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ravens, and semi-putrid sharks, all exposed as eatable commodities that I found myself actually within the portico of the
There needed not the original inscription on its cornice, almost as plain as when chiselled in the days of Agrippa, to tell me where I was. A pósse of mendicants soon drove me from this noble portico, and I entered the body of the venerable temple, where, by the light of Heaven, from its summit, I gazed around on its pious and pillared walls.
“ Holy St. Francis, what a change is here !" The tradition of the Tirans is no fable. The sons of Colus and Terra have, indeed, stormed Olympus, and put every god and goddess to flight. The thrones and seats of Jupiter, Juno, and the great celestial deities, are now quietly and securely occupied by their Patagonian usurpers, male and female-by MadonNAS and Martyrs, with pink sashes, faded roses, ticoats, tin crowns, and tinsel decorations-on whose altars are laid votive offerings, too plainly, though not too faithfully, indicating the heart-sickening depravities and infirmities, moral and physical, of the multitudes who have polluted the porphyry floor of the Pantheon! Is Jupitor Ultor, to whom the fane was first dedicated, meditating no vengeance, in his long exile, on the painted and pasteboard usurpers and successors of his throne ? I suspect that he is. The Pope and the priesthood are now steering between Scylla and Charybdis—the rocks of idolatry and infidelity! If they relax in their mummery and superstition, they lose their hold on the populace, and with it their loaves and fishes. If they persevere, they will draw on them the derision and contempt of enlightened Europe. Unfortunately, they have not the choice of these two courses. They must persevere, because blindness and idolatry give the best chance of lasting their day. Their successors must shift for them. selves. And, indeed, many of them may conscientiously think that a belief in purgatory, intercession, and remission, is better than no belief, except that of final extinction of the soul by death.*
The flood of light which pours in from an Italian sky, through the summit of the temple, and amply illuminates every part of its vast area, strongly contrasts with twinkling tapers that are kept burning, for no apparent purpose, before the shrines of its present idols. That system of religion must, indeed, be in darkness, which requires numerous lighted candles in the middle of the
* Will it be credited that the Pope prohibits the classical tour of the amiable, the enthusiastic Eustace—the eloquent advocate of the Catholic religion -because he has hinted a doubt of the miraculous liquifaction of the blood of Januarius! An Italian's faith must be as hot as a Sirocco to dissolve scepticism on this point!
day! Goths and Vandals, Princes and Popes, Cardinals and laymen, have stripped the Pantheon of its bronze, silver, and statues—but no brush, broom or towel has ever been applied to its interior or exterior since the revival of learning and the extinction of decency in Italy. Why does not his HOLINESS -(and we should then entitle him his CLEANLINESS) the Pope, turn the neighbouring fountain of Trevi through the square, the portico, and even the cella of the Pantheon ?-_Why, indeed, are the innumerable fountains of Rome permitted to waste their sweets upon the desert air, without being made available for washing the streets ?
It is extremely difficult to believe that the dimensions of the Pantheon and the dome of St. Peter's are the same. The former appears to be twice the size of the latter. This may be partly owing to proportion-but perhaps it is principally attributable to the dome of the modern Polytheon being placed over an edifice infinitely larger than itself. Every thing in this world is estimated by comparison with its neighbour. The Pantheon is considered the “pride of Rome,” because the most perfect of all her now remaining ancient edifices. It is rather more ancient, but surely not so perfect as Trajan's Column. This last has never been equalled—much less surpassed-while Michael Angelo has made the “pride of Rome,” a cupola to a modern temple.
I had come to the full conclusion that it was impossible to improve upon, that is, to surpass the dirtiness of Rome, notwithstanding that Mr. Matthews has given the palm of victory to Lisbon. I strolled one day into a quarter where, the filth of the streets and the features of the people assumed a different cast from what the eye had been accustomed to in the city generally. An observance of the seed of Abraham, wherever planted, between China and Peru, convinced me that, however climate may blanch or tinge the complexion, the Hebrew features will remain essentially the same in every parallel of latitude and longitude. No one can traverse that part of Rome which lies between the Capitol and the Isola Tiberina, without perceiving that he is in the midst of one of the tribes of Israel. Poor Moses is obliged to take out an expensive license for permission to see the light of heaven, whether under the cross or the crescent! It would be difficult, however, for human ingenuity or malice to devise a more cruel or ignominious tribute for breathing the mephitic atmosphere of the Campagna, than what the Romans have imposed on the Jews-that of being more filthy than themselves! Almost every one, indeed, who has narrowly scrutinized the Eternal City, will be ready to deny the possibility of the thing, and to exclaim-credat Judæus, non ego ! But however impracticable or impayable this tax may have appeared, even to
the Romans themselves, at the time of levying it, the patient, the persevering Hebrew has managed to pay it to the very letter of the law-nay even with interest ! • The policy which induces the Romans to keep a portion of the population in a state of greater impurity than their own, is more human than humane ; but it is a disgusting principle in Papal politics to circumscribe and condense their Hebrew subjects within a narrow and stinking boundary on the banks of the Tiber, while grass, and weeds, and wild beasts are taking possession of several of the seven hills ! Shame on the Vicegerent of Christ! How will he meet the looks of Moses and Aaron, of Abraham and of Solomon, of the divine and benevolent Author of the Religion which he professes, when he goes to the judgment seat himself, and is asked if he has proclaimed and practised peace and good-will to his fellow-creatures on earth? That the
CHOSEN PEOPLE" incurred the displeasure and experienced the chastisement of their God, is manifest from profane as well as sacred history ;-but that man should claim the prerogative of his Maker, and take upon himself to visit the sins of the fathers, not only on the “ third and fourth generation,” but to the end of time, is an impious assumption which will assuredly recoil on himself, in the shape of retributive justice from Heaven. This retribution is evidently in operation at the present moment, and will not cease till the desolation of the Eternal City is complete.
The preservation of the Jews themselves in the pestiferous nook into which they are crowded on the banks of the Tiber, would look like a miracle ; but
Nec Deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus. This very condensation of the Israelites in their own filth, and in a low and sheltered site, preserves them from a worse evil-the deadly malaria of the higher and more open parts of the city.
It would appear that the popular monomania for destroying the grain which a bountiful earth has produced for the sustenance of man, can boast of tolerable antiquity. The small island on which I stand, is said to be the product of one of these paroxysms. The people of Rome disdained to eat the corn of their Tarquin tyrants, and therefore precipitated it—not into the flames, but into the Tiber! It sunk to the bottom, and the turbid stream supplied it so plentifully with aggregations of mud, that an island was ultimately formed in the midst of the current. It is to be presumed that the Roman populace were not then so much in want of bread as they are now-for, mad as a populace sometimes is, it is not credible that the people of Rome would throw any thing into either fire or water that was capable of affording nutriment to their bodies.
VIEW FROM TIBER ISLAND.
It is impossible to stand on this island, and survey the Yellow Tiber rolling along the wretched shores on each side of the muddy stream—the squalid inhabitants passing and repassing on tottering bridges or leaky boats—the narrow lanes and sordid streets that line its banks—the absence of all marks of industry and comfort, without comparing the situation where we stand with the Island of the Rhone, on which Geneva is partly built, and where the blue waters of the Glaciers are rushing past us, aiding the labours of man in every kind of manufacture that conduces to the health, happiness, and luxury of the human race ! A distant view of the Apennines also, reminds us of those "palaces of Nature,” their parent Alps; while the invigorating atmosphere of the Swiss mountains, contrasts with the sedative and enervating air in which we breathe and languish among the seven hills. We need not wonder that Esculapius, in the disguise of a serpent, soon died after his landing on this island. Apollo himself could not render the atmosphere salubrious, or endue it with those qualities which, among the mountains of more northern countries, impart elasticity to the body and energy to the mind.
Before an increasing population lowered the hills and raised the valleys, the site of Rome must have been rather attractive, or even picturesque. A cluster of eminences, not very high, but steep, overlooking the banks of the best river in the country, with an extensive circumjacent plain in every direction, which promised fertility, and exhibited no apparent sign of insalubrity, might naturally enough suggest the idea, and invite to the erection of one of those petty principalities or republics which were then the order of the day. Industry, wealth, and power, with their inevitable attendants, an exuberant population, rendered MALARIA rather a blessing than a curse. The endless allusions to pestilence, in all periods of Roman history, prove that this scourge existed from the first formation of Rome ; but, however the prophecy may be ridiculed, at this time, I have not the smallest doubt that the silent and invisible enemy, which has already taken possession of at least three of the seven hills of Rome, will, ere many centuries, reduce the former mistress of the world to a wretched village or a den of robbers, and compel the statues of her gods and men to seek other and more salubrious asyla. St. Peter's, like PÆStum, will yet be visited at the risk of life, as the wonder of the desert -but more fortunate than the latter, in having its history rescued from oblivion by the magic power of the press s!
The mental excitement and corporeal fatigue of a ROMAN VISITATION, more especially when curiosity, self-interest, time, and inclination all pull different ways, prove no inconsiderable trial for the constitution. To be chilled by the Apennine blast on the Tower of the Capitol or Aurelian's Column, one day-exhausted by eight hours' peregrination through unventilated streets, the second--and parboiled in St. Peter's copper-kettle, the third, is not
quite safe.* I suspect that health annually damaged--perhaps some lives sacrificed by such over-exertion of mind and body. Indeed I have reason to know that this is the case. Certain it is, that some premonitory sensations, which it would have been unsafe to despise, warned me to “ change the air” -and, as the most exquisite pleasures are of shortest duration ; as the most savoury viands soonest pall upon the sense of taste, I began, like Gibbon, to be tired of Paradise, and to pant for new scenes! And lest the reader should become as fatigued by Roman meditations as I was by Roman perambulations, I shall absolve him from the penalty of wading through many an evening's lucubration, which, though interesting to myself at the moment, might not be equally so to him now. One other subject of contemplation, and we leave the former mistress of the world.
I give myself some credit for not ascending the Monte Vaticano until I had visited the other hills of Rome—for not rushing to the grand POLYTHEON, until I had explored half a hundred temples dedicated to the minor divinities of the holy Roman Catholic religion. Long experience had cautioned me to reservẽ the greatest pleasure for the last-though the same experience had also too often taught me that pleasures are almost all in perspective
And when in act they cease, in prospect rise.
Whatever momentary disappointment may be experienced in the primary glance at St. Peter's Portico, when approaching that noble edifice, first, through a mean suburb, and then through a magnificent cycle of colonnades, enclosing fountains that fling their pearly waters almost as high as that tallest of Egyptian obelisks which stands in the centre ; it will be found, on entering the holy fane, that the feebler sense of PLEASURE is quickly drowned in the more tumultuous emotion of SURPRISE—that this, in its turn, is superseded by ADMIRATION—and that all three are ultimately absorbed in the stupor of AMAZEMENT.T
* The first day that I ascended to the summit of St. Peter's, was very hot, though in October. I spent an hour in the copper ball, enjoying the mag: nificent prospect, in which time the perspiration actually exuded through my clothes! It was as hot as the black-hole of Calcutta ; but with the advantage of several crevices through which the fresh air might be inhaled.
+ Mortals are constantly complaining of the short duration of pleasure and happiness, (for they are very different things, though often confounded) and the almost perpetuity of disappointment, discomfort, and even misery. The