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TOWER OF THE CAPITOL.
It may be urged that the Italian soldiers of Napoleon's army fought as well among the snows of Russia as the French themselves. Granted. They were out of their own country, and mingled with the veterans of the north How did the Neapolitans behave, when fighting for their hearths and altars against their detested oppressors, the Austrians ? They threw down their arms and fled! Indeed the Romans seldom exhibited an overplus of courage on their own Campagna. Whenever the enemy approached their gates, the priests, the gods, and the augurs were set to work to avert the danger. Every deity that was open to a bribe was seduced by a temple, an altar, or even a calf, in the days of the Prætors, precisely as now in the days of the Popes.* When the Gauls approached the sacred city, under Brennus, the Romans shewed the same courage as when, two thousand years afterwards, the same people advanced under Napoleon. The Roman army, within sight of their own walls, fled without fighting a blow, and the citizens were so terrified that they had not power to shut the gates ! In short, it is probable that the general current of conquest has run from north to south, as much under physical impulse as the streams of the Danube and the Tiber.
TOWER OF THE CAPITOL.
At last lies extended before us—not the city, but the cemetery of Rome! Vast and insatiable sepulchre, whose capacious paunch has swallowed up more than five hundred million of human beings, with all, or nearly all, the temples of their gods, the palaces of their princes, the columns of their warriors, the arches of their victors, the statues of their orators, the busts of their poets-and even the intellectual products of their genius !t It is usual--it is almost necessary, to pour forth a copious
* When Hannibal was approaching Rome, after the battle of Thasymenus, the augurs, the priests, and the senate decided on a “ dedication to Jupiter of all the pigs, lambs, kids, and calves which should be produced in one Spring"!! Whether this butcherly bribe to His Celestial Majesty, or the prudence of Fabius Maximus, preserved the “Eternal City,” it is not for me to decide. Even JULIAN, the philosophic and apostate emperor, many centuries afterwards, sacrificed so many victims to the Gods, that it was feared, if he returned victorious from his Persian expedition, the race of horned cattlc would become extinct! Thanks to the “march of intellect,” as well as to some other causes, there is not much danger of such an extinction in our days.
t Of. Cicero's works, for example, not a tenth part has survived the wreck of the Roman Empire !
flood of sighing sentimentality and lugubrious wailings over “ ROME IN Ruins :"-But as I have neither talent nor inclination for the sublime or the pathetic, at this time, I shall permit the current of reflection to take its natural course.
Of all the tottering ruins, or tomb-stones of ancient Rome, now scattered before our view from the Tower of the Capitol, few indeed bear evidence to the purity of their origin, or the utility of their purpose-qualities which certainly deserve more veneration than the mere mechanical labour of workmen who hewed the blocks of marble from their native quarries, or formed them afterwards into temples, arches, columns, amphitheatres or statues. The aqueducts and cloace—those stupendous conduits of pure water from the mountains and impurities from the city, are almost the only exceptions. But let us glance at some of the objects beneath and around us, with the eye of philosophy, rather than of blind adoration for the monuments of antiquity.
Directly under us, and a little to the left, excavated in the rock, are the Mamertine Prisons, or rather subterranean dungeons, evidently not meant for the security of men before trial or execution, but as cells for the perpetration of murder or the infliction of torture and double death. It has been a subject of pride with their poets that ancient Rome contained but one prison :
-Sub Regibus atque Tribunis,
Yes! but that ONE was a disgrace to humanity! What was the use of having more than one cell for execution, when all Rome, nay, all Europe, was a prison? The voice of the people in the Forum, or the will of the tyrant in the palace, had only to accuse—and the Tarpeian Rock, the axe, or the dagger soon completed the tragedy! Was a civil prison necessary? By no means, The creditor could seize his debtor, imprison him
in his own house, and make him his slave! That the floors of the Mamertine dungeons were often trodden by villains, there can be no doubt. What foot of ground on the soil of Italy could plead exemption from such pollution ? If they excluded from light and air the conspirators of Cataline, and the treacherous Jugurtha, so did they also the Apostles of our Saviour ! In short, the only merit of the Mamertine Prisons was their diminutive size, which prevented the immolation of human victims on a scale proportioned to the tyranny of the princes, and the cruelty of the people of Rome.*
Carrying the eye a little to the right, we behold the involuntary associate (in crime) of the Mamertine prisons—the farfamed TARPEIAN Rock, down which the first MANLIUS, who saved the capitol, with ten thousand other victims of popular fury, patrician pride, or imperial cruelty, have been hurled ! Of all that tremendous precipice, painted in such terrific colours by Seneca, “immensæ altitudinis aspectus,” only thirty feet of its summit now overlook the consolidated dust of ancient temples, and the accumulating filth of modern hovels! The senses are offended by the effluvium which rises from the base of this marble-hearted executioner; and were we not conscious that the rapid Tiber washed away the thousands of human beings that were dashed to pieces whilst precipitating from crag to crag along its horrid surface, we might fancy that the putrid corses were still polluting the air of Heaven with their tainted
* The picture which Ammianus Marcellinus draws of the cruelty and effeminacy of the Roman citizens, is truly disgusting. “When they have called for warm water (says he) if a slave has been tardy in his obedience, he is instantly chastised with three hundred lashes :--but should the same slave commit a wilful murder, the master will mildly observe that he is a worthless fellow; and if he repeats the offence, he shall not escape punishment.” Such were the noble Romans, the lords of the world, the demi-gods of antiquity!!
