H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

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

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of the dead alone greeted me unchanged ; only in what be-
longed to the dead I again found what my memory valued
and had sung to me of Naples. In the city of the dead I
thought of the dead. I thought of Malibran-Garcia, the bird
of song, in whose tones I had found the expression of all that
my mind now felt for Italy's wonders and beauty. Italy and
Malibran were, in my mind, related, like the words and mel-
ody of a cherished song ; I could not separate them ; and
now she was dead she, who in so much of what we admire,
was so like Byron, found her death in that land which gave
him life.

On one of the last evenings that I was in Naples, I crossed
the Largo del Castello. The facade of the little theatre here
was covered with paintings, which portrayed the most attract-
ive scenes of the opera or farce that was to be performed
within. I went to Teatro del Fondo, where the company from
St. Carlo performed opera. This evening it was " Norma."
Miss Kemble, whose name is praised in the newspapers, took
the part of Norma.

Had England given a living one for the dead ? Miss Kem-
ble sang the Neapolitans sat still, quite still. I think they
mourned.

Malibran-Garcia is dead 1



XX.

A PROSPECT FROM MY WINDOW IN NAPLES.

IT is Piazza Florentina we see a place just as broad as a
common street with us in the North, and the length is in pro-



A PROSPECT FROM MY WINDOW JN NAPLES.

portion to the breadth. Opposite to this, and close by a nar-
row crooked street, extends the facade of a little church, over
the open entrance to which the neighboring dames have hung
all their clothes out to dry, from the mysteries which should
not be seen, to the variegated gowns that should be seen.
Two young priests reading their book of the Evangelists, walk
up and down the entrance hall. Outside sits an old woman
selling money. She is the poor man's money-changer ; the
open place is her office ; the little table, whose leaf is a box
with brass wires across, is her cash chest ; and therein lie the
small coins which she, for a percentage, sells for the larger
ones. But the trade does not answer well. Close by her
stands a fruit shop, variegated like a picture cut out of an
ABC book, with oranges and lemons. The picture above
the door, where Madonna quenches the thirst of souls in pur-
gatory, is a very suitable sign. The whole place is paved
with broad lava stones ; the poor horses cannot keep their
footing, and are therefore beaten amidst screams and shouts.
Not less than sixteen shoemakers sit and sew there to the
left ; the two nearest the door have already lighted their can-
dles ; they pull the cap off that poor boy, and throw oranges
at him ; he seems to protest against their being applied exter-
nally. In all the houses, the ground-floors are without win-
dows, but with broad, open shop doors. Outside one they
are roasting coffee, outside another they are boiling a soup of
chestnuts and bread, and the man has many customers. Fel-
lows dressed in rags eat out of broken pots. In the highest
stories of the houses each window has its balcony, or else it
goes along the whole story, and has a flourishing garden, in
which are large tubs, with orange and lemon-trees. The
ripe fruit amongst the green leaves shines like the Hesperian
fruit. An Englishman, in his dressing-gown, has his rocking-
chair out there. Now the chair falls backward, and the
Briton strikes the stars with his proud head. But far above
the church and houses rises the rock of St. Elmo, with its
fortress ; the evening sun shines on the white walls, towers,
and telegraph. Now the sun is down and the bells ring the
Ave Maria. People stream into the church ; the lamps
within shine through the windows. The tavern keeper puts
lights in his white paper lantern ; the shoemakers have each



128 A POET'S BAZAAR.

his lamp , it is a complete illumination. The little old woman
shuts up her money shop, and her boy lights her home with a
candle in a paper bottle. There is song in the church, and
there are noises in the streets ; they harmonize strangely to-
gether. But what is that ? There is a procession coming
from the narrow street White figures, each with a large can-
dle in his hand ; four men likewise in long white frocks, with
hoods over their heads, bear on their shoulders a bier with
red drapery ; a young girl dressed like a bride, with a veil
and wreath of white roses around her brow, lies on the bier.
Every one takes his hat off for the dead, and the shoemakers
kneel.

The procession is now in the church, and the same noise
is heard in the streets as before.

That little square is a faithful picture of this large Naples j
yes, a very true one ; for the poet sat at his window, and drew
every feature of what he saw below.

