Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

ing the mountains in quest of animals, of which there are many that are good for food. The Italian language prevails, especially on the coast, where are several excellent harbours, as Bastia, the capital; Ajacio, and Calvi, all which are towns and places of note.

The time for our visit to these delightful countries, being for the present nearly elapsed; towards autumn we steered our course for Minorca, which we reached without any thing very material happening during the passage, and began to prepare for another visit to other parts of Italy, &c.

CHAP. IX.

Departure Arrival at Sicily-Description of its Extent-Ancient History—Wonderful Granary-Italy in Miniature-AirSoil-Climate-Inhabitants-Critical Si

tuation-Providential Escape-Extraor dinary Islands of Voleano and Stromboli, eclipsed by Mount Etna-Situation-Extent-Fatal Eruptions-Reflections-Departure.

HAVING remained a few weeks at Minorca, and completed our water and provisions, we set sail again to the eastward for the celebrated island of Sicily, which afforded an opportunity of seeing, as it were, Italy in miniature.

Sicily is the largest and most fertile of all the Italian islands. Its triangular position extends from 36′′ 30 to 38° degrees north latitude, and from 12° 07° to 15" 58° east longitude, in the neighbourhood of Malta,

[ocr errors]

Calabria, and Naples. A full account of this interesting country would fill a volume. A brief account according to our plan, only can be given here.

Without entering into the fables of the poets, we may date its original history from the Sciani; from whom it passed into the possession of the Trojans and Greeks, who jointly inhabited it.

But those who are properly called Sici lians, and who gave the name of Sicily to the island, came from the adjacent continent; inhabited it for several centuries, and at length gave way to the Greeks and others. The Phoenicians also spread themselves along the coast, and in the islands adjacent, and formed small colonies for the benefit and convenience of their navigation and trade.

This island was the seat of many wars between the Romans and Carthaginians, until the overgrown power of the former

prevailed, and Sicily became a Roman province.

It has always been celebrated for its extraordinary fertility and interesting situation, and the different nations who have successively possessed it, have invariably considered it as a granary.

The climate is inviting, and the soil sa productive, that with little cultivation it produces all the necessaries of life in abundance. It was, in a peculiar manner, the granary of ancient Rome and Carthage, for corn, and still produces such an abundance of that essential article, that it continues to supply Naples, Malta, and several other parts of Italy with it.

Not vales only, but the hilly parts of this fertile island, are frequently covered to the very summits with verdure; the valleys and more level parts are exceedingly fruit-" ful; vineyards, olive trees, Indian corn, and all kinds of vegetables flourish, and a variety

of the finest fruits invite the traveller in every direction.

Though frequently intensely hot, the island is very healthful, the salubrity of the air purifying any noxious qualities which the heat may produce from corrupted vegetation. Their winter is so short and mild that it may rather be denominated a spring; chilling winds are seldom felt, but transient storms are frequently experienced during the months of February and March: and here I am forcibly reminded of the immi nent peril our ship and lives were exposed to during one of these storms; and would thankfully acknowledge an over-ruling Providence, who gave presence of mind, and rendered the means used effectual to rescue us all from our dreadful and apparently desperate situation.

The ship at anchor between Palermo and Messina, near the extraordinary volcanic islands of Stromboli and Volcano. And with respect to the wind, at least, judged to be in perfect safety for the night,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »