Infomotions, Inc.Alps and Sanctuaries of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino / Butler, Samuel, 1835-1902



Author: Butler, Samuel, 1835-1902
Title: Alps and Sanctuaries of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): monte generoso; sacro monte
Contributor(s): Macaulay, George Campbell, 1852-1915 [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 75,491 words (short) Grade range: 11-14 (high school) Readability score: 56 (average)
Identifier: etext2576
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Title:  Alps and Sanctuaries of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino

Author:  Samuel Butler

April, 2001  [Etext #2576]


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This etext was prepared by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk
from the 1913 A. C. Fifield edition with some portions taken from
the 1881 edition.  Many thanks to Paul Schwoerer for his invaluable
help in locating an 1881 edition for UK copyright clearance.





ALPS AND SANCTUARIES OF PIEDMONT AND THE CANTON TICINO

by Samuel Butler



Author's Preface to First Edition



I should perhaps apologise for publishing a work which professes to
deal with the sanctuaries of Piedmont, and saying so little about
the most important of them all--the Sacro Monte of Varallo.  My
excuse must be, that I found it impossible to deal with Varallo
without making my book too long.  Varallo requires a work to
itself; I must, therefore, hope to return to it on another
occasion.

For the convenience of avoiding explanations, I have treated the
events of several summers as though they belonged to only one.
This can be of no importance to the reader, but as the work is
chronologically inexact, I had better perhaps say so.

The illustrations by Mr. H. F. Jones are on pages 95, 211, 225,
238, 254, 260.  The frontispiece and the illustrations on the
title-page and on pages 261, 262 are by Mr. Charles Gogin.  There
are two drawings on pages 136, 137 by an Italian gentleman whose
name I have unfortunately lost, and whose permission to insert them
I have, therefore, been unable to obtain, and one on page 138 by
Signor Gaetano Meo.  The rest are mine, except that all the figures
in my drawings are in every case by Mr. Charles Gogin, unless when
they are merely copied from frescoes or other sources.  The two
larger views of Oropa are chiefly taken from photographs.  The rest
are all of them from studies taken upon the spot.

I must acknowledge the great obligations I am under to Mr. H. F.
Jones as regards the letterpress no less than the illustrations; I
might almost say that the book is nearly as much his as mine, while
it is only through the care which he and another friend have
exercised in the revision of my pages that I am able to let them
appear with some approach to confidence.

November, 1881.



CHAPTER I--Introduction



Most men will readily admit that the two poets who have the
greatest hold over Englishmen are Handel and Shakespeare--for it is
as a poet, a sympathiser with and renderer of all estates and
conditions whether of men or things, rather than as a mere
musician, that Handel reigns supreme.  There have been many who
have known as much English as Shakespeare, and so, doubtless, there
have been no fewer who have known as much music as Handel:  perhaps
Bach, probably Haydn, certainly Mozart; as likely as not, many a
known and unknown musician now living; but the poet is not known by
knowledge alone--not by gnosis only--but also, and in greater part,
by the agape which makes him wish to steal men's hearts, and
prompts him so to apply his knowledge that he shall succeed.  There
has been no one to touch Handel as an observer of all that was
observable, a lover of all that was loveable, a hater of all that
was hateable, and, therefore, as a poet.  Shakespeare loved not
wisely but too well.  Handel loved as well as Shakespeare, but more
wisely.  He is as much above Shakespeare as Shakespeare is above
all others, except Handel himself; he is no less lofty,
impassioned, tender, and full alike of fire and love of play; he is
no less universal in the range of his sympathies, no less a master
of expression and illustration than Shakespeare, and at the same
time he is of robuster, stronger fibre, more easy, less
introspective.  Englishmen are of so mixed a race, so inventive,
and so given to migration, that for many generations to come they
are bound to be at times puzzled, and therefore introspective; if
they get their freedom at all they get it as Shakespeare "with a
great sum," whereas Handel was "free born."  Shakespeare sometimes
errs and grievously, he is as one of his own best men "moulded out
of faults," who "for the most become much more the better, for
being a little bad;" Handel, if he puts forth his strength at all,
is unerring:  he gains the maximum of effect with the minimum of
effort.  As Mozart said of him, "he beats us all in effect, when he
chooses he strikes like a thunderbolt."  Shakespeare's strength is
perfected in weakness; Handel is the serenity and unself-
consciousness of health itself.  "There," said Beethoven on his
deathbed, pointing to the works of Handel, "there--is truth."
These, however, are details, the main point that will be admitted
is that the average Englishman is more attracted by Handel and
Shakespeare than by any other two men who have been long enough
dead for us to have formed a fairly permanent verdict concerning
them.  We not only believe them to have been the best men
familiarly known here in England, but we see foreign nations join
us for the most part in assigning to them the highest place as
renderers of emotion.

It is always a pleasure to me to reflect that the countries dearest
to these two master spirits are those which are also dearest to
myself, I mean England and Italy.  Both of them lived mainly here
in London, but both of them turned mainly to Italy when realising
their dreams.  Handel's music is the embodiment of all the best
Italian music of his time and before him, assimilated and
reproduced with the enlargements and additions suggested by his own
genius.  He studied in Italy; his subjects for many years were
almost exclusively from Italian sources; the very language of his
thoughts was Italian, and to the end of his life he would have
composed nothing but Italian operas, if the English public would
have supported him.  His spirit flew to Italy, but his home was
London.  So also Shakespeare turned to Italy more than to any other
country for his subjects.  Roughly, he wrote nineteen Italian, or
what to him were virtually Italian plays, to twelve English, one
Scotch, one Danish, three French, and two early British.

But who does not turn to Italy who has the chance of doing so?
What, indeed, do we not owe to that most lovely and loveable
country?  Take up a Bank of England note and the Italian language
will be found still lingering upon it.  It is signed "for Bank of
England and Compa." (Compagnia), not "Compy."  Our laws are Roman
in their origin.  Our music, as we have seen, and our painting
comes from Italy.  Our very religion till a few hundred years ago
found its headquarters, not in London nor in Canterbury, but in
Rome.  What, in fact, is there which has not filtered through
Italy, even though it arose elsewhere?  On the other hand, there
are infinite attractions in London.  I have seen many foreign
cities, but I know none so commodious, or, let me add, so
beautiful.  I know of nothing in any foreign city equal to the view
down Fleet Street, walking along the north side from the corner of
Fetter Lane.  It is often said that this has been spoiled by the
London, Chatham, and Dover Railway bridge over Ludgate Hill; I
think, however, the effect is more imposing now than it was before
the bridge was built.  Time has already softened it; it does not
obtrude itself; it adds greatly to the sense of size, and makes us
doubly aware of the movement of life, the colossal circulation to
which London owes so much of its impressiveness.  We gain more by
this than we lose by the infraction of some pedant's canon about
the artistically correct intersection of right lines.  Vast as is
the world below the bridge, there is a vaster still on high, and
when trains are passing, the steam from the engine will throw the
dome of St. Paul's into the clouds, and make it seem as though
there were a commingling of earth and some far-off mysterious
palace in dreamland.  I am not very fond of Milton, but I admit
that he does at times put me in mind of Fleet Street.

While on the subject of Fleet Street, I would put in a word in
favour of the much-abused griffin.  The whole monument is one of
the handsomest in London.  As for its being an obstruction, I have
discoursed with a large number of omnibus conductors on the
subject, and am satisfied that the obstruction is imaginary.

When, again, I think of Waterloo Bridge, and the huge wide-opened
jaws of those two Behemoths, the Cannon Street and Charing Cross
railway stations, I am not sure that the prospect here is not even
finer than in Fleet Street.  See how they belch forth puffing
trains as the breath of their nostrils, gorging and disgorging
incessantly those human atoms whose movement is the life of the
city.  How like it all is to some great bodily mechanism of which
the people are the blood.  And then, above all, see the ineffable
St. Paul's.  I was once on Waterloo Bridge after a heavy
thunderstorm in summer.  A thick darkness was upon the river and
the buildings upon the north side, but just below I could see the
water hurrying onward as in an abyss, dark, gloomy, and mysterious.
On a level with the eye there was an absolute blank, but above, the
sky was clear, and out of the gloom the dome and towers of St.
Paul's rose up sharply, looking higher than they actually were, and
as though they rested upon space.

Then as for the neighbourhood within, we will say, a radius of
thirty miles.  It is one of the main businesses of my life to
explore this district.  I have walked several thousands of miles in
doing so, and I mark where I have been in red upon the Ordnance
map, so that I may see at a glance what parts I know least well,
and direct my attention to them as soon as possible.  For ten
months in the year I continue my walks in the home counties, every
week adding some new village or farmhouse to my list of things
worth seeing; and no matter where else I may have been, I find a
charm in the villages of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex, which in its way
I know not where to rival.

I have ventured to say the above, because during the remainder of
my book I shall be occupied almost exclusively with Italy, and wish
to make it clear that my Italian rambles are taken not because I
prefer Italy to England, but as by way of parergon, or by-work, as
every man should have both his profession and his hobby.  I have
chosen Italy as my second country, and would dedicate this book to
her as a thank-offering for the happiness she has afforded me.



CHAPTER II--Faido



For some years past I have paid a visit of greater or less length
to Faido in the Canton Ticino, which though politically Swiss is as
much Italian in character as any part of Italy.  I was attracted to
this place, in the first instance, chiefly because it is one of the
easiest places on the Italian side of the Alps to reach from
England.  This merit it will soon possess in a still greater
degree, for when the St. Gothard tunnel is open, it will be
possible to leave London, we will say, on a Monday morning and be
at Faido by six or seven o'clock the next evening, just as one can
now do with S. Ambrogio on the line between Susa and Turin, of
which more hereafter.

True, by making use of the tunnel one will miss the St. Gothard
scenery, but I would not, if I were the reader, lay this too much
to heart.  Mountain scenery, when one is staying right in the
middle of it, or when one is on foot, is one thing, and mountain
scenery as seen from the top of a diligence very likely smothered
in dust is another.  Besides I do not think he will like the St.
Gothard scenery very much.

It is a pity there is no mental microscope to show us our likes and
dislikes while they are yet too vague to be made out easily.  We
are so apt to let imaginary likings run away with us, as a person
at the far end of Cannon Street railway platform, if he expects a
friend to join him, will see that friend in half the impossible
people who are coming through the wicket.  I once began an essay on
"The Art of Knowing what gives one Pleasure," but soon found myself
out of the diatonic with it, in all manner of strange keys, amid a
maze of metaphysical accidentals and double and treble flats, so I
left it alone as a question not worth the trouble it seemed likely
to take in answering.  It is like everything else, if we much want
to know our own mind on any particular point, we may be trusted to
develop the faculty which will reveal it to us, and if we do not
greatly care about knowing, it does not much matter if we remain in
ignorance.  But in few cases can we get at our permanent liking
without at least as much experience as a fishmonger must have had
before he can choose at once the best bloater out of twenty which,
to inexperienced eyes, seem one as good as the other.  Lord
Beaconsfield was a thorough Erasmus Darwinian when he said so well
in "Endymion":  "There is nothing like will; everybody can do
exactly what they like in this world, provided they really like it.
Sometimes they think they do, but in general it's a mistake." {1}
If this is as true as I believe it to be, "the longing after
immortality," though not indeed much of an argument in favour of
our being immortal at the present moment, is perfectly sound as a
reason for concluding that we shall one day develop immortality, if
our desire is deep enough and lasting enough.  As for knowing
whether or not one likes a picture, which under the present
aesthetic reign of terror is de rigueur, I once heard a man say the
only test was to ask one's self whether one would care to look at
it if one was quite sure that one was alone; I have never been able
to get beyond this test with the St. Gothard scenery, and applying
it to the Devil's Bridge, I should say a stay of about thirty
seconds would be enough for me.  I daresay Mendelssohn would have
stayed at least two hours at the Devil's Bridge, but then he did
stay such a long while before things.

The coming out from the short tunnel on to the plain of Andermatt
does certainly give the pleasure of a surprise.  I shall never
forget coming out of this tunnel one day late in November, and
finding the whole Andermatt valley in brilliant sunshine, though
from Fluelen up to the Devil's Bridge the clouds had hung heavy and
low.  It was one of the most striking transformation scenes
imaginable.  The top of the pass is good, and the Hotel Prosa a
comfortable inn to stay at.  I do not know whether this house will
be discontinued when the railway is opened, but understand that the
proprietor has taken the large hotel at Piora, which I will speak
of later on.  The descent on the Italian side is impressive, and so
is the point where sight is first caught of the valley below
Airolo, but on the whole I cannot see that the St. Gothard is
better than the S. Bernardino on the Italian side, or the
Lukmanier, near the top, on the German; this last is one of the
most beautiful things imaginable, but it should be seen by one who
is travelling towards German Switzerland, and in a fine summer's
evening light.  I was never more impressed by the St. Gothard than
on the occasion already referred to when I crossed it in winter.
We went in sledges from Hospenthal to Airolo, and I remember
thinking what splendid fellows the postillions and guards and men
who helped to shift the luggage on to the sledges, looked; they
were so ruddy and strong and full of health, as indeed they might
well be--living an active outdoor life in such an air; besides,
they were picked men, for the passage in winter is never without
possible dangers.  It was delightful travelling in the sledge.  The
sky was of a deep blue; there was not a single cloud either in sky
or on mountain, but the snow was already deep, and had covered
everything beneath its smooth and heaving bosom.  There was no
breath of air, but the cold was intense; presently the sun set upon
all except the higher peaks, and the broad shadows stole upwards.
Then there was a rich crimson flush upon the mountain tops, and
after this a pallor cold and ghastly as death.  If he is fortunate
in his day, I do not think any one will be sorry to have crossed
the St. Gothard in mid-winter; but one pass will do as well as
another.

Airolo, at the foot of the pass on the Italian side, was, till
lately, a quiet and beautiful village, rising from among great
green slopes, which in early summer are covered with innumerable
flowers.  The place, however, is now quite changed.  The railway
has turned the whole Val Leventina topsy-turvy, and altered it
almost beyond recognition.  When the line is finished and the
workmen have gone elsewhere, things will get right again; but just
now there is an explosiveness about the valley which puzzles one
who has been familiar with its former quietness.  Airolo has been
especially revolutionised, being the headquarters for the works
upon the Italian side of the great St. Gothard tunnel, as Goschenen
is for those on the German side; besides this, it was burnt down
two or three years ago, hardly one of the houses being left
standing, so that it is now a new town, and has lost its former
picturesqueness, but it will be not a bad place to stay at as soon
as the bustle of the works has subsided, and there is a good hotel-
-the Hotel Airolo.  It lies nearly 4000 feet above the sea, so that
even in summer the air is cool.  There are plenty of delightful
walks--to Piora, for example, up the Val Canaria, and to Bedretto.

After leaving Airolo the road descends rapidly for a few hundred
feet and then more slowly for four or five kilometres to Piotta.
Here the first signs of the Italian spirit appear in the wood
carving of some of the houses.  It is with these houses that I
always consider myself as in Italy again.  Then come Ronco on the
mountain side to the left, and Quinto; all the way the pastures are
thickly covered with cowslips, even finer than those that grow on
Salisbury Plain.  A few kilometres farther on and sight is caught
of a beautiful green hill with a few natural terraces upon it and a
flat top--rising from amid pastures, and backed by higher hills as
green as itself.  On the top of this hill there stands a white
church with an elegant Lombard campanile--the campanile left
unwhitewashed.  The whole forms a lovely little bit of landscape
such as some old Venetian painter might have chosen as a background
for a Madonna.

This place is called Prato.  After it is passed the road enters at
once upon the Monte Piottino gorge, which is better than the
Devil's Bridge, but not so much to my taste as the auriculas and
rhododendrons which grow upon the rocks that flank it.  The peep,
however, at the hamlet of Vigera, caught through the opening of the
gorge, is very nice.  Soon after crossing the second of the Monte
Piottino bridges the first chestnuts are reached, or rather were so
till a year ago, when they were all cut down to make room for some
construction in connection with the railway.  A couple of
kilometres farther on and mulberries and occasional fig-trees begin
to appear.  On this we find ourselves at Faido, the first place
upon the Italian side which can be called a town, but which after
all is hardly more than a village.

Faido is a picturesque old place.  It has several houses dated the
middle of the sixteenth century; and there is one, formerly a
convent, close to the Hotel dell' Angelo, which must be still
older.  There is a brewery where excellent beer is made, as good as
that of Chiavenna--and a monastery where a few monks still continue
to reside.  The town is 2365 feet above the sea, and is never too
hot even in the height of summer.  The Angelo is the principal
hotel of the town, and will be found thoroughly comfortable and in
all respects a desirable place to stay at.  I have stayed there so
often, and consider the whole family of its proprietor so much
among the number of my friends, that I have no hesitation in
cordially recommending the house.

Other attractions I do not know that the actual town possesses, but
the neighbourhood is rich.  Years ago, in travelling by the St.
Gothard road, I had noticed the many little villages perched high
up on the sides of the mountain, from one to two thousand feet
above the river, and had wondered what sort of places they would
be.  I resolved, therefore, after a time to make a stay at Faido
and go up to all of them.  I carried out my intention, and there is
not a village nor fraction of a village in the Val Leventina from
Airolo to Biasca which I have not inspected.  I never tire of them,
and the only regret I feel concerning them is, that the greater
number are inaccessible except on foot, so that I do not see how I
shall be able to reach them if I live to be old.  These are the
places of which I do find myself continually thinking when I am
away from them.  I may add that the Val Leventina is much the same
as every other subalpine valley on the Italian side of the Alps
that I have yet seen.

I had no particular aversion to German Switzerland before I knew
the Italian side of the Alps.  On the contrary, I was under the
impression that I liked German Switzerland almost as much as I
liked Italy itself, but now I can look at German Switzerland no
longer.  As soon as I see the water going down Rhinewards I hurry
back to London.  I was unwillingly compelled to take pleasure in
the first hour and a half of the descent from the top of the
Lukmanier towards Disentis, but this is only a ripping over of the
brimfulness of Italy on to the Swiss side.

The first place I tried from Faido was Mairengo--where there is the
oldest church in the valley--a church older even than the church of
St. Nicolao of Giornico.  There is little of the original
structure, but the rare peculiarity remains that there are two high
altars side by side.

There is a fine half-covered timber porch to the church.  These
porches are rare, the only others like it I know of being at Prato,
Rossura, and to some extent Cornone.  In each of these cases the
arrangement is different, the only agreement being in the having an
outer sheltered place, from which the church is entered instead of
opening directly on to the churchyard.  Mairengo is full of good
bits, and nestles among magnificent chestnut-trees.  From hence I
went to Osco, about 3800 feet above the sea, and 1430 above Faido.
It was here I first came to understand the purpose of certain high
poles with cross bars to them which I had already seen elsewhere.
They are for drying the barley on; as soon as it is cut it is hung
up on the cross bars and secured in this way from the rain, but it
is obvious this can only be done when cultivation is on a small
scale.  These rascane, as they are called, are a feature of the Val
Leventina, and look very well when they are full of barley.

From Osco I tried to coast along to Calpiognia, but was warned that
the path was dangerous, and found it to be so.  I therefore again
descended to Mairengo, and re-ascended by a path which went
straight up behind the village.  After a time I got up to the level
of Calpiognia, or nearly so, and found a path through pine woods
which led me across a torrent in a ravine to Calpiognia itself.
This path is very beautiful.  While on it I caught sight of a
lovely village nestling on a plateau that now showed itself high up
on the other side the valley of the Ticino, perhaps a couple of
miles off as the crow flies.  This I found upon inquiry to be
Dalpe; above Dalpe rose pine woods and pastures; then the loftier
alpi, then rugged precipices, and above all the Dalpe glacier
roseate with sunset.  I was enchanted, and it was only because
night was coming on, and I had a long way to descend before getting
back to Faido, that I could get myself away.  I passed through
Calpiognia, and though the dusk was deepening, I could not forbear
from pausing at the Campo Santo just outside the village.  I give a
sketch taken by daylight, but neither sketch nor words can give any
idea of the pathos of the place.  When I saw it first it was in the
month of June, and the rank dandelions were in seed.  Wild roses in
full bloom, great daisies, and the never-failing salvia ran riot
among the graves.  Looking over the churchyard itself there were
the purple mountains of Biasca and the valley of the Ticino some
couple of thousand feet below.  There was no sound save the subdued
but ceaseless roar of the Ticino, and the Piumogna.  Involuntarily
I found the following passage from the "Messiah" sounding in my
ears, and felt as though Handel, who in his travels as a young man
doubtless saw such places, might have had one of them in his mind
when he wrote the divine music which he has wedded to the words "of
them that sleep." {2}

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

Or again:  {3}

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

From Calpiognia I came down to Primadengo, and thence to Faido.



CHAPTER III--Primadengo, Calpiognia, Dalpe, Cornone, and Prato



Next morning I thought I would go up to Calpiognia again.  It was
Sunday.  When I got up to Primadengo I saw no one, and heard
nothing, save always the sound of distant waterfalls; all was
spacious and full of what Mr. Ruskin has called a "great
peacefulness of light."  The village was so quiet that it seemed as
though it were deserted; after a minute or so, however, I heard a
cherry fall, and looking up, saw the trees were full of people.
There they were, crawling and lolling about on the boughs like
caterpillars, and gorging themselves with cherries.  They spoke not
a word either to me or to one another.  They were too happy and
goodly to make a noise; but they lay about on the large branches,
and ate and sighed for content and ate till they could eat no
longer.  Lotus eating was a rough nerve-jarring business in
comparison.  They were like saints and evangelists by Filippo
Lippi.  Again the rendering of Handel came into my mind, and I
thought of how the goodly fellowship of prophets praised God. {4}

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

And how again in some such another quiet ecstasy the muses sing
about Jove's altar in the "Allegro and Penseroso."

Here is a sketch of Primadengo Church--looking over it on to the
other side the Ticino, but I could not get the cherry-trees nor
cherry-eaters.

On leaving Primadengo I went on to Calpiognia, and there too I
found the children's faces all purple with cherry juice; thence I
ascended till I got to a monte, or collection of chalets, about
5680 feet above the sea.  It was deserted at this season.  I
mounted farther and reached an alpe, where a man and a boy were
tending a mob of calves.  Going still higher, I at last came upon a
small lake close to the top of the range:  I find this lake given
in the map as about 7400 feet above the sea.  Here, being more than
5000 feet above Faido, I stopped and dined.

I have spoken of a monte and of an alpe.  An alpe, or alp, is not,
as so many people in England think, a snowy mountain.  Mont Blanc
and the Jungfrau, for example, are not alps.  They are mountains
with alps upon them.

An alpe is a tract of the highest summer pasturage just below the
snow-line, and only capable of being grazed for two or three months
in every year.  It is held as common land by one or more villages
in the immediate neighbourhood, and sometimes by a single
individual to whom the village has sold it.  A few men and boys
attend the whole herd, whether of cattle or goats, and make the
cheese, which is apportioned out among the owners of the cattle
later on.  The pigs go up to be fattened on whey.  The cheese is
not commonly made at the alpe, but as soon as the curd has been
pressed clear of whey, it is sent down on men's backs to the
village to be made into cheese.  Sometimes there will be a little
hay grown on an alpe, as at Gribbio and in Piora; in this case
there will be some chalets built, which will be inhabited for a few
weeks and left empty the rest of the year.

The monte is the pasture land immediately above the highest
enclosed meadows and below the alpe.  The cattle are kept here in
spring and autumn before and after their visit to the alpe.  The
monte has many houses, dairies, and cowhouses,--being almost the
paese, or village, in miniature.  It will always have its chapel,
and is inhabited by so considerable a number of the villagers, for
so long a time both in spring and autumn, that they find it worth
while to make themselves more comfortable than is necessary for the
few who make the short summer visit to the alpe.

Every inch of the ascent was good, but the descent was even better
on account of the views of the Dalpe glacier on the other side the
Ticino, towards which ones back is turned as one ascends.  All day
long the villages of Dalpe and Cornone had been tempting me, so I
resolved to take them next day.  This I did, crossing the Ticino
and following a broad well-beaten path which ascends the mountains
in a southerly direction.  I found the rare English fern Woodsia
hyperborea growing in great luxuriance on the rocks between the
path and the river.  I saw some fronds fully six inches in length.
I also found one specimen of Asplenium alternifolium, which,
however, is abundant on the other side the valley, on the walls
that flank the path between Primadengo and Calpiognia, and
elsewhere.  Woodsia also grows on the roadside walls near Airolo,
but not so fine as at Faido.  I have often looked for it in other
subalpine valleys of North Italy and the canton Ticino, but have
never happened to light upon it.

About three or four hundred feet above the river, under some pines,
I saw a string of ants crossing and recrossing the road; I have
since seen these ants every year in the same place.  In one part I
almost think the stone is a little worn with the daily passage and
repassage of so many thousands of tiny feet, but for the most part
it certainly is not.  Half-an-hour or so after crossing the string
of ants, one passes from under the pine-trees into a grassy meadow,
which in spring is decked with all manner of Alpine flowers; after
crossing this, the old St. Gothard road is reached, which passed by
Prato and Dalpe, so as to avoid the gorge of the Monte Piottino.
This road is of very great antiquity, and has been long disused,
except for local purposes; for even before the carriage road over
the St. Gothard was finished in 1827, there was a horse track
through the Monte Piottino.  In another twenty minutes or so, on
coming out from a wood of willows and alders, Dalpe is seen close
at hand after a walk of from an hour-and-a-half to two hours from
Faido.

Dalpe is rather more than 1500 feet above Faido, and is therefore
nearly 4000 feet above the sea.  It is reckoned a bel paese,
inasmuch as it has a little tolerably level pasture and tillable
land near it, and a fine alpe.  This is how the wealth of a village
is reckoned.  The Italians set great store by a little bit of bella
pianura, or level ground; to them it is as precious as a hill or
rock is to a Londoner out for a holiday.  The peasantry are as
blind to the beauties of rough unmanageable land as Peter Bell was
to those of the primrose with a yellow brim (I quote from memory).
The people complain of the climate of Dalpe, the snow not going off
before the end of March or beginning of April.  No climate, they
say, should be colder than that of Faido; barley, however, and
potatoes do very well at Dalpe, and nothing can exceed the hay
crops.  A good deal of the hay is sent down to Faido on men's backs
or rather on their heads, for the road is impracticable even for
sledges.  It is astonishing what a weight the men will bear upon
their heads, and the rate at which they will come down while
loaded.  An average load is four hundredweight.  The man is hardly
visible beneath his burden, which looks like a good big part of an
ordinary English haystack.  With this weight on his head he will go
down rough places almost at a run and never miss his footing.  The
men generally carry the hay down in threes and fours together for
company.  They look distressed, as well they may:  every muscle is
strained, and it is easy to see that their powers are being taxed
to their utmost limit; it is better not even to say good-day to
them when they are thus loaded; they have enough to attend to just
then; nevertheless, as soon as they have deposited their load at
Faido they will go up to Dalpe again or Calpiognia, or wherever it
may be, for another, and bring it down without resting.  Two such
journeys are reckoned enough for one day.  This is how the people
get their corpo di legno e gamba di ferro--"their bodies of wood
and legs of iron."  But I think they rather overdo it.

Talking of legs, as I went through the main street of Dalpe an old
lady of about sixty-five stopped me, and told me that while
gathering her winter store of firewood she had had the misfortune
to hurt her leg.  I was very sorry, but I failed to satisfy her;
the more I sympathised in general terms, the more I felt that
something further was expected of me.  I went on trying to do the
civil thing, when the old lady cut me short by saying it would be
much better if I were to see the leg at once; so she showed it me
in the street, and there, sure enough, close to the groin there was
a swelling.  Again I said how sorry I was, and added that perhaps
she ought to show it to a medical man.  "But aren't you a medical
man?" said she in an alarmed manner.  "Certainly not," replied I.
"Then why did you let me show you my leg?" said she indignantly,
and pulling her clothes down, the poor old woman began to hobble
off; presently two others joined her, and I heard hearty peals of
laughter as she recounted her story.  A stranger visiting these
out-of-the-way villages is almost certain to be mistaken for a
doctor.  What business, they say to themselves, can any one else
have there, and who in his senses would dream of visiting them for
pleasure?  This old lady had rushed to the usual conclusion, and
had been trying to get a little advice gratis.

Above Dalpe there is a path through the upper valley of the
Piumogna, which leads to the glacier whence the river comes.  The
highest peak above this upper valley just turns the 10,000 feet,
but I was never able to find out that it has a name, nor is there a
name marked in the Ordnance map of the Canton Ticino.  The valley
promises well, but I have not been to its head, where at about 7400
feet there is a small lake.  Great quantities of crystals are found
in the mountains above Dalpe.  Some people make a living by
collecting these from the higher parts of the ranges where none but
born mountaineers and chamois can venture; many, again, emigrate to
Paris, London, America, or elsewhere, and return either for a month
or two, or sometimes for a permanency, having become rich.  In
Cornone there is one large white new house belonging to a man who
has made his fortune near Como, and in all these villages there are
similar houses.  From the Val Leventina and the Val Blenio, but
more especially from this last, very large numbers come to London,
while hardly fewer go to America.  Signor Gatti, the great ice
merchant, came from the Val Blenio.

I once found the words, "Tommy, make room for your uncle," on a
chapel outside the walls of one very quiet little upland hamlet.
The writing was in a child's scrawl, and in like fashion with all
else that was written on the same wall.  I should have been much
surprised, if I had not already found out how many families return
to these parts with children to whom English is the native
language.  Many as are the villages in the Canton Ticino in which I
have sat sketching for hours together, I have rarely done so
without being accosted sooner or later by some one who could speak
English, either with an American accent or without it.  It is
curious at some out-of-the-way place high up among the mountains,
to see a lot of children at play, and to hear one of them shout
out, "Marietta, if you do that again, I'll go and tell mother."
One English word has become universally adopted by the Ticinesi
themselves.  They say "waitee" just as we should say "wait," to
stop some one from going away.  It is abhorrent to them to end a
word with a consonant, so they have added "ee," but there can be no
doubt about the origin of the word. {5}

When we bear in mind the tendency of any language, if it once
attains a certain predominance, to supplant all others, and when we
look at the map of the world and see the extent now in the hands of
the two English-speaking nations, I think it may be prophesied that
the language in which this book is written will one day be almost
as familiar to the greater number of Ticinesi as their own.

I may mention one other expression which, though not derived from
English, has a curious analogy to an English usage.  When the
beautiful children with names like Handel's operas come round one
while one is sketching, some one of them will assuredly before long
be heard to whisper the words "Tira giu," or as children say when
they come round one in England, "He is drawing it down."  The
fundamental idea is, of course, that the draughtsman drags the
object which he is drawing away from its position, and "transfers"
it, as we say by the same metaphor, to his paper, as St. Cecilia
"drew an angel down" in "Alexander's Feast."

A good walk from Dalpe is to the Alpe di Campolungo and Fusio, but
it is better taken from Fusio.  A very favourite path with me is
the one leading conjointly from Cornone and Dalpe to Prato.  The
view up the valley of the St. Gothard looking down on Prato is
fine; I give a sketch of it taken five years ago before the railway
had been begun.

The little objects looking like sentry boxes that go all round the
church contain rough modern frescoes, representing, if I remember
rightly, the events attendant upon the Crucifixion.  These are on a
small scale what the chapels on the sacred mountain of Varallo are
on a large one.  Small single oratories are scattered about all
over the Canton Ticino, and indeed everywhere in North Italy by the
roadside, at all halting-places, and especially at the crest of any
more marked ascent, where the tired wayfarer, probably heavy laden,
might be inclined to say a naughty word or two if not checked.  The
people like them, and miss them when they come to England.  They
sometimes do what the lower animals do in confinement when
precluded from habits they are accustomed to, and put up with
strange makeshifts by way of substitute.  I once saw a poor
Ticinese woman kneeling in prayer before a dentist's show-case in
the Hampstead Road; she doubtless mistook the teeth for the relics
of some saint.  I am afraid she was a little like a hen sitting
upon a chalk egg, but she seemed quite contented.

Which of us, indeed, does not sit contentedly enough upon chalk
eggs at times?  And what would life be but for the power to do so?
We do not sufficiently realise the part which illusion has played
in our development.  One of the prime requisites for evolution is a
certain power for adaptation to varying circumstances, that is to
say, of plasticity, bodily and mental.  But the power of adaptation
is mainly dependent on the power of thinking certain new things
sufficiently like certain others to which we have been accustomed
for us not to be too much incommoded by the change--upon the power,
in fact, of mistaking the new for the old.  The power of fusing
ideas (and through ideas, structures) depends upon the power of
confusing them; the power to confuse ideas that are not very
unlike, and that are presented to us in immediate sequence, is
mainly due to the fact of the impetus, so to speak, which the mind
has upon it.  We always, I believe, make an effort to see every new
object as a repetition of the object last before us.  Objects are
so varied, and present themselves so rapidly, that as a general
rule we renounce this effort too promptly to notice it, but it is
always there, and it is because of it that we are able to mistake,
and hence to evolve new mental and bodily developments.  Where the
effort is successful, there is illusion; where nearly successful
but not quite, there is a shock and a sense of being puzzled--more
or less, as the case may be; where it is so obviously impossible as
not to be pursued, there is no perception of the effort at all.

Mr. Locke has been greatly praised for his essay upon human
understanding.  An essay on human misunderstanding should be no
less interesting and important.  Illusion to a small extent is one
of the main causes, if indeed it is not the main cause, of
progress, but it must be upon a small scale.  All abortive
speculation, whether commercial or philosophical, is based upon it,
and much as we may abuse such speculation, we are, all of us, its
debtors.

Leonardo da Vinci says that Sandro Botticelli spoke slightingly of
landscape-painting, and called it "but a vain study, since by
throwing a sponge impregnated with various colours against a wall,
it leaves some spots upon it, which may appear like a landscape."
Leonardo da Vinci continues:  "It is true that a variety of
compositions may be seen in such spots according to the disposition
of mind with which they are considered; such as heads of men,
various animals, battles, rocky scenes, seas, clouds, words, and
the like.  It may be compared to the sound of bells which may seem
to say whatever we choose to imagine.  In the same manner these
spots may furnish hints for composition, though they do not teach
us how to finish any particular part." {6}  No one can hate
drunkenness more than I do, but I am confident the human intellect
owes its superiority over that of the lower animals in great
measure to the stimulus which alcohol has given to imagination--
imagination being little else than another name for illusion.  As
for wayside chapels, mine, when I am in London, are the shop
windows with pretty things in them.

The flowers on the slopes above Prato are wonderful, and the
village is full of nice bits for sketching, but the best thing, to
my fancy, is the church, and the way it stands, and the lovely
covered porch through which it is entered.  This porch is not
striking from the outside, but I took two sketches of it from
within.  There is, also, a fresco, half finished, of St. George and
the Dragon, probably of the fifteenth century, and not without
feeling.  There is not much inside the church, which is modernised
and more recent than the tower.  The tower is very good, and only
second, if second, in the upper Leventina to that of Quinto, which,
however, is not nearly so well placed.

The people of Prato are just as fond of cherries as those of
Primadengo, but I did not see any men in the trees.  The children
in these parts are the most beautiful and most fascinating that I
know anywhere; they have black mouths all through the month of July
from the quantities of cherries that they devour.  I can bear
witness that they are irresistible, for one kind old gentleman,
seeing me painting near his house, used to bring me daily a branch
of a cherry-tree with all the cherries on it.  "Son piccole," he
would say, "ma son gustose"--"They are small, but tasty," which
indeed they were.  Seeing I ate all he gave me--for there was no
stopping short as long as a single cherry was left--he, day by day,
increased the size of the branch, but no matter how many he brought
I was always even with him.  I did my best to stop him from
bringing them, or myself from eating all of them, but it was no
use.

[Autograph which cannot be reproduced:  Tlolinda Del Pietro]

Here is the autograph of one of the little black-mouthed folk.  I
watch them growing up from year to year in many a village.  I was
sketching at Primadengo, and a little girl of about three years
came up with her brother, a boy of perhaps eight.  Before long the
smaller child began to set her cap at me, smiling, ogling, and
showing all her tricks like an accomplished little flirt.  Her
brother said, "She always goes on like that to strangers."  I said,
"What's her name?"  "Forolinda."  The name being new to me, I made
the boy write it, and here it is.  He has forgotten to cross his F,
but the writing is wonderfully good for a boy of his age.  The
child's name, doubtless, is Florinda.

More than once at Prato, and often elsewhere, people have wanted to
buy my sketches:  if I had not required them for my own use I might
have sold a good many.  I do not think my patrons intended giving
more than four or five francs a sketch, but a quick worker, who
could cover his three or four Fortuny panels a day, might pay his
expenses.  It often happens that people who are doing well in
London or Paris are paying a visit to their native village, and
like to take back something to remind them of it in the winter.

From Prato, there are two ways to Faido, one past an old castle,
built to defend the northern entrance of the Monte Piottino, and so
over a small pass which will avoid the gorge; and the other, by
Dazio and the Monte Piottino gorge.  Both are good.



CHAPTER IV--Rossura, Calonico



Another day I went up to Rossura, a village that can be seen from
the windows of the Hotel dell' Angelo, and which stands about 3500
feet above the sea, or a little more than 1100 feet above Faido.
The path to it passes along some meadows, from which the church of
Calonico can be seen on the top of its rocks some few miles off.
By and by a torrent is reached, and the ascent begins in earnest.
When the level of Rossura has been nearly attained, the path turns
off into meadows to the right, and continues--occasionally under
magnificent chestnuts--till one comes to Rossura.

The church has been a good deal restored during the last few years,
and an interesting old chapel--with an altar in it--at which mass
was said during a time of plague, while the people stood some way
off in a meadow, has just been entirely renovated; but as with some
English churches, the more closely a piece of old work is copied
the more palpably does the modern spirit show through it, so here
the opposite occurs, for the old-worldliness of the place has not
been impaired by much renovation, though the intention has been to
make everything as modern as possible.

I know few things more touching in their way than the porch of
Rossura church.  It is dated early in the last century, and is
absolutely without ornament; the flight of steps inside it lead up
to the level of the floor of the church.  One lovely summer Sunday
morning, passing the church betimes, I saw the people kneeling upon
these steps, the church within being crammed.  In the darker light
of the porch, they told out against the sky that showed through the
open arch beyond them; far away the eye rested on the mountains--
deep blue save where the snow still lingered.  I never saw anything
more beautiful--and these forsooth are the people whom so many of
us think to better by distributing tracts about Protestantism among
them!

While I was looking, there came a sound of music through the open
door--the people lifting up their voices and singing, as near as I
can remember, something which on the piano would come thus:-

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

I liked the porch almost best under an aspect which it no longer
presents.  One summer an opening was made in the west wall, which
was afterwards closed because the wind blew through it too much and
made the church too cold.  While it was open, one could sit on the
church steps and look down through it on to the bottom of the
Ticino valley; and through the windows one could see the slopes
about Dalpe and Cornone.  Between the two windows there is a
picture of austere old S. Carlo Borromeo with his hands joined in
prayer.

It was at Rossura that I made the acquaintance of a word which I
have since found very largely used throughout North Italy.  It is
pronounced "chow" pure and simple, but is written, if written at
all, "ciau," or "ciao," the "a" being kept very broad.  I believe
the word is derived from "schiavo," a slave, which, became
corrupted into "schiao," and "ciao."  It is used with two meanings,
both of which, however, are deducible from the word slave.  In its
first and more common use it is simply a salute, either on greeting
or taking leave, and means, "I am your very obedient servant."
Thus, if one has been talking to a small child, its mother will
tell it to say "chow" before it goes away, and will then nod her
head and say "chow" herself.  The other use is a kind of pious
expletive, intending "I must endure it," "I am the slave of a
higher power."  It was in this sense I first heard it at Rossura.
A woman was washing at a fountain while I was eating my lunch.  She
said she had lost her daughter in Paris a few weeks earlier.  "She
was a beautiful woman," said the bereaved mother, "but--chow.  She
had great talents--chow.  I had her educated by the nuns of
Bellinzona--chow.  Her knowledge of geography was consummate--chow,
chow," &c.  Here "chow" means "pazienza," "I have done and said all
that I can, and must now bear it as best I may."

I tried to comfort her, but could do nothing, till at last it
occurred to me to say "chow" too.  I did so, and was astonished at
the soothing effect it had upon her.  How subtle are the laws that
govern consolation!  I suppose they must ultimately be connected
with reproduction--the consoling idea being a kind of small cross
which RE-GENERATES or RE-CREATES the sufferer.  It is important,
therefore, that the new ideas with which the old are to be crossed
should differ from these last sufficiently to divert the attention,
and yet not so much as to cause a painful shock.

There should be a little shock, or there will be no variation in
the new ideas that are generated, but they will resemble those that
preceded them, and grief will be continued; there must not be too
great a shock or there will be no illusion--no confusion and fusion
between the new set of ideas and the old, and in consequence, there
will be no result at all, or, if any, an increase in mental
discord.  We know very little, however, upon this subject, and are
continually shown to be at fault by finding an unexpectedly small
cross produce a wide diversion of the mental images, while in other
cases a wide one will produce hardly any result.  Sometimes again,
a cross which we should have said was much too wide will have an
excellent effect.  I did not anticipate, for example, that my
saying "chow" would have done much for the poor woman who had lost
her daughter; the cross did not seem wide enough; she was already,
as I thought, saturated with "chow."  I can only account for the
effect my application of it produced by supposing the word to have
derived some element of strangeness and novelty as coming from a
foreigner--just as land which will give a poor crop, if planted
with sets from potatoes that have been grown for three or four
years on this same soil, will yet yield excellently if similar sets
be brought from twenty miles off.  For the potato, so far as I have
studied it, is a good-tempered, frivolous plant, easily amused and
easily bored, and one, moreover, which if bored, yawns horribly.

As an example of a cross proving satisfactory which I had expected
would be too wide, I would quote the following, which came under my
notice when I was in America.  A young man called upon me in a
flood of tears over the loss of his grandmother, of whose death at
the age of ninety-three he had just heard.  I could do nothing with
him; I tried all the ordinary panaceas without effect, and was
giving him up in despair, when I thought of crossing him with the
well-known ballad of Wednesbury Cocking. {7}  He brightened up
instantly, and left me in as cheerful a state as he had been before
in a desponding one.  "Chow" seems to do for the Italians what
Wednesbury Cocking did for my American friend; it is a kind of
small spiritual pick-me-up, or cup of tea.

From Rossura I went on to Tengia, about a hundred and fifty feet
higher than Rossura.  From Tengia the path to Calonico, the next
village, is a little hard to find, and a boy had better be taken
for ten minutes or so beyond Tengia, Calonico church shows well for
some time before it is actually reached.  The pastures here are
very rich in flowers, the tiger lilies being more abundant before
the hay is mown, than perhaps even at Fusio itself.  The whole walk
is lovely, and the Gribbiasca waterfall, the most graceful in the
Val Leventina, is just opposite.

How often have I not sat about here in the shade sketching, and
watched the blue upon the mountains which Titian watched from under
the chestnuts of Cadore.  No sound except the distant water, or the
croak of a raven, or the booming of the great guns in that battle
which is being fought out between man and nature on the Biaschina
and the Monte Piottino.  It is always a pleasure to me to feel that
I have known the Val Leventina intimately before the great change
in it which the railway will effect, and that I may hope to see it
after the present turmoil is over.  Our descendants a hundred years
hence will not think of the incessant noise as though of
cannonading with which we were so familiar.  From nowhere was it
more striking than from Calonico, the Monte Piottino having no
sooner become silent than the Biaschina would open fire, and
sometimes both would be firing at once.  Posterity may care to know
that another and less agreeable feature of the present time was the
quantity of stones that would come flying about in places which one
would have thought were out of range.  All along the road, for
example, between Giornico and Lavorgo, there was incessant blasting
going on, and it was surprising to see the height to which stones
were sometimes carried.  The dwellers in houses near the blasting
would cover their roofs with boughs and leaves to soften the fall
of the stones.  A few people were hurt, but much less damage was
done than might have been expected.  I may mention for the benefit
of English readers that the tunnels through Monte Piottino and the
Biaschina are marvels of engineering skill, being both of them
spiral; the road describes a complete circle, and descends rapidly
all the while, so that the point of egress as one goes from Airolo
towards Faido is at a much lower level than that of ingress.

If an accident does happen, they call it a disgrazia, thus
confirming the soundness of a philosophy which I put forward in an
earlier work.  Every misfortune they hold (and quite rightly) to be
a disgrace to the person who suffers it; "Son disgraziato" is the
Italian for "I have been unfortunate."  I was once going to give a
penny to a poor woman by the roadside, when two other women stopped
me.  "Non merita," they said; "She is no deserving object for
charity"--the fact being that she was an idiot.  Nevertheless they
were very kind to her.



CHAPTER V--Calonico (continued) and Giornico



Our inventions increase in geometrical ratio.  They are like living
beings, each one of which may become parent of a dozen others--some
good and some ne'er-do-weels; but they differ from animals and
vegetables inasmuch as they not only increase in a geometrical
ratio, but the period of their gestation decreases in geometrical
ratio also.  Take this matter of Alpine roads for example.  For how
many millions of years was there no approach to a road over the St.
Gothard, save the untutored watercourses of the Ticino and the
Reuss, and the track of the bouquetin or the chamois?  For how many
more ages after this was there not a mere shepherd's or huntsman's
path by the river side--without so much as a log thrown over so as
to form a rude bridge?  No one would probably have ever thought of
making a bridge out of his own unaided imagination, more than any
monkey that we know of has done so.  But an avalanche or a flood
once swept a pine into position and left it there; on this a
genius, who was doubtless thought to be doing something very
infamous, ventured to make use of it.  Another time a pine was
found nearly across the stream, but not quite, and not quite,
again, in the place where it was wanted.  A second genius, to the
horror of his fellow-tribesmen--who declared that this time the
world really would come to an end--shifted the pine a few feet so
as to bring it across the stream and into the place where it was
wanted.  This man was the inventor of bridges--his family
repudiated him, and he came to a bad end.  From this to cutting
down the pine and bringing it from some distance is an easy step.
To avoid detail, let us come to the old Roman horse road over the
Alps.  The time between the shepherd's path and the Roman road is
probably short in comparison with that between the mere chamois
track and the first thing that can be called a path of men.  From
the Roman we go on to the mediaeval road with more frequent stone
bridges, and from the mediaeval to the Napoleonic carriage road.

The close of the last century and the first quarter of this present
one was the great era for the making of carriage roads.  Fifty
years have hardly passed and here we are already in the age of
tunnelling and railroads.  The first period, from the chamois track
to the foot road, was one of millions of years; the second, from
the first foot road to the Roman military way, was one of many
thousands; the third, from the Roman to the mediaeval, was perhaps
a thousand; from the mediaeval to the Napoleonic, five hundred;
from the Napoleonic to the railroad, fifty.  What will come next we
know not, but it should come within twenty years, and will probably
have something to do with electricity.

It follows by an easy process of reasoning that, after another
couple of hundred years or so, great sweeping changes should be
made several times in an hour, or indeed in a second, or fraction
of a second, till they pass unnoticed as the revolutions we undergo
in the embryonic stages, or are felt simply as vibrations.  This
would undoubtedly be the case but for the existence of a friction
which interferes between theory and practice.  This friction is
caused partly by the disturbance of vested interests which every
invention involves, and which will be found intolerable when men
become millionaires and paupers alternately once a fortnight--
living one week in a palace and the next in a workhouse, and having
perpetually to be sold up, and then to buy a new house and
refurnish, &c.--so that artificial means for stopping inventions
will be adopted; and partly by the fact that though all inventions
breed in geometrical ratio, yet some multiply more rapidly than
others, and the backwardness of one art will impede the forwardness
of another.  At any rate, so far as I can see, the present is about
the only comfortable time for a man to live in, that either ever
has been or ever will be.  The past was too slow, and the future
will be much too fast.

Another thing which we do not bear in mind when thinking of the
Alps is their narrowness, and the small extent of ground they
really cover.  From Goschenen, for example, to Airolo seems a very
long distance.  One must go up to the Devil's Bridge, and then to
Andermatt.  From here by Hospenthal to the top of the pass seems a
long way, and again it is a long way down to Airolo; but all this
would easily go on to the ground between Kensington and Stratford.
From Goschenen to Andermatt is about as far as from Holland House
to Hyde Park Corner.  From Andermatt to Hospenthal is much the same
distance as from Hyde Park Corner to the Oxford Street end of
Tottenham Court Road.  From Hospenthal to the hospice on the top of
the pass is about equal to the space between Tottenham Court Road
and Bow; and from Bow you must go down three thousand feet of zig-
zags into Stratford, for Airolo.  I have made the deviation from
the straight line about the same in one case as in the other; in
each, the direct distance is nine and a half miles.  The whole
distance from Fluelen, on the Lake of Lucerne, to Biasca, which is
almost on the same level with the Lago Maggiore, is only forty
miles, and could be all got in between London and Lewes, while from
Lucerne to Locarno, actually on the Lago Maggiore itself, would go,
with a good large margin to spare, between London and Dover.  We
can hardly fancy, however, people going backwards and forwards to
business daily between Fluelen and Biasca, as some doubtless do
between London and Lewes.

But how small all Europe is.  We seem almost able to take it in at
a single coup d'oeil.  From Mont Blanc we can see the mountains on
the Paris side of Dijon on the one hand, and those above Florence
and Bologna on the other.  What a hole would not be made in Europe
if this great eyeful were scooped out of it.

The fact is (but it is so obvious that I am ashamed to say anything
about it), science is rapidly reducing space to the same
unsatisfactory state that it has already reduced time.  Take lamb:
we can get lamb all the year round.  This is perpetual spring; but
perpetual spring is no spring at all; it is not a season; there are
no more seasons, and being no seasons, there is no time.  Take
rhubarb, again.  Rhubarb to the philosopher is the beginning of
autumn, if indeed, the philosopher can see anything as the
beginning of anything.  If any one asks why, I suppose the
philosopher would say that rhubarb is the beginning of the fruit
season, which is clearly autumnal, according to our present
classification.  From rhubarb to the green gooseberry the step is
so small as to require no bridging--with one's eyes shut, and
plenty of cream and sugar, they are almost indistinguishable--but
the gooseberry is quite an autumnal fruit, and only a little
earlier than apples and plums, which last are almost winter;
clearly, therefore, for scientific purposes rhubarb is autumnal.

As soon as we can find gradations, or a sufficient number of
uniting links between two things, they become united or made one
thing, and any classification of them must be illusory.
Classification is only possible where there is a shock given to the
senses by reason of a perceived difference, which, if it is
considerable, can be expressed in words.  When the world was
younger and less experienced, people were shocked at what appeared
great differences between living forms; but species, whether of
animals or plants, are now seen to be so united, either
inferentially or by actual finding of the links, that all
classification is felt to be arbitrary.  The seasons are like
species--they were at one time thought to be clearly marked, and
capable of being classified with some approach to satisfaction.  It
is now seen that they blend either in the present or the past
insensibly into one another, and cannot be classified except by
cutting Gordian knots in a way which none but plain sensible people
can tolerate.  Strictly speaking, there is only one place, one
time, one action, and one individual or thing; of this thing or
individual each one of us is a part.  It is perplexing, but it is
philosophy; and modem philosophy like modern music is nothing if it
is not perplexing.

A simple verification of the autumnal character of rhubarb may, at
first sight, appear to be found in Covent Garden Market, where we
can actually see the rhubarb towards the end of October.  But this
way of looking at the matter argues a fatal ineptitude for the
pursuit of true philosophy.  It would be a most serious error to
regard the rhubarb that will appear in Covent Garden Market next
October as belonging to the autumn then supposed to be current.
Practically, no doubt, it does so, but theoretically it must be
considered as the first-fruits of the autumn (if any) of the
following year, which begins before the preceding summer (or,
perhaps, more strictly, the preceding summer but one--and hence,
but any number), has well ended.  Whether this, however, is so or
no, the rhubarb can be seen in Covent Garden, and I am afraid it
must be admitted that to the philosophically minded there lurks
within it a theory of evolution, and even Pantheism, as surely as
Theism was lurking in Bishop Berkeley's tar water.

To return, however, to Calonico.  The church is built on the
extreme edge of a cliff that has been formed by the breaking away
of a large fragment of the mountain.  This fragment may be seen
lying down below shattered into countless pieces.  There is a
fissure in the cliff which suggests that at no very distant day
some more will follow, and I am afraid carry the church too.  My
favourite view of the church is from the other side of the small
valley which separates it from the village, (see preceding page).
Another very good view is from closer up to the church.

The curato of Calonico was very kind to me.  We had long talks
together.  I could see it pained him that was not a Catholic.  He
could never quite get over this, but he was very good and tolerant.
He was anxious to be assured that I was not one of those English
who went about distributing tracts, and trying to convert people.
This of course was the last thing I should have wished to do; and
when I told him so, he viewed me with sorrow, but henceforth
without alarm.

All the time I was with him I felt how much I wished could be a
Catholic in Catholic countries, and a Protestant in Protestant
ones.  Surely there are some things which, like politics, are too
serious to be taken quite seriously.  Surtout point de zele is not
the saying of a cynic, but the conclusion of a sensible man; and
the more deep our feeling is about any matter, the more occasion
have we to be on our guard against zele in this particular respect.
There is but one step from the "earnest" to the "intense."  When
St. Paul told us to be all things to all men he let in the thin end
of the wedge, nor did he mark it to say how far it was to be
driven.

I have Italian friends whom I greatly value, and who tell me they
think I flirt just a trifle too much with il partito nero when I am
in Italy, for they know that in the main I think as they do.
"These people," they say, "make themselves very agreeable to you,
and show you their smooth side; we, who see more of them, know
their rough one.  Knuckle under to them, and they will perhaps
condescend to patronise you; have any individuality of your own,
and they know neither scruple nor remorse in their attempts to get
you out of their way.  "Il prete," they say, with a significant
look, "e sempre prete.  For the future let us have professors and
men of science instead of priests."  I smile to myself at this
last, and reply, that I am a foreigner come among them for
recreation, and anxious to keep clear of their internal discords.
I do not wish to cut myself off from one side of their national
character--a side which, in some respects, is no less interesting
than the one with which I suppose I am on the whole more
sympathetic.  If I were an Italian, I should feel bound to take a
side; as it is, I wish to leave all quarrelling behind me, having
as much of that in England as suffices to keep me in good health
and temper.

In old times people gave their spiritual and intellectual sop to
Nemesis.  Even when most positive, they admitted a percentage of
doubt.  Mr. Tennyson has said well, "There lives more doubt"--I
quote from memory--"in honest faith, believe me, than in half the"
systems of philosophy, or words to that effect.  The victor had a
slave at his ear during his triumph; the slaves during the Roman
Saturnalia dressed in their masters' clothes, sat at meat with
them, told them of their faults, and blacked their faces for them.
They made their masters wait upon them.  In the ages of faith, an
ass dressed in sacerdotal robes was gravely conducted to the
cathedral choir at a certain season, and mass was said before him,
and hymns chanted discordantly.  The elder D'Israeli, from whom I
am quoting, writes:  "On other occasions, they put burnt old shoes
to fume in the censers; ran about the church leaping, singing,
dancing, and playing at dice upon the altar, while a BOY BISHOP or
POPE OF FOOLS burlesqued the divine service;" and later on he says:
"So late as 1645, a pupil of Gassendi, writing to his master what
he himself witnessed at Aix on the feast of Innocents, says--'I
have seen in some monasteries in this province extravagances
solemnised, which pagans would not have practised.  Neither the
clergy nor the guardians indeed go to the choir on this day, but
all is given up to the lay brethren, the cabbage cutters, errand
boys, cooks, scullions, and gardeners; in a word, all the menials
fill their places in the church, and insist that they perform the
offices proper for the day.  They dress themselves with all the
sacerdotal ornaments, but torn to rags, or wear them inside out;
they hold in their hands the books reversed or sideways, which they
pretend to read with large spectacles without glasses, and to which
they fix the rinds of scooped oranges . . . ; particularly while
dangling the censers they keep shaking them in derision, and
letting the ashes fly about their heads and faces, one against the
other.  In this equipage they neither sing hymns nor psalms nor
masses, but mumble a certain gibberish as shrill and squeaking as a
herd of pigs whipped on to market.  The nonsense verses they chant
are singularly barbarous:-


Haec est clara dies, clararum clara dierum,
Haec est festa dies festarum festa dierum.'" {8}


Faith was far more assured in the times when the spiritual
saturnalia were allowed than now.  The irreverence which was not
dangerous then, is now intolerable.  It is a bad sign for a man's
peace in his own convictions when he cannot stand turning the
canvas of his life occasionally upside down, or reversing it in a
mirror, as painters do with their pictures that they may judge the
better concerning them.  I would persuade all Jews, Mohammedans,
Comtists, and freethinkers to turn high Anglicans, or better still,
downright Catholics for a week in every year, and I would send
people like Mr. Gladstone to attend Mr. Bradlaugh's lectures in the
forenoon, and the Grecian pantomime in the evening, two or three
times every winter.  I should perhaps tell them that the Grecian
pantomime has nothing to do with Greek plays.  They little know how
much more keenly they would relish their normal opinions during the
rest of the year for the little spiritual outing which I would
prescribe for them, which, after all, is but another phase of the
wise saying--Surtout point de zele.  St. Paul attempted an
obviously hopeless task (as the Church of Rome very well
understands) when he tried to put down seasonarianism.  People must
and will go to church to be a little better, to the theatre to be a
little naughtier, to the Royal Institution to be a little more
scientific, than they are in actual life.  It is only by pulsations
of goodness, naughtiness, and whatever else we affect that we can
get on at all.  I grant that when in his office, a man should be
exact and precise, but our holidays are our garden, and too much
precision here is a mistake.

Surely truces, without even an arriere pensee of difference of
opinion, between those who are compelled to take widely different
sides during the greater part of their lives, must be of infinite
service to those who can enter on them.  There are few merely
spiritual pleasures comparable to that derived from the temporary
laying down of a quarrel, even though we may know that it must be
renewed shortly.  It is a great grief to me that there is no place
where I can go among Mr. Darwin, Professors Huxley, Tyndall, and
Ray Lankester, Miss Buckley, Mr. Romanes, Mr. Allen, and others
whom I cannot call to mind at this moment, as I can go among the
Italian priests.  I remember in one monastery (but this was not in
the Canton Ticino) the novice taught me how to make sacramental
wafers, and I played him Handel on the organ as well as I could.  I
told him that Handel was a Catholic; he said he could tell that by
his music at once.  There is no chance of getting among our
scientists in this way.

Some friends say I was telling a lie when I told the novice Handel
was a Catholic, and ought not to have done so.  I make it a rule to
swallow a few gnats a day, lest I should come to strain at them,
and so bolt camels; but the whole question of lying is difficult.
What IS "lying"?  Turning for moral guidance to my cousins the
lower animals, whose unsophisticated nature proclaims what God has
taught them with a directness we may sometimes study, I find the
plover lying when she lures us from her young ones under the
fiction of a broken wing.  Is God angry, think you, with this
pretty deviation from the letter of strict accuracy? or was it not
He who whispered to her to tell the falsehood--to tell it with a
circumstance, without conscientious scruple, not once only, but to
make a practice of it, so as to be a plausible, habitual, and
professional liar for some six weeks or so in the year?  I imagine
so.  When I was young I used to read in good books that it was God
who taught the bird to make her nest, and if so He probably taught
each species the other domestic arrangements best suited to it.  Or
did the nest-building information come from God, and was there an
evil one among the birds also who taught them at any rate to steer
clear of priggishness?

Think of the spider again--an ugly creature, but I suppose God
likes it.  What a mean and odious lie is that web which naturalists
extol as such a marvel of ingenuity!

Once on a summer afternoon in a far country I met one of those
orchids who make it their business to imitate a fly with their
petals.  This lie they dispose so cunningly that real flies,
thinking the honey is being already plundered, pass them without
molesting them.  Watching intently and keeping very still,
methought I heard this orchid speaking to the offspring which she
felt within her, though I saw them not.  "My children," she
exclaimed, "I must soon leave you; think upon the fly, my loved
ones, for this is truth; cling to this great thought in your
passage through life, for it is the one thing needful; once lose
sight of it and you are lost!"  Over and over again she sang this
burden in a small still voice, and so I left her.  Then straightway
I came upon some butterflies whose profession it was to pretend to
believe in all manner of vital truths which in their inner practice
they rejected; thus, asserting themselves to be certain other and
hateful butterflies which no bird will eat by reason of their
abominable smell, these cunning ones conceal their own sweetness,
and live long in the land and see good days.  No:  lying is so
deeply rooted in nature that we may expel it with a fork, and yet
it will always come back again:  it is like the poor, we must have
it always with us; we must all eat a peck of moral dirt before we
die.

All depends upon who it is that is lying.  One man may steal a
horse when another may not look over a hedge.  The good man who
tells no lies wittingly to himself and is never unkindly, may lie
and lie and lie whenever he chooses to other people, and he will
not be false to any man:  his lies become truths as they pass into
the hearers' ear.  If a man deceives himself and is unkind, the
truth is not in him, it turns to falsehood while yet in his mouth,
like the quails in the Wilderness of Sinai.  How this is so or why,
I know not, but that the Lord hath mercy on whom He will have mercy
and whom He willeth He hardeneth.

My Italian friends are doubtless in the main right about the
priests, but there are many exceptions, as they themselves gladly
admit.  For my own part I have found the curato in the small
subalpine villages of North Italy to be more often than not a
kindly excellent man to whom I am attracted by sympathies deeper
than any mere superficial differences of opinion can counteract.
With monks, however, as a general rule I am less able to get on:
nevertheless, I have received much courtesy at the hands of some.

My young friend the novice was delightful--only it was so sad to
think of the future that is before him.  He wanted to know all
about England, and when I told him it was an island, clasped his
hands and said, "Oh che Provvidenza!"  He told me how the other
young men of his own age plagued him as he trudged his rounds high
up among the most distant hamlets begging alms for the poor.  "Be a
good fellow," they would say to him, "drop all this nonsense and
come back to us, and we will never plague you again."  Then he
would turn upon them and put their words from him.  Of course my
sympathies were with the other young men rather than with him, but
it was impossible not to be sorry for the manner in which he had
been humbugged from the day of his birth, till he was now incapable
of seeing things from any other standpoint than that of authority.

What he said to me about knowing that Handel was a Catholic by his
music, put me in mind of what another good Catholic once said to me
about a picture.  He was a Frenchman and very nice, but a devot,
and anxious to convert me.  He paid a few days' visit to London, so
I showed him the National Gallery.  While there I pointed out to
him Sebastian del Piombo's picture of the raising of Lazarus as one
of the supposed masterpieces of our collection.  He had the proper
orthodox fit of admiration over it, and then we went through the
other rooms.  After a while we found ourselves before West's
picture of "Christ healing the sick."  My French friend did not, I
suppose, examine it very carefully, at any rate he believed he was
again before the raising of Lazarus by Sebastian del Piombo; he
paused before it and had his fit of admiration over again:  then
turning to me he said, "Ah! you would understand this picture
better if you were a Catholic."  I did not tell him of the mistake
he had made, but I thought even a Protestant after a certain amount
of experience would learn to see some difference between Benjamin
West and Sebastian del Piombo.

From Calonico I went down into the main road and walked to
Giornico, taking the right bank of the river from the bridge at the
top of the Biaschina.  Not a sod of the railway was as yet turned.
At Giornico I visited the grand old church of S. Nicolao, which,
though a later foundation than the church at Mairengo, retains its
original condition, and appears, therefore, to be much the older of
the two.  The stones are very massive, and the courses are here and
there irregular as in Cyclopean walls; the end wall is not bonded
into the side walls but simply built between them; the main door is
very fine, and there is a side door also very good.  There are two
altars one above the other, as in the churches of S. Abbondio and
S. Cristoforo at Como, but I could not make the lower altar
intelligible in my sketch, and indeed could hardly see it, so was
obliged to leave it out.  The remains of some very early frescoes
can be seen, but I did not think them remarkable.  Altogether,
however, the church is one which no one should miss seeing who
takes an interest in early architecture.

While painting the study from which the following sketch is taken,
I was struck with the wonderfully vivid green which the whitewashed
vault of the chancel and the arch dividing the chancel from the
body of the church took by way of reflection from the grass and
trees outside.  It is not easy at first to see how the green
manages to find its way inside the church, but the grass seems to
get in everywhere.  I had already often seen green reflected from
brilliant pasturage on to the shadow under the eaves of whitewashed
houses, but I never saw it suffuse a whole interior as it does on a
fine summer's day at Giornico.  I do not remember to have seen this
effect in England.

Looking up again against the mountain through the open door of the
church when the sun was in a certain position, I could see an
infinity of insect life swarming throughout the air.  No one could
have suspected its existence, till the sun's rays fell on the wings
of these small creatures at a proper angle; on this they became
revealed against the darkness of the mountain behind them.  The
swallows that were flying among them cannot have to hunt them, they
need only fly with their mouths wide open and they must run against
as many as will be good for them.  I saw this incredibly
multitudinous swarm extending to a great height, and am satisfied
that it was no more than what is always present during the summer
months, though it is only visible in certain lights.  To these
minute creatures the space between the mountains on the two sides
of the Ticino valley must be as great as that between England and
America to a codfish.  Many, doubtless, live in the mid-air, and
never touch the bottom or sides of the valley, except at birth and
death, if then.  No doubt some atmospheric effects of haze on a
summer's afternoon are due to nothing but these insects.  What,
again, do the smaller of them live upon?  On germs, which to them
are comfortable mouthfuls, though to us invisible even with a
microscope?

I find nothing more in my notes about Giornico except that the
people are very handsome, and, as I thought, of a Roman type.  The
place was a Roman military station, but it does not follow that the
soldiers were Romans; nevertheless, there is a strain of bullet-
headed blood in the place.  Also I remember being told in 1869 that
two bears had been killed in the mountains above Giornico the
preceding year.  At Giornico the vine begins to grow lustily, and
wine is made.  The vines are trellised, and looking down upon them
one would think one could walk upon them as upon a solid surface,
so closely and luxuriantly do they grow.

From Giornico I began to turn my steps homeward in company with an
engineer who was also about to walk back to Faido, but we resolved
to take Chironico on our way, and kept therefore to the right bank
of the river.  After about three or four kilometres from Giornico
we reached Chironico, which is well placed upon a filled-up lake
and envied as a paese ricco, but is not so captivating as some
others.  Hence we ascended till at last we reached Gribbio (3960
ft.), a collection of chalets inhabited only for a short time in
the year, but a nice place in summer, rich in gentians and sulphur-
coloured anemones.  From Gribbio there is a path to Dalpe, offering
no difficulty whatever and perfect in its way.  On this occasion,
however, we went straight back to Faido by a rather shorter way
than the ordinary path, and this certainly was a little difficult,
or as my companion called it, "un tantino difficoltoso," in one or
two places; I at least did not quite like them.

Another day I went to Lavorgo, below Calonico, and thence up to
Anzonico.  The church and churchyard at Anzonico are very good;
from Anzonico there is a path to Cavagnago--which is also full of
good bits for sketching--and Sobrio.  The highest villages in the
immediate neighbourhood of Faido are Campello and Molare; they can
be seen from the market-place of the town, and are well worth the
trouble of a climb.



CHAPTER VI--Piora



An excursion which may be very well made from Faido is to the Val
Piora, which I have already more than once mentioned.  There is a
large hotel here which has been opened some years, but has not
hitherto proved the success which it was hoped it would be.  I have
stayed there two or three times and found it very comfortable;
doubtless, now that Signor Lombardi of the Hotel Prosa has taken
it, it will become a more popular place of resort.

I took a trap from Faido to Ambri, and thence walked over to
Quinto; here the path begins to ascend, and after an hour Ronco is
reached.  There is a house at Ronco where refreshments and
excellent Faido beer can be had.  The old lady who keeps the house
would make a perfect Fate; I saw her sitting at her window
spinning, and looking down over the Ticino valley as though it were
the world and she were spinning its destiny.  She had a somewhat
stern expression, thin lips, iron-grey eyes, and an aquiline nose;
her scanty locks straggled from under the handkerchief which she
wore round her head.  Her employment and the wistful far-away look
she cast upon the expanse below made a very fine ensemble.  "She
would have afforded," as Sir Walter Scott says, "a study for a
Rembrandt, had that celebrated painter existed at the period," {9}
but she must have been a smart-looking handsome girl once.

She brightened up in conversation.  I talked about Piora, which I
already knew, and the Lago Tom, the highest of the three lakes.
She said she knew the Lago Tom.  I said laughingly, "Oh, I have no
doubt you do.  We've had many a good day at the Lago Tom, I know."
She looked down at once.

In spite of her nearly eighty years she was active as a woman of
forty, and altogether she was a very grand old lady.  Her house is
scrupulously clean.  While I watched her spinning, I thought of
what must so often occur to summer visitors.  I mean what sort of a
look-out the old woman must have in winter, when the wind roars and
whistles, and the snow drives down the valley with a fury of which
we in England can have little conception.  What a place to see a
snowstorm from! and what a place from which to survey the landscape
next morning after the storm is over and the air is calm and
brilliant.  There are such mornings:  I saw one once, but I was at
the bottom of the valley and not high up, as at Ronco.  Ronco would
take a little sun even in midwinter, but at the bottom of the
valley there is no sun for weeks and weeks together; all is in deep
shadow below, though the upper hillsides may be seen to have the
sun upon them.  I walked once on a frosty winter's morning from
Airolo to Giornico, and can call to mind nothing in its way more
beautiful:  everything was locked in frost--there was not a
waterwheel but was sheeted and coated with ice:  the road was hard
as granite--all was quiet and seen as through a dark but incredibly
transparent medium.  Near Piotta I met the whole village dragging a
large tree; there were many men and women dragging at it, but they
had to pull hard and they were silent; as I passed them I thought
what comely, well-begotten people they were.  Then, looking up,
there was a sky, cloudless and of the deepest blue, against which
the snow-clad mountains stood out splendidly.  No one will regret a
walk in these valleys during the depth of winter.  But I should
have liked to have looked down from the sun into the sunlessness,
as the old Fate woman at Ronco can do when she sits in winter at
her window; or again, I should like to see how things would look
from this same window on a leaden morning in midwinter after snow
has fallen heavily and the sky is murky and much darker than the
earth.  When the storm is at its height, the snow must search and
search and search even through the double windows with which the
houses are protected.  It must rest upon the frames of the pictures
of saints, and of the sister's "grab," and of the last hours of
Count Ugolino, which adorn the walls of the parlour.  No wonder
there is a S. Maria della Neve--a "St. Mary of the Snow"; but I do
wonder that she has not been painted.

From Ronco the path keeps level and then descends a little so as to
cross the stream that comes down from Piora.  This is near the
village of Altanca, the church of which looks remarkably well from
here.  Then there is an hour and a half's rapid ascent, and at last
all on a sudden one finds one's self on the Lago Ritom, close to
the hotel.

The lake is about a mile, or a mile and a half, long, and half a
mile broad.  It is 6000 feet above the sea, very deep at the lower
end, and does not freeze where the stream issues from it, so that
the magnificent trout in the, lake can get air and live through the
winter.  In many other lakes, as for example the Lago di Tremorgio,
they cannot do this, and hence perish, though the lakes have been
repeatedly stocked.  The trout in the Lago Ritom are said to be the
finest in the world, and certainly I know none so fine myself.
They grow to be as large as moderate-sized salmon, and have a deep
red flesh, very firm and full of flavour.  I had two cutlets off
one for breakfast and should have said they were salmon unless I
had known otherwise.  In winter, when the lake is frozen over, the
people bring their hay from the farther Lake of Cadagno in sledges
across the Lake Ritom.  Here, again, winter must be worth seeing,
but on a rough snowy day Piora must be an awful place.  There are a
few stunted pines near the hotel, but the hillsides are for the
most part bare and green.  Piora in fact is a fine breezy open
upland valley of singular beauty, and with a sweet atmosphere of
cow about it; it is rich in rhododendrons, and all manner of Alpine
flowers, just a trifle bleak, but as bracing as the Engadine
itself.

The first night I was ever in Piora there was a brilliant moon, and
the unruffled surface of the lake took the reflection of the
mountains.  I could see the cattle a mile off, and hear the
tinkling of their bells which danced multitudinously before the ear
as fireflies come and go before the eyes; for all through a fine
summer's night the cattle will feed as though it were day.  A
little above the lake I came upon a man in a cave before a furnace,
burning lime, and he sat looking into the fire with his back to the
moonlight.  He was a quiet moody man, and I am afraid I bored him,
for I could get hardly anything out of him but "Oh altro"--polite
but not communicative.  So after a while I left him with his face
burnished as with gold from the fire, and his back silver with the
moonbeams; behind him were the pastures and the reflections in the
lake and the mountains; and the distant cowbells were ringing.

Then I wandered on till I came to the chapel of S. Carlo; and in a
few minutes found myself on the Lago di Cadagno.  Here I heard that
there were people, and the people were not so much asleep as the
simple peasantry of these upland valleys are expected to be by nine
o'clock in the evening.  For now was the time when they had moved
up from Ronco, Altanca, and other villages in some numbers to cut
the hay, and were living for a fortnight or three weeks in the
chalets upon the Lago di Cadagno.  As I have said, there is a
chapel, but I doubt whether it is attended during this season with
the regularity with which the parish churches of Ronco, Altanca,
&c., are attended during the rest of the year.  The young people, I
am sure, like these annual visits to the high places, and will be
hardly weaned from them.  Happily the hay will be always there, and
will have to be cut by some one, and the old people will send the
young ones.

As I was thinking of these things, I found myself going off into a
doze, and thought the burnished man from the furnace came up and
sat beside me, and laid his hand upon my shoulder.  Then I saw the
green slopes that rise all round the lake were much higher than I
had thought; they went up thousands of feet, and there were pine
forests upon them, while two large glaciers came down in streams
that ended in a precipice of ice, falling sheer into the lake.  The
edges of the mountains against the sky were rugged and full of
clefts, through which I saw thick clouds of dust being blown by the
wind as though from the other side of the mountains.

And as I looked, I saw that this was not dust, but people coming in
crowds from the other side, but so small as to be visible at first
only as dust.  And the people became musicians, and the mountainous
amphitheatre a huge orchestra, and the glaciers were two noble
armies of women-singers in white robes, ranged tier above tier
behind each other, and the pines became orchestral players, while
the thick dust-like cloud of chorus-singers kept pouring in through
the clefts in the precipices in inconceivable numbers.  When I
turned my telescope upon them I saw they were crowded up to the
extreme edge of the mountains, so that I could see underneath the
soles of their boots as their legs dangled in the air.  In the
midst of all, a precipice that rose from out of the glaciers shaped
itself suddenly into an organ, and there was one whose face I well
knew sitting at the keyboard, smiling and pluming himself like a
bird as he thundered forth a giant fugue by way of overture.  I
heard the great pedal notes in the bass stalk majestically up and
down, like the rays of the Aurora that go about upon the face of
the heavens off the coast of Labrador.  Then presently the people
rose and sang the chorus "Venus laughing from the skies;" but ere
the sound had well died away, I awoke, and all was changed; a light
fleecy cloud had filled the whole basin, but I still thought I
heard a sound of music, and a scampering-off of great crowds from
the part where the precipices should be.  The music went thus:-
{10}

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

By and by the cantering, galloping movement became a trotting one,
thus:-

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

After that I heard no more but a little singing from the chalets,
and turned homewards.  When I got to the chapel of S. Carlo, I was
in the moonlight again, and when near the hotel, I passed the man
at the mouth of the furnace with the moon still gleaming upon his
back, and the fire upon his face, and he was very grave and quiet.

Next morning I went along the lake till I came to a good-sized
streamlet on the north side.  If this is followed for half-an-hour
or so--and the walk is a very good one--Lake Tom is reached, about
7500 feet above the sea.  The lake is not large, and there are not
so many chalets as at Cadagno; still there are some.  The view of
the mountain tops on the other side the Ticino valley, as seen from
across the lake, is very fine.  I tried to sketch, but was fairly
driven back by a cloud of black gnats.  The ridges immediately at
the back of the lake, and no great height above it, are the main
dividing line of the watershed; so are those that rise from the
Lago di Cadagno; in fact, about 600 feet above this lake is the top
of a pass which goes through the Piano dei Porci, and leads down to
S. Maria Maggiore, on the German side of the Lukmanier.  I do not
know the short piece between the Lago di Cadagno and S. Maria, but
it is sure to be good.  It is a pity there is no place at S. Maria
where one can put up for a night or two.  There is a small inn
there, but it did not look tempting.

Before leaving the Val Leventina, I would call attention to the
beautiful old parish church at Biasca, where there is now an
excellent inn, the Hotel Biasca.  This church is not so old as the
one at Giornico, but it is a good though plain example of early
Lombard architecture.



CHAPTER VII--S. Michele and the Monte Pirchiriano



Some time after the traveller from Paris to Turin has passed
through the Mont Cenis tunnel, and shortly before he arrives at
Bussoleno station, the line turns eastward, and a view is obtained
of the valley of the Dora, with the hills beyond Turin, and the
Superga, in the distance.  On the right-hand side of the valley and
about half-way between Susa and Turin the eye is struck by an
abruptly-descending mountain with a large building like a castle
upon the top of it, and the nearer it is approached the more
imposing does it prove to be.  Presently the mountain is seen more
edgeways, and the shape changes.  In half-an-hour or so from this
point, S. Ambrogio is reached, once a thriving town, where
carriages used to break the journey between Turin and Susa, but
left stranded since the opening of the railway.  Here we are at the
very foot of the Monte Pirchiriano, for so the mountain is called,
and can see the front of the building--which is none other than the
famous sanctuary of S. Michele, commonly called "della Chiusa,"
from the wall built here by Desiderius, king of the Lombards, to
protect his kingdom from Charlemagne.

The history of the sanctuary is briefly as follows:-

At the close of the tenth century, when Otho III was Emperor of
Germany, a certain Hugh de Montboissier, a noble of Auvergne,
commonly called "Hugh the Unsewn" (lo sdruscito), was commanded by
the Pope to found a monastery in expiation of some grave offence.
He chose for his site the summit of the Monte Pirchiriano in the
valley of Susa, being attracted partly by the fame of a church
already built there by a recluse of Ravenna, Giovanni Vincenzo by
name, and partly by the striking nature of the situation.  Hugh de
Montboissier when returning from Rome to France with Isengarde his
wife, would, as a matter of course, pass through the valley of
Susa.  The two--perhaps when stopping to dine at S. Ambrogio--would
look up and observe the church founded by Giovanni Vincenzo:  they
had got to build a monastery somewhere; it would very likely,
therefore, occur to them that they could not perpetuate their names
better than by choosing this site, which was on a much travelled
road, and on which a fine building would show to advantage.  If my
view is correct, we have here an illustration of a fact which is
continually observable--namely, that all things which come to much,
whether they be books, buildings, pictures, music, or living
beings, are suggested by others of their own kind.  It is; always
the most successful, like Handel and Shakespeare, who owe most to
their forerunners, in spite of the modifications with which their
works descend.

Giovanni Vincenzo had built his church about the year 987.  It is
maintained by some that he had been Bishop of Ravenna, but Claretta
gives sufficient reason for thinking otherwise.  In the "Cronaca
Clusina" it is said that he had for some years previously lived as
a recluse on the Monte Caprasio, to the north of the present Monte
Pirchiriano; but that one night he had a vision, in which he saw
the summit of Monte Pirchiriano enveloped in heaven-descended
flames, and on this founded a church there, and dedicated it to St.
Michael.  This is the origin of the name Pirchiriano, which means
[Greek text], or the Lord's fire.

The fame of the heavenly flames and the piety of pilgrims brought
in enough money to complete the building--which, to judge from the
remains of it embodied in the later work, must have been small, but
still a church, and more than a mere chapel or oratory.  It was, as
I have already suggested, probably imposing enough to fire the
imagination of Hugh de Montboissier, and make him feel the
capabilities of the situation, which a mere ordinary wayside chapel
might perhaps have failed to do.  Having built his church, Giovanni
Vincenzo returned to his solitude on the top of Monte Caprasio, and
thenceforth went backwards and forwards from one place of abode to
the other.

Avogadro is among those who make Giovanni Bishop, or rather
Archbishop, of Ravenna, and gives the following account of the
circumstances which led to his resigning his diocese and going to
live at the top of the inhospitable Monte Caprasio.  It seems there
had been a confirmation at Ravenna, during which he had
accidentally forgotten to confirm the child of a certain widow.
The child, being in weakly health, died before Giovanni could
repair his oversight, and this preyed upon his mind.  In answer,
however, to his earnest prayers, it pleased the Almighty to give
him power to raise the dead child to life again:  this he did, and
having immediately performed the rite of confirmation, restored the
boy to his overjoyed mother.  He now became so much revered that he
began to be alarmed lest pride should obtain dominion over him; he
felt, therefore, that his only course was to resign his diocese,
and go and live the life of a recluse on the top of some high
mountain.  It is said that he suffered agonies of doubt as to
whether it was not selfish of him to take such care of his own
eternal welfare, at the expense of that of his flock, whom no
successor could so well guide and guard from evil; but in the end
he took a reasonable view of the matter, and concluded that his
first duty was to secure his own spiritual position.  Nothing short
of the top of a very uncomfortable mountain could do this, so he at
once resigned his bishopric and chose Monte Caprasio as on the
whole the most comfortable uncomfortable mountain he could find.

The latter part of the story will seem strange to Englishmen.  We
can hardly fancy the Archbishop of Canterbury or York resigning his
diocese and settling down quietly on the top of Scafell or Cader
Idris to secure his eternal welfare.  They would hardly do so even
on the top of Primrose Hill.  But nine hundred years ago human
nature was not the same as nowadays.

The valley of Susa, then little else than marsh and forest, was
held by a marquis of the name of Arduin, a descendant of a French
or Norman adventurer Roger, who, with a brother, also named Arduin,
had come to seek his fortune in Italy at the beginning of the tenth
century.  Roger had a son, Arduin Glabrio, who recovered the valley
of Susa from the Saracens, and established himself at Susa, at the
junction of the roads that come down from Mont Cenis and the Mont
Genevre.  He built a castle here which commanded the valley, and
was his base of operations as Lord of the Marches and Warden of the
Alps.

Hugh de Montboissier applied to Arduin for leave to build upon the
Monte Pirchiriano.  Arduin was then holding his court at Avigliana,
a small town near S. Ambrogio, even now singularly little altered,
and full of mediaeval remains; he not only gave his consent, but
volunteered to sell a site to the monastery, so as to ensure it
against future disturbance.

The first church of Giovanni Vincenzo had been built upon whatever
little space could be found upon the top of the mountain, without,
so far as I can gather, enlarging the ground artificially.  The
present church--the one, that is to say, built by Hugh de
Montboissier about A.D. 1000--rests almost entirely upon stone
piers and masonry.  The rock has been masked by a lofty granite
wall of several feet in thickness, which presents something of a
keep-like appearance.  The spectator naturally imagines that there
are rooms, &c., behind this wall, whereas in point of fact there is
nothing but the staircase leading up to the floor of the church.
Arches spring from this masking wall, and are continued thence
until the rock is reached; it is on the level surface thus obtained
that the church rests.  The true floor, therefore, does not begin
till near what appears from the outside to be the top of the
building.

There is some uncertainty as to the exact date of the foundation of
the monastery, but Claretta {11} inclines decidedly to the date
999, as against 966, the one assigned by Mabillon and Torraneo.
Claretta relies on the discovery, by Provana, of a document in the
royal archives which seems to place the matter beyond dispute.  The
first abbot was undoubtedly Avverto or Arveo, who established the
rules of the Benedictine Order in his monastery.  "In the seven
hours of daily work prescribed by the Benedictine rule," writes
Cesare Balbo, "innumerable were the fields they ploughed, and the
houses they built in deserts, while in more frequented places men
were laying cultivated ground waste, and destroying buildings:
innumerable, again, were the works of the holy fathers and of
ancient authors which were copied and preserved." {12}

From this time forward the monastery received gifts in land and
privileges, and became in a few years the most important religious
establishment in that part of Italy.

There have been several fires--one, among others, in the year 1340,
which destroyed a great part of the monastery, and some of the
deeds under which it held valuable grants; but though the part
inhabited by the monks may have been rebuilt or added to, the
church is certainly untouched.



CHAPTER VIII--S. Michele (continued)



I had often seen this wonderful pile of buildings, and had
marvelled at it, as all must do who pass from Susa to Turin, but I
never went actually up to it till last summer, in company with my
friend and collaborateur, Mr. H. F. Jones.  We reached S. Ambrogio
station one sultry evening in July, and, before many minutes were
over, were on the path that leads to San Pietro, a little more than
an hour's walk above S. Ambrogio.

In spite of what I have said about Kent, Surrey, and Sussex, we
found ourselves thinking how thin and wanting, as it were, in
adipose cushion is every other country in comparison with Italy;
but the charm is enhanced in these days by the feeling that it can
be reached so easily.  Wednesday morning, Fleet Street; Thursday
evening, a path upon the quiet mountain side, under the
overspreading chestnuts, with Lombardy at one's feet.

Some twenty minutes after we had begun to climb, the sanctuary
became lost to sight, large drops of thunder-rain began to fall,
and by the time we reached San Pietro it was pouring heavily, and
had become quite dark.  An hour or so later the sky had cleared,
and there was a splendid moon:  opening the windows, we found
ourselves looking over the tops of trees on to some lovely upland
pastures, on a winding path through which we could almost fancy we
saw a youth led by an angel, and there was a dog with him, and he
held a fish in his hand.  Far below were lights from villages in
the valley of the Dora.  Above us rose the mountains, bathed in
shadow, or glittering in the moonbeams, and there came from them
the pleasant murmuring of streamlets that had been swollen by the
storm.

Next morning the sky was cloudless and the air invigorating.  S.
Ambrogio, at the foot of the mountain, must be some 800 feet above
the sea, and San Pietro about 1500 feet above S. Ambrogio.  The
sanctuary at the top of the mountain is 2800 feet above the sea-
level, or about 500 feet above San Pietro.  A situation more
delightful than that of San Pietro it is impossible to conceive.
It contains some 200 inhabitants, and lies on a ledge of level
land, which is, of course, covered with the most beautifully green
grass, and in spring carpeted with wild-flowers; great broad-leaved
chestnuts rise from out the meadows, and beneath their shade are
strewn masses of sober mulberry-coloured rock; but above all these
rises the great feature of the place, from which, when it is in
sight, the eyes can hardly be diverted,--I mean the sanctuary of S.
Michele itself.

A sketch gives but little idea of the place.  In nature it appears
as one of those fascinating things like the smoke from Vesuvius, or
the town on the Sacro Monte at Varese, which take possession of one
to the exclusion of all else, as long as they are in sight.  From
each point of view it becomes more and more striking.  Climbing up
to it from San Pietro and getting at last nearly on a level with
the lower parts of the building, or again keeping to a pathway
along the side of the mountain towards Avigliana, it will come as
on the following page.

[At this point there is a picture in the book]

There is a very beautiful view from near the spot where the first
of these sketches is taken.  We are then on the very ridge or crest
of the mountain, and look down on the one hand upon the valley of
the Dora going up to Susa, with the glaciers of the Mont Cenis in
the background, and on the other upon the plains near Turin, with
the colline bounding the horizon.  Immediately beneath is seen the
glaring white straight line of the old Mont Cenis road, looking
much more important than the dingy narrow little strip of railroad
that has superseded it.  The trains that pass along the line look
no bigger than caterpillars, but even at this distance they make a
great roar.  If the path from which the second view is taken is
followed for a quarter of an hour or so, another no less beautiful
point is reached from which one can look down upon the two small
lakes of Avigliana.  These lakes supply Turin with water, and, I
may add, with the best water that I know of as supplied to any
town.

We will now return to the place from which the first of the
sketches on p. 95 was taken, and proceed to the sanctuary itself.
Passing the small but very massive circular ruin shown on the right
hand of the sketch, about which nothing whatever is known either as
regards its date or object, we ascend by a gentle incline to the
outer gate of the sanctuary.  The battered plates of iron that
cover the wooden doors are marked with many a bullet.  Then we keep
under cover for a short space, after which we find ourselves at the
foot of a long flight of steps.  Close by there is a little terrace
with a wall round it, where one can stand and enjoy a view over the
valley of the Dora to Turin.

Having ascended the steps, we are at the main entrance to the
building--a massive Lombard doorway, evidently the original one.
In the space above the door there have been two frescoes, an
earlier and a later one, one painted over the other, but nothing
now remains save the signature of the second painter, signed in
Gothic characters.  On entering, more steps must be at once
climbed, and then the staircase turns at right angles and tends
towards the rock.

At the head of the flight shown p. 98, the natural rock appears.
The arch above it forms a recess filled with desiccated corpses.
The great pier to the left, and, indeed, all the masonry that can
be seen, has no other object than to obtain space for, and to
support, the floor of the church itself.  My drawing was taken from
about the level of the top of the archway through which the
building is entered.  There comes in at this point a third small
staircase from behind; ascending this, one finds one's self in the
window above the door, from the balcony of which there is a
marvellous panorama.  I took advantage of the window to measure the
thickness of the walls, and found them a little over seven feet
thick and built of massive granite blocks.  The stones on the
inside are so sharp and clean cut that they look as if they were
not more than fifty years old.  On the outside, the granite, hard
as it is, is much weathered, which, indeed, considering the exposed
situation, is hardly to be wondered at.

Here again how the wind must howl and whistle, and how the snow
must beat in winter!  No one who has not seen snow falling during a
time when the thermometer is about at zero can know how searching a
thing it is.  How softly would it not lie upon the skulls and
shoulders of the skeletons.  Fancy a dull dark January afternoon's
twilight upon this staircase, after a heavy snow, when the soft
fleece clings to the walls, having drifted in through many an
opening.  Or fancy a brilliant winter's moonlight, with the moon
falling upon the skeletons after snow.  And then let there be a
burst of music from an organ in the church above (I am sorry to say
they have only a harmonium; I wish some one would give them a fine
organ).  I should like the following for example:- {13}

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

How this would sound upon these stairs, if they would leave the
church-door open.  It is said in Murray's handbook that formerly
the corpses which are now under the arch, used to be placed in a
sitting position upon the stairs, and the peasants would crown them
with flowers.  Fancy twilight or moonlight on these stairs, with
the corpses sitting among the withered flowers and snow, and the
pealing of a great organ.

After ascending the steps that lead towards the skeletons, we turn
again sharp round to the left, and come upon another noble flight--
broad and lofty, and cut in great measure from the living rock.

At the top of this flight there are two sets of Lombard portals,
both of them very fine, but in such darkness and so placed that it
was impossible to get a drawing of them in detail.  After passing
through them, the staircase turns again, and, as far as I can
remember, some twenty or thirty steps bring one up to the level of
the top of the arch which forms the recess where the corpses are.
Here there is another beautiful Lombard doorway, with a small
arcade on either side which I thought English, rather than Italian,
in character.  An impression was produced upon both of us that this
doorway and the arcade on either side were by a different architect
from the two lower archways, and from the inside of the church; or
at any rate, that the details of the enrichment were cut by a
different mason, or gang of masons.  I think, however, the whole
doorway is in a later style, and must have been put in after some
fire had destroyed the earlier one.

Opening the door, which by day is always unlocked, we found
ourselves in the church itself.  As I have said, it is of pure
Lombard architecture, and very good of its kind; I do not think it
has been touched since the beginning of the eleventh century,
except that it has been re-roofed and the pitch of the roof
altered.  At the base of the most westerly of the three piers that
divide the nave from the aisles, there crops out a small piece of
the living rock; this is at the end farthest from the choir.  It is
not likely that Giovanni Vincenzo's church reached east of this
point, for from this point onwards towards the choir the floor is
artificially supported, and the supporting structure is due
entirely to Hugo de Montboissier.  The part of the original church
which still remains is perhaps the wall, which forms the western
limit of the present church.  This wall is not external.  It forms
the eastern wall of a large chamber with frescoes.  I am not sure
that this chamber does not occupy the whole space of the original
church.

There are a few nice votive pictures in the church, and one or two
very early frescoes, which are not without interest; but the main
charm of the place is in the architecture, and the sense at once of
age and strength which it produces.  The stock things to see are
the vaults in which many of the members of the royal house of
Savoy, legitimate and illegitimate, lie buried; they need not,
however, be seen.

I have said that the whole building is of much about the same date,
and, unless perhaps in the residential parts, about which I can say
little, has not been altered.  This is not the view taken by the
author of Murray's Handbook for North Italy, who says that
"injudicious repairs have marred the effect of the building;" but
this writer has fallen into several errors.  He talks, for example,
of the "open Lombard gallery of small circular arches" as being
"one of the oldest and most curious features of the building,"
whereas it is obviously no older than the rest of the church, nor
than the keep-like construction upon which it rests.  Again, he is
clearly in error when he says that the "extremely beautiful
circular arch by which we pass from the staircase to the corridor
leading to the church, is a vestige of the original building."  The
double round arched portals through which we pass from the main
staircase to the corridor are of exactly the same date as the
staircase itself, and as the rest of the church.  They certainly
formed no part of Giovanni Vincenzo's edifice; for, besides being
far too rich, they are not on a level with what remains of that
building, but several feet below it.  It is hard to know what the
writer means by "the original building;" he appears to think it
extended to the present choir, which, he says, "retains traces of
an earlier age."  The choir retains no such traces.  The only
remains of the original church are at the back of the west end,
invisible from the inside of the church, and at the opposite end to
the choir.  As for the church being "in a plain Gothic style," it
is an extremely beautiful example of pure Lombard, of the first few
years of the eleventh century.  True, the middle arch of the three
which divide the nave from the aisles is pointed, whereas the two
others are round, but this is evidently done to economise space,
which was here unusually costly.  There was room for more than two
round arches, but not room enough for three, so it was decided to
dock the middle arch a little.  It is a she-arch--that is to say,
it has no keystone, but is formed simply by propping two segments
of a circle one against the other.  It certainly is not a Gothic
arch; it is a Lombard arch, modified in an unusual manner, owing to
its having been built under unusual conditions.

The visitor should on no account omit to ring the bell and ask to
be shown the open Lombard gallery already referred to as running
round the outside of the choir.  It is well worth walking round
this, if only for the view.

The official who showed us round was very kind, and as a personal
favour we were allowed to visit the fathers' private garden.  The
large arm-chairs are made out of clipped box-trees.  While on our
way to the garden we passed a spot where there was an alarming
buzzing, and found ourselves surrounded by what appeared to be an
angry swarm of bees; closer inspection showed that the host was a
medley one, composed of wasps, huge hornets, hive-bees, humble-
bees, flies, dragon-flies, butterflies, and all kinds of insects,
flying about a single patch of ivy in full blossom, which attracted
them so strongly that they neglected everything else.  I think some
of them were intoxicated.  If this was so, then perhaps Bacchus is
called "ivy-crowned" because ivy-blossoms intoxicate insects, but I
never remember to have before observed that ivy-blossoms had any
special attraction for insects.

I have forgotten to say anything about a beam of wood which may be
seen standing out at right angles from the tower to the right of
the main building.  This I believe to have been the gallows.
Another like it may be seen at S. Giorio, but I have not got it in
my sketch of that place.  The attendant who took us round S.
Michele denied that it was the gallows, but I think it must have
been.  Also, the attendant showed us one place which is called Il
Salto della belle Alda.  Alda was being pursued by a soldier; to
preserve her honour, she leaped from a window and fell over a
precipice some hundreds of feet below; by the intercession of the
Virgin she was saved, but became so much elated that she determined
to repeat the feat.  She jumped a second time from the window, but
was dashed to pieces.  We were told this as being unworthy of
actual credence, but as a legend of the place.  We said we found no
great difficulty in believing the first half of the story, but
could hardly believe that any one would jump from that window
twice. {14}



CHAPTER IX--The North Italian Priesthood



There is now a school in the sanctuary; we met the boys several
times.  They seemed well cared for and contented.  The priests who
reside in the sanctuary were courtesy itself; they took a warm
interest in England, and were anxious for any information I could
give them about the monastery near Loughborough--a name which they
had much difficulty in pronouncing.  They were perfectly tolerant,
and ready to extend to others the consideration they expected for
themselves.  This should not be saying much, but as things go it is
saying a good deal.  What indeed more can be wished for?

The faces of such priests as these--and I should say such priests
form a full half of the North Italian priesthood--are perfectly
free from that bad furtive expression which we associate with
priestcraft, and which, when seen, cannot be mistaken:  their faces
are those of our own best English country clergy, with perhaps a
trifle less flesh about them and a trifle more of a not unkindly
asceticism.

Comparing our own clergy with the best North Italian and Ticinese
priests, I should say there was little to choose between them.  The
latter are in a logically stronger position, and this gives them
greater courage in their opinions; the former have the advantage in
respect of money, and the more varied knowledge of the world which
money will command.  When I say Catholics have logically the
advantage over Protestants, I mean that starting from premises
which both sides admit, a merely logical Protestant will find
himself driven to the Church of Rome.  Most men as they grow older
will, I think, feel this, and they will see in it the explanation
of the comparatively narrow area over which the Reformation
extended, and of the gain which Catholicism has made of late years
here in England.  On the other hand, reasonable people will look
with distrust upon too much reason.  The foundations of action lie
deeper than reason can reach.  They rest on faith--for there is no
absolutely certain incontrovertible premise which can be laid by
man, any more than there is any investment for money or security in
the daily affairs of life which is absolutely unimpeachable.  The
funds are not absolutely sale; a volcano might break out under the
Bank of England.  A railway journey is not absolutely safe; one
person, at least, in several millions gets killed.  We invest our
money upon faith mainly.  We choose our doctor upon faith, for how
little independent judgment can we form concerning his capacity?
We choose schools for our children chiefly upon faith.  The most
important things a man has are his body, his soul, and his money.
It is generally better for him to commit these interests to the
care of others of whom he can know little, rather than be his own
medical man, or invest his money on his own judgment; and this is
nothing else than making a faith which lies deeper than reason can
reach, the basis of our action in those respects which touch us
most nearly.

On the other hand, as good a case could be made out for placing
reason as the foundation, inasmuch as it would be easy to show that
a faith, to be worth anything, must be a reasonable one--one, that
is to say, which is based upon reason.  The fact is, that faith and
reason are like desire and power, or demand and supply; it is
impossible to say which comes first:  they come up hand in hand,
and are so small when we can first descry them, that it is
impossible to say which we first caught sight of.  All we can now
see is that each has a tendency continually to outstrip the other
by a little, but by a very little only.  Strictly they are not two
things, but two aspects of one thing; for convenience sake,
however, we classify them separately.

It follows, therefore--but whether it follows or no, it is
certainly true--that neither faith alone nor reason alone is a
sufficient guide:  a man's safety lies neither in faith nor reason,
but in temper--in the power of fusing faith and reason, even when
they appear most mutually destructive.  A man of temper will be
certain in spite of uncertainty, and at the same time uncertain in
spite of certainty; reasonable in spite of his resting mainly upon
faith rather than reason, and full of faith even when appealing
most strongly to reason.  If it is asked, In what should a man have
faith?  To what faith should he turn when reason has led him to a
conclusion which he distrusts? the answer is, To the current
feeling among those whom he most looks up to--looking upon himself
with suspicion if he is either among the foremost or the laggers.
In the rough, homely common sense of the community to which we
belong we have as firm ground as can be got.  This, though not
absolutely infallible, is secure enough for practical purposes.

As I have said, Catholic priests have rather a fascination for me--
when they are not Englishmen.  I should say that the best North
Italian priests are more openly tolerant than our English clergy
generally are.  I remember picking up one who was walking along a
road, and giving him a lift in my trap.  Of course we fell to
talking, and it came out that I was a member of the Church of
England.  "Ebbene, caro Signore," said he when we shook hands at
parting; "mi rincresce che Lei non crede come me, ma in questi
tempi non possiamo avere tutti i medesimi principii." {15}

I travelled another day from Susa to S. Ambrogio with a priest, who
told me he took in "The Catholic Times," and who was well up to
date on English matters.  Being myself a Conservative, I found his
opinions sound on all points but one--I refer to the Irish
question:  he had no sympathy with the obstructionists in
Parliament, but nevertheless thought the Irish were harshly
treated.  I explained matters as well as I could, and found him
very willing to listen to our side of the question.

The one thing, he said, which shocked him with the English, was the
manner in which they went about distributing tracts upon the
Continent.  I said no one could deplore the practice more
profoundly than myself, but that there were stupid and conceited
people in every country, who would insist upon thrusting their
opinions upon people who did not want them.  He replied that the
Italians travelled not a little in England, but that he was sure
not one of them would dream of offering Catholic tracts to people,
for example, in the streets of London.  Certainly I have never seen
an Italian to be guilty of such rudeness.  It seems to me that it
is not only toleration that is a duty; we ought to go beyond this
now; we should conform, when we are among a sufficient number of
those who would not understand our refusal to do so; any other
course is to attach too much importance at once to our own opinions
and to those of our opponents.  By all means let a man stand by his
convictions when the occasion requires, but let him reserve his
strength, unless it is imperatively called for.  Do not let him
exaggerate trifles, and let him remember that everything is a
trifle in comparison with the not giving offence to a large number
of kindly, simple-minded people.  Evolution, as we all know, is the
great doctrine of modern times; the very essence of evolution
consists in the not shocking anything too violently, but enabling
it to mistake a new action for an old one, without "making believe"
too much.

One day when I was eating my lunch near a fountain, there came up a
moody, meditative hen, crooning plaintively after her wont.  I
threw her a crumb of bread while she was still a good way off, and
then threw more, getting her to come a little closer and a little
closer each time; at last she actually took a piece from my hand.
She did not quite like it, but she did it.  This is the evolution
principle; and if we wish those who differ from us to understand
us, it is the only method to proceed upon.  I have sometimes
thought that some of my friends among the priests have been
treating me as I treated the meditative hen.  But what of that?
They will not kill and eat me, nor take my eggs.  Whatever,
therefore, promotes a more friendly feeling between us must be pure
gain.

The mistake our advanced Liberals make is that of flinging much too
large pieces of bread at a time, and flinging them at their hen,
instead of a little way off her.  Of course the hen is fluttered
and driven away.  Sometimes, too, they do not sufficiently
distinguish between bread and stones.

As a general rule, the common people treat the priests
respectfully, but once I heard several attacking one warmly on the
score of eternal punishment.  "Sara," said one, "per cento anni,
per cinque cento, per mille o forse per dieci mille anni, ma non
sara eterna; perche il Dio e un uomo forte--grande, generoso, di
buon cuore." {16}  An Italian told me once that if ever I came upon
a priest whom I wanted to tease, I was to ask him if he knew a
place called La Torre Pellice.  I have never yet had the chance of
doing this; for, though I am fairly quick at seeing whether I am
likely to get on with a priest or no, I find the priest is
generally fairly quick too; and I am no sooner in a diligence or
railway carriage with an unsympathetic priest, than he curls
himself round into a moral ball and prays horribly--bristling out
with collects all over like a cross-grained spiritual hedgehog.
Partly, therefore, from having no wish to go out of my way to make
myself obnoxious, and partly through the opposite party being
determined that I shall not get the chance, the question about La
Torre Pellice has never come off, and I do not know what a priest
would say if the subject were introduced,--but I did get a talking
about La Torre Pellice all the same.

I was going from Turin to Pinerolo, and found myself seated
opposite a fine-looking elderly gentleman who was reading a paper
headed, "Le Temoin, Echo des Vallees Vaudoises":  for the Vaudois,
or Waldenses, though on the Italian side of the Alps, are French in
language and perhaps in origin.  I fell to talking with this
gentleman, and found he was on his way to La Torre Pellice, the
headquarters of indigenous Italian evangelicism.  He told me there
were about 25,000 inhabitants of these valleys, and that they were
without exception Protestant, or rather that they had never
accepted Catholicism, but had retained the primitive Apostolic
faith in its original purity.  He hinted to me that they were
descendants of some one or more of the lost ten tribes of Israel.
The English, he told me (meaning, I gather, the English of the
England that affects Exeter Hall), had done great things for the
inhabitants of La Torre at different times, and there were streets
called the Via Williams and Via Beckwith.  They were, he said, a
very growing sect, and had missionaries and establishments in all
the principal cities in North Italy; in fact, so far as I could
gather, they were as aggressive as malcontents generally are, and,
Italians though they were, would give away tracts just as readily
as we do.  I did not, therefore, go to La Torre.

Sometimes priests say things, as a matter of course, which would
make any English clergyman's hair stand on end.  At one town there
is a remarkable fourteenth-century bridge, commonly known as "The
Devil's Bridge."  I was sketching near this when a jolly old priest
with a red nose came up and began a conversation with me.  He was
evidently a popular character, for every one who passed greeted
him.  He told me that the devil did not really build the bridge.  I
said I presumed not, for he was not in the habit of spending his
time so well.

"I wish he had built it," said my friend; "for then perhaps he
would build us some more."

"Or we might even get a church out of him," said I, a little slyly.

"Ha, ha, ha! we will convert him, and make a good Christian of him
in the end."

When will our Protestantism, or Rationalism, or whatever it may be,
sit as lightly upon ourselves?



CHAPTER X--S. Ambrogio and Neighbourhood



Since the opening of the railway, the old inn where the diligences
and private carriages used to stop has been closed; but I was made,
in a homely way, extremely comfortable at the Scudo di Francia,
kept by Signor Bonaudo and his wife.  I stayed here over a
fortnight, during which I made several excursions.

One day I went to San Giorio, as it is always written though San
Giorgio is evidently intended.  Here there is a ruined castle,
beautifully placed upon a hill; this castle shows well from the
railway shortly after leaving Bussoleno station, on the right hand
going towards Turin.  Having been struck with it, I went by train
to Bussoleno (where there is much that I was unwillingly compelled
to neglect), and walked back to San Giorio.  On my way, however, I
saw a patch of Cima-da-Conegliano-looking meadow-land on a hill
some way above me, and on this there rose from among the chestnuts
what looked like a castellated mansion.  I thought it well to make
a digression to this, and when I got there, after a lovely walk,
knocked at the door, having been told by peasants that there would
be no difficulty about my taking a look round.  The place is called
the Castel Burrello, and is tenanted by an old priest who has
retired hither to end his days.  I sent in my card and business by
his servant, and by-and-by he came out to me himself.

"Vous etes Anglais, monsieur?" said he in French.

"Oui, monsieur."

"Vous etes Catholique?"

"Monsieur, je suis de la religion de mes peres."

"Pardon, monsieur, vos ancetres etaient Catholiques jusqu'au temps
de Henri VIII."

"Mais il y a trois cent ans depuis le temps de Henri VIII."

"Eh bien! chacun a ses convictions; vous ne parlez pas contre la
religion?"

"Jamais, jamais, monsieur; j'ai un respect enorme pour l'Eglise
Catholique."

"Monsieur, faites comme chez vous; allez ou vous voulez; vous
trouverez toutes les portes ouvertes.  Amusez-vous bien."

He then explained to me that the castle had never been a properly
fortified place, being intended only as a summer residence for the
barons of Bussoleno, who used to resort hither during the extreme
heat, if times were tolerably quiet.  After this he left me.
Taking him at his word, I walked all round, but there was only a
shell remaining; the rest of the building had evidently been burnt,
even the wing in which the present proprietor resides being, if I
remember rightly, modernised.  The site, however, and the sloping
meadows which the castle crowns, are of extreme beauty.

I now walked down to San Giorio, and found a small inn where I
could get bread, butter, eggs, and good wine.  I was waited upon by
a good-natured boy, the son of the landlord, who was accompanied by
a hawk that sat always either upon his hand or shoulder.  As I
looked at the pair I thought they were very much alike, and
certainly they were very much in love with one another.  After
dinner I sketched the castle.  While I was doing so, a gentleman
told me that a large breach in the wall was made a few years ago,
and a part of the wall found to be hollow, the bottom of the hollow
part being unwittingly removed, there fell through a skeleton in a
full suit of armour.  Others, whom I asked, had heard nothing of
this.

Talking of hawks, I saw a good many boys with tame young hawks in
the villages round about.  There was a tame hawk at the station of
S. Ambrogio.  The station-master said it used to go now and again
to the church-steeple to catch sparrows, but would always return in
an hour or two.  Before my stay was over it got in the way of a
passing train and was run over.

Young birds are much eaten in this neighbourhood.  The houses and
barns, not to say the steeples of the churches, are to be seen
stuck about with what look like terra-cotta water-bottles with the
necks outwards.  Two or three may be seen in the illustration on p.
113 outside the window that comes out of the roof, on the left-hand
side of the picture.  I have seen some outside an Italian
restaurant near Lewisham.  They are artificial bird's-nests for the
sparrows to build in:  as soon as the young are old enough they are
taken and made into a pie.  The church-tower near the Hotel de la
Poste at Lanzo is more stuck about with them than any other
building that I have seen.

Swallows and hawks are about the only birds whose young are not
eaten.  One afternoon I met a boy with a jay on his finger:  having
imprudently made advances to this young gentleman in the hopes of
getting acquainted with the bird, he said he thought I had better
buy it and have it for my dinner; but I did not fancy it.  Another
day I saw the padrona at the inn-door talking to a lad, who pulled
open his shirt-front and showed some twenty or thirty nestlings in
the simple pocket formed by his shirt on the one side and his skin
upon the other.  The padrona wanted me to say I should like to eat
them, in which case she would have bought them; but one cannot get
all the nonsense one hears at home out of one's head in a moment,
and I am afraid I preached a little.  The padrona, who is one of
the most fascinating women in the world, and at sixty is still
handsome, looked a little vexed and puzzled:  she admitted the
truth of what I said, but pleaded that the boys found it very hard
to gain a few soldi, and if people didn't kill and eat one thing,
they would another.  The result of it all was that I determined for
the future to leave young birds to their fate; they and the boys
must settle that matter between themselves.  If the young bird was
a boy, and the boy a young bird, it would have been the boy who was
taken ruthlessly from his nest and eaten.  An old bird has no right
to have a homestead, and a young bird has no right to exist at all,
unless they can keep both homestead and existence out of the way of
boys who are in want of half-pence.  It is all perfectly right, and
when we go and stay among these charming people, let us do so as
learners, not as teachers.

I watched the padrona getting my supper ready.  With what art do
not these people manage their fire.  The New Zealand Maoris say the
white man is a fool:  "He makes a large fire, and then has to sit
away from it; the Maori makes a small fire, and sits over it."  The
scheme of an Italian kitchen-fire is that there shall always be one
stout log smouldering on the hearth, from which a few live coals
may be chipped off if wanted, and put into the small square
gratings which are used for stewing or roasting.  Any warming up,
or shorter boiling, is done on the Maori principle of making a
small fire of light dry wood, and feeding it frequently.  They
economise everything.  Thus I saw the padrona wash some hen's eggs
well in cold water; I did not see why she should wash them before
boiling them, but presently the soup which I was to have for my
supper began to boil.  Then she put the eggs into the soup and
boiled them in it.

After supper I had a talk with the padrone, who told me I was
working too hard.  "Totam noctem," said he in Latin, "lavoravimus
et nihil incepimus."  ("We have laboured all night and taken
nothing.")  "Oh!" he continued, "I have eyes and ears in my head."
And as he spoke, with his right hand he drew down his lower eyelid,
and with his left pinched the pig of his ear.  "You will be ill if
you go on like this."  Then he laid his hand along his cheek, put
his head on one side, and shut his eyes, to imitate a sick man in
bed.  On this I arranged to go an excursion with him on the day
following to a farm he had a few miles off, and to which he went
every Friday.

We went to Borgone station, and walked across the valley to a
village called Villar Fochiardo.  Thence we began gently to ascend,
passing under some noble chestnuts.  Signor Bonaudo said that this
is one of the best chestnut-growing districts in Italy.  A good
tree, he told me, would give its forty francs a year.  This seems
as though chestnut-growing must be lucrative, for an acre should
carry some five or six trees, and there is no outlay to speak of.
Besides the chestnuts, the land gives a still further return by way
of the grass that grows beneath them.  Walnuts do not yield nearly
so much per tree as chestnuts do.  In three-quarters of an hour or
so we reached Signor Bonaudo's farm, which was called the Casina di
Banda.  The buildings had once been a monastery, founded at the
beginning of the seventeenth century and secularised by the first
Napoleon, but had been purchased from the state a few years ago by
Signor Bonaudo, in partnership with three others, after the passing
of the Church Property Act.  It is beautifully situated some
hundreds of feet above the valley, and commands a lovely view of
the Comba, as it is called, or Combe of Susa.  The accompanying
sketch will give an idea of the view looking towards Turin.  The
large building on the hill is, of course, S. Michele.  The very
distant dome is the Superga on the other side of Turin.

The first thing Signor Bonaudo did when he got to his farm was to
see whether the water had been duly turned on to his own portion of
the estate.  Each of the four purchasers had his separate portion,
and each had a right to the water for thirty-six hours per week.
Signor Bonaudo went round with his hind at once, and saw that the
dams in the ducts were so opened or closed that his own land was
being irrigated.

Nothing can exceed the ingenuity with which the little canals are
arranged so that each part of a meadow, however undulating, shall
be saturated equally.  The people are very jealous of their water
rights, and indeed not unnaturally, for the yield of grass depends
in very great measure upon the amount of irrigation which the land
can get.

The matter of the water having been seen to, we went to the
monastery, or, as it now is, the homestead.  As we entered the
farmyard we found two cows fighting, and a great strapping wench
belabouring them in order to separate them.  "Let them alone," said
the padrone; "let them fight it out here on the level ground."
Then he explained to me that he wished them to find out which was
mistress, and fall each of them into her proper place, for if they
fought on the rough hillsides they might easily break each other's
necks.

We walked all over the monastery.  The day was steamy with frequent
showers, and thunderstorms in the air.  The rooms were dark and
mouldy, and smelt rather of rancid cheese, but it was not a bad
sort of rambling old place, and if thoroughly done up would make a
delightful inn.  There is a report that there is hidden treasure
here.  I do not know a single old castle or monastery in North
Italy about which no such report is current, but in the present
case there seems more than usual ground (so the hind told me) for
believing the story to be well founded, for the monks did certainly
smelt the quartz in the neighbourhood, and as no gold was ever
known to leave the monastery, it is most likely that all the
enormous quantity which they must have made in the course of some
two centuries is still upon the premises, if one could only lay
one's hands upon it.  So reasonable did this seem, that about two
years ago it was resolved to call in a somnambulist or clairvoyant
from Turin, who, when he arrived at the spot, became seized with
convulsions, betokening of course that there was treasure not far
off:  these convulsions increased till he reached the choir of the
chapel, and here he swooned--falling down as if dead, and being
resuscitated with apparent difficulty.  He afterwards declared that
it was in this chapel that the treasure was hidden.  In spite of
all this, however, the chapel has not been turned upside down and
ransacked, perhaps from fear of offending the saint to whom it is
dedicated.

In the chapel there are a few votive pictures, but not very
striking ones.  I hurriedly sketched one, but have failed to do it
justice.  The hind saw me copying the little girl in bed, and I had
an impression as though he did not quite understand my motive.  I
told him I had a dear little girl of my own at home, who had been
alarmingly ill in the spring, and that this picture reminded me of
her.  This made everything quite comfortable.

We had brought up our dinner from S. Ambrogio, and ate it in what
had been the refectory of the monastery.  The windows were broken,
and the swallows, who had built upon the ceiling inside the room,
kept flying close to us all the time we were eating.  Great mallows
and hollyhocks peered in at the window, and beyond them there was a
pretty Devonshire-looking orchard.  The noontide sun streamed in at
intervals between the showers.

After dinner we went "al cresto della collina"--to the crest of the
hill--to use Signor Bonaudo's words, and looked down upon S.
Giorio, and the other villages of the Combe of Susa.  Nothing could
be more delightful.  Then, getting under the chestnuts, I made the
sketch which I have already given.  While making it I was accosted
by an underjawed man (there is an unusually large percentage of
underjawed people in the neighbourhood of S. Ambrogio), who asked
whether my taking this sketch must not be considered as a sign that
war was imminent.  The people in this valley have bitter and
comparatively recent experience of war, and are alarmed at anything
which they fancy may indicate its recurrence.  Talking further with
him, he said, "Here we have no signori; we need not take off our
hats to any one except the priest.  We grow all we eat, we spin and
weave all we wear; if all the world except our own valley were
blotted out, it would make no difference, so long as we remain as
we are and unmolested."  He was a wild, weird, St. John the Baptist
looking person, with shaggy hair, and an Andrea Mantegnesque
feeling about him.  I gave him a pipe of English tobacco, which he
seemed to relish, and so we parted.

I stayed a week or so at another place not a hundred miles from
Susa, but I will not name it, for fear of causing offence.  It was
situated high, above the valley of the Dora, among the pastures,
and just about the upper limit of the chestnuts.  It offers a
summer retreat, of which the people in Turin avail themselves in
considerable numbers.  The inn was a more sophisticated one than
Signor Bonaudo's house at S. Ambrogio, and there were several Turin
people staying there as well as myself, but there were no English.
During the whole time I was in that neighbourhood I saw not a
single English, French, or German tourist.  The ways of the inn,
therefore, were exclusively Italian, and I had a better opportunity
of seeing the Italians as they are among themselves than I ever had
before.

Nothing struck me more than the easy terms on which every one,
including the waiter, appeared to be with every one else.  This,
which in England would be impossible, is here not only possible but
a matter of course, because the general standard of good breeding
is distinctly higher than it is among ourselves.  I do not mean to
say that there are no rude or unmannerly Italians, but that there
are fewer in proportion than there are in any other nation with
which I have acquaintance.  This is not to be wondered at, for the
Italians have had a civilisation for now some three or four
thousand years, whereas all other nations are, comparatively
speaking, new countries, with a something even yet of colonial
roughness pervading them.  As the colonies to England, so is
England to Italy in respect of the average standard of courtesy and
good manners.  In a new country everything has a tendency to go
wild again, man included; and the longer civilisation has existed
in any country the more trustworthy and agreeable will its
inhabitants be.  This preface is necessary, as explaining how it is
possible that things can be done in Italy without offence which
would be intolerable elsewhere; but I confess to feeling rather
hopeless of being able to describe what I actually saw without
giving a wrong impression concerning it.

Among the visitors was the head confidential clerk of a well-known
Milanese house, with his wife and sister.  The sister was an
invalid, and so also was the husband, but the wife was a very
pretty woman and a very merry one.  The waiter was a good-looking
young fellow of about five-and-twenty, and between him and Signora
Bonvicino--for we will say this was the clerk's name--there sprang
up a violent flirtation, all open and above board.  The waiter was
evidently very fond of her, but said the most atrociously impudent
things to her from time to time.  Dining under the veranda at the
next table I heard the Signora complain that the cutlets were
burnt.  So they were--very badly burnt.  The waiter looked at them
for a moment--threw her a contemptuous glance, clearly intended to
provoke war--"Chi non ha appetito {17} . . . " he exclaimed, and
was moving off with a shrug of the shoulders.  The Signora
recognising a challenge, rose instantly from the table, and
catching him by the nape of his neck, kicked him deftly downstairs
into the kitchen, both laughing heartily, and the husband and
sister joining.  I never saw anything more neatly done.  Of course,
in a few minutes some fresh and quite unexceptionable cutlets made
their appearance.

Another morning, when I came down to breakfast, I found an
altercation going on between the same pair as to whether the lady's
nose was too large or not.  It was not at all too large.  It was a
very pretty little nose.  The waiter was maintaining that it was
too large, and the lady that it was not.

One evening Signor Bonvicino told me that his employer had a very
large connection in England, and that though he had never been in
London, he knew all about it almost as well as if he had.  The
great centre of business, he said, was in Red Lion Square.  It was
here his employer's agent resided, and this was a more important
part than even the city proper.  I threw a drop or two of cold
water on this, but without avail.  Presently I asked what the
waiter's name was, not having been able to catch it.  I asked this
of the Signora, and saw a little look on her face as though she
were not quite prepared to reply.  Not understanding this, I
repeated my question.

"Oh! his name is Cesare," was the answer.

"Cesare! but that is not the name I hear you call him by."

"Well, perhaps not; we generally call him Cricco," {18} and she
looked as if she had suddenly remembered having been told that
there were such things as prigs, and might, for aught she knew, be
in the presence of one of these creatures now.

Her husband came to the rescue.  "Yes," said he, "his real name is
Julius Caesar, but we call him Cricco.  Cricco e un nome di paese;
parlando cosi non si offende la religione." {19}

The Roman Catholic religion, if left to itself and not compelled to
be introspective, is more kindly and less given to taking offence
than outsiders generally believe.  At the Sacro Monte of Varese
they sell little round tin boxes that look like medals, and contain
pictures of all the chapels.  In the lid of the box there is a
short printed account of the Sacro Monte, which winds up with the
words, "La religione e lo stupendo panorama tirano numerosi ed
allegri visitatori." {20}

Our people are much too earnest to allow that a view could have
anything to do with taking people up to the top of a hill where
there was a cathedral, or that people could be "merry" while on an
errand connected with religion.

On leaving this place I wanted to say good-bye to Signora
Bonvicino, and could not find her; after a time I heard she was at
the fountain, so I went and found her on her knees washing her
husband's and her own clothes, with her pretty round arms bare
nearly to the shoulder.

It never so much as occurred to her to mind being caught at this
work.

Some months later, shortly before winter, I returned to the same
inn for a few days, and found it somewhat demoralised.  There had
been grand doings of some sort, and, though the doings were over,
the moral and material debris were not yet quite removed.  The
famiglia Bonvicino was gone, and so was Cricco.  The cook, the new
waiter, and the landlord (who sings a good comic song upon
occasion) had all drunk as much wine as they could carry; and later
on I found Veneranda, the one-eyed old chambermaid, lying upon my
bed fast asleep.  I afterwards heard that, in spite of the autumnal
weather, the landlord spent his night on the grass under the
chestnuts, while the cook was found at four o'clock in the morning
lying at full length upon a table under the veranda.  Next day,
however, all had become normal again.

Among our fellow-guests during this visit was a fiery-faced
eructive butcher from Turin.  A difference of opinion having arisen
between him and his wife, I told the Signora that I would rather be
wrong with her than right with her husband.  The lady was
delighted.

"Do you hear that, my dear?" said she.  "He says he had rather be
wrong with me than right with you.  Isn't he a naughty man?"

She said that if she died her husband was going to marry a girl of
fifteen.  I said:  "And if your husband dies, ma'am, send me a
dispatch to London, and I will come and marry you myself."  They
were both delighted at this.

She told us the thunder had upset her and frightened her.

"Has it given you a headache?"

She replied:  No; but it had upset her stomach.  No doubt the
thunder had shaken her stomach's confidence in the soundness of its
opinions, so as to weaken its proselytising power.  By and by,
seeing that she ate a pretty good dinner, I inquired:

"Is your stomach better now, ma'am?"

And she said it was.  Next day my stomach was bad too.

I told her I had been married, but had lost my wife and had
determined never to marry again till I could find a widow whom I
had admired as a married woman.

Giovanni, the new waiter, explained to me that the butcher was not
really bad or cruel at all.  I shook my head at him and said I
wished I could think so, but that his poor wife looked very ill and
unhappy.

The housemaid's name was La Rosa Mistica.

The landlord was a favourite with all the guests.  Every one patted
him on the cheeks or the head, or chucked him under the chin, or
did something nice and friendly at him.  He was a little man with a
face like a russet pippin apple, about sixty-five years old, but
made of iron.  He was going to marry a third wife, and six young
women had already come up from S. Ambrogio to be looked at.  I saw
one of them.  She was a Visigoth-looking sort of person and wore a
large wobbly-brimmed straw hat; she was about forty, and gave me
the impression of being familiar with labour of all kinds.  He
pressed me to give my opinion of her, but I sneaked out of it by
declaring that I must see a good deal more of the lady than I was
ever likely to see before I could form an opinion at all.

On coming down from the sanctuary one afternoon I heard the
landlord's comic song, of which I have spoken above.  It was about
the musical instruments in a band:  the trumpet did this, the
clarinet did that, the flute went tootle, tootle, tootle, and there
was an appropriate motion of the hand for every instrument.  I was
a little disappointed with it, but the landlord said I was too
serious and the only thing that would cure me was to learn the song
myself.  He said the butcher had learned it already, so it was not
hard, which indeed it was not.  It was about as hard as:


The battle of the Nile
I was there all the while
At the battle of the Nile.


I had to learn it and sing it (Heaven help me, for I have no more
voice than a mouse!), and the landlord said that the motion of my
little finger was very promising.

The chestnuts are never better than after harvest, when they are
heavy-laden with their pale green hedgehog-like fruit and alive
with people swarming among their branches, pruning them while the
leaves are still good winter food for cattle.  Why, I wonder, is
there such an especial charm about the pruning of trees?  Who does
not feel it?  No matter what the tree is, the poplar of France, or
the brookside willow or oak coppice of England, or the chestnuts or
mulberries of Italy, all are interesting when being pruned, or when
pruned just lately.  A friend once consulted me casually about a
picture on which he was at work, and complained that a row of trees
in it was without sufficient interest.  I was fortunate enough to
be able to help him by saying:  "Prune them freely and put a
magpie's nest in one of them," and the trees became interesting at
once.  People in trees always look well, or rather, I should say,
trees always look well with people in them, or indeed with any
living thing in them, especially when it is of a kind that is not
commonly seen in them; and the measured lop of the bill-hook and,
by and by, the click as a bough breaks and the lazy crash as it
falls over on to the ground, are as pleasing to the ear as is the
bough-bestrewn herbage to the eye.

To what height and to what slender boughs do not these hardy
climbers trust themselves.  It is said that the coming man is to be
toeless.  I will venture for it that he will not be toeless if
these chestnut-pruning men and women have much to do with his
development.  Let the race prune chestnuts for a couple of hundred
generations or so, and it will have little trouble with its toes.
Of course, the pruners fall sometimes, but very rarely.  I remember
in the Val Mastallone seeing a votive picture of a poor lady in a
short petticoat and trousers trimmed with red round the bottom who
was falling head foremost from the top of a high tree, whose leaves
she had been picking, and was being saved by the intervention of
two saints who caught her upon two gridirons.  Such accidents,
however, and, I should think, such interventions, are exceedingly
rare, and as a rule the peasants venture freely into places which
in England no one but a sailor or a steeple-jack would attempt.

And so we left this part of Italy, wishing that more Hugo de
Montboissiers had committed more crimes and had had to expiate them
by building more sanctuaries.



CHAPTER XI--Lanzo



From S. Ambrogio we went to Turin, a city so well known that I need
not describe it.  The Hotel Europa is the best, and, indeed, one of
the best hotels on the continent.  Nothing can exceed it for
comfort and good cookery.  The gallery of old masters contains some
great gems.  Especially remarkable are two pictures of Tobias and
the angel, by Antonio Pollaiuolo and Sandro Botticelli; and a
magnificent tempera painting of the Crucifixion, by Gaudenzio
Ferrari--one of his very finest works.  There are also several
other pictures by the same master, but the Crucifixion is the best.

From Turin I went alone to Lanzo, about an hour and a half's
railway journey from Turin, and found a comfortable inn, the Hotel
de la Poste.  There is a fine fourteenth-century tower here, and
the general effect of the town is good.

One morning while I was getting my breakfast, English fashion, with
some cutlets to accompany my bread and butter, I saw an elderly
Italian gentleman, with his hand up to his chin, eyeing me with
thoughtful interest.  After a time he broke silence.

"Ed il latte," he said, "serve per la suppa." {21}

I said that that was the view we took of it.  He thought it over a
while, and then feelingly exclaimed -

"Oh bel!"

Soon afterwards he left me with the words -

"La! dunque! cerrea! chow! stia bene."

"La" is a very common close to an Italian conversation.  I used to
be a little afraid of it at first.  It sounds rather like saying,
"There, that's that.  Please to bear in mind that I talked to you
very nicely, and let you bore me for a long time; I think I have
now done the thing handsomely, so you'll be good enough to score me
one and let me go."  But I soon found out that it was quite a
friendly and civil way of saying good-bye.

The "dunque" is softer; it seems to say, "I cannot bring myself to
say so sad a word as 'farewell,' but we must both of us know that
the time has come for us to part, and so" -

"Cerrea" is an abbreviation and corruption of "di sua Signoria,"--
"by your highness's leave."  "Chow" I have explained already.
"Stia bene" is simply "farewell."

The principal piazza of Lanzo is nice.  In the upper part of the
town there is a large school or college.  One can see into the
school through a grating from the road.  I looked down, and saw
that the boys had cut their names all over the desks, just as
English boys would do.  They were very merry and noisy, and though
there was a priest standing at one end of the room, he let them do
much as they liked, and they seemed quite happy.  I heard one boy
shout out to another, "Non c' e pericolo," in answer to something
the other had said.  This is exactly the "no fear" of America and
the colonies.  Near the school there is a field on the slope of the
hill which commands a view over the plain.  A woman was mowing
there, and, by way of making myself agreeable, I remarked that the
view was fine.  "Yes, it is," she answered; "you can see all the
trains."

The baskets with which the people carry things in this
neighbourhood are of a different construction from any I have seen
elsewhere.  They are made to fit all round the head like something
between a saddle and a helmet, and at the same time to rest upon
the shoulders--the head being, as it were, ensaddled by the basket,
and the weight being supported by the shoulders as well as by the
head.  Why is it that such contrivances as this should prevail in
one valley and not in another?  If, one is tempted to argue, the
plan is a convenient one, why does it not spread further?  If
inconvenient, why has it spread so far?  If it is good in the
valley of the Stura, why is it not also good in the contiguous
valley of the Dora?  There must be places where people using
helmet-made baskets live next door to people who use baskets that
are borne entirely by back and shoulders.  Why do not the people in
one or other of these houses adopt their neighbour's basket?  Not
because people are not amenable to conviction, for within a certain
radius from the source of the invention they are convinced to a
man.  Nor again is it from any insuperable objection to a change of
habit.  The Stura people have changed their habit--possibly for the
worse; but if they have changed it for the worse, how is it they do
not find it out and change again?

Take, again, the pane Grissino, from which the neighbourhood of
Turin has derived its nickname of il Grissinotto.  It is made in
long sticks, rather thicker than a tobacco pipe, and eats crisp
like toast.  It is almost universally preferred to ordinary bread
by the inhabitants of what was formerly Piedmont, but beyond these
limits it is rarely seen.  Why so?  Either it is good or not good.
If not good, how has it prevailed over so large an area?  If good,
why does it not extend its empire?  The Reformation is another case
in point:  granted that Protestantism is illogical, how is it that
so few within a given area can perceive it to be so?  The same
question arises in respect of the distribution of many plants and
animals; the reason of the limits which some of them cannot pass,
being, indeed, perfectly clear, but as regards perhaps the greater
number of them, undiscoverable.  The upshot of it is that things do
not in practice find their perfect level any more than water does
so, but are liable to disturbance by way of tides and local
currents, or storms.  It is in his power to perceive and profit by
these irregularities that the strength or weakness of a commercial
man will be apparent,

One day I made an excursion from Lanzo to a place, the name of
which I cannot remember, but which is not far from the Groscavallo
glacier.  Here I found several Italians staying to take the air,
and among them one young gentleman, who told me he was writing a
book upon this neighbourhood, and was going to illustrate it with
his own drawings.  This naturally interested me, and I encouraged
him to tell me more, which he was nothing loth to do.  He said he
had a passion for drawing, and was making rapid progress; but there
was one thing that held him back--the not having any Conte chalk:
if he had but this, all his difficulties would vanish.
Unfortunately I had no Conte chalk with me, I but I asked to see
the drawings, and was shown about twenty, all of which greatly
pleased me.  I at once proposed an exchange, and have thus become
possessed of the two which I reproduce here.  Being pencil
drawings, and not done with a view to Mr. Dawson's process, they
have suffered somewhat in reproduction, but I decided to let them
suffer rather than attempt to copy them.  What can be more
absolutely in the spirit of the fourteenth century than the
drawings given above?  They seem as though done by some fourteenth-
century painter who had risen from the dead.  And to show that they
are no rare accident, I will give another (p. 138), also done by an
entirely self-taught Italian, and intended to represent the castle
of Laurenzana in the neighbourhood of Potenza.

If the reader will pardon a digression, I will refer to a more
important example of an old master born out of due time.  One day,
in the cathedral at Varallo, I saw a picture painted on linen of
which I could make nothing.  It was not old and it was not modern.
The expression of the Virgin's face was lovely, and there was more
individuality than is commonly found in modern Italian work.
Modern Italian colour is generally either cold and dirty, or else
staring.  The colour here was tender, and reminded me of fifteenth-
century Florentine work.  The folds of the drapery were not modern;
there was a sense of effort about them, as though the painter had
tried to do them better, but had been unable to get them as free
and flowing as he had wished.  Yet the picture was not old; to all
appearance it might have been painted a matter of ten years; nor
again was it an echo--it was a sound:  the archaism was not
affected; on the contrary, there was something which said, as
plainly as though the living painter had spoken it, that his
somewhat constrained treatment was due simply to his having been
puzzled with the intricacy of what he saw, and giving as much as he
could with a hand which was less advanced than his judgment.  By
some strange law it comes about that the imperfection of men who
are at this stage of any art is the only true perfection; for the
wisdom of the wise is set at naught, and the foolishness of the
simple is chosen, and it is out of the mouths of babes and
sucklings that strength is ordained.

Unable to arrive at any conclusion, I asked the sacristan, and was
told it was by a certain Dedomenici of Rossa, in the Val Sesia, and
that it had been painted some forty or fifty years ago.  I
expressed my surprise, and the sacristan continued:  "Yes, but what
is most wonderful about him is that he never left his native
valley, and never had any instruction, but picked up his art for
himself as best he could."

I have been twice to Varallo since, to see whether I should change
my mind, but have not done so.  If Dedomenici had been a Florentine
or Venetian in the best times, he would have done as well as the
best; as it is, his work is remarkable.  He died about 1840, very
old, and he kept on improving to the last.  His last work--at least
I was told upon the spot that it was his last--is in a little
roadside chapel perched high upon a rock, and dedicated, if I
remember rightly, to S. Michele, on the path from Fobello in the
Val Mastallone to Taponaccio.  It is a Madonna and child in clouds,
with two full-length saints standing beneath--all the figures life-
size.  I came upon this chapel quite accidentally one evening, and,
looking in, recognised the altar-piece as a Dedomenici.  I inquired
at the next village who had painted it, and was told, "un certo
Dedomenici da Rossa."  I was also told that he was nearly eighty
years old when he painted this picture.  I went a couple of years
ago to reconsider it, and found that I remained much of my original
opinion.  I do not think that any of my readers who care about the
history of Italian art will regret having paid it a visit.

Such men are more common in Italy than is believed.  There is a
fresco of the Crucifixion outside the Campo Santo at Fusio, in the
Canton Ticino, done by a local artist, which, though far inferior
to the work of Dedomenici, is still remarkable.  The painter
evidently knows nothing of the rules of his art, but he has made
Christ on the cross bowing His head towards the souls in purgatory,
instead of in the conventional fine frenzy to which we are
accustomed.  There is a storm which has caught and is sweeping the
drapery round Christ's body.  The angel's wings are no longer
white, but many coloured as in old times, and there is a touch of
humour in the fact that of the six souls in purgatory, four are
women and only two men.  The expression on Christ's face is very
fine, but otherwise the drawing could not well be more imperfect
than it is.



CHAPTER XII--Considerations on the Decline of Italian Art



Those who know the Italians will see no sign of decay about them.
They are the quickest witted people in the world, and at the same
time have much more of the old Roman steadiness than they are
generally credited with.  Not only is there no sign of
degeneration, but, as regards practical matters, there is every
sign of health and vigorous development.  The North Italians are
more like Englishmen, both in body and mind, than any other people
whom I know; I am continually meeting Italians whom I should take
for Englishmen if I did not know their nationality.  They have all
our strong points, but they have more grace and elasticity of mind
than we have.

Priggishness is the sin which doth most easily beset middle-class
and so-called educated Englishmen:  we call it purity and culture,
but it does not much matter what we call it.  It is the almost
inevitable outcome of a university education, and will last as long
as Oxford and Cambridge do, but not much longer.

Lord Beaconsfield sent Lothair to Oxford; it is with great pleasure
that I see he did not send Endymion.  My friend Jones called my
attention to this, and we noted that the growth observable
throughout Lord Beaconsfield's life was continued to the end.  He
was one of those who, no matter how long he lived, would have been
always growing:  this is what makes his later novels so much better
than those of Thackeray or Dickens.  There was something of the
child about him to the last.  Earnestness was his greatest danger,
but if he did not quite overcome it (as who indeed can?  It is the
last enemy that shall be subdued), he managed to veil it with a
fair amount of success.  As for Endymion, of course if Lord
Beaconsfield had thought Oxford would be good for him, he could, as
Jones pointed out to me, just as well have killed Mr. Ferrars a
year or two later.  We feel satisfied, therefore, that Endymion's
exclusion from a university was carefully considered, and are glad.

I will not say that priggishness is absolutely unknown among the
North Italians; sometimes one comes upon a young Italian who wants
to learn German, but not often.  Priggism, or whatever the
substantive is, is as essentially a Teutonic vice as holiness is a
Semitic characteristic; and if an Italian happens to be a prig, he
will, like Tacitus, invariably show a hankering after German
institutions.  The idea, however, that the Italians were ever a
finer people than they are now, will not pass muster with those who
know them.

At the same time, there can be no doubt that modern Italian art is
in many respects as bad as it was once good.  I will confine myself
to painting only.  The modern Italian painters, with very few
exceptions, paint as badly as we do, or even worse, and their
motives are as poor as is their painting.  At an exhibition of
modern Italian pictures, I generally feel that there is hardly a
picture on the walls but is a sham--that is to say, painted not
from love of this particular subject and an irresistible desire to
paint it, but from a wish to paint an academy picture, and win
money or applause.

The same holds good in England, and in all other countries that I
know of.  There is very little tolerable painting anywhere.  In
some kinds, indeed, of black and white work the present age is
strong.  The illustrations to "Punch," for example, are often as
good as anything that can be imagined.  We know of nothing like
them in any past age or country.  This is the one kind of art--and
it is a very good one--in which we excel as distinctly as the age
of Phidias excelled in sculpture.  Leonardo da Vinci would never
have succeeded in getting his drawings accepted at 85 Fleet Street,
any more than one of the artists on the staff of "Punch" could
paint a fresco which should hold its own against Da Vinci's Last
Supper.  Michael Angelo again and Titian would have failed
disastrously at modern illustration.  They had no more sense of
humour than a Hebrew prophet; they had no eye for the more trivial
side of anything round about them.  This aspect went in at one eye
and out at the other--and they lost more than ever poor Peter Bell
lost in the matter of primroses.  I never can see what there was to
find fault with in that young man.

Fancy a street-Arab by Michael Angelo.  Fancy even the result which
would have ensued if he had tried to put the figures into the
illustrations of this book.  I should have been very sorry to let
him try his hand at it.  To him a priest chucking a small boy under
the chin was simply non-existent.  He did not care for it, and had
therefore no eye for it.  If the reader will turn to the copy of a
fresco of St. Christopher on p. 209, he will see the conventional
treatment of the rocks on either side the saint.  This was the best
thing the artist could do, and probably cost him no little trouble.
Yet there were rocks all around him--little, in fact, else than
rock in those days; and the artist could have drawn them well
enough if it had occurred to him to try and do so.  If he could
draw St. Christopher, he could have drawn a rock; but he had an
interest in the one, and saw nothing in the other which made him
think it worth while to pay attention to it.  What rocks were to
him, the common occurrences of everyday life were to those who are
generally held to be the giants of painting.  The result of this
neglect to kiss the soil--of this attempt to be always soaring--is
that these giants are for the most part now very uninteresting,
while the smaller men who preceded them grow fresher and more
delightful yearly.  It was not so with Handel and Shakespeare.
Handel's


"Ploughman near at hand, whistling o'er the furrowed land,"


is intensely sympathetic, and his humour is admirable whenever he
has occasion for it.

Leonardo da Vinci is the only one of the giant Italian masters who
ever tried to be humorous, and he failed completely:  so, indeed,
must any one if he tries to be humorous.  We do not want this; we
only want them not to shut their eyes to by-play when it comes in
their way, and if they are giving us an account of what they have
seen, to tell us something about this too.  I believe the older the
world grows, the better it enjoys a joke.  The mediaeval joke
generally was a heavy, lumbering old thing, only a little better
than the classical one.  Perhaps in those days life was harder than
it is now, and people if they looked at it at all closely dwelt
upon its soberer side.  Certainly in humorous art, we may claim to
be not only principes, but facile principes.  Nevertheless, the
Italian comic journals are, some of them, admirably illustrated,
though in a style quite different from our own; sometimes, also,
they are beautifully coloured.

As regards painting, the last rays of the sunset of genuine art are
to be found in the votive pictures at Locarno or Oropa, and in many
a wayside chapel.  In these, religious art still lingers as a
living language, however rudely spoken.  In these alone is the
story told, not as in the Latin and Greek verses of the scholar,
who thinks he has succeeded best when he has most concealed his
natural manner of expressing himself, but by one who knows what he
wants to say, and says it in his mother-tongue, shortly, and
without caring whether or not his words are in accordance with
academic rules.  I regret to see photography being introduced for
votive purposes, and also to detect in some places a disposition on
the part of the authorities to be a little ashamed of these
pictures and to place them rather out of sight.

Sometimes in a little country village, as at Doera near Mesocco,
there is a modern fresco on a chapel in which the old spirit
appears, with its absolute indifference as to whether it was
ridiculous or no, but such examples are rare.

Sometimes, again, I have even thought I have detected a ray of
sunset upon a milkman's window-blind in London, and once upon an
undertaker's, but it was too faint a ray to read by.  The best
thing of the kind that I have seen in London is the picture of the
lady who is cleaning knives with Mr. Spong's patent knife-cleaner,
in his shop window nearly opposite Day & Martin's in Holborn.  It
falls a long way short, however, of a good Italian votive picture:
but it has the advantage of moving.

I knew of a little girl once, rather less than four years old,
whose uncle had promised to take her for a drive in a carriage with
him, and had failed to do so.  The child was found soon afterwards
on the stairs weeping, and being asked what was the matter,
replied, "Mans is all alike."  This is Giottesque.  I often think
of it as I look upon Italian votive pictures.  The meaning is so
sound in spite of the expression being so defective--if, indeed,
expression can be defective when it has so well conveyed the
meaning.

I knew, again, an old lady whose education had been neglected in
her youth.  She came into a large fortune, and at some forty years
of age put herself under the best masters.  She once said to me as
follows, speaking very slowly and allowing a long time between each
part of the sentence;--"You see," she said, "the world, and all
that it contains, is wrapped up in such curious forms, that it is
only by a knowledge of human nature, that we can rightly tell what
to say, to do, or to admire."  I copied the sentence into my
notebook immediately on taking my leave.  It is like an academy
picture.

But to return to the Italians.  The question is, how has the
deplorable falling-off in Italian painting been caused?  And by
doing what may we again get Bellinis and Andrea Mantegnas as in old
time?  The fault does not lie in any want of raw material:  the
drawings I have already given prove this.  Nor, again, does it lie
in want of taking pains.  The modern Italian painter frets himself
to the full as much as his predecessor did--if the truth were
known, probably a great deal more.  It does not lie in want of
schooling or art education.  For the last three hundred years, ever
since the Carracci opened their academy at Bologna, there has been
no lack of art education in Italy.  Curiously enough, the date of
the opening of the Bolognese Academy coincides as nearly as may be
with the complete decadence of Italian painting.

This is an example of the way in which Italian boys begin their art
education now.  The drawing which I reproduce here was given me by
the eminent sculptor, Professor Vela, as the work of a lad of
twelve years old, and as doing credit alike to the school where the
lad was taught and to the pupil himself. {22}

So it undoubtedly does.  It shows as plainly the receptiveness and
docility of the modern Italian, as the illustrations given above
show his freshness and naivete when left to himself.  The drawing
is just such as we try to get our own young people to do, and few
English elementary schools in a small country town would succeed in
turning out so good a one.  I have nothing, therefore, but praise
both for the pupil and the teacher; but about the system which
makes such teachers and such pupils commendable, I am more
sceptical.  That system trains boys to study other people's works
rather than nature, and, as Leonardo da Vinci so well says, it
makes them nature's grandchildren and not her children.  The boy
who did the drawing given above is not likely to produce good work
in later life.  He has been taught to see nature with an old man's
eyes at once, without going through the embryonic stages.  He has
never said his "mans is all alike," and by twenty will be painting
like my old friend's long academic sentence.  All his individuality
has been crushed out of him.

I will now give a reproduction of the frontispiece to Avogadro's
work on the sanctuary of S. Michele, from which I have already
quoted; it is a very pretty and effective piece of work, but those
who are good enough to turn back to p. 93, and to believe that I
have drawn carefully, will see how disappointing Avogadro's
frontispiece must be to those who hold, as most of us will, that a
draughtsman's first business is to put down what he sees, and to
let prettiness take care of itself.  The main features, indeed, can
still be traced, but they have become as transformed and lifeless
as rudimentary organs.  Such a frontispiece, however, is the almost
inevitable consequence of the system of training that will make
boys of twelve do drawings like the one given on p. 147.

If half a dozen young Italians could be got together with a taste
for drawing like that shown by the authors of the sketches on pp.
136, 137, 138; if they had power to add to their number; if they
were allowed to see paintings and drawings done up to the year A.D.
1510, and votive pictures and the comic papers; if they were left
with no other assistance than this, absolutely free to please
themselves, and could be persuaded not to try and please any one
else, I believe that in fifty years we should have all that was
ever done repeated with fresh naivete, and as much more
delightfully than even by the best old masters, as these are more
delightful than anything we know of in classic painting.  The young
plants keep growing up abundantly every day--look at Bastianini,
dead not ten years since--but they are browsed down by the
academies.  I remember there came out a book many years ago with
the title, "What becomes of all the clever little children?"  I
never saw the book, but the title is pertinent.

Any man who can write, can draw to a not inconsiderable extent.
Look at the Bayeux tapestry; yet Matilda probably never had a
drawing lesson in her life.  See how well prisoner after prisoner
in the Tower of London has cut this or that out in the stone of his
prison wall, without, in all probability, having ever tried his
hand at drawing before.  Look at my friend Jones, who has several
illustrations in this book.  The first year he went abroad with me
he could hardly draw at all.  He was no year away from England more
than three weeks.  How did he learn?  On the old principle, if I am
not mistaken.  The old principle was for a man to be doing
something which he was pretty strongly bent on doing, and to get a
much younger one to help him.  The younger paid nothing for
instruction, but the elder took the work, as long as the relation
of master and pupil existed between them.  I, then, was making
illustrations for this book, and got Jones to help me.  I let him
see what I was doing, and derive an idea of the sort of thing I
wanted, and then left him alone--beyond giving him the same kind of
small criticism that I expected from himself--but I appropriated
his work.  That is the way to teach, and the result was that in an
incredibly short time Jones could draw.  The taking the work is a
sine qua non.  If I had not been going to have his work, Jones, in
spite of all his quickness, would probably have been rather slower
in learning to draw.  Being paid in money is nothing like so good.

This is the system of apprenticeship versus the academic system.
The academic system consists in giving people the rules for doing
things.  The apprenticeship system consists in letting them do it,
with just a trifle of supervision.  "For all a rhetorician's
rules," says my great namesake, "teach nothing, but to name his
tools;" and academic rules generally are much the same as the
rhetorician's.  Some men can pass through academies unscathed, but
they are very few, and in the main the academic influence is a
baleful one, whether exerted in a university or a school.  While
young men at universities are being prepared for their entry into
life, their rivals have already entered it.  The most university
and examination ridden people in the world are the Chinese, and
they are the least progressive.

Men should learn to draw as they learn conveyancing:  they should
go into a painter's studio and paint on his pictures.  I am told
that half the conveyances in the country are drawn by pupils; there
is no more mystery about painting than about conveyancing--not half
in fact, I should think, so much.  One may ask, How can the
beginner paint, or draw conveyances, till he has learnt how to do
so?  The answer is, How can he learn, without at any rate trying to
do?  If he likes his subject, he will try:  if he tries, he will
soon succeed in doing something which shall open a door.  It does
not matter what a man does; so long as he does it with the
attention which affection engenders, he will come to see his way to
something else.  After long waiting he will certainly find one door
open, and go through it.  He will say to himself that he can never
find another.  He has found this, more by luck than cunning, but
now he is done.  Yet by and by he will see that there is ONE more
small, unimportant door which he had overlooked, and he proceeds
through this too.  If he remains now for a long while and sees no
other, do not let him fret; doors are like the kingdom of heaven,
they come not by observation, least of all do they come by forcing:
let them just go on doing what comes nearest, but doing it
attentively, and a great wide door will one day spring into
existence where there had been no sign of one but a little time
previously.  Only let him be always doing something, and let him
cross himself now and again, for belief in the wondrous efficacy of
crosses and crossing is the corner-stone of the creed of the
evolutionist.  Then after years--but not probably till after a
great many--doors will open up all round, so many and so wide that
the difficulty will not be to find a door, but rather to obtain the
means of even hurriedly surveying a portion of those that stand
invitingly open.

I know that just as good a case can be made out for the other side.
It may be said as truly that unless a student is incessantly on the
watch for doors he will never see them, and that unless he is
incessantly pressing forward to the kingdom of heaven he will never
find it--so that the kingdom does come by observation.  It is with
this as with everything else--there must be a harmonious fusing of
two principles which are in flat contradiction to one another.

The question whether it is better to abide quiet and take advantage
of opportunities that come, or to go further afield in search of
them, is one of the oldest which living beings have had to deal
with.  It was on this that the first great schism or heresy arose
in what was heretofore the catholic faith of protoplasm.  The
schism still lasts, and has resulted in two great sects--animals
and plants.  The opinion that it is better to go in search of prey
is formulated in animals; the other--that it is better on the whole
to stay at home and profit by what comes--in plants.  Some
intermediate forms still record to us the long struggle during
which the schism was not yet complete.

If I may be pardoned for pursuing this digression further, I would
say that it is the plants and not we who are the heretics.  There
can be no question about this; we are perfectly justified,
therefore, in devouring them.  Ours is the original and orthodox
belief, for protoplasm is much more animal than vegetable; it is
much more true to say that plants have descended from animals than
animals from plants.  Nevertheless, like many other heretics,
plants have thriven very fairly well.  There are a great many of
them, and as regards beauty, if not wit--of a limited kind indeed,
but still wit--it is hard to say that the animal kingdom has the
advantage.  The views of plants are sadly narrow; all dissenters
are narrow-minded; but within their own bounds they know the
details of their business sufficiently well--as well as though they
kept the most nicely-balanced system of accounts to show them their
position.  They are eaten, it is true; to eat them is our bigoted
and intolerant way of trying to convert them:  eating is only a
violent mode of proselytising or converting; and we do convert
them--to good animal substance, of our own way of thinking.  But
then, animals are eaten too.  They convert one another, almost as
much as they convert plants.  And an animal is no sooner dead than
a plant will convert it back again.  It is obvious, however, that
no schism could have been so long successful, without having a good
deal to say for itself.

Neither party has been quite consistent.  Who ever is or can be?
Every extreme--every opinion carried to its logical end--will prove
to be an absurdity.  Plants throw out roots and boughs and leaves;
this is a kind of locomotion; and as Dr. Erasmus Darwin long since
pointed out, they do sometimes approach nearly to what may be
called travelling; a man of consistent character will never look at
a bough, a root, or a tendril without regarding it as a melancholy
and unprincipled compromise.  On the other hand, many animals are
sessile, and some singularly successful genera, as spiders, are in
the main liers-in-wait.  It may appear, however, on the whole, like
reopening a settled question to uphold the principle of being busy
and attentive over a small area, rather than going to and fro over
a larger one, for a mammal like man, but I think most readers will
be with me in thinking that, at any rate as regards art and
literature, it is he who does his small immediate work most
carefully who will find doors open most certainly to him, that will
conduct him into the richest chambers.

Many years ago, in New Zealand, I used sometimes to accompany a
dray and team of bullocks who would have to be turned loose at
night that they might feed.  There were no hedges or fences then,
so sometimes I could not find my team in the morning, and had no
clue to the direction in which they had gone.  At first I used to
try and throw my soul into the bullocks' souls, so as to divine if
possible what they would be likely to have done, and would then
ride off ten miles in the wrong direction.  People used in those
days to lose their bullocks sometimes for a week or fortnight--when
they perhaps were all the time hiding in a gully hard by the place
where they were turned out.  After some time I changed my tactics.
On losing my bullocks I would go to the nearest accommodation
house, and stand occasional drinks to travellers.  Some one would
ere long, as a general rule, turn up who had seen the bullocks.
This case does not go quite on all fours with what I have been
saying above, inasmuch as I was not very industrious in my limited
area; but the standing drinks and inquiring was being as
industrious as the circumstances would allow.

To return, universities and academies are an obstacle to the
finding of doors in later life; partly because they push their
young men too fast through doorways that the universities have
provided, and so discourage the habit of being on the look-out for
others; and partly because they do not take pains enough to make
sure that their doors are bona fide ones.  If, to change the
metaphor, an academy has taken a bad shilling, it is seldom very
scrupulous about trying to pass it on.  It will stick to it that
the shilling is a good one as long as the police will let it.  I
was very happy at Cambridge; when I left it I thought I never again
could be so happy anywhere else; I shall ever retain a most kindly
recollection both of Cambridge and of the school where I passed my
boyhood; but I feel, as I think most others must in middle life,
that I have spent as much of my maturer years in unlearning as in
learning.

The proper course is for a boy to begin the practical business of
life many years earlier than he now commonly does.  He should begin
at the very bottom of a profession; if possible of one which his
family has pursued before him--for the professions will assuredly
one day become hereditary.  The ideal railway director will have
begun at fourteen as a railway porter.  He need not be a porter for
more than a week or ten days, any more than he need have been a
tadpole more than a short time; but he should take a turn in
practice, though briefly, at each of the lower branches in the
profession.  The painter should do just the same.  He should begin
by setting his employer's palette and cleaning his brushes.  As for
the good side of universities, the proper preservative of this is
to be found in the club.

If, then, we are to have a renaissance of art, there must be a
complete standing aloof from the academic system.  That system has
had time enough.  Where and who are its men?  Can it point to one
painter who can hold his own with the men of, say, from 1450 to
1550?  Academies will bring out men who can paint hair very like
hair, and eyes very like eyes, but this is not enough.  This is
grammar and deportment; we want it and a kindly nature, and these
cannot be got from academies.  As far as mere TECHNIQUE is
concerned, almost every one now can paint as well as is in the
least desirable.  The same mutatis mutandis holds good with writing
as with painting.  We want less word-painting and fine phrases, and
more observation at first-hand.  Let us have a periodical
illustrated by people who cannot draw, and written by people who
cannot write (perhaps, however, after all, we have some), but who
look and think for themselves, and express themselves just as they
please,--and this we certainly have not.  Every contributor should
be at once turned out if he or she is generally believed to have
tried to do something which he or she did not care about trying to
do, and anything should be admitted which is the outcome of a
genuine liking.  People are always good company when they are doing
what they really enjoy.  A cat is good company when it is purring,
or a dog when it is wagging its tail.

The sketching clubs up and down the country might form the nucleus
of such a society, provided all professional men were rigorously
excluded.  As for the old masters, the better plan would be never
even to look at one of them, and to consign Raffaelle, along with
Plato, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Dante, Goethe, and two others,
neither of them Englishmen, to limbo, as the Seven Humbugs of
Christendom.

While we are about it, let us leave off talking about "art for
art's sake."  Who is art that it should have a sake?  A work of art
should be produced for the pleasure it gives the producer, and the
pleasure he thinks it will give to a few of whom he is fond; but
neither money nor people whom he does not know personally should be
thought of.  Of course such a society as I have proposed would not
remain incorrupt long.  "Everything that grows, holds in perfection
but a little moment."  The members would try to imitate
professional men in spite of their rules, or, if they escaped this
and after a while got to paint well, they would become dogmatic,
and a rebellion against their authority would be as necessary ere
long as it was against that of their predecessors:  but the balance
on the whole would be to the good.

Professional men should be excluded, if for no other reason yet for
this, that they know too much for the beginner to be en rapport
with them.  It is the beginner who can help the beginner, as it is
the child who is the most instructive companion for another child.
The beginner can understand the beginner, but the cross between him
and the proficient performer is too wide for fertility.  It savours
of impatience, and is in flat contradiction to the first principles
of biology.  It does a beginner positive harm to look at the
masterpieces of the great executionists, such as Rembrandt or
Turner.

If one is climbing a very high mountain which will tax all one's
strength, nothing fatigues so much as casting upward glances to the
top, nothing encourages so much as casting downward glances.  The
top seems never to draw nearer; the parts that we have passed
retreat rapidly.  Let a water-colour student go and see the drawing
by Turner, in the basement of our National Gallery, dated 1787.
This is the sort of thing for him, not to copy, but to look at for
a minute or two now and again.  It will show him nothing about
painting, but it may serve to teach him not to overtax his
strength, and will prove to him that the greatest masters in
painting, as in everything else, begin by doing work which is no
way superior to that of their neighbours.  A collection of the
earliest known works of the greatest men would be much more useful
to the student than any number of their maturer works, for it would
show him that he need not worry himself because his work does not
look clever, or as silly people say, "show power."

The secrets of success are affection for the pursuit chosen, a flat
refusal to be hurried or to pass anything as understood which is
not understood, and an obstinacy of character which shall make the
student's friends find it less trouble to let him have his own way
than to bend him into theirs.  Our schools and academies or
universities are covertly, but essentially, radical institutions
and abhorrent to the genius of Conservatism.  Their sin is the true
radical sin of being in too great a hurry, and of believing in
short cuts too soon.  But it must be remembered that this
proposition, like every other, wants tempering with a slight
infusion of its direct opposite.

I said in an early part of this book that the best test to know
whether or no one likes a picture is to ask one's self whether one
would like to look at it if one was quite sure one was alone.  The
best test for a painter as to whether he likes painting his picture
is to ask himself whether he should like to paint it if he was
quite sure that no one except himself, and the few of whom he was
very fond, would ever see it.  If he can answer this question in
the affirmative, he is all right; if he cannot, he is all wrong.  I
will close these remarks with an illustration which will show how
nearly we can approach the early Florentines even now--when nobody
is looking at us.  I do not know who Mr. Pollard is.  I never heard
of him till I came across a cheap lithograph of his Funeral of Tom
Moody in the parlour of a village inn.  I should not think he ever
was an R.A., but he has approached as nearly as the difference
between the geniuses of the two countries will allow, to the spirit
of the painters who painted in the Campo Santo at Pisa.  Look,
again, at Garrard, at the close of the last century.  We generally
succeed with sporting or quasi-sporting subjects, and our cheap
coloured coaching and hunting subjects are almost always good, and
often very good indeed.  We like these things:  therefore we
observe them; therefore we soon become able to express them.
Historical and costume pictures we have no genuine love for; we do
not, therefore, go beyond repeating commonplaces concerning them.

I must reserve other remarks upon this subject for another
occasion.



CHAPTER XIII--Viu, Fucine, and S. Ignazio



I must now return to my young friend at Groscavallo.  I have
published his drawings without his permission, having unfortunately
lost his name and address, and being unable therefore to apply to
him.  I hope that, should they ever meet his eye, he will accept
this apology and the assurance of my most profound consideration.

Delighted as I had been with his proposed illustrations, I thought
I had better hear some of the letterpress, so I begged him to read
me his MS.  My time was short, and he began at once.  The few
introductory pages were very nice, but there was nothing
particularly noticeable about them; when, however, he came to his
description of the place where we now were, he spoke of a beautiful
young lady as attracting his attention on the evening of his
arrival.  It seemed that she was as much struck with him as he with
her, and I thought we were going to have a romance, when he
proceeded as follows:  "We perceived that we were sympathetic, and
in less than a quarter of an hour had exchanged the most solemn
vows that we would never marry one another."  "What?" said I,
hardly able to believe my ears, "will you kindly read those last
words over again?"  He did so, slowly and distinctly; I caught them
beyond all power of mistake, and they were as I have given them
above:- "We perceived that we were sympathetic, and in less than a
quarter of an hour had exchanged the most solemn vows that we would
never marry one another."  While I was rubbing my eyes and making
up my mind whether I had stumbled upon a great satirist or no, I
heard a voice from below--"Signor Butler, Signor Butler, la vettura
e pronta."  I had therefore to leave my doubt unsolved, but all the
time as we drove down the valley I had the words above quoted
ringing in my head.  If ever any of my readers come across the book
itself--for I should hope it will be published--I should be very
grateful to them if they will direct my attention to it.

Another day I went to Ceres, and returned on foot via S. Ignazio.
S. Ignazio is a famous sanctuary on the very top of a mountain,
like that of Sammichele; but it is late, the St. Ignatius being St.
Ignatius Loyola, and not the apostolic father.  I got my dinner at
a village inn at the foot of the mountain, and from the window
caught sight of a fresco upon the wall of a chapel a few yards off.
There was a companion to it hardly less interesting, but I had not
time to sketch it.  I do not know what the one I give is intended
to represent.  St. Ignatius is upon a rock, and is pleased with
something, but there is nothing to show what it is, except his
attitude, which seems to say, "Senza far fatica,"--"You see I can
do it quite easily," or, "There is no deception."  Nor do we easily
gather what it is that the Roman centurion is saying to St.
Ignatius.  I cannot make up my mind whether he is merely warning
him to beware of the reaction, or whether he is a little
scandalised.

From this village I went up the mountain to the sanctuary of S.
Ignazio itself, which looks well from the distance, and commands a
striking view, but contains nothing of interest, except a few nice
votive pictures.

From Lanzo I went to Viu, a summer resort largely frequented by the
Turinese, but rarely visited by English people.  There is a good
inn at Viu--the one close to where the public conveyance stops--and
the neighbourhood is enchanting.  The little village on the crest
of the hill in the distance, to the left of the church, as shown on
the preceding page, is called the Colma di S. Giovanni, and is well
worth a visit.  In spring, before the grass is cut, the pastures
must be even better than when I saw them in August, and they were
then still of almost incredible beauty.

I went to S. Giovanni by the directest way--descending, that is, to
the level of the Stura, crossing it, and then going straight up the
mountain.  I returned by a slight detour so as to take the village
of Fucine, a frazione of Viu a little higher up the river.  I found
many picturesque bits; among them the one which I give on the next
page.  It was a grand festa; first they had had mass, then there
had been the funzioni, which I never quite understand, and
thenceforth till sundown there was a public ball on the bowling
ground of a little inn on the Viu side of the bridge.  The
principal inn is on the other side.  It was here I went and ordered
dinner.  The landlady brought me a minestra, or hodge-podge soup,
full of savoury vegetables, and very good; a nice cutlet fried in
bread-crumbs, bread and butter ad libitum, and half a bottle of
excellent wine.  She brought all together on a tray, and put them
down on the table.  "It'll come to a franc," said she, "in all, but
please to pay first."  I did so, of course, and she was satisfied.
A day or two afterwards I went to the same inn, hoping to dine as
well and cheaply as before; but I think they must have discovered
that I was a forestiere inglese in the meantime, for they did not
make me pay first, and charged me normal prices.

What pretty words they have!  While eating my dinner I wanted a
small plate and asked for it.  The landlady changed the word I had
used, and told a girl to bring me a tondino.  A tondino is an
abbreviation of rotondino, a "little round thing."  A plate is a
tondo, a small plate a tondino.  The delicacy of expression which
their diminutives and intensitives give is untranslateable.  One
day I was asking after a waiter whom I had known in previous years,
but who was ill.  I said I hoped he was not badly off.  "Oh dear,
no," was the answer; "he has a discreta posizionina"--"a snug
little sum put by."  "Is the road to such and such a place
difficult?" I once inquired.  "Un tantino," was the answer.  "Ever
such a very little," I suppose, is as near as we can get to this.
At one inn I asked whether I could have my linen back from the wash
by a certain time, and was told it was impossibilissimo.  I have an
Italian friend long resident in England who often introduces
English words when talking with me in Italian.  Thus I have heard
him say that such and such a thing is tanto cheapissimo.  As for
their gestures, they are inimitable.  To say nothing of the pretty
little way in which they say "no," by moving the forefinger
backwards and forwards once or twice, they have a hundred movements
to save themselves the trouble of speaking, which say what they
have to say better than any words can do.  It is delightful to see
an Italian move his hand in such way as to show you that you have
got to go round a corner.  Gesture is easier both to make and to
understand than speech is.  Speech is a late acquisition, and in
critical moments is commonly discarded in favour of gesture, which
is older and more habitual.

I once saw an Italian explaining something to another and tapping
his nose a great deal.  He became more and more confidential, and
the more confidential he became, the more he tapped, till his
finger seemed to become glued to, and almost grow into his nose.
At last the supreme moment came.  He drew the finger down, pressing
it closely against his lower lip, so as to drag it all down and
show his gums and the roots of his teeth.  "There," he seemed to
say, "you now know all:  consider me as turned inside out:  my
mucous membrane is before you."

At Fucine, and indeed in all the valleys hereabout, spinning-wheels
are not uncommon.  I also saw a woman sitting in her room with the
door opening on to the street, weaving linen at a hand-loom.  The
woman and the hand-loom were both very old and rickety.  The first
and the last specimens of anything, whether animal or vegetable
organism, or machine, or institution, are seldom quite
satisfactory.  Some five or six years ago I saw an old gentleman
sitting outside the St. Lawrence Hall at Montreal, in Canada, and
wearing a pigtail, but it was not a good pigtail; and when the
Scotch baron killed the last wolf in Scotland, it was probably a
weak, mangy old thing, capable of little further mischief.

Presently I walked a mile or two up the river, and met a godfather
coming along with a cradle on his shoulder; he was followed by two
women, one carrying some long wax candles, and the other something
wrapped up in a piece of brown paper; they were going to get the
child christened at Fucine.  Soon after I met a priest, and bowed,
as a matter of course.  In towns or places where many foreigners
come and go this is unnecessary, but in small out-of-the-way places
one should take one's hat off to the priest.  I mention this
because many Englishmen do not know that it is expected of them,
and neglect the accustomed courtesy through ignorance.  Surely,
even here in England, if one is in a small country village, off
one's beat, and meets the clergyman, it is more polite than not to
take off one's hat.

Viu is one of the places from which pilgrims ascend the Rocca
Melone at the beginning of August.  This is one of the most popular
and remarkable pilgrimages of North Italy; the Rocca Melone is
11,000 feet high, and forms a peak so sharp, that there is room for
little else than the small wooden chapel which stands at the top of
it.  There is no accommodation whatever, except at some rough
barracks (so I have been told) some thousands of feet below the
summit.  These, I was informed, are sometimes so crowded that the
people doze standing, and the cold at night is intense, unless
under the shelter just referred to; yet some five or six thousand
pilgrims ascend on the day and night of the festa--chiefly from
Susa, but also from all parts of the valleys of the Dora and the
Stura.  They leave Susa early in the morning, camp out or get
shelter in the barracks that evening, reaching the chapel at the
top of the Rocca Melone next day.  I have not made the ascent
myself, but it would probably be worth making by one who did not
mind the fatigue.

I may mention that thatch is not uncommon in the Stura valley.  In
the Val Mastallone, and more especially between Civiasco (above
Varallo) and Orta, thatch is more common still, and the thatching
is often very beautifully done.  Thatch in a stone country is an
indication of German, or at any rate Cisalpine descent, and is
among the many proofs of the extent to which German races crossed
the Alps and spread far down over Piedmont and Lombardy.  I was
more struck with traces of German influence on the path from Pella
on the Lago d'Orta, to the Colma on the way to Varallo, than
perhaps anywhere else.  The churches have a tendency to have pure
spires--a thing never seen in Italy proper; clipped yews and box-
trees are common; there are lime-trees in the churchyards, and
thatch is the rule, not the exception.  At Rimella in the Val
Mastallone, not far off, German is still the current language.  As
I sat sketching, a woman came up to me, and said, "Was machen sic?"
as a matter of course.  Rimella is the highest village in its
valley, yet if one crosses the saddle at the head of the valley,
one does not descend upon a German-speaking district; one descends
on the Val Anzasca, where Italian is universally spoken.  Until
recently German was the language of many other villages at the
heads of valleys, even though these valleys were themselves
entirely surrounded by Italian-speaking people.  At Alagna in the
Val Sesia, German is still spoken.

Whatever their origin, however, the people are now thoroughly
Italianised.  Nevertheless, as I have already said, it is strange
what a number of people one meets among them, whom most people
would unhesitatingly pronounce to be English if asked to name their
nationality.



CHAPTER XIV--Sanctuary of Oropa



From Lanzo I went back to Turin, where Jones again joined me, and
we resolved to go and see the famous sanctuary of Oropa near
Biella.  Biella is about three hours' railway journey from Turin.
It is reached by a branch line of some twenty miles, that leaves
the main line between Turin and Milan at Santhia.  Except the view
of the Alps, which in clear weather cannot be surpassed, there is
nothing of very particular interest between Turin and Santhia, nor
need Santhia detain the traveller longer than he can help.  Biella
we found to consist of an upper and a lower town--the upper, as may
be supposed, being the older.  It is at the very junction of the
plain and the mountains, and is a thriving place, with more of the
busy air of an English commercial town than perhaps any other of
its size in North Italy.  Even in the old town large rambling old
palazzi have been converted into factories, and the click of the
shuttle is heard in unexpected places.

We were unable to find that Biella contains any remarkable pictures
or other works of art, though they are doubtless to be found by
those who have the time to look for them.  There is a very fine
campanile near the post-office, and an old brick baptistery, also
hard by; but the church to which both campanile and baptistery
belonged, has, as the author of "Round about London" so well says,
been "utterly restored;" it cannot be uglier than what we sometimes
do, but it is quite as ugly.  We found an Italian opera company in
Biella; peeping through a grating, as many others were doing, we
watched the company rehearsing "La forza del destino," which was to
be given later in the week.

The morning after our arrival, we took the daily diligence for
Oropa, leaving Biella at eight o'clock.  Before we were clear of
the town we could see the long line of the hospice, and the chapels
dotted about near it, high up in a valley at some distance off;
presently we were shown another fine building some eight or nine
miles away, which we were told was the sanctuary of Graglia.  About
this time the pictures and statuettes of the Madonna began to
change their hue and to become black--for the sacred image of Oropa
being black, all the Madonnas in her immediate neighbourhood are of
the same complexion.  Underneath some of them is written, "Nigra
sum sed sum formosa," which, as a rule, was more true as regards
the first epithet than the second.

It was not market-day, but streams of people were coming to the
town.  Many of them were pilgrims returning from the sanctuary, but
more were bringing the produce of their farms, or the work of their
hands for sale.  We had to face a steady stream of chairs, which
were coming to town in baskets upon women's heads.  Each basket
contained twelve chairs, though whether it is correct to say that
the basket contained the chairs--when the chairs were all, so to
say, froth running over the top of the basket--is a point I cannot
settle.  Certainly we had never seen anything like so many chairs
before, and felt almost as though we had surprised nature in the
laboratory wherefrom she turns out the chair supply of the world.
The road continued through a succession of villages almost running
into one another for a long way after Biella was passed, but
everywhere we noticed the same air of busy thriving industry which
we had seen in Biella itself.  We noted also that a preponderance
of the people had light hair, while that of the children was
frequently nearly white, as though the infusion of German blood was
here stronger even than usual.  Though so thickly peopled, the
country was of great beauty.  Near at hand were the most exquisite
pastures close shaven after their second mowing, gay with autumnal
crocuses, and shaded with stately chestnuts; beyond were rugged
mountains, in a combe on one of which we saw Oropa itself now
gradually nearing; behind and below, many villages with vineyards
and terraces cultivated to the highest perfection; further on,
Biella already distant, and beyond this a "big stare," as an
American might say, over the plains of Lombardy from Turin to
Milan, with the Apennines from Genoa to Bologna hemming the
horizon.  On the road immediate before us, we still faced the same
steady stream of chairs flowing ever Biella-ward.

After a couple of hours the houses became more rare; we got above
the sources of the chair-stream; bits of rough rock began to jut
out from the pasture; here and there the rhododendron began to show
itself by the roadside; the chestnuts left off along a line as
level as though cut with a knife; stone-roofed cascine began to
abound, with goats and cattle feeding near them; the booths of the
religious trinket-mongers increased; the blind, halt, and maimed
became more importunate, and the foot-passengers were more entirely
composed of those whose object was, or had been, a visit to the
sanctuary itself.  The numbers of these pilgrims--generally in
their Sunday's best, and often comprising the greater part of a
family--were so great, though there was no special festa, as to
testify to the popularity of the institution.  They generally
walked barefoot, and carried their shoes and stockings; their
baggage consisted of a few spare clothes, a little food, and a pot
or pan or two to cook with.  Many of them looked very tired, and
had evidently tramped from long distances--indeed, we saw costumes
belonging to valleys which could not be less than two or three days
distant.  They were almost invariably quiet, respectable, and
decently clad, sometimes a little merry, but never noisy, and none
of them tipsy.  As we travelled along the road, we must have fallen
in with several hundreds of these pilgrims coming and going; nor is
this likely to be an extravagant estimate, seeing that the hospice
can make up more than five thousand beds.  By eleven we were at the
sanctuary itself.

Fancy a quiet upland valley, the floor of which is about the same
height as the top of Snowdon, shut in by lofty mountains upon three
sides, while on the fourth the eye wanders at will over the plains
below.  Fancy finding a level space in such a valley watered by a
beautiful mountain stream, and nearly filled by a pile of
collegiate buildings, not less important than those, we will say,
of Trinity College, Cambridge.  True, Oropa is not in the least
like Trinity, except that one of its courts is large, grassy, has a
chapel and a fountain in it, and rooms all round it; but I do not
know how better to give a rough description of Oropa than by
comparing it with one of our largest English colleges.

The buildings consist of two main courts.  The first comprises a
couple of modern wings, connected by the magnificent facade of what
is now the second or inner court.  This facade dates from about the
middle of the seventeenth century; its lowest storey is formed by
an open colonnade, and the whole stands upon a raised terrace from
which a noble flight of steps descends into the outer court.

Ascending the steps and passing under the colonnade, we found
ourselves in the second or inner court, which is a complete
quadrangle, and is, we were told, of rather older date than the
facade.  This is the quadrangle which gives its collegiate
character to Oropa.  It is surrounded by cloisters on three sides,
on to which the rooms in which the pilgrims are lodged open--those
at least that are on the ground-floor, for there are three storeys.
The chapel, which was dedicated in the year 1600, juts out into the
court upon the north-east side.  On the north-west and south-west
sides are entrances through which one may pass to the open country.
The grass, at the time of our visit, was for the most part covered
with sheets spread out to dry.  They looked very nice, and, dried
on such grass and in such an air, they must be delicious to sleep
on.  There is, indeed, rather an appearance as though it were a
perpetual washing-day at Oropa, but this is not to be wondered at
considering the numbers of comers and goers; besides, people in
Italy do not make so much fuss about trifles as we do.  If they
want to wash their sheets and dry them, they do not send them to
Ealing, but lay them out in the first place that comes handy, and
nobody's bones are broken.



CHAPTER XV--Oropa (continued)



On the east side of the main block of buildings there is a grassy
slope adorned with chapels that contain illustrating scenes in the
history of the Virgin.  These figures are of terra-cotta, for the
most part life-size, and painted up to nature.  In some cases, if I
remember rightly, they have hemp or flax for hair, as at Varallo,
and throughout realism is aimed at as far as possible, not only in
the figures, but in the accessories.  We have very little of the
same kind in England.  In the Tower of London there is an effigy of
Queen Elizabeth going to the city to give thanks for the defeat of
the Spanish Armada.  This looks as if it might have been the work
of some one of the Valsesian sculptors.  There are also the figures
that strike the quarters of Sir John Bennett's city clock in
Cheapside.  The automatic movements of these last-named figures
would have struck the originators of the Varallo chapels with envy.
They aimed at realism so closely that they would assuredly have had
recourse to clockwork in some one or two of their chapels; I cannot
doubt, for example, that they would have eagerly welcomed the idea
of making the cock crow to Peter by a cuckoo-clock arrangement, if
it had been presented to them.  This opens up the whole question of
realism versus conventionalism in art--a subject much too large to
be treated here.

As I have said, the founders of these Italian chapels aimed at
realism.  Each chapel was intended as an illustration, and the
desire was to bring the whole scene more vividly before the
faithful by combining the picture, the statue, and the effect of a
scene upon the stage in a single work of art.  The attempt would be
an ambitious one, though made once only in a neighbourhood, but in
most of the places in North Italy where anything of the kind has
been done, the people have not been content with a single
illustration; it has been their scheme to take a mountain as though
it had been a book or wall and cover it with illustrations.  In
some cases--as at Orta, whose Sacro Monte is perhaps the most
beautiful of all as regards the site itself--the failure is
complete, but in some of the chapels at Varese and in many of those
at Varallo, great works have been produced which have not yet
attracted as much attention as they deserve.  It may be doubted,
indeed, whether there is a more remarkable work of art in North
Italy than the Crucifixion chapel at Varallo, where the twenty-five
statues, as well as the frescoes behind them, are (with the
exception of the figure of Christ, which has been removed) by
Gaudenzio Ferrari.  It is to be wished that some one of these
chapels--both chapel and sculptures--were reproduced at South
Kensington.

Varallo, which is undoubtedly the most interesting sanctuary in
North Italy, has forty-four of these illustrative chapels; Varese,
fifteen; Orta, eighteen; and Oropa, seventeen.  No one is allowed
to enter them, except when repairs are needed; but when these are
going on, as is constantly the case, it is curious to look through
the grating into the somewhat darkened interior, and to see a
living figure or two among the statues; a little motion on the part
of a single figure seems to communicate itself to the rest and make
them all more animated.  If the living figure does not move much,
it is easy at first to mistake it for a terra-cotta one.  At Orta,
some years since, looking one evening into a chapel when the light
was fading, I was surprised to see a saint whom I had not seen
before; he had no glory except what shone from a very red nose; he
was smoking a short pipe, and was painting the Virgin Mary's face.
The touch was a finishing one, put on with deliberation, slowly, so
that it was two or three seconds before I discovered that the
interloper was no saint.

The figures in the chapels at Oropa are not as good as the best of
those at Varallo, but some of them are very nice notwithstanding.
We liked the seventh chapel the best--the one which illustrates the
sojourn of the Virgin Mary in the temple.  It contains forty-four
figures, and represents the Virgin on the point of completing her
education as head girl at a high-toned academy for young
gentlewomen.  All the young ladies are at work making mitres for
the bishop, or working slippers in Berlin wool for the new curate,
but the Virgin sits on a dais above the others on the same platform
with the venerable lady-principal, who is having passages read out
to her from some standard Hebrew writer.  The statues are the work
of a local sculptor, named Aureggio, who lived at the end of the
seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century.

The highest chapel must be a couple of hundred feet above the main
buildings, and from near it there is an excellent bird's-eye view
of the sanctuary and the small plain behind; descending on to this
last, we entered the quadrangle from the north-west side and
visited the chapel in which the sacred image of the Madonna is
contained.  We did not see the image itself, which is only exposed
to public view on great occasions.  It is believed to have been
carved by St. Luke the Evangelist.  I must ask the reader to
content himself with the following account of it which I take from
Marocco's work upon Oropa.:-

"That this statue of the Virgin is indeed by St. Luke is attested
by St. Eusebius, a man of eminent piety and no less enlightened
than truthful.  St. Eusebius discovered its origin by revelation;
and the store which he set by it is proved by his shrinking from no
discomforts in his carriage of it from a distant country, and by
his anxiety to put it in a place of great security.  His desire,
indeed, was to keep it in the spot which was most near and dear to
him, so that he might extract from it the higher incitement to
devotion, and more sensible comfort in the midst of his austerities
and apostolic labours.

"This truth is further confirmed by the quality of the wood from
which the statue is carved, which is commonly believed to be cedar;
by the Eastern character of the work; by the resemblance both of
the lineaments and the colour to those of other statues by St.
Luke; by the tradition of the neighbourhood, which extends in an
unbroken and well-assured line to the time of St. Eusebius himself;
by the miracles that have been worked here by its presence, and
elsewhere by its invocation, or even by indirect contact with it;
by the miracles, lastly, which are inherent in the image itself,
{23} and which endure to this day, such as is its immunity from all
worm and from the decay which would naturally have occurred in it
through time and damp--more especially in the feet, through the
rubbing of religious objects against them.

* * *

"The authenticity of this image is so certainly and clearly
established, that all supposition to the contrary becomes
inexplicable and absurd.  Such, for example, is a hypothesis that
it should not be attributed to the Evangelist, but to another Luke,
also called 'Saint,' and a Florentine by birth.  This painter lived
in the eleventh century--that is to say, about seven centuries
after the image of Oropa had been known and venerated!  This is
indeed an anachronism.

"Other difficulties drawn either from the ancient discipline of the
Church, or from St. Luke the Evangelist's profession, which was
that of a physician, vanish at once when it is borne in mind--
firstly, that the cult of holy images, and especially of that of
the most blessed Virgin, is of extreme antiquity in the Church, and
of apostolic origin as is proved by ecclesiastical writers and
monuments found in the catacombs which date as far back as the
first century (see among other authorities, Nicolas, "La Vergine
vivente nella Chiesa," lib. iii. cap. iii. SS  2); secondly, that
as the medical profession does not exclude that of artist, St. Luke
may have been both artist and physician; that he did actually
handle both the brush and the scalpel is established by respectable
and very old traditions, to say nothing of other arguments which
can be found in impartial and learned writers upon such matters."

I will only give one more extract.  It runs:-

"In 1855 a celebrated Roman portrait-painter, after having
carefully inspected the image of the Virgin Mary at Oropa, declared
it to be certainly a work of the first century of our era." {24}

I once saw a common cheap china copy of this Madonna announced as
to be given away with two pounds of tea, in a shop near Hatton
Garden.

The church in which the sacred image is kept is interesting from
the pilgrims who at all times frequent it, and from the collection
of votive pictures which adorn its walls.  Except the votive
pictures and the pilgrims the church contains little of interest,
and I will pass on to the constitution and objects of the
establishment.-

The objects are--1.  Gratuitous lodging to all comers for a space
of from three to nine days as the rector may think fit.  2.  A
school.  3.  Help to the sick and poor.  It is governed by a
president and six members, who form a committee.  Four members are
chosen by the communal council, and two by the cathedral chapter of
Biella.  At the hospice itself there reside a director, with his
assistant, a surveyor to keep the fabric in repair, a rector or
dean with six priests, called cappellani, and a medical man.  "The
government of the laundry," so runs the statute on this head, "and
analogous domestic services are entrusted to a competent number of
ladies of sound constitution and good conduct, who live together in
the hospice under the direction of an inspectress, and are called
daughters of Oropa."

The bye-laws of the establishment are conceived in a kindly genial
spirit, which in great measure accounts for its unmistakeable
popularity.  We understood that the poorer visitors, as a general
rule, avail themselves of the gratuitous lodging, without making
any present when they leave, but in spite of this it is quite clear
that they are wanted to come, and come they accordingly do.  It is
sometimes difficult to lay one's hands upon the exact passages
which convey an impression, but as we read the bye-laws which are
posted up in the cloisters, we found ourselves continually smiling
at the manner in which almost anything that looked like a
prohibition could be removed with the consent of the director.
There is no rule whatever about visitors attending the church; all
that is required of them is that they do not interfere with those
who do.  They must not play games of chance, or noisy games; they
must not make much noise of any sort after ten o'clock at night
(which corresponds about with midnight in England).  They should
not draw upon the walls of their rooms, nor cut the furniture.
They should also keep their rooms clean, and not cook in those that
are more expensively furnished.  This is about all that they must
not do, except fee the servants, which is most especially and
particularly forbidden.  If any one infringes these rules, he is to
be admonished, and in case of grave infraction or continued
misdemeanour he may be expelled and not readmitted.

Visitors who are lodged in the better-furnished apartments can be
waited upon if they apply at the office; the charge is twopence for
cleaning a room, making the bed, bringing water, &c.  If there is
more than one bed in a room, a penny must be paid for every bed
over the first.  Boots can be cleaned for a penny, shoes for a
half-penny.  For carrying wood, &c., either a halfpenny or a penny
will be exacted according to the time taken.  Payment for these
services must not be made to the servant, but at the office.

The gates close at ten o'clock at night, and open at sunrise, "but
if any visitor wishes to make Alpine excursions, or has any other
sufficient reason, he should let the director know."  Families
occupying many rooms must--when the hospice is very crowded, and
when they have had due notice--manage to pack themselves into a
smaller compass.  No one can have rooms kept for him.  It is to be
strictly "first come, first served."  No one must sublet his room.
Visitors must not go away without giving up the key of their room.
Candles and wood may be bought at a fixed price.

Any one wishing to give anything to the support of the hospice must
do so only to the director, the official who appoints the
apartments, the dean or the cappellani, or to the inspectress of
the daughters of Oropa, but they must have a receipt for even the
smallest sum; alms-boxes, however, are placed here and there, into
which the smaller offerings may be dropped (we imagine this means
anything under a franc).

The poor will be fed as well as housed for three days gratuitously-
-provided their health does not require a longer stay; but they
must not beg on the premises of the hospice; professional beggars
will be at once handed over to the mendicity society in Biella, or
even perhaps to prison.  The poor for whom a hydropathic course is
recommended, can have it under the regulations made by the
committee--that is to say, if there is a vacant place.

There are trattorie and cafes at the hospice, where refreshments
may be obtained both good and cheap.  Meat is to be sold there at
the prices current in Biella; bread at two centimes the chilogramma
more, to pay for the cost of carriage.

Such are the bye-laws of this remarkable institution.  Few except
the very rich are so under-worked that two or three days of change
and rest are not at times a boon to them, while the mere knowledge
that there is a place where repose can be had cheaply and
pleasantly is itself a source of strength.  Here, so long as the
visitor wishes to be merely housed, no questions are asked; no one
is refused admittance, except for some obviously sufficient reason;
it is like getting a reading ticket for the British Museum, there
is practically but one test--that is to say, desire on the part of
the visitor--the coming proves the desire, and this suffices.  A
family, we will say, has just gathered its first harvest; the heat
on the plains is intense, and the malaria from the rice grounds
little less than pestilential; what, then, can be nicer than to
lock up the house and go for three days to the bracing mountain air
of Oropa?  So at daybreak off they all start, trudging, it may be,
their thirty or forty miles, and reaching Oropa by nightfall.  If
there is a weakly one among them, some arrangement is sure to be
practicable, whereby he or she can be helped to follow more
leisurely, and can remain longer at the hospice.  Once arrived,
they generally, it is true, go the round of the chapels, and make
some slight show of pilgrimage, but the main part of their time is
spent in doing absolutely nothing.  It is sufficient amusement to
them to sit on the steps, or lie about under the shadow of the
trees, and neither say anything nor do anything, but simply
breathe, and look at the sky and at each other.  We saw scores of
such people just resting instinctively in a kind of blissful waking
dream.  Others saunter along the walks which have been cut in the
woods that surround the hospice, or if they have been pent up in a
town and have a fancy for climbing, there are mountain excursions,
for the making of which the hospice affords excellent headquarters,
and which are looked upon with every favour by the authorities.

It must be remembered also that the accommodation provided at Oropa
is much better than what the people are, for the most part,
accustomed to in their own homes, and the beds are softer, more
often beaten up, and cleaner than those they have left behind them.
Besides, they have sheets--and beautifully clean sheets.  Those who
know the sort of place in which an Italian peasant is commonly
content to sleep, will understand how much he must enjoy a really
clean and comfortable bed, especially when he has not got to pay
for it.  Sleep, in the circumstances of comfort which most readers
will be accustomed to, is a more expensive thing than is commonly
supposed.  If we sleep eight hours in a London hotel we shall have
to pay from 4d. to 6d. an hour, or from 1d. to 1.5d. for every
fifteen minutes we lie in bed; nor is it reasonable to believe that
the charge is excessive, when we consider the vast amount of
competition which exists.  There is many a man the expenses of
whose daily meat, drink, and clothing are less than what an
accountant would show us we, many of us, lay out nightly upon our
sleep.  The cost of really comfortable sleep-necessaries cannot, of
course, be nearly so great at Oropa as in a London hotel, but they
are enough to put them beyond the reach of the peasant under
ordinary circumstances, and he relishes them all the more when he
can get them.

But why, it may be asked, should the peasant have these things if
he cannot afford to pay for them; and why should he not pay for
them if he can afford to do so?  If such places as Oropa were
common, would not lazy vagabonds spend their lives in going the
rounds of them, &c., &c.?  Doubtless if there were many Oropas,
they would do more harm than good, but there are some things which
answer perfectly well as rarities or on a small scale, out of which
all the virtue would depart if they were common or on a larger one;
and certainly the impression left upon our minds by Oropa was that
its effects were excellent.

Granted the sound rule to be that a man should pay for what he has,
or go without it; in practice, however, it is found impossible to
carry this rule out strictly.  Why does the nation give A. B., for
instance, and all comers a large, comfortable, well-ventilated,
warm room to sit in, with chair, table, reading-desk, &c., all more
commodious than what he may have at home, without making him pay a
sixpence for it directly from year's end to year's end?  The three
or nine days' visit to Oropa is a trifle in comparison with what we
can all of us obtain in London if we care about it enough to take a
very small amount of trouble.  True, one cannot sleep in the
reading-room of the British Museum--not all night, at least--but by
day one can make a home of it for years together except during
cleaning times, and then it is hard if one cannot get into the
National Gallery or South Kensington, and be warm, quiet, and
entertained without paying for it.

It will be said that it is for the national interest that people
should have access to treasuries of art or knowledge, and therefore
it is worth the nation's while to pay for placing the means of
doing so at their disposal; granted, but is not a good bed one of
the great ends of knowledge, whereto it must work, if it is to be
accounted knowledge at all? and is it not worth a nation's while
that her children should now and again have practical experience of
a higher state of things than the one they are accustomed to, and a
few days' rest and change of scene and air, even though she may
from time to time have to pay something in order to enable them to
do so?  There can be few books which do an averagely-educated
Englishman so much good, as the glimpse of comfort which he gets by
sleeping in a good bed in a well-appointed room does to an Italian
peasant; such a glimpse gives him an idea of higher potentialities
in connection with himself, and nerves him to exertions which he
would not otherwise make.  On the whole, therefore, we concluded
that if the British Museum reading-room was in good economy, Oropa
was so also; at any rate, it seemed to be making a large number of
very nice people quietly happy--and it is hard to say more than
this in favour of any place or institution.

The idea of any sudden change is as repulsive to us as it will be
to the greater number of my readers; but if asked whether we
thought our English universities would do most good in their
present condition as places of so-called education, or if they were
turned into Oropas, and all the educational part of the story
totally suppressed, we inclined to think they would be more popular
and more useful in this latter capacity.  We thought also that
Oxford and Cambridge were just the places, and contained all the
appliances and endowments almost ready made for constituting two
splendid and truly imperial cities of recreation--universities in
deed as well as in name.  Nevertheless, we should not venture to
propose any further actual reform during the present generation
than to carry the principle which is already admitted as regards
the M.A. degree a trifle further, and to make the B.A. degree a
mere matter of lapse of time and fees--leaving the Little Go, and
whatever corresponds to it at Oxford, as the final examination.
This would be enough for the present.

There is another sanctuary about three hours' walk over the
mountain behind Oropa, at Andorno, and dedicated to St. John.  We
were prevented by the weather from visiting it, but understand that
its objects are much the same as those of the institution I have
just described.  I will now proceed to the third sanctuary for
which the neighbourhood of Biella is renowned.



CHAPTER XVI--Graglia



The sanctuary of Graglia is reached in about two hours from Biella.
There are daily diligences.  It is not so celebrated as that of
Oropa, nor does it stand so high above the level of the sea, but it
is a remarkable place and well deserves a visit.  The restaurant is
perfect--the best, indeed, that I ever saw in North Italy, or, I
think, anywhere else.  I had occasion to go into the kitchen, and
could not see how anything could beat it for the most absolute
cleanliness and order.  Certainly I never dined better than at the
sanctuary of Graglia; and one dines all the more pleasantly for
doing so on a lovely terrace shaded by trellised creepers, and
overlooking Lombardy.

I find from a small handbook by Signor Giuseppe Muratori, that the
present institution, like that of S. Michele, and almost all things
else that achieve success, was founded upon the work of a
predecessor, and became great not in one, but in several
generations.  The site was already venerated on account of a chapel
in honour of the Vergine addolorata which had existed here from
very early times.  A certain Nicolao Velotti, about the year 1616,
formed the design of reproducing Mount Calvary on this spot, and of
erecting perhaps a hundred chapels with terra-cotta figures in
them.  The famous Valsesian sculptor, Tabachetti, and his pupils,
the brothers Giovanni and Antonio (commonly called "Tanzio"),
D'Enrico of Riva in the Val Sesia, all of whom had recently been
working at the sanctuary of Varallo, were invited to Graglia, and
later on, another eminent native of the Val Sesia, Pietro Giuseppe
Martello.  These artists appear to have done a good deal of work
here, of which nothing now remains visible to the public, though it
is possible that in the chapel of S. Carlo and the closed chapels
on the way to it, there may be some statues lying neglected which I
know nothing about.  I was told of no such work, but when I was at
Graglia I did not know that the above-named great men had ever
worked there, and made no inquiries.  It is quite possible that all
the work they did here has not perished.

The means at the disposal of the people of Graglia were
insufficient for the end they had in view, but subscriptions came
in freely from other quarters.  Among the valuable rights,
liberties, privileges, and immunities that were conferred upon the
institution, was one which in itself was a source of unfailing and
considerable revenue, namely, the right of setting a robber free
once in every year; also, the authorities there were allowed to
sell all kinds of wine and eatables (robe mangiative) without
paying duty upon them.  As far as I can understand, the main work
of Velotti's is the chapel of S. Carlo, on the top of a hill some
few hundred feet above the present establishment.  I give a sketch
of this chapel here, but was not able to include the smaller
chapels which lead up to it.

A few years later, one Nicolao Garono built a small oratory at
Campra, which is nearer to Biella than Graglia is.  He dedicated it
to S. Maria della Neve--to St. Mary of the Snow.  This became more
frequented than Graglia itself, and the feast of the Virgin on the
5th August was exceedingly popular.  Signor Muratori says of it:-

"This is the popular feast of Graglia, and I can remember how but a
few years since it retained on a small scale all the features of
the sacre campestri of the Middle Ages.  For some time past,
however, the stricter customs which have been introduced here no
less than in other Piedmontese villages have robbed this feast (as
how many more popular feasts has it not also robbed?) of that
original and spontaneous character in which a jovial heartiness and
a diffusive interchange of the affections came welling forth from
all abundantly.  In spite of all, however, and notwithstanding its
decline, the feast of the Madonna is even now one of those rare
gatherings--the only one, perhaps, in the neighbourhood of Biella--
to which the pious Christian and the curious idler are alike
attracted, and where they will alike find appropriate amusement."
{25}

How Miltonic, not to say Handelian, is this attitude towards the
Pagan tendencies which, it is clear, predominated at the festa of
St. Mary of the Snow.  In old days a feast was meant to be a time
of actual merriment--a praising "with mirth, high cheer, and wine."
{26}  Milton felt this a little, and Handel much.  To them an
opportunity for a little paganism is like the scratching of a mouse
to the princess who had been born a cat.  Off they go after it--
more especially Handel--under some decent pretext no doubt, but as
fast, nevertheless, as their art can carry them.  As for Handel, he
had not only a sympathy for paganism, but for the shades and
gradations of paganism.  What, for example, can be a completer
contrast than between the polished and refined Roman paganism in
Theodora, {27} the rustic paganism of "Bid the maids the youths
provoke" in Hercules, the magician's or sorcerer's paganism of the
blue furnace in "Chemosh no more," {28} or the Dagon choruses in
Samson--to say nothing of a score of other examples that might be
easily adduced?  Yet who can doubt the sincerity and even fervour
of either Milton's or Handel's religious convictions?  The attitude
assumed by these men, and by the better class of Romanists, seems
to have become impossible to Protestants since the time of Dr.
Arnold.

I once saw a church dedicated to St. Francis.  Outside it, over the
main door, there was a fresco of the saint receiving the stigmata;
his eyes were upturned in a fine ecstasy to the illuminated spot in
the heavens whence the causes of the stigmata were coming.  The
church was insured, and the man who had affixed the plate of the
insurance office had put it at the precise spot in the sky to which
St. Francis's eyes were turned, so that the plate appeared to be
the main cause of his ecstasy.  Who cared?  No one; until a carping
Englishman came to the place, and thought it incumbent upon him to
be scandalised, or to pretend to be so; on this the authorities
were made very uncomfortable, and changed the position of the
plate.  Granted that the Englishman was right; granted, in fact,
that we are more logical; this amounts to saying that we are more
rickety, and must walk more supported by cramp-irons.  All the
"earnestness," and "intenseness," and "aestheticism," and "culture"
(for they are in the end one) of the present day, are just so many
attempts to conceal weakness.

But to return.  The church of St. Mary of the Snow at Campra was
incorporated into the Graglia institution in 1628.  There was
originally no connection between the two, and it was not long
before the later church became more popular than the earlier,
insomuch that the work at Graglia was allowed to fall out of
repair.  On the death of Velotti the scheme languished, and by and
by, instead of building more chapels, it was decided that it would
be enough to keep in repair those that were already built.  These,
as I have said, are the chapels of S. Carlo, and the small ones
which are now seen upon the way up to it, but they are all in a
semi-ruinous state.

Besides the church of St. Mary of the Snow at Campra, there was
another which was an exact copy of the Santa Casa di Loreto, and
where there was a remarkable echo which would repeat a word of ten
syllables when the wind was quiet.  This was exactly on the site of
the present sanctuary.  It seemed a better place for the
continuation of Velotti's work than the one he had himself chosen
for it, inasmuch as it was where Signor Muratori so well implies a
centre of devotion ought to be, namely, in "a milder climate, and
in a spot which offers more resistance to the inclemency of the
weather, and is better adapted to attract and retain the concourse
of the faithful."

The design of the present church was made by an architect of the
name of Arduzzi, in the year 1654, and the first stone was laid in
1659.  In 1687 the right of liberating a bandit every year had been
found to be productive of so much mischief that it was
discontinued, and a yearly contribution of two hundred lire was
substituted.  The church was not completed until the second half of
the last century, when the cupola was finished mainly through the
energy of a priest, Carlo Giuseppe Gastaldi of Netro.  This poor
man came to his end in a rather singular way.  He was dozing for a
few minutes upon a scaffolding, and being awakened by a sudden
noise, he started up, lost his balance, and fell over on to the
pavement below.  He died a few days later, on the 17th of October,
either 1787 or 1778, I cannot determine which, through a misprint
in Muratori's account.

The work was now virtually finished, and the buildings were much as
they are seen now, except that a third storey was added to the
hospice about the year 1840.  It is in the hospice that the
apartments are in which visitors are lodged.  I was shown all over
them, and found them not only comfortable but luxurious--decidedly
more so than those of Oropa; there was the same cleanliness
everywhere which I had noticed in the restaurant.  As one stands at
the windows or on the balconies and looks down on to the tops of
the chestnuts, and over these to the plains, one feels almost as if
one could fly out of the window like a bird; for the slope of the
hills is so rapid that one has a sense of being already suspended
in mid-air.

I thought I observed a desire to attract English visitors in the
pictures which I saw in the bedrooms.  Thus there was "A view of
the black lead mine in Cumberland," a coloured English print of the
end of the last century or the beginning of this, after, I think,
Loutherbourg, and in several rooms there were English engravings
after Martin.  The English will not, I think, regret if they yield
to these attractions.  They will find the air cool, shady walks,
good food, and reasonable prices.  Their rooms will not be charged
for, but they will do well to give the same as they would have paid
at an hotel.  I saw in one room one of those flippant, frivolous,
Lorenzo de' Medici match-boxes on which there was a gaudily-
coloured nymph in high-heeled boots and tights, smoking a
cigarette.  Feeling that I was in a sanctuary, I was a little
surprised that such a matchbox should have been tolerated.  I
suppose it had been left behind by some guest.  I should myself
select a matchbox with the Nativity, or the Flight into Egypt upon
it, if I were going to stay a week or so at Graglia.  I do not
think I can have looked surprised or scandalised, but the worthy
official who was with me could just see that there was something on
my mind.  "Do you want a match?" said he, immediately reaching me
the box.  I helped myself, and the matter dropped.

There were many fewer people at Graglia than at Oropa, and they
were richer.  I did not see any poor about, but I may have been
there during a slack time.  An impression was left upon me, though
I cannot say whether it was well or ill founded, as though there
were a tacit understanding between the establishments at Oropa and
Graglia that the one was to adapt itself to the poorer, and the
other to the richer classes of society; and this not from any
sordid motive, but from a recognition of the fact that any great
amount of intermixture between the poor and the rich is not found
satisfactory to either one or the other.  Any wide difference in
fortune does practically amount to a specific difference, which
renders the members of either species more or less suspicious of
those of the other, and seldom fertile inter se.  The well-to-do
working-man can help his poorer friends better than we can.  If an
educated man has money to spare, he will apply it better in helping
poor educated people than those who are more strictly called the
poor.  As long as the world is progressing, wide class distinctions
are inevitable; their discontinuance will be a sign that
equilibrium has been reached.  Then human civilisation will become
as stationary as that of ants and bees.  Some may say it will be
very sad when this is so; others, that it will be a good thing; in
truth, it is good either way, for progress and equilibrium have
each of them advantages and disadvantages which make it impossible
to assign superiority to either; but in both cases the good greatly
overbalances the evil; for in both the great majority will be
fairly well contented, and would hate to live under any other
system.

Equilibrium, if it is ever reached, will be attained very slowly,
and the importance of any change in a system depends entirely upon
the rate at which it is made.  No amount of change shocks--or, in
other words, is important--if it is made sufficiently slowly, while
hardly any change is too small to shock if it is made suddenly.  We
may go down a ladder of ten thousand feet in height if we do so
step by step, while a sudden fall of six or seven feet may kill us.
The importance, therefore, does not lie in the change, but in the
abruptness of its introduction.  Nothing is absolutely important or
absolutely unimportant, absolutely good or absolutely bad.

This is not what we like to contemplate.  The instinct of those
whose religion and culture are on the surface only is to conceive
that they have found, or can find, an absolute and eternal
standard, about which they can be as earnest as they choose.  They
would have even the pains of hell eternal if they could.  If there
had been any means discoverable by which they could torment
themselves beyond endurance, we may be sure they would long since
have found it out; but fortunately there is a stronger power which
bars them inexorably from their desire, and which has ensured that
intolerable pain shall last only for a very little while.  For
either the circumstances or the sufferer will change after no long
time.  If the circumstances are intolerable, the sufferer dies:  if
they are not intolerable, he becomes accustomed to them, and will
cease to feel them grievously.  No matter what the burden, there
always has been, and always must be, a way for us also to escape.



CHAPTER XVII--Soazza and the Valley of Mesocco



I regret that I have not space for any of the sketches I took at
Bellinzona, than which few towns are more full of admirable
subjects.  The Hotel de la Ville is an excellent house, and the
town is well adapted for an artist's headquarters.  Turner's two
water-colour drawings of Bellinzona in the National Gallery are
doubtless very fine as works of art, but they are not like
Bellinzona, the spirit of which place (though not the letter) is
better represented by the background to Basaiti's Madonna and
child, also in our gallery, supposing the castle on the hill to
have gone to ruin.

At Bellinzona a man told me that one of the two towers was built by
the Visconti and the other by Julius Caesar, a hundred years
earlier.  So, poor old Mrs. Barratt at Langar could conceive no
longer time than a hundred years.  The Trojan war did not last ten
years, but ten years was as big a lie as Homer knew.

Almost all days in the subalpine valleys of North Italy have a
beauty with them of some kind or another, but none are more lovely
than a quiet gray day just at the beginning of autumn, when the
clouds are drawing lazily and in the softest fleeces over the pine
forests high up on the mountain sides.  On such days the mountains
are very dark till close up to the level of the clouds; here, if
there is dewy or rain-besprinkled pasture, it tells of a luminous
silvery colour by reason of the light which the clouds reflect upon
it; the bottom edges of the clouds are also light through the
reflection upward from the grass, but I do not know which begins
this battledore and shuttlecock arrangement.  These things are like
quarrels between two old and intimate friends; one can never say
who begins them.  Sometimes on a dull gray day like this, I have
seen the shadow parts of clouds take a greenish-ashen-coloured
tinge from the grass below them.

On one of these most enjoyable days we left Bellinzona for Mesocco
on the S. Bernardino road.  The air was warm, there was not so much
as a breath of wind, but it was not sultry:  there had been rain,
and the grass, though no longer decked with the glory of its spring
flowers, was of the most brilliant emerald, save where flecked with
delicate purple by myriads of autumnal crocuses.  The level ground
at the bottom of the valley where the Moesa runs is cultivated with
great care.  Here the people have gathered the stones in heaps
round any great rock which is too difficult to move, and the whole
mass has in time taken a mulberry hue, varied with gray and russet
lichens, or blobs of velvety green moss.  These heaps of stone crop
up from the smooth shaven grass, and are overhung with barberries,
mountain ash, and mountain elder with their brilliant scarlet
berries--sometimes, again, with dwarf oaks, or alder, or nut, whose
leaves have just so far begun to be tinged as to increase the
variety of the colouring.  The first sparks of autumn's yearly
conflagration have been kindled, but the fire is not yet raging as
in October; soon after which, indeed, it will have burnt itself
out, leaving the trees it were charred, with here and there a live
coal of a red leaf or two still smouldering upon them.

As yet lingering mulleins throw up their golden spikes amid a
profusion of blue chicory, and the gourds run along upon the ground
like the fire mingled with the hail in "Israel in Egypt."  Overhead
are the umbrageous chestnuts loaded with their prickly harvest.
Now and again there is a manure heap upon the grass itself, and
lusty wanton gourds grow out from it along the ground like
vegetable octopi.  If there is a stream it will run with water
limpid as air, and as full of dimples as "While Kedron's brook" in
"Joshua":-

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

How quiet and full of rest does everything appear to be.  There is
no dust nor glare, and hardly a sound save that of the unfailing
waterfalls, or the falling cry with which the peasants call to one
another from afar. {29}

So much depends upon the aspect in which one sees a place for the
first time.  What scenery can stand, for example, a noontide glare?
Take the valley from Lanzo to Viu.  It is of incredible beauty in
the mornings and afternoons of brilliant days, and all day long
upon a gray day; but in the middle hours of a bright summer's day
it is hardly beautiful at all, except locally in the shade under
chestnuts.  Buildings and towns are the only things that show well
in a glare.  We perhaps, therefore, thought the valley of the Moesa
to be of such singular beauty on account of the day on which we saw
it, but doubt whether it must not be absolutely among the most
beautiful of the subalpine valleys upon the Italian side.

The least interesting part is that between Bellinzona and Roveredo,
but soon after leaving Roveredo the valley begins to get narrower
and to assume a more mountain character.  Ere long the eye catches
sight of a white church tower and a massive keep, near to one
another and some two thousand feet above the road.  This is Santa
Maria in Calanca.  One can see at once that it must be an important
place for such a district, but it is strange why it should be
placed so high.  I will say more about it later on.

Presently we passed Cama, where there is an inn, and where the road
branches off into the Val Calanca.  Alighting here for a few
minutes we saw a cane lupino--that is to say, a dun mouse-coloured
dog about as large as a mastiff, and with a very large infusion of
wolf blood in him.  It was like finding one's self alone with a
wolf--but he looked even more uncanny and ferocious than a wolf.  I
once saw a man walking down Fleet Street accompanied by one of
these cani lupini, and noted the general attention and alarm which
the dog caused.  Encouraged by the landlord, we introduced
ourselves to the dog at Cama, and found him to be a most sweet
person, with no sense whatever of self-respect, and shrinking from
no ignominy in his importunity for bits of bread.  When we put the
bread into his mouth and felt his teeth, he would not take it till
he had looked in our eyes and said as plainly as though in words,
"Are you quite sure that my teeth are not painful to you?  Do you
really think I may now close my teeth upon the bread without
causing you any inconvenience?"  We assured him that we were quite
comfortable, so he swallowed it down, and presently began to pat us
softly with his foot to remind us that it was our turn now.

Before we left, a wandering organ-grinder began to play outside the
inn.  Our friend the dog lifted up his voice and howled.  I am sure
it was with pleasure.  If he had disliked the music he would have
gone away.  He was not at all the kind of person who would stay a
concert out if he did not like it.  He howled because he was
stirred to the innermost depths of his nature.  On this he became
intense, and as a matter of course made a fool of himself; but he
was in no way more ridiculous than an Art Professor whom I once
observed as he was holding forth to a number of working men, whilst
escorting them round the Italian pictures in the National Gallery.
When the organ left off he cast an appealing look at Jones, and we
could almost hear the words, "What IS it out of?" coming from his
eyes.  We did not happen to know, so we told him that it was "Ah
che la morte" from "Il Trovatore," and he was quite contented.
Jones even thought he looked as much as to say, "Oh yes, of course,
how stupid of me; I thought I knew it."  He very well may have done
so, but I am bound to say that I did not see this.

Near to Cama is Grono, where Baedeker says there is a chapel
containing some ancient frescoes.  I searched Grono in vain for any
such chapel.  A few miles higher up, the church of Soazza makes its
appearance perched upon the top of its hill, and soon afterwards
the splendid ruin of Mesocco on another rock or hill which rises in
the middle of the valley.

The mortuary chapel of Soazza church is the subject my friend Mr.
Gogin has selected for the etching at the beginning of this volume.
There was a man mowing another part of the churchyard when I was
there.  He was so old and lean that his flesh seemed little more
than parchment stretched over his bones, and he might have been
almost taken for Death mowing his own acre.  When he was gone some
children came to play, but he had left his scythe behind him.
These children were beyond my strength to draw, so I turned the
subject over to Mr. Gogin's stronger hands.  Children are
dynamical; churches and frescoes are statical.  I can get on with
statical subjects, but can do nothing with dynamical ones.  Over
the door and windows are two frescoes of skeletons holding mirrors
in their hands, with a death's head in the mirror.  This reflected
head is supposed to be that of the spectator to whom death is
holding up the image of what he will one day become.  I do not
remember the inscription at Soazza; the one in the Campo Santo at
Mesocco is, "Sicut vos estis nos fuimus, et sicut nos sumus vos
eritis." {30}

On my return to England I mentioned this inscription to a friend
who, as a young man, had been an excellent Latin scholar; he took a
panic into his head that "eritis" was not right for the second
person plural of the future tense of the verb "esse."  Whatever it
was, it was not "eritis."  This panic was speedily communicated to
myself, and we both puzzled for some time to think what the future
of "esse" really was.  At last we turned to a grammar and found
that "eritis" was right after all.  How skin-deep that classical
training penetrates on which we waste so many years, and how
completely we drop it as soon as we are left to ourselves.

On the right-hand side of the door of the mortuary chapel there
hangs a wooden tablet inscribed with a poem to the memory of Maria
Zara.  It is a pleasing poem, and begins:-


"Appena al trapassar il terzo lustro
Maria Zara la sua vita fini.
Se a Soazza ebbe la sua colma
A Roveredo la sua tomba . . .


she found," or words to that effect, but I forget the Italian.
This poem is the nearest thing to an Italian rendering of
"Affliction sore long time I bore" that I remember to have met
with, but it is longer and more grandiose generally.

Soazza is full of beautiful subjects, and indeed is the first place
in the valley of the Moesa which I thought good sketching ground,
in spite of the general beauty of the valley.  There is an inn
there quite sufficient for a bachelor artist.  The clergyman of the
place is a monk, and he will not let one paint on a feast-day.  I
was told that if I wanted to paint on a certain feast-day I had
better consult him; I did so, but was flatly refused permission,
and that too as it appeared to me with more peremptoriness than a
priest would have shown towards me.

It is at Soazza that the ascent of the San Bernardino becomes
perceptible; hitherto the road has seemed to be level all the way,
but henceforth the ascent though gradual is steady.  Mesocco Castle
looks very fine as soon as Soazza is passed, and gets finer and
finer until it is actually reached.  Here is the upper limit of the
chestnuts, which leave off upon the lower side of Mesocco Castle.
A few yards off the castle on the upper side is the ancient church
of S. Cristoforo, with its huge St. Christopher on the right-hand
side of the door.  St. Christopher is a very favourite saint in
these parts; people call him S. Cristofano, and even S. Carpofano.
I think it must be in the church of S. Cristoforo at Mesocco that
the frescoes are which Baedeker writes of as being near Grono.  Of
these I will speak at length in the next chapter.  About half or
three-quarters of a mile higher up the road than the castle is
Mesocco itself.



CHAPTER XVIII--Mesocco, S. Bernardino, and S. Maria in Calanca



At the time of my first visit there was an inn kept by one
Desteffanis and his wife, where I stayed nearly a month, and was
made very comfortable.  Last year, however, Jones and I found it
closed, but did very well at the Hotel Toscani.  At the Hotel
Desteffanis there used to be a parrot which lived about loose and
had no cage, but did exactly what it liked.  Its name was Lorrito.
It was a very human bird; I saw it eat some bread and milk from its
tin one day and then sidle along a pole to a place where there was
a towel hanging.  It took a corner of the towel in its claw, wiped
its beak with it, and then sidled back again.  It would sometimes
come and see me at breakfast; it got from a chair-back on to the
table by dropping its head and putting its round beak on to the
table first, making a third leg as it were of its head; it would
then waddle to the butter and begin helping itself.  It was a great
respecter of persons and knew the landlord and landlady perfectly
well.  It yawned just like a dog or a human being, and this not
from love of imitation but from being sleepy.  I do not remember to
have seen any other bird yawn.  It hated boys because the boys
plagued it sometimes.  The boys generally go barefoot in summer,
and if ever a boy came near the door of the hotel this parrot would
go straight for his toes.

The most striking feature of Mesocco is the castle, which, as I
have said, occupies a rock in the middle of the valley, and is one
of the finest ruins in Switzerland.  More interesting than the
castle, however, is the church of S. Cristoforo.  Before I entered
it I was struck with the fresco on the facciata of the church,
which, though the facciata bears the date 1720, was painted in a
style so much earlier than that of 1720 that I at first imagined I
had found here another old master born out of due time; for the
fresco was in such a good state of preservation that it did not
look more than 150 years old, and it was hardly likely to have been
preserved when the facciata was renovated in 1720.  When, however,
my friend Jones joined me, he blew that little romance away by
discovering a series of names with dates scrawled upon it from
"1481. viii. Febraio" to the present century.  The lowest part of
the fresco must be six feet from the ground, and it must rise at
least ten or a dozen feet more, so the writings upon it are not
immediately obvious, but they will be found on looking at all
closely.

It is plain, therefore, that when the facciata paired the original
fresco was preserved; it cannot be, as I had supposed, the work of
a local painter who had taken his ideas of rocks and trees from the
frescoes inside the church.  That I am right in supposing the
curious blanc-mange-mould-looking objects on either side St.
Christopher's legs to be intended for rocks will be clear to any
one who has seen the frescoes inside the church, where mountains
with trees and towns upon them are treated on exactly the same
principle.  I cannot think the artist can have been quite easy in
his mind about them.

On entering the church the left-hand wall is found to be covered
with the most remarkable series of frescoes in the Italian Grisons.
They are disposed in three rows, one above the other, occupying the
whole wall of the church as far as the chancel.  The top row
depicts a series of incidents prior to the Crucifixion, and is cut
up by the pulpit at the chancel end.  These events are treated so
as to form a single picture.

The second row is in several compartments.  There is a saint in
armour on horseback, life-size, killing a dragon, and a queen who
seems to have been leading the dragon by a piece of red tape
buckled round its neck--unless, indeed, the dragon is supposed to
have been leading the queen.  The queen still holds the tape and
points heavenward.  Next to this there is a very nice saint on
horse-back, who is giving a cloak to a man who is nearly naked.
Then comes St. Michael trampling on the dragon, and holding a pair
of scales in his hand, in which are two little souls of a man and
of a woman.  The dragon has a hook in his hand, and thrusting this
up from under St. Michael, he hooks it on to the edge of the scale
with the woman in it, and drags her down.  The man, it seems, will
escape.  Next to this there is a compartment in which a monk is
offering a round thing to St. Michael, who does not seem to care
much about it; there are other saints and martyrs in this
compartment, and St. Anthony with his pig, and Sta. Lucia holding a
box with two eyes in it, she being patroness of the eyesight as
well as of mariners.  Lastly, there is the Adoration, ruined by the
pulpit.

Below this second compartment are twelve frescoes, each about three
and a half feet square, representing the twelve months--from a
purely secular point of view.  January is a man making and hanging
up sausages; February, a man chopping wood; March, a youth
proclaiming spring with two horns to his mouth, and his hair flying
all abroad; April is a young man on horseback carrying a flower in
his hand; May, a knight, not in armour, going out hawking with his
hawk on one finger, his bride on a pillion behind him, and a dog
beside the horse; June is a mower; July, another man reaping
twenty-seven ears of corn; August, an invalid going to see his
doctor; October, a man knocking down chestnuts from a tree and a
woman catching them; November is hidden and destroyed by the
pulpit; December is a butcher felling an ox with a hatchet.

We could find no signature of the artist, nor any date on the
frescoes to show when they were painted; but while looking for a
signature we found a name scratched with a knife or stone, and
rubbed the tracing which I reproduce, greatly reduced, here; Jones
thinks the last line was not written by Lazarus Bovollinus, but by
another who signs A. T.

[At this point in the book there is a brass rubbing.  It looks
like:  Lazarus Bouollins 1534  30 Augusti explenit 20 Amurs ...]

The Boelini were one of the principal families in Mesocco.  Gaspare
Boelini, the head of the house, had been treacherously thrown over
the castle walls and killed by order of Giovanni Giacomo Triulci in
the year 1525, because as chancellor of the valley he declined to
annul the purchase of the castle of Mesocco, which Triulci had
already sold to the people of Mesocco, and for which he had been in
great part paid.  His death is recorded on a stone placed by the
roadside under the castle.

Examining the wall further, we found a little to the right that the
same Lazzaro Bovollino (I need hardly say that "Bovollino" is
another way of spelling "Boelini") scratched his name again some
sixteen years later, as follows:-


    1550     adj (?)
26 Decemb.    morijm (?)
    Lazzaro Bovollino
           *
           |
15 L ----------- B 50


The handwriting is not so good as it was when he wrote his name
before; but we observed, with sympathy, that the writer had dropped
his Latin.  Close by is scratched "Gullielmo Bo."

The mark between the two letters L and B was the family mark of the
Boelini, each family having its mark, a practice of which further
examples will be given presently.

We looked still more, and on the border of one of the frescoes we
discovered -


                 Veneris.
"1481 die Jovis viiIj Februarij hoines di Misochi et Soazza
fecerunt fidelitatem in manibus di Johani Jacobi Triulzio,"


- "The men of Mesocco and Soazza did fealty to John Jacob Triulci
on Friday the 8th of February 1481."  The day originally written
was Thursday the 7th of February, but "Jovis" was scratched out and
"Veneris" written above, while another "i" was intercalated among
the i's of the viij of February.  We could not determine whether
some hitch arose so as to cause a change of day, or whether
"Thursday" and "viij" were written by a mistake for "Friday" and
"viiij," but we imagined both inscription and correction to have
been contemporaneous with the event itself.  It will be remembered
that on the St. Christopher outside the church there is scratched
it "1481. 8 Febraio" and nothing more.  The mistake of the day,
therefore, if it was a mistake, was made twice, and was corrected
inside the church but not upon the fresco outside--perhaps because
a ladder would have had to be fetched to reach it.  Possibly the
day had been originally fixed for Thursday the 8th, and a heavy
snow-storm prevented people from coming till next day.

I could not find that any one in Mesocco, not even my excellent
friend Signor a Marca, the curato himself, knew anything about
either the inscriptions or the cause of their being written.  No
one was aware even of their existence; on borrowing, however, the
history of the Valle Mesolcina by Signor Giovanni Antonio a Marca,
{31} I found what I think will throw light upon the matter.  The
family of De Sax had held the valley of Mesocco for over four
hundred years, and sold it in 1480 to John Jacob Triulci, who it
seems tried to cheat him out of a large part of the purchase money
later on; probably this John Jacob Triulci had the frescoes painted
to conciliate the clergy and inaugurate his entry into possession.
Early in 1481 he made the inhabitants of the valley do fealty to
him.  I may say that as soon as he had entered upon possession, he
began to oppress the people by demanding tolls on all produce that
passed the castle.  This the people resisted.  They were also
harassed by Peter De Sax, who made incursions into the valley and
seized property, being unable to get his money out of John Jacob
Triulci.

Other reasons that make me think the frescoes were painted in 1480
are as follows.  The spurs worn by the young men in the April and
May frescoes (pp. 211, 212) are about the date 1460.  Their
facsimiles can be seen in the Tower of London with this date
assigned to them.  The frescoes, therefore, can hardly have been
painted before this time; but they were probably painted later, for
in the St. Christopher there is a distinct hint at anatomy; enough
to show that the study of anatomy introduced by Leonardo da Vinci
was beginning to be talked about as more or less the correct thing.
This would hardly be the case before 1480, as Leonardo was not born
till 1452.  By February 1481 the frescoes were already painted;
this is plain because the inscription--which, I think, may be taken
as a record made at the time that fealty was done--is scratched
over them.  Peter De Sax, if he was selling his property, is not
likely to have had the frescoes painted just before he was going
away; I think it most likely, therefore, that they were painted in
1480, when the valley of Mesocco passed from the hands of the De
Sax family to those of the Triulci.

Underneath the inscription about the doing fealty there is
scratched in another hand, and very likely years after the event it
commemorates--"1548 fu liberata la Vallata."  This date is
contradicted (and, I believe, corrected) by another inscription
hard by, also in another hand, which says -


"1549.  La valle di Misocho compro la liberti da casa Triulcia per
2400 scuti."


This inscription is signed thus:-

[In the book there is a picture of four symbols]

Carlo a Marca had written his name along with three others in 1606
on another part of the frescoes.  Here are the signatures:-

[Again, some symbols]

Two of these signatures belong to members of the Triulci family, as
appears by the trident, which translates the name.  The T in each
case is doubtless for "Triulci."  Four years earlier still, Carlo a
Marca had written his name, with that of his wife or fiancee, on
the fresco of St. Christopher on the facciata of the church, for we
found there -


1602 { Carlo a Marca.
     { Margherita dei Paglioni.


There is one other place where his name appears, or rather a part
of it, for the inscription is half hidden by a gallery, erected
probably in the last century.

The a Marca family still flourish in Mesocco.  The curato is an a
Marca, so is the postmaster.  On the walls of a house near the
convent there is an inscription to the effect that it was given by
his fellow-townsmen to a member of the a Marca family, and the best
work on the history of the valley is the work of Giovanni Antonio
Marca from which I have already quoted.

Returning to the frescoes, we found that the men of Soazza and
Mesocco did fealty again to John Jacob Triulci on the feast of St.
Bartholomew, the 24th day of August 1503; this I believe to have
been the son of the original purchaser, but am not certain; if so,
he is the Triulci who had Gaspare Boelini thrown down from the
castle walls.  The people seem by another inscription to have done
fealty again upon the same day of the following year.

On the St. Christopher we found one date, 1530, scratched on the
right ankle, and several of 1607, apparently done at one time.  One
date was scratched in the left-hand corner -


1498 . . .
il Conte di (Misocho?)


There are also other dates--1627, 1633, 1635, 1626; and right
across the fresco there is written in red chalk, in a bold
sixteenth or seventeenth century handwriting -


"Il parlar di li homini da bene deve valer piu che quello degli
altri."


- "The word of a man of substance ought to carry more weight than
that of other people;" and again -


"Non ha la fede ognun come tu chredi;
Non chreder almen [quello?] che non vedi"


- "People are not so worthy of being believed as you think they
are; do not believe anything that you do not see yourself."

Big with our discoveries, we returned towards our inn, Jones
leaving me sketching by the roadside.  Presently an elderly English
gentleman of some importance, judging from his manner, came up to
me and entered into conversation.  Englishmen do not often visit
Mesocco, and I was rather surprised.  "Have you seen that horrid
fresco of St. Christopher down at that church there?" said he,
pointing towards it.  I said I had.  "It's very bad," said he
decidedly; "it was painted in the year 1725."  I had been through
all that myself, and I was a little cross into the bargain, so I
said, "No; the fresco is very good.  It is of the fifteenth
century, and the facciata was restored in 1720, not in 1725.  The
old fresco was preserved."  The old gentleman looked a little
scared.  "Oh," said he, "I know nothing about art--but I will see
you again at the hotel;" and left me at once.  I never saw him
again.  Who he was, where he came from, how he departed, I do not
know.  He was the only Englishman I saw during my stay of some four
weeks at Mesocco.

On the first day of my first visit to Mesocco in 1879, I had gone
on to S. Bernardino, and just before getting there, looking down
over the great stretches of pasture land above S. Giacomo, could
see that there was a storm raging lower down in the valley about
where Mesocco should be; I never saw such inky blackness in clouds
before, and the conductor of the diligence said that he had seen
nothing like it.  Next morning we learnt that a water-spout had
burst on the mountain above Anzone, a hamlet of Mesocco, and that
the water had done a great deal of damage to the convent at
Mesocco.  Returning a few days later, I saw where the torrent had
flowed by the mud upon the grass, but could not have believed such
a stream of water (running with the velocity with which it must
have run) to have been possible under any circumstances in that
place unless I had actually seen its traces.  It carried great
rocks of several cubic yards as though they had been small stones,
and among other mischief it had knocked down the garden wall of the
convent of S. Rocco and covered the garden with debris.  As I
looked at it I remembered what Signor Bullo had told me at Faido
about the inundations of 1868, "It was not the great rivers," he
said, "which did the damage:  it was the ruscelli" or small
streams.  So in revolutions it is not the heretofore great people,
but small ones swollen under unusual circumstances who are most
conspicuous and do most damage.  Padre Bernardino, of the convent
of S. Rocco, asked me to make him a sketch of the effect of the
inundation, which I was delighted to do.  It was not, however,
exactly what he wanted, and, moreover, it got spoiled in the
mounting, so I did another and he returned me the first with an
inscription upon it which I reproduce below.

First came the words-

[Ricordo a Mesocco]

Then came my sketch; and then -

[In the book there is some handwriting at this point--unfortunately
I cannot read it]

The English of which is as follows:- "View of the church, garden,
and hospice of S. Rocco, after the visitation inflicted upon them
by the sad torrent of Anzone, on the unhallowed evening of the 4th
of August 1879."  I regret that the "no" of Padre Bernardino's
name, through being written in faint ink, was not reproduced in my
facsimile.  I doubt whether Padre Bernardino would have got the
second sketch out of me, if I had not liked the inscription he had
written on the first so much that I wanted to be possessed of it.
Besides, he wrote me a note addressed "all' egregio pittore S.
Butler."  To be called an egregious painter was too much for me, so
I did the sketch.  I was once addressed as "L'esimio pittore."  I
think this is one degree better even than "egregio."

The damage which torrents can do must be seen to be believed.
There is not a streamlet, however innocent looking, which is not
liable occasionally to be turned into a furious destructive agent,
carrying ruin over the pastures which at ordinary times it
irrigates.  Perhaps in old times people deified and worshipped
streams because they were afraid of them.  Every year each one of
the great Alpine roads will be interrupted at some point or another
by the tons of stones and gravel that are swept over it perhaps for
a hundred yards together.  I have seen the St. Gothard road more
than once soon after these interruptions and could not have
believed such damage possible; in 1869 people would still shudder
when they spoke of the inundations of 1868.  It is curious to note
how they will now say that rocks which have evidently been in their
present place for hundreds of years, were brought there in 1868; as
for the torrent that damaged S. Rocco when I was in the valley of
Mesocco, it shaved off the strong parapet of the bridge on either
side clean and sharp, but the arch was left standing, the flood
going right over the top.  Many scars are visible on the mountain
tops which are clearly the work of similar water-spouts, and
altogether the amount of solid matter which gets taken down each
year into the valleys is much greater than we generally think.  Let
any one watch the Ticino flowing into the Lago Maggiore after a few
days' heavy rain, and consider how many tons of mud per day it must
carry into and leave in the lake, and he will wonder that the
gradual filling-up process is not more noticeable from age to age
than it is.

Anzone, whence the sad torrent derives its name, is an exquisitely
lovely little hamlet close to Mesocco.  Another no less beautiful
village is Doera, on the other side of the Moesa, and half a mile
lower down than Mesocco.  Doera overlooks the castle, the original
hexagonal form of which can be made out from this point.  It must
have been much of the same plan as the castle at Eynsford in Kent--
of which, by the way, I was once assured that the oldest inhabitant
could not say "what it come from."  While I was copying the fresco
outside the chapel at Doera, some charming people came round me.  I
said the fresco was very beautiful.  "Son persuaso," said the
spokesman solemnly.  Then he said there were some more pictures
inside and we had better see them; so the keys were brought.  We
said that they too were very beautiful.  "Siam persuasi," was the
reply in chorus.  Then they said that perhaps we should like to buy
them and take them away with us.  This was a more serious matter,
so we explained that they were very beautiful, but that these
things had a charm upon the spot which they would lose if removed
elsewhere.  The nice people at once replied, "Siam persuasi," and
so they left us.  It was like a fragment from one of Messrs.
Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas.

For the rest, Mesocco is beautifully situated and surrounded by
waterfalls.  There is a man there who takes the cows and goats out
in the morning for their several owners in the village, and brings
them home in the evening.  He announces his departure and his
return by blowing a twisted shell, like those that Tritons blow on
fountains or in pictures; it yields a softer sound than a horn;
when his shell is heard people go to the cow-house and let the cows
out; they need not drive them to join the others, they need only
open the door; and so in the evening, they only want the sound of
the shell to tell them that they must open the stable-door, for the
cows or goats when turned from the rest of the mob make straight to
their own abode.

There are two great avalanches which descend every spring; one of
them when I was there last was not quite gone until September;
these avalanches push the air before them and compress it, so that
a terrific wind descends to the bottom of the valley and mounts up
on to the village of Mesocco.  One year this wind snapped a whole
grove of full-grown walnuts across the middle of their trunks, and
carried stones and bits of wood up against the houses at some
distance off; it tore off part of the covering from the cupola of
the church, and twisted the weathercock awry in the fashion in
which it may still be seen, unless it has been mended since I left.

The judges at Mesocco get four francs a day when they are wanted,
but unless actually sitting they get nothing.  No wonder the people
are so nice to one another and quarrel so seldom.

The walk from Mesocco to S. Bernardino is delightful; it should
take about three hours.  For grassy slopes and flowers I do not
know a better, more especially from S. Giacomo onward.  In the
woods above S. Giacomo there are some bears, or were last year.
Five were known--a father, mother, and three young ones--but two
were killed.  They do a good deal of damage, and the Canton offers
a reward for their destruction.  The Grisons is the only Swiss
Canton in which there are bears still remaining.

San Bernardino, 5500 feet above the sea, pleased me less than
Mesocco, but there are some nice bits in it.  The Hotel Brocco is
the best to go to.  The village is about two hours below the top of
the pass; the walk to this is a pleasant one.  The old Roman road
can still be seen in many places, and is in parts in an excellent
state even now.  San Bernardino is a fashionable watering-place and
has a chalybeate spring.  In the summer it often has as many as two
or three thousand visitors, chiefly from the neighbourhood of the
Lago Maggiore and even from Milan.  It is not so good a sketching
ground--at least so I thought--as some others of a similar
character that I have seen.  It is not comparable, for example, to
Fusio.  It is little visited by the English.

On our way down to Bellinzona again we determined to take S. Maria
in Calanca, and accordingly were dropped by the diligence near
Gabbiolo, whence there is a path across the meadows and under the
chestnuts which leads to Verdabbio.  There are some good bits near
the church of this village, and some quaint modern frescoes on a
public-house a little off the main footpath, but there is no
accommodation.  From this village the path ascends rapidly for an
hour or more, till just as one has made almost sure that one must
have gone wrong and have got too high, or be on the track to an
alpe only, one finds one's self on a wide beaten path with walls on
either side.  We are now on a level with S. Maria itself, and
turning sharply to the left come in a few minutes right upon the
massive keep and the campanile, which are so striking when seen
from down below.  They are much more striking when seen from close
at hand.  The sketch I give does not convey the notion--as what
sketch can convey it?--that one is at a great elevation, and it is
this which gives its especial charm to S. Maria in Calanca.

The approach to the church is beautiful, and the church itself full
of interest.  The village was evidently at one time a place of some
importance, though it is not easy to understand how it came to be
built in such a situation.  Even now it is unaccountably large.
There is no accommodation for sleeping, but an artist who could
rough it would, I think, find a good deal that he would like.  On
p. 226 is a sketch of the church and tower as seen from the
opposite side to that from which the sketch on p. 224 was taken.

The church seems to have been very much altered, if indeed the body
of it was not entirely rebuilt, in 1618--a date which is found on a
pillar inside the church.  On going up into the gallery at the west
end of the church, there is found a Nativity painted in fresco by a
local artist, one Agostino Duso of Roveredo, in the year 1727, and
better by a good deal than one would anticipate from the epoch and
habitat of the painter.  On the other side of the same gallery
there is a Death of the Virgin, also by the same painter, but not
so good.  On the left-hand side of the nave going towards the altar
there is a remarkable picture of the battle of Lepanto, signed
"Georgius Wilhelmus Groesner Constantiensis fecit A.D. 1649," and
with an inscription to the effect that it was painted for the
confraternity of the most holy Rosary, and by them set up "in this
church of St. Mary commonly called of Calancha."  The picture
displays very little respect for academic principles, but is full
of spirit and sensible painting.

Above this picture there hang two others--also very interesting,
from being examples of, as it were, the last groans of true art
while being stifled by academicism--or it may be the attempt at a
new birth, which was nevertheless doomed to extinction by
academicians while yet in its infancy.  Such pictures are to be
found all over Italy.  Sometimes, as in the case of the work of
Dedomenici, they have absolute merit--more commonly they have the
relative merit of showing that the painter was trying to look and
feel for himself, and a picture does much when it conveys this
impression.  It is a small still voice, which, however small, can
be heard through and above the roar of cant which tries to drown
it.  We want a book about the unknown Italian painters in out-of-
the-way Italian valleys during the times of the decadence of art.
There is ample material for one who has the time at his command.

We lunched at the house of the incumbent, a monk, who was very kind
to us.  We found him drying French marigold blossoms to colour his
risotto with during the winter.  He gave us some excellent wine,
and took us over the tower near the church.  Nothing can be more
lovely than the monk's garden.  If aesthetic people are ever going
to get tired of sun-flowers and lilies, let me suggest to them that
they will find a weary utterness in chicory and seed onions which
they should not overlook; I never felt chicory and seed onions till
I was in the monk's garden at S. Maria in Calanca.  All about the
terrace or artificial level ground on which the church is placed,
there are admirable bits for painting, and if there was only
accommodation so that one could get up as high as the alpi, I can
fancy few better places to stay at than S. Maria in Calanca.



CHAPTER XIX--The Mendrisiotto



We stayed a day or two at Bellinzona, and then went on over the
Monte Cenere to Lugano.  My first acquaintance with the Monte
Cenere was made some seven-and-thirty years ago when I was a small
boy.  I remember with what delight I found wild narcissuses growing
in a meadow upon the top of it, and was allowed to gather as many
as I liked.  It was not till some thirty years afterwards that I
again passed over the Monte Cenere in summer time, but I well
remembered the narcissus place, and wondered whether there would
still be any of them growing there.  Sure enough when we got to the
top, there they were as thick as cowslips in an English meadow.  At
Lugano, having half-an-hour to spare, we paid our respects to the
glorious frescoes by Bernardino Luini, and to the facade of the
duomo, and then went on to Mendrisio.

The neighbourhood of Mendrisio, or, as it is called, the
"Mendrisiotto," is a rich one.  Mendrisio itself should be the
headquarters; there is an excellent hotel there, the Hotel
Mendrisio, kept by Signora Pasta, which cannot be surpassed for
comfort and all that makes a hotel pleasant to stay at.  I never
saw a house where the arrangements were more perfect; even in the
hottest weather I found the rooms always cool and airy, and the
nights never oppressive.  Part of the secret of this may be that
Mendrisio lies higher than it appears to do, and the hotel, which
is situated on the slope of the hill, takes all the breeze there
is.  The lake of Lugano is about 950 feet above the sea.  The river
falls rapidly between Mendrisio and the lake, while the hotel is
high above the river.  I do not see, therefore, how the hotel can
be less than 1200 feet above the sea-line; but whatever height it
is, I never felt the heat oppressive, though on more than one
occasion I have stayed there for weeks together in July and August.

Mendrisio being situated on the railway between Lugano and Como,
both these places are within easy reach.  Milan is only a couple of
hours off, and Varese a three or four hours' carriage drive.  It
lies on the very last slopes of the Alps, so that whether the
visitor has a fancy for mountains or for the smiling beauty of the
colline, he may be equally gratified.  There are excellent roads in
every direction, and none of them can be taken without its leading
to some new feature of interest; I do not think any English family
will regret spending a fortnight at this charming place.

Most visitors to Mendrisio, however, make it a place of passage
only, en route for the celebrated hotel on the Monte Generoso, kept
by Dr. Pasta, Signora Pasta's brother-in-law.  The Monte Generoso
is very fine; I know few places of which I am fonder; whether one
looks down at evening upon the lake of Lugano thousands of feet
below, and then lets the eye wander upward again and rest upon the
ghastly pallor of Monte Rosa, or whether one takes the path to the
Colma and saunters over green slopes carpeted with wild-flowers,
and studded with the gentlest cattle, all is equally delightful.
What a sense of vastness and freedom is there on the broad heaving
slopes of these subalpine spurs.  They are just high enough without
being too high.  The South Downs are very good, and by making
believe very much I have sometimes been half able to fancy when
upon them that I might be on the Monte Generoso, but they are only
good as a quartet is good if one cannot get a symphony.

I think there are more wild-flowers upon the Monte Generoso than
upon any other that I know, and among them numbers of beautiful
wild narcissuses, as on the Monte Cenere.  At the top of the Monte
Generoso, among the rocks that jut out from the herbage, there
grows--unless it has been all uprooted--the large yellow auricula,
and this I own to being my favourite mountain wild-flower.  It is
the only flower which, I think, fairly beats cowslips.  Here too I
heard, or thought I heard, the song of that most beautiful of all
bird songsters, the passero solitario, or solitary sparrow-if it is
a sparrow, which I should doubt.

Nobody knows what a bird can do in the way of song until he has
heard a passero solitario.  I think they still have one at the
Hotel Mendrisio, but am not sure.  I heard one there once, and can
only say that I shall ever remember it as the most beautiful
warbling that I ever heard come out of the throat of bird.  All
other bird singing is loud, vulgar, and unsympathetic in
comparison.  The bird itself is about as big as a starling, and is
of a dull blue colour.  It is easily tamed, and becomes very much
attached to its master and mistress, but it is apt to die in
confinement before very long.  It fights all others of its own
species; it is now a rare bird, and is doomed, I fear, ere long to
extinction, to the regret of all who have had the pleasure of its
acquaintance.  The Italians are very fond of them, and Professor
Vela told me they will even act like a house dog and set up a cry
if any strangers come.  The one I saw flew instantly at my finger
when I put it near its cage, but I was not sure whether it did so
in anger or play.  I thought it liked being listened to, and as
long as it chose to sing I was delighted to stay, whereas as a
general rule I want singing birds to leave off. {32}

People say the nightingale's song is so beautiful; I am ashamed to
own it, but I do not like it.  It does not use the diatonic scale.
A bird should either make no attempt to sing in tune, or it should
succeed in doing so.  Larks are Wordsworth, and as for canaries, I
would almost sooner hear a pig having its nose ringed, or the
grinding of an axe.  Cuckoos are all right; they sing in tune.
Rooks are lovely; they do not pretend to tune.  Seagulls again, and
the plaintive creatures that pity themselves on moorlands, as the
plover and the curlew, or the birds that lift up their voices and
cry at eventide when there is an eager air blowing upon the
mountains and the last yellow in the sky is fading--I have no words
with which to praise the music of these people.  Or listen to the
chuckling of a string of soft young ducks, as they glide single-
file beside a ditch under a hedgerow, so close together that they
look like some long brown serpent, and say what sound can be more
seductive.

Many years ago I remember thinking that the birds in New Zealand
approached the diatonic scale more nearly than European birds do.
There was one bird, I think it was the New Zealand thrush, but am
not sure, which used to sing thus:-

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

I was always wanting it to go on:-

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

But it never got beyond the first four bars.  Then there was
another which I noticed the first day I landed, more than twenty
years since, and whose song descended by very nearly perfect
semitones as follows:-

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

but the semitones are here and there in this bird's song a trifle
out of tune, whereas in that of the other there was no departure
from the diatonic scale.  Be this, however, as it may, none of
these please me so much as the passero solitario.

The only mammals that I can call to mind at this moment as showing
any even apparent approach to an appreciation of the diatonic scale
are the elephant and the rhinoceros.  The braying (or whatever is
the technical term for it) of an elephant comprises a pretty
accurate third, and is of a rich mellow tone with a good deal of
brass in it.  The rhinoceros grunts a good fourth, beginning, we
will say, on C, and dropping correctly on to the G below.

The Monte Generoso, then, is a good place to stay a few days at,
but one soon comes to an end of it.  The top of a mountain is like
an island in the air, one is cooped up upon it unless one descends;
in the case of the Monte Generoso there is the view of the lake of
Lugano, the walk to the Colma, the walk along the crest of the hill
by the farm, and the view over Lombardy, and that is all.  If one
goes far down one is haunted by the recollection that when one is
tired in the evening one will have all one's climbing to do, and,
beautiful as the upper parts of the Monte Generoso are, there is
little for a painter there except to study cattle, goats, and
clouds.  I recommend a traveller, therefore, by all means to spend
a day or two at the hotel on the Monte Generoso, but to make his
longer sojourn down below at Mendrisio, the walks and excursions
from which are endless, and all of them beautiful.

Among the best of these is the ascent of the Monte Bisbino, which
can be easily made in a day from Mendrisio; I found no difficulty
in doing it on foot all the way there and back a few years ago, but
I now prefer to take a trap as far as Sagno, and do the rest of the
journey on foot, returning to the trap in the evening.  Every one
who knows North Italy knows the Monte Bisbino.  It is a high
pyramidal mountain with what seems a little white chapel on the top
that glistens like a star when the sun is full upon it.  From Como
it is seen most plainly, but it is distinguishable over a very
large part of Lombardy when the sun is right; it is frequently
ascended from Como and Cernobbio, but I believe the easiest way of
getting up it is to start from Mendrisio with a trap as far as
Sagno.

A mile and a half or so after leaving Mendrisio there is a village
called Castello on the left.  Here, a little off the road on the
right hand, there is the small church of S. Cristoforo, of great
antiquity, containing the remains of some early frescoes, I should
think of the thirteenth or early part of the fourteenth century.

As usual, people have scratched their names on the frescoes.  We
found one name "Battista," with the date "1485" against it.  It is
a mistake to hold that the English scribble their names about more
than other people.  The Italians like doing this just as well as we
do.  Let the reader go to Varallo, for example, and note the names
scratched up from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the
present day, on the walls of the chapel containing the Crucifixion.
Indeed, the Italians seem to have begun the habit long before we
did, for we very rarely find names scratched on English buildings
so long ago as the fifteenth century, whereas in Italy they are
common.  The earliest I can call to mind in England at this moment
(of course, excepting the names written in the Beauchamp Tower) is
on the church porch at Harlington, where there is a name cut and
dated in one of the early years of the seventeenth century.  I
never even in Italy saw a name scratched on a wall with an earlier
date than 1480.

Why is it, I wonder, that these little bits of soul-fossil as it
were, touch us so much when we come across them?  A fossil does not
touch us--while a fly in amber does.  Why should a fly in amber
interest us and give us a slightly solemn feeling for a moment,
when the fossil of a megatherium bores us?  I give it up; but few
of us can see the lightest trifle scratched off casually and idly
long ago, without liking it better than almost any great thing of
the same, or ever so much earlier date, done with purpose and
intention that it should remain.  So when we left S. Cristoforo it
was not the old church, nor the frescoes, but the name of the idle
fellow who had scratched his name "Battista . . . 1485," that we
carried away with us.  A little bit of old world life and entire
want of earnestness, preserved as though it were a smile in amber.

In the Val Sesia, several years ago, I bought some tobacco that was
wrapped up for me in a yellow old MS. which I in due course
examined.  It was dated 1797, and was a leaf from the book in which
a tanner used to enter the skins which his customers brought him to
be tanned.

"October 24," he writes, "I received from Signora Silvestre, called
the widow, the skin of a goat branded in the neck.--(I am not to
give it up unless they give me proof that she is the rightful
owner.)  Mem.  I delivered it to Mr. Peter Job (Signor Pietro
Giobbe).

"October 27.--I receive two small skins of a goat, very thin and
branded in the neck, from Giuseppe Gianote of Campertogno.

"October 29.--I receive three skins of a chamois from Signor
Antonio Cinere of Alagna, branded in the neck."  Then there is a
subsequent entry written small.  "I receive also a little gray
marmot's skin weighing thirty ounces."

I am sorry I did not get a sheet with the tanner's name.  I am sure
he was an excellent person, and might have been trusted with any
number of skins, branded or unbranded.  It is nearly a hundred
years ago since that little gray marmot's skin was tanned in the
Val Sesia; but the wretch will not lie quiet in his grave; he
walks, and has haunted me once a month or so any time this ten
years past.  I will see if I cannot lay him by prevailing on him to
haunt some one or other of my readers.



CHAPTER XX--Sanctuary on Monte Bisbino



But to return to S. Cristoforo.  In the Middle Ages there was a
certain duke who held this part of the country and was notorious
for his exactions.  One Christmas eve when he and his whole
household had assembled to their devotions, the people rose up
against them and murdered them inside the church.  After this
tragedy, the church was desecrated, though monuments have been put
up on the outside walls even in recent years.  There is a fine bit
of early religious sculpture over the door, and the traces of a
fresco of Christ walking upon the water, also very early.

Returning to the road by a path of a couple of hundred yards, we
descended to cross the river, and then ascended again to Morbio
Superiore.  The view from the piazza in front of the church is very
fine, extending over the whole Mendrisiotto, and reaching as far as
Varese and the Lago Maggiore.  Below is Morbio Inferiore, a place
of singular beauty.  A couple of Italian friends were with us, one
of them Signor Spartaco Vela, son of Professor Vela.  He called us
into the church and showed us a beautiful altar-piece--a Madonna
with saints on either side, apparently moved from some earlier
church, and, as we all agreed, a very fine work, though we could
form no idea who the artist was.

From Morbio Superiore the ascent is steep, and it will take half-
an-hour or more to reach the level bit of road close to Sagno.
This, again, commands the most exquisite views, especially over
Como, through the trunks of the trees.  Then comes Sagno itself,
the last village of the Canton Ticino and close to the Italian
frontier.  There is no inn with sleeping accommodation here, but if
there was, Sagno would be a very good place to stay at.  They say
that some of its inhabitants sometimes smuggle a pound or two of
tobacco across the Italian frontier, hiding it in the fern close to
the boundary, and whisking it over the line on a dark night, but I
know not what truth there is in the allegation; the people struck
me as being above the average in respect of good looks and good
breeding--and the average in those parts is a very high one.

Immediately behind Sagno the old paved pilgrim's road begins to
ascend rapidly.  We followed it, and in half-an-hour reached the
stone marking the Italian boundary; then comes some level walking,
and then on turning a corner the monastery at the top of the Monte
Bisbino is caught sight of.  It still looks small, but one can now
see what an important building it really is, and how different from
the mere chapel which it appears to be when seen from a distance.
The sketch which I give is taken from about a mile further on than
the place where the summit is first seen.

Here some men joined us who lived in a hut a few hundred feet from
the top of the mountain and looked after the cattle there during
the summer.  It is at their alpe that the last water can be
obtained, so we resolved to stay there and eat the provisions we
had brought with us.  For the benefit of travellers, I should say
they will find the water by opening the door of a kind of outhouse;
this covers the water and prevents the cows from dirtying it.
There will be a wooden bowl floating on the top.  The water outside
is not drinkable, but that in the outhouse is excellent.

The men were very good to us; they knew me, having seen me pass and
watched me sketching in other years.  It had unfortunately now
begun to rain, so we were glad of shelter:  they threw faggots on
the fire and soon kindled a blaze; when these died down and it was
seen that the sparks clung to the kettle and smouldered on it, they
said that it would rain much, and they were right.  It poured
during the hour we spent in dining, after which it only got a
little better; we thanked them, and went up five or six hundred
feet till the monastery at length loomed out suddenly upon us from
the mist, when we were close to it but not before.

There is a restaurant at the top which is open for a few days
before and after a festa, but generally closed; it was open now, so
we went in to dry ourselves.  We found rather a roughish lot
assembled, and imagined the smuggling element to preponderate over
the religious, but nothing could be better than the way in which
they treated us.  There was one gentleman, however, who was no
smuggler, but who had lived many years in London and had now
settled down at Rovenna, just below on the lake of Como.  He had
taken a room here and furnished it for the sake of the shooting.
He spoke perfect English, and would have none but English things
about him.  He had Cockle's antibilious pills, and the last numbers
of the "Illustrated London News" and "Morning Chronicle;" his bath
and bath-towels were English, and there was a box of Huntley &
Palmer's biscuits on his dressing-table.  He was delighted to see
some Englishmen, and showed us everything that was to be seen--
among the rest the birds he kept in cages to lure those that he
intended to shoot.  He also took us behind the church, and there we
found a very beautiful marble statue of the Madonna and child, an
admirable work, with painted eyes and the dress gilded and figured.
What an extraordinary number of fine or, at the least, interesting
things one finds in Italy which no one knows anything about.  In
one day, poking about at random, we had seen some early frescoes at
S. Cristoforo, an excellent work at Morbio, and here was another
fine thing sprung upon us.  It is not safe ever to pass a church in
Italy without exploring it carefully.  The church may be new and
for the most part full of nothing but what is odious, but there is
no knowing what fragment of earlier work one may not find
preserved.

Signor Barelli, for this was our friend's name, now gave us some
prints of the sanctuary, one of which I reproduce on p. 240.
Behind the church there is a level piece of ground with a table and
stone seats round it.  The view from here in fine weather is very
striking.  As it was, however, it was perhaps hardly less fine than
in clear weather, for the clouds had now raised themselves a
little, though very little, above the sanctuary, but here and there
lay all ragged down below us, and cast beautiful reflected lights
upon the lake and town of Como.

Above, the heavens were still black and lowering.  Over against us
was the Monte Generoso, very sombre, and scarred with snow-white
torrents; below, the dull, sullen slopes of the Monte Bisbino, and
the lake of Como; further on, the Mendrisiotto and the blue-black
plains of Lombardy.  I have been at the top of the Monte Bisbino
several times, but never was more impressed with it.  At all times,
however, it is a marvellous place.

Coming down we kept the ridge of the hill instead of taking the
path by which we ascended.  Beautiful views of the monastery are
thus obtained.  The flowers in spring must be very varied; and we
still found two or three large kinds of gentians and any number of
cyclamens.  Presently Vela dug up a fern root of the common
Polypodium vulgare; he scraped it with his knife and gave us some
to eat.  It is not at all bad, and tastes very much like liquorice.
Then we came upon the little chapel of S. Nicolao.  I do not know
whether there is anything good inside or no.  Then we reached Sagno
and returned to Mendrisio; as we re-crossed the stream between
Morbio Superiore and Castello we found it had become a raging
torrent, capable of any villainy.



CHAPTER XXI--A Day at the Cantine



Next day we went to breakfast with Professor Vela, the father of my
friend Spartaco, at Ligornetto.  After we had admired the many fine
works which Professor Vela's studio contains, it was agreed that we
should take a walk by S. Agata, and spend the afternoon at the
cantine, or cellars where the wine is kept.  Spartaco had two
painter friends staying with him whom I already knew, and a young
lady, his cousin; so we all went together across the meadows.  I
think we started about one o'clock, and it was some three or four
by the time we got to the cantine, for we kept stopping continually
to drink wine.  The two painter visitors had a fine comic vein, and
enlivened us continually with bits of stage business which were
sometimes uncommonly droll.  We were laughing incessantly, but
carried very little away with us except that the drier one of the
two, who was also unfortunately deaf, threw himself into a
rhapsodical attitude with his middle finger against his cheek, and
his eyes upturned to heaven, but to make sure that his finger
should stick to his cheek he just wetted the end of it against his
tongue first.  He did this with unruffled gravity, and as if it
were the only thing to do under the circumstances.

The young lady who was with us all the time enjoyed everything just
as much as we did; once, indeed, she thought they were going a
little too far--not as among themselves--but considering that there
were a couple of earnest-minded Englishmen with them:  the pair had
begun a short performance which certainly did look as if it might
develop into something a little hazardous.  "Minga far tutto," she
exclaimed rather promptly--"Don't do all."  So what the rest would
have been we shall never know.

Then we came to some precipices, whereon it at once occurred to the
two comedians that they would commit suicide.  The pathetic way in
which they shared the contents of their pockets among us, and came
back more than once to give little additional parting messages
which occurred to them just as they were about to take the fatal
plunge, was irresistibly comic, and was the more remarkable for the
spontaneousness of the whole thing and the admirable way in which
the pair played into one another's hands.  The deaf one even played
his deafness, making it worse than it was so as to heighten the
comedy.  By and by we came to a stile which they pretended to have
a delicacy in crossing, but the lady helped them over.  We
concluded that if these young men were average specimens of the
Italian student--and I should say they were--the Italian character
has an enormous fund of pure love of fun--not of mischievous fun,
but of the very best kind of playful humour, such as I have never
seen elsewhere except among Englishmen.

Several times we stopped and had a bottle of wine at one place or
another, till at last we came to a beautiful shady place looking
down towards the lake of Lugano where we were to rest for half-an-
hour or so.  There was a cantina here, so of course we had more
wine.  In that air, and with the walk and incessant state of
laughter in which we were being kept, we might drink ad libitum,
and the lady did not refuse a second small bicchiere.  On this our
deaf friend assumed an anxious, fatherly air.  He said nothing, but
put his eyeglass in his eye, and looked first at the lady's glass
and then at the lady with an expression at once kind, pitying, and
pained; he looked backwards and forwards from the glass to the lady
more than once, and then made as though he were going to quit a
scene in which it was plain he could be of no further use, throwing
up his hands and eyes like the old steward in Hogarth's "Marriage a
la mode."  They never seemed to tire, and every fresh incident at
once suggested its appropriate treatment.  Jones asked them whether
they thought they could mimic me.  "Oh dear, yes," was the answer;
"we have mimicked him hundreds of times," and they at once began.

At last we reached Professor Vela's own cantina, and here we were
to have our final bottle.  There were several other cantine hard
by, and other parties that had come like ourselves to take a walk
and get some wine.  The people bring their evening meal with them
up to the cantina and then sit on the wall outside, or go to a
rough table and eat it.  Instead, in fact, of bringing their wine
to their dinner, they take their dinner to their wine.  There was
one very fat old gentleman who had got the corner of the wall to
sit on, and was smoking a cigar with his coat off.  He comes, I am
told, every day at about three during the summer months, and sits
on the wall till seven, when he goes home to bed, rising at about
four o'clock next morning.  He seemed exceedingly good-tempered and
happy.  Another family who owned a cantina adjoining Professor
Vela's, had brought their evening meal with them, and insisted on
giving us a quantity of excellent river cray-fish which looked like
little lobsters.  I may be wrong, but I thought this family looked
at us once or twice as though they thought we were seeing a little
more of the Italians absolutely chez eux than strangers ought to be
allowed to see.  We can only say we liked all we saw so much that
we would fain see it again, and were left with the impression that
we were among the nicest and most loveable people in the world.

I have said that the cantine are the cellars where the people keep
their wine.  They are caves hollowed out into the side of the
mountain, and it is only certain localities that are suitable for
the purpose.  The cantine, therefore, of any village will be all
together.  The cantine of Mendrisio, for example, can be seen from
the railroad, all in a row, a little before one gets into the town;
they form a place of reunion where the village or town unites to
unbend itself on feste or after business hours.  I do not know
exactly how they manage it, but from the innermost chamber of each
cantina they run a small gallery as far as they can into the
mountain, and from this gallery, which may be a foot square, there
issues a strong current of what, in summer, is icy cold air, while
in winter it feels quite warm.  I could understand the equableness
of the temperature of the mountain at some yards from the surface
of the ground, causing the cantina to feel cool in summer and warm
in winter, but I was not prepared for the strength and iciness of
the cold current that came from the gallery.  I had not been in the
innermost cantina two minutes before I felt thoroughly chilled and
in want of a greatcoat.

Having been shown the cantine, we took some of the little cups
which are kept inside and began to drink.  These little cups are
common crockery, but at the bottom there is written, Viva Bacco,
Viva l'Italia, Viva la Gioia, Viva Venere, or other such matter;
they are to be had in every crockery shop throughout the
Mendrisiotto, and are very pretty.  We drank out of them, and ate
the cray-fish which had been given us.  Then seeing that it was
getting late, we returned together to Besazio, and there parted,
they descending to Ligornetto and we to Mendrisio, after a day
which I should be glad to think would be as long and pleasantly
remembered by our Italian friends as it will assuredly be by
ourselves.

The excursions in the neighbourhood of Mendrisio are endless.  The
walk, for example, to S. Agata and thence to Meride is exquisite.
S. Agata itself is perfect, and commands a splendid view.  Then
there is the little chapel of S. Nicolao on a ledge of the red
precipice.  The walk to this by the village of Sommazzo is as good
as anything can be, and the quiet terrace leading to the church
door will not be forgotten by those who have seen it.  Sommazzo
itself from the other side of the valley comes as on p. 247.  There
is Cragno, again, on the Monte Generoso, or Riva with its series of
pictures in tempera by the brothers Giulio Cesare and Camillo
Procaccini, men who, had they lived before the days of academics,
might have done as well as any, except the few whom no academy can
mould, but who, as it was, were carried away by fluency and
facility.  It is useless, however, to specify.  There is not one of
the many villages which can be seen from any rising ground in the
neighbourhood, but what contains something that is picturesque and
interesting, while the coup d'oeil, as a whole, is always equally
striking, whether one is on the plain and looks towards the
mountains, or looks from the mountains to the plains.



CHAPTER XXII--Sacro Monte, Varese



From Mendrisio we took a trap across the country to Varese, passing
through Stabbio, where there are some baths that are much
frequented by Italians in the summer.  The road is a pleasant one,
but does not go through any specially remarkable places.
Travellers taking this road had better leave every cigarette behind
them on which they do not want to pay duty, as the custom-house
official at the frontier takes a strict view of what is due to his
employers.  I had, perhaps, a couple of ounces of tobacco in my
pouch, but was made to pay duty on it, and the searching of our
small amount of luggage was little less than inquisitorial.

From Varese we went without stopping to the Sacro Monte, four or
five miles beyond, and several hundred feet higher than the town
itself.  Close to the first chapel, and just below the arch through
which the more sacred part of the mountain is entered upon, there
is an excellent hotel called the Hotel Riposo, kept by Signor
Piotti; it is very comfortable, and not at all too hot even in the
dog-days; it commands magnificent views, and makes very good
headquarters.

Here we rested and watched the pilgrims going up and down.  They
seemed very good-humoured and merry.  Then we looked through the
grating of the first chapel inside the arch, and found it to
contain a representation of the Annunciation.  The Virgin had a
real washing-stand, with a basin and jug, and a piece of real soap.
Her slippers were disposed neatly under the bed, so also were her
shoes, and, if I remember rightly, there was everything else that
Messrs. Heal & Co. would send for the furnishing of a lady's
bedroom.

I have already said perhaps too much about the realism of these
groups of painted statuary, but will venture a word or two more
which may help the reader to understand the matter better as it
appears to Catholics themselves.  The object is to bring the scene
as vividly as possible before people who have not had the
opportunity of being able to realise it to themselves through
travel or general cultivation of the imaginative faculties.  How
can an Italian peasant realise to himself the notion of the
Annunciation so well as by seeing such a chapel as that at Varese?
Common sense says, either tell the peasant nothing about the
Annunciation, or put every facility in his way by the help of which
he will be able to conceive the idea with some definiteness.

We stuff the dead bodies of birds and animals which we think it
worth while to put into our museums.  We put them in the most life-
like attitudes we can, with bits of grass and bush, and painted
landscape behind them:  by doing this we give people who have never
seen the actual animals, a more vivid idea concerning them than we
know how to give by any other means.  We have not room in the
British Museum to give a loose rein to realism in the matter of
accessories, but each bird or animal in the collection is so
stuffed as to make it look as much alive as the stuffer can make
it--even to the insertion of glass eyes.  We think it well that our
people should have an opportunity of realising these birds and
beasts to themselves, but we are shocked at the notion of giving
them a similar aid to the realisation of events which, as we say,
concern them more nearly than any others, in the history of the
world.  A stuffed rabbit or blackbird is a good thing.  A stuffed
Charge of Balaclava again is quite legitimate; but a stuffed
Nativity is, according to Protestant notions, offensive.

Over and above the desire to help the masses to realise the events
in Christ's life more vividly, something is doubtless due to the
wish to attract people by giving them what they like.  This is both
natural and legitimate.  Our own rectors find the prettiest psalm
and hymn tunes they can for the use of their congregations, and
take much pains generally to beautify their churches.  Why should
not the Church of Rome make herself attractive also?  If she knows
better how to do this than Protestant churches do, small blame to
her for that.  For the people delight in these graven images.
Listen to the hushed "oh bel!" which falls from them as they peep
through grating after grating; and the more tawdry a chapel is, the
better, as a general rule, they are contented.  They like them as
our own people like Madame Tussaud's.  Granted that they come to
worship the images; they do; they hardly attempt to conceal it.
The writer of the authorised handbook to the Sacro Monte at
Locarno, for example, speaks of "the solemn coronation of the image
that is there revered"--"la solenne coronazione del simulacro ivi
venerato" (p. 7).  But how, pray, can we avoid worshipping images?
or loving images?  The actual living form of Christ on earth was
still not Christ, it was but the image under which His disciples
saw Him; nor can we see more of any of those we love than a certain
more versatile and warmer presentment of them than an artist can
counterfeit.  The ultimate "them" we see not.

How far these chapels have done all that their founders expected of
them is another matter.  They have undoubtedly strengthened the
hands of the Church in their immediate neighbourhood, and they have
given an incalculable amount of pleasure, but I think that in the
Middle Ages people expected of art more than art can do.  They
hoped a fine work of art would exercise a deep and permanent effect
upon the lives of those who lived near it.  Doubtless it does have
some effect--enough to make it worth while to encourage such works,
but nevertheless the effect is, I imagine, very transient.  The
only thing that can produce a deep and permanently good influence
upon a man's character is to have been begotten of good ancestors
for many generations--or at any rate to have reverted to a good
ancestor--and to live among nice people.

The chapels themselves at Varese, apart from their contents, are
very beautiful.  They come as fresh one after the other as a set of
variations by Handel.  Each one of them is a little architectural
gem, while the figures they contain are sometimes very good, though
on the whole not equal to those at Varallo.  The subjects are the
mysteries of joy, namely, the Annunciation (immediately after the
first great arch is passed), the Salutation of Mary by Elizabeth,
the Nativity, the Presentation, and the Disputing with the Doctors.
Then there is a second arch, after which come the mysteries of
grief--the Agony in the Garden, the Flagellation, the Crowning with
Thorns, the Ascent to Calvary, and the Crucifixion.  Passing
through a third arch, we come to the mysteries of glory--the
Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Ghost, and the
Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  The Dispute in the Temple is the
chapel which left the deepest impression upon us.  Here the various
attitudes and expressions of the doctors are admirably rendered.
There is one man, I think he must have been a broad churchman and
have taken in the "Spectator"; his arms are folded, and he is
smiling a little, with his head on one side.  He is not prepared,
he seems to say, to deny that there is a certain element of truth
in what this young person has been saying, but it is very shallow,
and in all essential points has been refuted over and over again;
he has seen these things come and go so often, &c.  But all the
doctors are good.  The Christ is weak, and so are the Joseph and
Mary in the background; in fact, throughout the whole series of
chapels the wicked or worldly and indifferent people are well done,
while the saints are a feeble folk:  the sculptor evidently neither
understood them nor liked them, and could never get beyond
silliness; but the artist who has lately done them up has made them
still weaker and sillier by giving them all pink noses.

Shortly after the sixth chapel has been passed the road turns a
corner, and the town on the hill (see preceding page) comes into
full view.  This is a singularly beautiful spot.  The chapels are
worth coming a long way to see, but this view of the town is better
still:  we generally like any building that is on the top of a
hill; it is an instinct in our nature to do so; it is a remnant of
the same instinct which makes sheep like to camp at the top of a
hill; it gives a remote sense of security and vantage-ground
against an enemy.  The Italians seem hardly able to look at a high
place without longing to put something on the top of it, and they
have seldom done so with better effect than in the case of the
Sacro Monte at Varese.  From the moment of its bursting upon one on
turning the corner near the seventh, or Flagellation chapel, one
cannot keep one's eyes off it, and one fancies, as with S. Michele,
that it comes better and better with every step one takes; near the
top it composes, as on p. 254, but without colour nothing can give
an adequate notion of its extreme beauty.  Once at the top the
interest centres in the higgledy-pigglediness of the houses, the
gay colours of the booths where strings of beads and other
religious knick-knacks are sold, the glorious panorama, and in the
inn where one can dine very well, and I should imagine find good
sleeping accommodation.  The view from the balcony outside the
dining-room is wonderful, and above is a sketch from the terrace
just in front of the church.

There is here no single building comparable to the sanctuary of
Sammichele, nor is there any trace of that beautiful Lombard work
which makes so much impression upon one in the church on the Monte
Pirchiriano; the architecture is late, and barocco, not to say
rococo, reigns everywhere; nevertheless the effect of the church is
good.  The visitor should get the sacristan to show him a very fine
pagliotto or altar cloth of raised embroidery, worked in the
thirteenth century.  He will also do well to walk some little
distance behind the town on the way to S. Maria dei fiori (St. Mary
of the flowers) and look down upon the town and Lombardy.  I do not
think he need go much higher than this, unless he has a fancy for
climbing.

The Sacro Monte is a kind of ecclesiastical Rosherville Gardens,
eminently the place to spend a happy day.  We happened by good luck
to be there during one of the great feste of the year, and saw I am
afraid to say how many thousands of pilgrims go up and down.  They
were admirably behaved, and not one of them tipsy.  There was an
old English gentleman at the Hotel Riposo who told us that there
had been another such festa not many weeks previously, and that he
had seen one drunken man there--an Englishman--who kept abusing all
he saw and crying out, "Manchester's the place for me."

The processions were best at the last part of the ascent; there
were pilgrims, all decked out with coloured feathers, and priests
and banners and music and crimson and gold and white and glittering
brass against the cloudless blue sky.  The old priest sat at his
open window to receive the offerings of the devout as they passed;
but he did not seem to get more than a few bambini modelled in wax.
Perhaps he was used to it.  And the band played the barocco music
on the barocco little piazza and we were all barocco together.  It
was as though the clergyman at Ladywell had given out that, instead
of having service usual, the congregation would go in procession to
the Crystal Palace with all their traps, and that the band had been
practising "Wait till the clouds roll by" for some time, and on
Sunday as a great treat they should have it.

The Pope has issued an order saying he will not have masses written
like operas.  It is no use.  The Pope can do much, but he will not
be able to get contrapuntal music into Varese.  He will not be able
to get anything more solemn than "La Fille de Madame Angot" into
Varese.  As for fugues -!  I would as soon take an English bishop
to the Surrey pantomime as to the Sacro Monte on a festa.

Then the pilgrims went into the shadow of a great rock behind the
sanctuary, spread themselves out over the grass and dined.



CHAPTER XXIII--Angera and Arona



From the Hotel Riposo we drove to Angera, on the Lago Maggiore.
There are many interesting things to see on the way.  Close to
Velate, for example, there is the magnificent bit of ruin which is
so striking a feature as seen from the Sacro Monte.  A little
further on, at Luinate, there is a fine old Lombard campanile and
some conventual buildings which are worth sparing five minutes or
so to see.  The views hereabouts over the lake of Varese and
towards Monte Rosa are exceedingly fine.  The driver should be told
to go a mile or so out of his direct route in order to pass
Oltrona, near Voltrone.  Here there was a monastery which must once
have been an important one.  Little of old work remains, except a
very beautiful cloister of the thirteenth or fourteenth century,
which should not be missed.  It measures about twenty-one paces
each way:  the north side has round arches made of brick, the
arches are supported by small columns about six inches through,
each of which has a different capital; the middle is now garden
ground.  A few miles nearer Angera there is Brebbia, the church of
which is an excellent specimen of early Lombard work.  We thought
we saw the traditions of Cyclopean masonry in the occasional
irregularity of the string-courses.  The stones near the bottom of
the wall are very massive, and the west wall is not, if I remember
rightly, bonded into the north and south walls, but these walls are
only built up against it as at Giornico.  The door on the south
side is simple, but remarkably beautiful.  It looks almost as if it
might belong to some early Norman church in England, and the stones
have acquired a most exquisite warm colour with age.  At Ispra
there is a campanile which Mr. Ruskin would probably disapprove of,
but which we thought lovely.  A few kilometres further on a corner
is turned, and the splendid castle of Angera is caught sight of.

Before going up to the castle we stayed at the inn on the left
immediately on entering the town, to dine.  They gave us a very
good dinner, and the garden was a delightful place to dine in.
There is a kind of red champagne made hereabouts which is very
good; the figs were ripe, and we could gather them for ourselves
and eat ad libitum.  There were two tame sparrows hopping
continually about us; they pretended to make a little fuss about
allowing themselves to be caught, but they evidently did not mind
it.  I dropped a bit of bread and was stooping to pick it up; one
of them on seeing me move made for it and carried it off at once;
the action was exactly that of one who was saying, "I don't
particularly want it myself, but I'm not going to let you have it."
Presently some cacciatori came with a poodle-dog.  They explained
to us that though the poodle was "a truly hunting dog," he would
not touch the sparrows, which to do him justice he did not.  There
was a tame jay also, like the sparrows going about loose, but, like
them, aware when he was well off.

After dinner we went up to the castle, which I have now visited off
and on for many years, and like always better and better each time
I go there.  I know no place comparable to it in its own way.  I
know no place so pathetic, and yet so impressive, in its decay.  It
is not a ruin--all ruins are frauds--it is only decayed.  It is a
kind of Stokesay or Ightham Mote, better preserved than the first,
and less furnished than the second, but on a grander scale than
either, and set in incomparably finer surroundings.  The path
towards it passes the church, which has been spoiled.  Outside this
there are parts of old Roman columns from some temple, stuck in the
ground; inside are two statues called St. Peter and St. Paul, but
evidently effigies of some magistrates in the Roman times.  If the
traveller likes to continue the road past the church for three-
quarters of a mile or so, he will get a fine view of the castle,
and if he goes up to the little chapel of S. Quirico on the top of
the hill on his right hand, he will look down upon it and upon
Arona.  We will suppose, however, that he goes straight for the
castle itself; every moment as he approaches it, it will seem finer
and finer; presently he will turn into a vineyard on his left, and
at once begin to climb.

Passing under the old gateway--with its portcullis still ready to
be dropped, if need be, and with the iron plates that sheathe it
pierced with bullets--as at S. Michele, the visitor enters at once
upon a terrace from which the two foregoing illustrations were
taken.  I know nothing like this terrace.  On a summer's afternoon
and evening it is fully shaded, the sun being behind the castle.
The lake and town below are still in sunlight.  This, I think, is
about the best time to see the castle--say from six to eight on a
July evening, or at any hour on a gray day.

Count Borromeo, to whom the castle belongs, allows it to be shown,
and visitors are numerous.  There is very little furniture inside
the rooms, and the little there is is decaying; the walls are
covered with pictures, mostly copies, and none of them of any great
merit, but the rooms themselves are lovely.  Here is a sketch of
the one in which San Carlo Borromeo was born, but the one on the
floor beneath is better still.  The whole of this part was built
about the year 1350, and inside, where the weather has not reached,
the stones are as sharp as if they had been cut yesterday.  It was
in the great Sala of this castle that the rising against the
Austrians in 1848 was planned; then there is the Sala di Giustizia,
a fine room, with the remains of frescoes; the roof and the tower
should also certainly be visited.  All is solid and real, yet it is
like an Italian opera in actual life.  Lastly, there is the
kitchen, where the wheel still remains in which a turnspit dog used
to be put to turn it and roast the meat; but this room is not shown
to strangers.

The inner court of the castle is as beautiful as the outer one.
Through the open door one catches glimpses of the terrace, and of
the lake beyond it.  I know Ightham, Hever, and Stokesay, both
inside and out, and I know the outside of Leeds; these are all of
them exquisitely beautiful, but neither they nor any other such
place that I have ever seen please me as much as the castle of
Angera.

We stayed talking to my old friend Signor Signorelli, the custode
of the castle, and his family, and sketching upon the terrace until
Tonio came to tell us that his boat was at the quay waiting for us.
Tonio is now about fourteen years old, but was only four when I
first had the pleasure of making his acquaintance.  He is son to
Giovanni, or as he is more commonly called, Giovannino, a boatman
of Arona.  The boy is deservedly a great favourite, and is now a
padrone with a boat of his own, from which he can get a good
living.

He pulled us across the warm and sleepy lake, so far the most
beautiful of all even the Italian lakes; as we neared Arona, and
the wall that runs along the lake became more plain, I could not
help thinking of what Giovanni had told me about it some years
before, when Tonio was lying curled up, a little mite of an object,
in the bottom of the boat.  He was extolling a certain family of
peasants who live near the castle of Angera, as being models of
everything a family ought to be.  "There," he said, "the children
do not speak at meal-times, the polenta is put upon the table, and
each takes exactly what is given him, even though one of the
children thinks another has got a larger helping than he has, he
will eat his piece in silence.  My children are not like that; if
Marietta thinks Irene has a bigger piece than she has, she will
leave the room and go to the wall."

"What," I asked, "does she go to the wall for?"

"Oh! to cry; all the children go to the wall to cry."

I thought of Hezekiah.  The wall is the crying place, playing,
lounging place, and a great deal more, of all the houses in its
vicinity.  It is the common drawing-room during the summer months;
if the weather is too sultry, a boatman will leave his bed and
finish the night on his back upon its broad coping; we who live in
a colder climate can hardly understand how great a blank in the
existence of these people the destruction of the wall would be.

We soon reached Arona, and in a few minutes were in that kind and
hospitable house the Hotel d'Italia, than which no better hotel is
to be found in Italy.

Arona is cooler than Angera.  The proverb says, "He who would know
the pains of the infernal regions, could go to Angera in the summer
and to Arona in the winter."  The neighbourhood is exquisite.
Unless during the extreme heat of summer, it is the best place to
stay at on the Lago Maggiore.  The Monte Motterone is within the
compass of a single day's excursion; there is Orta, also, and
Varallo easily accessible, and any number of drives and nearer
excursions whether by boat or carriage.

One day we made Tonio take us to Castelletto near Sesto Calende, to
hear the bells.  They ring the bells very beautifully at Vogogna,
but, unless my recollection of a good many years ago fails me, at
Castelletto they ring them better still.

At Vogogna, while we were getting our breakfast, we heard the bells
strike up as follows, from a campanile on the side of the hill:-

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

They did this because a baby had just died, but we were told it was
nothing to what they would have done if it had been a grown-up
person.

At Castelletto we were disappointed; the bells did not ring that
morning; we hinted at the possibility of paying a small fee to the
ringer and getting him to ring them, but were told that "la gente"
would not at all approve of this, and so I was unable to take down
the chimes at Castelletto as I had intended to do.  I may say that
I had a visit from some Italian friends a few years ago, and found
them hardly less delighted with our English mode of ringing than I
had been with theirs.  It would be very nice if we could ring our
bells sometimes in the English and sometimes in the Italian way.
When I say the Italian way--I should say that the custom of
ringing, as above described, is not a common one--I have only heard
it at Vogogna and Castelletto, though doubtless it prevails
elsewhere.

We were told that the people take a good deal of pride in their
bells, and that one village will be jealous of another, and
consider itself more or less insulted if the bells of that other
can be heard more plainly than its own can be heard back again.
There are two villages in the Brianza called Balzano and Cremella;
the dispute between these grew so hot that each of them changed
their bells three times, so as to try and be heard the loudest.  I
believe an honourable compromise was in the end arrived at.

In other respects Castelletto is a quiet, sleepy little place.  The
Ticino flows through it just after leaving the lake.  It is very
wide here, and when flooded must carry down an enormous quantity of
water.  Barges go down it at all times, but the river is difficult
of navigation and requires skilful pilots.  These pilots are well
paid, and Tonio seemed to have a great respect for them.  The views
of Monte Rosa are superb.

One of the great advantages of Arona, as of Mendrisio, is that it
commands such a number of other places.  There is rail to Milan,
and again to Novara, and each station on the way is a sub-centre;
there are also the steamers on the lake, and there is not a village
at which they stop which will not repay examination, and which is
not in its turn a sub-centre.  In England I have found by
experience that there is nothing for it but to examine every
village and town within easy railway distance; no books are of much
use:  one never knows that something good is not going to be sprung
upon one, and few indeed are the places where there is no old
public-house, or overhanging cottage, or farmhouse and barn, or bit
of De Hooghe-like entry which, if one had two or three lives, one
would not willingly leave unpainted.  It is just the same in North
Italy; there is not a village which can be passed over with a light
heart.



CHAPTER XXIV--Locarno



We were attracted to Locarno by the approaching fetes in honour of
the fourth centenary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Fra
Bartolomeo da Ivrea, who founded the sanctuary in consequence.

The programme announced that the festivities would begin on,
Saturday, at 3.30 P.M., with the carrying of the sacred image
(sacro simulacro) of the Virgin from the Madonna del Sasso to the
collegiate church of S. Antonio.  There would then be a benediction
and celebration of the holy communion.  At eight o'clock there were
to be illuminations, fireworks, balloons, &c., at the sanctuary and
the adjacent premises.

On Sunday at half-past nine there was to be mass at the church of
S. Antonio, with a homily by Monsignor Paolo Angelo Ballerini,
Patriarch of Alexandria in partibus, and blessing of the crown sent
by Pope Leo XIII for the occasion.  S. Antonio is the church the
roof of which fell in during service one Sunday in 1865, through
the weight of the snow, killing sixty people.  At half-past three a
grand procession would convey the Holy Image to a pretty temple
which had been erected in the market-place.  The image was then to
be crowned by the Patriarch, carried round the town in procession,
and returned to the church of S. Antonio.  At eight o'clock there
were to be fireworks near the port; a grand illumination of a
triumphal arch, an illumination of the sanctuary and chapels with
Bengal lights, and an artificial apparition of the Madonna
(Apparizione artificiale della Beata Vergine col Bambino) above the
church upon the Sacro Monte.  Next day the Holy Image was to be
carried back from the church of S. Antonio to its normal resting-
place at the sanctuary.  We wanted to see all this, but it was the
artificial apparition of the Madonna that most attracted us.

Locarno is, as every one knows, a beautiful town.  Both the Hotel
Locarno and the Hotel della Corona are good, but the latter is, I
believe, the cheaper.  At the castello there is a fresco of the
Madonna, ascribed, I should think rightly, to Bernardino Luini, and
at the cemetery outside the town there are some old frescoes of the
second half of the fifteenth century, in a ruinous state, but
interesting.  If I remember rightly there are several dates on
them, averaging 1475-80.  They might easily have been done by the
same man who did the frescoes at Mesocco, but I prefer these last.
The great feature, however, of Locarno is the Sacro Monte which
rises above it.  From the wooden bridge which crosses the stream
just before entering upon the sacred precincts, the church and
chapels and road arrange themselves as on p. 269.

On the way up, keeping to the steeper and abrupter route, one
catches sight of the monks' garden--a little paradise with vines,
beehives, onions, lettuces, cabbages, marigolds to colour the
risotto with, and a little plot of great luxuriant tobacco plants.
Amongst the foliage may be now and again seen the burly figure of a
monk with a straw hat on.  The best view of the sanctuary from
above is the one which I give on p. 270.

The church itself is not remarkable, but it contains the best
collection of votive pictures that I know in any church, unless the
one at Oropa be excepted; there is also a modern Italian "Return
from the Cross" by Ciseri, which is very much admired, but with
which I have myself no sympathy whatever.  It is an Academy
picture.

The cloister looking over the lake is very beautiful.  In the
little court down below--which also is of great beauty--there is a
chapel containing a representation of the Last Supper in life-sized
coloured statues as at Varallo, which has a good deal of feeling,
and a fresco (?) behind it which ought to be examined, but the
chapel is so dark that this is easier said than done.  There is
also a fresco down below in the chapel where the founder of the
sanctuary is buried which should not be passed over.  It is dated
1522, and is Luinesque in character.  When I was last there,
however, it was hardly possible to see anything, for everything was
being turned topsy-turvy by the arrangements which were being made
for the approaching fetes.  These were very gay and pretty; they
must have cost a great deal of money, and I was told that the
municipality in its collective capacity was thought mean, because
it had refused to contribute more than 100 francs, or 4 pounds
sterling.  It does seem rather a small sum certainly.

On the afternoon of Friday the 13th of August the Patriarch
Monsignor Ballerini was to arrive by the three o'clock boat, and
there was a crowd to welcome him.  The music of Locarno was on the
quay playing a selection, not from "Madame Angot" itself, but from
something very like it--light, gay, sparkling opera bouffe--to
welcome him.  I felt as I had done when I found the matchbox in the
sanctuary bedroom at Graglia:  not that I minded it myself, but as
being a little unhappy lest the Bishop might not quite like it.

I do not see how we could welcome a bishop--we will say to a
confirmation--with a band of music at all.  Fancy a brass band of
some twenty or thirty ranged round the landing stage at Gravesend
to welcome the Bishop of London, and fancy their playing we will
say "The two Obadiahs," or that horrid song about the swing going a
little bit higher!  The Bishop would be very much offended.  He
would not go a musical inch beyond the march in "Le Prophete," nor,
willingly, beyond the march in "Athalie."  Monsignor Ballerini,
however, never turned a hair; he bowed repeatedly to all round him,
and drove off in a carriage and pair, apparently much pleased with
his reception.  We Protestants do not understand, nor take any very
great pains to understand, the Church of Rome.  If we did, we
should find it to be in many respects as much in advance of us as
it is behind us in others.

One thing made an impression upon me which haunted me all the time.
On every important space there were advertisements of the
programme, the substance of which I have already given.  But
hardly, if at all less noticeable, were two others which rose up
irrepressible upon every prominent space, searching all places with
a subtle penetrative power against which precautions were
powerless.  These advertisements were not in Italian but in
English, nevertheless they were neither of them English--but both,
I believe, American.  The one was that of the Richmond Gem
cigarette, with the large illustration representing a man in a hat
smoking, so familiar to us here in London.  The other was that of
Wheeler & Wilson's sewing machines.

As the Patriarch drove off in the carriage the man in the hat
smoking the Richmond Gem cigarette leered at him, and the woman
working Wheeler & Wilson's sewing machine sewed at him.  During the
illuminations the unwonted light threw its glare upon the effigies
of saints and angels, but it illumined also the man in the black
felt hat and the woman with the sewing machine; even during the
artificial apparition of the Virgin Mary herself upon the hill
behind the town, the more they let off fireworks the more clearly
the man in the hat came out upon the walls round the market-place,
and the bland imperturbable woman working at her sewing machine.  I
thought to myself that when the man with the hat appeared in the
piazza the Madonna would ere long cease to appear on the hill.

Later on, passing through the town alone, when the people had gone
to rest, I saw many of them lying on the pavement under the arches
fast asleep.  A brilliant moon illuminated the market-place; there
was a pleasant sound of falling water from the fountain; the lake
was bathed in splendour, save where it took the reflection of the
mountains--so peaceful and quiet was the night that there was
hardly a rustle in the leaves of the aspens.  But whether in
moonlight or in shadow, the busy persistent vibrations that rise in
Anglo-Saxon brains were radiating from every wall, and the man in
the black felt hat and the bland lady with the sewing machine were
there--lying in wait, as a cat over a mouse's hole, to insinuate
themselves into the hearts of the people so soon as they should
wake.

Great numbers came to the festivities.  There were special trains
from Biasca and all intermediate stations, and special boats.  And
the ugly flat-nosed people came from the Val Verzasca, and the
beautiful people came from the Val Onsernone and the Val Maggia,
and I saw Anna, the curate's housekeeper, from Mesocco, and the old
fresco painter who told me he should like to pay me a visit, and
suggested five o'clock in the morning as the most appropriate and
convenient time.  The great procession contained seven or eight
hundred people.  From the balcony of the Hotel della Corona I
counted as well as I could and obtained the following result:-


Women                                 120
Men with white shirts and red capes    85
Men with white shirts and no capes    (?)
The music from Intra                   30
Men with white shirts and blue capes   25
Men with white shirts and no capes     25
Men with white shirts and green capes  12
Men with white shirts and no capes     36
The music of Locarno                   30
Girls in blue, pink, white and yellow,
    red, white                         50
Choristers                              3
Monks                                   6
Priests                                66
Canons                                 12
His Excellency Paolo Angelo Ballerini,
   Patriarch of Alexandria in Egypt,
   escorted by the firemen, and his
   private cortege of about 20         25
Government ushers                     (?)
The Grand Council, escorted by 22
        soldiers and 6 policemen       28
The clergy without orders              30
                                      583


In the evening, there, sure enough, the apparition of the Blessed
Virgin was.  The church of the Madonna was unilluminated and all in
darkness, when on a sudden it sprang out into a blaze, and a great
transparency of the Virgin and child was lit up from behind.  Then
the people said, "Oh bel!"

I was myself a little disappointed.  It was not a good apparition,
and I think the effect would have been better if it had been
carried up by a small balloon into the sky.  It might easily have
been arranged so that the light behind the transparency should die
out before the apparition must fall again, and also that the light
inside the transparency should not be reflected upon the balloon
that lifted it; the whole, therefore, would appear to rise from its
own inherent buoyancy.  I am confident it would have been arranged
in this way if the thing had been in the hands of the Crystal
Palace people.

There is a fine old basilicate church dedicated to S. Vittore at
the north end of Locarno.  It is the mother church of these parts
and dates from the eighth or ninth century.  The frescoes inside
the apse were once fine, but have been repainted and spoiled.  The
tower is much later, but is impressive.  It was begun in 1524 and
left incomplete in 1527, probably owing to the high price of
provisions which is commemorated in the following words written on
a stone at the top of the tower inside


               1527
Furm. [fromento--corn] cost lib. 6.
Segale [barley]              lib. 5.
Milio [millet]               lib. 4.


I suppose these were something like famine prices; at any rate, a
workman wrote this upon the tower and the tower stopped.



CHAPTER XXV--Fusio



We left Locarno by the conveyance which leaves every day at four
o'clock for Bignasco, a ride of about four hours.  The Ponte
Brolla, a couple of miles out of Locarno, is remarkable, and the
road is throughout (as a matter of course) good.  I sat next an old
priest, an excellent kindly man, who talked freely with me, and
scolded me roundly for being a Protestant more than once.

He seemed much surprised when I discarded reason as the foundation
of our belief.  He had made up his mind that all Protestants based
their convictions upon reason, and was not prepared to hear me go
heartily with him in declaring the foundation of any durable system
to lie in faith.  When, however, it came to requiring me to have
faith in what seemed good to him and his friends, rather than to me
and mine, we did not agree so well.  He then began to shake death
at me; I met him with a reflection that I have never seen in print,
though it is so obvious that it must have occurred to each one of
my readers.  I said that every man is an immortal to himself:  he
only dies as far as others are concerned; to himself he cannot, by
any conceivable possibility, do so.  For how can he know that he is
dead until he IS dead?  And when he IS dead, how can he know that
he is dead?  If he does, it is an abuse of terms to say that he is
dead.  A man can know no more about the end of his life than he did
about the beginning.  The most horrible and loathed death still
resolves itself into being badly frightened, and not a little hurt
towards the end of one's life, but it can never come to being
unbearably hurt for long together.  Besides, we are at all times,
even during life, dead and dying to by far the greater part of our
past selves.  What we call dying is only dying to the balance, or
residuum.  This made the priest angry.  He folded his arms and
said, "Basta, basta," nor did he speak to me again.  It is because
I noticed the effect it produced upon my fellow-passenger that I
introduce it here.

Bignasco is at the confluence of the two main branches of the
Maggia.  The greater part of the river comes down from the glacier
of Basodino, which cannot be seen from Bignasco; I know nothing of
this valley beyond having seen the glacier from the top of the pass
between Fusio and Dalpe.  The smaller half of the river comes down
from Fusio, the valley of Sambucco, and the lake of Naret.  The
accommodation at Bignasco is quite enough for a bachelor; the
people are good, but the inn is homely.  From Bignasco the road
ascends rapidly to Peccia, a village which has suffered terribly
from inundations, and from Peccia it ascends more rapidly still--
Fusio being reached in about three hours from Bignasco.  There is
an excellent inn at Fusio kept by Signor Dazio, to whose energy the
admirable mountain road from Peccia is mainly due.  On the right
just before he crosses the bridge, the traveller will note the
fresco of the Crucifixion, which I have mentioned at page 140.

Fusio is over 4200 feet above the level of the sea.  I do not know
wherein its peculiar charm lies, but it is the best of all the
villages of a kindred character that I know.  Below is a sketch of
it as it appears from the cemetery.

There is another good view from behind the village; at sunset this
second view becomes remarkably fine.  The houses are in deep cool
shadow, but the mountains behind take the evening sun, and are
sometimes of an incredible splendour.  It is fine to watch the
shadows creeping up them, and the colour that remains growing
richer and richer until the whole is extinguished; this view,
however, I am unable to give.

I hold Signor Dazio of Fusio so much as one of my most particular
and valued friends, and I have such special affection for Fusio
itself, that the reader must bear in mind that he is reading an
account given by a partial witness.  Nevertheless, all private
preferences apart, I think he will find Fusio a hard place to beat.
At the end of June and in July the flowers are at their best, and
they are more varied and beautiful than anywhere else I know.  At
the very end of July and the beginning of August the people cut
their hay, and then for a while the glory of the place is gone, but
by the end of August or the beginning of September the grass has
grown long enough to re-cover the slopes with a velvety verdure,
and though the flowers are shorn, yet so they are from other places
also.

There are many walks in the neighbourhood for those who do not mind
mountain paths.  The most beautiful of them all is to the valley of
Sambucco, the upper end which is not more than half-an-hour from
Signor Dazio's hotel.  For some time one keeps to the path through
the wooded gorge, and with the river foaming far below; in early
morning while this path is in shade, or, again, after sunset, it is
one of the most beautiful of its kind that I know.  After a while a
gate is reached, and an open upland valley is entered upon--
evidently an old lake filled up, and neither very broad nor very
long, but grassed all over, and with the river winding through it
like an English brook.  This is the valley of Sambucco.  There are
two collections of stalle for the cattle, or monti--one at the
nearer end and the other at the farther.

The floor of the valley can hardly be less than 5000 feet above the
sea.  I shall never forget the pleasure with which I first came
upon it.  I had long wanted an ideal upland valley; as a general
rule high valleys are too narrow, and have little or no level
ground.  If they have any at all there often is too much as with
the one where Andermatt and Hospenthal are--which would in some
respects do very well--and too much cultivated, and do not show
their height.  An upland valley should first of all be in an
Italian-speaking country; then it should have a smooth, grassy,
perfectly level floor of say neither much more nor less than a
hundred and fifty yards in breadth and half-a-mile in length.  A
small river should go babbling through it with occasional smooth
parts, so as to take the reflections of the surrounding mountains.
It should have three or four fine larches or pines scattered about
it here and there, but not more.  It should be completely land-
locked, and there should be nothing in the way of human handiwork
save a few chalets, or a small chapel and a bridge, but no tilled
land whatever.  Here oven in summer the evening air will be crisp,
and the dew will form as soon as the sun goes off; but the
mountains at one end of it will keep the last rays of the sun.  It
is then the valley is at its best, especially if the goats and
cattle are coming together to be milked.

The valley of Sambucco has all this and a great deal more, to say
nothing of the fact that there are excellent trout in it.  I have
shown it to friends at different times, and they have all agreed
with me that for a valley neither too high nor too low, nor too big
nor too little, the valley of Sambucco is one of the best that any
of us know of--I mean to look at and enjoy, for I suppose as
regards painting it is hopeless.  I think it can be well rendered
by the following piece of music as by anything else:- {33}

[At this point in the book a music score is given]

One day Signor Dazio brought us in a chamois foot.  He explained to
us that chamois were now in season, but that even when they were
not, they were sometimes to be had, inasmuch as they occasionally
fell from the rocks and got killed.  As we looked at it we could
not help reflecting that, wonderful as the provisions of animal and
vegetable organisms often are, the marvels of adaptation are
sometimes almost exceeded by the feats which an animal will perform
with a very simple and even clumsy instrument if it knows how to
use it.  A chamois foot is a smooth and slippery thing, such as no
respectable bootmaker would dream of offering to a mountaineer:
there is not a nail in it, nor even an apology for a nail; the
surefootedness of its owner is an assumption only--a piece of faith
or impudence which fulfils itself.  If some other animal were to
induce the chamois to believe that it should at the least have feet
with suckers to them, like a fly, before venturing in such
breakneck places, or if by any means it could get to know how bad a
foot it really has, there would soon be no more chamois.  The
chamois continues to exist through its absolute refusal to hear
reason upon the matter.  But the whole question is one of extreme
intricacy; all we know is that some animals and plants, like some
men, devote great pains to the perfection of the mechanism with
which they wish to work, while others rather scorn appliances, and
concentrate their attention upon the skilful use of whatever they
happen to have.  I think, however, that in the clumsiness of the
chamois foot must lie the explanation of the fact that sometimes
when chamois are out of season, they do nevertheless actually
tumble off the rocks and get killed; being killed, of course it is
only natural that they should sometimes be found, and if found, be
eaten; but they are not good for much.

After a day or two's stay in this delightful place, we left at six
o'clock one brilliant morning in September for Dalpe and Faido,
accompanied by the excellent Signor Guglielmoni as guide.  There
are two main passes from Fusio into the Val Leventina--the one by
the Sassello Grande to Nante and Airolo, and the other by the Alpe
di Campolungo to Dalpe.  Neither should be attempted by strangers
without a guide, though neither of them presents the smallest
difficulty.  There is a third and longer pass by the Lago di Naret
to Bedretto, but I have never been over this.  The other two are
both good; on the whole, however, I think I prefer the second.
Signor Guglielmoni led us over the freshest grassy slopes
conceivable--slopes that four or five weeks earlier had been gay
with tiger and Turk's-cap lilies, and the flaunting arnica, and
every flower that likes mountain company.  After a three hours'
walk we reached the top of the pass, from whence on the one hand
one can see the Basodino glacier, and on the other the great
Rheinwald glaciers above Olivone.  Other small glaciers show in
valleys near Biasca which I know nothing about, and which I imagine
to be almost a terra incognita, except to the inhabitants of such
villages as Malvaglia in the Val Blenio.

When near the top of the pass we heard the whistle of a marmot.
Guglielmoni told us he had a tame one once which was very fond of
him.  It slept all the winter, but turned round once a fortnight to
avoid lying too long upon one side.  When it woke up from its
winter sleep it no longer recognised him, but bit him savagely
right through the finger; by and by its recollection returned to
it, and it apologised.

From the summit, which is about 7600 feet above the sea, the path
descends over the roughest ground that is to be found on the whole
route.  Here there are good specimens of asbestos to be picked up
abundantly, and the rocks are full of garnets; after about six or
seven hundred feet the Alpe di Campolungo is reached, and this
again is an especially favourite place with me.  It is an old lake
filled up, surrounded by peaks and precipices where some snow rests
all the year round, and traversed by a stream.  Here, just as we
had done lunching, we were joined by a family of knife-grinders,
who were also crossing from the Val Maggia to the Val Leventina.
We had eaten all we had with us except our bread; this Guglielmoni
gave to one of the boys, who seemed as much pleased with it as if
it had been cake.  Then after taking a look at the Lago di
Tremorgio, a beautiful lake some hundreds of feet below, we went on
to the Alpe di Cadonighino where our guide left us.

At this point pines begin, and soon the path enters them; after a
while we catch sight of Prato, and eventually come down upon Dalpe.
In another hour and a quarter Faido is reached.  The descent to
Faido from the summit of the pass is much greater than the ascent
from Fusio, for Faido is not more than 2300 feet above the sea,
whereas, as I have said, Fusio is over 4200 feet.  The descent from
the top of the pass to Faido is about 5300 feet, while to Fusio it
is only 3400.  The reader, therefore, will see that he had better
go from Fusio to Faido, and not vice versa, unless he is a good
walker.

From Faido we returned home.  We looked at nothing between the top
of the St. Gothard Pass and Boulogne, nor did we again begin to
take any interest in life till we saw the science-ridden, art-
ridden, culture-ridden, afternoon-tea-ridden cliffs of Old England
rise upon the horizon.



APPENDIX A--Wednesbury Cocking  (See p. 55)



I know nothing of the date of this remarkable ballad, or the source
from which it comes.  I have heard one who should know say, that
when he was a boy at Shrewsbury school it was done into Greek
hexameters, the lines (with a various reading in them):


"The colliers and nailers left work,
And all to old Scroggins' went jogging;"


being translated:


[Greek text]


I have been at some pains to find out more about this translation,
but have failed to do so.  The ballad itself is as follows:


At Wednesbury there was a cocking,
A match between Newton and Scroggins;
The colliers and nailers left work,
And all to old Spittle's went jogging.
To see this noble sport,
Many noblemen resorted;
And though they'd but little money,
Yet that little they freely sported.

There was Jeffery and Colborn from Hampton,
And Dusty from Bilston was there;
Flummery he came from Darlaston,
And he was as rude as a bear.
There was old Will from Walsall,
And Smacker from Westbromwich come;
Blind Robin he came from Rowley,
And staggering he went home.

Ralph Moody came hobbling along,
As though he some cripple was mocking,
To join in the blackguard throng,
That met at Wednesbury cocking.
He borrowed a trifle of Doll,
To back old Taverner's grey;
He laid fourpence-halfpenny to fourpence,
He lost and went broken away.

But soon he returned to the pit,
For he'd borrowed a trifle more money,
And ventured another large bet,
Along with blobbermouth Coney.
When Coney demanded his money,
As is usual on all such occasions,
He cried, -- thee, if thee don't hold thy rattle,
I'll pay thee as Paul paid the Ephasians.

The morning's sport being over,
Old Spittle a dinner proclaimed,
Each man he should dine for a groat,
If he grumbled he ought to be --,
For there was plenty of beef,
But Spittle he swore by his troth,
That never a man should dine
Till he ate his noggin of broth.

The beef it was old and tough,
Off a bull that was baited to death,
Barney Hyde got a lump in his throat,
That had like to have stopped his breath,
The company all fell into confusion,
At seeing poor Barney Hyde choke;
So they took him into the kitchen,
And held him over the smoke.

They held him so close to the fire,
He frizzled just like a beef-steak,
They then threw him down on the floor,
Which had like to have broken his neck.
One gave him a kick on the stomach,
Another a kick on the brow,
His wife said, Throw him into the stable,
And he'll be better just now.

Then they all returned to the pit,
And the fighting went forward again;
Six battles were fought on each side,
And the next was to decide the main.
For they were two famous cocks
As ever this country bred,
Scroggins's a dark-winged black,
And Newton's a shift-winged red.

The conflict was hard on both sides,
Till Brassy's black-winged was choked;
The colliers were tarnationly vexed,
And the nailers were sorely provoked.
Peter Stevens he swore a great oath,
That Scroggins had played his cock foul;
Scroggins gave him a kick on the head,
And cried, Yea,--thy soul.

The company then fell in discord,
A bold, bold fight did ensue;
-, -, and bite was the word,
Till the Walsall men all were subdued.
Ralph Moody bit off a man's nose,
And wished that he could have him slain,
So they trampled both cocks to death,
And they made a draw of the main.

The cock-pit was near to the church,
An ornament unto the town;
On one side an old coal pit,
The other well gorsed around.
Peter Hadley peeped through the gorse,
In order to see them fight;
Spittle jobbed out his eye with a fork,
And said, -- thee, it served thee right.

Some people may think this strange,
Who Wednesbury never knew;
But those who have ever been there,
Will not have the least doubt it's true;
For they are as savage by nature,
And guilty of deeds the most shocking;
Jack Baker whacked his own father,
And thus ended Wednesbury cocking.



APPENDIX B--Reforms Instituted at S. Michele in the year 1478  (See
p. 105)



The palmiest days of the sanctuary were during the time that
Rodolfo di Montebello or Mombello was abbot--that is to say,
roughly, between the years 1325-60.  "His rectorate," says
Claretta, "was the golden age of the Abbey of La Chiusa, which
reaped the glory acquired by its head in the difficult negotiations
entrusted to him by his princes.  But after his death, either lot
or intrigue caused the election to fall upon those who prepared the
ruin of one of the most ancient and illustrious monasteries in
Piedmont." {34}

By the last quarter of the fifteenth century things got so bad that
a commission of inquiry was held under one Giovanni di Varax in the
year 1478.  The following extracts from the ordinances then made
may not be unwelcome to the reader.  The document from which they
are taken is to be found, pp. 322-336 of Claretta's work.  The text
is evidently in many places corrupt or misprinted, and there are
several words which I have looked for in vain in all the
dictionaries--Latin, Italian, and French--in the reading-room of
the British Museum which seemed in the least likely to contain
them.  I should say that for this translation, I have availed
myself, in part, of the assistance of a well-known mediaeval
scholar, the Rev. Ponsonby A. Lyons, but he is in no way
responsible for the translation as a whole.

After a preamble, stating the names of the commissioners, with the
objects of the commission and the circumstances under which it had
been called together, the following orders were unanimously agreed
upon, to wit:-

"Firstly, That repairs urgently required to prevent the building
from falling into a ruinous state (as shown by the ocular testimony
of the commissioners, assisted by competent advisers whom they
instructed to survey the fabric), be paid for by a true tithe, to
be rendered by all priors, provosts, and agents directly subject to
the monastery.  This tithe is to be placed in the hands of two
merchants to be chosen by the bishop commendatory, and a sum is to
be taken from it for the restoration of the fountain which played
formerly in the monastery.  The proctors who collect the tithes are
to be instructed by the abbot and commendatory not to press harshly
upon the contributories by way of expense and labour; and the money
when collected is, as already said, to be placed in the hands of
two suitable merchants, clients of the said monastery, who shall
hold it on trust to pay it for the above-named purposes, as the
reverends the commendatory and chamberlain and treasurer of the
said monastery shall direct.  In the absence of one of these three
the order of the other two shall be sufficient.

"Item, it is ordered that the mandes, {35} or customary alms, be
made daily to the value of what would suffice for the support of
four monks.

"Item, that the offices in the gift of the monastery be conferred
by the said reverend the lord commendatory, and that those which
have been hitherto at the personal disposition of the abbot be
reserved for the pleasure of the Apostolic See.  Item, that no one
do beg a benefice without reasonable cause and consonancy of
justice.  Item, that those who have had books, privileges, or other
documents belonging to the monastery do restore them to the
treasury within three months from the publication of these
presents, under pain of excommunication.  Item, that no one
henceforth take privileges or other documents from the monastery
without a deposit of caution money, or taking oath to return the
same within three months, under like pain of excommunication.
Item, that no laymen do enter the treasury of the monastery without
the consent of the prior of cloister, {36} nor without the presence
of those who hold the keys of the treasury, or of three monks, and
that those who hold the keys do not deliver them to laymen.  Item,
it is ordered that the places subject to the said monastery be
visited every five years by persons in holy orders, and by
seculars; and that, in like manner, every five years a general
chapter be held, but this period may be extended or shortened for
reasonable cause, and the proctors-general are to be bound in each
chapter to bring their procurations, and at some chapter each monk
is to bring the account of the fines and all other rights
appertaining to his benefice, drawn up by a notary in public form,
and undersigned by him, that they may be kept in the treasury, and
this under pain of suspension.  Item, that henceforth neither the
office of prior nor any other benefice be conferred upon laymen.
The lord abbot is in future to be charged with the expense of all
new buildings that are erected within the precincts of the
monastery.  He is also to give four pittances or suppers to the
convent during infirmary time, and six pints of wine according to
the custom. {37}  Furthermore, he is to keep beds in the monastery
for the use of guests, and other monks shall return these beds to
the chamberlain on the departure of the guests, and it shall be the
chamberlain's business to attend to this matter.  Item, delinquent
monks are to be punished within the monastery and not without it.
Item, the monks shall not presume to give an order for more than
two days' board at the expense of the monastery, in the inns at S.
Ambrogio, during each week, and they shall not give orders for
fifteen days unless they have relations on a journey staying with
them, or nobles, or persons above suspicion, and the same be
understood as applying to officials and cloistered persons. {38}

"Item, within twelve months from date the monks are to be at the
expense of building an almshouse in S. Ambrogio, where one or two
of the oldest and most respected among them are to reside, and have
their portions there, and receive those who are in religion.  Item,
no monk is to wear his hair longer than two fingers broad. {39}
Item, no hounds are to be kept in the monastery for hunting, nor
any dogs save watch-dogs.  Persons in religion who come to the
monastery are to be entertained there for two days, during which
time the cellarer is to give them bread and wine, and the pittancer
{40} pittance.

"Item, women of bad character, and indeed all women, are forbidden
the monk's apartments without the prior's license, except in times
of indulgence, or such as are noble or above suspicion.  Not even
are the women from San Pietro, or any suspected women, to be
admitted without the prior's permission.

"The monks are to be careful how they hold converse with suspected
women, and are not to be found in the houses of such persons, or
they will be punished.  Item, the epistle and gospel at high mass
are to be said by the monks in church, and in Lent the epistle is
to be said by one monk or sub-deacon.

"Item, two candelabra are to be kept above the altar when mass is
being said, and the lord abbot is to provide the necessary candles.

"Any one absent from morning or evening mass is to be punished by
the prior, if his absence arises from negligence.

"The choir, and the monks residing in the monastery, are to be
provided with books and a convenient breviary {41} . . . according
to ancient custom and statute, nor can those things be sold which
are necessary or useful to the convent.

* * *

"Item, all the religious who are admitted and enter the monastery
and religion, shall bring one alb and one amice, to be delivered
into the hands of the treasurer and preserved by him for the use of
the church.

* * *

"The treasurer is to have the books that are in daily use in the
choir re-bound, and to see that the capes which are unsewn, and all
the ecclesiastical vestments under his care are kept in proper
repair.  He is to have the custody of the plate belonging to the
monastery, and to hold a key of the treasury.  He is to furnish in
each year an inventory of the property of which he has charge, and
to hand the same over to the lord abbot.  He is to make one common
pittance {42} of bread and wine on the day of the feast of St.
Nicholas in December, according to custom; and if it happens to be
found necessary to make a chest to hold charters, &c., the person
whose business it shall be to make this shall be bound to make it.

"As regards the office of almoner, the almoner shall each day give
alms in the monastery to the faithful poor--to wit, barley bread to
the value of twopence current money, and on Holy Thursday he shall
make an alms of threepence {43} to all comers, and shall give them
a plate of beans and a drink of wine.  Item, he is to make alms
four times a year--that is to say, on Christmas Day, on
Quinquagesima Sunday, and at the feasts of Pentecost and Easter;
and he is to give to every man a small loaf of barley and a grilled
pork chop, {44} the third of a pound in weight.  Item, he shall
make a pittance to the convent on the vigil of St. Martin of bread,
wine, and mincemeat dumplings, {45}--that is to say, for each
person two loaves and two . . . {46} of wine and some leeks,--and
he is to lay out sixty shillings (?) in fish and seasoning, and all
the servants are to have a ration of dumplings; and in the morning
he is to give them a dumpling cooked in oil, and a quarter of a
loaf, and some wine.  Item, he shall give another pittance on the
feast of St. James--to wit, a good sheep and some cabbages {47}
with seasoning.

"Item, during infirmary time he must provide four meat suppers and
two pints {48} (?) of wine, and a pittance of mincemeat dumplings
during the rogation days, as do the sacristan and the butler.  He
is also to give each monk one bundle of straw in every year, and to
keep a servant who shall bring water from the spring for the
service of the mass and for holy water, and light the fire for the
barber, and wait at table, and do all else that is reasonable and
usual; and the said almoner shall also keep a towel in the church
for drying the hands, and he shall make preparation for the mandes
on Holy Thursday, both in the monastery and in the cloister.
Futhermore, he must keep beds in the hospital of S. Ambrogio, and
keep the said hospital in such condition that Christ's poor may be
received there in orderly and godly fashion; he must also maintain
the chapel of St. Nicholas, and keep the chapel of St. James in a
state of repair, and another part of the building contiguous to the
chapel.  Item, it shall devolve upon the chamberlain to pay yearly
to each of the monks of the said monastery of St. Martin who say
mass, except those of them who hold office, the sum of six florins
and six groats, {49} and to the treasurer, precentor, and surveyor,
{50} to each one of them the same sum for their clothing, and to
each of the young monks who do not say mass four florins and six
groats.  And in every year he is to do one O {51} for the greater
priorate {52} during Advent.  Those who have benefices and who are
resident within the monastery, but whose benefice does not amount
to the value of their clothes, are to receive their clothes
according to the existing custom.

"Item, the pittancer shall give a pittance of cheese and eggs to
each of the monks on every day from the feast of Easter to the
feast of the Holy Cross in September--to wit, three quarters of a
pound of cheese; but when there is a principal processional duplex
feast, each monk is to have a pound of cheese per diem, except on
fast days, when he is to have half a pound only.  Also on days when
there is a principal or processional feast, each one of them,
including the hebdomadary, is to have five eggs.  Also, from the
feast of Easter to the octave of St. John the Baptist the pittancer
is to serve out old cheese, and new cheese from the octave of St.
John the Baptist to the feast of St. Michael.  From the feast of
St. Michael to Quinquagesima the cheese is to be of medium quality.
From the least of the Holy Cross in September until Lent the
pittancer must serve out to each monk three quarters of a pound of
cheese, if it is a feast of twelve lessons, and if it is a feast of
three lessons, whether a week-day or a vigil, the pittancer is to
give each monk but half a pound of cheese.  He is also to give all
the monks during Advent nine pounds of wax extra allowance, and it
is not proper that the pittancer should weigh out cheese for any
one on a Friday unless it be a principal processional or duplex
feast, or a principal octave.  It is also proper, seeing there is
no fast from the feast of Christmas to the octave of the Epiphany,
that every man should have his three quarters of a pound of cheese
per diem.  Also, on Christmas and Easter days the pittancer shall
provide five dumplings per monk per diem, and one plate of sausage
meat, {53} and he shall also give to each of the servants on the
said two days five dumplings for each several day; and the said
pittancer on Christmas Day and on the day of St. John the Baptist
shall make a relish, {54} or seasoning, and give to each monk one
good glass thereof, that is to say, the fourth part of one {55} for
each monk--to wit, on the first, second, and third day of the feast
of the Nativity, the Circumcision, the Epiphany, and the
Purification of the Blessed Virgin; and the pittancer is to put
spice in the said relish, and the cellarer is to provide wine and
honey, and during infirmary time those who are being bled are to
receive no pittance from the pittancer.  Further, from the feast of
Easter to that of the Cross of September, there is no fast except
on the prescribed vigils; each monk, therefore, should always have
three quarters of a pound of cheese after celebration on a week-day
until the above-named day.  Further, the pittancer is to provide
for three mandes in each week during the whole year, excepting
Lent, and for each mande he is to find three pounds of cheese.
From the feast of St. Michael to that of St. Andrew he is to
provide for an additional mande in each week.  Item, he is to pay
the prior of the cloister six florins for his fine {56} . . . and
three florins to the . . . . {57} and he should also give five eggs
per diem to the hebdomadary of the high altar, except in Lent.
Further, he is to give to the woodman, the baker, the keeper of the
church, the servants of the Infirmary, the servant at the
Eleemosynary, and the stableman, to each of them one florin in
every year.  Item, any monks who leave the monastery before vespers
when it is not a fast, shall lose one quarter of a pound of cheese
even though they return to the monastery after vespers but if it is
a fast day, they are to lose nothing.  Item, the pittancer is to
serve out mashed beans to the servants of the convent during Lent
as well as to those who are in religion, and at this season he is
to provide the prior of the cloister and the hebdomadary with
bruised cicerate; {58} but if any one of the same is hebdomadary,
he is only to receive one portion.  If there are two celebrating
high mass at the high altar, each of them is to receive one plate
of the said bruised cicerate.

"As regards the office of cantor, the cantor is to intone the
antiphon 'ad benedictus ad magnificat' at terce, {59} and at all
other services, and he is himself to intone the antiphons or
provide a substitute who can intone them; and he is to intone the
psalms according to custom.  Also if there is any cloistered person
who has begun his week of being hebdomadary, and falls into such
sickness that he cannot celebrate the same, the cantor is to say or
celebrate three masses.  The cantor is to lead all the monks of the
choir at matins, high mass, vespers, and on all other occasions.
On days when there is a processional duplex feast, he is to write
down the order of the office; that is to say, those who are to say
the invitatory, {60} the lessons, the epistle of the gospel {61}
and those who are to wear copes at high mass and at vespers.  The
cantor must sing the processional hymns which are sung on entering
the church, but he is exempt from taking his turn of being
hebdomadary by reason of his intoning the offices; and he is to
write down the names of those who celebrate low masses and of those
who get them said by proxy; and he is to report these last to the
prior that they may be punished.  The cantor or his delegate is to
read in the refectory during meal times and during infirmary time,
and he who reads in the refectory is to have a quart [?] of bread,
as also are the two junior monks who wait at table.  The cantor is
to instruct the boys in the singing of the office and in morals,
and is to receive their portions of bread, wine and pittance, and
besides all this he is to receive one florin for each of them, and
he is to keep them decently; and the prior is to certify himself
upon this matter, and to see to it that he victuals them properly
and gives them their food.

"The sacristan is to provide all the lights of the church whether
oil or wax, and he is to give out small candles to the hebdomadary,
and to keep the eight lamps that burn both night and day supplied
with oil.  He is to keep the lamps in repair and to buy new ones if
the old are broken, and he is to provide the incense.  He is to
maintain the covered chapel of St. Nicholas, and the whole church
except the portico of the same; and the lord abbot is to provide
sound timber for doors and other necessaries.  He is to keep the
frames {62} of the bells in repair, and also the ropes for the
same, and during Lent he is to provide two pittances of eels to the
value of eighteen groats for each pittance, and one other pittance
of dumplings and seasoning during rogation time, to wit, five
dumplings cooked in oil for each person, and one quart of bread and
wine, and all the house domestics and serving men of the convent
who may be present are to have the same.  At this time all the
monks are to have one quarter of a pound of cheese from the
sacristan.  And the said sacristan should find the convent two
pittances during infirmary time and two pints {63} of wine, and two
suppers, one of chicken and salt meat, with white chestnuts,
inasmuch as there is only to be just so much chicken as is
sufficient.  Item, he is to keep the church clean.  Item, he has to
pay to the keeper of the church one measure of barley, and eighteen
groats for his clothes yearly, and every Martinmas he is to pay to
the cantor sixty soldi, and he shall place a {64} . . . or boss
{65} in the choir during Lent.  Also he must do one O in Advent and
take charge of all the ornaments of the altars and all the relics.
Also on high days and when there is a procession he is to keep the
paschal candle before the altar, as is customary, but on other days
he shall keep a burning lamp only, and when the candle is burning
the lamp may be extinguished.

* * *

"As touching the office of infirmarer, the infirmarer is to keep
the whole convent fifteen days during infirmary time, to wit, the
one-half of them for fifteen days and the other half for another
fifteen days, except that on the first and last days all the monks
will be in the infirmary.  Also when he makes a pittance he is to
give the monks beef and mutton, {66} sufficient in quantity and
quality, and to receive their portions.  The prior of the cloister,
cantor, and cellarer may be in the infirmary the whole month.  And
the infirmarer is to keep a servant, who shall go and buy meat
three times a week, to wit, on Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays,
but at the expense of the sender, and the said servant shall on the
days following prepare the meat at the expense of the infirmarer;
and he shall salt it and make seasoning as is customary, to wit, on
all high days and days when there is a processional duplex feast,
and on other days.  On the feast of St. Michael he shall serve out
a seasoning made of sage and onions; but the said servant shall not
be bound to go and buy meat during Advent, and on Septuagesima and
Quinquagesima Sundays he shall serve out seasoning.  Also when the
infirmarer serves out fresh meat, he is to provide fine salt.  Also
the said servant is to go and fetch medicine once or oftener when
necessary, at the expense of the sick person, and to visit him.  If
the sick person requires it, he can have aid in the payment of his
doctor, and the lord abbot is to pay for the doctor and medicines
of all cloistered persons.

"On the principal octaves the monks are to have seasoning, but
during the main feasts they are to have seasoning upon the first
day only.  The infirmarer is not bound to do anything or serve out
anything on days when no flesh is eaten.  The cellarer is to do
this, and during the times of the said infirmaries, the servants of
the monastery and convent are to be, as above, on the same footing
as those who are in religion, that is to say, half of them are to
be bled during one fifteen days, and the other half during the
other fifteen days, as is customary.

"Item, touching the office of cellarer, it is ordered that the
cellarer do serve out to the whole convent bread, wine, oil, and
salt; as much of these two last as any one may require reasonably,
and this on all days excepting when the infirmarer serves out
kitchen meats, but even then the cellarer is to serve his rations
to the hebdomadary.  Item, he is to make a pittance of dumplings
with seasoning to the convent on the first of the rogation days;
each monk and each servant is to have five dumplings uncooked with
his seasoning, and one cooked with [oil?] and a quart of bread and
wine, and each monk is to have one quarter of a pound of cheese.
Item, upon Holy Thursday he is to give to the convent a pittance of
leeks and fish to the value of sixty soldi, and . . . {67} Item,
another pittance upon the first day of August; and he is to present
the convent with a good sheep and cabbages with seasoning.  Item,
in infirmary time he is to provide two pittances, one of fowls and
the other of salt meat and white chestnuts, and he is to give two
pints of wine.  Item, in each week he is to give one flagon [?].
{68}  Item, the cellarer is to provide napkins and plates at meal
times in the refectory, and he is to find the bread for making
seasoning, and the vinegar for the mustard; and he is to do an O in
Advent, and in Lent he is to provide white chestnuts, and cicerate
all the year.  From the feast of St. Luke to the octave of St.
Martin he is to provide fresh chestnuts, to wit, on feasts of
twelve lessons; and on dumpling days he is to find the oil and
flour with which to make the dumplings.

"Item, as to the office of surveyor, it is ordered that the
surveyor do pay the master builder and also the wages of the day
labourers; the lord abbot is to find all the materials requisite
for this purpose.  Item, the surveyor is to make good any plank or
post or nail, and he is to repair any hole in the roofs which can
be repaired easily, and any beam or piece of boarding.  Touching
the aforesaid materials it is to be understood that the lord abbot
furnish beams, boards, rafters, scantling, tiles, and anything of
this description; {69} the said surveyor is also to renew the roof
of the cloister, chapter, refectory, dormitory, and portico; and
the said surveyor is to do an O in Advent.

"Item, concerning the office of porter.  The porter is to be in
charge of the gate night and day, and if he go outside the convent,
he must find a sufficient and trustworthy substitute; on every
feast day he is {70} . . . to lose none of his provender; and to
receive his clothing in spring as though he were a junior monk; and
if he is in holy orders, he is to receive clothing money; and to
have his pro rata portions in all distributions.  Item, the said
porter shall enjoy the income derived from S. Michael of Canavesio;
and when a monk is received into the monastery, he shall pay to the
said porter five good sous; and the said porter shall shut the
gates of the convent at sunset, and open them at sunrise."

The rest of the document is little more than a resume of what has
been given, and common form to the effect that nothing in the
foregoing is to override any orders made by the Holy Apostolic See
which may be preserved in the monastery, and that the rights of the
Holy See are to be preserved in all respects intact.  If doubts
arise concerning the interpretation of any clause they are to be
settled by the abbot and two of the senior monks.


Footnotes:



{1}  Vol. iii. p. 300.

{2}  "I know that my Redeemer liveth."--"Messiah."

{3}  Suites de Pieces, set i., prelude to No. 8.

{4}  Dettingen Te Deum.

{5}  In the index that Butler prepared in view of a possible second
edition of Alps and Sanctuaries occurs the following entry under
the heading "Waitee":  "All wrong; 'waitee' is 'ohe, ti.'"  He was
subsequently compelled to abandon this eminently plausible
etymology, for his friend the Avvocato Negri of Casale-Monferrato
told him that the mysterious "waitee" is actually a word in the
Ticinese dialect, and, if it were written, would appear as
"vuaitee."  It means "stop" or "look here," and is used to attract
attention.  Butler used to couple this little mistake of his with
another that he made in The Authoress of the Odyssey, when he said,
"Scheria means Jutland--a piece of land jutting out into the sea."
Jutland, on the contrary, means the land of the Jutes, and has no
more to do with jutting than "waitee" has to do with waiting.--R.
A. S.

{6}  Treatise on Painting, chap. cccxlix.

{7}  See Appendix A.

{8}  Curiosities of Literature, Lond. 1866, Routledge & Co., p.
272.

{9}  Ivanhoe, chap. xxiii., near the beginning.

{10}  Handel's third set of organ concertos, No. 6.

{11}  "Storia diplomatica dell' antica abbazia di S. Michele della
Chiusa," by Gaudenzio Claretta.  Turin, 1870.  Pp. 8, 9.

{12}  "Storia diplomatica dell' antica abbazia di S. Michele della
Chiusa," by Gaudenzio Claretta.  Turin, 1870.  P. 14.

{13}  Handel; slow movement in the fifth grand concerto.

{14}  For documents relating to the sanctuary, see Appendix B, P.
309.

{15}  "Well, my dear sir, I am sorry you do not think as I do, but
in these days we cannot all of us start with the same principles."

{16}  "It may be for a hundred, or for five hundred years, or for a
thousand, or even ten thousand, but it will not be eternal; for God
is a strong man--great, generous, and of large heart."

{17}  "If a person has not got an appetite . . . "

{18}  The waiter's nickname no doubt was Cristo, which was softened
into Cricco for the reason put forward below.--R. A. S.

{19}  "Cricco is a rustic appellation, and thus religion is not
offended."

{20}  "Religion and the magnificent panorama attract numerous and
merry visitors."

{21}  "And the milk [in your coffee] does for you instead of soup."

{22}  Butler said of this drawing that it was "the hieroglyph of a
lost soul."--R. A. S.

{23}  "Dalle meraviglie finalmente che sono inerenti al simulacro
stesso."--Cenni storico-artistici intorno al santuario di Oropa.
(Prof. Maurizio Marocco.  Turin, Milan, 1866, p. 329.)

{24}  Marocco, p. 331.

{25}  "Questa e la festa popolare di Gragha, e pochi anni addietro
ancora ricordava in miniature le feste popolari delle sacre
campestri del medio evo.  Da qualche anno in qua, il costume piu
severo che s' introdusse in questi paesi non meno che in tutti gli
altri del Piemonte, tolse non poco del carattere originale di
questa come di tante altre festivita popolesche, nelle quali
erompeva spontanea da tutti i cuori la diffusive vicendevolezza
degli affetti, e la sincera giovalita dei sentimenti.  Cio non
pertanto, malgrado si fatta decadenza la festa della Madonna di
Campra e ancor al presente una di quelle rare adunanze
sentimentali, unica forse nel Biellese, alle quali accorre
volentieri e ritrova pascolo appropriato il cristiano divoto non
meno che il curioso viaggiatore."  (Del Santuario di Graglia
notizie istoriche di Giuseppe Muratori.  Torino, Stamperia reale,
1848, p. 18.)

{26}  Samson Agonistes.

{27}  "Venus laughing from the skies."

{28}  Jephthah.

{29}  I cannot give this cry in musical notation more nearly than
as follows:- [At this point in the book a music score is given]

{30}  "Such as ye are, we once were, and such as we are, ye shall
be."

{31}  Lugano, 1838.

{32}  Butler always regretted that he did not find out about Medea
Colleone's passero solitario in time to introduce it into Alps and
Sanctuaries.  Medea was the daughter of Bartolomeo Colleone, the
famous condottiere, whose statue adorns the Campo SS.  Giovanni e
Paolo at Venice.  Like Catullus's Lesbia, whose immortal passer
Butler felt sure was also a passero solitario, she had the
misfortune to lose her pet.  Its little body can still be seen in
the Capella Colleone, up in the old town at Bergamo, lying on a
little cushion on the top of a little column, and behind it there
stands a little weeping willow tree whose leaves, cut out in green
paper, droop over the corpse.  In front of the column is the
inscription,--"Passer Medeae Colleonis," and the whole is covered
by a glass shade about eight inches high.  Mr. Festing Jones has
kindly allowed me to borrow this note from his "Diary of a Tour
through North Italy to Sicily."--R. A. S.

{33}  Handel's third set of organ Concertos, No. 3.

{34}  "Storia diplomatica dell' antica abbazia di S. Michele della
Chiusa," by Gaudenzio Claretta.  Turin, Civelli & Co.  1870.  p.
116.

{35}  "Item, ordinaverunt quod fiant mandata seu ellemosinae
consuetae quae sint valloris quatuor prebendarum religiosorum omni
die ut moris est."  (Claretta, Storia diplomatica, p. 325.)  The
mandatum generally refers to "the washing of one another's feet,"
according to the mandate of Christ during the last supper.  In the
Benedictine order, however, with which we are now concerned, alms,
in lieu of the actual washing of feet, are alone intended by the
word.

{36}  The prior-claustralis, as distinguished from the prior-major,
was the working head of a monastery, and was supposed never, or
hardly ever, to leave the precincts.  He was the vicar-major of the
prior-major.  The prior-major was vice-abbot when the abbot was
absent, but he could not exercise the full functions of an abbot.
The abbot, prior-major, and prior-claustralis may be compared
loosely to the master, vice-master, and senior tutor of a large
college.

{37}  "Item, quod dominus abbas teneatur dare quatuor pitancias seu
cenas conventui tempore infirmariae, et quatuor sextaria vini ut
consuetum est" (Claretta, Storia diplomatica, p. 326).  The
"infirmariae generales" were stated times during which the monks
were to let blood--"Stata nimirum tempora quibus sanguis monachis
minuebatur, seu vena secabatur."  (Ducange.)  There were five
"minutiones generales" in each year--namely, in September, Advent,
before Lent, after Easter, and after Pentecost.  The letting of
blood was to last three days; after the third day the patients were
to return to matins again, and on the fourth they were to receive
absolution.  Bleeding was strictly forbidden at any other than
these stated times, unless for grave illness.  During the time of
blood-letting the monks stayed in the infirmary, and were provided
with supper by the abbot.  During the actual operation the brethren
sat all together after orderly fashion in a single room, amid
silence and singing of psalms.

{38}  "Item, quod religiosi non audeant in Sancto Ambrosio
videlicet in hospiciis concedere ultra duos pastos videlicet
officiariis singulis hebdomadis claustrales non de quindecim diebus
nisi forte aliquae personae de eorum parentela transeuntes aut
nobiles aut tales de quibus verisimiliter non habetur suspicio eos
secum morari faciant, et sic intelligatur de officiariis et de
claustralibus" (Claretta, Storia diplomatica, p. 326).

{39}  The two fingers are the barber's, who lets one finger, or
two, or three, intervene between the scissors and the head of the
person whose hair he is cutting, according to the length of hair he
wishes to remain.

{40}  "Cellelarius teneatur ministrare panem et vinum et
pittanciarius pittanciam" (Claretta, Stor. dip., p. 327).
Pittancia is believed to be a corruption of "pietantia."
"Pietantiae modus et ordo sic conscripti . . . observentur.  In
primis videlicet, quod pietantiarius qui pro tempore fuerit omni
anno singulis festivitatibus infra scriptis duo ova in brodio
pipere et croco bene condito omnibus et singulis fratribus . . .
tenebitur ministrare."  (Decretum pro Monasterio Dobirluc., A.D.
1374, apud Ducange.)  A "pittance" ordinarily was served to two
persons in a single dish, but there need not be a dish necessarily,
for a piece of raw cheese or four eggs would be a pittance.  The
pittancer was the official whose business it was to serve out their
pittances to each of the monks.  Practically he was the maitre
d'hotel of the establishment.

{41}  Here the text seems to be corrupt.

{42}  That is to say, he is to serve out rations of bread and wine
to everyone.

{43}  "Tres denarios."

{44}  "Unam carbonatam porci."  I suppose I have translated this
correctly; I cannot find that there is any substance known as
"carbonate of pork."

{45}  "Rapiolla" I presume to be a translation of "raviolo," or
"raviuolo," which, as served at San Pietro at the present day, is a
small dumpling containing minced meat and herbs, and either boiled
or baked according to preference.

{46}  "Luiroletos."  This word is not to be found in any
dictionary:  litre (?).

{47}  "Caulos cabutos cum salsa" (choux cabotes?)

{48}  "Sextaria."

{49}  "Grossos."

{50}  "Operarius, i.e. Dignitas in Collegiis Canonicorum et
Monasteriis, cui operibus publicis vacare incumbit . . . Latius
interdum patebant operarii munera siquidem ad ipsum spectabat
librorum et ornamentorum provincia."  (Ducange.)  "Let one priest
and two laymen be elected in every year, who shall be called
operarii of the said Church of St. Lawrence, and shall have the
care of the whole fabric of the church itself . . . but it shall
also pertain to them to receive all the moneys belonging to the
said church, and to be at the charge of all necessary repairs,
whether of the building itself or of the ornaments."  (Statuta
Eccl. S. Laur. Rom. apud Ducange.)

{51}  O.  The seven antiphons which were sung in Advent were called
O's.  (Ducange.)

{52}  "Pro prioratu majori."  I have been unable to understand what
is here intended.

{53}  "Carmingier."

{54}  "Primmentum vel salsam."

{55}  "Biroleti."  I have not been able to find the words
"carmingier," "primmentum," and "biroletus" in any dictionary.
"Biroletus" is probably the same as "luiroletus" which we have met
with above, and the word is misprinted in one or both cases.

{56}  "Item, priori claustrali pro sua dupla sex florinos."
"Dupla" has the meaning "mulcta" assigned to it in Ducange among
others, none of which seem appropriate here.  The translation as
above, however, is not satisfactory.

{57}  "Pastamderio."  I have been unable to find this word in any
dictionary.  The text in this part is evidently full of misprints
and corruptions.

{58}  "Ciceratam fractam."  This word is not given in any
dictionary.  Cicer is a small kind of pea, so cicerata fracta may
perhaps mean something like pease pudding.

{59}  Terce.  A service of the Roman Church.

{60}  "Invitatorium."  Ce nom est donne a un verset qui se chante
ou se recite au commencement de l'office de marines.  Il varie
selon les fetes et meme les feries.  Migne.  Encyclopedie
Theologique.

{61}  "Epistolam Evangelii."  There are probably several misprints
here.

{62}  "Monnas."  Word not to be found.

{63}  "Sextaria."

{64}  Word missing in the original.

{65}  "Borchiam."  Word not to be found.  Borchia in Italian is a
kind of ornamental boss.

{66}  "Teneatur dare religiosis de carnibus bovinis et montonis
decenter."

{67}  "Foannotos."  Word not to be found.

{68}  "Laganum."

{69}  "Enredullas hujusmodi" [et res ullas hujusmodi?].

{70}  "In processionibus deferre et de sua prebenda nihil perdat
vestiarium vere suum salvatur eidem sicut uni monacullo."





End of Project Gutenberg Etext Alps and Sanctuaries, by Samuel Butler


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