THE first view of the ruins in the Forum brought a keen sense of disappointment. I knew that they could only be mere fragments and rubbish, but I was not prepared to find them so. I learned that I had all along secretly hoped for some dignity of neighborhood, some affectionate solicitude on the part of Nature to redeem these works of Art from the destruction that had befallen them. But in hollows below the level of the dirty cowfield, wandered over by evil-eyed buffaloes, and obscenely defiled by wild beasts of men, there stood here an arch, there a pillar, yonder a cluster of columns crowned by a bit of frieze ; and yonder again, a fragment of temple, half-gorged by the façade of a hideous Renaissance church ; then a height of vaulted brick-work, and, leading on to the Coliseum, another arch, and then incoherent columns overthrown and mixed with dilapidated walls mere phonographic consonants, dumbly representing the past, out of which all vocal glory had departed. The Coliseum itself does not much better express a certain phase of Roman life than does the Arena at Verona ; it is larger only to the foot-rule, and it seemed not grander otherwise, while it is vastly more ruinous. Even the Pantheon failed to impress me at first sight, though I found myself disposed to return to it again and again, and to be more and more affected by it.
Modern Rome appeared, first and last, hideous. It is the least interesting town in Italy, and the architecture is hopelessly ugly especially the architecture of the churches. The Papal city contrives at the beginning to hide the Imperial city from your thought, as it hides it in such a great degree from your eye, and old Rome only occurs to you in a sort of stupid wonder over the depth at which it is buried. I confess that I was glad to get altogether away from it after a first look at the ruins in the Forum, and to take refuge in the Conservatorio delle Mendicanti, where we were charged to see the little Virginia G. The Conservatorio, though a charitable institution, is not so entirely meant for mendicants as its name would imply, but none of the many young girls there were the children of rich men. They were often enough of parentage actually hungry and ragged, but they were often also the daughters of honest poor folk, who paid a certain sum toward their maintenance and education in the Conservatorio. Such was the case with little Virginia, whose father was at Florence, doubly impeded from seeing her by the fact that he had fought against the Pope for the Republic of 1848, and by the other fact that he bac since wrought the Pope a yet deadlier injury by turning Protestant.
Ringing a garrulous bell that continued to jingle some time after we were admitted, we found ourselves in a sort of reception-room, of the general quality of a cellar, and in the presence of a portress who was perceptibly preserved from mold only by the great pot of coals that stood in the centre of the place. Some young girls, rather pretty than not, attended the ancient woman, and kindly acted as the ear-trumpet through which our wishes were conveyed to her mind. The Conservatorio was not, so far, as conventual as we had imagined it ; but as the gentleman of the party was strongly guarded by female friends, and asked at once to see the Superior, he concluded that there was, perhaps, some-thing so unusually reassuring to the recluses in his appearance and manner that they had not thought it necessary to behave very rigidly. It later occurred to this gentleman that the promptness with which the pretty mendicants procured him an interview with the Superior had a flavor of self-interest in it, and that he who came to the Conservatorio in the place of a father might have been for a moment ignorantly viewed as a yet dearer and tenderer possibility. From what-ever danger there was in this error the Superior soon appeared to rescue him, and we were invited into a more ceremonious apartment on the first floor, and the little Virginia was sent for. The visit of the strangers caused a tumult and interest in the quiet old Conservatorio of which it is hard to conceive now, and the excitement grew tremendous when it appeared that the signori were Americani and Protestanti. We imparted a savor of novelty and im portance to Virginia herself, and when she appeared, the Superior and her assistant looked at her with no small curiosity and awe, of which the little maiden instantly became conscious, and began to take ad-vantage. Accompanying us over the building and through the grounds, she cut her small friends wherever she met them, and was not more than respectful to the assistant.
