網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

morning after our arrival in Paris, on our way to papas and grandmammas; some of the latter, by the Switzerland, where we proposed spending my lopg by, not answering at all to the popular idea of a vacation. For the benefit of those of my readers who grandame, being very fashionably dressed, and much may happen to be worse French scholars than myself more youthful in appearance than grandmothers of

-if there be any such–I may translate the missive as children nine or ten years of age usually are, at least follows: "Madame Bidamont de St Maur presents her with us. When our mothers and grandmothers marry compliments to Mr and Mrs Smith, and requests them as soon as they leave school, perhaps at sixteen, it to do her the honour to assist at the distribution of is not impossible that we should remember our prizes, which will take place at her house on Thursday, grannams, not only as the dispensers of plum-cake, the 21st of August, at half-past seven in the evening.' lollipops, and half-crowns, but as very fine women.

Now, my knowledge of Madame Bidamont de St Ushered into the presence of Madame Bidamont de Maur, who was the mistress of one of the most fashion- St Maur by the name, style, and title of “Monsieur et able (establishments for young ladies' in Paris, was Madame Smit,' that lady received us with one of her very slight; but she knew enough of me to be aware most winning smiles, and, declaring that she was of the fact, that I had a couple of nieces for whom charmée' to see us-as, remembering that I had two she would be very glad to find room; and therefore, nieces, no doubt she was—and that we were bien having a keen eye for business, she was most desirous bons' to come, conducted us to seats from which we of improving our acquaintance. Hearing, then, by could both see and hear everything that passed. chance, from a mutual friend, of our arrival in Paris, It was essential to the success of her plan that she hastened to send us an invitation to be present Monsieur et Madame Smit'should be well placed. at her distribution,' or 'breaking-up;' trusting to The apartment-a long and wide gallery leading to produce such an impression on us by what we should the various class-rooms—had been charmingly decothere see and hear, as to further very materially the rated for the occasion. Instead of the unmeaning object she had so much at heart.

bundles of half-withered evergreens stuck about the Oh, do go, Frank. I should so like to see how walls in the style of a village club-room on club-day,' they manage these things in Paris. Emily Brown, you in which clownish, unclassical fashion we used to know, went to one of those advertising schools near ornament the school-room at Dr Birchem's, on the last Calais, and she says that the distribution of prizes was day of every 'half'—festoons of artificial flowers hung very amusing even there. Besides, as your brother gracefully from column to column, and along the line thinks of sending his girls to school here, we may be of tall windows, contrasting prettily with the white able to gain information which will be valuable to drapery. A profusion of waxlights, artistically dishim. Do let us go.'

posed, displayed the appropriate decorations to the And so it was decided, partly from curiosity, and best advantage; and in short, guided by madame's partly from the desire of picking up all the knowledge correct taste and eye for effect, the gallery had been we could of French schools, that we should accept converted, by the willing hands of the pensionnaires, madame's invitation; though not without some into an elegant reception-room. The placing, too, of grumbling on my part at the loss of two days, for the performers and spectators was conducive to effect. what I prognosticated would prove to me at least a At one end of the room, several rows of benches, very slow affair. This decision being come to, it was covered with scarlet cloth, and raised one above necessary to concoct an affirmative reply to Madame another, were reserved for the young ladies ;' while Bidamont de St Maur's note, and this at first seemed three rows of seats, placed on either side of the gallery, likely to prove rather a formidable undertaking-were already crowded with the company invited. At neither of us liking to venture on the composition of the other end of the apartment stood a table, on which a French letter. A happy thought, however, got us were displayed a large number of gaily-bound books out of the difficulty. Hurrying to the Palais Royal, I and other prizes, together with the ivy wreaths with invested three francs fifty centimes in the purchase of which every successful pupil was to be couronnée in a polyglot Livre de poche pour Voyageurs, at the end the sight of the admiring and applauding spectators of which we found, as I had anticipated, several forms of the solemnity. On a cushion by itself, lay a wreath of invitations and replies thereto, adapted to the of pure white roses, destined, as we afterwards found, requirements of polite society. Selecting the form to be the reward of the best-behaved and best-loved which appeared to us the most appropriate, we filled girl in the school. in and despatched the following note:

But I ought to say a few words on the appearance

and bearing of Madame Bidamont de St Maur herself. Monsieur et Madame Smith font leurs respectueux

She looked and acted her part to perfection. A buxom compliments à Madame Bidamont de St Maur, et ils widow of forty, she had by no means laid aside her auront l'honneur de se rendre avec autant d'empresse- pretensions to good looks, for she was still handsome ment que de plaisir à son aimable invitation.

