Frank Leward: Memorials
Part VIII. With Garibaldi in Lombardy
Part VIII. With Garibaldi in Lombardy.
Frank to Bampton.
Dear old B. I take the first opportunity I have had to let you know where I am and what Ive been doing lately. It would be difficult for me to tell you of all that has happened since I wrote last. Im fighting again harder than ever this time in a cause Ive no doubt about at all and Im serving under one of the most splendid men there ever was its a pleasure to help in any way. I had heard a lot about Garibaldi when I was up about here before but I never saw him then. They all told me what a wonderful man he was and about his life and extraordinary adventures and travels in South America and all over. Then when I was in Florence at the beginning of this year I got quiet hints something was up but it was kept awfully dark. I met one or two men dressed up as pedlars in the rooms of some of my Italian page 279friends they were going about enlisting people who wished to join a rising against the Austrians and giving them tickets sort of passports and sending them up one by one to the North. I got one and soon went off to Turin. There I first saw Garibaldi. He was coming out of the Kings Palace with the Marchese Pallavicino who was in prison at Spielburg goodness knows how long with Silvio Pellico you know who wrote the book about his different prisons under the Austrians. Garibaldi had got a loose pair of bags on like a sailors and his red shirt and a sort of Spanish poncio and a big hat like the South Americans wear you never saw such a difference as there was between him and the dressed up swells who were round him. Theres something in his face I cant describe a sort of calm determination mixture of modesty and self reliance quickness and restlessness and repose about it and strong will with a simple kind sort of look as though he wouldnt hurt anything if he could help it. Hes not a big man rather short about 5 foot 8 but awfully wiry and strong looking you seem to be before a giant although hes not big. Every day you get to respect him more and more its more than liking him its a sort of trust and devotion all his men and officers and every one who is with him feels.
I was taken to see him afterwards by Bixio who was in the Crimea as a lot of the men who are with him here were. I believe a lot of them went there to see a little fighting first Bixio was for a long time on board an English man of war and hes a regular sailor so is the general as they all call Garibaldi. He seemed awfully page 280pleased to see me and almost shy and said hed heard about me what it could be I dont know. He said he was awfully glad molto contento he said to see Englishmen come to help but he was afraid some of them would find it rather a rough kind of fighting and the food not very good but he supposed I shouldnt mind as Id been in the Crimea and a lot of other places. He has a most polite way of saying things. I dont mean fashionable sort of compliments but a natural kind of way of making people feel all right. He said he was particularly glad I talked Italian because so few English did and the thing he regretted most of all was he hadnt learnt to talk English properly and it was too late to begin now. I think hes the most perfect gentleman natural sort of gentleman I mean I ever saw.
While he was at Torino his volunteers Cacciatori delle Alpi they are called were collecting about Cuneo. There was a tremendous excitement all over and every young Italian whod got any pluck in him was going either with Garibaldi or volunteering under the Piemontese government at Turin. An old priest came all the way from Venice while we were there with a lot of young Italians of his parish as volunteers the old man had the greatest difficulty in getting there and I was awfully glad to see the priests taking it up because they can do a lot if they will.
Garibaldi asked me to go to Cuneo with him and from there we all set out for Casale. On the way we met the priest from Balzola a tremendous patriot ready to fight himself if necessary. An awfully learned man he wrote page 281Don Mandrino you know and a lot of historical books you should read Don Mandrino if you havnt and he told us all the priests in Lombardy were with us in heart only they couldnt do much till Garibaldi got there and he said we must be good boys and not too Mazzinian. He meant we musnt keep away from Church and do all we could to stop private assassination but as long as we fought honestly and openly all the priests and a lot of the Bishops in Lombardy would be with us. We had a slight brush with the enemy near Casale but it wasnt much and only a few were wounded. It was beastly wet and it was amusing to see the General on the way he had got on for the first time his uniform as an officer in the Piemontese army it kept bothering him all day especially the silver mounted thing on his head kept going from one side to the other at last in a rage he shied it away and put on his old broad hat and his Montevidean Poncio.
