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"Through the eyes of..."
William Dean Howells
Naples and Her Joyful Noise
Roman Holidays, and Others
During his lifetime, William Dean Howells (1837-1920) came to be regarded as somewhat the "dean" of American letters. He was a prolific writer of poetry, plays, novels, literary criticism, essays, and letters (of the kind that wind up being collected and published at a later date). He is today still well-remembered by the casual reader for his friendship with and admiration for Mark Twain (see My Mark Twain, 1910) and his advocacy of realism in American literature and his promotion of the young Henry James. Howells also wrote extensively about his travels (Hither and Thither in Germany, Tuscan Cities, Venetian Life) and in 1867 published Italian Journeys, which contains a long passage about Naples. What follows, below, however, is from a later work, Roman Holidays, and Others, published in 1908. It is informative in that he presents his comparisons with the Naples of that year with the city he had visited 40 years earlier.
and Her Joyful Noise
William Dean Howells
We heard the joyful noise of Naples as soon as our steamer came to anchor within the moles whose rigid lines perhaps disfigure her famous bay, while they render her harbor so secure. The noise first rose to us, hanging over the guard, and trying to get phrases for the glory of her sea and sky and mountains and monuments, from a boat which seemed to have been keeping abreast of us ever since we had slowed up. It was not a large boat, but it managed to contain two men with mandolins, a mother of a family with a guitar, and a young girl with an alternate tambourine and umbrella. The last instrument was inverted to catch the coins, such as they were, which the passengers flung down to the minstrels for their repetitions of "Santa Lucia," "Funicoli-Funicola" [sic], "II Cacciatore," and other popular Neapolitan airs, such as "John Brown's Body" and "In the Bowery." To the songs that had a waltz movement the mother of a family performed a restricted dance, at some risk of falling overboard, while she smiled radiantly up at us, as, in fact, they all did, except the young girl, who had to play simultaneously on her tambourine and her inverted umbrella, and seemed careworn. Her anxiety visibly deepened to despair when she missed a shilling, which must have looked as large to her as a full moon as it sank slowly down into the sea.
But her despair did not last long; nothing lasts long in Naples except the joyful noise, which is incessant and perpetual, and which seems the expression of the universal temperament in both man and beast. Our good-fortune placed us in a hotel fronting the famous Castel dell` Ovo, across a little space of land and water, and we could hear, late and early, the cackling and crowing of the chickens which have replaced the hapless prisoners of other days in that fortress. At times the voices of the hens were lifted in a choral of self-praise, as if they had among them just laid the mighty structure which takes its name from its resemblance to the egg they ordinarily produce. In other lands the peculiar note of the donkey is not thought very melodious, but in Naples before it can fade away it is caught up in the general orchestration and ceases in music. The cabmen at our corner, lying in wait by scores for the strangers whom it is their convention to suppose ignorant of their want of a carriage, quarrelled rhythmically with one another; the mendicants, lying everywhere in wait for charity, murmured a modulated appeal; if you heard shouts or yells afar off they died upon your ear in a strain of melody at the moment when they were lifted highest. I am aware of seeming to burlesque the operatic fact which every one must have noticed in Naples; and I will not say that the neglected or affronted babe, or the trodden dog, is as tuneful as the midnight cat there, but only that they approach it in the prevailing tendency of all the local discords to soften and lose themselves in the general unison. This embraces the clatter of the cabs, which are seldom less than fifty years old, and of a looseness in all their joints responsive to their effect of dusty decrepitude. Their clatter penetrates the volumed tread of the myriad feet in a city where, if you did not see all sorts of people driving, you would say the whole population walked.
manifold noises gayly springing to the sky
spreads and swims the clangor of the church-bells and
holds the terrestrial uproar in immeasurable solution.
It would be rash to say that the whole population of
Naples is always in the street, for if you look into
the shops or cafes, or, I dare say, the houses, you
will find them quite full; but the general statement
verifies itself almost tiresomely in its agreement
with what everybody has always said of Naples. It is
so quite what you expect that if you could you would
turn away in satiety, especially from the swarming
life of the poor, which seems to have no concealments
from the public, but frankly works at all the trades
and arts that can be carried on out-of-doors; cooks,
eats, laughs, cries, sleeps, wakes, makes love,
quarrels, scolds, does everything but wash
itself--clothes enough it washes for other people`s
life. There is a reason for this in the fact that in
bad weather at Naples it is cold and dark and damp
in-doors, and in fine so bright and warm and charming
without that there is really no choice. Then there is
the expansive temperament, which if it were shut up
would probably be much more explosive than it is now.
As it is, it vents itself in volleyed detonations and
scattered shots which language can give no sense of.
For the true sense of it you must go to Naples, and then you will never lose the sense of it. I had not been there since 1864, but when I woke up the morning after my arrival, and heard the chickens cackling in the Castel dell` Ovo, and the donkeys braying, and the cab-drivers quarrelling, and the cries of the street vendors, and the dogs barking, and the children wailing, and their mothers scolding, and the clatter of wheels and hoops and feet, and all that mighty harmony of the joyful Neapolitan noises, it seemed to me that it was the first morning after my first arrival, and I was still only twenty-seven years old.
As soon as possible, when the short but sweet Vincenzo had brought up my breakfast of tea and bread-and-butter and honey (to which my appetite turned from the gross superabundance of the steamer`s breakfasts with instant acquiescence), and announced with a smile as liberal as the sunshine that it was a fine day, I went out for those impressions which I had better make over to the reader in their original disorder. Vesuvius, which was silver veiled the day before, was now of a soft, smoky white, and the sea, of a milky blue, swam round the shore and out to every dim island and low cape and cliffy promontory. The street was full of people on foot and in trolleys and cabs and donkey pleasure-carts, and the familiar teasing of cabmen and peddlers and beggars began with my first steps toward what I remembered as the Toledo, but what now called itself, with the moderner Italian patriotism, the Via Roma.
The sole poetic novelty of my experience was in my being offered loaves of bread which, when I bought them, would be given to the poor, in honor of what saint`s day I did not learn. But it was all charming; even the inattention of the young woman over the book-counter was charming, since it was a condition of her flirtation with the far younger man beside me who wanted something far more interesting from her than any brief sketch of the history of Naples, in either English or Italian or French or, at the worst, German. She was very pretty, though rather powdered, and when the young man went away she was sympathetically regretful to me that there was no such sketch, in place of which she offered me several large histories in more or less volumes. But why should I have wanted a history of Naples when I had Naples itself? It was like wanting a photograph when you have the original. Had I not just come through the splendid Piazza San Ferdinando, with the nobly arcaded church on one hand and the many-statued royal palace on the other, and between them a lake of mellow sunshine, as warm as ours in June?
What I found Naples and the Neapolitans in 1908 I had found them in 1864, and Mr. Gray (as he of the "Elegy" used to be called on his title-pages) found them in 1740. "The streets," he wrote home to his mother, "are one continued market, and thronged with populace so much that a coach can hardly pass. The common sort are a jolly, lively kind of animals, more industrious than Italians usually are; they work till evening; then they take their lute or guitar (for they all play) and walk about the city or upon the seashore with it, to enjoy the fresco." There was, in fact, a bold gayety in the aspect of the city, without the refinement which you do not begin to feel till you get into North Italy. When I came upon church after church, with its facade of Spanish baroque, I lamented the want of Gothic delicacy and beauty, but I was consoled abundantly later in the churches antedating the Spanish domination.
I had no reason, such as travellers give for hating places, to be dissatisfied with Naples in any way. I had been warned that the customs officers were terrible there, and that I might be kept hours with my baggage. But the inspector, after the politest demand for a declaration of tobacco, ordered only a small valise, the Benjamin of its tribe, opened and then closed untouched; and his courteous forbearance, acknowledged later through the hotel porter, cost me but a dollar. The hotel itself was inexpressibly better in lighting, heating, service, and table than any New York hotel at twice the money; in fact, no money could buy the like with us at any hotel I know of; but this is a theme which I hope to treat more fully hereafter.
It is true that the streets of Naples are very long and rather narrow and pretty crooked, and full of a damp cold that no sunlight seems ever to hunt out of them; but then they are seldom ironed down with trolley-tracks; the cabs feel their way among the swarming crowds with warning voices and smacking whips; even the prepotent automobile shows some tenderness for human life and limb, and proceeds still more cautiously than the cabs and carts; in fact, I thought I saw recurrent proofs of that respect for the average man which seems the characteristic note of Italian liberty; and this belief of mine, bred of my first observations in Naples, did not, after twelve weeks in Italy, prove an illusion. If it is not the equality we fancy ourselves having, it is rather more fraternity in effect.
