Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

to sea.

From The Spectator. and subsequent efforts in favor of the national FORESTER'S RAMBLES IN CORSICA AND independence. In both islands from the er SARDINIA.*

ploits and visits of Nelson, who long mado The real subject of this handsome and il- the port of Madelena in the dividing straits lustrated folio is a journey from Bastia at the his head-quarters for some years, and thence northern end of Corsica to Bonifacio at the he sailed at night-fall, in mid-winter, on that southern extremity, crossing the central moun-world-wide chase which ended at Trafalgar. tain range of the island to visit Ajaccio, the

“Our boatman pointed out to us the chanbirthplace of Napoleon. This Corsican ramble nel through which Lord Nelson led his fleet, is followed by a similar excursion through Sar- when at length, after more than two years' dinia, that is, from Madelena on the straits watching, the object of all his hopes and vows which separate Corsica and Sardinia, to Cag- was accomplished by the French fleet putting liari the capital of the latter, although a por- the low isle of Biscie forms the outer point, is

This, the eastern channel, of which tion of this Sardinian journey was made on a the most dangerous of all

, from the sunken second visit. The interest which the narrative rocks which lie in the fairway, and its little possesses, in the freshness of the subject and breadth of sea room. Yet Nelson beat through the character of the scenery and people, is it in a gale of wind, in the dusk of the evenrather overlaid in various ways. Mr. Fores- ing, escaping these dangers almost miracuter seems to be possessed with the notion lously. Our sailor pointed out all this with that he is a literary artist, and aims at effect lively interest, for Nelson's name and heroia

deeds are still household words among the by personal and minute details ;—and that

seafaring people of La Madelena." too on well-worn topics which only a finished

The interior of both islands is pretty much artist should attempt, and which even such

as it was during the middle ages, except that an one had better let alone. In like manner our author tries to embody trivial incidents in along the leading main road an old-fashioned dramatic dialogue, without the requisite dra- diligence runs at intervals

. The inns and

their accomodation are primitive to a degree; matic power ; and he dwells too much

upon descriptions of the scenery. Some perhaps eller must submit to be obliged in some pri

sometimes they fail altogether; and the travmay think there is also too much of second

vate house, where an elderly dame will condehand matter; as scientific knowledge from modern writers ; historical resumés of prehis- A road-side house seems unknown. Between

scend to receive a stranger and fleece him. torical, classical, mediæval, and even modern

town and town the traveller must carry his periods; but these are not overdone, and to

meals with him, and eat them on the way; many readers will be useful, besides throwing but this is no hardship. Good water can althe interest of association over the scenes

ways be had in the mountains to temper the described. The most questionable matters

wine for those who so like it. Mules or in this way are less concerned with literature than logic. Mr. Forester attributes to remote wishes to ramble in these islands, must mainly

horses can be hired; but the traveller, who antiquity a greater certainty than can be

depend on his pedestrian powers. He may proved, and ascribes an oriental origin, and a

certainly ride along so-called roads on horse scriptural resemblance, to various customs of

or mule-back; but if he wishes really to see the peasantry, without any other foundation than archæological conjecture or at best infer- most striking mountain features, the most

and enjoy the country—the forest views, the

wonderful vegetation, he must often journey Despite these drawbacks the Rambles are

on foot, and rough it in earnest. The mode interesting, principally for their freshness. In of travel revives the middle ages, or recals many parts of Corsica, and even in Sardinia, the exploration of wild countries; it is not though less frequently, an Englishman is a without its pleasures and attractions ; but rara avis, and the neighborhood assembles to look at him. Something of a halo too of endurance sufficient to go through the

only for a man who has strength and powers hangs over him. In Corsica, this arises from work. Such was the case with both our travthe remembrance of our alliance with Paoli ellers. Mr. Forester has explored Norway * Rambles in the Islands of Corsica and Sar- and Southern Africa in his time; his compan

ence.

With Notices of their History, Antiquities, ion was a soldier. and Present Condition. By Thomas Forester, Author of “Norway in 1848-1843,” &c. Published To strangers, journeying in either island, by Longmans and Co.

dinia.

