The Path to Rome
by Hilaire Belloc
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What! here are we with the jolly world of God all round us, able to sing, to draw, to paint, to hammer and build, to sail, to ride horses, to run, to leap; having for our splendid inheritance love in youth and memory in old age, and we are to take one miserable little faculty, our one-legged, knock-kneed, gimcrack, purblind, rough-skinned, underfed, and perpetually irritated and grumpy intellect, or analytical curiosity rather (a diseased appetite), and let it swell till it eats up every other function? Away with such foolery.

LECTOR. When shall we get on to...

AUCTOR. Wait a moment. I say, away with such foolery. Note that pedants lose all proportion. They never can keep sane in a discussion. They will go wild on matters they are wholly unable to judge, such as Armenian Religion or the Politics of Paris or what not. Never do they use one of those three phrases which keep a man steady and balance his mind, I mean the words (1) After all it is not my business. (2) Tut! tut! You don't say so! and (3) Credo in Unum Deum Patrem Omnipotentem, Factorem omnium visibilium atque invisibilium; in which last there is a power of synthesis that can jam all their analytical dust-heap into such a fine, tight, and compact body as would make them stare to see. I understand that they need six months' holiday a year. Had I my way they should take twelve, and an extra day on leap years.

LECTOR. Pray, pray return to the woman at the inn.

AUCTOR. I will, and by this road: to say that on the day of Judgement, when St Michael weighs souls in his scales, and the wicked are led off by the Devil with a great rope, as you may see them over the main porch of Notre Dame (I will heave a stone after them myself I hope), all the souls of the pedants together will not weigh as heavy and sound as the one soul of this good woman at the inn.

She put food before me and wine. The wine was good, but in the food was some fearful herb or other I had never tasted before—a pure spice or scent, and a nasty one. One could taste nothing else, and it was revolting; but I ate it for her sake.

Then, very much refreshed, I rose, seized my great staff, shook myself and said, 'Now it is about noon, and I am off for the frontier.'

At this she made a most fearful clamour, saying that it was madness, and imploring me not to think of it, and running out fetched from the stable a tall, sad, pale-eyed man who saluted me profoundly and told me that he knew more of the mountains than any one for miles. And this by asking many afterwards I found out to be true. He said that he had crossed the Nufenen and the Gries whenever they could be crossed since he was a child, and that if I attempted it that day I should sleep that night in Paradise. The clouds on the mountain, the soft snow recently fallen, the rain that now occupied the valleys, the glacier on the Gries, and the pathless snow in the mist on the Nufenen would make it sheer suicide for him, an experienced guide, and for me a worse madness. Also he spoke of my boots and wondered at my poor coat and trousers, and threatened me with intolerable cold.

It seems that the books I had read at home, when they said that the Nufenen had no snow on it, spoke of a later season of the year; it was all snow now, and soft snow, and hidden by a full mist in such a day from the first third of the ascent. As for the Gries, there was a glacier on the top which needed some kind of clearness in the weather. Hearing all this I said I would remain—but it was with a heavy heart. Already I felt a shadow of defeat over me. The loss of time was a thorn. I was already short of cash, and my next money was Milan. My return to England was fixed for a certain date, and stronger than either of these motives against delay was a burning restlessness that always takes men when they are on the way to great adventures.

I made him promise to wake me next morning at three o'clock, and, short of a tempest, to try and get me across the Gries. As for the Nufenen and Crystalline passes which I had desired to attempt, and which were (as I have said) the straight line to Rome, he said (and he was right), that let alone the impassability of the Nufenen just then, to climb the Crystal Mountain in that season would be as easy as flying to the moon. Now, to cross the Nufenen alone, would simply land me in the upper valley of the Ticino, and take me a great bend out of my way by Bellinzona. Hence my bargain that at least he should show me over the Gries Pass, and this he said, if man could do it, he would do the next day; and I, sending my boots to be cobbled (and thereby breaking another vow), crept up to bed, and all afternoon read the school-books of the children. They were in French, from lower down the valley, and very Genevese and heretical for so devout a household. But the Genevese civilization is the standard for these people, and they combat the Calvinism of it with missions, and have statues in their rooms, not to speak of holy water stoups.

The rain beat on my window, the clouds came lower still down the mountain. Then (as is finely written in the Song of Roland), 'the day passed and the night came, and I slept.' But with the coming of the small hours, and with my waking, prepare yourselves for the most extraordinary and terrible adventure that befell me out of all the marvels and perils of this pilgrimage, the most momentous and the most worthy of perpetual record, I think, of all that has ever happened since the beginning of the world.

At three o'clock the guide knocked at my door, and I rose and came out to him. We drank coffee and ate bread. We put into our sacks ham and bread, and he white wine and I brandy. Then we set out. The rain had dropped to a drizzle, and there was no wind. The sky was obscured for the most part, but here and there was a star. The hills hung awfully above us in the night as we crossed the spongy valley. A little wooden bridge took us over the young Rhone, here only a stream, and we followed a path up into the tributary ravine which leads to the Nufenen and the Gries. In a mile or two it was a little lighter, and this was as well, for some weeks before a great avalanche had fallen, and we had to cross it gingerly. Beneath the wide cap of frozen snow ran a torrent roaring. I remembered Colorado, and how I had crossed the Arkansaw on such a bridge as a boy. We went on in the uneasy dawn. The woods began to show, and there was a cross where a man had slipped from above that very April and been killed. Then, most ominous and disturbing, the drizzle changed to a rain, and the guide shook his head and said it would be snowing higher up. We went on, and it grew lighter. Before it was really day (or else the weather confused and darkened the sky), we crossed a good bridge, built long ago, and we halted at a shed where the cattle lie in the late summer when the snow is melted. There we rested a moment.

But on leaving its shelter we noticed many disquieting things. The place was a hollow, the end of the ravine—a bowl, as it were; one way out of which is the Nufenen, and the other the Gries.

Here it is in a sketch map. The heights are marked lighter and lighter, from black in the valleys to white in the impassable mountains. E is where we stood, in a great cup or basin, having just come up the ravine B. C is the Italian valley of the Tosa, and the neck between it and E is the Gries. D is the valley of the Ticino, and the neck between E and it is the Nufenen. A is the Crystal Mountain. You may take the necks or passes to be about 8000, and the mountains 10,000 or 11,000 feet above the sea.

We noticed, I say, many disquieting things. First, all, that bowl or cup below the passes was a carpet of snow, save where patches of black water showed, and all the passes and mountains, from top to bottom, were covered with very thick snow; the deep surface of it soft and fresh fallen. Secondly, the rain had turned into snow. It was falling thickly all around. Nowhere have I more perceived the immediate presence of great Death. Thirdly, it was far colder, and we felt the beginning of a wind. Fourthly, the clouds had come quite low down.

The guide said it could not be done, but I said we must attempt it. I was eager, and had not yet felt the awful grip of the cold. We left the Nufenen on our left, a hopeless steep of new snow buried in fog, and we attacked the Gries. For half-an-hour we plunged on through snow above our knees, and my thin cotton clothes were soaked. So far the guide knew we were more or less on the path, and he went on and I panted after him. Neither of us spoke, but occasionally he looked back to make sure I had not dropped out.

The snow began to fall more thickly, and the wind had risen somewhat. I was afraid of another protest from the guide, but he stuck to it well, and I after him, continually plunging through soft snow and making yard after yard upwards. The snow fell more thickly and the wind still rose.

We came to a place which is, in the warm season, an alp; that is, a slope of grass, very steep but not terrifying; having here and there sharp little precipices of rock breaking it into steps, but by no means (in summer) a matter to make one draw back. Now, however, when everything was still Arctic it was a very different matter. A sheer steep of snow whose downward plunge ran into the driving storm and was lost, whose head was lost in the same mass of thick cloud above, a slope somewhat hollowed and bent inwards, had to be crossed if we were to go any farther; and I was terrified, for I knew nothing of climbing. The guide said there was little danger, only if one slipped one might slide down to safety, or one might (much less probably) get over rocks and be killed. I was chattering a little with cold; but as he did not propose a return, I followed him. The surface was alternately slabs of frozen snow and patches of soft new snow. In the first he cut steps, in the second we plunged, and once I went right in and a mass of snow broke off beneath me and went careering down the slope. He showed me how to hold my staff backwards as he did his alpenstock, and use it as a kind of brake in case I slipped.

We had been about twenty minutes crawling over that wall of snow and ice; and it was more and more apparent that we were in for danger. Before we had quite reached the far side, the wind was blowing a very full gale and roared past our ears. The surface snow was whirring furiously like dust before it: past our faces and against them drove the snow-flakes, cutting the air: not falling, but making straight darts and streaks. They seemed like the form of the whistling wind; they blinded us. The rocks on the far side of the slope, rocks which had been our goal when we set out to cross it, had long ago disappeared in the increasing rush of the blizzard. Suddenly as we were still painfully moving on, stooping against the mad wind, these rocks loomed up over as large as houses, and we saw them through the swarming snow-flakes as great hulls are seen through a fog at sea. The guide crouched under the lee of the nearest; I came up close to him and he put his hands to my ear and shouted to me that nothing further could be done—he had so to shout because in among the rocks the hurricane made a roaring sound, swamping the voice.

I asked how far we were from the summit. He said he did not know where we were exactly, but that we could not be more than 800 feet from it. I was but that from Italy and I would not admit defeat. I offered him all I had in money to go on, but it was folly in me, because if I had had enough to tempt him and if he had yielded we should both have died. Luckily it was but a little sum. He shook his head. He would not go on, he broke out, for all the money there was in the world. He shouted me to eat and drink, and so we both did.

