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ants, occupy a portion of the Vatican, while the remainder of it is little else than one vast museum, or rather succession of splendid halls and galleries, filled with the largest collection of the most rare, ancient, and valuable specimens of the fine arts, which the world contains. A writer who had travelled through Europe, and seen most that its larger cities contain, thus speaks of the splendid treasures which adorn the sumptuous saloons of the Vatican : “In comparison with this display of papal magnificence, the halls of the Louvre, at Paris, the galleries of Florence, and the Studii, at Naples, are bul toyshops. There are not less than fifty apartments, or more properly superb temples of the arts, of various sizes, and the most beautiful forms; sometimes opening immediately into one another, and at others connected by long corridors, presenting the finest vistas imaginable, with pavements of the richest mosaic, walls lined with pillars of porphyry, alabaster, and Parian marble, and roofs bright with azure and gold, all filled with the choicest collections of antiquities, sculptures, busts, and statues. Several visits are required to catch even a hasty glance at the innumerable objects which challenge attention, and bewilder the mind of the spectator." In addition to this, the Vatican Library occupies a number of long and richly ornamented halls, containing a large amount of the intellectual treasures of past generations.
Rome is to the scholar, much the same as Jerusalem and Mecca are to the Christian and Mahometan. It is to him, not merely a place once noble alike in learning, in arts, and in arms; a place of ruined grandeur, and of fallen greatness. It has a higher and a stronger claim upon him ; for genius has there spread abroad her magic influence, until every river and fountain, every hill-side, mountain, and valley around, seems a living chronicle of the past, recalling to the mind a thousand tales of love and poetry, of war and bloodshed, of joyous transport and subduing anguish, of splendid triumphs, of noble daring, and still nobler sacrifice of property, and all but honor, for a nation's weal. There lived those, who huve furnished to the scholar some of his richest and most exciting subjects of thought, thus arousing his mind to effort, and perchance giving shape and coloring to his whole character. The images thus impressed upon the soul, in our early years how they follow us in after life, and how freshly and vividly do they rise again before us, when reviewing the
descriptions, on beholding the objects which first excited them. And well indeed is it for him, who has drank deeply at the fountain of the classics, if he has not drawn from thence the exciting, but bitter draughts of vain and misplaced ambitiou, leading him so to misjudge respecting his duty, and his talents, as eagerly to engage in pursuing some bright and airy phantom of pleasure or renown, which “ leads to bewilder, and dazzles to blind,” thus neglecting the more solid and useful ends of his being, and reaping, at last, the anguish of blighted prospects and of ruined hopes. Well is it for him, too, if, when studying the character and actions of the heroes of antiquity, the enthusiasm of youthful admiration has not blinded his eyes to their vices, and led him to place a higher value on the daring and chivalrous, yet selfish, haughty, and vindictive prowess and ambition of the hero, than on the humble and self-denying, yet noble and Godlike virtues of the Christian.
But be these things as they may, still I envy not the feelings of that man, who can look without emotion upon the broken aqueducts, the decaying walls, the fallen columns, and the ruined temples of Rome; who can coolly wander amid those lofty tombs, which once held the ashes of royalty, now scattered to the winds, or idly gaze upon those Obelisks of everlasting granite, which, first reared in the land of the pyramids, tell, in mystic characters, of the valor and greatness of those who lived while mankind were yet in their infancy. There is food for thought, too, in watching the rapid flow of the Tiber,— the yellow, or rather the claycolored Tiber. What untold multitudes, of almost every age and nation since the flood, have stood upon her banks, and viewed her onward course. What streams of human blood have stained her waters, and what endless treasures now enrich her bed. How often has the fate of empire, and of mighty conquerors and monarchs, been there decided. The battle of the Milvian bridge, in which Maxentius was conquered by Constantine, resulted in making Christianity the state religion of the Roman empire, and, by leading her to exchange the two-edged sword of the Spirit, which had ever proved so quick and powerful, for the weak and inef. ficient weapons of mere human strength and wisdom, robbed' her of her former might and glory. Thus her before unsullied purity and splendor was dimmed, and veiled by more
than midnight darkness, and for long, long centuries, she found that civil power was but a broken reed, which, as she leaned upon it, pierced her to the heart.
