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Of sudden recognition ; gentle stealings
Shalt thou, ingenuous Elia! do this wrong
And thou shalt hail that prophet of his kind,
SKETCHES ON THE ROAD.
[Our last Number contained the description of a visit to Mount Vesuvius, from the pen of our entertaining travellers, which forms a little episode in the history of their adventures. In the following pages, the narrative is continued from the close of their first communication.]
We left you, in a former letter, * on steps, and presently took refuge in a the shores of the Lago Maggiore; and miserable hovel, serving as an inn. we now pursue our journey. The We here refreshed ourselves in the boats on the lake are flat bottomed, midst of a strange picturesque group and curiously covered, to defend pas- of fishermen, whose dialect, even to sengers from sun and rain, by a can- our patois-exercised ears, was alvass awning supported on a sort of most incomprehensible; we then rehurdle: the one we hired for our lit- paired to the Palazzo of the Count of tle expedition we found particularly Borromeo, which, with its gardens convenient, being furnished with and terraces, covers all the island, chairs and a table.
except a little corner, where about When we put off from shore, thick, six hundred people, composed of misty,rain-clouds lay upon the moun- fishermen, gardeners, and labourers, tains, and on all the scenery skirt- on the establishment, with their faing the lake: but ere we had pro- milies, contrive to live. ceeded far, some fine glances of sun- In the palace we found the usual shine began partially to dissipate the lofty and spacious salle and gallerie; obscurity, and we saw, at intervals, the usual long succession of great the snow shining on the rugged Alps; rooms, and want of passages, and and the pretty white towns of privacy (which must naturally ensue Fariolo, Intra, and Palanza, beam- from such a distribution of aparting across the tranquil waters, and ments, where almost every room is seeming as though they were built on an indispensable passage to some a narrow ridge between the lake and others); the usual painted ceilingsand the mountains.
marble floors, the large windows, and The first of the Isole Borromei that gilt folding doors, and the general we reached, was the Isola dei Pesca- want of furniture and convenience. tori : it is low, and very small, and The little furniture we saw seemed covered with a little town of fisher, more than coeval with the edifice : men. We did not descend here, but its gilding was all tarnished, and the were struck by the beautiful effect of silks and satins stained and dirty; some pensile willows, which, at one even the bed rooms of the family end of the island, dip elegantly into were in the same state. As we rethe water.
turned through these great deserted The Isola Bella, the most impor- apartments, and felt the coolness and tant of the islands, lies at a short dis- dampness of the air, we could not tance farther up the lake: just as we help thinking that it was not a comreached it, a heavy shower of rain fortable place - had we, however, began to fall. We entered the island visited it during the heats of August, by a magnificent flight of marble we should, without doubt, have found
April, 1821, Vol. III, p. 395.
it an agreeable residence ; and it was to admire. We are particularly fasbuilt for a summer abode. The pic- tidious about seeing fine trees detures, which seemed to be numerous, prived of the beautiful forms which and had been hung throughout the nature gave them, and cropped into rooms, were unfortunately huddled lions and eagles; and we have no together on the floor of a hall, as a taste for marble balustrades, long picture gallery was preparing to re- straight walks, and terrace raised ceive them. We saw a few pieces of above terrace, lined with hideous stamerit, particularly some cabinet tuary, each monster contending with pictures. The old custode took us with his fellow for pre-eminence in defore great reverence to observe the por- mity. traits of the noble line of the Bor- In the garden we saw two laurel romeo family; among them were se, trees of immense size, and great veral cardinals, glaring in their red beauty: we eagerly asked upon drapery; and some generals and which of them Bonaparte had writcourtiers, looking grim in armour and ten, (as we had been told that exruffs. He was very sorry that he traordinary man had cut out the could not show us the picture of a word Battaglia on one of them, a few relation of the family, who had abso- days before the battle of Marengo.) lutely been pope!
