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Rome.

283

CHAPTER XVII.

ROME, REFLECTIONS ON-ST. PETER'S-PIAZZA-COLONNADES -EGYPTIAN OBELISK-FOUNTAINS VESTIBULE-PORTA TOMB OF ST. PETER

SANTA-INTERIOR-DIMENSIONS

HIGH ALTAR-CUPOLA-MONUMENTS-ST. PETER'S STATUE -HISTORY OF ITS ERECTION-OBSERVATIONS-THEATRE OF MARCELLUS-JULIA, DAUGHTER OF AUGUSTUS-CHURCH OF

ST. PAUL (WITHOUT THE WALLS)-DITTO OF ST. SEBASTIAN -MIRACLE-CATACOMBS-TOMB OF CECILIA METELLA, AND POETICAL FICTION-TOMB OF THE SCIPIOS-FOUNTAIN OF EGERIA NUMA POMPILIUS-CIRCUS OF CARACALLA-CHARIOTEERING, &c.-CANOVA, AND HIS SCULPTURES-PERSEUS -CREUGAS, AND DAMOXENUS-THORWALDSON, AND COM◄ PARISON WITH CANOVA-PROCESS OF SCULPTURE.

ROME!

How varied, and overwhelming, the reflections that arise in this, the Eternal, City! The grand, the imposing, the stupendous, relics of the once greatest nation upon earth, which existeth no more!-the receptacle, the hallowed temple still of the noblest efforts, and attainments, that modern art has perfected! the Throne where the Holy Church displays her supremacy in the Papal power; whose Sovereign Pontiff, with his triple, mysterious, crown, has deemed even kings but as his vassals; and who still claims, as successor of St. Peter, the primacy of honour and authority, and dominion, throughout the entire Christian world!

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In ranging through Roman monuments it were difficult for me to say which feeling most predominates,-admiration of her works of immortal art; admiration of the nation which raised them ; or sorrow for her downfal, mixed with horror of the Barbarian invaders who wilfully and sacrilegiously destroyed her and her trophies! Twenty-five hundred years, and more, have revolved;-nations, and monarchs, have risen and sunk;-time has annihilated intermediate records, and events;-Rome has been pillaged, burnt, sacked, destroyed, and mouldered by the more destructive waste of passing

centuries.

"Some felt the silent stroke of mouldering age,
Some, hostile fury, some, religious rage;
Barbarian blindness, Christian zeal conspire,

And Papal piety, and Gothic fire."-(Pope.)

Yet still she remains in solemn, venerable, eternal, grandeur !

However, let us waive further mournful reflection. Hitherto, in entering a city of note, I have given a summary of its history. Of Rome, this were superfluous, and as, in speaking of its antiquities, I shall aim at recording some slight historical accounts connected with them, these may suffice instead of a regular, chronological, detail.

ST. PETER'S. The noblest, the grandest, the most sumptuous, temple ever raised by man for the adoration of the Supreme God; and which,

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great as were the glories of ancient Rome, and famed as was the temple of Jerusalem, rivals any, the proudest, record upon earth.

This Cathedral is built in a Piazza, supposed to have formed part of Nero's Circus where he formerly exhibited publicly his skill in charioteering, and where afterwards Christian Saints were martyred; the piazza, or square, is bounded by Colonnades which sweep on either hand in a semicircular form up to the portico of the temple. This range comprises 284 Doric columns, and 88 pilasters; their height is 61 feet; intermediate breadth 56; while they form on each side a triple portico, the central one sufficiently wide to admit two carriages a-breast. The entablature that surmounts them has a balustrade adorned with 192 Statues, each of the height of 11 feet.

In the middle of this immense piazza is elevated an Egyptian Obelisk of red granite, remarkable as one of the very few of these vestiges of antiquity that remain entire: its own height is seventy-eight feet, but including its base it reaches to 124. Originally erected at Heliopolis by Nuncoreus, son of Sesostris, King of Egypt, it was transported to Rome by order of Caligula, and afterwards removed to its present site, in front of St. Peter's, by direction of Pope Sixtus V. Some idea of its vast weight may be formed by the knowledge that Fontana employed four months' labour, and the

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power of forty-one machines, 800 men, and 160 horses applied at the same instant, to raise it from the ground wherein it had sunk, and to move it, though a distance of only 300 paces, from the spot where now is the vestry, although the yet greater difficulty was to raise it upon the pedestal where it at present stands :-the expense of these operations exceeded 200,000 francs.

On each side of the Obelisk are two Fountains of beautiful design. Perpetually throwing a column of water, nine feet high, reflecting, when the sun shines upon the sparkling spray, all the colours of the rainbow: the waters fall gracefully into a basin of Oriental granite, of fifty feet circumference, and thence into a deeper of eighty-nine feet.

Exquisite contrast! We gaze with awe upon the ponderous Obelisk; we would fain fathom its hidden mysterious meanings. We view it imperishable, vast, profound! enduring still since the remotest ages! We look at the Fountains, the ear soothed by their murmurs; the balmy air refreshed by their playful agitations; the eye delighted by their sparkling coruscations! Nature ever young, and fresh!

The façade of the church executed by Carlo Maderno, rises to the height of 150 feet; its Corinthian columns are eight feet, three inches in diameter, and eighty-eight feet high, while on the balustrade that surmounts the attic are thirteen statues, each seven

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teen feet in height, personifying Christ, and his twelve Apostles.

- The magnificent Portico, or Vestibule, fit approach to such a temple, is 439 feet long, 37 broad, and 62 high; its columns are marble, its ceiling richly gilt, and it is terminated on either end by an Equestrian Statue of Constantine, and Charlemagne.

Five doors conduct to the interior; the principal being adorned with bassi rilievi in bronze; here is La Porta Santa, or Holy Door now shut, and opened but once in twenty-five years,-at the time of the Jubilee, the institution of Boniface VIII, originally commemorated but once in a century, yet subsequently, from the cupidity of successive Pontiffs, celebrated four times in that period. On this great occasion the Holy Door is thrown down, the Pope first passes through; but the crowds which throng after him stop, ere they pass, devoutly to scramble for the broken bits of brick, and mortar, that tumble from the surrounding wall. In this door is inserted a bronze Cross, an object of great general devotion, as those who enter the church from religious motives, previously reverently kiss it.

But it was on first entering the sacred edifice that I was dumb with astonishment; its grandeur, sublimity, simplicity, and magnificence, seize the soul; we seem struck with the consciousness of our own insignificance; of our inability to conceive

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