Charles Frederick Holder.

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maps from the scenes of the philosopher's investigations.
— Brooklyn Eagle.

It is difficult to believe that any one having a taste for
natural science can read this biography without becoming
fired with a new zeal, reflected bom the love of nature
which Dr. ilffHerii had from his earlv years to the day of
his death.— Buffalo Express.

In the matter of scientific equipment Charles Frederick
Holder was well qualified to write the life and work of
Agassiz for the Putnam " Leaders in Science Series," being
by this knowledge better able to understand the capacity
of the subject of his sketch. . . . A feature of it which will
be welct rated is the lavish introduction of letters of Agassi/
and quotations from his works.— Cleveland Leader.

The biographer is an enthusiastic scientist who pos-
sesses the faculty of making his facts intensely interest
ing, and in this work he has added not a little to the facts
already recorded in Mrs. Agassiz's "Life."— Times-Star,

Taken as a whole no more useful life of Agassiz has
been prepared, and this volume can be warmlv recom-
mended to all who wish to gain familiarity with one
whose name and fame will live always.— Boston Tunes.

A graphic, readable account of the great savant.— Re-
public, St. Louis.

We commend this book to our younger readers who
will l>e captivated by the story of this hero's life and by
the charm of the style of him who tells the story. The
volume is richly and copiously illustrated. — Living
Church, Chicago.

The lover of biography will find every page of this neat
little volume charmingly interesting and instructive.-*
Inter-Ocean, Chicago.

Professor Holder is most fortunate in his selection of a
subject for his latest work, and in his graceful, scholarly
style, has succeeded in bringing forward all the most at-
tractive and ennobling qualities of one already much
beloved. — Baltimore American.

The author has furnished a clear and connected account
of the principal feat n res of the career of the great "theis-
tic philosopher of the scientific world in which he lived."
—Boston Gazette.

A compact, well-arranged book, a handy contribution
to American biographical literature.— Philadelphia Tele-

As a biography and character sketch this is a deeply
interesting work, while scientists will tind in it much of
special interest to them.— Indianapolis News.

The book will prove a valuable addition to every library,
both public and private, and its interesting account of
the life so beneficently crowded with activity and useful-
ness will be resd MM I vread.— Boston Herald.

Not so much an elaborate analysis of AjmsshVfl life and
its effect upon the scientific world, as a rather brief story
of its salient features, and an impression of the good he
accomplished, destined for younger as well as older
readers.— Book Chat.

The student and general reader are indebted to Mr.
Holder for a charming sketch of the life of a great, true
man, whose career possesses a strong fascination for all.
— Utica Press.

The book has interest for young and old alike, but it is
especially a volume to be read by young people, because
it presents to them in concrete form a noble life dedicated
to high ends, and lived with a singular purity and fidelity.
— Christian Union,

This review of the life and attainments of the renowned
Louis Agassiz is as interesting as fiction could ever be,
since its incidents are of the kind that teach us to marvel
at the work of one man. The volume, as a whole, is
handsome enough for any library. — Columbus Dispatch.

One of the cleverest books in G. P. Putnam's Sons'
" Leaders in Science " series is " Louis Agassiz; His Life
and Works." The author, who has invested it with an
interest rarely found in works of this character, has evi-
dently considered it a labor of love, and has devoted con-
siderable space to showing the human side of the scien-
tist's character. Aside from its value as a contribution
to the scientific literature of the day, the work is a valu-
able addition to belles lettres.—San Francisco Post.

Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York



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The Californian

Vol. IV.

OCTOBER, 1893.

No. 5 -



Sun-gods are weaving silver in the sky.

Low in the west where fleecy pink mists loom
Above far fields of oleander bloom

Squadrons of milky clouds go shifting by,

Pale argosies upon a sea of blue;

From distant marshlands sudden winds spring up
That shake the chestnut from its bronzen cup

And wet the lily's cheek with tears of dew;

In this sweet space beside the mossy wall
Where widowed black-eyed-Susan droops her head,
The nervous wax-wing lifts his top-knot red

As from the pines his mate doth piping call ;

Long shadows creep from out the wood, and now
A single star gleams on the mountain's brow.



^fijj i



Seraphic witnesses of paradise.
/\Nd calmsjo be.




THERE is nothing old in Europe,
we are apt to say disdainfully
with a fine disregard of moun-
tains, rocks, rivers and the like, dat-
ing all antiquity from man. And
are we not right? Hills, rivers,
rocks and plains — the works of Na-
ture — never wax old ; only the works
of Man age and decay.

