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As a work of art it was contemptible enough; but it represented a King who certainly deserved more respect from the Neapolitans. However, when the French armies marched in 1798, and made Naples a republic, in the fashionable hatred of all kings the statue was overthrown and broken to pieces. When the Republic, in its turn, was upset, in 1799, a frightful vengeance was taken for this act of disrespect. The noble youths Serra, Riario, and Genzano, were found guilty of high treason, and lost their heads on the scaffold, for having taken part in, or been present at, the demolition of the stone King. They belonged to three of the highest families in the kingdom. Serra and Riario were under twenty years of age; Genzano, a beautiful boy, was not quite sixteen! Other Neapolitans, of obscurer names, fell victims to their iconoclastic zeal in the same manner. The statues of kings were indeed something at Naples in the year 1799!
XXXIX. WALTER SCOTT AT NAPLES.
A Gabbled account of the trifling, and yet very interesting, incidents alluded to in the ensuing lines, has been recently published in this country. The original narrator, our kind friend Doctor Hogg, has furnished us with his own account from his note-book; and, apart from our desire of checking the unfair practice of robbing a man, over the dinner-table, of his good things—a practice that must in the end stop all Table Talk — we have several other reasons for being glad to insert the paper in our little volume. The facts go to illustrate the kindness of heart, the goodness of humour, and readiness of wit, of poor Scott, even when the hand of death was almost laid upon him; and they seem to us exceedingly honourable to the young men of Naples, who so enthusiastically revered the genius of our great novelist, although, in the mass, they could only be acquainted with his works through the medium of French or Italian. translations. A class of men who nourish such a religious feeling for virtue and genius,—who are capable of such sentiments,— ought to redeem the character of the Neapolitan nation; which, by the way, never merited the indiscriminate abuse that has been heaped upon it by hasty and ignorant travellers. In spite of the demoralizing influences of six hundred years of bad, or very indifferent government, the nobler and more generous qualities of man's nature have not been wholly eradicated there; and the land that produced Torquato Tasso, confers a real honour when it hangs a wreath round the honoured head of Walter Scott.
"Naples, April 23, 1832. "* * * Sir Walter Scott and Sir William Gell, both quitted this place for Rome last week. I had the melancholy satisfaction of leading the former to his carriage on the morning of his departure; and took leave of the latter with scarcely less emotion, as the commencement, in a few days, of my long-projected excursion to Egypt and Syria with Mr. Baillie throws over the future a cloud of uncertainty. Sir Walter's health, I grieve to say, seems to have been little improved by change of climate; nor can I reflect without apprehension upon the possible consequences of the determination he has formed of proceeding homeward by land. His visit to Naples, as might be expected, excited an interest as well among the resident natives as the numerous visitors; which, increasing in intensity as it spread, soon became universal and enthusiastic. Although I had been presented to him in society some years ago, I did not feel authorised to trespass on the privacy of the venerated invalid; hut a commission kindly undertaken by his daughter, at the request of a mutual friend at Malta, compelled on my part a visit of acknowledgment. While chatting on, that occasion with Miss Scott, Sir Walter entered the room. His countenance, alas! how altered; 'his complexion fearfully pallid; and his walk, even with phe accustomed support of his stick, little more than a feeble halt. His eyes, however, still retained their wonted expression; his manner, as usual, was frank and cordial; and his smile benevolent, as it ever had been. For a moment, the ravages of his malady were distressingly apparent, evincing the insidious progress of that species of disorganization of brain arising from overstrained intellectual exertion: but his eye brightened as he spoke of mutual acquaintances and far-severed friends; and his countenance beamed with animation when, referring with affectionate enthusiasm to his distant home, he expressed a hope to return thither once more with recruited health.
"At this time, by the intervention of Mr. Laing- Meason, a friendly intercourse had been established between Sir Walter and Sir William Gell. As I had a portion of time daily at my own disposal, and the state of Miss Scott's health sometimes interfered with her personal attendance on her father, Sir William suggested that I might, perhaps, be occasionally useful in Sir Walter's visits to the public library, or to the booksellers' shops, the contents of which he ■ expressed a strong desire to examine. This hint was speedily acted upon, for when I next saw Sir Walter, he requested me to accompany him the following morning to the public library. The Chevalier de Licteriis, the principal librarian, had pre^ viously pointed out to him, amidst the national literary stores, an ancient copy of one of our old metrical romances, • Sir Bevis of Southamptonwhich differing in some particulars from the versions current in England, Sir Walter was desirous to have completely transcribed. This task an Italian, recommended by Sir William, had already commenced; but the transcriber knowing no language except his own, Sir Walter found it necessary to have recourse to an interpreter in his daily visits for superintendence and collation. In the course of these proceedings, (for the Neapolitan government afterwards liberally allowed Sir Walter the use of the manuscript at the Palazzo Caramanico, where he resided,) as supporting himself on my arm he one morning entered the Studio, and was advancing towards the staircase which leads to the library, a member of the Literary and Scientific Academy, then holding a session, invited him to be present. This he delicately declined, upon the plea of not understanding the language in which a dissertation upon some antiquarian subject was in the course of reading. ■
"The examination of the transcript in the library taking up less time that day than usual, on our way out, as we passed the open door of a large hall crowded with attentive listeners, Sir Walter voluntarily expressed an inclination to enter. Advancing within the door, where every seat was occupied, he quietly took a station against the wall close to the entrance. With difficulty I made farther way into the room, to obtain for him, through some of the senior members, the accommodation of a seat. A whisper instantly ran round the apartment, all eyes were fixed upon the illustrious stranger, and a chair was immediately placed for him near that of the president. Little attention was afterwards paid by the audience to the business of the meeting. A gentle movement constantly agitated the assembly; those at a distance gradually pressing onward, that all might enjoy the privilege of obtaining a sight of their distinguished guest. The sitting was soon concluded, but no individual quitted the room. The president, advancing in due form, then made a highly complimentary speech in Italian on the part of himself and the assembled society, which Sir Walter of course was unable to understand. When the harangue concluded, Sir Walter with great readiness, before I had time to make the slightest explanation of what had been said, delivered in English a neat speech quite appropriate to the occasion, but as incomprehensible to the president as the previous compliment had been to Sir Walter. Bows were now mutually interchanged; and Sir Walter, with admirable tact, immediately drew me away. Other members then came forward with cordial salutations, expressing at the same time their highly gratified feelings. As we quitted the room, the younger part of the audience spontaneously ranged themselves in a double file, which extending through the vestibule reached to the very steps of his