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backwardness about it which soon disposes the traveller to move on. An English Wesleyan Methodist preacher named Pigott, I was informed, kept a school for young ladies, and had divine service-I did not learn with what success.
There is a large ornamental ground in the centre of the city, with trees and statues not remarkable for merit. There are also several large brick churches, but the front elevations of these great buildings are not pointed with mortar, and they have a painfully bare and rude appearance. The interiors are handsomely decorated with rich marbles, painting, and gilding, but the outsides have the aspect of premature decay. It is, however, the style of that part of Italy. I found the same character prevalent in the churches of Ravenna, to which I next directed my journey. This city, which was a rival of Rome for a long period in the Middle Ages, in consequence of its being the seat of the lieutenants or exarchs of the Emperors when these removed to Constantinople, is now so decayed, so dull, and so uninteresting in all respects, that it is not worthy of a visit from any one.
It is connected with the Adriatic by a melancholy canal, having very little water, six miles long. A factitious interest is attempted to be kept up by showing the house in which Byron lived at Ravenna for a time. The tomb of Dante is a memorial of a far nobler soul; but these very poorly repay for a journey to a tumble-down old city, really too dreary for anything. A gang of twenty-two robbers and assassins, who had cruelly harassed the city for some years, had been seized through the confession of one of their number when I was there, and, after examination, removed under a strong guard of soldiers. They have since received the reward of their villanies.
I left Ravenna for Bologna and beautiful Florence. The railway through the Apennines is almost as interesting and romantic as the one through the Alps. The engineering skill which has been displayed has been most remarkable. You are sometimes taken through amazing detours to mount a pass gently, and find yourself half-an-hour afterwards in view of the same viaduct you crossed so long ago, but at a very different height.
The costumes of the people, and the glimpses of picturesque country one obtains from time to time, add greatly to the pleasure of the journey, and when one reaches the lovely city of Florence, the real flower of Italy, one must be fastidious indeed if one does not confess with the poet
“There is beauty o'er all this delectable world.” We cannot stay to describe Florence, because to do so would make this paper too long, and besides, we have undertaken to make Rome the chief subject of our present remarks.
We will therefore hasten along, and assume we are within a few miles of Rome, the centre of Imperial power, before Christianity dawned upon the world, and now and for many ages past, in its decrepit state, the chief seat of Papal authority.
As you approach Rome your attention is arrested by the constant recurrence of ruins. Here you see a few arches in a field, there a few pillars. Now it is part of an old castle, there the ruined walls of a temple, palace, or bath.
At length you get to the venerable walls of the city itself, and inside, not far from the station, the great church of St. John Lateran, with its apostles and saints on the summit, along its front, comes into view, and you quickly arrive at the railway station. When you leave the terminus you have opposite to you the remains of the baths of Diocletian, and very near some portions of what was called the golden house of Nero.
Here we may remark that ancient Rome was built on hills, and thus had a lofty and healthy position, all in the neighbourhood now entered by the railway. Papal Rome left this part for lower ground close to the Tiber, in the valley, and thus became miserably unhealthy, liable to inundations, and never properly drained. St. Peter's is on comparatively low ground across the Tiber
. Now, Rome is being extended and rebuilt in splendid fashion in the vicinity of the railway, and will, no doubt, under the direction of the present government, be well drained and healthy.
Rome, since it has again become the capital of Italy, has more than 200,000 inhabitants. In this respect it is equal to a third-rate town in England. The old streets are narrow, crooked and dirty, but are receiving considerable improvement under the efforts of the enlightened men whom the Pope every now and then denounces. The houses are solidly built and lofty, the palaces of the chief nobles are vast and strong, some of them forming the whole side of a street.
The chief street in Rome is the Corso, which is nearly a mile long, and of moderate width, about half as broad as Oxford Street. It extends nearly from the Capitoline Hill to the Porta del Popolo. Into this open several squares, one containing the Post Office. This square is thronged every evening with lively and well-dressed company, and enlivened by music. There are two illuminated clocks on the façade or front of the Post Office, one indicating the present railway time at Rome, the other the time as it used to be kept, that is, beginning with the setting sun and going on to twenty-four o'clock.
