A Trip to Ischia

THE island of Ischia, rising like a loftier Salamis at the northern entrance of the Bay of Naples, is so unlike its opposite sentinel, Capri, that the landscape - painter, to whom the peculiarities of mountain forms are as familiar as to the geologist, would pronounce as readily on the diversity of its origin. The latter might say : “This island is Plutonic, that Neptunic” ; and the former: “Here are long, finely broken outlines, and sharp, serrated summits ; yonder, broad masses and sudden, bold escarpments ” ; but both would express the same fact in different dialects. The two islands are equidistant from the main-land; they occupy the same relative position to the bay and to the central Vesuvian peak; they are equally noble landmarks to the mariners coming from the Tyrrhene or the Ionian Sea. Here the resemblance ends. Capri is the resort of artists, Ischia of invalids. Tiberius and the Blue Grotto belong to the litany of travel; but Ischia —larger, richer, more accessible than Capri — has no such special attractions to commend it. It must be sought for its own sake.

The little steamer upon which I embarked at Naples was called the Tifeo, from Typhœus, the Titan who lies buried under Epomeo, like Enceladus under Etna. The decks were crowded ; but every face was Italian, and every tongue uttered the broad, barbaric dialect of Southern Italy. Priests, peasant-women, small traders, sailors, and fishermen were mingled in a motley mass, setting their faces together in earnest gossip, and turning their backs upon sea, shore, and sky. As we passed Castell' dell’ Ovo, the signs of the recent terrible land-slide on the rock of Pizzofalcone drew their attention for a minute ; and I, too, looked with a shudder at the masses of rock under which I had lived, unsuspectingly, until within three days of the catastrophe. The house wherein we had chosen quarters was crushed to atoms ; and, although nearly a month had elapsed, the great pile of ruin was not yet cleared away.

Onward, over the bright blue sea, — past the shores of Posilipo, the marine villa of Lucullus, and the terraced steep, yonder, where the poet Silius Italicus kept sacred the tomb of his master, Virgil,—past the burnt-out crater of Nisida, and the high white houses of Pozzuoli, until the bay of Baiæ opens to the right, and we fetch a compass for the ancient Cape Misenum, How these names stir the blood! Yet my fellow-voyagers never lifted their eyes to the shores ; and if they mentioned the names, it was, perhaps, to say, “ I bought some pigs at Baiæ the other day,” or, "What is land worth about Lake Avernus ? or, “ Do you raise pumpkins at Cumæ?”

Between Cape Misenum and the island of Procida there is a strait two or three miles in width. The town of Procida rests on the water like a long white wedge, the but ot which bears up the immense old fortress. Approaching from Naples, the whole island lies before the loftier Ischia like Imbros before Samothrace, and seems to belong to it, as ancient geographers declare that it once did. The town is like a seaport of the Grecian Archipelago, and, as seen from the water, one could not wish it cleaner or less irregular. Fronting the sea, it presents a crescent of tall white houses, broken with arched balconies, and deep, scattered windows, and stained with patches of gray and moss-green. Over the domed roofs rises here and there a palm. The castle to the left, on its rock, rejoices in its ancient strength, and seems to command the Bay of Gæta as well as that of Naples.

I tried to recall something of the history of Procida, and struck in the middle of the thirteenth century on the famous Giovanni, —-“John of Procida,” — before and after whom, there was a blank. The island once belonged to him in toto, and must have been a goodly possession. I believe he lost it for a time, on account of the part which he took in the Sicilian Vespers. Meanwhile the steamer came to a stop in the little port, and boats crowded about the gangways. I determined to go the length of the island towards Ischia by land, and so scrambled down with the rest. An old Italian pointed to a house which was being repaired, and said to his neighbor, “Now what they are going to do to that house is beyond my intellect to guess.” The masons were raising it another story, I thought; but the man said, “It can't be a loggia, it has an upper story already ; and let anybody tell me if he knows, for my intellect just stands still when I look at it.” The boatmen grinned, and said nothing.

I landed on a narrow quay, so filthy and malodorous that I made haste to accept the guidance of the first boy who offered his services. He led me into a street just as bad ; but, as we mounted towards the castle, the aspect of the town improved. This is the only place in Italy where the holiday costume is Greek, and one might therefore expect to find faces of the Hellenic type ; yet such are fewer than on Capri. The costume disappears more and more, and only on grand festas do the women appear in bodices embroidered with gold, and gowns edged with the ancient labyrinth pattern. They have splendid eyes, like all the islanders ; but I saw no beauties in my rapid march across Procida.

