Page images
PDF
EPUB

LETTER LIV.

Naples. Terracina, formerly called Anxur, was the capital of the warlike Volsci.* The principal church was originally a temple of Jupiter, who was supposed to have a partiality for this town, and the country around it. Virgil calls him Jupiter Anxurus. Enumerating the troops who came to support the cause of Turnus, he mentions those who plough the Rutulian hills,–

Circeumque jugum ; queis Jupiter Anxurus arvis
Præsidet, et viridi gaudens Feronia luco :

Qua saturæ jacet atra palus, &c.t Near this place we fell in again with the Appian way, and beheld, with astonishment, the depth of rock that has here been cut, to render it more convenient for passengers. This famous road is a paved causeway, begun

. in the year of Rome 441, by Appius Claudius Cæcus the censor, and carried all the way from Rome to Capua. It would be superfluous to insist on the substantial manner in which it has been originally made, since it still remains in many places. Though travellers are now obliged to make a circuit by Casa Nuova and Piperno, the Via Appia was originally made in a straight line through the Palude Pontine, or Palus Pomptina, as that vást marsh was anciently called : it is the Atra Palus above mentioned, in the lines quoted from Virgil. That part of the Appian road is now quite impassable, from the augmentation of this noxious marsh, whose exhalations are disagreeable to passengers, and near which it is dangerous to sleep a single night.

Anxur fuit quæ nunc Terracinæ sunt; urbs prona in paludes.

Tit. Liv. lib. iv, + And the steep hills of Circe stretch around,

Where fair Feronia boasts her stately grove,
And Anxur glories in her guardian Jove,
Where stands the Pontine lake..

Рутт.

,

[ocr errors]

Keysler and some others say, that Appius made this road at his own expense. I do not know on what authority they make this assertion ; but, whatever their authority may be, the thing is incredible. Could a Roman citizen, at a period when the inhabitants of Rome were not rich, bear an expense which we are surprised that even the state itself could support? Though this famous road has received its name from Appius, I can hardly imagine it was completed by him. The distance from Rome to Capua is above one hundred and thirty miles ; a prodigi, ous length for such a road as this to have been made, during the short course of one censorship; for a man could be censor only once in his life. This was an office of very great dignity; no person could enjoy it till he had previously been consul. It was originally held for five years; but, a hundred years before the time of Appius, the term was abridged to eighteen months. He, however, who, as Livy tells us, possessed all the pride and obstinacy of his family, refused to quit the censorship at the end of that period : and, in spite of all the efforts of the tribunes, continued three years and a half beyond the term to which the office had been restricted by the Æmilian law. But even five years is a very short

a time for so great a work; yet this was not the only work he carried on during his censorship. "Viam munivit,

6. says the historian, et aquam in urbem duxit.' The Appian road was carried on, afterwards, from Capua to Brundusium, and was probably completed so far, in the time of Horace; as appears by this verse, in one of his epistles addressed. to Lollius,

Brundusjum Numici melius via ducat, an Appi.* Terracina is the last town of the ecclesiastical, and Fundi the first of the Neapolitan, dominions. This last town stands on a plain, sheltered by hills, which is seldom the case with Italian towns: it probably derives its name from its situation. There is nothing very, attractive in

6

• Whether is best to go by the Numician or Appian way to Brundu.

sium ?

this place, now, more than in Horace's time; so we left it as willingly as he did,

Fundos Aufidio Lusco Prætore libenter.

Linquimus. Continuing our route, partly on the Appian way, we came to Mola di Gaeta, a town built on the ruins of the ancient Formiæ. Horace compliments Ælius Lamia, on his being descended from the first founder of this city,

Auctore ab illo ducis originem,
Qui Formiarum mcenia dicitur,

Princcps. + The same poet puts the wine, made from the grapes of the Formian hills, on a footing with the Falernian,

mea nec Falernæ Temperant vites, neque Formiani

Pocula colles. Cicero had a villa near this place; and it was on this coast where that great orator was murdered in his litter, as he was endeavouring to make his escape to Greece. The fortress of Gaeta is built on a promontory, about tbree miles from Mola; but travellers, who have the curiosity to go to the former, generally cross the gulf between the two; and immediately, as the most remarkable thing in the place, they are shewn a great cleft in a rock, and informed that it was miraculously split in this manner at the death of our Saviour. To put this beyond doubt, they shew, at the same time, something like the impression of a man's hand on the rock, of which the following account is given.—A certain person having been told on what occasion the rent took place, struck the palm of his hand on the marble, declaring he could no more believe their story, than that his hand would leave its stamp on the rock; on which, to the terror and confusion of this

a

а

. We willingly leave Fundi, 'where Aufidius Luscus is chief magis, trate.

+ From whom the illustrious race arose,

Who first possess'd the Formian towers. FRANCIS. I My cups are neither enriched with the juice of the Falernian grapes nor that of those from the Formian hills.

a

infidel, the stone yielded like wax, and the impression remains till this day.

Nothing is so injurious to the cause of truth, as attempts to support it by fiction. Many evidences of the justness of this observation occur in the course of a tour through Italy. That mountains were rent at the death of our Saviour, we know from the New Testament; but, as none of them are there particularized, it is presumptu. ous in others to imagine they can point out what the Evangelists have thought proper to conceal.

This rock, however, is much resorted to by pilgrims; and the tartanes, and other vessels, often touch there, that the seamen may be provided with little pieces of marble, which they earnestly request may be taken as near the fissure as possible. These they wear constantly in their pockets, in case of shipwreck, from a persuasion, that they are a more certain preservative from drowning, than a cork jacket. Some of these poor people have the misfortune to be drowned notwithstanding; but the sacred marble loses none of its reputation on that account.

Such accidents are always imputed to the weight of the unfortunate person's sins, which have sunk him to the bottom, in spite of all the efforts of the marble to keep him above water; and it is allowed on all hands, that a man so oppressed with iniquity, as to be drowned with a piece of this marble in his pocket, would have sunk much sooner, if, instead of that, he had had nothing to keep him up but a cork jacket.

Strangers are next led to the castle, and are shewn', with some other curiosities, the skeleton of the famous Bourbon, constable of France, who was killed in the service of the emperor Charles V, as he scaled the walls of Rome.

It is remarkable that France, a nation which values itself so much on an affectionate attachment to its princes, and places loyalty at the head of the virtues, should have produced, in the course of the two last centuries so many illustrious rebels : Bourbon, Coligni, Guise, Turenne, and the Condés; all of them were, at some period, of their lives, in arms against their sovereign.

That it is the duty of subjects to preserve their allegiance, however unjustly and tyrannically their prince may conduct himself, is one of the most debasing and absurd doctrines that ever was obtruded on the understanding of mankind. When Francis forgot the services which the gallant Bourbon had rendered him at Mirignan ; when, by repeated acts of oppression, he forgot the duty of a king ; Bourbon spurned at his allegiance, as a subject. The Spanish nobleman, who declared that he would pull down his house, if Bourbon should be allowed to lodge in it, either never had heard of the injurious treatment which that gallant soldier had received, or he betrayed the sentiments of a slave, and meant to insinuate his own implicit loyalty to the emperor. Mankind in general have a partiality for princes. The senses are imposed on by the splendour which surrounds them; and the respect due to the office of a king, is naturally converted into an affection for his person; there must therefore be something highly unpopular in the character of the monarch, and highly oppressive in the measures of government, before people can be excited to rebellion. Subjects seldom rise through a desire of attacking, but rather from an impatience of suffering. Where men are under the yoke of feudal lords, who can force them to fight in any cause, it may be otherwise ; but when general discontent pervades a free people, and when, in consequence of this, they take arms against their prince, they must have justice on their side. The highest compliment which subjects can pay, and the best service they can render, to a good prince, is, to behave in such a manner, as to convince him that they would rebel against a bad one.

From Mola we were conducted by the Appian way, over the fertile fields washed by the silent Liris.

-Rura quæ Liris quieta
Mordet aqua, taciturnus amnis.*

The rich fields that Liris laves
And eats away with silent waves. FRANCIS.

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »