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Turning to a different subject, I am now going to send you the résumé of a conversation, in which a Neapolitan gave me some information, which, I doubt not, will scandalize you as much as it did myself: it regarded the manner employed, in this country, in the burial of the dead. Those who can afford to make or keep up a chapel, in any church, are buried, with their families, in it. Such as have no chapel are carried from their habitations to the church, attended by more or fewer confraternities, penitents, and priests, all bearing tapers, and reciting prayers; the number of these followers is, of course, determined by the sum paid. At the . church, mass is celebrated for the dead person : he is then entirely stripped, a large cave under the church is opened, and he is thrown in. This cave is emptied three or four times a year; when the bones, and whatever else may remain, are taken out, and transported to the burying-place, without the town, where they are buried.
Those who leave nothing to pay for a decent disposal of their remains, are borne by two men, no priest attending, or offering any prayer, to the grand cimetière : in this burying-ground are three hundred and sixty
five large graves, one of which is opened every day for the reception of those who are then brought. Your own delicacy will tell you what to think of such practices. There are here many societies among the poor, who each contribute, every month, a fixed sum, with which they engage to have the deceased members of their society buried in the churches, and to have masses offered
for their souls. Such associations are truly affecting. I once saw a grand procession following a corpse to the church: from a side street descended a man, conducting a cart, in which was a dead body destined for the cimetière; he joined, and followed close behind the bier of the richer man, hoping that as long as their roads lay in the same direction, his poor relative might profit by the prayers recited for him who could command them; and, doubtless, the justice of God supplied the absence of riches which He had denied.
4th December, 1824.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I Yesterday, for the first time, visited Pozzuoli. After traversing the Grotto of Posilipo, and reaching the sea on the left, a short but most delightful drive stretches along this truly enchanted shore. The blue islands of Caprea, Ischia, and Procida, seem themselves sensible to the beauty of the white wave that appears to buoy them up to the bright but suffused sky with which they mingle, and in which their outlines fade and lose themselves. This picturesque effect of light and shade, which, owing to the haziness of the Neapolitan horizon, is often observed, is most charming. The island
of Nisita was too near to present the same melting tints. This rock has been long put up to sale: it belongs to the Crown; four hundred pounds sterling is demanded for it; the title of duke is attached to it, and would, probably, be granted to the buyer. The island is very small, but produces excellent olives. And all this for four hundred pounds! a dukedom! an island on the coast of Baiæ! How have English travellers been able to withstand such temptations ? All things considered, it must be allowed that they preserve their reason and sang froid to an extent that was not to be expected, Think of a little country gentleman coming to Italy! and living in a palace! and being called “your Excellency!" and yet having sense enough left to refuse a dukedom ! All this is really admirable; and all this is the exact case. But we soon accustom ourselves to such state and grandeur, however it may astonish new beginners, or such as, like yourself, have never been abroad. I remember that some English friends, just arrived at Florence, having procured the address of our palace, went, for some time, round the court, and up the staircases, looking for some part of the building that might agree with their English notions of a
lodging-house. At length they gave up the search, and departed to procure better informasion. They were again directed to the same house. While they were going over the pastages a second time, I happened to open the door of our apartment: my appearance dispelled their uncertainty, which had been caused by the supposition that an arched court and staircase, lined with ancient statues and busts, and a painted hall, forty feet square, could belong to nothing but a public museum. A few days since, a servant presented himself, and although such as I wished in every other respect, yet I refused to hire him, because, when addressing me, he called me " Signore" instead of “ Eccellenza:" I had been long enough in Italy to be used to this latter appellation, and knew that the man's not making use of it was a sure sign of an impertinent and insolent disposition.
But I am allowing the island of Nisita to detain me far too long from my visit to Pozzuoli. This last place is situated at the distance of five miles from Naples : in its actual state it is but a miserable village, inhabited by fishermen and. ciceroni. It
It preserves, indeed, many remains of its ancient splendour ; but these remains present,