« PreviousContinue »
must pay him for his lodging there. He keeps a numerous household; but his officers must play with him for their wages. In short, his whole establishment is a compound of splendour and meanness-a palace of marble thatched with straw.
In this upper class, the ladies, if not superior in person, seem far more graceful than the men, and excel in all the arts of the sex. Those of the middle rank go abroad in black silk mantles which are fastened behind round the waist, pass over the head, and end in a deep black veil; the very demureness of this costume is but a refinement in coquetry.
If Naples be “a paradise inhabited by devils,” I am sure it is by merry devils. Even the lowest class enjoy every blessing that can make the animal happy-a delicious climate, high spirits, a facility of satisfying every appetite, a conscience which gives no pain, a convenient ignorance of their duty, and a church which ensures heaven to every ruffian that has faith. Here tatters are not misery, for the climate requires little covering ; filth is not misery to them who are born to it; and a few fingerings of maccaroni can wind up the rattling machine for the day.
They are, perhaps, the only people on earth that do not pretend to virtue. On their own stage they suffer the Neapolitan of the drama to be always a rogue. If detected in theft, a lazarone will ask you, with impudent surprise, how you could possibly expect a poor man to be an angel. Yet what are these wretches ? Why, men whose persons might stand as models to a sculptor; whose gestures strike you with the commanding energy of a savage; whose language, gaping and broad as it is, when kindled by passion, bursts into oriental metaphor; whose ideas are cooped indeed within a narrow circle, but a circle in which they are invincible. If you attack them there, you are beaten. Their exertion of soul, their humour, their fancy, their quickness of argument, their address at flattery, their rapidity of utterance, their pantomime and grimace, none can resist but a lazarone himself.
These gifts of nature are left to luxuriate unrepressed by education, by any notions of honesty, or habits of labour. Hence their ingenuity is wasted in crooked little views. Intent on the piddling game of cheating only for their own day, they let the great chance lately go by,
and left a few immortal patriots to stake their all for posterity, and to lose it.
In that dreadful trial of men's natures, the lazaroni betrayed a pure love of blood, which they now disavow, and call in the Calabrians to divide the infamy. They reeled ferociously from party to party, from saint to saint, and were steady to nothing but mischief and the church. These cannibals, feasting at their fires on human carnage, would kneel down and beat their breasts in the servour of devotion, whenever the sacring bell went past to the sick; and some of Ruffo's cut-throats would never mount their horses without crossing themselves and muttering a prayer. · On a people so fiery and prompt, I would employ every terror human and divine against murder; yet nowhere is that crime more encouraged by impunity. A mattress-maker called lately at the house where I lodged, with a rueful face and a “malora! malora !” “What is the matter?” said my landlord. “My son, my poor Gennarro, has had the misfortune to fall out with a neighbour, and is now in sanctuary.” “What! has he murdered him ?” “ Alas! we could not help it.” “Wretch! were you an accessory too ?” “Nay, I only held the rascal's hands while my poor boy despatched him.” “And you call this a misfortune ?” “ It was the will of God: what would you have ?” “I would have you both hanged. Pray, how have you escaped the gallows?” “Alas! it has cost me two thousand hard earned ducats to accommodate this foolish affair.” “And so the relations of the dead have compounded ?” “No, hang them! the cruel monsters insisted on bringing us both to justice. You must know, one of the fellow's .compari' is a turner, who teaches the prince royal his trade. This vile informer denounced me to his pupil, his pupil to the king, and the king ordered immediate search to be made for me! but the police paid more respect to my ducats than to his majesty's commands. We have now pacified all concerned, except a brother of the deceased, a malicious wretch, who will listen to no terms.” “He does perfectly right.” “Not if he consult his own safety. My Gennarro, I can assure you, is a lad of spirit.” “Miscreant ! would you murder the brother too ?" .“If it be the will of God, it must be done. I am sure we wish to live peaceably with our fellow citizens; but if they are unreasonable, if they will keep honest
cats to acco have comping us
people away from their families and callings, they must even take the consequences, and submit to God's holy will.” My landlord, on repeating this dialogue to me, added, that the mattress-maker is much respected in Naples, as an upright, religious, warm-hearted man, who would cheerfully divide his last ducat with a friend,
290.-FIELD SPORTS, AGRICULTURE, AND TRADE OF THE MIDDLE AGES.
HALLAM. The favourite diversions of the Middle Ages, in the intervals of war, were those of hunting and hawking. The former must in all countries be a source of pleasure; but it seems to have been enjoyed in moderation by the Greeks and Romans. With the northern invaders, however, it was rather a predominant appetite than an amusement; it was their pride and their ornament, the theme of their songs, the object of their laws, and the business of their lives. Falconry, unknown as a diversion to the ancients, became from the fourth century an equally delightful occupation. From the Salic and other barbarous codes of the fifth century to the close of the period under our review, every age would furnish testimony to the ruling passion for these two species of chase, or, as they were sometimes called, the mysteries of woods and rivers. A knight seldom stirred from his house without a falcon on his wrist, or a greyhound that followed him. Thus are Harold and his attendants represented in the famous tapestry of Bayeux. And, in the monuments of those who died any where but on the field of battle, it is usual to find the greyhound lying at their feet, or the bird upon their wrist. Nor are the tombs of ladies without their falcon; for this diversion, being of less danger and fatigue than the chase, was shared by the delicate sex.
It was impossible to repress the eagerness with which the clergy, especially after the barbarians had been tempted by rich bishoprics to take upon them the sacred functions, rushed into these secular amusements. Prohibitions of councils, however frequently repeated, produced little effect. In some instances a particular monastery obtained a dispensation. Thus that of Saint Denis, in 774, represented to Charlemagne that the flesh of hunted animals was salutary for sick monks, and that their skins would serve to bind the books in the library. Reasons equally.cogent, we may presume, could not be wanting in every other case. As the bishops and abbots were perfectly feudal lords, and often did not scruple to lead their vassals into the field, it was not to be expected that they should debar themselves of an innocent pastime. It was hardly such, indeed, when practised at
the expense of others. Alexander III., by a letter to the clergy of · Berkshire, dispenses with their keeping the archdeacon in dogs and hawks during his visitation. This season gave jovial ecclesiastics an opportunity of trying different countries. An Archbishop of York, in 1321, seems to have carried a train of two hundred persons who were maintained at the expense of the abbeys on his road, and to have hunted with a pack of hounds from parish to parish. The third council of Lateran, in 1180, had prohibited this amusement on such journeys, and restricted bishops to a train of forty or fifty horses.
Though hunting had ceased to be a necessary means of procuring food, it was a very convenient resource, on which the wholesomeness and comfort, as well as the luxury, of the table depended. Before the natural pastures were improved, and new kinds of fodder for cattle discovered, it was impossible to maintain the summer stock during the cold season. Hence a portion of it was regularly slaughtered and salted for winter provision. We may suppose that, when no alternative was offered but these salted meats, even the leanest venison was devoured with relish. There was somewhat more excuse therefore for the severity with which the lords of forests and manors preserved the beasts of the chase, than if they had been considered as merely objects of sport. The laws relating to preservation of game were in every country uncommonly rigorous. They formed in England that odious system of forest laws which distinguished the tyranny of our Norman kings. Capital punishment for killing a stag or wild boar was frequent, and perhaps warranted by law, until the charter of John. The French code was less severe, but even Henry IV. enacted the pain of death against the repeated offence of chasing deer in the royal forests. The privilege of hunting was reserved to the nobility till the reign of Louis IX., who extended it in some degree to persons of -lower birth.
This excessive passion for the sports of the field produced those evils which are apt to result from it; a strenuous idleness, which disdained all useful occupations, and an oppressive spirit towards the peasantry. The devastation committed under the pretence of destroy. ing wild animals, which had been already protected in their depreda tions, is noticed in serious authors, and has also been the topic of popular ballads. What effect this must have had on agriculture, it is easy to conjecture. The levelling of forests, the draining of morasses, and the extirpation of mischievous animals which inhabit them, are the first object of man's labour in reclaiming the earth to his use; and these were forbidden by a landed aristocracy, whose control over the progress of agricultural improvement was unlimited, and who had not yet learned to sacrifice their pleasures to their avarice.
These habits of the rich, and the miserable servitude of those who cultivated the land, rendered its fertility unavailing. Predial servitude indeed, in some of its modifications, has always been the great bar to improvement. In the agricultural economy of Rome, the labouring husbandman, the menial slave of some wealthy senator, had not even that qualified interest in the soil which the tenure of villenage afforded to the peasant of feudal ages. Italy, therefore, a country presenting many natural impediments, was but imperfectly reduced into cultivation before the irruption of the barbarians. That revolution destroyed agriculture, with every other art, and succeeding calamities during five or six centuries left the finest regions of Europe unfruitful and desolate. There are but two possible modes in which the produce of the earth can be increased; one by rendering fresh land serviceable; the other by improving the fertility of that which is already cultivated. The last is only attainable by the application of capital and of skill to agriculture; neither of which could be expected in the ruder ages of society. The former is, to a certain extent, always practicable whilst waste lands remain ; but it was checked by laws hostile to improvement, such as the manorial and commonable rights in England, and by the general tone of manners.
Till the reign of Charlemagne there were no towns in Germany, except a few that were erected on the Rhine and Danube by the Romans. A house with its stables and farm-buildings, surrounded by a hedge or inclosure, was called a court, or, as we find it in our law. books, a curtilage; the toft or homestead of a more genuine English