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

our author thinks the stories of danger from hair, falling on the shoulders from beneath brigands or blood avengers grossly exagger- the dark berette, gave, with their bushy ated, if not altogether apocryphal. Of late beards, a ferocious aspect; and, above all, the years what civilized people call assassination, resolute but melancholy cast of features which the vendetta, and brigandage, have been put expressed so well their lot of daring—and down in Corsica by the despotic power of Na- despair. poleon the Third. The bands of brigands "Whether the party was bent on a plunhave been vigorously pursued to their fast- dering raid, or returning from some terrible nesses and either destroyed or driven from act of midnight murder, there was nothing to their haunts, many having taken refuge in indicate ; but the impression was that they Sardinia. The Vendetta has been stopped by were the men 'to do or die' in whatever endisarming the population; no man, be he terprise they were engaged. The party kept whom he may, is permitted to carry fire-arms. well together, riding in single file with aimost Eren field-sports, for the present, are put an military precision. Their pace was steady, end to in Corsica ; there is no popping at bird, with no appearance of haste, though they beast, or biped. In Sardinia an improvement must probably have been aware that some has also been effected by a better administra- carabineers were stationed in the place hard tion of local justice and a more stringent pur- by, which we had just left. It was a startling suit of brigands. Still a constitutional gov- apparition,—these children of the mist'ernment cannot proceed so ruthlessly to its sweeping by us in grim cavalcade over a wild end, even when a good one, as a despotism. heath, in the cold grey dawn of a November Arms are still borne in Sardinia, at least were day, every hand stained with blood, every a few years since : private revenge was still bosom steeled to vengeance. They took no carried on, without being popularly considered notice of us, though we passed them closely, murder; and that brigands existed Mr. For- not even exchanging salutations with our ester had occular demonstration : he saw a cavallante. We gazed on them till they were band, or at least what looked like one. out of sight.” But I can assure my readers that it re

A more real danger, and one which cannot quires a stout heart, and a strong faith in what be so easily got rid

of, if it can be removed at one has heard of the redeeming qualities in all, is the mal aria of the plains. At certain the outlaws' character, to meet them in the seasons of year, especially in Sardinia, a open field without shuddering. It was in the single night in these pestilential regions will dusk of early morning, that, soon after leaving kill a stranger; sometimes an incautious exa village on the borders of the Campidano, posure of a few hours or less in the evening is where we had passed the night, we suddenly deadly; we imagine when there is some confell in with a party of ten or twelve of these stitutional peculiarity or depression. Like men, who crossed our track making for the most similar disease-breeding spots the plains hills. They were mounted on small-sized are fertile. horses, stepping lightly under the great weight

According to the account of foreign writers they carried ; for the bandits were stalwart the Corsicans and the Sardes are both very men, and heavily accoutred. Their guns were,

lazy, probably because there is little on which cariously, slung behind them, held upright on

industry can exercise itself hopefully, save in the thigh, or carried across the saddle-bows;

the few seaports. Communal rights of pas. short daggers were stuck in each belt, and a doubtless the same ideas of meum and tuum

ture seem to prerail over entire districts, with longer one hung by the side; a large powder- that Gallenga describes as existing in Piedt horn was suspended under the arm. en pique, with sheepskin housings, and leath- mont, while in older times any outrage to em pouches attached on both sides, supplying public opinion by encroachments

, might have the place of knapsack and haversack, como been punished by what in Corsica is shortly . pleted the equipment. The cabbanu," a cloak termed a “coup. This is the general picture of coarse brown cloth, hung negligently from

of the shepherds. the shoulders, and underneath appeared the “ The Corsican shepherds are a singular tight-fitting pelisse or vest of leather; and the race. We found them leading a nomade life loose white linen drawers, which give the in all parts of the island. They wander, as Sardes a Moorish appearance, were gathered the season permits, from the highest mounbelow the knee underneath a long black gaiter tain ranges to the verge of the cultivated tightly buckled.

lands and vineyards, where the goats do inAlready familiar with the garb and equip- finite mischief; and drive their flocks in the ments of ? Sarde mountaineer, these details winter to the vast plains of the littoral, and were caught at a glance. The gaze was riv- the warm and sheltered valleys. Home they eted on the features of these desperate men, have none; the side of a rock, a cave, a hut

