Gibraltar - Naples - Pompeii - Rome
( Originally Published 1891 )
March 3d.-We arrived here last evening about seven o'clock, after a voyage of thirty-seven hours from Lisbon, in the steamer Malaga, a good little vessel of eight hundred tons, with a fine English captain weighing many " stone," and a steady crew. For the first time for many a month I met joints and mealy potatoes and slices of bread and oatmeal and apple-pudding and other Anglo-Saxon substantialities, and I was rejoiced to escape menus and trifles and an " infinite variety." The weather on the voyage was brilliant. There was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the fresh wind drove us along over a sparkling and lively sea. The route is most interesting. The sail down the Tagus was charming. On one side the green hills rose above the shore in picturesque variety, and on the other lay Lisbon with its uniformity of clay-colored walls, its scarcity of imposing buildings, and its audacious hilliness. The fine dome of the Estrella, the finest church in Lisbon, and the great wide business-like walls of the small portion of the Ajuda now finished, and waiting for a return of Portuguese prosperity and surplus wealth to be developed into the most commanding palace in the world, were the only at-tractive and salient points of the city. We paused at the tower of Belem to let off the port officer who accompanied us, and took a glance at the fragile structure, which combines some pretty conceits of architecture with the sturdy form of a protecting fortress which one modern broadside would demolish. We sailed out into the wide Atlantic, between the gloomy fortress of Cascaes, where Dom Luis died last summer, and a fort on Cape Espèchel whose name I have forgotten, if it has any, standing vis-à-vis at the other corner of the mouth. It took many hours to lose sight of the coast of Portugal, and it was after midnight when we reached Cape St. Vincente, under a moon so bright that it rivalled the sun in brilliancy and in its sparkling effect upon the sea. We had a most thoroughly Anglican company on board the steamer, a captain with the good Essex county name of Russell, a curate whose difficulty of hearing made conversation quite distinct and impressive, and with a most excellent knowledge of English literature and an entire appreciation of the United States and great anxiety to understand the exact difference between an English university and an American institution of education which has assumed this high classical name and which the noble old President Quincy called a " school." He had as a companion a brother curate of pleasant manners and good ecclesiastical quality and information. We had a good deal of pleasant talk, and I read of the bloody horrors of the Caesar's in " Sketches of Old Rome," and took a peep or two into " My Study Windows." All day Sunday the bright sun shone upon us, the sea sparkled all around us, the cloudless sky hung over us with the rich blue canopy of this section of the world, and we went owith our even ten knots an hour past town and head-land on the Spanish coast. White Cadiz appeared far off on our port bow, looking in the distance as if an enormous laundry had been hung out to dry at the foot of the hills bordering on the sea. The cape Trafalgar stood out with its sandy cliffs overhanging the bay where Nelson won his immortality and established the power of Great Britain on the high seas. On our star-board stretched the mountainous shores of Morocco, at whose feet nestled Tangier, the most Oriental town of this day, thronged with solemn Moors and excrescent camels and veiled women, and adorned with the Sul-tan's palace, whose domestic importance consists in a well-appointed harem. Before I had quite realized that Tangier lay so near us I was pointed to a stretch of white walls opposite, and was reminded that here lay Tarifa, distinguished above all other towns on earth for having given name to that system of customs revenue which nations organize in accordance with their industrial interests, unless liberalized, humanized, and Christianized by the brotherly love claimed for free trade. It was growing dark as we entered the renowned straits bounded on either hand by historic ground, and swelling uneasily with wind and tide as if impatient of the restraint of the two continents which bounded and confined them. It was quite the perfection of a moonlight night when we came to anchor under the shadow of the lofty rock of Gibraltar and surrounded by the great war ships of England, we looked out upon the frowning bastions which overtopped the thousands of lights which glittered in the town below. We were at Calpe, and Abyla lay opposite, — the pillars of Hercules, through which all the commerce of the ancients passed and repassed.
It is hardly necessary to describe Gibraltar ; we know it all, and the world knows it, and is filled with admiration of the foresight which prompted Great Britain, in her days of deliberate, calculating statesmanship, to seize this sentinel of the seas and to hold it against the desperate sieges of rival powers, until her flag floats in triumph over its defiant and commanding heights. The gateway to the commerce of the old Mediterranean has become the gateway of the modern eastern sea, and the promises of Gibraltar are fulfilled.
When we reached the waters which wash the mole night was well advanced, and the captain, curates, the diplomatic family, and a mate or two enlivened the ship's salon with the best they knew, and reluctantly parted and retired. This morning the sun shone brightly still, and having secured a good English breakfast on board, we placed ourselves in the hands of a boatman whom Consul Sprague had sent out to take us and our baggage ashore. Our trunks were hoisted over the side into a weather-beaten open boat manned by two ancient mariners, who rowed us over a most billowy and uneasy sea which seemed determined to keep up its ancient stormy reputation, and which roused us into imperative demands that we be put ashore as soon as possible. And so we landed at the steps of the fort and were civilly met by a good-looking English officer, who, having been assured that we had neither " spirits nor fire-arms " in out trunks, hat-boxes, and valises, and that I was marching on under the protection of the American flag as a representative of " the greatest government on earth," respectfully touched his hat and bade us proceed. This we did, and here we are in a comfortable hotel called the Calpe —ancient name—waiting for a little excursion with Consul Sprague this afternoon.
Consul Sprague—who has not known of him and his official merit and exact fulfilment of the perfection of civil service as understood by the reformers ? His father left Boston in 1832 a representative of one of the most respectable and patriotic families of his day in that town, and, armed with a consular commission from Andrew Jackson, took up his abode in this station. He saw the administration of the old hero pass away, saw Van Buren and the triumphant Democracy rule and fall, saw Harrison and Tyler ride into power on hard-cider barrels and log cabins adorned with coon-skins, saw President Polk in the White House and George Bancroft in the Navy Department, and Texas annexed, and passed away to leave his son, the present excellent Consul in power here, with a commission from the Presidential hero of " fifty-four forty or fight." And here he has been ever since enjoying from youth to age the confidence of the country and the respect of all who have known him. And what a record has his country made meanwhile ! The severe administration of Polk, the enigma of Taylor and Fill-more, the pelting storms of Pierce, the solemn weakness of Buchanan, the holy inspiration of Lincoln, the strange vagaries of Andrew Johnson, the sturdy power of Grant, the good intentions of Hayes, the tragedy of Garfield, the gayety of Arthur, the inscrutability of Cleveland, and the honest purpose of Harrison, have all come be-fore his vision. What statesmen—Webster and Clay and Calhoun—have risen into radiant power and gone down in bitter disappointment ! What American heroes have achieved their great triumphs—Grant and Sher-man and Sheridan and Thomas ! What deluded warriors and statesmen have been ruined ! And Consul Sprague is still here, a kindly and attractive man with whom I now propose to take a view of Gibraltar.
We have taken a walk through the gardens of the Alameda and along the narrow streets where so many nationalities mingle. British troops and British tars jostle sailors from Malta, Moors in burnous and turban, from Africa " o'er the way," black-bearded Jews, Capuchin monks, rosy English girls in trim tailor gowns, Spanish women with mantilla and fan, Turks with baggy trousers, and American tourists—all are met in a single square. Every now and then people make way for a smart company of red-coats marching to fife and drum—the most piercing, inspiriting, and splendid fifing and drumming I have ever heard. At sunset and again at nine o'clock as the patrol passed we threw open windows and listened until the last note died away with a faint echo from the craggy heights.
The eastern side of the rock which forms the natural fortress is very striking—towering 1,430 feet into the sky, while at the base the dangerous reef against which a strong surf beats makes it impregnable. On the western side lies the town, and here it is defended by a tremendous mass of masonry two miles long—the line wall, with projecting bastions and guns turned right and left to sweep it. Two great hundred-ton guns are the pride of the garrison. They throw a ball weighing two thousand pounds over eight miles. The most interesting feature of the fortress is the Rock Galleries. A hundred years ago they were begun, and gangs of hapless convicts blasted out the tunnels through which you may take a two-mile walk, mounting slowly through the broad passage cut into the solid rock. It is well lighted and protected, for at every dozen yards a port-hole opens upon the bay, and at each heavy guns are mounted on carriages. Whether they would be effective in a siege has been questiond ; indeed, one of her British Majesty's officers told me he feared they would be quite useless. However that may be, Gibraltar has not yet surrendered, and is unequalled for resistance to most persistent attacks, for beauty and grandeur.
March 8th.-We are fast approaching Naples this evening in a bright moonlight on a smooth sea. The Cuzco is a good, well-ordered steamship, and our voyage has been most delightful. We left the unity of Gibraltar—all military, fortifications, regiments, bands of music, galleries, inaccessible forts on lofty pinnacles. And this is all there is of Gibraltar, besides the Consul.
Our compagnons de voyage have been most agreeable, some of them amusing. I talked long with a Scotch Presbyterian minister from Edinburgh bound for Damascus, one of those sensible, devout, wise, high-principled men who enable you to realize the goodness of which human nature is capable. His account of his boys and his parochial affairs, and his struggles for a college education, and his interest in all good things in America, in war and in peace, rejoiced my heart and reminded me of the simple, devoted, and honest ways I was accustomed to in my youth. His view of affairs in Scotland hardly confirmed the opinion expressed to me by Mr. Gladstone, that Scotland is entirely satisfied and has no cause for complaint. I met also the Hon. Mitchell Henry, formerly member of Parliament from West Ireland, a large landholder in that troubled country, who informed me that he had a daughter married in the town of Ware, Massachusetts—and filled my mind with pleasant memories and associations.
We put into Algiers to land Mr. Henry, who has a winter residence there, as have many other English-men, and we made a slight night exploration of the town. Those of us who remained on board saw before us a high pile of buildings mounting up the sides of the great hill on which the town was built, while the water was covered with little boats for the accommodation of the passengers. Mrs. Loring and her Scotch friends went ashore, and on their return gave most interesting accounts of the veiled women they had seen on the streets, and the cafés where solemn Moors were smoking their pipes, and they exhibited with a triumphant air specimens of brasswork they had purchased of the natives. The air of Algiers is mild and salubrious, and the inhabitants around the English Channel and the Orkneys find there a most delightful winter resort.
I have read today, once more, Hawthorne's Transformation, " The Marble Faun," as it first appeared ; and I have been more than ever impressed with his wonderful power of expression, his keen analysis of motives and impulses, and his deep understanding of what was going on about him. I am not surprised that the philosophical thinkers did not quite comprehend him, and that the artists wondered at him and that novelists criticised him.
We sailed into the bay of Naples this morning about six o'clock. As we approached, Vesuvius appeared on our weather bow, taking an early morning smoke, with her northerly slope from the top almost to the base covered with snow, a light fall of which had occurred in the night. A snow-covered chimney is not uncommon in the winter mornings in New England ; but I must confess the transfer of this picturesque object from the mountains of New Hampshire to the sunny climate of Italy was a little startling and discouraging. Still in the morning sun the scene was beautiful. We steamed up to the mole, and when we had dropped anchor we found ourselves lying between the Chicago and the Atlantic, of the Squadron of Evolution, which had arrived only yesterday from her cruise in the Mediterranean. I made haste to pay my respects to Admiral Walker, and was sent ashore by him, with my family and luggage, in the ship's barge. Our entry into Naples was quite triumphant. The United States Consul met us on the pier ; the custom-house officers passed my baggage without examination, and we were driven to the Grand Hotel as a starting-point for a short survey of the objects of interest in Naples. The air is soft, notwithstanding the snowy mantle which envelops Vesuvius, and the sun is bright and warm, and all the hills are bathed in purple light.
We have had a most delightful day at Pompeii, directed by a guide who has made a careful study of the latest excavations. The " Silent City " has grown much since we last saw it, and many public buildings and houses of great beauty have been opened.