After the view from the castle, there is really nothing of interest in the little town. The island is iow and nearly level, so that the high walls which enclose the road shut out all view of its vineyards and gardens. The eastern shore, near which my path led, is formed by three neighboring craters, the rims of which are broken down on the seaside, and boats anchor on the lava of the bottoms. The road was almost a continuous street, the suburb of Procida running into that of the large village of L' Olmo. A crowd of wayfarers went to and fro, and in all the open arches women sat spinning in the sun. There were no beggars ; one of the women, indeed, called across the road to another, as I passed, “Ask him for a bajocco ! ” but the latter laughed, and turned her head aside. Although so little of the island was to be seen, there was no end to the pictures made by the windings of the road, the walls draped with fern and ivy, the deep arches of shade with bright, sunlit court-yards behind them, and the quaint terraces overhung with vines.

A walk of two miles brought me to the western shore, where the road descended to the fishing hamlet of Chiaiolella. The place seemed to be deserted ; I walked between the silent old houses, and had nearly reached the beach, when a brown old mariner glided out from the shadow of a buttress, and followed me. Some boats lay on the sand in the little land-locked craterbay; and presently three other men, who had been sleeping somewhere in the corners, came forward, scenting a fee. Of course they asked too much ; but, to my surprise, they gradually abated the demand, although there was no competition. The old man said, very frankly, “ If you give us a franc apiece, we shall only make ten sous, and we should like to earn a little more.” We thereupon soon came to terms ; two of them carried me into the boat, and we set off for Ischia.

Just beyond the last point of Procida rises the rocky island of Vivara, which is nothing but a fragment left from the ruin of a volcanic crater. Its one slanting side is covered with olive-trees, and a single house stands on the summit. The landing-place is a rocky shelf a yard or so in width, only accessible when the sea is quite smooth. The island belongs to Signor Scotti, of Procida, so the boatmen told me, but he is too shrewd to live upon it. As we floated past it into the open strait, the Bay of Gæta opened grandly on the right, stretching away to the far Cape of Circe, beyond Terracina. In front Ischia, grand in its nearness, possessed the sea. One is here still in Odyssean waters. Here Homer once sailed, so sure as there ever was a Homer, and heard Typhœus groaning under Inarime. What Kinglake so finely says of the Troad is here equally true. The theories of scholars go to the winds ; one learns to believe in Homer, no less than in Moses.

The picture of Ischia, from the sea, is superb. In front towers the castle, on a thrice bolder and broader wedge of rock than that of Procida ; withdrawn behind it, as if for protection, the white crescent of the town sweeps along the water; garden-groves rise in the rear, then great, climbing slopes of vine, and, high over all, Monte Epomeo converges the broken outlines of the island, and binds them together in his knotted peak. The main features are grandly broad and simple, yet there is an exquisite grace and harmony in the minor forms of the landscape. As we ran under the shadows of the castlerock, whereon the Marquis Pescara was born, my thoughts were involuntarily directed to two women, — his sister, the heroic Costanza, whose defence of the castle gave the governorship of Ischia to her family for two hundred and fifty years ; and his wife, Vittoria Colonna. Her, however, we remember less as the Marchesa Pescara than as the friend of Michel Angelo, in whose arms she died. Theirs was the only friendship between man and woman, which the breath of that corrupt age did not dare to stain, — noble on both sides, and based on the taste and energy and intellect of both. Vittoria, of whom Ariosto says,—

“ Vittoria e ‘l nome ; e ben conviensi a uata
Fra le vittorie,”

retired to this castle of Ischia to mourn her husband’s death. Strange that her sorrow excites in us so little sympathy ; while, at this distance of time, the picture of Michel Angelo after her death gives us a pang. Moral,— it is better to be the friend of a great artist than the wife of a great general.

The landing at Ischia is as attractive as that at Procida is repulsive. The town comes down to the bright, sunny quay in a broad, clean street ; the houses are massive, and suggestive of comfort, and there are glimpses of the richest gardens among them. “You must go to the locanda nobile,” said the sailors ; and to make sure they went with me. It is, in fact, the only tolerable inn in the place ; yet my first impression was not encouraging. The locanda consisted of a large hall, filled with mattresses, a single bare bedroom, and the landlord’s private quarters. The only person I saw was a one-eyed youth, who came every five minutes, while I sat watching the splendid sunset illumination of the castle and sea, to ask, “ Shall I make your soup with rice or macaroni ? ” “ Will you have your fish fried or in umido? " Notwithstanding all this attention, it was a most meagre dinner which he finally served; and I longed for the flesh-pots of Capri. In spite of Murray, artists are not stoics, and where they go the fare is wont to be good. The English guide says, very complacently : “ Such or such an hotel is third-rate, patronised by artists ! ” or, “ The accommodations are poor ; but artists may find themsufficient— as if “ artists ” had no finer habits of palate or nerves ! When I contrasted Pagano’s table in Capri with that of the nobile locanda of Ischia, I regretted that artists had not been staying at the latter.

In walking through the two cold and barren rooms of the hotel I had caught a glimpse, through an open door, of a man lying in bed, and an old Francisan friar, in a brown gaberdine, hanging over him. Now, when my Lenten dinner (although it was Carnival) was finished, the padrona came to me, and said : “ Won’t you walk in and see Don Michele ? He’s in bed, sick, but he can talk, and it will pass away the time for him.”

