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these is illustrative of a passage in the book of Maccabees, representing the overthrow of Heliodorus, who came to plunder the temple at Jerusalem, by two angels and a warrior mounted upon his charger, sent to the aid of Onias, the High Priest. The forms, the speed, the irresistible power of the celestial messengers in executing their commission, are admirably conceived and expressed. So also are the horse and his rider. It is not impossible, that Milton's image of the Arch-Fiend, "half on foot, half flying," was drawn from this very picture; for either angel, rushing onward towards Heliodorus,
“ With head, hands, wings, or feet pursues his way,"
appearing scarcely to touch the earth in the rapidity of the movement.
The subject of the second picture in this room is the Miracle of Bolsena, in which a drop of blood exudes from the consecrated wafer, and thus removes the scepticism of a priest, who till then doubted the real presence of the Saviour in the eucharist. Sir Edward James Smith, in his remarks on this fresco, intimates that the wonder was wrought by the simple machinery of “a currant tart.” But fortunately the merits of the painting do not depend on the truth of the story. The representation is admirable, and embodies the spirit of the papal court in that age. Pope Julius II. is present, but does not turn his head, as if a miracle was an ordinary event, and to be expected as a matter of course, for the conviction of unbelievers. His attendants manifest the same indifference, lest they should lead the amazed multitude to believe, that such prodigies are of rare occurrence with the faithful. The whole design is a severe satire upon his Holiness, although it was not probably so intended, as he was introduced by particular request.
A third picture in the same apartment represents Attila arrested in his march against Rome, by discovering St. Peter and St. Paul descending from heaven to oppose his progress. The army are unconscious of the vision; and the aerial phantom bears a strong resemblance to the dagger scene in the tragedy of Macbeth. There is a beautiful bas-relief representation of the same subject, on the tomb of one of the Popes in St. Peter's. The fourth wall of this room is occupied by the fresco, on which Dr. Bell and others have lavished so many praises the Release of St. Peter from prison by an Angel. If a criticism may be hazarded upon a work, which others have pronounced faultless, I should say there is a want of unity in the action. A picture can represent but a moment of time; yet the Angel here first awakens the Apostle out of sleep, and afterwards is seen conducting him from prison. The execution is worthy of all the applause it has received ; and the management of the light and shade is perhaps unrivalled.
I hardly dare proceed with even a brief analysis of these celebrated frescos; and yet there are some others which ought not to be passed over in silence. Of the School of Athens every one has heard, and the universality of its fame does not transcend its intrinsic merits. In the assembled multitude of Grecian sages, no two heads are in the least alike, and so distinctly marked is the expression of each, as to amount to a philosophical personification of character, where the tenets of each sect may be read. Even the temple, in which the gathered wisdom of Athens is exhibited, possesses a high degree of interest ; as it is a copy of the original design for St. Peter's, by Bramante and Michael Angelo.
Two of the remaining pictures in this chamber are filled with allegorical figures, and present comparatively few attractions ; but the fourth is one of the most amusing in the whole collection. It represents Parnassus, and expresses Raphael's scale of poetic merit. On the summit of the Mount stands Ilomer, in the guise of an improvisatore, pouring forth rhapsodies, accompanied by Apollo on the violin! The latter is surrounded by the tuneful circle of the Muses. Old Mæonides is supported on the right by Dante, and on the left by Virgil, upon the same level with their great prototype. The artist has taken the liberty of placing himself in this group of kindred spirits; a rank to which he is fairly entitled by his genius, though the apotheosis had perhaps with more propriety been left to others. To the relative elevation of some of the poets, a classical scholar night feel disposed to object. Tibullus, though high on the mountain, is not perhaps placed above his merits ; but why are Pindar and Horace degraded below Ovid and Boccacio ?-Petrarch and Laura are happily introduced, still enamoured of the shade ; while Sappho sits near, holding the lyre and listening to their loves.
The paintings in the fourth room represent the victory over the Saracens at Ostia ; the Coronation of Charlemagne by one of the Popes; the oath taken in the presence of that monarch by Leo III. ; and the Fire in the Borgo San Spirito, near the Vatican. Of these the last is by far the finest, and has been reckoned one of the greatest works of the immortal artist. In every particular, it is true to nature, and parts of it are in the highest degree pathetic ; such as the frantic supplications of females, and a young man, Æneas like, rescuing from the flames his aged father. It is gratifying to observe with what religious veneration these frescos are now preserved, and with how much enthu
siasm they are studied and admired. I never found or left the rooms destitute of a crowd of visitants. Such is the homage paid to the divinity of genius.
