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and like able generals, make up for the loss of one fortress, by the taking of an other. However, female licentiousness has by no means come to such a height as in Italy. We have seen a greal deal of domestic happiness; husbands and wives that truly love one another, and whose mutual care and pleasure is the education of their children. I could name a number: The Duke of Verdura, the Prince Partana, the Count Buscemi, and many others who live in the most sacred union. Such sights are very rare on the continent. But indeed the stile that young people are brought upin here, seems to lay a much more solid foundation for matrimonial happiness, than either in France or Italy. The young ladies are not shut
up vents till the day of their marriage, but for the most part live in the house with their parents, where they receive their education, and are every day in company with their friends and relations. From what I can observe, I think they are allowed almost as much liberty as with us. In their great assemblies, we often see a club of young people (of both sexes) get together in a corner, and amuse themselves for hours, at cross purposes, or such like games, without the mothers being under the least anxiety; indeed, we sometimes join in these little parties, and find them extremely entertaining. In general, they are quick and lively, and have a number of those jeux d'esprit, which I think must ever be a proof, in all countries, of the familiar intercourse betwixt the young people of the two sexes; for all these games are insipid, if they are not seasoned by something of that invisible and subtile agency, which renders every thing more interesting in these mixed societies, than in the lifeless ones, composed of only one part of the species. Thus, in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, I have never seen any of these games; in France seldom, but in Switzerland, (where the greatest liberty and familiarity are en. joyed amongst the young people) they are numberless. But the conversation hour is arrived, and our carriage is waiting.
L E T T E R XXIV.
Palermo, June 28th.
HERE are two small countries, one to the east, the other to the west of this city, where the principal nobility have their country palaces. Both these we have visited; there are many noble houses in each of them. That to the east is called La Bagaria, that to the west Il Colle. We are this instant returned from La Bagaria, and I hasten to give you an account of the ridiculous things we have seen, though perhaps you will not thank me for it.
The palace of the Prince of Valguanera is, I think, by much the finest and most beautiful of all the houses of the Bagaria ; but it is far from being the most extraordinary: were I to describe it, I should only tell you of things you have often seen and heard of in other countries, so I shall only speak of one, which, for its singularity, certainly is not to be paralleled on the face of the earth; it belongs to the prince of P, a man of immense fortune, who has devoted his whole life to the study of monsters and chimeras, greater and more ridiculous than ever entered into the imagination of the wildest writers of romance or knight-errantry.
The amazing crowd of statues that surround his house, appear at a distance like a little army drawn up for its defence; but when you get amongst them, and every one affumes his true likeness, you imagine you have got into the regions of delusion and enchantment ; for of all that immense group, there is not one made to represent any obje&t in nature ; nor is the absurdity of the wretched imagination that created them less astonishing than its wonderful fertility. It would require a volume to describe the whole, and a sad volume indeed it would make. He has put the heads of men to the bodies of every sort of animal, and the heads of every other animal to the bodies of men. Sometimes he makes a compound of five or fix animals that have no sort of resemblance in nature. He puts the head of a lion to the neck of a goose, the body of a lizard, the legs of a goat, the tail of a fox. On the back of this monster, he puts another if possible still more hideous, with five or six heads, and a bush of horns, that beats the beast in the Revelations all to nothing. There is no kind of horn in the world that he has not collected; and his pleasure is, to see them all flourishing upon the same head. This is a strange species of madness; and it is truly unaccountable that he has not been shut up many years ago; but he is perfe&ly innocent, and troubles nobody by the indulgence of his phrenzy ; on the contrary, he gives bread to a number of statuaries and other workmen, whom
he rewards in proportion as they can bring their imaginations to coincide with his own; or, in other words, according to the hideousness of the monsters they produce. It would be idle and tiresome to be particular in an account of these abfurdities. The statues that adorn, or rather deform the great avenue, and surround the court of the palace, amount already to 600, notwithstanding which, it may be truly faid, that he has not broke the second commandment ; for of all that number, there is not the likeness of any thing in heaven above, in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. The old ornaments which were put up by his father, who was a fensible man, appear to have been in a good taste. They have all been knocked to pieces, and laid together in a heap, to make room for this new creation.
The inside of this inchanted castle corresponds exa&ly with the out; it is in every respect as whimsical and fantastical, and you cannot turn yourself to any side, where you are not stared in the face by some hideous figure or other. Some of the apartments are spacious and magnificent, with high arched roofs ; which instead of plaister or stucco, are composed entirely of large mirrors, nicely joined together. The effect that these produce (as each of them make a small angle with the other,) is exa&ly that of a multiplying glass; so that when three or four people are walking below, there is always the appearance of three