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of the beautiful bay, which resembles a vast lake, reflecting on its glassy surface the bright sky above, and the thousand stars with which it is studded. Naples, with its white colonnades seen amidst the dark foliage of its terraced gardens, rises like an amphitheatre : lights stream from the windows, and fall on the sea beneath like columns of gold. The castle of St. Elmo crowning the centre; Vesuvius, like a sleeping giant in grim repose, whose awakening all dread, is to the left, and on the right are the vine-crowned heights of the beautiful Vomero, with their palaces and villas peeping forth from the groves that surround them; while rising above it the convent of Camaldoli lifts its head to the skies. Resina, Portici, Castelamare, and the lonely shores of Sorrento, reach out from Vesuvius as if they tried to embrace the isle of Capri, which forms the central object; and Pausilipo and Misenum, which, in the distance, seemed joined to Procida and Ischia, advance to meet the beautiful island on the right. The air, as it leaves the shore, is laden with fragrance from the orange trees and jasmine, so abundant round Naples, and the soft music of the guitar, or lively sound of the tambourine, marking the brisk movements of the tarantella, steals on the ear. But, hark ! a rich stream of music, silencing all other, is heard, and a golden barge advances ; the oars keep time to the music, and each stroke of them sends forth a silvery light; numerous lamps attached to the boat, give it, at a little distance, the appearance of a vast. shell of topaz, floating on a sea of sapphire. Nearer and nearer draws this splendid pageant; the music falls more distinctly on the charmed ear, and one sees that its dulcet sounds are produced by a band of glittering musicians, clothed in royal liveries. This illuminated barge is followed by another, with silken canopy overhead, and the curtains drawn back to admit the balmy air. Cleopatra, when she sailed down the Cydnus, boasted not a more beautiful vessel; and, as it glides over the sea, it seems impelled by the music that precedes it,
so perfectly does it keep time to its enchanting sounds, leaving a bright trace behind, like the memory of departed happiness. But who is he that guides this beauteous bark? His tall and slight figure is curved, and his snowy locks, falling over ruddy cheeks, show that age has bent, but not broken him; he looks like one born to command—a hoary Neptune, steering over his native element ;-all eyes are fixed, but his follow the glittering barge that precedes him. And who is she that has the seat of honour at his side ? Her fair, large, and unmeaning face wears a placid smile ; and those light blue eyes and fair ringlets, speak her of another land; her lips, too, want the fine chiselling which marks those of the sunny clime of Italy; and the expression of her countenance has in it more of earth than heaven. Innumerable boats filled with lords and ladies follow, but intrude not on the privacy of this royal bark, which passes before us like a vision in a dream. He who steered was Ferdinand, King of the Sicilies, and she who was beside him, Maria Louisa, Ex-Empress of France.”
Many a glorious evening have I passed with the Blessingtons, in 1823 and in the early part of 18:24, sailing in the bay of Naples, in their yacht, the Bolivar, which had belonged to Lord Byron ; and not unfrequently, when the weather was particularly fine, and the moonlight gave additional beauty to the shores of Portici and Castelamare, Sorrento, and Pausi· lipo, the night has been far advanced before we returned to the Mole.
The furniture of the cabin of the Bolivar reminded one of its former owner.
The table at which he wrote, the sofa on which he reclined, were in the places in which they stood when he owned the yacht. Byron was very partial to this vessel. It had been built for him expressly at Leghorn. On one occasion I was of the party, when having dined on board, and skirted along the shores of Castelamare and Sorrento, the wind fell about dusk, and we lay becalmed in the bay till two
or three o'clock in the morning, some six or eight miles from the shore. The bay was never more beautiful than on that delightful night; the moonlight could not be more brilliant. The pale blue sky was without a cloud, the sea smooth and shining as a mirror, and at every plash of an oar glittered with phosphorescent flashes of vivid light. But all the beauties of the bay on that occasion wasted their loveliness on the weary eyes of Lady Blessington in vain.
Captain Smith,” capitaine par complaisance, a lieutenant of the navy, who had the command of the Bolivar, was a very great original ; on that, as well as many other occasions, he served to relieve the tedium of those aquatic excursions, which were sometimes more prolonged than pleased Lady Blessington. Her Ladyship had a great turn, and a particular talent for grave banter, for solemn irony, verging on the very borders of obvious hoaxing. It was a great delight to her to discover a prevailing weakness, vanity, absurdity, prejudice, or an antipathy, in an extravagant or eccentric person, and then to draw out that individual, throwing out catch words and half sentences to suggest the kind of expression she desired, or expected to elicit, and then leading the party into some ridiculous display of oddity, vanity, or absurdity.
But this was done with such singular tact, finesse, and delicacy of humour, that pain never was inflicted by the mystification, for the simple reason that the badinage was never suspected by the party on whom it was practised, even when carried to the very utmost limit of discretion. This taste for drawing out odd people, and making them believe absurd things, or express ridiculous ones, was certainly indulged in, not in a vulgar or coarse manner, but it became too much a habit, and tended perhaps to create a penchant for acting in society, and playing off opinions, as other persons do jokes and jests, for the sake of the fun of the performance.
The Count D'Orsay, who was a man of genuine wit, and wonderful quickness of perception of the ridiculous, wherever it existed, also possessed this taste for mystifying and eliciting absurdity to a very great extent, and rendered no little aid to Lady Blessington in these exhibitions of talent for grave irony and refined banter, which ever and anon, of an evening, she was wont to indulge in. In Naples, poor “Captain Smith's" anxiety for promotion, and his high sense of fitness for the most exalted position in his profession, furnished the principal subjects for a display of this kind of talent.
The poor Captain was “ fooled to the very top of his bent.” He was drawn out in all companies, in season and out of season, on the subject of posting. The Admiralty were regularly lugged into every argument, and it invariably ended with an inquiry—“Why he was not posted ?” The same observations in reply were always produced, by an allusion to the Lords of the Admiralty ; and the same replies, with unerring precision, were sure to follow the inquiry about post rank. “ There was no patronage for merit.” to have been posted fifteen years ago.
“ Half the post-captains in the navy were his juniors, though all got posted, because they had patrons.” “ But the Lords of the Admiralty never posted a man for his service, and ”_ - The disconcerted lieutenant would then be interrupted by D'Orsay, with some such good-natured suggestion as the following, in his broken English: :-“ Ah, my poor Smid, tell Miladi over again, my good fellow, once more explain for Mademoiselle Power too, how it happens Milords of the Admirals never posted you.”
Then would the lieutenant go over the old formula in a querulous tone, without the slightest change of voice or look.
In July, 1823, the Blessingtons established themselves at the Palace or Villa Belvidere, on the Vomero, one of the most beautiful residences in Naples, surrounded by gardens overlooking the bay, and commanding a most enchanting view of
“ He ought its exquisite features. Though the palace was furnished suitably for a Neapolitan prince, Lady Blessington found it required a vast number of comforts, the absence of which could not be compensated by beautifully decorated walls and ceilings, marble floors, pictures and statues, and an abundance of antiquated sofas, and chairs of gigantic dimensions, carved and gilt. The Prince and Princess Belvidere marvelled when they were informed an upholsterer's services would be required, and a variety of articles of furniture would have to be procured for the wants of the sojourners, who were about to occupy their mansion for a few months. The rent of this palace was extravagantly high ; but nothing was considered too dear for the advantage of its site and scenery.
Lady Blessington thus describes her new abode : “A long avenue entered by an old-fashioned archway, which forms part of the dwelling of the intendente of the Prince di Belvidere, leads through a pleasure ground, filled with the rarest trees, shrubs, and plants, to the Palazzo, which forms three sides of a square, the fourth being an arcade, that connects one portion of the building with the other. There is a courtyard, and fountain in the centre. A colonnade extends from each side of the front of the palace, supporting a terrace covered with flowers. The windows of the principal salons open on a garden, formed on an elevated terrace, surrounded on three sides by a marble balustrade, and enclosed on the fourth by a long gallery, filled with pictures, statues, and alti and bassi-relievi. On the top of this gallery, which is of considerable length, is a terrace, at the extreme end of which is a pavilion, with open arcades, and paved with marble. This pavilion coinmands a most enchanting prospect of the bay, with the coast of Sorrento on the left; Capri in the centre, with Nisida, Procida, Ischia, and the promontory of Misenium to the right; the fore-ground filled up by gardens and vineyards. The odour of the flowers in the grounds around this