“ But the Frate — ” here I hesitated, thinking of extreme unction. “O, never mind the Frate,” said the padrona ; “ Don Michele knows you are here, and he wants to have a talk with you.”

The invalid landlord was a man of fifty, who lay in bed, groaning with a fearful lumbago, as he informed me. At the foot of the bed sat the old friar, gray-headed, with a snuffy upper lip, and an expression of amiable imbecility on his countenance. The one-eyed servant was the landlord’s son; and there were two little daughters, one of whom, Filomena, carried the other, Maria Teresa. There was also a son, a sailor, absent in Egypt. “ Four left out of twelve,” said Don Michele ; “ but you notice there will soon be thirteen ; so I shall have five, if the Lord wills it.”

“ And so you are from America,” he continued; “my son was there, but, whether in North or South, I don’t know. They say there is cholera in Africa, and I hope the saints will protect him from it. Here on Ischia — as perhaps you don’t know—we never bad the cholera ; we have a saint who keeps it away from the island. It was San Giuseppe della Croce, and nobody can tell how many miracles he has wrought for us. He left a miraculous plant,—it’s inside the castle, — and there it grows to this day, with wonderful powers of healing ; but no one dares to touch it. If you were to so much as break a leaf, all Ischia would rise in revolution.”

“ What a benefit for the island ! ” I remarked.

“Ah, you may well say that!” exclaimed Don Michele. “Here everything is good, — the fish, the wine, the people. There are no robbers among us, — no, indeed ! You may go where you like, and without fear, as the Frate will tell you. This is my brother” (pointing to the friar). “ I am affiliated with the Franciscans, and so he comes to keep me company.”

The friar nodded, took a pinch of snuff, and smiled in the vague, silly way of a man who don’t know what to say. “ I have met many of your brethren in the Holy Land,” I said, to the latter.

“ Gran Dio ! you have been there ? ” both exclaimed.

I must need tell them of Jerusalem and Jericho, of Nazareth and Tiberias ; but Don Michele soon came back to America. “ You are one of the nobility, I suppose ? ” he said.

“What!” I answered, affecting a slight indignation; “don’t you know that we have no nobility ? All are equal before the law, and the poorest man may become the highest ruler, if he has the right degree of intelligence.” (I was about to add, and honesty, — but checked myself in time.)

“ Do you hear that ? ” cried Don Michele to the friar. “ I call that a fine thing.”

“ Che bella cosa ! ” repeated the friar, as he took a fresh pinch of snuff.

“What good is your nobility?” I continued. “ They monopolize the offices, they are poor and proud, and they won’t work. The men who do the most for Italy are not nobles.”

“True! true! listen to that!” said Don Michele. “ And so, in America, all have an equal chance?”

“ If you were living there,” I answered, “ your son, if he had talents, might become the Governor of a State, or a minister to a foreign court. Could he be that here, whatever might be his intellect ? ”

“ Gran Dio ! Che bella cosa ! ” said the friar.

“ It is the balance of Astræa! ” cried Don Michele, forgetting his lumbago, and sitting up in bed. I was rather astonished at this classical allusion ; but it satisfied me that I was not improvidently wasting my eloquence ; so I went on : —

“ What is a title ? Is a man any the more a man for having it ? He may be a duke and a thief, and, if so, I put him far below an honest fisherman. Are there titles in heaven ? ” Here I turned to the friar.

“ Behold ! A noble, — a beautiful word ! ” cried the Don again. The friar lifted his hands to heaven, shook his head in a melancholy way, and took another pinch of snuff.

We were in a fair way to establish the universal fraternal republic, when a knock at the door interrupted us. It was Don Michele’s sister, accompanied by an old man, and a young one, with a handsome, but taciturn face.

“Ah, here is my figliuccio ! ” said Don Michele, beckoning forward the latter. “ He will furnish a donkey, and guide you all over Ischia, — up to the top of Epomeo, to Fori’, and Casamich’.”

Now, I had particularly requested a young and jovial fellow, — not one of your silent guides, who always hurry you forward when you want to pause, and seem to consider you as a bad job, to be gotten rid of as soon as possible. Giovanni’s was not the face I desired, but Don Michele insisted stoutly that he was the very man for me ; and so the arrangement was concluded.

I went to bed, feeling more like a guest of the family than a stranger; and, before sleeping, determined that I would make an experiment. The rule in Italy Is, that the man who does not bargain in advance is inevitably cheated ; here, however, it seemed that I had stumbled on an unsophisticated region. I would make no bargains, ask no mistrustful questions, and test the natural honesty of the people.

Mounted on the ass, and accompanied by Giovanni, I left the locanda nobile the next morning, to make the tour of the island. “Be sure and show him everything and tell him everything ! ” cried Don Michele, from his bed; whereat Giovanni, with a short “ Yes ! ” which promised nothing to my ear, led the way out of the town.

