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him with the visit he had received the preceding night, from his brother, by his order; assuring him, that if he had been master of the sum, he should immediately have supplied it.
*Well,” says the robber, “ I will now convince you
brother or I are most to be believed ; you
go with me to his house, which is but a few miles distant." On their arrival before the door, the robber called on his brother, who never suspecting the discovery, immediately came to the balcony ; but on perceiving the priest, he began to make excuses for his conduct. The robber told him, there was no excuse to be made ; that he only desired to know the fact, Whether he had gone to borrow money of that priest in his name or not? -On his owning he had, the robber with deliberate coolness lifted his blunderbuss to his shoulder, and shot him dead ; and turning to the astonished priest, “ You will now be persuaded,"
, said he, “ that I had no intention of robbing you at least.”
You may now judge how happy we must be in the company of our guards. I don't know but this very hero may be one of them; as we are assured they are two of the most intrepid and resolute fellows in the island. I will not VOL, I,
close this letter, till I give you some account of our journey. In the mean time, adieu. We are going to take a look of the churches and public buildings: but with these I shall trouble
you very little.
21st at night. We have been very well entertained both from what we have seen and heard. We used to admire the dexterity of some of the divers at Naples, when they went to the depth of forty-eight or fifty feet, and could not conceive how a man could remain three minutes under water without drawing breath; but these are nothing to the feats of one Colas, a native of this place, who is said to have lived for several days in the sea, without coming to land, and from thence got name of Pesce, or the fish. Some of the Sicilian authors affirm, that he caught fish merely by his agility in the water ; and the credulous Kircher asserts, that he could walk across the Straits at the bottom of the sea.Be that as it will, he was so much celebrated for swimming and diving, that one of their kings (Frederick) came on purpose to see him perform ; which royal visit proved fatal to poor Pesce ; for the king, after admiring his wonderful force and agility, had the cruelty to propose his diving near the gulf of Charybdis; and to tempt him the more, threw in a large golden cup, which was to be his prize, should he bring it up. Pesce made two attempts, and astonished the spectators by the time he remained under water : but in the third, it is thought he was caught by the whirpool, as he never appeared more ; and his body is said to have been found some time afterwards near Taurominum, (about thirty miles distant,) it having been observed that what is swallowed up by Charybdis is carried south by the current, and thrown out upon that coast. On the contrary, nothing wrecked here was ever carried through the Straits, or thrown out on the north side of Sicily, unless we believe what Homer says of the ship of Ulysses.
We have been again to take a view of the Straits at this famous whirlpool, and are more and more convinced that it must be infinitely diminished; indeed, in comparison of what it was, almost reduced to nothing. appeared to have no extraordinary motion, there, and ships and boats seemed to pass it with ease. When we compare this its present state, with the formidable description of so many ancient authors, poets, historians, and
philosophers, it appears indeed not improbable that this island has been torn from the continent by some violent convulsion, and that near to this spot huge caverns have been opened, which, drinking in the waters in one course of the current, and throwing them out in the other, may perhaps, in some measure, account for the phenomena of Charybdis-I find it described both by Homer and Virgil, as alternately swallowing up, and throwing out every object that approached it. * Now, is it not probable, that these caverns in process of time have been, in a great measure,
filled up by the immense quantities of rocks, sand, gravel, &c. that were perpetually carried in by the force of the current ?-I own I am not quite satisfied with this solution, but at present I cannot think of a better :the fact, however, is certain, that it must have been a dreadful object even in Virgil's time, else he never would have made Æneas and his fleet perceive its effects at so great a distance, and
* Dextrum Scylla latus, lævum implacata Charybdis Obsidet, atque imo barathri ter gurgite vastos Sorbet in abruptum fluctus, rursusque sub auras Erigit alternos, et sidera verberat unda.
immediately run out to sea to avoid it; nor would he have made Helenus at such pains to caution him against that dangerous gulf, and advise him rather to make the whole tour of Sicily than attempt to pass it. Indeed, it is so often mentioned both in the voyage of Æneas and Ulysses, and always in such frightful terms, that we cannot doubt of its having been a very terrible object. *
After seeing the beautiful harbour of Mesa sina, we have found nothing much worthy of notice in the city. Some of the churches are handsome, and there are a few tolerable paintings. One ceremony, from the account they
*Seneca gives this account of it in a letter to Lucillus: “Scyllam saxum esse, et quidem terribile navigantibus optime scio; Charyb. dis an respondeat fabulis perscribi mihi desidero, fac nos certiores, utrum uno tantum vento agatur in vortices, an omnis tempestas, ac mare illud contorqueat, et an verum sit quidquid illo freti turbine abreptum est,” &c.
And the following is a translation from Strabo.
“ Ante urbem Paululum in trajectu Charybdis ostenditur: pro. fundum quidem immensum: quo inundationes freti: mirum in modum navigia detrahunt: magnas per circumductiones, et vortices precipitata, quibus absorptis, ac dissolutis; naufragiorum fragmenta ad Tauromitanum littus attrahuntur," &c.
“Est igitur Charybdis (says Sallust) mare periculosum nautis; quod contrariis fluctuum cursibus, collisionem facit, et rapta, quoque absorbet.”
But these are moderate indeed when compared to the descriptions of the poets.