Then I understood his wisdom, for in a little while the cold began to seize me in my thin clothes. My hands were numb, my face already gave me intolerable pain, and my legs suffered and felt heavy. I learnt another thing (which had I been used to mountains I should have known), that it was not a simple thing to return. The guide was hesitating whether to stay in this rough shelter, or to face the chances of the descent. This terror had not crossed my mind, and I thought as little of it as I could, needing my courage, and being near to breaking down from the intensity of the cold.

It seems that in a tourmente (for by that excellent name do the mountain people call such a storm) it is always a matter of doubt whether to halt or go back. If you go back through it and lose your way, you are done for. If you halt in some shelter, it may go on for two or three days, and then there is an end of you.

After a little he decided for a return, but he told me honestly what the chances were, and my suffering from cold mercifully mitigated my fear. But even in that moment, I felt in a confused but very conscious way that I was defeated. I had crossed so many great hills and rivers, and pressed so well on my undeviating arrow-line to Rome, and I had charged this one great barrier manfully where the straight path of my pilgrimage crossed the Alps—and I had failed! Even in that fearful cold I felt it, and it ran through my doubt of return like another and deeper current of pain. Italy was there, just above, right to my hand. A lifting of a cloud, a little respite, and every downward step would have been towards the sunlight. As it was, I was being driven back northward, in retreat and ashamed. The Alps had conquered me.

Let us always after this combat their immensity and their will, and always hate the inhuman guards that hold the gates of Italy, and the powers that lie in wait for men on those high places. But now I know that Italy will always stand apart. She is cut off by no ordinary wall, and Death has all his army on her frontiers.

Well, we returned. Twice the guide rubbed my hands with brandy, and once I had to halt and recover for a moment, failing and losing my hold. Believe it or not, the deep footsteps of our ascent were already quite lost and covered by the new snow since our halt, and even had they been visible, the guide would not have retraced them. He did what I did not at first understand, but what I soon saw to be wise. He took a steep slant downward over the face of the snow-slope, and though such a pitch of descent a little unnerved me, it was well in the end. For when we had gone down perhaps 900 feet, or a thousand, in perpendicular distance, even I, half numb and fainting, could feel that the storm was less violent. Another two hundred, and the flakes could be seen not driving in flashes past, but separately falling. Then in some few minutes we could see the slope for a very long way downwards quite clearly; then, soon after, we saw far below us the place where the mountain-side merged easily into the plain of that cup or basin whence we had started.

When we saw this, the guide said to me, 'Hold your stick thus, if you are strong enough, and let yourself slide.' I could just hold it, in spite of the cold. Life was returning to me with intolerable pain. We shot down the slope almost as quickly as falling, but it was evidently safe to do so, as the end was clearly visible, and had no break or rock in it.

So we reached the plain below, and entered the little shed, and thence looking up, we saw the storm above us; but no one could have told it for what it was. Here, below, was silence, and the terror and raging above seemed only a great trembling cloud occupying the mountain. Then we set our faces down the ravine by which we had come up, and so came down to where the snow changed to rain. When we got right down into the valley of the Rhone, we found it all roofed with cloud, and the higher trees were white with snow, making a line like a tide mark on the slopes of the hills.

I re-entered 'The Bear', silent and angered, and not accepting the humiliation of that failure. Then, having eaten, I determined in equal silence to take the road like any other fool; to cross the Furka by a fine highroad, like any tourist, and to cross the St Gothard by another fine highroad, as millions had done before me, and not to look heaven in the face again till I was back after my long detour, on the straight road again for Rome.

But to think of it! I who had all that planned out, and had so nearly done it! I who had cut a path across Europe like a shaft, and seen so many strange places!—now to have to recite all the litany of the vulgar; Bellinzona, Lugano, and this and that, which any railway travelling fellow can tell you. Not till Como should I feel a man again...

Indeed it is a bitter thing to have to give up one's sword.

I had not the money to wait; my defeat had lowered me in purse as well as in heart. I started off to enter by the ordinary gates—not Italy even, but a half-Italy, the canton of the Ticino. It was very hard.

This book is not a tragedy, and I will not write at any length of such pain. That same day, in the latter half of it, I went sullenly over the Furka; exactly as easy a thing as going up St James' Street and down Piccadilly. I found the same storm on its summit, but on a highroad it was a different affair. I took no short cuts. I drank at all the inns—at the base, half-way up, near the top, and at the top. I told them, as the snow beat past, how I had attacked and all but conquered the Gries that wild morning, and they took me for a liar; so I became silent even within my own mind. I looked sullenly at the white ground all the way. And when on the far side I had got low enough to be rid of the snow and wind and to be in the dripping rain again, I welcomed the rain, and let it soothe like a sodden friend my sodden uncongenial mind.

I will not write of Hospenthal. It has an old tower, and the road to it is straight and hideous. Much I cared for the old tower! The people of the inn (which I chose at random) cannot have loved me much.

I will not write of the St Gothard. Get it out of a guide-book. I rose when I felt inclined; I was delighted to find it still raining. A dense mist above the rain gave me still greater pleasure. I had started quite at my leisure late in the day, and I did the thing stolidly, and my heart was like a dully-heated mass of coal or iron because I was acknowledging defeat. You who have never taken a straight line and held it, nor seen strange men and remote places, you do not know what it is to have to go round by the common way.

Only in the afternoon, and on those little zig-zags which are sharper than any other in the Alps (perhaps the road is older), something changed.

A warm air stirred the dense mist which had mercifully cut me off from anything but the mere road and from the contemplation of hackneyed sights.

A hint or memory of gracious things ran in the slight breeze, the wreaths of fog would lift a little for a few yards, and in their clearings I thought to approach a softer and more desirable world. I was soothed as though with caresses and when I began to see somewhat farther and felt a vigour and fulness in the outline of the Trees, I said to myself suddenly—

'I know what it is! It is the South, and a great part of my blood. They may call it Switzerland still, but I know now that I am in Italy, and this is the gate of Italy lying in groves.'

Then and on till evening I reconciled myself with misfortune, and when I heard again at Airolo the speech of civilized men, and saw the strong Latin eyes and straight forms of the Race after all those days of fog and frost and German speech and the north, my eyes filled with tears and I was as glad as a man come home again, and I could have kissed the ground.

The wine of Airolo and its songs, how greatly they refreshed me! To see men with answering eyes and to find a salute returned; the noise of careless mouths talking all together; the group at cards, and the laughter that is proper to mankind; the straight carriage of the women, and in all the people something erect and noble as though indeed they possessed the earth. I made a meal there, talking to all my companions left and right in a new speech of my own, which was made up, as it were, of the essence of all the Latin tongues, saying—

'Ha! Si jo a traversa li montagna no erat facile! Nenni! II san Gottardo? Nil est! pooh! poco! Ma hesterna jo ha voulu traversar in Val Bavona, e credi non ritornar, namfredo, fredo erat in alto! La tourmente ma prise...'

And so forth, explaining all fully with gestures, exaggerating, emphasizing, and acting the whole matter, so that they understood me without much error. But I found it more difficult to understand them, because they had a regular formed language with terminations and special words.

It went to my heart to offer them no wine, but a thought was in me of which you shall soon hear more. My money was running low, and the chief anxiety of a civilized man was spreading over my mind like the shadow of a cloud over a field of corn in summer. They gave me a number of 'good-nights', and at parting I could not forbear from boasting that I was a pilgrim on my way to Rome. This they repeated one to another, and one man told me that the next good halting-place was a town called Faido, three hours down the road. He held up three fingers to explain, and that was the last intercourse I had with the Airolans, for at once I took the road.

I glanced up the dark ravine which I should have descended had I crossed the Nufenen. I thought of the Val Bavona, only just over the great wall that held the west; and in one place where a rift (you have just seen its picture) led up to the summits of the hills I was half tempted to go back to Airolo and sleep and next morning to attempt a crossing. But I had accepted my fate on the Gries and the falling road also held me, and so I continued my way.

Everything was pleasing in this new valley under the sunlight that still came strongly from behind the enormous mountains; everything also was new, and I was evidently now in a country of a special kind. The slopes were populous, I had come to the great mother of fruits and men, and I was soon to see her cities and her old walls, and the rivers that glide by them. Church towers also repeated the same shapes up and up the wooded hills until the villages stopped at the line of the higher slopes and at the patches of snow. The houses were square and coloured; they were graced with arbours, and there seemed to be all around nothing but what was reasonable and secure, and especially no rich or poor.

I noticed all these things on the one side and the other till, not two hours from Airolo, I came to a step in the valley. For the valley of the Ticino is made up of distinct levels, each of which might have held a lake once for the way it is enclosed: and each level ends in high rocks with a gorge between them. Down this gorge the river tumbles in falls and rapids and the road picks its way down steeply, all banked and cut, and sometimes has to cross from side to side by a bridge, while the railway above one overcomes the sharp descent by running round into the heart of the hills through circular tunnels and coming out again far below the cavern where it plunged in. Then when all three—the river, the road, and the railway—- have got over the great step, a new level of the valley opens. This is the way the road comes into the south, and as I passed down to the lower valley, though it was darkening into evening, something melted out of the mountain air, there was content and warmth in the growing things, and I found it was a place for vineyards. So, before it was yet dark, I came into Faido, and there I slept, having at last, after so many adventures, crossed the threshold and occupied Italy.

Next day before sunrise I went out, and all the valley was adorned and tremulous with the films of morning.

Now all of you who have hitherto followed the story of this great journey, put out of your minds the Alps and the passes and the snows—postpone even for a moment the influence of the happy dawn and of that South into which I had entered, and consider only this truth, that I found myself just out of Faido on this blessed date of God with eight francs and forty centimes for my viaticum and temporal provision wherewith to accomplish the good work of my pilgrimage.

Now when you consider that coffee and bread was twopence and a penny for the maid, you may say without lying that I had left behind me the escarpment of the Alps and stood upon the downward slopes of the first Italian stream and at the summit of the entry road with eight francs ten centimes in my pocket—my body hearty and my spirit light, for the arriving sun shot glory into the sky. The air was keen, and a fresh day came radiant over the high eastern walls of the valley.

And what of that? Why, one might make many things of it. For instance, eight francs and ten centimes is a very good day's wages; it is a lot to spend in cab fares but little for a coupe. It is a heavy price for Burgundy but a song for Tokay. It is eighty miles third-class and more; it is thirty or less first-class; it is a flash in a train de luxe, and a mere fleabite as a bribe to a journalist. It would be enormous to give it to an apostle begging at a church door, but nothing to spend on luncheon.

Properly spent I can imagine it saving five or six souls, but I cannot believe that so paltry a sum would damn half an one.

Then, again, it would be a nice thing to sing about. Thus, if one were a modern fool one might write a dirge with 'Huit francs et dix centimes' all chanted on one low sad note, and coming in between brackets for a 'motif, and with a lot about autumn and Death—which last, Death that is, people nowadays seem to regard as something odd, whereas it is well known to be the commonest thing in the world. Or one might make the words the Backbone of a triolet, only one would have to split them up to fit it into the metre; or one might make it the decisive line in a sonnet; or one might make a pretty little lyric of it, to the tune of 'Madame la Marquise'—

'Huit francs et dix centimes, Tra la la, la la la.'

Or one might put it rhetorically, fiercely, stoically, finely, republicanly into the Heroics of the Great School. Thus—

HERNANI _(with indignation)... dans ces efforts sublimes_'Qu'avez vous a offrir?_'

RUY BLAS (simply) Huit francs et dix centimes!

Or finally (for this kind of thing cannot go on for ever), one might curl one's hair and dye it black, and cock a dirty slouch hat over one ear and take a guitar and sit on a flat stone by the roadside and cross one's legs, and, after a few pings and pongs on the strings, strike up a Ballad with the refrain—

Car j'ai toujours huit francs et dix centimes! a jocular, sub-sardonic, a triumphant refrain!

But all this is by the way; the point is, why was the eight francs and ten centimes of such importance just there and then?

For this reason, that I could get no more money before Milan; and I think a little reflection will show you what a meaning lies in that phrase. Milan was nearer ninety miles than eighty miles off. By the strict road it was over ninety. And so I was forced to consider and to be anxious, for how would this money hold out?

There was nothing for it but forced marches, and little prospect of luxuries. But could it be done?

I thought it could, and I reasoned this way.

'It is true I need a good deal of food, and that if a man is to cover great distances he must keep fit. It is also true that many men have done more on less. On the other hand, they were men who were not pressed for time—I am; and I do not know the habits of the country. Ninety miles is three good days; two very heavy days. Indeed, whether it can be done at all in two is doubtful. But it can be done in two days, two nights, and half the third day. So if I plan it thus I shall achieve it; namely, to march say forty-five miles or more to-day, and to sleep rough at the end of it. My food may cost me altogether three francs. I march the next day twenty-five to thirty, my food costing me another three francs. Then with the remaining two francs and ten centimes I will take a bed at the end of the day, and coffee and bread next morning, and will march the remaining twenty miles or less (as they may be) into Milan with a copper or two in my pocket. Then in Milan, having obtained my money, I will eat.'

So I planned with very careful and exact precision, but many accidents and unexpected things, diverting my plans, lay in wait for me among the hills.

And to cut a long story short, as the old sailor said to the young fool—

LECTOR. What did the old sailor say to the young fool?

AUCTOR. Why, the old sailor was teaching the young fool his compass, and he said—-

'Here we go from north, making round by west, and then by south round by east again to north. There are thirty-two points of the compass, namely, first these four, N., W., S., and E., and these are halved, making four more, viz., NW., S W., SE., and NE. I trust I make myself clear,' said the old sailor.

'That makes eight divisions, as we call them. So look smart and follow. Each of these eight is divided into two symbolically and symmetrically divided parts, as is most evident in the nomenclature of the same,' said the old sailor. 'Thus between N. and NE. is NNE., between NE. and E. is ENE., between E. and SE. is...'

'I see,' said the young fool.

The old sailor, frowning at him, continued—

'Smart you there. Heels together, and note you well. Each of these sixteen divisions is separated quite reasonably and precisely into two. Thus between N. and NNE. we get N. by E.,' said the old sailor; 'and between NNE. and NE. we get NE. by E., and between NE. and ENE. we get NE. by E.,' said the old sailor; 'and between ENE. and E. we get E. by N., and then between E. and ESE. we get...'

But here he noticed something dangerous in the young fool's eyes, and having read all his life Admiral Griles' 'Notes on Discipline', and knowing that discipline is a subtle bond depending 'not on force but on an attitude of the mind,' he continued—

'And so TO CUT A LONG STORY SHORT we come round to the north again.' Then he added, 'It is customary also to divide each of these points into quarters. Thus NNE. 3/4 E. signifies...'

But at this point the young fool, whose hands were clasped behind him and concealed a marlin-spike, up and killed the old sailor, and so rounded off this fascinating tale.

Well then, to cut a long story short, I had to make forced marches. With eight francs and ten centimes, and nearer ninety than eighty-five miles before the next relief, it was necessary to plan and then to urge on heroically. Said I to myself, 'The thing can be done quite easily. What is ninety miles? Two long days! Who cannot live on four francs a day? Why, lots of men do it on two francs a day.'

But my guardian angel said to me, 'You are an ass! Ninety miles is a great deal more than twice forty-five. Besides which' (said he) 'a great effort needs largeness and ease. Men who live on two francs a day or less are not men who attempt to march forty-five miles a day. Indeed, my friend, you are pushing it very close.'

'Well,' thought I, 'at least in such a glorious air, with such Hills all about one, and such a race, one can come to no great harm.'

But I knew within me that Latins are hard where money is concerned, and I feared for my strength. I was determined to push forward and to live on little. I filled my lungs and put on the spirit of an attempt and swung down the valley.

Alas! I may not linger on that charge, for if I did I should not give you any measure of its determination and rapidity. Many little places passed me off the road on the flanks of that valley, and mostly to the left. While the morning was yet young, I came to the packed little town of Bodio, and passed the eight franc limit by taking coffee, brandy, and bread. There also were a gentleman and a lady in a carriage who wondered where I was going, and I told them (in French) 'to Rome'. It was nine in the morning when I came to Biasca. The sun was glorious, and not yet warm: it was too early for a meal. They gave me a little cold meat and bread and wine, and seven francs stood out dry above the falling tide of my money.

Here at Biasca the valley took on a different aspect. It became wider and more of a countryside; the vast hills, receding, took on an appearance of less familiar majesty, and because the trend of the Ticino turned southerly some miles ahead the whole place seemed enclosed from the world. One would have said that a high mountain before me closed it in and rendered it unique and unknown, had not a wide cleft in the east argued another pass over the hills, and reminded me that there were various routes over the crest of the Alps.

Indeed, this hackneyed approach to Italy which I had dreaded and despised and accepted only after a defeat was very marvellous, and this valley of the Ticino ought to stand apart and be a commonwealth of its own like Andorra or the Gresivaudan: the noble garden of the Isere within the first gates of the Dauphine.

I was fatigued, and my senses lost acuteness. Still I noticed with delight the new character of the miles I pursued. A low hill just before me, jutting out apparently from the high western mountains, forbade me to see beyond it. The plain was alluvial, while copses and wood and many cultivated fields now found room where, higher up, had been nothing but the bed of a torrent with bare banks and strips of grass immediately above them; it was a place worthy of a special name and of being one lordship and a countryside. Still I went on towards that near boundary of the mountain spur and towards the point where the river rounded it, the great barrier hill before me still seeming to shut in the valley.

It was noon, or thereabouts, the heat was increasing (I did not feel it greatly, for I had eaten and drunk next to nothing), when, coming round the point, there opened out before me the great fan of the lower valley and the widening and fruitful plain through which the Ticino rolls in a full river to reach Lake Major, which is its sea.

Weary as I was, the vision of this sudden expansion roused me and made me forget everything except the sight before me. The valley turned well southward as it broadened. The Alps spread out on either side like great arms welcoming the southern day; the wholesome and familiar haze that should accompany summer dimmed the more distant mountains of the lakes and turned them amethystine, and something of repose and of distance was added to the landscape; something I had not seen for many days. There was room in that air and space for dreams and for many living men, for towns perhaps on the slopes, for the boats of happy men upon the waters, and everywhere for crowded and contented living. History might be in all this, and I remembered it was the entry and introduction of many armies. Singing therefore a song of Charlemagne, I swung on in a good effort to where, right under the sun, what seemed a wall and two towers on a sharp little hillock set in the bosom of the valley showed me Bellinzona. Within the central street of that city, and on its shaded side, I sank down upon a bench before the curtained door of a drinking booth and boasted that I had covered in that morning my twenty-five miles.

