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tion, that every time they go down they make the sign of the cross, and mutter an Ave Maria, without which they should certainly be drowned; and were not a little scandalized at us for omitting this ceremony. 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 very difficult matter: and I am fully persuaded, from being accustomed to this kind of exercise, that in case of shipwreck we should have greatly the advantage over those who had never practised it; for it is by the embarrassment from the clothes, and the agitation that people are thrown into, from finding themselves in a situation they had never experienced before, that so many lives are lost in the water.
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 likewise some very agreeable
society amongst ourselves, though we cannot boast much of that with the inhabitants. There are, to be sure, many good people among them: but in general, there is so very little analogy betwixt an English and a Neapolitan mind, that the true social harmony, that great 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 sure rounds this beautiful bay, particularly that near Puzzoli, Cuma, Micenum and Baia, is covered with innumerable monuments of Roman magnificence. But, alas ! how are the mighty fallen! This delightful coast, once the garden of all Italy, and inhabited only by the rich, the gay, and luxurious, is now abandoned to the poorest and most miserable of mortals. Perhaps, there is no spot on the globe that has undergone so shorough a change; or that can exhibit so strika
ing a picture of the vanity of human grandeur. Those very walls that once lodged a Cæsar, a Lucullus, an Anthony, the richest and most voluptuous of mankind, are now occupied by the very meanest and most indigent wretches on earth, who are actually starving for want in those very apartments that were the scenes of the greatest luxury. There we are told that suppers were frequently given that cost fifty thousand pounds; and some that even amounted to double that sum.
The luxury indeed of Baia was so great, that it became a proverb, even amongst the luxurious Romans themselves; and, at Rome, we often find them upbraiding with effeminacy and epicurism, those who spent much of their time in this scene of delights ; Clodius throws it in Cicero's teeth more than once: and that orator's having purchased a villa here, hurt him not a little in the opinion of the graver and more austere part of the senate. The walls of these palaces still remain, and the poor peasants, in some places, have built up their miserable huts within them; but, at present, there is not one gentleman or man of fashion residing in any part of this country; the former state of which, compared with the present, certainly makes the
most striking contrast imaginable. Yesterday we rode over the greatest part of it a-shooting porcupines, a new species of diversion, which I had 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 don't know if you are acquainted with this kind of sport. To me, I own, its novelty was its greatest merit; and I would not at any time give a day of partridge for a month of porcupine shooting. Neither indeed is the flesh of these animals the most delicious in the world, though to-day most of us have dined upon it. It is extremely luscious, and soon palls upon the appetite.
We are now going to lay in our sea-store, as there is some probability that we shall sail in a day or two. Farewell you shall hear from me again at Messina, if we are not swallowed up by Charybdis.
On Board the Charming Molly, off the
Island of Capre, May 15.
WE have now begun our expedition with every auspicious omen. This morning the melancholy sirocco left us; and in place of it we have gotten a fine brisk tramontane, (or north wind,) which in a few hours blew
away vapours, and made us wonder how much the happiness of mankind depends on a blast of wind. After eating a hearty dinner with many of our friends at Mr. Walter's, and drinking plentifully of his excellent burgundy, we took leave in the highest spirits. Had the sia rocco blown as yesterday, we should probably have been in tears; and not one of us would have suspected that we were crying only because the wind was in the south. We are not apt to suppose it; but probably a great part of our pleasures and pains depend upon such trivial causes, though always ascribed to something else; few people being willing to own themselves like a weathercock, affected by every blast. Indeed we should have naturally imputed it to the