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Pictures from Italy by Charles Dickens

Part 3 out of 4

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villages among the caves, where the workmen live. It contains a
beautiful little Theatre, newly built; and it is an interesting
custom there, to form the chorus of labourers in the marble
quarries, who are self-taught and sing by ear. I heard them in a
comic opera, and in an act of 'Norma;' and they acquitted
themselves very well; unlike the common people of Italy generally,
who (with some exceptions among the Neapolitans) sing vilely out of
tune, and have very disagreeable singing voices.

From the summit of a lofty hill beyond Carrara, the first view of
the fertile plain in which the town of Pisa lies--with Leghorn, a
purple spot in the flat distance--is enchanting. Nor is it only
distance that lends enchantment to the view; for the fruitful
country, and rich woods of olive-trees through which the road
subsequently passes, render it delightful.

The moon was shining when we approached Pisa, and for a long time
we could see, behind the wall, the leaning Tower, all awry in the
uncertain light; the shadowy original of the old pictures in
school-books, setting forth 'The Wonders of the World.' Like most
things connected in their first associations with school-books and
school-times, it was too small. I felt it keenly. It was nothing
like so high above the wall as I had hoped. It was another of the
many deceptions practised by Mr. Harris, Bookseller, at the corner
of St. Paul's Churchyard, London. HIS Tower was a fiction, but
this was a reality--and, by comparison, a short reality. Still, it
looked very well, and very strange, and was quite as much out of
the perpendicular as Harris had represented it to be. The quiet
air of Pisa too; the big guard-house at the gate, with only two
little soldiers in it; the streets with scarcely any show of people
in them; and the Arno, flowing quaintly through the centre of the
town; were excellent. So, I bore no malice in my heart against Mr.
Harris (remembering his good intentions), but forgave him before
dinner, and went out, full of confidence, to see the Tower next

I might have known better; but, somehow, I had expected to see it,
casting its long shadow on a public street where people came and
went all day. It was a surprise to me to find it in a grave
retired place, apart from the general resort, and carpeted with
smooth green turf. But, the group of buildings, clustered on and
about this verdant carpet: comprising the Tower, the Baptistery,
the Cathedral, and the Church of the Campo Santo: is perhaps the
most remarkable and beautiful in the whole world; and from being
clustered there, together, away from the ordinary transactions and
details of the town, they have a singularly venerable and
impressive character. It is the architectural essence of a rich
old city, with all its common life and common habitations pressed
out, and filtered away.

SIMOND compares the Tower to the usual pictorial representations in
children's books of the Tower of Babel. It is a happy simile, and
conveys a better idea of the building than chapters of laboured
description. Nothing can exceed the grace and lightness of the
structure; nothing can be more remarkable than its general
appearance. In the course of the ascent to the top (which is by an
easy staircase), the inclination is not very apparent; but, at the
summit, it becomes so, and gives one the sensation of being in a
ship that has heeled over, through the action of an ebb-tide. The
effect UPON THE LOW SIDE, so to speak--looking over from the
gallery, and seeing the shaft recede to its base--is very
startling; and I saw a nervous traveller hold on to the Tower
involuntarily, after glancing down, as if he had some idea of
propping it up. The view within, from the ground--looking up, as
through a slanted tube--is also very curious. It certainly
inclines as much as the most sanguine tourist could desire. The
natural impulse of ninety-nine people out of a hundred, who were
about to recline upon the grass below it, to rest, and contemplate
the adjacent buildings, would probably be, not to take up their
position under the leaning side; it is so very much aslant.

The manifold beauties of the Cathedral and Baptistery need no
recapitulation from me; though in this case, as in a hundred
others, I find it difficult to separate my own delight in recalling
them, from your weariness in having them recalled. There is a
picture of St. Agnes, by Andrea del Sarto, in the former, and there
are a variety of rich columns in the latter, that tempt me

It is, I hope, no breach of my resolution not to be tempted into
elaborate descriptions, to remember the Campo Santo; where grass-
grown graves are dug in earth brought more than six hundred years
ago, from the Holy Land; and where there are, surrounding them,
such cloisters, with such playing lights and shadows falling
through their delicate tracery on the stone pavement, as surely the
dullest memory could never forget. On the walls of this solemn and
lovely place, are ancient frescoes, very much obliterated and
decayed, but very curious. As usually happens in almost any
collection of paintings, of any sort, in Italy, where there are
many heads, there is, in one of them, a striking accidental
likeness of Napoleon. At one time, I used to please my fancy with
the speculation whether these old painters, at their work, had a
foreboding knowledge of the man who would one day arise to wreak
such destruction upon art: whose soldiers would make targets of
great pictures, and stable their horses among triumphs of
architecture. But the same Corsican face is so plentiful in some
parts of Italy at this day, that a more commonplace solution of the
coincidence is unavoidable.

If Pisa be the seventh wonder of the world in right of its Tower,
it may claim to be, at least, the second or third in right of its
beggars. They waylay the unhappy visitor at every turn, escort him
to every door he enters at, and lie in wait for him, with strong
reinforcements, at every door by which they know he must come out.
The grating of the portal on its hinges is the signal for a general
shout, and the moment he appears, he is hemmed in, and fallen on,
by heaps of rags and personal distortions. The beggars seem to
embody all the trade and enterprise of Pisa. Nothing else is
stirring, but warm air. Going through the streets, the fronts of
the sleepy houses look like backs. They are all so still and
quiet, and unlike houses with people in them, that the greater part
of the city has the appearance of a city at daybreak, or during a
general siesta of the population. Or it is yet more like those
backgrounds of houses in common prints, or old engravings, where
windows and doors are squarely indicated, and one figure (a beggar
of course) is seen walking off by itself into illimitable

Not so Leghorn (made illustrious by SMOLLETT'S grave), which is a
thriving, business-like, matter-of-fact place, where idleness is
shouldered out of the way by commerce. The regulations observed
there, in reference to trade and merchants, are very liberal and
free; and the town, of course, benefits by them. Leghorn had a bad
name in connection with stabbers, and with some justice it must be
allowed; for, not many years ago, there was an assassination club
there, the members of which bore no ill-will to anybody in
particular, but stabbed people (quite strangers to them) in the
streets at night, for the pleasure and excitement of the
recreation. I think the president of this amiable society was a
shoemaker. He was taken, however, and the club was broken up. It
would, probably, have disappeared in the natural course of events,
before the railroad between Leghorn and Pisa, which is a good one,
and has already begun to astonish Italy with a precedent of
punctuality, order, plain dealing, and improvement--the most
dangerous and heretical astonisher of all. There must have been a
slight sensation, as of earthquake, surely, in the Vatican, when
the first Italian railroad was thrown open.

Returning to Pisa, and hiring a good-tempered Vetturino, and his
four horses, to take us on to Rome, we travelled through pleasant
Tuscan villages and cheerful scenery all day. The roadside crosses
in this part of Italy are numerous and curious. There is seldom a
figure on the cross, though there is sometimes a face, but they are
remarkable for being garnished with little models in wood, of every
possible object that can be connected with the Saviour's death.
The cock that crowed when Peter had denied his Master thrice, is
usually perched on the tip-top; and an ornithological phenomenon he
generally is. Under him, is the inscription. Then, hung on to the
cross-beam, are the spear, the reed with the sponge of vinegar and
water at the end, the coat without seam for which the soldiers cast
lots, the dice-box with which they threw for it, the hammer that
drove in the nails, the pincers that pulled them out, the ladder
which was set against the cross, the crown of thorns, the
instrument of flagellation, the lanthorn with which Mary went to
the tomb (I suppose), and the sword with which Peter smote the
servant of the high priest,--a perfect toy-shop of little objects,
repeated at every four or five miles, all along the highway.

On the evening of the second day from Pisa, we reached the
beautiful old city of Siena. There was what they called a
Carnival, in progress; but, as its secret lay in a score or two of
melancholy people walking up and down the principal street in
common toy-shop masks, and being more melancholy, if possible, than
the same sort of people in England, I say no more of it. We went
off, betimes next morning, to see the Cathedral, which is
wonderfully picturesque inside and out, especially the latter--also
the market-place, or great Piazza, which is a large square, with a
great broken-nosed fountain in it: some quaint Gothic houses: and
a high square brick tower; OUTSIDE the top of which--a curious
feature in such views in Italy--hangs an enormous bell. It is like
a bit of Venice, without the water. There are some curious old
Palazzi in the town, which is very ancient; and without having (for
me) the interest of Verona, or Genoa, it is very dreamy and
fantastic, and most interesting.

We went on again, as soon as we had seen these things, and going
over a rather bleak country (there had been nothing but vines until
now: mere walking-sticks at that season of the year), stopped, as
usual, between one and two hours in the middle of the day, to rest
the horses; that being a part of every Vetturino contract. We then
went on again, through a region gradually becoming bleaker and
wilder, until it became as bare and desolate as any Scottish moors.
Soon after dark, we halted for the night, at the osteria of La
Scala: a perfectly lone house, where the family were sitting round
a great fire in the kitchen, raised on a stone platform three or
four feet high, and big enough for the roasting of an ox. On the
upper, and only other floor of this hotel, there was a great, wild,
rambling sala, with one very little window in a by-corner, and four
black doors opening into four black bedrooms in various directions.
To say nothing of another large black door, opening into another
large black sala, with the staircase coming abruptly through a kind
of trap-door in the floor, and the rafters of the roof looming
above: a suspicious little press skulking in one obscure corner:
and all the knives in the house lying about in various directions.
The fireplace was of the purest Italian architecture, so that it
was perfectly impossible to see it for the smoke. The waitress was
like a dramatic brigand's wife, and wore the same style of dress
upon her head. The dogs barked like mad; the echoes returned the
compliments bestowed upon them; there was not another house within
twelve miles; and things had a dreary, and rather a cut-throat,

They were not improved by rumours of robbers having come out,
strong and boldly, within a few nights; and of their having stopped
the mail very near that place. They were known to have waylaid
some travellers not long before, on Mount Vesuvius itself, and were
the talk at all the roadside inns. As they were no business of
ours, however (for we had very little with us to lose), we made
ourselves merry on the subject, and were very soon as comfortable
as need be. We had the usual dinner in this solitary house; and a
very good dinner it is, when you are used to it. There is
something with a vegetable or some rice in it which is a sort of
shorthand or arbitrary character for soup, and which tastes very
well, when you have flavoured it with plenty of grated cheese, lots
of salt, and abundance of pepper. There is the half fowl of which
this soup has been made. There is a stewed pigeon, with the
gizzards and livers of himself and other birds stuck all round him.
There is a bit of roast beef, the size of a small French roll.
There are a scrap of Parmesan cheese, and five little withered
apples, all huddled together on a small plate, and crowding one
upon the other, as if each were trying to save itself from the
chance of being eaten. Then there is coffee; and then there is
bed. You don't mind brick floors; you don't mind yawning doors,
nor banging windows; you don't mind your own horses being stabled
under the bed: and so close, that every time a horse coughs or
sneezes, he wakes you. If you are good-humoured to the people
about you, and speak pleasantly, and look cheerful, take my word
for it you may be well entertained in the very worst Italian Inn,
and always in the most obliging manner, and may go from one end of
the country to the other (despite all stories to the contrary)
without any great trial of your patience anywhere. Especially,
when you get such wine in flasks, as the Orvieto, and the Monte

It was a bad morning when we left this place; and we went, for
twelve miles, over a country as barren, as stony, and as wild, as
Cornwall in England, until we came to Radicofani, where there is a
ghostly, goblin inn: once a hunting-seat, belonging to the Dukes
of Tuscany. It is full of such rambling corridors, and gaunt
rooms, that all the murdering and phantom tales that ever were
written might have originated in that one house. There are some
horrible old Palazzi in Genoa: one in particular, not unlike it,
outside: but there is a winding, creaking, wormy, rustling, door-
opening, foot-on-staircase-falling character about this Radicofani
Hotel, such as I never saw, anywhere else. The town, such as it
is, hangs on a hill-side above the house, and in front of it. The
inhabitants are all beggars; and as soon as they see a carriage
coming, they swoop down upon it, like so many birds of prey.

When we got on the mountain pass, which lies beyond this place, the
wind (as they had forewarned us at the inn) was so terrific, that
we were obliged to take my other half out of the carriage, lest she
should be blown over, carriage and all, and to hang to it, on the
windy side (as well as we could for laughing), to prevent its
going, Heaven knows where. For mere force of wind, this land-storm
might have competed with an Atlantic gale, and had a reasonable
chance of coming off victorious. The blast came sweeping down
great gullies in a range of mountains on the right: so that we
looked with positive awe at a great morass on the left, and saw
that there was not a bush or twig to hold by. It seemed as if,
once blown from our feet, we must be swept out to sea, or away into
space. There was snow, and hail, and rain, and lightning, and
thunder; and there were rolling mists, travelling with incredible
velocity. It was dark, awful, and solitary to the last degree;
there were mountains above mountains, veiled in angry clouds; and
there was such a wrathful, rapid, violent, tumultuous hurry,
everywhere, as rendered the scene unspeakably exciting and grand.

It was a relief to get out of it, notwithstanding; and to cross
even the dismal, dirty Papal Frontier. After passing through two
little towns; in one of which, Acquapendente, there was also a
'Carnival' in progress: consisting of one man dressed and masked
as a woman, and one woman dressed and masked as a man, walking
ankle-deep, through the muddy streets, in a very melancholy manner:
we came, at dusk, within sight of the Lake of Bolsena, on whose
bank there is a little town of the same name, much celebrated for
malaria. With the exception of this poor place, there is not a
cottage on the banks of the lake, or near it (for nobody dare sleep
there); not a boat upon its waters; not a stick or stake to break
the dismal monotony of seven-and-twenty watery miles. We were late
in getting in, the roads being very bad from heavy rains; and,
after dark, the dulness of the scene was quite intolerable.

We entered on a very different, and a finer scene of desolation,
next night, at sunset. We had passed through Montefiaschone
(famous for its wine) and Viterbo (for its fountains): and after
climbing up a long hill of eight or ten miles' extent, came
suddenly upon the margin of a solitary lake: in one part very
beautiful, with a luxuriant wood; in another, very barren, and shut
in by bleak volcanic hills. Where this lake flows, there stood, of
old, a city. It was swallowed up one day; and in its stead, this
water rose. There are ancient traditions (common to many parts of
the world) of the ruined city having been seen below, when the
water was clear; but however that may be, from this spot of earth
it vanished. The ground came bubbling up above it; and the water
too; and here they stand, like ghosts on whom the other world
closed suddenly, and who have no means of getting back again. They
seem to be waiting the course of ages, for the next earthquake in
that place; when they will plunge below the ground, at its first
yawning, and be seen no more. The unhappy city below, is not more
lost and dreary, than these fire-charred hills and the stagnant
water, above. The red sun looked strangely on them, as with the
knowledge that they were made for caverns and darkness; and the
melancholy water oozed and sucked the mud, and crept quietly among
the marshy grass and reeds, as if the overthrow of all the ancient
towers and housetops, and the death of all the ancient people born
and bred there, were yet heavy on its conscience.

A short ride from this lake, brought us to Ronciglione; a little
town like a large pig-sty, where we passed the night. Next morning
at seven o'clock, we started for Rome.

As soon as we were out of the pig-sty, we entered on the Campagna
Romana; an undulating flat (as you know), where few people can
live; and where, for miles and miles, there is nothing to relieve
the terrible monotony and gloom. Of all kinds of country that
could, by possibility, lie outside the gates of Rome, this is the
aptest and fittest burial-ground for the Dead City. So sad, so
quiet, so sullen; so secret in its covering up of great masses of
ruin, and hiding them; so like the waste places into which the men
possessed with devils used to go and howl, and rend themselves, in
the old days of Jerusalem. We had to traverse thirty miles of this
Campagna; and for two-and-twenty we went on and on, seeing nothing
but now and then a lonely house, or a villainous-looking shepherd:
with matted hair all over his face, and himself wrapped to the chin
in a frowsy brown mantle, tending his sheep. At the end of that
distance, we stopped to refresh the horses, and to get some lunch,
in a common malaria-shaken, despondent little public-house, whose
every inch of wall and beam, inside, was (according to custom)
painted and decorated in a way so miserable that every room looked
like the wrong side of another room, and, with its wretched
imitation of drapery, and lop-sided little daubs of lyres, seemed
to have been plundered from behind the scenes of some travelling

When we were fairly going off again, we began, in a perfect fever,
to strain our eyes for Rome; and when, after another mile or two,
the Eternal City appeared, at length, in the distance; it looked
like--I am half afraid to write the word--like LONDON!!! There it
lay, under a thick cloud, with innumerable towers, and steeples,
and roofs of houses, rising up into the sky, and high above them
all, one Dome. I swear, that keenly as I felt the seeming
absurdity of the comparison, it was so like London, at that
distance, that if you could have shown it me, in a glass, I should
have taken it for nothing else.


We entered the Eternal City, at about four o'clock in the
afternoon, on the thirtieth of January, by the Porta del Popolo,
and came immediately--it was a dark, muddy day, and there had been
heavy rain--on the skirts of the Carnival. We did not, then, know
that we were only looking at the fag end of the masks, who were
driving slowly round and round the Piazza until they could find a
promising opportunity for falling into the stream of carriages, and
getting, in good time, into the thick of the festivity; and coming
among them so abruptly, all travel-stained and weary, was not
coming very well prepared to enjoy the scene.

We had crossed the Tiber by the Ponte Molle two or three miles
before. It had looked as yellow as it ought to look, and hurrying
on between its worn-away and miry banks, had a promising aspect of
desolation and ruin. The masquerade dresses on the fringe of the
Carnival, did great violence to this promise. There were no great
ruins, no solemn tokens of antiquity, to be seen;--they all lie on
the other side of the city. There seemed to be long streets of
commonplace shops and houses, such as are to be found in any
European town; there were busy people, equipages, ordinary walkers
to and fro; a multitude of chattering strangers. It was no more MY
Rome: the Rome of anybody's fancy, man or boy; degraded and fallen
and lying asleep in the sun among a heap of ruins: than the Place
de la Concorde in Paris is. A cloudy sky, a dull cold rain, and
muddy streets, I was prepared for, but not for this: and I confess
to having gone to bed, that night, in a very indifferent humour,
and with a very considerably quenched enthusiasm.

Immediately on going out next day, we hurried off to St. Peter's.
It looked immense in the distance, but distinctly and decidedly
small, by comparison, on a near approach. The beauty of the
Piazza, on which it stands, with its clusters of exquisite columns,
and its gushing fountains--so fresh, so broad, and free, and
beautiful--nothing can exaggerate. The first burst of the
interior, in all its expansive majesty and glory: and, most of
all, the looking up into the Dome: is a sensation never to be
forgotten. But, there were preparations for a Festa; the pillars
of stately marble were swathed in some impertinent frippery of red
and yellow; the altar, and entrance to the subterranean chapel:
which is before it: in the centre of the church: were like a
goldsmith's shop, or one of the opening scenes in a very lavish
pantomime. And though I had as high a sense of the beauty of the
building (I hope) as it is possible to entertain, I felt no very
strong emotion. I have been infinitely more affected in many
English cathedrals when the organ has been playing, and in many
English country churches when the congregation have been singing.
I had a much greater sense of mystery and wonder, in the Cathedral
of San Mark at Venice.

When we came out of the church again (we stood nearly an hour
staring up into the dome: and would not have 'gone over' the
Cathedral then, for any money), we said to the coachman, 'Go to the
Coliseum.' In a quarter of an hour or so, he stopped at the gate,
and we went in.

It is no fiction, but plain, sober, honest Truth, to say: so
suggestive and distinct is it at this hour: that, for a moment--
actually in passing in--they who will, may have the whole great
pile before them, as it used to be, with thousands of eager faces
staring down into the arena, and such a whirl of strife, and blood,
and dust going on there, as no language can describe. Its
solitude, its awful beauty, and its utter desolation, strike upon
the stranger the next moment, like a softened sorrow; and never in
his life, perhaps, will he be so moved and overcome by any sight,
not immediately connected with his own affections and afflictions.

To see it crumbling there, an inch a year; its walls and arches
overgrown with green; its corridors open to the day; the long grass
growing in its porches; young trees of yesterday, springing up on
its ragged parapets, and bearing fruit: chance produce of the
seeds dropped there by the birds who build their nests within its
chinks and crannies; to see its Pit of Fight filled up with earth,
and the peaceful Cross planted in the centre; to climb into its
upper halls, and look down on ruin, ruin, ruin, all about it; the
triumphal arches of Constantine, Septimus Severus, and Titus; the
Roman Forum; the Palace of the Caesars; the temples of the old
religion, fallen down and gone; is to see the ghost of old Rome,
wicked, wonderful old city, haunting the very ground on which its
people trod. It is the most impressive, the most stately, the most
solemn, grand, majestic, mournful sight, conceivable. Never, in
its bloodiest prime, can the sight of the gigantic Coliseum, full
and running over with the lustiest life, have moved one's heart, as
it must move all who look upon it now, a ruin. GOD be thanked: a

As it tops the other ruins: standing there, a mountain among
graves: so do its ancient influences outlive all other remnants of
the old mythology and old butchery of Rome, in the nature of the
fierce and cruel Roman people. The Italian face changes as the
visitor approaches the city; its beauty becomes devilish; and there
is scarcely one countenance in a hundred, among the common people
in the streets, that would not be at home and happy in a renovated
Coliseum to-morrow.

Here was Rome indeed at last; and such a Rome as no one can imagine
in its full and awful grandeur! We wandered out upon the Appian
Way, and then went on, through miles of ruined tombs and broken
walls, with here and there a desolate and uninhabited house: past
the Circus of Romulus, where the course of the chariots, the
stations of the judges, competitors, and spectators, are yet as
plainly to be seen as in old time: past the tomb of Cecilia
Metella: past all inclosure, hedge, or stake, wall or fence: away
upon the open Campagna, where on that side of Rome, nothing is to
be beheld but Ruin. Except where the distant Apennines bound the
view upon the left, the whole wide prospect is one field of ruin.
Broken aqueducts, left in the most picturesque and beautiful
clusters of arches; broken temples; broken tombs. A desert of
decay, sombre and desolate beyond all expression; and with a
history in every stone that strews the ground.

On Sunday, the Pope assisted in the performance of High Mass at St.
Peter's. The effect of the Cathedral on my mind, on that second
visit, was exactly what it was at first, and what it remains after
many visits. It is not religiously impressive or affecting. It is
an immense edifice, with no one point for the mind to rest upon;
and it tires itself with wandering round and round. The very
purpose of the place, is not expressed in anything you see there,
unless you examine its details--and all examination of details is
incompatible with the place itself. It might be a Pantheon, or a
Senate House, or a great architectural trophy, having no other
object than an architectural triumph. There is a black statue of
St. Peter, to be sure, under a red canopy; which is larger than
life and which is constantly having its great toe kissed by good
Catholics. You cannot help seeing that: it is so very prominent
and popular. But it does not heighten the effect of the temple, as
a work of art; and it is not expressive--to me at least--of its
high purpose.

A large space behind the altar, was fitted up with boxes, shaped
like those at the Italian Opera in England, but in their decoration
much more gaudy. In the centre of the kind of theatre thus railed
off, was a canopied dais with the Pope's chair upon it. The
pavement was covered with a carpet of the brightest green; and what
with this green, and the intolerable reds and crimsons, and gold
borders of the hangings, the whole concern looked like a stupendous
Bonbon. On either side of the altar, was a large box for lady
strangers. These were filled with ladies in black dresses and
black veils. The gentlemen of the Pope's guard, in red coats,
leather breeches, and jack-boots, guarded all this reserved space,
with drawn swords that were very flashy in every sense; and from
the altar all down the nave, a broad lane was kept clear by the
Pope's Swiss guard, who wear a quaint striped surcoat, and striped
tight legs, and carry halberds like those which are usually
shouldered by those theatrical supernumeraries, who never CAN get
off the stage fast enough, and who may be generally observed to
linger in the enemy's camp after the open country, held by the
opposite forces, has been split up the middle by a convulsion of

I got upon the border of the green carpet, in company with a great
many other gentlemen, attired in black (no other passport is
necessary), and stood there at my ease, during the performance of
Mass. The singers were in a crib of wirework (like a large meat-
safe or bird-cage) in one corner; and sang most atrociously. All
about the green carpet, there was a slowly moving crowd of people:
talking to each other: staring at the Pope through eye-glasses;
defrauding one another, in moments of partial curiosity, out of
precarious seats on the bases of pillars: and grinning hideously
at the ladies. Dotted here and there, were little knots of friars
(Frances-cani, or Cappuccini, in their coarse brown dresses and
peaked hoods) making a strange contrast to the gaudy ecclesiastics
of higher degree, and having their humility gratified to the
utmost, by being shouldered about, and elbowed right and left, on
all sides. Some of these had muddy sandals and umbrellas, and
stained garments: having trudged in from the country. The faces
of the greater part were as coarse and heavy as their dress; their
dogged, stupid, monotonous stare at all the glory and splendour,
having something in it, half miserable, and half ridiculous.

