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was going to be robbed, alarmed the whole house, and I began to fear that I might have some difficulty in convincing them that I had no dishonest intentions. We were all in darkness, but I bawled very loudly that I was the “Inglese,” and began to swear by Santo Diavolo, Bacco, and all the saints of the calendar, that he had the intention of suffocating me, by placing me in his upper chamber. When he understood my complaint, he laughed heartily, and said that I had been above the “forno,” “the oven;” and, on inquiring more minutely, I found that he was the baker for all the people in the neighbourhood, and that I had been sleeping above his oven. There is no end of adventures in this strange country; one night to be on the point of being buried by an earthquake, and next to be baked in an oven. I could not help joining in the laugh, though it was annoying to be prevented from getting that rest which the labours and fatigues of the next day rendered so necessary. I could have wished to start immediately, but it still wanted several hours of daylight. I proceeded into the court-yard, where I found the muleteers sleeping soundly beside their mules, and I sat down to wait patiently for the hour of our departure. The house gradually became still, and I was left to my own thoughts, which wandered to a far-distant land. The night was beautiful, and the coolness of the air soon dissipated all the unpleasant feelings which the closeness of the chamber had produced. There was no moon, but the stars, “le ninfe eterne”—“her everattendant nymphs”—as Dante (Paradiso, xxiii. 26) calls them—were shining with great splendour. It is curious the same idea is found thus beautifully expressed by Euripides (Supplices, 993):
—“where her swiftly-moving nymphs ride through the dark night.” I confess that I could have wished them to move on a little more quickly, as I began to long earnestly for dawn of day, and at last roused the muleteers. After much hesitation they agreed to start, though they assured me that they were by no means sure of the direction in the dark, and that they might possibly lose their way. True enough, after we had proceeded awhile, they declared that they were out of their reckoning, and I then began to be convinced of the truth of their assertion. As yet not the slightest appearance of dawn was seen in the east, and, as far as the darkness would allow the eye to penetrate, we seemed to be crossing a level plain. There was nothing for it but to halt, and when I had time to think on my position, it seemed rather hazardous to trust myself to men of whom I knew nothing, and who could so easily make away with me without much chance of discovery. The morning air was sufficiently fresh to make me feel it unpleasant, and I continued to pace up and down at a short distance from my companions, anxiously watching for the dawn. At last it appeared, and between the first streak of light and the full glare of day in this part of the world only a very short time elapses. We found ourselves at no great distance from a few huts, out of which issued some herdsmen, from whom we received directions, which enabled the muleteers to find their way. We crossed the river Basiento, the ancient Casuentus, MI 2
a small and muddy stream, and on approaching Torre à Mare I knew that I was in the neighbourhood of Metapontum, now marked by a single house, called Masseria di Torre à Mare. Here I found a peasant, who engaged to conduct me to the ancient remains of that celebrated city. This Torre à Mare is about one mile and a half from the sea, and is so called from an old building of a castellated form of the middle ages; but the ruins of Metapontum are found at a spot called Chiesa di Sansone, near the mouth of the river Bradano, the ancient Bradanus. Here are considerable remains of the foundations of buildings. I could, however, trace no appearance of walls, nor indeed any edifice so entire that its use could be ascertained. I then proceeded about two miles up the bank of the Bradanus, till I reached the largest remains of any ancient monument that I had seen since I left the Temples of Paestum. It is a temple situated on a rising ground near the right bank of the Bradanus, and known as the Tavola dei Paladini. There are fifteen columns still remaining, five on one side and ten on the other. It is of the Doric order of architecture, though it has not the imposing massiveness of the pillars adorning the Temples of Paestum. My guide told me that coins were occasionally found. Metapontum is an interesting spot as the scene of the last days of the philosopher Pythagoras, whose house was consecrated as a temple of Ceres, and whose tomb was still to be seen in the days of Cicero. There is some appearance of the remains of a temple at the Chiesa di Sansone, and one would be willing to believe that this might be the exact spot where the philosopher had spent the closing scenes of his life. This city was in a flourishing state B.c. 415, at the time of the Athenian expedition to Sicily, and continued to occupy a prominent position till the disasters brought on the south of Italy by the second Punic war. It espoused the cause of Hannibal, and after his withdrawal from Italy, B.C. 203, suffered so severely from the Romans, that the name of Metapontum never again appears in any important transaction. It had been for several hundred years one of the most opulent of the cities of Magna Graecia ; its territory was distinguished for fertility, especially in the growth of corn, and now it only serves as pasture ground for a few half-fed cattle and wild horses. The few inhabitants whom I saw had the pale emaciated look of malaria fever, to which the whole of this coast is subject, though the nature of the ground has in no way changed, and I do not doubt that it might again be made fit for the residence of a large population, if the streams were confined within their banks, and the land was brought under regular cultivation. Cicero (De Amic. 4) speaks of the decayed state of all the cities in this part of Italy, and Pausanias (vi. 19), who lived about A.D. 180, mentions Metapontum as being in his time completely in ruins, and says that nothing remained of it but the theatre and the circuit of its walls. It is curious that he does not refer to the temple, which still exists, as it must have been a remarkable object even in his time. I spent a few hours in wandering over the deserted country round Metapontum, but as I began to fear that my muleteers would proceed on their journey without me, Ibade adieu to the Metapontines, and hastened back to join them. I had no time to think of food, but satisfied my hunger with the coarse bread of the muleteers as I jogged along. After crossing the river Bradano, which at this season of the year is small, though in the winter season it brings a great deal of water from the mountains in the interior, we reached the Torre di Mattoni, situated on the shore, and our course now lay along the sandy beach for about five-and-twenty miles. The view was confined to the beautiful bay of Taranto on the one side, smooth as glass, and a lofty bank of sand on the other. Though there is no tide to any extent in this quarter, you must not suppose that the sea does not at times run more or less inland, according to the flatness of the beach. The beach was here at least fifty yards broad, before the sandy hill rose, which was evidently formed by the wind driving the dry sand. Ebb and flow I found not to be alike in all months, being lowest in August (one foot seven inches), highest in December (two feet two inches). Here it is the storms from the south that drive the waters of the bay inland, and I do not doubt that on such occasions the beach, which we were traversing, would be quite impassable. The sand-bank was tufted with juniper-bushes, and dwarf cypress, while here and there you get glimpses of pines, which prevented the eye from reaching any distance inland. The beach was covered with many specimens of very beautiful shells. The heat became excessive, as the sun beat directly upon us, till we seemed to be passing through the oven over which I had been baking this morning. I am pretty well accustomed to the heat of this climate; to-day, however, was a fearful trial, and I was now convinced that my friends were right in warning me of what I had undertaken. I felt, in the expressive words of Job (xxxvii. 18), as translated by Umbreit, that “the pure ether was spread before me during the scorching heat as a melted mirror over the parched desert.” My umbrella was scarcely any protection, and my clothes would scarcely fit an Irish beggar. Perched on the back of my mule, which had an uneasy movement, holding my umbrella over my head as I best could, I looked forward anxiously for the first Pisgah view of Taranto. Our wine, too, was soon at an end, but our sufferings on this head arose from my own want of foresight, as I could easily have brought a sufficiency from Scanzana. No water was to be found, and the pangs of thirst I never experienced so strongly before. Time, however, brings everything to an end, and at last the lofty castle of Taranto appeared in the distance. Before we entered the city we had to cross the Tara, a very considerable stream, though it seems on the map to run only a short distance inland. Here we were all glad to bathe our throbbing temples; as the water was brackish, our thirst could not be slaked. The muleteers had some hesitation about crossing this stream, as they had heard of people being carried down to the sea. After consultation, one, who could swim, agreed to make the attempt, and entered the stream with his mule, while his companions and myself looked anxiously on. We expected every moment to see the mule floundering in the water; yet he got safely across, and, following his example, we reached the other side, though not without being thoroughly drenched. Whatever might be the consequence of this sudden immersion, it was delightful for the moment, and seemed to give fresh strength. I thought of Alexander the Great bathing in the river Cydnus, and the danger he incurred. In this case, however, it was only a momentary immersion, and the system did not get completely chilled. In this dripping state I rode into the public square of Taranto, which was crowded with inhabitants, and my appearance evidently caused great amazement, as it was impossible for them to imagine how I should have got into such a state. I must have had much the appearance of a drowned rat, and I was soon the centre of a large crowd, who were all saying, “Cosa & 2" “Chi è?” —“What is the matter o’” “Who is he P’’ The muleteers called out that I was “un Inglese,” and that immediately seemed to satisfy them, as in every part of the Continent they are prepared to hear of any madcap exploit by an Englishman. I had been now quite twelve hours jogging on the back of a mule, and I need not tell you how thoroughly knocked up I felt. I proceeded straight to a man who was selling iced water, and, mingling a glass of it with rosolio, drank it off, setting at defiance all consequences. It is astonishing that my health should not have broken down under the fatigue and heat I have undergone ; I have lived, however, very temperately, avoiding much wine, and, above all, I have performed daily morning and evening ablutions with my sponge. This I believe to have been the chief reason why I have escaped, as the pores are always open, and allow a free flow of perspiration. As Taranto is a large city, I had no difficulty in finding a tolerable hotel, and here I determined to remain, rather than trouble a gentleman to whom I had a letter of introduction. In the evening I forwarded my letter to the Cavaliere d’Ayala, who sent me a kind invitation to take up my abode with him. This I declined to do, but I found him so pressing that I yielded. The advantage of being at a private house is, that you have a comfortable bed; and, indeed, I doubt if I could have accomplished all that I have done if I had been obliged to sleep at a miserable locanda each night. The only disadvantage is, that you are apt to be killed by kindness, and are sometimes obliged to sit conversing when you would wish to be sleeping. Here, then, ends my examination of the more southern part of Italy, and I cannot say that I am sorry to have done with Magna Graecia, though I shall always look back with pleasure to the few weeks I have spent in it. It is painful, however, to recollect that the country, which is now nearly a desert, was once the residence of a highly civilised people, where the arts and sciences were cultivated with eminent success, and where philosophy had widely spread her humanising influences. All this has passed away, and Nature has again resumed her ancient sway. Nothing now remains of their palaces and magnificent temples except a few ruined walls, which only serve to assist the geographer in fixing the spot where the ancient city stood. The country has again returned to that state of nature from which the Greek colonies once enabled it to emerge. From Locri to Tarentum, the country which I have just traversed, the whole coast was once studded with mighty cities, whose commerce extended to every part of the known world; now we traverse a shore where a traveller finds it difficult to obtain even shelter at night, from the deadly exhalations that its barren and deserted fields send forth. The mind is at first unwilling to believe the possibility of such a change, but of its stern reality the last week has confirmed me. The first view of the city which I had just entered was highly picturesque; it is situated on a jutting promontory, looking on one side to a magnificent bay, and having on the other a small lake called Mare Piccolo. The smiling banks of this lake appeared in the distance thickly covered with the fig, the olive, and the vine, and it was impossible not to join with Horace (Od. xi. 6, 13) in his exclamation:
The entrance to the city is by a bridge, which extends across a small strait, uniting the Mare Piccolo and the Mare Grande.
NEXT morning, the 30th of May, I was early a-foot to examine the
city of Taranto. The cathedral first attracted my attention—sacred to St. Cataldo, a native of Ireland, who resided, according to the tradition of the Tarentines, in their city A.D. 166, in the reign of the Emperor Aurelius. . It is a large and magnificent building, adorned in a grotesque manner by a number of columns of all dimensions, exhibiting almost every variety of marble known to the ancients; but the chapel of the saint is still more rich in its ornaments, and is furnished with a silver statue, to which, as usual, they ascribe many miracles, The marble pillars which adorn the cathedral are said to have been brought from the temples of Heracleia and Metapontum. In many of these cathedrals it is curious to see what Chillingworth calls “those crouching antics, which seem in great buildings to labour under the weight they bear.” They are also alluded to by Dante (Purgatorio, x. 129), in much the same way:
Come per sostentar solajo o tetto
Per mensola talvolta una figura
Si vede guinger le ginocchia al petto,
Laqual fa del nonver vera rancura
Nascer a chi la vede.
As, to support incumbent floor or roof,