« НазадПродовжити »
looks like what we expected; in a day or two we shall hear of our friends: health and
peace are before us, pleasure to others and profit to ourselves; and it is hard if we do not enjoy again, before long, the society of all our friends, both abroad and at home. In a day or two we received a letter from Mr. Shelley, saying that winds and waves, he hoped, would never part us more.
I intended to put below, in a note, what remarks I had made in another publication, respecting the city of Genoa; but they have been re-published in the compilation noticed in this work, purporting to be an account of the “Life and Times of Lord Byron.” It is a compliment a little on the side of the free order of things, but such as I have never been inclined to complain of, especially where the compiler, as in the present instance, is polite in his petty larceny, and helps himself to your property in the style of Du Val.
In the harbour of Genoa, we lay next a fine American vessel, the captain of which, I thought, played the great man in a style beyond any thing I had seen in our English merchantmen. On the other side of us, was an Englishman, as fragile as the other was stoutbuilt. Yet the captain, who was a strange fish, with a dialect more uncouth than
of us had heard, talked of its weathering the last winter capitally, and professed not to care any thing for a gale of wind, which he called a “gal o' wined.” We here met with our winter vessel, looking as gay and summery as you please, and having an awning stretched over the deck, under which the captain politely invited us to dine. I went, and had the pleasure of meeting our friend the mate, and a good-natured countryman, residing at Genoa, who talked much of a French priest whom he knew, and whom he called “the prate.” Our former companions, in completing their voyage, had had a bad time of it in the gulf of Lyons, during which the ship was completely under water, the cookhouse and bulwarks, &c. were carried away, and the men were obliged to be taken aft into the cabin two nights together. We had reason to bless ourselves that my wife was not there; for this would infallibly have put an end to her.
On the 28th of June, we set sail for Leghorn, The weather was still as fine as possible, and our concluding trip as agreeable; with the exception of a storm of thunder and lightning one night, which was the completest I ever saw. Our newspaper friend, " the oldest man living,” ought to have been there to see it. The lightning fell in all parts of the sea, like pillars; or like great melted fires, suddenly dropt from a giant torch. Now it pierced the sea, like rods ; now fell like enormous flakes or tongues, suddenly swallowed up. At one time, it seemed to confine itself to a dark corner of the ocean, making formidable shows of gigantic and flashing lances, (for it was the most perpendicular lightning I ever saw): then it dashed broadly at the whole sea, as if it would sweep us away in flame; and then came in random portions about the vessel, treading the waves hither and thither, like the legs of fiery spirits descending in wrath. I then had a specimen (and confess I was not sorry to see it) of the fear which could enter even into the hearts of our “ gallant heroes,” when thrown into an unusual situation. The captain, almost the only man unmoved, or apparently so, (and I really believe he was as fearless on all occasions, as his native valour, to say nothing of his brandy and water, could make him) was so exasperated with the unequivocal alarm depicted in the faces of some of his crew, that he dashed his hand contemptuously at the poor fellow at the helm, and called him a coward. For our parts, having no fear of thunder and lightning, and not being fully aware perhaps of the danger to which vessels are exposed on these occasions, particularly if like our Channel friend they carry gunpowder (as most of them do, more or less), we were quite at our ease, compared with our inexperienced friends about us, who had never witnessed any thing of the like before, even in books. Besides, we thought it impossible for the Mediterranean to play us any serious trick,—that sunny and lucid basin, which we had beheld only in its contrast with a northern and a winter sea. Little did we think, that in so short a space of time, and somewhere about this very spot, a catastrophe would take place, that should put an end to all sweet thoughts both of the Mediterranean and the South.
Our residence at Pisa and Genoa has been already described; I must therefore request the reader to indulge me in a dramatic license, and allow us to grow three years older in the course of as many lines. By this time he will suppose us leaving Genoa for Florence. We were obliged to travel in the height of an Italian summer; which did no good to any of us. The children, living temperately, and not having yet got any cares on their shoulders, which temperance could not remove, soon recovered. It was otherwise with the rest; but there is a habit in being ill, as in every thing else; and we disposed ourselves to go through our task of endurance, as cheerfully as might be.
In Genoa you heard nothing in the streets but the talk of money. I hailed it as a good omen in Florence, that the two first words which caught my ears were Flowers and Women (Fiori and Donne). The night of our arrival we put up at an hotel in a very public street, and were kept awake (as agreeably as fever would let us be) by songs and