Page images
PDF
EPUB

even this bastard relique of the purer clear indications of corruption in taste was extinguished. The Barba- every thing else that is connected rians, after that they had established with the finer feelings. The contheir power on the ruins of the em- ventual vows transformed a large pire, introduced a peculiar form of body of useful citizens into busy corrupt taste which is styled the idlers, whose dreaming style of life Gothic-and is built upon the pas- fitted them to hatch a thousand sion for the childish. This passion scholastic absurdities—which thence displayed itself not merely in ar- issued to the world and propagated chitecture, but in the sciences and in their species. Finally, after that the general spirit of the manners and the genius of man has by a species of usages. The highest point to which Palingenesis toiled up from an almost human genius was able to soar in its entire desolation to its former heights, attempt to master the sublime was we behold in our own days the just the Barbaresque. Romances, both taste for the Beautiful and the Noble temporal and spiritual, were then blooming anew as well in the arts exhibited on the stage of nations; and sciences as in moral sentiment; and oftentimes a disgusting and mon- and we have now nothing left to strous abortion of both in combina- wish for—but that the false glitter, tion-monks, with the mass-book with its easy and specious delusions in one hand, and the warlike banner may not debauch us imperceptibly in the other, followed by whole ar- from the grandeur of simplicity; mies of deluded victims destined to more especially that the still undislay their bones in other climates and covered secret of education may be in a holier soil; consecrated warriors, extricated from ancient abuses—so solemnly dedicated by vow to out- as to raise betimes the moral sensirage and the perpetration of crimes; bilities in the bosom of every youthful and in their train a strange kind of citizen to efficient and operative feelheroic visionaries, who styled them- ings; and for this happy result—that selves knights--and were in search all culture and refinement of taste of adventures, tournaments, duels, may no longer terminate in the fugiand romantic achievements. During tive and barren pleasure of pronounthis period, Religion together with the cing judgment, with more or less Sciences was disfigured by miserable good taste, upon what is external to follies; and we have occasion to ob- ourselves and alien from our highest serve that taste does not easily de interests. generate on one side without giving

X. Y. Z.

SONNET.

There was a silent spot where I have been,
In my blest boyhood, and my spirit caught
Its softer feelings and sublimer thought,
From the still influence of that thrilling scene.
The green-robed mountain and the summer vale
Were dim in the night's shadows; and the wood,
The wild and leafy haunt of solitude,
Held out its branches to the moonlight pale.
The noiseless waters slept beneath the sky,
Baring their silver bosoms to the gaze
Of countless stars, that, with their yellow rays,
Shed new enchantment o'er the scenery.
The birds gave forth no song--the winds no breath,
And all around seem'd failing into death.

V. D.

CAPTAIN W. H. SMYTH'S MEMOIR

DESCRIPTIVE OF SICILY AND ITS ISLANDS. In our last Number we discussed Ægesta, or Segesta, from whose petty with Captain Smyth the general ambition the two greatest maritime complexion of Sicily; the four next cities of former times, Athens and chapters of his Memoirs are devoted Carthage, may date their fall, only more particularly to the object of his the vestiges of a Doric temple and as tour, and contain a description of what theatre remain. The temple is one he, with some latitude of expression, of the most perfect architectural redenominates the Hydrography of the lics in Sicily, and, though of little Island. Lest those of our readers real beauty, derives a melancholy inwho are unacquainted with Greek, terest from the recollections it brings, should be puzzled for the meaning and from its present wild, deserted of this hard word, and those who situation. Standing in the midst of are not should be perplexed by its a bleak and sterile assemblage of present application, we may as well hills, with but one solitary fig tree to inform both parties, that by the hy. afford a shade for the comtemplative drography of Sicily (an authorised traveller, it affects him with a double misnomer we allow), Captain Smyth sense of loneliness, for what is now means, a description of the coast of forsaken must once have been inhathat Island,—the terraqueous coast, bited, what is now gloomy and still and the remarkable places upon it. must once have been busy and gay. The latent scope of the book is thus The sublimest visible object which more completely announced to the can be imagined is a work of human reader, by the explanation of the art perishing amidst the stern imword hydrography in its new sense; moveable bulwarks of Nature: for he will now perceive that Captain “ The temple of Ægesta is built of Smyth's quarto, ponderous as it may a marine concretion, and, from the be, is no more a description of Sicily, unequal shape of some of the shafts, than a similar quarto upon Hyde- the want of a cella and the form of park Corner, Tyburn Gate, Padding- some projecting stones, is supposed to ton, Islington, and the other outposts have remained unfinished. It is notor landmarks of the metropolis, withstanding almost entire, the stywould be a description of London. lobate, frieze, and architrave, are It will also, no doubt, give the reader perfect, and none of the interior is a much more exalted idea, than he deficient; a few stones of the entaotherwise would have had, of our blature only are wanting. The coauthor's ingenuity and fertility of lumns are curious from being without mind, which could enlarge so long flutings, although of the Doric order, upon so little; he will, perhaps, he and suddenly diminishing at both tempted to apply the well-known ends in a kind of groove, supposed exclamation-Bless my soul! eight to have been for the reception of the volumes about potatoes !—with new bronze astragal and torus. The inastonishment and no less justice to tercolumniations are rather irregular, the present voluminous performance. and at several of them the plinth is