In the house of Sallust we passed into the triclinium, or summer dining-room, which was charmingly decorated. The stone seats, the altar for libations, the marble basin into which the fountain fell, and the boxes in which flowers formerly grew are still there. The dining-room opened into an arbor, and the outer wall was painted with fountain jets, trees, and birds. We gazed upon the delicate colors of the frescos and the beauty of the marble courts, and found it hard to realize that all life had vanished from them eighteen hundred years ago.
At the beautiful and interesting house of the Faun, the garden is surrounded by a portico with fifty-six Doric columns. At the house of Diomed, the garden has a portico, and close to the gate were found two skeletons believed to be those of the master and slave, who endeavored to escape while the other members of the family were hidden in the cellar.
The amphitheatre is a wonderful excavation, and from the arena where Glaucus made his mute appeal to the excited and blood-thirsty spectators, we looked involuntarily towards the mountain for the fatal cloud which had wrapped in darkness the doomed city it was to destroy.
We passed some pleasant hours in the Naples museum, rejoicing again in the grandeur of the Farnese Bull, and the Hercules, and the beauty of the lovely Flora, and the gallery of the Bronzes. We drove through the busy streets and along the fine new Chiaza, with many glances across the blue bay to Capri, " the loveliest pearl in Naples' crown."
March 16th.-Two days only at Naples and Pompeii with their museums, and excavations and churches and Roman relics ! An old friend, who has become familiar with every street, and lane, and building in Pompeii, peopled the town for us, and we traded in the market-place, and luxuriated in the baths, and applauded at the theatres, and held high converse in the house, and imagined ourselves citizens, with all its ancient literature and voluptuousness, and all the appliances of a luxurious people.
We came to Rome on the 12th for a flying visit—a performance which seemed ridiculous in view of what Rome was and is and is likely to be. The journey occupied about five hours through the wide valley which begins in view of Vesuvius and terminates in the Campagna. The snow-capped mountains stood on either hand in most picturesque array, and formed a striking contrast to the bright green verdure of the plains over which we were passing. When I saw Rome for the first time, many years ago, I approached it over the long and weary highway from. Civita Vecchia where every object, even the carriage in which I travelled, and the quintas by the wayside, and the horses and the ancient driver, all reminded me that I was in the region of antiquity ; and as I approached the mistress of the world her venerable appearance was deeply impressed upon me by her solemn walls, her time-worn buildings, and her crown which sat, a great dome, on the head of St. Peter's. Everything re-minded me of the emperors and the republic, and the marching armies, and the great victorious processions of conquerors, and the weeping captives and papal grandeur. It was Rome which I was contemplating, and Rome alone. But now I came into the city without that sublime view of St. Peter's and looking in vain for the venerable form of that antiquity which constituted its grandeur. I was whirled into a modern railway station of imposing proportions, most substantial in its youth and usefulness, and accommodating the travelling public on ground once occupied by the Pretorian Guards. The adjacent buildings were large and new, and so many of them stood unfinished that I felt I was in the precincts of speculators and not in the courts of artists and ecclesiastics. The Hotel Continental loomed near by and opened wide its doors for our reception, and I looked about on every hand to find any proof that I was not in New York, or Boston, or Chicago,—or Salem before the Eastern Railroad station was burnt down. I was obliged to explore a little before I really discovered that there was an ancient Rome still—a Rome of history and romance and poetry so engulphed in modern common-place and utility that it seemed to be almost obliterated and destined to removal as an obstacle to the march of improvement. Rome is immensely built up, and in-creases in population at the rate of a thousand a month, and is not the charming and impressive and fascinating place of visions and dreams and beauty that it was when it had fifty thousand people and not a new house in it. Of course I had come to take a peep at old Rome, and set about exploring at once. I went forth to find Story as a fit introduction to the art of this great city of artists, When I last saw Story he was in Washington—a guest who entertained all his entertainers. He was to me a classmate and a fellow-songster, and a most vital guest, who rivalled Lowell in activity, mental and physical, and was fond of me—why I could never tell. I hardly expected to find the "friend of my youth," but I was not quite prepared to meet a rather venerable gentleman in artist's blouse and cap, with a snowy head as white as the peaks I had seen on my journey hither. Nor was he prepared to meet me in any guise, for he supposed I was playing diplomat in Lisbon, negotiating Delagoa Bay, and pondering upon the wrath of the Portuguese who think they have been despoiled by England of their African possessions. Our meeting was most youthful,; it was that of two college boys and not that of a venerable artist and an ancient diplomatist. We em-braced, he kissed me audibly, I turned my eyes most affectionately on him, we danced, we laughed, we admired each other, and all my time here has been made happy by himself and his family. We have dined with him ; Mrs. Story has been most attentive and delightfully reminiscent ; the artist son, Waldo, has impressed me by his genius, as his wife has by her beauty ; and Edith, now Mrs. Perrozzi, has reminded me of all the kindliness of a well-descended American woman. The amount of Story's art is wonderful. His busts of distinguished Americans are admirable ; his statues are full of character ; his conceptions full of beauty. His studio rooms are piled with works of art in groups—more than fifty statues of historic characters, and I know not how many ideal figures, nor does he know. As you go from room to room you are surrounded by most imposing forms of beauty and grace. I cannot describe them, but one can conceive of them, and as they are brought before the mind it is easy to imagine a Cleopatra with a face that startles you as you contemplate its heated eyes and its ardent mouth, and you may picture to yourself an Aphrodite, his last work, still in the clay, so full of beauty that you forget all he has done before for a moment, and all the elaborations of physical grace and spiritual charm that other artists have created. For nearly forty years Story has been engaged in composing his record as an artist, and he can now look back over a life of devotion to beautiful creation, without a flaw, a uniform and complete chapter which is full of delight. His life has been most sweet, his record is most honorable. We have talked busily,—about his fellow-artists,—about Browning, whom he had known and loved, and whose last words to him but a few months ago, as they parted, were : " An unbroken friendship of fifty years " ; about Lowell, whom we both admire ; about Landor, who is to me a dull literateur and to him an irritable, and, as Mrs. Story says, an admirable old man ; and about the former days.
A reception given by Lady Dufferin at the British Legation gave me an opportunity to meet many Americans, among whom I noticed the familiar faces of Governor Porter, the United States Minister, and his daughter; Mr. Winthrop Chauler; Mr. Sargent, the American naval attaché, accompanied by his wife ; Mr. Osgood Field, the sight of whom carried me back to the days of his grandfather, the Revolutionary commander, the first Postmaster-General of the Republic, the friend of Washington, and to my own maternal ancestors in the historic old town of Andover. Conspicuous among the distinguished persons present was Prince Napoleon, the renowned Plon-plon about whom there is such a wide difference of opinion. He is a stout, substantial person, whose youthful beauty and resemblance to the First Consul still remain, somewhat matured and modified by time. He is a citizen now, with not much of a future, but with a past which is remarkable for striking incidents and gloomy with lost opportunities. He is undoubtedly one of the brightest of the family of Napoleon, and while he has ability to distinguish himself as a ruler, has never enjoyed the possession of power, and has allowed his life to be con-trolled by the impulses whose influence his associations and his leisure have developed into mere eccentricities. He has been branded as a coward, but he has shown great independence of character, and while he has been strongly inclined to turn a contemptuous look upon the imperial honors which have slipped through the grasp of his family, he has manifested an audacious inclination to advocate republican doctrines whenever he could find an excuse for his natural love of democratic institutions. His religious views coincide largely with his political, and while he has been surrounded by extreme Roman Catholicism, and has seen his wife Clothilde hold herself aloof from the bedside of her dying father, Victor Emanuel, on account of his hostility to the temporal power of the Pope, his mind has rebelled against the ceremonials of the Church, and he has extended to the ecclesiastical officials the cordial hospitality of a gentleman.
