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feel that I had never had a bit of it in my mouth at last,
and I blamed my impertinent spirit of alms-giving, and out-
of-place hypocrisy of goodness ; and above all I wished
never to see the face again of that insidious, good-for-
nothing, old gray impostor.

Our ancestors were nice in their method of sacrificing
these tender victims. We read of pigs whipt to death with
something of a shock, as we hear of any other obsolete
custom. The age of cli.-cipline is gone by, or it would be
curious to inquire (in a philosophical light merely) what
effect this process might have towards intenerating and
dulcifying a substance, naturally so mild and dulcet as the


flesh of young pigs. It looks like refining a violet. Yet
we should be cautious, while we condemn the inhumanity,
how we censure the wisdom of the practice. It might
impart a gusto.

I remember an hypothesis, argued upon by the youiig
students, when I was at St. Omer's, and maintained with
much learning and pleasantry on both sides, " Whether,
supposing that the flavor of a pig who obtained his death
by whipping (per flagellationem extremam), superadded a
pleasure upon the palate of a man more intense than any
possible suffering we can conceive in the animal, is man
justified in using that method of putting the animal to
death ? " I forget the decision.

His sauce should be considered. Decidedly, a few
bread-crumbs, done up with his liver and brains, and a dash
of mild sage. But banish, dear Mrs. Cook, I beseech
you, the whole onion tribe. Barbecue your whole hogs to
your palate, steep them in shalots, stuff them out with
plantations of the rank and guilty garlic; you cannot
poison them, or make them stronger than they are, but
consider, he is a weakling a flower.



SWEET- VOICED Hope, thy fine discourse
Foretold not half life's good to me ;
Thy painter, Fancy, hath not force
To show how sweet it is to be !
Thy witching dream
And pictured scheme
To match the fact still want the power ;
Thy promise brave
From birth to grave
Life's bloom may beggar in an hour.

Ask and receive, 't is sweetly said ;
Yet what to plead for know I not ;
For Wish is worsted, Hope o'ersped,
And aye to thanks returns my thought

If I would pray,

I 've naught to say
But this, that God may be God still,

For Him to live

Is still to give,
And sweeter than my wish his will.

O wealth of life beyond all bound !
Eternity each moment given !

ALL 'S WELL. 213

What plummet may the Present sound?
Who promises & future heaven?

Or glad, or grieved,

Oppressed, relieved,
In blackest night, or brightest day,

Still pours the flood

Of golden good,
And more than heartfull fills me aye.

My wealth is common ; I possess

No petty province, but the whole ;
What 's mine alone is mine far less
Than treasure shared by every souL

Talk not of store,

Millions or more,
Of values which the purse may hold,

But this divine !

I own the mine
Whose grains outweigh a planet's gold.

I have a stake in every star,

In every beam that fills the day ;
AH hearts of men my coffers are,
My ores arterial tides convey ;

The fields, the skies,

And sweet replies
Of thought to thought are my gold-dust,

The oaks, the brooks,

And speaking looks
Of lovers' faith and friendship's trust.

Life's youngest tides joy-brimming flow

For him who lives above all years,
Who all-immortal makes the Now,

And is not ta'en in Time's arrears,

214 D. A. WASSON.

His life's a hymn

The seraphim
Might hark to hear or help to sing,

And to his soul

The boundless whole
Its bounty all doth daily bring.

u All mine is thine," the sky-soul saith ;
" The wealth I am, must thou become
Richer and richer, breath by breath,
Immortal gain, immortal room ! "

And since all his

Mine also is,
Life's gift outruns my fancies far,

And drowns the dream

In larger stream,
As morning drinks the morning-star.




THE rising of the Italian people from under their unut-
terable wrongs, and the tardy burst of day upon them
after the long, long night of oppression that has darkened
their beautiful country, has naturally caused my mind to
dwell often of late on my own small wanderings in Italy.
Connected with them is a curious little drama, in which the
character I myself sustained was so very subordinate, that I
may relate its story without any fear of being suspected of
self-display. It is strictly a true story.

