The Path to Rome
by Hilaire Belloc
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For who, having noise around him, can strike the table with pleasure at reading the Misanthrope, or in mere thirst or in fatigue praise Chinon wine? Who does not need for either of these perfect things Recollection, a variety of according conditions, and a certain easy Plenitude of the Mind?

So it is with the majesty of Plains, and with the haunting power of their imperial roads.

All you that have had your souls touched at the innermost, and have attempted to release yourselves in verse and have written trash—(and who know it)—be comforted. You shall have satisfaction at last, and you shall attain fame in some other fashion—perhaps in private theatricals or perhaps in journalism. You will be granted a prevision of complete success, and your hearts shall be filled—but you must not expect to find this mood on the Emilian Way when it is raining.

All you that feel youth slipping past you and that are desolate at the approach of age, be merry; it is not what it looks like from in front and from outside. There is a glory in all completion, and all good endings are but shining transitions. There will come a sharp moment of revelation when you shall bless the effect of time. But this divine moment—- it is not on the Emilian Way in the rain that you should seek it.

All you that have loved passionately and have torn your hearts asunder in disillusions, do not imagine that things broken cannot be mended by the good angels. There is a kind of splice called 'the long splice' which makes a cut rope seem what it was before; it is even stronger than before, and can pass through a block. There will descend upon you a blessed hour when you will be convinced as by a miracle, and you will suddenly understand the redintegratio amoris (amoris redintegratio, a Latin phrase). But this hour you will not receive in the rain on the Emilian Way.

Here then, next day, just outside a town called Borgo, past the middle of morning, the rain ceased.

Its effect was still upon the slippery and shining road, the sky was still fast and leaden, when, in a distaste for their towns, I skirted the place by a lane that runs westward of the houses, and sitting upon a low wall, I looked up at the Apennines, which were now plain above me, and thought over my approaching passage through those hills.

But here I must make clear by a map the mass of mountains which I was about to attempt, and in which I forded so many rivers, met so many strange men and beasts, saw such unaccountable sights, was imprisoned, starved, frozen, haunted, delighted, burnt up, and finally refreshed in Tuscany—in a word, where I had the most extraordinary and unheard-of adventures that ever diversified the life of man.

The straight line to Rome runs from Milan not quite through Piacenza, but within a mile or two of that city. Then it runs across the first folds of the Apennines, and gradually diverges from the Emilian Way. It was not possible to follow this part of the line exactly, for there was no kind of track. But by following the Emilian Way for several miles (as I had done), and by leaving it at the right moment, it was possible to strike the straight line again near a village called Medesano.

Now on the far side of the Apennines, beyond their main crest, there happens, most providentially, to be a river called the Serchio, whose valley is fairly straight and points down directly to Rome. To follow this valley would be practically to follow the line to Rome, and it struck the Tuscan plain not far from Lucca.

But to get from the Emilian Way over the eastern slope of the Apennines' main ridge and crest, to where the Serchio rises on the western side, is a very difficult matter. The few roads across the Apennines cut my track at right angles, and were therefore useless. In order to strike the watershed at the sources of the Serchio it was necessary to go obliquely across a torrent and four rivers (the Taro, the Parma, the Enza, and the Secchia), and to climb the four spurs that divided them; crossing each nearer to the principal chain as I advanced until, after the Secchia, the next climb would be that of the central crest itself, on the far side of which I should find the Serchio valley.

Perhaps in places roads might correspond to this track. Certainly the bulk of it would be mule-paths or rough gullies—how much I could not tell. The only way I could work it with my wretched map was to note the names of towns' or hamlets more or less on the line, and to pick my way from one to another. I wrote them down as follows: Fornovo, Calestano, Tizzano, Colagna—the last at the foot of the final pass. The distance to that pass as the crow flies was only a little more than thirty miles. So exceedingly difficult was the task that it took me over two days. Till I reached Fornovo beyond the Taro, I was not really in the hills.

By country roads, picking my way, I made that afternoon for Medesano. The lanes were tortuous; they crossed continual streams that ran from the hills above, full and foaming after the rain, and frothing with the waste of the mountains. I had not gone two miles when the sky broke; not four when a new warmth began to steal over the air and a sense of summer to appear in the earth about me. With the greatest rapidity the unusual weather that had accompanied me from Milan was changing into the normal brilliancy of the south; but it was too late for the sun to tell, though he shone from time to time through clouds that were now moving eastwards more perceptibly and shredding as they moved.

Quite tired and desiring food, keen also for rest after those dispiriting days, I stopped, before reaching Medesano, at an inn where three ways met; and there I purposed to eat and spend the night, for the next day, it was easy to see, would be tropical, and I should rise before dawn if I was to save the heat. I entered.

The room within was of red wood. It had two tables, a little counter with a vast array of bottles, a woman behind the counter, and a small, nervous man in a strange hat serving. And all the little place was filled and crammed with a crowd of perhaps twenty men, gesticulating, shouting, laughing, quarrelling, and one very big man was explaining to another the virtues of his knife; and all were already amply satisfied with wine. For in this part men do not own, but are paid wages, so that they waste the little they have.

I saluted the company, and walking up to the counter was about to call for wine. They had all become silent, when one man asked me a question in Italian. I did not understand it, and attempted to say so, when another asked the same question; then six or seven—and there was a hubbub. And out of the hubbub I heard a similar sentence rising all the time. To this day I do not know what it meant, but I thought (and think) it meant 'He is a Venetian,' or 'He is the Venetian.' Something in my broken language had made them think this, and evidently the Venetians (or a Venetian) were (or was) gravely unpopular here. Why, I cannot tell. Perhaps the Venetians were blacklegs. But evidently a Venetian, or the whole Venetian nation, had recently done them a wrong.

At any rate one very dark-haired man put his face close up to mine, unlipped his teeth, and began a great noise of cursing and threatening, and this so angered me that it overmastered my fear, which had till then been considerable. I remembered also a rule which a wise man once told me for guidance, and it is this: 'God disposes of victory, but, as the world is made, when men smile, smile; when men laugh, laugh; when men hit, hit; when men shout, shout; and when men curse, curse you also, my son, and in doubt let them always take the first move.'

I say my fear had been considerable, especially of the man with the knife, but I got too angry to remember it, and advancing my face also to this insulter's I shouted, 'Dio Ladro! Dios di mi alma! Sanguinamento! Nombre di Dios! Che? Che vole? Non sono da Venezia io! Sono de Francia! Je m'en fiche da vestra Venezia! Non se vede che non parlar vestra lingua? Che sono forestiere?' and so forth. At this they evidently divided into two parties, and all began raging amongst themselves, and some at me, while the others argued louder and louder that there was an error.

The little innkeeper caught my arm over the counter, and I turned round sharply, thinking he was doing me a wrong, but I saw him nodding and winking at me, and he was on my side. This was probably because he was responsible if anything happened, and he alone could not fly from the police.

He made them a speech which, for all I know, may have been to the effect that he had known and loved me from childhood, or may have been that he knew me for one Jacques of Turin, or may have been any other lie. Whatever lie it was, it appeased them. Their anger went down to a murmur, just like soda-water settling down into a glass.

I stood wine; we drank. I showed them my book, and as my pencil needed sharpening the large man lent me his knife for courtesy. When I got it in my hand I saw plainly that it was no knife for stabbing with; it was a pruning-knife, and would have bit the hand that cherished it (as they say of serpents). On the other hand, it would have been a good knife for ripping, and passable at a slash. You must not expect too much of one article.

I took food, but I saw that in this parish it was safer to sleep out of doors than in; so in the falling evening, but not yet sunset, I wandered on, not at a pace but looking for shelter, and I found at last just what I wanted: a little shed, with dried ferns (as it seemed) strewed in a corner, a few old sacks, and a broken piece of machinery—though this last was of no use to me.

I thought: 'It will be safe here, for I shall rise before day, and the owner, if there is one, will not disturb me.'

The air was fairly warm. The place quite dry. The open side looked westward and a little south.

The sun had now set behind the Apennines, and there was a deep effulgence in the sky. I drank a little wine, lit a pipe, and watched the west in silence.

Whatever was left of the great pall from which all that rain had fallen, now was banked up on the further side of heaven in toppling great clouds that caught the full glow of evening.

The great clouds stood up in heaven, separate, like persons; and no wind blew; but everything was full of evening. I worshipped them so far as it is permitted to worship inanimate things.

They domed into the pure light of the higher air, inviolable. They seemed halted in the presence of a commanding majesty who ranked them all in order.

