Page images

an opportunity of actually seeing it, the height falls so short of our expectations, that we are apt to think it a great deal less than it is in reality. A mistake of this kind, joined to a careless view of the place, which is not in itself very interesting, has led Bishop Burnet into the strange assertion, that the Tarpeian rock is so very low, that a man would think it no great matter to leap down it for his diversion. Criminals thrown from this precipice, were literally thrown out of the city of old Rome into the Campus Martius, which was a large plain, of a triangular shape; two sides of the triangle being formed by the Tiber, and the base by the Capitol, and buildings extending three miles nearly in a parallel line with it. The Campus Martius had its name from a small temple built in it, at a very early period, and dedicated to Mars; or it might have this name from the military exercises performed there. In this field, the great assemblies of the people, called Census or Lustrum, were held every fifth year; the consuls, censors, and tribunes, were elected; the levies of troops were made; and there the Roman youth exercised themselves in riding, driving the chariot, shooting with the bow, using the sling, darting the javelin, throwing the discus or quoit, in wrestling, running : and when covered with sweat and dust, in consequence of these exercises, they washed their bodies clean by swimming in the Tiber. Horace accuses Lydia of ruining a young man, by keeping him from those manly exercises in which he formerly excelled.

Cur apricum

Oderit campum, patiens pulveris atque solis:
Cur neque militaris

Inter equales equitet, Gallica nec lupatis
Temperet ora frœnis ?

Cur timet flavum Tiberim tangere?

The dead bodies of the most illustrious citizens were also burnt in this field, which was adorned gradually by statues and trophies, erected to the memory of distinguished men. But every feature of its ancient appear

ance is now hid by the streets and buildings of modern Rome.

The inhabitants of Rome may be excused for choosing this situation for their houses, though by so doing, they have deprived us of a view of the Campus Martius. But surely they, or their governors, ought to show more solicitude for preserving the antiquities than they do; and they might, without inconveniency, find some place for a cow market, of less importance than the ancient Forum. It is not in their power to restore it to its former splendour, but they might, at least, have prevented its falling back to the state in which Æneas found it, when he came to visit the poor Evander.

Talibus inter se dictis ad tecta subibant

Pauperis Evandri: passimque armenta videbant
Romanoque Foro et lautis mugire carinis.

I have already said, that besides this, there were several forums in Rome, where basilica were built, justice administered, and business transacted. The emperors

were fond of having such public places named after them. The accounts we have of the forums of Nerva, and that of Trajan, give the highest idea of their grandeur and elegance; three Corinthian pillars, with their entablature, are all that remain of the former; of the latter, the noble column placed in the middle, still preserves all its original beauty. It consists of twenty-three circular pieces of white marble, horizontally placed one above the other; it is about twelve feet diameter at the bottom, and ten at the top. The plinth of the base is a piece of marble twenty-one feet square. A staircase, consisting of one hundred and eighty-three steps, and sufficiently wide to admit a man to ascend, is cut out of the solid marble, leaving a small pillar in the middle, round which the stair winds from the bottom to the top. I observed a piece broken, as I went up, which showed, that those large masses of marble have been exquisitely polished on the flat sides, where they are in contact with each other, that the adhesion and strength of the pillar might be the

greater. The stairs are lighted by forty-one windows, exceedingly narrow on the outside, that they might not interrupt the connection of the basso relievos, but which gradually widen within, and by that means give sufficient light. The base of the column is ornamented with basso relievos, representing trophies of Dacian armour. The most memorable events of Trajan's expedition against the Dacians, are admirably wrought in a continued spiral line from the bottom of the column to the top. The figures towards the top, are too far removed from the eye to be seen perfectly. To have rendered them equally visible with those below, it would have been necessary to have made them larger proportionably as they ascended. Viewed from any considerable distance, all the sculpture is lost, and a plain fluted pillar, of the same proportions, would have had as fine an effect. But such a frugal plan would not have been so glorious to the prince, whose victories are engraven, or so interesting to the legionary soldiers, many of whom, no doubt, are here personally represented. Besides, it would not now be near so valuable a monument, in the eyes of antiquarians, or so useful a study to sculptors and painters, who have occasion to represent the military dress of the Romans, or the costume of the East in that age. Exclusive of the statue, this beautiful pillar is a hundred and twenty feet high. The ashes of Trajan were deposited in an urn at the bottom, and his statue at the top. Pope Sixtus V, in the room of the emperor's, has placed a statue of St. Peter upon this column. I observed to a gentleman, with whom I visited this pillar, that I thought there was not much propriety in placing the figure of St. Peter upon a monument, representing the victories, and erected in honour of the emperor Trajan. ever,' replied he coldly, brass."

There is some propriety, howin having made the statue of



I HAVE been witness to the beatification of a saint; he was of the order of St. Francis, and a great many brethren of that order were present, and in very high spirits on the occasion. There are a greater number of ecclesiastics beatified, and canonized, than any other order of men. In the first place, because, no doubt, they deserve it better and also, because they are more solicitous to have saints taken from among men of their own profession, and particular order, than people in other situations in life are. Every monk imagines, it reflects personal honour on himself when one of his order is canonized. Soldiers, lawyers, and physicians, would probably be happy to see some of their brethren distinguished in the same manner; that they have not had this gratification of late years, may be imputed to the difficulty of finding suitable characters among them. Ancient history, indeed, makes mention of some commanders of armies who were very great saints; but I have heard of no physician who acquired that title since the days of St. Luke; or of a single lawyer, of any age or country.

A picture of the present expectant, a great deal larger than life, had been hung up on the front of St. Peter's church, several days before the beatification took place. This ceremony was also announced by printed papers, distributed by the happy brethren of St. Francis. On the day of the solemnity, his holiness, a considerable number of cardinals, many other ecclesiastics, all the capucin friars in Rome, and a great concourse of spectators attended. The ceremony was performed in St. Peter's church. An ecclesiastic of my acquaintance procured us a very convenient place for seeing the whole. The cere mony of beatification is a previous step to that of canonization. The saint, after he is beatified, is entitled to more distinction in heaven than before; but he has not the power of freeing souls from purgatory till he has been

VOL. 11.


canonized; and therefore is not addressed in prayer till he has obtained the second honour. On the present occasion, a long discourse was pronounced by a Franciscan friar, setting forth the holy life which this expectant had led upon earth, his devotions, his voluntary penances, and his charitable actions; and a particular enumeration was made, of certain miracles he had performed when alive, and others which had been performed after his death by his bones. The most remarkable miracle, by himself in person, was, his replenishing a lady's cupboard with bread, after her housekeeper, at the saint's instigation, had given all the bread of the family to the poor.

This business is carried on in the manner of a lawsuit. The devil is supposed to have an interest in preventing men from being made saints. That all justice may be done, and that Satan may have his due, an advocate is employed to plead against the pretensions of the saint expectant, and the person thus employed is denominated by the people, the Devil's Advocate. He calls in question the miracles said to have been wrought by the saint and his bones, and raises as many objections to the proofs brought of the purity of his life and conversation as he can. It is the business of the advocate on the other side, to obviate and refute these cavils. The controversy was carried on in Latin. It drew out to a great length, and was by no means amusing. Your friend Mr. R—y, who sat near me, losing patience, from the length of the ceremony, and some twitches of the gout, which he felt at that moment, whispered me, I wish, from my heart, the devil's advocate were with his client, and this everlasting saint fairly in Heaven, that we might get away.' The whole party, of which I made one, were seized with frequent and long-continued yawnings, which I imagine was observed by some of thecardinals, who sat opposite to us. They caught the infection, and although they endeavoured to conceal their gaping under their purple robes, yet it seemed to spread and communicate itself gradually over the whole assembly, the Franciscan friars

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »