This was the last night; probably we should never meet again. The flame of
passion consumed us. She proposed that I should lift her up to the balcony
through the open space. Where is the lover who would have objected to so
attractive a proposal? I rose, and without being a Milo, I placed my hands
under her arms, I drew her up towards me, and my desires are on the point
of being fulfilled. Suddenly I feel two hands upon my shoulders, and the
voice of the keeper exclaims, "What are you about?" I let my precious
burden drop; she regains her chamber, and I, giving vent to my rage, throw
myself flat on the floor of the balcony, and remain there without a
movement, in spite of the shaking of the keeper whom I was sorely tempted
to strangle. At last I rose from the floor and went to bed without
uttering one word, and not even caring to replace the plank.
In the morning, the governor informed us that we were free. As I left the
lazzaretto, with a breaking heart, I caught a glimpse of the Greek slave
drowned in tears.
I agreed to meet Friar Stephano at the exchange, and I took the Jew from
whom I had hired the furniture, to the convent of the Minims, where I
received from Father Lazari ten sequins and the address of the bishop,
who, after performing quarantine on the frontiers of Tuscany, had
proceeded to Rome, where he would expect me to meet him.
I paid the Jew, and made a poor dinner at an inn. As I was leaving it to
join the monk, I was so unlucky as to meet Captain Alban, who reproached
me bitterly for having led him to believe that my trunk had been left
behind. I contrived to appease his anger by telling him all my
misfortunes, and I signed a paper in which I declared that I had no claim
whatever upon him. I then purchased a pair of shoes and an overcoat, and
met Stephano, whom I informed of my decision to make a pilgrimage to Our
Lady of Loretto. I said I would await there for him, and that we would
afterwards travel together as far as Rome. He answered that he did not
wish to go through Loretto, and that I would repent of my contempt for the
grace of Saint-Francis. I did not alter my mind, and I left for Loretto
the next day in the enjoyment of perfect health.
I reached the Holy City, tired almost to death, for it was the first time
in my life that I had walked fifteen miles, drinking nothing but water,
although the weather was very warm, because the dry wine used in that part
of the country parched me too much. I must observe that, in spite of my
poverty, I did not look like a beggar.
As I was entering the city, I saw coming towards me an elderly priest of
very respectable appearance, and, as he was evidently taking notice of me,
as soon as he drew near, I saluted him, and enquired where I could find a
comfortable inn. "I cannot doubt," he said, "that a person like you,
travelling on foot, must come here from devout motives; come with me." He
turned back, I followed him, and he took me to a fine-looking house. After
whispering a few words to a man who appeared to be a steward, he left me
saying, very affably, "You shall be well attended to."
My first impression was that I had been mistaken for some other person,
but I said nothing.
I was led to a suite of three rooms; the chamber was decorated with damask
hangings, the bedstead had a canopy, and the table was supplied with all
materials necessary for writing. A servant brought me a light
dressing-gown, and another came in with linen and a large tub full of
water, which he placed before me; my shoes and stockings were taken off,
and my feet washed. A very decent-looking woman, followed by a servant
girl, came in a few minutes after, and curtsying very low, she proceeded
to make my bed. At that moment the Angelus bell was heard; everyone knelt
down, and I followed their example. After the prayer, a small table was
neatly laid out, I was asked what sort of wine I wished to drink, and I
was provided with newspapers and two silver candlesticks. An hour
afterwards I had a delicious fish supper, and, before I retired to bed, a
servant came to enquire whether I would take chocolate in the morning
before or after mass.
As soon as I was in bed, the servant brought me a night-lamp with a dial,
and I remained alone. Except in France I have never had such a good bed as
I had that night. It would have cured the most chronic insomnia, but I was
not labouring under such a disease, and I slept for ten hours.
This sort of treatment easily led me to believe that I was not in any kind
of hostelry; but where was I? How was I to suppose that I was in a
When I had taken my chocolate, a hair-dresser—quite a fashionable,
dapper fellow—made his appearance, dying to give vent to his
chattering propensities. Guessing that I did not wish to be shaved, he
offered to clip my soft down with the scissors, saying that I would look
"Why do you suppose that I want to conceal my age?"
"It is very natural, because, if your lordship did not wish to do so, your
lordship would have shaved long ago. Countess Marcolini is here; does your
lordship know her? I must go to her at noon to dress her hair."
I did not feel interested in the Countess Marcolini, and, seeing it, the
gossip changed the subject.
"Is this your lordship's first visit to this house? It is the finest
hospital throughout the papal states."
"I quite agree with you, and I shall compliment His Holiness on the
"Oh! His Holiness knows all about it, he resided here before he became
pope. If Monsignor Caraffa had not been well acquainted with you, he would
not have introduced you here."
Such is the use of barbers throughout Europe; but you must not put any
questions to them, for, if you do, they are sure to threat you to an
impudent mixture of truth and falsehood, and instead of you pumping them,
they will worm everything out of you.
Thinking that it was my duty to present my respectful compliments to
Monsignor Caraffa, I desired to be taken to his apartment. He gave me a
pleasant welcome, shewed me his library, and entrusted me to the care of
one of his abbes, a man of parts, who acted as my cicerone every where.
Twenty years afterwards, this same abbe was of great service to me in
Rome, and, if still alive, he is a canon of St. John Lateran.
On the following day, I took the communion in the Santa-Casa. The third
day was entirely employed in examining the exterior of this truly
wonderful sanctuary, and early the next day I resumed my journey, having
spent nothing except three paoli for the barber. Halfway to Macerata, I
overtook Brother Stephano walking on at a very slow rate. He was delighted
to see me again, and told me that he had left Ancona two hours after me,
but that he never walked more than three miles a day, being quite
satisfied to take two months for a journey which, even on foot, can easily
be accomplished in a week. "I want," he said, "to reach Rome without
fatigue and in good health. I am in no hurry, and if you feel disposed to
travel with me and in the same quiet way, Saint-Francis will not find it
difficult to keep us both during the journey."
This lazy fellow was a man about thirty, red-haired, very strong and
healthy; a true peasant who had turned himself into a monk only for the
sake of living in idle comfort. I answered that, as I was in a hurry to
reach Rome, I could not be his travelling companion.
"I undertake to walk six miles, instead of three, today," he said, "if you
will carry my cloak, which I find very heavy."
The proposal struck me as a rather funny one; I put on his cloak, and he
took my great-coat, but, after the exchange, we cut such a comical figure
that every peasant we met laughed at us. His cloak would truly have proved
a load for a mule. There were twelve pockets quite full, without taken
into account a pocket behind, which he called 'il batticulo', and which
contained alone twice as much as all the others. Bread, wine, fresh and
salt meat, fowls, eggs, cheese, ham, sausages—everything was to be
found in those pockets, which contained provisions enough for a fortnight.
I told him how well I had been treated in Loretto, and he assured me that
I might have asked Monsignor Caraffa to give me letters for all the
hospitals on my road to Rome, and that everywhere I would have met with
the same reception. "The hospitals," he added, "are all under the curse of
Saint-Francis, because the mendicant friars are not admitted in them; but
we do not mind their gates being shut against us, because they are too far
apart from each other. We prefer the homes of the persons attached to our
order; these we find everywhere."
"Why do you not ask hospitality in the convents of your order?"
"I am not so foolish. In the first place, I should not be admitted,
because, being a fugitive, I have not the written obedience which must be
shown at every convent, and I should even run the risk of being thrown
into prison; your monks are a cursed bad lot. In the second place, I
should not be half so comfortable in the convents as I am with our devout
"Why and how are you a fugitive?"
He answered my question by the narrative of his imprisonment and flight,
the whole story being a tissue of absurdities and lies. The fugitive
Recollet friar was a fool, with something of the wit of harlequin, and he
thought that every man listening to him was a greater fool than himself.
Yet with all his folly he was not went in a certain species of cunning.
His religious principles were singular. As he did not wish to be taken for
a bigoted man he was scandalous, and for the sake of making people laugh
he would often make use of the most disgusting expressions. He had no
taste whatever for women, and no inclination towards the pleasures of the
flesh; but this was only owing to a deficiency in his natural temperament,
and yet he claimed for himself the virtue of continence. On that score,
everything appeared to him food for merriment, and when he had drunk
rather too much, he would ask questions of such an indecent character that
they would bring blushes on everybody's countenance. Yet the brute would
As we were getting within one hundred yards from the house of the devout
friend whom he intended to honour with his visit, he took back his heavy
cloak. On entering the house he gave his blessing to everybody, and
everyone in the family came to kiss his hand. The mistress of the house
requested him to say mass for them, and the compliant monk asked to be
taken to the vestry, but when I whispered in his ear,—-
"Have you forgotten that we have already broken our fast to-day?" he
"Mind your own business."
I dared not make any further remark, but during the mass I was indeed
surprised, for I saw that he did not understand what he was doing. I could
not help being amused at his awkwardness, but I had not yet seen the best
part of the comedy. As soon as he had somehow or other finished his mass
he went to the confessional, and after hearing in confession every member
of the family he took it into his head to refuse absolution to the
daughter of his hostess, a girl of twelve or thirteen, pretty and quite
charming. He gave his refusal publicly, scolding her and threatening her
with the torments of hell. The poor girl, overwhelmed with shame, left the
church crying bitterly, and I, feeling real sympathy for her, could not
help saying aloud to Stephano that he was a madman. I ran after the girl
to offer her my consolations, but she had disappeared, and could not be
induced to join us at dinner. This piece of extravagance on the part of
the monk exasperated me to such an extent that I felt a very strong
inclination to thrash him. In the presence of all the family I told him
that he was an impostor, and the infamous destroyer of the poor child's
honour; I challenged him to explain his reasons for refusing to give her
absolution, but he closed my lips by answering very coolly that he could
not betray the secrets of the confessional. I could eat nothing, and was
fully determined to leave the scoundrel. As we left the house I was
compelled to accept one paolo as the price of the mock mass he had said. I
had to fulfil the sorry duty of his treasurer.
The moment we were on the road, I told him that I was going to part
company, because I was afraid of being sent as a felon to the galleys if I
continued my journey with him. We exchanged high words; I called him an
ignorant scoundrel, he styled me beggar. I struck him a violent slap on
the face, which he returned with a blow from his stick, but I quickly
snatched it from him, and, leaving him, I hastened towards Macerata. A
carrier who was going to Tolentino took me with him for two paoli, and for
six more I might have reached Foligno in a waggon, but unfortunately a
wish for economy made me refuse the offer. I felt well, and I thought I
could easily walk as far as Valcimare, but I arrived there only after five
hours of hard walking, and thoroughly beaten with fatigue. I was strong
and healthy, but a walk of five hours was more than I could bear, because
in my infancy I had never gone a league on foot. Young people cannot
practise too much the art of walking.
The next day, refreshed by a good night's rest, and ready to resume my
journey, I wanted to pay the innkeeper, but, alas! a new misfortune was in
store for me! Let the reader imagine my sad position! I recollected that I
had forgotten my purse, containing seven sequins, on the table of the inn
at Tolentino. What a thunderbolt! I was in despair, but I gave up the idea
of going back, as it was very doubtful whether I would find my money. Yet
it contained all I possessed, save a few copper coins I had in my pocket.
I paid my small bill, and, deeply grieved at my loss, continued my journey
towards Seraval. I was within three miles of that place when, in jumping
over a ditch, I sprained my ankle, and was compelled to sit down on one
side of the road, and to wait until someone should come to my assistance.
In the course of an hour a peasant happened to pass with his donkey, and
he agreed to carry me to Seraval for one paolo. As I wanted to spend as
little as possible, the peasant took me to an ill-looking fellow who, for
two paoli paid in advance, consented to give me a lodging. I asked him to
send for a surgeon, but I did not obtain one until the following morning.
I had a wretched supper, after which I lay down in a filthy bed. I was in
hope that sleep would bring me some relief, but my evil genius was
preparing for me a night of torments.
Three men, armed with guns and looking like banditti, came in shortly
after I had gone to bed, speaking a kind of slang which I could not make
out, swearing, raging, and paying no attention to me. They drank and sang
until midnight, after which they threw themselves down on bundles of straw
brought for them, and my host, who was drunk, came, greatly to my dismay,
to lie down near me. Disgusted at the idea of having such a fellow for my
bed companion, I refused to let him come, but he answered, with fearful
blasphemies, that all the devils in hell could not prevent him from taking
possession of his own bed. I was forced to make room for him, and
exclaimed "Heavens, where am I?" He told me that I was in the house of the
most honest constable in all the papal states.
Could I possibly have supposed that the peasant would have brought me
amongst those accursed enemies of humankind!
He laid himself down near me, but the filthy scoundrel soon compelled me
to give him, for certain reasons, such a blow in his chest that he rolled
out of bed. He picked himself up, and renewed his beastly attempt. Being
well aware that I could not master him without great danger, I got out of
bed, thinking myself lucky that he did not oppose my wish, and crawling
along as well as I could, I found a chair on which I passed the night. At
day-break, my tormentor, called up by his honest comrades, joined them in
drinking and shouting, and the three strangers, taking their guns,
departed. Left alone by the departure of the vile rabble, I passed another
unpleasant hour, calling in vain for someone. At last a young boy came in,
I gave him some money and he went for a surgeon. The doctor examined my
foot, and assured me that three or four days would set me to rights. He
advised me to be removed to an inn, and I most willingly followed his
counsel. As soon as I was brought to the inn, I went to bed, and was well
cared for, but my position was such that I dreaded the moment of my
recovery. I feared that I should be compelled to sell my coat to pay the
inn-keeper, and the very thought made me feel ashamed. I began to consider
that if I had controlled my sympathy for the young girl so ill-treated by
Stephano, I should not have fallen into this sad predicament, and I felt
conscious that my sympathy had been a mistake. If I had put up with the
faults of the friar, if this and if that, and every other if was conjured
up to torment my restless and wretched brain. Yet I must confess that the
thoughts which have their origin in misfortune are not without advantage
to a young man, for they give him the habit of thinking, and the man who
does not think never does anything right.
