful and soul-subduing are those withering
details to the grieving and heart-struck mourner!
We left George lying half insensible by the side of his dead wife.
Sir Henry and Thompson carried him to the apartment of the former, and
while Thompson hung over his master, attempting to restore
consciousness--Delme had a short conference with Doctor Pormont as to
their ulterior proceedings.
Doctor Pormont--as might be expected--enjoined the greatest promptitude,
and recommended that poor Acme's remains, should be consigned to the
burial place of the hamlet.
George's objections to this, however, as soon as he was well enough to
comprehend what was going forward, seemed quite insurmountable; and after
Sir Henry had sought the place by moonlight, and found it wild and open,
with goats browsing on the unpicturesque graves, and with nothing to mark
the sanctity of the spot, save a glaring painted picture of the Virgin,
his own prejudices became enlisted, and he consented to proceed to Rome.
After this decision was made, he found it utterly impossible, to procure
a separate conveyance for the corpse; and was equally unsuccessful in his
attempt to procure that--which from being a common want, he had been
disposed to consider of every day attainment--a coffin.
While his brother made what arrangements he best might, poor George
returned to the chamber of death, and gazed long and fixedly--with the
despair of the widower--on those hushed familiar features.
Her hair was now turned back, and was bound with white ribbon, and
festooned with some of the very water lilies that Acme had admired. A
snow-white wreath bound her brow. It was formed of the white convolvulus.
We have said the features were familiar; but oh! how different! The yellow
waxen hue--the heavy stiffened lid--how they affected George Delme, who
had never looked on death before!
First he would gaze with stupid awe--then turn to the window, and attempt
to repress his sobs--return again--and refuse to credit his bereavement.
Surely the hand moved? No! of its free will shall it never move more! The
eye! was there not a slight convulsion in that long dark lash?
No! over it may crawl the busy fly, and creep the destructive worm,
without let, and without hindrance!
No finger shall be raised in its behalf--that lid shall remain closed
The insect and the reptile shall extend their wanderings over the
smooth cheek, and revel on the lips, whose red once rivalled that of
the Indian shell.
Moveless! moveless shall all be!
The long--long night wore on.
An Italian sunrise was gilding the heavens.
Acme was never to see a sunrise more; and even this reflection--trite as
it may seem, occurring to one, who had watched through the night, by the
side of the dead--even this reflection, convulsed again the haggard
features of the mourner.
Delme had made the requisite arrangements during the night, for their
Just previous to the carriage being announced, he led George out of the
room; whilst the physician, aided by the women, took such precautions as
the heat of the climate rendered necessary.
Linen cloths, steeped in a solution of chlorate of lime, were closely
wound round the body--a rude couch was placed in the inside of the
carriage, which was supported by the two seats--and the carriage itself
These preparations concluded--and having parted with Doctor
Pormont---whose attentions, in spite of his freezing manner, had been very
great--the brothers commenced their painful task.
George knelt at the head of the corpse--ejaculated one short fervent
prayer--and then, assisted by his brother, bore it in his arms to
The Italian peasants, with rare delicacy, witnessed the scene from the
windows of the inn, but did not intrude their presence.
The body was placed crosswise in the carriage. George sat next the
corpse. Delme sat opposite, regarding his brother with anxious eye.
Most distressing was that silent journey! It made an impression on Sir
Henry's mind, that no after events could ever efface; and yet it had
already been his lot, to witness many scenes of horror, and ride over
fields of blood.
We have said it was a silent journey. George's despair was too deep
The first motion of the carriage affected the position of the corpse.
George put one arm round it, and kept it immoveable. Sometimes, his
scalding tears would fall on that cold face, whose outline yet preserved
its beautiful roundness.
It appeared to Sir Henry, that he had never seen life and death, so
closely and painfully contrasted. There sat his brother, in the full
energies of manhood and despair; his features convulsed--his frame
quivering--his sobs frequent--his pulse quick and disturbed.
There lay extended his mistress--cold--colourless--silent--unimpassioned.
There was life in the breeze that played on her raven tresses--grim death
was enthroned on the face those tresses swept.
Not that decay's finger had yet really assailed it; but one of the
peculiar properties of the preservative used by Doctor Pormont, is its
pervading sepulchral odour.
They reached Rome; and the consummation of their task drew nigh.
Pass we over the husband's last earthly farewell. Pass we over that
subduing scene, in which Henry assisted George to sever long ringlets, and
rob the cold finger, of affection's dearest pledge.
Alas! these might be retained as the legacy of love.
They were useless as love's memento. Memory, the faithful mirror, forbade
the relic gatherer ever to forget!
Would you know where Acme reposes?
A beautiful burial ground looks towards Rome. It is on a gentle declivity
leaning to the south-east, and situated between Mount Aventine and the
Its avenue is lined with high bushes of marsh roses; and the cemetery
itself, is divided into three rude and impressive terraces.
_There_ sleeps--in a modest nook, surmounted by the wall-flower, and by
creeping ivy, and by many-coloured shrubs, and by one simple yellow
flower, of very peculiar and rare fragrance; a type, as the author of
these pages deemed, of the wonderful etherialised genius of the
man--_there_ sleeps, as posterity will judge him, the first of the poets
of the age we live in--Percy Bysshe Shelley! There too, moulders that
wonderful boy author--John Keats.
Who can pass his grave, and read that bitter inscription, dictated on his
deathbed, by the heart-broken enthusiast, without the liveliest emotion?
"Here lies one, whose name was writ in water.
February 4th, 1821."
The ancient wall of Rome, crowns the ridge of the slope we have described.
Above it, stands the pyramid of Caius Caestius, constructed some twenty
Immediately beneath it, in a line with a round tower buried with ivy, and
near the vault of our beautiful countrywoman, Miss Bathurst, who was
thrown from her horse and drowned in the Tiber, may be seen a sarcophagus
of rough granite, surmounted by a black marble slab.
Luxuriant with wild flowers, and studded even in the winter season, with
daisies and violets, the sides of the tomb are now almost concealed. Over
the slab, one rose tree gracefully droops.
When seen in the dew of the morning, when the cups of the roses are full,
and crystal drops, distilling from leaves and flowers, are slowly
trickling on the dark stone, you might think that inanimate nature was
weeping for the doom of beauty.
Only one word is engraved on that slab. Should you visit Rome, and read
it, recollect this story.
That word is--"Acme!"
* * * * *
Sir Henry and his brother remained at Rome nearly a month.
The former, with hopes that the exertion might be useful, in distracting
George from the constant contemplation of his loss, plunged at once into
the sight-seeing of "the eternal city."
Their days were busily passed--in visiting the classic sites of Rome and
its neighbourhood--in wandering through the churches and convents--and
loitering through the long galleries of the Vatican.
Delme, fearfully looking back on the scenes that had occurred in Malta,
was apprehensive, that George's despair might lead to some violent
outbreak of feeling; and that mind and body might sink simultaneously.
It was not so.
That heavy infliction appeared to bear with it a torpedo-like power. The
first blow, abrupt and stunning, had paralysed. Afterwards, it seemed to
carry with it a benumbing faculty, which repressed external display. We
say _seemed_; for there were not wanting indications, even to Sir Henry's
partial eye, that the wound had sunk very deep,
The mourner _might_ sink, although he did not writhe.
In the mornings, George, followed by Thompson, would find his way to
the Protestant burial ground; and weep over the spot where his wife
During the day, he was Sir Henry's constant and gentle companion; giving
vent to no passionate display, and uttering few unavailing complaints. Yet
it was now, that a symptom of disease first showed itself, which Delme
could not account for.
George would suddenly lean back, and complain of a spasm on the left side
of the chest. This would occasionally, but rarely, affect the circulation.
George's sleep too, was disturbed, and he frequently had to rise from his
bed, and pace the apartment; but this last circumstance, perhaps, was the
mere result of anxiety of mind.
Sir Henry, without informing George, consulted a medical gentleman, who
was well known to him, and who happened to be at Rome at the time,
regarding these novel symptoms.
He was reassured by being informed, that these pains were probably of a
neuralgic character, and not at all likely to proceed from any organic
George Delme's mind was perfectly clear and collected; with the
exception, that he would occasionally allude to his loss, in connection
with some scene or subject of interest before them; and in a tone, and
with language, that, appeared to his brother eccentric, but
For instance, they were at Tivoli, and in the Syren's grotto, looking up
to the foaming fall, which dashes down a rude cleft, formed of
fantastically shaped rocks.
Immediately below this, the waters make a semicircular bend.
On their surface, a mimic rainbow was depicted in vivid colours.
"Not for me!" burst forth the mourner, "not for me! does the arc of
promise wear those radiant hues. Prismatic rays once gilded my existence.
With Acme they are for ever fled. But look! how the stream dashes on! Thus
have the waters of bitterness passed over my soul!"
In the gallery of the Vatican, too, the very statues seemed to speak to
him of his loss.
