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loth to his admiration; and to complete her conquest she stepped on to the balcony, thereby showing to us a very pretty figure ; and it required some perseverance on my part, and divers hints of stilettos and jealous rivals, before I could persuade my friend to leave the spot. At the quay we entered a boat, which took us through the noble harbours to the foot of the cliffs, on which stands the Capuchin monastery, in that part of ancient Syracuse called Acradina. During our row we discussed with Old Boy the possibility of going to Girgenti by way of Palazzuola and Alicata, and the length of time, and whether we could get a sailing-boat to take us to Malta. As to the first, he confirmed the statements of the muleteer; and as to the second, said he did not think we could get a boat now that there were steamers on the station, but that there would not be one for several days. He asked us to allow him to introduce a muleteer to us, whom, he said, all the Inglesi employed, and who had beautiful fat big-bellied horses new recommendation for a horse. He greatly amused us by calling our persecutor the doganier“
a dam lazy vagabond-him cheat all de strangers," and by his description of the English and their ships. He showed us several certificates of good conduct he had received from travellers, among which I saw one from a friend of mine.
Arrived at the foot of the cliffs, we dismissed our boat and climbed up the summit of the cliff on which stands the Capuchin monastery, and around which there is not the slightest appearance of vegetation. Entering, we were met by a greasy-looking monk, who showed us into the refectory, a large dirty hall, in one corner of which is a deep well of exceedingly cold water; and then, as we declined taking any refreshments, led the way to the gardens. After descending some little distance, we entered those almost subterranean gardens, contained in the excavations made by cutting stone for the ancient city, than which nothing can be more singular and picturesque. On all sides they are surrounded by high massive overhanging rocks, which have been formed either by nature or art into a variety of shapes. . The interior is covered with a dense mass of trees of beautiful foliage and fruit; amongst them, the pomegranate, orange, and citron predominate ; and from the interstices of the rocks spring a number of olive-trees, whose pale-coloured foliage forms a pleasing contrast with the darker and denser foliage of the interior. The ground was literally covered with oranges, citrons, and pomegranates, so that we could hardly walk without treading on them, and the perfume from them was most fragrant. Choosing a shady spot, we refreshed ourselves with some fine pomegranates and oranges-the latter though rather small_and admired the fantastic shapes of the overhanging rocks which shut in this happy valley from the surrounding country, and in which was only wanted a Nekayah, instead of the fat greasy-looking monk, to make the happiness of the valley complete. Loaded with fruit, we left this lovely spot, and again emerging into the fierce glare of the sun, entered the church and descended into the vaults below. Here the remains of mortality in a frightful shape were presented to us. long corridor, ranged in niches, were the skeletons of the monks, dressed in the robes they wore when dwellers in the monastery above. Here was a curious speculation for the philosopher to indulge in, and judge, from the attitudes of the figures, and from the marked expression of many
of the faces of these skeletons, which retained the skin, the characters and dispositions of the monks when alive. We could not help slightly indulging in this speculation ourselves, but there was something disgusting in the sight, more particularly as some of the skeletons were falling to dust, and the dirt and stench were anything but pleasant; and having, moreover, already seen the Capuchin Monastery at Rome, we speedily retired. Standing on the platform of the church, we gazed on the arid plain around, and could hardly fancy that a mighty city had once stood on it, where now there is hardly a vestige of it to be seen. Obeying the usual order of Old Boy “ Come along o' me, gen'lemen,” which was his familiar sentence we followed him, and after a few minutes' walk, arrived at the church of St. John, in which is the entrance to the celebrated catacombs. Here we had to wait some time, whilst Old Boy went in search of a monk to open the doors for us. The sun was intensely powerful, so that we gladly availed ourselves of the shade afforded by the remains of the pillars and portico of the ancient church. At length Old Boy, grumbling at the monks, reappeared with the custode, and we entered the church and descended into the catacombs. These catacombs, at first the burial-place of the ancient Syracusans, were afterwards used by the primitive Christians as hiding-places, where they might perform their worship in secret. They are of great extent, the corridors being broad and lofty, and well cut out of the solid rock; and the recesses for the bodies innumerable. Some of these recesses are of considerable size, others very small. In several parts of the corridors are altars, over which are a few frescoes and stuccoes, apparently very old. We traversed many of the corridors, which are certainly fully equal, if not superior, to those at Naples, and far superior to those at Rome. Our candles being nearly burnt out, we remounted to the upper world, and sensibly felt the great heat of the sun, after having been so long below the surface of the earth. Continuing our walk, we shortly came to the cave which is shown as the tomb of Archimedes, and soon after arrived at the extensive excavations made by quarrying for the stone with which Syracuse was built. They are said to have been used by Dionysius, and the other tyrants who oppressed Syracuse, as prisons ; but our guide would have it that one was used as a piscina, or reservoir for water. The interior presented a rich and luxuriant scene of vegetation. About here we observed the ancient road cut in the solid rock, and the track of the wheels and the marks of the horses worn in it some hundreds of years ago. Contiguous is the ancient amphitheatre, very much ruined, and not to be compared to those at Pompeii, or Pozzuoli ; the view, however, from the heights above it is very pleasing. We now asked Old Boy to conduct us to the celebrated Ear of Dionysius, and in a few minutes found ourselves in the extensive latomia in which it is situated. This extraordinary prison, cut into the solid rock, is in the shape of the letter S, and is about fifty-eight feet high and eighteen feet broad. The sides shelve together at the roof, where they form a kind of groove, which rises gradually till at the further end of the cavern it terminates in a narrow aperture opening into a small chamber. Here, it is said, Dionysius placed himself, and was able to hear the slightest whisper of the prisoners, and thus judge of their guilt or innocence—a clever and ingenious mode, and one well suited for a tyrant. The
echo near the mouth is most extraordinary; the tearing a piece of paper makes a considerable noise, and the echo caused by the firing of a gun, with which we were favoured, reverberated for some seconds, and sounded as loud as thunder. It is possible, by being let down by ropes from the rocks above, to examine the aperture ; and we were anxious to accomplish the feat, and judge ourselves as to whether the slightest whisper was audible; but the man who had the care of the prison was at a festival in Syracuse, and we were therefore obliged to give it up. Whatever doubt
be entertained as to the other latomiæ being used as prisons, I think there can be none whatever as to this; for the rings to which the prisoners were chained are still shown, fixed in the rock; and most likely the prisoners were sometimes allowed to take exercise in the latomiæ, which, as it is surrounded by high overhanging rocks, would prevent
Besides the Ear of Dionysius, there are other caverns in this latomia, which are used as rope-walks. They are of considerable extent, and present many very picturesque scenes. The interior is filled with fruittrees, which form a dense mass of foliage. Having satisfied our curiosity with the prison, we walked to the theatre, most romantically situated, and from which the view of modern Syracuse and the surrounding country is exceedingly beautiful. This ancient theatre was cut out of the solid rock, and the seats are still perfect. On the side of the ambulatory passage are two Greek inscriptions; and close by the theatre are the marks of two roads, which opened an easy communication between the higher and lower towns. Seated on the highest row of seats, we, in spite of the sun, whose fierce rage threatened to give us a coup de soleil, indulged ourselves in contemplating the surrounding prospect. Behind us were the remains of the nymphæum, and ancient aqueduct, with its broken and picturesque arches; the water from which, as it fell in broken columns over the wheel of the mill which it now turns, dashed its spray over the theatre, refreshed the atmosphere, and added to the romance of the scene. Below us was the ancient theatre, whose seats were half hid by shrubs : still further below, and around, was a large tract of land, partly covered with luxuriant vegetation, and partly sandy and arid, on which once stood ancient Syracuse, the rival of Rome and Carthage in size and riches, and so long the object of contention between these two states. Beyond was modern Syracuse, confined to the Island of Ortygia, which seemed to ride upon the bosom of the tranquil Mediterranean, whose deep tropical blue waters were dotted with small coasting craft, with their picturesque lateen sails. Opposite Ortygia, to our right, the land stretched out, forming the spacious harbour on whose shore rise the solitary columns of the Temple of Jupiter, almost, in that direction, the only visible remains of the ancient grandeur of Syracuse. From the elevated spot on which we now were, I was tolerably well able to make out the sites of the five different districts into which Syracuse was divided : Ortygia lay before us; to the left, on the main land, Acradina, in which are situated the catacombs and Capuchin monasteries ; adjoining it is Tychæ; and at its extremity, as it was also the extremity of the city, lay Epipolæ : we were seated in Neapolis. The influence of this scene even affected Old Boy, who became silent and thoughtful, so that I was able to indulge in reveries of the past to my heart's content--and what more favourable spot
could I have chosen in which to give reins to my imagination ? Besides the fables of mythology and the songs of Homer and Virgil with which Sicily is so much connected, not far from the spot where I sat there rises a pool sacred to Cyane, who was changed into a fountain by Pluto for attempting to stop him when he plunged into the infernal regions with Proserpine. What a romantic history, too, is that of Syracuse—which is almost that of Sicily! Colonised by the Corinthians, who drove the ancient Siculi into the interior, it became so wealthy and powerful that it was able to withstand the power of Athens, and not only defeat the fleets and armies sent against it, but utterly to destroy them-one of the great causes of the decline and fall of Athens. Looking at the spacious harbour, I conjured up in my imagination the fleet of the Athenian galleys bravely striving to break through the strong line of galleys that closed the mouth of the harbour of Marmores against them; the combatants excited by the cheers of the armies, and of the inhabitants, who lined the walls of the city. At length the shouts of the Syracusans announce the defeat of the Athenians, whose galleys lie helpless on the beach.
The liberty of Syracuse being destroyed by the tyrants, who, although once driven out, managed to re-establish themselves, Dionysius and his posterity oppressed the mighty city, which became frequently the prey of Carthage. After
many years' war it was taken by Rome, then fast becoming mistress of the world, notwithstanding that Archimedes so long by his genius and science baffled the arms of the Republic. I fancied I could see the Roman fleet drawn up in array against the devoted city, when suddenly the mighty engines of Archimedes are put in operation, and descending, lift some of the vessels out of the sea and dash them against the rocks, whilst others are destroyed by fire; so that Archimedes and his engines became the greatest terror to the Roman arms.
Rome having at last become a prey to the barbarians, Sicily, the granary of the world, was despoiled by the Vandals; they, in their turn, were driven out by the Goths; after which it was seized upon by the Saracens and the Eastern emperors; the former of whom eventually overran it, and who, about Palermo, have left
relics of their power. These, after a sway of 200 years, were expelled by the Normans; since which time it has alternately fallen into the hands of adventurers of French, Spanish, and German origin, under the former of whom happened the Sicilian Vespers. During the last war Sicily became the seat of government, and under the care and auspices of England its constitution was remodelled and regenerated. But on the announcement of peace the seat of government was removed, and its constitution and privileges, notwithstanding they were guaranteed by us, trampled upon and destroyed by the court of Naples ; till at length the rigid imposts and wretched misrule to which it has been subjected has caused it to break out into revolt,* and instead of being the most fertile and productive country in Europe, it has become the most uncultivated and barren. Old Boy's usual “Com along o'me, gen'lemen-sun vare hot!” roused from my reverie, and my friend and myself followed him still higher
This was written in January, 1848. Several outbreaks had occurred when the writer was in Sicily. The events which have since happened were only to be expected, particularly when the wavering policy of our government was taken into consideration.
up till we got close to the broken aqueduct, and there again took a long survey of the beautiful scene, and distant Etna with its sulphur-crusted summit. Descending, we passed a group of black-skinned and dirtylooking yet merry nymphs cooling their feet in the waters, and then made our way towards the city. Seeing some remarkably fine grapes a garden, we told Old Boy we should like some: he therefore led the way into it, and we soon found ourselves seated under the overhanging vines clustering with superb grapes, a large supply of which was immediately set before us, by the bright-eyed wife of the owner of the garden. The grapes proved exceedingly refreshing, and we were enjoying the coolness of the place and Old Boy's jocularity, when our party was increased by the arrival of three Syracusan “cockneys," with their cigarettes. Our guide now told us that these gardens were a favourite resort of the Syracusans, and that “De young men do bringe de gals here and dancey to de guitar." “Are the girls pretty ?" inquired we. Oh,
yas. De English soldiers, when de ware in Sicily, did tink dem vare pretty-dere were many fair-haired childers about," said the old fellow, with a grin.
Resuming our walk, we met several parties evidently going to the gardens, and shortly after entered the gates, round which was a group of soldiers listening to a guitar-player, who alternately sang and improvised. About six we regained our hotel.
Having leisurely finished our cosy and well-served dinner, Old Boy reappeared and begged to introduce to us his friend the muleteer--the self-same man we had seen in the morning. We closely questioned him, as also Old Boy, waiter, and indeed all the establishment, as to the possibility of going to Girgenti by Palazzuola; but finding that they all denied the practicability of doing it, and of going by way of Leutini in less than five days, we were obliged, as my time was limited, though very reluctantly, to retrace our steps to Catania; but instead of going back by the road, we determined to take the mule-path which leads across the mountains and along the sea-shore. We therefore told the muleteer that we should start at six the next morning, and to mind and let us have good mules; when Old Boy, who acted as interpreter, said,
"No, gen'lemen, no muli; you go along with horses.” “Oh no," said my friend,“
we prefer mules.” “ Well den, no all muli, gen’lemen. One long white horse, go very fast, carry baggage. You, gen'leman” (to my friend), “ have mule, and little gen'leman” (pointing to your humble servant, saving the fellow's impudence) “have horse - beautiful fat big-bellied horse, and English saddle; him take long steps_so,” and the old fellow strode across the
Seeing that the man had evidently only one inule, I assented to the fat, big-bellied horse, although I knew it would be to my discomfort, as the horse cannot keep pace at a walk with the mule. This piece of business settled, we dismissed Old Boy and his friend, and then strolled quietly down to the promenade on the quay, which we understood to be the fashionable resort of the Syracusans, and that a band played there between nine and ten o'clock. We had no sooner set foot on the quay than we were surrounded by beggars of all descriptions, and who so