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and easily excited. The lower orders especially remind you of overgrown children; even the men will cry if they are injured in any way, or if they are getting the worst of a quarrel. They are most untruthful, and will cheat you to the best of their power; on the other hand, they are kind-hearted and very obliging. Religious processions and fêtes are one of the attractions of Malta, and are the principal recreation of the natives; crowds of all ranks come out to look at these processions, which consist of monks and priests, choristers and acolytes, carrying images, banners, and lighted tapers; the two grandest of these pro
cessions take place on Maundy Thursday, and on the Festival of S. Gregory.
They have a custom, I believe, peculiar to Malta, at the Greek Church on Easter-day. A large crowd with lanterns and torches assemble at the doors of the Church before sunrise, when an image of our LORD with a flag in its hand is brought out, and carried in procession through the city; a gun is then fired as a signal, when they all set out running as hard as they can, still carrying the image, up a steep hill, to represent the Resurrection; afterwards they replace the image in the Church they took it from.
They have a very pretty custom of decorating and illuminating the exterior of some of the Churches on the evenings of their festas. This they do by means of Chinese lanterns, which they fasten on to the façade, picking out the principal architectural lines with these coloured lanterns. The effect is very good.
Malta is noted for a large kind of mule, also common in Gozo, which is the principal beast of burden; and it is appalling to see the gigantic loads that are put upon these creatures, who, however, seem to thrive under them notwithstanding; they are sometimes used for ploughing, &c., yoked with oxen. Goats are also very fine in Malta, and abound in great quantities; their milk is very much used, and the goats are led through the streets morning and evening by boys and men, who milk them at the doors of the houses. The sheep are very like the goats, it is difficult at first to distinguish them; their milk is also used to make cheese. The horses are small, and are imported from Africa, but they go at a rapid pace; the public conveyances are either small go-carts, in which the rider can lie flat on the boards, and which have no springs, and rattle along as fast as the driver can make them, or small pony-carriages which hold four people inside, with the driver on the box. These have black leather curtains, which are looped up in fine weather, and can be completely closed, rather like a four-post bedstead, when it rains, leaving the inmates in darkness.
S. Paul, of course, is the patron saint of Malta, and equally, of course, there are a great many stories about him, which the devout Maltese believe implicitly. One of the bays is named after him, and in this bay is the little island on which he is supposed to have been cast at first. There is a cave near Citta Vecchia, where the Apostle is said to have lived for three months, though why Publius, first Bishop of Malta, did not put him up in better quarters does not appear. A small chapel has been built on the spot where it is supposed the fire was lighted into which S. Paul shook the viper; it contains some old pictures of the principal events of S. Paul's life. One of the traditions of the people is, that when the Apostle spoke, his voice was heard all over the island; the literal truth of this statement we may be allowed to doubt, but that his voice, figuratively speaking, has been heard all over the world, is a much more wonderful fact.
Citta Vecchia, the ancient capital of Malta, is situated in the centre of the island. From the terrace by the Cathedral you get a view of the whole island, and can form a very good idea of its size ; on a clear day you can see the sea all round. There is another town, Mosta, about two miles from Citta Vecchia, which contains a Church built entirely by the poor, who worked at it on Saturdays and holidays; it is an imitation of the Pantheon at Rome.
On the whole, Malta is a charming place in the cool weather. The five regiments make it very gay, and it is naturally bright and attractive, affording much amusement to all classes of visitors: the artist, the botanist, and the geologist, as well as the butterflies of society, may all find food there for their respective tastes.
THE VAL D'AOSTA.
CHAPTER II. I had found the Valley which we had just left behind us not only so interesting on account of its natural beauties, but also because of the monuments of its past, that in order to appreciate the latter thoroughly I was led to explore a little into the history of this favoured
region. I trust I may be pardoned for giving here a short resumé of my researches.
The Salasses, a branch of the Celtic race, and therefore claiming affinity with the Basques, the Bretons, and the oldest inhabitants of our islands, first took possession of the Val d'Aosta, having been dropt by the great tribe which on its passage from India came up the banks of the Danube. Few traces remain of these people, save massive stones laid out in broad rings or piled up in heaps similar to those that are still found in parts of India and in the west of Europe.
The knowledge which is possessed of the Salassi is gained chiefly from the ancients. Strabo tells us that they extracted gold, iron, and copper from mines, that war and agriculture were their chief occupations, that gold and flocks constituted their chief riches. They chose the highest ground for their habitations and ceremonials. Hardy and simple in their habits, not caring for luxuries, the great ambition of their chiefs was to surround themselves with large numbers of adherents.
The great event of old times was the passage of Hannibal through the Valley of Aosta. Hardly any point has been more contested than that of “How did Hannibal invade Italy ?” Some of the old writers tell us he passed by Mont Cenis through the territory of the Taurinians, others that he crossed by the Little S. Bernard, and again there are those who favour the Great S. Bernard. All we know is that the Salassi were favourable to him, and that close to them were the Insubres, who, though conquered by the Romans, were anxious to revolt against them. They had therefore sent an embassy to Hannibal soliciting his alliance.
