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Cornell University 

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Alps and Sanctuaries 

Alps and Sanctuaries 

Of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino 

(Op. 6) 
By Samuel Butler 

Author of "Erewhon," "Life and Habit," "The Way of All Flesh," etc. 

New and Enlarged Edition, with Author^ s Revisions 
and Index, and an Introduction by R. A. Streatfeild 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E,C. 



THE publication of a new and revised edition of " Alps and 
Sanctuaries " at a much reduced price and in a handier and 
more portable form than the original will, I hope, draw general 
attention to a book which has been undeservedly neglected. 
" Alps and Sanctuaries " has hitherto been the Cinderella of the 
Butler family.^ While her sisters, both elder and younger, have 
been steadily winning their way to high places at the feast, she 
has sat unrecognised and unhonoured in the ashes. For this, of 
course, the high price of the book, which was originally issued at 
a guinea, was largely responsible, as well as its unmanageable 
size and cumbrousness. But Time has revenges in his wallet for 
books as 4re\l as for men, and I cannot but believe that a new 
life is in store for one of the wisest, wittiest and tenderest of 
Butler's books. 

"Alps and Sanctuaries" originally appeared at a time (1881) 
when the circle of Butler's readers had shrunk to very narrow 
dimensions. "Erewhon" (1872) had astonished and delighted 
the literary world, but "The Fair Haven" (1873) had alienated 
the sympathies of the orthodox, and "Life and Habit" (1877) 
and its successors "Evolution, Old and New" (1879) and "Un- 
conscious Memory " (1880) had made him powerful and relentless 
enemies in the field of science. In 1881 Butler was, as he often 
termed himself, a literary pariah, and "Alps and Sanctuaries" 
was received for the most part with contemptuous silence or 
undisguised hostility. Now that Butler is a recognised classic, 
his twentieth-century readers may care to be reminded of the 
reception that was accorded to this — one of the most genial and 
least polemical of his works. Very few papers reviewed it at all, 
and in only four or five cases was it honoured with a notice more 
than a few lines long. 

Strange as it may seem, Butler's best friends were the Roman 
Catholics. T/ie Weekly Register praised " Alps and Sanctuaries " 
almost unreservedly, and The Tablet became positively lyrical 


6 Alps and Sanctuaries 

over it. The fact is that about this time Butler was dallying 
with visions of a rapprochement between the Church of Rome and 
the "advanced wing of the Broad Church party," to which he 
always declared that he belonged. In the second edition of 
"Evolution, Old and New," which was published in 1882, there 
is a remarkable chapter, entitled "Rome and Pantheism," in 
which Butler holds out an olive branch to the Vatican, and 
suggests that if Rome would make certain concessions with 
regard to the miraculous element of Christianity she might win 
the adherence of liberal-minded men, who are equally disgusted 
by the pretensions of scientists and the dissensions of Protestants. 

"Alps and Sanctuaries" contains nothing like a definite eireni- 
con, but it is pervaded by a genuine if somewhat vague sympathy 
for Roman institutions, which, emphasised as it is by some out- 
spoken criticism of Protestantism, will serve to explain the 
welcome that it received in Roman Catholic circles. Neverthe- 
less, one may venture to doubt whether Butler felt altogether at 
ease in the society of his new friends, and it was probably with 
rather mixed feelings that he read The Tablet's description of 
"Alps and Sanctuaries" as "a book that Wordsworth would have 
gloated over with delight." On the other hand, the compliment 
paid to his little discourse on the "wondrous efficacy of crosses and 
crossing," which the pious Tablet read in a devotional rather than a 
biological sense and characterised as " so very suggestive and 
moral that it might form part of a sermon," must have pleased 
him almost as much as The Eock's naif acceptance of " The Fair 
Haven " as a defence of Protestant orthodoxy. 

"Alps and Sanctuaries" is essentially a holiday book, and no 
one ever enjoyed a holiday more keenly than Butler. " When a 
man is in his office," he used to say, " he should be exact and 
precise, but his holiday is his garden, and too much precision 
here is a mistake." He acted up to his words, and in " Alps and 
Sanctuaries " we see him in his most unbuttoned mood, giving 
the rein to his high spirits and letting his fantastic humour carry 
him whither it would. Butler always spent his holidays in Italy, 
a country which he had known and loved from his earliest child- 
hood, and for which the passing years only increased his affection. 
Few Englishmen have ever studied her people, her landscape and 
her art with deeper sympathy and understanding, and she never 
received a sincerer tribute than the book which Butler dedicated 
to his " second country " as " a thank-offering for the happiness 
she has afforded me." 

Introduction 7 

Butler used to declare that he wrote his books so that he might 
have something to read in his old age, knowing what he liked 
much better than any one else could do. But though he cared 
little for contemporary popularity, no man valued intelligent 
appreciation more highly. He recorded in his " Note-books " with 
evident delight the remark made by a lady after reading "Alps 
and Sanctuaries " : " You seem to hear him speaking," adding, 
" I don't think I ever heard a criticism of my books which 
pleased me better." The story of another unsolicited testimonial 
I must give in his own words : 

"One day in the autumn of i886 I walked up to Piora from 
Airolo, returning the same day. At Piora I met a very nice 
quiet man whose name I presently discovered, and who, I have 
since lea,rned, is a well-known and most liberal employer of 
labour somewhere in the north of England. He told me that 
he had been induced to visit Piora by a book which had made a 
great impression upon him. He could not recollect its title, but 
it had made a great impression upon him; nor yet could he 
recollect the author's name, but the book had made a great 
impression upon him ; he could not remember even what else 
there was in the book ; the only thing he knew was that it had 
made a great impression upon him. 

" This is a good example of what is called a residuary impres- 
sion. Whether or no I told him that the book which had made 
such a great impression upon him was called ' Alps and Sanc- 
tuaries,' and that it had been written by the person he was 
addressing, I cannot tell. It would have been very like me 
to have blurted it all out and given him to understand how 
fortunate he had been in meeting me. This would be so fatally 
like me that the chances are ten to one that I did it ; but 1 have, 
thank Heaven, no recollection of sin in this respect, and have 
rather a strong impression that, for once in my life, I smiled to 
' myself and said nothing." 

Butler always remembered with satisfaction that " Alps and 
Sanctuaries " gained him the friendship of Dr. Mandell Creighton. 
In her biography of her husband, Mrs. Creighton mentions that 
the Bishop had been reading " Alps and Sanctuaries," which 
charmed him so much that he determined to visit some of the 
places described therein. On his return to England, Dr. 
Creighton wrote to Butler, telling him how much " Alps and 
Sanctuaries " had added to the pleasure of his trip, and begged 
him to come to Peterborough and pay him a visit. The story is 

8 Alps and Sanctuaries 

told in Butler's " Note-books," but I cannot resist the temptation 
to repeat it : 

" The first time that Dr. Creighton asked me to come down 
to Peterborough, I was a little doubtful whether to go or not. As 
usual, I consulted my good clerk Alfred, who said : 

" ' Let me have a look at his letter, sir.' 

" I gave him the letter, and he said : 

" ' I see, sir, there is a crumb of tobacco in it ; I think you 
may go.' 

" I went, and enjoyed myself very much. I should like to add 
that there are few men who have ever impressed me so pro- 
foundly and so favourably as Dr. Creighton. I have often seen 
him since, both at Peterborough and at Fulham, and like and 
admire him most cordially." 

" Alps and Sanctuaries " was published a few months before the 
opening of the St. Gothard tunnel in 1882. That event naturally 
made many and great changes in the Val Leventina, and we who 
know the valley only as a thoroughfare for shrieking smoking 
expresses, can scarcely realise its ancient peace in the days 
of which Butler wrote. But apart from the incursion of the 
railway, Butler's beloved valleys have changed but little since 
" Alps and Sanctuaries " was written. A few more roads have 
been made, and a few more hotels have been built. Butler's 
prediction to the effect that the next great change in locomotion 
in the Ticinese valleys " would have something to do with 
electricity" — a prediction which in 1881 was by no means so 
obvious as a twentieth-century reader might suppose — has been 
strikingly fulfilled. Electric railways now run up the Val Blenio 
from Biasca to Acquarossa, half-way to Olivone; up the Val 
Mesocco from Bellinzona to Mesocco, and from Locarno up the 
Val Maggia to Bignasco. Ere long they will doubtless penetrate 
the higher recesses of the valleys. Many of the " nice people " 
mentioned in " Alps and Sanctuaries " have passed away. Signer 
Dazio no longer reigns in Fusio ; his hotel is in other hands, 
" and from the sign is gone Sibylla's name." Signer Guglielmoni 
has long since fallen a victim to the rigours of the Alpine winter, 
which Butler so feelingly describes. At S. Michele, however, 
there are still some monks who remember Butler and a copy of 
" Alps and Sanctuaries," given by him to the Sanctuary, is one of 
their most cherished possessions. The lapse of thirty years has 
left S. Michele unaltered, so far as I could see a few years ago, 
save for the arm-chairs made out of clipped box-trees. These 

Introduction g 

have fallen grievously from their high estate as depicted on p. 103, 
and are now deplorably thin and ragged. 

I think that Butler must at one time have intended to bring out 
a riew edition of " Alps and Sanctuaries " — the so-called second 
edition published in 1882 by Mr. David Bogue being merely 
a re-issue of the original sheets with a new title-page — since he 
took the trouble to compile an elaborate and highly characteristic 
index, the manuscript of which is bound up in a copy of the 
so-called second edition now in my possession. This idea he 
seems to have abandoned, and he did not revise the text of the 
book, beyond correcting two or three misprints. He continued, 
however, to accumulate material for a possible sequel, and at his 
death he left a large mass of rough notes recording impressions of 
many holiday expeditions to various parts of Italy, in particular to 
his favourite Lombard and Ticinese valleys. Mr. Fasting Jones 
and I have examined these notes with great care, and from them 
Mr. Jones, who was, I need hardly say, Butler's constant com- 
panion both at home and abroad, and his collaborator in the 
original " Alps and Sanctuaries," has constructed one entirely new 
chapter, " Fusio Revisited," and made considerable additions to 
Chapter X. I have, in addition, borrowed two passages, relating 
respectively to Bellinzona (p. 198) and Varese (p. 257) from Butler's 
recently published "Note-books," and Mr. Jones has kindly 
allowed me to take the note on Medea Colleone and her passero 
solitario (p. 23) from his "Diary of a Journey through North 
Italy and Sicily." I have revised the original text of the book, 
into which some trifling errors had crept, and have completed the 
index by adding references to the new matter. I have also 
ventured to consign to an appendix the original Chapter IX, " Re- 
forms instituted at S. Michele in the year 1478," which contains 
a summary of certain documents relating to the Sanctuary. These 
are valuable to scholars and students, but are not likely to interest 
the ordinary reader, and I am following the suggestion of a friend 
in transplanting the chapter bodily to the end of the book. The 
illustrations, all save six which the reader will easily distinguish, 
are printed from the original Dawson-Process blocks, which are 
interesting examples of early photo-engraving work. 

Mr. Fifield's determination to make the present edition handy 
and portable has unfortunately compelled him to abandon Mr. 
Charles Gogin's design for the original cover, which requires a 
larger volume than would in the present case be convenient. 
Readers who propose to carry the book from S. Ambrogio up to 

lo Alps and Sanctuaries 

the Sanctuary of S. Michele will, I am sure, acquiesce in the 

My last words must be an expression of cordial thanks to Mr. 
Festing Jones, whose help and counsel have been invaluable to 
me in preparing the book for republication. 

May, 1913. R. A. Streatfeild. 

Author's Preface to First Edition 

I SHOULD perhaps apologise for publishing a work which 
professes to deal with the sanctuaries of Piedmont, and saying 
so little about the most important of them all — the Sacro Monte 
of Varallo. My excuse must be, that I found it impossible to 
deal with Varallo without making my book too long. Varallo 
requires a work to itself; I must, therefore, hope to return to it 
on another occasion. 

For the convenience of avoiding explanations, I have treated 
the events of several summers as though they belonged to only 
one. This can be of no importance to the reader, but as the 
work is chronologically inexact, I had better perhaps say so. 

The illustrations by Mr. H. F. Jones are on pages 95, 211, 225, 
238, 254, 260. The frontispiece and the illustrations on the title- 
page and on pages 261, 262 are by Mr. Charles Gogin. There are 
two drawings on pages 136, 137 by an Italian gentleman whose 
name I have unfortunately lost, and whose permission to insert 
them I have, therefore, been unable to obtain, and one on page 
138 by Signor Gaetano Meo. The rest are mine, except that all 
the figures in my drawings are in every case by Mr. Charles 
Gogin, unless when they are merely copied from frescoes or other 
sources. The two larger views of Oropa are chiefly taken from 
photographs. The rest are all of them from studies taken upon 
the spot. 

I must acknowledge the great obligations I am under to 
Mr. H. F. Jones as regards the letterpress no less than the 
illustrations ; I might almost say that the book is nearly as much 
his as mine, while it is only through the care which he and another 
friend have exercised in the revision of my pages that I am able 
to let them appear with some approach to confidence. 

November, i88r. 

Table of Contents 


Author's Preface to First Edition 
List of Illustrations 


II. Faido .... 


Prato .... 

IV. Rossura, Calonico . 
V. Calonico {continued) and Giornico 

'■' VI. PlORA .... 


VIII. S. MiCHELE {continued) 

IX. The North Italian Priesthood 

X. S. Ambrogio and Neighbourhood . 

XI. Lanzo .... 

XII. Considerations on the Decline of Italian Art 

XIII. Viu, Fucine, and S. Ignazio 

XIV. Sanctuary of Oropa 
XV. Oropa {continued) 

XVI. Graglia .... 
XVII. Soazza and the Valley of Mesocco 
XVIII. Mesocco, S. Bernardino, and S. Maria in 
XIX. The Mendrisiotto- . 






















Alps and Sanctuaries 




Sanctuary on Monte Bisbino 



A Day at the Cantine 

• 243 


Sacro Monte, Varese 



Angera and Arona 



Locarno . • 



Fusio ..... 



Fusio Revisited . . 


Appendix A. Wednesbury Cocking . 


Appendix B. Reforms instituted at S. Michelf 

IN the year 1478 . . . . 


Author's Index . . 


List of Illustrations 

Mortuary Chapel at Soazza (Etching) 
Sta. Maria della Neve 

Prato from near Dazio 

TiciNESE Barley-stacks 

Campo Santo at Calpiognia 



Prato, and Valley of St. Gothard 

Prato Church Porch, No. i 

Prato Church Porch, No. 2 

RossuRA Church 

RossuRA Church Porch 

RossuRA Church Porch in 1879 

Tengia, No. I . 

Tengia, No. 2 . 

Calonico Church, No. i 

Calonico Church, No. 2 

Main Doorway, S. Nicolao 

Interior of Old Church, Giornico 

Chapel of S. Carlo, Piora 

S. Michele from near Bussoleno 

S. Michele 

S. Michele from S. Pietro 

S. Michele, near view 

S. Michele, from Path to Avighana 

Main Entrance to the Sanctuary 

Steps Leading to the Church, No. i 

Steps Leading to the Church, No. 2 

Garden at the Sanctuary of S. Michele 

Inn at S. Ambrogio 

s. glorio comba di susa 

Casina DI Banda 
Votive Picture 
Medi/eval Tower at Lanzo 
Piazza at Lanzo 

























Alps and Sanctuaries 

Study by an Italian Amateur, No. i 
Study by an Italian Amateur, No. 2 
Study by a Self-taught Italian 
Paradiso ! Paradiso ! 
By an Italian Schoolboy 
Avogadro's View of S. Michele 
Funeral of Tom Moody 


Fresco near Ceres 

Viu Church 

FuciNE, near Viu 

FAgADB of the Sanctuary of Oropa 

Inner Court of Sanctuary of Oropa 

Chapels at Oropa 

Chapel ok S. Carlo at Graglia 

Sanctuary of Graglia 

SoAZZA Church 

Castle of Mesocco 

S. Cristoforo 

Fresco at Mesocco — March 

Fresco at Mesocco — April 

Fresco at Mesocco — May 

Fresco at Mesocco — August 

Approach to Sta. Maria 

Sta. Maria, Approach to Church 

Front View of Sta. Maria 

Top of Monte Bisbino 

Veduta del Monte Bisbino 

Table on Monte Bisbino 

Chapel of S. Nicolao 


Sacro Monte of Varese 

Sacro Monte of Varese, nearer view 

Terrace at the Sacro Monte, Varese 

Sacro Monte from above 

Castle of Angera 

Castle of Angera, from S. Quirico 

Terrace at Castle of Angera, No. i 

Terrace at Castle of Angera, No. 2 

Room in which S. Carlo Borromeo was 

Sacro Monte, Locarno, No. i . 

Sacro Monte, Locarno, No. 2 . 

Cloister at Sacro Monte, Locarno 

Fusio from the Cemetery 

Street View in Fusio 


Alps and Sanctuaries 

Chapter I 

MOST men will readily admit that the two poets 
who have the greatest hold over Englishmen are 
Handel and Shakespeare — for it is as a poet, a sympathiser 
with and renderer of aU estates and conditions whether 
of men or things, rather than as a mere musician, that 
Handel reigns supreme. There have been many who 
have known as much English as Shakespeare, and so, 
doubtless, there have been no fewer who have known 
as much music as Handel : perhaps Bach, probably 
Haydn, certainly Mozart ; as Ukely as not, many a 
known and unknown musician now living ; but the 
poet is not known by knowledge alone — not by gnosis 
only — but also, and in greater part, by the agape which 
makes him wish to steal men's hearts, and prompts him 
so to apply his knowledge' that he shall succeed. There 
has been no one to touch Handel as an observer of all 
that was observable, a lover of all that was loveable, a 
hater of all that was hateable, and, therefore, as a poet. 
Shakespeare loved not wisely but too well. Handel loved 
as well as Shakespeare, but more wisely. He is as much 
above Shakespeare as Shakespeare is above all others, 
B 17 

1 8 Alps and Sanctuaries 

except Handel himself ; he is no less lofty, impassioned, 
tender, and full alike of fire and love of play ; he is no 
less universal in the range of his sympathies, no less a 
master of expression and illustration than Shakespeare, 
and at the same time he is of robuster, stronger fibre, 
more easy, less introspective. Englishmen are of so 
mixed a race, so inventive, and so given to migration, 
that for many generations to come they are bound to be 
at times puzzled, and therefore introspective ; if they 
get their freedom at all they get it as Shakespeare "with 
a great sum," whereas Handel was " free born." Shake- 
speare sometimes errs and grievously, he is as one of his 
own best men " moulded out of faults," who " for the 
most become much more the better, for being a little 
bad ; " Handel, if he puts forth his strength at all, is 
unerring : he gains the maximum of effect with the 
minimum of effort. As Mozart said of him, " he beats 
us all in effect, when he chooses he strikes like a thunder- 
bolt." Shakespeare's strength is perfected in weakness ; 
Handel is the serenity and unself-consciousness of health 
itself. " There," said Beethoven on his deathbed, 
pointing to the works of Handel, " there — is truth." 
These, however, are details, the main point that will be 
admitted is that the average Englishman is more attracted 
by Handel and Shakespeare than by any other two men 
who have been long enough dead for us to have formed 
a fairly permanent verdict concerning them. We not 
only believe them to have been the best men familiarly 
known here in England, but we see foreign nations join 
us for the most part in assigning to them the highest 
place as Tenderers of emotion. 

It is always a pleasure to me to reflect that the coun- 
tries dearest to these two master spirits are those which 
are also dearest to myself, I mean England and Italy. 

Introduction 1 9 

Both of them Hved mainly here in London, but both of 
them turned mainly to Italy when realising their dreams. 
Handel's music is the embodiment of all the best Italian 
music of his time and before him, assimilated and repro- 
duced with the enlargements and additions suggested by 
his own genius. He studied in Italy ; his subjects for 
many years were almost exclusively from Italian sources ; 
the very language of his thoughts was Italian, and to the 
end of his life he would have composed nothing but Italian 
operas, if the English public would have supported him. 
His spirit flew to Italy, but his home was London. So also 
Shakespeare turned to Italy more than to any other 
country for his subjects. Roughly, he wrote nineteen 
Italian, or what to him were virtually Italian plays, to 
twelve English, one Scotch, one Danish, three French, 
and two early British. 

But who does not turn to Italy who has the chance of 
doing so ? What, indeed, do we not owe to that most 
lovely and loveable country ? Take up a Bank of England 
note and the Italian langoiage will be found still lingering 
upon it. It is signed " for Bank of England and Comp*." 
{Compagnia), not " Comp''." Our laws are Roman in 
their origin. Our music, as we have seen, and our painting 
comes from Italy. Our very religion till a few hundred 
years ago found its headquarters, not in London nor in 
Canterbury, but in Rome. What, in fact, is there which 
has not filtered through Italy, even though it arose else- 
where ?- On the other hand, there are infinite attractions 
in London. I have seen many foreign cities, but I know 
none so commodious, or, let me add, so beautiful. I^know 
of nothing in any foreign city equal to the view down 
Fleet Street, walking along the north side from the 
corner of Fetter Lane. It is often said that this has been 
spoiled by the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway 

20 Alps and Sanctuaries 

bridge over Ludgate Hill ; I think, however, the effect 
is more imposing now than it was before the bridge was 
built. Time has already softened it ; it does not obtrude 
itself ; it adds greatly to the sense of size, and makes us 
doubly aware of the movement of life, the colossal circula- 
tion to which London owes so much of its impressiveness. 
We gain more by this than we lose by the infraction of 
some pedant's canon about the artistically correct inter- 
section of right lines. Vast as is the world below the 
bridge, there is a vaster still on high, and when trains are 
passing, the steam from the engine will throw the dome of 
St. Paul's into the clouds, and make it seem as though 
there were a commingling of earth and some far-off 
mysterious palace in dreamland. I am not very fond of 
Milton, but I admit that he does at times put me in mind 
of Fleet Street. 

While on the subject of Fleet Street, I would put in a 
word in favour of the much-abused griffin. The whole 
monument is one of the handsomest in London. As for 
its being an obstruction, I have discoursed with a large 
number of omnibus conductors on the subject, and am 
satisfied that the obstruction is imaginary. 

When, again, I think of Waterloo Bridge, and the 
huge wide-opened jaws of those two Behemoths, the 
Cannon Street and Charing Cross railway stations, I am 
not sure that the prospect here is not even finer than 
in Fleet Street. See how they belch forth puffing trains 
as the breath of their nostrils, gorging and disgorging 
incessantly those human atoms whose movement is 
the hfe of the city. How Hke it all is to some great 
bodily mechanism of which the people are the blood. 
And then, above all, see the ineffable St. Paul's. I was 
once on Waterloo Bridge after a heavy thunderstorm in 
summer. A thick darkness was upon the river and the 

Introduction 2 1 

buildings upon the north side, but just below I could see 
the water hurrying onward as in an abyss, dark, gloomy, 
and mysterious. On a level with the eye there was an 
absolute blank, but above, the sky was clear, and out of 
the gloom the dome and towers of St. Paul's rose up 
sharply, looking higher than they actually were, and as 
though they rested upon space. 

Then as for the neighbourhood within, we will say, a 
radius of thirty miles. It is one of the main businesses 
of my life to explore this district. I have walked several 
thousands of miles in doing so, and I mark where I have 
been in red upon the Ordnance map, so that I may see 
at a glance what parts I know least well, and direct my 
attention to them as soon as possible. For ten months in 
the year I continue my walks in the home counties, every 
week adding some new village or farmhouse to my list of 
things worth seeing ; and no matter where else I may 
have been, I find a charm in the villages of Kent, Surrey, 
and Sussex, which in its way I know not where to rival. 

I have ventured to say the above, because during the 
remainder of my book I shall be occupied almost exclu- 
sively with Italy, and wish to make it clear that my 
Italian rambles are taken not because I prefer Italy to 
England, but as by way of parergon, or by-work, as every 
man should have both his profession and his hobby. I 
have chosen Italy as my second country, and would 
dedicate this book to her as a thank-offering for the 
happiness she has afforded me. 

Chapter II 

FOR some years past I have paid a visit of greater or 
less length to Faido in the Canton Ticino, which 
though politically Swiss is as much Italian in character 
as any part of Italy. I was attracted to this place, in 
the first instance, chiefly because it is one of the easiest 
places on the Italian side of the Alps to reach from 
England. This merit it will soon possess in a still greater 
degree, for when the St. Gothard tunnel is open, it will be 
possible to leave London, we will say, on a Monday morn- 
ing and be at Faido by six or seven o'clock the next 
evening, just as one can now do with S. Ambrogio on the 
line between Susa and Turin, of which more hereafter. 

True, by making use o^ the tunnel one will miss the 
St. Gothard scenery, but I would not, if I were the reader, 
lay this too much to heart. Mountain scenery, when one 
is staying right in the middle of it, or when one is on foot, 
is one thing, and mountain scenery as seen from the top 
of a diligence very likely smothered in dust is another. 
Besides I do not think he will like the St. Gothard scenery 
very much. 

It is a pity there is no mental microscope to show us 
our likes and dislikes while they are yet too vague to be 
made out easily. We are so apt to let imaginary likings 
run away with us, as a person at the far end of Cannon 
Street railway platform, if he expects a friend to join him, 


Faido 2 3 

will see that friend in half the impossible people who are 
coming through the wicket. I once began an essay on 
" The Art of Knowing what gives one Pleasure," but 
soon found myself out of the diatonic with it, in all 
manner of strange keys, amid a maze of metaphysical 
accidentals and double and treble flats, so I left it alone 
as a question not worth the trouble it seemed likely to 
take in answering. It is like everything else, if we much 
want to know our own mind on any particular point, 
we may be trusted to develop the faculty which will 
reveal it to us, and if we do not greatly care about know- 
ing, it does not much matter if we remain in ignorance. 
But in few cases can we get at our permanent liking 
without at least as much experience as a fishmonger 
must have had before he can choose at once the best 
bloater out of twenty which, to inexperienced eyes, seem 
one as good as the other. Lord Beaconsfield was a thor- 
ough Erasmus Darwinian when he said so well in " Endy- 
mion " : " There is nothing like wiU ; everybody can do 
exactly what they like in this world, provided they really 
like it. Sometimes they think they do, but in general it's 
a mistake."* If this is as true as I believe it to be, " the 
longing after immortality," though not indeed much of 
an argument in favour of our being immortal at the 
present moment, is perfectly sound as a reason for con- 
cluding that we shall one day develop immortality, if our 
desire is deep enough and lasting enough. As for knowing 
whether or not one likes a picture, which under the present 
sesthetic reign of terror is de rigueur, I once heard a man 
say the only test was to ask one's self whether one would 
care to look at it if one was quite sure that one was alone ; 
I have never been able to get beyond this test with the 
St. Gothard scenery, and applying it to the Devil's Bridge, 

* Vol. iii. p. 300. 

24 Alps and Sanctuaries 

I should say a stay of about thirty seconds would be 
enough for me. I daresay Mendelssohn would have 
stayed at least two hours at the Devil's Bridge, but then 
he did stay such a long while before things. 

The coming out from the short tunnel on to the plain 
of Andermatt does certainly give the pleasure of a surprise. 
I shall never forget coming out of this tunnel one day late 
in November, and finding the whole Andermatt valley in 
brilliant sunshine, though from Fliielen up to the Devil's 
Bridge the clouds had hung heavy and low. It was one 
of the most striking transformation scenes imaginable. 
The top of the pass is good, and the Hotel Prosa a com- 
fortable inn to stay at. I do not know whether this house 
will be discontinued when the railway is opened, but 
understand that the proprietor has taken the large hotel 
at Piora, which I will speak of later on. The descent on 
the Italian side is impressive, and so is the point where 
sight is first caught of the valley below Airolo, but on the 
whole I cannot see that the St. Gothard is better than the 
S. Bernardino on the Italian side, or the Lukmanier, 
near the top, on the German ; this last is one of the most 
beautiful things imaginable, but it should be seen by one 
who is travelling towards German Switzerland, and in a 
fine summer's evening light. I was never more impressed 
by the St. Gothard than on the occasion already referred 
to when I crossed it in winter. We went in sledges from 
Hospenthal to Airolo, and I remember thinking what 
splendid fellows the postillions and guards and men who 
helped to shift the luggage on to the sledges, looked ; 
they were so ruddy and strong and full of health, as indeed 
they might well be — living an active outdoor life in 
such an air ; besides, they were picked men, for the 
passage in winter is never without possible dangers. It 
was dehghtful travelling in the sledge. The sky was of 

Faido 25 

a deep blue ; there was not a single cloud either in sky or 
on mountain, but the snow was already deep, and had 
covered, everything beneath its smooth and heaving 
bosom. There was no breath of air, but the cold was in- 
tense ; presently the sun set upon all except the higher 
peaks, and the broad shadows stole upwards. Then 
there was a rich crimson flush upon the mountain tops, 
and after this a pallor cold and ghastly as death. If he 
is fortunate in his day, I do not think any one will be 
sorry to have crossed the St. Gothard in mid- winter ; but 
one pass will do as well as another. 

Airolo, at the foot of the pass on the Italian side, 
was, till lately, a quiet and beautiful village, rising 
from among great green slopes, which in early summer 
are covered with innumerable flowers. The place, 
however, is now quite changed. The railway has turned 
the whole Val Leventina topsy-turvy, and altered it 
almost beyond recognition. When the line is finished 
and the workmen have gone elsewhere, things will get 
right again ; but just now there is an explosiveness 
about the valley which puzzles one who has been familiar 
with its former quietness. Airolo has been especially 
revolutionised, being the headquarters for the works 
upon the Italian side of the great St. Gothard tunnel, as 
Goschenen is for those on the German side ; besides this, 
it was burnt down two or three years ago, hardly one of 
the houses being left standing, so that it is now a new 
town, and has lost its former picturesqueness, but it will 
be not a bad place to stay at as soon as the bustle of the 
works has subsided, and there is a good hotel — the Hotel 
Airolo. It lies nearly 4000 feet above the sea, so that even 
in summer the air is cool. There are plenty of deUghtful 
walks — to Piora, for example, up the Val Canaria, and to 


Alps and Sanctuaries 

After leaving Airolo the road descends rapidly for a few 
hundred feet and then more slowly for four or five kilo- 
metres to Piotta. Here the first signs of the Italian spirit 
appear in the wood carving of some of the houses. It is 
with these houses that I always consider myself as in Italy 
again. Then come Ronco on the mountain side to the 
left, and Quinto ; all the way the pastures are thickly 
covered with cowslips, even finer than those that grow on 
Salisbury Plain. A few kilometres farther on and sight is 
caught of a beautiful green hill with a few natural terraces 


upon it and a flat top — rising from amid pastures, and 
backed by higher hills as green as itself. On the top of 
this hill there stands a white church with an elegant 
Lombard campanile — the campanile left unwhitewashed. 
The whole forms a lovely little bit of landscape such 
as some old Venetian painter might have chosen as a 
background for a Madonna. 

This place is called Prato. After it is passed the road 
enters at once upon the Monte Piottino gorge, which is 
better than the Devil's Bridge, but not so much to my 
taste as the auriculas and rhododendrons which grow 
upon the rocks that flank it. The peep, however, at the 

Faido 2 7 

hamlet of Vigera, caught through the opening of the 
gorge, is very nice. Soon after crossing the second of the 
Monte Piottino bridges the first chestnuts are reached, 
or rather were so till a year ago, when they were all cut 
down to make room for some construction in connection 
with the railway. A couple of kilometres farther on and 
mulberries and occasional fig-trees begin to appear. On 
this we find ourselves at Faido, the first place upon the 
Italian side which can be called a town, but which after 
all is hardly more than a village. 

Faido is a picturesque old place. It has several houses 
dated the middle of the sixteenth century ; and there is 
one, formerly a convent, close to the Hotel dell' Angelo, 
which must be still older. There is a brewery where 
excellent beer is made, as good as that of Chiavenna — 
and a monastery where a few monks still continue to 
reside. The town is 2365 feet above the sea, and is never 
too hot even in the height of summer. The Angelo is the 
principal hotel of the town, and will be found thoroughly 
comfortable and in all respects a desirable place to stay at. 
I have stayed there so often, and consider the whole 
family of its proprietor so much among the number of my 
friends, that I have no hesitation in cordially recommend- 
ing the house. 

Other attractions I do not know that the actual town 
possesses, but the neighbourhood is rich. Years ago, in 
travelling by the St. Gothard road, I had noticed the 
many little villages perched high up on the sides of the 
mountain, from one to two thousand feet above the river, 
and had wondered what sort of places they would be. 
I resolved, therefore, after a time to make a stay at Faido 
and go up to all of them. I carried out my intention, 
and there is not a village nor fraction of a village in the 
Val Leventina from Airolo to Biasca which I have not 

2 8 Alps and Sanctuaries 

inspected. I never tire of them, and the only regret I feel 
concerning them is, that the greater number are in- 
accessible except on foot, so that I do not see how I shall be 
able to reach them if I live to be old. These are the places 
of which I do find myself continually thinking when I am 
away from them. I may add that the Val Leventina is 
much the same as every other subalpine valley on the 
Italian side of the Alps that I have yet seen. 

I had no particular aversion to German Switzerland 
before I knew the Italian side of the Alps. On the con- 
trary, I was under the impression that I liked German 
Switzerland almost as much as I liked Italy itself, but 
now I can look at German Switzerland no longer. As 
soon as I see the water going down Rhinewards I hurry 
back to London. I was unwillingly compelled to take 
pleasure in the first hour and a half of the descent from 
the top of the Lukmanier towards Disentis, but this is 
only a lipping over of the brimfulness of Italy on to the 
Swiss side. 

The first place I tried from Faido was Mairengo — ^where 
there is the oldest church in the valley — a church older 
even than the church of St. Nicolao of Giornico. There 
is little of the original structure, but the rare peculiarity 
remains that there are two high altars side by side. 

There is a fine half-covered timber porch to the church. 
These porches are rare, the only others like it I know of 
being at Prato, Rossura, and to some extent Cornone. In 
each of these cases the arrangement is different, the only 
agreement being in the having an outer sheltered place, 
from which the church is entered instead of opening 
directly on to the churchyard. Mairengo is full of good 
bits, and nestles among magnificent chestnut-trees. From 
hence I went to Osco, about 3800 feet above the sea, 
and 1430 above Faido. It was here I first came to 



understand the purpose of certain high poles with cross 
bars to them which I had already seen elsewhere. They 
are for drying the barley on ; as soon as it is cut it is 
hung up on the cross bars and secured in this way from 
the rain, but it is obvious this can only be done when 
cultivation is on a small scale. These rascane, as they are 
called, are a feature of the Val Leventina, and look very 
well when they are full of barley. 

/^^I'tyTi'*' ^c 



From Osco I tried to coast along to Calpiognia, but was 
warned that the path was dangerous, and found it to be 
so. I therefore again descended to Mairengo, and re- 
ascended by a path which went straight up behind the 
village. After a time I got up to the level of Calpiognia, 
or nearly so, and found a path through pine woods which 
led me across a torrent in a ravine to Calpiognia itself. 
This path is very beautiful. While on it I caught sight 
of a lovely village nestling on a plateau that now showed 
itself high up on the other side the valley of the Ticino, 

30 Alps and Sanctuaries 

perhaps a couple of miles off as the crow flies. This I 
found upon inquiry to be Dalpe ; above Dalpe rose pine 
woods and pastures ; then the loftier alpi, then rugged 
precipices, and above all the Dalpe glacier roseate with 
sunset. I was enchanted, and it was only because night 
was coming on, and I had a long way to descend before 
getting back to Faido, that I could get myself away. I 


passed through Calpiognia, and though the dusk was 
deepening, I could not forbear from pausing at the 
Campo Santo just outside the village. I give a sketch 
taken by daylight, but neither sketch nor words can give 
any idea of the pathos of the place. When I saw it first 
it was in the month of June, and the rank dandelions 
were in seed. Wild roses in full bloom, great daisies. 



and the never-failing salvia ran riot among the graves. 
Looking over the churchyard itself there were the purple 
mountains of Biasca and the valley of the Ticino some 
couple of thousand feet below. There was no sound save 
the subdued but ceaseless roar of the Ticino, and the 
Piumogna. Involuntarily I found the following passage 
from the " Messiah " sounding in my ears, and felt as 
though Handel, who in his travels as a young man doubt- 
less saw such places, might have had one of them in his 
mind when he wrote the divine music which he has 
wedded to the words " of them that sleep."* 


— 9-m — f-* — ' — I — — *— ^ — ^ — I — i — I — ^ 










^ p f 
I I I 





o. • 

»jf^ f^f \ -*T»U-' M 


f r ^ f r ^ 



" I know that my Redeemer liveth." — " Messiah." 

32 Alps and Sanctuaries 

Or again : * 


-^-^ ' ^ ■ * 












\^^ nTy-^^^ . 






- f — r3~ 

From Calpiognia I came down to Primadengo, and 
thence to Faido. 

Suites de Pi^es, set i., prelude to No. 8. 

Chapter III 

Primadengo, Calpiognia, Dalpe, Cornone, 
and Prato 

NEXT morning I thought I would go up to Calpiognia 
again. It was Sunday. When I got up to Prima- 
dengo I saw no one, and heard nothing, save always the 
sound of distant waterfalls ; all was spacious and full of 
what Mr. Ruskin has called a " great peacefulness of 
light." The village was so quiet that it seemed as though 
it were deserted ; after a minute or so, however, I heard 
a cherry fall, and looking up, saw the trees were full of 
people. There they were, crawling and lolling about on 
the boughs like caterpillars, and gorging themselves with 
cherries. They spoke not a word either to me or to one 
another. They were too happy and goodly to make a 
noise ; but they lay about on the large branches, and ate 
and sighed for content and ate till they could eat no 
longer. Lotus eating was a rough nerve-jarring business 
in comparison. They were hke saints and evangelists 
by Filippo Lippi. Again the rendering of Handel came 
into my mind, and I thought of how the goodly fellowship 
of prophets praised God.* 

* Dettingen Te Deum. 
C 35 

34 Alps and Sanctuaries 

-*-n — ' ^'-a — a , * *- -^-M^^«-» — i — r-*-r 













«s *5 — sr^ I I i p I -*-P •-• 







nl — 1_, d 

-&-J: -1 , ' ' i-,-r»-J — * » J^ , i J M I ' J -H--1 

y-\ — t 

-< lT" 




» ' g 




* ! ! * 


And how again in some such another quiet ecstasy the 
muses sing about Jove's altar in the " Allegro and 



Here is a sketch of Primadengo Church— looking 
over it on to the other side the Ticino, but I could not get 
the cherry-trees nor cherry-eaters. 

On leaving Primadengo I went on to Calpiognia, and 
there too I found the children's faces all purple with cherry 
juice ; thence I ascended till I got to a monte, or collection 
of chalets, about 5680 feet above the sea. It was deserted 


at this season. I mounted farther and reached an alpe, 
where a man and a boy were tending a mob of calves. 
Going still higher, I at last came upon a small lake close 
to the top of the range : I find this lake given in the 
map as about 7400 feet above the sea. Here, being 
more than 5000 feet above Faido, I stopped and 

I have spoken of a monte and of an alpe. An alpe, or alp, 
is not, as so many people in England think, a snowy 

36 Alps and Sanctuaries 

mountain. Mont Blanc and the Jungfrau, for example, 
are not alps. They are mountains with alps upon 

An alfe is a tract of the highest summer pasturage just 
below the snow-line, and only capable of being grazed 
for two or three months in every year. It is held as 
common land by one or more villages in the immediate 
neighbourhood, and sometimes by a single individual to 
whom the village has sold it. A few men and boys 
attend the whole herd, whether of cattle or goats, and 
make the cheese, which is apportioned out among the 
owners of the cattle later on. The pigs go up to be 
fattened on whey. The cheese is not commonly made at 
the alpe, but as soon as the curd has been pressed clear of 
whey, it is sent down on men's backs to the village to be 
made into cheese. Sometimes there will be a little hay 
grown on an alpe, as at Gribbio and in Piora ; in this 
case there will be some chalets built, which wUl be 
inhabited for a few weeks and left empty the rest of the 

The monte is the pasture land immediately above the 
highest enclosed meadows and below the alpe. The 
cattle are kept here in spring and autumn before and 
after their visit to the alpe. The monte has many houses, 
dairies, and cowhouses, — being almost the paese, or 
village, in miniature. ■ It will always have its chapel, and 
is inhabited by so considerable a number of the villagers, 
for so long a time both in spring and autumn, that they 
find it worth while to make themselves more comfortable 
than is necessary for the few who make the short summer 
visit to the alpe. 

Every inch of the ascent was good, but the descent 
was even better on account of the views of the Dalpe 
glacier on the other side the Ticino, towards which 

Dalpe 37 

one's back is turned as one ascends. All day long the 
villages of Dalpe and Cornone had been tempting me, 
so I resolved to take them next day. This I did, crossing 
the Ticino and following a broad weU-beaten path which 
ascends the mountains in a southerly direction. I found 
the rare English fern Woodsia hyperborea growing in great 

.-"'{■r '',,-» '^ 

I'jV.- .,H"'''il':.$''iVr 


i^'Jf-l' P^Ac^ 

luxuriance on the rocks between the path and the river. 
I saw some fronds fully six inches in length. I also found 
one specimen of Asplenium alter nifolium, which, however, 
is abundant on the other side the valley, on the walls that 
flank the path between Primadengo and Calpiognia, and 
elsewhere. Woodsia also grows on the roadside walls near 
Airolo, but not so fine as at Faido. I have often looked 
for it in other subalpine valleys of North Italy and the 
Canton Ticino, but have never happened to light upon it. 

38 Alps andr Sanctuaries 

About three or four hundred feet above the river, 
under some pines, I saw a string of ants crossing and re- 
crossing the road ; I have since seen these ants every year 
in the same place. In one part I almost think the stone 
is a little worn with the daily passage and repassage of 
so many thousands of tiny feet, but for the most part it 
certainly is not. Half-an-hour or so after crossing the 
string of ants, one passes from under the pine-trees into 
a grassy meadow, which in spring is decked with all 
manner of Alpine flowers ; after crossing this, the old 
St. Gothard road is reached, which passed by Prato and 
Dalpe, so as to avoid the gorge of the Monte Piottino. This 
road is of very great antiquity, and has been long disused, 
except for local purposes ; for even before the carriage 
road over the St. Gothard was finished in 1827, there was 
a horse track through the Monte Piottino. In another 
twenty minutes or so, on coming out from a wood of 
willows and alders, Dalpe is seen close at hand after a 
walk of from an hour-and-a-half to two hours from 

Dalpe is rather more than 1500 feet above Faido, 
and is therefore nearly 4000 feet above the sea. It is 
reckoned a bel faese, inasmuch as it has a little tolerably 
level pasture and tillable land near it, and a fine alpe. 
This is how the wealth of a village is reckoned. The 
Italians set great store by a little bit of bella fianura, or 
level ground ; to them it is as precious as a hill or rock is 
to a Londoner out for a holiday. The peasantry are as 
blind to the beauties of rough unmanageable land as Peter 
Bell was to those of the primrose with a yellow brim (I 
quote from memory). The people complain of the 
climate of Dalpe, the snow not going off before the end of 
March or beginning of April. No climate, they say, should 
be^colder than that of Faido ; barley, however, and 

Dalpe 39 

potatoes do very well at Dalpe, and nothing can exceed 
the hay crops. A good deal of the hay is sent down to 
Faido on men's backs or rather on their heads, for the 
road is impracticable even for sledges. It is astonishing 
what a weight the men wiU bear upon their heads, and the 
rate at which they will come down while loaded. An 
average load is four hundredweight. The man is hardly 
visible beneath his burden, which looks like a good big 
part of an ordinary EngUsh haystack. With this weight 
on his head he will go down rough places almost at a run 
and never miss his footing. The men generally carry the 
hay down in threes and fours together for company. 
They look distressed, as well they may : every muscle is 
strained, and it is easy to see that their powers are being 
taxed to their utmost limit ; it is better not even to say 
good-day to them when they are thus loaded ; they have 
enough to attend to just then ; nevertheless, as soon as 
they have deposited their load at Faido they will go up 
to Dalpe again or Calpiognia, or wherever it may be, for 
another, and bring it down without resting. Two such 
journeys are reckoned enough for one day. This is how 
the people get their corfo di legno e gamba di ferro — 
" their bodies of wood and legs of iron." But I think they 
rather overdo it. 

Talking of legs, as I went through the main street 
of Dalpe an old lady of about sixty-five stopped me, and 
told me that while gathering her winter store of firewood 
she had had the misfortune to hurt her leg. I was very 
sorry, but I failed to satisfy her ; the more I sympathised 
in general terms, the more I felt that something further 
was expected of me. I went on trying to do the civil 
thing, when the old lady cut me short by saying it would 
be much better if I were to see the leg at once ; so she 
showed it me in the street, and there, sure enough, close 

4© Alps and Sanctuaries 

to the groin there was a swelhng. Again I said how sorry 
I was, and added that perhaps she ought to show it to a 
medical man. " But aren't you a medical man ? " said 
she in an alarmed manner. " Certainly not," replied I. 
" Then why did you let me show you my leg ? " said she 
indignantly, and pulling her clothes down, the poor old 
woman began to hobble off; presently two others joined 
her, and I heard hearty peals of laughter as she recounted 
her story. A stranger visiting these out-of-the-way villages 
is almost certain to be mistaken for a doctor. What 
business, they say to themselves, can any one else have 
there, and who in his senses would dream of visiting them 
for pleasure ? This old lady had rushed to the usual 
conclusion, and had been trying to get a little advice 

Above Dalpe there is a path through the upper valley 
of the Piumogna, which leads to the glacier whence the 
river comes. The highest peak above this upper valley 
just turns the 10,000 feet, but I was never able to find out 
that it has a name, nor is there a name marked in the 
Ordnance map of the Canton Ticino. The valley promises 
well, but I have not been to its head, where at about 7400 
feet there is a small lake. Great quantities of crystals are 
found in the mountains above Dalpe. Some people make 
a living by collecting these, from the higher parts of the 
ranges where none but born mountaineers and chamois 
can venture ; many, again, emigrate to Paris, London, 
America, or elsewhere, and return either for a month 
or two, or sometimes for a permanency, having become 
rich. In Comone there is one large white new house 
belonging to a man who has made his fortune near Como, 
and in all these villages there are similar houses. From 
the Val Leventina and the Val Blenio, but more especially 
from this last, very large numbers come to London, while 

Prato 4 1 

hardly fewer go to America. Signor Gatti, the great ice 
merchant, came from the Val Blenio. 

I once found the words, " Tommy, make room for your 
uncle," on a chapel outside the walls of one very quiet 
httle upland hamlet. The writing was in a child's scrawl, 
and in hke fashion with all else that was written on the 
same wall. I should have been much surprised, if I had 
not already found out how many families return to these 
parts with children to whom English is the native language. 
Many as are the villages in the Canton Ticino in which I 
have sat sketching for hours together, I have rarely done 
so without being accosted sooner or later by some one 
who could speak Enghsh, either with an American 
accent or without it. It is curious at some out-of-the-way 
place high up among the mountains, to see a lot of 
children at play, and to hear one of them shout out, 
" Marietta, if you do that again, I'll go and tell mother." 
One English word has become universally adopted by the 
Ticinesi themselves. They say " waitee " just as we 
should say " wait," to stop some one from going away. 
It is abhorrent to them to end a word with a consonant, 
so they have added " ee," but there can be no doubt 
about the origin of the word.* 

When we bear in mind the tendency of any language, 
if it once attains a certain predominance, to supplant 

* In the index that Butler prepared in view of a possible second 
edition of Alps and Sanctuaries occurs the following entry under the 
heading " Waitee " : " All wrong ; ' waitee ' is ' ohfi, ti.' " He was 
subsequently compelled to abandon this eminently plausible ety- 
mology, for his friend the Avvocato Negri of Casale - Monferrato 
told him that the mysterious " waitee " is actually a word in the 
Ticinese dialect, and, if it were written, would appear as " vuaitee." 
. It means " stop " or " look here," and is used to attract attention. 
Butler used to couple this Uttle mistake of his with another that he 
made in 2'he Authoress of the Odyssey, when he said, " Scheria means 
Jutland — a piece of land jutting out into the sea." Jutland, on the 
contrary, means the land of the Jutes, and has no more to do with 
jutting than " waitee " has to do with waiting. — R. A. S. 

42 Alps and Sanctuaries 

all others, and when we look at the map of the world 
and see the extent now in the hands of the two English- 
speaking nations, I think it may be prophesied that the 
language in which this book is written will one day be 
almost as familiar to the greater number of Ticinesi 
as their own. 

I may mention one other expression which, though 
not derived from English, has a curious analogy to an 
Enghsh usage. When the beautiful children with names 
like Handel's operas come round one while one is sketch- 
ing, some one of them will assuredly before long be heard 
to whisper the words " Tira giu," or as children say when 
they come round one in England, "He is drawing it 
down." The fundamental idea is, of course, that the 
draughtsman drags the object which he is drawing away 
from its position, and " transfers " it, as we say by the 
same metaphor, to his paper, as St. Cecilia " drew an angel 
down " in " Alexander's Feast." 

A good walk from Dalpe is to the Alpe di Campolungo 
and Fusio, but it is better taken from Fusio. A very 
favourite path with me is the one leading conjointly 
from Cornone and Dalpe to Prato. The view up the 
valley of the St. Gothard looking down on Prato is fine ; 
I give a sketch of it taken five years ago before the railway 
had been begun. 

The little objects looking hke sentry boxes that go all 
round the church contain rough modern frescoes, repre- 
senting, if I remember rightly, the events attendant upon 
the Crucifixion. These are on a small scale what the 
chapels on the sacred mountain of Varallo are on a large 
one. Small single oratories are scattered about all over 
the Canton Ticino, and indeed everywhere in North Italy 
by the roadside, at all halting-places, and especially at the 
crest of any more marked ascent, where the tired wayfarer. 



probably heavy laden, might be inclined to say a naughty 
word or two if not checked. The people like them, and 
miss them when they come to England. They sometimes 
do what the lower animals do in confinement when pre- 
cluded from habits they are accustomed to, and put up 
with strange makeshifts by way of substitute. I once 
saw a poor Ticinese woman kneeling in prayer before a 

mm^ ^s^m^^mm M 


dentist's show-case in the Hampstead Road ; she doubt- 
less mistook the teeth for the rehcs of some saint. I am 
afraid she was a little like a hen sitting upon a chalk egg, 
but she seemed quite contented. 

Which of us, indeed, does not sit contentedly enough 
upon chalk eggs at times ? And what would life be but 
for the power to do so ? We do not sufficiently realise 
the part which illusion has played in our development. 

44 Alps and Sanctuaries 

One of the prime requisites for evolution is a certain 
power for adaptation to varying circumstances, that is to 
say, of plasticity, bodily and mental. But the power of 
adaptation is mainly dependent on the power of thinking 
certain new things sufficiently like certain others to 
which we have been accustomed for us not to be too 
much incommoded by the change — upon the power, in 
fact, of mistaking the new for the old. The power of 
fusing ideas (and through ideas, structures) depends upon 
the power of confusing them ; the power to confuse 
ideas that are not very unlike, and that are presented 
to us in immediate sequence, is mainly due to the fact 
of the impetus, so to speak, which the mind has upon 
it. We always, I believe, make an effort to see every 
new object as a repetition of the object last before us. 
Objects are so varied, and present themselves so rapidly, 
that as a general rule we renounce this effort too promptly 
to notice it, but it is always there, and it is because of it 
that we are able to mistake, and hence to evolve new 
mental and bodily developments. Where the effort is 
successful, there is illusion ; where nearly successful but 
not quite, there is a shock and a sense of being puzzled — • 
more or less, as the case may be ; where it is so obviously 
impossible as not to be pursued, there is no perception of 
the effort at all. 

Mr. Locke has been greatly praised for his essay upon 
human understanding. An essay on human mistmder- 
standing should be no less interesting and important. 
Illusion to a small extent is one of the main causes, if 
indeed it is not the main cause, of progress, but it must 
be upon a small scale. All abortive speculation, whether 
commercial or philosophical, is based upon it, and much 
as we may abuse such speculation, we are, all of us, its 



Leonardo da Vinci says that Sandro Botticelli spoke 
slightingly of landscape-painting, and called it "but a 
vain study, since by throwing a sponge impregnated 
with various colours against a wall, it leaves some spots 
upon it, which may appear like a landscape." Leonardo 
da Vinci continues : " It is true that a variety of com- 


positions may be seen in such spots according to the 
disposition of mind with which they are considered ; 
such as heads of men, various animals, battles, rocky 
scenes, seas, clouds, words, and the like. It may be 
compared to the sound of bells which may seem to say 
whatever we choose to imagine. In the same manner 
these spots may furnish hints for composition, though 

46 Alps and Sanctuaries 

they do not teach us how to finish any particular part."* 
No one cah hate drunkenness more than I do, but I am 
confident the human intellect owes its superiority over 
that of the lower animals in great measure to the stimulus 
which alcohol has given to imagination — ^imagination 
being little else than another name for illusion. As for 
wayside chapels, mine, when I am in London, are the 
shop windows with pretty things in them. 

The flowers on the slopes above Prato are wonderful, 
and the village is full of nice bits for sketching, but the 
best thing, to my fancy, is the church, and the way it 
stands, and the lovely covered porch through which it 
is entered. This porch is not striking from the outside, 
but I took two sketches of it from within. There is, also, 
a fresco, half finished, of St. George and the Dragon, 
probably of the fifteenth century, and not without feeling. 
There is not much inside the church, which is modernised 
and more recent than the tower. The tower is very good, 
and only second, if second, in the upper Leventina to 
that of Quinto, which, however, is not nearly so well 

The people of Prato are just as fond of cherries as those 
of Primadengo, but I did not see any men in the trees. 
The children in these parts are the most beautiful and 
most fascinating that I know anywhere ; they have black 
mouths all through the month of July from the quantities 
of cherries that they devour. I can bear witness that 
they are irresistible, for one kind old gentleman, seeing 
me painting near his house, used to bring me daily a 
branch of a cherry-tree with all the cherries on it. " Son 
piccole," he would say, " ma son gustose "■ — " They are 
small, but tasty," which indeed they were. Seeing I ate 

* Treatise on Painting, chap, cccxlix. 

Prato 47 

all he gave me— for there was no stopping short as long 
as a single cherry was left — ^he, day by day, increased 
the size of the branch, but no matter how many he 
brought I was always even with him. I did my best to 
stop him from bringing them, or myself from eating all of 
them, but it was no use. 

^ ^ijuijw-^ 

Here is the autograph of one of the little black-mouthed 
folk. I watch them growing up from year to year in 
many a village. I was sketching at Primadengo, and a 
little girl of about three years came up with her brother, 
a boy of perhaps eight. Before long the smaller child 
began to set her cap at me, smiling, ogling, and showing 
all her tricks like an accomplished little flirt. Her brother 
said, " She always goes on like that to strangers." I 
said, " What's her name ? " " Forolinda." The name 
being new to me, I made the boy write it, and here it 
is. He has forgotten to cross his F, but the writing is 
wonderfully good for a boy of his age. The child's name, 
doubtless, is Florinda. 

JMore than once at Prato, and often elsewhere, people 
have wanted to buy my sketches : if I had not required 
them for my own use I might have sold a good many. 
I do not think my patrons intended giving more than 
four or five francs a sketch, but a quick worker, who 
could cover his three or four Fortuny panels a day, might 
pay his expenses. It often happens that people who are 
doing well in London or Paris are paying a visit to their 
native village, and like to take back something to remind 
them of it in the winter. 


Alps and Sanctuaries 

From Prato, there are two ways to Faido, one past 
an old castle, built to defend the northern entrance of 
the Monte Piottino, and so over a small pass which will 
avoid the gorge ; and the other, by Dazio and the Monte 
Piottino gorge. Both are good. 


Chapter IV 
Rossura, Calonico 

A NOTHER day I went up to Rossura, a village that 
J~\ can be seen from the windows of the Hotel dell' 
Angelo, and which stands about 3500 feet above the sea, 
or a little more than iioo 
feet above Faido. The 
path to it passes along 
some meadows, from 
which the church of 
Calonico can be seen on 
the top of its rocks some 
few miles off. By and 
by a torrent is reached, 
and the ascent begins in 
earnest. When the level of 
Rossura has been nearly 
attained, the path turns 
off into meadows to the 
right, and continues — 
occasionally under mag- 
niiicent chestnuts — till 
one comes to Rossura. 

The church has been a good deal restored during the 
last few years, and an interesting old chapel— with an 
altar in it — at which mass was said during a time of 
D 49 

■ "-^ -■^'* 



Alps and Sanctuaries 

plague, while the people stood some way off in a meadow, 
has just been entirely renovated ; but as with some 
English churches, the more closely a piece of old work 
is copied the more palpably does the modern spirit show 


through it, so here the opposite occurs, for the old- 
worldliness of the place has not been impaired by much 
renovation, though the intention has been to make every- 
thing as modern as possible. 

I know few things more touching in their way than 



the porch of Rossura church. It is dated early in the 
last century, and is absolutely without ornament ; the 
flight of steps inside it lead up to the level of the floor 
of the church. One lovely summer Sunday morning, 
passing the church betimes, I saw the people kneeling 
upon these steps, the church within being crammed. In 
the darker light of the porch, they told out against the 
sky that showed through the open arch beyond them ; 
far away the eye rested on the mountains — deep blue 
save where the snow stiU lingered. I never saw anything 
more beautiful^ — and these forsooth are the people whom 
so many of us think to better by distributing tracts about 
Protestantism among them ! 