It was so beastly wet it had been raining five days we went by train to Biella and got there on the 18th the general was received by the Bishop who would like to have done a little fighting himself. It was rum to see Garibaldi having breakfast with the Bishop next morning. We stopt there two days to get the men in order nearly 3000 of them and went through a lot of exercises and on the 20th marched on Gattinara and found fifty horses there. The enemy might easily have stopped us if they had tried. At Gattinara there was a great supper given to the officers by a tremendous clerical swell called the Archpriest it was an awfully grand supper the best I ever page 282saw I think and splendid wine. The general wouldnt come he goes to bed early and gets up at four so we had a festive time the Italians are awfully good fellows but it didnt make us inclined to turn out early next morning. However we had to and we crossed the river the Sessia. Garibaldi is the most temperate man you ever saw eats precious little and the simplest things and can go without for as long as you like nearly and never drinks anything but water. He often sleeps on the ground in pouring rain in his poncio and hangs his red shirt and it out to dry in the morning and sits looking at them thinking while he smokes cigars thats his only luxury and he does smoke a lot of them turning them round and round in his mouth like a sailor chewing his quid.
The Austrians had bolted over the Sessia and the beggars had broken down the bridge after them which stuck us up for a bit but the country people made a sort of flying bridge so we managed to get over to Borgomanero. Weve got to travel light and the general sets the example we shied away everything except what we could put up in a small bag.
The day before yesterday we got up to Arona and at last crossed the Ticino at Castelleto where Simonetta one of Garibaldis best friends had got a lot of boats ready for us and we crossed over into Lombardy. It was a jolly night with a full moon and we went over as quietly as possibly you could hear nothing but the splash of the oars and jolly nightingales singing I couldnt help thinking of other things. We got to Sesto Calende you know it where the railway is at this end of the Lago page 283Maggiore. The enemy was swarming all over the place and had the railways and might easily have stopped us if they had been up to much.
We are getting recruits in all over. We should do ever so much more only this Piemontese government which doesent seem much better than others is suspicious and jealous of Garibaldi and swells in the army say in a supercilious sort of way "Chi é Garibaldi" as if they didnt know he was worth fifty of them. They promised to have some cannon and a lot of horses to meet us there but neither came and we cant possibly do much without them. However the go of the people makes up for a good deal. We got here last night about 10 o'clock it was a dark wet night again but you should have seen the people. The whole place seemed alive and to turn out to come and meet us. Some on foot and a lot in carriages the rummest looking carriages you ever saw with lights and flowers and the devils own row. Hugging kissing every one especially Garibaldi who didnt seem to care much about it. A lot more recruits have been coming in but theres no guns for them. The people here know what it is to have lived under the Austrians. We expect to have a fight to-morrow so I must conclude this.
We are well off here Im staying in the big house where Garibaldi is the first dry bed Ive had for some time or chance of writing.
Ill write again soon if everything goes right. I should like to see this campaign out and the Austrians kicked out of Italy. Yours old man
Same to the Same.
Dear B. If you only knew how fearfully done up I am you wouldnt expect me to send you a long letter Many thanks for yours. The march of the last two days has been almost more than anyone ought to try to do or else Im getting old and worn out. We marched two nights and a day straight on forced marching here from Bergamo and no rest to speak of. I havnt half as much to complain of as most as Ive had Bango who doesnt seem to mind how far or how long he goes so long as he gets plenty to eat. Hes getting spoilt and when he gets hungry he comes to a dead stop and no power on earth except food can get him to go on. He is a rum un a regular Tartar you should have seen his rude behaviour to his old friends the Italians who knew him and respected him in the Crimea. They were so glad to see him they tried to put their arms round his neck and kiss him didnt he let out with his hind legs and try to bite them. He doesnt care much for those sort of attentions. How the young fellows have managed this last march I cant tell. I believe nothing but their tremendous devotion to the cause they are fighting for could have kept them up.
I wrote at the end of last month didnt I. Weve had nothing but marches and fighting ever since we left Varese and so far I have got off all right. Chiefly I expect because Ive kept near the General and as page 285Ive got a pony Ive been a sort of aide de camp to him.
General Urban with about 6000 Austrians came down on us at Varese the morning after I wrote and our General managed his small army splendidly. It wasnt half the size of the enemys and I dont believe any commander ever made so much of his men and when you remember most of them were quite young fellows almost boys who had never fought before and were excitable Italians their conduct was wonderful. Garibaldi told them to keep quiet and not to fire till the enemy was within fifty yards. I was awfully afraid they would not be able to resist the temptation to have a shot too soon. Lots of them had suffered and seen their families and friends suffering from the cruelty of these Austrians all their lives and now was the first chance of a shot in return and for their liberty and nothing but their trust in the General could have restrained them. They kept as quiet and firm as could be and not till the enemy was right on them and the word was given was a gun discharged. Then they gave it them well all round and the Austrians though they fought well at last made off and right away to Malnate where Simonetta received them and drove them from there. They got off to Salvatore as strong a position as they could wish and were drawn up in the form of a horseshoe and there were only the Genovesi Carabinieri to go against them. These Carabinieri are splendid shots mostly of old Genoese families but the General when he heard how the enemy had taken up their position was afraid his page 286Carabinieri would be cooked so he went off with two hundred men as fast as he could to support them on their left wing and Major Bixio and I were sent to the right and had a tremendous struggle and at last the enemy retired beaten to Camerlata. And we went back to Varese having had enough of it for that day.
The Varesini received us back with even greater joy than before but we couldnt stop long in la Citta dei fiori as they call it, and after one or two other fights on the way we got to Como on the 27th and all the people there rose and joined us. Poor Carlo de Christophoris was our greatest loss. I was very fond of him he had been waiting patiently all his life for this struggle. Once he had been obliged to leave his own country and become a teacher of languages at some military College at Sunbury I think. He was one of my greatest friends in the Crimea and many a night weve sat out talking of jolly scenes on the Thames and all about England and of what his people had gone through in Italy from the Austrians. He told me then of his determination to die if necessary doing his best some day to turn them out. He said he wished for no better death than to die while doing it. He got his wish and was killed fighting splendidly we took two guns from the enemy and we left altogether a thousand of them dead on the field. It all the same seemed sad that he should be killed just as he was flushed with happiness as he saw what he had hoped for so long was really being done. His brother an awfully clever doctor with a big practice has given it all up like a lot of others have to join the ambulance. page 287When he came to his brothers dead body he clung to it for a moment and then with a sort of groan went off to look after the wounded.
Next day the enemy cleared out of Camerlata and we entered. Then Garibaldi went off to Laveno on the Lago Maggiore strongly held by the Austrians that was the first and so far the last repulse we have had. It was far too much for him to attempt without artillery. I and Major Bixio were sent round to the other side of the lake to Istria to get the people to rise and to seize the boats and get reinforcements across the Lake to Laveno. We got one boat off when down came a lot of the enemy in a ship and opened fire on us and we had to get ashore as best we could and set off as quick as possible we were precious near being caught as it was. We came up with Garibaldi at Cittiglio, and I never saw him so put out he was like a lion in a rage foaming about the place Andate was all he could say.
Then we went round again by Como and up to Lecco in boats the people all helping us as much as possible and about a week ago we got to Bergamo. There had been 8000 Austrians there but they went off when they heard we were coming and we nearly caught a lot in the train only they jumped out and ran off. The General did an awfully sharp thing there he seized the station and the telegraph office before the enemy knew we were there and kept telegraphing all over the place as though it was from one of their own generals and got answers back telling him exactly how many men they had at different places and what they were going to do. As page 288soon as we got possession of Bergamo the people rose and formed a national guard. We stayed there three days getting them in order its a jolly place to stay in awfully well placed with splendid views of the plain of Lombardy. You can see this place and right away to Milan you can see the duomo distinctly and there are jolly walks round it under Accacia trees. Then we marched right on here and got in before ten o'clock in the morning.
We were received here with more row even than at Varese. The chief people came out to meet us and the women threw garlands of flowers at us and nearly covered us with flowers as we marched into the town. They were all dressed in the national tricolour it was awfully exciting. They seem awfully pleased to see an Inglese as they call me. They are a fine strong lot of people here and awfully jolly. We found some cannon and ammunition the enemy were good enough to leave behind just what we wanted.
The great secret of Garibaldis success is the way he puzzles the old duffers of old fashioned Austrian generals by the quickness of his movements. Before they know where he is hes down on them and when theyve just found out from their spies hes in one place he suddenly appears in the opposite direction. His cheek is tremendous he generally rides with some of his friends a good half mile ahead of the rest to see for himself where abouts the enemy is and how they are placed and sometimes the enemys outposts are astonished to find come on them not the vanguard of the Cacciatori but the page 289general himself questo diavolo rosso as they call him. Then hes got some thundering good officers. Theres Medici who was with him at Rome in 49 and was all about South America with him and Corrano on old officer of the Neapolitan army and was so disgusted with it he threw it up and besides Bixio theres Cosenz and Arduino and a lot more who understand his ways thoroughly. Peards a rum un an English gentleman awfully pluckey and looks after the general like anything. I must shut up now I am awfully tired I expect well have another scrimage tomorrow near here yours old man
Same to the Same.
Dear old Bam.Here I am and its all over for the present but I suppose I must begin at the beginning. We were pretty nearly smashed up at Brescia or rather near what they call the tre ponti by there after I wrote last. One of these Ponti is Bettoletto Garibaldi marched off there and I with him on the 15th of last month an awfully hot dusty morning and about eight in the morning we came on the enemy who were all about the place and drove them over the river the Chiese and held it although they were much stronger we kept them off. Col Türr an' Hungarian who hates the Austrians like sin had been sent with a lot more of our men to Rezzato a few miles from Brescia on the road to Preschiera and a battalion of Austrians came at them but Türr sent them page 290off and was so excited he followed them up too far and fell into a sort of ambuscade they had waiting for him and he got awfully cut up. However he managed to keep the enemy at bay for some time. Castenodolo the place was called I think Türr lost a heap of men. The Italian army wasnt far off and the King sent a message to Garibabdi to keep firm in the position he occupied and hed come directly. But what position was the question considering we were trying to hold two and couldnt keep either much longer. The General was in an awful stew I wanted him to let me go off to tell the King how we were placed but he sent his son Menotti and made me go with him to Castenodolo. On the way we met Türr badly wounded in an ambulance he was very bad but tried to sit up and sang out viva Italia then we met a lot more wounded being carried off Bronzetti an awfully fine fellow among them—one poor beggar awfully badly hit when he saw the general coming called out feebly viva Gari and died before he could finish it. The General was in a rage for all that when he saw a part of his Cacciatori were retreating but just then up came General Cialdini with a lot of regulars and brought us off safely.
