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related: This saint expressed great charity towards two famous robbers on the highway, who were pursued by some officers of justice; they asked the saint whether he had seen these two criminals passing that way? No, quoth he, they did not pass this way: he had at that time his finger in his sleeve, through which, his meaning was, that the robbers had not passed; and the officers giving credit to his words, ceased from pursuing them, by which means they had the opportunity to make their escape."
Several old cardinals' hats are hung up in the church: that must be a carnal mind which can contemplate the twelve tassels on each side of a cardinal's hat without thinking of the twelve apostles. I was induced to see the sacristy, where three priests showed me many embroidered garments, silver statues, much plate, and real or artificial jewels; some reliques of the Apostles, of which they were weak enough to be ashamed, for they did not tell me of what they consisted, and some reliques of the dresses of the Blessed Virgin, of which they appeared to be proud; there were six or seven pieces of brocade and satin enclosed in crystal cases at the end of the branches of a silver stand, like a candlestick; the patterns of handsome oldfashioned holiday gowns, except the one at the top, which must have been a morning dress, for pickling and preserving, and household works, for it was of a most economical kind; it was a gingham that had been bought in a cheap shop in Holborn for fourpence or sixpence a yard.
We visited a church, which is said to have been a temple of Hercules, and near it in the street we viewed a range of ancient columns. We visited also the old cathedral, which is interesting for many antiquities, and more especially as it is said to be the Basilica, in which the celebrated bishop and father of the church, St. Ambrose, officiated in the fourth century; a person less disreputable than many of the fathers of the church, being a lawyer, a gentleman, and a person of some learning and eloquence: he was a great champion of the church, and maintained successfully against a very distinguished man, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, the prefect of Rome, the famous contest about repairing the altar of victory, which was in fact a mode of trying the great question, whether the heathen religion should be restored. He gained for the church on this spot a glorious triumph, by refusing admittance to the Emperor Theodosius, and fairly excluding him from this very cathedral, and shutting this very door, as it is said, in his face, when he attempted to enter for the purpose of receiving the sacrament. Taking advantage very artfully of the emperor's unpopularity in consequence of a massacre which had occurred, in rashly endeavouring to put a stop to an insurrection in Thessalonica, he stoutly insisted upon repentance; the lordly saint having satisfied himself that the contrition was sincere, or having sated his appetite for secular power, about a year after admitted his imperial penitent to a participation in the mysterious rites, for which he still longed.
The ladies of Milan have lately fitted up in an expensive style, by subscription, the chapel of the sister of St. Ambrose, St. Marcellina; I sincerely hope that the fair saint will repay them soon in such a manner as will be most agreeable to all.
Wednesday, Oct. 19th. We were detained at the gate about our
passports; in going out of the city on foot, we took occasion to scold the fellows. At nine we got on board a good boat on the fine canal which leads from the Lago Maggiore to Milan, and from thence to Pavia; it is wide and good; but between Milan and Pavia there are eight locks, and most of them have a great fall of water. Our party consisted of an old lady, who was reading the Donna Desterrada, a romance, which she said was as old as Rome; and a family returning to Pavia from a visit to an aunt at Milan. The father and mother read their breviaries pretty steadily, the two daughters were employed in knitting; they justified in one respect at least the reserve, the contegno riservato, which the guide-books attribute to the ladies at Pavia, as their distinguishing characteristic; the mother scolded her daughters for having walked with their father the preceding evening in the streets of Milan in the twilight; they excused themselves by saying, that they were so much wrapped up that they could not be known: but this did not pacify the old lady.
However extensive the knowledge of the father might be on other subjects, it was not great in geography; amongst many absurdities about England, he remarked, that it must be a high gratification to walk down to the sea-shore, and to look across the sea at Gibraltar, and to reflect that it belongs to the English.
We arrived at three, and were detained some minutes at the gate for our passports; the people were scolded, and deservedly, for they had our passports again from the inn; and in quitting Pavia, I was again detained by a dunce who could neither read nor write, but who required me to write my name and description in a book myself.
The museum of anatomy is most admirable; whilst we were considering the various objects, an Italian lady and gentleman entered; I expected certainly to see her withdraw, when she found that the collection was more excellent than select; she was a calm, grave, goodlooking woman of thirty-five, and examined every thing minutely; when the keeper of the museum pointed out to her, as to a scientific person, the most secret of nature's mysteries, she drew near, and contemplated them with a quiet and profound attention.