The morning of the fourth day came, and I was able to walk, as the surgeon
had predicted; I made up my mind, although reluctantly, to beg the worthy
man to sell my great coat for me—a most unpleasant necessity, for
rain had begun to fall. I owed fifteen paoli to the inn-keeper and four to
the surgeon. Just as I was going to proffer my painful request, Brother
Stephano made his appearance in my room, and burst into loud laughter
enquiring whether I had forgotten the blow from his stick!
I was struck with amazement! I begged the surgeon to leave me with the
monk, and he immediately complied.
I must ask my readers whether it is possible, in the face of such
extraordinary circumstances, not to feel superstitious! What is truly
miraculous in this case is the precise minute at which the event took
place, for the friar entered the room as the word was hanging on my lips.
What surprised me most was the force of Providence, of fortune, of chance,
whatever name is given to it, of that very necessary combination which
compelled me to find no hope but in that fatal monk, who had begun to be
my protective genius in Chiozza at the moment my distress had likewise
commenced. And yet, a singular guardian angel, this Stephano! I felt that
the mysterious force which threw me in his hands was a punishment rather
than a favour.
Nevertheless he was welcome, because I had no doubt of his relieving me
from my difficulties,—and whatever might be the power that sent him
to me, I felt that I could not do better than to submit to its influence;
the destiny of that monk was to escort me to Rome.
"Chi va piano va sano," said the friar as soon as we were alone. He had
taken five days to traverse the road over which I had travelled in one
day, but he was in good health, and he had met with no misfortune. He told
me that, as he was passing, he heard that an abbe, secretary to the
Venetian ambassador at Rome, was lying ill at the inn, after having been
robbed in Valcimara. "I came to see you," he added, "and as I find you
recovered from your illness, we can start again together; I agree to walk
six miles every day to please you. Come, let us forget the past, and let
us be at once on our way."
"I cannot go; I have lost my purse, and I owe twenty paoli."
"I will go and find the amount in the name of Saint-Francis."
He returned within an hour, but he was accompanied by the infamous
constable who told me that, if I had let him know who I was, he would have
been happy to keep me in his house. "I will give you," he continued,
"forty paoli, if you will promise me the protection of your ambassador;
but if you do not succeed in obtaining it for me in Rome, you will
undertake to repay me. Therefore you must give me an acknowledgement of
"I have no objection." Every arrangement was speedily completed; I
received the money, paid my debts, and left Seraval with Stephano.
About one o'clock in the afternoon, we saw a wretched-looking house at a
short distance from the road, and the friar said, "It is a good distance
from here to Collefiorito; we had better put up there for the night." It
was in vain that I objected, remonstrating that we were certain of having
very poor accommodation! I had to submit to his will. We found a decrepit
old man lying on a pallet, two ugly women of thirty or forty, three
children entirely naked, a cow, and a cursed dog which barked continually.
It was a picture of squalid misery; but the niggardly monk, instead of
giving alms to the poor people, asked them to entertain us to supper in
the name of Saint-Francis.
"You must boil the hen," said the dying man to the females, "and bring out
of the cellar the bottle of wine which I have kept now for twenty years."
As he uttered those few words, he was seized with such a fit of coughing
that I thought he would die. The friar went near him, and promised him
that, by the grace of Saint-Francis, he would get young and well. Moved by
the sight of so much misery, I wanted to continue my journey as far as
Collefiorito, and to wait there for Stephano, but the women would not let
me go, and I remained. After boiling for four hours the hen set the
strongest teeth at defiance, and the bottle which I uncorked proved to be
nothing but sour vinegar. Losing patience, I got hold of the monk's
batticaslo, and took out of it enough for a plentiful supper, and I saw
the two women opening their eyes very wide at the sight of our provisions.
We all ate with good appetite, and, after our supper the women made for us
two large beds of fresh straw, and we lay down in the dark, as the last
bit of candle to be found in the miserable dwelling was burnt out. We had
not been lying on the straw five minutes, when Stephano called out to me
that one of the women had just placed herself near him, and at the same
instant the other one takes me in her arms and kisses me. I push her away,
and the monk defends himself against the other; but mine, nothing daunted,
insists upon laying herself near me; I get up, the dog springs at my neck,
and fear compels me to remain quiet on my straw bed; the monk screams,
swears, struggles, the dog barks furiously, the old man coughs; all is
noise and confusion. At last Stephano, protected by his heavy garments,
shakes off the too loving shrew, and, braving the dog, manages to find his
stick. Then he lays about to right and left, striking in every direction;
one of the women exclaims, "Oh, God!" the friar answers, "She has her
quietus." Calm reigns again in the house, the dog, most likely dead, is
silent; the old man, who perhaps has received his death-blow, coughs no
more; the children sleep, and the women, afraid of the singular caresses
of the monk, sheer off into a corner; the remainder of the night passed
At day-break I rose; Stephano was likewise soon up. I looked all round,
and my surprise was great when I found that the women had gone out, and
seeing that the old man gave no sign of life, and had a bruise on his
forehead, I shewed it to Stephano, remarking that very likely he had
"It is possible," he answered, "but I have not done it intentionally."
Then taking up his batticulo and finding it empty he flew into a violent
passion; but I was much pleased, for I had been afraid that the women had
gone out to get assistance and to have us arrested, and the robbery of our
provisions reassured me, as I felt certain that the poor wretches had gone
out of the way so as to secure impunity for their theft. But I laid great
stress upon the danger we should run by remaining any longer, and I
succeeded in frightening the friar out of the house. We soon met a
waggoner going to Folligno; I persuaded Stephano to take the opportunity
of putting a good distance between us and the scene of our last
adventures; and, as we were eating our breakfast at Folligno, we saw
another waggon, quite empty, got a lift in it for a trifle, and thus rode
to Pisignano, where a devout person gave us a charitable welcome, and I
slept soundly through the night without the dread of being arrested.
Early the next day we reached Spoleti, where Brother Stephano had two
benefactors, and, careful not to give either of them a cause of jealousy,
he favoured both; we dined with the first, who entertained us like
princes, and we had supper and lodging in the house of the second, a
wealthy wine merchant, and the father of a large and delightful family. He
gave us a delicious supper, and everything would have gone on pleasantly
had not the friar, already excited by his good dinner, made himself quite
drunk. In that state, thinking to please his new host, he began to abuse
the other, greatly to my annoyance; he said the wine he had given us to
drink was adulterated, and that the man was a thief. I gave him the lie to
his face, and called him a scoundrel. The host and his wife pacified me,
saying that they were well acquainted with their neighbour, and knew what
to think of him; but the monk threw his napkin at my face, and the host
took him very quietly by the arm and put him to bed in a room in which he
locked him up. I slept in another room.
In the morning I rose early, and was considering whether it would not be
better to go alone, when the friar, who had slept himself sober, made his
appearance and told me that we ought for the future to live together like
good friends, and not give way to angry feelings; I followed my destiny
once more. We resumed our journey, and at Soma, the inn-keeper, a woman of
rare beauty, gave us a good dinner, and some excellent Cyprus wine which
the Venetian couriers exchanged with her against delicious truffles found
in the vicinity of Soma, which sold for a good price in Venice. I did not
leave the handsome inn-keeper without losing a part of my heart.
It would be difficult to draw a picture of the indignation which
overpowered me when, as we were about two miles from Terni, the infamous
friar shewed me a small bag full of truffles which the scoundrel had
stolen from the amiable woman by way of thanks for her generous
hospitality. The truffles were worth two sequins at least. In my
indignation I snatched the bag from him, saying that I would certainly
return it to its lawful owner. But, as he had not committed the robbery to
give himself the pleasure of making restitution, he threw himself upon me,
and we came to a regular fight. But victory did not remain long in
abeyance; I forced his stick out of his hands, knocked him into a ditch,
and went off. On reaching Terni, I wrote a letter of apology to our
beautiful hostess of Soma, and sent back the truffles.
From Terni I went on foot to Otricoli, where I only stayed long enough to
examine the fine old bridge, and from there I paid four paoli to a
waggoner who carried me to Castel-Nuovo, from which place I walked to
Rome. I reached the celebrated city on the 1st of September, at nine in
I must not forget to mention here a rather peculiar circumstance, which,
however ridiculous it may be in reality, will please many of my readers.