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Travels Through France And Italy

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wonderful fluency and precision. Thus he will, at a minute's
warning, recite two or three hundred verses, well turned, and
well adapted, and generally mingled with an elegant compliment to
the company. The Italians are so fond of poetry, that many of
them, have the best part of Ariosto, Tasso, and Petrarch, by
heart; and these are the great sources from which the
Improvisatori draw their rhimes, cadence, and turns of
expression. But, lest you should think there is neither rhime nor
reason in protracting this tedious epistle, I shall conclude it
with the old burden of my song, that I am always--Your
affectionate humble servant.

LETTER XXVIII

NICE, February 5, 1765.

DEAR SIR,--Your entertaining letter of the fifth of last month,
was a very charitable and a very agreeable donation: but your
suspicion is groundless. I assure you, upon my honour, I have no
share whatever in any of the disputes which agitate the public:
nor do I know any thing of your political transactions, except
what I casually see in one of your newspapers, with the perusal
of which I am sometimes favoured by our consul at Villefranche.
You insist upon my being more particular in my remarks on what I
saw at Florence, and I shall obey the injunction. The famous
gallery which contains the antiquities, is the third story of a
noble stone-edifice, built in the form of the Greek Pi, the upper
part fronting the river Arno, and one of the legs adjoining to
the ducal-palace, where the courts of justice are held. As the
house of Medici had for some centuries resided in the palace of
Pitti, situated on the other side of the river, a full mile from
these tribunals, the architect Vasari, who planned the new
edifice, at the same time contrived a corridore, or covered
passage, extending from the palace of Pitti along one of the
bridges, to the gallery of curiosities, through which the grand-
duke passed unseen, when he was disposed either to amuse himself
with his antiquities, or to assist at his courts of judicature:
but there is nothing very extraordinary either in the contrivance
or execution of this corridore.

If I resided in Florence I would give something extraordinary for
permission to walk every day in the gallery, which I should much
prefer to the Lycaeum, the groves of Academus, or any porch or
philosophical alley in Athens or in Rome. Here by viewing the
statues and busts ranged on each side, I should become acquainted
with the faces of all the remarkable personages, male and female,
of antiquity, and even be able to trace their different
characters from the expression of their features. This collection
is a most excellent commentary upon the Roman historians,
particularly Suetonius and Dion Cassius. There was one
circumstance that struck me in viewing the busts of Caracalla,
both here and in the Capitol at Rome; there was a certain
ferocity in the eyes, which seemed to contradict the sweetness of
the other features, and remarkably justified the epithet
Caracuyl, by which he was distinguished by the antient
inhabitants of North-Britain. In the language of the Highlanders
caracuyl signifies cruel eye, as we are given to understand by
the ingenious editor of Fingal, who seems to think that Caracalla
is no other than the Celtic word, adapted to the pronunciation of
the Romans: but the truth is, Caracalla was the name of a Gaulish
vestment, which this prince affected to wear; and hence he
derived that surname. The Caracuyl of the Britons, is the same as
the upodra idon of the Greeks, which Homer has so often applied
to his Scolding Heroes. I like the Bacchanalian, chiefly for the
fine drapery. The wind, occasioned by her motion, seems to have
swelled and raised it from the parts of the body which it covers.
There is another gay Bacchanalian, in the attitude of dancing,
crowned with ivy, holding in her right hand a bunch of grapes,
and in her left the thyrsus. The head of the celebrated Flora is
very beautiful: the groupe of Cupid and Psyche, however, did not
give me all the pleasure I expected from it.

Of all the marbles that appear in the open gallery, the following
are those I most admire. Leda with the Swan; as for Jupiter, in
this transformation, he has much the appearance of a goose. I
have not seen any thing tamer; but the sculptor has admirably
shewn his art in representing Leda's hand partly hid among the
feathers, which are so lightly touched off, that the very shape
of the fingers are seen underneath. The statue of a youth,
supposed to be Ganymede, is compared by the connoisseurs to the
celebrated Venus, and as far as I can judge, not without reason:
it is however, rather agreeable than striking, and will please a
connoisseur much more than a common spectator. I know not whether
it is my regard to the faculty that inhances the value of the
noted Esculapius, who appears with a venerable beard of delicate
workmanship. He is larger than the life, cloathed in a
magnificent pallium, his left arm resting on a knotted staff,
round which the snake is twined according to Ovid.

Hunc modo serpentem baculum qui nexibus ambit
Perspice--

Behold the snake his mystic Rod intwine.

He has in his hand the fascia herbarum, and the crepidae on his
feet. There is a wild-boar represented lying on one side, which I
admire as a master-piece. The savageness of his appearance is
finely contrasted with the case and indolence of the attitude.
Were I to meet with a living boar lying with the same expression,
I should be tempted to stroke his bristles. Here is an elegant
bust of Antinous, the favourite of Adrian; and a beautiful head
of Alexander the Great, turned on one side, with an expression of
languishment and anxiety in his countenance. The virtuosi are not
agreed about the circumstance in which he is represented; whether
fainting with the loss of blood which he suffered in his
adventure at Oxydrace; or languishing with the fever contracted
by bathing in the Cydnus; or finally complaining to his father
Jove, that there were no other worlds for him to conquer. The
kneeling Narcissus is a striking figure, and the expression
admirable. The two Bacchi are perfectly well executed; but (to my
shame be it spoken) I prefer to the antique that which is the
work of Michael Angelo Buonaroti, concerning which the story is
told which you well know. The artist having been blamed by some
pretended connoisseurs, for not imitating the manner of the
ancients, is said to have privately finished this Bacchus, and
buried it, after having broke off an arm, which he kept as a
voucher. The statue, being dug up by accident, was allowed by the
best judges, to be a perfect antique; upon which Buonaroti
produced the arm, and claimed his own work. Bianchi looks upon
this as a fable; but owns that Vasari tells such another of a
child cut in marble by the same artist, which being carried to
Rome, and kept for some time under ground, was dug up as an
antique, and sold for a great deal of money. I was likewise
attracted by the Morpheus in touchstone, which is described by
Addison, who, by the bye, notwithstanding all his taste, has been
convicted by Bianchi of several gross blunders in his account of
this gallery.

With respect to the famous Venus Pontia, commonly called de
Medicis, which was found at Tivoli, and is kept in a separate
apartment called the Tribuna, I believe I ought to be intirely
silent, or at least conceal my real sentiments, which will
otherwise appear equally absurd and presumptuous. It must be want
of taste that prevents my feeling that enthusiastic admiration
with which others are inspired at sight of this statue: a statue
which in reputation equals that of Cupid by Praxiteles, which
brought such a concourse of strangers of old to the little town
of Thespiae. I cannot help thinking that there is no beauty in
the features of Venus; and that the attitude is aukward and out
of character. It is a bad plea to urge that the antients and we
differ in the ideas of beauty. We know the contrary, from their
medals, busts, and historians. Without all doubt, the limbs and
proportions of this statue are elegantly formed, and accurately
designed, according to the nicest rules of symmetry and
proportion; and the back parts especially are executed so
happily, as to excite the admiration of the most indifferent
spectator. One cannot help thinking it is the very Venus of
Cnidos by Praxiteles, which Lucian describes. "Hercle quanta
dorsi concinnitas! ut exuberantes lumbi amplexantes manus
implent! quam scite circumductae clunium pulpae in se
rotundantur, neque tenues nimis ipsis ossibus adstrictae, neque
in immensam effusae Pinguedinem!" That the statue thus described
was not the Venus de Medicis, would appear from the Greek
inscription on the base, KLEOMENIS APPOLLODOROI ATHINAIOS
EPOESEI. Cleomenes filius Apollodori fecit; did we not know that
this inscription is counted spurious, and that instead of
EPOESEI, it should be EPOIESE. This, however, is but a frivolous
objection, as we have seen many inscriptions undoubtedly antique,
in which the orthography is false, either from the ignorance or
carelessness of the sculptor. Others suppose, not without reason,
that this statue is a representation of the famous Phryne, the
courtesan of Athens, who at the celebration of the Eleusinian
games, exhibited herself coming out of the bath, naked, to the
eyes of the whole Athenian people. I was much pleased with the
dancing faun; and still better with the Lotti, or wrestlers, the
attitudes of which are beautifully contrived to shew the
different turns of the limbs, and the swelling of the muscles:
but, what pleased me best of all the statues in the Tribuna was
the Arrotino, commonly called the Whetter, and generally supposed
to represent a slave, who in the act of whetting a knife,
overhears the conspiracy of Catiline. You know he is represented
on one knee; and certain it is, I never saw such an expression of
anxious attention, as appears in his countenance. But it is not
mingled with any marks of surprise, such as could not fail to lay
hold on a man who overhears by accident a conspiracy against the
state. The marquis de Maffei has justly observed that Sallust, in
his very circumstantial detail of that conspiracy, makes no
mention of any such discovery. Neither does it appear that the
figure is in the act of whetting, the stone which he holds in one
hand being rough and unequal no ways resembling a whetstone.
Others alledge it represents Milico, the freedman of Scaevinus,
who conspired against the life of Nero, and gave his poignard to
be whetted to Milico, who presented it to the emperor, with an
account of the conspiracy: but the attitude and expression will
by no means admit of this interpretation. Bianchi, [This
antiquarian is now imprisoned for Life, for having robbed the
Gallery and then set it on fire.] who shows the gallery, thinks
the statue represents the augur Attius Navius, who cut a stone
with a knife, at the command of Tarquinius Priscus. This
conjecture seems to be confirmed by a medallion of Antoninus
Pius, inserted by Vaillant among his Numismata Prestantiora, on
which is delineated nearly such a figure as this in question,
with the following legend. "Attius Navius genuflexus ante
Tarquinium Priscum cotem cultro discidit." He owns indeed that in
the statue, the augur is not distinguished either by his habit or
emblems; and he might have added, neither is the stone a cotes.
For my own part, I think neither of these three opinions is
satisfactory, though the last is very ingenious. Perhaps the
figure allude to a private incident, which never was recorded in
any history. Among the great number of pictures in this Tribuna,
I was most charmed with the Venus by Titian, which has a
sweetness of expression and tenderness of colouring, not to be
described. In this apartment, they reckon three hundred pieces,
the greatest part by the best masters, particularly by Raphael,
in the three manners by which he distinguished himself at
different periods of his life. As for the celebrated statue of
the hermaphrodite, which we find in another room, I give the
sculptor credit for his ingenuity in mingling the sexes in the
composition; but it is, at best, no other than a monster in
nature, which I never had any pleasure in viewing: nor, indeed,
do I think there was much talent required in representing a
figure with the head and breasts of a woman, and all the other
parts of the body masculine. There is such a profusion of
curiosities in this celebrated musaeum; statues, busts, pictures,
medals, tables inlaid in the way of marquetry, cabinets adorned
with precious stones, jewels of all sorts, mathematical
instruments, antient arms and military machines, that the
imagination is bewildered, and a stranger of a visionary turn,
would be apt to fancy himself in a palace of the fairies, raised
and adorned by the power of inchantment.

In one of the detached apartments, I saw the antependium of the
altar, designed for the famous chapel of St. Lorenzo. It is a
curious piece of architecture, inlaid with coloured marble and
precious stones, so as to represent an infinite variety of
natural objects. It is adorned with some crystal pillars, with
capitals of beaten gold. The second story of the building is
occupied by a great number of artists employed in this very
curious work of marquetry, representing figures with gems and
different kinds of coloured marble, for the use of the emperor.
The Italians call it pietre commesse, a sort of inlaying with
stones, analogous to the fineering of cabinets in wood. It is
peculiar to Florence, and seems to be still more curious than the
Mosaic work, which the Romans have brought to great perfection.

The cathedral of Florence is a great Gothic building, encrusted
on the outside with marble; it is remarkable for nothing but its
cupola, which is said to have been copied by the architect of St.
Peter's at Rome, and for its size, which is much greater than
that of any other church in Christendom. [In this cathedral is
the Tomb of Johannes Acutus Anglus, which a man would naturally
interpret as John Sharp; but his name was really Hawkwood, which
the Italians have corrupted into Acut. He was a celebrated
General or Condottiere who arrived in Italy at the head of four
thousand soldiers of fortune, mostly Englishmen who had served
with him in the army of King Edward III., and were dismissed at
the Peace of Bontigny. Hawkwood greatly distinguished himself in
Italy by his valour and conduct, and died a very old man in the
Florentine service. He was the son of a Tanner in Essex, and had
been put apprentice to a Taylor.] The baptistery, which stands by
it, was an antient temple, said to be dedicated to Mars. There
are some good statues of marble within; and one or two of bronze
on the outside of the doors; but it is chiefly celebrated for the
embossed work of its brass gates, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, which
Buonaroti used to say, deserved to be made the gates of Paradise.
I viewed them with pleasure: but still I retained a greater
veneration for those of Pisa, which I had first admired: a
preference which either arises from want of taste, or from the
charm of novelty, by which the former were recommended to my
attention. Those who would have a particular detail of every
thing worth seeing at Florence, comprehending churches,
libraries, palaces, tombs, statues, pictures, fountains, bridge,
etc. may consult Keysler, who is so laboriously circumstantial in
his descriptions, that I never could peruse them, without
suffering the headache, and recollecting the old observation,
that the German genius lies more in the back than in the brain.

I was much disappointed in the chapel of St. Lorenzo.
Notwithstanding the great profusion of granite, porphyry, jasper,
verde antico, lapis-lazuli, and other precious stones,
representing figures in the way of marquetry, I think the whole
has a gloomy effect. These pietre commesse are better calculated
for cabinets, than for ornaments to great buildings, which ought
to be large masses proportioned to the greatness of the edifice.
The compartments are so small, that they produce no effect in
giving the first impression when one enters the place; except to
give an air of littleness to the whole, just as if a grand saloon
was covered with pictures painted in miniature. If they have as
little regard to proportion and perspective, when they paint the
dome, which is not yet finished, this chapel will, in my opinion,
remain a monument of ill taste and extravagance.

The court of the palace of Pitti is formed by three sides of an
elegant square, with arcades all round, like the palace of
Holyrood house at Edinburgh; and the rustic work, which
constitutes the lower part of the building, gives it an air of
strength and magnificence. In this court, there is a fine
fountain, in which the water trickles down from above; and here
is also an admirable antique statue of Hercules, inscribed
LUSIPPOI ERGON, the work of Lysippus.

The apartments of this palace are generally small, and many of
them dark. Among the paintings the most remarkable is the Madonna
de la Seggiola, by Raphael, counted one of the best coloured
pieces of that great master. If I was allowed to find fault with
the performance, I should pronounce it defective in dignity and
sentiment. It is the expression of a peasant rather than of the
mother of God. She exhibits the fondness and joy of a young woman
towards her firstborn son, without that rapture of admiration
which we expect to find in the Virgin Mary, while she
contemplates, in the fruit of her own womb, the Saviour of
mankind. In other respects, it is a fine figure, gay, agreeable,
and very expressive of maternal tenderness; and the bambino is
extremely beautiful. There was an English painter employed in
copying this picture, and what he had done was executed with
great success. I am one of those who think it very possible to
imitate the best pieces in such a manner, that even the
connoisseurs shall not be able to distinguish the original from
the copy. After all, I do not set up for a judge in these
matters, and very likely I may incur the ridicule of the
virtuosi for the remarks I have made: but I am used to speak my
mind freely on all subjects that fall under the cognizance of my
senses; though I must as freely own, there is something more than
common sense required to discover and distinguish the more
delicate beauties of painting. I can safely say, however, that
without any daubing at all, I am, very sincerely--Your
affectionate humble servant.

LETTER XXIX

NICE, February 20, 1765.

DEAR SIR,--Having seen all the curiosities of Florence, and hired
a good travelling coach for seven weeks, at the price of seven
zequines, something less than three guineas and a half, we set
out post for Rome, by the way of Sienna, where we lay the first
night. The country through which we passed is mountainous but
agreeable. Of Sienna I can say nothing from my own observation,
but that we were indifferently lodged in a house that stunk like
a privy, and fared wretchedly at supper. The city is large and
well built: the inhabitants pique themselves upon their
politeness, and the purity of their dialect. Certain it is, some
strangers reside in this place on purpose to learn the best
pronunciation of the Italian tongue. The Mosaic pavement of their
duomo, or cathedral, has been much admired; as well as the
history of Aeneas Sylvius, afterwards pope Pius II., painted on
the walls of the library, partly by Pietro Perugino, and partly
by his pupil Raphael D'Urbino.

Next day, at Buon Convento, where the emperor Henry VII. was
poisoned by a friar with the sacramental wafer, I refused to give
money to the hostler, who in revenge put two young unbroke stone-horses
in the traces next to the coach, which became so unruly,
that before we had gone a quarter of a mile, they and the
postilion were rolling in the dust. In this situation they made
such efforts to disengage themselves, and kicked with such
violence, that I imagined the carriage and all our trunks would
have been beaten in pieces. We leaped out of the coach, however,
without sustaining any personal damage, except the fright; nor
was any hurt done to the vehicle. But the horses were terribly
bruised, and almost strangled, before they could be disengaged.
Exasperated at the villany of the hostler, I resolved to make a
complaint to the uffiziale or magistrate of the place. I found
him wrapped in an old, greasy, ragged, great-coat, sitting in a
wretched apartment, without either glass, paper, or boards in the
windows; and there was no sort of furniture but a couple of
broken chairs and a miserable truckle-bed. He looked pale, and
meagre, and had more the air of a half-starved prisoner than of a
magistrate. Having heard my complaint, he came forth into a kind
of outward room or bellfrey, and rung a great bell with his own
hand. In consequence of this signal, the postmaster came up
stairs, and I suppose he was the first man in the place, for the
uffiziale stood before him cap-in-hand, and with great marks of
humble respect repeated the complaint I had made. This man
assured me, with an air of conscious importance, that he himself
had ordered the hostler to supply me with those very horses,
which were the best in his stable; and that the misfortune which
happened was owing to the misconduct of the fore-postilion, who
did not keep the fore-horses to a proper speed proportioned to
the mettle of the other two. As he took the affair upon himself,
and I perceived had an ascendancy over the magistrate, I
contented myself with saying, I was certain the two horses had
been put to the coach on purpose, either to hurt or frighten us;
and that since I could not have justice here I would make a
formal complaint to the British minister at Florence. In passing
through the street to the coach, which was by this time furnished
with fresh horses, I met the hostler, and would have caned him
heartily; but perceiving my intention, he took to his heels and
vanished. Of all the people I have ever seen, the hostlers,
postilions, and other fellows hanging about the post-houses in
Italy, are the most greedy, impertinent, and provoking. Happy are
those travellers who have phlegm enough to disregard their
insolence and importunity: for this is not so disagreeable as
their revenge is dangerous. An English gentleman at Florence told
me, that one of those fellows, whom he had struck for his
impertinence, flew at him with a long knife, and he could hardly
keep him at sword's point. All of them wear such knives, and are
very apt to use them on the slightest provocation. But their open
attacks are not so formidable as their premeditated schemes of
revenge; in the prosecution of which the Italians are equally
treacherous and cruel.

This night we passed at a place called Radicofani, a village and
fort, situated on the top of a very high mountain. The inn stands
still lower than the town. It was built at the expence of the
last grand-duke of Tuscany; is very large, very cold, and
uncomfortable. One would imagine it was contrived for coolness,
though situated so high, that even in the midst of summer, a
traveller would be glad to have a fire in his chamber. But few,
or none of them have fireplaces, and there is not a bed with
curtains or tester in the house. All the adjacent country is
naked and barren. On the third day we entered the pope's
territories, some parts of which are delightful. Having passed
Aqua-Pendente, a beggarly town, situated on the top of a rock,
from whence there is a romantic cascade of water, which gives it
the name, we travelled along the side of the lake Bolsena, a
beautiful piece of water about thirty miles in circuit, with two
islands in the middle, the banks covered with noble plantations
of oak and cypress. The town of Bolsena standing near the ruins
of the antient Volsinium, which was the birth-place of Sejanus,
is a paultry village; and Montefiascone, famous for its wine, is
a poor, decayed town in this neighbourhood, situated on the side
of a hill, which, according to the author of the Grand Tour, the
only directory I had along with me, is supposed to be the Soracte
of the ancients. If we may believe Horace, Soracte was visible
from Rome: for, in his ninth ode, addressed to Thaliarchus, he
says,

Vides, ut alta stet nive candidum
Soracte--

You see how deeply wreathed with snow
Soracte lifts his hoary head,

but, in order to see Montefiascone, his eyesight must have
penetrated through the Mons Cyminus, at the foot of which now
stands the city of Viterbo. Pliny tells us, that Soracte was not
far from Rome, haud procul ab urbe Roma; but Montefiascone is
fifty miles from this city. And Desprez, in his notes upon
Horace, says it is now called Monte S. Oreste. Addison tells us
he passed by it in the Campania. I could not without indignation
reflect upon the bigotry of Mathilda, who gave this fine country
to the see of Rome, under the dominion of which no country was
ever known to prosper.

About half way between Montefiascone and Viterbo, one of our
fore-wheels flew off, together with a large splinter of the axle-tree;
and if one of the postilions had not by great accident been
a remarkably ingenious fellow, we should have been put to the
greatest inconvenience, as there was no town, or even house,
within several miles. I mention this circumstance, by way of
warning to other travellers, that they may provide themselves
with a hammer and nails, a spare iron-pin or two, a large knife,
and bladder of grease, to be used occasionally in case of such
misfortune.

The mountain of Viterbo is covered with beautiful plantations and
villas belonging to the Roman nobility, who come hither to make
the villegiatura in summer. Of the city of Viterbo I shall say
nothing, but that it is the capital of that country which
Mathilda gave to the Roman see. The place is well built, adorned
with public fountains, and a great number of churches and
convents; yet far from being populous, the whole number of
inhabitants, not exceeding fifteen thousand. The post-house is
one of the worst inns I ever entered.

After having passed this mountain, the Cyminus of the antients,
we skirted part of the lake, which is now called de Vico, and
whose banks afford the most agreeable rural prospects of hill and
vale, wood, glade and water, shade and sun-shine. A few other
very inconsiderable places we passed, and descended into the
Campania of Rome, which is almost a desert. The view of this
country in its present situation, cannot but produce emotions of
pity and indignation in the mind of every person who retains any
idea of its antient cultivation and fertility. It is nothing but
a naked withered down, desolate and dreary, almost without
inclosure, corn-field, hedge, tree, shrub, house, hut, or
habitation; exhibiting here and there the ruins of an antient
castellum, tomb, or temple, and in some places the remains of a
Roman via. I had heard much of these antient pavements, and was
greatly disappointed when I saw them. The Via Cassia or Cymina is
paved with broad, solid, flint-stones, which must have greatly
incommoded the feet of horses that travelled upon it as well as
endangered the lives of the riders from the slipperiness of the
pavement: besides, it is so narrow that two modern carriages
could not pass one another upon it, without the most imminent
hazard of being overturned. I am still of opinion that we excel
the ancient Romans in understanding the conveniences of life.

