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A Sicilian Romance by Ann Ward Radcliffe
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A Sicilian Romance, by Ann Radcliffe

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On the northern shore of Sicily are still to be seen the magnificent
remains of a castle, which formerly belonged to the noble house of
Mazzini. It stands in the centre of a small bay, and upon a gentle
acclivity, which, on one side, slopes towards the sea, and on the
other rises into an eminence crowned by dark woods. The situation is
admirably beautiful and picturesque, and the ruins have an air of
ancient grandeur, which, contrasted with the present solitude of the
scene, impresses the traveller with awe and curiosity. During my
travels abroad I visited this spot. As I walked over the loose
fragments of stone, which lay scattered through the immense area of
the fabrick, and surveyed the sublimity and grandeur of the ruins, I
recurred, by a natural association of ideas, to the times when these
walls stood proudly in their original splendour, when the halls were
the scenes of hospitality and festive magnificence, and when they
resounded with the voices of those whom death had long since swept
from the earth. 'Thus,' said I, 'shall the present generation--he who
now sinks in misery--and he who now swims in pleasure, alike pass
away and be forgotten.' My heart swelled with the reflection; and, as
I turned from the scene with a sigh, I fixed my eyes upon a friar,
whose venerable figure, gently bending towards the earth, formed no
uninteresting object in the picture. He observed my emotion; and, as
my eye met his, shook his head and pointed to the ruin. 'These walls,'
said he, 'were once the seat of luxury and vice. They exhibited a
singular instance of the retribution of Heaven, and were from that
period forsaken, and abandoned to decay.' His words excited my
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