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Florence. My Dear A.:-In my last I promised you a little account of my journey from Rome hither, which had one or two incidents of interest, with which alone I will detain you. I left Rome just at evening by diligence for Civita Vecchia. My friend and countryman already mentioned, accompanied me to the office, and bade me a cordial “ good-bye” at parting, at the same time putting into my hand a note of introduction to an acquaintance at Civita Vecchia connected with the English Consulate. We parted with the expectation of meeting soon at Leghorn. It is a pleasant thing to meet a
countryman in a distant land. I was much ? disappointed in missing one or two of whom I
heard, whom I knew well by reputation, though not personally acquainted. As we passed from the gate of the city, I gained a parting view. The shadows of night were gathering over it and throwing its dusky mantle over tower and dome, and the recollection that I was taking my farewell look of this wonderful city, stirred my mind with many exciting reflections. Here and there from the mighty drama of her history prominent events started up and blazed before me with startling vividness; and imagination scampered over the past without bridle or rein. After riding a few miles my mind sank into that kind of drowsy indifference which succeeds excitement, and with visions fast growing indistinct, I fell asleep and was scarcely conscious of anything that passed, except as the periodical application of postilious for a little change announced a stopping-place. The regular and importunate dunning of these fellows is often excessively annoying. Understand me, I believe in paying every reasonable demand, and in charity, giving of alms, etc. ; but when you are fully conscious that you have paid at the outset a good round price for all the accommodation you are receiving, and take into the account the feeing of half a dozen porters
at either end of your route, for the sake of peace, it is too bad to be pursued at every intermediate step by these eager extortioners, and especially to have a good pleasant nap broken in upon. It is too much like the annoyance of East Jersey mosquitoes.
I mentioned that Civita Vecchia was the place of our destination. Probably you don't know much about this important city. May you never be enlightened by as tedious a sojourn as afflicted me. Extremes-either good or bad — must have something in them to notice. Therefore Civita Vecchia deserves noticing, for with all soberness, I do assert it to be the dullest, loneliest, most good-for-nothing kind of a place I have yet had the misfortune to become acquainted with. We arrived about one in the morning, and expected to leave by steamer in the afternoon of the same day. But during the night a most violent gale sprang up from the south-west, and when I awoke, the dashing of waters was in my ear.
I walked out to. wards the harbor after breakfast, to inquire as to our prospect of getting away. The sea near the shore was a sheet of foam, and our steamer was tossing and heaving to and fro, and I soon learned to my sorrow, that all hope of leaving before the morrow must be abandoned. It was a great disappointment, as I was very anxious to hurry on; and the matter was aggravated by the dolefulness of the place. A few narrow, lonely streets, with dark, gloomy, antiquated houses frowning on you, and dull, dirty, heathenish looking people crawling around in a half-dead, half-alive kind of a way, as if they knew nothing and had nothing to do—presented pictures anything but animating to a dejected man. Seriously, the condition of the mass of the people both as to industry and morals is truly deplorable. Gambling seemed to be the only business followed with much zeal. This I should think from all I saw was prosecuted with vigor; and many
with no honest occupation, depended for their precarious resources on their success in consuming others. I looked about for something to interest and divert my mind awhile, as I found I must reconcile myself to a day's sojourn. I entered one or two churches, but dingy walls, indifferent paintings, and the old odor, which many of these churches of the poorer class retain, (and which every traveller must remember,) turned me back in quick disgust. I heard there was a theatre, where I suppose, after days of laziness and gambling, the idle and vicious assembled to listen to indifferent acting, and have the monotony of their torpid life broken by half-grown emotions or momentary kindling of bad passions. But as I would not seek amusement in a theatre, however attractive, I of course would not vex my conscience or add to my desolation by going to this. After a time I followed one of the streets till it led me to a mound which skirted the town, covered with a beautiful sod. It seemed designed as a kind of fortification or wall, and here and there a sentinel was pacing on it. The grass was fresh and bright, and was the first cheerful object I had seen. I was just congratulating myself on my good fortune, and meditated a pleasant stroll, when a poor vassal of the Pope, with musket on his shoulder, told me I could not walk there. He seemed half ashamed to do his duty, but I turned about and gave up in despair. I never felt much more desolate and doleful. I thought if any continental government wanted a Siberia or a Botany Bay close at hand, I would recommend them to send their convicts to Civita Vecchia. They would soon ask Sahara as an abatement. The letter I had brought from Rome proved of great service. The young gentleman to whom it introduced me was very attentive, and kindly relieved me of all care about my passport, and did all in his power to diminish the discomfort of my stay. I must say also that there was one object worthy of a notice—the beautiful massive fort which adorns and fortifies the harbor. I was told the design was by Michael Angelo. It contained at this time well locked up within its walls a large number of convicts frorn the papal States ; among them a notorious leader of
gang of banditti which had long infested the mountains somewhere between Rome and Florence.
