« ZurückWeiter »
out light for five years, after which he is to remain a prisoner in the castle for life. The unfortunate young man who received the blow, is likewise in disgrace, as he has not had an opportunity of wiping it out in the blood of his adversary.
This has been looked upon as a very singular affair, and is still one of the principal topics of conversation. The first part of the sentence has already been executed, and the poor wretch is now in his dungeon. Nor is it thought, that any abatement will be made in what remains.
The Maltese still talk with horror of a storm that happened here en the 29th of Oct. 1757, which as it was of a very singular nature, I (hall translate you some account of it from a little book they have given me, written on that subject.
About three quarters of an hour after midnight, there appeared to the south-west of the city a great black cloud, which, as it approached, changed its colour, till at last it became like a flameof fire, mixed with black smoak. A dreadful noise was heard on its approach, that alarmed the whole city. It passed over part of the port, and came first upon an English ship, which ia an instant was torn to pieces, and nothing left but the hulk; part of the mast, fails and cordage, were carried along with the cloud to a considerable distance. The small boats and felloques that fell in its way, were all Jwoken to pieces, and funk. The Dftise increased and became more frightful. A sentinel, terrified at iti approach, run into his box: both he and it were lifted up and tarried iato the sea, where he pe
rifhed. It then traversed a considerable part of the city, and laid in ruins almost every thing that dared to oppose it. Several houses were laid level with the ground, and it did not leave one steeple in its passage. The bells of some of them, together with the spiret, were carried to a considerable distance. The roofs of the churches were demolished and beat down, which, if it had happened in the day-time, must have occasioned a dreadful carnage, as all the world would immediately have run to the churches.
It went off at the north-eaft point of the city ; and demolishing the light-house, is said to have mounted up in the air, with a frightful noise; and passed over the sea to Sicily, where it tore up some trees, and did other damage, but nothing considerable; as its fury had been mostly spent upon Malta. The number of killed and wounded amounted to near 200; and the loss of (hipping, houses, and churches, was very considerable.
Several treatises have been written to account for this singular phenomenon, but ? have found nothing at all satisfactory. The sentiments of the people are concise and positive. They declare, with one voice, that it was a legion of devils let loose to punisti them for their sins. There are a thousand people in Malta that will take their oath they saw them within the cloud, all at black as pitch, and breathing out fire and brimstone. They add, that if there had not been a few godly people amongst them, their whole city wouldWrtainly have been involved ioW universal destruction.
Rebuke to an English Gentleman, by a Sicilian Nobleman.
I Know of nothing that gives one a worse opinion of a man, than to see him make a (hew and parade of his contempt for things held sacred: it is an open insult to the judgment of the public.—'A countryman of oilrs, about two years ago, offended egregioufly in this article, and the people still speak os him both with contempt and detestation. — It happened one
day, in the great church, during the elevation of the host, when every body else wereon their knees, that he still kept standing, without any appearance of respect to the ceremony. A young nobleman that was near him, expressed his surprize at this. "It is strange, *' Sir, (said he) that you, who "have had the education of agen"tleman, and ought to have the "sentiments of one, should chuse "thus to give so very public of"fence." «' Why, Sir (said the "Englishman) I don't believe in *' transubstantiation."—"Neither "do I, Sir, (replied the other) and "yet you see 1 kneel."
9"be following instances ixihicb Mr. Brydone gives us of the Oppressiveness of the present Government in Sicily, tuillaccount for the late Commotions in Palermo.
THE difficulties under which the poor Sicilians labour, from the extreme oppression of their government, obliges them sometimes to invent branches of commerce, that nature seems to have denied them, as they are not allowed to enjoy thole slie has be
stowed.—The sugar-cane was formerly very milch cultivated in ihi* island, but the duties imposed were so enormous, that it has been almost totally abandoned.—But their crops of wheat alone, were they •under a free government, would soon be sufficient to render this little nation one of the richest and most flourishing in the world; for even in the wretched state of cultivation it is in at present, one good crop, lam told,issufficiencto maintain the island for seven years.
You will be a good deal surprized, after this, to hear that the exportation'of this commodity has been absolutely prohibited for these several years past; at least to all such as are not able to pay roost exorbitantly for that privilege. The consequence is, that corn has become a perfect drug. The common price of the salma, which is two loads, was about thirty-one shillings; at present it is reduced to iive (hillings and six-pence, and there is a probability that it will still fall lowar.
This crop, which has been very abundant, I am told, in many places they have hardly been atthe pains to gather in, as mere is little probability of this cruel, prohibition being removed. The farmers are already ruined, and the ruin of their masters must inevitably follow. This is the method the ministry of Naples, or rather that of Spain, has taken to humble the pride of the Sicilian barons, whose power they pretend is still very extensive, and their jurisdiction absolute; most of them possessing a right of life and death in their own domain.—However, there is a probability that they will soon be obliged to relinquish their privileges. le"g«s.—The complaint is very universal, and if the ministry persevere in these rigorous measures, there must cither be a revolt, or they" , mult soon be reduced to a state of poverty as well as servitude. I be. lieve indeed most of them would readily embrace any plausible scheme, to (hake oft" their yoke; as in general they appear to be people of great senGbility, with nigh notions of honour and liberty.
Talking of the natural riches of their island,—Yes, fay they, if these were dilphyed, you would have reason indeed to speak os' them. Take a look of these mountains, — they contain rich veins of every metal, and many of the Roman mines still remain; — but to what end mould we explore them? — It is not we that should reap the profit? — Nay, a discovery of any thing very rich, might possibly prove the ruin of it? possessor.— Jtfo—In our present situation, the hidden treasures of the island must ever remain a profound secret.— Were we happy enough to enjoy the blessings of your constitution, you might call us rich indeed.— Many hidden doors of opulence would then be opened, which now are not even thought of, and we should soon re-assume our ancient name and consequence ; but at present we are nothing.
This is the language that some
of the first people amongst them hold with us. However, they still boast that they retain more of the feudal government thau any nation in Europe. The (hadow indeed remains, but the substance is gone long ago.—It has long been the object of the Bourbon ministry, to reduce the power of the barons in every kingdom. Richlhu began the system in France, and it has ever since been prosecuted by his successors; its influence has' now spread over the whole of their possessions in Europe; of which, as this is the most remote, it has likewise been the longest in reaching it.
Of tit Italian Language; by the late Earl o/CotVc and Orrery.
I Have seen the famous library of manuscripts, Libreria Lauren%iana *, It is a large, and I believe a molt rare and well chosen collection. The benefactors formcrly have been many; of late years very few. The variety of bibles, at least by their number, may be called valuable; I dare fay, you have seen a copy of the Virgil \, in England. Here you would see an original Livy, finely preserved, and finely written. The proportion of the room strikes every eye. It is the architecture of Michael Angelo. A modern Italian author, who has written an ac. count of the library, speaks of the room in these words, e coil nobile e matfnsoy e di it ram, e perselta arcbitettura, eke lingua tttnana nen ha lode baficvole per ummendarla *. of the house of Medici. The dictionary della Crujca *, a most perfect work in its kind, was forty years in compiling.
* Thi* library belongs to the convntof Sr. Laurence, and was partly coli ltcted by Lorenzo de Medici; anrl partly by Pope Clt-ment VII. and the Great Duke Cosmo I. 'It is said to contain 14,800 manu.cripts.
\ This, the most curious manuscript in the library, is supposed to have been written in the fifth century. It wants the life ego qui qus/nlam, Sec. and the twenty-two lines in the id. Æneid, which relate the interview of Æneas and Helen, and which, Mr. Addison thinks, were very judxioufly expunged by Tucca and Varius.
Vol. XVI. O lian
Here you nave the stile of modern Italy. How different from the Ciceronean, or even the latter ages ot Rome! The Italian language seems adapted to flattery and high-flown thoughts. It has the honour to have arisen out of the ashes of the Latin Tongue, which subsisted, and was geneially spoken in Italy, impure indeed, till the time of St. Bernard, and the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa. After the twelfth century, it was entirely lost in conversation, and remained only in public acts, and public prayers; and even in them, mixed, confounded, and scarce intelligible.
Towards the middle of the thirteenth century, such base coin being of no currency, some ingenious men, particularly Brunetti, and afterwards his disciple Dante, the three Villani, and others, began to form a new language, a more sweetfounding, softer Kind of Latin,
which they appropriated to the oseand benefit of tneir own country. Towards the middle of the fourteenth century appeared Petrarch. The Italians justly call the fourteenth century, the «« age of pu"rity," as their language flourished very particularly in that æra. Petrarch was the Waller of his day.
In the fifteenth century, the correctness and encouragement of Greek and Latin, was revived throughout Italy, and especially in Florence, under the influence of the house of Medici. The Italian language remained in equilibre till it was raised again by Politiar.us f, and farther encrealed inpurity and simplicity by Sannazarius %.
In the sixteenth century appeared Cardinal Bembo's $ remarks on the Italian language, a book at (hat time much applauded.
In the beginning of that century an academy was established in Florence for arts and sciences, particularly for languages. In the year 1580, it had the authority of regular statutes. It was begun, intlituted, and patronized by the princes
• " It is of such noble, majestic, and perfect architecture, that human Ianguage has not praises sufficient to commend it."
+ " Angelus Politianus was a native of Tuscany, born 14.74, He was a priest and a canon of Florence, preceptor to the children of Lorenzo &e Me. diet." See in Bayle's Dictionary a long and very particular account ot him.
X "Actius Synccrus Sanriazarius was a Neapolitan, born in 1458, a man of s reat wit and extensive learning, famous by his Latin and Italian works. In a (fispute one day before Frederick, .King of Naples, concerning what was best to improve the eye-sight. "Nothing is so good for it," said Sannazarius, "as envy, because it makes all objects appear greater." He was a gieat episrrammatilt. One of his epigrams on the city of Venice is well known. He died in the year 1530."
§ " Cardinal Peter Bembo was a Venetian, born in 1470, of a famil) particularly famous for men of letters and figure in rjte republic. He was secretary to Leo X. and was made a cardinal by Pan] III. He died in 1547 by ■tiis horse jostling and bruising hinTirgainft n wall. His Latin works, especially
kis hiltory of Venice, are much esteemed for their purity."
The Italian language lies under the imputation or weakness and effeminacy. On a thorough and candid inquisition, it will be ac
wouW scarce be translated by a novice in the language, " Sir, you are uncivil." It is difficult to guess from whence this odd pi«ce of good, breeding and courtliness could arise.. Surely not in complaisance to the Welch, who in the very depth of Wandering, make use of
knowledged soft, but strong; gen- fie and her, instead of he and him; tic, but expressive; fit indeed for little imagining that they may bo
love and compliments. Too much of it has been applied in that drain; but look into 'the historians, I mean those of real worth, you will find nervous fense, decorated with forcible words, and supported by judicious observations. For a moment let me play the part of a grammarian, and fay, that the dinunutrva and augment ati"ves are to be envied by every English writer. The gerunds and infinitive moods, when turned, as frequently, into substantives, are sufficient to wipe away all aspersions of imbecility. Whence then, you fay, arise these suggestions? 1 believe I can account for them.
They arise from a fin.gular fashion, deemed politeness, of speaking to jestn in the feminine gender; ■ method, which, however established by custom, must always appear to strangers, unnatural and «bfurd. It is not sufficient to banish the words thou and thee in the second person, which are universally understood as vulgarisms, but yea must be excludes, and the third per/on feminine introduced into the place. Signora ella i mahreato,
said to draw their muddy water from the pure fountain of La Cms. ca.
Before we (hut our grammar, let us try a sentence of Florentine etc gance, in the rough plain English tongue. "Sir, as I nave the ho"nour to speak to her, and as I "Had fie is general of our army, 1 ".hope fire will permit m,e to ask "my orders from her, as upon her "courage, strength, and brav:ry, "depends the success of the day." With full as much propriety the Amazons might have Assumed the appellative he; and Acca might have mourned over her mistress Ca-, milla, by exclaiming, " Ab! hi. "was a dear and excellent lady, «* nor would he have expired in my "arms by any incident less embar"raffing, than his petticoats being "in hit way." The confusion of sexes must produce absurdity and seeming weakness in any language whatever.
Three extraordinary Pieces of IVaxIVork, in one ef the Rooms adi\in
• The Academia delta Crusea hive for their emblem or device, a MM t "They take the title of Crusea, or Bran, as professing themselves to sepaiate and dear the fine flour from it; that if, the useful and valuable from that which is not so; as there are lome other academics in Italy which take their title from some defect or imperfection, which it it their endeavour to deliver themselves from, and study its opposite; as O'.iosi, Ctfcuri, Qstinati, Sic. fright.
'. © * '»£