But though there be nothing old in
Europe, there are some things older
than others. One spot I know which
comprises in its small circumference
the life of three thousand years and
is written over up and down its hill-
sides with the characters of that life;
not so that whoso runs may read, ex-
actly, but in such fashion that whoso
lingers a little and cares to brush
iway the dust of centuries may read
easily enough.

As venerable Asia may be supposed
:o look down upon upstart Europe,
>o venerable Fiesole, seated high on
ler treble hills, looks down upon up-
start Florence in the valley below.

Nay, it appears that Fiesole has a
right to look down upon Asia It
if she pleases, for we find this gia
recorded by an early historian:

"From Adam till the time of King
Ninus, who conquered the entire
world in battle and subjected it to
his power, at the time when Abraham
was born, there were 2,344 years. "
And then after a description of the
boundaries of Europe: "In which
part thus bounded was one primal
lord, whose name was Atalan.
Jupiter. And his wife was beautiful
and her name Electra. And with
them lived Apollonius. a great D1
ter of astrolcgy; and all their do-
were ordered by him. And they, to-
gether with him, chose and seta
out of all their realm one sovereign
spot, where they founded Fiesole.
which was the first city built in the
world after the flood of the Ark of
Noah. And this spot was chosen by
Apollonius as the most salubrious,
that is, in respect of its air and in re-




spect of its being under the influence
of the biggest and most auspicious
planet that could be found."

Or we may rest content with the
tale of a second historian who says
Fiesole was founded by Atlas to be
the tomb of his celestial daughter.

Every one knows Fiesole. Not a
tourist who passes through the Lily-
City but takes a day (half a clay if he
be a true, typical tourist), and runs
out in the abomination of an electric
tram. to the piazza on the hill-crest,
where he peeps into the cathedral,
eats a hasty lunch at the restaurant
of the Aurora, buys a straw fan from
the Tuscan vendor, and rackets back
to town in the tram, confident that
he has " done" Fiesole. In this sense
and after this manner all know her,
but few in any other. Yet she de-
serves better of men — even of tour-
ists; to tell her history truly would
be to tell the history almost of civil-
ized Europe. It would be to go back
a thousand years before Florence rose
from her meadows. It would be the
tale of that mysterious race of remote
oriental, half-mythical origin; con-
querors of the mysterious Pelasgi-
ans (themselves Pelasgians — " Sea-
Strangers"), who, with that ship

whose victorious prow adorns their
earliest coins, brought letters, arts
and a civilization already antique to
barbarian Italy, and of how this race,
so strangely allied to the Hellenic,
so widely differing from it, produced
Etruria — " Mother of Superstitions."

For Fee suite was one of the earliest
Etruscan towns. Like every other
Etruscan town it is the crown of a
lofty hill, and the ancient citadel was
encircled, atterthe Etruscan fashion,
with a wall whose stupendous frag-
ments remain even now a wonder of
the world. Whatever means were
employed to place those monster
blocks, the force of an entire people
must have conspired, morally, at
least, for such an undertaking, as
marvellous in its way as that sublime
system of engineering which rendered
Italy, Italy; her plains habitable,
and desolate Maremma a fertile gar-
den in the days of Etruria — that same
Maremma of which the peasants say:
" In Maremma you get rich in a year
and die in six months."

The wall and a few treasures of
pottery and bronze gathered in the
Museum are all that Etruria the hill-
city has to show to-day ; yet not quite
all, either, for a subtle thread of cus-





torn and habit connects the Fiesolan
peasant of to-day with that vanished
people. Women still dip water from
the wells in vessels of an Etruscan
form, and the mason graves his plas-
ter wall in wavy lines or dotted zig-
zags, precisely (we
have Rnskin's au-
thority for it) as his
ancestor did three
thousand years

Otherwise it is a
long way from the
Etruscan Lucumo

nd Lar to the
odern Fiesolani
a meagre hand-

ul of peasants,

oor even where

11 are poor ; chief -

y dependent upon
their straw indus-
try, and in the
weaving of fans,

askets, hat-plaits

nd knick-knacks,
eking out the
scantiest of livings. Fan-makers re-
ceive a centesimo (the fifth of a cent)
for the finished fan which sells for a
franc (twenty cents) in the shop on
the piazza; and if the fan-maker be
exceedingly skilful and eternally in-
dustrious she may make twenty fans
a day (four cents) — but this is in no

wise probable. Workers
in fancy hat-braids make
from forty to eighty cente-
simi (varying with the
elaboration of the pattern)
for twelve mem
I suppose may make from
eight to ten centa
a day of twelve or foil |
hours, into which must be
somehow crowded a n
cum of housework and the
care of ever-present ba
But there is one great alle-
viation : each works in her
^«wt* ». home, usually sit tin- just
within the open door, with
access to sun and air and
the voice of a neighboring worker.
So that even at these prices — even at
these hours — the lot of the Fiesole
straw-worker has often seemed to me
happy compared with her si
free and shop-tending or free ami


factory-employed America. 1 1
fection, the growing unrest, is not
wanting even here.

" We who work make nothing ; the
fabricante (employer) makes all.
the women, with a hardening
faces above the busy fingers, which
do not pause even for conversation —



and yet Italian fingers were made,
primarily, for talking.

But all this is modern — much too
modern to be interesting ! The poor
and the wage-earners have we always
with us; who dares have the ill-reg-
ulated audacity to assert, in the midst
of antiquity, that the antique has not
a claim above the modern, and that
in all Etrurian Fiesole there is noth-
ing better worth studying than a
single one of these straw-working
peasants? Who indeed! Let us
rather see what else Etrurian Fiesole
has to show. She has much; for
from the cross of her topmost con-
vent to the waves of Mugnone at her
feet, she is set all over with villas
and fountains, with churches and
chapels and wayside shrines — each of
them illustrious, or, at the least, ro-
mantic; and the green of Tuscan
laurel and the silver gray of olives
mantle her from crown to feet.

She was already a thousand years
old before the Lily-City won her
flower name; and each of those years
had added a page to her history, a
legendary chapter to her romance.
Dante remembered this when, writ-
ing in his " Paradiso" of the early
Florentine dames, he wrote:

Another, with her maidens drawing off
The tresses from the distaff, lectured them
Old tales of Troy, and Fiesole, and Rome.

With the fall of Etruria, Fiesole
fell. Florence, risen at the will of
Sylla to supplant, was jealous of the
ancient strength of such a neighbor,
betrayed her on the feast-day of San
Romolo — Fiesole's patron saint, and
forced the inhabitants to remove to
the city below. And yet again, many
years after, Florence attacked the
Fiesolan chieftains who still clung to
their fortress home, and in a three
months' siege conquered them by

Since then Fiesole has no history
— only reminiscences.

Below, the Flower-City spreads the
enlarging circle of her walls and
pushes upward her spires, her war-

towers, and bell-towers. Above,
gray, sombre, silent, with her hand-
ful of buildings clinging to her moun-
tainous sides, and her handful of in-
habitants, Fiesole stands like a gray
grand-dame w T hose life is in the past
while her children's children play
about her feet. Even so she has a
charm to draw those who love long
vistas of memory and dim shapes of
the imagination away from brighter
things of Florence to her own silver

And at times, under a May-morn-
ing sun, with all her pink roses nod-
ding over walls, with all her fruit
trees showering white rain of petals,
and "triumphant nightingales" sing-
ing in the ilexes as if day were a
nightingale's only song-time, Fiesole
laughs with a younger charm than
Florence ever wears.

I do not speak of the views — of
Monte Sinario whence Dante looked
on Florence, of Milton's Vallom-
brosa, <»f Yal d'Arno, and the far
Carraras, though these become a part
of Fiesole to her dwellers, and from
the stone seat placed on her summit
and dedieated "to his wandering
brothers of all nations, by an Eng-
lishman, " the eye learns often to cheat
itself with a vision of Eden. A
modern innovation — an electric tram
— screeches and grates its way up
and down the hill; Etruria and the
tram meeting oddly — to the disad-
vantage of the tram. But he who
will may leave the abomination, and
by picturesque paths, each fall of the
foot on historic ground, wind from
height to valley.

The ancient citadel is a place of
proud memories. They will tell you
that Hannibal quartered his troops
here for two weeks; that Catiline (of
whom this mountain country teems
with legends, and from whom even
the Uberti were proud to claim de-
scent) when he fled from Rome took
refuge here before he went to his
death, near Pistoia; that Caesar be-
sieged the place and Sylla's legions
devastated it — legendary history



enough for one small city, surely,
and between the legend and the his-
tory it were a pity to choose. If one
must choose, however, let him lean
to the side of the legend — that may
happen to be the side of truth.

