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of celibacy, and resolved to have the fairest creature on earth for his wife.

The cries of Proserpine become fainter as the earth closes over them; but they have been heard by Ceres herself, who comes, with all the speed of a divine being, to see what is the matter. She can discern nothing; the tranquillity of the scene is restored: Cyane has melted away in tears. The goddess seeks everywhere in vain. She travels by day and by night, lit by two flaming pines from Mount Ætna. At length she learns who has got her child; and, by the intervention of Jupiter, Proserpine is allowed to come to earth and see her. The mother and daughter are half drowned in tears, half absorbed in delight, and Jupiter would prevent their separation, but is not able; for Proserpine has eaten of a fatal fruit, compulsory of her continuance with Pluto; and all that can be done, is to stipulate for her being half a year with her mother, on condition of her being a good wife during the other half. Ceres makes a virtue of the necessity, seeing that her daughter is married to the brother of Jove; and Proserpine is content to divide the throne of Tartarus, and walk in gardens of her own, splendid, though subterraneous.

The ancient poets made these gardens consist of all the flowers which she had been accustomed to gather in Sicily; but modern imagination, which (with leave be it said) is still finer than theirs, and sees beauty beyond its ordinary manifestations in the fitness of things, and in the balance of good and evil, has told us, through the inspired medium of Spenser, that the garden was such a garden as might have been expected from “the grandeur of the glooms” in those lower regions:

“ There mournful cypress grew in greatest store,

And trees of bitter gall, and ebon sad,
Deep-sleeping poppy, and black hellebore,
Cold coloquintida, and tetra mad,
Mortal samnitis, and cicuta bad,
With which the unjust Athenians made to die
Wise Socrates, who thereof quaffing glad
Pour'd out his life and last philosophy
To the fair Critias, his dearest belamy.


The Garden of Proserpina this hight;
And in the midst thereof a silver seat,
With a thick arbour goodly overdight,
In which she often used from heat
Herself to shroud, and pleasures to entreat ;
Next thereunto did grow a goodly tree,
With branches broad dispread, and body great,
Clothed with leaves, that none the fruit might see,
And loaden all with fruit as thick as it might be.

Their fruit were golden apples, glistering bright."

FAERIE Queene, Book ii., Canto 7.

Here we see, that Proserpine enjoyed herself in the lower regions, though among flowers of a different kind from those to which she had been accustomed. She became used to the place, and found pleasures even in Tartarus. And reasonably. First, because she needed them; and in the second place, because she knew there was good as well as evil there, and that the evil itself contained good. The hemlock was " bad,” inasmuch as it killed Socrates, but it was good, also, for many a medicinal cup.

* Deep-sleeping poppy” was a very kindly fellow, if properly treated ; and all the flowers, after their kind, were full of beauty. Flowers cannot help being beautiful. Then there was the Silver Seat and the Golden Tree; and it is



manifest, that the summer sun used to come there through some unknown ravine; to say nothing of Wordsworth's

“Calm pleasures and majestic pains."


We do not, to be sure, see what good Tantalus's eternal thirst could have been to him, or the everlasting wheel to Ixion ; but, probably, on coming up to those gentlemen, we should have found they were visions, put there to make us snatch a fearful joy” at thinking we were not among them in propria personá.

And so we take leave of the beautiful ancient fables of Sicily, having found honey for our Jar even in the fields of Pluto.

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ICILY being one of those small, beautiful, and abundant countries which excite the cupidity of larger ones, has had as many foreign masters as the

poor Princess of Babylon in Boccaccio, who, on her way to be married to

the King of ColWz

chos, fell into the

hands of nine husbands. First, in all probability, came subjugators from the Italian continent; then Phænicians, or commercial invaders;

then, undoubtedly, Greeks; then Carthaginians; then Romans, Goths, Saracens, Normans, Germans, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Gallo-Spaniards, Frenchmen again, Gallo-Spaniards again ; and in the possession of these last it remains. Under the Greeks, its cities grew into powerful independent states. Syracuse was once twenty-two miles in circumference. The most prominent names in the ancient history of Sicily are touched upon in the following list.

Phalaris, tyrant of Agrigentum, who roasted people in a brazen bull, in which he was ultimately made to roar himself. That is to say, if the bull be true. For the reign of this prince was at so remote a period, and the excitement of exaggeration is so tempting, that the sight of the bull in after times proves no more than was proved by the brazen wolf of Romulus and Remus. The age of Phalaris was that of the prophet Daniel.

Stesichorus, a majestic lyrical poet, in one of whose fragments is to be found the beautiful fiction of the Golden Boat of the Sun. The Sun-God sails in it, invisibly, round the northern sea in the night-time, so as to be ready to re-appear in the east in the morning.

Empedocles, the Pythagorean philosopher. He is accused of leaping into Ætna, in the hope of being supernaturally missed, and so taken for a god-a project betrayed by the ejection of one of his brazen sandals. But a philosopher may perish by a volcano, as Pliny did, without giving envy a right to make him a laughing-stock.

Hiero the First, of Syracuse; a bad prince, but a possessor of good horses and charioteers; for whose victories in the Olympic games his name has become celebrated by means of Pindar. Hiero is the great name in the Racing Calendar of antiquity.

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