Rough Scan
May 190-
DEAR CHRISTINA, - We left Venice on Tuesday, and thankfu' was I to see dry ground when we landed at Milan station.
I dinna understan' how folks can speak about traivellin' for the sake of variety. It's aye the same thing, no matter where we go! As soon as we've put past the night, then it's off to the cathedral the morn's morn as fast as we can go. When we're through with the cathedral, tombs and all, there's the pictur-gallery standin' waitin' on us. If there's any place else to see, it's the exack spot where some poor lady or gentleman has been burned to ashes in the middlin' ages, or an extry tomb: whiles it's anither pictur-gallery. I would like fine to see a neat pollis-office, or a Free Kirk, for a change.
We have seen the cathedral, I'm thankfu' to say - altars, picturs, relicks, pillars, floor, ceiling, statutes, windies, tombs, etcintera. But I'm bound to say we saw one thing we hadna seen afore, i.e. what they call a crib. When Christmas-time comes, it's all lighted up wi' candles, but we could see fine. It wasna a crib at all, but a wax-work of the Stable at Bethlehem, as like as life. The floor was covered with real straw, and there lay the new-born Babe, appearingly about two years old, with bonny, fair, curly hair, and a white silk frock all trimmed with gold spangles and a sash round the waist. The Virgin Mary was kneelin' beside Him, with a blue cloak about her. Joseph was there too, kind-of 1ookin' on, and the beasts was represented by an ox and an ass very near as large as life, mind you. The star of the East was shinin' up above, but it wasna' very shiny: I would have liked fine to dust it. It was an instructive sight; aye wondered what like "swaddling clothes" was.
Before we left the Church we sat down on a seat to get a bit rest. Near by there was a decent lookin' woman sayin' her prayers in broad daylight, with a laddie about eight year old kneelin' at her side. His eyes were wide open, though, and he soon spied a priest sittin' in a wooden box, with the name over the door. Appearingly he was a friend of he's, for off be flew, and held up a pictur he had in his hand for the priest to see: he had to stand on his tiptoes to reach high enough, poor wee chap. The priest praised the pictur, and had a parlyvoo about it, and then he leaned over the wee windy, and lifted the bairn's bonny face with both his hands, real douce-like, and kissed him as fondly as any father. I doubt Catholic priests are no' sae black as they're pented.
The pictur-gallery was filled with the very same picturs we saw at Rome and Florence. Miss Celan­dine says they're no' exackly the same picturs, but just the same subjecks. "It's a' yin," as Mrs M'Leerie says. There was the thin auld gentleman with a stone in his hand. And the one that's aye taken with his pet lion: the lion was smilin', puir beastie: but they would be tellin' it to look agreeable, no doubt. There was St Sebastium, too, but he's everywhere-that's the one with the arrows; and other saints by the dizen. Also Adam and Eve, and the less said about them the better. There was the Deluge too, and a fearfu' rain it must have been. The fishes floatin' about minded the young ladies and me of kippered herrings, for no' one have we tasted since we left Auld Reekie. I was aye fond of a kipper; but they're no very flllin'; there's nothing in them but the taste. Speakin' of fishes, there was a neat sma' pictur of three oysters on a plate, set on a table covered with a white cloth; the heel of a loaf; a kitchen knife; and a tallow candle burnin' away for neither end nor purpose. Miss Jean said it was called a pictur of "Still Life." Oysters are quiet craturs-no' very active.
I can understan' the foreign waiters fine now. The one here speaks very like Mr Oppenrieder, only be says "yelly-roll" instead of "chelly-roll." It's quite easy when you're habitted with it.
The next place we're goin' to is Swisserland; it's a hilly country-side, they're tellin' me. The name of the town is Lucerne, and we're to board with two Scotch ladies, the Miss Farquharsons. Do you mind of two tall ladies that used to visit next door in the winter-time? One of them used to be hurled out in a bath-chair with a Pomperanium dog sittin' on her. Well, it's no' exackly them. But their sister was married on a Mr Farquharson (he was a placed minister at Dremside, but they lifted him no' very long syne), and he's brother was Papaw to the two ladies in Swisserland. It will be a treat to meet in with somebody that can speak plain.
I'm keepin' as well as can be expeckit, thank-ye. -Yours truly,