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fisherman saw that Ufreet, his muscles shivered, and his teeth chattered, and his palate was dried up, and he knew not where he was.”
This, by the way, is a fine horrible picture, and very like an Ufreet; as anybody must know, who is intimate with that delicate generation. We are acquainted with nothing that beats it in its way, except the description of another in the “Bahar Danush,” who, while sleeping on the ground, draws the pebbles towards him with his breath, and sends them back again as it goes forth; though a little further on, in the “ Arabian Nights,” is an Ufreet of a most accomplished ugliness-namely, “the lord of all that is detestable to look at !” What a jurisdiction! And the “lord” too! Fancy a viscount of that description.
The fright and astonishment conceived by the fisherman at the taste thus given him of this highly concentrated spirit of Jinn (for such is the generic eastern term for the order to which the Ufreet belongs) were not, however, the only things he got out of his jar. An incarceration of eighteen hundred years at the bottom of the ocean, under the seal of the mighty Solomon, had taught its prisoner a little more respect for that kind of detainder than he had been wont to exhibit; the fisherman exacted from him an oath of good treatment in the event of his being set free; and the consequence was, that after the adventures of the coloured fish, of the appearance of the lady out of the wall, and of the semi-petrifaction of the King of the Black Islands with his lonely voice, our piscatory friend is put in possession of his majesty's throne. So here is an Ufreet as high as the clouds, fish that would have delighted Titian, (they were blue, white, yellow, and red,) a lady, full dressed, issuing out of a kitchen wall, a king half-turned to stone by his wife, a throne given to a fisherman, and halfa-dozen other phenomena, all resulting from one poor brazen jar, into which, when the fisherman first looked, he saw nothing in it.
A brass jar by the ocean's brim
And it was nothing more.
Now we might have expected as little from our earthern jar, as the future monarch did from his jar of metal, had not some circumstances in our life made us acquainted with the philosophy and occult properties of jars; but such having been the case, no lover of the “ Arabian Nights” (which is another term for a reader with a tendency to the universal) will be surprised at the quantity and magnitude of the things that arose before our eyes out of the little blue jar in the window of Messrs. Fortnum and Mason.
“Sicilian Honey."—We had no sooner read those words, than Theocritus rose before us, with all his poetry.
Then Sicily arose—the whole island-particularly Mount Ætna. Then Mount Hybla, with its bees.
Then Rucellai (the Italian poet of the bees) and his predecessor Virgil, and Acis and Galatea, and Polyphemus, a pagan Ufreet, but mild-mitigated by love, as Theocritus has painted him.
Then the Odyssey, with the giant in his fiercer days, before he had sown his wild rocks; and the Sirens; and Scylla and Charybdis; and Ovid ; and Alpheus and Arethusa ; and Proserpina, and the Vale of Enna-names, which bring before us whatever is blue in skies, and beautiful in flowers or in fiction.
Then Pindar, and Plato, and Archimedes (who made enchantments real), and Cicero (who discovered his tomb), and the Arabs with their architecture, and the Normans with their gentlemen who were to found a sovereignty, and the beautiful story of King Robert and the Angel, and the Sicilian Vespers (horribly so called), and the true Sicilian Vespers, the gentle “Ave Maria,” closing every evening, as it does still, in peace instead of blood, and ascending from blue seas into blue heavens out of white-sailed boats.
Item, Bellini, and his Neapolitan neighbour Paesiello.
Item, the modern Theocritus, not undeservedly so called ; to wit, the Abate Giovanni Meli, possibly of Grecian stock himself—for his name is the Greek as well as Sicilian for honey.
Then, every other sort of pastoral poetry, Italian, and English, and Scotch-Tasso, and Guarini, and Fletcher, and Jonson, and William Browne, and Pope, and Allan Ramsay.
Item, earthquakes, vines, convents, palm-trees, mulberries, pomegranates, aloes, citrons, rocks, gardens, banditti, pirates, furnaces under the sea, the most romantic landscapes and vegetation above it, guitars, lovers, serenades, and the neverto-be-too-often-mentioned blue skies and blue waters, whose azure (on the concentrating Solomon-seal principle) appeared to be specially represented by our little blue jar.
Lastly, the sweetness, the melancholy, the birth, the life, the death, the fugitive evil, the constant good, the threatening Ætna making every moment of life precious, and the moment of life so precious, and breathing such a pure atmosphere, as to enable fear itself to laugh at, nay, to love the threatening Ætna, and play with it as with a great planetary lion to which it has become used.
From all this heap of things, or any portion of them, or anything which they may suggest, we propose, as from so many different flowers, to furnish our Jar of Honey, careless whether the flower be sweet or bitter, provided the result (with the help of his good-will) be not un-sweet to the reader. For honey itself is not gathered from sweet flowers only; neither can much of it be eaten without a qualification of its dulcitude with some plainer food. It can hardly be supposed to be as sweet to the bees themselves, as it is to us. Evil is so made to wait upon good in this world—to quicken it by alarm, to brighten it by contrast, and render it sympathetic by sufferingthat although there is quite enough superabundance of it to incite us to its diminution (Nature herself impelling us to do so), yet tears have their delight, as well as laughter; and laughter itself is admonished by tears and pain not to be too excessive. Laughter has occasioned death :-tears have saved more than life. The readers, therefore, will not suppose that we intend (supposing even that we were able) to cloy them with sweets. We hope that they will occasionally look very grave over their honey. We should not be disconcerted, if some bright eyes even shed tears over it.
SICILY, AND ITS MYTHOLOGY.
ISLAND OF SICILY, AND MOUNT ÆTNA.–STORIES OF TYPHÆUS, POLY
PHEMUS, SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS, GLAUCUS AND SCYLLA, ALPHEUS AND ARETHUSA, THE SIRENS, AND THE RAPE OF PROSERPINE.
S it is good to have a plan and
system in everything, whatever may be the miscellaneousness of its nature, we shall treat of our subjects in chronological order, beginning with the mythological times of Sicily, and ending
with its latest modern poet. Sicily is an island in the Mediterranean sea, at the foot of Italy, about half the size of England, and inhabited by a population a fifth less than that of London. Its shape is so regularly