Upon the green carpet itself, and gathered round the altar, was a
perfect army of cardinals and priests, in red, gold, purple,
violet, white, and fine linen. Stragglers from these, went to and
fro among the crowd, conversing two and two, or giving and
receiving introductions, and exchanging salutations; other
functionaries in black gowns, and other functionaries in court-
dresses, were similarly engaged. In the midst of all these, and
stealthy Jesuits creeping in and out, and the extreme restlessness
of the Youth of England, who were perpetually wandering about, some
few steady persons in black cassocks, who had knelt down with their
faces to the wall, and were poring over their missals, became,
unintentionally, a sort of humane man-traps, and with their own
devout legs, tripped up other people's by the dozen.

There was a great pile of candles lying down on the floor near me,
which a very old man in a rusty black gown with an open-work
tippet, like a summer ornament for a fireplace in tissue-paper,
made himself very busy in dispensing to all the ecclesiastics: one
a-piece. They loitered about with these for some time, under their
arms like walking-sticks, or in their hands like truncheons. At a
certain period of the ceremony, however, each carried his candle up
to the Pope, laid it across his two knees to be blessed, took it
back again, and filed off. This was done in a very attenuated
procession, as you may suppose, and occupied a long time. Not
because it takes long to bless a candle through and through, but
because there were so many candles to be blessed. At last they
were all blessed: and then they were all lighted; and then the
Pope was taken up, chair and all, and carried round the church.

I must say, that I never saw anything, out of November, so like the
popular English commemoration of the fifth of that month. A bundle
of matches and a lantern, would have made it perfect. Nor did the
Pope, himself, at all mar the resemblance, though he has a pleasant
and venerable face; for, as this part of the ceremony makes him
giddy and sick, he shuts his eyes when it is performed: and having
his eyes shut and a great mitre on his head, and his head itself
wagging to and fro as they shook him in carrying, he looked as if
his mask were going to tumble off. The two immense fans which are
always borne, one on either side of him, accompanied him, of
course, on this occasion. As they carried him along, he blessed
the people with the mystic sign; and as he passed them, they
kneeled down. When he had made the round of the church, he was
brought back again, and if I am not mistaken, this performance was
repeated, in the whole, three times. There was, certainly nothing
solemn or effective in it; and certainly very much that was droll
and tawdry. But this remark applies to the whole ceremony, except
the raising of the Host, when every man in the guard dropped on one
knee instantly, and dashed his naked sword on the ground; which had
a fine effect.

The next time I saw the cathedral, was some two or three weeks
afterwards, when I climbed up into the ball; and then, the hangings
being taken down, and the carpet taken up, but all the framework
left, the remnants of these decorations looked like an exploded

The Friday and Saturday having been solemn Festa days, and Sunday
being always a dies non in carnival proceedings, we had looked
forward, with some impatience and curiosity, to the beginning of
the new week: Monday and Tuesday being the two last and best days
of the Carnival.

On the Monday afternoon at one or two o'clock, there began to be a
great rattling of carriages into the court-yard of the hotel; a
hurrying to and fro of all the servants in it; and, now and then, a
swift shooting across some doorway or balcony, of a straggling
stranger in a fancy dress: not yet sufficiently well used to the
same, to wear it with confidence, and defy public opinion. All the
carriages were open, and had the linings carefully covered with
white cotton or calico, to prevent their proper decorations from
being spoiled by the incessant pelting of sugar-plums; and people
were packing and cramming into every vehicle as it waited for its
occupants, enormous sacks and baskets full of these confetti,
together with such heaps of flowers, tied up in little nosegays,
that some carriages were not only brimful of flowers, but literally
running over: scattering, at every shake and jerk of the springs,
some of their abundance on the ground. Not to be behindhand in
these essential particulars, we caused two very respectable sacks
of sugar-plums (each about three feet high) and a large clothes-
basket full of flowers to be conveyed into our hired barouche, with
all speed. And from our place of observation, in one of the upper
balconies of the hotel, we contemplated these arrangements with the
liveliest satisfaction. The carriages now beginning to take up
their company, and move away, we got into ours, and drove off too,
armed with little wire masks for our faces; the sugar-plums, like
Falstaff's adulterated sack, having lime in their composition.

The Corso is a street a mile long; a street of shops, and palaces,
and private houses, sometimes opening into a broad piazza. There
are verandahs and balconies, of all shapes and sizes, to almost
every house--not on one story alone, but often to one room or
another on every story--put there in general with so little order
or regularity, that if, year after year, and season after season,
it had rained balconies, hailed balconies, snowed balconies, blown
balconies, they could scarcely have come into existence in a more
disorderly manner.

This is the great fountain-head and focus of the Carnival. But all
the streets in which the Carnival is held, being vigilantly kept by
dragoons, it is necessary for carriages, in the first instance, to
pass, in line, down another thoroughfare, and so come into the
Corso at the end remote from the Piazza del Popolo; which is one of
its terminations. Accordingly, we fell into the string of coaches,
and, for some time, jogged on quietly enough; now crawling on at a
very slow walk; now trotting half-a-dozen yards; now backing fifty;
and now stopping altogether: as the pressure in front obliged us.
If any impetuous carriage dashed out of the rank and clattered
forward, with the wild idea of getting on faster, it was suddenly
met, or overtaken, by a trooper on horseback, who, deaf as his own
drawn sword to all remonstrances, immediately escorted it back to
the very end of the row, and made it a dim speck in the remotest
perspective. Occasionally, we interchanged a volley of confetti
with the carriage next in front, or the carriage next behind; but
as yet, this capturing of stray and errant coaches by the military,
was the chief amusement.

Presently, we came into a narrow street, where, besides one line of
carriages going, there was another line of carriages returning.
Here the sugar-plums and the nosegays began to fly about, pretty
smartly; and I was fortunate enough to observe one gentleman
attired as a Greek warrior, catch a light-whiskered brigand on the
nose (he was in the very act of tossing up a bouquet to a young
lady in a first-floor window) with a precision that was much
applauded by the bystanders. As this victorious Greek was
exchanging a facetious remark with a stout gentleman in a doorway--
one-half black and one-half white, as if he had been peeled up the
middle--who had offered him his congratulations on this
achievement, he received an orange from a housetop, full on his
left ear, and was much surprised, not to say discomfited.
Especially, as he was standing up at the time; and in consequence
of the carriage moving on suddenly, at the same moment, staggered
ignominiously, and buried himself among his flowers.

Some quarter of an hour of this sort of progress, brought us to the
Corso; and anything so gay, so bright, and lively as the whole
scene there, it would be difficult to imagine. From all the
innumerable balconies: from the remotest and highest, no less than
from the lowest and nearest: hangings of bright red, bright green,
bright blue, white and gold, were fluttering in the brilliant
sunlight. From windows, and from parapets, and tops of houses,
streamers of the richest colours, and draperies of the gaudiest and
most sparkling hues, were floating out upon the street. The
buildings seemed to have been literally turned inside out, and to
have all their gaiety towards the highway. Shop-fronts were taken
down, and the windows filled with company, like boxes at a shining
theatre; doors were carried off their hinges, and long tapestried
groves, hung with garlands of flowers and evergreens, displayed
within; builders' scaffoldings were gorgeous temples, radiant in
silver, gold, and crimson; and in every nook and corner, from the
pavement to the chimney-tops, where women's eyes could glisten,
there they danced, and laughed, and sparkled, like the light in
water. Every sort of bewitching madness of dress was there.
Little preposterous scarlet jackets; quaint old stomachers, more
wicked than the smartest bodices; Polish pelisses, strained and
tight as ripe gooseberries; tiny Greek caps, all awry, and clinging
to the dark hair, Heaven knows how; every wild, quaint, bold, shy,
pettish, madcap fancy had its illustration in a dress; and every
fancy was as dead forgotten by its owner, in the tumult of
merriment, as if the three old aqueducts that still remain entire
had brought Lethe into Rome, upon their sturdy arches, that

The carriages were now three abreast; in broader places four; often
stationary for a long time together, always one close mass of
variegated brightness; showing, the whole street-full, through the
storm of flowers, like flowers of a larger growth themselves. In
some, the horses were richly caparisoned in magnificent trappings;
in others they were decked from head to tail, with flowing ribbons.
Some were driven by coachmen with enormous double faces: one face
leering at the horses: the other cocking its extraordinary eyes
into the carriage: and both rattling again, under the hail of
sugar-plums. Other drivers were attired as women, wearing long
ringlets and no bonnets, and looking more ridiculous in any real
difficulty with the horses (of which, in such a concourse, there
were a great many) than tongue can tell, or pen describe. Instead
of sitting IN the carriages, upon the seats, the handsome Roman
women, to see and to be seen the better, sit in the heads of the
barouches, at this time of general licence, with their feet upon
the cushions--and oh, the flowing skirts and dainty waists, the
blessed shapes and laughing faces, the free, good-humoured, gallant
figures that they make! There were great vans, too, full of
handsome girls--thirty, or more together, perhaps--and the
broadsides that were poured into, and poured out of, these fairy
fire-shops, splashed the air with flowers and bon-bons for ten
minutes at a time. Carriages, delayed long in one place, would
begin a deliberate engagement with other carriages, or with people
at the lower windows; and the spectators at some upper balcony or
window, joining in the fray, and attacking both parties, would
empty down great bags of confetti, that descended like a cloud, and
in an instant made them white as millers. Still, carriages on
carriages, dresses on dresses, colours on colours, crowds upon
crowds, without end. Men and boys clinging to the wheels of
coaches, and holding on behind, and following in their wake, and
diving in among the horses' feet to pick up scattered flowers to
sell again; maskers on foot (the drollest generally) in fantastic
exaggerations of court-dresses, surveying the throng through
enormous eye-glasses, and always transported with an ecstasy of
love, on the discovery of any particularly old lady at a window;
long strings of Policinelli, laying about them with blown bladders
at the ends of sticks; a waggon-full of madmen, screaming and
tearing to the life; a coach-full of grave mamelukes, with their
horse-tail standard set up in the midst; a party of gipsy-women
engaged in terrific conflict with a shipful of sailors; a man-
monkey on a pole, surrounded by strange animals with pigs' faces,
and lions' tails, carried under their arms, or worn gracefully over
their shoulders; carriages on carriages, dresses on dresses,
colours on colours, crowds upon crowds, without end. Not many
actual characters sustained, or represented, perhaps, considering
the number dressed, but the main pleasure of the scene consisting
in its perfect good temper; in its bright, and infinite, and
flashing variety; and in its entire abandonment to the mad humour
of the time--an abandonment so perfect, so contagious, so
irresistible, that the steadiest foreigner fights up to his middle
in flowers and sugar-plums, like the wildest Roman of them all, and
thinks of nothing else till half-past four o'clock, when he is
suddenly reminded (to his great regret) that this is not the whole
business of his existence, by hearing the trumpets sound, and
seeing the dragoons begin to clear the street.

How it ever IS cleared for the race that takes place at five, or
how the horses ever go through the race, without going over the
people, is more than I can say. But the carriages get out into the
by-streets, or up into the Piazza del Popolo, and some people sit
in temporary galleries in the latter place, and tens of thousands
line the Corso on both sides, when the horses are brought out into
the Piazza--to the foot of that same column which, for centuries,
looked down upon the games and chariot-races in the Circus Maximus.

At a given signal they are started off. Down the live lane, the
whole length of the Corso, they fly like the wind: riderless, as
all the world knows: with shining ornaments upon their backs, and
twisted in their plaited manes: and with heavy little balls stuck
full of spikes, dangling at their sides, to goad them on. The
jingling of these trappings, and the rattling of their hoofs upon
the hard stones; the dash and fury of their speed along the echoing
street; nay, the very cannon that are fired--these noises are
nothing to the roaring of the multitude: their shouts: the
clapping of their hands. But it is soon over--almost
instantaneously. More cannon shake the town. The horses have
plunged into the carpets put across the street to stop them; the
goal is reached; the prizes are won (they are given, in part, by
the poor Jews, as a compromise for not running foot-races
themselves); and there is an end to that day's sport.

But if the scene be bright, and gay, and crowded, on the last day
but one, it attains, on the concluding day, to such a height of
glittering colour, swarming life, and frolicsome uproar, that the
bare recollection of it makes me giddy at this moment. The same
diversions, greatly heightened and intensified in the ardour with
which they are pursued, go on until the same hour. The race is
repeated; the cannon are fired; the shouting and clapping of hands
are renewed; the cannon are fired again; the race is over; and the
prizes are won. But the carriages: ankle-deep with sugar-plums
within, and so be-flowered and dusty without, as to be hardly
recognisable for the same vehicles that they were, three hours ago:
instead of scampering off in all directions, throng into the Corso,
where they are soon wedged together in a scarcely moving mass. For
the diversion of the Moccoletti, the last gay madness of the
Carnival, is now at hand; and sellers of little tapers like what
are called Christmas candles in England, are shouting lustily on
every side, 'Moccoli, Moccoli! Ecco Moccoli!'--a new item in the
tumult; quite abolishing that other item of ' Ecco Fiori! Ecco
Fior-r-r!' which has been making itself audible over all the rest,
at intervals, the whole day through.

As the bright hangings and dresses are all fading into one dull,
heavy, uniform colour in the decline of the day, lights begin
flashing, here and there: in the windows, on the housetops, in the
balconies, in the carriages, in the hands of the foot-passengers:
little by little: gradually, gradually: more and more: until the
whole long street is one great glare and blaze of fire. Then,
everybody present has but one engrossing object; that is, to
extinguish other people's candles, and to keep his own alight; and
everybody: man, woman, or child, gentleman or lady, prince or
peasant, native or foreigner: yells and screams, and roars
incessantly, as a taunt to the subdued, 'Senza Moccolo, Senza
Moccolo!' (Without a light! Without a light!) until nothing is
heard but a gigantic chorus of those two words, mingled with peals
of laughter.

The spectacle, at this time, is one of the most extraordinary that
can be imagined. Carriages coming slowly by, with everybody
standing on the seats or on the box, holding up their lights at
arms' length, for greater safety; some in paper shades; some with a
bunch of undefended little tapers, kindled altogether; some with
blazing torches; some with feeble little candles; men on foot,
creeping along, among the wheels, watching their opportunity, to
make a spring at some particular light, and dash it out; other
people climbing up into carriages, to get hold of them by main
force; others, chasing some unlucky wanderer, round and round his
own coach, to blow out the light he has begged or stolen somewhere,
before he can ascend to his own company, and enable them to light
their extinguished tapers; others, with their hats off, at a
carriage-door, humbly beseeching some kind-hearted lady to oblige
them with a light for a cigar, and when she is in the fulness of
doubt whether to comply or no, blowing out the candle she is
guarding so tenderly with her little hand; other people at the
windows, fishing for candles with lines and hooks, or letting down
long willow-wands with handkerchiefs at the end, and flapping them
out, dexterously, when the bearer is at the height of his triumph,
others, biding their time in corners, with immense extinguishers
like halberds, and suddenly coming down upon glorious torches;
others, gathered round one coach, and sticking to it; others,
raining oranges and nosegays at an obdurate little lantern, or
regularly storming a pyramid of men, holding up one man among them,
who carries one feeble little wick above his head, with which he
defies them all! Senza Moccolo! Senza Moccolo! Beautiful women,
standing up in coaches, pointing in derision at extinguished
lights, and clapping their hands, as they pass on, crying, 'Senza
Moccolo! Senza Moccolo!'; low balconies full of lovely faces and
gay dresses, struggling with assailants in the streets; some
repressing them as they climb up, some bending down, some leaning
over, some shrinking back--delicate arms and bosoms--graceful
figures--glowing lights, fluttering dresses, Senza Moccolo, Senza
Moccoli, Senza Moc-co-lo-o-o-o!--when in the wildest enthusiasm of
the cry, and fullest ecstasy of the sport, the Ave Maria rings from
the church steeples, and the Carnival is over in an instant--put
out like a taper, with a breath!

There was a masquerade at the theatre at night, as dull and
senseless as a London one, and only remarkable for the summary way
in which the house was cleared at eleven o'clock: which was done
by a line of soldiers forming along the wall, at the back of the
stage, and sweeping the whole company out before them, like a broad
broom. The game of the Moccoletti (the word, in the singular,
Moccoletto, is the diminutive of Moccolo, and means a little lamp
or candlesnuff) is supposed by some to be a ceremony of burlesque
mourning for the death of the Carnival: candles being
indispensable to Catholic grief. But whether it be so, or be a
remnant of the ancient Saturnalia, or an incorporation of both, or
have its origin in anything else, I shall always remember it, and
the frolic, as a brilliant and most captivating sight: no less
remarkable for the unbroken good-humour of all concerned, down to
the very lowest (and among those who scaled the carriages, were
many of the commonest men and boys), than for its innocent
vivacity. For, odd as it may seem to say so, of a sport so full of
thoughtlessness and personal display, it is as free from any taint
of immodesty as any general mingling of the two sexes can possibly
be; and there seems to prevail, during its progress, a feeling of
general, almost childish, simplicity and confidence, which one
thinks of with a pang, when the Ave Maria has rung it away, for a
whole year.

Availing ourselves of a part of the quiet interval between the
termination of the Carnival and the beginning of the Holy Week:
when everybody had run away from the one, and few people had yet
begun to run back again for the other: we went conscientiously to
work, to see Rome. And, by dint of going out early every morning,
and coming back late every evening, and labouring hard all day, I
believe we made acquaintance with every post and pillar in the
city, and the country round; and, in particular, explored so many
churches, that I abandoned that part of the enterprise at last,
before it was half finished, lest I should never, of my own accord,
go to church again, as long as I lived. But, I managed, almost
every day, at one time or other, to get back to the Coliseum, and
out upon the open Campagna, beyond the Tomb of Cecilia Metella.

We often encountered, in these expeditions, a company of English
Tourists, with whom I had an ardent, but ungratified longing, to
establish a speaking acquaintance. They were one Mr. Davis, and a
small circle of friends. It was impossible not to know Mrs.
Davis's name, from her being always in great request among her
party, and her party being everywhere. During the Holy Week, they
were in every part of every scene of every ceremony. For a
fortnight or three weeks before it, they were in every tomb, and
every church, and every ruin, and every Picture Gallery; and I
hardly ever observed Mrs. Davis to be silent for a moment. Deep
underground, high up in St. Peter's, out on the Campagna, and
stifling in the Jews' quarter, Mrs. Davis turned up, all the same.
I don't think she ever saw anything, or ever looked at anything;
and she had always lost something out of a straw hand-basket, and
was trying to find it, with all her might and main, among an
immense quantity of English halfpence, which lay, like sands upon
the sea-shore, at the bottom of it. There was a professional
Cicerone always attached to the party (which had been brought over
from London, fifteen or twenty strong, by contract), and if he so
much as looked at Mrs. Davis, she invariably cut him short by
saying, 'There, God bless the man, don't worrit me! I don't
understand a word you say, and shouldn't if you was to talk till
you was black in the face!' Mr. Davis always had a snuff-coloured
great-coat on, and carried a great green umbrella in his hand, and
had a slow curiosity constantly devouring him, which prompted him
to do extraordinary things, such as taking the covers off urns in
tombs, and looking in at the ashes as if they were pickles--and
tracing out inscriptions with the ferrule of his umbrella, and
saying, with intense thoughtfulness, 'Here's a B you see, and
there's a R, and this is the way we goes on in; is it!' His
antiquarian habits occasioned his being frequently in the rear of
the rest; and one of the agonies of Mrs. Davis, and the party in
general, was an ever-present fear that Davis would be lost. This
caused them to scream for him, in the strangest places, and at the
most improper seasons. And when he came, slowly emerging out of
some sepulchre or other, like a peaceful Ghoule, saying 'Here I
am!' Mrs. Davis invariably replied, 'You'll be buried alive in a
foreign country, Davis, and it's no use trying to prevent you!'

Mr. and Mrs. Davis, and their party, had, probably, been brought
from London in about nine or ten days. Eighteen hundred years ago,
the Roman legions under Claudius, protested against being led into
Mr. and Mrs. Davis's country, urging that it lay beyond the limits
of the world.

Among what may be called the Cubs or minor Lions of Rome, there was
one that amused me mightily. It is always to be found there; and
its den is on the great flight of steps that lead from the Piazza
di Spagna, to the church of Trinita del Monte. In plainer words,
these steps are the great place of resort for the artists'
'Models,' and there they are constantly waiting to be hired. The
first time I went up there, I could not conceive why the faces
seemed familiar to me; why they appeared to have beset me, for
years, in every possible variety of action and costume; and how it
came to pass that they started up before me, in Rome, in the broad
day, like so many saddled and bridled nightmares. I soon found
that we had made acquaintance, and improved it, for several years,
on the walls of various Exhibition Galleries. There is one old
gentleman, with long white hair and an immense beard, who, to my
knowledge, has gone half through the catalogue of the Royal
Academy. This is the venerable, or patriarchal model. He carries
a long staff; and every knot and twist in that staff I have seen,
faithfully delineated, innumerable times. There is another man in
a blue cloak, who always pretends to be asleep in the sun (when
there is any), and who, I need not say, is always very wide awake,
and very attentive to the disposition of his legs. This is the
dolce far' niente model. There is another man in a brown cloak,
who leans against a wall, with his arms folded in his mantle, and
looks out of the corners of his eyes: which are just visible
beneath his broad slouched hat. This is the assassin model. There
is another man, who constantly looks over his own shoulder, and is
always going away, but never does. This is the haughty, or
scornful model. As to Domestic Happiness, and Holy Families, they
should come very cheap, for there are lumps of them, all up the
steps; and the cream of the thing is, that they are all the falsest
vagabonds in the world, especially made up for the purpose, and
having no counterparts in Rome or any other part of the habitable

My recent mention of the Carnival, reminds me of its being said to
be a mock mourning (in the ceremony with which it closes), for the
gaieties and merry-makings before Lent; and this again reminds me
of the real funerals and mourning processions of Rome, which, like
those in most other parts of Italy, are rendered chiefly remarkable
to a Foreigner, by the indifference with which the mere clay is
universally regarded, after life has left it. And this is not from
the survivors having had time to dissociate the memory of the dead
from their well-remembered appearance and form on earth; for the
interment follows too speedily after death, for that: almost
always taking place within four-and-twenty hours, and, sometimes,
within twelve.

At Rome, there is the same arrangement of Pits in a great, bleak,
open, dreary space, that I have already described as existing in
Genoa. When I visited it, at noonday, I saw a solitary coffin of
plain deal: uncovered by any shroud or pall, and so slightly made,
that the hoof of any wandering mule would have crushed it in:
carelessly tumbled down, all on one side, on the door of one of the
pits--and there left, by itself, in the wind and sunshine. 'How
does it come to be left here?' I asked the man who showed me the
place. 'It was brought here half an hour ago, Signore,' he said.
I remembered to have met the procession, on its return: straggling
away at a good round pace. 'When will it be put in the pit?' I
asked him. 'When the cart comes, and it is opened to-night,' he
said. 'How much does it cost to be brought here in this way,
instead of coming in the cart?' I asked him. 'Ten scudi,' he said
(about two pounds, two-and-sixpence, English). 'The other bodies,
for whom nothing is paid, are taken to the church of the Santa
Maria della Consolazione,' he continued, 'and brought here
altogether, in the cart at night.' I stood, a moment, looking at
the coffin, which had two initial letters scrawled upon the top;
and turned away, with an expression in my face, I suppose, of not
much liking its exposure in that manner: for he said, shrugging
his shoulders with great vivacity, and giving a pleasant smile,
'But he's dead, Signore, he's dead. Why not?'

