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I myself measured it) is near 600 feet above it. Now I am persuaded, that in such a country as Switzerland, or on such a mountain as Ætna, where it is easy at all times to take off a pressure from the human body of many thousand pounds weight, that an ingenious physician might make great discoveries ; nor indeed would these discoveries be confined to the changing of the quantity of air that presses on the body, but would likewise be extended to the changing of the quality of the air we breathe ; which, on the side of Ætna, or any very high mountain, is more varied than in travelling through fifty degrees of latitude. I beg pardon for this digression; the only amends I can make, is to put it out of my power to troue ble you with any more, and thus abruptly assure you how much, &c.
L E T T E R
Palermo, June 26tho OUR fondness for Palermo increases every day, and we are beginning to look forward with regret to the time of our leaving it, which is now fast approaching. We have made acquaintance with many sensible and agreeable people. The Sicilians appear frank and sincere; and their politeness does not consist in thew and grimace, like some of the polite nations of the continent. The viceroy sets the pattern of hospitality, and he is followed by the rest of the nobles. He is an amiable, agreeable man, and I believe is as much beloved and esteemed as a viceroy to an absolute monarch can be. He was in England in his youth, and is still fond of many of our authors, with whom he seems to be intimately acquainted; he speaks the language tolerably well, and encourages the learning of it amongst his people. Не may
be considered with regard to Naples as what the lord lieutenant of Ireland is with regard to England, with this trifling difference, that like his master, he is invested with an absolute authority; and keeps his parliament (for he has one too) in the most perfect subjection. The patriots here, although a very numerous body, have never been able to gain one point, no nor a place, nor even a pension for a needy friend. Had lord Townshend the power of the marquis Fogliano, I suppose your Hibernian squabbles (of which we hear so much, even at this distant corner) would soon have an end. Notwithstanding this great authority, he is affable and familiar, and makes his house agreeable to every body. We go very often to his assemblies, and have dined with him feveral times; his table is served with elegance and magnificence, much superior indeed to that of his Sicilian majefty, who eats off a service of plate, at least 300 years old, very black and rusty indeed: I heard a gentleman ask one day, whilst we were standing round the table, if it had not been dug out of Herculaneum. That of the viceroy is very elegant, and indeed the whole of his entertainments correspond with it; though we have as yet feen nothing here, to be compared to the luxury of our feast in the granary at Agrigentum.
The Sicilian cookery is a mixture of the French and Spanith ; and the Olio still preserves its rank and dignity in the center of the table, surrounded by a numerous train of fricassees, fricandeaus, ragouts, and pet de loups ; like a grave Spanish Don, amidst a number of little smart marquis. The other nobility, whom we have had occasion to fee, are likewise very magnificent in their entertainments ; but most particularly in their:
deserts and ices, of which there is a greater variety than I have seen in any other country. They are very temperate with regard to wine; though, since we have taught them our method of toasting ladies they are fond of, and of hob and nobbing with their friends, ringing the two glasses together ; this social pradice has animated them so much, that they have been sometimes led to drink a greater quantity than they are accustomed to; and they often reproach us with having made them drunkards. In their ordinary living they are very frugal and temperate; and from the sobriety we have seen here, we are now more persuaded that the elevated situation of Agrigentum must be one great cause of its drunkenness.
The Sicilians have always had the character of being very amorous, and surely not without reason. The whole nation are poets, even the peasants; and a man stands a poor chance for a mistress, that is not capable of celebrating her praises. I believe it is generally allowed that the pastoral poetry had its origin in this island; and Theocritus, after whom they still copy, will ever be looked upon as the prince of pastoral poets. And indeed in music too, as well as poetry, the soft amorous pieces are generally stiled Siciliani ; these they used to play all night under their mistresses' windows, to express the delicacy of their passion; but serenading is not now so much in fashion, as it was during the time of their more intimate connection with Spain, when it was said by one of their authors, that no person could pass for a man of gallantry that had not got a cold; and was sure never to succeed in making love unless he made it in a hoarse voice. The ladies are not now so rigid, and will sometimes condescend to hear a man, even although he should speak in a clear tone. Neither do they any longer require the prodigious martial feats, that were then necessary to win them. The attacking of a mad bull, or a wild boar, was reckoned the handsomest compliment a lover could pay to his mistress; and the putting these animals to death softened her heart much more than all the sighing love-sick tales that could be invented. This has been humorously ridiculed by one of their poets. He says that Cupid's little golden dart was now changed into a massy spear, which answered a double purpose ; for at the same time that it pierced the tough bull's hide, it likewise pierced the tender lady's heart. But these Gothic Customs are now confined to Spain, and the gentle Sicilians have re-assumed their softness. To tell you the truth, gallantry is pretty much upon the same footing here as in Italy, 'the establishment of Ciccisbees is pretty general, though not quite so univerfal as on the continent. However, a breach of the marriage vow is no longer looked upon as one of the deadly fins; and the confessors fall upon easy and pleasant enough methods of making them atone for it. The husbands are content ;