H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

A poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient online

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the cross stands in the midst under the open sky ; the Capu-
chin monks come here every Friday in procession, and one of
the brethren preaches a sermon where, in past times, the wild
animals roared and howled, while the gladiator wrestled, and
breathed out his life without uttering a cry of pain. Yonder
on that sunlit declivity, where the particolored lizard sits un-
disturbed and hatches its young, sat Rome's emperor, with
his purple clad courtiers ; and here, where now the ragged
beggar takes his place, waved the white veil of the vestal

One ought to enter this place for the first time by the full
light of the moon ; a tragedy composed of stone is what we
then see and read. One ought to wander through these im-
mense arches by torch-light, and ascend to the very top, where
the walls are not of stone, but masses of rock. What a
dead silence ! what immensity ! The torch-light falls on the
cobwebs in the corners, where the fly sprawls and struggles ;
but we think not of it ; we think not of the woes of every-day
life : the stones around us have voices, the stars above stand
in alliance with them ; the soul feels itself expand in the midst
of greatness. The Coliseum preaches to us about the system
of the world, about the greatness and the impotence of the
human race, so that the mind becomes at once elevated and

1 The Amphitheatre in Verona is still so well preserved that the dead
of former ages, if they could arise, would think that it was but a few weeks
since they sat in that place ; but the whole theatre is dwarfish in compar-
ison with the Coliseum. The same may be said of the Amphitheatre near
Capua ; it certainly affords the best idea of the machinery of that time ,
but in magnitude it quite disappears before the Coliseum.




WHAT makes the Roman Carnival so lively, so peculiarly
splendid, and so far surpassing the same kind of festivity in
every other place, arises from this cause, that the feast of the
Carnival in the streets of Rome is confined to six days, and
on each of these days to three hours. II Corso and the near-
est side-streets alone contain the scene of this popular amuse-
ment. Both time and place are concentrated. Mirth here is
like effervescing champagne : the goblet foams and sparkles ;
it is emptied directly, and then follows the fast.

The Roman Carnival which, with insignificant variations is
from year to year the same, has been so vividly depicted by
Goethe that no one can do it better ; therefore, every new de-
scription is superfluous. I would rather not give any ; only to
make my picture of Rome a little more complete, I must draw
a slight sketch of it in this book : the details belong solely to
the Carnival of 1841.

The Senator sits in the Capitol clad in purple and gold,
surrounded by his pages in their many colored dresses : a de-
putation of Jews enter, and beg permission to dwell for an-
other year in that quarter of the city allotted to them, namely,
Ghetto. They obtain this permission ; the Senator gets into
a glass coach, the old bells of the Capitol ring, and this is the
signal for the Carnival to commence.

The coach drives on at a foot-pace toward Piazza del Pop-
olo, and behind it swarms a crowd of persons from palaces,
houses, and pot-houses. But the greatest order prevails every-
where. Any lady may freely venture out in man's clothing ;
it would never enter any one's head to insult her, or make the
least sign that could alarm her modesty.

It is amusing to see how the poorer classes contrive . j pro-
cure a carnival dress : they sew salad leaves all over their
clothes j they have them on their shoes, and even on their
head by way of peruke ; husband and wife, and sometimes
their children too, are quite clothed in salad. Orange peel is
cut out, and worn as spectacles ; this is the whole of their dec-


orations, and thus the poor couple wander through the streets
with the greatest gravity and the most majestic bearing.

