Page images
PDF
EPUB

This river bounded Latium. On its banks are still seen some ruins of the ancient Minturnæ. After Manlius Torquatus, in what some will call a phrenzy of virtue, had offered up his son as a sacrifice to military discipline; and his colleague Decius, immediately after, devoted himself in a battle against the Latins; the broken army of that people assembled at Minturnæ, and were a second time defeated by Manlius, and their lands divided by the senate among the citizens of Rome. The first battle was fought near Mount Vesuvius, and the second between Sinuessa and Minturnæ. In the morasses of Minturnæ, Caius Marius, in the seventieth year of his age, was taken, and brought a prisoner to that city, whose magistrates ordered an assassin to put him to death, whom the fierce veteran disarmed with a look. What mortal, says Juvenal, would have been thought more fortunate than Marius, had he breathed out his aspiring soul, surrounded by the captives he had made, his victorious troops, and all the pomp of war, as he descended from his Teutonic chariot, after his triumph over the Cimbri.

Quid illo sive tulisset
Natura in terris, quid Roma beatius unquam ?
Si circumducto captivorum agmine, et omni
Bellorum pompå, animam exhalasset opimam,

Cum de Teutonico vellet descendere curru. Several writers, in their remarks on Italy, observe, that it was on the banks of the Liris that Pyrrhus gained his dear-bought victory over the Romans. They have fallen into this mistake, by confounding the Liris with the Siris, a river in Magna Græcia, near Heraclea; in the neighbourhood of which Pyrrhus defeated the Romans by the means of his elephants.

Leaving Garilagno, which is the modern name of the Liris, we pass the rising ground where the ancient Sinuessa was situated : the city where Horace met his friends Plotius, Varius, and Virgil. The friendly glow with which this admirable painter has adorned their characlers, conveys an amiable idea of his own.

a

the new.

[ocr errors]

Animæ, quales neque candidiores
Terra tulit ; neque queis me sit devinctior alteri
O, qui complexus et gaudia quanta fuerunt !

Nil ego contulerim jucundo sanus ámico.* Do you not share in the happiness of such a company ? And are you not rejoiced that they happened to meet near the Ager Falernus, where they could have the best Massic and Falernian wines ?

New Capua, through which the road from Rome to Naples lies, is a small town of no importance. The ancient city of that name was situated two miles distant from

The ruins of the amphitheatre, which are still to be seen, give some idea of the ancient grandeur of that city. Before the amphitheatre of Vespasian was built, there was none in Rome of equal size with this. Old Capua is said, at one period, to have vied in magnificence with Rome and Carthage.

Altera dicta olim Carthago, atque altera Roma,

Nunc prostrata jacet, proprioque sepulta sepulchro.t The army of Hannibal is said to have been conquered by the luxuries of this place : but the judicious Montesquieu observes, that the Carthaginian army, enriched by so many victories, would have found a Capua wherever they had gone. Whether Capua brought on the ruin of Hannibal or not, there can be no doubt that Hannibal occasioned the ruin of Capua.

Having broken their connection with Rome, and formed an alliance with her enemy, the Capuans were, in the course of the war, besieged by the consuls Fulvius and Appius. Hannibal exerted all his vast abilities for the relief of his new friends ; but was not able to bring the Roman army to a battle, or to raise the siege. When

• Pure spirits these ; the world no purer knows ;

For none my heart with such affection glows.
How oft did we embrace! our joys how great!
Is there a blessing in the power of fate
To be compar’d, in sanity of mind

To friends of such companionable kind ? FRANCIS. † Formerly called another Carthage, or another Rome; it now lies bu. ried in its own ruins,

VOL. II.

every other expedient had failed, he marched directly to Rome, in the hopes of drawing the Roman army after him to defend the capital. A number of alarming events conspired, at this time, to depress the spirit of the Roman senate. The proconsul Sempronius Gracchus, who commanded an army in Lucania, had fallen into an ambuscade, and was massacred. The two gallant brothers, the Scipios, who were their generals in Spain, had been defeated and killed; and Hannibal was at their gates. How did the senate behave at this crisis ? Did they spend their time in idle harangues and mutual accusations ? Did they throw out reflections against those senators who were against entering into a treaty with the Carthaginians till their army should be withdrawn from Italy? Did they recall their army from Capua ? Did they shew any mark of despondence? In this state of affairs, the Roman senate sent orders to Appius to continue the siege of Capua ; they ordered a reinforcement to their army in Spain ; the troops for that service marching out at one gate of Rome, while Hannibal threatened to enter by storm at another. How could such a people fail to become the masters of the world !

