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Naples, 9th Sept. 1824.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
SINCE my last, I have finished visiting the palaces, museums, and other public establishments, in or near the town.
Villas are possessed by the King wherever the country is favourable for hunting, or remarkable for its beauty; and printed permissions are given, by his maggiordomo, to all who desire to see them. Of these the palace of Capodimonte is remarkable for the advantage of its situation, rising on a hill that overlooks the Vomero and the Bay. This palace, though ancient, is unfinished : the King inhabits it more than the others, on account of its vicinity to Naples. Yet, before the invasion of the French, bullocks were obliged to be harnessed to the royal carriage-so steep and rugged was the ascent to it. Thanks to Murat, it is now approached by an even, easy road, which Ferdinand condescends to make use of.
I say condescends, because he has never been prevailed upon to forget, in like manner, the French origin of the new road over Posilipo, and has therefore never visited it. How petty and despicable is such pide !
On going over the palace of Portici, the person who conducted me proclaimed, on entering each room, to what particular use it had been put by Murat and his Queen-apparently not conceiving that any one could be interested in its actual proprietor. But the face of the custode became black as coal, when a lady, seeing on the chimney-piece of Ferdinand's writing cabinet, ivory monkies poring over ivory books and maps, asked for what possible reason they were put in the King's study in preference to any other room?
The portraits of Napoleon, Murat, and all the Imperial Family, are put out of the way in a room below.
Here no private palaces draw the attention of travellers, as at Florence and Rome; yet a few villas are pointed out as deserving of notice, more from the views they command, than from the merits of the buildings, or the galleries and paintings they contain. Amongst these, the Villa Floridiana, belonging to the wife of the King, takes the first place. As it is situated on the Vomero, above the Chiaja, it enjoys a superb view of the Bay. The gardens are beautifully laid out, and contain a tolerable ménagerie of wild beasts.
A few days later I visited the Villa Belvedere, the grounds of which join those of the Floridiana. The gardener shewed a small collection of bad antiques : on my asking him a question concerning one of the statues, he replied, “ that “ he was not a cicerone, and therefore knew
nothing about it.” I was unable to see the gardens: a superb lion, of the Villa Floridiana, had broken loose the night before, and, as it had not yet been taken, there was danger of meeting it. I heard several guns fired; and it was afterwards killed, having received forty-seven shots. Although it had been free for a whole day, it had done no mischief. A party of French, whom
I met at the Villa, “scapparono presto," as the gardener said, “ tutti tremanti che pareano morti per paura d'ou leone."
I then followed a narrow lane on the ridge of Posilipo, and returned by the Strada Nova. It was not, however, without having encountered some difficulty and danger from the anger of a Neapolitan peasant, who, having thrust his mule, loaded with wood, between my carriage and a wall that bordered the road, and seeing the animal wedged fast in, shewed a greater degree of rage than I should suppose attainable to an inhabitant of a more Northern country, and who had not “le Vesuve dans la tête,” according to Napoleon's complaint on dismissing a Neapolitan General.
The Studii is the only public museum in Naples. This is an extensive new building, which contains statues, paintings, library, and antiquities of all sorts. It is, however, at a great distance from the center of the town; nor is its. being always closed at two o'clock less inconvenient. The ground floor is occupied by statues, a few of which are fine, particularly the Aristides and the Flora. There is here a statue of the Farnesian Hercules ; whether it is the original or
a copy, I have not been able to discover: that at Caserta is scarcely visible, being placed in a niche where no light can fall directly upon it. Yet both it and that at the Studii are said, by their respective custodi, to be the original sculpture. I must own that I was not over anxious to sift the question; for, be the merit of a colossal statue what it may, that merit is destroyed, in my eyes, by the fact of its being a colossus. To increase the mass of body, without being able to enlarge the mind in proportion, seems an imprisoning of the latter still more, and a rendering it doubly captive; while an expressive statue below the natural size has not this disadvantage; for the mind then bears a greater proportion to the body-which must always be considered as its prison—and appears, consequently, more independent of, and unencumbered by it. But that which is designed to represent man, should certainly be of the natural size, otherwise the proportion between the two component parts of man is abandoned.
In another part of the ground floor are some beautiful bronze statues and horses, found at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Amongst these bronzes I observed one that had formerly been