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the Africans. This is done, no doubt, in honour of the
, Christian religion, and to demonstrate that Christians, even after they have been found guilty of the blackest crimes, are worthier men, and more deserving of lenity, than Mahometan. prisoners, however innocent they may be in all other respects.
The gardens belonging to this palace are equally extensive and magnificent. A great number of fine statues, most of them copies of the best antique, are kept in a storehouse till the gardens are finished, when they will be placed in them. The largest and finest elephant I ever saw is here at present; he is kept by African slaves: they seem to know how to manage him perfectly; he is well thriven, and goes through a number of tricks and evolutions with much docility and judgment.
In the garden, there is an artificial water and island. This, if one may.venture to say so, seems a little injudi. cious; it brings to our memory the bay of Naples, with its islands, a recollection by no means favourable to this royal contrivance. In this island there is a kind of a castle, regularly fortified, with a ditch around it, and ramparts, bastions, sally-ports, &c. &c. and a numerous train of artillery, some of them nine or ten ouncers. I no sooner entered this fort, than I wished that Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim had been of our party ; it would have charmed the soul of the worthy veteran and his faithful servant.
I asked the man who attended us, what he imagined this fortification was intended for ?—Sir Harry Featherston said, " The cannon were certainly designed against the frogs, who were continually attempting to scale the ramparts from the ditch.'— I asked again, what was the real design of erecting this sort ? The man answered, stretching out his arms, and making as wide a circle with them as he could,-- Tutto, tutto per il sollazo del re.'* .. Yes,' said, I, “it is surely in the highest degree reasonable, that not only this fort, but the whole kingdom,
All, all for the king's amusement.
should be appropriated to the amusement of his majesty." • Certo,'* replied the man. I wished to see how far the fellow's liberality would go— Not only this kingdom, continued I, but all Europe would be highly honoured in contributing to the amusement of his majesty.' Certo, certo,'t said the man.
He king and queen lately paid a visit to four of the principal nunneries in this town. Their motive was, to gratify the curiosity of the archduchess, and her husband, Prince Albert of Saxony. I ought to have informed you, that this illustrious couple léft Vienna some months after us, with an intention to make the tour of Italy. We had the honour of seeing them frequently while at Rome, where they conciliated the affections of the Italian nobles by their obliging manners, as much as they commanded · respect by their high rank. The archduchess is a very beautiful woman, and more distinguished by the propriety of her conduct, than by either birth or beauty. As white, by the link of contrast, is connected with the idea of black ; so this amiable duchess sometimes recals those to people's memories, whose ideas of dignity are strongly contrasted with hers. Conscious, from her infancy, of the highest rank, and accustomed to honours, it never enters into her thoughts that any person will fail in paying her a due respect; while they, eternally jealous that enough of respect is not paid them, give themselves airs which would be intolerable in an empress. A smile of benignity puts all who approach this princess perfectly at their ease, and dignity sits as smoothly on her as a wellmade garment; while, on them, it bristles out like the quills of a porcupine, or the feathers of an enraged turkeycuck. As nobody is permitted to enter those convents, except Surely
on such extraordinary occasions as this, when they are visited by the sovereigns, the British minister seized this opportunity of procuring an order for admitting the duke of Hamilton and me. We accordingly accompanied him, and a few others, who were in the king's suite. I have seen various nunneries in different parts of Europe, but none that could be compared even with the meanest of those four in this city, for neatness and conveniency. Each of them is provided with a beautiful garden ; and the situation of one is the happiest that can be imagined, commanding a prospect nearly as extensive as that from the Carthusian convent near the castle of St. Elmo. Those four nunneries are for the reception of young ladies of good families; and, into one in particular, none but such as are of very high rank can be admitted, either as pensioners, or to take the veil. Each of the young ladies in this splendid convent have both a summer and a winter apartment, and many other accommodations unknown in other retreats of this nature. The royal visitors were received in all of them by the lady abbess, at the head of the oldest of the sisterhood ; they were afterwards presented with nosegays, and served with fruit, sweetmeats, and a variety of cooling drinks, by the young
The queen and her amiable sister received all very graciously ; conversing familiarly with the lady abbesses, and asking a few obliging questions of each.
