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Genoa, Plaisance, Milan, Lake Como

Genoa, Plaisance, Milan, Lake Como image
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Gknoa, Sept, 15th, 1864. , Tho morning is beautiful in which the ( Genoa train puffa out of Turin, lts ] course lies diroetly aeross tbe plains of Piedmont. Field after field of wbeat ( and corn are ready tbr tho harveat. i etation is in its luxurianca. How strango tho coutraat between this voyage and that of a day or two sinee ! The Alps , of Switzerland and the Plains of Italj - bat extremes in the natural world ! i Tbe ears stop and Asti ia announced. Ye topar, are you uot thirty ? Without doubt you are at ibe oamo of Asti íor íerc, be it known, grows the grape ] whieh produces the finest wine of Italy. [ saw a connoisseur holding up a glass of , he sparkliug nectar, regarding it wilh deüght, and siracking bis lips aa aa euioKy upon it? beauty. " Grow ye vinesl" oried be, " ripen upon a bundred bilis, and raay sun and showers give thee tbeir richest endowments ! " Once more we are off, again hurrying tbrough the same ferlility. Alexaiidria 3 announced, and wo catcb a glimpse at one of the oíd enemies of Frederick líarberossa. Pay attention, voyager, as joa leave this ancient town ; forsoonyou iré passing over the field of Marengo. This is onu of tbe foot priüts of Napoeon. Where eau they not be seen ? - Europe was bis play-groaod. Kiugs were bis toys, and be knocksd around iere with such force that half a century jas not erased the marks of bis game - Marengo is one. It, however, does not ook to-day like a battle field. The golden grain covers the ashes of men. The jreen grass grows and the cattle graze peacefully where squadron met squadron in the shock8 of war. And tho gentle brutes, at peace with one another, seem to reproach man that he also can not thus live, but must seok to destroy bis neighbor in dread contest, Novi is passed, and the Apennines ap pear in the distance. We appioach them and are joon rushing (hrough their very hearts. Hoeks and mountains are no impediment to that hundred handed worm - man. He bores right through the Alps and the Apennines, and, cruel rnon sterl tears out their very büwels as if in rafjge ! The Apennines aro wLat Pat would cali "small pertatietf," in comparison with the Alp?. Greeu and caltivatrd to their sumrims, wilh a sort of a soft and gentlt look, tbey are a contrast indeed to the ruggodness atd abruptness uf the mountains of the norlb. Now we leape behind Pontedecimo and presently I catch my first glimpse at the Mediterranean. I can remember with vhat en.husiasm I first canght sight of ihe shores of tbe Oid World. I was ibout to see another continent, another civilization, anotber existenoe. I was abuut to tread the earth made rich by tilo blood of héroes, to visit the birthplaces of great reforma, to stand upou the baUle-grounds of revolutions thal have shaken the world ! But my heart is ulmost equally moved, as the blue, billowy Mediterranenn suddenly liesepread out before me. Oíd sea, I murmured to myself, thy existence has beon eventful. The Phoeuician launehed liis boat upon thy waters; the merchants of Tyre and Sidon mude thee thoir liigh-way ; the Grecian trireme hs often ploughed tby waves, and the Koman galley turned them into blood. But 'thou st'll livest - whilo Phoenieian, and Syrian and Grecian, aud Roman are goue. Thou haat seen the rise and fall of a huudred natlons; and, oíd, silent witnesser, thou shalt see I he birtli and dealli of a hundred others. Honor to thee, Mediter rauean ! Whutever there ia of durability, of history, ol interest, is thine.-Thou needest but the heart of man to make thee proud. But bere we are at Genoa, ' the superb city," aud I have no longer timo to muse. My dreams of Oricntalism are realized. Imagine an American aecustomed to wide avenues and plenty of room, making bis way through a labyrinth of tstreets, three feet in width [ Imagine a man who likes air and sun pernrnbulaüng where nfither Ihe one nor the other eau be found ! Geuoa ü superb iu ils narrownesB, obscurity, ind dirt. Huwever, let U8 bo just. Wo do not deny that as we walked along the Via Balbi, with ils stores, and the Via Nuova, with its murble paveuaents and palaoes, or the Via di St. Bartolomoo, wiih its fouutaios aod its gardens, that our first impressions were changed. Yei, Genoa has some avenues of beauty ; its (burches and palaces merit perhaps the ñamo of 1' superb," while its villas are little Edens. Then too, its cafesl - what shall I say of its cafes? Glittering