by Mark Twain

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We voyaged by steamer down the Lago di Lecco, through wild mountain
scenery, and by hamlets and villas, and disembarked at the town of Lecco.
They said it was two hours, by carriage to the ancient city of Bergamo,
and that we would arrive there in good season for the railway train. We
got an open barouche and a wild, boisterous driver, and set out. It was
delightful. We had a fast team and a perfectly smooth road. There were
towering cliffs on our left, and the pretty Lago di Lecco on our right,
and every now and then it rained on us. Just before starting, the driver
picked up, in the street, a stump of a cigar an inch long, and put it in
his mouth. When he had carried it thus about an hour, I thought it would
be only Christian charity to give him a light. I handed him my cigar,
which I had just lit, and he put it in his mouth and returned his stump
to his pocket! I never saw a more sociable man. At least I never saw a
man who was more sociable on a short acquaintance.

We saw interior Italy, now. The houses were of solid stone, and not
often in good repair. The peasants and their children were idle, as a
general thing, and the donkeys and chickens made themselves at home in
drawing-room and bed-chamber and were not molested. The drivers of each
and every one of the slow-moving market-carts we met were stretched in
the sun upon their merchandise, sound a sleep. Every three or four
hundred yards, it seemed to me, we came upon the shrine of some saint or
other--a rude picture of him built into a huge cross or a stone pillar by
the road-side.--Some of the pictures of the Saviour were curiosities in
their way. They represented him stretched upon the cross, his
countenance distorted with agony. From the wounds of the crown of
thorns; from the pierced side; from the mutilated hands and feet; from
the scourged body--from every hand-breadth of his person streams of blood
were flowing! Such a gory, ghastly spectacle would frighten the children
out of their senses, I should think. There were some unique auxiliaries
to the painting which added to its spirited effect. These were genuine
wooden and iron implements, and were prominently disposed round about the
figure: a bundle of nails; the hammer to drive them; the sponge; the reed
that supported it; the cup of vinegar; the ladder for the ascent of the
cross; the spear that pierced the Saviour's side. The crown of thorns
was made of real thorns, and was nailed to the sacred head. In some
Italian church-paintings, even by the old masters, the Saviour and the
Virgin wear silver or gilded crowns that are fastened to the pictured
head with nails. The effect is as grotesque as it is incongruous.

Here and there, on the fronts of roadside inns, we found huge, coarse
frescoes of suffering martyrs like those in the shrines. It could not
have diminished their sufferings any to be so uncouthly represented.
We were in the heart and home of priest craft--of a happy, cheerful,
contented ignorance, superstition, degradation, poverty, indolence, and
everlasting unaspiring worthlessness. And we said fervently: it suits
these people precisely; let them enjoy it, along with the other animals,
and Heaven forbid that they be molested. We feel no malice toward these

Product Details

BN ID: 2940012773395
Publisher: SAP
Publication date: 07/23/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 101 KB

About the Author

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), best known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an author and humorist noted for the novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which has been called "The Great American Novel") and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, among many other books. Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and he spent time as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before finding fame as a writer.

Date of Birth:

November 30, 1835

Date of Death:

April 21, 1910

Place of Birth:

Florida, Missouri

Place of Death:

Redding, Connecticut

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