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Upon “the gentle shock of mild surprise
Florence, June, 1844.
EXTRACT FROM MANUSCRIPT JOURNAL.
E left Camaldoli at a little after eight in the
morning, and after an hour's steep descent, arrived at a small village called Partina. commenced a long ascent, after surmounting which we arrived at La Verna, in something less than five hours from Camaldoli. La Verna is, in fact, a Hospice, on the summit of a pass leading from Bibiena, Chitignano, and Pieve San Stefano, directly over the Apennines. On the side of the mountain we found the heat of the sun very great; but on arriving at the Convent, we were shown into a room with massive walls, quite shaded from the sun, so that it felt very chilly, and we accepted with delight the offer of a fire, which we soon saw blazing up the capacious chimney. We could scarcely have anticipated enjoying a fire-side in the middle of the day on the 7th of June, in Italy. Immediately on our arrival we were visited by the Superior, who, amongst other topics which he introduced, questioned us about the Queen, Sir Robert Peel, O'Con
nell, the Thames Tunnel, and Dr. Pusey. Of O'Connell he said—“E un uomo di ferro !" After some refreshment, we walked out, and met in the corridor a country lad who had been severely bitten in the leg by an adder, and had come to the Convent for relief. The good brother in the spezeria who acted as leech, examined the wound, but appeared sorely puzzled, and inquired of us if we were “medici ?" We then visited the various shrines and spots of peculiar sanctity in the immediate neighbourhood of the Convent. One of the brethren, and two of the country people, accompanied us. At every altar they knelt in prayer; and in the cave in which Saint Francis, the founder of the Convent, had made his beda dark cave now dripping audibly with water—the silence was broken only by their subdued voices, and the sound of the dropping. In the various chapels, and in the church of the Convent are some very magnificent specimens in terracotta by Luca della Robbia ; finer than any
to be seen in Florence. The position of La Verna is very commanding, giving it somewhat the appearance of a fortress or strong-hold. Its wood scenery is beautifully diversified with rock, affording the grandest landscape studies both in outline and colour; and all about the Convent you catch most picturesque figures of the monks, or of the country-people, in attitudes of ado
We heard the cuckoo and the nightingale all day long ; and the wild broom covered the face of the country for miles with its golden blossoms. Our dinner was very good; with fish from Ravenna, on the Adriatic. We afterwards received another visit from the Superior, accompanied by an aged brother, and whilst they were sitting in conversation with us, the Convent bell sounded the Ave Maria, when the good Franciscans rose—we following their example--and all stood with our faces turned one way in silent meditation for two or three minutes; after which we reseated ourselves at the fire, and continued our discourse. On retiring to rest we found the accommodations inferior to those of Camaldoli, but far better than report had led us to expect. At one o'clock in the morning we heard the sound of a strange kind of drum echoing through the corridors to awaken the brethren to early matins. We rose in good time, and left La Verna at six in the morning, and went to Bibiena, where our carriage met us; and at a little after six in the evening, we reached Florence.
ration before the various shrines and altars.
OME forth! The summer insect now recalls
The intoxicating blaze of festivals, And surnamed of the element of fire, Shines at the lover's hour on wings of
desire : Nor singly shines : here, by Valdarno's farms, * He and his kindred flit in countless swarms. Not as in English lanes and hedgerows damp Glimmers at eve the glow-worm's hermit lamp; But I have read in tales of faery-land Of golden apparitions, band on band Of Elves that dance to their own light, and these Are of them. Look! the corn-fields, vine-bowers, trees, Are constellated; and the darkling earth Mimics the heavens. Can this be insects' mirth? And look again! Their sparks beneath the bushes Mantle by fits in intermittent gushes, Like planets when they set, or play of maiden's blushes. Yes ! 'tis a giddy and tumultuous light, Glittering in very mockery and despite
* The Cascine of Florence.