Part 3 out of 6
handkerchief waved its adieu, George felt, that sad as the parting was,
he should have felt it more _bitterly_ if they had loved him less.
To divert their minds from thoughts of a melancholy nature, Sir Henry,
as the boat made a turn of the land, and was no longer visible, proposed
exploring the cabin. This they found small, but cleanly. Some hampers of
fruit, and a quantity of ice, exhibited agreable proofs of the attention
of Acme's relations. We may, by the way, observe, that rarely does the
sense of the palate assert its supremacy with greater force than on
board-ship. There will the _thought_--much more the _reality_--of a
mellow pine--or juicy pomegranate--cause the mouth to water for the best
part of a long summer's day. On their ascending the deck, the captain
approached Sir Henry.
"No offence! Sir; but I guess the wind is fair. If you want nothing
ashore, we will off, Sir, _now_! if you please."
How disagreable is the act of leaving harbour in a merchant ship!
Even sailors dislike it, and growl between their teeth, like captive
bears. The chains of the anchor clank gratingly on the ear. The very
chorus of the seamen smacks of the land, and wants the rich and free
tone that characterises it in mid-sea. Hoarse are the mandates of the
boat-swain! his whistle painfully shrill! The captain walks the deck
thoughtfully, and frowningly ruminates on his bill of lading--or on some
over-charge in the dock duties--or, it may be, on his dispute on shore
with a part owner of the vessel.
And anon, he shakes off these thoughts, and looks on the
weather-side--then upwards at the the masts--and, as he notes the
proceedings, his orders are delivered fiercely, and his passions seem
The vessel, too, seems to share the general feeling--is loath to
leave the port.
She unsteadily answers the call of her canvas--her rigging creaks--and
her strong sides groan--as she begins lazily and slowly to make her way.
Glad to turn their attention to anything rather than the scene around,
George began conversing on the effect the attentions of his company and
brother officers had had on him.
"Their kindness," said George, "was wholly unexpected by me, and I felt
it very deeply. An hour before, I fancied that Acme and my own family
monopolised every sympathy I possessed. But, thank God! the heart has
many hidden channels through which kindness may steal, and infuse its
"_I_ felt it, too, George!" said his brother, "and was anxious as to the
effect the scene might have on you. I am glad it _was_ unexpected. We
are sometimes better enabled to enact our parts improvising them, than
when we have schooled ourselves, and braced all our energies to the one
"Acme, how did you like the way George's men behaved?"
"It made me weep with joy," replied the young Greek, "for I love all who
love my Giorgio."
"Adieu! the joys of La Valette."
* * * * *
"No more! no more! No! never more on me
The freshness of the heart shall fall like dew."
* * * * *
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder,
Isle of Beauty! fare thee well."
Malta! the snowy sail shivers in the wind--the waves, chafed by our
intruding keel, are proudly foaming--sea birds soar, screaming their
farewell aloft--as we wave our hand to thee for ever! What is our
feeling, as we see thee diminish hourly?
Regret! unfeigned regret!
Albeit we speed to our native land, on the wing of a bark as fleet as
ever--but it matters not--_thou_ hast seen the best of our days.
Visions conjured up by thee, have the unusual power, to banish
anticipations of Almack's glories, and of home flirtations.
We are recalling balls enjoyed in thee, loved island! the valse spun
round with the darling fleet-footed Maltese, who during its pauses leant
back on our arm, against which her spangled zone throbbed, from the
pulsations of her heart.
Dreams of turtle and of grand master--the _fish_, not the
_official_--and of consecutive iced champagne, mock our sight! But
more--yes! far more than all, are we reminded of thy abode--thou
dispenser of cheering liquids! thou promoter of convivial happiness!
meek Saverio! How swiftly glided the mirth-loving nights as--the
enchanting strains of the prima donna hushed--we adjourned to thy ever
to be praised bottegua!
With what precision didst thou there mete out the many varied
ingredients--the exact relative proportions--which can alone embody our
conception of the nectar of the Gods, punch a la Romaine!
Whose cigars ever equalled thine, thou prince of Ganymedes? and when
were cigars more justly appreciated, than as our puffs kept time with
the trolling ditty, resounding through the walls of thy domain?
The luxury of those days!
Then would Sol come peeping in upon us; as unwelcome and unlooked-for
a visitant, as to the enamoured Juliet, when she sighing told her
"'Twas but a meteor that the sun exhaled,
To be to him that night a torch-bearer,
And light him on his way to Mantua."
Then, with head dizzy from its gladness, with heart unduly elate, has
the Strada Teatro seen us, imperiously calling for the submissive
caleche. Arrived in our chamber, how gravely did we close its shutters!
With what a feeling of satisfied enjoyment, did we court the downy
freshness of the snow-white sheet!
Sweet and deep were our slumbers--for youth's spell was upon us, and
our fifth lustre had not _yet_ heralded us to serious thoughts and
Awoke by the officious valet, and remorseless friend, deemest though
our debauch was felt? No! an effervescent draught of soda calmed us; we
ate a blood orange, and smoked a cigar!
We often hear Malta abused. Byron is the stale authority; and every
snub-nosed cynic turns up his prominent organ, and talks of "sirocco,
sun, and sweat." Byron disliked it--he had cause. He was there at a bad
season, and was suffering from an attack of bile. _We_ know of no place
abroad, where the English eye will meet with so little to offend it, and
so much to please and impress.
There is such a blending together of European, Asiatic, and African
customs; there is such a variety in the costumes one meets; there is
such grandeur in their palaces--such glory in their annals; such novelty
in their manners and habits; such devotion in their religious
observances; such simplicity and yet such beauty, in the dress of the
women; and their wearers possess such fascinations; that we defy the
most fastidious of critics, who has really resided there, to deny to
Malta many of those attributes, with which he would invest that place,
on whose beauty and agremens, he may prefer of all others to descant.
With the commonplace observer, its superb harbour, studded with gilded
boats; its powerful fortifications, where art towers over nature, and
where the eye looks up a rock, and catches a bristling battery; the
glare of its scenery, with no foliage to cover the white stone;--all
these, together with the different way in which the minutiae of life are
transacted,--will call forth his attention, and demand his notice.
Art thou a poet, or a fancied warrior? What scene has been more replete
with noble exploits? In whose breasts did the flame of chivalry burn
brighter, than in those of the knights of St. John of Jerusalem? Not a
name meets thee, that has not belonged to a hero! If thou grievest to
find all dissimilar _but_ the name; yet mayest thou still muse,
contemplative, over the tomb and ashes of him, whom thy mind has
shadowed forth, as a noble light in a more romantic age.
Art thou a moralist, a thinking Christian? Thou mayest there trace--and
the pursuit shall profit thee--the steps of the sainted apostle; he who
was so signally called forth, to hear witness to the truth of ONE, whom
he had erst reviled. Yon cordelier will show you the bay, where his
vessel took refuge in its distress; and will tell you, that yon jagged
rock first gave its dangerous welcome, to the bark of his patron saint.
Lovest thou music? hast loved? or been beloved? or both perchance?
Steal forth when night holds her starry court, and the guitars around
are tinkling, as more than one rich voice deplores his mistress's
cruelty, in hopes she may now relent. But see! _there_ is one, who puts
in requisition neither music's spell, nor flattery's lay.
See! he approaches. His cloak wrapped around him, he cautiously treads
the tranquil street.
He gains the portico--the signal is given. Who but an expectant maiden
could hear one so slight?
Hark! a sound! cautiously the lattice opens--above him blushes the fair
one! How brightly her dark eye flashes! how silver soft the tones of
The stern father--the querulous mother--the tricked duenna--all--all
are slumbering. She leans forward, and her ear drinks in his honied
words; as her head is supported by her snowy arm.
And now he whispers more passionately. She answers not, but hides her
face in her hands. She starts! she throws back her hair from her brow;
she waves a white fazzolet, and is gone.
Not thus flies the lover. He crouches beneath the Ionic portico, his
figure hardly discernible. A bolt--the last bolt is withdrawn. A form is
dimly seen within--retiring, timid, repentant.
Sweet the task to calm that throbbing heart, or teach it to throb no
more with fear!
But let him of melancholy mood, wander to the deserted village. A more
fearful calamity has befallen it, than ever attended the soft shades, of
the one conjured up by the poet.
_Here_ the demon Plague, with baneful wing, and pestilential influence,
tarried for many days; till not one--no! not one soul of that village
train--that did not join his bygone fathers.
Stray along its grass-grown roofless tenements! where _your_ echo alone
breaks the silence, as it startles from its resting-place the slumbering
owl--for who would dwell in abodes so marked for destruction? Stray
there! think of the gentle contadina diffusing happiness around her!
_then_ think of her as she supports the youth she loves--as she clasps
his faint form--and drinks in a poisonous contagion from his pallid lip.
Think of her as the disease seizes on its new victim--still
attempting to prop up his head--to reach the cup, that may relieve
his maddening thirst,--until, giddy and overpowered, she sinks at
last; but--beside him!
Think of their dying together! _that_ at least is a solace.
Do not the scene and the thought draw a tear?
If your eye be dry, come--come away--_your_ step should not sound there!
The wind continued fair during the whole of the first day. Every trace
of Valletta was soon lost; and the good barque Boston swept by the rocky
coast of the island, where few human habitations meet the eye, swiftly
and cheerily. The sea birds sported round the tall masts--the canvas
bulged out bravely--the Captain forgot his shore griefs, and commenced a
colloquy with Sir Henry. The sailors sung in chorus; whilst poor
Acme,--we grieve to confess the fact, for never was a Mediterranean sea
looked down on by brighter sun, or more cloudless sky,--retired to her
cabin, supported by George, a prey to that unsentimental malady, sea
sickness. The following day, the wind shifted some points; and the
Captain judged it most prudent to forego his original intention of
steering direct for Palermo; but to take advantage of the breeze, and
adopt the passage through the Faro of Messina.
Delme felt glad of this change; for Scylla and Charybdis to an
Englishman, are as familiar as Whittington and his cat. For the first
two days Acme continued unwell; and George, who already appeared
improved by the sea air, never left her side.
Delme had therefore a dull time of it; which he strove to enliven by
conversing, one after the other, with the Captain and his two mates.
From all of them, he learnt something; but from all he turned away, as
they commenced discussing the comparative merits of the United States,
and the old country; a subject he had neither the wish to enter on, nor
fortitude to prosecute. Not daunted, he attacked mate the third; and was
led to infer better things, as the young gentleman commenced expatiating
on the "purple sky," and "dark blue sea." This hope did not last long;
for this lover of nature turned round to Sir Henry, and asked him in a
nasal twang, if he preferred Cooper's or Mr. Scott's novels? Delme was
not naturally a rude man, but as he turned away, he hummed something
very like Yankee-doodle.
And then the moon got up; and Sir Henry felt lonely and sentimental. He
leant over the vessel's side, and watched it pictured on the ocean, and
quivering as the transient billow swept onwards. And he thought of home,
and Emily. He thought of his brother, his heir,--if he died, the only
male to inherit the ancient honours of his house,--married to a
stranger, and--but Acme was too sweet a being, not to have already
enlisted all his sympathies with her. And as if all these thoughts, like
rays converged in a burning glass, did but tend to one object, the image
of Julia Vernon suddenly rose before him.
He saw her beautiful as ever--gentleness in her eye--fascination in
And the air got cold--and he went to bed.
A Dream and a Ghost Story.
"Touching this eye-creation;
What is it to surprise us? Here we are
Engendered out of nothing cognisable--
If this were not a wonder, nothing is;
If this be wonderful, then all is so.
Man's grosser attributes can generate
What _is_ not, and has never been at all;
What should forbid his fancy to restore
A being pass'd away? The wonder lies
In the mind merely of the wondering man."
It was the fourth evening of the voyage. Hardly a breath fanned the
sails, as the vessel slowly glided between the Calabrian and Sicilian
coasts, approaching quite close to the former.
The party, seated on chairs placed on the deck, gazed in a spirit of
placid enjoyment on one of those scenes, which the enthusiastic
traveller often recals, as in his native clime, he pines for foreign
lands, and for novel impressions. The sun was setting over the purple
peaks of the Calabrian mountains, smiling in sunny gladness on deep
ravines, whose echoes few human feet now woke, save those of simple
peasant, or lawless bandit. Where the orb of day held its declining
course, the sky wore a hue of burnished gold; its rich tint alone
varied, by one fleecy violet cloud, whose outline of rounded beauty, was
marked by a clear cincture of white,
On their right, beneath the mountain, lay the little village of Capo del
Marte, a perfect specimen of Italian scenery.
Its sandy beach, against which the tide beat in dalliance--the chafed
spray catching and reflecting the glories of the setting sun--ran
smoothly up a slope of some thirty yards; beyond which, the orange
trees, in their greenest foliage, chequered with their shade the white
cottages scattered above them.
The busy hum of the fishermen on the coast--the splash of the casting
net--and the drip of the oar--were appropriate accompaniments to the
On the Sicilian side, a different view wooed attention. There, old Etna
upreared his encumbered head, around which the smoke clung in dense
majesty; and--not contemptible rivals of the declining deity--the moon's
silvery crescent, and the evening star's quiet splendour, were bedecking
the cloudless blue of the firmament.
Acme gazed enraptured on the scene--her long tresses hanging back on the
chair, across which one hand was languidly thrown.
"Giorgio," said she, "do you see this beautiful bird close to the
ship--swimming so steadily--its snowy plumage apparently unwet from its
contact with the wave? To what can you compare it?"
"That bright-eyed gull, love!" replied he, "riding on the water as if
all regardless that he is on the wide--wide sea--whose billows may so
soon be lashed up to madness;--where may I find a resemblance more
close, than my Acme's simplicity, which guides her through a troubled
world, unknowing its treacheries, and happily ignorant of its dangers
and its woes?"
"Ah!" said the blushing girl, "how poetical you are this evening; will
you tell us a story, Giorgio?"
"_I_ will tell you one," said Delme, interrupting her. "Do you recollect
old Featherstone, who had been in the civil service in India, and who
lived so near Delme Park, George?"
"Perfectly," said his brother, "I remember I used to think him mad,
because he always looked so melancholy, and used to send us word in the
morning when he contemplated a visit; in order that all cats might be
kept out of his way."
"The very man! I am glad you know so much about him, for it is on this
subject I was going to speak. I cannot tell you where he picked up the
idea originally--but I believe in a dream--that a cat would occasion
"Well! he was at Ascot one year, when a gipsy woman came up to him on
the course--told him his fortune--and, to his utter astonishment, warned
him to beware of the wild cat.
"From that moment, I understand his habits changed. From being a
tolerably cheerful companion, he became a wretched hypochondriac; all
his energies being directed to the avoiding a contact with any of the
"Featherstone, two or three years ago, embarked in one of the mining
speculations--lost great part of his fortune--and found it necessary to
try and retrieve his affairs, by a second voyage to India.
"I heard nothing more of him, till just before leaving England, when
my old school-fellow, Lockhart, who went as a cadet to the East,
called on me--reminded me of our old whimsical friend--and related
his tragic death.
"Lockhart says that one day he and some mutual friends, persuaded
Featherstone to accompany them into the interior of the country, to
enjoy the diversion of a boar hunt.
"They had had good sport, and were returning homewards, when they
suddenly came on a party of natives, headed by the Rajah.
"They were mounted on elephants, and surrounding a jungle, in which, as
some sepoys had reported, lay a tiger.
"You know Lockhart's manner--animated and enthusiastic--making one see
the scene he is describing.
"I will try and clothe the rest of the story in his own words, although I
can hardly hope it will make the same impression on you, that its
recital did on me.
"'Well, Sir! we all said we would see the sport--all but
Featherstone--who said something about coming on.
"'We were engaged to dine with Sir John M----, who was in that part of
the world, on some six-and-eightpenny mission about indigo.
"'The beaters went in, firing and shouting--intending to make him break
towards the hunting party.
"'We all drew up on one side, to be in view, but out of the way;
Featherstone was next me. He suddenly grasped my arm, and pointed to the
jungle, his teeth chattering--his face ashy pale. I turned and saw the
tiger!--a splendid beast--certainly!
"'He seemed not to notice us, and stalked on with an innocent yep! yep!
like a sick hound's, more than anything else.
"'Suddenly his eye caught us, and flashed fire. At the first view, he
crouched to the earth, then came on us, bounding like a tost foot-ball.
More magnificent leaps I never beheld! We were struck dumb--but
fired--and turned our horses' heads!--all but Featherstone.
"'I shall remember the tones of his voice to my dying hour.
"'"The cat! Lockhart! the cat!"
"'I don't know whether his horse refused the spur--or whether the rider's
nerve was gone: but neither appeared to make an effort, till the animal
was close on them.
"'The horse gave one plunge--and had hardly recovered his feet, when down
went horse and rider.
"'Featherstone gave a piercing scream! Some of the sepoys were by this
time up--and fired.
"'The tiger trailed off--the blood spouting down his striped side.
"'We came up--it was all over!
"'The first stroke of that terrific paw had laid the unfortunate man's
scull bare. On his shoulder, were the marks of the animal's teeth.
"'The horse was still writhing in agony. One of my pistols relieved him.
"'We bore Featherstone to the nearest cantonment, and buried him there.'"
"How terrible!" said Acme, as she gave a slight shudder. "Englishmen are
generally more sceptical on these points than we are; and disbelieve
supernatural appearances, which we are accustomed to think are not
unfrequent. I could tell you many stories, which, in my native island,
were believed by our enemies the Turks, as well as by ourselves: but if
you would like it, I will tell you a circumstance that occurred to
myself, the reality of which I dare not doubt.
"You have often, Giorgio! heard me revert with pain, to the horrible
scene which took place, on the recapture of our little isle by the
infidel Turks; when my family were massacred, and only poor Acme left to
tell their tale."
Here the young bride put her handkerchief to her face, and wept
bitterly. George put his arm round her and soothed her. She continued
"You know my escape, and how I was sent to a kinsman, who had promised
to have me sent to my kind friends in Malta. He was a Corfuote, and it
was in Corfu I remained for a long--a very long time--and there first
met my dear friend, Zoee Scalvo-Forressi. I was then very young. We lived
in the Campagna--about four miles from each other.
"We had both our Greek ponies, and used often to pass the evenings
together; and at length knew our road so well, that often it was night
before we parted.
"One night, we had been singing together at her house, and it was later
than usual when I cantered home.
"About four months had elapsed previous to my landing in Corfu, and I had
been eight months there; although at the time, I paid little attention
to these circumstances.
"My road lay through an olive grove. I had arrived in its centre, where
a small knoll stretched away on my right; on whose summit, was a white
Greek monastery, backed by some dark cypress trees.
"The moon was shining brightly--dancing on the silver side of the olive
trees--and illuminating the green sward.
"This was smooth and verdant.
"My spirits were more than usually buoyant, when suddenly my pony
"I could not conceive the reason.
"I looked before me. Immediately in front of me, was the shattered trunk
of an old olive tree--it had been blasted by lightning--and sitting
quietly at its foot--I saw my own mother, Giorgio! as clearly as I see
you now. I could not be mistaken. She wore the same embroidered vest and
Albanian shawl, as when I had last seen her.
"She conversed with me calmly for many minutes, and--which surprised me
much at the time--I felt no dread, and asked her and answered many
"She told me I should die early, in a foreign land; and many--many more
things, which I dare not repeat; for I cannot contemplate the
possibility of their being true.
"At the time, I told you I felt composed: without any sense of alarm
or surprise. For many days afterwards, however, I never left my bed
"I told my kinsman all the circumstances, and he discovered beyond a
doubt, that it was on that very day, the twelve-month previous, that my
poor mother had been murdered."
Sir Henry and George tried to smile at Acme's story, and account for
what she had seen;--but her manner was so impressive, and her ingenious
reasonings--delivered in the most earnest tone--seemed to confute so
entirely all their speculations, that they were at length content to
deem it "wondrous strange."
In the best and wisest of us, there is such a tendency to believe in a
mysterious link, connecting the living and the departed; that a story
of this nature, in exciting our feelings, serves to paralyse our
reasoning faculties, and leaves us half converts, to the doctrines that
we faintly combat.
They looked forth again on the scene. The mountains of Calabria were
frowning on them. The village was far behind--and not a straggling light
marked its situation.
Numberless stars were reflected on the glassy water, whose serenity was
no longer ruffled by wing of sea bird, which long ere now had returned
to its "wave girded nest."
Our party and the watch were the only lingerers on deck.
George wrapped Acme's silk cloak around her, and then carefully assisted
her in her descent to the cabin.
The Mad House.
"And see the mind's convulsion leave it weak."
The land breeze continued to freshen, and the first dawn of morning saw
our party on deck, scanning with near view, the opposite coasts of
Sicily and Italy, as their vessel glided through the Faro of Messina.
Some pilot boats,--how unlike those which greet the homeward-bound
voyager, as he first hails Britain's chalky cliffs--crowded around the
vessel, offering their services to guide it through the strait.
Avarice--one incentive to language--had endowed these Sicilian mariners
with a competent knowledge of English, which they dealt out
As the Captain made his selection, the rejected candidates failed not
to use that familiar English salam; half the gusto of which is lost,
when used by foreign lip.
On the Calabrian coast, the sea-port town of Reggio wore an unusual air
of bustle and animation.
It was a festa day there; and groups of peasants, in many-coloured
costumes, paced up and down the mole; emitting that joyous hum, which
is the never-failing concomitant of a happy crowd. Passing through
the Faro, the vessel's course lay by the northern coast of Sicily.
The current and wind were alike favourable, as it swept on by Melazzo
Etna, towering over the lesser mountains, became once more visible; its
summit buried in the clouds of heaven.
On the right, a luminous crimson ring revealed Stromboli, whose fitful
volcano was more than usually active.
The following day our party arrived at Palermo. So pleasurable had been
their voyage, that it was with a feeling akin to regret, that they heard
the rumbling chains of the anchor, rush through the hawse-hole, as
their vessel took her station in the bay.
After going through those wearisome forms, which a foreign sea-port
exacts; and which appear purposely intended, to temper the rapture of
the sea-worn voyager, as he congratulates himself on once more treading
terra firma; our party found themselves the inmates of the English
hotel; and spent the remainder of the day in engaging a cicerone, and in
discussing plans for the morrow.
The morrow came--sunny and cloudless--and the cicerone bowed to the
ground, as he opened the door of the commodious fiacre.
"Where shall I drive to, Sir?"
"What were our plans, George?" said Sir Henry.
"I think," replied George, "that we only formed one plan to change it
for another. Let the cicerone decide for us."
_He,_ nothing loath, accepted the charge; and taking his station on the
box of the carriage, directed the driver.
The carriage first stopped before a large stone building. The bell was
rung--a veteran porter presented himself--and our party entered the
"What place is this?" said Delme.
"This," rejoined his guide, with the true cicerone fluency, "is the
famous lunatic asylum, instituted by the illustrious Baron Pisani. This,
gentlemen, is the Baron!"
Here a benevolent-looking little man with a large nose, took off his
"So much approved of was his beneficent design, that our noble King, and
our paternal Government, have not only adopted it; but have graciously
permitted the Baron, to continue to preside over that institution, which
he so happily commenced, and which he so refulgently adorns."
During this announcement, the Baron's face flushed with a simple, but
These praises did not to him appear exaggerated; for his intentions had
been of the purest, and in this institution was his whole soul wrapt up.
Acme became somewhat pale, as she heard where they were, and looked
nervously at George; who could not forbear smiling, as he begged they
would be under no apprehensions.
"Yes! gentlemen," said the Baron, "circumstances in early life made me
regard mental disease as the most fearful of all. I observed its victims
struggling between reason and insanity; goaded on by the ignorance of
empirics, and the harsh treatment of those about them, until light fled
the tortured brain, and madness directed its every impulse. You,
gentlemen, are English travellers, I perceive! In _your_ happy land,
where generosity and wealth go hand in hand, there are, I doubt not,
many humane institutions, where those, who--bowed down by misfortunes,
or preyed on by disease--have lost the power to take care of themselves,
may find a home, where they may be anxiously tended, and carefully
"Here we knew not of such things.
"I have said, gentlemen, that chance made me feel a deep interest in
these unfortunates. I sunk the greater part of my fortune, in
constructing this mansion, trusting that the subscriptions of
individuals, would enable me to prosecute the good work.
"In this I was disappointed; but our worthy Viceroy, who took an interest
in my plans, laid the matter before the Government, which--as Signer
Guiseppe observes--has not only undertaken to support my asylum, but
also permits me to preside over the establishment. _That_, gentlemen, is
my apartment, with the mignionette boxes in front, and without iron bars
in the window; though indeed these very bars are painted, at my
suggestion, such a delicate green, that you might not have been aware
that they were such.
"This is our first chamber--cheerful and snug. Here are the patients
first brought. We indulge them in all their caprices, until we are
enabled to decide with certainty, on the fantasy the brain has conjured
up. From this room, we take them to the adjacent bed-room, where we
administer such remedies as we think the best fitted to restore reason.
"If these fail, we apportion the patient a cell, and consider the case as
beyond our immediate relief. We cure, on an average, two-thirds of the
cases forwarded to us; and there have been instances of the mind's
recovering its tone, after a confinement of some years."
"How many inmates have you in the asylum at present?" said Acme.
"One hundred and thirty-six, eighty-six of whom are males. These are our
baths, to which they are daily taken; this the refectory; this the
parlatorio, where they see their friends; and now, if the lady is not
afraid, we will descend to the court yard, and see my charges."
"There is no fear?" said George.
"Not in the least. Our punishment is so formidable, that few will incur
it by being refractory."
"What! then you are obliged to punish them?" said Acme, with a shudder.
"Sometimes, but not often. I will show you what our punishment consists
in. You see this room without furniture! Observe the walls and floor;
and even the door as it closes. All these are carefully stuffed; and if
you walk across the room, there is no sound.
"We cautiously search violent lunatics; who are then dressed in a plain
flannel suit, and left alone. It is seldom we have occasion to retain
them longer than twenty-four hours. They soon find they cannot injure
themselves; their most violent efforts cannot elicit a sound. Their
minds become calmed; and when released, they are perfectly quiet, and
generally inclined to melancholy."
They descended to the court yard, set apart for the men. Its inmates
were pacing it hurriedly; some jabbering to themselves; others with
groups round them, to whom they addressed some quickly delivered jargon.
With one or two exceptions, all noticed the entrance of the strangers;
and some of them bowed to them, with mock gravity. One man, who wore an
old cocked hat with a shabby feather, tapped Sir Henry on the shoulder.
"Vous me reconnaissez--Napoleon! votre Empereur!"
He wheeled round, and called for his Mamelukes.
The next moment, a young and interesting looking person came forward,
the tears standing in his, eyes, and extended his hand to Acme.
"Give me yours," said he, "as a great favour. I was a painter once in
Naples--and I went to Rome--and I loved Gianetta Cantieri!"
A more ludicrous incident now occurred. At and since their entrance,
our party had heard what seemed the continued bark of a dog. A man on
all fours came forward from behind a group, and with unmeaning face,
and nostril snuffing up the wind, imitated to perfection the deep bay
of a mastiff.
"That man's peculiarity," observed the Baron, "is an extraordinary one.
He had a cottage near Catania, and had saved some little wealth. His
house was one night robbed of all it contained. This misfortune preyed
on the man's reason, and he now conceives himself a watch dog. He knows
the step of every inmate of the asylum, and only barks at strangers."
From the male court yard, the Baron ushered them to the female, where
insanity assumed a yet more melancholy shape.
A pale-faced maniac, with quivering frame, and glaring eye-balls,
continued to cry, in a low and piteous tone, "Murder! murder!!
One woman, reclining on the cold pavement, dandled a straw, and called
it her sweet child; while another hugged a misshapen block of wood to
her bared breast, and deemed it her true love.
A third was on her knees, and at regular intervals, bent down her
shrivelled body, and devoured the gravel beneath her.
Acme was happy to leave the scene, and move towards the garden; which
was extensive, and beautifully laid out.
As they turned down one of the alleys, they encountered five or six men,
drawn up in line, and armed with wooden muskets.
In front stood Napoleon, who, with stentorian voice, gave the word to
"present arms!" then dropping his stick, and taking off his hat to
Delme, began to converse familiarly with him, as with his friend Emperor
Alexander, as to the efficiency of Poniatowski and his Polish lancers.
"Poor fellow!" said the Baron, as they moved on. "Never was insanity
more harmless! He was once brigade major to Murat. This is his hour for
exercise. Exactly at two, he goes through the scene of Fontainbleau,
What will appear to you extraordinary is, that over the five or six men
you saw around him, whose madness has been marked by few distinguishing
traits, he has gradually assumed a superiority, until they now believe
him to be, in reality, the Emperor he so unconsciously personates."
In the garden, which was of considerable size, were placed a number of
swings and whirligigs, in full motion and occupancy.
On a stuccoed wall, were represented grotesque figures of animals
dancing; opposite to which, one of Terpsichore's votaries, with a
paper cap on his head, shaped like a pyramid, was executing agile
capers, whose zeal of purpose would have found infinite favour in the
eyes of Laporte.
Having explored the garden, Delme accompanied the Baron to a small room,
where the sculls of the deceased maniacs were ranged on shelves, with a
small biographical note attached to each; and heard with attention, the
old man's energetic reasoning, as to these fully demonstrating the truth
of Spurzheim's theory.
Acme, meantime, remained on George's arm, talking to a girl of
thirteen, who had been selected to conduct them to the carriage.
They entered their names in a book at the lodge, and then, turning to
the benevolent director, paid him some well deserved compliments, for
which he bowed low and often.
The young girl, who had been conversing most rationally with Acme, moved
forward, and made a signal for the carriage to drive up.
She was a fair-haired gentle-looking creature, with quiet eye, and
silvery voice. She assisted Acme to step into the carriage, who
dropped a piece of silver into her hand, for which she gave a sweet
smile and a curtsey.
She stood a moment motionless. Suddenly her eye lighted up--she darted
into the carriage, and clapped her hands together joyfully.
"Viva! viva! we shall soon be home at Trapani!"
The tears sprang to the eyes of the young Greek.
Even the driver and cicerone were moved.
Acme took some flowers from her zone--kissed her cheek--and tried to
change the current of her thoughts; but it was not till the driver
promised he would call again, at the same hour the following day, that
she consented with a sigh to relinquish her journey home.
From the Lunatic Asylum, our party adjourned to the Duomo, and beheld
the coffin, where the revered body of the Palermitan Saint, attracts
many a devout Catholic.
Sweet Rosalia! thy story is a pretty one--thy festa beauteous--the
fireworks in thy honour most bright. No wonder the fair Sicilians adore
In the cool of the evening, our travellers drove to the Marina; where
custom--the crowded assemblage--and the grateful sea breeze--nightly
attract the gay inhabitants of Palermo.
The carriages, with their epauletted chasseurs, swept on in giddy
succession, and made a scene quite as imposing as is witnessed in most
Delme did not think it advisable, to remain too long in the metropolis
of Sicily; and the travellers contented themselves, with the
sight-seeing of the immediate neighbourhood.
They admired the mosaics of the Chiesa di Monte Reale; and fed the
pheasants, at that beautiful royal villa, well styled "the Favourite."
They took a boat to witness the tunny fishery; and Sir Henry explored
alone the vast catacombs--that city of the dead.
After a few days thus passed--the weather continuing uncommonly
fine--they did not hesitate to engage one of the small vessels of the
place, to convey them to Naples.
After enjoying their evening drive as usual, they embarked on board the
Sparonara, one fine starry night, in order to get the full advantage of
the favouring night breeze.
End of the First Volume.
A Love Story
"My thoughts, like swallows, skim the main,
And bear my spirit back again
Over the earth, and through the air,
A wild bird and a wanderer."
A Love Story.
"And be it mine to muse there, mine to glide
From day-break when the mountain pales his fire,
Yet more and more, and from the mountain top,
Till then invisible, a smoke ascends,
Solemn and slow."
"Vedi Napoli! e poi muori!"
Memory! beloved memory! to us thou art as hope to other men. The
present--solitary, unexciting--where are its charms? The future hath no
joys in store for us; and may bereave us of some of the few faint
pleasures that still are ours.
What then is left us--old before our time--but to banquet on the past?
Memory! thou art in us, as the basil of the enamoured
Florentine. [Footnote 1: See Keats' poem taken from Boccaccio.] Thy
blossoms, thy leaves,--green, fresh, and fragrant,--draw their nurture,
receive their every colouring, from what was dearest to us on earth. And
are they not watered by our tears?
The poet tells us--
"Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
But it is not so. Where is he of the tribe of the unfortunate, who would
not gladly barter the contemplation of present wretchedness, for the
remembrance, clogged as it is by a thousand woes, of a time when joyous
visions flitted across life's path?
Yes! though the contrast, the succeeding moment, should cut him to the
"Joy's recollection is no longer joy,
Whilst sorrow's memory is a sorrow still."
Ah! there's the rub! yet, better to think it _was_ joy, than gaze unveiled
on the cold reality around; than view the wreck--the grievous wreck--a
few short years have made.
We care not,--and, alas! to such as we have in our mind's eye, these are
the only cases allowed,--we care not! whether rapture has been succeeded
by apathy, or whether the feelings continue as deeply enlisted--the
thoughts as intensely concentrated;--but--in the servitude of despair!
And again we say--gentle memory! let us dream over our past joys! ay! and
brood over our sorrows--undeserved--as in this hour of solitude, we may
justly deem them.
Yes! let us again live over our days of suffering, and deem it wiser to
steep our soul in tears, than let it freeze with an iced coating of cynic
And shall adversity--that touchstone--softened as our hearts shall thus
be--shall it pass over us, and improve us not?
No! it has purifying and cleansing qualities; and for us, it has them
not in vain.
We are not dust, to be more defiled by water; nor are we as the turbid
stream, which passing over driven snow, becomes more impure by the
Thee, Mnemosyne! let us still adore; content rather to droop, fade, and
die--martyrs to thee! than linger on as beasts of the forest, that know
thee not. No hope may be ours to animate the future: let us still cling to
thee, though thine influence sadden the past.
Away! we are on the placid sea! and Naples lies before us.
The sun had just risen from ocean's bed, attired in his robe of gold; as
our travellers watched from the deck of their Sparonara, to catch the
first view of the "garden of the world," as the Neapolitans fondly style
A dim haze was abroad, the mists were slowly stealing up the mountains, as
their vessel glided on; a light breeze anon filling its canvas, then dying
away, and leaving the sails to flap against the loosened cordage.
On their left, extended the charming heights of Posilipo---the classic
site of Baia--Pozzuoli--Nisida--and Ischia, to be reverenced for its wine.
On their right, Capra's isle and Portici--and Vesuvius--wreathed in
vapour, presented themselves.
As their vessel held on her way, Naples became visible--its turrets capt
by a solitary cloud, which had not yet acknowledged the supremacy of the
The effulgence of the city was dimmed, but it was lovely still,--as a
diamond, obscured by a passing breath; or woman's eye, humid from
"And this," said Sir Henry, for it happened that his travels in Italy had
not extended so far south, "this is Naples! and this sea view the second
finest in the world!"
"Which is the first?" said Acme, laughing, "not in England, I trust; for
we foreigners do not invest your island with beauty's attributes."
"My dear Acme!" replied Sir Henry, somewhat gravely, "I trust the day may
arrive, when you will deem Delme Park, with its mansion bronzed by
time--its many hillocks studded with ancient trees--its glistening brook,
and hoary gateways--its wooded avenue, where the rooks have built for
generations--its verdant glades, where the deer have long found a
home:--when you will consider all these, as forming as fair a prospect, as
ever eye reposed on. But I did not allude at the time to England; but to
the Turkish capital. George! I remember your glowing description of your
trip in Mildmay's frigate, up the Dardanelles. What comparison would you
make between the two scenes?"
"I confess to have been much disappointed," replied George, "in my first
view of Stamboul; and even the beauty of the passage to the Dardanelles,
seemed to me to have been exaggerated. But what really _did_ strike me, as
being the most varied, the most interesting scenery I had ever witnessed,
was that which greeted us, on an excursion we made in a row boat, from the
Bosphorus into the Black Sea.
"There all my floating conceptions of Oriental luxury, and of Moslem pomp,
were more than realised.