The general aspect of Rome is that of a city stretching from the railway station, which is on high ground, then gradually descending on the hill-sides for a mile and a half to the Tiber, then crossing the Tiber by the bridge of St. Angelo opposite to the castle of that name, and thence up three rather poor streets to the magnificent court forming the approach to St. Peter's, and the splendid church itself which, with the Vatican palace, forms the termination of Rome.
Returning over the Tiber, and getting into the Corso, one can easily arrive at the Capitoline Hill, passing by the Pantheon, which is entire and turned into a church, but generally closed and little used. The Capitoline Hill, which is ascended by noble steps, surmounted by the wonderful statues of Castor and Pollux by Phidias, contains several admirable buildings, the palace where the civic authorities meet, a museum of antiquities, and other useful edifices. From this hill, the site of the ancient Capitol, you can see the leading remains of the grandeur of Old Rome. Just beneath you is the Forum, now excavated, and its real buildings and character fully understood.
Across the Forum, on the right, is the Palatine Hill, where Romulus and his small tribe settled at first, more than seven hundred years before the birth of our Lord. It was a remarkable portion of the city through its entire history, and at length contained the palace of Augustus and succeeding Emperors ; even to this day it exhibits interesting remains of every period it has gone through.
You see before you the triumphal arch of Severus, then further off the arch of Titus, and still further the arch of Constantine.
On the left of the Forum, but a little beyond, are the immense remains of the basilica of Constantine, where business and justice were both attended to, and lastly, somewhat further on, the gigantic mass of the wonderful and beautiful Coliseum.
The Coliseum fitly terminates the view of the grand survey we have indicated of the remains of ancient magnificence. It is twice the size of the Albert Hall, and with its four galleries could contain, it is said, 80,000 people. The grand old ruin is stupendous yet, and in the days of its glory it must have been really marvellous, both for its splendour, its convenience, and the wondrous scenes exhibited within it on high days from time to time.
What a noble, what an unparalleled city Rome must have been in its proudest time, when such are its ruined remnants after nearly 2000 years have passed over them !
But besides the striking character of the remains you behold on every hand, this region has great interest at present from the researches and excavations going on almost in every portion under the enlightened direction of the Italian Government.
We see in this a worthy characteristic of the New Age. Just as vast numbers for centuries took their religious views for granted, however little in accordance with Divine truth, because their ancestors told them thus to believe; and if there were discussions, it was only conjecture clashing against conjecture. So was it in other things. Facts were not steadily looked for : there was little or no research. Now people will examine and see.
Grand old Rome was buried in its own ruins. Forty or fifty yards deep of rubbish accumulated through ages left only the top of an arch here and there, or the capital of a pillar, visible above the soil. The learned, judging only from notices in the classical writers, speculated and debated from century to century how the buildings of the Forum had stood with relation to each other, but they never dug down absolutely to examine the remains. Hence their suppositions were nearly all as wrong as they could be.
Now, however, everything is being uncovered. You have plainly before you the very parts of the ancient edifices, the steps, the walls, the pavements, portions of pillars still standing, inscriptions, and sculptured slabs, so that the true character and places of all the objects are plainly and certainly revealed.
The ancient Romans must have been a very religious people. Within the space occupied by the Forum, a space not larger than that occupied by Smithfield Market, there were seven temples, and in other parts of the eity there are whole temples still existing, or remnants, which indicate the universal prevalence of the religious feeling. I noticed the same thing at Pompeii. Indeed, it would be perfectly right to say of the civilizations of Greece and Rome, and all the old nations, they WERE RELIGIONS. Religion was the centre of each home and of each city. In each house there was an altar, on which fire, the emblem of love, was kept constantly burning day and night, having first been lighted from the rays of the sun. The father was the priest, and they had morning and evening service. They believed their ancestors were still alive, were associated with them, and protected them. They called them dæmons, which had then the sense we attribu to angels.
The God they supremely adored was the God of fire, called Agni in the RigVeda, whom the sun represented, and who was the Sun of the soul, to whom they prayed to make them pure, chaste and good.
This was for a long period the religion alike of India, of Greece, and of Rome. Later it degenerated into gross idolatry and stupid superstitions. Thus may we account for the many temples and the religious feeling of ancient Italy.
Modern Rome is remarkable for its churches; there are said to be 364, seven of them very large and splendid, called Basilicas, many
St. Peter's is certainly the most gorgeous of all, but so far as I could judge the religious feeling in Rome is very feeble, and virtuous lives certainly not the rule.
The Sabbath is disregarded, with scarcely any effort of the priests to make it otherwise. One incident which occurred to me will illustrate the state of things. The Protestant worship did not commence until eleven on the first Sunday morning of my visit, so I determined to go to one of the most splendid churches, that of St. Mary Maggiore, at nine,
On approaching the church I found some fifty workmen digging, sawing, and hammering, renewing the large range of church steps. I went into the spacious church, which, on its marble floor, has room for 2000 people, and whatever gilding, painting, noble pillars, and splendour in general, can do to excite awe and devotion, were there intended to effect. The Mass was going on, but there were not fifty people in the place, and the priest at a side altar could scarcely be heard, even by those kneeling nearest to him.
There were twelve confessionals, six at each side of the church, each containing an aged priest, and each priest a long rod, like a fishingrod, in his hand, waiting for penitents. No one came, until shortly before I was about to leave the church, when a little, shabby-looking old man came and knelt about three yards in front of one of the
· La Cité Antique, pp. 16, 26. Fastel de Coulanges, Strasburg.
seated priests, and got a touch on the head with the rod, then rose and went away.
I looked about for a priest, to ask what this touching with the rod betokened, but none came to whom I could address myself, and I therefore asked an intelligent-looking young man who leaned against a pillar near if he could explain it. He said the person who knelt had been and done the penance appointed for him, repeating so many prayers probably, and the priest had tapped his head to intimate that his sins were now removed and forgiven. But, I said, don't
think that sins stick too fast to be tapped off in that way? Oh
he said, I think so, but I am a Piedmontese. (The Piedmontese are more intelligent than most of the other Italians.)
I left the church, had a few passing remarks with two or three priests who were leaving at the same time, and about fifty yards off came upon about twenty stalwart, young, and middle-aged men, who were quite openly playing at pitch-and-toss. All this was on Sunday.
I have gone in and out of very many churches in Rome, including St. Peter's, often, but seldom met with anything better than what I have described at the grand basilica of St. Mary Maggiore. The churches are magnificent, but the souls are poor and miserable, blind and naked.
At St. Peter's you see this splendour of the shell and absence of the kernel certainly as fully as anywhere. You approach it from the bridge of St. Angelo, and come upon a magnificent place embraced by two colonnades like two immense semicircles. There is a noble obelisk from Egypt in the centre, and two splendid fountains, always playing, one at each side. Then the lofty church is before you, with gates of great height and width. The church seems lower than it is because of the immense colonnades which lead to it.
When you enter St. Peter's is spacious and gorgeous, but empty. You advance and come to the entrance of the crypt, and there are magnificent steps surrounded by a balustrade, with numerous coloured lamps about, and you are assured, and you may believe it if you like, that below are the bodies of St. Peter and St. Paul. Behind this is the choir and the altar; above the ALTAR IS THE POPE'S CHAIR, throne, and the Pope's triple crown above that.
This symbol of the Pope's self-exaltation above his Master called forcibly to mind the words of the Apostle respecting the man of sin, “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. ii. 4). I could not but be struck with this corroboration before my eyes of the apostasy which was then in germ.
The enormous vanity that has placed the Pope's throne over the altar of God, has not only been shared by the foolish old man who at present occupies the Papal chair, but been displayed by him to a ludicrous extent. If a bridge has been repaired by a few planks, or any work been done, however trifling, it is inscribed as a work of the Pontificate of Pius the Ninth.