I only record one or two of my personal impressions, as Pompeii must appeal to everyone in his own especial way. I think people going to Pompeii would do well to get and read before they go there a book by our Consul at Naples, Mr. Eustace Neville Rolfe, called ' Pompeii, Popular and Practical: an easy book on a difficult subject.' This it essentially is. I did not see it till after I got back. As a specimen of the kind of interesting information he gives, I quote this one paragraph : 'It is unsafe to argue that the Pompeiians did not have things, because we have only recently invented them. The safety-pin, which is quite a modern invention, was in common use in Pompeii. Wire rope, which we look upon as a new discovery, was known in those days, and a very fine specimen of it may be seen in the Naples Museum. Martial speaks of sulphur matches, which in our English kitchens replaced the old-fashioned tinder-box scarcely fifty years ago, and the surgical instruments found in Pompeii were lost to science for centuries and reinvented in our day almost in their original form.' In various other directions besides these Mr. Rolfe alludes to, it is clear that our civilisation has not yet reached the level of the Greek long before the existence of Pompeii. In a chapter on the 'street of the Tombs,' he has what was to me a very suggestive passage. In commenting upon these tombs, he says : 'We must not pass over the Cenotaph of Calventius Quietus, because Cenotaphs represent an interesting phase of the posthumous honours paid to the deceased by the Romans. The word signifies "an empty tomb," and such buildings were habitually erected to people who had passed away without having burial rites. Thus if a man were drowned at sea or killed in battle, a tomb was erected for him at home in the belief that this would give his spirit rest, and a safe transit across the Styx. The idea is pathetic, and is frequently made use of by the poets, sometimes by making the unburied corpse reappear, sometimes, as in Horace's well-known ode, by making the spirit beg the passing stranger to cast a handful of sand upon the un-buried corpse, in token that rites of some kind had been performed upon it, so that the wandering soul might have rest.' This idea may seem heathenish to some, but surely there is a dignity in the principle of honouring at home those who die in the service of their country, no matter where or from what cause.I think the soldier's grave should be left to nature, as the sailor is buried at sea, and it has seemed to me lately, with my mind constantly dwelling on the sadnesses of the South African War, a great mistake, though a very natural one, to try to make the perishable imperishable by societies for the preservation of soldiers' graves on the veldt. Even in ordinary churchyards are we not too often reminded of a fact which Sir Henry Taylor puts into his 'Philip Van Artevelde'?
Pain and grief are transitory things no less than joy, And though they leave us not the man we were, Yet they do leave us.
The ideal way, I think, of honouring the dead and keeping their memory alive would be to have, let us say, in each postal district of the place from which they came, a stone raised on which would be written the names and dates of those, from a general to the youngest private, who have been killed or died in any war. The feeling is almost a bitter one that those who die in what are more or less 'fashionable' wars, such as the Crimean, or the recent great Boer war, should be more honoured and their resting-places more cared for than those who have laid down their life in the swamps of West Africa or the China rice-fields.
At Pompeii there is an attempt, in one or two instances, to restore the gardens. It seems to me the old gardens, tiny as they were, are very good models of what town gardens should be with the aid of pavements, brick paths, tesselated pavements or mosaics, and constant renewal of the actual plants, never trying to imitate the large spaces of the country where things can be left to grow on from year to year and where growth and size become a pride and delight. I think in small gardens everything should be kept very decorative, but very miniature. The difficulty of flowering plants in London is the height of the houses, which, in some circumstances, excludes nearly all sunshine.Nothing can stand this but ferns and ivy, but a very charming, dainty little garden might be made with various coloured ivies, euonymus, holly, privet, &c, provided they were much pruned or even continually renewed.In fact, like many other things, London gardens depend on elbow grease - that is to say, a great deal of work, attention, washing, &c.There is much opening for individual development in this direction.In a suggestive article which has much interested me, by Mr. Whitmore, in the ' National Review' for July, 1902, he condemns me for my objection to evergreens in London, and I quite see his point of view as regards their use.But it must be in an entirely different way from what has been generally done in London suburbs, where the evergreens are left untended from year to year till everything is black, except the new shoot for a short time in the spring.I immensely like his recommendation that no fair-sized London garden need be without its blossoming fruit-trees.He praises mulberries a little more than I think they deserve for towns, except in cases of people having to live in London through the autumn, as their leaf comes out so very late in the spring, and they have no blossom to speak of.In these gardens of miniature evergreens which I am picturing to myself, colour might be introduced by buying the flowering plants in pots as they come into season. In fact, the whole treatment of the garden should be as nearly as possible that of an ornamented terrace, tubs, vases, pots, anything that there is room for, and the instant removal of anything unhealthy or which reminds one in any way of the injury to plant life of London smoke and climate.A clean well-paved yard with one healthy plant gives me more pleasure than a broad border with badly grown, unhealthy shrubs or unsatisfactory herbaceous plants. People who are inclined not to spend much money on their little yard or garden should confine their expenditure to the original paving and a good hose. Then two or three plants, when they can afford to purchase them, will always look satisfactory. The visitor ought to be able to say, ' How pretty your little yard is!' instead of the rather bashful owner's apology, ' It's not bad for London.' We must never forget that in London all cleanliness is artificial and is only attained by giving the matter a great deal of attention.
On leaving Pompeii, we were tempted to send our carriage back empty and return to Naples by rail, but we decided to go home as we came, slums and all, and naturally found it less tedious, as we knew what to expect.
One more delightful day to record, which alas! did not include the much-wished-for visit to Paestum. We went by train to Castelamare, then drove again along the eastern side of the Bay, to Sorrento, and part of this way was actually in the country. Had it not drizzled it would have been an enjoyable as well as a beautiful drive. The great hotel at Sorrento where we spent the night looked gloomy and damp, the rooms being well shaded and adapted in every way to keep off the brilliant afternoon sunshine. Capri was invisible, and I had to fall back again on my recollections of Robert Lytton's little poem to imagine how Sorrento could look on a fine spring afternoon. He sent me this poem in a letter from Sorrento ; it was afterwards published in the volume called 'After Paradise; or, Legends of Exile.'