"The elegant kiosks--the ornamented gardens--the pinnacled harems, the
entrance to which lofty barriers jealously guarded--the number of the
tombs in their silent cities---gave an intense interest to the Turkish
coast;--while sumptuous barges, filled with veiled women, swept by us, and
gave a fairy charm to the sea. On our return, we were nearly lost from our
ignorance of the current, which is rapid and dangerous."
"Well! I am glad to hear such a smiling account of Stamboul," rejoined
Acme. "My feelings regarding it have been quite Grecian. It has always
been to me a sort of Ogre city."
The breeze began to freshen, and the vessel made way fast.
As they neared the termination of their voyage, some church, or casino
bedecked with statues, or fertile glen, whose sides blushed with the
luscious grape, opened at every instant, and drew forth their admiration.
Their little vessel swung to her anchor.
The busy hum of the restless inhabitants, and the joyous toll of the
churches, announcing one of the never-failing Neapolitan processions, was
borne on the breeze.
The whole party embarked for the quarantine office, and--once authorised
to join the throng of Naples--soon found themselves in the Strada Toledo,
moving towards the Santa Lucia.
Their hotel was near the mole; its windows commanding an extensive view of
the purple sea, beyond which the eye took in the changeful volcano; and
many a vista--sunny, smiling, and beauteous enough, for the exacting fancy
of an Englishman, who conjures up for an Italian landscape, marble-like
villas--and porticoes, where grapes cluster, in festoons of the
vine--heaving mountains--a purple sky--faces bronzed, but oh how
fair!--and song, revelry, and grace.
But what struck Acme, and even Sir Henry, who was more inured to the whirl
of cities, as the characteristical feature of Naples, was its moving life.
In the streets, there was an incessant bustle from morning until midnight.
Each passer by wore an air of importance, almost amounting to a
consciousness of happiness. There was fire in the glance--speech in the
action--on the lip a ready smile.
In no city of Italy, does care seem more misplaced. The noble rolls on in
his vehicle on the Corso, with features gay and self-possessed; while the
merry laugh of the beggar--as he feasts on the lengthened honors of his
Macaroni--greets the ear at every turn. Stray not there! oh thou with brow
furrowed by anguish!
If thy young affections have been blighted--if hope fondly indulged, be
replaced by despair--if feelings that lent their roseate hue, to the
commonest occurrences of life, now darken every scene--if thou knowest
thyself the accessary to this, thy misery, stray not in Naples, all too
joyous for thee!
Rather haunt the shrines of the world's ancient mistress! Perchance the
sunken pillar--and the marble torso--and the moss-grown edifice--and the
sepulchre, with the owl as tenant--and the thought that the great, the
good, and the talented, who reared these fading monuments--are silent and
mouldering below: mayhap these things will speak to thy heart, and repress
the full gush of a sorrow that may not be controlled! And if--the martyr
to o'er-sicklied refinement--to sentiment too etherialised for the world,
where God hath placed thee--ideal woes have stamped a wrinkle on the brow,
and ideal dreams now constitute thy pleasure and thy bane: for such as
thou art! living on feeling's excess--soaring to rapture's heights--or
sinking to despair's abyss--Naples is not fitting!
Visit the city of the sea! there indulge thy shapeless imaginings--with no
sound to break thy day dreams--save the shrill cry of the gondolier, and
the splash of his busy oar.
The young Greek, Delme, and George, were soon immersed in the round of
Visits to the ancient palace of Queen Joanna--to the modern villa of the
Margravine--to the Sibyl's Cave, and to Maro's Tomb--to _some_ sites that
owed their interest to classic associations--to _others_ that claimed it
from present beauty--wiled away days swiftly and pleasurably.
What with youth, change of scene, and an Italian sky, George was no
longer an invalid. His eye wore neither the film of apathy, nor the
unnatural flush of delirium; but smiled its happiness on all, and beamed
its love on Acme.
One night they were at the Fondo, and after listening delightedly to
Lalande, and following with quick glance, the rapid movements of the agile
ballerina, and after George had been honoured by a bow--which greatly
amused Acme--from the beautiful princess; who, poor girl! _then_ felt a
penchant for Englishmen, which she failed not to avow from her opera
box--the party agreed to walk home to the hotel. On their way, they turned
into a coffee-room to take ice.
The fluent waiter prattled over his catalogue; and Acme selected his
"sorbetto Maltese," because the name reminded her of the loved island.
Leaving the coffee-room, they were accosted by a driver of one of the
"Now, Signore! just in time for Vesuvius! See the sun rise! superb sight!
"Do let us go!" said Acme, clapping her hands with youthful enthusiasm.
"No, no! my dear!" said Sir Henry, "we must not think of it! you would be
"No, no! you do not know how strong I am; and I intend sleeping on
George's shoulder all the way--and we are all in such high spirits--and
these improvised excursions you yourself granted were always best--and
besides, you know we must always start at this hour, if we expect to see
the sunrise from the mountain. What do _you_ say, Giorgio?"
The discussion ended, by the driver taking the direction of the hotel;
whence, after making arrangements as to provisions and change of dress,
the party started for the mountain.
The warm cheek of Acme was reposing on that of her husband; and the wanton
night air was disporting with her wavy tresses, as the loud halloo of the
driver, warned them that they were in Portici, and in the act of arousing
Salvador, the guide to the mountain. After some short delay, they procured
mules. Each brother armed himself with a long staff, and leaving the
carriage, they wended their way towards the Hermitage.
It was a clear night. The moon was majestically gliding on her path,
vassalled by myriads of stars.
There was something in the hour--and the scene--and the novelty of the
excursion--that enjoined silence.
Arrived at the Hermitage, the party dismounted. Acme clung to the strap,
fastened round their guide, and they commenced the ascent. In a short
time, they had manifest proofs of their vicinity to the volcano. The
ashy lava gave way at each footstep, and it was only by taking short and
quick steps, and perseveringly toiling on, that they were enabled to
make any progress.
More than once, was Acme inclined to stop, and take breath, but the guide
assured them they were already late, and that they would only just be in
time for the sunrise.
As the last of the party reached the summit, the sun became
perceptible--and rose in glory indescribable. The scene afar how gorgeous!
around them how grand!
Panting from their exertions, they sat on a cloak of Salvador's, and gazed
with astonishment at the novelties bursting on the eye.
Each succeeding moment, gusts of flame issued forth from the crater.
They looked down on the bason, above which they were. From a conical
pyramid of lava, were emitted volumes of smoke, which rolled up to heaven
in rounded and fantastic shapes of beauty. Below, a deep azure--above, of
a clear amber hue--the clouds wreathed and ascended majestically, as if
in time to the rumbling thunder--the accompaniments of nature's
Their fatigues were amply repaid. Sir Henry's curiosity was aroused, and
he descended with the guide to the crater. George and Acme, delighted with
the excursion, remained on the summit, partaking of Salvador's provisions.
The descent they found easy and rapid; the lava now assisting, as much as
it had formerly impeded them.
At Portici, Salvador introduced them to his apartment, embellished with
specimens of lava. They purchased some memorials of their visit--partook
of some fruit--and, after rewarding the guide, they returned to Naples.
Another of their excursions, and it is one than which there are few more
interesting, was to that city--which, like the fabulous one of the eastern
tale, rears its temples, but there are none to worship; its theatres, but
there are none to applaud; its marble statues, where are the eyes that
should dwell on them with pride? Its mansions are many--its walls and
tesselated pavements, show colours of vivid hue, and describe tales
familiar from our boyhood. The priest is at his altar--the soldiers in
their guard-room--the citizen in his bath. It is indeed difficult, as our
step re-echoes through the silent streets, to divest ourselves of the
impression, that we are wandering where the enchanter's wand has been all
powerful, that he has waved it, and lo! the city sleeps for a season,
until some event shall have been fulfilled.
Our party were in the Via Appia of Pompeii, when Acme turned aside, to
remark one tomb more particularly. It was an extensive one, surrounded
with a species of iron net work, through which might be seen ranges of red
earthen vases. Acme turned to the custode, and asked if this was the
burial place of some noble family.
"No! Signora! this is where the ashes of the gladiators are preserved."
From the Appian Way, they entered through the public gate; and passing
many shops, whose signs yet draw notice, if they no longer attract custom,
they came to the private houses, and entered one--that called
Sallust's--for the purpose of a more minute inspection.
"Nothing appears to be more strange," said George, "on looking at these
frescoed paintings, and on such mosaics as we have yet seen; than the
extraordinary familiarity of their subjects.
"There are many depicted on these walls, and I do not think, Henry, _we_
are first rate classics;--and yet it would be difficult to puzzle us, in
naming the story whence these frescoes have their birth. Look at this
Latona--and Leda--and the Ariadne abbandonata--and this must certainly be
the blooming Hebe. Ah! and look at this little niche! This grinning little
deity--the facsimile of an Indian idol--must express their idea of the
Penates. Strange! is it not?"
"But are you not," rejoined Sir Henry, "somewhat disappointed in the
dwelling-houses? This seems one of the most extensive, and yet, how
diminutive the rooms! and how little of attraction in the whole
arrangement, if we except this classic fountain.
"This I think is a proof, that the ancient Romans must have chiefly passed
their day abroad--in the temples--the forum--or the baths--and have left
as home tenants none but women, and those unadorned with the toga virilis.
"These habits may have tended to engender a manlier independence; and
to impart to their designs a loftier spirit of enterprise. What say
"I might perhaps answer," replied Acme, "that the happiness gained, is
well worth the glory lost. But I must not fail to remind you, that--grand
as this nation must have been--my poor fallen one was its precursor--its
tutor--and its model."
Hence they wandered to the theatre--the forum--the pantheon--and
amphitheatre:--which last, from their converse in the earlier part of the
day--fancy failed not to fill with daring combatants. As the guide
pointed out the dens for the wild beasts--the passages through which they
came--and the arena for the combat--Sir Henry, like most British
travellers, recalled the inimitable story of Thraso, and his lion fight.
[Footnote: In Valerius.]
The following day was devoted to the Studio, and to the inspection of the
relics of Pompeii.
These relics, interesting as they are, yet convey a melancholy lesson to
the contemplative mind. Each modern vanity here has its parallel--each
luxury its archetype. Here may be found the cameoed ring--and the signet
seal--and the bodkin--and paint for the frail one's cheek--a cuirass, that
a life guardsman might envy--weights--whose elegance of shape charm the
eye. Not an article of modern convenience or of domestic comfort, that has
not its representative. They teach us the trite French lesson.
"L'histoire se repete."
With the exception of these two excursions, and one to Poestum; our
travellers passed their mornings sight-seeing in Naples, and chiefly at
the Studio, whose grand attraction is the thrilling group of the
In the cool of the evening, until twilight's hour was past, they drove
into the country, or promenaded in the gardens of the Villa Reale, to the
sound of the military band.
Each night they turned their footsteps towards the Mole; where they
embarked on the unruffled bay. To a young and loving heart--the heart of a
bride--no pleasure can equal that, of being next the one loved best on
earth--at night's still witching hour. The peculiar scenery of Naples, yet
more enhances such pleasure.
Elsewhere night may boast its azure vault and its silver stars. Cynthia
may ride the heavens in majesty--the water may be serene--and the heart
attuned to the night's beauty:--but from the _land_, if discernible--we
can rarely expect much addition to the charms of the scene, and can never
expect it to form its chief attraction. At Naples it is otherwise.
Our eyes turn to the Volcano, whose flame, crowning the mountain's summit,
crimsons the sky.
We watch with undiminished interest, its fitful action--now bursting out
brilliantly--now fading, as if about to be extinguished for ever. Seated
beside George, and thus gazing, what pleasure was Acme's! We need not say
time flew swiftly. Never did happiness meet with more ardent votary than
in that young bride--or find a more ready mirror, on which to reflect her
beaming attributes--than on the features of that bride's husband.
Their swimming eyes would fill with tears--and their voices sink to the
Sir Henry rarely interrupted their converse; but leant his head on the
boat's side, and thoughtfully gazed on the placid waters, till he almost
deemed he saw reflected on its surface, the face of one, in whose society
_he_ felt he too might be blest.
But these fancies would not endure long. Delme would quickly arouse
himself; and, warned by the lateness of the hour, and feeling the
necessity that existed, for his thinking for the all-engrossed pair, would
order the rowers to direct the boat's course homewards.
Returned to their hotel, it may be that orisons more heavenward, have
issued from hearts more pure.
Few prayers more full of gratitude, have been whispered by earthly
lips, than were breathed by George and his young wife in the solitude
of their chamber.
How often is such uncommon happiness as this the precursor of evil!
"Son port, son air de suffisance,
Marquent dans son savoir sa noble confiance.
Dans les doctes debats ferme et rempli de coeur,
Meme apres sa defaite il tient tete an vainqueur.
Voyez, pour gagner temps, quelles lenteurs savantes,
Prolongent de ses mots les syllabes trainantes!
Tout le monde l'admire, et ne peut concevoir
Que dans un cerveau seul loge tant de savoir."
It was soon after the excursion to Poestum, that a packet of letters
reached the travellers from Malta. These letters had been forwarded from
England, on the intelligence reaching Emily, of George's intended
marriage. They had been redirected to Naples, by Colonel Vavasour, and
were accompanied by a few lines from himself.
In Sir Henry's communication with his sister, he had prudently thrown a
veil, over the distressing part of George's story, and had dwelt warmly,
on the beauty and sweetness of temper of Acme Frascati. He could hardly
hope that the proposed marriage, would meet with the entire approval of
those, to whom he addressed himself.
The letters in reply, however, only breathed the affectionate overflowings
of kind hearts. Mrs. Glenallan sent her motherly blessing to George; and
Emily, in addition to a long communication to her brother, wrote to Acme
as to a beloved sister; begging her to hasten George's return to England,
that they might meet one, in whom they must henceforward feel the
"How kind they all are," said George. "I only wish we _were_ with them."
"And so do I," said Acme. "How dearly I shall love them all."
"George!" said Sir Henry, abruptly, "do you know, I think it is quite time
we should move farther north. The weather is getting most oppressive; and
we have nearly exhausted the lions of Naples."
"With all my heart," replied George. "I am ready to leave it whenever
On Sir Henry's considering the best mode of conveyance, it occurred to
him, that some danger might arise from the malaria of the Pontine marshes;
and indeed, Rome and its environs were represented, at that time, as being
by no means free from this unwelcome visitant.
Sir Henry enquired if there were any English physicians resident in
Naples; and having heard a high eulogium passed by the waiter, on a Doctor
Pormont, "who attended the noble Consul, and my Lord Rimington," ventured
to enclose his card, with a note, stating that he would be glad of five
minutes' conversation with that gentleman.
In a short time, Doctor Pormont was introduced.
He was a tall man, with very marked features, and a deeply furrowed brow;
whose longitudinal folds, however, seemed rather the result of thought or
of study, than of age. The length of his nose was rivalled by the width of
his mouth. When he spoke, he displayed two rows of very clean and very
regular teeth, but which individually narrowed to a sharp point, and gave
his whole features a peculiarly unpleasing expression. His voice was
husky--his manners chilling--his converse that of a pedant.
Doctor Pormont was in many respects a singular man. From childhood, he had
been remarkable for stoicism of character. He possessed none of the weak
frailties, or gentle sympathies, which ordinarily belong to human nature.
His blood ran cold, like that of a fish. Never had he been known to lose
his equanimity of deportment.
A species of stern principle, however, governed his conduct; and his very
absence of feeling, made him an impartial physician, and one of the most
successful anatomists of the day.
What brought him to bustling, sunny Naples, was an unfathomed
mystery. Once there, he acquired wealth without anxiety, and patients
Amongst the many anecdotes, current amongst his professional brethren, as
to the blunted feelings of Doctor Pormont, was one,--related of him when
he was lecturer at a popular London institution. A subject had been
placed on the anatomist's table, for the purpose of allowing the lecturer,
to elucidate to the young students, the advantages of a post mortem
examination, in the determination of diseases. The lecturer dissected as
he proceeded, and was particularly clear and luminous. He even threw light
on the previous habits of the deceased, and showed at what period of life,
the germ of decay was probably forming.
A friend casually enquired, as they left the lecture room, whether the
subject had been a patient of his own.
"No!" replied the learned lecturer, "the body is that of my cousin and
schoolfellow, Harry Welborne. I attended his funeral, at some little
distance from town, a couple of days ago. My servant must have given
information to the exhumer. It is clear the body was removed from the
vault on the same evening."
Sir Henry Delme briefly explained to Doctor Pormont, his purpose in
sending for him. He stated that he was anxious to take his advice, as to
the best mode of proceeding to Rome, and also as to the best sleeping
place for the party;--that he had a wholesome dread of the malaria, but
that one of his party being a female, and another an invalid, he thought
it might be as well to sleep one night on the road. Regarding all this, he
deferred to the advice and superior judgment of the physician.
"Judgment," said Doctor Pormont, "is two-fold. It may be defined, either
as the faculty of arriving at the knowledge of things, which may be
effected by the synthetic or analytic method; or it may be considered as
the just perception of them, when they are fully indagated.
"Our problem seems to resolve itself into two cases.
"First: does malaria exist to an unusual and alarming extent, on the route
you purpose taking?
"Secondly: the existence conceded--what is the best method to escape the
evil effects that might attend its inhibition into the human system?
"Let us apply the synthetic method to our first case."
The Doctor prefaced his arguments, by a long statement, as to the gradual
commencement, and progress of malaria;--showed how the atmosphere,
polluted by exhalations of water, impregnated with decaying and putrified
vegetable matter, gave forth miasmata; which he described as being
particles of poison in a volatile state.
He alluded to the opinion held by many, that the disease owed its origin
to the ravages of the barbarians, who destroying the Roman farms and
villas, had made _desert_ what were _fertile_ regions.
He traced it from the time of the late Roman Emperors, to that of the
dominion of the Popes, whose legislative enactments to arrest the malady,
he failed not to comment on at length.
He explained the uncertainty which continued to exist, as to the
boundaries of the tract of country, in which the disease was rife; and
then plunged into his argument.
George, at this crisis, quietly took the opportunity of gliding from the
room. Sir Henry stretched his legs on an ottoman, and appeared immersed in
the study of a print--the Europa of Paul Veronese--which hung over the
"The Diario di Roma," continued the Doctor, "received this day, decidedly
states that malaria is fearfully raging on the Neapolitan road. Pray
forgive me, if I occasionally glide into the vulgar error, of confounding
the disease itself, with the causes of that disease.
"On the other hand, a young collegian, who arrived in Naples from Rome
yesterday evening, states that he smoked and slept the whole journey, and
suffered no inconvenience whatever.
"Here two considerations present themselves. While sleep has been
considered by the best authorities, as predisposing the human frame to
infection, by opening the pores, relaxing the integuments, and retarding
the circulation of the blood; I cannot overlook the virtues of tobacco,
narcotic--aromatic--disinfecting--as we must grant them to be.
"Here then may I place in juxta-position, the testimony of the Diario, and
that of a young gentleman, half of his time asleep--the other half, under
the influence of the fumes of tobacco.
"Synthetically, I opine, that we may conclude that malaria does exist, and
to a great degree, in the Campagna di Roma. Will you now allow me, to
submit the question under dispute, to the analytic process? By many, in
the present age, though not by me, it is considered the more philosophical
mode of reasoning."
"I am extremely obliged to you, Doctor," said Sir Henry, in a quiet tone
of voice, "but you have raised the synthetic structure so admirably,
that I think that in this instance we may dispense with your analysis.
"Having already shown, then--although your kindness has allowed me to do
so but partially--that malaria does indeed exist, it becomes me to show,
which is the best mode of avoiding its baneful effects.
"Injurious as are the miasmata in general, and fatal as are the effects of
that peculiar form in this country, termed malaria; the diseases they
engender, I apprehend to be rather endemic than epidemic.
"It would be difficult to determine, to what part of the Campagna, the
disease is at present confined; but I should certainly not advise you, to
sleep within the bounds of contagion, for the predisposing effects of
sleep I have already hinted at.
"Rapid travelling is, in my opinion, the best prophylactic I can prescribe,
as besides a certain exhilarating effect on the spirits, the swift passage
through the air, will remove any spiculae of the marsh miasmata, which may
be hovering near your persons. Air, cheerfulness, and exercise, however,
predispose to, and are the results of sleep: and to an invalid especially,
sleep is indispensable.
"In Mr. Delme's case, therefore, I would recommend a temporary halt."
Dr. Pormont then gave an account of the length of the stages, the nature
of the post-house accommodations, and the probable degree of danger
attached to each site.
From all this, Delme gathered, that malaria existed to some extent, on the
line of road they were to travel--that sleep would be necessary for
George--and that, on the whole, it would be most desirable to sleep at an
inn, situated at a hamlet between Molo di Gaeta and Terracina, somewhat
removed from the central point of danger.
But the truth is, that Sir Henry Delme was disposed to consider Dr.
Pormont, with his pomposity, and wordy arguments, as a mere superficial
thinker; and he half laughed at himself, for having ever thought it
necessary to consult him. This class of men influence less than they
ought. Sensible persons are apt to set them down, as either fools or
pedants. Their very magniloquence condemns them; for, in the present day,
it seems an axiom, that simplicity and genius are invariably allied.
This rule, like most others, has its exceptions; and it would be well for
all of us, if we thought less of the manner, in which advice may be
delivered, and more of the matter which it may contain.
The Doctor rose to take leave,--Sir Henry witnessed his departure with
lively satisfaction; and, with the exception of enjoying a hearty laugh,
at his expense, with George and Acme, ceased to recollect that such a
Delme, however, had cause to remember that Doctor Pormont.
Were it not so, he would not have figured in these pages.
The last evening they were at Naples, they proceeded, as was their
custom, to the Mole; and there engaging a boat, directed it to be rowed
across the bay.
The volcano was more than usually brilliant, and the villages at its base,
appeared as clear as at noonday.
The water's surface was not ruffled by a ripple. A bridal party was
following in the wake of their boat--and nuptial music was floating past
them in subdued cadence.
A nameless regret filled their minds, as they thought of the journey on
the coming morrow. They had been so happy in Naples. Could they hope to be
It was midnight, when they returned to the hotel. As they neared its
portico, the round cold moon fell on the forms of the lazzaroni, who were
lying in groups round the pillars.
One of the party sprang to his feet, alarming the slumberers. The whole
of them rose with admirable cheerfulness--took off their hats
respectfully--and made way for the forestieri.
During the momentary pause that ensued, Acme turned to the volcano, and
playfully waved her hand in token of farewell.
Her eyes filled with tears, and she clung heavily to George's arm.
She was doomed never to look on that scene again.
The Beginning of the End.
"Thou too, art gone! thou loved and lovely one,
Whom youth and youth's affections bound to me."
At an early hour, rich aureate hues yet streaking the east, our party were
duly seated in a roomy carriage of Angrasani's, on their way to Rome.
They had hopes of arriving at the capital, in time to witness that unique
sight, the illumination of Saint Peter's; a sight which few can remember,
without deeming its anticipation well worthy, to urge on the jaded
traveller, to his journey's termination.
Who can forget the play of the fountains in front of the Vatican, the
music of whose descending water is most distinctly audible, although
crowds throng the wide and noble space.
Breathless--silent all--is the assembled multitude, as the clock of Saint
Peter's gives its long expected signal.
Away! darkness is light! a fairy palace springs before us! its
beautiful proportions starting into life, until the giddy brain reels,
from the excess of that splendour, on which the eye suddenly and
With the exception of a short halt, which afforded the travellers time for
an early dinner at the Albergo di Cicerone, which is about half a mile
from the Molo di Gaeta, they prosecuted their journey without
intermission, till arrived within sight of their resting place.
This bore the aspect of an extensive, but dilapidated mansion, evidently
designed for some other purpose.
Its proprietor had erected it, at a period, when malaria was either less
prevalent or less dreaded; and his descendants had quitted it, for some
more salubrious site.
The albergo itself, occupied but a small portion of the building,
immediately on the right and left of the porch.
The other apartments, which formed the wings, were either wholly
tenantless, or were fitted up as hay-lofts, granaries, or receptacles for
In the upper rooms, the panes of glass were broken; and the whole aspect
of the place betokened desolation and decay.
As they drove to the door, a throng of mendicants and squalid peasants
came forth. Their faces had a cadaverous hue, which could not but be
remarked. Their eyes, too, seemed heavy, and deep set in the head; while
many had their throats bandaged, from the effects of glandular swellings,
brought on by the marshy exhalations.
Acme threw some small pieces of Neapolitan money amongst them; and their
gratitude in consequence was boundless.
She sprang from the carriage like a young fawn.
"Come, come, Giorgio! look at that sweet sun-set--and at the blue clouds
edged with burnished gold! Would it not be a sin to remain in-doors on
such an evening? and besides," added she, in a whisper--"is it not a
pleasure to leave behind us these sickly faces, to muse on an Italian
landscape, and admire an Italian sky? Driver! will you order supper? We
will take a stroll while it is preparing.
"Come! Henry! come away! do not look so grave, or you will make me think
of your amusing friend--Dr. Pormont."
"Thompson!" said George, as the smiling bride bore off the brothers in
triumph, "do not forget your mistress' guitar case!"
The travellers passed a paved court, in rear of the building; whence a
wicket gate admitted them to a kitchen garden, well stocked with the
requisites for an Italian salad.
Behind this, enclosed with embankments, was a small vineyard. The vines
twined round long poles, these again being connected with thin cords,
which the tendrils were already clasping.
Thus far, there was nothing that seemed indicative of an unwholesome
situation. As they extended their walk, however, pursuing the
continuation of the path, that had led them through the vineyard, they
arrived at the edge of a dark sluggish stream, whose surface was nearly on
a level with them; and which, gradually becoming broader, at length
emptied itself into what might be styled a wide and luxuriant marsh, which
abounded with water-fowl. This was studded with small round lakes, and
with islets of an emerald verdure.
From the bosom of the marsh itself, rose bulrushes and pollard willows,
towered over by gigantic noisy reeds.
The stream was thickly strewn with the pure honours of the water lily.
If--as Eastern poets tell us--these snowy flowers bathe their charms,
when the sun is absent, but lift up their virgin heads, when he looks
down approvingly:--but that, sometimes deceived, on some peerless
damsel's approaching, they mistake her eye for their loved luminary, and
pay to her beauty an abrupt and involuntary homage:--_now_ might they
indeed gaze upward, to greet as fair a face as ever looked down on the
water they bedecked.
They approached the edge of the marsh, and discovered a rural arbour
of faded boughs--the work of children--placed around a couple of
Within it, was a rude seat; and some parasitical plant with a deep red
flower, had twined round the withered boughs, and mingled fantastically
with the dead leaves.
Below the arbour, was a small stone embankment, which prevented the
waters from encroaching, and made the immediate site comparatively free
Acme arranged her cloak--took one hand of each of the brothers in
hers--and in the exuberance of health and youth--commenced prattling in
that charming domestic strain, which only household intimacy can beget
or justify. George leant back in silence, but could have clasped her to
Memory! memory! who that hath a soul, cannot conjure up one such gentle
being,--while the blood for one moment responds to thy call, and rolls
through the veins with the tide of earlier and of happier days?
At the extremity of the horizon, was a more extensive lake, than any near
them. Over this, the sun was setting; tinting its waters with a clear rich
amber, save in its centre, where, the lake serving as a halo to its glory,
a blood-red sun was vividly reflected.
As the sun descended, one slender ray of light, came quivering and
trembling through the leaves of the arbour.
This little incident gave rise to a thousand fanciful illustrations on the
part of Acme. Her spirits were as buoyant as a child's; and her playful
mood soon communicated itself to her travelling companions.
They compared the solitary ray to virtue in loneliness--to the flickering
of a lamp in a tomb--to a star reflected on quicksilver--to the flash of a
sword cutting through a host of foes--and to the light of genius illuming
scenes of poverty and distress.
Thompson made his appearance, and announced the supper as being ready.
"This," said George, good-naturedly, "is an odd place, is it not,
Thompson? Is it anything like the Lincolnshire Fens?"
"Not exactly, your honour!" replied the domestic, with perfect gravity,
"but there ought to be capital snipe shooting here."
"Ah! che vero Inglese!" said the laughing Acme.
They retraced their steps to the inn, and were ushered into the supper
room, which was neither more nor less than the kitchen, although formerly,
perhaps, the show room of the mansion. Around the deep-set fireplace,
watching the simmering of the cauldron, were grouped some peasants.
The supper table was laid in one corner of the room; and although neither
the accommodation nor the viands were very tempting, there was such a
disposition to be happy, that the meal was as much enjoyed as if served up
in a palace.
The repast concluded, Acme rose; and observing a countryman with his arm
bound up, enquired if he had met with an accident; and patiently listened
to the prosy narrative of age.
An old bronzed husbandman, too, was smoking his short earthen pipe, near
the window sill.
"What a study for Lanfranc!" said the happy wife, as she took up a burnt
stick, and sketched his dried visage to the life.
The old man regarded his portrait on the wall, with intense satisfaction;
and commenced dilating on what he had been in youth.
How different, thought Sir Henry, is all this from the conduct of a well
bred English girl! yet how natural and amiable does it appear in Acme!
With what an endearing manner--with what sweet frankness--does this young
foreigner wile away--what would otherwise have been--a tedious evening in
an uncomfortable inn!
As the night advanced, George brought out the guitar; and Acme warbled to
its accompaniment like a fairy bird.
It was a late hour, before Delme ventured to remind the songstress, that
they must prosecute their journey early on the following morning.
"I will take your hint," said Acme, as she shook his hand, and tripped
out of the room; "buona sera! miei Signori."
"She is a dear creature!" said Delme,
"She is indeed!" replied his brother, "and I am a fortunate man. Henry! I
think I shall be jealous of you, one of these days. I do believe she loves
you as well as she does me!"
The brothers retired.
Sir Henry's repose was unbroken, until morning dawned; when George entered
his room in the greatest agitation, and with a face as pale as death, told
him Acme was ill.
Delme arose immediately; and at George's earnest solicitation,
entered the room.
Her left cheek, suffused with hectic, rested on one small hand. The other
arm was thrown over the bed-clothes. Her eyes sparkled like diamonds. Her
lips murmured indistinctly--the mind was evidently wandering.
A man and horse were sent express to Naples. The whole of that weary day,
George Delme was by Acme's side, preparing cooling drinks, and vainly
endeavouring to be calm.
As the delirium continued, she seemed to be transported to the scenes of
her early youth,
As night wore on, the fever, if it were such, gradually increased.
George's state of mind bordered on distraction. Sir Henry became
exceedingly alarmed, and anxious for the presence of the medical
At about four o'clock the following morning, Doctor Pormont was announced,
Cold and forbidding as was his aspect, George hailed him as his tutelary
angel, and burst into tears, as he implored him to exert his skill to the
The physician approached the invalid, and in a moment saw that the case
was a critical one.
His patient was bled twice during the day, and strong opiates
Towards evening, she slept; and awoke with restored consciousness, but
with feelings keenly alive to her own danger.
The following night and day she lingered on, speaking but little.
During the whole of that time, even, when she slept, George's hand
remained locked in hers. On this, her tears would sometimes fall, but
these she strove to restrain.
To the others around her, she spoke gratefully, and with feminine
softness; but her whole heart seemed to be with George.
Doctor Pormont, to do him justice, was unremitting in his exertions, and
hardly took rest.
All his professional skill was called to her aid; but from the second day,
he saw it was in vain.
The strength of the invalid failed her more and more.
Doctor Pormont at length called Sir Henry on one side, and informed him
that he entertained no doubt of a fatal result; and recommended his at
once procuring such religious consolation as might be in his power.
No Protestant clergyman was near at hand, even had Delme thought it
adviseable to procure one.
But he was well aware, that however Acme might have sympathised with
George, her earlier religious impressions would now in all probability
A Catholic priest was sent for, and arrived quickly. He was habited in
the brown garb of his order, his waist girt with a knotted cord. He bore
in his hand the sainted pyx, and commenced to shrive the dying girl.
It was the soft hour of sunset, and the prospect in rear of the mansion,
presented a wide sea of rich coloured splendour.
Over the window, had been placed a sheet, in order to exclude the light
from the invalid's chamber. The priest knelt by her bedside; and folding
his hands together, began to pray.
The rays of the setting sun, fitfully flickered on the sheet, over whose
surface, light shadows swiftly played, ever and anon glancing on the shorn
head of the kneeling friar.
His intelligent face was expressive of firm belief.
His eye turned reverentially to heaven, as in deep and sonorous accents,
he implored forgiveness for the sufferer, for the sins committed during
her mortal coil.
Acme sat up in her bed. On her countenance, calm devotion seemed to usurp
the place of earthly affections, and earthly passions.
The soul was preparing for its upward flight. Delme led away the sorrowing
husband, and the minister of Christ was left alone, to hear the contrite
outpourings of a weak departing sinner.
The priest left the chamber, but spoke not, either to the physician, or
the expecting brothers. His impassioned glance belonged to another and a
He made one low obeisance--his robes swept the passage quickly--and the
Franciscan friar sought his lonely cell to reflect on death.
The brothers re-entered. They found Acme in the attitude in which they had
left her--her features wearing an expression at once radiant and resigned.
But--as her eye met George's--as she saw the havoc grief had already
made--the feelings of the woman resumed the mastery.
She extended her arms--she brought his lip to hers--as if she would have
made _that_ its resting place for ever.
Alas! an inward pang told her to be brief. She drew away her face,
crimsoned with her passion's flush--tremblingly grasped his hand---and,
with voice choked by emotion, gave her last farewell.
"Giorgio, my dearest! my own! I shall soon join my parents. I feel
this--and my mother's words, as she met me by the olive tree, ring
in my ear.
"She told me I should die thus; but she told me, too, that I should kill
the one dearest to me on earth. Thank God! this cannot be--for I know my
life to be ebbing fast.
"Dearest I do not mourn for me too much. You may find another Acme--as
true. But, oh! sometimes--yes! even when your hearts cling fondly
together, as ours were wont to do--think of your own Acme--who loved you
first--and only--and does it now! oh! how well! Giorgio! dear! dearest!
adieu! My feet are _so, so_ cold--and ice seems"--
A change shadowed the face, as from some corporeal pang.
She tried to raise an ebony cross hung round her neck.
In the effort, her features became convulsed--and George heard a low
gurgling in the throat, as from suffocation.
Ah! that awful precursor of "the first dark hour of nothingness."
George Delme sprang to his feet, and was supporting her head, when the
physician grasped his arm.
"Stop! stop! you are preventing"----
The lower lip quivered--and drooped--slightly! very slightly!
The head fell back.
One long deep drawn sigh shook the exhausted frame.
The face seemed to become fixed.
Doctor Pormont extended his hand, and silently closed those dark
The cold finger, with its harsh touch, once more brought consciousness.
Once more the lid trembled! there was an upward glance that looked
Another short sigh! Another!
Lustreless and glaring was that once bright eye!
Again the physician extended his hand.
"Assuredly, gentlemen! vitality hath departed!"
A deep--solemn--awful silence--which not a breath disturbed--came over
that chamber of death.
It seemed as if the insects had ceased their hum--that twilight had
suddenly turned to night--that an odour, as of clay, was floating around
them, and impregnating the very atmosphere.
George took the guitar, whose chords were never more to be woke to harmony
by that loved hand, and dashed it to the ground.
Ere Delme could clasp him, he had staggered to the bedside--and fallen
over Acme's still form.
And did her frame thrill with rapture? did she bound to his caress? did
her lip falter from her grateful emotion?--did she bury his cheek in her
No, no! still--still--still were all these! still as death!
"Woe unto us, not her; for she sleeps well."
* * * * *
"The Niobe of nations! there she stands,
Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe;
An empty urn within her wither'd hands,
Whose holy dust was scatter'd long ago.
The Scipios' tomb contains no ashes now;
The very sepulchres lie tenantless
Of their heroic dwellers; dost thou flow,
Old Tiber! through a marble wilderness?
Rise, with thy yellow waves, and mantle her distress."
Undertakers! not one word shall henceforth pass our lips in your
An useful and meritorious tribe are you!
What! though sleek and rosy cheeked, you seem to have little in common
with the wreck of our hopes?
What! if our ears be shocked by profane jests on the weight of your
burden, as you bear away from the accustomed mansion, what _was_ its
light and its load star--but what _is_--pent up in your dark, narrow
To make men tremble, that never weep."
What! if our swimming eye--as we follow those dear--dear remains to their
last lone resting place--glance on the heartless myrmidons, who salute the