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in solitude-with no voice to rouse the dreary echoes around and disturb the day-dream which steals over one. Any place on the earth, or, as in the present case, under the earth, is delightful and excellent in sympathetic company. But it is perfectly insufferable to go down into any part of subterranean Rome specially-where the past reigns supreme, unjostled by the busy present—with a party of vulgar Americans-a mishap I here encountered.
The individuals in question were a young married couple, very fresh indeed from the native soil; not a Yankeeism had been absorbed by the broad Atlantic, but all their nationality came out fresh and verdant as though they had never quitted home. The Adam creature smoked a cigar ostentatiously in my face, while his Eve, an ugly girl, turned on her heel, hummed, and talked bad French.
We stood before the ruined shrine from whence the Laocoon was duga the coloured frescoes on a deep Tyrrean purple ground, admirably preserved over the deep niche, beneath which reposed that famous group hidden for so many ages in dust and earth. This precise moment was chosen by the American Eve to commence a lively dissertation with her lord.
" I say, Tom, there's nothing doing in the digging line, no “go ahead” at all here below, I say, now; but that's strange, couldn't them find more places to work?”
The classic echoes refused to bear these words, which fell heavy on the ears of all save her husband, who warmly responded, told her “She was the gal to push along, wherever she was, pretty considerable he guessed; but that people in these parts didn't seem to him never a bit enterprising. I should like," continued he, " to see a squad of our fellows-nice smart chaps—let loose down here, and tell 'em there was gold in these vaults: Gemini, we should see enough 'go ahead then; wouldn't 'em work? Why the old place would come mortually tumbling about their ears."
We passed into the long and beautifully proportioned corridor, extending along the extreme length; frescoes wonderfully preserved, shown by the light of a torch, the colours still bright, ornamented the arched roof, faces, birds, masks, and animals with the most graceful arabesques, supposed to have lent hints to Raphael in adorning the Vatican Loggie. While we were looking at them, the husband turned to me, and asked
“ If I did not think that the Romans must feel very badly about owning such a ruined old city ? For my part," continued he, “I won't be hired to call myself a citizen. I guess they would mighty well like to hear about our cars, and steamers, and glorious United freedom. I should like to know how they all purposes for to live here, in such a great quarry. What's your sentiments, marm?"
I barely had patience to make him a civil rejoinder, and finding I was to be made, nolens volens, a party in the discussion, retreated up-stairs from coarse jokes and vulgar common-places, too unbearable to chronicle. At length I gained upper air and solitude, and, sitting down on a grassy mound opposite, contemplated the glorious Colosseum rising up out of the valley below, freed from all buildings or town-like reminiscences, in an amphitheatre of fresh green, that set off doubly the rich shades of its gigantic arcades.
There are other places where portions of the Baths of Titus are visible, the Church of San Martino di Monti, which is, however, disputed, for some look on these remains as portions of the Baths of Trajan, and the Sette Sale, a general reservoir common to the Baths and Colosseum. After I had recovered from the transatlantic attack, I proceeded to the church, devoutly offering up my prayers to the whole calendar not to encounter any more Americans, at least of that stamp, for otherwise I delight in them, and feel quite ready to sing their praises with Frederika Bremer.
Up a particularly filthy and narrow lane, breaking off from that glorious highway leading in a straight line from Santa Maria Maggiore, crowning the Esquilini with its spowy domes and colonnades, to the old Lateran Basilica, proudly spreading its immense, though elegantly light, façade on the summit of the Colian Hill, is situated one of the grandest and most interesting martyr churches of Rome-San Martino di Monti. No mere casual observer would ever discover the church, hemmed in as it is in a narrow alley, bordered by great blank walls, standing in a tumble-down cortile where a French soldier keeps guard, part of the monastery being occupied as a barrack. On entering the spacious and admirably proportioned edifice, the eye is perfectly overcome with the gorgeous ensemble of painting, gilding, marble, mosaics, fluted columns, all surmounted by a ceiling, so magnificent in purple, gold, and crimson, the colours finely mellowed by age, that it requires some moments actually to realise the splendour surrounding one. The central nave is large and grand, the columns supporting the aisles of ancient, and therefore classical, workmanship ; the altar, raised on double flights of coloured-marble steps, is resplendent with magnificent decoration ; the tribune above glows in gilding and rich frescoes ; side chapels of great beauty open out beneath the arches of the aisles, decorated with statuary and painting.
I can give no details, for my memory seems oppressed and stupefied by the grandeur of the whole, rather than any part of this superb ecclesiastical drawing-room, such being the only appropriate term I can apply to it. I do remember one curious painting of Saint Elijah, as the Catholics call him, who, in company with the Wandering Jew, is, according to tradition, supposed to be still walking the world until the end of all things. He, as if wearied by his endless pilgrimage, reposes on a rock, while an angel beckons to him, pointing to the extended sea stretching away before them, as if animating hiin to proceed on his wanderings.
The aisles are filled with paintings, alternating with the interesting frescoes of Poussin-poor and washy, however, in execution, I confess, to my eyes, and much injured by damp, as are his water-colour paintings in the Colonna Palace, though beautiful, as far as the drawing goes, and full of fancy, and rich in Italian character.
There is a large fresco of a council held under Silvester, who was Pope when Constantine established Christianity as the religion of the Roman empire, enforcing the acts of the general council of Nice in the condemnation of Arius Sabellius, &c., burning their heretical works in the presence of the emperor, who is represented sitting lower than the pontiffs, a little apart from the bishops, ranged in circular seats around. I descended down marble stairs to the first subterraneous church, situated immediately under the altar, which being visible from the nave, gives great lightness to the tribune, as row after row of coloured marble balustrades meet and intersect each other, ascending and descending very gracefully.
I'his lower church, or crypt, is circular; the arched roof supported by clustered columns of much beauty. Here lie the bones of Silvester, as well as no less than four martyred popes, besides those of many other early confessors to the faith, who sealed their life by a glorious death. Around in this narrow space are collected all that remains of many of that blessed army of martyrs whose spirits, it is surely only just to suppose, hover over and guard with peculiar care and love the Imperial City where they lived, and believed, and suffered in the flesh-Ciriacus, and Priscilla, and Anastasia, and Serquis, and Fabian, and many another name more honoured in the courts of Heaven than remembered on forgetful and careless earth.
The monk, acting as my guide, who I instantly discovered to be Lucchese from his accent, made his reverences before their remains, and then opened a door at one side, where, through a narrow-arched stair, we descended into a dimly-lighted cavernous vault below. Owing to having early been consecrated as a church, and serving as a place of concealment to Silvester in the stormy days of persecution prior to the accession of Constantine, these ruins have been wonderfully preserved-no Roman remains in Rome are more perfect nor more striking. Green damp covers the gigantic piers supporting the boldly arched vaults, while here and there appear great entrances, now built up, leading into other long-drawn aisles—we know not how far beyond-communicating with the interminable network of catacombs surrounding subterraneous Rome.
We walked upon a black and white mosaic pavement similar to that I have noticed at the Baths of Caracalla. Not a sound, not a sight, but was in harmony with this venerable region of the tombs :
Faint from the entrance came a daylight ray, gleaming down the passage by which we had entered into the solemn crypt, heavy with the dews of long ages, and rich in the association of both Pagan and Christian Rome. No modern hand has desecrated it, Bernini, thank Heaven, having left untouched this earliest sanctuary out of the catacombs. A place more awful and solemnising cannot be conceived, and as I wandered among the huge arches and openings receding into deep vistas of solemn gloom, I felt penetrated with indescribable reverence in the presence of these consecrated remains that even ruthless Time has spared.
What are the Roman or his works to me? It is the religious associations clinging to these old walls that entrance me ; the recollections of the early martyrs, their faith, their love, their sufferings, the fearless zeal which drove them to raise altars to the Catholic Jehovah on the very walls where pagan deities had ruled. The black-robed monk was in perfect keeping with the scene, moving silently about, the red cross embroidered on his dress, a symbolic beacon anid the gloom :
Shades were its boundary, for my strained eye sought
For other limit to its width in vain. The monk showed me the coffin of Beato Tommaso, suspended midway from the blackened walls. Cardinals' hats, all ruined by damp and age, hung from the arched roof, monuments were under our feet, tombs around, bones and skulls heaped confusedly in corners. There was a chapel at one dark extremity where Pope Silvester had prayed and invoked the Virgin that still hung there, believing that she had turned and looked at him. What wonders might one not believe deep down buried in the earth? There was his chair wherein he sat when in this time-honoured hall the great council was held, the same as represented in the glorious church above. Once the baths were on a level with the city, now they are buried in its foundations; but the memory of those times lives, and breathes, and breaks forth from these subterraneous depths in the hearts of those who come and go, carrying recollections and impressions that will not away.
Pagan Rome is gone, and Christian Rome is alone upheld by northern troops, but those solemn walls stand firm, majestic, and imperial even in decay; and those altars, where rest the martyred saints, are entire in the consecrated gloom which the sun has not penetrated these eighteen centuries.
Close by the church there is a well walled vineyard, bearing the inscription outside, in small chalked letters, of “Sette Sale.” A stranger might pass hundreds of times up that lonely lane hemmed in with walls and not remark it; yet there are treasures of ruins within that wooden door, which opened to us after long knocking.
A highly cultivated garden appeared, with a broad path winding through the trellised vines, which I followed. The good-humoured contadine stood up as I passed, and, smiling, wished me “Una buona passeggiata.” Good lack! did they think, kind souls, because I was clad in velvet and silk, that I was happy? Alas! could they have seen my aching heart, they would have let me pass unenvied by, and turned with contentment to planting their potatoes. It was I who envied them, with their fair, chubby children beside them, which they could call their own.
In one corner of the pretty vineyard, positively bristling with ruins, is a hillock formed of crumbling walls, overgrown with grass, and myrtle, and dwarf ilex bushes, with here and there a long straggling vine, in whose side seven arched openings, hoary with decay, open into seven enormous vaults-great cavernous recesses—all black and dismal-used, as is supposed, for reservoirs of water, to supply the Colosseum and the Baths of Titus, which lie further on, near the fall of the hill. The cabbages and lettuce grow up to the very brink of these awful pits, and all nature wears a smiling, domestic character around, utterly unsympathetic with, and sternly repulsed by, the frowning ruins, which scorn such impertinent approximation.
Wandering down a little further, I came on an enormous portico, forming one of the angles of the baths, where the philosophers used to expound their Grecian wisdom in the ears of the degenerate Romans. Perhaps under that very arch, the siege of Jerusalem, the obstinacy and destruction of the Jews, and the magnanimity of Titus, were discussed and commented on, as the latest news from the East.” How are the mighty fallen! Rome lives but in a few unintelligible ruinsma fragment and a confusion !- Titus-his arch with its triumphs, and his baths, are mouldering in decay; the Jews, wandering over God's wide
earth, and a few olive-trees bask in the warm sunshine under the vaulted. roof, once radiant in marble and gold, where congregated the learned few whose togas swept the rich mosaic floors. The pillared colonnades, the shady groves, the magnificent shrines, have vanished; the sumptuous pile is no more; and Nero's golden house, accursed for his sake, and exiled from the surface of the earth, alone preserves its subterranean walls, buried deep down in the bosom of mother earth-that parent whose cold embrace cherishes so carefully all entrusted to her keeping
If it is delightful to see remarkable places, immortal statues, and glorious pictures, it is no less amusing and novel to become acquainted with the many remarkable personages who pass before one with the variety and rapidity of a kaleidoscope. Everybody comes to Rome--from the last converted negro, to be dipped in Constantine's fount at the Lateran, to the Emperor of all the Russias ; and everybody can be seen and examined, not lost and swallowed up as in the vast vortex, ever fermenting up and down, peculiar to giant London-a world-monster, devouring all it gathers, and yet never satisfied.
At this moment one may jostle in the streets of Rome, Lockhart, Thackeray, Fanny Kemble, Wiseman, Manning, Van Buren, Mrs. Barrett Browning, and a host of ignoble fry-among which dukes and lords and princes may be reckoned.
I made the acquaintance to-day of a very remarkable man, on whose shoulders at present rests the entire responsibility of the Papal government-Cardinal Antonelli, secretary of state to Pius IX., and minister also of finance, of police, of justice, of everything-multum in parvo, in fact; for he has appointed such mere lay figures to these various offices, that he alone bears the onus and the weight of the entire machine of state.
There are complaints, not loud but deep, of a system by which, it is said, the internal government suffers immensely from this personal concentration of power; for the cardinal prefers diplomaey to blue books and financial details, and neglects, it is said, the one to apply himself the more undividedly to the other. Deficits are spoken of in the revenue, and there is immense distress throughout Romagna, whether proceeding from scarcity and scanty harvests, or mal-government, I cannot say; and there are grumblings and great discontent, as it is known that the dear, good, pacific Pope, since he was driven from his throne because he would not head a republic, leaves the management of everything to his favourite minister.
Antonelli was instrumental in his holiness's escape to Gaeta, and very nearly himself got murdered in those stormy days, when Rome was given up to Red Republicans. But now he is installed in the Vatican, and appears neither to dread nor to remember the fate of poor Rossi, the best and most upright man in Italy, who fell assassinated by a furious populace on the stairs of the Palazzo della Cancelleria, because his course of reform was not rapidly enough progressing to satisfy their wild ideas and insane cravings for licentious liberty. Without question, his successor, Antonelli, is a very remarkable person, and gifted with superior talents for government; reste à savoir if one man can do everything—a state problem, the solving of which may cost the Roman states another revolution.