exhalations! From such a scene, presenting nothing that can relieve either memory or imagination from a sense of horror and humiliation, we turn in haste not unmingled with disgust !
Returning from this digression, we see springing up beneath us, at the very base of the capitol, or rather on its southern declivity, three beautiful fluted Corinthian columns of Grecian marble, once forming part of a magnificent temple, erected by Vanity and dedicated to HYPOCRISY! In every age and every religion, modern as well as ancient, man has taken the liberty to endow his Creator with all, even the very worst of his own passions and propensities! These impieties were invented by the priests, credited by the populace, laughed at by philosophers —but rigidly enjoined by princes, as powerful engines for wielding the mighty mass of the people. An imperial manslaughterer, who shed the innocent blood of three hundred senators, and proscribed his friend Cicero, is travelling in his litter among the defiles of the Pyrennees. A current of electric fluid, in its way from a cloud to the earth, encountered one of Augustus' bearers, and sent him to the shades. To look upon this event as a lucky escape, would have been a natural, though an ignoble thought. No! JUPITER, in pure wantonness, sacrificed the slave, just to shew Augustus a mark of his celestial respect and esteem! As the father of the gods threw down his thunderbolt in honor of a Cæsar, the latter erected a magnificent temple to Jupiter Tonans at the head of the Forum, to remind the people that the king of Heaven and the imperator of Rome were on terms of the most friendly intimacy!
This impious assumption of divine interference in the common concerns of human life, is nearly as rife at the present moment as in the days of Romulus or Cæsar. It
be more general, but it is certainly less reprehensible in Catholic than in Protestant countries. Catholic superstition employs the humbler machinery of saints and angels in worldly matters, and rarely
TEMPLE OF CONCORD.
troubles the Almighty with applications or even thanks for favours. Protestant fanaticism, on the contrary, considers the Creator of the Universe as a complete drudge in the affairs of the godly. A celebrated evangelical divine declared, ex cathedra, in modern Babylon, to a wondering congregation, that he had just received a pair of excellent small-clothes from the Redeemer of mankind !
TEMPLE OF CONCORD.
Close to the right of JUPITER TONANs stands the Ionic portico of the TEMPLE of CONCORD or rather of DISCORD. have been the Temple of Fortune-but that is of little consequence.
It is evident that the vow of Camillus was not put in execution till two or three centuries after his death, when Opimius,“ by massacres and executions, cut off the most active of his popular opponents," and then, in piety, and in imitation of Camillus, built a Temple to Concord! Under the inscription on the frontispiece of the Temple was, one night, written,
“ Vecordiæ. opus. ædem. facit. Concordiæ.”
Senseless Fury builds a temple to Concord! Yet Cicero laments this same murderer, applying to him the epithet PRESTANTISSIMUS !*
* Though not inclined to question the right of Cicero to the title of Pater Patriæ, for detecting the conspiracy of Cataline, and saving the City of Rome from fire and sword ; yet there are many parts of the orator's and the patriot's conduct, which are not very worthy of imitation or admiration. I may only allude to the contemptible artifices which he used to work on the superstition of the Romans.' He declaimed on the “mighty streams of light from the western sky—the blazing of the Heavens, &c.”—but that was all fair. When, however, he gravely tells the Roman people, that when the new and enlarged statue of Jupiter was placed with its face looking towards the forum and senate house, the gratified God instantly detected the Cataline conspiracy, and developed the conspirators to the senators, we cannot help blushing for Cicero- and for humanity !