Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

not exactly like anything else, as it carries the usual flatness of Sicilian work of all dates to an extreme, but it is so far like Northern work as to have a round arch. And so in the transepts there is a little passage or triforium within and some ornamental arcades without, far more like England or Normandy than Sicily. Otherwise the church is altogether after the pattern of its fellows. Or rather its only perfect fellow, the metropolitan church of Monreale, nearly thirty years younger, is after its pattern. These are the two that can be compared. The great churches of Palermo and Messina have been so brutally jesuited that at Palermo only scraps are left and even at Messina the general effect is destroyed. At Catania the great earthquake destroyed all but the apses. The chapel in the palace at Palermo, the most truly admirable building of them all, belongs to a slightly different class. It has the central cupola, which is certainly needed to give perfection to the design, but which is lacking both at Monreale and at Cefalii. "Without the cupola, the connecting feature of the whole building is lost within, and without the outline is heavy and ungainly. Indeed a Sicilian or Italian church without a cupola can hardly be said to have any outline at all. It may be noble in particular parts, but it hardly makes a whole; in a northern church the high roofs always provide an outline of some kind. Here at Cefalii we have western towers, but they are of no great account; they stand out, like those of Holyrood, and are connected by a portico or loggia, rebuilt or recast in the fifteenth century. The outside of the church should be walked round and studied from many points; but its real glory, like that of its fellows, is within. Only the eastern part has ever been covered with mosaic; but what there is is of the very best. Good judges call it the finest in Sicily. The nave is like the other naves of the style. Stately indeed they are with their long rows of

columns and pointed arches; though we feel—and such a feeling implies some measure of blame as a matter of architecture proper—that the plain arches, and the plain clerestory above, with no triforium between them, ask for mosaic. A Greek temple and a Gothic church do not in the same way ask for superficial ornament; neither does a Northern Romanesque church; though they all often get it. This shows that, simply as a matter of building, the Sicilian church is not equal to any one of those three. It is the union of arts which gives the Rogeresque buildings their excellence, and gives to one of them, the chapel at Palermo, its perfection.

The church, as it stands, allowing for some necessary repairs and some unnecessary disfigurements, is all of a piece, the work of King Roger. He founded church and bishopric, and he planted in it, not seculars, but Austin canons. There were religious at Monreale also, a fashion which Sicily seems to share with England. The two greatest princes of the time, Henry at Carlisle and Roger at Cefalii, both favoured the Austin canons. At Cefalii their cloister abides, approached in a strange fashion, and part of it is of the original work. It is of the same class as other cloisters in Sicily, which differ only in the form of the arch from those of which Aries can perhaps show the chief. In all of them the coupled arches, though first seen at Rome, are surely a gift from the Saracen. A mosaic inscription declares the church to be the work of Roger, finished in 1148. In his foundation charter of 1145 he takes his proud style of King of Sicily and Italy, a formula in which it might seem that the name of Italy had come back to its very earliest use. We might perhaps yield so far as to turn the style round, but, in one order or the other, it is the only true title of the prince who is the successor alike of Alboin and of Roger, and who should surely place on his brow alike the crown of Monza and the crown of Palermo. It is to be noticed that in the charter the King takes no notice of the common legend that he founded the church of Cefalu in fulfilment of a vow made when in danger of shipwreck. Still, if anybody likes to believe the story, it might be hard absolutely to disprove it. But it is much more certain that he gives to the church two porphyry sarcophagi, one for his own burial, the other seemingly to keep it company, perhaps for the burial of some one, ready on some fitting occasion. So it has happened. In one of these the first King of Sicily still sleeps; the other holds the dust of the chief oppressor of Sicily, his Imperial son

in-law, the Swabian Henry. But they sleep not at Cefalu. They were translated to Palermo, and there they keep company with a descendant yet more renowned than the founder of the Sicilian kingdom. It was Frederick, son of Henry, grandson of Roger, who gave his fathers their last resting-place in the city which he had made, like himself, the Wonder of the World; and he himself lies beside them.

Such is Cephaloedium, Cefalu, the city of the headland, with the house of the Sikel above and the church of the Norman below. No spot, even in Sicily, is more worthy of study, more fruitful in thought.

Edward A. Freeman.

A REAL WORKING MAN.

It is a common complaint against the country-folk of the present day that they are not satisfied with their lot in life—that they leave their pleasant rural homes for our already overcrowded towns, there to make the terrible struggle for existence more terrible still, and to be sucked too often into the whirlpool of degradation, misery, and helpless despair.

Now we who live in the country do not deny that such an exodus is taking place, nor do we deny that it is often productive of much mischief both in town and country. But we see—and we should like other people to see— that there is another side to the question.

