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Though I am not one of those who think we are bound to observe this day (Sunday) with the same strictness that characterised the Jewish Sabbath, still I am of opinion that it is right, as far as it is possible, to abstain from all secular pursuits. It is necessary for the tone of the mind as well as for the strength of the body that a day of rest should intervene, and it is only reasonable that this small portion of our time should be devoted to the performance of our religious duties. It is with regret, therefore, that I am unable to delay my journey, but as my mode of travelling renders me nearly independent, I am not likely to lead others astray.
At daybreak I took an affectionate farewell of my host and his family. They have a custom in Italy particularly disagreeable to us. At parting you are expected to kiss all the males of the family, and as some indemnification for this horrid nuisance, I took care that the ladies should not pass unnoticed; but I can assure you that, even with this set-off, I cannot reconcile myself to the form. I started with a little boy to guide me to Palinurus, which I found to be about four miles distant. The weather had changed; the sun was not, indeed, entirely obscured, but there was a thick haze all around, and a feeling of oppression, which I knew to be the precursor of the scirocco. This wind is found generally to last for three days, reaching on the second its height, and on the third gradually dying away, when the sun again shines forth with undiminished splendour. Those whose constitutions have been long exposed to the climate feel its effects acutely in excessive languor both of mind and body; on me it has not yet any effect, though I perceive sensibly enough the difference between the stifling closeness of this day and the free, unembarrassed circulation of yesterday's atmosphere. We again crossed the river Molpa, and descended by a narrow footpath to the port of Palinurus, where I found a village of fishermen.
Along the coast of the Neapolitan dominions to the southern extremity of Italy, nature has not furnished a single tolerable harbour for even moderately-sized vessels. This port of Palinurus, formed by the projection of the promontory, is the best, but it is unprotected from the north and north-west, and its entrance is only of sufficient depth for small merchantmen. . I found on my arrival that my friend had given orders that one of his boats should be at my command, and an intelligent fisherman offered to accompany me to two grottos, which I knew previously were well worthy of examination. The one is called La Grotta di Stucco, and the other La Grotta di Osse, that is, the grotto of bones. We rowed a few hundred yards under the promontory till we reached a cave, which was partly natural, and partly hollowed out by the inhabitants to procure stucco. It was twenty feet by thirty broad, and the waves, as they dashed ceaselessly against the sides of the cave, produced innume: rable echoes, seeming to run along under the promontory and conveyed
from one to the other to a great distance. The fisherman told me that there were a variety of branches to the cave, running upwards of a mile inwards, and this no doubt caused the countless sounds which met my ears; but as there was no remarkable object to be seen, I did not make any further examination. It was not unpleasant again to breathe the open air. We then rowed round the weather-beaten headland of Palinurus, and as the breeze now began to blow fresh from the south, the waves were dashed with some violence against the whitened rocks, which rose for several hundred feet perpendicular from the sea, and on their summit was a small fortress, which had been erected by the French, now nearly in ruins. . The fisherman pointed to a spot where there was somewhat more of a declivity, and which it would be rather easier to scale, and stated that a party of English sailors had, during the French war, mounted at that spot and surprised the fort. This successful enterprise had evidently impressed them with a high idea of English valour. One of the fishermen had served on board the English fleet at the time that we occupied Sicily, and seemed to have been much struck with the regularity with which they received their rations and pay. This was a subject on which he became quite eloquent, and he seemed to regret that he was not now in British service. As we cleared the promontory, I found Palinurus to present three distinct headlands, called by the inhabitants Punto di Quaglia, where quails are caught in great numbers, Frontone, which is the principal point, and Punto di Molpa, from the river close to it. It was the scene of several shipwrecks mentioned in ancient writers, and was particularly fatal to a fleet of Augustus, who himself narrowly escaped a watery grave at this spot. The bones of his sailors were, according to a tradition of the inhabitants, collected and placed in a grotto, which I was on my way to visit, called from that circumstance La Grotta di Osse. It is asserted that these bones became petrified, and have been preserved for nearly two thousand years. I had great doubts of the possibility of any such process being able to be carried on in a cave open to the external air, as the bones must have been completely decomposed before any process of nature could change them into stone. There is no doubt that this singular phenomenon has occasionally occurred in respect to animals, as you see in any museum of natural curiosities examples of this