The Transylvanian Pilgrim

excerptsVienna, December 1838 "Extra Hungariam non est vita, si est vita, non est ita." Vienna and Bucharest! Oh, what a difference between these two cities! Like the sun and the planets is this Capital surrounded by adequate corollaries stretching to the margins of the Empire.Bucharest is bordered by paltry hamlets, made up of huts and adobes extending to its barriers. Naturally, it is a beautiful citadel but compared to Vienna, no, next to Pest or even Timisoara it cuts a sorry figure, being just a village as regards its architecture and institutions.I shall not indulge in a wealth of descriptions since that would be vain effort. This is not the place to depict nature for nowhere have I found it more delightful than in that region of Transylvania, the cradle of Romanianhood. The highlight of Vienna is the tower of Saint Stephen Metropolitan Church. Of all man-made achievements, this is the third monument in matter of height after the pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and the tower of the Strasbourg Cathedral on the left bank of the Rhine. It was erected five hundred years ago in river stone, and at the top it has a 400-kg bell cast in metal taken from Turkish cannons. Legend has it that the foundation was laid in limestone slaked in wine. As in the foundation year the wine was mighty sour indeed, the Prince, not to have the stomach of his workers upset by such unpalatable beverage ordered every drop of it to be sprinkled in sacrifice at the base of the tower. Which the workers promptly did.We, Romanians, have the custom of taking a pebble in one's mouth when we see new places; it's the same here when you want to climb the tower of Saint Stephen. Could I prove less inquisitive than others? So I did go up and I put down my name next to thousand others, as high up and as clearly as I could. From there I has a magnificent view over the entire city of four hundred thousand souls. Poor souls, so crammed one on top of another! Houses in Vienna are as tall as mountains, the streets look like cleavage between rocks, and the dwellers – I must tell you this about them – grope about, on horse, on foot or in various kinds of carriages, swarming so busily that you wonder how they do not squash each other.The major characteristic of Viennese people is silence. They do not shout, or talk. They just buzz on in the streets, like bees in hives. I fail to understand how so much elbowing, pushing and shoving in narrow, dark streets does not put them in a vociferous disposition.In Bucharest, those who have something to sell say so loudly on bridges, bellowing out their advertisement. Not here, God forbid!The Viennese are slender like rakes – no doubt it is the light food that accounts for this as everything here is so frightfully expensive – and also sprightly like birds. A Viennese will never think twice when you ask for directions but instantly walk with you to show you the exact spot you are looking for. Well, to cut a long story short they are amiable and kind, you would not find more kind. But first, as I have prefixed my epistle by a specific Hungarian saying – though I passed through Hungary in a shake of a lamb's tail so to speak – I must needs write some words about this country.Except for citadels, there is not so much difference between Hungary and Wallachia. The same smooth plain as at the foot of the Carpathians, the same low and badly roofed huts like everywhere in Romania. Only that the Hungarian flatland is also adorned by a sandy region, and the Hungarians of the lowland wear spurs, even if they go bare-footed, and they are so clamorous it makes you sick to look at them, which does not happen with the Romanians be they as miserable as possible.The roads are just as the Lord made them by His Word; nobody ever disturbs nature by working on it, just like in Romania. I entered Hungary proper* at night, through Szeged where for the first time I had paprikash, a sort of national Hungarian stew, so peppery to make you palate and your heart catch fire. We then passed through another big village with thirty thousand inhabitants, called Kecskemet, and then we reached Pest which was inundated by the overflowing Danube that separates it from its sister city, Buda. Buda is wonderfully situated on a summit and there is nothing more enthralling than a view form the Palace across to Pest, along the embankment and the River.Hungary also resembles Romania in the fact that it is a wealthy country in everything, and its inhabitants, as the proverb goes, praise it beyond compare.So, the Romanians say that who has had a taste of Dambovita water will never be able to forget the place. Now the Hungarians claim that "there's no life outside Hungary, and even if it is, it is not so good."  Milan, January 1838"Oh, il bel paese,Che l'Apennin parte,Il Mar' circonda, e l'Alpo."