No doubt the condition of the agricultural labourer varies considerably according to the county in which he finds himself. I have Dot studied his lot with any minuteness except in one of our eastern counties, and there, I am willing to admit, it may be rather specially hard. Still, it is just in these purely agricultural counties that we can best see what attractions the life of an agricultural labourer really offers; and it is partly to give what information I can upon this question, partly to claim some sympathy for the poor agricultural labourer and his wife, that this paper has been written.

Will you hear the homely tale of a labourer and his family, as told by his wife to one who has known her now for eight years, and has taken pains to verify her statements, lest the instinctive love for a telling story, which is to be found among poor and rich alike, might lead her to colour them 1 Conscious deceit I could not suspect her of; she tells you without reserve of all that has been done for her by others— and that is a test of honesty and straight-dealing which very few, either in town or country, can stand. She is

but forty-one now—a worn and yet cheery-faced little woman, though the tears are very near the surface—with a stout heart, a strong love for her family, and a patience which seldom, if ever, deserts her. Her husband is a very steady and "wonderful still" man. It is only by little things said here and there that you will learn from him, and from the majority of his class, men and women alike, the state of their affairs. But she—it is evidently a blessed relief to her to pour her simple tale into sympathetic ears. Guiltless of any fears that she may be taking up your precious time, of any apprehensions that she may be repeating tales which you have heard once, twice, half-a-dozen times already, she will hurry on in an uninterrupted flow of words, the tears now and then rolling down her cheeks, but never quite chasing away the smiles which are almost as ready to come as the tears; and when at last she has done, she will wipe her eyes with her apron, thank you warmly for your visit, and turn to her work with an evidently lightened heart. Truly a half-hour well spent, if your patient listening has done no more than lift for a few hours the weight of care from that poor, burdened creature. Others there are who cannot talk or even weep over their hardships and worries as she can—still less, think or speak of the shifts to which they are put with the humorous, almost merry smile which will now and then flit across her face as she chats to you. Perhaps they, in their inarticulate trouble, are even more to be pitied than she.

But let us hear her tale, which shall be as nearly as possible in her own words—the very words she used to me as we sat together not long ago in her bare, brick-floored room—I in her tidiest chair, she on her favourite three-legged stool, with her baby, a tiny, " tuly" little thing, at her breast.

"Just tell me, Mrs. Allen, exactly what you have to manage with, and how you make it last out", I said, instead of letting her run on in her usual promiscuous way; and then the long tale came out with a rush.

"Well, miss, I'll tell you jus' as near 's ever I can. There's John—he don't get but nine shill'n's a week now, being as it's winter-time, but in summer like he'll get ten shill'n's; and then there's harvest—he count upon takin' pretty near seven pounds then, and the money's jus' the same whether harvest last four weeks, or whether that last eight. That's all his arnin's; and he don't get the chance to make no overtime. Then there's Jimmy— he's gettin' a big booy now, fifteen come his birthday. He am half-a-crown a week, and sixpence on Sunday, when he goo the whole day. They 'on't let Oliver goo to work till come next Michaelmas, so he can't am nothin'; but Laura, she do a bit o' straw-plait, and we reckon she can make fivepence clear in the week, when the man'll take it. You know, miss, she ain't like other girls, bein' as her back's not straight, and her health fare that bad; so we can't look for her to goo to sarvice—I've said times and times I'd be glad if she could. My little Annie's a fierce un [strong and lively], and I warrant she'll goo as soon 's ever she can".

"Then that is all you have to look to 1 Nine shillings a week for four or five months in the year; ten shillings for the rest; your husband's harvest; your little boy's half-a-crown a week, and Laura's fivepence for straw-plaiting. Now tell me how you lay it out".

"Well, miss, there's rent, and that's a shill'n'. Master stop that out o' John's money every week, let him am what he 'ull. And then there's bread. And we can't do with less than five pecks of flour a week, and that's eight shill'n's and three ha'pence. And then there's a pound of salt—a ha'penny; and the yeast, threepence. Then I

mostly buy a quarter o' butter—that's threepence; and three pound o' sugar —that's fourpence ha'penny; and two ounces o' tea, and that's threepence, and I make spare o' that for the week. And we must have soap and sodatwopence for soap, and a ha'penny for soda. I forced to wash twice a week, 'cause I never could get enough doddy clothes to keep the little 'uns clean all through the week, and that run away with a lot o' firin'. I can't reckon the firin' less than a shill'n' a week, take the winter round; for coal's eighteenpence a hunderd, and there's wood to buy as well. And we must have a fire; don't,1 we should be perished o' cowd. Then there's oil, twopence a quart, and the quart last a week. Then there's sixpence for John's 'baccy. Beer he can't .have—'cept a half-pint a chance time; but he do suffer so with the misery in his head, and he can't get riddy of it a'thout his pipe— he say that fare to do him good more than anythin'. He'd goo a'thout 'most anythin' afore he'd goo a'thout his baccy. Well, then there's his club— that's eighteenpence a month; and Jimmy's club—that's sixpence, but that'll be a shill'n' afore long now; and schooling, fo'pence a week; and my clothin'-club, a penny."

I have been jotting down the items, as she tells me all this, and the result of my calculations is decidedly appalling.

"Why, the expenses you have told me of already are actually more than the money you earn!" I exclaim. "And you have allowed but one penny a week for clothes, nothing for boots, nothing for cheese, meat, or milk! There must surely be some mistake ".

"No, no, miss, there ain't no mistake ", she answers sadly,—" 'cept

1 We East Anglians are much given to using this simple ellipsis, and its counterpart "Do ", where others would employ the more cumbrous, "If that is (or is not) the case". As, for instance—"I suppose they haven't begun harvesting in your part of the world yet?" "Why, no, no. Do, I don't know it ". Or— "Have you got a broody hen for that setting of eggs? Don't, I can lend you my ".

that you've taken the hardest time of all. And yet it ain't the hardest time of all, for we've reckoned as if he'd always got his full wages, and taken no heed o' wet days, or times when master sends him home 'cause there ain't no work. No, miss, there ain't no mistake; but you see, miss, we're forced to run into debt for flour and such-like in the winter—we can't help it nohow. Mrs. Smith, at the shop, she's wonderful good to trust me; she'll never let me want for bread. The winter afore last, I owed her for 'most three sacks o' flour at once; but she knew I'd always send her su'thin' by one o' the children when John took his money on Saturdays. You see, miss, I look to the harvestmoney to get us straight again; and the boot-bill has to run till then—it comes to 'twixt two pound ten and three pound, do what I 'ull. The children make a hand of a proper lot of boots; they midder paths—let alone the road—are so wonderful sluddy. And you see there's so many of 'em, miss—Laura, and Jimmy, and Oliver and Freddy, and Annie, and Georgie, and Elijah—and now there's the baby —I shall ha' to shoe her to-year ".

"But what about cheese, and meat, and milk t " I ask again.

"I don't never buy no cheese, miss; I can't forspare the money for it. And I haven't bought a chice o' meat— fat pork nor nothin'—since last harvest-time. And milk—we don't drink no milk, 'cept a chance time—same as the other day, Oily arned a ha'penny, carryin' the young girl Bush's boots to be mended, and I said to him,— 'Booy', I say, 'have some milk o' that ha'penny', and he say, 'Mother, I want a ball'. I said, 'Booy, you had a ball afore, and you lost it. Do you have some milk'. He's a good booy to give me what he get, so he goos to the farm and gets a pint o' fleet milk, and we has some in we tea, and the children was pleased ".

I sit and think a little while. A family of ten—and the weekly expenses such as I have given above. No meat,

no cheese, no milk or beer (except "chance times"), one quarter of a pound of butter, and two ounces of tea! Nothing but this, except dry bread, and the produce of the slip of gardenground—which, as I know, supplies them with potatoes, onions, and greens, a most valuable addition, no doubt, but even then—

"Do the children complain about their food?" I ask next.

"Well, miss, they're wonderful hearty children, and wonderful contented. Jimmy, he take bread and sugar for his dinner; but the others scarce ever carry anythin' but dry bread to school. John, he take bread too; and when they all come home, I mostly boil 'em some potatoes, and make a mite o' toast for John, and he soak that in his tea. And then I keep the tea-leaves over night; and when we get up in the morning, I put a little hot water over 'em, and that's somethin' hot for the children afore they start for school" (a two-mile walk), "and if I've a chice o' sugar left to put in, that just please 'em. Well, I've got a good spirit, and 'tain't often as I complain, and I often feel thankful that we've got bread to eat. But we can't always feel thankful; and last winter I suffered terrible with the misery in my head—just in the noddle o' the neck it fared to lay. I had it all one week. And there was dry bread for breakfast, and dry bread for dinner, and dry bread for tea, and dry bread for breakfast next day, and bread for dinner; and when there was bread again for tea, I jus' as if I couldn't help it, and I sat down and cried. And I said to Laura, ' Gal', I say,' it do seem hard. There, I've been the mother of nine children, and to have nothin' but dry bread to take to!' Bread don't seem to be always what you want. It don't seem to give you strength like ".

"But John can't do his harvest on bread 1" I ask.

"Well, miss, I don't rightly know how he do do it. All last harvest, he had nothin' but bread and a drop of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »