Sunday, 2 August 2009

Garden of the Italian Capuchins 1760

Letter XXVI

Italian Capuchins. Odd fishes

Lisbon, Sept., 9, 1760

This great business being over, they took me to the garden, the circumference of which is near half a mile, perfectly well kept, and full of the choicest fruits. It lies on a sloping ground, and on the highest side of it there is a pretty large pond inhabited by a fort of fishes not to be found in any other place, as they believe. The creatures, as far as I could fee, [210] are about two spans long, and half as large, with a prominent bunch upon their backs, and not good to eat like other fishes. But what will surprize you to hear, they are of a nature so gay, that they prove quite astonishing. Fishes, Fishes, cried the Guardian, come to your dinner, come, come. The fishes started up, sprang and tumbled about the water, seized the many pieces of bread that he threw to them, and then retired out of fight. The pleasantness of such a scene is not to be conceived. I begg'd that some of the company would preach them a sermon, hoping they would come out again and behave quite as well - as those of the Adriatick upon a certain occasion. The Fathers took the joke, and smiled, and wondered I had not forgot my pretty Italian stories in my long absence from my native country.

We then play'd at bowls under the grape-bowers, and, above all, chatted incessantly. But what took my fancy most, was a translation of one of the [211] Cantos of the Jerusalem delivered in the Genoese dialect which one of the Fathers read to the company. This, he said, was a juvenile composition of his ; and I thought it excellent in its kind.

A journey from London to Genoa, through England, Portugal, Spain, and France
Giuseppe Marco Antonio Baretti

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