Friday, 4th. There had been but two days of vacation, yet it seemed to me as though I had been a long time without seeing Garrone. The more I know him, the better I like him; and so it is with all the rest, except with the overbearing, who have nothing to say to him, because he does not permit them to exhibit their oppression. His father is an engine-driver on the railway; he has begun school late, because he was ill for two years. He is the tallest and the strongest of the class; he lifts a bench with one hand; he is always eating; and he is good. Dear Garrone!

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Friday, 4th. There had been but two days of vacation, yet it seemed to me as though I had been a long time without seeing Garrone.

The more I know him, the better I like him; and so it is with all the rest, except with the overbearing, who have nothing to say to him, because he does not permit them to exhibit their oppression.

His father is an engine-driver on the railway; he has begun school late, because he was ill for two years. He is the tallest and the strongest of the class; he lifts a bench with one hand; he is always eating; and he is good. Dear Garrone!

All the little boys would like to be near his bench. He knows arithmetic well. He carries his books bound together with a strap of red leather. Saturday morning he gave a soldo to one of the upper first class, who was crying in the middle of the street, because his own had been taken from him, and he could not buy his copy-book. The master is always glancing at him, and every time that he passes near him he taps him on the neck with his hand, as though he were a good, peaceable young bull.

I am very fond of him. I am happy when I press his big hand, which seems to be the hand of a man, in mine. I am almost certain that he would risk his life to save that of a comrade; that he would allow himself to be killed in his defence, so clearly can I read his eyes; and although he always seems to be grumbling with that big voice of his, one feels that it is a voice that comes from a gentle heart.

Monday, 7th. Garrone would certainly never have uttered the words which Carlo Nobis spoke yesterday morning to Betti. Carlo Nobis is proud, because his father is a great gentleman; a tall gentleman, with a black beard, and very serious, who accompanies his son to school nearly every day.

Repeat my words. When they were seated, the father of Nobis bowed and went away. The charcoal-man remained standing there in thought for several moments, gazing at the two boys side by side; then he approached the bench, and fixed upon Nobis a look expressive of affection and regret, as though he were desirous of saying something to him, but he did not say anything; he stretched out his hand to bestow a caress upon him, but he did not dare, and merely stroked his brow with his large fingers.

Then he made his way to the door, and turning round for one last look, he disappeared. Thursday, 10th. The son of the charcoal-man had been a pupil of that schoolmistress Delcati who had come to see my brother when he was ill, and who had made us laugh by telling us how, two years ago, the mother of this boy had brought to her house a big apronful of charcoal, out of gratitude for her having given the medal to her son; and the poor woman had persisted, and had not been willing to carry the coal home again, and had wept when she was obliged to go away with her apron quite full.

And she told us, also, of another good woman, who had brought her a very heavy bunch of flowers, inside of which there was a little hoard of soldi. We had been greatly diverted in listening to her, and so my brother had swallowed his medicine, which he had not been willing to do before. Fifty in a class, who know nothing, with those flabby little hands, and all of them must be taught to write; they carry in their pockets bits of licorice, buttons, phial corks, pounded brick,—all sorts of little things, and the teacher has to search them; but they conceal these objects even in their shoes.

And they are not attentive: a fly enters through the window, and throws them all into confusion; and in summer they bring [29] grass into school, and horn-bugs, which fly round in circles or fall into the inkstand, and then streak the copy-books all over with ink. The schoolmistress has to play mother to all of them, to help them dress themselves, bandage up their pricked fingers, pick up their caps when they drop them, watch to see that they do not exchange coats, and that they do not indulge in cat-calls and shrieks.

Poor schoolmistresses! How does it happen that mine learns nothing? Why is not my boy mentioned honorably, when he knows so much? Schoolmistress Delcati is young and tall, well-dressed, brown of complexion, and restless; she does everything vivaciously, as though on springs, is affected by a mere trifle, and at such times speaks with great tenderness.

When they are with the masters, they are almost ashamed of having been with us—with a woman teacher. You will not deny your poor friend? Thursday, November 10th. Let this never happen again, my Enrico, never again!

Your irreverent word pierced my heart like a point of steel. I thought of your mother when, years ago, she bent the whole of one night over your little bed, measuring your breathing, weeping blood in her anguish, and with her teeth chattering with terror, because she thought that she had lost you, and I feared that she would lose her reason; and at this thought I felt a sentiment of horror at you.

You, to offend your mother! Listen, Enrico. Fix this thought well in your mind. Reflect that you are destined to experience many terrible days in the course of your life: the most terrible will be that on which you lose your mother. A thousand times, Enrico, after you are a man, strong, and inured to all fates, you will invoke her, oppressed with an intense desire to hear her voice, if but for a moment, and to see once more her open arms, into which you can throw yourself sobbing, like a poor child bereft of comfort and protection.

How you will then recall every bitterness that you have caused her, and with what remorse you will pay for all, unhappy wretch!

Hope for no peace in your life, if you have [31] caused your mother grief. You will repent, you will beg her forgiveness, you will venerate her memory—in vain; conscience will give you no rest; that sweet and gentle image will always wear for you an expression of sadness and of reproach which will put your soul to torture. Oh, Enrico, beware; this is the most sacred of human affections; unhappy he who tramples it under foot.

