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Generale, such as my eyes don't often behold! A fine ham, and fowls, and a fine piece of cheese, and oysters, and shell-fish, besides apples and olives and chestnuts and Ricotta (curds of sheep's milk) and cream, and Salami (sausages) belle, belle salami, and four bottles of rummo Inglese ; that would be one for each person, you see ; and a couple of barrels of wine. Truly, I should beg your Excellency's pardon for mentioning the dinner before the guests, but it was a dinner to make one's mouth water! Well then, there was Don Gaetano Vardarelli, a handsome man as your Excellency knows as well as I, sitting with his carbine across his knees, and his pistols in his belt, talking and laughing, while he cut up the meat with his stiletto, and drinking often out of a silver cup. He joked and played with one of the women, who answered him back, and drank with him merrily. As to the other woman she neither ate nor drank, and must surely have been a bad woman, for she never opened her lips, and was that ever known to your Excellency that a woman should not talk! Truly there must have been something wrong about her! Who was the fourth guest? Oh, your Excellency, I can hardly speak of him without trembling. If he knew I had mentioned him, I should be a dead man-for it was—your Excellency knows his name. Yes,' and he crossed himself again, and the word came out in a frightened whisper 'the Abate himself-the outlaw-none others.
“Am I sure of it ? Am I sure that I am the son of my mother? Besides, Don Gaetano treated him with great respect. Better than he would have treated your Excellency, doubtless. You laugh! Ah, per Bacco, it is not well to laugh when that man is in question.'
'Go on, my friend, and fear nothing,' said the General, encouragingly. How was Don Ciro dressed ?'
'Like an officer of Gendarmerie, Signore Generale, as true as I live! Yes, in blue pantaloons and silver lace, and armed with pistols and sabre. Heaven knows, I wish I had never set eyes on that man, and may the Madonna grant that I never set eyes on him again! His face is dreadful to behold, and I can't get it out of my head. They say, Eccellenza, that it resembles the face of the devil himself, and that he can change it into three colours ! And his eyes are red, as red as blood. What did he talk about? Why, he never said a word while I was there, not even to the women. One of them, the silent one, who seemed to belong to him, peeled an apple now and then, and gave it
him, and he sucked a little of it, and threw the rest into the fire. He ate nothing, in spite of all the good things on the table, and only drank from his own flask, which he carried in his belt. Sometimes he took a book from his pocket, and muttered something, and sometimes he frowned, and sometimes he grinned, and the grin was more dreadful than the frown! I thought he looked like the devil sitting in judgment; while Don Gaetano, on the contrary, was gay and noisy and-parlando con rispettowas boasting that he was the champion of the kingdom of Apulia, and telling Don Ciro that your Excellency had once nearly fallen into his hands, but that you had outwitted him and escaped. When he said this, the Abate frowned and shook his head. Then Don Gaetano drank the health of Don Ciro, and said he must go back to his own country to-morrow, but would soon return, and hold another meeting at Taranto. Then Don Ciro said something to him, and he looked at me, and asked what I was doing there, and the brigand who had brought me in, pushed me forward, saying, “Here, Signore Comandante, is a peasant from Spinazzola," "Beast of a peasant," said he, “what brought you here?” “Hunger, Signore, and the rain, and the light which burns from the Castle.” “What light?” said he, looking sharply towards the Abate. “Are there others here then?” Don Ciro did not answer, but he shook his head, and that seemed to satisfy Don Gaetano, who asked me again whence I came, and where I was going. “Wherever you like to send me, Don Gaetano mio,” said I, wishing to please him, you understand. "Then go to Barletta,” he said. “You can tell the people there that you have seen me, and that we are on the road to the Abruzzi. But not a word of this gentleman, mind, if you value your skin!” Upon which I crossed myself, and bowed, in sign of obedience. “Now tell me," said Don Gaetano, “what is the English General going to do." "In truth, Signore," I answered, "I heard it said that he was recalled to Naples, and that all his fine cavalry are going there too." "Is that the truth?” and he looked hard at me. “It is what I have heard said, Don Gaetano mio ; but whether true or false how can I tell?" At this the Abate, too, turned his eyes upon me, and my very heart seemed to grow cold and die within me, and when he grinned and shook his head, I gave myself up for lost. But by the blessing of the Saints, no harm came of it. Don Gaetano repeated his orders to me to go to Barletta, and what I was to say there, and then he put his fingers in his mouth and whistled.
Were his brothers there? No, Excellenza, not in the room, but I think they must have been with the women, for I heard loud laughter and singing, and the twanging of a guitar. But as I was going to tell you, Don Gaetano whistled, and one of his brothers came in answer to his call. He was armed too, like the rest, and a tall fellow, as tall as Don Gaetano himself, who said to him : "Giovanni, see this beast of a peasant outside the gates." Then he asked me if I was sure I understood his orders, and I repeated what I was to say as fast as I could, upon which he threw me a couple of ducats and bade me be off. Glad, in truth, was I to follow Don Giovanni out of the room and through the hall where the Comitiva were feasting, and all my hunger was gone before I reached the door. Une vera Babilonia, Signore Generale ! and at every step I was saluted with such compliments as Bestia ! Maladetto! and many other epithets which I would not repeat before your Excellency. Then Don Giovanni marched me across the courtyard, gave me a kick, and said : “Off with you, rascal of a peasant ! and if I catch you here again, it will be the worse for you!” I had no mind to stay for any further civilities, and took to my heels with a thankful heart. What then? Why, then I went straight to the hollow tree to find my ten ducats, and, praise be to the Saints, they were there safe. So now behold me, Eccellentissimo Signore Generale, having performed your orders, and ready to receive as many more ducats as it may be your Excellency's pleasure to bestow upon me.'
Viti was called in and desired to count out the thirty ducats more which made up the sum promised, with a couple added. Two bottles of rummo Inglese completed his felicity, and the peasant retired, kissing the General's hand, and bowing to the ground.
NOTE.- From an unpublished letter, March 18th, 1818 :-'A year and a half ago there was in this valley of Bovino a desperate chieftain, Gaetano Vardarelli ... he fought against the King with such success that the Government entered into a convention, agreeing to pay him a certain monthly sum, Vardarelli engaging on his part to protect the valley of Bovino. . . . Subsequently, the Vardarelli having refused to act according to the orders of the Government, General Church was sent for. ... He said, “I give no opinion as to what has been done; but if Vardarelli does not keep to his convention make him !”... The fellow, when he found General Church was sent against him ... thought proper to obey. ... Vardarelli's sister was one of his troop, and fought as a man, but being wounded in an affair with the King's troops, not being able to carry her away, he killed her to prevent her falling into the hands of the soldiers.'
FIVE ENGLISH POETS.
IV.—THE POETS' LOVERS.
The test of a poet's true greatness, dramatically at any rate, is mainly to be found in his treatment of vital emotions; those emotions, that is, by which the course of the individual life is most deeply affected ; most of all, the love of man and maiden, or man and wife. The subject is one of such vital importance, and one in connection with which impulsive natures are prone to make such desperate mistakes, that it is commonly regarded as too dangerous to dwell upon, in face of the fact that it is a literal impossibility to keep it out of people's heads. It is unwise to shut our eyes to patent facts. Human nature has settled the matter ; and even if the appeal to human nature be denied, it is still perfectly clear that unless the poets as well as the novelists are all locked up, it is futile to hope that young people can be blind to love as a possible factor in their lives. It is well, therefore, that the ideas they do imbibe should be true and serious.
Two of our poets, however, have not had overmuch to say on the subject. Neither Wordsworth nor Arnold had the dramatic gift, and neither of them chose to unlock the chambers of his own heart, unless Wordsworth's 'Lucy' poems are to be regarded as an instance to the contrary, or Arnold's ‘Marguerite' series. Beautiful as the former are, they can scarcely be regarded as the expression of any very strong feeling, and the kind of scholarly emotion after the best and most imperturbable models in the latter can scarcely be dignified with the name of love. Arnold's emotions, as exhibited in his writings, were schooled to a pitch of philosophic placidity, which to less patient or reserved mortals is apt to prove irritating And if • Marguerite 'is cold, “Tristram and Iseult' is positively frosty. Wordsworth's nearest approach to a poem with love for its
central interest is ‘Laodamia ;' and there, admirable as is the teaching of the lines which give the keynote,
"the gods approve The depth and not the tumult of the soul,' the whole poem is characterised much more by gravity than by intensity; there is more head than heart in it.
But with Tennyson and Browning, things are altogether different. With their wide and varied human sympathies, they have between them presented us with what one might almost call a museum of lovers of every possible type: lovers fickle, and lovers loyal ; hopeful, despairing, triumphant, defeated, diffuse, concentrated, indignant, joyful ; lovers like Merlin, the victims of a strange and awful witchery ; like Guinevere, with her great repentance ; like Pompilia, with her stainless whiteness; dramatic studies in which one supplements the other so that the whole field seems to be covered, Browning's greatest powers coming into play just where Tennyson's limitations bound him.
It was observed in a previous paper that while Tennyson's portrayal of certain dramatic types approaches perfection as nearly as may be, the range within which this holds good is not very wide one.
At the same time, its whole scope is within the sympathetic capacities, so to speak, of average folk: we do not feel it any effort to understand how people could feel like that, because we can imagine ourselves feeling like that without any very great difficulty.
Applying this to love-songs and poems about lovers, it means that Tennyson is particularly successful in treating the idyllic and tender, or the superficial and vehement examples, which may be conveniently grouped together under the heading of senti
ental. I am not sure that the word is altogether a fair one, because it is apt to convey a suggestion of unreality, of theatrical claptrap, which is not intended. On the contrary, the emotions expressed are perfectly genuine, and carefully to be distinguished from the unwholesome sham excitement for the sake of effect of the herd of poseurs who selected Byron's worst characteristics to take model by. Tennyson's lovers do not indulge in tinsel heroics ; they do not profess sentiments which they do not feel, and metaphorically present pistols at their own heads with a cheerful consciousness that they are unloaded. Nor on the other hand are they the limp consumptive creatures of the era of Sensibility. But words get so maltreated that classification