(Dante)How many days it took us to travel from Vienna to this city, I ignore; all I know is that we left winter behind in Carinthia, and as soon as we entered Pontebba, Friuli, it was summer.If in the German lands the roads are macadamized, and all flat, in Italy they are not only good in the superlative but also scenic and luxuriant. On both sides there are pyramidal poplars, and every twenty feet there rise rounded stone marks.We passed through numerous towns and citadel-like villages but we did not linger more than for a repast and a little siesta. We remarked in particular the pavements of the streets, the stone mosaics, and the square stone slabs like as many pieces of fabrics lain on the road.All the villages are built well and strongly, and the field, an uninterrupted flatland like in Romania, is a never-ending garden.In general, the plots are square, and all around there grow mulberries and blackberries and willows, then vineyard as thick as a leg, propped on trees instead of pikes. Every plot of land is filled with canals in which water flows and the dams are thus put in place as to make irrigation easy. People here cultivate rice and also maize, like in Romania. Everybody grows silkworms, that is why they need so many mulberry leaves. The willows support the vineyard and provide excellent firewood as well, as every two years they are chopped down by half. But then the weather is not cold in this country, and the wood is plentiful.How I would like to see Romania's plains like this, for our land is as good as gold.Milan is the metropolitan seat of Saint Ambrose. I have always been religious and have respected every church. So, I have seen, among others, the church dedicated to Saint Ambrose with a chapel to the taste of the Catholics, frightfully decorated all the way with the bones of the champions of Orthodoxy led by said archbishop in the battle against the Arians, who had laid down their lives for the cause.But it is not the religious feeling alone that prompts you to enter a Catholic abode in Italy. The churches are museums, salons, theaters, treasuries of the fine arts, you can say, conservatories of painting, sculpture and music. And this happens everywhere, not only in the cities, but also in monasteries.The Dome of Milan is unrivalled in this world. Imagine a mountain of white marble, crisscrossed by a network of thousands of statues and crowned by a forest of turrets and towers, like as many glaciers aspiring to the sky, and all bearing the figure of a saint at the pinnacle. Words fail me.All the cathedrals have several bells that are masterfully situated and when they toll the harmonies they give are so melancholy that your heart mellows before you can get used to the sounds. And then the churches are closed only one hour a day and therefore the bells seem to be tolling ceaselessly.Milan is a festive city and many guests stay here in summer because it is not excessively hot. Now the weather is like our spring but here being winter there are not many foreigners. A few Englishmen and we spend our day at the Grand Bretagna Hotel, wining and dining and making merry for it is just as inexpensive as in Bucharest.In Vienna they serve coffee in thimble-like cups, accompanied by pastries as small as beans. Here cups are like tumblers, pastries are white, not so delicate as in Vienna, that is true, but plentiful, and they serve a mound of fresh butter for breakfast, eight courses at lunch, tea in the afternoon, a cornucopian diner, and wine as much as you like. The wine is black red but harsh as it comes from the hills, nestled between trees. But the food is fine: risotto di Milano and polenta con uccelli, that is a sort of pilaf with roasted sparrows. As I have a lot of spare time I visited all the theaters, the BreraMuseum, and everything that is worth mentioning in the world of fine arts. Can you believe that I have seen paintings at one hundred thousand florins? Not your measly wall hanging at Necula! I could not believe my eyes, and yet… See, my friend, how these gents appreciate art! Stupid peoples cherish only gold, but the bright ones delight in the arts. In this respect Italy is the foremost country in the world. It actually teems with artists. Yesterday three of us climbed up the Cathedral like in Vienna, to take in the delightful overall view for shortly we shall be leaving. Our cicerone, don Diego, a sagacious man who served as officer under Napoleon, surfeited with the wonders of the place, for him a daily and therefore routine affair, shows us the flights of stairs. He prefers not to go up but to have a "bicchier di vino" in the neighboring tavern while waiting for us.We got lost on the upper levels, with all that admiring the towers and zigzagging for a couple of hours to see them better.  Rome, February 1839 "Roma, Roma, regina orbis,Cuius par est nihil et nihil secundum!"**My distinguished friend, I shall present to you everything beautiful, grandiose and interesting I have seen starting from Milan. I shall not bring up the Sea, the Mediterranean at Genoa where I saw it for the first time, but I shall write only about Rome, our mother, and about Trajan, our father. It would be a pity to deal with paltry things in the short interval that I have to spend here. And what does not seem paltry when compared to Rome and Trajan?We can hardly sit down and have our daily meals or indulge in repose for there are so many things to see, so many things to admire. It is carnival time. And what can be more out-of-the-ordinary in the genre of festivals than the carnival of Rome today? I for one am more interested in ancient Rome though. Rome, my brother! Rome which I have never dreamt of visiting – and here I am at its heart!It is not in vain that it is called the EternalCity. It was the sovereign of the pagan world at the time of paganism; today it is the regina of the Christian world, a world worthy of spiritual and material consideration.Modern Rome is big, memorable; but it is not in this that resides its strength but in the ancient side: its grandiose memories, its cadaver mostly buried and now partly disinterred, so full of life and vitality.Some Pope had the happy idea of consecrating all ancient monuments, turning them into Christian temples. It was only thus that they escaped ravishment and total annihilation for he who touches them commits a sacrilege.Nearly all the ancient monuments have lost their one-time name and original destination, to accommodate the present. No wonder then that you can now see Christian martyrs replacing fabulous gods, and the holy women of modern faith taking the place of mythological fairies.Agrippa's Pantheon is the church of All Saints, the caves of the beasts in the Flavian Coliseum are as many altars to the martyrs of the Christian faith who were once fed to the wild animals. The Holy Mary has everywhere dethroned Juno, Vesta and Minerva.And sadly the famous Roman Forum, the heart of the Rome of yore, is today called the Fields of Cows and goats and calves come to graze among the extant rostra.Is this the Rome that once made the world tremble as far as the borders of Asia? This is not Rome! This destitute place is the mortuary of Rome, its corpse and the present-day inhabitants are the worms that gnaw at it mightily!No day passes without a fresh discovery of yet another relic in the resplendent city. The Italians preserve these spoils religiously not for the sake of their historical memorability or in respect of the antiquity, but out of mean interest.These retrieved relics attract a lot of foreigners from all over the world.We have put up at the Russia Hotel in the Piazza del Popolo, close to the citadel with the same name.This morning we went on Via del Corso, the most recent and most beautiful street in new Rome. We passed by the Capitoline Hill, saw on the run the abundant, grandiose ruins, passed by the Roman Forum, under the Arch of Titus, along the Via Sacra, close to the Palatine Hill, the cradle of all Roman greatness, down to the Flavian Amphitheater, the most magnificent ruin in the world. Then we walked by the hills of the Esquiline, the Viminal and the Quirinal, past the Forum of Trajan, which, praise to the Lord, even today bears the ancient name of Foro Traiano.That great is the respect our forefather Trajan enjoys after seventeen centuries!This forum erected by Trajan after having dislodged part of the Quirinal Hill, still features the foundations and parts of columns from the basilica of this divine hero, while in the middle, discovered not long ago, there rises a magnificent obelisk in white marble that once had at the top of the statue of Emperor Trajan for all to worship. To the same end today there stands the statue of Apostle Paul.Trajan's Column is intact and memorable by its proportions, shape and molding. The entire military exploits of divus Trajan are triumphantly depicted from the bottom to the top in winding bas-reliefs. There are two thousand and five hundred human figures, no two alike, besides the horses, the chariots, the war machines, weapons, banners and other such things sculptured all around the column. The extreme variety of the carvings is downright amazing. Great space is dedicated to the wars waged against the Dacians, the forefathers of the Romanians, whose figures and attire resemble those of the Transylvanian Tutuiani of today. We climb one hundred and eighty-five steps cut in marble inside the column that make up a spiral staircase sparsely lit by openings.In our mind, we imagine we are back home on the peak of the BucegiMountain from where we glance down on the provinces of our Dacia."See," says Mr. C.C., "Rome with its seven hills is the very pendant of our Dacia with its seven provinces: Transylvania, Marmatia, Moldavia, Bessarabia, Istriana, Temisana and Crisana!""And this desert? Oh, how much it resembles that in our unfortunate lands!"We ruminated about the leper eating at the Roman people in Italy and the leper and manger sucking away and draining the sweat of the Daco-Roman people: serfdom, the corvée, one and the same thing, a plague letting them vegetate in extreme misery and abjection.Oh, the decadence! Oh, the calamity! Oh, the sad reality!How long will you allow, Lord, the Roman scions in the West and in the East to suffer? How long will you make the time for them to redeem their ancient sins? Up to what generation of this kin do you intend to go on rebuking this people? We learnt from our guide – whether it be true or not, I cannot vouchsafe – that the statue of Saint Paul high there on the column is the ancient one of Trajan and only the head is different. So, when I had descended the stairs in the column – may the Lord and His Holy Apostles forgive me – I kissed the feet of the pagan idol piously and religiously as he featured the best Roman prince of the golden age of the universal Empire. After having fulfilled this duty which, I believe, no Romanian can ignore if passing by this sacred place, I returned to the hotel as it was getting late.I slowly became engrossed in meditation like it had happened to me at the top of the column. Who could go on writing in such a state of spirit? Vale et fave! Rome, February 1839"Plus on est honnete homme, plus on est religieux, mais on garde sa foi pour soi, on est indulgent pour les autres."Religion is inborn in people and it is perpetrated from generation to generation through education. I do not think there is a single religion in this world which has the purpose of making people bad. On the contrary, they are all destined to ennoble the soul, and direct people towards what is good in order to escape their animal nature, prone to do evil.Rome is Catholic and the Pope, its visible head, is the object of universal veneration. I do not find the Romans to be bigots as here nobody comes with other religious principles as Catholicism in its grandeur offers enough spiritual food on the one hand and sufficient curiosity on the other to silence any dereliction or contrary zealotry.No religion more accommodating can be conceived for Italy, for the inhabitants of this Eden than the Catholic cult, eminently poetical and sensual, and entirely copied from the local ante-Christian traditions.We have been in Rome for twenty days now and from morning till evening we have visited monuments, some in ruins, some still standing, ancient and modern, amphitheaters, circuses, galleries, museums, temples and churches. Still, we would need twenty years to see and assess all.Rome does not lack in closed places where you can admire rare, venerable artifacts: here museums are in the open. There is not a single house, however modest, that is not decorated with statues, statuettes and relics, two thousand years old.The faces of the most virtuous men as well as those of the most terrible tyrants lie in the dust, broken in smithereens, trodden under foot in the streets, near fences, covered in nettles and thus averring the words of the Holy Scriptures that everything that is high shall be lowered and everything that creeps shall be elevated.The soil, the clods, and the very dust in the streets of this famous citadel are still sacred and worthy of veneration. Anywhere else they would become an object of cult, archeological or even Christian religious.Don't they contain in themselves atoms of Brutus, Cato, Cicero, or Trajan? Is not the tiniest molecule sacred by the legions of martyrs of the Christian faith who were killed for the amusement of a Caligula, Nero, Domitian and of the whole Roman people, sovereign of the world but a slave to its tyrants. This adulterated people that invented five words for "blood" and ten for "to kill."Is such a wealth of cruel phrases characteristic enough of the pagan Roman, just as so many saints and festivals and relics in which Rome trades are characteristic for the Christian Romans?Rome is the wealthiest city in matters of fine arts. Here they are all at home, sculpture, painting, architecture, which also give birth to music and poetry. In Rome every nation has an academy of arts and disciples sent there to improve their training because here more than anywhere else you can find the models of real beauty produced not by nature but by artistic genius.The masterpieces of ancient Greek artists have been preserved in Rome to this day: Hercules Farnese, Apollo of Belvedere and Venus Medici, pedestrian statues, matchless paragons so named according to the place where they are kept.Hercules Farnese is the symbol of strength, Apollo of Belvedere the ideal of virile beauty, and Venus Medici the epitome of perfect feminine forms devised by the ancient artist, as they say, from the best features of nine most gracious virgins who served as models.The immortal Raphael Sanzio and Michelangelo Buonarotti left painting and architecture masterpieces. Then the famous Saint Peter's of Vatican is no doubt unrivalled in the world, truly worthy of being a cathedral for the entire world owing to its beauty, preciousness and grandeur.Also renowned was the Temple of Diana of Ephesus, which made immortal the criminal Erostrat who set fire to it; a wonder was also the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, and downright grandiose the Agia Sophia of Constantinople. For when Justinian saw this last one completed, he exclaimed in ecstasy: "I have beat you, Solomon!" Yet, all these do not hold a candle to Saint Peter's of the Vatican.Imagine a huge round plaza, guarded on both sides by gigantic porticoes supported by four hundred majestic columns crowned by two hundred colossal statues. In the middle there rises an Egyptian obelisk in red granite with two foundations on both sides at an equal distance, and several superposed basins overflowed ceaselessly by water that is pushed up in the air only to fall down in murmurs and bright rays like a sheath of arched wheat ears. Nothing more sumptuous than this plaza at the western end of which rises the majestic frontispiece of the church with a gallery that supports the colossal statues of Christ and of the twelve Apostles, allowing the vista of the superb cupola and two adjoining belfries.When you enter through one of the five bronze gates of the church you stand in awe, in the grips of the loftiest religious feeling as if inside the holy citadel of the Apocalypse.The church is six hundred feet long and four hundred and forty in the width of the cross. The main dome is four hundred and forty-three feet. The whole edifice has yet another vestibule some sixty feet long.It took about a thousand years to build this church and the cost rose to three hundred million. There is no monument more wondrous on the face of the earth. Magnificent, brilliant and colossal as it is, this building stands all in proportion and likewise everything in it so that it does not seem big because all its parts are in harmony with each other, and the whole appears natural by analogy.Gold, bronze, and marble of all sorts, then sculptures, paintings, mosaics, and other architectural elements decorate this peerless monument.But no more descriptions! Just let me tell you some curious things about it.Close to the cupola, at the end of the main nave, on the right there rises the curule statue of Saint Peter, in bronze. Its facing foot, for being ceaselessly kissed by the faithful has become so worn out that it acquired holes.Under the principal altar, there is the so-called Confession of Saint Peter, that is the crypt where the body of the Apostle is preserved. It is splendidly decorated in marble and gold and at night one hundred and twelve lamps burn around it, always filled with butter or animal fat, not with oil. I could not find the reason why.The biggest altar is elevated on seven steps, turned to the east and is used only for the pontifical service of his Sanctity the Pope. Above is a baldachin in Corinthian metal, supported by four twisted pilasters in the same metal, precious as gold. Its is one hundred and thirty-two feet tall and placed right under the big dome. In this wonderful church there is also the cathedra of Apostle Peter which a Pope can climb only after having preached for twenty-six years, as many as the prince of Apostles, Peter had served. That is what the guide told us. I have also seen forty confessional chairs for all the languages spoken by Catholic Christians in the world. All these languages can be learnt in Rome in the famous College De Propaganda Fide.I went up on the cupola on such a smooth flight of stairs that one could climb it on horseback. The cross at the top, fifteen feet tall, with a golden globe under it, seems no bigger than an apple from down there. It contains chairs for sixteen persons.We must leave tomorrow and I am very sorry for just like I could not see the Caesar in Vienna, here in Rome I have not met the Pope. He is ill and does not go out. Something else about the carnival, which willy-nilly, I experienced fully the previous week, as it passed right in front of our door, in Piazza del Popolo. There are four principal moments about the Roman carnival: I Confetti, La mossa de'Barberi, I Moccoletti and La Girandola. It resembles a lot the ancient Saturnalia and lasts eight days, right before Shrovetide.Every day, starting from two in the afternoon the inhabitants of Rome, small and big, and also about one hundred foreigners from all the corners of Europe go out in the street, on Via del Corso. Most of them are costumed and masked, and they run up and down, some in carriages, making faces and playing pranks.Some throw confetti at each other, and flowers too. From Porta del Popolo down to the Capitoline Hill, over quite a distance people are thronging.In the evening, twelve horses decked with flower, ribbons and bells are let loose among the hundreds of thousands of shouting people. They run from the Corso to the Piazza del Popolo and this is called the Mossa.Tuesday evening, the last day of the carnival – Catholics fast on Tuesday but only for forty days, not like us for forty-two, beginning the fast the previous Sunday – the show of masques goes on until night. When dark comes they light candles, called moccoletti, which results in a magical illumination of the streets. Some put tens of small wicks on a stick and they carry it like the caduceus of Mercury. Meanwhile others strive to put out these lights, crying "Senza moccoletti! Senza moccoletti!"At one – that is seven in European style (for here they use Babylonian clocks with twenty-four hours a day, starting from sundown which always occurs at twenty-four) – the roof and the cupola of the Vatican basilica get lit like by magic as thousands of persons are employed in this undertaking. The spectators can enjoy a magnificent show from the Pincian Hill. Finally, lights begin to die out, and at the mausoleum of Hadrian, today Castle Sant'Angelo great fireworks go on. First come simple rockets, then colored ones, and lastly, with a lot of rumor, superb bouquets. This is the "girandola."Afterwards we went to the ball that lasted until midnight when a bell was tolled and as if boiling water were poured on demons so everybody dashed out of the hall, leaving it empty.Today, when we wake up, Rome is silent as a grave and the numerous priests (as the proverb goes clergy here make up ninety-five percent of the population) devotedly walk up and down the streets, going in and out of churches to praise the Almighty for the Saturnalia are over now, and the Heavenly Kingdom is close at hand – it's Ash Wednesday.Now I'll leave you until we meet in Bucharest. God be with you! London, September 1840"En illa, illa quam saepe optastis,libertas; praeterea divitiae, decus,gloria in oculis sita sunt."(Sallustius Crispus) In Europe there are only two big peoples in the actual sense of the word: the French and the British. Writers liken the former to the ancient Greeks and the latter to the Romans especially in matters of national major characteristics.The French, in their frivolous inconstancy, their convulsive tendency towards revolution, their tasteful luxury and their writings exuding immoderate charm, resemble the Greeks. But also their great deeds and influence on the general culture of the peoples turn them into the true Romans of the modern times. On the other hand, the British possess constancy – Rome's prevailing virtue – to an extreme yet their speculative spirit, their mundane, egotistic habits are nothing else than Greek attributes.Allied, these two nations are destined to lead the world and to always decide on the lot of the other peoples.This is my theory about the respective countries and their inhabitants. Now I shall endeavor to put everything I know into practice so that I can prove my words as best I can. By the evening tide the same day we embarked on the Great Britain which weighed anchor and set sail on the Channel. The captain spoke French; I walked to him and asked him some questions. With much more affability than I would have expected from a Briton he started explaining to me the virtues of the compass and the use of the thirty-two wind rose in which only time-tested sailors are versed. Later, he pointed out to the British coast, white, chalky whence the old name of Albion was derived, and which the French compounded by the epithet "perfidious."The British, unlike the French, are grave and taciturn. They will speak gladly only when given the opportunity to praise the institutions of their homeland. The captain too made it plain that Britain was the mother of political freedom, and that in order to preserve it they built more warships than the French had commercial vessels, and so on an so forth, more similar far-fetched things in my humble judgment. I wondered why nobody asked us to present our passports. The guide explained that such an institution as the customs was very remote from the British spirit, being just a continental luxury.Indeed, there is no meaner obstacle for travelers than this safety paper invented with speculative purposes in mind, which makes you lose such a whole lot of time because even if everybody usually comes to your assistance in case of disappearance you still fail to get a visa and furthermore you must support a few voracious consuls and agents for the cost of a visa. First of all in London you are amazed by the crowds and the extreme quiet, then your eyes are caught by the exemplary cleanliness of the streets, the simplicity of the buildings and the attire of people, more uniform, more manly, and, generally, dark gray.All the streets are wide, straight and, thoroughfares in particular, lined with wood, not only Macadam-coated. The architecture of the house is not stylish like in Paris and neither are the buildings very solid since this city is a whole world, with nearly two million people. As London keeps on growing every year it has stretched across private properties over distances as big as our Olt region. Many districts bear the name of garden such and such. The plots of land are leased for twenty-five to thirty years or longer and the constructors calculate the fees only for that period of time and start erecting various structures very quickly.In the absence of the French luster, in London there reigns a luxury of comfort unknown elsewhere; all the stairs are furnished down to the street with the same paper as the rooms, naturally. Obviously, the constant wet air is responsible for this luxury. Then in front of most houses there are flower gardens. The kitchens are placed in the basement like cellars in order to keep the mildew out.No other city possesses so many plazas as London, and most of them are called squares according to their shape. They are all endowed with monuments, not all grandiose, and also with flower gardens, greenery and trees in the middle. These gardens, usually round, are enclosed with iron grills and augment the delight of their neighbors.In London there are also public gardens or rather public fields for they are big, green lawns only, tall thick trees and running waters or crystal-clear lakes. Here and there flower beds are planted. Such public places meant for the delight of the people are Regent's, Green, Hyde and Saint James' Parks. On Sunday and festive days the people stroll in these parks, otherwise there are only foreigners and the aristocracy swarming around. London, September 1840"Sie sassen und assen beim TheestischUnd sprachen von Liebe viel,Die Herren, die waren ästhetisch,Die Damen von zartem Gefühl."(A sarcastic German) To be able to see more things I asked our cicerone, Giuseppe Sogno, to show me some curiosities, so he took me to the BritishMuseum. It boasts a treasure trove of statues from Egypt, Greece, Italy, the two Indies, and very numerous rarities, all neatly arranged according to period and country. These, I am told, have been purchased with the gold of rich lords and patriotically dedicated to the museum.I found most extraordinary the petrified skeletons of antediluvian animals, mastodons, mammoths, and ichthyosaurs. Then in the yard the skeleton of a whale, life size, as long as a monstrous ship with its bones seeming antiquated fir-tree beams.Then I also saw Saint Paul's Cathedral, a monument of architecture like the Saint Peter of the Vatican, only smaller, and besides a few profane monuments, very little depicted inside. Finally, I visited the tunnel under the Thames, one of the wonders of the world, surpassing many of the most applauded artifacts of the antiquity. As the city of London extended too much to the mouth of the Thames the lack of stable communication between the banks of this river and the impossibility of erecting a bridge – which would have hampered ships from entering the port of London, the so-called London Docks – they decided to lay a road under the water, an undertaking carried out by a French called Brunnel. It is a two-path gangway.I found most bizarre a British custom that everyone told me was natural. During our peripatetics we felt thirsty and Signor Sogno invited us to a café for refreshments. But whereas we expected lemonade, orange juice or cold sherbet we were served hot tea. The British are practical homeopaths: one fire drives out another. We are still unschooled.Last night I went to Covent Garden, an absolutely splendid hall, to listen to an opera in English. I did not like the singing at all for the concatenation of monosyllabic words jarred on my ears. They say that the short English words are most convenient for sailing orders. In fact, the British are amazed that other people can give indications in languages far from concise as their own. That may be but for opera singing this language is not appropriate. Harmony requires sonorous, clear vowels, not half swallowed and aspired like in English.Great Britain is without doubt the most civilized state in the world. I have watched the thing most attentively: you must look as much as you please to find a brass man. It's either their army is small or their soldiers are still permitted to wear civvies when they are off duty. Anyway, the streets teem with the so-called constables, a sort of policemen, armed with short lead-filled sticks with the royal coat-of-arms. Everyone must obey them for otherwise they can very well get a taste of the leaden stick.The core of London, the City consists mostly of smal