On June 17th I had to go with Major Bixio to Salo on the Lago di Garda an awfully pretty lake and next day the General came and was splendidly received there. On the 19th a steamer full of Austrians came up and we opened suddenly on them and smashed the steamer and the Austrians retired to the Mincio. Garibaldi was awfully anxious to follow them up and drive them over the river and right out of Italy altogether but we got page 291orders from Cialdini to go up and occupy the Valtellina to stop the enemy coming over the Stelvio pass from the Tyrolese side. It was reported the enemy had got 30,000 troops there. We had to set off on the 24th, and after a lot more tremendous marching we got through to Sondrio and to the Ponte del Diavolo as they call it on this side its the Teufels Brücke on the other. On the 27th I went on with Bixio and Col. Medici to hold the Alta Valtellina with 1200 Cacciatori against 7000 of the enemy at least. We had small skirmishes with them every day and now and then a few of them would come within shot of our outposts near S. Antonio. A lot of them went down to Bormio to levy contributions and the people sent to Medici and he went to Bormio with as many as we could spare and the enemy retired without striking a blow. It seems strange we should be able to keep them off like that with much smaller numbers and our men not properly armed while they are but you must remember we are fighting for liberty with tremendous go while I suppose the Austrians dont care very much about it and a lot of them are Italian speaking people and their sympathies are with us rather than against. At Magenta they say when they had to charge the French a lot of Italians who had been put in the front rank deliberately laid down and let the French fire at the men behind. The Austrians are good soldiers but you cant expect them to do much under such circumstances.
As soon as we entered Bormio the Town declared for Victor Emanuele. The enemy was close by at the Bagni nuovi and might easily have come down on Bormio which page 292wasnt defended on that side at all. So the few engineers we had set to work to throw up some defences and the school boys had to come to help and worked like anything. At another place near there I forget the name the priest turned out with all his people to make fortifications and Medici who isnt very fond of priests awfully prejudiced against them had to thank him publicly for setting such an example. Then the enemy went off to the Bagni Vecchi smashing the bridge after them.
The general got to Bormio on the 3rd and I saw him going about with the priest of the place to see the fortifications and have all the enemys strong positions pointed out to him. It was plucky of the priest because they had been under the Austrians so long and not far off in the Tyrol they are all for Austria and we cant be here long to protect them. He had his breviary in his hand with his fingers between the leaves just like Don Abondio is described in the Promessi sposi.
We swarmed out in different directions all over the place. Our army partly made up of boys from fourteen to sixteen some in very ragged dress and some without shirts on or shoes. Garibaldi is awfully fond of his adolescenti as he calls them and says he did more with his boys at Rome in 49 than with the men. He held a grand review of our troops at Bormio it was rum to see our ranks boys without any uniform and in all manner of different dresses and he made them an awfully good rough sort of speech telling them of the necessity of discipline and all that. They are honest hardy good sort of boys and awfully attentive at church. I used to go page 293with them on Sunday because the others wouldnt although I dont understand their religion. Most of the officers wont thats the worst of them. I say its all very well freeing them from the cruelty of the Austrians but if its only to give them up to the devil I dont see what good you do. I told the General so once he only laughed and said all the English were afraid of the devil. It was fearfully cold up there in some parts thick with snow. Bixio got up on a tremendous high rock about the highest point commanding the road to Stelvio.
Its the most rugged country as silent as the tomb and nothing seems alive but the eagles it looks awfully grand and solemn. We were some time making fortifications so as to make it as safe as we could from the enemy lots of the adolescenti working in the snow without shoes. I was sent on with the best shod to Sponda Lunga to see where the enemy was and we were pretty warmly received with cannon shot and nearly got into a mess but Bixio came up round by the left of the enemy and took their attention off us and got on to a splendid position. That was on the 7th I think and next day a lot of Austrian Tyrolese Carabinieri splendid shots came up but we went at them with the bayonet all along their line and I dont know who would have got the best of it when an Austrian officer came over to us with a flag of truce to say an armistice had been signed between the Emperor of Austria and the French Emperor and Victor Emanuel.
By Jove what a rage we were in cursing and swearing not at the Austrians now but at the French. They all page 294say its the French who did it. Napoleon never liked Garibaldi and I dont believe he ever really wished to turn the Austrians out of Italy altogether only to get a little glory and something for his army to do. He nearly got licked over it as it was at Magenta. They say he was pale with funk there. I believe myself he got us sent up to the North to get us out of the way while he was making overtures for peace.
So we had to retire from the Stelvio pass by what they call the horror of Bormio a sort of great rent in the rocks the road is over 8000 feet high they say the highest road in Europe it goes in zigzags through long galleries to keep the snow off and at last I got here up at the North end of the Lago d'Iseo and found the General ill in bed reading Caesars commentaries. It was the peace made him ill more than all hes gone through since we left Cuneo in May.
The King received him well at Bergamo they say but I dont trust that King. He owes a lot to Garibaldi but I dont fancy he cares much about him. With the people the General is more an idol than ever. He has asked me to go with him to Tuscany where they are going to look after things so I suppose we shall start soon. When I said good-bye to Bixio he said we shall meet again soon and every one seems to think there will be/more fighting before long.
Its been hard work but now its over I feel sorry. When it was fine it was very jolly marching through the fine country especially by the Adda. The country there is awfully rich with splendid chesnut trees and a lot of page 295others and a tremendous lot of wild flowers by the river side. I never saw anything like it I think except at St. Helena. The villages used to turn out to welcome us and when we camped for the night the people brought us food and wine and cigars. Then we used to go foraging about the big farms for eggs and poultry and things so we werent badly off on the whole.—Good-bye old man I'll try to write again from Tuscany. Yours
Frank to Mr. Saunders.
Dear Mr. Saunders.—Ive been leading an idle life lately and was very glad to get your letter. It reached me at Caprera where I was staying with Garibaldi. I was there a long time. Hes a curious man I suppose there never was such a one to lead an army or a lot of ragamuffins as we looked all round about in the most circuitous ways and hes got the luck of some one else. We ought to have been smashed up lots of times by the rules of war but somehow we werent. Take the General out of the field and hes the biggest fool on earth. He lets me say anything to him and Ive often told him so and advised him to have nothing to do with politics. When we were marching on Como the first time surrounded by the enemy on all sides and I was in a beastly funk as to what might happen up there comes tearing along on horseback a sort of amazon a fine looking woman though I didnt much care about her face. She said she must page 296see Garibaldi at once as she had most important news. Garibaldi is awfully fond of women and he has a most polite courteous way of treating them a sort of defference natural kind of politeness so although he was fearfully tired and wanted to go to sleep he said she might come in. She said she was the daughter of a Marchese somebody or other and had intercepted some important despatches or letters of the enemy. Garibaldi was excited by the story and I left them together what happened I dont know. She gave him the despatches but whether they were genuine or not I dont know either. When we were in Tuscany after the fighting was all over I saw there was something up he seemed restless and said at last he was going up to the north to get married I couldnt say much except dont so he went. I didnt see him again till I went to Caprera in October he seems to have got married to the lady with the despatches and then left her.
Caprera is the most extraordinary place for any one to choose to live in you can imagine. Its up the North East coast of Sardinia and I suppose take them altogether Corsica and Sardinia are the least attractive places I was ever in. As you get to Caprera it looks like a great granite walled place and I should think it about the most sterile and bleak you could choose exposed to all the winds that blow. Hes built a one story house and hes making a road. A lot of his old officers came while I was there and we had lots of fun he set us all to make a beastly stone wall round the most melancholy looking garden you ever saw. Theres good fishing and page 297we used to sit on the rocks to fish but he wont let you kill any thing on the Island except some wild bulls awful brutes. Garibaldi takes them himself with a lasso like the South Americans keeps a little to eat and sells the rest to a man who comes over for them and brings letters from Madalena.
I dont think Bampton would like the food the cooking is not luxurious awfully rough and wholesome and the wine by Jove. He always drinks water himself but unfortunately he has planted some vines and makes his own wine. Its nearly the only thing he shows pride about. When he gives a glass to a new arrival and asks him how he finds it you should see the faces they make over it. Its a regular old Roman Spartan sort of life he leads. His small bed is bang over a cistern. Another subject of pride are some candles sent him from New York from a place where he worked once making candles.
I wish he was more sensible about the religion of the people he has done so much for. Without it they would be much worse and not half so happy. I keep preaching this to him but he only laughs and says I dont know. Hes got a small stable where he keeps a donkey and I got into a fearful rage when he said to me I call the stable il Vaticano and the donkey Pio Nono after your friend. I told him right out Pio Nono was a better man than he was and if some of his friends had been a little more morally decent Pio Nono would have been the first to help them free Italy from her enemies as he showed he was at one time till he was so disgusted page 298with the heathenish ways of a lot of his so called liberators he was obliged to give them up as any decent person would be let alone a Pope. I made him awfully wild by quoting some of a letter he once wrote to Pio Nono himself in 47 I think. I happened to come across it once when he offered his "sword to his Holliness and his arms willingly to the service of one who had done so much for our country and our Church" and how it "would be a privilege if he was allowed to offer his blood for the head of the church" those were his very words and he was awfully wild when I asked him why he wrote them if he didnt believe in the Pope. I said "you were willing to do anything for him most submissive as long as he agreed with you and now when your friends have so disgusted him by their conduct and have taken so often to assassination and secret murder that they have obliged him to take a different course you turn on him and abuse him. He might just as well get a donkey and call it Garibaldi only he wouldnt be such a fool or he might call his stables Caprera only most likely theyd be a great deal more decent to live in. "We had a regular row and he told me Id better go if I didnt like it and I said I wouldnt so he walked off. He came back afterwards and shook hands and said I didnt know all and I told him to stick to fighting and there was lots to be done yet and not bother about politics or the Pope and the priests would be his best friends as they were in Lombardy.
When I was in Rome they took me to see the Pope and I dont think I ever saw such a kind benevolent page 299looking man anywhere. He was awfully civil to me and said he liked to see Englishmen especially if they talked Italian. He was writing away in a little room like an office with a snuf box in his hand. Of course I dont mean to change I dont believe in changing but if anything could make me it would be the looks of the old Pope.
Poor old chief though hes had enough to bother him without me making it worse. I shall never forget it when he heard that Nice was to be given up to France. Its his birthplace you know. It was a mixture of sorrow and the most tremendous tearing rage like a wounded lion to think that after all hes done for Italy his own place in his own country is to be given away and he as he said to be a stranger in Italy. He went up to Turin to have a go at Cavour for doing it but hes no good in politics they say he cant speak a bit its not his line.
There will be more work for us to do directly and were quite ready. Garibaldi has been asked by a lot of people in Palermo to come and help them and were off there in a few days. He doesnt care twopence for the King. Victor Emanuel pretends hes got nothing to do with it but whatever Garibaldi does he does for the King and Victor Emanuel is precious glad to get the benefit of it as he was in Lombardy. Bixios here again and lots of the old Cacciatori are collecting near here at Quarto and we shall have some excitement in a day or two.
I did think you and Bampton would have been able page 300to come out here last Autumn I was awfully disappointed. At Christmas I took a walk by myself from here to Nice along the Riviera its splendid scenery most of the way especially along the Corniche road right up sometimes overlooking the Mediterranean and with palm trees and orange and lemon groves all along. I slept at a lot of curious old towns you would have liked them—Ventimiglia Mentone Monaco and a lot more. Monaco is the most curious of all built on a bit of land high up jutting out in the sea and the waves beating all round and a beastly old Palace takes up nearly half of it where the Prince lives hes an absolute monarch there. Id got my Cacciatore dress on and was awfully well received all along as though I was a sort of hero especially by the women. I came back from Nice in an open boat with a boy it was awfully rough and I thought we were done for once or twice however we managed to get in all right.
I wish you would write soon though I dont know where I shall be or what may happen next month—Yours very affectionately
Mr. Saunders to Frank.
