« ElőzőTovább »
best as they understood it. Throughouting but a single pear to eat. And yet when the twenty-nioth hundreds of soldiers they were brought forth into the light they were at work mong the è uins, and hourly were ruddy and full of vigor. a steamer landed a significative cargo of On the fifth day also two victims were coffins and bread, bedsteads, litters, wine, disinterred alive. The one, a big youth, and all kinds of necessaries.
by trade a tailor, was found lying by the But the need was even greater than the putrefied body of his father. He began supply of aid. Five or six thousand peo- to swear freely when he was released, and ple suddenly deprived of house-room and with professional eagerness demanded to every (even the commonest) requirements be attired in a seemly coat. of daily life ! Half this population dead, “ How have you contrived to exist, beor buried alive in various strata of débris ! ing buried so long a time ?” they asked A hand or a head above the stones and him. timber in one place ! Elsewhere the dead “I had courage,” was his reply. “I and the living jammed together as in a dug out a corner with my hands, and I vice! Cries from the heart of huge piles had a bottle of vinegar to drink.” of ruin, as from a tomb! Tears and en- This hearty rogue refused the food they treaties from mothers and children' that offered him, but spatched a fask of Marsomething may be done for their dear sala from the hands of a soldier, and, ones whose groans they can hear beneath having drunk deeply, walked off unaided them, but whom they cannot resue! We towards the beach. English are happy that we know little or In the same house, five hours later, they nothing of such woe as this of Casamic- found his cousin. A table had been his ciola in 1883.
rock of safety, he being underneath it. It is impossible to tell such a tale with But the poor fellow was not in good conother than an elegaic note. Yet the work dition. He had sustained himself upon of rescue now and then.provoked a smile. a number of tomatoes within his reach; On the second day, at one place, they dis- but the fruit had got impregnated with the interred an old woman, unharmed. fumes of corruption from the dead body
“God bless you!” she cried, as they of his uncle, and his blood was thus helped her out. “But for pity's sake," cruelly poisoned. she added impetuously, “dig a little deeper The salvation of those and other poor and save my
people may be ascribed to the king. On “What?' Is there any one else alive the second day after the calamity, the here?” they inquired anxiously.
stench that exhaled from the prostrate My hen !” continued the old dame. village began to be insupportable. Many
But it was not a time to trouble about of the workers were overcome by it. hens.
There was talk of the menace of typhus ; A multitude of anecdotes of escapes and some spoke of cholera as the result well-nigh miraculous are of course current of it. The question was then broached: in the place. They abored hard to save Ought not the entire place to be covered the bishop of the island, whose house had up with lime? It was a colossal idea, for fallen in upon him; but it was in vain. thousands of men working daily for weeks For hours they toiled towards him, obey would not suffice to achieve it, and tens ing the directions that came to them from of thousands of tons of lime would be beneath.
needed. There were arguments in favor Softly! Not there. More this way,” of the plan, and many arguments against and so forth.
it. But no steps were taken in the matter Later, when their efforts to reach him until the king himself had visited Casabad been of no avail, the bishop's voice micciola. grew indistinct, more and more hoarse It was in truth, however, a hideous and feeble. “ Save me! save me!” he proposition. Even the supporters of it repeated. Then they, heard him groan granted that in all human probability there again and again; and when they came were living men and women yet under the upon him he was dead.
ruins; but these were to be sacrificed for More fortunate were two young Neapol- the public profit. A uniform depth of six itan ladies, the une twenty years old, and feet of quicklime was to be spread over the other seventeen. An iron girder had all the village, making it a grave forever; dropped aslant so as to form an arch over and the hapless ones who yet lived were them. But between them and the air lay thus in theory condemned to a death of ten feet of masonry. They were impris- the most awful kind conceivable. oned thus for sixty-seven hours, with noth- And so King Humbert came over from
Naples, and saw all that was to be seen. | earthquake! The day was set apart for a At times they demurred when a very quest of alms for Casamicciola. ghastly spectacle was near, but the king cious wagon was drawn up and down the took affairs into his own hand. “I wish streets of the city, heralded by the wail to see it - I ought to see it,” he said im- of a trumpet. The Municipal Guard and peratively. " It is horrible. I did not citizens attended the car on foot, and two think there had been such a massacre,” ladies dressed in black sat upon the box. he added at length, as they took him from The wagon was inscribed “Casamicciola,” one scene of ruin to another. Corpses and the flag of Italy, bound with crape, still lay here and there, bruised and dis- Auttered in front of it. Such a procession figured, half or a quarter exposed to the was well calculated to touch Italian sym
And not all the camphor and pun- pathies. The people sobbed in the gent perfumes in the world could keep off streets. the sickening stench which met them with But they also offered Casamicciola betmore and more intensity as they advanced ter tribute than tears. The most various farther and farther into the misshapen of articles showered into the car from the village.
houses on either side of the streets - a But after the king's visit all thought of bundle of clothes from one story, a shirt quicklime and decomposing fuids was from the window above, money tied in a suspended. Once he was assured that handkerchief from the third floor, and there were yet persons to be saved, his from the attic perchance a pair of earMajesty had put his veto upon the barba- rings, removed by their owner from her rism. He quoted Colletta, the historian of ears in haste ere the car should pass on. the kingdom of Naples, and his narratives In the poorer quarters of the city the of the earthquakes in Calabria in the last procession aroused real enthusiasm of century, and reminded the authorities of generosity. A cobbler ran from his shop the girl Eloisa Basili, who was in 1783 and threw into the car the coat he had exhumed alive on the twelfth day of her been wearing, interment. This poor girl was found “hold. “What will you do now?" asked his ing in her arms a child which had died on wife. “ You have no other." the fourth day, and which was therefore by * Mia cara in this warm weather it's that time quite corrupted. She had been enough if I have my shirt,” said he. unable to free herself from the dead body, A cabman likewise stripped himself to so tightly was she compassed about by the his shirt, and gave cloak, coat, waistcoat, ruin of the house." Colletta says further and even his watch and chain to the comof her, that from the time of her rescue missioners. until she died, in her twenty-fifth year, A woman untied her apron, and reft her nine years after the earthquake, she never baby of its frock, that she might not be smiled, and seemed indeed to live in a backward in giving. The shopkeepers state of composed indifference. She offered contributions in kind — packets of would neither marry (though she was beau- inacaroni, bottles of oil, sausages, and tiful), nor go into a convent; but she pre. bread. Curious also was the donation of ferred to sit in solitude under a tree, the proprietress of a wine-shop in the remote from all dwellings. Whenever she Via Monteroni. She gave an iron bedchanced to see a baby, she turned and stead (large enough for two), set up for looked another way.
use, with mattresses, pillows, and blankets But let us glance from the tragedy itself complete; and with her neighbors' aid and see for a moment how Italy and all this was duly hoisted into the car, upon Europe bestirred themselves on behalf of the other things. It may be imagined that this bereaved and devastated little place. one wagon did not suffice to exhaust such George Eliot has somewhere derided, and Roman charity as this. A single district reasonably, what she held to be our insular contributed four wagon-loads of things. idea of the typical Italian - a creature in The coppers of the poor were alone picturesque rags, thankful for halfpence. enough to fill four and twenty sacks. In truth, however, the Italians are a noble- Milan, too, had its charity procession hearted people. I wonder how we of for Casamicciola, and the other cities of England should have developed had we Italy sent what help they could. grown up under the conditions of charac- In all, not less than three million francs ter nurture that have been upon Italy for came into the hands of the relief committhe past many a generation !
tee. It would be very odd, said the cynWhat an extraordinary scene was that ics, if, with such admirable opportunities, in Rome on August 6, eight days after the the distributors of the relief were not
guilty of maladministration. They went for the relief of those who were buried further by and by, and charged them with alive, and will tell with the ghost of a scoff misappropriation.
