He has a queer,naive, ancient passion to be grand

The Lemon gardensThe padrone came just as we were drinking coffee after dinner. It wastwo o'clock, because the steamer going down the lake to Desenzano hadbustled through the sunshine, and the rocking of the water still madelights that danced up and down upon the wall among the shadows bythe pianoThe signore was very apologetic. I found him bowing in the hall, capin one hand, a slip of paper in the other, protesting eagerly, in brokenFrench, against disturbing meHe is a little, shrivelled man, with close-cropped grey hair on his skulland a protruding jaw, which, with his gesticulations, always makes methink of an andent, aristocratic monkey. The signore is a gentleman, andthe last, shrivelled representative of his race. His only outstanding quality, according to the villagers, is his avariceMais-mais, monsteur-je crains queque je nous derangeHe spreads wide his hands and bows, looking up at me with implicitbrown eves, so ageless in his wrinkled, monkev,s face, like onyx. Heoves to speak French, because then he feels grand. He has a queer,naive, ancient passion to be grand. As the remains of an impoverished fam-fly, he is not much better than a well-to-do peasant. But the old spirit iseager and pathetic in him.He loves to speak French to me. He holds his chin and waits, in hindety for the phrase to come. Then it stammers forth, a little rush, end-ing in Italian. But his pride is all on edge: we must continue in French.The hall is cold, vet he will not come into the large room This is not acurtesy visit. He is not here in his quality of gentleman. He is only ananxious villager.est-ceest-ce

He shows me the paper. It is an old scrap of print, the picture of anAmerican patent door-spring, with directions: Fasten the spring eithernd up Wind it up. Never unwindIt is laconic and American. The signore watches me andholding his chin. He is afraid he ought to understand myter off into French, confounded by the laconic phrasesNevertheless, I make it clear what the paper saysHe cannot believe me. It must say something else as well. He has notdone anything contrary to these directions. He is most distressedMais, monsieur, la porte-la porte-elle ferme pas-elle s outre-He skipped to the door and showed me the whole tragic mystery. Thedoor, it is shut-ecco! He releases the catch, and poufl-she flies open.She flies open. It is quite finalThe brown, expressionless, ageless eyes, that remind me of amonkey's, or of onyx, wait for me. I feel the responsibility devolve uponme. I am anxiousAllow me,'I said, to come and look at the door.feel uncomfortably like Sherlock Holmes. The padrone protests-mon,monsieur, non, cela tous derange-that he only wanted me to translate thewords, he does not want to disturb me. Nevertheless, we go. I feel I havethe honour of mechanical England in my handsThe Casa di Paoli is quite a splendid place. It is large, Pink and cream,rising up to a square tower in the centre, throwing off a painted loggia ateither extreme of the facade. It stands a little way back from the road,just above the lake, and grass grows on the bay of cobbled pavement infront. When at night the moon shines full on this pale facade, the theatreis far outdone in staginessThe hall is spacious and beautiful, with great glass doors at either end,through which shine the courtyards where bamboos fray the sunlightand geraniums glare red. The floor is of soft red tiles, olled and polishedlike glass, the walls are washed grey-white, the celling is painted withnk roses and birds. This is half-way between the outer world and theinterior world, it partakes of bothThe other rooms are dark and ugly. There is no mistake about their being interior. They are like furnished vaults. The red-tiled, polished floorin the drawing-room seems cold and clammy, the carved, cold furniturestands in its tomb, the air has been darkened and starved to death, it isperished

Outside, the sunshine runs like birds singing Up above, the grey rocksbuild the sun-substance in heaven, San Tommaso guards the terrace. Butinside here is the immemorial shadowAgain I had to think of the Italian soul, how it is dark, cleaving to theternal night. It seems to have become so, at the Renaissance, after theRenaissanceIn the Middle Ages Christian Europe seems to have been striving, ouof a strong, primitive, animal nature, towards the self-abnegation and theabstraction of Christ. This brought about by itself a great sense of com-pleteness. The two halves were joined by the effort towards the one aset unrealized. There was a triumphant joy in the WholeBut the movement all the time was in one direction, towards the elimination of the flesh. Man wanted more and more to become purely freeand abstract. Pure freedom was in pure abstraction. The Word was abso-lute. When man became as the Word, a pure law, then he was freeBut when this conclusion was reached, the movement broke. AlreadBotticelli painted Aphrodite, queen of the senses, supreme along withMary, Queen of Heaven And Michelangelo suddenly turned back on thewhole Christian movement, back to the flesh. The flesh was supreme andgod-like, in the oneness of the flesh, in the oneness of our physical being,we are one with God. with the Father. God the Father created man in theflesh, in His own image. Michelangelo swung right back to the old Mosa-ic position. Christ did not exst. To Michelangelo there was no salvationin the spirit. There was God the Father, the Begetter, the Author of allflesh. And there was the inexorable law of the flesh, the Last Judgement,the fall of the immortal flesh into hellThis has been the Itallan position ever since. The mind, that is theLight; the senses, they are the Darkness. Aphrodite, the queen of thesenses, she, born of the sea-foam, is the luminousness of the gleamingsenses, the phosphorescence of the sea, the senses become a consciousaim unto themselves; she is the gleaming darkness, she is the luminousnight, she is goddess of destruction, her white, cold fire consumes anddoes not createThis is the soul of the Italian since the Renaissance. In the sunshine hebasks asleep, gathering up a vintage into his veins which in the night-time he will distil into ecstatic sensual delight, the intense, white-cold ecstay of darkness and moonlight, the raucous, cat-like, destructive enjoy-ment, the senses conscious and crying out in their consclousness in thepangs of the enjoyment, which has consumed the southern nation, perhaps all the Latin races, since the Renaissance


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