Among the innumerable churches, there is one I must select for
separate mention. It is the church of the Ara Coeli, supposed to
be built on the site of the old Temple of Jupiter Feretrius; and
approached, on one side, by a long steep flight of steps, which
seem incomplete without some group of bearded soothsayers on the
top. It is remarkable for the possession of a miraculous Bambino,
or wooden doll, representing the Infant Saviour; and I first saw
this miraculous Bambino, in legal phrase, in manner following, that
is to say:

We had strolled into the church one afternoon, and were looking
down its long vista of gloomy pillars (for all these ancient
churches built upon the ruins of old temples, are dark and sad),
when the Brave came running in, with a grin upon his face that
stretched it from ear to ear, and implored us to follow him,
without a moment's delay, as they were going to show the Bambino to
a select party. We accordingly hurried off to a sort of chapel, or
sacristy, hard by the chief altar, but not in the church itself,
where the select party, consisting of two or three Catholic
gentlemen and ladies (not Italians), were already assembled: and
where one hollow-cheeked young monk was lighting up divers candles,
while another was putting on some clerical robes over his coarse
brown habit. The candles were on a kind of altar, and above it
were two delectable figures, such as you would see at any English
fair, representing the Holy Virgin, and Saint Joseph, as I suppose,
bending in devotion over a wooden box, or coffer; which was shut.

The hollow-cheeked monk, number One, having finished lighting the
candles, went down on his knees, in a corner, before this set-
piece; and the monk number Two, having put on a pair of highly
ornamented and gold-bespattered gloves, lifted down the coffer,
with great reverence, and set it on the altar. Then, with many
genuflexions, and muttering certain prayers, he opened it, and let
down the front, and took off sundry coverings of satin and lace
from the inside. The ladies had been on their knees from the
commencement; and the gentlemen now dropped down devoutly, as he
exposed to view a little wooden doll, in face very like General Tom
Thumb, the American Dwarf: gorgeously dressed in satin and gold
lace, and actually blazing with rich jewels. There was scarcely a
spot upon its little breast, or neck, or stomach, but was sparkling
with the costly offerings of the Faithful. Presently, he lifted it
out of the box, and carrying it round among the kneelers, set its
face against the forehead of every one, and tendered its clumsy
foot to them to kiss--a ceremony which they all performed down to a
dirty little ragamuffin of a boy who had walked in from the street.
When this was done, he laid it in the box again: and the company,
rising, drew near, and commended the jewels in whispers. In good
time, he replaced the coverings, shut up the box, put it back in
its place, locked up the whole concern (Holy Family and all) behind
a pair of folding-doors; took off his priestly vestments; and
received the customary 'small charge,' while his companion, by
means of an extinguisher fastened to the end of a long stick, put
out the lights, one after another. The candles being all
extinguished, and the money all collected, they retired, and so did
the spectators.

I met this same Bambino, in the street a short time afterwards,
going, in great state, to the house of some sick person. It is
taken to all parts of Rome for this purpose, constantly; but, I
understand that it is not always as successful as could be wished;
for, making its appearance at the bedside of weak and nervous
people in extremity, accompanied by a numerous escort, it not
unfrequently frightens them to death. It is most popular in cases
of child-birth, where it has done such wonders, that if a lady be
longer than usual in getting through her difficulties, a messenger
is despatched, with all speed, to solicit the immediate attendance
of the Bambino. It is a very valuable property, and much confided
in--especially by the religious body to whom it belongs.

I am happy to know that it is not considered immaculate, by some
who are good Catholics, and who are behind the scenes, from what
was told me by the near relation of a Priest, himself a Catholic,
and a gentleman of learning and intelligence. This Priest made my
informant promise that he would, on no account, allow the Bambino
to be borne into the bedroom of a sick lady, in whom they were both
interested. 'For,' said he, 'if they (the monks) trouble her with
it, and intrude themselves into her room, it will certainly kill
her.' My informant accordingly looked out of the window when it
came; and, with many thanks, declined to open the door. He
endeavoured, in another case of which he had no other knowledge
than such as he gained as a passer-by at the moment, to prevent its
being carried into a small unwholesome chamber, where a poor girl
was dying. But, he strove against it unsuccessfully, and she
expired while the crowd were pressing round her bed.

Among the people who drop into St. Peter's at their leisure, to
kneel on the pavement, and say a quiet prayer, there are certain
schools and seminaries, priestly and otherwise, that come in,
twenty or thirty strong. These boys always kneel down in single
file, one behind the other, with a tall grim master in a black
gown, bringing up the rear: like a pack of cards arranged to be
tumbled down at a touch, with a disproportionately large Knave of
clubs at the end. When they have had a minute or so at the chief
altar, they scramble up, and filing off to the chapel of the
Madonna, or the sacrament, flop down again in the same order; so
that if anybody did stumble against the master, a general and
sudden overthrow of the whole line must inevitably ensue.

The scene in all the churches is the strangest possible. The same
monotonous, heartless, drowsy chaunting, always going on; the same
dark building, darker from the brightness of the street without;
the same lamps dimly burning; the selfsame people kneeling here and
there; turned towards you, from one altar or other, the same
priest's back, with the same large cross embroidered on it; however
different in size, in shape, in wealth, in architecture, this
church is from that, it is the same thing still. There are the
same dirty beggars stopping in their muttered prayers to beg; the
same miserable cripples exhibiting their deformity at the doors;
the same blind men, rattling little pots like kitchen pepper-
castors: their depositories for alms; the same preposterous crowns
of silver stuck upon the painted heads of single saints and Virgins
in crowded pictures, so that a little figure on a mountain has a
head-dress bigger than the temple in the foreground, or adjacent
miles of landscape; the same favourite shrine or figure, smothered
with little silver hearts and crosses, and the like: the staple
trade and show of all the jewellers; the same odd mixture of
respect and indecorum, faith and phlegm: kneeling on the stones,
and spitting on them, loudly; getting up from prayers to beg a
little, or to pursue some other worldly matter: and then kneeling
down again, to resume the contrite supplication at the point where
it was interrupted. In one church, a kneeling lady got up from her
prayer, for a moment, to offer us her card, as a teacher of Music;
and in another, a sedate gentleman with a very thick walking-staff,
arose from his devotions to belabour his dog, who was growling at
another dog: and whose yelps and howls resounded through the
church, as his master quietly relapsed into his former train of
meditation--keeping his eye upon the dog, at the same time,

Above all, there is always a receptacle for the contributions of
the Faithful, in some form or other. Sometimes, it is a money-box,
set up between the worshipper, and the wooden life-size figure of
the Redeemer; sometimes, it is a little chest for the maintenance
of the Virgin; sometimes, an appeal on behalf of a popular Bambino;
sometimes, a bag at the end of a long stick, thrust among the
people here and there, and vigilantly jingled by an active
Sacristan; but there it always is, and, very often, in many shapes
in the same church, and doing pretty well in all. Nor, is it
wanting in the open air--the streets and roads--for, often as you
are walking along, thinking about anything rather than a tin
canister, that object pounces out upon you from a little house by
the wayside; and on its top is painted, 'For the Souls in
Purgatory;' an appeal which the bearer repeats a great many times,
as he rattles it before you, much as Punch rattles the cracked bell
which his sanguine disposition makes an organ of.

And this reminds me that some Roman altars of peculiar sanctity,
bear the inscription, 'Every Mass performed at this altar frees a
soul from Purgatory.' I have never been able to find out the
charge for one of these services, but they should needs be
expensive. There are several Crosses in Rome too, the kissing of
which, confers indulgences for varying terms. That in the centre
of the Coliseum, is worth a hundred days; and people may be seen
kissing it from morning to night. It is curious that some of these
crosses seem to acquire an arbitrary popularity: this very one
among them. In another part of the Coliseum there is a cross upon
a marble slab, with the inscription, 'Who kisses this cross shall
be entitled to Two hundred and forty days' indulgence.' But I saw
no one person kiss it, though, day after day, I sat in the arena,
and saw scores upon scores of peasants pass it, on their way to
kiss the other.

To single out details from the great dream of Roman Churches, would
be the wildest occupation in the world. But St. Stefano Rotondo, a
damp, mildewed vault of an old church in the outskirts of Rome,
will always struggle uppermost in my mind, by reason of the hideous
paintings with which its walls are covered. These represent the
martyrdoms of saints and early Christians; and such a panorama of
horror and butchery no man could imagine in his sleep, though he
were to eat a whole pig raw, for supper. Grey-bearded men being
boiled, fried, grilled, crimped, singed, eaten by wild beasts,
worried by dogs, buried alive, torn asunder by horses, chopped up
small with hatchets: women having their breasts torn with iron
pinchers, their tongues cut out, their ears screwed off, their jaws
broken, their bodies stretched upon the rack, or skinned upon the
stake, or crackled up and melted in the fire: these are among the
mildest subjects. So insisted on, and laboured at, besides, that
every sufferer gives you the same occasion for wonder as poor old
Duncan awoke, in Lady Macbeth, when she marvelled at his having so
much blood in him.

There is an upper chamber in the Mamertine prisons, over what is
said to have been--and very possibly may have been--the dungeon of
St. Peter. This chamber is now fitted up as an oratory, dedicated
to that saint; and it lives, as a distinct and separate place, in
my recollection, too. It is very small and low-roofed; and the
dread and gloom of the ponderous, obdurate old prison are on it, as
if they had come up in a dark mist through the floor. Hanging on
the walls, among the clustered votive offerings, are objects, at
once strangely in keeping, and strangely at variance, with the
place--rusty daggers, knives, pistols, clubs, divers instruments of
violence and murder, brought here, fresh from use, and hung up to
propitiate offended Heaven: as if the blood upon them would drain
off in consecrated air, and have no voice to cry with. It is all
so silent and so close, and tomb-like; and the dungeons below are
so black and stealthy, and stagnant, and naked; that this little
dark spot becomes a dream within a dream: and in the vision of
great churches which come rolling past me like a sea, it is a small
wave by itself, that melts into no other wave, and does not flow on
with the rest.

It is an awful thing to think of the enormous caverns that are
entered from some Roman churches, and undermine the city. Many
churches have crypts and subterranean chapels of great size, which,
in the ancient time, were baths, and secret chambers of temples,
and what not: but I do not speak of them. Beneath the church of
St. Giovanni and St. Paolo, there are the jaws of a terrific range
of caverns, hewn out of the rock, and said to have another outlet
underneath the Coliseum--tremendous darknesses of vast extent,
half-buried in the earth and unexplorable, where the dull torches,
flashed by the attendants, glimmer down long ranges of distant
vaults branching to the right and left, like streets in a city of
the dead; and show the cold damp stealing down the walls, drip-
drop, drip-drop, to join the pools of water that lie here and
there, and never saw, or never will see, one ray of the sun. Some
accounts make these the prisons of the wild beasts destined for the
amphitheatre; some the prisons of the condemned gladiators; some,
both. But the legend most appalling to the fancy is, that in the
upper range (for there are two stories of these caves) the Early
Christians destined to be eaten at the Coliseum Shows, heard the
wild beasts, hungry for them, roaring down below; until, upon the
night and solitude of their captivity, there burst the sudden noon
and life of the vast theatre crowded to the parapet, and of these,
their dreaded neighbours, bounding in!

Below the church of San Sebastiano, two miles beyond the gate of
San Sebastiano, on the Appian Way, is the entrance to the catacombs
of Rome--quarries in the old time, but afterwards the hiding-places
of the Christians. These ghastly passages have been explored for
twenty miles; and form a chain of labyrinths, sixty miles in

A gaunt Franciscan friar, with a wild bright eye, was our only
guide, down into this profound and dreadful place. The narrow ways
and openings hither and thither, coupled with the dead and heavy
air, soon blotted out, in all of us, any recollection of the track
by which we had come: and I could not help thinking 'Good Heaven,
if, in a sudden fit of madness, he should dash the torches out, or
if he should be seized with a fit, what would become of us!' On we
wandered, among martyrs' graves: passing great subterranean
vaulted roads, diverging in all directions, and choked up with
heaps of stones, that thieves and murderers may not take refuge
there, and form a population under Rome, even worse than that which
lives between it and the sun. Graves, graves, graves; Graves of
men, of women, of their little children, who ran crying to the
persecutors, 'We are Christians! We are Christians!' that they
might be murdered with their parents; Graves with the palm of
martyrdom roughly cut into their stone boundaries, and little
niches, made to hold a vessel of the martyrs' blood; Graves of some
who lived down here, for years together, ministering to the rest,
and preaching truth, and hope, and comfort, from the rude altars,
that bear witness to their fortitude at this hour; more roomy
graves, but far more terrible, where hundreds, being surprised,
were hemmed in and walled up: buried before Death, and killed by
slow starvation.

'The Triumphs of the Faith are not above ground in our splendid
churches,' said the friar, looking round upon us, as we stopped to
rest in one of the low passages, with bones and dust surrounding us
on every side. 'They are here! Among the Martyrs' Graves!' He
was a gentle, earnest man, and said it from his heart; but when I
thought how Christian men have dealt with one another; how,
perverting our most merciful religion, they have hunted down and
tortured, burnt and beheaded, strangled, slaughtered, and oppressed
each other; I pictured to myself an agony surpassing any that this
Dust had suffered with the breath of life yet lingering in it, and
how these great and constant hearts would have been shaken--how
they would have quailed and drooped--if a foreknowledge of the
deeds that professing Christians would commit in the Great Name for
which they died, could have rent them with its own unutterable
anguish, on the cruel wheel, and bitter cross, and in the fearful

Such are the spots and patches in my dream of churches, that remain
apart, and keep their separate identity. I have a fainter
recollection, sometimes of the relics; of the fragments of the
pillar of the Temple that was rent in twain; of the portion of the
table that was spread for the Last Supper; of the well at which the
woman of Samaria gave water to Our Saviour; of two columns from the
house of Pontius Pilate; of the stone to which the Sacred hands
were bound, when the scourging was performed; of the grid-iron of
Saint Lawrence, and the stone below it, marked with the frying of
his fat and blood; these set a shadowy mark on some cathedrals, as
an old story, or a fable might, and stop them for an instant, as
they flit before me. The rest is a vast wilderness of consecrated
buildings of all shapes and fancies, blending one with another; of
battered pillars of old Pagan temples, dug up from the ground, and
forced, like giant captives, to support the roofs of Christian
churches; of pictures, bad, and wonderful, and impious, and
ridiculous; of kneeling people, curling incense, tinkling bells,
and sometimes (but not often) of a swelling organ: of Madonne,
with their breasts stuck full of swords, arranged in a half-circle
like a modern fan; of actual skeletons of dead saints, hideously
attired in gaudy satins, silks, and velvets trimmed with gold:
their withered crust of skull adorned with precious jewels, or with
chaplets of crushed flowers; sometimes of people gathered round the
pulpit, and a monk within it stretching out the crucifix, and
preaching fiercely: the sun just streaming down through some high
window on the sail-cloth stretched above him and across the church,
to keep his high-pitched voice from being lost among the echoes of
the roof. Then my tired memory comes out upon a flight of steps,
where knots of people are asleep, or basking in the light; and
strolls away, among the rags, and smells, and palaces, and hovels,
of an old Italian street.

On one Saturday morning (the eighth of March), a man was beheaded
here. Nine or ten months before, he had waylaid a Bavarian
countess, travelling as a pilgrim to Rome--alone and on foot, of
course--and performing, it is said, that act of piety for the
fourth time. He saw her change a piece of gold at Viterbo, where
he lived; followed her; bore her company on her journey for some
forty miles or more, on the treacherous pretext of protecting her;
attacked her, in the fulfilment of his unrelenting purpose, on the
Campagna, within a very short distance of Rome, near to what is
called (but what is not) the Tomb of Nero; robbed her; and beat her
to death with her own pilgrim's staff. He was newly married, and
gave some of her apparel to his wife: saying that he had bought it
at a fair. She, however, who had seen the pilgrim-countess passing
through their town, recognised some trifle as having belonged to
her. Her husband then told her what he had done. She, in
confession, told a priest; and the man was taken, within four days
after the commission of the murder.

There are no fixed times for the administration of justice, or its
execution, in this unaccountable country; and he had been in prison
ever since. On the Friday, as he was dining with the other
prisoners, they came and told him he was to be beheaded next
morning, and took him away. It is very unusual to execute in Lent;
but his crime being a very bad one, it was deemed advisable to make
an example of him at that time, when great numbers of pilgrims were
coming towards Rome, from all parts, for the Holy Week. I heard of
this on the Friday evening, and saw the bills up at the churches,
calling on the people to pray for the criminal's soul. So, I
determined to go, and see him executed.

The beheading was appointed for fourteen and a-half o'clock, Roman
time: or a quarter before nine in the forenoon. I had two friends
with me; and as we did not know but that the crowd might be very
great, we were on the spot by half-past seven. The place of
execution was near the church of San Giovanni decollato (a doubtful
compliment to Saint John the Baptist) in one of the impassable back
streets without any footway, of which a great part of Rome is
composed--a street of rotten houses, which do not seem to belong to
anybody, and do not seem to have ever been inhabited, and certainly
were never built on any plan, or for any particular purpose, and
have no window-sashes, and are a little like deserted breweries,
and might be warehouses but for having nothing in them. Opposite
to one of these, a white house, the scaffold was built. An untidy,
unpainted, uncouth, crazy-looking thing of course: some seven feet
high, perhaps: with a tall, gallows-shaped frame rising above it,
in which was the knife, charged with a ponderous mass of iron, all
ready to descend, and glittering brightly in the morning sun,
whenever it looked out, now and then, from behind a cloud.

There were not many people lingering about; and these were kept at
a considerable distance from the scaffold, by parties of the Pope's
dragoons. Two or three hundred foot-soldiers were under arms,
standing at ease in clusters here and there; and the officers were
walking up and down in twos and threes, chatting together, and
smoking cigars.

At the end of the street, was an open space, where there would be a
dust-heap, and piles of broken crockery, and mounds of vegetable
refuse, but for such things being thrown anywhere and everywhere in
Rome, and favouring no particular sort of locality. We got into a
kind of wash-house, belonging to a dwelling-house on this spot; and
standing there in an old cart, and on a heap of cartwheels piled
against the wall, looked, through a large grated window, at the
scaffold, and straight down the street beyond it until, in
consequence of its turning off abruptly to the left, our
perspective was brought to a sudden termination, and had a
corpulent officer, in a cocked hat, for its crowning feature.

Nine o'clock struck, and ten o'clock struck, and nothing happened.
All the bells of all the churches rang as usual. A little
parliament of dogs assembled in the open space, and chased each
other, in and out among the soldiers. Fierce-looking Romans of the
lowest class, in blue cloaks, russet cloaks, and rags uncloaked,
came and went, and talked together. Women and children fluttered,
on the skirts of the scanty crowd. One large muddy spot was left
quite bare, like a bald place on a man's head. A cigar-merchant,
with an earthen pot of charcoal ashes in one hand, went up and
down, crying his wares. A pastry-merchant divided his attention
between the scaffold and his customers. Boys tried to climb up
walls, and tumbled down again. Priests and monks elbowed a passage
for themselves among the people, and stood on tiptoe for a sight of
the knife: then went away. Artists, in inconceivable hats of the
middle-ages, and beards (thank Heaven!) of no age at all, flashed
picturesque scowls about them from their stations in the throng.
One gentleman (connected with the fine arts, I presume) went up and
down in a pair of Hessian-boots, with a red beard hanging down on
his breast, and his long and bright red hair, plaited into two
tails, one on either side of his head, which fell over his
shoulders in front of him, very nearly to his waist, and were
carefully entwined and braided!

Eleven o'clock struck and still nothing happened. A rumour got
about, among the crowd, that the criminal would not confess; in
which case, the priests would keep him until the Ave Maria
(sunset); for it is their merciful custom never finally to turn the
crucifix away from a man at that pass, as one refusing to be
shriven, and consequently a sinner abandoned of the Saviour, until
then. People began to drop off. The officers shrugged their
shoulders and looked doubtful. The dragoons, who came riding up
below our window, every now and then, to order an unlucky hackney-
coach or cart away, as soon as it had comfortably established
itself, and was covered with exulting people (but never before),
became imperious, and quick-tempered. The bald place hadn't a
straggling hair upon it; and the corpulent officer, crowning the
perspective, took a world of snuff.

Suddenly, there was a noise of trumpets. 'Attention!' was among
the foot-soldiers instantly. They were marched up to the scaffold
and formed round it. The dragoons galloped to their nearer
stations too. The guillotine became the centre of a wood of
bristling bayonets and shining sabres. The people closed round
nearer, on the flank of the soldiery. A long straggling stream of
men and boys, who had accompanied the procession from the prison,
came pouring into the open space. The bald spot was scarcely
distinguishable from the rest. The cigar and pastry-merchants
resigned all thoughts of business, for the moment, and abandoning
themselves wholly to pleasure, got good situations in the crowd.
The perspective ended, now, in a troop of dragoons. And the
corpulent officer, sword in hand, looked hard at a church close to
him, which he could see, but we, the crowd, could not.

After a short delay, some monks were seen approaching to the
scaffold from this church; and above their heads, coming on slowly
and gloomily, the effigy of Christ upon the cross, canopied with
black. This was carried round the foot of the scaffold, to the
front, and turned towards the criminal, that he might see it to the
last. It was hardly in its place, when he appeared on the
platform, bare-footed; his hands bound; and with the collar and
neck of his shirt cut away, almost to the shoulder. A young man--
six-and-twenty--vigorously made, and well-shaped. Face pale; small
dark moustache; and dark brown hair.

He had refused to confess, it seemed, without first having his wife
brought to see him; and they had sent an escort for her, which had
occasioned the delay.

He immediately kneeled down, below the knife. His neck fitting
into a hole, made for the purpose, in a cross plank, was shut down,
by another plank above; exactly like the pillory. Immediately
below him was a leathern bag. And into it his head rolled

The executioner was holding it by the hair, and walking with it
round the scaffold, showing it to the people, before one quite knew
that the knife had fallen heavily, and with a rattling sound.

When it had travelled round the four sides of the scaffold, it was
set upon a pole in front--a little patch of black and white, for
the long street to stare at, and the flies to settle on. The eyes
were turned upward, as if he had avoided the sight of the leathern
bag, and looked to the crucifix. Every tinge and hue of life had
left it in that instant. It was dull, cold, livid, wax. The body

There was a great deal of blood. When we left the window, and went
close up to the scaffold, it was very dirty; one of the two men who
were throwing water over it, turning to help the other lift the
body into a shell, picked his way as through mire. A strange
appearance was the apparent annihilation of the neck. The head was
taken off so close, that it seemed as if the knife had narrowly
escaped crushing the jaw, or shaving off the ear; and the body
looked as if there were nothing left above the shoulder.

Nobody cared, or was at all affected. There was no manifestation
of disgust, or pity, or indignation, or sorrow. My empty pockets
were tried, several times, in the crowd immediately below the
scaffold, as the corpse was being put into its coffin. It was an
ugly, filthy, careless, sickening spectacle; meaning nothing but
butchery beyond the momentary interest, to the one wretched actor.
Yes! Such a sight has one meaning and one warning. Let me not
forget it. The speculators in the lottery, station themselves at
favourable points for counting the gouts of blood that spirt out,
here or there; and buy that number. It is pretty sure to have a
run upon it.

The body was carted away in due time, the knife cleansed, the
scaffold taken down, and all the hideous apparatus removed. The
executioner: an outlaw ex officio (what a satire on the
Punishment!) who dare not, for his life, cross the Bridge of St.
Angelo but to do his work: retreated to his lair, and the show was

At the head of the collections in the palaces of Rome, the Vatican,
of course, with its treasures of art, its enormous galleries, and
staircases, and suites upon suites of immense chambers, ranks
highest and stands foremost. Many most noble statues, and
wonderful pictures, are there; nor is it heresy to say that there
is a considerable amount of rubbish there, too. When any old piece
of sculpture dug out of the ground, finds a place in a gallery
because it is old, and without any reference to its intrinsic
merits: and finds admirers by the hundred, because it is there,
and for no other reason on earth: there will be no lack of
objects, very indifferent in the plain eyesight of any one who
employs so vulgar a property, when he may wear the spectacles of
Cant for less than nothing, and establish himself as a man of taste
for the mere trouble of putting them on.

I unreservedly confess, for myself, that I cannot leave my natural
perception of what is natural and true, at a palace-door, in Italy
or elsewhere, as I should leave my shoes if I were travelling in
the East. I cannot forget that there are certain expressions of
face, natural to certain passions, and as unchangeable in their
nature as the gait of a lion, or the flight of an eagle. I cannot
dismiss from my certain knowledge, such commonplace facts as the
ordinary proportion of men's arms, and legs, and heads; and when I
meet with performances that do violence to these experiences and
recollections, no matter where they may be, I cannot honestly
admire them, and think it best to say so; in spite of high critical
advice that we should sometimes feign an admiration, though we have
it not.

Therefore, I freely acknowledge that when I see a jolly young
Waterman representing a cherubim, or a Barclay and Perkins's
Drayman depicted as an Evangelist, I see nothing to commend or
admire in the performance, however great its reputed Painter.
Neither am I partial to libellous Angels, who play on fiddles and
bassoons, for the edification of sprawling monks apparently in
liquor. Nor to those Monsieur Tonsons of galleries, Saint Francis
and Saint Sebastian; both of whom I submit should have very
uncommon and rare merits, as works of art, to justify their
compound multiplication by Italian Painters.

It seems to me, too, that the indiscriminate and determined
raptures in which some critics indulge, is incompatible with the
true appreciation of the really great and transcendent works. I
cannot imagine, for example, how the resolute champion of
undeserving pictures can soar to the amazing beauty of Titian's
great picture of the Assumption of the Virgin at Venice; or how the
man who is truly affected by the sublimity of that exquisite
production, or who is truly sensible of the beauty of Tintoretto's
great picture of the Assembly of the Blessed in the same place, can
discern in Michael Angelo's Last Judgment, in the Sistine chapel,
any general idea, or one pervading thought, in harmony with the
stupendous subject. He who will contemplate Raphael's masterpiece,
the Transfiguration, and will go away into another chamber of that
same Vatican, and contemplate another design of Raphael,
representing (in incredible caricature) the miraculous stopping of
a great fire by Leo the Fourth--and who will say that he admires
them both, as works of extraordinary genius--must, as I think, be
wanting in his powers of perception in one of the two instances,
and, probably, in the high and lofty one.

It is easy to suggest a doubt, but I have a great doubt whether,
sometimes, the rules of art are not too strictly observed, and
whether it is quite well or agreeable that we should know
beforehand, where this figure will be turning round, and where that
figure will be lying down, and where there will be drapery in
folds, and so forth. When I observe heads inferior to the subject,
in pictures of merit, in Italian galleries, I do not attach that
reproach to the Painter, for I have a suspicion that these great
men, who were, of necessity, very much in the hands of monks and
priests, painted monks and priests a great deal too often. I
frequently see, in pictures of real power, heads quite below the
story and the painter: and I invariably observe that those heads
are of the Convent stamp, and have their counterparts among the
Convent inmates of this hour; so, I have settled with myself that,
in such cases, the lameness was not with the painter, but with the
vanity and ignorance of certain of his employers, who would be
apostles--on canvas, at all events.

The exquisite grace and beauty of Canova's statues; the wonderful
gravity and repose of many of the ancient works in sculpture, both
in the Capitol and the Vatican; and the strength and fire of many
others; are, in their different ways, beyond all reach of words.
They are especially impressive and delightful, after the works of
Bernini and his disciples, in which the churches of Rome, from St.
Peter's downward, abound; and which are, I verily believe, the most
detestable class of productions in the wide world. I would
infinitely rather (as mere works of art) look upon the three
deities of the Past, the Present, and the Future, in the Chinese
Collection, than upon the best of these breezy maniacs; whose every
fold of drapery is blown inside-out; whose smallest vein, or
artery, is as big as an ordinary forefinger; whose hair is like a
nest of lively snakes; and whose attitudes put all other
extravagance to shame. Insomuch that I do honestly believe, there
can be no place in the world, where such intolerable abortions,
begotten of the sculptor's chisel, are to be found in such
profusion, as in Rome.

There is a fine collection of Egyptian antiquities, in the Vatican;
and the ceilings of the rooms in which they are arranged, are
painted to represent a starlight sky in the Desert. It may seem an
odd idea, but it is very effective. The grim, half-human monsters
from the temples, look more grim and monstrous underneath the deep
dark blue; it sheds a strange uncertain gloomy air on everything--a
mystery adapted to the objects; and you leave them, as you find
them, shrouded in a solemn night.

In the private palaces, pictures are seen to the best advantage.
There are seldom so many in one place that the attention need
become distracted, or the eye confused. You see them very
leisurely; and are rarely interrupted by a crowd of people. There
are portraits innumerable, by Titian, and Rembrandt, and Vandyke;
heads by Guido, and Domenichino, and Carlo Dolci; various subjects
by Correggio, and Murillo, and Raphael, and Salvator Rosa, and
Spagnoletto--many of which it would be difficult, indeed, to praise
too highly, or to praise enough; such is their tenderness and
grace; their noble elevation, purity, and beauty.

The portrait of Beatrice di Cenci, in the Palazzo Berberini, is a
picture almost impossible to be forgotten. Through the
transcendent sweetness and beauty of the face, there is a something
shining out, that haunts me. I see it now, as I see this paper, or
my pen. The head is loosely draped in white; the light hair
falling down below the linen folds. She has turned suddenly
towards you; and there is an expression in the eyes--although they
are very tender and gentle--as if the wildness of a momentary
terror, or distraction, had been struggled with and overcome, that
instant; and nothing but a celestial hope, and a beautiful sorrow,
and a desolate earthly helplessness remained. Some stories say
that Guido painted it, the night before her execution; some other
stories, that he painted it from memory, after having seen her, on
her way to the scaffold. I am willing to believe that, as you see
her on his canvas, so she turned towards him, in the crowd, from
the first sight of the axe, and stamped upon his mind a look which
he has stamped on mine as though I had stood beside him in the
concourse. The guilty palace of the Cenci: blighting a whole
quarter of the town, as it stands withering away by grains: had
that face, to my fancy, in its dismal porch, and at its black,
blind windows, and flitting up and down its dreary stairs, and
growing out of the darkness of the ghostly galleries. The History
is written in the Painting; written, in the dying girl's face, by
Nature's own hand. And oh! how in that one touch she puts to
flight (instead of making kin) the puny world that claim to be
related to her, in right of poor conventional forgeries!

I saw in the Palazzo Spada, the statue of Pompey; the statue at
whose base Caesar fell. A stern, tremendous figure! I imagined
one of greater finish: of the last refinement: full of delicate
touches: losing its distinctness, in the giddy eyes of one whose
blood was ebbing before it, and settling into some such rigid
majesty as this, as Death came creeping over the upturned face.

The excursions in the neighbourhood of Rome are charming, and would
be full of interest were it only for the changing views they
afford, of the wild Campagna. But, every inch of ground, in every
direction, is rich in associations, and in natural beauties. There
is Albano, with its lovely lake and wooded shore, and with its
wine, that certainly has not improved since the days of Horace, and
in these times hardly justifies his panegyric. There is squalid
Tivoli, with the river Anio, diverted from its course, and plunging
down, headlong, some eighty feet in search of it. With its
picturesque Temple of the Sibyl, perched high on a crag; its minor
waterfalls glancing and sparkling in the sun; and one good cavern
yawning darkly, where the river takes a fearful plunge and shoots
on, low down under beetling rocks. There, too, is the Villa
d'Este, deserted and decaying among groves of melancholy pine and
cypress trees, where it seems to lie in state. Then, there is
Frascati, and, on the steep above it, the ruins of Tusculum, where
Cicero lived, and wrote, and adorned his favourite house (some
fragments of it may yet be seen there), and where Cato was born.
We saw its ruined amphitheatre on a grey, dull day, when a shrill
March wind was blowing, and when the scattered stones of the old
city lay strewn about the lonely eminence, as desolate and dead as
the ashes of a long extinguished fire.

One day we walked out, a little party of three, to Albano, fourteen
miles distant; possessed by a great desire to go there by the
ancient Appian way, long since ruined and overgrown. We started at
half-past seven in the morning, and within an hour or so were out
upon the open Campagna. For twelve miles we went climbing on, over
an unbroken succession of mounds, and heaps, and hills, of ruin.
Tombs and temples, overthrown and prostrate; small fragments of
columns, friezes, pediments; great blocks of granite and marble;
mouldering arches, grass-grown and decayed; ruin enough to build a
spacious city from; lay strewn about us. Sometimes, loose walls,
built up from these fragments by the shepherds, came across our
path; sometimes, a ditch between two mounds of broken stones,
obstructed our progress; sometimes, the fragments themselves,
rolling from beneath our feet, made it a toilsome matter to
advance; but it was always ruin. Now, we tracked a piece of the
old road, above the ground; now traced it, underneath a grassy
covering, as if that were its grave; but all the way was ruin. In
the distance, ruined aqueducts went stalking on their giant course
along the plain; and every breath of wind that swept towards us,
stirred early flowers and grasses, springing up, spontaneously, on
miles of ruin. The unseen larks above us, who alone disturbed the
awful silence, had their nests in ruin; and the fierce herdsmen,
clad in sheepskins, who now and then scowled out upon us from their
sleeping nooks, were housed in ruin. The aspect of the desolate
Campagna in one direction, where it was most level, reminded me of
an American prairie; but what is the solitude of a region where men
have never dwelt, to that of a Desert, where a mighty race have
left their footprints in the earth from which they have vanished;
where the resting-places of their Dead, have fallen like their
Dead; and the broken hour-glass of Time is but a heap of idle dust!
Returning, by the road, at sunset! and looking, from the distance,
on the course we had taken in the morning, I almost feel (as I had
felt when I first saw it, at that hour) as if the sun would never
rise again, but looked its last, that night, upon a ruined world.

To come again on Rome, by moonlight, after such an expedition, is a
fitting close to such a day. The narrow streets, devoid of
footways, and choked, in every obscure corner, by heaps of
dunghill-rubbish, contrast so strongly, in their cramped
dimensions, and their filth, and darkness, with the broad square
before some haughty church: in the centre of which, a
hieroglyphic-covered obelisk, brought from Egypt in the days of the
Emperors, looks strangely on the foreign scene about it; or perhaps
an ancient pillar, with its honoured statue overthrown, supports a
Christian saint: Marcus Aurelius giving place to Paul, and Trajan
to St. Peter. Then, there are the ponderous buildings reared from
the spoliation of the Coliseum, shutting out the moon, like
mountains: while here and there, are broken arches and rent walls,
through which it gushes freely, as the life comes pouring from a
wound. The little town of miserable houses, walled, and shut in by
barred gates, is the quarter where the Jews are locked up nightly,
when the clock strikes eight--a miserable place, densely populated,
and reeking with bad odours, but where the people are industrious
and money-getting. In the day-time, as you make your way along the
narrow streets, you see them all at work: upon the pavement,
oftener than in their dark and frouzy shops: furbishing old
clothes, and driving bargains.

Crossing from these patches of thick darkness, out into the moon
once more, the fountain of Trevi, welling from a hundred jets, and
rolling over mimic rocks, is silvery to the eye and ear. In the
narrow little throat of street, beyond, a booth, dressed out with
flaring lamps, and boughs of trees, attracts a group of sulky
Romans round its smoky coppers of hot broth, and cauliflower stew;
its trays of fried fish, and its flasks of wine. As you rattle
round the sharply-twisting corner, a lumbering sound is heard. The
coachman stops abruptly, and uncovers, as a van comes slowly by,
preceded by a man who bears a large cross; by a torch-bearer; and a
priest: the latter chaunting as he goes. It is the Dead Cart,
with the bodies of the poor, on their way to burial in the Sacred
Field outside the walls, where they will be thrown into the pit
that will be covered with a stone to-night, and sealed up for a

But whether, in this ride, you pass by obelisks, or columns ancient
temples, theatres, houses, porticoes, or forums: it is strange to
see, how every fragment, whenever it is possible, has been blended
into some modern structure, and made to serve some modern purpose--
a wall, a dwelling-place, a granary, a stable--some use for which
it never was designed, and associated with which it cannot
otherwise than lamely assort. It is stranger still, to see how
many ruins of the old mythology: how many fragments of obsolete
legend and observance: have been incorporated into the worship of
Christian altars here; and how, in numberless respects, the false
faith and the true are fused into a monstrous union.

From one part of the city, looking out beyond the walls, a squat
and stunted pyramid (the burial-place of Caius Cestius) makes an
opaque triangle in the moonlight. But, to an English traveller, it
serves to mark the grave of Shelley too, whose ashes lie beneath a
little garden near it. Nearer still, almost within its shadow, lie
the bones of Keats, 'whose name is writ in water,' that shines
brightly in the landscape of a calm Italian night.

The Holy Week in Rome is supposed to offer great attractions to all
visitors; but, saving for the sights of Easter Sunday, I would
counsel those who go to Rome for its own interest, to avoid it at
that time. The ceremonies, in general, are of the most tedious and
wearisome kind; the heat and crowd at every one of them, painfully
oppressive; the noise, hubbub, and confusion, quite distracting.
We abandoned the pursuit of these shows, very early in the
proceedings, and betook ourselves to the Ruins again. But, we
plunged into the crowd for a share of the best of the sights; and
what we saw, I will describe to you.

At the Sistine chapel, on the Wednesday, we saw very little, for by
the time we reached it (though we were early) the besieging crowd
had filled it to the door, and overflowed into the adjoining hall,
where they were struggling, and squeezing, and mutually
expostulating, and making great rushes every time a lady was
brought out faint, as if at least fifty people could be
accommodated in her vacant standing-room. Hanging in the doorway
of the chapel, was a heavy curtain, and this curtain, some twenty
people nearest to it, in their anxiety to hear the chaunting of the
Miserere, were continually plucking at, in opposition to each
other, that it might not fall down and stifle the sound of the
voices. The consequence was, that it occasioned the most
extraordinary confusion, and seemed to wind itself about the
unwary, like a Serpent. Now, a lady was wrapped up in it, and
couldn't be unwound. Now, the voice of a stifling gentleman was
heard inside it, beseeching to be let out. Now, two muffled arms,
no man could say of which sex, struggled in it as in a sack. Now,
it was carried by a rush, bodily overhead into the chapel, like an
awning. Now, it came out the other way, and blinded one of the
Pope's Swiss Guard, who had arrived, that moment, to set things to

Being seated at a little distance, among two or three of the Pope's
gentlemen, who were very weary and counting the minutes--as perhaps
his Holiness was too--we had better opportunities of observing this
eccentric entertainment, than of hearing the Miserere. Sometimes,
there was a swell of mournful voices that sounded very pathetic and
sad, and died away, into a low strain again; but that was all we

At another time, there was the Exhibition of Relics in St. Peter's,
which took place at between six and seven o'clock in the evening,
and was striking from the cathedral being dark and gloomy, and
having a great many people in it. The place into which the relics
were brought, one by one, by a party of three priests, was a high
balcony near the chief altar. This was the only lighted part of
the church. There are always a hundred and twelve lamps burning
near the altar, and there were two tall tapers, besides, near the
black statue of St. Peter; but these were nothing in such an
immense edifice. The gloom, and the general upturning of faces to
the balcony, and the prostration of true believers on the pavement,
as shining objects, like pictures or looking-glasses, were brought
out and shown, had something effective in it, despite the very
preposterous manner in which they were held up for the general
edification, and the great elevation at which they were displayed;
which one would think rather calculated to diminish the comfort
derivable from a full conviction of their being genuine.

On the Thursday, we went to see the Pope convey the Sacrament from
the Sistine chapel, to deposit it in the Capella Paolina, another
chapel in the Vatican;--a ceremony emblematical of the entombment
of the Saviour before His Resurrection. We waited in a great
gallery with a great crowd of people (three-fourths of them
English) for an hour or so, while they were chaunting the Miserere,
in the Sistine chapel again. Both chapels opened out of the
gallery; and the general attention was concentrated on the
occasional opening and shutting of the door of the one for which
the Pope was ultimately bound. None of these openings disclosed
anything more tremendous than a man on a ladder, lighting a great
quantity of candles; but at each and every opening, there was a
terrific rush made at this ladder and this man, something like (I
should think) a charge of the heavy British cavalry at Waterloo.
The man was never brought down, however, nor the ladder; for it
performed the strangest antics in the world among the crowd--where
it was carried by the man, when the candles were all lighted; and
finally it was stuck up against the gallery wall, in a very
disorderly manner, just before the opening of the other chapel, and
the commencement of a new chaunt, announced the approach of his
Holiness. At this crisis, the soldiers of the guard, who had been
poking the crowd into all sorts of shapes, formed down the gallery:
and the procession came up, between the two lines they made.

There were a few choristers, and then a great many priests, walking
two and two, and carrying--the good-looking priests at least--their
lighted tapers, so as to throw the light with a good effect upon
their faces: for the room was darkened. Those who were not
handsome, or who had not long beards, carried THEIR tapers anyhow,
and abandoned themselves to spiritual contemplation. Meanwhile,
the chaunting was very monotonous and dreary. The procession
passed on, slowly, into the chapel, and the drone of voices went
on, and came on, with it, until the Pope himself appeared, walking
under a white satin canopy, and bearing the covered Sacrament in
both hands; cardinals and canons clustered round him, making a
brilliant show. The soldiers of the guard knelt down as he passed;
all the bystanders bowed; and so he passed on into the chapel: the
white satin canopy being removed from over him at the door, and a
white satin parasol hoisted over his poor old head, in place of it.
A few more couples brought up the rear, and passed into the chapel
also. Then, the chapel door was shut; and it was all over; and
everybody hurried off headlong, as for life or death, to see
something else, and say it wasn't worth the trouble.

I think the most popular and most crowded sight (excepting those of
Easter Sunday and Monday, which are open to all classes of people)
was the Pope washing the feet of Thirteen men, representing the
twelve apostles, and Judas Iscariot. The place in which this pious
office is performed, is one of the chapels of St. Peter's, which is
gaily decorated for the occasion; the thirteen sitting, 'all of a
row,' on a very high bench, and looking particularly uncomfortable,
with the eyes of Heaven knows how many English, French, Americans,
Swiss, Germans, Russians, Swedes, Norwegians, and other foreigners,
nailed to their faces all the time. They are robed in white; and
on their heads they wear a stiff white cap, like a large English
porter-pot, without a handle. Each carries in his hand, a nosegay,
of the size of a fine cauliflower; and two of them, on this
occasion, wore spectacles; which, remembering the characters they
sustained, I thought a droll appendage to the costume. There was a
great eye to character. St. John was represented by a good-looking
young man. St. Peter, by a grave-looking old gentleman, with a
flowing brown beard; and Judas Iscariot by such an enormous
hypocrite (I could not make out, though, whether the expression of
his face was real or assumed) that if he had acted the part to the
death and had gone away and hanged himself, he would have left
nothing to be desired.

As the two large boxes, appropriated to ladies at this sight, were
full to the throat, and getting near was hopeless, we posted off,
along with a great crowd, to be in time at the Table, where the
Pope, in person, waits on these Thirteen; and after a prodigious
struggle at the Vatican staircase, and several personal conflicts
with the Swiss guard, the whole crowd swept into the room. It was
a long gallery hung with drapery of white and red, with another
great box for ladies (who are obliged to dress in black at these
ceremonies, and to wear black veils), a royal box for the King of
Naples and his party; and the table itself, which, set out like a
ball supper, and ornamented with golden figures of the real
apostles, was arranged on an elevated platform on one side of the
gallery. The counterfeit apostles' knives and forks were laid out
on that side of the table which was nearest to the wall, so that
they might be stared at again, without let or hindrance.

The body of the room was full of male strangers; the crowd immense;
the heat very great; and the pressure sometimes frightful. It was
at its height, when the stream came pouring in, from the feet-
washing; and then there were such shrieks and outcries, that a
party of Piedmontese dragoons went to the rescue of the Swiss
guard, and helped them to calm the tumult.

The ladies were particularly ferocious, in their struggles for
places. One lady of my acquaintance was seized round the waist, in
the ladies' box, by a strong matron, and hoisted out of her place;
and there was another lady (in a back row in the same box) who
improved her position by sticking a large pin into the ladies
before her.

The gentlemen about me were remarkably anxious to see what was on
the table; and one Englishman seemed to have embarked the whole
energy of his nature in the determination to discover whether there
was any mustard. 'By Jupiter there's vinegar!' I heard him say to
his friend, after he had stood on tiptoe an immense time, and had
been crushed and beaten on all sides. 'And there's oil! I saw
them distinctly, in cruets! Can any gentleman, in front there, see
mustard on the table? Sir, will you oblige me! DO you see a

The apostles and Judas appearing on the platform, after much
expectation, were marshalled, in line, in front of the table, with
Peter at the top; and a good long stare was taken at them by the
company, while twelve of them took a long smell at their nosegays,
and Judas--moving his lips very obtrusively--engaged in inward
prayer. Then, the Pope, clad in a scarlet robe, and wearing on his
head a skull-cap of white satin, appeared in the midst of a crowd
of Cardinals and other dignitaries, and took in his hand a little
golden ewer, from which he poured a little water over one of
Peter's hands, while one attendant held a golden basin; a second, a
fine cloth; a third, Peter's nosegay, which was taken from him
during the operation. This his Holiness performed, with
considerable expedition, on every man in the line (Judas, I
observed, to be particularly overcome by his condescension); and
then the whole Thirteen sat down to dinner. Grace said by the
Pope. Peter in the chair.

There was white wine, and red wine: and the dinner looked very
good. The courses appeared in portions, one for each apostle: and
these being presented to the Pope, by Cardinals upon their knees,
were by him handed to the Thirteen. The manner in which Judas grew
more white-livered over his victuals, and languished, with his head
on one side, as if he had no appetite, defies all description.
Peter was a good, sound, old man, and went in, as the saying is,
'to win;' eating everything that was given him (he got the best:
being first in the row) and saying nothing to anybody. The dishes
appeared to be chiefly composed of fish and vegetables. The Pope
helped the Thirteen to wine also; and, during the whole dinner,
somebody read something aloud, out of a large book--the Bible, I
presume--which nobody could hear, and to which nobody paid the
least attention. The Cardinals, and other attendants, smiled to
each other, from time to time, as if the thing were a great farce;
and if they thought so, there is little doubt they were perfectly
right. His Holiness did what he had to do, as a sensible man gets
through a troublesome ceremony, and seemed very glad when it was
all over.

The Pilgrims' Suppers: where lords and ladies waited on the
Pilgrims, in token of humility, and dried their feet when they had
been well washed by deputy: were very attractive. But, of all the
many spectacles of dangerous reliance on outward observances, in
themselves mere empty forms, none struck me half so much as the
Scala Santa, or Holy Staircase, which I saw several times, but to
the greatest advantage, or disadvantage, on Good Friday.

This holy staircase is composed of eight-and-twenty steps, said to
have belonged to Pontius Pilate's house and to be the identical
stair on which Our Saviour trod, in coming down from the judgment-
seat. Pilgrims ascend it, only on their knees. It is steep; and,
at the summit, is a chapel, reported to be full of relics; into
which they peep through some iron bars, and then come down again,
by one of two side staircases, which are not sacred, and may be
walked on.

On Good Friday, there were, on a moderate computation, a hundred
people, slowly shuffling up these stairs, on their knees, at one
time; while others, who were going up, or had come down--and a few
who had done both, and were going up again for the second time--
stood loitering in the porch below, where an old gentleman in a
sort of watch-box, rattled a tin canister, with a slit in the top,
incessantly, to remind them that he took the money. The majority
were country-people, male and female. There were four or five
Jesuit priests, however, and some half-dozen well-dressed women. A
whole school of boys, twenty at least, were about half-way up--
evidently enjoying it very much. They were all wedged together,
pretty closely; but the rest of the company gave the boys as wide a
berth as possible, in consequence of their betraying some
recklessness in the management of their boots.

I never, in my life, saw anything at once so ridiculous, and so
unpleasant, as this sight--ridiculous in the absurd incidents
inseparable from it; and unpleasant in its senseless and unmeaning
degradation. There are two steps to begin with, and then a rather
broad landing. The more rigid climbers went along this landing on
their knees, as well as up the stairs; and the figures they cut, in
their shuffling progress over the level surface, no description can
paint. Then, to see them watch their opportunity from the porch,
and cut in where there was a place next the wall! And to see one
man with an umbrella (brought on purpose, for it was a fine day)
hoisting himself, unlawfully, from stair to stair! And to observe

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