John Evelyn.

Diary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) online

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whose body was thus found, and as the inscription testified.
We dined this day at Terracina, heretofore the famous
Anxur, which stands upon a very eminent promontory,
the Cercean by name. Whilst meat was preparing, I
went up into the town, and viewed the fair remainders of
Jupiter's Temple, now converted into a church, adorned
with most stately columns ; its architecture has been ex-
cellent, as may be deduced from the goodly cornices,
mouldings, and huge white marbles of which it is built.
Before the portico stands a pillar thus inscribed :

Inclyta Gothorum Regis monumenta vetusta
Anxuri hoc Oculos exposuere loco.

for, it seems, Theodoric drained their marches.

L 2


On another more ancient :

Imp. Csesar Divi Nervae Filius Nerva Trojanus Aug. Germanicu*
Dacicus. Pontif. Max. Trib. Pop. xvm. Imp. vi. Cos. v. p. p. xvm.
Silices sua pecunia stravit.

Meaning, doubtless, some part of the Via Appia. Then,

Tit. Upio. Aug. optato Pontano Procurator! et Prefect. Classis. Ti,
Julius. T. Fab. optatus n vir.

Here is likewise a Columna Milliaria, with something
engraven on it, but I could not stay to consider it. Com-
ing down again, I went towards the sea-side to contem-
plate that stupendous strange rock and promontory, cleft
by hand, I suppose, for the better passage. Within this
is the Cercean Cave, which I went into a good way ; it
makes a dreadful noise, by reason of the roaring and
impetuous waves continually assaulting the beach, and
that in an unusual manner. At the top, at an excessive-
height, stands an old and very great castle. We arrived
this night at Fondi, a most dangerous passage for robbing;
and so we passed by Galba's villa, and anon entered the
kingdom of Naples, where, at the gate, this epigraph saluted
us : " Hospes, hie sunt fines Regni Neopolitani; si amicus
advenis, pacate omnia invenies, et mails moribus pulsis,
bonas leges." The Via Appia is here a noble prospect ;
having before considered how it was carried through vast
mountains of rocks for many miles, by most stupendous
labour : here it is infinitely pleasant, beset with sepulchres
and antiquities, full of sweet shrubs in the environing
hedges. At Fondi, we had oranges and citrons for nothing,
the trees growing in every corner, charged with fruit.

29th. We descried Mount Caecubus, famous for the
generous wine it heretofore produced, and so rid onward
the Appian Way, beset with myrtles, lentiscus's, bays,
pomegranates, and whole groves of orange-trees, and most
delicious shrubs, till we came to Formiana [Formise],
where they showed us Cicero's Tomb, standing in an olive
grove, now a rude heap of stones, without form or beauty ;
for here that incomparable orator was murdered. I shall
never forget how exceedingly I was delighted with the
sweetness of this passage, the sepulchre mixed amongst all
sorts of verdure ; besides being now come within sight of
the noble city, Cajeta [Gaieta], which gives a surprising

1545.] JOHN EVELYN. 149

prospect along the Tyrrhene Sea, in manner of a theatre :
and here we beheld that strangely cleft rock, a frightful
spectacle, which they say happened upon the passion of
-our Blessed Saviour ; but the haste of our procaccio did not
suft'er us to dwell so long on these objects, and the many
antiquities of this town, as we desired.

At Formi, we saw Cicero's grot, dining at Mola, and
passing Sinuessa, Garigliano (once the city Mintern), and
beheld the ruins of that vast amphitheatre and aqueduct
yet standing; the river Liris, which bounded the old
Latium, Falernus, or Mons Massicus, celebrated for its
wine, now named Garo ; and this night we lodged at a
little village, called St. Agatha, in the Falernian Fields,
near to Aurunca and Sessa.