-skilful millinery contending successfully with the Hótel des Bouledogues Britanniques.'

first approaches of the destroyer, Time.

She was

dressed richly, and in perfect taste, but soberly, as Anglice: 'Mr and Mrs make their respectful became the mistress of a place of education ; and as compliments to Madame and they will have the she gracefully welcomed each new arrival, smiling and honour to render themselves with as much of eager- bowing how charmée she was to see them, no doubt ness as of pleasure to her amiable invitation. At she impressed her visitors with the belief that she least such was the English version of the form of was a very amiable, comme-il-faut person, qualified acceptance given in the Travellers' Pocket-book I had in every respect to superintend the education of young just purchased.

ladies destined to live in the most artificial society in The number of vehicles of all sorts, public and the world. private, which we found setting down company at A glance at the programme of the evening's proNuméro 8 bis, Avenue des Demoiselles, when we ceedings shewed that madame's endeavours arrived there on the following evening, shewed us seconded by an ample staff of professors. The prothat the gathering together of papas and mammas and gramme set forth the names and qualities of all the sympathising friends would be a large one at anyrate; professors who taught at ‘Numéro 8 bis, as well as and that if dull, as I feared, it would not be so on the order of the entertainment provided for us ; and it account of the paucity of spectators. The anteroom appeared that, Madame Bidamont de St Maur, bealso was crowded with parents and relatives of every sides exercising a general superintendence, had merely degree of consanguinity, from third-cousin up to grand confined herself to the department of manners,'

. Ce 20 Aorit 184-,

were

ample care had been taken for the instruction of down to the sole credit of their own daughters; and her pupils in other branches of polite female education. were therefore more than ever convinced that madame The professorial power of the establishment in the was a most charming woman. Rue des Demoiselles was immense; and the little We had been greatly mystified by the dropping of army of gentlemen in white cravats and spectacles the folded pieces of paper into the gilt urn, but the all the literary gentlemen wore gold spectacles-was explanation was at hand. As soon as the last paper enough to make one feel learned and accomplished had been deposited, the urn was carried to the table, to look at them. There was · Monsieur le Professeur at which sat madame and the professor, and its conde Littérature Française,' a bald-headed little man, tents being emptied out, the voting papers—for such evidently duly impressed with a sense of his own they were—were examined and counted by them. The importance, and bursting with the beau discours which pupil who had gained the most votes was to be preit would be his duty and delight shortly to pronounce. sented with the couronne blanche—the prize for good There was ‘Monsieur le Professeur de Géographie et conduct, to be by her worn during the evening. This Cosmographie,' whose duty it was that evening to prize, by which it was intended to reward and honour look wise, which he did --as an owl in spectacles. the most amiable girl in the school, the girl best loved There were 'Messieurs les Professeurs' of History, of by her companions, and the girl whom we should call Natural Philosophy, of Writing and Arithmetic, of the best behaved'-not the cleverest—was not conEnglish, of Italian, and of German; of the Piano, of ferred, nominally at least, by the favour of madame ; the Harp, and of Singing; of Drawing, of Dancing, or after grave consultations, like many of the other and even of 'Gymnastique,' which latter functionary prizes, between Monsieur le Curé and several of the was habited in the uniform of an officer of the gentlemen in spectacles. The couronne blanche was

Sapeurs-Pompiers, and displayed on his well-stuffed awarded by the girls themselves; and as Madame breast the cross of the Legion of Honour. Nor must Bidamont de St Maur never failed to turn to the best I forget to mention the gentleman—although his name account every opportunity of producing a dramatic did not appear amongst the list of professors—whose effect, the election took place by universal suffrage and business it was to conduct the religious instruction of vote by ballot, on the evening of the distribution. the pupils, and who prepared them for the examina- Whether these panaceas for all the ills which humanity, tions of Monsieur le Cure' himself. He appeared to political and administrative, is heir to, secured the be a kind of ‘Professeur de Religion,' I suppose of the placing of the right girl in the right place on this occaorthodox faith of the country ; but I cannot help sion, is more than I will undertake to say. It may be believing that Madame Bidamont de St Maur, rather also that the secrets of the urn were not so we

