« ForrigeFortsett »
ployed, by his order, for the extension of know.. ledge. The fewness of their number is also a source of consolation; for I have been assured, that whatever is discovered by the fourteen is infallibly broken or lost before the end of the month. Every general rule has, however, its exceptions. To do honour to ambassadors, or other great personages, parties are often made to go and fouiller-dig-at Pompeii: whatever is found is given to those for whom the party is formed, and who, it is to be hoped, preserve the relics with greater care than does the Neapolitan Government. But be that as it may, it is generally believed, that, whenever parties are made with these generous intentions, lest the search should prove fruitless, lamps, vases, rings, &c. are buried before hand by the fourteen, to whom notice is given of the comedy they are to act. I am the more inclined to believe this supposition, from my having witnessed, whilst at Pompeii, the useless efforts of three of those employed by Government: I was no ambassador, and the workmen were not forewarned of
I had now spent five hours in going over the town, its preservation is very inferior to what
I had been taught to anticipate. Not one of the houses has retained its roof; the tiles placed on the tops of the walls, to protect them from the rain, give the whole something of a mixed appearance of modern masonry. I sat down in the shade of a magnificent weeping-willow, that spreads over the garden of the porter of the eastern gate, and waited till the hour I had appointed for my carriage to be ready. The coachman had employed the day in getting drunk ! he had, however, found a substitute; and going out at the gate opposite to that at which I had entered, I passed along the foot of the hill formed by the still buried portion* of the town. The sight of this rising ground is much more striking than that even of the uncovered part of the streets; for the imagination is here unrestrained and unlimited, and, transporting itself at once back to the moment of the fatal eruption, it fancies all the horrors of the event still to subsist, though concealed, under that slight elevation; while the streets of the town, cleared by modern care, present less than even ordinary ruins to affect the mind. I am at a loss to account for this want of interest in the
As yet only about one quarter of Pompei is uncovered.
interior. Are the marks of a sudden, an unforeseen, and a local misfortune, less painful than the traces of destruction inflicted by the slow, universal, and unavoidable hand of time? But the sight of this hillock recalls the army buried under the sands of Lybia.
Two hours and a half brought me into the midst of the Corso; that is, of three or four hundred carriages, which, every evening, assem ble on the Chiaja, and drive under the canopies of dust they create to themselves. Adieu.
2d December, 1824.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
THE Vesuvio-a first-rate man-of-war, begun by Murat-was this morning launched at Castellamare, in presence of the Princes Royal, and a great number of spectators. The King did not witness this sight-not very common at Naples. Some attributed his absence to the vessel's having been put on the stocks by Murat; others account for it by supposing that he wished to save the presents it would otherwise have been necessary to give to the shipwrights. The different terms of punishment to which the galériens who built it had been condemned have, however, been shortened on the occasion. Besides being employed in these public works, the galériens are at Naples, and in most Italian towns, made to sweep the streets; which, nevertheless, seldom bear testimony to their purifying influence.
Many of the spectators who witnessed the launching of the Vesuvio were taken down to Castellamare by the “ Real Ferdinando," an English steam-packet, which arrived here some time since, intending to sail between Naples and Palermo. The astonishment of the Neapolitans, on its first appearance, was most amusing: they had never before seen steam vessels; they talked incessantly of it; and some even went to Palermo, enticed solely by the novelty of the transport. Yet they soon began to consider the fares too dear for such pleasure excursions; and so, in fact, they were; but they could not be lowered, owing to the want of passengers, said to be occasioned by the commercial ideas of the Neapolitan government, which is reported to see de mauvais æil a foreign vessel sailing between its ports, and even to have employed its minor ships of war to convey passengers at a much lower rate. Nevertheless the “ Real Ferdi.. 6 nando” still keeps its seda