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All, all are gone! These ruins tell
The sun is setting, and its golden rays
Till. man, lost for a time 'midst Death's cold shade,
Behold — how the warm floods of amber light
the coffin's blackened lid,
Nov.-VOL. CII. NO. CCCCVII.
DIARY OF A FIRST WINTER IN ROME-1854.
A Roman Jumble; or, Sketch of a Day. One of these fine, bright, sunshiny days is so mixed and varied by all kinds and description of sights, it is like a mimic life-the four-andtwenty hours extend and dilate into a well-filled existence, and I find myself taking in so many and various ideas, and passing through such varying scenes, that, unless I came home and put it all down, I should never believe one day could afford so kaleidoscopic a variety. It is only at Rome one can spend such days, where the present and the past meet, clash, or harmonise, as the case may be ; and one rushes from the catacombs to the marionettes, or from an appointment with the holy father to the hurdle-race ridden by real English jockeys. New phases of life open out with the passing hour; each by turns engrossing, enticing, intoxicating to various minds; each worthy of the dedication of our every energy and power. Every chord of intellectual sympathy is touched, and the spirit grows well-nigh paralysed under the overwhelming sense of its utter inability to grasp even a portion of the mighty whole that unfolds in all its excellence before it. The sculptor--the painter-the antiquarian—the lover of antique art - the philosopher, and interpreter of Christian antiquity—the profound theologian -- the admirer of Nature in her wildest and most unadorned beauty-the epicurean who delights in sumptuous palaces, marble halls, and pillared terraces, stretching into orange groves, luxuriant in tropical profusion—the sportsman who revels in his exhilarating flight across the free prairie Campagna--the fine lady, who lives only for routs and balls, and fine equipages, and incessant dissipation—the nonchalant élégant, her husband, who reads the Times and lives at "the club” all day—the solitary pilgrim, journeying from distant
lands to fall prostrate before Christ's vicegerent upon earth--the soldier, · who loves reviews and the “pomp and circumstance” of war among ten
thousand Frenchmen-the lawyer, who buries himself over ponderous tomes, nowhere else be found, in musty libraries—the architect, come from the far north to study the classic porticos, colonnades, and piazzas of the followers of Palladio palaces built for the bright summer, glorious as its sun, where other Romeos may love, and still fairer Juliets be wooed, on the ballustraded balconies, under the shadow of the deep cypresses, in the azure nights when reigns a softer day; or to learn what magnificent temples art can still raise to the praise of Him whose creating hand coloured so radiantly the glowing south—the musical dilettante, who finds here the best opera in harmonious Italy—last of all, the idle rich vagabond, without end or aim in his senseless life, simply seeking for amusement,-Rome, in her boundless multiplication of varied resources, will satisfy and fascinate him—even him.
O rare old city! I embrace thee, and I love thee as the intellectual home of all mankind ;--still, as in the darkened centuries of the middle ages, the great parent of knowledge and of art. But this is an endless theme; a pæan I could sing for ever to thy praise ! so let me, without further preface, describe, as I proposed, my day as it passed, and then judge, good reader, how charmingly time passes in the Eternal City, where one's mind is opened as in no other place under God's blue firmament.
In the morning I strolled into the Borghese Gallery, always invitingly open. That superb palace, flinging back as it were, disdainfully, the meaner houses that press upon its long façades, stretching away down entire streets. Little Pauline Bonaparte must have felt rather proud when, on entering the grand central cortile, with its open galleries and graceful colonnades, she was hailed as its mistress.
The apartments devoted to the picture-gallery are on the ground-floor, and of almost interminable extent, ending in a corridor, decorated with a sparkling fountain, commanding a lovely view of St. Peter's, rising like a radiant queen out of the green meadow
encircling the Vatican on that side, and extending to the water-side. Close under the windows rolls the turbid Tiber, widened here into the Porta di Ripetta, with divers squat, miniature steamers riding on its muddy current, which take passengers and cattle (the latter decidedly predominating) up the river as far as possible into the dreary Campagna.
