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the air, like a celestial being. The instant he appeared, the music struck up, the bells rung from every church, and the cannon thundered from the castle of St. Angelo in repeated peals. During the intervals, the church of St. Peter's, the palace of the Vatican, and the banks of the Tiber, re-echoed the acclamations of the populace. At length his holiness arose from his seat, and an immediate and awful silence ensued. The multitude fell
their knees, with their hands and eyes raised towards his holiness, as to a benign deity. After a solemn pause, he pro. nounced the benediction, with great fervour; elevating his outstretched arms as high as he could ; then closing them together, and bringing them back to his breast with a slow motion, as if he had got hold of the blessing, and was drawing it gently from heaven. Finally, he threw his arms open, waving them for some time, as if his intention had been to scatter the benediction with impartiality among the people.
No ceremony can be better calculated for striking the senses, and imposing on the understanding, than this of the supreme pontiff giving the blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's. For my own part, if I had not, in my early youth, received impressions highly unfavourable to the chief actor in this magnificent interlude, I should have been in danger of paying him a degree of respect, very inconsistent with the religion in which I was educated.
In my last, I informed you of my having been seduced almost into idolatry, by the influence of example, and the pontp which surrounded the idol. I must now confess that I have actually bowed the knee to Baal, from mere wantonness. We are told that, to draw near to that Being, who ought to be the only object of worship, with our lips, while our hearts are far from him, is a mockery. Such daring and absurd hypocrisy I shall always avoid :
but to have drawn near to him, who ought not to be an object of worship, with the lips only, while the heart continued at a distance, I hope will be considered as no more than a venial transgression. In short, I trust, that it will not be looked on as a mortal sin in Protestants to have kissed the pope's toe. If it should, some of your friends are in a deplorable way, as you shall hear. It is usual for strangers to be presented to his holiness, before they leave Rome. The duke of Hamilton, Mr. Kennedy, and my. self, have all been at the Vatican together, upon that important business. Your young acquaintance Jack, who, having now got a commission in the army, considers himself no longer as a boy, desired to accompany us.
We went under the auspices of a certain ecclesiastic, who usually attends the English on such occasions.
He very naturally concluded, that it would be most agreeable to us to have the circumstance of kissing the slipper dispensed with. Having had some conversation, therefore, with his holiness, in his own apartment, while we remained in another room, previous to our introduction; he afterwards returned, and informed us, that the pontiff, indulgent to the prejudices of the British nation, did not insist on that part of the ceremonial; and there. fore a very low bow, on our being presented, was all that would be required of us.
A bow! cried the duke of Hamilton ; I should not have given myself any trouble about the matter, had I suspected that all was to end in a bow. I look on kissing the toe as the only amusing circumstance of the whole; if that is to be omitted, I will not be introduced at all. For if the most ludicrous part is left out, who would wait for the rest of a farce ?
This was a thunderstroke to our negotiator, who expected thanks, at least, for the honourable terms he had obtained; but who, on the contrary, found himself in the same disagreeable predicament with other negotiators, who have met with abuse and reproach from their countrymen,
on account of treaties for which they expected universal applause.
The duke of Hamilton knew nothing of the treaty which our introducer had just concluded; otherwise he would certainly have prevented the negotiation. As I perceived, however, that our ambassador was mortified with the thoughts that all his slabour should prove abortive, I said, that, although he had prevailed with his holiness to wave that part of the ceremonial, which his Grace thought so entertaining, yet it would unquestionably be still more agreeable to him that the whole should be performed to its utmost extent: this new arrangement, therefore, needed not be an obstruction to our being presented.
The countenance of our conductor brightened up at this proposal. He immediately ushered us into the presence of the supreme pontiff. We all bowed to the ground; the supplest of the company had the happiness to touch the sacred slipper with their lips, and the least agile were within a few inches of that honour. As this was more than had been bargained for, his holiness seemed agreeably surprised ; raised the duke with a smiling countenance, and conversed with him in an obliging manner, asking the common questions, How long he had been in Italy ? Whether he found Rome agreeable ? When he intended to set out for Naples ?--He said something of the same kind to each of the company; and, after about a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes, we took our leave.
