Images de page
[ocr errors]


the administration of viceroys, arising from continual exactions, increasing taxes, scarcity of provisions and a weak government; The grand insurrection under Maffaniello wore a more dismal complexion than all the preceding disturbances, and threatened the dismembering of this valuable branch of the Spanish monarchy. Since that period the anuals of this city are barren of memorable events.

These facts are by no means interesting as they are here related; and if they were, it is not necessary that we should accompany Mr. Swinburne to Naples to be informed of them.

Again, our author takes up nearly two sheets with a sketch of the History of Sicily from the earliest fables of Sicilian Chronologists, who he tells us, deduce the pedigree of their nation in a regular line from Gomer the fon of Japhet, whom they suppose to have settled in Sicily very soon after the food, to Ferdinand the third of Sicily and the fourth of Naples ; this is a very good abridgment of the Sicilian history for the use of schools : but it is deititute of that circumftanti. ality and those general views which bestow so great a charın on particular facts, and which we cannot expect in the ductions of the chronologiit. But if Mr. Swinburne had in one or two large volumes given a legitimate, a noble, and interesting history of the Sicilies, still we should have faid that a book of travels is not the place where we should naturally look for such an history. In all just compositions there is an unity of design, even travels and voyages not excepted. In these we expect, not a history of kingdoms, cities, and towns, but rather a description of their present situations. Or, as we have already hinted, if an historical sketch is at all proper, it is only then proper when some striking circumstances carry back the mind to the causes that gave them birth.

The weakness, the superstition, the credulity of mankind untutored by letters, are in the present enlightened period so generally known and acknowledged, thacto cultivated minds they are subjects not of pleasantry or ridicule, but of pity and very furious speculation. Yet Mr. Swinburne

Yet Mr. Swinburne very often entertains his readers with such legendary taics as the following of Matter Peter Barliardus, which he acknowledges to be childiih but which he relates because it is universally believed at Salerno.

• Peter Barliard'ıs was a famous schoolmaster, ninety-five years old, confequently a great magician. One day his grand-children, who were under his tuition, happened to meet with his conjuring book, and to read aloud a cabalistical paffage in it; at this powerful sunin s the devils apeared to know their pleasure, and frightened the boys to death. When Peter came home and saw the fatal catastrophe of his family, he evoked his infernal spirits and chided them for having killed the children; but the imps proved rlıçir innocence

clearly clearly, and the accident brought the old wizard to fo speedy and lively a sente of his crimes, that in a fit of compunction he instantly teized his pernicious books, and kneeling before the door of this church, burnt them all to alhes ; a fountain bubbled up immediately on the ipot, and runs to this day in commemoration of the event ; Peter having still doubts of his falvation, begged a crucifix, which hung before him, to give him some tign of forgiveness, and lo! the image opened its eyes, bent its head forwards, and the old man dropt down dead overwhelmed with joy and contrition.

The Reader would also have excused Mr. Swinburne if he had omitted many of his descriptions of churches, ab. beys, convents, and other edifices.

At the same time that just criticism censures the vaft collection of folemn trifles which twell this volume, it is but justice also to acknowledge that Mr. Swinburne has not omitted to take notice of what commerce there is in Sicily, and of its natural productions. He has also occasionally described the condition and the manners of the people. For example he compares the character of the ancient and present Neapolitans.

"From the few hints dropped by the classic authors, we collect that the ancient Neapolitans were a race of Epicureans, of a soft indolent turn, averse to martial exercises, passionately fond of theatrical amusements and music, expert in all the refined arts that administer to the caprices of luxury, extravagant in their expressions and gestures, credulous, and dupes to superstitions of various forts. It we make an allowance for a quantity of northern blood which has joined the original Grecian stream by intermarriages with a medly ofconquering nations, and has imparted a roughness not yet worn off by the mildness of the climate, we shall find the prefent citizens of Naples very like the former inhabitarts of their

city. The following scene in the mountains may afford some amusement to our readers.