of the dilettante way in which the toilers But such calamities as Casamicciola's worked. “Hush ! one of them would in 1883 cannot be atoned for wholly by say on a sudden, as they passed a heap of charitable collections. As a health resort, ruin, “I hear a voice !" For a moment Casamicciola is ruined. Perhaps in a they would pause, stand with distended decade or two it will begin to hold up its ears, perhaps lie with the cheek to the head again. For the present, it is left to ground, and the next moment be convinced brood over its misfortune. The tourists of that they were deceived." It was nothing the nations, if they come to it, take every -only a fragment of a wall giving way precaution that they be not left a single underneath.' Then they would pass by night in its midst. They view its moun. on the other side. tain through their opera glasses from the He tells, moreover, of the periodical seashore or the deck of the steamer, per- visits of the Subscribed Funds Committee. haps even venture to eat their dinner These gentlemen were positively embarwithin ten minutes' walk of the remains rassed by Europe's generosity. Had less of the village, and then withdraw satiated. money been accumulated, the distribution As for staying in the neighborhood, they would have been made more equitably, would as soon take up temporary abode in and without scandal. As it was, this was a churchyard vault.
the manner of it. Every other day or so, It was, therefore, with an air of pleased for a while, the committee chartered a surprise the other day that the proprietor special steamer from Naples, and arrived of the one little makeshift of a hotel in in the island with a bag of gold. Before the place (with beds for four) agreed to proceeding to work they breakfasted. And receive me for a night or two when I re- such breakfasts! They brought divers quested it.
He, poor fellow, had lost wines with them in the steamer, and all sadly by the earthquake. His earlier Ischia was requisitioned for wines and hotel was a large building, much fre- fruits of the first quality for the table. quented, and the source of a steady in. While they ate and drank (and they did
But it went to the ground with the not spare the wine), the people outside rest, and it lies still where it fell. For. clamored for the alms that Europe had tunately, the landlord was not in at the sent them. But the Casamicciola police time; and by some miracle he had also kept these impatient and importunate ones contrived to retain possession of a family aloof. Only when the commissioners had of ten fine young men and women, his well feasted did the work of charity begin. children. It will have to be a very shrewd And then what a farce it was ! earthquake to touch them hardly a second pleted worthies hurriedly made the tour time, for the new hotel is the lightest of of the district, or listened with cigars in single-story châlets, with no roofing ex- their mouths to the tales of the petitioners, cept a sheet of galvanized iron. A blow who had lost fathers or husbands (breadof the fist staggers the thin, wooden walls winners in one form or another), and at of the building; and one goes to bed in it the judgment of the moment gave ac rdwith some fancy that one zephyr stronger ing to their pleasure; here twenty francs ; than another may at any moment prove to there ten ; to an unprepossessing claimant a marvel that the house is famously col- nothing at first, but a gold piece if he worlapsible. Much, however, may be forgiven ried the commissioners by his intolerable to a hotel the bedrooms of which let im. persistence; and so on till the bag was mediately upon a garden of orange-trees empty. This done, the officials returned and flowers, and whence one views to per- to Naples with their responsibilities disfection the blue bay of Naples beyond. charged !
Perhaps it is hardly fair to give absolute Amid all this smoke there may be a credence to the stories of a man with so spark or two of fire ; but I, for one, do keen a grudge against nature in his heart not care to singe my fingers by groping as the landlord of this poor little hotel. for it. But, in the face of official reports, mine I happened to arrive in Casamicciola on host assures his guest that many a luck. the eve of a festa. They had shown me less villager was stifled prematurely, and the ruined village, with its hot springs
consumed alive, by the acids and bubbling idly away and never a patient to lione which
were eventually dispersed profit by them, and babbled of the disaster about the ruins of Casamicciola. He in so distressful a minor key that I was makes light, too, of the various endeavors | heart and soul with the place at the instant LIVING AGE.
of its downfall. And from the village we to a routine of prayer and unbearable prihad strolled below to the seashore with vations. bare walls and cottages with big cracks Epomeo is two thousand six hundred obliquely across them ever about us. and twenty-five feet above the sea. The Here we were met by the procession of hermit's temperature is therefore much priests and banners, and mahogany-colored cooler than that of Casamicciola. In winmen and women in their best clothes, with ter he is showed upon, and at all times the a string Band in the van. It was a sug- clouds help to keep his chambers moist. gestive scene. The very church whence He is not a hermit of any religious order; they filed had a gaping seam upon its nor is he a regular priest with a passion forehead. The houses (new, for the most for solitude. No one can say he serves part, and as light and small and bandboxy any particular purpose, except it be to as the hotel) were beset with Madonna do what his predecessors did - ring the statues at the corners; and within, one church bell at noon; and shoot the small saw the paintings of more Madonnas, with birds and quails which come among the lighted lamps before them. On the way, crags of his high quarters as if they supthe procession passed another church that posed that here, at all events, they were was no longer a church. Only the façade assured of a retreat from the guns of man. of it stood erect, with the inscription on kind. its pediment “ To the glory of God," etc. This hermit inhabits a suite of apart. Behind was an agonizing heap of broken ments hewn in the rocky peak of the walls, twisted iron, and fallen rafters. mountain-bedroom, buttery, kitchen, reAdjacent, too, was the ruin of an eatiny- fectory, stables, and I know not what else. house. The word “restaurant” still in- At one time the little church of St. Nicovited the wayfarer to set foot within it, las, adjacent to him, was richly provided though the body had no more chance of with friars. The panels of the seats they entertainment here than the soul of solace occupied still cling to the chilly, refectory in the church hard by. But the trumpets walls. But their day has gone by, and the brayed through the street with a tumult hermit is their sole representative. In the of triumph ; the banners blew out; the nave of the church is a flat tombstone with priests held themselves strongly through an iron ring in it. The well-like vault it all; and the eager-eyed peasants buzzed underneath contains a medley of what is their murmurs of delight. No doubt pro-left of the previous hermits. But the cessions and porcelain Madonnas at the recluse of to-day is not doomed to lie upon corners of the houses are a vigorous anti- the remains of his predecessors. He tells dote to fear. They are certainly worth with a gleeful twinkle of the eye of the more than the certificates of security of recent act of Parliament which forbids professors who assume to feel the pulse such interments. When he dies, he will of the earth. Moreover, even my carping get comfortable quarters in a lowland landlord placed me in a bedroom the chief grave. But his life is so healthy, and he ornament in which was a brace of bul- is so robust, that he cannot possibly die lock's horns nearly three feet in height, ere the middle of the next century. mounted singly, and set erect upon marble Being asked if he, like the rest of Ischia, pedestals. The horns were as emphatic lived in perpetual terror of earthquakes, and recognized a plea for good fortune as this happy, irresponsible man replied that the Madonnas. Some prefer to fix them he had other things to occupy him. Moreoutside the houses, one at each end of the over, he was firm in his belief that the roof; but my host used them as bedside part of the mountain in which his house amulets.
was chiselled could not be dislodged, Typhous is but a scurvy giant if he though Typhæus gave ever so mighty a cannot keep his sufferings to himself for heave. In 1883, Epomeo broke beneath a period, in acknowledgment of these di- him, and hurled its fragments down upon verse appeals for pity.