The failure of
other researches for that sketch of Neapolitan history
left me in the final ignorance which I must share with
the reader; but my inquiries brought me prompt
knowledge of one of those charming features in which
the Italian cities excel, if they are not unique. I
remember too vaguely the Galleria, as they call the
beautiful glazed arcade of Milan, to be sure that it
is finer than the Galleria at Naples, but I am sure
this is finer than that at Genoa, with which, however,
I know nothing in other cities to compare. The
Neapolitan gallery, wider than any avenue of the
place, branching in the form of a Greek cross to four
principal streets, is lighted by its roof of glass,
and a hundred brilliant shops and cafes spread their
business and leisure over its marble floor. Nothing
could be architecturally more cheerful, and, if it
were not too hot in summer, there could be no doubt of
its adaptation to our year, for it could be easily
closed against the winter by great portals, and at
other seasons would give that out-door expansion which
in Latin countries hospitably offers the spectacle of
pleasant eating and drinking to people who have
nothing to eat and drink. These spectators could be
kept at a distance with us by porters at the
entrances, while they would not be altogether deprived
of the gratifying glimpses.
I do not know whether poverty avails itself of its privileges by visiting the Neapolitan gallery; but probably, like poverty elsewhere, it is too much interested by the drama of life in its own quarter ever willingly to leave it. Poverty is very conservative, for reasons more than one; its quarter in Naples is the oldest, and was the most responsive to our recollections of the Naples of 1864. Overhead the houses tower and beetle with their balconies and bulging casements, shutting the sun, except at noon, from the squalor below, where the varied dwellers bargain and battle and ply their different trades, bringing their work from the dusk of cavernous shops to their doorways for the advantage of the prevailing twilight. Carpentry and tailoring and painting and plumbing, locksmithing and copper-smithing go on there, touching elbows with frying and feeding, and the vending of all the strange and hideous forms of flesh, fish, and fowl. If you wish to know how much the tentacle of a small polyp is worth you may chance to see a cent pass for it from the crone who buys to the boy who sells it smoking from the kettle; but the price of cooked cabbage or pumpkin must remain a mystery, along with that of many raw vegetables and the more revolting viscera of the less-recognizable animals.
The poor people worming in and out around your cab are very patient of your progress over the terrible floor of their crooked thoroughfare, perhaps because they reciprocate your curiosity, and perhaps because they are very amiable and not very sensitive. They are not always crowded into these dismal chasms; their quarter expands here and there into market-plates, like the fish-market where the uprising of the fisherman Masaniello against the Spaniards fitly took place; and the Jewish market-place, where the poor young Corradino, last of the imperial Hohenstaufen line, was less appropriately beheaded by the Angevines. The open spaces are not less loathsome than the reeking alleys, but if you have the intelligent guide we had you approach them through the triumphal arch by which Charles V. entered Naples, and that is something. Yet we will now talk less of the emperor than of the guide, who appealed more to my sympathy.
He had been six years in America, which he adored, because, he said, he had got work and earned his living there the very day he landed. That was in Boston, where he turned his hand first to one thing and then another, and came away at last through some call home, honoring and loving the Americans as the kindest, the noblest, the friendliest people in the world. I tried, politely, to persuade him that we were not all of us all he thought us, but he would not yield, and at one place he generously claimed a pre-eminence in wickedness for his fellow-Neapolitans.
That was when we came to a vast, sorrowful prison, from which an iron cage projected into the street. Around this cage wretched women and children and old men clustered till the prisoners dear to them were let into it from the jail and allowed to speak with them. The scene was as public as all of life and death is in Naples, and the publicity seemed to give it peculiar sadness, which I noted to our guide. He owned its pathos; "but," he said, "you know we have a terrible class of people here in Naples." I protested that there were terrible classes of people everywhere, even in America. He would not consent entirely, but in partly convincing each other we became better friends. He had a large black mustache and gentle black eyes, and he spoke very fair English, which, when he wished to be most impressive, he dropped and used a very literary Italian instead. He showed us where he lived, on a hill-top back of our gardened quay, and said that he paid twelve dollars a month for a tenement of five rooms there.
compulsory in Naples, but he sends his boy willingly,
and has him especially study English as the best
provision he can make for him, as heir of his own
calling of cicerone, perhaps. He has a little farm at
Ravello, which he tills when it is past the season for
cultivating foreigners in Naples; he expects to spend
his old age there; and I thought it not a bad lookout.
He was perfectly well-mannered, and at a hotel where
we stopped for tea he took his coffee at our table
unbidden, like any American fellow-man. He and the
landlord had their joke together, the landlord warning
me against him in English as "very bad man," and
clapping him affectionately on the shoulder to
emphasize the irony. We did not demand too much social
information of him; all the more we valued the
gratuitous fact that the Neapolitan nobles were now
rather poor, because they preferred a life of pleasure
to a life of business. I could have told him that the
American nobles were increasingly like them in their
love of pleasure, but I would not have known how to
explain that they were not poor also. He was himself a
moderate in politics, but he told us, what seems to be
the fact everywhere in Italy, that singly the largest
party in Naples is the Socialist party.
He went with me first one day to the beautiful old Church of Santa Chiara, to show me the Angevine tombs there, in which I satisfied a secret, lingering love for the Gothic; and then to the cathedral, where the sacristan showed us everything but the blood of St. Januarius, perhaps because it was not then in the act of liquefying; but I am thankful to say I saw one of his finger-bones. My guide had made me observe how several of the churches on the way to this were built on the sites and of the remnants of pagan temples, and he summoned the world-old sacristan of St. Januarius to show us evidences of a rival antiquity in the crypt; for it had begun as a temple of Neptune. The sacristan practically lived in those depths and the chill sanctuary above them, and-he was so full of rheumatism that you could almost hear it creak as he walked; yet he was a cheerful sage, and satisfied with the fee which my guide gave him and which he made small, as he explained, that the sacristan might not be discontented with future largesse. I need not say that each church we visited had its tutelary beggar, and that my happy youth came back to me in the blindness of one, or the mutilation of another, or the haggish wrinkles of a third. At Santa Chiara I could not at first make out what it was which caused my heart to rejoice so; but then I found that it was because the church was closed, and we had to go and dig a torpid monk out of his crevice in a cold, many-storied cliff near by, and get him to come and open it, just as I used, with the help of neighbors, to do in the past.
Our day ended at sunset--a sunset of watermelon red--with a visit to the Castel Nuovo, where my guide found himself at home with the garrison, because, as he explained, he had served his term as a soldier. He was the born friend of the custodian of the castle church, which was the most comfortable church for warmth we had visited, and to which we entered by the bronze gates of the triumphal arch raised in honor of the Aragonese victory over the Angevines in 1442, when this New Castle was newer than it is now. The bronze gates record in bas-relief the battles between the French and Spanish powers in their quarrel over the people one or other must make its prey; but whether it was to the greater advantage of the Neapolitans to be battened on by the house of Aragon and then that of Bourbon for the next six hundred years after the Angevines had retired from the banquet is problematical. History is a very baffling study, and one may be well content to know little or nothing about it. I knew so little or had forgotten so much that I scarcely deserved to be taken down into the crypt of this church and shown the skeletons of four conspirators for Anjou whom Aragon had put to death--two laymen and an archbishop by beheading, and a woman by dividing crosswise into thirds. The skeletons lay in their tattered and dusty shrouds, and I suppose were authentic enough; but I had met them, poor things, too late in my life to wish for their further acquaintance. Once I could have exulted to search out their story and make much of it; but now I must leave it to the reader`s imagination, along with most other facts of my observation in Naples.
I was at some pains to look up the traces of my lost youth there, and if I could have found more of them no doubt I should have been more interested in these skeletons. For forty-odd years I had remembered the prodigious picturesqueness of certain streets branching from a busy avenue and ascending to uplands above by stately successions of steps. When I demanded these of my guide, he promptly satisfied me, and in a few moments, there in the Chiaja, we stood at the foot of such a public staircase. I had no wish to climb it, but I found it more charming even than I remembered. All the way to the top it was banked on either side with glowing masses of flowers and fruits and the spectacular vegetables of the South, and between these there were series of people, whom I tacitly delegated to make the ascent for me, passing the groups bargaining at the stalls. Nothing could have been better; nothing that I think of is half so well in New York, where the markets are on that dead level which in the social structure those above it abhor; though there are places on the East River where we might easily have inclined markets.
associations of that far past awoke with my
identification of the hotel where we had stayed at the
end of the Villa Nazionale. In those days the hotel
was called, in appeal to our patriotism, more
flattered then than now in Europe, Hotel Washington;
but it is to-day a mere pension, though it looks over
the same length of palm-shaded, statue-peopled garden.
The palms were larger than I remembered them, and the
statues had grown up and seemed to have had large
families since my day; but the lovely sea was the
same, with all the mural decorations of the skyey
horizons beyond, dim precipices and dreamy island
tops, and the dozing Vesuvius mistakable for any of
them. At one place there was a file of fishermen,
including a fisherwoman, drawing their net by means of
a rope carried across the carriage-way from the
seawall, with a splendid show of their black eyes and
white teeth and swarthy, bare legs, and always there
were beggars, both of those who frankly begged and
those who importuned with postal-cards. This terrible
traffic pervades all southern Europe, and everywhere
pesters the meeting traveller with undesired bargains.
In its presence it is almost impossible to fit a scene
with the apposite phrase; and yet one must own that it
has its rights. What would those boys do if they did
not sell, or fail to sell, postal-cards. It is another
aspect of the labor problem, so many-faced in our
time. Would it be better that they should take to open
mendicancy, or try to win the soft American heart with
such acquired slang as "Skiddoo to twenty-three"? One
who had no postal-cards had English enough to say he
would go away for a penny; it was his price, and I did
not see how he could take less; when he was reproached
by a citizen of uncommon austerity for his shameless
annoyance of strangers, I could not see that he looked
abashed; in fact, he went away singing. He did not
take with him the divine beauty of the afternoon light
on the sea and mountains; and, if he was satisfied, we
were content with our bargain.
In fact, it would be impossible to exaggerate in the praise of that incomparable environment. At every hour of the day, and, for all I know, the night, it had a varying beauty and a constant loveliness. Six days out of the week of our stay the sunshine was glorious, and five days of at least a May or September warmth; and though one day was shrill and stiff with the tramontana, it was of as glorious sunshine as the rest. The gale had blown my window open and chilled my room, but with that sun blazing outside I could not believe in the hurricane which seemed to blow our car up the funicular railway when we mounted to the height where the famous old Convent of San Martino stands, and then blew us all about the dust-clouded streets of that upland in our search for the right way to the monastery. It was worth more than we suffered in finding it; for the museum is a record of the most significant events of Neapolitan history from the time of the Spanish domination down to that of the Garibaldian invasion; and the church and corridors through which the wind hustled us abound in paintings and frescos such as one would be willing to give a whole week of quiet weather to. I do not know but I should like to walk always in the convent garden, or merely look into it from my window in the cloister wall, and gossip with my fellow-friars at their windows. We should all be ghosts, of course, but the more easily could the sun warm us through in spite of the tramontana.
I do not know that Naples is very beautiful in certain phases in which Venice and Genoa are excellent. Those cities were adorned by their sons with palaces of an outlook worthy of their splendor. But in the other Italian cities the homes of her patricians were crowded into the narrow streets where their architecture fails of its due effect. It is so with them in Naples, and even along the Villa Nazionale, where many palatial villas are set, they seclude themselves in gardens where one fancies rather than sees them. These are, in fact, sometimes the houses of the richest bourgeoisie--bankers and financiers--and the houses which have names conspicuous in the mainly inglorious turmoil of Neapolitan history help unnoted to darken the narrow and winding ways of the old city. A glimpse of a deep court or of a towering facade is what you get in passing, but it is to be said of the sunless streets over which they gloom that they are kept in a modern neatness beside which the dirt of New York is mediaeval. It is so with most other streets in Naples, except those poorest ones where the out-door life insists upon the most intimate domestic expression. Even such streets are no worse than our worst streets, and the good streets are all better kept than our best.
I am not sure that there are even more beggars in Naples than in New York, though I will own that I kept no count. In both cities beggary is common enough, and I am not noting it with disfavor in either, for it is one of my heresies that comfort should be constantly reminded of misery by the sight of it--comfort is so forgetful. Besides, in Italy charity costs so little; a cent of our money pays a man for the loss of a leg or an arm; two cents is the compensation for total blindness; a sick mother with a brood of starving children is richly rewarded for her pains with a nickel worth four cents. Organized charity is not absent in the midst of such volunteers of poverty; one day, when we thought we had passed the last outpost of want in our drive, two Sisters of Charity suddenly appeared with out-stretched tin cups. Our driver did not imagine our inexhaustible benevolence; he drove on, and before we could bring him to a halt the Sisters of Charity ran us down, their black robes flying abroad and their sweet faces flushed with the pursuit. Upon the whole it was very humiliating; we could have wished to offer our excuses and regrets; but our silver seemed enough, and the gentle sisters fell back when we had given it.
That was while we were driving toward Posillipo for the beauty of the prospect along the sea and shore, and for a sense of which any colored postal-card will suffice better than the most hectic word-painting. The worst of Italy is the superabundance of the riches it offers ear and eye and nose--offers every sense--ending in a glut of pleasure. At the point where we descended from our carriage to look from the upland out over the vast hollow of land and sea toward Pozzuoli, which is so interesting as the scene of Jove`s memorable struggle with the Titans, and just when we were really beginning to feel equal to it, a company of minstrels suddenly burst upon us with guitars and mandolins and comic songs much dramatized, while the immediate natives offered us violets and other distracting flowers. In the effect, art and nature combined to neutralize each other, as they do with us, for instance, in those restaurants where they have music during dinner, and where you do not know whether you are eating the chef-d`oeuvre of a cook or a composer.
It was at the new hotel which is evolving itself through the repair of the never-finished and long-ruined Palace of Donn` Anna, wife of a Spanish viceroy in the seventeenth century, that our guide stopped with us for that cup of tea already mentioned. We had to climb four flights of stairs for it to the magnificent salon overlooking the finest postal-card prospect in all Naples. We lingered long upon it, in the balcony from which we could have dropped into the sunset sea any coin which we could have brought ourselves to part with; but we had none of the bad money which had been so easily passed off upon us. This sort rather abounds in Naples, and the traveller should watch not only for false francs, but for francs of an obsolete coinage which you can know by the king`s head having a longer neck than in the current pieces. At the bookseller`s they would not take a perfectly good five-franc piece because it was so old as 1815; and what becomes of all the bad money one innocently takes for good? One fraudulent franc I made a virtue of throwing away; but I do not know what I did with a copper refused by a trolley conductor as counterfeit. I could not take the affair seriously, and perhaps I gave that copper in charity.
As we drove hotelward through the pink twilight we met many carriages of people who looked rich and noble, but whether they were so I do not know. I only know that old ladies who regard the world severely from their coaches behind the backs of their perfectly appointed coachmen and footmen ought to be both, and that old gentlemen who frown over their white mustaches have no right to their looks if they are neither. It was, at any rate, the hour of the fashionable drive, which included a pause midway of the Villa Nazionale for the music of the military band.
The band plays near the Aquarium, which I hope the reader will visit at the earlier hours of the day. Then, if he has a passion for polyps, and wishes to imagine how they could ingulf good-sized ships in the ages of fable, he can see one of the hideous things float from its torpor in the bottom of its tank, and seize with its hungry tentacles the food lowered to it by a string. Still awfuller is it to see it rise and reach with those prehensile members, as with the tails of a multi-caudate ape, some rocky projection of its walls and lurk fearsomely into the hollow, and vanish there in a loathly quiescence. The carnivorous spray and bloom of the deep-sea flowers amid which drowned men`s "bones are coral made" seem of one temperament with the polyps as they slowly, slowly wave their tendrils and petals; but there is amusement if not pleasure in store for the traveller who turns from them to the company of shad softly and continuously circling in their tank, and regarding the spectators with a surly dignity becoming to people in better society than others. One large shad, imaginably of very old family and independent property, sails at the head of several smaller shad, his flatterers and toadies, who try to look like him. Mostly his expression is very severe; but in milder moments he offers a perverse resemblance to some portraits of Washington.
All our days
in Naples died like dolphins to the music which
I have tried to impart the sense of. The joyful noises
which it was made up of culminated for us on that
evening when a company of the street and boat
musicians came into the hotel and danced and sang and
played the tarantella. They were of all ages, sexes,
and bulks, and of divers operatic costumes, but they
were of one temperament only, which was glad and
childlike. They went through their repertory, which
included a great deal more than the tarantella, and
which we applauded with an enthusiasm attested by our
contributions when the tambourine went round. Then
they repeated their selections, and at the second
collection we guests of the hotel repeated our
contributions, but in a more guarded spirit. After the
second repetition the prettiest girl came round with
her photographs and sold them at prices out of all
reason. Then we became very melancholy, and began to
steal out one by one. I myself did not stay for the
fourth collection, and I cannot report how the
different points of view, the Southern and the
Northern, were reconciled in the event which I am not
sure was final. But I am sure that unless you can make
allowance for a world-wide difference in the
Neapolitans from yourself you can never understand
them. Perhaps you cannot, even then.