« 上一頁繼續 »
pavement when the monks began to issue from an arch about half way down; and passing in a long succession from their chapel, bowed reverently, with much humility and meekness, and dispersed in silence, leaving one of their body alone in the aisle. The Father Coadjutor (for he only remained) advanced towards us with great courtesy, and welcomed us in a manner which gave me far more pleasure than all the frivolous salutations and affected greetings so common in the world beneath. After asking us a few indifferent questions, he called one of the lay brothers, who live in the convent, under less severe restrictions than the fathers, whom they serve, and ordering him to prepare our apartment, conducted us to a large square hall, with casement windows, and what was more comfortable, an enormous chimney, whose hospitable hearth blazed with a fire of dry aromatic fir, on each side of which were two doors, that communicated with the neat little cells destined for our bed-chambers.
We had hardly supped before the gates of the convent were shut; a circumstance which disconcerted me not a little, as the full moon gleamed through the casements, and the stars, sparkling above the forests of pines, invited me to leave my apartment again, and to give myself up entirely to the spectacle they offered. The coadjutor, perceiving that I was often looking earnestly through the windows, guessed my wishes ; and, calling the porter, ordered him to open the gates, and wait at them till my return. It was not long before I took advantage of this permission; and, escaping from the courts and cloisters of the monastery, all hushed in death-like stillness, ascended a green knowl, which several ancient pines strongly marked with their shadows; there, leaning against one of their trunks, I lifted up my eyes to the awful barrier of surrounding mountains, discovered by the trembling silver light of the moon, shooting directly on the woods which fringed their acclivities. The lawns, the vast woods, the steep descents, the precipices, the torrents, lay all extended beneath, softened by a pale blueish haze, that alleviated, in some measure, the stern prospect of the rocky promontories above, wrapped in dark shadows. The sky was of the deepest azure: innumerable stars were distinguished with unusual clearness from this elevation, many of which twinkled behind the fir-trees edging the promontories. White, grey, and darkish clouds came marching towards the moon, that shone full against a range of cliffs, which lift themselves far above the others. The hoarse murmur of the torrent, throwing itself from the distant wildernesses into the gloomy vales, was mingled with the blast that blew from the mountains. It increased; the forests began to wave ; black clouds arose from the north ; and, as they fleeted along, approached the moon, whose light they shortly extinguish ed. A moment of darkness succeeded; the gust was chill and melancholy; it swept along the desert, and then subsiding, the vapours began to pass away, and the moon returned ; the grandeur of the scene was
renewed, and its imposing solemnity was increased by her presence. Inspiration was in every wind.
I followed some impulse which drove me to the summit of the mountains before me; and there, casting a look on the whole extent of wild woods and romantic precipices, thought of the days of St. Bruno. I eagerly contemplated every rock that formerly might have met his eyes; drank of the spring which tradition says he was wont to drink of; and ran to every pine, whose withered appearance bespoke the most remote antiquity, and beneath which, perhaps, the Saint had reposed himself, when worn with vigils, or possessed with the sacred spirit of his institutions. It was midnight before I returned to the convent and retired to my quiet chamber, but my imagination was too much disturbed, and my spirits far too active to allow me any rest for some time. I had scarcely fallen asleep, when I was suddenly awakened by furious blast, which drove open my casement, for it was a troubled night, and let in the roar of the tempest. In the intervals of the storm, in those moments when the winds seemed to pause, the faint sounds of the choir stole upon my ear, but were swallowed
up the next instant by the redoubled fury of the gust, which was still increased by the roaring of the waters.'
Not less magnificent-to return to the early travels of 1780—is our author's account of his arrival at Rome, from Sienna—and his youthful impressions on first beholding St. Peter's.
We set out in the dark. Morning dawned over the Lago di Vico; its waters, of a deep ultra-marine blue, and its surrounding forests catching the rays of the rising sun. It was in vain I looked for the cupola of St. Peter's, upon descending the mountains beyond Viterbo. Nothing but a sea of vapours was visible.
• At length they rolled away, and the spacious plains began to show themselves, in which the most warlike of nations reared their seat of empire. On the left, afar off, rises the rugged chain of Apennines, and on the other side, a shining expanse of ocean terminates the view. I te was upon this vast surface so many illustrious actions were performed, and I know not where a mighty people could have chosen a grander theatre. Here were space for the march of armies, and verge enough for encampments ; levels for martial games, and room for that variety of roads and causeways, that led from the capital to Ostia. How many triumphant legions have trodden these pavements ! how many captive kings! What throngs of cars and chariots once glittered on their surface! savage animals dragged from the interior of Africa, and the ambassadors of Indian princes, followed by their exotic train, hastening to implore the favour of the senate. During many ages, this eminence commanded almost every day such illustrious scenes, but all are vanished; the splendid tumult is passed away; silence and desolation remain. Dreary flats, thinly scattered over with ilex, and barren hillocks crowned by solitary towers, were the only objects we
perceived for several miles. Now and then, we passed a few black, ill-favoured sheep straggling by the way's side, near a ruined sėpulchre, just such animals as an ancient would have sacrificed to the manes. Sometimes we crossed a brook, whose ripplings were the only sounds which broke the general stillness, and observed the shepherd's huts on its banks, propped up with broken pedestals and marble friezes. I entered one of them, whose owner was abroad, tending his herd, and began writing upon the sand, and murmuring a melancholy song, Perhaps the dead listened to me from their narrowed cells. The living I can answer for they were far enough removed.
• You will not be surprised at the dark tone of my musings in so sad a scene; especially as the weather lowered, and you are well acquainted how greatly I depend upon skies and sunshine. To-day I had no blue firmament to revive my spirits; no genial gales, no aromatic plants to irritate my nerves, and lend at least a momentary animation. Heath and a greyish kind of moss are the sole vegetation which covers this endless wilderness. Every slope is strewed with the relics of a happier period ; trunks of trees, shattered columns, cedar beams, helmets of bronze, skulls, and coins, are frequently dug up together.
I cannot boast of having made any discoveries, nor of sending you any novel intelligence. You knew before how perfectly the environs of Rome were desolate, and how completely the papal government contrives to make its subjects miserable. But who knows that they were not just as wretched in those boasted times we are so fond of celebrating? All is doubt and conjecture in this frail existence, and I might as well attempt proving to whom belonged the mouldering bones which lay dispersed around me, as venture to affirm that one age is more fortunate than another. Very likely the poor cottager under whose roof I reposed is happier than the luxurious Roman, upon the remains of whose palace, perhaps, his shed is raised; and yet that Roman flourished in the purple days of the empire, when all was wealth and splendour, triumph and exultation. I could have spent the whole day by the rivulet, lost in dreams and meditations, but recollecting my vow, I ran back to the carriage and drove on. The road not having been mended, I believe, since the days of the Cæsars, would not allow our motions to be very precipitate.
66 When you gain the summit of yonder hill, you will discover Rome," said one of the postilions ; up we dragged, no city appeared. “From the next," cried out a second, and so on, from height to height, did they amuse my expectations. I thought Rome fled before us, such was my impatience; till, at last, we perceived a cluster of hills with green pastures on their summits, inclosed by thickets, and shaded by flourished ilex. Here and there a white house, built in the antique style, with open porticos, that received a faint gleam of the evening sun, just emerged from the clouds and tinting the meads below. Now domes and towers began to discover themselves in the valley, and St. Peter's to rise above the magnificent roofs of the Vatican. Every step we VOL, LI. NO, CII.
advanced the scene extended, till, winding suddenly round the hill, all Rome opened to our view.
Shall I ever forget the sensations I experienced upon slowly descending the hills, and crossing the bridge over the Tiber? When I entered an avenue between terraces and ornamented gates of villas, which leads to the Porto del Popolo, and beheld the square, the domes, the obelisk, the long perspective of streets and palaces opening beyond, all glowing with the vivid red of sunset, you can imagine how I enjoyed my beloved tint, my favourite hour, surrounded by such objects. You can fancy me ascending Monte Cavallo, leaning against the pedestal which supports Bucephalus ; then, spite of time and distance, hurrying to St. Peter's in performance of my vow.