The unfinished cathedral is large and handsome; its belfry, or tower, stands at a distance, and there is a house between them to keep the peace: I like this independence in a tower; the devil take the church, it seems to say, here stand I! The aspect of this crazy old city, the ancient capital of the Lombards, is interesting; and the vestiges of this Scandinavian nation, called, from the extreme length of their beards, longobardi, as their historian, Paulus Diaconus, himself a Lombard, and doubtless bearded like a billy-goat, informs us; a people who, as the same hairy writer tells us, governed with so much equity and moderation, that most other nations envied the happiness of those who lived under them: the names Luitprand and Hildebrand, Clodisvinta and Helmichild, are a little out of the common way, to say nothing of Gaitelyrima, which is said to have been " nomen fœminæ apud Langobardos;" it would be charming to find amongst the reserved females of the Langobardic metropolis, a lovely nymph of the latter name, and tenderly to address her-my dearest Gaitelyrima.
Thursday, Oct. 20th.-We drove in an open carriage to the Certosa, a church and convent of the Carthusians, near Pavia; the
country on all sides is sandy, and quite flat, but fertile and wellwooded, so fertile indeed, that it is called the garden of the Milanese. The outside has the appearance of a mosque rather than of a church: the west front is carved in a surprising manner, its excessive richness astonishes; the inside surpasses all that one can dream or imagine of costly decoration. The roof is painted with various patterns, the walls with fine frescos; there are oil-paintings in all the side-chapels, and the altars are inlaid with precious stones set in white marble, or richly carved in relief; the transept, choir, and especially the high altar, are adorned in like manner, and statues and monuments abound. If any thing is unworthy the edifice it is the pavement; if it were well tessellated it would be perfect. This church is also interesting historically, for Francis I. of France, after his defeat at the battle of Pavia, came here to surrender himself. It rained a little as we returned; I had not experienced the inconvenience of a shower since I quitted Geneva.
The university of Pavia is a spacious and noble building; the museum of natural history is very good. As it was the vacation, we could not find the other keepers to show us the remaining collections: we stumbled by chance upon the hospital-there are one thousand eight hundred beds; every thing seemed clean and well arranged. There are many tall brick towers, in which the ancient nobility were besieged by one another in the good old feudal times; they must be of considerable antiquity, yet the holes of the scaffolding still remain. The church of St. Michael, in which the Lombard kings were crowned, is, both within and without, a specimen of pure Saxon architecture, which is the rudest and most clumsy mode of ornamenting a building; the relief is so small, the profile so flat, that it produces an appearance of meanness; there is nevertheless something handsome in the general effect.
In the south transept, in a glass case, there is a metal image of the Saviour on the cross: the inscription on the wall records, that when a neighbouring monastery was suppressed the image was removed hither, and that an inscription on the image relates that it was made by Agbarus, king of Assyria the year in which Christ was crucified. Agbarus, alias Abgarus, alias Abugarus, was a king, or topach, of Edessa, a small city of Arabia: he is called indifferently by any of the four names, but Agbarus is usually preferred, because, it is said, that word, or one nearly similar, signifies in Arabic potentissimus, and was a common title of the kings of Edessa. Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, relates that this prince, labouring under a grievous distemper, incurable by human skill, having heard of the miraculous cures performed by Jesus in Judea, sent him a letter, entreating him to come to him and cure his disease, and promising him in his small city a secure asylum from his enemies; and that Jesus in return vouchsafed to write him a letter, in which, though he refused to visit him, he promised to send one of his disciples, which should heal his distemper and bring him salvation. Eusebius inserts the letters, and adds, that after the ascension of Jesus, Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, sent Thaddeas, one of Christ's seventy disciples, to Edessa, who, having converted Agbarus to the Christian faith, miraculously cured him, and performed many other similar wonders. This story Eusebius gives on
the evidence of the public records of the city of Edessa, in which those transactions were preserved from that time to this day; the letters he assures us were taken from the archives, and were translated word for word from the Syriac.
Is the inscription on the image in Latin, Greek, or any other language, and how would its credit be varied by the language? I presume that a nearer inspection would not be permitted, a proof that, in the opinion of those who have the cure of it, it will not bear examination. My companion, who made some inquiries on the subject, informed me that it was stated to be made of silver; he bravely took a copy of the writing on the wall, in defiance of all inquisitive observers, and kindly supplied me with it:
Agabarus Assiriorum Rex
Sic hoc sacrum inscribebatur simulacrum
Cum in Sanctæ Mariæ Theodotæ delubro colebatur
Anno autem MD. CCJC Soluto annexo Monasterio
Ad hanc insignem Basilicam translatum fuit.
To digest such a story as this respecting the image, the assistance of a most courageous faith is necessary; it is extraordinary, or, in the language of the office, præterordinary:
Quod non capis, quod non vides,
The bridge over the Ticino is a good bridge for all purposes but to look at; it is exceedingly ugly. The Ticino here is a goodly river, and apt to increase in floods to a size that must be inconvenient to his neighbours: I looked at him with the interest of a father, or of a nurse, for I had seen him rise a tiny stream from a little lake on the St. Gotthard; he has the great merit of bringing the chief supply of water to the lovely Lago Maggiore, through which he flows, and having passed under the ugly bridge, he goes to swell the Po. From the opposite side of the river the ancient capital of the Lombards is fully seen, but it appears to be but a shabby place.
The unjust and cruel fate of a learned and excellent man, at a period when learning and virtue were rare, is one of the sources of interest in Pavia: we inquired after the tower in which the Consul Boethius was put to death at the beginning of the sixth century, but the persons to whom we applied were not able to direct us; and we would have visited his tomb in the church of St. Augustine, but we were informed, that that church and a great many others had been suppressed.
Few works have attained to greater popularity than the five books of this man of consular dignity on the consolation of philosophy; it is a production of extraordinary excellence and elegance; it was the great classic of the middle ages, and has been justly styled "a golden volume, not unworthy of the leisure of Plato or Tully, but which claims incomparable merit from the barbarism of the times, and the situation of the author." The patriot and scholar laments in prose and verse alternately his imprisonment and misfortunes, when suddenly a female appears to him; "visa est mulier," says Boethius," reverendi admodum vultus, oculis ardentibus et ultra communem hominum valentiam perspicacibus ;"
her ardent and perspicacious eyes remind us of Dante's Beatrice, the expression "reverendi admodum vultus," as we have unfortunately polluted and misapplied the epithet very reverend, denotes only with a face like a dean, of a rubicundity "ultra communem hominum valentiam." The female is Philosophy, and she tries to soothe and console the unhappy captive by argument and confutation; she uses prose and verse equally, and the latter she sings; "Hæc cum Philosophia, dignitate vultus et oris gravitate servatâ, leniter suaviterque cecinisset." The consul, like any other man who presumes to dispute with a lady, of course has the worst of it; he is not hen-pecked like some, or chickenpecked like others, but fairly philosophy-pecked; and he is at last duly confuted and comforted. Such is the catastrophe of the work; the judicious Le Clerc, who has criticised it, wonders that the author does not answer the question he had proposed, Si quidem Deus est, unde mala? Other, and even theological writings are attributed to Boethius; I have not examined the evidence upon which he is charged with the latter; but without strong proof it is exceedingly difficult to believe, that a mind capable of producing a volume not unworthy of the leisure of Plato, could also discuss the mystery of the trinity, or condescend to moot the question, " Quomodo substantiæ, in eo quod sint, bonæ sint, cum non sint substantialia bona?"
His book De Consolatione Philosophiæ has had the singular fortune to be translated by two English monarchs, and in both instances under circumstances somewhat similar to those under which the author composed his work: our Alfred, at a time when his distresses compelled him to seek retirement, made a complete translation of it into the Saxon language; and Camden relates, that Queen Elizabeth, during the time she was imprisoned by her sister Mary, translated it also into English.
Friday, Oct. 21st.-I set out alone in a little open carriage at six, on a fine but cold morning, and crossed the Ticino, and soon afterwards the Po by a bridge of boats: I was glad to salute this classical river. The country is sandy and quite flat, but very fertile; the distant Alps have a pleasing effect. At ten I came to Voghera. The market in this small city was crowded with country people and their mules. The unfinished cathedral is large, modern, and handsome. I saw many fine women for so small a place. After two hours rest we started our steed again; the country was still flat, fertile, and pleasant in most of the white mulberry trees that skirted the road, was a man, woman, or boy, gathering the leaves and putting them into a sack or basket.
We passed Tortona, but did not enter the city. At five we came to Novi: it has churches and a market-place; the pleasant hills in the vicinity give it an agreeable appearance. I was informed that a person who is not an admirer of fortifications, is not repaid for making a circuit to take in the fortress of Alessandria della Paglia, or Alexander of the Straw, which is thus nick-named, because, through scarcity of wood, the inhabitants heat their ovens with straw.
Saturday, Oct. 22d.-I rose at the unnatural hour of four, and got into a good roomy carriage drawn by three horses, with four other persons, the servants of a nobleman of Turin, and a boy three years and a half old; and thus commenced travelling in true Italian