"I like not," would he exclaim, "that disdainful Apollo. Thus cold,
callous, and triumphing in the work of destruction, must be the angel of
death, who winged the shaft at my bright Acme.
"May the launching of his arrow, have been but the signal, for her
translation to a sphere, more pure than this.
"Let us believe her the habitant of some bright planet, such as she
pointed out to us in the Bay of Naples--a seraph with a golden lyre--and
shrouded in a white cymar! No, no!" would he continue, turning his
footsteps towards the adjacent room, where the suffering pangs of
Apollo's high priest are painfully told in marble, "let let me rather
contemplate the Laocoon! His agony seems to sympathise with mine--but was
his fate as hard? _He_ saw his sons dying before him; could a son, or
sons, be as the wife of one's bosom? The serpent twines around him, too,
awaking exquisite corporeal pangs, but would it not have been luxury to
have died with my Acme?
"Can the body suffer as the mind?"
At night, reposing from the fatigues of the day, might the brothers
frequently be seen at the fountain of Trevi; George listlessly swinging
on the chains near it, and steadfastly watching the water, as it gurgled
over the fantastic devices beneath--while his mind wandered back to
Malta, and to Acme.
Sir Henry's conduct during this trying period was most exemplary. Like the
mother, who lavishes her tenderest endearments on her sickliest child,
did he now endeavour to support his brother in his afflictions.
As the bleak night wind came on, he would arouse George from his
reverie--would make him lean his tall form on his--would wrap closely
the folds of his cloak around him--would speak _so_ softly--and soothe
And gratefully did George's heart respond to his kindness. He knew that
the sorrow which bowed _him_ to the earth, was also blanching the cheek of
his brother, and he loved him doubly for his solicitude.
Ah! few brothers have thus made sweet the fraternal tie!
The East Indian.
"Would I not stem
A tide of suffering, rather than forego
Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm
Of those whose thoughts are only turn'd below,
Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts that dare not glow?"
From Rome and our care-worn travellers, let us turn to Mrs. Vernon's
drawing-room at Leamington.
An unforeseen event suddenly made a considerable change in the hopes and
prospects of our fair friend Julia.
One warm summer's morning--it was on the very day, that the brothers, with
Acme, were sailing close to the Calabrian mountains, and the latter was
telling her ghost story, within view of the sweet village of Capo del
Marte--one balmy summer's morning, the Miss Vernons were seated in a room,
furnished like most English drawing-rooms; that is to say, it had tables
for trinkets--a superb mirror--a Broadwood piano--an Erard harp--a
reclining sofa--and a woolly rug, on which slept, dreamt, and snored, a
small Blenheim spaniel.
Julia had a mahogany frame before her, and was thoughtfully working a
The hue of health had left her cheek. Its complexion was akin to that of
translucent alabaster. The features wore a more fixed and regular aspect,
and their play was less buoyant and quick changing than heretofore.
Deep thought! thus has been thy warfare for ever. First, thou stealest
from the rotund face its joyous dimples; then, dost thou gradually imprint
remorseless furrows on the anxious brow.
A servant entered the room, and bore on a salver a letter addressed to
Its deep black binding--its large coat of arms--bespoke it death's
Julia's cheek blanched as she glanced over its first page.
Her sisters laid down their work, and looked towards her with some
Julia burst into tears.
"Poor uncle Vernon!"
Her sisters seemed surprised at the announcement, but not to participate
in Julia's feelings on the occasion.
One of them took up the letter, which had fallen to the ground, and the
two read its contents.
"How very odd!" said they together, "uncle has left you Hornby, and
Catesfield, and almost all the property!"
"Has he?" replied Julia, "I could not read it all, for however he may
have behaved to mamma, I ever found him good and kind; and had always
hoped, that we might have yet seen him with us once more. Poor old man!
and the letter says a lingering illness--how sad to think that we were
not with him to soothe his pillow, and cheer his death bed!"
"Well!" said one of the sisters reddening, "I must say it was his own
fault. He would not live with his nearest relations, who loved him, and
tried to make his a happy home--but showed his caprice _then_, as he has
_now_. But I will go up stairs, and break it to mamma, and will tell her
you are an heiress."
"An heiress!" replied Julia, with heart-broken tone! "an heiress!" The
tear quivered in her eye; but before the moisture had formed its liquid
bead, to course down her pallid cheek; a thought flashed across her, which
had almost the power to recal it to its cell.
That thought comprised the fervency and timidity--the hopes and fears of
woman's first love. She thought of her last meeting with Sir Henry Delme:
of the objections which might now be removed.
A new vista of happiness seemed to open before her.
It was but for a moment.
The blush which that thought called up, faded away--the tear trickled
on--her features recovered their serenity--and she turned with a sweet
smile to her sisters.
"My dear--dear sisters! it is long since we have seen my poor uncle.
"Affection's ties may have been somewhat loosened. They cannot--I am
sure--have been dissolved.
"Do not think me selfish enough to retain this generous bequest.
"It may yet be in my power, and it no doubt is, to amend its too partial
"Let us be sisters still--sisters in equality--sisters in love and
Julia Vernon was a very noble girl. She lived to become of age, and she
acted up to this her resolve.
And, now, a few words as to the individual, by whose death the Miss
Vernons acquired such an accession of property.
The Miss Vernons' father had an only and a younger brother, who at an
early age had embarked for the East, in the civil service. He had
acquired great wealth, and, after a residence of twenty-five years in the
Bengal Presidency, had returned to England a confirmed bachelor, and a
wealthy nabob. His brother died, while Mr. Benjamin Vernon was on his
passage home. He arrived in England, and found himself a stranger in his
He shouldered his cane through Regent Street, and wandered in the
Quadrant's shade;--and in spite of the novelties that every where met
him--in spite of cabs and plated glass--felt perfectly isolated and
It is true, his Indian friends found him out at the Burlington, and their
cards adorned his mantelpiece--for Mr. Benjamin Vernon was said to be
worth a plum, and to be on the look out for a vacancy in the Directory.
But although these were indisputably his Indian friends, it appeared to
Mr. Vernon, that they were no longer his friends of India. They seemed to
him to live in a constant state of unnatural excitement.
_Some_ prided themselves on being stars in fashion's gayest
circle--others, whom he had hardly known, _were_ fathers--for their
families were educating in England---he now found surrounded by children,
on whose provision they were wholly intent.
These were off at a tangent, "to see Peter Auber, at the India House,"
or, "could not wait an instant; they were to meet Josh: Alexander
precisely at two."
And then their flippant sons! taking wine with him, forsooth--adjusting
their neckcloths--and asking "whether he had met their father at Madras or
This to a true Bengalee!
Nor was this all!
The young renegades ate their curry with a knife!
Others, from whom he had parted years before, shook hands with him at the
Oriental, as if his presence there was a matter of course; and then asked
him "what he thought of Stanley's speech?"
Now, there are few men breathing, who have their sympathies so keenly
alive--who show and who look for, such warmth of heart---who are so
chilled and hurt by indifference--as your bachelor East Indian.
The married one may solace himself for coldness abroad, by sunny smiles at
home;--but the friendless bachelor is sick at heart, unless he encounter a
hearty pressure of the hand--an eye that sparkles, as it catches his--an
interested listener to his thousand and one tales of Oriental scenes, and
of Oriental good fellowship.
Mr. Benjamin Vernon soon found this London solitude--it was worse than
He determined to visit his brother's widow, and left town for Leamington.
The brother-in-law felt more than gratified at the cordial welcome that
there met him.
His heart responded to their tones of kindness, and the old Indian, in the
warmth of his gratitude, thought he had at length discovered a congenial
home. He plunged into the extreme of dangerous intimacy; and was soon
domiciled in Mrs. Vernon's small mansion.
It is absurd what trifles can extinguish friendships, and estrange
affection. Mr. Vernon had always had the controul of his hours--loved his
hookah, and his after-dinner dose.
His brother's widow was an amiable person, but a great deal too
independent, to humour any person's foibles.
She liked activity, and disliked smoking; and was too matter-of-fact in
her ideas, to conceive that these indulgences, merely from force of habit,
might have now become absolute necessities.
Mrs. Vernon first used arguments; which were listened to very patiently,
and as systematically disregarded.
As she thought she knew her ground better, she would occasionally secrete
the hookah, and indulge in eloquent discourse, on the injurious effects,
and waste of time, that the said hookah entailed.
Nor could the old man enjoy in peace, his evening slumber.
One of his nieces was always ready to shake him by the elbow, and address
him with an expostulatory "Oh! dear uncle!" which, though delivered with
silvery voice, seemed to him deuced provoking.
For some time, the old Indian good-naturedly acquiesced in these
arrangements; and was far too polite at any time to scold, or
hazard a scene.
Mrs. Vernon was all complacency, and imagined her triumph assured.
Suddenly the tempest gathered to a head. Bachelor habits regained their
ascendancy; and Mrs. Vernon was thunderstruck, when it was one morning
duly announced to her, that her brother-in-law had purchased a large
estate in Monmouthshire, and that he intended permanently to reside there.
Mrs. Vernon was deeply chagrined.
She thought him ungrateful, and told him so.
At the outset, our East Indian was anxious that his niece Julia, who had
been by far the most tolerant of his bachelor vices, should preside over
his new establishment; but the feelings of the mother and daughter were
alike opposed to this arrangement.
This was the last rock on which he and his brother's widow split; and it
From that hour, all correspondence between them ceased.
Arrived in Wales, our nabob endeavoured to attach himself to country
pursuits--purchased adjoining estates--employed many labourers--and
greatly improved his property. But his rural occupations were quite at
variance with his acquired habits.
He pined away--became hypochondriacal--and died, just three years after
leaving Mrs. Vernon, for want of an Eastern sun, and something to love.
"The seal is set."
On the day fixed for the departure of Sir Henry Delme and his brother,
they together visited once more the sumptuous pile of St. Peter's, and
heard the voices of the practised choristers swell through the mighty
dome, as the impressive service of the Catholic Church was performed by
the Pope and his conclave.
The morning dawn had seen George, as was his daily custom in Rome,
kneeling beside the grave of Acme, and breathing a prayer for their
blissful reunion in heaven.
As the widower staggered from that spot, the thought crossed him, and
bitterly poignant was that thought, that now might he bid a second
earthly farewell, to what had been his pride, and household solace.
Now, indeed, "was the last link broken." Each hour--each traversed
league--was to bear him away from even the remains of his heart's
Their bones must moulder in a different soil.
It was Sir Henry's choice that they should on that day visit Saint
Peter's; and well might the travellers leave Rome with so unequalled an
object fresh in the mind's eye.
Whether we gaze on its exterior of faultless proportions--or on the
internal arrangement, where perfect symmetry reigns;--whether we consider
the glowing canvas--or the inspired marble,--or the rich mosaics;--whether
with the enthusiasm of the devotee, we bend before those gorgeous shrines;
or with the comparative apathy of a cosmopolite, reflect on the historical
recollections with which that edifice--the focus of the rays of
Catholicism--teems and must teem forever;--we must in truth acknowledge,
that _there_ alone is the one matchless temple, in strict and perfect
harmony with Imperial Rome.
Gazing there--or recalling in after years its unclouded majesty--the
delighted pilgrim knows neither shade of disappointment--nor doth he
harbour one thought of decay.
Where is the other building in the "eternal city," of which we can say
Sir Henry Delme had engaged a vettura, which was to convey them with the
same horses as far as Florence.
This arrangement made them masters of their own time, and was perhaps in
their case, the best that could be adopted; for slowness of progress,
which is its greatest objection, was rather desirable in George's then
state of health.
As is customary, Delme made an advance to the vetturino, who usually binds
himself to defray all the expenses at the inns on the road.
The travellers dined early--left Rome in the afternoon--and proposed
pushing on to Neppi during the night.
When about four miles on their journey, Delme observed a mausoleum on the
side of the road, which appeared of ancient date, and rather curious
On consulting his guide-book, he found it designated as the tomb of Nero.
On examining its inscription, he saw that it was erected to the memory of
a Prefect of Sardinia; and he inwardly determined to distrust his
guide-book on all future occasions.
The moon was up as they reached the post-house of Storta.
The inn, or rather tavern, was a small wretched looking building, with a
large courtyard attached, but the stables appeared nearly--if not
Sir Henry's surprise and anger were great, when the driver, coolly
stopping his horses, commenced taking off their harness;--and informed the
travellers, that _there_ must they remain, until he had received some
instructions from his owner, which he expected by a vettura leaving Rome
at a later hour.
It was in vain that the brothers expostulated, and reminded him of
his agreement to stop when they pleased, expressing their
determination to proceed.
The driver was dogged and unmoved; and the travellers had neglected
to draw up a written bargain, which is a precaution absolutely
necessary in Italy.
They soon found they had no alternative but to submit. It was with a very
bad grace they did so, for Englishmen have a due abhorrence of imposition.
They at length stepped from the vehicle--indulged in some vehement
remonstrances--smiled at Thompson's voluble execrations, which they found
were equally unavailing--and were finally obliged to give up the point.
They were shown into a small room. The chief inmates were some Papal
soldiers of ruffianly air, engaged in the clamorous game of moro. Unlike
the close shorn Englishmen, their beards and mustachios, were allowed to
grow to such length, as to hide the greater part of the face.
Their animated gestures and savage countenances, would have accorded well
with a bandit group by Salvator.
The landlord, an obsequious little man, with face pregnant with
mischievous cunning, was watching with interest, the turns of the game;
and assisting his guests, to quaff his vino ordinario, which Sir Henry
afterwards found was ordinary enough.
Delme's equanimity of temper was already considerably disturbed.
The scanty accommodation afforded them, by no means diminished his choler;
which he began to expend on the obstinate driver, who had followed them
into the room, and was busily placing chairs round one of the tables.
"See what you can get for supper, you rascal!"
"Signore! there are some excellent fowls, and the very best wine of
The wine was produced and proved vinegar.
The host bustled away loud in its praise, and a few seconds afterwards,
the dying shriek of a veteran tenant of the poultry yard, warned them that
supper was preparing.
"Thompson!" said George, rather languidly, "do, like a good fellow, see
that they put no garlic with the fowl!"
"I will, Sir," replied the domestic; "and the wine, Mr. George, seems none
of the best. I have a flask of brandy in the rumble."
"Just the thing!" said Sir Henry.
To their surprise, the landlord proffered sugar and lemons.
Sir Henry's countenance somewhat brightened, and he declared he would
Punch! thou just type of matrimony! thy ingredients of sweets and bitters
so artfully blended, that we know not which predominate,--so deceptive,
too, that we imbibe long and potent draughts, nor awake to a consciousness
of thy power, till awoke by headache.
Hail to thee! all hail!
Thy very name, eked out by thine appropriate receptacle, recals raptures
past--bids us appreciate joys present--and enjoins us duly to reverence
thee, if we hope for joys in futurity.
A bowl of punch! each merry bacchanal rises at the call!
Moderate bacchanals all! for where is the abandoned sot, who would not
rather dole out his filthy lucre, on an increase of the mere
alchohol--than expend it on those grateful adjuncts, which, throwing a
graceful veil over that spirit's grossness, impart to it its chief and its
Up rises then each hearty bacchanal! thrice waving the clear tinkling
crystal, ere he emits that joyful burst, fresh from the heart, which from
his uncontrolled emotion, meets the ear husky and indistinct.
Delme squeezed the lemons into not a bad substitute for a bowl, viz. a red
earthen vase of rough workmanship, but elegant shape, somewhat resembling
a modern wine cooler.
George stood at the inn door, wistfully looking upward; when he remarked
an intelligent boy of fourteen, with dark piercing eyes, observing him
On finding he was noticed, he approached with an air of ingenuous
embarrassment--pulled off his cap--and said in a tone of enquiry,
"Un Signore Inglese?"
"Yes! my fine fellow! Do you know anything of me or the English?"
"Oh yes!" replied the boy with vivacity, replacing his cap, "I have
travelled in England, and like London very much."
George conversed with him for some time; and found him to be one of that
class, whose numbers make us unmindful of their wants or their
loneliness; who eke out a miserable pittance, by carrying busts of
plaster-of-Paris--grinding on an organ--or displaying through Europe,
the tricks of some poodle dog, or the eccentricities of a monkey
disguised in scarlet.
It is rare that these come from a part of Italy so far south; but it
appeared in this instance, that Giuseppe's father being a carrier, had
taken him with him to Milan--had there met a friend, rich in an organ and
porcupine--and had entrusted the boy to his care, in order that he might
see the world, and make his fortune.
Giuseppe gave a narrative of some little events, that had occurred to him
during his wanderings, which greatly interested George; and he finally
concluded, by saying that his father had now retired to his native place
at Barberini, where many strangers came to see the "antichita." George,
on referring to the guide book, found that this was indeed the case; and
that Isola Barberini is marked as the site of ancient Veii, the rival of
"And when do you go there, youngster, and how far is it from this?"
"I am going now, Signore, to be in time for supper. It is only a
'piccolo giro' across the fields; and looks as well by moonlight as at
any other time."
"Ah!" replied George, "I would be glad to accompany you. Henry," said he,
as he entered the room of the inn, "I am away on a classic excursion to
Veii. The night is lovely--I have an excellent guide--and shall be back
before you have finished your punch making.
"_Do_ let me go!" and he lowered his voice, and the tears swam in his eyes,
"I cannot endure these rude sounds of merriment, and a moonlight walk will
at least afford nothing that can _thus_ pain me."
Sir Henry looked out. The night was perfectly fine. The young peasant,
all willingness, had already shouldered his bundle, and was preparing to
"You must not be late, George," said his brother, assenting to his
proposal. "Do not stay too long about the ruins. Remember that you are
still delicate, and that I shall wait supper for you."
As the boy led on, George followed him in a foot path, which led through
fields of meadow land, corn, and rye.
The fire-flies--mimic meteors--were giddily winging their way from bush to
bush,--illuming the atmosphere, and imparting to the scene a glittering
beauty, which a summer night in a northern clime cannot boast.
As they approached somewhat nearer to the hamlet, their course was over
ground more rugged; and the disjointed fragments of rocks strewed, and at
intervals obstructed, the path.
The cottages were soon reached.
The villagers were all in front of their dwellings, taking their last meal
for the day, in the open air.
The young guide stopped in front of a cottage, a little apart from the
rest. The family party were seated round a rude table, on which were
plates and napkins.
Before the master of the house--a wrinkled old man, with long grey
hair--was a smoking tureen of bread soup, over which he was in the act of
sprinkling some grated Parmesan cheese.
A plate of green figs, and a large water melon--the cocomero--made up
"Giuseppe! you are late for supper," said the old patriarch, as the boy
approached to whisper his introduction of the stranger.
The old man waved his hand courteously--made a short apology for the
humble viands--and pointed to a vacant seat.
"Many thanks," said George, "but my supper already awaits me. I will not,
however, interfere with my young guide. Show me the ruins, Giuseppe, and I
will trouble you no further."
The boy moved on towards what were indeed ruins, or rather the
vestige of such.
Here a misshapen stone--there a shattered column--decaying walls,
overgrown with nettles--arches and caves, choked up with rank
vegetation--bespoke remains unheeded, and but rarely visited.
George threw the boy a piece of silver--heard his repeated cautions as
to his way to Storta--and wished him good night, as he hurried back to
George Delme sat on the shaft of a broken pillar, his face almost buried
in his hands, as he looked around him on a scene once so famous.
But with him classic feelings were not upper-most. The widowed
heart mourned its loneliness; and in that calm hour found the full
relief of tears.
The mourner rose, and turned his face homeward, slowly--sadly--but
The heavens had become more overcast--and clouds occasionally were
hiding the moon.
It was with some difficulty that George avoided the pieces of rock which
obstructed the path.
The road seemed longer, and wilder, than he had previously thought it.
Suddenly the loud bay of dogs was borne to his ear; and almost, before he
had time to turn from the path, two large hounds brushed past him,
followed by a rider--his gun slung before his saddle--and his horse
fearlessly clattering over the loose stones.
The horseman seemed a young Roman farmer. He did not salute, and probably
did not observe our traveller. As the sound from the horse receded, and
the clamour of the dogs died away, a feeling almost akin to alarm crossed
George was one, however, who rarely gave way to vague fears.
It so happened that he was armed.
Delancey had made him a present of a brace of pocket pistols, during the
days of their friendship; and, very much to Sir Henry's annoyance, George
had been in the habit, since leaving Malta, of constantly carrying these
He strode on without adventure, until entering the field of rye.
The pathway became very narrow--so that on either side him, he grazed
against the bearded ears.
Suddenly he heard a rustling sound. The moon at the moment broke from
a dark cloud, and he fancied he discerned a figure near him half hid
by the rye.
Again the moon was shrouded.
A rustling again ensued.
George felt a ponderous blow, which, aimed at the left shoulder, struck
his left arm.
The collar of his coat was instantaneously grasped.
For a moment, George Delme felt irresolute--then drew a pistol from his
pocket and fired.
The hold was loosened--a man fell at his feet.
The pistol's flash revealed another figure, which diving into the
Let us turn to Sir Henry Delme and to Thompson.
For some time after George's departure, they were busily engaged in
While they were thus occupied, they noticed that the Papal soldiers
whispered much together--but this gave rise to no suspicion on
One by one the soldiers strolled out, and the landlord betook himself to
The punch was duly made, and Sir Henry, leaving the room, paced
thoughtfully in front of the inn.
At length it struck him, that it was almost time for his brother to
He was entering the inn, for the purpose of making some enquiries; when he
saw one of the soldiers cross the road hurriedly, and go into the
courtyard, where he was immediately joined by the vetturino.
Delme turned in to the house, and called for the landlord.
Before the latter could appear, George rushed into the room.
His hat was off--his eyes glared wildly--his long hair streamed back,
wet with the dews of night. He dragged with him the body of one of the
soldiers; and threw it with supernatural strength into the very centre
of the room.
"Supper!" said he, "ha, ha, ha! _I_ have brought you supper!"
The man was quite dead.
The bullet had pierced his neck and throat. The blood was yet flowing, and
had dabbled the white vest. His beard and hair were clotted with gore.
Shocked as Sir Henry was, the truth flashed on him. He lost not a moment
in beckoning to Thompson, and rushing towards the stable. The driver was
still there, conversing with the soldier.
As Sir Henry approached, they evinced involuntary confusion; and the
vetturino---at once unmanned--fell on his knees, and commenced a
They were dragged into the inn, and the officers of justice were sent for.
Sir Henry Delme's anxious regards were now directed to his brother.
George had taken a seat near the corpse; and was sternly regarding it with
fixed, steady, and unflinching gaze.
It is certainly very fearful to mark the dead--with pallid
complexion--glazed eye--limbs fast stiffening--and gouts of
blood--standing from out the face, like crimson excrescences on a
But it is far more fearful than even this, to look on one, who is bound
to us by the nearest and most cherished ties--with cheek yet
glowing--expression's flush mantling still--and yet to doubt whether the
intellect, which adorned that frame--the jewel in the casket--hath not for
ever left its earthly tenement.
"Far other scene is Thrasymene now."
* * * * *
"Fair Florence! at thy day's decline
When came the shade from Appennine,
And suddenly on blade and bower
The fire-flies shed the sparkling shower,
As if all heaven to earth had sent
Each star that gems the firmament;
'Twas sweet at that enchanting hour,
To bathe in fragrance of the Italian clime,
By Arno's stream."
The brothers were detained a few days at Storta; while the Roman police,
who, to do them justice, were active on the occasion, and showed every
anxiety to give the travellers as little trouble as possible--were
investigating the occurrences we have described. It appeared that some
suspicion had previously attached itself to Vittore Santado, and that the
eyes of the police had been on him for some time.
It now became evident, both from his own confession, and subsequent
discoveries, that this man had for years trafficked in the lives and
property of others;--and that the charge connected with George, was one of
the least grave, that would be brought against him.
It was shown that he was an active agent, in aiding the infamous designs
of that inn, on the Italian frontier, whose enormities have given rise to
more than one thrilling tale of fiction, far out-done by the
reality--that inn--where the traveller retired to rest--but rose not
refreshed to prosecute his journey:--where--if he slumbered but once,
that sleep was his last.
Until now, his career had been more than usually successful.
The crafty vetturino had had the art to glean a fair reputation even from
More than once, had he induced a solitary traveller to leave the high road
and his carriage, for the purpose of visiting some ruin, or viewing some
On such occasions, Vittore's accomplices were in waiting; and the
unsuspecting stranger--pillaged and alarmed, would return to the vettura
Vittore would be foremost in his commiseration; and with an air of blunt
sincerity, would proffer the use of his purse; such conduct ensuring the
gratitude, and the after recommendations of his dupe.
It is supposed that the vetturino had contemplated rifling the carriage in
the inn yard; but some suspicion as to the servant's not leaving the
luggage, and the sort of dog fidelity displayed by Thompson towards the
brothers; had induced him rather to sanction an attempt on George during
his imprudent excursion to Barberini.
Vittore Santado was executed near the Piazza del Popolo, and to this day,
over the chimney-piece of many a Roman peasant, may be seen the tale of
his crimes--his confessions--and his death; which perused by casual
neighbour guests--calls up many a sign of the cross--and devout look of
After the incident we have related in the last chapter, George Delme,
contrary to Sir Henry's previous misgivings, enjoyed a good night's rest,
and arose tolerably calm and refreshed.
The following night he was attacked with palpitation of the heart.
His brother and Thompson felt greatly alarmed; but after an hour's severe
suffering, the paroxysm left him.
Nothing further occurred at Storta, to induce them to attach very great
importance to the shock George's nerves had experienced; but in after
life, Sir Henry always thought, he could date many fatal symptoms from
that hour of intense excitement.
Delme was in Rome two days; during which period, his depositions, as
connected with Santado, were taken down; and he was informed that his
presence during the trial would not be insisted on.
Delme took that opportunity again to consult his medical friend; who
accompanied him to Storta, to visit George; and prescribed a regimen
calculated to invigorate the general system.
He directed Delme not to be alarmed, should the paroxysm return; and
recommended, that during the attack, George should lie down quietly--and
take twenty drops of Battley's solution of opium in a wine glass of water.
As his friend did not appear alarmed, Delme's mind was once more
assured; and he prepared to continue their journey to Florence, by the
way of Perugia.
Punctual to his time, the new vetturino--as to whose selection Sir Henry
had been very particular--arrived at Storta; and the whole party, with
great willingness left the wretched inn, and its suspicious inmates.
