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6. The cultivation of this feeling, we may suppose, is purposely left to the human mind, that man may be induced to follow it from the charms which novelty confers'; and the sentiments which it awakens are not expressly enjoined, that they may be enjoyed as the spontaneous growth of our own imagination. While they seem however, to spring up unbidden in the mind, they are, in fact, produced by the spirit of religion'; and those who imagine that they are not the fit subject of Christian instruction, are ignorant of the secret workings, and finer analogies, of the faith which they profess.
LESSON LX. (
VIEW OF THE COLISEUM.
1. On the eighth of November, from the highland near Baccano, and about fourteen miles distant, I first saw Rome; and although there is something very unfavorable to impression in the expectation that you are to be greatly impressed', or that you ought to be, or that such is the fashion'; yet Rome is too mighty a name to be withstood by such', or any other' influences. Let you come upon that hill in what mood you may, the scene will lay hold upon you as with the hand of a giant. I scarcely know how to describe the impression, but it seemed to me, as if something strong and stately, like the slow and majestic march of a mighty whirlwind, swept around those eternal towers'; the storms of time, that had prostrated the proudest monuments of the world', seemed to have left their vibrations in the still and solemn air'; ages of history passed before me; the mighty procession of nations', kings' consuls', emperors', empires', and generations', had passed over that sublime theater. The fire, the storm, the earthquake, had gone by'; but there was yet left the still small voice like that, at which the prophet "wrapped his face in his mantle."
2. I went to see the Coliseum by moonlight. It is the monarch, the majesty of all ruins'; there is nothing like' it. All the associations of the place, too, give it the most impressive character. When you enter within this stupendous circle of ruinous walls and arches, and grand terraces of masonry, rising one above another, you stand upon the arena of the old gladiatorial combats and Christian martyrdoms'; and as you lift your eyes to the vast
amphitheater, you meet, in imagination, the eyes of a hundred thousand Romans, assembled to witness these bloody spectacles. What a multitude and mighty array of human beings'; and how little do we know in modern times of great assemblies! One, two, and three, and at its last enlargement by Constantine, more than three hundred thousand persons could be seated in the Circus Maximus !
3. But to return to the Coliseum'; we went up under the conduct of a guide, upon the walls and terraces, or embankments which supported the ranges of seats. The seats have long since disappeared'; and grass overgrows the spots where the pride, and power, and wealth, and beauty of Rome sat down to its barbarous entertainments. What thronging life was here then'! What voices', what greetings', what hurrying footsteps up the staircases of the eighty arches of entrance'! and now, as we picked our way carefully through the decayed passages, or cautiously ascended some moldering flight of steps, or stood by the lonely walls- ourselves silent, and, for a wonder, the guide silent too-there was no sound here but of the bat, and none came from without, but the roll of a distant carriage or the convent bell from the summit of the neighboring Esquiline.
4. It is scarcely possible to describe the effect of moonlight upon this ruin. Through a hundred rents in the broken walls, through a hundred lonely arches, and blackened passage-ways, it streamed in, pure, bright, soft, lambent, and yet distinct and clear, as if it came there at once to reveal, and cheer, and pity the mighty desolation. But if the Coliseum is a mournful and desolate spectacle as seen from within'-without', and especially on the side which is in best preservation, it is glorious. We passed around' it; and, as we looked upward, the moon shining through its arches, from the opposite side it appeared as if it were the coronet of the heavens', so vast' was it – or like a glorious crown upon the brow of night.
5. I feel that I do not and can not describe this mighty ruin I can only say that I came away paralyzed, and as passive as a child. A soldier stretched out his hand for "un dono," as we passed the guard'; and when my companion said I did wrong to give', I told him that I should have given my cloak, if the man had asked' it. Would you break any spell that worldly feeling or selfish sorrow may have spread over your mind, go and see the Coliseum by moonlight.
THE RUINS OF HERCULANEUM.
1. AN inexhaustible mine of ancient curiosities exists in the ruins of Herculaneum, a city lying between Naples and Mount Vesuvius, which in the first year of the reign of Titus was overwhelmed by a stream of lava from the neighboring volcano. This lava is now of a consistency which renders it extremely difficult to be removed; being composed of bituminous particles, mixed with cinders, minerals, and vitrified substances, which altogether form a close and ponderous mass.
2. In the revolution of many ages, the spot it stood upon was entirely forgotten; but in the year 1713 it was accidentally discovered by some laborers, who, in digging a well, struck upon a statue on the benches of the theater. Several curiosities were dug out and sent to France, but the search was soon discontinued'; and Herculaneum remained in obscurity till the year 1736, when the King of Naples employed some men to dig perpendicularly eighty feet deep; whereupon not only the city made its appearance, but also the bed of the river, which ran through' it.
3. In the temple of Jupiter were found a statue of gold, and the inscription that decorated the great doors of the entrance. Many curious appendages of opulence and luxury have since been discovered in various parts of the city, and were arranged in a wing of the palace of Naples, among which are statues, busts, and altars; domestic, musical, and surgical instruments; tripods; mirrors of polished metal; silver kettles; and a lady's toilet furnished with combs, thimbles, rings, ear-rings, etc.
4. A large quantity of manuscripts was also found among the ruins; and very sanguine hopes were entertained by the learned, that many works of the ancients would be restored to light, and that a new mine of science was on the point of being opened; but the difficulties of unrolling the burnt parchments, and of deciphering the obscure letters, have proved such obstacles, that very little progress has been made in the work.
5. The streets of Herculaneum seem to have been perfectly straight and regular; the houses well built, and generally uniform; and the rooms paved either with large Roman bricks, mosaic work, or fine marble. It appears that the town was not filled up so unexpectedly with the melted lava, as to prevent the greater part of the inhabitants from escaping with their richest effects; for there were not more than a dozen skeletons found, and but little gold or precious stones.
6. The town of Pompeii was involved in the same dreadful catastrophe; but was not discovered till near forty years after the discovery of Herculaneum. Few skeletons were found in the streets of Pompeii; but in the houses, there were many in situations which plainly proved that they were endeavoring to escape, when the tremendous torrent of burning lava intercepted their retreat.
LESSON LXII. &
THE ROMAN SOLDIER;-LAST DAYS OF HERCULANEUM.
THERE was a man',
A Roman soldier, for some daring deed
That trespassed on the laws, in dungeon low
He had a son; it was a rosy boy,
A little copy of his faithful sire,
In face and gesture. From infancy, the child
The father shared and hightened. But, at length,
The captive's lot,
He felt in all its bitterness: the walls
Of his deep dungeon answered many a sigh
And heart-heaved groan. His tale was known, and touched
His jailer with compassion`; and the boy,
Thenceforth a frequent visitor, beguiled
His father's lingering hours, and brought a balm
With his loved presence, that in every wound
He was a poisoned arrow in the breast
Where he had been a cure.
With earliest morn
Of that first day of darkness and amaze,
He came. The iron door was closed,-for them
5. (7) On his low couch
The fettered soldier sank, and, with deep awe,
To the great gōds he breathed a prayer; then, strove
Fearful and ominous, arose and died`,
Like the sad moanings of November's wind,
Shot through his veins. Now, at his couch he shrunk,
Burst forth; the lightnings glanced`; the air
Shook with the thunders. They awoke`; they sprung
A moment as in sunshine-and was dark`:
In darkening, quivering tints, as stunning sound
With intensest awe,
The soldier's frame was filled; and many a thought
Of strange foreboding hurried through his mind,
Jarring and lifting`; and the massive walls,
Heard harshly grate and strain': yet knew he not,
While evils undefined and yet to come
Glanced through his thoughts, what deep and cureless wound
Where, wretched father'! is thy boy? Thou callest
His name in vain`:-he can not answer thee.
8. Loudly the father called upon his child`:-
He searched their couch of straw; with headlong haste
Of his accursed fetters, till the blood
Seemed bursting from his ears, and from his eyes