Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

had to pay, to be demanded of them. ly possible to penetrate.' All the viThe Christians immediately assem-zirs and doctors now became absorbbled their priests, to consult them, ed in profound meditation; but to no whether and in what manner they purpose did they mentally review all should pay this impost. Among this the explanations of the Koran, and asscmbly there was a prelate, a very all the traditions of Mahomet, they distinguished man, who thus spoke: could make nothing of the question.

Send me to the court of the sultan: All of them stood silent and ashamI have a proposal to make to him. Ied, till one of them, deeply mortified shall tell him that we are ready to to see so many wise and learned men pay the tribute,' as soon as he or his reduced to such a dilemma by an inrizits shall have answered a ques- fidel, boldly stepped forth, and thus tion which I will propound to them.' addressed the king: . It was scarcely This plan was unanimously approv- worth while to summon so many of ed: the prelate accordingly set out, us on account of such a trifle. Let with the tribute and various presents the monk propound his question to from the Christians to the sultan, in me, and I will immediately answer a large pouch.

him.' * Being introduced to the mon- “ Hereupon the prelate held the arch, he - delivered the presents palm of his hand, with the fingers transmitted from his province in the extended, 'towards the doctor, who most respectful manner, with these at the same time shook his clenched words: We are ready and willing fist at the Christian. The latter then to pay your highness the caradschi, turned his fingers towards the floor; if you, your vizirs, or learned men, and the doctor opened his hand and will answer a question which I shall turned the fingers upwards. The propound to you. But if none should ecclesiastic, perfectly satisfied with be able to answer it, you must not this gesture of the doctor's, immetake it amiss if I return home with diately drew forth the pouch with out paying the tribute '--' Be it so!' the tribute from under his garment, replied the sultan: I have at my delivered it to the sultan, and went eburt very wise and learned men; his way. The king, curious to learn thy question must indeed be a diffi- the meaning of this mute dialogue, cult one, if none of them should be questioned the doctor, who thus reable to resolve it.'

plied: 'Know, mighty sovereign, that Lasse The sultan summoned all his when the prelate turned his open rizirgi and doctors, and then asked hand towards me, he meant as much the prelate what was his question. | as to say, I will give thee a slap in The latter, extending the fingers of the face. I instantly shewed him my his right hand, held the palm of it clenched fist, to intimate, that if he towards the assembly, and then turn- did slap my face, I would fetch him ing the same fingers towards the floor, a thump in return. When he turnhe said, That is my question: guess ed his hand downward, this signified, what this signifies. For my part,' If thou strikest me with 'thy fist, I said the monarch, I shall not pre- will knock thee down and trample tend to answer it: for it is a mystery, upon thee like a worm. I then held the meaning of which it seems scarce. my fingers upward, giving him to understand, that if he attempted to to you by the Almighty God. Your treat me in that manner, I would doctor thereupon threatened me with throw him up so high into the air, his fist, as much as to say, bYes, that that he should be devoured by the they are, and this I am ready to birds before he could descend to the maintain against all the world. When ground again; and in this manner, by 1 afterwards directed my fingers tomeans of signs, the Christian and I wards the ground, I asked him, Why made ourselves perfectly intelligible doth the rain fall from heaven upon to one another.'

[graphic]
[graphic]

the earth? He very correctly repli;" As soon as the wise doctor had ed, by turning his fingers upward, finished his explanation, a murmur of that it rains in order that the gmss applause pervaded the assembly. and corn may shoot up, and that all The vizirs admired his penetration, the fruits of the earth may grow and and the doctors, though inwardly flourish. You know, O queen, that vexed that they had not been able such is the precise answer given in to comprehend the gestures of the the Koran to that question. After prelate, freely acknowledged that this explanation of his enigma, the their colleague surpassed them in sa- prelate departed, and the queen gacity and understanding. The sul- again burst into a loud laugh. The tan, highly delighted, was not con-king, who now perceived that she tent with bestowing mere praise, but did not laugh without occasion, progave the fortunate solver of the enig- tested that he would no longer give ma five hundred zechins out of the implicit credit to his wise men, op tribute of the Christians; and he suffer himself to be the dupe of their could not rest till he had. conimuni- pretended learning. s,'','' cated the whole affair to his favour- “ In like manner have you, O ite-sultana. On hearing it she burst princes," continued the philosopher, inte a loud laugh. I knew,' said he, still addressing the three song of that the story would highly divert Togrul Bey, “ misunderstood the you:' to which she replied, ' But mysterious injunctions of your fat the most diverting part of it is, that ther.". The princes requested him the doctor has been imposing upon to explain himself; on which he thus you.'-How is that possible?-resumed. When the great Togrul

Only send for the prelate; he will Bey said to his eldest son, “Thou confirm what I say.'

shalt build a palace in every large “ The ecclesiastic had fortunately town in my dominions,' he meant to not yet quitted the city, and imme- intimate, that he would do well to diately appeared before the sultan endeavour to gain the friendship of and his consort, who said to bim, some wealthy and distinguished man *Our doctor has explained your rid- in every great city, whose house might dle; but we wish you to acquaint us serve him for an asylum in case Forwith the meaning of it.'-'When I tune should ever turn her back upon shewed the five fingers of my open him. When he advised the second, hand,' replied the prelate, I meant to marry a virgin every day,' this to ask, whether the five command- signified, that he should never lie ments, which you Mahometans are down to rest at night, without the de in the habit of reciting, were givenlightful consciousness of having done some good action during the day. || all men with such condescension and And when the king said to his third kindness, that they shall be obliged son, Add butter and honey to all to commend thy benignity and goodthat thou eatest', his meaning was, ness of heart.'' de

[graphic]

Be sociable and affable; speak to lada o largobba hos bald *. įsaquil Vs D'11 SKETCHES OF CHARACTER, MANNERS, AND THE STATE slaPSYK-47

OF SOCIETY IN THE COUNTRY TOWNS OF ITALY. DI FULLX coincide in the opinion at the sight of St. Peter's; as you you express, that a man, even without neither require any account of the possessing the talents of a Hogarth, feelings which the mountains, rivers, may attempt a delineation of the lakes, and islands of Italy, and the inhabitants of the country towns of temples and churches of Rome, excitItaly, but whether those to whom ed in my soul; nor an enumeration of nature has denied the requisite qua- the treasures of art, any more than a lifications ought to venture upon such description of the useless lumber an eşsay, is a question that may be deposited in the palaces of that city: much more easily and decidedly an- and pointedly decline any observa, strered, than Hamlet's To be or not tions on the political fortunes of the to be. As, however, my desire to peninsula—but merely desire a few gratify your wishes outweighs the hasty sketches in illustration of the scruples arising from the answering character of the people, let us comof the above question, I take up the mence our remarks with the Italian pencil, encouraging myself with the vegetating in small towns, and let us idea, that it is only the people of watch him in the hours devoted to petty towns whom I undertake to pleasure and recreation, and see how portray; and therefore the conse- he contrives to kill time by means of quences attending a failure cannot various amusements, which indeed in be of so serious a nature, as if I had other countries would be considered undertaken to depict the habits, man- as torments. ners, and customs of the Italians re- These amusements may be divided siding at Rome, or of the inhabit into ordinary and extraordinary. To ants of the principal cities. As you the ordinary, that is, such as rejoice grant me an express dispensation the heart of the easily satisfied Itafrom touching upon Rome and Na- lian all the year round, belong, the ples, and have no curiosity to know coffee-house (called caffé, bottega whether I ejaculated Ah! or Oh! da caffé, or merely bottega), the ca*** Duclos, it is well known, could not

sino, and the corso. The extraordiprevail on himself to give the name of nary comprehend, the theatre, horseRomans to the inhabitants of Rome: he races (corso dei barberi), playing at therefore called them the Italians of ball during the fair, balls, masqueRome. I am now sensible myself of the rades and the tombola during the impropriety of using the term Romans, carnival; and, finally, the sagra, which when one is speaking of the people of corresponds with the wakes or feasts modern Romne.

of our English villages. kuckol. IX. No. XIX.

E

The coffee-houses are places of Whether the conversation in the rendezvous for the higher class as above-mentioned botteghe is always well as for the common people, the entertaining and agreeable, I pretend theatre of their joys and sorrows. not to decide; but on this point They are amphibious animals, living doubts have frequently arisen in my chiefly at the bottega, and very rare- mind, as profound silence oftenreigas ly in any other element. As the there for half an hour together. InRomans of old required nothing deed the visitors of such places, seatmore than