I had already visited the Borghese Gallery many times, but it is a place not only to see but to live in, among those grandest pictures time has spared. I of course saluted the Divine Sybil—the presiding deity of the whole collection, bright and glowing as she is for the usually sombre pencil of Domenichino. I cannot but look, however, on that picture as intended for a Saint Cecilia rather than the pagan prophetess. Then there is her magnificent rival, Circe, by that wonderful colourist the Ferrarese Dosso Dossi, who has bere called forth the most gorgeous ensemble of beauty the eye ever rested on. There is a strange, magic calm in the aspect of the enchanted wood within whose shadow she rests, dressed in a rich Eastern costume, drawing around her circles of magic incantations, which she calmly watches, as though certain of success. That wondrously beautiful face and radiant form ever comes before me, like a charmed vision, transporting me into other times and other scenes, such as in early childhood one dreams of, when, under the influence of those tales of witchcraft, the opening imagination more than half accepts as dim realities.
Of what a different class are the sacred families by Andrea del Sarto; monotonous in expression and grouping (always the same face of his somewhat Dutch-featured wife, with nearly the same head-dress), but soft and harmonious in colouring, as though his brush had been dipped in morning dew-rugia doso, as the Italians have it, a word dropping as it were with glittering dewdrops.
But most of all do I revel in three or four pictures in the Venetian rooms. Those grandly beautiful Graces, by Titian, bearing the bow and quiver of Cupid—whose eyes Venus (a type of perfect loveliness) is binding—beings of a freer, happier, grander type than inhabit this poor earth, conscious of a joyous existence, untrammelled by any peculiarity of dogma, period, or circumstanee; the very antipodes to the cold abstractions of Grecian art.
Where did Titian ever procure such models ?-or did he ever procure such models? is the question. Rather are they not visions of his glowing imagination called forth from the vasty depths of his own Venetian skies, as he floated in the gondolas under the fragrant shade of the green
lagoons that encircled his native Venice ? Celestial Venus, decked in all her fabled charms to captivate Æneas, was not more divinely fair than this her prototype.
Then, sacred and profane Love, seated contemplating each other on opposite sides of a well, with Cupid between them playing with the water. The one calm, reserved, reflective, clothed in white robes of the Venetian style, wearing flowers in her auburn hair. The other vain and careless, with a certain abandon in her attitude, revealing her terrestrial propensities—the ever-lighted lamp of pleasure burning in her upraised haud as she turns towards her staid companion; her graceful limbs concealed by no jealous drapery, but rather set off by the red mantle lying near, and the thick, tangling tresses of golden hair falling over her snowy shoulders. What shades, what magic colouring enchant the eye in these glorious examples of the genius of Titian, creating at pleasure the entire circle of Olympus's inhuman shape, but freed from the dominion of all debasing passions-free, open, and serene—the very perfection of the beautiful.
Hard by hangs Georgione's David, clad in a complete suit of silversteel, standing out from the canvas with the power of a basso-relievo ; the very personification of a chivalrous knight, though, sooth to say, as little indicative of the young Israelite as possible. This picture is a fine specimen of the painter's austere though emphatic manner.
I have generally an objection to chefs-d'œuvre, and I am frankly guilty of confessing that I care neither for Raphael's Entombment-to my mind a feeble, inexpressive group, always admitting the extreme beauty of some of the heads—or for Correggio's Danaë, a picture where connoisseurs profess to admire the finish of his chiar-oscuro and the transparent brilliancy of the lights. To me she appears a mincing, illlimbed, quite unattractive nymph—ungracefully sprawling on a couch, and not at all worthy the fuss Jupiter made about her.
Nor do I care to dwell on Garofalo's great picture-stiff and mannered in grouping, though admirably coloured ; but my eye rests with delight on that noblest of Raphael's portraits, Cæsar Borgia, where the painter has invoked so vivid and imposing a vision of that depraved but romantic man, whose character horrifies yet delights one by the alternate depths of wickedness and brilliant display of bravery, genius, and intellect that chequer his life. He alone dared to cherish the project of uniting the conflicting claims of divided and prostrate Italy under his single sway; a project his intellectual superiority, headlong courage, and consummate chicanery might have matured and perfected, had death not cut him off in the midst of his stormy career. There, encased in that frame, he appears ; and every one who has ever heard his once-dreaded name, can read his character in those bold, commanding eyes, watching one round the room like an evil spirit.
I delight in the murmuring fountain, splashing melodiously over the porphyry pedestal in the centre of the great hall; the only sound that breaks the silence of those endless rooms. And I delight, too, in the chamber of mirrors, where wreaths of flowers, garlands, and festoons, deck vases piled over with lilies and roses, obscuring the brilliant glass on which they are painted. Cupids lurk among the flowers, and roll in very joyousness under their perfumed shade ; while gilding and stucco, and statues and marbles enrich the walls and the ceiling around. Even for stately, palatial Rome it is a glorious old palace, and my memory will often gather fondly around it, remembering the pleasant hours I have dreamed away in its silent halls when I am far away.
From the Borghese Palace I ordered the carriage to drive by the Corso towards the Aventine. I have already celebrated that “street of palaces"--perhaps the grandest specimen of domestic architecture in the world—withal the gayest, busiest place in all Rome, swarming with carriages and foot-passengers from morning until night comes, and the gay,
, which still attracts a certain degree of attention. The Corso to me bears the impress of a perpetual festa, arising, I suppose, from my reminiscences of the Carnival, and that glorious concluding two hours of the “ Moccoli,” when its lofty sides become transformed into cavernous precipices of incessantly moving lights, glittering and sparkling with an eccentric will-o'-the-wisp brilliancy, that quite puts the pale stars to shame. At the top of the Corso the dark turrets of the Venetian ambassador's palace frown down on the ever-gathering crowd below-all that remains of the feudal ages in Rome. Built like the Farnese, and so many other palaces, from the spoils of the Colosseum, it was once inhabited by Charles VIII., when, full of young and untaught presumption, that carpet-knight descended into Italy, as he imagined, to behold and to conquer, until the Keys of St. Peter and the Lion of Venice
gave him such sore blows he was glad to return to la belle France. This imposing structure, more a fortress than a palace, is the only spot in Rome really impressed with the characteristics of the middle ages. From hence, the intriguing court of Vienna now, as in past ages, watches the manœuvres of the Vatican--the old combat of Ghibelline and Guelph revived-only now the fight is waged with pens and not with swords. Connected with the Piazza and Palazzo di Venezia is the glowing little church of San Marco, that glittering new-fledged daughter of a glorious time-honoured mother, against whose walls beat the placid waves of the blue Adriatic. Near at hand a whole faubourg of palaces raise their proud heads in rivalry to each other—the Doria, the Altieri, and the Torlonia, where that citizen keeps his state by the side of Rome's most ancient nobles. Presiding over the district appears the sumptuous church of the Gesù, yet dark and sombre in its magnificence as the pages of its annals. Here, in a gorgeous chapel, lapped in a funereal urn of bronze and gold, under a winding-sheet of marble, precious stones and oriental alabaster heaped around, the whole surmounted with an enormous globe of lapislazuli, lies Ignatius Loyola. His mausoleum as resplendent as his life was poor. Now art and nature emulate each other in its adornment : statues people the lofty aisles, pictures animate the glittering altars, the rarest marbles sustain the roof (where brilliant frescoes form an artistic firmament), and the most precious metal form the capitals. His history is written on the walls in marble and in bronze, and an image of solid silver adorns the altar. Enthusiastic, devoted, brave, the Spanish monk was the latest, and perhaps the strongest, support of the Church. Its foundations sapped by Luther were sustained by Loyola. Strange contrast ! the Guelphic shrine of Loyola hard by the Ghibelline palace of the Austrian Cæsar! Theocracy and feudality face to face, measuring each other like two athletæ in an arena. Another palace is near, forming a part of this suggestive corner, but, like the history of its race, it lies detached—that of Madame Mère, where once resided Letitia