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it is reflected. This, I think, is nonsense; or at least very near it; and till they can say more to the purpose, I think they had much better have left it in the hands of the old gentleman. I suspect it is something in the nature of our Aurora Borealis, and, like many of the great phenomena of Nature, depends upon electrical causes; which, in future ages, I have little doubt, will be found to be as powerful an agent in regulating the universe, as gravity is in this age, or as the subtle fluid was in the last.
The electrical fluid, in this country of volcanoes, is probably produced in a much greater quantity than in any other. The air, strongly impregnated with this matter, and confined be twixt two ridges of mountains; at the same time exceedingly agitated from below hy the violence of the current, and the impetuous whirling of the waters; may it not be supposed to produce a variety of appearances ? And may not the lively Sicilian imaginations, animated by a belief in demons, and all the wild offspring of superstition, give these appearances as great a variety of forms? Remember, I do not say it is so ; and hope yet to have it in my power to give you a better account of this matter. However, if you should suppose me in this story, or in any future one I may tell you, to be inclined to the fabulous, you will please to remember that I am now in the country of fable ; this island having given rise to more perhaps, except Greece, than all the world beside. You have, therefore, only to suppose that these regions are still contagious; and call to mind that Mount Ætna has ever been the great mother of monsters and chimeras both in the ancient and modern world. However, I shall, if possible, keep free of the infection, and entertain you only with such subjects as fall under my own observation. But indeed, from what I have already heard of that wonderful mountain, the most moderate account of it would appear highly fabulous to all such as are unacquainted with objects of this kind. Adieu. We think of setting off to-morrow by day-break. I am sorry it has not been a storm, that we might have had a chance of seeing Pandemonium reared over our heads, and all the devils at work around it.
I shall leave this to be sent by the first post, and shall write you again from Catania, if we escape unhurt from all the perils of Ætna. Adieu.
Giardini, near Taurominum,
part of it.
WE have had a delightful journey, and if all Sicily be but as agreeable, we shall not repent of our expedition. We left Messina early this morning, with six mules for ourselves and servants, and two for our baggage. This train, I ,
, assure you, makes no contemptible appearance; particularly when you call to mind our front and rear guard; by much the most conspicuous
These are two great drawcansir figures, armed cap-à-pée, with a broad hanger, two enormous pistols, and a long arquebuse : this they kept cocked and ready for action in all suspicious places; where they recounted abundance of wonderful stories of robberies and murders; some of them with such very minute circumstances, that I am fully persuaded they themselves were the principal actors. However, I look upon our situation as perfectly secure; they pay us great respect, and take the utmost pains that we shall not be imposed upon. In
deed, I think they impose upon every body except us; for they tax the bills according to their pleasure; and such cheap ones I never paid before. To-day's dinner for eleven men, (our three muleteers included,) and feeding for ten mules and horses, did not amount to halfa-guinea. And although we pay them high, (an ounce a day each,) yet I am persuaded they save us at least one-half of it on our bills. They entertained us with some of their feats, and make no scruple of owning their having put several people to death ; but add, “ Mas tutti, tutti honorabilmente," that is to say, they did not do it in a dastardly manner, nor without just provocation.
The sea-coast of Sicily is very rich; the sides of some of the mountains are highly cultivated, and present the most agreeable aspect that can be imagined :-corn, wine, oil, and silk, all mixed together, and in the greatest abundance. However, the cultivated part is but small in proportion to what is lying waste, and only serves to show the great fertility of this island, were it peopled and in industrious hands. The sides of the road are covered with a variety of flowers, and of flowering shrubs ; some of them exceedingly beautiful. The in
closures are many of them fenced with hedges of the Indian fig, or prickly pear; as in Spain and Portugal; and our guides assure us, that in many of the parched ravines round Ætna, there are plenty of trees which produce both cinnamon and pepper ; not so strong they allow as those of the spice islands, but which are sold to the merchants at a low price, by a set of banditti, who dress themselves like hermits. These spices are mixed with the true pepper and cinnamon from the Indies, and sent over all Europe.
The road from Messina to this place is extremely romantic. It lies the whole way along the coast, and commands the view of Calabria, and the south part of the Straits ; covered with chebecs, galleys, galliots, and a quantity of fishing boats. The view on the right hand is confined by high mountains, on the very summits of which they have built several considerable towns and villages, which, with their churches and steeples, make a very picturesque appearance. They have chosen this elevated si. tuation, I suppose, with a double view ; to protect them both from their enemies, and from the violent heat of the climate. This forenoon we found it excessive, but had the finest swimming