There certainly could not be a greater contrast, than between the two
Vittore Santado was a Roman; young--inclined to corpulency---oily
faced--plausible--and a most consummate rascal.
Pietro Molini was a Milanese;--elderly--with hardly an ounce of flesh on
his body--with face scored and furrowed like the surface of the hedge
pippin--rough in his manners--and the most honest of his tribe.
Poor Pietro Molini! never did driver give more cheering halloo to
four-footed beast! or with spirit more elate, deliver in the drawling
patois of his native paesi, some ditty commemorative of Northern liberty!
Honest Pietro! thy wishes were contained within a small compass! thy
little brown cur, snarling and bandy-legged--thy raw-boned steeds--these
were thy first care;--the safety of thy conveyance, and its various
inmates, the second.
To thee--the most delightful melody in this wide world, was the jingling
of thy horses' bells, as all cautiously and slowly they jogged on their
way:--the most discordant sound in nature, the short husky cough, emitted
from the carcase of one of these, as disease and continued fatigue made
their sure inroads.
Poor simple Pietro! his only pride was encased in his breeches pocket, and
it lay in a few scraps of paper--remembrances of his passengers.
One and all lavished praise on Pietro!
Yes! we have him again before us as we write--his ill-looking, but easy
carriage--his three steeds--the rude harness, eked out with clustering
knots of rope--and the happy driver, seated on a narrow bench, jutting
over the backs of his wheelers, as he contentedly whiffs from his small
red clay pipe--at intervals dropping off in a dose, with his cur on his
lap. At such a time, with what perfect nonchalance would he open his large
grey eyes, when recalled to the sense of his duties, by the volubly
breathed execration of some rival whip--and with what a silent look of
ineffable contempt, would he direct his horses to the side of the road,
and again steep his senses in quiescent repose.
At night, Pietro's importance would sensibly increase, as after rubbing
down the hides of his favourites, and dropping into the capacious manger
the variegated oats; he would wait on his passengers to arrange the hour
of departure--would accept the proffered glass of wine, and give utterance
to his ready joke.
A King might have envied Pietro Molini, as---the straw rustling beneath
him--he laid down in his hairy capote, almost between the legs of his
To do so will be to anticipate some years!
Yet we would fain relate the end of the Vetturino.
Crossing from Basle to Strasbourg, in the depth of winter, and descending
an undulated valley, Pietro slept as usual.
Implicitly relying on the sure footedness of his horses, a fond dream of
German beer, German tobacco, and German sauerkraut, soothed his slumbers.
A fragment of rock had been loosened from its ancient bed, and lay
across the road.
Against this the leader tripped and fell.
The shock threw Pietro and his dog from their exalted station.
The pipe, which--whether he were sleeping or waking--had long decked the
cheek of the honest driver, now fell from it, and was dashed into a
It was an evil omen.
When the carriage was stopped, Pietro Molini was found quite lifeless. He
had received a kick from the ungrateful heel of his friend Bruno, and the
wheel of the carriage, it had been his delight to clean, had passed over
the body of the hapless vetturino.
Ah! as that news spread! many an ostler of many a nation, shook his head
mournfully, and with saddened voice, wondered that the same thing had not
occurred years before.
At the time, however, to which we allude--viz., the commencement of the
acquaintance between our English travellers, and Pietro; the latter
thought of anything rather than of leaving a world for which he had an
He and Thompson soon became staunch allies; and the want of a common
language seemed only to cement their union.
Not Noblet, in her inimitable performance of the Muette, threw more
expression into her sweet face--than did Pietro, into the furrowed lines
of his bronzed visage, as he endeavoured to explain to his friend some
Italian custom, or the reason why he had selected another dish, or
other wine; rather than that, to which they had done such justice the
Thompson's gestures and countenance in reply, partook of a more stoical
character; but he was never found wanting, when a companion was needed for
a bottle or a pipe.
Their friendship was not an uninstructive one.
It would have edified him, who prides himself on his deep knowledge of
human nature, or who seizes with avidity on the minuter traits of a
nation, to note with what attention the English valet, would listen to a
Milanese arietta; whose love notes, delivered by the unmusical Pietro,
were about as effectively pathetic as the croak of the bull frog in a
marsh, or screech of owl sentimentalising in ivied ruin; and to mark
with what gravity, the Italian driver would beat his hand against the
table; in tune to "Ben Baxter," or "The British Grenadiers," roared out
There are two grand routes from Home to Florence:--the one is by Perugia,
the other passes through Sienna. The former, which is the one Sir Henry
selected, is the most attractive to the ordinary traveller; who is enabled
to visit the fall of Terni, Thrasymene, and the temple of Clitumnuss The
first, despite its being artificial, is equal in our opinion, to the
vaunted Schaffhausen;--the second is hallowed in story;--and the third has
been illustrated by Byron.
"Pass not unblest the genius of the place!
If through the air a zephyr more serene
Win to the brow, 'tis his; and if ye trace
Along the margin a more eloquent green,
If on the heart, the freshness of the scene
Sprinkle its coolness, and from the dry dust
Of weary life a moment lave it clean
With nature's baptism,--'tis to him ye must
Pay orisons for this suspension of disgust."
Poor George Delme showed little interest in anything connected with
this journey. Sir Henry embarked on the lake above, in order to see the
cascade of Terni in every point of view; and afterwards took his
station with George, on various ledges of rock below the fall--whence
the eye looks upward, on that mystic scene of havoc, turbulence, and
mighty rush of water.
But the cataract fell in snowy sheet--the waves hissed round the sable
rocks--and the rainbow played on the torrent's foam;--but these
possessed not a charm, to rouse to a sense of their beauty, the sad
heart of the invalid.
Near the lake of Thrasymene, they passed some hours; allowing Pietro to
put up his horses at Casa di Piano. Sir Henry, with a Livy in his hand,
first proceeded to the small eminence, looking down on the round tower of
Borghetto; and on that insidious pass, which his fancy peopled once more,
with the advancing troops of the Consul.
The soldier felt much interested, and attempted to impart that interest to
George; but the widowed husband shook his head mournfully; and it was
evident, that his thoughts were not with Flaminius and his entrapped
soldiers, but with the gentle Acme, mouldering in her lonely grave.
From Borghetto, they proceeded to the village of Torre, where Delme was
glad to accept the hospitable offer of its Priest, and procure seats for
himself and George, in the balcony of his little cottage. From this
point, they looked down on the arena of war.
There it lay, serene and basking in the rays of the meridian sun.
On either side, were the purple summits of the Gualandra hills.
Beneath flowed the little rivulet, once choked by the bodies of the
combatants; but which now sparkled gaily through the valley, although at
intervals, almost dried up by the fierce heat of summer.
The lake was tranquil and unruffled--all on its margin, hushed and
moveless. What a contrast to that exciting hour, which Sir Henry was
conjuring up again; when the clang of arms, and crash of squadrons,
commingled with the exulting shout, that bespoke the confident hope of the
wily Carthaginian; and with that sterner response, which hurled back the
indomitable spirit of the unyielding, but despairing Roman!
Our travellers quitted the Papal territories; and entering Tuscany, passed
through Arezzo, the birth-place of Petrarch; arriving at Florence just
previous to sunset.
As they reached the Lung' Arno, Pietro put his horses to a fast trot, and
rattling over the flagged road, drew up in front of Schneidorff's with an
air of greater importance, than his sorry vehicle seemed to warrant.
The following morning, George Delme was taken by his brother, to visit
the English physician resident at Florence; and again was Delme informed,
that change of scene, quiet, and peace of mind, were what his brother
George was thinner perhaps, than when at Rome, and his lip had lost its
lustrous red; but he concealed his physical sufferings, and always met
Henry with the same soft undeviating smile.
On their first visit to the Tribune, George was struck with the Samian
Sibyl of Guercino.
In the glowing lip--the silken cheek--the ivory temple--the eye of
inspiration--the bereaved mourner thought he could trace, some faint
resemblance to the lost Acme. Henceforward, it was his greatest pleasure,
to remain with eyes fixed on that masterpiece of art.
Sir Henry Delme, accompanied by the custode, would make himself
acquainted with the wonders of the Florentine gallery; and every now and
then, return to whisper some sentence, in the soothing tones of brotherly
kindness. At night, their usual haunt was the public square--where the
loggio of Andrea Orcagna presents so much, that may claim attention.
There stands the David! in the freshness of his youth! proudly regarding
his adversary--ere he overthrow, with the weapon of the herdsman, the
The inimitable Perseus, too! the idol of that versatile genius, Benvenuto
Cellini:--an author! a goldsmith! a cunning artificer in jewels! a founder
in bronze! a sculptor in marble! the prince of good fellows! the favored
of princes! the warm friend and daring lover! as we gaze on his glorious
performance, and see beside it the Hercules, and Cacus of his rival Baccio
Bandanelli,--we seem to live again in those days, with which Cellini has
made us so familiar:--and almost naturally regard the back of the bending
figure, to note if its muscles warrant the stinging sarcasm of Cellini,
which we are told at once dispelled the pride of the aspiring
artist--"that they resembled cucumbers!"
The rape of the Sabines, too! the white marble glistening in the
obscurity, until the rounded shape of the maiden seems to elude the strong
grasp of the Roman!
Will she ever fly from him thus? will the home of her childhood be ever as
dear? No! the husband's love shall replace the father's blessing; and the
affections of the daughter, shall yield to the tender yearnings of the
We marvel not that George's footsteps lingered there!
How often have _we_--martyrs to a hopeless nympholepsy--strayed through
that piazza, at the self same hour--there deemed that the heart would
break--but never thought that it might slowly wither.
How often have _we_ gleaned from those beauteous objects around, but
aliment to our morbid griefs;--and turning towards the gurgling fountain
of Ammonati, and gazing on its trickling waters, have vainly tried to
arrest our trickling tears!
"There is a tomb in Arqua: rear'd in air,
Pillar'd in their sarcophagus, repose
The bones of Laura's lover."
* * * * *
"I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs."
How glorious is the thrill, which shoots through our frame, as we first
wake to the consciousness of our intellectual power; as we feel the
spirit--the undying spirit--ready to burst the gross bonds of flesh, and
soar triumphant, over the sneers of others, and our own mistrust.
How does each thought seem to swell in our bosom, as if impatient of the
confined tenement--how do the floating ideas congregate--how does each
impassioned feeling subdue us in turn, and long for a worthy utterance!
This is a very bright moment in the history of our lives. It is one in
which we feel--indubitably feel--that we are of the fashioning of
God;--that the light which intellect darts around us, is not the result of
education--of maxims inculcated--or of principles instilled;--but that it
is a ray caught from the brightness of eternity--that when our wavering
pulse has ceased to beat, and the etherialised elements have left the
baser and the useless dust--that ray shall not be quenched; but shall
again be absorbed in the full effulgence from which it emanated.
Surely then, if such a glorious moment as this, be accorded to even the
inferior votaries of knowledge--to the meaner pilgrims, struggling on
towards the resplendent shrines of science:--how must _he_--the divine
Petrarch, who could so exquisitely delineate love's hopes and story, as to
clothe an earthly passion, with half the attributes of an immortal
affection:--how must _he_ have revelled in the proud sensations called
forth at such a moment!
It is the curse of the poet, that he must perforce leave the golden
atmosphere of loftiest aspirations--step from the magic circle, where all
is pure and etherial--and find himself the impotent denizen, of a sombre
and an earthly world,
It was in the early part of September, that the brothers turned their
backs on the Etrurian Athens. Their destination was Venice, and their
route lay through Bologna and Arqua.
They had been so satisfied, under the guidance of their old vetturino,
that Sir Henry made an arrangement, which induced him to be at Florence,
at the time of their departure;--and Pietro and Thompson were once more
seated beside each other.
Before commencing the ascent of the Appennines, our travellers visited the
country seat of the Archduke; saw the gigantic statue executed by John of
Bologna, which frowns over the lake; and at Fonte-buona, cast a farewell
glance on Florence, and the ancient Fiesole.
As they advanced towards Caravigliojo, the mountains began to be more
formidable, and the scenery to lose its smiling character.
Each step seemed to add to the barrenness of the landscape.
The wind came howling down from the black volcanic looking ridges--then
swept tempestuously through some deep ravine.
On either side the road, tall red poles presented themselves, a guide to
the traveller during winter's snows; while, in one exposed gully, were
built large stone embankments for his protection--as a Latin inscription
intimated--from the violence of the gales.
Few signs of life appeared.
Here and there, her white kerchief shading a sun-burnt face, a young
Bolognese shepherd girl might be seen on some grassy ledge, waving her
hand coquettishly; while her neglected flock, with tinkling bell, browsed
on the edge of the precipice. As they neared Bologna, however, the
Festoons of grapes, trained to leafy elms, began to appear--white villas
chequered the suburbs--and it was with a pleasurable feeling, that they
neared the peculiar looking city, with its leaning towers, and old
facades. It is the only one, where the Englishman recals Mrs, Ratcliffe's
harrowing tales; and half expects to see a Schedoni, advancing from some
The next day found them in the Bolognese gallery, which is the first which
duly impresses the traveller, coming from the north, with the full powers
of the art.
The soul of music seems to dwell in the face of the St. Cecilia; and the
cup of maternal anguish to be filled to the brim, as in Guide's Murder of
the Innocents, the mother clasps to her arms the terrified babe, and
strives to flee from the ruthless destroyer.
It was on the fourth morning from their arrival in Bologna, that they
approached the poet's "mansion and his sepulchre."
As they threaded the green windings of vine covered hills, these gradually
assumed a bolder outline, and, rising in separate cones, formed a sylvan
amphitheatre round the lovely village of Arqua.
The road made an abrupt ascent to the Fontana Petrarca. A large ruined
arch spanned a fine spring, that rushes down the green slope.
In the church-yard, on the right, is the tomb of Petrarch.
Its peculiarly bold elevation--the numberless thrilling associations
connected with the poet--gave a tone and character to the whole scene. The
chiaro-scuro of the landscape, was from the light of his genius--the shade
of his tomb.
The day was lovely--warm, but not oppressive. The soft green of the hills
and foliage, checked the glare of the flaunting sunbeams.
The brothers left the carriage to gaze on the sarcophagus of red marble,
raised on pilasters; and could not help deeming even the indifferent
bronze bust of Petrarch, which surmounts this, to be a superfluous
ornament in such a scene.
The surrounding landscape--the dwelling place of the poet--his tomb facing
the heavens, and disdaining even the shadow of trees--the half-effaced
inscription of that hallowed shrine--all these seemed appropriate, and
melted the gazer's heart.
How useless! how intrusive! are the superfluous decorations of art, amid
the simpler scenes of nature.
Ornament is here misplaced. The feeling heart regrets its presence at the
time, and attempts, albeit in vain, to banish it from after recollections.
George could not restrain his tears, for he thought of the dead; and they
silently followed their guide to Petrarch's house, now partly used as a
granary. Passing through two or three unfinished rooms, whose walls were
adorned with rude frescoes of the lover and his mistress, they were shown
into Petrarch's chamber, damp and untenanted.
In the closet adjoining, were the chair and table consecrated by the poet.
There did he sit--and write--and muse--and die!
George turned to a tall narrow window, and looked out on a scene, fair and
luxuriant as the garden of Eden.
The rich fig trees, with their peculiar small, high scented fruit, mixed
with the vines that clustered round the lattice.
The round heads of the full bearing peach trees, dipped down in a leafy
slope beneath a grassy walk;--and this thicket of fruit was charmingly
enlivened, by bunches of the scarlet pomegranate, now in the pride of
The poet's garden alone was neglected--rank herbage choking up its
A thousand thoughts filled the mind of George Delme.
He thought of Laura! of his own Acme!
With swimming glance, he looked round the chamber.
It was almost without furniture, and without ornament. In a niche, and
within a glass case, was placed the skeleton of a dumb favourite of
Suddenly George Delme felt a faintness stealing over him:--and he
turned to bare his forehead, to catch the slight breeze from below
redolent of sweets.
This did not relieve him.
A sharp pain across the chest, and a fluttering at the heart, as of a bird
struggling to be free, succeeded this faintness.
Another rush of blood to the head:--and a snap, as of some tendon, was
distinctly felt by the sufferer.
His mouth filled with blood.
A small blood-vessel had burst, and temporary insensibility ensued.
Sir Henry was wholly unprepared for this scene.
Assisted by Thompson, he bore him to the carriage--sprinkled his face with
water--and administered cordials.
George's recovery was speedy; and it almost seemed, as if the rupture of
the vessel had been caused by the irregular circulation, for no further
bad effects were felt at the time.
The loss of blood, however, evidently weakened him; and his spasms
henceforward were more frequent.
He became less able to undergo fatigue; and his mind, probably in
connection with the nervous system, became more than ordinarily excited.
There was no longer wildness in his actions; but in his thoughts and
language, was developed a poetical eccentricity--a morbid sympathy with
surrounding scenes and impressions, which kept Sir Henry Delme in a
constant state of alarm,--and which was very remarkable.
* * * * *
"What! at Mestre already, Pietro?" said Sir Henry.
"Even so, Signore! and here is the gondola to take you on to Venice."
"Well, Pietro! you must not fail to come and see us at the inn."
The vetturino touched his hat, with the air of a man who would be very
sorry _not_ to see them.
It was not long ere the glittering prow of the gondola pointed to Venice.
Before the travellers, rose ocean's Cybele; springing from the waters,
like some fairy city, described to youthful ear by aged lip.
The fantastic dome of St. Mark--the Palladian churches--the columned
palaces--the sable gondolas shooting through the canals--made its aspect,
as is its reality, unique in the world.
"Beautiful, beautiful city!" said George, his eye lighting up as he spoke,
"thou dost indeed look a city of the heart--a resting place for a wearied
spirit. And our gondola, Henry, should be of burnished silver; and those
afar--so noiselessly cutting their way through the glassy surface--those
should be angels with golden wings; and, instead of an oar flashing
freely, a snowy wand of mercy should beat back the kissing billows.
"And Acme, with her George, should sit on the crystal cushion of glory--and
we would wait expectant for you a long long time--and then you should join
us, Henry, with dear Emily.
"And Thompson should be with us, too, and recline on the steps of our bark
as he does now.
"And together we would sail loving and happy through an amethystine sea."
During their stay in Venice, George, in spite of his increasing languor,
continued to accompany his brother, in his visits to the various objects
of interest which the city can boast.
The motion of the gondola appeared to have a soothing influence on the
mind of the invalid.
He would recline on the cushions, and the fast flowing tears would course
down his wan cheeks.
These, however, were far from being a proof of suffering;--they were
evidently a relief to the surcharged spirit.
One evening, a little before sunset, they found themselves in the crowded
piazza of Saint Mark. The cafes were thronged with noble Venetians, come
to witness the evening parade of an Austrian regiment. The sounds of
martial music, swelled above the hum of the multitude; and few could
listen to those strains, without participating in some degree, in the
military enthusiasm of the hour.
But the brothers turned from the pageantry of war, as their eyes fell on
the emblems of Venice free--the minarets of St. Mark, with the horses of
Lysippus, a spoil from Byzantium--the flagless poles that once bore the
banners of three tributary states--the highly adorned azure clock--the
palaces of the proud Doges--where Faliero reigned--where Faliero
suffered:--these were before them.
Their steps mechanically turned to the beautiful Campanile.
George, leaning heavily on Sir Henry's arm, succeeded in gaining the
summit: and they looked down from thence, on that wonderful city.
They saw the parade dismissed--they heard the bugle's fitful blast
proclaim the hour of sunset. The richest hues of crimson and of gold,
tinted the opposite heavens; while on those waters, over which the
gondolas were swiftly gliding, quivered another city, the magic reflection
of the one beneath them.
They gazed on the scene in silence, till the grey twilight came on.
"Now, George! it is getting late," said Sir Henry. "I wonder whether we
could find some old mariner, who could give us a chaunt from Tasso?"
Descending from the Campanile, Sir Henry made enquiries on the quay, and
with some difficulty found gondoliers, who could still recite from their
Engaging a couple of boats, and placing a singer in each, the brothers
were rowed down the Canale Giudecca--skirted many of the small islands,
studding the lagoons; and proceeded towards the Adriatic.
Gradually the boats parted company, and just as Sir Henry was about to
speak, thinking there might be a mistake as to the directions; the
gondolier in the other boat commenced his song,--its deep bass mellowed by
distance, and the intervening waves. The sound was electric.
It was so exquisitely appropriate to the scene, and harmonised so
admirably, with the associations which Venice is apt to awaken, that one
longed to be able to embody that fleeting sound--to renew its magic
influence in after years. The pen may depict man's stormy feelings: the
sensitive caprice of woman:--the most vivid tints may be imitated on the
glowing canvas:--the inspired marble may realise our every idea of the
beauty of form:--a scroll may give us at will, the divine inspiration, of
Handel:--but there are sounds, as there are subtle thoughts, which, away
from the scenes, where they have charmed us, can never delight us more.
It was not until the second boatman answered the song, that the brothers
felt how little the charm lay, in the voice of the gondolier, and that,
heard nearer, the sounds were harsh and inharmonious.
They recited the death of Clorinda; the one renewing the stanza, whenever
there was a momentary forgetfulness on the part of the other.
The clock of St. Mark had struck twelve, before the travellers had reached
the hotel. George had not complained of fatigue, during a day which even
Sir Henry thought a trying one; and the latter was willing to hope that
his strength was now increasing.
Their first design had been to proceed though Switzerland, resting for
some time at Geneva. Their plans were now changed, and Sir Henry Belme
determined, that their homeward route should be through the Tyrol and
Bavaria, and eventually down the Rhine.
He considered that the water carriage, and the very scenes themselves,
might prove beneficial to the invalid.
Thompson was sent over to Mestre, to inform Pietro; and they prepared to
take their departure.
"You have been better in Venice," said Sir Henry, as they entered the
gondola, that was to bear them from the city. "God grant that you may long
George shook his head doubtingly.
"My illness, Henry, is not of the frame alone, although that is fragile
"The body lingers on without suffering; but the mind--a very bright sword
in a worthless sheath--is forcing its way through. Some feelings must
remain to the last--gratitude to you--love to dear Emily! Acme, wife of my
bosom! when may I join you?"
"Oh there is sweetness in the mountain air,
And life, that bloated ease can never hope to share."
Inspruck! a thousand recollections flash across us, as we pronounce the
We were there at a memorable period; when the body of the hero of the
Tyrol--the brave, the simple-minded Anderl Hofer--was removed from Mantua,
where he so nobly met a patriot's death, to the capital of the country,
which he had so gallantly defended.
The event was one, that could not fail to be impressive; and to us it was
doubly so, for that very period formed an epoch in our lives.
We had lost! we had suffered! we had mourned! Our mind's strength was
shook. Ordinary remedies were worse than futile.
We threw ourselves into the heart of the Tyrol, and became resigned if
Romantic country! did not duty whisper otherwise, how would we fly to thy
rugged mountains, and find in the kindly virtues of thine inhabitants,
wherewithal to banish misanthropy, and it may be purchase oblivion.
Noble land! where the chief in his hall--the peasant in his hut--alike
open their arms with sheltering hospitality, to welcome the
stranger--where kindness springs from the heart, and dreams not of sordid
gain--where courtesy attends superior rank, without question, but without
debasement--where the men are valiant, the women virtuous--where it needed
but a few home-spun heroes--an innkeeper and a friar--to rouse up to arms
an entire population, and in a brief space to drive back the Gallic
foeman! Oh! how do we revert with choking sense of gratitude, to the years
we have spent in thy bosom!
Oh! would that we were again treading the mountain's summit--the rifle
our comrade--and a rude countryman, our guide and our companion.
In vain! in vain! the net of circumstance is over us!
We may struggle! but cannot escape from its close meshes.
We have said that we were at Inspruck at this period.
It was our purpose, on the following morning, to take our departure.
With renewed health, and nerves rebraced, we hoped to combat successfully,
a world that had already stung us.
There was a group near the golden-roofed palace, that attracted our
attention. It consisted of a father and his five sons.
They were dressed in the costume of the country; wearing a tapering
hat, with black ribbons and feather--a short green jerkin--a red vest
surmounted by broad green braces--and short boots tightly laced to
They formed a picture of free mountaineers.
We left our lodging, and passed them irresolutely twice or thrice.
The old man took off his hat to the stranger.
"Sir! I am of Sand, in Passeyer.
"Anderl Hofer was my schoolfellow; and these are my boys, whom I have
brought to see all that remains of him. Oh! Sir! they did not conquer him,
although the murderers shot him on the bastion; but, as he wrote to
Pulher--_his_ friend and mine--it was indeed 'in the name, and by the help
of the Lord, that he undertook the voyage,'"
We paced through the city sorrowfully. It was night, as we passed by the
church of the Holy Cross.
Solemn music there arrested our footsteps; and we remembered, that high
mass would that night be performed, for the soul of the deceased patriot.
We entered, and drew near the mausoleum of Maximilian the First:--leaning
against a colossal statue in bronze, and fixing our eyes on a bas relief
on the tomb: one of twenty-four tablets, wrought from Carrara's whitest
marble, by the unrivalled hand of Colin of Malines!
One blaze of glory enveloped the grand altar:--vapours of incense floated
above:--and the music! oh it went to the soul!
Down! down knelt the assembled throng!
Our mind had been previously attuned to melancholy; it now reeled under
We looked around with tearful eye. Old Theodoric of the Goths seemed to
frown from his pedestal.
We turned to the statue against which we had leant.
It was that of a youthful and sinewy warrior.
We read its inscription.
Artur, Konig Von England
"Ah! hast _thou_ too thy representative, my country?"
We looked around once more.
The congregation were prostrate before the mysterious Host; and we alone
stood up, gazing with profound awe and reverence on the mystic rite.
The rough caps of the women almost hid their fair brows. In the upturned
features of the men, what a manly, yet what a devout expression reigned!
Melodiously did the strains proceed from the brazen-balustraded
orchestra; while sweet young girls smiled in the chapel of silver, as
they turned to Heaven their deeply-fringed eyes, and invoked pardon for
Alas! alas! that such as these _should_ err, even in thought! that our
feelings should so often mislead us,--that our very refinement, should
bring temptation in its train,--and our fervent enthusiasm, but too
frequently terminate in vice and crime!
Our whole soul was unmanned! and well do we remember the morbid prayer,
that we that night offered to the throne of mercy.
"Pity us! pity us! Creator of all!