kept than lose a pupil, would have undertaken that he as our ballot society would desire, and that, after all, should have catechised in any religion required, even the election was more or less the result of legitimate if it were that of a Turk or a Hindoo. La religion, at influence.' All I know for certain is, that the learned Number 8, was regarded, I fancy, pretty much in the professor, after carefully counting the voting papers, same light as la danse, la gymnastique, or any other declared that the choice of the electors had fallen on étude. The keeper and director of all the consciences Mademoiselle Blanche de Bonneval; and that a very of the establishment, the curé of the parish, was also pretty girl, answering to that name, rose from her present, and appeared to enjoy himself as much as place, and advanced, blushing, to the table, amidst the anybody. No doubt, the distributions des prix at the unanimous plaudits of the spectators. The couronne ladies' schools to which he was invited, were looked blanche was handed to her with a few kind expres. forward to by him almost as joyfully as by the girls sions, by no less a personage than Monsieur le Cure; themselves. On all other occasions, his profession and then, kneeling at the feet of Madame Bidamont de forbade him to be present at a soirée wliere he might St Maur, the much-coveted wreath was fastened on enjoy the society of the fair sex.

her brow by that lady, who, affectionately embracing Madame Bidamont de St Maur now takes her seat her, sent her back, more deeply blushing, and still on one side of the table on which are displayed the more loudly applauded, to her constituents. As I various prizes, supported by Monsieur le Professeur have said, there may have been legitimate influence de Littérature Française on the other. The smiling at work in spite of universal suffrage and the ballot; curé places himself on her right hand, the professors and, at the best, it is more than probable that the conand teachers group themselves around, and, at a given test gave rise to petty jealousies and heart-burnings, signal, the young ladies '-between sixty and seventy and intrigues amongst the white-robed electors. But in number-enter in due order. They are as well the effect of the election and the crowning of the drilled as a corps-de-ballet, and are all dressed precisely chosen one was admirable. Madame Bidamont de St alike in white muslin; each class being distinguished Maur may have waked feelings in the hearts of some by broad sashes and bands across the shoulders of of her pupils which would have been roused only too different coloured ribbons. They enter two and two, soon by contact with the world, but she had made beginning with the youngest, and gradually rising to another decided hit. the “finished' young lady, who, in all probability, has The choosing of the couronne blanche being thus a bon parti, a desirable match, looked out for her as concluded with all the éclat that could be desired, the soon as she reaches home. Each pair formally salute young ladies displayed their musical accomplishments the company, and then, dropping two folded papers in a concert at which they were the sole performers. into a gilt urn placed ready to receive them, take their It commenced with a grand chaur, in which some places on the crimson-covered benches. When all are thirty or forty of the girls took part, and which had seated, the spectacle is as charming a one as the eye been composed expressly for the occasion-the words need to look upon. The many-coloured ribbons which by Monsieur le Professeur de Littérature Française, served to distinguish the classes, divided the mass of and the music by Monsieur le Professeur de Chant. white muslin, and the crowd of fresh young faces, The latter professor of course presided at the piano, into parterres as brilliant as ever the most cunning and had every reason to be contented with the effect gardener could devise. The gayest beds of tulips of his composition. Indeed, nothing could be prettier and ranunculuses would have lost by comparison with in its way than the effect produced by the fresh and them. Madame Bidamont de St Maur had already well-trained voices of his pupils. As to the part which made a hit. The drilling and dressing had answered the other professor had had in this chorus--the words the purpose intended. All the mammas, by a process from the few which reached my Britannic tymof ratiocination peculiar to the maternal mind, put panum with sufficient distinctness for comprehension, the effect the young ladies produced in the aggregate I judge that the opportunity for a puff had not been wasted; and that the chorus were made to sing of the trebles ; and sometimes the rattling of the small-arms delights of study in general, and of the merits of is so sharp and quick, that it fairly dominates the Numéro 8 bis' in particular. The chorus was heavy artillery; and thus from pianissimo to piano, from followed by a solo on the harp, a nervous affair for the forte to fortissiino, and ffff isissimo, and far beyond poor soloist; for when performing on this instrument, what it is in the power of ordinary language musical there is no possibility of half hiding one's self behind to express, the grand morceau went on to its concluthe music. The harpist is exposed from head to foot sion in a crash which nearly deafened the hearers. to the criticism of the company, and inelegance in Need I say that the success was commensurate with playing is almost as fatal as want of skill. Madame the concluding noise ? It always is so. The caterer Bidamont de St Maur, however, prided herself above of popular music who can contrive to make a piece all things on imparting elegance of manner to her end with the explosion of a powder-magazine, or the pupils, and the pose of such of them as learned to bursting of a boiler, will probably make a fortune. play on the harp was especially attended to. On this The noise and fury of the finale, the do of the prima occasion, both grace and talent were conspicuous in the donna, and the pretty scene of the election of the harpist, who was no other than the pretty couronne couronne blanche, had put everybody in a good blanche. She fully merited the hearty round of humour for the real business of the evening-the applause which she received when she courtesied and distribution of the prizes. At last, then, the time had made way for a stately, dark-eyed girl, with a tragic arrived for Monsieur le Professeur de Littérature cast of countenance, the prima donna of the pension, Française to disburden himself of the beau discours and the pet pupil of Monsieur le Professeur de Chant. which had long weighed so heavily upon him. AdjustGreat things were expected of this damsel, and expect- ing his gold spectacles, he spoke, or rather read-a ation was not disappointed. Her style of singing Frenchman seldom speaks—to the following effect. was certainly not to my taste, but I was in a woful After telling us with what pleasure he performed minority on that question; for when this prima donna his duty on that occasion, because of the very favourof sixteen, by the aid of a violent jerk of the head, a able report he had to give of the progress made during frightful contortion of the mouth, and a sudden the past year, he entered into a detailed account of straightening of the arms, got up as high as do--my what had been done by each class in each branch of wife said it was do--the whole room burst into a study. Then, in well-rounded and sonorous phrases, storm of acclamations, and the face of Monsieur le he expatiated on the delights of knowledge, and Professeur de Chant absolutely beamed with delight. reminded his young friends of the immense advantThe prima donna was the trump card in the vocal ages they enjoyed at "Numéro 8 bis, Avenue des department of the concert; but a charming little Demoiselles,' where professors of grand talent, and a blonde who sang next, pleased me infinitely more. lady watching over them with soins tous maternels, were She sang a simple ballad with taste and feeling, and, unceasingly endeavouring to accomplish the most to my mind, was not half so much applauded as she ardent hopes of their dear parents. In short, he deserved to be.

delivered himself of a discours which, as he meant that But the great hit in the concert, not even excepting it should, pleased everybody. When he alluded to the roulades, the screams, and the contortions of the the motherly care of Madame Bidamont de St Maur, prima donna, was the morceau with which it concluded. and spoke of the sacrifices and exertions before This was a 'grande fantasie pour six pianos et douze which she would not shrink in order to assure executantes'-a grand fantasia for six pianos and herself of the happiness and wellbeing of her pupils,' twelve performers, arranged expressly for this solem- what a capital puff it was in the ears of the anxious nity by Monsieur le Professeur de Piano. Half-a- parents present! When he ran through the whole dozen cottage pianos—we may thank Heaven they list of studies, from cosmographie to la gymnaswere not grands—are wlieeled from the adjoining tique, and one big word after another rolled out of rooms, and ranged back to back in the centre of the his mouth or twanged from his nose as the pronuncial gallery, like line-of-battle ships prepared for action. exigencies of his native Gallic required, it seemed Twelve music-stools are placed before them; a dozen that No. 8 was a fountain of all knowledge, and a pensionnaires take their seats thereon, and twelve source of every fashionable accomplishment. How pair of hands, ninety-six crooked fingers, and four- satisfactory, too, this report of the progress made by and-twenty bent thumbs suspended over the key- the pupils; how gratifying to all parties the announceboards, await but the signal to commence the attack. ment that this year' the conduct of all had been As Monsieur le Professeur de Piano takes his place most satisfactory; how pleasing to find that, from between the two lines of instruments, curiosity is at its the department of elementary theology-the catechism height. The stillness is like the breathless silence --to that of la danse—that elegant accomplishwe hear of as usual just before hostile fleets open on ment more than ever necessary to those destined to one another their thousand iron throats. Monsieur le mix in the brilliant society of our time'-the young Professeur is evidently impressed with the solemnity of ladies had surpassed the expectations of their prothe moment: he taps once on the nearest piano; his fessors. No wonder that, capping his lucid statement white-gloved hand saws the air, up, down, and across, of all these agreeable facts with a magnificent peroraafter the manner of musical commanders. 'Un-deux tion, the learned professor concluded a speech more -trois-quatre;' up goes the white glove, and—but than half an hour long amidst the acclamations of all what a disappointment to the ear! Instead of a present. terrific onslaught on the six instruments by the whole Then came madame's turn to make a speech, and body of performers with their two dozen hands, and very well she did it too-saying, not reading, what she their ten dozen fingers and thumbs, a single hand had to say in a ladylike, conversational style, which begins piano, pianissimo, somewhere far down in the was really very pleasing to listen to. Of course, she bass. Instead of the thundering broadside from every addressed her pupils as mes chères enfants, and assured ship which we all expected with trembling curiosity, a them how much she had their temporal and eternal feeble rumbling only is heard on the extreme left. welfare at heart. She had a kind word for all of Presently, however, another hand comes into play, and them; for those who were going to leave her not to then another and another; one vessel after another return, and for those whom she hoped to see again gets into action, and soon a tremendous cannonade is after the vacances. She flattered herself that she had kept up along both lines. Sometimes the big guns of earned, as she had striven to merit, their confidence the six basses are worked so vigorously that they and affection. She assured them of the deep interest completely drown the pattering musketry of the six she should always feel for them, whatever Dieu should have in store for her; and wishing them all an affec- Rye, although of nearly the same composition, has tionate adieu, in a voice nicely modulated to express less tenacity in the gluten, and the bread made from just the fitting degree of emotion, sat down, having it has therefore less lightness; while oatmeal, although convinced her guests that she was not only charming much richer in gluten than fine wheaten flour, has so and amiable, but très spirituelle as well. The vigour little tenacity as to be quite incapable of being baked and evident heartiness with which her pupils applauded her little speech throughout, proved at any rate that into a spongy loaf at all. she was popular with them, and that if circumstances

When the dough is placed in the oven, the fermentmade her worldly, her nature was not unkindly. ation goes on more rapidly; the little cells grow into

A futter of expectation now ran through the ranks large bubbles; the alcohol escapes and is dissipated; of the pensionnaires, for the prizes were about to be till at length, when the heat is about the boilinggiven. Madame took up a roll of paper, and saying: point, it kills the yeast, and the fermentation is sud* It is now my pleasing duty to announce the names of denly at an end. The use of the yeast is to evolve those young ladies who have been thought worthy of a reward for diligence in their various studies," or rather gas in order to give lightness to the bread; but this, the French equivalent for that phrase, the distribution

we see, it can do only at the expense of the dough, of the prizes at once commenced. Each recipient, on by first converting a portion of its starch into sugar. her name being called, walked up to the table, and To save this waste, it was necessary to charge the having been crowned with an ivy wreath, received her dough with ready-made (carbonic acid) gas, instead of prize, and returned to her place. The first prize making the gas of its own substance; and this was awarded in the first class was for · Littérature Fran- repeatedly tried by mixing the flour with aërated water, çaise et Style;' the second, for history; and so on to but with no good result, since, in the very act of singing, dancing, and the polka. In those days, polkaing was just coming into fashion, and the giving of a mixing, the gas escaped. In this stage of the business, prettily dressed doll to a pretty child of seven, a great Dr Dauglish conceived the idea of employing, in the pet of the whole school, as a prize for her proficiency operation of mixing, sufficient pressure to prevent the in this much-talked-of dance, created quite a sensation, escape of the gas. This, in point of fact, is his as doubtless it was intended it should. Though, of invention; but a vast deal of patient ingenuity, was course, not to be taken au sérieux, the prix de polka was required to make it work practically. In a wellone of the most successful strokes of the evening. The written article, on the subject in a local paper, the remarks which the professor of 'Littérature Française' Carlisle Eraminer, the following account is given of had made as to the progress of the young ladies in the apparatus and its action : ‘The apparatus contheir various studies, were fully borne out by the number of prizes which it had been thought advisable to structed at the works in Caldewgate consists of the award. I think that every pupil had at least one, and ordinary gas generator and holder used by soda-water some had as many as half a dozen, so that they all makers, and of a set of powerful pumps, for forcing went home rejoicing, and every mamma was more or the gas into the water contained in a condenser ; also, less content.

