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of Attic civilization, some scholar from western Europe might, perchance, come to the place, and be certified that there, in truth, the city of Demosthenes and Pericles bad formerly stood ? It would seem that, in the day of that unknown Athenian patriot, Babylon, Carthage, Palmyra, and Athens were confounded under the same deluge of oblivion, and that such fragments of the past as the Parthenon and the Olympium just remained to add theirimpressive witness to that sentence of St. John, that “the world passeth away;" that the most substantial structures that nations can raise, the work of ages, the pride of empires, all decay together with “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”
AN APPROACH TO ROME. I HAD seated myself in front of the vehicle, in the hope of catching the first glimpse of St. Peter's, as its dome should emerge above the plain; but so wretched were our cattle, that though we started at mid-day, and had only fifty miles of road, night fell long before we reached the gates of the Eternal City. I saw the country well, however, so long as daylight lasted. We kept in sight of the shore for twenty-five miles; and glad I was of it; for the waves, with their crest of snow and voice of thunder, seemed old friends, and I shuddered to think of plunging into that black silent wilderness on the left. At the gate of Civita Vecchia the desolation begins; and such desolation! I had often read that the Campagna was desolate; I had come there expecting to find it desolate ; but when I saw that desolation, I was confounded. I cannot describe it: it must be seen to be conceived of. It is not that it is silent: the Highlands of Scotland are so. It is not that it is barren: the sands of Arabia are so. They are as they were and should be. But not so the Campagna. There is something frightfully unnatural about its desolation. A statue is as still, as silent, and as cold, as the corpse ; but then it never had life ; and while you love to gaze on the one, the other chills you to the heart. So is it with the Campagna. While the sands of the desert exhilarate you, and the silence
of the Swiss or Scottish Highlands is felt to be sublime, the desolation of the Campagna is felt to be unnatural: it overawes and terrifies you. Such a void in the heart of Europe, and that, too, in a land which was the home of art,—where war accumulated her spoils, and wealth her treasures; and which gave letters and laws to the surrounding world, -is unspeakably confounding. One's faith is staggered in the past history of the country. The first glance of the blackened bosom of the Campagna makes one feel as if he had retrograded to the barbarous ages, or had been carried thousands and thousands of miles from home, and set down in a savage country, where the arts had not yet been invented, or civilization dawned. Its surface is rough and uneven, as if it had been tumbled about at some former period; it is dotted with wild bushes; and, here and there, lonely mounds rise to diversify it. There are no houses on it, save the post-houses ; which are square, tower-like buildings, having the stables below and the dwellings above. It has its patches of grass, on which herds depasture, followed by men clothed in sheepskins and goatskins, and looking as savage almost as the animals they tend. It is, in short, a wilderness; and more frightful than the other wildernesses of the earth, because the traveller feels that here there is the hand of doom. The land lies scathed and blackened under the curse of the Almighty. To Rome the words of the Prophet are as applicable as to Babylon, whom she resembled in sin, and with whom she is now joined in punishment: “Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate : every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues. Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest.” “I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water.” “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation ; but wild beasts of the deserts shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.”
About half-way to Rome the road parted company with the shore, and we turned inland over the plain. The night came on with drifting showers, which descended in torrents, lashing the naked plain, and battering our vehicle with the force and noise of a waterspout. And though at length the moon rose, and looked out at times from the cloud, she had nothing to show us but houseless, treeless desolation; and, as if scared at what she saw, she instantly hid her face in another mass of vapour. The stages were short, and the halts long; for which the postilion had but too good excuse, in the tangled web of thong and cord which formed the harnessings of his horses. The harnessing of an Italian diligence is a mystery to all but an Italian postilion. The postilion, on arriving at a stage, has to get down, shake himself, stride into the post to announce his arrival, unharness his horses, lead them deliberately into the stable, bring out the fresh ones, transfer the same harness to their backs, put them to, gulp down his glass of brandy, address a few more last observations to the loiterers, and, finally, light his cigar. He then mounts with a flourish of his whip; but his wretched nags are not able to proceed at a quicker trot than from three to four miles an hour. He meets very probably a brother of the trade, who has been at Rome, and is returning with his horses. He dismounts on the road, inquires the news, and mounts again at his pleasure. In short, you are completely in the postilion's power; and he is quite as much an autocrat in his way as the Czar himself. He sings, it may be, but his song is the very soul of melancholy,
“Roma, Roma, Roma, non e pit,
Come prima era." It needed but a glance at that pale moon, and drifting cloud, and naked plain, to tell me that “ Rome was not now as in her first age.”
