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On the 12th of July, the frigate sailed for Gibraltar, and anchored in the bay the same evening. On the 15th the Lively took charge of the convoy left by the Philomel, and sailed immediately for Malta ; the termination of which voyage is thus described.
" At 9 o'clock P. M. (Aug. 9th.) wind perfectly fair and a good breeze, we shall be in Valetta early to morrow. Friday, 10th. What uncertainty in this world! a few hours ago we had every prospect of being safely in bab.ur at Malta by day light, but contrary to every probability, or almost possibility, were wrecked this morning, or rather in the night between Thursday the 9th and Friday the 10th. It happened in St. Paul's Bay, Malta, where that Saint is said to have been also shipwrecked.
The ship was entirely lost, but the crew and some of their effects were saved.
The time during which they were obliged to wait at Malta for a passage to Sicily, was spent in examining all that is curious, and best worth seeing in that singular spot, which has been the object of so much contention during a period within the recollection of most of our readers. General Cockburn terminates his observations on this island by a brief historical sketch of that extraordinary society of men, the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, which he says was “ born and fostered under superstition, and religious madness.”
On the 29th of August, the author sailed for Messina, on board the Martha transport. He was off Catania on the morning of the Ist of September, with a full view of Mount Ætna ; and on the 2nd landed at Messina.
General Cockburn's appointment on the British staff enabled him to acquire the best information relative to the number and state of both the English and Sicilian armies, the strength of their positions, the actions between the English and French gunboats, which were constantly opposed to each other on the opposite shore of Sicily and Calabria ; and of the attack made on our army by a part of Murat's forces commanded by General Cavagniac, on the 18th of September, 1810. - Whatever was the object of this expedition sans exemple (as the French officers called it) it entirely failed: and the whole number of prisoners made and embarked for Malta was 41 officers and 900 men.” The enemy's camp on the opposite shore entirely broke up about the end of the month ; and General Cockburn was ordered, on the Ath of October, to take the command at Melazzo; but on the 24th of the same month, was obliged to quit the staff, on account of promotion.
Respecting this circumstance, he ob
Promotion, which in all other professions is an advantage, is often the contrary to the higher ranks
of the army and navy. Mine to Lieutetant General removed me from the Sicilian staff; but befo:e I heard of
it, Murat and his army broke up, and every idea of attack was over; it however left me at liberty to make the tour of this singular island. Hy situation and rank, as well as the kindness of our Commander-in-Chief, Sir John Swart, who assisted me in my undertaking, gave me facilities which few Sicilian travellers have had, and I must not forget my worthy friend, the Sicilian Governor, General Danero, who obliged me with his advice and recommendations.” Pref. p. viii.
General Cockburn sailed in a gun boat for Catania on the 7th of November, accompanied by Major Coghlan his aid-de-camp, Lieutenant Sweeny of the 62nd regiment, an orderly dragoon, and a cook (Pascal). On the 8th they arrived at Catania, and on the following day, set out on their expedition to the summit of Mount Ætna, attended by a guide from the village of Nicolosi. After climbing the side of the mountain, sometimes over vast masses of lava, and at others almost up to the middle in snow, they arrived at the bottom of the steep cone, the top of which they reached a little before noon.
« This part is all covered with loose ashes and cinders, but, from the heat of the volcano, there is no snow at present, though in December and January, it is covered within a yard or two of the mouth of the crater. Here the difficulty of ascending and the labor and fatigue are very great. The air is so pure and rarified that it affects the lungs, and we lost our breath every five minutes. We were obliged often to scramble on all fours, slipping down frequently many feet in the loose ashes, so very steep is this laiter part. The sudden view of this immense gulf is terrific ai first, and really past description. The day was most favorable, except
ther too much wind, which however blew from the crater. We were now amply repaid for the labor and delays of bad weather, and saw most distinctly the bottom of this wonderful and immense crater, which con. tains several minor mountains and their craters within it; some smoking like the most violent glass-house, or steam works. A descent into the crater, if the ground is as hard as it appears to be, would have been this day perfectly practicable; the crater often changes its form: on the side which we first approached, the descent was perpendicular, but the oppusite side went down by a gradual slope, Our time in these short days did not admit of the experiment, or I should have made it. vol. 1.
The following circumstance, however, we think would have made the stoutest tremble, when standing on the brink of this fiery gulf.
“ I sat down at the top (says General Cockburn,) to date three or four letters, which I had promised some particular friends, they should receive from this elevated and extraordinary spot ; I brought ink and paper for this purpose, as well as to note the degrees at which the thermometer stood at different heights as we ascended. I only wrote a line or two of my letters, which I finished at Nicolosi; but, while thus employed, we had a violent shock of an earthquake: I cannot describe the sensationi, particularly at the mouth of such a volcano. However, I dated my letters, and wrote a part of them, sanding them with the ashes, but not without feeling a little nervous. On stirring the loose ashes, the smoke
comes out, and the ground feels very hut, if scraped a little, so much so as to burn." vol. I. p. 138.
Having spent about an hour at the mouth of the crater, and collected various specimens of volcanic matter, the party de. scended, and reached the Convent of Nicolosi, after fifteen hours of extreme toil, and without having had any refreshment, except a little bread and onion.
Gen. C. sailed from Catania on the 16th, with a fair wind, for Syracuse ; which he reached late the same night. After spend. ing some days in visiting the objects most worthy of attention, in this celebrated town and its vicinity, among which are the Fountain of Arethusa, the Ear of Dionysius, the ancient Theatre, the Convent of the Capuchins, the Grecian Aqueduct, and the excavations in the vicinity, he returned to Catania ; visiting Augusta in his passage. Having spent another week at Catania, he proceeded to Lingua Grossa, and thence to Franca Villa, Taorminum, Palma, Scaletta, and Messina. He remained at Messina till the end of January, when he visited Melazzo, and the Lipari islands. He went next to Tindari and Rometta ; thence he proceeded to Palermo, where he arrived on the 14th of March. He left the latter place in the following month, and proceeded to the ancient Segesta, and Trapani, situated at the western extremity of the island. From this place he coasted along the southern shore, visiting Mazzara, the ancient Temples at Selinus, the city of Gergenti, and the Ruins of Agrigentum.
On the evening of the 17th of April, the author left Sicily for Malta, in a gun-boat, but on the 19th, when they were within sight of that island, contrary winds and stormy weather obliged them to put back, and run for the coast of Sicily, where they struck on rocks near the harbour of Scoglietta, a wretched fishing village, which carries on some smuggling trade with Malta.
When the storm ceased, the gun-boat was got on shore, and repaired through the assistance
of the English consul at Vittoria. Our author, however, impatient of delay, took his passage on board a sparenaros for Malta ; but when within 20 miles of that island, they were driven back by contrary winds, and he returned once more to Scoglietta, after being nearly lost On the 27th, he finally left Sicily, and reached Malta, where he remained three weeks, and examined such things as the shortness of his former visit did not permit him to do before. On the 14th of the following month (May, he embarked on board the Freya frigate, touched at Gibraltar on the 29th, and arrived at Lisbon on the 2nd of June. After spending some time at Lisbon, and visiting much of what was worthy of particular
attention in its neighbourhood, Gen C. made an excursion to Torres Vedras, Vimiera, Sabral, and Franca Villa, and returned thence down the Tagus to Lisbon. On the 23d of June, he sailed from Lisbon on board the Diadem, commanded by Captain Phillimore, and arrived at Portsmouth on the 18th of July.
Having given this brief sketch of our author's route, it may be necessary to observe, that his work is written in the form of a journal, and appears to have been principally composed at the time and on the spot where the occurrences took place, and the reflections presented themselves. This method possesses the advantage of enabling the reader to attend the traveller more closely in his progress from place to place, and to become, perhaps, more familiar with the scenes and localities he describes. The work is, in general, written in an easy and perspicuous style, but not without a mixture of negligent expres. sions, and a few repetitions and vulgarisms. It is accompanied by an appendix, embracing remarks on a variety of subjects, more or less connected with the principal object of the work itself. The author has also subjoined a map of Sicily, and of the streights of Messina, with a plan of Franca Villa, and of the battle between the Spaniards and Austrians, in 1719. He has also added a series of well executed Vignettes and views, which confer much additional value on the work, and afford a lively and striking idea of the beautiful and romantic scenery, which almost every where meets the traveller's sight in these volcanic Islands.
The Vignettes are a view of the sea-coasts of Sindari, of Gibraltar, of the point of Ceuta, and of the Temple of the Giants at Gergenti.
The views in the first volume embrace Fort Gonzago, Bird's eye view of Messina, Scylla, Scaletta, Great Crater of Mount Etna, Etna from the Biscaris Garden, Catania and Etna from the sea, topography of Etna and Lingua Grossa, country at Taorminum and Mola; Taorminum with a distant view of Etna, Fort and Pass at St. Alessio, profile view of Scaletta and Volcano, castle of Lipari, Volcano from the baths of Lipari, winter view of Etna by moonlight, Rometta, and convent of St. Martin. Those in the second volume are Monte Pellegrino, temple of Segesta, Gergenti, Cape St. Vincent, Cintra, distant view of Etna, Murat's camp and Flotilla, Stromboli, and Castiglione from Franca Villa. : We shall now make a few extracts on detached subjects. The following shows the want of cordiality which subsisted between the court of Palermo and the English, and exhibits in the most
striking light the apathy of the Sicilian government in defending the country, when the enemy was encamped within sight of its shores, and even had actually made a descent upon its coast.
“ The situation of the commander of the forces was certainly one of difficulty; for he did not meet with that assistance and cordiality from the court of Palerino, which he had a right to expect. Not even one regiment of infantry did the king contribute to the defence of this his last slake: a regiment of cavalry (the Val de Noto) and a division of Sicilian gun-boats (but ratiuned by England) was all the aid we could obtain. The repairs of the fortifications at Syracuse, Augusta, Melazzo, and Trapani, were defra, ed by England Every remonstrance from our minister Lord Amless, or fr m Sir John Stirart, was useless." Vol. i. p. 101.
The properties of the prickly pear tree, and the use made of it by the inhabitants of Mount Etna, to pulverise the hardest masses of lava, and change them into a fruitful soil, is very curious; and powerfully evinces the resources which nature possesses for altering the very constitution of her productions.
“The prickiy pear has a peculiar quality; it absolutely changes the lava, in a manner, breaks it up, and, in process of time, pulverises it, though ever so hard; and then it forms the most luxuriant soil. They bring a little earth to any crevice of the lava, and plant a prickly pear tree; it spreads and splits the rocks in about seven years; a thick plantation is formed, and a very little earth being addel, in about ten years inore it is nearly pulverised for some inches in depth, so as to give a good soil" vol. i. p. 163.
The following is a specimen of kingly amusement in those countries, in defence of which so much British money and blood have been spent; and it can be exceeded in barbarous cruelty only by those tyrannical acts which the King of Spain has exercised towards many of his most meritorious subjects since his return from France.
“The am.sements of hunting, shooting, or fishing, appear to have alwayı formed the principal, and almost only, source of pleasure, for King Ferdinand: his relation, the late king of Spain, was equally attached to it. So far had they carried this muniu, that I know from undoubted 41thority, there was formerly a regular weekly intercourse, by special messengers, carried on between the courts of Naples and Madrid, with an account of the slaughter of game, and the feats of these monarchs in the field. Perhaps they were better employed in this animal destruction, than in human slaughter.".
"The mode of hunting is, however, quite different from ours: hundreds of peasants drive the game from the wonds into certain open parts; his Majesty stands within a railed fence, half a dozen men load for hiin, and he fires away, right and left, as fast as he can. In very bad weasher, they have otien collecred a strange medley into a large riding house, consisting of wolves, foxes, buais, dogs, cats, pigs, goats, deer, &c.; alsovwls, pigeons, haws, wild ducks, partridges, crows, &c. The animals in this promiscuous state begin a general tight, while the monarchi, tromra gallery, fires a: them till they are all destroyed, duignoble and copyardly pastime!" vol, i, p: 418