Page images

a day). We were but indifferently lodged; however, it is the only inn we have yet seen in Sicily, and indeed, may be said to be the only one in the island. It is kept by a noisy troublesome French-woman, who I find will plague us; there is ro keeping her out of our rooms, and the never comes in without telling us of such a prince and such a duke, that were so superlatively happy at being lodged in her house: we can easily learn that they were all desperately in love with her; and indeed she seems to take it amiss, that we are not inclined to be of the same sentiments. I have already been obliged to tell her, that we are very retired sort of people, and do not like company ; 1 find she does not esteem us the better for it; and this morning (as I passed through the kitchen, without speaking to her) I overheard her exclaim, “ Ah mon “ Dicu! comme ces Anglois font sauvages." I believe we must take more notice of her, otherwife we shall certainly have our rent raised; but she is as fat as a pig, and as ugly as the devil, and lays on a quantity of paint on each of her swelled cheeks that looks like a great plaster of red Morocco. Her pi&ture is hanging in the room where I am now writing, as well as that of her husband, who, by the bye, is a ninny : they are no less vile curiosities than the originals. He is drawn with his fnuff-box open in one hand, and a dish of coffee in the other; and at the fanie time, fait l'aimable à Madame. I took notice of this triple occupation, which feemed to imply something particular. She told me that the thought was hers: that her husband was exceedingly fond of snuff and of coffee, and wanted by this to fhcw that he was still more occupied with her than with either of them. I could not help applauding the ingenuity of the conceit. Madame is painted with an immense bouquet in her breast, and an orange in her right-hand, emblematic of her sweetness and purity; and has the prettiest little smirk on her face you can imagine. She told me that she insisted on the painter drawing her avec le souris sur le visage, but as he had not oprit enough to make her smile naturally, she was obliged to force one, " qui “ n'etoit pas tout a fait si jolie que le naturel, " mais qui vaudroit toujours mieux que de “ parroitre sombre ;" I agreed with her perfeally; and assured her it became her very much, “parceque les dames grasses sont toujours de 6 bonne humeur." I found, however, that she would willingly have excused me the latter part of the compliment, which more than lost all that 1 had gained by the former.

very much


« Il est vrai" (faid she, a good deal piqued) j'ai un peu de l'em « bon point, mais pas tant grasse pourtant." I pretended to excuse myself, from not understanding all the finesse of the language ; and assured her, that de l'em bon point was the very phrase I meant to make use of. She accepted the apology, and we are again reconciled; for, to give the devil his due, they are good-humoured. She made me a curtsey, and repeated, “ Oui, " Monsieur, pour parler comme il faut, il faut “ dire de l'em bon point. On ne dit pas grasse. I assured her, bowing to the ground, that the wor.d should for ever be razed from my vocabulary. She left me with a gracious smile, and a curtsey niuch-lower than the first ; adding, “ Je “ sçavois bien que Monsieur etoit un homme

comme il faut;" at the same time tripping off on her tip-toes, as light as a feather, to thew me how much I had been mistaken. This woman made me recollect (what I have always observed) how little the manners of the French are to be changed by their connection with other nations; allowing none to be in any degree worthy of imitation but their own. Although she has now been here these twenty years, she is still as perfectly French, as if she had never been without the gates of Paris ; and looks upon every woman in Palermo with the utmost contempt, because they have never seen that capital, nor heard the sublime music of its opera. She is likewise (allowing for the difference of rank) an admirable epitome of all French women, whose universal passion has ever been the desire of admiration, and of appearing young; and ever would be, I believe, were they to live to the age of a thousand. Any person that will take a look of the withered death's, heads in their public places, covered over with a thick mask of paint, will be convinced of this. Now, our old ladies, when they get to the wrong side of fixty, generally take a jump up to the borders of fourscore, and appear no less vain of their years, than ever they were of their youth. I know some of them, that I am sure are not less happy, nor less contented, nor (I might almost add) less admired with their wrinkles, than ever they were with their dimples. I do not know whether a cheerful old woman, who is willing to appear so, is more respectable, or more estimable; or a withered witch, who fills up every wrinkle with varnish, and at fourscore attempts to give herself the bloom of four-and-twenty, is ridiculous and contemptible: but as dinner is on the table, I shall leave it to you to determine. Adieu.


Palermo, June 23d. I

SHALL have a great deal to write you about this city; we are every day more delighted with it, and shall leave it with much regret. We have now delivered our letters, in consequence of which we are loaded with civilities, and have got into a very agreeable set of acquaintance. But I shall first attempt to give you some little idea of the town, and then speak of its inhabitants. It is by much the most regular I have seen, and is built upon that plan, which I think all large cities ought to follow. The two great streets intersect each other in the centre of the city, where they form a handsome square, called the Ottangolo, adorned with elegant uniform buildings. From the centre of this square, you see the whole of these noble streets, and the four great gates of the city which terminate them; the symmetry and beauty of which produce a fine effe&. The whole of these are to be magnificently illuminated some time next month, and must certainly be the finest sight in the world. The four gates are each at the distance of about half a mile, (the diameter of the city being no more than a mile :) these are elegant pieces of architecture richly adorned ; VOL. II.


« PreviousContinue »