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ficiency, by their publication. For, among all the manifold descriptions that have appeared, I do not hesitate to say, there is not one that is entitled even to the praise of accuracy. There is not one that contains any account of its antiquities, that can satisfy the antiquary—any description of its monuments of art, that can interest the man of taste-or any general information respecting its multiplied objects of curiosity and admiration, that can gratify the common inquirer. Every enlightened stranger at Rome feels the utter inefficiency of all the published accounts. He gazes on the splendid works of antiquity which surround him, lost in doubt as to their name, their date, and their destination, bewildered with vague and contradictory statements, -wearied with exchanging one erroneous opinion for another, and unable, amidst the cloud of conjecture, even to ascertain the little that is known with certainty. The common Itineraries, as Forsyth happily observed, " are mere valets de place in print,” and, withal, so given to lying, that, like the shepherd's boy in the fable, if they do chance to speak truth, they are scarcely believed. There you will find dulness without intelligence—conjecture in place of fact-surmise advanced as certainty-truth perverted—the lights of history neglected, and all things, great and contemptible, of the highest interest, and the merest insignificance, confounded together in equality of notice. You will find more details about the different parts of one tawdry church, than the noblest monuments of antiquity; you will be directed to a thousand trifling objects not worth notice, while many of the highest interest are so passed over, as scarecly to excite attention. The intelligence they give you, when authentic, is seldom interesting, and when interesting, is rarely authentic. Our English writers, so far as concerns Rome, I must put wholly out of the question. None of them have made it their sole, or even their principal theme; and, generally speaking, the meagre accounts of it given in English books of travels, seem as if copied from other works, rather than written from actual observation; and are little more than a transmission of the errors of their predecessors.* Of the two most popu
By far the best of the very few recent tours I have read, among the many that have been published, is “Sketches of Italy," a work invaluable as a guide to Italy, and written with great spirit and talent.
lar writers, Eustace is inaccurate, and Forsyth inadequate. The former, indeed, might serve as a guide to the churches, if his total ignorance of the arts did not disqualify him even for that, but, in other respects, he will only serve to mislead; and Forsyth's desultory remarks, though so admirably distinguished by their acumen and originality, give us none of the information we seek, and only lead us to regret, that one so peculiarly qualified for the task, should have left it unaccomplished. It is true, that in the absence of other guides, the professed Ciceroni* of Rome are very useful to strangers on their first arrival, particularly in exhibiting and explaining the most interesting of its attractions, its remains of antiquity. But, although many of them are men of reading and information, the love of truth is unfortunately too often sacrificed to the love of system. Each embraces some favourite theory, and misrepresents facts, and even misquotes authorities, to establish his hypothesis. I do not blame any of these gentlemen because they do not know what cannot be discovered, but because they are
Signore Nibby and Signore Ré deservedly enjoy the highest reputation among these gentlemen.
not honest enough to avow their ignorance. But we quarrel with them as a lame man does with his crutches : we get on badly with them; but we should do still worse without them, and at first, at least, their assistance will be found of considerable service. Still they cannot altogether supersede the use of books, more especially as people cannot always carry them about in their pockets.
A picture of Rome is, therefore, still a desideratum, but it is one more desirable than easy to supply. The rare and dubious lights that may be thrown upon its antiqui. ties, are scattered through the literature of ages, and must be collected, not only from the works of all the Roman historians and classics, but from the heavy tomes of the Gothic chroniclers; and what are even more dull, and far more voluminous, the wirespun dissertations of the Italian antiquaries. Among the numerous and ponderous volumes that have been compiled on the antiquities of Rome, Nardini's* is the only one
* Roma Antica. Forsyth, who recommends Venuti, I think, can never have read him; otherwise, his sound judgment could never have panegyrised a work so dull, in the least worth studying, and as a book of reference, it may prove highly useful; but such is its bulk and verbosity, that few will read it at Rome, and fewer still, I will venture to say, after they have left it. Few, indeed, will there find leisure for such uninviting research ; few, when the proud remains of antiquity, and the unrivalled works of art, call upon the eye and the mind in every direction, will turn from them to pore over musty volumes.
With me the case was different. Possessed of an unconquerable passion for the study, nothing was a labour that could tend to elucidate it; my previous pursuits had turned my attention to these subjects; I had leisure, opportunities, and, I will add, industry, that few of my countrymen possessed; and during two years, I availed myself to the utmost of every means of intelligence, of access to rare books, of the opinions of the best
and so deplorably devoid of intelligence, that from its perusal nothing whatever can be gained ; for, instead of clearing up what was obscure, the author contrives to render what was before clear totally dark, so that the few scattered lights we had possessed are lost in the mists he raises, and we actually end even in greater doubt than we began.