DemeTer.

Demeter.

Pluto And Persephone. Bernini, Rome.

Pluto And Persephone. Bernini, Rome.

Historically, therefore, as the scene of many splendid civilizations, and the theme of almost every classic poet of the past; strategically, as the battle-field where several of the mightiest nations of antiquity met, sword in hand, intent upon the mastery of the world; mytho-logically, as a region second to none in the romantic beauty of its legends; architecturally, as a land possessing more than a score of Grecian temples, some of them still almost complete, and all of them hallowed by the touch of twenty centuries; ethnologically, as the crucible in which were gradually fused the manners, languages, and religions of the Orient and Occident; botanically, as a region unsurpassed in early spring by any other country in the world for the profusion of its wild flowers; and geographically, as an island of magnificent mountain scenery, belted by the fairest of blue seas,anddom-inated by the silvered cone of fire-breathing Etna; - Sicily lures us to her classic shores, - bright with the golden after-glow of far-off days, - as to the choicest natural gift that a beneficent deity ever granted to mankind. .

A Sicilian Garden.

A Sicilian Garden.

A Sicilian Of Arabic Origin.

A Sicilian Of Arabic Origin.

Sicilian Acanthus, Origin Of The Corinthian Capital

Sicilian Acanthus, Origin Of The Corinthian Capital.

Yet, notwithstanding its attractiveness, until quite recently it seemed improbable that Sicily would ever share in the "modernization" which has so transformed facilities for travel in most of the other countries bordering on the Mediterranean. Previous to 1860 not a mile of railway had been built there, and even twenty-five years ago, when I first made a limited tour in the island, those who desired to visit the imposing ruins in the mountainous interior, or even to travel from Palermo to its southern shore, had either to cruise along the coast in poor Italian steamers, or else, on account of the wretched inns outside the prominent cities, were forced to hire a carriage, stock it with provisions, and literally to eat and sleep in it for several days, exposed meanwhile to the serious risk of being captured by banditti and detained for ransom. But now a thousand miles of railway intersect the island, and the old days of break-neck roads and brigands have effectually passed away. At present, not only is there a nightly service of comfortable steamers between Naples and Palermo; but, during the winter season, a train composed of sleeping carriages and a dining car runs three times weekly from Berlin to Palermo, crossing the straits of Messina on a ferry-boat in thirty minutes, and making the entire journey in about forty-eight hours. Well-managed hostelries have also been provided in the chief Sicilian towns, and railroads now connect the principal points of interest in such a way as to make traveling there no longer perilous and painful, but a pleasure. In my opinion, however, the easiest and most satisfactory way of reaching Sicily is by one of the transatlantic German steamers, which make the voyage from Genoa to Palermo in thirty-six hours.

Silvered Cone Of Fire Breathing Etna.

Silvered Cone Of Fire-Breathing Etna.

Young Sicily.

Young Sicily.

My first impressions of the glorious harbor of Palermo were gained thus by the light of a full moon, as the "Prinz Adelbert" slipped inward from the tranquil sea, and anchored opposite a semicircle of electric lights which fringed the bay like a magnificent diamond necklace. Meanwhile beside us, scarcely half a mile away, rose white and dazzling in the lunar rays the monster mass of Monte Pellegrino, which Goethe called "the handsomest headland in the world." So wonderfully beautiful appeared Palermo's situation, as we thus approached it, that I was fearful lest its fascination was dependent chiefly on the magic of the moon. But day revealed new points of loveliness that well atoned for those which night had silently withdrawn; for then we saw that the Sicilian capital lay glittering in an amphitheatre of imposing, violet-tinted mountains, which close about Palermo to the sea, and form the noble arc of an almost perfect semicircle, of which the coast line is the chord. The last spurs of these mountains - eight miles distant from each other - are respectively Monte Catalfano on the east, and, on the west, Monte Pellegrino, the shape of which reminds one forcibly of the island of Capri. Palermo's bay is therefore much superior in symmetry to that of Naples, and were it not for the mysterious fascination of Vesuvius, whose sable plume still trails above the buried cities at its base, the former would be universally considered the more beautiful. Moreover, beyond the city itself which stretches indolently inland from the sea, there rises gradually toward the curving ring of mountains a most luxuriant expanse of orange orchards, almond trees, palms, olive groves, and flowers, which has from time immemorial borne the musical title of La Conca d' Oro, or the Golden Shell.