From Piazza del Popolo, the Senator proceeds with his suite
up II Corso. All the windows and balconies are hung with
red, blue, and yellow silk drapery; places everywhere are
filled with persons of both sexes, and a great part are in cos-
tume, with and without masks. Small rush chairs or benches
are placed close to the houses on the whole line ; they are let
out, and the more quietly disposed take their "places there.
The one row of carriages drives down the line, the other up,
and both carriages and horses are mostly decorated with ever-
greens and fluttering ribbons. We often see coachmen, old
fellows with genuine Italian physiognomies, dressed out like
ladies, whilst a pug-dog sits by their side dressed like an in-
fant in long clothes, or as a young miss. Other carriages are
decked out like steam-vessels, and have a crew of sailors
clothed alike, or with girls in military costume. When two
such vessels meet, a violent combat takes place, in which con-
fetti 1 pour down on each other, not thrown with the hand,
but often out of large goblets. The great mass of humanity
moves along on the footpath, and even between the carriages.
If two Punches or Harlequins meet, they take each other by
the arm and push their way on hooting and screaming ; masks
of the same kind join each other, and they soon become a
whole flock. Shouting, they force their way between the car-
riages and passengers on foot ; it is just as if a foaming water-
spout darted over a gently undulating sea. At sunset, the
sound of cannon is heard ; the carriages draw off into the side-
streets, and the soldiers, who have been posted at some dis-
tance from each other, now collect together and march through
the streets ; the cavalry ride slowly after ; the second time
they ride quicker, and the third time at full speed. This is
the signal that the horse-races are about to begin.

High tribunes are erected in Piazza del Popolo ; a rope is
fixed across the street, and behind this ace six or seven half-
wild horses hung, round with iron plates, the barbs on them
being turned inward, and on their backs are fastened pieces
of burning sponge.

1 Confetti are red and white balls as large as pease, and made of gypsum



The rope falls the horses dart away silk ribbons and
tinsel gold flutter and rattle on their manes and sides. " Ca-
valli ! cavalli /" shout the innumerable crowds, as they make
way for the flying horses, which become still more wild from
the screaming of the people ; they rush past, and the street
behind them is closed again by the enormous swarm.

Before the horses have reached the goal, they are for the
most part so exhausted that they come up to an easy trot ;
meanwhile, the uppermost part of the street is inclosed with
large carpets suspended from house to house at certain dis-
tances. If the horses were still in their wildest flight they
would, nevertheless, be stopped here, entangled, as they must
be, in these draperies.

It has a very comical appearance when by chance a dog
gets into a part of the street that is cleared. The persons
nearest the poor brute at once proceed to chase it ; the whole
row follows the example, and the unhappy dog must take his
way through the whole street. Screaming and clapping of
hands from both sides keep it in the middle of the street.
There is such exultation ! the poor dog is obliged to run a
race, and if it happens to be a heavy dog, it appears just as
miserable as comical ; it can scarcely lift its legs, and yet it
must gallop, gallop !

It is a lively scene in the evenings of the Carnival time, if
we enter an osteria or wine-house, where we often find a whole
company of merry maskers, drinking their Foglietta, improvis-
ing a song, or dancing Saltarello. Whole crowds go through
the streets with song and tambourine, preceded by a burning
torch. They go to the theatres, particularly to the smaller
ones, in their masquerade dresses, and the audience play
there as much as the actors. I followed such a crowd to
Teatro Alibert ; about a third part of the public there was in
costume : knights in armor, flower-girls, harlequins, and Gre-
cian gods sat amongst us in our every-day dress. One of
the largest boxes in the first tier was quite filled with pretty
Roman girls, all dressed like Pantaloon, but without masks or
rouge. They were so joyous and so beautiful that it was a
pleasure to look at them ; but they certainly drew the whole
attention from the stage. A very favorite tragedy was per-


formed, called, " Byron in Venice ; or, England and Misso-
longhi ! " It was very affecting, but the public were merry.
Up in the gallery there was a common-looking fellow with a
thick, black beard, but dressed as a peasant girl ; he seemed
to be much affected by the piece. He formed a curtain over
the box underneath with his apron, and then with the skirt of
his gown wiped his eyes and applauded. The eyes of the
audience were drawn more to him, than to Byron and Misso-

The last day of the Carnival is always the liveliest ; it con-
cludes with the bouquet of the whole festival, the brilliant,
magnificent Moccolo. It was particularly lively this year
(1841), as the last day of the Carnival was on the 2 5th of
February. There came a dressed out married couple on high
stilts ; they moved adventurously through the crowd of pas-
sengers and carriages. Here growled another couple dressed
like bears, the one white and the other jet black, both chained
to each other; behind them followed a miller linked to a
chimney sweep, and then came a man hopping about with
lottery tickets ; to the end of his hat was fastened a bladder.
There came another with an organ on a hand-cart ; out of
each pipe stuck the head of a live cat, which screamed piti-
fully, for the man had a cord fastened to the tail of each, and
in this manner he played. One carriage was decorated so as
to form a throne of flowers, and thereon sat a minstrel. The
harp was made fast, but above it was a wheel of fortune with
many flags, and it turned with the wind. Another carriage
represented a gigantic violoncello ; on each string rode a fig-
ure ; the treble string bore a fine little lady, and all the four
strings sang in a loud key, just as the fiddler who stood by
the side of the violoncello, stroked the person's back with his

Throughout that long street confetti and flowers poured
iown, yet mostly flowers, for this year's February was abun-
dant in violets and anemones. I saw Don Miguel, not a
mask, but the real Don Miguel dressed as a civilian, wan
dering amongst the crowd ; he had a handful of confetti.
Queen Christina of Spain had a place in a balcony ; confetti
and flowers were the weapons she was armed with. Now


sounded the signal for the horse-race. One of the spectators
was killed that day by the frightened horses: such things
occur every year ; the corpse was carried away, and the mirth
continued. " Moccoli I moccoli ! " resounded on all sides, and
in a moment there appeared from all the windows and bal-
conies, nay, even from the roof itself, long rods, sticks, and
reeds covered with burning wax-lights. The carriages which,
during the horse-race, had drawn off into the side-streets, now
filled II Corso again ; but the horses, the coachman's hat, his
whip, everything, were covered with burning wax-lights ; every
lady in the carriages held her candle, and endeavored to
screen it from the opposite party who tried to extinguish it.
Sticks with handkerchiefs fluttered in the air. A screaming
and shouting, of which no one that has not heard it can form
any idea, deafened all ears : " Senza moccolo ! senza moccolo ! "
Small paper balloons with candles in them hovered over the
crowd and fell down amongst them ; it was in this immense
street as if all the stars in the firmament, not forgetting the
milky way. had made a tour through II Corso. The air was
as if heated by the candles, and the ear was deafened by the
shouts. Everything was like the wildest bacchanalian feast
and then, almost at once, light by light was put out ; we saw
the last extinguished, and it was dark and still. The church-
bells rang, and the long fast began.

Next morning one well packed carriage after the other
drove away with the strangers away from that death-like
Rome, where all the galleries were closed, all the paintings
even the altars covered with black curtains.

They went to Naples.



WE have had descriptions of travels in many forms ; but as
yet, I think, we have had none in dialogue. Early in the
morning of the z6th of February, 1841, a well-packed travel-


ling carriage, drawn by two common hacks, and a leader so
fine, so lively, and so fiery, drove out of Rome through Porta
Santa Giovanni. This leader was Pegasus himself, and it is
quite probable that he had allowed himself to be harnessed to
the carriage ; for within it sat two poets, besides a church-
singer, so animated, so full of youth's gladness, for he had
just escaped out of the cloister to study thorough-bass in
Naples. In Albano, already he threw off the monk's cowl
and put on the gentleman's black coat ; he might almost have
passed for a poet ; and then there was a Signora who was an
admirer of poetry and poets, but she could not bear to ride
backward. It was, as we hear, a very respectable company,
even for Pegasus to draw. They took the way to Naples, and
now we shall hear the dialogue.


The way to Albano is over antique roads, past aqueducts
of several miles in length, standing proudly like the columns
in palace-halls, and past bush-grown walled tombs. A Capu-
chin monk with his beggar's wallet on his shoulders is the
only person we meet We approach the tomb of the Ascanii ;
it lifts its head like a mighty stone Colossus by the way-side,
bearing its crown of grass and bushes. Sing of it, ye poets
there in the carriage, sing of Rome's Campagna !


Look to it that you draw too ! What is the meaning of all
those jolts and jumps ? We shall bait in Albano for two
whole hours ; the oats there are good, and the stable large.
O dear ! we have a long way to go before we shall get to
rest this evening.


We are in Albano ! here, in this street, is a house ; we go
close past it ; it is quite a small one of only two stories. The
door opens, a sportsman steps out ; he has pale cheeks, and
jet black eyes. It is Don Miguel, ex-King of Portugal. A
poem might be written about him ! Hear it, ye poets within


the carriage ! No, they do not hear it ; the one is playing
the agreeable to Signora, the other sits with his thoughts on
a tragedy.