It was from an instinct of hospitality that we were shown the Conservatorio, and instructed in regard to all its purposes. We saw the neat dormitories with their battalions of little white beds ; the kitchen with its gigantic coppers for boiling broth, and the refectory with the smell of the frugal dinners of generations of mendicants in it. The assistant was very proud of the neatness of every thing, and was glad to talk of that, or, indeed, any thing else. It appeared that the girls were taught reading, writing, and plain sewing when they were young, and that the Conservatorio was chiefly sustained by pious contributions and bequests. Any lingering notion of the conventual character of the place was dispelled by the assistant’s hurrying to say, “And when we can get the poor things well married, ‘we are glad to do so.”
” But how does any one ever see them ? ”
” Eh ! well, that is easily managed. Once a month we dress the marriageable girls in their best, and take them for a walk in the street. If an honest young man falls in love with one of them going by, he comes to the Superior, and describes her as well as he can, and demands to see her. She is called, and if both are pleased, the marriage is arranged. You see it is a very simple affair.”
And there was, to the assistant’s mind, nothing odd in the whole business, insomuch that I felt almost ashamed of marveling at it.
Issuing from the backdoor of the convent, we ascended by stairs and gateways into garden spaces, chiefly planted with turnips and the like poor but respectable vegetables, and curiously adorned with fragments of antique statuary, and here and there a fountain in a corner, trickling from moss-grown rocks, and falling into a trough of travertine, about the feet of some poor old goddess or Virtue who had forgotten what her name was.
Once, the assistant said, speaking as if the thing had been within her recollection, though it’ must have been centuries before, the antiquities of the Conservatorio were much more numerous and striking but they were now removed to the different museums. Nevertheless they had still a beautiful prospect left, which we were welcome to enjoy if we would follow her ; and presently, to our surprise, we stepped from the garden upon the roof of the Temple of Peace. The assistant had not boasted without reason : away before us stretched the Campagna, a level waste, and empty, but for the umbrella-palms ,hat here and there waved like black plumes upon it, and for toe arched lengths of the acqueducts that seemed to stalk down from the ages across the melancholy expanse like files of giants, with now and then a ruinous gap in the line, as if one had fallen out weary by the way. The city all, around us glittered asleep in the dim December sunshine, and far below us, on the length of the Forum over which the Appian Way stretched from the Capitoline Hill under the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Titus to the Arch of Constantine, leaving the Coliseum on the left, and losing itself in the foliage of the suburbs, the Past seemed struggling to emerge from the ruins, and to reshape and animate itself anew. The effort was more successful than that which we had helped the Past to make when standing on the level of the Forum ; but Antiquity must have been painfully conscious of the incongruity of the red-legged Zouaves wandering over the grass, and of the bewildered tourists trying to make her out with their Murrays.
In a day or two after this we returned again to our Conservatorio, where we found that the excite-ment created by our first visit had been kept fully alive by the events attending the photographing of Virginia for her father. Not only Virginia was there to receive us, but her grandmother also an old, old woman, dumb through some infirmity of age, who could only weep and smile in token of her content. I think she had but a dim idea, after all, of what went on beyond the visible fact of Virginia’s photograph, and that she did not quite understand how we could cause it to be taken for her son She was deeply compassionated by the Superior, who rendered her pity with a great deal of gesticulation. casting up her eyes, shrugging her shoulders, and sighing grievously. But the assistant’s cheerfulness coed not be abated even by the spectacle of extreme age ; and she made the most of the whole occasion, recounting with great minuteness all the incidents of the visit to the photographer’s, and running to get the dress Virginia sat in, that we might see how exactly it was given in the picture. Then she gave us much discourse concerning the Conservatorio and its usages, and seemed not to wish us to think that life there was altogether eventless. ” Here we have a little amusement also,” she said. ” The girls have their relatives to visit them sometimes, and then in the evening they dance. Oh, they enjoy themselves ! I am half old (mezzo-vecchia). I am done with these things. But for youth, always kept down, something lively is wanted.”
When we took leave of these simple folks, we took leave of almost the only natural and unprepared aspect of Italian life which we were to see in Rome ; but we did not know this at the time.