Toward midnight we will once more look out and see what
passes. All is still in the square ; not a light is to be seen
except that dim lamp before the image of Madonna in the
entrance hall of the church. Now there are footsteps. Some
one strikes his stick on the pavement. It is a merry lad ; he
goes past, and sings of La Figlia del regimcnto, with all his
heart, and with a fine voice " viva la gioja I " and he goes to
find it ; his warm blood, and his glowing thoughts tell him
where it is to be found. Still many instruments join in. The
whole place is transformed into an orchestra ; a manly bass
voice sings a bravura ! they bring a serenade to the beauteous
one ! Hear how fine it is : " Te voglio bene assai/" Will the
window not open ? Will she not step out into the balcony ?
No, not she ! All is still in every house ; the musicians
depart, and the square is again empty 1 A shadow moves
along the house ; some few notes sound from the guitar, but
no song ! All is still within ; yet another touch of the guitar,
and the street door opens quite gently. The young lover
glides in! " Fclicissima notte /" "Good-night, and sleep
well ! " we say in the North, and it is a very good wish !
He who sleeps commits no sin. The Italians, on the con-
trary, say : " Felicissima notte I " and the southern sun glows
in this "good-night ! "



A NEAPOLITAN CORRICOLO. I2Q



XXI.

A NEAPOLITAN CORRICOLO.

ONE must see it in its flight ; one must see it packed with
persons, above and below, before and behind. It is a little
mass of human beings, who roll forward on two large carriage
wheels drawn by a poor, jaded hack so hung round with plates
and tassels, bells and pictures of saints, that it might well
serve the purpose of a wandering sign for a broker's shop.

The cabriolet whirls past us, over the broad lava-stone
paved street. What sort of company is that ? What are they
thinking of?

The driver with the large pea-jacket slung over his shoulder,
and with half-naked brown arm, curses in his heart the steam
carriage which, light as a swallow, shoots down the road to
Portici, past green vineyards, shining villas, and rocking boats.

There sit two ladies close by his side ; the one has a very
large infant ; she handles it like a package without value.
Their thoughts are in the church : " St. Joseph clothes the
naked," they come from thence. Woolen and linen, frocks
and jackets are given to St. Joseph, Madonna, and Bambino ;
the whole church was hung with good clothes ; it was a fine
sight ! A complete shop ! and next day the clothes are to be
given out.

" I wonder who will get that splendid red frock with the
large puffs and broad flounce ? " See, that is worth having
in one's thoughts.

On the seat, besides the coachman, the two ladies, and the
infant, is a respectable man : he generally stands by the door
of Museo Borbonico, and earns a trifle by taking care of the
sticks and umbrellas for the many strangers who go there daily
to see the splendid statues, paintings, and exhumed articles.
He has just now got it into his head that most of the strangers
in the galleries might be likened to auctioneers, who only go
about and look, that they may have every piece written down
in their catalogue. There's a thought !

Besides the coachman, the two ladies, the infant, and the re-
spectable man, there is not room for more on the vehicle ; but
9



'30



A POET'S BAZAAR.



yet there sits another, a young lad, with a face so brown and
handsome, such a genuine Neapolitan one ! what cou Id not
one do in the North with his eyes ! However, he does not sit
well, and has therefore laid his arm on one of the Signora's
shoulders ; but Signora is somewhat old. He looks to one
side, and thinks of the grotto of Posilippo, the ancient road
which goes through the mountain, under gardens and villas,
a road where it would be eternal night if lamps did not burn
within.

He lately passed through it ; carriages whirled past him ;
a herd of goats, all with bells about their necks, bleated
aloud who could hear anything ? And into the bargain
there came an Englishman riding at full trot : who could help
being perplexed ? and such was the case with a poor girl.
She sprang quite frightened into the arms of our young lad ;
she did not intend to do so ; but what will one not do in a
fright ! The lamp shone right on her face, and that face was
beautiful ; so the lad kissed her, he is now thinking of that
kiss and that face ; and that is the reason he looks so glad.

The coachman, the two Signoras, the infant, the respectable
man, and the lad, too many for one seat, yet there sits an-
other on it, a stout monk ; but how he sits the Lord only
knows ; and what he thinks that I dare not say ! He has
a prodigiously large umbrella with him ; he is goodness itself:
he holds the infant whilst the lady loosens her neckerchief;
but now positively no more can be accommodated, and there-
fore that half grown lad stands up before the party, whilst
his little brother sits at his feet and dangles his thin legs
against the horse's tail. The two boys belong to the theatre ;
that is to say, the children's theatre or puppet show, where
they perform tragedies and ballets. The two boys speak in
female voices ; the one is to act the part of Queen Dido this
evening and the other her sister Anna ; and so they are think-
ing about it.

