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cold, at the one was only 40 degrees, while at the other it was no less than 62. “The rain, which often endures for six weeks, and the Sirocco, or south-east wind, are, however, both highly disagreeable at Naples; for the last gives the vapours in a much higher degree than the worst of our rainy Novembers; and it has now blown for these seven days without intermission.
Sea-bathing,” observes he, we have found to be the best antidote against the effects of the Sirocco; and this we certainly enjoy in great perfection. Lord Fortrose, who is the soul of our colony here, has provided a large commodious boat for this purpose.
We meet every morning at eight o'clock, and row about half a mile on the sea, where we strip and plunge into the water. My Lord has ten watérmen, who are in reality a sort of amphibious animals, as they live one half the summer in the sea. Three or four of these generally go 'with us, to pick up stragglers and secure us from all accidents.
“ To accustom us to swimming in all circumstances, my lord has provided a suit of clothes, which we wear by turns; and from a very short practice, we have found it almost as commodious to swim with as without them: we have likewise learned to strip in the water, and find it no difficult matter. After bathing, we have an English breakfast at his lordship's; and after breakfast, a delightful little concert, which lasts for an hour and a half. Barbella, the sweetest fiddle in Italy, leads our little band. This party, I think, constitutes one principal part of the pleasure we enjoy at Naples. We have also some very agreeable society amongst ourselves, though we cannot boast of much of that with the inhabitants. There are, to be sure, many good people amongst them; but in general, there is so little analogy betwixt an English and a Neapolitan mind, that the true social harmony, that sweetener of human life, can seldom be produced.
“ In lieu of this (the exchange, you will say, is but a bad one), the country round Naples abounds so much in every
thing that is curious, both in art and nature, and affords so ample a field of speculation for the naturalist and antiquary, that a person of any curiosity may spend some months here very agreeably, and not without profit. Besides the discoveries of Herculaneum and Pompeia, which of themselves afford a great fund of entertainment, the whole coast that surrounds this beautiful bay, particularly that near Puzzoli, Cuma, Micænum, and Baia, is covered with innumerable monuments of Roman magnificence.
“ Yesterday we rode over the greatest part of Baia, a shooting of porcupines, a new species of diversion which I have never heard of before. We killed several of these animals on the Monte Barbaro, the place that formerly produced the Falernian wine, but now a barren waste. I do not know if you are acquainted with this kind of sport: 10 me, indeed, its novelty was its greatest merit ; and I would not, at any time, give a day of partridge for a month of porcupine shooting.”
Our travellers, consisting of Mr. Beckford, Mr. (afterwards Colonel) Fullarton, Mr. Glover, and Mr. Brydone, now prepared for their intended expedition to Sicily, which was deemed impracticable by the Italians, partly because there then were no inns on the island, and partly because many of the roads lay over dangerous precipices, or through bogs and forests, infested with the most resolute and daring banditti in Europe.
However, all these considerations, formidable as they certainly were, did not deter Mr. Hamilton (afterwards Sir William Hamilton, K. B.), his lady *, and Lord Fortrose, who had actually engaged in this expedition during the course of the preceding summer, and these were all amply gratified by the pleasure and entertainment resulting from it. But instead of crossing from Regium to Messina, to avoid the bad accommodation of, and the danger from the banditti in, Calabria and Apulia, our travellers preferred to hazard all the feigned
* This was his first wife.
terrors of Scylla and Charybdis, together with the more real ones of sea-sickness.
They accordingly hired an English vessel called the “ Charming Molly,” and taking advantage of a brisk tramontane, or north wind, advanced towards the island of Caprè, or Caprea, once so famous for the abode of Augustus, and afterwards so infamous for that of Tiberius. A little to the west lay Ischia, Procida, and Nisida; the celebrated promontory of Micænum, where Æneas landed; the classic fields of Baia, Cuma, and Puzzoli, with all the variety of scenery that formed both the Tartarus and Elysium of the ancients; the Campi Phlegrei, or Burning Plains, where Jupiter overcame the giants, &c. &c.
