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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 261 pages of information about Saunterings.
but who have not gone towards the end of February,—­who daily talk of going, and little by little unpack their wardrobe, as their determination oozes out.  It is easy enough to decide at night to go next day; but in the morning, when the soft sunshine comes in at the window, and when we descend and walk in the garden, all our good intentions vanish.  It is not simply that we do not go away, but we have lost the motive for those long excursions which we made at first, and which more adventurous travelers indulge in.  There are those here who have intended for weeks to spend a day on Capri.  Perfect day for the expedition succeeds perfect day, boatload after boatload sails away from the little marina at the base of the cliff, which we follow with eves of desire, but—­to-morrow will do as well.  We are powerless to break the enchantment.

I confess to the fancy that there is some subtle influence working this sea-change in us, which the guidebooks, in their enumeration of the delights of the region, do not touch, and which maybe reaches back beyond the Christian era.  I have always supposed that the story of Ulysses and the Sirens was only a fiction of the poets, intended to illustrate the allurements of a soul given over to pleasure, and deaf to the call of duty and the excitement of a grapple with the world.  But a lady here, herself one of the entranced, tells me that whoever climbs the hills behind Sorrento, and looks upon the Isle of the Sirens, is struck with an inability to form a desire to depart from these coasts.  I have gazed at those islands more than once, as they lie there in the Bay of Salerno; and it has always happened that they have been in a half-misty and not uncolored sunlight, but not so draped that I could not see they were only three irregular rocks, not far from shore, one of them with some ruins on it.  There are neither sirens there now, nor any other creatures; but I should be sorry to think I should never see them again.  When I look down on them, I can also turn and behold on the other side, across the Bay of Naples, the Posilipo, where one of the enchanters who threw magic over them is said to lie in his high tomb at the opening of the grotto.  Whether he does sleep in his urn in that exact spot is of no moment.  Modern life has disillusioned this region to a great extent; but the romance that the old poets have woven about these bays and rocky promontories comes very easily back upon one who submits himself long to the eternal influences of sky and sea which made them sing.  It is all one,—­to be a Roman poet in his villa, a lazy friar of the Middle Ages toasting in the sun, or a modern idler, who has drifted here out of the active currents of life, and cannot make up his mind to depart.

MONKISH PERCHES

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