Next day, his holiness sent his compliments to the duke, with a present of two medals, one of gold, and the other of silver; on both of which the head of the pontiff is very accurately engraved.
The manner in which the generality of sovereign princes pass their time, is as far from being amusing or agreeable, as one can possibly imagine. Slaves to the tiresome routine of etiquette ; martyrs to the oppressive fatigue of pomp; constrained to walk every levee-day around the same dull circle, to gratify the vanity of fifty or a hun
dred people, by whispering a something or a nothing into the ears of each ; obliged to wear a smiling countenance, even when the heart is oppressed with sadness ; besieged by the craving faces of those, who are more displeased at what is withheld, than grateful for the favours they have received ; surrounded, as he constantly is, by adepts in the art of simulation, all professing the highest possible regard; how shall the puzzled monarch distinguish real
l from assumed attachment ? and what a risk does he run, of placing his confidence where he ought to have directed his indignation ! And, to all these inconveniences, when we add this, that he is precluded from those delightful sensations which spring from disinterested friendship, sweet equality, and the gay, careless enjoyments of social life, we must acknowledge, that all that is brilliant in the condition of a sovereign, is not sufficient to compensate for such restraints, such dangers, and such deprivations.
So far indeed are we from considering that envied condition as enviable, that great part of mankind are more apt to think it insupportable ; and are surprised to find, that those unhappy men, whom fate has condemned to suffer the pains of royalty for life, are able to wait with patience for the natural period of their days. For, strange as it may appear, history does not furnish us with an instance, not even in Great Britain itself, of a king, who hanged, or drowned, or put himself to death in any other violent manner, from mere tedium, as other mortals, disgusted with life, are apt to do. I was at a loss to account for such an extraordinary fact, till I recollected that, however void of resources and activity the minds of monarchs may be, they are seldom allowed to rest in repose. The storms to which people in their lofty situation are exposed, occasion such agitations as prevent the stagnating slime of tedium from gathering on their minds. That kings do not commit suicide, therefore, affords only a very slender presumption of the happiness of their condition : although, it is a strong proof, that all the hurricanes of life are not so insupportable to the human mind, as that insipid, fear
less, hopeless calm, which envelopes men who are devoid of mental enjoyments, and whose senses are palled with satiety. If there is any truth in the above representation of the regal condition, would not you imagine that of all others it would be the most shunned? Would not you imagine that every human being would shrink from it, as from certain misery; and that at least every wise man would
with the poet,
I envy none their pageantry and show,
I envy none the gilding of their woe ! Not only every wise man, but every foolish man, will a* dopt the sentiment, and act accordingly; provided his rank in life removes him from the possibility of ever attaining the objects in question. For what is situated beyond the sphere of our hopes, very seldom excites our de sires; but bring the powerful magnets a little nearer, and they attract the human passions with a force which reason and philosophy cannot controul. Placed within their reach, the wise and the foolish grasp with equal eagerness at crowns and sceptres, in spite of all the thorns with which they are surrounded. Their alluring magic seems to have the power of changing the very characters and natures of men. In pursuit of them, the indolent have been excited to the most active exertions, the voluptuous have renounced their darling pleasures; and even those who have long walked in the direct road of integrity, have deviated into all the crooked paths of villany and fraud.
There are passions, whose indulgence is so exceedingly flattering to the natural vanity of men, that they will gratify them, though persuaded that the gratification will be attended by disappointment and misery. The love of power and sovereignty is of this class. It has been a general belief, ever since the kingly office was established among men, that cares and anxiety were the constant at, tendants of royalty. Yet this general conviction never made a single person decline an opportunity of embarking on this sea of troubles. Every new adventurer flatters himself that he shall be guided by some happy star undis,