Obrazy na stronie


called the canal of Malta ; and is much dreaded by the Levant ships; but indeed, at this season, there is no danger.

We arrived at Sicily a little before sun-set, and landed opposite to Ragusa, and not far from the ruins of the Little Hybla; the third town of that name in the island, distinguished by the epithets of the Great (near Mount Ætna), the Lesser (near Augusta), and the Little (just by Ragusa). Here we found a fine sandy beach, and while the servants were employed in dressing supper, we amused ourselves with bathing and gathering shells, of which there is a considerable variety. We were in expectation of finding the nautilus, for which this island is famous, but in this we did not succeed. Howerer, we picked up some handsome shells, though not equal to those that are brought froin the Indies.

After supper we again launched our bark, and went to sea. The wind was favourable as we could wish.

We had our nightly serenade as usual, and the next day, by twelve o'clock, we reached the celebrated port of Agrigentum.

The captain of the port gave us a polite reception, and insisted on accompanying us to the city, which stands near the top of a mounlain, four miles distant from the harbour, and about eleven hundred feet above the level of the sea. The road on each side is bordered by a row of exceeding large American aloes; upwards of one third of them being at present in full blow, and making the most beautiful appearance that can be imagined. The flowerstems of this noble plant are, in general, betwixt twenty and thirty feet high, (some of them more,) and are covered with flowers from top to bottom, which taper regularly, and form a beautiful kind of pyramid, the base or pedestal of which is the fine spreading leaves of the plant. As this is esteemed, in northern countries, one of the greatest curiosities of the vegetable tribe, we were happy at seeing it in so great perfection ; much greater, I think, than I had ever seen it before.

With us, I think, it is vulgarly reckoned (though I believe falsely) that they only flower once in a hundred years. Here I was informed, that, at the latest, they always blow the sixth year ; but for the most part the fifth.

As the whole substance of the plant is carried into the stem and the flowers, the leaves begin to decay, as soon as the blow is completed, and a numerous offspring of young plants are produced round the root of the old one: these are slipped off, and formed into new plantations, either for hedges or for avenues to their country houses.

The city of Agrigentum, now called Girgenti, is irregular and ugly ; though from a few miles distance at sea, it makes a noble appearance, little inferior to that of Genoa. As it lies on the slope of the mountain, the houses do not hide one another ; but every part of the city is



On our arrival we found a great falling off indeed; the houses are mean, the streets dirty,

1; crooked and narrow. It still contains near twenty thousand people; a sad reduction from its ancient grandeur, when it was said to con• sist of no less than eight. hundred thousand, being the next city to Syracuse for numbers.

The Canonico Spoto, from Mr. Hamilton's letter, and from our former acquaintance with him at Naples, gave us a kind and hospitable reception. He insisted on our being his guests; and we are now in his house, comfortably lodged and elegantly entertained, which, after our crowded little apartment in the sparonaro, is by no means a disagreeable change.-Farewell. I shall write you again soon.

Ever yours.


Agrigentum, June 12.

WE are just now returned from examining the antiquities of Agrigentum, the most cona. siderable, perhaps, of any in Sicily.

The ruins of the ancient city lie about a short mile from the modern one. These, like the ruins of Syracuse, are mostly converted into corn fields, vineyards, and orchards; but the remains of the temples here are much more conspicuous than those of Syracuse. Four of these have stood pretty much in a right line, near the south wall of the city. The first they call the temple of Venus ; almost one half of which still remains. The second is that of Concord : it may be considered as entire, not one column having as yet fallen. It is precisely of the same dimensions and same architecture as that of Venus, which had probably served as the model for it. By the following inscription, found on a large piece of marble, it appears to have been built at the expense of the Lilibi. tani; probably after having been defeated by the people of Agrigentum.




Q. P. R. P. R.

These temples are supported by thirteen large fluted Doric columns on each side ; and six at each end. All their bases, capitals, entablatures, &c. still remain entire ; and as the architecture is perfectly simple, without any thing affected or studied, the whole strikes the eye at once, and pleases very much. The columns are, indeed, shorter than the common Doric proportions; and they certainly are not so elegant as some of the ancient temples near Rome, and in other places in Italy.

The third temple is that of Hercules, altogether in ruins ; but appears to have been of much greater size than the former two. We measured some of the broken columns, near seven feet in diameter. It was here that the famous statue of Hercules stood, so much celebrated by Cicero ; which the people of Agrigentum defended with such bravery against Verres, who attempted to seize it. You will


« PoprzedniaDalej »