The woman of the place came out to greet me, and asked me a question. I did not catch it (for it was in a foreign language), but guessing her to mean that I should take something, I asked for vermouth, and seeing before me a strange door built of red stone, I drew it as I sipped my glass and the woman talked to me all the while in a language I could not understand. And as I drew I became so interested that I forgot my poverty and offered her husband a glass, and then gave another to a lounging man that had watched me at work, and so from less than seven francs my money fell to six exactly, and my pencil fell from my hand, and I became afraid.

'I have done a foolish thing,' said I to myself, 'and have endangered the success of my endeavour. Nevertheless, that cannot now be remedied, and I must eat; and as eating is best where one has friends I will ask a meal of this woman.'

Now had they understood French I could have bargained and chosen; as it was I had to take what they were taking, and so I sat with them as they all came out and ate together at the little table. They had soup and flesh, wine and bread, and as we ate we talked, not understanding each other, and laughing heartily at our mutual ignorance. And they charged me a franc, which brought my six francs down to five. But I, knowing my subtle duty to the world, put down twopence more, as I would have done anywhere else, for a pour boire; and so with four francs and eighty centimes left, and with much less than a third of my task accomplished I rose, now drowsy with the food and wine, and saluting them, took the road once more.

But as I left Bellinzona there was a task before me which was to bring my poverty to the test; for you must know that my map was a bad one, and on a very small scale, and the road from Bellinzona to Lugano has a crook in it, and it was essential to find a short cut. So I thought to myself, 'I will try to see a good map as cheaply as possible,' and I slunk off to the right into a kind of main square, and there I found a proud stationer's shop, such as would deal with rich men only, or tourists of the coarser and less humble kind. I entered with some assurance, and said in French—

'Sir, I wish to know the hills between here and Lugano, but I am too poor to buy a map. If you will let me look at one for a few moments, I will pay you what you think fit.'

The wicked stationer became like a devil for pride, and glaring at me, said—

'Look! Look for yourself. I do not take pence. I sell maps; I do not hire them!'

Then I thought, 'Shall I take a favour from such a man?' But I yielded, and did. I went up to the wall and studied a large map for some moments. Then as I left, I said to him—

'Sir, I shall always hold in remembrance the day on which you did me this signal kindness; nor shall I forget your courtesy and goodwill.'

And what do you think he did at that?

Why, he burst into twenty smiles, and bowed and seemed beatified, and said: 'Whatever I can do for my customers and for visitors to this town, I shall always be delighted to do. Pray, sir, will you not look at other maps for a moment?'

Now, why did he say this and grin happily like a gargoyle appeased? Did something in my accent suggest wealth? or was he naturally kindly? I do not know; but of this I am sure, one should never hate human beings merely on a first, nor on a tenth, impression. Who knows? This map-seller of Bellinzona may have been a good man; anyhow, I left him as rich as I had found him, and remembering that the true key to a forced march is to break the twenty-four hours into three pieces, and now feeling the extreme heat, I went out along the burning straight road until I found a border of grass and a hedge, and there, in spite of the dust and the continually passing carts, I lay at full length in the shade and fell into the sleep of men against whom there is no reckoning. Just as I forgot the world I heard a clock strike two.

I slept for hours beneath that hedge, and when I woke the air was no longer a trembling furnace, but everything about me was wrapped round as in a cloak of southern afternoon, and was still. The sun had fallen midway, and shone in steady glory through a haze that overhung Lake Major, and the wide luxuriant estuary of the vale. There lay before me a long straight road for miles at the base of high hills; then, far off, this road seemed to end at the foot of a mountain called, I believe, Ash Mount or Cinder Hill. But my imperfect map told me that here it went sharp round to the left, choosing a pass, and then at an angle went down its way to Lugano.

Now Lugano was not fifteen miles as the crow flies from where I stood, and I determined to cut off that angle by climbing the high hills just above me. They were wooded only on their slopes; their crest and much of their sides were a down-land of parched grass, with rocks appearing here and there. At the first divergent lane I made off eastward from the road and began to climb.

In under the chestnut trees the lane became a number of vague beaten paths; I followed straight upwards. Here and there were little houses standing hidden in leaves, and soon I crossed the railway, and at last above the trees I saw the sight of all the Bellinzona valley to the north; and turning my eyes I saw it broaden out between its walls to where the lake lay very bright, in spite of the slight mist, and this mist gave the lake distances, and the mountains round about it were transfigured and seemed part of the mere light.

The Italian lakes have that in them and their air which removes them from common living. Their beauty is not the beauty which each of us sees for himself in the world; it is rather the beauty of a special creation; the expression of some mind. To eyes innocent, and first freshly noting our great temporal inheritance—1 mean to the eyes of a boy and girl just entered upon the estate of this glorious earth, and thinking themselves immortal, this shrine of Europe might remain for ever in the memory; an enchanted experience, in which the single sense of sight had almost touched the boundary of music. They would remember these lakes as the central emotion of their youth. To mean men also who, in spite of years and of a full foreknowledge of death, yet attempt nothing but the satisfaction of sense, and pride themselves upon the taste and fineness with which they achieve this satisfaction, the Italian lakes would seem a place for habitation, and there such a man might build his house contentedly. But to ordinary Christians I am sure there is something unnatural in this beauty of theirs, and they find in it either a paradise only to be won by a much longer road to a bait and veil of sorcery, behind which lies great peril. Now, for all we know, beauty beyond the world may not really bear this double aspect; but to us on earth—if we are ordinary men—beauty of this kind has something evil. Have you not read in books how men when they see even divine visions are terrified? So as I looked at Lake Major in its halo I also was afraid, and I was glad to cross the ridge and crest of the hill and to shut out that picture framed all round with glory.

But on the other side of the hill I found, to my great disgust, not as I had hoped, a fine slope down leading to Lugano, but a second interior valley and another range just opposite me. I had not the patience to climb this so I followed down the marshy land at the foot of it, passed round the end of the hill and came upon the railway, which had tunnelled under the range I had crossed. I followed the railway for a little while and at last crossed it, penetrated through a thick brushwood, forded a nasty little stream, and found myself again on the main road, wishing heartily I had never left it.

It was still at least seven miles to Lugano, and though all the way was downhill, yet fatigue threatened me. These short cuts over marshy land and through difficult thickets are not short cuts at all, and I was just wondering whether, although it was already evening, I dared not rest a while, when there appeared at a turn in the road a little pink house with a yard all shaded over by a vast tree; there was also a trellis making a roof over a plain bench and table, and on the trellis grew vines.

'Into such houses,' I thought, 'the gods walk when they come down and talk with men, and such houses are the scenes of adventures. I will go in and rest.'

So I walked straight into the courtyard and found there a shrivelled brown-faced man with kindly eyes, who was singing a song to himself. He could talk a little French, a little English, and his own Italian language. He had been to America and to Paris; he was full of memories; and when I had listened to these and asked for food and drink, and said I was extremely poor and would have to bargain, he made a kind of litany of 'I will not cheat you; I am an honest man; I also am poor,' and so forth. Nevertheless I argued about every item—the bread, the sausage, and the beer. Seeing that I was in necessity, he charged me about three times their value, but I beat him down to double, and lower than that he would not go. Then we sat down together at the table and ate and drank and talked of far countries; and he would interject remarks on his honesty compared with the wickedness of his neighbours, and I parried with illustrations of my poverty and need, pulling out the four francs odd that remained to me, and jingling them sorrowfully in my hand. 'With these,' I said, 'I must reach Milan.'

Then I left him, and as I went down the road a slight breeze came on, and brought with it the coolness of evening.

At last the falling plateau reached an edge, many little lights glittered below me, and I sat on a stone and looked down at the town of Lugano. It was nearly dark. The mountains all around had lost their mouldings, and were marked in flat silhouettes against the sky. The new lake which had just appeared below me was bright as water is at dusk, and far away in the north and east the high Alps still stood up and received the large glow of evening. Everything else was full of the coming night, and a few stars shone. Up from She town came the distant noise of music; otherwise there was no sound. I could have rested there a long time, letting my tired body lapse into the advancing darkness, and catching in my spirit the inspiration of the silence—had it not been for hunger. I knew by experience that when it is very late one cannot be served in the eating-houses of poor men, and I had not the money or any other. So I rose and shambled down the steep road into the town, and there I found a square with arcades, and in the south-eastern corner of this square just such a little tavern as I required. Entering, therefore, and taking off my hat very low, I said in French to a man who was sitting there with friends, and who was the master, 'Sir, what is the least price at which you can give me a meal?'

He said, 'What do you want?'

I answered, 'Soup, meat, vegetables, bread, and a little wine.'

He counted on his fingers, while all his friends stared respectfully at him and me. He then gave orders, and a very young and beautiful girl set before me as excellent a meal as I had eaten for days on days, and he charged me but a franc and a half. He gave me also coffee and a little cheese, and I, feeling hearty, gave threepence over for the service, and they all very genially wished me a good-night; but their wishes were of no value to me, for the night was terrible.

I had gone over forty miles; how much over I did not know. I should have slept at Lugano, but my lightening purse forbade me. I thought, 'I will push on and on; after all, I have already slept, and so broken the back of the day. I will push on till I am at the end of my tether, then I will find a wood and sleep.' Within four miles my strength abandoned me. I was not even so far down the lake as to have lost the sound of the band at Lugano floating up the still water, when I was under an imperative necessity for repose. It was perhaps ten o'clock, and the sky was open and glorious with stars. I climbed up a bank on my right, and searching for a place to lie found one under a tree near a great telegraph pole. Here was a little parched grass, and one could lie there and see the lake and wait for sleep. It was a benediction to stretch out all supported by the dry earth, with my little side-bag for pillow, and to look at the clear night above the hills, and to listen to the very distant music, and to wonder whether or not, in this strange southern country, there might not be snakes gliding about in the undergrowth. Caught in such a skein of influence I was soothed and fell asleep.

For a little while I slept dreamlessly.

Just so much of my living self remained as can know, without understanding, the air around. It is the life of trees. That under-part, the barely conscious base of nature which trees and sleeping men are sunk in, is not only dominated by an immeasurable calm, but is also beyond all expression contented. And in its very stuff there is a complete and changeless joy. This is surely what the great mind meant when it said to the Athenian judges that death must not be dreaded since no experience in life was so pleasurable as a deep sleep; for being wise and seeing the intercommunion of things, he could not mean extinction, which is nonsense, but a lapse into that under-part of which I speak. For there are gods also below the earth.

But a dream came into my sleep and disturbed me, increasing life, and therefore bringing pain. I dreamt that I was arguing, at first easily, then violently, with another man. More and more he pressed me, and at last in my dream there were clearly spoken words, and he said to me, 'You must be wrong, because you are so cold; if you were right you would not be so cold.' And this argument seemed quite reasonable to me in my foolish dream, and I muttered to him, 'You are right, I must be in the wrong. It is very cold...' Then I half opened my eyes and saw the telegraph pole, the trees, and the lake. Far up the lake, where the Italian Frontier cuts it, the torpedo-boats, looking for smugglers, were casting their search-lights. One of the roving beams fell full on me and I became broad awake. I stood up. It was indeed cold, with a kind of clinging and grasping chill that was not to be expressed in degrees of heat, but in dampness perhaps, or perhaps in some subtler influence of the air.

I sat on the bank and gazed at the lake in some despair. Certainly I could not sleep again without a covering cloth, and it was now past midnight, nor did I know of any house, whether if I took the road I should find one in a mile, or in two, or in five. And, note you, I was utterly exhausted. That enormous march from Faido, though it had been wisely broken by the siesta at Bellinzona, needed more than a few cold hours under trees, and I thought of the three poor francs in my pocket, and of the thirty-eight miles remaining to Milan.

The stars were beyond the middle of their slow turning, and I watched them, splendid and in order, for sympathy, as I also regularly, but slowly and painfully, dragged myself along my appointed road. But in a very short time a great, tall, square, white house stood right on the roadway, and to my intense joy I saw a light in one of its higher windows. Standing therefore beneath, I cried at the top of my voice, 'Hola!' five or six times. A woman put her head out of the window into the fresh night, and said, 'You cannot sleep here; we have no rooms,' then she remained looking out of her window and ready to analyse the difficulties of the moment; a good-natured woman and fat.

In a moment another window at the same level, but farther from me, opened, and a man leaned out, just as those alternate figures come in and out of the toys that tell the weather. 'It is impossible,' said the man; 'we have no rooms.'

Then they talked a great deal together, while I shouted, 'Quid vis? Non e possibile dormire in la foresta! e troppo fredo! Vis ne me assassinare? Veni de Lugano—e piu—non e possibile ritornare!' and so forth.

They answered in strophe and antistrophe, sometimes together in full chorus, and again in semichorus, and with variations, that it was impossible. Then a light showed in the chinks of their great door; the lock grated, and it opened. A third person, a tall youth, stood in the hall. I went forward into the breach and occupied the hall. He blinked at me above a candle, and murmured, as a man apologizing 'It is not possible.'

Whatever I have in common with these southerners made me understand that I had won, so I smiled at him and nodded; he also smiled, and at once beckoned to me. He led me upstairs, and showed me a charming bed in a clean room, where there was a portrait of the Pope, looking cunning; the charge for that delightful and human place was sixpence, and as I said good-night to the youth, the man and woman from above said good-night also. And this was my first introduction to the most permanent feature in the Italian character. The good people!

When I woke and rose I was the first to be up and out. It was high morning. The sun was not yet quite over the eastern mountains, but I had slept, though so shortly yet at great ease, and the world seemed new and full of a merry mind. The sky was coloured like that high metal work which you may see in the studios of Paris; there was gold in it fading into bronze, and above, the bronze softened to silver. A little morning breeze, courageous and steady, blew down the lake and provoked the water to glad ripples, and there was nothing that did not move and take pleasure in the day.

The Lake of Lugano is of a complicated shape, and has many arms. It is at this point very narrow indeed, and shallow too; a mole, pierced at either end with low arches, has here been thrown across it, and by this mole the railway and the road pass over to the eastern shore. I turned in this long causeway and noticed the northern view. On the farther shore was an old village and some pleasure-houses of rich men on the shore; the boats also were beginning to go about the water. These boats were strange, unlike other boats; they were covered with hoods, and looked like floating waggons. This was to shield the rowers from the sun. Far off a man was sailing with a little brown sprit-sail. It was morning, and all the world was alive.

Coffee in the village left me two francs and two pennies. I still thought the thing could be done, so invigorating and deceiving are the early hours, and coming farther down the road to an old and beautiful courtyard on the left, I drew it, and hearing a bell at hand I saw a tumble-down church with trees before it, and went in to Mass; and though it was a little low village Mass, yet the priest had three acolytes to serve it, and (true and gracious mark of a Catholic country!) these boys were restless and distracted at their office.

You may think it trivial, but it was certainly a portent. One of the acolytes had half his head clean shaved! A most extraordinary sight! I could not take my eyes from it, and I heartily wished I had an Omen-book with me to tell me what it might mean.

When there were oracles on earth, before Pan died, this sight would have been of the utmost use. For I should have consulted the oracle woman for a Lira—at Biasca for instance, or in the lonely woods of the Cinder Mountain; and, after a lot of incense and hesitation, and wrestling with the god, the oracle would have accepted Apollo and, staring like one entranced, she would have chanted verses which, though ambiguous, would at least have been a guide. Thus:

Matutinus adest ubi Vesper, et accipiens te Saepe recusatum voces intelligit hospes Rusticus ignotas notas, ac flumina tellus Occupat—In sancto tum, tum, stans Aede caveto Tonsuram Hirsuti Capitis, via namque pedestrem Ferrea praeveniens cursum, peregrine, laborem Pro pietate tua inceptum frustratur, amore Antiqui Ritus alto sub Numine Romae.

LECTOR. What Hoggish great Participles!

AUCTOR. Well, well, you see it was but a rustic oracle at 9 3/4 d. the revelation, and even that is supposing silver at par. Let us translate it for the vulgar:

When early morning seems but eve And they that still refuse receive: When speech unknown men understand; And floods are crossed upon dry land. Within the Sacred Walls beware The Shaven Head that boasts of Hair, For when the road attains the rail The Pilgrim's great attempt shall fail.

Of course such an oracle might very easily have made me fear too much. The 'shaven head' I should have taken for a priest, especially if it was to be met with 'in a temple'—it might have prevented me entering a church, which would have been deplorable. Then I might have taken it to mean that I should never have reached Rome, which would have been a monstrous weight upon my mind. Still, as things unfolded themselves, the oracle would have become plainer and plainer, and I felt the lack of it greatly. For, I repeat, I had certainly received an omen.

The road now neared the end of the lake, and the town called Capo di Lago, or 'Lake-head', lay off to my right. I saw also that in a very little while I should abruptly find the plains. A low hill some five miles ahead of me was the last roll of the mountains, and just above me stood the last high crest, a precipitous peak of bare rock, up which there ran a cog-railway to some hotel or other. I passed through an old town under the now rising heat; I passed a cemetery in the Italian manner, with marble figures like common living men. The road turned to the left, and I was fairly on the shoulder of the last glacis. I stood on the Alps at their southern bank, and before me was Lombardy.

Also in this ending of the Swiss canton one was more evidently in Italy than ever. A village perched upon a rock, deep woods and a ravine below it, its houses and its church, all betrayed the full Italian spirit.

The frontier town was Chiasso. I hesitated with reverence before touching the sacred soil which I had taken so long to reach, and I longed to be able to drink its health; but though I had gone, I suppose, ten miles, and though the heat was increasing, I would not stop; for I remembered the two francs, and my former certitude of reaching Milan was shaking and crumbling. The great heat of midday would soon be on me, I had yet nearly thirty miles to go, and my bad night began to oppress me.

I crossed the frontier, which is here an imaginary line. Two slovenly customs-house men asked me if I had anything dutiable on me. I said No, and it was evident enough, for in my little sack or pocket was nothing but a piece of bread. If they had applied the American test, and searched me for money, then indeed they could have turned me back, and I should have been forced to go into the fields a quarter of a mile or so and come into their country by a path instead of a highroad.

This necessity was spared me. I climbed slowly up the long slope that hides Como, then I came down upon that lovely city and saw its frame of hills and its lake below me.

These things are not like things seen by the eyes. I say it again, they are like what one feels when music is played.

I entered Como between ten and eleven faint for food, and then a new interest came to fill my mind with memories of this great adventure. The lake was in flood, and all the town was water.

Como dry must be interesting enough; Como flooded is a marvel. What else is Venice? And here is a Venice at the foot of high mountains, and all in the water, no streets or squares; a fine even depth of three feet and a half or so for navigators, much what you have in the Spitway in London River at low spring tides.

There were a few boats about, but the traffic and pleasure of Como was passing along planks laid on trestles over the water here and there like bridges; and for those who were in haste, and could afford it (such as take cabs in London), there were wheelbarrows, coster carts, and what not, pulled about by men for hire; and it was a sight to remember all one's life to see the rich men of Como squatting on these carts and barrows, and being pulled about over the water by the poor men of Como, being, indeed, an epitome of all modern sociology and economics and religion and organized charity and strenuousness and liberalism and sophistry generally.