While I was looking, there came a sound of music 
through the open door — the people lifting up their 
voices and singing, as near as I can remember, something 
which on the piano would come thus : — 













►7 SI 




-^ — ^c* 




Alps and Sanctuaries 

I liked the porch almost best under an aspect which 
it no longer presents. One summer an opening was 
made in the west wall, which was afterwards closed 
because the wind blew through it too much and made 
the church too cold. While it was open, one could sit 
on the church steps and look down through it on to the 
bottom of the Ticino valley ; and through the windows 
one could see the slopes about Dalpe and Cornone. Be- 
tween the two windows there is a picture of austere old 
S. Carlo Borromeo with his hands joined in prayer. 

It was at Rossura that I made the acquaintance of 
a word which I have since found very largely used 
throughout North Italy. It is pronounced " chow " 
pure and simple, but is written, if written at all, " ciau," 
or " ciao," the " a " being kept very broad. I believe 
the word is derived from " schiavo," a slave, which 
became corrupted into " schiao," and " ciao." It is 
used with two meanings, both of which, however, are 
deducible from the word slave. In its first and more 
common use it is simply a salute, either on greeting or 
taking leave, and means, " I am your very obedient 
servant." Thus, if one has been talking to a small child, 
its mother will tell it to say " chow " before it goes away, 
and will then nod her head and say " chow " herself. 
The other use is a kind of pious expletive, intending " I 
must endure it," " I am the slave of a higher power." It' 



was in this sense I first heard it at Rossura. A woman 
was washing at a fountain while I was eating my lunch. 
She said she had lost her daughter in Paris a few weeks 
earlier. " She was a beautiful woman," said the bereaved 


mother, " but — chow. She had great talents — chow. I 
had her educated by the nuns of Bellinzona— chow. Her 
knowledge of geography was consummate— chow, chow," 
&c. Here ",chow " means " pazienza," " I have done 

54 Alps and Sanctuaries 

and said all that I can, and must now bear it as best 
I may." 

I tried to comfort her, but could do nothing, till at 
last it occurred to me to say " chow " too. I did so, and 
was astonished at the soothing effect it had upon her. 
How subtle are the laws that govern consolation ! I 
suppose they must ultimately be connected with repro- 
duction^the consoling idea being a kind of small cross 
which re-generates or re-creates the sufferer. It is im- 
portant, therefore, that the new ideas with which the 
old are to be crossed should differ from these last suffi- 
ciently to divert the attention, and yet not so much as 
to cause a painful shock. 

There should be a little shock, or there will be no 
variation in the new ideas that are generated, but they 
will resemble those that preceded them, and grief will 
be continued ; there must not be too great a shock 
or there will be no illusion — no confusion and fusion 
between the new set of ideas and the old, and in con- 
sequence, there will be no result at all, or, if any, an 
increase in mental discord. We know very little, how- 
ever, upon this subject, and are continually shown to 
be at fault by finding an unexpectedly small cross 
produce a wide diversion of the mental images, while 
in other cases a wide one will produce hardly any result. 
Sometimes again, a cross which we should have said was 
much too wide will have an excellent effect. I did not 
anticipate, for example, that my saying " chow " would 
have done much for the poor woman who had lost her 
daughter ; the cross did not seem wide enough ; she was 
already, as I thought, saturated with " chow." I can 
only account for the effect my application of it produced 
by supposing the word to have derived some element of 
strangeness and novelty as coming from a foreigner — 

Calonico 55 

just as land which will give a poor crop, if planted with 
sets from potatoes that have been grown for three or 
four years on this same soil, will yet yield excellently if 
similar sets be brought from twenty miles off. For the 
potato, so far as I have studied it, is a good-tempered, 
frivolous plant, easily amused and easily bored, and one, 
moreover, which if bored, yawns horribly. 

As an example of a cross proving satisfactory which 
I had expected would be too wide, I would quote the 
following, which came under my notice when I was in 
America. A young man called upon me in a flood of 
tears over the loss of his grandmother, of whose death 
at the age of ninety-three he had just heard. I could 
do nothing with him ; I tried all the ordinary panaceas 
without effect, and was giving him up in despair, when 
I thought of crossing him with the well-known ballad 
of Wednesbury Cocking.* He brightened up instantly, 
and left me in as cheerful a state as he had been before 
in a desponding one. " Chow " seems to do for the 
Italians what Wednesbury Cocking did for my American 
friend ; it is a kind of small spiritual pick-me-up, or cup 
of tea. 

From Rossura I went on to Tengia, about a hundred 
and fifty feet higher than Rossura. From Tengia the 
path to Calonico, the next village, is a little hard to 
find, and a boy had better be taken for ten minutes or 
so beyond Tengia. Calonico church shows well for 
some time before it is actually reached. The pastures 
here are very rich in flowers, the tiger lilies being more 
abundant before the hay is mown, than perhaps even 
at Fusio itself. The whole walk is lovely, and the 
Gribbiasca waterfall, the most graceful in the Val 
Leventina, is just opposite. 

* See Appendix A. 


Alps ana sanctuaries 

How often have I not sat about here in the shade 
sketching, and watched the blue upon the mountains 
which Titian watched from under the chestnuts of 
Cadore. No sound except the distant water, or the 


croak of a raven, or the booming of the great guns in 
that battle which is being fought out between man and 
nature on the Biaschina and the Monte Piottino. It is 
always a pleasure to me to feel that I have known the 



Val Leventina intimately before the great change in it 
which the railway will effect, and that I may hope to 
see it after the present turmoil is over. Our descend- 
ants a hundred years hence will not think of the inces- 


sant noise as though of cannonading with which we 
were so familiar. From nowhere was it more striking 
than from Calonico, the Monte Piottino having no 
sooner become silent than the Biaschina would open 

58 Alps ana sanctuaries 

fire, and sometimes both would be firing at once. 
Posterity may care to know that another and less 
agreeable feature of the present time was the quantity 
of stones that would come flying about in places which 
one would have thought were out of range. All along 
the road, for example, between Giornico and Lavorgo, 
there was incessant blasting going on, and it was sur- 
prising to see the height to which stones were some- 
times carried. The dwellers in houses near the blast- 
ing would cover their roofs with boughs and leaves to 
soften the fall of the stones. A few people were hurt, 
b»t inuch less damage was done than might have been 
expected. I may mention for the benefit of English 
readers that the tunnels through Monte Piottino and 
the Biaschina are marvels of engineering skill, being 
both of them spiral ; the road describes a complete 
circle, and descends rapidly all the while, so that the 
point of egress as one goes from Airolo towards Faido 
is at a much lower level than that of ingress. 

If an accident does happen, they call it a disgrazia, 
thus confirming the soundness of a philosophy which 
I put forward in an earlier work. Every misfortune 
they hold (and quite rightly) to be a disgrace to the 
person who suffers it ; " Son disgraziato " is the Italian 
for "I have been unfortunate." I was once going to 
give a penny to a poor woman by the roadside, when 
two other women stopped me. " Non merita," they 
said ; " She is no deserving object for charity " — the 
fact being that she was an idiot. Nevertheless they 
were very kind to her. 

Chapter V 
Calonico {continued^ and Giornico 

OUR inventions increase in geometrical ratio. They 
are like living beings, each one of which may- 
become parent of a dozen others — some good and some 
ne'er-do-weels ; but they differ from animals and vege- 
tables inasmuch as they not only increase in a geometrical 
ratio, but the period of their gestation decreases in 
-geometrical ratio also. Take this matter of Alpine 
roads for example. For how many millions of years 
was there no approach to a road over the St. Gothard, 
save the untutored watercourses of the Ticino and the 
Reuss, and the track of the bouquetin or the chamois ? 
For how many more ages after this was there not a 
mere shepherd's or huntsman's path by the river side — 
without so much as a log thrown over so as to form a 
rude bridge ? No one would probably have ever thought 
of making a bridge out of his own unaided imagination, 
more than any monkey that we know of has done so. 
But an avalanche or a flood once swept a pine into position 
and left it there ; on this a genius, who was doubtless 
thought to be doing something very infamous, ventured 
to make use of it. Another time a pine was found nearly 
across the stream, but not quite, and not quite, again, in 
the place where it was wanted. A second genius, to the 
horror of his fellow-tribesmen — who declared that this 
time the world really would come to an end — shifted 


6o Alps and Sanctuaries 

the pine a few feet so as to bring it across the stream 
and into the place where it was wanted. This man 
was the inventor of bridges — his family repudiated 
him, and he came to a bad end. From this to cutting 
down the pine and bringing it from some distance is 
an easy step. To avoid detail, let us come to the old 
Roman horse road over the Alps. The time between 
the shepherd's path and the Roman road is probably 
short in comparison with that between the mere chamois 
track and the first thing that can be called a path of men. 
From the Roman we go on to the mediaeval road with 
more frequent stone bridges, and from the mediaeval to 
the Napoleonic carriage road. 

The close of the last century and the first quarter 
of this present one was the great era for the making of 
carriage roads. Fifty years have hardly passed and 
here we are already in the age of tunnelling and rail- 
roads. The first period, from the chamois track to the 
foot road, was one of millions of years ; the second, 
from the first foot road to the Roman military way, 
was one of mkny thousands ; the third, from the Roman 
to the mediaeval, was perhaps a thousand ; from the 
mediaeval to the Napoleonic, five hundred ; from the 
Napoleonic to the railroad, fifty. What will come next 
we know not, but it should come within twenty years, 
and will probably have something to do with electricity. 

It follows by an easy process of reasoning that, after 
another couple of hundred years or so, great sweeping 
changes should be made several times in an hour, or 
indeed in a second, or fraction of a second, till they 
pass unnoticed as the revolutions we undergo in the 
embryonic stages, or are felt simply as vibrations. This 
would undoubtedly be the case but for the existence of 
a friction which interferes between theory and practice. 

Calonico 6 1 

This friction is caused partly by the disturbance of 
vested interests which every invention involves, and 
which will be found intolerable when men become 
millionaires and paupers alternately once a fortnight — 
living one week in a palace and the next in a workhouse, 
and having perpetually to be sold up, and then to buy a 
new house and refurnish, &c. — so that artificial means 
for stopping inventions will be adopted ; and partly by 
the fact that though all inventions breed in geometrical 
ratio, yet some multiply more rapidly than others, and 
the backwardness of one art will impede the forwardness 
of another. At any rate, so far as I can see, the present 
is about the only comfortable time for a man to live in, 
that either ever has been or ever will be. The past was 
too slow, and the future will be much too fast. 

Another thing which we do not bear in mind when 
thinking of the Alps is their narrowness, and the small 
extent of ground they really cover. From Goschenen, 
for example, to Airolo seems a very long distance. One 
must go up to the Devil's Bridge, and then to Andermatt. 
From here by Hospenthal to the top of the pass seems 
a long way, and again it is a long way down to Airolo ; 
but all this would easily go on to the ground between 
Kensington and Stratford. From Goschenen to Ander- 
matt is about as far as from Holland House to Hyde Park 
Corner. From Andermatt to Hospenthal is much the 
same distance as from Hyde Park Corner to the Oxford 
Street end of Tottenham Court Road. From Hospenthal 
to the hospice on the top of the pass is about equal to the 
space between Tottenham Court Road and Bow ; and 
from Bow you must go down three thousand feet of 
zig-zags into Stratford, for Airolo. I have made the 
deviation from the straight line about the same in one 
case as in the other ; in each, the direct distance is nine 

62 Alps and Sanctuaries 

and a half miles. The whole distance from Fliielen, 
on the Lake of Lucerne, to Biasca, which is almost on the 
same level with the Lago Maggiore, is only forty miles, 
and could be all got in between London and Lewes, while 
from Lucerne to Locarno, actually on the Lago Maggiore 
itself, would go, with a good large margin to spare, 
between London and Dover. We can hardly fancy, 
however, people going backwards and forwards to business 
daily between Fliielen and Biasca, as some doubtless do 
between London and Lewes. 

But how small all Europe is. We seem almost able to 
take it in at a single coup d'ceil. From Mont Blanc we can 
see the mountains on the Paris side of Dijon on the one 
hand, and those above Florence and Bologna on the 
other. What a hole would not be made in Europe if this 
great eyeful were scooped out of it. 

The fact is (but it is so obvious that I am ashamed 
to say anything about it), science is rapidly reducing 
space to the same unsatisfactory state that it has already 
reduced time. Take lamb : we can get lamb all the year 
round. This is perpetual spring ; but perpetual spring is 
no spring at all ; it is not a season ; there are no more 
seasons, and being no seasons, there is no time. Take 
rhubarb, again. Rhubarb to the philosopher is the 
beginning of autumn, if indeed, the philosopher can see 
anything as the beginning of anything. If any one asks 
why, I suppose the philosopher would say that rhubarb is 
the beginning of the fruit season, which is clearly au- 
tumnal, according to our present classification. From 
rhubarb to the green gooseberry the step is so small as to 
require no bridging — ^with one's eyes shut, and plenty of 
cream and sugar, they are almost indistinguishable — 
but the gooseberry is quite an autumnal fruit, and only a 
little earlier than apples and plums, which last are almost 

Calonico 63 

winter ; clearly, therefore, for scientific purposes rhubarb 
is autumnal. 

As soon as we can find gradations, or a sufficient number 
of uniting links between two things, they become united 
or made one thing, and any classification of them must be 
illusory. Classification is only possible where there is a 
shock given to the senses by reason of a perceived differ- 
ence, which, if it is considerable, can be expressed in words. 
When the world was younger and less experienced, people 
were shocked at what appeared great differences between 
living forms ; but species, whether of animals or plants, 
are now seen to be so united, either inferentially or by 
actual finding of the links, that all classification is felt to 
be arbitrary. The seasons are like species — they were 
at one time thought to be clearly marked, and capable 
of being classified with some approach to satisfaction. 
It is now seen that they blend either in the present or the 
past insensibly into one another, and cannot be classified 
except by cutting Gordian knots in a way which none 
but plain sensible people can tolerate. Strictly speaking, 
there is only one place, one time, one action, and one 
individual or thing ; of this thing or individual each one 
of us is a part. It is perplexing, but it is philosophy ; 
and modern philosophy like modern music is nothing 
if it is not perplexing. 

A simple verification of the autumnal character of 
rhubarb may, at first sight, appear to be found in Covent 
Garden Market, where we can actually see the rhubarb 
towards the end of October. But this way of looking 
at the matter argues a fatal ineptitude for the pursuit of 
true philosophy. It would be a most serious error to 
regard the rhubarb that will appear in Covent Garden 
Market next October as belonging to the autumn then 
supposed to be current. Practically, no doubt, it does 


Alps and Sanctuaries 

so, but theoretically it must be considered as the first- 
fruits of the autumn (if any) of the following year, which 
begins before the preceding summer (or, perhaps, more 
strictly, the preceding summer but one — and hence, but 
any number), has well ended. Whether this, however, is 
so or no, the rhubarb can be seen in Covent Garden, and 
I am afraid it must be admitted that to the philosophically 



minded there lurks within it a theory of evolution, and 
even Pantheism, as surely as Theism was lurking in 
Bishop Berkeley's tar water. 

To return, however, to Calonico. The church is built 
on the extreme edge of a chff that has been formed by 
the breaking away of a large fragment of the mountain. 
This fragment may be seen lying down below shattered 
into countless pieces. There is a fissure in the cliff which 




suggests that at no very distant day some more will 
follow, and I am afraid carry the church too. My favourite 
view of the church is from the other side of the small 
valley which separates it from the village, (see preceding 
page). Another very good view is from closer up to the 

The curafo of Calonico was very kind to me. We 
had long talks together. I could see it pained him that 


I was not a Catholic. He could never quite get over this, 
but he was very good and tolerant. He was anxious to be 
assured that I was not one of those English who went 
about distributing tracts, and trying to convert people. 
This of course was the last thing I should have wished to 
do ; and when I told him so, he viewed me with sorrow, 
but henceforth without alarm. 

All the time I was with him I felt how much I wished 
I could be a CathoHc in CathoHc countries, and a Pro- 
testant in Protestant ones. , Surely there are some things 

66 Alps and Sanctuaries 

which, Hke politics, are too serious to be taken quite 
seriously. Surtout point de zele is not the sajdng of a 
cynic, but the conclusion of a sensible man ; and the 
more deep our feeling is about any matter, the more 
occasion have we to be on our guard against zele in this 
particular respect. There is but one step from the 
" earnest " to the " intense." When St. Paul told us to 
be all things to all men he let in the thin end of the wedge, 
nor did he mark it to say how far it was to be driven. 

I have Italian friends whom I greatly value, and who 
tell me they think I flirt just a trifle too much with il partita 
nero when I am in Italy, for they know that in the main 
I think as they do. " These people," they say, " make 
themselves very agreeable to you, and show you their 
smooth side ; we, who see more of them, know their 
rough one. Knuckle under to them, and they will per- 
haps condescend to patronise you ; have any individu- 
ality of your own, and they know neither scruple nor 
remorse in their attempts to get you out of their way. 
" II prete," they say, with a significant look, " e sempre 
prete. For the future let us have professors and men of 
science instead of priests." I smile to myself at this last, 
and reply, that I am a foreigner come among them for 
recreation, and anxious to keep clear of their internal dis- 
cords. I do not wish to cut myself off from one side of 
their national character — a side which, in some respects, 
is no less interesting than the one with which I suppose 
I am on the whole more sympathetic. If I were an 
Italian, I should feel bound to take a side ; as it is, I wish 
to leave all quarrelling behind me, having as much of 
that in England as suffices to keep me in good health 
and temper. 

In old times people gave their spiritual and intel- 
lectual sop to Nemesis. Even when most positive. 

Calonico 67 

they admitted a percentage of doubt. Mr. Tennyson 
has said well, " There Uves more doubt "—I quote 
from memory — " in honest faith, beUeve me, than in 
half the " systems of philosophy, or words to that effect. 
The victor had a slave at his ear during his triumph ; 
the slaves during the Roman Saturnaha dressed in 
their masters' clothes, sat at meat with them, told them 
of their faults, and blacked their faces for them. 
They made their masters wait upon them. In the 
ages of faith, an ass dressed in sacerdotal robes was 
gravely conducted to the cathedral choir at a certain 
season, and mass was said before him, and hymns chanted 
discordantly. The elder DTsraeli, from whom I am 
quoting, writes : "On other occasions, they put burnt 
old shoes to fume in the censers ; ran about the church 
leaping, singing, dancing, and playing at dice upon the 
alj^ar, while a boy bishop or pope of fools burlesqued the 
divine service ; " and later on he says : " So late as 1645, 
a pupil of Gassendi, writing to his master what he himself 
witnessed at Aix on the feast of Innocents, says — ' I have 
seen in some monasteries in this province extravagances 
solemnised, which pagans would not have practised. 
Neither the clergy nor the guardians indeed go to the 
choir on this day, but all is given up to the lay brethren, 
the cabbage cutters, errand boys, cooks, scullions, and 
gardeners ; in a word, all the menials fill their places 
in the church, and insist that they perform the offices 
proper for the day. They dress themselves with all 
the sacerdotal ornaments, but torn to rags, or wear them 
inside out ; they hold in their hands the books reversed 
or sideways, which they pretend to read with large 
spectacles without glasses, and to which they fix the 
rinds of scooped oranges . . . ; particularly while 
dangling the censers they keep shajcing them in derision, 

68 Alps and Sanctuaries 

and letting the ashes fly about their heads and faces, one 
against the other. In this equipage they neither sing 
hymns nor psalms nor masses, but mumble a certain 
gibberish as shrill and squeaking as a herd of pigs whipped 
on to market. The nonsense verses they chant are 
singularly barbarous : — 

Haec est clara dies, clararum clara dierum, 
Haec est festa dies festarum festa dierum.' " * 

Faith was far more assured in the times when the 
spiritual saturnalia were allowed than now. The irrever- 
ence which was not dangerous then, is now intolerable. 
It is a bad sign for a man's peace in his own convictions 
when he cannot stand turning the canvas of his life 
occasionally upside down, or reversing it in a mirror, as 
painters do with their pictures that they may judge the 
better concerning them. I would persuade all Jews, 
Mohammedans, Comtists, and freethinkers to turn high 
Anglicans, or better still, downright Catholics for a week 
in every year, and I would send people like Mr. Gladstone 
to attend Mr. Bradlaugh's lectures in the forenoon, and 
the Grecian pantomime in the evening, two or three times 
every winter. I should perhaps tell them that the Grecian 
pantomime has nothing to do with Greek plays. They 
little know how much more keenly they would relish their 
normal opinions during the rest of the year for the little 
spiritual outing which I would prescribe for them, which, 
after all, is but another phase of the wise saying — Surtout 
point de zele. St. Paul attempted an obviously hopeless 
task (as the Church of Rome very well understands) 
when he tried to put down seasonarianism. People must 
and will go to church to be a little better, to the theatre 
to be a little naughtier, to the Royal Institution to be a 

* Curiosities of Literature, Lond. 1866, Routledge & Co., p. 272. 

Caloliico 69 

little more scientific, than they are in actual life. It is only 
by pulsations of goodness, naughtiness, and whatever else 
we affect that we can get on at all. I grant that when in 
his office, a man should be exact and precise, but our 
holidays are our garden, and too much precision here is a 

Surely truces, without even an arriere fensee of differ- 
ence of opinion, between those who are compelled to take 
widely different sides during the greater part of their 
lives, must be of infinite service to those who can enter on 
them. There are few merely spiritual pleasures com- 
parable to that derived from the temporary laying down 
of a quarrel, even though we may know that it must be 
renewed shortly. It is a great grief to me that there is 
no place where I can go among Mr. Darwin, Professors 
Huxley, Tyndall, and Ray Lankester, Miss Buckley, 
Mr. Romanes, Mr. Allen, and others whom I cannot call 
to mind at this moment, as I can go among the Italian 
priests. I remember in one monastery (but this was not 
in the Canton Ticino) the novice taught me how to make 
sacramental wafers, and I played him Handel on the 
organ as weU as I could. I told him that Handel was a 
Catholic ; he said he could tell that by his music at once. 
There is no chance of getting among our scientists in this 

Some friends say I was telling a lie when I told the 
novice Handel was a Catholic, and ought not to have 
done so. I make it a rule to swallow a few gnats a day, 
lest I should come to strain at them, and so bolt camels ; 
but the whole question of lying is difficult. What is 
" lying " ? Turning for moral guidance to my cousins 
the lower animals, whose unsophisticated nature proclaims 
what God has taught them with a directness we may some- 
times study, I find the plover lying when she lures us 

70 Alps and Sanctuaries 

from her young ones under the fiction of a broken wing. Is 
God angry, think you, with this pretty deviation from the 
letter of strict accuracy ? or was it not He who whispered 
to her to tell the falsehood — to tell it with a circumstance, 
without conscientious scruple, not once only, but to make 
a practice of it, so as to be a plausible, habitual, and pro- 
fessional liar for some six weeks or so in the year ? I 
imagine so. When I was young I used to read in good 
books that it was God who taught the bird to make her 
nest, and if so He probably taught each species the other 
domestic arrangements best suited to it. Or did the nest- 
building information come from God, and was there an evil 
one among the birds also who taught them at any rate 
to steer clear of priggishness ? 

Think of the spider again — an ugly creature, but I 
suppose God likes it. What a mean and odious lie is that 
web which naturalists extol as such a marvel of ingenuity ! 

Once on a summer afternoon in a far country I met 
one of those orchids who make it their business to imitate 
a fly with their petals. This lie they dispose so cunningly 
that real flies, thinking the honey is being already plun- 
dered, pass them without molesting them. Watching in- 
tently and keeping very still, methought I heard this 
orchid speaking to the offspring which she felt within her, 
though I saw them not. " My children," she exclaimed, 
" I must soon leave you ; think upon the fly, my loved 
ones, for this is truth ; cling to this great thought in your 
passage through life, for it is the one thing needful ; once 
lose sight of it and you are lost ! " Over and over again 
she sang this burden in a small still voice, and so I left her. 
Then straightway I came upon some butterflies whose 
profession it was to pretend to believe in all manner of 
vital truths which in their inner practice they rejected ; 
thus, asserting themselves to be certain other and hateful 

Calonico 7 1 

butterflies which no bird will eat by reason of their 
abominable smell, these cunning ones conceal their own 
sweetness, and live long in the land and see good days. 
No ; lying is so deeply rooted in nature that we may 
expel it with a fork, and yet it will always come back 
again : it is like the poor, we must have it always with us ; 
we must all eat a peck of moral dirt before we die. 

All depends upon who it is that is lying. One man may 
steal a horse when another may not look over a hedge. 
The good man who teUs no lies wittirigly to himself and 
is never unkindly, may lie and lie and lie whenever he 
chooses to other people, and he will not be false to any 
man : his lies become truths as they pass into the hearers' 
ear. If a man deceives himself and is unkind, the truth 
is not in him, it turns to falsehood while yet in his mouth, 
like the quails in the Wilderness of Sinai. How this is so 
or why, I know not, but that the Lord hath mercy on 
whom He will have mercy and whom He willeth He 

My Italian friends are doubtless in the main right 
about the priests, but there are many exceptions, as they 
themselves gladly admit. For my own part I have found 
the curato in the small subalpine villages of North Italy to 
be more often than not a kindly excellent man to whom 
I am attracted by sympathies deeper than any mere 
superficial differences of opinion can counteract. With 
monks, however, as a general rule I am less able to get 
on : nevertheless, I have received much courtesy at the 
hands of some. 

My young friend the novice was delightful — only it 
was so sad to think of the future that is before him. He 
wanted to know all about England, and when I told him 
it was an island, clasped his hands and said, " Oh che 
Provvidenza ! " He told me how the other young men 

72 Alps and Sanctuaries 

of his own age plagued him as he trudged his rounds 
high up among the most distant hamlets begging alms 
for the poor. " Be a good fellow," they would say to 
him, " drop all this nonsense and come back to us, 
and we will never plague you again." Then he would 
turn upon them and put their words from him. Of course 
my sympathies were with the other young men rather 
than with him, but it was impossible not to be sorry for 
the manner in which he had been humbugged from the 
day of his birth, till he was now incapable of seeing things 
from any other standpoint than that of authority. 

What he said to me about knowing that Handel 
was a Catholic by his music, put me in mind of what 
another good Catholic once said to me about a picture. 
He was a Frenchman and very nice, but a devot, and 
anxious to convert me. He paid a few days' visit to 
London, so I showed him the National Gallery. While 
there I pointed out to him Sebastian del Piombo's picture 
of the raising of Lazarus as one of the supposed master- 
pieces of our collection. He had the proper orthodox fit 
of admiration over it, and then we went through the 
other rooms. After a while we found ourselves before 
West's picture of " Christ healing the sick." My French 
friend did not, I suppose, examine it very carefully, at . 
any rate he believed he was again before the raising of 
Lazarus by Sebastian del Piombo ; he paused before it 
and had his fit of admiration over again : then turning to 
me he said, " Ah ! you would understand this picture 
better if you were a Catholic." I did not tell him of the 
mistake he had made, but I thought even a Protestant 
after a certain amount of experience would learn to see 
some difference between Benjamin West and Sebastian 
del Piombo. 

From Calonico I went down into the main road and 



walked to Giornico, taking the right bank of the river 
from the bridge at the top of the Biaschina. Not a sod of 
the railway was as yet turned. At Giornico I visited the 
grand old church of S. Nicolao, which, though a later foun- 
dation than the church at Mairengo, retains its original con- 
dition, and appears, therefore, to be much the older of the 
two. The stones are very massive, and 
the courses are here and there irregular 
as in Cyclopean walls ; the end wall is not 
bonded into the side walls but simply 
built between them; the main door is 
very fine, and there is a side door also 
very good. There are two altars one 
above the other, as in the churches of 
S. Abbondio and S. Cristoforo at Como, 
but I could not make the lower altar 
intelligible in my sketch, and indeed 
could hardly see it, so was obliged to 
leave it out. The remains of some very 
early frescoes can be seen, but I did 
not think them remarkable. Altogether, 
however, the church is one which no one 
should miss seeing who takes an interest 
in early architecture. 

While painting the study from which the following 
sketch is taken, I was struck with the wonderfully vivid 
green which the whitewashed vault of the chancel and 
the arch dividing the chancel from the body of the church 
took by way of reflection from the grass and trees outside. 
It is not easy at first to see how the green manages to 
find its way inside the church, but the grass seems to 
get in everywhere. I had already often seen green re- 
flected from brilliant pasturage on to the shadow under 
the eaves of whitewashed houses, but I never saw it 


74 Alps and Sanctuaries 

suffuse a whole interior as it does on a fine summer's day 
at Giornico. I do not remember to have seen this effect 
in England. 

Looking up again against the mountain through the 
open door of the church when the sun was in a certain 
position, I could see an infinity of insect life swarming 

I ■•'.N 

.^ ^'^^ 




throughout the air. No one could have suspected its 
existence, till the sun's rays fell on the wings of these 
small creatures at a proper angle ; on this they became 
revealed against the darkness of the mountain behind 
them. The swallows that were flying among them 
cannot have to hunt them, they need only fly with their 
mouths wide open and they must run against as many as 

Giornico 75 

will be good for them. I saw this incredibly multitudinous 
swarm extending to a great height, and am satisfied that 
it was no more than what is always present during the 
summer months, though it is only visible in certain hghts. 
To these minute creatures the space between the moun- 
tains on the two sides of the Ticino valley must be as 
great as that between England and America to a codfish. 
Many, doubtless, live in the mid-air, and never touch the 
bottom or sides of the valley, except at birth and death, 
if then. No doubt some atmospheric effects of haze on a 
summer's afternoon are due to nothing but these insects. 
What, again, do the smaller of them live upon ? On 
germs, which to them are comfortable mouthfuls, though 
to us invisible even with a microscope ? 

I find nothing more in my notes about Giornico except 
that the people are very handsome, and, as I thought, of a 
Roman type. The place was a Roman military station, 
but it does not follow that the soldiers were Romans ; 
nevertheless, there is a strain of bullet-headed blood in 
the place. Also I remember being told in 1869 that two 
bears had been killed in the mountains above Giornico 
the preceding year. At Giornico the vine begins to grow 
lustily, and wine is made. The vines are trellised, and 
looking down upon them one would think one could walk 
upon them as upon a solid surface, so closely and luxuri- 
antly do they grow. 

From Giornico I began to turn my steps homeward 
in company with an engineer who was also about to walk 
back to Faido, but we resolved to take Chironico on our 
way, and kept therefore to the right bank of the river. 
After about three or four kilometres from Giornico we 
reached Chironico, which is well placed upon a fiUed-up 
lake and envied as a paese ricco, but is not so captivating 
as some others. Hence we ascended till at last we reached 

76 Alps and Sanctuaries 

Gribbio (3960 ft.), a collection of chalets inhabited only 
for a short time in the year, but a nice place in summer, 
rich in gentians and sulphur-coloured anemones. From 
Gribbio there is a path to Dalpe, offering no difficulty 
whatever aild perfect in its way. On this occasion, how- 
ever, we went straight back to Faido by a rather shorter 
way than the ordinary path, and this certainly was a little 
difficult, or as my companion called it, " un tantino 
difficoltoso," in one or two places ; I at least did not quite 
like them. 

Another day I went to Lavorgo, below Calonico, and 
thence up to Anzonico. The church and churchyard at 
Anzonico are very good ; from Anzonico there is a path 
to Cavagnago — which is also full of good bits for sketching 
— and Sobrio. The highest villages in the immediate 
neighbourhood of Faido are Campello and Molare ; they 
can be seen from the market-place of the town, and are 
well worth the trouble of a climb. 

Chapter VI 

AN excursion which may be very well made from Faido 
is to the Val Piora, which I have already more than 
once mentioned. There is a large hotel here which has 
been opened some years, but has not hitherto proved 
the success which it was hoped it would be. I have 
stayed there two or three times and found it very com- 
fortable ; doubtless, now that Signor Lombardi of the 
Hotel Prosa has taken it, it will become a more popular 
place of resort. 

I took a trap from Faido to Ambri, and thence walked 
over to Quinto ; here the path begins to ascend, and 
after an horn: Ronco is reached. There is a house at 
Ronco where refreshments and excellent Faido beer 
can be had. The old lady who keeps the house would 
make a perfect Fate ; I saw her sitting at her window 
spinning, and looking down over the Ticino valley as 
though it were the world and she were spinning its 
destiny. She had a somewhat stern expression, thin 
lips, iron-grey eyes, and an aquiline nose ; her scanty 
locks straggled from under the handkerchief which she 
wore round her head. Her employment and the wistful 
far-away look she cast upon the expanse below made a 
very fine ensemble. " She would have afforded," as 
Sir Walter Scott says, " a study for a Rembrandt, 


yS Alps and Sanctuaries 

had that celebrated painter existed at the period," * but 
she must have been a smart-looking handsome girl once. 

She brightened up in conversation. I talked about 
Piora, which I already knew, and the Lago Tom, the 
highest of the three lakes. She said she knew the Lago 
Tom. I said laughingly, " Oh, I have no doubt you do. 
We've had many a good day at the Lago Tom, I know." 
She looked down at once. 

In spite of her nearly eighty years she was active 
as a woman of forty, and altogether she was a very grand 
old lady. Her house is scrupulously clean. While I 
watched her spinning, I thought of what must so often 
occur to summer visitors. I mean what sort of a look-out 
the old woman must have in winter^ when the wind roars 
and whistles, and the snow drives down the valley with a 
fury of which we in England can have little conception. 
What a place to see a snowstorm from ! and what a place 
from which to survey the landscape next morning after 
the storm is over and the air is calm and brilliant. There 
are such mornings : I saw one once, but I was at the 
bottom of the valley and not high up, as at Ronco. 
Ronco would take a little sun even in midwinter, but at 
the bottom of the valley there is no sun for weeks and 
weeks together ; all is in deep shadow below, though the 
upper hillsides may be seen to have the sun upon them. 
I walked once on a frosty winter's morning from Airolo to 
Giornico, and can call to mind nothing in its way more 
beautiful : everything was locked in frost^ — there was 
not a waterwheel but was sheeted and coated with ice : 
the road was hard as granite — all was quiet and seen as 
through a dark but incredibly transparent medium. Near 
Piotta I met the whole village dragging a large tree ; 
there were many men and women dragging at it, but 

* Ivanhoe, chap, xxiii., near the beginning. 

Piora 7 9 

they had to pull hard and they were silent ; as I passed 
them I thought what comely, well-begotten people they 
were. Then, looking up, there was a sky, cloudless and 
of the deepest blue, against which the snow-clad moun- 
tains stood out splendidly. No one will regret a walk in 
these valleys during the depth of winter. But I should 
have liked to have looked down from the sun into the 
sunlessness, as the old Fate woman at Ronco can do when 
she sits in winter at her window ; or again, I should like 
to see how things would look from this same window on a 
leaden morning in midwinter after snow has fallen heavily 
and the sky is murky and much darker than the earth. 
When the storm is at its height, the snow must search 
and search and search even through the double windows 
with which the houses are protected. It must rest upon 
the frames of the pictures of saints, and of the sister's 
" grab," and of the last hours of Count Ugolino, which 
adorn the walls of the parlour. No wonder there is a 
S. Maria della Neve — a "St. Mary of the Snow " ; but I 
do wonder that she has not been painted. 

From Ronco the path keeps level and then descends 
a little so as to cross the stream that comes down from 
Piora. This is near the village of Altanca, the church 
of which looks remarkably well from here. Then there 
is an hour and a half's rapid ascent, and at last all on a 
sudden one finds one's self on the Lago Ritom, close to 
the hotel. 

The lake is about a mile, or a mile and a half, long, 
and half a mile broad. It is 6000 feet above the sea, 
very deep at the lower end, and does not freeze where 
the stream issues from it, so that the magnificent trout 
in the lake can get air and hve through the winter. 
In many other lakes, as for example the Lago di Tre- 
morgio, they cannot do this, and hence perish, though 

8o Alps and Sanctuaries 

the lakes have been repeatedly stocked. The trout 
ill the Lago Ritom are said to be the finest in the world, 
and certainly I know none so fine myself. They grow 
to be as large as moderate-sized salmon, and have a deep 
red flesh, very firm and full of flavour. I had two cutlets 
off one for breakfast and should have said they were 
salmon unless I had known otherwise. In winter, when 
the lake is frozen over, the people bring their hay from 
the farther Lake of Cadagno in sledges across the Lake 
Ritom. Here, again, winter must be worth seeing, but 
on a rough snowy day Piora must be an awful place. 
There are a few stunted pines near the hotel, but the 
hillsides are for the most part bare and green. Piora in 
fact is a fine breezy open upland valley of singular iDeauty, 
and with a sweet atmosphere of cow about it ; it is rich 
in rhododendrons, and all manner of Alpine flowers, just 
a trifle bleak, but as bracing as the Engadine itself. 

The first night I was ever in Piora there was a brilliant 
moon, and the unruffled surface of the lake took the 
reflection of the mountains. I could see the cattle a 
mile off, and hear the tinkling of their bells which danced 
multitudinously before the ear as fireflies come and go 
before the eyes ; for all through a fine summer's night 
the cattle will feed as though it were day. A little above 
the lake I came upon a man in a cave before a furnace, 
burning lime, and he sat looking into the fire with his 
back to the moonlight. He was a quiet moody man, and 
I am afraid I bored him, for I could get hardly anything 
out of him but " Oh altro " — polite but not communica- 
tive. So after a while I left him with his face burnished 
as with gold from the fire, and his back silver with the 
moonbeams ; behind him were the pastures and the 
reflections in the lake and the mountains ; and the 
distant cowbells were ringing. 



Then I wandered on till I came to the chapel of 
S. Carlo ; and in a few minutes found myself on the 
Lago di Cadagno. Here I heard that there were people, 
and the people were not -so much asleep as the simple 
peasantry of these upland valleys are expected to be by 
nine o'clock in the evening. For now was the time 


when they had moved up from Ronco, Altanca, and other 
villages in some numbers to cut the hay, and were living 
for a fortnight or three weeks in the chalets upon the 
Lago di Cadagno. As I have said, there is a chapel, but 
I doubt whether it is attended during this season with 
the regularity with which the parish churches of Ronco, 
Altanca, &c., are attended during the rest of the year. 
The young people, I am sure, like these annual visits to 

82 Alps and Sanctuaries 

the high places, and will be hardly weaned from them. 
Happily the hay will be always there, and will have 
to be cut by some one, and the old people will send the 
young ones. 

As I was thinking of these things, I found myself 
going off into a doze, and thought the burnished man 
from the furnace came up and sat beside me, and laid 
his hand upon my shoulder. Then I saw the green 
slopes that rise all round the lake were much higher than 
I had thought ; they went up thousands of feet, and 
there were pine forests upon them, while two large 
glaciers cam« down in streams that ended in a precipice 
of ice, falling sheer into the lake. The edges of the 
mountains against the sky were rugged and full of clefts, 
through which I saw thick clouds of dust being blown 
by the wind as though from the other side of the moun- 

And as I looked, I saw that this was not dust, but 
people coming in crowds from the other side, but so 
small as to be visible at first only as dust. And the 
people became musicians, and the mountainous amphi- 
theatre a huge orchestra, and the glaciers were two 
noble armies of women-singers in white robes, ranged 
tier above tier behind each other, and the pines became 
orchestral players, while the thick dust-like cloud of 
chorus-singers kept pouring in through the clefts in the 
precipices in inconceivable numbers. When I turned 
my telescope upon them I saw they were crowded up to 
the extreme edge of the mountains, so that I could see 
underneath the soles of their boots as their legs dangled 
in the air. In the midst of all, a precipice that rose from 
out of the glaciers shaped itself suddenly into an organ, 
and there was one whose face I well knew sitting at the 
keyboard, smiling and pluming himself like a bird as he 



thundered forth a giant fugue by way of overture. I 
heard the great pedal notes in the bass stalk majesti- 
cally up and down, like the rays of the Aurora that go 
about upon the face of the heavens off the coast of 
Labrador. Then presently the people rose and sang 
the chorus " Venus laughing from the skies ; " but ere 
the sound had well died away, I awoke, and all was 
changed ; a light fleecy cloud had filled the whole basin, 
but I still thought I heard a sound of music, and a 
scampering-off of great crowds from the part where the 
precipices should be. The music went thus : — * 

^-^-^ ft-m — ^-* — n-i 

-•• — m-. 



I I * ' J I—! — 1— I ^— ! (—1- 






-^ M •- 



L,. ^., 



luri ^ i r ti 

^ 1F^=^ 

r r r i t 



* Handel's third set of organ concertos, No. 6. 


Alps and Sanctuaries 

By and by the cantering, galloping movement became 
a trotting one, thus : — 




^ — ^ 


*! # I 

■»-^- m m-m-m *-»-»- 


^^^ — r— I — r-i — r^t- 

it: >-L- 





aoc _j_,.i:i„ 




Piora 8 5 

After that I heard no more but a httle singing from 
the chalets, and turned homewards. When I got to 
the chapel of S. Carlo, I was in the moonlight again, 
and when near the hotel, I passed the man at the mouth 
of the furnace with the moon still gleaming upon his 
back, and the fire upon his face, and he was very grave 
and quiet. 

Next morning I went along the lake till I came to 
a good-sized streamlet on the north side. If this is 
followed for half-an-hour or so — and the walk is a very 
good one — Lake Tom is reached, about 7500 feet above 
the sea. The lake is not large, and there are not so 
many chalets as at Cadagno ; still there are some. The 
view of the mountain tops on the other side the Ticino 
valley, as seen from across the lake, is very fine. I tried 
to sketch, but was fairly driven back by a cloud of black 
gnats. The ridges immediately at the back of the lake, 
and no great height above it, are the main dividing line 
of the watershed ; so are those that rise from the Lago 
di Cadagno ; in fact, about 600 feet above this lake is 
the top of a pass which goes through the Piano dei Porci, 
and leads down to S, Maria Maggiore, on the German side 
of the Lukmanier. I do not know the short piece be- 
tween the Lago di Cadagno and S. Maria, but it is sure 
to be good. It is a pity there is no place at S. Maria 
where one can put up for a night or two. There is a 
small inn there, but it did not look tempting. 

Before leaving the Val Leventina, I would call atten- 
tion to the beautiful old parish church at Biasca, where 
there is now an excellent inn, the Hotel Biasca. This 
church is not so old as the one at Giornico, but it is a 
good though plain example of early Lombard architec- 

Chapter VII 
S. Michele and the Monte Pirchiriano 

SOME time after the traveller from Paris to Turin 
has passed through the Mont Cenis tunnel, and 
shortly before he arrives at Bussoleno station, the line 
turns eastward, and a view is obtained of the valley of 
the Dora, with the hills beyond Turin, and the Superga, 
in the distance. On the right-hand side of the valley and 



about half-way between Susa and Turin the eye is struck 
by an abruptly-descending mountain with a large build- 
ing like a castle upon the top of it, and the nearer it is 
approached the more imposing does it prove to be. 
Presently the mountain is seen more edgeways, and the 
shape changes. In half-an-hour or so from this point, 
S. Ambrogio is reached, once a thriving town, where 


S. Michele 87 

carriages used to break the journey between Turin and 
Susa, but left stranded since the opening of the railway. 
Here we are at the very foot of the Monte Pirchiriano, 
for so the mountain is called, and can see the front of 
the building — which is none other than the famous 
sanctuary of S. Michele, commonly called " della Chiusa," 
from the wall built here by Desiderius, king of the Lom- 
bards, to protect his kingdom from Charlemagne. 
The history of the sanctuary is briefly as follows : — 
At the close of the tenth century, when Otho III was 
Emperor of Germany, a certain Hugh de Montboissier, 
a noble of Auvergne, commonly called " Hugh the 
Unsewn " {lo sdruscito), was commanded by the Pope to 
found a monastery in expiation of some grave offence. 
He chose for his site the summit of the Monte Pirchiriano 
in the vaUey of Susa, being attracted partly by the fame 
of a church already built there by a recluse of Ravenna, 
Giovanni Vincenzo by name, and partly by the striking 
nature of the situation. Hugh de Montboissier when 
returning from Rome to France with Isengarde his wife, 
would, as a matter of course, pass through the valley of 
Susa. The two — perhaps when stopping to dine at 
S. Ambrogio — would look up and observe the church 
founded by Giovanni Vincenzo : they had got to build a 
monastery somewhere ; it would very likely, therefore, 
occur to them that they could not perpetuate their names 
better than by choosing this site, which was on a much 
travelled road, and on which a fine building would show 
to advantage. If my view is correct, we have here an 
illustration of a fact which is continually observable — 
namely, that aU things which come to much, whether 
they be books, buildings, pictures, music, or living 
beings, are suggested by others of their own kind. It 
is always the most successful, like Handel and Shake- 

88 Alps ana aanctuaries 

speare, who owe. most to their forerunners, in spite of 
the modifi.cations with which their works descend. 

Giovanni Vincenzo had built his church about the 
year 987. It is maintained by some that he had been 
Bishop of Ravenna, but Claretta gives sufficient reason 
for thinking otherwise. In the " Cronaca Clusina " it 
is said that he had for some years previously lived as 
a recluse on the Monte Caprasio, to the north of the 
present Monte Pirchiriano ; but that one night he had 
a vision, in which he saw the summit of Monte Pirchi- 
riano enveloped in heaven-descended flames, and on this 
founded a church there, and dedicated it to St. Michael. 
This is the origin of the name Pirchiriano, which means 
■Kvp Kvplavov, or the Lord's fire. 

The fame of the heavenly flames and the piety of 
pilgrims brought in enough money to complete the 
building — which, to judge from the remains of it em- 
bodied in the later work, must have been small, but 
still a church, "and more than a mere chapel or oratory. 
It was, as I have already suggested, probably imposing 
enough to fire the imagination of Hugh de Montboissier, 
and make him feel the capabilities of the situation, which 
a mere ordinary wayside chapel might perhaps have 
failed to do. Having built his church, Giovanni Vincenzo 
returned to his solitude on the top of Monte Caprasio, 
and thenceforth went backwards and forwards from one 
place of abode to the other. 

Avogadro is among those who make Giovanni Bishop, 
or rather Archbishop, of Ravenna, and gives the follow- 
ing account of the circumstances which led to his resign- 
ing his diocese and going to live at the top of the in- 
hqspitable Monte Caprasio. It seems there had been a 
confirmation at Ravenna, during which he had accident- 
ally forgotten to confirm the child of a certain widow. 

S, Michele 89 

The child, being in weakly health, died before Giovanni 
could repair his oversight, and this preyed upon his mind. 
In answer, however, to his earnest prayers, it pleased the 
Almighty to give him power to raise the dead child to 
life again : this he did, and having immediately per- 
formed the rite of confirmation, restored the boy to his 
overjoyed mother. He now became so much revered 
that he began to be alarmed lest pride should obtain 
dominion over him ; he felt, therefore, that his only 
course was to resign his diocese, and go and live the life 
of a recluse on the top of some high mountain. It is said 
that he suffered agonies of doubt as to whether it was not 
selfish of him to take such care of his own eternal welfare, 
at the expense of that of his flock, whorn no successor 
could so weU guide and guard from evil ; but in the end 
he took a reasonable view of the matter, and concluded 
that his first duty was to secure his own spiritual position. 
Nothing short of the top of a very uncomfortable moun- 
tain could do this, so he at once resigned his bishopric 
and chose Monte Caprasio as on the whole the most 
comfortable uncomfortable mountain he could find. 

The latter part of the story will seem strange to 
Englishmen. We can hardly fancy the Archbishop of 
Canterbury or York resigning his diocese and settling 
down quietly on the top of Scafell or Cader Idris to 
secure his eternal welfare. They woiild hardly do so 
even on the top of Primrose Hill. But nine hundred 
years ago human nature was not the same as nowadays. 

The valley of Susa, then little else than marsh and 
forest, was held by a marquis of the name of Arduin, a 
descendant of a French or Norman adventurer Roger, 
who, with a brother, also named Arduin, had come 
to seek his fortune in Italy at the beginning of the 
tenth century. Roger had a son, Arduin Glabrio, who 

go Alps and Sanctuaries 

recovered the valley of Susa from the Saracens, and 
established himself at Susa, at the junction of the roads 
that come down from Mont Cenis and the Mont Genevre. 
He built a castle here which commanded the valley, 
and was his base of operations as Lord of the Marches 
and Warden of the Alps. 

Hugh de Montboissier applied to Arduin for leave 
to build upon the Monte Pirchiriano. Arduin was then 
holding his court at Avigliana, a small town near S. 
Ambrogio, even now singularly little altered, and full 
of mediseval remains ; he not only gave his consent, 
but volunteered to sell a site to the monastery, so as to 
ensure it against future disturbance. 

The first church of Giovanni Vincenzo had been built 
upon whatever little space could be found upon the 
top of the mountain, without, so far as I can gather, 
enlarging the ground artificially. The present church 
— ^the one, that is to say, built by Hugh de Montboissier 
about A.D. 1000 — rests almost entirely upon stone piers 
and masonry. The rock has been masked by a lofty 
granite wall of several feet in thickness, which presents 
something of a keep-like appearance. The spectator 
naturally imagines that there are rooms, &c., behind 
this wall, whereas in point of fact there is nothing but 
the staircase leading up to the floor of the church. 
Arches spring from this masking wall, and are continued 
thence until the rock is reached ; it is on the level surface 
thus obtained that the church rests. The true floor, 
therefore, does not begin till near what appears from 
the outside to be the top of the building. 

There is some uncertainty as to the exact date of the 
foundation of the monastery, but Claretta* inclines 

* " Storia diplomatica dell' antica abbazia di S. Michele della 
Chiusa," by Gaudenzio Claretta. Turin, 1870. Pp. 8, 9. 

S. Michele 91 

decidedly to the date 999, as against 966, the one assigned 
by Mabillon andTorraneo. Claretta reUes on the discovery, 
by Provana, of a document in the royal archives which 
seems to place the matter beyond dispute. The first 
abbot was undoubtedly Avverto or Arveo, who established 
the rules of the Benedictine Order in his monastery. 
" In the seven hours of daily work prescribed by the 
Benedictine rule," writes Cesare Balbo, " innumerable 
were the fields they ploughed, and the houses they built in 
deserts, while in more irequented places men were laying 
cultivated ground waste, and destroying buildings : 
innumerable, again, were the works of the holy fathers 
and of ancient authors which were copied and pre- 

From this time forward the monastery received gifts in 
land and privileges, and became in a few years the most 
important religious establishment in that part of Italy. 

There have been several fires — one, among others, in 
the year 1340, which destroyed a great part of the 
monastery, and some of the deeds under which it held 
valuable grants ; but though the part inhabited by the 
monks may have been rebuilt or added to, the church is 
certainly untouched. 

* " Storia diplomatica dell' antica abbazia di S. Michele della 
Cliiusa," by Gaudenzio Claretta. Turin, 1870. P. 14. 

Chapter VIII 
S. Michele {continued^ 

I HAD often seen this wonderful pile of buildings, and 
had marvelled at it, as all must do who pass from 
Susa to Turin, but I never went actually up to it till last 
summer, in company with my friend and collaborateur , 
Mr. H. F. Jones. We reached S. Ambrogio station one 
sultry evening in July, and, before many minutes were 
over, were on the path that leads to San Pietro, a little 
more than an hour's walk above S. Ambrogio. 

In spite of what I have said about Kent, Surrey, and 
Sussex, we found ourselves thinking how thin and want- 
ing, as it were, in adipose cushion is every other country 
in comparison with Italy ; but the charm is enhanced 
in these days by the feeling that it can be reached so 
easily. Wednesday morning. Fleet Street ; Thursday 
evening, a path upon the quiet mountain side, under the 
overspreading chestnuts, with Lombardy at one's feet. 

Some twenty minutes after we had begun to climb, the 
sanctuary became lost to sight, large drops of thunder- 
rain began to fall, and by the time we reached San Pietro 
it was pouring heavily, and had become quite dark. 
An hour or so later the sky had cleared, and there was a 
splendid moon : opening the windows, we found our- 
selves looking over the tops of trees on to some lovely 
upland pastures, on a winding path through which 
we could almost fancy we saw a youth led by an angel, 


S. Michele 


and there was a dog with him, and he held a fish in his 
hand. Far below were lights from villages in the valley 
of the Dora. Above us rose the mountains, bathed in 
shadow, or glittering in the moonbeams, and there came 
from them the pleasant murmuring of streamlets that 
had been swollen by the storm. 

Next morning the sky was cloudless and the air in- 
vigorating. S. Ambrogio, at the foot of the mountain. 


must be some 800 feet aoove the sea, and San Pietro 
about 1500 feet above S. Ambrogio. The sanctuary at the 
top of the mountain is 2800 feet above the sea-level, or 
about 500 feet above San Pietro. A situation more de- 
lightful than that of San Pietro it is impossible to con- 
ceive. It contains some 200 inhabitants, and lies on a 
ledge of level land, which is, of course, covered with the 
most beautifully green grass, and in spring carpeted with 

94 Alps and Sanctuaries 

wild-flowers ; great broad-leaved chestnuts rise from 
out the meadows, and beneath their shade are strewn 
masses of sober mulberry-coloured rock ; but above all 
these rises the great feature of the place, from which, 
when it is in sight, the eyes can hardly be diverted, — I 
mean the sanctuary of S. Michele itself. 

A sketch gives but little idea of the place. In nature 
it appears as one of those fascinating things like the 
smoke from Vesuvius, or the town on the Sacro Monte at 
Varese, which take possession of one to the exclusion of 
all else, as long as they are in sight. From each point 
of view it becomes more and more striking. Clirnbing 
up to it from San Pietro and getting at last nearly on a 
level with the lower parts of the building, or again 
keeping to a pathway along the side of the mountain 
towards Avigliana, it will come as on the following 

There is a very beautiful view from near the spot 
where the first of these sketches is taken. We are then 
on the very ridge or crest of the mountain, and look 
down on the one hand upon the valley of the Dora going 
up to Susa, with the glaciers of the Mont Cenis in the 
background, and on the other upon the plains near Turin, 
with the colline bounding the horizon. Immediately 
beneath is seen the glaring white straight line of the old 
Mont Cenis road, looking much more important than 
the dingy narrow little strip of railroad that has super- 
seded it. The trains that pass along the line look no 
bigger than caterpillars, but even at this distance they 
make a great roar. If the path from which the second 
view is taken is followed for a quarter of an hour or so, 
another no less beautiful point is reached from which one 
can look down upon the two small lakes of Avigliana. 
These lakes supply Turin with water, and, I may add, 

S. Michele 





Alps and Sanctuaries 

with the best water that I know of as supphed to any 

We will now return to the place from which the first 
of the sketches on p. 95 was taken, and proceed to the 


sanctuary itself. Passing the small but very massive 
circular ruin shown on the right hand of the sketch, 
about which nothing whatever is known either as regards 
its date or object, we ascend by a gentle incline to the 

S. Michele 97 

outer gate of the sanctuary. The battered plates of iron 
that cover the wooden doors are marked with many a 
bullet. Then we keep under cover for a short space, 
after which we find ourselves at the foot of a long flight 
of steps. Close by there is a little terrace with a wall 
round it, where one can stand and enjoy a view over the 
valley of the Dora to Turin. 

Having ascended the steps, we are at the main en- 
trance to the building — a massive Lombard doorway, 
evidently the original one. In the space above the door 
there have been two frescoes, an earUer and a later one, 
one painted over the other, but nothing now remains 
save the signature of the second painter, signed in Gothic 
characters. On entering, more steps must be at once 
climbed, and then the staircase turns at right angles and 
tends towards the rock. 

At the head of the flight shown p. 98, the natural 
rock appears. The arch above it forms a recess filled 
with desiccated corpses. The great pier to the left, and, 
indeed, all the masonry that can be seen, has no other 
object than to obtain space for, and to support, the 
floor of the church itseli My drawing was taken from 
about the level of the top of the archway through which 
the building is entered. There comes in at this point a 
third small staircase from behind ; ascending this, one 
finds one's self in the window above the door, from the 
balcony of which there is a marvellous panorama. I 
took advantage of the window to measure the thickness 
of the walls, and found them a little over seven feet thick 
and built of massive granite blocks. The stones on the in- 
side are so sharp and clean cut that they look as if they were 
not more than;6fty years old. On the outside, the granite, 
hard as it is, is much weathered, which, indeed, consider- 
ing the exposed situation, is hardly to be wondered at. 


Alps and Sanctuaries 

Here again how the wind must howl and whistle, 
and how the snow must beat in winter ! No one who 
has not seen snow falling during a time when the ther- 
mometer is about at zero can know how searching a thing 


it is. How softly would it not lie upon the skulls and 
shoulders of the skeletons. Fancy a dull dark January 
afternoon's twilight upon this staircase, after a heavy 
snow, when the soft fleece clings to the walls, having 
drifted in through many an opening. Or fancy a brilliant 

S. Michele 


winter's moonlight, with the moon falUng upon the 
skeletons after snow. And then let there be a burst of 
music from an organ in the church above (I am sorry to 
say they have only a harmonium ; I wish some one would 
give them a fine organ). I should like the following for 
example : — * 

tr jcL 

I . I 


^^W^ t 









. 1/1 ^1 



--)— p — I.- 







How this would sound upon these stairs, if they would 
leave the church-door open. It is said in Murray's hand- 
book that formerly the corpses which are now under the 

* Handel ; slow movement in the fifth grand concerto. 

loo Alps and Sanctuaries 

arch, used to be placed in a sitting position upon the stairs, 
and the peasants would crown them with flowers. Fancy 
twilight or moonlight on these stairs, with the corpses 


sitting among the withered flowers and snow, and the 
pealing of a great organ. 

After ascending the steps that lead towards the 
skeletons, we turn again sharp round to the left, and 

S. Michele loi 

come upon another noble flight — broad and lofty, and 
cut in great measure from the living rock. 

At the top of this flight there are two sets of Lombard 
portals, both of them very fine, but in such darkness and 
so placed that it was impossible to get a drawing of them 
in detail. After passing through them, the staircase 
turns again, and, as far as I can remember, some twenty 
or thirty steps bring one up to the level of the top of the 
arch which forms the recess where the corpses are. 
Here there is another beautiful Lombard doorway, 
with a small arcade on either side which I thought 
English, rather than Italian, in character. An impression 
was produced upon both of us that this doorway and the 
arcade on either side were by a different architect from 
the two lower archways, and from the inside of the church ; 
or at any rate, that the details of the enrichment were 
cut by a different mason, or gang of masons. I think, 
however, the whole doorway is in a later style, and must 
have been put in after some fire had destroyed the earlier 

Opening the door, which by day is always unlocked, 
we found ourselves in the church itself. As I have said, 
it is of pure Lombard architecture, and very good of its 
kind ; I do not think it has been touched since the be- 
ginning of the eleventh century, except that it has been 
re-roofed and the pitch of the roof altered. At the base 
of the most westerly of the three piers that divide the 
nave from the aisles, there crops out a small piece of the 
living rock ; this is at the end farthest from the choir. 
It is not likely that Giovanni Vincenzo's church reached 
east of this point, for from this point onwards towards 
the choir the floor is artificially supported, and the 
supporting structure is due entirely to Hugo de Mont- 
boissier. The part of the original church which still 

I02 Alps and Sanctuaries 

remains is perhaps the wall, which forms the western 
limit of the present church. This wall is not external. It 
forms the eastern wall of a large chamber with frescoes. 
I am not sure that this chamber does not occupy the 
whole space of the original church. 

There are a few nice votive pictures in the church, 
and one or two very early frescoes, which are not without 
interest ; but the main charm of the place is in the 
architecture, and the sense at once of age and strength 
which it produces. The stock things to see are the vaults 
in which many of the members of the royal house of 
Savoy, legitimate and illegitimate, lie buried ; they need 
not, however, be seen. 

I have said that the whole building is of much about 
the same date, and, unless perhaps in the residential 
parts, about which I can say little, has not been altered. 
This is not the view taken by the author of Murray's 
Handbook for North Italy, who says that " injudicious 
repairs have marred the effect of the building ; " but 
this writer has fallen into several errors. He talks, for 
example, of the " open Lombard gallery of small circular 
arches " as being " one of the oldest and most curious 
features of the building," whereas it is obviously no older 
than the rest of the church, nor than the keep-like con- 
struction upon which it rests. Again, he is clearly in 
error when he says that the " extremely beautiful circular 
arch by which we pass from the staircase to the corridor 
leading to the church, is a vestige of the original building." 
The double round arched portals through which we pass 
from the main staircase to the corridor are of exactly the 
same date as the staircase itself, and as the rest of the 
church. They certainly formed no part of Giovanni 
Vincenzo's edifice ; for, besides being far too rich, they 
are not on a level with what remains of that building, but 

S. Michele 


several feet below it. It is hard to know what the writer 
means by " the original building ; " he appears to think 
it extended to the present choir, which, he says, " retains 
traces of an earlier age." The choir retains no such 
traces. The only remains of the original church are at the 
back of the west end, invisible from the inside of the 
church, and at the opposite end to the choir. As for the 
church being " in a plain Gothic style," it is an extremely 
beautiful example of pure Lombard, of the first few years 
of the eleventh century. True, the middle arch of the 


three which divide the nave from the aisles is pointed, 
whereas the two others are round, but this is evidently 
done to economise space, which was here unusually 
costly. There was room for more than two round arches, 
but not room enough for three, so it was decided to dock 
the middle arch a little. It is a she-arch — that is to say, 
it has no keystone, but is formed simply by propping 
two segments of a circle one against the other. It 
certainly is not a Gothic arch ; it is a Lombard arch, 
modified in an unusual manner, owing to its having been 
built under unusual conditions. 

I04 Alps and Sanctuaries 

The visitor should on no account omit to ring the bell 
and ask to be shown the open Lombard gallery already 
referred to as running round the outside of the choir. It 
is well worth walking round this, if only for the view. 

The official who showed us round was very kind, 
and as a personal favour we were allowed to visit the 
fathers' private garden. The large arm-chairs are made 
out of clipped box-trees. While on our way to the garden 
we passed a spot where there was an alarming buzzing, 
and found ourselves surrounded by what appeared to be 
an angry swarm of bees ; closer inspection showed that 
the host was a medley one, composed of wasps, huge 
hornets, hive-bees, humble-bees, flies, dragon-flies, butter- 
flies, and all kinds of insects, flying about a single patch 
of ivy in full blossom, which attracted them so strongly 
that they neglected everything else. I think some of 
them were intoxicated. If this was so, then perhaps 
Bacchus is called " ivy-crowned " because ivy-blossoms 
intoxicate insects, but I never remember to have before 
observed that ivy-blossoms had any special attraction 
for insects. 

I have forgotten to say anything about a beam of wood 
which may be seen standing out at right angles from the 
tower to the right of the main building. This I believe 
to have been the gallows. Another like it may be seen at 
S. Giorio, but I have not got it in my sketch of that place. 
The attendant who took us round S. Michele denied that 
it was the gallows, but I think it must have been. Also, 
the attendant showed us one place which is called II 
Salto delta hella Alda. Alda was being pursued by a 
soldier ; to preserve her honour, she leaped from a 
window and fell over a precipice some hundreds of feet 
below ; by the intercession of the Virgin she was saved, 
but became so much elated that she determined to repeat 

S. Michele 105 

the feat. She jumped a second time from the window, 
but was dashed to pieces. We were told this as being 
unworthy of actual credence, but as a legend of the 
place. We said we found no great difficulty in believing 
the first half of the story, but could hardly believe that 
any one would jump from that window twice.* 

* For documents relating to the sanctuary, see Appendix B, p. 309, 

Chapter IX 
The North ItaHan Priesthood 

THERE is now a school in the sanctuary ; we met the 
boys several times. They seemed well cared for 
and contented. The priests who reside in the sanctuary 
were courtesy itself ; they took a warm interest in 
England, and were anxious for any information I could 
give them about the monastery near Loughborough — a 
name which they had much difficulty in pronouncing. 
They were perfectly tolerant, and ready to extend to 
others the consideration they expected for themselves. 
This should not be saying much, but as things go it is 
saying a good deal. What indeed more can be wished 

The faces of such priests as these — and I should say 
such priests form a full half of the North Italian priest- 
hood — are perfectly free from that bad furtive expression 
which we associate with priestcraft, and which, when seen, 
cannot be mistaken : their faces are those of our own 
best English country clergy, with perhaps a trifle less 
flesh about them and a trifle more of a not unkindly 

Comparing our own clergy with the best North Italian 
and Ticinese priests, I should say there was little to 
choose between them. The latter are in a logically 
stronger position, and this gives them greater courage in 
their opinions ; the former have the advantage in respect 

1 06 

The North Italian Priesthood 107 

of money, and the more varied knowledge of the world 
which money will command. When I say Catholics have 
logically the advantage over Protestants, I mean that 
starting from premises which both sides admit, a merely 
logical Protestant will find himself driven to the Church 
of Rome. Most men as they grow older will, I think, feel 
this, and they will see in it the explanation of the com- 
paratively narrow area over which the Reformation ex- 
tended, and of the gain which Catholicism has made of 
late years here in England. On the other hand, reasonable 
people will look with distrust upon too much reason. 
The foundations of action lie deeper than reason can 
reach. They rest on faith — for there is no absolutely 
certain incontrovertible premise which can be laid by 
man, any more than there is any investment for money 
or security in the daily affairs of life which is absolutely 
tmimpeachable. The funds are not absolutely safe ; 
a volcano might break out under the Bank of England. 
A railway journey is not absolutely safe ; one person, 
at least, in several millions gets killed. We invest our 
money upon faith mainly. We choose our* doctor upon 
faith, for how httle independent judgment can we form 
concerning his capacity ? We choose schools for our 
children chiefly upon faith. The most important things 
a man has are his body, his soul, and his money. It is 
generally better for him to commit these interests to the 
care of others of whom he can know little, rather than be 
his own medical man, or invest his money on his own 
judgment ; and this is nothing else than making a faith 
which lies deeper than reason can reach, the basis of our 
action in those respects which touch us most nearly. 

On the other hand, as good a case could be made out 
for placing reason as the foundation, inasmuch as it 
would be easy to show that a faith, to be worth anything, 

io8 Alps and Sanctuaries 

must be a reasonable one — one, that is to say, which is 
based upon reason. The fact is, that faith and reason are 
hke desire and power, or demand and supply ; it is im- 
possible to say which comes first : they come up hand in 
hand, and are so small when we can first descry them, 
that it is impossible to say which we first caught sight of. 
All we can now see is that each has a tendency continually 
to outstrip the other by a little, but by a very httle only. 
Strictly they are not two things, but two aspects of one 
thing ; for convenience sake, however, we classify them 

It follows, therefore — but whether it follows or no, 
it is certainly true — that neither faith alone nor reason 
alone is a sufficient guide : a man's safety lies neither 
in faith nor reason, but in temper — in the power of 
fusing faith and reason, even when they appear most 
mutually destructive. A man of temper will be certain in 
spite of uncertainty, and at the same time uncertain in 
spite of certainty ; reasonable in spite of his resting 
mainly upon faith rather than reason, and full of faith 
even when appealing most strongly to reason. If it is 
asked. In what should a man have faith ? To what faith 
should he turn when reason has led him to a conclusion 
which he distrusts ? the answer is. To the current feeling 
among those whom he most looks up to — looking upon 
himself with suspicion if he is either among the foremost 
or the laggers. In the rough, homely common sense of 
the community to which we belong we have as firm ground 
as can be got. This, though not absolutely infalhble, is 
secure enough for practical purposes. 

As I have said, Catholic priests have rather a fascination 
for me — when they are not Englishmen. I should say 
that the best North Italian priests are more openly 
tolerant than our English clergy generally are. I re- 

The North Italian Priesthood 1 09 

member picking up one who was walking along a road, 
and giving him a lift in my trap. Of course we fell to 
talking, and it came out that I was a member of the 
Church of England. " Ebbene, caro Signore," said he 
when we shook hands at parting ; "mi rincresce che 
Lei non crede come me, ma in questi tempi non possiamo 
avere tutti i medesimi principii."* 

I travelled another day from Susa to S. Ambrogio 
with a priest, who told me he took in " The CathoUc 
Times," and who was well up to date on English matters. 
Being myself a Conservative, I found his opinions sound 
on all points but one — I refer to the Irish question : 
he had no sympathy with the obstructionists in Parlia- 
ment, but nevertheless thought the Irish were harshly 
treated. I explained matters as well as I could, and 
found him very willing to listen to our side of the question. 

The one thing, he said, which shocked him with the 
English, was the manner in which they went about dis- 
tributing tracts upon the Continent. I said no one could 
deplore the practice more profoundly than myself, but 
that there were stupid and conceited people in every 
country, who would insist upon thrusting their opinions 
upon people who did not want them. He replied that the 
ItaUans travelled not a little in England, but that he was 
sure not one of them would dream of offering Catholic 
tracts to people, for example, in the streets of London. 
Certainly I have never seen an Italian to be guilty of such 
rudeness. It seems to me that it is not only toleration that 
is a duty ; we ought to go beyond this now ; we should 
conform, when we are among a sufficient number of those 
who would not understand our refusal to do so ; any 
other course is to attach too much importance at once to 

* " Well, my dear sir, I am sorry you do not think as I do, but in 
these days we^cannot all of us start with the tame principles." 

no Alps and Sanctuaries 

our own opinions and to those of our opponents. By all 
means let a man stand by his convictions when the occa- 
sion requires, but let him reserve his strength, unless it 
is imperatively called for. Do not let him exaggerate 
trifles, and let him remember that everything is a trifle 
in comparison with the not giving offence to a large 
number of kindly, simple-minded people. Evolution, as 
we all know, is the great doctrine of modern times ; the 
very essence of evolution consists in the not shocking 
anything too violently, but enabling it to mistake a new 
action for an old one, without " making believe " too 

One day when I was eating my lunch near a fountain, 
there came up a moody, meditative hen, crooning plain- 
tively after her wont. I threw her a crumb of bread 
while she was still a good way off, and then threw more, 
getting her to come a little closer and a little closer each 
time ; at last she actually took a piece from my hand. 
She did not quite like it, but she did it. This is the 
evolution principle ; and if we wish those who differ 
from us to understand us, it is the only method to proceed 
upon. I have sometimes thought that some of my friends 
among the priests have been treating me as I treated the 
meditative hen. But what of that ? They will not kill 
and eat me, nor take my eggs. Whatever, therefore, 
promotes a more friendly feeling between us must be 
pure gain. 

The mistake our advanced Liberals make is that of 
flinging much too large pieces of bread at a time, and 
flinging them at their hen, instead of a little way ofE her. 
Of course the hen is fluttered and driven away. Some- 
times, too, they do not sufficiently distinguish between 
bread and stones. 

As a general rule, the common people treat the priests 

The North ItaUan Priesthood 1 1 1 

respectfully, but once I heard several attacking one 
warmly on the score of eternal punishment. " Sara," 
said one, " per cento anni, per cinque cento, per mille o 
forse per dieci mille anni, ma non sara eterna ; perche il 
Dio fe un uomo forte — grande, generoso, di buon cuore."* 
An Italian told me once that if ever I came upon a priest 
whom I wanted to tease, I was to ask him if he knew a 
place called La Torre Pellice. I have never yet had the 
chance of doing this ; for, though I am fairly quick at 
seeing whether I am likely to get on with a priest or no, I 
find the priest is generally fairly quick too ; and I am 
no sooner in a diUgence or railway carriage with an 
unsympathetic priest, than he curls himself round into 
a moral ball and prays horribly^ — bristling out with 
collects all over like a cross-grained spiritual hedgehog. 
Partly, therefore, from having no wish to go out of my 
way to ihake myself obnoxious, and partly through the 
opposite party being determined that I shall not get 
the chance, the question about La Torre Pellice has 
never come off, and I do not know what a priest would 
say if the subject were introduced,- — but I did get a 
talking about La Torre PeUice all the same. 

I was going from Turin to Pinerolo, and found myself 
seated opposite a fine-looking elderly gentleman who 
was reading a paper headed, " Le Temoin, Echo des 
Vallees Vaudoises " : for the Vaudois, or Waldenses, 
though on the Italian side of the Alps, are French in 
language and perhaps in origin. I fell to talking with 
this gentleman, and found he was on his way to La Torre 
Pellice, the headquarters of indigenous Italian evangeli- 
cism. He told me there were about 25,000 inhabitants 

* " It may be for a hundred, or for five|^ hundred years, or for a 
thousand, or even ten thousand, but it will not be eternal ; for God is a 
strong man — great, generous, and of large heart." 

112 Alps and banctuaries 

of these valleys, and that they were without exception 
Protestant, or rather that they had never accepted 
Catholicism, but had retained the primitive Apostolic 
faith in its original purity. He hinted to me that they 
were descendants of some one or more of the lost ten 
tribes of Israel. The English, he told me (meaning, I 
gather, the English of the England that affects Exeter 
Hall), had done great things for the inhabitants of La 
Torre at different times, and there were streets called the 
Via Williams and Via Beckwith. They were, he said, a 
very growing sect, and had missionaries and establish- 
ments in all the principal cities in North Italy ; in 
fact, so far as I could gather, they were as aggressive as 
malcontents generally are, and, Italians though they were, 
would give away tracts just as readily as we do. I did 
not, therefore, go to La Torre. 

Sometimes priests say things, as a matter of course, 
which would make any English clergyman's hair stand 
on end. At one town there is a remarkable fourteenth- 
century bridge, commonly known as " The Devil's 
Bridge." I was sketching near this when a jolly old 
priest with a red nose came up and began a conversation 
with me. He was evidently a popular character, for every 
one who passed greeted him. He told me that the devil 
did not really build the bridge. I said I presumed not, 
for he was not in the habit of spending his time so well. 

" I wish he had built it," said my friend ; " for then 
perhaps he would build us some more." 

" Or we might even get a church out of him," said I, a 
little slyly. 

" Ha, ha, ha ! we wiU convert him, and make a good 
Christian of him in the end." 

When will our Protestantism, or Rationalism, or what- 
ever it may be, sit as lightly upon ourselves ? 

Chapter X 
S. Ambrogio and Neighbourhood 

SINCE the opening of the railway, the old inn where 
the diligences and private carriages used to stop has 
been closed ; but I was made, in a homely way, ex- 


tremely comfortable at the Scudo di Francia, kept by 
Signor Bonaudo and his wife. I stayed here over a fort- 
night, during which I made several excursions. 


114 Alps and Sanctuaries 

One day I went to San Giorio, as it is always written, 
though San Giorgio is evidently intended. Here there 
is a ruined castle, beautifully placed upon a lull ; this 
castle shows well from the railway shortly after leaving 
Bussoleno station, on the right hand going towards 
Turin. Having been struck with it, I went by train to 
Bussoleno (where there is much that I was unwillingly 
compelled to neglect), and walked back to San Giorio. 
On my way, however, I saw a patch of Cima-da-Conegli- 
ano-looking meadow-land on a hill some way above me, 
and on this there rose from among the chestnuts what 
looked like a castellated mansion. I thought it well to 
make a digression to this, and when I got there, after a 
lovely walk, knocked at the door, having been told by 
peasants that there would be no difficulty about my 
taking a look round. The place is called the Castel 
Burrello, and is tenanted by an old priest who has retired 
hither to end his days. I sent in my card and business 
by his servant, and by-and-by he came out to me himself. 

" Vous etes Anglais, monsieur ? " said he in French. 

" Oui, monsieur." 

" Vous etes Catholique ? " 

" Monsieur, je suis de la religion de mes peres." 

" Pardon, monsieur, vos ancetres etaient Catholiques 
jusqu'au temps de Henri VIII." 

" Mais il y a trois cent ans depuis le temps de 
Henri VIII." 

" Eh bien ! chacun a ses convictions ; vous ne parlez 
pas contre la religion ? " 

"Jamais, jamais, monsieur; j'ai un respect enorme 
pour I'Eglise Catholique." 

" Monsieur, faites comme chez vous ; allez ou vous 
voulez ; vous trouverez toutes les portes ouvertes. 
Amusez-vous bien." 

San Giorio 


He then explained to me that the castle had never been 
a properly fortified place, being intended only as a 
summer residence for the barons of Bussoleno, who used 
to resort hither during the extreme heat, if times were 
tolerably quiet. After this he left me. Taking him at 
his word, I walked all roimd, but there was only a shell 
remaining ; the rest of the building had evidently been 
burnt, even the wing in which the present proprietor 


resides being, if I remember rightly, modernised. The 
site, however, and the sloping meadows which the castle 
crowns, are of extreme beauty. 

I now walked down to San Giorio, and found a small 
inn where I could get bread, butter, eggs, and good wine. 
I was waited upon by a good-natured boy, the son of the 
landlord, who was accompanied by a hawk that sat 
always either upon his hand or shoulder. As I looked 
at the pair I thought they were very much aUke, and 

1 1 6 Alps and Sanctuaries 

certainly they were very much in, love with one another. 
After dinner I sketched the castle. While I was doing so, 
a gentleman told me that a large breach in the wall was 
made a few years ago, and a part of the wall found to be 
hollow ; the bottom of the hollow part being unwittingly 
removed, there fell through a skeleton in a full suit of 
armour. Others, "whom I asked, had heard nothing of 

Talking of hawks, I saw a good many boys with tame 
young hawks in the villages round about. There was a 
tame hawk at the station of S. Ambrogio. The station- 
master said it used to go now and again to the church- 
steeple to catch sparrows, but would always return in an 
hour or two. Before my stay was over it got in the way 
of a passing train and was run over. 

Young birds are much eaten in this neighbourhood. 
The houses and barns, not to say the steeples of the 
churches, are to be seen stuck about with what look like 
terra-cotta water-bottles with the necks outwards. 
Two or three may be seen in the illustration on p. 113 
outside the window that comes out of the roof, on the 
left-hand side of the picture. I have seen some outside 
an Italian restaurant near Lewisham. They are artificial 
bird's-nests for the sparrows to build in : as soon as the 
young are old enough they are taken and made into a pie. 
The church-tower near the Hotel de la Poste at Lanzo 
is more stuck about with them than any other building 
that I have seen. 

Swallows and hawks are about the only birds whose 
young are not eaten. One afternoon I met a boy with a 
jay on his finger : having imprudently made advances 
to this young gentleman in the hopes of getting acquainted 
with the bird, he said he thought I had better buy it and 
have it for my dinner ; but I did not fancy it. Another 

S. Ambrogio 117 

day I saw the padrona at the inn-door talking to a lad, 
who pulled open his shirt-front and showed some twenty 
or thirty nestlings in the simple pocket formed by his 
shirt on the one side and his skin upon the other. The 
padrona wanted me to say I should like to eat them, in 
which case she would have bought them ; but one 
cannot get all the nonsense one hears at home out of one's 
head in a moment, and I am afraid I preached a little. 
The padrona, who is one of the most fascinating women 
in the world, and at sixty is still handsome, looked a little 
vexed and puzzled : she admitted the truth of what I 
said, but pleaded that the boys found it very hard to 
gain a few soldi, and if people didn't kill and eat one 
thing, they would another. The result of it all was that I 
determined for the future to leave young birds to their 
fate ; they and the boys must settle that matter between 
themselves. If the young bird was a boy, and the boy a 
young bird, it would have been the boy who was taken 
ruthlessly from his nest and eaten. An old bird has no 
right to have a homestead, and a young bird has no right 
to exist at all, unless they can keep both homestead and 
existence out of the way of boys who are in want of half- 
pence. It is all perfectly right, and when we go and stay 
among these charming people, let us do so as learners, 
not as teachers. 

I watched the padrona getting my supper ready. 
With what art do not these people manage their fire. The 
New Zealand Maoris say the white man is a fool : "He 
makes a large fire, and then has to sit away from it ; the 
Maori makes a smaU fire, and sits over it." The scheme 
of an Italian kitchen-fire is that there shall always be 
one stout log smouldering on the hearth, from which a 
few live coals may be chipped off if wanted, and put 
into the small square gratings which are used for stewing 

1 1 8 Alps and Sanctuaries 

or roasting. Any warming up, or shorter boiling, is 
done on the Maori principle of making a small fire of 
light dry wood, and feeding it frequently. They economise 
everything. Thus I saw the padrona wash some hen's 
eggs well in cold water ; I did not see why she should 
wash them before boiling them, but presently the soup 
which I was to have for my supper began to boil. Then 
she put the. eggs into the soup and boiled them in it. 

After supper I had a talk with the -padrone, who told 
me I was working too hard. " Totam noctem," said he in 
Latin, " lavoravimus et nihil incepimus." (" We have 
laboured all night and taken nothing.") " Oh ! " he 
continued, " I have eyes and ears in my head." And 
as he spoke, with his right hand he drew down his lower 
eyelid, and with his left pinched the pig of his ear. 
" You will be ill if you go on like this." Then he laid his 
hand along his cheek, put his head on one side, and shut 
his eyes, to imitate a sick man in bed. On this I arranged 
to go an excursion with him on the day following to a 
farm he had a few miles off, and to which he went every 

We went to Borgone station, and walked across the 
valley to a village called Villar Fochiardo. Thence we 
began gently to ascend, passing under some noble 
chestnuts. Signor Bonaudo said that this is one of the 
best chestnut-growing districts in Italy. A good tree, 
he told me, would give its forty francs a year. This seems 
as though chestnut-growing must be lucrative, for an acre 
should carry some five or six trees, and there is no outlay 
to speak of. Besides the chestnuts, the land gives a still 
further return by way of the grass that grows beneath 
them. Walnuts do not yield nearly so much per tree as 
chestnuts do. In three-quarters of an hour or so we 
reached Signor Bonaudo's farm, which was called the 

Casina di Banda 


'Casina di Banda. The buildings had once been a monas- 
tery, founded at the beginning of the seventeenth century 
and secularised by the first Napoleon, but had been 
purchased from the state a few years ago by Signor 
Bonaudo, in partnership with three others, after the 
passing of the Church Property Act. It is beautifully 
situated some hundreds of feet above the valley, and 
commands a lovely view of the Comba, as it is called, or 
Combe of Susa. The accompanying sketch will give an 
idea of the view looking towards Turin. The large 
building on the hill is, of course, S. Michele. The very 
distant dome is the Superga on the other side of Turin. 


The first thing Signor Bonaudo did when he got to his 
farm was to see whether the water had been duly turned 
on to his own portion of the estate. Each of the four 
purchasers had his separate portion, and each had a 
right to the water for thirty-six hours per week. Signor 
Bonaudo went round with his hind at once, and saw that 
the dams in the ducts were so opened or closed that his 
own land was being irrigated. 

Nothing can exceed the ingenuity with which the 
little canals are arranged so that each part of a meadow, 

I20 Alps and Sanctuaries 

however undulating, shall be saturated equally. The 
people are very jealous of their water rights, and indeed 
not unnaturally, for the yield of grass depends in very 
great measure upon the amount of irrigation which the 
land can get. 

The matter of the water having been seen to, we went 
to the monastery,- or, as it now is, the homestead. As 
we entered the farmyard we found two coWs fighting, 
and a great strapping wench belabouring them in order 
to separate them. " Let them alone," said the padrone ; 
" let them fight it out here on the level ground." Then 
he explained to me that he wished them to find out which 
was mistress, and fall each of them into her proper place, 
for if they fought on the rough hillsides they might easily 
break each other's necks. 

We walked all over the monastery. The day was 
steamy with frequent showers, and thunderstorms in the 
air. The rooms were dark and mouldy, and smelt rather 
of rancid cheese, but it was not a bad sort of rambling 
old place, and if thoroughly done up would make a 
delightful inn. There is a report that there is hidden 
treasure here. I do not know a single old castle or 
monastery in North Italy about which no such report is 
current, but in the present case there seems more than 
usual ground (so the hind told me) for believing the story 
to be well founded, for the monks did certainly smelt the 
quartz in the neighbourhood, and as no gold was ever 
known to leave the monastery, it is most likely that all 
the enormous quantity which they must have made 
in the course of some two centuries is still upon the 
premises, if one could only lay one's hands upon it. So 
reasonable did this seem, that about two years ago it was 
resolved to call in a somnambulist or clairvoyant from 
Turin, who, when he arrived at the spot, became seized 

Casina di Banda 


with convulsions, betokening of course that there was 
treasure not far off : these convulsions increased till he 
reached the choir of the chapel, and here he swooned — 
falling down as if dead, and being resuscitated with 
apparent difficulty. He afterwards declared that it was 
in this chapel that the treasure was hidden. In spite of 
all this, however, the chapel has not been turned upside 
down and ransacked, perhaps from fear of offending the 
saint to whom it is dedicated. 


In the chapel there are a few votive pictures, but not 
very striking ones. I hurriedly sketched one, but have 
failed to do it justice. The hind saw me copying the 
little girl in bed, and I had an impression as though he 
did not quite understand my motive. I told him I had a 
dear little girl of my own at home, who had been alarm- 
ingly ill in the spring, and that this picture reminded me 
of her. This made everything quite comfortable. 

We had brought up our dinner from S. Ambrogio, 

122 Alps and Sanctuaries 

and ate it in what had been the refectory of the monastery. 
The windows were broken, and the swallows, who had 
btiilt upon the ceiling inside the room, kept flying close 
to us all the time we were eating. Great mallows and 
hollyhocks peered in at the window, and beyond them 
there was a pretty Devonshire-looking orchard. The 
noontide sun streamed in at intervals between the 

After dinner we went " al cresto della coUina " — to 
the crest of the hill — to use Signor Bonaudo's words, 
and looked down upon S. Giorio, and the other villages 
of the Combe of Susa. Nothing could be more delightful. 
Then, getting under the chestnuts, I made the sketch 
which I have already given. While making it I was 
accosted by an under jawed man (there is an unusually 
large percentage of under jawed people in the neighbour- 
hood of S. Ambrogio), who asked whether my taking this 
sketch must not be considered as a sign that war was 
imminent. The people in this valley have bitter and 
comparatively recent experience of war, and are alarmed 
at anything which they fancy may indicate its recurrence. 
Talking further with him, he said, " Here we have no 
signori ; we need not take off our hats to any one except 
the priest. We grow all we eat, we spin and weave all we 
wear ; if all the world except our own valley were blotted 
out, it would make no difference, so long as we remain 
as we are and unmolested." He was a wild, weird, 
St. John the Baptist looking person, with shaggy hair, 
and an Andrea Mantegnesque feeling about him. I gave 
him a pipe of English tobacco, which he seemed to relish, 
and so we parted. 

I stayed a week or so at another place not a hundred 
miles from Susa, but I will not name it, for fear of causing 
offence. It was situated high, above the valley of the 

Neighbourhood of S. Ambrogio 123 

Dora, among the pastures, and just about the upper limit 
of the chestnuts. It offers a summer retreat, of which the 
people in Turin avail themselves in considerable numbers. 
The inn was a more sophisticated one than Signor 
Bonaudo's house at S. Ambrogio, and there were several 
Turin people staying there as well as myself, but there 
were no English. During the whole time I was in that 
neighbourhood I saw not a single English, French, or 
German tourist. The ways of the inn, therefore, were 
exclusively Italian, and I had a better opportunity of 
seeing the Italians as they are among themselves than 
I ever had before. 

Nothing struck me more than the easy terms on which 
every one, including the waiter, appeared to be with every 
one else. This, which in England would be impossible, 
is here not only possible but a matter of course, because 
the general standard of good breeding is distinctly higher 
than it is among ourselves. I do not mean to say that 
there are no rude or unmannerly Italians, but that 
there are fewer in proportion than there are in any other 
nation with which I have acquaintance. This is not to be 
wondered at, for the Italians have had a civilisation for 
now some three or four thousand years, whereas all other 
nations are, comparatively speaking, new countries, with 
a something even yet of colonial roughness pervading 
them. As the colonies to England, so is England to Italy 
in respect of the average standard of courtesy and good 
manners. In a new country everything has a tendency to 
go wild again, man included ; and the longer civilisation 
has existed in any country the more trustworthy and 
agreeable will its inhabitants be. This preface is neces- 
sary, as explaining how it is possible that things can be 
done in Italy without offence which would be intolerable 
elsewhere ; but I confess to feeling rather hopeless of 

124 Alps and Sanctuaries 

being able to describe what I actually saw without giving 
a wrong impression concerning it. 

Among the visitors was the head confidential clerk of 
a well-known Milanese house, with his wife and sister. 
The sister was an invalid, and so also was the husband, 
but the wife was a very pretty woman and a very merry 
one. The waiter was a good-looking young fellow of 
about five-and-twenty, and between him and Signora 
Bonvicino — for we will say this was the clerk's name — 
there sprang up a violent flirtation, all open and above 
board. The waiter was evidently very fond of her, but 
said the most atrociously impudent things to her from 
time to time. Dining under the veranda at the next 
table, I heard the Signora complain that the cutlets 
were burnt. So they were — very badly burnt. The 
waiter looked at them for a moment — threw her a con- 
temptuous glance, clearly intended to provoke war — 
"Chi non ha appetito* . . ." he exclaimed, and was 
moving off with a shrug of the shoulders. The Signora 
recognising a challenge, rose instantly from the table, 
and catching him by the nape of his neck, kicked him 
deftly downstairs into the kitchen, both laughing heartily, 
and the husband and sister joining. I never saw anything 
more neatly done. Of course, in a few minutes some 
fresh and quite unexceptionable cutlets made their 

Another morning, when I came down to breakfast, I 
found an altercation going on between the same pair as 
to whether the lady's nose was too large or not. It was 
not at all too large. It was a very pretty little nose. The 
waiter was maintaining that it was too large, and the 
lady that it was not. 

* " If a person has not got an appetite ..." 

Neighbourhood of S. Ambrogio 125 

One evening Signor Bonvicino told me that his em- 
ployer had a very large connection in England, and that 
though he had never been in London, he knew all about 
it almost as well as if he had. The great centre of business, 
he said, was in Red Lion Square. It was here his em- 
ployer's agent resided, and this was a more important part 
than even the city proper. I threw a drop or two of cold 
water on this, but without avail. Presently I asked 
what the waiter's name was, not having been able to catch 
it. I asked this of the Signora, and saw a Uttle look on 
her face as though she were not quite prepared to reply. 
Not understanding this, I repeated my question. 

" Oh ! his name is Cesare," was the answer. 

" Cesare ! But that is not the name I hear you call 
him by." 

" WeU, perhaps not ; we generally call him Cricco,"* 
and she looked as if she had suddenly remembered having 
been told that there were such things as prigs, and might, 
for aught she knew, be in the presence of one of these 
creatures now. 

Her husband came to the rescue. " Yes," said he, 
" his real name is Julius Csesar, but we call him Cricco. 
Cricco e un nome di paese ; parlando cosi non si offende 
la religione."t 

The Roman Catholic religion, if left to itself and not 
compelled to be introspective, is more kindly and less 
given to taking offence than outsiders generally believe. 
At the Sacro Monte of Varese they sell little round tin 
boxes that look like medals, and contain pictures of all 
the chapels. In the lid of the box there is a short printed 
account of the Sacro Monte, which winds up with the 

* The waiter's nickname no doubt was Cristo, which was softened 
into Cricco for the reason put forward below. — R. A. S. 

f "Cricco is a rustic appellation, and thus religion is not offended." 

126 Alps and Sanctuaries 

words, " La religione e lo stupendo panorama tirano 
numerosi ed allegri visitatori."* 

Our people are much too earnest to allow that a view 
could have anything to do with taking people up to the 
top of a hill where there was a cathedral, or that people 
could be " merry " while on an errand connected with 

On leaving this place I wanted to say good-bye to 
Signora Bonvicino, and could not find her ; after a time 
I heard she was at the fountain, so I went and found her 
on her knees washing her husband's and her own clothes, 
with her pretty round arms bare nearly to the shoulder. 
It never so much as occurred to her to mind being caught 
at this work. 

Some months later, shortly before winter, I returned 
to the same inn for a few days, and found it somewhat 
demoralised. There had been grand doings of some sort, 
and, though the doings were over, the moral and material 
debris were not yet quite removed. The famiglia Bon- 
vicino was gone, and so was Cricco. The cook, the new 
waiter, and the landlord (who sings a good comic song 
upon occasion) had all drunk as much wine as they could 
carry ; and later on I found Veneranda, the one-eyed 
old chambermaid, lying upon my bed fast asleep. I 
afterwards heard that, in spite of the autumnal weather, 
the landlord spent his night on the grass under the chest- 
nuts, while the cook was found at four o'clock in the 
morning lying at full length upon a table under the 
veranda. Next day, however, all had become normal 

Among our fellow-guests during this visit was a 
fiery-faced eructive butcher from Turin. A difference of 

* " Religion and the magnificent panorama attract numerous and 
merry visitors." 

Neighbourhood of S. Ambrogio 127 

opinion having arisen between him and his wife, I told 
the Signora that I would rather be wrong with her than 
right with her husband. The lady was delighted. 

" Do you hear that, my dear ? " said she. " He says 
he had rather be wrong with me than right with you. 
Isn't he a naughty man ? " 

She said that if she died her husband was going to 
marry a girl of fifteen. I said : " And if your husband 
dies, ma'am, send me a dispatch to London, and I will 
come and marry you myself." They were both delighted 
at this. 

She told UB the thunder had upset her and frightened 

"Has it given you a headache ? " 

She replied : No ; but it had upset her stomach. No 
doubt the thunder had shaken her stomach's confidence 
in the soundness of its opinions, so as to weaken its 
proselytising power. By and by, seeing that she ate a 
pretty good dinner, I inquired : 

" Is your stomach better now, ma'am ? " 

And she said it was. Next day my stomach was bad 

I told her I had been married, but had lost my wife 
and had determined never to marry again till I could 
find a widow whom I had admired as a married woman. 

Giovanni, the new waiter, explained to me that the 
butcher was not really bad or cruel at all. I shook my 
head at him and said I wished I could think so, but 
that his poor wife looked very ill and unhappy. 

The housemaid's name was La Rosa Mistica. 

The landlord was a favourite with all the guests. 
Every one patted him on the cheeks or the head, or 
chucked him under the chin, or did something nice and 
friendly at him. He was a little man with a face like a 

128 Alps and Sanctuaries 

russet pippin apple, about sixty-five years old, but made 
of iron. He was going to marry a third wife, and six 
young women had already come up from S. Ambrogio 
to be looked at. I saw one of them. She was a Visigoth- 
looking sort of person and wore a large wobbly-brimmed 
straw hat ; she was about forty, and gave me the im- 
pression of being familiar with labour of all kinds. He 
pressed me to give my opinion of her, but I sneaked out 
of it by declaring that I must see a good deal more of the 
lady than I was ever likely to see before I could form an 
opinion at all. 

On coming down from the sanctuary one afternoon I 
heard the landlord's comic song, of which I have spoken 
above. It was about the musical instruments in a band : 
the trumpet did this, the clarinet did that, the flute went 
tootle, tootle, tootle, and there was an appropriate 
motion of the hand for every instrument. I was a little 
disappointed with it, but the landlord said I was too 
serious and the only thing that would cure me was to 
learn the song myself. He said the butcher had learned 
it already, so it was not hard, which indeed it was not. 
It was about as hard as : 

The battle of the Nile 
I was there all the while 
At the battle of the Nile. 

I had to learn it and sing it (Heaven help me, for I 
have no more voice than a mouse !), and the landlord said 
that the motion of my little finger was very promising. 

The chestnuts are never better than after harvest, 
when they are heavy-laden with their pale green hedgehog- 
like fruit and alive with people swarming among their 
branches, pruning them while the leaves are still good 
winter food for cattle. Why, I wonder, is there such an 

Neighbourhood of S. Ambrogio 129 

especial charm about the pruning of trees ? Who does 
not feel it ? No matter what the tree is, the poplar of 
France, or the brookside willow or oak coppice of England, 
or the chestnuts or mulberries of Italy, all are interesting 
when being pruned, or when pruned just lately. A 
friend once consulted me casually about a picture on 
which he was at work, and complained that a row of 
trees in it was without sufficient interest. I was fortunate 
enough to be able to help him by saying : " Prune them 
freely and put a magpie's nest in one of them," and the 
trees became interesting at once. People in trees always 
look well, or rather, I should say, trees always look 
well with people in them, or indeed with any living thing 
in them, especially when it is of a kind that is not com- 
monly seen in them ; and the measured lop of the bill- 
hook and, by and by, the click as a bough breaks and 
the lazy crash as it falls over on to the ground, are as 
pleasing to the ear as is the bough-bestrewn herbage to 
the eye. 

To what height and to what slender boughs do not 
these hardy climbers trust themselves. It is said that the 
coming man is to be toeless. I will venture for it that he 
will not be toeless if these chestnut-pruning men and 
women have much to do with his development. Let the 
race prune chestnuts for a couple of hundred generations 
or so, and it will have little trouble with its toes. Of 
course, the pruners fall sometimes, but very rarely. I 
remember in the Val Mastallone seeing a votive picture 
of a poor lady in a short petticoat and trousers trimmed 
with red round the bottom who was falling head foremost 
from the top of a high tree, whose leaves she had been 
picking, and was being saved by the intervention of two 
saints who caught her upon two gridirons. Such acci- 
dents, however, and, I should think, such interventions, 

130 Alps and Sanctuaries 

are exceedingly rare, and as a rule the peasants venture 
freely into places which in England no one but a sailor or 
a steeple-jack would attempt. 

And so we left this part of Italy, wishing that more 
Hugo de Montboissiers had committed more crimes and 
had had to expiate them by building more sanctuaries. 

Chapter XI 

FROM S. Ambrogio we went to Turin, a city so well 
known that I need not describe it. The Hotel 
Europa is the best, and, indeed, one of the best hotels 
on the continent. Nothing can exceed it for comfort and 
good cookery. The gallery of old masters contains some 
great gems. Especially remarkable are two pictures of 
Tobias and the angel, by Antonio PoUaiuolo and Sandro 
Botticelli ; and a magnificent tempera painting of the 
Crucifixion, by Gaudenzio Ferrari — one of his very finest 
works. There are also several other pictures by the same 
master, but the Crucifixion is the best. 

From Turin I went alone to Lanzo, about an hour and 
a half's railway journey from Turin, and found a com- 
fortable inn, the Hotel de la Poste. There is a fine four- 
teenth-century tower here, and the general effect of the 
town is good. 

One morning while I was getting my breakfast, English 
fashion, with some cutlets to accompany my bread and 
butter, I saw an elderly Italian gentleman, with his hand 
up to his chin, eyeing me with thoughtful interest. After 
a time he broke silence. 

" Ed il latte," he said, " serve per la suppa."* 

I said that that was the view we took of it. He thought 
it over a while, and then feelingly exclaimed — 

* " And the milk [in your coffee] does for you instead of soup." 


132 Alps and Sanctuaries 

" Oh bel ! " 

Soon afterwards he left me with the words — 

" La ! dunque ! cerrea ! chow ! stia bene." 


" La " is a very common close to an Italian conversa- 
tion. I used to be a little afraid of it at first. It sounds 
rather like saying, " There, that's that. Please to bear 



in mind that I talked to you very nicely, and let you bore 
me for a long time ; I think I have now done the thing 
handsomely, so you'll be good enough to score me one and 
let me go." But I soon fotmd out that it was quite a 
friendly and civil way of saying good-bye. 

.D^ijuia. S.itJ/fr-- 


The " dunque " is softer ; it seems to say, " I cannot 
bring myself to say so sad a word as ' farewell,' but we 
must both of us know that the time has come for us to 
part, and so " 

" Cerrea " is an abbreviation and corruption of " di 
sua Signoria," — "by your highness's leave." "Chow" 

134 Alps and Sanctuaries 

I have explained already. " Stia bene " is simply 
" farewell." 

The principal piazza of Lanzo is nice. In the upper 
part of the town there is a large school or coUege. One 
can see into the school through a grating from the road. 
I looked down, and saw that the boys had cut their names 
all over the desks, just as English boys would do. They 
were very merry and noisy, and though there was a 
priest standing at one end of the room, he let them do 
much as they liked, and they seemed quite happy. I 
heard one boy shout out to another, " Non c' e pericolo," 
in answer to something the other had said. This is 
exactly the " no fear " of America and the colonies. 
Near the school there is a field on the slope of the hill 
which commands a view over the plain. A woman was 
mowing there, and, by way of making myself agreeable, I 
remarked that the view was fine. " Yes, it is," she an- 
swered ; " you can see all the trains." 

The baskets with which the people carry things in this 
neighbourhood are of a different construction from any 
I have seen elsewhere. They are made to fit all round the 
head like something between a saddle and a helmet, 
and at the' same time to rest upon the shoulders — the 
head being, as it were, ensaddled by the basket, and the 
weight being supported by the shoulders as well as by the 
head. Why is it that such contrivances as this should 
prevail in one valley and not in another ? If, one is 
tempted to argue, the plan is a convenient one, why does 
it not spread further ? If inconvenient, why has it spread 
so far ? If it is good in the valley of the Stura, why is it 
not also good in the contiguous vE^lley of the Dora ? 
There must be places where people using helmet-made 
baskets live next door to people who use baskets that 
are borne entirely by back and shoulders. Why do not 

Lanzo 135 

the people in one or other of these houses adopt their 
neighbour's basket ? Not because people are not amen- 
able to conviction, for within a certain radius from the 
source of the invention they are convinced to a man. 
Nor again is it from any insuperable objection to a change 
of habit. The Stura people have changed their habit^ — 
possibly for the worse ; but if they have changed it for 
the worse, how is it they do not find it out and change 
again ? 

Take, again, the fane Gnssino, from which the neigh- 
bourhood of Turin has derived its nickname of il Grissi- 
notto. It is made in long sticks, rather thicker than a 
tobacco pipe, and eats crisp like toast. It is almost 
universally preferred to ordinary bread by the inhabitants 
of what was formerly Piedmont, but beyond these limits 
it is rarely seen. Why so ? Either it is good or not good. 
If not good, how has It prevailed over so large an area ? 
If good, why does it not extend its empire ? The Reforma- 
tion is another case in point : granted that Protestantism 
is illogical, how is it that so few within a given area can 
perceive it to be so ? The same question arises in respect 
of the distribution of many plants and animals ; the 
reason of the limits which some of them .cannot pass, 
being, indeed, perfectly clear, but as regards perhaps the 
greater number of them, undiscoverable. The upshot 
of it is that things do not in practice find their perfect 
level any more than water does so, but are liable to 
disturbance by way of tides and local currents, or storms. 
It is in his power to perceive and profit by these irregu- 
larities that the strength or weakness of a commercial 
man will be apparent. 

One day I made an excursion from Lanzo to a place, 
the name of which I cannot remember, but which is not 
far from the Groscavallo glacier. Here I found several 

136 Alps and Sanctuaries 

Italians staying to take the air, and among them one 
young gentleman, who told me he was writing a book 
upon this neighbourhood, and was going to illustrate it 
with his own drawings. This naturally interested me, 
and I encouraged him to tell me more, which he was 
nothing loth to do. He said he had a passion for drawing, 
and was making rapid progress ; but there was one 
thing that held him back — the not having any Conte 


chalk : if he had but this, all his difficulties would vanish. 
Unfortunately I had no Conte chalk with me, but I asked 
to see the drawings, and was shown about twenty, all of 
which greatly pleased me. I at once proposed an ex- 
change, and have thus become possessed of the two which 
I reproduce here. Being pencil drawings, and not done 
with a view to Mr. Dawson's process, they have suffered 
somewhat in reproduction, but I decided to let them 
suffer rather than attempt to copy them. What can be 



more absolutely in the spirit of the fourteenth century 
than the drawings given above ? They seem as though 
done by some fourteenth-century painter who had risen 
from the dead. And to show that they are no rare acci- 
dent, I will give another (p. 138), also done by an entirely 
self-taught Italian, and intended to represent the castle 
of Laurenzana in the neighbourhood of Potenza. 

If the reader will pardon a digression, I will refer to a 


more important example of an old master born out of due 
time. One day, in the cathedral at Varallo, I saw a 
picture painted on linen of which I could make nothing. 
It was not old and it was not modern. The expression 
of the Virgin's face was lovely, and there was more 
individuality than is commonly found in modern Italian 
work. Modern Italian colour is generally either cold and 
dirty, or else staring. The colour here was tender, and 
reminded me of fifteenth-century Florentine work. The 

138 Alps and Sanctuaries 

folds of the drapery were not modern ; there was a sense 
of effort about them, as though the painter had tried to 
do them better, but had been unable to get them as free 
and flowing as he had wished. Yet the picture was not 
old ; to all appearance it might have been painted a 
matter of ten years ; nor again was it an echo — it was a 
sound : the archaism was not affected ; on the contrary. 


there was something which said, as plainly as though the 
living painter had spoken it, that his somewhat con- 
strained treatment was due simply to his having been 
puzzled with the intricacy of what he saw, and giving 
as much as he could with a hand which was less advanced 
than his judgments By some strange law it comes about 
that the imperfection of men who are at this stage of any 
art is the only true perfection ; for the wisdom of the wise 

Dedomenici of Rossa 139 

is set at naught, and the foohshness of the simple is 
chosen, and it is out of the mouths of babes and suckhngs 
that strength is ordained. 

Unable to arrive at any conclusion, I asked the sacris- 
tan, and was told it was by a certain Dedomenici of 
Rossa, in the Val Sesia, and that it had been painted some 
forty or fifty years ago. I expressed my surprise, and the 
sacristan continued : " Yes, but what is most wonderful 
about him is that he never left his native valley, and 
never had any instruction, but picked up his art for 
himself as best he could." 

I have been twice to Varallo since, to see whether I 
should change my mind, but have not done so. If 
Dedomenici had been a Florentine or Venetian in the 
best times, he would have done as well as the best ; 
as it is, his work is remarkable. He died about 1840, 
very old, and he kept on improving to the last. His last 
work — at least I was told upon the spot that it was his 
last — is in a little roadside chapel perched high upon a 
rock, and dedicated, if I remember rightly, to S. Michele, 
on the path from Fobello in the Val Mastallone to Tapon- 
accio. It is a Madonna and child in clouds, with two fuU- 
length saints standing beneath — all the figures life-size. 
I came upon this chapel quite accidentally one evening, 
and, looking in, recognised the altar-piece as a Dedome- 
nici. I inquired at the next village who had painted it, 
and was told, " un certo Dedomenici da Rossa." I 
was also told that he was nearly eighty years old when he 
painted this picture. I went a couple of years ago to 
reconsider it, and found that I remained much of my 
original opinion. I do not think that any of my readers 
who care about the history of Italian art will regret 
having paid it a visit. 

Such men are more common in Italy than is believed. 

140 Alps and Sanctuaries 

There is a fresco of the Crucifixion outside the Campo 
Santo at Fusio, in the Canton Ticino, done by a local 
artist, which, though far inferior to the work of Dedo- 
menici, is still remarkable. The painter evidently knows 
nothing of the rules of his art, but hfe has made Christ 
on the cross bowing His head towards the souls in purga- 
tory, instead of in the conventional fine frenzy to which 
we are accustomed. There is a storm which has caught 
and is sweeping the drapery round Christ's body. The 
angel's wings are no longer white, but many coloured as 
in old times, and there is a touch of humour in the fact 
that of the six souls in purgatory, four are women and 
only two men. The expression on Christ's face is very 
fine, but otherwise the drawing co.uld not well be more 
imperfect than it is. 

Chapter XII 

Considerations on the Decline of 
Italian Art 

THOSE who know the Italians will see no sign of 
decay about them. They are the. quickest witted 
people in the world, and at the same time have much 
more of the old Roman steadiness than they are generally 
credited with. Not only is there no sign of degeneration, 
but, as regards practical matters, there is every sign of 
health and vigorous development. The North Italians 
are more like Englishmen, both in body and mind, than 
any other people whom I know ; I am continually 
meeting Italians whom I should take for Englishmen if 
I did not know their nationality. They have all our 
strong points, but they have more grace and elasticity 
of mind than we have. 

Priggishness is the sin which doth most easily beset 
middle-class and so-called educated Englishmen : we 
call it purity and culture, but it does not much matter 
what we call it. It is the almost inevitable outcome of a 
university education, and will last as long as Oxford and 
Cambridge do, but not much longer. 

Lord Beaconsfield sent Lothair to Oxford ; it is with 
great pleasure that I see he did not send Endymion. 
My friend Jones called my attention to this, and we noted 
that the growth observable throughout Lord Beacons- 
field's life was continued to the end. He was one of those 


142 Alps and Sanctuaries 

who, no matter how long he Hved, would have been 
always growing : this is what makes his later novels so 
much better than those of Thackeray or Dickens. There 
was something of the child about him to the last. Earnest- 
ness was his greatest danger, but if he did not quite over- 
come it (as who indeed can ? It is the last enemy that 
shall be subdued), he managed to veil it with a fair 
amount of success. As for Endymion, of course if Lord 
Beaconsfield had thought Oxford would be good for him, 
he could, as Jones pointed out to me, just as well have 
killed Mr. Ferrars a year or two later. We feel satisfied, 
therefore, that Endymion's exclusion from a university 
was carefully considered, and are glad. 

I will not say that priggishness is absolutely unknown 
among the North Italians ; sometimes one comes upon a 
young Italian who wants to learn German, but not often. 
Priggism, or whatever the substantive is, is as essentially 
a Teutonic vice as holiness is a Semitic characteristic ; 
and if an Italian happens to be a prig, he will, like Tacitus, 
invariably show a hankering after German institutions. 
The idea, however, that the Italians were ever a finer 
people than they are now, will not pass muster with those 
who know them. 

At the same time, there can be no doubt that modern 
Italian art is in many respects as bad as it was once 
good. I will confine myself to painting only. The modern 
Italian painters, with very few exceptions, paint as badly 
as we do, or even worse, and their motives are as poor 
as is their painting. At an exhibition of modern Italian 
pictures, I generally feel that there is hardly a picture 
on the walls but is a sham^ — that is to say, painted not 
from love of this particular subject and an irresistible 
desire to paint it, but from a wish to paint an academy 
picture, and win money or applause. 

Decline of Italian Art 143 

The same holds good in England, and in all other 
countries that I know of. There is very httle tolerable 
painting anywhere. In some kinds, indeed, of black 
and white work the present age is strong. The illustra- 
tions to " Punch," for example, are often as good as 
anything that can be imagined. We know of nothing 
like them in any past age or country. This is the one 
kind of art — and it is a very good one — in which we excel 
as distinctly as the age of Phidias excelled in sculpture. 
Leonardo da Vinci would never have succeeded in 
getting his drawings accepted at 85 Fleet Street, any 
more than one of the artists on the staff of " Punch " 
could paint a fresco which should hold its own against 
Da Vinci's Last Supper. Michael Angelo again and Titian 
would have failed disastrously at modern illustration. 
They had no more sense of humour than a Hebrew 
prophet ; they had no eye for the more trivial side 
of anything round about them. This aspect went in at 
one eye and out at the other — and they lost more than 
ever poor Peter Bell lost in the matter of primroses. I 
never can see what there was to find fault with in that 
young man. 

Fancy a street-Arab by Michael Angelo. Fancy even 
the result which would have ensued if he had tried to put 
the figures into the illustrations of this book. I should 
have been very sorry to let him try his hand at it. To 
him a priest chucking a small boy under the chin was 
simply non-existent. He did not care for it, and had 
therefore no eye for it. If the reader will turn to the 
copy of a fresco of St. Christopher on p. 209, he will see 
the conventional treatment of the rocks on either side the 
saint. This was the best thing the artist could do, and 
probably cost him no little trouble. Yet there were rocks 
all around him — little, in fact, else than rock in those 

144- Alps and Sanctuaries 

days ; and the artist could have drawn them well enough 
if it had occurred to him to try and do so. If he could 
draw St. Christopher, he could have drawn a rock ; but 
he had an interest in the one, and saw nothing in the 
other which made him think it worth while to pay 
attention to it. What rocks were to him, the common 
occurrences of everyday life were to those who are gener- 
ally held to be the giants of painting. The result of 
this neglect to kiss the soil — of this attempt to be always 
soaring — is that these giants are for the most part now 
very uninteresting, while the smaller men who preceded 
them grow fresher and more delightful yearly. It was 
not so with Handel and Shakespeare. Handel's 

" Ploughman near at hand, whistling o'er the furrowed land," 

is intensely sympathetic, and his humour is admirable 
whenever he has occasion for it. 

Leonardo da Vinci is the only one of the giant Italian 
masters who ever tried to be humorous, and he failed 
completely r so, indeed, must any one if he tries to be 
humorous. We do not want this ; we only want them 
not to shut their eyes to by-play when it comes in their 
way, and if they are giving us an account of what they 
have seen, to tell us something about this too. I believe 
the older the world grows, the better it enjoys a joke. 
The mediaeval joke generally was a heavy, lumbering 
old thing, only a little better than the classical one. 
Perhaps in those days life was harder than it is now, and 
people if they looked at it at all closely dwelt upon its 
soberer side. Certainly in humorous art, we may claim 
to be not only frincipes, but facile princifes. Neverthe- 
less, the Italian comic journals are, some of them, ad- 
mirably illustrated, though in a style quite different from 
our own ; sometimes, also, they are beautifully coloured. 

Decline of Italian Art 


As regards painting, the last rays of the sunset of 
genuine art are to be found in the votive pictures at 
Locarno or Oropa, and in many a wayside chapel. In 
these, religious art still lingers as a living language, 
however rudely spoken. In these alone is the story told, 
not as in the Latin and Greek verses of the scholar, who 
thinks he has succeeded best when he has most concealed 
his natural manner of expressing himself, but by one who 
knows what he wants to say, and says it in his mother- 
tongue, shortly, and without 
caring whether or not his words 
are in accordance with acade- 
mic rules. I regret to see 
photography being introduced 
for votive purposes, and also 
to detect in some places a 
disposition on the part of the 
authorities to be a little 
ashamed of these pictures and 
to place them rather out of 

Sometimes in a little country 
village, as at Doera near 
Mesocco, there is a modern 
fresco on a chapel in which the old spirit appears, with 
its absolute indifference as to whether it was ridiculous 
or no, but such examples are rare. 

Sometimes, again, I have even thought I have detected 
a ray of sunset upon a milkman's window-blind in 
London, and once upon an undertaker's, but it was too 
faint a ray to read by. The best thing of the kind 
that I have seen in London is the picture of the lady 
who is cleaning knives with Mr. Spong's patent knife- 
cleaner, in his shop window nearly opposite Day & 


146 Alps and Sanctuaries 

Martin's in Holborn. It falls a long way short, how- 
ever, of a good Italian votive picture ; but it has the 
advantage of moving. 

I knew of a little girl once, rather less than four years 
old, whose uncle had promised to take her for a drive in 
a carriage with him, and had failed to do so. The child 
was found soon afterwards on the stairs weeping, and 
being asked what was the matter, replied, " Mans is all 
alike." This is Giottesque. I often think of it as I look 
upon Italian votive pictures. The meaning is so sound 
in spite of the expression being so defective — if, indeed, 
expression can be defective when it has so well conveyed 
the meaning. 

I knew, again, an old lady whose education had been 
neglected in her youth. She came into a large fortune, 
and at some forty years of age put herself under the best 
masters. She once said to me as follows, speaking very 
slowly and allowing a long time between each part of the 
sentence ; — " You see," she said, " the world, and all 
that it contains, is wrapped up in such curious forms, 
that it is only by a knowledge of human nature, that we 
can rightly tell what to say, to do, or to admire." I 
copied the sentence into my note-book immediately on 
taking my leave. It is like an academy picture. 

But to return to the Italians. The question is, how 
has the deplorable falling-off in Italian painting been 
caused ? And by doing what may we again get Bellinis 
and Andrea Mantegnas as in old time ? The fault does 
not lie in any want of raw material : the drawings I 
have already given prove this. Nor, again, does it lie 
in want of taking pains. The modern Italian painter 
frets himself to the full as much as his predecessor did — 
if the truth were known, probably a great deal more. It 
does not lie in want of schooling or art education. For 

Decline of Italian Art 


the last three hundred years, ever since the Carracci 
opened their academy at Bologna, there has been no lack 
of art education in Italy. Curiously enough, the date 
of the opening of the Bolognese Academy coincides as 
nearly as may be with the complete decadence of Italian 


This is an example of the way in which Italian boys 
begin their art education now. The drawing which I 
reproduce here was given me by the eminent sculptor, 
Professor Vela, as the work of a lad of twelve years old, 
and as doing credit alike to the school where the lad was 
taught and to the pupil himself.* 

* Butler said of this drawing that it was " the hieroglyph of a lost 
soul."— R. A. S. 