We ascended the low hill on which the town is built, under high garden walls, overhung by the most luxuriant foliage of orange and olive. There were fine cypresses, — a tree rare in Southern Italy, — and occasional palms. We very soon emerged into the country, where Epomco towered darkly above us, in the shadow of clouds which the sirocco had blown from the sea. The road was not blinded by walls, as on Procida, but open and broad, winding forward between vineyards of astonishing growth. Here the threefold crops raised on the same soil, about Naples and Sorrento, would be impossible. In that rich volcanic earth wheat is only the parterre, or ground-floor of cultivation. The thin shade of the olive, or the young leaves of vine, do not intercept sun enough to hinder its proper maturity; and thus oil or wine (or sometimes both) becomes a higher crop, a bel á tage; while the umbrella-pines, towering far above all, constitute an upper story for the production of lumber and firewood. Ischia has the same soil, but the vine, on account of the superior quality of its juice, is suffered to monopolize it. Stems of the thickness of a man’s leg are trained back and forth on poles thirty feet high. The usual evergreen growths of this region, which make a mimicry of summer, have no place here ; far and wide, high and low, the landscape is gray with vines and poles. I can only guess what a Bacchic labyrinth it must be in the season of vintage.

The few trees allowed to stand were generally fig or walnut. There are no orange-groves, as about Sorrento, for the reason that the wine of Ischia, being specially imported to mix with and give fire and temper to other Italian wines, is a very profitable production. The little island has a population of about thirty thousand, very few of whom are poor, like the inhabitants of Capri. During my trip I encountered but a single beggar, who was an old woman on crutches. Yet, although the fields were gray, the banks beside the road were bright with young grass, and gay with violets, anemones, and the golden blossoms of the broom.

On our left lay the long slopes of Monte Campagnano, which presents a rocky front to the sea. Between this mountain and Epomeo the road traversed a circular valley, nearly a mile in diameter, as superbly rich as any of the favored gardens of Syria. The aqueduct which brings water from the mountains to the town of Ischia crosses it on lofty stone arches. Beyond this valley, the path entered a singular winding ravine, thirty or forty feet in depth, and barely wide enough for two asses to pass each other. Its walls of rock were completely hidden in mosses and ferns, and old oak-trees, with ivied trunks, threw their arms across it. The country people, in scarlet caps and velvet jackets, on their way to enjoy the festa (the Carnival) at the villages, greeted me with a friendly “buon dì !” I was constantly reminded of those exquisitely picturesque passes of Arcadia, which seem still to be the haunts of Pan and the Nymphs.

Bishop Berkeley, whose happiest summer (not even excepting that he passed at Newport) was spent on Ischia, must have frequently travelled that path ; and, without having seen more of the island, I was quite willing to accept his eulogies of its scenery. I had some difficulty, however, in adjusting to the reality Jean Paul’s imaginarydescription, which it is conventional to praise, in Germany. The mere enumeration of orange-trees, olives, rocks, chestnut woods, vines, and blue sea, blended into a glimmering whole, with no distinct outlines, does not constitute description of scenery. An author ventures upon dangerous ground, when he attempts to paint landscapes which he has never seen. Jean Paul had the clairvoyant faculty of the poet, and was sometimes able to “ make out ” (to use Charlotte Brontë’s expression) Italian atmospheres and a tolerable dream of scenery; but he would have described Ischia very differently if he had ever visited the island.

Winding on and upward through the ravine, I emerged at last on the sunny hillside, whence there was a view of the sea beyond Monte Campagnano. A little farther, we reached the village of Barano, on the southeastern slope of Epomeo, — a deep gray gorge below it, and another village beyond, sparkling in the sun. The people were congregated on the little piazza, enjoying the day in the completest idleness. The place was a picture in itself, and I should have stopped to sketch it, but Giovanni pointed to the clouds which were hovering over Epomeo, and predicted rain. So I pushed on to Moropano, the next village, the southern side of the island opening more clearly and broadly to view. A succession of vineterraces mounted from the sea to a height of two thousand feet, ceasing only under the topmost crags. At intervals, however, the slopes were divided by tremendous fissures, worn hundreds of feet deep through the ashen soil and volcanic rock. Wherever a little platform of shelving soil had been left on the sides of the sheer walls, it was covered with a growth of oaks.

The road obliged me to cross the broadest of these chasms, and, after my donkey had once fallen on the steep path notched along the rock, I judged it safest to climb the opposite side on foot. A short distance farther we came to another fissure, as deep but much narrower, and resembling the cracks produced by an earthquake. The rocky walls were excavated into wine-cellars, the size of which, and of the tuns within, gave good token of the Ischian vintages. Out of the last crevice we climbed to the village of Fontana, the highest on the island. A review of the National Guards was held in a narrow open space before the church. There were perhaps forty men — fishermen and vine-growers — under arms, all with military caps, although only half a dozen had full uniforms. The officers fell back to make room for me, and I passed the company slowly in review, as I rode by on the donkey. The eyes were “ right,” as I commenced, but they moved around to left, curiously following me, while the heads remained straight. Gallant-looking fellows they were, nevertheless; and moreover, it was pleasant to see a militia system substituted for the former wholesale conscription.

At the end of the piazza, a dry laurelbush, hanging over the door, denoted a wine-shop ; and Giovanni and I emptied a bottle of the Fontana vintage before going farther. I ordered a dinner to be ready on our return from Epomeo, and we then set out for the hermitage of San Nicola, on the very summit. In a ravine behind the village we met a man carrying almost a stack of straw on his head, his body so concealed by it that the mass seemed to be walking upon its own feet. It stopped on approaching us, and an unintelligible voice issued from it; but Giovanni understood the sounds.

“The hermit of San Nicola is sick,” he said ; "this is his brother.”

“ Then the hermit is alone on the mountain ? ” I asked.

“ No, he is now in Fontana. When he gets sick, he comes down, and his brother goes up in his place, to keep the lamp a-burning.”

We were obliged to skirt another fissure for some distance, and then took to the open side of the mountain, climbing between fields where the diminishing vines struggled to drive back the mountain gorse and heather. In half an hour the summit was gained, and I found myself in front of a singular, sulphur-colored peak, out of which a chapel and various chambers had been hewn. A man appeared, breathless with climbing after us, and proved to be the moving principle of the strawstack. He unlocked a door in the peak, and allowed the donkey to enter ; then, conducting me by a passage cut in the living rock, he led the way through, out of the opposite side, and by a flight of rude steps, around giddy corners, to a platform about six feet square, on the very topmost pinnacle of the island, 2,700 feet above the sea.

Epomeo was an active volcano until just before Vesuvius awakened, in A. D. 79; and as late as the year 1302 there was an eruption on Ischia, at the northern base of the mountain. But the summit now scarcely retains the crater form. The ancient sides are broken in, leaving four or five jagged peaks standing apart; and these, from the platform on which I stood, formed a dark, blasted foreground, shaped like a star with irregular rays, between which I looked down and off on the island, the sea, and the Italian shores. The clouds, whose presence I had lamented during the ascent, now proved to be marvellous accessories. Swooping so low that their skirts touched me, they covered the whole vault of heaven, down to the sea horizon, with an impenetrable veil ; yet, beyond their sphere, the sunshine poured full upon the water, which became a luminous undersky, sending the reflected light upward on the island landscape. In all my experience, I have never beheld such a phenomenon. Looking southward, it was scarcely possible not to mistake the sea for the sky ; and this illusion gave the mountain an immeasurable, an incredible, height. All the base of the island — the green shores and shining towns visible in deep arcs between the sulphury rocks of the crater — basked in dazzling sunshine; and the gleam was so intense and golden under the vast, dark roof of cloud, that I know not how to describe it. From the Cape of Circe to that of Palinarus, 200 miles of the main-land of Italy were full in view. Vesuvius may sweep a wider horizon, but the view from Epomeo, in its wondrous originality, is far more impressive.

When I descended from the dizzy pinnacle, I found Giovanni and the hermit’s brother drying their shirts before a fire of brush. The latter, after receiving a fee for his services, begged for an additional fee for St. Nicholas. “ What does St. Nicholas want with it ? ” I asked. “ You will buy food and drink, I suppose, but the saint needs nothing.” Giovanni turned away his head, and I saw that he was laughing.

“ O, I can burn a lamp for the saint,” was the answer.

Now, as St. Nicholas is the patron of children, sailors, and travellers, I might well have lit a lamp in his honor ; but as I could not stay to see the oil purchased and the lamp lighted, with my own eyes, I did not consider that there was sufficient security in the hermit’s brother for such an investment. When I descended to Fontana the review was over, and several of the National Guards were refreshing themselves in the wine-shop. The blackbearded host, who looked like an affectionate bandit, announced that he had cooked a pig’s liver for us, and straightway prepared a table in the shop beside the counter. There was but one plate, but Giovanni, who kept me company, ate directly from the dish. I have almost a Hebrew horror of fresh pork ; but since that day I confess that a pig’s liver, roasted on skewers, and flavored with the smoke of burning myrtle, is not a dish to be despised. Eggs and the good Ischian wine completed the repast; and had I not been foolish enough to look at the host as he wiped out the glasses with his unwashed fingers, I should have enjoyed it the more.

The other guests were very Jolly, but I could comprehend little of their jargon when they spoke to each other. The dialect of Ischia is not only different from that of Capri, but varies on different sides of the island. Many words are identical with those used on Sardinia and Majorca ; they have a clear, strong ring, which — barbaric as it may be—I sometimes prefer to the pure Italian. For instance, freddo (with a tender lingering on the double d) suggests to me a bracing, refreshing coolness, while in the Ischian frett one feels the sharp sting of frost. Filicaja’s pathetic address to Italy,

“Deh fossi tu men bulla, o almen piu forte ! ”

might also be applied to the language. The elision of the terminal vowels, which is almost universal in this part of Italy, roughens the language, certainly, but gives it a more masculine sound.

When the people spoke to me, they were more careful in the choice of words, and so made themselves intelligible, They were eager to talk and ask questions, and after one of them had broken the ice by pouring a bottle of wine into a glass, while he drank from the latter as fast as he poured, the Captain of the Guard, with many apologies for the liberty, begged to know where I came from.

“ Now tell me, if you please,” lve continued, “whether your country is Catholic or Protestant ? ”

“ Neither,” said I ; “it is better than being either.”

The people pricked up their ears, and stared. “ How do you mean ? ” some one presently asked.

“ Ail religions are free. Catholics and Protestants have equal rights ; and that is best of all, — is it not ? ”

There was a unanimous response. “ To be sure that is best of all! ” they cried ; “ avete ragione.”

“ But,” said the Captain, after a while, “what religion is your government ? ”

“ None at all,” I answered.

“ I don't understand,” said he; “surely it is a Christian government.”

It was easy to explain my meaning, and I noticed that the village magistrate, who had entered the shop, listened intently. He was cautiously quiet, but I saw that the idea of a separation of Church and State was not distasteful to the people. From religion we turned to politics, and I gave them a rough sketch of our republican system. Moreover, as a professed friend of Italian nationality, I endeavored to sound them in regard to their views of the present crisis. Tins was more delicate ground ; yet two or three spoke their minds with tolerable plainness, and with more judgment and moderation than I expected to find. On two points all seemed to be agreed, — that the people must be educated, and must have patience.

In the midst of the discussion a mendicant friar appeared, barefooted, and with a wallet on his shoulder. He was a man of thirty, of tall and stately figure, and with a singularly noble and refined countenance. He did not beg, but a few bajocchi were handed to him, and the landlord placed a loaf of bread on the counter. As he was passing me, without asking alms, I gave him some money, which he took with a slight bow and the words, “ Providence will requite you.” Though so coarsely dressed, he was not one of those friars who seem to think filth necessary to their holy character. I have rarely seen a man whose features and bearing harmonized so ill with his vocation. He looked like a born teacher and leader; yet he was a useless beggar.

The rain, which had come up during dinner, now cleared away, and I resumed my journey. Giovanni, who had made one or two desperate efforts at jollity during the ascent of the mountain, was remarkably silent after the conversation in the inn, and I had no good of him thenceforth. A mistrustful Italian is like a tortoise ; he shuts tip his shell, and crow-bars can't open him. I have not the least doubt that Giovanni believed, in his dull way, in the temporal power of the Pope and the restoration of the Bourbons.

There were no more of the great volcanic fissures to be crossed. The road, made slippery by the rain, descended so rapidly that I was forced to walk during the remainder of the day’s journey. It was a country of vines, less picturesque than I had already passed ; but the sea and southwestern shore of the island were constantly in view. I first reached the little village of Serrara, on a projecting spur of Epomeo ; then, after many steep and rugged descents, came upon the rich garden-plain of Panza. Here the surface of the island is nearly level, the vegetation is wonderfully luxuriant, and the large gray farm-houses have a stately and commanding air. In another hour, skirting the western base of Epomeo, the towers of Foria, my destination for the night, came into view. There were some signs of the Carnival in the lively streets, — here and there a mask, followed by shouting and delighted children ; but the greater part of the inhabitants contented themselves with sitting on the doorsteps and exchanging jokes with their neighbors.

The guide-book says there is no inn in Foria. Don Michele, however, assured me that Signor Scotti kept a locanda for travellers, and I can testify that the Don is right. I presume it is “ noble,” also, for the accommodations were like those in Ischia. On entering, I was received by a woman, who threw back her shoulders and lifted her head in such an independent way that I asked, “ Are you the padrona ? ”

“ No,” she answered, laughing; “ I’m the modestica ; but that will do just as well.” {She meant domestica, but I like her rendering of the word so well that I shall retain it.)

“ Can you get me something for dinner ? ”

“ Let us see,” said she, counting upon her fingers : “fish, that’s one ; kid, that’s two; potatoes, that’s three ; and — and — surely there’s something else.”

“ That will do,” said I ; “ and eggs ?”

Sicuro ! Eggs ? I should think so. And so that will suit your Excellency ! ”

Thereupon the modestica drew back her shoulders, threw out her chest, and, in a voice that half Foria might have heard, sang I know not what song of triumph as she descended to the kitchen. Signor Scotti, for whom a messenger had been sent, now arrived. He had but one eye, and I began to imagine that I was on the track of the Arabian Prince. After a few polite commonplaces, I noticed that he was growing uneasy, and said, “ Pray, let me not keep you from the Carnival.”

