situations are several miles from it. The Quirinal hill, which is removed from the Tiber, and surrounded by the populous part of the city, is supposed to be healthy, while the Vatican is not; and if no longer“ licet Esquiliis habitare salubribus," it is because there are now more vineyards, than houses in that part of the city.

Our limits will not allow us to follow our author, in his elucidation of the different passages of Virgil. Suffice it to say, that there is scarcely a local description in the Æneid, which he has not found to be faithful. The plan pursued by him is to give first the passage, and, by the side of it, a description of the topography of the country. A dozen lines with a pencil would have done this much better; but, in justice to Mr. de Bonstetten, we should add, that his descriptions are animated, and bring the landscape as well before the view, as the pen can do it

He is peculiarly happy, indeed, in his description of the habits of the Romans, and of the general impression made upon the stranger by the environs of Rome. We recognize in him a man who has resided there a long while, who has climbed every eminence, descended into every valley, rapped at every gate, and searched every corner of that interesting city; in a word, done what every enthusiastic lover of the arts must do, if he wishes to be let into the secrets of that mysterious tomb of antiquity. What man is there who ever has gone through this routine of delightful investigation, but must be carried back to Rome by the following passages!

“ In speaking of a city, we naturally image to ourselves streets, houses, and families; but at Rome all these common no. tions must be banished. I recollect to have walked for an hour within its limits, without having seen a single inhabited house, nor encountered any other being than a solitary monk. There is in this wonderful city a street composed entirely of churches and convents, the most of which are abandoned.”

And again,

“ From the interior gate of St. Leon, as far as that of St. Paul, the city resembles a deserted village. The basilick of St. Paul is about a quarter of a league from the gate of Rome. Between this basilick and the city, there are country-houses, abandoned by their proprietors. You knock and call at multitudes of doors, but no one comes to open them.”

The case is the same within the walls of Rome where woodcocks have found a haunt within the baths of Caracalla, and foxes prowl through the halls of the golden palace of the Cæsars*.

* It may be necessary to inform those of our readers who may not have

Our author then proceeds: “The Romans built their tombs along the great road. These monuments, vast enough to serve at times as fortresses, resemble palaces or temples. They were clothed with marble, encircled by rich colonnades, decorated with statues, and many of them divided into several stories. When Rome was in all her splendor, these habitations of the dead, were in some sort the suburbs of those of the living, and the two cities united covered an immense extent of country. The Appian way, abandoned at present in that part which leads from Rome to Albani, for a distance of three leagues, is now no more than a straight line traced by two rows of tombs in ruins, which seem to touch each other. I remarked some of them which were converted into tippling-houses, where the populace danced; a considerable number served as cellars, or stables, where the filthiest animals dwelt with the ashes of the masters of the world.”

We shall select at random some few additional passages for the entertainment of the reader. " The recollection of the ancient superstitions,” says Mr. Bonstetten, " is yet so lively with the people of Latium, that no one of the inhabitants of Mount Circello dares enter the fine grotto on the top of the mountain, which the populace believes to have been the dwelling of La Maga, or the sorceress Circé. When I proposed to some peasants of the neighbourhood of Circello, to accompany me into the grotto, all of them refused; a soldier with large mustaches passing by at the time, I said to them, “ here is one who will not refuse to go;" but, as soon as the man understood the nature of the request, he took to fight.”

visited Rome, that the greatest part of it has no claim to the name of city, except from the circumstance of being enclosed within its walls. This unfrequented part is subdivided in small vineyards, by which means a portion of the populace of Rome are really peasants; a term we have used in speaking of them, and which would otherwise have been improper.-In many of these vineyards are hid the treasures of antiquity; and to view them, it is necessary to gain admittance within their gates - The temple of Minerva Medica for instance, the baths of Caracalla, and various other ruins are situated in this way.-We think with Mr. de Bonstetten that the best mode for the stranger who has leisure, is to be independent of those ciceroni, who may be hired to show the shortest road to knowledge.-He should rather prepare hin.self by previous reading, and then set out alone in search of information. With regard to the modern Romans, we may say of them still what Petrarch said in his time “ Qui enim hodie iquari rerum Romanorum sunt quam Romani cives?-Invitus dico, nusquam minus Roma cognoscitur quam Rome." It is only therefore by time, by reflection, by observation and by an indulgence of a minute curiosity, which might be considered as impertinent, in any other city, that the inquisitive stranger is enabled to sift out all the knowledge, that is to be acquired in Rome.

Vol. IV.


“ There is a singularity worthy of remark, in the language of the people of modern Rome, and of all Latium. I allude to their practice of transposing letters or syllables, and of speaking as Polichinello does on the stage. The Romans of the present day, say crapa for capra, a goat; frebbe instead of febbre, fever; paduli instead of paludi; contestable for conestable; pratica for patrica, &c. We may judge from this, how illusive are etymologies. A number of modern authors have confounded Lavinium with Lanuvium, because it has pleased the Romans to pronounce the word Lavinia, instead of Lanuria. My guide at Pratica, said retro in lieu of dietro; not that the Latin word retro was preserved in the place, but the transposition of letters appears to be a fundamental rule of the Patois of Latium.”

“ The fine city of Port Trajan is now reduced to a farmer's house, near which there stands a small church. I happened to pass by the latter, when the labourers of all the environs were assembled in it. A Capuchin was preaching to them, and, in Italy, I was never able to withstand the temptation of listening to this class of men. A numerous congregation of dogs lay quietly stretched out, on the green plat before the door.”