the ruins of Casamicciola. But the her. I have already mentioned Monte Epo mitage stood fast. Quoting some words meo. at least a century or two it has from the sole literary treasure he posbeen the custom in Ischia to keep a hermit sessed
- a ragged Visitors' Book - he on the top of this mountain, which looks might have said : “From the mountain's so steeply upon Casamicciola. The man height I contemplate the misery of mor. is worth seeing, if only to disabuse one of tals ;” though truly, to an energetic mind, the notion that a hermit is essentially, in his own unconscionable inactivity were a look and act, an ascetic. He is in fact a misery beyond all. strong, stout fellow, by no means devoted And yet there was something taking
about the man's simplicity. He was jubi. It was a breathless summer morn when lant as a child because he could add to I left Ischia, with a steely, unruffled sea. our luncheon on the mountain-top a wee From the deck of the steamer the white, bit of a bird he had shot that day. He purpled head of Epomeo and the green broiled it lightly over the charcoal, and vale at its base (with ruined Casamicciola served it in its blood. His vineyard was hidden from sight) were quite bewitching. not more than a stone's cast below him. The luncheon-carrier, Michael, had, with It grew a detestable wine, fit for none bu winning ingenuousness, the other day at a self-mortifying hermit. The toil it parting squeezed my hand between his afforded him; his flaccid thought about two brown palms, while he said, somewhat life and the nether world of mortals; the plaintively: "You will come again, will noontide bell, and his orisons, made up you not?” Here, too, by the steamer's the sum of his affairs. A stranger pico side, the dolorous landlord of the little nicking on his terrace (whence there is a hotel gave me farewell in like terms. sheer precipice) makes a gala day for him. Four bedrooms, and never a guest for a And he is charmed to show to such an week at a time! Six years ago, and twoone every spectacle of his domain, from score bedrooms besieged by applicants the morsels of skulls and locks of hair in for beds! The contrast is harrowing, the church's reliquary to his chill bed- Why does not a modern St. George (not chamber with its green, damp walls, and the a professor of seismology, but some valorbroad prospect of sea and land at his feet. ous free-lance of science) get at the fell
My landlord in Casamicciola condemned giant Typhæus, and slay him once and for this hermit as the liver of a disgraceful all? Such an one may be promised a. life. His may not be the life of much statue upon Epomeo in the stead of the potential good, but he would surely have hermitage and the hermit. more chance elsewhere to fall into yet deeper disgrace.
The other sights of Ischia are mainly of the rural kind. Over against the capital there is a stream of lava, still black, which
From Blackwood's Magazine. burst from the crater of Epomeo in 1302.
ALEXANDER WILLIAM KINGLAKE. Since that time earthquakes have been MR. KINGLAKE could scarcely be called the sole indication of subterranean activity a contributor to Blackwood, for he never in Ischia. On the south side of the island wrote in it but once, when a sentence there is less verdure. The mountain is which he had intended to be introductory here riven by several very steep ravines, to the narrative of an incident in the the white tufa of which glares intolerably French Revolution grew into a paper in the sunlight. One is confronted every highly characteristic of its writer. But where by caverns in the tufa, artificial, for more than thirty years he had been with padlocked gates to them. In these the close friend of the late and then of the caves the peasants store their wine. You present editor of this magazine, in which may buy fifty litres of mellow * Ischia his writings were frequently the subject bianco," thus cellared, for about fifty of discussion; and they have been the pence.
publishers of the successive volumes of Ischia is not more than twenty miles in his well-known history of the War in the circuit, and as it is furrowed by tracks in Crimea, the first of which appeared in all parts the tour of the isle exacts but a 1863 and the last in 1887; throughout day. I made this excursion on a stiff- which period their relations of business eared ass, with, for guide, a man who had and of friendship were close and constant. lost ten relations by the earthquake. Not. It is fitting, therefore, that these pages withstanding his wholesale bereavement, should contain some tribute to one who this poor fellow was quick to smile and leaves a name so eminent in literature, jest. Perhaps he had come all of a sudden and who lived on terms so intimate, not on that 28th July to the state of the philos. only with the conductors of this magazine, opher to whom life is but a farce, dashed but with many of their friends and conhere and there with the semblance of tributors. tragedy. Be that as it may, it was odd It is affirmed on excellent authority that to hear him tell of the finding and burial Kinglake was born, not as commonly in one heap of his wife and children, and stated in 1811, but in 1809. He went to his brothers and their wives and children, Cambridge in 1828, and was the contemmuch as if he were recounting a story porary there of Tennyson, Thackeray, from the “ Arabian Nights."
Monckton Milnes, and others who rose to