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Some of the families here put me in mind of our own domestic system. The prince of Resuttana, his wife and daughter, are always together; but it is because they chuse to be so, and there appears the strongest affe&ion, without the least diffidence on the one side, or restraint on the other. The young princess Donna Rosolia is one of the most amiable young ladies I have seen; she was of our little party last night, and indeed made one of its greatest ornaments. It would appear vain and partial, after this to fay, that in countenance, sentiment, and behaviour, she seems altogether English ; but it is true : and this perhaps may have contributed to advance her still higher in our esteem; for in spite of all our philosophy, these unphilosophical prejudices will still exist, and no man, I believe, has entirely divested himself of them. We had lately a noble entertainment at her father's country house, and had reason to be much pleased with the unexpected hospitality and easy politeness of the whole family. This palace is reckoned the most magnificent in the neighbourhood of Palermo. It lies about six or seven miles to the west of the city, in the country called 11 Colle ; in the opposite dire&tion from the Bagaria, which I have already mentioned. The viceroy and his family, with the greatest part of the nobility, were of this party, which lasted till about two. in the morning. At midnight a curious set of fire-works were played off, from the leads of the palace, which had a fine effect from the garden below.
Farewell. I had no time to write yesterday, and though we did not break up till near three this morning, I have got up at eight, I was so eager to give you some account of the Sirocc wind.
We are now going to be very buly: The feast of St. Rofolia begins to-morrow; and all the world are on the very tip-toe of expectation : perhaps they may be disappointed. I often wish that you were with us, particularly when we are happy : Though you know it is by no means feasts and Thews that make us so. However, as this is perhaps the most remarkable one in Europe ; that you may enjoy as much of it as possible, I shall fit down every night, and give you a short account of the transactions of the day. We are now going to breakfast; after which we are engaged to play at Ballon, an exercise I suppose you are well acquainted with ; but as the day promises to be extremely hot, I believe I shall désert the party and go a swimming. But I see F. and G. have already attacked the figs and peaches, so I must appear for my interest. Farewell.
BOUT five in the afternoon, the festival began by the triumph of St. Rofolia, who was drawn with great pomp through the center of the city; from the Marino to the Porto Nuovo. The triumphal car was preceded by a troop of horse, with trumpets and kettle-drums ; and all the city officers in their gala uniforms. It is indeed a moft enormous machine : It measures seventy feet long, thirty wide, and upwards of eighty high; and, as it passed along, overtopped the loftiest houses of Palermo. The form of its underpart is like that of the Roman gallies, but it swells as it advances in height; and the front affumes an oval shape like an amphitheatre, with seats placed in the theatrical
This is the great orchestra, which was filled with a numerous band of musicians placed in rows, one above the other: Over this orchestra and a little behind it, there is a large dome supported by fix Corinthian columns, and adorned with a number of figures of saints and angels; and on the summit of the dome there is a gigantic silver statue of St. Rosolia. The whole machine is dressed out with orange-trees, flower-pots, and trees of artificial coral. The car stopped every fifty or sixty yards, when the orchestra performed a piece of music, with songs in honour of the saint. It appeared a moving castle, and completely filled the great street from side to side. This indeed was its greatest disadvantage, for the space it had to move in was in no wise proportioned to its size, and the houses seemed to dwindle away to nothing as it passed along. This vast fabric was drawn by fifty-six huge mules, in two rows, curiously caparisoned, and mounted by twenty-eight poftillions, dressed in gold and silver stuffs, with great plumes of ostrich feathers in their hats. Every window and balcony, on both sides of the street, were full of well-dressed people, and the car was followed by many thoufands of the lower fort. The triumph was finished in about three hours; and was succeeded by the beautiful illumination of the Marino.
I believe I have already mentioned, that there is a range of arches and pyramids extending from end to end of this noble walk: these are painted and adorned with artificial flowers, and are entirely covered with lamps, placed so very thick, that at a little distance the whole appears so many pyramids and arches of flame. The whole chain of this illumination was about a mile in length, and indeed you can hardly conceive any thing more splendid. There was no break or imperfection any where; the night being so fill that not a single lamp was extinguished.
Opposite to the center of this great line of light, there was a magnificent pavilion erected for the viceroy and his company, which consisted of the whole nobility of Palermo : and on the front of this, at some little distance in the sea, stood the great fire-works, representing the front of a palace, adorned with columns, arches, trophies, and every ornament of archite&ture. All the chebecks, galleys, galliots and other shipping, were ranged around this palace, and formed a kind of amphitheatre in the sea, inclosing it in the center. These began the shew by a discharge of the whole of their artillery, the sound of which Te-echoed from the mountains, produced a very noble effect; they then played off a variety of water rockets,and bombs of a curious construction, that often burst below water. This continued for half an hour, when, in an instant, the whole of the palace was beautifully illuminated. This was the signal for the shipping to cease, and appeared indeed like a piece of enchantment, as it was done altogether instantaneously, and without the appearance of any agent. At the same time the fountains that were represented in the court before the palace, began to spout up fire, and made a representation of some of the great jet d'eaus of Versailles and Marly. As soon as these were extinguished, the court assumed the form of a great parterre ; adorned with a variety of palm-trees of fire, interspersed with orange-trees, flower-pots, vases, and other ornaments. On