Page images

as marble, smooth and beautiful. Some of the rooms are ornamented with paintings, mostly single figures, representing some animal ; they are tolerably well executed, and on a little water being thrown on them, the colours appear surprisingly fresh.

Most of the houses are built on the same plan, and have one small room from the passage, which is conjectured to have been the shop, with a window to the street, and a place which seems to have been contrived for shew. ing the goods to the greatest advantage. The nature of the traffic carried on at one particular house, is indicated by a figure in alto relievo of a very expressive kind, immediately above the door.

It is to be wished they would cover one of the best houses with a roof, as nearly resembling that which originally belonged to it as they could imagine, with a complete assortment of the antique furniture of the kitchen and each particular room. Such a house fitted up with accuracy and judgment, with all its utensils and ornaments properly arranged, would be an object of universal curiosity, and would swell the heart of the antiquarian with veneration and delight. Only imagine, my dear sir, what those gentlemen must feel, when they see the venerable habitations of the ancients in their present mournful condition, neglected, despised, abandoned to the peltings of rain, and all the injuries of the weather! those precious walls, which were it possible to transport them to the various countries of the world, would be bought with avidity, and placed in the gardens of princes ! How must the bosoms of all true virtuosos glow with indignation, when they behold the mansions of the ancient Romans stripped of their ornaments, dishonoured, and exposed, like a parcel of ragged galley slaves, in the most indecent manner, with hardly any covering to their nakedness; while a little paltry brick house, coming the Lord knows how, from a country which men of taste have always depised, has been received with hospitality, dressed in a fine coat of the richest marble, adorned with




jewels and precious stones, and treated with every mark of honourable distinction.

In another part of the town of Pompeii, there is a rectangular building, with a colonade towards the court, something in the style of the Royal Exchange at London, but smaller. This has every appearance of a barrack and guard-room ; the pillars are of brick, covered with shining stucco, elegantly fluted ; the scrawlings and drawings still visible on the walls, are such as we might naturally expect on the walls of a guard-room, where soldiers are the designers, and swords the engraving tools. They consist of gladiators fighting, some with each other, some with wild beasts; the games of the circus, as chariot races, wrestling, and the like; a few figures in caricatura, designed probably by some of the soldiers, in ridicule of their companions, or perhaps of their officers; and there are abundance of names inscribed on various parts of the wall, according to the universal custom of the humblest can. didates for fame in all ages and countries. It may be safely asserted, that none of those who have endeavoured to transmit their names to posterity in this manner, have suca ceeded so well as the soldiers of the garrison of Pompeii.

At a considerable distance from the barrack, is a building, known by the inscription upon it, for a temple of the goddess Isis; there is nothing very magnificent in its appearance; the pillars are of brick stuccued like those of the guard-room. The best paintings hitherto found at Pompeii are those of this temple; they have been cut out of the walls and removed to Portici. It was absolutely necessary to do this with the pictures at Herculaneum, because there they could not be seen without the help of torches ; but here, where they could be seen by the light of the sun, they would, in my humble opinion, have appeared to more advantage, and have had a better effect in the identical situation in which they were placed by the ancient artist. A few still remain, particularly one, which is considered by travellers as a great curiosity; it is a small view of a villa, with the gardens belonging to it.


[ocr errors]

There is one house or villa without the walls, on & much larger scale than any of the others. In a large cellar, or vaulted gallery belonging to this house, there are a number of amphoræ, or earthen vessels, arranged along the walls; most of them filled with a kind of red substance, supposed to have been wine. This cellar is sunk about two-thirds below the surface of the ground, and is lighted by small narrow windows. I have called it gallery, because it is about twelve feet in width, and is the whole length of two adjoining sides of the square which the villa forms. It was used not only as a repository for wine, but also as a cool retreat for the family during excessive hot weather. Some of this unfortunate family sought shelter in this place from the destructive shower which overwhelmed the town. Eight skeletons, four bed ing those of children, were found here ; where they must have met a more cruel and lingering death, than that which they shunned. In one room, the body of a man was found, with an axe in the hand; it is probable he had been endeavouring to cut a passage into the open air; he had broken and pierced the wall, but had expired before he could clear away the surrounding rubbish. Few skeletons were found in the streets, but a considerable number in the houses. Before the decisive shower fell, which smothered the inhabitants of this ill-fated city, perhaps such quantities of ashes and cinders were occasionally falling, as frightened, and obliged them to keep within doors.

It is impossible to view those skeletons, and reflect on this dreadful catastrophe, without horror and compassion. We cannot think of the inhabitants of a whole town being destroyed at once, without imagining that their fate has been uncommonly severe. But are not the inhabitants of all the towns then existing, of whom we think without any emotion of pity, as completely dead as those of Pompeii ? And could we take them one by one, and consider the nature of their deaths, and the circumstances attending that of each individual ; some destroyed by ·


painful bodily diseases, some by the torture of the execu. tioner, some bowed to the grave by the weight of accumulated sorrow, and the slow anguish of a broken heart, after having suffered the pangs of dissolution, over and over again, in the death of those they loved, after having beheld the dying agonies of their children; could all this, I say, be appraised, calculated, and compared, the balance of suffering might not be found with the inhabitants of Pompeii, but rather with those of the contemporary cities, who, perhaps at that time, as we do now, lamented its severe fate.


[ocr errors]


Naples. As I sauntered along the Strada Nuova lately, I perceived a groupe of people listening, with much attention, to a person who harangued them in a raised, solemn voice, and with great gesticulation. I immediately made one of the auditory, which increased every moment; men, wo

, men, and children, bringing seats from the neighbouring houses, on which they placed themselves around the ora

He repeated stanzas from Ariosto, in a pompous, recitativo cadence, peculiar to the natives of Italy; and he had a book in his hand, to assist his memory when it failed. He made occasional commentaries in prose, by way of bringing the poet's expression nearer to the level of his hearers capacities. His cloak hung loose from one shoulder; his right arm was disengaged, for the purposes of oratory. Sometimes he waved it with a slow, smooth motion, which accorded with the cadence of the verses; sometimes he pressed it to his breast, to give energy to the pathetic sentiments of the poet. Now he gathered the hanging folds of the right side of his cloak, and held them gracefully up, in imitation of a Roman senator; and anon he swung them across his left shoulder, like a citizen of Naples. He humoured the stanza by his voice,

hich he could modulate to the key of any passion, from the boisterous bursts of rage, to the soft notes of pity or


love. But, when he came to describe the exploits of Ors lando, he trusted neither to the powers of his own voice, nor the poet's genius; but, throwing off his cloak, and grasping his cane, he assumed the warlike attitude and stern countenance of that hero; representing, by the most animated action, how he drove his spear through the bodies of six of his enemies at once; the point at the same time killing a seventh, who would also have remained transfixed with his companions, if the spear could have held more than six men of an ordinary size


it at a time.
Ji Cavalier d' Anglante ove pui spesse
Vide le genti e l'arme, abbassò l'asta,
Ed uno in quella, e poscia un altro messe
E un altro, e un altro, che sembrar di pasta,
E fino a sei ve n'infilzò, e li resse
Tutti una lancia ; e perche' ella non basta
A piu Capir, lasciò il settimo suore

Ferito si che di quel colpo muore. This stanza our declaimer had no occasion to comment upon, as Ariosto has thought fit to illustrate it in a manner which seemed highly to the taste of this audience. For, in the verse immediately following, Orlando is compared to a man killing frogs in marshy ground, with a bow and arrow made for that purpose; an amusement very common in Italy, and still more so in France.

Non altrimente nell' estrema arena
Veggiam le rane del canali e fosse
Dar cauto arcier ne i fianchi, e nella schiens
L'una vicina all' altera esser percosse,
Ne dalla freccia, fin che tutta piena
Non sia da un capo all' altero esser rimosse.f

• The knight of Anglant now has couch'd his spear,

Where closely press'd the men at arms appear ;
First one, and then another, helpless dies ;
Thro' six at once the lance impetuous flies,
And in the seventh inflicts so deep a wound

That prone he tumbles lifeless to the ground. HOOLE. † Thus, by some standing pool or marshy place,

We see an archer slay the croaking race
With pointed arrow, nor the slaughter leave,
Till the full weapon can no more receive. HOOLK.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »