Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

At about three o'clock we took our departure for Camaldoli; R. and I on foot, and the ladies sideways on cross saddles as before. There was nothing delightful in the scenery to repay us for the badness of the roads ; yet, quoth the little guide-book, they are endurable, either in the spirit of bold travellers, or of suffering penitents. We were, however, thankful they were to be endured for only six miles, when we joined the high road, and stepped into the carriage that had come from Pelago to wait for us at that spot. Twelve more miles brought us to Prato Vecchio, where we took up our night's lodging in a sinall but decent inn.

On the following morning we sallied forth to climb the hills again, for another half dozen miles ; and after a while we sat under a chestnuttree, looking down on the fertile plain of Casentino, surrounded, as Ser Giovanni says, by God's own mountains, because, forsooth! they are so sanctified by the three monasteries. There was the Arno with its many tributary streams,

“ I ruscelletti che de' verdi colli

Del Casentin discendon giuso in Arno," and there were its fields, its vineyards, and its towns, our old ac quaintance Prato Vecchio, and Stia, and Poppi with its towering palace, famous in history, and the subterranean passages and caverns of which strike terror to the mind, whether we consider them as the refuge of women and children during the civil wars, or as horrible prisons for the vanquished, perhaps for both, as Fortune turned her wheel. There also was Bibbiena, reminding us of Berni, and of the cardinal Bernardo Divizio, who wrote the first regular comedy produced by modern Europe. The little town of Borgo alla Collina was in the distance, in whose church lies the body of Christotano Landini, the learned commentator on Dante ; it is now above three centuries since his death, and the body is still shown, a mummy, entire and uncorrupted.

Still toiling upwards, it at last seemed as if we had arrived at a sufficient height for the devotion of any set of monks; though I remember seeing the monastery of La Verna rising afar off above the mountains, nearer yet to Heaven than ourselves. After this the path continued somewhat level, near the edge of an enormous bollow on the left, to which (I speak it reverently) our devil's punch-bowl is a teacup; it was wild and rich in colour, and on the opposite side stood Mount Falterone, whence the Arno takes its source, and, in its neighbourhood, from the same ridge of mountain, the Tiber. We then had to descend to the bottom of another hollow to the right, where there was a paltry village, scarcely habitable during the winter on account of the snow; and then to toil up to the top on the other side, when the last mile brought us, by a gentle descent, to the valley of Camaldoli. As the path wound round, at every step we were struck with some new enchantment in the scene. How beautiful the form of this valley ! How richly clothed were the hills, and with what variety of tint in thick luxuriant foliage! The very air felt as if it breathed of quietude and happiness! What an eager desire at that moment sprung into my heart that all my friends in England could be with me! I wished to be able to conjure them to my side. Presently, from between the branches of some glorious elms, there at the head of the valley, surrounded by pines and beech-trees, the convent came in sight, behind Vol. X. No, 57.-1825.

34

which arose that woody steep, where, as on Jacob's ladder, St. Romoaldo saw io a dream the solemn apparitions gliding upwards, instructing bins to build his hermitage on the summit. The recollection of Andrea Sacchi's picture of this vision, with all its shadowy romance, gives a charm to Camaldoli like that of Milton's poetry to Vallombrosa.

Near the convent is a small row of houses, inhabited by workmen in the service of the monks; and in one of these houses two apartments are fitted up for the accommodation of petticoat-company. As we passed by the door, we were saluted by two of the brethren, who received us with great politeness and cordiality, with the air of well-bred gentlemen towards their guests. Unluckily a party of English was before us, occupying the apartments, and there was nothing better for us than the carpenter's workshop. We could not think of sending up a petition to our country-folks for leave to sit with them in their apartment, lest we should be considered intruders ; and they, for their parts, could not think of offering so small a favour, lest the invitation should be rejected; besides, the ladies on each side could not possibly know what sort of company the other ladies might be. So wth a great deal of pride, and its consequence, a want of good fellowship, both parties hept aloof, carefully walking in different directions, and avoiding even to look towards each other, lest unpleasant hints should be supposed to be conveyed. The fittest punishment for such artificial reserve fell upon all of us on our return to Florence; when it was discovered that the other party, a gentleman and his two sisters, were R.'s intimate acquaintances, on their way from Naples, whose arrival he bad long expected. This mortification was to come, but at the time we were too happy, tuo merry, and our appetites by far too good, to permit us in any way to feel dissatisfied at our dinner-table being in the midst of deal-boards and shavings ; especially as there was a profusion of good things cooked in the most delicate and savoury manner. As we sat at table, several of the monks came, one after the other, to pay their respects. New company is an agreeable event to them, not being, like those of Vallombrosa, sullen. Curiosity was doubtless their principal motive, but their good breeding prevented its appearance. They are all of noble families, twenty in number, attended by twenty lay brothers. Their robes are of white woollen, and they wear their beards, though they shave the crown of the head and the upperlip. When moving along the paths among the stately trees, their appearance is extremely picturesque. They spoke more like men of the world than anchorites, and were by no means deficient in compliments to handsome faces. One of them, sitting by Marian, told her he was acquainted with but one English word, which he thought was uncommonly harmonious and expressive. She naturally inquired what that word was, when immediately the very Reverend Don Padre, looking at ber full in the eyes, pronounced “ Beautiful!" lingering on every syllable to give its complete effect, and then he made her a bow, assuming a careless and a somewhat grave countenance, as if he had said nothing extraordinary. Here was more slyness mixed with galJantry than is usual among us laymen; and doubtless a monk soinetimes finds his account in joining the two together.

I
am,
&c. &c.

B.

LONDON LYRICS.

[ocr errors]

The Maiden's Lament.
* YE rocks, whose cold bosoms but hurl back my strain,
Ab! where shall I find my lost treasure again?
My warbler bas fled, and I 'm left all alone-
Soprano, my tuneful Soprano, is gone."
"You tell me your tuneful Soprano is gone,
Your eye it is tearful, your cheek it is wan:
Unlock, gentle maiden, the source of your pain,
I'll aid you to find your lost treasure again.”
"A seeming Crusader, he woo'd in a tone
At least half an octave more alt than my own :
In Egypt he fought against Saladin's ranks~"
"In Egypt? I 'll find him-- Ho! Buckingham! Banks!'
"Forbear, gentle sir, take no Orient Alight,
'Twas from the Haymarket last Saturday night,
My lark, my tall linnet, deserted love's throne :
Soprano, my lovely Soprano, has flown."
“You tell me your lovely Soprano has fled ;-
Say, is the man living, or is the man dead ”.
“You err, gentle sir, trom no lover I 'm torn,
It is not a man whose departure I mourn."
Dear lady, your pardon-how could my wits rove,
Thus to take gentle friendship for turbulent love?
What uncle, what father, has forced you to part
From her, soft fair one, who dwells in your heart?"
“Ah, no, gentle sir, still yourself you deceive,
From tunelul Soprano, whose exit I grieve,
No uncle, no father, has forced me to part ;
It is not a woman that dwells in my heart.”
“True! now I have hit it, my mournful Jeune Mere,
A child, heedless straying, bas roused your despair ;
Placards, with red tongues, shall re-echo your loss
From narrow Saint Giles's to wide Charing Cross.”
"Forbear, oh forbear, thus to ask what I feel,
Nor probe the deep wound that your art cannot heal;
I 'll sigh to the winds, and I'll mourn to the deep,
It is not a child whose departure I weep.”
“Adieu ! gentle lady, don't think me unkind,
I'd fain advertise your Soprano to find,
But how shall the height, age, or figure be styled,
Of one who is neither man, woman, nor child ?"

MEN, WOMEN, AND NIMMEN;

Or, a New Sex discovered.
Est neutrale genus : sic invariabile Nomen.

Latin Grammar. The poets have a mighty way, when they hit upon a new conception, of calling out to all other poets to think nothing of their own inventions upon that point. The last new heroine absorbs the lustre of all other heroines. Fisty millions of men are a poor army, compared with the latest poetical levy. Hold your tongue, Ovid, says Dante ; and you, Lucan, be quiet with your serpents : I have a serpent shall outhorrify a hundred of yours.

Encouraged thus to assume the reputation due to my deserts, I must request Columbus's name, in future, not to take so much upon itself. Newton had a pretty talent at discovery ; but he was right to be modest with it. Bacon, Galileo, Pythagoras, and those other illustrious men (I forget their names), may I trouble them to stand aside ? What is the detection of a new hemisphere or so, or of the blink of another planet? I have discovered a new sex!

Did the reader ever meet with a supposed sort of woman, called a horse-godmother? Is he acquainted (as he very likely is) with other varieties of the species, yclept coarse minded women, scolds, vixens, trollops, &c. These are not women, Lord help him ! they are not even females. Dull are the inquirers that ever took them for such. They are Nimmen. I will explain the word presently.

Fur hermore, did the reader ever see a supposed sort of men, called a milk-sop? Has he been puzzled to know what to make of sawneys, male gossips, busy-bodies, bobailils, wittols, &c. ? These are neither men, nur males. They are the weaker division of the same tribe of animal, called in the singular number the Noomanpronounced short, as in women. There is man, men ; woman, women; and nowman and nimmen. The word is properly 'noman, nomen, after the fashion of the appellation feminine ; but I write it as I do, to prevent mistake. The etymology will be obvious. It implies, that the creature has nothing in common with man or woman-kind, a distinction the more necessary, inasmuch as the habit of admitting its claim to the connexion has given rise to half the evils of society. What is ext aordinary, the robuster species of the animal, out of an excess of impudence, and as is to confound and over-awe discovery, lias chosen to dress itself like a feniale; a perversity, which has been copied vice versa by the weaker.

I must allow, that like all great discoveries, the present one has been preceded by some faint lights and intimations ; a sort of uneasy dawn. Socrates had a glimpse of it. Milton saw farther. Fielding and others had an insight. I like, as a certain Irish duke said, a train to precede

But the conquest of this terra incognita has remained for me. I drag the inhabitants at my car. Columbus did not produce more solid proof in his Americans, than I do in my Nimmen.

The reader is here presented with a memorandum of some of the varieties.

The largest animal of the pretended female species, is the horse-godmother. It is easily known by its irrepressible tendency to behave like a male. Its voice is loud ; its gestures confident. It has been known to leap a five-barred gate.

The scold has a passion for hearing its own cry; and will run on, gabbling and complaining, from morning till night. It delights in worrying maid-servants and good husbands; and has a knack, in proportion as it is tolerated, to complain of ill treatment. The truth is, there is some foundation in the charge. The only way to do it a real service, is not to endure it ; for its passions wear itself out at last, as well as its victims, though not so speedily.

The vixen resembles the scold, but does not care for making such an external noise. It has fits of grievance ; during which it contrives

me.

to scold with its eyes, its hums and ha's, and its very silence. The vizen has commonly a liule cat-like expression, and is credibly reported to have been known to spit.

It is a pity sometimes to see the trollop ; for it is not always an illnatured creature; but so dirty, that nobody can touch it. It has an odd passion for clapping on fine feathers and dirty stockings ; and will take a great tawdry rag, and drag it, with a mighty appearance of satisfaction, along a puddle.

There is a variety called the trollop mental ; which, though externally cleaner than the other, is more hideously dirty in grain. Some of these creatures will talk, for amusement's sake, like an old drab of a nurse in a hospital ! How such beings could have been taken for women, I cannot imagine. Yet I have met with preposterous human creatures, who have thought them handsome. Others have affirmed, that they would with pleasure spend an hour or so with vixens of their acquaintance, and think them charming for that time, though for that time only. God help them! There is no accounting for tastes. For my part, unless a woman is not merely a supposed woman, but a r..., I

agree with the author of the Criticism on Beauty, and would picker the plainest little soul the ever frightened a dancing-master, provided she were sensitive and good-humoured.

So much for the robuster Nooman, or pretended female. The chief of the pretended males is the milk-sop. It is surely too well known to need description. So is the sawney, and the bobadil. But care should be taken of the male- e-gossip. Under pretence of being a man, it is a great murderer of reputations, and carries fire from house to housę. The busy-body may be known by poking its nose into every body's desk, closet, and concerns. It is a pity somebody does not nail a few specimens against door-ways, in terrorem. The busy-body and malegossip have much in common; but the former gives itself the greater airs. It often affects to patronise ; and then merges into the animal called a prig.

The wittol is famous for being led by the nose. You may see it going along, in that condition, accompanied by some flattering fool, or Jesuit of a kinsman, and quite unconscious of its appearance.

It is indeed remarkable, that in proportion as it is led, it looks upon itself as a free agent; and nothing puts it in a greater rage, than being told to the contrary. This often gives rise to very ludicrous, and sometimes to piteous exhibitions ; for the wittol, though not a man, is often a humane sort of creature.

I know not a more unpleasant specimen of the Nooman (if indeed it be worthy of that name) than the species called number-one. It is the farthest removed from humanity, for it is the most selfish. When its name is mentioned, it gives a horrid grin, meaning to express its complacency and a sense of its cunning; for it is lost to all sense of shame. It hides money, like a magpie ; stints you at every turn, even to a little tea and sugar; and will let its companions drown, rather than wet a foot. This species ought to be separated from all the rest, being in fact more below the whole tribe, than the others are below the best of the human race. It should also have a dress of its own, to distinguish it to dull eyes; great disorders arising from taking these and other creatures for men and women. Human beings have been known to be entrapped into a connexion with them, and to have led the most horrible lives.

« НазадПродовжити »