Our guide, who was the head garWe were informed that the family dener, answered, that many foreigngenerally spend some of the summer ers had asked him the same question; months on the lake. The present but that although he had been many Count resides principally at Milan; years in his situation, he had never and though comparatively rich, pos- seen any other sign of such an inscripsesses but a small portion of the tion than a straight cut in the hark wealth, and immense power and im- of the laurel to the right of the path portance of his ancestors. He has on descending, which he showed us, not, like them, twelve strong castles and we found it to bear very unsain his hands, and the whole of the tisfactory evidence indeed. We saw Lago Maggiore, and great part of the in the palace, not without interest, surrounding country under his sig- the room where Bonaparte had slept. niory; he cannot, like them, make From the most elevated of the terwars and treaties on his own account, races we had a sublime view. It was but, like the rest of the Italian nobi- three parts closed in by the Alps. We lity, is obliged to crouch to a foreign saw the ten thousand years snow of occupant, and make a pageant figure the distant Monte Rosa; the fine, in a foreign court, in order to pre- clear lake, stretching in one direction serve the skeleton of the possessions far out of sight, towards Milan, and of his forefathers.
in the other, penetrating in a deep When we had seen the appartamento nook towards Lugano, and the nobile, we were conducted to a suite mountains of the Swiss Canton of of small rooms beneath, which are Tesino: we observed its fine sweepcuriously fitted up for enjoying cooling shores, and the romantic towns air in summer: one room was inge- with which at frequent intervals they niously formed into a marine grotto, were covered, and a thousand beauentirely covered with small shells; tiful objects and combinations which another was lined (floor, walls, and remain glowing pictures in our meroof,) with a pretty mosaic, composed mories and in our hearts, but which of simple, dark coloured stones of we can never hope to see described, about the size of a nut: the latter either by pen or pencil. was new to us, and had a neat effect. While standing there, our guide The statues contained in them are of made us observe the strange noise no great value.
produced by stamping on the marble From the house we passed into the pavement: we were near a grated gardens, and as the weather had hole, and the report of his foot-beat, cleared up, we leisurely examined rolling like peals of thunder in the those curious places : we found them vaults below, came through it to our almost entirely laid out on hollow ears. terraces, raised at an immense labour Our guide next took us to see the and expence, but except their Baby- foundations of the gardens and terlonish oddness, we saw little in them races—the supporters of the air-hung fabric. A labyrinth of vaults, divid- a few months' retirement: it is exacted by tremendously thick walls, and ly the place we have frequently cut by huge pillars and beams, pre- dreamed about in our romantic days sented a curious tout-ensemble. When - a little span of an island, in a clear we entered into one of these vaults, blue lake, with a neat house, through to observe the secrets of the con- whose casements, putting aside with struction, a great number of bats and careful hand the “gadding vine," we other night-loving fowls flitting out might look over a beautiful sheet of suddenly, quite startled us. We did water, and a fine country, and see the not disturb them long, but when we eternal Alps closing in the scene. quitted the vault, we stood a minute How pleasant a nook to “ loiter life by a grate to watch them repairing to away in." their nooks, with ghostly silence and While we were examining the two celerity.
last islands, the wind had increased, On quitting the gardens, a good- and the lake was so rough, that our looking woman presented us with some boatmen for awhile were unwilling to flowers: this classical way of beg- cross it. We ventured, notwithstandging reminded us of being in Italy. ing. After a time the wind abated,
When we got into the boat, we and about an hour before sunset we found the lake rough, and the wind landed safely on the opposite side, at very high ; but the weather had the pretty little town of Laveno. cleared up, the sun shone brightly, Close on the water's edge, we found and brought out many beautiful ob- excellent quarters in a small, neat inn, jects we had not seen before. As we which we recommend to all future rowed away, we looked back on the perambulators, as there we were exIsola Bella, which, as its name im- ceedingly well entertained, and passed ports, assumes the superiority of the a few hours, which we shall always islands : it seemed, however, to us, esteem among the most happy of our rather a curious, than a beautiful ob- lives. ject; displaying much more cost than The close of evening was delitaste. A fine building in that posi- cious: the sun went down in all his tion might produce a good effect; majesty ; the white snow of the Alps but the palace is in a bad, or rather assumed its pure “ rose hues ;” the in no style of architecture. In the lake spread out into a sheet of clear two ends of Italy there is no good purple, varied here and there with architecture : in Piedmont, it is in as broad stripes of gilded radiance; the low a state as in Lombardy ; and in windows of the houses, in the towns Naples, at the southern end, it is still round the shores, glittered brightly, worse.
