Imágenes de páginas

In p. 61 there are some just observations relative to the

analogy apparent in the mysteries of Pagan and Roman Catholic polytheism;" but it is so clear, that, we should imagine the Catholics themselves are not ignorant of it.

The account of Palermo is picturesque and curious.

“ Palermo is regularly built, and with a better finish, might be esteemed an elegant city; but it presents an incongruous mixture of pomp and poverty, of fascinating gaiety and disgusting wretchedness, exemplified in noble ranges of palaces, disgraced at their bases by the stalls, shops, and mezzanini,” or lofts, of the lower orders; in gaudy equipages, parading the same street with sturdy mendicants, vociferously demanding food, or sluggishly taking their siestas on the pavement, ridding each other of vermin between their naps. The vacant holes of scaffolding, every where visible, seem to indicate unfinished labors; the mixed architecture and heavy corbelled balconies, ever displaying wet linen, and the opera play-bills pasted on boards, suspended across streets already too narrow for the height of the buildings, ruin the perspective effect. Swarms of priests, nobles, officers, and other loungers, yawning on chairs before the coffee-houses, and the cobblers, tai. lors, coopers, carpenters, and artisans of every description, at their respective employments outside their shop-doors, complete the usurpation of the sides of the streets, driving foot. passengers to run the gauntlet among the numerous carriages. The constant calling out this occasions, on the part of the coachmen, who seek to distinguish every person by an appropriate appellation, added to the hurry of business, and the thirsty groups around the fantastically decorated iced-water stalls, conspire to crowd and confuse the whole scene.” P. 74.

We have much work before us, or we should be induced to present our readers with the relation of a horrible domestic tragedy, which occurred here in the year 1815; we prefer, therefore, extracting a passage relative to what our author terms a “ cadavery:" the phrase is not amiss.

“In a Capuchin Convent in the suburbs of Palermo, is one of those cemeteries, common in Sicily, consisting of a large subterraneous space, clean and airy, divided into galleries, surrounded with niches, for the reception of dead bodies; but this one having been represented as a sort of exhibition of portraits of departed friends, I the more particularly notice it. Previously to descending, the acolyte directs the attention of the visitors to the pictures on each side of the door, the one representing the death of a good man surrounded by priests and angels; the other, that of a sinner, whose dying moments are embittered by fiends and fames; added to which, there is a sonnet between them, on mortal dissolution ; so that, on the whole, the feelings are prepared for a solemn and mournful spectacle. On descending, however, it is difficult to express the disgust arising from seeing the human form so degradingly caricatured, in the ridiculous assemblage of distorted mummies, that are here hung by the neck in hundreds, with aspects, features, and proportions so strangely altered by the operation of drying, as hardly to bear a reseinblance to human beings. From their curious attitudes, they are rather calculated to excite derision, than the awful emotions arising from the sight of two thousand deceased mortals. There are four long galleries with their niches filled, besides many coffins containing noblemen in court-dresses; and among the principal personages is a King of Tunis, who died in 1620. At the end of the great corridor is an altar, with the front formed of human teeth, sculls and bones, inlaid like a kind of mosaic work. There is a small apartment at the end of the galleries, which I entered, but soon quitted with the greatest nausea, from an exceedingly offensive stench; for. I found it was a dirty room, called the oven, in which several bodies, in various stages of putrescence, were undergoing the operation of drying. I observed, however, that the friar, who accompanied me, did not appear to be incommoded either by the sight or the effluvia." P. 87.

It is very strange that the nineteenth century, called, and jastly, the age of reason, should present examples of the gross superstition which Roman Catholics delight to perpetuate. At Messina,

" In caskets and phials, set in gold and silver, enriched with cutglass and jewels, are preserved an arm of St. Paul, some blood of St. Mark, the skull of Mary Magdalene, and among other relics a lock of hair sent by the Virgin Mary to the citizens of Messina, when their deputies returned from Palestine with the celebrated letter; in which, after a preamble wishing them health and þene. diction, she expresses her satisfaction at their faith, and desires to be perpetually considered as the tutelary patroness of Messina." P. 120.

These stapid forgeries are a disgrace to the age and nation; and if, as it has often been confidently asserted, the better informed Catholics put no faith in such buffoonery, why do they not exert themselves in its suppression? If they ab. jure, as they pretend, the undue enthralment of priest-craft, why do they not discountenance Prince Hohenlohe's marvels, and conventual jugglery?

The silk-worm flourishes in this climate, and is a great source of occupation and emolument to the female peasantry. They are kept in rooms, with long narrow apertures in the wall to admit the air.

“In April, when the eggs are on the point of being hatched, these slips or windows, are closed, and if the weather is not mild, a slow fire is kept up; this procaution, however, is used only while the eggs are quickening; the incubation being previously accelerated by the women keeping them in their bosom by day, and under their pillows by night, for a few days before their expected animation. In proportion as the caterpillars are produced, leaves of the white mulberry are strewed over them, upon which they creep: and then are placed in shallow baskets, on a kind of shelves constructed of canes, where they undergo the changes of moulting, during which they are kept clean, and regularly supplied with fresh leaves. As they are extremely voracious, if uninjured by any sudden change of atmosphere, an ounce of eggs will devour, from the time of their hatching to the third and last casting, on an average, fifteen hundred pounds weight of mulberry leaves. The three changes occupy a space of about forty days, when they commence enveloping themselves in a cacoon or pod. Some of these cacoons are preserved for propagating the species, and in about ten days the chrysalis, having undergone its last transformation, forces its way through one end of the cacoon, and issues forth a heavy, ill-looking moth. The other pods are placed in the sun, or in a slow oven, to kill the chrysalis, and are afterwards, at leisure, thrown into coppers of hot water, for the glutinous particles by which the filaments adhere, to be dissolved: the raw silk is then wound off, over glass-hooks, upon reels made for the purpose. P. 124.

Of Mount Ætna, our Author furnishes some interesting notices, but the subject is too familiar to justify any length of extract. The account of the mud volcano is curious and not . generally known.

* Three or four miles to the northward of Gergente, and on the road towards Airogond, is the mud volcano, called Maccaluba, probably a corruption of the Arabic word • Makloube,' or upside down. It consists of numerous little hillocks with craters, on a kind of large truncated cone of argillaceous barren soil, with wide cracks in all directions, elevated nearly two hundred feet above the surrounding arid plain, and about half a mile in circuit. These craters are continually in action with a hollow rumbling noise, and by the exertion of a subterraneous force, they throw up a fine cold mud mixed with water, a little pertoleum and salt, and occasionally bubbles of air with a sulphureous taint. The eruptions are more violent in hot than in rainy weather, owing, perhaps, to the outer crust acquiring a greater consistence. Sometimes reports, like the discharge of artillery, are heard, and slight local earthquakes are felt; until, at length, the whole is eased by an ebullition of mud and stones, sometimes ejected to the height of from thirty to sixty feet, though the usual spouts reach only from a few inches to two or three feet, increasing in violence at intervals. P. 213.

Another volcano, Stromboli, is described by Captain Smyth “in good set terms;" and nowhere is the venturous spirit of a British seaman more conspicuous than in the

hazardous expedition from wbich (conceiving the subject one of the most interesting that appertains to natural phe. nomena,) we shall make an extract.

“The crater is about one-third of the way down the side of the mountain, and is continually burning, with frequent explosions, and a constant ejection of fiery matter : it is of a circular form, and about a hundred and seventy yards in diameter, with a yellow efflorescence adhering to its sides, as to those of Ætna. When the smoke cleared away we perceived an undulating ignited substance, which, at short intervals, rose and fell in great agitation; and, when swollen to the utmost height, burst with a violent explosion, and a discharge of red-hot stones, in a semi-fluid state, accompanied with showers of ashes and sand, and a strong sulphureous smell. The masses are usually thrown up to the height of from sixty or seventy to three hundred feet; but some, the descent of which I computed to occupy from nine to twelve seconds, must have as. cended above a thousand. In the moderate ejections, the stones in their ascent gradually diverged, like a grand pyrotechnical exhibition, and fell into the abyss again ; except on the side next the sea, where they rolled down in quick succession, after bounding from the declivity to a considerable distance in the water. A few fell near us, into which, while in their fluid state, we thrust small pieces of money, as memorials for friends.

“I enjoyed the superb sight until nearly ten o'clock; and, as it was uncommonly dark, our situation was the more dreadful and grand, for every explosion shewed the abrupt precipice beneath, and the foam of the furious waves breaking against the rocks so far below us as to be unheard; while the detonations of the volcano shook the very ground we sat on.” P. 255.

At Trapani, the ancient Drepanon, a fraternity was established about the early part of the 16th century under the appellation of Confraternità di san Paolo," on principles similar to the “Secret Tribunal," once so terrible throughout Germany. Captain Smyth, however, though he enters pretty largely into the historical details of the City of Trapani, omits the mention of this circumstance altogether. It certainly merited notice, if only to introduce the judicious sentiments with which a French Author sums up his account of the transaction. “Such," he observes, " are the results of sectarianism and anarchy; the fanaticism of opinion, and the fanaticism of independance. The crime which has generated them is stifled by crimes *.”

In conclusion, we would express our thanks to Captain Smyth for much instructive matter contained in this volume.

“ Voyage de Sicile et de quelques parties de la Calabre, en 1791."

His opinions on points of antiquarian research are generally judicious, and advanced without any over-weening conceit. He has displayed an active and a well-stored mind; very considerable acuteness of investigation, and a perseverance in the attainment of his object which is infinitely creditable. He writes in a perspicuous and manly style; and if we occasionally discover a few grammatical inaccuracies or inelegancies, we attribute them to an accidental oversight which does not at all impeach the general character of the volume.

ART. VIII. Peter Schlemihl: from the German of La

motte Fouqué. With Plates by George Cruickshank. ,

12mo. 166 pp. 6s. 6d. Whittakers. 1828. . Peter SCHLEMIHL had a fortunate voyage, and delivered his letters of introduction to Mr. Thomas Jones, the wealthy merchant whose brother had written in behalf of the young aspirant to his patronage. Mr. Jones was promenading his magnificent grounds with a small company. Among them was a meagre, pale, tall, elderly man, in an old fashioned grey taffetan coat, who, without the interchange of a single word, appeared on all occasions to minister to the wants and wisbes of the party, be they what they might. A lady pricked her finger, and immediately from his close-fitting breast-pocket he produced a supply of English court-plaster. A vessel was perceived in the offing ; this same pocket furnished a Dolloud's telescope. The turf felt damp during the al fresco nooning, and the wish for a Turkey carpet had scarcely escaped some individual's lips, before the tall, thin man drew one out and spread it at his feet. Fanny asked for a marquée, and forth came this also, canvass, bars, ropes, iron-work and all. Next followed three riding horses with saddles and appartenances. If Peter Schlemihl had not visually seen these things with his own eyes, and solemnly recorded them with his pen, none of his readers would believe the narrative.

Yet those before whom these wonders occurred, expressed no surprise, neither could they tell Peter Schlemihl who the tall, thin, meagre, pale, elderly man was, nor whence he came. Peter, in spite of his marvellous acts, and the air of embarrassment and humility with which they were performed, did not like his look, and resolved to steal out of his way, and get home. But this was not his luck: in a sequestered part of

« AnteriorContinuar »