For my part I was determined to explore this curious town in the water, and I especially desired to see it on the lake side, because there one would get the best impression of its being really an aquatic town; so I went northward, as I was directed, and came quite unexpectedly upon the astonishing cathedral. It seemed built of polished marble, and it was in every way so exquisite in proportion, so delicate in sculpture, and so triumphant in attitude, that I thought to myself—

'No wonder men praise Italy if this first Italian town has such a building as this.'

But, as you will learn later, many of the things praised are ugly, and are praised only by certain followers of charlatans.

So I went on till I got to the lake, and there I found a little port about as big as a dining-room (for the Italian lakes play at being little seas. They have little ports, little lighthouses, little fleets for war, and little custom-houses, and little storms and little lines of steamers. Indeed, if one wanted to give a rich child a perfect model or toy, one could not give him anything better than an Italian lake), and when I had long gazed at the town, standing, as it seemed, right in the lake, I felt giddy, and said to myself, 'This is the lack of food,' for I had eaten nothing but my coffee and bread eleven miles before, at dawn.

So I pulled out my two francs, and going into a little shop, I bought bread, sausage, and a very little wine for fourpence, and with one franc eighty left I stood in the street eating and wondering what my next step should be.

It seemed on the map perhaps twenty-five, perhaps twenty-six miles to Milan. It was now nearly noon, and as hot as could be. I might, if I held out, cover the distance in eight or nine hours, but I did not see myself walking in the middle heat on the plain of Lombardy, and even if I had been able I should only have got into Milan at dark or later, when the post office (with my money in it) would be shut; and where could I sleep, for my one franc eighty would be gone? A man covering these distances must have one good meal a day or he falls ill. I could beg, but there was the risk of being arrested, and that means an indefinite waste of time, perhaps several days; and time, that had defeated me at the Gries, threatened me here again. I had nothing to sell or to pawn, and I had no friends. The Consul I would not attempt; I knew too much of such things as Consuls when poor and dirty men try them. Besides which, there was no Consul I pondered.

I went into the cool of the cathedral to sit in its fine darkness and think better. I sat before a shrine where candles were burning, put up for their private intentions by the faithful. Of many, two had nearly burnt out. I watched them in their slow race for extinction when a thought took me.

'I will,' said I to myself, 'use these candles for an ordeal or heavenly judgement. The left hand one shall be for attempting the road at the risk of illness or very dangerous failure; the right hand one shall stand for my going by rail till I come to that point on the railway where one franc eighty will take me, and thence walking into Milan:—and heaven defend the right.'

They were a long time going out, and they fell evenly. At last the right hand one shot up the long flame that precedes the death of candles; the contest took on interest, and even excitement, when, just as I thought the left hand certain of winning, it went out without guess or warning, like a second-rate person leaving this world for another. The right hand candle waved its flame still higher, as though in triumph, outlived its colleague just the moment to enjoy glory, and then in its turn went fluttering down the dark way from which they say there is no return.

None may protest against the voice of the Gods. I went straight to the nearest railway station (for there are two), and putting down one franc eighty, asked in French for a ticket to whatever station that sum would reach down the line. The ticket came out marked Milan, and I admitted the miracle and confessed the finger of Providence. There was no change, and as I got into the train I had become that rarest and ultimate kind of traveller, the man without any money whatsoever— without passport, without letters, without food or wine; it would be interesting to see what would follow if the train broke down.

I had marched 378 miles and some three furlongs, or thereabouts.

Thus did I break—but by a direct command—the last and dearest of my vows, and as the train rumbled off, I took luxury in the rolling wheels.

I thought of that other medieval and papistical pilgrim hobbling along rather than 'take advantage of any wheeled thing', and I laughed at him. Now if Moroso-Malodoroso or any other Non-Aryan, Antichristian, over-inductive, statistical, brittle-minded man and scientist, sees anything remarkable in one self laughing at another self, let me tell him and all such for their wide-eyed edification and astonishment that I knew a man once that had fifty-six selves (there would have been fifty-seven, but for the poet in him that died young)—he could evolve them at will, and they were very useful to lend to the parish priest when he wished to make up a respectable Procession on Holy-days. And I knew another man that could make himself so tall as to look over the heads of the scientists as a pine-tree looks over grasses, and again so small as to discern very clearly the thick coating or dust of wicked pride that covers them up in a fine impenetrable coat. So much for the moderns.

The train rolled on. I noticed Lombardy out of the windows. It is flat. I listened to the talk of the crowded peasants in the train. I did not understand it. I twice leaned out to see if Milan were not standing up before me out of the plain, but I saw nothing. Then I fell asleep, and when I woke suddenly it was because we were in the terminus of that noble great town, which I then set out to traverse in search of my necessary money and sustenance. It was yet but early in the afternoon.

What a magnificent city is Milan! The great houses are all of stone, and stand regular and in order, along wide straight streets. There are swift cars, drawn by electricity, for such as can afford them. Men are brisk and alert even in the summer heats, and there are shops of a very good kind, though a trifle showy. There are many newspapers to help the Milanese to be better men and to cultivate charity and humility; there are banks full of paper money; there are soldiers, good pavements, and all that man requires to fulfil him, soul and body; cafes, arcades, mutoscopes, and every sign of the perfect state. And the whole centres in a splendid open square, in the midst of which is the cathedral, which is justly the most renowned in the world.

My pilgrimage is to Rome, my business is with lonely places, hills, and the recollection of the spirit. It would be waste to describe at length this mighty capital. The mists and the woods, the snows and the interminable way, had left me ill-suited for the place, and I was ashamed. I sat outside a cafe, opposite the cathedral, watching its pinnacles of light; but I was ashamed. Perhaps I did the master a hurt by sitting there in his fine great cafe, unkempt, in such clothes, like a tramp; but he was courteous in spite of his riches, and I ordered a very expensive drink for him also, in order to make amends. I showed him my sketches, and told him of my adventures in French, and he was kind enough to sit opposite me, and to take that drink with me. He talked French quite easily, as it seems do all such men in the principal towns of north Italy. Still, the broad day shamed me, and only when darkness came did I feel at ease.

I wandered in the streets till I saw a small eating shop, and there I took a good meal. But when one is living the life of the poor, one sees how hard are the great cities. Everything was dearer, and worse, than in the simple countrysides. The innkeeper and his wife were kindly, but their eyes showed that they had often to suspect men. They gave me a bed, but it was a franc and more, and I had to pay before going upstairs to it. The walls were mildewed, the place ramshackle and evil, the rickety bed not clean, the door broken and warped, and that night I was oppressed with the vision of poverty. Dirt and clamour and inhuman conditions surrounded me. Yet the people meant well.

With the first light I got up quietly, glad to find the street again and the air. I stood in the crypt of the cathedral to hear the Ambrosian Mass, and it was (as I had expected) like any other, save for a kind of second lavabo before the Elevation. To read the distorted stupidity of the north one might have imagined that in the Ambrosian ritual the priest put a non before the credo, and nec's at each clause of it, and renounced his baptismal vows at the kyrie; but the Milanese are Catholics like any others, and the northern historians are either liars or ignorant men. And I know three that are both together.

Then I set out down the long street that leads south out of Milan, and was soon in the dull and sordid suburb of the Piacenzan way. The sky was grey, the air chilly, and in a little while—alas!—it rained.

Lombardy is an alluvial plain.

That is the pretty way of putting it. The truth is more vivid if you say that Lombardy is as flat as a marsh, and that it is made up of mud. Of course this mud dries when the sun shines on it, but mud it is and mud it will remain; and that day, as the rain began falling, mud it rapidly revealed itself to be; and the more did it seem to be mud when one saw how the moistening soil showed cracks from the last day's heat.

Lombardy has no forests, but any amount of groups of trees; moreover (what is very remarkable), it is all cultivated in fields more or less square. These fields have ditches round them, full of mud and water running slowly, and some of them are themselves under water in order to cultivate rice. All these fields have a few trees bordering them, apart from the standing clumps; but these trees are not very high. There are no open views in Lombardy, and Lombardy is all the same. Irregular large farmsteads stand at random all up and down the country; no square mile of Lombardy is empty. There are many, many little villages; many straggling small towns about seven to eight miles apart, and a great number of large towns from thirty to fifty miles apart. Indeed, this very road to Piacenza, which the rain now covered with a veil of despair, was among the longest stretches between any two large towns, although it was less than fifty miles.

On the map, before coming to this desolate place, there seemed a straighter and a better way to Rome than this great road. There is a river called the Lambro, which comes east of Milan and cuts the Piacenzan road at a place called Melegnano. It seemed to lead straight down to a point on the Po, a little above Piacenza. This stream one could follow (so it seemed), and when it joined the Po get a boat or ferry, and see on the other side the famous Trebbia, where Hannibal conquered and Joubert fell, and so make straight on for the Apennine.

Since it is always said in books that Lombardy is a furnace in summer, and that whole great armies have died of the heat there, this river bank would make a fine refuge. Clear and delicious water, more limpid than glass, would reflect and echo the restless poplars, and would make tolerable or even pleasing the excessive summer. Not so. It was a northern mind judging by northern things that came to this conclusion. There is not in all Lombardy a clear stream, but every river and brook is rolling mud. In the rain, not heat, but a damp and penetrating chill was the danger. There is no walking on the banks of the rivers; they are cliffs of crumbling soil, jumbled anyhow.

Man may, as Pinkerton (Sir Jonas Pinkerton) writes, be master of his fate, but he has a precious poor servant. It is easier to command a lapdog or a mule for a whole day than one's own fate for half-an-hour.

Nevertheless, though it was apparent that I should have to follow the main road for a while, I determined to make at last to the right of it, and to pass through a place called 'Old Lodi', for I reasoned thus: 'Lodi is the famous town. How much more interesting must Old Lodi be which is the mothertown of Lodi?' Also, Old Lodi brought me back again on the straight line to Rome, and I foolishly thought it might be possible to hear there of some straight path down the Lambro (for that river still possessed me somewhat).

Therefore, after hours and hours of trudging miserably along the wide highway in the wretched and searching rain, after splashing through tortuous Melegnano, and not even stopping to wonder if it was the place of the battle, after noting in despair the impossible Lambro, I came, caring for nothing, to the place where a secondary road branches off to the right over a level crossing and makes for Lodi Vecchio.

It was not nearly midday, but I had walked perhaps fifteen miles, and had only rested once in a miserable Trattoria. In less than three miles I came to that unkempt and lengthy village, founded upon dirt and living in misery, and through the quiet, cold, persistent rain I splashed up the main street. I passed wretched, shivering dogs and mournful fowls that took a poor refuge against walls; passed a sad horse that hung its head in the wet and stood waiting for a master, till at last I reached the open square where the church stood, then I knew that I had seen all Old Lodi had to offer me. So, going into an eating-house, or inn, opposite the church, I found a girl and her mother serving, and I saluted them, but there was no fire, and my heart sank to the level of that room, which was, I am sure, no more than fifty-four degrees.

Why should the less gracious part of a pilgrimage be specially remembered? In life were remember joy best—that is what makes us sad by contrast; pain somewhat, especially if it is acute; but dulness never. And a book—which has it in its own power to choose and to emphasize—has no business to record dulness. What did I at Lodi Vecchio? I ate; I dried my clothes before a tepid stove in a kitchen. I tried to make myself understood by the girl and her mother. I sat at a window and drew the ugly church on principle. Oh, the vile sketch!

Worthy of that Lombard plain, which they had told me was so full of wonderful things. I gave up all hope of by-roads, and I determined to push back obliquely to the highway again—obliquely in order to save time! Nepios!

These 'by-roads' of the map turned out in real life to be all manner of abominable tracks. Some few were metalled, some were cart-ruts merely, some were open lanes of rank grass; and along most there went a horrible ditch, and in many fields the standing water proclaimed desolation. IN so far as I can be said to have had a way at all, I lost it. I could not ask my way because my only ultimate goal was Piacenza, and that was far off. I did not know the name of any place between. Two or three groups of houses I passed, and sometimes church towers glimmered through the rain. I passed a larger and wider road than the rest, but obviously not my road; I pressed on and passed another; and by this time, having ploughed up Lombardy for some four hours, I was utterly lost. I no longer felt the north, and, for all I knew, I might be going backwards. The only certain thing was that I was somewhere in the belt between the highroad and the Lambro, and that was little enough to know at the close of such a day. Grown desperate, I clamoured within my mind for a miracle; and it was not long before I saw a little bent man sitting on a crazy cart and going ahead of me at a pace much slower than a walk—the pace of a horse crawling. I caught him up, and, doubting much whether he would understand a word, I said to him repeatedly—

'La granda via? La via a Piacenza?'

He shook his head as though to indicate that this filthy lane was not the road. Just as I had despaired of learning anything, he pointed with his arm away to the right, perpendicularly to the road we were on, and nodded. He moved his hand up and down. I had been going north!

On getting this sign I did not wait for a cross road, but jumped the little ditch and pushed through long grass, across further ditches, along the side of patches of growing corn, heedless of the huge weight on my boots and of the oozing ground, till I saw against the rainy sky a line of telegraph poles. For the first time since they were made the sight of them gave a man joy. There was a long stagnant pond full of reeds between me and the railroad; but, as I outflanked it, I came upon a road that crossed the railway at a level and led me into the great Piacenzan way. Almost immediately appeared a village. It was a hole called Secugnano, and there I entered a house where a bush hanging above the door promised entertainment, and an old hobbling woman gave me food and drink and a bed. The night had fallen, and upon the roof above me I could hear the steady rain.

The next morning—Heaven preserve the world from evil!—it was still raining.

LECTOR. It does not seem to me that this part of your book is very entertaining.

AUCTOR. I know that; but what am I to do?

LECTOR. Why, what was the next point in the pilgrimage that was even tolerably noteworthy?

AUCTOR. I suppose the Bridge of Boats.

LECTOR. And how far on was that?

AUCTOR. About fourteen miles, more or less... I passed through a town with a name as long as my arm, and I suppose the Bridge of Boats must have been nine miles on after that.

LECTOR. And it rained all the time, and there was mud?

AUCTOR. Precisely.

LECTOR. Well, then, let us skip it and tell stories.

AUCTOR. With all my heart. And since you are such a good judge of literary poignancy, do you begin.

LECTOR. I will, and I draw my inspiration from your style.

Once upon a time there was a man who was born in Croydon, and whose name was Charles Amieson Blake. He went to Rugby at twelve and left it at seventeen. He fell in love twice and then went to Cambridge till he was twenty-three. Having left Cambridge he fell in love more mildly, and was put by his father into a government office, where he began at 180 pounds a year. At thirty-five he was earning 500 pounds a year, and perquisites made 750 pounds a year. He met a pleasant lady and fell in love quite a little compared with the other times. She had 250 pounds a year. That made 1000 pounds a year. They married and had three children—Richard, Amy, and Cornelia. He rose to a high government position, was knighted, retired at sixty-three, and died at sixty-seven. He is buried at Kensal Green...

AUCTOR. Thank you, Lector, that is a very good story. It is simple and full of plain human touches. You know how to deal with the facts of everyday life... It requires a master-hand. Tell me, Lector, had this man any adventures?

LECTOR. None that I know of.

AUCTOR. Had he opinions?

LECTOR. Yes. I forgot to tell you he was a Unionist. He spoke two foreign languages badly. He often went abroad to Assisi, Florence, and Boulogne... He left 7,623 pounds 6s. 8d., and a house and garden at Sutton. His wife lives there still.


LECTOR. It is the human story... the daily task!

AUCTOR. Very true, my dear Lector... the common lot... Now let me tell my story. It is about the Hole that could not be Filled Up.

LECTOR. Oh no! Auctor, no! That is the oldest story in the—

AUCTOR. Patience, dear Lector, patience! I will tell it well. Besides which I promise you it shall never be told again. I will copyright it.

Well, once there was a Learned Man who had a bargain with the Devil that he should warn the Devil's emissaries of all the good deeds done around him so that they could be upset, and he in turn was to have all those pleasant things of this life which the Devil's allies usually get, to wit a Comfortable Home, Self-Respect, good health, 'enough money for one's rank', and generally what is called 'a happy useful life'—till midnight of All-Hallowe'en in the last year of the nineteenth century.

So this Learned Man did all he was required, and daily would inform the messenger imps of the good being done or prepared in the neighbourhood, and they would upset it; so that the place he lived in from a nice country town became a great Centre of Industry, full of wealth and desirable family mansions and street property, and was called in hell 'Depot B' (Depot A you may guess at). But at last toward the 15th of October 1900, the Learned Man began to shake in his shoes and to dread the judgement; for, you see, he had not the comfortable ignorance of his kind, and was compelled to believe in the Devil willy-nilly, and, as I say, he shook in his shoes.

So he bethought him of a plan to cheat the Devil, and the day before All-Hallowe'en he cut a very small round hole in the floor of his study, just near the fireplace, right through down to the cellar. Then he got a number of things that do great harm (newspapers, legal documents, unpaid bills, and so forth) and made ready for action.

Next morning when the little imps came for orders as usual, after prayers, he took them down into the cellar, and pointing out the hole in the ceiling, he said to them:

'My friends, this little hole is a mystery. It communicates, I believe, with the chapel; but I cannot find the exit. All I know is, that some pious person or angel, or what not, desirous to do good, slips into it every day whatever he thinks may be a cause of evil in the neighbourhood, hoping thus to destroy it' (in proof of which statement he showed them a scattered heap of newspapers on the floor of the cellar beneath the hole). 'And the best thing you can do,' he added, 'is to stay here and take them away as far as they come down and put them back into circulation again. Tut! tut!' he added, picking up a moneylender's threatening letter to a widow, 'it is astonishing how these people interfere with the most sacred rights! Here is a letter actually stolen from the post! Pray see that it is delivered.'

So he left the little imps at work, and fed them from above with all manner of evil-doing things, which they as promptly drew into the cellar, and at intervals flew away with, to put them into circulation again.

That evening, at about half-past eleven, the Devil came to fetch the Learned Man, and found him seated at his fine great desk, writing. The Learned Man got up very affably to receive the Devil, and offered him a chair by the fire, just near the little round hole.

'Pray don't move,' said the Devil; 'I came early on purpose not to disturb you.'

'You are very good,' replied the Learned Man. 'The fact is, I have to finish my report on Lady Grope's Settlement among our Poor in the Bull Ring—it is making some progress. But their condition is heart-breaking, my dear sir; heart-breaking!'

'I can well believe it,' said the Devil sadly and solemnly, leaning back in his chair, and pressing his hands together like a roof. 'The poor in our great towns, Sir Charles' (for the Learned Man had been made a Baronet), 'the condition, I say, of the—Don't I feel a draught?' he added abruptly. For the Devil can't bear draughts.