This vision filled me with a large calm which a travelled man may find on coming to his home, or a learner in the communion of wise men. Repose, certitude, and, as it were, a premonition of glory occupied my spirit. Before it was yet quite dark I had made a bed out of the dry bracken, covered myself with the sacks and cloths, and very soon I fell asleep, still thinking of the shapes of clouds and of the power of God.

Next morning it was as I had thought. Going out before it was fully light, a dense mist all around and a clear sky showed what the day was to be. As I reached Medesano the sun rose, and in half-an-hour the air was instinct with heat; within an hour it was blinding. An early Mass in the church below the village prepared my day, but as I took coffee afterwards in a little inn, and asked about crossing the Taro to Fornovo—my first point—to my astonishment they shook their heads. The Taro was impassable.

Why could it not be crossed? My very broken language made it difficult for me to understand. They talked oframi, which I thought meant oars; but rami, had I known it, meant the separate branches or streams whereby these torrential rivers of Italy flow through their arid beds.

I drew a boat and asked if one could not cross in that (for I was a northerner, and my idea of a river was a river with banks and water in between), but they laughed and said 'No.' Then I made the motion of swimming. They said it was impossible, and one man hung his head to indicate drowning. It was serious. They said to-morrow, or rather next day, one might do it.

Finally, a boy that stood by said he remembered a man who knew the river better than any one, and he, if any one could, would get me across. So I took the boy with me up the road, and as we went I saw, parallel to the road, a wide plain of dazzling rocks and sand, and beyond it, shining and silhouetted like an Arab village, the group of houses that was Fornovo. This plain was their sort of river in these hills. The boy said that sometimes it was full and a mile wide, sometimes it dwindled into dirty pools. Now, as I looked, a few thin streams seemed to wind through it, and I could not understand the danger.

After a mile or two we came to a spot in the road where a patch of brushwood only separated us from the river-bed. Here the boy bade me wait, and asked a group of peasants whether the guide was in; they said they thought so, and some went up into the hillside with the boy to fetch him, others remained with me, looking at the river-bed and at Fornovo beyond, shaking their heads, and saying it had not been done for days. But I did not understand whether the rain-freshet had passed and was draining away, or whether it had not yet come down from beyond, and I waited for the guide.

They brought him at last down from his hut among the hills. He came with great strides, a kindly-looking man, extremely tall and thin, and with very pale eyes. He smiled. They pointed me out to him, and we struck the bargain by holding up three fingers each for three lira, and nodding. Then he grasped his long staff and I mine, we bade farewell to the party, and together we went in silence through thick brushwood down towards the broad river-bed. The stones of it glared like the sands of Africa; Fornovo baked under the sun all white and black; between us was this broad plain of parched shingle and rocks that could, in a night, become one enormous river, or dwindle to a chain of stagnant ponds. To-day some seven narrow streams wandered in the expanse, and again they seemed so easy to cross that again I wondered at the need of a guide.

We came to the edge of the first, and I climbed on the guide's back. He went bare-legged into the stream deeper and deeper till my feet, though held up high, just touched the water; then laboriously he climbed the further shore, and I got down upon dry land. It had been but twenty yards or so, and he knew the place well. I had seen, as we crossed, what a torrent this first little stream was, and I now knew the difficulty and understood the warnings of the inn.

The second branch was impassable. We followed it up for nearly a mile to where 'an island' (that is, a mass of high land that must have been an island in flood-time, and that had on it an old brown village) stood above the white bed of the river. Just at this 'island' my guide found a ford. And the way he found it is worth telling. He taught me the trick, and it is most useful to men who wander alone in mountains.

You take a heavy stone, how heavy you must learn to judge, for a more rapid current needs a heavier stone; but say about ten pounds. This you lob gently into mid-stream. How, it is impossible to describe, but when you do it it is quite easy to see that in about four feet of water, or less, the stone splashes quite differently from the way it does in five feet or more. It is a sure test, and one much easier to acquire by practice than to write about. To teach myself this trick I practised it throughout my journey in these wilds.

Having found a ford then, he again took me on his shoulders, but, in mid-stream, the water being up to his breast, his foot slipped on a stone (all the bed beneath was rolling and churning in the torrent), and in a moment we had both fallen. He pulled me up straight by his side, and then indeed, overwhelmed in the rush of water, it was easy to understand how the Taro could drown men, and why the peasants dreaded these little ribbons of water.

The current rushed and foamed past me, coming nearly to my neck; and it was icy cold. One had to lean against it, and the water so took away one's weight that at any moment one might have slipped and been carried away. The guide, a much taller man (indeed he was six foot three or so), supported me, holding my arm: and again in a moment we reached dry land.

After that adventure there was no need for carrying. The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth branches were easily fordable. The seventh was broad and deep, and I found it a heavy matter; nor should I have waded it but for my guide, for the water bore against me like a man wrestling, and it was as cold as Acheron, the river of the dead. Then on the further shore, and warning him (in Lingua Franca) of his peril, I gave him his wage, and he smiled and thanked me, and went back, choosing his plans at leisure.

Thus did I cross the river Taro; a danger for men.

Where I landed was a poor man sunning himself. He rose and walked with me to Fornovo. He knew the guide.

'He is a good man,' he said to me of this friend. 'He is as good as a little piece of bread.'

'E vero,' I answered; 'e San Cristophero.'

This pleased the peasant; and indeed it was true. For the guide's business was exactly that of St Christopher, except that the Saint took no money, and lived, I suppose, on air.

And so to Fornovo; and the heat blinded and confused, and the air was alive with flies. But the sun dried me at once, and I pressed up the road because I needed food. After I had eaten in this old town I was preparing to make for Calestano and to cross the first high spur of the Apennines that separated me from it, when I saw, as I left the place, a very old church; and I stayed a moment and looked at carvings which were in no order, but put in pell-mell, evidently chosen from some older building. They were barbaric, but one could see that they stood for the last judgement of man, and there were the good looking foolish, and there were the wicked being boiled by devils in a pot, and what was most pleasing was one devil who with great joy was carrying off a rich man's gold in a bag. But now we are too wise to believe in such follies, and when we die we take our wealth with us; in the ninth century they had no way of doing this, for no system of credit yet obtained.

Then leaving the main road which runs to Pontremoli and at last to Spezzia, my lane climbed up into the hills and ceased, little by little, to be even a lane. It became from time to time the bed of a stream, then nothing, then a lane again, and at last, at the head of the glen, I confessed to having lost it; but I noted a great rock or peak above me for a landmark, and I said to myself—

'No matter. The wall of this glen before me is obviously the ridge of the spur; the rock must be left to the north, and I have but to cross the ridge by its guidance.' By this time, however, the heat overcame me, and, as it was already afternoon, and as I had used so much of the preceding night for my journey, I remembered the wise custom of hot countries and lay down to sleep.

I slept but a little while, yet when I woke the air was cooler. I climbed the side of the glen at random, and on the summit I found, to my disgust, a road. What road could it be? To this day I do not know. Perhaps I had missed my way and struck the main highway again. Perhaps (it is often so in the Apennines) it was a road leading nowhere. At any rate I hesitated, and looked back to judge my direction.

It was a happy accident. I was now some 2000 feet above the Taro. There, before me, stood the high strange rock that I had watched from below; all around it and below me was the glen or cup of bare hills, slabs, and slopes of sand and stone calcined in the sun, and, beyond these near things, all the plain of Lombardy was at my feet.

It was this which made it worth while to have toiled up that steep wall, and even to have lost my way—to see a hundred miles of the great flat stretched out before me: all the kingdoms of the world.

Nor was this all. There were sharp white clouds on the far northern horizon, low down above the uncertain edge of the world. I looked again and found they did not move. Then I knew they were the Alps.

Believe it or not, I was looking back to a place of days before: over how many, many miles of road! The rare, white peaks and edges could not deceive me; they still stood to the sunlight, and sent me from that vast distance the memory of my passage, when their snows had seemed interminable and their height so monstrous; their cold such a cloak of death. Now they were as far off as childhood, and I saw them for the last time.

All this I drew. Then finding a post directing me to a side road for Calestano, I followed it down and down into the valley beyond; and up the walls of this second valley as the evening fell I heard the noise of the water running, as the Taro had run, a net of torrents from the melting snows far off. These streams I soon saw below me, winding (as those of the Taro had wound) through a floor of dry shingle and rock; but when my road ceased suddenly some hundreds of feet above the bed of the river, and when, full of evening, I had scrambled down through trees to the brink of the water, I found I should have to repeat what I had done that morning and to ford these streams. For there was no track of any kind and no bridge, and Calestano stood opposite me, a purple cluster of houses in the dusk against the farther mountain side.

Very warily, lobbing stones as I had been taught, and following up and down each branch to find a place, I forded one by one the six little cold and violent rivers, and reaching the farther shore, I reached also, as I thought, supper, companionship, and a bed.

But it is not in this simple way that human life is arranged. What awaited me in Calestano was ill favour, a prison, release, base flattery, and a very tardy meal.

It is our duty to pity all men. It is our duty to pity those who are in prison. It is our duty to pity those who are not in prison. How much more is it the duty of a Christian man to pity the rich who cannot ever get into prison? These indeed I do now specially pity, and extend to them my commiseration.

What! Never even to have felt the grip of the policeman; to have watched his bold suspicious eye; to have tried to make a good show under examination... never to have heard the bolt grinding in the lock, and never to have looked round at the cleanly simplicity of a cell? Then what emotions have you had, unimprisonable rich; or what do you know of active living and of adventure?

It was after drinking some wine and eating macaroni and bread at a poor inn, the only one in the place, and after having to shout at the ill-natured hostess (and to try twenty guesses before I made her understand that I wanted cheese), it was when I had thus eaten and shouted, and had gone over the way to drink coffee and to smoke in a little cafe, that my adventure befell me.

In the inn there had been a fat jolly-looking man and two official-looking people with white caps dining at another table. I had taken no notice of them at the time. But as I sat smoking and thinking in the little cafe, which was bright and full of people, I noticed a first danger-signal when I was told sullenly that 'they had no bed; they thought I could get none in the town': then, suddenly, these two men in white caps came in, and they arrested me with as much ease as you or I would hold a horse.

A moment later there came in two magnificent fellows, gendarmes, with swords and cocked hats, and moustaches a l'Abd el Kader, as we used to say in the old days; these four, the two gendarmes and two policemen, sat down opposite me on chairs and began cross-questioning me in Italian, a language in which I was not proficient. I so far understood them as to know that they were asking for my papers.

'Niente!' said I, and poured out on the table a card-case, a sketch-book, two pencils, a bottle of wine, a cup, a piece of bread, a scrap of French newspaper, an old Secolo, a needle, some thread, and a flute—but no passport.

They looked in the card-case and found 73 lira; that is, not quite three pounds. They examined the sketch-book critically, as behoved southerners who are mostly of an artistic bent: but they found no passport. They questioned me again, and as I picked about for words to reply, the smaller (the policeman, a man with a face like a fox) shouted that he had heard me speaking Italian currently in the inn, and that my hesitation was a blind.

This lie so annoyed me that I said angrily in French (which I made as southern as possible to suit them):

'You lie: and you can be punished for such lies, since you are an official.' For though the police are the same in all countries, and will swear black is white, and destroy men for a song, yet where there is a droit administratif- that is, where the Revolution has made things tolerable—you are much surer of punishing your policeman, and he is much less able to do you a damage than in England or America; for he counts as an official and is under a more public discipline and responsibility if he exceeds his powers.

Then I added, speaking distinctly, 'I can speak French and Latin. Have you a priest in Calestano, and does he know Latin?'

This was a fine touch. They winced, and parried it by saying that the Sindaco knew French. Then they led me away to their barracks while they fetched the Sindaco, and so I was imprisoned.

But not for long. Very soon I was again following up the street, and we came to the house of the Sindaco or Mayor. There he was, an old man with white hair, God bless him, playing cards with his son and daughter. To him therefore, as understanding French, I was bidden address myself. I told him in clear and exact idiom that his policemen were fools, that his town was a rabbit-warren, and his prison the only cleanly thing in it; that half-a-dozen telegrams to places I could indicate would show where I had passed; that I was a common tourist, not even an artist (as my sketch-book showed), and that my cards gave my exact address and description.

But the Sindaco, the French-speaking Sindaco, understood me not in the least, and it seemed a wicked thing in me to expose him in his old age, so I waited till he spoke. He spoke a word common to all languages, and one he had just caught from my lips.

'Tourist-e?' he said.

I nodded. Then he told them to let me go. It was as simple as that; and to this day, I suppose, he passes for a very bilingual Mayor. He did me a service, and I am willing to believe that in his youth he smacked his lips over the subtle flavour of Voltaire, but I fear to-day he would have a poor time with Anatole France.

What a contrast was there between the hour when I had gone out of the cafe a prisoner and that when I returned rejoicing with a crowd about me, proclaiming my innocence, and shouting one to another that I was a tourist and had seventy-three lira on my person! The landlady smiled and bowed: she had before refused me a bed! The men at the tables made me a god! Nor did I think them worse for this. Why should I? A man unknown, unkempt, unshaven, in tatters, covered with weeks of travel and mud, and in a suit that originally cost not ten shillings; having slept in leaves and ferns, and forest places, crosses a river at dusk and enters a town furtively, not by the road. He is a foreigner; he carries a great club. Is it not much wiser to arrest such a man? Why yes, evidently. And when you have arrested him, can you do more than let him go without proof, on his own word? Hardly!

Thus I loved the people of Calestano, especially for this strange adventure they had given me; and next day, having slept in a human room, I went at sunrise up the mountain sides beyond and above their town, and so climbed by a long cleft the second spur of the Apennines: the spur that separated me from the third river, the Parma. And my goal above the Parma (when I should have crossed it) was a place marked in the map 'Tizzano'. To climb this second spur, to reach and cross the Parma in the vale below, to find Tizzano, I left Calestano on that fragrant morning; and having passed and drawn a little hamlet called Frangi, standing on a crag, I went on up the steep vale and soon reached the top of the ridge, which here dips a little and allows a path to cross over to the southern side.

It is the custom of many, when they get over a ridge, to begin singing. Nor did I fail, early as was the hour, to sing in passing this the second of my Apennine summits. I sang easily with an open throat everything that I could remember in praise of joy; and I did not spare the choruses of my songs, being even at pains to imitate (when they were double) the various voices of either part.

Now, so much of the Englishman was in me that, coming round a corner of rock from which one first sees Beduzzo hanging on its ledge (as you know), and finding round this corner a peasant sitting at his ease, I was ashamed. For I did not like to be overheard singing fantastic songs. But he, used to singing as a solitary pastime, greeted me, and we walked along together, pointing out to each other the glories of the world before us and exulting in the morning. It was his business to show me things and their names: the great Mountain of the Pilgrimage to the South, the strange rock of Castel-Nuovo; in the far haze the plain of Parma; and Tizzano on its high hill, the ridge straight before me. He also would tell me the name in Italian of the things to hand—my boots, my staff, my hat; and I told him their names in French, all of which he was eager to learn.

We talked of the way people here tilled and owned ground, of the dangers in the hills, and of the happiness of lonely men. But if you ask how we understood each other, I will explain the matter to you.

In Italy, in the Apennines of the north, there seem to be three strata of language. In the valleys the Italian was pure, resonant, and foreign to me. There dwell the townsmen, and they deal down river with the plains. Half-way up (as at Frangi, at Beduzzo, at Tizzano) I began to understand them. They have the nasal 'n'; they clip their words. On the summits, at last, they speak like northerners, and I was easily understood, for they said not 'vino' but 'vin'; not 'duo' but 'du', and so forth. They are the Gauls of the hills. I told them so, and they were very pleased.

Then I and my peasant parted, but as one should never leave a man without giving him something to show by way of token on the Day of Judgement, I gave this man a little picture of Milan, and bade him keep it for my sake.

So he went his way, and I mine, and the last thing he said to me was about a 'molinar', but I did not know what that meant.

When I had taken a cut down the mountain, and discovered a highroad at the bottom, I saw that the river before me needed fording, like all the rest; and as my map showed me there was no bridge for many miles down, I cast about to cross directly, if possible on some man's shoulders.

I met an old woman with a heap of grass on her back; I pointed to the river, and said (in Lingua Franca) that I wished to cross. She again used that word 'molinar', and I had an inkling that it meant 'miller'. I said to myself—

'Where there is a miller there is a mill. For Ubi Petrus ibi Ecclesia. Where there is a mill there is water; a mill must have motive power:' (a) I must get near the stream; (b) I must look out for the noise and aspect of a mill.

I therefore (thanking the grass-bearing woman) went right over the fields till I saw a great, slow mill-wheel against a house, and a sad man standing looking at it as though it were the Procession of God's Providence. He was thinking of many things. I tapped him on the shoulder (whereat he started) and spoke the great word of that valley, 'molinar'. It opened all the gates of his soul. He smiled at me like a man grown young again, and, beckoning me to follow, led radiantly up the sluice to where it drew from the river.

Here three men were at work digging a better entry for the water. One was an old, happy man in spectacles, the second a young man with stilts in his hands, the third was very tall and narrow; his face was sad, and he was of the kind that endure all things and conquer. I said 'Molinar?'' I had found him.

To the man who had brought me I gave 50 c., and so innocent and good are these people that he said 'Pourquoi?' or words like it, and I said it was necessary. Then I said to the molinar, 'Quanta?' and he, holding up a tall finger, said 'Una Lira'. The young man leapt on to his stilts, the molinar stooped down and I got upon his shoulders, and we all attempted the many streams of the river Parma, in which I think I should by myself have drowned.

I say advisedly—'I should have been drowned.' These upper rivers of the hills run high and low according to storms and to the melting of the snows. The river of Parma (for this torrent at last fed Parma) was higher than the rest.

Even the molinar, the god of that valley, had to pick his way carefully, and the young man on stilts had to go before, much higher than mortal men, and up above the water. I could see him as he went, and I could see that, to tell the truth, there was a ford—a rare thing in upper waters, because in the torrent-sources of rivers either the upper waters run over changeless rocks or else over gravel and sand. Now if they run over rocks they have their isolated shallow places, which any man may find, and their deep—evident by the still and mysterious surface, where fish go round and round in the hollows; but no true ford continuous from side to side. So it is in Scotland. And if they run over gravel and sand, then with every storm or 'spate' they shift and change. But here by some accident there ran—perhaps a shelf or rock, perhaps a ruin of a Roman bridge—something at least that was deep enough and solid enough to be a true ford—and that we followed.

The molinar—even the molinar—was careful of his way. Twice he waited, waist high, while the man on stilts before us suddenly lost ground and plunged to his feet. Once, crossing a small branch (for the river here, like all these rivers, runs in many arms over the dry gravel), it seemed there was no foothold and we had to cast up and down. Whenever we found dry land, I came off the molinar's back to rest him, and when he took the water again I mounted again. So we passed the many streams, and stood at last on the Tizzanian side. Then I gave a lira to the molinar, and to his companion on stilts 50 c., who said, 'What is this for?' and I said, 'You also helped.'

The molinar then, with gesticulations and expression of the eyes, gave me to understand that for this 50 c. the stilt-man would take me up to Tizzano on the high ridge and show me the path up the ridge; so the stilt-man turned to me and said, 'Andiamo' which means 'Allons'. But when the Italians say 'Andiamo' they are less harsh than the northern French who say 'Allans'; for the northern French have three troubles in the blood. They are fighters; they will for ever be seeking the perfect state, and they love furiously. Hence they ferment twice over, like wine subjected to movement and breeding acidity. Therefore is it that when they say 'Allons' it is harsher than 'Andiamo'. My Italian said to me genially, 'Andiamo'.

The Catholic Church makes men. By which I do not mean boasters and swaggerers, nor bullies nor ignorant fools, who, finding themselves comfortable, think that their comfort will be a boon to others, and attempt (with singular unsuccess) to force it on the world; but men, human beings, different from the beasts, capable of firmness and discipline and recognition; accepting death; tenacious. Of her effects the most gracious is the character of the Irish and of these Italians. Of such also some day she may make soldiers.

Have you ever noticed that all the Catholic Church does is thought beautiful and lovable until she comes out into the open, and then suddenly she is found by her enemies (which are the seven capital sins, and the four sins calling to heaven for vengeance) to be hateful and grinding? So it is; and it is the fine irony of her present renovation that those who were for ever belauding her pictures, and her saints, and her architecture, as we praise things dead, they are the most angered by her appearance on this modern field all armed, just as she was, with works and art and songs, sometimes superlative, often vulgar. Note you, she is still careless of art or songs, as she has always been. She lays her foundations in something other, which something other our moderns hate. Yet out of that something other came the art and song of the Middle Ages. And what art or songs have you? She is Europe and all our past. She is returning. Andiamo.

LECTOR. But Mr (deleted by the Censor) does not think so?

AUCTOR. I last saw him supping at the Savoy. Andiamo.

We went up the hill together over a burnt land, but shaded with trees. It was very hot. I could scarcely continue, so fast did my companion go, and so much did the heat oppress me.

We passed a fountain at which oxen drank, and there I supped up cool water from the spout, but he wagged his finger before his face to tell me that this was an error under a hot sun.

We went on and met two men driving cattle up the path between the trees. These I soon found to be talking of prices and markets with my guide. For it was market-day. As we came up at last on to the little town—a little, little town like a nest, and all surrounded with walls, and a castle in it and a church—we found a thousand beasts all lowing and answering each other along the highroad, and on into the market square through the gate. There my guide led me into a large room, where a great many peasants were eating soup with macaroni in it, and some few, meat. But I was too exhausted to eat meat, so I supped up my broth and then began diapephradizing on my fingers to show the great innkeeper what I wanted.

I first pulled up the macaroni out of the dish, and said, Fromagio, Pommodoro, by which I meant cheese—tomato. He then said he knew what I meant, and brought me that spaghetti so treated, which is a dish for a king, a cosmopolitan traitor, an oppressor of the poor, a usurer, or any other rich man, but there is no spaghetti in the place to which such men go, whereas these peasants will continue to enjoy it in heaven.

I then pulled out my bottle of wine, drank what was left out of the neck (by way of sign), and putting it down said, 'Tale, tantum, vino rosso.' My guide also said many things which probably meant that I was a rich man, who threw his money about by the sixpence. So the innkeeper went through a door and brought back a bottle all corked and sealed, and said on his fingers, and with his mouth and eyes, 'THIS KIND OF WINE IS SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL.'

Only in the foolish cities do men think it a fine thing to appear careless of money. So I, very narrowly watching him out of half-closed eyes, held up my five fingers interrogatively, and said, 'Cinquante?' meaning 'Dare you ask fivepence?'

At which he and all the peasants around, even including my guide, laughed aloud as at an excellent joke, and said, 'Cinquante, Ho! ho!' and dug each other in the ribs. But the innkeeper of Tizzano Val Parmense said in Italian a number of things which meant that I could but be joking, and added (in passing) that a lira made it a kind of gift to me. A lira was, as it were, but a token to prove that it had changed hands: a registration fee: a matter of record; at a lira it was pure charity. Then I said, 'Soixante Dix?' which meant nothing to him, so I held up seven fingers; he waved his hand about genially, and said that as I was evidently a good fellow, a traveller, and as anyhow he was practically giving me the wine, he would make it ninepence; it was hardly worth his while to stretch out his hand for so little money. So then I pulled out 80 c. in coppers, and said, 'Tutto', which means 'all'. Then he put the bottle before me, took the money, and an immense clamour rose from all those who had been watching the scene, and they applauded it as a ratified bargain. And this is the way in which bargains were struck of old time in these hills when your fathers and mine lived and shivered in a cave, hunted wolves, and bargained with clubs only.

So this being settled, and I eager for the wine, wished it to be opened, especially to stand drink to my guide. The innkeeper was in another room. The guide was too courteous to ask for a corkscrew, and I did not know the Italian for a corkscrew.

I pointed to the cork, but all I got out of my guide was a remark that the wine was very good. Then I made the emblem and sign of a corkscrew in my sketch-book with a pencil, but he pretended not to understand—such was his breeding. Then I imitated the mode, sound, and gesture of a corkscrew entering a cork, and an old man next to me said 'Tira-buchon'—a common French word as familiar as the woods of Marly! It was brought. The bottle was opened and we all drank together.

As I rose to go out of Tizzano Val Parmense my guide said to me, 'Se chiama Tira-Buchon perche E' lira il buchon' And I said to him, 'Dominus Vobiscum' and left him to his hills.

I took the road downwards from the ridge into the next dip and valley, but after a mile or so in the great heat (it was now one o'clock) I was exhausted. So I went up to a little wooded bank, and lay there in the shade sketching Tizzano Val Parmense, where it stood not much above me, and then I lay down and slept for an hour and smoked a pipe and thought of many things.

From the ridge on which Tizzano stands, which is the third of these Apennine spurs, to the next, the fourth, is but a little way; one looks across from one to the other. Nevertheless it is a difficult piece of walking, because in the middle of the valley another ridge, almost as high as the principal spurs, runs down, and this has to be climbed at its lowest part before one can get down to the torrent of the Enza, where it runs with a hollow noise in the depths of the mountains. So the whole valley looks confused, and it appears, and is, laborious.

Very high up above in a mass of trees stood the first of those many ruined towers and castles in which the Apennines abound, and of which Canossa, far off and indistinguishable in the haze, was the chief example. It was called 'The Tower of Rugino'. Beyond the deep trench of the Enza, poised as it seemed on its southern bank (but really much further off, in the Secchia valley), stood that strange high rock of Castel-Nuovo, which the peasant had shown me that morning and which was the landmark of this attempt. It seemed made rather by man than by nature, so square and exact was it and so cut off from the other hills.