But here let us turn again for a moment to the Vatican. The collection of sculpture and statuary there is immense. It consists of gods, men, and animals, in every variety of form and attitude of which the mind can conceive, and the productions of every age, from the infancy of Egyptian, Grecian, and Etruscan art, down to the present day. Among the most celebrated of these, are the Apollo Belvidere, and Laocoon, the priest of Troy, and his two sons, writhing in the folds of two huge serpents, who are at once crushing the wretched sufferers, and fixing their deadly fangs in their flesh. It is enough to say of this group, that no one denies that it is the finest statuary in the world; while to the scholar there is peculiar interest in the fact, that Virgil probably derived from it the inspiration which fired his soul, when writing the graphic and animated story which it so finely represents. Pliny says, that it was made by three artists of Rhodes, about four hundred years before the Christian era. He speaks of it as being in the palace of Titus, and it was found in his baths during the popedom of Julius the Second, in the 16th century. The Apollo Belvidere is the vivid personification of manly grace and beauty, and seems instinct with life,— with high intelligence, and noble and heroic feeling. The arrow has just escaped from the bow which he holds in his hand, and he is watching its effect, with form elate and dignified, as if prepared to tread the air beneath his feet, with all the joy of conscious triumph. In looking at this splendid statue, one does not wonder at the story which is told of the maid of France, who gazed upon it till she lost her heart and reason, and then, day after day, she visited it, until, of very sickness of the soul, she pined away and died. Still, many are at first more struck with the Boxers, and the Perseus of Canova. They have more striking attitudes, and a bolder developement of muscle, than the Apollo Belvidere. This, together with the strong expression of excited passions, gives them the advantage of making at once a deep impression on the mind, while the elevated and more intellectual grace and beauty of the god of poesy and light, require a longer time in order to be fully perceived, and to spread the influence of their delightful enchantment alike over the senses and the feelings of the soul. The atti
tude of the Boxers is extremely fine. One of them has by agreement given the other the advantage of position, and on his countenance is stamped the deep anxiety of a man of intellect and feeling, who is conscious of having committed a fatal error, and that his honor and his life must be the sacrifice. The assailant, on the other hand, is more compact and strongly built, and is a personification of mere brutal force and passion. The statue of Perseus, holding in his hand the head of the Gorgan Medusa, is a noble specimen of the arts. The lines of anguish and of death, so deeply drawn upon the face of the victin, and the mingled air of triumph, deadly hate, and satisfied revenge, which mark the conqueror, is exquisitely done.
But the collection of sculpture in which I was most interested of any in Rome, was that of the numerous marble busts of the philosophers, heroes, poets, kings, and emperors of ancient Greece and Rome, which is placed in the Museum on the Capitoline hill. As these are of high antiquity, and many of them were doubtless taken from real life, they furnish a delightful study to the scholar, and a long time might be spent in tracing out the resemblance, which, upon minute inspection, is more or less striking, between the features and expressions of countenance which distinguish these busts, and the known character of those whom they represent.
And here, if a direct allusion to one's self may be pardoned, I would remark, that such criticism on painting and statuary as this work contains, is not founded on any knowledge of the principles and technicalities of the fine arts, but is the result of some years' intercourse with the deaf and dumb, and experience in teaching them. As in this employment, attitudes, signs, and expressions of countenance, occupy the whole ground of spoken language, with all its variety of inflexions and shades of ideas, one is forced into the habit of closely inspecting and nicely discriminating the evanescent traces of thought and feeling, which are thus shadowed forth. The teacher, too, should examine the results of others' labors, and study well the anatomy of expression, the framework and the action of those nerves and muscles, which give to man that rich and endless variety of means for making known his thoughts and wishes without the use of speech. Thus one forms an acquired taste, founded, indeed, on nature, but which, neglecting the nice
ties of style and execution of shade and coloring, fixes mainly on the merits of attitude and expression, and there finds its highest interest and delight.
The most ancient manuscripts in the Vatican Library, are supposed to have been collected by Pope Hilarius in the fifth century, and placed in the Lateran palace. To this collection, Nicolas the Fifth added more than five thousand others, and placed the whole in the Vatican. The superb apartments, now occupied by the library, were built by Sextus the Fifth, and contain forty thousand manuscripts and a large collection of curiosities and of rare and valuable books. There are three lofty halls, or galleries, with noble columns, and the walls and the ceiling of the roof are adorned with frescoes and gilding. A hall, two hundred feet in length and fifty in breadth, leads into another little less than half a mile long, which presents a rare combination of richness, beauty, and splendor. The books are most of them in presses where they cannot be seen, but the more modern works have glass doors in front of the cases which contain them.
The history of the Popes of Rome, from the first origin of their influence as the simple pastors or bishops of a single metropolitan church, down through the days of their more than princely might and power to the present time, has been one of singular and eventful interest. The reflections suggested by visiting St. Peter's and the Vatican, the place of the peculiar presence of the Roman pontiffs, from whence the voice of their authority has issued, and the thunderbolts of their wrath have been hurled, make it proper to give a brief and connected view of those onward strides to greatness, which ended in making them not merely the pretended Vicegerents of the Most High, but, as Paul describes them, exalting themselves above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that, as God, they sat in the temple of God, claiming to be God. Thus a ground-work may be laid for such remarks as may hereafter be made, respecting the present character, opinions, influence, and practices of the Church of Rome, as compared with those of past ages. My impressions on these subjects have been derived from observing and intelligent men in Catholic countries, and also from the works of Catholic writers collected in Rome, Naples, and other parts of Southern Europe.
And here it is not necessary to notice, in detail, the various VOL. I.