-the keen black eyes flashing from their of loose stones, lend them temporary shelter. swarthy countenances, to which a profusion of Chestnuts are their principal food; and their

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[graphic]

а

clothing, sheep-skins, or the black wool of they were a merry party, making the giades their flocks, spun and woven by the women of of the old forest ring with their laughter and the valleys into the coarse cloth of the pelone. the sound of their young voices in the sweetTheir greatest luxuries are the immense fires, est of tongues. The girls were in such glee, for which the materials are boundless, or to Filippi pressing the mules to a gallop, that bask in the sun, and tell national tales, and though we enjoyed the fun, we really feared sing their simple canzone. But though a they would be thrown off. Our fears were rude they are not a bad race; contented, groundless ; riding astride, as is the fashion hospitable, tolerably honest, and, as we found, of the country, but with all propriety, they often intelligent."

had a firm seat, and laughed at our apprehenThere are various incidents in the Rambles, sions. illustrative of national character. The fol

“ With all this exuberance of spirits, there lowing is one of the most pleasing. The were the greatest modesty and simplicity in elements, indeed, for similar incidents exist the demeanor of these poor girls. When everywhere; for everywhere humble poverty they proceeded in a more sober mood we has to gain its bread through risks and diffi- joined in the conversation, asking questions culty; but in this country national reserve about their prospects at Ajaccio, and the and advanced civilization would prevent the schooling they had received. They had no exhibition to a traveller.

friends at Ajaccio ; but the Mother of Mercy'

would guide and protect them." “ Heat and hunger now combined to make us look out for a rill of water at a conrenient

The denouement of the little adventure spot for taking our déjeuner, and a torrent was satisfactory. By pressing the mules and crossing the road, with a rude bridge over it, travelling late, our author and his friend we sat down on the low parapet, and, opening

reached Ajaccio the same night. The girls of our baskets, the boy Filippi fetched water course could not, but Mr. Forester carried from the pure stream to cool and temper our

the bundle, directing them to call for it at wine. Bread, slices of ham, and grapes,

the hotel. were rapidly disappearing, when unexpected

“We were quite as well served, and the acvisitors appeared on the scene, in the shape commodations were as good at Ajaccio as in of two country girls, travellers to Ajaccio like any provincial city of France. They gave us qurselves.

a delicate white wine made in the neighbor“We had not been so much struck, to hood, an agreeable beverage, which we thought speak the truth, as some travellers seem to resembled Chabldis; and a confiture of cherhave been with the beauty and gracefulness ries preserved in jelly, which was exquisite. of the Corsican women; but these really were

I had told the story of our adventure with the two very pretty girls, of the age of fifteen poor girls from Corte to the mistress of the or sixteen, brunettes, bright-eyed, slightly- house, and, on Bridget's appearing the day formed, and with pleasing and expressive after our arrival to claim her wardrobe, she features. They were lightly clad, and one of informed me with great joy, that our good them carried å small bundle. Accosted by hostess had taken her into her service." Filippi, we learnt that they came from Corte, Although the author's literary powers are and were on their way to Ajaccio, in search scarcely equal to produce effective composiof domestic service. Filippi appeared to tion out of trite materials, yet he narrates know some of their family; To desire the agreeably when his matter has any attracboy to share with them the meal he was tion in itself; and such is the force of truth making at some little distance was only re- and nature that Mr. Forester leaves upon turning Corsican hospitality. The girls were his reader's mind a general impression of the

shy at first, and it was only by degrees that country he has travelled through-its wild • we were able to establish a chat with them ; freshness, the diffused perfumes of its plains and I was struck with the manner in which and glades, the magnificence of its forest the eldest, taking a handful of new chestnuts trees, and the singular character of the comfrom a bag, offered the contribution to our bination. His military companion was an picnic. Poor girls, chestnuts and the run- amateur artist, who has enriched the pages of ning brooks were probably all they had to his friend with many a wood-cut and several depend upon for refreshment during their plates. There is also a map of the islands, journey. Happily, both were easily to be which would have been more useful on a larger found.

scale. Mr. Forestor, subsequently to these Our road lying, the same way, and the ramblings, was present at the laying down of girls having walked from Vivario while we the electric telegraph cable between Sardinia had been riding, they were offered a ride on and Algiers, and gives an interesting account the mules, and, after some hesitation, the of the exploit

, as well as some characteristic offer was accepted. With Filippi for their information respecting the telegraphic cour squire, the trio being about the same age,' pany, and the execution of the line.

CHAPTER THE LIGHTH,

ance.

if she heard a word of what they were say"PIERRE went on pretending to read, but ing. She leant upon him more and more in reality listening with acute tension of ear heavily. to every little sound. His perceptions be

66. Will Mademoiselle condescend to take came so sensitive in this respect that he was my arm ?' said Morin, with sulky, and yet unable to measure time, every moment had humble, uncouthness. I dare say he would seemed so full of noises, from the beating of have given world if he might have had that his heart up to the roll of the heavy carts in little hand within his arm; but, though she the distance. He wondered whether Vir- still kept silence, she shuddered up away ginie would have been able to reach the place from him, as you shrink from touching a of rendezvous, and yet he was unable to com- toad. He had said something to her during pute the passage of minutes. His mother that walk, you may be sure, which had made slept soundly: that was well. By this time her loathe him. He marked and understood Virginie must have met the faithful cousin :'the gesture. He held himself aloof while if, indeed, Morin had not made his appear- Pierre gave her all the assistance he could in

their slow progress homewards. But Morin " At length he felt as if he could no longer accompanied her all the same. He had sit still, awaiting the issue, but must run out played too desperate a game to be baulked, and see what course events had taken. In now. He had given information against the vain his mother, half-rousing herself, called ci-devant Marquis de Créquy, as a returned after him to ask whither he was going; he emigré, to be met with at such a time, in was already out of hearing before she had such a place. Morin had hoped that all sign ended her sentence, and he ran

on until of the arrest would have been cleared away stopped by the sight of Mademoiselle Cannes before Virginie reached the spot—so swiftly walking along at so swift a pace that it was were terrible deeds done in those days. But almost a run; while at her side, resolutely Clément defended himself despesately: Virkeeping by her, Morin was striding abreast. ginie was punctual to a second ; and, though Pierre had just turned the corner of the street the wounded man was borne off to the Abbaye when he came upon them. Virginie would amid a crowd of the unsympathising jeerers have passed him without recognising him, who mingled with the armed officials of the she was in such passionate agitation, but for Directory, Morin feared lest Virginie had Morin's gesture, by which he would fain have recognised him; and he would have preferred kept Pierre from interrupting them. Then, that she should have thought that the faithful when Virginie saw the lad, she caught at his cousin was faithless, than that she should arm, and thanked God, as if in that boy of have seen him in bloody danger on her actwelve or fourteen she held a protector. count. I suppose he thought that, if Virginie Pierre felt her tremble from head to foot, and never saw or heard more of him her imaginawas afraid , lest she would fall, there where tion would not dwell on his simple disappearshe stood, in the hard, rough street.

ance, as it would do if she knew what he was • Begone, Pierre !' said Morin.

suffering for her sake. "I cannot,' replied Pierre, who indeed “At any rate, Pierre saw that his cousin was held firmly by Virginie. Besides, I was deeply mortified by the whole tenor of won't,' he added. Who has been frightening his behavior during their walk home. When Mademoiseile in this way?' asked he, very they arrived at Madame Babette's, Virginie much inclined to brave his cousin at all fell fainting on the floor ; 'her strength had

but just sufficed for this exertion of reaching “ Mademoiselle is not accustomed to walk the shelter of the house. Her first sign of in the streets alone,' said Mo sulkily. restoring consciousness consisted in avoidance 'She came upon a crowd attracted by the of Morin. He had been most assiduous in arrest of an aristocrat, and their cries alarmed his efforts to bring her round; quite tender her. I offered to take charge of her home. in his way, Pierre said; and this marked, inMademoiselle should not walk in these streets stinctive repugnance to him evidently gave alone. We are not like the cold-blooded him extreme pain. I suppose Frenchmen people of the Faubourg Saint Germain.' are more demonstrative than we are ; for

“ Virginie did not speak. Pierre doubted Pierre declared that he saw his cousin's eyes

6

hazards.