In one convent the company were surprised, on being led into a large parlour, to find a table covered, and every appearance of a most plentiful cold repast, consisting of several joints of meat, hams, fowl, fish, and various other dishes. It seemed rather ill-judged to have prepared a feast of such a solid nature immediately after dinner; for those royal visits were made in the afternoon. The lady abbess, however, earnestly pressed their majesties to sit down, with which they complied, and their example was followed by the archduchess and some of the ladies; the nuns stood behind, to serve their royal guests, The queen chose a slice of cold turkey, which, on being
cut up, turned out a large piece of lemon ice, of the shape and appearance of a roasted turkey. All the other dishes were ices of various kinds, disguised under the forms of joints of meat, fish, and fowl, as above mentioned. The gaiety and good humour of the king, the affable and engaging behaviour of the royal sisters, and the satisfaction which beamed from the plump countenance of the lady abbess, threw an air of cheerfulness on this scene; which was interrupted, however, by gleams of melancholy reflection, which failed not to dart across the mind, at sight of so many victims to the pride of family, to avarice, and superstition. Many of those victims were in the full bloom of health and youth, and some of them were remarkably handsome. There is something in a nun's dress which renders the beauty of a young woman more interesting than is in the power of the gayest, richest, and most laboured ornaments. tainly does not proceed from any thing remarkably becoming in black and white flannel. The lady abbess and the elderly nuns made no more impression in their vestal robęs, than those stale, forlorn dames whom you may see displaying their family jewels and shrivelled countenances every night at Ranelagh or in the side-boxes. The interest you take in a beautiful woman is heightened on seeing her in the dress of a nun, by the opposition which you imagine exists between the life to which her rash vows have condemned her, and that to which her own unbiassed inclinations would have led her. You are moved with pity, which you know is a-kin to love, on seeing a young blooming creature doomed to retirement and self-denial, who was formed by nature for society and enjoyment.
If we may credit the ancient poets, those young women who are confined to a cloister life on any part of this coast, · are more to be pitied than they would be under the same restraint elsewhere. They tell us, the very air in this part of Italy is repugnant to that kind of constitution, and that turn of mind, of which it would be peculiarly
happy for nuns to be possessed. Propertius entreats his Cynthia not to remain too long on a shore which he seems to think dangerous to the chastest maiden.
Tu modo quamprimum corruptas desere Baias*
Littora quæ fuerant castis inimica puellis. Martial asserts, that a woman who came hither as chaste as Penelope, if she remained any time, would depart as licentious and depraved as Helen.
Penelope venit, abit Helene. + I have certainly met with ladies, after they resided some time at Naples, who, in point of character and constitution, were thought to have a much stronger resemblance to Helen than to Penelope; but as I have no great faith in the sudden operation of physical causes in matters of this kind, I never doubted of those ladies having carried the same disposition to Naples that they brought from it. Though there are not wanting those who affirm, that the influence of this seducing climate is evident now in as strong a degree as it is described to have been anciently; that it pervades people of all ranks and conditions, and that in the convents themselves;
Even there where frozen chastity retires,
Love finds an altar for forbidden fires. Others, who carry their researches still deeper, and pretend to have a distinct knowledge of the effect of aliment through all its changes on the human constitution, think, that the amorous disposition, imputed to Neapolitans, is only in part owing to their voluptuous climate, but in a far greater degree to the hot, sulphureous nature of their soil, which those profound naturalists declare communicates its fiery qualities to the juices of vegetables ; thence they are conveyed to the animals who feed on them, and particularly to man, whose nourishment consisting both of animal and vegetable food, he must have in his veins a
* I entreat you to forsake, as soon as possible, the corrupt coast of Baia.
+ A coast most unfriendly to modest maids.