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outwardly an amiable submission to my fate, I
determined at the same time to keep secretly
on the watch, and to take the very first
chance of outwitting Doctor Knapton that
might happen to present itself. When we
next met, I was perfectly civil to him; and
he congratulated me politely on the improvement
for the better in my manners and


IT was a wild gusty night, and we stood
on the deck of the Thabor, watching the
flame-breathings of Stromboli, as the volcano
seemed to sigh and throb like a living thing.
At last we dropped off reluctantly one by
one, and lay, wave-rocked, in our berths
till morning, when the ship cast anchor at

I shall not soon forget that morning. It
was so soft and cloudless, so bright and still.
Not a ripple disturbed the waters in
their luxurious sleep as we pulled
noiselessly on shore, and the spray-drops, falling
from our sluggish oars, glistened in the
sunshine like molten jewels. It was a
welcome change of scene, doubly loveable
when we remembered the solitary mount of
fire, and the moaning of the solemn encircling
sea we had looked upon a few short hours

We land, and follow a rickety elderly guide
whithersoever he leads us. Barring a little
delirium tremens, with a national objection
to cold water and towels, he seems a decent
sort of body. I perceive for some time,
indeed, that he is uncertain how to treat us,
not knowing whether we may be disposed
to banter or admire: but his ready service
and evident anxiety to please might win even
a churl; so I am glad to see, at last, that the
nervous tremble of his hand abates; his
eager watchful eyes become more settled in
their expression; he gives way to the natural
weariness of age, and takes his ease with us.
Firstly, he proceeds dozingly up a number of
broad but broken stone steps to the Church
of St. Giorgio, which stands upon a hill
overlooking the sea. It is a handsome building,
with a fine grand old catholic air of vastness
and solemnity about it. The walls are
enriched with some valuable specimens of
marble and mosaic-work. A pretty boy, a
chorister, noticing that I stoop to examine
them more closely, brings a lighted taper on
a stick, and holds it near the stone till I can
see every intricate winding in the webbed
veins of it. On a small wooden table near
the altar, but without the rails, is a dirty
black tray; in it stand a plain bronze hand-
bell, and two little glass vessels shaped like
French coffee-pots, with long swan-necked
spouts and rounded handles; both are of
the same size, and one contains water,
the other wine. Their homeliness accords
ill with the pictured roof, the lofty arches,
the sculptured splendour of the church.
Some ancient silver candlesticks, quaint and
tall, are concealed under blue cotton covers
of a gay pattern; so is the altar-piece. The
chorister takes them off for a trifling fee, and
again holds up his taper, that I may see the
crown of St. Giorgio. As our acquaintance
ripens, he shows me also the marble effigy of
a monk, and a picture of the Virgin with a
halo of gilded metal round her head, let into
the canvas. There are a few other pictures;
poor frameless daubs nailed on to the wall.
They are curious as commemorating divers
recent and miraculous interpositions of
Divine Providence in the private affairs of
certain burghers of Messina.

Three young priests enter the church as I
turn away. They are swift and stealthy of
step; they are not on good terms with
themselves, but their shaven faces are endowed
with all the romantic fallen beauty of Italy,
and in every line you may trace that high
and thoughtful intellect which has been often
warped and turned so grievously astray.
Their voices sound hollow but pleasant as
they speak together in undecided
conversational tones, which mingle with the silence
rather than break it. I cannot readily
understand why I feel an irrepressible
sentiment of pity as I think about them.

It is early morning, about seven o'clock
so that there are few worshippers; but I
notice among them two figures, which tell
the eternal tale of woman's tenderness and
trusting faith. One is a pale deformed lad,
apparently just recovered from an illness; he
sits cross-legged, turning about his fingers, in
a manner which is, I think, peculiar to the
hopeless sick, and watching the motes in a
beam of light which falls athwart the temple.
But his mother, on bended knees prays
fervently beside him. There is no need to ask
for whomGod bless all women!

When we come out of the church we lean
upon a worn stone balcony, and gaze down
over the city.

Ancient of days, fair Zankle likened to a
sickle! What a throng of schoolboy memories
wake summoned at the name. It was
a right populous and wealthy town of the
red-handed Mamertini. It was the first
place in Sicily which fell before the conquering
legions of old Rome. It was seized by
the rover Normans. It defied the beleaguering
host of Charles of Anjou, who besieged it
after the Sicilian Vespers. It was fortified
by Charles the Fifth, but unfurled the flag
of revolt against mighty Spain of sixteen
hundred and seventy-four. It was peculiarly
the victim of pestilence; its population was
nearly annihilated by the great plague of
seventeen hundred and forty-three. And it
has lost thirty thousand persons by cholera.

Yonder stands the Norman cathedral, a
gloomy pile, with its heavy gothic architecture,
dilapidated by the shock of many an

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