“Statues.” We each had to pose as a statue, suggestive
Yes, we are fighting at last, it appears. This morning as usual, Murray, as usual, in hand, I enter the Caffe Nuovo; Seating myself with a sense as it were of a change in the weather, Not understanding, however, but thinking mostly of Murray, And, for to-day is their day, of the Campidoglio Marbles; Caffe-latte! I call to the waiter,--and Non c'e latte, This is the answer he makes me, and this is the sign of a battle. So I sit: and truly they seem to think any one else more Worthy than me of attention. I wait for my milkless nero, Free to observe undistracted all sorts and sizes of persons, Blending civilian and soldier in strangest costume, coming in, and Gulping in hottest haste, still standing, their coffee,--withdrawing Eagerly, jangling a sword on the steps, or jogging a musket Slung to the shoulder behind. They are fewer, moreover, than usual, Much and silenter far; and so I begin to imagine Something is really afloat. Ere I leave, the Caffe is empty, Empty too the streets, in all its length the Corso Empty, and empty I see to my right and left the Condotti. Twelve o'clock, on the Pincian Hill, with lots of English, Germans, Americans, French,--the Frenchmen, too, are protected,-- So we stand in the sun, but afraid of a probable shower; So we stand and stare, and see, to the left of St. Peter's, Smoke, from the cannon, white,--but that is at intervals only,-- Black, from a burning house, we suppose, by the Cavalleggieri; And we believe we discern some lines of men descending Down through the vineyard-slopes, and catch a bayonet gleaming. Every ten minutes, however,--in this there is no misconception,-- Comes a great white puff from behind Michel Angelo's dome, and After a space the report of a real big gun,--not the Frenchman's!-- That must be doing some work. And so we watch and conjecture. Shortly, an Englishman comes, who says he has been to St. Peter's, Seen the Piazza and troops, but that is all he can tell us; So we watch and sit, and, indeed, it begins to be tiresome.-- All this smoke is outside; when it has come to the inside, It will be time, perhaps, to descend and retreat to our houses. Half-past one, or two. The report of small arms frequent, Sharp and savage indeed; that cannot all be for nothing: So we watch and wonder; but guessing is tiresome, very. Weary of wondering, watching, and guessing, and gossiping idly, Down I go, and pass through the quiet streets with the knots of National Guards patrolling, and flags hanging out at the windows, English, American, Danish,--and, after offering to help an Irish family moving en masse to the Maison Serny, After endeavouring idly to minister balm to the trembling Quinquagenarian fears of two lone British spinsters, Go to make sure of my dinner before the enemy enter. But by this there are signs of stragglers returning; and voices Talk, though you don't believe it, of guns and prisoners taken; And on the walls you read the first bulletin of the morning.-- This is all that I saw, and all that I know of the battle.
Victory! Victory!--Yes! ah, yes, thou republican Zion, Truly the kings of the earth are gathered and gone by together; Doubtless they marvelled to witness such things, were astonished, and so forth. Victory! Victory! Victory!--Ah, but it is, believe me, Easier, easier far, to intone the chant of the martyr Than to indite any paean of any victory. Death may Sometimes be noble; but life, at the best, will appear an illusion. While the great pain is upon us, it is great; when it is over, Why, it is over. The smoke of the sacrifice rises to heaven, Of a sweet savour, no doubt, to Somebody; but on the altar, Lo, there is nothing remaining but ashes and dirt and ill odour. So it stands, you perceive; the labial muscles that swelled with Vehement evolution of yesterday Marseillaises, Articulations sublime of defiance and scorning, to-day col- Lapse and languidly mumble, while men and women and papers Scream and re-scream to each other the chorus of Victory. Well, but I am thankful they fought, and glad that the Frenchmen were beaten.