Now we have baited, let us prepare to be off again. The
way is a long up and down one. Don't look at the pile of
stones ; that is the grave of the Horatii ; it is an old history.
Now go on.


What magnificent trees ! What rows of evergreens ! The
road runs between high rocks, the fountains ripple, and aloft
on the mountain, between the tops of the trees, rises the
church cupola of Aricia. The bells ring. By the road stands
a cross ; beautiful girls pass it ; they bend their knee before
the cross and count their beads. We approach Genzano ;
the poets descend from the carriage ; they will see Nemi
Lake, where there was once a crater. But that is an older
story than that of the Horatii ! Let us away while the poets
are admiring it ; they can reach us at Velletri. Let us be off!


That first horse is just as if he were mad ! He can't stand,
he can't go ! yet he seems as if he were old enough to have
learned to do both.


Far beneath us lie the green grass-grown swamps, and
Circe's rocky island by the sea. We are in Cisterna, the
little town where the Apostle Paul was received by his friends
from Rome, when he approached that city. Sing of this, ye
poets. The evening is fine, the stars glisten. There is a
beautiful girl in the inn at Cisterna : look at her, ye poets,
and sing of the fair lily in the marshes.


Now pray go a little steadily ; not at a gallop ! There b a
carriage on before us ; we must not go past it. Did you not
hear it yourself ? There are German ladies in it ; they have


no gentleman with them, and have begged to be in our com
pany, being afraid of robbers ! It is not safe here, for we
heard the balls whistle past us at this place years ago.

The rain pours down ! Everything stands in water. The
reed huts seem as if they would sail away from the inundated
green islands. Let us gallop on. The road here is so even.
There stands a splendid cloister ; the monks are gone ; the
vapors from the swamp drove them away, and the cloister
stands with a green mould on the walls and marble columns.
Grass grows on the floors, and the bats fly under the cupola.
We will run in through the open gate, right into the church
and stop there. Then you shall see how the lady we draw
has become a beautiful marble image of fear. Then you
shall hear our orchestra-leader sing ; his voice is so fine.
He will sing a hymn for his safety, and both the poets will
tell the world about that dangerous adventure in the Pontine


Take care of the whip ! Keep in the middle of the road.
We shall soon be in Terracina : there we shall rest ; and we
shall rest on the frontiers, and at the custom-house. This is
the best part of the whole journey.


The sun shines on the orange colored rocks ; the marshes
he behind us. Three tall palm-trees stand close by the way-
side. We are in Terracina. What has become of our com-
pany ? One of the poets climbed the high rocks amongst the
cactuses ; round about are gardens with citron and oranges ;
every branch bends with the yellow, shining fruit ; he as-
cends the ruins of Theoderic's castle, looks over the gras*
grown marshes toward the north, and his heart sings,

" My wife,

My sweet smelling rose !
And thou, my darling ! my all, my life,
My loved one and my pleasure :
Thou bud of my rose ! "



But the other poet sits down by the sea ; yes, out in the sea,
on the massive rocks. He wets his lips with the briny drops,
and exultingly cries : " Thou swelling sea ; thou dead, calm sea.
Thou, like myself, dost embrace the whole earth ; it is thy
bride, it is thy muse ! Thou singest of it in the storm ; in thy
rest thou dreamest of heaven, thou clear, transparent sea ! "


They were capital oats we got at Terracina ! The road was
also very good, and we stopped so pleasantly long at the cus-
toms in Fondi. See, now we are going up the mountains !
Where are we going to ? First up and then down very

pleasant this !


The weeping-willows wave in the wind ! The road up the
side of the mountain winds like a snake past ruined walls and
olive woods, touched by the rays of the evening sun. There
is a picturesque town on the rocks above us, and peasants
driving on the road here below ! There is poetry in these
mountains ! Come hither, ye who can sing, and get up on my
back. My poets there in the carriage sit idling. We push on
in the still starlight evening, on past the Cyclops' wall, where
the rank ivy hangs like curtains over the caverns that perhaps
conceal a robber. Away, past the mouldering tomb where
Cicero fell under the murderer's dagger. We approach his
villa between high laurel hedges and shining citrons. To-
night we will dream in Mola di Gaeta.