It was not till the later afternoon, when the air was already full of the golden dust that comes before the fall of the evening, that I stood above the Enza and saw it running thousands of feet below. Here I halted for a moment irresolute, and looked at the confusion of the hills. It had been my intention to make a straight line for Collagna, but I could not tell where Collagna lay save that it was somewhere behind the high mountain that was now darkening against the sky. Moreover, the Enza (as I could see down, down from where I stood) was not fordable. It did not run in streams but in one full current, and was a true river. All the scene was wild. I had come close to the central ridge of the Apennines. It stood above me but five or six clear miles away, and on its slopes there were patches and fields of snow which were beginning to glimmer in the diminishing light.

Four peasants sat on the edge of the road. They were preparing to go to their quiet homesteads, and they were gathering their scythes together, for they had been mowing in a field. Coming up to these, I asked them how I might reach Collagna. They told me that I could not go straight, as I had wished, on account of the impassable river, but that if I went down the steep directly below me I should find a bridge; that thence a path went up the opposite ridge to where a hamlet, called Ceregio (which they showed me beyond the valley), stood in trees on the crest, and once there (they said) I could be further directed. I understood all their speech except one fatal word. I thought they told me that Ceregio was half the way to Collagna; and what that error cost me you shall hear.

They drank my wine, I ate their bread, and we parted: they to go to their accustomed place, and I to cross this unknown valley. But when I had left these grave and kindly men, the echo of their voices remained with me; the deep valley of the Enza seemed lonely, and as I went lower and lower down towards the noise of the river I lost the sun.

The Enza was flooded. A rough bridge, made of stout logs resting on trunks of trees that were lashed together like tripods and supported a long plank, was afforded to cross it. But in the high water it did not quite reach to the hither bank. I rolled great stones into the water and made a short causeway, and so, somewhat perilously, I attained the farther shore, and went up, up by a little precipitous path till I reached the hamlet of Ceregio standing on its hill, blessed and secluded; for no road leads in or out of it, but only mule-paths.

The houses were all grouped together round a church; it was dim between them; but several men driving oxen took me to a house that was perhaps the inn, though there was no sign; and there in a twilight room we all sat down together like Christians in perfect harmony, and the woman of the house served us.

Now when, after this communion, I asked the way to Collagna, they must have thought me foolish, and have wondered why I did not pass the night with them, for they knew how far off Collagna was. But I (by the error in language of which I have told you) believed it to be but a short way off. It was in reality ten miles. The oldest of my companions said he would put me on the way.

We went together in the half light by a lane that followed the crest of the hill, and we passed a charming thing, a little white sculpture in relief, set up for a shrine and representing the Annunciation; and as we passed it we both smiled. Then in a few hundred yards we passed another that was the Visitation, and they were gracious and beautiful to a degree, and I saw that they stood for the five joyful mysteries. Then he had to leave me, and he said, pointing to the little shrine:

'When you come to the fifth of these the path divides. Take that to the left, and follow it round the hollow of the mountain: it will become a lane. This lane crosses a stream and passes near a tower. When you have reached the tower it joins a great highroad, and that is the road to Collagna.'

And when he indicated the shrines he smiled, as though in apology for them, and I saw that we were of the same religion. Then (since people who will not meet again should give each other presents mutually) I gave him the best of my two pipes, a new pipe with letters carved on it, which he took to be the initials of my name, and he on his part gave me a hedge-rose which he had plucked and had been holding in his fingers. And I continued the path alone.

Certainly these people have a benediction upon them, granted them for their simple lives and their justice. Their eyes are fearless and kindly. They are courteous, straight, and all have in them laughter and sadness. They are full of songs, of memories, of the stories of their native place; and their worship is conformable to the world that God made. May they possess their own land, and may their influence come again from Italy to save from jar, and boasting, and ineptitude the foolish, valourless cities, and the garish crowds of shouting men.... And let us especially pray that the revival of the faith may do something for our poor old universities.

Already, when I heard all these directions, they seemed to argue a longer road than I had expected. It proved interminable.

It was now fully dark; the night was very cold from the height of the hills; a dense dew began to fall upon the ground, and the sky was full of stars. For hours I went on slowly down the lane that ran round the hollow of the wooded mountain, wondering why I did not reach the stream he spoke of. It was midnight when I came to the level, and yet I heard no water, and did not yet see the tower against the sky. Extreme fatigue made it impossible, as I thought, to proceed farther, when I saw a light in a window, and went to it quickly and stood beneath it. A woman from the window called me Caro mio, which was gracious, but she would not let me sleep even in the straw of the barn.

I hobbled on in despair of the night, for the necessity of sleep was weighing me down after four high hills climbed that day, and after the rough ways and the heat and the continual marching.

I found a bridge which crossed the deep ravine they had told me of. This high bridge was new, and had been built of fine stone, yet it was broken and ruined, and a gap suddenly showed in the dark. I stepped back from it in fear. The clambering down to the stream and up again through the briars to regain the road broke me yet more, and when, on the hill beyond, I saw the tower faintly darker against the dark sky, I went up doggedly to it, fearing faintness, and reaching it where it stood (it was on the highest ground overlooking the Secchia valley), I sat down on a stone beside it and waited for the morning.

The long slope of the hills fell away for miles to where, by daylight, would have lain the misty plain of Emilia. The darkness confused the landscape. The silence of the mountains and the awful solemnity of the place lent that vast panorama a sense of the terrible, under the dizzy roof of the stars. Every now and again some animal of the night gave a cry in the undergrowth of the valley, and the great rock of Castel-Nuovo, now close and enormous—bare, rugged, a desert place—added something of doom.

The hours were creeping on with the less certain stars; a very faint and unliving grey touched the edges of the clouds. The cold possessed me, and I rose to walk, if I could walk, a little farther.

What is that in the mind which, after (it may be) a slight disappointment or a petty accident, causes it to suffer on the scale of grave things?

I have waited for the dawn a hundred times, attended by that mournful, colourless spirit which haunts the last hours of darkness; and influenced especially by the great timeless apathy that hangs round the first uncertain promise of increasing light. For there is an hour before daylight when men die, and when there is nothing above the soul or around it, when even the stars fail.

And this long and dreadful expectation I had thought to be worst when one was alone at sea in a small boat without wind; drifting beyond one's harbour in the ebb of the outer channel tide, and sogging back at the first flow on the broad, confused movement of a sea without any waves. In such lonely mornings I have watched the Owers light turning, and I have counted up my gulf of time, and wondered that moments could be so stretched out in the clueless mind. I have prayed for the morning or for a little draught of wind, and this I have thought, I say, the extreme of absorption into emptiness and longing.

But now, on this ridge, dragging myself on to the main road, I found a deeper abyss of isolation and despairing fatigue than I had ever known, and I came near to turning eastward and imploring the hastening of light, as men pray continually without reason for things that can but come in a due order. I still went forward a little, because when I sat down my loneliness oppressed me like a misfortune; and because my feet, going painfully and slowly, yet gave a little balance and rhythm to the movement of my mind.

I heard no sound of animals or birds. I passed several fields, deserted in the half-darkness; and in some I felt the hay, but always found it wringing wet with dew, nor could I discover a good shelter from the wind that blew off the upper snow of the summits. For a little space of time there fell upon me, as I crept along the road, that shadow of sleep which numbs the mind, but it could not compel me to lie down, and I accepted it only as a partial and beneficent oblivion which covered my desolation and suffering as a thin, transparent cloud may cover an evil moon.

Then suddenly the sky grew lighter upon every side. That cheating gloom (which I think the clouds in purgatory must reflect) lifted from the valley as though to a slow order given by some calm and good influence that was marshalling in the day. Their colours came back to things; the trees recovered their shape, life, and trembling; here and there, on the face of the mountain opposite, the mists by their movement took part in the new life, and I thought I heard for the first time the tumbling water far below me in the ravine. That subtle barrier was drawn which marks to-day from yesterday; all the night and its despondency became the past and entered memory. The road before me, the pass on my left (my last ridge, and the entry into Tuscany), the mass of the great hills, had become mixed into the increasing light, that is, into the familiar and invigorating Present which I have always found capable of opening the doors of the future with a gesture of victory.

My pain either left me, or I ceased to notice it, and seeing a little way before me a bank above the road, and a fine grove of sparse and dominant chestnuts, I climbed up thither and turned, standing to the east.

