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REV. DEAN' BERKELEY TO MR. POPE.
Naples, Oct. 22, N. S. 1717.
I Have long had it in my thoughts to trouble you with a letter, but was discouraged for want of something that I could think 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 returned from an island, where I passed three or four months; which, were it set out in its true colours, might, methinks, amuse you agreeable enough for a minute or two. The island Inarime 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 romantic confusion. The air is in the hottest season constantly refreshed by cool breezes from the sea. The vales produce excellent wheat and Indian corn, but are mostly covered with vineyards intermixed with fruit-trees. Besides the common kinds, as cherries, apricots, peaches, etc. they produce oranges,
8 Afterward Bishop of Cloyne in Ireland, Author of the Dialogues of Hylas and Philonous, the Minute Philosopher, etc. W.
limes, almonds, pomegranates, figs, water-melons, and many other fruits unknown to our climates, which lie every-where open to the passenger. The hills are the greater part covered to the top with vines, some with chesnut groves, and others with thickets of myrtle and lentiscus. The fields in the northern side are divided by hedge-rows of myrtle. Several fountains and rivulets add to the beauty of this landscape, which is likewise 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 island (once a terrible Volcano, by the ancients called Mons Epomeus); its lower parts are adorned with vines, and other fruits; the middle affords pasture to flocks of goats and sheep, and the top is a sandy pointed rock, from which you have the finest prospect in the world, surveying, at one view, besides several pleasant islands 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 considerable part of the travels and adventures of their two heroes. The islands Caprea, Prochyta9, and Parthenope, together with Cajeta, Cumse, Monte Miseno, the habitations of Circe, the Syrens, and the Laestrigones, 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 describe it. The inhabitants of this delicious isle, as they are without riches and honours, so are they without the vices and follies that attend them; and were they but as much strangers to revenge, as they are to avarice and ambition, they might in fact answer the poetical notions of the golden age. But they have got, as an alloy to their happiness, an ill habit of murdering one another on slight 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 securely among those dangerous people. Would you know how we pass the time at 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 Dcvozione, i. e. a sort of religious opera) they make fireworks almost every week, out of devotiorr; the streets are often hung with arras, out of devotion; and (what is still more strange) the ladies invite gentlemen to their houses, and treat them with music and sweetmeats, out of devotion; in a word, were it not for this devotion of its 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 Tyhere else in Italy; however, among many pretenders, some men of taste are to be met with. A friend of mine told me not long since, that, being to visit Salvini at Florence, he found him
'We must lament that we have no more letters of Bp. Berkeley; who, we see by this before us, possessed the uncommon talent of describing places in the most lively and graphical manner; a talent in which he has been equalled or excelled only by Mr. Gray, in many of those most lively and entertaining letters published by Mr. Mason; those especially written during his travels.
reading your Homer: he liked the notes extrem ely and could find no other fault with the version, but that he thought it approached too near a paraphrase; which shews him not tobe sufficiently acquainted with our language. I wish you health to go on with that noble work, and when you have that, I need not wish you success. You will do me the justice to believe, that whatever relates to your welfare is sincerely
MR. POPE TO THE REV. MR. BERKELEY. Dear Sir, Sunday.
My Lord Bishop Atterbury was very much concerned at missing you yesterday; he desired me to engage you and myself to dine with him this day; but I was unluckily pre-engaged. And, (upon my telling him I should carry you out of town to-morrow, and hoped to keep you till the end of the week), he has desired that we will not fail to dine with him the next Sunday, when he will have no other company.
I write you this to intreat you will provide yourself of linen and other necessaries sufficient for the week; for as I take you to be almost the only friend I have, that is above the little vanities of the town, I expect you may be able to renounce it for one week, and to make trial how you like my Tusculum, because, I assure you, it is no less yours, and hope you will use it as your own country villa the ensuing season.
I am yours, etc.
MR. POPE TO * * * .
December 21, 1718.
The old project of a window in the bosom, to render the soul of man visible, is what every honest friend has manifold reason to wish for; yet even that would not do in our case, while you are so far separated from me, and so long. I begin to fear you'll die in Ireland, and that Denunciation will be fulfilled upon you, Hibernus es, et in Hiberniam reverteris. I should be apt to think you in Sancho's case; some Duke has made you Governor of an Island, or wet place, and you are administering laws to the wild Irish. But I must own, when you talk of Building and Planting, you touch my string; and I am as apt to pardon you, as the fellow that thought himself Jupiter would have pardoned the other madman who called himself his brother Neptune. Alas, Sir, do you know whom you talk to? one that has been a Poet, was degraded to a Translator, and, at last, through mere dulness, is turned an Architect. You know Martial's censure, Prcecotieni facito vel Architectum. However, I have one way left, to plan, to elevate, and to surprise (as Bays says); the next news you may expect to hear, is that I am in debt.
The history of my Transplantation aftd settlement