My Dear Frank I am indeed sorry I have not been able to join you in Italy but if the truth must be told I am getting old and I have not been much accustomed to travel on the Continent. I have only been to the ordinary places in Switzerland and the Italian lakes, and page 301though I have few greater pleasures now than reading Italian I have found when I have attempted to speak that language my efforts have not been very successful. Bampton talks both in French and Italian as he does everything else excellently well but he couldnt come. On his usual visit to me at the end of August he was worn out with work on circuit and I could see any further mental, or even physical strain would be too much for him. Sometimes I think he will have to take a prolonged holiday. To his active mind the idea is intolerable. The repugnance to it comes a good deal from the dread lest rivals in his profession should get his work, such an apprehension would spoil the enjoyment of any holiday beyond the limits of the long vacation.
As it was, after he had rested quietly here for some time in perfect repose, we managed to take a short walking tour through some of the old Midland towns, and most thoroughly enjoyed it. You get far more peaceful holidays in such old world places than in all the busy resorts where tourists most abound seeking for pleasure and often failing to find much of it. At Warwick with its old almshouses at Kenilworth where we read Sir Walter again, at Ludlow where we stayed at the Feathers the most perfect specimen of an old English hostel, at the Raven at Shrewsbury we luxuriated in old memories and quaint houses. We even saw the very tree from whose branches Owen Glendower watched the battle of Shrewsbury.
We thought much of you all the time and of the day now we hope not far off when you, after all these years page 302of wandering and adventures, will return to England, and we shall have you as the companion of our rambles. But you must be quick my boy for old Saunders is really getting old now and he would like to have you somewhere near him when the lamp burns dim and the forces of life are failing. So do be careful and do not expose yourself unnecessarily. I see by my weekly paper you must be in the very thick of it again fighting against enormous odds and I fear your ranks have been terribly cut up by mercenary troops in Sicily.
But what a glorious fight it is you are engaged in; even to end all there would be a hero's end indeed, better than "a dull stale bed." It is those you would leave behind would be the loosers, and I have a sort of presentiment you are in greater danger than ever. Sometimes when I think of what you have done in Northern Italy and are doing in the South battling tyrants and letting in the free air of liberty, the true air of Heaven, to be breathed by people who when once they enjoy it will never suffer it to be taken from them again, it seems to me there can be no work so glorious as that. How it rises above wars that are waged for vulgar conquest, as a high and noble principle of action rises above brute force. When I consider all this I feel I could almost come out myself and old as I am try to wield a musket. Only I am afraid when I was really face to face with the foe I might act like Horatius at Philippi and run away. Things are very stirring to read about and grow enthusiastic over at home at the fire side or sitting under a honeysuckle covered porch, but to have to sleep out in page 303the rain all night, with the chance of a bayonet coming through you in the morning, or a bullet between your ribs, it so alters the complexion of things.
"When I Achilles hear upon the stage
Speak honour and the greatness of his soul
Methinks I too could on a Phrygian spear
Run boldly and make tales for after times.
But when we come to act it in the deed,
Death mars this bravery, and the ugly fears
Of th' other world sit on the proudest brow
And boasting valour looseth his red cheek."
Now tell me who wrote that.
Talk about Homeric heroes beating a town to pieces because one little woman had been run away with by a man who happened to be a King's son, whats that compared to fighting for liberty and for all that enobles us and raises us from narrow minded slaves into self governing thinking acting men. Had your campaign been fought two thousand years ago and had you a bard such as Agamemnon had how would the deeds of your chief, of your friends, of yourself been handed down to all posterity.
"It seems so lovely what our fathers did
And what we do, as it was to them
Toilsome and incomplete."
Write again at once or at least on the first reasonable opportunity either to me or Bampton. It doesnt matter much which for we both see whatever you write.
I think Bampton will come to see you in the Autumn page 304if you are still in Italia would that I could come too. I must wait behind to welcome you both back to my cottage, and when I do that it will be one of my very happy days.
Farewell for the present my dear old pupil. Yours very affectionately
A. M. Saunders.