'Why,' said the Learned Man, as though ashamed, 'just near your chair there is a little hole that I have done my best to fill up, but somehow it seemed impossible to fill it... I don't know...'

The Devil hates excuses, and is above all practical, so he just whipped the soul of a lawyer out of his side-pocket, tied a knot in it to stiffen it, and shoved it into the hole.

'There!' said the Devil contentedly; 'if you had taken a piece of rag, or what not, you might yourself... Hulloa!...' He looked down and saw the hole still gaping, and he felt a furious draught coming up again. He wondered a little, and then muttered: 'It's a pity I have on my best things. I never dare crease them, and I have nothing in my pockets to speak of, otherwise I might have brought something bigger.' He felt in his left-hand trouser pocket, and fished out a pedant, crumpled him carefully into a ball, and stuffed him hard into the hole, so that he suffered agonies. Then the Devil watched carefully. The soul of the pedant was at first tugged as if from below, then drawn slowly down, and finally shot off out of sight.

'This is a most extraordinary thing!' said the Devil.

'It is the draught. It is very strong between the joists,' ventured the Learned Man.

'Fiddle-sticks ends!' shouted the Devil. 'It is a trick! But I've never been caught yet, and I never will be.'

He clapped his hands, and a whole host of his followers poured in through the windows with mortgages, Acts of Parliament, legal decisions, declarations of war, charters to universities, patents for medicines, naturalization orders, shares in gold mines, specifications, prospectuses, water companies' reports, publishers' agreements, letters patent, freedoms of cities, and, in a word, all that the Devil controls in the way of hole-stopping rubbish; and the Devil, kneeling on the floor, stuffed them into the hole like a madman. But as fast as he stuffed, the little imps below (who had summoned a number of their kind to their aid also) pulled it through and carted it away. And the Devil, like one possessed, lashed the floor with his tail, and his eyes glared like coals of fire, and the sweat ran down his face, and he breathed hard, and pushed every imaginable thing he had into the hole so swiftly that at last his documents and parchments looked like streaks and flashes. But the loyal little imps, not to be beaten, drew them through into the cellar as fast as machinery, and whirled them to their assistants; and all the poor lost souls who had been pressed into the service were groaning that their one holiday in the year was being filched from them, when, just as the process was going on so fast that it roared like a printing-machine in full blast, the clock in the hall struck twelve.

The Devil suddenly stopped and stood up.

'Out of my house,' said the Learned Man; 'out of my house! I've had enough of you, and I've no time for fiddle-faddle! It's past twelve, and I've won!'

The Devil, though still panting, smiled a diabolical smile, and pulling out his repeater (which he had taken as a perquisite from the body of a member of Parliament), said, 'I suppose you keep Greenwich time?'

'Certainly!' said Sir Charles.

'Well,' said the Devil, 'so much the worse for you to live in Suffolk. You're four minutes fast, so I'll trouble you to come along with me; and I warn you that any words you now say may be used against...'

At this point the Learned Man's patron saint, who thought things had gone far enough, materialized himself and coughed gently. They both looked round, and there was St Charles sitting in the easy chair.

'So far,' murmured the Saint to the Devil suavely, 'so far from being four minutes too early, you are exactly a year too late.' On saying this, the Saint smiled a genial, priestly smile, folded his hands, twiddled his thumbs slowly round and round, and gazed in a fatherly way at the Devil.

'What do you mean?' shouted the Devil.

'What I say,' said St Charles calmly; '1900 is not the last year of the nineteenth century; it is the first year of the twentieth.'

'Oh!' sneered the Devil, 'are you an anti-vaccinationist as well? Now, look here' (and he began counting on his fingers); 'supposing in the year 1 B.C....'

'I never argue,' said St Charles.

'Well, all I know is,' answered the Devil with some heat, 'that in this matter as in most others, thank the Lord, I have on my side all the historians and all the scientists, all the universities, all the...'

'And I,' interrupted St Charles, waving his hand like a gentleman (he is a Borromeo), 'I have the Pope!'

At this the Devil gave a great howl, and disappeared in a clap of thunder, and was never seen again till his recent appearance at Brighton.

So the Learned Man was saved; but hardly; for he had to spend five hundred years in Purgatory catechizing such heretics and pagans as got there, and instructing them in the true faith. And with the more muscular he passed a knotty time.

You do not see the river Po till you are close to it. Then, a little crook in the road being passed, you come between high trees, and straight out before you, level with you, runs the road into and over a very wide mass of tumbling water. It does not look like a bridge, it looks like a quay. It does not rise; it has all the appearance of being a strip of road shaved off and floated on the water.

All this is because it passes over boats, as do some bridges over the Rhine. (At Cologne, I believe, and certainly at Kiel—for I once sat at the end of that and saw a lot of sad German soldiers drilling, a memory which later made me understand (1) why they can be out-marched by Latins; (2) why they impress travellers and civilians; (3) why the governing class in Germany take care to avoid common service; (4) why there is no promotion from the ranks; and (5) why their artillery is too rigid and not quick enough. It also showed me something intimate and fundamental about the Germans which Tacitus never understood and which all our historians miss—they are of necessity histrionic. Note I do not say it is a vice of theirs. It is a necessity of theirs, an appetite. They must see themselves on a stage. Whether they do things well or ill, whether it is their excellent army with its ridiculous parade, or their eighteenth-century sans-soucis with avenues and surprises, or their national legends with gods in wigs and strong men in tights, they must be play-actors to be happy and therefore to be efficient; and if I were Lord of Germany, and desired to lead my nation and to be loved by them, I should put great golden feathers on my helmet, I should use rhetorical expressions, spout monologues in public, organize wide cavalry charges at reviews, and move through life generally to the crashing of an orchestra. For by doing this even a vulgar, short, and diseased man, who dabbled in stocks and shares and was led by financiers, could become a hero, and do his nation good.)

LECTOR. What is all this?

AUCTOR. It is a parenthesis.

LECTOR. It is good to know the names of the strange things one meets with on one's travels.

AUCTOR. So I return to where I branched off, and tell you that the river Po is here crossed by a bridge of boats.

It is a very large stream. Half-way across, it is even a trifle uncomfortable to be so near the rush of the water on the trembling pontoons. And on that day its speed and turbulence were emphasized by the falling rain. For the marks of the rain on the water showed the rapidity of the current, and the silence of its fall framed and enhanced the swirl of the great river.

Once across, it is a step up into Piacenza—a step through mud and rain. On my right was that plain where Barbarossa received, and was glorified by, the rising life of the twelfth century; there the renaissance of our Europe saw the future glorious for the first time since the twilight of Rome, and being full of morning they imagined a new earth and gave it a Lord. It was at Roncaglia, I think in spring, and I wish I had been there. For in spring even the Lombard plain they say is beautiful and generous, but in summer I know by experience that it is cold, brutish, and wet.

And so in Piacenza it rained and there was mud, till I came to a hotel called the Moor's Head, in a very narrow street, and entering it I discovered a curious thing: the Italians live in palaces: I might have known it.

They are the impoverished heirs of a great time; its garments cling to them, but their rooms are too large for the modern penury. I found these men eating in a great corridor, in a hall, as they might do in a palace. I found high, painted ceilings and many things of marble, a vast kitchen, and all the apparatus of the great houses—at the service of a handful of contented, unknown men. So in England, when we have worked out our full fate, happier but poorer men will sit in the faded country-houses (a community, or an inn, or impoverished squires), and rough food will be eaten under mouldering great pictures, and there will be offices or granaries in the galleries of our castles; and where Lord Saxonthorpe (whose real name is Hauptstein) now plans our policy, common Englishmen will return to the simpler life, and there will be dogs, and beer, and catches upon winter evenings. For Italy also once gathered by artifice the wealth that was not of her making.

He was a good man, the innkeeper of this palace. He warmed me at his fire in his enormous kitchen, and I drank Malaga to the health of the cooks. I ate of their food, I bought a bottle of a new kind of sweet wine called 'Vino Dolce', and—I took the road.

LECTOR. And did you see nothing of Piacenza?

AUCTOR. Nothing, Lector; it was raining, and there was mud. I stood in front of the cathedral on my way out, and watched it rain. It rained all along the broad and splendid Emilian Way. I had promised myself great visions of the Roman soldiery passing up that eternal road; it still was stamped with the imperial mark, but the rain washed out its interest, and left me cold. The Apennines also, rising abruptly from the plain, were to have given me revelations at sunset; they gave me none. Their foothills appeared continually on my right, they themselves were veiled. And all these miles of road fade into the confused memory of that intolerable plain. The night at Firenzuola, the morning (the second morning of this visitation) still cold, still heartless, and sodden with the abominable weather, shall form no part of this book.

Things grand and simple of their nature are possessed, as you know, of a very subtle flavour. The larger music, the more majestic lengths of verse called epics, the exact in sculpture, the classic drama, the most absolute kinds of wine, require a perfect harmony of circumstance for their appreciation. Whatever is strong, poignant, and immediate in its effect is not so difficult to suit; farce, horror, rage, or what not, these a man can find in the arts, even when his mood may be heavy or disturbed; just as (to take their parallel in wines) strong Beaune will always rouse a man. But that which is cousin to the immortal spirit, and which has, so to speak, no colour but mere light, that needs for its recognition so serene an air of abstraction and of content as makes its pleasure seem rare in this troubled life, and causes us to recall it like a descent of the gods.

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