As the night grew late, the inquiries became more frequent, “ Are we not yet at Rome ?” We were not yet at Rome; but we did all that men could with four, and sometimes six, half-starved animals, bestrode by drowsy postilions, to reach it. Now we were labouring in deep roads,now fording impetuous torrents,--and now jolting along on the hard pavement of the Via Aurelia. By the glimpses of the moon we could see the milestones by the roadside, with “ROME” upon them. Seldom has writing thrilled me so. To find a name which fills history, and which for thirty centuries has extorted the homage of the world, and still awes it, written thus upon a common milestone, and standing there amid the tempest on the roadside, had in it something of the sublime. Was it then a reality, and not a dream ? and should I in a very short time be in Rome itself; that city which had been the theatre of so many events of world-wide influence, and which for so many ages had borne sway over all the Kings and kingdoms of the earth ? Meanwhile the night became darker, and the torrents of rain more frequent and more heavy,
Towards midnight we began to climb a low hill. We could see that there was cultivation upon it, and, unless we were mistaken, a few villas. We had passed its summit, and were already engaged in the descent, when a terrific flash of lightning broke through the darkness, and tipped with a fiery radiance every object around us. On the left was the old hoary wall, with a whitish bulby mass hanging inside of it. On the right was a steep bank, with a few straggling vines dripping wet. The road between, on which we were winding downwards, was deep and worn. I had had my first view of Rome; but in how strange a way! In a few minutes we were standing at the gate.
Some little delay took place in opening it. The moments which one passes on the threshold of Rome are moments he never can forget. While waiting there till it should please the guard to open that old gate, the whole history of the wonderful city on whose threshold I now stood, seemed to pass before my mind,-her Kings, her Consuls, her Emperors, her legislators, her orators, her poets, her Popes; all seemed to stalk solemnly past, one after one. There was the great Romulus; there was the proud Tarquin; there was Sylla with his laurel, and Livy with his page, and Virgil with his lay, and Cæsar with his diadem, and Brutus with his dagger; there was the lordly Augustus, the cruel Nero, the beastly Caligula, the warlike Trajan, the philosophie Antoninus, the stern Hildebrand, the infamous Borgia, the terrible Innocent; and, last of all, and closing this long procession of shades, came one, with shuffling gait and cringing figure, who is not yet a shade,-Pio Nono. The creak of the old gate, as the sentinel undid its bolt, and threw back its ponderous doors, awoke me from my reverie.
We were stopped the moment we had entered the gate, and desired to mount to the guard-room. In a small chamber on the city-wall, seated at a table, on which a lamp was burning, we found a little tight-made brusque French officer, busied in overhauling the passports. Declaring himself satisfied after a slight survey, he hinted pretty plainly that a few pauls would be acceptable. “Did you ever,” whispered my Russian friend, "see such a people ?" We were remounting our vehicle, when a soldier climbed up, with musket and fixed bayonet, and forced himself in between my companion and myself, to see us all right to the custom-house, and to take care that we dropped no contraband goods by the way. Away we trundled; but the Campagna itself was not more solitary than that rainbattered and half-flooded street. No ray streamed out from window; no sound or voice of man broke the stillness; no one was abroad ; the wind moaned ; and the big drops fell heavily upon the plashy lava-paved causeway; but, with these exceptions, the silence was unbroken ; and, to add to the dreariness, the city was in well-nigh total darkness.
I intently scrutinized the various objects, as the glare of our lamps brought them successively into view. First, there came a range of massive columns, which stalked past us, wearing in the sombre night an air of Egyptian grandeur. They came on and on, and I thought they should never have passed. Little did I dream that this was the piazza of St. Peter's, and that the bulb I had seen by favour of the lightning was the dome of that renowned edifice. Next we found ourselves in a street of low, mean, mouldering houses; and in a few moments thereafter we were riding