Another department of the Vatican, comprising a suite of half a dozen chambers, contains a small but choice collection of pictures by the first masters. The most celebrated of these is the Transfiguration, by Raphael, the merits of which have in my opinion been greatly overrated. Truth compels me to confess, that it afforded me very little pleasure-far less than many of the minor pieces of the same artist. My disappointment was perhaps in part owing as usual to exaggerated expectations. Yet it appeared to me there are intrinsic and obvious defects in the design, the composition, and expression. It is a well known principle, that in every picture there should be some leading feature, some prominent point, to which all other parts ought to be rendered subordinate and accessory. There is a gross violation of this rule in the Transfiguration. The action is broken, and unsubdued, and the mind of the spectator is distracted by contending groups. In such a scene, one might naturally expect that the Saviour, with his countenance like lightning and his raiment white as snow, would be the most conspicuous figure.
But this is not the case. In the multitude at the base of the mountain, forming the largest section of the piece, a maniac boy, convulsed and distorted with madness, forces himself upon the eye, and prevents it from rising to what should be the principal object of attention—the transformation of the Saviour. Raphael seldom “o'ersteps the modesty of nature ;" but in this instance, his maniac is characterized by all the wildness and extravagance of Domenichino. The figure is so overwrought, as to become, like the Ophelia of West, an object of horror and disgust. Nor does the scene upon the mount, filling the upper part of the canvass, display much grandeur of conception. Its glories are but feebly, not to say awkwardly, represented. The Saviour is poised in air, with Moses and Elias at his side. To the celestial figure and self-balanced position of the former, the mind of the spectator is readily reconciled; but the heavy-moulded persons of the two attendants, treading upon vacuity, appear in most unnatural and constrained attitudes. Such miraculous buoyancy does not seem to be authorised or required by the words of the Evangelist ; and I can perceive no reason why the divine trio might not with more propriety have stood upon terra firma.
Of the other rare pictures in this gallery, the most remarkable are the Madonna di Foligno, and the Coronation of the Madonna, by Raphael; the Crucifixion of St. Peter, by Guido ; the Incredulity of St. Thomas, and a Magdalen, by Guercino; a Holy Family, by Caravaggio ; a Madonna and Saints, ascribed to Titian ; the Communion of St. Jerome, by Domenichino. These are all gems. The two first and the last are inimitable productions. Most of them have crossed the Alps and attracted crowds of admirers to the Louvre, where they remained till the restoration of the Bourbons. The apartments in which they are at present deposited, are open to the public twice a week, and at all times accessible to artists, to whom every facility is afforded for taking copies and prosecuting their professional pursuits.
ROME CONTINUED-VATICAN MUSEUM.-LIBRARY-GARDEN-SKETCH
OF THE PRESENT POPE.
The Chiaramonti and Pio-Clementino Museums at the Vatican are so extensive, and contain such an infinite variety of articles, that I almost recoil from the task of retracing the labyrinth of sumptuous saloons, and of attempting to give even so much as a desultory notice of their splendid treasures. In comparison with this display of papal magnificence, the halls of the Louvre, the galleries of Florence, and the Studii at Naples are but toy-shops. Here are not less than fifty apartments, or more properly superb temples of the arts, of different sizes and the most beautiful forms; sometimes opening immediately into another, and at others, connected by long corridors, presenting the finest vistas imaginable ; with pavements of the richest mosaic, walls lined with pillars of porphyry, alabaster, and Parian marble, and roofs bright with azure and gold; all filled with the choicest collections of antiquities, sculptures, busts, and statues. Several visits are required, to catch even a hasty glance at the innumerable objects, which challenge attention and bewilder the mind of the spectator.
The entrance to the Museum is from the quarter of the Vatican denominated the Belvidere, through a gallery something like a thousand ieet in length, and fifteen or twenty feet in width, the walls of which are lined from the floor to the ceiling with ancient inscriptions. Those on the right are taken from the tombs, tablets, and sarcophagi of the old Romans; while those upon the left were chiefly found in the catacombs, and relate to the early christians. The original fragments of marble are arranged with care, and firmly fixed, so as to form thc permanent facing of the wall. What a volume of private history, containing a thousand minute particulars, illustrative of the early ages, to be obtained from no other sources, is here opened to the scholar and antiquary! What a commentary, too, on the vanities of life do these shattered remnants of sepulchral monuments afford; where a mutilated epitaph or the record of a name furnishes the only trace of the forgotten dead! All else respecting them has perished.
Having traversed this Campo Santo of the Vatican, consecrated ex