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ballads relate to brigandage; some few to
hunting and the delights of the table. Wine,
gambling, and a disgraceful kind of gallantry
are the themes of a thousand songs. In
Calabria, it is the fashion to idolise assassins and
write songs about them, which the girls and
young men sing at harvest time. In Corsica,
it is the fashion to sing Voceri (or Vendetta
songs) when any one dies a violent death.
Hags are hired for the purpose (called
Voceratrici); it is their duty to dance and brandish
knives around the coffin of the deceased, and
to drink wine (some say blood) to his memory.

Of all the songs of Italy, the songs of Tuscany
are the most poetical and the least tainted
with sensuality. Being written in pure Italian,
they have a strictly national character and
serve as models to the rest of the peninsula.
The Stornelli or Pastoral Odes, and the Nanne
or Cradle Songs, are all Tuscan in their
character. They become corrupted in the different
villages into which they are introduced, but in
print they are nearly always the same. Scratch
the patois with your pen, and you will find the
pure Tuscan underneath. Venice is famous for
its serenades; Naples for its love songs, properly
so called; Rome for its Novelle or Sacred
Balladsthe epics of the saints, the only tracts
tolerated by the Church of Rome. The Maggi
(Songs of May) are sung in every village in the
land, from the borders of Istria and Tyrol to
Cape Pesaro.

One reason why the Italians have no
national ballads is that, until recently, they had
no nationality. They never cared much about
their history; they never took enough interest
in their local patriotism to write ballads about
it. The Italians are a brave people, but they are
not self-reliant. They are affectionate, but not
faithful; hospitable to strangers, but not
famous for gratitude. They illuminate their
streets in honour of the incoming dynasty, but
they never sang songs about a dethroned king
as the Scotch did about the Stuarts. They
have plenty of old castles, but no chivalry;
plenty of old families, but no old familiar name
like Robin Hood or William Tell. Their oldest
"myth" is Garibaldi; their oldest battle songs
were written in 1859. One of the best of
these, the Three-coloured Flag, was written by
a Garibaldian:


*La Bandiera Tricolore sempre è stata la più bella,

Hurrah for the Three-coloured Flag,
The best and the bravest of all!
Hurrah for the martyrs who fall
For the love of the Three-coloured Flag!

Hurrah for the king and the Chief
Who ended our national grief!
Hurrah for the king,
And the cause that we sing,
When we die for the Three-coloured Flag!
Hurrah for the Three-coloured Flag!

The flag that we love is so pretty,
Its fame shall be sung in a ditty;
Its virtues are seen
In the red, white, and green,
When it waves on the walls of a city!
Hurrah for the Three-coloured Flag!

These Volunteer songs are helping on the
great work of regeneration in Italy. Borne
from north to south, from east to west, and
back again, by soldiers who sing them in the
village inns while on the march, and at home
in work and play after their term of service,
the love songs of Italy, as well as its ballads
and war songs, get scattered over the length
and breadth of the land. A few years hence,
every Italian peasant who has a brother, a
father, or a son in the army (and no peasant
in Italy is without some such military
connexion, owing to the conscription) will know
something or other of his mother-tongue. The
songs of Tuscany will work their way into
the provincial dialects, and in process of time
a united language no less than a united
territory will be the result. Never did popular
songs do a better work than the patriotic
songs of Italy are doing at the present
moment. The conscript soldiers of the north
and south of Italycompelled to become
Tuscans, or they do not understand the orders
of their chiefsare carrying the germs of
language, of literature, into lonely places and
uncultured villages, and are making boorish
peasants ashamed of their jargon. It is already
becoming a point of pride with country girls
to sing in pure Tuscan: perhaps in
remembrance of the volunteers who rushed wildly
about the country, a few years ago, in search
of foes and sweethearts, finding both, and
leaving with each some striking souvenira kiss, a
song, or a bullet! In no other way can we
account for the prodigious number of Tuscan
songs winch village girls, who do not know
how to read or write, and cannot speak
anything but patois, know by heart. The girls
will become matrons, and the children of the
future will become Italiansnot mere Neapolitans,
Lombards, and Piedmonteseand will
speak their mother-tongue in the good time


FOR every boy there is his heroa
splendid, valiant, noble creature, to whom
he looks up, physically. As the hero holds
the smaller hand in his, and strides along,
the boy admires and treasures every speech.
Such a one for me was once the brave and
gallant Tom Butler, who knew the world,
which I did not; who could talk, could go
anywhere, and do anything. Yet there were
not so many years between us. It was clear
action that interposed the large interval.