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SONNET. THE CUCKOO ON ETNA.
UPWARDS o'er frozen and o'er fiery slopes
Struggling, to Etna's burning peak we passed By night; and for requital of the hopes That waited on the adventure, stood, aghast, Upon the crater's unsubstantial ridge, Over a quaking gulf, that path or bridge Tamely endures not. Yet, as from that cone Pernicious we descended, fragrance born Of sunshine, and the jocund April morn, For sulphurous exhalations did atone: And, chief of all, I hailed the gladness thrown By the first cuckoo of the budding year I ever chanced in foreign climes to hear, Dread Mongibello,* o'er thy woodland zone.
* The local name of Etna.
bid them take away your wretched stuff called tea; I'll treat you to a cup of mine—they can't impose on me: You never catch me at a loss, for still, where'er I go, I make a rule of roughing it as travellers should do.
Sir! self-protection is a law that governs all mankind; 'Tis in these little things you see the gentleman re
fined. 'Tis by their nice resources you may tell the chosen
few Who make a point of roughing it as wise men always do.
I've got the new preventative to take midst heaving
surges; Perfumes, and sweetmeats, spice, liqueurs, and sauces
sold by Burgess; The recipes of Madame Starke, and blue pills one or
For I make a point of roughing it as travellers should do. These things go in a nutshell, Sir ! id est, my own
voiture; The poet says, a nutshell 'twas Queen Mab rode in of
yore. Aha! you take the joke I see; the thought is quaint
And proves that I love roughing it as travellers ought
And then I've got a patent steam machine to boil
potatoes, That neatly packs within a new flea-catching apparatus ; And best of all I've got—but are you going, Sir?
Adieu ! (Piano) To-morrow I shall have these rooms now
occupied by you(Forte) O, I make a point of roughing it as travellers
ought to do.
Catania, May, 1844.
SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS.
EXTRACT FROM MANUSCRIPT JOURNAL.
HE day after leaving Catania we spent a delight
ful morning in the contemplation of the antiquities and wonderful scenery of Taormina, and nce came on to Messina. I do not like to quit Sicily without a word respecting Scylla and Charybdis. I have been twice at Messina, which is in their immediate neighbourhood, but on neither occasion have I been able to explore them carefully, though I have been on sailing excursions about the strait in a small boat, and have twice passed through it in a steam vessel. Scylla is a castle-crowned rock, and of course, perfectly well identified. The whole locality is extremely picturesque. Respecting Charybdis some uncertainty exists. Some
say it is the eddy called the Garofalo off Messina lighthouse; others, that it is the strong eddy off the Faro of Messina, nearly opposite Scylla, ten miles off. But the entire strait is full of eddies, and this makes its navigation at all times somewhat precarious. During our stay at Messina my companions sailed over to Scylla, but it blew so hard that they could not attempt to land. One of them told me on his return that he had heard the breakers make an unusually loud noise against the rocks. He therefore, as well as Ulysses, must be admitted to have heard the barking of Scylla's enchanted dogs. But similar sounds are to be heard on every bold coast in bad weather. It is most likely that the terrors of Scylla and Charybdis are as great now as ever they were ; nor do the fabulous exaggerations of Homer and Virgil show any thing to the contrary. Owing probably to the pious awe with which their religious feelings invested
every natural object, the ancient poets differ in this from the moderns, that they have left us scarcely any descriptions of natural scenery, divested of fable, and treated subjectively, in the spirit of modern idyls, in which the supposition is, that the poet is on the spot, and speaking in his own person. But the ancients are rich in epic and dramatic narration, put into the mouth of persons supposed to be at a distance from the place of which they are speaking; and in such narrations, descriptions may be introduced so as to be unexceptionable, although they may not convey correct ideas of the localities to which they refer. In our own language we have a strong instance of this. Shakspeare's well-known description of Dover cliff neither conveys