Those extensive coasts, along which they afterwards navigated, consisting of mountains, valleys, promontories, and islands, covered with an everlasting verdure, and loaded with the richest fruits, are all the produce of subterraneous fire. The traces of such dreadful conflagrations are still conspicuous : they have been violent indeed in their operations, but in the end have proved salutary in their effects. The fire in many places, indeed, is not yet quite extinguished, although there is only one spot where it rages with any degree of activity.
During a very dark evening, Vesuvius flamed at a dreadful rate, so that they could distinctly behold the red-hot stones thrown to a vast height in the air, and after their fall rolling down the side of the mountain. This was a fine specimen of the sublime; but in the course of the next morning, the sirocco wind returned, accompanied by sea-sickness. At length, however, a fresh breeze from a different quarter sprung up, and they came in sight of Strombolo and the mountains of Calabria. About eleven at night, they beheld part of the coast of Sicily, the irruptions of which appeared of a different kind from those of Vesuvius; and on the 19th, found themselves within half a mile of the object of their researches. Soon after which they entered the bay of
Messina ; not so grand, indeed, but far more beautiful, than that of Naples.
After landing and refreshing themselves, this party of Englishmen visited several of the convents, assisted at the festival in honour of St. Francis, and in their excursions into the country, observed in the fields many of the flowers so carefully cultivated in our gardens, and several others we are still unacquainted with. Larkspur, Flos Adonis, Venus's lookingglass, hawk-weed, and very fine lupins, grow wild over all the adjacent mountains. There, also, were to be found a variety of flowering shrubs, particularly the pomo d'oro: the low lands, too, are covered with the richest white clover, intermixed with a variety of aromatic plants, which perfume the air, and render a walk exceedingly delightful.
“ But what is remarkable,” observes our traveller, we were most sensible of this perfume when walking on the side of the harbour, which is at the greatest distance from these fields. I mentioned this peculiarity to a Messinese gentleman, who tells me that the salt produced here by the heat of the sun, emits a grateful odour, something like violets; and it is that, probably, which perfumes the sea-shore. On consulting Fazello de rebus Siculis, I find he takes notice of the same singularity; and likewise observes, that the water of the straits has a viscous or glutinous quality, which by degrees cements the sand and gravel together, and at last consolidates them to the solidity of a rock.
66 There are fine shady walks on all sides of Messina; some of these run along the sea-shore, and are for ever fanned by the cooling breezes from the Straits. The houses are large, and most of the articles of life are cheap, and in plenty; particularly fish, which are reckoned better here than any where else in the Mediterranean. The hire of lodgings is next to nothing; almost one-half of the noble range of buildings I have described being absolutely uninhabited since the desolation of 1743; so that the proprietors are glad to get tenants on any terms. It now occurs to me, that from all these con
siderations, there is no place I have seen so admirably calculated for the residence of that flock of valetudinarians which every autumn leaves our country with the swallows, in search of warm climates. In winter, they allow, they have sometimes heavy rain for two or three weeks; but it never lasts longer; and besides they have always some few hours every day, when people can go out for exercise: for the moment the rain is over the walks are dry, the soil being a light gravel.”
After paying their respects to the prince-viceroy, they set out for Giardini, with ten mules for themselves and servants, and two for their baggage. They had also a front and rear guard, consisting of natives, armed with swords, pistols, and arquebuses. The road was romantic, and the sides of the mountains, which are highly cultivated, present the most agreeable aspect that can be imagined: corn, wine, oil, and silk, all mixed together, and in the gseatest abundance. The sides of every path are covered with a variety of flowers, and flowering shrubs; many of the inclosures are fenced with hedges of the Indian fig, or prickly pear; while their guides assured them, that in some of the ravines around Etna there are trees, which produce a bastard kind of cinnamon, and pepper.
After visiting and admiring the great theatre of Teurominum they went to examine the Naumachia, and the reservoirs for supplying water. They next contemplated the celebrated tree, known by the name of Il castogno de cento Cavalli (the chesnut-tree, capable of affording shelter to a hundred horses,) which, for some centuries past, has been deemed one of the greatest wonders of Eina.
In the journey from Jaci to Catania, one of the most ancient cities in the island, the road is entirely over lava; they counted eight mountains formed by eruptions, with every one its crater.
The whole of the coast has been formed by the labours of Mount Etna, and for many miles, even the sea itself has been driven back from its ancient boundary. It is