On the other hand we also know that the Taurinians were warm friends to the Romans, and were at that time actually at war with the Insubres, whose territory lay to their east, and to the south of the Salassi. Hannibal certainly did send an army to punish the Taurinians for their open hostility to him, but it is hardly likely that he should have traversed their territory and thus placed a strong and determined enemy in his rear. Indeed there is no mention in history of more having been done in what is now Piedmont, than what one of Hannibal's generals might have done, returning by Mont Cenis to rejoin his master. Polybius, Celius and Cornelius Nepos point to the Little S. Bernard. Livy is for the Pennine Alps, and Pliny says that tradition makes Hannibal pass by both Graian and Pennine Alps, while the worthy Canon Orsières suggests that this statement is most likely correct, thus making all the authorities harmonize in their views. Then many writers mention that the bones of an elephant were found near the Hospice of the Little S. Bernard on the French side. Now we know that of all the elephants with which Hannibal embarked for Italy, and thirty-seven were still alive when he reached the Rhone, but one only was with him when he entered Tuscany. The crossing over the formidable mountain barrier must have told especially on the elephants, and finding their bones forms strong evidence of Hannibal's passing by the Val d'Aosta. This was in the year 218 B.C.
For some time previously the Romans had been looking at the Val d'Aosta with longing eyes. Not only was this an excellent route by which they might reach their settlements in Gaul, but the surrounding country was rich in minerals. At last, taking as pretext the turbulence of the Salassi -—always fighting with their neighbours about the water which they cut off in order to use it for their mines—the Romans commenced attacking them. But they were nearly 120 years before they obtained perfect mastery of the valley. Varying success attended their expedition, they being at first beaten by the hardy mountaineers. Appius Claudius inflicted a severe defeat upon them, in consequence of which they had to give up the plain which runs along the bottom of the Valley, as well as most of their mines. But although the Salassi suffered severely, they were not subdued ; and in order to restrain their incursions into the neighbouring territory the Romans built the city of Ivrea, and shut them into the Valley. It was not until Augustus mounted the throne that the Romans became tired of fighting for the mastery. Terentius Varro was sent against the Salassi with a large force, and the first thing he did was to divide them by establishing his camp at the confluence of the River Dora with the Baltea. Here later he built a city, which in compliment to his Imperial master he called "Augusta”-Aosta.
Not satisfied with his progress, altbough he had repeatedly beaten the Salassi in combat, he determined to gain the mastery by stratagem. He caused it to be proclaimed to the unhappy people, that if they would renounce a certain amount of their wealth to him, they should have peace and be no more troubled. To this they agreed, and Varro was allowed to send his soldiers into all their settlements, in order to collect the stipulated contributions.
The soldiers at once carried out their orders by making prisoners of all the young men and women whom they met. Upwards of 30,000 were taken to Ivrea ; 8000 were selected to be incorporated into the Roman legions, and the rest were sold as slaves. Meanwhile all the villages were utterly destroyed, and those inhabitants who had been spared previously were slain by the orders of Augustus.
Thus perished this branch of a brave and old race, leaving hardly any trace of themselves in what now became the Vallis Augusta. Their lands were distributed among the soldiers of the successful General, who had been able to add to the Imperial crown a rich and important territory.
A thousand years pass by, and the Valley under the Romans suffers once more in the general ravaging of Italy by the Huns, the Goths, and the Vandals. S. Bernard rises up, a brilliant star in the latter part of this long night-a light so pure and bright that its rays have come undimmed across to this our time. While many ecclesiastics were content with the pursuit of pleasure, whilst others threw themselves into the controversies or rather the politics of their day, there appeared one who, seeing where there was an opening for exercising true Christian charity, seized it. To him we are indebted for the two Hospices which bear his name, and which have been kept up with grand self-devotion by his followers. It may be that at no distant date, by the help of steam and modern science, the wayfarer will traverse the mountain range of S. Bernard so safely, so speedily, and at so many points, he will scarcely dream of using what to his forefathers were for nearly a thousand years the high roads from Italy to those countries north of it, and who were wont to bless as they journeyed the monks without whose aid and proffered shelter many of them must have perished miserably by the way.
It is not till the beginning of the eleventh century that we find the Valley, as the Comté d'Aoste, given by the Emperor Conrad le Salique to Humbert, Count of Maurienne, nephew of Rodolph, King of Burgundy. A few years later a Count of Maurienne marries the heiress of the Counts of Savoy, and since that time the Val d'Aosta has followed the fortunes of the House of Savoy. With the exception of disturbances caused by the struggles of the nobles inhabiting the Valley with each other, the country has enjoyed a long stretch of peace. Many of these nobles had been settled in the Valley before it came under the rule of the Counts of Savoy. Such were the Marquises of