for pumping a pressure—that is, a volume of gas-into The prizes having all been distributed, the affair, a kneading or mixing vessel, which is a strong iron after a few more well-chosen words from madame, was over. The girls came down from their seats, and globe, capable of containing more than two sacks of mingled with their friends and relatives. Books were flour, and furnished with arms revolving by steameagerly held up for the inspection of admiring parents, power. To work the apparatus, flour is put into the and the little prix de polka became the subject of mixer, and water into the condenser, the pumps set universal attention. Madame Bidamont de St Maur to work, and, when sufficient gas has been pumped received on all sides well-inerited compliments on the into these vessels, the water is let into the mixer, and result of her exertions; and Monsieur and Madame the arms set agoing. In eight minutes, the dough is Smit, amused rather than captivated, departed mixed. The pressure is then let off, and the dough in their citadine for the Hôtel des Bouledogues rises instantaneously. Thus, in about half an hour, Britanniques.

the usually tedious and uncertain process of bread

making has been accomplished, and there has also IMPROVEMENT IN BREAD-BAKING. been effected the saving of that precious tenth of

nutritious matter which would have been wasted in A new process of bread-baking, the invention of Dr exhalation, or by conversion into alcohol. The baker is Dauglish of Malvern, is at present undergoing a delivered from the hard necessity of setting his bread course of successful experiment at the works of the at night, and watching for its rising in the morning. Messrs Carr in Carlisle, and promises to effect at once Alternations of cold and heat are rendered powerless an improvement in quality and the saving of about over the heaviness or lightness of our breakfast-loaves. a tenth of material. The idea proceeded upon is not Time, labour, and material are saved, and thus bread new—that has been long known, and frequently made rendered both purer and cheaper.' the subject of experiment; but the process by which

But there is something of importance in bread. the theory can be successfully reduced to practice is making besides raising the dough. The oven must

be constructed on a good principle, or every other now for the first time brought forward.

advantage will, to a certain extent, be lost. Our When the dough, mixed with yeast, under the old present oven has come down to us as an heirloom from system, is placed in a warm atmosphere, in an hour or our ancestors, and we have never thought of examining two it begins to rise or swell, in consequence of a it by the lights of science. In the Carlisle experiportion of its starch being converted into sugar, and ments

, however, it was found that the bread, however this changed into alcohol and carbonic acid. The gas artistically made by the new process, was not invaripermeates the dough, forming, in its efforts to escape, ably what might have been expected, and this led to little cells, where it is imprisoned by the tenacity of discovered that the heated vaults we use for the pur

an inquiry into the principle of the oven.

It was the gluten, which forms about 10 per cent. of fine pose, in which the heat radiates down upon the bread, flour. It is this mechanical peculiarity of wheaten are unfavourable to lightness; whereas in Paris and flour which has made it the chief food of mankind. Vienna, where the heat rises from the bottom, and

passes through the loaf, the top-crust is soft, and the ticated superstition. I would not maintain upon oath bread as spongy as is desirable. On this latter prin- that he believed absolutely in Orcus and the Sybil; ciple, therefore-new, we believe, in England—the but there were ideas in bis mind, connected with ovens were constructed for the unfermented bread. ancient creeds, which dominated all his thoughts, and

We may add, as something that will appear curious imparted a peculiar colour to his faith. Our two boatto many of our readers, that the bulk of light men—which, however, is no marvel-were to the full bread-or rather, the space it fills—is but one-sixth as much under the influence of ancient superstitions solid matter, and five-sixths aëriform, and that, con- as himself. Paganism had come down to them as a sequently, very high pressures are needed to make sort of secret inheritance, of light or darkness penesuch light bread. These pressures, however, are so trating through their everyday belief, until it reach effectual by the new process, that even when the much further down into their minds, where it underlay dough is rolled out into biscuit, it retains the gas in all their notions and imaginings, and impressed upon minute cells, and thus a novel and superior kind of their characters an extremely peculiar stamp. They bread is produced under a familiar name. This has were afraid of the night, afraid of the moon, afraid of struck Messrs Carr & Co. so much, that we believe it is the shadowy figures which the wood-crowned islands their intention to confine the use of the apparatus to threw here and there upon the surface of the deep. their original occupation—the manufacture of biscuit; It seemed to them that by disturbing at such hours although their doing so will not exclude the public from the gentle ripples with our oars, we were guilty of the advantage of the invention in their daily bread, something like sacrilege, towards what power they since it is Dr Dauglish's intention to treat liberally could not tell, or would not, for perhaps in their hearts with all who desire to avail themselves of his patent. they had familiarised their apprehensions much more

distinctly than they chose to acknowledge. Nemesis

bears a wide sway over the earth, but more especially THE BLUE CAVE.

enfolds the Mediterranean with her broad wings. There WHOEVER has travelled much in the south, must have she resumes every night her ancient empire, and makes necessarily made the observation, that in certain states the hearts of all who go abroad beneath 'the sky pant of the atmosphere everything around you appears and thrill with a consciousness of her presence. startlingly unreal. Here, in the north, the world has

We had just rowed by Castel-a-mare, when the doctor a substantial aspect about it. You look upon it, you round to me and said: 'You mentioned to me yester

-a sudden thought apparently striking him-turned touch it, and you are fully persuaded of its perman- day that you had never visited the Blue Cave. Let ence and solidity. But as you approach the extremity us do so now. The play of colours is more marvellous of the temperate zone, you often appear to be floating by day; but the sense of solitude, the silence, the through a delusive creation, which expands, and gleams, mingling of light and shadow, the movement and and scintillates about you; now immersed in light, murmur of the half-fabulous water, will be more now enveloped with shadow; now contracting, now exciting, more charming by far at this delicious hour.' dilating, until your imagination becomes a prey to a

I assented readily, and we moved on. It is no doubt sort of dim scepticism independent altogether of reason in which we sit forms the point of contact between two

very common to imagine at such times that the boat At all events, this is what I myself have often expe- universes-the universe above, and the counterpart of rienced, when hovering in dreamy abstraction about the same universe below—and that we are upheld and the shores north and south of the Mediterranean. Our borne along by we know not what power between existence is divided everywhere into two very distinct these two systems of existence; touching neither, parts—the life of the day, and the life of the night- mingling with neither, yet powerfully acted upon which, to the least poetical and fanciful of our species, by the influences of both. The water was still and must necessarily be distinguished by striking contrasts ent. We looked down into it, and far away in its

smooth as glass, and seemingly far more transparfrom each other.

unfathomable depths beheld moon and planets, and I had a friend at Naples, somewhat old even when constellations flinging towards each other their golden we first met, who seemed in his experience to have light, until the concave was one blaze of splendour. reversed the great principles of life. Having been above, the eye was encountered by the same phenosolid, logical, and somewhat material in his youth, he mena. For a while, no one uttered a word. The had become romantic and imaginative as he advanced sailors moved backwards and forwards ; the oars dipped, in years.

To him, nothing was so delightful as to bright drops, like showers of molten pearl, rained over contemplate the universe as a sort of diversified mirage, forward, and shores, woods, islands flew past as in the

them as they ascended into the air; the boat moved moulded by the plastic power of the soul into infinite panorama of a dream. Here and there, a long way off, variety, and stretched out like a fantastic picture lights twinkled between the trees; and as we moved beneath the moon. Lazy people are everywhere the among the islands, vast piles of masonry like prisons best adapted to keep alive this sort of dreamy pro- rose high among the rocks. I was not ignorant that pensity; and the Neapolitans being pre-eminently thousands of brave hearts, in anguish and bitterness, lazy, my worthy friend found the paradise of his fancy were at that very moment throbbing freely within. in the Bay of Naples, where, with a couple of boatmen Their owners had dared to dream of improving the at his command, he used frequently to put forth soon social condition of their countrymen, and this, in most after nightfall, and move about in silence over the parts of the world, being a crime, they were expiating gleaming waters, and between those lofty and fantastic their proud fancies upon an insufficient supply of bread islands which, studding the whole distance from Misene and water in those dungeons. But under the inspirato Sorrento, cut off the Bay from the Mediterranean. tion of the picturesque, we sometimes become hardDuring my stay, I accompanied him more than once hearted, or else discover the knack of escaping from on these moonlight excursions.

painful topics to enjoy the beauty that is before us. The doctor—for my friend had studied divinity, and At anyrate, we were not so sad as might have been risen to a high position in the church-was, in spite of expected, and approached the precipices of Capri quite his profession and the duties it devolved upon him, in the humour to enjoy all their grandeur. We had considerably more than half a pagan; not as scholars shot out a little into the Mediterranean to the northoften are, through a mere learned deference to the west of Capri, and there paused a while to gaze at freaks of the imagination, but from genuine, unsophis- that mimic Alp thrusting up its rugged bulk out of

« 上一頁繼續 »