ePub 版

therefore, an important guide. It would be ridiculous to say it belonged to the Isle of Wight, so much more to the east, and still more absurd to say it belonged to France. Yet such is the real question at issue here. To be more exact, the four mouths of the Danube are the Kilia on the north, the Soulineh, St. George, and Porticheh channels in succession to the south. All these are in Turkey. Supposing them at the base of a triangle on the coast, the Fidonisi, or Serpent Island, would be east from the Soulineh mouth of the Danube. It is small, not two thousand feet square, with steep, rocky shores, only accessible in three places, about twenty fathoms out of the water, which at half a mile from the coast has from twenty to three fathoms water, mud and shelly bottom. It is covered with brushwood, and has a large old well, and some of the foundations of very ancient walls. It can be of no use but as a place for a light to the mouths of the Danube, the light or island being the best departure for the Soulineh mouth, steering W. by S. (west), distance about twenty miles. In steering from Constantinople to Odessa, which few Russian ships will do compared to foreigners, steering N.N.E. E. by compass, the true course will be nine or ten miles to the east of Serpent's Island in place of the west, not between the island and mouths of the Danube. No seaman who understood his work would even take that course for Odessa, but would keep much more towards the coast of the Crimea, the prevalent winds being from the north-east, and seldom long enough from any other quarter to carry a ship up to Odessa. All this renders the claim of Russia to the island still more untenable. Nor is there the excuse that it was not specified in the treaty. If England were to cede the counties of Hants, Sussex, and Dorset to Russia, the Isle of Wight would be understood as ceded also. How many diplomatic notes and reams of paper Fidonisi Island may yet cost, it is impossible to say. We may be certain that the labour lavished upon it, and the cyphers expended, will be exceedingly onerous to the employés of the great Powers.

But the Foreign Offices have their diplomatic spies scattered over Europe. Even in England emissaries have been placed near great personages upon particular occasions. We remember, many years ago, when one of royal blood visited the Continent, there was a person in his suite appointed to report home all he heard and observed. He did not like his post, and felt so awkward in the matter that he neglected his duty, if duty it were, and became a marked man in consequence in the office. The Austrian Foreign Office has its emissaries in this country. We have heard of one or two remarkable instances of the truth of this. Not long ago, in Portland-place, an Austrian mouchard had the impudence to follow an English gentleman up to the very threshold of the house where he was calling. The same man had been seen repeatedly watching his footsteps before, greatly to his annoyance; he therefore determined to bring him to book, and did so. All he got was an apology, and regret that he had mistaken him for another person. To show how narrowly some Englishmen are watched, even in their own capital, a merchant, the last summer, thinking of an excursion to the Continent, went to the Austrian embassy for a passport. He had never been in the Austrian dominions, but intended to visit Italy, viâ Switzerland. On giving his name, some hesitation was displayed. He was told he could go without one, and procure

what was needful abroad-evidently a subterfuge. He told the employé that he knew it was absolutely necessary to have a passport here, and reiterated his request. The employé departed, it was clear, to consult some one, and came back with a direct refusal, because the name was on a certain list of prohibited persons in this country. He found it difficult to conjecture the reason, as he had not been out of England, but recollected that once or twice he had invited to his table several foreigners, one or two of whom were probably Hungarian refugees. How should this be known without a system of espionage of a tolerably close character? Lord Holland and Lady Morgan-it is now, perhaps, nearly forgotten-were excluded from the Austrian dominions by an edict of Francis, the late emperor. The Foreign Offices in the different European kingdoms act over the rest of the world as their ministers of police act within them, as far as they are able to do so. Of course this remark has no relevancy to England.

The great question is whether the system of modern diplomacy cannot be improved by being simplified. All that is great, powerful, and really influential, is simple, just, and decided. When a mighty people see their way clear, and have determined upon the right course-we mean by people the administration, which is its executive-there is nothing like plain dealing. "So far we will go, and no farther, in or out of alliances, to the letter of which we shall faithfully adhere. We are determined to abandon the old evasive machinery in our future negotiations, and neither to cheat nor be cheated. We have too long shared in the chicanery customary for a century or two past, and it is time to lay it aside, and interchange in diplomacy with the openness and candour so honourable in private life, and so immediately effective."

Such language as this would become England in her present position, and France also. We have lately seen, in the case of the Prussian state papers and their betrayal, how ineffective to any good end is the old mode of proceeding. There can be no mischief in open conduct, but a good deal in that which is underhand. States are but larger families, and we well know the irretrievable mischief produced by family intrigues, and, on the other hand, the harmony of candid conduct. Statesmen have too much of the love of usage in their composition, and see too much of the impossible in everything. They are the last to move with the times, as if it were designed we should be humiliated by the delays which, owing to the influence of custom over reason, render thinking persons justifiably impatient. A great engineer said, "Our rulers were not prepared for railroads at above ten miles an hour-to say more would alarm them-though we know we can move thirty miles, and more than that, but they cannot comprehend it." Steam is of no use for the navy, was the report of naval officers upon that which persons out of office were using to evident advantage. The navy at last adopted it. Just as it was with the incredulity as to mechanical power on the part of official persons, so it is with those who are the heads in regard to subjects similar to that of which we are speaking. There was reason governing in the minds of those who introduced steam-ships and railways, but reason is a quality that obtains but a limited influence in common minds compared to custom. Its results are prevalent only among a few insulated individuals, whose difficulty is

to render them current after the laborious task of obtaining credit for them with the influential few.

Richelieu and Mazarine, in the present day, are objects of distaste rather than of laudation, yet what praise did they not obtain for their intrigues. The obtainment of any end regardless of the means, if that end were congenial with the political course it was desired to follow, justified everything. We live in better days, and are beginning to think that such notions are by no means allied to the perfection of human reason. We must have a savour of rectitude even in political negotiations, of which we fully believe there was little danger of intrusion in times gone by. We would have the document submitted to this country by Lord Aberdeen— the moral picture of the late Emperor of Russia-considered as a proof of the necessity of a change in the old system of diplomacy. A sovereign ravening for domain, and for property that was not his own, secretly tenders as a bribe of assent what he did not possess to obtain a sanction for a crime. This only came to light by accident: in other words, we did not know the iniquity of one royal heart until an accident revealed it. Our ministers were too honourable to agree to such a scheme of ambition. Let us imagine they had not been honourable men, we should, as a nation, have been supposed to sanction gross atrocities, and been led to uphold nationally with the sword that of the motive cause of which we knew nothing.

We hope, then, that the day is not far distant when a reform will occur in the diplomatic system. We have lately been shown that it is based upon unworthy practices-upon concealment, evasion, and chicanery. Would not a more open and bolder mode of displaying our will as a nation, pro or con., be more worthy of our country and of the era in which we live? When Lord Palmerston was at the head of the Foreign Office, he was accused of being straightforward, and even brusque, by the German states, to which we have always been too nearly allied. If it really were so, it cannot be discommended. The diplomacy of the age must try human patience sufficiently. That nobleman is now Premier. No one understands the diplomatic art better from experience, and it is a task worthy of that experience to amend it. The waste of time consumed in diplomacy is deplorable; yet, after all, it often concludes in much ado about nothing, except furnishing newspapers with articles one day, the sense of which they must contradict the next. "Diplomacy," says Johnson, "is a privilege." We agree with the lexicographer, it is a privilege the privilege of doing and undoing, of saying and unsaying anything, and making the common sense of nations its dupes.




These grey majestic cliffs that tower to heaven-
These glimmering glades and open chesnut groves
That echo to the heifer's wandering bell

Or woodman's axe, or steersman's song beneath,
Who loves not?


The Outward and Visible of the Villages of Ponte a Serraglio, Bagni Caldi, and the Villa.

WHEN I first arrived at the Bagni di Lucca the heat had become so intense that one actually expected to see the mountains smoking under its rays. It was the first summer I had passed in Italy, and I was quite astonished at the climate. Florence was uninhabitable-burning fiery heat drove one from the streets, where the smells from the continual drought and parching atmosphere had become quite overwhelming; while in-doors the oppressive want of air was suffocating. On arriving, one superb afternoon in the month of June, at the Bagni, I thought myself positively in a terrestrial paradise, everything was so cool and shady, with the most luxuriant mantle of emerald green spread over the mountains and the valleys. Beyond lay woods refreshing to the eye (fatigued and weakened by the glare of the plains, and the reflection of dusty streets), while the delicious murmuring of rivers, streams, and waterfalls lulled every sense in a feeling of dreamy repose. It was positively delicious, I rejoiced at my former sufferings in Lombardy and Florence, where I had been wellnigh baked alive, so much did I revel in the force of the contrast.

As the road from Lucca winds along the valley of the Serchio, close to the banks of that impetuous river-penetrating into the beautiful chesnut woods that line the entire range of mountain heights-a sense of exquisite beauty steals over one quite impossible to describe with mere words. Even the pencil would be at fault. The rich luxuriance of the olive woods around Lucca, rejoicing in the hottest rays of the sun, gradually changes, as one ascends the deep gorges of the Apennines, into the primeval forest, suggesting every romantic, wild, and extraordinary adventure the most harrowing romance ever imaged. For fifteen miles the road ascends the valley amid the most enchanting scenes of beauty. Vines festooned from tree to tree give to the country the appearance of interminable sylvan halls prepared for some festive rejoicing-one great ball-room, as it were, carpeted with the greenest grass, overshadowed by trees, that in long lines descend from the heights, over

Feb.-VOL. CIX. NO. CCCCXxxiv.


spreading the more cultivated patches on both sides. Mountains are tossed about in the most fantastic and picturesque confusion, now entirely shutting in the valley, and apparently forbidding all further progress, now opening into spacious glades and clearings; while the river, ever and anon spreading its waters, assumes all the appearance of an inland lake. Here and there dark groups of cypress lend a sterner character to scenery of the softest beauty, while huge blocks of reddish stone relieve the perpetual green of the fertile mountains-their deep sides gorged and indented by the marks of streams and cascades, wrinkling their hoary fronts, as it were, with the time-marks of ages, save where the flowers and shrubs, springing from the crevices, clothe with rich colours their ancient sides, and garland the frowning masses in harmonious unison with the garden-like character of the whole scene. Here were the myrtle flowers, like snow-flakes, peeping out from the dark waxy leaves; the red and white oleander; the gorgeous crimson of the pomegranate; the pink everlasting pea, hanging in tangled clusters, and the white clematis running wild over the face of the rocks.

Advancing up the valley within about three miles of the Bagni, the town of Borgo appears on the opposite side of the river, and the marvellous bridge of the Maddalena, or Ponte del Diavolo-positively suspended in mid-air-spans the Serchio, that boils and foams over the rocks beneath. This bridge is a great feature in the landscape, and excites the utmost wonder from its extraordinary altitude, the central arch being raised sixty feet above the water. From this point the road continues to wind along the base of lofty forest-covered mountains, penetrating deeper and deeper into the bosom of the Apennines. A delicious coolness already tempers the former heat as the road plunges deeper among the surrounding woods. In front the heights appear to unite in a sort of basin, entirely shutting in the valley. The road is on the very edge of the river, artificially supported on a terraced embankment against the bluff sides of the rocks descending to the edge. The river Serchio, whose course has been hitherto followed, now turns off to the left up a broad and magnificent valley extending into the Lombard plains, bordered by lovely mountains on either side terminating in lofty peaks and precipitous rocks, marking the summits of La Pagna and the range of the Carrara mountains, while from the right flows down the Lima, to meet the rival soon destined to engulf it, at a point just visible, where "the meeting of the waters" takes place. Instead of the Serchio, the road now follows the course of the Lima, a much smaller river, bearing all the marks of a mountain torrent in its unequal depth, now just covering the stones, now forming deep eddies and pools under the rocky banks, fringed with feathering trees. The valley narrows extremely-precipitous mountains rise on either hand, ending in the white and calcined summit of Prato Fiorito, which encloses the prospect in a kind of horse-shoe.


It is precisely when you cannot imagine where you are going, that one the villages of the Bagni appears very opportunely to solve the mystery. Situated at a considerable elevation on the opposite mountain, and embosomed in the bright green of the chesnut-covered heights that surround it, stand a cluster of white houses shaded by acacia woods. Meanwhile our road-skirted by vineyards and gardens, beyond which, through chasms in the woods, numerous streams come rushing down in

« 上一頁繼續 »