The next day, having passed [the river] Vulturnus, we
come by the Torre di Francolisi, where Hannibal, in dan-
ger from Fabius Maximus, escaped by debauching his
enemies; and so at last we entered the most pleasant
plains of Campania, now called Terra di Lavoro ; in very
truth, I think, the most fertile spot that ever the sun
shone upon. Here we saw the slender ruins of the once
mighty Capua, contending at once both with Rome and
Carthage, for splendour and empire, now nothing but a
heap of rubbish, except showing some vestige of its former
magnificence in pieces of temples, arches, theatres, columns,
ports, vaults, colosses, &c., confounded together by the
barbarous Goths and Longobards; there is, however, a
new city, nearer to the road by two miles, fairly raised out
of these heaps. The passage from this town to Naples
(which is about ten or twelve English post miles) is as
straight as a line, of great breadth, fuller of travellers than
I remember any of our greatest and most frequented roads
near London ; but, what is extremely pleasing, is the great
fertility of the fields, planted with fruit-trees, whose boles
are serpented with excellent vines, and they so exuberant,
that it is commonly reported one vine will load five mules
with its grapes. What adds much to the pleasure of the
sight is, that the vines, climbing to the summit of the trees,
reach in festoons and fruitages from one tree to another,
planted at exact distances, forming a more delightful pic-
ture than painting can describe. Here grow rice, canes
for sugar, olives, pomegranates, mulberries, citrons, oranges,


figs, and other sorts of rare fruits. About the middle of
the way is the town A versa, whither came three or four
coaches to meet our lady-travellers, of whom we now took
leave, having been very merry by the way with them and
the capitano, their gallant.

31st. About noon, we entered the city of Naples,.
alighting at the Three Kings, where we found the most
plentiful fare all the time we were in Naples. Provi-
sions are wonderfully cheap; we seldom sat down to-
fewer than eighteen or twenty dishes of exquisite meat
and fruits.

The morrow after our arrival, in the afternoon, we hired
a coach to carry us about the town. First, we went to the
castle of St. Elmo, built on a very high rock, whence we
had an entire prospect of the whole city, which lies in
shape of a theatre upon the sea-brink, with all the circum-
jacent islands, as far as Caprese, famous for the debauched
recesses of Tiberius. This fort is the bridle of the whole
city, and was well stored and garrisoned with native
Spaniards. The strangeness of the precipice and rareness
of the prospect of so many magnificent and stately palaces,
churches, and monasteries, with the Arsenal, the Mole,
and Mount Vesuvius in the distance, all in full command
of the eye, make it one of the richest landscapes in the

Hence, we descended to another strong castle, called
II Castello Nuovo, which protects the shore ; but they
would by no entreaty permit us to go in ; the outward
defence seems to consist but in four towers, very high,
and an exceeding deep graff, with thick walls. Opposite to
this is the tower of St. Vincent, which is also very strong.

Then we went to the very noble Palace of the Viceroy,
partly old, and part of a newer work ; but we did not stay
long here. Towards the evening, we took the air upon
the Mole, a street on the rampart, or bank, raised in the
sea for security of their galleys in port, built as that of
Genoa. Here I observed a rich fountain in the middle of
the piazza, and adorned with divers rare statues of copper,
representing the Sirens, or Deities, of the Parthenope,
spouting large streams of water into an ample shell, all of
cast metal, and of great cost. This stands at the entrance
of the Mole, where M r e met many of the nobility both on


horseback and in their coaches to take the fresco from the
sea, as the manner is, it being in the most advantageous
quarter for good air, delight, and prospect. Here we saw
divers goodly horses who handsomely become their riders,
the Neapolitan gentlemen. This Mole is about 500 paces
in length, and paved with a square hewn stone. From the
Mole, we ascend to a church, of great antiquity, formerly
sacred to Castor and Pollux, as the Greek letters carved
on the architrave and the busts of their two statues testify.
It is now converted into a stately oratory by the Theatines.

The Cathedral is a most magnificent pile, and, except
St. Peter's in Rome, Naples exceeds all cities for stately
churches and monasteries. We were told that this day
the blood of St. Januarius and his head should be exposed,
and so we found it, but obtained not to see the miracle of
the boiling of this blood. The next we went to see was
St. Peter's, richly adorned, the chapel especially, where
that Apostle said mass, as is testified on the wall.

After dinner, we went to St. Dominic, where they
showed us the crucifix that is reported to have said these
words to St. Thomas, " Bene de me scripsisti, Thoma."
Hence, to the Padri Olivetani, famous for the monument
of the learned Alexander-ab-Alexandro.

We proceeded, the next day, to visit the church of Santa
Maria Maggiore, where we spent much time in surveying
the chapel of Joh. Jov. Pontanus, and in it the several
and excellent sentences and epitaphs on himself, wife,
children, and friends, full of rare wit, and worthy of record-
ing, as we find them in several writers. In the same
chapel is showed an arm of Titus Livius, with this epi-
graph : " Titi Livij brachium quod Anton. Panormita a
Patavinis impetravit, Jo. Jovianus Pontanus multos post
annos hoc in loco ponendum curavit."

Climbing a steep hill, we came to the monastery and
church of the Carthusians, from whence is a most goodly
prospect towards the sea and city, the one full of galleys
and ships, the other of stately palaces, churches, monas-
teries, castles, gardens, delicious fields and meadows,
Mount Vesuvius smoking, the Promontory of Minerva
and Misenum, Capreae, Prochyta, Ischia, Pausilipum, Pu-
teoli, and the rest, doubtless one of the most divertissant


and considerable vistas in the world, The church is most
elegantly built ; the very pavements of the common clois-
ter being all laid with variously polished marbles, richly
figured. They showed us a massy cross of silver, much
celebrated for the workmanship and carving, and said to
have been fourteen years in perfecting. The choir also
is of rare art; but above all to be admired, is, the yet
unfinished church of the Jesuits, certainly, if accomplished,
not to be equalled in Europe. Hence, we passed by the
Palazzo Caraifi, full of ancient and very noble statues :
also the Palace of the Orsini. The next day, we did little
but visit some friends, English merchants, resident for
their negotiation ; only this morning at the Viceroy's
Cavalerizza I saw the noblest horses that I had ever
beheld, one of his sons riding the menage with that
address and dexterity as I had never seen any thing
approach it.

4th February. We were invited to the collection of exotic
rarities in the Museum of Ferdinando Imperati, a Neapo-
litan nobleman, and one of the most observable palaces in
the city, the repository of incomparable rarities. Amongst
the natural herbals most remarkable was the Byssus marina
and Pinna marina; the male and female chamelion; an
Onocrotatus ; an extraordinary great crocodile ; some of
the Orcades Anates, held here for a great rarity ; likewise
a salamander; the male and female Manucordiata, the
male having a hollow in the back, in which it is reported
the female both lays and hatches her egg ; the mandrago-
ras, of both sexes ; Papyrus, made of several reeds, and
some of silk ; tables of the rinds of trees, written with
Japonic characters ; another of the branches of palm ;
many Indian fruits; a crystal that had a quantity of
uncongealed water within its cavity; a petrified fisher's
net ; divers sorts of tarantulas, being a monstrous spider,
with lark-like claws, and somewhat bigger.

5th. This day we beheld the Vice-king's procession,
which was very splendid for the relics, banners, and music
that accompanied the Blessed Sacrament. The ceremony
took up most of the morning.

6th. We went by coach to take the air, and see the
diversions, or rather madness, of the Carnival; the

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 153

courtesans (who swarm in this city to the number, as we
are told, of 30,000, registered and paying a tax to the
State) flinging eggs of sweet water into our coach, as we
passed by the houses and windows. Indeed, the town is
so pestered with these cattle, that there needs no small
mortification to preserve from their enchantment, whilst
they display all their natural and artificial beauty, play,
sing, feign compliment, and by a thousand studied devices
seek to inveigle foolish young men.

7th. The next day, being Saturday, we went four miles
out of town on mules, to see that famous volcano, Mount
Vesuvius. Here we pass a fair fountain, called Labulla,
which continually boils, supposed to proceed from Vesu-
vius, and thence over a river and bridge, where, on a large
upright stone, is engraven a notable inscription relative to
the memorable eruption in 1630.*

Approaching the hill, as we were able with our mules,
we alighted, crawling up the rest of the proclivity with
great difficulty, now with our feet, now with our hands,
not without many untoward slips which did much bruise
us on the various coloured cinders, with which the whole
mountain is covered, some like pitch, others full of perfect
brimstone, others metallic, interspersed with innumerable
pumices (of all which I made a collection), we at the last
gained the summit of an excessive altitude. Turning our
faces towards Naples, it presents one of the goodliest
prospects in the world ; all the Baise, Cuma, Elysian
Fields, Caprese, Ischia, Prochyta, Misenus, Puteoli, that
goodly city, with a great portion of the Tyrrhene Sea,
offering themselves to your view at once, and at so agree-
able a distance, as nothing can be more delightful. The
mountain consists of a double top, the one pointed very
sharp, and commonly appearing above any clouds, the
other blunt. Here, as we approached, we met many large
gaping clefts and chasms, out of which issued such sul-
phureous blasts and smoke, that we durst not stand long
near them. Having gained the very summit, I laid myself
down to look over into that most frightful and terrible
vorago, a stupendous pit of near three miles in circuit,
and half a mile in depth, by a perpendicular hollow cliff

* It may be seeii at length in Wright's Travels, and in Misson's New Voyage
to Italy, vol. i., p. 431.


