Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

1717, N. 8.

ger. The Hills are the greater Part covered to the
258 Memoirs of the Life and Writings
After the Dean had vifited many Parts of Italy, at
last going on the Illand Inarine, he fends Mr. Pope
the following Letter from Naples, dated O&tober 22,
IL
HAVE long had it in my Thoughts to trouble

you with a Letter, but was difcourag’d for Want. of something worth sending fifteen hundred Miles. Italy 'is such an exhausted Subject, that I dare say, you'd easily forgive my saying nothing of it; and the Imagination of a Poet, is a Thing so nice and delicate, that it is no easy Matter to find out Images capable of giving Pleasure to one of the few, who (in any Age) have come up to that Character. I am nevertheless lately return'd from an Ifland, where I pass’d three or four Months, which, were it set out in its true Colours, might methinks amufe you agreeably enough for a Minute or two. The Island Inarine is an Epitome of the whole Earth, containing, within the Compass of eighteen Miles, a wonderful Variety of Hills, Vales, ragged Rocks, fruitful Plains, and barren Mountains, all thrown together in a most romantick Confufion. 'The Air is in the hottest Seafon constantly refreshed by cool Breezes from the Sea. The Vales produce excellent Wheat and Indian Corn, but are mostly covered with Vineyards, intermixt with Fruit-Trees. Besides the common Kinds, as Cherries, Apricots, Peaches, &c. they produce Oranges, Limes, Almonds, Pomegranates, Figs, Water-Melons, and many other Fruits unknown to our Climates, which lie open to the Paffen

1

Top with Vines, fome with Chesnut Groves, and others with Thickets of Myrtle and Lentiscus. The Fields in the Northern Side are divided by Hedgerows of Myrtle. Several Fountains and Rivulets

add

add to the Beauty of this Landscape, which is set off by the Variety of some barren Spots and naked Rocks. But that which crowns the Scene, is a large Mountain, rising out of the Middle of the Illand (once a terrible Volcano, by the Antients called Man Epomeus) it's lower Parts are adorn'd with Vines, and other Fruits, the Middle affords Pasture to Flocks of Gosts and Sheep, and the Top is a fandy pointed Rock, from which you have the finest Prospect in the World, furveying at one View, besides several pleafant Iands lying at your Feet, a Tract of Italy about three hundred Miles in length, from the Promontory of Antium, to the Cape of Palinurus, The greater Part of which hath been sung by Homer and Virgil, as making a confiderable Part of the Travels and Adventures of their two Heroes. The Iands Caprea, Prechyta, and Parthenope, together-with Gajeta, Cuma, Monte Mifeno, the Habitations of Circe, the Syrens, and the Leftrygones, the Bay of Naples, the Promontory of Minerva, and the whole Campagnia Felice, make but a Part of this noble Landscape; which would demand an Imagination as warm, and Numbers as flowing as your own, to defcribe it. The Inhabitants of this delicious The, as they are without Riches and Honours, fo are they without the Vices and Follies that attend them; and were they but as much Strangers to Revenge, as they are to Avarice or Ambition, they might in fact answer the poetical Notions of the Golden Age. But they have got, as an Allay to their Happiness, an ill Habit of murdering one another on Night Offences. We had an Instance of this the second Night after our Arrival ;- a Youth of eighteen being shot dead by our Door: And yet by the sole Secret of minding

our own Business, we found a Means of living fecurely among these dangerous People.

People. Would you

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

S2

know

know how we pass the Time át Naples? Our chief Entertainment is the Devotion of our Neighbours. Besides the Gaiety of their Churches (where Folks go to see what they call una bella devotione (i, e. a Şort of religious Opera) they make Fireworks almost every Week, out of Devotion; the Streets are often hung with Arras, out of Devotion; and (what is fill more strange) the Ladies invite Gentlemen to their Houfes, and treat them with Musick and Sweetmeats, out of Devotion ; in a Word, were it not for this Devotion of it's Inhabitants, Naples would have little else to recommend it, beside the Air and Situation. Learning is in no very thriving State here, as indeed no where else in Italy. However, among many Pretenders, some Men of Taițe are to be met with. A Friend of mine told me not long fince, that being to visit Salvini at Florence, he found him reading your Homer. He lik'd the Notes extremely, and could find no other Fault with the Verfion, but that he thought it approached too near a Paraphrale; which shews him not to be fufficiently acquainted with our Language. I wish you Health to go on with that noble Work, and when you have, I need not wish you Success. You will do me the Juftice to believe, that whatever relates to your Welfare is fincerely wished, 'by