The Grand Tour says, that within four miles of Rome you see a
tomb on the roadside, said to be that of Nero, with sculpture in
basso-relievo at both ends. I did see such a thing more like a
common grave-stone, than the tomb of an emperor. But we are
informed by Suetonius, that the dead body of Nero, who slew
himself at the villa of his freedman, was by the care of his two
nurses and his concubine Atta, removed to the sepulchre of the
Gens Domitia, immediately within the Porta del Popolo, on your
left hand as you enter Rome, precisely on the spot where now
stands the church of S. Maria del Popolo. His tomb was even
distinguished by an epitaph, which has been preserved by
Gruterus. Giacomo Alberici tells us very gravely in his History
of the Church, that a great number of devils, who guarded the
bones of this wicked emperor, took possession, in the shape of
black ravens, of a walnut-tree, which grew upon the spot;
from whence they insulted every passenger, until pope Paschal II.,
in consequence of a solemn fast and a revelation, went thither
in procession with his court and cardinals, cut down the tree,
and burned it to ashes, which, with the bones of Nero, were
thrown into the Tyber: then he consecrated an altar on the
place, where afterwards the church was built. You may guess
what I felt at first sight of the city of Rome, which,
notwithstanding all the calamities it has undergone, still
maintains an august and imperial appearance. It stands on
the farther side of the Tyber, which we crossed at the Ponte
Molle, formerly called Pons Milvius, about two miles from the
gate by which we entered. This bridge was built by Aemilius
Censor, whose name it originally bore. It was the road by which
so many heroes returned with conquest to their country; by which
so many kings were led captive to Rome; and by which the
ambassadors of so many kingdoms and states approached the seat of
empire, to deprecate the wrath, to sollicit the friendship, or
sue for the protection of the Roman people. It is likewise famous
for the defeat and death of Maxentius, who was here overcome by
Constantine the Great. The space between the bridge and Porta del
Popolo, on the right-hand, which is now taken up with gardens and
villas, was part of the antient Campus Martius, where the
comitiae were held; and where the Roman people inured themselves
to all manner of exercises: it was adorned with porticos,
temples, theatres, baths, circi, basilicae, obelisks, columns,
statues, and groves. Authors differ in their opinions about the
extent of it; but as they all agree that it contained the
Pantheon, the Circus Agonis, now the Piazza Navona, the Bustum
and Mausoleum Augusti, great part of the modern city must be
built upon the ancient Campus Martius. The highway that leads
from the bridge to the city, is part of the Via Flaminia, which
extended as far as Rimini; and is well paved, like a modern
street. Nothing of the antient bridge remains but the piles; nor
is there any thing in the structure of this, or of the other five
Roman bridges over the Tyber, that deserves attention. I have not
seen any bridge in France or Italy, comparable to that of
Westminster either in beauty, magnificence, or solidity; and when
the bridge at Black-Friars is finished, it will be such a
monument of architecture as all the world cannot parallel. As for
the Tyber, it is, in comparison with the Thames, no more than an
inconsiderable stream, foul, deep, and rapid. It is navigable by
small boats, barks, and lighters; and, for the conveniency of
loading and unloading them, there is a handsome quay by the new
custom-house, at the Porto di Ripetta, provided with stairs of
each side, and adorned with an elegant fountain, that yields
abundance of excellent water.

We are told that the bed of this river has been considerably
raised by the rubbish of old Rome, and this is the reason usually
given for its being so apt to overflow its banks. A citizen of
Rome told me, that a friend of his lately digging to lay the
foundation of a new house in the lower part of the city, near the
bank of the river, discovered the pavement of an antient street,
at the depth of thirty-nine feet from the present surface of the
earth. He therefore concluded that modern Rome is near forty feet
higher in this place, than the site of the antient city, and that
the bed of the river is raised in proportion; but this is
altogether incredible. Had the bed of the Tyber been antiently
forty feet lower at Rome, than it is at present, there must have
been a fall or cataract in it immediately above this tract, as it
is not pretended that the bed of it is raised in any part above
the city; otherwise such an elevation would have obstructed its
course, and then it would have overflowed the whole Campania.
There is nothing extraordinary in its present overflowings: they
frequently happened of old, and did great mischief to the antient
city. Appian, Dio, and other historians, describe an inundation
of the Tiber immediately after the death of Julius Caesar, which
inundation was occasioned by the sudden melting of a great
quantity of snow upon the Apennines. This calamity is recorded by
Horace in his ode to Augustus.

Vidimus flavum Tiberim retortis
Littore Etrusco violenter undis,
Ire dejectum monumenta regis,
Templaque Vestae:
Iliae dum se nimium querenti,
Jactat ultorem; vagus et sinistra
Labitur ripa, Jove non probante
Uxorius Amnis.

Livy expressly says, "Ita abundavit Tiberis, ut Ludi Apollinares,
circo inundato, extra portam Collinam ad aedem Erycinae Veneris
parati sint," "There was such an inundation of the Tiber that,
the Circus being overflowed, the Ludi Appollinares were exhibited
without the gate Collina, hard by the temple of Venus Erycina."
To this custom of transferring the Ludi Appollinares to another
place where the Tyber had overflowed the Circus Maximus, Ovid
alludes in his Fasti.

Altera gramineo spectabis equiriacampo
Quem Tiberis curvis in latus urget aquis,
Qui tamen ejecta si forte tenebitur unda,
Coelius accipiet pulverulentus equos.

Another race thy view shall entertain
Where bending Tiber skirts the grassy plain;
Or should his vagrant stream that plain o'erflow,
The Caelian hill the dusty course will show.

The Porta del Popolo (formerly, Flaminia,) by which we entered
Rome, is an elegant piece of architecture, adorned with marble
columns and statues, executed after the design of Buonaroti.
Within-side you find yourself in a noble piazza, from whence
three of the principal streets of Rome are detached. It is
adorned with the famous Aegyptian obelisk, brought hither from
the Circus Maximus, and set up by the architect Dominico Fontana
in the pontificate of Sixtus V. Here is likewise a beautiful
fountain designed by the same artist; and at the beginning of the
two principal streets, are two very elegant churches fronting
each other. Such an august entrance cannot fail to impress a
stranger with a sublime idea of this venerable city.

Having given our names at the gate, we repaired to the dogana, or
custom-house, where our trunks and carriage were searched; and
here we were surrounded by a number of servitori de piazza,
offering their services with the most disagreeable importunity.
Though I told them several times I had no occasion for any, three
of them took possession of the coach, one mounting before and two
of them behind; and thus we proceeded to the Piazza d'Espagna,
where the person lived to whose house I was directed. Strangers
that come to Rome seldom put up at public inns, but go directly
to lodging houses, of which there is great plenty in this
quarter. The Piazza d'Espagna is open, airy, and pleasantly
situated in a high part of the city immediately under the Colla
Pinciana, and adorned with two fine fountains. Here most of the
English reside: the apartments are generally commodious and well
furnished; and the lodgers are well supplied with provisions and
all necessaries of life. But, if I studied oeconomy, I would
choose another part of the town than the Piazza d'Espagna, which
is, besides, at a great distance from the antiquities. For a
decent first floor and two bed-chambers on the second, I payed no
more than a scudo (five shillings) per day. Our table was
plentifully furnished by the landlord for two and thirty pauls,
being equal to sixteen shillings. I hired a town-coach at the
rate of fourteen pauls, or seven shillings a day; and a servitore
di piazza for three pauls, or eighteen-pence. The coachman has
also an allowance of two pauls a day. The provisions at Rome are
reasonable and good, the vitella mongana, however, which is the
most delicate veal I ever tasted, is very dear, being sold for
two pauls, or a shilling, the pound. Here are the rich wines of
Montepulciano, Montefiascone, and Monte di Dragone; but what we
commonly drink at meals is that of Orvieto, a small white wine,
of an agreeable flavour. Strangers are generally advised to
employ an antiquarian to instruct them in all the curiosities of
Rome; and this is a necessary expence, when a person wants to
become a connoisseur in painting, statuary, and architecture. For
my own part I had no such ambition. I longed to view the remains
of antiquity by which this metropolis is distinguished; and to
contemplate the originals of many pictures and statues, which I
had admired in prints and descriptions. I therefore chose a
servant, who was recommended to me as a sober, intelligent
fellow, acquainted with these matters: at the same time I
furnished myself with maps and plans of antient and modern Rome,
together with the little manual, called, Itinerario istruttivo
per ritrovare con facilita tutte le magnificenze di Roma e di
alcune citta', e castelli suburbani. But I found still more
satisfaction in perusing the book in three volumes, intitled,
Roma antica, e moderna, which contains a description of
everything remarkable in and about the city, illustrated with a
great number of copper-plates, and many curious historical
annotations. This directory cost me a zequine; but a hundred
zequines will not purchase all the books and prints which have
been published at Rome on these subjects. Of these the most
celebrated are the plates of Piranesi, who is not only an
ingenious architect and engraver, but also a learned antiquarian;
though he is apt to run riot in his conjectures; and with regard
to the arts of antient Rome, has broached some doctrines, which
he will find it very difficult to maintain. Our young gentlemen
who go to Rome will do well to be upon their guard against a set
of sharpers, (some of them of our own country,) who deal in
pictures and antiques, and very often impose upon the uninformed
stranger, by selling him trash, as the productions of the most
celebrated artists. The English are more than any other
foreigners exposed to this imposition. They are supposed to have
more money to throw away; and therefore a greater number of
snares are laid for them. This opinion of their superior wealth
they take a pride in confirming, by launching out into all manner
of unnecessary expence: but, what is still more dangerous, the
moment they set foot in Italy, they are seized with the ambition
of becoming connoisseurs in painting, musick, statuary, and
architecture; and the adventurers of this country do not fail to
flatter this weakness for their own advantage. I have seen in
different parts of Italy, a number of raw boys, whom Britain
seemed to have poured forth on purpose to bring her national
character into contempt, ignorant, petulant, rash, and
profligate, without any knowledge or experience of their own,
without any director to improve their understanding, or
superintend their conduct. One engages in play with an infamous
gamester, and is stripped perhaps in the very first partie:
another is pillaged by an antiquated cantatrice; a third is
bubbled by a knavish antiquarian; and a fourth is laid under
contribution by a dealer in pictures. Some turn fiddlers, and
pretend to compose: but all of them talk familiarly of the arts,
and return finished connoisseurs and coxcombs, to their own
country. The most remarkable phaenomenon of this kind, which I
have seen, is a boy of seventy-two, now actually travelling
through Italy, for improvement, under the auspices of another boy
of twenty-two. When you arrive at Rome, you receive cards from
all your country-folks in that city: they expect to have the
visit returned next day, when they give orders not to be at home;
and you never speak to one another in the sequel. This is a
refinement in hospitality and politeness, which the English have
invented by the strength of their own genius, without any
assistance either from France, Italy, or Lapland. No Englishman
above the degree of a painter or cicerone frequents any coffee-house
at Rome; and as there are no public diversions, except in
carnival-time, the only chance you have of seeing your
compatriots is either in visiting the curiosities, or at a
conversazione. The Italians are very scrupulous in admitting
foreigners, except those who are introduced as people of quality:
but if there happens to be any English lady of fashion at Rome,
she generally keeps an assembly, to which the British subjects
resort. In my next, I shall communicate, without ceremony or
affectation, what further remarks I have made at Rome, without
any pretence, however, to the character of a connoisseur, which,
without all doubt, would fit very aukwardly upon,--Dear Sir, Your
Friend and Servant.

LETTER XXX

NICE, February 28, 1765.

DEAR SIR,--Nothing can be more agreeable to the eyes of a
stranger, especially in the heats of summer, than the great
number of public fountains that appear in every part of Rome,
embellished with all the ornaments of sculpture, and pouring
forth prodigious quantities of cool, delicious water, brought in
aqueducts from different lakes, rivers, and sources, at a
considerable distance from the city. These works are the remains
of the munificence and industry of the antient Romans, who were
extremely delicate in the article of water: but, however, great
applause is also due to those beneficent popes who have been at
the expence of restoring and repairing those noble channels of
health, pleasure, and convenience. This great plenty of water,
nevertheless, has not induced the Romans to be cleanly. Their
streets, and even their palaces, are disgraced with filth. The
noble Piazza Navona, is adorned with three or four fountains, one
of which is perhaps the most magnificent in Europe, and all of
them discharge vast streams of water: but, notwithstanding this
provision, the piazza is almost as dirty, as West Smithfield,
where the cattle are sold in London. The corridores, arcades, and
even staircases of their most elegant palaces, are depositories
of nastiness, and indeed in summer smell as strong as spirit of
hartshorn. I have a great notion that their ancestors were not
much more cleanly. If we consider that the city and suburbs of
Rome, in the reign of Claudius, contained about seven millions of
inhabitants, a number equal at least to the sum total of all the
souls in England; that great part of antient Rome was allotted to
temples, porticos, basilicae, theatres, thermae, circi, public
and private walks and gardens, where very few, if any, of this
great number lodged; that by far the greater part of those
inhabitants were slaves and poor people, who did not enjoy the
conveniencies of life; and that the use of linen was scarce
known; we must naturally conclude they were strangely crouded
together, and that in general they were a very frowzy generation.
That they were crouded together appears from the height of their
houses, which the poet Rutilius compared to towers made for
scaling heaven. In order to remedy this inconvenience, Augustus
Caesar published a decree, that for the future no houses should
be built above seventy feet high, which, at a moderate
computation, might make six stories. But what seems to prove,
beyond all dispute, that the antient Romans were dirty creatures,
are these two particulars. Vespasian laid a tax upon urine and
ordure, on pretence of being at a great expence in clearing the
streets from such nuisances; an imposition which amounted to about
fourteen pence a year for every individual; and when Heliogabalus
ordered all the cobwebs of the city and suburbs to be collected,
they were found to weigh ten thousand pounds. This was intended
as a demonstration of the great number of inhabitants; but it was
a proof of their dirt, rather than of their populosity. I might
likewise add, the delicate custom of taking vomits at each
other's houses, when they were invited to dinner, or supper, that
they might prepare their stomachs for gormandizing; a beastly
proof of their nastiness as well as gluttony. Horace, in his
description of the banquet of Nasiedenus, says, when the canopy,
under which they sat, fell down, it brought along with it as much
dirt as is raised by a hard gale of wind in dry weather.

--trahentia pulveris atri,
Quantum non aquilo Campanis excitat agris.

Such clouds of dust revolving in its train
As Boreas whirls along the level plain.

I might observe, that the streets were often encumbered with the
putrefying carcasses of criminals, who had been dragged through
them by the heels, and precipitated from the Scalae Gemoniae, or
Tarpeian rock, before they were thrown into the Tyber, which was
the general receptacle of the cloaca maxima and all the filth of
Rome: besides, the bodies of all those who made away with
themselves, without sufficient cause; of such as were condemned
for sacrilege, or killed by thunder, were left unburned and
unburied, to rot above ground.

I believe the moderns retain more of the customs of antient
Romans, than is generally imagined. When I first saw the infants
at the enfans trouves in Paris, so swathed with bandages, that
the very sight of them made my eyes water, I little dreamed, that
the prescription of the antients could be pleaded for this
custom, equally shocking and absurd: but in the Capitol at Rome,
I met with the antique statue of a child swaddled exactly in the
same manner; rolled up like an Aegyptian mummy from the feet. The
circulation of the blood, in such a case, must be obstructed on
the whole surface of the body; and nothing be at liberty but the
head, which is the only part of the child that ought to be
confined. Is it not surprising that common sense should not point
out, even to the most ignorant, that those accursed bandages must
heat the tender infant into a fever; must hinder the action of
the muscles, and the play of the joints, so necessary to health
and nutrition; and that while the refluent blood is obstructed in
the veins, which run on the surface of the body, the arteries,
which lie deep, without the reach of compression, are continually
pouring their contents into the head, where the blood meets with
no resistance? The vessels of the brain are naturally lax, and
the very sutures of the skull are yet unclosed. What are the
consequences of this cruel swaddling? the limbs are wasted; the
joints grow rickety; the brain is compressed, and a
hydrocephalus, with a great head and sore eyes, ensues. I take
this abominable practice to be one great cause of the bandy legs,
diminutive bodies, and large heads, so frequent in the south of
France, and in Italy.

I was no less surprised to find the modern fashion of curling the
hair, borrowed in a great measure from the coxcombs and coquettes
of antiquity. I saw a bust of Nero in the gallery at Florence,
the hair represented in rows of buckles, like that of a French
petit-maitre, conformable to the picture drawn of him by
Suetonius. Circa cultum adeo pudendum, ut coman semper in gradus
formatam peregrinatione achaica, etiam pene verticem sumpserit,
So very finical in his dress, that he wore his hair in the Greek
fashion, curled in rows almost to the crown of his head. I was
very sorry however to find that this foppery came from Greece. As
for Otho, he wore a galericulum, or tour, on account of thin
hair, propter raritatem capillorum. He had no right to imitate
the example of Julius Caesar, who concealed his bald head with a
wreath of laurel. But there is a bust in the Capitol of Julia
Pia, the second wife of Septimius Severus, with a moveable
peruke, dressed exactly in the fashionable mode, with this
difference, that there is no part of it frizzled; nor is there
any appearance of pomatum and powder. These improvements the
beau-monde have borrowed from the natives of the Cape of Good
Hope.

Modern Rome does not cover more than one-third of the space
within the walls; and those parts that were most frequented of
old are now intirely abandoned. From the Capitol to the Coliseo,
including the Forum Romanum and Boarium, there is nothing intire
but one or two churches, built with the fragments of ancient
edifices. You descend from the Capitol between the remaining
pillars of two temples, the pedestals and part of the shafts sunk
in the rubbish: then passing through the triumphal arch of
Septimius Severus, you proceed along the foot of Mons Palatinus,
which stands on your right hand, quite covered with the ruins of
the antient palace belonging to the Roman emperors, and at the
foot of it, there are some beautiful detached pillars still
standing. On the left you see the remains of the Templum Pacis,
which seems to have been the largest and most magnificent of all
the temples in Rome. It was built and dedicated by the emperor
Vespasian, who brought into it all the treasure and precious
vessels which he found in the temple of Jerusalem. The columns of
the portico he removed from Nero's golden house, which he
levelled with the ground. This temple was likewise famous for its
library, mentioned by Aulus Gellius, Further on, is the arch of
Constantine on the right, a most noble piece of architecture,
almost entire; with the remains of the Meta Sudans before it; and
fronting you, the noble ruins of that vast amphitheatre, called
the Colossaeum, now Coliseo, which has been dismantled and
dilapidated by the Gothic popes and princes of modern Rome, to
build and adorn their paultry palaces. Behind the amphitheatre
were the thermae of the same emperor Titus Vespasian. In the same
quarter was the Circus Maximus; and the whole space from hence on
both sides, to the walls of Rome, comprehending above twice as
much ground as the modern city, is almost covered with the
monuments of antiquity. I suppose there is more concealed below
ground than appears above. The miserable houses, and even garden-walls
of the peasants in this district, are built with these
precious materials. I mean shafts and capitals of marble columns,
heads, arms, legs, and mutilated trunks of statues. What pity it
is that among all the remains of antiquity, at Rome, there is not
one lodging-house remaining. I should be glad to know how the
senators of Rome were lodged. I want to be better informed
touching the cava aedium, the focus, the ara deorum penatum, the
conclavia, triclinia, and caenationes; the atria where the women
resided, and employed themselves in the woolen manufacture; the
praetoria, which were so spacious as to become a nuisance in the
reign of Augustus; and the Xysta, which were shady walks between
two porticos, where the men exercised themselves in the winter. I
am disgusted by the modern taste of architecture, though I am no
judge of the art. The churches and palaces of these days are
crowded with pretty ornaments, which distract the eye, and by
breaking the design into a variety of little parts, destroy the
effect of the whole. Every door and window has its separate
ornaments, its moulding, frize, cornice. and tympanum; then there
is such an assemblage of useless festoons, pillars, pilasters,
with their architraves, entablatures, and I know not what, that
nothing great or uniform remains to fill the view; and we in vain
look for that simplicity of grandeur, those large masses of light
and shadow, and the inexpressible EUSUINOPTON, which characterise
the edifices of the antients. A great edifice, to have its full
effect, ought to be isole, or detached from all others, with a
large space around it: but the palaces of Rome, and indeed of all
the other cities of Italy, which I have seen, are so engaged
among other mean houses, that their beauty and magnificence are
in a great measure concealed. Even those which face open streets
and piazzas are only clear in front. The other apartments are
darkened by the vicinity of ordinary houses; and their views are
confined by dirty and disagreeable objects. Within the court
there is generally a noble colonnade all round, and an open
corridore above, but the stairs are usually narrow, steep, and
high, the want of sash-windows, the dullness of their small glass
lozenges, the dusty brick floors, and the crimson hangings laced
with gold, contribute to give a gloomy air to their apartments; I
might add to these causes, a number of Pictures executed on
melancholy subjects, antique mutilated statues, busts, basso
relieves, urns, and sepulchral stones, with which their rooms are
adorned. It must be owned, however, there are some exceptions to
this general rule. The villa of cardinal Alexander Albani
is light, gay, and airy; yet the rooms are too small, and
too much decorated with carving and gilding, which is a kind of
gingerbread work. The apartments of one of the princes Borghese
are furnished in the English taste; and in the palazzo di colonna
connestabile, there is a saloon, or gallery, which, for the
proportions, lights, furniture, and ornaments, is the most noble,
elegant, and agreeable apartment I ever saw.

It is diverting to hear all Italian expatiate upon the greatness
of modern Rome. He will tell you there are above three hundred
palaces in the city; that there is scarce a Roman prince, whose
revenue does not exceed two hundred thousand crowns; and that
Rome produces not only the most learned men, but also the most
refined politicians in the universe. To one of them talking in
this strain, I replied, that instead of three hundred palaces,
the number did not exceed fourscore; that I had been informed, on
good authority, there were not six individuals in Rome who had so
much as forty thousand crowns a year, about ten thousand pounds
sterling; and that to say their princes were so rich, and their
politicians so refined, was, in effect, a severe satire upon
them, for not employing their wealth and their talents for the
advantage of their country. I asked why their cardinals and
princes did not invite and encourage industrious people to settle
and cultivate the Campania of Rome, which is a desert? why they
did not raise a subscription to drain the marshes in the
neighbourhood of the city, and thus meliorate the air, which is
rendered extremely unwholsome in the summer, by putrid
exhalations from those morasses? I demanded of him, why they did
not contribute their wealth, and exert their political
refinements, in augmenting their forces by sea and land, for the
defence of their country, introducing commerce and manufactures,
and in giving some consequence to their state, which was no more
than a mite in the political scale of Europe? I expressed a
desire to know what became of all those sums of money, inasmuch
as there was hardly any circulation of gold and silver in Rome,
and the very bankers, on whom strangers have their credit, make
interest to pay their tradesmen's bills with paper notes of the
bank of Spirito Santo? And now I am upon this subject, it may not
be amiss to observe that I was strangely misled by all the books
consulted about the current coin of Italy. In Tuscany, and the
Ecclesiastical State, one sees nothing but zequines in gold, and
pieces of two paoli, one paolo, and half a paolo, in silver.
Besides these, there is a copper coin at Rome, called bajocco and
mezzo bajocco. Ten bajocchi make a paolo: ten paoli make a scudo,
which is an imaginary piece: two scudi make a zequine; and a
French loui'dore is worth two zequines and two paoli.

Rome has nothing to fear from the catholic powers, who respect it
with a superstitious veneration as the metropolitan seat of their
religion: but the popes will do well to avoid misunderstandings
with the maritime protestant states, especially the English, who
being masters of the Mediterranean, and in possession of Minorca,
have it in their power at all times, to land a body of troops
within four leagues of Rome, and to take the city, without
opposition. Rome is surrounded with an old wall, but altogether
incapable of defence. Or if it was, the circuit of the walls is
so extensive, that it would require a garrison of twenty thousand
men. The only appearance of a fortification in this city, is the
castle of St. Angelo, situated on the further bank of the Tyber,
to which there is access by a handsome bridge: but this castle,
which was formerly the moles Adriani, could not hold out half a
day against a battery of ten pieces of cannon properly directed.
It was an expedient left to the invention of the modern Romans,
to convert an ancient tomb into a citadel. It could only serve as
a temporary retreat for the pope in times of popular commotion,
and on other sudden emergencies; as it happened in the case of
pope Clement VII. when the troops of the emperor took the city by
assault; and this only, while he resided at the Vatican, from
whence there is a covered gallery continued to the castle: it can
never serve this purpose again, while the pontiff lives on Monte
Cavallo, which is at the other end of the city. The castle of St.
Angelo, howsoever ridiculous as a fortress, appears respectable
as a noble monument of antiquity, and though standing in a low
situation, is one of the first objects that strike the eye of a
stranger approaching Rome. On the opposite side of the river, are
the wretched remains of the Mausoleum Augusti, which was still
more magnificent. Part of the walls is standing, and the terraces
are converted into garden-ground. In viewing these ruins, I
remembered Virgil's pathetic description of Marcellus, who was
here intombed.

Quantos ille virum, magnum mavortis ad urbem.
Campus aget gemitus, vel que Tyberine, videbis
Funera, cum tumulum, preter labere recentem.

Along his Banks what Groans shall Tyber hear,
When the fresh tomb and funeral pomp appear!

The beautiful poem of Ovid de Consolatione ad Liviam, written
after the ashes of Augustus and his nephew Marcellus, of
Germanicus, Agrippa, and Drusus, were deposited in this
mausoleum, concludes with these lines, which are extremely
tender:

Claudite jam Parcae nimium reserata sepulchra;
Claudite, plus justo, jam domus ista patet!

Ah! shut these yawning Tombs, ye sister Fates!
Too long unclos'd have stood those dreary Gates!

What the author said of the monument, you will be tempted to say
of this letter, which I shall therefore close in the old stile,
assuring you that I ever am,--Yours most affectionately.

LETTER XXXI

NICE, March 5, 1765

DEAR SIR,--In my last I gave you my opinion freely of the modern
palaces of Italy. I shall now hazard my thoughts upon the gardens
of this country, which the inhabitants extol with all the
hyperboles of admiration and applause. I must acknowledge
however, I have not seen the famous villas at Frascati and
Tivoli, which are celebrated for their gardens and waterworks. I
intended to visit these places; but was prevented by an
unexpected change of weather, which deterred me from going to the
country. On the last day of September the mountains of Palestrina
were covered with snow; and the air became so cold at Rome, that
I was forced to put on my winter cloaths. This objection
continued, till I found it necessary to set out on my return to
Florence. But I have seen the gardens of the Poggio Imperiale,
and the Palazzo de Pitti at Florence, and those of the Vatican,
of the pope's palace on Monte Cavallo, of the Villa Ludovisia,
Medicea, and Pinciana, at Rome; so that I think I have some right
to judge of the Italian taste in gardening. Among those I have
mentioned, that of the Villa Pinciana, is the most remarkable,
and the most extensive, including a space of three miles in
circuit, hard by the walls of Rome, containing a variety of
situations high and low, which favour all the natural
embellishments one would expect to meet with in a garden, and
exhibit a diversity of noble views of the city and adjacent
country.

In a fine extensive garden or park, an Englishman expects to see
a number of groves and glades, intermixed with an agreeable
negligence, which seems to be the effect of nature and accident.
He looks for shady walks encrusted with gravel; for open lawns
covered with verdure as smooth as velvet, but much more lively
and agreeable; for ponds, canals, basins, cascades, and running
streams of water; for clumps of trees, woods, and wildernesses,
cut into delightful alleys, perfumed with honeysuckle and sweet-
briar, and resounding with the mingled melody of all the singing
birds of heaven: he looks for plats of flowers in different parts
to refresh the sense, and please the fancy; for arbours, grottos,
hermitages, temples, and alcoves, to shelter him from the sun,
and afford him means of contemplation and repose; and he expects
to find the hedges, groves, and walks, and lawns kept with the
utmost order and propriety. He who loves the beauties of simple
nature, and the charms of neatness will seek for them in vain
amidst the groves of Italy. In the garden of the Villa Pinciana,
there is a plantation of four hundred pines, which the Italians
view with rapture and admiration: there is likewise a long walk,
of trees extending from the garden-gate to the palace; and plenty
of shade, with alleys and hedges in different parts of the
ground: but the groves are neglected; the walks are laid with
nothing but common mould or sand, black and dusty; the hedges are
tall, thin and shabby; the trees stunted; the open ground, brown
and parched, has scarce any appearance of verdure. The flat,
regular alleys of evergreens are cut into fantastic figures; the
flower gardens embellished with thin cyphers and flourished
figures in box, while the flowers grow in rows of earthen-pots,
and the ground appears as dusky as if it was covered with the
cinders of a blacksmith's forge. The water, of which there is
great plenty, instead of being collected in large pieces, or
conveyed in little rivulets and streams to refresh the thirsty
soil, or managed so as to form agreeable cascades, is squirted
from fountains in different parts of the garden, through tubes
little bigger than common glyster-pipes. It must be owned indeed
that the fountains have their merit in the way of sculpture and
architecture; and that here is a great number of statues which
merit attention: but they serve only to encumber the ground, and
destroy that effect of rural simplicity, which our gardens are
designed to produce. In a word, here we see a variety of walks
and groves and fountains, a wood of four hundred pines, a paddock
with a few meagre deer, a flower-garden, an aviary, a grotto, and
a fish-pond; and in spite of all these particulars, it is, in my
opinion, a very contemptible garden, when compared to that of
Stowe in Buckinghamshire, or even to those of Kensington and
Richmond. The Italians understand, because they study, the
excellencies of art; but they have no idea of the beauties of
nature. This Villa Pinciana, which belongs to the Borghese
family, would make a complete academy for painting and sculpture,
especially for the study of antient marbles; for, exclusive of
the statues and busts in the garden, and the vast collection in
the different apartments, almost the whole outside of the house
is covered with curious pieces in basso and alto relievo. The
most masterly is that of Curtius on horseback, leaping into the
gulph or opening of the earth, which is said to have closed on
receiving this sacrifice. Among the exhibitions of art within the
house, I was much struck with a Bacchus, and the death of
Meleager, represented on an antient sepulchre. There is also an
admirable statue of Silenus, with the infant Bacchus in his arms;
a most beautiful gladiator; a curious Moor of black marble, with
a shirt of white alabaster; a finely proportioned bull of black
marble also, standing upon a table of alabaster; a black gipsey
with a head, hands, and feet of brass; and the famous
hermaphrodite, which vies with that of Florence: though the most
curious circumstance of this article, is the mattrass executed
and placed by Bernini, with such art and dexterity, that to the
view, it rivals the softness of wool, and seems to retain the
marks of pressure, according to the figure of the superincumbent
statue. Let us likewise own, for the honour of the moderns, that
the same artist has produced two fine statues, which we find
among the ornaments of this villa, namely, a David with his sling
in the attitude of throwing the stone at the giant Goliah; and a
Daphne changing into laurel at the approach of Apollo. On the
base of this figure, are the two following elegant lines, written
by pope Urban VIII. in his younger years.

Quisquis amans sequitur fugitivae gaudia formae,
Fronde manus implet, baccas vel carpit amaras.

Who pants for fleeting Beauty, vain pursuit!
Shall barren Leaves obtain, or bitter fruit.

I ought not to forget two exquisite antique statues of Venus, the
weeping slave, and the youth pulling a thorn out of his foot.

I do not pretend to give a methodical detail of the curiosities
of Rome: they have been already described by different authors,
who were much better qualified than I am for the talk: but you
shall have what observations I made on the most remarkable
objects, without method, just as they occur to my remembrance;
and I protest the remarks are all my own: so that if they deserve
any commendation, I claim all the merit; and if they are
impertinent, I must be contented to bear all the blame.

The piazza of St. Peter's church is altogether sublime. The
double colonnade on each side extending in a semi-circular sweep,
the stupendous Aegyptian obelisk, the two fountains, the portico,
and the admirable facade of the church, form such an assemblage
of magnificent objects, as cannot fail to impress the mind with
awe and admiration: but the church would have produced a still
greater effect, had it been detached entirely from the buildings
of the Vatican, It would then have been a master-piece of
architecture, complete in all its parts, intire and perfect:
whereas, at present, it is no more than a beautiful member
attached to a vast undigested and irregular pile of building. As
to the architecture of this famous temple, I shall say nothing;
neither do I pretend to describe the internal ornaments. The
great picture of Mosaic work, and that of St. Peter's bark tossed
by the tempest, which appear over the gate of the church, though
rude in comparison with modern pieces, are nevertheless great
curiosities, when considered as the work of Giotto, who
flourished in the beginning of the fourteenth century. His master
was Cimabue, who learned painting and architecture of the Grecian
artists, who came from Constantinople, and first revived these
arts in Italy. But, to return to St. Peter's, I was not at all
pleased with the famous statue of the dead Christ in his mother's
lap, by Michael Angelo. The figure of Christ is as much
emaciated, as if he had died of a consumption: besides, there is
something indelicate, not to say indecent, in the attitude and
design of a man's body, stark naked, lying upon the knees of a
woman. Here are some good pictures, I should rather say copies of
good pictures, done in Mosaic to great perfection; particularly a
St. Sebastian by Domenichino, and Michael the Archangel, from a,
painting of Guido Rheni. I am extremely fond of all this artist's
pieces. There is a tenderness and delicacy in his manner; and his
figures are all exquisitely beautiful, though his expression is
often erroneous, and his attitudes are always affected and
unnatural. In this very piece the archangel has all the air of a
French dancing-master; and I have seen a Madonna by the same
hand, I think it is in the Palazzo di Barberini, in which, though
the figures are enchanting, the Virgin is represented holding up
the drapery of the infant, with the ridiculous affectation of a
singer on the stage of our Italian opera. The Mosaic work, though
brought to a wonderful degree of improvement, and admirably
calculated for churches, the dampness of which is pernicious to
the colours of the pallet, I will not yet compare to the
productions of the pencil. The glassyness (if I may be allowed
the expression) of the surface, throws, in my opinion, a false
light on some parts of the picture; and when you approach it, the
joinings of the pieces look like so many cracks on painted
canvas. Besides, this method is extremely tedious and expensive.
I went to see the artists at work, in a house that stands near
the church, where I was much pleased with the ingenuity of the
process; and not a little surprized at the great number of
different colours and tints, which are kept in separate drawers,
marked with numbers as far as seventeen thousand. For a single
head done in Mosaic, they asked me fifty zequines. But to return
to the church. The altar of St. Peter's choir, notwithstanding
all the ornaments which have been lavished upon it, is no more
than a heap of puerile finery, better adapted to an Indian pagod,
than to a temple built upon the principles of the Greek
architecture. The four colossal figures that support the chair,
are both clumsy and disproportioned. The drapery of statues,
whether in brass or stone, when thrown into large masses, appears
hard and unpleasant to the eye and for that reason the antients
always imitated wet linen, which exhibiting the shape of the
limbs underneath, and hanging in a multiplicity of wet folds,
gives an air of lightness, softness, and ductility to the whole.

These two statues weigh 116,257 pounds, and as they sustain
nothing but a chair, are out of all proportion, inasmuch as the
supporters ought to be suitable to the things supported. Here are
four giants holding up the old wooden chair of the apostle Peter,
if we may believe the book De Identitate Cathedrae Romanae, Of
the Identity of the Roman Chair. The implements of popish
superstition; such as relicks of pretended saints, ill-proportioned
spires and bellfreys, and the nauseous repetition of
the figure of the cross, which is in itself a very mean and
disagreeable object, only fit for the prisons of condemned
criminals, have contributed to introduce a vitious taste into the
external architecture, as well as in the internal ornaments of
our temples. All churches are built in the figure of a cross,
which effectually prevents the eye from taking in the scope of
the building, either without side or within; consequently robs
the edifice of its proper effect. The palace of the Escurial in
Spain is laid out in the shape of a gridiron, because the convent
was built in consequence of a vow to St. Laurence, who was
broiled like a barbecued pig. What pity it is, that the labours
of painting should have been so much employed on the shocking
subjects of the martyrology. Besides numberless pictures of the
flagellation, crucifixion, and descent from the cross, we have
Judith with the head of Holofernes, Herodias with the head of
John the Baptist, Jael assassinating Sisera in his sleep, Peter
writhing on the cross, Stephen battered with stones, Sebastian
stuck full of arrows, Laurence frying upon the coals, Bartholomew
flaed alive, and a hundred other pictures equally frightful,
which can only serve to fill the mind with gloomy ideas, and
encourage a spirit of religious fanaticism, which has always been
attended with mischievous consequences to the community where it
reigned.

The tribune of the great altar, consisting of four wreathed brass
pillars, gilt, supporting a canopy, is doubtless very
magnificent, if not over-charged with sculpture, fluting,
foliage, festoons, and figures of boys and angels, which, with
the hundred and twenty-two lamps of silver, continually burning
below, serve rather to dazzle the eyes, and kindle the devotion
of the ignorant vulgar, than to excite the admiration of a
judicious observer.

There is nothing, I believe, in this famous structure, so worthy
of applause, as the admirable symmetry and proportion of its
parts. Notwithstanding all the carving, gilding, basso relievos,
medallions, urns, statues, columns, and pictures with which it
abounds, it does not, on the whole, appear over-crouded with
ornaments. When you first enter, your eye is filled so equally
and regularly, that nothing appears stupendous; and the church
seems considerably smaller than it really is. The statues of
children, that support the founts of holy water when observed
from the door, seem to be of the natural size; but as you draw
near, you perceive they are gigantic. In the same manner, the
figures of the doves, with olive branches in their beaks, which
are represented on the wall, appear to be within your reach; but
as you approach them, they recede to a considerable height, as if
they had flown upwards to avoid being taken.

I was much disappointed at sight of the Pantheon, which, after
all that has been said of it, looks like a huge cockpit, open at
top. The portico which Agrippa added to the building, is
undoubtedly very noble, though, in my opinion, it corresponds but
ill with the simplicity of the edifice. With all my veneration
for the antients, I cannot see in what the beauty of tile rotunda
consists. It is no more than a plain unpierced cylinder, or
circular wall, with two fillets and a cornice, having a vaulted
roof or cupola, open in the centre. I mean the original building,
without considering the vestibule of Agrippa. Within side it has
much the air of a mausoleum. It was this appearance which, in all
probability, suggested the thought to Boniface IV. to transport
hither eight and twenty cart-loads of old rotten bones, dug from
different burying-places, and then dedicate it as a church to the
blessed Virgin and all the holy martyrs. I am not one of those
who think it is well lighted by the hole at the top, which is
about nine and twenty feet in diameter, although the author of
the Grand Tour calls it but nine. The same author says, there is
a descent of eleven steps to go into it; that it is a hundred and
forty-four feet in heighth, and as many in breadth; that it was
covered with copper, which, with the brass nails of the portico,
pope Urban VIII. took away, and converted into the four wreathed
pillars that support the canopy of the high altar in the church
of St. Peter, &c. The truth is, before the time of pope Alexander
VII. the earth was so raised as to cover part of the temple, and
there was a descent of some steps into the porch: but that
pontiff ordered the ground to be pared away to the very pedestal
or base of the portico, which is now even with the street, so
that there is no descent whatsoever. The height is two hundred
palmi, and the breadth two hundred and eighteen; which, reckoning
fife palmi at nine inches, will bring the height to one hundred
and fifty, and the breadth to one hundred and sixty-three feet
six inches. It was not any covering of copper which pope Urban
VIII. removed, but large brass beams, which supported the roof of
the portico. They weighed 186,392 pounds; and afforded metal
enough not only for the pillars in St. Peter's church, but also
for several pieces of artillery that are now in the castle of St.
Angelo. What is more extraordinary, the gilding of those columns
is said to have cost forty thousand golden crowns: sure money was
never worse laid out. Urban VIII. likewise added two bellfrey
towers to the rotunda; and I wonder he did not cover the central
hole with glass, as it must be very inconvenient and disagreeable
to those who go to church below, to be exposed to the rain in wet
weather, which must also render it very damp and unwholesome. I
visited it several times, and each time it looked more and more
gloomy and sepulchral.

The magnificence of the Romans was not so conspicuous in their
temples, as in their theatres, amphitheatres, circusses,
naumachia, aqueducts, triumphal arches, porticoes, basilicae, but
especially their thermae, or bathing-places. A great number of
their temples were small and inconsiderable; not one of them was
comparable either for size or magnificence, to the modern church
of St. Peter of the Vatican. The famous temple of Jupiter
Capitolinus was neither half so long, nor half so broad: it was
but two hundred feet in length, and one hundred and eighty-five
in breadth; whereas the length of St. Peter's extends to six
hundred and thirty-eight feet, and the breadth to above five
hundred. It is very near twice as large as the temple of Jupiter
Olympius in Greece, which was counted one of the seven wonders of
the world. But I shall take another opportunity to explain myself
further on the antiquities of this city; a subject, upon which I
am disposed to be (perhaps impertinently) circumstantial. When I
begin to run riot, you should cheek me with the freedom of a
friend. The most distant hint will be sufficient to,--Dear Sir,
Yours assuredly.

LETTER XXXII

NICE, March 10, 1765.

DEAR SIR,--The Colossaeum or amphitheatre built by Flavius
Vespasian, is the most stupendous work of the kind which
antiquity can produce. Near one half of the external circuit
still remains, consisting of four tire of arcades, adorned with
columns of four orders, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite.
The height and extent of it may be guessed from the number of
spectators it contained, amounting to one hundred thousand; and
yet, according to Fontana's mensuration, it could not contain
above thirty-four thousand persons sitting, allowing a foot and
an half for each person: for the circuit of the whole building
did not exceed one thousand five hundred and sixty feet. The
amphitheatre at Verona is one thousand two hundred and ninety
feet in circumference; and that of Nismes, one thousand and
eighty. The Colossaeum was built by Vespasian, who employed
thirty thousand Jewish slaves in the work; but finished and
dedicated by his son Titus, who, on the first day of its being
opened, produced fifty thousand wild beasts, which were all
killed in the arena. The Romans were undoubtedly a barbarous
people, who delighted in horrible spectacles. They viewed with
pleasure the dead bodies of criminals dragged through the
streets, or thrown down the Scalae Gemoniae and Tarpeian rock,
for their contemplation. Their rostra were generally adorned with
the heads of some remarkable citizens, like Temple-Bar, at
London. They even bore the sight of Tully's head fixed upon that
very rostrum where he had so often ravished their ears with all
the charms of eloquence, in pleading the cause of innocence and
public virtue. They took delight in seeing their fellow-creatures
torn in pieces by wild beasts, in the amphitheatre.
They shouted with applause when they saw a poor dwarf or slave
killed by his adversary; but their transports were altogether
extravagant, when the devoted captives were obliged to fight in
troops, till one side was entirely butchered by the other. Nero
produced four hundred senators, and six hundred of the equestrian
order, as gladiators in the public arena: even the women fought
with wild beasts, as well as with each other, and drenched the
amphitheatres with their blood. Tacitus says, "Sed faeminarum
illustrium, senatorumque filiorum plures per arenam faedati
sunt," "But many sons of Senators, and even Matrons of the first
Rank, exposed themselves in this vile exercise." The execrable
custom of sacrificing captives or slaves at the tombs of their
masters and great men, which is still preserved among the negroes
of Africa, obtained also among the antients, Greeks as well as
Romans. I could never, without horror and indignation, read that
passage in the twenty-third book of the Iliad, which describes
twelve valiant Trojan captives sacrificed by the inhuman Achilles
at the tomb of his friend Patroclus.

Dodeka men Troon megathumon uias eathlous
Tous ama pantas pur eathiei.

Twelve generous Trojans slaughtered in their Bloom,
With thy lov'd Corse the Fire shall now consume.

Even Virgil makes his pious Hero sacrifice eight Italian youths
to the manes of Pallas. It is not at all clear to me, that a
people is the more brave, the more they are accustomed to
bloodshed in their public entertainments. True bravery is not
savage but humane. Some of this sanguinary spirit is inherited by
the inhabitants of a certain island that shall be nameless--but,
mum for that. You will naturally suppose that the Coliseo was
ruined by the barbarians who sacked the city of Rome: in effect,
they robbed it of its ornaments and valuable materials; but it
was reserved for the Goths and Vandals of modern Rome, to
dismantle the edifice, and reduce it to its present ruinous
condition. One part of it was demolished by pope Paul II. that he
might employ the stones of it in building the palace of St. Mark.
It was afterwards dilapidated for the same purposes, by the
cardinals Riarius and Farnese, which last assumed the tiara under
the name of Paul III. Notwithstanding these injuries, there is
enough standing to convey a very sublime idea of ancient
magnificence.

The Circi and Naumachia, if considered as buildings and
artificial basins, are admirable; but if examined as areae
intended for horse and chariot races, and artificial seas for
exhibiting naval engagements, they seem to prove that the antient
Romans were but indifferently skilled and exercised either in
horsemanship or naval armaments. The inclosure of the emperor
Caracalla's circus is still standing, and scarce affords
breathing room for an English hunter. The Circus Maximus, by far
the largest in Rome, was not so long as the Mall; and I will
venture to affirm, that St. James's Park would make a much more
ample and convenient scene for those diversions. I imagine an old
Roman would be very much surprised to see an English race on the
course at New-Market. The Circus Maximus was but three hundred
yards in breadth. A good part of this was taken up by the spina,
or middle space, adorned with temples, statues, and two great
obelisks; as well as by the euripus, or canal, made by order of
Julius Caesar, to contain crocodiles, and other aquatic animals,
which were killed occasionally. This was so large, that
Heliogabalus, having filled it with excellent wine, exhibited
naval engagements in it, for the amusement of the people. It
surrounded three sides of the square, so that the whole extent of
the race did not much exceed an English mile; and when Probus was
at the expence of filling the plain of it with fir-trees to form
a wood for the chace of wild beasts, I question much if this
forest was more extensive than the plantation in St. James's
Park, on the south side of the canal: now I leave you to judge
what ridicule a king of England would incur by converting this
part of the park into a chace for any species of animals which
are counted game in our country.

The Roman emperors seemed more disposed to elevate and surprize,
than to conduct the public diversions according to the rules of
reason and propriety. One would imagine, it was with this view
they instituted their naumachia, or naval engagements, performed
by half a dozen small gallies of a side in an artificial basin of
fresh water. These gallies I suppose were not so large as common
fishing-smacks, for they were moved by two, three, and four oars
of a side according to their different rates, biremes, triremes,
and quadriremes. I know this is a knotty point not yet
determined; and that some antiquarians believe the Roman gallies
had different tires or decks of oars; but this is a notion very
ill supported, and quite contrary to all the figures of them that
are preserved on antient coins and medals. Suetonius in the reign
of Domitian, speaking of these naumachia, says, "Edidit navales
pugnas, pene justarum classium, effosso, et circumducto juxta
Tyberim lacu, atque inter maximas imbres prospectavit," "He
exhibited naval engagements of almost intire fleets, in an
artificial Lake formed for the purpose hard by the Tyber, and
viewed them in the midst of excessive Rains." This artificial
lake was not larger than the piece of water in Hyde-Park; and yet
the historian says, it was almost large enough for real or intire
fleets. How would a British sailor relish an advertisement that a
mock engagement between two squadrons of men of war would be
exhibited on such a day in the Serpentine river? or that the
ships of the line taken from the enemy would be carried in
procession from Hyde-Park-Corner to Tower-wharf? Certain it is,
Lucullus, in one of his triumphs, had one hundred and ten ships
of war (naves longas) carried through the streets of Rome.
Nothing can give a more contemptible idea of their naval power,
than this testimony of their historians, who declare that their
seamen or mariners were formed by exercising small row-boats in
an inclosed pool of fresh water. Had they not the sea within a
few miles of them, and the river Tyber running through their
capital! even this would have been much more proper for
exercising their watermen, than a pond of still-water, not much
larger than a cold-bath. I do believe in my conscience that half
a dozen English frigates would have been able to defeat both the
contending fleets at the famous battle of Actium, which has been
so much celebrated in the annals of antiquity, as an event that
decided the fate of empire.

It would employ me a whole month to describe the thermae or
baths, the vast ruins of which are still to be seen within the
walls of Rome, like the remains of so many separate citadels. The
thermae Dioclesianae might be termed an august academy for the
use and instruction of the Roman people. The pinacotheca of this
building was a complete musaeum of all the curiosities of art and
nature; and there were public schools for all the sciences. If I
may judge by my eye, however, the thermae Antonianae built by
Caracalla, were still more extensive and magnificent; they
contained cells sufficient for two thousand three hundred persons
to bathe at one time, without being seen by one another. They
were adorned with all the charms of painting, architecture, and
sculpture. The pipes for convoying the water were of silver. Many
of the lavacra were of precious marble, illuminated by lamps of
chrystal. Among the statues, were found the famous Toro, and
Hercole Farnese.

Bathing was certainly necessary to health and cleanliness in a
hot country like Italy, especially before the use of linen was
known: but these purposes would have been much better answered by
plunging into the Tyber, than by using the warm bath in the
thermae, which became altogether a point of luxury borrowed from
the effeminate Asiatics, and tended to debilitate the fibres
already too much relaxed by the heat of the climate. True it is,
they had baths of cool water for the summer: but in general they
used it milk-warm, and often perfumed: they likewise indulged in
vapour-baths, in order to enjoy a pleasing relaxation, which they
likewise improved with odoriferous ointments.

