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Leave Pomaretto-Alpine scenery-Pinerolo--Ancient inn-Ex
cursion to the valley of Luzerna—Mount Viso- IntoleranceAnecdote ---Vaudois Heroism-Anecdote-Patriarchal Simplicity-Church of San Giovanni-Ludicrous Bigotry-Lovely vale of San Giovanni-Beautiful Landscape-La Torre-Too frequent intermarriages-Church of La Torre-Its romantic situation-M. Bert-Attend service in the Church-Monumental inscriptions-Peasantry-Village inn and accommodation-Murderous plot against the Protestants.-M. OdettiThe plot-Fanaticism-Rendezvous of conspirators--General Godin—March of the Vaudois soldiers for the preservation of their families—Threatened by the Torrents-Vespers bell, signal of destruction-Work of assassination-The assassins--Retribution-Injustice-General Zimmerman-Immunities and privileges granted to Vaudois--Grievances of the Vaudois-Absurd restrictions- Imposts-Disqualifications--- AgricultureTradem Laughable mistake.
AFTER our most interesting visit to Pomaretto, we returned to Perosa in that serious and meditative mood, which the nature of our inquiries was calculated to produce. The obscurity of evening was increased by the masses of rock that projected above and around, and every object corresponded with the dreariness of the scenery, and the gloom that affected us.
As we passed one of the insecure bridges that are thrown across the torrent, we met a string of mules, whose cautious
steps reminded us, that it is not inconvenience only, which attends a traveller in this wild and rugged region, but that perils also wait upon his path, and that nature is too sparing of her bounty, in the valley of the Clusone, to suffer its inhabitants to provide against more than the absolute necessities of the hour. A few loose planks formed the largest of the bridges which connect Pomaretto and Perosa. Before next winter they will most likely be washed away. The furnace of a smelting house was blazing as we passed it: its strong glare in the darkness of the night served to discover, and to set off some of the savage features of this rude glen, and seeing them, as we did, to perfection, we could not feel surprised that the Alps should furnish materials for so many tales and romances, when they present such outlines to the eye, which the imagination may fill up with all that can inspire wonder or terror.
We returned to and slept at Pinerolo, in an inn or hotel which must once have been the residence of some bold baron, but has been long since converted into one of an humbler designation. A large court-yard serves now for the receptacle of carts and other vehicles, a gallery runs round the building, and opens into several corridors, which communicate with large and dreary apartments; some gilded wainscoting, and the remains of what were once ornamental cornices, proclaim the departed grandeur of other days. The kitchen is an immense and vaulted chamber, the ceiling and walls of which have not been whitened for years ; it resounded when we walked across it, as if it were constructed over a range of subterraneous passages. We had a capital supper, and among other things a large dish of the very small fish, a minute species of eel, which is considered so delicious in Piemont, and some of the Muscat wine, which pleased us so much at Perosa; but this good cheer did not reconcile us to what followed. Upon asking for our bed rooms, we were told that we were to sleep where we had supped. There were but two beds, and these,
it was thought, afforded ample accommodation for five gentlemen. For a length of time we were scarcely believed, when we refused to be so accommodated, and it was not till after a great deal of discussion, that they made up a third bed in this room, and put two of us into a cold straggling apartment, where we found what we demanded.
The morning, on which we left Pinerolo for the Valley of Luzerna, was so bright and beautiful, that the air was fresh rather than cold, and for the first time since we were upon Italian soil, we enjoyed the sight of an Italian sky. There was all that clear blueness, and appearance of wider expanse in the firmament, which make one fancy that the vault of Heaven is loftier in this region than in our own. The country too, that we passed over, wore a very different aspect to that which we visited the previous evening, it was more open
and productive, and did not so soon shrink into glens and defiles. The silvery tops of the distant mountains shone with uncommon splendour, and the whole drive to La Torre (La Tour) was one of the most cheerful that we had enjoyed. The first view of Mount Viso was imposing in the extreme. It is below the level of eternal snow, but its sides and brow were now covered, and the dazzling whiteness of its peaks burst upon us at a sudden turn in the road, and called forth a general exclamation of delight. No pencil can do justice to the bright tints of a mountain's snowy top sparkling in the sun.
On leaving Pinerolo we followed the fine broad road that leads to Saluzzo, in a due southerly direction for about two. miles, crossed the Clusone over an ill-built and crazy bridge, and at the hamlet of Osasco turned into a cross-road to the right, and continued our route towards the west. Bricherasio was the last Popish commune through which we passed: it is well situated, but though it is within the Pelice and the Clusone, the boundary rivers of the Protestant limits, yet, like the other two or three villages in the plain, its lands are considered too productive to be suffered to re
main under the cultivation of heretics; and Protestant families are not permitted to make any purchases or settlements within its limitations. The laws on this subject are so severe, that a Vaudois pastor is not permitted to sleep in any of the villages, which are immediately adjoining to those of his own community, and a minister was exposed here to a curious dilemma upon this very edict of exclusion. He had been to visit one of his flock who was taken ill at Bricherasio, and a snow-storm at night was so violent that he was unable to return to his own habitation. man dare not go to bed, for fear of exposing himself to the penalties of the law, and actually sat up all night to evade it, and to be able to swear that he did not sleep at Bricherasio.
The nearer we approached the boundaries of San Giovanni, or St. Jean, the first Protestant village, the greater interest M. Vertu took in the country; and when he crossed the limits, he seemed to breathe a new air, and to enjoy a new existence. He was all delight to be upon the soil of his own native valley, kept pointing out to us every wellknown spot, recounting anecdotes of the days of persecution, and assigning a tale to every hamlet within view. The grove upon the slope of the hill, and by the road-side, just as we got within the confines, was an object of particular regard. “ It had been an out-post,” he said, “in many a bloody skirmish between the Popish and the Protestant borderers."
He pointed to the banks of the Pelice, near Luzerna. “At that bend of the river," he told us, “tradition had consecrated the spot to the recollection of an exploit more memorable than the achievement of Leander himself. A Romanist had paid great attention to the lessons of a Vaudois friend, and gave such proof of his heart being touched, that the latter thought no opportunity ought to be lost of pressing his conversion while he appeared to be in a favourable mood. His visits used to be nocturnal. On the night when he flattered himself that his arguments would prevail,
the floods had cut off the usual means of access. winter, and the torrent was alarmingly broad and rapid; but the Christian hero was not to be interrupted or daunted in his holy enterprize: he boldly plunged into the waters, swam across, and reaped his reward in the conversion of his friend from Popery."
The new church of San Giovanni, and that of La Torre, or La Tour, just distinguishable under the frowning crag, that serves as a land-mark for many miles before it is approached, were spots to which M. Vertu particularly di-. rected our eyes, and where he fixed his own with looks of reverential admiration; but when we were once fairly among the houses and inhabitants of San Giovanni, he. could no longer contain his satisfaction. It was a burst of youthfulecstacy, of undisguised and irrepressible joy, which communicated itself to us, and encreased the esteem which we already entertained for our amiable companion. He had not been for many months in the valley which gave him birth, and where every string that was touched beat in unison with those of his own heart.
The mountains and vales of the Vaudois are retreats of hospitable kindness and confidence, where patriarchal simplicity and unaffected manners prevail to an extent, which is seldom seen elsewhere; and when a young man like M. Vertu finds himself transported from a capital, where all is constraint and suspicion, to such a scene, his heart cannot but surrender itself to the enthusiasm of the moment.
It was a Sabbath morning when we passed through San Giovanni, and the peasants were going to church. As groupes, or individuals, met us, our friend from Turin nodded to one, and spoke to another ; seemed to know every body, and told us who were Roman Catholics, and who Protestants : in fact, we soon distinguished them ourselves; for it is notorious that the Protestant peasantry may be recognized by the superior cleanliness of their appearance.