صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

horror of an action that would be resented by all the Catholic princes of Europe, will be as great a security to the place as the strongest fortification. It is, indeed, an amazing thing to see such a prodigious quantity of riches lie dead, and untouched in the midst of so much poverty and misery as reign on all sides of them. There is no question, however, but the pope would make use of these treasures in case of any great calamity that should endanger the holy see; as an unfortunate war with the Turk, or a powerful league among the Protestants. For I cannot but look on those vast heaps of wealth, that are amassed together, in so many religious places of Italy, as the hidden reserves and magazines of the church, that she would open on any pressing occasion for her last defence and preservation. If these riches were all turned into current coin, and employed in commerce, they would make Italy the most flourishing country in Europe. The case of the Holy House is nobly designed, and executed by the great masters of Italy, that flourished about a hundred years ago. The statues of the Sybils are very finely wrought, each of them in a different air and posture, as are likewise those of the prophets underneath them. The roof of the treasury is painted with the same kind of device. There stands at the upper end of it a large crucifix, very much esteemed; the figure of our Saviour represents him in his last agonies of death, and, amidst all the ghastliness of the visage, has something in it very amiable. The gates of the church are said to be of Corinthian brass, with many scripture stories rising on them in basso relievo. The pope's statue, and the fountain by it, would make a noble show in a place less beautified with so many other productions of art. The spicery, the cellar and its furniture, the great revenues of the convent, with the story of the Holy House, are too well known to be here insisted upon.

Whoever were the first inventors of this imposture, they seem to have taken the hint of it from the veneration that the old Romans paid to the cottage of Romulus, which stood on Mount Capitol, and was repaired from time to time as it fell to decay. Virgil has given a pretty image of this little thatched palace, that represents it standing in Manlius's time, 327 years after the death of Romulus.

In summo custos Tarpeix Manlius arcis
Stabat pro templo, et capitolia celsa tenebut:
Romuleoque recens horrebat regiu culmo. Æn. lib. 8.
High on a rock heroic Manlius stood
To guard the temple, and the temple’s god:
Then Rome was poor, and there you might behold
The palace thatch'd with straw:-

DRYDEN.

From Loretto, in my way to Rome, I passed through Recanati, Macerata, Tolentino, and Foligni. In the last there is a convent of nuns, called la Contessa, that has in the church an incomparable Madona of Raphael. At Spoletto, the next town on the road, are some antiquities. The most remarkable is an aqueduct of a Gothic structure, that conveys the water from Mount St. Francis to Spoletto, which is not to be equalled for its height by any other in Europe. They reckon, from the foundation of the lowest arch to the top of it, 230 yards. In my way hence to Terni I saw the river Clitumnus, celebrated by so many of the poets, for a particular quality in its waters, of making cattle white that drink of it. The inhabitants of that country have still the same opinion of it, as I found upon enquiry, and have a great many oxen of a whitish colour to confirm them in it. It is probable this breed. was first settled in the country, and continuing still the same species, has made the inhabitants impute it to a wrong cause; though they may as well fancy their hogs turn black for some reason of the same nature, because there are none in Italy of any other breed. The river Clitumnus, aud Mevania that stood on the banks of it, are famous for the herds of victims with which they furnished all Italy.

[ocr errors]

Qua formosa suo Clitumnus flumina luco
Integit, et niveos abluit unda boves.

Prop. lib. 2.
Hinc albi Clitumne greges, et maxima taurus
Victima, sæpe tuo perfusi flumine sacro
Romanos ad templa Deúm duxere triumphos. Georg.2. Virg.
There flows Clitumnus through the flow'ry plain;
Whose waves, for triumphs after prosprous war,
The victim ox, and snowy sheep prepare.

-Patulis Clitumnus in arvis
Candentes gelido profundit flumine tauros. Sil. ITAL. lib. 2.

-Tauriferis ubi se Mevania campis
Explicat-

Luc. lib. 1.
-Atque ubi latis
Projecta in campis nebulas exhalat inertes,
Et sedet ingentem pascens Mevania taurum,
Dona Jovi

Idem, lib. 6.

