« PreviousContinue »
was crowded with devotees, and the confessories, with penitents. I saw several Austrian soldiers whispering their offences in the ears of priests, who might whisper back their own in turn. Hundreds of the plebeian throng were observed bearing in their hands stalks of the seed onion and garlic, which on this festival receive the blessing of the Pope! It is supposed the fruits of the earth will not succeed without his benediction-a strange article of faith in a region, which the stewards of St. Peter have rendered sterile and unproductive.
After the show at St. John Lateran was over, we visited the Palazzo Farnesina beyond the Tiber, to examine some rare frescos, by Raphael and his scholars. They cover the ceiling of a lofty and splendid hall, which is bordered with waving clusters of fruit. The principal work is the Feast of the Gods, comprising a full assemblage of the heathen divinities, engaged in the convivial rites of the symposium, and each wearing the emblems of his power. In a corner of the saloon, is a group of the Graces, one of which is ascribed solely to the pencil of Raphael. An adjoining room contains his celebrated Galatea. The chariot is drawn by dolphins, and above it are seen Cupids volant, shooting their arrows, Parthian like, as they fly. A colossal head on the wall is ascribed to Michael Angelo. Its history, as derived from the custode, is as follows:-while Raphael was painting these rooms, Buonaroti stepped in one day, and finding no one present, climbed the scaffolding, and drew the outlines of the head with a piece of charcoal. On returning to his work, Raphael found the sketch, and inquired who had been there. No one knew. From a close examination, he recognized the touches of his great rival, and ordered the head to be finished, as it now stands. Others say, that Michael Angelo intended it as a criticism upon the too diminutive decorations of the
In the afternoon we visited a district of the city between the Forum and the Tiber, where all the Jews, to the number of eight thousand, are inhumanly shut up at night under lock and key, like so many cattle. They have here a synagogue, small but rich. It is of the Corinthian order, with gilt columns. The history and religion of the Israelites are illustrated in compartments of bass-relief on the upper part of the wall. The aged Jew, who officiates in the temple, opened the Holy of Holies for our inspection. It is rich in embroidered silks and other ornaments. The reading-desk and galleries for females are like those in the synagogue at Leghorn. We saw many of the persecuted race. They have dark complexions, and the same contour of face, which marks this peculiar people the world over.
On the 26th, we descended the Tiber, through the whole extent of
the city, in a row-boat, and landing at the ancient port, went thence to the Villa Mattei, on the Cælian Mount. This charming retreat, situated under the walls of Rome, and commanding a fine view of the ruins of Caracalla's baths, is a part of the estates of the celebrated Spanish Prince of Peace, who was notorious for his licentiousness and his amours in Spain. A large tract of land in the vicinity belongs to the villa. The grounds are laid out with considerable taste, ornamented with trees, parterres, shady walks, statues, and a lofty Egyptian Obelisk. In the Lodge are two good statues-a Venus and a Nero, by Canova; a fantastic portrait of the queen of Spain; and several splendid vases of alabaster, filled with luscious clusters of imitation grapes. The collection of statuary and painting consists chiefly of copies. We here saw a new kind of play, called "the devil-on-twosticks." It is a puerile amusement, fit only for princes and children.
In front of the church of Santa Maria della Navicella, we examined a model of a Roman Galley, sculptured in marble, which was presented as a votive offering to the shrine and gave name to the chapel. It is of large dimensions, and placed upon stocks, at considerable elevation from the ground. It possesses some interest both as a work of art, and still more as furnishing an illustration of the classics. We continued our excursion hence to the church of St. Stephen in Rotondo, the skeleton of an ancient temple built by Vespasian. It is in a circular form, supported by double rows of antique columns. In compartments round the walls, the tortures of the early Christians, from the reign of Nero downward, are minutely delineated, with references and explanatory inscriptions. The exhibition is horrid beyond description. Bodies are seen lacerated and mangled in the most shocking manner. Ingenuity seems to have been put to the rack, in devising the most exquisite modes of torture. Fire and sword, boiling caldrons, gridirons, and dens of wild beasts, are here portrayed to the life. While we were examining the church, the sound of revelry and loud laughter was heard in the cloisters of an adjoining convent. It proceeded from a society of monks, who were making themselves merry over their viands and wine. One of the attendants spread a table for us, in an apartment of the old monastery, and brought us an excellent kind of small fish from the Tiber, with a glass of Orvietto. Pursuing our ramble over the Cælian Mount, we passed under the ancient arch of Dolabella, and visited the church of St. Gregory, for the purpose of examining the rival frescos of Guido and Domenichino. Both are fine; but the work of the former is in my opinion much the best. The chapel contains a statue of St. Gregory by Michael Angelo. It is worthy of his chisel. A curious Latin inscription states, that
while the patron saint was entertaining twelve pilgrims at his table, a thirteenth guest appeared among them, who proved to be an angel. Whether he ate and drank with the rest, the legend saith not. In returning by the Arch of Titus, we saw a crowd collected to fish the dead body of a young man out of a deep pit, into which he had precipitated himself, in a fit of love or insanity. At evening we had a delightful stroll along the bank of the Tiber, between the Porta del Popolo and the Milvian Bridge.