• Calatagerone, a royal city, containing about seventeen thousand inhabitants, living by agriculture, and the inaking of potter's ware is twenty miles frora the sea, and fituated on the summit of a very high insulated hill, embofomed in thick groves of cypreffes; the road to it, though paved, is very 1teep, difficult, and dangerous for any thing but a mule or an ass. I was conducted to the college of the late Jesuits; and, as the house was compleatiy stripped of furniture, full of dirt and cobwebs, I apprehended my night's lodgings would be but indifferent. The servant belonging to the gentleman who has the management of this forfeited estate, and to whom I had brought a letter requesting a lodging in the college, perceiving the ditñculties we lay under in making our settlement, ran home, and Feturned in a short time with a polite invitation to his master's · house. There was no refusing such an offer, though I was far from expecting any thing beyond a comfortable apartment, and homely fare, in a family settled among the inland mountains of Sicily ; but go my great surprize, I found the house of the baron of Rofabia,



[ocr errors]

large and convenient, fitted up in a modern taste, with furniture that would be deemed elegant in any capital city in Europe. Everything suited this outward fhew; attendance, table, plate, and equipage. The baron and his lady having both travelled, and seen a great deal of the world, had returned to settle in their native city, where they allured me I might find many families equally improved by an acquaintance with the manners of foreign countries, or at least a frequentation of the best company in their own metropolis. Nothing could be more easy and polite than their address and conversation, and my aitonishment was hourly increating during my whole stay. After I had refreshed myself with a short but excellent meal, they took me out in a very handsome coach. It was a fingular circumstance to meet a string of carriages full of well dressed ladies and gentlemen on the summit of a mountain, which no vehicle can aseend, unless it be previously taken to pieces, and placed upon

the backs of mules. We seemed to be seated among the clouds. . As the vast expanse of the hills and the vales grew dim with evening vapours, our parading refeinbled the amusements of the heathen gods, in fome poems and pictures, driving about Olympus, and looking down at the mortals below.

The hour of airing being expired, which consisted of fix turns of about half a mile each, a numerous afsembly was formed at the baron's house ;' the manners of the company were extremely polished, and the French language familiar to the greatest part of it. When the card tables were removed, a handsome fupper, dressed by a French cook, was served up, with excellent foreign and Sicilian wines ; the conversation took a lively turn, and was well supported till midnight, when we all retired to reit. Calatagerone has several houses that live in the same elegant style, and its inhabitants have the reputation of being the politest people in the island. The ciimate in this elevated region is extremely different from that of the tepid fhores I had lately frequented; the night air was sharp and froity, and a cloth coat very necetiary. Every person in the assembly carried a sinall silver vase full of hot embers hanging at the wrist.'

From this elegant assembly let us pass to the Calabrian fwine-herds.

“We travelled, (says our author) fome - miles near the sea, through a marihy country. It is stocked with swine, of which í faw many very large herds attended each by one or two youths ; they conduct their hog's by the sound of a great bagpipe, playing just what notes their imagination suggests. The excentric wildnets of their music, their fimple attire, long shaggy locks, and unconcerned vacant countenances, gave me the idea of beings as near the ftate of primitive nature as any favage in the most unfrequented deserts of the globe. I am persuaded the Calabrian swine-herds of these days are exact copies of the ancient ones, and also that their inode of managing the stubborn animals entrusted to their care has been transmitted to them by a regular tradition; Polybius, who was an exact observer, says, that the Italians do not pen their swine up in ities, but lead them abroad to seek provender on the waste and in the forest : the keeper does not as in Greece, follow and whip théin on, but walks before thein, and occasionally sounds an instrument to call them forward ; the swine keep near, and are perfectly well acquainted with its note, and even when by accident different herds are mixed together, one company of hog's will, at the blowing of their leader's horn, separate from the strangers, and with great impetuofity flock to their itandard. I saw this very circumstance happen as I rode up to the Fondaco del Fico, where we baited.'


This story of the swine herds is well worthy our attention; but our author, according to his manner, proceeds to trifle with his reader thus

" I dined at the door of this solitary inn, under the shade of a venerable cork-tree, and from my seat enjoyed a view of the whole gulf: between it and the road is a swamp full of ponds that abound with water-fowl. Behind the house ends a forest of oaks and corktrees, which covers a great part of the plain and of the Appenine, surrounding a rich corn country, diversified with patches of oliveyards.'

From the extracts we have made our readers will readily be disposed to give us credit, when we say, that Mr. Swinburne is capable of just and even deep observation, but that, either from a deficiency of taste, or from a desire to swell his volume, has intermixed with some curious and important, a great deal of trifling and unimportant matter. He is a naturalist rather than a moralift, and a landscape painter still more than a naturalist. He is well versed in ancient literature, and capable of tracing the remains of antiquity amidst the ravages

of time. He has a turn too for such researches; but this turn often degenerates into puerility, and indicates in general, not the philosopher, but the virtuofo,

In his first volume he made many observations which might have been introduced in this tour. And had his travels to Sicily been published first, they would, probably, have had more merit than his travels in Naples. RT. II. Memoirs of Baron de Tott. Containing the State of the Turkish Empire and the Crimea, during the late War with Ruflia. With numerous Anecdotes, Facts, and Observations, on the Manners and Customs of the Turks and Tartars. Translated

from the French. 2 vols. Svo. Ios. 6d. boards. Robinson. 1785. Art. III. Memoirs of the Baron de Tott, on the Turks and Tartars.

Translated from the French, by an English Gentleman at Paris,
under the immediate inspection of the Baron. 2 vols, 8vo. 1os.
Printed and sold by Jarvis, Debrett, Becket, Sewell.
EFORE we enter into a discussion of the merits of the

present work, it will be proper to lay before our readers specimens of the two translations, which we have above announced to the public: which of them they should prefer shall be left entirely to their own determination.



tory will


Robinson. History appears, at the first History, on a first view, fecms glance, to pre!ent us with nothing a theatre of horror, on which but a scene of horror, where the victims are presented only to renvictims are brought upon the der the names of those execustage, only to throw a lustre on tioners illustrious who facrifice those executioners of mankind, them to gratify their own pafwho sacrifice them to their pare fions. But it likewise exhibits a fions, but it lays before us at the most valuable picture of mansame time the valuable description ners; and this part of history, no of manners; and that part of his. doubt, inust always appear the

appear undoubtedly the most intereiting, when we confimost intereiting when we consider der, that a nation is governed by that a nation is governed by its an- its customs, as individuals are by -cient customs, as the conduct of their proper characters. Where an individual is guided by his can we find a more fruitful source personal character. From what for the knowledge and governmore fertile fource can we derive ment of men ? a perfect knowledge of mankind, or learn to govern them? • In this point of view, history

? For this reason, governors ought to form a most interesting ought to search history. They object of attention in the policy would perceive that cuitoms, by of all governments : it will there insensibly modifying and giving be feen, that customs, by crea

birth to manners, ting and modifying, insensibly, where the spring of action, among their manners, forin, in every mankind ; they prepare, they et part of the world, the great fect the revolution of empires; spring by which mankind are put they furnish materials for the edi. in motion. Customs lay the fice, and render it durable, or un. foundation of, and produce the dermine and shake it to destruc, great revolutions of empires; tion. It is the filence of evil that they form the structure, and either conceals its progress; and this insure its stability, or undermine fatal progress is not perceived, it by degrees; and are the causes till the very moment when he of its total destruction. The who might apply the remedy, rea" flowness of the approach conceals ceives himself an infection which the progress of the evil; and its he wants the power to repel, fatal advances are unperceived until the moment when he, who could apply the remedy, receives himself a stroke he is unable to repel without that force of which he is no longer master.

• If we leave in obscurity those 'If we leave, in the obfeurity torrents of robbers, who, in ra- of time, those banditti, who, like vaging the earth, have trampled torrents, ravaged the earth and under

foot those finall focieties swept away small focieties, afluinwhich affumed the pompous title ing the pompous title of empires; of empires ; if we except too some and if we, likewise, except a few petty itates, who, after increaf- small states, which, after having

are every

« PrécédentContinuer »