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289

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - Pencil Sketches in Rome - 1. Ecclesiastical Rome, and Italian

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PENCIL SKETCHES IN ROME. 289
traditions among the people. Formerly, it is said, the
mask stood in a hall of judgment. Those who had to
clear themselves by oath, were to put their hands into
the mouth of the mask ; if they swore falsely, it bit off
the hand. Long after this custom had ceased, and
after the strange thing had found its present place, it
happened that an Englishman, ridiculing the tradition,
put his hand into the yawning orifice of the mask, but
drew it back with a cry. A scorpion had stung him.
Before he died, he confessed that he had been guilty of
perjury in his own country. So much for la bocca della
Verith : now, to the school, where legends of saints, and
doctrines with a more equivocal moral than that of those
traditions, are inculcated in children. When I entered
the little church, I found it transformed into a kind of
primary public school. In the left side-aisle, were the
boys ; in the right, the girls. Each class formed a ring,
seated around an under-master or a nun. Of books or
slates there was not a trace. To teach children to read,
lay entirely outside of if not directly contrary to the pur-
pose of this school. The monitor repeated a bit of the
Roman catechism, or whatever it might be, and the child
had to say it after the teacher, by heart. During this
time, the priestly head-master, the " curato " of the
flock, walked to and fro in the nave. The girls sat still,
and seemed attentive. But all the more disorderly were
the specimens of black-haired boyhood in the left aisle.
Whenever a monitor looked to the left, he had a sky-
larker on the right of him, and if he looked to the right,
the mischief flitted quick as lightning to the left. I do
not lay the blame of this upon the boy’s black locks that
I spoke of, for a little light-haired rascal, with big blue
eyes, was the worst in the ring. Twice, in hardly two

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