kind, but it must have been produced under different circumstances from those in which the bones of these mariners were placed. I was not, therefore, disappointed when I found it a cave containing a fine collection of stalactites, which you know assume at times strange appearances. Some of the stalactites were no doubt like the bones of men; but the grotto of Adelsberg, in Styria, contains many still more wonderful, the stalactites assuming in one instance the appearance of drapery of most delicate texture. It hangs so elegantly and gracefully that no art of man could equal it. I mention this drapery because there can be no doubt that it is entirely the work of nature, though you are shown at the same time the head of a man with features well formed, and this is also said to be the unaided production of nature. Of this, however, we may have some doubts, as a few touches may have been furtively added to make it look what it now appears. I left this grotto of Palinurus satisfied that it had no pretensions to be considered the extraordinary natural curiosity which native writers would have the world to imagine. In the course of conversation with the fishermen, I was not a little surprised to hear that the “jactus retis,” the throw of the net, is not unknown among them; they buy what the Neapolitans call “vuolo,” which is nothing else than a corruption of the Greek word BóNos, and take their chance of the quantity of fish the throw may produce. This custom is alluded to in the following passage in Suetonius (Clar. Rhet. c. 1): “Aestivo tempore adolescentes urbani cum Ostiam venissent, littus ingressi, piscatores trahentes rete adierunt et pepigerunt bolum quanti emerent: nummos solverunt: diu expectaverunt, dum retia extraherentur. Aliquando extractis, piscis nullus infuit, sed sporta auri obsuta. Tunc emptores bolum suum ajunt, piscatores suum.” “In the summer season, when some city youths came on a visit to Ostia, proceeding to the shore, they found some fishermen preparing to draw their net, and made a bargain for the throw; they paid their money, and waited a long time till the nets were drawn on shore. At last they were landed, when no fish was found, but a basket full of gold. The buyers maintained that it belonged to them, and the fishermen claimed it as theirs.” I left the boat at the mouth of the river Molpa, a lonely spot with nothing but a ruined watch-tower, and engaged one of the fishermen to attend me till I thought proper to dismiss him. There were said to be some ruins on the hill immediately above, and as some geographers have asserted that there was an ancient town called Melphes, of the same name as the river, I thought it not improbable that this might be the site. I contrived to scramble up at some risk, and found on the top a considerable piece of level ground, which was partially cultivated. The ruins, however, were of the Middle Ages, and could not be confounded with any Greek or Roman structure. It could never have been of great size; but tradition hands it down that the Saracens landed here in 1464, and, plundering the village, carried off the greater number of its inhabitants as slaves to Africa. Why it should have been selected by Maximianus, the colleague of Diocletian, as the place of his retreat when these two emperors, A.D. 305, abdicated, is not told us; but here he was residing in A.D. 306, when he was induced by his son Maxentius to quit his retreat in Lucania, and again resume the purple. It is, indeed, prettily situated on a hill looking down to the north on the river Molpa, and having the river Mingardo to the south, with the sea at its foot stretching far as the eye can reach. It is a quiet spot, and if the ex-emperor wanted entire seclusion he could not have made a better choice. From this eminence I descended to a small plain which led to the river Mingardo, and was not a little surprised to hear approaching the sounds of the spirit-stirring bagpipes. For an instant I thought myself in some remote glen of my native country, and expected to see aliighlander in full costume appear; but a very different sight met my eye. It was a shepherd clad in the rudest habiliments, made out of the untanned skins of the animals which he tended. The soles of his feet were protected by a piece of leather, which were fastened by cords of goat's hair. The longest of the pipes was upwards of four feet, and the bag was proportionally large, but the sounds grated harshly on the ear. The music of this instrument is heard to greatest advantage at a distance, and I fear that I am unpatriotic enough to give
the preference to the Irish over the Scotch pipe; at least, I have never heard any sound from the latter able to compete with those produced by the celebrated Gansey, so well known to all those who have visited the south of Ireland. This instrument is very common in the mountainous parts of Italy, and the peasantry at a certain period of the year crowd into Naples, where you see them serenading the images of their Madonna at the corner of every street with the hopes of collecting a few pence from the more religious part of the community. The airs which he played were wild, and, as he receded in the distance, had a pleasing effect. These pipes are made by the shepherds themselves, and, when they visit the towns, I have found that two of them generally travel together and play in concert. The bagpiper (utricularius) was well known to the Romans; and Nero, among his other follies, vowed that he would exhibit thus on the stage, if the gods continued favourable. (Suet. Nero, 54.)
After crossing the Mingardo, a small muddy stream, I dismissed my guide, and proceeded on my solitary way towards Camerota, a village which I understood to be about six miles distant. I had soon cause to regret this proceeding, as I got entangled on the face of a hill covered by a kind of stunted oak, and was fairly bewildered. To add to my difficulties, I reached a spot where several footpaths diverged, for there was not the slightest appearance of a road, and I had no idea what direction I ought to take. It was needless to halt in hopes of meeting any one, as the place was evidently little frequented. I determined to keep towards the shore, as I might, perhaps, be able to get clear of the brushwood, which confined my view to a few yards around. I turned my steps, therefore, in that direction, and reached the summit of a hill, where I fell in with two shepherd-boys reclining under a green arbour, which they had formed with the branches of trees. May we not imagine that this is what Virgil alludes to?
Wiridi projectus in antro.
I got myself set right, and entered into conversation, inquiring whether they attended mass, which they assured me they did, mentioning a small chapel in the vicinity, and the name of the padre. Not much could be expected of them; their knowledge of religion was confined to some slight acquaintance with the Ten Commandments and a prayer to the Virgin Mary. I was glad to know that some attempts had been made to instil the principles of religion into their minds.
I had no longer any difficulty in making my way to Camerota, which I found prettily situated on the face of a hill. The first building I reached was a monastery, and, recollecting the kindness of .# friends at Centola, I determined again to make trial of monkish hospitality., . How different, however, was my reception to-day ! Some time elapsed before my knock was attended to, and when I made my request to be allowed to rest a short time under their roof, I saw it was received with great reluctance by the door-keeper. I was inclined to walk off, had I not been prevented by my desire of seeing how the matter would end. The young monk reported my arrival to his superiors, and, ere long, several monks made their appearance with very flushed faces, attended by a young man well dressed, and evidently possessed of some authority. This gentleman
demanded, in a loud and authoritative tone, who I was, and what I wanted ; to which I naturally answered, “That I had not the honour to be acquainted with the individual who addressed me, and that I was not inclined to satisfy any stranger who addressed me in the uncivil tone which he had assumed.” The monks, I saw, stood aghast, at what, no doubt, appeared to them my foolhardiness. I was much more inclined to laugh than to be angry at the adventure; my opponent was unprepared for my answer, and expected that I would be overwhelmed by the information he now conveyed to me. He exclaimed, in a highly indignant tone, “Iosono il Judice Reale del Distretto "-" I am the Royal Judge of the District,” muttering at the same time “Corpo di Bacco”— an oath which the Italians are much in the habit of using when they are in a passion. It has been handed down to them from their pagan ancestors, and means, “by the body of Bacchus.” It is less offensive to my ears than Corpo di Cristo, which you constantly hear used in a very blasphemous way. I was quite prepared to hear this announcement, as I thought it not unlikely that he would turn out to be some petty magistrate. I told him that, if he had introduced himself to me at first under this title, I should have at once acknowledged his right to question me, though I should have expected it to be done with somewhat more of courtesy. To cut short any further altercation, I begged that he would examine my passport, and he would then see that he was called upon by his government to protect and assist me, as far as was in his power. He was obliged to confess that there was nothing irregular in my passport; but I had lowered his dignity before his clerical friends, so that he could not recover his temper; and as his discourteous tone continued, I refused to have any further communication with him. To try how far the hospitality of the monks would stretch, I requested a glass of water, when the superior pointed to a pump in the court-yard, and told me I could find it there. I smiled, though a little nettled at this additional rudemess, and left the monastery, saying that I perceived that the Judge of Camerota was equally distinguished for his courtesy as the monks for their hospitality. I was amused at this adventure, and laughed heartily, as soon as I got beyond the walls of the monastery. I have little doubt that I interrupted a merry repast, and probably the judge was anxious to show off his authority before his friends, particularly as my appearance predicted an easy conquest. He is a very unworthy successor of Count Florio, a native of this place, Royal Justiciar of William the Good, King of Sicily, who was sent to England in 1176 on an embassy to Henry II., ; request his third daughter, Joan, in marriage. This marriage took ace, p I expected to hear more of this adventure, and you will find that I was not mistaken. The village was at no great distance from the monastery, and on my way I joined a peasant, to whom I told how I had been treated by the judge, of whose name he feigned ignorance. The Locanda was kept by the collector of the land-tax, and, while I was seated there, a person of respectable appearance came in, and entered into conversation with me in reference to my interview with the judge. I inquired if he knew of any ancient remains in the vicinity, and he offered to point out to me the ruins of a Greek church. I found it to be a small chapel, and that little of it remained. His object, however, was to draw