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flogging his active little horse in apprehension
of pursuit; but he had generally an impudent
nod for one, a smile for another, and now and
then a wink, which I would rather not have
seen responded to so readily; insomuch as I
noticed on one occasion, that it was
accompanied by a thrust of the tongue into the
cheek, to indicate me; and that the passers-by
seemed to have a lively appreciation of
some pleasantry at my expense. The rag-a-muffin
is the same all over the world, from
Naples to Notting Hill; he only changes
his name. Let him have his jest and
welcome, for all I care. An Englishman is, in his
eyes, as odd an apparition as an Italian is in
ours. Our merry little horses patter bravely
along over the stones; and I confess I am
not prepared to find a stout man hanging on
to the tail of mine as we scrambled up the
steep places. I object to it mildly at first,
and afterwards come to a resolute halt till he
loses his hold; but he assures mewith a
shake of the head, as if humouring a child
that the horses rather like having their tails
pulled than otherwise; and though he will
let go if I insist upon it, yet it will be
depriving them of a pleasure.

Here comes an immense train of artillery,
all drawn by mules. Suppose they were to
turn obstinate at the wrong time and go
over to the enemy? They seem fine docile
animals, however; some must be sixteen
hands high, and they are much hardier and
easier fed than horses; do more work and last
longer. I wonder how a better breed of
mules would pay in England, and why mules
have such a bad reputation with us, when we
have never given them a fair trial and know
nothing about them? Our little runts of
things are no more like the magnificent
animals of Spain and Italy than a
wrong-headed Welch pony is like a hunter.

What passes next? A gang of prisoners in
chains, joking and laughing with half-a-dozen
straggling soldiers who accompany them. I
am told, however, that careless and indifferent
as these poor wretches seem, Mr. Gladstone's
pamphlet gave but an inadequate idea of the
horrors of a Neapolitan prison.

There goes a priest with a broad-brimmed
hat and stealthy stepa bad face, I am sorry
to say, if we dared believe in faces as, let me
confess it, we all do. They tell me (and I beg
to qualify all my remarks about Italy with
this phrase, for I had no time to judge for
myself,) that the ignorance of the Neapolitan
priesthood is something positively incredible;
that many of them cannot even read, and
that they lead lives of vice and licence in
places far away from the capital, it makes
one sad to think about.

Dinner over, I try to find "Il Teatro
Nuovo" which is situated in, what seemed
to me, going to it by night, rather an
out-of-the-way place. I am late; the
money-taker has to be summoned from a place
where he was enjoying the performance, to
receive our seven Carolins (about three
shillings) for two persons in the stalls.

I have already learned that the Neapolitans
love a noise, so that I am not surprised at
the deafening clamour which is going on.
Squeezing through a tumultuous tide of people,
therefore, as well as I can, I find myself soon
wedged tightly into one of those hard,
many-cornered, uncomfortable places which
managers of theatres have agreed to call the
stalls. Why not the stocks?

Fortunately I have been smoking a Neapolitan
cigar, so that my nose is armed and
protected for hours against any other odours,
however stinging; but, I declare, this
immense crowd is absolutely steaming. Well
it may. The evening is slightly damp, though
as warm as ever, and the theatre is as full as it
can hold. There appear no means of ventilation
in it, and the heated close atmosphere is
telling visibly on every one in the house.

A hissing noise among the audience is
followed by a dead silence, and a vivacious
elderly gentleman begins to sing one of those
long-winded songs which Charles Matthews
has contrived to imitate, even in English.
The language is the Neapolitan dialect, and,
therefore, hard to understand for a foreigner;
but, what I can make out does not quite please
me, and I notice especially one or two masked
hits at the priesthood. I am afraid also the
tendency of the performance is to exalt trick
and fraud of all kinds; for, let us talk about
the stage how we will, it is a National
School in which the scholars really learn.
Nothing is more plain to the commonest
observer than the effect which the Italian
stage has had on the Italian manners;
gesticulation and buffoonery have produced their
natural result. We cannot altogether do
away with the sense of the real at the theatre;
we begin, after a while, to look at what it
shows us as a true picture of life, and carry
the manners we have laughed at or cried over,
back into our homes, or into a deeper place
in our hearts than we think for. The
audience here are lively and excitable beyond
anything we cold folks can imagine. They are
never still five minutes during the evening;
now hissing for silence, now joining in
the choruses, and .now wildly applauding.
The theatre is a confirmed habit with the
Neapolitans; they cannot do without it. It
suits also their manners and ideas. There
are hundreds of Italians who live a life of the
utmost penury and privation at home that
they may shine in a gay carriage on the Corso,
and have a box at the theatre. To them the
theatre is what the club is to usthe general
point of re-union and gossip, and they receive
visits in their boxes; probably, for the best
of all reasons, that it entails no expense.

It is carnival time, when balls are plenty,
so the theatre ends early. At eleven o'clock
I am again investing fourpence-halfpenny in
a fare from the theatre to our hotel, where
I shall have to hunt for my white cravats

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