Page images
PDF
EPUB

(221) At the words " Tu Marcellus eris.” The story is so beautiful that every reader must wish it to be true.

(222) From the golden pillar in the Forum the ways ran to the gates, and from the gates to the extremities of the empire.

(223) It was Caius Gracchus who introduced vehement action and the practice of walking to and fro when they spoke. -Dio. fragm. xxxiv. 90.

(224) The laws of the twelve tables were inscribed on pillars of brass, and placed in the most conspicuous part of the Forum. - Dion. Hal.

(225) “ Amplitudo tanta est, ut conspiciatur a Latiario Jove." - C. Plin.

(226) The Rostra.

(227) Marcus Junius Brutus.

(228) We are told that Cæsar passed the Rubicon and overthrew the Commonwealth ; but the seeds of destruction were already in the Senate-house, the Forum, and the Camp. When Cæsar fell, was liberty restored ?

History, as well as poetry, delights in a hero, and is forever ascribing to one what was the work of many ; for, as men, we are flattered by such representations of human greatness; forgetting how often leaders are led, and overlooking the thousand thousand springs of action by which the events of the world are brought to pass.

(229) It was in the Via Sacra that Horace, when musing along as usual, was so cruelly assailed ; and how well has he described an animal that preys on its kind! It was there also that Cicero was assailed; but he bore his sufferings with less composure, as well indeed he might ; taking refuge in the vestibule of the nearest house. - Ad Att. iv. 3.

“ Adscendit Capitolium ad lumina,"

(230) An allusion to Cæsar in his Gallic triumph. &c. - Suetonius.

(231) In the triumph of Æmilus, nothing affected the Roman people like the children of Perseus. Many wept ; nor could anything else attract notice till they were gone by. Plutarch.

(232) “Rien ne servit mieux Rome, que le respect qu'elle imprima à la terre. Elle mit d'abord les rois dans le silence, et les rendit comme stupides. Il ne s'agissoit pas du degré de leur puissance ; mais leur personne propre étoit attaquée. Risquer une guerre, c'étoit s'exposer à la captivité, à la mort, à l'infamie du triomphe." - Montesquieu.

(233) Perseus.

(234) Jugurtha.

(235) Zenobia.

(236) “Spare me,

I pray, this indignity,” said Perseus to Æmilius. "Make me not a public spectacle ; drag me not through your streets.” — “What you ask for," replied the Roman, “is in your own power.” - Plutarch.

(237) Cleopatra.

(238) Sophonisba. The story of the marriage and the poison is well known to every reader.

(239) The Pantheon.

[blocks in formation]

(240) The transfiguration ; “la quale opera, nel vedere il corpo morto, e quella viva, faceva scoppiare l'anima di dolore à ogni uno che quivi guardava.- Vasari.

(241) “You admire that picture," said an old Dominican to me at Padua, as I stood contemplating a Last Supper in the Refectory of his convent, the figures as large as the life. " I have sat at my meals before it for seven and forty years ; and such are the changes that have taken place among us, - so many have come and gone in the time, – that, when I look upon the company there, - upon those who are sitting at that table, silent as they are, - I am sometimes inclined to think that we, and not they, are the shadows."

The celebrated fresco of Lionardo da Vinci in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, at Milan, must again and again have suggested the same reflection. Opposite to it stood the prior's table, the monks sitting down the chamber on the right and left ; and the artist, throughout his picture, has evidently endeavored to make it correspond with what he saw when they were assembled there. The table-cloth, with the corners tied up, and with its regular folds as from the press, must have been faithfully copied ; and the dishes and drinking-cups are, no doubt, such as were used by the fathers in that day. - See Goethe, vol. xxxix, p. 94.

Indefatigable was Lionardo in the prosecution of this work. “I have seen him," says Bandello the novelist, “ mount the scaffold at daybreak and continue there till night, forgetting to eat or drink. Not but that he would sometimes leave it for many days together, and then return only to meditate upon it, or to touch and retouch it here and there.” The prior was forever complaining of the little progress that he made, and the duke at last consented to speak to him on the subject. His answer is given by Vasari. Perhaps I am then most busy when I seem to be most idle, for I must think before I execute. But, think as I will, there are two persons at the supper to whom I shall never do justice, our Lord and the disciple who betrayed him. Now, if the prior would but sit to me for the last"

The prior gave him no more trouble.

(242) A dialogue which is said to have passed many years ago at Lyons (Mem. de Grammont, i. 3), and which may still be heard in almost every hôtellerie at daybreak.

(243) Ilow noble is that burst of eloquence in Hooker! 6 Of law there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world. All things in heaven and earth do her homage ; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power.

(244) As the descendants of an illustrious people have lately done.

They know their strength, and know that, to be free,
They have but to deserve it.

(245) Candor, generosity and justice, how rare are they in the world ; and how much is to be deplored the want of them! When a minister in our parliament consents at last to a measure, which, for many reasons perhaps existing no longer, he had before refused to adopt, there should be no exultation as over the fallen, no taunt, no jeer. How often may the resistance be continued lest an enemy should triumph, and the result of conviction be received as a symptom of fear !

(246) Are we not also unjust to ourselves; and are not the best among us the most so ? Many a good deed is done by us and forgotten. Our benevolent feelings are indulged, and we think no more of it. But is it so when we err? And when we wrong another and cannot redress the wrong, where are we then ? Yet so it is, and so no doubt it should be, to urge us on without ceasing, in this place of trial and discipline,

From good to better and to better still.

(247) The author of the Letters to Julia has written admirably on this subject.

“ All sad, all silent! O'er the ear

No sound of cheerful toil is swelling.
Earth has no quickening spirit here,

Nature no charm, and man no dwelling !" Not less admirably has he described a Roman beauty ; such as “ weaves her spells beyond the Tiber.”

"Methinks the Furies with their snakes,

Or Venus with her zone, might gird her;
Of fiend and goddess she partakes,

And looks at once both Love and Murder."

(248) Mons Albanus, now called Monte Cavo. On the summit stood for many centuries the temple of Jupiter Latiaris. “ Tuque ex tuo edito monte Latiaris, sancte Jupiter," &c. -Cicero.

(249) Æneid, xii. 134.

(250) Nisus and Euryalus. “ La scène des six derniers livres de Virgile ne comprend qu'une lieue de terrain." - Bonstetten.

(251) Forty-seven, according to Dionys. Halicar. I. i.

(252) Tivoli.

(253) Palestrina.

(254) La Riccia.

(255) “Horatiorum quà viret sacer campus.” — Mart.

(256) “Quæ prata Quintia vocantur.” – Livy.

(257) Mons Sacer.

(258) It was not always so. There were once within her walls “more erected spirits."

“ Let me recall to your mind,” says Petrarch, in a letter to old Stephen Colonna, “ the walk we took together at a late hour in the broad street that leads from your palace to the Capitol. To me it seems as yesterday, though it was ten years ago. When we arrived where the four ways meet, we stopped ; and, none interrupting us, discoursed long on the fallen fortunes of your house. Fixing your eyes steadfastly upon me and then turning them away full of tears, "I have nothing now,' you said, 'to leave my children. But a still greater calamity awaits me.--I shall inherit from them all. You remember the words, no doubt ; words so fully accomplished. I certainly do ; and as distinctly as the old sepulchre in the corner, on which we were leaning with our elbows at the time." Epist. Famil. viii. 1.

The sepulchre here alluded to must have been that of Bibulus; and what an interest it derives from this anecdote! Stephen Colonna was a hero worthy of antiquity ; and in his distress was an object, not of pity, but of reverence.

When overtaken by his pursuers and questioned by those who knew him not, “I am Stephen Colonna," he replied, “ a citizen of Rome !" and when, in the last extremity of battle, a voice cried out to him, “Where is now your fortress, Colonna ? " “Here!” he answered gayly, laying his hand on his heart.

(259) Music ; and from the loftiest strain to the lowliest, from a Miserere in the Holy Week to the shepherd's humble offering in advent; the last, if we may judge from its effects, not the least subduing, perhaps the most so.

Once, as I was approaching Frescati in the sunshine of a cloudless December morning, I observed a rustic group by the road-side, before an image of the Virgin, that claimed the devotions of the passenger from a niche in a vineyard wall. Two young men from the mountains of the Abruzzi, in their long brown cloaks, were playing a Christmas carol. Their instruments were a hautboy and a bagpipe ; and the air, wild and simple as it was, was such as she might accept with pleasure. The ingenuous and smiling countenances of these rude minstrels, who seemed so sure that she heard them, and the unaffected delight of their little audience, all younger than themselves, all standing uncovered, and moving their lips in prayer, would have arrested the most careless traveller.

(260) Whoever has entered the Church of St. Peter's or the Pauline Chapel, during the exposition of the Holy Sacrament there, will not soon forget the blaze of the altar, or the dark circle of worshippers kneeling in silence before it.

(261) An allusion to the saying of Archimedes, “ Give me a place to stand upon, and I will move the earth."