Behind the vehicle are two fellows ; I think they each stand
on a stick, for that little bit of board stuck out behind is occu-
pied by an old fisherman who rides backward, and has his
eyes and thoughts turned toward a sedan chair in which sits
a lady, dressed out and quite stiff, with tinsel and rosettes on



DEPARTURE FROM ITALY.

her head. She is a midwife they are carrying across the
street : yes, she certainly sits much more comfortably than
he does. ^

One of the fellows beside him is a sort of messenger
we will therefore not enter into his thoughts ; the other is a
genius of a pickpocket : his thoughts are just now fixed on that
red handkerchief peeping out of a pedestrian's pocket. The
fellow is vexed at his ride ; it will cost him two small coins,
and that handkerchief.

See, now there cannot be any more, neither before nor be-
hind, neither above nor below. I say below ! for there we
have not yet looked, and there are a living turkey, and a man !
Yes, in that swinging net under the vehicle are a turkey and
a ragged fellow ; his head and legs stick outside the net ; he
has only shirt and trousers on, but he is of a strong, healthy
appearance. He is extremely well pleased and he has noth-
ing to think about !

See, that is a Neapolitan corricolo !



xxn.

DEPARTURE FROM ITALY.

I.
A GLANCE AT MYSELF.

IT was on the i$th of March, 1841. Portmanteau and trav-
elling-bag were packed, locked, and standing in the middle of
the room : the porter came up the stairs as soon as they were
ready, to take them away. I was about to leave Naples and
Italy, and I was glad of it. How mankind changes !

When I left this land before, I was inwardly grieved and
sorrowful ; but then it was homeward, toward the North.
Now, on the contrary, it was to Greece, and the East.

My readers will pardon my dwelling for a few moments on
my own person, but it will only be whilst the porter bears my
luggage down the stairs.

I have previously given sketches of Italy, which, I am told.



132 A POET'S BAZAAR.

almost breathe of this land's sunlight and beauty. Now, on
the contrary, many of these pictures are dashed with strong
shadows ; but they are as I saw Italy at the time ; the odor
of freshness and newness was gone. The winter was un-
usually severe, and I myself was both bodily and mentally ill.
Here in Naples, but a few days ago, fever raged in my blood.
I was, perhaps, near death. I believe the grim tyrant looked
through the door at me, but it was not yet time ; he went
away, and the goddess of health stood where he had stood.
The spring came just as suddenly ; the snow on the moun-
tains around wasted away, and the sea was clear and blue.

A new journey perhaps a new life was to begin. This
last hour was transition's link.



IL

LEONIDAS.

The French war-steamer Leonidas, Captain Lorin com-
mander, lay in the harbor of Naples. My friend and fellow-
traveller, Mr. H. P. Hoist, 1 accompanied me to the vessel.
Everything on board appeared foreign to me. I myself was
foreign to them all. A sick Turk lay on some mats, which
they had spread out on the coal-sacks ; close by him sat a
figure in a wadded green caftan and a white turban, who,
during the last few days, had attracted the public attention in
Naples by his oriental dress ; he was, as I afterwards heard,
a Persian from Herat. One passenger after another came on
board : Americans and Italian monks, French ladies and gen-
tlemen, people from all parts of the world, but none from the
North, or from its brother land, Germany.

The signal pipe sounded to clear the vessel. Hoist bade
me farewell ! It was as if I were to hear a Danish voice for
the last time, as if my native land and all my dear friends
spoke this " farewell ! " Now for the first time it appeared
to me that I was going into the wide world.

I stood by the bulwark of the vessel ; my eye followed the

1 Mr. Hoist is a Danish poet of some celebrity. Trans.



DEPARTURE FROM ITALY. 133

boat, which directed its course with my friend toward the land.
Hats were mutually waved. He called out " farewell " once
more from the shore.

The anchor was weighed ; everything was clear on board,
and yet we lay still. All the passports were forgotten, and an
officer was obliged to go on shore for them. We lay waiting
for half an hour.

Whilst we are waiting, I will make my readers acquainted
with the arrangements and conveniences of a French war-
steamer, as far as I can recollect them. The deck itself
formed a little street; above the nedder, and hanging over
the water, was a small, pretty house for the captain, in which
was a saloon. Paintings and sailing charts hung on the walls ;
long curtains fluttered at the open windows, and between these
stood divans, statues, and a piano-forte. It was not only com-
fortable, but elegant. Two other wooden houses, each with
its cabins for the rest of the officers, adjoined that of the
captain's. On the little open space without stood the helms-
man at the wheel. An hour-glass and a large handsome
clock were close by him ; the cabin-boy struck the hours and
quarters on a large metal bell, which could be heard over the
whole ship.

Before the wheel was a flight of stairs covered with carpet,
^ith a cast iron balustrade, leading down into the chief cabin, '
where the ladies had their own pretty saloon and separate
state rooms ; the gentlemen had each his own room ; and
there was a large splendid saloon, used also as a dining-room.
Handsome mirrors shone on the bright, polished, inlaid walls ;
polished marble columns supported the roof, and there were a
piano, a library, engravings, and newspapers.

The machinery occupied the middle part of :he vessel ;
above this, on the deck, were erected wooden houses, resem-
bling the officers'; a few steps led up to each door, and here
the steward, steersman, cook, and purveyor had each his berth.
Here was a larder, a wine-cellar, and the Lord knows what
else ; behind these houses was a sort of balcony : it extended
from both sides of the ship over the water, which we could
see through the open railings ; and here it was, during the
voyage, that they washed potatoes, clothes, and vessels of all



A fOT'S BAZAAR.

kinds. They were, as one may say, the two back-yards of
the ship.

The galley stood in the middle of the deck. It was a
complete house of cast-iron, and quite filled with pots, kettles,
saucepans, and all sorts of kitchen utensils. Here was roast-
ing, boiling, and frying !

Close by this, a flight of stairs led down into the second
cabin, which consisted of a fine large eating-room, which was
also a sleeping chamber. In the side rooms there was accom-
modation for from four to eight persons. The stairs leading
down into the third cabin were in the forepart of the vessel.
They were somewhat steep ; but when we once got down them,
we found a light, comfortable room. The divans ranged along
the walls served as sleeping places.

The fourth place was on deck, and it was incredibly cheap.
For one rix-dollar, Danish (about half a crown English), a
man may be accommodated here, and be carried several hun
dred miles. In the East, even the better class of Turks
choose this department of the vessel.

Here in the North we cannot form any idea of the comfort
and cheapness of these Mediterranean steam-vessels. The
Americans on board, as I afterwards learned, knew how to
value the treatment they received ; but not as I did. They
spoke of the swiftness of their vessels, and the great luxury
on board. " In twelve days," said they, " we have gone from
America to Europe."

It was fine weather, and there was gayety on board. A
theatre was constructed in the large cabin, and comedies were
performed three evenings during the passage over the ocean.
They were vaudevilles by Scribe, and some of the officers
played the ladies' parts. The orchestra consisted of eight
persons ; the audience partook of ices and punch ; the per-
formers were applauded, and called out ; and all this on the
wide ocean !

Grateful was I that the French steamer could offer such
recreations.

After waiting a long time, the officer who had been sent for
the passports returned. The steam whistled no longer out of
the blow-pipe ; the command was given, and we shot our way



THE STEAMER'S PASSAGE,



'35



out of Naples harbor, which, refracting the sun's rays, was as
if filled with floating lemon and orange peel.

We were not two miles from land when the vessel stopped.
Something was broken in the machinery, but we had a smithy
on board. It was soon in order, and again we were on our
way.

Addio Napoli ! a rivedercil



XXIII.
THE STEAMER'S PASSAGE.

A POET sings, because, like the bird, he cannot help it :
something swells in his breast, and in his thoughts. The
song will out : it spreads like the light, it rises like the waves.
But very often Nature places a leaf of her great music-book
before him, and it is a challenge to sing and then he sings
from her notes.

Naples and the whole coast lay like a large piece of music
before me a song without words.

" It is sweet to fly over the sea ! "

Naples, thou white, sunlit city ! The swarms of beings
with song and shout flow like streaming lava through thy
streets ; we hear the sounds ; town after town winds like a
serpent about the bay ; Naples is this serpent's head, and SL
Elmo the crown it bears.

" It is sweet to fly over the sea ! "

Heavy clouds envelop the top of Vesuvius ; they hang as
far down as the hermit's cell, but fire burns within the moun-
tain ; it burns far under the sea, as it burns in the middle of
our ship, and in my heart ; everything is a . volcano i See,
the steam carriage darts along the road by the gulf, like a
fiery rocket. There, between the orange groves, lies Sor-
rento : the pine by the sea shadows Tasso's house. The
rocks stand out in the sea like petrified clouds. The moun-
tain goat springs about the naked promontory. Capri, I greet
thee, thou adventurous island ! I remember thy palm-trees
under the wild rocks ; I remember thy strange azure-blue



136 A POET'S BAZAAR.

grotto, where the sea-foam shines like roses, where the stones
have colors like a winter sky in the North : the sea is a fire.
The ass walks over a mosaic floor on the top of the rock, the
last remains of Tiberius's magnificent saloons. The hermit
kneels here in silent solitude. Capri, isle of reminiscences,
we rush past thee. The sun goes down, and night advances
with her glittering host ! The waves break ; each wave's top
is like glowing embers ; the water in our wake sheds light,
and the sky gives light !

" It is sweet to fly over the sea ! "

Now it is night ! The ship-boy calls. " Awake ! awake !
Stromboli glows ! Come and see ! " Wrapped up in cloaks,
we stand by the gunwale ; we look in the dark over the sea
which shines with phosphoric lustre ; red, green, and blue
rockets rise in the horizon ; they now pour forth like flames
that is Stromboli, the burning island that arose from the
depths of the sea. It is a child of Etna ; she came with her
sisters from the sea's depths out of her mother-country. The
oriental tales say, that on Sindbad's voyage the sailors disem-
barked on the back of a fish, which they mistook for a sand-
bank ; they made a fire on it, and the fish dived again into
the sea. Each of the Lipari islands was also a fish of the
abyss ; men erect their dwellings, and live on its back, and
before they know it, it dives down with them.

We approached it nearer and nearer 1 The stars glisten,
the water is afire !

" It is sweet to fly over the sea 1 "



XXIV.

SICILY.
A COAST PANORAMA.

A FEW summers ago I made the so-called Gotha-Canal voy-
age through Sweden. Out of one part of this we issue into
the Baltic, pass a number of sunken rocks, and through an
archipelago of islands, some of which are so large that they
afford pasture for whole droves of cattle, or bear a small fir



SICILY. 137

wood ; others are but naked stones, against which the waves
break. We took a pilot at these islands, and all the passen-
gers had to divide themselves, so that there were about equal
numbers on each side of the vessel. Large blocks of wood
hung over the gunwale to resist a probable shock against the
rocks, and the steamer had now to pass a whirlpool. A mo-
mentary silence and attention reigned on deck. The water
spouted up before the cutwater ; it was as if an unseen hand
seized the ship and swung it about. The, rocks lay behind
us ; we had passed over the whirlpool. I have not read in
any geography of such an eddy under the Swedish coast ; but
on the contrary, the whirlpools of Sicily were well known to
me. Scylla and Charybdis are far-famed names.

Our ship glided away over the eddying Charybdis ; we
had no foreboding of it. Where is that wild maelstrom?
They pointed to the sea close by where we sailed ; but there
was no particular motion of the waves to be seen. Where is
Scylla? "Yes, she still lives." They pointed to a little jut-
ting rock with a dark, ruinous tower, on the wild coast of
Calabria. There was a heavy surf here, though the sea was
tolerably calm. Blackish-gray rocks jutted forth, against which
;he waves dashed with angry roar. It was Scylla's howling
dog we saw. I think they may be able to hear it in a storm
from the sandy isthmus of Messina. We approached it ;
toward the northwest lay the Lipari islands, bounding the
horizon.

Sicily, thou mighty tripod in the deep, clear, air-covered
sea, we greet thee ! Thou vine-leaf-wreathed land, where gods
have lived, where heroes have fought, by whose coasts the
fairy Morgana still builds her airy castles, we greet thee !

We glided past the light-house, situated on the extreme
edge of a shoal of sand, where there is a picturesque fishing
village joining the suburbs of Messina ; it was as if we saw a
fleet sailing here : a number of ships were cruising about ; fish-
ermen hauled in their nets and their boats ; children were
playing on the beach. Calabria's rocky coast had a strange
green and red- brown appearance, quite different from the rocks
in the north of Italy and Switzerland ; they appeared to be
moss-grown lava blocks ; the Sicilian rocks resembled petrified



138 A POET'S BAZAAR.

gigantic bubbles. It looked as if the island had boiled up
from the deep, and been suddenly transformed into stone.
Heavy clouds rested on the mountain, as if they were the
vapors of this ebullition. Etna was not to be seen.

Behind us lay the bay and Messina itself with its yellow-



Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 12 of 31)