« ZurückWeiter »
ages, in which the pomps and vanities of life were contrasted by the ghastly images of the grave.
2nd.-Byron came to take leave of us last night, and a sad parting it was.
He seemed to have a conviction that we met for the last time; and, yielding to the melancholy caused by this presentiment, made scarcely an effort to check the tears that flowed plentifully down his cheeks. He never appeared to greater advantage in our eyes than while thus resigning himself to the natural impulse of an affectionate heart; and we were all much moved. He presented to each of us some friendly memorial of himself, and asked from us in exchange corresponding gages-d'amitié, which we gave him. Again he reproached me for not
· remaining at Genoa until he sailed for Greece: and this recollection brought back a portion of the pique he had formerly felt at our refusing to stay; for he dried his eyes, and, apparently ashamed of his emotion, made some sarcastic observation on his nervousness, although his voice was inarticulate and his lip quivered while uttering it. Should his presentiment be realized, and we indeed meet no more, I shall never cease to remember him with kindness: the very idea that I shall not see him again overpowers me with sadness, and makes me forget many defects which had often disenchanted me with himn. Poor Byron! I will not allow myself to think that we have met for the last time, although he has infected us all by his superstitious forebodings.
Lucca, 6th.— Nothing can be more rich and varied
than the scenery between Genoa and this place. The first day's journey commands a view of the sea, which, spread out to the right, sparkles like some vast sapphire beneath the rays of the sun; while to the left rises a chain of hills covered with wood, behind which are a range of sterile rocky mountains bounding the horizon. Innumerable villas are scattered along the coast, and many of the wooded hills, whose bases are bathed by the sea, are studded with white buildings, which peep from the bright green foliage in which they are embowered, looking like pearls scattered on emeralds. The port of St. Margaritta is the most beautiful spot imaginable. The houses are shaded by trees, many of which seem absolutely bending their leafy honours to the limpid waves at their feet. Gardens and fields, glowing with vegetation, are seen around; and the vine no longer grows, as in France, in stunted masses, which, in my opinion, are inferior in appearance to the hop-grounds in England; nor, as it is in the vicinity of Genoa, trained over arches of trelliswork. Here it winds itself luxuriantly round trees in many a mazy fold, its stems resembling serpents; while its tendrils form garlands that, festooned from bough to bough, give the scenery the appearance of being prepared for a fête champêtre. A thousand wild flowers decorate the fields and hedges, and send forth delicious odours; and the costumes of the peasantry are in harmony with the landscape. The mazero of Genoa is replaced by a large white napkin, folded flat, and so arranged as to cover the crown of the head and shade the brow. But this head-dress is chiefly confined to elderly women, the young wearing their hair in a net, which falls low on the back of the neck ; and a small straw hat, shaped like a soup-plate, with rosettes of straw and other ornaments of the same material fancifully worked, on the top of the head. This costume is becoming, but is certainly not useful in a climate where the inhabitants are exposed to the scorching rays of the sun.
The abundance of fire-flies was truly surprising; they looked like miniature reflections of the bright stars above, glittering on the fields and hedges. At Sarzana, where we slept one night, the fire-flies flitted about the gardens in myriads; and, my femme-dechambre, true to the instinct of her métier, observed that it looked like a dark robe covered with spangles.* We crossed from Sarzana to Carrara by a road through a very beautiful country, that we might see the celebrated quarries which yield the purest white marble to be procured in Italy. Even in the quarry this marble shows its superior quality, and in the workshops, where we witnessed the interesting process of shaping the rude blocks into statues and busts, the fine texture and pure colour of the material struck us with admiration. In the large studio we were shown several fine casts from the antique as well as from modern works. Canova's colossal statue of Napoleon, and the sitting one of his mother, were amongst the number. We saw no less than fifty busts of the Duke
* The Italian superstition, which imagines the lucioli to be the souls of the departed, released for a few brief hours from Purgatory to hover around the scenes of their early existence, is generally believed by the peasantry; and the notion, though not orthodoxical, is not unpoetical.
of Wellington; and the person who conducted us through the studio told us that hundreds had been executed here, and sent to different parts of the globe: consequently, the countenance of our illustrious countryman promises to become as well known, even in the most distant regions, as is his fame. Long, long may England preserve the original, and glory in his achievements! Who would not have felt proud at beholding such multiplied resemblances of our great captain, and in belonging to a country that boasts of such a hero?
From Carrara to Massa the country is beautiful; and the view of the vale of Carrara, seen from a steep hill about a mile distant from the town, is worthy of Arcadia. Massa contains little worth notice except its ancient and picturesque castle which overhangs the town, and a better inn than is often to be met with in so small a place.
7th.-Lucca is beautifully situated and is clean, but even more triste and deserted than the generality of Italian towns. In the evening, however, it assumes a gayer aspect ; for carriages of every form and fashion, except that of our own country, are seen traversing it towards the ramparts, which is the promenade resorted to by the aristocracy of Lucca. Thither we proceeded, being assured by our hostess that we should be amply repaid for the trouble of our excursion by the view of the beau monde of Lucca. The carriages resembled those we see in old pictures, and must have been of very ancient date; the harness laden with ornaments, and the hammer-cloths as antediluvian as
the carriages. These last might be heard at a considerable distance, and made more noise than any
of hackney coaches.
The liveries of the servants were like those in a comedy of the olden time; but the heterogeneous addition of a chasseur in a rich uniform stuck up behind, rendered the tout ensemble supremely absurd to eyes accustomed to the neat and well-appointed equipages of England. The female occupants of these carriages were dressed in the Paris fashions of three months ago; thanks to the celerity with which “ Le Petit Courrier des Dames” voyages, conveying to remote regions les modes nouvelles, and enabling their inhabitants who cannot visit that emporium of fashion, Paris, to look somewhat like its fair denizens. It was curious to observe even the most elderly women dressed à-la-mode de Paris, seated by husbands in the costume of half a century ago; many of the latter comfortably enjoying their siestas, while their better halves fluttered fans of no small dimensions with an air not unworthy of a Spanish donna. The fan seems an indispensable accessoire to a lady's toilette here, and I could have fancied myself in Spain when I saw the female occupant of every carriage waving this favourite weapon, and in vehicles also which accord so well with the descriptions I have read of those to be seen on the Prado at Madrid, Cadiz, or Seville. The young girls, too, with their sparkling dark eyes and olive complexions, served to make the resemblance complete; nor were they wanting in those intelligent glances cast at the smart young cavaliers who passed by on prancing steeds—glances of which report states the ladies of Spain to be so liberal. The