The country between Capua and Naples displays a varied scene of lavish fertility, and with great propriety might be named Campania Felix, if the richest and most generous soil, with the mildest and most agreeable climate, were sufficient to render the inhabitants of a country happy.

LETTER LV.

Naples. THE

HE day after our arrival at this place, we waited on Sir William Hamilton, his majesty's minister at this court. He had gone early that morning on a hunting party with the king; but the Portuguese ambassador, at Lady Hamilton's desire, undertook to accompany the duke on the usual round of visits; Sir William was not expected to

return for several days, and the laws of etiquette do not allow that important tour to be delayed so long. As we have been continually driving about ever since our arrival, I am already pretty well acquainted with this town, and the environs.

Naples was founded by the Greeks. The charming situation they have chosen, is one proof among thousands, of the fine taste of that ingenious people.

The bay is about thirty miles in circumference, and twelve in diameter; it has been named Crater, from its supposed resemblance to a bowl. This bowl is ornamented with the most beautiful foliage; with vines; with olive, mulberry, and orange trees; with hills, dales, towns, villas, and villages.

At the bottom of the bay of Naples, the town is built in the form of a vast amphitheatre, sloping from the hills towards the sea.

If, from the town, you turn your eyes to the east, you see the rich plains leading to mount Vesuvius, and Portici. If you look to the west, you have the grotto of Pausilippo, the mountain on which Virgil's tomb is placed, and the fields leading to Puzzoli and the coast of Baia. On the north, are the fertile hills, gradually rising from the shore to the Campagna Felice. On the south, is the bay, confined by the two promontories of Misenum and Minerva, the view being terminated by the islands Procida, Ischia, and Caprea ; and as you ascend to the castle of St. Elmo, you have all these objects under your eye at once, with the addition of a great part of the Campagna.

Independent of its happy situation, Naples is a very beautiful city. The style of architecture, it must be confessed, is inferior to what prevails at Rome; but though Naples cannot vie with that city in the number of palaces, or in the grandeur and magnificence of the churches, the private houses in general are better built, and are more uniformly convenient; the streets are broader and better paved. No street in Rome equals in beauty the Strada

. di Toledo at Naples; and still less can any of them be compared with those beautiful streets which are open to the bay. This is the native country of the zephyrs ; here the excessive heat of the sun is often tempered with sea breezes, and with gales, wafting the perfumes of the Campagna Felice..

The houses, in general, are five or six stories in height, and flat at the top; on which are placed, numbers of flower vases or fruit trees, in boxes of earth, producing a very gay and agreeable effect.

The fortress of St. Elmo is built on a mountain of the same name. The garrison stationed here, have the entire command of the town, and could lay it in ashes at pleas

A little lower, on the same mountain, is a convent of Carthusians. The situation of this convent is as advantageous and beautiful as can be iinagined; and much expense has been lavished to render the building, the apartments, and the gardens, equal to the situation.

To bestow great sums of money in adorning the retreat of men who have abandoned the world for the express purpose of passing the remainder of their lives in self-denial and mortification, seems to be very ill judged ; and might, on some occasions, counteract the design of their retreat. I expressed this sentiment to a Neapolitan lady at Sir William Hamilton's assembly, the evening after I had visited this convent. She said, that the elegant apartments, the gardens, and all the expensive ornaments I had particularized, could not much impede a system of self-denial; for they soon became insipid to those who had them constantly before their eyes, and proved no compensation for the want of other comforts.' In that case,' said I, the whole expense might have been saved, or bestowed in procuring comforts to others who have made no vows of mortification. Tolga iddio!'* cried the lady,

' forgetting her former argument, for none have so good a title to every comfortable and pleasant thing in this world, as those who have renounced it, and placed their affections entirely on the next; instead of depriving these

[ocr errors]

• God forbid !

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »