Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ated on a hill. There is one palace here, with spacious gardens, which, when kept in repair, may have been magnificent. The stair-case, they assured us, is still worthy of admiration. The inhabitants of Valetri assert, that Augustus was born there. Suetonius says, he was born at Rome. It is certainly of no importance where he was born. Perhaps it would have been better for Rome, and for the world in general, that he never had been born at all. The Valetrians are so fond of emperors, that they claim a connection even with Tiberius and Caligula, who had villas in their neighbourhood. The ruins of Otho's palace are still to be seen about a mile from this city, at a place called Colle Ottone. Of those four emperors, the last mentioned was by much the best worth the claiming as a countryman. As for Caligula, he was a mischievous madman. Tiberius seems to have been born with wicked dispositions, which he improved by art. Augustus was naturally wicked, and artificially virtuous; and Otho seems to have been exactly the reverse. Though educated in the most vicious of courts, and the favourite and companion of Nero, he still preserved, in some degree, the original excellence of his character; and, at his death, displayed a magnanimity of sentiment, and nobleness of conduct, of which the highly-flattered Augustus was never capable. • Alii diutius imperium tenuerint,' says Tacitus; 'nemo tam fortiter reliquerit.' * Convinced that, if he continued the contest with Vitellius, all the horrors of a civil war would be prolonged, he determined to sa. crifice his life to the quiet of his country, and to the safety of his friends.t • To involve you in fresh calamities,

a

Many have held the empire longer ; none ever relinquished it from more generous motives.

+ Hunc animum, hanc virtutem vestram, ultra periculis objicere, nie mis grande vitæ meæ pretium puto. An ego tantum Romanæ pubis, tot egregios exercitus, sterni rursus et republicâ eripi patiar ? Este superstites, nec diu moremur; ego incolumitatem vestram, vos constantiam meam. De nemine queror, nam incusare deos vel homines, ejus est, qui vivere velit.

Tacit. Hist. lib. ii.

support his

said this generous prince to the officers who offered still to

cause, • is purchasing life at a price beyond. what, in my opinion, is its value. Shall Roman armies be led against each other, and the Roman youth be excited to mutual slaughter, on my account? No! for your safety, and to prevent such evils, I die contented. Let me be no impediment to your treating with the enemy; nor do you any longer oppose my fixed resolution. I complain not of my fate, nor do I accuse any body. To arraign the conduct of gods or men, is natural to those only who wish to live.

Though they are not to be compared in other respects, yet the death of Otho may vie with that of Cato; and is one of the strongest instances to be found in history, that, a life of effeminacy and voluptuousness does not always eradicate'the seeds of virtue and benevolence. In the middle of the square of Valetri is a bronze sta..

a tue of Urban VIII. I think they told us it is the workmanship of Bernini.

Descending from that town by a rough road, bordered by vineyards and fruit trees, we traversed an unsalubrious : plain to Sermonetta ; between which, and the post-house, called Casa Nuova, a little to the left of the highway, are some vaults and ruins, not greatly worthy of the notice of the mere antiquarian. Yet passengers of a singular cast of mind, who feel themselves as much interested in the transactions recorded in the New Testament, as men of taste are in paintings or heathen antiquities, stop a little here. to contemplate the Tres Taberna, which are said to be the Three Taverns mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, where the Christian brethren from Rome came to meet St. Paul, when he was on his journey to that city. I have seen, however, some Christian travellers, who, without being connoisseurs, were of opinion, that old ruined houses derived little value from the circumstance above mentioned, and who preferred a good modern inn to all the antiquities, sacred or profane, that they met with on their grand tours. Without presuming to blame any set of men for

а

a

а

their particular taste, I may venture to say, that a traveller, who loves always to see a well-peopled and well-cultivated country, who insists on good eating every day, and a neat comfortable bed every night, would judge very wisely in never travelling out of England. -I am certain he ought not to travel between Rome and Naples; for on this road, especially the part which runs through the ecclesiastical state, the traveller's chief entertainment must arise from a less substantial foundation ; from the ideas formed in the mind, at sight of places celebrated by favourite authors; from a recollection of the important scenes which have been acted there; and even from the thought of treading the same ground, and viewing the same objects, with certain persons who lived there fifteen hundred or two thousand

years ago. Strangers, therefore, who come under the first description, whose senses are far more powerful than their fancy, when they are so ill advised as to come so far from home, generally make this journey in very ill-humour, fretting at Italian beds, fuming against Italian cooks, and execrating every poor little Italian flea that they meet with on the road. But he who can put up with indifferent fare cheerfully, whose serenity of temper remains unshaken by the assaults of a flea, and who can draw amusement from the stores of memory and imagination, will find the powers of both wonderfully excited during this journey. Sacred history unites with profane, truth conspires with fable, to afford him entertainment, and render every object interesting.

