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where every Sunday morning from time immemorial the weekly hiring of labourers had taken place, and on a smaller scale does so still. But those were the days of Italy’s “analfabetismo, when few of the field labourers could be trusted to write his own name and none his own love-letter. And the letter-writing scribe did a roaring trade at a little table on the corner of the piazza, while an open-air barber or two shaved their victims with a celerity which savoured of sleight of hand. The skill of these practitioners was equal to any emergency which could arise in their craft, but at times the hollow cadaverous cheeks of the victims of malaria, chiefly from Ostia and its neighbourhood, tried their resources very highly. But even this difficulty had vanished before the discovery that a walnut inserted in the cheek restored the general level of the countenance. There was no more entertaining spot in Rome in the morning hours; but before midday the blue-coated conicalhatted throng had melted away. There were few after that hour left sitting idle in the market because no man had hired them, and as the various groups, with their sacks flung over one shoulder and a long staff filled with ringloaves on the other, had tramped forth to fresh fields and pastures new, one could realise that the raw material of Italy is as fine as that of any country in the world. But nowhere has a cleaner sweep been made of houses, men, and manners than in the Ghetto. Of this nest of dirt and unsavouriness, of apparent poverty which often concealed wealth, of squalor inconceivable, of picturesqueness unforgettable, the Government have now made an almost entire clearance. The fish market within the portico of Octavia—to the artist's eye Rome had hardly such a subject as that—went years ago. Gradually the rookeries which lay around have followed, and to-day there is very little to tell that this was once the place where the Jews of Rome, herded together like swine, insulted, hated, robbed, and even locked in at night into their ill-savoured prison, multiplied and grew rich through many a century. The church of S. Angelo in Pescheria, in which in former days the elders were compelled once a year to listen to a sermon preached against their own faith, still remains, but the whole of the quarter which lay between that church and the river has disappeared. In severe floods there was no part of Rome which suffered so much as the Ghetto. In the flood of 1869 I saw the sight, which has been so often described, of the inhabitants shifting their goods in boats in the Via della Pescheria, into the upper storeys of the houses. Men said that these same upper storeys concealed treasures of bric-à-brac known only to those daring connoisseurs who had penetrated thither ready “in more senses than one to pay through the nose.” I know not. I knew it only through its ground-floor squalors, which were open to the eye of every passer-by. In the cavern-like recesses sat old and wolf-eyed hags amid piles of sour clothing and cheap second-hand furniture. They are scattered now fairly evenly through the various quarters of Rome, save that a good many still hang fondly about their ancient home. But not in the Ghetto alone, though there chiefly, were sanitary methods conspicuous by their absence. There were side streets leading even out of the best thoroughfares, where walking was well-nigh impossible; one such in the Piazza Trajana especially comes to my mind. The primitive method of casting all domestic refuse into the open street had come down with many allied habits from very ancient days. Even to-day they are by no means extinct in Rome, but they have retired from the more fashionable thoroughfares. In those days they gave occupation, or at any rate an interest, to an army of effete and very incapable dustmen who with heart-shaped shovels and Noah's Arkhand-carts, and wearing the inspiring inscription ‘S.P.Q.R.' upon their red hat-bands, followed the contemplative rather than the active life, and longed for the day when they should be promoted to be licensed beggars, and rich beyond the dreams of avarice. The life of the Roman dustman of to-day has been made more strenuous for him, and it is only fair to say that Rome is now a clean town, as well looked after as most capitals of Europe. I do not know of one in which life can be more comfortable. It is of course easy to cry that “Rome is spoilt ’ every time that we find that something has disappeared from the Rome which we knew when we were young, and before it had once more renewed its everlasting youth. Rome will take a great deal of spoiling. It is safe to prophesy that a thousand years hence it will still be the most interesting city in the world, no matter what changes may have come to it in that time. It has indeed already a very long start—a city of continuous and vital historical interest from its birthday till to-day, and not likely to play a less interesting part in the history that lies ahead than any other capital in the modern world. The Romans do well when they show that they cherish every stone that can remind them of their ancient greatness; they do equally well to fit their city to take its part in the greatness that yet awaits it in the days to come. GERALD S. DAVIES.
MILITARY SMALL BEER.
