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informed, and, above all, of the diligent study of history, pursued solely with this view.

Sincerely conscious as I am, therefore, of my incompetency to such a task, I would still hope, that diligence and ardour may have compensated in some degree for deficiency of powers. My labours were, indeed, pursued solely with a view to the gratification of my own curiosity; and these Letters, which served me as a sort of depository, or register of all I saw and learnt, and were addressed to a friend who was then meditating a tour through Italy, were not originally intended for publication; but the consciousness how valuable, on my first arrival at Rome, would have been the information they contained to myself, the experience of its utility to many of my friends, and the want of any better guide, at last led me to entertain the idea of offering it to the public, though I should never have ventured to have put it into execution, had not my purpose been confirmed by the encouragement of those whose judgment cannot admit of doubt, and whose sincerity I never had cause to distrust.

Reassured by such approbation, I have ventured to indulge the hope that this work may serve as a guide to those who visit Rome, may recall its remembrance to those who have seen it, and convey to those who have not, some faint picture of that wonderful city, which boasts at once the noblest remains of antiquity, and the most faultless masterpieces of art,—which, even at the latest period of its decay, possesses more claims to interest than all others in the proudest season of their prosperity,—which in every age has stood foremost in the world, -which has been the light of the earth in ages past,—the guiding star through the long night of ignorance,—the fountain of civilization to the whole western world, and which every nation reverences as a common nurse, preceptor, and parent.

It is not with feelings such as we view other objects of curiosity, that we look upon Rome. We visit it with something of the same veneration with which we should approach the sepulchre of a parent. All that distinguished it once is laid in dust, but the very soil on which we tread is sacred ground; and while we linger among the proud monuments of its early glory, we feel that we ourselves, and all that sur

round us, are introduced on a scene, consecrated by the presence of patriots and heroes, and by every hallowed recollection of ancient greatness and virtue. Unlike all else in life, in which retrospection has small part, and our view is directed to what is passing or is to come, at Rome, it is not the present or the future that occupies us, but the past. We seem to live with those who have gone before us, and our hearts still fondly cherish the delusion that would people these ruins with the shades of " the master spirits” by whom they were once inhabited, and whose very names, even from childhood, have been associated with all that can ennoble and dignify our nature, with the most exalted wisdom, and the most heroic virtue.

It was well observed by Johnson, that “ to abstract the mind from all local emotion, would be impossible, if it were endea. voured, and would be foolish, if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy, as

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may conduct us unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose enthusiasm would not grow warmer among the ruins of Rome."*

For the frequency of the observations contained in these Letters, on the inexhaustible treasures of sculpture and painting which fill the museums of Rome, I have no apology to offer, unless, indeed, they themselves will plead my excuse. It is not easy to see unmoved, or pass unnoticed, the most faultless models of art—the proudest triumphs of genius,—and though, aware that description can convey no adequate image of beauty or perfection, I have endeavoured to refrain from expatiating on them as much as possible; yet, the tongue will speak of that on which the fancy loves to dwell. From childhood, the pleasures afforded by literature and the arts, have been my solace and delight; and I can truly say, that they are the only


* Dr Johnson's Tour to the Hebrides.

without thorns” that have strewed my path of life.

Upon Italian literature, however, I have said little. The subject has of late been canvassed, until it is completely exhausted All the bright productions of its earlier days are celebrated through the world, and there is little new that deserves very high applause. Its former excellence cannot meet with too much praise, but its present state seems to me to be prodigiously over-rated.

The observations on the morals and manners of the Italians, may seem to many, especially to those who do not know them, to be unjustifiably severe. I can only say, that when I left England, my prejudices, if I had any, were in favour of foreign society, -that my judgment was formed upon a constant intercourse with all ranks, from the highest to the lowest,—that, if it be unfavourable, it was passed with reluctance, and that I should be truly glad to be convinced that it was erroneous. But, I found in the Italian circles, all the emptiness, the frivolity, the heartlessness, and the licentiousness of the French, without any of their polish and brilliancy; and with all, and more than all, our lifelessness and ennui.

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