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exorbitant encroachments and rude unsparing conquest, he appeared upon the scene at once as a mighty conqueror and ruler of earth, at the same time being the direst of aristocratic tyrants, and (by force of might and destined power) of licensed thieves and freebooters. But, however, as all cruel pride and wrong was then, as now, certain to be eventually crumbled to the dust in its headlong worldly career, this great founder of the ancient line, as also Sardanapalus the last, and the later Herod, met with that judgment which was justly and most appropriately due to their crimes. In the case of Ninus, the example of his own self-aggrandizement, and oppression of his subjects, being naturally imitated and followed up by his queen Semiramis, as the desire for reckless ambition, with which he inoculated her mind, proved directly suicidal to his career, and was his own death warrant.
Again, although under the glorious rule of Augustus Cæsar, Rome attained her acmé of greatness and intelligence, thus gaining the title of the Fourth Universal Monarchy, yet for the attainment of the imperial purple, the ends of state, and the necessity of firm establishment, this prince, considered more just and merciful than he was subtle and avaricious, waded in his kindred's blood, sacrificing at the shrine of hereditary royal ingratitude and insensibility his own uncle's children, his adopters, who had first placed his foot on the steps of the throne, and rendered him master of the world. Consider again the horrors entailed upon the nation by the enormities of the robber nobles of Rome, of the middle ages, far outstripping in power the glorious intellect and virtue of Rienzi, in whose fall, and in the consequent triumph of the traitor bandit aristocracy, reducing society to anarchy and barbarism, "Roma fu terribilmente vedovata."
Thus, allowing the above to be only as authentic illustrations, the footsteps of the same vices, used in the all-attainment of nobility, honour, and powers, and which are handed down to posterity, are traced upon the sands of time among all nations, ancient, mediæval, and modern. Here ends the digression, and we start again on our journey. We reached Novara after a long, hot, dusty martyrdom on the top of a diligence, with the longest glaring roads, which literally had no turning, we ever beheld, through the flattest and most undiversified country in Italy, being packed neatly, like figs in a drum, with a row of other individuals, who, as one's nose was occasionally turned towards either side, seemed, like the skunk, to possess the curious faculty of distributing abroad the most dreadful and noxious of odours. "The skunk, when overtaken or harassed by its enemies, seeks refuge in the stench which it sends forth, generally succeeding in overpowering the hottest pursuer and most callous of olfactories ;"* so our travelling companions were evidently human skunks, and making use of the same expedient to revenge themselves upon our abusing the modes of conveyance in vogue in Italy, and especially the one in question; and they succeeded.
Novara, a town of elegant houses, surrounded with fortifications, formerly of great strength, is situated on a ground rising up from the plain, and that plain holds interred in its martial bosom the bones of history. There fought, as patriots only can, the brave Piedmontese; yet Fate pointed the sword of the Austrian, and nerved the oppressor's arm, and
's Natural History, vol. iv.
the yoke fell upon their brave and chivalrous leader; so Carlo Alberto yielded to Radetzky, and abdicated the throne. From Novara, we started for the Lago Lugano, our route taking us once again to Arona; from thence we deliciously explored, in a bark of gaudy colours, and filled with soft cushions, the Lago Maggiore to the small village of Luino, at the extreme end of that branch which yet remained to us. The sky was cloudless; a delicious breeze fanned us onwards, ladened with perfumes, as it swept from the flowery shores. A dark gazelle-eyed daughter of Italy reclined languidly at our boat's prow, beguiling the idle hours, and throwing round a gentle and dream-like charm by the exquisite and natural taste and melody of the liquid tones of her voice, clear as the drops of silver water falling into a deep well, as she was sweeping her tiny slim hand over the strings of her guitar, with her deep lustrous and earnest eyes fixed far away over the wild snows of the gorgeous Alps, whilst a sad smile of excessive sweetness lingered upon her lips of rose, like the slowly-departing rays of some lovely sunset; then, like a dewdrop distilled from the night, a single silver tear trembled from the black silken lashes, and fell upon an amulet resting on her bosom, doubtless some sweet remembrance of hours of bygone happiness, and ever whispering back to her listening soul the memory of bright moments of bliss, too sweet to last-lightning flashes that gleam fitfully over the tempestuous and darkening ocean of life; yet, though transitory be their stay, how mighty their power, how eternal their impress upon the heart! sometimes imparting an ecstatic glow, and kindling a flame that death itself cannot extinguish; and again sometimes under an evil destiny, tearing and blighting the souls, desolated by their searing fires. Surely we may be pardoned if so fair an image of the creation's fairest work, a young and lovely woman, shall guide the pen of a young author through a page of reflection. Alone, an orphan, bereaved also but a short time since of her life's-her love's young dream, was this beautiful child of Nature, thrown so early upon the wild chances and threshold of the unknown beyond, like a leaf tossed by the wind; and there she was before us, unmindful of all around, gazing upwards, deep into the serene blue of Heaven; perhaps praying to the Great Ordainer, that those she had loved and lost, and who had been called away to the Spirit-Land and into the bosom of eternity, should now bend their eyes still upon the lonely, and guard her with their angel-wings. Oh why may not the pure and holy spirits of those we have lost and mourned, when freed from the thraldom of the clay, and unfettered and free as seem the stars when they burst from out the caverns of the sky, hover near the loved ones of earth, whose souls once mingled and were entwined with their own? For surely the gates of death, though dread and fearful, cannot shut out into utter oblivion from the lonely and wandering spirit those high and God-like emotions with which the warm pulse of affection must once have beaten for the dear ones it knew; for how boundless, faithful, and holy is the truth of love! that fulness, completeness, and luxuriance of Life's life, which has in it surely something of the Divine! for pure and true love knows no passion. Affection and passion are two widely different emotions; the one, as it were, a gentle hilly slope covered with the soft verdure of summer, the breezes that waft across it bearing with them the sweet breath of the violet; and the other the dark and rugged volcano, the dismal mount of flame rising from out its
sterile and blackened realms, whose lurid breath is destruction and ruin.
"When life's first fev'rish fire is past,
And coldness o'er the passions cast,
And death cannot rob the spirit of its holiness and truth; for the affection of the soul lives eternally, and must be more beautiful when it has cast off its earth-born fetters. Oh, what rays of hope would illumine the dreariness of existence, and light up the dark portals of the grave, if the sure conviction were ours that, when death has enfolded the suffering clay, love would not finish too, but, like as Nature shrinks, withers, and dies at the shrill blast of the winter's breath, it falls but to rise again, joyous and smiling, at the first glimmerings of the morning of summer! What a solace to soften our rough and chequered career, that, in the almighty mercy and wisdom of Omnipotence, those cherished ones of whom the Past speaks so eloquently, and whose gentle spirits filled the bright visions of our happiest days-but now, alas! faded and passed away from all but memory-may be permitted especially to affect the destinies, and watch over and direct the actions of poor frail mortality, under the shadows of their spirit-wings!
"When beaming eyes are closed in death,
And loved ones from our hearts are riven,
But to return to our syren of the lake, who, breathing a gentle sigh, and casting around a half-frightened, vacant glance, in a voice of exquisite melody, sang the following (but imperfectly-translated) strain; and her heart and whole soul itself seemed to pour from her lips:
"Whilst, dearest one, for my errors kneeling
Having landed at Luino-a dirty, tumbling down, starving village, which appears, amidst the richness and magnificence which surround
it, like the dried bones in a mausoleum-we started, this time inside the diligence, en route for Lugano. The heat was most oppressive; and we actually found ourselves boxed-up in disagreeable propinquity to a sour old gentleman and his mummy of a wife, who were both travelling in Italy to cure "chronic lumbago," with which they both fancied themselves afflicted. So for six long hours, in the hottest of climates, did we drag up the weary lengths of innumerable, and apparently insurmountable, dusty hills and roads, panting, perspiring, and fuming, with all the windows and doors hermetically closed; the loving old couple being rolled up together in the same railway-wrapper, like a huge palpitating German sausage, having suspicion that there was chilliness and draught: and every time the door was opened, it was slammed-to furiously again by the human saugage, which complained that "Dear, dear, dear, we were losing all our warm air!
At midnight we caught the first sight of the moonlit waters of the Lago Lugano, gleaming through the dark pine-trees bordering the road; and shortly the diligence stopped at the only hotel in the town whose walls were actually like an orange-chest, bursting and bulging out with its (Saxon) burthen. We slept that night in little caverns which were excavated in the walls of the "sala". -a high, cold, grand, dark, und vaulted apartment. The red-tiled floors were plentifully supplied with saliva, tobacco-juice, and remarkably fine specimens of cockroaches in great numbers; and during our pilgrimages to the water-jug, in the course of the hot night, it was lamentable to think of the wholesale slaughter of so many of the fine fellows, as our bare feet crackled and mashed ankle-deep through their crawling myriads.
The next morning, at breakfast, we somehow or other picked up an elderly gentleman, who was determined to have all the talking to himself. He evidently was accustomed to talk down everybody, as he seemed quite awe-struck if any one beside himself ventured to make a remark when he was in the room, looking up slowly over his spectacles in dignified astonishment. So obstinate was this dicacious and pleonastic old man, in his struggles to monopolise the whole conversation in the salle-à-manger, that upon a gentle, respectable, and seedy English clergyman, with the usual amount of wife and children, gliding in, and beginning quietly to converse with his family, he violently wrenched the newspaper from the hands of the nearest waiter, and read out loud, at the top of his voice, an entire leading article!
The town of Lugano consists of a collection of streets, squalid, wretched, and crumbling away in total neglect, and filthy beyond the power of cleansing, though it is beautifully situated 'mid the quiet repose of a sheltered and umbrageous angle of the lake, enjoying from all its quarters points of view of surpassing beauty, consisting of the singular combination of the wild and majestic with the soft, the mellow, and the domestic. Imposing are the bold, lofty mountains which there cleave the sky with their time-worn rocks, which have faced a thousand storms, and are as defiant as ever. In the midst of them, and sheltered by their overhanging eminences, whilst laving and nourishing the flowery world at their base, sleeps the placid lake. Heaven above looks down on it with a smile, reflected back more
sweetly from its trembling breast. Yet there are those who ignore any effect produced by such scenes. Mysterious beings they! A riddle for an Edipus is the reason of their abiding 'midst the beauties of a world which to them are wasting their sweetness! Yesthe human soul, with its anomalies, its insensibilities, its doubts, its wrong convictions, its struggles and torments, is surely, of all topics, the most inviting to the poet's and philosopher's musings; and poetry, as the world advances in civilization and refinement, with an increased range of thoughts upon all subjects, will still brood over all, and from the depths of its favourite subject-"the working of the human soul"'-draw exhaustless treasures.
MY TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS' SALMON FISHING ON THE
Wae's me! that pleasure is so short lived? Wae's me! that nine short hours, by carriage and rail, have brought me 248 miles from all that is healthful and beautiful, once more to dull, dirty, dismal London. But so it is; and as
"Pleasure at last will vanish too fast,
If we cannot dream over the joys that are past,"
I will console myself by dreaming over, in print, the delights I have experienced, in order to enable others to follow my footsteps, and "go and do likewise"-immediately if they can.
I have just returned from Llanwrst, North Wales, where I have been enjoying a month's salmon fishing on the Conway-a month of unmitigated delight, save but for one circumstance it will be necessary I should allude to presently. Two ladies and myself composed the party, and I here mention that the whole affair cost, within a fraction, £50. We took "28 days' return tickets" by the London and North Western, cost 45s, each, second class, which tickets are in fact for 29 days, inasmuch as, if you start on a Tuesday, returning on a Tuesday is permissible. Started at 9.15 a.m. on the 24th of August, and arrived at Conway 4.5 p.m., where, by pre-arrangement, a carriage-and-pair from The Eagles, Llanwrst, 12 miles from Conway (cost 18s.-the universal charge is 1s. 6d. for a carriage-and-pair, and 1s. for a one-horse car, per mile-2s, turnpikes, and 3d. per mile for driver) met us; and at 6.20 we were at a sumptuous tea-dinner, at Mr. Pegg's hotel, The Eagles, Llanwrst. Also by pre-arrangement, we were to be boarded and lodged, with two bedrooms and a sitting-room, for 30s. per week, each. Rooms were airy and comfortable in every respect; but "board!" why it was almost too liberal! We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner at our own time, and tea, if we had chosen it, punctually. At dinner we had always (unless we ordered to the contrary) fish or soup, flesh and fowl, or game, pudding and tart, cream and sugar, cheese, &c., &c., and a liberal dessert; all in