That, sure enough, was a devil of a road ! How we shall eat,
how we shall drink, if the oats only be good and the water
fresh ! May each of us find our manger.


The beautiful Signora sat under the leafy roof of the orange-
trees. One of the poets read Italian poems aloud with a clear
sounding voice ; the leader of the choir leaned against the tall


citron-tree and listened, whilst he looked through the cypresses
on the sea, where the sun's rays fell on the white sails of the
ships. The second poet wandered in the fields, plucked red
anemones, bound wreaths, took now and then a glittering
orange, then two, and they flew like golden apples up into the
pure air. There was joy in his heart, there was song on his
lips ! he felt: " I am again in Italy ! "

In the stable stood the horses, each with its head in a man-
ger ; they also were well off. But where I stood, I, Pegasus,
there was a little door in the wall, and the door was open. I
stuck my head out, and looked over the tops of the citron-trees
and the dark cypresses, at the white town in the isthmus of
the sea, and I neighed, so that I think the poets must have
known me by my neighing.


So, now we are going on again to Santa Agatha, there the
fodder is good ; and then to Capua, that strong fortification
with bad water ; but then we approach the end of the journey.


How blue the mountains are ; how blue the sea is ; and the sky
has also its own brilliant blue. It is one color in three shades ;
it is love spoken in three different languages. See how Hie
stars glisten ; see how the city before us beams with light It
is Naples, that charming city, that lively city, Naples Naples 1
And then we were in Naples.



THE theatre St. Carlo was closed, and would be so all the
time I could stay in Naples. That large, splendid house, with
its bass reliefs, appeared to me like a tomb over the queen of
song her whom seven years before I had heard here for the
first time. The queen of song, Malibran-Garcia, is dead ! I
can so clearly remember the first evening I was here. They



performed the opera of " Norm a," which was then new. I
knew it not ; and I had never heard Malibran.

The house was filled ; my heart beat with expectation.
The curtain drew up, the Druids' chorus sounded through the
forest, and Norma entered in white clothes, with a wreath
around her brow, as if she were the muse of song herself.
There stood Norma Malibran. She cut off the fresh oak-
branch, and the song commenced yes, it was the muse her-
self. I had never before heard such singing : it was as if
the heart's deepest feelings were revealed in tones ; my
breast expanded, I felt a momentary chill, such as one always
feels when something divine is revealed to us.

She ceased, and a storm of applause filled the whole house ;
but there was also a piercing whistle only one, but it rose
above through all ; the envious snake hissed the queen of
song. A hundred hands were clinched at the indignity, a
thousand voices had not power to deafen it. But I had
only ear and eye for her. What singing, what playing ! and
it was a handsome woman I saw. " Eviva la divina!" re-
sounded from every place in that large, full house. Flowers
fell around her in showers ; and the snake hissed between the

I heard Malibran afterward in "La Prova," and in "The
Barber of Seville." What life, what humor! all were carried
away by it. There was an exultation, a real Neapolitan ap-
plause, such as we have no idea of in the North. Voices
cross each other with the most enthusiastic exclamations ; a
hundred voices join in, and sing the theme of the song when
it is ended. In their transports they imagine they also can
sing. All eyes brighten ; men spring up on the benches \
they applaud with hands and feet ; flowers, poems, rosettes,
and even living pigeons fly from the pit and boxes ?

It was at the same season of the year as now that I heard
Malibran in Naples. Everything had then the fragrance of
newness ; a southern warmth and radiance lay over the whole
and now, how changed !

At that time there arose a volume of smoke every day from
the crater of Vesuvius ; at night it became a mass of fire,
which was reflected in the clear bay. Now, on the contrary,


there lay a thick mist around the crater the giant slept

At that time I saw "the blue grotto," whose depth is shin-
ing water, whose walls vie in color with the corn-flower's
leaf, and which no poet can describe, nor painter show us.
It was now almost always closed by storm and surge.

Vesuvius, Capri's grotto, and Pompeii, the city of the dead,
were to me the three wonders of Naples, and of these, the city

Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 11 of 31)