So, I have seen a man killed! An experience that, among others! Yes, I suppose I have; although I can hardly be certain, And in a court of justice could never declare I had seen it. But a man was killed, I am told, in a place where I saw Something; a man was killed, I am told, and I saw something. I was returning home from St. Peter's; Murray, as usual, Under my arm, I remember; had crossed the St. Angelo bridge; and Moving towards the Condotti, had got to the first barricade, when Gradually, thinking still of St. Peter's, I became conscious Of a sensation of movement opposing me,--tendency this way (Such as one fancies may be in a stream when the wave of the tide is Coming and not yet come,--a sort of noise and retention); So I turned, and, before I turned, caught sight of stragglers Heading a crowd, it is plain, that is coming behind that corner. Looking up, I see windows filled with heads; the Piazza, Into which you remember the Ponte St. Angelo enters, Since I passed, has thickened with curious groups; and now the Crowd is coming, has turned, has crossed that last barricade, is Here at my side. In the middle they drag at something. What is it? Ha! bare swords in the air, held up? There seem to be voices Pleading and hands putting back; official, perhaps; but the swords are Many, and bare in the air. In the air? they descend; they are smiting, Hewing, chopping--At what? In the air once more upstretched? And-- Is it blood that's on them? Yes, certainly blood! Of whom, then? Over whom is the cry of this furor of exultation? While they are skipping and screaming, and dancing their caps on the points of Swords and bayonets, I to the outskirts back, and ask a Mercantile-seeming bystander, 'What is it?' and he, looking always That way, makes me answer, 'A Priest, who was trying to fly to The Neapolitan army,'--and thus explains the proceeding. You didn't see the dead man? No;--I began to be doubtful; I was in black myself, and didn't know what mightn't happen,-- But a National Guard close by me, outside of the hubbub, Broke his sword with slashing a broad hat covered with dust,--and Passing away from the place with Murray under my arm, and Stooping, I saw through the legs of the people the legs of a body. You are the first, do you know, to whom I have mentioned the matter. Whom should I tell it to else?--these girls?--the Heavens forbid it!-- Quidnuncs at Monaldini's--Idlers upon the Pincian? If I rightly remember, it happened on that afternoon when Word of the nearer approach of a new Neapolitan army First was spread. I began to bethink me of Paris Septembers, Thought I could fancy the look of that old 'Ninety-two. On that evening Three or four, or, it may be, five, of these people were slaughtered Some declared they had, one of them, fired on a sentinel; others Say they were only escaping; a Priest, it is currently stated, Stabbed a National Guard on the very Piazza Colonna: History, Rumour of Rumours, I leave to thee to determine! But I am thankful to say the government seems to have strength to Put it down; it has vanished, at least; the place is most peaceful. Through the Trastevere walking last night, at nine of the clock, I Found no sort of disorder; I crossed by the Island-bridges,
So by the narrow streets to the Ponte Rotto, and onwards Thence by the Temple of Vesta, away to the great Coliseum, Which at the full of the moon is an object worthy a visit.
VIII. Georgina Trevellyn to Louisa ----.
Only think, dearest Louisa, what fearful scenes we have witnessed!-- * * * * * * * * George has just seen Garibaldi, dressed up in a long white cloak, on Horseback, riding by, with his mounted negro behind him: This is a man, you know, who came from America with him, Out of the woods, I suppose, and uses a lasso in fighting, Which is, I don't quite know, but a sort of noose, I imagine; This he throws on the heads of the enemy's men in a battle, Pulls them into his reach, and then most cruelly kills them: Mary does not believe, but we heard it from an Italian. Mary allows she was wrong about Mr. Claude BEING SELFISH; He was MOST useful and kind on the terrible thirtieth of April. Do not write here any more; we are starting directly for Florence: We should be off to-morrow, if only Papa could get horses; All have been seized everywhere for the use of this dreadful Mazzini
P.S. Mary has seen thus far.--I am really so angry, Louisa,-- Quite out of patience, my dearest! What can the man be intending? I am quite tired; and Mary, who might bring him to in a moment, Lets him go on as he likes, and neither will help nor dismiss him.
It is most curious to see what a power a few calm words (in Merely a brief proclamation) appear to possess on the people. Order is perfect, and peace; the city is utterly tranquil; And one cannot conceive that this easy and nonchalant crowd, that Flows like a quiet stream through street and market-place, entering Shady recesses and bays of church, osteria, and caffe, Could in a moment be changed to a flood as of molten lava, Boil into deadly wrath and wild homicidal delusion. Ah, 'tis an excellent race,--and even in old degradation, Under a rule that enforces to flattery, lying, and cheating, E'en under Pope and Priest, a nice and natural people. Oh, could they but be allowed this chance of redemption!--but clearly That is not likely to be. Meantime, notwithstanding all journals, Honour for once to the tongue and the pen of the eloquent writer! Honour to speech! and all honour to thee, thou noble Mazzini!
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