148 Alps and Sanctuaries 

So it undoubtedly does. It shows as plainly the recep- 
tiveness and docility of the modern Italian, as the 
illustrations given above show his freshness and naivete 
when left to himself. The drawing is just such as we try 
to get our own young people to do, and few English ele- 
mentary schools in a small country town would succeed in 
turning out so good a one. I have nothing, therefore, but 
praise both for the pupil and the teacher ; but about the 
system which makes such teachers and such pupils com- 
mendable, I am more sceptical. That system trains boys 
to study other people's works rather than nature, and, as 
Leonardo da Vinci so well says, it makes them nature's 
grandchildren and not her children. The boy who did the 
drawing given above is not likely to produce good work in 
later life. He has been taught to see nature with an old 
man's eyes at once, without going through the embryonic 
stages. He has never said his " mans is all alike," and by 
twenty will be painting like my old friend's long academic 
sentence. All his individuality has been crushed out of him. 

I will now give a reproduction of the frontispiece 
to Avogadro's work on the sanctuary of S. Michele, 
from which I have already quoted ; it is a very pretty 
and effective piece of work, but those who are good 
enough to turn back to p. 93, and to believe that I 
have drawn carefully, will see how disappointing Avo- 
gadro's frontispiece must be to those who hold, as most 
of us wiU, that a draughtsman's first business is to put 
down what he sees, and to let prettiness take care of 
itself. The main features, indeed, can still be traced, 
but they have become as transformed and lifeless as 
rudimentary organs. Such a frontispiece, however, is 
the almost inevitable consequence of the system of 
training that will make boys of twelve do drawings like 
the one given on p. 147. 

Decline of Italian Art 149 

If half a dozen young Italians could be got together 
with a taste for drawing like that shown by the authors 
of the sketches on pp. 136, 137, 138 ; if they had power 
to add to their number ; if they were allowed to see 
paintings and drawings done up to the year a.d. 1510, 
and votive pictures and the comic papers ; if they were 
left with no other assistance than this, absolutely free to 
please themselves, and could be persuaded not to try 
and please any one else, I believe that in fifty years we 


should have all that was ever done repeated with fresh 
naivete, and as much more delightfully than even by the 
best old masters, as these are more delightful than any- 
thing we know of in classic painting. The young plants 
keep growing up abundantly every day — ^look at Bas- 
tianini, dead not ten years since — but they are browsed 
down by the academies. I remember there came out a 
book many years ago with the title, " What becomes of all 
the clever little children ? " I never saw the book, but 
the title is pertinent. 

150 Alps and Sanctuaries 

Any man who can write, can draw to a not incon- 
siderable extent. Look at the Bayeux tapestry ; yet 
Matilda probably never had a drawing lesson in her life. 
See how well prisoner after prisoner in the Tower of 
London has cut this or that out in the stone of his prison 
wall, without, in all probability, having ever tried his 
hand at drawing before. Look at my friend Jones, who 
has several illustrations in this book. The first year he 
went abroad with me he could hardly draw at all. He 
was no year away from England more than three weeks. 
How did he learn ? On the old principle, if I am not 
mistaken. The old principle was for a man to be doing 
something which he was pretty strongly bent on doing, 
and to get a much younger one to help him. The younger 
paid nothing for instruction, but the elder took the work, 
as long as the relation of master and pupil existed between 
them. I, then, was making illustrations for this book, 
and got Jones to help me. I let him see what I was doing, 
and derive an idea of the sort of thing I wanted, and then 
left him alone — beyond giving him the same kind of small 
criticism that I expected from himself — ^but I appropriated 
his work. That is the way to teach, and the result was 
that in an incredibly short time Jones could draw. 
The taking the work is a sine qua non. If I had not been 
going to have his work, Jones, in spite of all his quick- 
ness, would probably have been rather slower in learn- 
ing to draw. Being paid in money is nothing like so 

This is the system of apprenticeship versus the academic 
system. The academic system consists in giving people 
the rules for doing things. The apprenticeship system 
consists in letting them do it, with just a trifle of super- 
vision. " For all a rhetorician's rules," says my great 
namesake, " teach nothing, but to name his tools ; " 

Decline of Italian Art 151 

and academic rules generally are much the same as the 
rhetorician's. Some men can pass through academies 
unscathed, but they are very few, and in the main the 
academic influence is a baleful one, whether exerted in a 
university or a school. While young men at universities 
are being prepared for their entry into life, their rivals 
have already entered it. The most university and 
examination ridden people in the world are the Chinese, 
and they are the least progressive. 

Men should learn to draw as they learn conveyancing : 
they should go into a painter's studio and paint on his 
pictures. I am told that half the conveyances in the 
country are drawn by pupils ; there is no more mystery 
about painting than about conveyancing — not half in 
fact, I should think, so much. One may ask. How can the 
beginner paint, or draw conveyances, till he has learnt 
how to do so ? The answer is. How can he learn, without 
at any rate trying to do ? If he likes his subject, he will 
try : if he tries, he will soon succeed in doing something 
which shaU open a door. It does not matter what a man 
does ; so long as he does it with the attention which 
affection engenders, he will come to see his way to some- 
thing else. After long waiting he will certainly find one 
door open, and go through it. He wiU say to himself that 
he can never find another. He has found this, more by 
luck than cunning, but now he is done. Yet by and by he 
will see that there is one more small, unimportant door 
which he had overlooked, and he proceeds through this 
too. If he remains now for a long while and sees no other, 
do not let him " fret ; doors are hke the kingdom of 
heaven, they come not by observation, least of all do they 
come by forcing : let them just go on doing what comes 
nearest, but doing it attentively, and a great wide door 
will one day spring into existence where there had been 

I 5 2 Alps and Sanctuaries 

no sign of one but a little time previously. Only let him 
be always doing something, and let him cross himself 
now and again, for belief in the wondrous efficacy of 
crosses and crossing is the corner-stone of the creed of the 
evolutionist. Then after years — but not probably till 
after a great many — doors will open up all round, so 
many and so wide that the difficulty will not be to 
find a door, but rather to obtain the means of even 
hurriedly surveying a portion of those that stand in- 
vitingly open. 

I know that just as good a case can be made out for the 
other side. It may be said as truly that unless a student 
is incessantly on the watch for doors he will never see 
them, and that unless he is incessantly pressing forward 
to the kingdom of heaven he will never find it — so that 
the kingdom does come by observation. It is with this 
as with everything else — there must be a harmonious 
fusing of two principles which are in flat contradiction to 
one another. 

The question whether it is better to abide quiet and 
take advantage of opportunities that come, or to go 
further afield in search of them, is one of the oldest which 
living beings have had to deal with. It was on this 
that the first great schism or heresy arose in what was 
heretofore the catholic faith of protoplasm. The schism 
still lasts, and has resulted in two great sects — animals 
and plants. The opinion that it is better to go in search 
of prey is formulated in animals ; the other — that it is 
better on the whole to stay at home and profit by what 
comes — in plants. Some intermediate forms still record 
to us the long struggle during which the schism was not 
yet complete. 

If I may be pardoned for pursuing this digression 
further, I would say that it is the plants and not we 

Decline of Italian Art 153 

who are the heretics. There can be no question about 
this ; we are perfectly justified, therefore, in devouring 
them. Ours is the original and orthodox belief, for 
protoplasm is much more animal than vegetable ; it 
is much more true to say that plants have descended 
from animals than animals from plants. Nevertheless, 
like many other heretics, plants have thriven very fairly 
well. There are a great many of them, and as regards 
beauty, if not wit — of a limited kind indeed, but still wit — • 
it is hard to say that the animal kingdom has the advan- 
tage. The views of plants are sadly narrow ; all dissenters 
are narrow-minded ; but within their own bounds they 
know the details of their business sufficiently well — as well 
as though they kept the most nicely-balanced system of 
accounts to show them their position. They are eaten, 
it is true ; to eat them is our bigoted and intolerant 
way of trying to convert them : eating is only a 
violent mode of proselytising or converting ; and we do 
convert them — to good animal substance, of our own way 
of thinking. But then, animals are eaten too. They 
convert one another, almost as much as they convert 
plants. And an animal is no sooner dead than a plant will 
convert it back again. It is obvious, however, that no 
schism could have been so long successful, without having 
a good deal to say for itself. 

Neither party has been quite consistent. Who ever 
is or can be ? Every extreme — every opinion carried 
to its logical end — will prove to be an absurdity. Plants 
throw out roots and boughs and leaves ; this is a kind of 
locomotion ; and as Dr. Erasmus Darwin long since 
pointed out, they do sometimes approach nearly to what 
may be called travelling ; a man of consistent character 
will never look at a bough, a root, or a tendril without 
regarding it as a melancholy and unprincipled com- 

154 Alps and Sanctuaries 

promise. On the other hand, many animals are sessile, 
and some singularly successful genera, as spiders, are in 
the main liers-in-wait. It may appear, however, on the 
whole, like reopening a settled question to uphold the 
principle of being busy and attentive over a srnall area, 
rather than going to and fro over a larger one, for a 
mammal like man, but I think most readers will be with 
me in thinking that, at any rate as regards art and litera- 
ture, it is he who does his small immediate work most 
carefully who will find doors open most certainly to him, 
that will conduct him into the richest chambers. 

Many years ago, in New Zealand, I used sometimes 
to accompany a dray and team of bullocks who would 
have to be turned loose at night that they might feed. 
There were no hedges or fences then, so sometimes I 
could not find my team in the morning, and had no clue 
to the direction in which they had gone. At first I 
used to try and throw my soul into the bullocks' souls, 
so as to divine if possible what they would be likely to 
have done, and would then ride off ten miles in the wrong 
direction. People used in those days to lose their bullocks 
sometimes for a week or fortnight — when they perhaps 
were all the time hiding in a gully hard by the place 
where they were turned out. After some time I changed 
my tactics. On losing my bullocks I would go to the 
nearest accommodation house, and stand occasional 
drinks to travellers. Some one would ere long, as a general 
rule, turn up who had seen the bullocks. This case does 
not go quite on all fours with what I have been saying 
above, inasmuch as I was not very industrious in my 
limited area ; but the standing drinks and inquiring 
was being as industrious as the circumstances would 

To return, universities and academies are an obstacle 

Decline of Italian Art 155 

to the finding of doors in later life ; partly because they 
push their young men too fast through doorways that 
the universities have provided, and so discourage the 
habit of being on the look-out for others ; and partly 
because they do not take pains enough to make sure 
that their doors are bond fide ones. If, to change the 
metaphor, an academy has taken a bad shilling, it is 
seldom very scrupulous about trying to pass it on. It 
will stick to it that the shilling is a good one as long as 
the police will let it. I was very happy at Cambridge ; 
when I left it I thought I never again could be so happy 
anywhere else ; I shall ever retain a most kindly recollec- 
tion both of Cambridge and of the school where I passed 
my boyhood ; but I feel, as I think most others must in 
middle life, that I have spent as much of my maturer 
years in unlearning as in learning. 

The proper course is for a boy to begin the practical 
business of life many years earlier than he now commonly 
does. He should begin at the very bottom of a profession ; 
if possible of one which his family has pursued before him 
— for the professions will assuredly one day become 
hereditary. The ideal railway director will have begun 
at fourteen as a railway porter. He need not be a porter 
for more than a week or ten days, any more than he need 
have been a tadpole more than a short time ; but he 
should take a turn in practice, though briefly, at each of 
the lower branches in the profession. The painter should 
do just the same. He should begin by setting his em- 
ployer's palette and cleaning his brushes. As for the 
good side of universities, the proper preservative of this 
is to be found in the club. 

If, then, we are to have a renaissance of art, there 
must be a complete standing aloof from the academic 
system. That system has had time enough. Where 

156 Alps and Sanctuaries 

and who are its men ? Can it point to one painter who 
can hold his own with the men of, say, from 1450 to 
1550 ? Academies will bring out men who can paint 
hair very like hair, and eyes very like eyes, but this is 
not enough. This is grammar and deportment ; we want 
wit and a kindly nature, and these cannot be got from 
academies. As far as mere technique is concerned, almost 
every one now can paint as well as is in the least desirable. 
The same mutatis mutandis holds good with writing as 
with painting. We want less word-painting and fine 
phrases, and more observation at first-hand. Let us 
have a periodical illustrated by people who cannot draw, 
and written by people who cannot write (perhaps, 
however, after all, we have some), but who look and 
think for themselves, and express themselves just as they 
please, — and this we certainly have not. Every con- 
tributor should be at once turned out if he or she is 
generally believed to have tried to do something which 
he or she did not care about trying to do, and anything 
should be admitted which is the outcome of a genuine 
liking. People are always good company when they are 
doing what they really enjoy. A cat is good company 
when it is purring, or a dog when it is wagging its tail. 

The sketching clubs up and down the country might 
form the nucleus of such a society, provided all pro- 
fessional men were rigorously excluded. As for the old 
masters, the better plan would be never even to look at 
one of them, and to consign Raffaelle, along with Plato, 
Marcus Aurehus Antoninus, Dante, Goethe, and two 
others, neither of them Englishmen, to limbo, as the 
Seven Humbugs of Christendom. 

While we are about it, let us leave off talking about 
" art for art's sake." Who is art, that it should have a 
sake ? A work of art should be produced for the pleasure 

Decline of Italian Art 157 

it gives the producer, and the pleasure he thinks it will 
give to a few of whom he is fond ; but neither money nor 
people whom he does not know personally should be 
thought of. Of course such a society as I have proposed 
would not remain incorrupt long. " Everything that 
grows, holds in perfection but a httle moment." The 
members would try to imitate professional men in spite 
of their rules, or, if they escaped this and after a while 
got to paint well, they would become dogmatic, and a 
rebellion against their authority would be as necessary 
ere long as it was against that of their predecessors : 
but the balance on the whole would be to the good. 

Professional men should be excluded, if for no other 
reason yet for this, that they know too much for the 
beginner to be en rapport with them. It is the beginner 
who can help the beginner, as it is the child who is the 
most instructive companion for another child. The 
beginner can understand the beginner, but the cross 
between him and the proficient performer is too wide 
for fertility. It savours of impatience, and is in fiat 
contradiction to the first principles of biology. It does a 
beginner positive harm to look at the masterpieces of 
the great executionists, such as Rembrandt or Turner. 

If one is climbing a very high mountain which will tax 
all one's strength, nothing fatigues so much as casting 
upward glances to the top ; nothing encourages so much 
as casting downward glances. The top seems never to 
draw nearer ; the parts that we have passed retreat 
rapidly. Let a water-colour student go and see the 
drawing by Turner, in the basement of our National 
Gallery, dated 1787. This is the sort of thing for him, 
not to copy, but to look at for a minute or two now and 
again. It will show him nothing about painting, but it 
may serve to teach him not to overtax his strength, 

158 Alps and Sanctuaries 

and will prove to him that the greatest masters in paint- 
ing, as in everything else, begin by doing work which is 
no way superior to that of their neighbours. A collection 
of the earliest known works of the greatest men would be 
much more useful to the student than any number of 
their maturer works, for it would show him that he need 
not worry himself because his work does not look clever, 
or as silly people say, " show power." 

The secrets of success are affection for the pursuit 
chosen, a flat refusal to be hurried or to pass anything as 
understood which is not understood, and an obstinacy 
of character which shall make the student's friends 
find it less trouble to let him have his own way than to 
bend him into theirs. Our schools and academies or 
universities are covertly, but essentially, radical institu- 
tions and abhorrent to the genius of Conservatism. Their 
sin is the true radical sin of being in too great a hurry, and 
of believing in short cuts too soon. But it must be 
remembered that this proposition, like every other, wants 
tempering with a slight infusion of its direct opposite. 

I said in an early part of this book that the best test to 
know whether or no one likes a picture is to ask one's self 
whether one would like to look at it if one was quite sure 
one was alone. The best test for a painter as to whether 
he likes painting his picture is to ask himself whether he 
should like to paint it if he was quite sure that no one 
except himself, and the few of whom he was very fond, 
would ever see it. If he can answer this question in the 
affirmative, he is all right ; if he cannot, he is all wrong. I 
will close these remarks with an illustration which will 
show how nearly we can approach the early Florentines 
even now — when nobody is looking at us. I do not know 
who Mr. Pollard is. I never heard of him till I came across 
a cheap lithograph of his Funeral of Tom Moody in the 

Decline of Italian Art 


parlour of a village inn. I should not think he ever was 
an R.A., but he has approached as nearly as the difference 
between the geniuses of the two countries will allow, 
to the spirit of the painters who painted in the Campo 
Santo at Pisa. Look, again, at Garrard, at the close of the 



last century. We generally succeed with sporting or 
quasi-sporting subjects, and our cheap coloured coaching 
and hunting subjects are almost always good, and often 
very good indeed. We like these things : therefore we 
observe them ; therefore we soon become able to express 
them. Historical and costume pictures we have no 
genuine love for ; we do not, therefore, go beyond re- 
peating commonplaces concerning them. 

I must reserve other remarks upon this subject for 
another occasion. 

Chapter XI II 
Viii, Fucine, and S. Ignazio 

1MUST now return to my young friend at Groscavallo. 
I have published his drawings without his permission, 
having unfortunately lost his name and address, and 
being unable therefore to apply to him. I hope that, 
should they ever meet his eye, he will accept this apology 
and the assurance of my most profound consideration. 

Delighted as I had been with his proposed illustrations, 
I thought J had better hear some of the letterpress, so I 
begged him to read me his MS. My time was short, and 
he began at once. The few introductory pages were very 
nice, but there was nothing particularly noticeable about 
them ; when, however, he came to his description of the 
place where we now were, he spoke of a beautiful young 
lady as attracting his attention on the evening of his 
arrival. It seemed that she was as much struck with him 
as he with her, and I thought we were going to have a 
romance, when he proceeded as follows : " We perceived 
that we were sympathetic, and in less than a quarter of 
an hour had exchanged the most solemn vows that we 
would never marry one another." " What ? " said I, 
hardly able to believe my ears, " will you kindly read 
those last words over again? " He did so, slowly and 
distinctly ; I caught them beyond all power of mistake, 
and they were as I have given them above : — " We 
perceived that we were sympathetic, and in less than a 


Viii and Neighbourhood i6i 

quarter of an hour had exchanged the most solemn vows 
that we would never marry one another." While I was 
rubbing my eyes and 


making up my mind 
whether I had stumbled 
upon a great satirist or no, 
I heard a voice from 
below — " Signor Butler, 
Signer Butler, la vettura 
e pronta." I had there- 
fore to leave my doubt 
unsolved, but all the time as we drove down the 
valley I had the words above quoted ringing in my head. 
If ever any of my readers come across the book itself — 
for I should hope it will be published — I should be 

very grateful to them if 
they will direct my atten- 
tion to it. 

Another day I went to 
Ceres, and returned .on 
foot via S. Ignazio. S. Ig- 
nazio is a famous sanctuary 
on the very top of a 
mountain, like that of 
Sammichele ; but it is late, 
the St. Ignatius being 
St. Ignatius Loyola, and 
not the apostolic father. I 
got my dinner at a village 
inn at the foot of the mountain, and from the window 
caught sight of a fresco upon the wall of a chapel a few 
yards off. There was a companion to it hardly less 
interesting, but I had not time to sketch it. I do not 
knew what the one I give is intended to represent. 


1 62 Alps and Sanctuaries 

St. Ignatius is upon a rock, and is pleased with something, 
but there is nothing to show what it is, except his attitude, 
which seems to say, " Senza far fatica," — " You see I 
can do it quite easily," or, " There is no deception." 
Nor do we easily gather what it is that the Roman 

i'^'X . , ~ A' r- 


centurion is saying to St. Ignatius. I cannot make 
up my mind whether he is merely warning him to beware 
of the reaction, or whether he is a little scandalised. 

From this village I went up the mountain to the sanctu- 
ary of S. Ignazio itself, which looks well from the distance. 

Viu and Neighbourhood 163 

and commands a striking view, but contains nothing of 
interest, except a few nice votive pictures. 

From Lanzo I went to Viii, a summer resort largely 
frequented by the Turinese, but rarely visited by English 
people. There is a good inn at Viii — the one close to 
where the public conveyance stops — and the neighbour- 
hood is enchanting. The little village on the crest of the 
hill in the distance, to the left of the church, as shown 
on the preceding page, is called the Colma di S. Giovanni, 
and is well worth a visit. In spring, before the grass is cut, 
the pastures must be even better than when I saw them 
in August, and they were then still of almost incredible 

I went to S. Giovanni by the directest way — descending, 
that is, to the level of the Stura, crossing it, and then 
going straight up the mountain. I returned by a slight 
detour so as to take the village of Fucine, a frazione of 
Viu a little higher up the river. I found many picturesque 
bits ; among them the one which I give on the next page. 
It was a grand festa ; first they had had mass, then there 
had been the funzioni, which I never quite understand, and 
thenceforth till sundown there was a public ball on the 
bowling ground of a little inn on the Viii side of the bridge. 
The principal inn is on the other side. It was here I went 
and ordered dinner. The landlady brought me a minestra, 
or hodge-podge soup, full of savoury vegetables, and 
very good ; a nice cutlet fried in bread-crumbs, bread and 
butter ad libitum, and half a bottle of excellent wine. 
She brought all together on a tray, and put them down 
on the table. " It'll come to a franc," said she, " in all, 
but please to pay first." I did so, of course, and she was 
satisfied. A day or two afterwards I went to the same 
inn, hoping to dine as well and cheaply as before ; but 
I think they must have discovered that I was Suforestiere 

164 Alps and Sanctuaries 

inglese in the meantime, for they did not make me pay 
first, and charged me normal prices. 

What pretty words they have ! While eating my dinner 




I wanted a small plate and asked for it. The landlady 
changed the word I had used, and told a girl to bring me a 
tondino. A tondino is an abbreviation of rotondino, a 

Viu and Neighbourhood 165 

" little round thing." A plate is a tondo, a small plate a 
tondino. The delicacy of expression which their diminutives 
and intensitives give is untranslateable. One day I was 
asking after a waiter whom I had known in previous 
years, but who was iU. I said I hoped he was not badly 
off. " Oh dear, no," was the answer ; " he has a discreta 
posizionina " — " a snug little sum put by." " Is the 
road to such and such a place difficult ? " I once inquired. 
" Un tantino," was the answer. " Ever such a very 
little," I suppose, is as near as we can get to this. At 
one inn I asked whether I could have my linen back from 
the wash by a certain time, and was told it was im- 
-possihilissimo. I have an Italian friend long resident 
in England who often introduces English words when 
talking with me in Italian. Thus I have heard him say 
that such and such a thing is tanto cheapissimo. As for 
their gestures, they are inimitable. To say nothing of 
the pretty Uttle way in which they say " no," by moving 
the forefinger backwards and forwards once or twice, 
they have a hundred movements to save themselves the 
trouble of speaking, which say what they have to say 
better than any words can do. It is delightful to see an 
Italian move his hand in such way as to show you 
that you have got to go round a corner. Gesture is easier 
both to make and to understand than speech is. Speech 
is a late acquisition, and in critical moments is commonly 
discarded in favour of gesture, which is older and moie 

I once saw an Italian explaining something to another 
and tapping his nose a great deal. He became more and 
more confidential, and the more confidential he became, 
the more he tapped, till his finger seemed to become 
glued to, and almost grow into his nose. At last the 
supreme moment came. He drew the finger down. 

1 66 Alps and Sanctuaries 

pressing it closely against his lower lip, so as to drag it all 
down and show his gums and the roots of his teeth. 
" There," he seemed to say, " you now know all : con- 
sider me as turned inside out : my mucous membrane 
is before you." 

At Fucine, and indeed in all the valleys hereabout, 
spinning-wheels are not uncommon. I also saw a woman 
sitting in her room with the door opening on to the 
street, weaving linen at a hand-loom. The woman and 
the hand-loom were both very old and rickety. The 
first and the last specimens of anything, whether animal 
or vegetable organism, or machine, or institution, are 
seldom quite satisfactory. Some five or six years ago 
I saw an old gentleman sitting outside the St. Lawrence 
Hall at Montreal, in Canada, and wearing a pigtail, 
but it was not a good pigtail ; and when the Scotch baron 
killed the last wolf in Scotland, it was probably a weak, 
mangy old thing, capable of little further mischief. 

Presently I walked a mile or two up the river, and 
met a godfather coming along with a cradle on his 
shoulder ; he was followed by two women, one carrying 
some long wax candles, and the other something wrapped 
up in a piece of brown paper ; they were going to get the 
child christened at Fucine. Soon after I met a priest, 
and bowed, as a matter of course. In towns or places 
where many foreigners come and go this is unnecessary, 
but in small out-of-the-way places one should take one's 
hat off to the priest. I mention this because many 
Enghshmen do not know that it is expected of them, and 
neglect the accustomed courtesy through ignorance. 
Surely, even here in England, if one is in a small country 
village, off one's beat, and meets the clergyman, it is 
more polite than not to take off one's hat. 

Viii is one of the places from which pilgrims ascend 

Viu and Neighbourhood 167 

the Rocca Melone at the beginning of August. This 
is one of the naost popular and remarkable pilgrimages 
of North Italy ; the Rocca Melone is 11,000 feet high, 
and forms a peak so sharp, that there is room for little 
else than the small wooden chapel which stands at the 
top of it. There is no accommodation whatever, except 
at some rough barracks (so I have been told) some 
thousands of feet below the summit. These, I was in- 
formed, are sometimes so crowded that the people doze 
standing, and the cold at night is intense, unless under 
the shelter just referred to ; yet some five or six thousand 
pilgrims ascend on the day and night of the festa — 
chiefly from Susa, but also from all parts of the valleys 
of the Dora and the Stura. They leave Susa early in the 
morning, camp out or get shelter in the barracks that 
evening, reaching the chapel at the top of the Rocca 
Melone next day. I have not made the ascent myself, 
but it would probably be worth making by one who did not 
mind the fatigue. 

I may mention that thatch is not uncommon in the 
Stura valley. In the Val Mastailone, and more especially 
between Civiasco (above Varallo) and Orta, thatch is 
more common still, and the thatching is often very 
beautifully done. Thatch in a stone country is an indica- 
tion of German, or at any rate Cisalpine descent, and is 
among the many proofs of the extent to which German 
races crossed the Alps and spread far down over Piedmont 
and Lombardy. I was more struck with traces of German 
influence on the path from Pella on the Lago d'Orta, 
to the Colma on the way to Varallo, than perhaps any- 
where else. The churches have a tendency to have pure 
spires — a thing never seen in Italy proper ; chpped yews 
and box-trees are common ; there are lime-trees in the 
churchyards, and thatch is the rule, not the exception. 

1 68 Alps and Sanctuaries ' 

At Rimella in the Val Mastallone, not far off, German is 
still the current language. As I sat sketching, a woman 
came up to me, and said, " Was machen sie ? " as a 
matter of course. Rimella is the highest village in its 
valley, yet if one crosses the saddle at the head of the 
valley, one does not descend upon a German-speaking 
district ; one descends on the Val Anzasca, where Italian 
is universally spoken. Until recently German was the 
language of many other villages at the heads of valleys, 
even though these valleys were themselves entirely sur- 
rounded by Italian-speaking people. At Alagna in the 
Val Sesia, German is still spoken. 

Whatever their origin, however, the people are now 
thoroughly Italianised. Nevertheless, as I have already 
said, it is strange what a number of people one meets 
among them, whom most people would unhesitatingly 
pronounce to be English if asked to name their nation- 

Chapter XIV 
Sanctuary of Oropa 

FROM Lanzo I went back to Turin, where Jones 
again joined me, and we resolved to go and see the 
famous sanctuary of Oropa near Biella. Biella is about 
three hours' railway journey from Turin. It is reached 
by a branch line of some twenty miles, that leaves the 
main line between Turin and Milan at Santhia. Except 
the view of the Alps, which in clear weather cannot be 
surpassed, there is nothing of very particular interest 
between Turin and Santhia, nor need Santhia detain the 
traveller longer than he can help. Biella we found to con- 
sist of an upper and a lower town — the upper, as may be 
supposed, being the older. It is at the very junction of the 
plain and the mountains, and is a thriving place, with 
more of the busy air of an English commercial town than 
perhaps any other of its size in North Italy. Even in 
the old town large rambling old palazzi have been con- 
verted into factories, and the click of the shuttle is heard 
in unexpected places. 

We were unable to find that Biella contains any re- 
markable pictures or other works of art, though they are 
doubtless to be found by those who have the time to look 
for them. There is a very fine campanile near the post- 
office, and an old brick baptistery, also hard by ; but the 
church to which both campanile and baptistery belonged, 


lyo Alps and Sanctuaries 

has, as the author of " Round about London " so well 
says, been " utterly restored ; " it cannot be uglier than 
what we sometimes do, but it is quite as ugly. We found 
an Italian opera company in Biella ; peeping through 
a grating, as many others were doing, we watched the 
company rehearsing " La forza del destino," which was 
to be given later in the week. 

The morning after our arrival, we took ' the daily 
diligence for Oropa, leaving Biella at eight o'clock. 
Before we were clear of the town we could see the long 
line of the hospice, and the chapels dotted about near 
it, high up in a valley at some distance off ; presently we 
were shown another fine building some eight or nine 
miles away, which we were told was the sanctuary of 
Graglia. About this time the pictures and statuettes 
of the Madonna began to change their hue and to become 
black — for the sacred image of Oropa being black, all the 
Madonnas in her immediate neighbourhood are of the 
same complexion. Underneath some of them is written, 
" Nigra sum sed sum formosa," which, as a rule, was more 
true as regards the first epithet than the second. 

It was not market-day, but streams of people were 
coming to the town. Many of them were pilgrims return- 
ing from the sanctuary, but more were bringing the 
produce of their farms, or the work of their hands for sale. 
We had to face a steady stream of chairs, which were 
coming to town in baskets upon women's heads. Each 
basket contained twelve chairs, though whether it is 
correct to say that the basket contained the chairs — 
when the chairs were all, so to say, froth running over 
the top of the basket — is a point I cannot settle. Cer- 
tainly we had never seen anything like so many chairs 
before, and felt almost as though we had surprised nature 
in the laboratory wherefrom she turns out the chair 

Sanctuary of Oropa 171 

supply of the world. The road continued through a suc- 
cession of villages almost running into one another for 
a long way after Biella was passed, but everywhere we 
noticed the same air of busy thriving industry which we 
had seen in Biella itself. We noted also that a pre- 
ponderance of the people had light hair, while that of the 
children was frequently nearly white, as though the in- 
fusion of German blood was here stronger even than 
usual. Though so thickly peopled, the country was of 
great beauty. Near at hand were the most exquisite 
pastures close shaven after their second mowing, gay with 
autumnal crocuses, and shaded with stately chestnuts ; 
beyond were rugged mountains, in a combe on one of 
which we saw Oropa itself now gradually nearing ; 
behind and below, many villages with vineyards and 
terraces cultivated to the highest perfection ; further 
on, Biella already distant, and beyond this a " big stare," 
as an American might say, over the plains of Lombardy 
from Turin to Milan, with the Apennines from Genoa to 
Bologna hemming the horizon. On the road immediately 
before us, we still faced the same steady stream of chairs 
flowing ever Biella-ward. 

After a couple of hours the houses became more rare ; 
we got above the sources of the chair-stream ; bits of 
rough rock began to jut out from the pasture ; here and 
there the rhododendron began to show itself by the 
roadside ; the chestnuts left off along a line as level as 
though cut with a knife ; stone-roofed cascine began to 
abound, with goats and cattle feeding near them ; the 
booths of the religious trinket-mongers increased ; the 
blind, halt, and maimed became more importunate, 
and the foot-passengers were more entirely composed of 
those whose object was, or had been, a visit to the 
sanctuary itself. The numbers of these pilgrims— 

172 Alps and Sanctuaries 

generally in their Sunday's best, and often comprising the 
greater part of a family — were so great, though there was 
no special festa, as to testify to the popularity of the 
institution. They generally walked barefoot, and carried 
their shoes and stockings ; their baggage consisted of a 
few spare clothes, a little food, and a pot or pan or two 
to cook with. Many of them looked very tired, and had 


evidently tramped from long distances — indeed, we saw 
costumes belonging to valleys which could not be less 
than two or three days distant. They were almost in- 
variably quiet, respectable, and decently clad, sometimes 
a little merry, but never noisy, and none of them tipsy. 
As we travelled along the road, we must have fallen in 
with several hundreds of these pilgrims coming and 
going ; nor is this likely to be an extravagant estimate, 
seeing that the hospice can make up more than five 

Sanctuary of Oropa 173 

thousand beds. By eleven we were at the sanctuary 

Fancy a quiet upland valley, the floor of which is 
about the same height as the top of Snowdon, shut in by 
lofty mountains upon three sides, while on the fourth the 
eye wanders at will over the plains below. Fancy finding 
a level space in such a valley watered by a beautiful 
mountain stream, and nearly filled by a pile of collegiate 
buildings, not less important than those, we will say, 
of Trinity College, Cambridge. True, Oropa is not in the 
least like Trinity, except that one of its courts is large, 
grassy, has a chapel and a fountain in it, and rooms all 
round it ; but I do not know how better to give a rough 
description of Oropa than by comparing it with one 
of our largest English colleges. 

The buildings consist of two main courts. The first 
comprises a couple of modern wings, connected by the 
magnificent facade of what is now the second or inner 
court. This fagade dates from about the middle of the 
seventeenth century ; its lowest storey is formed by an 
open colonnade, and the whole stands upon a raised 
terrace from which a noble flight of steps descends into the 
outer coTurt. 

Ascending the steps and passing under the colonnade, 
we found ourselves in the second or inner court, which 
is a complete quadrangle, and is, we were told, of rather 
older date than the facade. This is the quadrangle 
which gives its collegiate character to Oropa. It is 
surrounded by cloisters on three sides, on to which the 
rooms in which the pilgrims are lodged open — those at 
least that are on the ground-floor, for there are three 
storeys. The chapel, which was dedicated in the year 
1600, juts out into the court upon the north-east side. 
On the north-west and south-west sides are entrances 

174 Alps and Sanctuaries 

through which one may pass to the open country. The 
grass, at the time of our visit, was for the most part 
covered with sheets spread out to dry. They looked 
very nice, and, dried on such grass and in such an air, 
they must be delicious to sleep on. There is, indeed, 
rather an appearance as though it were a perpetual 


washing-day at Oropa, but this is not to be wondered at 
considering the numbers of comers and goers ; besides, 
people in Italy do not make so much fuss about trifles 
as we do. If they want to wash their sheets and dry' 
them, they do not send them to Ealing, but lay them out 
in the first place that comes handy, and nobody's bones 
are broken. 

Chapter XV 

Oropa {continued) 

ON the east side of the main block of buildings there 
is a grassy slope adorned with chapels that contain 
figures illustrating scenes in the history of the Virgin. 
These figures are of terra-cottar for the most part life- 
size, and painted up to nature. In some cases, if I 
remember rightly, they have hemp or flax for hair, as at 
Varallo, and throughout realism is aimed at as far as 
possible, not only in the figures, but in the accessories. 
We have very little of the 
same kind in England. In the 
Tower of London there is an 
effigy of Queen Elizabeth 
going to the city to give 
thanks for the defeat of the 
Spanish Armada. This looks 
as if it might have been the 
work of some one of the Valse- 

sian sculptors. There are also the figures that strike the 
quarters of Sir John Bennett's city clock in Cheapside. The 
automatic movements of these last-named figures would 
have struck the originators of the Varallo chapels with 
envy. They aimed at realism so closely that they would as- 
suredly have had recourse to clockwork in some one or two 
of their chapels ; I cannot doubt, for example, that they 
would have eagerly welcomed the idea of making the cock 



176 Alps and Sanctuaries 

crow to Peter by a cuckoo-clock arrangement, if it had 
been presented to them. This opens up the whole question 
of realism versus conventionalism in art — a subject 
much too large to be treated here. 

As I have said, the founders of these Italian chapels 
aimed at realism. Each chapel was intended as an 
illustration, and the desire was to bring the whole scene 
more vividly before the faithful by combining the picture, 
the statue, and the effect of a scene upon the stage in a 
single work of art. The attempt would be an ambitious 
one, though made once only in a neighbourhood, but 
in most of the places in North Italy where anything of 
the kind has been done, the people have not been content 
with a single illustration ; it has been their scheme to 
take a mountain as though it had been a book or wall and 
cover it with illustrations. In some cases- — as at Orta, 
whose Sacro Monte is perhaps the most beautiful of all 
as regards the site itself — the failure is complete, but in 
some of the chapels at Varese and in many of those at 
Varallo, great works have been produced which have 
not yet attracted as much attention as they deserve. 
It may be doubted, indeed, whether there is a more 
remarkable work of art in North Italy than the Crucifixion 
chapel at Varallo, where the twenty-five statues, as well 
as the frescoes behind them, are (with the exception of 
the figure of Christ, which has been removed) by Gau- 
denzio Ferrari. It is to be wished that some one of these 
chapels — both chapel and sculptures — were reproduced 
at South Kensington. 

Varallo, which is undoubtedly the most interesting 
sanctuary in North Italy, has forty-four of these illustra- 
tive chapels ; Varese, fifteen ; Orta, eighteen ; and 
Oropa, seventeen. No one is allowed to enter them, 
except when repairs are needed ; but when these are 

Oropa 1 7 7 

going on, as is constantly the case, it is curious to look 
through the grating into the somewhat darkened interior, 
and to see a Hving figure or two among the statues ; a 
httle motion on the part of a single figure seems to 
communicate itself to the rest and make them all more 
animated. If the living figure does not move much, 
it is easy at first to mistake it for a terra-cotta one. At 
Orta, some years since, looking one evening into a chapel 
when the light was fading, I was surprised to see a saint 
whom I had not seen before ; he had no glory except 
what shone from a very red nose ; he was smoking a 
short pipe, and was painting the Virgin Mary's face. 
The touch was a finishing one, put on with dehberation, 
slowly, so that it was two or three seconds before I 
discovered that the interloper was no saint. 

The figures in the chapels at Oropa are not as good 
as the best -of those at Varallo, but some of them are 
very nice notwithstanding. We liked the seventh 
chapel the best — the one which illustrates the sojourn of 
the Virgin Mary in the temple. It contains forty-four 
figures, and represents the Virgin on the point of com- 
pleting her education as head girl at a high-toned academy 
for young gentlewomen. All the young ladies are at 
work making mitres for the bishop, or working slippers 
in Berlin wool for the new curate, but the Virgin sits on 
a dais above the others on the same platform with the 
venerable lady-principal, who is having passages read 
out to her from some standard Hebrew writer. The 
statues are the work of a local sculptor, named Aureggio, 
who lived at the end of the seventeenth and beginning 
of the eighteenth century. 

The highest chapel must be a couple of hundred feet 
above the main buildings, and from near it there is an 
excellent bird's-eye view of the sanctuary and the small 

178 Alps and Sanctuaries 

plain behind ; descending on to this last, we entered the 
quadrangle from the north-west side and visited the 
chapel in which the sacred image of the Madonna is con- 
tained. We did not see the image itself, which is only 
exposed to public view on great occasions. It is believed 
to have been carved by St. Luke the Evangelist. I 
must ask the reader to content himself with the following 
account of it which I take from Marocco's work upon 
Oropa : — 

" That this statue of the Virgin is indeed by St. Luke 
is attested by St. Eusebius, a man of eminent piety and 
no less enlightened than truthful. St. Eusebius dis- 
covered its origin by revelation ; and the store which he 
set by it is proved by his shrinking from no discomforts 
in his carriage of it from a distant country, and by his 
anxiety to put it in a place of great security. His desire, 
indeed, was to keep it in the spot which was most near 
and dear to him, so that he might extract from it the 
higher incitement to devotion, and more sensible comfort 
in the midst of his austerities and apostolic labours. 

" This truth is further confirmed by the quality of the 
wood from which the statue is carved, which is commonly 
believed to be cedar ; by the Eastern character of the 
work ; by the resemblance both of the lineaments and 
the colour to those of other statues by St. Luke ; by the 
tradition of the neighbourhood, which extends in an un- 
broken and well-assured line to the time of St. Eusebius 
' himself ; by the miracles that have been worked here 
by its presence, and elsewhere by its invocation, or even 
by indirect contact with it ; by the miracles, lastly, 
which are inherent in the image itself,* and which endure 

* " Dalle meraviglie finalmente che sono inerenti al simulacro 
stesso." — Cenni storico-artistici intorno al santuario di Oropa. (Prof. 
Maurizio Marocco. Turin, Milan, 1866, p. 329.) 

Oropa 179 

to this day, such as is its immunity from all worm and 
from the decay which would naturally have occurred in 
it through time and damp — more especially in the feet, 
through the rubbing of religious objects against them. 

" The authenticity of this image is so certainly and 
clearly established, that all supposition to the contrary 
becomes inexplicable and absurd. Such, for example, 
is a hypothesis that it should not be attributed to the 
Evangelist, but to another Luke, also called ' Saint,' 
and a Florentine by birth. This painter lived in the 
eleventh century — that is to say, about seven centuries 
after the image of Oropa had been known and venerated ! 
This is indeed an anachronism. 

" Other difficulties drawn either from the ancient 
discipline of the Church, or from St. Luke the Evangelist's 
profession, which was that of a physician, vanish at once 
when it is borne in mind — firstly, that the cult of holy 
images, and especially of that of the most blessed Virgin, 
is of extreme antiquity in the Church, and of apostolic 
origin as is proved by ecclesiastical writers and monuments 
found in the catacombs which date as far back as the 
first century (see among other authorities, Nicolas, " La 
Vergine vivente nella Chiesa," lib. iii. cap. iii. § 2) ; 
secondly, that as the medical profession does not exclude 
that of artist, St. Luke may have been both artist and 
physician ; that he did actually handle both the brush 
and the scalpel is established by respectable and very 
old traditions, to say nothing of other arguments which 
can be found in impartial and learned writers upon such 

I will only give one more extract. It runs : — 

i8o Alps and Sanctuaries 

" In 1855 a celebrated Roman portrait-painter, after 
having carefully inspected the image of the Virgin Mary 
at Oropa, declared it to be certainly a work of the first 
century of our era."* 

I once saw a common cheap china copy of this Madonna 
announced as to be given away with two pounds of tea, 
in a shop near Hatton Garden. 

The church in which the sacred image is kept is interest- 
ing from the pilgrims who at all times frequent it, and 
from the collection of votive pictures which adorn its 
walls. Except the votive pictures and the pilgrims 
the church contains little of interest, and I will pass 
on to the constitution and objects of the establish- 

The objects are — i. Gratuitous lodging to all comers 
for a space of from three to nine days as the rector 
may think fit. 2. A school. 3. Help to the sick and 
poor. It is governed by a president and six members, 
who form a committee. Four members are chosen by 
the communal council, and two by the cathedral chapter 
of Biella. At the hospice itself there reside a director, 
with his assistant, a surveyor to keep the fabric in repair, 
a rector or dean with six priests, called cappellani, and a 
medical man. " The government of the laundry," so 
runs the statute on this head, " and analogous domestic 
services are entrusted to a competent number of ladies 
of sound constitution and good conduct, who live together 
in the hospice under the direction of an inspectress, and 
are called daughters of Oropa." 

The bye-laws of the establishment are conceived in a 
kindly genial spirit, which in great measure accounts for 
its unmistakeable popularity. We understood that the 
poorer visitors, as a general rule, avail themselves of the 

* Marocco, p. 331. 



gratuitous lodging, without making any present when 
they leave, but in spite of this it is quite clear that they 
are wanted to come, and come they accordingly do. 
It is sometimes difficult to lay one's hands upon the 
exact passages which convey an impression, but as we 
read the bye-laws which are posted up in the cloisters, 
we found ourselves continually smiling at the manner 
in which almost anything that looked like a prohibition 
could be removed with the consent of the director. There 
is no rule whatever about visitors attending the church ; 
all that is required of them is that they do not interfere 
with those who do. They must not play games of chance, 
or noisy games ; they must not make much noise of 
any sort after ten o'clock at night (which corresponds 
about with midnight in England) . They should not draw 
upon the walls of their rooms, nor cut the furniture. 
They should also keep their rooms clean, and not cook in 
those that are more expensively furnished. This is about 
all that they must not do, except fee the servants, which 
is most especially and particularly forbidden. If any one 
infringes these rules, he is to be admonished, and in case 
of grave infraction or continued misdemeanour he may 
be expelled and not readmitted. 

Visitors who are lodged in the better-furnished apart- 
ments can be waited upon if they apply at the office ; 
the charge is twopence for cleaning a room, making the 
bed, bringing water, &c. If there is more than one bed 
in a room, a penny must be paid for every bed over the 
first. Boots can be cleaned for a penny, shoes for a half- 
penny. For carrying wood, &c., either a halfpenny or a 
penny will be exacted according to the time taken. 
Payment for these services must not be made to the 
servant, but at the office. 

The gates close at ten o'clock at night, and open at 

1 82 Alps and Sanctuaries 

sunrise, " but if any visitor wishes to make Alpine 
excursions, or has any other sufficient reason, he should 
let the director know." Families occupying many rooms 
must — when the hospice is very crowded, and when they 
have had due notice — manage to pack themselves into a 
smaller compass. No one can have rooms kept for him. 
It is to be strictly " first come, first served." No one 
must sublet his room. Visitors must not go away without 
giving up the key of their room. Candles and wood may 
be bought at a fixed price. 

Any one wishing to give anything to the support of 
the hospice must do so only to the director, the official 
who appoints the apartments, the dean or the caffellani, 
or to the inspectress of the daughters of Oropa, but they 
must have a receipt for even the smallest sum ; alms- 
boxes, however, are placed here and there, into which the 
smaller offerings may be dropped (we imagine this means 
anything under a franc). 

The poor will be fed as well as housed for three days 
gratuitously — provided their health does not require a 
longer stay ; but they must not beg on the premises of 
the hospice ; professional beggars will be at once handed 
over to the mendicity society in Biella, or even perhaps 
to prison. The poor for whom a hydropathic course is 
recommended, can have it under the regulations made 
by the committee — that is to say, if there is a vacant 

There are trattorie and cafes at the hospice, where 
refreshments may be obtained both good and cheap. 
Meat is to be sold there at the prices current in Biella ; 
bread at two centimes the chilogramma more, to pay 
for the cost of carriage. 

Such are the bye-laws of this remarkable institution. 

Few except the very rich are so under-worked that 

Oropa 183 

two or three days of change and rest are not at times 
a boon to them, while the mere knowledge that there is a 
place where repose can be had cheaply and pleasantly 
is itself a source of strength. Here, so long as the visitor 
wishes to be merely housed, no questions are asked ; 
no one is refused admittance, except for some obviously 
sufficient reason ; it is like getting a reading ticket for the 
British Museum, there is practically but one test — that 
is to say, desire on the part of the visitor — the coming 
proves the desire, and this suffices. A family, we will 
say, has just gathered its first harvest ; the heat on the 
plains is intense, and the malaria from the rice grounds 
little less than pestilential ; what, then, can be nicer 
than to lock up the house and go for three days to the 
bracing mountain air of Oropa ? So. at daybreak off they 
all start, trudging, it may be, their thirty or forty miles, 
and reaching Oropa by nightfall. If there is a weakly one 
among them, some arrangement is sure to be practicable 
whereby he or she can be helped to follow more leisurely, 
and can remain longer at the hospice. Once arrived, they 
generally, it is true, go the round of the chapels, and make 
some slight show of pilgrimage, but the main part of their 
time is spent in doing absolutely nothing. It is sufficient 
amusement to them to sit on the steps, or lie about under 
the shadow of the trees, and neither say anything nor do 
anything, but simply breathe, and look at the sky and at 
each other. We saw scores of such people just resting 
instinctively in a kind of blissful waking dream. Others 
saunter along the walks which have been cut in the woods 
that surround the hospice, or if they have been pent up in 
a town and have a fancy for climbing, there are mountain 
excursions, for the making of which the hospice affords 
excellent headquarters, and which are looked upon with 
every favour by the authorities, 

184 Alps and Sanctuaries 

It must be remembered also that the accommodation 
provided at Oropa is much better than what the people 
are, for the most part, accustomed to in their own homes, 
and the beds are softer, more often beaten up, and 
cleaner than those they have left behind them. Besides, 
they have sheets — -and beautifully clean sheets. Those 
who know the sort of place in which an Italian peasant is 
commonly content to sleep, will understand how much 
he must enjoy a really clean and comfortable bed, 
especially when he has not got to pay for it. Sleep, in 
the circumstances of comfort which most readers will be 
accustomed to, is a more expensive thing than is com- 
monly supposed. If we sleep eight hours in a London 
hotel we shall have to pay from 4d. to 6d. an hour, or 
from id. to i|d. for every fifteen minutes we lie in bed ; 
nor is it reasonable to believe that the charge is excessive, 
when we consider the vast amount of competition which 
exists. There is many a man the expenses of whose 
daily meat, drink, and clothing are less than what an 
accountant would show us we, many of us, lay out nightly 
upon our sleep. The cost of really comfortable sleep- 
necessaries cannot, of course, be nearly so great at 
Oropa as in a London hotel, but they are enough to put 
them beyond the reach of the peasant under ordinary 
circumstances, and he relishes them all the more when 
he can get them. 

But why, it may be asked, should the peasant have 
these things if he cannot afford to pay for them ; and 
why should he not pay for them if he can afford to do so ? 
If such places as Oropa were common, would not lazy 
vagabonds spend their lives in going the rounds of them, 
&c., &c. ? Doubtless if there were many Oropas, they 
would do more harm than good, but there are some things 
which answer perfectly well as rarities or on a small 

Oropa 1 8 5 

scale, out of which all the virtue would depart if they 
were common or on a larger one ; and certainly the im- 
pression left upon our, minds by Oropa was that its effects 
were excellent. 

Granted the sound rule to be that a man should pay 
for what he has, or go without it ; in practice, how- 
ever, it is found impossible to carry this rule out strictly. 
Why does the nation give A. B., for instance, and all 
comers a large, comfortable, well-ventilated, warm room 
to sit in, with chair, table, 'reading-desk, &c., all more 
commodious than what he may have at home, without 
making him pay a sixpence for it directly from year's 
end to year's end ? The three or nine days' visit to 
Oropa is a trifle in comparison with what we can all of us 
obtain in London if we care about it enough to take a very 
small amount of trouble. True, one cannot sleep in the 
reading-room of the British Museum — not all night, at 
least — ^but by day one can make a home of it for years 
together except during cleaning times, and then it is 
hard if one cannot get into the National Gallery or South 
Kensington, and be warm, quiet, and entertained without 
paying for it. 

It wiU be said that it is for the national interest that 
people should have access to treasuries of art or know- 
ledge, and therefore it is worth the nation's while to pay 
for placing the means of doing so at their disposal ; granted, 
but is not a good bed one of the great ends of knowledge, 
whereto it must work, if it is to be accounted knowledge 
at all ? and is it not worth a nation's while that her 
children should now and again have practical experience 
of a higher state of things than the one they are accus- 
tomed to, and a few days' rest and change of scene and 
air, even though she may from time to time have to pay 
something in order to enable them to do so ? There 

1 86 Alps and Sanctuaries 

can be few books which do an averagely-educated Enghsh- 
man so much good, as the ghmpse of comfort which he 
gets by sleeping in a good bed in a well-appointed room 
does to an Italian peasant ; such a glimpse gives him 
an idea of higher potentialities in connection with him- 
self, and nerves him to exertions which he would not 
otherwise make. On the whole, therefore, we con- 
cluded that if the British Museum reading-room was in 
good economy, Oropa was so also ; at any rate, it seemed 
to be making a large number of very nice people quietly 
happy — and it is hard to say more than this iii favour of 
any place or institution. 

The idea of any sudden change is as repulsive to us as 
it will be to the greater number of my readers ; but if 
asked whether we thought our English universities would 
do most good in their present condition as places of so- 
called education, or if they were turned into Oropas, 
and all the educational part of the story totally sup- 
pressed, we inclined to think they would be more popular 
and more useful in this latter capacity. We thought 
also that Oxford and Cambridge were just the places, 
and contained all the appliances and endowments almost 
ready made for constituting two splendid and truly 
imperial cities of recreation — universities in deed as 
well as in name. Nevertheless, we should not venture 
to propose any further actual reform during the present 
generation than to carry the principle which is already 
admitted as regards the M.A. degree a trifle further, and 
to make the B.A. degree a mere matter of lapse of time 
and fees — leaving the Little Go, and whatever corresponds 
to it at Oxford, as the final examination. This would be 
enough for the present. 

There is another sanctuary about three hours' walk 
over the mountain behind Oropa, at Andorno, and 

Oropa 187 

dedicated to St. John. We were prevented by the weather 
from visiting it, but understand that its objects are much 
the same as those of the institution I have just described. 
I will now proceed to the third sanctuary for which the 
neighbourhood of Biella is renowned. 

Chapter XVI 

THE sanctuary of Graglia is reached in about two 
hours from Biella. There are daily diligences. It is 
not so celebrated as that of Oropa, nor does it stand so 
high above the level of the sea, but it is a remarkable 
place and well deserves a visit. The restaurant is perfect 
— the best, indeed, that I ever saw in North Italy, or, I 
think, anywhere else. I had occasion to go into the 
kitchen, and could not see how anything could beat it 
for the most absolute cleanliness and order. Certainly I 
never dined better than at the sanctuary of Graglia ; and 
one dines all the more pleasantly for doing so on a lovely 
terrace shaded by trellised creepers, and overlooking 

I find from a small handbook by Signor Giuseppe 
Muratori, that the present institution, like that of S. 
Michele, and almost all things else that achieve success, 
was founded upon the work of a predecessor, and became 
great not in one, but in several generations. The site 
was already venerated on account of a chapel in honour 
of the Vergine addolorafa which had existed here from 
very early times. A certain Nicolao Velotti, about the 
year 1616, formed the design of reproducing Mount 
Calvary on this spot, and of erecting perhaps a hundred 
chapels with terra-cotta figures in them. The famous 

Graglia i8g 

Valsesian sculptor, Tabachetti, and his pupils, the brothers 
Giovanni and Antonio (commonly called " Tanzio "), 
D' Enrico of Riva in the Val Sesia, all of whom had recently 
been working at the sanctuary of Varallo, were invited 
to Gragha, and later on, another eminent native of 
the Val Sesia, Pietro Giuseppe Martello. These artists 
appear to have done a good deal of work here, of which 
nothing now remains visible to the public, though it 
is possible that in the chapel of S. Carlo and the closed 
chapels on the way to it, there 
may be some statues lying neg- 
lected which I know nothing 
about. I was told of no such 
work, but when I was at 
Graglia I did not know that 
the above-named great men 
had ever worked there, and ^"^'"''^ °^ '■ ''^^^° ^^ °''^''"* 
made no inquiries. It is quite possible that all the work 
they did here has not perished. 

The means at the disposal of the people of Graglia 
were insufficient for the end they had in view, but sub- 
scriptions came in freely from other quarters. Among 
the valuable rights, liberties, privileges, and immunities 
that were conferred upon the institution, was one which 
in itself was a source of unfailing and considerable 
revenue, namely, the right of, setting a robber free once 
in every year ; also, the authorities there were allowed 
to sell all kinds of wine and eatables (robe mangiative) 
without paying duty upon them. As far as I can under- 
stand, the main work of Velotti's is the chapel of S. 
Carlo, on the top of a hill some few hundred feet above 
the present establishment. I give a sketch of this chapel 
here, but was not able to include the smaller chapels 
which lead up to it. 

I go Alps and Sanctuaries 

A few years later, one Nicolao Garono built a small 
oratory at Campra, which is nearer to Biella than Graglia 
is. He dedicated it to S. Maria della Neve— to St. Mary 
of the Snow. This became more frequented than GragHa 
itself, and the feast of the Virgin on the 5th August 
was exceedingly popular. Signer Muratori says of 
it :— 

" This is the popular feast of Graglia, and I can re- 
member how but a few years since it retained on a small 
scale all the features of the sacre campestri of the Middle 
Ages. For some time past, however, the stricter customs 
which have been introduced here no less than in other 
Piedmontese villages have robbed this feast (as how 
many more popular feasts has it not also robbed ?) of 
that original and spontaneous character in which a 
jovial heartiness and a diffusive interchange of the 
affections came welling forth from all abundantly. In 
spite of all, however, and notwithstanding its decline, 
the feast of the Madonna is even now one of those rare 
gatherings — the only one, perhaps, in the neighbourhood 
of Biella — to which the pious Christian and the curious 
idler are alike attracted, and where they will alike find 
appropriate amusement."* 

How Miltonic, not to say Handelian, is this attitude 
towards the Pagan tendencies which, it is clear, pre- 

* " Questa e la festa popolare di Graglia, e pochi anni addietro 
ancora ricordava in miniatura le feste popolari delle sacre campestri del 
medio evo. Da qualche anno in qua, il costume piii severe die s' 
introdusse in questi paesi non meno che in tutti gli altri del Piemonte, 
tolse non poco del carattere originale di questa come di tante altre 
festivita popolesche, nelle quali erompeva spontanea da tutti i cuori la 
diffusiva vicendevolezza degli afietti, e la sincera giovalita dei senti- 
menti. Ci6 non pertanto, malgrado si fatta decadenza la festa della 
Madonna di Campra 6 ancor al presente una di quelle rare adunanze 
sentimentali, unica forse nel Biellese, alle quali accorre volentieri e 
ritrova pascolo appropriate il cristiano divoto non meno che il curioso 
viaggiatore." (Del Santuario di Graglia notizie istoriche di Giuseppe 
Muratori. Torino, Stamperia reale, 1848, p. 18.) 



dominated at the festa of St. Mary of the Snow. In 
old days a feast was meant to be a time of actual merri- 
ment — a praising " with mirth, high cheer, and wine."* 
Milton felt this a little, and Handel much. To them an 
opportunity for a little paganism is like the scratching 
of a mouse to the princess who had been born a cat. 
Off they go after it — more especially Handel — under 
some decent pretext no doubt, but as fast, nevertheless, 
as their art can carry them. As for Handel, he had not 
only a sympathy for paganism, but for the shades and 
gradations of paganism. What, for example, can be a 
completer contrast than between the polished and 
refined Roman paganism in Theodora, f the rustic 
paganism of " Bid the maids the youths provoke " in 
Hercules, the magician's or sorcerer's paganism of the 
blue furnace in " Chemosh no more,":j: or the Dagon 
choruses in Samson — to say nothing of a score of other 
examples that might be easily adduced ? Yet who can 
doubt the sincerity and even fervour of either Milton's 
or Handel's religious convictions ? The attitude assumed 
by these men, and by the better class of Romanists, 
seems to have become impossible to Protestants since 
the time of Dr. Arnold. 

I once saw a church dedicated to St. Francis. Outside 
it, over the main door, there was a fresco of the saint 
receiving the stigmata ; his eyes were upturned in a 
fine ecstasy to the illuminated spot in the heavens whence 
the causes of the stigmata were coming. The church was 
insured, and the man who had affixed the plate of the 
insurance office had put it at the precise spot in the sky 
to which St. Francis's eyes were turned, so that the plate 

* Samson Agonistes. 

t "Venus laughing from the skies.' 

X Jephthcih. 

192 Alps and Sanctuaries 

appeared to be the main cause of his ecstasy. Who 
cared ? No one ; until a carping EngHshman came to 
the place, and thought "it incumbent upon him to be 
scandalised, or to pretend to be so ; oh this the autho- 
rities were made very uncomfortable, and changed the 
position of the plate. Granted that the Englishman 
was right ; granted, in fact, that we are more logical ; 
this amounts to saying that we are more rickety, and 
must walk more supported by cramp-irons. All the 
" earnestness," and " intenseness," and " sestheticism," 
and " culture " (for they are in the end one) of the 
present day, are just so many attempts to conceal 

But to return. The church of St. Mary of the Snow 
at Campra was incorporated into the Graglia institution 
in 1628. There was originally no connection between 
the two, and it was not long before the later church became 
more popular than the earlier, insomuch that the work at 
Graglia was allowed to fall out of repair. On the death of 
Velotti the scheme languished, and by and by, instead of 
building more chapels, it was decided that it would be 
enough to keep in repair those that were already built. 
These, as I have said, are the chapels of S. Carlo, and the 
small ones which are now seen upon the way up to it, 
but they are all in a semi-ruinous state. 

Besides the church of St. Mary of the Snow at Campra, 
there was another which was an exact copy of the Santa 
Casa di Loreto, and where there was a remarkable echo 
which would repeat a word -of ten syllables when the 
wind was quiet. This was exactly on the site of the 
present sanctuary. It seemed a better place for the con- 
tinuation of Velotti's work than the one he had himself 
chosen for it, inasmuch as it was where Signer Muratori 
so well implies a centre of devotion ought to be, namely, 

Graglia 193 

in " a milder climate, and in a spot which offers more 
resistance to the inclemency of the weather, and is better 
adapted to attract and retain the concourse of the 

The design of the present church was made by an 
architect of the name of Arduzzi, in the year 1654, and 
the first stone was laid in 1659. In 1687 the right of 
liberating a bandit every year had been found to be pro- 
ductive of so much mischief that it was discontinued, and 
a yearly contributipn of two hundred lire was substituted. 
The church was not completed until the second half of the 
last century, when the cupola was finished mainly through 
the energy of a priest. Carlo Giuseppe Gastaldi of Netro. 
This poor man came to his end in a rather singular way. 
He was dozing for a few minutes upon a scaffolding, and 
being awakened by a sudden noise, he started up, lost 
his balance, and fell over on to the pavement below. 
He died a few days later, on the 17th of October, either 
1787 or 1778, I cannot determine which, through a 
misprint in Muratori's account. 

The work was now virtually finished, and the buildings 
were much as they are seen now, except that a third 
storey was added to the hospice about the year 1840. 
It is in the hospice that the apartments are in which 
visitors are lodged. I was shown all over them, and found 
them not only comfortable but luxurious — decidedly 
more so than those of Oropa ; there was the same 
cleanliness everywhere which I had noticed in the 
restaurant. As one stands at the windows or on the 
balconies and looks down on to the tops of the chestnuts, 
and over these to the plains, one feels almost as if one 
could fly out of the window like a bird ; for the slope of 
the hills is so rapid that one has a sense of being already 
suspended in mid- air. 

194 Alps and Sanctuaries 

I thought I observed a desire to attract Enghsh 
visitors in the pictures which I saw in the bedrooms. 
Thus there was "A view of the black lead mine in 
Cumberland," a coloured English print of the end of the 
last century or the beginning of this, after, I think, 
Loutherbourg, and in several rooms there were English 
engravings after Martin. The English will not, I think, 


regret if they yield to these attractions. They will find 
the air cool, shady walks, good food, and reasonable 
prices. Their rooms will not be charged for, but 
they will do well to give the same as they would 
have paid at an hotel. I saw in one room one of 
those flippant, frivolous, Lorenzo de' Medici match- 
boxes on which there was a gaudily-coloured nymph 
in high-heeled boots and tights, smoking a cigarette. 
Feeling that I was in a sanctuary, I was a little surprised 

Graglia 195 

that such a matchbox should have been tolerated. I 
suppose it had been left behind by some guest. I should 
myself select a matchbox with the Nativity, or the 
Flight into Egypt upon it, if I were going to stay a week 
or so at Graglia. I do not think I can have looked sur- 
prised or scandahsed, but the worthy official who was 
with me could just see that there was something on my 
mind. " Do you want a match ? " said he, immediately 
reaching me the box. I helped myself, and the matter 

There were many fewer people at Graglia than at 
Oropa, and they were richer. I did not see any poor 
about, but I may have been there during a slack time. 
An impression was left upon me, though I cannot say 
whether it was well or ill founded, as though there were a 
tacit understanding between the establishments at Oropa 
and Graglia that the one was to adapt itself to the poorer, 
and the other to the richer classes of society ; and this 
not from any sordid motive, but from a recognition of the 
fact that any great amount of intermixture between the 
poor and the rich is not found satisfactory to either one 
or the other. Any wide difference in fortune does prac- 
tically amount to a specific difference, which renders the 
members of either species more or less suspicious of those 
of the other, and seldom fertile inter se. The well-to-do 
working-man can help his poorer friends better than we 
can. If an educated man has money to spare, he will 
apply it better in helping poor educated people than those 
who are more strictly called the poor. As long as the 
world is progressing, wide class distinctions are inevitable ; 
their discontinuance will be a sign that equilibrium has 
been reached. Then human civilisation will become as 
stationary as that of ants and bees. Some may say it 
will be very sad when this is so ; others, that it will be 

196 Alps and Sanctuaries 

a good thing ; in truth, it is good either way, for progress 
and equihbrium have each of them advantages and dis- 
advantages which make it impossible to assign superiority 
to either ; but in both cases the good greatly overbalances 
the evil ; for in both the great majority will be fairly 
well contented, and would hate to live under any other 

Equilibrium, if it is ever reached, will be attained very 
slowly, and the importance of any change in a system 
depends entirely upon the rate at which it is made. No 
amount of change shocks — or, in other words, is important 
— if it is made sufficiently slowly, while hardly any change 
is too small to shock if it is made suddenly. We may 
go down a ladder of ten thousand feet in height if 
we do so step by step, while a sudden fall of six or 
seven feet may kill us. The importance, therefore, 
does not lie in the change, but in the abruptness of 
its introduction. Nothing is absolutely important or 
absolutely unimportant, absolutely good or absolutely 

This is not what we like to contemplate. The instinct 
of those whose religion and culture are on the surface 
only is to conceive that they have found, or can find, an 
absolute and eternal standard, about which they can be as 
earnest as they choose. They would have even the pains 
of hell eternal if they could. If there had been any means 
discoverable by which they could torment themselves 
beyond endurance, we may be sure they would long since 
have found it out ; but fortunately there is a stronger 
power which bars them inexorably from their desire, 
and which has ensured that intolerable pain shall last 
only for a very little while. For either the circumstances 
or the sufferer will change after no long time. If the 
circumstances are intolerable, the sufferer dies : if they 

Graglia 197 

are not intolerable, he becomes accustomed to them, 
and will cease to feel them grievously. No matter what 
the burden, there always has been, apd always must be, 
a way for us also to escape. 

Chapter XVII 
Soazza and the Valley of Mesocco 

I REGRET that I have not space for any of the sketches 
I took at BeUinzona, than which few towns are more 
full of admirable subjects. The Hotel de la Ville is an 
excellent house, and the town is well adapted for an 
artist's headquarters. Turner's two water-colour drawings 
of BeUinzona in the National Gallery are doubtless very 
fine as works of art, but they are not like BeUinzona, 
the spirit of which place (though not the letter) is better 
represented by the background to Basaiti's Madonna and 
child, also in our gallery, supposing the castle on the hill 
to have gone to ruin. 

At BeUinzona a man told me that one of the two towers 
was built by the Visconti and the other by Julius Caesar, 
a hundred years earlier. So, poor old Mrs. Barratt at 
Langar could conceive no longer time than a hundred 
years. The Trojan war did not last ten years, but ten 
years was as big a lie as Homer knew. 

Almost all days in the subalpine valleys of North 
Italy have a beauty with them of some kind or another, 
but none are more lovely than a quiet gray day just at 
the beginning of autumn, when the clouds are drawing 
lazily and in the softest fleeces over the pine forests high 
up on the mountain sides. On such days the mountains 
are very dark till close up to the level of the clouds ; here, 


Soazza and Valley of Mesocco 1 99 

if there is dewy or rain-besprinkled pasture, it tells of a 
luminous silvery colour by reason of the light which the 
clouds reflect upon it ; the bottom edges of the clouds 
are also light through the reflection upward from the 
grass, but I do not know which begins this battledore and 
shuttlecock arrangement. These things are like quarrels 
between two old and intimate friends ; one can never 
say who begins them. Sometimes on a dull gray day 
like this, I have seen the shadow parts of clouds take a 
greenish-ashen-coloured tinge from the grass below 

On one of these most enjoyable days we left Bellin- 
zona for Mesocco on the S. Bernardino road. The air 
was warm, there was not so much as a breath of wind, 
but it was not sultry : there had been rain, and the grass, 
though no longer decked with the glory of its spring 
flowers, was of the most brilliant emerald, save where 
flecked with delicate purple by myriads of autumnal 
crocuses. The level ground at the bottom of the valley 
where the Moesa runs is cultivated with great care. Here 
the people have gathered the stones in heaps round any 
great rock which is too difiicult to move, and the whole 
mass has in time taken a mulberry hue, varied with gray 
and russet lichens, or blobs of velvety green moss. These 
heaps of stone crop up from the smooth shaven grass, 
and are overhung with barberries, mountain ash, and 
mountain elder with their brilliant scarlet berries — 
sometimes, again, with dwarf oaks, or alder, or nut, 
whose leaves have just so far begun to be tinged as to 
increase the variety of the colouring. The first sparks 
of autumn's yearly conflagration have been kindled, 
but the fire is not yet raging as in October ; soon after 
which, indeed, it will have burnt itself out, leaving 
the trees as it were charred, with here and there 

200 Alps and Sanctuaries 

a live coal of a red leaf or two still smouldering upon 

As yet lingering mulleins throw up their golden spikes 
amid a profusion of blue chicory, and the gourds run along 
upon the ground like the fire mingled with the hail in 
" Israel in Egypt." Overhead are the umbrageous 
chestnuts loaded with their prickly harvest. Now and 
again there is a manure heap upon the grass itself, and 
lusty wanton gourds grow out from it along the ground 
like vegetable octopi. If there is a stream it will run 
with water limpid as air, and as full of dimples as " While 
Kedron's brook " in " Joshua " : — 





Wliile Kedron's brook to Jor-dan's stream its sil - ver tri - bute 

_ ^ J^ .^ ^^ ^^— ^ - 






'-r*- z: 


^^^ .»-f » ' 

5"fah ^ 


Q m — o- *-p — — m'P — ■' 1 I m — ^^—^ S >-•-> 1 

if' - ■ 

pays ; Or while the glo-riou.s sun shall beam on Canaan golden 



Soazza and Valley of Mesocco 201 

■-•-*—» m 1 — ) 1 1 I ■ I ~ r - i »m -ft&B-T— II 

■ — i-»-*»-m-*m-» ^ —m — ^— '— i m 1 m ' ** j — I— ^H - —< — 1 1 

•- -^-^ 

How quiet and f\ill of rest does everything appear 
to be. There is no dust nor glare, and hardly a sound 
save that of the unfailing waterfalls, or the falhng cry 
with which the peasants call to one another from afar.* 

So much depends upon the aspect in which one sees 
a place for the first time. What scenery can stand, for 
example, a noontide glare ? Take the valley from Lanzo 
to Viii. It is of incredible beauty in the mornings and 
afternoons of brilhant days, and all day long upon a gray 
day ; but in the middle hours of a bright summer's day 
it is hardly beautiful at all, except locally in the shade 
under chestnuts. Buildings and towns are the only things 
that show well in a glare. We perhaps, therefore, thought 
the valley of the Moesa to be of such singular beauty on 
account of the day on which we saw it, but doubt whether 
it must not be absolutely among the most beautiful of 
the subalpine valleys upon the Italian side. 

The least interesting part is that between Bellinzona 
and Roveredo, but soon after leaving Roveredo the 

* 1 cannot give this cry in musical notation more nearly than as 
follows : — 




202 Alps and Sanctuaries 

valley begins to get narrower and to assume a more 
mountain character. Ere long the eye catches sight 
of a white church tower and a massive keep, near to one 
another and some two thousand feet above the road. 
This is Santa Maria in Calanca. One can see at once 
that it must be an important place for such a district, 
but it is strange why it should be placed so high. I will 
say more about it later on. 

Presently we passed Cama, where there is an inn, 
and where the road branches off into the Val Calanca. 
Alighting here for a few minutes we saw a cane lufino — 
that is to say, a dun mouse-coloured dog about as large 
as a mastiff, and with a very large infusion of wolf blood 
in him. It was like finding one's self alone with a wolf — 
but he looked even more uncanny and ferocious than a 
wolf. I once saw a man walking down Fleet Street 
accompanied by one of these cani lupini, and noted the 
general attention and alarm which the dog caused. En- 
couraged by the landlord, we introduced ourselves to the 
dog at Cama, and found him to be a most sweet person, 
with no sense whatever of self-respect, and shrinking from 
no ignominy in his importunity for bits of bread. When 
we put the bread into his mouth and felt his teeth, he 
would not take it till he had looked in our eyes and said 
as plainly as though in words, " Are you quite sure that 
my teeth are not painful to you ? Do you really think 
I may now close my teeth upon the bread without causing 
you any inconvenience ? " We assured him that we 
were quite comfortable, so he swallowed it down, and 
presently began to pat us softly with his foot to remind 
us that it was our turn now. 

Before we left, a wandering organ-grinder began to play 
outside the inn. Our friend the dog lifted up his voice 
and howled, I am sure it was with pleasure. If he had 

Soazza and Valley of Mesocco 203 

disliked the music he would have gone away. He was 
not at all the kind of person who would stay a concert 
out if he did not like it. He howled because he was stirred 
to the innermost depths of his nature. On this he became 
intense, and as a matter of course made a fool of himself ; 
but he was in no way more ridiculous than an Art Professor 
whom I once observed as he was holding forth to a number 
of working men, whilst escorting them round the Italian 
pictures in the National Gallery. When the organ left 
off he cast an appealing look at Jones, and we could 


almost hear the words, " What is it out of ? " coming 
from his eyes. We did not happen to know, so we told 
him that it was " Ah che la morte " from " II Trovatore," 
and he was quite contented. Jones even thought he looked 
as much as to say, " Oh yes, of course, how stupid of me ; 
I thought I knew it." He very well may have done so, 
but I am bound to say that I did not see this. 

Near to Cama is Grono, where Baedeker says there is 
a chapel containing some ancient frescoes. I searched 
Grono in vain for any such chapel. A few miles higher 
up, the church of Soazza makes its appearance perched 
upon the top of its hill, and soon afterwards the splendid 

204 Alps and Sanctuaries 

ruin of Mesocco on another rock or hill which rises in the 
middle of the vaUey. 

The mortuary chapel of Soazza church is the subject 
my friend Mr. Gogin has selected for the etching at the 
beginning of this volume. There was a man mowing 
another part of the churchyard when I was there. He 
was so old and lean that his flesh seemed little more than 
parchment stretched over his bones, and he might have 
been almost taken for Death mowing his own acre. 
When he was gone some children came to play, but he 
had left his scythe behind him. These children were 
beyond my strength to draw, so I turned the subject over 
to Mr. Gogin's stronger hands. Children are dynamical ; 
churches and frescoes are statical. I can get on with 
statical subjects, but can do nothing with dynamical 
ones. Over the door and windows are two frescoes of 
skeletons holding mirrors in their hands, with a death's 
head in the mirror. This reflected head is supposed to 
be that of the spectator to whom death is holding up the 
image of what he will one day become. I do not re- 
member the inscription at Soazza ; the one in the Campo 
Santo at Mesocco is, " Sicut vos estis nos fuimus, et 
sicut nos sumus vos eritis."* 

On my return to England I mentioned this inscrip- 
tion to a friend who, as a young man, had been an ex- 
cellent Latin scholar ; he took a panic into his head that 
" eritis " was not right for the second person plural of 
the future tense of the verb " esse." Whatever it was, 
it was not " eritis." This panic was speedily communi- 
cated to myself, and we both puzzled for some time to 
think what the future of " esse " really was. At last we 
turned to a grammar and found that " eritis " was right 
after all. How skin-deep that classical training penetrates 

* " Such as ye are, we once were, and such as we are, ye shall be." 

Soazza and Valley of Mesocco 205 

on which we waste so many years, and how completely we 
drop it as soon as we are left to ourselves. 

On the right-hand side of the door of the mortuary 
chapel there hangs a wooden tablet inscribed with a 
poem to the memory of Maria Zara. It is a pleasing poem, 
and begins : — 

" Appena al trapassar il terzo lustro 
Maria Zara la sua vita fini. 
Se a Soazza ebbe la sua colma 
A Roveredo la sua tomba . . . 

she found," or words to that effect, but I forget the 
Italian. This poem is the nearest thing to an Italian 
rendering of " Affliction sore long time I bore " that 
I remember to have met with, but it is longer and more 
grandiose generally. 

Soazza is fuU of beautiful subjects, and indeed is the 
first place in the valley of the Moesa which I thought 
good sketching ground, in spite of the general beauty of 
the valley. There is an inn there quite sufficient for a 
bachelor artist. The clergyman of the place is a monk, 
and he will not let one paint on' a feast-day. I was told 
that if I wanted to paint on a certain feast-day I had 
better consult him ; I did so, but was flatly refused per- 
mission, and that too as it appeared to me with more 
peremptoriness than a priest would have shown towards 

It is at Soazza that the ascent of the San Bernardino 
becomes perceptible ; hitherto the road has seemed to 
be level all the way, but henceforth the ascent though 
gradual is steady. Mesocco Castle looks very fine as 
soon as Soazza is passed, and gets finer and finer until 
it is actually reached. Here is the upper Umit of the 
chestnuts, which leave off upon the lower side of Mesocco 
Castle. A few yards off the castle on the upper side is 

2o6 Alps and Sanctuaries 

the ancient church of S. Cristoforo, with its huge St. 
Christopher on the right-hand side of the door. St. 
Christopher is a very favourite saint in these parts ; 
people call him S. Cristofano, and even S. Carpofano. I 
think it must be in the church of S. Cristoforo at Mesocco 
that the frescoes are which Baedeker writes of as being 
near Grono. Of these I will speak at length in the next 
chapter. About half or three-quarters of a mile higher 
up the road than the castle is Mesocco itself. 

Chapter XVIII 

Mesocco, S. Bernardino, and S. Maria 
in Calanca 

A T the time of my first visit there was an inn kept by 
/~V one Desteffanis and his wife, where I stayed nearly 
a month, and was made very comfortable. Last year, 
however, Jones and I found it closed, but did very well 
at the Hotel Toscani. At the Hotel Desteffanis there 
used to be a parrot which lived about loose and had no 
cage, but did exactly what it liked. Its name was Lorrito. 
It was a very human bird ; I saw it eat some bread and 
milk from its tin one day and then sidle along a pole to a 
place where there was a towel hanging. It took a corner 
of the towel in its claw, wiped its beak with it, and then 
sidled back again. It would sometimes come and see me 
at breakfast ; it got from a chair-back on to the table 
by dropping its head and putting its round beak on to 
the table first, making a third leg as it were of its head ; 
it would then waddle to the butter and begin helping 
itself. It was a great respecter of persons and knew the 
landlord and landlady perfectly well. It yawned just 
like a dog or a human being, and this not from love of 
imitation but from being sleepy. I do not remember 
to have seen any other bird yawn. It hated boys because 
the boys plagued it sometimes. The boys generally go 
barefoot in summer, and if ever a boy came near the 


2o8 Alps and Sanctuaries 

door of the hotel this parrot would go straight for his 

The most striking feature of Mesocco is the castle, 
which, as I have said, occupies a rock in the middle of 
the valley, and is one of the finest ruins in Switzerland. 
More interesting than the castle, however, is the church 


of S. Cristoforo. Before I entered it I was struck with 
the fresco on thefacciata of the church, which, though the 
facciata bears the date 1720, was painted in a style so 
much earlier than that of 1720 that I at first imagined 
I had found here another old master born out of due time ; 
for the fresco was in such a good state of preservation that 
it did not look more than 150 years old, and it was hardly 



likely to have been preserved when the facciata was reno- 
vated in 1720. When, however, my friend Jones joined 
me, he blew that little romance away by discovering a 
series of names with dates scrawled upon it from " 1481. 
viii. Febraio " to the present century. The lowest part of 
the fresco must be six feet from the ground, and it must 
rise at least ten or a dozen feet more, so the writings 
upon it are not immediately obvious, but they will be 
found on looking at all closely. 

It is plain,, therefore, that when the facciata was re- 
paired the original fresco was pre- 
served ; it cannot be, as I had sup- 
posed, the work of a local painter 
who had taken his ideas of rocks 
and trees from the frescoes inside 
the church. That I am right in 
supposing the curious blanc-mange- 
mould - looking objects on either 
side St. Christopher's legs to be 
intended for rocks will be clear to 
any one who has seen the frescoes 
inside the church, where mountains 
with trees and towns upon them 
are treated on exactly the same 
principle. I cannot think the artist 
can have been quite easy in his 
mind about them. 

On entering the church the left- 
hand wall is found to be covered 
with the most remarkable series of 
frescoes in the Italian Grisons. 

They are disposed in three rows, one above the other, 
occupying the whole wall of the church as far as the 
chancel. The top row depicts a series of incidents prior 


2IO Alps and Sanctuaries 

to the Crucifixion, and is cut up by the pulpit at the 
chancel end. These events are treated so as to form a 
single picture. 

The second row is in several compartments. There is a 
saint in armour on horseback, life-size, killing a dragon, 
and a queen who seems to have been leading the dragon 
by a piece of red tape buckled round its neck — unless, 
indeed, the dragon is supposed to have been leading the 
queen. The queen still holds the tape and points heaven- 
ward. l^Iext to this there is a very nice saint on horse- 
back, who is giving a cloak to a man who is nearly naked. 
Then comes St. Michael trampling on the dragon, and 
holding a pair of scales in his hand, in which are two little 
souls of a man and of a woman. The dragon has a hook 
in his hand, and thrusting this up from under St. Michael, 
he hooks it on to the edge of the scale with the woman in 
it, and drags her down. The man, it seems, will escape. 
Next to this there is a compartment in which a monk is 
offering a round thing to St. Michael, who does not seem 
to care much about it ; there are other saints and martyrs 
in this compartment, and St. Anthony with his pig, and 
Sta. Lucia holding a box with two eyes in it, she being 
patroness of the eyesight as well as of mariners. Lastly, 
there is the Adoration, ruined by the pulpit. 

Below this second compartment are twelve frescoes, 
each about three and a half feet square, representing 
the twelve months — from a purely secular point of view. 
January is a man making and hanging up sausages ; 
February, a man chopping wood ; March, a youth pro- 
claiming spring with two horns to his mouth, and his hair 
flying all abroad ; April is a young man on horseback 
carrying a flower in his hand ; May, a knight, not in 
armour, going out hawking with his hawk on one finger, 
his bride on a pillion behind him, and a dog beside the 

Mesocco 2 11 

horse ; June is a mower ; July, another man reaping 


twenty-seven ears of corn ; August, an invahd going to 


212 Alps ana oanctuanes 

see his doctor ; October, a man knocking down chestnuts 


from a tree and a woman catching them ; November is 


Mesocco 213 

hidden and destroyed by the pi^lpit ; December is a 
butcher feUing an ox with a hatchet. 

We could find no signature of the artist, nor any 
date on the frescoes to show when they were painted ; 
but while looking for a signature we found a name 
scratched with a knife or stone, and rubbed the tracing 
which I reproduce, greatly reduced, here ; Jones thinks 
the last line was not written by Lazarus BovoUinus, but 
by another who signs A. T. 

i^i^r j I%.ii/ph4==' -^M^ 

The Boelini were one of the principal families in 
Mesocco. Gaspare Boelini, the head of the house, had 
been treacherously thrown over the castle walls and 
killed by order of Giovanni Giacomo Triulci in the year 
1525, because as chancellor of the valley he declined to 
annul the purchase of the castle of Mesocco, which Triulci 
had already sold to the people of Mesocco, and for which 
he had been in great part paid. His death is recorded on 
a stone placed by the roadside under the castle. 

Examining the wall further, we found a little to the 
right that the same Lazzaro BovoUino (I need hardly 
say that " Bovollino " is another way of spelling " Boe- 

214 Alps and Sanctuaries 

lini ") scratched his name again some sixteen years later, 

as follows : — ,. ,,, 

1550 ad] (?) 

26 Decemb. morijm(?) 

Lazzaro Bovollino 


15 L ■■ B 50 

The handwriting is not so good as it was when he 
wrote his name before ; but we observed, with sym- 
pathy, that the writer had dropped his Latin. Close by is 
scratched " GuUielmo B°." 

The mark between the two letters L and B was the 
family mark of the Boelini, each family having its mark, 
a practice of which further examples will be given 

We looked still more, and on the border of one of the 
frescoes we discovered — 

" 1481 die Jcvis vii j Februarij hoines di Misochi et Soazza fecerunt 
fidelitatem in manibus di Johani Jacobi Triulzio," 

— " The men of Mesocco and Soazza did fealty to John 
Jacob Triulci on Friday the 8th of February 1481." 
The day originally written was Thursday the 7th of 
February, but " Jovis " was scratched out and " Veneris " 
written above, while another " i " was intercalated among 
the i's of the viij of February. We could not determine 
whether some hitch arose so as to cause a change of day, 
or whether " Thursday " and " viij " were written by a 
mistake for " Friday " and " viiij," but we imagined both 
inscription and correction to have been contemporaneous 
with the event itself. It will be remembered that on the 
St. Christopher outside the church there is scratched 
" 148 1. 8 Febraio " and nothing more. The mistake of 

Mesocco 215 

the day, therefore, if it was a mistake, was made twice, 
and was corrected inside the church but not upon the 
fresco outside — perhaps because a ladder would have 
had to be fetched to reach it. Possibly the day had been 
originally fixed for Thursday the 8th, and a heavy snow- 
storm prevented people from coming till next day. 

I could not find that any one in Mesocco, not even 
my excellent friend Signer a Marca, the curalo himself, 
knew anything about either the inscriptions or the cause 
of their being written. No one was aware even of their 
existence ; on borrowing, however, the history of the 
Valle Mesolcina by Signor Giovanni Antonio k Marca,* 
I found what I think will throw light upon the matter. 
The family of De Sax had held the valley of Mesocco for 
over four hundred years, and sold it in 1480 to John 
Jacob Triulci, who it seems tried to cheat him out of a 
large part of the purchase money later on ; probably 
this John Jacob Triulci had the frescoes painted to con- 
ciliate the clergy and inaugurate his entry into possession. 
Early in 1481 he made the inhabitants of the valley do 
fealty to him. I may say that as soon as he had entered 
upon possession, he began to oppress the people by de- 
manding tolls on all produce that passed the castle. This 
the people resisted. They were also harassed by Peter 
De Sax, who made incursions into the valley and seized 
property, being unable to get his money out of John 
Jacob Triulci. 

Other reasons that make me think the frescoes were 
painted in 1480 are as follows. The spurs worn by the 
young men in the April and May frescoes (pp. 211, 212) 
are about the date 1460. Their facsimiles can be seen 
in the Tower of London with this date assigned to them. 
The frescoes, therefore, can hardly have been painted 

* Lugano, 1838. 

2i6 Alps and Sanctuaries 

before this time ; but they were probably painted later, 
for in the St. Christopher there is a distinct hint at 
anatomy ; enough to show that the study of anatomy 
introduced by Leonardo da Vinci was beginning to be 
talked about as more or less the correct thing. This 
would hardly be the case before 1480, as Leonardo was 
not born till 1452. By February 1481 the frescoes were 
already painted ; this is plain because the inscription — 
which, I think, may be taken as a record made at the time 
that fealty was done— is scratched over them. Peter 
De Sax, if he was selling his property, is not likely to 
have had the frescoes painted just before he was going 
away ; I think it most likely, therefore, that they were 
painted in 1480, when the valley of Mesocco passed from 
the hands of the De Sax family to those of the Triulci. 

Underneath the inscription about the doing fealty 
there is scratched in another hand, and very likely 
years after the event it commemorates — " 1548 fu 
liberata la Vallata." This date is contradicted (and, 
I believe, corrected) by another inscription hard by, 
also in another hand, which says — 

" 1549. La valle di Misocho compro la libertk da casa Triulcia 
per 2400 scuti." 

This inscription is signed thus : — 
Carlo a Marca had written his name 
along with three others in 1606 on another 
part of the frescoes. Here are the signa- 
tures : — 



Mesocco 217 

Two of these signatures belong to members of the 
Triulci family, as appears by the trident, which translates 
the name. The T in each case is doubtless for " Triulci." 
Four years earlier still. Carlo a Marca had written his 
name, with that of his wife or fiancee, on the fresco of St. 
Christopher on the facciata of the church, for we found 
there — 

, I Carlo a Marca. 

( Margherita dei Paglioni. 

There is one other place where his name appears, or 
rather a part of it, for the inscription is half hidden by 
a gallery, erected probably in the last century. 

The a Marca family still flourish in Mesocco. The 
curato is an a Marca, so is the postmaster. On the walls 
of a house near the convent there is an inscription to 
the effect that it was given by his fellow-townsmen to a 
member of the a Marca family, and the best work on the 
history of the valley is the work of Giovanni Antonio 
a Marca from which I have already quoted. 

Returning to the frescoes, we found that the men 
of Soazza and Mesocco did fealty again to John Jacob 
Triulci on the feast of St. Bartholomew, the 24th day of 
August 1503 ; this I believe to have been the son of the 
original purchaser, but am not certain ; if so, he is the 
Triulci who had Gaspare Boelini thrown down from the 
castle walls. The people seem by another inscription to 
have done fealty again upon the same day of the following 

On the St. Christopher we found one date, 1530, 
scratched on the right ankle, and several of 1607, 
apparently done at one time. One date was scratched 
in the left-hand corner — 


il Conte di (Misocho ?) 

2i8 Alps and Sanctuaries 

There are also other dates — 1627, 1633, 1635, 1626; 
and right across the fresco there is written in red chalk, 
in a bold sixteenth or seventeenth century handwriting— 

" II parlar di li homini da bene deve valer piu che quello degli altri." 

— " The word of a man of substance ought to carry 
more weight than that of other people ; " and again — 

" Non ha la fede ognun come tu chredi ; 
Non chreder almen [quello ?] che non vedi " 

— " People are not so worthy of being believed as you 
think they are ; do not believe anything that you do not 
see yourself." 

Big with our discoveries, we returned towards our inn, 
Jones leaving me sketching by the roadside. Presently 
an elderly English gentleman of some importance, 
judging from his manner, came up to me and entered 
into conversation. Englishmen do not often visit Mesocco, 
and I was rather surprised. " Have you seen that horrid 
fresco of St. Christopher down at that church there ? " 
said he, pointing towards it. I said I had. " It's very 
bad," said he decidedly ; "it was painted in the year 
1725." I had been through all that myself, and I was 
a little cross into the bargain, so I said, " No ; the fresco 
is very good. It is of the fifteenth century, and the 
faccidia was restored in 1720, not in 1725. The old fresco 
was preserved." The old gentleman looked a little scared. 
" Oh," said he, " I know nothing about art — but I will 
see you again at the hotel ; " and left me at once. I never 
saw him again. Who he was, where he came from, how 
he departed, I do not know. He was the only English- 
man I saw during my stay of some four weeks at Mesocco. 

On the first day of my first visit to Mesocco in 1879, 
I had gone on to S. Bernardino, and just before getting 
there, looking down over the great stretches of pasture 

Mesocco 219 

land above S. Giacomo, could see that there was a storm 
raging lower down in the valley about where Mesocco 
should be ; I never saw such inky blackness in clouds 
before, and the conductor of the diligence said that he 
had seen nothing like it. Next morning we learnt that 
a water-spout had burst on the mountain above Anzone, 
a hamlet of Mesocco, and that the water had done a great 
deal of damage to the convent at Mesocco. Returning a 
few days later, I saw where the torrent had flowed by 
the mud upon the grass, but could not have believed such 
a stream of water (running with the velocity with which it 
must have run) to have been possible under any circum- 
stances in that place unless I had actually seen its traces. 
It carried great rocks of several cubic yards as though 
they had been small stones, and among other mischief it 
had knocked down the garden wall of the convent of S. 
Rocco and covered the garden with debris. As I looked at 
it I remembered what Signer BuUo had told me at Faido 
about the inundations of 1868, " It was not the great 
rivers," he said, " which did the damage : it was the 
ruscelli " or small streams. So in revolutions it is not 
the heretofore great people, but small ones swollen under 
unusual circumstances who are most conspicuous and 
do most damage. Padre Bernardino, of the convent of S. 
Rocco, asked me to make him a sketch of the effect of the 
inundation, which I was delighted to do. It was not, 
however, exactly what he wanted, and, moreover, it got 
spoiled in the mounting, so I did another and he returned 
me the first with an inscription upon it which I reproduce 

First came the words — 

Wl^GO l cL a I 


2 20 Alps and Sanctuaries 

Then came my sketch ; and then — 

The English of which is as follows : — " View of the 
church, garden, and hospice of S. Rocco, after the visita- 
tion inflicted upon them by the sad torrent of Anzone, 
on the unhallowed evening of the 4th of August 1879." 
I regret that the " no " of Padre Bernardino's name, 
through being written in faint ink, was not reproduced 
in my facsimile. I doubt whether Padre Bernardino 
would have got the second sketch out of me, if I had not 
liked the inscription he had written on the first so much 
that I wanted to be possessed of it. Besides, he wrote 
me a note addressed " all' egregio pittore S. Butler." - 
To be called an egregious painter was too much for me, 
so I did the sketch. I was once addressed as " L'esimio 
pittore." I think this is one degree better even than 
" egregio." 

The damage which torrents can do must be seen to 
be believed. There is not a streamlet, however innocent 
looking, which is not liable occasionally to be turned into 
a furious destructive agent, carrying ruin over the pastures 
which at ordinary times it irrigates. Perhaps in old 
times people deified and worshipped streams because 
they were afraid of them. Every year each one of the great 
Alpine roads will be interrupted at some point or another 
by the tons of stones and gravel that are swept over it 
perhaps for a hundred yards together. I have seen the 
St. Gothard road more than once soon after these inter- 
ruptions and could not have believed such damage possible; 

Mesocco 2 2 1 

in 1869 people would still shudder when they spoke of the 
inundations of 1868. It is curious to note how they will 
now say that rocks which have evidently been in their 
present place for hundreds of years, were brought there 
in 1868 ; as for the torrent that damaged S. Rocco when 
I was in the valley of Mesocco, it shaved off the strong 
parapet of the bridge on either side clean and sharp, 
but the arch was left standing, the flood going right 
over the top. Many scars are visible on the mountain 
tops which are clearly the work, of similar water-spouts, 
and altogether the amount of solid matter which gets 
taken down each year into the valleys is much greater 
than we generally think. Let any one watch the Ticino 
flowing into the Lago Maggiore after a few days' heavy 
rain, and consider how many tons of mud per day it 
must carry into and leave in the lake, and he will wonder 
that the gradual filhng-up process is not more noticeable 
from age to age than it is. 

Anzone, whence the sad torrent derives its name, is 
an exquisitely lovely little hamlet close to Mesocco. 
Another no less beautiful village is Doera, on the other 
side of the Moesa, and half a mile lower down than 
Mesocco. Doera overlooks the castle, the original hexa- 
gonal form of which can be made out from this point. 
It must have been much of the same plan as the castle 
at Eynsf ord in Kent — of which, by the way, I was once 
assured that the oldest inhabitant could not say " what 
it come from." While I was copying the fresco outside 
the chapel at Doera, some charming people came round 
me. I said the fresco was very beautiful. " Sonpersuaso," 
said the spokesman solemnly. Then he said there were 
some more pictures inside and we had better see them ; 
so the keys were brought. We said that they too were 
very beautiful . ' ' Siam persuasi, ' ' was the reply in chorus . 

22 2 Alps and Sanctuaries 

Then they said that perhaps we should hke to buy them 
and take them away with us. This was a more serious 
matter, so we explained that they were very beautiful, 
but that these things had a charm upon the spot which 
they would lose if removed elsewhere. The nice people 
at once replied, " Siam persuasi," and so they left us. 
It was like a fragment from one of Messrs. Gilbert and 
Sullivan's comic operas. 

For the rest, Mesocco is beautifully situated and sur- 
rounded by waterfalls. There is a man there who takes 
the cows and goats out in the morning for their several 
owners in the village, and brings them home in the evening. 
He announces his departure and his return by blowing 
a twisted shell, like those that Tritons blow on fountains 
or in pictures ; it yields a softer sound than a horn ; 
when his shell is heard people go to the cow-house and 
let the cows out ; they need not drive them to join the 
others, they need only open the door ; and so in the 
evening, they only want the sound of the shell to tell 
them that they must open the stable-door, for the cows 
or goats when turned from the rest of the mob make 
straight to their own abode. 

There are two great avalanches which descend every 
spring ; one of them when I was there last was not quite 
gone until September ; these avalanches push the air 
before them and compress it, so that a terrific wind 
descends to the bottom of the valley and mounts up on to 
the village of Mesocco. One year this wind snapped a 
whole grove of full-grown walnuts across the middle of 
their trunks, and carried stones and bits of wood up 
against the houses at some distance off ; it tore off part 
of the covering from the cupola of the church, and twisted 
the weathercock awry in the fashion in which it may still 
be seen, unless it has been mended since I left. 

S. Bernardino 223 

The judges at Mesocco get four francs a day when 
they are wanted, but unless actually sitting they get 
nothing. No wonder the people are so nice to one another 
and quarrel so seldom. 

The walk from Mesocco to S. Bernardino is delightful ; 
it should take about three hours. For grassy slopes and 
flowers I do not know a better, more especially from S. 
Giacomo onward. In the woods above S. Giacomo there 
are some bears, or were last year. Five were known — 
a father, mother, and three young ones — but two were 
killed. They do a good deal of damage, and the Canton 
offers a reward for their destruction. The Grisons is the 
only Swiss Canton in which there are bears still re- 

San Bernardino, 5500 feet above the sea, pleased me 
less than Mesocco, but there are some nice bits in it. 
The Hotel Brocco is the best to go to. The village is 
about two hours below the top of the pass ; the walk 
to this is a pleasant one. The old Roman road can still 
be seen in many places, and is in parts in an excellent 
state even now. San Bernardino is a fashionable watering- 
place and has a chalybeate spring. In the summer it 
often has as many as two or three thousand visitors, 
chiefly from the neighbourhood of the Lago Maggiore 
and even from Milan. It is not so good a sketching ground 
— at least so I thought — as some others of a similar 
character that I have seen. It is not comparable, for 
example, to Fusio. It is little visited by the English. 

On our way down to Bellinzona again we determined 
to take S. Maria in Calanca, and accordingly were dropped 
by the diligence near Gabbiolo, whence there is a path 
across the meadows and under the chestnuts which leads 
to Verdabbio. There are some good bits near the church 
of this village, and some quaint modern frescoes on a 

2 24 Alps and Sanctuaries 

public-house a little off the main footpath, but there is 
no accommodation. From tliis village the path ascends 
rapidly for an hour or more, till just as one has made 
almost sure that one must have gone wrong and have got 
too high, or be on the track to an alpe only, one finds 
one's self on a wide beaten path with walls on either side. 
We are now on a level with S. Maria itself, and turning 
sharply to the left come in a few minutes right upon the 
massive keep and the campanile, which are so striking 
when seen from down below. They are much more striking 


when seen from close at hand. The sketch I give does 
not convey the notion — as what sketch can convey it ? 
— that one is at a great elevation, and it is this which 
gives its especial charm to S. Maria in Calanca. 

The approach to the church is beautiful, and the 
church itself full of interest. The village was evidently 
at one time a place of some importance, though it is not 
easy to understand how it came to be built in such a 
situation. Even now it is unaccountably large. There 
is no accommodation for sleeping, but an artist who could 
rough it would, I think, find a good deal that he would 
like. On p. 226 is a sketch of the church and tower as seen 

Sta. Maria 


from the opposite side to that from which the sketch on 
p. 224 was taken. 

The church seems to have been very much altered, 
if indeed the body of it was not entirely rebuilt, in 1618 
— a date which is found on a pillar inside the church. 
On going up into the gallery at the west end of the 
church, there is found a Nativity painted in fresco by 
a local artist, one Agostino Duso of Roveredo, in the 


year 1727, and better by a good deal than one would 
anticipate from the epoch and habitat of the painter. 
On the other side of the same gallery there is a Death 
of the Virgin, also by the same painter, but not so good. 
On the left-hand side of the nave going towards the altar 
there is a remarkable picture of the battle of Lepanto, 
signed " Georgius Wilhelmus Groesner Constantiensis 
fecit A.D. 1649," ^^^ with an inscription to the effect 
that it was painted for the confraternity of the most holy 

2 26 Alps and Sanctuaries 

Rosary, and by them set up "in this church of St. Mary 
commonly called of Calancha." The picture displays 
very little respect for academic principles, but is full of 
spirit and sensible painting. 

Above this picture there hang two others — also very 
interesting, from being examples of, as it were, the last 
groans of true art while being stifled by academicism 


— or it may be the attempt at a new birth, which was 
nevertheless doomed to extinction by academicians while 
yet in its infancy. Such pictures are to be found all over 
Italy. Sometimes, as in the case of the work of Dedo- 
menici, they have absolute merit — more commonly they 
have the relative merit of showing that the painter was 
trying to look and feel for himself, and a picture does 
much when it conveys this impression. It is a small 
still voice, which, however small, can be heard through 

Sta. Maria 227 

and above the roar of cant which tries to drown it. We 
want a book about the unknown Itahan painters in out- 
of-the-way ItaHan valleys during the times of the deca- 
dence of art. There is ample material for one who has the 
time at his command. 

We lunched at the house of the incumbent, a monk, 
who was very kind to us. We found him drying French 
marigold blossoms to colour his risotto with during the 
winter. He gave us some excellent wine, and took us 
over the tower near the church. Nothing can be more 
lovely than the monk's garden. If aesthetic people are 
ever going to get tired of sun-flowers and lilies, let me 
suggest to them that they will find a weary utterness in 
chicory and seed onions which they should not overlook ; 
I never felt chicory and seed onions till I was in the monk's 
garden at S. Maria in Calanca. All about the terrace or 
artificial level ground on which the church is placed, 
there are admirable bits for painting, and if there was 
only accommodation so that one could get up as high as the 
alpi, I can fancy few better places to stay at than S. Maria 
in Calanca. 

Chapter XIX 
The Mendrisiotto 

WE stayed a day or two at Bellinzona, and then went 
on over the Monte Cenere to Lugano. My first 
acquaintance with the Monte Cenere was made some 
seven-and-thirty years ago when I was a small boy. 
I remember with what delight I found wild narcissuses 
growing in a meadow upon the top of it, and was allowed 
to gather as many as I liked. It was not till some thirty 
years afterwards that I again passed over the Monte 
Cenere in summer time, but I well remembered the nar- 
cissus place, and wondered whether there would still 
be any of them growing there. Sure enough when we got 
to the top, there they were as thick as cowslips in an 
English meadow. At Lugano, having half-an-hour to 
spare, we paid our respects to the glorious frescoes by 
Bernardino Luini, and to the fa9ade of the duomo, and 
then went on to Mendrisio. 

The neighbourhood of Mendrisio, or, as it is called, 
the " Mendrisiotto," is a rich one. Mendrisio itself 
should be the headquarters ; there is an excellent hotel 
there, the Hotel Mendrisio, kept by Signora Pasta, 
which cannot be surpassed for comfort and all that 
makes a hotel pleasant to stay at. I never saw a house 
where the arrangements were more perfect ; even in the 
hottest weather I found the rooms always cool and airy, 
and the nights never oppressive. Part of the secret of this 


The Mendrisiotto 229 

may be that Mendrisio lies higher than it appears to do, 
and the hotel, which is situated on the slope of the hill, 
takes all the breeze there is. The lake of Lugano is about 
950 feet above the sea. The river falls rapidly between 
Mendrisio and the lake, while the hotel is high above the 
river. I do not see, therefore, how the hotel can be 
less than 1200 feet above the sea-line ; but whatever 
height it is, I never felt the heat oppressive, though on 
more than one occasion I have stayed there for weeks 
together in July and August. 

Mendrisio being situated on the railway between 
Lugano and Como, both these places are within easy 
reach. Milan is only a couple of hours off, and Varese 
a three or four hours' carriage drive. It lies on the very 
last slopes of the Alps, so that whether the visitor has a 
fancy for mountains or for the smiling beauty of the colUne, 
he may be equally gratified. There are excellent roads in 
every direction, and none of them can be taken without 
its leading to some new feature of interest ; I do not 
think any English family will regret spending a fortnight 
at this charming place. 

Most visitors to Mendrisio, however, make it a place 
of passage only, en route for the celebrated hotel on the 
Monte Generoso, kept by Dr. Pasta, Signora Pasta's 
brother-in-law. The Monte Generoso is very fine ; I 
know few places of which I am fonder ; whether one 
looks down at evening upon the lake of Lugano thousands 
of feet below, and then lets the eye wander upward again 
and rest upon the ghastly pallor of Monte Rosa, or whether 
one takes the path to the Colma and saunters over green 
slopes carpeted with wild-flowers, and studded with 
the gentlest cattle, all is equally delightful. What a 
sense of vastness and freedom is there on the broad 
heaving slopes of these subalpine spurs. They are just 

230 Alps and Sanctuaries 

high enough without being too high. The South Downs 
are very good, and by making believe very much I have 
sornetimes been half able to fancy when upon them that 
I might be on the Monte Generoso, but they are 
only good as a quartet is good if one cannot get a 

I think there are more wild-flowers upon the Monte 
Generoso than upon any other that I know, and among 
them numbers of beautiful wild narcissuses, as on the 
Monte Cenere. At the top of the Monte Generoso, among 
the rocks that jut out from the herbage, there grows — 
unless it has been all uprooted — the large yellow auricula, 
and this I own to being my favourite mountain wild- 
flower. It is the only flower which, I think, fairly beats 
cowslips. Here too I heard, or thought I heard, the song 
of that most beautiful of all bird songsters, the passero 
solitario, or solitary sparrow — if it is a sparrow, which I 
should doubt. 

Nobody knows what a bird can do in the way of 
song until he has heard a passero solitario. I think 
they still have one at the Hotel Mendrisio, but am not 
sure. I heard one there once, and can only say that I 
shall ever remember it as the most beautiful warbling 
that I ever heard come out of the throat of bird. AU 
other bird singing is loud, vulgar, and unsympathetic 
in comparison. The bird itself is about as big as a starling, 
and is of a dull blue colour. It is easily tamed, and becomes 
very much attached to its master and mistress, but it is 
apt to die in confinement before very long. It fights all 
others of its own species ; it is now a rare bird, and is 
doomed, I fear, ere long to extinction, to the regret of all 
who have had the pleasure of its acquaintance. The 
ItaHans are very fond of them, and Professor Vela told me 
they will even act like a house dog and set up a cry if any 

The Mendrisiotto 231 

strangers come. The one I saw flew instantly at my 
finger when I put it near its cage, but I was not sure 
whether it did so in anger or play. I thought it liked 
being listened to, and as long as it chose to sing I was 
dehghted to stay, whereas as a general rule I want singing 
birds to leave off.* 

People say the nightingale's song is so beautiful ; I 
am ashamed to own it, but I do not hke it. It does 
not use the diatonic scale. A bird should either make 
no attempt to sing in tune, or it should succeed in doing 
so. Larks are Wordsworth, and as for canaries, I would 
almost sooner hear a pig having its nose ringed, or the 
grinding of an axe. Cuckoos are all right ; they sing in 
tune. Rooks are lovely ; they do not pretend to tune. 
Seagulls again, and the plaintive creatures that pity them- 
selves on moorlands, as the plover and the curlew, or 
the birds that lift up their voices and cry at eventide 
when there is an eager air blowing upon the mountains 
and the last yellow in the sky is fading — I have no words 
with which to praise the music of these people. Or listen 
to the chuckling of a string of soft young ducks, as they 
glide single-file beside a ditch under a hedgerow, so close 
together that they look like some long brown serpent, and 
say what sound can be more seductive. 

* Butler always regretted that he did not find out about Medea 
CoUeone's passero solitario in time to introduce it into A Ips and Sanctu- 
aries. Medea was the daughter of Bartolomeo CoUeone, the famous 
condottiere, whose statue adorns the Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo at 
Venice. Like CatuUus's Lesbia, whose immortal passer Butler felt 
sure was also a passero solitario, she had the misfortune to lose her pet. 
Its little body can still be seen in the Capella CoUeone, up in the old 
town at Bergamo, lying on a little cushion on the top of a little column, 
and behind it there stands a little weeping willow tree whose leaves, 
cut out in green paper, droop over the corpse. In front of the column 
is the inscription, " Passer Medeae CoUeonis," and the whole is covered 
by a glass shade about eight inches high. Mr. Festing Jones has kindly 
allowed me to borrow this note from his " Diary of a Tour through 
North Italy to Sicily."— R. A. S. 

232 Alps and Sanctuaries 

Many years ago I remember thinking that the birds 
in New Zealand approached the diatonic scale more 
nearly than European birds do. There was one bird, 
I think it was the New Zealand thrush, but am not sure, 
which used to sing thus :— 






T P-'=MZZgI 

-| — I — I — r 



I was always wanting it to go on : — 


But it never got beyond the first four bars. Then 
there was another which I noticed the first day I landed, 
more than twenty years since, and whose song descended 
by very nearly perfect semitones as follows : — 

but the semitones are here and there in this bird's song 
a trifle out of tune, whereas in that of the other there 
was no departure from the diatonic scale. Be this, how- 
ever, as it may, none of these please me so much as the 
passero solitario. 

The only mammals that I can call to mind at this 
moment as showing any even apparent approach to an 

The Mendrisiotto 233 

appreciation of the diatonic scale are the elephant and 
the rhinoceros. The braying (or whatever is the technical 
term for it) of an elephant comprises a pretty accurate 
third, and is of a rich mellow tone with a good deal of 
brass in it. The rhinoceros grunts a good fourth, begin- 
ning, we will say, on C, and dropping correctly on to the 
G below. 

The Monte Generoso, then, is a good place to stay 
a few days at, but one soon comes to an end of it. The 
top of a mountain is like an island in the air, one is cooped 
up upon it unless one descends ; in the case of the Monte 
Generoso there is the view of the lake of Lugano, the 
walk to the Colma, the walk along the crest of the 
hill by the farm, and the view over Lombardy, and 
that is all. If one goes far down one is haunted 
by the recollection that when one is tired in the even- 
ing one will have all one's climbing to do, and, 
beautiful as the upper parts of the Monte Generoso 
are, there is little for a painter there except to study 
cattle, goats, and clouds. I recommend a traveller, 
therefore, by all means to spend a day or two at the 
hotel on the Monte Generoso, but to make his longer 
sojourn down below at Mendrisio, the walks and ex- 
cursions from which are endless, and all of them beautiful. 

Among the best of these is the ascent of the Monte 
Bisbino, which can be easily made in a day from Men- 
drisio ; I found no difficulty in doing it on foot all the 
way there and back a few years ago, but I now prefer to 
take a trap as far as Sagno, and do the rest of the journey 
on foot, returning to the trap in the evening. Every 
one who knows North Italy knows the Monte Bisbino. 
It is a high pyramidal mountain with what seems a little 
white chapel on the top that glistens like a star when the 
sun is full upon it. From Como it is seen most plainly, 

2 34 Alps and Sanctuaries 

but it is distinguishable over a very large part of Lom- 
bardy when the sun is right ; it is frequently ascended 
from Como and Cernobbio, but I believe the easiest way 
of getting up it is to start from Mendrisio with a trap as 
far as Sagno. 

A mile and a half or so after leaving Mendrisio there 
is a village called Castello on the left. Here, a little off 
the road on the right hand, there is the small church of 
S. €ristoforo, of great antiquity, containing the remains 
of some early frescoes, I should think of the thirteenth 
or early part of the fourteenth century. 

As usual, people have scratched their names on the 
frescoes. We found one name " Battista," with the 
date " 1485 " against it. It is a mistake to hold that 
the English scribble their names about more than other 
people. The Italians like doing this just as well as we 
do. Let the reader go to Varallo, for example, and note 
the names scratched up from the beginning of the six- 
teenth century to the present day, on the walls of the 
chapel containing the Crucifixion. Indeed, the Italians 
seem to have begun the habit long before we did, for we 
very rarely find names scratched on English buildings 
so long ago as the fifteenth century, whereas in Italy they 
are common. The earliest I can call to mind in England at 
this moment (of course, excepting the names written in the 
Beauchamp Tower) is on the church porch at Harlington, 
where there is a name cut and dated in one of the early 
years of the seventeenth century. I never even in Italy 
saw a name scratched on a wall with an earlier date than 

Why is it, I wonder, that these little bits of soul- 
fossil, as it were, touch us so much when we come across 
them ? A fossil does not touch us — ^while a fly in amber 
does. Why should a fly^ in amber interest us and give us 

The Mendrisiotto 235 

a slightly solemn feeling for a moment, when the fossil 
of a megatherium bores us ? I give it up ; but few of us 
can see the lightest trifle scratched off casually and idly 
long ago, without Uking it better than almost any great 
thing of the same, or ever so much earlier date, done with 
purpose and intention that it should remain. So when we 
left S. Cristoforo it was not the old church, nor the fres- 
coes, but the name of the idle fellow who had scratched 
his name " Battista . . . 1485," that we carried away 
with us. A little bit of old world hfe and entire want 
of earnestness, preserved as though it were a smile in 

In the Val Sesia, several years ago, I bought some 
tobacco that was wrapped up for me in a yellow old 
MS. which I in due course examined. It was dated 
1797, and was a leaf from the book in which a tanner 
used to enter the skins which his customers brought 
him to be tanned. 

" October 24," he writes, " I received from Signora 
Silvestre, called the widow, the skin of a goat branded 
in the neck. — (I am not to give it up unless they give 
me proof that she is the rightful owner.) Mem. I 
dehvered it to Mr. Peter Job (Signor Pietro Giobbe). 

" October 27. — I receive two small skins of a goat, 
very thin and branded in the neck, from Giuseppe Gianote 
of Campertogno. 

" October 29. — I receive three skins of a chamois 
from Signor Antonio Cinere of Alagna, branded in the 
neck." Then there is a subsequent entry written small. 
" I receive also a little gray marmot's skin weighing 
thirty ounces." 

I am sorry I did not get a sheet with the tanner's 
name. I am sure he was an excellent person, and might 
have been trusted with any number of skins, branded 

236 Alps and Sanctuaries 

or unbranded. It is nearly a hundred years ago since 
that Httle gray marmot's skin was tanned in the Val 
Sesia ; but the wretch will not lie quiet in his grave ; 
he walks, and has haunted me once a month or so any 
time this ten years past. I will see if I cannot lay him 
by prevailing on him to haunt some one or other of my 

Chapter XX 
Sanctuary on Monte Bisbino 

BUT to return to S. Cristoforo. In the Middle Ages 
there was a certain duke who held this part of the 
country and was notorious for his exactions. One 
Christmas eve when he and his whole household had 
assembled to their devotions, the people rose up against 
them and murdered them inside the church. After this 
tragedy the church was desecrated, though monuments 
have been put up on the outside walls even in recent 
years. There is a fine bit of early religious sculpture over 
the door, and the traces of a fresco of Christ walking upon 
the water, also very early. 

Returning to the road by a path of a couple of hundred 
yards, we descended to cross the river, and then ascended 
again to Morbio Superiore. The view from the piazza 
in front of the church is very fine, extending over the 
whole Mendrisiotto, and reaching as far as Varese and 
the Lago Maggiore. Below is Morbio Inferiore, a place 
of singular beauty. A couple of Italian friends were with 
us, one of them Signor Spartaco Vela, son of Professor 
Vela. He called us into the church and showed us a 
beautiful altar-piece — a Madonna with saints on either 
side, apparently moved from some earlier church, and, 
as we all agreed, a very fine work, though we could form 
no idea who the artist was. 