INDEED, it seems to me that all moisture of romance and adventure has been wellnigh sucked out of travel in Italy, and that compared with the old time, when the happy wayfarer journeyed by vettura through the innumerable little states of the Peninsula, halted every other mile to show his passport, and robbed by customs officers in every color of shabby uniform and every variety of cocked hat,the present railroad period is one of but stale and insipid flavor. Much of local life and color re-mains, of course ; but the hurried traveller sees little of it, and, passed from one grand hotel to another, without material change in the cooking or the methods of extortion, he might nearly as well remain at Paris. The Italians, who live to so great extent by the travel through their country, learn our abominable languages and minister to our detestable comfort and propriety, till we have slight chance to know them as we once could, musical, picturesque, and full of sweet, natural knaveries, graceful falsehood, and all uncleanness. Rome really belongs to the Anglo-Saxon nations, and the Pope and the past seem to be carried on entirely for our diversion. Every thing is systematized as thoroughly as in a museum where the objects are all ticketed; and our prejudices are consulted even down to alms-giving. Honest Beppo is gone from the steps in the Piazza di Spagna, and now the beggars are labeled like police-men, with an immense plate bearing the image of St. Peter, so that you may know you give to a worthy person when you bestow charity on one of them, and not, alas ! to some abandoned impostor, as in former days. One of these highly recommended mendicants gave the last finish to the system, and begged of us in English ! No custodian will answer you, if he can help it, in the Italian which he speaks so exquisitely, preferring to speak bad French instead and in all the shops on the Corso the English tongue is de rigueur.
After our dear friends at the Conservatorio, I think we found one of the most simple and interesting of Romans in the monk who showed us the Catacombs of St. Sebastian. These catacombs, he assured us, were not restored like those of St. Calixtus, but were just as the martyrs left them ; and, as I do not remember to have read anywhere that they are formed merely of long, low, narrow, wandering under-ground passages, lined on either side with tombs in tiers like berths on a steamer, and expanding here and there into small square chambers, bearing the traces of ancient frescos, and evidently used as chapels, I venture to offer the information here. The reader is to keep in his mind a darkness broken by the light of wax tapers, a close smell, and crookedness and narrowness, or he cannot realize the catacombs as they are in fact. Our monkish guide, before entering the passage leading from the floor of the church to the tombs, in which there was still some ” fine small dust ” of the martyrs, warned us that to touch it was to incur the penalty of excommunication, and then gently craved pardon for having mentioned the fact. But, indeed, it was only to persons who showed a certain degree of reverence that these places were now exhibited ; for some Protestants who had been permitted there had stolen handfuls of the precious ashes, merely to throw away. I assured him that I thought them beasts to do it ; and I was afterwards nuzzled to know what should attract their wantonness in the remnants of mortality, hardly to be distinguished from the common earth out of which the catacombs were dug.
RETURNING to the church above we found, kneeling before one of the altars, two pilgrims, a man and a woman. The latter was habited in a nun-like dress of black, and the former in a long pilgrim’s coat of coarse blue stuff. He bore a pilgrim’s staff in his hand, and showed under his close hood a fine, handsome, reverent face, full of a sort of tender awe, touched with the pathos of penitence. In attendance upon the two was a dapper little silk-hatted man, with rogue so plainly written in his devotional countenance that I was not surprised to be told that he was a species of spiritual valet de place, whose occupation it was to attend pilgrims on their tour to the Seven Churches at which these devotees pray in Rome, and there to direct their orisons and join in them.
It was not to the pilgrims, but to the heretics that the monk now uncovered the precious marble slab on which Christ stood when he met Peter flying from Rome and turned him back. You are shown the prints of the divine feet, which the conscious stone received and keeps forever ; and near at hand is one of the arrows with which St. Sebastian was shot. We looked at these things critically, having to pay For the spectacle ; but the pilgrims and their guile were all faith and wonder.
I remember seeing nothing else so finely super. stitious at Rome. In a chapel near the Church of St. John Lateran are, as is well known, the marble steps which once belonged to Pilate’s house, and which the Saviour is said to have ascended when he went to trial before Pilate. The steps are protected against the wear and tear of devotion by a stout casing of wood, and they are constantly covered with penitents, who ascend and descend them upon their knees. Most of the pious people whom I saw in this act were children, and the boys enjoyed it with a good deal of giggling, as a very amusing feat. Some old and haggard women gave the scene all the dignity which it possessed ; but certain well-dressed ladies and gentlemen were undeniably awkward and absurd, and I was led to doubt if there were not an incompatibility between the abandon of simple faith and the respectability of good clothes.
IN all other parts of Italy one hears constant talk among travellers of the malaria at Rome, and having seen a case of Roman fever, I know it is a thing not to be trifled with. But in Rome itself the malaria is laughed at by the foreign residents, who, nevertheless, go out of the city in midsummer. The Romans, to the number of a hundred thousand or so, remain there the whole year round, and I am bound to say I never saw a healthier, robuster-looking population. The cheeks of the French soldiers, too, whom we met at every turn, were red as their trousers, and they seemed to flourish on the imputed unwholesomeness of the atmosphere. All at Rome are united in declaring that the fever exists at Naples. and that sometimes those who have taken it there come and die in Rome, in order to give the city a bad name ; and I think this very likely.
Rome is certainly dirty, however, though there is a fountain in every square, and you are never out of the sound of falling water. The Corso and some of the principal streets do not so much impress you with their filth as with their dullness ; but that part of the city where some of the most memorable relics of antiquity are to be found is unimaginably vile. The least said of the state of the archways of the Coliseum the soonest mended ; and I have already spoken of the Forum. The streets near the Theatre of Pompey are almost impassable, and the so-called House of Rienzi is a stable, fortified against approach by a fosse of excrement. A noisome smell seems to be esteemed the most appropriate offering to the memory of ancient Rome, and I am not sure that the moderns are mistaken in this. In the rascal streets in the neighborhood of the most august ruins, the people turn-round to stare at the stranger as he passes them ; they are all dirty, and his decency must be no less a surprise to them than the neatness of the French soldiers amid all the filth is a puzzle to him. We wandered about a long time in such places one day, looking for the Tarpeian Rock, less for Tarpeia’s sake than for the sake of Miriam and Donatello and the Model. There are two Tarpeian rocks, between which the strange’ takes his choice ; and we must have chosen the wrong one, for it seemed but a shallow gulf compared to that in our fancy. We were somewhat disappointed ; but then Niagara disappoints one ; and as for Mont Blanc.
IT is worth while for every one who goes to Rome to visit the Church of St. Peter’s ; but it is scarcely worth while for me to describe it, or for every one to go up into the bronze globe on the top of the cupola. In fact, this is a great labor, and there is nothing to be seen from the crevices in the ball which cannot be far more comfortably seen from the roof of the church below.
The companions of our ascent to the latter point were an English lady and gentleman, brother and sister, and both Catholics, as they at once told us. The lady and myself spoke for some time in the Tuscan tongue before we discovered that neither of us was Italian, after which we paid each other some handsome compliments upon fluency and perfection of accent. The gentleman was a pleasant purple porpoise from the waters of Chili, whither he had wandered from the English coasts in early youth. He had two leading ideas : one concerned the Pope, to whom he had just been presented, and whom he Viewed as the best and blandest of beings ; the other related to his boy, then in England, whom he called Jack Spratt, and considered the grandest and great. est of boys. With the view from the roof of the church this gentleman did not much trouble himself. He believed Jack Spratt could ride up to the roof where we stood on his donkey. As to the great bronze globe which we were hurrying to enter, he seemed to regard it merely as a rival in rotundity, and made not the slightest motion to follow us.