I’ve had my share of pastime, and I've done my share of toil,
THREE of the Field Marshals who are now most deservedly at the head of the British Army have written their reminiscences, telling of the great events in which they have played a distinguished part and of the many adventures which they have met and individuals whom they have encountered in their several careers. It may be permitted therefore to an old soldier of a humbler rank to occupy a few pages of the CoRNHILL in chronicling the small beer of his military life. ‘The old order changeth, yielding place to new,’ and the incidents of a long bygone time, however little important in themselves, may give some amusement to old fellows like the writer, and possibly even to the present generation, who are fortunate in knowing that the vast possibilities of the future are all their own. Before going any further, I must here acknowledge a very useful ‘leg-up which was indirectly given to me by the CoRNHILL on my entrance into the Service. Even in 1860 a lengthy examination had to be passed before a commission could be purchased, and every day for a week I was seated at Burlington House, grappling with Latin, history, mathematics, fortification, arithmetic, French, and other subjects in which qualifying marks could be gained. I never had any doubt of passing the examination, but I wanted to pass extra well, for certain advantages were thereby to be secured. My French was not my strongest point, and I thought it worth while to rub it up with a tutor before presenting myself for the ordeal. Naturally, the first thing the tutor did was to tell me to translate some English into French, and he produced a book of exercises, one of which he wanted me to tackle. Fresh from college, I loathed conventional text-books, and suggested that I would rather translate a page from the ‘Four Georges,’ a notable feature in the CoRNHILL, then in its gorgeous youth. My tutor agreed, and my translation was duly criticised and corrected. The examination was three or four days later, and my satisfaction may be conceived when I found that very passage from the CoRNHILL figuring in my examination paper. Full marks were mine in French at any rate, and, with their aid, my place on the list of successful candidates was much more than respectable. I have ever since looked upon the orange jacket as a porte-bonheur. I shall say nothing of my early days as a cavalry subaltern. I spent several years as instructor of musketry and adjutant, but the daily routine of regimental work, though serious enough, did not present any incidents worth recording here. I came little in contact with the senior officers of the Service, and can only remember the annual inspections by the InspectorGeneral of Cavalry. General Lawrenson was a real type of an English cavalry officer, and to us subalterns an object of profound admiration. He had at his fingers' ends every detail of duty as it was then understood, and was unapproachable in his knowledge of interior economy. But what appealed to us perhaps more than any other of his accomplishments was his superlative horsemanship. As Whyte-Melville said in his ‘Riding Recollections,’ ‘Lawrenson combined the strength and freedom of the hunting-field with the scientific exercise of hands and limbs as taught in the haute école.’ And the gallant regiment to which I belonged quite appreciated one method of securing that we should always have a satisfactory inspection. When the General had to be mounted, it was always arranged that he should be provided with the best-looking horse that our stables could produce, and particularly one that took a bit of riding. We thus secured that his mind should be so pleasantly occupied that he did not pay too close attention to any of our shortcomings on parade. He gained all our hearts at one inspection in the beginning of the hunting season. Everything of importance had been done, we hoped, to his satisfaction, and nothing was left but for him to inspect the equitation of the officers in riding-school on the following morning. He finished his official work at once, however, making us a little speech: “Gentlemen, I am quite satisfied with all I have seen. I believe that the hounds meet near here to-morrow, and I propose to judge of your riding by seeing you out hunting.” Needless to say, every officer, from the Colonel to the junior cornet, was in the field the next day, ready to ride for all he was worth.
In those days, one of the pleasantest episodes of the year was the annual change of quarters, when we marched by squadrons through England. We saw the fairest of lands to the utmost advantage ‘all in the blue unclouded weather,’ moving by ‘hostel, hall, and grange; by bridge and ford, by park and pale,” and we had our nightly billets in comfortable, old-fashioned inns, where we were the objects of much regard to matrons and maids, who seldom had a chance of seeing the uniforms of Queen Victoria's cavalry. And when the route took us past some stately country house, how often were we waylaid by the proprietor, particularly if he was an old soldier, who provided liberal and substantial refreshments for the non-commissioned officers and men, and offered the most cordial hospitality to the officers. What good times those were !
It must be acknowledged that in those old days, a piping time of peace, though the few and simple duties of a soldier were conscientiously enough performed, many officers took little thought for the more serious responsibilities of their profession, and indeed there was but small pressure to make them do so. Any one who had stepped but a short way beyond the teaching of the drill-book had, however, the encouragement of being considered a useful man, and was often employed on extra-regimental duties, bringing him in contact with generals and Staff officers who had seen war and knew something of military duties beyond the mere routine of a barrack-yard. How many generals I had thus an opportunity of meeting, and what good, kind fellows most of them were ! They had their little eccentricities and mannerisms, however, which were often sources of amusement to their irreverent subordinates. The forms of speech so well known in Flanders still rolled fluently from the tongues of some of them in moments of excitement, and one cavalry General in particular was distinguished by the freedom of his language. His division was marching past on a certain occasion, and something went wrong, which elicited some rather lurid remarks. His wife, a most formidable dame, was riding on the drill-ground, looking on at the show, and heard the doubleshotted sentences. She had evidently been trying to break her gallant husband of his bad habit, and now, forgetful of the dignity of a General on parade, she rode up to him, surrounded as he was by his Staff, and, wagging her finger, said with reproachful emphasis * Frank—that word again Frank—that word again l’ We all tried to look unconscious, but it was a sore effort.
I always regretted that I never was on very confidential terms