The Project Gutenberg eBook, From the Thames to the Tiber, by J. Wardle This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: From the Thames to the Tiber or, My visit to Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Switzerland, etc. Author: J. Wardle Release Date: December 1, 2011 [eBook #38183] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII) ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK FROM THE THAMES TO THE TIBER***
This ebook was transcribed by Les Bowler.
My Visit to Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice,
Milan, Switzerland, etc.,
“General Gordon, Saint and
“Tour in Palestine and Egypt.”
“Sound at heart,” etc.
CHAPEL BAR, NOTTINGHAM.
London: Its teeming millions of population; Its commercial aspect: Leaving Victoria Station for New Haven: On the boat: New found friends: Landing at Dieppe: Leaving for Paris: Arrival at Rouen: Its Cathedral, etc.
Arrival at Paris: Our Hotel—“Hotel Londres and New York”: Visit to the Louvre: The Cathedral of Notre Dame: The Church of St. Geniveve: The Pantheon: Bloody Bartholomew: Its awful massacre.
Paris: Palace de Concorde: Champs-Elysees: The Bois de Boulogne: The extensive Boulevards: The River Seine: Leaving Paris: Arrival at Dijon: Our Hotel: Dijon: Its Churches, etc.: Our journey to Chambery, etc.
Through Mont Cenis Tunnel: Passing the Customs: Our new friend—Nurse Reynolds: Our scrimmage for provisions at Turin: Arrival at Genoa and Table-de-hote: Arrival at Rome: Our Hotel, etc.
Visit to the Forum and Coliseum: Crossing the Tiber: Castle of St. Angelo: Palace of Justice: Trajan’s Column: Garibaldi’s Monument: The Appian Way: St. Peter’s: Its magnitude and magnificence: Michael Angelo’s work.
Rome, continued: St. Peter’s Cathedral: St. Peter’s Statue: His resting place: The Columns, Pictures, Fonts, Confessionals, etc., etc.: The Vatican: The Professional Letter Writer: The Arch of Titus: Statue of Nero, etc.
The Church of the Trinity: St. Maria: Church of Onesemus: The Grand Corso: The British and Foreign Bible Society: Outside view of the Quirinal: Nero’s House: Leaving Rome: Scene at a wayside station: Arrival at Florence: Visit to the Cathedral.
Florence: Michael Angelo’s House: Baptistry of St. John: The Uffizi Gallery: The Tribune: A drive to the suburbs: Dante’s House: His Poems: Mrs. Browning on Vallambrosa: Michael Angelo’s work: Galileo, his trial, etc.
Appalling catastrophe in Italy: Messina: Savonarola: His defiance of the Pope: His excommunication: His prison cell, etc.: His martyrdom: Raphael: His genius as a painter: His works: The old Protestant Cemetery: Leaving Florence: Bologna: Crossing the Lagoons: Venice.
Arrival at Venice: The ubiquitous Gondolo: The Grand Canal: The curious water ways: Our Hotel: A snap shot of a Gondolo and its freight: St. Mark’s Cathedral: Its curious history: Its wonderful Tower, and its interior possessions.
The Pigeons in St. Mark’s Square: Description of its interior: The Palace of the Doges: The Bridge of Sighs: The general Archives of Venice: Church of St. Maria dei Frari: A London Polytechnic Party: The slums of Venice: Our leaving.
Arrival in Milan: Our visit to the Cathedral: Its Spires, and Turrets: Its Stained Glass Windows, Altars, Pictures, and Sculpture: The Church of St. Ambrogio: The Bera Picture Gallery: The Hospital: Leaving Milan: Arrival at Como: Lake Como.
Arrival at Lugano: The river Tessin and its bridge of ten arches: Bellinzono: Entrance to the great St. Gothard Tunnel: Station of Andermath: St. Bernard’s Hospice: The Devil’s Bridge: The Wood Cutter at Work: William Tell’s Chapel: His story: Lucerne: Our Hotel: Our run up the Sonnenberg, etc.
The glacier gardens: The Lion of Lucerne: The glacier mill holes: The museum: The Bridge over the Reuss: The Cathedral: Pilatus Mountain: Leaving Lucerne: Zurich: Lake of Zurich: Zwingli, the reformer.
From Zurich to Basle: Arrival in Basle: Our Hotel: Our visit to the Rhine Bridge: “The Watch on the Rhine”: The Market: The Cathedral and its sculpture, etc.: Erasmus: The Museum: The Zoological gardens: Leaving Basle: Arrival at Belfort: Belfort besieged.
At Marseilles: Our Hotel; Meeting Mr. and Mrs. Green and Mrs. Martin: The sights of the City: The Cathedral, etc.: En route for Mentone: Toulon: Passing Nice: Cannes: Arrival at Mentone: Our Hotel: Meeting Mr. and Miss Brown: The scenery, etc.: Visit to Monte Carlo.
Monte Carlo: Its Casino and gardens: Leave taking at Mentone of Mr. and Miss Brown: Arrival at Cannes: Meeting Mr. and Mrs. Green: Cannes, its scenery, etc.: Visit to Grasse: Journey to Paris: London: Home, Sweet Home.
St. Martin’s-le-Grand, London
The Marble Arch, London
Triumphal Arch, Paris
The Bastille Column, Paris
Christian Martyrs in the Colosseum, Rome
The Roman Forum, Rome
The Pantheon, Rome
Garibaldi’s Monument, Rome
St. Peter’s Cathedral, Rome
The Arch of Titus, Rome
Church of the Trinity, Rome
Team of Oxen in Tuscany
Dante and Beatrice, Florence
Mrs. Wardle near the Duomo, Florence
St. Mark’s Cathedral, Venice
Mrs. Wardle and Miss Himmel by the Doges Pillar, Venice
Ditto, in Gondola, Venice
Milan Cathedral, Milan
St. Gothard Tunnel
William Tell’s Monument
Lion of Lucerne
The Rhine Bridge, Basle
The Casino, Monte Carlo
Miss Brown at Mentone
Mr. and Mrs. Green, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Wardle and Mrs. Giles at Cannes
p. vi“Go, little book, God send the good passage,
And specially let this be thy prayer:
Unto them all that thee will read or hear,
Where thou art wrong, after their help to call,
Thee to correct in any part or all.”
London: Its teeming millions of population: Its commercial aspect: Leaving Victoria Station for New Haven: On the Boat: New found friends: Landing at Dieppe: Leaving for Paris: Rouen, its Cathedral, etc.
We had settled to have a holiday—not a mere pic-nic, not a week-end at Blackpool, or a tour of a few days in the Isle of Man—but a real first-class, out-and-out trip. Where then is it to be? Why, to Rome and back, came the reply. From St. Paul’s in London, the largest city in the world, to St. Peter’s in Rome, one of the great cities of the ancient world.
“To Rome!” my friends said in astonishment.
“Yes! to Rome.” There seems to be magic p. 2in the very word. Rome—The Eternal City. The city of the seven hills. The city of which St. Paul was proud to be a citizen. See Acts, chapter 22, verse 25. “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, uncondemned?” verse 28. “Then the Chief Captain came and said unto him. Tell me, art thou a Roman?” He said, “Yes.”
Rome stands for power. Her proud eagles once swept their wings over almost the then known world. Rome stands for antiquity, greatness, wealth, splendour, conquest and colonization, liberty, law, self control, prowess, skill. But, alas! It also stands for cruelty, luxury, strife, war, humiliation, decay, decline.
This is the objective really of our holiday. Now it is settled, ways and means, and the route, etc., are but details. Packing! Well, I am a poor hand at packing. I think it must be a gift to be able to pack well. I think a good packer must be born, not made. If I pack, sure as fate, the things I want first are at the bottom of the trunk. My dear little wife, to whom I owe much for packing and general comfort during the tour, and, indeed, I owe to her well-kept journal, much that assists me to make this record of our holiday.
On the 25th September, 1907, we found ourselves en route for London, followed by the good wishes and prayers of loved ones left p. 3behind, also of the many friends we knew had kind thoughts of us. We reached London about 6 p.m., and were soon snug and comfortable in “The Manchester Hotel.” We had no time and no special wish just now to see London. London cannot be seen in a day or two. Its magnitude bewilders, having a population of about 7,000,000, and for its teeming millions, there is need of bread, milk, beef, clothes, work, etc. We cannot understand at a glance what it means. In London we have the largest breweries, distilleries, and sugar refineries in the Kingdom; also many metal manufacturers and machine makers, including: plate, jewellery, watches, brass works, and all kinds of tin and zinc works; large printing and publishing houses; also, as you know, large millinery and tailoring establishments; cabinet-making on a most extensive scale, leather-working, coopering, coach-building, ship-building, hat-making, extensive chemical works, soap manufacturing and dye works; also dock labourers, ’bus drivers, cab drivers, tram guards and drivers, railway men and engine drivers, policemen, postmen, ministers of religion, there being over 3,000 churches in this great city, and many other means of living besides the few I have mentioned. Then there are its hotels, as “The Manchester Hotel” where we are p. 4staying, “The Midland Grand,” “Grand Hotel,” Trafalgar Square, “The Victoria Hotel” in Northumberland Avenue. Many more offering accommodation to the tens of thousands of visitors to this great city from all lands. We cannot refrain from mentioning the religious aspect of the city. We have our noble Cathedral, St. Paul’s, always worth a visit, if only for its monuments and torn banners, and its choral service; then we have “Spurgeon’s Tabernacle”; “The City Temple,” where once ministered that mighty man of God, Dr. J. Parker; also Wesley’s Church; City Road West London Mission, and many others I cannot describe.
Its theatres on all hands, who claim their votaries by tens of thousands nightly. The underground electric railways give to the city traveller and visitor an idea of the vastness and importance of the City. However, it was no part of my intention when I began this record to describe London, so I will content myself with saying we only spent one night in the city on our outward journey.
Many of my readers will be quite familiar with the streets, shops, bazaars and churches of this great hive of human life, human industry, and human skill. A good night’s rest and we rose refreshed for our journey, now it is to Paris. We had very little p. 5difficulty in re-packing our valise and trunk, settling our account and calling to our rescue a porter. We were soon in train at Snow Hill for Victoria, arriving at this latter place in time to catch “The Continental” for New Haven and Dieppe. It is not an easy matter even with a porter to guide you, to find out amidst such a labyrinth of platforms and stair-cases to find the train you want, and to get a comfortable seat. We managed, however, ultimately to reach the right platform and to find a seat in a comfortable compartment. We noticed our fellow passengers, by label on their luggage, were also going to foreign fields and to Continental cities. The morning was a lovely autumn morning. As we steamed out of Victoria Station we got a sight of the lovely landscape, the morning sun was shining in great brilliance. We passed villages of importance, and towns in rapid succession. Lewes was a stopping place not far from New Haven. We did not stay long at this station, just long enough for the railway officials to satisfy themselves we were all furnished with tickets for the Continent. After leaving Lewes, we were in New Haven in about half-an-hour.
New Haven is about 56 miles from London. A pretty place, lying at the foot of the white chalk cliffs. It has a population of about p. 63,000. It is, however, an important place, as the mail packets for the cities of Europe leave here twice daily. Our train ran us very close up to the landing stage, and the securing our luggage and getting it conveyed from train to steamer was only the work of about ten minutes, and was managed without the least difficulty. The weather continued all we could desire, and it seemed quite clear we were going to have a calm sea and a pleasant voyage across channel. We got very nice seats on the boat; we found our fellow-passengers on the whole most agreeable, polite, and, indeed, friendly; were we not all on pleasure bent, and should we not now, on the wide ocean, show to others respect. We strolled the deck of our pretty little vessel, she was a beauty, and behaved so well, we had not the least fear of that terrible disease that afflicts so many who sail the seas, I mean what the French call mal-de-mer—“the sickness of the sea.” We had hardly lost sight of the white cliffs of dear, old England, when our thoughts went back to home, and to loved ones. Then we began to think of refreshments. We found a menu that filled us with hopefulness that an agreeable meal at least might be obtained. We went to the buffet and found we could get a real good English dinner. This we had and enjoyed it heartily; I considered it p. 7excellent, and my wife, who is a connoisseur in the cookery line, declared she was well satisfied.
A newly-married couple joined us. We found they were on their honeymoon. A very happy couple apparently. In our hearts we wished that their lives might be as smooth as the sea we were now crossing. We became quite friends before we got half way across the channel. I had my Kodak with me, so I must take a snap-shot or two of the happy pair; then I and my wife must submit to the same process. So the time passed pleasantly, and in about three hours we were landing on the shores of France at Dieppe.
Our little ship, as if in a hurry to serve us, was quickly up at the landing stage, and we were safe on shore with our baggage, en route for the Custom House. We soon found out we were in a foreign land, because a foreign tongue was spoken, and although I am able to parley vous un peu, I could not hold conversation with a Frenchman, he speaks so quickly. I, however, could ask a simple question in French and also give a simple answer to a question, and this was of immense value to me during this tour. Our trunks duly examined, and free, we had a short time to look round Dieppe.
On our strolling about a little, waiting for p. 8our train, we saw a little of this rather important French town and watering place. It has a population of about 20,000; it lies in a hollow so to speak; the white chalk hills surround it; the quays are substantially built of solid masonry. Dieppe seems to have an old castle, quite out-of-date, as a defence; there is also a citadel of modern construction; a small light-house, about 40-feet high, stands by the entrance of the town. We learned that a large number of French people come to Dieppe for the summer and autumn holidays. There are some works for the labouring classes, such as: ivory works, one of the most famous in Europe; also there are some works in horn, in bone, some in lace, some sugar refineries, a little ship-building, and the fishing industry is fairly prominent; a good supply of herring and mackerel is sent daily to Paris; also there are extensive oyster beds, which are a source of profit to the inhabitants. We boarded the train about 4 o’clock p.m., and leaving Dieppe and the sea behind us, we steamed away at a rapid rate towards Paris. We passed some lovely country, rich in fruit and foliage; some most beautiful Chalets, with grounds like fairyland; also, we saw the working-class home, apparently very poor, no windows and little furniture; they seem to live out of doors, and eat very much fruit and p. 9vegetables; they appear, however, healthy and strong. We saw some one or two cemeteries, and so near we could see very strange archways of flowers or wood, or marble over the graves, and very large crucifix’s.
We had left our new found friends at Dieppe, so now we were more alone to enjoy each others company, and to speak of the scenery and places as we passed them. In about an hour-and-an-half we reached Rouen. A very large and important railway station. Here we stayed a little while, and we could see the town was large and important. It was formerly the capital of the province of Normandy. It is one of the best commercial centres in France. It has been called the Manchester of France on account of its great cotton manufactories, producing goods to the value of 80,000,000 francs annually. It has also manufactories of hosiery, silk and wool fabrics, hardware and machinery. It is an important sea-port, as it has a harbour that can receive steamers of 600 tons. It has a population of about 150,000. The Cathedral of Notre Dame, built between 1207 and 1210, is a fine Gothic building. The spire is nearly 500 feet high. In this old Cathedral rests the remains of Rollo, first Duke of Normandy, and his son William.
“The isles grow dim, and as by winding ways,
Eager I climb St. Onen’s giddy height,
The silver censers vanish from my gaze
As shooting stars upon a dusky night
I hear the chanting vespers at my feet
Like wordless water, music fair and sweet.
“On priest and acolyte and people falls,
From western window many a sapphire ray;
The sculptured knights within the niched walls
Look not more mute and marble-like than they,
Living and dead with fingers clasped seem praying
God and the angels hear what they are saying.
“The city gleams with lights that come and go,
The hills are cut against the opal west;
The river hath a soft and onward flow
As some tired spirit fain to seek its rest,
While from the far outlying mists of green
Tinkle some vesper bells of Church unseen.
“Monk, Martyr, Saint, and paladin arise
Around me now in pinnacled array;
An hour ago they seemed to touch the skies,
At last I stand as near to heaven as they,
And at last ’mid this mute companionship of stone
I cannot feel that I am quite alone.”
Arrival in Paris: Our Hotel—“Hotel Londres and New York”: Visit to the Louvre: The Cathedral of Notre Dame: The Church of St. Geniveve: The Pantheon: Bloody Bartholomew: Its awful massacre.
Our stay in Rouen was of the briefest, so we were soon full steam ahead for Paris, and Rouen was left behind. We crossed some wonderful bridges of the rivers, or river; I think we crossed the Seine several times.
On approaching the suburbs of Paris, we saw large villas and larger mansions, surrounded with luxuriant foliage; indeed, the whole landscape is charming. Soon we found the train rattling over points and crossings, and into Gare de Lazare. So we are in Paris; the city of gaiety, the city of beauty, the goal of pleasure seekers from all parts of the world; a city, it is said by Victor Hugo, combines in itself—Athens, Rome, Jerusalem—such is the city we have just entered, and which is to be our home for two or three days. The distance from the station to our Hotel—“Hotel Londres and New York,” 15, Place du Havre, is so short that our p. 12luggage was conveyed by porter, without a cab; we just walked across the square, and we were in the Hotel. I had, however, a difficulty on hand with the porter. My idea of remuneration for porter’s services were by no means up-to-date for Paris; I thought a franc for ten minutes’ service ample. He, evidently, did not think so, as he showed himself highly dissatisfied, and expressed himself in language (happily I understood but little of) anything but polite. I told the Hotel Manager how I had acted, and he went and sent him away.
When in Paris, if you are in doubt as to your exact position, and want direction (in England you would say, “ask a policeman”), in France—pardon, monsieur, Quel est le chemin pour le madoline. If you put on side, he won’t notice you; if you offer him a tip, he will probably take you for a spy, and arrest you as an anarchist. The lifting of the hat and the word “monsieur” is an open sesame which appeals to all Frenchmen, and smooths away many difficulties; it transforms the haughty policeman into the politest of bobbies; the frowning hotel-keeper into the most jovial of hosts; and the cross-grained custom house official into a most agreeable acquaintance. You must avoid whistling while in Paris; the Scotchman says, “Ye mauna whustle on the Sabbath”; this saying must be applied to p. 13every day of the week in Paris; nothing is so irritating to a Frenchman, except perhaps the sight of a British tourist, arrayed in white flannels, marching in their grand Cathedrals, or even one of their ordinary Churches, with a cigarette in his mouth. The untravelled man soon finds out the difference between an English and a Continental City, and habits of the people.
We were shown to our rooms, which we found clean and comfortable; the Hotel is all we could desire. A porter, at the entrance, speaks fairly good English. We soon had a good square meal, in the shape of table-de-hote, which we were quite ready for and enjoyed; plenty of fruit on the tables, grapes, oranges, apples and peaches. After satisfying the inner man, we strolled into the lounge or writing-room, which we found most convenient and pleasant—writing material, newspapers and bills of concerts, plays, etc.; also, here I could enjoy my pull at the weed. We were not late in retiring to rest; rest we could, but not sleep for a time; I thought, O! restless Paris! The only time that is quiet from tram, ’bus and cab seems to be from about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.; after this early hour, wagons begin to lumber past, farmers from the country, I think, with produce which must be in the market early. We slept, however, a p. 14few hours, rising fairly early for dejeuner, we were able to enjoy a cup of coffee made in Paris; coffee here is perfect; roll and butter, fish, eggs, etc. Breakfast over we engaged a cab, a taxi-cab, and we drove round some parts of this wonderful city; we went by some parts of the banks of the river Seine, and here there are literally miles of quays, and the river is spanned by fifteen bridges, some of them of great strength and beauty.
The Louvre was one of the places we visited. No one would think of going to Paris without seeing this vast pile of buildings; no less than sixty acres, I learned, in the very heart of the city was taken up by this building. It stands to-day as it has stood for more than an hundred years, with its grand facades, pavillions and colonnades, and its splendid halls, saloons and galleries, as a proud monument to the ancient Royalty of France. It was the home of Henry III., till civil war drove him from his capital, and he perished at St. Cloud by the assassin’s knife. Here for a time Henry of Navarre had his abode. It is now a museum or a series of grand museums; miles of the most wonderful paintings, choice sculptures, Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, bronzes, historic relics from far off lands, and from different races, engravings and models—indeed, it is a great p. 15storehouse of art. During the war with Germany, the Communists set fire to one of the wings and the library of 90,000 volumes and many rare manuscripts were destroyed.
It is said that on the night of the 23rd of May, a troop of Germans had entered the city and made their way so far, they ordered the porter or door-keeper of the Louvre to pour petroleum into the different rooms, and on his refusal, they imprisoned him and his wife in his own lodge, and then at once set fire to the place. Next day the French troops arrived in time to release him from his sad plight, and also to arrest the flames in their destructive work.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame, of course, came in for a visit. It stands, we are told, on the site on which the Roman conqerors erected a temple to Jupiter. This Cathedral is a marvel of architectural beauty. As you gaze you wonder at the skill of the architect, and also of sculpture, for there are in marble and stone fanciful scenes from bible history portrayed—the Kings of Judah; a colossal image of the Virgin Mother; Adam and Eve. There are many pointed arches and stained windows glistening in the sun’s rays. Two massive towers rising to the height of 200 feet. The interior is in keeping with the exterior, only, if possible, richer and finer; the length p. 16is about 400 feet, and the breadth about 150. It has stood in its beauty on this spot during the last 600 years.
One of the Chapels of this Cathedral contains, they tell us, some wonderful relics. For instance, “a part of the crown of thorns with which our Saviour was crowned in mockery”; also the sponge and winding sheet used at His death. Kings and princes of the Roman Catholic persuasion have vied with each other in the costliness of their offering at this sacred shrine—cups, gold cups, silver cups, vases, candlesticks, crosses in gold and silver, some studded with diamonds, and all kinds of precious stones. There are curiosities and art treasures in abundance within the precincts of this holy place. It must have been a proud day for Napoleon when he came to be crowned in this great Cathedral, heralded by Popes, Marshalls and sword-bearers. Bearers bore his train amidst the most brilliant assembly of this, or any other land.
Another notable building we visited after the Cathedral of Notre Dame, I think more interesting in its way—what was at one time the Church of St. Geniveve—now it is known as the Pantheon. It stands upon an elevation, and its magnificent dome can be seen from almost all parts of the city. It rises to p. 17a height of 267 feet. The funds to build it with, we are told, were provided by lottery at the time of Louis XV. Its approach is very attractive, being by a stately portico, and by a triumphal progress. The grand car, upon which the Sarcophagus containing the body of Voltaire was laid, was drawn by twelve white horses to the Pantheon. It is said that 100,000 people joined in the procession. Rousseau and Marat were buried with similar honours; but we are told, that so fickle is the populace, that six months after, the body of one of them was removed and buried in a common sewer. Our guide was not shy in showing us the very sad effects of the German shells. The large dome was shot through by their cannon balls, and, but for the timely help of the troops from Versailles, very likely this noble building would have shared the same fate as many others did.
Opposite the grand collonade, near the Louvre, is the Church of St. Germain, with its strange gable, buttresses and gargoyles. From the belfry of this Church, it is said, “rang out the tocsin,” which was the signal for the massacre of St. Bartholomew, on the 24th of August, 1572. At the dead of night—fit time for such awful deeds of blood and murder—at the sound of this tocsin the courtly butchers went forth to their work of slaughter, armed p. 18and shouting “for God and the King.” They forced the dwellings of the Christians. Six thousand of these assassins, wielding the weapons of the brigand and the soldier, ran about in the wildest fury, murdering without mercy or distinction of sex, or suffering, or age. Many of these fiends in human form ran shouting “kill the heretic, kill the heretic! Death to the Huguenots—Kill! Kill!!”
That day the human seemed to be turned into the fiend. It is said there perished in Paris alone, over 15,000 Christian Martyrs, and in the provinces more than as many more. The sun of that beautiful sabbath shone with its pure light upon the desolate and dishonoured homes of the victims of this terrible massacre; and the air, which should have been hushed from sound until the psalm of praise woke it, bore upon its midnight billows the yell of fierce blasphemers flushed and drunk with murder. Says one, “Unhappy, Paris, thou hast suffered many things since that unhappy time.”
There are many interesting Churches in this gay city, but I must refrain from dwelling upon their beauty and utility.
Paris: Palace de Concorde: Champs Elysees: The Bois de Boulogne: The extensive Boulevards: The River Seine, etc.: Leaving Paris: Arrive at Dijon: Our Hotel: Dijon, its Churches, etc.: Our journey to Chambery, etc.