I should be loth to vex the reader with any description of the scene before us and beneath us, even if I could faithfully portray it. But I recollect, with a pleasure not to be left unrecorded, the sweetness of the great fountain playing in the square before the church, and the harmony in which the city grew in every direction from it, like an emanation from its music, till the last house sank away into the pathetic solitude of the Campagna, with nothing beyond but the snow-capped mountains lighting up the remotest distance. At the same moment I experienced a rapture in reflecting that I had underpaid three hackmen during my stay in Rome, and thus contributed to avenge my race for ages of oppression.
The vastness of St. Peter’s itself is best felt in looking down upon the interior from the gallery that surrounds the inside of the dome, and in comparing one’s own littleness with the greatness of all the neighboring mosaics. But as to the ‘beauty of the temple, I could not find it without or within.
In Rome one’s fellow-tourists are a constant source of gratification and surprise. I thought that American travellers were by no means the most absurd among those we saw, nor even the loudest in their approval of the Eternal City. A certain order of German greenness affords, perhaps, the pleasantest pasturage for the ruminating mind. For example, at the Villa Ludovisi there was, beside numerous Englishry in detached bodies, a troop of Germans, chiefly young men, frugally pursuing the Sehenswizrdigkeiten in the social manner of their nation. They took their enjoyment very noisily, and wrangled together with furious amiability as they looked at Guercino’s ” Aurora.” Then two of them parted from the rest, and went to a little summer-house in the gardens, while the others followed us to the top of the Casino. There they caught sight of their friends in the arbor, and the spectacle appeared to overwhelm them. They bowed, they took off their hats, they waved their handkerchiefs. It was not enough : one young fellow mounted on the balustrade of the roof at his neck’s risk, lifted his hat on his cane and flourished it in greeting to the heart’s-friends in the arbor, from whom he had parted two minutes before.
In strange contrast to the producer of this enthusiasm, so pumped and so unmistakably mixed with beer, a fat and pallid Englishwoman sat in a chair upon the roof and coldly, coldly sketched the lovely landscape. And she and the blonde young English girl beside her pronounced a little dialogue together, which I give, because I saw that they meant it for the public:
The Young Girl. I wonder, you knoa, you don’t draw-ow St. Petuh’s!
The Artist. O ah, you knoa, I can draw-ow St Petuh’s from so mennee powints.
I am afraid that the worst form of American greenness appears abroad in a desire to be perfectly up in critical appreciation of the arts, and to approach the great works in the spirit of the connoisseur. The ambition is not altogether a bad one. Still I could not help laughing at a fellow-countryman when he told me that he had not yet seen Raphael’s ” Trans-figuration,” because he wished to prepare his mind for understanding the original by first looking at all the copies he could find.
THE Basilica San Paolo fuori le Mura surpasses every thing in splendor of marble and costly stone porphyry, malachite, alabaster and luxury of gilding that is to be seen at Rome. But I chiefly remember it because on the road that leads to it, through scenes as quiet and peaceful as if history had never known them, lies the Protestant graveyard in which Keats is buried. Quite by chance the driver mentioned it, pointing in the direction of the cemetery with his whip. We eagerly dismounted and repaired to the gate, where we were met by the son of the sexton, who spoke English through the beauteous line of a curved Hebrew nose. Perhaps a Christian could not be found in Rome to take charge of these here-tic graves, though Christians can be got to do almost any thing there for money. However, I do not think a Catholic would have kept the place in better order, or more intelligently understood our reverent curiosity. It was the new burial-ground which we had entered, and which is a little to the right of the elder cemetery. It was very beautiful and tasteful in every way ; the names upon the stones were chiefly English and Scotch, with here and there an American’s. But affection drew us only to the prostrate tablet in-scribed with the words, ” Percy Bysshe Shelley, Cor Cordium,” and then we were ready to go to the grave of him for whom we all feel so deep a tenderness. The grave of John Keats is one of few in the old burying-ground, and lies almost in the shadow of the pyramid of Caius Cestius ; and I could not ‘help thinking of the wonder the Roman would have felt could he have known into what unnamable richness and beauty his Greek faith had ripened in the heart of the poor poet, where it was mixed with so much sorrow. Doubtless, in his time, a prominent citizen like Carus Cestius was a leading member of the temple in his neighborhood, and regularly attended sacrifice : it would have been but decent ; and yet I fancied that a man immersed like him in affairs might have learned with surprise the inner and more fragrant meaning of the symbols with the outside of which his life was satisfied ; and I was glad to reflect that in our day such a thing is impossible.
The grave of our beloved poet is sunken to the level of the common earth, and is only marked by the quaintly lettered, simple stone bearing the famous epitaph. While at Rome I heard talk of another and grander monument which some members of the Keats family were to place over the dust of their great kinsman. But, for one, I hope this may never be done, even though the original stone should also be left there, as was intended. Let the world still keep unchanged this shrine, to which it can repair with at once pity and tenderness and respect.
A rose-tree and some sweet-smelling bushes grew upon the grave, and the roses were in bloom. We asked leave to take one of them ; but at last could only bring ourselves to gather some of the fallen petals. Our Hebrew guide was willing enough, and unconsciously set us a little example of wantonness ; for while he listened to our explanation of the mystery which had puzzled him ever since he had learned English, namely, why the stone should say “writ on water,” and not written, he kept plucking mechanically at one of the fragrant shrubs, pinching away the leaves, and rending the tender twig, till I, remembering the once-sensitive dust from which it grew, waited for the tortured tree to cry out to him with a voice of words and blood, Perchè mi schianti ? ”
It seems to me that a candid person will wish to pause a little before condemning Gibson’s colored statues. They have been grossly misrepresented. They do not impress one at all as wax-work, and there is great wrong in saying that their tinted nakedness suggests impurity any more than the white nakedness of other statues. The coloring is quite conventional ; the flesh is merely warmed with the hue representing life; the hair is always a very delicate yellow, the eyes a tender violet, and there is no other particularization of color ; a fillet binding the hair may be gilded, the hem of a robe traced in blue. I, who had just come from seeing the fragments of antique statuary in Naples Museum, tinted in the same way, could not feel that there was any thing preposterous in Gibson’s works, and I am not ashamed to say that they gave me pleasure.
As we passed, in his studio, from one room to an-other, the workman who showed the marbles surprised and delighted us by asking if we would like to see the sculptor, and took us up into the little room where Gibson worked. He was engaged upon a bass-relief, a visit of Psyche to the Zephyrs, or something equally aërial and mythological, and received us very simply and naturally, and at once began with some quaint talk about the subject in hand. When we mentioned our pleasure in his colored marbles we touched the right spring, and he went on to speak of his favorite theory with visible delight, making occasional pauses to bestow a touch Ln the bass-relief, and coming back to his theme with that self-corroborative ‘ Yes 1 ” of his, which Hawthorne has immortalized. He was dressed with extraordinary slovenliness and indifference to clothes had no collar, I think, and evidently did hot know what he had on. Every thing about him bespoke the utmost unconsciousness and democratic plainness of life, so that I could readily believe a story I heard of him. Having dined the greater part of his life in Roman restaurants, where it is but wholesome to go over your plate, glass, spoon, and knife and fork with your napkin before using them, the great sculptor had acquired such habits of neatness that at table in the most aristocratic house in England he absent-mindedly went through all that ceremony of cleansing and wiping. It is a story they tell in Rome, where every body is anecdoted, and not always so good-naturedly.
ONE Sunday afternoon we went with some artistic friends to visit the studio of the great German painter, Overbeck ; and since I first read Uhland I have known no pleasure so illogical as I felt in looking at this painter’s drawings. In the sensuous heart of objective Italy he treats the themes of mediæval Catholicism with the most subjective feeling, and I thought I perceived in his work the enthusiasm which led many Protestant German painters and poets of the romantic school back into the twilight of the Romish faith, in the hope that they might thus realize to themselves something of the earnestness which animated the elder Christian artists. Overbeck work is beautiful, but it is unreal, and expresses the sentiment of no time ; as the work of the romantic German poets seems without relation to any world men ever lived in.
Walking from the painter’s house, two of us parted with the rest on the steps of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and pursued our stroll through the gate of San Lorenzo out upon the Campagna, which tempts and tempts the sojourner at Rome, until at last he must go and see if it will give him the fever. And, alas! there I caught the Roman fever the longing that burns one who has once been in Rome to go again that will not be cured by all the cool contemptuous things he may think or say of the Eternal City ; that fills him with fond memories of its fascination, and makes it forever desired.
We walked far down the dusty road beyond the city walls, and then struck out from the highway across the wild meadows of the Campagna. They were weedy and desolate, seamed by shaggy grass-grown ditches, and deeply pitted with holes made in search for catacombs. There was here and there a farm-house amid the wide lonesomeness, but oftener a round, hollow, roofless tomb, from which the dust and memory of the dead had long been blown away, and through the top of which fringed and over-hung with grasses, and opening like a great eye the evening sky looked marvelously sad. One of the fields was full of grim, wide-horned cattle, and another there were four or five buffaloes lying down and chewing their cuds, — noiding their heads horizontally in the air, and with an air of gloomy wickedness which nothing could exceed in their cruel black eyes, glancing about in visible pursuit of some object to toss and gore. There were also many canebrakes, in which the wind made a mournful rustling after the sun had set in golden glitter on the roofs of the Roman churches and the transparent night had fallen upon the scene.
In all our ramble we met not a soul, and I scarcely know what it is makes this walk upon the Campagna one of my vividest recollections of Rome, unless it be the opportunity it gave me to weary myself upon that many-memoried ground as freely as if it had been a woods-pasture in Ohio. Nature, where history was so august, was perfectly simple and motherly, and did so much to make me at home, that, as the night thickened and we plunged here and there into ditches and climbed fences, and struggled, heavy-footed, back through the suburbs to the city gate, I felt as if half my boyhood had been passed upon the Campagna.
PASQUINO, like most other great people, is not very interesting upon close approach. There is no trace now in his aspect to show that he has ever been satirical ; but the humanity that the sculptor gave him is imperishable, though he has lost all character as a public censor. The torso is at first glance nothing but a shapeless mass of stone, but the life can never lie out of that which has been shaped by art to the likeness of a man, and a second look restores the lump to full possession of form and expression, For this reason I lament that statues should ever be restored except by sympathy and imagination.
REGARDING the face of Pompey’s statue in the Spada Palace, I was more struck than ever with a resemblance to American politicians which I had noted in all the Roman statues. It is a type of face not now to be found in Rome, but frequent enough here, and rather in the South than in the North. Pompey was like the pictures of so many Southern Congressmen that I wondered whether race had not less to do with producing types than had similarity of circumstances ; whether a republicanism based upon slavery could not so far assimilate character as to produce a common aspect in people widely separated by time and creeds, but having the same unquestioned habits of command, and the same boundless and unscrupulous ambition.
WHEN the Tiber, according to its frequent habit, to see and inundates the city, the Pantheon is one of the first places to be flooded the sacristan told as. The water climbs above the altar-tops, sapping, m its recession, the cement of the fine marbles which incrust the columns, so that about their bases the pieces have to be continually renewed. Nothing vexes you so much in the Pantheon as your consciousness of these and other repairs. Bad as ruin is, I think I would rather have the old temple ruinous in every part than restored as you find it. The sacristan felt the wrongs of the place keenly, and said, referring to the removal of the bronze roof, which took place some centuries ago, ” They have robbed us of every thing ” (Ci hanno levato tutto) ; as if he and the Pantheon were of one blood, and he had suffered personal hurt in its spoliation.