• I met the Holy Father, in all his pomp, returning from vespers -trumpets fourishing, and a troop of guards drawn out upon Ponte St. Angelo. Casting a respectful glance upon the Moles Adriani, I moved on, till the full sweep of St. Peter's colonnade opened upon
The edifice appears to have been raised within the year, such is its freshness and preservation. I could hardly take my eyes from off the beautiful symmetry of its front, contrasted with the magnificent though irregular courts of the Vatican, towering over the colonnade, till, the sun sinking behind the dome, I ran up the steps, and entered the grand portal, which was on the very point of being closed.
• I knew not where I was, or to what scene transported; a sacred twilight concealing the extremities of the structure, I could not distinguish any particular ornament, but enjoyed the effect of the whole. No damp air, or foetid exhalation offended me. The perfume of incense was not yet entirely dissipated. No human being stirred. I heard a door close with the sound of thunder, and thought I distinguished some faint whisperings, but am ignorant whence they came. Several hundred lamps twinkled round the high altar, quite lost in the immensity of the pile. No other light disturbed my reveries, but the dying glow, still visible through the western windows. Imagine how I felt upon finding myself alone in this vast temple, at so late an hour. Do you think I quitted it without some revelation ?
It was almost eight o'clock before I issued forth, and pausing a few minutes under the porticos, listened to the rush of the fountains. Then traversing half the town, I believe, in my way to the Villa Medici, under which I am lodged, fell into a profound repose, which my zeal and exercise may be allowed, I think, to have merited.
October 30th.-Immediately after breakfast I repaired again to St. Peter's, which even exceeded the height of my expectations. I could hardly quit it. I wished his holiness would allow me to erect a little tabernacle within this glorious temple. I should desire no other prospect during the winter; no other sky than the vast arches glowing with golden ornaments, so lofty as to lose all glitter or gaudiness. But I cannot say I should be perfectly contented, unless I could obtain another tabernacle for you. Thus established, we would take our evening walks on the field of marble; for is not the pavement vast
enough for the extravagance of the appellation? Sometimes, instead of climbing a mountain, we should ascend the cupola, and look down on our little encampment below. At night I should wish for a constellation of lamps dispersed about in clusters, and so contrived as to diffuse a mild and equal light. Music should not be wanting; at one time to breathe in the subterraneous chapels, at another to echo through the dome."
The future creator of Fonthill is apparent in these last paragraphs; or should we not rather say, the former creator of the · Palais des Sens ?' We must now pass on to Mr. Beckford's long and interesting series of letters from his favourite Portugal, where, as is well known, he for many years fixed his residence :
• Here didst thou dwell, here schemes of pleasure plan,
Beneath yon mountain's ever-beauteous brow;
Thy fairy dwelling is as lone as thou !" One of his first visits, on reaching Lisbon, was to the palace of the old Marquis of Marialva, with whose family he soon formed relations of the most intimate friendship :
• The court-yard, filled with shabby two-wheeled chaises, put me in mind of the entrance of a French post-house ; a recollection not weakened by the sight of several ample heaps of manure, between which we made the best of our way up the great staircase, and had near tumbled over a swinging sow and her numerous progeny, which escaped from under Mr. Horn's legs, with bitter squeakings.
• This hubbub announced our arrival, so out came the grand prior, his nephew, the old abade, and a troop of domestics. All great Portuguese families are infested with herds of these in general illfavoured dependants, and none more than the Marialvas, who dole out every day three hundred portions, at least, of rice and other eatables, to as many greedy devourers.
• The grand prior had shed his pontifical garments, and did the honours of the house, and conducted us with much agility all over the apartments, and through the manège, where the old marquis his brother, though at a very advanced age, displays feats of the most consummate horsemanship. He seems to have a decided taste for clocks, compasses, and timekeepers; I counted no less than ten in his bed-chamber, four or five in full swing, making a loud hissing ; they were chiming and striking away (for it was exactly six) when I followed my conductor up and down half-a-dozen staircases, into a saloon hung with rusty damask.
• A table in the centre of this antiquated apartment was covered with rarities brought forth for our inspection: curious shell-work, ivory crucifixes, models of ships, housings embroidered with feathers, and the Lord knows what besides, stinking of camphor enough to knock one down. • Whilst we were staring with all our eyes, and holding our hand2 2