Yours, &c. ter

This Letter awaked a new Desire in Mr. Popeoffeeing the Kingdoms, Principalities, Commonwealths, and Islands of Italy, and the following Spring was named for the Expedition, but it ended like his Design of going the Year before to Mr. Jervas toʻIreland, for he was visited with Sickness, and was not in a Condition to pafs Seas and Mountains, when he had in 'a Manner fix'd a Resolution to go, and

fay's

fays to Mr. feruasa Poor Poetry! tbe little that's "left of it here longs to cross the Seas, and leave Euf-. $den in full and peaceable. Pofesion of the British 6 Laurel."

Before the next Spring, instead of, going to Italy, he went to settle at Twickenham, and so busy and particular he was in every Thing, that he said himself, the History of his Transplantation and Settlement, would require a Volume, if he was to enumerate the many Projects, Difficulties, and various Fates attending that part of his Life, here he past, an entire Year of his Life without any fix'd Abode in London, or more than passing a Day or two in a Month at moft in Town, so that he was chiefly in his Closet, and if he prepared nothing there for publick View, this Year makes almost a Blank in his Life.

Methinks the Moralists and Philosophers have generally-run too much into Extremes in commending intirely either Solitude, or publick Life. In the foriner, Men for the most part grow useless by too inuch Reft, and in the lattes are destroyed by too much Precipitation; as Waters lying still, putrify and are good for nothing, and running violently on do 'but the more Mischief in their Passage to others, and are {wallowed up and loft the sooner themselves. Those indeed who can be useful to all States, should be like gentle Streams, that not only glide thro' lonely Valleys and Forests amidst the Flocks and the Shepherds, but visit populous Towns in their Course, and are at once of Ornament and Service to them. But there are another Sort of People who seem design'd for SoJitude, such I imean, as have more to hide than to fhow: As for my own Part, I am of those of whom Seneca says, Tam umbratiles funt, ut putent in turbido effe quicquid in luce:eft. Some Men, like some Pictures, are fitter for a Corner than a full Light; and

I believe fuch have a natural Bent to Solitude (to care ry on the former Similitude) are like Waters which may be forced into Fountains, and exalted into a great Height, may make a noble Figure and a louder Noise, but after all they would run more smoothly, quietly and plentifully, in their own natural Course upon the Ground. The Confideration of this would make me very well contented with the Poffeffion only of that Quiet which Cowley calls the Companion of Obfcurity... "

Good God! What an incongrous Animal is Man? How unsettled is his beft Part, his Soul; and how changing and variable in his Frame of Body? The Constancy of the one thook by every Notion, the Temperament of the other affected by every Blast of Wind! What is Man altogether but one mighty Inconfiftency ! Sickness and Pain is the Lot of one half of us ; Doubt and- Fear the Portion of the other! What a Bustle we make about passing our Time, when all our Space is but a Point? What Aims and Ambitions are crouded into this little Inftant of our Life, which (as Shakespear finely words it) is Rounded with a Sleep?

Thele Exclamations and Queries are Mr. Pope's, and whoever thinks in this Train, muft see the whole World and all its contemptible Grandeurs lellen before him at every Thought. 'Tis enough to make one remain in a Poize of Inaction void of all Desires, of all Defigns and Atchievements whatever.

But we must return (thro' our very narrow Con dition of Being) to our narrow selyes, and those Things that affect ourselves : Our Passions, our Interests flow in upon us, and unphilofophize us into mere Mortals.'

But these Reflections suit but ill for the Times ar bout which we are writing: For soon after this the

South

« ZurückWeiter »