Saunterings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 306 pages of information about Saunterings.
patched that there was probably none of the original material left; there were groups of peasants from the Campagna, the men in short jackets and sheepskin breeches with the wool side out, the women with gay-colored folded cloths on their heads, and coarse woolen gowns; a squad of wild-looking Spanish gypsies, burning-eyed, olive-skinned, hair long, black, crinkled, and greasy, as wild in raiment as in face; priests and friars, Zouaves in jaunty light gray and scarlet; rags and velvets, silks and serge cloths,—­a cosmopolitan gathering poured into the world’s great place of meeting,—­a fine religious Vanity Fair on Sunday.

There came an impressive moment in all this confusion, a point of august solemnity.  Up to that instant, what with chanting and singing the many services, and the noise of talking and walking, there was a wild babel.  But at the stroke of the bell and the elevation of the Host, down went the muskets of the guard with one clang on the marble; the soldiers kneeled; the multitude in the nave, in the aisles, at all the chapels, kneeled; and for a minute in that vast edifice there was perfect stillness:  if the whole great concourse had been swept from the earth, the spot where it lately was could not have been more silent.  And then the military order went down the line, the soldiers rose, the crowd rose, and the mass and the hum went on.

It was all over before one; and the pope was borne out again, and the vast crowd began to discharge itself.  But it was a long time before the carriages were all filled and rolled off.  I stood for a half hour watching the stream go by,—­the pompous soldiers, the peasants and citizens, the dazzling equipages, and jaded, exhausted women in black, who had sat or stood half a day under the dome, and could get no carriage; and the great state coaches of the cardinals, swinging high in the air, painted and gilded, with three noble footmen hanging on behind each, and a cardinal’s broad face in the window.



Everybody who comes to Naples,—­that is, everybody except the lady who fell from her horse the other day at Resina and injured her shoulder, as she was mounting for the ascent,—­everybody, I say, goes up Vesuvius, and nearly every one writes impressions and descriptions of the performance.  If you believe the tales of travelers, it is an undertaking of great hazard, an experience of frightful emotions.  How unsafe it is, especially for ladies, I heard twenty times in Naples before I had been there a day.  Why, there was a lady thrown from her horse and nearly killed, only a week ago; and she still lay ill at the next hotel, a witness of the truth of the story.  I imagined her plunged down a precipice of lava, or pitched over the lip of the crater, and only rescued by the devotion of a gallant guide, who threatened to let go of her if she didn’t pay him twenty francs instantly.  This story, which will live

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Saunterings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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