« ElőzőTovább »
tion, the events of the general election,”—all arguments in full force when I heard him make that real speech. · But the most absurd contradiction was, that though, with that insight into motives which one assumes in sleep, I thought all admitted that O'Connell had, in a great measure, forced them into their present course, yet that those who on that account paid tardy and unwilling homage at the shrine of reason and of justice, still proposed to continue on that one marked individual the exclusion which they no longer dared to inflict on seven millions of his countrymen! Strange as it would seem, that those who still dreaded distant danger from concession, and yielded only on the balance of expediency, and from the desire of tranquillity, should, whilst they removed the defence, continue the grievance; foster disturbance where danger could not be pretended; and after having at length killed this many-headed monster of a question, instead of burying it decently, should allow its gigantic ghost to stalk a troubled spirit over still distracted Ireland.
I take it, after shaping these strange phantoms in the earlier part of the night, that I slept more quietly for some time, of which I had a sort of half-consciousness, for I thought I peeped into the House of Commons, and then they were as quietly digesting the Catholic Question as I was my kangaroo, for they were all asleep likewise. Once I thought a gentleman, on what used to be the Opposition side of the House, got up, and in a whisper, as if afraid of disturbing any one, offered to the Chancellor of the Exchequer an account of some millions to explain ; to which the Right Hon. Gentleman only replied that it was all right, for that he had just cast his eye over it-a physical facility to do which is supposed his qualification for the office which he holds. Another tine, I thought I saw a middle-aged man, with a scarlet face and portly person, take the opportunity of both parties being asleep, to slip silently across from his seat on the Opposition side to the Treasury Bench, of which change of place no one seemed to take the slightest notice.
Towards morning I dreamed (and it was the pleasantest moment of my dream,) that I listened in the House of Lords, on a subject affecting the national honour, to one, the charms of whose eloquence are not more enhanced by the energy of his manner and the enthusiasm of his fine open countenance, than by the conviction that every word is dictated by feelings of the purest patriotism, and an active spirit of universal benevolence. Whilst listening to him, I watched the staff which surrounded the Field-marshal, and fancied I saw in the midst of many generals one who had been amongst the oldest private and political friends of him who was speaking, and a devoted follower of his illustrious uncle ; and I thought to myself, “ If that is really you, I am sure you would sacrifice a whole year of place to be allowed just now to give vent'to one heartfelt cheer." I fancied, in the confusion, that the defence of Don Miguel was attempted by a dark, solemn man, whom I did not recollect as a minister, and who looked, as well as spoke, more like a Portuguese than an Englishman.
“A change came o'er the spirit of my dream ;" I thought I saw our military Minister, with a valet-de-chambre's jacket and apron over his uniform, dressing Don Miguel in royal robes. When the toilet was finished, he offered his Majesty what at first appeared a folded pockethandkerchief, but which, on opening, turned out to be the British flag, in which Miguel first blew his nose, and then spit upon it; at which such a deafening shout of indignation arose, that the Duke opened his mouth and looked astonished; Miguel ran away and dropped his crown, and I awoke.
Before the many, many months are over which must elapse ere this reaches England, events will have happened probably directly the reverse of this unlikely dream of your sincere friend,
WALKS IN ROME AND ITS ENVIRONS, NO, XIX.
San Paolo fuori le mure. “O Paule! ad quid erectum tenes ensem? non vides quàm abominose jacet di. rupta Ecclesia tua, et quàm negligenter providetur ei."- Ludov. Monach. Cassinat. MS. Ined. Vat.
Some days had now passed since I had visited any of the Churches of the City. I had intended to have taken them all, in their order. St. Peter occupies, of course, the first rank, but there are several competitors for secondary honours. 'The four “ Basilicæ"* might each confer a distinction on any of the first-rate capitals of Europe; here “ elles font foule.”
I got into my caritelle at an early hour, and soon reached the Porta Ostiensis, or di San Paolo. I had formerly advanced as far as this gate in my visit to the Sepulchre of the Scipios. From this entrance you pass at once into utter desolation. The Campagna spreads before you. It is the monotony of perfect waste-a misty sun above, in the midst of a sky of siroccolooking dusky blue, and a parched or fenny earth around. The track of fire and ruin which the Saracens left behind them seems scarcely to have been obliterated. The road leads through a narrow hollow, scooped out not so much by the corrosion of torrents, or the slow progress of civilization, as by the accumulation of ruins crumbling over ruins, from tomb and villa upon either side. The skeletons of sepulchres, worn by the air as by the ebb and flow of waters, stand up on the green ridges which crown the tufo : the weeds and red-flowering shrubs peeping through their deep rents, and sometimes cleaving the marble inscriptions by the subtle and sure strength of vegetation, give memorials of the work of destruction which for centuries has been going on below. The pavement (the ancient Appian) appears in patches here and there through the dust, or is heard creaking under the deep-loaded wains of the Campagna husbandman, as you proceed along. The reeds which bordered the
* There are only four churches in the city to which such title properly appertains. Even Donati gives no good reason for this privilege,-how it originated, or how it afterwards extended to the seven. In general, the name is applied to the “ Palais de Justice,” or Court-house of a city, amongst the Greeks: a relic of the kingly government, confounded with the judicial. Vitruvius (1. 6, c. 8,) applies it to private houses ; the fact was, in his time the houses of the richer Patricians rivalled in splendour and extent the public tribunals. Baronius (Annal. c. 57, p. 1,) speaks of a senator converting his house to a “ Basilica.” St. Felix is said to have founded a Basilica, and in the reign of Pope Cornelius there were no less than forty in the city. (Optatus.) Ecclesia, however, was the familiar term ; for a considerable time, it was the only one used by the Romans : the word Basilica fell into disuse.
+ The Saracens were frequent visitors. They had already been familiarized to the soil of Sicily and Naples. The proscriptions of Sylla, the absorbing luxury of the Emperors, the emigrations to Constantinople, the “ New Rome,” the Saracens and Vandals following on the heel of all these revolutions, and the Pope shrinking from every spot where the Saracens had trod, all contributed to complete the desolation of a region once inhabited by twenty various tribes, and more thickly studded with towns than it afterwards was with villas.
road stood still—not a voice was heard--the Contadino passed by with his mantle wrapped up over his mouth, to keep out the pestilential exhalations of these deserts, with a suspicious glance, but without a single word. A small oratory, with its whitening frescoes peeling off in flakes, on the grassgrown sill,-a cavern hewn with a hasty hand from the peperino,—the unwindowed halls of an ancient villa, were all that could remind the traveller of humanity. In about thirty minutes after leaving the gate, I found myself in face of the “ Basilica of San Paolo."
The ancient road passes by the ancient entrance. It opens into the tribune of the Church. The modern conducts to the opposite side, or to the vestibule. A small grass platform, enclosed with dead walls, spreads immediately before it. The store-looking Basilica-as on this side it truly is has been lately restored to its Benedictine proprietors. It does not appear to have much profited by the restoration. In the portico I found an old grey horse that had intruded from his paddock into the sanctuary: there was no one to drive him away. The façade is low and meagre, and, with the exception of its mosaics and its great bronze gates, has no appearance of antiquity. Its yellow and white modern decorations* recall nothing. The architecture is indifferent, and hardly excites remark. The mosaic, which appears above the low terrace and balustrade of the portico, is the work of Pietro Cavallini, executed by the order of Clement VI. With all the staring defects of this period of the arts, it is more than ordinarily free from the thinness and dryness of the early mechanists. It has suffered much in many places, particularly in the head of the apostles, from lightning; marks of similar injury are observable in the semi-gothic campanile or belfry near. The back-ground, which is all gold, after the usual etiquette of these royal presents, has been most affected. The sacristan, thinking he had interpreted my thought, looked up, shook his head, and observed, with a complaining smile, that there was no money, “non c'è denaro." In the portico, on the right as you enter, is a large sarcophagus, which derives all its interest from the explanation it furnishes of a very disputed question of ancient art. One of its extremities presents, in the midst of abundance of the usual accompaniments, genii, flowers, &c. executed in the coarsest style, a figure in the precise attitude of the “ Arotino" of Florence, t waiting the orders of Apollo for the flaying of Marsyas. The principal inscription implies its having once been converted to the use of a certain " Pier Leoni Conte Aventino"-(he was father of the Anti-pope); and another immediately behind intimates the restoration and preservation of the monument by some descendant of the family so late as 1674.
But the most remarkable monuments here are the famous bronze doors. They are lofty and massive-storied to excess and “sgraffiato," instead of being sculptured in relief like those of St. Peter's. On one of the valves the inscriptions are for the most part Latin, on the other Greek. The style of
* These modern improvements are munificentiâ Benedicti XIII.” and worthy of his degenerate age.
+ The * Arotino” is the safest name, says Lanzi, and avoids all disputes (Dis. sertaz della Galleria di Fir. par 2.c. 14.) But this is leaving the knot both uncut and untied. Leonardo Agostini (Gronov. Thes. Ant. Græc. t. 2. lib. 86,) was the first to hint a doubt against the received absurdity of calling it the “ Barber of Julius Cæsar.” The hint was improved by Fea (Notes to Winklemann, tome 2. p. 314, and Mon. Ined. No. 42, by Visconti, M. P. C. t. 5. p. 6, &c.) But the connection with the fable of Marsyas is now placed beyond doubt. When seen in conjunction with the Marsyas in the Gallery of Florence, it is easily explained. That figure is almost precisely the same as what we meet on the present monument. See also the medals published by Pellerin in 3 P of his Raccolta Tav. 132, n. 7, the medal of Antoninus Pius, struck at Alexandria in Egypt, &c. &c. The character of the head is Scythian, and there is a remarkable coincidence between it and that of the Cossack of the Don (see Blumenbach's Observations, &c.) It is as strongly and characteristically marked, as the head of the gladiator, though of a very different structure and expression. The type of the gladiator is also barbarian, but Gaulish.
the letters, the orthography, the use and application of the accents, is strictly Romaic. The subjects chiefly refer to the exploits and sufferings of St. Paul, of St. John, and of other saints. The titles written over each, the flat. ness and rigidity of delineation, the absence of profile (the reverse of the commencement of the art), the upright rectangular position of the figure, show corruption and degradation, and belong strictly to the oplo 80€ou pouason. Two inscriptions, among many others, hold forth, that Pantaleone Castelli, a Roman consul, as Martinelli says, had them executed to the glory of the Apostles. These inscriptions are of the rudest and most irregular kind, and in general of that pierced or dotted character, which was in frequent use in Asiatic Greece, and a specimen of which may be seen on the vase or urn of Mithridates in the Capitol.* · The entrance is distinguished by a few indifferent verses, which designate the objects and names of the several builders. You then pass the low arcaded vestibule, and are, without farther preface, in the church. It is strange, vast, full of hideous defect, glaring incoherency; but, with all this, it is impossible not to feel its first aspect highly impressive. The interior is composed of a nave, double aisles, and transept-all that can be expected from the effect of pillar and colonnade is fully produced ; but the form, (Basilical,) a defect hardly obviated even in Greek temples, much more than the motley assemblage which composes it, retrenches much from this character of nobleness and simplicity. An open gallery above, frequent in the classic Basilicæ, corrected in a great degree this defect, and proportioned more equally the incumbent weight. Here the space and apparent mass is much too great, and the roof lies heavily, and even appears to bend in the middle. This optic illusion can only be remedied by a slight arch ;-and then the distance is already too great for the supporting pillars. The pillars themselves form rather a grove than colonnade; the eye cannot get at them with ease, and, when seen, you lose the third and fourth row considerably too much. They are, besides, far too various in their orders, diameters, modules, pedestals, and capitals, and give the impression of the vilest of all compilations. The period at which they were gathered together is very easily discovered. It was an age of scrap and plunder, and misapplication, and poverty; creation and originality were no longer known. Yet, with all this, they are a lesson from which the modern architect may profit. With every vice and corruption, the magic of a well-continued perspective is not lost. The richness of these and other marbles have excited the lavish eulogies of Ficoroni, who
• Sismondi says the outline was framed by silver :-"Les Portes de St. Paul ne sont pas sculptées en relief, mais seulement gravées, et les lignes qui forment le contour des figures sont garnies.” (p. 178. v. 4. Republiques d'Italie.) It appeared to me of a sort of mixture of silver and lead. But the whole of the passage is a series of mistakes. In comparing them to the gates of Andrea Pisano at Florence, he observes, « C'est un rapprochement curieux, que de les comparer aux portes de la ba. silique de St. Paul fuor di mura, ouvrage informe au regne du grand Theodose, entrepris par les premiers sculpteurs de l'univers, sous la direction du plus puissant monarque de la Chretienté, dans un tems où les artistes avaient de toutes parts sous les yeux les inimitables modèles de l'antiquité ; mais où la despotisme seule avait suffi pour faire reculer la civilization, et pour étouffer toute espèce de génie.” The error has obviously arisen from confounding the execution of the gates with the en. largement of the church by Theodosius, in 386—see note, p. 178 (1); but it is singular that if he had ever visited the Basilica (and Sismondi has been at Rome), he should so easily have passed over the very decisive evidence, in the way of manner and inscription, upon the gates themselves. The inscriptions state, very distinctly, that they were executed in the city of Constantinople, and presented to the apostle in the year 1070. The Consul who presented them was a certain Pantaleon, a Greek name, and not a Venetian, as Hobhouse supposes. (Illustrations of Childe Harold-see Nicephorus.) This mis-statement is the more material, as upon it is attempted to be founded an interesting theory in the history of the art.
has been as minute as a Roman Scarpellaro in his catalogue.* The beechen roof, now destroyed, was lauded formerly for its mechanism ; but compared to that of Westminster Hall, it was an abominable disfigurement, indicating nothing so much as penury and malaria. The great mosaic of the principal arch is coarse and crowded; the pavement is peculiarly neglected, and almost in fragments. Benedict XIV. should have extended his restorations to the floor. The absence of side altars improves the general simplicity ; it is only at the Tribune they commence. The 6eus our Opovor of these Catholic sacella, or side chapels, are almost as destructive of harmony, and subjection of principals to accessories, as the pews which break up our finest Protestant cathedrals. The open character of the Tribune partakes strongly of the modern Greek form, and shows how ancient is the presumed modern corruption. The lowness of the arch, the fulness of the absis, the isolation of the high altar, are finely basilical. The granite columns, which support this portion of the building, have all the sober magnificence which is conferred by great mass and peculiar depth of colour. The transept is short and plain, and in poor keeping with the rest of the church. Cavallini has been here again, with his mosaics, over the high altar. He has given us also some of his decorations in the miraculous cross of St. Bridget.t The “ Confessio," as it is called, is of the same semi-gothic character observable in St. John of Lateran. It is what the Italians call Tudesque, but which they neither like nor understand. The style, after all, is mongrel-the crude attempts of the North engrafted upon the corruptions of the South.
The paintings are generally very indifferent, and all from secondary masters: Lanfranco (they have taken the pains to copy him), Ghezzi, Gentileschi, Muziani, vie with each other in mediocrity. On the walls of the church are the huge frescoes of Cavallini, so faded as to allow no judgment to be formed of his skies, and hardly of his compositions. But much the more important portion of the paintings are the series of the Papal portraits. They have been published at various times, and in various forms. The very eager
• “Questa Basilica fabbricata da Constantino Magno per la ricchezza e la magnificenza delle colonne, e delle tavole di porfiro, supera ogn'altro non sol di Roma ma d'ogni parte del mondo.” Ficoroni counts thirty columns of porphyry at the side altars, four at the high altar; forty of pavonazzo, in the nave; forty of Parian ; eight of red granite ; two of marmo solino, &c.”_ Vestigia di Roma, 1. v. c. xxii.
+ Pietro Cavallini is supposed to have been one of the first disciples of Giotto. Padre della Valle, however, finding that Cavallini was contemporary with Giotto, imagines him to have been the elève of the Cosimati, who flourished in 1290, at Rome. In that year, Adeodato di Cosimo Cosimati worked in the choir of Santa Maria Maggiore (Lanzi, vol. i. p. 6, ed. 1817), and several others of the same name; and, as far as I could judge from actual observation of the same school, were employed in the magnificent Duomo of Orvieto. All these, how rude they may be, are preferable to the Greek artists of the same period, who worked in the San Marco of Venice, (Valle prefaz. al Vasari, p. 61.) Indeed, the Roman school, from the frequency perhaps of ancient fragments, and the numbers of churches and Basilicæ in being so early as the tenth and eleventh centuries, seem early to have acquired a supremacy in mosaics, which they have retained ever since. The ease of manner observed by Della Valle is derivable, perhaps, from the exercise of fresco- painting ; for even the smaller paintings of the Byzantine school are far superior to the attempts of the Pisans and Florentines of the same date. Cavallini was both a fresco-painter and a mosaicist; and not only has given his mosaics a good deal of the freedom of painting, but has carried also into his paintings much of the brilliancy and richness of the former art. In his great fresco at Assisi, especially, Lanzi remarks, what indeed must have struck every one, the predominance and brilliant preservation of his “ Oriental sapphire skies.”_Vol. ii. p. 14. and vol. i. p. 6. I do not know whether his epitaph alludes to this :
“ Quantum Romanæ Petrus decus addidit urbi,
Pictura tantum dat decus ipse polo."