The survey of the coast of Sicily cut through for facilitating the ennaturally divides itself into three or 'trance to the temple, so that the cofour sections, according as we chooselumns appear to rest on pedestals.” to consider the island as trilateral or Sicilian annalists ascribe the founquadrilateral ; Captain Smyth has dation of Panormus, or Palermo, to chosen the latter division. A chapter is the immediate descendants of Noah; allotted to each of these sides; and the but the important difference between detail of the North-coast might com- floating in an ark at the will and prehend many interesting particulars mercy of the winds and waves, and relative to the class of towns situate directing the complex motions of a between Cape St. Vito and the Faro ship across the Archipelago and up of Messina, once celebrated, now in a the Ionian, will suggest some doubts state of ruin or decay. Of the ancient as to the authenticity of the traAPRII., 1824.

2 C

rence.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

dition. The world may also be at a feet by the statue of Sta. Rosalia, and loss to know what advantage the drawn slowly up the Cassaro by fifty oxen, Sicilians expect to derive from the with a band of music in front. The meconcession of such a genealogy to thod of illuminating a city in Sicily evinces their wishes; a comparison of Phe- a much better taste than our's, as the tone nician industry and enterprise with of the whole is equal, and public buildings Palermitan indolence and pusillani- only are expected to display particular magmity, might be considered as an in. nificence, for the streets are lined with vidious proceeding on the part of an height; and these being covered with bril

slight wooden arcades, all of a certain enemy, yet such a comparison they liant lamps, have a much more imposing are themselves here described as effect than the irregular attempts of indi. anxious to provoke in our minds, byviduals, most of whom would content an assertion of their Phenician pedi- themselves with putting a few candles in gree. That perverse species of va- the windows. nity which finds satisfaction in con

The fire-works are also on a very extentemplating the previous heights from sive scale, supported by scaffolding on the which he who entertains it has, by Marina, and usually represent some histohis own misconduct fallen-that, am

rical event. The most splendid I had an bition which thus, as it may be said, opportunity of seeing was, in some respects

,

an appropriate subject for pyrotechnical creeps down the ladder of glory, is illustration, being the attack, and burning surely of a very strange description, of Troy; when, after numerous beautiful though by no means of rare occur- evolutions, a grand maroon battery opened,

Cadwallader upon a he-goat and, amidst the flight of many hundred may point to King Arthur on a war- rockets, the city crumbled away, and a horse, as his lineal progenitor, with magnificent illuminated temple appeared in out raising any emotion in his audi- its place. This part of the festival is suctor's breast except that of laughter; ceeded by horse-races in the crowded but the most supreme contempt is streets; yet without any accident occurring, deservedly lavished upon his claims although there are no riders to guide the to ancestral reputation, if he is not horses advance, and close immediately be

animals, but the populace divide as the only poor in means, but debased in hind, adroitly giving the poor creatures a mind, debilitated in body, and degę- blow as they pass. On the last evening, nerate in spirit, like the modern Sici- 'there is a splendid illumination of the inlian. The bold maritime marauders 'terior of the cathedral, in which the draof the Syrian coast, were they capa- pery of gold and silver tissue, the mirrors, ble of practically acknowledging their and the lights, are so tastefully arranged as sense of the merits of their unknown to command unqualified admiration. The descendants in Palermo, would most whole winds up on the fifth day, with a probably visit the “ fire-works" and procession of all the saints in Palermo, “ pyrotechnical illustrations,” ele- amidst a tremendous noise of drums and gantly so called in the subsequent trumpets. A part passes on to Mount

Pellegrino, where a fine causeway has been passage, with more of the opposite made leading up to the Grotto, in which is eleinent, than Saint Rosalia would deem beneficial to her ceremonies, or

a statue of bronze gilt, with head and

hands of Parian marble, representing a her votaries serviceable to their ap- handsome girl, in a reclining posture ; and parel:

the jewels with which it is ornamented Tradition represents this saint, the tu.

prove the faith of her devotees. Some telary patroness of Palermo, to have been a

priests reside constantly on the spot; and daughter of Sinibaldus, and that, being visitors can procure refreshments.—(P. 84

there is a small tavern in the vicinity where disgusted with the profligacy of William's

-86.) court, she retired to a life of solitude and prayer on Mount Pellegrino. There her There are many fine specimens of bones were discovered in a grotto, through Moorish architecture in the vicinity the usual medium of a vision, at the criti. of Palermo, one of the most remarkcal moment when the city was smarting un. able of which is the Ziza or Azziza, der the ravages of a plague, which, of course, was instantly stayed.

a building of hewn stone, decorated The anniversary of this auspicious event

with mosaics, inscriptions, and other has ever since been pompously celebrated architectural ornaments. Its style of by brilliant illuminations, splendid fire architecture, together with the founworks, and the procession of a lofty car,

tains from the Albuhira springs, idenfioridly decorated with various allegorical tify it as the Emir's palace described ti gures, surmounted at the height of sixty in the Arabian manuscript at Mov

reale. One of the inscriptions in this arising from seeing the human form so depalace displays the following eulogy gradingly caricatured, in the ridiculous asand climax, which our author admits to semblage of distorted mummies, that are be justified by the surrounding views here hung by the neck in hundreds, with and scenery : “ Europe is the glory aspects, features, and proportions, so strangeof the world, Italy of Europe, Sicily hardly to bear a resemblance to human be

ly altered by the operation of drying, as of Italy, and the adjacent grounds are ings. From their curious attitudes, they the pride of Sicily.'

are rather calculated to excite derision, than Here is one of those curious recep- the awful emotions arising from the sight tacles so common in Sicily, deno- of two thousand deceased mortals. There minated - Cadaveries, or Mummy- are four long galleries with their niches fillcaves. A very good drawing in ed, besides many coffins containing nobleCaptain Smyth's work represents it men in court-dresses ; and among the prin. as somewhat like the nave of a ca- cipal personages is a king of Tunis, who died thedral, or huge vault, in perspective, in 1620. At the end of the great corridor whose sides are indented by rows of is an altar, with the front formed of hu.

man teeth, sculls, and bones, inlaid like niches, one over the other, for the re

a kind of mosaic work. There is a small ception of mummies or skeletons, apartment at the end of one of the galleries, which are, each and all, suspended which I entered, but soon quitted with

the by the neck, but in a grateful variety greatest nausea, from an exceedingly offenof forms and positions. Whilst the sive stench ; for I found it was a dirty room, criminal laws are in such lively force called the oven, in which several bodies, in within our own realm, we can scarcely various stages of putrescence, were underprognosticate the introduction of this going the operation of drying. I observed, mode of sepulture into England, however, that the friar, who accompanied however deeply the nation may be me, did not appear to be incommoded

either

(P. 87.) imbued with continentalism ; the by the sight or the effluvia. custom of penal suspension has not

The Eastern shore of Sicily enubecome less infamous by growing more familiar among us, and to be Messina, Catania, Mount Etna, Sy

merates many illustrious places,gibbeted after death, in a state of racuse, and others. The first of these presumptive innocence, would be re

has obtained an inglorious celebrity garded by most Britons as equally

as the haunt of a sea-monster, which -unpleasant with being gibbeted be for many years has infested this

fore death, on a proof of undoubted neighbourhood; but the Straits of "criminality. It may however be not Messina have latterly been stripped uninteresting to our readers, if we of a great part of their reputation, extract this account, though they may have no desire to turn it to their by the increasing testimonies which own immediate advantage:

navigators have accumulated, re

specting the innocence and comparaNear the Ziza, is a Capuchin convent, tive harmlessness of the Chimæra, so where a decent table is provided for such long the terror of these shores. Capdecayed nobles as are ashamed to beg. In tain Smyth superadds his evidence, this convent there is one of those cemeteries, and if any doubt yet remains on the common in Sicily, consisting of a large mind of the reader, we hope it will subterranean space, clean and airy, divid- be dissipated by the following attesed into galleries, surrounded with niches, tation from the lips of a better judge for the reception of the dead bodies ; but in these matters than Homer or Vira this one having been represented as a sort gil could pretend to be, or indeed any of exhibition of portraits of departed friends, other writer among the ancients, who I the more particularly notice it. Previ. could not legitimately affix R. N. to ously to descending, the acolyte directs the attention of the visitors to the pictures on

his name: each side of the door, the one representing SCYLLA.--As the breadth across this cethe death of a good man, surrounded by lebrated strait has been so often disputed, I priests and angels; the other that of a sin- particularly state, that the Faro Tower is ner, whose dying moments are imbittered exactly six thousand and forty-seven Engby fiends and flames ; added to which, lish yards from that classical bugbear, the there is a sonnet between them, on mortal Rock of Scylla, which, by poetical fiction, dissolution; so that, on the whole, the has been depicted in such terrific colours, feelings are prepared for a solemn and and to describe the horrors of which, Phamourful spectacle. On descending, how- lerion, a painter, celebrated for his nervous ever, it is difficult to express the disgust representation of the awful and the treoverhear all the conversation that passed At La Marza, on the Southern among the captives, and deal his mercy or coast, where the reader may suppose vengeance accordingly. This story, how himself now arrived, Captain Smyth ever, cannot be founded in truth, as his witnessed the Night Rainbow, a rare tory does not record the confinement of any and beautiful meteor: person of rank, except Philoxenus, the di. thyrambic poet ; and even his imprisonment, beautiful phenomenon, the lunar íris, very

Off this place, in July, 1815, I saw a from his speedy release, may be deemed to have been only a humiliation. It was most

little inferior in brilliancy and prismatic probably one of the prisons where the Cyl- effect to the solar rainbow; the arc was lirii and dregs of the populace were con nearly complete, the plainest termination fined, though it must certainly be admitted appearing to be in the marshes, and the that the design and art apparent in its for- undefined one over the bay of Pozzallo; mation would indicate a more special ob- the moon was shining with bright radiject. The tyrant, however, could not have ance, light vapoury clouds hung over the listened with satisfaction or advantage ; for land, and a lurid horizon bounded the sea. if two or more people are speaking to

I have since been informed by the Sici. gether, it occasions only a confused cla. lians, that this pleasing object is not un. mour; and unless this room, the access to frequent on this part of the coast, owing, which must always have been difficult, was

they suppose, to exhalations from the more convenient than I found it, it must

swamps, and several peculiar localities. have been a wretched apartment for the We vainly hoped that this phenomenon mighty ruler of Syracuse. (P. 168, 169.)

would afford a clue to the strange assertion

of Fazzello, “Landing on the Isle of Cur. Another description, which we ex

rents, before the early sunbeams have gaintract from a work published a short ed strength, hosts of men and armed ships time ago,* may serve to fill up the are seen in the air, that seem to fight with detail of this curious matter:

each other ; but when the sun's rays begin Ear of Dionysius, Syracuse.

to warm the atmosphere, in an instant those The cavern so called is situated in the lar- aërial fantasms are dissipated.” (P. 189.) ger Latomie. Its opening is about seventy Over the river Salso, which empties feet high, in a precipitous rock, about one itself into the sea between Alicata hundred feet in height. The breadth of and Fonducella on this coast, there is the opening at bottom is about twenty feet. "It winds inwardly in a serpentine

an immense bridge of one arch, built form. The length of the cavern is about by order of Charles V. Its magnitude one hundred-feet; its breadth irregular, gave rise to the proverb that Sicily but uniting at the top in a small arch. contained “un monte, un fonte, ed There is a small cavity to the left, on the un ponte,” alluding to Mount Etna, top of the great opening, where Dionysius is the fountain Arethusa, and the strucsaid to have placed himself to listen to the ture in question. prisoners below. In the sides are recepta- Captain Smyth's narrative abounds cles for rings, and ledges of the length of a in classical reminiscences; there is man close to them, whence it may be con- rather too much of this, we think, cluded it was here the prisoners were chained. There is a considerable echo; certainly very interesting to recognize

scattered through the volume. It is but the voice is not more easily heard the distant similitude between the from the smaller cavity than in the cavern. In the Latomie are several other excava.

features of Pagan and Christian Sitions, one of which was converted into a cily, but it is needless to reiterate rope walk; and in the middle of the space those common-places of history and composing the Latomie is an insulated mythology, which are familiar to piece of hewn rock higher than the sides, every well-whipped school-boy, and of a cubic form, on the top of which is the which are but slightly relevant to the ruin of a tower. In the last century this matter in point,-such as: two quarto is said to have been visited by Fazellus pages of extract from one of Cicero's and Donani, two antiquarians, who found speeches, suggested by the mention an ancient sword and shield. Those who of the “ wretched village of Castelhazard the ascent to the supposed listening luccio on the site of the ancient place of Dionysius must submit to sit astride a stick attached to cords fastened in Edissa,” the threadbare story of the ground above the Latomie, and are

Arethuse and Alpheus, the long de thus pulled up from below: a dangerous scription of ancient Syracuse, and and disagreeable undertaking, not at all re- its five quarters, of which scarcely paying the traveller's curiosity.

any thing now remains to give occa* “ Sicilian Scenery,” from the original sketches of Major Light, with drawings by Dewint, a book which may be consulted with advantage by the fireside traveller through Sicily

« PreviousContinue »