« PreviousContinue »
knocked, an eye may be seen viewing him, before the door is opened, and still more frequently a voice heard calling out quie, and requiring him to give an account of himself before the bar is removed.
The first impressions of Rome however are the most unfavourable; nor is the traveller who enters from Tuscany (which is the grand approach) exposed to the same views as be who comes from the sea. For he enters by the Porto del Populo and sees first all that is finest. After all, however, many months must be spent in Rome before it comes up in any measure to the expectations which one cannot but torin of it from its name in history-But by residence there, it does rise until it is felt that modern Rome is af. ter all a city of singular grandeur and interest. Not that there is much in Rome that is perfecily beautiful. Except the facade of the Doria palaçe iudeed, there is but little architecture along the line of the streets that is exquisitely, fine ; and the churches generally speaking are built in a style very inferior to those of Northern Europe where the gothic architecture prevails.
The Corso, which is the central street of the city running in a right line from the Tuscan Entrance to the capitol, is a fine street, so diversified by richly decorated churches, monastries and palaces as to be in some places bigbly picturesque and every where respectable in point of architecture. During the carnival indeed when draperies are hung from the balconies and windows of the houses all along, the Corso is a peculiarly beautiful street-It is not easy to admire however, during the carnival in consequenco of the ex. cessively foolish and childish amusements which are then going on; but it is a fine street. With regard to these amusements it is Teally wonderful how a people so habitually grave and even melancholy as the Romans, can stoop to such fooleries as these of the carnival, attacking each other or rather dirtying each others hats and carriages with bandfulls of chalk-hail as they drive along, or waiting with expectatiou for the moment when a cannon which Goverument sloops to fire announces that the Barbari wild horses have been let go—Not but it is a fine idea to race hor. ses, when they run without riders and no faster than they choose as those who have not witnessed the scene are generally taught to believe, with respeet to the wild-horse races which take place on the corso during the carnival. And certainly the lines of soldiers all along the street which are drawn up belore the hour of starting might well lead
one to expect something great and spiritstirring - What was our disappointment then, when the moment came and a few ponies ran past, frightened out of their senses by pieces of tinsel tied to their backs, and instead of trying to pass each other as in a race keeping close together at the tail of the one who started first in strict obedience to the gregarious nature of the horse !-In fact the race of the Barbari in Rome during the carnival is but one degree better than a race of dogs with pans at their tails—yet such is a specimen of ihe amusements which the Roman Government supplies, or at least supports, for the Ro
man people. And indeed if it be true that the procession of Maguates who prerede the running of the Barbari is on its way
her seen in the streets, to receive from the Jews a tribute in consideration of which the Holy see agreed to accept of the whipping along the street of wild houses instead of unhappy Isreliales as used to be, it is all very well; and ridiculous as the scene is, it speaks volumes. It were ouly to be wished that the Roman Government instead of spending money in the childish amusements of the people, (of which the fireworks from the top of the prison of St. Angelo during Easter, is a glaring instance, and which, it is said, costs the Government £1200 each time,) would rather make a few roads and bridges so as to open up the country to industry and honest men.
With regard to the individual phjects in modern Rome that .which certainly claims the first attention of the traveller is the Cathedral of St. Peters. When viewed in connection with its magnificent dome and arm-like colonnades, embracing the spacious area with its obelisk and fountains, St. Peters is certainly the most magnificent piece ol christian architecture which exists. But it is certainly not the first either as to grandeur or grace. And no. Avonder. The design was changed again and again, by at least half a dozen successive architects, and one piece is built upon one design, and another upon another. The consequence of this is that St. Peters is rather a vast and magnificent pile of building than a great and a beautiful unity. If we could conceive St. Pauls in London encreased to the size it would have been if the same quantity of materials had been employed upon it as have been spent on St. Peiers, I cannot but think that it would have been far finer in every point of view except in the gorgeons
decoratie ons of the interior, which are certainly no where equalled out of Rome.
The most remarkable feature in St. Peters is the apparent smallness of all its parts contrasted with their actual vastness. The wonder is not that every object about the church is so large as it appears to be, but seems so small compared with what it really is. On walking up the area towards the facade for instance the colomns on it seem 'large no doubt, but still not remarkably 80. It is only when a spectator stretches ont bis arms as if io embrace one of the columns and is soon looking like a squirrel at the foot of a coroanut tree, that the real magnitude is shown. In the interior iu like manner, every object appears inuch smaller than it really is. The little white marble cherubs as one wonla say, while he admires on entering the figures which support the cisterns of holy water, prove on being measured to be monstrous creatures six feet high, so that instead of cherubs one is disposed 10 ascribe their paternity. to Milton's Satan. The four evangelists in like manner in the interior of the cupola which seem about six are in reality sixteen feet high. The letters of the legend “Tu es Petrus &c.” round the cupola look not more than one, though they
are six feet high. In a word the bronze pillars of the Balduching or canopy of the high altar themselves seem as 15 o 20 feet high while they are 36 teet. Every object in short seems quite small compared with what it really is. But is not this the greatest tanlt which an ecclesiastical structure have ? Surely every place of worship should appear to be as vast as it really is at least, and if møre vast than it really is, so much the better. For the aspect of vastless awakens the emoțion of the sublime, a feeling which is akin to that of devotion, and when such a state of leelo ing is gained merely as the truit of architectural genius without cost, it is a great point gained. In St. Peters on the contrary, every thing looks much smaller than it is, so that effectively much of the material is, as it were, lost and thrown away. It is possible however, that this may be inevitable in every building, be what it may, when its magnitude transcends a certain limit. It is at least certain that ihe same feelings are experienced on the first view of other vast objects. The falls of Niagara appear as nothing compa, red with whai they really are, and the same is true of the Pyra. mids of Egypt. Eveu a lofty mountain grows upon the eye lor
But it is also possible that this is not a general law, The gothic archiļecture, ai least when it reaches to certain dimensions imparts to a building an aspect fully equal, if not exceeding, what we should expect from the quantity of material einployed. The Gothic style is therefore the fitlest of all for places of Worship, and certainly of the churches of Rome, said to be 365 in number, there is not one worthy of being even a moment compared with York Minster. There is not one of ihem that has a religious expression. They are much more like civic halls, count-rooms or halls of justice-as indeed the finest of them, the Basili, originally were.
The season to see Rome to the greatest advantage is the Holy week. Then it is most especially that the Latin church displays ius magnificence; and all the dignitaries may be seen, the Pope himself included. It falls to his Holiness at that season to be carried in state, that is, sitting in a chair supported on poles, on mens shoulders, and followed by magnificent lans of feathers. This does not suit well with the leelings of the present Pope. The author once saw him in this predicament and could not but ask a kindly disposed priest who volunteered his services as cicerone, why it was that when every one else seemed to enjoy so much the magnificent pageant, he who was the central object of the whole, looked so downcast and woebegone. The well disposed ecclesiastic answered that the reason of the vil looks of his Holiness was that being a man of singular bumility, he was quite overwhelmed at being called upon as he was then, to persovate and represent our Saviour. This explanation could not be found fault with, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary was of couise received as a true one. But walking home with a friend who was much at Court and had access to know the private feelings of Gregory the XVlih, he said that he was very glad that his friend the Pope had got this day over without any untoward accident. I remarked that he looked very ill and that I had
heard a conspiracy had been discovered in Florence; and I asked if any such or other cause of alarm were apprehended at Rome. Oh no said my friend but his holiness is so peculiar that it is only by practising, for two or three days in the private galleries of the Vatican that he can get this carrying in state over, without astonishi ing the crimsop hats and robes of his bearers, or possibly the mag: piticent plumes and gold and green uniforms of his guarda di nobili around him, with the contents of his stomach !-On comparing this view of the case with thay given by the priest, would it not be casy to wriļe a volume ?
St. Peter's, magnificent as it is, is not a building by itself, but rather the chapel of the Vatican which is an immense quadrangular warehouse-looking palace said to contain eleven thousand appartments, where the Pope resides during the winter season, and of which the most interesting parts to the traveller are the sculpture gallery and the stanze di Raphaella as these appartients are called, the walls of which were painted in fresco by 'Raphael
, and which though not a little defaced and discoloured now,' still shew niost beautifully the exquisite taste and genius of that unrivalled artist.Among the sculptures are the Apollo Belvidere, the Lacoon and indeed all that is hest,' except the Perius di Medici wbich is at Florence. In speaking of St. Peter's and the Vatican, however, we must not forget the Sistine, the Pope's private chapel, which contains in fresco. that extraordinary composition of Michael Angelo, the last judgement, and on the roof, his most spirited frescos of the evangelists and prophets and other subjects - But our space will not permit as to enter into such particulars, though criticism on the fine arts is the theme to which above all others modern Rome invites.
To think of the state of religion and of government at Rome is very painful, The English are indeed greatly beholden to the Pope for allowing them a place in which to celebrate divine worship according to the usage of the church of England; and perhaps we are called upon to ascribe such conduct lộ belter motives, but at the same time perhaps it is nearer the truth to cay that the English owe their meeting house at Rome as much to themselves as to the Pope. What adds to the depth of the melancholy ou yontemplating the religious state of kome, is that one cannot easily discover in Rome any instiimion or set of men from whom the regeneration of their country either political or religions is at all likely to emanate. It is very different in Athens, as we shall endeavour w shew in the. next number. The state of ignorance of the population of Rome is inconceivably great, -although indeed when one calls to mind the slender opportunities they have of acquiring knowledge, their ignorance is not greater than is to be expected, Ruime contains about 100,000 inhabitants, yet there is only one trivial newspaper published there, and that is good for liule but for telling how many temporary triumphal arches on uch nd such an occasioni, bis holiness passed under in his progress, and such like trash. There are a few booksellers shops indeed ; but they contaiu no popular reading.
The service of the church too being in Latin, the people are depriv. ed of the religious instruction which attendance on divine service, tvere it in the vernacular tongue, would impart. Moreover the priests preach but very seldom, and when they do their object is too often merely to indoctrinate the people in the divine authority of their order.
It is not possible to write with moderation on the state of religion and government at Rome; and as discussions on these themes would be out of place in these pages, let us turn away from modern and look for a moment to Ancient Rome. And where among the ruins shall we first direct our steps ? First and last, and often between, go to the Coliseum if you desire to see the noblest ruin in existence, and that which more than most others is calculated to fill the mind with lofty associations. Besides that it is as grand and beatifully formed an amphitheatre as the eye of the beholder could desire to rest upon, it tells the whole history of the Roman people, their rise, their long sustained dominion, their fall. And though it be most painful to read the placards, as one enters the arena, setting forth the indulgences which the church grants to those who come to adore (at) the cross erected in the centre, yet is there not something pleasing too in beholding that cross standing in the midst of a green sward, where christians were wont to be exposed to wild beasts by a barbarous people in the midst of bloody sand. Near the Coliseum too, is the arch of Titus wheie figures in Bas-relief are seen of he sacred vessels described in the Bible only, and borne by the Roman Emperor in triumph when he took Jerusalem; and but a few yards in another direction is the arch of Constantine 100—and quite near is the palace of the Cesars, and that of Nero- and the temple of Peace and that of Rome and Venus and the Forum and the Capitol, &c. &c. But as we shall have to refer to these again when describing the ruins of Athens we may omit all reference to them now and here con. clude.
Life's Pleasures what are they ? Sunbeams playing upon a cobweb.
Fame is Ambition's foot marks on the dust of age : Time asses by, erases them, and smiles.
Love is the poetry of life; God has written it in the heart of man-the universal human heart,-it sings of a lost Paradise and it's moral is Heaven.
ED. C. M.