On the 28th, Signor Trentanove called and accompanied us to the Studio of the Cavalier Landi, a living painter of much eminence. His principal work is the Triumph of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. The scene is laid at Paris. Lord Darnley is a prominent person upon the canvass, but badly executed. The best figure is a Highland Soldier, in his national costume. In another apartment, is a small historical picture; and an undraped Venus, not remarkable for her attractions. A call was also made at the Studio of Cavaliere, a young artist of great promise. The English appear to be the best patrons of the arts at Rome. We here saw Lady Childers, in her splendid costume, worn at one of Torlonia's great balls; Lord Stackpole and his family, taken in the attitude of kneeling during a presentation to the Pope; and an English huntsman in full dress. Among other sights, I this afternoon saw the original of Canova's Venus, at a window across a narrow street. She thrust out her head and rested sometime, as if on purpose to show her pretty face, her snowy neck, and alabaster arms.
ROME CONCLUDED-FESTIVAL OF ST. PETER-ILLUMINATION OF HIS CHURCH-FIREWORKS OF ST. ANGELO-MONTE CAVALLO-TEMPLE OF THE SUN-MASSIMI PALACE-A SUMMER DAY IN ROME--MAL'ARIA— CEREMONY OF TAKING THE VEIL-THEATRES-ACADEMY OF ST. LUKE —SKULL OF RAPHAEL--CELEBRATION OF THE FOURTH OF JULY—AMERICAN CONSUL.
In the evening of the 28th we accompanied Signor Trentanove to the Princess Gabrielli's, to witness the illumination of St. Peter's. A first view was obtained in crossing the bridge of St. Angelo. The whole front and dome of the church were brilliantly lighted up, the lamps being disposed in fanciful shapes, and investing the proud pile in a golden hue. Pursuing our ride through the principal streets, already thronged with the congregated city, we climbed the steep ascent of Mount Janiculum, on the brow of which the Villa Gabrielli is situated, commanding a full view of Rome spreading beneath. The spacious grounds are tastefully laid out, intersected by walks and avenues, shaded with a profusion of trees, and embellished with the works of art. It is one of the finest situations in the environs of Rome. The palace is large, stately, and elegant. We were ushered into the drawing-room and presented to the Prince and Princess. She is a tall genteel woman, the daughter of Lucien Bonaparte, and the mother of four lovely children. She is extremely polished in her manners, affable, and agreeable. It is said the King of Spain wished to marry her; but she refused the offer. Some one told her, that the contemplated marriage was a measure of state policy, and that her refusal would give offence to Napoleon her uncle. To which she replied, that "she did not fear whom she did not love❞—an answer worthy of a Roman lady, in the days of the Republic. The Prince is a silent man, who kept his seat most of the evening, and said little to any one, leaving the entertainment of the party to his better half. We were charmed with the simplicity and ease which prevail in this family, and with the literary taste which the Princess has inherited from her father. The tables in the several apartments were covered with books, as well as with journals, in Italian, French, and English. Many of the Roman nobility were present, among whom were a Marquis, a Count and his charming Countess, who is young, handsome, and extremely agreeable. I was as much delighted with her conversation and frankness of manners, as
with her personal accomplishments. Several other titled ladies were of the party; as also a Cardinal and several ecclesiastical dignitaries in full dress.
At 9 o'clock the attention of every one was attracted to St. Peter's, which was lighted up with larger and more brilliant lamps. The blaze was communicated with the rapidity of a flash of lightning, and in an instant the whole exterior of the immense fabric was enveloped in a sheet of the most dazzling effulgence. It was indeed a brilliant and beautiful spectacle. There is great risk in making the preparations for these illuminations, as it is necessary to descend by ropes to every part of the walls and dome. Hundreds have been killed, and the service is reckoned so dangerous, that the workmen all make their wills and partake of the sacrament, before they enter upon their labours. The expense of the exhibition is also heavy. A sufficient sum is wasted in oil and gunpowder, on each return of St. Peter's birthday, to endow a college or found a hospital. Something, however, is saved in the way of attracting foreigners to Rome, to witness these splendid illuminations.
At 10 o'clock, the fire-works at the castle of St. Angelo commenced with the discharge of cannon, and with the eruption of torrents of flame in every possible shape, scarcely less copious than the streams of lava from a volcano. The scene was indescribably grand and imposing. A succession of volleys continued for about an hour. The blaze was so intense, that the whole city was illuminated with the glare. Domes, palaces, and ruins, the Tiber and its bridges, reflecting the flood of light, bursting forth like electric flashes, presented one of the sublimest spectacles I have ever witnessed.
Illuminated buildings were seen in distant parts of the city. The front of the French Academy, on the Pincian Hill, was splendidly lighted up; and even the Villa Gabrielli exhibited its hundred mimic lamps, as a satellite to St. Peter's. Amidst so much brilliancy, in the saloons of the palace as well as abroad in the city, we passed a most agreeable and delightful evening, which was protracted to a late hour, and the pleasures of which will long be cherished with the fondest recollections.
The next day the celebration of the great anniversary was resumed. At 9 o'clock we went to St. Peter's, to hear mass and witness the ceremonies. An immense multitude had already assembled, men, women, and children, patricians and plebeians, monks, priests, and cardinals, in costumes as various as the decorations of the church. The peasantry from the neighbouring villages had all flocked in, and were distinguishable by their peculiarities of dress. Those from Nettuno