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in a kind of platform, so that a coach might almost drive to the door. Had the depth been somewhat contracted. a horizontal plain continued, and full instead of half steps constructed, the effect would have been much more striking. From the upper flight, the front of the church ranges along between the two galleries, to the extent of four hundred feet, and rises nearly two hundred feet in height, supported by enormous Corinthian columns at the bottom, with a sort of attic story embellished with Ionic pillars, pilasters, and a variety of architectural ornaments, which deprive the façade of all simplicity of character. To this defect, numerous windows and balconies, whence the Pope pronounces his benedictions upon the people, greatly contribute and justify all the criticisms of architects. The front is broken into irregular sections, and resembles that of a palace rather than of a religious temple. A balustrade extends along the top, behind which stand colossal statues of the Saviour and his twelve Apostles, the former in the centre, and the latter ranged on either hand. They are about twenty feet in height, and bear their characteristic emblems. At the corners are the papal arms-the keys, the eagle, and the triple crown.
Five stately entrances, corresponding with the number of doors, open into the vestibule, which extends across the whole breadth of the front, is thirty feet wide, and upwards of sixty in height. The ceiling is splendidly gilt; and the walls are enriched with a variety of bas-relief and other decorations. Two equestrian statues-one of the Emperor Constantine, and the other of Charlemagne-occupy the extremities of the porch, and terminate to great advantage the long perspective. Of the five doors, the central one is of bronze, resembling those in the Cathedral at Pisa, and the Baptistery at Florence, though inferior to both in workmanship. The compartiments of bas-relief contrast oddly with the heavy, greasy curtains in the shape of coverlets, hanging at the other entrances, and pushed aside by the visitant, to enable him to crawl through. One of the doors possesses peculiar sanctity, and is opened only at the return of the year of Jubilee, when the Pope uses the hammer, and acts as porter in person, unbarring a new gate to the sanctuary, through which the eager multitude rush. Its threshold and the cross on the pannels are worn by the lips of devotees, who never pass it without a salutation.
At his initiation into the interior of St. Peter's, the spectator may probably pause for a moment in mute admiration of the splendid scene, which opens before him. He will look forward through a perspective of more than six hundred feet, from the front door to the extremity of the chancel behind the High Altar, and lift his dazzled eye from the tesselated pavement of marble, to the profusely gilded vault, at the
height of seventy or eighty feet above his head. After the glare of the coup d'oeil is over, and his feelings are prepared to survey objects with deliberation, he will set about examining the construction of the church, and the world of ornaments it contains. The same optical deception with regard to dimensions prevails here, as on the exterior. One sees a white marble cherub clinging to the wall and supporting a font of holy water. It appears a mere child of the ordinary size; but the hands attempt in vain to span the colossal wrist or ancle. A pen is seen in the hand of an Evangelist, in proportion to the statue; and it is found to be six feet in length. Some of the decorations suffer extremely from not having been calculated for such a scale, appearing like mere motes upon the walls.
Contrary to the plan of Michael Angelo, who intended to bring his stupendous dome into the centre, the church is in the shape of a Roman instead of a Greek cross. This form and some obvious defects in the construction greatly impair the grandeur and beauty of the interior. The nave is about two hundred feet in width, bordered with walls which are ornamented with Corinthian pilasters, and intermediate niches holding colossal saints. From the nave, lofty arcades open into the two aisles, which are lined on the sides next to the walls with a succession of chapels and altars. The massive partitions, separating the nave from the aisles, break up and destroy the view, taken as a whole, and but a small part of the area can be seen at a time. Had pillars been substituted in place of pilasters and arches, the tout ensemble would have been inconceivably grand.
The High Altar is in the centre of the cross, beneath the peerless dome, and above the tomb of St. Peter. It is a prouder shrine than ever rose to a pagan god, amidst all the wealth and splendour of the East. Four spiral columns of bronze, wreathed with garlands and adorned with cherubim, rise to the height of ninety feet to support the canopy, which is surmounted by angels and a cross, said to be one hundred and thirty feet above the pavement. In front of the altar is a beautiful balustrade, enclosing a flight of steps, which descend to the tomb of the Patron Saint. At the foot of the stairs spreads a small but splendid area, denominated the Sacred Confessory. The walls are lined with alabaster, lapis lazuli, and red antique. A white marble statue kneels upon the brilliant mosaic, before the brazen doors, which guard the sepulchre. The balustrade above is hung with a hundred cornucopiæ, supporting lamps which are kept eternally burning.
But let us cast our eyes upward, and survey that miracle of architecture, the inimitable dome, spanning a rotunda one hundred and
forty feet in diameter, and swelling to the height of four hundred feet above the pavement! It is unquestionably the most stupendous and the sublimest work of the kind ever reared by human art; and the longer one gazes, the more is he astonished at the indescribable grandeur and beauty of the fabric, which would immortalize the genius of Michael Angelo, had he left no other monument of his fame. The walls of the cupola are lined with splendid mosaics, representing the hosts of heaven, angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, assembled in the presence of the Almighty, who is enthroned above, almost beyond the reach of the eye. Nothing but the unequalled majesty of such a canopy could sustain the boldness of its ornaments. At the foot of the dome, are colossal statues of the four Evangelists; and above, two galleries, one at the height of a hundred and seventy, and the other two hundred and forty feet from the pavement, encircle the interior. Near the latter is the appropriate motto of the church, inscribed in one line and in large letters, which are legible from the floor-"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church; and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven."