The thermae consisted of a great variety of parts and
conveniences; the natationes, or swimming places; the portici,
where people amused themselves in walking, conversing, and
disputing together, as Cicero says, In porticibus deambulantes
disputabant; the basilicae, where the bathers assembled, before
they entered, and after they came out of the bath; the atria, or
ample courts, adorned with noble colonnades of Numidian marble
and oriental granite; the ephibia, where the young men inured
themselves to wrestling and other exercises; the frigidaria, or
places kept cool by a constant draught of air, promoted by the
disposition and number of the windows; the calidaria, where the
water was warmed for the baths; the platanones, or delightful
groves of sycamore; the stadia, for the performances of the
athletae; the exedrae, or resting-places, provided with seats for
those that were weary; the palestrae, where every one chose that
exercise which pleased him best; the gymnasia, where poets,
orators, and philosophers recited their works, and harangued for
diversion; the eleotesia, where the fragrant oils and ointments
were kept for the use of the bathers; and the conisteria, where
the wrestlers were smeared with sand before they engaged. Of the
thermae in Rome, some were mercenary, and some opened gratis.
Marcus Agrippa, when he was edile, opened one hundred and seventy
private baths, for the use of the people. In the public baths,
where money was taken, each person paid a quadrans, about the
value of our halfpenny, as Juvenal observes,

Caedere Sylvano porcum, quadrante lavari.

The victim Pig to God Sylvanus slay,
And for the public Bath a farthing pay.

But after the hour of bathing was past, it sometimes cost a great
deal more, according to Martial,

Balnea post decimam, lasso centumque petuntur
Quadrantes--

The bathing hour is past, the waiter tir'd;
An hundred Farthings now will be requir'd.

Though there was no distinction in the places between the first
patrician and the lowest plebeian, yet the nobility used their
own silver and gold plate, for washing, eating, and drinking in
the bath, together with towels of the finest linen. They likewise
made use of the instrument called strigil, which was a kind of
flesh-brush; a custom to which Persius alludes in this line,

I puer, et strigiles Crispini ad balnea defer.

Here, Boy, this Brush to Crispin's Bagnio bear.

The common people contented themselves with sponges. The bathing
time was from noon till the evening, when the Romans ate their
principal meal. Notice was given by a bell, or some such
instrument, when the baths were opened, as we learn from Juvenal,

Redde Pilam, sonat Aes thermarum, ludere pergis?
Virgine vis sola lotus abdire domum.

Leave off; the Bath Bell rings--what, still play on?
Perhaps the maid in private rubs you down.

There were separate places for the two sexes; and indeed there
were baths opened for the use of women only, at the expence of
Agrippina, the mother of Nero, and some other matrons of the
first quality. The use of bathing was become so habitual to the
constitutions of the Romans, that Galen, in his book De Sanitate
tuenda, mentions a certain philosopher, who, if he intermitted
but one day in his bathing, was certainly attacked with a fever.
In order to preserve decorum in the baths, a set of laws and
regulations were published, and the thermae were put under the
inspection of a censor, who was generally one of the first
senators in Rome. Agrippa left his gardens and baths, which stood
near the pantheon, to the Roman people: among the statues that
adorned them was that of a youth naked, as going into the bath,
so elegantly formed by the hand of Lysippus, that Tiberius, being
struck with the beauty of it, ordered it to be transferred into
his own palace: but the populace raised such a clamour against
him, that he was fain to have it reconveyed to its former place.
These noble baths were restored by Adrian, as we read in
Spartian; but at present no part of them remains.

With respect to the present state of the old aqueducts, I can
give you very little satisfaction. I only saw the ruins of that
which conveyed the aqua Claudia, near the Porta Maggiore, and the
Piazza of the Lateran. You know there were fourteen of those
antient aqueducts, some of which brought water to Rome from the
distance of forty miles. The channels of them were large enough
to admit a man armed on horseback; and therefore when Rome was
besieged by the Goths, who had cut off the water, Belisarius
fortified them with works to prevent the enemy from entering the
city by those conveyances. After that period, I suppose the
antient aqueducts continued dry, and were suffered to run to
ruins. Without all doubt, the Romans were greatly obliged to
those benefactors, who raised such stupendous works for the
benefit, as well as the embellishment of their city: but it might
have been supplied with the same water through pipes at one
hundredth part of the expence; and in that case the enemy would
not have found it such an easy matter to cut it off. Those popes
who have provided the modern city so plentifully with excellent
water, are much to be commended for the care and expence, they
have bestowed in restoring the streams called acqua Virgine,
acqua Felice, and acqua Paolina, which afford such abundance of
water as would plentifully supply a much larger city than modern
Rome.

It is no wonder that M. Agrippa, the son-in-law, friend, and
favourite of Augustus, should at the same time have been the idol
of the people, considering how surprisingly he exerted himself
for the emolument, convenience, and pleasure of his fellow-citizens.
It was he who first conducted this acqua Virgine to
Rome: he formed seven hundred reservoirs in the city; erected one
hundred and five fountains; one hundred and thirty castella, or
conduits, which works he
adorned with three hundred statues, and four hundred pillars of
marble, in the space of one year. He also brought into Rome, the
aqua Julia, and restored the aqueduct of the aqua Marzia, which
had fallen to decay. I have already observed the great number of
baths which he opened for the people, and the magnificent
thermae, with spacious gardens, which he bequeathed to them as a
legacy. But these benefactions, great and munificent as they seem
to be, were not the most important services he performed for the
city of Rome. The common-sewers were first made by order of
Tarquinius Priscus, not so much with a view to cleanliness, as by
way of subterranean drains to the Velabrum, and in order to carry
off the stagnant water, which remained in the lower parts, after
heavy rains. The different branches of these channels united at
the Forum, from whence by the cloaca Maxima, their contents were
conveyed into the Tyber. This great cloaca was the work of
Tarquinius Superbus. Other sewers were added by Marcus Cato, and
Valerius Flaccus, the censors. All these drains having been
choaked up and ruinous, were cleared and restored by Marcus
Agrippa, who likewise undermined the whole city with canals of
the same kind, for carrying of the filth; he strengthened and
enlarged the cloaca maxima, so as to make it capable of receiving
a large cart loaded with hay; and directed seven streams of water
into these subterranean passages, in order to keep them always
clean and open. If, notwithstanding all these conveniences,
Vespasian was put to great expence in removing the ordure from
the public streets, we have certainly a right to conclude that
the antient Romans were not more cleanly than the modern
Italians.

After the mausolea of Augustus, and Adrian, which I have already
mentioned, the most remarkable antient sepulchres at Rome, are
those of Caius Cestius, and Cecilia Metella. The first, which
stands by the Porta di S. Paolo, is a beautiful pyramid, one
hundred and twenty feet high, still preserved intire, having a
vaulted chamber within-side, adorned with some ancient painting,
which is now almost effaced. The building is of brick, but eased
with marble. This Caius Cestius had been consul, was very rich,
and acted as one of the seven Epulones, who superintended the
feasts of the gods, called Lectisternia, and Pervigilia. He
bequeathed his whole fortune to his friend M. Agrippa, who was so
generous as to give it up to the relations of the testator. The
monument of Cecilia Metella, commonly called Capo di Bove, is
without the walls on the Via Appia. This lady was daughter of
Metellus Creticus, and wife to Crassus, who erected this noble
monument to her memory. It consisted of two orders, or stories,
the first of which was a square of hewn stone: the second was a
circular tower, having a cornice, adorned with ox heads in basso
relievo, a circumstance from which it takes the name of Capo di
Bove. The ox was supposed to be a most grateful sacrifice to the
gods. Pliny, speaking of bulls and oxen, says,

Hinc victimae optimae et laudatissima deorum placatio.

They were accounted the best Victims and most agreeable to
appease the anger of the Gods.

This tower was surmounted by a noble cupola or dome, enriched
with all the ornaments of architecture. The door of the building
was of brass; and within-side the ashes of Cecilia were deposited
in a fluted marble urn, of curious workmanship, which is still
kept in the Palazzo Farnese. At present the surface of the ground
is raised so much as to cover the first order of the edifice:
what we see is no more than the round tower, without the dome and
its ornaments; and the following inscription still remains near
the top, facing the Via Appia.

CAECILLAE
Q. CRETICI F.
METELLAE
CRASSI.

To Caecilia Metella, Daughter of Q. Criticus: wife of Crassus.

Now we are talking of sepulchral inscriptions, I shall conclude
this letter with the copy of a very singular will, made by
Favonius Jocundus, who died in Portugal, by which will the
precise situation of the famous temple of Sylvanus is
ascertained.

"Jocundi.
Ego gallus Favonius Jocundus P. Favoni F. qui bello contra
Viriatum Succubui, Jocundum et Prudentem filios, e me et Quintia
Fabia conjuge mea ortos, et Bonorum Jocundi Patris mei, et eorum,
quae mihi ipsi acquisivi haeredes relinquo; hac tamen conditione,
ut ab urbe Romana huc veniant, et ossa hic mea, intra
quinquennium exportent, et via latina condant in sepulchro, jussu
meo condito, et mea voluntate; in quo velim neminem mecum, neque
servum, neque libertum inseri; et velim ossa quorumcunque
sepulchro statim meo eruantur, et jura Romanorum serventur, in
sepulchris ritu majorum retinendis, juxta volantatem testatoris;
et si secus fecerint, nisi legittimae oriantur causae, velim ea
omnia, quae filijs meis relinquo, pro reparando templo dei
Sylvani, quod sub viminali monte est, attribui; manesque mei a
Pont. max; a flaminibus dialibus, qui in capitolio sunt, opem
implorent, ad liberorum meorum impietatem ulciscendam;
teneanturque sacerdotes dei Silvani, me in urbem referre, et
sepulchro me meo condere. Volo quoque vernas qui domi meae sunt,
omnes a praetore urbano liberos, cum matribus dimitti,
singulisque libram argenti puri, et vestem unam dori. In
Lusitania. In agro VIII. Cal Quintilis, bello viriatino."

I, Gallus Favonius Jocundus, son of P. Favonius, dying in the war
against Viriatus, declare my sons Jocundus and Prudens, by my
wife Quintia Fabia, joint Heirs of my Estate, real and personal;
on condition, however, that they come hither within a time of
five years from this my last will, and transport my remains to
Rome to be deposited in my Sepulchre built in the via latina by
my own order and Direction: and it is my will that neither slave
nor freedman shall be interred with me in the said tomb; that if
any such there be, they shall be removed, and the Roman law
obeyed, in preserving in the antient Form the sepulchre according
to the will of the Testator. If they act otherwise without just
cause, it is my will that the whole estate, which I now bequeathe
to my children, shall be applied to the Reparation of the Temple
of the God Sylvanus, at the foot of Mount Viminalis; and that my
Manes [The Manes were an order of Gods supposed to take
cognisance of such injuries.] I shall implore the assistance of
the Pontifex maximus, and the Flaminisdiales in the Capitol, to
avenge the Impiety of my children; and the priests of Sylvanus
shall engage to bring my remains to Rome and see them decently
deposited in my own Sepulchre. It is also my will that all my
domestic slaves shall be declared free by the city Praetor, and
dismissed with their mothers, after having received each, a suit
of cloaths, and a pound weight of pure silver from my heirs and
Executors.--At my farm in Lusitania, July 25. During the Viriatin
war.

My paper scarce affords room to assure you that I am ever,--Dear
Sir, Your faithful, etc.

LETTER XXXIII

NICE, March 30, 1765.

DEAR SIR,--YOU must not imagine I saw one half of the valuable
pictures and statues of Rome; there is such a vast number of both
in this capital, that I might have spent a whole year in taking
even a transient view of them; and, after all, some of them would
have been overlooked. The most celebrated pieces, however, I have
seen; and therefore my curiosity is satisfied. Perhaps, if I had
the nice discernment and delicate sensibility of a true
connoisseur, this superficial glimpse would have served only to
whet my appetite, and to detain me the whole winter at Rome. In
my progress through the Vatican, I was much pleased with the
School of Athens, by Raphael, a piece which hath suffered from
the dampness of the air. The four boys attending to the
demonstration of the mathematician are admirably varied in the
expression. Mr. Webb's criticism on this artist is certainly
just. He was perhaps the best ethic painter that ever the world
produced. No man ever expressed the sentiments so happily, in
visage, attitude, and gesture: but he seems to have had too much
phlegm to strike off the grand passions, or reach the sublime
parts of painting. He has the serenity of Virgil, but wants the
fire of Homer. There is nothing in his Parnassus which struck me,
but the ludicrous impropriety of Apollo's playing upon a fiddle,
for the entertainment of the nine muses. [Upon better information
I must retract this censure; in as much, as I find there was
really a Musical Instrument among the antients of this Figure, as
appears by a small statue in Bronze, to be still seen in the
Florentine Collection.]

The Last Judgment, by Buonaroti, in the chapel of Sixtus IV.
produced to my eye the same sort of confusion, that perplexes my
ear at a grand concert, consisting of a great variety of
instruments: or rather, when a number of people are talking all
at once. I was pleased with the strength of expression, exhibited
in single figures, and separate groupes: but, the whole together
is a mere mob, without subordination, keeping, or repose. A
painter ought to avoid all subjects that require a multiplicity
of groupes and figures; because it is not in the power of that
art to unite a great number in one point of view, so as to
maintain that dependence which they ought to have upon one
another. Michael Angelo, with all his skill in anatomy, his
correctness of design, his grand composition, his fire, and force
of expression, seems to have had very little idea of grace. One
would imagine he had chosen his kings, heroes, cardinals, and
prelates, from among the facchini of Rome: that he really drew
his Jesus on the Cross, from the agonies of some vulgar assassin
expiring on the wheel; and that the originals of his Bambini,
with their mothers, were literally found in a stable. In the Sala
Regia, from whence the Sistian chapel is detached, we see, among
other exploits of catholic heroes, a representation of the
massacre of the protestants in Paris, Tholouse, and other parts
of France, on the eve of St. Bartholomew, thus described in the
Descrizione di Roma, "Nella prima pittura, esprime Georgio Vasari
l'istoria del Coligni, grand' amiraglio, di Francia, che come
capo de ribelli, e degl'ugonotti, fu ucciso; e nell'altra vicina,
la strage fatta in Parigi, e nel regno, de rebelli, e
degl'Ugonotti." "In the first picture, George Vasari represents
the history of Coligni, high admiral of France, who was slain as
head of the rebels and huegonots; and in another near it, the
slaughter that was made of the rebels and huegonots in Paris and
other parts of the kingdom." Thus the court of Rome hath employed
their artists to celebrate and perpetuate, as a meritorious
action, the most perfidious, cruel, and infamous massacre, that
ever disgraced the annals of any nation.

I need not mention the two equestrian statues of Constantine the
Great, and Charlemagne, which stand at opposite ends of the great
portico of St. Peter's church; because there is nothing in them
which particularly engaged my attention. The sleeping Cleopatra,
as you enter the court of the Belvedere, in the Vatican, is much
admired; but I was better pleased with the Apollo, which I take
to be the most beautiful statue that ever was formed. The Nile,
which lies in the open court, surmounted with the little
children, has infinite merit; but is much damaged, and altogether
neglected. Whether it is the same described in Pliny, as having
been placed by Vespasian in the Temple of Peace, I do not know.
The sixteen children playing about it, denoted the swelling of
the Nile, which never rose above sixteen cubits. As for the
famous groupe of Laocoon, it surpassed my expectation. It was not
without reason that Buonaroti called it a portentous work; and
Pliny has done it no more than justice in saying it is the most
excellent piece that ever was cut in marble; and yet the famous
Fulvius Ursini is of opinion that this is not the same statue
which Pliny described. His reasons, mentioned by Montfaucon, are
these. The statues described by Pliny were of one stone; but
these are not. Antonioli, the antiquary, has in his Possession,
pieces of Laocoon's snakes, which were found in the ground, where
the baths of Titus actually stood, agreeable to Pliny, who says
these statues were placed in the buildings of Titus. Be that as
it may, the work which we now see does honour to antiquity. As
you have seen innumerable copies and casts of it, in marble,
plaister, copper, lead, drawings, and prints, and read the
description of it in Keysler, and twenty other books of travels,
I shall say nothing more on the subject; but that neither they
nor I, nor any other person, could say too much in its praise. It
is not of one piece indeed. In that particular Pliny himself
might be mistaken. "Opus omnibus et picturae, et statuariae artis
praeponendum. Ex uno lapide eum et Liberos draconumque mirabiles
nexus de consilii sententia fecere succubi artifices." "A work
preferable to all the other Efforts of Painting and Statuary. The
most excellent artists joined their Talents in making the Father
and his Sons, together with the admirable Twinings of the
Serpents, of one Block." Buonaroti discovered the joinings,
though they were so artfully concealed as to be before invisible.
This amazing groupe is the work of three Rhodian sculptors,
called Agesander, Polydore, and Athenodorus, and was found in the
thermae of Titus Vespasian, still supposing it to be the true
antique. As for the torso, or mutilated trunk of a statue, which
is called the school of Michael Angelo, I had not time to
consider it attentively; nor taste enough to perceive its
beauties at first sight. The famous horses on Monte Cavallo,
before the pope's palace, which are said to have been made in
emulation, by Phidias and Praxiteles, I have seen, and likewise
those in the front of the Capitol, with the statues of Castor and
Pollux; but what pleased me infinitely more than all of them
together, is the equestrian statue of Corinthian brass, standing
in the middle of this Piazza (I mean at the Capitol) said to
represent the emperor Marcus Aurelius. Others suppose it was
intended for Lucius Verus; a third set of antiquaries contend for
Lucius Septimius Severus; and a fourth, for Constantine, because
it stood in the Piazza of the Lateran palace, built by that
emperor, from whence pope Paul III. caused it to be removed to
the Capitol. I considered the trophy of Marius as a very curious
piece of sculpture, and admired the two sphinxes at the bottom of
the stairs leading to this Piazza, as the only good specimens of
design I have ever seen from Aegypt: for the two idols of that
country, which stand in the ground floor of the Musaeum of the
Capitol, and indeed all the Aegyptian statues in the Camera
Aegyptiaca of this very building, are such monstrous
misrepresentations of nature, that they never could have obtained
a place among the statues of Rome, except as curiosities of
foreign superstition, or on account of the materials, as they are
generally of basaltes, porphyry, or oriental granite.

At the farther end of the court of this Musaeum, fronting the
entrance, is a handsome fountain, with the statue of a river-god
reclining on his urn; this is no other than the famous Marforio,
so called from its having been found in Martis Fore. It is
remarkable only as being the conveyance of the answers to the
satires which are found pasted upon Pasquin, another mutilated
statue, standing at the corner of a street.

The marble coffin, supposed to have contained the ashes of
Alexander Severus, which we find in one of these apartments, is a
curious antique, valuable for its sculpture in basso relievo,
especially for the figures on the cover, representilig that
emperor and his mother Julia Mammea.

I was sorry I had not time to consider the antient plan of Rome,
disposed in six classes, on the stair-case of this Musaeum, which
was brought hither from a temple that stood in the Forum Boarium,
now called Campo vaccine.

It would be ridiculous in me to enter into a detail of the vast
collection of marbles, basso relievos, inscriptions, urns, busts,
and statues, which are placed in the upper apartments of this
edifice. I saw them but once, and then I was struck with the
following particulars. A bacchanalian drunk; a Jupiter and Leda,
at least equal to that in the gallery at Florence; an old
praesica, or hired mourner, very much resembling those wrinkled
hags still employed in Ireland, and in the Highlands of Scotland,
to sing the coronach at funerals, in praise of the deceased; the
famous Antinous, an elegant figure, which Pousin studied as canon
or rule of symmetry; the two fauns; and above all the mirmillone,
or dying gladiator; the attitude of the body, the expression of
the countenance, the elegance of the limbs, and the swelling of
the muscles, in this statue, are universally admired; but the
execution of the back is incredibly delicate. The course of the
muscles called longissimi dorsi, are so naturally marked and
tenderly executed, that the marble actually emulates the softness
of the flesh; and you may count all the spines of the vertebrae,
raising up the skin as in the living body; yet this statue, with
all its merit, seems inferior to the celebrated dying gladiator
of Ctesilas, as described by Pliny, who says the expression of it
was such, as appears altogether incredible. In the court, on the
opposite side of the Capitol, there is an admirable statue of a
lion devouring an horse, which was found by the gate of Ostia,
near the pyramid of Caius Cestius; and here on the left hand,
under a colonade, is what they call the Columna Rostrata, erected
in honour of Caius Duilius, who first triumphed over the
Carthaginians by sea. But this is a modern pillar, with the old
inscription, which is so defaced as not to be legible. Among the
pictures in the gallery and saloon above, what pleased me most
was the Bacchus and Ariadne of Guido Rheni; and the wolf suckling
Romulus and Remus, by Rubens. The court of the Palazzo Farnese is
surrounded with antique statues, among which the most celebrated
are, the Flora, with a most delicate drapery; the gladiator, with
a dead boy over his shoulder; the Hercules, with the spoils of
the Nemean lion, but that which the connoisseurs justly esteem
above all the rest is Hercules, by Glycon, which you know as well
as I do, by the great reputation it has acquired. This admirable
statue having been found without the legs, these were supplied by
Gulielmo de la Porta so happily, that when afterwards the
original limbs were discovered, Michael Angelo preferred those of
the modern artist, both in grace and proportion; and they have
been retained accordingly. In a little house, or shed, behind the
court, is preserved the wonderful group of Dirce, commonly called
the Toro Farnese, which was brought hither from the thermae
Caracallae. There is such spirit, ferocity, and indignant
resistance expressed in the bull, to whose horns Dirce is tied by
the hair, that I have never seen anything like it, either upon
canvass, or in stone. The statues of the two brothers
endeavouring to throw him into the sea are beautiful figures,
finely contrasted; and the rope, which one of them holds in a
sort of loose coil, is so surprisingly chizzelled, that one can
hardly believe it is of stone. As for Dirce herself, she seems to
be but a subaltern character; there is a dog upon his hind legs
barking at the bull, which is much admired. This amazing groupe
was cut out of one stone, by Appollonius and Tauriscus, two
sculptors of Rhodes; and is mentioned by Pliny in the thirty-
sixth book of his Natural History. All the precious monuments of
art, which have come down to us from antiquity, are the
productions of Greek artists. The Romans had taste enough to
admire the arts of Greece, as plainly appears by the great
collections they made of their statues and pictures, as well as
by adopting their architecture and musick: but I do not remember
to have read of any Roman who made a great figure either as a
painter or a statuary. It is not enough to say those professions
were not honourable in Rome, because painting, sculpture, and
musick, even rhetoric, physic, and philosophy were practised and
taught by slaves. The arts were always honoured and revered at
Rome, even when the professors of them happened to be slaves by
the accidents and iniquity of fortune. The business of painting
and statuary was so profitable, that in a free republic, like
that of Rome, they must have been greedily embraced by a great
number of individuals: but, in all probability, the Roman soil
produced no extraordinary genius for those arts. Like the English
of this day, they made a figure in poetry, history, and ethics;
but the excellence of painting, sculpture, architecture, and
music, they never could attain. In the Palazzo Picchini I saw
three beautiful figures, the celebrated statues of Meleager, the
boar, and dog; together with a wolf, of excellent workmanship.
The celebrated statue of Moses, by Michael Angelo, in the church
of St. Peter in Vincula, I beheld with pleasure; as well as that
of Christ, by the same hand, in the Church of S. Maria sopra
Minerva. The right foot, covered with bronze, gilt, is much
kissed by the devotees. I suppose it is looked upon as a specific
for the toothache; for, I saw a cavalier, in years, and an old
woman successively rub their gums upon it, with the appearance of
the most painful perseverance.

You need not doubt but that I went to the church of St. Peter in
Montorio, to view the celebrated Transfiguration, by Raphael,
which, if it was mine, I would cut in two parts. The three
figures in the air attract the eye so strongly, that little or no
attention is payed to those below on the mountain. I apprehend
that the nature of the subject does not admit of that keeping and
dependence, which ought to be maintained in the disposition of
the lights and shadows in a picture. The groupes seem to be
intirely independent of each other. The extraordinary merit of
this piece, I imagine, consists, not only in the expression of

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