Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and are for ever fanned by the cooling breeze 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 bire of lodgings is next to nothing ; almost one half of that noble range of buildings I have dem scribed, 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 considerations, there is no place I have seen so admirably calculated for the residence of that flock of valetudinari

every autumn leave our country with the swallows, in search of warm climates. I have been inquiring with regard to their winter season, and find all agree, that, in general, it is much preferable to that of Naples. They allow they have sometimes heavy rain for two or three weeks; but it never lasts longer ; and besides, they have always some fair 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.

The advantages of Messina over Naples in other respects, I think, are considerable. At Naples there are no walks; and, the truth is,

ans, which

they have no occasion for them, no more indeed than they have for legs; for you know as well as I, that walking there is little less infamous than stealing; and any person that makes use of his limbs is looked upon as a blackguard, and despised by all good company. The rides too are all at a great distance ; and

you are obliged to go some miles on streets and pavement before you get into the country ; besides passing the vile grotto of Pausillipe, where you are in danger of being blinded, and stifled with dust. There are seldom any public diversions here ; the attending of which at Naples, and complying with their bad hours, does often more than counteract all the benefit obtained from the climate. That detestable practice of gaming too is by no means so prevalent here; which from the anxiety it occasions to the mind, and lassitude to the body, must be death to all hectic people, weak breasts, or delicate nerves.

I could

say much more on this subject, but as I have

many of these circumstances only from the report of the inhabitants, it makes me more diffident, than if I had known them from my own experience. We found our banker, Mr. M

a very sensible man, and spent some hours with him,

both this morning and evening, very agreeably. He has given us some account of the police of the country; the most singular, perhaps, of any in the world ; to such a degree, indeed, that I shall not venture' to tell it you, till I have talked it over with some other people, to see if the accounts agree; though from the character that gentleman bears, both here and at Naples, he is as good authority as any in the island.

The prince of Villa Franca is arrived; so that we shall probably have our audience tomorrow morning. Adieu-We are just going to sup upon stakes made of the pesce spada or sword fish, which are caught in great plenty in these seas.

The sword of this one is upwards of four feet long; and a formidable weapon it is :-not unlike a Highland broad sword. This fish, when cut, bears a perfect resemblance to flesh; so much, that none of us doubted it was beef-stakes they were dressing for us, and ex. pressed our surprise at finding that dish in Sicily.-Good night.

LETTER IV.

21st. We are just returned from the prince's. He received us politely, but with a good deal of state. He offered us the use of his carriages, as there are none to be hired, and, in the usual style, desired to know in what he could be of service to us. We told him (with an apology for our abrupt departure) that we were obliged to set off to-morrow, and begged his protection on our journey. He replied, that he would give orders for guards to attend us, that should be answerable for every thing; that we need give ourselves no farther trouble; that whatever number of mules we had occae sion for should be ready at the door of the inn, at any hour we should think

proper to appoint: he added, that we might entirely rely on those guards, who were people of the most determine ed resolution, as well as of the most approved fidelity, and would not fail to chastise on the spot any person who should presume to impose upon us.

Now, who do you think these trusty guards are composed of? Why, of the most daring, and most hardened villains, perhaps, that are to

be met with upon earth, who, in any other country, would have been broken upon the wheel, or hung in chains, but are here publicly protected, and universally feared and respected. It was this part of the police of Sicily that I was afraid to give you an account of: but I have now conversed with the prince's people on the subject, and they have confirmed every circumstance Mr. M. made me acquainted with.

He told me, that in this east part of the island, called Val Demoni, (from the devils that are supposed to inhabit Mount Ætna,) it has ever been found impracticable to extirpate the banditti ; there being numberless caverns and subterraneous passages in that mountain, where no, troops could possibly pursue them : that besides, as they are known to be perfectly determined and resolute, never failing to take a dreadful revenge on all who have offended them, the prince of Villa Franca has embraced it, not only as the safest, but likewise as the wisest, and most political scheme, to become their declared patron and protector. And such of them

think proper to leave their mountains and fo. rests, though perhaps only for a time, are sure to meet with good encouragement, and security in his service; they enjoy the most unbounded

as

« AnteriorContinuar »