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the state of appetite under which it will be read, I shall be excusable if I pass over the description of that shore breakfast to which the last chapter was conveying the reader, and a small article with a white rag that “walked the waters" like a “fly through a glue-pot” was endeavoring to convey myself. All that I can say is, that, had Dogberry been at the table, he would have maintained that other things than reading and writing came "by nature ;” though how four Germans, who in all the authority of light moustaches and heavy gutturals were seated at one end of the board, came, would have puzzled a quicker witted man than the captain of the watch. That they were new-comers was testified by their voracity and soiled linen,-comers by sea, by the absence of mud on their clothes and color in their cheeks; and yet the “ Paler. mo” was the only vessel that had arrived within a day or two, and no such gentlemen did she bring. The phenomenon of their presence divided my attention with the fare which our " 'otel” furnished, and which was at least as substantial as a Scotch or even a New England meal ; and with the peculiar nonchalance with which they swallowed fried fish, hot bread, mutton chops, prickly pears and preserves, washing down this analysis of chaos with vin ordinaire and laughter such as one hears occasionally in a menagerie. Strength of lungs and preoccupancy gave the “ fatherland” a decided supremacy, so that my volatile Englisher was for the time silenced, and dispatched his tea and toast very much as we may suppose Mr. Caudle to do his, that is, when Mrs. C. presides. The “ memorable disjune” being completed, each one retired ; those who had not shaved, to go through the form ; and those who had to consult guide-books and plot out occupation for the day. Until these results shall be accomplished, I shall beg leave to give the reader some general idea of the island to which he has accompanied me, reserving more particular description for such places as we may hereafter explore in company.
Sicily, at present but seldom visited by the traveler, and even when visited but slightly inspected, was, if we may credit historians, regarded in ancient times as a prize of the greatest value, and has attracted at different periods the ambition or the cupidity of almost every important European power. Separated from one continent by a strait not wide enough to afford any obstacle to peaceful communication, and yet a considerable protection from attack; and removed scarce a hundred miles from another-blessed with a delicious climate, a soil of uncommon fertility and mineral resources of great value-it has been since the days of its earliest settlers a possession grasped at and for a short period held by them all; and it exhibits at the present day some relics of almost every master. Its first inhabitants are familiar to the readers of Homer, as the Cyclops and Laestrygonians, and indeed, it might be added, to him only, since but little is heard of them elsewhere. The Sicani and Siculi in process of time expelled these aboriginal cannibals, and after the usual amount of warlike rivalry coalesced and became joint rulers of the island, only to be driven out in their turn, by the Greeks and Phænicians, whose descendants finally succumbed to the Romans, then the masters of the worid. After the sun of this na. tion had set for ever, a people on the other side of the water placed their eyes upon it, and Sicily became a Saracen conquest. None of the European conquests of that brave but fanatical race were permanent, and at length it fell a prey to the Normans, the conquerors of a still larger and more powerful island in the North. It then became successively a French, a Spanish, and a Sardinian possession, and is now the most valuable but least productive part of the dominions of the King of Naples. The period at which it was most distinguished through its inhabitants, was that of its possession by the Greeks, and it then gave birth to men, the labors of whose minds have not been thought an unprofitable study even in the nineteenth century. Theocritus, the master of Virgil, Empedocles, the philosopher, Epicharmus, the father of Comedy, the historian Diodorus, Archimedes, Stersichorus, Dionysius the tragedian,—all these were Sicilians. In the earlier epochs of mythology it was the scene of many fables, as familiar to us as “household words.” It was the favorite retreat of Hercules : there Minos was treacherously murdered. It was on the plains of Enna, that Proserpine was gathering flowers when love claimed her as queen of the gloomy realm. Its volcano was the forge of Vulcan ; Mount Eryx still bears the name of the gigantic boxer; and who is there that has forgotten the Scylla and Charybdis of his school-boy days?
Independently of the attraction which arises from a mere connection with antiquity, it is of great interest to the modern traveler, from the fruits of that connection, and from its extreme natural beauty. The temples of Agrigentum, the ruins of Syracuse, the solitary column of Segesta, the confused remains of Selinuntium, are all gray with age, and yet young in their beauty; and though the stupendous ice-peaks of Switzerland, the fertile plains of Lombardy, the valley of the Rhine, or the lake country of England, may have the preëminence in their one point of beauty, still I think it may safely be said that no country possesses an assemblage and variety of beauty so great as this little island. Here is the gentle meandering stream, the quiet lake, the foaming, brawling torrent, the sounding waterfall; here the wide expanse of plain enameled with flowers of every hue, the bold and rolling couniry, the deep valley, the precipitous hill, the flaming volcano ; here the bluff iron-bound coast and the beautiful sun-lit bay; here are the vine, and the olive, and the field of grain ; the apple, the orange, the pomegranate ; the cork, the almond, the fig, the palm-tree; the rosebush, and the towering aloe ; some of our own forest trees, and the pepper of the east ; here is the beauty of a nature sublime as well as unpresuming-of action as well as of repose, of danger as well as of peaceful tranquillity. In short—but here comes my John Bull, book in hand, so good-bye to description, and
"We take a coach together of course, eh ?" These were the first words that greeted me, and before I could answer, the flood-gates were opened, and a torrent of pent-up information was let loose upon me. Thus it commenced—" I say, you've no idea of what a place you have dropped upon ; 'pon my word it's wonderful; take at least a week I'm sure ; do it up in a couple of days though, if we go together. There's
monuments, and monasteries, and bronze rams—by the way, they say they are something quite decent, are those rams—mark that; and palaces and marinas, and small exhibitions of improvisatores to be met with anywhere, and old Saracenic remains, and I say, have you seen any balconies yet ? they say the balconies are Saracenic, remember to look at them, will you ?” “Yes"-with difficulty squeezed in
“ Then there are not one less than a hundred and fifty thousand dried men within a half a mile of the inn, and just as good as new, and altogether the place is decidedly beautiful, mountains and all that sort of thing, you know. Now the next thing is, what we must see first, and I think we had better call a coach, for I've no idea of being lost till I've seen the balconies and brass rams, and I don't want to give up the dried men either, unless absolutely necessary; and after all, there is a female saint who was buried a little distance out of town, and has a gold frock on, which musn’t by any means be overlooked.”
“ Just as you please,” said I, "call a couple of coaches if you want, though my private opinion is that you'll call iwo more than can conve. niently attend just now.”
" Why, you don't mean there's a funeral, or any thing of that kind, for the chambermaid told me that only one man had died here in a year, and he was an American, and they think he would have survived if his wife hadn't been with him.”
“ By no means," said I, “but I don't think there's a coach or any thing of that kind. I have seen a few mules, and a sedan-chair or two ; but at any rate I don't perceive any licensed stand for cabs at hand, and so we had better walk.”
“ Very well,” said he, “ but unless you have made inquiries, I shall take the liberty of investigating the horse-power of this town; for as to walking back from those smoked men-for I take it for granted they are smoked-even if I walked there, it's out of the question."
Accordingly he did institute an inquiry, which after a long gestation produced not merely a satisfactory answer, but “horresco referens" a couple of Palermitan nags, with a Palermitan man, and a sort of coffin on four wheels behind them. I lay it down as a first principle in traveling, when your companion procures a conveyance, to ask no questions, but immediately enter; because, if he intends paying for it, you certainly have no right to complain ; if not, it is much better and equally satisfactory, as will be found upon trial, to take out your grumbling on coachy, who will probably never see you again, and who ex officio expects it, and will be disappointed without it. Acting upon this principle, I ascended a sort of Jacob's ladder of iron which, for all I know to the contrary, might be Saracenic like the balconies, and seated myself on what that enlightened people never mistook for a cushion, I'm sure, if Irving tells the truth ; along with my friend, his friend the projector, and a friend of the party, who, like a town which happens to have elected an opposition ticket, the newspapers tell us “has not yet been heard from," but who will be called for when I bave a " convenient season.” We were “ Arcades ambo," that is, he and I ; sprung from the same “ Ultima Thule” of civilization, and many an agreeable
day had we together, long after the projector and his friend were wasting their sweetness in the Conservative Club-room.
When once fairly seated in our vehicle, the unanimous opinion appeared to be that we should first direct our attention to the Duomo or Cathedral, which would give us on our approach, a view of the Toledo, the finest street in Palermo, and gratify at the same time the curiosity of our friend in respect to the balconies. Accordingly we passed the word forward to our auriga, who immediately commenced operations on his team. First there was a vigorous application of the whip, the lash and handle being employed alternately, accompanied by a vicious E-u-g-h from the driver; this cry finally gave place to louder shouting, the fustigation remaining as before, till at length the steam was up, and, amid a torrent of Sicilian oaths, we perceived that we were under way. As in the province of the imagination there is but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous, so in our locomotion there was but a step from the stationary to the cork leg, and we flew over the smooth flags of the street, our conveyance swinging backwards and forwards like a hammock in a high wind, to our infinite diversion and the astonishment of by-standers, who, from the deference with which they regarded our party, evidently took us for superior beings.
