herself with the guitar. Her ear for music was so correct,
What do the people say, and what does the government do?--you Ask, and I know not at all. Yet fortune will favour your hopes; and I, who avoided it all, am fated, it seems, to describe it. I, who nor meddle nor make in politics,--I who sincerely Put not my trust in leagues nor any suffrage by ballot, Never predicted Parisian millenniums, never beheld a New Jerusalem coming down dressed like a bride out of heaven Right on the Place de la Concorde,--I, nevertheless, let me say it, Could in my soul of souls, this day, with the Gaul at the gates shed One true tear for thee, thou poor little Roman Republic; What, with the German restored, with Sicily safe to the Bourbon, Not leave one poor corner for native Italian exertion? France, it is foully done! and you, poor foolish England,-- You, who a twelvemonth ago said nations must choose for themselves, you Could not, of course, interfere,--you, now, when a nation has chosen---- Pardon this folly! The Times will, of course, have announced the occasion, Told you the news of to-day; and although it was slightly in error When it proclaimed as a fact the Apollo was sold to a Yankee, You may believe when it tells you the French are at Civita Vecchia.
Dulce it is, and decorum, no doubt, for the country to fall,--to Offer one's blood an oblation to Freedom, and die for the Cause; yet Still, individual culture is also something, and no man Finds quite distinct the assurance that he of all others is called on, Or would be justified even, in taking away from the world that Precious creature, himself. Nature sent him here to abide here; Else why send him at all? Nature wants him still, it is likely; On the whole, we are meant to look after ourselves; it is certain Each has to eat for himself, digest for himself, and in general Care for his own dear life, and see to his own preservation; Nature's intentions, in most things uncertain, in this are decisive; Which, on the whole, I conjecture the Romans will follow, and I shall. So we cling to our rocks like limpets; Ocean may bluster, Over and under and round us; we open our shells to imbibe our Nourishment, close them again, and are safe, fulfilling the purpose Nature intended,--a wise one, of course, and a noble, we doubt not. Sweet it may be and decorous, perhaps, for the country to die; but, On the whole, we conclude the Romans won't do it, and I sha'n't.
Will they fight? They say so. And will the French? I can hardly, Hardly think so; and yet----He is come, they say, to Palo, He is passed from Monterone, at Santa Severa He hath laid up his guns. But the Virgin, the Daughter of Roma, She hath despised thee and laughed thee to scorn,--The Daughter of Tiber, She hath shaken her head and built barricades against thee! Will they fight? I believe it. Alas! 'tis ephemeral folly, Vain and ephemeral folly, of course, compared with pictures, Statues, and antique gems!--Indeed: and yet indeed too, Yet, methought, in broad day did I dream,--tell it not in St. James's, Whisper it not in thy courts, O Christ Church!--yet did I, waking, Dream of a cadence that sings, Si tombent nos jeunes heros, la Terre en produit de nouveaux contre vous tous prets a se battre; Dreamt of great indignations and angers transcendental, Dreamt of a sword at my side and a battle-horse underneath me.
Now supposing the French or the Neapolitan soldier Should by some evil chance come exploring the Maison Serny (Where the family English are all to assemble for safety), Am I prepared to lay down my life for the British female? Really, who knows? One has bowed and talked, till, little by little, All the natural heat has escaped of the chivalrous spirit. Oh, one conformed, of course; but one doesn't die for good manners, Stab or shoot, or be shot, by way of graceful attention. No, if it should be at all, it should be on the barricades there; Should I incarnadine ever this inky pacifical finger, Sooner far should it be for this vapour of Italy's freedom, Sooner far by the side of the d----d and dirty plebeians. Ah, for a child in the street I could strike; for the full-blown lady---- Somehow, Eustace, alas! I have not felt the vocation. Yet these people of course will expect, as of course, my protection, Vernon in radiant arms stand forth for the lovely Georgina, And to appear, I suppose, were but common civility. Yes, and Truly I do not desire they should either be killed or offended. Oh, and of course, you will say, 'When the time comes, you will be ready.' Ah, but before it comes, am I to presume it will be so? What I cannot feel now, am I to suppose that I shall feel? Am I not free to attend for the ripe and indubious instinct? Am I forbidden to wait for the clear and lawful perception? Is it the calling of man to surrender his knowledge and insight, For the mere venture of what may, perhaps, be the virtuous action? Must we, walking our earth, discerning a little, and hoping Some plain visible task shall yet for our hands be assigned us,-- Must we abandon the future for fear of omitting the present, Quit our own fireside hopes at the alien call of a neighbour, To the mere possible shadow of Deity offer the victim? And is all this, my friend, but a weak and ignoble refining, Wholly unworthy the head or the heart of Your Own Correspondent?
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.
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