Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker: Minister of the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society, Boston - Vol. 1

By John Weiss | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER IX.

Letters written in Europe--To Isaac Parker--Dr. Francis--Dr. Lamson, 1844.


TO HIS BROTHER, ISAAC PARKER, LEXINGTON.

Naples, Feb. 12, 1844.

MY DEAR BROTHER,--I suppose you have been to meeting to-day, with wife and children in the sleigh, and now sit in your room, with a great fire to keep out the north-westers. To-morrow you will sled wood out of the forest, or the swamps, perhaps. But here we have the verdure of spring. Flowers are in blossom everywhere, roses in the gardens, and oranges hang ripe and golden on the trees. It is a fine sight, too--a tree full of oranges. An apple-tree full of Baldwins, or a peach-tree loaded with yellow Rare-ripes, is beautiful; but an orange- tree, with its green leaves and its gold fruit, far surpasses it. Here you see in the fields what we cultivate in hot-houses. The fig ripens its fruit in the open air, the prickly pear grows on the side of all the mountains, and dirty boys sell the delicious hill-side figs in the streets. Every inch of ground is cultivated, not as we cultivate it, but with the nicety of a garden. I have not seen a plough in Italy. Almost all the cultivation is with the hoe and the spade, even where grain is sowed. But their farming tools are a century behind ours. They bring hay to market on the backs of asses, each ass carrying three bundles, or about 300 pounds. In the same way they carry wood, wine, and even manure. The harnesses are rudely made, and gall the cattle unmercifully. They put one single ox into the shafts of a cart, and a horse, a mule, an ass, or a cow on each side of him : then the driver mounts the cart, and takes the reins, fastened to a ring in the ox's nose, and drives off. It is a queer country in its customs. In all the public-houses men do the chamber-work (for the women get into other kinds of work, and so can't be trusted), while you find women driving oxen, and even sweeping the streets! Some of the customs are very strange. The Carnival is a sort of holy time: it begins the 6th of January, and lasts till the 22nd of February (this year). During the last week of Carnival, on Sunday afternoon, men dress themselves up in masks--in all sorts of foolish disguises, and walk or ride about the Strada di Toledo, one of the principal streets of the city. To-day we

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