(262) An allusion to the prophecies concerning Antichrist. See the interpretations of Mede, Newton, Clarke, &c.; not to mention those of Dante and Petrarch.

(263) It was at such a moment, when contemplating the young and the beautiful, that Tasso conceived his sonnets, beginning “Vergine pia,” and “ Vergine bella." Those to whom he addressed them have long been forgotten; though they were as much perhaps to be loved, and as much also to be pitied.

(264) Her back was at that time turned to the people ; but in his countenance might be read all that was passing. The cardinal, who officiated, was a venerable old man, evidently unused to the service, and much affected by it.

(265) Among other ceremonies, a pall was thrown over her, and a requiem sung.

(266) He is of the beetle-tribe.

(267) “For, in that upper clime, effulgence comes

Of gladness.” — Cary's Dante.

(268) There is a song to the lucciola in every dialect of Italy; as, for instance, in the Genoese.

6 Cabela, vegni a baso ;

Ti dajo un cuge de lette."

The Roman is in a higher strain.

“Bella regina,” &c.

(269) “ Io piglio, quando il di giunge al confine,

Le lucciole ne' prati anpj ridotte,
E, come gemme, le comparto al crine ;
Poi fra l' ombre da' rai vivi interrotte
Mi presento ai Pastori, e ognun mi dice ;
Clori ha la stelle al crin come ha la Notte."

Varano.

(270) Pliny mentions an extraordinary instance of longevity in the ilex. “There is one," says he, " in the Vatican, older than the city itself. An Etruscan inscription in letters of brass attests that even in those days the tree was held sacred."

(271) I did not tell you that just below the first fall, on the side of the rock, and hanging over that torrent, are little ruins which they show you for Horace's house, a curious situation to observe the

“ Præceps Anio, et Tiburni lucus, et uda
Mobilibus pomaria rivis."

Gray's Letters.

(272) The glow-worm.

(273) We were now within a few hours of the Campania Felix. On the color and flavor of Falernian consult Galen and Dioscorides.

(274) As, indeed, it always was, contributing those of every degree, from a milord with his suite, to him whose only attendant is his shadow. Coryate, in 1608, performed his journey on foot ; and, returning, hung up his shoes in his village church as an ex-voto. Goldsmith, a century and a half afterwards, followed in nearly the same path ; playing a tune on his flute to procure admittance, whenever he approached a cottage at night-fall.

(275) We cross a narrow sea ; we land on a shore which we have contemplated from our own ; and we awake, as it were, in another planet. The very child that lisps there lisps in words which we have yet to learn.

Nor is it less interesting, if less striking, to observe the gradations in language, and feature, and character, as we travel on from kingdom to kingdom. The French peasant becomes more and more an Italian as we approach Italy, and a Spaniard as we approach Spain.

(276) To judge at once of a nation, we have only to throw our eyes on the markets and the fields. If the markets are well supplied, the fields well cultivated, all is right. If otherwise, we may say, and say truly, these people are barbarous or oppressed.

(277) Assuredly not, if the last has laid a proper foundation. Knowledge makes knowledge as money makes money, nor ever perhaps so fast as on a journey.

(278) For that knowledge, indeed, which is the most precious, we have not far to go ; and how often is it to be found where least it is looked for! “I have learned more," said a dying man on the scaffold, “in one little dark corner of yonder tower, than by any travel in so many places as I have seen." —Holinshed.

(279) The place here described is near Mola di Gaëta, in the kingdom of Naples.

(280) Alluding to Alfonso Piccolomini. “Stupiva ciascuno che, mentre un bandito osservava rigorosamente la sua parola, il Papa non avesse ribrezzo di mancare alla propria." - ,

Galluzzi, ii. 361. He was hanged at Florence, March 16, 1591.

(281) Tasso was returning from Naples to Rome, and had arrived at Mola Di Gaëta, when he received this tribute of respect. The captain of the troop was Marco di Sciarra. - See Manso, Vita del Tasso." Ariosto had a similar adventure with Filippo Pacchione. -- See Garafalo.

(282) “ Cette race de bandits a ses racines dans la population même du pays. La police ne sait où les trouver." -Lettres de Chateauvieux.

(283) This story was written in the year 1820, and is founded on the many narratives which at that time were circulating in Rome and Naples.

(281) “ Pray that you may pray,” said a venerable pastor to one who came to lament that he had lost the privilege of prayer.

It is related of a great transgressor that he awaked at last to reflection as from a dream, and on his knees had recourse to the prayer of his childhood.

« PreviousContinue »