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and a great part of Italy, and makes a very considerable branch of commerce; for even the peasants in these hot countries regale themselves with ices during the summer heats ; and there is no entertainment given by the nobility, of which these do not always make a principal part: a famine of snow, they themselves say, would be more grievous than a famine of either corn or wine. It is a common observation amongst them, that without the snows of Mount Ætna, their island could not be inhabited ; so essential has this article of luxury become to them. But Ætna not only keeps them cool in summer, but likewise keeps them warm in winter; the fuel for the greatest part of the island being carried from the immense and inexhaustible forests of this volcano, and constitutes too, a very large branch of commerce.—But this amazing mountain perpelually carries me away from my subject ; I was speaking of this city.—What of it was spared by the eruption of 1669, was totally ruined by the fatal earthquake, 1693 ; when the greatest part of its inhabitants were buried under the walls of their houses and churches. Yet, after such repeated and such disial disasters, so strange is their infatuation, that they could never be prevailed upon to change their situation. The whole city was soon rebuilt, after a new and an elegant plan, and is now much handsomer than ever. There is scarce any doubt, that in some future commotion of the mountain, it will be again laid in ashes. But at present they are in perfect security: the Virgin and St. Agatha have both engaged to protect them; and under their banner the hold Ætna, with all the devils it contains, at defiance.

There are many remains of antiquity in this city, but indeed most of them are in a very ruinous state. One of the most remarkable is an elephant of lava, with an obelisk of Egyptian granite on his back. likewise considerable remains of a great theatre, besides the one belonging to the prince of Biscaris; a large bath almost entire; the ruins of the great acqueduct, eighteen miles long; the ruins of several temples, one of Ceres, another of Vulcan : the church called Bocca di Fuoco was likewise a temple. But the most entire of all is a small rotundo, which, as well as the pantheon at Rome, and some others to be met with in Italy, in my

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opinion demonstrates that form to be the most durable of any.

It has now been purged and purified from all the infection contracted from the heathen rites, and is become a Christian church, dedicated to the blessed Virgin, who has long been constituted universal legatee, and executrix to all the ancient goddesses, celestial, terrestrial, and infernal; and, indeed, little more than the names are changed, the things continuing pretty much the same as ever. The Catholics themselves do not attend to it; but it is not a little curious to consider, how small is the deviation in almost every article of their present rites from those of the ancients. I have somewhere seen an observation, which seems to be a just one ; that during the long reign of heathenism, superstition had altogether exhausted her talent for invention ; so that when a superstitious spirit seized Chris. tians, they were under the necessity of horrowing from their predecessors, and imitating some part of their idolatry. This appears to be strictly the case. I took notice of it to Signior R-, who is not the most zealous sectary in the world, and who frankly owned the truth of the observation.

In some places the very same images still remain: they have only christened them; and what was Venus or Proserpine, is now Mary Magdalene or the Virgin. The same ceremonies are daily performed before these images; in the same language, and nearly in the same manner. The saints are perpetually coming down in person, and working miracles, as the heathen gods did of old. The walls of the temples are covered with the vows of pilgrims as they were formerly. The holy water, which was held in such detestation by the first Christians, is again revered, and sprinkled about with the same devotion as in the time of Paganism. The same incense is burnt, by priests arrayed in the same manner, with the same grimaces, and genuflexions, before the same images, and in the same temples too. In short, so nearly do the rites coincide, that

pagan high priest to come back, and re-assume his functions, he would only have to learn a few new names: to get the Mass, the Paters, and the Aves by heart; which would be much easier to him, as they are in a language he understands, but which his modern successors are often ignorant of. Some things to be sure would puzzle him ; and he

were the



would swear that all the mysteries of Eleusis were nothing to the amazing mystery of transubstantiation

; the only one that ever at. tempted to set both our understanding and our senses at defiance, and baffles equally all the faculties both of the soul and body.-He would, likewise, be a good deal at a loss to account for the strange metamorphosis of some of his old friends. That (he would say) I can well remember, was the statue of Venus Meretrix, and was only worshipped by the loose and voluptuous. She seems to be won. derfully improved since you made her a Christian; for I find she is now become the great protectress of chastity and of virtue.-Juno too, who was so iinplacable and so revengeful, you have softened down into a very moderate sort of deity; for I observe you address her with as little fear or ceremony as any of the rest of them; I wish you would make the Furies Christians too, for surely they would be much the better for it. But observing the figure of St. Anthony, he would exclaim with astonishment, But what do I behold ! -Jupiter, the sovereign of gods and men, with a ragged cloak over his shoulders ! What a humiliating spectacle ! Well do I remember, with what awe we bent

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