"With thousands around, who love--who reverence--whose hearts, in unison
with ours, tremble at death, yet sigh for eternity;--who gaze with eye
aspiring, although dazzled--as, the curtain of futurity uplifted, fancy
revels in the glorious visions of beatitude:--even here, oh God! hear our
prayer and pity us!
"We are moulded, though faintly, in an angel's form. Endow us with an
angel's principles. For ever hush the impure swellings of passion! lull
the stormy tide of contending emotions! let not circumstances overwhelm!
"Receive our past griefs: the griefs of manhood, engrafted on youth; accept
these tears, falling fast and bitterly! take them as past atonement,--as
mute witnesses that we feel:--that reason slumbers not, although passion
may mislead:--that gilded temptation may overcome, and gorgeous pleasure
intoxicate:--but that sincere repentance, and bitter remorse, are
"Oh guide and pity us!"
A cheerless dawn was breaking, and a thick damp mist was lazily hanging on
the water's surface, as our travellers waved the hand to Venice.
"Fare thee well!" said George, as he rose in the gondola to catch a last
glimpse of the Piazzetta, "sea girt city! decayed memorial of patrician
splendour, and plebeian debasement! of national glory, blended with
individual degradation!--fallen art thou, but fair! It was not with
freshness of heart, I reached thee:--I dwelt not in thee, with that
jocund spirit, whose every working or gives the lip a smile, or moistens
the eye of feeling with a tear.
"Sad were my emotions! but sadder still, as I recede from thy shores, bound
on a distant pilgrimage. Acme! dear Acme! would I were with thee!"
Passing through Treviso, they stopped at Castel Franco, which presents one
of the best specimens of an Italian town, and Italian peasantry, that a
stranger can meet with.
At Bassano, they failed not to visit the Municipal Hall, where are the
principal pictures of Giacomo da Ponte, called after his native town.
His style is peculiar.
His pictures are dark to an excess, with here and there a vivid light,
introduced with wonderful effect.
From this town, the ascent of the mountains towards Ospedale is commenced;
and the route is one full of interest.
On the right, lay a low range of country, adorned with vineyards; beyond
which, the mountains rose in a precipitous ridge, and closed the scene
The Brenta was then reached, and continued to flow parallel with the road,
as far as eye could extend.
Farther advanced, the mountains presented a landscape more varied:--_here_
chequered with hamlets, whose church hells re-echoed in mellow harmony:
there--the only break to their majesty, being the rush of the river, as it
formed rolling cascades in its rapid route; or beat in sparkling foam,
against the large jagged rocks, which opposed its progress.
At one while, came shooting down the stream, some large raft of timber,
manned by adventurous navigators, who, with graceful dexterity, guided
their rough bark, clear of the steep banks, and frequent fragments of
rock;--at another--as if to mark a road little frequented, a sharp turn
would bring them on some sandalled damsel, sitting by the road side,
adjusting her ringlets. Detected in her toilet, there was a mixture of
frankness and modesty, in the way in which she would turn away a blushing
face, yet neglect not, with native courtesy, to incline the head, and
wave the sun-burnt hand.
From Ospedale, nearing the bold castle of Pergini, which effectually
commands the pass; the travellers descended through regions of beauty, to
the ancient Tridentum of Council celebrity.
The metal roof of its Duomo was glittering in the sunshine; and the Adige
was swiftly sweeping by its fortified walls.
Leaving Trent, they reached San Michele, nominally the last Italian town
on the frontier; but the German language had already prepared them for a
change of country.
The road continued to wind by the Adige, and passing through Lavis, and
Bronzoli, the brothers halted for the night at Botzen, a clean German
town, watered by the Eisach.
The following day's journey, was one that few can take, and deem their
Mossy cliffs--flowing cascades--"chiefless castles breaking stern
farewells"--all these were met, and met again, as through Brixen, they
reached the village of Muelks.
They had intended to have continued their route; but on drawing up at the
post-house, were so struck with the gaiety of the scene, that they
determined to remain for the night.
Immediately in rear of the small garden of the inn, and with a gentle
slope upwards, a wide piece of meadow land extended. On its brow, was
pitched a tent, or rather, a many-coloured awning; and, beside it, a pole
adorned with flags. This was the station for expert riflemen, who aimed in
succession at a fluttering bird, held by a silken cord.
The sloping bank of the hill was covered with spectators.
Age looked on with sadness, and mourned for departed manhood--youth with
envy, and sighed for its arrival.
After seeing their bedrooms, George leant on Henry's arm, and, crossing
the garden, they took a by-path, which led towards the tent.
The strangers were received with respect and cordiality.
Seats were brought, and placed near the scene of contest.
The trial of skill over, the victor took advantage, of his right, and
selected his partner from the fairest of the peasant girls.
Shrill pipes struck up a waltz--a little blind boy accompanied these on a
mandolin--and in a brief space, the hill's flat summit was swarming with
Nor was youth alone enlisted in Terpsichore's service.
The mother joined in the same dance with the daughter; and not
unfrequently tripped with foot as light.
Twilight came on, and the patriarchs of the village, and with them our
travellers, adjourned to the inn.
The matrons led away their reluctant charges, and the youth of the village
alone protracted the revels.
The brothers seated themselves at a separate table, and watched the
village supper party, with some interest.
Bowls of thick soup, with fish swimming in butter, and fruit floating in
cream, were successively placed in the middle of the table.
Each old man produced his family spoon, and helped himself with primitive
simplicity:--then lighted his pipe, and told his long tale, till he had
exhausted himself and his hearers.
Nor must we forget the comely waiter.
A bunch of keys hanging on one side,--a large leathern purse on the
other--with a long boddice, and something like a hoop--she really
resembled, save that her costume was more homely, one of the portraits
The brothers left Muelks by sunrise, and were not long, ere they reached
the summit of the Brenner, the loftiest point of the Tyrol.
From the beautiful town of Gries, embosomed in the deep valley, until they
trod the steep Steinach, the mountain scenery at each step become more
interesting. The road was cut on the face of a mountain. On one side,
frowned the mountain's dark slope; on the other, lay a deep precipice,
down which the eye fearfully gazed, and saw naught but the dark fir trees
far far beneath. Dividing that dense wood, a small stream, entangled in
the dark ravine, glided on in graceful windings, and looked more silvery
from its contrast with the sombre forest.
At the Steinach Pietro pulled up, to show the travellers the capital
of the Tyrol, and to point in the distance to Hall, famous for its
Casting a hasty glance, on the romantic vale beneath them:--the fairest
and most extensive in the northern recesses of the Alps, Sir Henry desired
his driver to continue his journey.
They rapidly descended, and passing by the column, commemorative of the
repulse of the French and Bavarian armies, soon found themselves the
inmates of an hotel in Inspruck.
The Students' Stories.
"The lilacs, where the robins built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birth-day--
_The tree_ is living yet."
At Inspruck, Delme had the advantage of a zealous, if not an appropriate
guide, in the red-faced landlord of the hotel, whose youth had been passed
in stirring times, which had more than once, required the aid of his arm,
and which promised to tax his tongue, to the last day of his life.
He knew all the heroes of the Tyrolese revolution--if revolution it can be
called--and had his tale to tell of each.
He had got drunk with Hofer,--had visited Joseph Speckbacker, when hid in
his own stable,--and had confessed more than once to Haspinger, the
His stories were very characteristic; and, if they did not breathe all the
poetry of patriotism, were at least honest versions, of exploits performed
in as pure and disinterested a spirit, as any that have ever graced the
sacred name of Liberty.
After seeing all its sights, and making an excursion to some glaciers in
its neighbourhood, Delme and George left the capital of the Tyrol, to
proceed by easy stages to Munich.
In the first day's route, they made the passage of the Zirl, which has
justly been lauded; and Pietro failed not to point to a crucifix, placed
on a jutting rock, which serves to mark the site of Maximilian's cave.
The travellers took a somewhat late breakfast, at the guitar-making
Mittelwald, where chance detained them later than usual. They were still
at some distance from their sleeping place, the hamlet of Wallensee, when
the rich hues of sunset warned Pietro, that if he would not be benighted,
he must urge on his jaded horses.
The sun's decline was glorious. For a time, vivid streaks of crimson and
of gold, crowned the summits of the heaving purple mountains. Gradually,
these streaks became fainter, and died away, and rolling, slate-coloured
clouds, hung heavily in the west.
The scene and the air seemed to turn on a sudden, both cold and grey; and,
as the road wound through umbrageous forests of pine, night came abruptly
upon them; and it was a relief to the eye, to note the many bright stars,
as they shone above the tops of the lofty trees.
A boding stillness reigned, on which the sound of their carriage wheels
ungratefully broke. The rustling of each individual bough had an
intonation of its own; and the deep notes of the woodman, endeavouring to
forget the thrilling legends of his land, mingled fitfully with the hollow
gusts, which came moaning through the leafless branches below.
Hist! can it be the boisterous revel of the _forst geister_, that meets
his ear? or is it but the chirp of insects, replying from brake to
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