рапет et circenses, so the ed round the room with their bats modern Italian can, in case of need, pressed down over the eyes, and their dispense with the panem, but by no mouths and noses muffled up in their means with the bottega. A person cloaks, areso far from manifesting any not belonging to the class of those sign of life, that a stranger on enterwho have some occupation, or rathering would suppose he had got intora who occupies himself with nothing collection of wax-figures,ora museum whatever (and this class is extremely of mummies. This is nevertheless numerous), spendstenortwelve hours the Elysium of the Italians. In every a day in this favourite resort. But town, be it ever so insignificant, there as he would no doubt find a continu- are several coffee-houses, and also a ed stay in one and the same bottega casino dei nobili, into which no bourrather tiresome, he changes his do-geois is admitted. Every village of 'micile at certain stated hours, and fifteen or twenty houses has its bot. migrates from one bottega to ano- tega, which differs from similar esther. Count Capitombolo, for exam- tablishments in towns in no other ple, quits his palace at the hour of respect than that, instead of lounging ten in the forenoon, and repairs conti and cavalieri, meagre, longto the bottega, No. 1, in or before nosed peasants occupy the benches, which he lounges till two o'clock. or in close groups surround a table, The hour of dinner summons him at which bazzica or tressette, the home; but at four o'clock we see him favourite game of the Italians, is again, according as wind and weather played, following it with undivided permit, seated in or before the bottega, attention, conversing while the cards No.2,where, with hischin propped by are dealing on the game that is just his cane, and looking straight before finished, censuring the errors comhim, he awaits the evening; and whenmitted, shouting a Ma bravo, per it grows dusk, after he has perhaps Dio! to Bartolomeo, Pietro, or any taken a few turns under the por other who has shewn himself to be tici of the town, beyond the gates an adept, and manifesting as strong of which he rarely ventures, he pro- and intense an interest as if the game, ceeds to the bottega, No. 3, or the which has transferred three bajocchi casino, where, in spite of wide and from one pocket to another, had defrequent yawns, he resolutely holds cided the fate of Italy*. out till midnight; and then, after

* No sooner had I committed this swallowing a cup of coffee, and hav- simile to paper, than I perceived that it ing duly performed the routine of is a lame one. What does Bartolomeo the day, he consigns his weary limbs or Pietro care about the fate of Italy? to well-deserved repose.

Had it been reversed, it might indeed In the evening the botteghe in the ed with it, to walk together in happy towns are filled with ladies, who union through life, no lady can aptake their places round the room, pear in public arm in arm with her each with her canaliere servente by husband, without rendering herself her side. Though this term, as well highly ridiculous: whereas, by the as cicisbeo, is well known in Eng- side of the above

mentioned anfibio land, yet I dare say many of my animale, she may go wherever she good country-folks have a very im- pleases, and stay where she likes perfect notion of this anfibioanimale; best. Hanging on his arm, she ap. and therefore some account of these pears at church, in the theatre, in notorious creatures and their various the bottega, in the casino, and on relations, together with a classifica- the corso; nor does she part from tion of them framed upon the latter, him till, weary with the occupations may prove not unacceptable. of the day, she hastens home about - The cavaliere servente is a gen- three in the morning, to assure her tleman who does nothing, who has husband that she is well, neither nothing to do, who knows not how, knowing nor caring how or where and indeed has not the slightest wish he has passed his time since noon to do any thing; but who devotes the preceding day. every moment he can spare from his The ladies are, as every body own concerns to the service of the knows, always oppressed with busilady by whom he has been selected ness; and as in Italy no business out as her humble servant, or for whose of doors can be transacted without constant attendant and companion the assistance of the cavaliere, whose he has been appointed by the bus- duty moreover it is to collect all the hand or family of the donna. It is news of the town, it is obvious that well known that the daughters of the none but a man whose profession is nobles and gentry, as soon as they the dolce far niente, can be qualified to have attained their sixth or seventh | undertake and perform the arduousofyear, are placed in some convent or fice of a servente. These cavalieri serother, to be educated, or more cor-venti may be divided into three classes, rectly speaking, uneducated. When according to the relation in which the girl is grown up to be a sitella they stand to the lady and her husda marito, or in other words, when band. If a cavaliere be chosen by she is marriageable, and the family the lady herself, his lot is not rarely have found a suitable match for her, an enviable one; and he belongs to they hasten to present to the said the first class, which I shall call the xitella her destined husband, and happy serventi. If he have been not uncommonly at the same time appointed by the husband, he is her cavaliere servente ;- which pre- I justly to be pitied; for he is not only caution is the more to be commend the attendant and companion, but ed, inasmuch as after the nuptial bene- also, especially in the first year after diction, and the exhortation connect-marriage, the keeper and guardian have applied: for example, Bartolomeo of the jewel committed to his cusmanifested as intense an interest for the tody, and responsible to the owner fate of Italy as if it had been worth three for its safety: hence he is sometimes bajocchiwist..

placed in the most difficult and dis

« VorigeDoorgaan »