“ Thanks to your Excellency,” said he, rising ; “ my profession calls me, and with your leave I will withdraw.” I supposed that he might be a city magistrate, but on questioning the modestica, when she came to announce dinner, I found that he was a barber.

I was conducted into a bedroom, in the floor of which the modestica opened a trap-door, and bade me descend a precipitous flight of steps into the kitchen. There the table was set, and I received my eggs and fish directly from the fire. The dessert was peculiar, consisting of raw stalks of anise, cut off at the root, very tough, and with a sick]y sweet flavor. Seeing that I rejected them, the modestica exclaimed, in a strident voice, —

“Eh ? What would you have ? They are beautiful, — they are superb ! The gentry eat them,—nay, what do I know? — the King himself, and the Pope! Behold ! ” And with these words she snatched a stalk from the plate, and crunched it between two rows of teeth which it was a satisfaction to see.

Half an hour afterwards, as I was in the bedroom which had been given to my use, a horribly rough voice at my back exclaimed, “ What do you want ? ”

I turned, and beheld an old woman as broad as she was short, — a woman with fierce eves and a gray mustache on her upper lip.

“ What do you want ? ” I rejoined.

She measured me from head to foot, gave a grunt, and said, “I’m the padrona here”

I was a little surprised at this intrusion, and considerably more so, half an hour afterwards, as I sat smoking in the common room, at the visit of a gendarme, who demanded my passport. After explaining to him that the document had never before been required in free Italy, — that the law did not even oblige me to carry it with me, — I handed it to him.

He turned it up and down, and from side to side, with a puzzled air. “ I can’t read it,”he said, at last.

“Of course you can’t,” I replied; “ but there is no better passport in the world, and the Governor of Naples will tell you the same thing. Now,” I added, turning to the padrona, “ if you have sent for this officer through any suspicion of me, I will pay for my dinner and go on to Casamicciola, where they know how to receive travellers.”

The old woman lifted up her hands, and called on the saints to witness that she did not mistrust me. The gendarme apologized for his intrusion, adding : “ We are out of the way, here, and therefore I am commanded to do this duty. I cannot read your passport, but I can see that you are a galantuomo.” This compliment obliged me to give him a cigar, after which I felt justified in taking a little revenge. “ I am a republican,” I cried, “ and a friend of the Italian Republicans ! I don’t believe in the temporal power of the Pope ! I esteem Garibaldi ! ”

“Who doesn’t esteem him?” said the old woman, but with an expression as if she did n’t mean it. The gendarme twisted uneasily on his seat, but he had lighted my cigar, and did not feel free to leave.

I shall not here repeat my oration, which spared neither the Pope, nor Napoleon the Third, nor even Victor Emanuel, I was as fierce and reckless as Mazzini, and exhausted my stock of Italian in advocating freedom, education, the overthrow of priestly rule, and the abolition of the nobility. When I stopped to take breath, the gendarme made his escape, and the padrona’s subdued manner showed that she began to be afraid of me.

In the evening there was quite an assemblage in the room, — two Neapolitan engineers, a spruce young Forian, a widow with an unintelligible story of grievances, and the never-failing modcstica, who took her seat on the sofa, and made her tongue heard whenever there was a pause. I grew so tired with striving to unravel their dialect, that I fell asleep in my chair, and nearly tumbled into the brazier of coals ; but the chatter went on for hours after I was in bed.

In the heavenly morning that followed I walked about the town, which is a shipping port for wine. The quay was piled with tuns, purple-stained. The situation of the place, at the foot of Epomeo, with all the broad Tyrrhene sea to the westward, is very beautiful, and, as usual, a Franciscan monastery has usurped the finest position. No gardens can be richer than those in the rear, mingling with the vineyards that rise high on the mountain slopes.

After the modestica had given me half a tumbler of coffee and a crust of bread for my breakfast, I mounted the donkey, and set out for Casamicciola. The road skirts the sea or a short distance, and then enters a wild dell, where I saw dumps of ilex for the first time on the island. After a mile of rugged, but very beautiful, scenery, the dell opened on the northern shore of Ischia, and I saw the bright town and sunny beach of Lacco below me. There was a sudden and surprising change in the character of the landscape. Dark, graceful carob-trees overhung the road ; the near gardens were filled with almonds in light green leaf, and orangetrees covered with milky buds ; but over them, afar and aloft, from the edge of the glittering sapphire to the sulphurcrags of the crowning peak, swept a broad, grand amphitheatre of villas, orchards, and vineyards. Gayly colored palaces sat on all the projecting spurs of Epomeo, rising above their piles of garden terraces ; and, as I rode along the beach, the palms and cypresses in the gardens above me were exquisitely pencilled on the sky. Here everything spoke of old cultivation, of wealth and luxurious days.

In the main street of Lacco I met the gendarme of Foria, who took off his cocked hat with an air of respect, which, however, produced no effect on my donkey-man, Giovanni. We mounted silently to Casamicciola, which, as a noted watering-place, boasts of hotels with Neapolitan prices, if not comforts. I felt the need of one, and selected the Sentinella Grande on account of its lordly position. It was void of guests, and I was obliged to wait two hours for a moderate breakfast. The splendor of the day, the perfect beauty of the Ischian landscapes, and the soft humming of bees around the wall-flower blossoms, restored my lost power to enjoy the dolcc far nicntc, and I had forgotten all about my breakfast when it was announced.

From Casamicciola it is little more than an hour’s ride to Ischia, and my tour of the island lacked but that much ot completion. The season had not commenced, and the marvellous healing fountains and baths were deserted ; yet the array of stately villas, the luxury of the gardens, and the broad, wellmade roads, attested the popularity of the watering-place. Such scenery as surrounds it is not surpassed by any on the Lay of Naples. I looked longingly up at the sunny mountain-slopes and shadowed glens, as I rode away. What I had seen was but the promise, the hint, of a thousand charms which I had left unvisited.

On the way to Ischia I passed the harbor, which is a deep little crater connected with the sea by an artificial channel. Beside it lies the Casino Reale, with a magnificent park, uninhabited since the Bourbons left. Beyond it I crossed the lava-fields of 1302, which are still unsubdued. Here and there a house has been built, some pines have been planted, clumps of broom have taken root, and there are a few rough, almost hopeless, beginnings of fields. Having passed this dreary tract, the castle of Ischia suddenly rose in front, and the bright town received me. I parted from the taciturn Giovanni without tears, and was most cordially welcomed by Don Michele, his wife, the one-eyed son and the Franciscan friar. The Don’s lumbago was not much better, and the friar’s upper lip, it seemed to me, was more snuffy than ever.

In the evening I heard what appeared to be a furious altercation. I recognized Don Michele’s voice, threatening vengeance, at its highest pitch, while another voice, equally excited, and the screams of women, gave additional breath to the tempest. But when I asked my one-eyed servitor, “ What in Heaven’s name has happened ? " he mildly answered, “ O, it’s only the uncle discoursing with papa!”

I arose at dawn, the next day, to take the steamer for Naples. The flaming jets of Vesuvius, even against the glowing morning sky, were visible from my window, twenty-five miles distant. I was preparing to bid farewell to Ischia with a feeling of profound satisfaction. My experiment had succeeded remarkably well. I had made no bargains in advance, and had not been overcharged to the extent of more than five francs during the whole trip. But now came the one-eyed son, with a bill fifty per cent higher than at first, for the same accommodation. This, too, atter I had promised to send my friends to the locanda nobile, and he had written some very grotesque cards, which I was to disseminate.

Don Michele was calling me to say good by. I went to Ids chamber, and laid the grotesque cards upon the bed. "Here!” I exclaimed; “I have no use for these. I shall recommend no friends of mine to this hotel. You ask another price now for the same service.”

The Don’s countenance fell. “ But we kept the same room for you,” he feebly urged.

“Of course you kept it,” I said, “ because you have no other, and nobody came to take it! This is not the balance of Astræa ! You lament over the condition of Italy, — you say she has fallen behind the other nations of Europe, — and here is one of the causes ! So long as you, and the people of whom you are one, are dishonest, — so long as you take advantage of strangers, — just so long will you lack the order, the security, the moral force which every people possess who are ashamed to descend to such petty arts of cheating ! ”

“MaSignore!” pleaded Don Michele.

“ It is true ! ” I continued ; “ I, who am a friend of Italy, say it to you. You talk of corruption in high places, — begin your reforms at home I Learn to practise common honesty ; teach your children to do it ; respect yourselves sufficiently to be above such meanness, and others will respect you. What were my fine, my beautiful words worth to you? I thought I was sowing seed on good ground — ”

“ Signore, Signore, hear me ! ” cried the Don.

“ I have only one word more to say, and that is Addio ! and not a rivederci/ I am going, and I shall not come back again.”

Don Michele jumped up in bed, but I was already at the door. I threw it open, closed it behind me, and dashed down the stairs. A faint cry of “ Signore ! ” followed me.

In two minutes more I was on the pier, waiting for the steamer to come around the point from Casamicciola. The sweet morning air cooled my excitement, and disposed me to gentler thoughts. I fancied Don Michele in his bed, mortified and repentant, and almost regretted that I had not given him a last chance to right himself in my eyes. Moreover, reviewing the incidents of my trip, I was amused at the part which I had played in it. Without the least intent or premeditation, I had been a self-constituted missionary of religious freedom, education, and the Universal Republic. But does the reader suppose that I imagine any word thus uttered will take root, and bring forth fruit, — that any idea thus planted will propagate itself further?

No, indeed !