« AnkstesnisTęsti »
boiled under the remaining sun rays, as the water in the tank is kept warm by the heat at the back of the grate. Thus, as there are three zones of vegetable life, that of olives, of wheat, and of green crops, and as the sun which would ripen the one would burn up the other, the husbandman who can economize heat and ripen under green leaves, as our market gardeners ripen under glass, may be said to turn roods into acres, and make of a little country a great one. Agriculture has many such advances to make over the world; and when the tropics are peopled as Piedmont now is, our Malthusian economists may at once restore the balance between population and food, by imitating the light and shade cultivation of Italy.
We passed Alessandria about midday, and remarked the earthworks that are being thrown up all round the town to strengthen the defenses of this outpost on the Austrian frontier. The spirit with | which our Piedmontese fellow-travelers described to us the use of those deep ditches and high mounds, that reminded us of the cuttings of a railway more than of a fortress, was quite pleasing to remark. Patriotism, it is evident, is something different from the love of home. A Roman may feel a love of home as strong as the Piedmontese, but patriotism he cannot feel, for he has no country to be proud of. A people are generally not ashamed of their country when their country is not ashamed of them. Piedmont may not be strong enough to wrest Lombardy from Austria, but within her own frontier she has an element of strength to defy all the armies of Austria, led by that terrible old centaur, Radetzky himself. A united nation is a rampart no invader can pass-the wave of conquest may beat over it, but it is the wave that is broken, not the breakwater.
Between Alessandria and Genoa the road winds through the Maritime Alps, and after a series of cuttings and tunnels, takes a last plunge into darkness under the range of hills which slope down to the sea. In an instant we are in Genoa, and, taking a splendid sweep round the city, are landed at the water's edge, close by the new statue of Columbus, not yet completed, and facing the port.
It was a bright sunny afternoon in May when we paid our first addresses to the blue Mediterranean. The sea and the city both looked their best, the sky shone down
on us at once warm and breezy, and though sorely tried by cheating porters and that worst of extortioners, the Papal consul, we would not lose our tempers. Formalities ended, and our passage on board the steamer for Civita Vecchia secured, we had the afternoon and evening to dispose of among the churches, squares, and streets of Genoa. Marble and muck are the two ingredients of superb Genoa. If stones could speak or marble rise and mutiny, it would cover the city in a night with that manifesto of English propriety, "Commit no nuisance." Here there is no respect of places, and the beautiful cathedral, with its curious inlaid marbles, striped white and black, down to the pavement, is defiled as of the commonest whitewash.
The decorations inside the churches are in the usual Italian style; those of the Annunziata are now being re-gilt and re-varnished, and already the roof is a blaze of goldleaf, vermilion, and cobalt. Once for all, let us disburden our heart of its deep disgust at the tinsel of modern churches in Italy. As the churches of Genoa are but a sample of those in Rome, it will save repetition to say, that if harlotry from the days of Jezebel to our own is marked by painting the face, tiring the head, and looking out of the window, then Rome is the mother of harlots, and with so immodest a front we may judge of the heart within. Nor are we straining a metaphor to abuse a system we are not attached to. Putting dogmas out of view altogether, the use of art which the modern Church of Rome makes is a prostitution of all truth and beauty to the one base end of effect. Art may embellish what is already beautiful, but as the eyes of a handmaid should look to her mistress, so art should look to religion. But here art is tricked out with all her mistress-borrowed finery to show herself off, and, like Topsy reeling under Miss Ophelia's turbans, ribbons, and silks, art only makes a display the more ridiculous, because there is an attempt to look reverent. As the black skin and the jeweled car, so profane art and holy emblems are ill assorted together, and instead of the art adorning the religion, the religion is reduced to wait upon art, to furnish subjects for its easel, or to give a pose to its statues. It is not what is fact, but what is effect that is sought after in the new principle of embellishment in Italian churches; gilding and
coloring are laid on to strike the eye, not to instruct and elevate. The use and abuse of art are nowhere so well taught as in comparing an ancient with a modern church in Italy.
Pictures are an anachronism in a modern church; they are delightful relics in an ancient. Before Guttenberg had set up his presses, pictures were our books, and because few and not easily multiplied, were put in holy places, as Bibles were chained to a public erection about the age of the Reformation. But the use of pictures in churches has gone by, and what was then a use is now an abuse, a superstition, a surviving of an effete institution when its meaning and origin are forgotten. At sunset we went on board the steamer bound for Leghorn, and sailed through that beautiful Ligurian gulf past the headland of Spezzia, and the port still sacred to Venus. The sun set and the moon rose almost together, turning out, as we once heard an old sailor remark, to relieve watch in the sky. The night was so still that there was no sleeping below, and the deck was covered with mattresses and pillows. Our captain had been married the day before, and had brought his bride on board, a pretty Genoese girl, who seemed to wear her Paris bonnet as Irish girls wear their shoes-for show, not for use. Next morning she walked the deck without the useless headpiece, and her prettily-braided hair showed to advantage. The crew were given an extra allowance of wine on the occasion, and so kept themselves and us awake with their songs.
We arrived before sunrise next morning, and knew we were at last in Italy proper by being boarded by a police officer, who counted the passengers twice over, and spent two hours in studying our passports and other formalities before allowing us to land. At last we got on shore, and had leisure to look about us before the train started for Pisa.
Leghorn is a handsome seaport town. Its streets are wide and beautifully paved with square flag-stones, on which it is a wonder that horses can keep their footing. At nine o'clock we took the train for Pisa, which is distant about half an hour by rail from Leghorn. The wonders of Pisa do not need description. The Baptistery, Cathedral, and Campanile all lie together, and to the right is the Campo Santo. The Campanile is so beautiful a design that we
have no patience with travelers who go away only with the impression they have seen a tower lean sixteen feet out of the perpendicular. To fasten upon that which, after all, is a blemish, is the same stupidity as to suppose Byron famous because club-footed. What shall we think of the critics who tell us that the architect erected it out of the perpendicular on purpose? The Chinese, who copy the crack as well as the pattern on a plate, did not show a more perverted ingenuity than these admirers of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
We cannot omit to notice the beggars in Pisa. They abound in the precincts of other holy places in Italy, but they literally swarm here in and around the Campo Santo. Carità per l'amour di Dio greets you from old and young. You look at an urchin at the street corner, and he pulls off his cap with a whine; a hag stretches out her withered arm, as if it had been dried up in an act of beggary half a century ago. Were the apostles to walk the streets of Pisa, they could not draw after them a greater crowd of sick, impotent folk, than a few travelers draw every day to the Campo Santo. The plague does not stop even at the cathedral doors, for within the beggars abound as well as without, and you are teased for a carità at the very steps of the high altar. The Church of Rome permits pauperism to show itself in church on the same pleas that the Mohammedans tolerate madmen. Some of her latest canonized saints are recorded to have supported themselves on street beggary for years. Pisa must be the most saintly of cities, and the claims of her beggars to a whole calendar to themselves must pass undisputed among hagiologists.
We took the train from Pisa the same afternoon, and returned to Leghorn, got on board the steamer, and were wafted away over smooth seas and under a bright May moon to Civita Vecchia, where we arrived early on Saturday morning.
Arrived at Civita Vecchia, and permitted to land, we found that the diligenze priviligiate Pontificale had deferred their departure till evening, as the horses had been impressed to draw the Grand Duchess Olga and suite from Rome to Civita Vecchia.
A vetturino, however, was easily secured, and six copper pieces thrust into my hand as arrha or pledge that the bargain was struck. We took ten hours to
travel the forty miles, and counted impatiently the mile-stones that are set up on the Via Emilia, in feeble imitation of the lines when roads radiated from Rome over the orbis terrarum.
We drove to the Minerva Hotel, round the Piazza of St. Peter's, past the Mole of Hadrian, and over the Ponte St. Angelo, and then through a labyrinth of narrow streets, where the flare of oil lamps, (for gas is yet far from common in Rome,) and the smell of fried fish, and the cries of cooks hawking hot maccaroni were the principal sights, smells, and sounds that first saluted us in Rome.
We had got out of bed in Paris on Monday morning, and only turned into bed in Rome on this Saturday night, having, during six days, doubled our count of time on the plan suggested in the song,
"The best of all ways
To lengthen our days
Is to steal a few hours from the night, my dear."
The first sound that awoke us on Sunday morning was the roll of drums. We dressed and descended, and met a French regiment on their march to church. We followed past the gray Pantheon, and entered with them the Church of the French Embassy. The whole regiment marched into church as on to a parade ground, hats on, carrying their arms, and lined the nave two deep, with the drum-major standing before the high altar, and the drums beating a rappel as the general and staff entered. The band was stationed in the two transepts, and played operatic music while the priest went on with his service. The tinkling of his bell, every now and then heard amid the crash of cymbals and trumpets, was all that reminded us that we were in a church, not in a concert-room. At the elevation of the host every knee was bent and every head uncovered; and so with this one homage to the Most High, incarnated that instant in a wafer, the reJigious rites were over, and the musical performance went on as before. mockery of worship must shock at first the Protestant, who is accustomed to think of religion as a transaction between God and his own heart, not a matter for the parade ground and drill sergeant. I have seen a Mohammedan spread his carpet and bow his face to the ground at the hour of prayer, and felt that here was a worship of God in spirit at least, if not in truth;
but at a military mass there is neither spirit nor truth. At other services, there are devout women who kneel on the pavement, cross themselves, and, with help of their prayer-books, make out some show of "common prayer" between priest and people; but the religion of a French soldier is of the old Roman type-to worship their eagles, or greet a successful imperator with divine honors. The church seemed to us a temple of victory; and we forgot we were in modern Rome, with eighteen centuries between us and pagan times.
The churches of Rome are as many as the days of the year; but we should be sorry to waste a year in studying them. A week was all we had to give; but even in a week we saw enough to satisfy and moderate our regret at leaving so much
It is better to admit frankly that we were disappointed, and to be rated as Goths by admirers of Italian architecture, than to affect an enthusiasm we never felt. Not even the basilicas, always excepting Saint Peter's, could rouse us into hearty admiration. A description of one church will apply to them all. They all look as if they had dropped into their places in the street where they stand, and offend all sense of truth and proportion in this, that the façade is always as high, and in many cases higher, than the roof of the church itself. The dome is consequently hid from the street, and it is only when you ascend a height outside the city that you discover that Rome is studded with domes and cupolas. With the Pantheon before them, as a model of the proportions between the porch and the dome, Roman architects had no excuse. They have reversed these proportions, and ambitiously thrown up a façade of pillars and pilasters, two and three stories high, which, in many cases, is a sham front to deceive the eye, the real building itself being lower than its own front. Thus church after church rises above the neighboring houses on its right and left hand; but, “like a tall bully, it lifts its head and lies," for the real roof of the church is often lower than that of the surrounding houses; and as soon as you climb the first garret and discover this, you are disgusted with the trick, and turn away from an architecture in which the lamp of truth has been put out.
Saint Peter's, we said, was an excep
tion to all this; but even here the façade is too high, and it is only at a distance that the eye can get the right angle of view to take in the whole church, from the pavement to the cross. It would be worth enduring the othce of Pontifex Maximus, to sweep away the upper story of the façade altogether, and with it the name of Paulus Borghesius, who has there written his name in the same bad taste with which the French infidel inscribed on a church near Ferney, "A Dieu, Voltaire." But Saint Peter's is not to be criticised but enjoyed; so we will not stand any longer outside. On the pillars of the magnificent vestibule, which is, beyond doubt, one of the finest things in architecture, and as large and as lofty as some of the cathedrals of Europe, are some notices that drew our attention. One was Badi, O Bestemmiatore a warning against profane swearing, in the style of a village tract. The advice was excellent, and, it must be confessed, much needed; for, having exhausted the saints, the modern Roman curses you by his gods-Bacchus being the chief deity invoked. Another notice was a kind of caution to the faithful. A certain Caterina had pretended to see visions of the Madonna, and to have performed cures. After inquiry, the Sacred College had condemned her as an impostor; and, just as at the bank lists of false notes are posted up, so, at St. Peter's, spurious miracles are denounced, that the faithful may give greater credit to the true. But the notice that hangs on the door, "No dogs admitted here," we take as a hint to lay aside a cynical spirit in the grandest temple on earth. The monuments around us at once suggest the design of the building. It is the Mausoleum of Saint Peter and his successors. What the pyramids were to the kings of Egypt, Saint Peter's is to the Popedom. It is the burial place of popes; other monuments are there on sufferancethose of the popes are erected here as a matter of course: the rule being, that the cardinals who have been created during the pope's lifetime should erect a marble monument to his memory on the largest scale. The holy place in Saint Peter's is not the east end, but the crypt under the dome, where Saint Peter is said to be buried. The side-chapels round the transept and aisles are not filled with images and pictures of saints, but the monuments of the popes. They are on the largest
scale that marble can be worked, and generally represent the pope seated on his throne, supported by Religion or Valor, an Angel or a Lion, according as the holy father was a man of peace or of war.
The Vatican museum contains all that is exquisite of the remains of ancient art. Statuary in the fifth century seems to have met from the Christian Church a fall like that of Sisera from Jael. She put her hand to the nail and her right hand to the workman's hammer-and statuary was broken to pieces and cast in heaps, and buried as an accursed thing by a fanatical peasantry, led on by yet more fanatical monks. Even as late as the Middle Ages this iconoclastic spirit broke out on occasions. The Siennese possessed a pagan statue of Peace, and alarmed by their being so frequently defeated by the Florentines, they broke it in pieces and deposited it in the territory of their enemies. Lorenzetto's figure of Peace in fresco in the public hall of Sienna is said to have been modeled after this statue, which was discovered in his time buried in a garden.
It was fortunate for Italy, and perhaps for art, that statuary thus fell by a violent death in the fifth century, and was buried during the wreck of the dark ages. It is true that, like Sisera, the workman's hammer has stricken through the temples of many a choice statue or bust. The mutilation of noses and thumbs was so common, that not a statue is dug up that is not thus disfigured; but the mutilated parts have been so skillfully restored, that to all intents and purposes we look on the same marble whose smooth surface received its last touch from the sculptor's nail. We almost think that marble can bestow immortality, as we stand by the bust of the young Augustus, and touch that smooth cheek that was touched for the last time nearly two thousand years ago.
It was fortunate, especially for the Vatican collection, that the monks considered it a pious act to mutilate and bury these pagan images. Had they been preserved, they would have been dispersed over Europe, and have followed the fortunes of war or commerce into France, Germany, or England. As it now is, all that is choice is here. These marbles have been discovered only since the popes have become the patrons of art, and almost its high priests, (for art is the great goddess of modern Italy,) and therefore the Vatican
has had the pre-emption of all that was tality. To feel keen disappointment we rare and precious.
The Gallery of Inscriptions taken from the catacombs is to a religious mind the most interesting thing in the Vatican. Our thoughts are better expressed in the words of Raoul Rochette, the great antiquarian. "I have spent," he says, " entire days in this sanctuary of antiquity, where sacred and profane art stand facing each other, in the written monuments preserved to us as in the days when Christianity and paganism were engaged in mortal conflict; and were it only the treasure of impressions which we receive from this immense collection of Christian epitaphs taken from the graves of the catacombs and now affixed to the walls of the Vatican, this alone would be an inexhaustible feast of recollections for a whole life."
Thronged down the Lapidarian gallery are the dying confessions of Christians and pagans. On the one side the motto, "Live while you can, the man of pleasure cries," is paraded as the sum of philosophy. The words are worth transcribing—“Viri dum vixi bene, jam mea peracta-mox vestra agetur fabula-valete et plaudite." On the other side, rudely carved, badly spelled, are the inscriptions of the not many wise, not many mighty, who composed the Church of Rome when Jewish strangers and runaway slaves hid in the catacombs. Martyria in pace. Sevi locus. One inscription reads thus: Qui dedit et abstulit, Omini Benedi. Qui Bixit Ann Pace Cons. The rest is effaced. We read it, Maitland beautifully remarks, as if broken by sobs. Time has not effaced the sorrowful words, "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away," but the name and date are broken and gone. For the rest of the inscription we must wait till the book of life shall be opened and the names of buried saints in the catacombs be read out, when every one, we believe, in this Lapidarian gallery will be there to answer to his name.
can only suggest to others to do as we did. Read an account of the "Last Judgment" and other frescoes in the Sistine, in some work on high art before you start for Italy. Whet your appetite on the road with Murray, and take a last refresher before you leave your hotel to visit the Sistine Chapel. Enter a narrow, lofty room, like a concert-room, with a throne at one end, and a recess for the orchestra at the other, and look up and around at the dusky faded figures that are said to be indecently nude, but which time has draped better than the "breeches-making" artist employed to put aprons on Adam and Eve by some modest pope.
Let a guide chatter in your ear the wonders of these frescoes, while you strain your eye and stiffen your neck in the effort to see what time has effaced, and you will have reason to feel that, unless the material be enduring, the conception, however sublime, must fade with it. Genius wedded to art is like Sinbad, doomed by a cruel law to be buried alive in the same pit with the corpse of his wife. In an evil hour Michael Angelo chose a bride of death in fresco art. As the color fades from her cheek, so his hopes of immortality fade also. In the Sistine Chapel the living and the dead are immured together, and we seem to stand in the living tomb of a genius made for immortality, but perishing because married to a mortal wife.
Rome was not built in a day, neither can it be seen in a day. We had only a week; so we resolved to visit a few things every day, and to leave many things unseen at all. Of all the things to be seen in a week take the following as the principal: The basilicas, of course, and of the churches four or five; the Ara Cœli, for instance, with its Jacob's ladder of steps by which you ascend to it, and curious Responsorium of St. Anthony of Padua affixed to the rail of his chapel on the left of the nave. The Minerva church, which has been lately restored, and contains the only stained glass we remember in Rome; and, above all churches new or temples old, the Pantheon, visited by us every day, and entered every time with fresh feelings of admiration and wonder. We dare not indulge in a description of that matchless Rotonda, as it is called by the common people in Rome.
The Vatican and Capitol we visited, of