The Ticino is a majestic river, here spanned by one of the finest bridges in Italy. It contains eleven arches; is of the granite of Mount Torfano; and, like almost all the great modern works in Italy, was commenced by Napoleon, though finished only after his fall. Here, then, was the gate of Austria; and seated at that gate I saw three Croats, fit keepers of Austrian order.
Human life is held of very little account among these people, whose blind faith bridges the gulf of death, and who were at one time so prone to suicide, by drowning in the Ganges, as to require strict police surveillance on the part of the English to prevent it.
They were obliged to wear both gloves and shoes when they were thus put to flight, otherwise the stones and herbage they trod upon and the balustrades of the bridges that they handled in crossing, would, according to popular belief, have become poisonous. And all this time, there was nothing remarkable or disgusting in the outward appearance of this unfortunate people.
We needed schools, bridges across draws and dry creeks. We needed roads. In fact, there was nothing which we did not need and most of all we needed a sense of close-knit cooperation.
Several hundred years afterward it was built into the form of a ship, as bridges and wharves are built, with a temple in the midst, and a tall obelisk set up in guise of its mast.
Since early dawn this pilgrimage to the glacis had been going on; by ten o'clock all seats, roads, tribunes, trees, ditches, and bridges, were occupied by a dense crowd; and, in order to prevent accidents, the authorities had already ordered all approaches to the glacis to be closed. On the broad promenade, too, matters assumed a very lively aspect.
Now, however, the road was good and the engineer drove his big locomotive with throttle wide open. Black smoke blew about the rocking cars, cinders rattled on the roofs, and showers of sparks sped past the windows. The wheels roared on shaking trestles and now and then awoke an echoing clang of steel, for the company was doubling the track and replacing the wooden bridges by metal.
They have power to lay out roads, and lay out and alter road districts; to do certain acts relating to roads, bridges, taxes, common schools, the support of the poor, &c.; and to examine and settle all demands against the town. In some of the states, some of these duties are performed by other officers. The town-clerk keeps the records, books, and papers of the town.
That accomplished, we must strike across country for Acapulco, where it was possible we might meet with an English ship. The distance was some three hundred miles in a bee-line, and the character of the country rough; but that mattered little, for we should of necessity be obliged to keep away from the roads and bridges.
The immense green fields, with herds of cattle and flocks of sheep feeding every where, and separated from each other by straight and narrow canals instead of fences; the boats passing to and fro, loaded with produce; the little bridges built over these canals here and there, for the foot paths, with the gates across them to keep the cattle from going over; the long road ways raised upon dikes, and bordered by quadruple rows of ancient and venerable trees, stretching to a boundless distance across the plains; and now and then a wide canal, with large boats or vessels passing to and fro, these and a multitude of other such sights, to be seen in no other country in the world, occupied their attention all the time, and kept them constantly amused.