Page images

another. We then hastened by the shortest cut towards the camp, where we arrived about dawn, with the bottles, the two nuns, and the ears. That morning, the Colonel and the Major drank my health in the wine of the convent l” Such tales are not mere fictions; we have heard many quite as horrid, as the annals of the war of the Peninsula, and the evidence of thousands of Portuguese and Spaniards yet living, and of Englishmen too, can attest. The armies of Napoleon, in their ruthless career of invasion and conquest, had become demoralised to a most fearful extent. No other European armies could vie with them in this respect. The hero afterwards tells the story of his own early career. He was the son of a Piedmontese captain in the old King's service, who was killed at Samparelliano, in the first French invasion of Italy The son was then at college, his guardian defrauded him of one half of his inheritance when he came out of college; and being left without any check in those revolutionary times, he squandered the rest in three years on wild debauch. “Reduced to my last ducat, I made up my resolution: Napoleon wanted men and I wanted bread, the contract was soon settled. A few months after, I set off for Spain; I there found myself in my true element, danger, battles, plunder, massacre, had nothing strange for me. I felt as if I was restored to the kind of life for which I was born. I had never been so happy among the refinements of luxury and the pleasures of our Italian cities. I was at last made a lieutenant on the field of battle where Napoleon fell; and I then took the road of Italy, with fifty livres in my pocket, the only remains of the rich booty I had repeatedly made in Spain.” That being soon spent, he thought of embarking for South America, the only part of the world where men were still cutting each others' throats for glory, freedom, or vengeance, or “what you will;” when he saw a lady in a public walk at Milan who fixed his attention. He entered her husband's service as a valet. The lady had a secret gallant; he obtained a clue to the intrigue, and upon this he built a diabolical plan. He repaired to a rendezvous instead of the real Lothario, did violence to his mistress, and at the same time managed to have the other gallant introduced into the husband's apartment. This he considered as revenge, because the lady had looked down upon him with contempt. The blow was fatal to the frail one; she fell ill, and died a few days after. And now the wretch who had been the means of her death was miserable, and bribed a fellow servant to go to steal out of her coffin her long tresses. Here the extract ends.

For such characters the armies of Napoleon were the real element.


IN that very nice little book of Table-Talk, the “Walpoliana,” the author of the romance of the “Castle of Otranto” is made to say, “Lady Craven has just brought me from Italy a most acceptable present, a drawing of the Castle of Otranto. It is odd that that back-window corresponds with the description in my romance. When I wrote it, I did not even know that there was a castle at Otranto. I wanted a name of some place in the south of Italy, and Otranto struck me in the map.” The drawing must have greatly flattered the castle if it made Horace Walpole believe that the real edifice was in any way so wild and romantic as his fanciful description. In our turn, we may say, “it is odd" that a son of Lady Craven, the donor of the drawing, should have been the first to inform the public that the castle of Otranto is a common-place, unpicturesque, and comparatively modern building, having nothing gothic or baronial about it. The following is Mr. Keppel Craven's sketch. “The castle of Otranto, a name calculated to awaken feelings of pleasing recollection in an English mind, is far from realising the expectations created by the perusal of the celebrated romance bearing the same appellation. It is now what it ever was, the citadel of this town, a fort of no considerable extent or power, but not entirely deficient in picturesque beauty, especially on the land side. Two large circular towers, features always observable in the fortresses built by Charles the Fifth, rise from the rich foliage of the trees which fill the town ditch, and among which a very high palm is eminently conspicuous. On the opposite wall, a drapery of interwoven creepers exhibits a fine contrast to the colour of the stone of which the edifice is constructed. From its summit the view is extensive, but bare of objects, especially to the south, where a ruined church of St. Nicholas occupies the site of an ancient temple of Minerva, and forms the only feature in the landscape. The wind blew strong from the north, and cast a haze on the distant horizon: when that is not the case, the mountains of Epirus on the opposite coast WOL. II. I

are distinctly seen.”—A Tour through the Southern Provinces of the Kingdom of Naples, by the Hon. Richard Keppel Craven, chap. viii. But even this picture is a great deal too favourable, and the view of the castle given in Mr. Craven's book is far too romantic for so common-place a building, which has no hoary antiquity, or anything else to recommend it. When we were last at Otranto, some time after Mr. Craven's visit, the trees had disappeared from the town ditch, the interwoven creepers had been removed in the course of a general scraping the walls had been subjected to, and nothing was wanting but a coat of whitewash to make the castle look quite prim and genteel. We consult our memory and our stray notes in vain for the “very high palm, so eminently conspicuous.” Let us not be suspected of an intention to dispraise a book that has afforded us much delight. We have at different times followed Mr. Craven's steps in nearly all the districts he describes, and can vouch for the general correctmess of his entertaining work. If Horace Walpole had travelled in these provinces, where the remains of the feudal times are very numerous, he would have found many a castle more suited to his purpose; and it is rather curious, that at Castro, on the same coast, and only a few miles from Otranto, there exists a real, bond-fide castle, just such as he, and his follower, Mrs. Radcliffe, delighted to imagi ie, with dungeons, subterranean passages, dim halls, twisting, whispering corridors, and all other appurtenances of romance.


What makes baby so cross to-day ?
Why, my dear, he's cutting a tooth.
Domestic Dialogues, vol. cxi. p. 1003.

Most readers will recognise the above quotation, and acknowledge its absolute reality, its prosaic truth; but few are aware that the second teeth likewise may cut their way into the world under very inauspicious circumstances, or may subsequently excite convulsions by their malposition. A diligent and meritorious physician, however, Dr. Ashburner, has published a number of these cases, which are curious, as well as instructive. Thus, a boy, aged twelve, who was cutting the permanent back grinders of the upper jaw before those of the lower one, was seized with St. Vitus's dance. After this had continued three months, he had an epileptic fit. Dr. Ashburner found a hard cartilaginous space on each side behind his first grinder; and on this being cut through, he was not only freed from his fit, but cured of his St. Vitus's dance. In another case, a married lady, aged twenty-two, had been afflicted with epilepsy about three years, and was supposed to be past recovery. Dr. A. found that she had seven decayed grinders, one of which was the only wise tooth she had cut. These were extracted, and three hard cartilaginous obstacles to the progress of her teeth were removed; and the patient has now been free from epilepsy for several years.

But perhaps the most remarkable case of all was one occurring in the person of an eminent provincial phy

« PreviousContinue »