“ We look for a knowledge of the Antients too exclusively in monuments of stone, and in books. It may be had wherever we can observe, with discernment, the nature of man, and of things, which, in some respects, has been always the same at Rome, for two or three thousand years. The eloquence of the pulpit in Italy, particularly the popular eloquence of the Capuchins, can explain to us how the antient orators were able to make themselves understood, by a vast assemblage sometimes noisy and tumultuous."

“The pantomime of a Capuchin is the key of his discourse; his gestures accompany every word, while the northern speaker only allows himself a few occasional movements of the hand. In a sermon which I heard in Italy on the perfections of St. Joseph, the preacher imitated even the sound of voice of the child Jesus, of the Virgin, and of St. Joseph, and his gestures were a continual pantomime perfectly well adapted to the several personages he represented. ”

“I confess that for me it requires an effort, to listen without distraction, to a northern preacher; whereas I am hurried away by an Italian Capuchin. When I do not hear his words, the sound of his voice, and the rhythmus of his discourse, give me to understand his meaning; when two or three words have escaped me, the fourth teaches me all; when I have heard nothing whatsoever, I have seen every thing in his gestures."

" A Roman preacher, wishing to illustrate the insensibility of the sinner, who postpones his conversion to the hour of death, compared him to a passenger asleep on board of a vessel.

At first the navigation is smooth and smiling; soon, however, the tempest arises, and the sinner awakes only at the moment when he about to be swallowed up in the waves.

The development of this figure, the picture of the sea, of the sky, at first serene, and then darkened by the storm, the movement of the vessel, the flapping of the sails, the crackling of the ropes, &c. made up one third of the sermon. It was an allegory in which the harmonious language of the monk and the clatter of the Italian phrases, were in their true place. I have known a preacher employ a full quarter of an hour in describing the fires of purgatory, and so lively was the impression which he left, that for some time I had nothing before my imagination but flames and torments.”

“ I cannot refrain from mentioning here a sermon given on the Sunday, in the arena of the amphitheatre of Rome, where a monk teaches the catechism to a body of young and half-savage beggars. Nothing can be more picturesque than this spectacle, in the midst of the ruins of the Colisseum. You see a crowd of blackguards grouped together like so many monkies, expressing by their grimaces, the ridiculous sense in which they interpret the theology of the preacher. On one occasion, when he remarked that they were to fear God, they all declared with one voice, that they feared none but the devil. The teacher got angry, but the rogues insisted that since God did harm to no person, they did not fear him. Such scenes often occur.

We must now notice some singular errors which have crept into a work, otherwise so respectable in its nature; errors which it happens to be in our power to refute.

The author, on his journey to Ostia, sees a Russian ship sailing up the Tiber, upon which he takes the opportunity of making the remark, that the only export from Rome, in exchange for the manufactures of the rest of the world, for which she is dependent, is composed of dirty rags. In answer to this strange assertion, we have but to give the following memorandum of the manufactures and exports of Rome.

Articles of commerce at Rome were, from the produce of the soil, grain, wine, oil, alum and saltpetre; in manufactures, cloths, callicoes, dimities, velvets, sattins, ribbands, artificialflowers, essences and pomatums. In several of these they excel. Antiques formed a considerable part of their exports, and the mines they possess of them, may enter as fairly into the calculation of the riches of a country, as those of metals or

precious stones, and are perhaps as inexhaustible; but government put a stop to their exportation, and became itself the purchaser of those treasures, which were reunited at the palace of the Vatican.-The modern productions of her artists, viewed as a source of riches or as a manufacture, exceed in quality and cheapness those of the rest of the world.

With regard to the description which our author gives, of the misery and poverty of the lower classes at Rome, it is unfortunately founded on fact, but certainly very much exaggerated.-Experience ought also to have taught the enlightened author, that every beggar he meets in the street, is not a living stigma on the government of his country. He did not as often meet with this in Paris; for it is the policy of the French government not to suffer the squalidness of misery to pierce through the tinsel veil of luxury. He did not see it in Switzerland, because in that country there exists a happy equality of property; but he has no doubt seen it in one of the richest cities in the world, in London, where, as at Rome, there are regular rendezvous of beggars. It is not honourable to human nature, but it is nevertheless notorious, that there exists a race of people who prefer a vagabond life to a decent mode of getting their livelihood, nay even to being supported by the public, when its charity does not come in the form of which they may exactly approve.--A modern poet, who has familiarized himself with the habits of the poor of England, more than

any author we ever met with, speaks of this circumstance, in introducing an almshouse.

They have no evil in the place to state,
And dare not say it is the house they hate.
They own there's granted all such place can give,
But live repining, for 'tis there they live.

Crabbe's Borough, Lett. 18th. Mr. de Bonstetten seems to have examined also the habits of the lower classes, at Rome, and we are therefore astonished that he should dwell with so much complacency, on the dark side of their state. One would imagine by his description, that they had all the misery without the pleasures of their order, while, on the contrary, they are perhaps more animated, more susceptible of gaiety, than those of almost any other nation.Has our author never walked through the streets of Rome by moonlight, and heard the guitars of the poorer classes, joining in the softest harmony? has he never witnessed the sprightly gaiety of the Salterella, the favourite Roman dance? has he never seen a groupe


peasant girls balancing themselves on a board swung across a cottage door, and rending the air with their noisy merri

« ForrigeFortsett »