Prince Napoleon has lived under the influences of refinement and culture and that imperialism of which he has had no share, in an association where all his wit and accomplishments are thoroughly appreciated, but where his common-sense could not display itself. He has been from the beginning the implacable enemy of the Empress Eugenie, whose lineage he unreasonably and unjustly disputed, and of whose character he has great dislike. His desire for France and for his cousin Louis Napoleon was that an alliance should be formed with some one of the ruling and royal families of Europe. The Emperor, however, was so enamored of the beauty of the dazzling Spanish damsel without acknowledged nationality or family that he allowed his life to be controlled by her. It was she who resisted every attempt of the Emperor to manifest his sympathy with progress, either in Europe or America. By her advice, we are told, he failed to withdraw the French troops from Rome, and it was her passionate appeals which the Emperor was obliged to resist when he refused to acknowledge the Southern Confederacy. And the Franco-German war, which dissevered Prance and dethroned the Emperor, has passed into history, justly or not, as the War of the Empress. Prince Napoleon would not view a career like this, as he understood it, with patience or complacency ; and on every occasion, public and private, he has manifested his hostility to the Empress, whether in power or overwhelmed by calamity.
The relations existing between the Prince and his wife have not been productive of happiness or peace. In the beauty and character of his daughter he takes great delight. And so this man, who was born to rule, and as a literateur, or a scientist, or a diplomatist, or a man of affairs, might have achieved an honorable career, will be classed among the social wits and the public failures. His home at Prangins is famous for its luxury and taste, occupying one of the most picturesque spots on the shore of Lake Leman, and adorned with great beauty of art and architecture. Prince Napoleon will be considered as one of the unemployed forces of Europe ; his life is roughly handled, as the life of an idler will always be.
Meanwhile we have strolled from one gallery to another—from St. Peter's to the ancient S. Marie del Popolo, from the Borghese Villa to the Pamphili Doria, from the Forum to the great triumphal arches of Constantine and Titus, from the palace of the Caesar's to the house of Domitian, from the Capitol to the Museum, from gate to Corsa, — all of which is so well described in guide-books and in juvenile journals. Hildreth has been quite enthusiastic in his researches, directed by the untiring kindness of Mr. Wood of the American Consulate ; and encouraged by the courtesy of Governor Bourn, the U. S. Consul-General.
One thing in Rome, however, guide-books have not described, nor have the hosts of travellers discovered, and that is the new attraction Hawthorne has given this ancient city. His spirit follows you everywhere. His stamp is left on every great work of art, his fiery criticism on every unworthy creation of the artists. Miriam and her awful model and her terrible secret haunt you. Hilda's tower stands as it was designed to stand, a guardian of the city made divine by her sweet spirit. I stood and contemplated it with most intense and wrapt adoration—for there is her window, there the lamp which has shone out for six hundred years, there the image of the virgin looking over the town, and there the creative spirit of Hawthorne, who wove this ancient structure into his inspired story, and selected it as the only spot in Rome suited as an abode for the pure and spiritual Hilda. The terrace at the Pincian Hill, from which Hilda and Kenyon looked down into the great Piazza del Popolo and saw Miriam kneeling at the fountain far, far below, still invites you to stand and look and imagine Hawthorne and his creation by your side. The smooth, and green, and grassy turf of the amphitheatre in which Donatello danced and set all his companions, the grave and gay alike, into the wildest antics, lies deserted and beautiful before you as you pass along the avenue which leads to the Borghese Villa with its great collection of art. By what power Hawthorne was led to clothe all these spots with the creatures of his genius, whether they brought their appropriate imagery to his mind, or whether he found the proper home for the characters he was delineating, no man can tell now. But nowhere else could the abode of Miriam and Hilda and Donatello be found, and no reality could fill the places they fill in the " Marble Faun "—not even the living beings and statues of Rome. I have met Conway here, who is writing a Life of Hawthorne, and we have wandered about together, wondering how the great genius wrought himself into the life and art of the great city.
We leave for Naples to-morrow morning to take steamer for Gibraltar. I turn my face westward with delight : for that way Salem lies.