n gildi d ceilings and mirrored walls, at night glaring with a hundred burners - oh, tho eafea also raeiH all praiso. Here Madam eats gracefully an ice made to perfcction; hero Monnuur sips his ooffee with the utmost non chalaneo; here the bclU criticjsud a granito, bef Jre ber lover, and the YoungAmeiiea Italian extols sentimentally a. aorbetto " to eyes which epeak again." Indeed the inhabitants of tho Península are someiliing like the Americans) jo thoir cafe life. They do not drink beer liko the Germana, nor wine like tbe French, nor whisky like the Swecles. They love coflee nnd ice and nidd driuks, while drunkenness is seldoin seen. At Genoa the women wear their hair like brides, and smoke ; the cliurch?; have Bolemn represectations of the crucifixion and operatic music ; the hotels have tho choieest vianda and mnsquitoes; the slreets are crowded with marble palaces and dungeons; the air is filled with the fragrance of orange groves and sink-holes ; the ear is enchaüted of an evening with the sweetest melody and tlie donkey-cry! O, Babel 1 was there ever suoh confusión and contrast ? A visit to the Villa of Valluvicini, where I walked iu an Americau forest. under Afrieau trees, amid Asiastis plants,and through European gardens; a halt before the statuo cf Cohimbus, where the navigator stands with his hand upon an anchor and America at his feet; n inspection of the checkered cathedral with its white and black niarble exterior, nd the most important of the otber ighty-two churches of the city; a look nto tbe interior of the principal palaces; a plunee in the Mediterranean, and finaly a general " doing up " of the town, and I am off once inore fo.r the North - eaving Southern Italy for another ex' cursion, when tho daya are oooler and the uights more refreshing, Domo d'Ossola, Sept. 21st, 1864. From Genoa I returned by the same route by which I had come, as far as Alexar.dria. Here I enjoyed a terrible ennui for one dav - for the city is anything but interesting - and then I was off for Plaisanco, passing the village of Moutebelle, whitíh the two Napoleons have renderod his'.oric, and the old desert plain of Trebia which Ilanuibal has iinniortalized. Plaisance is rieh enough in oíd structures, but not partieularly so in new. lts St. Anthony Cathedral dates from 900, its City Hall from 1280, and it bas numèroas other buildings almost as oíd as ihe bilis. Oue of niy compnnions is a ynung architect, perbupsone day to rival Michael Angelo or Christopher Wren. He ir particularly attraeted by these oíd shuctures. Sketch book in hand, he circumspects every comer, traces every out linr, and seems wrapt up in his labors, fiuding beauties where others can see only deformiHes. He reads history from architecture, tracee tho eivilization of a people írom its edifices, and loves to look at the changes in the society of the past through the epy-glass ol style. To hiin suoh a town as Plaisance is interesting; but, (architects aside) it is enough to excitetho spleen of an Englishnian, the ennui of a Frenchman, and mako an American (forgetting himself for a moment) say, "ooufound such a towo ! " Tlion good bye, oíd Plaisance, porlez vous bien, and liuriah for Milano, (Milaa boí) where soulptor, painter, plea9uru-seeker relie ficder, uutinn-studier, or bumble voynger eau each one find gratification for bis particular taste. Well then, here we are rui-hing througb Lombard cultivntinn. Mulberry trees line the road and bow to us gaily as we pass. We return the salutatiou, for we honor thee, old mulberry tree. Tbou feedest the worm tbat spips the cocoon, that forma the silk, tbat employs the laborer, that adorua ihe bello, tbat quiokeus commerce, thnt enriohes an empire I Oh ! the ramifieation of whioh thou art the author, Mu'berry tree. Let ! the Parisian modista thank thee, let the London merebant adore thee, let the New York beauty praiso theo ! Eut hold ! whafs this? Lodi ? Yes, and the Adda. Tbe little Corporal ouee more ! Spirit of Napoleon whero dost thou not hover ? Milan is at lcugth reached. I was more pleased with this city than any that I had seen in Italy. lts monu nients are grand and beautiful, its churelics are rioli in puintiugs, its Duomo is one of tbe seven wonders of the world, its public gardens blossom an bloom with beauty. I stood in a military barrack, once a convent, upun the wall of whose cbapel Leonardo de Vinoi psiotod h!s " Last Slipper." The wall is now crunibling, the picture once bright and beautiful is dofaoed and obscuro. But in its min even one wn trace its former superiority, The sad, lovely countenance of CVirid' , as he announoes bis b,etrayal, the suspicioua regards of Bartholamew towurds the betrayer, the horror of Peter at the words of his master, the iunocent, ignorant aspect of John as one demanda of hlm what all this means, the hard, pe uurious, unmoved visage of Judas, the painful looks of the other diaoiples as eaoh demands, " Js it I ? "-.