Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeEssaysGaribaldi's Worshippers
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Garibaldi's Worshippers Post by :iainjc Category :Essays Author :Charles Lever Date :July 2011 Read :3593

Click below to download : Garibaldi's Worshippers (Format : PDF)

Garibaldi's Worshippers

The road from Genoa to Spezia is one of the most beautiful in Europe. As the Apennines descend to the sea they form innumerable little bays and creeks, alongside of which the road winds--now coasting the very shore, now soaring aloft on high-perched cliffs, and looking down into deep dells, or to the waving tops of tall pine-trees. Seaward, it is a succession of yellow-stranded bays, land-locked and narrow; and on the land side are innumerable valleys, some waving with horse-chestnut and olive, and others stern and rock-bound, but varying in colour from the bluish-grey of marble to every shade of porphyry.

For several miles after we left Genoa, the road presented a succession of handsome villas, which, neglected and uncared for, and in most part untenanted, were yet so characteristically Italian in all their vast-ness--their massive style and spacious plan--as to be great ornaments of the scenery. Their gardens, too--such glorious wildernesses of rich profusion--where the fig and the oleander, the vine and the orange, tangle and intertwine--and cactuses, that would form the wonder of our conservatories, are trained into hedgerows to protect cabbages. My companion pointed out to me one of these villas on a little jutting promontory of rock, with a narrow bay on one side, almost hidden by the overhanging chestnut-trees. "That," said he, "is the Villa Spinola. It was from there, after a supper with his friend Vecchi, that Garibaldi sailed on his expedition to Marsala. A sort of decent secrecy was maintained as to the departure of the expedition; but the cheers of those on shore, as the boats pulled off, told that the brave buccaneers carried with them the heartfelt good wishes of their countrymen." Wandering on in his talk from the campaign of Sicily and Calabria, my companion spoke of the last wild freak of Garibaldi and the day of Aspromonte, and finally of the hero's imprisonment at Varignano, in the Gulf of Spezia.

It appeared from his account that the poor wounded sufferer would have fared very ill, had it not been for the provident kindness and care of his friends in England, who supplied him with everything he could want and a great deal he could by no possibility make use of. Wine of every kind, for instance, was largely sent to one who was a confirmed water-drinker, and who, except when obliged by the impure state of the water, never ventured to taste wine. If now and then the zealous anxiety to be of service had its ludicrous side--and packages arrived of which all the ingenuity of the General's followers failed to detect what the meaning might be--there was something very noble and very touching in this spontaneous sympathy of a whole people, and so Garibaldi felt it.

The personal homage of the admirers--the worshippers they might be called--was, however, an infliction that often pushed the patience of Garibaldi's followers to its limit, and would have overcome the gentle forbearance of any other living creature than Garibaldi himself. They came in shoals. Steamboats and diligences were crammed with them, and the boatmen of Spezia plied as thriving a trade that summer as though Garibaldi were a saint, at whose shrine the devout of all Europe came to worship. In vain obstacles were multiplied and difficulties to entrance invented. In vain it was declared that only a certain number of visitors were daily admitted, and that the number was already complete. In vain the doctors announced that the General's condition was prejudiced, and his feverish state increased, by these continual invasions. Each new arrival was sure to imagine that there was something special or peculiar in his case to make him an exception to any rule of exclusion.

"I knew Garibaldi in Monte Video. You have only to tell him it's Tomkins; he'll be overjoyed to see me." "I travelled with him from Manchester to Bridgeport; he'll remember me when he sees me; I lent him a wrapper in the train." "I knew his son Menotti when at school." "I was in New York when Garibaldi was a chandler, and I was always asking for his candles;" such and suchlike were the claims which would not be denied. At last the infliction became insupportable. Some nights of unusual pain and suffering required that every precaution against excitement should be taken, and measures were accordingly concerted how visitors should be totally excluded. There was this difficulty in the matter, that it might fall at this precise moment some person of real consequence might have, or some one whose presence Garibaldi would really have been well pleased to enjoy. All these considerations were, however, postponed to the patient's safety, and an order was sent to the several hotels where strangers usually stopped to announce that Garibaldi could not be seen.

"There is a story," said my companion, "which I have heard more than once of this period, but for whose authenticity I will certainly not vouch. _Se non vero e' ben trovato_, as regards the circumstance. It was said that a party of English ladies had arrived at the chief hotel, having come as a deputation from some heaven-knows-what association in England, to see the General, and make their own report on his health, his appearance, and what they deemed his prospect of perfect recovery. They had come a very long journey, endured a considerable share of fatigues and certain police attentions, which are not exactly what are called amenities. They had come, besides, on an errand which might warrant a degree of insistance even were they--which they were not--of an order that patiently puts up with denial. When their demand for admission was replied to by a reference to the general order excluding all visitors, they indignantly refused to be classed in such a category. They were not idle tourists, or sensation-hunting travellers. They were a deputation! They came from the Associated Brothers and Sisters of Freedom--from the Branch Committee of the Ear of Crying Nationalities--they were not to be sent away in this light and thoughtless manner.

"The correspondence was animated. It lasted the whole day, and the last-sent epistle of the ladies bore the date of half-past eleven at night. This was a document of startling import; for, after expressing, and not always in most measured phrase, the indignant disappointment of the writers, it went on to throw out, but in a cloud-like misty sort of way, the terrible consequences that might ensue when they returned to England with the story of their rejection.

"Perhaps this was a mere chance shot; at all events, it decided the battle. The Garibaldians read it as a declaration of strict blockade; and that, from the hour of these ladies' arrival in England, all supplies would be stopped. Now, as it happened that, in by far the greater number of cases, the articles sent out found their way to the suite of Garibaldi, not to the General himself, and that cambric shirts and choice hosiery, silk vests, and fur-lined slippers, became the ordinary wear of people to whom such luxuries were not known even by description, it was no mean menace that seemed to declare all this was to have an end.

"One used to sleep in a rich fur dressing-gown; another took a bottle of Arundel's port at his breakfast; a third was habituating himself to that English liqueur called 'Punch sauce,' and so on; and they very reasonably disliked coming back to the dietary supplied by Victor Emmanuel.

"It was in this critical emergency that an inventive genius developed itself. There was amongst the suite of Garibaldi an old surgeon, Eipari, one of the most faithful and attached of all his followers, and who bore that amount of resemblance to Garibaldi which could be imparted by hair, mustache, and beard of the same yellowish-red colour, and eyes somewhat closely set. To put the doctor in bed, and make him personate the General, was the plan--a plan which, as it was meant to save his chief some annoyance, he would have acceded to were it to cost him far more than was now intended.

"To the half-darkened room, therefore, where Eipari lay dressed in his habitual red shirt, propped up by pillows, the deputation was introduced. The sight of the hero was, however, too much for them. One dropped, Madonna-wise, with hands clasped across her bosom, at the foot of his bed; another fainted as she passed the threshold; a third gained the bedside to grasp his hand, and sank down in an ecstasy of devotion to water it with her tears; while the strong-minded woman of the party took out her scissors and cut four several locks off that dear and noble head. They sobbed over him--they blubbered over him--they compared him with his photograph, and declared he was libelled--they showered cards over him to get his autograph; and when, at length, by persuasion, not unassisted by mild violence, they were induced to withdraw, they declared that, for those few moments of ecstasy, they'd have willingly made a pilgrimage to Mecca.

"It is said," continued my informant, "that Ripari never could be induced to give another representation; and that he declared the luxuries that came from England were dear at the cost of being caressed by a deputation of sympathisers.

"But to Garibaldi himself, the sympathy and the sympathisers went on to the last; and kind wishes and winter-clothing still find their way, with occasionally very tiresome visitors, to the lone rock at Caprera."


(The end)
Charles Lever's essay: Garibaldi's Worshippers

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Something About Solferino And Ships Something About Solferino And Ships

Something About Solferino And Ships
Our host of the Feder was not wrong. There was not a word of exaggeration in what he said of Spezia. It could contain all the harbours of France and England, and have room for all the fleets of Europe besides. About seven miles in depth, and varying in width from two to three and a half, it is fissured on every side by beautiful little bays, with deep water everywhere, and not a sunk rock, or shoal, or a bar, throughout the whole extent. Even the sea-opening of the Gulf has its protection by the long coast-line of Tuscany, stretching
PREVIOUS BOOKS

A Friend Of Gioberts: Being A Reminiscence Of Seventeen Years Ago A Friend Of Gioberts: Being A Reminiscence Of Seventeen Years Ago

A Friend Of Gioberts: Being A Reminiscence Of Seventeen Years Ago
Here I am at the "Feder" in Turin--as dirty a hotel, be it said passingly, as you'll find out of Ireland, and seventeen long years it is since I saw it first. Italy has changed a good deal in the meanwhile--changed rulers, landmarks, systems, and ideas; not so my old acquaintance, the Feder! There's the dirty waiter flourishing his dirtier napkin; and there's the long low-ceilinged _table-d'hote_ room, stuffy and smoky, and suffocating as ever; and there are the little grinning coteries of threes and fours round small tables soaking their rolls in chocolate, and puffing their "Cavours," with faces as
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT