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Letter from Venice.
These wishes come to you from Venice, a place where there is notning wanting that heart can wish; renowned Venice, the admired'st city in the world, a city that all Europe is bound unto, for she is her greatest rampart against that huge eastern tyrant, the Turk, by sea; else, I believe, he had overrun all Christendom by this time. Against him this city hath performed notable exploits, and not only against him, but divers others: she hath restored emperors to their thrones, and popes to their chairs, and with her galleys often preserved St. Peter's bark from sinking for which, by way of reward, one of his successors espoused her to the sea, which marriage is solemnly renewed every year in solemn procession by the Doge and all the Clarissimos, and a gold ring cast into the sea out of the great galeasse, called the Bucentoro, wherein the first ceremony was performed by the pope himself, above three hundred years since, and they say it is the self-same vessel still, though often put upon the careen and trimmed. This made me think on that famous ship at Athens; nay, I fell upon an abstracted notion in philosophy, and a speculation touching the body of man, which being in perpetual flux, and a kind of succession of decays, and consequently requiring, ever and anon, a restoration of what it loseth of the virtue of the former aliment, and what was converted after the third concoction into a blood and fleshy substance, which, as in all other sublunary bodies that have internal principles of heat, useth to transpire, breathe out, and waste away through invisible pores, by exercise, motion, and sleep, to make room still for a supply of new nurriture: I fell, I say, to consider whether our bodies may be said to be of like condition with this Bucentoro, which, though it be reputed still the same vessel, yet I believe there's not a foot of that timber remaining which it had upon the first dock, having been, as they tell me, so often planked and ribbed, caulked and pieced. In like manner, our bodies may be said to be daily repaired by new sustenance, which begets new blood, and consequently new spirits, new humours, and, I may say, new flesh; the old by continual deperdition and insensible perspirations, evaporating still out of us, and giving way to fresh; so that I make a question whether, by reason of these perpetual reparations and accretions, the body of man may be said to be the same numerical body in his old age that he had in his manhood, or the same in his manhood that he had in his youth, the same in his youth that he carried about with him in his childhood, or the same in his childhood which he wore first in the womb. I make a doubt whether I had the same identical, individually numerical body, when I carried a calf-leather satchel to school in Hereford, as when I wore a lambskin hood in Oxford; or whether I have the same mass of blood in my veins, and the same flesh, now in Venice, which I carried about me three years since, up and down London streets, having, in lieu of beer and ale, drunk wine all this while, and fed upon different viands. Now, the stomach is like a crucible. for it hath a chemical kind of virtue to transmute one body into another, to transubstantiate fish and fruits into flesh within and about us; but though it be questionable whether I wear the same flesh which is fluxible, I am sure my hair is not the same, for you may remember I went flaxen-haired out of England, but you shall find me returned with a very dark brown, which I impute not only to the heat and air of those hot countries I have eat my bread in. but to the quality and difference of food: you will say that hair is but an excrementitious thing, and makes not to this purpose; moreover, methinks I hear thee say that this may be true only in the blood and spirits, or such fluid parts, not in the solid and heterogeneal parts. But I will press no further at this time this philosophical notion, which the sight of Bucentoro infused into me, for it hath already made me exceed the bounds of a letter, and, I fear me, to trespass too much upon your patience; I leave the further disquisition of this point to your own contemplations, who are a far riper philosopher than I, and have waded deeper into and drunk more of Aristotle's well. But, to conclude, though it be doubtful whether I carry about me the same body or no in all points that I had in England, I am well assured I bear still the same mind, and therein I verify the old verse:
Cælum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.
The air. but not the mind. they change,
For, what alterations soever happen in this microcosm, in this little world, this small
bulk and body of mine, you may be confident that nothing shall alter my affections, specially towards you, but that I will persevere still the saine the very same VENICE, 25th June, 1621.
Letter from Rome.
I am now come to Rome, and Rome, they say, is every man's country; she is called Communis Patria, for every one that is within the compass of the Latin Church finds himself here, as it were, at home, and in his mother's house, in regard of interest in religion, which is the cause that for one native there be five strangers that sojourn in this city; and without any distinction or mark of strangeness, they come to preferments and offices, both in church and state, according to merit, which is more valued and sought after here than anywhere.
But whereas I expected to have found Rome elevated upon seven hills, I met her rather spreading upon a flat, having humbled herself, since she was made a Christian, and descended from those hills to Campus Martius; with Trastevere, and the suburbs of Saint Peter, she hath yet in compass about fourteen miles, which is far short of that vast circuit she had in Claudius his time; for Vopiscus writes she was then of fifty miles' circumference, and she had five hundred thousand free citizens in a famous cense that was made, which, allowing but six to every family in women, children, and servants, came to three millions of souls; but she is now a wilderness in comparison of that number. The pope is grown to be a great temporal prince of late years, for the state of the church extends above three hundred miles in length, aud two hundred miles in breadth; it contains Ferrara, Bologna, Romagnia, the Marquisate of Ancona, Umbria, Sabina, Perugia, with a part of Tuscany, the patrimony, Rome herself, and Latium. In these there are above fifty bishoprics; the pope hath also the duchy of Spoleto, and the exarchate of Ravena; he hath the town of Benevento in the kingdom of Naples, and the country of Venissa, called Avignon, in France. He hath title also good enough to Naples itself; but, rather than offend his champion, the king of Spain, he is contented with a white mule, and purse of pistoles about the neck, which he receives every year for a heriot or homage, or what you will call it; he pretends also to be lord-paramount of Sicily, Urbia, Parma, and Masseran; of Norway, Ireland, and England, since King John did prostrate our crown at Pandulfo his legate's feet.
The state of the apostolic see here in Italy lieth 'twixt two seas, the Adriatic and the Tyrrhene, and it runs through the midst of Italy, which makes the pope powerful to do good or harm, and more capable than any other to be an umpire or an enemy. His authority being mixed 'twixt temporal and spiritual, disperseth itself into so many members, that a young man may grow old here before he can well understand the form of government.
The consistory of cardinals meet but once a week, and once a week they solemnly wait all upon the pope. I am told there are now in Christendom but sixty-eight cardinals, whereof there are six cardinal bishops, fifty-one cardinal priests, and cleven cardinal deacons. The cardinal bishops attend and sit near the pope, when he celebrates any festival; the cardinal priests assist him at mass; and the cardinal deacons attire him. A cardinal is made by a short breve or writ from the pope in these words: "Creamus te socium regibus, superiorem ducibus, et fratrem nostrum' ['We create thee a companion to kings, superior to dukes, and our brother']. If a cardinal bishop should be questioned for any offence, there must be twenty-four witnesses produced against him. The bishop of Ostia hath most privilege of any other, for he consecrates and installs the pope, and goes always next to him. All these cardinals have the repute of princes, and besides other incomes, they have the annats of benefices to support their greatness.
For point of power, the pope is able to put 50,000 men in the field, in case of necessity, besides his naval strength in galleys. We read how Paul III. sent Charles III. twelve thousand foot and five hundred horse. Pius V. sent a greater aid to Charles IX.; and for riches, besides the temporal dominions he hath in all the countries before named, the datany or despatching of bulls, the triennial subsidies, annats, and other ecclesiastical rights, mount to an unknown sum; and it is a common saying here, that as long as the pope can finger a pen, he can want no pence. Pius V. notwithstanding his expenses in buildings, left four millions in the Castle of Saint Angelo in less than five years; more, I believe, than this Gregory XV. will, for
he hath many nephews; and better is it to be the pope's nephew, than to be a favourite to any prince in Christendom.
Touching the temporal government of Rome, and oppidan affairs, there is a prætor and some choice citizens, which sit in the capitol. Among other pieces of policy, there is a synagogue of Jews permitted here-as in other places of Italyunder the pope's nose, but they go with a mark of distinction in their hats; they are tolerated for advantage of commerce, wherein the Jews are wonderful dexterous, though most of them be only brokers and Lombardeers; and they are held to be here as the cynic held women to be-malum necessarium.
Present Rome may be said to be but a monument of Rome past, when she was in that flourish that St. Austin desired to see her in. She who tamed the world, tamed herself at last, and falling under her own weight, fell to be a prey to time; yet there is a providence seems to have a care of her still; for though her air be not so good, nor her circumjacent soil so kindly as it was, yet she has wherewith to keep life and soul together still, by her ecclesiastical courts, which is the sole cause of her peopling now; so that it may be said, when the pope came to be her head, she was reduced to her first principles; for as a shepherd was founder, so a shepherd is still governor and preserver.
Description of the Wine Countries.
Greece, with all her islands, Italy, Spain, France, one part of four of Germany, Hungary, with divers countries thereabouts, all the islands in the Mediterranean and Atlantic sea, are wine-countries.
The most generous wines of Spain grow in the midland parts of the continent, and St. Martin bears the bell, which is near the court. Now, as in Spain, so in all cther wine-countries, one cannot pass a day's journey but he will find à differing race of wine; those kinds that our merchants carry over are those only that grow upon the sea-side, as Malagas, Sherries, Tents, and Alicants; of this last there's little comes over right; therefore the vintners make Tent-which is a name for all wines in Spain, except white-to supply the place of it. There is a gentle kind of white wine grows among the mountains of Galicia, but not of body enough to bear the sea, called Rabidavia. Portugal affords no wines worth the transporting. They have an odd stone we call Yef, which they use to throw into their wines, which clarifieth it, and makes it more lasting. There's also a drink in Spain called Alosha, which they drink between meals in hot weather, and 'tis a hydromel made of water and honey; much of them take of our mead. In the court of Spain there's a German or two that brew beer; but for that ancient drink of Spain which Pliny speaks of, composed of flowers, the receipt thereof is utterly lost.
In Greece there are no wines that have bodies enough to bear the sea for long voyages; some few Muscadels and Malmsies are brought over in small casks: nor is there in Italy any wine transported to England but in bottles, as Verde and others; for the length of the voyage makes them subject to pricking, and so lose colour by reason of their delicacy.
France, participating of the climes of all the countries about her, affords wines of quality accordingly; as, towards the Alps and Italy, she hath a luscious rich wine called Frontiniac. In the country of Provence, towards the Pyrenees in Languedoc, there are wines concustable with those of Spain; one of the prime sort of white wines is that of Beaume; and of clarets, that of Orleans, though it be interdicted to wine the king's cellar with it, in respect of the corrosiveness it carries with it. As in France, so in all other wine-countries, the white is called the female, and the c'aret or red wine is called the male, because commonly it hath more sulphur, body, and heat in't: the wines that our merchants bring over upon the river of Garonne, near Bordeaux, in Gascony, which is the greatest mart for wines in all France. The Scot, because he hath always been a useful confederate to France against England, hath (among other privileges) right of pre-emption of first choice of wines in Bordeaux; he is also permitted to carry his ordnance to the very walls of the town,
*The importation of wines from Portugal dates from the reign of Charles II. In 1703, he Methuen Treaty was entered into with Portugal, binding England to receive her produce at a rate of one-third less than on that of France. Port then became the most imFortant wine for British use. Since the reduction of duty on French wines, the conumption of port has greatly declined.
whereas the English are forced to leave them at Blay, a good way distant down the river. There is a hard green wine, that grows about Rochelle, and the islands thereabouts, which the cunning Hollander sometimes used to fetch, and he hath a trick to put a bag of herbs, or some other infusions, into it-as he doth brimstone in Rhenish-to give it a whiter tincture and more sweetness; then they re-embark it for England, where it passeth for Bachrag, and this is called stuming of wines. In Normandy there's little or no wine at all grows; therefore the common drink of that country is cider, specially in low Normandy. There are also many beer-houses in Paris and elsewhere; but though their barley and water be better than ours or that of Germany, and though they have English and Dutch brewers among them, yet they cannot make beer in that perfection.
The prime wines of Germany grow about the Rhine, specially in the Psallts or lower Palatinate about Bachrag, which hath its etymology from Bachiara; for in ancient times there was an altar erected there to the honour of Bacchus, in regard of the richness of the wines. Here, and all France over, 'tis held a great part of incivility for maidens to drink wine until they are married, as it is in Spain for them to wear high shoes, or to paint till then. The German mothers, to make their sons fall into a hatred of wine, do use, when they are little, to put some owls' eggs into a cup of Rhenish, and sometimes a little living eel, which twingling in the wine while the child is drinking, so scares him, that many come to abhor and have an antipathy to wine all their lives after. From Bachrag the first stock of vines which grow now in the grand Canary Island were brought, which, with the heat of the sun and the soil, is grown now to that height of perfection, that the wines which they afford are accounted the richest, the most firm, the best bodied, and lastings. wine, and the most defecated from all earthly grossness, of any other whatsoever; it hath little or no sulphur at all in't, and leaves less dregs behind, though one drink it to excess. French wines may be said but to pickle meat in the stomachs, but this is the wine that digests, and doth not only breed gcod blood, but it nutrifieth also, being a glutinous substantial liquor: of this wine, if of any other, may be verified that merry induction, that good wine makes good blood, good blood causeth good humours, good humours cause good thoughts, good thoughts bring forth good works, good works carry a man to heaven-ergo, good wine carrieth a man to heaven.' If this be true, surely more English go to heaven this way than any other; for I think there's more Canary brought into England than to all the world besides. I think also, there is a hundred times more drunk under the name of Canary wine than there is brought in; for Sherries and Malagas, well-mingled, pass for Canaries in most taverns, more often than Canary itself; else I do not see how 'twere possible for the vintner to save by it, or to live by his calling, unless he were permitted sometimes to be a brewer. When Sacks and Canaries were brought in first among us, they were used to be drunk in aqua-vitæ measures, and 'twas held fit only for those to drink who were used to carry their legs in their hands, their eyes upon their noses, and an almanac in their bones; but now they go down every one's throat, both young and old, like milk.
The countries that are freest from excess of drinking are Spain and Italy. If a woman can prove her husband to have been thrice drunk, by the ancient laws of Spain she may plead for a divorce from him. Nor indeed can the Spaniard, being hot-brained, bear much drink, yet I have heard that Gondamar was once too hard for the king of Denmark, when he was here in England. But the Spanish soldiers that have been in the wars of Flanders will take their cups freely, and the Italians also. When I lived t' other side the Alps, a gentleman told me a merry tale of a Ligurian soldier, who had got drunk in Genoa: and Prince Doria going a-horseback to walk the round one night, the soldier took his horse by the bridle, and asked what the price of him was, for he wanted a horse. The prince, seeing in what humour he was, caused him to be taken into a house and pat to sleep. In the morning he sent for him, and asked him what he would give for his horse. 'Sir,' said the recovered soldier, the merchant that would have bought him last night of your Highness went away betimes in the morning. The boonest companions for drinking are the Greeks and Germans; but the Greck is the merriest of the two, for he will sing, and dance, and kiss his next companions; but the other will drink as deep as he. If the Greek will drink as many glasses as there be letters in his mistress's name, the other will drink the number of his years; and though he be not apt to break out in singing, being not of so airy a constitution, yet he will drink often musically a health to every
one of these six notes, ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la; which, with his reason, are all comprehended in this hexameter:
Ut relivet miserum fatum solitosque labores.
The fewest draughts he drinks are three-the first to quench the thirst past, the second to quench the present thirst, the third to prevent the future. I heard of a company of Low Dutchmen that had drunk so deep, that beginning to stagger, and their heads turning round, they thought verily they were at sea, and that the upper chamber where they were was a ship, insomuch that, it being foul windy weather, they fell to throw the stools and other things out of the window, to lighten the vessel, for fear of suffering shipwreck.
From another of Howell's works, entitled 'Instructions for Foreign Travel,' published in 1642, and which, like his Letters, contains many acute and humorous observations on men and things, we extract the following passage on the
Tales of Travellers.
Others have a custom to be always relating strange things and wonders (of the humour of Sir John Mandeville), and they usually present them to the hearers through multiplying-glasses, and thereby cause the thing to appear far greater than it is in itself; they make mountains of mole-hills, like Charenton Bridge echo, which doubles the sound nine times, Such a traveller was he that reported the Indian fly to be as big as a fox, China birds to be as big as some horses, and their mice to be as big as monkeys; but they have the wit to fetch this far enough off, because the hearer may rather believe it than make a voyage so far to disprove it.
Every one knows the tale of him who reported he had seen a cabbage under whose leaves a regiment of soldiers were sheltered from a shower of rain. Another who was no traveller, yet the wiser man, said he had passed by a place where there were 400 brasiers making of a caldron-200 within and 200 without, beating the nais in; the traveller asking for what use that huge caldron was, he told him: Sir, it was to boil your cabbage.'
Such another was the Spanish traveller, who was so habituated to hyperbolise and relate wonders, that he became ridiculous in all companies, so that he was forced at last to give order to his man, when he fell into any excess this way, and report anything improbable, he should pull him by the sleeve. The master falling into Lis wonted hyperboles, spoke of a church in China that was ten thousand yards long; his man, standing behind, and pulling him by the sleeve, made him stop suddenly. The company asking: I pray, sir, how broad might that church be?' he replied: But a yard broad; and you may thank my man for pulling me by the sleeve, else I had made it foursquare for you.'
SIR THOMAS HERBERT.
The only other traveller of much note at this time was SIR THOMAS HERBERT, who, in 1626, set out on a journey to the East, and, after his return, published, in 1634, ‘A Relation of some Years' Travels into Africa and the Greater Asia, especially the Territory of the Persian Monarchy, and some Parts of the Oriental Indies and Isles adjacent.' In the civil wars of England, Herbert sided with the Parliament, and, when the king was required to dismiss his own servants, was chosen by His Majesty one of the grooms of the bedchamber. Herbert then became much attached to the king, served him with much zeal and assiduity, and was on the scaffold when the ill-fated monarch was brought to the block. After the Restoration, he was rewarded by Charles II. with a baronetcy, and subsequently devoted much