-all can be traced even now ia lts decliue. Il seemed sad to me to see suuh a work of art hastening to destruction. Soon this worjd famed picture will have met its ruin. Like the worksof man itshallsee corrnptioii. I gazed upou it, thinking of its origirr, its history, and its decline. I could uot but think of the natioua that liko it have been, but which aru uot. yet in their very death giving evidences of ' their quon'jam greainesa and glory Of course I went to see Napuieon's Arch, and his Arena, and the Castle, and the Breva, and the Church of St. Atnbrose, where Germau emperors and Lom bard kings have worn the iron urewn - But I paused longest in and about the Duomo, that miracle of beauty, whose airy pinnacles, aud lifcht, graceful toers, and spritiging arches and lufty columns are all that is marvelous in art. O, man, thou bast magie fingers f Thou touchust marble and it speaketh, ihe roi;k and it spriugeth iato beauty 1 The citizens of Milan, like those of Paris, worship tfio picasure god. At i i'clook in tho ufteruoon tho gai monde umuaences to wliirl in its carriages hroucrh ihe Corso Vittorio Emmanwh. - The publio gurdcns nre all astir. w.ith a yandering crowd. The gard&n restau" auts are filled wiih acreanieatiug, leminadö-drinking assemblage, white bands jf rausie fill the air wub harruony. But it is during the evening that each oue ïives hnuself over to a general abandon. The cafes are filled with ladies and gentlemen, crowds throng the lhe;itics, the streets are all alive with fashion, concerts in the open air abouucl, and all sorts of amusemen's prevail. Plea-ure to the Italian is like the half of his exijteuce. He foeds upon it, worships it. Take it from him and you niake hun miserable Aud vet he is miserable with it. For it is of that sensual kind whioh neither strengt hens the iatelleot, nor rests the body, nor oaims the soul, but rathor fatigues the ono, cofeebles the otfeer, uud destroys the lust. Let n mau seck ploas ure il he will, but let hira bewaro of' what sort it K For thora are pleasurcs that are swect as honey to tlio tnngue at first, but bittrfiness und despair at last ! Let us jump from Milán to Como aud turn oui'selves amid the beauties of Italia's lakue. Como ia not Leman. - Her mountains are not the Alps, " the giant Alps," but theie is about her a soft grandeur that charms the eye. Groves and gardens adorn her shores, and here and there, peering out from rich vegetation, is the villa of some Italian prince or foreign seigneur, wbom Como b;is attraeted to her side. Tranquil retreat, whither one can fiee from tho gaieties and corruptions of the world, and commune with nature and Nature's God ! From Como to Lugano- -a little gcm - and then over the placid waters of Maggiore, beautiful as a picture. Isnla Bella, looking in the distance like a fairy Eden with its white paldces and tropical gardens, is visited, and then we turn our fiioes towards the ííorth, where the dark rugged Alps are waiting toreceive us. And now as I say good bye to Italv. what shall be my purting word ? She Reems to me to be rising from her lethar. gio sleep. The long dark night whioh hus brooded over her, beging to see the dawn. Uuity is making her strong, education is diïving awiiy her superstition, a firra govcrnment is giving her a national char..cter. Protestantisra ia spi'eading, boggary is disappearing, oonvenís aro being abolished. Will not "the tbrone and grave of empires" be the eradle of a great nation ! Will not another golden age niako her Üterary firniauient as bright in the future as in the past ? Will not olher Ciceioaaud Virgils and Raphaels and Galileos make Italy once more the glory of the world ? Thü fu'.ure shall reply. F. W. B. The North American Rrview argües that piofnnity iiidioutts a chrouie wuuk ües-i of intellect and a poor ediuuition, for it reqnires no genius to swoar, vvliile it doe require soine luarnincr aid ta'ont to converse in genteol l;inL?uage. Let the profane niake a note of tliis. Man ia partly a creatnre and partly the creator of uirciunstances. The Piirisians complnin that. tbe American ladies don't buy as mucb as tbey formerly did.


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