We left on the following day, though it was doubtful until about the hour of sailing, and considered then a little dangerous. As soon as
the vessel advanced beyond the protection of the molo, she rolled and tossed about like a plaything among the heaving waves. The decks were soon deserted; and a distinguished lady from Florence, in a feeble state of health, becoming excessively alarmed, shrieked wildly : “ We are lost! we are lost!” We had a most uncomfortable passage, but reached Leghorn in safety. The storm had done great damage there, and for days after news arrived of disasters.
I shall say nothing of Leghorn, at any rate at present.
A railroad carries you to Pisa, about ten miles. Having alluded to her former wealth and commercial enterprise, I shall not dwell upon her history or present state now. I spent only a day and night there, visited the famous cathedral, leaning tower, and Campo Santo, and next morning left by diligence for Florence.
For the prominent place it held by its wealth and commercial enterprise during the middle ages, for the interest of its political history, for the number of great men it has produced or nourished, and for its rich treasures of art, Florence justly ranks among the first cities of Europe. Its situation is beautiful, and there is much to remind you of its better days. The immense massive edifices of stone, with frowning battlements, and peculiar square towers, speak the genius of the times in which they were erected. I shall not attempt to unravel here the particulars of Florentine history, though full of interest. You know what Machiavelli has made of it. As you walk about the city, especially when the moon throws its silver light on ancient towers and domes, or gives the yellow Arno a purer flow, the mind easily runs back to by-gone days, and revels in the stirring associations of the past. Almost everything here is connected by some tie with the rise and wealth, the power and reverses of the famous Medici family ; but I must avoid these endless genealogies. The first place of interest I visited was the Royal Gallery, as it was near my boarding-house, and I came upon it unexpectedly, as I sauntered forth the morning after my arrival here. Its collections are almost endless, and one needs to visit it again and again. Its chambers are open to all, and scores of artists are always engaged in different parts, copying from ancient and celebrated paintings, as this privilege is liberally extended. Near the gallery is a public square or plaza, on one side of which
THE BEAUTY OF EARTH.
a storied edifice, the Loggia di Lanzi, attracts your eye, and on the other the famous old palace or Palazzo Vecchio, as it is called, rears its massive and turreted walls, and bears its lofty tower towards the clouds. As Phillips says of Napoleon, “its frown terrifies the glance its magnificence attracted.” This old tower has looked on strange scenes, and these walls could tell of wild and fierce encounters when liberty was wrested by an excited people from the hands of ambitious men. The square is abundantly supplied, and in instances adorned by numerous pieces of statuary of various degrees of merit and demerit-one of them by Michael Angelo. The large equestrian statue of Oosmo de Medici, whose wealth and liberality contributed so much to the splendor of Florence, and won for him the proud title of “ Pater Patriæ,” attracts your attention, and detains you with reflections upon him and his succes
A detachment of soldiers stand on duty in front of the old palace, and the royal band salute him with their choicest strains. As royalty cannot monopolize all the vibrations of sound more than all the rays of light, we poor plebeians gain some benefit from these perform
The music surpassed anything of the kind I have ever heard. I have been much interested in an illustration of the passion of the Italians for music, and how natural it is to them, which has fallen under my notice.
A little fellow, half clad, but full of life and song, if not of bread and butter, passes my boarding-house morning and evening as he goes to his daily occupation or returns to the little dirty corner he calls his home. He has picked up somewhere strains from some of the most difficult and beautiful operas, and with a sweetness and fullness of voice and a perfection of modulation which many who pretend to sing might well covet, he pours forth his song, waking echoes from the antiquated walls, aud making the streets ring with his melody.
I intended to give you an account of my visit to the tower of Galileo, Pitti palace, &c., but must stop short here.
I witnessed in this square an interesting ceremony which takes place nightly at the closing of the gates. It is customary about sunset for the Grand-duke, who occupies the celebrated Pitti palace, across the Arno, to pass in state through this time-honored square.
THE BEAUTY OF EARTH.
BY CAROLINE OR MSBY.
Who loveth not our joyous Earth,
So beautiful and free ?
Her living minstrelsy,
And murmur on her streams;
A thousand glorious dreams-
When 'neath that glorious sky,
And eyes flashed radiantly. And Earth hath many mysteries :
Within her secret caves
Beneath the broad sea-waves.
The vales a strange-keyed song,
T'he deep wild caves full many a tone,
And shapes, an unknown throng.
In glens where shadows lie.
Steals forth so silently,
Uplooking from the sea.
The skies of Italy,
Of desert Araby;
Or lifts our Rocky chain, Each scene, each change does but repeat
Earth's beauty o'er again.
THE SELF-DENYING STUDENT.
A SKETCH FROM REAL LIFE.
It was a midwinter's night. The heavy tread of footmen in the street had gradually been growing less and less, and now had entirely died away. The clock had struck ten-eleven -twelve-and all was silent, save the howling of the storm without. For two or three hours past, while others slept, a lone student had been poring over classical lore; and so absorbed was he in his studies, that he was wholly unconscious of the flight of time. He now arose with strained eyes to prepare for retiring. He read a chapter in the Bible, hastily reviewed his conduct during the day past, and offered up a sincere prayer to the Giver of all good, in which he asked to be directed by heavenly wisdom in encountering the almost insurmountable obstacles that beset his way. Especially did he remember in his supplications his father and mother at their humble home. Committing himself to the kind care of his heavenly Father, he sought the embraces of “tired nature's sweet restorer.”
Charles Blossom, the young man introduced to the reader by the foregoing, was the youngest and only remaining son of poor but respectable parents. They had lost two older sons and a daughter in the short space of five years, and Charles was now their only support. They had been careful to instil into his youthfol mind right moral principles, and they had the satisfaction of knowing, as his opening faculties were developed, that he possessed a most amiable disposition. Filial affection especially was a predominating trait in his character.
While quite young he imbibed a very great desire to obtain a thorough and finished education. He even sometimes dared to think of college ; but then the obstacles in his path seemed almost too much for his young spirit to grapple with. He was penniless, and it required a portion of the small sum he could earn to make his parents comfortable ; and the probability was that very soon the whole would be required; for his mother was nearly blind,
and his father was becoming decrepit, as old age came on. But the greater the discouragements that pressed upon him, the greater seemed his determination to rise above them. The rudiments of an education he obtained by the aid of such facilities as were afforded near home. As soon as he was deemed competent he commenced teaching, and thus he acquired the means of further prosecuting his studies. In order to prepare for college, he must needs resort to the seminary in a neighboring village. Here he very soon won the respect of his instructors and fellows, and by faithfulness in study he became known as a thorough and critical scholar. By perseverance and economy he had “worked his way” at this institution about a year and a half. His whole soul was absorbed in the pursuit of knowledge, and to have taken him off from the privilege of books and of study, under ordinary circumstances, would have been almost as death to him. He wanted only a few months to completing his preparatory course, when the sad news came that his father was ill, and needed his care and attention at home. He must relinquish his studies; but he murmurs not, nor once harbors the thought that those parents are a burden to him. Cheerfully he gives up all, and, drawn by the cords of the purest filial affection, wends his steps towards the home he so dearly loves.
His return was on a bright spring morning. The music of birds filled the groves, the early flowers yielded their fragrance to the zephyrs, and the gladness of nature bade the heart rejoice; but nothing caused such a thrill of joy to those parents in that lonely dwelling, as the presence of a dutiful son. They blessed a kind Providence for giving them such a support, and with reason too.
Charles immediately entered upon business by which he might be able to minister to their wants, for they were now nearly helpless. He felt the approbation of Heaven, which of all things else he prized most highly while he
Two years elapsed, and Charles Blossom was alone in the world. He had followed both his parents to the grave, and had the assurance that they were at rest in heaven. The first burst of grief passed by, and he yielded in full resignation to the blow, conscious that he had done what he could to smooth their pathway to the tomb.
His eagerness to acquire knowledge had not abated in the least, and he again entered upon his course of study. Still he had to struggle with difficulties; but, as the deep-rooted moun
tain oak is unscathed by the blast, so he yielded not, nor swerved from his high-souled purpose. He entered college, took a high stand in his class, and graduated with distinguished honors.
He is now a useful and brilliant inember of his profession ; and the laurels that grace his brow will be as lasting as time itself. He has stood before countless multitudes and swayed them by the power of his eloquence; he has listened to the applause of thousands, and has heard the echo of his fame in other lands; but still, as the happiest portion of his life, he always refers to the two years in which he denied himself that he might minister to the necessities of those who had given him existence.