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The Moon Endureth

I. The Company Of The Marjolaine
"Qu'est-c'qui passe ici si tard,
Compagnons de la Marjolaine,"
-CHANSONS DE FRANCE
...I came down from the mountain and into the pleasing valley of the Adige in as pelting a
heat as ever mortal suffered under. The way underfoot was parched and white; I had
newly come out of a wilderness of white limestone crags, and a sun of Italy blazed
blindingly in an azure Italian sky. You are to suppose, my dear aunt, that I had had
enough and something more of my craze for foot-marching. A fortnight ago I had gone to
Belluno in a post-chaise, dismissed my fellow to carry my baggage by way of Verona,
and with no more than a valise on my back plunged into the fastnesses of those
mountains. I had a fancy to see the little sculptured hills which made backgrounds for
Gianbellini, and there were rumours of great mountains built wholly of marble which
shone like the battlements.
...1 This extract from the unpublished papers of the Manorwater family has seemed to the
Editor worth printing for its historical interest. The famous Lady Molly Carteron became
Countess of Manorwater by her second marriage. She was a wit and a friend of wits, and
her nephew, the Honourable Charles Hervey-Townshend (afterwards our Ambassador at
The Hague), addressed to her a series of amusing letters while making, after the fashion
of his contemporaries, the Grand Tour of Europe. Three letters, written at various places
in the Eastern Alps and despatched from Venice, contain the following short narrative....
of the Celestial City. So at any rate reported young Mr. Wyndham, who had travelled
with me from Milan to Venice. I lay the first night at Pieve, where Titian had the fortune
to be born, and the landlord at the inn displayed a set of villainous daubs which he swore
were the early works of that master. Thence up a toilsome valley I journeyed to the
Ampezzan country, valley where indeed I saw my white mountains, but, alas! no longer
Celestial. For it rained like Westmorland for five endless days, while I kicked my heels in
an inn and turned a canto of Aristo into halting English couplets. By-and-by it cleared,
and I headed westward towards Bozen, among the tangle of rocks where the Dwarf King
had once his rose-garden. The first night I had no inn but slept in the vile cabin of a
forester, who spoke a tongue half Latin, half Dutch, which I failed to master. The next
day was a blaze of heat, the mountain-paths lay thick with dust, and I had no wine from
sunrise to sunset. Can you wonder that, when the following noon I saw Santa Chiara
sleeping in its green circlet of meadows, my thought was only of a deep draught and a
cool chamber? I protest that I am a great lover of natural beauty, of rock and cascade, and
all the properties of the poet: but the enthusiasm of Rousseau himself would sink from
the stars to earth if he had marched since breakfast in a cloud of dust with a throat like the
nether millstone.
Yet I had not entered the place before Romance revived. The little town--a mere wayside
halting-place on the great mountain-road to the North--had the air of mystery which
 
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