and the walls of the buildings The Isola Madre, which is a consi- changed their whiteness for the derable distance from the Isola Bella, warm harmonizing tints of evening. and situated not far from the shore, All the islands lay before us, lookoff the town of Palanza, struck us as ing more beautiful from the effects of we approached it, by its picturesque distance, and of the season of the day: air: a small white paluzzo appeared close to our left, the lake formed a through a little forest, still green and small tranquil bay; and a fairy-like in full leaf- a summer house just promontory stretched out, fringed peeped through festooned vines and with pleasant trees, and spread from dwarf cypresses:--the whole was so its brow to the water edge, with a fresh, so verdant, so secluded, as to carpet of grass and flowers, all fresh present a realization of the beau- and brighi in consequence of the reideal of a summer retreat.
cent rains, and looking as though The Isola di San Gioranni, which they had been visited by a second lies very near, we found pretty, but spring. We were standing at the nothing equal to the Isola Madre : it window at the touching moment of has too much building, and too little “ Ave Maria,” and the deep toll of of green trees and shady bowers. several convent bells rolled with a
All these islands were spots of penetrating melancholy across the pleasure and amusement (luoghi di water: a party of labourers, who delizia) of the Borromeo family. had been unloading a boat close by They are all bijour, but the Isola our inn, ceased from their work and Madre is the one we should choose for muttered the “ De profundis ;” and
a few moments after, two barks went from their accustomed course. From by, whose crews were singing the Fariolo to Milan, by the regular post vesper hymn to the Virgin.
road, is a dull journey, presenting The convent bells continued their little fine scenery ; but if they cross mild and sad toll; and we felt then, the lake as we did, they may see the (as we have often felt during our Borromean islands, and the lake to voyages along the coasts of the Me- great advantage, and from Laveno diterranean) the full force of the ex. enjoy a beautiful country all the way quisite and often quoted passage of to Milan, having one pretty lake Dante.
(Lago Varese) close on their road, Era già l'ora che volge' 1 disio
with an opportunity of seeing the A' Naviganti, e'ntenerisce il core
lake and town of Como, by going Lo dì ch'han detto a' dolci amici Addio; only about three quarters of a mile E che lo nuovo peregrin d'amore
out of their way. As for their conPunge, se ode squilla di lontano veyances, (for it strikes us, very opChe paja 'l giorno pianger che si muore.* portunely, that few travel in so pri
As in landing at Laveno, we had mitive a manner as we did,) they entered into the dominions of ano- may have their carriage taken across ther government, we were very soon
the lake for a trifle ; and they will called upon for our passports; these find the roads from Laveno to the were examined with the scrupulous capital as good as any in Italy.-But attention deemed necessary by the let us continue our pilgrimage. caution of Austria, which was at the We had proceeded about two miles, moment considerably augmented by and were walking at a good pace, the events in the south of Italy, and when a tall thin man of the country the consequent fears of that power for overtook us.
In France and Italy, its own possessions.
travellers (particularly pedestrians) The next morning, after breakfast, never meet or pass one another with we prepared to put ourselves again out a little chat: our man immediate en route. Our landlord's charge, con- ly began a conversation, and as we sidering the excellent dinner and beds were going the same way, he prohe had given us, was pretty mode- posed walking on together. There rate : it would no doubt have been was nothing in his appearance or besomewhat less, had he not discovered haviour, so droll and amusing as in we were Englishmen; indeed, we our former friend the Pittore; he might have diminished it more than was, however, of some use to us-he we did, (some deduction from an took us to the Osteria, where the Italian inn-keeper's bill is always best wine was sold, and told us the expected) but we were in much too names of the towns, and villages, we good a humour
le saw, or passed through on the road. sous," and were besides in a hurry to On our expressing our admiration of get on our journey, having loitered the beautiful mountains about Laveuntil a late hour in that charming no, he assured us they were vile, spot. At the door, we had the usual worthless things, “ monti maladettis« account to settle with the sons and simi," producing almost nothing. daughters of misery;" and found, “ When you arrive at Milan," said moreover, a tall, complimentary he, “ there you will see a beautiful gen-d-armes, waiting for his fee for country, all as flat as my hand.” He having brought back our passport. wished that the waters of the lake
On leaving Laveno, we immediate- could be drained off, because he ly lost sight of the lake: the country, thought a fine sheltered valley would however, continued very fine, and be left. the roads excellent; and here we can- We soon came in sight of a large not help advising travellers to deviate sheet of water, the lake of Varese,
* Now was the hour that wakens fond desire
In men at sea, and melts their thoughtful heart
Thrills, if he hear the vesper bell from far,