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LETTER LXVI.

Naples: THE

He tomb of Virgil is on the mountain of Pausilippo, a little above the grotto of that name ; you ascend to it by a narrow path which runs through a vineyard ; it is over. grown with ivy leaves and shaded with branches, shrubs, and bushes; an ancient bay-tree, with infinite propriety, overhangs it. Many a solitary walk have I taken to this place. The earth, which contains his ashes, we expect to find clothed in the brightest verdure. Viewed from the magic spot, the objects which adorn the bay become doubly interesting. The poet's verses are here recollected with additional pleasure ; the verses of Virgil are interwoven in our minds with a thousand interesting ideas, with the memory of our boyish years, or the sportive scenes of childhood, of our earliest friends and companions, many of whom are now dead; and those who still live, and for whom we retain the first impression of affection, are at such a distance as renders the hopes of seeing them again very uncertain. No wonder, therefore, when in a contemplative mood, that our steps are often directed to a spot so well calculated to create and cherish sentiments congenial with the state of our mind. But then comes an antiquarian, who, with his odious doubts, disturbs the pleasing source of our enjoyment; and from the fair and delightful fields of fancy, conveys us in a moment to a dark, barren, and comfortless desert ;-he doubts, whether this be the real place where the ashes of Virgil were deposited ; and tells us an unsatisfactory story about the other side of the bay, and that he is rather inclined to believe that the poet was buried somewhere there, without fixing on any particular spot.

Would to heaven these doubters would keep their minds to themselves, and not ruffle the tranquillity of believers !

But, after all, why should not this be the real tomb of Virgil ? Why should the enthusiasts, who delight in pilgrimages to this spot, be deprived of that pleasure? Why should the poet's ghost be allowed to wander along the dreary banks of Styx, till the antiquarians erect a cenotaph in his honour ? Even they acknowledge that he was buried on this bay, and near Naples; and tradition has fixed on this spot, which, exclusive of other presumptions, is a much stronger evidence in its favour than their vague conjectures against it.

In your way to the classic fields of Baia and Cumæ, you pass through the grotto of Pausilippo, a subterraneous passage through the mountain, near a mile in length, about twenty feet in breadth, and thirty or forty in height, every where, except at the two extremities, where it is much higher. People of fashion generally drive through this passage with torches, but the country people and foot passengers tind their way without much difficulty by the light which enters at the extremities, and at two holes pierced through the mountain near the middle of the grotto, which admit light from above.

Mr. Addison tells us, that the cornmon people of Naples in his time believed that this passage through the mountain was the work of magic, and that Virgil was the magician. But this is the age of scepticism ; and the common people, in imitation of people of fashion, begin to harbour doubts concerning all their old-established opinions. A Neapolitan valet-de-place asked an English gentleman lately, Whether Signior Virgilio, of whom he had heard so much, had really, and bona fide, been a magician or not? • A magician,' replied the Englishman;

ay, that he was, and a very great magician too. • And do you,' resumed the valet, • believe it was he who pierced this rock ?". As for this particular rock,' answer. ed the master, I will not swear to it from my own knowledge, because it was done before I was born ; but I am ready to make oath, that I have known him pierce, and even melt, some very obdurate substances.'

Two miles beyond the Grotta di Pausilippo, is a: circular lake, about half a mile in diameter, called Lago d'Agnano; on whose margin is situated the famous Grotta del Cane, where so many dogs have been tortured and suffocated, to shew the effect of a vapour which rises about a foot above the bottom of this little cave, and is destructive of animal life. A dog having his head held in this vapour, is convulsed in a few minutes, and soon after falls to the earth motionless. This experiment is repeated for the amusement of every unfeeling person, who has half a crown in his pocket, and affects a turn for natural philosophy. The experiment is commonly made on dogs ; because they, of all animals, show the greatest affection for man, and prefer his company to that of their own species, or of any other living creature. The fellows who attend at this cave have always some miserable dogs, with ropes about their necks, ready for this cruel purpose. If the poor animals were unconscious of what was to happen, it would be less affecting ; but they struggle to get free, and show every symptom of horror when they are dragged to this cave of torment. I should have been happy to have taken the effect of the vapour for granted, without a new trial ; but some of the company were of a more philosophical turn of mind than I have any pretensions to. When the unhappy animal found all his efforts to escape were ineffectual, he seemed to plead for mercy by the dumb eloquence of looks, and the blandishments natural to his species. While he licked the hand of his keeper, the unrelenting wretch dashed him a blow, and thrust his head into the murderous vapour.

When the real utility of the knowledge acquired by cruel experiments on animals (a practice which has been carried to dreadful lengths of late) is fairly stated, and compared with the exquisiteness of their sufferings, the benefit resulting to mankind from thence will seem too dearly bought in the eyes of a person of humanity. Humanity ! If language had belonged to other animals besides man, might not they have chosen that word to expresscruelty ? if they had, thank God, they would have done injustice to many of the human race. I have left the poor dog too long in the vapour ; much longer than he remained in reality. The duke of Hamilton, shocked at the fellow's barbarity, wrested the dog from his hands, bore him to the open air, and gave him life and liberty; which he seemed to enjoy with all the bounding rapture of gladness and gratitude. If you should ever come this way, pray do not insist on seeing the experiment; it is not worth while ; the thing is ascertained ; it is beyond a doubt that this vapour convulses and kills every breathing animal.

You come next to the favourite fields of fancy and poetical fiction. The Campi Phlegrei, where Jupiter overcame the giants; the solfaterra still smoking, as if from the effects of his thunder ; the Monte Nova, which was thrown suddenly from the bowels of the earth, as if the sons of Titan had intended to renew the war; the Monte Barbaro, formerly Mons Gaurus, the favourite of Bacchus; the grotto of the Cumxan Sibyl ; the noxious and gloomy lakes of Avernus and Acheron; and the green bowers of Elysium.

The town of Puzzoli, and its environs, present such a number of objects, worthy of the attention of the antiquarian, the natural philosopher, and the classic scholar, that to describe all with the minuteness they deserve, would fill volumes.

The temple of Jupiter Serapis at Puzzoli, is accounted a very interesting monument of antiquity ; being quite different from the Roman and Greek temples, and built in the manner of the Asiatics, probably by the Egyptian and Asiatic merchants settled at Puzzoli, which was the great emporium of Italy, until the Romans built Ostia and Antium.

Sylla having abdicated the dictatorship, retired and passe ed the remainder of his life in this city.

The ruins of Cicero's villa, near this city, are of such extent, as to give a high idea of the wealth of this great orator. Had fortune always bestowed her gifts with so much propriety, she never would have been accused of

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blindness. When the truly great are blessed with riches, it affords pleasure to every candid mind. Neither this villa near Puzzoli, that at Tusculum, nor any of his other country-seats, were the scenes of idleness or riot. They are distinguished by the names of the works he composed there; works which have always been the delight of the learned, and which, still more than the important services he rendered his country when in office, have contributed to immortalize his name.

The bay between Puzzoli and Baia is about a league in breadth. In crossing this in a boat, you see the ruins called Ponte di Caligula, from their being thought the remains of a bridge which Caligula attempted to build across. They are by others, with more probability, thought to be the ruins of a mole built with arches. Having pass. ed over this gulf, a new field of curiosities presents itself. The baths and prisons of Nero, the tomb of Agrippina, the temples of Venus, of Diana, and of Mercury, and the ruins of the ancient city of Cumæ; but no vestiges now remain of many of those magnificent villas which adorned this luxurious coast, nor even of the town of Baia. The whole of this beauteous bay, formerly the seat of pleasure, and, at one period, the most populous spot in Italy, is now very thinly inhabited ; and the contrast is still stronger between the ancient opulence and present poverty, than between the numbers of its ancient and present inhabitants. It must be acknowledged, that we can hardly look around us, in any part of this world, without perceiving objects which, to a contemplative mind, convey reflections on the instability of grandeur, and the sad vicissitudes and reverses to which human affairs are liable ; but here those objects are so numerous, and so striking, that they must make an impression on the most careless passenger.

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