« ForrigeFortsett »
South of France, better conducted and handsomer processions than I have witnessed any where in Italy. A very short description of this of yesterday will give you an adequate idea of it. When the objects most holy in religion are to be paraded through the streets, the accompaniments ought to inspire veneration, instead of scandalizing by an appearance of disrespect. On this occasion the procession opened with several communities of monks and priests, straggling at irregular distances from each other: every person who had a taper was attended by another, generally a ragged boy, who walked by his side, and caught the droppings of his bougie in a dirty piece of paper, or in his still dirtier hand; this, of course, gave a stingy appearance to the whole. Preceded by one drummer and two fifers, and by a few persons in embroidered coats, a plain and little-ornamented canopy-under which the Host is borne-passed down the street; and was followed by the King, the hereditary PrinceDuke of Calabria, -and a few attendants on foot. Three empty royal carriages, drawn by six horses each, and a party of soldiers, with a bad military band, closed the procession ;-a
ceremony in which, in most other countries, all the splendour of the clergy and court is displayed.
The King's fête—that is, the feast of his patron saint-happened to fall on the same day; the theatre of S. Carlo was, therefore, brilliantly illuminated, and the town was lighted up, as most Italian towns are on such occasionsa few lamps shone dimly from stray houses, and seemed to indicate, by their unwilling, wavering light, the sentiments of those who, from different reasons, gave this slight shew of loyalty.
It was after midnight when I left the theatre to return home; the lamps in the windows of the houses were extinguished, and their smoky glare did not disturb the calm, placid scene around me.
The moon floated in the dark unclouded expanse of blue sky, and almost overpowered, by its brighter reflection, the more indistinct
rays of the stars. It was such a night as can be enjoyed by Southern countries only; and which one would wish to be never interrupted, not even by a Neapolitan morning. Nothing spoke of cold or damp; the glowing circlet of the moon cast a brilliant, cheering light, very different from the pale, wan, and watery reflection it affords to your Northern regions. The fish-stalls of S. Lucia were all illuminated; and, as I crossed before them, each fisherman offered to sell frutta di mare and oysters of the Fusaro Lake. In the shade of the buildings a man was playing on a hand organ; and a bright glare on the surface of the sea guided my eye to a small lamp which burnt in a solitary fishing-boat, whose tenant, concealed by the shadow of the Castel del Ova, was heard singing a buffo song, in which violent bursts of laughter kept time, and fell in with the tune. At a distance, I heard the heavy tramp of an Austrian patrol, composed of about twenty soldiers, headed and followed by two horsemen. Proceeding on, I entered the Villa Reale, which, though it is in summer, lighted up all night, and open to every one, is always nearly deserted. Before our house the water-stall was still expecting customers: these stalls are furnished with water and lemonade in iced barrels; and bottles of all kinds of sirrups surround heaps of excellent oranges, the best of which are sold at the rate of three for a grano. Above, on two wooden pillars, rises a pediment, on which is generally painted some saint, before whom a lamp is continually burned; and the whole is crowned by flags of various sorts, displayed whenever the breeze is sufficient to unfurl them. The stall is illuminated, at night, by many lamps, and has ever a gay appearance. None, however, but the common people refresh themselves at these booths, which are very nu
26th August, 1824.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
The summer months at Naples can furnish little matter for letters; that is, letters such as you demand them. The weather is too hot to permit excursions to a distance from the town. Fearing this heat, the few English who had arrived after the Holy Week fled, at the end of May, to take refuge in the cooler climate of Switzerland : and those whom their situation and circumstances obliged to remain in the country, followed the example of the Neapolitan gentry, and retired to Portici, Castellamare, or Sorrento. I nevertheless prefer the Chiaja, as