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that I really expected to see most of them une der the table. They called it Pontio, and spoke loudly in its praise; declaring that Pontio (alluding to Pontius Pilate) was a much better fellow than they had ever taken him for. However, after dinner, one of them, a reverend canon, grew excessively sick, and while he was throwing up, he turned to me with a rueful countenance, and shaking his head, he groaned out, " Ah, Signor Capitano, sapeva sempre che
, Pontio era un grande traditore.”—“ I always knew that Pontius was a great traitor.” Another of them overhearing him, exclaimed Aspettatevi Signor Canonico." _“ Not so
. fast (said he) my good Canon." "Niente al pregiudizio di Signor Pontio, vi prego.-Recordate, che Pontio v'ha fatto un canonico ;et Pontio ha fatto sua eccellenza uno VescovoNon scordatevi mai di vostri amici.”
Now what do you think of these reverend fathers of the church ; their merit, you will
l easily perceive, does not consist in fasting and prayer.—Their creed, they say, they have a good deal modernized, and is much simpler than that of Athanasius. One of them told me, that if we would but stay with them for some little time, we should soon be convinced that
they were the happiest fellows on earth. “We have exploded (said he) from our system every thing that is dismal or melancholy; and are persuaded, that of all the roads in the universe, the road to heaven must be the pleasantest and least gloomy: if it be not so, (added he,) God have mercy upon us, for I am afraid we shall never get there.” I told him I could not flatter him; “That if laughing was really a sin, as some people taught, they were certainly the greatest of all sinners.”
“ Well (said he) we shall at least endeavour to be happy here ; and that, I am persuaded, is the best of all preparations for happiness hereafter. Abstinence (continued he) from all innocent and lawful pleasures, we reckon one of the greatest sins, and guard against it with the utmost care: and I am pretty sure it is a sin that none of us here will ever be damned for.”He concluded by repeating two lines, which he told me was their favourite maxim ; the meaning of which was exactly those of Mr. Pope,
“For God is paid when man receives,
To enjoy is to obey."
This is not the first time I have met with this libertine spirit amongst the Roman Catholic
clergy. There is so much nonsense and mummery in their worship, that they are afraid lest strangers should believe they are serious ; and perhaps too often fly to the opposite extreme.
· We were, however, much pleased with the bishop ; he is greatly and deservedly respected, yet his presence did no wise diminish, but rather increased the jollity of the company. He entered into every joke, joined in the repartee, at which he is a great proficient, and entirely laid aside his episcopal dignity ; which, however, I am told, he knows very well how to assume when it is necessary. He placed us next to himself, and behaved indeed, in every respect, with the greatest ease and politeness. He is one of the first families of the island, and brother to the prince of I had his whole pedigree pat, but now I have lost it, no matter : he is an honest, pleasant little fellow, and that is of much more consequence. He is not yet forty ; and so high a promotion, in so early a period of life, is reckoned very extraordinary, this being the richest bishopric in the kingdom. He is a good scholar, and very deeply read, both in ancient and modern learning; and his genius is in no degree inferior to
his erudition. The similarity of character and circumstances struck me so strongly, that I could scarce help thinking I had got beside our worthy and respectable friend, the Bp of Day, which, I assure you, still added greatly to the pleasure I had in his company. I told the bishop of this; adding, that he was brother to L-d B. -l: he seemed much pleased, and said, he had often heard of the family, both when Lord B-was ambassador in Spain, and his other brother commander in the Mediterranean.
We found in this company a number of Free Masons, who were delighted beyond measure when they discovered that we were their brethren. They pressed us to spend a few more days amongst them, and offered us letters to Palermo, and every other town we should think of visiting ; but the heats are increasing so violently, that we were afraid of prolonging our expedition, lest we should be caught by the sirocco winds, supposed to blow from the burning deserts of Africa, and sometimes attended with dangerous consequences
those that travel over Sicily.
But I find I have omitted several circumstances of our dinner. I should have told you,
that it was an annual feast given by the nobility of Agrigentum to the bishop. It was served in an immense granary, half full of wheat, on the seashore, chosen on purpose to avoid the heat. The whole was on plate; and what appeared singular to us, but I believe is a much better method than ours, great part of the fruit was served
with the second course, the first dish of which that went round was strawberries. The Sicilians were a good deal surprised to see us eat them with cream and sugar, yet upon trial they did not at all dislike the composition.
The desert consisted of a great variety of fruits, and still a greater of ices : these were so disguised in the shape of peaches, figs, oranges, nuts, &c., that a person unaccustomed to ices might very easily have been taken in, as an honest sea-officer was lately at the house of a certain minister of your acquaintance, not less distinguished for the elegance of his table, than the exact formality and subordination to be observed at it. After the second course was removed, and the ices, in the shape of various fruits and sweetmeats, advanced by way of rear-guard ; one of the servants carried the figure of a fine large peach to the captain, who, unacquainted with deceit of any kind, never