I am newly arrived one summer evening, in a certain
small town on the Mediterranean. I have had my dinner
at the inn, and I and the mosquitoes are coming out into the
streets together. It is far from Naples ; but a bright brown
plump little woman-servant at the inn is a Neapolitan, and
is so vivaciously expert in pantomimic action, that in the
single moment of answering my request to have a pair
of shoes cleaned which I left up-stairs, she plies imaginary
brushes, and goes completely through the motions of polish-
ing the shoes up, and laying them at my feet. I smile at the
brisk little woman in perfect satisfaction with her briskness ;
and the brisk little woman, amiably pleased with me be-
cause I am pleased with her, claps her hands and laughs
delightfully. We are in the inn yard. As the little
woman's bright eyes sparkle on the cigarette I am smoking


I make bold to offer her one ; she accepts it none the less
merrily because I touch a most charming little dimple in
her fat cheek with its light paper end. Glancing up at the
many green lattices, to assure herself that the mistress is not
looking on, the little woman then puts her two little dimpled
arms akimbo, and stands on tiptoe to light her cigarette at
mine. "And now, dear little sir," says she, puffing out
smoke in a most innocent and cherubic manner,^' keep quite
straight on, take the first to the right, and probably you will
see him standing at his door."

I have a commission to " him." and I have been inquiring
about him. I have carried the commission about Italy sev-
eral months. Before I left England, there came to me one
night a certain generous and gentle English nobleman, he
is dead in these days when I relate the story, and exiles
have lost their best British friend, with this request :
" Whenever you come to such a town, will you seek out one
Giovanni Carlavero, who keeps a little wine-shop there.
Mention my name to him suddenly, and observe how it
affects him ? " I accepted the trust, and am on my way to
discharge it.

The sirocco has been blowing all day, and it is a hot, un-
wholesome evening, with no cool sea-breeze. Mosquitoes
and fireflies are lively enough, but most other creatures are
faint. The coquettish airs of pretty young women in the
tiniest and wickedest of dolls' straw hats, who lean out at
open lattice blinds, are almost the only airs stirring. Very
ugly and haggard old women with distaffs, and with a gray
tow upon them that looks as if they were spinning out their
own hair, (I suppose they were once pretty, too, but it is
very difficult to believe so,) sit on the footway leaning
against house-walls. Everybody who has come for water
to the fountain stays there, and seems incapable of any such
energetic idea as going home. Vespers are over, though
not so long but that I can smell the heavy resinous incense


as I pass the church. Xo man seems to be af work, save
the coppersmith. In an Italian town he is always at work,
and always thumping in the deadliest manner.

I keep straight on, and come in due time to the first on
the right : a narrow, dull street, where I see a well-favored
man of good stature and military bearing, in a great cloak,
standing at a door. Drawing nearer to this threshold, I see
it is the threshold of a small wine-shop ; and I can just make
out, in the dim light, the inscription that it is kept by Gio-
s-anni Carlavero.

I touch my hat to the figure in the cloak, and pass in, and
draw a stool to a little table. The lamp (just such another
as they dig out of Pompeii) is lighted, but the place is emp-
ty. The figure in the cloak has followed me in, and stands
before me.

" The master ? "

" At your service, sir."

" PJease to give me a glass of the wine of the country."

He turns to a little counter, to get it. As his striking
face is pale, and his action is evidently that of an enfeebled
man, I remark that I fear he has been ill. It is not much,
he courteously and gravely answers, though bad while it
lasts : the fever.

As he sets the wine on the little table, to his manifest
surprise I lay my hand on the back of his, look him in the
face, and say in a low voice : " I am an Englishman, and
you are acquainted with a friend .of mine. Do you recol-
lect ? " and I mention the name of my generous coun-

Instantly he utters a loud cry, bursts into tears, and falls
on his knees at my feet, clasping my legs in both his arms
and bowing his head to the ground.

Some years ago, this man at my feet, whose overfraught
heart is heaving as if it would burst from his breast, and
whose tears are wet upon the dress I wear, was a galley-


slave in the North of Italy. He was a political offender,
having been concerned in the then last rising, and was sen-
tenced to imprisonment for life. That he would have died
in his chains is certain, but for the circumstance that the
Englishman happened to visit his prison.

It was one of the vile old prisons of Italy, and a part of
it was below the .waters of the harbor. The place of his
confinement was an arched underground and under-water
gallery, with a grill-gate at the entrance, through which it
received such light and air as it got. Its condition was
insufferably foul, and a stranger could hardly breathe in it,
or see in it with the aid of a torch. At the upper end of
this dungeon, and consequently in the worst position, as
being the farthest removed from h'ght and air, the English-
man first beheld him, sitting on an iron bedstead, to which
he was chained by a heavy chain. His countenance im-
pressed the Englishman as having nothing in common with
the faces of the malefactors with whom he was associated,
and he talked with him, and learned how he came to be

When the Englishman emerged from the dreadful den
into the light of day, he asked his conductor, the governor
of the jail, why Giovanni Carlavero was put into the worst

" Because he is particularly recommended," was the strin-
gent answer.

" Recommended, that is to say, for death ? "

" Excuse me ; particularly recommended," was again the

" He has a bad tumor in his neck, no doubt occasioned by
the hardship of his miserable life. If it continues to be neg-
lected, and he remains where he is, it will kill him."

" Excuse me, I can do nothing. He is particularly rec-

The Englishman was staying in that town, and he went


to his home there ; but the figure of this man chained to the
bedstead made it no home, and destroyed his rest and peace.
He was an Englishman of an extraordinarily tender heart,
and he could not bear the picture. He went back to the
prison gate : went back again and again, and talked to the
man and cheered him. He used his utmost influence to get
the man unchained from the bedstead, were it only for ever
&o short a time in the day, and permitted to come to the
grate. It took a long time, but the Englishman's station,
personal character, and steadiness of purpose wore out oppo-
sition so far, and that grace was at last accorded. Through
the bars, when he could thus get light upon the tumor, the
Englishman lanced it, and it did well, and healed. His
strong interest in the prisoner had greatly increased by this
time, and he formed the desperate resolution that he would
exert his utmost self-devotion and use his utmost efforts to
get Carlavero pardoned.

If the prisoner had been a brigand and a murderer, if he
had committed every non-political crime in the Newgate
Calendar and out of it, nothing would have been easier than
for a man of any court or priestly influence to obtain his re-
lease. As it was, nothing could have been more difficult.
Italian authorities, and English authorities who had interest
with them, alike assured the Englishman that his object was
hopeless. He met with nothing but evasion, refusal, and
ridicule. His political prisoner became a joke in the place.
It was especially observable that English Circumlocution,
and English Society on its travels, were as humorous on the
subject as Circumlocution and Society may be on any subject
without loss of caste. But the Englishman possessed (and
proved it well in his life) a courage very uncommon among
us ; he had not the least fear of being considered a bore, in
.a good, humane cause. So he went on persistently trying,
and trying, and trying to get Giovanni Carlavero out.
That prisoner had been rigorously rechained, after the tumor


operation, and it was not likely that his miserable life could
last very long.

One day, when all the town knew about the Englishman
and his political prisoner, there came to the Englishman a
certain sprightly Italian advocate of whom he had some
knowledge ; and he made this strange proposal : " Give me
a hundred pounds to obtain Carlavero's release. I think I
can get him a pardon with that money. But I cannot tell
you what I am going to do with the money, nor must you
ever ask me the question if I succeed, nor must you ever
ask me for an account of the money if I fail." The English-
man decided to hazard the hundred pounds. He did so, and
heard not another word of the matter. For half a year and
more the advocate made no sign, and never once "took
on" in any way to have the subject on his mind. The
Englishman was then obliged to change his residence to
another and more famous town in the North of Italy. He
parted from the poor prisoner with a sorrowful heart, as
from a doomed man for whom there was no release but

The Englishman lived in his new place of abode another
half-year or more, and had no tidings of the wretched pris-
oner. At length, one day, he received from the advocate a
cool, concise, mysterious note, to this effect. " If you still
wish to bestow that benefit upon the man in whom you were
once interested, send me fifty pounds more, and I think it
can be insured." Now, the Englishman had long settled in
his mind that the advocate was a heartless sharper, who
had preyed upon his credulity and his interest hi an unfor-
tunate sufferer. So he sat down and wrote a dry answer,
giving the advocate to understand that he was wiser now
than he had been formerly, and that no more money was
extractable from his pocket.

He lived outside the city gates, some mile or two from the
post-office, and was accustomed to walk into the city with


hit> letters and post them himself. On a lovely spring day,
when the sky was exquisitely blue, and the sea divinely
beautiful, he took his usual walk, carrying this letter to the
advocate in his pocket. As he went along, his gentle heart
was much moved by the loveliness of the prospect, and by
the thought of the slowly-dying prisoner chained to the bed-
stead, for whom the universe had no delights. As he drew
nearer and nearer to the city where he was to post the let-
ter, he became veiy uneasy in his mind. He debated witli
himself, was it remotely possible, after all, that this sum of
fifty pounds could restore the fellow-creature whom he pitied
so much, and for whom he had striven so hard, to liberty ?
He was not a conventionally rich Englishman, very far
from that, but he had a spare fifty pounds at the banker's.

He resolved to risk it. Without doubt, GOD has recom-
pensed him for the resolution.

He went to the banker's, and got a bill for the amount,
and enclosed it in a letter to the advocate that I wish I
could have seen. He simply told the advocate that he was
quite a poor man, and that he was sensible it might be a
great weakness in him to part with so much money on the
faith of so vague a communication ; but that there it was,
and that he prayed the advocate to make a good use of it.
If he did otherwise, no good could ever come of it, and it
would lie heavy on his soul one day.

"Within a week, the Englishman was sitting at his break-
fast, when he heard some suppressed sounds of agitation on
the staircase, and Giovanni Carlavero leaped into his room
and fell upon his breast, a free man !

Conscious of having wronged the advocate in his own
thoughts, the Englishman wrote him an earnest and grateful
letter, avowing the fact, and entreating him to confide by
what means and through what agency he had succeeded so
well. The advocate returned for answer through the post :
"There are many things, as you know, in this Italv of


ours thai are safest and best not even spoken of, far less
written of. We may meet some day, and then I may tell
you what you want to know ; not here, and now." But the
two never did meet again. The advocate was dead wheu
the Englishman gave me my trust ; and how the man had
been set free remained as great a mystery to the English-
man, and to the man himself, as it was to me.

But I knew this : here was the man, this sultry night,
on his knees at my feet, because I was the Englishman's
friend ; here were his tears upon my dress ; here were his
sobs, choking his utterance ; here were his kisses on my
hands, because they had touched the hands that had worked
out his release. He had no need to tell me it would be hap-
piness to him to die for his benefactor : I doubt if I ever saw
real, sterling, fervent gratitude of soul before or since.

He was much watched and suspected, he said, and had
had enough to do to keep himself out of trouble. This, and
his not having prospered in his worldly affairs, had led to
his having failed in his usual communications to the English-
man for as I now remember the period some two or
three years. But his prospects were brighter, and his wife,
who had been very ill, had recovered, and his fever had left
him, and he had bought a little vineyard, and would I carry
to his benefactor the first of its wine ? Ay, that I would (I
told him with enthusiasm), and not a drop of it should be
spilled or lost !

He had cautiously closed the door before speaking of him-
self, and had talked with such excess of emotion, and in a
provincial Italian so difficult to understand, that I had more
than once been obliged to stop him, and beg him to have
compassion on me and be slower and calmer. By degrees
he became so, and tranquilly walked back with me to the
hotel. There I sat down before I went to bed and wrote a
faithful account of him to the Englishman : which I con-
cluded by saying that I would bring the wine home, against
any difficulties, every drop.


Early next morning, when I came out at the hotel door to
pursue my journey, I found my friend waiting with one of
those immense bottles in which the Italian peasants store
their wine, a bottle holding some half-dozen gallons,
bound round with basket-work for greater safety on the jour-
ney. I see him now, in the bright sunlight, tears of grati-
tude in his eyes, proudly inviting my attention to this
corpulent bottle. (At the street corner hard by, two high-
flavored, able-bodied monks, pretending to talk together,
but keeping their four evil, eyes upon us.)

How the bottle had been got there did not appear ; but
the difficulty of getting it into the ramshackle vetturino car-
riage in which I was departing was so great, and it took up
so much room when it was got in, that I elected to sit out-
side. The last I saw of Giovanni Carlavero was his running
through the town by the side of the jingling wheels, clasping
my hand as I stretched it down from the box, charging me
with a thousand last loving and dutiful messages to his dear
patron, and finally looking in at the bottle as it reposed
inside, with an admiration of its honorable way of travelling
that was beyond measure delightful.

And now, what disquiet of mind this dearly-beloved and
highly-treasured Bottle began to cost me no man knows.
It was my precious charge through a long tour, and for hun-
dreds of miles I never had it off my mind by day or by
night. Over bad roads, and they were many, I clung
to it with affectionate desperation. Up mountains, I looked
in at it and saw it helplessly tilting over on its back, with
terror. At innumerable inn doors, when the weather was
bad, I was obliged to be put into my vehicle before the Bot-
tle could be got in, and was obliged to have the Bottle lifted
out before human aid could come near me. The Imp of the
same name, except that his associations were all. evil and
these associations were all good, would have been a les
troublesome travel] ing-companion. I might have served


Mr. Cruikshank as a subject for a new illustration of tho
miseries of the Bottle. The National Temperance Society
might have made a powerful Tract of me.

The suspicions that attached to this innocent Bottle great-
ly aggravated my difficulties. It was like the apple-pie in
the child's book. Parma pouted at it, Modena mocked it,
Tuscany tackled it, Naples nibbled it, Rome refused it, Aus-
tria accused it, Soldiers suspected it, Jesuits jobbed it. I
composed a neat oration, developing my inoffensive inten-
tions in connection with this Bottle, and delivered it in an
infinity of guard-houses, at a multitude of town-gates, and
on every drawbridge, angle, and rampart of a complete sys-
tem of fortifications. Fifty times a day I got down to ha-
rangue an infuriated soldiery about the Bottle. Through the
filthy degradation of the abject and vile Roman states I had
as much difficulty in working my way with the Bottle, as if
it had bottled up a complete system of heretical theology. In
the Neapolitan country, where everybody was a spy, a sol-
dier, a priest, or a lazzarone, the shameless beggars of all
four denominations incessantly pounced on the Bottle, and
made it a pretext for extorting money from me. Quires
quires do I say ? reams of forms illegibly printed on whity-
brown paper were filled up about the Bottle, and it was the
subject of more stamping and sanding than I had ever seen
before. In consequence of which haze of sand, perhaps, it
was always irregular, and always latent with dismal penal-
ties of going back, or not going forward, which were only to
be abated by the silver crossing of a base hand, poked shirt-
less out of a ragged uniform sleeve. Under all discourage-
ments, however, I stuck to my Bottle, and held firm to my
resolution that every drop of its contents should reach the
Bottle's destination.

The latter refinement cost me a separate heap of troubles
on its own separate account. What corkscrews did I see
the mih'tary power bring out against that Bottle : what gini-


lets, spikes, divining-rods, gauges, and unknown tests and
instruments ! At some places they persisted in declaring
that the wine must not be passed, without being opened and
tasted ; I, pleading to the contrary, used then to argue the
question seated on the Bottle, lest they should open it in
spite of me. In the southern parts of Italy, more violent
shrieking, face-making, and gesticulating, greater vehemence
of speech and countenance and action, went on about that
Bottle than would attend fifty murders in a northern lati-
tude. It raised important functionaries out of their beds in
the dead of night. I have known half a dozen military lan-
terns to disperse themselves at all points of a great sleeping
piazza, each lantern summoning some official creature to get
up, put on his cocked hat instantly, and come and stop the
Bottle. It was characteristic, that, while this innocent Bottle
had such immense difficulty in getting from little town to
town, Signor Mazzini and the fiery cross were traversing
Italy from end to end.

Still I stuck to my Bottle, like any fine old English gen-
tleman all of the olden time. The more the Bottle was in-
terfered with, the stancher I became (if possible) in my
first determination that my countryman should have it deliv-
ered to him intact, as the man whom he had so nobly restored
to life and liberty had delivered it to me. If ever I have
been obstinate in my days, and I may have been, say,
once or twice, I was obstinate about the Bottle. But I
made it a rule always to keep a pocketful of small coin at

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 36 of 66)