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that, after an indifferent dinner, it was not pleasant to support the draughts of cold air in the carpetless
Even in bed, however, there was frequently little real rest to be obtained. Too often one was tormented by fleas, kept awake by bad music intended as a serenade, and finally roused before daybreak by the noise in the streets.
No bathrooms furnished with luxurious fittings were to be found in even the best hotels, and at times one was of necessity obliged to belong to the "great unwashed," for at the smaller inns the means of ablution were often limited to a little warm water brought in a milk jug.
I wonder what people accustomed to the luxurious and palatial hotels of to-day would say, could they be carried back to the past and had to put up with the old-fashioned Italian inns in which we were obliged to stay. At certain portions of our tour it was impossible to procure anything beyond the coarsest necessaries, though the hostelries were a good deal frequented by English travellers.
The best one could generally hope to find after ascending a staircase, never washed since the staves composing it had been laid, was a room with a dusty, uncarpeted brick floor containing a couple of beds, each large enough to hold three or four persons, a few wooden, rush-bottomed chairs, a wine-stained deal table, and a basin and jug. The beds in question consisted of boards laid on iron tressels on which was an
immense sack of the dried leaves of Indian corn with a wool mattress, and flat hair cushions by way of pillow and bolster. As some sort of compensation these were generally clean, about the only things in the inn in connexion with which that word could fairly be used. The dinner provided as a rule consisted of warm water thickened with vermicellicalled soup; wine that seemed to be sweet and sour at the same time; bread made of beans, as a large one found unground in a roll would occasionally remind one; chickens, thin, stringy, and fresh killed; coarse cotton diaper for table linen; pepper as coarse as gravel; and, to crown everything, dirty salt. The worst inns of all were on the shores of the Adriatic, large desolate places where they gave you little else but bad bread, rancid butter, stale fish, to be washed down by undrinkable wine.
Of course we did not fare so badly as this discription implies, for we carried a travelling larder which generally contained contained mutton chops and portable soup. One of my worst experiences was at Vicenza, where, as a child, I passed eight weeks with my mother in a horrible inn, waiting for my father, who was delayed in England. We were so uncertain of our movements and the place was so dirty that we never really unpacked. Occupying the only two tolerable sitting-rooms, we were nevertheless most uncomfortable, for we had scarcely any books and none were to be obtained in the town; our only recreation was worsted work, at that time highly popular with ladies.
Even to-day I can thoroughly revive the discomforts of our sojourn by looking at a painted china plate which represents our abode at Vicenza, various views, including one of the bedroom I occupied, being depicted in the margin.
This plate, I may add, belongs to a set which my father had made as a reminder of our tour abroad, many of the towns we visited being represented. The series was taken from water-colour sketches, the work of my clever governess Miss Eliza Redgrave. She came of a talented family-her brother, Mr. Samuel Redgrave, wrote "A Dictionary of Artists of the English Schools," and other works-another brother, Mr. Richard Redgrave, was also well known in the world of Art.
He lent us
One of our worst trials at Vicenza was the food, which was execrable, and, I may add, after we had been imprudent enough to take a look at the kitchen, almost uneatable. I well remember how relieved we were when an English friend of my uncle's, a retired officer, who for some extraordinary reason resided at Vicenza, came back and called upon us. His kindly efforts softened the rigour of our sojourn. some novels and the letters of Madame de Sevigné, which was all his library contained, and subsequently mended our bad fare with the gift of a pigeon pie, which-think of this, ye travellers who feast at palatial hotels—was to us a highly appreciated luxury. As an additional kindness he took us to see a picture gallery-which in sober truth was but a
collection of daubs-and the far more interesting Rotunda, a Palladian Villa from which the Duke of Devonshire's house at Chiswick was copied. With him for guide we also saw the rival castles of the Montecchi and Capuletti, and finally ended by being taken to the play, which, however, proved a far more dreary amusement than sitting at home, for the theatre was empty and the performance wretched. Later on he offered to show us pretty rides, but these were not a success, as they mostly lay up and down steep, stony hills, or along routes bordered with ditches into which the shouts and furious driving of the country carters many times all but precipitated the overfed and underworked horses which we had brought with us from England.
When we were shown this gentleman's pretty house, prepared for the reception of English visitors, we thought there were hopes of society at last. These, however, were doomed to fail, for when the Major's guests did arrive we received no invitation-this we afterwards discovered because the new arrivals were too Bohemian in their life and habits.
Modern travellers rush through towns, and very few of them now mix with the local society. Things were different in this respect in old days when people generally took with them letters of introduction, and if they remained any length of time in a town saw a good deal of the inhabitants.
When I was at Munich with my parents in the Forties we quite entered into the life of that pleasant
A CONSTANT SWAIN
town, and were told all the gossip. One curious story I recall an instance of fidelity-which is perhaps worth recording. The whole thing was a romance which culminated in a marriage-for many a long day the talk of the Bavarian capital.
Twenty years before a lady of Munich, well born but poor, had refused a penniless attaché who was desperately in love with her-she was even then on the wrong side of five-and-twenty.
During our visit the erstwhile attaché came back as Sardinian Minister with an immense fortune from Brazil. With matchless constancy he returned to his first love, whom he found living with her mother and sister on a pension which was to cease at the death of the former. This time she accepted him; "ugly, poor, and forty-eight," she made the best match in Munich. The bridegroom gave her all her trousseau, which was universally considered a magnificent one, for it contained fifty gowns. Almost incredible stories were also told about the diamonds, lace, and rich furs which he laid at her feet.
A romantic attachment, indeed, the interest of which was not decreased by his constantly reiterated expressions of gratitude for the sacrifice the lady was making in marrying him!
We were all very sorry to leave Munich, and we too were regretted by some of the residents, who, as my dear and clever governess put it, "privileged by acquaintance and friendship," followed us with kind adieux to the carriage which bore us away.