-Nec si vucuet Medunia valles,
Aut præstent niveos Clitumna novulia tauros,
Sufficiam-

STAT. Syl. lib. 1.
Pinguior Hispulla traheretur taurus et ipsa
Mole piger, non finitimâ nutritus in herbâ,
Læta sed ostendens Clitumni pascuu sanguis
Iret et à grandi cervix ferienda ministro. Juv. Sat. 12.
A bull high fed should fall the sacrifice,
One of Hispulla's huge prodigious size:
Not one of those our neighb'ring pastures feed,
But of Clitumnus whitest sacred breed:
The lively tincture of whose gushing blood
Should clearly prove the richness of his food;
A neck so strong, so large, as would command
The speeding blow of some uncommon hand.

Mr. CONGREVE.

[ocr errors]

I shall afterwards have occasion to quote Claudian.

Terni is the next town in course, formerly called Interamna, for the same reason that a part of Asia was named Mesopotamia. We enter at the gate of the Three Monuments, so called, because there stood near it a monument erected to Tacitus the historian, with two others to the emperors Tacitus and Florianus, all of them natives of the place. These were a few years ago demolished by thunder, and the fragments of them are in the hands of some gentlemen of the town.

Near the dome I was shown a square marble, inserted in the wall, with the following inscription:

Saluti perpetuæ Augustæ
Libertatique Publicæ Populi Romani

Genio municipi Anno post
Interamnam Conditam.

D. CC. IV.

Ad Cnejum Domitium Ahenobarbum.

Coss. providentiæ Ti. Cæsaris Augusti nati ad Æternitatem Romani nominis sublato hoste perniciosissimo P. R. Faustus Titius Liberalis VI, vir iterum. P.S. F. C. that is, pecunia sua fieri curavit.

This stone was probably set up on occasion of the fall of Sejanus. After the name of Ahenobarbus there is a little furrow in the marble, but so smooth and well polished, that I should not have taken notice of it had not I seen Coss. at the end of it, by which it is plain there was once the name of another consul, which has been industriously razed out. Lucius Aruncius Camillus Scribonianus was consul under the reign of Tiberius *, and was afterwards put to death for a conspiracy that he had formed against the emperor Claudius; at which time it was ordered that his name and consulate should be effaced out of all public registers and inscriptions. It is not therefore improbable, that it was this long name which filled up the gap I am now mentioning. There are near this monument the ruins of an ancient theatre, with some of the caves entire. I saw among the ruins an old heathen altar, with this particularity in it, that it is hollowed, like a dish, at one end; but it was not this end on which the sacrifice was laid, as one may guess from the make of the festoon, that runs round the altar, and is inverted when the hollow stands uppermost. In the same yard, among the rubbish of the theatre, lie two pillars, the one of granate, and the other of a very beautiful marble. I went out of my way to see

* Vide Fast. Consul. Sicul.

the famous cascade about three miles from Terni. It is formed by the fall of the river Velino, which Virgil mentions in the seventh Æneid Rosea rura Velini.

The channel of this river lies very high, and is shaded on all sides by a green forest, made up of several kinds of trees that preserve their verdure all the year.

The neighbouring mountains are covered with them, and, by reason of their height, are more exposed to the dews and drizzling rains than any of the adjacent parts, which gives occasion to Virgil's rosea rura, (dewy countries.) The river runs extremely rapid before its fall

, and rushes down a precipice of a hundred yards high. It throws itself into the hollow of a rock, which has probably been worn by such a constant fall of water. It is impossible to see the bottom on which it breaks, for the thickness of the mist that rises from it, which looks at a distance like clouds of smoke ascending from some vast furnace, and distils in perpetual rains on all the places that lie near it. I think there is something more astonishing in this cascade, than in all the water-works of Versailles, and could not but wonder when I first saw it, that I had never met with it in any of the old poets, especially in Claudian, who makes his Emperor Honorius go out of his way to see the river Nar, which runs just below it, and yet does not mention what would have been so great an embellishment to his poem. But at present I do not in the least question, notwithstanding the opinion of some learned men to the contrary, that this is the gulf through which Virgil's Alecto shoots herself into hell: for the very place, the great reputation of it, the fall of waters, the woods that encompass it, with the smoke and noise that arise from it, are all pointed at in the description. Perhaps he would not mention the name of the river, because he has done it in the verses that precede. We may add to this, that the cascade is not far off that part of Italy, which has been called Italia Meditullium.

« السابقةمتابعة »