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countenances, that gave the lie to their words; and I am persuaded, in a tête-à-tête, and on a more intimate acquaintance, they would have told a very different story. Several of them are extremely handsome ; but, indeed, I think they always appear so; and I am very certain, from frequent experience, that there is no artificial ornament, or studied embellishment whatever, that can produce half so strong an effect, as the modest and simple attire of a pretty young nun, placed behind a double iron grate. an amiable, unaffected, and unadorned person, that might have been an honour and an ornament to society, make a voluntary resignation of her charms, and give up the world and all its pleasures, for a life of fasting and mortification, it cannot fail to move our pity;

To see


* And pity melts the mind to love.'

There is another consideration which tends much to increase these feelings ; that is, our total incapacity ever to alter her situation. The pleasure of relieving an object in distress, is the only refuge we have against the pain which the seeing of that object occasions; but here, this is utterly denied us, and we feel with sorrow, that pity is all we can bestow.

From these, and the like reflections, a man generally feels himself in bad spirits after conversing with amiable nuns. Indeed, it is hardly possible, without a heavy heart, to leave the grate; that inexorable and impenetrable barrier. At last, we took our leave, expressing our happiness in being admitted so near them ; but at the same time deploring our misery, in seeing them for ever removed at so unmeasurable a distance from us. They were much pleased with our visit, and begged we would repeat it every day during our stay at Messina; but this might prove dangerous.

On leaving the convent, we observed a great concourse of people on the top of a high hill, at some distance from the city. The consul told us, it was the celebration of a great festival in honour of St. Francis, and was worth our going to see. Accordingly, we arrived just as the saint made his appearance. He was carried through the crowd with vast ceremony, and received the homage of the people with a becoming dignity; after which he was again lodged in his chapel, where he performs a number of miracles every day, to all those who have abundance of money and abundance of faith. His ministers, however, are only a set of poor greasy capuchins ; who indeed do not seem to have enriched themselves in his service. In general, he is but a shabby master, if one may judge by the tattered clothes of his servants; and St. Benedict, who does not pretend to half his sanctity, beats him all to nothing. The people continued to dance, in soft Sicilian measures, till after sun-set, when they retired. Many of the country girls are extremely handsome, and dance with a good grace. The young fellows were all in their Sunday's clothes, and made a good appearance. The assembly room was a fine green plain on the top of the hill. It pleased us very much, and put us in mind of some of Theocritus's descriptions of the Sicilian pleasures. But Theocritus, if he could have raised up his head, would probably have been a good deal puzzled what to make of the shabby figure of St. Francis marching through amongst them with such majesty and solemnity. Another part of the ceremony too would have greatly alarmed him, as indeed

The whole court before the church was surrounded with a triple row of small iron cannon, about six inches long; these were charged to the muzzle, and rammed very hard ;

it did us.

after which they were set close to each other, and a train laid, that completed the communication through the whole number, which must have exceeded two thousand. Fire was set to the train, and in two or three minutes the whole was discharged by a running fire; the reports following one another so quick, that it was impossible for the ear to separate them. The effect was very grand; but it would have been nothing without the fine echo from the high mountains on each side of the Straits, which prolonged the sound for some considerable time after the firing was finished.

The view from the top of this hill is beautiful beyond description. The Straits appear like a vast majestic river flowing slowly betwixt two ridges of mountains, and opening by degrees from its narrowest point, till it swells to the size of an ocean. Its banks, at the same time, adorned with rich corn fields, vineyards, orchards, towns, villages and churches. The prospect is terminated on each side by the tops of high mountains covered with wood.

We observed in our walks to-day many of the flowers that are much esteemed in our gardens, and others too that we are not acquainted with. Larkspur, flos Adonis, Venus' looking-glass,



hawksweed, and very fine lupins, grow wild over all these mountains. They have likewise a variety of flowering shrubs; particularly one in great plenty, which I do not recollect ever to have seen before: It bears a beautiful round fruit, of a bright shining yellow. They call it, Il pomo d'oro, or golden apple. All the fields about Messina are covered with the richest white clover, intermixed with a variety of aromatic plants, which perfume the air, and render their walks exceedingly delightful. But what is remarkable, we were most sensible of this perfume when walking on the harbour which is at the greatest distance from these fields. I mentioned this peculiarity to a Messinese gentleman, who tells me, that the salt produced here by the heat of the sun, emits a grateful odour, something like violets; and it is that, probably, which perfumes the sea-shore. On consulting Fazzelo De rebus Siculis, I find he takes notice of the same singularity; and likewise observes, that the water of the Straits has a viscous or glutine ous quality, which by degrees cements the sand and gravel together, and at last consolidates them to the solidity of rock.

There are fine shady walks on all sides of Messina ; some of these ran along the sea-shore,

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