Proxima Circeæ raduntur littora terræ.
Driving along this road, you have a fine view of Monte
Circello, and

the Ææan bay
Where Circe dwelt, the daughter of the Day;
Goddess and queen, to whom the powers belong

Of dreadful magic and commanding song. This abode of the enchantress Circe has been generally described as an island; whereas it is, in reality, a pro

Now by rich Circe's coast they bend their way,

a

montory, united to the continent by a neck of land. The adventures of Ulysses and his companions at this place, with all the extraordinary things which Homer has recorded .of Circe, must serve to amuse you between Casa Nuova and Piperno; the road affords no other.

At Piperno, anciently Privernum, you quit Circe, for Virgil's Camilla, a lady of a very different character, whose native city this is.

Near to Piperno, an abbey, called Fossa Nuova, is situated on the ruins of the little town of Forum Appii, the same of which mention is made in the Acts of the Apostles, and by Horace, in his account of his journey to Brundusium.

Inde Forum Appi Differtum nautis, cauponibus atque malignis.f The abbey of Fossa Nuovo is said to have made a very valuable acquisition of late, no less than the head of St. Thomas Aquinas. We are told, in the memoirs of that saint, that he was taken ill as he passed this way, and was carried to this convent, where he died. His body was afterward required by the king of France, and ordered to be carried to Thoulouse; but before the remains of this holy

• Hos super advenit Volscã de gente Camilla,

Agmen agens equitum et florentes ære catervas,
Bellatrix: Non illa colo calathisve Minerva
Femineas assueta manus; sed prælia virgo
Dura pati, cursuque pedum prævertere ventos. §

Æneid. lib. vii.

+ To Forum-Appi thence we steer, a place
Stuffod with rank boatmen, and with vintners base.

FRANCIS.
§ Last, with her martial troops, all sheath'd in brass,

Camilla came, a queen of Volscian race;
Nor were the web or loom the virgin's care,
But arms and coursers, and the toils of war.
She led the rapid race, and left behind
The flagging floods, and pinions of the wind ;
Lightly she flies along the level plain,
Nor hurts the tender grass, nor bends the golden grain.

Ριιτ.

1

person were removed from the convent, one of the monks,
unwilling to allow the whole of such a precious deposite to
be carried away, determined to retain the most valuable
part, and actually cut off the saint's head, substituting a-
nother in its stead, which was carried to Thoulouse, very
nicely stitched to the body of the saint. The monk, who
was guilty of this pious fraud, hid the true head in the
wall of the convent, and died without revealing the se-
cret to any mortal. From that time the supposititious head
remained unsuspected at Thoulouse; but as impostures
are generally detected sooner or later, the venerable bre-
thren of Fossa Nuova (this happened much about the time
that the Cock-lane ghost made such a noise in London)
were disturbed with strange knockings and scratchings at
a particular part of the wall. On this noise being fre-
quently repeated, without any visible agent, and the peo-
ple of the neighbourhood having been often assembled to
hear it, the monks at length agreed to pull down part of
the wall at the place where the scratching and knocking
were always heard. This was no sooner done, than the
true head of St. Thomas Aquinas was found as fresh as
the day it was cut off;-on the vessel in which it'was con-
tained was the following inscription.

Caput divi Thomæ Aquinatis.*
And near it a paper, containing a faithful narrative of the

a
whole transaction, signed by the monk who did the deed.

Some people, not making a proper allowance for the difference between a saint's head and their own, say, this cannot possibly be the head of Thomas Aquinas, which must have putrified some centuries ago; they say, the paper is written in a character by much too modern; they say, the monks contrived the whole affair, to give an importance to their convent; they say—but what signifies what they say? In this age of incredulity, some people will say any thing. We next came to Terracina, and here I must finish

letter ; in my next I shall carry you to Naples.

• The head of Thomas Aquinas.

my

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »