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by the earthquake of 1782, were all objects highly interesting, which lay in our very track.
IMMEDIATELY after the squall, which, though long and severe, was in a favorable direction for us, the weather became nearly calm, and our ship, gliding majestically along during the whole of a night, luminous as day, we were gratified with the sight of Etna and Strombolo ejecting volumes of smoke, which, rising perpendicularly to a certain height, struck off as it were at right angles, and were borne by the gentle breeze in a horizontal direction, until they were confounded and lost in the common atmosphere.
The delightful prospect which presented itself in the morning can be but faintly described---The softest zephyrs urged on our steady bark---the purest atmosphere surrounded us; and every object was distinguished through its medium without disguise.The bold foreground of Sicily, backed by the tremendous heights of Etna, whose blackened column of smoke was still visible, presented a magnificent object on our right---the Lipari islands, projecting here and there from the glassy ocean, chearfully green, and enlivened by feluccas and fishing boats, attracted our admiration on the left; and the bluff shore of Italy, against which we seemed to proceed, uniting, as it were, to the bluffer promontory at the entrance of the Faro, obliterated all trace of its
opening, until a near approach gradually exposed to our enquiring eyes the lovely passage so often mentioned by the classic poets. I call it lovely; for nothing could exceed the beauty or tranquillity of those straits when I passed them : they are about thirty miles in length ; and in some places about twelve, but at the narrowest part not more than one mile and a half, in breadth. ---The dangers of the whirlpool Charybdis, formed by a ridge of rocks, situated near the projecting point of land called Il Braccio di Santo Renieri, and so often sung by the Latin poets, are infinitely less than they have been supposed ; and, excepting when a particular wind sets in against the spring-tide, they can be avoided by the simple efforts of a few rowers on board the small vessels sometimes hired for the purpose of approaching this renowned object of apprehension..
The rock Scylla, of equal celebrity, but threatening no greater misfortunes at present, constitutes part of a promontory near Reggio, on the Calabrian shore, called Coda del Volpe, and is opposite to Cape Peloro, which projects from the Sicilian shore. Whether the accidents which may be supposed to have excited the idea of Scylla and Charybdis' being dangerous to mariners, were owing to ignorance in the art of navigation that formerly prevailed, or whether these accidents ever occurred, is not
fears which have been entertained, in regard to them, had their chief foundation in the exaggerated statements of poetical fancy.
A few miles from the entrance of the straits, on the Sicilian shore, is the town of Messina ; which, in spite of the ravages of earthquakes, and its vicinity to the ever-menacing Etna, is beautifully inviting. The capacious harbour, where ships of any burthen may lie close to the quay, is perhaps the best and most secure of all those the Mediterranean can boast. The semicircular row of houses and palaces near it; the extensive mole, in form of a sickle, upon which is built the castle ; the lighthouse and shipping ; the streets descending from the hill, where the Capucins' convent forms a most interesting object, and at the foot of which is the chief part of the town-all blended together afford a most enchanting prospect.
The trade in corn, wine, fruits, oil, tobacco, and silks, is very considerable ; and the number of vessels of all descriptions which we saw in the port, gave us an idea of the opulence of the island, computed to be about six hundred and twenty miles in circumference.
Few countries have undergone a greater variety of changes, or have been subject to a greater variety of masters, than Sicily. It was anciently called Siconia and Sicilia, from the Sicani and
Siculi who inhabited it, and Trinacria, from its triangular form. The most remote accounts, however, state it to have been inhabited by the Cyclopes and Læstrigones; but the latter have been thought the Sicani who came from Spain ; and the Siculi were a tribe of Ligurians, who possessed the government of the island but a short time before they were expelled by a colony of Greeks, who, in their turn, made way for Trojan conquerors. The ruin of Troy having involved the fate of their colonies, the Greeks again asserted their authority over Sicily. During the first Punic war, and also during the reign of Augustus, Rome sent various parties to colonise this fertile and favorite spot ; which continued subject to the Emperor of Constantinople until the year 428, when the Goths, Vandals, and Lombards, poured their barbarous hordes into it, and maintained their power until the great but unfortunate Belisarius drove them from it in the year 445.
In the seventh century, it is reported to have been taken by the Saracens; who were afterwards compelled to submit to the victorious efforts of the Normans, and these to more successful Germans. Pope Clement the Fifth succeeded in expelling the latter, and favored the political projects of the French under Charles Duke of Anjou. In the year 1282, the horrible massacre, which has been conveyed to us by the name of “ The Sicilian Vespers," exterminated every Frenchman then on the island, which became subject to Arragon, and remained in that state until the kingdom of Sicily was transferred to the house of Austria in the time of Charles the Fifth. At the peace of Utrecht Sicily was ceded to Victor Duke of Savoy; who found himself, in a few years afterwards, compelled by the Emperor Charles the Sixth to relinquish it, and accept Sardinia as an equivalent. A sudden attempt of the Spaniards to recover the island was frustrated by the activity and vigilance of our Admiral, Sir George Byng, afterwards Lord Torrington, who, in the year 1718, destroyed their fleet; but at length the Infant Don Carlos drove the Germans out, and was crowned at Palermo king of the two Sicilies. When he passed into Spain for the purpose of taking possession of the crown, he transferred the Siciliàn dominions to his son Ferdinand the Third of Sicily, and Fourth of Naples; in whose family it has since remained.
We could not avoid, regretting that the favorable wind soon conducted us beyond the limits of these beautiful straits, and that the Archipelago we now entered promised us no similar gratification. Serene weather, however, and the variety of islands which we daily observed, compensated greatly for the charming prospects we had quitted, and shortly engrossed our whole attention. The first considerable point of land we made was Cape Matapan ; from whence, continuing in a north-east direction, we passed the fine island of Cerigo, formerly called