What a sense of the wildness everywhere lurking about Rome we had given us by that group of peasants who had built a fire of brushwood almost within the portico of the Pantheon, and were cooking their supper at it, the light of the flames luridly painting their swarthy faces !
POOR, little Numero Cinque Via del Gambero has seldom, I imagine, known so violent a sensation as that it experienced when, on the day of the Immaculate Conception, the Armenian Archbishop rolled up to the door in his red coach. The master of the house had always seemed to like us ; now he appeared with profound respect suffusing, as it were, his whole being, and announced, Signore, it is Monsignore come to take you to the Sistine Chapel to his carriage,” and drew himself up in a line, as much like a series of serving-men as possible., to let us pass out. There was a private carriage foi the ladies near that of Monsignore, for he had already advertised us that the sex were not permitted to ride in the red coach. As they appeared, how-ever, he renewed his expressions of desolation at being deprived of their company, and assured them of his good-will with a multiplicity of smiles and nods, intermixed with shrugs of recurrence to his poignant regret. But! In fine, it was forbidden I
Monsignore was in full costume, with his best ecclesiastical clothes on, and with his great gold chain about his neck. The dress was richer than that of the western archbishops ; and the long white beard of Monsignore made him look much more like a Scriptural monsignore than these. He lacked, perhaps, the fine spiritual grace of his brother, the Archbishop at Venice, to whose letter of introduction we owed his acquaintance and untiring civilities; but if a man cannot be plump and spiritual, he can be plump and pleasant, as Monsignore was to the last degree. He enlivened our ride with discourse about the Armenians at Venice, equally beloved of us ; and, arrived at the Sistine Chapel, he marshaled the ladies before him, and won them early entrance through the crowd of English people crushing one another at the door. Then he laid hold upon the captain of the Swiss Guard, who was swift to provide them with the best places ; and in nowise did he seem one of the uninfluential and insignificant priests that About describes the archbishops at Rome to be. According to this lively author, a Swiss guard was striking back the crowd on some occasion with the butt of his halberd, and smote a cardinal on the breast. He instantly dropped upon his knees, with ” Pardon, Eminenza ! I thought it was a monsignore ! ” Even the chief of these handsome fellows had nothing but respect and obedience for our Archbishop.
The gentlemen present were separated from the ladies, and in a very narrow space outside of the chapel men of every nation were penned up together. All talked several priests as loudly as the rest. But the rudest among them were certain Germans, who not only talked but stood upon a seat to see better, and were ordered down by one of the Swiss with a fierce ” Gin, signore, giù ! ” Otherwise the guard kept good order in the chapel, and were no doubt as useful and genuine as any thing about the poor old Pope. What gorgeous fellows they were, and, as soldiers, how absurd ! The weapons they bore were as obsolete as the excommunication. It was amusing to pass one of these play-soldiers on guard at the door of the Vatican tall, straight, beautiful, superb, with his halberd on his shoulder and then come to a real warrior outside, a little, ugly, red-legged French sentinel, with his Minie on his arm.
Except for the singing of the Pope’s choirwhich was angelically sweet, and heavenly far above all, praise the religious ceremonies affected me, like all others of that faith, as tedious and empty. Each of the cardinals, as he entered the chapel, blew a sonorous nose ; and was received standing by his brother prelates a grotesque company of old-womanish old men in gaudy gowns. One of the last to come was Antonelli, who has the very wickedest face in the world. He sat with his eyes fastened upon his book, but obviously open at every pore to all that went on about him. As he passed out he cast gleaming, terrible, sidelong looks upon, the people, full of hate and guile.
From where I stood I saw the Pope’s face only in profile : it was gentle and benign enough, but not great in expression, and the smile on it almost de-generated into a simper. His Holiness had a cold ; and his recitative, though full, was not smooth. He was all priest when, in the midst of the service, he hawked, held his handkerchief up before his face, a little way off, and ruthlessly spat in it !