The Place de la Concorde. Here we were pointed out was a place where a terrible struggle took place between the Germans and the French in 1871. The work of devastation and ruin was only too apparent. We drove to the Champs Elysees. This is a most lovely place, with a broad avenue a mile long, with trees on each side of all sorts, and grass lawns and flower beds in the greatest profusion. Here wander carelessly the gay crowds, or sit in beautiful little cafes under the spreading branches of the trees. In the groves around the children are swarming, shouting, and playing. We noticed there was the ever-loved of children, “The Punch and Judy,” also with stalls with toys, gingerbread, etc., etc.
When the darkness gathers and the numerous and brilliant gas jets are lighted, stretching p. 20for the distance of more than a mile, and music and song float on the air, the scene is very fascinating. It is said, that along this broad avenue, in 1871, Paris with suppressed rage—watched the last of the German army disappear. Our jarvey then drove us to the Bois de Boulogne, which is not far from here. This is a grand promenade for chariots and horses, a little like our Rotten Row, in London. There are here to be seen lakes, islands, caverns, artificial mounds, avenues, and, indeed, everything to make a most charming retreat from the busy city life. The Champ de Mars is another of the open spaces. Napoleon, before the famous battle of Waterloo, held his last review of the grand army of France here. Again, in 1852, 60,000 soldiers were brought together on the occasion of the distribution of eagles to the different regiments, also several Arabs, in native costume, as representative of the vanquished Algerian tribes. And here again, sad to say, in 1871, the Germans levelled their dreadful “mitrailleuse” and shot down, in their helplessness, many of the French. We can hardly leave Paris without saying further that the boulevards of Paris are a great boon and joy to the city. Whatever may be thought or said of the career of Napoleon III., in fourteen years he spent £60,000,000 in building seventy p. 21miles of streets and two hundred boulevards, eight churches, eighty schools, twelve wonderful bridges, and planted fifty thousand trees. All added ultimately to the wealth as well as the attractions of the city. To describe the streets is a task I shall not attempt. They are called Rue—as Rue Lafitte, Rue de la Chausse, Rue de la Victorie, Rue St. Dennis. The numerous places and things in and around Paris that call for remarks are legion, but I must forbear, only to give one passing reference to the river Seine and its many bridges. Pont Notre Dame or the bridge of Our Lady, dates from the fifteenth century; a bridge of later date, we were told, was made of wood, and fell into the river taking sixty houses with it. This is a fine bridge built of solid masonry. The Pont d’Arcole is a suspension bridge for foot passengers only. The Pont Neuf was built by Henry IV. There is a bronze horse on the bridge which was cast in Tuscany. On its way to Paris, the vessel bringing it was wrecked off the Norman coast, and lay for a year at the bottom of the sea. It was ultimately fished up and brought to its present position. And now I must leave, for a time at least, any further reference to Paris, only to say we settled our account at the Hotel and drove off to Gare-de-Lyon to catch the p. 22train at 10.25 for Dijon. Our driver was a very interesting sort of Frenchman, and tried to explain and show us places and things, but we were little the better for his attempts to enlighten us. We reached the station early, and were soon steaming away through France, and as we did so, we came to the conclusion it was as fair a land as e’er we had set eyes on; miles of lovely lawns; hedges cut and trimmed as if by a barber; the poplar trees rising in rows, long and even, all in order and beauty; then the rivers here and there rolling along, between grassy banks, and the lovely fat looking cattle browsing or sleeping in soft sunshine; cosy cottages, almost buried in bowers of roses; quaint old world villages, with red-tiled cottages; and stately churches with ivy covered towers, made one think of the poet who sang:—
“Through thy cornfields green and sunny vines,
O, pleasant land of France.”
We had very comfortable seats in the train, and our travelling companions, I think, saw we were foreigners, therefore did not trouble us with any conversation. The country scenery we passed was charming, as the autumn tints were visible upon the trees; also the rich corn harvest was gathered in, and stacks of wheat were plentiful. Labourers p. 23we could see in the fields tilling the soil for next year’s produce. The country we passed through in our journey from Paris to Dijon (our next stop) is comparatively flat, slightly undulating in places, and I should think the soil is of a rich nature. About 6 o’clock we arrived at Dijon, and soon were out of the train and into the hotel ’bus. We had arranged beforehand our hotel from a list supplied from “Cook & Sons.” Here we had chosen the “Grand Hotel de la Cloche,” or we should call it the “Bell Hotel.” After having secured our apartments—which were of a first-class order, most profusely decorated and richly furnished, and clean beyond description—we had a wash, and found table-de-hote was ready, and we were ready too. A well prepared and well served dinner of eight courses; wines free and abundant to those who cared to have it; indeed, a bottle of the French red wine was placed to each individual at the table; fruit in abundance. A very good company, and apparently very jolly. All were foreigners, either French, German or Italian. After dessert we went for a little while to the smoke room, and then to bed. We slept well until very early in the morning, when a terrible storm of thunder and lightning broke over the town—it was very startling, being so severe. We learned, when at breakfast, that p. 24a woman had been struck by lightning close by our hotel; she, however, was not killed.
Dijon lies in a valley, the river Onche runs through it, and a beautiful undulating piece of land, covered with vines, lies to the left of the town, which is nearly 200 miles from Paris. It has now, I believe, a population of about 50,000. We took the best means of seeing it in the short time at our disposal, by hiring a car. One of the most jolly-looking Frenchmen I ever saw, with a face as round and red as an apple, his horse was just as fat as a horse could be, and he cared for it as if it was human, or even more than some human beings are cared for. He drove us to some lovely gardens where there was a fine lake and a fountain which was then playing. Having my Kodak with me I took a snap-shot, though I regret to say, I did not get a good picture. We drove to the lovely Cathedral of St. Boniface, built, we were told, for the third time in the twelfth century. The spire is very fine, rising to a height of 300 feet. We also visited St. Michael’s, which is Grecian in its exterior, but it is Gothic in its interior. We passed a very old Carmelite Church with rich carving about the entrance, and a fine old carved oak door. On the steps sat two old men resting, typical of the labouring class of France. I just managed to get a snap-shot. There is a p. 25fine town hall, which shows itself to great advantage. We learnt it was at one time the Palace of the Duke of Burgundy, and had then a very large collection of scientific and art subjects, and a library of 50,000 volumes. Dijon is one of the loveliest towns of France. It has in it some manufacturies as woollen cloth, blankets, glue, baskets, mustard oil, saltpetre, and there is also a brewery. At the time of the Roman invasion, it is said, Cæsar fixed and fortified a camp near here. The Germans attacked it in 1871, and it capitulated on October 23rd of that year, after a long and severe struggle, and was made, for the time being (to the great chagrin of the inhabitants) the head-quarters of the German General Werder. Having made as full an acquaintance of the place as we could in the short time at our disposal, we paid our hotel account and found ourselves again at the railway station. Here I had a long and angry altercation with the ticket examiner. I understood him to say our tickets were for another route; I closely scanned them, and assured him in the best French at my command, our tickets were in order, and, after considerable difficulty, he consented to our passing the stile and getting, to the train. Again we were on rail, comfortably fixed and destined for Chambery. We had not left Dijon long before we noticed the p. 26vine-clad hills, which indicated our approach to the South of France, and Alpine hills. The scenery grew more beautiful as we sped along towards our destination. We were able not only to enjoy the views as we passed villages and hamlets—but were able to get a fairly good square meal on the train. We arrived safely at Chambery about 5 o’clock, and as usual we had fixed upon an hotel. This time it is Hotel de France, and we were soon in a rumbling old ’bus and driven to a very quiet part of this quiet sleepy little town. We found it fairly comfortable, and a hostess who had a robust and bonny appearance, and whose welcome in the French fashion was all we could wish. Our rooms were lofty and rather barely furnished. There was a feeling of chilliness about the place, but we were only staying for one night, so would put up with it. A good hot table-de-hote dinner, and we felt better. To bed at an early hour, was our habit, and here we did not break it. A good night’s rest, and I was stirring early to look round and get information. It is a town of about 13,000 inhabitants. An Archbishop resides here (of the Romish Church) of course. It has some manufacturies in silk gauze, watches, leather, etc. I saw some soldiers on horseback on parade and took a snap-shot. Also two fine bullocks pulling a wagon of p. 27timber. We had a very good breakfast, as our hostess was most gracious and obliging. We settled up accounts, which we found on a moderate scale, indeed, cheaper than a similar hotel in England. We started for the station on foot, the morning being fine, while a porter conveyed our luggage on a wheelbarrow. Arriving in good time at the station we managed to get good comfortable corner seats, so we could “view the landscape o’er” at our leisure. We soon found it was worth surveying, for we were nearing the Alps. On our left, some fifty miles or more—Geneva and, between the city and Chambery, lay a rugged mountainous district scarcely matched in any part of the world. For an hour or more we watched the changing scenery with an intense interest.
Our journey to and through Mont Cenis Tunnel: Passing the Customs: Our new friend Nurse Reynolds: Our scrimmage for provisions at Turin: Arrival at Genoa and Table-de-hote: Arrival at Rome and our Hotel, etc.
Mountains, rivers, waterfalls, landscapes, vineyards, castles, chalets, and in some cases, so near the villages, we saw children playing on the village green, our train steaming on at a good speed, we soon found ourselves at Modane. This is the frontier between France and Italy, and here I expected we should have to change trains, go through the Customs, and re-embark on another train. So we got out of the train. I soon found, however, we were not to change, so we re-entered another part of the same train, and here we were civilly and carefully dealt with; the very acme of politeness was shown. Our bags and valises were just opened, but scarcely examined. We declared we had nothing within, to the best of our knowledge and belief, upon which duty was payable. When asked the question, I answered “Non, Monsieur.” When we came to settle down p. 29before the train proceeded on its journey we noticed our fellow travellers were different. We found two ladies, mother and daughter, going to join a near relative in India; an Italian woman, not over clean, with a babe about four weeks’ old; and a nurse in uniform who was going to Rome to fill a position, also she wanted to learn the Italian language. My dear wife and this nurse soon became close acquaintances, as they both had learned the profession, and for some time they were too absorbed almost to notice the scenery we were passing, for we were now nearing the Alps through which we were to pass. We reached Mont Cenis duly, and, as we heard so much of this terrible tunnel, we almost dreaded passing through it. At this point there is an old pass over Mont Cenis, or roadway between Piedmont and Savoy, the highest point 11,570 feet above sea level. The pass was an old unused road, and dangerous on account of brigands and bandittis. Bonaparte, be it said to his credit, in 1803, spent £300,000 in repairing it, and it was here the great Napoleon III. sent his troops into Italy against Austria in 1859. The tunnel is about eight miles in length. To make it was a work of almost superhuman labour and skill. It was commenced by two sets of men, one on the Italian side and one set on the French side, in p. 30the year 1857; and so exact had been the calculations made, that when the men met in the middle, they were not a single foot out of their calculations. The cost was nearly £3,000,000, and quite a number of valuable lives. Now, both for business and pleasure, a way has been opened to the sunny south. We settled in our respective corners as we pierced this great mountain, and gave ourselves up to reflection. The great train thundered on, and silence largely held us all in its thrall. The half-hour in going through Mont Cenis seemed almost half-a-day. At last we emerged into the day light, and into the glorious sunshine of sunny Italy, with its vine-clad hills, and its serene and sunny sky—“Land of all lands the pride,” leaving behind us the Alpine heights (to revisit them on our return). We were running for Turin. We found we had no buffet on the train, and as we had not laid in a stock of refreshments, we began to feel the cravings of nature, and we began to wonder how they were to be satisfied. We ultimately pulled up at Turin; how long we were to stop I did not know, and I could not ask, for now it was beyond my bit of French. I said to my dear wife, here goes, we must have bread or starve: if the train leaves before I return to you—well, good-bye! But I will do my best to be back in a few minutes and before the p. 31train leaves. Without hat I rushed down the platform looking for a buffet, right at the bottom of a long platform I saw the word buffet. I darted in, threw down a lire, and picked up two rolls of bread worth about twopence each, also some fruit worth about as much. I seized these and hurried back to the carriage, passengers and people looking on and the waiters seemed to think I must be an escaped lunatic. Well! I reached our carriage just as the train was moving out. What would have happened if I had been left behind I do not care to think. “All’s well that ends well.” So we got at least something that would keep soul and body together until we could get a proper meal. We had decided to stop at Genoa, but my wife said “well, now Nurse is going right through to Rome, let us keep her company.” So we decided not to remain at Genoa, but to go right through; that meant twenty-four hours in the train. As we were approaching Genoa we could see lovely vine-clad slopes, also the hills, the rivers and lakes, the landscapes, lovely beyond my power to describe.
Genoa is a very fine city. I felt I could say of it as is said of the City of Jerusalem. Beautiful for situation is Genoa. Here we found we should have time for dinner; twenty minutes being allowed. We left p. 32our carriage—now I had two nurses to take care of—we had to go under some arches, and across several platforms, to get to the buffet; this took us five minutes out of the twenty. We found, to our extreme satisfaction, a table-de-hote fully set out. Soup was laid out and waiting; waiters plenty. No sooner one course was over, another was before us—chicken, fish, saddle of mutton, pastry, ices, and more than we needed—so that in ten minutes we had well satisfied the inner man. Cigars were lying on the counter, and each passenger having dinner just helped himself, also to as much fruit as we could conveniently take. We were also helping ourselves to Post Cards but these, we were reminded, we must pay for as extra. So we scampered back with all speed. Never, I think, did a dinner of eight courses disappear so quickly. We had no time to explore the town, and we could only get glimpses of it from the train going in. It is called “le Superb.” Has some of the finest churches in Italy; is also a city of Commerce, of Shipping. It is a garrisoned city, and has fortifications considered impregnable. It is a city of palaces. Also has a picture gallery containing some fine paintings by the old masters, one by Guercino, in the very best colouring, “Virgin and Child.” This has been a favourite subject p. 33of the Artists, as both in oils and in marble and stone, this subject is prominent. “The Flight into Egypt” is another favourite. These, however, we had not the pleasure of seeing, so we could only have the pleasure of knowing we had been near them. We left Genoa about 9 p.m.; it was quite dark, and so sultry we could hardly bear the heat of the atmosphere. We hutched up into our corners to try to sleep, but with the rattle of the train, the screams of the baby, and the impatience of the mother, we could not sleep, at least I could not. I think my wife got a little sleep. So did the nurse, our travelling companion. Before midnight, there broke over us a thunder storm. The lightning was so vivid I could clearly see the objects we passed, and it continued for several hours. We passed the leaning tower of Pisa before daylight broke in upon us, we were also getting too tired to enjoy the look out when the day broke.
As we sped on we expected to see the City of Rome about 10 a.m. At last the vision burst upon our view. Rome at last. Yes, certainly, there is the proud City. Its towers, spires and domes, and minarets, all glistening in the morning sun. The monuments and ruins of this city still standing testifies to the greatness of its past history. The gigantic Colosseum to the humblest of ruins, everything p. 34in Rome is eloquent in the language of history. We soon hunted up our luggage, and made our way out of the carriage to the platform. After a few words with our companion, the Nurse, we separated. She was expecting to be met, and we were anxious to get to our hotel. This time we had chosen the “Grand Hotel Continental,” and finding their ’bus at the station we were soon conveyed to our destination.
The hotel was certainly of a high-class order, and very extensive. The grand saloon for dining was most costly furnished. Mirrors and paintings on the walls gave brilliancy and attractiveness to the scene. The lecture room, the smoke room, the reading room, were all most luxuriantly fitted up. The bed rooms also were sweet and clean. Abundance of lavatories, bathrooms, lifts, etc., make the place a comfortable home from home. After having fixed our number (I mean the number of our bed room, this was always our first business at a fresh hotel) we had breakfast, then a bath, for we had no opportunity of even a good wash since leaving Chambery twenty-four hours ago. We were needing it badly. An ample supply of hot water for the bath, towels ready to hand, soap we carried with us. We thought it strange, but we found it true, the hotels don’t find soap. This p. 35reminds me of Mark Twain’s position when in Italy, in his “Innocents Abroad.” He says, “We have had a bath in Milan, in a public house. They were going to put all three of us in one bath tub, but we objected. We chose to have three tubs, and large ones—tubs suited to the dignity of aristocrats who had real estate, and brought it with them. After we were stripped and had taken the first chilly dash, we discovered that haunting atrocity that has embittered our lives in so many cities and villages of Italy, there was no soap. I called. A woman answered and I barely had time to throw myself against the door, before she would have been in, in another second. I said, ‘Beware, woman! Go away from here—go away, now, or it will be worse for you. I am an unprotected male, but I will preserve my honour at the peril of my life.’” We had a good bath, then to bed for a few hours, as we had had hardly any sleep in the train. We rose about 2.30 p.m. refreshed, and after lunch we prepared for a stroll or ride to see the sights of this wonderful city. We soon found it is a wonderful city. The ancient and the modern are seen at almost every point. And yet you seem to feel there is no jar on your taste or feeling.
Visit to the Forum and the Colosseum: Crossing the Tiber: Castle of St. Angelo: Palace of Justice: Trajan’s Column: Garibaldi’s Monument: The Appian Way: St. Peter’s: Its magnitude and magnificence: Michael Angelo’s work.
Our first visit was to the Colosseum. Among the many sights of Rome none give us a better idea of its ancient civilisation than the Forum and the Colosseum. The heart of the great Roman Empire throbbed in the Forum. Here was, at one time, the Senate, the market, the courts, indeed, it was the very centre of the life of Rome. As we gazed upon the ruins, the vast marble columns, still standing, its broken arches, and gables in ruins, it needed no great stretch of the imagination to fancy we were back to the palmy days of Rome, and the Forum is ringing with the cheers of the vast populace who have sat under Cicero’s eloquence; or, we fancy we can hear the tramp of Roman legions as they return from some nightly conquest, passing the gates of this remarkable building. The ground it covered would be p. 37about 250,000 square feet. These, of course, embraced the market place, the rostrum, several temples, and the triumphal arch. The whole building was of marble, and with its marvellous architecture, it must, in its glory, have presented a striking appearance. The Palace of Cæsar stands just behind. We had a chance of seeing a little of the gardens, once belonging to this palace. Enough of the remains serve to show something of the wealth and luxury of those ancient Emperors. I took two snap-shots of a part of the ruins of this wonderful place. In my photograph the marble columns are seen to be standing, and they are where they have stood for the last fifteen hundred years at least. From here to the Colosseum, no less wonderful than the Forum, we then made our way. The first view of it filled us with awe. In its ruins it is awfully grand. It must surely be the most imposing ruin in Rome, and it is the most historically interesting relic of ruin in the world. Vespasian began to build it in the year 72 A.D., and the Emperor Titus completed it in the year 80 A.D. Historians tell us it was built by the forced labour of Jews and Christians. Its architect, they tell us, was one “Gaudentius,” who afterwards became a Christian, and died a martyr within the walls he himself had planned and helped to build. p. 38Originally it would hold in all 100,000 people, and 90,000 could be seated in its vast galleries and rooms. It would cover, apparently, about six acres of land. Down to the sixth century it remained in its beauty undiminished, and little decayed. Inside the vast building was a fine statue of Nero. The extreme length of the walls outside are about six hundred feet, and the width nearly five hundred feet. There was originally a portico carried round the whole building, adorned with gilded columns, while statues of the finest marble filled the arcades, and there were rich awnings of silk for a protection from the sun’s heat. It is stated the carnival lasted for several weeks, and no less than five thousand wild beasts, some from the Indian Jungles, and some from the African morasses took part. These terrible gladiator fights were the amusements for the aristocracy of Italy, and were attended by stately courtiers and the nobles of the land. We saw the bars still standing in the ruins, behind which the wild beasts lurked, waiting to be turned into the arena to fight with gladiators, i.e., men trained, who with their lives in their hands were prepared for this terrible ordeal. If they came out with the trophy they were applauded, and with honours escorted through the streets of Rome.
Sometimes, at the p. 39bidding of the wicked Emperor Nero, one hundred Christians would be brought into the arena, when a vast crowd would be present to watch four or five lions and as many tigers turned in, wild with fury, and mad with hunger, the Christian martyrs were soon delivered from their fleshly tenement and went up to their reward. It is said that St. Ignatius was brought from Antioch to be devoured by these wild beasts. Church traditions record many martyrs within these now ruins. Byron says:
“I see before me the Gladiator lie;
He leans upon his hand, his manly brow
Consents to death, but conquers agony.
The arena swims around him, he is gone
E’er ceased the inhuman shout which hailed the wretch who won.
He heard it, but he heeded not; his eyes
Were with his heart, and that was far away.
There were his young barbarians all at play.
There was their Dacian mother—he their sire
Butchered to make a Roman holiday.”
“And now the gratings ope, with hideous roar
Leap forth those hungry brutes, while kneel in prayer,
Those heaps of Christians, how their spirits soar
Above or wounds or death.”
p. 40I stood and gazed, and thought, by those terrible ruins. I think I was as much affected as when I stood and gazed upon those marvellous structures, the Pyramids of Egypt. I took a snap-shot of my dear little wife within the ruins of the Colosseum, and we left it to ponder over its history and its ruin. We thought of the prophecy in prose of an Anglo-Saxon Pilgrim. He said: “While stands the Colosseum, Rome shall stand; when falls the Colosseum, Rome shall fall. And when Rome falls—the world.”
“The Pantheon” was one of the places we were delighted with. This dated from before Christ’s time, and is now in a wonderful state of preservation. It was originally dedicated by Agrippa to “All the gods.” It was consecrated as a church in the year 610 A.D. by Pope Boniface IV., under the name of St. Maria. The portico consists of sixteen granite corinthian columns nearly forty feet high, eight in the front and the others in three colonnades. Inside, we were struck with its beauty, especially by the arrangement for light which comes from a vast dome over our heads. We walked reverently as we knew we were walking on the very same pavement as Augustus and Agrippa, and others whose dust has long centuries ago, gone to its mother earth. Here rest the remains of one of the p. 41world’s greatest painters—Raphael. He was buried in 1620. In recent years a doubt was raised as to whether he really was buried here, and a search was allowed and made in 1833, it was then ascertained beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was buried here, as his remains were intact. On leaving the Pantheon, and before crossing the Tiber, we were reminded of the poet’s words referring to this church: “Simple, erect, austere, sublime—Shrine of all saints and temple of all gods from Jove to Jesus—Spared and blest by time, looking tranquilly while falls or nods arch, empire, each thing round thee, and man plods his way through thorns and ashes—glorious dome! shalt thou not last? Times’ scythe and tyrant’s rods shiver upon thee—Sanctuary and home of art and piety—Pantheon! Pride of Rome.”
After crossing the Tiber on one of its many wonderful bridges, adorned on each side by statues in stone of the celebrities of all ages, we found that just opposite this bridge is what is called the Castle of St. Angelo. An immense pile, circular in form, on its summit a large monument, and in front a clock of very large dimensions. It was erected by the Emperor Adrian, and intended to be for his own tomb and those of succeeding kings or emperors. We did not go inside, but we p. 42learned it was fitted and filled with the finest works of art, specially that in marble finished by the sculptor’s chisel. From here we started to drive to our hotel, for we were satiated with the wonderful sights of Rome. We passed the Palace of Justice, a modern building, indeed, only just having the finishing touches put upon it. It is of granite, the size is immense and the appearance noble. As we passed, churches and theatres seemed to be numerous. Gay and grave, sad and happy, new and old. There “Beeston Humber Motor Cycle” advertised. There the ruins of a building that had stood for a thousand years.
The Column of Trajan calls for a passing note. It is a fine specimen of the Doric order, and very fortunately it is in a good state of preservation. On three sides of the pedestal there are bas-reliefs, on the fourth side is an inscription to Trajan’s tomb. On the column are over 20 very fine carvings, representing the various wars in which he had taken part. On the top is a fine statue of the Apostle St. Peter. As we stood and looked upon this ancient monument and thought of the fact that it had stood there for well nigh on 2,000 years, we re-called the words of a poet who represents fairly the condition of things in Trajan’s day.
“Through haughty Rome’s imperial street
The mighty Trajan rode,
And myrrh and balm and spices sweet
In silver censers glowed;
In car of state erect he stood,
And round him rushing like a flood
The people poured with shout and song,
And every eye through all that throng
Turned to him with delight.
For he had triumphed far and wide,
Had sated Rome’s high-soaring pride,
And, laying captive nations low,
Now dragged the pale and trembling foe
Bent down in sore affright.
And still before him spread afar
New pathways for his conquering car,
More crowns of world-wide fame to win
’Mid shouts of warriors battle din:
One triumph being o’er he spurned
And still his fevered spirit burned
New realms, new worlds to gain.
And still his legions on he led,
Legions that ne’er from foe had fled,
The glory of his reign.”
We left the mighty column standing in its solitary grandeur, a memorial of man’s achievement, while yet other things around us testified to the instability of all earthly p. 44things. “Change and decay in all around I see.”
We reached our hotel tired and hungry. We, however, soon found the value of a good wash, then a good table-de-hote meal, and then to write up our diaries and think of the day’s experiences, then to go to rest. After a good night’s sleep we rose refreshed. Had a good wash, then breakfast. After letters, postcards, etc., we prepared for further investigations of the great city. We went out, but no sooner did we appear in the great square facing our hotel, when, I should think, at least a dozen cabmen turned their horses heads towards us, asking for our patronage. We could only hire one, so we had choice and it fell upon a decent looking man—the very picture of a son of Italy—with a very good looking horse. This time we drove to the mound upon which stands the noble monument to General Garibaldi, the statue of one of Italy’s noblest heroes and patriots. Garibaldi was born at Nice in 1807. His family were quite obscure, and without name or fame. His father had a small coasting vessel, and to this, probably, is due something of the adventurous spirit of his son. When he had attained his manhood, he went to Genoa and then to Rome. p. 45Here he joined a band called “Young Italy,” and as a member of this band he was indicted for treason and sentenced to death.
By some means he escaped this sentence and fled to Marseilles in France. From here to South America, and here he joined the army and fought against Brazil. He became a most adventurous and daring leader. In 1848 he returned to Italy with a view to give himself to the army of Italy. They, however, did not receive him with the cordiality he deserved. He, however, raised an army of 1,500 brave men, like-minded with himself, and went against the Austrians, who were threatening Italy severely and dangerously. He showed skill and bravery on the field of battle, and so attracted the notice of Victor Immanuel, who with his own hand fastened on the hero’s breast the gold medal for military bravery. He became the idol of the nation of Italy, as General Gordon might be called the hero of the Soudan. So Garibaldi may be called the hero of Italy, and as in Gordon’s case, riches, titles, conventional distinctions were as nothing, so in the case of this illustrious soldier and hero. He had the honour of a seat in the Parliament of Italy in 1875. The latter part of his life was spent in retirement, and he died suddenly in the year 1882. And here to his memory is erected, in the very heart of the Eternal City, a splendid p. 46monument. His life-sized figure in bronze on a fine charger, while around the monument are bas-reliefs of great interest. From this high elevation we had a good view of the city and of the river Tiber, which is about equal to our river Trent for width, it is spanned in several places by bridges. Here we could look down the Appian Way. It would not be difficult, standing here, to imagine just away at yonder port, some ten or twelve miles away, a shipwrecked crew has landed its cargo of grain; also some soldiers with three prisoners, amongst them is Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles. He is chained to a soldier; they come along the Appian Way, where we are just looking—a road that had often rung with the plaudits to the victors in many a hard fought fight. A strange sight to see this poor man, without money, friends, or influence. Yet he was the true conqueror of Rome. He said truly “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.” Cor., chapter I, verse 27. St. Paul says again: “And so we went towards Rome, and from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and the three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and p. 47took courage.” Acts, chapter 28, verses 14 & 15. Paul is allowed to speak for himself, having appealed to Cæsar. “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came to him, preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Up this Way, it is likely, Titus brought up the spoils he had taken in his overthrow of the City of Jerusalem. The spoils consisted of the “Ark of the Covenant,” overlaid round about with gold, the golden pot that had manna, “and Aaron’s rod that budded.” Heb., chapter 9, verse 4. From this vantage ground we could see Rome, regal Rome, republican Rome, and in the distance St. Peter’s and the Vatican, and many hundreds of other churches and prominent buildings which hold the records of ecclesiastical Rome.
We visited, of course, the grand church or cathedral of St. Peter. This is the one thing we must see. This is the goal of millions of pious pilgrims from all lands, and at all seasons. I noticed in our illustrated papers of about November, 1908, the Pope had been celebrating his fifty years of priesthood, there was a great procession of thirty-six Cardinals, four hundred Bishops, fifty thousand spectators, and St. Peter’s offerings were asked for by His Holiness for chalices for the poorer p. 48churches. The Duchess of Norfolk presented £500 as a response. The Pope was carried shoulder high in the Sedia Gestoria, over the heads of the vast masses, and as he was borne aloft, he bestowed his blessings on all sides, and amongst all classes of people. Passing over or through the vast throng he was placed on his golden throne, whence he grants his indulgences and extends to his flock sympathy and prayers.
When we got within sight of the noble building we were constrained to stand still and look and let our thoughts and feelings have full play, for just then they were of a very mixed character, as we thought of Rome and its history, of this building and its surroundings, and what it meant. At the entrance we could see right through the large Piazza or Square, in the centre of which is an obelisk, I think Egyptian in character. On either side are fountains throwing their sparkling waters from almost innumerable jets. Then there are colonnades also, and 284 columns, each column is about 40-feet high, and on the column a statue about 16-feet high, these give an idea of the vastness of the building beyond. The obelisk in St. Peter’s Square weighs 3,270 tons—it is said that the ship that brought it from Egypt was so large that the Emperor Claudius had it sunk at the p. 49mouth of the Tiber to serve as part of the foundations for the outward wall of the Port of Ostia, in the year 39 A.D.
It was left until the year 1566 before orders were given by Pope Sextus to have it placed in this square. At the top of this great obelisk is a cross which is said to be a part of the real cross on which our Lord and Saviour was crucified. Passing this outward display of grandeur in the shape of statuary, columns and colonnades, we reached the steps leading up to the vestibule, these are massive marble steps, with colossal statues of St. Peter and St. Paul at the foot. It is said that this is the largest and the most costly church in the world. It was built on the site of the Emperor Nero’s circus, which was the scene of the most terrible martyrdoms, and it is also said to be the place where St. Peter was buried after his crucifixion. About the year 106 A.D., history tells us there was a monument erected here to mark the site of St. Peter’s tomb. Earlier a basilica was founded on this spot, which stood for over one thousand years, then showing signs of decay (and one cannot wonder at it). Nicholas V., in 1447, decided to erect one larger and better in its place.
Rome continued: St. Peter’s building: St. Peter’s Statue: St. Peter’s resting place: The vast Columns, Pictures, Fonts, Confessionals, etc.: The Vatican: The Professional Letter Writer: The Arch of Titus: Statue of Nero, etc.
This decision, however, he never carried out, but in the year 1506, Julian II. laid the foundation of this vast church we are now about to enter. The first architect died while the work was in its early stages. Then Raphael, with two other architects, were appointed, and these also died during the building. Michael Angelo, who was then between seventy and eighty years of age, was selected to superintend the work. He is credited with the designing of that marvellous dome and cross, but did not live to see it completed. Indeed, not less than fifteen architects succeeded one another during the time of its building, and twenty-eight Popes reigned before it was completed (a time of 176 years). Its actual completion was not until 1784, a term of 278 years.
Carlo Fountana estimates the cost at p. 51£11,000,000. He states that it required 400,000 lbs. of bronze to form the statue of St. Peter inside the cathedral. The whole area is 240,000 square feet; when this is stated one may form some faint idea of the magnitude of the building. There are within and without the building columns in marble to the number of 756; 245 are inside. There are 46 altars and 121 lamps, most of them are kept burning night and day. One hundred and thirty-two Popes have been buried here, if you count as they do from St. Peter on to the last Pope who passed away. It is stated that the cost of keeping the place in repair is over £6,000 per year. Our first view of the Nave as we entered, created such a feeling of awe and reverence, that like the Queen of Sheba, of whom it is said, “when she saw the glory of Solomon there was no more spirit in her.” “And behold the half was not told me.” I. Kings, chapter 10, verses 5 and 7. I gazed with awe and admiration at one time on the marvellous Niagara Falls, and the sight seemed to bring me into the very presence of the great Creator, God. And now, to gaze upon works of such a colossal magnitude and of such a costly character, made us feel subdued and reverent. I may safely assume, I think, that every one will not see it just as we saw it; I mean they p. 52will interpret its meaning differently. We were some time before we came to realize the fact that it was of such extraordinary proportions. Looking at the cherubs which support the fonts that contain holy water, at first you think they are models of children, but when you come beside them you find they are much larger than ordinary grown-up people. On the floor we noticed there are stars or marks telling the length of the building as compared with other large cathedrals. St. Paul’s in London, is here given as 516-feet long, the Cathedral in Milan as 440-feet, the Cathedral in Florence is given as 495-feet, St. Peter’s, at Bologna, 440-feet, and St. Sophia, at Constantinople, 364-feet, while this St. Peter’s is 619-feet in length. On your right hand passing up the nave is the gigantic statue of St. Peter in bronze, which, with the foot held out slightly, I suppose millions of visitors from all nations and peoples and tongues have stooped to kiss the large toe, which, in consequence, is worn seriously out of shape. Some have gone so far as to say that this is the statue of Jupiter, only it has been slightly altered to suit its present purpose. I think it is Dean Swift who said (in a joke) “that the difference between the ancient and modern Rome was, that the one was the worshipper of Jupiter, and the other the worshipper of p. 53Jew Peter.” As we stood beside this image in bronze and looked to the right—the confessional to the left—the confessional. Visitors in kneeling posture before an image of the Virgin, another before a picture. Another walks up to the font and crosses his forehead with holy water, we felt that we could not but pity these poor deluded souls in bondage to a priestly intolerance, when they might have had the real liberty of the children of God.
Above this great statue of St. Peter, sitting in a chair of marble, in the act of blessing the people, is a portrait in mosaic of Pope Pius IX., and an inscription which states that he is the only Pope whose years of pontificate are more than were those of St. Peter. In the niches around the pillars which support the cupola are some very fine specimens of statuary, and above these are several small galleries which contain the Holy Relics, these are shown to the public on the great festive days. There are sixteen windows round the cupola, and over these are sixteen richly gilded pillars, between each of these are beautiful mosaics representing Popes and Bishops buried in the church, also of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, and the Apostles. Over the High Altar under the cupola, where the Pope alone has the right to say Mass, rises a very costly canopy of p. 54bronze, supported by four spiral columns of richly gilded bronze about 60-feet high, including the cross. The Altar is placed in such a position that the Pope saying Mass, faces the people. Under the Altar is St. Peter’s tomb; a double flight of steps of Greek marble lead down to it, and at the bottom is a statue of one of the Popes kneeling; at the sides are four large columns of alabaster, and above these are two pillars of agate with the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul. The place in which St. Peter’s ashes rest, and that forms part of the oratory, is covered with the most costly marble. When Peter said “silver and gold have I none,” Acts. chapter 3, verse 6, he could not have had the least idea of the costliness of his resting place in Rome.
All things seem to be provided for the purpose of a worship meant to captivate the senses by its external splendour and beauty, until the very object of religion, the cultivation of the Christian virtues, which are meekness and humility, are forgotten in the magnificence of a priesthood of princes, combining their splendour and luxuries with their duties. On all sides we see monuments to Popes and Bishops; such as one to Pope Innocent XII., with fine bas-reliefs in marble. The Pope Gregory’s monument which has some fine sculpture on it in marble. Another wing of p. 55this huge building designed by Michael Angelo contains an altar enriched with alabaster, amethyst, and other precious stones. Over the altar is an image of the Madonna that is greatly venerated, as it is supposed to have been brought here from one of the early churches. Altars, crosses, and confessionals confront you wherever you go in this great cathedral; also, pictures adorn the walls where there is no sculpture. St. Peter raising Tabitha from the dead. See Acts, chapter 9, verse 40. “But Peter put them all forth and kneeling down prayed; and turning to the body, said, ‘Tabitha, arise,’ and she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.”
Two porphry steps lead to the Tribune, about fifty yards long, where there is another altar, and over it four colossal bronze statues; on the right, the tomb of Urban VIII., on the left, that of Paul III. In one of the wings of this building there are eleven confessionals for strangers, and inscriptions indicating the nationality or language. On all sides we saw these relics of popery until we were sick of it. We could not visit the grottos, as time did not permit, we were very desirous of making a visit to the Vatican, but we could not for the same reason. We gathered from information gained in various ways, that the Vatican or Pope’s Palace is p. 56the largest palace in the world. The Pope is allowed from Italy about £130,000 per annum, and the Peter’s pence, from many lands, amounts to as much as £20,000 per annum. The Vatican contains 11,000 rooms, there are also 22 court yards. The ground it covers is the size of a town. The museums, the picture galleries, the statues in marble, are worth many millions of pounds. It is enriched with bronzes, marble columns, and the best things that can be had from all lands. Paintings of the very richest and highest class from all the old masters. Massive gold and silver goblets, the gifts of kings and of princes. Ancient relics from Assyria and from Egypt. Some Egyptian mummies in sarcophagi with hieroglyphics, indicating the locality from whence they came. In the library are 26,000 manuscripts, about 19,000 are in Latin, 4,000 in Greek, and about 2,000 in the Eastern and Oriental languages, besides about 50,000 printed volumes. In one of the halls there is a bible of the fifth century, which is a great rarity. The gifts from kings, emperors, princes, presidents of almost all lands, which have been sent to the Pope are too many to name or specify. We left St. Peter’s, pleased with some things, grieved with others. The greatness of Rome’s intellectual power; her art in sculpture and painting; proofs of this p. 57we saw on all hands. She had, at one time, over 400 temples, most of them with floors of marble, great domes with wonderful frescoes, gorgeous beyond anything we could conceive if we had not seen it. Walls of marble, porphyry, jasper, precious stones, stones polished till they shine like a mirror. Pictures, priceless and innumerable. All this, side by side with the degradation of the people, as seen in their daily visit to the confessional; or to the holy water; or to seek a mass from the priest for some friend in sickness; or a more important one for the soul of some brother, sister, or friend in the agony of purgatory, and who must remain there until certain masses are said. All this means the lowering of the poor to the enriching of the rich. Rome, I say, is to be pitied in this thing, under the heel of the Pope. Her wealth is lavished on churches, priests, cardinals, etc., but her poor abound on all hands. At the very church door you have the extremes of lavish wealth in church decoration, and extreme poverty in many worshippers. We had a view of the Vatican from without; it seems one vast area of palaces, churches, temples, galleries, colonnades, etc. I suppose we have some fine palaces in England; there are some, I believe, in France, Germany, in Egypt; but nowhere in the world is there a palace so large p. 58and costly as the Pope’s Palace in Rome. How unlike his divine Lord, “who had not where to lay His Head,” or his predecessor (allowing the expression) who said, “silver and gold have I none.” Mark Twain says of the place: “It is a perfect wilderness of statues, paintings, and curiosities of every description and every age. The old masters fairly swarm there. I shall remember the Transfiguration, by Raphael, because it was in a room by itself, and partly because it is acknowledged by all to be the first oil painting in the world. It is fine in tone and feeling, it is a beauty, it is fascinating. Acres and acres of walls and ceilings fairly papered with them. There is one thing I am certain of, with all the Michael Angelo’s, the Raphael’s, the Guido’s, and the old masters, the sublime history of Rome remains unpainted! They painted Virgins enough, Popes enough, and saintly scarecrows enough to people Paradise almost.”
Leaving the great St. Peter’s and the Vatican to return to our hotel for dinner, we noticed the mixed crowds jostling one another in the streets. The men seemed to be broad shouldered, and their rugged bronze faces and dark piercing eyes give you an idea that they look upon you with curiosity. Men dressed in home-spun blue cloth as a rule. The p. 59women dress in colours, no unusual thing to see them apparently enjoying a feed of raw onions and salad with a good square piece of black bread. Here we passed a professional letter writer, sitting in the open-air in the street with a table before him on which are pens, ink and paper. Here he is ready to read or write letters for the unlearned, and they are by no means few in the city of Rome. Many a declaration of passionate love must have been whispered into the ear of this old Italian, to be transmitted to some village maiden on the mountain heights, or in some sequestered village. A rustic approaches the old scribe as we watch him, he has received an epistle from some Italian beauty far away. As he waits his turn he looks over the precious documents with wandering eyes. Oh! if only he could himself spell out its sacred contents. His cheeks are flushed, his heart throbs as he hands the paper to the scribe; and, as the old man reads, the smile plays upon his face, his dark eyes brighten with delight. Yes! she is true to the boy who is far away, what a joy to know their hearts beat in unison and in passionate love. What a strange task! that of the Italian scribe. Sometimes his task is to read letters that tell of separations by death; the scalding tear, the heart throbs, tell of grief and anguish, a life’s hope crushed p. 60out. A dear mother, sister or lover passed away. All these experiences go through the old scribe’s hands daily. Young Italy, however, is awaking to her need as a nation, for education and for the training of the young.
Our hotel is our home of rest, and we certainly enjoyed it after hours of travel and inspection. Sights seen that we had never dreamed of. Pictures, sculpture, arch, column, colonnades, so profuse and so attractive that we forgot we were tired until we turned away for a break and a rest.
Again, we are on the tram, and down one of the principal boulevards, past shops, bazaars, cafes, hotels and churches, to the Pont du Angelo, over the Tiber. This is a lovely piece of workmanship, built of solid masonry, and on the pont, or bridge, there are six statues on each side on pedestals, representing the various architects, sculptors and painters of ancient Rome, and as we crossed the bridge, right in front of us we saw the castle of St. Angelo, erected by one of the Emperors for his own tomb, and for the tombs of his successors. As most of the important buildings in Rome, it is lavishly decorated with marble sculpture, more fitted for a palace than for a mausoleum. In the tenth century it was turned into a fortress and fell into the hands of the p. 61barons, who, during a long time, made use of it against the city itself. It is said that Clement VII. took refuge in it in the year 1527. To-day it is a beautiful temple. The floor is very largely composed of Italian marble; on the staircase, on our right on entering, is a fine statue of Michael the arch-angel, in a niche. In another room are some fine paintings by Pierin; another room still retains some of the implements of torture of the Inquisition. On the top stands the bronze statue of the arch-angel Michael, placed there in 1770; it is said it is placed there in memory of a vision of St. Gregory the Great. According to tradition, when Rome was severely visited by a pestilence, and while the Pope was going in procession to St. Peter’s, to obtain the cessation of the scourge, he saw, on arriving at this bridge, an angel on the top of the mausoleum, in the act of replacing his sword in its sheath, as a sign that the visitation of the scourge was at an end. On account of this the castle was named “The Castle of the Holy Angel.” “The Arch of Titus” is another fine specimen of the builders’ art. Erected to him by the people in homage of his great victory in Palestine over the Hebrews, and of the destruction of the Holy City of Jerusalem, in the year 79 A.D., and consecrated to his memory by his successor in the year 81 A.D. p. 62It has somewhat suffered by the ages that have passed over it; still, it is marvellous that it has so long withstood the ravages of the iron tooth of time. There is a fine frieze in the inside and some fine bas-reliefs. One, that of the Hebrew prisoners, and Titus’ triumphal march to Rome. In Macaulay’s we find the following verses, evidently written on the subject of Titus’ victory:
“Valerius struck at Titus and lopped off half his crest,
But Titus stabbed Valerius, a span deep in his breast.
Like a mast snapped by the tempest, Valerius reeled and fell.
Ah! woe is me for the good house that loves the people well!
Then shouted loud the Latins, and with one rush they bore
The struggling Romans backward, three lances length or more:
And up they took proud Tarquin, and laid him on the shield,
And four strong yeomen bore him, still senseless from the field.
But fiercer grew the fighting around Valerius dead,
For Titus dragged him by the foot, and Anlus by the head.
p. 63Twice tenfold round the body the roar of battle rose
Like the roar of a burning forest, when a strong north wind blows.
Now backward and now forward, rocked furiously the fray,
Till none could see Valerius, and none knew where he lay.
For shivered arms and ensigns were heaped there in a mound,
And corpses stiff, and dying men, that writhed upon the ground,
And wounded horses kicking, and snorting purple foam,
Right well did such a couch befit a Consular of Rome.”
There are also, in this palace, the seven-branched candlesticks, and many other objects taken from the Temple of the Holy City.
Next we saw the triumphal arch of Constantine (the first Christian Emperor of Rome), this seems to be the best preserved of all the arches we saw, although now it has been standing since 311 A.D. We learned it was erected by the people of Rome in honour of the great victory achieved over Maxentius at Ponte Mollo. The central arcade is about thirty-feet high, the side ones are about twenty-feet. There are four beautiful columns p. 64of Corinthian marble which support the pillars upon which stand some fine statuary representing some of the “Dacian prisoners,” “Trajan’s entry into Rome after his victory in the east,” “The rest on the Appian Way,” “Trajan bringing help and succour to the poor children,” “Trajan speaking to his soldiers.” Under these are bas-reliefs which represent hunts and sacrifices. On the opposite side of the street we noticed a large pedestal which we were told held, in ancient times, a colossal statue of Nero, executed in bronze. After his death it was thrown down and replaced by another called “The god of the sun.” This, however, has been allowed to fall into decay; the iron tooth of time has done its work, and only the pedestal remains.
The Navona Square or Piazza calls for a remark or two, it is the next largest to St. Peter’s. There are three fine fountains in the square, These seem to be of a modern design and workmanship. One represents Neptune coping with a sea monster, surrounded by sea horses. In the basin rises a kind of rock; on the four sides of which are representations of “The Danube,” for Europe; “The Ganges,” for Asia; “The Nile,” for Africa; and the “Rio de la Plata,” for America. The rock is surmounted by a very neatly-cut obelisk. The first and largest fountain is about 100-feet p. 65high, and when in play has a very beautiful effect. The Church of St. Mary is but a plain looking building from the outside. We approached with little interest, but when we got inside we found it to be a perfect museum of painting and sculpture; also, there are many tombs of celebrated cardinals. The guide showed us a picture said to be the work of St. Luke, and in all seriousness, told us it was supposed to have the power to work miracles still. We did not stay to ask whether that power was ever evoked. There is a chapel inside, the architecture of which was planned by Raphael. The design of big mosaics on the vault of the dome is simply marvellous. There is a representation of the heavenly bodies in their fullest splendour; also a fine statue of Jonah by Raphael. There is attached to this church a monastery, in which reside the monks of the Order of St. Augustine. It is said to have been the residence of the famous Martin Luther, during his visit to Rome. He entered the city through the Porto del Popolo, and knelt down as soon as he had passed the gate, crying most sincerely, “I salute thee, Oh! holy Rome!—Rome, venerable through the blood and the tombs of the martyrs.” And then he went straightway to the convent, and there he celebrated mass. And after the experiences he went p. 66through during his stay in the city, what he had seen, and what he had heard—he said, on passing again through the same gate out, with bitterness and grief, “Adieu, Oh! City, where everything is permitted, but to be a good man.” Every place we visited brought some reminders of the sad fall of the papacy from real Christianity.
To the Berbine picture gallery, was a visit which gave us much pleasure, as we saw pictures from the ablest of artists. The paintings by Michael Angelo and Raphael, Francesco and Tiziano. “Adam and Eve driven from Paradise,” by Guido Reni; “Christ and the Doctors of the Church,” by Dürer; “The Holy Family,” by Andrea; “The Annunciation,” by Bronzine; and many others that we considered marvels of the artists’ brush. There is also within this gallery a very large room as a library in which, we learned, there are over 30,000 books in print, and over 8,000 in manuscript, by Dante, Galileo, Lasso and others. The wonders of these places filled us with such admiration, we could stay and look until quite weary, so we take tram to hotel again for rest.
The Church of the Trinity: St. Maria: Church of Onesemus: The Grand Corso: The British and Foreign Bible Society: Outside view of the Quirinal: Nero’s House: Leaving Rome: Scene at a wayside station: Arrival at Florence: Visit to the Cathedral.
The wonderful Church called the Church of the Trinity, up a very broad staircase of some 330 steps; then a very fine piazza or square, and an obelisk, at the top of which they say is a piece of the cross on which St. Peter suffered martyrdom. In this square we found artists’ models waiting to be engaged. Some of them very pretty Italian peasant girls fresh from mountain homes, in costumes quaint and queer; old men with white beards and capacious cloaks; shepherd boys from the Campagna; bag-pipers from Abruzzi; also mendicants of more than one nationality; also vendors of wares of various kinds, principally small brooches, photo frames and pins, with nic-nacs that were considered to be attractive. A scene of very great interest to the Britisher. We left here to have a stroll in the streets, to watch with p. 68interest the customs and habits of the people. Hotels almost without number; beer-houses, only a few; cafes, many; confectioners, many; chemists and doctors, fairly numerous; dentists, several at any rate; restaurants, many, and some on a very large scale; telephone call offices; lavatories; specialities, as jewellers who sell Roman pearls, mosaics, religious ornaments, bronzes, marble, etc.; porters standing in various places to give you a hand with a parcel; omnibuses running to the station from all parts of the city; carriages for hire at about eightpence per mile, English money. So we passed an hour in watching the ever changing street scenes, until tired, then to our hotel and to rest once more. Returning to our further inspection of churches, museums, and places of interest, we went to see the old St. Maria. This is a very interesting place, and is said to be built upon the site of what was Paul’s “own hired house in which he dwelt for two whole years,” see Acts, ch. 28, v. 30. It is said that on this spot, Onesimus, the runaway slave, was converted, and that he received the gifts sent by the Philippians and the Colossians, by Epaphroditus, which he so thankfully acknowledges. Philippians., chapter 4, verse 18. “I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an p. 69odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.” Three rooms in the basement of the church are shown as the very rooms in which St. Paul and St. Luke taught and wrote. Col., chapter 4, verse 14.
Leaving this place we enter the Corso, the principal street of the city. To our surprise and delight we saw a depot of the British and Foreign Bible Society; the window full of Italian copies of the scriptures spread open, some showing clearly one passage, and some another; so that he who runs can read. We found we could buy the New Testament for threepence in English money. A separate gospel for less than one penny. It is not many years since when this would not have been allowed in Rome or in Italy. Before the Pope’s power was broken, I mean his temporal power, he did not allow a circulation of the Bible, nor did he allow a public assembly of heretics (Christians) within the city. Now, thank God, there are numerous Protestant Churches in the city. The Wesleyans have one or more churches. The Americans, the Lutheran, the Greek, the English church and others are now allowed the privileges not long since denied to them. We had the pleasure of an outside view of the Quirinal, the present residence of the King of Italy in Rome. It was at one time the residence of p. 70the Pope. It is an old building, 1574 is the date. It is said the Popes prepared this residence because the air was so fresh, and the neighbourhood so healthy. While the King is in Rome the Quirinal palace is not open to visitors. The gardens are on an extensive scale. Within the palace are sculpture, museums, library, paintings by Raphael, Michael Angelo and Luigi Serra. Some of the subjects are simply masterpieces. We went from the Quirinal to the Baths of Titus, erected by the Emperor of that name, it is said upon the same place where once stood the house of Nero. The excavators in 1811 laid bare many interesting facts concerning the times of Titus, about the year 80 A.D. Only a semicircle can be seen showing the foundations, yet it seems to be clear that these are the only remains of the baths referred to. We left here feeling we were satiated with sight seeing, and our time for leaving Rome was near at hand, so we determined upon a few purchases. Then to our hotel to reflect, to think, to recall, if possible, to memory what we had seen and heard. To fill up our diary, to settle our hotel accounts, and to get ready to leave the “Eternal City.” We reviewed in our mind at leisure, where we had been, and what we had seen in Rome. And we read up history which tells us in the p. 71palmy days of Rome, there would be within the city over 400 temples, and over 17,000 palaces, over 13,000 fountains, more than 30 theatres, 8 amphitheatres, 11 baths, some of which would accommodate some 1,500 bathers at once, 80 gilt statues, and over 3,700 bronze statues, 82 statues of figures on horseback, so we think of Rome in her imperial pride, when luxury lay on the lap of so many of her nobles. Since then she has been humbled to the dust. Many of these costly buildings and statuary are in ruins, but there is enough left to show her once illustrious position.
We had certainly made the best of the time at our disposal, so we leave thee, Oh! Rome! the great, the illustrious. “It may be for years, or it may be for ever.” We said good-bye, and soon we were en route for Florence. The scenery for some distance is not particularly attractive. The usual Italian villages, in some cases just a cottage or two, the tenants of which are out with their ox and plough, or a pair of donkeys and a rickety old cart, or the man is draining his farm. We saw about eight or ten women at a large stone trough by the side of a highway washing. It seems this is their custom, for the women of several families to have a joint washday, and go to the nearest clean flowing water.
p. 72As we proceeded northward, we noticed the country became more undulating and richer in fruits and flowers. The season for the grapes being ripe was just on, and we noticed as we journeyed, on all sides, grape vines; there seemed to be miles of them, and still, as we hurried along, more vineyards. Oxen in wagons in the rows of vines, were being loaded with the luscious fruit. Six white oxen in each wagon mostly. The husband, wife and children, all seemed to be engaged in plucking and loading the fruit. We passed scores of miles of vineyards of this sort. We stopped at a station called Cartona. I saw a typical Italian girl with a grape stall on the platform. I alighted and selected two large bunches of beautiful ripe grapes, and as I could not ask the price, not speaking Italian, I held out my hand with a number of coins of various value for her to take the cost of the grapes. She selected twenty centimes, that is about twopence in English money; so very cheap are grapes. The country is a lovely country and rich beyond compare. Our train, we could perceive at times, was climbing, so slow was the speed, but as we got higher the scene became more lovely; the Italian lakes in the distance; the towns with the usual Duomo or Church always noticeable.
p. 73At every road crossing we noticed an Italian woman, usually aged, sat at the gate crossing, with horn in hand ready to give warning of an approaching train. About four o’clock in the afternoon we came in sight of Florence. The first view was entrancing. The city lies in a hollow, the surrounding hillsides are, here and there, dotted over with castles and mansions, each in their own lovely and extensive grounds. They were mostly of white marble. The river Arno runs through the city. Florence is essentially a city of flowers, as its name indicates. All around for miles castles, mansions, villas, gardens and shady nooks fill the soul with a consciousness that Nature here has bestowed her gifts of beauty in no stinted degree. Florence has been called, and I think very aptly, the Athens of Italy. This city possesses the memories of some of the world’s greatest men, “the priceless heirlooms of a glorious past.” Here the peerless bard, “Dante” sang his deathless song and made his lovely Beatrice immortal. Was it not from these very hills and fields on which we were gazing, that Galileo every night scanned the heavens to compel the distant orbs to reveal their secrets?
Here we see her peerless domes and towers rise in all their stately grandeur beneath a lovely Italian sky. We are now at the station. Alighting, we soon found the ’bus p. 74for “Hotel Minerva” (this we had selected before hand) so were soon once more settled for a little while. Our hotel was very comfortable, and we found mine host most gracious, and evidently most desirous to satisfy us, and so keep our patronage as long as possible. The rooms were lofty and furnished with taste, dinner served in good style, which included everything we could wish for. A look round the city for a little while, was our first thought, so out we went into the great open square, facing which is the Duomo or Cathedral Maria del Fiore, so called from the lily which figures in the arms of Florence. This vast pile of buildings was begun in the year 1298, and finished in the year 1462. It is stated it was built on the foundations of an earlier church. It is a grand example of the Gothic art. The length of the building is 185 yards, and its width, 114 yards. The dome is 300 feet high, and with the lantern 352 feet. On the 8th of September, 1298, a representative of Pope Boniface VIII. blessed the foundations of this new grand temple in the presence of the “Gonfaloniere Borgo,” many bishops, “the chapter,” all the Florentine clergy, the captains of the arts, and the magnificent and sublime “Signori of the Republic,” as they were called. The words with which the community gave charge of this sumptuous p. 75building were, literally translated, “to make it so magnificent and so sublime that it would be impossible that it should be surpassed.” And it seemed to us that for size and strength and adornments, few can compare with it. Many vicissitudes occurred during the building—wars, deaths of architects, etc.—till in the year 1492 it was something like a completed building. In April, 1860, King Victor Emmanuel laid the foundation of a new facade, which was to replace one taken away, as the design was considered unsuitable. Above the south door is a Madonna between two angels. Inside we were struck with its massiveness, more than with its decorations. On the right there is a fine equestrian statue of John Hawkswood, of date 1384, an English soldier of fortune, who had served the Republic with unswerving fidelity. Over the portico is a fine picture of the Virgin Mary in mosaic. On the right side are some fine marble figures of great men of ancient dates. In the east nave are fine statues of St. John and St. Peter; a fine stained-glass window with most attractive and telling designs. Inside the great dome is a very peculiar, very grotesque frieze, by a great painter named Vasari, depicting the flames of hell and awful monsters around them. Also the heaven of delight and bliss.
p. 76Near the Cathedral is the wonderful Campagna or tower, which visitors through centuries have visited and admired. A distinguished visitor once said, “The Florentines should enclose this tower in a glass case, and only let it be on exhibition during the great festivals.” It is solid and strong, though it rises to the height of 292 feet. It has four stories, the lower ones are richly fixed with variegated marble, and covered almost with statues of illustrious men. A view of this tower from a distance is very fine. We had seen nothing like it before in all our travels on the continent.
Florence: Michael Angelo’s House: Baptistry of St. John: The Uffizi Gallery: The Tribune: A drive to the suburbs: Dante’s House: Dante’s Poems: The Gardens: Mrs. Browning’s description of Vallambrosa: Michael Angelo’s work: Galileo, his trial, etc.
As we had little time for visiting other places of interest, the day being now far advanced, we determined to give our minds and bodies a rest. So we entered a cafe for refreshment, we found them exceedingly clean and most obliging; we took what refreshment we needed, then went for a stroll on the streets to see the shops, and we found the city has some fine streets and shops of almost every kind. The city has a population of about 200,000. We were reminded frequently of some of the worthies of the city in sculpture or in painting. Michael Angelo, though not born in Florence, spent a great deal of his life here, and here some of his finest works were completed, and in Florence he died and was buried. At the corner of the Via Buonarotti stands the house in which he lived. It is now (like the house p. 78of the immortal Shakespeare) a museum given to the city.
“Farewell,” said Michael Angelo, on setting out for where he was to undertake the finishing of the great St. Peter’s, in Rome. “Farewell, I go to try to make thy sister, but I cannot hope to make thy equal.”
About the old Baptistry of St. John, to which, we are told, all the children of the city are taken to be christened, there are two bronze gates at which a famous workman was employed forty years. Michael Angelo declared “these gates were worthy to be the gates of Paradise.”
The creation of man.
Expulsion of our first parents from the Garden of Eden.
Noah after the deluge.
Abraham on Mount Moriah.
Esau selling his birthright.
Joseph and his brethren, and the law given on Sinai.
The walls of Jericho.
The battle with the Ammonites.
Queen of Sheba in Solomon’s palace.
I believe there is a cast of these gates exhibited at the South Kensington Museum.
The Uffizi Gallery or museum or both, where I should think may be found the most p. 79wonderful collection of art to be found in the world. Even in Rome we had seen nothing to equal it. It contains over 13,000 paintings. Cameos and original designs without number. There are long corridors where statues of celebrated Tuscans fill the niches. There is sculptured marble, or painted canvas, of all imaginable beings in heaven or on earth. Emperors and kings, saintly Madonnas, angels, gods and goddesses, muses and nymphs; all may be found in this marvellous collection. And on the ceiling are frescoes setting forth the annals of Florence. In one of the halls stands a painting of Niobe with her sons and daughters clinging around her, victims of the cruel vengeance of Diana and Apollo. In another room are some angels surrounding a Madonna, making a lovely picture. There is a gallery in which are paintings of the painters of all nations, painted by themselves. Vandyck, with his clear blue eye, long hair and fair countenance; Raphael, looking sad and gentle and very sallow; Michael Angelo, simple yet sublime, he is in his dressing gown. We were simply surrounded and bewildered by the fascinating sights on every hand. There are cabinets also, containing rare gems, cameos and bronzes of all sizes and shapes. The Tribune also demands notice, as it contains vast masses of valuable treasures. p. 80One room is paved with the most costly marble. There are five masterpieces of antiquity. In the centre stands the Venus de Medicis, serene, pure, delicate, and perfectly lovely; another, the Dancing Fawn; another, “Apollino,” “The Wrestlers,” and the “Grinder.” There is also here, one of the finest and best of Raphael’s paintings, “The Glorious Madonna.” Two others by Titian. We soon became exhausted and weary, so we left the entrancing scenes for another day. To our hotel was but the work of ten minutes; safely housed. Table-de-hote dinner, to write up our diaries, to commend our lives and our loved ones to the care of our Heavenly Father, we slept. During the night there was a severe thunder storm, the lightning played round our hotel, lighting up the great square in front, but so far as we know, no damage was done. We rose in health, refreshed and ready for a good breakfast; this, the Italians know how to provide. Their coffee is the best I have ever tasted. Fish, eggs, cold meats and fruits in abundance. We made a fine breakfast, and after writing some letters and post cards we ventured out, this time for a drive to the suburbs. I soon found carriage and driver and made terms.
Before starting, however, I took a snapshot of my wife in the carriage, with the archway or part of the p. 81facade of the Duomo for background. We passed through the principal parts of the city, and our driver pointed out the house, still standing, where Dante, the greatest of all the great poets of Italy, was born. It is very near to the church of Santa Croce, a very old building, but in its vicinity lies the dust of some of Italy’s noblest sons. Near here in the year 1865, on the 5th day of May, a vast concourse of people assembled to see the unveiling of a statue of Dante. It is 19 feet in height, and it is mounted on a pedestal 23 feet in height. This was the six hundredth anniversary of the poet’s birthday. Dante was not buried here, but at Ravenna, where he died in exile away from the city he loved so much. In the “Sheep-fold of St. John” as he called it. His life was full of strange vicissitudes, apparently more of cloud and storm than of sunshine. His father was in the legal profession, and this, Dante adopted, and studied very successfully at several schools in Italy and Germany. At an early age he fell madly in love with one, Beatrice, but she married another man, and left him with a great sore in his heart. He was called to bear arms against Ariezo and Pisa, where he served with great assiduity. He afterwards married, but not happily, at the age of 28. He had a family, however, and his first-born p. 82being a girl, he called her Beatrice, after his first love. A civil war had been brewing for some time. Again Dante took the field, this time, unfortunately, on the weaker side, and a revolutionary government being formed, he, with other ringleaders who wished to resist the extreme pretensions of the Pope, were sentenced to be burned alive. He, however, managed to escape into Germany, where he wandered about from place to place, finding no settled residence, and desiring to return to his native city, but this was denied him. He died, as we have seen, in Ravenna. His daughter Beatrice was a nun in one of the convents, but to do some tardy justice to the noble bard, a sum of money was raised for her own special use. I can hardly leave this interesting subject without a passing reference to his poems, as are now principally read. The volume I refer to includes the “Inferno,” “The Purgatorio,” and “The Paradiso.” It is here surmised that Virgil and St. Bernard conduct Dante through these divisions of the universal world, to help him to write something that would show up the source of Italy’s ruin. The poem is a fine allegory, showing, as it does in the first part, a Panther, representing Florence or envy; a Lion, France or ambition; a She-Wolf, the Court of Rome or avarice; a Greyhound, Our Saviour or His p. 83vicegerent the Pope; Virgil, human wisdom; and Beatrice, heavenly wisdom. His representation of Hell as a dark valley, at the mouth of which is Limbo, and which are nine circles indicating nine different degrees of sin to be punished. The wise and good even are represented as lying in tears and sorrow, because they were not baptized. Purgatory is a step hill in the hemisphere opposite hell. Seven rounds have to be climbed before the seven stains of sin are washed away. At the top is the Garden of Eden. It is most interesting to follow Dante, as he ascends with his beloved Beatrice to Paradise, through the various heavens of the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, the Sun, Jupiter, etc. The eighth heaven contains the triumph of Christ; and the Virgin Mary and Adam he makes to dwell there also. In the ninth heaven is a manifestation of the Divine Essence, viewed by three hierarchies of Angels. While these poems are allegorical, they are full of interest and show that Dante was greatly moved and influenced by “the things that are unseen which are eternal.” In his youthful days he paced the fields and groves of lovely Italy, writing sonnets to his beloved Beatrice. In his later years he had to eat the bread of bitterness, being an outcast from his friends and from the city he loved. The world, p. 84however, has been enriched by his poverty. A sight of the place where he was born has suggested to us this commentary. We left the place not without reflection upon the immutability of things that are earthly. From here our driver took us towards the lovely gardens across the river Arno, the gardens of Boboli; these are open to the public Thursday and Sunday. Approaching the bridge which spans this lovely river, we were struck with its massiveness as well as its beauty. It is called the Jewellers’ Bridge, as jewellers’ shops line the bridge on each side fully, except a very small break in the middle through which you get a very nice view of the river as it rolls along. A bridge further on is adorned with statues, and is considered the most beautiful of the seven that cross the Arno. When over the bridge the road is very steep; our driver left his box to give the horse the benefit. Now we seem getting into the suburbs, the road is lined with trees of all sorts; the acacia, the box, the walnut, the maple, the olive and many others, I do not think I could tell the names of them all. Up and up we went, in a semicircular fashion, until we gained the summit. When we had gone through the gate into the garden, the view was simply entrancing. Florence, with its towers and spires and p. 85domes, lay like a fine panorama at our feet, and the river gliding gently through the city. The villages in the distances nestling amidst luxuriant foliage of trees and plants. The gardens around us full of beauty, adorned with statuary, and a profusion of moss and creeper and colour of flowers, we may never see again. Just across the river, we could see the tower of Galileo, where the great astronomer nightly watched the stars, or
“Moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views,
At evening from the top of Fiesole,
Or in Voldarno, to descry new lands,
Rivers or mountains, in his spotty globe.”
Farther out the Casine, or the Hyde Park of Florence, could be seen. Perhaps no better description can be given than by Mrs. Browning:
“You remember, down at Florence, our Casine,
Where the people on the fast days walk and drive,
And through the trees, long drawn in many a green way,
O’er roofing hum and murmur like a hive,
The river and the mountain look alive.
You remember the Piazzo there, the stand place
p. 86Of carriages abrim with Florence beauties,
Who lean and meet to music as the band plays,
Or smile and chat with some one who afoot is
Or on horseback, in observance of male duties.
’Tis so pretty in the afternoon of summer,
So many gracious faces brought together;
Call it rout, or call it concert, they have come here
In the floating of the fan and of the feather,
To reciprocate with beauty the fine weather.”
Along the valley of Vallambrosa, as you look across, pine forests, lawns and mountains combined, make a scene the fairest fair Italy can show. Milton, in his “Paradise Lost,” alludes to this valley, speaking of the fallen angels who
Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks
In Vallambrosa’s, where oh! Etrurian shades
High over arched embower.”
This was one of the favourite walks of Dante, where he loved to wander and muse on his lovely Beatrice. The views from this elevation on all sides were very beautiful, and we left it with a feeling we could never again gaze on scenes so delightful.
Returning from these lovely scenes, in and from the Boboli Gardens, over the same p. 87bridge we turned to the left and passed the Mozzi Square, where is the Mozzi Palace. A very large building that has connected with it, we were told, a very fine picture gallery, but we had not time to visit it. We then came to the Necropolis of St. Miniato, a church considered to be one of the oldest on the continent. The Florentine Republic considered its splendid military position, and ordered Michael Angelo to fortify it. He therefore threw a strong rampart around it, with strong bastions which were provided with cannon. It is said that many Christian martyrs died for the faith and were buried in this church. The tower was greatly damaged by Charles V., but Michael Angelo saved it from utter ruin. Rev. D. M. Pratt says of Michael Angelo:
“A master mind before the marble stood,
Fresh quarried was it, rough and all unhewn,
To other eyes it seemed a shapeless stone;
To his, a stately form and beautiful.
Chisel in hand he wrought and what he saw
Came forth a statue, living and divine.
An artist stood and gazed on fallen man:
He to the soul, what to the marble rough
Was Angels, he saw and sinful man
A seraphs form. He wrought, and forth there came
p. 88Manhood divine—the lifeless took on life,
Oh! for the artist’s eye! In every man
God’s image dwells, and he who sees the Christ
Sees God in man restored, and with him seeks to bring
His thoughts to life in saving men.”
A poet has written:
“In Santa Croce’s holy precincts lie
Ashes which make it holier, dust which is
Even in itself an immortality.
Though there were nothing save the past, and this
The particles of those sublimities
Which have relapsed to chaos, here repose
Angelo’s Alfieris bones, and his
The starry Galileo with his woes;
Here Machiavelli’s earth returned to whence it rose.”
The tomb of Galileo calls for a passing remark, as he dared to contravert the old world notions of a central earth fixed in space, immovable with planets curling round it. The church had stood by the old theory for ages. If now they adopt Galileo’s theory, where is their infallibility. And so ignorant monks shut him up in prison and burnt his books in the public market place, and led out this great philosopher in mockery before a gaping crowd, with a wax taper in his hand p. 89and a halter round his neck, and demanded he should recant his opinions. Amidst the jeers of his friends and the awful threats of his enemies, he was induced to go through a certain form of recantation, in which he was required to declare “With a sincere heart and faith unfeigned, I abjure, curse and detest the said errors—I swear for the future never to say anything verbally, or in writing, which may cause to any further suspicion against me.” Rising from his knees he whispered: “But it does move for all that.”
Appalling catastrophe in Italy: Messina: Savonarola, the enthusiastic preacher: His defiance of the Pope: His excommunication: His cell, etc.: His martyrdom: Raphael, his genius as a painter: Some of his works: The old Protestant Cemetery: Our leaving Florence: Journey to Bologna and on to Venice.
While I am here writing of the beauties of Italy, its fertile plains, its sunny skies, its lovely lakes, its great works of art and its still greater artists, a newsboy is calling out in the streets: “Appalling catastrophe in Italy.” An earthquake killing not thousands merely, but tens of thousands. What! is that fair land devastated, and death swept by such a calamity? Is it true that loveliness and danger lie so near together? What! is there no spot on earth where we may be absolutely free from danger? Here in lovely Messina and Reggio, I passed them on board the S.S. “Benares” about two years ago. The sun shone brilliantly on the scene, a lovelier it would be difficult to describe. On my left Messina, with its marble buildings glistening in the sun. Temples and towers, churches and barracks, all giving signs of p. 91strength and beauty to the fair city; on our right Reggio, which appeared to be a city of great beauty and prosperity. Mount Etna in the distance, slumbering for a time. Stromboli as we passed was alive hurling up stones, fire and smoke. Now the cities named are practically wiped out. The Daily News, of December 31st, 1908, says: “Yesterday, the total of the dead was calculated as from fifty thousand to seventy-five thousand. To-day it is two hundred thousand. This morning’s news helps us to form a clearer idea of the awful scene as it occurred. It was early morn just before daylight, and all the beautiful towns along the coast of these historic straits were still asleep. Death came suddenly and unawares. By five successive shocks, the cities were toppled down, and where they had stood great columns of dust were rising. Men, women and children, soldiers in barracks, the sick in hospital and prisoners in gaol were killed together as they slept. They died like ants in a blown up nest.” A survivor from Messina says: “The town is nothing but a dust heap, even the railway station is swallowed up, the railwaymen are nearly all killed.” Another says: “It is too horrible to describe.” The Pope has shown the greatest anxiety; has even asked permission at the Quirinal to transmit massages to the suffering p. 92and the bereaved. He also summoned to the Vatican the Director of the Bank of Rome and had with him some private conversation, and arranged for the sum of £40,000 to be sent at once. Our own King Edward sent to the King of Italy messages of condolence and sympathy. The navies and soldiers of England, France, Germany and others are giving assistance in extricating sufferers from the debris, and feeding the hungry, and erecting temporary shelters and generally doing all that can be done to mitigate the distress and grief and pain. Money is being sent liberally by all the Christian nations at least. So all feel as nations and as individuals that “One touch of sorrow makes the world akin.” It is at such a time that the brotherhood of nations asserts itself. All racial barriers are swept away in the face of such a terrible catastrophe. The latest news is that no less than 220,000 have perished, as many inland towns have suffered most severely. The cathedral and churches, with all their valuable works of art, have been totally destroyed. Scenes simply indescribable are enacted and too sad to relate. So we see the uncertainty of things that are on earth.
Notwithstanding the natural beauty of the surroundings, before we left the fair city of Florence, we must needs do a little shopping, p. 93and make some further investigations into the interests and associations of the place. The convent of San Marco is a place worth a visit, and is open on receipt of a small fee or gratuity. Here is the cell of Savonarola, in which he was confined before the martyrdom of flame. Here is a fine portrait of the man who dared to face even death in his defence of the truth. Here are some of his manuscripts, traced with his own pen. Here are his tunic, girdle and crucifix, and even a charred piece of wood from the scene of his martyrdom. Such sights fill the soul with thoughts of what men have endured to rescue the truth from Papal tyranny. Of Savonarola it may be said, he was a great reformer, a religious enthusiast, and a martyr. Born at Ferrara, in 1452, he early joined the religious order of Dominicans at Bologna. At first his career as a preacher was not marked by any unusual event, nor did he meet with great success, but on his appointment to the Duomo, crowds came to listen to his preaching, and indeed so eloquent did he become and so effective that, at times, his discourses were interrupted by the masses of the people sobbing and crying in their pews. He became so popular that the people pressed round him in the streets to kiss his garments. He went forth like a flaming herald of the cross in p. 94defiance of pope, cardinal or priest. It is stated that under his influence the morals of the city became purified. The children were specially cared for, as many as 8,000 at one time were banded together in a sort of republic, and were called “the children of Christ.” The Pope did his very best to suppress this holy work, but it was useless to try to stop so God inspired a man as Savonarola. When this was ineffectual, they said make him a Cardinal; give him a red hat, so make of him a friend. He answered from the pulpit of St. Mark’s: “I will have no other red hat than that of martyrdom, coloured with my own blood.” Then he was summoned to appear in Rome. This, however, he refused to do. Then came the ban of excommunication, but this brought with it no terrors. His answer to it is: “he who commands a thing contrary to the law of Christ, is himself excommunicated.” “I may have failed in many things, for I am a sinner, but I have not shunned to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They threaten to burn me or fling me into the Arno, that gives me no concern.” Ultimately he was arrested and charged with impiety and sedition, of these, however, there was no proof shown, until a certain man named Ser Cocone presented a forged document, and our hero was condemned to be burned. And on p. 95May 23rd, 1498, this noble saint of God passed away. Three platforms were erected in front of the palace; Savonarola was taken up to the central one, clad in his priestly robes. Then piece by piece the Bishop removed his vestments in the presence of the multitude, and pronounced the degradation. “I separate thee from the church militant and from the church triumphant.” “Nay,” said the bold and daring saint, “from the church militant, if you please, but not from the church triumphant, that is more than you can do.” He then mounted the pile and gave utterance to the following sentence; “Oh! Florence, what hast thou done this day.” Soon there was nothing left but the ashes of Savonarola. His spirit leapt into the chariot of fire, and he was with the martyr throng before the Throne. By order of the Commune, his ashes were thrown into the river Arno, so that no relic could be found of the patriot and martyr.
We could hardly leave Florence without giving some reference to Raphael, one of our world’s greatest painters. Though not born in Florence, he spent a good deal of his life in the city. His education in the art was completed in Florence. He was born in the year 1483. Michael Angelo was to him an attraction and an inspiration. It is said that p. 96so fine was his genius, that in his time of tuition he could surpass his tutors. His most famous pictures are “Christ in the attitude of prayer on the Mount of Olives,” and “St. Michael and St. George,” which are now in the Louvre, at Paris. The Pope gave him a grand reception on his entering Rome; and, while there, he executed some very fine pieces for his Holiness, which so pleased him that he ordered Raphael to give him other proofs of his artistic skill. He then painted on the Vatican walls figures of “Poetry,” “Theology,” “Justice,” and “Philosophy”; also “The fall of Adam,” “Astronomy,” “Apollo,” and “Philosophy.” On another wall he painted “Fortitude,” “Prudence,” “Temperance”; and on another place “The Emperor Justinian delivering the Roman law,” “Peter’s deliverance from prison,” “Moses viewing the burning bush,” “Jacob’s dream,” etc. It is said he turned the Vatican into a picture gallery. His pictures are in many countries and in many cities. He died at the early age of thirty-seven, on the same date he was born, and his body was conveyed to the Pantheon, in Rome, where it now rests. It is said of him, he was most affable, kind, and generous to a fault. He had an open manly countenance which inspired all who met him. Florence, fair city, must be credited p. 97with the training and making of this bright gem of the painter’s art. Indeed, this city has given to the world some of the finest men of mind and soul the world has ever known. We felt proud to walk its streets and to know we were on ground that should be reverenced for the purity and greatness of the lives of the men we have referred to. We could not readily say good-bye, but time presses, and after a visit to the old Protestant Cemetery outside the Porta Pinta, which to Britishers is hallowed ground, as there are here the graves of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the poetess to whom we have already referred our readers; also “Theodore Parker,” and “Arthur Hugh Clough.” This “city of the dead” was closed in 1870, and a new cemetery has been opened for Protestants about a mile outside the city. To try to describe the beauties of all the suburbs of Florence would require an abler pen than mine. So we must close our account at the “Minerva,” take our last night’s repose and leave for Venice.
We rose early in order to have a full day of interest and experiences. We left this lovely place in the forenoon, and as our train was about to leave, a lady traveller who spoke good English boarded the train and entered our compartment. We soon became friendly and familiar. She spoke our language, she p. 98was of a kindred spirit, though not from England, she was of English stock and we soon discovered she came from Dunedin, New Zealand (Miss M. Himmel). She had visited Balmoral Castle in Scotland, and the Trossachs, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Also Dublin in Ireland, The Giants’ Causeway, Bantry Bay and the lovely Lakes of Killarney. She spent three months in our great city of London, and visited every important church, museum, picture gallery, etc. Also Norway with its weird and awe-inspiring scenery. Rome with its telling old world stories in stone, marble and bronze. Naples, Milan, Venice, Florence, Frankfort-on-the-Rhine, Bingen, Berlin, and to Cologne. Then to Paris, the gay city of France, to see its Notre Dame, its fine Boulevards, etc. Two weeks’ sight seeing in Paris. Then to London and next Liverpool. Then for Dunedin, New Zealand and home. We found her well read and of wide experience, a lady both in manners, education, and by birth. We could exchange ideas and enjoy each others company as the train sped on towards Venice. The railway intersects a rich tract of land at the base of the Apennines. On our right the picturesque castle of Monte Mario, near which, we learned, at one time, the Florentine Republicans with their troops p. 99were defeated and taken prisoners by the troops of Cosino, in the year 1537. We soon found out our train was climbing, by the speed she made, up the great Etruscan Apennines we mount, now through a tunnel, then across a fine aqueduct. Again and again this occurred, while the sides of the vast mountain ranges, we noticed, were covered with trees—pines, poplars, chestnuts, olive, fig, mulberry, and others. The plains of Tuscany, which were now below us, are reputed to be the richest in Europe. Wheat is largely cultivated. Rice is also sown in considerable quantities, and is used by the peasant for food. The use of buffaloes as beasts for farm use are common. No less than 3,000 are in constant use on the farms and vineyards of Tuscany. We saw waggons drawn by six buffaloes frequently. The grapes of the neighbourhood, through which we were passing are said to be of an exceptional quality. As we passed villages on the slopes of the hills, we saw the natives in their simplicity of dress and manner, at work and at home. At every gate where there was a crossing of the railway there was a woman, mostly aged, with a horn to warn travellers of the approaching train. Reaching a wayside station our train stopped, and I noticed on the platform an Italian girl with a rude simple table or stall on which p. 100were large bunches of grapes, I presumed for sale, so I alighted from the train and seized two bunches about one pound each. As I could not speak to her in her language, I took some change from my pocket and offered her the cost, so she took what she wished. She took twenty centimes, that is the value of twopence, so cheap are grapes in Italy. At this station an Italian lady, and evidently two daughters, came into our compartment with a little fancy dog, which one of the daughters carefully nursed. They brought with them one or two large baskets. In a little while one of them took from a basket a very fine roast chicken, from which she began to feed the dog with the nicest pieces off the breast. When the animal was satisfied they spread napkins on their knees, and evidently enjoyed the rest of the fowl. Some rolls and butter and grapes for dessert, and also some bottles of wine were produced from the baskets. Later, as we needed refreshments, we had to be satisfied with a few sandwiches, but the ladies seeing we had no napkins, at once offered theirs, and, indeed, spread them over our knees, with the greatest delicacy and politeness. Then they offered us, and pressed us, though in a language we did not understand, to have grapes and wine with them. Their kindness and manner of giving p. 101expression to it touched us very much. They left us as we arrived at Bologna station, but our friend Miss Himmel, however, remained with us. We did not stay long enough to look over the town, but from its appearance it is a large and prosperous city, having a population of about 100,000. The cathedral is one of very great antiquity and importance. There are 130 Roman Catholic Churches and twenty monasteries in this city. There is a very fine Piazza or Square, called Victor Immanuel Square, in which is a fine bronze statue of Pope Gregory XIX. St. Petronio is the largest church in the town, in the Gothic style. Over the principal entrance is a bronze statue of Pope Julius II., with the keys and a sword in his hand, by Michael Angelo. We left Bologna after a short time of waiting, and were soon speeding through lovely and fertile tracts of country. The Adriatic on our right, not near enough to see, but the air seemed impregnated with its ozone. Our approach to Venice became apparent as we crossed the lagoons with a roar and a rattle, the numerous arches (miles of them) told us we were near the city.
Arrival at Venice: The ubiquitous Gondola: The Grand Canal: The curious water ways: Our Hotel: A snap shot of a Gondola and its freight: St. Mark’s Cathedral: Its curious history: Its wonderful Tower, and its interior adornments.
I think it was the most thrilling moment of our tour, as our train left Mestra, and almost immediately we began crossing the long bridge (two-and-a-half miles long) which crosses the lagoon, we seem to be travelling right into the sea, the gentle ripple of the watery waves by moonlight as they extend on either side of the line, has a pleasing effect. The peculiar smell of the seaweed is strong in the air, and right ahead is Venice, of which some poet has sung:
“There is a glorious city in the sea,
The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets
Ebbing and flowing, and the salt seaweed
Clings to the marble of her palaces.
No track of men, no footsteps to and fro
Lead to her gates! the path lies o’er the sea,
Invisible: And from the land we went
As to a floating city—steering in,
p. 103And gliding up her streets as in a dream,
So smoothly, silently—by many a dome
Mosque-like, and many a stately portico
The statues ranged along an azure sky,
By many a pile, in more than Eastern pride,
Of old the residence of merchant kings;
The fronts of some, tho’ time hath shattered them,
Still glowing with the richest hues of art,
As though the wealth within them had run o’er.”
Our arrival at Venice was about eight o’clock in the evening, surely no time so fitting to be introduced to the fair Queen of the Adriatic. From the busy, bustling railway station we were concluded by a Fakena, who brought up our luggage to a gondola lying in the shimmering sea just outside. No cabs or ’bus as at other stations, the gondola seemed to be everywhere. As we stepped into our new found equipage we were entranced, imagination fails to picture a sight so bewitching. Lights in a thousand directions, gondolas passing and repassing as we sweep through the principal waterway, then turn sharp round a corner as our gondolier cries: “Stali priene gai e” as he passes others with most wonderful precision. We were thus conveyed to the door of the Grand Hotel p. 104Victoria, where for a short time we were to make our home. We found the house all we could desire, warm, clean sweet, and fitted up almost luxuriantly. To bed and a rest, and oh! how sweet after toil and travel. We were awake and out early to see the sights of this unique city. We opened our eyes on a lovely picture, soft, dreamy, beautiful. The water, dotted over in all directions, with this strange craft. It seems this is the only means of locomotion. No cabs, omnibuses, carts, or even a barrow. There is no animal in Venice larger than a dog. Here the universal bike cometh not. The fashionable or unfashionable motor neither puffs nor smells. The train must not approach nearer than the head of the Grand Canal. A horse would be as great a novelty in Venice, I should think, as a ship in full sail would be in Wheeler Gate, Nottingham. Right from the water’s edge at our hotel door, we could see gondolas gliding swiftly hither and thither. In Byron’s “Beppo” we find the following lines:
“Did’st ever see a Gondola; for fear you should not
I’ll describe it exactly,
’Tis a long covered boat common here,
Carved at the prow, built lightly but compactly,
p. 105Rowed by two rowers, each called gondolier;
It glides along the water looking blackly,
Just like a coffin clapt in a canal,
Where none can make out what you say or do.”
Appearing suddenly, through unsuspected gateways and alleys, yonder, we see vast bridges and stately palaces of marble throw their shadows athwart the glittering waves. There seems life and motion everywhere, and yet there is no noise. There seems a hush as if suggestive of secret enterprise, of mysterious shadows, of the departed greatness of this still great city. Old Petrarch might well exclaim: “I know not that the world hath the equal of this place.”
Standing at our hotel door, the gondolier waiting for my wife and our friend Miss Himmel, I ventured (after they had seated themselves) to take a snap with my camera to secure some little permanent reminder of the curiosity of this manner of travel. The gondola is a most handy and quick means of getting about. We were out in the Grand Canal, and the sight was, to say the least, most interesting. Here is a party of young ladies and gentlemen, with their gondola decorated with ribbons in various colours, and with them, evidently, an opera or chorus party, with their guitar, and some other p. 106peculiar instruments of music, but sweet as the evening zephyrs, as the sounds floated over the silvery sea. The gondolas are all black, why? I am unable to say; but I don’t think I saw one either brown or red, or green or white, simply painted black. The stern of the boat is usually decorated with a kind of matting or carpet, at its prow the gondolier stands, he has only a single oar. A long bladed oar, so he stands erect. How he can scull ahead at such a speed is a mystery, and at once pull back when there is danger. He seems to make all his calculations with the greatest precision, he never makes a mistake. Mark Twain says: “The gondolier is a picturesque rascal for all he wears no satin harness, no plumed bonnet, no silken tights. His attitude is stately, he is lithe and supple; all his movements are full of grace.”
A party of ladies go out shopping in a gondola, this may seem strange, but it is really true. They flit from street to street, and from shop to shop, they leave the gondola as a lady here leaves her carriage or her motor, by the curb, while they have rolls and rolls of silk or muslin or linen unrolled, and then, perhaps, have just enough cloth to make the pet dog at home a paletot. Human nature, we find, is much the same the world over. Boys and girls go to school in the p. 107gondola, while they jump and kick, and fight on the way, but only in play, until landed at the school house gateway. Nurses are out in the gondola with babies for an airing, and to pass away the sunny hours on the waters. Families go to church in the gondolas, dressed in their best, they are soon sculled to the place where they are wont to worship. The mail boat is a gondola, with its freight of letters newly arrived, and is always interesting. Funerals are also carried out in the same way. The gondola is heavily draped in black velvet and silver trimmings, and furnished with huge candles lighted, surmounting the canopy, under which lies one who, in his turn has trodden the silent highways in the enjoyment of health, but is now on his last journey, accompanied by the solemn chant of the priestly requiem. Business men come or go in the gondola as we do here in cab or motor. The doctor visits his patients in and out of the quaint old city, not on a bicycle, but in a gondola. We saw a party flitting, the furniture remover brought his gondolas, and furniture was handed out into this strange vehicle for such a purpose. At Venice it is common, indeed, the only way possible of conveying goods or furniture from house to house. So, for almost all purposes, the gondola is useful. We found it a most p. 108enjoyable, as well as a speedy means of getting about. To say there are no streets in Venice would be hardly true, or to say you cannot get from place to place only by water. There are only three bridges cross the Grand Canal which divides the city into pretty nearly equal halves. The city is built upon one hundred and seventeen islands, intersected by one hundred and fifty small canals, and two thousand five hundred and eighty passages or waterways; but almost all the waterways have a footpath bordering it, while four hundred bridges unite one island to another. It is, however, very bewildering to pace the mazes of this strange city. If you get five hundred yards from your starting point, you may have to cross half a dozen bridges before you can get back again.
Our first visit was paid to the cathedral or church of St. Mark’s, and this wonderful building, for it is a wonderful place, has a wonderful history; it is this: when the Caliph of Alexandria, who was bitterly opposed to the Christian religion, was building for himself a magnificent palace, he gave orders that the most precious marbles were to be procured for its adornment, and to this end the Christian churches were to be stripped of their richest treasure. A raid was made on the church of St. Mark at Alexandria, where p. 109the body of the Saint was said to rest in a state of spiritual repose, and so great was the grief of the two Greek Priests who officiated in the temple that their cries and lamentations came to the ears of two Venetian merchants who chanced to be trading in that port. When these merchants found out the cause of their trouble they offered to take away the body of St. Mark and secure for it a sweet resting place in their own country. The Priests at first disliked the idea, but when the temple was profaned and robbed and stripped of all that made it attractive, they gave consent. It was a work that was very risky they thought, for St. Mark had been known to work strange miracles, and was held in great awe and veneration by the people. However, they entered the tomb in which the body lay, cut open the wrapper in which the sacred remains were enfolded, removed the body and substituted the body of St. Claudian therein. How to carry the body away safely was their next consideration. They fell upon the following stratagem. Placing the body in a large basket covered with herbs and savoury joints of pork, they bore it along the streets crying: “Khan zir! Khan zir!” Pork! Pork! A cry hateful to all true Mussulmen. In this manner they reached the vessel with their precious burden in safety, where, in p. 110order to make sure of their prize, they concealed the body in the sails until they left the city. It is said the Venetians received the sacred remains with wild demonstrations of joy. A succession of fetes were given, ceremonies were held in honour of the Saint, pilgrims flocked to the shrine from all parts of the world. A revival in the fortunes of the Venetian Republic followed, and for a time the cry was often heard “Viva san Marco!” To secure a fitting resting place for the body thus secured from Alexandria, this church of St. Mark was built. It is a five domed Romanesque structure, decked with 500 marble columns. It contains more than 45,000 square feet of mosaics of the tenth century. In form it is of a Greek cross. Marble from the Haram floors of Eastern potentates panel its walls and cover its principal porticos, and over its grand portals stand the four horses of gilded bronze which were taken from the arches of Nero and Trajan at Rome. They were first taken by Constantine in the fourth century after Christ to Venice. Then they were taken from Venice again, and this time to Paris by Napoleon, but they were restored to Venice in the year 1815. And here, as we saw them, they look most attractive. The Campanile or Tower of St. Mark’s is not a part of the building, but p. 111stands a little way off. It rises to the height of 322 feet, and at the top is one of the largest and finest vanes I ever saw, it is that of an angel with wings outstretched gilded with gold. It was from the tower of St. Mark’s that Galileo made most of his astronomical observations. We visited several churches of importance, but they are pretty much alike. All have their high altars and immense wax candles burning; the picture of the Madonna in prominent places. The confessional box for the natives, also for strangers and travellers such as we were. We, however, declined to patronize this particular line. If we must confess at all, we certainly take the Psalmist for our ideal, he said: “I said I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sins.” Psalm 32, verse 5. Plenty of Holy Water and evidently plentifully used, as nearly every one coming in puts his fingers in the bowl and makes the sign of the cross on his forehead. Cowled monks paced the floor with noiseless tread. Priests and Bishops in their distinctive dress are not scarce. I gathered from some source that there are 1,200 priests in Venice, a city of about 100,000 people. It seems as if everything had to bend to the church and the priest. In the church you have riches without end, there are huge columns carved out of p. 112solid marble and inlaid from top to bottom with hundreds of delicate figures wrought in costly verde antique; pulpits of the richest material, whose draperies hang down in many a lovely picture, showing the artist’s work from the loom. The Grand Altar, brilliant with agate, jasper and all manner of precious stones and slabs of what is almost priceless, the lapis lazuli, which is on all sides lavishly laid as if of no value. Yet in the midst of all this display of wealth and of lavish expenditure, all about and at the doors of the churches a dozen or more of hats or bonnets are doffed and heads bowed in mute appeal and a hundred hands extended appealing for help. Appealing in a language we could not understand, but with sad, pitiful eyes and hollow cheeks and tattered garments, no words were needed to translate their wants. I wondered why all these riches should lie idle and so many poor actually starving. Mark Twain, when visiting Italy, said: “Oh! Sons of classic Italy, is the spirit of enterprize, of self reliance, of noble endeavour, utterly dead within ye. Why don’t you rob the church?”
The Pigeons in St. Mark’s Square: Further description of the interior: The Palace of the Doges: “The Bridge of Sighs”: The general Archives of Venice: The Church of Santa Maria dei Frari: London Polytechnic Party: Some of the slums of Venice: Our farewell.
In the Piazza of St. Mark’s there may be seen, almost any time, some hundreds of pigeons. They are very tame, we passed them so closely I think we could have picked them up in our arms. There is an old legend that these pigeons are the safety valve of Venice. How? it is difficult to learn, but they are regarded almost with reverence. Twice a day they are fed by the public authorities. A huge bell is rung, and they come from all quarters of the city. They know the time of feeding and to show visitors that this is true, when the bell is not rung, the pigeons are there. If anyone hurts or kills one of these pigeons, he is fined heavily for the first offence, if it is repeated he is imprisoned. We went inside this beautiful church of St. Mark’s and at first we could not realise the magnificence, the beauty, the costliness of its interior. The columns of p. 114porphry and amalachite and verde antique, panels glittering with gold and gems, pavements dazzling in mosaic work.
After some time we began to realize the splendours by which we were surrounded. Mr. Ruskin, I think, gives a fine picture in very simple words of the beauties and richness of St. Mark’s: “Then opens before us a vast cave hewn out in the form of a cross, and divided into shadowy aisles by many pillars. Round the domes of its roof, the light enters only through narrow apertures, like large stars; here and there a ray or two from some far away casement wanders into darkness, and casts a narrow phosphoric stream upon the waves of marble that heave and fall in a thousand colours upon the floor. What else there is of light is from torches or silver lamps burning ceaselessly in the recesses of the chapels. The roof sheathed with gold, and the polished walls, covered with rich alabaster, gives back at every curve and angle some feeble gleaming to the flames: and the glories round the heads of the sculptured saints flash out upon us as we pass them, and sink into gloom. Under foot and over head a continual succession of crowded imagery, one picture passing into another as in a dream; forms beautiful and terrible, mixed together, dragons and serpents and ravenous beasts of p. 115prey, and graceful birds that in the midst of them, drink from running fountains and feed from vases of crystal. The passions and pleasures of human life symbolized together and the mystery of its redemption; for the mass of interwoven lines and changeful pictures lead always at last to the Cross lifted and carved in every place and upon every stone, sometimes with the serpent of eternity wrapped around it, with doves beneath its arms, and sweet herbage growing forth from its feet. But conspicuous most of all is the great road that crosses the church before the altar, raised in the bright blazonry against the shadow of the Apse.”
To describe all the interior of this lovely structure would be as easy as to describe our British Museum in London. We were enchanted, bewildered, surprised. The baptistery, with its sculptured front, and for an altar piece a massive granite slab, on which, it is alleged, our Lord stood when he preached to the inhabitants of Tyre. Then the choir stalls are rich in carvings of every description, indeed, everywhere about us are treasures unspeakable. The outside is hardly less wonderful than the inside, with its domes, spires, statues, arches and columns, which fairly bewilder you, as for the first time your eyes fall upon such marvellous productions of p. 116the skilful workmanship of man. The King’s palace or what is called the Palace of the Doges is just against the Piazza or Square of St. Mark’s. Against one of the columns at the entrance I took a snapshot of my dear wife and our friend Miss Himmel. This place is full of things ancient and interesting. Ruskin says of its many coloured marbles, columns, arches, and curiously sculptured windows: “A piece of rich and fantastic colour, as lovely a dream as ever filled the imagination.” It has been twice destroyed by fire, but from the ashes it has arisen more beautiful than ever; here it stands to-day a monument of a strange and eventful history of over one thousand years.
The power of the Doges it seems, was an absolute power for a time, yet was of uncertain tenure. Out of fifty, it is said, five abdicated, nine were exiled, five were banished and their eyes put out, and five were massacred, this up to 1172. Life was of little value in those days, even amongst kings, nor was it less so amongst the people, as often a man accused was condemned without trial, punishment was swift and sure and secret, generally by strangulation in prison, or by drowning, hands tied and body weighted. It was no uncommon sight in those days in this land to see a body swinging from the gallows by the p. 117wayside. No one dared to enquire about the unhappy man’s fate, or he stood in danger of similar treatment. Everywhere there was unsafety and fear. As Rogers, one of our poets, puts it:
“A strange mysterious power was there,
Moving throughout; subtle, invisible
And universal as the air they breathed.
A power that never slumbered, never pardoned,
All eye, all ear, nowhere, and everywhere;
Most potent when least thought of—Nothing dropt
In secret, when the heart was on the lips,
Nothing in feverish sleep, but instantly
Observed and judged—A power that if but glanced at
In casual converse, be it where it might,
The speaker lowered at once his eyes, his voice
And pointed upwards as to God in heaven.
But, let him in the midnight air indulge
A word, a thought against the laws of Venice,
And in that hour he vanished from the earth.”
Those were dark days in this city of wealth and power. We were not permitted inside the palace, but were allowed to ascend the staircase at the head of which is the famous “lions’ mouths,” into which, in ancient times, were placed terrible denunciations, secret p. 118letters, etc., which meant, what I have already referred to, imprisonment, torture or death. Also, along a long corridor, where we could see the busts of the Venetian heroes, whose names were enrolled in the “Golden Book.” Beyond is the hall of the Grand Council, in which are some of the richest and most valuable pictures in Venice. There is Tintoretto’s masterpiece, “The glory of Paradise,” the largest picture (74 feet long) ever painted on canvas, the most precious thing in Venice to-day. From the hall of the Grand Council, there is further on the hall of the Council of Ten. Indeed, the rooms are so many, so large and so full of things of interest, we left the place greatly interested and very tired.
Another marvellous old church we visited was erected in 1565. It is, however, much like other churches, full of pictures, bronze statues and carvings in wood in great variety. The tomb of Titian is an object of interest in the Church of Frari, but time does not permit us to dwell upon it. The offices of the general archives of Venice are very fine buildings, they were in the cloisters of the Frari, they are now simply the resting places of the most ancient records of the old republic. It is said there are now over fourteen million volumes of immense value stored there. They occupy thirteen large rooms. The museum p. 119is a place worth a visit to those who are interested in curios. It belongs to the city, and in it are many curiosities, chiefly artistical and archaeological—antique medals, armoury, engravings, books, ivory, engraved stones. It is a place of great interest.
We crossed the famous “Bridge of Sighs,” immortalised by Lord Byron, who says:
“I stood in Venice, on the bridge of sighs,
A palace and a prison on each hand.”
It was built in the year 1610. We could not fail to remember Tom Hood’s pathetic poem, written, it is believed, after seeing a poor girl, one of the unfortunates, whose corpse has just been discovered in the cold black waters under this bridge of sighs—Drowned! drowned!
“One more unfortunate weary of breath,
Rashly importunate, gone to her death;
Take her up tenderly, lift her with care;
Fashioned so slenderly, young and so fair.
Touch her not scornfully, think of her mournfully,
Gently and humanly; not of the stains of her,
All that remains of her now is pure womanly.
Make no deep scrutiny into her mutiny,
Rash and undutiful, past all dishonour,
Death has left on her only the beautiful.
p. 120Still for all slips of hers, one of Eve’s family,
Wipe those poor lips of hers, oozing so clammily.
Loop up her tresses, escaped from the comb,
Her fair auburn tresses, while wonderment guesses
Where was her home? Who was her father?
Who was her mother? Had she a sister?
Had she a brother? Or was there a dearer one
Still and a nearer one yet than the others?
Alas for the rarity of christian charity
Under the sun, Oh! it was pitiful!
Near to a city full, home she had none.
Where the lamps quiver, so far on the river,
With many a light from window and casement
From garret to basement, she stood with amazement
Homeless by night. The bleak wind of March
Made her tremble and quiver, but not the dark arch
Or the black flowing river, mad with life’s history
Glad to death’s mystery, swift to be hurled
Anywhere, anywhere, out of the world.
In she plunged boldly, no matter how coldly
The rough river ran.
Over the brink of it. Picture it, think of it.
Then if you can, take her up tenderly,
Lift her with care; fashioned so slenderly,
p. 121So young and so fair. E’er her limbs frigidly
Stiffen so rigidly, decently, kindly
Smooth and compose them, and her eyes close them
Staring so blindly, dreadfully staring
Through muddy impurity. As when the daring
Last look of despairing, fixed on futurity.
Perishing gloomily, spurned by contumely,
Cold inhumanity, burning insanity,
Into her rest—Cross her hands humbly
As if praying dumbly, over her breast.
Owning her weakness, her evil behaviour,
And leaving with meakness her sins to her Saviour.”
The bridge derives its name from the fact that criminals crossed it from the judge’s chamber to the prison. This passage used to be on the bridge: “The way of the transgressors is hard.” The bridge is a single arch of one span of ninety feet. There are some nice shops on the top. Our next visit was to the church of San G. Maggiore. Amongst so many churches that we visited, I must not omit to name the old church of Santa Mari dei Frari. It is about five hundred years old. It is said the heart of Titian lies somewhere here. He died at the age of about one hundred years. A plague was raging at the time of his death, which carried away p. 122something like fifty thousand of the inhabitants of Venice. Yet such was the esteem in which he was held, the state permitted a public funeral in that season of death and terror. In this church there is a fine monument to one of the Kings “Foscari.” It is in its way a curiosity. It is over forty feet high, and is fronted in such a peculiar fashion, I could only liken it to some heathen temple. Against it are four black men, as black as the blackest marble could be, dressed in white garments of marble. Their black legs are bare, and through places that seem torn in breeches and sleeves, the shining black marble shows. Above all this sits the departed Doge or King.
“The Church of Santa Maria della Salute.” On our way home we dropped from our gondola to have a look at this sacred building. It stands nearly at the entrance of the Grand Canal. A hundred statues adorn the facades. It is said the building rests upon over one million massive piles driven deeply into the sea. It was erected in response to a vow, so it is said, in the year 1631. Sixty thousand inhabitants were swept away by a terrible plague. The then Doge vowed a vow to build a costly church in honour of the Virgin, if the plague was stayed, from the day the vow was made, no p. 123more deaths occurred, and every year this event is commemorated in a festival. Reaching home tired, we soon went to bed and rested. Rising refreshed and it being Sunday morning, we felt a need of our English Sabbath with its quiet rest and worship. This, however, was partly supplied by a party from the Polytechnic in London, who, we found, were sleeping at our hotel, so we joined them, after we had breakfasted, in their songs, and so passed a part of the sacred day happily and pleasantly. We visited one of the principal manufactories of mosaics and carvings. A gentleman, who spoke fairly good English, escorted us through these extensive works. The building was, at one time, one of the Ducal Palaces. Room after room, full of the finest mosaics, cameos, china works in every conceivable variety, statuary, and carvings. Some of these works of art are almost priceless. We bought a few small specimens of the Venetians’ workmanship. These large palaces of days long past are crumbling to ruins. Byron says:
“In Venice Tasso’s echoes are no more,
And silent rows the songless gondolier.
Her palaces are crumbling on the shore,
And music greets not always now the ear.”
Among the many places of interest in this p. 124very interesting old-world city, that we cannot stay to describe, are the Mint, the Arsenal, the Public Gardens, Titian’s house, Academy of Fine Arts, etc. We had just a look at what we should call the slums, I mean the places where live the poor, and the poor are very poor. Someone has compared Venice to a page of music, with its curious streets, palaces, museums, canals and bridges, resembling lines, notes, double notes, crotchets, pauses; its long and straight, its short, narrow and crooked ways, its open spaces scattered up and down, its mounting and descending of bridges. The comparison holds good in as far as the stranger may easily lose his way and not easily find it again, in this maze of land and water. In Venice nearly everything is sold in the open-air in the poorer quarters, and almost everything that is eaten, is eaten in the open-air. Stalls, where fish or mutton is grilled or fried, and passed hot into the al fresco customer’s hands. Turning into a sequestered nook resembling one of the openings in our Narrow Marsh, we saw a number of girls, very good looking damsels, with guitars and dulcimers, they were giving a serenade to the poor of that quarter. They are the pearl threaders. The pearl threading is an occupation prevalent in Venice, as embroidery was at one time in p. 125England. A home of the poor was being removed from one house to another, the furniture consisted simply of a bedstead and a huge chest or coffer with a stool or two, and a small wooden table. These constituted their whole inventory. Nothing of marble or mosaic here. Nothing of gold or purple, only squalor, poverty and rags. And now we think we have seen Venice, our time also is used up or nearly so. We have surely seen enough of the profusion of costly ornamentation in the old churches. We gazed upon pictures until our eyes were weary of looking at the finest works of the painters’ art ever produced. We have surely learned something in this old-world city of the deeds and doings of bygone ages. To have seen St. Mark’s and its wonderful Campanile or Tower, and the Palace of the ancient Kings or Doges, and the Grand Square, and the Bronze Horses that figure in so many legends (it is said there are hundreds of people in this curious old city that have never seen a living horse). We think we have now seen Venice, and if this had been all we had seen on this tour, it would be worth all the cost and all the trouble to have seen this city on the sea.
Our new found friend, Miss Himmel, left us in the early morning, her next visit was to Munich. We wished her good-bye and God p. 126speed, for in our very short acquaintance we had learned to look upon her as a dear friend. And so we leave Venice, calling it as Goethe does: “a grand work of collective human effort. A glorious monument, not of a ruler, but a people.” So we departed, our gondola was at our hotel door early, we settled up, he swung out and we were at the station and caught the 9.45 for Milan.
Arrival in Milan: Our visit to the Cathedral: Its Spires, and Turrets: Its Stained Glass Windows, Altars, Pictures, and Sculpture: The Church of St. Ambrogio: The Bera Picture Gallery: The Hospital: Leaving Milan: Arrival at Como: Lake Como.
As we steamed out of this dear old city, a palace of dreams, we looked back with a lingering desire to know her better. Across the lagoons we were soon out of waterways and amongst the mountains of Italy; scenery lovely, bewitching, enchanting. With a certain poet
“I ask myself is this a dream?
Will it all vanish into thin air?
Is there a land of such supreme
And perfect beauty anywhere?”
For a long time we sped on through mountainous country whose peaks were bright with sunshine, the hillsides were dotted with pretty villas, which were surrounded with lovely gardens full of shubbery, or ravines that looked cool and shady. Before the day had begun to wane, we caught glimpses of p. 128the great city of Milan, and soon we were being driven to “Hotel Europe.” We found it all we could desire, large, clean, well fitted and most moderate. Our great desire, of course, was to see the wonderful cathedral. We had heard so much of this grand, solemn, vast, airy, peaceful building, that we could hardly sleep for the thought that we were so near what our eyes were aching to see. We rose refreshed, and, after a good breakfast, we sallied forth to feast our eyes on the object we had heard of so often, but never seen. Into the streets we went in a fever of excitement. In this direction and in that, around us, behind us, before us were busy crowds. At last, a very forest of graceful spires, shimmering in the light of the lovely morning sun, burst upon our view. We needed no one to tell us what it was. The Cathedral! my dear wife exclaimed. We knew it in a moment. How sharply its angles and its hundred of spires are cut against the sky. It is like a vision! Some one has said: “a poem wrought in marble.” From whatever standpoint you view Milan Cathedral, it is noble, it is beautiful. You can see it from almost any point of the city, and for many miles outside it is visible. We were at its doors early in the morning. The central one of the five is finely bordered with p. 129a bas-relief of birds and fruits, beasts and insects, so ingeniously carved that they look as if they were really living things. On entering, we felt as though we might hear a strange voice saying: “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standst is holy ground.”
And the lines of Milton at once rose to our lips.
“But let my dear feet never fail
To walk the studious cloisters’ pale,
And love the high embowered roof
With antique pillars, massive proof
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow
In service high and anthems clear
As may with sweetness through mine ear
Dissolve me into ecstacies,
And bring all heaven before mine eyes.”
And Tennyson says:
“Oh! Milan! oh! the charming choirs!
The giant windows blazoned fires,
The height, the space, the gloom, the glory,
A mount of marble, a hundred spires.”
We were amazed at the magnitude, the brilliancy, the beauty of all its interior parts. In every nook and cranny and corner there is some lovely statuary, or vase, or painting, p. 130and every one is a study in itself, every face is eloquent with expression, and every attitude is full of grace. You can trace the master mind and hand of Michael Angelo or Raphael in the many objects of interest that arrest attention. “Long rows of fluted columns, like huge mountains, divide the building into broad aisles.” The lovely stained glass windows, one of which contains no less than sixty panes; these throw in the soft morning light their shadows upon the marble floor of the aisles. We quietly strolled along, viewing with admiration the pictures and mosaics so artistically arranged by their thousands of small pieces of coloured glass, until the whole seems to have the finish of a picture. Our guide showed us many things of interest, which we might have missed but for his aid. A piece of sculpture, the colour of a coffee bean, was shown to us, and our guide stated it was believed to be the work of that famous artist, Phidias. It is a figure of a man without a skin, with every vein, artery and muscle, every fibre and tendon and tissue of the human frame shown in the minutest detail. It was not a very attractive object to look upon, yet it was a work of skill and genius. The staircases to the roof are of the whitest of white marble. There is no stone, no brick, no wood apparently amongst its p. 131building material. We did not feel like going up the one hundred and eighty-two steps, to gain the summit of this great block, we contented ourselves with a general view from the floor. The statues up in the niches high, looked like tiny dolls, while they are really the size of a man. There are niches for nearly five thousand statues, but only about three thousand are filled up-to-date. We were not allowed to see the treasures and relics, these are most valuable and curious. We learn there is treasure inside the coffers to the value of six million francs. This is in silver and gold bas-reliefs and images of Bishops, Cardinals, Madonnas and Saints, Crosses, Croziers and Candlesticks. For relics they have a stone from the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, a fragment of the purple robe worn by Our Saviour, two of St. Paul’s fingers, and a bone of Judas Iscariot, a nail from the real cross on which Our Saviour died. Once every year these sacred relics come out of their dusty archives, and are carried in a grand procession through the city, amid the acclaims of a deluded people. On the High Altar is a very fine tabernacle of gilt bronze adorned with figures of Our Saviour and the twelve disciples, the gift of one of the ancient Popes. A magnificent candelabrum hangs from the roof of the choir p. 132stall. Beneath the choir is a small subterranean church, in which services are held in the winter months, as it is much warmer than in the great cathedral above. This lower church is from the designs of Pellegrini, and from this church is an entrance to the Chapel of St. Carlo. This Saint, it appears, was born about 1505, and was specially good to the poor, as he sold his life interest in some property and distributed it amongst the hospitals and charities of the city. He tried to introduce some salutary improvements into the church, for the scandalous manner of living of the priests had become notorious. For his desire to reform their habits, an attempt was made to assassinate him. Several of the attempts failed, they then hired a priest named Farina to execute the bloody deed. He gained access to this private chapel, and as San Carlo was kneeling before the altar, he fired at him with an old blunderbuss, just at the moment he was chanting: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The bullet struck him on the back but did not penetrate his silken stole, but dropped harmlessly to the ground. This failure of the attempt to murder him was considered an interposition of Divine Providence. He died, however, at the early age of forty-six. His death was p. 133hastened by the severe austerity of his life. His body is deposited in a gorgeous shrine of silver, the gift of Philip IV., of Spain, and he lies in his full canonicals and can be seen through panes of rock crystals. Upon the sarcophagus is worked in rich tapestry San Carlo’s favourite motto: “Humility.” There are several busts of San Carlo, also a fine statue. A mitre, also said to be worn by this Italian worthy during the plague, it is beautifully embroidered with feathers of the choicest and richest hues. There are many churches in all the cities of Italy that are full of interest, some have been so much modernized that, from the outside, there appears nothing unusual, but once you are inside, surprise follows surprise. Saint Ambrogio is one of these. The moment you get inside you are interested, statues of costly marble, silver shrines, columns of marble, vast and numerous. One of the great sights is the splendid facing of the altar, which is a marvellous display of the goldsmiths’ art. A fee of five francs must be paid to see it, the front of the altar is of rich plates of gold, the back and sides are of silver, all richly enamelled and set with precious stones, the golden front is in three divisions, each contains smaller compartments; in the centre one are nine containing the emblems of the p. 134four Evangelists and the twelve Apostles. The transfiguration is also clearly seen amongst them. On one side are to be seen eight angels bearing vials, on the other side are the four archangels—Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel. But the back is quite as full of interest; like the front it consists of three grand compartments, and these are divided into similar tablets. On one of the first is seen a swarm of bees buzzing around the head of a sleeping child. The legend, when explained, tells us that when St. Ambrose was born in the year 340 A.D., a swarm of bees were thus seen around the head of the infant while in his cradle while lying in the palace of his father, and as no harm followed, it was said to be an omen of his future eloquence and power. He was chosen Bishop of Milan in the year 375 A.D. Other emblems, indeed they are too numerous to mention. On the right side of the nave is a large serpent of brass. Tradition states it is the serpent of brass which was set up in the wilderness for the serpent-bitten Israelites to look upon and live. Tradition is not always truth. In the centre of the choir is a curious marble throne, called the chair of St. Ambrose, its appearance is very ancient, it is decorated with figures of lions and strange carvings. We left this interesting sanctum p. 135as we had left other churches—impressed, instructed and grieved. The Brera Picture Gallery or Museum is also well worth a visit. It originally belonged to the Umiliate Order of Jesuits. It is of immense size, and its frescoes are simply magnificent. Amongst them I may name “The Virgin and Child, with St. John and the Lamb”; three girls playing a game then called “hot cockles”; “A youth riding on a white horse”; “Child seated amongst vines and grapes”; “The Virgin and St. Joseph proceeding to their marriage at the Temple”; two minstrels, such as usually accompany wedding parties; “The martyrdom of St. Sebastian;” “The Israelites preparing to leave Egypt”; “The Prophet Habakkuk awakened by the Angel”; “Three cupids with musical instruments.” I believe there are thirteen rooms all full of the finest works of arts to be found anywhere out of Rome. The botanical gardens are not, to my mind, equal even to our own in this country. The Grand Hospital of Milan is well worth looking at from the outside, built in the year 1456. The first stone was laid by Antonia Filarte. As you enter the great gateway, a very fine quadrangle appears in view, and there is a double colonnade of arches, twenty-one on one side and nineteen on the other. I was told that over thirty p. 136thousand patients passed through this hospital every year. It can accommodate at once about five thousand people. Monuments abound outside that have been raised to the memory of the principal benefactors. The theatres of Milan are really palaces of beauty; indeed, I learn that Milan is known by the magnificence of its theatres. The principal one is La Scala. It is said to be the largest and the best arranged of any in Italy, It is capable of holding three thousand six hundred spectators easily. There are forty-one boxes in each row. We did not go inside as our time was fully taken up with other scenes and places. There is a Church of England, or rather services rendered by a clergyman of the Church of England. The Protestants in Milan are very few. There are several Free Church services conducted in the city, but the buildings are not of any special character. From observation I should say four-fifths of the inhabitants are Roman Catholics. The city has now a population of over four hundred thousand. We visited a good many parts of this beautiful busy city. It has some very fine squares, some noble monuments, some pretty gardens; also shops of all kinds, and goods may be had at reasonable prices. We secured some small mementoes that were not very difficult to p. 137pack and carry away. After a few days stay we agreed to move on. So packing once again, and settling up our accounts, and tipping the waiters (it is unpardonable to leave without doing this), our luggage was once more on the ’bus, and we were lumbering along to the railway station, now to make our way to Como, and so on to Lucerne through the great St. Gothard tunnel. We had only a little while to wait, and our train came in with a roar and a hiss. A few minutes and we have left behind us one of the sights that will linger long with us. “The Cathedral of Milan,” for some distance we could see it behind us, and in front of us snow-clad mountains some twenty miles away, our interest deepened as we proceeded, for the beauties nature’s bounteous hand has spread all over Italy is one continual surprise and joy. In less than an hour our train steamed into the station at Como. This is not a large place, but looks very pretty as it nestles in quite an amphitheatre of hills. Como was the home of Pliny, and it is said to have been a very fashionable resort at the time of the Cæsars. In the middle ages it became an independent republic, and for a long time held its own against the large city of Milan. It is now a very prosperous little town, and it is said rivals Lyons in some p. 138respects for its beautiful production of silks. It is surrounded by Olive yards and Orange groves, and near by is the beautiful lake of Como. This is one of the most beautiful of all lakes of lovely Italy we have seen, and we had seen several from our carriage windows, and it was only from this point we could gaze upon this scene of loveliness. Time did not permit us to leave the train to explore and to enjoy. We could see its blue waters shimmering under a warm glow of sunshine. The surroundings are very interesting and beautiful, the eye does not grow weary in tracing the outline of the hills which surround it. I do not wonder at the Psalmist saying: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Psalm 121. For surely earth cannot present, nor unassisted reason fancy or conceive an object more profoundly significant of Divine Majesty than these hills clothed in their vestures at the top, by everlasting snow. In their presence “There is silence deep as death, and the boldest hold their breath.” The slopes of the hills are covered with a very lovely verdure of green, intersected here and there by glens. On one side there are crags and precipices, under whose shelter the vine hangs in bright green festoons. The Olive tree also is in good evidence, as shown by its gnarled and p. 139knotted stem; Orchards and fine Chestnut trees in rich profusion. Passing along we see the white foam of a waterfall as it shines amongst the verdure or leaps over the rocky crags and comes dashing and splashing down the hillside. Further on we see the little white houses dotting the hillsides, as if they grew out of the same. Then a single arch of a bridge that spans a small ravine and unites one little cluster of houses with another, giving interest to the whole surroundings. In another hour and a half we were steaming into beautiful Lugano.
Lugano: The river Tessin and its bridge of ten arches: Bellinzono: Entrance to the great St. Gothard Tunnel: Andermatt Station: St. Bernard’s Hospice: The Devil’s Bridge: The Wood Cutter at Work: William Tell’s Chapel: His story: Entrance to Lucerne: Our Hotel: Our visit to the mountain top of Sonnenberg, etc.
Our stay at Lugano was only for a few minutes, it looks very much like the town of Buxton, in Derbyshire, “Peakland.” The houses are built of stone, the streets are white and clean looking. It has a population of about 7,000, and has a little trade in silks, leather, hats, and some shoes. It is an important railway depot, as it stands very near the frontier, dividing Italy and Switzerland. The Roman Catholics have a very fine church, and, as an accessory, a very extensive nunnery. The river Tessin runs near and the town is protected by a very large dam, nearly a mile long. We crossed this river as we left for Lucerne, over a fine granite bridge of ten arches and something like seven hundred feet long. As we left behind us this pretty little town, we were soon recompensed by ever changing scenery that no pen can fully describe.
p. 141About an hour brought us to another stopping place, Bellinzono. From here we run side by side with the river Ticino, a very fine river, and here began to ascend rapidly towards the Alps and the great tunnel of St. Gothard, which is the largest in the world, and by a long way the most costly. On our way we had a good view of Monte San Salvatore, some three thousand feet high, and beautifully covered with green vegetation right to the summit, and its sides are dotted over with little white homesteads, they look very pretty in the distance. We soon reached the entrance to the great tunnel, which is a marvel of engineering skill. It is built in corkscrew fashion. As we proceeded into the darkness, in about ten minutes or less we came into daylight for a few seconds and found we were about two hundred feet above the little church we had passed a few minutes before. Again we plunged into darkness, again we emerge into daylight, only to find the church is now about six hundred feet below us, and this is repeated, we see the church five times and ultimately we reach the top, about seven thousand feet above sea level. I think the station is called Andermatt. Here we stopped for a little while, we bought some postcards with views of the tunnel and of some of the scenery about here. The cold p. 142was intense, the air very rarified. Not far from here is a Hospice where the dogs, the great St. Bernard dogs are kept for the purpose of protecting the mountain pass. Before the railway was made there was a road that was passable with guides and mules, though, not unfrequently, storms would overtake the party and they would get lost in the snow, or some venturesome individual would go very near the edge of the precipice, and, as the snow hung over considerably, with his weight it would break loose and cause an avalanche of snow to fall, which would take the whole party into the gulf below, sometimes two or three thousand feet. At other times, overtaken by terrible snowstorms, the party and guide would lose their way, and so get buried in the drifts. On such nights the monks of the hospice would go out with the dogs and listen for cries of help. It is stated that scores have been saved from being frozen to death by the great St. Bernard dogs. After leaving Andermatt, we again pierced the mountain in this great tunnel, now we began to descend. Coming into daylight the sight that met our view was simply enchanting, we were right on the top of the Alps and could see the great peaks and the lesser mountains covered with eternal snow. Down we descended to Wassen, here p. 143we crossed a foaming cataract (by an iron bridge) that had cut for itself a deep gorge in the side of the mountain. A little further we crossed what has come to be called “The Devil’s Bridge.” This is in the midst of scenery of the wildest nature imagination can conceive. Why it is called by such a name I don’t know, only the awful desolation of the place, the awe inspiring grandeur of the cliffs, the terrible roar of the river one hundred feet below, and the shrieking of the wild wind, aptly called by the natives, “Hutshelm,” or “hat rogue.” Certainly it is an eerie, creepy sensation that steals over you as you pass. On we glide, now through narrow rocky defiles, then crossing chasms of great depths, as we did so we leaned out of the windows and tried to guess the depth of the yawning gulf beneath us. It made us dizzy to look down. Proceeding, we came into the pine zone, and the black forests of these lovely pine trees seemed to be stuck on their mountain shelves as if staring at us and saying: “Why do you come uninvited into this quiet sanctuary of nature, too deep, too awful to be trodden by man?” Passing along we discovered the woodcutters were clearing out the pine trees on their mountain heights. To fell the trees the men seemed to be chained or roped on the rocky precipices, p. 144and the trees, when cut down, fall upon wires ingeniously hung from trees or large posts fastened in the mountain side and reaching for a distance of two or three miles. We saw the trunks of trees sliding along and down these wires as fast as our train was running. We were not long before we came to the Lake of Uri, which may be said to be out of the mountain ranges, and just by there we saw the Chapel, erected at a very early date, and re-built in 1880, to the memory of Switzerland’s great hero, William Tell.
He was famous as a crossbowman, could shoot an arrow with great precision. The Canton in which he was born and lived was partly, if not entirely, under Austrian rule of that time, and so imperious was Gesler, the Governor, that he demanded of his people that when his hat was hung up in the market place of the town, every one passing should doff his hat and bow to it. William Tell refused to be so humiliated, and, as the result of his refusal, he was arrested, and it was demanded of him to shoot through an apple placed on the head of his only child, a boy of ten, at a distance of fifty yards. This, Tell accomplished without injury to his son; he, however, declared in his own mind the next arrow should go into the heart of Gesler, the tyrant. Tell, however, was not liberated, but p. 145was being taken a prisoner to the castle across this lake. While crossing, a very sudden squall arose, threatening to upset the boat which had Gesler and his prisoner Tell on board. So severe was the storm that Tell was liberated from his chains and asked to take an oar, it was known that he was a clever oarsman. Tell saw his opportunity, he ran the boat on the rocks, then leaping out he pushed the boat off into the lake again. Gesler, however, managed to land, but he fell to the arrow of Tell who had watched and waited for him for some time. To be relieved of so imperious a Governor was to constitute Tell an hero, hence the keeping his memory green by building a chapel; he is also commemorated in song as well as in story. Tell sings:
“Ye crags and peaks, I’m with you once again!
I hold to you the hands you first beheld,
To show they still are free. Methinks I hear
A spirit in your echoes answer me,
And bid your tenant welcome to his home
Again! Oh! sacred forms, how proud you look!
How high you lift your heads unto the sky;
How huge you are! how mighty and how free,
Ye are the things that tower, that shine, whose smile
Makes glad—whose frown is terrible—whose forms
p. 146Robed or unrobed, do all the impress wear
Of awe divine. Ye guards of liberty,
I’m with you once again! I call to you
With all my voice, I hold my hands to you
To show they still are free, I rush to you
As though I could embrace you! Scaling yon height
I saw an eagle near its brow
O’er the abyss: his proud expanded wings
Lay calm and motionless upon the air,
As if he floated there without their aid,
By the sole act of his unlorded will,
I bent my bow, yet kept he rounding still
His airy circle, as if in great delight.
The death that threatened him, he knew it not,
I could not shoot!—’Twas liberty,
I turned my bow aside and let him soar away.
Passing along we were on the side of the lovely lake of Lucerne, and as it was after seven o’clock as we rounded the hillside, and passed the rocky precipices of the hills we could see the twinkling lights of the town some two miles away. We steamed into a beautiful station, I think Lucerne station, for beauty, for comfort, and arrangement, is the best we have seen on our lengthy tour. p. 147We alighted from the carriage on to a lovely platform. Porters in attendance, our luggage conveyed most expeditiously to the ’bus of the Hotel de L’Europe, and soon we were bowling along to that very delightful hotel. We found the place all that could be desired by the most scrupulous. We had an excellent bedroom, clean, dry and comfortable. Our luggage disposed of, a wash and brush, and away we go to enjoy a splendid table-de-hote. We did justice, I am sure, to the good things so abundantly provided, for there was no stint, no lack of variety, and served with great delicacy and tact. We were not long after we had had dessert before we began to feel we needed Nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep, and to bed we went. Seeing the nets for the mosquitoes were hanging on, we examined the room as far as we could and we came to the conclusion the room was void of the troublesome creatures. Sleep fell upon us sound and refreshing, when we awoke we found we had been the victims of the evil creatures, for we were both bitten in one or more places. Still, as the Yorkshire man said, “It mud a bin war.” We arose refreshed, and were anxious to see the Rigi mountain, and the still more popular Pilatus. First we drew the blinds, stepped out on to the balcony, we found a lovely garden under p. 148our window. It was beautifully laid out with flower beds and gravel walks. We stood and gazed, seeming to doubt if it was real, that we were really on earth. Could it be the Garden of Eden? It is like an exquisite dream. The scene seems to thrill like the sweetest chords of music. The hotel is like a palace, such lovely roses, charming walks, sculpture and vases on all sides, broad flights of stone steps leading in and out of the grounds to the hotel, and around the grounds massive trees with all manner of names. The Lake of Lucerne, just peeping through the trees, and the mountain ranges beyond, peak above peak covered with their snow white mantle made the scene entrancing. After we had tired our eyes with looking on the lovely landscape we went to enjoy our dejeuner of fish, fowl, bacon, eggs and coffee. We left our hotel for the first visit into the lovely town of Lucerne. It is not a large town but well built and kept very clean. The accommodation for getting about is good, by tram or ’bus or cab, and not too expensive. We soon found ourselves in the centre of an industry of silk and cotton works, making all kinds of fancy articles of ladies’ wear and of the very finest materials. Young girls sitting in the shop fronts, and, indeed, in the doorway, plying their needles and crocheting hooks. p. 149A large number are employed in this branch of industry. Also the shops for toys were strangely attractive, chiefly made of wood by the mountaineers, while waiting for parties. The Swiss guide lives in the rocky regions, has a cow or two, and two or three goats, and is prepared to be used as a guide, or he fills in his time with making boxes of all sizes and shapes, pipes, animals of various kinds, indeed, almost anything you can imagine he can carve out of wood, with his knife. Time is not very valuable, so he works away until he has completed his work, which finds its way into the shops and so, finally, gets to England, France or Germany, as a toy for boys’ or girls’ amusement. We soon found our way to the front of the Lake of Lucerne. It is a charming lake, the colour is simply indescribable, it is neither blue nor green, but a lovely tint made up of both. As we looked across this beautiful water we could see orchards and meadows sloping right down to the water’s brink. Straight in front stood the mighty mountain called the Rigi. As we stood awe struck with delight to watch the vapours chased away by the coming sun and the rugged face of the mountain laid bare in all its grandeur and power, the sun shed its glow over rock and tree, and the stony monarch seemed to salute you with a smile. p. 150On the other side, that is at our right hand, old Pilatus, rugged and bare, seemed to look down upon the lake with a frown, and between the two giant mountains we could see the wondrous Alps, peak upon peak in a wonderful variety, clad in their mantle of eternal snow. And now above us and around us is the sunshine of, to us, unusual brilliancy and a sky of faultless blue, not a single cloud to be seen anywhere. The picture is one that will never fade from our memories. It will enter into our life to remain a constant joy to think of.
It was our intention to go up by rail to the top of the Rigi or Pilatus or both, but other sights were so attractive that we kept putting off that pleasure, as there seemed to be doubts if, on the very summit, there might not be clouds to obscure the view, as the height of the Rigi is six thousand feet, the height of old Pilatus seven thousand feet, and there is an old saying put in rhyme that
“If Pilatus wears his cap, serene will be the day;
If his collar he puts on, you may venture on the way.
But if his sword he wields, at home you’d better stay.”
We ventured a visit up the Sonnenbergh. p. 151This is done by train, or it would be more correct to say by carriage, for the train consists of one carriage only. The engines seem to have their boilers tilted up on ends. The railway has a central rail which is cogged, and into this endless cog fits a wheel underneath the engine. This is really the driving wheel by which it slowly moves up the steep gradient. We passed farms, orchards and plantations, up and up. It is a curious sensation to find yourself steadily moving up without any effort of your own, but still up we went until we landed on a lovely plateau, with a charming hotel. The view from this mountain height was beyond description. We left the train and wandered into the woods and viewed our surroundings. I had a camera with me so must get one or two pictures. We were ready to return by the next train after being up almost in the clouds for two hours. Our curious old steamer soon put us in safety again by the side of the lake, and from here we made our way to our hotel for some refreshments and for a rest. Again leaving our good “hostel” we visited the Glacier Gardens, these are now enclosed and protected, and a small p. 152fee is charged to see the natural wonders of this lovely and picturesque scenery. At the very entrance you see what is called “The Lion Monument.” It is cut out of the solid rock.
The glacier gardens: The Lion of Lucerne: The glacier mill holes: The museum: The Bridge over the Reuss: The Cathedral: Pilatus Mountain: Leaving Lucerne: Zurich: Lake of Zurich: Zwingli, the reformer.
As we entered the Glacier Gardens our eyes were at once drawn to this massive and very interesting and pathetic piece of sculpture, “The Lion of Lucerne.” The smooth face of this quarry is about fifty feet high, and it looks to be about as wide, it is overshadowed by some very nice trees and climbing plants. It is protected by a wooden rail, so you could not, if you so wished, carve your name on the rocky surface. In the very centre of this vast square is a wounded and dying lion. The size in stone (for it is really a part of the rock itself) is about twenty-eight feet in length. It was hewn by the order and from a model by the renowned Danish sculptor, Morwalsden, and was finished in the year 1821. This famous masterpiece is dedicated to the memory of the Swiss Guards of Louis XVI., p. 154who fell a prey to the fury of the populace, as they retreated unarmed into the French Tuileries. The sculptured figure is in a lying position, and a broken arrow or spear is in its side. I don’t remember ever being so impressed with an object in stone as I was by this. It has an expression of the deepest grief, and such as must have moved many to tears. Above the figure you may read (as it is carved into the rock) the following words: “To the fidelity and bravery of the Swiss.” Beneath it the names of the twenty-six officers who fell on that terrible day. Passing into the gardens we were soon beside one of the glacier pots or holes. These glacier pots or mill holes were discovered in the year 1872, and it is asserted by geologists that they were formed in far past ages. One of them, Albert Heim, says: “I hereby testify both as a geologist and an eye witness of the first unexpected discovery, as also of the subsequent careful excavations of this wonderful phenomenon, that the hand of man had nothing to do with the formation of these glacier mills and polished surface of the glacier, nor with the erratic boulders that lie about, or in those mill holes, but that we have here to deal with a marvellous operation of p. 155free organic nature, a relic of a time when these countries were not inhabited by man.” In those days almost the whole of Switzerland and, indeed, the greatest part of the Northern Hemisphere was buried under immense masses of ice, as can now be proved with the greatest certainty, with here and there an oasis inhabited by animals long ago extinct. Our attention was drawn to a large hole in the solid rock almost round, and the sides quite smooth and about eight or ten feet deep, and at the bottom a large boulder or stone, also smooth. This hole is made by the whirling of the stone round and round by the force of melting ice, causing the waters to flow in strong descending streams. It is thus these glacier mills are formed. In these gardens are quite a number of these interesting specimens of the work of Nature in the far past ages. The largest of all the mill stones we saw, was one which weighs over five tons. This having in some remote age, been whirled round and round like a toy. There are also some large boulders carried by the glaciers from the high Alps and left here. We also found some very fine specimens of fossils and ferns that had been petrified into stone. We left this most interesting p. 156part of the gardens and mounted up a large number of steps to the imitation of a lovely little Swiss Chalet, surrounded by tall trees which seem to be growing out of the side of the rocky eminence on which the Chalet is perched. It is called “An Alpine Cottage.” The president of the Alpine Club describes it thus: “This cottage, cleverly and accurately imitated, gives us a true picture of these highland places of refuge. Not many men, and still fewer women, are enabled to see such a building in its airy district. Here it is, within reach of every one in perfect imitation of the real thing, inside and out. Even the inscription, here dedicated to the section Pilatus is not wanting. Let us walk in! The hut contains that homely furniture, those poor and scanty utensils, the view of which, however, is so welcome to him who, in the evening twilight, tired and weary, enters the hospitable and friendly space, and makes use of them to take his frugal meal. Let us go to the window! O wonder! what a sight! We are, as if by magic, transported to God’s beautiful world of the Alps. We stand far above the glacier which descends majestically from the land of eternal snow. It requires a long time and a close observation to p. 157realize that this is an illusion. The foreground is a plastic formation as in a panorama. All the characteristics of the world of glaciers are wonderfully rendered with scientific accuracy.” I have here given in his own words the description of this most wonderful imitation of a Swiss Cottage and its surroundings. The museum is one that would give entertainment and information to an enquirer after knowledge for some time, particularly in geology and the condition of our race in these regions in the far back past. Instruments of defence made of stone or flint or of bone. These have all been discovered in the immediate neighbourhood and preserved. A pick axe made of flint, chisels of flint stone, sling-stones, lance-like instruments, earthenware vessels, carbonized wheat, half of an apple petrified, hand hatchet of bone, knife of bone, dagger of bone, dagger of horn, shovel of stag’s horn, tumbler of horn, shuttle made of bear’s teeth, sewing needle, very crude, made of bird’s bone. In another part of the museum there are groups of the animals of the Alps. The otter, the eagle, the horned owl, the bearded vulture, a group of Alpine hares, a wild boar, a group of bears, a pole cat, the common ibex, foxes, Alpine jackdaw, wild cats, sea p. 158swallow, the chamois, the St. Bernard dog, and many other interesting relics of past ages, preserved for the pleasure and benefit of the present generation. A fine collection of the mountain ferns are to be seen in their richness and beauty, with notices of the places in the Alps where they may be found. There is the ice grotto, which we did not descend to see, but we were greatly pleased with our visit to this very interesting place. Before leaving the gardens I took a snap-shot of my dear little wife on the bridge, crossing from the glacier gardens to the Alpine Chalet. We visited several other places of interest in the town, one, particularly, attracted our attention. It is a very old bridge over the river Reuss. It has stood against “the iron tooth of time which devours men and their works together,” for about four hundred years. Anything more quaint I think I never saw. It is covered in and is in length about one hundred yards. In the triangular spaces formed by the beams that go to support the roof, pictures have been painted, I should think for the amusement of passers over, as they are not, as a whole, very edifying. I should say, perhaps, two hundred paintings are to be found on the bridge. There are some that may claim p. 159some merit; these are representations of the various battles and victories by the Swiss armies. About the centre of the bridge is a curiosity shop or bazaar, containing toys, bronzes, etc. Hastening across, for time began to be valuable, as we had seen so little of this wonderful city, and our time for leaving grew near, we needed to use the time left us wisely and well. The old cathedral must be visited. We had, however, seen so many, it hardly seemed likely this one would be at all interesting, but we determined to pay it a visit; and, although there is much about it that is similar to others we had seen, still there is a difference. On the outside and near the entrance is a large metal plaque in bronze, with a large cross on which is an image of the suffering Saviour, and a good number of names of persons deceased, who had left the instructions for the erection of the tablet. Inside, the usual array of bowls of holy water, confessional boxes, candles burning on the altar. There is also some very fine sculpture in marble, also some very fine pictures by the old masters. Of course it is Roman Catholic, consequently the priest is in evidence everywhere. We left the church with feelings that a great deal of the religion of the p. 160Roman Catholics, as we have seen it on the continent, is a soulless religion. It has a framework but no soul. We really hoped, before leaving Lucerne, to have gone up the Pilatus mountain, as from there we understand, can be had a splendid view of the Bernese hills, the highest of which is the Tomlishorn, about seven thousand feet. It used to be most difficult to climb the Pilatus, but now it is easy and safe. It used to be associated with legends of hobgoblins, fairies, dragons, etc. It is said to get its name from Pontius Pilate, who crucified the Christ, after which he was so smitten with remorse that he fled the Judean country and found his way to Switzerland, finding here in this awe inspiring mountain, a fit place to close his wretched career, and in a tiny lake near on the summit, he ended his miserable life. There is still a superstition abroad that his spirit, in its restlessness, visits this mountain periodically, and may be seen washing its hands as we read “And when Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see ye to it.” Matthew, chapter 27, verse 24. It may, p. 161however, be only imaginary, but superstition dies hard in such lonely localities. As we could not visit its summit this time, we must content ourselves with viewing it in the distance. And now our time in this lovely city closes. Our stay has been of the pleasantest; the manager of our hotel (The Hotel de L’Europe) has been to us the very essence of kindness; even the mosquitoes were fairly generous, only on one or two occasions have they troubled us. So we packed up, paid our bills and left, very reluctantly. It was on a very lovely morning we bade adieu to the most pleasant and enjoyable scenery of the lakes and mountains around the pretty town of Lucerne. Having boarded the train our first impulse was to get snugly into a corner and live over again the past few days, but the scenery around us was of such a character, we could not rest in forgetfulness of things passing. We could see in the distance the great Jura mountains. Then near to us homely, lovely scenery; there a little stone farm and farmyard, a little stream flowing by, the farmer’s maid on an iron bridge spanning the stream, giving the whole surroundings a picture of rusticity. A little further and we see an old mill, with its massive wheel p. 162in motion and the miller’s man in dusty garments, standing with his arms akimbo, giving orders for the unloading of a heavily laden mule wagon; around us is forest and field in pleasing variety. We are not very long before we near the lake of Zurich, which is very extensive, and like all the Swiss lakes, it is very beautiful. Then to Zurich. I was greatly surprised at the importance and the accommodation at and about the railway station. I think it was one of the best we had seen, and for attractiveness I should say the finest. The town itself is of importance, having a population of over one hundred and twenty thousand people. From the railway the city shows itself well, as a part of it is built on the side of a rocky eminence, with the River Limmet running at the foot. Indeed, this river divides the town, the upper and lower Zurich. There are six bridges (and they know how to make useful and beautiful bridges on the continent). Three are used for carriages, wagons, etc., and the other three only for foot passengers. The streets in Zurich are very narrow, crooked and dirty. On the hill stands conspicuously, a grand Cathedral, the Grosse Minster; of course, it is a Roman Cathedral, but it is, I p. 163learn, very rich in sculpture and pictures, although, I fear, very poor in that which should make any church rich—the Divine in-dwelling. There is a very fine Post Office, and all the modern appliances and conveniences for the acceleration of information. It is a very ancient town, indeed, it was, as history tells us, at one time a Roman city. Zwingli, the great Swiss reformer, played an important part in the history of Zurich. It was then the centre of the reformation in Switzerland, and Zwingli was leader. He was a contemporary with Martin Luther. He had studied at Basle and Bern, and was made parish priest in 1506. He was a great student of Holy Scripture; it is said he copied the epistles of St. Paul in Greek and committed them to memory wholly. He accompanied the Pope’s army against France as a Chaplain, and was granted a pension by the Pope for his sympathetic attention to the wounded and the dying. His knowledge of the Bible led him to examine closely into the teaching of the Romish Church and he, led doubtless by the good Spirit of God, discovered many things his conscience could not approve amongst them—the sale of indulgences. He wrote a work of great importance condemning the feasts of the p. 164Church, also against the worship of images, the mass, the confessional, and other abuses he conceived existed. In 1524 he married a lady of standing and importance, by this act he broke away from the Romish Church and incurred the Pope’s displeasure. Soon after this he joined the German Reformers; at that time Martin Luther was leader. Zwingli’s Bible was to him everything, he found in it complete and unbroken rest to his soul. To him it was the one only ground of appeal, also the test of faith and practice. On minor points such as baptism and sacraments, Luther and he did not see eye to eye; but on the main points of Christian theology and general church discipline they were in agreement. He fought and fell in a war between Zurich Canton and the Roman Catholic Cantons of Switzerland, in the year 1531. His great battle cry was “my countrymen, trust in God.” Our stay at Zurich was only short, we soon found ourselves en route for Basle.
From Zurich to Basle: Arrival in Basle: Our Hotel: Our visit to the Rhine Bridge: “The Watch on the Rhine”: The Market: The Cathedral and its sculpture, etc.: Erasmus: The Museum: The Zoological gardens: Leaving Basle: Arrival at Belfort: Belfort besieged.
As we journeyed from Zurich, we felt we were leaving behind us sights we might never see again. A certain poet’s words came to my memory:
Though bigots condemn thee:
My tongue finds no words
For the graces that gem thee!
Beaming with sunlight,
Streaming with gay delight,
Full as a river.
Bright world! Brave world!
Let cavaliers blame thee,
I bless thee and bend
To the God that did frame thee.”
Between Zurich and Basle we contrived to get a little relief from the excitement of new scenes. We had really been surfeited p. 166almost with the richness and beauty of our surroundings for so long a time that it was a relief to allow the train to speed on, and to get into a corner and contemplate and rest. We arrived at Basle in the afternoon, and found it a great railway centre, and indeed, a very important town, both for commercial men and for pleasure seekers. It is a great centre for cyclists, as there are at least forty castles to be seen within a radius of fifty miles. You can be in Germany in about twenty minutes. From the north, east and west, a number of the most important lines of central Europe are focussed here, and swelling to a mighty mass, branch off again in every direction to the interior of Switzerland. Thus inner Switzerland is laid open to the world’s traffic and pleasure. The surroundings of the city are very pretty, and we saw it when it was most charming, i.e., when the autumn tints are seen. Here we see field and forest around this grand old city in all the glory of the season’s attractions. We were advised by the manager of our hotel in Lucerne, to go to the Hotel Victoria in Basle, so we secured the usual fakeno to carry our luggage across, for it is only about two hundred yards from the station. We were, p. 167however, disappointed in the hotel and its management. They were neither obliging nor scrupulously true or honest, the very worst treatment we met with in all our travels.
However, our stay was short, so we determined to make the best of it, the bedroom was good; and, although close by the station, we slept well. We decided to see the city the day following; and going out, we soon found it to be a great centre of commerce. It has a population of about one hundred and thirty thousand inhabitants. Great silk factories rear their heads in the centre of this great city. There are also manufacturies of chemicals, tobacco, machinery, etc.; also some very large breweries. It is said to be the wealthiest town in Europe, measured by its population. It has plenty of open-air spaces, as parks, gardens and monuments; cool avenues and well trimmed gardens are plentiful in the suburbs. We went to see the wonderful Rhine which flows through Basle, and we stood on that wonderfully constructed bridge of which the poet writes:
Dear fatherland, no danger thine,
Firm stand thy sons to watch the Rhine!
They stand a hundred thousand strong,
Quick to revenge their country’s wrong;
With filial love their bosoms swell,
They’ll guard the sacred land, mark well.
While flows one drop of German blood,
A sword remains to guard thy flood.
While rifle rests in patriot’s hand,
No foe shall tread thy sacred strand!
Our oath resounds, the river flows,
In golden light our banner glows,
Our hearts will guard thy stream divine;
The Rhine, the Rhine, the glorious Rhine!”
For some time we stood and watched the rolling river flow by until tired of watching, we left after I had taken a snap-shot, and retracing our steps to the market, a place of peculiar interest, as everything seems different from our English ways. The stalls are set out differently, and their fruits, vegetables, pots, flowers and shoes, indeed almost everything you can need, we saw in the great space of the market here in Basle. p. 169The curious customs, dresses, language and money were all strange; and we thought the dress of the country folk was very quaint and queer. We spent sometime in looking over this great place, so many things offer attractions; without however, making any purchases save a few post-cards and a little fruit for our immediate use. We strolled on to the principal streets to note some of the very fine buildings that adorn the city. The Post Office is an imposing building, I should say it was partly ancient and partly modern. It is a Gothic building and seems to be well suited for, and capable of dealing with the work it has to do. The House of Parliament, or shall I say Government House, in the great market square, to look at it, it seems to rise terrace-like, up to the Martin’s Grasse; in the centre of each terrace is a court, round which the halls and the various offices are grouped. There is a fine statue close by the stairs representing a Roman pro-Consul, who had to do with the founding of the city. Of course, we must see the Cathedral. In all the continental cities there is a Duomo or Cathedral, and many of them are well worth a visit. The Cathedral of Basle stands on an elevation p. 170and consequently shows itself well. It has two steeples, not very lofty but very pretty. It dates from the year 1010, but has been restored and very nearly re-built, as there was a great fire which destroyed a large part of it in the year 1185. Again, in the year 1356, there was an earthquake, so serious that the vault of the central nave fell in, and the upper portion of the choir was thrown into the Rhine. Over the entrance is a fine stone gallery, and above this a very large window, with Madonna and Child in fine colours. There are several fine pieces of statuary inside. The Emperor Henry II. and his Consort Kunigundi, in colossal figures. To the left of one of the steeples is St. George in the act of killing the dragon. To the right, or St. Martin’s steeple, is a figure of St. Martin sharing his cloak with a poor beggar. On the side of the nave are some very fine works of art in sculpture, such as four life-size figures of the “Four Evangelists”; there is St. Peter and St. Paul; “The Seven Wise and Seven Foolish Virgins”; “Christ, as Judge of the World”; “John the Baptist and John the Evangelist.” Above these are seen angels blowing their trumpets; the dead arising from their graves and preparing p. 171for judgment; over the doorway inside, “The Wheel of Fortune.” There is an absence of the confessional, the Holy Water and other symbols of the weakness of the faith of the Roman Catholics. We were greatly interested with our visit to this, one more of the Continental Cathedrals, and especially so as one of the men who played some part in the great reformation lies buried here, I refer to Erasmus. He was a learned divine of the fourteenth century. He published some very fine pastorals and works of theology, that even now are considered worthy of reading. It does not seem that he ever joined Martin Luther in his crusade against the Pope and Popery in general, but he became a staunch protestant. It is said that King Henry VIII. offered him a church in Oxford. He travelled much, visiting Rome, Venice, England and Paris. He ended his days here in Basle, and in the sacred precincts of the Cathedral his dust reposes. The “blue house” is an attractive building; it was the residence of the Emperor and Empress of Austria during the war of liberation, at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It has a fine front and commands a full view of the river Rhine. The museum is one of the p. 172quaintest and strangest I have ever seen. It is said to be the most interesting museum in Switzerland. I cannot pretend to tabulate all there is to be seen here, only indicate some of the most curious: “The dance of death,” “Tankards,” “Bowls,” “Carved Altars of curious designs,” but very costly; the gold and silver plate belonging to the Cathedral, many trophies taken in war and weapons also. There are ancient household implements; also several important heirlooms of Erasmus; some fine figures of Samson and Delilah are to be seen at the entrance.
“The Strassburg Monument” in the Elizabeth Gardens, close to the Central Railway Station, is a fine sculpture in white marble (I took a snap-shot) by Bartholdi, and was presented to the city by Baron Herve de Gringer, in commemoration of the assistance given by the Swiss in 1870, to the citizens of Strassburg when sorely pressed by the enemy. The Zoological Gardens of Basle are very extensive, and so far as I know, are the only gardens of this description in Switzerland. The way to it is full of beauty and interest. There is also another place some people might think important, we did not—that is the Crematorium. Many other places of interest in and around this fine old p. 173city, we had not time to visit, our time being limited. We could not help being struck with the fact that the ancient landmarks of this old world city are fast disappearing, and old buildings being pulled down and new palatial ones being erected on all hands. The crumbling walls of the middle ages are fallen; the moats are all filled in; narrow streets and alleys are being swept away in the onward march of time; and the broad squares and commodious dwelling houses are being put up. The beauty after all, is the rolling river Rhine. We closed our account at the hotel, wrote up our journals and prepared to leave this interesting old city. We left our hotel early in the morning, and were soon seated in a train for Belfort, in France. We had to cross the Rhine over a fine railway bridge, and as we crossed it we had a good view of the river as it rolled past. It comes through Alsace and Lorraine, the territory ceded by France to Germany after the great victory achieved by the latter, in the year 1870. The scenery, since leaving Switzerland, is less rugged and mountainous, but the foliage, in its autumn colours, is very pretty. A couple of hours brought us to the town of Belfort. It has now p. 174a population of about thirty thousand. We could see first of all, it was well fortified. The castle has a fine appearance in the distance, as it stands on a rocky eminence; something like our castle here in Nottingham. There is a fine old parish church (the religious element is well represented wherever we find ourselves). It is a manufacturing centre, especially for mats, but also wax tapers. There are several large breweries. This town was surrounded by the Germans in the great Franco-German war of 1870. But month after month it bravely, resolutely withstood all their attempts at capture; and although both food and ammunition became scanty, they still held on, until by sheer force of lack of provisions, they capitulated in February, 1871, to the great satisfaction of the Germans, and to the chagrin of the proud French. The Germans, in their generosity, and as a recognition of the bravery of the French soldiers, allowed them to march out of the town with full military honours. It is one of the towns that closely border Alsace and Lorraine of the Haut Rhin that was left to the French at the annexation in February, 1871.
At Marseilles: Our Hotel; Meeting Mr. and Mrs. Green and Mrs. Martin: The sights of the City: The Cathedral, etc.: En route for Mentone: Toulon: Passing Nice: Cannes: Arrival at Mentone: Our Hotel: Meeting Mr. and Miss Brown: The scenery, etc.: Visit to Monte Carlo.
Our visit to Marseilles was made in the earlier part of the year, also to the Riviera. On reaching Marseilles after a long and tedious journey, we proceeded to the “Grand Hotel du Louvre et Paix,” that we had previously arranged should be our stopping place, during our stay in the city. The hotel ’bus was at the station and we were soon safely inside and our baggage on the top; through some rambling streets we soon found ourselves at an hotel of no mean pretensions. The front is facing a very fine street, and is of massive proportions. Inside is even better than the outside. Everything up-to-date; lovely chandeliers with electric light; mirrors, carpets of the richest and best quality; writing rooms, coffee rooms, dining rooms and several hundreds of bed rooms. We just looked round and got the p. 176number of our bed room and were about to step into the lift, which had just descended, when to our surprise we met face to face, a dear old friend of ours, Mrs. Martin, of Glasgow, and she was apparently as much surprised to see us. We hurried through our toilet and went down stairs to learn why she was here alone. She told us her father, G. Green, Esq. (a very dear and almost life-long friend of ours) was returning from a visit to America and the West Indies, and she expected him and Mrs. Green arriving at Marseilles at once; indeed, she was just going down to the docks to see if the boat was in. In the meantime we had lunch, which just then was very necessary and most acceptable. We wanted to see a bit of the city, as our time was limited, and we could ill afford to lose any of it. We found the shops fairly good, but prices very high for anything that was worth having. We omitted spending at present, so went back to our hotel where we met Mr. and Mrs. Green to our great surprise and pleasure. After the usual salutations, etc., we wanted to know each other’s programme, to see if we could not have at least a few days together. We had arranged to go on to Mentone, and had booked hotel beforehand; they had decided, with Mrs. Martin, to go to Cannes the same p. 177day, so we arranged to return from Mentone earlier than we had thought, and visit Cannes; and they arranged to stay at Cannes till we arrived, and have at least two days with us. So they left us for Cannes after having some refreshments. We further explored the city; the population now numbers nearly half a million, it is the next largest city in France save Paris. There is a grand Triumphal Arch not far from the railway termini, erected to commemorate the French campaign in Spain. The docks are most extensive, as they cover an area of about one hundred and seventy acres, and they must have cost many millions of pounds sterling. On the south side of the city may be seen, a long distance off, “The Notre Dame de la Garde.” It stands on a bare rock hill. To reach it you pass through an enclosure protected by iron railings, you take tickets and get into an elevator which quickly raises you over three hundred feet. From here, however, you have to reach this curious old Cathedral by many steps. When you have just gained the summit, there is a very fine view of the city at your feet, and of the Mediterranean Sea, with the graceful curves of the coast line lending enchantment to the view. The island of Monte Cristo is also well in sight, reminding you of Dumas’ novel. It is said p. 178that, on the spot where this church stands, the Druids celebrated their crafts and mysteries. Inside there are some very fine columns of blue marble from the Alps. The ceilings and walls are hung with pious offerings, commemorating strange deliverances at sea. There is an image of the Virgin in the shape of a flying mermaid, appearing to a ship in a storm. The Cornish Road or Chemin de Centure, is a great attraction, as it runs along the coast for a long distance, indeed, it is said to run along the coast to Naples, following the sea all the way; curving and jutting out, just as the sea has apparently found the bays and the promontories. The principal streets of Marseilles are very broad, and there is some lovely architecture. I give a picture, as I took the snap-shot of what stands at the junction of three or four of their main streets. The city is well surrounded by hills, covered with vineyards and oliveyards; and the country round, for some distance, is specked with white country houses. Our stay is of short duration, so good-bye to the port, to the shops, to the Cathedral. Our hotel bill is to be settled, and, this done, the great lumbering ’bus is awaiting us. We say adieu to our French waiters, boots and Concierge, and are soon at the railway p. 179station and in the train for Mentone. Leaving Marseilles we noticed the scenery began to be rugged and rocky, for some distance. The sea, however, was a great attraction, the blue Mediterranean is I think always pleasing to look at; and we could feel the pure bracing air as it came up from the sea. About two hours brought us to an important station called Toulon. This is said to be the Plymouth of France. The dockyard and fleet of Toulon were destroyed by a British force under Sir Sidney Smith, detached from the fleet of Lord Hood, in November, 1793. There is a wonderful history attached to this city, which I have neither the time nor the disposition to enter upon. Our train was delayed here, so I dismounted to get some oranges, when, to my dismay, the train moved on and left me hatless on an open platform. However, I found it was only to move to the tank to take water. In ten minutes’ time it returned, so set at rest my little wife’s troubles and my own. We soon left behind us this apparently prosperous and busy town, and were again surrounded by hills and the sea. Landscapes of bays and promontories, rocks and ravines. To my mind I have seen nothing in all my travels (and I have been over four continents) to equal the stretch of coast and country p. 180from Marseilles to Mentone. It is beyond all question the loveliest part of the fair land of France. On all sides as the train steams along it is pretty, gay and captivating, as the sunny shores are washed by the rolling sea, and an azure sky is overhead; and beyond, in the background, you can occasionally see lines of lofty hills crowned with eternal snow. As we passed the various stations, as Nice, the scenery becomes richer and more beautiful. Lovely avenues bordered with flowers, winding through the plain; and shady footpaths meandering among fields of asphodel and lavender. As we passed St. Raphael Station we noticed a very peculiar formation of the sea-shore. On we sped through the most beautiful scenery, palm trees began to seem plentiful; the first I saw looked so lovely I took my camera and got a snap-shot; but as we proceeded they became quite common. At Nice, the races were just over, and we saw numerous horses and horsemen leaving the race course. We had passed Cannes, and after which, Monte Carlo, and soon reached our destination where we remained for a few days (Mentone). We had selected, as was our custom, a hotel beforehand, this time it was “Hotel de Mentone.” So on the arrival of our train in the station we looked p. 181out for the hotel omnibus. We were surrounded by porters to carry our baggage, and almost a quarrel ensued which should have the job. However, we were conducted to the ’bus and very quickly driven to the hotel named. We found it all we could wish, indeed, the most comfortable and best managed we had found in all our travels. The manager, M. C. Husson, is the very acme of kindness and attention, our wants seemed to be anticipated and met most expeditiously. Our bedroom, large and airy, facing and within one hundred yards of the blue Mediterranean; the garden full of the most lovely palm trees. My little wife said: “this is like paradise.” The climate of this lovely town is very mild, and fogs, they tell us, are unknown. It is surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, consequently no north or east winds affect them; the hills intervening between these Alpine Mountains and the town and the sea, are covered with gardens of the orange tree (in full fruitage when we saw them January 18th); also the lemon and olive tree. Mentone is a favourite winter resort for English visitors.
In our hotel we found some interesting people, some of them from England; and those who could speak English were to us, more than usually interesting. We seemed p. 182to be specially drawn toward a lady and gentleman from Southend-on-Sea—a Mr. Brown and Miss Brown, his daughter. She made herself particularly useful and nice to my little wife. We were strangers, and all about us a strange tongue was spoken and new customs in vogue. Miss Brown most kindly offered her aid at any time and on any point that was desired. This was most gratefully accepted, and in a few days we were fast friends. A correspondence has been kept up since we left, so that in all likelihood the friendship formed in Mentone will be continuous and pleasant. We took our walks each morning along the fine promenade in the clear fresh sunshine and bracing sea breeze, so we could feel we were gaining strength and getting a real good bracing up. We took lunch, more than once, at a sweet little Swiss restaurant, everything was scrupulously clean and sweet. We visited the Park Gardens, where the band was every day discoursing sweet music. These gardens are filled on two sides with orange trees; and as we passed them the fruit was just lovely, ripe and ready for plucking. The borders and beds were full of the most beautiful flowers in full bloom. I got two or three snapshots of this pretty place and surroundings.
We visited the p. 183cemetery on the hillside. It is difficult to reach, as there are so many steps, but it is well worth a visit. Here are laid to rest the dust of many generations. We found marble monuments in memory of several English residents, who had died in Mentone and were buried here. The graves or mausoleums are carefully kept. Flowers bloom most luxuriantly, and intertwine themselves in and around the sculpture on all sides. Some graves have, built over them, a small tent or room, which is adorned with pictures and filled with flowers. Here the relations of the deceased come, and seem to commune with the departed; at any rate they find some kind of solace in spending a little time near the sacred dust of loved ones. We visited the Market Place, and on market day too, to see the costers from the country in dresses quaint and queer, with their donkeys and carts of the rudest make. One would really have liked to have laughed at their simplicity. The fruit, flowers and vegetables were of a very fine quality; nothing so large in England. New potatoes in January, and new green peas, tomatoes; indeed, everything that our gardens will produce in June, they get here in January. Monte Carlo is only a few miles from Mentone, and there is a tram running; so we determined to pay a visit to p. 184this interesting place before we left the Riviera. A lovely day found us on the tram en route for Monte Carlo. Up the hillsides our tram went, and round some curves that to us seemed dangerous, across some deep ravines, ascending, then descending, for the road is along the rocky mountain side. In about forty minutes we reached this place of notoriety. It is certainly one of the loveliest places under the sun. Someone has said “it is my ideal, in outward appearance, of what heaven will be.” Words are too poor to paint the beauties of Monte Carlo. Some of the places in my native county, Derbyshire, such as “Lovers’ Leap,” “Monsale Dale,” “High Tor,” and others, but on a small and insignificant scale, remind me of the Riviera, only the sea and climate is lacking.
Monte Carlo: Its Casino and gardens: Leave taking at Mentone of Mr. and Miss Brown: Arrival at Cannes: Meeting Mr. and Mrs. Green: Cannes, its scenery, etc.: Visit to Grasse: Journey to Paris: London: Home, Sweet Home.
It seems as if Nature had lavished her richest treasures on Monte Carlo. Its terraces covered with palms; its orange groves and oliveyards; its massive hotels of marble; its azure sky and ever blue Mediterranean sparkling at its foot. Then there is the Casino, “the gambling hell,” as it has been called. A building upon which no money or care has been spared to make it an attraction, and it has undoubtedly been a success, for thousands throng its rooms daily. We had no difficulty in getting inside. I presented my card to an official in braided coat, who, when he saw it, and had given a look at us, I presume, thought it would be safe to give us admission, and took us to a ticket box where the usual entrance ticket was granted, and we were admitted inside. Oh! what a scene! Tables covered with p. 186green baize and marked with figures; the gamblers or players crowded round every table, staking mostly five franc pieces; sometimes one five franc piece and sometimes five. Two men representing the bank with hooks or rakes, drew in the cash, as the Roulette declared for the bank; the winners raking their gains in as the tale of the Roulette was in their favour. The faces of the players were a study and tempted one to moralize and try to predict the effect of this sort of thing on the character of the gamblers. It is an awful thing to be caught in the clutches of a gambling saloon—this one in particular. There are many tables, all full; and crowds round waiting for an opportunity. We went through the vast building, it is richly carpeted and the upholstering is of the best; settees, mirrors, chandeliers, etc., all give to it an appearance of wealth. Monte Carlo is in the territory of Monaco, which is the smallest independent state in Europe at least. It only covers about eight square miles. It formerly included Mentone and Roccabruna, but these have been ceded to France for four million francs. The Palace of the Prince is on the promontory or rock just below the Casino. p. 187Surrounding it are some lovely gardens, and the appearance of some protection in the shape of cannon, etc.; these, however, would be useless if they were ever needed. It is said that his chief revenue is from the Casino, which pays him about two hundred thousand pounds per annum. The population under the Prince is now about ten thousand. I took a snap-shot or two, and we strolled about until weary, then we found our way to the tram and in about an hour were in our hotel enjoying table-de-hote. Our time for leaving Mentone had arrived, and again we packed, at least, my little wife did. We said good-bye, with reluctance, to a place that had given us so much pleasure; also to our new found friends—specially Miss Brown—my dear wife had grown quite fond of her. I think it was because she showed such kindness to us when we arrived, also she spoke English; and that, in itself, attracts an Englishman when away from home. The leave taking between them was quite affectionate and, doubtless, correspondence will follow. We left Mentone in the lovely sunshine, and from under the lovely palm trees, and were soon passing Monaco, Monte Carlo and Nice. We p. 188reached Cannes all safe and sound. A lovely motor carriage was at our disposal for the “Hotel de la Plage.” We were met by our old friend—George Green, Esq., and his good wife and daughter, Mrs. Martin, who also had a friend with her from Glasgow, Mrs. Giles. They gave us a hearty welcome to our hotel, second to none on the continent, I think, and lovely for situation, close by the sea; and surrounded with the most lovely semi-tropical plants, as the photo or snap-shot shows. We enjoyed the two or three days immensely with our friends in this lovely spot; for Cannes is lovely. The Bay of Cannes surpasses, it is said, the Bay of Naples for beauty. “Then there is the Cape of Antibes, with its gardens of dreamland and fairies!” The Estrel, with its profound solitude, and with its masses of red porphyry, like buildings erected by the Titians; with its arid soil covered with crooked pines, raising their branches towards the pure azure sky. Cannes is said to be a vast garden, where the flowers are scattered in profusion by Nature with a lavish and never wearying hand. There is also the orange, the lemon, the oleander, the pepper plant, and the palm tree; all p. 189growing side by side with the olive, the oak, and the stone pine. Of Cannes, it is said: “She is the daughter of the Sirens, and sprang into existence one morning under the glowing kisses of the sun.” It has had a chequered history, but it is now merged into the liberty of a gay and prosperous town of thirty-five thousand inhabitants.
Over twenty thousand visitors come to Cannes for the winter to escape the northern fogs and frosts. Mr. Green and I strolled the Promenade and talked over olden times. The ladies enjoyed their tete-a-tete and their shopping expeditions; so the days slipped quickly away and we must lose our friends, who go to Marseilles, then by sea to Glasgow. So again we say good-bye, expecting, however, to meet again soon in London. They leave early for Marseilles in order to catch their steamer. We visited Grasse the day after they left us. This is about twenty miles from Cannes by rail, and it lies up in the mountains; it is about one thousand feet above the sea level, yet it is surrounded by the Alps, at least east and north. The town has a population about fifteen thousand, and is built on the slope of a hill. It is steep climbing up from the p. 190station. Facing the town is a lovely valley or plain, where they cultivate flowers. The town is largely supported by the manufacturing of scent. There are several factories; one factory sends away over eleven million francs worth of scents yearly. It is a town of great interest. It has a fine old Cathedral, also some fairly good shops. The streets being on the hillside are not easy to walk along. Our stay was only for a few hours, but long enough to satisfy us; the place was health-giving and very interesting. On arriving at our hotel in Cannes we were tired; so after the usual table-de-hote and rest, we went to bed early, as the following morning we were to pack up and go. After the usual tips, bill settling, etc., we left Cannes and its many attractions, and as we rounded the bay we could see the town for miles with its white hotels, etc., amidst the luxuriant palm trees. We soon lost sight of the town and were spinning over deep ravines with rugged sides; there with jutting spurs of rock; here the sea pushing up in inlets and creeks, sparkling in the rays of the southern sun. Our train hurried us away from scenes of such perfect loveliness, p. 191past Toulon, and about 7.30 we reached Marseilles. Here we met again Mrs. Martin and her friend Mrs. Giles. We only stayed here about half-an-hour, but we began to feel the change in the atmosphere, and our rugs were brought into use, as we were travelling all night. About midnight we reached Lyons, and on looking out we found the snow was falling thick and fast. Oh! what a change in a few hundred miles! The sunny south was now behind us, and again we must face the biting frost and snow of winter.
We reached Paris about 11 a.m., and soon found our way to “Hotel du Nord.” We spent a night at the “Magenta Hotel,” where we found friends in Dr. Mochwyn Hughes and his sister, who were going into Switzerland. We decided to “do Paris,” as they say, in a motor. So we engaged one and were quickly through some of the busy streets of this wonderful city. We visited Notre Dame, of course, and went inside. There was a funeral cortege, and the mourners sitting by the bier; while the priests, with their incantations, mummeries and ceremonies, and genuflections, just by. We felt how little was the comfort to be had here p. 192for the grief stricken relatives. From here we passed the great Eiffel Tower, the Bourse, the Louvre, the Tuileries, the Champs Elysees, the Bois de Boulogne, and the New Opera House. The Pont Neuf or the New Bridge over the Seine. Then to the tomb where lies all that remains of the great Napoleon. Here, with uncovered heads, we gazed into the grand mausoleum, and were constrained to moralize on the vanity of human ambition; and of how short-lived and unsatisfactory all worldly wealth, pomp and pleasure. We passed the Pantheon and several places of great interest, but time flies and we must away from Paris. My wife, however, had become quite friendly and even affectionate with Miss Hughes, so at parting there was the usual promise of postcards, etc. We spent a little time with Mrs. Martin and her French friend, then to the railway, and in a few hours ride we found ourselves once again in Calais. We were not long in finding our way to the boat, our travels had made us quite experts in getting from boat to train and from train to boat. My little wife had to go below; Mrs. Martin, who travelled with us, bravely stood it. p. 193However, we faced the sea bravely because we knew that beyond it lay our home and loved ones anticipating our home-coming. I spent my time on deck, and really got a good blow from the briny. We landed at Dover safe and well; and, after a very little time, we were on the train, bound for the great city of London. It was dark as we travelled through the country, so we could not see the places of interest. We were glad to reach the “Manchester Hotel,” our home from home. The Manager, Mr. Hanscomb, received us with a warm welcome; and soon we felt we were amongst English people and could again enjoy an English meal in the English fashion. Only a night in the city and again we are entrained for Nottingham. We had travelled now nearly two thousand five hundred miles. Oh! the anticipation! The slowness of the train, as we thought; though it was a fast train. We, however, reached Home, sweet Home, safely and well, after many strange experiences; and Oh! what a Welcome! from my precious daughter, Ivy, and son Gordon, and dear Auntie; then our dearest baby boy, with his smiles and his dimples; and oh! what p. 194a hug! Welcome home, was apparent even from the servants, and we thought there is much truth in Leonard Cooke’s poetry:
“We have basked in the far off Eastern Sun,
’Neath skies of unchanging gold;
Held by the spell of the Orient
With its mystery and charm untold.
But, Oh! to the heart that is English,
There is nought in a distant clime
As fair as a field in England
Decked out in the summer time.
There is joy in the white faced daisy,
No country afar can excel;
There’s a charm that out rivals the orchids
In the tints of the pimpernel.
There’s a scent in the fields of England
Rich spices can ne’er surpass,
A pang to the heart of the exile;
’Tis the scent of the cool green grass.”
***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK FROM THE THAMES TO THE TIBER***
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