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same breadth and height I have already mentioned: a coach and six might easily drive up it. It was anciently lighted by spiragli—vent-holes
-at the top. It continues to wind upwards, making the internal circle of the building, until it is arrested by a modern staircase, which in its course from the bottom to the top of the fort, fell in with the ancient passage, and pierced through it. The passage thus broken in upon was walled up on each side of the staircase. Beyond this staircase the ancient passage has not been explored, on account, as is pretended, of the buildings erected over it. The same staircase pierces also through the room in which the newly-discovered passage terminates.
In this room, which is large and lofty, and which was, as is still evident, richly ornamented, the sarcophagi of the Imperial family are said to have been placed. In it was found a porphyry urn, which Innocent II. transported to S. J. Lateran, to adorn his own tomb. Those parts of this room-which is, it seems, in the very center of the tower--that are not occupied by the staircase that traverses it, are now used as military dungeons; the actual floors of which are five feet higher than the ancient pavement.
The present appearance of the Castle S. Angelo is truly barbarous. A fort of itself is a fine object: but this mixture of the fort and the tomb is most incongruous. The corps de garde at the foot of what remains of the tomb the modern quarters of the soldiers erected upon itand the Archangel surmounting the whole fabric, which is encompassed by modern fortifications present a picture of the different stages through which Rome has passed, from the time when it was able to erect such a monument, until the present day, when he who has possession of it sways the surrounding city and state. Adieu.
Rome, 7th January, 1824.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
You have probably heard of the midnight mass, which, in Catholic countries, is usually celebrated on the night of Christmas-Day. This custom I had often heard blamed, as giving rise to much confusion and scandal in the churches. Wishing to ascertain whether this report were true or not, I attended on the 25th at the midnight mass performed in the church of S. Luigi de Francesi. It was full of people of all classes; mass was sung by the Abbé Duc de Rohan, and the greatest order and decency prevailed: the assembly behaved full as devoutly as they would have done had the hour been midday instead of midnight.
On the morning after, I was at the church of S. M. Maggiore, to see exposed, under one of the altars, what is said to be a part of the crib in which the infant Jesus was laid. A crystal case, ornamented with gold too closely wrought for any thing to be distinguishable within, was pointed out to me. For the identity of such relics we have the continued belief of successive ages; these ages may, it is true, have been deceived; but many of the objects exposed to their veneration may also, with great probability, have been preserved by the primitive christians of Syria, who were à portée to judge of their merits, and who could not easily be imposed upon. With the spread of the christian religion these objects were transported into other countries, and received on the evidence of the faithful of the East. When, however, there is any reasonable cause of incredulity, it should be attended to in defiance of popular belief. Thus, in the case of the scala santa-holy staircase, said to be the same that our Saviour passed over in the house of Pontius Pilate. But, after the entire destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, after a plough had passed over the line of its walls, how did S. Helen, the mother of Constantine, recognise these steps ? The devout ascend them on their knees ;* and many English Protestants do the same, and then glory in the feat they have performed. It happened the other day, that two young Englishmen passed before the place at the same moment when an old man and woman were kneeling down on the lowest step: they arrested the attention of the Englishmen, who immediately laid a bet on the two performers; who, unconscious of the importance of speed, quietly ascended the staircase, repeating the accustomed prayers. The wager turned, therefore, on which of the two should first reach the top of the steps. They—the English-stood below, each loudly exulting, and doubling his wager, as his protegé or protegée gained the advance. It is by these manners that the English alienate the minds of the people of every country they visit: there was not, I believe, in Rome a single Cardinal but had heard of this wager; it was related even to the Pope himself; for when it had been told to one, it was naturally repeated as a further proof of the insular and impertinent spirit of English travellers. These English have lately run in great numbers to witness the professions