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Terrarum Dea, gentiumque, Roma,
Cui par est nihil, et nihil secundum.”

MASL. lib. xii. ep. 8.


Catholic Publishing & Bookselling Company, Limited,




(The Right of Translation is reserved.]

203, o, 294.

of works which have been already written on the Eternal City. “How," I may be asked, “could you resolve to write on Rome, a subject which has been exhausted by so many writers more illustrious, who have counted, one by one, every stone in its ruins, and measured every pillar and arch from St. Peter's to Santa Croce,—from the Villa Borghese to the Pyramid of Caius Cestius and the Therma of Caracalla ?” To this objection, and to all those of a similar class, there is but one answer to be giventhey are obsolete. In these days of ours, if it were permitted to describe those places only which are unknown, or nearly so, who would dare to lift the pen? The perfection of locomotion has rendered the universe too small; since the invention of steam, men make three steps like the gods, and they touch the extremities of the earth. We have trains de plaisir from Paris to Jerusalem ; we picnic on the Pyramids, and have boating-parties on the Nile; we drink soda-water in the desert, and are as familiar with the Prater of Vienna and the Prado of Madrid as with certain quarters of the towns in which we habitually reside. There is, then, no longer any country which may be called unknown-the last veil has been drawn from the statue of Isis, and now we are better acquainted with the mirabilia of the antipodes than our ancestors were with the wonders of Naples or the Rhine.

There can be, then, no more valid objection to Rome, as the subject of a work, than to Tunis or Constantinople; all have alike been long since explored and accurately described.

Nay, further, it were not difficult to show that, in the case of the former, it is even of less value than in that of either of the latter; for Rome is a city whose interest is so much deeper, whose treasures are 80 much more multitudinous and various than any other on the earth, that even when the capitals of the Sultan and the Bey are worn-out and threadbare themes, the Mistress of the World will be still as inexhaustible as ever. The beauty and dimensions of its public edifices, which form the principal charm of ordinary cities, being but one out of the thousand attractions which belong to Rome, how precisely soever they may be all described,—the wonders of interest, which are connected neither with their form nor their height, and are in many instances distinct from them altogether, would still remain untouched. The minutest features, both of the ancient and modern city, may be portrayed with the nicest accuracy-not a balcony in the Corso nor a weed upon the Coliseum being forgotten,-and the Guides aux voyageurs and the handbooks may be multiplied ad infinitum, and, as a usual consequence, ad nauseam; but still the secret of association which attaches even to namesthe world-history written on its soil — the aims and results of generations worked upon its monumentsthe wondrous influence of fascination exercised by the genius of the place-these, and many other mysteries of the Eternal City, will ever remain unfathomed, and but imperfectly revealed. “Il semble,” says Madame de Staël,“ qu'il est encore nécessaire d’être initié dans le secret de cette ville,”-a remark (including the pro. voking encore) which will apply to Rome ages hence, as well as in the days of Oswald and Corinne.


Again, the very fact that Rome is a city of which so much has been said and written—which in all times since its foundation has commanded so much attention -seems to me but an additional argument in favour of the interest which such a subject, however viewed, must always continue to possess. Scarcely any two individuals will view the same locality, and bring away exactly the same impressions. Nature, that has not wished even two leaves to be alike, has put the same diversity between the minds of men. We must, then, always receive with a certain curiosity, at least, the account which each one has to give of the places he has visited; and more particularly so, when the spot

; described has, as in the present instance, such incomparably larger claims upon our interest than any other in the world. Indeed, I may here remark, that it is influenced by this argument, more than by the former, that I venture to offer the following pages to the public. I had neither the desire nor the leisure to compose a bookful of profundities—to reveal the arcana of recollections and associations-to disclose abstruse and hidden things, which are, perhaps, only felt, and will never be completely understood.

The scope of this work has been far a humbler one, as might have been expected, when the circumstances are considered under which it was commenced. I will not, however, make further allusion to my object here, as it has been fully described in the first of the following chapters, to which the reader is referred; but I


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