From Morbio Superiore the ascent is steep, and it 


238 Alps and Sanctuaries 

will take half-an-hour or more to reach the level bit 
of road close to Sagno. This, again, commands the 
most exquisite views, especially over Como, through 
the trunks of the trees. Then comes Sagno itself, the 
last village of the Canton Ticino and close to the Itahan 
frontier. There is no inn with sleeping accommodation 
here, but if there was, Sagno would be a very good place 
to stay at. They say that some of its inhabitants some- 
times smuggle a pound or two of tobacco across the Italian 
frontier, hiding it in the fern close to the boundary, and 

jaLsm' "■1" '^•' •* 


whisking it over the line on a dark night, but I know not 
what truth there is in the allegation ; the people struck 
me as being above the average in respect of good looks 
and good breeding — and the average in those parts is a 
very high one. 

Immediately behind Sagno the old paved pilgrim's 
road begins to ascend rapidly. We followed it, and in 
half-an-hour reached the stone marking the Italian 
boundary ; then comes some level walking, and then 
on turning a corner the monastery at the top of the 
Monte Bisbino is caught sight of. It still looks small, 
but one can now see what an important building it 

Sanctuary on Monte Bisbino 239 

really is, and how different from the mere chapel which 
it appears to be when seen from a distance. The sketch 
which I give is taken from about a mile further on than 
the place where the summit is first seen. 

Here some men joined us who lived in a hut a few 
hundred feet from the top of the mountain and looked 
after the cattle there during the summer. It is at their 
alpe that the last water can be obtained, so we resolved 
to stay there and eat the provisions we had brought with 
us. For the benefit of travellers, I should say they will 
find the water by opening the door of a kind of outhouse ; 
this covers the water and prevents the cows from 
dirtying it. There will be a wooden bow^ floating on the 
top. The water outside is not drinkable, but that in the 
outhouse is excellent. 

The men were very good to us ; they knew me, having 
seen me pass and watched me sketching in other years. 
It had unfortunately now begun to rain, so we were 
glad of shelter : they threw faggots on the fire and soon 
kindled a blaze ; when these died down and it was seen 
that the sparks clung to the kettle and smouldered on it, 
they said that it would rain much, and they were right. 
It poured during the hour we spent in dining, after which 
it only got a little better ; we thanked them, and went 
up five or six hundred feet till the monastery at length 
loomed out suddenly upon us from the mist, when we 
were close to it but not before. 

There is a restaurant at the top which is open for 
a few days before and after a festa, but generally closed ; 
it was open now, so we went in to dry ourselves. We 
found rather a roughish lot assembled, and imagined the 
smuggling element to preponderate over the religious, 
but nothing could be better than the way in which they 
treated us. There was one gentleman, however, who was 

240 Alps and Sanctuaries 

no smuggler, but who had lived many years in London 
and had now settled down at Rovenna, just below on 
the lake of Como. He had taken a room here and fur- 
nished it for the sake of the shooting. He spoke perfect 
English, and would have none but English things about 

^ct^ttit tiCmt^ lAe'cJn'^HC t^,^t'iit^ C0M^'iie-' Ccwtwc f^-^wiT/tft<e/ 

him. He had Cockle's antibilious pills, and the last 
numbers of the " Illustrated London News " and " Morn- 
ing Chronicle ; " his bath and bath-towels were English, 
and there was a box of Huntley & Palmer's biscuits on 
his dressing-table. He was delighted to see some 
Englishmen, and showed us everything that was to be 

Sanctuary on Monte Bisbino 241 

seen — among the rest the birds he kept in cages to lure 

those that he intended to shoot. He also took us behind 

the church, and there we found a very beautiful marble 

statue of the Madonna and child, an admirable work, 

with painted eyes and the 

dress gilded and figured. What 

an extraordinary number of fine 

or, at the least, interesting 

things one finds in Italy which 

no one knows anything about. 

In one day, poking about at 

random, we had seen some early 

frescoes at S. Cristoforo, an 

excellent work at Morbio, and 

thing sprung upon us. 


here was another fine 
It is not safe ever to pass a church 
in Italy without exploring it carefully. The church may 
be new and for the most part full of nothing but what is 
odious, but there is no knowing what fragment of earlier 
work one may not find preserved. 

Signer Barelli, for this was our friend's name, now 
gave us some prints of the 
sanctuary, one of which I re- 
produce on p. 240. Behind the 
church there is a level piece 
of ground with a table and 
stone seats round it. The view 
from here in fine weather is 
very striking. As it was, how- 
ever, it was perhaps hardly 
less fine than in clear weather, for the clouds had now raised 
themselves a httle, though very little, above the sanctuary, 
but here and there lay all ragged down below us, and cast 
beautiful reflected Hghts upon the lake and town of Como. 


Above, the heavens were still black and-lowering. 


^4-2 Alps and Sanctuaries 

against us was the Monte Generoso, very sombre, and 
scarred with snow-white torrents ; below, the dull, sullen 
slopes of the Monte Bisbino, and the lake of Como ; further 
on, the Mendrisiotto and the blue-black plains of Lombardy. 
I have been at the top of the Monte Bisbino several times, 
but never was more impressed with it. At all times, 
however, it is a marvellous place. 

Coming down we kept the ridge of the hill instead of 
taking the path by which we ascended. Beautiful views 
of the monastery are thus obtained. The flowers in 
spring must be very varied ; and we still found two or 
three large kinds of gentians and any number of cyclamens. 
Presently Vela dug up a fern root of the common Poly- 
f odium vulgare ; he scraped it with his knife and gave 
us some to eat. It is not at all bad, and tastes very much 
like liquorice. Then we came upon the little chapel of 
S. Nicolao. I do not know whether there is anything 
good inside or no. Then we reached Sagno and returned 
to Mendrisio ; as we re-crossed the stream between Morbio 
Superiore and Castello we found it had become a raging 
torrent, capable of any villainy. 

Chapter XXI 
A Day at the Cantine 

NEXT day we went to breakfast with Professor 
Vela, the father of my friend Spartaco, at Ligor- 
netto. After we had admired the many fine works which 
Professor Vela's studio contains, it was agreed that we 
should take a walk by S. Agata, and spend the after- 
noon at the cantine, or cellars where the wine is kept. 
Spartaco had two painter friends staying with him whom 
I already knew, and a young lady, his cousin ; so we all 
went together across the meadows. I think we started 
about one o'clock, and it was some three or four by the 
time we got to the cantine, for we kept stopping con- 
tinually to drink wine. The two painter visitors had a 
fine comic vein, and enlivened us continually with bits 
of stage business which were sometimes uncommonly 
droU. We were laughing incessantly, but carried very 
little away with us except that the drier one of the two, 
who was also unfortunately deaf, threw himself into a 
rhapsodical attitude with his middle finger against his 
cheek, and his eyes upturned to heaven, but to make sure 
that his finger should stick to his cheek he just wetted 
the end of it against his tongue first. He did this with 
unruffled gravity, and as if it were the only thing to do 
under the circumstances. 

The young lady who was with us all the time enjoyed 
everything just as much as we did ; once, indeed, she 


244 Alps and Sanctuaries 

thought they were going a Uttle too far — not as among 
themselves — but considering that there were a couple of 
earnest-minded Englishmen with them : the pair had 
begun a short performance which certainly did look as 
if it might develop into something a little hazardous. 
" Minga far tutto," she exclaimed rather promptly — 
" Don't do all." So what the rest would have been we 
shall never know. 

Then we came to some precipices, whereon it at once 
occurred to the two comedians that they would commit 
suicide. The pathetic way in which they shared the 
contents of their pockets among us, and came back 
more than once to give little additional parting messages 
which occurred to them just as they were about to take 
the fatal plunge, was irresistibly comic, and was the more 
remarkable for the spontaneousness of the whole thing 
and the admirable way in which the pair played into one 
another's hands. The deaf one even played his deafness, 
making it worse than it was so as to heighten the comedy. 
By and by we came to a stile which they pretended to 
have a delicacy in crossing, but the lady helped them 
over. We concluded that if these young men were 
average specimens of the Italian student — and I should 
say they were — the Italian character has an enormous 
fund of pure love of fun — not of mischievous fun, but of 
the very best kind of playful humour, such as I have never 
seen elsewhere except among Englishmen. 

Several times we stopped and had a bottle of wine at 
one place or another, till at last we came to a beautiful 
shady place looking down towards the lake of Lugano 
where we were to rest for half-an-hour or so. There was 
a cantina here, so of course we had more wine. In that 
air, and with the walk and incessant state of laughter in 
which we were being kept, we might drink ad libitum, 

A Day at the Can tine 245 

and the lady did not refuse a second small bicchiere. 
On this our deaf friend assumed an anxious, fatherly air. 
He said nothing, but put his eyeglass in his eye, and looked 
first at the lady's glass and then at the lady with an 
expression at once kind, pitying, and pained ; he looked 
backwards and forwatds from the glass to the lady 
more than once, and then made as though he were going 
to quit a scene in which it was plain he could be of no 
further use, throwing up his hands and eyes Hke the old 
steward in Hogarth's " Marriage a la mode." They never 
seemed to tire, and every fresh incident at once sug- 
gested its appropriate treatment. Jones asked them 
whether they thought they could mimic me. " Oh dear, 
yes," was the answer ; "we have mimicked him hundreds 
of times," and they at once began. 

At last we reached Professor Vela's own cantina, 
and here we were to have our final bottle. There were 
several other cantine hard by, and other parties that had 
come like ourselves to take a walk and get some wine. 
The people bring their evening meal with them up to the 
cantina and then sit on the wall outside, or go to a rough 
table and eat it. Instead, in fact, of bringing their wine 
to their dinner, they take their dinner to their wine. 
There was one very fat old gentleman who had got the 
corner of the wall to sit on, and was smoking a cigar with 
his coat off. He comes, I am told, every day at about 
three during the summer months, and sits on the wall 
till seven, when he goes home to bed, rising at about four 
o'clock next morning. He seemed exceedingly good- 
tempered and happy. Another family who owned 
a cantina adjoining Professor Vela's, had brought their 
evening meal with them, and insisted on giving us a 
quantity of excellent river cray-fish which looked like 
little lobsters. I may be wrong, but I thought this 

246 Alps and Sanctuaries 

family looked at us once or twice as though they thought 
we were seeing a little more of the Italians absolutely 
chez eux than strangers ought to be allowed to see. 
We can only say we liked all we saw so much that we 
would fain see it again, and were left with the impres- 
sion that we were among the nicest and most loveable 
people in the world. 

I have said that the cantine are the cellars where 
the people keep their wine. They are caves hollowed 
out into the side of the mountain, and it is only certain 
localities that are suitable for the purpose. The cantine, 
therefore, of any village wiU be all together. The cantine 
of Mendrisio, for example, can be seen from the railroad, 
all in a row, a little before one gets into the town ; they 
form a place of reunion where the village or town unites 
to unbend itself on feste or after business hours. I do 
not know exactly how they manage it, but from -the 
innermost chamber of each cantina they run a small gallery 
as far as they can into the mountain, and from this gallery, 
which may be a foot square, there issues a strong current 
of what, in summer, is icy cold air, while in winter it 
feels quite warm. I could understand the equableness 
of the temperature of the mountain at some yards from 
the surface of the ground, causing the cantina to feel cool 
in summer and warm in winter, but I was not prepared 
for the strength and iciness of the cold current that 
came from the gallery. I had not been in the innermost 
cantina two minutes before I felt thoroughly chilled 
and in want of a greatcoat. 

Having been shown the cantine, we took some of the 
little cups which are kept inside and began to drink. 
These little cups are common crockery, but at the bottom 
there is written, Viva Bacco, Viva ITtalia, Viva la Gioia, 
Viva Venere, or other such matter ; they are to be had 

A Day at the Cantine 247 

in every crockery shop throughout the Mendrisiotto, 
and are very pretty. We drank out of them, and ate the 
cray-fish which had been given us. Then seeing that it 
was getting late, we returned together to Besazio, and 
there parted, they descending to Ligornetto and we to 
Mendrisio, after a day which I should be glad to think 
would be as long and pleasantly remembered by our 
Italian friends as it will assuredly be by ourselves. 

^-. *^\'v^ -■-tvf-' ^ X-S^^' ^/' 

>- "J "1- -^^ '^'-^ '^ ^^T^i ^' 

ill .* • 

/-■s. ' 


The excursions in the neighbourhood of Mendrisio are 
endless. The walk, for example, to S. Agata and thence 
to Meride is exquisite. S. Agata itself is perfect, and 
commands a splendid view. Then there is the little chapel 
of S. Nicolao on a ledge of the red precipice. The walk 
to this by the village of Sommazzo is as good as any- 
thing can be, and the quiet terrace leading to the church 
door will not be forgotten by those who have seen it. 

248 Alps and banctuaries 

Sommazzo itself from the other side of the valley comes as 
on p. 247. There is Cragno, again, on the Monte Generoso, 
or Riva with its series of pictures in tempera by the 
brothers Giulio Cesare and Camillo Procaccini, men 
who, had they lived before the days of academies, might 
have done as well as any, except the few whom no 
academy can mould, but who, as it was, were carried 
away by fluency and facility. It is useless, however, 
to specify. There is not one of the many villages which 
can be seen from any rising ground in the neighbourhood, 
but what contains something that is picturesque and 
interesting, while the coup d'ceil, as a whole, is always 
equally striking, whether one is on the plain and looks 
towards the mountains, or looks from the mountains to 
the plains. 

Chapter XXII 
Sacro Monte, Varese 

FROM Mendrisio we took a trap across the country 
to Varese, passing through Stabbio, where there are 
some baths that are much frequented by Itahans in 
the summer. The road is a pleasant one, but does not 
go through any specially remarkable places. Travellers 
taking this road had better leave every cigarette behind 
them on which they do not want to pay duty, as the 
custom-house official at the frontier takes a strict view 
of what is due to his employers. I had, perhaps, a couple 
of ounces of tobacco in my pouch, but was made to pay 
duty on it, and the searching of our small amount of 
luggage was little less than inquisitorial. 

From Varese we went without stopping to the Sacro 
Monte, four or five miles beyond, and several hundred 
feet higher than the town itself. Close to the first chapel, 
and just below the arch through which the more sacred 
part of the mountain is entered upon, there is an ex- 
cellent hotel called the Hotel Riposo, kept by Signor 
Piotti ; it is very comfortable, and not at all too hot 
even in the dog-days ; it commands magnificent views, 
and makes very good headquarters. 

Here we rested and watched the pilgrims going up 
and down. They seemed very good-humoured and merry. 
Then we looked through the grating of the first chapel 


250 Alps and Sanctuaries 

inside the arch, and found it to contain a representa- 
tion of the Annunciation. The Virgin had a real washing- 
stand, with a basin and jug, and a piece of real soap. 
Her slippers were disposed neatly under the bed, so also 
were her shoes, and, if I remember rightly, there was 
everything else that Messrs. Heal & Co. would send for 
the furnishing of a lady's bedroom. 

I have already said perhaps too much about the 
realism of these groups of painted statuary, but will 
venture a word or two more which may help the reader 
to understand the matter better as it appears to Catholics 
themselves. The object is to bring the scene as vividly 
as possible before people who have not had the opportu- 
nity of being able to realise it to themselves through 
travel or general cultivation of the imaginative faculties. 
How can an Italian peasant realise to himself the notion 
of the Annunciation so well as by seeing such a chapel as 
that at Varese ? Common sense says, either tell the 
peasant nothing about the Annunciation, or put every 
facility in his way by the help of which he will be able to 
conceive the idea with some definiteness. 

We stuff the dead bodies of birds and animals which 
we think it worth while to put into our museums. We 
put them in the most life-like attitudes we can, with bits 
of grass and bush, and painted landscape behind them : 
by doing this we give people who have never seen the 
actual animals, a more vivid idea concerning them than 
we know how to give by any other means. We have not 
room in the British Museum to give a loose rein to realism 
in the matter of accessories, but each bird or animal in the 
collection is so stuffed as to make it look as much alive 
as the stuffer can make it — even to the insertion of glass 
eyes. We think it well that our people should have an 
opportunity of realising these birds and beasts to them- 

Sacro Monte, Varese 251 

selves, but we are shocked at the notion of giving them a 
similar aid to the realisation of events which, as we say, 
concern them more nearly than any others in the history 
of the world. A stuffed rabbit or blackbird is a good 
thing. A stuffed Charge of Balaclava again is quite 
legitimate ; but a stuffed Nativity is, according to 
Protestant notions, offensive. 

Over and above the desire to help the masses to realise 
the events in Christ's life more vividly, something is 
doubtless due to the wish to attract people by giving them 
what they like. This is both natural and legitimate. 
Our own rectors find the prettiest psalm and hymn tunes 
they can for the use of their congregations, and take 
much pains generally to beautify their churches. Why 
should not the Church of Rome make herself attractive 
also ? If she knows better how to do this than Protestant 
churches do, small blame to her for that. For the people 
delight in these graven images. Listen to the hushed 
" oh bel ! " which falls from them as they peep through 
grating after grating ; and the more tawdry a chapel is, 
the better, as a general rule, they are contented. They 
like them as our own people like Madame Tussaud's. 
Granted that they come to worship the images ; they do ; 
they hardly attempt to conceal it. The writer of the 
authorised handbook to the Sacro Monte at Locarno, for 
example, speaks of " the solemn coronation of the image 
that is there revered " — " la solenne coronazione del 
simulacro ivi venerato " (p. 7). But how, pray, can we 
avoid worshipping images ? or loving images ? The actual 
living form of Christ on earth was still not Christ, it was 
but the image under which His disciples saw Him ; nor 
can we see more of any of those we love than a certain 
more versatile and warmer presentment of them than an 
artist can counterfeit. The ultimate " them " we see not. 

252 Alps and Sanctuaries 

How far these chapels have done all that their founders 
expected of them is another matter. They have un- 
doubtedly strengthened the hands of the Church in their 
immediate neighbourhood, and they have given an in- 
calculable amount of pleasure, but I think that in the 
Middle Ages people expected of art more than art can 
do. They hoped a fine work of art would exercise a 
deep and permanent effect upon the lives of those who 
lived near it. Doubtless it does have some effect — 
enough to make it worth while to encourage such works, 
but nevertheless the effect is, I imagine, very transient. 
The only thing that can produce a deep and permanently 
good influence upon a man's character is to have been 
begotten of good ancestors for many generations — or at 
any rate to have reverted to a good ancestor — and to 
live among nice people. 

The chapels themselves at Varese, apart from their 
contents, are very beautiful. They come as fresh one 
after the other as a set of variations by Handel. Each 
one of them is a little architectural gem, while the figures 
they contain are sometimes very good, though on the 
whole not equal to those at Varallo. The subjects are 
the mysteries of joy, namely, the Annunciation (imme- 
diately after the first great arch is passed) , the Salutation 
of Mary by Elizabeth, the Nativity, the Presentation, 
and the Disputing with the Doctors. Then there is a 
second arch, after which come the mysteries of grief — 
the Agony in the Garden, the Flagellation, the Crowning 
with Thorns, the Ascent to Calvary, and the Crucifixion. 
Passing through a third arch, we come to the mysteries 
of glory — the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent 
of the Holy Ghost, and the Assumption of the Virgin 
Mary. The Dispute in the Temple is the chapel which 
left the deepest impression upon us. Here the various 

Sacro Monte, Varese 


attitudes and expressions of the doctors are admirably 
rendered. There is one man, I think he must have been a 
broad churchman and have taken in the " Spectator" ; his 
arms are folded, and he is smiHng a little, with his head 
on one side. He is not prepared, he seems to say, to deny 
that there is a certain element of truth in what this 
young person has been saying, but it is very shallow, and 


in all essential points has been refuted over and over again ; 
he has seen these things come and go so often, &c. But 
all the doctors are good. The Christ is weak, and so 
are the Joseph and Mary in the background ; in fact, 
throughout the whole series of chapels the wicked or 
worldly and indifferent people are well done, while the 
saints are a feeble folk : the sculptor evidently neither 
understood them nor liked them, and could never get 
beyond silliness ; but the artist who has lately done 

2 54 Alps and Sanctuaries 

them up has made them still weaker and sillier by giving 
them all pink noses. 

Shortly after the sixth chapel has been passed the road 
turns a corner, and the town on the hill (see preceding 
page) comes into full view. This is a singularly beautiful 
spot. The chapels are worth coming a long way to see, 
but this view of- the town is better still : we generally 


like any building that is on the top of a hill ; it is an 
instinct in our nature to do so ; it is a remnant of the 
same instinct which makes sheep like to camp at the 
top of a hill ; it gives a remote sense of security and 
vantage-ground against an enemy. The Italians seem 
hardly able to look at a high place without longing to 
put something on the top of it, and they have seldom 
done so with better effect than in the case of the Sacro 

Sacro Monte, Varese 


Monte at Varese. From the moment of its bursting upon 
one on turning the corner near the seventh, or Flagellation 
chapel, one cannot keep one's eyes off it, and one fancies, 
as with S. Michele, that it comes better and better with 
every step one takes ; near the top it composes, as on 
p. 254, but without colour nothing can give an adequate 
notion of its extreme beauty. Once at the top the interest 
centres in the higgledy-pigglediness of the houses, the 


gay colours of the booths where strings of beads and other 
religious knick-knacks are sold, the glorious panorama, 
and in the inn where one can dine very well, and I should 
imagine find good sleeping accommodation. The view 
from the balcony outside the dining-room is wonderful, 
and above is a sketch from the terrace just in front of 
the church. 

There is here no single building comparable to the 
sanctuary of Sammichele, nor is there any trace of 

256 Alps and Sanctuaries 

that beautiful Lombard work which makes so much 
impression upon one in the church on the Monte Pir- 
chiriano ; the architecture is late, and barocco, not to 
say rococo, reigns everywhere ; nevertheless the effect of 
the church is good. The visitor should get the sacristan 
to show him a very fine pagliotto or altar cloth of raised 
embroidery, worked in the thirteenth century. He will 
also do well to walk some little distance behind the town 


> * 91 

•0 % . »"*>-*/*£ 


on the way to S. Maria dei fiori (St. Mary of the flowers) 
and look down upon the town and Lombardy. I do not 
think he need go much higher than this, unless he has a 
fancy for chmbing. 

The Sacro Monte is a kind of ecclesiastical Rosherville 
Gardens, eminently the place to spend a happy day. 
We happened by good luck to be there during one of 
the great feste of the year, and saw I am afraid to say 
how many thousands of pilgrims go up and down. They 

Sacro Monte, Varese 257 

were admirably behaved, and not one of them tipsy. There 
was an old English gentleman at the Hotel Riposo who 
told us that there had been another such festa not many 
weeks previously, and that he had seen one drunken man 
there — an Englishman — who kept abusing all he saw 
and crying out, " Manchester's the place for me." 

The processions were best at the last part of the ascent ; 
there were pilgrims, all decked out with coloured feathers, 
and priests and banners and music and crimson and gold 
and white and glittering brass against the cloudless blue 
sky. The old priest sat at his open window to receive the 
offerings of the devout as they passed ; but he did not 
seem to get more than a few bambini modelled in wax. 
Perhaps he was used to it. And the band played the 
barocco music on the barocco little piazza and we were* 
all barocco together. It was as though the clergyman 
at Ladywell had given out that, instead of having service 
as usual, the congregation would go in procession to the 
Crystal Palace with all their traps, and that the band had 
been practising " Wait till the clouds roll by " for 
some time, and on Sunday as a great treat they should 
have it. 

The Pope has issued an order saying he will not have 
masses written like operas. It is no use. The Pope can 
do much, but he will not be able to get contrapuntal music 
into Varese. He will not be able to get anything more 
solemn than " La Fille de Madame Angot " into Varese. As 

for fugues ! I would as soon take an Enghsh bishop 

to the Surrey pantomime as to the Sacro Monte on ^ festa. 

Then the pilgrims went into the shadow of a great rock 
behind the sanctuary, spread themselves out over the 
grass and dined. 

Chapter XXIII 
Angera and Arona 

FROM the Hotel Riposo we drove to Angera, on the 
Lago Maggiore. There are many interesting things 
to see on the way. Close to Velate, for example, there 
is the magnificent bit of ruin which is so striking a feature 
as seen from the Sacro Monte. A little further on, at 
■sLuinate, there is a fine old Lombard campanile and some 
conventual buildings which are worth sparing five minutes 
or so to see. The views hereabouts over the lake of 
Varese and towards Monte Rosa are exceedingly fine. 
The driver should be told to go a mile or so out of his 
direct route in order to pass Oltrona, near Voltrone. 
Here there was a monastery which must once have been 
an important one. Little of old work remains, except 
a very beautiful cloister of the thirteenth or fourteenth 
century, which should not be missed. It measures about 
twenty-one paces each way : the north side has round 
arches made of brick, the arches are supported by small 
columns about six inches through, each of which has a 
different capital ; the middle is now garden ground. 
A few miles nearer Angera there is Brebbia, the church 
of which is an excellent specimen of early Lombard work. 
We thought we saw the traditions of Cyclopean masonry 
in the occasional irregularity of the string-courses. The 
stones near the bottom of the wall are very massive, and 
the west wall is not, if I remember rightly, bonded into 


Angera and Arona 259 

the north and south walls, but these walls are only built 
up against it as at Giornico. The door on the south side 
is simple, but remarkably beautiful. It looks almost 
as if it might belong to some early Norman church in 
England, and the stones have acquired a most exquisite 
warm colour with age. At Ispra there is a campanile 
which Mr. Ruskin would probably disapprove of, but 


which we thought lovely. A few kilometres further on a 
corner is turned, and the splendid castle of Angera is 
caught sight of. 

Before going up to the castle we stayed at the inn on 
the left immediately on entering the town, to dine. 
They gave us a very good dinner, and the garden was 
a delightful place to dine in. There is a kind of red 
champagne made hereabouts which is very good ; the 
figs were ripe, and we could gather them for ourselves and 

26o Alps and Sanctuaries 

eat ad libitum. There were two tame sparrows hopping 
continually about us ; they pretended to make a little 
fuss about allowing themselves to be caught, but they 
evidently did not mind it. I dropped a bit of bread and 
was stooping to pick it up ; one of them on seeing me 
move made for it and carried it off at once ; the action was 
exactly that of one who was saying, " I don't particularly 
want it myself, but I'm not going to let you have it." 

— Ji »«. 


Presently some cacciatori came with a poodle-dog. 
They explained to us that though the poodle was " a 
truly hunting dog," he would not touch the sparrows, 
which to do him justice he did not. There was a tame 
jay also, like the sparrows going about loose, but, like 
them, aware when he was well off. 

After dinner we went up to the castle, which I have 
now visited off and on for many years, and like always 
better and better each time I go there. I know no place 
comparable to it in its own way. I know no place so 

Angera and Arona 


pathetic, and yet so impressive, in its decay. It is not a 
ruin — all ruins are frauds — it is only decayed. It is 
a kind of Stokesay or Ightham Mote, better preserved 
than the first, and less furnished than the second, but on 
a grander scale than either, and set in incomparably 
finer surroundings. The path towards it passes the 
church, which has been spoiled. Outside this there are 


parts of old Roman columns from some temple, stuck 
in the ground ; inside are two statues called St. Peter 
and St. Paul, but evidently efiigies of some magistrates 
in the Roman times. If the traveller likes to continue the 
road past the church for three-quarters of a mile or so, 
he will get a fine view of the castle, and if he goes up to the 
little chapel of S. Quirico on the top of the hill on his 
right hand, he will look down upon it and upon Arona. 
We will suppose, however, that he goes straight for the 

262 Alps and Sanctuaries 

castle itself ; every moment as he approaches it, it will 
seem finer and finer ; presently he will turn into a vineyard 
on his left, and at once begin to climb. 

Passing under the old gateway — with its portcullis 
still ready to be dropped, if need be, and with the iron 
plates that sheathe it pierced with bullets — as at S. 
Michele, the visitor enters at once upon a terrace from 


which the two foregoing illustrations were taken. I 
know nothing like this terrace. On a summer's afternoon 
and evening it is fully shaded, the sun being behind the 
castle. The lake and town below are still in sunlight. 
This, I think, is about the best time to see the castle — say 
from six to eight on a July evening, or at any hour on a 
gray day. 

Count Borromeo, to whom the castle belongs, allows 
it to bp shown, and visitors are numerous. There is 

Angera and Arona 


very little furniture inside the rooms, and the little 
there is is decaying ; the walls are covered with pictures, 
mostly copies, and none of them of any great merit, but 
the rooms themselves are lovely. Here is a sketch of the 
one in which San Carlo Borromeo was born, but the one 
on the floor beneath is better still. The whole of this part 
was built about the year 1350, and inside, where the 


weather has not reached, the stones are as sharp as if 
they had been cut yesterday. It was in the great Sala of 
this castle that the rising against the Austrians in 1848 
was planned ; then there is the Sala di Giustizia, a fine 
room, with the remains of frescoes ; the roof and the 
tower should also certainly be visited. All is solid 
and real, yet it is like an Italian opera in actual life. 
Lastly, there is the kitchen, where the wheel still remains 
in which a turnspit dog used to be put to turn it 

264 Alps and banctuaries 

and roast the meat ; but this room is not shown to 

The inner court of the castle is as beautiful as the 
outer one. Through the open door one catches glimpses 
of the terrace, and of the lake beyond it. I know Ightham, 
Hever, and Stokesay, both inside and out, and I know 
the outside of Leeds ; these are all of them exquisitely 
beautiful, but neither they nor any other such place that 
I have ever seen please me as much as the castle of 

We stayed talking to my old friend Signor Signorelli, 
the custode of the castle, and his family, and sketching 
upon the terrace until Tonio came to tell us that his 
boat was at the quay waiting for us. Tonio is now about 
fourteen years old, but was only four when I first had the 
pleasure of making his acquaintance. He is son to 
Giovanni, or as he is more commonly called, Giovannino, 
a boatman of Arona. The boy is deservedly a great 
favourite, and is now a padrone with a boat of his own, 
from which he can get a good living. 

He pulled us across "the warm and sleepy lake, so 
far the most beautiful of all even the Italian lakes ; 
as we neared Arona, and the wall that runs along the 
lake became more plain, I could not help thinking of 
what Giovanni had told me about it some years before, 
when Tonio was lying curled up, a little mite of an object, 
in the bottom of the boat. He was extolling a certain 
family of peasants who live near the castle of Angera, 
as being models of everything a family ought to be. 
" There," he said, " the children do not speak at meal- 
times ; the polenta is put upon the table, and each 
takes exactly what is given him ; even though one of 
the children thinks another has got a larger helping than 
he has, he will eat his piece in silence. My children are 

Angera and Arona 265 

not like that ; if Marietta thinks Irene has a bigger 
piece than she has, she will leave the room and go to the 

" What," I asked, " does she go to the wall for ? " 

" Oh ! to cry ; all the children go to the wall to 

I thought of Hezekiah. The wall is the crying place, 
playing, lounging place, and a great deal more, of all 
the houses in its vicinity. It is the common drawing- 
room during the summer months ; if the weather is too 
sultry, a boatman wiU leave his bed and finish the night 
on his back upon its broad coping ; we who live in a 
colder climate can hardly understand how great a blank 
in the existence of these people the destruction of the 
wall would be. 

We soon reached Arona, and in a few minutes were 
in that kind and hospitable house the Hotel d'ltalia, 
than which no better hotel is to be found in Italy. 

Arona is cooler than Angera. The proverb says, 
" He who would know the pains of the infernal regions, 
should go to Angera in the summer and to Arona in the 
winter." The neighbourhood is exquisite. Unless 
during the extreme heat of summer, it is the best place 
to stay at on the Lago Maggiore. The Monte Motterone 
is within the compass of a single day's excursion ; there 
is Orta, also, and Varallo easily accessible, and any 
number of drives and nearer excursions whether by 
boat or carriage. 

One day we made Tonio take us to Castelletto near 
Sesto Calende, to hear the bells. They ring the bells 
very beautifully at Vogogna, but, unless my recollection of 
a good many years ago fails me, at Castelletto they ring 
them better still. 

At Vogogna, while we were getting our breakfast, 

266 Alps and Sanctuaries 

we heard the bells strike up as follows, from a campanile 
on the side of the hill : — 

They did this because a baby had just died, but we 
were told it was nothing'to what they would have done 
if it had been a grown-up person. 

At Castelletto we were disappointed ; the bells did 
not ring that morning ; we hinted at the possibility of 
paying a small fee to the ringer and getting him to ring 
them, but were told that " la gente " would not at all 
approve of this, and so I was unable to take down the 
chimes at Castelletto as I had intended to do. I may 
say that I had a visit from some Italian friends a few years 
ago, and found them hardly less delighted with our Enghsh 
mode of ringing than I had been with theirs. It would 
be very nice if we could ring our bells sometimes in the 
English and sometimes in the Italian way. When I say 
the Italian way^ — I should say that the custom of ringing, 
as above described, is not a common one — I have only 
heard it at Vogogna and Castelletto, though doubtless 
it prevails elsewhere. 

We were told that the people take a good deal of 
pride in their bells, and that one village will be jealous 
of another, and consider itself more or less insulted if 
the bells of that other can be heard more plainly than 
its own can be heard back again. There are two villages 

Angera and Arona 267 

in the Brianza called Balzano and Cremella ; the dispute 
between these grew so hot that each of them changed 
their bells three times, so as to try and be heard the 
loudest. I believe an honourable compromise was in the 
end arrived at. 

In other respects Castelletto is a quiet, sleepy little 
place. The Ticino flows through it just after leaving 
the lake. It is very wide here, and when flooded must 
carry down an enormous quantity of water. Barges go 
down it at all times, but the river is difficult of navigation 
and requires skilful pilots. These pilots are well paid, 
and Tonio seemed to have a great respect for them. 
The views of Monte Rosa are superb. 

One of the great advantages of Arona, as of Mendrisio, 
is that it commands such a number of other places. There 
is rail to Milan, and ^ain to Novara, and each station 
on the way is a sub-centre ; there are also the steamers 
on the lake, and there is not a village at which they stop 
which will not repay examination, and which is not in 
its turn a sub-centre. In England I have found by 
experience that there is nothing for it but to examine 
every village and town within easy railway distance ; 
no books are of much use : one never knows that some- 
thing good is not going to be sprung upon one, and 
few indeed are the places where there is no old pubhc- 
house, or overhanging cottage, or farmhouse and barn, 
or bit of De Hooghe-like entry which, if one had two or 
three lives, one would not willingly leave unpainted. It 
is just the same in North Italy ; there is not a village 
which can be passed over with a light heart. 

Chapter XXIV 

WE were attracted to Locarno by the approaching 
fetes in honour of the fourth centenary of the 
apparition of the Virgin Mary to Fra Bartolomeo da 
Ivrea, who founded the sanctuary in consequence. 

The programme announced that the festivities would 
begin on Saturday, at 3.30 p.m., with the carrying of the 
sacred image {sacro simulacra) of the Virgin from the 
Madonna del Sasso to the collegiate church of S. Antonio. 
There would then be a benediction and celebration 
of the holy communion. At eight o'clock there were to 
be illuminations, fireworks, balloons, &c., at the sanctuary 
and the adjacent premises. 

On Sunday at half-past nine there was to be mass 
at the church of S. Antonio, with a homily by Monsignor 
Paolo Angelo Ballerini, Patriarch of Alexandria in 
partibus, and blessing of the crown sent by Pope Leo 
XIII for the occasion. S. Antonio is the church the roof 
of which fell in during service one Sunday in 1865, 
through the weight of the snow, killing sixty people. 
At half-past three a grand procession would convey the 
Holy Image to a pretty temple which had been erected 
in the market-place. The image was then to be crowned 
by the Patriarch, carried round the town in procession, 
and returned to the church of S. Antonio. At eight o'clock 




there were to be fireworks near the port ; a grand 
illumination of a triumphal arch, an illumination of 
the sanctuary and chapels with Bengal lights, and 
an artificial apparition of the Madonna {Apparizione 
artificiale della Beata Vcygine col Bambino) above the 
church upon the Sacro Monte. Next day the Holy Image 
was to be carried back from the church of S. Antonio 


to its normal resting-place at the sanctuary. We wanted 
to see all this, but it was the artificial apparition of the 
Madonna that most attracted us. 

Locarno is, as every one knows, a beautiful town. 
Both the Hotel Locarno and the Hotel della Corona are 
good, but the latter is, I believe, the cheaper. At the 
castello there is a fresco of the Madonna, ascribed, I 
should think, rightly, to Bernardino Luini, and at the 

270 Alps and Sanctuaries 

cemetery outside the town there are some old frescoes 
of the second half of the fifteenth century, in a rumous 
state, but interesting. If I remember rightly there are 
several dates on them, averaging i475-8o- They might 
easily have been done by the same man who did the 
frescoes at Mesocco, but I prefer these last. The great 
feature, however, of Locarno is the Sacro Monte which 
rises above it. From the wooden bridge which crosses 


the stream just before entering upon the sacred precincts, 
the church and chapels and road arrange themselves 
as on p. 269. 

On the way up, keeping to the steeper and abrupter 
route, one catches sight of the monks' garden— a little 
paradise with vines, beehives, onions, lettuces, cabbages, 
marigolds to colour the risotto with, and a little plot of 
great luxuriant tobacco plants. Amongst the foHage 
may be now and again seen the burly figure of a monk 



with a straw hat on. The best view of the sanctuary 
from above is the one which I give on p. 270. 

The church itself is not remarkable, but it contains 
the best collection of votive pictures that I know in any 
church, unless the one at Oropa be excepted ; there is 
also a modern Italian " Return from the Cross " by Ciseri, 


which is very much admired, but with which I have 
myself no sympathy whatever. It is an Academy picture. 
The cloister looking over the lake is very beautiful. 
In the little court down below — which also is of great 
beauty — there is a chapel containing a representation of 
the Last Supper in hfe-sized coloured statues as at Varallo, 
which has a good deal of feeling, and a fresco (?) behind 

272 Alps and Sanctuaries 

it which ought to be examined, but the chapel is so dark 
that this is easier said than done. There is also a fresco 
down below in the chapel where the founder of the 
sanctuary is buried which should not be passed over. 
It is dated 1522, and is Luinesque in character. When 
I was last there, however, it was hardly possible to see 
anything, for everything was being turned topsy-turvy by 
the arrangements which were being made for the approach- 
ing fetes. These were very gay and pretty ; they must 
have cost a great deal of money, and I was told that the 
municipality in its collective capacity was thought 
mean, because it had refused to contribute more than 
100 francs, or £4 sterling. It does seem rather a small 
sum certainly. 

On the afternoon of Friday the 13th of August the 
Patriarch Monsignor Ballerini was to arrive by the 
three o'clock boat, and there was a crowd to welcome 
him. The music of Locarno was on the quay playing 
a selection, not from " Madame Angot " itself, but from 
something very like it — light, gay, sparkling opera 
bouffe — to welcome him. I felt as I had done when I 
found the matchbox in the sanctuary bedroom at Graglia : 
not that I minded it myself, but as being a little unhappy 
lest the Bishop might not quite like it. 

I do not see how we could welcome a bishop — we 
will say to a confirmation — with a band of music at all. 
Fancy a brass band of some twenty or thirty ranged 
round the landing stage at Gravesend to welcome the 
Bishop of London, and fancy their playing we will say 
" The two Obadiahs," or that horrid song about the 
swing going a little bit higher ! The Bishop would be 
very much offended. He would not go a musical inch 
beyond the march in " Le Prophete," nor, willingly, 
beyond the march in " Athalie." Monsignor Ballerini, 

Locarno 273 

however, never turned a hair ; he bowed repeatedly to 
all round him, and drove off in a carriage and pair, 
apparently much pleased with his reception. We Protes- 
tants do not understand, nor take any very great pains 
to understand, the Church of Rome. If we did, we should 
find it to be in many respects as much in advance of us 
as it is behind us in others. 

One thing made an impression upon me which haunted 
me all the time. On every important space there were 
advertisements of the programme, the substance of which 
I have already given. But hardly, if at all less noticeable, 
were two others which rose up irrepressible upon every 
prominent space, searching all places with a subtle 
penetrative power against which precautions were 
powerless. These advertisements were not in Italian but 
in English, nevertheless they were neither of them 
English — but both, I beheve, American. The one was 
that of the Richmond Gem cigarette, with the large 
illustration representing a man in a hat smoking, so 
familiar to us here in London. The other was that of 
Wheeler & Wilson's sewing machines. 

As the Patriarch drove off in the carriage the man 
in the hat smoking the Richmond Gem cigarette leered 
at him, and the woman working Wheeler & Wilson's 
sewing machifie sewed at him. During the illumina- 
tions the unwonted hght threw its glare upon the effigies 
of saints and angels, but it illumined also the man in 
the black felt hat and the woman with the sewing machine ; 
even during the artificial apparition of the Virgin Mary 
herself upon the hill behind the town, the more they let 
off fireworks the more clearly the man in the hat came 
out upon the walls round the market-place, and the bland 
imperturbable woman working at her sewing machine. 
I thought to myself that when the man with the hat 

274 Alps and Sanctuaries 

appeared in the piazza the Madonna would ere long cease 
to appear on the hill. 

Later on, passing through the town alone, when the 
people had gone to rest, I saw many of them lying on 
the pavement under the arches fast asleep. A brilliant 
moon illuminated the market-place ; there was a pleasant 
sound of falling water from the fountain ; the lake was 
bathed in splendour, save where it took the reflection of 
the moui:itains — so peaceful and quiet was the night that 
there was hardly a rustle in the leaves of the aspens. But 
whether in moonlight or in shadow, the busy persistent 
vibrations that rise in Anglo-Saxon brains were radiating 
from every wall, and the man in the black felt hat and 
the bland lady with the sewing machine were there — 
lying in wait, as a cat over a mouse's hole, to insinuate 
themselves into the hearts of the people so soon as they 
should wake. 

Great numbers came to the festivities. There were 
special trains from Biasca and all intermediate stations, 
and special boats. And the ugly flat-nosed people came 
from the Val Verzasca, and the beautiful people came 
from the Val Onsernone and the Val Maggia, ahd I saw 
Anna, the curate's housekeeper, from Mesocco, and the 
old fresco painter who told me he should like to pay me 
a visit, and suggested five o'clock in the morning as 
the most appropriate and convenient time. The great 
procession contained seven or eight hundred people. 
From the balcony of the Hotel della Corona I counted as 
well as I could and obtained the following result : — 

Women ...... 

Men with white shirts and red capes . 
Men with white shirts and no capes . 
The music from Intra 
Men with white shirts and blue capes 

1 20 


Locarno 275 

Men with white shirts and no capes . . . 25 

Men with white shirts and green capes . . 12 

Men with white shirts and no capes . . 36 

The music of Locarno . . . . . 30 

Girls in blue, pink, white and yellow, red, white 50 

Choristers ....... 3 

Monks 6 

Priests . . 66 

Canons ........ 12 

His Excellency Paolo Angelo Ballerini, Patriarch - 
of Alexandria in Egypt, escorted by the fire- 
men, and his private cortege of about 20 . 25 

Government ushers . . . . . (?) 

The Grand Council, escorted by 22 soldiers and 6 

policemen ....... 28 

The clergy without orders .... 30 


In the evening, there, sure enough, the apparition of 
the Blessed Virgin was. The church of the Madonna 
was unilluminated and all in darkness, when on a sudden 
it sprang out into a blaze, and a great transparency of 
the Virgin and child was lit up from behind. Then the 
people said, " Oh bel ! " 

I was myself a little disappointed. It was not a good 
apparition, and I think the effect would have been better 
if it had been carried up by a small balloon into the sky. 
It might easily have been arranged so that the light behind 
the transparency should die out before the apparition 
must fall again, and also that the light inside the trans- 
parency should not be reflected upon the balloon that 
lifted it ; the whole, therefore, would appear to rise from 
its own inherent buoyancy. I am confident it would have 
been arranged in this way if the thing had been in the 
hands of the Crystal Palace people. 

There is a fine old basilicate church dedicated to S. 

276 Alps and Sanctuaries 

Vittore at the north end of Locarno. It is the mother 
church of these parts and dates from the eighth or ninth 
century. The frescoes inside the apse were once fine, but 
have been repainted and spoiled. The tower is much 
later, but is impressive. It was begun in 1524 and left 
incomplete in 1527, probably owing to the high price 
of provisions which is commemorated in the following 
words written on a stone at the top of the tower inside : — 

Furm. [fromento — com] cost lib. 6. 
Segale [barley] lib. 5. 

Milio [millet] lib. 4. 

I suppose these were something like famine prices ; at 
any rate, a workman wrote this upon the tower and the 
tower stopped. 

Chapter XXV 

WE left Locarno by the conveyance which leaves 
every day at four o'clock for Bignasco, a ride of 
about four hours. The Ponte Brolla, a couple of miles out 
of Locarno, is remarkable, and the road is throughout 
(as a matter of course) good. I sat next an old priest, 
an excellent kindly man, who talked freely with me, 
and scolded me roundly for being a Protestant more than 

He seemed much surprised when I discarded reason 
as the foundation of our belief. He had made up his 
mind that all Protestants based their convictions upon 
reason, and was not prepared to hear me go heartily with 
him in declaring the foundation of any durable system 
to lie in faith. When, however, it came to requiring me 
to have faith in what seemed good to him and his friends, 
rather than to me and mine, we did not agree so well. 
He then began to shake death at me ; I met him with 
a reflection that I have never seen in print, though it 
is so obvious that it must have occurred to each one of 
my readers. I said that every man is an immortal to 
himself : he only dies as far as others are concerned ; 
to himself he cannot, by any conceivable possibility, do 
so. For how can he know that he is dead until he is 
dead ? And when he is dead, how can he know that he 


278 Alps and Sanctuaries 

is dead ? If he does, it is an abuse of terms to say that 
he is dead. A man can know no more about the end 
of his Hfe than he did about the beginning. The most 
horrible and loathed death still resolves itself into being 
badly frightened, and not a little hurt towards the end of 
one's hfe, but it can never come to being unbearably 
hurt for long together. Besides, we are at all times, 
even during life, dead and dying to by far the greater 
part of our past selves. What we call dying is only 
dying to the balance, or residuum. This made the 
priest angry. He folded his arms and said, " Basta, 
basta," nor did he speak to me again. It is because I 
noticed the effect it produced upon my fellow-passenger 
that I introduce it here. 

Bignasco is at the confluence of the two main branches 
of the Maggia. The greater part of the river comes 
down from the glacier of Basodino, which cannot be seen 
from Bignasco ; I know nothing of this valley ,beyond 
having seen the glacier from the top of the pass between 
Fusio and Dalpe. The smaller half of the river comes 
down from Fusio, the valley of Sambucco, and the lake 
of Naret. The accommodation at Bignasco is quite 
enough for a bachelor ; the people are good, but the 
inn is homely. From Bignasco the road ascends rapidly 
to Peccia, a village which has suffered terribly from 
inundations, and from Peccia it ascends more rapidly 
still — Fusio being reached in about three hours from 
Bignasco. There is an excellent inn at Fusio kept by 
Signer Dazio, to whose energy the admirable mountain 
road from Peccia is mainly due. On the right just before 
he crosses the bridge, the traveller will note the fresco 
of the Crucifixion, which I have mentioned at page 

Fusio is over 4200 feet above the level of the sea. I 



do not know wherein its peculiar charm hes, but it 
is the best of all the villages of a kindred character that 
I know. Below is a sketch of it as it appears from the 

There is another good view from behind the village ; 
at sunset this second view becomes remarkably fine. 


' 4.' "■ 

'• : 'i ■."■ ' ■ •■ 


The houses are in deep cool shadow, but the moun- 
tains behind take the evening sun, and are sometimes 
of an incredible splendour. It is fine to watch the shadows 
creeping up them, and the colour that remains growing 
richer and richer until the whole is extinguished ; this 
view, however, I am unable to give. 

I hold Signer Dazio of Fusio so much as one of my 
most particular and valued friends, and I have such a 

2 8o Alps and Sanctuaries 

special affection for Fusio itself, that the reader must 
bear in mind that he is reading an account given by a 
partial witness. Nevertheless, all private preferences 


apart, I think he will find Fusio a hard place to beat. 
At the end of June and in July the flowers are at their 
best, and they are more varied and beautiful than any- 
where else I know. At the very end of July and the 

Fusio 281 

beginning of August the people cut their hay, and then 
for a while the glory of the place is gone, but by the end 
of August or the beginning of September the grass has 
grown long enough to re-cover the slopes with a velvety 
verdure, and though the flowers are shorn, yet so they 
are from other places also. 

There are many walks in the neighbourhood for those 
who do not mind mountain paths. The most beautiful 
of them all is to the valley of Sambucco, the upper end 
of which is not more than half-an-hour from Signor 
Dazio's hotel. For some time one keeps to the path 
through the wooded gorge, and with the river foaming 
far below ; in early morning while this path is in shade, 
or, again, after sunset, it is one of the most beautiful of 
its kind that I know. After a while a gate is reached, and 
an open upland valley is entered upon — evidently an old 
lake filled up, and neither very broad nor very, long, but 
grassed all over, and with the river winding through it 
like an English brook. This is the valley of Sambucco. 
There are two collections of stalle for the cattle, or monti 
— one at the nearer end and the other at the farther. 

The floor of the valley can hardly be less than 5000 
feet above the sea. I shall never forget the pleasure 
with which I first came upon it. I had long wanted 
an ideal upland valley ; as a general rule high valleys 
are too narrow, and have little or no level ground. If 
they have any at all there often is too much as with the 
one where Andermatt and Hospenthal are — which would 
in some respects do very well — and too much cultivated, 
and do not show their height. An upland valley should 
first of all be in an Italian-speaking country ; then it 
should have a smooth, grassy, perfectly level floor of 
say neither much more nor less than a hundred and fifty 
yards in breadth and half-a-mile in length. A small river 

282 Alps and Sanctuaries 

should go babbling through it with occasional smooth 
parts, " so as to take the reflections of the surrounding 
mountains. It should have three or four fine larches or 
pines scattered about it here and there, but not more. 
It should be completely land-locked, and there should 
be nothing in the way of human handiwork save a few 
chalets, or a small chapel and a bridge, but no tilled land 
whatever. Here even in summer the evening air will be 
crisp, and the dew will form as soon as the sun goes off ; 
but the mountains at one end of it will keep the last rays 
of the sun. It is then the valley is at its best, especially 
if the goats and cattle are coming together to be milked. 
The valley of Sambucco has all this and a great deal 
more, to say nothing of the fact that there are excellent 
trout in it. I have shown it to friends at different times, 
and they have all agreed with me that for a valley neither 
too high nor too low, nor too big nor too little, the valley 
of Sambucco is one of the best that any of us know of — 
I mean to look at and enjoy, for I suppose as regards 
painting it is hopeless. I think it can be well rendered by 
the following piece of music as by anything else* : — 


ad lib. 

: y A-w 

^^^ r P^ 

p h 












— t— 

rail. . . 
sema org. 

"F \—r 



Li^ ' 



* Handel's third set of organ Concertos, No. 3. 



a tempo, 
org. solo. 


^» -^-m- 

-»-P-»- a -*-• »-^-m V-*- -*- N 







One day Signer Dazio brought us in a chamois foot. 
He explained to us that chamois were now in season, but 
that even when they were not, they were sometimes to be 
had, inasmuch as they occasionally fell from the rocks 
and got killed. As we looked at it we could not help 
reflecting that, wonderful as the provisions of animal and 
vegetable organisms often are, the marvels of adaptation 
are sometimes almost exceeded by the feats which an 
animal will perform with a very simple and even clumsy 

284 Alps and Sanctuaries 

instrument if it knows how to use it. A chamois foot is 
a smooth and slippery thing, such as no respectable 
bootmaker would dream of offering to a mountaineer : 
there is not a nail in it, nor even an apology for a nail ; 
the surefootedness of its owner is an assumption only — 
a piece of faith or impudence which fulfils itself. If some 
other animal were to induce the chamois to believe that 
it should at the least have feet with suckers to them, like 
a fly, before venturing in such breakneck places, or if by 
any means it could get to know how bad a foot it really 
has, there would soon be no more chamois. The chamois 
continues to exist through its absolute refusal to hear 
reason upon the matter. But the whole question is one 
of extreme intricacy ; all we know is that some animals 
and plants, like some men, devote great pains to the 
perfection of the mechanism with which they wish to 
worTc, while others rather scorn appliances, and concen- 
trate their attention upon the skilful use of whatever they 
happen to have. I think, however, that in the clumsiness 
of the chamois foot must lie the explanation of the fact 
that sometimes when chamois are out of season, they do 
nevertheless actually tumble off the rocks and get killed ; 
being killed, of course it is only natural that they should 
sometimes be found, and if found, be eaten ; but they 
are not good for much. 

After a day or two's stay in this delightful place, 
we left at six o'clock one brilliant morning in September 
for Dalpe and Faido, accompanied by the excellent 
Signer Guglielmoni as guide. There are two main passes 
from Fusio into the Val Leventina — the one by the Sassello 
Grande to Nante and Airolo, and the other by the Alpe 
di Campolungo to Dalpe. Neither should be attempted 
by strangers without a guide, though neither of them 
presents the smallest difficulty. There is a third and 

Fusio 285 

longer pass by the Lago di Naret to Bedretto, but I 
have never been over this. The other two are both good ; 
on the whole, however, I think I prefer the second. 
Signor Guglielmoni led us over the freshest grassy slopes 
conceivable — slopes that four or five weeks earlier had 
been gay with tiger and Turk's-cap lilies, and the 
flaunting arnica, and every flower that likes mountain 
company. After a three hours' walk we reached the 
top of the pass, from Whence on the one hand one can 
see the Basodino glacier, and on the other the great 
Rheinwald glaciers above Olivone. Other small glaciers 
show in valleys near Biasca which I know nothing about, 
and which I imagine to be almost a terra incognita, except 
to the inhabitants of such villages as Malvaglia in the 
Val Blenio. 

When near the top of the pass we heard the whistle 
of a marmot. Guglielmoni told us he had a tame one 
once which was very fond of him. It slept all the winter, 
but turned round once a fortnight to avoid lying too 
long upon one side. When it woke up from its winter 
sleep it no longer recognised him, but bit him savagely 
right through the finger ; by and by its recollection re- 
turned to it, and it apologised. 

From the summit, which is about 7600 feet above the 
sea, the path descends over the roughest ground that 
is to be found on the whole route. Here there are good 
specimens of asbestos to be picked up abundantly, and 
the rocks are fuU of garnets ; after about six or seven 
hundred feet the Alpe di Campolungo is reached, and this 
again is an especially favourite place with me. It is an 
old lake filled up, surrounded by peaks and precipices 
where some snow rests all the year round, and traversed 
by a stream. Here, just as we had done lunching, we 
were joined by a family of knife-grinders, who were also 

2 86 Alps and Sanctuaries 

crossing from the Val Maggia to the Val Leventina. We 
had eaten all we had with us except our bread; this 
Guglielmoni gave to one of the boys, who seemed as much 
pleased with it as if it had been cake. Then after taking 
a look at the Lago di Tremorgio, a beautiful lake some 
hundreds of feet below, we went on to the Alpe di Cadoni- 
ghino where our guide left us. 

At this point pines begin, and soon the path enters 
them ; after a while we catch sight of Prato, and eventu- 
ally come down upon Dalpe. In another hour and a 
quarter Faido is reached. The descent to Faido from 
the summit of the pass is much greater than the ascent 
from Fusio, for Faido is not more than 2300 feet above 
the sea, whereas, as I have said, Fusio is over 4200 feet. 
The descent from the top of the pass to Faido is about 
5300 feet, while to Fusio it is only 3400. The reader, 
therefore, will see that he had better go from Fusio to 
Faido, and not vice versa, unless he is a good walker. 

Chapter XXVI 
Fusio Revisited 

THIS last year Jones and I sent for Guglielmoni to 
take us over the Sassello Grande from Airolo to 
Fusio. Soon after starting we were joined by a peasant 
woman and her daughter who were returning to their 
home at Mugno in the Val Maggia some twenty minutes' 
walk below Fusio. They had come the day before over 
the Sassello Pass through Fusio carrying two hundred 
eggs and several fowls to Airolo. They had had to climb 
a full four thousand feet ; the path is rugged in the 
extreme ; neither of them had any shoes or stockings ; 
the weather was very wet ; the clouds hung low ; the 
wind on the Colma blew so hard that, though the rain 
was coming down in torrents, it was impossible to 
hold up an umbrella, and they did not know the little 
road there is. Happily, before they got above the Valle 
di Sambucco they had fallen in with Guglielmoni, on 
his way to meet us ; otherwise one does not see how they 
could have got over. As it was, they did not break a 
single egg, but they were a good deal scared and asked 
us to let them go back in our company. We found them 
delightful people ; the girl was very pretty and the 
mother still comely, with a singularly pleasing expression. 
We found out what they had done with their eggs and 
fowls. They sold the eggs for nine centimes apiece, 


288 Alps and Sanctuaries 

whereas at Fusio they would have got but five. The 
fowls fetched three francs apiece as against two they 
would have got at Fusio. Altogether they had made the 
best part of twenty francs by their journey, over and 
above what they would have made if they had stayed at 
home, and thought they had done good business. 

The weather was perfect for the return journey. After 
passing Nante we noticed by the side of the path several 
round burnt patches some four feet in diameter which 
struck us as rather strange, so we asked Guglielmoni 
about them. He said there had been ants' nests there, 
and the people burnt them because the ants did so much 
damage. He showed us one that was in process of re- 
construction, the ants building upon the remains of their 
ruined home, and pointed out the deep channel which 
the ants had worn in the ground through their habit of 
entering and quitting their old-established nest by one 
main road. We had thought the channel was a rill 
artificially cut for irrigation, and it was not till Gugliel- 
moni showed us how impossible this was that we came to 
see he was right. He showed us a disused road that had 
led to a nest now destroyed, and on two or three other 
occasions showed us roads leading from one nest to 

He told us several more things about marmots which 
I may mention as opinions held by the Fusians, but 
upon which I should be sorry to base a theory. He said 
their fat was so subtle that it would go through glass 
and could not therefore be kept in a bottle. He 
said it would go through a man's hand. I said : 
" Let us try," but it appeared that it might take 
three or four hours in getting through, so we delayed 
the experiment for a more convenient season. I 
asked how the marmots held their own fat if it would 

Fusio Revisited 289 

go through skin. I was answered that at the end of 
summer, when the marmots are very fat, they no longer 
hold it and their fur is greasy. I could not contradict 
this from personal knowledge and was obliged to let it 
pass. He said marmots' fat was good for rheumatism 
and sprains, but that it must never be used for a broken 
bone, as the ends of the bone would not grow together 
again if the fat reached them. Badgers' fat, he said, 
was very good, but it was not so sovereign a remedy as 
inarmots'. There are badgers about Fusio, though not 
so many as lower down the valley in the chestnut country. 
We saw some badgers' fat later on at Tesserete ; it was 
kept in a tin which was certainly very greasy, but we 
did not think that the fat had gone through the tin. 

Then we met an old gentleman with a Rembrandt- 
Rabbi far-away look in his eyes. He wore a coarse but 
clean linen shirt, and was otherwise neat in his attire. 
He looked as if he had suffered much and had been 
chastened rather than soyred by it. We talked a little 
and the conversation turned upon deceit. I said that 
deceit was a necessary alloy for truth which, without this 
hardening addition, like gold without an alloy of copper, 
would be unworkable. 

"Chi non sa ingannare," I said in conclusion, " non 
sa parlare il vero." 

The old gentleman seemed to like this, and so we 
parted. Guglielmoni told us he was a painter and liable 
to temporary fits of insanity. During these fits he would 
go up by himself into the mountains, like some old 
prophet going out into the wilderness, and stay there 
till the fit was over, living no one knew where or how. 

Cheese is the principal product of these valleys. I 
asked Guglielmoni whether there was any sign of the 
upper pastures becoming impoverished by the annual 

290 Alps and Sanctuaries 

removal of so much cheese. He said the soil about 
Fusio did not yield as much by a third as it had yielded 
when he was a boy, but I hardly think it likely that there 
is much difference. He did not see why taking away so 
many hundredweight, or rather tons, of cheese yearly 
should impoverish the land, for, he said, the cows manured 
it. He did not see that the cheeses should be taken into 
account. At one time he said that two hundred years 
hence the Alpe di Campo la Turba would not be worth 
feeding ; at another that the cows left what they ate 
behind them. Our own impression was that, what with 
insect and bird life and the fertilising power of snow 
and the frequent addition of new soil by avalanches, 
there was probably no harm done, and that the grass 
was there or thereabouts much what it always had been 
since people had first begun to feed it. I have myself 
known these alpi off and on ever since 1843, and can 
perceive no difference, except that the glaciers, especially 
at Grindelwald, have receded very considerably, and even 
this may be only fancy. 

I asked Guglielmoni whether the Alpigiani — the people 
who spend the summer in the alpi — ever get pulmonary 
complaints. " Oh si," was his answer, and he nodded 
as though it were common, which I can well believe ; 
but it is more difficult to understand how the few robust 
Alfigiani escape. The majority seemed to us to be 
prematurely worn and to live in a state almost of squalor. 
What would a doctor say to the damp floor covered with 
mildew growing on spilt milk and fragments of half- 
made cheese ? What about men sleeping night after 
night in a room built in the middle of a dung-heap, 
with never a ray of sunshine save a little near the door 
and an occasional beam through crannies in the walls ? 
What nidus can be conceived more favourable for the 

Fusio Revisited 291 

development of organic germs ? How can any one 
escape who spends a summer in one of these huts ? I 
should say the worst and most insanitary cellar into which 
human beings are huddled in London is not more un- 
wholesome than these alpi in the middle of the finest air 
in Europe. 

Guglielmoni had some edelweiss in his hat, and we 
asked him the Italian name for it. He replied that it 
had no other name. The passion for this flower has 
evidently spread from the north. The Italians are great 
at suppressing unnecessary details. I was going up once 
in the posta from Varallo to Fobello and had an American- 
ised Italian cook for my only fellow-traveller. I asked 
him the name of a bird I happened to see, and he said : 

" Oh, he not got no name. There is two birds got 
names. There is the gazza ; he spik very nice. I have 
one ; he spik beautiful. And there is the merlo ; he sing 
very pretty. The other, they not got no names ; they 
not want no names ; every one call them what he choose." 

And so it is with the flowers. There is the rose and 
perhaps half-a-dozen more plants, but as for the others 
" they not got no names ; they not want no names." 

My feUow-traveller, speaking of the villagers in the 
villages we passed through, said : 

" They all right as long as they stop here, but when 
they go away and travel, then they not never happy no 

When we reached the floor of the Valle di Sambucco, 
the people were milking the few cattle that remained there, 
and the milk purred into the pails as with a deep hum of 
satisfaction. The sun was setting red upon the Piz 
Campo Tencia ; the water was as clear as the air, and 
the air in the deep shadow of the bottom of the valley 
had something of the deep blue as well as of the trans- 

292 Alps clllU OcllH-LUclllCS 

parency of the water. We passed the gorge in twiUght 
and presently were again at Fusio. We ordered some 
wine for the women who had accompanied us, and as 
they sat waiting for it with their hands folded before them 
they looked so good and holy and quiet that one would 
have thought they were returning from a pilgrimage. 

I have nothing to retract from what I have said in 
praise of Fusio. It is the most old-world subalpine 
village that I know. It was probably burnt down some 
time in the Middle Ages and perhaps the scare thus caused 
led to its being rebuilt not in wood but in stone. The 
houses are much biiilt into one another as at S. Remo ; 
the roofs are all of them made of large stones ; there are 
a good many wooden balconies, but it is probably because 
it has been chiefly built of stone that we now see it much 
as it must have looked two or even three centuries ago. 
If any one wants to know what kind of village the people 
of three hundred years ago beheld, at Fusio he will find 
an almost untouched specimen of what he wants. For 
picturesqueness I know no subalpine village so good. 
Sit down wherever one will there is a subject ready 
made. The back of the village is perhaps more mediaeval 
in appearance than the front. Its quaint picturesqueness, 
the beauty of its flowers, the brilliancy of its meadows, 
and the genial presence of Signor Dazio prevent me from 
allowing any great length of time to pass without a visit 
to Fusio. 

I said to Jones once : " It is worth while going to 
Fusio if only to please Signor Dazio." 

" Yes," said Jones, " and he is so very easily pleased." 

It is just this that makes it so pleasant to try to please 
him. I beheve all the people in Fusio are good. I asked 
Gughelmoni once what happened when any one did 
something wrong. He seemed bewildered. The case 

Fusio Revisited 293 

had not arisen within his recollection. I pressed him 
and said that it might arise even at Fusio, and what 
would happen then ? Had they a prison or a lock-up 
of any kind ? He said they had none, and he supposed 
the offender would have to be taken down the valley to 
Cevio, about fourteen or fifteen miles off — but the case 
had not arisen. 

At Fusio, in spite of all its flowers, there are no bees ; 
the summer is too short and they would have to be fed 
too long. Nevertheless, we got the best honey at Fusio 
that we got anywhere. Signor Dazio said it was from his 
own hives at Locarno and had not been " elongated " 
in any way. What was bought at the shops, he said, 
was almost invariably " elongated " with flour, sugar 
and a variety of other things. 

The hotel has been much improved during these last 
two years ; the kitchen has been taken downstairs and 
the old one thrown into the dining-room, which has been 
newly decorated after a happily-conceived and tastefully- 
executed scheme. The visitor is to suppose himself 
seated in a large open belvedere upon the roof of the 
house, over which a light iron trellis-work has been 
thrown and gracefully festooned with a profusion of 
brilliant flowers. In the sky, which is of unclouded blue, 
birds of lustrous plumage are engaged in carrying a 
wreath, presumably for the brow of one of the visitors. 
The lower part of the heavens is studded with commodious 
hat pegs, two or three doors, the windows, and a sub- 
stantial fire-place. The gorgeous parrot of the establish- 
ment has chosen the point where the sky unites with the 
right-hand corner of the chimney-piece as the most 
convenient spot to perch on, and his presence there gives 
life and nature to the scene. We were struck with the 
wise reticence of the painter in not putting another 

294 Alps and Sanctuaries 

parrot at the opposite corner ; there is a verisimilitude 
about one bird which would have been lost with two, 
for few houses have more than one parrot. The effect of 
the whole is singularly gay and pleasing. For an English 
household I admit that there is nothing to compare with 
Mr. Morris's wall-papers — except, of course, his poetry^ — 
but there is an over-the-garden-walliness, if the ex- 
pression may be pardoned, about these Italian decora- 
tions, a frank meretriciousness, both of design and colour, 
which will be found infinitely refreshing and may be 
looked for in vain in the works of our English masters 
of decoration. 

The day after our arrival was the feast of the Assump- 
tion of the Madonna, and the next day was the feast of 
S. Rocco, the patron saint of Fusio, so the bells were 
ringing continually. There are only three bells, but they 
are good ones ; they were brought up from Peccia some 
forty years ago, long before Signor Dazio had the present 
road made ; he was then a boy and assisted at the very 
arduous task of bringing them up. Like bells generally 
in North Italy they hang half-way out of the windows 
of the campanile, instead of being wholly within the 
belfry as our English bells are. This is why an Italian 
campanile is such a much more slender object than an 
English belfry ; it has less to cover. When the bells are 
rung by being raised and swung in and out of the window, 
there is one ringer to each bell, and the following is all 
that is attempted : 

This, however, is varied with another and very different 
effect to which I have alluded in Chapter XXIII, but of 

Fusio Revisited 295 

which I can now speak at greater length inasmuch 
as we went up among the bells and saw how it was 

The ringer has a light cord for each bell ; he fastens 
one end of the cord by an iron hook to a hole in the 
clapper and the other to a beam of the belfry. The cords 
are just long enough to hold the clapper an inch or so off 
the side of the bell, the weight of the clapper keeping the 
cord tight. The ringer has thus three tight cords before 
him, on which he plays by hitting the middle of which- 
ever one he wants with his hand ; this depresses it and 
brings the clapper suddenly against the bell. He sits 
so that he can easily reach all the strings, and sets to 
work playing on the cords as though on a clumsy three- 
stringed harp. He plays out of his head without any 
music, and it is wonderful what variety he makes this 
rude instrument produce and how responsive it is to 
moods requiring different shades of expression. Of course, 
when the player's resources are enlarged by the addition 
of two more bells, as at Castelletto and Vogogna, he can 
produce an infinitely more varied effect. 

The notes, according to the pitch of Signer Dazio's 
piano, were G, A, and B, and when we watched the ringer 
we saw that he frequently played the B with the G ; some- 
times he struck the B with the A, no doubt intending it 
as an appoggiatura, and, at a distance, this was the effect 
produced. But when he struck the two notes together 
and made the B louder than the A it had the effect of 
varying the tune. He never played his tunes in precisely 
the same way twice running, and this makes it difficult 
to say with certainty what they were, but, omitting 
variations, the two favourite tunes went like this ; 

296 Alps and Sanctuaries 



i I I 


I I I - 



I T J I 


:M^^Jt^±M^=r^:i rrmz-iz, 

->^~F^— '= 





H — ! — • 1- 




J — I 1 1 — J — I — — 

j l » I » g-^- 





H 1 _ I H 

P»l>.»-^ N, 



-m — I — — 1--1 
m—9 — m — " 


Fusio Revisited 297 

This last he treated almost like a patter song, making 
it go as fast as ever he could. Give the Italian three 
bells, a belfry, and some bits of string and he will play 
with them and with you by the hour together with 
infinite variety. Give the German five bells and he will 
know a single figure, which he will probably have got 
an Italian to make for him, and will repeat it till you 
have to close the windows to keep the sound out, and the 
bottom bell wiU make a noise like the smell of a crushed 
cockroach. This is what happened to us in the valley of 
Gressoney at Issime, where German influences and the 
German language prevail. 

It was at Issime, by the by, that we saw the most 
beautiful woman that either of us ever saw. She was 
gathering French beans in the little garden in front of 
the hotel and had her apron full of leeks and celery. 
No words can give an idea of the dignity and grace with 
which she moved, and as for her head, it was what Leonardo 
da Vinci, Gaudenzio Ferrari, and Bernardino Luini all 
tried to get without ever getting it. As long as she was 
in sight it was impossible to look at anything else, and at 
the same time there was a something about her which 
forbade staring. 

S. Rocco is the saint who is always pointing to the 
dreadful wound in his poor leg ; accordingly he is in- 
voked by people who are out of health and thanked by 
those who have recovered. Near the first stalle in one of 
the neighbouring valleys there is a chapel where we saw 
three women praying. It had been prettily decorated 
with edelweiss, mountain-elder berries, thistle flowers, and 
everything gay that could be got. There was nothing 
of interest inside it, except a votive picture of a little 
man in a tailed coat who had got a bad leg like S. Rocco 
and was expostulating about it to the Virgin Mary. I 

298 Alps and Sanctuaries 

have seldom seen any even tolerably serious frescoes in 
any of these small wayside oratories ; they are usually 
done by some local man who has cultivated the Madonna 
touch, as it may be called, much as some English amateurs 
cultivate the tree touch, and with about as happy a 
result. The three women had crossed by the Sassello 
Grande from Nante, starting with earliest daybreak. 
It seems that one of them had for a time been deprived 
of her reason, but her sister had prayed at this chapel that 
it might be restored and her prayer had been granted ; 
so the two sisters and another woman come over every 
year as near the feast of S. Rocco as they can, and repeat 
their thanks at this spot. 

The feast of S. Rocco is kept at Fusio with considerable 
solemnity. Jones happened to be outside the church and 
kissed a relic of the saint which was handed round after 
service. I was sorry not to have been there at the 
moment, but I joined in the procession and helped to 
carry S. Rocco out of the church and down the valley 
to Peccia. There a table covered with a handsome 
cloth had been placed in the middle of the road, and on 
this the bearers rested the silvered statue. The officiating 
priest approached it, said some appropriate words before 
it, I believe in Latin, at any rate I could not catch them, 
and then we all turned home again. When the procession 
doubled round we could see the faces of the people as 
they met us in pairs. First came the women, one of them 
bearing a crucifix turned so that the people following 
might see the figure on the cross. Then came the men 
in white shirts, some carrying candles, among whom we 
saw Guglielmoni, and some bearing the image of the saint. 
Then came the men of the place in their ordinary dress, 
and we followed last of all. The older women wore the 
Fusio costume, which is now fast disappearing ; many 

Fusio Revisited 299 

of them wore white Hnen drapery over their heads, but 
we did not understand why some did and some did not. 
Immediately before the statue of S. Rocco came two nuns 
from Italy who were seeking alms for some purpose in 
connection with the Church. 

We thought the people did not as a general rule look 
in robust health ; some few, both men and women, seemed 
to have little or nothing the matter with them, but most 
of them looked as though they were suffering from the 
unwholesome conditions under which they live, for the 
conditions in the villages are not much healthier than in 
the alfi. The houses in such a village as Fusio are few 
of them even tolerably wholesome. Signor Dazio's houses 
are all that can be wished for in this respect, but in 
too many of the others the rooms are low, without 
sufficient sunlight, and too many of them are far from 

We see a place hke Fusio in summer, but what must 
it be after, say, the middle of October ? How chill and 
damp, with reeking clouds that search into every corner. 
What, again, must it be a little later, when snow has 
fallen that lies till the middle of May ? The men go 
about all day in great boots, working in the snow at 
whatever they can find to do ; they come in at night 
tired and with their legs and feet half frozen. The 
main room of the house may have a stufa in it, but how 
about the bedrooms ? With single windows and the 
thermometer outside down to zero, if the room is warm 
enough to thaw and keep things damp it is as much as 
can be expected. Fancy an elderly man after a day's 
work in snow chmbing up, hke David, step by step to a 
bed in such a room as this. How chill it must strike him 
as he goes into it, and how cold must be the bed itself 
till he has been in it an hour or two. We asked Guglielmoni 

300 Alps and Sanctuaries 

how he warmed his house in winter and what he did about 
his bedroom. He said he put his wife and children into 
the warm room and slept himself in one that on inquiry 
proved to have only single windows and no stove. It 
then turned out that he had been at death's door this 
last spring and the one before, and that the doctors at 
Locarno said he had serious chest mischief. The wonder 
is that he is alive at all. I advised him to get a half- 
crown petroleum burner and, if he felt he had caught 
cold, to keep it in his room burning all night. He asked 
how much it would cost and, when told from twenty to 
twenty-five centimes a night, said this was prohibitive, 
and I have no doubt to him with his wife and family it 

One cause of the mischief doubtless lies in the fact that 
the high-altitude houses have descended with insufficient 
modification from ancestors adapted to a warmer climate. 
Their forefathers were built for the plains. These houses 
should have been begotten of Russian or Canadian dwell- 
ings, not of Piedmontese or Lombard. At any rate, if a 
reform is to be initiated it should begin by a study of the 
Canadian or Russian house. 

But it is not only the hard, long cold winters, with 
rough living of every kind, that weigh the people down ; 
the mono'tony of the snow, seven months upon the ground, 
is enough to bow even the strongest spirit. It is not as 
if one could get the " Times " every morning at break- 
fast and theatres, concerts, exhibitions of pictures, 
social gatherings of every kind. Day after day not a 
blade of grass can be seen, not a little bit of green any- 
where, save the mockery of the pine-trees. I once spent 
a remarkably severe winter at Montreal and saw the 
thermorneter for a month at 22° below zero in the main 
street of the city. True, it was warm enough indoors, 

Fusio Revisited 301 

and grass does not usually grow in houses, so that one 
ought not to have missed it ; nevertheless one did miss 
it, as one misses a dead friend whom one may have been 
seeing but seldom. There is a depressing effect about 
long cold and snow which one feels whether one is cold or 
not. I suspect it is the monotony of the snow-surface 
that is so fatiguing. I used to trudge up to the far end of 
Montreal Mountain every day because there was a space 
of a few yards there on which the snow positively would 
not lie by reason of the wind. Here I could see a few roots 
of brown dried grass and moss with a tinge of yellow in it, 
having looked at which for a little while I would return 
comparatively contented. If the monotony of surface 
was found so depressing even in a city like Montreal, 
where so many interests and amusements were open, 
what must it be in a place like Fusio, where there are 
none ? 

The two great foes of life are the two extremes of 
change. Too much, that is to say too sudden change 
and too httle change are alike fatal. That is why there 
is so little organic life a few feet below the surface of the 
earth. It gets too slow altogether and things won't 
stand it. Cut away for months together the incessant 
changes involved in the changed vibrations consequent 
upon looking at a surface whose colour is varied, and a 
monotony is induced which should be relieved by the 
entry of as much other change as possible to supply the 
place of what is lost. 

What a vineyard for the Church is there not in these 
subalpine valleys, if she would only work in it ! The 
beauty and sweetness of the children show what the 
people are by nature and prove that the raw material 
is splendid. Their flowers are not gayer and loveher 
than their children ; but they do not get a fair chance. 

302 Alps ana banctuaries 

If the Church would only use her means and leisure to 
teach people how to make themselves as healthy and 
happy in this life as their case admits ! If she would do 
this with a single eye to facts and to the happiness of 
the people, cutting caste, dogma, prescription, and self- 
aggrandisement direct or indirect, what a hold would she 
not soon have upon a grateful people. Nay, if the priests 
would only set the example of washing, of keeping their 
houses clean and their bedrooms warm and light and 
dry, and of being at some pains with their cookery, 
their example would be enough without their preaching. 
I grant honourable exceptions, but the upland clergy 
are as a rule little above their flocks in regard to clean- 
liness of house and person ; instead of facing the many 
problems that surround them, they rather, I am afraid, 
have every desire to avoid them. They do not want 
their people to learn continually better and better in 
health and wealth how to live ; they want things to go 
on indefinitely as hitherto, only they hold that the 
people should be even more docile and obedient than 
they are. I may be wrong, but this is certainly the im- 
pression that remains with me. 

The priest himself must have a hard time of it in winter. 
We see the church steps basking in the morning sun of 
August. It is an easy matter then to dawdle into church 
and sit quiet for a while amid a droning old-world smell 
of cheese, ancestor, dry-rot, Alpigiano, and stale incense, 
and to read the plaintive epitaphing . about the 
dear, good people " whose souls we pray thee visit 
with the everlasting peace that waits on saints and 

As the clouds come and go the gray-green cobweb- 
chastened light ebbs and flows over the ceiling. If a 
hen has laid an egg outside and has begun to cackle, 

Fusio Revisited 303 

it is an event of magnitude. A peasant hammering his 
scythe, the clack of a wooden shoe upon the pavement, 
the dripping of the fountain, all these things, with such 
concert as they keep, invite the dewy-feathered sleep 
till the old woman comes and rings the bell for mezzo 

This is the sunny side of subalpine church-going, 
but how is it when these steps are hidden under a metre 
of frozen snow ? How about five o'clock on a Christmas 
morning, when the priest can hardly get down the steps 
leading from his house into the church from the fury of 
the wind and the driving of the fine midge-like snow ? 
Even when the horrors of the middle passage have been 
overcome and the church has been reached, surely it is 
a nice, cosy place for an infirm old gentleman or lady with 
bronchitic tendencies ! How is it conceivable that any 
one should keep even decently well who has to go to 
church in a high subalpine village at five, six, seven, eight, 
or in fact at any hour before about noon upon a winter 
morning ? And yet they go, and some of them reach good 
old ages. Still one would think that, if a little pains were 
taken, the thing might be managed so that more of them 
could reach better old ages. As for the priest, he will 
carry the last sacraments of the Church any distance, 
in any weather, at any hour of the night, in summer or 
winter, but he must have an awful time of it every now 
and then. So, for the matter of that, has an English 
country parson or doctor. Still, the Alpine roads are 
rougher and the snow deeper, and the pay, poor as it 
often is in England, is here still poorer. 

After a few days at Fusio, Guglielmoni took us over 
to Faido in the Val Leventina by the pass that we had 
not yet crossed — the one that goes by the Lago di Naret 
and Bedretto. From Faido we returned home. We 

304 Alps and Sanctuaries 

looked at nothing between the top of the St. Gothard Pass 
and Boulogne, nor did we again begin to take any interest 
in life till we saw the science-ridden, art-ridden, culture- 
ridden, afternoon-tea-ridden cliffs of old England rise 
upon the horizon. 

Appendix A 
Wednesbury Cocking 

(See p. SS) 

I KNOW nothing of the date of this remarkable ballad, 
or the source from which it comes. I have heard 
one who should know say, that when he was a boy at 
Shrewsbury school it was done into Greek hexameters, 
the lines (with a various reading in them) : 

" The colliers and nailers left work, 
And all to old Scroggins' went jogging ; " 

being translated : 

"Epyov x'^^'^oTVTTOL Kai TeKTOve? avSpeg eXenrov 
^Kpwyiviov fxeyaXov ^rjTovvres evKTifxevov 6w. 

I have been at some pains to find out more about 
this translation, but have failed to do so. The ballad 
itself is as foUows : 

At Wednesbury there was a cocking, 

A match between Newton and Scroggins ; 
The colliers and nailers left work. 

And all to old Spittle's went jogging. 
To see this noble sport. 

Many noblemen resorted ; 
And though they'd but little money. 

Yet that little they freely sported. 

u 305 

3o6 Alps and Sanctuaries 

There was Jeffery and Colborn from Hampton, 

And Dusty from Bilston was there ; 
Flummery he came from Darlaston, 

And he was as rude as a bear. 
There was old Will from Walsall, 

And Smacker from Westbromwich come ; 
Blind Robin he came from Rowley, 

And staggering he went home. 

Ralph Moody came hobbling along, 

As though he some cripple was mocking. 
To join in the blackguard throng, 

That met at Wednesbury cocking. 
He borrowed a trifle of Doll, 

To back old Taverner'5 grey ; 
He laid fourpence-halfpenny to fourpence. 

He lost and went broken away. 

But soon he returned to the pit. 

For he'd borrowed a trifle more money, 
And ventured another large bet. 

Along with blobbermouth Coney. 
When Coney demanded his money. 

As is usual on all such occasions. 
He cried, thee, if thee don't hold thy rattle, 

I'll pay thee as Paul paid the Ephasians. 

The morning's sport being over. 

Old Spittle a dinner proclaimed. 
Each man he should dine for a groat, 

If he grumbled he ought to be , 

For there was plenty of beef. 

But Spittle he swore by his troth, 
That never a man should dine 

Till he ate his noggin of broth. 

Appendix A 307 

The beef it was old and tough, 

Off a bull that was baited to death, 
Barney Hyde got a lump in his throat, 

That had like to have stopped his breath, 
The company all fell into confusion. 

At seeing poor Barney Hyde choke ; 
So they took him into the kitchen. 

And held him over the smoke. 

They held him so close to the fire, 

He frizzled just like a beef-steak. 
They then threw him down on the floor. 

Which had like to have broken his neck. 
One gave him a kick on the stomach, 

Another a kick on the brow. 
His wife said. Throw him into the stable. 

And he'll be better just now. 

Then they all returned to the pit. 

And the fighting went forward again ; 
Six battles were fought on each side. 

And the next was to decide the main. 
For they were two famous cocks 

As ever this country bred, 
Scroggins's a dark-winged black. 

And Newton's a shift-winged red. 

The conflict was hard on both sides. 

Till Brassy's black-winged was choked ; 
The colliers were tarnationly vexed. 

And the nailers were sorely provoked. 
Peter Stevens he swore a great oath. 

That Scroggins had played his cock foul ; 
Scroggins gave him a kick on the head. 

And cried, Yea, ■ — — thy soul. 

3o8 Alps and Sanctuaries 

The company then fell in discord, 

A bold, bold fight did ensue ; 
, , and bite was the word. 

Till the Walsall men all were subdued. 
Ralph Moody bit off a man's nose. 

And wished that he could have him slain. 
So they trampled both cocks to death, 

And they made a draw of the main. 

The cock-pit was near to the church, 

An ornament unto the town ; 
On one side an old coal pit. 

The other well gorsed around. 
Peter Hadley peeped through the gorse. 

In order to see them fight ; 
Spittle jobbed out his eye with a fork. 

And said, thee, it served thee right. 

Some people may think this strange. 

Who Wednesbury never knew ; 
But those who have ever been there. 

Will not have the least doubt it's true ; 
For they are as savage by nature. 

And guilty of deeds the most shocking ; 
Jack Baker whacked his own father. 

And thus ended Wednesbury cocking. 

Appendix B 

Reforms Instituted at S. Michele in 
the year 1478 

(See p. 105) 

THE palmiest days of the sanctuary were during the 
time that Rodolfo di Montebello or Mombello was 
abbot — that is to say, roughly, between the years 1325-60. 
" His rectorate," says Claretta, " was the golden age of 
the Abbey of La Chiusa, which reaped the glory ac- 
quired by its head in the difficult negotiations entrusted 
to him by his princes. But after his death, either lot or 
intrigue caused the election to fall upon those who 
prepared the ruin of one of the most ancient and illustrious 
monasteries in Piedmont."* 

By the last quarter of the fifteenth century things 
got so bad that a commission of inquiry was held under 
one Giovanni di Varax in the year 1478. The following 
extracts from the ordinances then made may not be 
unwelcome to the reader. The document from which 
they are taken is to be found, pp. 322-336 of Claretta's 
work. The text is evidently in many places corrupt or 
misprinted, and there are several words which I have 
looked for in vain in all the dictionaries — Latin, Italian, 
and French — in the reading-room of the British Museum 

* " Storia diplomatica dell' antica abbazia di S. Michele della 
Chiusa," by Gaudenzio Claretta. Turin, CivelU & Co. 1870. P. 116, 


3IO Alps and Sanctuaries 

which seemed in the least likely to contain them. I 
should say that for this translation, I have availed myself, 
in part, of the assistance of a well-known mediaeval 
scholar, the Rev. Ponsonby A. Lyons, but he is in no way 
responsible for the translation as a whole. 

After a preamble, stating the names of the com- 
missioners, with the objects of the commission and the 
circumstances under which it had been called together, 
the following orders were unanimously agreed upon, to 
wit : — 

" Firstly, That repairs urgently required to prevent 
the building from falling into a ruinous state (as shown 
by the ocular testimony of the commissioners, assisted 
by competent advisers whom they instructed to survey 
the fabric), be paid for by a true tithe, to be rendered 
by all priors, provosts, and agents directly subject to 
the monastery. This tithe is to be placed in the hands 
of two merchants to be chosen by the bishop commen- 
datory, and a sum is to be taken from it for the restora- 
tion of the fountain which played formerly in the mon- 
astery. The proctors who collect the tithes are to be 
instructed by the abbot and commendatory not to press 
harshly upon the contributories by way of expense and 
labour ; and the money when collected is, as already 
said, to be placed in the hands of two suitable merchants, 
clients of the said monastery, who shall hold it on trust 
to pay it for the above-named purposes, as the reverends 
the commendatory and chamberlain and treasurer of 
the said monastery shall direct. In the absence of one 
of these three the order of the other two shall be sufficient. 

" Item, it is ordered that the mandes* or customary 

* " Item, ordinaverunt quod fiant mandata seu ellemosinae con- 
sueta; qua3 sint valloris quatuor prebendarum religiosorum omni die ut 
inoris est." (Claretta, Storia diplomatica, p. 325.) The 

Appendix B 311 

alms, be made daily to the value of what would suffice 
for the support of four monks. 

" Item, that the offices in the gift of the monastery 
be conferred by the said reverend the lord commen- 
datory, and that those which have been hitherto at the 
personal disposition of the abbot be reserved for the 
pleasure of the Apostolic See. Item, that no one do 
beg a benefice without reasonable cause and consonancy 
of justice. Item, that those who have had books, privi- 
leges, or other documents belonging to the monastery 
do restore them to the treasury within three months 
from the publication of these presents, under pain of 
excommunication. Item, that no one henceforth take 
privileges or other documents from the monastery without 
a deposit of caution money, or taking oath to return the 
same within three months, under like pain of excom- 
munication. Item, that no laymen do enter the treasury 
of the monastery without the consent of the prior of 
cloister,* nor without the presence of those who hold 
the keys of the treasury, or of three monks, and that 
those who hold the keys do not deliver them to laymen. 
Item, it is ordered that the places subject to the said 
monastery be visited every five years by persons in holy 
orders, and by seculars ; and that, in like manner, every 
five years a general chapter be held, but this period may be 
extended or shortened for reasonable cause; and the 

generally refers to " the washing of one another's feet," according to 
the mandate of Christ during the last supper. In the Benedictine 
order, however, with which we are now concerned, alms, in lieu of the 
actual washing of feet, are alone intended by the word. 

* The prior-claustralis, £is distinguished from the prior-major, was 
the working head of a monastery, and was supposed never, or hardly 
ever, to leave the precincts. He was the vicar-major of the prior- 
major. The prior-major was vice-abbot when the abbot was absent, 
but he could not exercise the full functions of an abbot. The abbot, 
prior-major, and prior-claustraUs may be compared loosely to the 
master, vice-master, and senior tutor of a large college. 

312 Alps and Sanctuaries 

proctors-general are to be bound in each chapter to bring 
their procurations, and at some chapter each monk is to 
bring the account of the fines and all other rights appertain- 
ing to his benefice, drawn up by a notary in public form, 
and uiidersigned by him, that they may be kept in the 
treasury, and this under pain of suspension. Item, that 
henceforth neither the office of prior nor any other benefice 
be conferred upon laymen. The lord abbot is in future to 
be charged with the expense of all new buildings that are 
erected within the precincts of the monastery. He is 
also to give four pittances or suppers to the convent during 
infirmary time, and six pints of wine according to the 
custom.* Furthermore, he is to keep beds in the monas- 
tery for the use of guests, and other monks shall return 
these beds to the chamberlain on the departure of the 
guests, and it shall be the chamberlain's business to attend 
to this matter. Item, delinquent monks are to be punished 
within the monastery and not without it. Item, the 
monks shall not presume to give an order for more than 
two days' board at the expense of the monastery, in the 
inns at S. Ambrogio, during each week, and they shall 
not give orders for fifteen days unless they have relations 
on a journey staying with them, or nobles, or persons 

* " Item, quod dominus abbas teneatur dare quatuor pitancias seu 
cenas conventui tempore infirmarise, et quatuor sextaria vini ut con- 
suetum est " (Claretta, Storia diplomatica, p. 326). The " infirmariae 
generales " were stated times during which the monks were to let 
blood — " Stata nimirum tempora quibus sanguis monachis minuebatur, 
seu vena secabatur." (Ducange.) There were five " minutiones 
generales " in each year — namely, in September, Advent, before Lent, 
after Easter, and after Pentecost. The letting of blood was to last 
three days ; after the third day the patients were to return to matins 
again, and on the fourth they were to receive absolution. Bleeding 
was strictly forbidden at any other than these stated times, unless for 
grave illness. During the time of blood-letting the monks stayed in 
the infirmary, and were provided with supper by the abbot. During 
the actual operation the brethren sat all together after orderly fashion 
in a single room, amid silence and singing of psalms. 

Appendix B 313 

above suspicion, and the same be understood as applying 
to officials and cloistered persons.* 

" Item, within twelve months from date the monks 
are to be at the expense of building an almshouse in 
S. Ambrogio, where one or two of the oldest and most 
respected among them are to reside, and have their 
portions there, and receive those who are in rehgion. 
Item, no monk is to wear his hair longer than two fingers 
broad, t Item, no hounds are to be kept in the monastery 
for hunting, nor any dogs save watch-dogs. Persons in 
religion who come to the monastery are to be enter- 
tained there for two days, during which time the cellarer 
is to give them btead and wine, and the pittancerj 

" Item, women of bad character, and indeed all women, 
are forbidden the monk's apartments without the prior's 
license, except in times of indulgence, or such as are 
noble or above suspicion. Not even are the women 

* " Item, qnpd religiosi non audeant in Sancto Ambrosio videlicet 
in hospiciis concedere ultra duos pastes videlicet officiariis singulis 
hebdomadis claustrales non de quindecim diebus nisi forte aliquae 
personas de eorum parentel§, transeuntes aut nobiles aut tales de 
quibus verisimiUter non habetur suspicio eos secum morari faciant, 
et sic intelligatur de officiariis et de claustralibus " (Claretta, Storia 
diplomatica, p. 326). 

t The two fingers are the barber's, who lets one finger, or two, or 
three, intervene between the scissors and the head of the person whose 
hair he is cutting, according to the length of hair he wishes to remain. 

{ " Cellelarius teneatur ministrare panem et vinura et pittanciarius 
pittanciam " (Claretta, Stor. dip., p. 327). Pittancia is believed to be a 
corruption of "pietantia." " Pietantiae modus et ordo sic con- 
script! . . . observentur. In primis videlicet, quod pietantiarius 
qui pro tempore fuerit omni anno singuhs festivitatibus infra scriptis 
duo ova in brodio pipere et croco bene condito omnibus et singulis 
fratribus. . .tenebitur ministrare." (DecretumproMonasterioDobirluc, 
A.D. 1374, apud Ducange.) A " pittance " ordinarily was served to 
two persons in a single dish, but there need not be a dish necessarily, 
for a piece of raw cheese or four eggs would be a pittance. The pittancer 
was, the official whose business it was to serve out their pittances to 
each of the monks. Practically he was the maltre d'Mlel of the estab- 

314 Alps and Sanctuaries 

from San Pietro, or any suspected women, to be ad- 
mitted without the prior's permission. 

" The monks are to be careful how they hoM con- 
verse with suspected women, and are not to be found 
in the houses of such persons, or they will be punished. 
Item, the epistle and gospel at high mass are to be 
said by the monks in church, and in Lent the epistle is 
to be said by one monk or sub-deacon. 

" Item, two candelabra are to be kept above the 
altar when mass is being said, and the lord abbot is to 
provide the necessary candles. 

" Any one absent from morning or evening mass is 
to be punished by the prior, if his absence arises from 

" The choir, and the monks residing in the monas- 
tery, are to be provided with books and a convenient 
breviary* .... according to ancient custom and statute, 
nor can those things be sold which are necessary or 
useful to the convent. 

" Item, all the religious who are admitted and enter 
the monastery and religion, shall bring one alb and 
one amice, to be delivered into the hands of the treasurer 
and preserved by him for the use of the church. - 

" The treasurer is to have the books that are in daily 
use in the choir re-bound, and to see that the capes 
which are unsewn, and all the ecclesiastical vestments 
under his care are kept in proper repair. He is to have 
the custody of the plate belonging to the monastery, 
and to hold a key of the treasury. He is to furnish in each 

* Here the text seems to be corrupt. 

Appendix B 315 

year an inventory of the property of which he has charge, 
and to hand the same over to the lord abbot. He is to 
make one common pittance* of bread and wine on the 
day of the feast of St. Nicholas in December, according 
to custom ; and if it happens to be found necessary to 
make a chest to hold charters, &c., the person whose busi- 
ness it shall be to make this shall be bound to make it. 

" As regards the office of almoner, the almoner shall 
each day give alms in the monastery to the faithful 
poor — ^to wit, barley bread to the value of twopence 
current money, and on Holy Thursday he shall make 
an alms of threepencef to all comers, and shall give 
them a plate of beans and a drink of wine. Item, he is 
to make alms four times a year — that is to say, on Christ- 
mas Day, on Quinquagesima Sunday, and at the feasts 
of Pentecost and Easter ; and he is to give to every man 
a small loaf of barley and a grilled pork chop,| the third 
of a pound in weight. Item, he shall make a pittance to 
the convent oh the vigil of St. Martin of bread, wine, and 
mincemeat dumplings, § — that is to say, for each person 
two loaves and two . . . || of wine and some leeks, — and 
he is to lay out sixty shillings (?) in fish and seasoning, 
and all the servants are to have a ration of dumplings ; 
and in the morning he is to give them a dumpling cooked 
in oil, and a quarter of a loaf, and some wine.' Item, he 

* That is to say, he is to serve out rations of bread and wine to 
every one. 

t " Tres denarios." 

i " Unam carbonatam porci." I suppose I have translated this 
correctly ; I cannot find that there is any substance known as " car- 
bonate of pork." 

§ " RapioUa " I presume to be a translation of " raviolo," or 
" raviuolo," which, as served at San Pietro at the present day, is a 
small dumpling containing minced meat and herbs, and either boiled 
or baked according to preference. 

II " Luiroletos." This word is not to be found in any dictionary : 
litre (?). 

3i6 Alps and Sanctuaries 

shall give another pittance on the feast of St. James — to 
wit, a good sheep and some cabbages* with seasoning. 

" Item, during infirmary time he must provide four 
meat suppers and two pintsj (?) of wine, and a pittance 
of mincemeat dumplings during the rogation days, as 
do the sacristan and the butler. He is also to give 
each monk one bundle of straw in every year, and to 
keep a servant who shall bring water from the spring 
for the service of the mass and for holy water, and 
light the fire for the barber, and wait at table, and 
do all else that is reasonable and usual ; and the said 
almoner shall also keep a towel in the church for drying 
the hands, and he shall make preparation for the mandes 
on Holy Thursday, both in the monastery and in the 
cloister. Futhermore, he must keep beds in the hospital 
of S. Ambrogio, and keep the said hospital in such 
condition that Christ's poor may be received there in 
orderly and godly fashion ; he must also maintain the 
chapel of St. Nicholas, and keep the chapel of St. James 
in a state of repair, and another part of the building 
contiguous to the chapel. Item, it shall devolve upon the 
chamberlain to pay yearly to each of the monks of the 
said monastery of St. Martin who say mass, except 
those of them who hold office, the sum of six florins and 
six groats, J and to the treasurer, precentor, and surveyor, § 

* " Caulos cabutos cum salsa " (choux cabotfe ?). 

t " Sextaria." t " Grosses. " 

§ " Operarius, i.e. Dignitas in Collegiis Canonicorum et Monasteriis, 
cui operibus publicis vacare incumbit . . . Latius interdum patebant 
operarii munera siquidem ad ipsum spectabat librorum et ornamen- 
torum provincia." (Ducange.) " Let one priest and two laymen be 
elected in every year, who shall be called operarii of the said Church of 
St. Lawrence, and shall have the care of the whole fabric of the church 
itself . . . but it shall also pertain to them to receive all the moneys 
belonging to the said church, and to be at the charge of all necessary 
repairs, whether of the building itself or of the ornaments." {Statuta 
Eccl, S, Laur, Rom. apud Ducange.) 

Appendix B 317 

to each one of them the same sum for their clothing, and 
to each of the young monks who do not say mass four 
florins and six groats. And in every year he is to do one 
0* for the greater prioratef during Advent. Those who 
have benefices and who are resident within the monastery, 
but whose benefice does not amount to the value of their 
clothes, are to receive their clothes according to the 
existing custom. 

" Item, the pittancer shall give a pittance of cheese 
and eggs to each of the monks on every day from the 
feast of Easter to the feast of the Holy Cross in Septem- 
ber — to wit, three quarters of a pound of cheese ; but 
when there is a principal processional duplex feast, 
each monk is to have a pound of cheese per diem, except 
on fast days, when he is to have half a pound only. 
Also on days when there is a principal or processional 
feast, each one of them, including the hebdomadary, 
is to have five eggs. Also, from the feast of Easter to 
the octave of St. John the Baptist the pittancer is to 
serve out old cheese, and new cheese from the octave of 
St. John the Baptist to the feast of St. Michael. From 
the feast of St. Michael to Quinquagesima the cheese 
is to be of medium quahty. From the feast of the Holy 
Cross in September until Lent the pittancer must serve 
out to each monk three quarters of a pound of cheese, 
if it is a feast of twelve lessons, and if it is a feast of three 
lessons, whether a week-day or a vigil, the pittancer 
is to give each monk but half a pound of cheese. He 
is also to give all the monks during Advent nine pounds 
of wax extra allowance, and it is not proper that the 
pittancer should weigh out cheese for any one on a Friday 

* O. The seven antiphons which were sung in Advent were called 
O's. (Ducange.) 

t " Pro prioratu majori." I have been unable to understand what 
is here intended. 

3 1 8 Alps and Sanctuaries 

unless it be a principal processional or duplex feast, or 
a principal octave. It is also proper, seeing there is no 
fast from the feast of Christmas to the octave of the 
Epiphany, that every man should have his three quarters 
of a pound of cheese per diem. Also, on Christmas and 
Easter days the pittancer shall provide five dumplings 
per monk fer diem, and one plate of sausage meat,* 
and he shall also give to each of the servants on the said 
two days five dumplings- for each several day ; and the 
said pittancer on Christmas Day and on the day of St. 
John the Baptist shall make a relish, j or seasoning, and 
give to each monk one good glass thereof, that is to say, 
the fourth part of one J . . for each monk — to wit, on 
the first, second, and third day of the feast of the Nativity, 
the Circumcision, the Epiphany, and the Purification of 
the Blessed Virgin ; and the pittancer is to put spice in 
the said relish, and the cellarer is to provide wine and 
honey, and during infirmary time those who are being 
bled are to receive no pittance from the pittancer. Further, 
from the feast of Easter to that of the Cross of September, 
there is no fast except on the prescribed vigils ; each 
monk, therefore, should always have three quarters of a 
pound of cheese after celebration on a week-day until 
the aHove-named day. Further, the pittancer is to 
provide for three mandes in each week during the whole 
year, excepting Lent, and for each mande he is to find 
three pounds of cheese. From the feast of St. Michael to 
that of St. Andrew he is to provide for an additional 
mande in each week. Item, he is to pay the prior of 

* " Carmingier." 

t " Primmentum vel salsam." 

t " Biroleti." I have not been able to find the words "I'carmingier," 
" primmentum," and " biroletus " in any dictionary. " Biroletus " is 
probably the same as " luiroletus " which we have met with above, and 
the word isrnisprinted in one or both cases. 

Appendix B 319 

the cloister six florins for his fine* . . . and three florins 
to the . . . ,f and he should also give five eggs per 
diem to the hebdomadary of the high altar, except in 
Lent. Further, he is to give to the woodman, the baker, 
the keeper of the church, the servants of the Infirmary, 
the servant at the Eleemosynary, and the stableman, 
to each of them one florin in every year. Item, any 
monks who leave the monastery before vespers when it 
is not a fast, shall lose one quarter of a pound of cheese, 
even though they return to the monastery after vespers ; 
but if it is a fast day, they are to lose nothing. Item, 
the pittancer is to serve out mashed beans to the servants 
of the convent during Lent as well as to those who are 
in religion, and at this season he is to provide the prior of 
the cloister and the hebdomadary with bruised cicerate ;% 
but if any one of the same is hebdomadary, he is only to 
receive one portion. If there are two celebrating high 
mass at the high altar, each of them is to receive one plate 
of the said bruised cicerate. 

" As regards the office of cantor, the cantor is to intone 
the antiphon ' ad benedictus ad magnificat ' at terce,§ 
and at all other services, and he is himself to intone the 
antiphons or provide a substitute who can intone them ; 
and he is to intone the psalms according to custom. 
Also if there is any cloistered person who has begun his 
week of being hebdomadary, and falls into such sickness 

* " Item, priori claustrali pro sua dupla sex florinos." " Dupla " 
has the meaning " mulcta " assigned to it in Ducange among others, 
none of which seem appropriate here. The translation as above, 
however, is not satisfactory. 

t " Pastamderio." I have been unable to find this word in any 
dictionary. The text in this part is evidently full of misprints and 

{ " Ciceratam fractam." This word is not given in any dictionary. 
Cicer is a small kind of pea, so cicerata fracta may perhaps mean 
something hke pease pudding. 

§ Terce. A service of the Roman Church. 

320 Alps and Sanctuaries 

that he cannot celebrate the same, the cantor is to say or 
celebrate three masses. The cantor is to lead all the 
monks of the choir at matins, high mass, vespers, and on 
all other occasions. On days when there is a processional 
duplex feast, he is to write down the order of the office ; 
that is to say, those who are to say the invitatory,* the 
lessons, the epistle of the gospelf and those who are to 
wear copes at high mass and at vespers. The cantor 
must sing the processional hymns which are sung on 
entering the church, but he is exempt from taking his 
turn of being hebdomadary by reason of his intoning the 
offices ; and he is to write down the names of those who 
celebrate low masses and of those who get them said by 
proxy ; and he is to report these last to the prior that 
they may be punished. The cantor or his delegate is 
to read in the refectory during meal times and during 
infirmary time, and he who reads in the refectory is to 
have a quart [?] of bread, as also are the two junior monks 
who wait at table. The cantor is to instruct the boys in 
the singing of the office and in morals, and is to receive 
their portions of bread, wine and pittance, and besides 
all this he is to receive one florin for each of them, and he 
is to keep them decently ; and the prior is to certify 
himself upon this matter, and to see to it that he victuals 
them properly and gives them their food. 

" The sacristan is to provide all the lights of the 
church whether oil or wax, and he is to give out small 
candles to the hebdomadary, and to keep the eight 
lamps that burn both night and day supplied with oil. 
He is to keep the lamps in repair and to buy new ones 

* " Invitatorium." Ce nom est donnfi k un verset qui se chante ou 
se recite au commencement de I'of&ce de matines. H varie selon les 
fetes et meme les feries. Migne. Encyclop^die Th^ologique. 

t " Epistolam Evangelii." There are probably several misprints 

Appendix B 321 

if the old are broken, and he is to provide the incense. 
He is to maintain the covered chapel of St. Nicholas, 
and the whole church except the portico of the same ; 
and the lord abbot is to provide sound timber for doors 
and other necessaries. He is to keep the frames* of 
the bells in repair, and also the ropes for the same, and 
during Lent he is to provide two pittances of eels to the 
value of eighteen groats for each pittance, and one other 
pittance of dumplings and seasoning during rogation 
time, to wit, five dumplings cooked in oil for each person, 
and one quart of bread and wine, and all the house 
domestics and serving men of the convent who may be 
present are to have the same. At this time all the 
monks are to have one quarter of a pound of cheese from 
the sacristan. And the said sacristan should find the 
convent two pittances during infirmary time and two 
pintsf of wine, and two suppers, one of chicken and salt 
meat, with white chestnuts, inasmuch as there is only 
to be just so much chicken as is sufficient. Item, he is to 
keep the church clean. Item, he has to pay to the 
keeper of the church one measure of barley, and eighteen 
groats for his clothes yearly, and every Martinmas he 
is to pay to the cantor sixty soldi, and he shall place af 
... or boss § in the choir during Lent. Also he must do 
one O in Advent and take charge of all the ornaments of 
the altars and all the relics. Also on high days and when 
there is a procession he is to keep the paschal candle 
before the altar, as is customary, but on other days he 
shall keep a burning lamp only, and when the candle is 
burning the lamp may be extinguished. 

* " Monnas." Word not to be found, 
t " Sextaria." J Word missing in the original. 

§ " Borchiam." Word not to be found. Borchia in Italian is a kiiid 
of ornamental boss. 

322 Alps and Sanctuaries 

"As touching the office of infirmarer, the infirmarer 
is to keep the whole convent fifteen days during infirmary 
time, to wit, the one-half of them for fifteen days and the 
other half for another fifteen days, except that on the 
first and last days all the monks will be in the infirmary. 
Also when he makes a pittance he is to give the monks 
beef and mutton,* sufficient in quantity and quality, and 
to receive their portions. The prior of the cloister, 
cantor, and cellarer may be in the infirmary the whole 
month. And the infirmarer is to keep a servant, who 
shall go and buy meat three times a week, to wit, on 
Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays, but at the 
expense of the sender, and the said servant shall on 
the days following prepare the meat at the expense 
of the infirmarer ; and he shall salt it and make 
seasoning as is customary, to wit, on all high days and 
days when there is a processional duplex feast, and on 
other days. On the feast of St. Michael he shall serve out 
a seasoning made of sage and onions ; but the said 
servant shall not be bound to go and buy meat during 
Advent, and on Septuagesima and Quinquagesima 
Sundays he shall serve out seasoning. Also when the 
infirmarer serves out fresh meat, he is to provide fine 
salt. Also the said servant is to go and fetch medicine 
once or oftener when necessary, at the expense of the 
sick person, and to visit him. If the sick person requires 
it, he can have aid in the payment of his doctor, and the 
lord abbot is to pay for the doctor and medicines of all 
cloistered persons. 

" On the principal octaves the monks are to have 
seasoning, but during the main feasts they are to have 
seasoning upon the first day only. The infirmarer is 
not bound to do anything or serve out anything on 

* " Teneatur dare religiosis de carnibus bovinis et montonis decenter." 

Appendix B 323 

days when no flesh is eaten. The cellarer is to do this, 
and during the times of the said infirmaries, the servants 
of the monastery and convent are to be, as above, on the 
same footing as those who are in religion, that is to say, 
half of them are to be bled during one fifteen days, 
and the other half during the other fifteen days, as is 

" Item, touching the office of cellarer, it is ordered that 
the cellarer do serve out to the whole convent bread, wine, 
oil, and salt ; as much of these two last as any one may 
require reasonably, and this on aU days excepting when 
the infirmarer serves out kitchen meats, but even then 
the cellarer is to serve his rations to the hebdomadary. 
Item, he is to make a pittance of dumplings with season- 
ing to the convent on the first of the rogation days ; 
each monk and each servant is to have five dumplings un- 
cooked with his seasoning, and one cooked with [oil ?] 
and a quart of bread and wine, and each monk is to have 
one quarter of a pound of cheese. Item, upon Holy 
Thursday he is to give to the convent a pittance of 
leeks and fish to the value of sixty soldi, and . . . .* 
Item, another pittance upon the first day of August ; 
and he is to present the convent with a good sheep and 
cabbages with seasoning. Item, in infirmary time 
he is to provide two pittances, one of fowls and the 
other of salt meat and white chestnuts, and he is to 
give two pints of wine. Item, in each week he is to 
give one flagon [PJ.f Item, the cellarer is to provide 
napkins and plates at meal times in the refectory, and 
he is to find the bread for making seasoning, and the 
vinegar for the mustard ; and he is to do an O in Advent, 
and in Lent he is to provide white chestnuts, and cicerate 
all the year. From the feast of St. Luke to the octave 

* " Foannotos." Word not to be found. f " Laganum." 

324 Alps and Sanctuaries 

of St. Martin he is to provide fresh chestnuts, to wit, 
on feasts of twelve lessons ; and on dumpling days he 
is to find the oil and flour with which to make the 

" Item, as to the office of surveyor, it is ordered 
that the surveyor do pay the master builder and also 
the wages of the day labourers ; the lord abbot is to 
find all the materials requisite for this purpose. Item, 
the surveyor is to make good any plank or post or nail, 
and he is to repair any hole in the roofs which can be 
repaired easily, and any beam or piece of boarding. 
Touching the aforesaid materials it is to be understood 
that the lord abbot furnish beams, boards, rafters, 
scantling, tiles, and anything of this description ;* the 
said surveyor is also to renew the roof of the cloister, 
chapter, refectory, dormitory, and portico ; and the said 
surveyor is to do an in Advent. 

" Item, concerning the office of porter. The porter 
is to be in charge of the gate night and day, and if he go 
outside the convent, he must find a sufficient and trust- 
worthy substitute ; on every feast day he isf . . . to 
lose none of his provender ; and to receive his clothing in 
spring as though he were a junior monk ; and if he is 
in holy orders, he is to receive clothing money ; and to 
have his pro rata portions in all distributions. Item, 
the said porter shall enjoy the income derived from S. 
Michael of Canavesio ; and when a monk is received into 
the monastery, he shall pay to the said porter five good 
sous ; and the said porter shall shut the gates of the 
convent at sunset, and open them at sunrise." 

The rest of the document is little more than a resume 

* " EnreduUas hujusmodi " [et res uUas hujusmodi ?]. 
t " In processionibus deferre et de sua prebenda nihil perdat vesti- 
arium vere suum salvatur eidem sicut uni monacuUo." 

Appendix B 325 

of what has been given, and common form to the effect 
that nothing in the foregoing is to override any orders 
made by the Holy Apostohc See which may be preserved 
in the monastery, and that the rights of the Holy See 
are to be preserved in all respects intact. If doubts arise 
concerning the interpretation of any clause they are to 
be settled by the abbot and two of the senior monks. 

Author's Index 

Abruptness of introduction the 
measure of importance, 196 

Absolute, we would have an 
absolute standard if we could, 

Absolutely, nothing is anything, 

Academies and their influence, 
146-59, 226. 248 

Academy picture, the desire to 
paint an, 142 

Ciseri's, at Locarno, 271 

Accidentals, a maze of meta- 
physical, 23 

Action, foundations of, lie deeper 
than reason, 1 07 

Adaptation and illusion, 44 

Adipose cushion of Italy, 92 

Advertisements, American, at 
Locarno, 273 

jEstheticism, culture, earnestness, 
and intenseness, all methods of 
trying to conceal weakness, 

Affection a sine gud non for 
success, 158 

Agape and gnosis, 17 

Airolo, 25 

Alcohol and imagination, 46 

Alda, II Salto della bella, 104 

All things to all men, 66 

Allen, Grant, 69 

Almoner, the, of S. Michele, 315 

Alone, should we like to see a 
picture when we are, 23, 158 

Alpi and monti, difference be- 
tween, 35 

Alpine roads, the steps by which 
they have advanced, 59 

Alps, narrowness of the, 61 

Altar cloth, a fine embroidered, 

Altar-piece at Morbio Superiore, 


Amateurs, wanted a periodical 
written and illustrated by, 156 

Amber, a smile in, 235 

Ambrogio, S., and neighbour- 
hood, 113 

American advertisements at Lo- 
carno, 273 

Ancestors, to have been begotten 
of good ones for many genera- 
tions, 252 

Andermatt, 24 

Andorno, 186 

Angel, drawing an, down, 42 

Angera, 258 

Animals and plants, cause of their 
divergence, 153 

Ants near Faido, 38 

— and bees, stationary civilisa- 
tion of, 195 

— and their nests, 288 
Anzone, the sad torrent of, 220 
Apparition, artificial, of the 

B.V.M., 275 
Appliances, creatures and their, 

Apprenticeship v. the academic 

system, 150 
Arona, 265 
Art for art's sake, 156 

— Italian, causes of its decUne, 

— moral effect of, 252 
Asbestos on pass between Fusio 

and Dalpe, 285 
Asplenium alternifoHum, 37 
Ass dressed in sacerdotal robes. 67 




Aureggio, 177 

Aurora Borealis like pedal notes 

in Handel's bass, 83 
Avalanches at Mesocco, 222 
Avogadro, 148 

B.A. degree should be assimi- 
lated to M.A.. 186 

Baby, death of a, bells rung for, 

Bach as good a musician as 
Handel, 17 

Badgers' fat, 289 

Balaclava, a stuffed Charge of, 251 

Ballerini, Mgr., Patriarch of Alex- 
andria, 268, 272 

Banda, Casina di, 119 

Bank of England note, Italian 
language on, 19 

Barelli, Signor, at Bisbino, 239 

Barley, mode of drying, 29 

Barratt, Mrs., of Langar, 198 

Baskets, helmet-shaped, near 
Lanzo, 134 

Bastianini, 149 

Bayeux tapestry, 150 

Beaconsfield, Lord, 23, 141, 142 

Bears, 75, 223 

Beds, good, their moral influence, 
184, 186 

Bees, stationary civilisation of, 

Beethoven on Handel, 18 
Beginners in art, how to treat 

them, 155 
Bell, peter, and his primrose, 38, 


Bellini, the, when, where, and 
how to get their like again, 146 

Bellinzona, 198 

Bells, 45, 265, 294 

Bergamo, Colleone chapel at, 231 

Berkeley, Bishop, and his tar- 
water, 64 

Bernardino, Padre, his inscrip- 
tion on my drawing, 220 

Bernardino, San, 223 

Biasca, 85 

Biella, 169 

Bignasco, 278 

Bigotry, eating a niode of, 153 

Birds, 116 

— their names, 291 

— their singing, 230 
Bisbino, Monte, 233 
Bishop, Boy, 67 

■ — welcomed with a brass band, 

Bleeding times, 312 

Blinds, milkmen's and under- 
takers', 145 

Blood, circulation of, like people, 

Bodily mechanism, a town like, 

Body, soul, and money, 107 

Boelini, family of, 213 

Bologna, Academy at, 147 

Bonvicino, the famiglia, 124 

Borromeo, S. Carlo, room in 
which he was born, 263 

Botticelli, Sandro, on landscape 
painting, 45 

Box-trees, clipped, 104, 167 

Brebbia, church at, 258 

Bridge, the first, 59. 

Brigand, right to free a, con- 
ferred upon Graglia, i8g, 193 

British Museum and Oropa, 183, 

Buckley, Miss Arabella, 69 

Bullocks, how I lost my, 154 

Burrello, Castel, 114 

Bussoleno, 114 

Butcher, the eructive, 126 

Cadagno, Lake of, 81 

Cader Idris, an Archbishop on, 89 

Calanca, Sta. Maria in, 202, 223 

Calonico, 55 

Calpiognia, 29, 35 

Cama, the aesthetic dog at, 202 

Cambridge, a modest proposal to 

make an Oropa of, 186 
Campello, 76 
Campo Santo at Calpiognia, 30 

• at Mesocco, 204 

at Pisa, 159 

Campolungo, Alpe di, 42, 284 
Canaries, their song unpleasant, 

Caniine, a day at the, 243 



Canvas of life turned upside down, 

"Carbonate of pork," 315 
Carracci, the, 147 
Casina di Banda, iig 
Castelletto, 265 
Cavagnago, 76 

Cenere, Monte, narcissuses on, 228 
Ceres, 161 
Cerrea, 133 
Chalk, Conte, the Italian for 

whom this was the one thing 

needful, 136 
Chalk eggs, 43 
Chamois, foot of, 283 
Change, repudiation of desire for 

sudden, 186 
— '■ importance of, depends on the 

rate of introduction, 196 

— either the circumstances or the 
sufferer will, 196 

Changes, sweeping, to be felt 
hereafter as vibrations, 60 

Cheapissimo, 165 

Cheese and the alpi, 289 

Cherries, 33, 35, 46 

Chestnuts, 118 

Chicory and seed onions, weary 
utterness in, 227 

Children, subalpine, 301 

— what becomes of the clever, 149 
Chinese, the examination-ridden, 

Chironico, 75 
" Chow," 52 

Church-going, subalpine, 303 
Circulation of people like blood, 

Ciseri, his picture at Locarno, 271 
Civilisation, antiquity of Italian, 


— stationary, of ants and bees, 195 
Class distinction inevitable, 195 
Classification only possible 

through sense of shock, 63 
Clergy, our Enghsh, and S. Michele 

priests, 106 
Cloisters at Locarno, 271 

— at Oltrona, 258 

Club, the, the true university, 

Cocking, Wednesbury, 55, 305 
Collects, unsympathetic priest 

bristling with, in 
Colleone, Medea, 231 
Colma di San Giovanni, 163 
Comba di Susa, 119 
Comfort as a moral influence, 

Comic song, the landlord's, 128 
Common sense, the safest guide, 

Consistent, who ever is ? 153 
Contradictory principles, there 

must be a harmonious fusing of, 

Converting things by eating them, 

Corpses, desiccated, at S. Michele, 

Cousins, my, the lower animals, 69 
Cows fighting in farmyard, 120 
Cricco, 125 
Cristoforo, S., church of, at 

Mesocco, 208 

at Castello, 234 

Crossing, efficacy of, 152 

— unexpected results of, 55 

— useless if too wide, 157 
Crucifixion, fresco at Fusio, 140 
Culture and priggishness, 141 

— a mode of concealing weakness, 

Current feeling, the safest guide, 

Cutlets, burnt, and the waiter, 124 

Dalpe, 38 

Dante a humbug, 156 

Darwin, Charles, no place for 

meeting, 69 
Darwin, Erasmus, 23, 153 
Dazio, Signor Pietro, of Fusio, 279 
Death, no man can die to himself, 

Deceit a necessary alloy of truth, 

Dedomenici da Rossa, 137-9 
Demand and supply, 108 
D'Enrico, the brothers, 189 
Dentist's show-case mistaken for 

relics, 43 



Deportment, good technique re- 
sembles, 156 

Desire and power, 108 

Development of power to know 
our own likes and dislikes, 22 

Devil's Bridge, 23 

Diatonic scale, and song of birds 
in New Zealand, 232 

Dirt, eating a peck of moral, 71 

Disgrazia and misfortune, 58 

D'Israeli, Isaac, quotations from, 

Dissenters all narrow-minded, 

Distribution of plants and animals 
often inexplicable, 135 

Diversion of mental images, 54 

Doera, fresco at, 145, 221 

Dogs, 156, 202, 260, 313 

Doing, the only mode of learning, 

Doors, how they open in time, 151 
Doubt, " There lives more doubt 

in honest faith," 67 
Downs, the South, like Monte 

Generoso, 230 
Draughtsman, first business of a, 

Drawing, the old manner of 

teaching, 150 
Dream, my, at Lago di Cadagno, 

Drunkenness and imagination, 46 
Dunque, 133 
Duso, Agostino, his fresco at Sta. 

Maria in Calanca, 225 

Earnestness, 142, 192 
Eating, a mode of bigotry, 153 
Echo at Graglia, 192 
Edelweiss, 291 

Electricity and Alpine roads, 60 
Elephant brays a third, 233 
" Elongated " honey, 293 
Embryonic stages, the artist 

must go through, 148 
Endymion, Lord Beaconsfield's, 

23, 141 
English as tract-distributors, 65 
— language, its ultimate su- 
premacy, 41 

English priests and Italian, 106 

— why introspective, 18 
Equilibrium only attainable at 

the cost of progress, 195 
Eritis, a panic concerning, 204 
Eternal punishment, iii, 196 
Eusebius, St., 178 
Evolution and illusion, 43 

— essence of, consists in not 
shocking too much, no 

Extreme, every, an absurdity, 153 

Faido, 22 

Faith, doubt lives in honest, 67 

— more assured in the days of 
spiritual Saturnalia, 68 

— foundations of our system 
based on, 107, 277 

— and reason, 108 

— catholic, of protoplasm, 152 

— a mode of impudence, 283 
Falsehood turning to truth, 71 
Famine prices at Locarno, 276 
Feeling, current, the safest guide, 

Fertile, rich and poor rarely fertile 

inter se, 195 
Fires, how Italians manage their, 

Fishmonger choosing a bloater, 


Flats and sharps, a maze of meta- 
physical, 23 

Fleet Street, beauties of, 19 

Flowers, names of, 291 

Fossil-soul, 234 

Foundations of action lie deeper 
than reason, 107 

— of a durable system laid on 
faith, 277 

Francis, St., and Insurance Co.'s 
plate, 191 

Friction, which prevents the un- 
duly rapid growth of inventions, 

Fucine, 166 

Fun, Italian love of, 243 

Fusing and confusing of ideas and 
structures, 44 

— faith and reason, necessity of, 



Fusing the harmonious, of two 

contradictory principles, 152 
Fusio, 140, 277 

Gallows at S. Michele, 104 

Garnets, 285 

Garrard, 159 

Generations, more than one neces- 
sary for great things, 87, 188 

Generoso, Monte, 229 

German influences in Italian 
valleys, 167 

Gesture older and easier than 
speech, 165 

Giacomo, San, 223 

Giorio, San, 113 

Giornico, 73 

Giovanni, San, Colma di, 163 

Gladstone, Mr., advised to go to 
the Grecian pantomime, 68 

Gnats, daily swallowing of, 69 

Gnosis and Agape, 17 

God not an gry with the plover for 
lying, and likes the spider, 70 

Goethe a humbug, 156 

Gogin, Charles, 204 

Gold at the Casina di Banda, 120 

Gothard, St., scenery of the pass, 

— crossing in winter, 24 

— the old road, 38 
Graglia, 188 

Grammar and good technique, 156 

Grecian pantomime, Mr. Glad- 
stone recommended to see, 68 

Gribbio, 76 

Griffin at Temple Bar, 20 

Grissino, pane, 135 

Groesner, G. W., his picture at 
S. Maria in Calanca, 225 

Groscavallo Glacier, 135 

Guglielmoni, 284, 287-92, 298 

Habit, the oldest commonly re- 
sorted to at a pinch, 165 

Hair, no monk to wear his hair 
more than two fingers broad, 

Handel and Shakespeare, 17 

— and Italy, 19 

— how I said he was a Catholic, 69 

Handel, his ploughman and his 
humour, 144 

— his paganism and his religious 
fervour, 191 

— the Varese chapels like a set of 
variations by, 252 

— quotations from his music, 31, 
34, 83, 84, 99, 200, 282 

Harlington, inscription at, 234 
Hawks, tame, 116 
Hay-making at Piora, 81 
Hedgehog, a spiritual, in 
Hen, the meditative, 110 

— and chalk eggs, 43 
Heresy and heretics, 152 
Hieroglyph of a lost soul, 147 
Holidays like a garden, 69 
Holiness a Semitic characteristic, 

Honey, the "elongation" of, 293 
Hooghe, P. de, 267 
Humbugs, the seven, 156 
Humour, Italian love of, 243 

— Leonardo da Vinci's, 144 
Huxley, 69 

Ignazio, S., 161 , 
Illusion and evolution, 43 

— and fusion, 54 

Images, mental diversion of the, 54 

• — worship of, 251 

Imagination and bells, Leonardo 
da Vinci on, 45 

Immortality, 23, 277 

Imperfection the only true per- 
fection, 138 

Impossibilissimo, 165 

Impudence a mode of faith, 284 

— the chamois continues to live 
through, 284 

Inconsistency of plants and ani- 
mals, 153 

Infirmary times, 316 

Institution, the Royal, why we go 
to, 68 

Insurance Office, plate of, and St. 
Francis, 191 

Intenseness a mode of weakness, 

Interaction of reason and faith,' 




Inundations and the ruscdli, 219 

Inventions, 59, 134 

Irrigation, iig 

Israelites, the Vaudois the lost 

ten tribes of, 112 
Issime, bells at, 297 
Italians, their resemblance to 

Englishmen, 141, i68 
Ivy blossoms, intoxicating effect 

of, on insects, 104 

Jay, a tame, 116 
John-the-Baptist-looking man, 

Joke, the mediaeval, 144 
Jones, H. F., as my collaborator, 


— on Lord Beaconsfield and 
Endymion, 142 

— how he learned to draw, 150 

— and the dog at Cama, 202 

— and the fresco of S. Cristoforo 
at Mesocco, 209 

— on the writing by Lazarus 
BoroUinus, 213 

Jutland and Scheria, 41 

Kettle, sparks smouldering on, a 
sign of rain, 239 

Kicking the waiter downstairs, 

Kindliness v. grammar and de- 
portment, 156 

Kitchen at Angera, 263 

Knowing our own Ukes and dis- 
likes, difficulty of, 22 

Knowledge, a good bed one of the 
main ends of, 186 

Lei, 132 

Lamb and perpetual spring, 62 
Lankester, Prof. Ray, 69 
Larks and Wordsworth, 231 
Latin and Greek verses and art, 

Learning via doing, 151 
Leg, old woman's, at Dalpe, 39 

— S. Rocco's, 297 
Lesbia and her passer, 231 
Liberals throw too large pieces of 

bread at their hen, no 

Ligornetto, 243 

Likes and dislikes hard to dis- 
cover, 22 

Liking and trying, 151 

Lilies, 55, 285 

Locarno, 268 

Locke, his essay on the under- 
standing, 44 

Locomotion of plants, 153 

London, 19 

Loom at Fucine, 166 

Lothair sent to a University, 141 

Ludgate Hill Station, 20 

Lugano, 228 

Luke, St., his statue of the Virgin, 

Lukmanier Pass, 24, 28 

Lying, a few remarks on, 69 

M.A. degree should be assimilated 

to the B.A. degree, 186 
Mairengo, 28 
" Mans is all alike," 146 
Mantegnesque man at the Casina 

di Banda, 122 
Maoris on white men's fires, 117 
Marcus Aurelius a humbug, 156 
Marigold blossoms used to colour 

risotto, 227 
Marmots, 285, 288 
Martello, Pietro Giuseppe, 189 
Master and pupil, true relations 

between, 150 
Matchbox, a frivolous, at Gra- 

glia, 194 
Matilda and the Bayeux tapestry, 

Megatherium fossil bores us, 235 
" Membrane, my mucous, is be- 
fore you," 166 ^ 
Mendelssohn, staying a long time 

before things, 24 
Mendrisio, 228 
Merriment an essential feature 

of the old feast, 191 
Mesocco, 207 
Michael Angelo would have failed 

for " Punch," 143 
Michele, S., 86 

Microscope, a mental, wanted, 22 
Milton and Fleet Street, 20 



Milton and Handel, 191 
" Minga far tutto," 244 
Mirrors, frescoes of Death with, 

at Soazza, 204 
Misfortune and disgrace, 58 
Mistakes, essence of evolution lies 

in power to make, no 

— and plasticity, 44 
Misunderstanding, essay on 

human, 44 
Monks less sociable than priests, 


— at S. Michele, 106 
Montboissier, Hugo de, 87 
Monti and alpi, difference be- 
tween, 35 

Montreal Mountain, 301 
Moody, Tom, funeral of, 159 
Morbio Superiore, 237 
Mozart on Handel, 18 
Murray's Handbook, mistakes on 

S. Michele, 102 
Music at Locarno, 272 

— at Varese, 257 

Names of birds, 291 

— of flowers, 291 

— scratched on walls, 213, 235 
Narcissuses on Monte Cenere, 228 
National Gallery, an art professor 

at the, 203 
Nativity, a stuffed, 251 
Negri, Cav. Avvocato, 41 
Nemesis, an intellectual sop to, 67 
Nests, artificial, 116 
New Zealand, song of birds in, 

Nicolao, S., church of, at Giornico, 


— chapel of, on Monte Bisbino, 242 

above Sommazzo, 247 

Nightingale does not use the 

diatonic scale, 231 
Nose, the man who tapped his, 

— the man with red, among the 
saints at Orta, 177 

— dispute about a lady's, 124 
Noses, saints with pink, 254 
Novice, the, to whom I played 

Handel, 69 

" Obadiahs, The two-," welcoming 

a bishop with, 272 
Oltrona, 258 
Onions, seed, and chicory, their 

weary utterness, 227 
Opportunity, lying in wait for, 152 
Oratories, 'Ticinese, 42 
Orchids that imitate flies, 70 
Oropa, 169 
Orta, 167, 177 
Osco, 28 
Oxford and Cambridge, proposal 

to make Oropas of them, 186 

Paganism of Handel, Milton, and 
the. better part of Catholipism, 

PaglioUo at Varese, 256 

Painting, the giants of, unin- 
teresting, 144 

— not more mysterious than con- 
veyancing, 151 

Pantheism lurking in rhubarb, 64 

Parrot at Mesocco, 207 

Passero solitario, 230 

Paul, St., letting in the thin edge 
of the wedge, 66 

— .and seasonarianism, 68 

Peccia, 278 

Pella, 167 

Periodical, wanted a, by pure 

Photography used in votive 

pictures, 145 
Pick-me-up, a spiritual, 55 
Pietro, San, 92 
Pinerolo, in 
Piora, 77 
Piotta, 26 
Piottino, Monte, 26 
Pirchiriano, Monte, 88 
Plants and animals, causes of 

their divergence, 153 
Plato a humbug, 156 
Plover, the, a liar, 69 
PoUaiuolo, Antonio, 131 
Pollard, Mr., 158 
Polypodium vulgare, 242 
Porches, timber, 28 
"Pork, carbonate of," 315 


Posizionina, una discreta, 165 

Postilions, St. Gothard, 24 

Potatoes easily bored, 55 

Prato, 42 

Present, the only comfortable 
time to live in, 61 

Priggishness, 70, 141 

Prigs, " she had heard there were 
such things," 125 

Primadengo, 33 

Primrose Hill and the Arch- 
bishops of Canterbury and 
York, 89 

Procaccini, the brothers, 248 

Professions should be hereditary, 


Progress and equilibrium, each 
have their advantages, 195 

Propositions want tempering with 
their contraries, 158 

Proselytising by eating, 153 

Protestantism less logical than 
Cathohcism, 106 

— more logical than Cathohcism, 

Protestants do not try to under- 
stand Catholicism, 273 
Protoplasm, the catholic faith of, 


Pruning of trees, 129 

Pulmonary complaints in sub- 
alpine villages, 290 

" Punch," the illustrations to, 143 

Punishment, eternal, denied by 
an ItaUan, in 

we would have it so i£ we 

could, 196 

Purgatory, fresco at Fusio, 140 

Quarrel, pleasure of laying aside 
a, 69 

— why the subalpine people 
quarrel so little, 223 

Quietism v. going about in search 

of prey, 152 
Quinto, 26, 46, 77 
Quirico, S., chapel of, 261 

Raffaelle a humbug, 156 
Railway director, the ideal, his 
education, 155 

ex 333 

Rascane, 29 

Rationalism, when will it sit 

lightly on us ? 112 
ReasQn and faith, 108 

— insufficient alone, 108 

— and the chamois's foot, 283 
Recreation and regeneration, 54 

— cities of, 186 

Red Lion Square said by an 
Italian to be the centre of 
London business, 125 

Reformation, the, confined to a 
narrow area, 135 

ReUcs, dentist's show-case mis- 
taken for, 43 

Rembrandt, Sir W. Scott on, 77 

Renaissance, the standing aloof 
from academic principles a 
sine qud non for a genuine, 155 

Revolutions felt hereafter as 
mere vibrations, 60 

Rhinoceros grunts a fourth, 233 

Rhubarb, reflections upon, 62 

Richmond Gem cigarette, ad- 
vertisement of, 273 

Risotto, marigolds for colouring, 

Ritom, Lago, 79 

Roads, Alpine, 59 

Rocca Melone, 167 

Rocco, San, and his leg, 297 

Rocks, conventional treatment of, 
in fresco, 143 

Romanes, Mr., 69 

Ronco, 77 

Rosherville Gardens and Varese, 

Rossa, Dedomenici da, 137-9 

Rossura, 49 

Royal Institution, why we go to 
the, 68 

Ruins, all, are frauds, 261 

Sacramental wafers, how the 
novice taught me to make, 69 
Sagno, 238 

Saints a feeble folk at Varese, 253 
Sambucco, Val di, 281, 291 
Sanitary conditions of the alpi, 

of Fusio, 299 



Saturnalia, spiritual, 68 
Scheria and Jutland, 41 
Schools, our, are covertly radical, 

Scott, Sir W., on Rembrandt, 77 
Seasonarianism and St. Paul, 68 
Seasons, the, like species, 63 
Semitic characteristic, holiness a, 

Shakespeare and Handel, 17, 185 
Shock, a sine qua non for con- 
solation and for evolution, 54 
— our perception of a, our sole 

means of classifying, 63 
Signorelli, Signor, 264 
Skeletons at S. Michele, 97 
Sketching clubs, their place in a 

renaissance of art, 156 
Sleep, cost of, 184 
Smile, a, in amber, 235 
Smuggling on Monte Bisbino, 238 
Soazza, 198 
Sommazzo, 247 
Soot, sparks clinging to, a sign of 

rain, 239 
Soul, hieroglyph of a lost, 147 
Soul-fossil, 234 
Sparrow, the solitary, 230 
Sparrows, tame, at Angera, 260 
Species like the seasons, 63 
Speculation founded on illusion, 

Speech not so old as gesture, 165 
Spider, the, a liar, but God likes 

it, 70 
Spiders are liers-in-wait, 152 
Spinning-wheels at Fucine, 166 
Spiral tunnels, 58 
Spires near the Lake of Orta, 167 
Sporting pictures, 159 
Spring, perpetual, and lamb, 62 
Spurs at the Tower of London, 

Stomach affected by thunder, 127 
Structures, fusion and confusion 

of, 44 
Stura Valley, 167 
Success due mainly to affection, 

Sunday at Rossura, 51 
Supply and demand, 108 

Switzerland, German, I have done 
with, 28 

Tabachetti, 189 

Tacitus hankered after German 
institutions, and was a prig, 142 

Tanner, extract from ledger of, 

Tanzio, II, 189 

Tar-water, Bishop Berkeley's, 64 

Technique and grammar, 156 

T^moin, Le, a Vaudois news- 
paper, III 

Tempering, all propositions want, 
with their contraries, 152 

Tengia, 55 

Tennyson, misquotation from, 67 

Thatch, an indication of German 
influence, 167 

Theism in Bishop Berkeley's tar- 
water, 64 

Thunder, its effect on the stomach, 

Ticino carries mud into the Lago 
Maggiore, 220 

" Tira giii," 42 

Titian would not have done for 
" Punch," 143 

Toeless men, 129 

Tom, Lago, 78, 85 

Tondino, 164 

Torre Pellice, iii 

Torrents, deification of, 220 

Tower of London, prisoners' carv- 
ings in, 150 

figure of Queen Elizabeth 

in, 175 

spurs in, 215 

Trees, pruning of, 129 

Tremorgio, Lago di, 79 

Trinity College, Cambridge, and 
Oropa, 173 

Triulci, family of, at Mesocco, 214 

Trojan War, duration of, 198 

Trout in the Lago Ritom, 79 

Truth, deceit a necessary alloy for, 

Tunnels, spiral, 58 

Turin, picture gallery at, 131 

Turner, J. M. W., 157, 198 

Tyndall, Professor, 69 



Undertakers' blinds and art, 145 
Universities and priggishness, 141 

— few pass through them un- 
scathed, 151 

— an obstacle to the finding of 
doors, 155 

— covertly radical, 158 

— proposal to make Oropas of 
them, 186 

Varallo, 176 

Varese, 176, 249 

Vela, Professor, and his son, 243 

Velotti, Nicolao, 188 

Verdabbio, 223 

Vibrations, revolutions in our 

social status felt as, 60 
Vinci, Leonardo da, on bells, 45 
would have failed for 

" Punch," 143 
and Nature's grandchildren 


and anatomy, 216 

Viii, 160 

Vogogna, 265 

Votive pictures, 121, 145, 180, 271 

Wafers, sacramental, how the 
novice taught me to make, 69 
Waitee, 41 

Waiter, the, at S. Pietro, 124 
Walnuts, 118 

Waterloo Bridge, view from, 20 
Waterspouts at Mesocco, 219 
Wednesbury Cocking, 55, 305 
West, Benjamin, his picture of 

Christ healing the sick, 72 
Will, Lord Beaconsfield on, 23 
Wine-cellars, a day at the, 243 
Winter, crossing the St. Gothard 
Pass in, 24 

— in Ticino valley, 78 

— at Fusio, 299 

— at Montreal, 300 
Woodsia hyperborea, 37 
Wordsworth and larks, 231 

Yawning of a parrot, 207 
Yew-trees, clipped, 167 
York, Archbishop of, and Scafell, 

ZMe, surtout point de, 66, 68 

Re-issue of the Works of the late 
Samuel Butler 

Author of "Erewhon," "The Way of All Flesh," etc. 

Mr. FiFiELD has pleasure 4n announcing he has taken over the publication 
of the entire works of the late Samuel Butler, novelist, philosopher, scientist, 
satirist and classicist ; *' in his own department," says Mr. Bernard Shaw, *' the 
greatest English writer of the latter half of the 19th century." "The Way 
of All Flesh," "Erewhon," and "Unconscious Memory," which had been out 
of print for some time, are now reprinted, and these and all the other works, 
with the exception of '*The Fair Haven" and *' Selections " (out of print), 
are now offered at more popular prices. 

The Note-Books of Samuel Butler. With Portrait 
and Poems. Edited by H. F. Jones. Second Im- 
pression. 6s. net 
The Way of All Flesh. A novel. Fifth Impres- 
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God the Known and God the Unknown. is. 6d. net 
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Erewhon Revisited. 3rd Impression, 340 pages. 2s. 6d. net 
Essays on Life, Art and Science. (New Edition, 
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The Fair Haven. (New Edition in preparation.) 
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London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.G. 

Mr. Fifield's New List 

The Note- Books of 
Samuel Butler 

Author of "Erewhon," -''The Way of All Flesh," etc. 

Arranged and Edited by Henry Festing Jones 
Large Cronvn ^vo^ 452 p'^g^^, ^^« ^'^^j postage ^d. 

Second impression. 
The volume includes a pJiotogravure portrait of Butler taken by Alfred 
Cathie in 1898 ; a preface by^he editor, a lifelong frienii of the author, giving 
the origin of the book; a biographical statement of the chief events and dates 
of Butler's life ; Butler's poems and sonnets, and an Index. 

The publication of these private notes is a literary event of first import- 
ance. Samuel Butler*s Note-Books are not only a commentary on the 19th 
century of consummate humour and individuality, but an autobiography of 
extraordinary interest and intimacy as well. 

Tke Times says :— " No one knows Samuel Butler who has not read this book 
through; and perhaps it will come to be the most read and valued of all his works." 
^From a three-column review.) 

Edmund Gosse, in Morning Posi, says : — " He is excessively interesting to us. . . . 
We hear the very voice of Butler ; he is talking to us all the time. . . . Briefly, the whole 
volume excites in us a desire to read the full biography." 

Walter de la Mare, in Edinburgh Review^ says: — "They defy summary or 
analysis, crammed as they are with speculation and wisdom, irony, satire, pranks, 
quips and stories. Any page will set the wits to work, to amuse, arrest, provoke. 
Now and then their obiter dicta will test even a strong stomach. The shut mind had 
better approach warily." 

The AthencEum says: — "When we say that Samuel Butler's Note-Books supply a 
free and intimate exposition of his thoughts from day to day, the judgments, jokes and 
incidents, and touches of character that he regarded as worth preserving, we have said 
enough for many readers. . . . Every page has an arresting comment, perhaps some- 
thing which the whole world is thinking, but is too timid or conventional to utter. AH 
is set down with amazing frankness, and often with self-criticism." 

The Nation says : — " The book is packed with good things from cover to cover, and 
it makes up what amounts to a fresh and striking work from Butler's pen." 

The Pall Mall Gazette says : — "No book will be more acceptable to those who 
know his work and his mind. . . . Open it where you will and some memorable passage 
leaps to view." 

The Graphic says : — " A fascinating book to which you can return again and again 
with keen pleasure." 

£«^//j^ J?«/zVw says :—" A priceless book of wit and wisdom. . . . Even the most 
liberal quotation could hardly convey any adequate sense of its gay wisdom and 
pregnant wit," 

London: A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.C. 

Mr. Fijield's New List 

A New Revised and Enlarged Edition, entirely re-set, of 

Alps and Sanctuaries 

of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino 
By Samuel Butler 

Author of " Erewhon," "The Way of AH Flesh," etc. 

With 85 Illustrations by the Author, H. F. Jones and 
, Charles Gogin. 

Large crown %vo. Cloth gilt. 5J. net, postage /^d. 

An entirely new and popular edition of Samuel Butler's de- 
lightful travel book, originally published in 1 881, will be welcomed 
by all Butlerians. The cumbrous and heavy form and the high 
price prevented the first edition from having a speedy sale, but to 
the wise who ignored these things the volume was a source 
of infinite pleasure and amusement. Nowhere is Butler's 
humour and humanity so well displayed as in these descrip- 
tions of North Italy and the Italian Alps. Mr. R. A. Streat- 
feild, in preparing the new edition, has incorporated Butler's last 
alterations and additions, including an entirely new chapter and an 
inimitable descriptive index found in MS. The illustrations 
exhibit Butler's skill as a black and white artist. The blocks are 
interesting examples of early photo engraving. The type of the 
volume has been entirely re-set, a light paper of good quality 
employed, and the price is five shillings instead of a guinea. 

The Times, in its Essay on Butler, 1908, says : — "'Alps and 
Sanctuaries ' and ' Ex Voto ' are concerned with the mountain 
shrines of Piedmont and the Ticino, a country to which Butler 
returned to again and again and knew intimately. They are far 
more than a description of exquisite places and little-known 
monuments of a fine local art. They brim over with the 
author's swift mocking laughter, as well as with his innumerable 
fads and fancies. Anyone who wishes to make Butler's acquaint- 
ance should begin with the first of these two books. In no other 
did he write with a freer, fuller, more felicitous self-abandonment." 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.G. 

New Editions of 
" Erewhon " Butler 

The Way of All Flesh. A Novel. New Edition. 6s. 
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Erewhon Re-visited. 3rd Issue. 2s. 6d. nett. 

Essays on Life, Art,& Science. New Edition preparing. 

" The re-issue of these books gives ground for the hope that 
a very notable mind is about to enter into its kingdom. The 
public has no longer any excuse for not knowing anything about 
the most penetrating, honest, courageous and original of the critics 
of modern English life, the most detached and unacademic of 
contributors to the literature of evolution. Mr. Birrell said no 
word too much in calling Erewhon the best satire of its kind 
since Gulliver's Travels. We venture to prophesy that in years 
to come journalists will be referring to the Erewhonian ethics 
and system of life in general with almost as much confidence of 
being understood as they have when they refer to anything in 
Sir W. S. Gilbert's works to-day. However, the day may be 
distant, for Butler wrote only for people who have learned to use 
their minds. His greatest work was his posthumous novel. 
The Way of All Flesh — a study of modern English life and 
character, more withering, because more true and restrained, 
than anything penned by his famous disciple, Mr. Shaw." — The 
Outlook, April 1^, 1908. 

" Samuel Butler was, in his own department, the greatest 
English writer of the latter half of the nineteenth century. It 
drives one almost to despair of English literature when one sees 
so extraordinary a study of English life as The IVay of ^11 Flesh 
making so little stir that when, some years later, I produce plays 
in which Butler's extraordinarily fresh free and future piercing 
suggestions have an obvious share, I am met with nothing but 
vague cacklings about Ibsen and Nietzsche." — Bernard Shaw, in 
preface to Major Barbara. 

" Many will welcome a cheaper edition of the works of this 
very original writer . . . and it will help to give them the wider 
publicity which they deserve." — The Times. 

" We have often dwelt upon the remarkable originality and 
freshness of Butler as a thinker. He is not for all minds, but 
those who know his powers will agree with Mr. Shaw's hearty 
tribute. " — Atheneeum. 

London: A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.G. 

New Editions of Butler's Works . 

God the Known & God the 

Unknown. By Samuel Butler. Now first re- 
printed from The Examiner. H. 6d. net, postage ^d. 

'[Only now has ' Erewhon ' really dug into the ribs of the human race and its civili- 
zation, turned it upside down and laughed at it. . . . But you should read also the 
serious work of the satirist, who has sought God with every will of humour and 
research."— Clarence Rook, in Daily Chronicle. " This exposition of his system 
of Pantheism reveals another side of his mind from the scepticism of the two Erewhons." 


Unconscious Memory. By samuei 

Butler. A new edition with a 26-page Introduction by 
Professor Marcus Hartog. Cr, S'yf?, 5/. net^ postage Ad. 

" It is nearly thirty^ years since the first edition of Unconscious Memory appeared, 
yet the problem of which it mainly treats is as much to the front to-day as it was then. 
Mr. Fifield's re-issue is therefore very welcome — the more so as Butler's views, after 
temporary eclipse, are gaining ground among scientific men of philosophic habit of 
mind. . . . His theoryhas far-reaching consequences. It involves the attribution of 
some sort of psychical Hfe, not only to cells, but even— as with Haeckel — to molecules 
and atoms. In a word, Butler's Weltayischauung is a pan-psychism — a manifestation 
of spirit through matter — such as is more aud more becoming the philosophical creed of 
the twentieth-century men of science." — J. Arthur Hill in Hiifbert Journal. 

Life and Habit. By Samuel Butler. Anew 

edition with author's addenda, and preface by R. A. 
Streatfeild. Cr. ^vo^ ^s, net, postage ^, 

"This new and revised edition is a welcome addition to the libraries of all who are 
interested in biological speculation. It is a book pregnant with fascinating ideas and 
illuminating suggestions, which are presented with the clear and forcible writing so 
characteristic of the author." — Pall Mall Gazette. ^ " It is only after a generation of 
neglect that the world is coming to recognize that in Samuel Butler it had a writer of 
uncommon power and a thinker of quite exceptional philosophical insight. Because 
he was not dull his own generation hastily concluded that he was shallow. The future 
may be trusted to rectify this error." — Scotsman. 

Evolution, Old ^ New. By Samuel 

Butler. A new edition, with author's revisions, appendix, 
and descriptive index. Cr. %vo^ 55, net, postage \d. 

"Though not a student of nature at first hand, he brought to the examination of 
ascertained facts a power of analysis and interpretation which his dialectic makes 
appear almost superhuman. He delighted in turning an authority's most cherished 
illustrations against the authority himself, a characteristic which together with his 
lucidity and satire places him among the most formidable of those who have opposed 
the Darwinian theory of Natural Selection." — Cambridge Daily Neivs. " Introduce 
purpose, really consciously conceived purpose, into the course of evolution, as Butler's 
vitalistic theories do, and at least one great conviction of religion, that, namely, which 
views the universe as the expression of a Divine Will, comes near some sort of a 
verification." — The Inquirer. 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 ClifFord's Inn, E.G. 

Mr. Fijield's New List 

Castellinaria : 

And other Sicilian Diversions 
By Henry Festing Jones 

Editor of "The Note-Books of Samuel Butler." 

Crown Zvo. Cloth gilt, ^s. net, postage \d. 

In this book the reader renews his acquaintance with Peppino and Brancaccia, 
to whom he was introduced in Di'verstons in Sicily. He is also shown others of 
Mr. Jones's friends, including the Corporal and the Cardinalessa. He is taken 
again behind the scenes of the people's theatres, accompanies the Buffo on his 
holiday, sees the Nascita, and assists at a wedding on Mount Eryx. There are 
chapters about the sulphur mines, Omerta, the Mafia, the Mala Vita ; about 
S. Alfio and those who run naked to his shrine ; about the Passion of Christ as 
performed by the marionettes, and about those who escaped from the earthquake 
at Messina. 

" Is really diverting. Anything more remote from the ordinary machine- 
made travel-book we can hardly imagine. . . . Mr. Festing Jones has felt the 
pulse of the peasants, enjoying unsurpassed opportunities of appreciating their 
characteristic traits. . . . Here is a volume in which Borrow or Kinglake 
might find fifty times more to approve than to cavil at. . . . We do not re- 
member any book on Sicily which has the same contagious gaiety, the same 
sunny bonhomie as * Castellinaria.' . . . Altogether, a most welcome vivacious 
companionable volume distinguished by racy inconsequence and genuine 
pleasantry." — Italian Gazette. 

"Delightfully intimate pictures of Sicilian life, . . . Many of his little stories 
are deliciously unconventional, revealing the Sicilians not as the tourist sees 
them, but as nearly as possible as they see themselves."— Ow/Zoo/^. 

"Mr. Festing Jones has wit, humour, and a most attractive style ... he 
has all sorts and conditions of friends on the island, and he introduces us to 
them in a manner which makes us envy him their friendship.*' — Daily Telegraph. 

Charles Darwin & Samuel Butler 

A Step Towards Reconciliation 
By Henry Festing Jones 

IS. net, postage id. 

Contains a statement of the grounds of their quarrel, some correspondence 
between Mr. Frank Dcrwin and Mr. Festing Jones, letters from Darwin and 
Butler, and a suggestion as to how the misunderstandings arose and may be 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 CliiFord's Inn, E.C. 

3vlr. Fifield's New List 

The Presence of the Kindly 

X^3-tri3,rCfl, By Raymond Taunton. Boards, 2s. net, postage 3^. 

"Its plain, lively, and naturalistic narrative takes one to an English village, 
and there persuasively brings in a queer, supernatural sort of wandering Jew 
with a blessing instead of a curse. The tale is interesting, serious, and 
pleasing." — Scotsman. "Written with . . , Insight and humour.*' — Atkenaum^ 

The Plays of Brieux. By p. v. Thomas, 

M.A., Assistant in French at University College, London, wzpp. 
Cr. Svo, wrappers, zs. net, postage \d. 

Brieux has been called almost everything from " an apostle " to 
"the French Shaw." This study without attempting to give 
him a name, and without intruding too much criticism, aims 
above all at giving a straightforward chronological summary of 
the man's work by means of analysis of the plays from Bernard 
Palissy to Suzette, and quotations from the original texts, with a 
brief account of his career. \Just Published. 

The Little Wicket Gate : An Ex- 
perience Ex Nihilo. By Algernon Petworth. ze^S pp., cloth gilt, 
gilt top, 6s. 

The Little Wicket Gate leads to a finely imagined idealistic Utopia, 
— or perhaps it is a picture of life after death. The problem of 
love is present, but free from the factors of wealth and rank 
commonly involved in romance. The story will attract and 
interest many as greatly as it will repel others. The writer is 
known ; the author is not. {Just Published. 

The Further Evolution of Man. 

A Study from Observed Phenomena. By W. Hall Calvert, m.d. 
Cr. %vo, 328 pp., cloth gilt,*Ss. net, postage i^d. 

In its ten chapters this book treats of " The Cannibal Habit in 
the Male " and the " Law of Population " as modifying to a large 
extent the struggle for existence, and so removing the horror of an 
inevitable and perpetual conflict, and it then discusses the " Lesson 
of History," " The Spiritual Evolution of Society," " The Ideal 
State," and " The Final Goal." [Just Published. 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.G. 

Mr. Fijield's New List 

Henrik Ibsen : Poet, Mystic, and Moralist. 
By Henry Rose, Author of "Maeterlinck's Symbolism." 
Cr. %vo, 1^6 pages. Cloth gilt, 2s. 6d. net, postage ^d. 

" A helpful introduction to the study of the plays."— Totm. " An interesting 
study of the spiritual development of Ibsen." — Athenaum. " Students of Ibsen 
will be grateful to Mr. Rose for his thoughtful and suggestive criticism." — 
Standard. " Mr. Rose does his work extremely w€i\.." —Observer. "Avery 
useful and timely volume. It is a clear and coherent effort to show the 
continuity of Ibsen's development by a skilful analysis of the problem presented 
in every play." — Literary tVorld, 

On the Truth of Decorative Art. 

A dialogue between an Oriental and an Occidental. By 
Lionel de Fonseka. New popular issue. Cloth gilt, 2s. 6d. net, 
postage 2,d. 

" A most notable and remarkable book. . . . Let the reader be advised to get 
it, he will find rich and stimulating food for thought." — Academy. "A spirited 
and piquant criticism of our artistic concepts which deserves and ought to be 
read." — Nation. "A protest against the modern tendency of the people of 
Ceylon, under Western influences, to abandon their traditions in art and in 
life." — Athenaum. 

The Ego and his Own. By Max stimer. 

Popular edition. ^20 pages. Cloth, zs, 6d. net, postage 4^. 

" It must always rank as the most uncompromising attempt to vindicate the 
all-engrossing egoism that is the intellectual basis of anarchism properly so- 
called. . . . This strange masterpiece holds an abiding fascination." — Morning 
Post. "One of the profoundest of human documents.'' — Freeivoman. "It is a 
book even more relevant to modern thought than to its own age." — Athenaum. 

Richard JefferieS : His Life and his ideals. 

By H. S. Salt. New edition. Boards, is, vet, postage 2d. 

"For a true appreciation of Jefferies' work, nothing could be better." Neiv Age. 

New Verse 

The Call of the Mountains. J. E. Pickering. 15, net. 
The Peacemaker : A Play. Dr. Winslow Hall. is. net. 
The Flood of Youth. H, S. Spencer, is. net. 
Gloom and Gleam. Teresa Hooley. is, net. 
Life's Lottery, B. L. ffoUiott. is. 6d. net. 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.C. 

Mr. Fifieid's New List 

Henrik Ibsen : 

Poet, Mystic and Moralist 
By Henry Rose 

Crown Zvo, 156//. Cloth gUt^gilt top, 2s, 6d. net, postage 3^. 

"A helpful introduction to the study of the plays.'' — Times. 

"An interesting study of the spiritual development of Ibsen as seen in his 
writings. All his social and psychological plays are dealt with, and through 
them Mr. Rose traces the consistent growth of his ideas, and emphasizes their 
unity." — tAtbemeum. 

"Mr. Rose does his work on the whole extremely well. He has an 
immense enthusiasm for Ibsen . . . and he records what he has seen soundly and 
lucidly. " — Obsewer. 

"The man's work was to prepare humanity for new and better ideals, and 
though it was necessarily largely destructive it was the duty that lay nearest to 
him. Mr. Rose has admirable qualifications for the task he has undertaken, 
and students of Ibsen will be grateful to him for his thoughtful and suggestive 
criticism." — Standard. 

"An invaluable guide to Ibsen." — Re'vieiv ofRe-vieivs. 

" A very useful and timely volume. . . . It is a clear and coherent effort to 
show the continuity of Ibsen's development, by a skilful analysis of the problem 
presented in every play." — Literary ff^orld. 


Maeterlinck's Symbolism : 

The Blue Bird, and other Essays 

Second and Revised Edition. 
Wrappers^ \s. net^ postage lid, \-clotk, gilt top, zs. net, postage 2\d, 

"An able and suggestive essay, expounding in detail the symbolism of 
Maeterlinck's fascinating allegory. We commend this volume to all lovers 
of the 'Blue Bird.'"— Ti&e Quest. 

On Maeterlinck : 

Notes on the Study of Symbols 

Wrappers, \s. net, postage \\d. \-chth, gilt top, zs, net, postage 2\d. 

" The analysis by Mr. Rose of ' The Sightless ' is even more subtle than that 
■which he gives of the ' Blue Bird.' " — Field. 

"Readers of Maeterlinck will virelcome this new volume." — Standard. 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.C. 

Mr. Fifield's New List 

A Sympathetic and informed study of Woman, Marriage, 
and the Family. 

The Nature of Woman 

By J. Lionel Tayler, m.r.c.s., l.r.c.p. 

London University Extension and Tutorial Lecturer on Biology 
and Sociology. 

Crown 2,vo, cloth gilty i^S pages , 3/. 6d, net, postage 3^/. 

This book is, probably, one of the most valuable and interesting contributions 
to the subject that has been made so far. It will have a quieting and calming- 
influence where bitterness between the sexes has arisen , and it indicates the line 
on which normal and happy life for man and woman is possible to-day and in the 

The English Review says : — " The qualities that have won Dr. Lionel Tayler success 
as a lecturer on biology combine to make his book a profound and valuable study, to 
which it is impossible to do justice in a short notice. It is notable for its calm sanity, 
its sound logic, and the manner in which every statement is supported by proof. . . . The 
whole book is one that no student of modern life should miss." 

The Times says : — " Dr. Taj^Ier approaches the subject mainfy as a biologist deeply 
convinced of the fundamental differences between man and woman, which must always 
keep their spheres diverse. His book is non-technical, easy to read, and contains 
suggestive matter." 

The Irish Independent stLys'. — " Reasoned, forcible, and convincing. . . . It deals 
with every phase of the woman question of the day." 

Agnes Herbert, in Daily Chronicle^ says ; — '* Dr. Tayler takes us far beyond the 
feminist barriers to wider horizons where the biological and sociological student works. 
A very sincere and sympathetic work, which presents its complex subject in as simple 
a manner as so complex a subject can be presented. Wholly untechnical, it should be 
of interest to everyone, even those unused to biological thought," 

The Inquirer says : — *' We hope, earnestly and sincerely, that this book will stimu- 
late fruitful discussion. . . . We believe it will ultimately be realised by all thoughtful 
people that there is no woman's_ movement distinct from man's, and that if one section 
of the community suffers any injustice it is the result of the chaotic ideas and the 
conduct of life which prevail through the community as a whole." 

Socialist Review says : — "It deserves attention by all who are interested in the 
deeper problem of the functional relationship of men and women as co-members of 
society and the human race." 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.C. 

Mr. Fifield's New List 

The Broom Fairies IS" 

By Ethel M. Gate 

Small Crown Zvo, lod pages, attractively produced for gift-bookpurposes, 
decorated brown boards, \s. 6d. net, postage 2d. 

Mr. Fifield strongly recommends these delightfully humorous old" 
style fairy tales by a new young writer — a genuinely original and 
charming successor to Hans Andersen and the Grimms. For birth- 
day or Christmas gift, or for a " reader " in school, the volume is a 
real discovery. 

TJu Field says ; — " The stories are really well told, and indeed it is not often that a 
modern writer of fairy stories so skilfully reproduces the true vein of narration which 
characterised the older authors of this class of book. They are full of pretty fancy, and 
attract and hold the attention of the reader from start to finish." 

The Dundee Advertiser says : — *' Delightful work of exceptional merit," 

The Soul of a Gardener 

By H. M. Waithman 

foolscdp Sm, 1^0 />ages, hrown decorated boards^ 2s, net^ postage -^d 

Healing. Give me a fork, and let me go 

To dig within my garden-plot, 
Then all the things 1 needs must know 
But would forget, are soon forgot. 

'/ hs Saul of a Gardener. 
Katharine Tynan Hinksoh says, in Freetnan's Journal: - " Here iii avolume of 
poems of that delicate and sensitive kind that they may very well be overlooked among 
more assertive things. It is a fragrant book, and conceived on a charming plan. The 
poems are all concerned with garden matters in their seasons. Month by month we get 
the poems that belong to the month. Not merely poems of flowers, but poems of the 
garden of the heart as well. . . . ' The Soul of a Gardener ' is a lovesome book." 

Fatuous Fables 7t^^;IZ 

By Denis Turner (" X.Y.X.") 

Foolscap Zt/o, cloth extra, gilt top^ register and head band, 
2s. 6d, net, postage 2d, 

The Times says :— " Amusing, easy- flow in g/fw^r desprii upon topics of the hour both 
in London and Cambridge. One of the best is ' A Farewell,' ending :— 
' O Liddell and Scott, and Lewis and Short, 

This much I declare b true; 
The happiest hours I spent were those 
I ought to have spent with you.' " 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.C. 

Recently Published 

The Ego and His Own 

By Max Stirner 

Translated by Steven T. Byington, with Introductions and 

Prefaces by Benj. R. Tucker, Dr. J. L. Walker, 

and the Translator. 

Sm, Crown Svo. Cloth, ^2^ pages. Indexed. 
2s. 6d. net ; postage, j\d. (U.S.A., 75 ^^^^s.) 

This unique book is now obtainable for the first time at a popular price in 
English. Published originally seventy years ago in Germany, it made a 
tremendous furore, but being too much in advance of its age the interest 
subsided. A great Stirner revival has taken place during the last fifteen years, 
however, and the book has been translated into all the principal languages. 
In its aim it out-Nietzsches Nietzsche long before Nietzsche's time, presenting 
the philosophy of conscious egoism in its most extreme and relentless form. 
The book, is one of the most remarkable original works in existence, and no one 
seeking to know the best the human mind and soul has brought forth, can 
afford to ignore Stirner. He has no affectations, and is honesty itself. 

The Morning Tost says : *'It must always rank as the most uncompromising 
attempt to vindicate the all-engrossing egoism that is the intellectual basis of 
anarchism properly so-called. . . . The revolving and reverberating glooms 
of his strange masterpiece hold an abiding fascination for the connoisseur of 
style. There is something awe-inspiring in the spectacle of this lonely thinker 
applying himself to the hopeless task of destroying the myriad mansioned 
structure of human society with a small hammer that no suffragist would look 
at and a bent nail for chisel. He asks no help from his fellow-anarchists ; 
the bomb is as senseless and tyrannical in his mind's eye as the policeman's 
truncheon or the king's sceptre or the grace of God — which seems to him the 
worst despotism of all. . . . However, the cold and unconquerable courage which 
has enabled him to press his principle to its ultimate conclusion, has gained 
him many admirers in these latter days. .... To Stirner the Ego is the only 
reality, the only ideal. There is nobody else and nothing else in the universe, 
and when all men can say with him, 'AH things are nothing to me,' then 
freedom will be fully achieved." 

The Free'woman says : "We have laid aside one of the profoundest of human 
documents. . . . Sapient, grey-clad truths follow close pressed one upon the 
heels of another wearing the sincerity of unstudied reflection." 

The Athenceum says : *' It is a book even more relevant to modern thought 
than to its own age, and the power of logic with which its doctrine of a 
complete egoism is set forth has given it permanent importance." 

The Morning Leader says : " He is a proto-Nietzsche, more profound, 
more exact." 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.G. 

The Works of "The Super-Tramp/' 

Songs of Joy, and Others 

By William H. Davies 

Foolscap Svo, cloth gilt, 2s, 6d. net, postage 2d, 

"Mr. Davies can write as no other man." — Morning Post. " If anyone thinks there 
is no fine poetry being written in England now, let him get this little book at once. . . . 
Really there can be no arguing about it." — English Review. " His latest volume is 
a treasury of noble verse, the typical expression of a rare and unique genius." — Black 
and White. "Mr. Davies' poetry is unlike any other poetry that is written to-day. 
It is fresh and sweet like a voicefrom a younger and lustier world." — Daily News, 
" He is that rare thing in modern life, an artist who has nothing to do with commerce. 
His new volume is in every way a worthy addition to his already'fine achievements."— 
T.P:s Weekly. 

Nature Poems, and Others 

By William H. Davies 
T^rd thousand. Grey Boards Series, Is. net, postage l^dr. 

" It has the limpidity of Wordsworth. There is a truth and freshness in the writing 
that is a pledge of the author's absolute sincerity." — Morning- Past "He has found 
himself, and has been divinely gifted with a power of expression equal to that of any 
man of our day," — Daily Chronicle. 

Farewell to Poesy 

By William H. Davies 
2nd thousand. Grey Boards Series, Is. net, postage l^d, 

" William Davies bidding farewell to Poesy I It is not to be thought of. . . . Here are 
sixty pages_ of charming and delicious poetry. Here sounds again that clear, sweet 
note to which nothing, or very little, in contemporary literature can be likened." — 
The Nation (whole page review). 

The Auto-biography of a 

By William H. Davies, with a Preface by Bernard Shaw 
2rd Edition, "^20 pages. Crown 8vo, 6s, Canvas 

" One of the most remarkable human documents ever published." — Morning Leader, 
" His book ought to be read by every adult too old and respectable to turn beggar. It 
is absorbingly real." — Globe. " The autobiography of a poet like Mr. Davies was bound 
to be good." — Daily Chronicle. 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.C. 

Five Unique Works 

Three Plays by Brieux, with a preface by 

Bernard Shaw. Crown 8vo, linen gilt, ivith photogravure, ^s. 
net, postage ^d. 

The book, contains three censored plays by Brieux : Maternity^ The Three Daughters 
o/M. Dupont, and Damaged Goods, and a new version of Maternity. The preface is 
45 pages ot trenchant matter. Every important journal m the British Isles has reviewed 
this book at length. It is indeed one of the few modern books that really counts. Three 
typical reviews are those o^—The English Review: "Every young man should be 
made to read Damaged Goods, every mother, Maternity" ; The Pall Mall Gazette: 
" They are, of course, among the three most moral plays ever written, and all honour 
is due to M. Brieux for having tackled such subjects with so much courage"; and 
Truth : " Mr. Shaw's extraordinarily, even diabolically clever preface is worth reading 
and re-reading." 

Racial Decay : a Compilation of Evidence from 
World Sources. By Octavius Charles Beale, a Royal Com- 
missioner of Australia. Crown ^o, 480 pages, with index. 
Cloth, ^s, net, postage ^d. (Abroad, is,) 

This book is a mine of information on the moral and physical causes and results of 
the artificial limitation of families throughout the civilised world. It is sold below its 
cost to draw public attention to the subject. The Pall Mall Gazette says : — "There 
can be no doubt that this is an extraordinarily useful, passionately sincere, and much 
needed book." The Western Morning News says: "All public men, M.P.'s, C.C.'s, 
guardians, and clergymen, should -have this book and face the facts." 

The New Word. By Alien Upward. Crown 8vo, 
Cloth, ^s. net^ postage ^d. 

No notice or review can do justice to this extraordinary book, a sheer indescribable 
workofgenius. Mr. Gerald Stanley Lee, in theiVgTy Vorh Times, says : " Shakespeare 
might have done it." In the New Age the author is described as "a thinker of 
enormous power.'* The Westminster Gazette says: "It is impossible to do Mr. 
Upward justice by quoting him, unless we quote the whole of the book, because it all 
hangs together and it is all good." Current Literature says; "It is unique in' 
contemporary Literature." 

Egypt S Rum : a Financial and Administrative 
Record. By Theodore Rothstein. With introduction 
by Wilfrid Blunt. Croivn 2vo, 448 pages, indexed, 6s, net^ 
postage 4^/. 

This book is the answer to the pictures which officially pass as the history of Egypt 
under British rule. It shows the other side of th« medal, and it should be read by every 
sincere and honest man. It is documented throughout and indexed. The Daily News 
says:— "It is a piece of sober historical research resting on facts gathered with untiring 
industry and ordered with masterful lucidity." 

Anarchism. By Dr. Paul Eltzbacher. Small Crown 
%vo, cloth gilt, 6s. 6d. net, postage 4^. Six Portraits and Index, 

This valuable work is a r^sumd of the anarchistic philosophy of Godwin, Proudhon, 
Stirner, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Tucker, and Tolstoy, classified under uniform divisions. 
It is thoroughly impartial and very ably done, and it presents in itself the best and most 
authoritative library of international anarchistic thought that has been compiled. 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 CliiFord's Inn, E.G. 

Five Uncommon Books at 3s. 6d. each. 

The Blood of the Poor. By Godfrey Blount,B.A. 

Cloth gilt, gj. 6d. net, postage ^d. 

" We welcome it as the work of a fresh, original, thopght-provoking mind." 
— Sheffield Daily Telegraph. " Mr. Blount's latest book is a fine piece of 
stimulating argument, in its way as complete and as convincing as anything he has 
done." — Oxford Chronicle. " It is a book which thinking men will do well to 
read." — Huddersjield Examiner. " Mr. Blount's solution of our economic 
difficulties is the restoration of peasant industry, making agriculture in every 
sense the highest occupation." — ff^estern Morning Nevjs. 

England's Need in Education. By j. s. 

Knowlson. Cloth gilt, ^j. 6d, nety postage 3^. 

^* Mr. Knowlson'a book should be read by all teachers and educationalists.'* 
— Yorkshire E'vening T^etvs, " A suggestive and comprehensive criticism of our 
educational methods," — The Observer, 

A Holiday with a Hegelian. By Francis 

Sedlak. Cloth gilt, ^x, 6d. net^ postage ^d, 

" Mr. Sedldk's Holiday ivitb a Hegelian ... is an elaborate analysts of (Hegel*s) 
system in 596 * Acts of Thought.* It is a very remarkable book, , , , Here is 
a new speculative talent of no common order, and we shall watch with interest 
its future developments." — Spectator. 

The Camel and the Needle's Eye. By 

Arthur Ponsoiby, m.p. Third Edition. Cloth gilt, ^s. 6d. net, 

postage ^d. 

" It is a sincere and interesting attempt to study without passion or prejudice 
the state of mammon worship to which all classes of the community have 
come." — Daily Telegraph. "It bears on every page testimony to thought 
literally wrung out of concrete experience." — Manchester Guardian, 

My Country : Right or Wrong. By 

Gustave Herve. Translated by Guy Bowman. With 
Portrait. Cloth, gx. 6d. net, postage 3^. 

" A strange and ardent volume, thundering against international strife, and 
announcing in an earnest voice the federation of the w,rld of workers. It has 
qualities in it which will affect the whole outlook of humanity." — Sheffield 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.C. 

The Grey Boards Series 

of original verse, essays, and drama, printed on deckled-edge paper 
in high-class style, and uniformly bound in quiet grey paper boards 
with loose jacket, foolscap 8 vo size. All are 64 pages, except No. 10. 

1. Nature Poems. "William H. Davies. 

znd edition (completing Z5oo). " He is a born poet."— ?"/;« Nation. 

2. Farewell to Poesy. William H. Davies. 

" Pure lyric of perhaps the first rank." — Daily Chronicle, 

3. The Sanity of William Blake. An essay. 

Greville MacDonald, m. d. Illustrated. 

4. Spiritual Perfection. A Socratic dialogue. 

Thomas Clune. (Arthur Ponsonby, m.p. ) 

5. Count Louis. H. H. Schloesser. 

6. The Fallacy of Speed. T. F. Taylor. 

7. Other- World. Harold B. Shepheard, m.a. 

8. Songs of a Shopman. Arthur Hickmott. 

9. The Third Road, and other songs and verses. 

Kathleen Conyngham Greene, znd edition. 

10. Poems by Marjory Mines. 32 pages. 

11. The King's Temptation, and other poems. 

James E. Pickering. 

12. Wishing Wood, and other verses. Agnes S. 


13. Songs by the Way. Margaret Blaikie. 

14. The Secret Things. Margaret Lovell Andrews. 

15. The Poet's Calendar. Margaret Macdonald. znded. 

16. Metred Playlets. W. Winslow Hall, m.d. 

17. Vale — a book of verse. Leonard Inkster. 

18. The Cap of Care. James E. Pickering. 

1 9. The Ballad of Two Great Cities. Harold Williams. 

20. The Strummings of a Lyre. F. Bonham Burr. 

21. Castle Building, and other Poems. Guy Kendall. 

22. The Peacemaker. A Play. W. Winslow Hall, m.d. 

23. The Call of the Mountains. J. E. Pickering. 

24. The Flood of Youth. Sherwood Spencer. 

London : A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.C.