(like that from the highest part of Dover Castle), with now
and then a craggy prominency jetting out. The area at
the bottom is plane, like an even floor, which seems to be
made by the winds circling the ashes by its eddy blasts.
In the middle and centre is a hill, shaped like a great
brown loaf, appearing to consist of sulphureous matter,,
continually vomiting a foggy exhalation, and ejecting
huge stones with an impetuous noise and roaring, like the
report of many muskets discharging. This horrid bara-
thrum engaged our attention for some hours, both for the
strangeness of the spectacle and the mention which the
old histories make of it, as one of the most stupendous
curiosities in nature, and which made the learned and
inquisitive Pliny adventure his life to detect the causes,
and to lose it in too desperate an approach. It is likewise
famous for the stratagem of the rebel, Spartacus, who did
so much mischief to the State, lurking amongst, and pro-
tected by, these horrid caverns, when it was more acces-
sible and less dangerous than it is now ; but especially
notorious it is for the last conflagration, when, in anno
1630, it burst out beyond what it had ever done in the
memory of history ; throwing out huge stones and fiery
pumices in such quantity, as not only environed the
whole mountain, but totally buried and overwhelmed divers
towns and their inhabitants, scattering the ashes more
than a hundred miles, and utterly devastating all those
vineyards, where formerly grew the most incomparable
Greco ; when, bursting through the bowels of the earth,
it absorbed the very sea, and, with its whirling waters,
drew in divers galleys and other vessels to their destruc-
tion, as is faithfully recorded. We descended with more
ease than we climbed up, through a deep valley of pure
ashes, which at the late eruption was a flowing river of
melted and burning brimstone, and so came to our mules
at the foot of the mountain.

On Sunday, we with our guide visited the so much cele-
brated Baia, and natural rarities of the places adjacent.
Here we entered the mountain Pausilypus, at the left
hand of which they showed us Virgil's sepulchre erected
on a steep rock, in form of a small rotunda, or cupolated
column, but almost overgrown with bushes and wild bay
trees. At the entrance, is this inscription :

1G45.] JOHN EVELYN. 155

Stanisi Cencovius.


Qui cineres ? Tumuli hsec vestigia, conditur olim

Ille hoc qui cecinit Pascua, Rura, Duces.


After we were advanced into this noble and altogether
wonderful crypt, consisting of a passage spacious enough
for two coaches to go abreast, cut through a rocky moun-
tain near three quarters of a mile (by the ancient Cimmerii
as reported, but as others say by L. Cocceius, who em-
ployed a hundred thousand men on it), we came to the
midway, where there is a well bored through the diameter
of this vast mountain, which admits the light into a pretty
chapel, hewn out of the natural rock, wherein hang divers
lamps, perpetually burning. The way is paved under foot,
but it does not hinder the dust, which rises so excessively
in this much-frequented passage, that we were forced at
mid-day to use a torch. At length, we were delivered from
the bowels of the earth into one of the most delicious
plains in the world : the oranges, lemons, promegranates,.
and other fruits, blushing yet on the perpetually green
trees; for the summer is here eternal, caused by the
natural and adventitious heat of the earth, warmed
through the subterranean fires, as was shown us by our
guide, who alighted, and, cutting tip a turf with his knife,
and delivering it to me, it was so hot, I was hardly able to-
hold it in my hands. This mountain is exceedingly fruitful
in vines, and exotics grow readily.

"We now came to a lake, of about two miles in circum-
ference, environed with hills ; the water of it is fresh and
sweet on the surface, but salt at bottom ; some mineral salt
conjectured to be the cause, and it is reported of that pro-
funditude in the middle that it is bottomless. The people
call it Lago d'Agnano, from the multitude of serpents
which, involved together about the spring, fall down from
the cliffy hills into it. It has no fish, nor will any live in

* Such is the inscription, as copied by Mr. Evelyn ; but, as its sense is not
very clear, and as the Diary contains instances of incorrectness in tran-
scribing, the Editor has thought it desirable to subjoin the distich said
(by Keysler in his Travels, vol. ii., p. 433) to be the only one in the whole-
mausoleum :

Quse cineris tumulo hsec vestigia { conditur olim
Ille hoc qui cecinit pascua, rura, duces.


it. We tried the old experiment on a dog in the Grotto
del Cane, or Charon's Cave ; it is not above three or four
paces deep, and about the height of a man, nor very broad.
Whatever having life enters it, presently expires. Of
this, we made trial with two dogs, one of which we bound
to a short pole to guide him the more directly into the
further part of the den, where he was no sooner entered,
but without the least noise, or so much as a struggle,
except that he panted for breath, lolling out his tongue,
his eyes being fixed ; we drew him out dead to all appear-
ance ; but immediately plunging him into the adjoining
lake, within less than half an hour he recovered, and,
swimming to shore, ran away from us. We tried the same
on another dog, without the application of the water, and
left him quite dead. The experiment has been made on
men, as on that poor creature whom Peter of Toledo
caused to go in ; likewise on some Turkish slaves ; two
soldiers, and other fool-hardy persons, who all perished,
and could never be recovered by the water of the lake, as
are dogs; for which many learned reasons have been
offered, as Simon Majolus in his book of the Canicular-
days has mentioned, colloq. 15. And certainly the most
likely is, the effect of those hot and dry vapours which
ascend out of the earth, and are condensed by the ambient
cold, as appears by their converting into crystalline drops
on the top, whilst at the bottom it is so excessively hot,
that a torch being extinguished near it, and lifted a little
distance, was suddenly re-lighted.

Near to this cave are the natural stoves of St. Germain,
of the nature of sudatories, in certain chambers partitioned
with stone for the sick to sweat in, the vapours here being
exceedingly hot, and of admirable success in the gout, and
other cold distempers of the nerves. Hence, we climbed
up a hill, the very highway in several places even smoking
with heat like a furnace. The mountains were by the
Greeks called Leucogaei, and the fields Phlegraean. Her-
cules here vanquished the Giants, assisted with lightning.
We now came to the Court of Vulcan, consisting of a
valley near a quarter of a mile in breadth, the margent
environed with steep cliffs, out of whose sides and foot
break forth fire and smoke in abundance, making a noise
like a tempest of water, and sometimes discharging in loud

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 137

reports, like so many guns. The heat of this place is won-
derful, the earth itself being almost unsufferable, and
which the subterranean fires have made so hollow, by
having wasted the matter for so many years, that it sounds
like a drum to those who walk upon it; and the water
thus struggling with those fires, bubbles and spouts aloft
into the air. The mouths of these spiracles are bestrewed
with variously-coloured cinders, which rise with the vapour,
as do many coloured stones, according to the quality of
the combustible matter, insomuch as it is no little adven-
ture to approach them. They are, however, daily fre-
quented both by sick and well ; the former receiving the
fumes, have been recovered of diseases esteemed incurable.
Here we found a great deal of sulphur made, which they
refine in certain houses near the place, casting it into
canes, to a very great value. Near this we were showed a
hill of alum, where is one of the best mineries, yielding a
considerable revenue. Some flowers of brass are found
here; but I could not but smile at those who persuade
themselves that here are the gates of purgatory (for which
it may be they have erected, very near it, a convent, and
named it St. Januarius), reporting to have often heard
screeches and horrible lamentations proceeding from these
caverns and volcanoes ; with other legends of birds that are
never seen, save on Sundays, which cast themselves into
the lake at night, appearing no more all the week after.

We now approached the ruins of a very stately temple,
or theatre, of 172 feet in length, and about eighty in
breadth, thrown down by an earthquake, not long since ;
it was consecrated to Vulcan, and under the ground are
many strange meanders ; from which it is named the
Labyrinth ; this place is so haunted with bats, that their
perpetual fluttering endangered the putting-out our links.

Hence, we passed again those boiling and smoking
hills, till we came to Pozzolo, formerly the famous Puteoli,
the landing-place of St. Paul, when he came into Italy,
after the tempest described in the Acts of the Apostles.
Here we made a good dinner, and bought divers medals,
antiquities, and other curiosities, of the country-people,
who daily find such things amongst the very old ruins of
those places. This town was formerly a Greek colony,
built by the Samians, a reasonable commodious port, and


full of observable antiquities. We saw the ruins of
Neptune's Temple, to whom this place was sacred, and
near it the stately Palace and gardens of Peter de Toledo,
formerly mentioned. Afterwards, we visited that admirably
built Temple of Augustus, seeming to have been hewn
out of an entire rock, though indeed consisting of several
square stones. The inscription remains thus : " L. Cal-
phurnius L. F. Templum Augusto cum ornamentis D.D. ; "
and under it; "L. Coccejus L. C. Postumi L. Auctus
Architectus." It is now converted into a church, in which

Online LibraryJohn EvelynDiary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 46)