[graphic]

666

[ocr errors]

fill with tears, as she shrank away from his Babette, you must help me—you must make touch, if he tried to arrange the shawl they her love me.' He was so fierce here, that had laid under her head like a pillow, or as Pierre said he did not wonder that his mother she shut her eyes when he passed before her. was frightened. Madame Babette was urgent with her to go 6* I, Victor!' she exclaimed. I make her and lie down on the bed in the inner room; love you! How can I? Ask me to speak but it was some time before she was strong for you to Mademoiselle Didot, or to Made. enough to rise and do this.

moiselle Cauchois even, or such as they, and “ When Madame Babette returned from I'll do it, and welcome. But to Mademoiselle arranging the girl comfortably, the three rela- de Créquy, why you don't know the differtions sate down in silence; a silence which ence! Those people - the old nobility, I Pierre thought would never be broken. He mean—why they don't know a man from a wanted his mother to ask his cousin what had dog, out of their own rank! And no wonder, happened. But Madame Babette was afraid for the young gentlemen of quality are of her nephew, and thought it more discreet treated differently to us from their very birth to wait for such crumbs of intelligence as he If she had you to-morrow, you would be mist might think fit to throw at her. But, after crable. Let me alone for knowing the aris she had twice reported Virginie to be asleep, tocracy. I have not been a concierge to a without a word being uttered in reply to her duke and three counts for nothing. I tell whispers by either of her.companions, Morin's you, all your ways are different to her ways!' powers of self-containment gave way.

“I would change my ways, as you call 66. It is hard !' he said.

them.' 666 What is hard ?' asked Madame Babette, 66. Be reasonable, Victor.' after she had paused for a time, to enable “ No, I will not be reasonable, if by that him to add to, or to finish, his sentence, if you mean giving her up. I tell you two he pleased.

lives are before me; one with her, one with" It is hard for a man to love a woman as out her. But the latter will be but a short I do,' he went on. I did not seek to love career for both of us. You said, aunt, that her, it came upon me before I was aware- the talk went in the conciergerie of her fabefore I had ever thought about it at all, I ther's hotel, that she would have nothing to loved her better than all the world beside. do with this cousin whom I put out of the All my life before I knew her seems a dull way to-day?' blank. I neither know nor care for what I «« « So the servants said. How could I did before then. And now there are just two know? All I know is, that he left off coming lives before me. Either I have her, or I have to our hotel, and that at one time before then not. That is all : but that is every thing. he had never been two days absent.' And what can I do to make her have me? 66 « So much the better for him. He suffers Tell me, aunt,' and he caught at Madame now for having come between me and my obBabette's arm, and gave it so sharp a shake, ject-in trying to take her away out of my that she half screamed out, Pierre said, and sight. Take you warning, Pierre ! I did evidently grew alarmed at her nephew's ex- not like your meddling to-night.' And so he citement.

went off, leaving Madame Babette rocking ««• Hush, Victor!' said she. There are herself backwards and forwards, in all the other women in the world, if this one will not depression of spirits consequent upon the re have you.'

action after the brandy, and upon her knowl6. None other for me,' he said, sinking edge of her nephew's threatened purpose back as if hopeless. 'I am plain and coarse, combined. not one of the scented darlings of the aristo- “ In telling you most of this, I have simply crats. Say that I am ugly, brutish; I did repeated Pierre's account, which I wrote dowa not make myself so, any more than I made at the time. But here what he had to say myself love her. It is my fate. But am I came to a sudden break; for the next mordto submit to the consequences of my fate ing, when Madame Babette rose, Virginie was without a struggle ? Not I. As strong as missing, and it was some time before either my love is, so strong is my will. It can be she, or Pierre, or Morin, could get the slightpo stronger,' continued he, gloomily. 'Aunt) est clue to the missing girl.

6

6

« ElőzőTovább »