According to promise, as soon as we were well under way, I called the attention of the Englishman to the relics of Saracen luxury, which in the shape of balconies of every texture and pattern, iron and wood, to the number of about ten to each house, claimed his antiquarian rev. erence, and presented a feature in the scene in reality very striking, since they gave to the houses a light and airy appearance, quite in opposition to the usual style of Italian buildings. All of a sudden we came to a full halt, and my countryman, who was my viz-a-viz on the back seat, suddenly changed his position, and while his cigar encountered my bat, to the entire destruction of its nap, he himself knocked the breath out of my body, by the sudden application of a hundred and fisty weight, more or less, thereto. On recovering wind and relative position, I cast an eye on coachey, who was acting over again the opening scene, with improvements, and was, so far as I could construe his manæuvres, apologizing for the stoppage of his horses, by excessive activity on his own part. The fact was, that one of his horses was down, and with an ingenuity characteristic of the descendants of Archimedes, he was endeavoring to raise him by what I venture to say no other nation under the sun would have thought of, viz : whipping the one that still kept his legs. The result proved the correctness of the theory, though by no means the economy of the practice, and a vibration of some five minutes more brought us to the Cathedral, where we dismounted, shook hands all round, to ascertain that the bones were in their proper places, and commanding our equipage to await us, entered the building
The Duomo embraces in its architecture both the Italian and Gothic styles, and, standing in a spacious piazza, presents to the first glance an exceedingly imposing appearance. It was built towards the close of the twelfth century, and is dedicated to Santa Rosalia, the lady whose “gold frock” excited our friend's curiosity. The interior is exceedingly striking, and not only by the turbaned capitals of granite columns which, to the number of eighty, support its vaulted roof, but by the inlaying in marbles and showy woods, the tracery of vine and leaf work, wrought in the niches, as well as the peculiar character of the dome, proclaims it Saracen, if not in its original construction, at least in its main features, as it now exists. It contains but few paintings, and none of any note, and is remarkable simply for its tout ensemble, the picturesque groupings of its columns, and the dissimilarity to the majority of Italian churches. It has, 'tis true, some fine carving in wood, but by no means comparable to that so common in the Netherlands, and of which Vanbruggle was such a distinguished artist. In this church are the remains of Roger Guiscard, the first Norman conqueror of the island, and they are contained in a sarcophagus of rare stone, protected by a Mosaic canopy, and surrounded by columns of porphyry. The tomb is shown with considerable reverence, and indeed the same feeling seems always to attach to the memory of their Norman ancestors with those people in whom the memory exists, principally ciceróni and garzóni di piazza.
The church itself wants the solemnity, the awe-inspiring grandeur, which is a concomitant of Gothic architecture ; it has not the religious silence, and does not convey the impression of space, and height, and strength, which one feels in the Gothic churches of Rouen, perhaps nowhere surpassed in their power of producing an impression at first sight; nor has it the gorgeous dazzle of the Italian churches-lhe mass of gilding, the frescoes, the variety of marbles, the painting, and sculpture, which compose so much of the beauty of these edifices ; but it possesses a character singular to itself, a blending of the peculiarities of both the others, and one in some respects pleasing, in others disagreeable to the eye ; but still, from a necessity imposed on most combinations, where the component parts are not first decomposed and then united, it can vie with neither in the claim for elementary beauty, but must be willing, if it aspire to perfection at all, to claim it in a secondary and inferior sphere, since the alterative is always the servant of the creative power. That which it possesses of Saracenic in its structure is exclusively its own; and though the range of sublimity is beyond the reach of this architecture, it excites pleasure, astonishment, or admiration, to an equal extent with the Italian, though in a different manner, by an exhibition of the results and proofs of wealth, rather than that of wealth itself.
Leaving the Cathedral, we proceed to the church of La Martorana, and after admiring some silver gratings which separate the department of the Nuns from the great body of the church, and (at least myself) some two or three pairs of sparkling eyes and rosy lips, which were in course of being taught not to "put their confidence in man,” tant pis, but looked like very unapt scholars, tant mieux, (really I am not sure that I have used these little expressions as Sterne recommends,) we left for La Chiesa dell' olivella, which is one of the most highly ornamented of the Palermitan churches, abounding in arabesques, in marble inlayings and paintings, and has a picture of some scriptural subject, which the sexton, or he who answered to that officer with us, de