The assassin who respects his mother has still something honest and noble in his heart; the most glorious of men who grieves and offends her is but a vile creature. Never again let a harsh word issue from your lips, for the being who gave you life. And if one should ever escape you, let it not be the fear of your father, but let it be the impulse of your soul, which casts you at her feet, to beseech her that she will cancel from your brow, with the kiss of forgiveness, the stain of ingratitude.

I love you, my son; you are the dearest hope of my life; but I would rather see you dead than ungrateful to your mother. Go away, for a little space; offer me no more of your caresses; I should not be able to return them from my heart. Thy Father. Sunday, 13th. Half-way down the Corso, as we were passing a cart which was standing in front of a shop, I heard some one call me by name: I turned round; it was Coretti, my schoolmate, with chocolate-colored clothes and his catskin cap, all in a perspiration, but merry, with a big load of wood on his shoulders.

My father has gone off with the man on business; my mother is ill. It falls to me to do the unloading. In the meantime, I am going over my grammar lesson. It is a difficult lesson to-day; I cannot succeed in getting it into my head. The cart drove off. I went in. It was a large apartment, full of piles of wood and fagots, with a steelyard on one side.

I was writing my phrases, when some customers came in. I went to writing again, and behold, that cart arrived. I have already made two trips to the wood market in the Piazza Venezia this morning. My legs [33] are so tired that I cannot stand, and my hands are all swollen. I should be in a pretty pickle if I had to draw!

Now I will add, and valises. It was a woman who had come to buy some little fagots. She has been in bed a whole week. I always scald my fingers with this coffee-pot. Something more is needed, and I can think of nothing.

Come to mamma. The wood is unloaded. We went back to the kitchen. How happy you are, to have time to study and to go to walk, too! I want my father to find all this wood sawed when he gets home; how glad he will be! What am I to do? I will tell him that I have to move my arms about. The important thing is to have mamma get well quickly. She is better to-day, thank Heaven! I will study my grammar to-morrow morning at cock-crow. To work!

You did right to come and hunt me up. A pleasant walk to you! Ah, no, Coretti, no; you are the happier, because you study and work too; because you are of use to your father and your mother; because you are better—a hundred times better—and more courageous than I, my dear schoolmate.

Friday, 18th. Coretti was pleased this morning, because his master of the second class, Coatti, a big man, with a huge head of curly hair, a great black beard, big dark eyes, and [36] a voice like a cannon, had come to assist in the work of the monthly examination.

There are eight masters in all, including Coatti, and a little, beardless assistant, who looks like a boy. There is one master of the fourth class, who is lame and always wrapped up in a big woollen scarf, and who is always suffering from pains which he contracted when he was a teacher in the country, in a damp school, where the walls were dripping with moisture.

Another of the teachers of the fourth is old and perfectly white-haired, and has been a teacher of the blind. There is one well-dressed master, with eye-glasses, and a blond mustache, who is called the little lawyer, because, while he was teaching, he studied law and took his diploma; and he is also making a book to teach how to write letters.

On the other hand, the one who teaches gymnastics is of a soldierly type, and was with Garibaldi, and has on his neck a scar from a sabre wound received at the battle of Milazzo. Then there is the head-master, who is tall and bald, and wears gold spectacles, with a gray beard that flows down upon his breast; he dresses entirely in black, and is always buttoned up to the chin.

Poor head-master! He wanted to go away after this misfortune; he prepared his application for retirement to the Municipal Council, and kept it always on his table, putting off sending it from day to day, because it grieved him to leave the boys. At the sight of this boy, the head-master made a gesture of astonishment, gazed at him for a while, gazed at the portrait that he keeps on his little table, and then stared at the boy again, as he drew him between his knees, and made him hold up his head.

This boy resembled his dead son. Tuesday, 22d.


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Early career[ edit ] Born in Oneglia today part of the city of Imperia , he went to the Military Academy of Modena , and became an Army officer in the new Kingdom of Italy. De Amicis fought in the battle of Custoza during the Third Independence War , a defeat of Savoy forces against the Austrian Empire ; the spectacle left him disappointed, and contributed to his later decision to leave military life. In , he joined the staff of the journal La Nazione in Rome , and his correspondence at the time later served as base for his travel writings: Spagna , Olanda , Ricordi di Londra , Marocco , Constantinople , Ricordi di Parigi A new edition of Costantinople, considered by many his masterpiece and the best description of the city in the 19th century, was published in , with a foreword by Umberto Eco.


Edmondo De Amicis

The entire chronological setting corresponds to the third-grade season of Enrico says it has been four years since death of Victor Emmanuel II , king of Italy, and the succession by Umberto I , and also tells about the death of Giuseppe Garibaldi , which happened in As well as his teacher who assigns him with homework that deals with several different stories of children throughout the Italian states who should be seen as role models — these stories are then given in the book as Enrico comes upon reading them. Every story revolves around a different moral value, the most prominent of which are helping those in need, having great love and respect for family and friends, and patriotism. Bottini family[ edit ] Enrico Bottini: Narrator and main character.



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