There, without any warning of colours, or of the heraldry that we have in the north, the sky was a great field of pure light, and without doubt it was all woven through, as was my mind watching it, with security and gladness. Into this field, as I watched it, rose the sun.

The air became warmer almost suddenly. The splendour and health of the new day left me all in repose, and persuaded or compelled me to immediate sleep.

I found therefore in the short grass, and on the scented earth beneath one of my trees, a place for lying down; I stretched myself out upon it, and lapsed into a profound slumber, which nothing but a vague and tenuous delight separated from complete forgetfulness. If the last confusion of thought, before sleep possessed me, was a kind of prayer—and certainly I was in the mood of gratitude and of adoration—this prayer was of course to God, from whom every good proceeds, but partly (idolatrously) to the Sun, which, of all the things He has made, seems, of what we at least can discover, the most complete and glorious.

Therefore the first hours of the sunlight, after I had wakened, made the place like a new country; for my mind which received it was new. I reached Collagna before the great heat, following the fine highroad that went dipping and rising again along the mountain side, and then (leaving the road and crossing the little Secchia by a bridge), a path, soon lost in a grassy slope, gave me an indication of my way. For when I had gone an hour or so upwards along the shoulder of the hill, there opened gradually before me a silent and profound vale, hung with enormous woods, and sloping upwards to where it was closed by a high bank beneath and between two peaks. This bank I knew could be nothing else than the central ridge of the Apennines, the watershed, the boundary of Tuscany, and the end of all the main part of my journey. Beyond, the valleys would open on to the Tuscan Plain, and at the southern limit of that, Siena was my mark; from Siena to Rome an eager man, if he is sound, may march in three long days. Nor was that calculation all. The satisfaction of the last lap, of the home run, went with the word Tuscany in my mind; these cities were the approaches and introduction of the end.

When I had slept out the heat, I followed the woods upward through the afternoon. They stood tangled and huge, and the mosses under them were thick and silent, because in this last belt of the mountains height and coolness reproduced the north. A charcoal burner was making his furnace; after that for the last miles there was no sound. Even the floor of the vale was a depth of grass, and no torrent ran in it but only a little hidden stream, leafy like our streams at home.

At last the steep bank, a wall at the end of the valley, rose immediately above me. It was very steep and bare, desolate with the many stumps of trees that had been cut down; but all its edge and fringe against the sky was the line of a deep forest.

After its laborious hundreds of feet, when the forest that crowned it evenly was reached, the Apennines were conquered, the last great range was passed, and there stood no barrier between this high crest and Rome.

The hither side of that bank, I say, had been denuded of its trees; the roots of secular chestnuts stood like graves above the dry steep, and had marked my last arduous climb. Now, at the summit, the highest part was a line of cool forest, and the late afternoon mingled with the sanctity of trees. A genial dampness pervaded the earth beneath; grasses grew, and there were living creatures in the shade.

Nor was this tenanted wood all the welcome I received on my entry into Tuscany. Already I heard the noise of falling waters upon every side, where the Serchio sprang from twenty sources on the southern slope, and leapt down between mosses, and quarrelled, and overcame great smooth dark rocks in busy falls. Indeed, it was like my own country in the north, and a man might say to himself—'After so much journeying, perhaps I am in the Enchanted Wood, and may find at last the fairy Melisaunde.'

A glade opened, and, the trees no longer hiding it, I looked down the vale, which was the gate of Tuscany. There—high, jagged, rapt into the sky—stood such a group of mountains as men dream of in good dreams, or see in the works of painters when old age permits them revelations. Their height was evident from the faint mist and grey of their hues; their outline was tumultuous, yet balanced; full of accident and poise. It was as though these high walls of Carrara, the western boundary of the valley, had been shaped expressly for man, in order to exalt him with unexpected and fantastic shapes, and to expand his dull life with a permanent surprise. For a long time I gazed at these great hills.

Then, more silent in the mind through their influence, I went down past the speech and companionship of the springs of the Serchio, and the chestnut trees were redolent of evening all round. Down the bank to where the streams met in one, down the river, across its gaping, ruinous bridge (which some one, generations ago, had built for the rare travellers—there were then no main roads across the Apennine, and perhaps this rude pass was in favour); down still more gently through the narrow upper valley I went between the chestnut trees, and calm went with me for a companion: and the love of men and the expectation of good seemed natural to all that had been made in this blessed place. Of Borda, where the peasants directed me, there is no need to speak, till crossing the Serchio once more, this time on a trestle bridge of wood, I passed by a wider path through the groves, and entered the dear village of Sillano, which looks right into the pure west. And the peaks are guardians all about it: the elder brothers of this remote and secluded valley.

An inn received me: a great kitchen full of men and women talking, a supper preparing, a great fire, meat smoking and drying in the ingle-nook, a vast timbered roof going up into darkness: there I was courteously received, but no one understood my language. Seeing there a young priest, I said to him—

'Pater, habeo linguam latinam, sed non habeo linguam Italicam. Visne mi dare traductionem in istam linguam Toscanam non nullorum verborum?'

To this he replied, 'Libenter,' and the people revered us both. Thus he told me the name for a knife was cultello; for a room, camera par domire; for 'what is it called?' 'come si chiama?'; for 'what is the road to?' 'quella e la via a...?' and other phrases wherein, no doubt, I am wrong; but I only learnt by ear.

Then he said to me something I did not understand, and I answered, 'Pol-Hercle!' at which he seemed pleased enough.

Then, to make conversation, I said, 'Diaconus es?'

And he answered me, mildly and gravely, 'Presbyter sum.'

And a little while after he left for his house, but I went out on to the balcony, where men and women were talking in subdued tones. There, alone, I sat and watched the night coming up into these Tuscan hills. The first moon since that waning in Lorraine—(how many nights ago, how many marches!)—hung in the sky, a full crescent, growing into brightness and glory as she assumed her reign. The one star of the west called out his silent companions in their order; the mountains merged into a fainter confusion; heaven and the infinite air became the natural seat of any spirit that watched this spell. The fire-flies darted in the depths of vineyards and of trees below; then the noise of the grasshoppers brought back suddenly the gardens of home, and whatever benediction surrounds our childhood. Some promise of eternal pleasures and of rest deserved haunted the village of Sillano.

In very early youth the soul can still remember its immortal habitation, and clouds and the edges of hills are of another kind from ours, and every scent and colour has a savour of Paradise. What that quality may be no language can tell, nor have men made any words, no, nor any music, to recall it—only in a transient way and elusive the recollection of what youth was, and purity, flashes on us in phrases of the poets, and is gone before we can fix it in our minds—oh! my friends, if we could but recall it! Whatever those sounds may be that are beyond our sounds, and whatever are those keen lives which remain alive there under memory—whatever is Youth—Youth came up that valley at evening, borne upon a southern air. If we deserve or attain beatitude, such things shall at last be our settled state; and their now sudden influence upon the soul in short ecstasies is the proof that they stand outside time, and are not subject to decay.

This, then, was the blessing of Sillano, and here was perhaps the highest moment of those seven hundred miles—or more. Do not therefore be astonished, reader, if I now press on much more hurriedly to Rome, for the goal is almost between my hands, and the chief moment has been enjoyed, until I shall see the City.

Now I cry out and deplore me that this next sixty miles of way, but especially the heat of the days and the dank mists of the night, should have to be told as of a real journey in this very repetitive and sui-similar world. How much rather I wish that being free from mundane and wide-awake (that is to say from perilously dusty) considerations and droughty boredoms, I might wander forth at leisure through the air and visit the regions where everything is as the soul chooses: to be dropped at last in the ancient and famous town of Siena, whence comes that kind of common brown paint wherewith men, however wicked, can produce (if they have but the art) very surprising effects of depth in painting: for so I read of it in a book by a fool, at six shillings, and even that was part of a series: but if you wish to know anything further of the matter, go you and read it, for I will do nothing of the kind.

Oh to be free for strange voyages even for a little while! I am tired of the road; and so are you, and small blame to you. Your fathers also tired of the treadmill, and mine of the conquering marches of the Republic. Heaven bless you all!

But I say that if it were not for the incredulity and doubt and agnostico-schismatical hesitation, and very cumbersome air of questioning-and-peering-about, which is the bane of our moderns, very certainly I should now go on to tell of giants as big as cedars, living in mountains of precious stones, and drawn to battle by dragons in cars of gold; or of towns where the customs of men were remote and unexpected; of countries not yet visited, and of the gods returning. For though it is permissible, and a pleasant thing (as Bacon says), to mix a little falsehood with one's truth (so St Louis mixed water with his wine, and so does Sir John Growl mix vinegar with his, unless I am greatly mistaken, for if not, how does he give it that taste at his dinners? eh? There, I think, is a question that would puzzle him!) yet is it much more delectable, and far worthier of the immortal spirit of man to soar into the empyrean of pure lying—that is, to lay the bridle on the neck of Pegasus and let him go forward, while in the saddle meanwhile one sits well back, grips with the knee, takes the race, and on the energy of that steed visits the wheeling stars.

This much, then, is worth telling of the valley of the Serchio, that it is narrow, garrulous with water brawling, wooded densely, and contained by fantastic mountains. That it has a splendid name, like the clashing of cymbals—Garfagnana; that it leads to the Tuscan plain, and that it is over a day's march long. Also, it is an oven.

Never since the early liars first cooked eggs in the sand was there such heat, and it was made hotter by the consciousness of folly, than which there is no more heating thing; for I think that not old Championnet himself, with his Division of Iron, that fought one to three and crushed the aged enormities of the oppressors as we would crush an empty egg, and that found the summer a good time for fighting in Naples, I say that he himself would not have marched men up the Garfagnana in such a sun. Folly planned it, Pride held to it, and the devils lent their climate. Garfagnana! Garfagnana! to have such a pleasant name, and to be what you are!

Not that there were not old towers on the steep woods of the Apennine, nor glimpses of the higher peaks; towns also: one castle surrounded by a fringe of humble roofs—there were all these things. But it was an oven. So imagine me, after having passed chapels built into rocks, and things most curious, but the whole under the strain of an intolerable sun, coming, something after midday, to a place called Castel-Nuovo, the first town, for Campogiamo is hardly a town.

At Castel-Nuovo I sat upon a bridge and thought, not what good men think (there came into my memory no historical stuff; for all I know, Liberty never went by that valley in arms); no appreciation of beauty filled me; I was indifferent to all save the intolerable heat, when I suddenly recognized the enormous number of bridges that bespattered the town.

'This is an odd thing,' I mused. 'Here is a little worriment of a town up in the hills, and what a powerful lot of bridges!'

I cared not a fig for the thousand things I had been told to expect in Tuscany; everything is in a mind, and as they were not in my mind they did not exist. But the bridges, they indeed were worthy of admiration!

Here was a horrible little place on a torrent bank. One bridge was reasonable for by it went the road leading south to Lucca and to Rome; it was common honour to let men escape. But as I sat on that main bridge I counted seven others; indeed there must have been a worship of a bridge-god some time or other to account for such a necklace of bridges in such a neglected borough.

You may say (I am off hard on the road to Borgo, drooping with the heat, but still going strongly), you may say that is explicable enough. First a thing is useful, you say, then it has to become routine; then the habit, being a habit, gets a sacred idea attached to it. So with bridges: e.g. Pontifex; Dervorguilla, our Ballici saint that built a bridge; the devil that will hinder the building of bridges; cf. the Porphyry Bridge in the Malay cosmogony; Amershickel, Brueckengebildung im kult-Historischer. Passenmayer; Durat, Le pont antique, etude sur les origines Toscanes; Mr Dacre's The Command of Bridges in Warfare; Bridges and Empire, by Captain Hole, U.S.A. You may say all this; I shall not reply. If the heat has hindered me from saying a word of the fine open valley on the left, of the little railway and of the last of the hills, do you suppose it will permit me to discuss the sanctity of bridges? If it did, I think there is a little question on 'why should habit turn sacred?' which would somewhat confound and pose you, and pose also, for that matter, every pedant that ever went blind and crook-backed over books, or took ivory for horn. And there is an end of it. Argue it with whom you will. It is evening, and I am at Borgo (for if many towns are called Castel-Nuovo so are many called Borgo in Italy), and I desire to be free of interruption while I eat and sleep and reflect upon the error of that march in that heat, spoiling nearly thirty miles of road, losing so many great and pleasurable emotions, all for haste and from a neglect of the Italian night.

And as I ate, and before I slept, I thought of that annotated Guide Book which is cried out for by all Europe, and which shall tell blunt truths. Look you out 'Garfagnana, district of, Valley of Serchio' in the index. You will be referred to p. 267. Turn to p. 267. You will find there the phrase—

'One can walk from the pretty little village of Sillano, nestling in its chestnut groves, to the flourishing town of Borgo on the new Bagni railway in a day.'

You will find a mark [1] after that phrase. It refers to a footnote. Glance (or look) at the bottom of the page and you will find:

[1] But if one does one is a fool.

So I slept late and uneasily the insufficient sleep of men who have suffered, and in that uneasy sleep I discovered this great truth: that if in a southern summer you do not rest in the day the night will seem intolerably warm, but that, if you rest in the day, you will find coolness and energy at evening.

The next morning with daylight I continued the road to Lucca, and of that also I will say nothing.

LECTOR. Why on earth did you write this book?

AUCTOR. For my amusement.

LECTOR. And why do you suppose I got it?

AUCTOR. I cannot conceive... however, I will give up this much, to tell you that at Decimo the mystery of cypress trees first came into my adventure and pilgrimage: of cypress trees which henceforward were to mark my Tuscan road. And I will tell you that there also I came across a thing peculiar (I suppose) to the region of Lucca, for I saw it there as at Decimo, and also some miles beyond. I mean fine mournful towers built thus: In the first storey one arch, in the second two, in the third three, and so on: a very noble way of building.

And I will tell you something more. I will tell you something no one has yet heard. To wit, why this place is called Decimo, and why just below it is another little spot called Sexta.


AUCTOR. I know what you are going to say! Do not say it. You are going to say: 'It is because they were at the sixth and tenth milestones from Lucca on the Roman road.' Heaven help these scientists! Did you suppose that I thought it was called Decimo because the people had ten toes? Tell me, why is not every place ten miles out of a Roman town called by such a name? Eh? You are dumb. You cannot answer. Like most moderns you have entirely missed the point. We all know that there was a Roman town at Lucca, because it was called Luca, and if there had been no Roman town the modern town would not be spelt with two c's. All Roman towns had milestones beyond them. But why did this tenth milestone from this Roman town keep its name?

LECTOR. I am indifferent.

AUCTOR. I will tell you. Up in the tangle of the Carrara mountains, overhanging the Garfagnana, was a wild tribe, whose name I forget (unless it were the Bruttii), but which troubled the Romans not a little, defeating them horribly, and keeping the legionaries in some anxiety for years. So when the soldiers marched out north from Luca about six miles, they could halt and smile at each other, and say 'At Sextant... that's all right. All safe so far!' and therefore only a little village grew up at this little rest and emotion. But as they got nearer the gates of the hills they began to be visibly perturbed, and they would say: 'The eighth mile! cheer up!' Then 'The ninth mile! Sanctissima Madonna! Have you seen anything moving on the heights?' But when they got to the tenth milestone, which stands before the very jaws of the defile, then indeed they said with terrible emphasis, 'Ad Decimam!' And there was no restraining them: they would camp and entrench, or die in the venture: for they were Romans and stern fellows, and loved a good square camp and a ditch, and sentries and a clear moon, and plenty of sharp stakes, and all the panoply of war. That is the origin of Decimo.

For all my early start, the intolerable heat had again taken the ascendant before I had fairly entered the plain. Then, it being yet but morning, I entered from the north the town of Lucca, which is the neatest, the regularest, the exactest, the most fly-in-amber little town in the world, with its uncrowded streets, its absurd fortifications, and its contented silent houses—all like a family at ease and at rest under its high sun. It is as sharp and trim as its own map, and that map is as clear as a geometrical problem. Everything in Lucca is good.

I went with a short shadow, creeping when I could on the eastern side of the street to save the sunlight; then I came to the main square, and immediately on my left was the Albergo di Something-or-other, a fine great hotel, but most unfortunately right facing the blazing sky. I had to stop outside it to count my money. I counted it wrong and entered. There I saw the master, who talked French.

'Can you in an hour,' said I, 'give me a meal to my order, then a bed, though it is early day?' This absurd question I made less absurd by explaining to him my purpose. How I was walking to Rome and how, being northern, I was unaccustomed to such heat; how, therefore, I had missed sleep, and would find it necessary in future to walk mainly by night. For I had now determined to fill the last few marches up in darkness, and to sleep out the strong hours of the sun.

All this he understood; I ordered such a meal as men give to beloved friends returned from wars. I ordered a wine I had known long ago in the valley of the Saone in the old time of peace before ever the Greek came to the land. While they cooked it I went to their cool and splendid cathedral to follow a late Mass. Then I came home and ate their admirable food and drank the wine which the Burgundians had trodden upon the hills of gold so many years before. They showed me a regal kind of a room where a bed with great hangings invited repose.

All my days of marching, the dirty inns, the forests, the nights abroad, the cold, the mists, the sleeplessness, the faintness, the dust, the dazzling sun, the Apennines—all my days came over me, and there fell on me a peaceful weight, as his two hundred years fell upon Charlemagne in the tower of Saragossa when the battle was done; after he had curbed the valley of Ebro and christened Bramimonde.

So I slept deeply all day long; and, outside, the glare made a silence upon the closed shutters, save that little insects darted in the outer air.

When I woke it was evening. So well had they used me that I paid what they asked, and, not knowing what money remained over, I left their town by the southern gate, crossed the railway and took the road.

My way lay under the flank of that mountain whereby the Luccans cannot see Pisa, or the Pisans cannot see Lucca—it is all one to me, I shall not live in either town, God willing; and if they are so eager to squint at one another, in Heaven's name, cannot they be at the pains to walk round the end of the hill? It is this laziness which is the ruin of many; but not of pilgrims, for here was I off to cross the plain of Arno in one night, and reach by morning the mouth and gate of that valley of the Elsa, which same is a very manifest proof of how Rome was intended to be the end and centre of all roads, the chief city of the world, and the Popes' residence—as, indeed, it plainly is to this day, for all the world to deny at their peril, spiritual, geographical, historical, sociological, economic, and philosophical.

For if some such primeval and predestinarian quality were not inherent in the City, how, think you, would the valley of the Serchio—the hot, droughty, and baking Garfagnana—lead down pointing straight to Rome; and how would that same line, prolonged across the plain, find fitting it exactly beyond that plain this vale of the Elsa, itself leading up directly towards Rome? I say, nowhere in the world is such a coincidence observable, and they that will not take it for a portent may go back to their rationalism and consort with microbes and make their meals off logarithms, washed down with an exact distillation of the root of minus one; and the peace of fools, that is the deepest and most balmy of all, be theirs for ever and ever.

Here again you fall into errors as you read, ever expecting something new; for of that night's march there is nothing to tell, save that it was cool, full of mist, and an easy matter after the royal entertainment and sleep of the princely Albergo that dignifies Lucca. The villages were silent, the moon soon left the sky, and the stars could not show through the fog, which deepened in the hours after midnight.

A map I had bought in Lucca made the difficulties of the first part of the road (though there were many cross-ways) easy enough; and the second part, in midnight and the early hours, was very plain sailing, till—having crossed the main line and having, at last, very weary, come up to the branch railway at a slant from the west and north, I crossed that also under the full light—I stood fairly in the Elsa valley and on the highroad which follows the railway straight to Siena. That long march, I say, had been easy enough in the coolness and in the dark; but I saw nothing; my interior thoughts alone would have afforded matter for this part; but of these if you have not had enough in near six hundred miles of travel, you are a stouter fellow than I took you for.

Though it was midsummer, the light had come quickly. Long after sunrise the mist dispersed, and the nature of the valley appeared.

It was in no way mountainous, but easy, pleasant, and comfortable, bounded by low, rounded hills, having upon them here and there a row of cypresses against the sky; and it was populous with pleasant farms. Though the soil was baked and dry, as indeed it is everywhere in this south, yet little regular streams (or canals) irrigated it and nourished many trees—- but the deep grass of the north was wanting.

For an hour or more after sunrise I continued my way very briskly; then what had been the warmth of the early sun turned into the violent heat of day, and remembering Merlin where he says that those who will walk by night must sleep by day, and having in my mind the severe verses of James Bayle, sometime Fellow of St Anne's, that 'in Tuscan summers as a general rule, the days are sultry but the nights are cool' (he was no flamboyant poet; he loved the quiet diction of the right wing of English poetry), and imagining an owlish habit of sleeping by day could be acquired at once, I lay down under a tree of a kind I had never seen; and lulled under the pleasant fancy that this was a picture-tree drawn before the Renaissance, and that I was reclining in some background landscape of the fifteenth century (for the scene was of that kind), I fell asleep.

When I woke it was as though I had slept long; but I doubted the feeling. The young sun still low in the sky, and the shadows not yet shortened, puzzled me. I looked at my watch, but the dislocation of habit which night marches produce had left it unwound. It marked a quarter to three, which was absurd. I took the road somewhat stiffly and wondering. I passed several small white cottages; there was no clock in them, and their people were away. At last in a Trattoria, as they served me with food, a woman told me it was just after seven; I had slept but an hour.

Outside, the day was intense; already flies had begun to annoy the darkened room within. Through the half-curtained door the road was white in the sun, and the railway ran just beyond.

I paid my reckoning, and then, partly for an amusement, I ranged my remaining pence upon the table, first in the shape of a Maltese cross, then in a circle (interesting details!). The road lay white in the sunlight outside, and the railway ran just beyond.

I counted the pence and the silver—there was three francs and a little over; I remembered the imperial largesse at Lucca, the lordly spending of great sums, where, now in the pocket of an obsequious man, the pounds were taking care of themselves. I remembered how at Como I had been compelled by poverty to enter the train for Milan. How little was three francs for the remaining twenty-five miles to Siena! The road lay white in the sunlight, and the railway ran just beyond.

I remembered the pleasing cheque in the post-office of Siena; the banks of Siena, and the money changers at their counters changing money at the rate of change.

'If one man,' thought I, 'may take five per cent discount on a sum of money in the exchange, may not another man take discount off a walk of over seven hundred miles? May he not cut off it, as his due, twenty-five miserable little miles in the train?' Sleep coming over me after my meal increased the temptation. Alas! how true is the great phrase of Averroes (or it may be Boa-ed-din: anyhow, the Arabic escapes me, but the meaning is plain enough), that when one has once fallen, it is easy to fall again (saving always heavy falls from cliffs and high towers, for after these there is no more falling).... Examine the horse's knees before you buy him; take no ticket-of-leave man into your house for charity; touch no prospectus that has founders' shares, and do not play with firearms or knives and never go near the water till you know how to swim. Oh! blessed wisdom of the ages! sole patrimony of the poor! The road lay white in the sun, and the railway ran just beyond.

If the people of Milo did well to put up a statue in gold to the man that invented wheels, so should we also put one up in Portland stone or plaster to the man that invented rails, whose property it is not only to increase the speed and ease of travel, but also to bring on slumber as can no drug: not even poppies gathered under a waning moon. The rails have a rhythm of slight falls and rises... they make a loud roar like a perpetual torrent; they cover up the mind with a veil.

Once only, when a number of men were shouting 'POGGI-BON-SI,' like a war-cry to the clank of bronze, did I open my eyes sleepily to see a hill, a castle wall, many cypresses, and a strange tower bulging out at the top (such towers I learned were the feature of Tuscany). Then in a moment, as it seemed, I awoke in the station of Siena, where the railway ends and goes no farther.

It was still only morning; but the glare was beyond bearing as I passed through the enormous gate of the town, a gate pierced in high and stupendous walls that are here guarded by lions. In the narrow main street there was full shade, and it was made cooler by the contrast of the blaze on the higher storeys of the northern side. The wonders of Siena kept sleep a moment from my mind. I saw their great square where a tower of vast height marks the guildhall. I heard Mass in a chapel of their cathedral: a chapel all frescoed, and built, as it were, out of doors, and right below the altar-end or choir. I noted how the city stood like a queen of hills dominating all Tuscany: above the Elsa northward, southward above the province round Mount Amiato. And this great mountain I saw also hazily far off on the horizon. I suffered the vulgarities of the main street all in English and American, like a show. I took my money and changed it; then, having so passed not a full hour, and oppressed by weariness, I said to myself:

'After all, my business is not with cities, and already I have seen far off the great hill whence one can see far off the hills that overhang Rome.'

With this in my mind I wandered out for a quiet place, and found it in a desolate green to the north of the city, near a huge, old red-brick church like a barn. A deep shadow beneath it invited me in spite of the scant and dusty grass, and in this country no one disturbs the wanderer. There, lying down, I slept without dreams till evening.

AUCTOR. Turn to page 94.

LECTOR. I have it. It is not easy to watch the book in two places at once; but pray continue.

AUCTOR. Note the words from the eighth to the tenth lines.


AUCTOR. They will make what follows seem less abrupt.

Once there was a man dining by himself at the Cafe Anglais, in the days when people went there. It was a full night, and he sat alone at a small table, when there entered a very big man in a large fur coat. The big man looked round annoyed, because there was no room, and the first man very courteously offered him a seat at his little table. They sat down and ate and talked of several things; among others, of Bureaucracy. The first maintained that Bureaucracy was the curse of France.

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