The town is a Catholic stronghold
now — Catholicism risen on the foun-
dation of other faiths, like its own
quaint church of San Alessandro,
built in the days of Theodosius, over
the ruins of a heathen temple, itself
reared upon Etruscan foundations.
The convent of St. Francis sends
down a stream of brown monks daily,
as the Jesuit college below lets out
its flight of black-gowned students;
" black-birds" we call them without
disrespect, for the fluttering of robes
and twitter of young voices as they
pass is like nothing so much as the
startled rise of a black-winged throng
from a grain field. There is usually
an elder f rater in charge of the troop,
who casts his eyes sedately down at
the approach of an accursed feminine

In the cathedral there are other
things to be seen besides the tomb of
the patron saint — lovely work of
Mino da Fiesole, sculpture, and trac-
ery and fresco by many hands. And
indeed all about the ruins and records
of an older day which is still young
to the morning hour of Etruria, blos-
som the flowers of mediaeval and
renaissance art. Every church,
every chapel has its altar-piece, its
lunette, its fresco by its artist of
note. Little wayside shrines start
out from corners with a Lucca della
Robbia Madonna or Saint Somebody,
Bandinelli fountains and stone heads
spout from the walls unexpectedly,
and busts and statues, of all ages and
stages and degrees, peer above walls
or look complacently through a rose
tangle from a superior terrace. Here
and there a tablet set in the wall be-
neath an image of the Virgin records
that " For mercies received" some
grateful heart placed it there; or
bids you, "O passer-by! say an Ave

And as for villas — every villa is a
history or a historiette complete.
Most splendid of all, Medicean Lor-
enzo's rises wall upon wall and ter-
race upon terrace against the hill-
side, all converted into gardens
"which Tully might have envied,"
says Symonds. Here the Magnifi-
cent, who greatly loved Fiesole,
feasted his friends, held converse
with the great spirits of his time, and
perhaps wrote those pastoral poems
which Vernon Lee (herself a dweller
in Fiesole, by-the-bye) asserts to have
marked the transition from the " Mid-
dle Ages" in literature to the "mod-
ern times" in literature — from the
poems of "knights and spring" to
those of "peasants and autumn." A
distinguished ghostly gathering it
would be, if one might call them
back who trod these gardens — paint-
ers, poets, statesmen, churchmen,
men of letters and of "courtesie,"
with a gay dame or two to trail bro-
cades across the stones and lean from
the terrace balustrade.

Lower down in the garden of the
Medici is the villa Rondinelli, bear-
ing the arms of the Vitelli, a family
old as Etruria and infamously famous
among the infamous Florentines of a
corrupt age. The villa passed from
a Medici (Cosimo, I believe) to a
Vitelli, who repaid the princely favor
by carrying off the Prince's mistress;
whereupon the Medici promptly cut
the throat of ingratitude, and the re-
maining Vitelli as promptly sold the
villa and moved away, for hygienic
reasons, doubtless. It has still its
secret stairway, its suggestive cellar-
hole, and breathes of Medici most
life-likely ! There is a cluster of Vil-
lini Rondinelli about the large villa
and there is no harm in pleasing
one's self with the fancy that the
young true-lover, Rondinelli, may
have burned his student lamp in one
of these, ere Ginevra — the well-loved
— fled from the death chapel through
the Way of Death to him, to be wel-
comed living or dead, as Love alone
— and Love always — welcomes.



Near by is the villa of the Buondel-
monti, those Good Men of the Moun-
tain who so dubiously deserved their
title, and from whose household divi-
sion sprang the Good-apart (Buon-a-
parte) faction which migrated to
Corsica " and has since been heard
from," the historian dryly remarks.
A step beyond is a long building, by
its cross a deserted convent, whose
tablet records that Dupre greatly
loved these smiling hillsides and

whose every gate opens into a ro-
mance, one winds presently out upon
the Piazza of San Dtomenicodi Kiesole
— midway down the slope.

Here is the Church of San Do-
menico with its close convent, in
whose grounds white nuns go glid-
ing like daytime ghosts, and where
Beato Angelico shaped his heavenly
visions before he went to transii.
the walls of San Marco. Here too,
is the old Badia, the favorite monas-


Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 85 of 120)