How painful and humiliating is it, to turn from the elevation of thought and the exhibition of human power, bodied forth in this wonderful achievement of the arts-nay more, from the contemplation of the shadowy image of the Supreme Being himself to a miserable idol, seated upon a pedestal near the High Altar! It is called a statue of St. Peter, though it was once a Jupiter Capitolinus. I regret to say, that neither its character nor destination seems to be essentially elevated by a conversion to christianity; for the worship daily and hourly paid to it rises but little if any above the most abject idolatry. The material is bronze, of a coal black complexion. As the figure is no larger than life, the colossal proportions of other objects in the vicinity give to the image of the saint the appearance of a sooty negro, set up for the mockery of adoration. Devotees approach in crowds, kneel, rub their foreheads against the knees, with the stupidity of cattle, and kiss the toe with fervid lips. The parts of the bronze most exposed to caresses are kept bright by a perpetual round of blandishments. In the 19th century, an age of light and knowledge, when even the Pope is sending missionaries to the four corners of the earth, to prostrate heathen idols-in the oldest nation of Europe-in a city where the principles of christianity were first firmly established-under these circumstances, such a degrading spectacle is the greatest of all the miracles, which the traveller will find about St. Peter's! Yet what religious rites are to be expected in a temple dedicated, not to God, but to the
chief of the Apostles ?* I say it not irreverently, that neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Ghost is here worshipped; but a new Trinity composed of St. Peter, the Virgin, and the Pope!
Behind the High Altar, in the semicircular Chancel or Tribuna, stands the bronze chair of the Patron Saint, elevated against the wall seventy feet above the pavement, and supported by four colossal figures of the doctors of the Greek and Latin church. Above it is a round window, with the glass stained of a yellow hue, on which the Holy Spirit is portrayed in the form of a dove, and through which the western sun pours a shower of saffron light sufficient to gild the brazen ornaments. The tomb of Urban VIII. is on the left of the chair of St. Peter; and on the right, is a rich group of statuary, designed by Michael Angelo, in memory of his distinguished patron, Pope Paul III. The figure of justice, represented in the guise of a young female, is said to have been originally so beautiful, that a Spanish cavalier, probably a descendant of the knight of La Mancha, or his redoubtable squire, fell in love with the voluptuous marble. His Holiness, taking a hint from the unfortunate passion of this modern Pygmalion, muffled justice in a bronze habit, rendering her charms less attractive.
One or two rounds through the aisles, a Sabbath-day's journey in extent, will satisfy most travellers, that amidst the boundless riches and gorgeous decorations of this church, there are very few objects of intense interest to rivet attention. In a chaos of splendour, composed of the most precious materials, the eye roves, and carelessly surveys, it scarcely knows or cares what-columns which it took an age to polish and rear-marbles and gems, which the wealth of a kingdom could not purchase-walls covered with pictures of the Italian masters in mosaic-shrines sparkling with jewels, and wreathed with the smoke of incense. At every turn, you meet colossal statues of monks and saints, whose names are only to be learned from the papal calendar; tombs of Popes, who left no other monuments behind, than proud piles of sepulchral marble; exiled kings with mock titles of sovereignty, and queens who never saw a throne or a sceptre. The
* The words, "In honorem principis Apostolorum Paulus Borghesius Romanus," are inscribed in capitals on the front.
† These mosaics are composed of globules of painted glass, bedded in a composition, which hardens and becomes durable as marble. After the work is done, the surface is polished in the same manner as mirrors. The most celebrated pictures of this description in the church are copies of Raphael's Transfiguration; Guido's Archangel and his crucifixion of St. Paul; Domenichino's martyrdom of St. Sebastian and his communion of St. Girolamo; and Guercino's story of St. Petronilla.
last of the Stuarts are gathered into the sanctuary of the faithful; and the historical reader may here muse over the ashes of Charles III. James IV. and Henry IX. kings of England, whose reigns Hume and Smollet forgot to mention! I would not insult the dust of this persecuted race; but such tricks are too ludicrous to be carried to the grave.
With the exception of Leo X. and two or three others, there is scarcely a distinguished name in the congregation of Popes, who have been so fortunate as to find an apotheosis in St. Peter's. But what is still more remarkable in a city, which is the very centre of the fine arts, and in the grandest temple ever reared by human hands, the sepulchral monuments are generally characterized by a sort of regular dullness, with no very gross defects and but few striking merits; as if genius was paralysed by the subjects it was employed to commemorate. But besides this cold negative mediocrity, there is much positive bad taste in the ornaments-devices unsuited to the solemnity of the church and the tomb-materials of different complexions-marbles highly gilt, and tricked out with other gaudy decorations. By far the finest monument is in memory of Clement XIII. by Canova. At the base are two recumbent lions: the one represented asleep is a noble production of the chisel. A holy family, by Michael Angelo, is on too small a scale to produce much effect. The baptismal font was once a part of the tomb of Otho II. It is of beautiful porphyry, but tastelessly bedizzened with bronze. A pillar in one of the aisles is said to be that against which the Saviour leaned, while disputing with the doctors in the temple at Jerusalem. The church is finely lighted, and an equable temperature preserved throughout the year.
The principal chapels are those of the Choir, in which mass is daily celebrated; and of the Holy Sacrament, on the opposite side of the nave. Innumerable confessories, resembling the sentry boxes of watchmen, with a lateral aperture, where the ear of the priest may come in contact with the lips of the penitent, are ranged round the ends of the transept. They are made of wood, movable, and labelled with the languages for which each is intended. A person may here confess his transgressions in any tongue-Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, German, English, and a dozen others. All sorts of persons, old and young, male and female, civil and military, may be seen kneeling at the sides of the boxes, pouring out the secrets of their hearts in whispers. It is said, with what truth I know not, that frequent iniquities are practised by the priests, availing themselves of the propensities and weaknesses disclosed to them in confessions, for forming intrigues of their own; while in too many instances the