« VorigeDoorgaan »
large fortification in ruins,-the result of the popular commotions of 1848. Below are walks and trees of all kinds. The pepper-tree near the japonica; alche trees embracing the cypress and olive, lemons and figs; the cerino full of berries, and the umbrageous fraschino. Scattered among them are tall, rare Egyptian palms.
The fresh air comes up freighted with a rich burden of fragrance. All around the bay are arranged the pyramidal roofs of the superb city, varied by the towers and steeples of the churches; while the bay itself, fretted by a breeze ever so light, emulates the cerulean of the sky, save in that deep ribbon of blue which separates the rarer from the denser element. Up rises with the sound of voices and bells, and mingled with the song of birds (we must be faithful), the horrid, infernal music of unhappy donkeydom!
We had better seek another spot. If you are dainty about treading on lizards, you may let me lead. Here, upon the north-east, we have another view-a full sweep of the valley beyond Genoa. Yonder in that grove is the house where Byron lived for two years. It might well awaken the poet's soul to gaze up and down this valley of terraces and palaces. Beneath us is the plash, almost roar of waters. It is the aqueduct, so constructed as to empty its silver vein into a basin below, and apparently out of a grove. Trembling in its spray are oranges. Far above us even, rise other gardens and palaces, similar to this; and far above them are the eternal hills bare and comfortless. Now we may descend among flower vases, gum-elastic trees and roses, into the open street, to meet again the everlasting beggar of Italy. Whine away, poor human nature! it is your brother, made of the same mortal clay with yourself, who holds that regal palace, adorned with art, and garnitured by nature. False to the memory, and recreant to the hope of Italy, he sleeps in ignoble ease, while the garden of Europe holds within its enclosure a degraded, begging and outcast population, whose rulers are serfs to Austria, or puppets of France.
There are at least two thousand people now in the public
poor-house of Genoa, and God only knows how many more ought to be thus provided for. If beauty and art must flourish in these palaces and gardens at such an expense of misery, let the axe fall at the root of the poisonous tree, that its exhalations may no longer taint the mild air of this heaven-kissed clime. Let your marbles be overturned; your Correggios and Guidos be cut into ribbons; your frescos be whitewashed, and your soil of beauty indurated for ever.
But this, we thank the Creator of the Beautiful, is not the sacrifice required. He who made the fair so near akin to what is good; who gives immortality to both by the same law of his will, requires only the sacrifice of lustful power and absurd pomp.
We spent the last few hours of to-day in passing through some of the superb palaces, whose outside we yesterday saw. The Salle palace is perhaps the richest in its collection of paintings, although it had no golden room like another we visited. Vandykes, Rubens, De Vincis, Paolis, Guidos, and others, line the resplendent walls; while the never-failing fresco and statue meet you at every side-glance. One painting among them all I now remember distinctly. It is here for ever engraved. It is Tasso in the mad-house, at the foot of Rubens, while Montaigne, the French philosopher, stands near. The expression of the pale, woe-stricken poet, with his lofty sorrow and half maniac glare, as he kneels to be released by his visitors, has the very soul of Melancholy, not yet lost to Despair. It seemed to me, that in this picture I beheld the fate of Italy. Images of poetic grandeur surround her; the Past beckons, and invites her to search its repository for the influence of Example; the Future is lit up with hopes as beautiful as the angels which float upon her painters' canvass; but the spell of Despair hovers near where Melancholy is already seated. Oh! that the glorious soul of Massini might be created under the "ribs of death," which are even now visible beneath the rich vesture that nature has bestowed upon Italy!
Roure, Living and Dead.
"Hail to the great Asylum!
Hail to the hill-tops seven!
Hail to the fire which burns for aye!
And the shield which fell from heaven!"
I.-LEGHORN TO ROME.
FTER leaving Genoa, we resumed our career over the deep blue of the Mediterranean and touched at Leghorn, where we left our good company, Mrs. Stephens. We delayed long enough to see all that Leghorn could show, which is little more than a statue with four ugly pirates chained-a local monument, representing an incident in the history of the city worthy of the best Roman days. The son of a Doge was sent after a Corsair, whose piratical adventures were the scourge of the sea. He was victorious, and in the flush of success, hesitated not to break the quarantine laws of Genoa, by entering port in disregard of their provisions, the penalty of which was death. He suffered the penalty. The Doge's justice did not yield to the paternal yearning. The monument supported by four pirates attests at once the valor of the victim and the impartial rigor of the law and its executive.
We visited, pioneered by some whole-souled American offieers of the U. S. steamship Mississippi, which lies here, the grave of TOBIAS SMOLLETT, the Novelist and Historian. It is a simple pyramid in the Presbyterian burying ground, enclosed by iron, around which flags and flowers grow, and snails crawl.— We then went aboard the noble steamer; and truly we were
proud of our country and its foreign service. We were so fortunate as to visit the Mississippi, during a visit of the Commodore (MORGAN), and were received most cordially by all. The ship was about to proceed-where no one knew but the Commodore and Captain; but it was generally thought that KOSSUTH and his companions were the object of the voyage East; and then (how they gladdened at the thought!) for HOME!
At Leghorn there is little to be seen. It is a large trading port. There is here little of Art or Beauty. The city is of recent origin, having been founded in the fifteenth century. Ferdinand the first, one of the Medici, encouraged Moors, Jews, persecuted Catholics from England, and others to come to Leghorn, where he granted them the equal privileges, which their descendants now enjoy. Leghorn is a free port; by which is meant a port where the custom-house bleeds you freely; even charging heavily for the privilege of landing.
We met on board the Mississippi steamship, which was lying here, POWERS, the sculptor; and had the delight of his acquaintance, with a promise of its continuance at Florence. He had come down for the purpose of sending off his son to West Point. He was carelessly dressed, and hid beneath a "round-headed" felt, a rotund, pleasant face, and an intelligent, large eye of rare brightness.
A lady companion not unknown in the literary world, whose opinion is generally entitled to authority in matters of art, does not (as do most Americans, and all Italians) rank POWERS as the equal of many other American sculptors, and simply because his chief work, the Slave, does not express the high-souled in-. dignation and flashing scorn, or the exquisite distress which a female, situated as the slave is supposed to be-should exhibit. In this criticism, the most beautiful and truthful principle is disregarded, not alone in my humble judgment, but in that of the best writer upon æsthetics known in the realm of criticism, the German LESSING. In his "Laocoon," he seems to have had in his eye, the very form of the Slave, with its noble simplicity
and sublime patience under indignity, and to have answered just the objection above made. "As the depth of the sea remains forever quiet, however the surface may rage, so the expression. in the figure discovers in the midst of Passion a great and calm soul." Is not this the attitude and expression of the Slave? Where, in all the array of art in that Crystal Palace, can be found such quiet grandeur, such nameless simplicity of distress? -After the eye had palled with gazing on the gauds of the Indies and the south of Europe, I invariably found the heart (which has a reason of its own) impelling me toward the Slave; there to dwell in silence upon the beautiful result of that genius which gleamed in the piercing eye of our American POWERS. The idea of the sculptor is not, as the objector must erroneously assume, to follow nature; but his ideal projected from nature into the plastic air of his imagination. The Slave, if it were distorted with distress or wrought into an agony of indignation, would lose its auriole of calm glory, which ever shines in the subduing influence of the soul over the body.
We saw and passed the Isle of Elba, only notable for being the prison of greatness; and the morning of the 4th of June, found us in the harbor of Civita Vecchia, surrounded by massive walls. The place is distinguished for nothing except that it is the gate to Rome. The vexations of the custom-house are not so terrific as is imagined. We have found gentlemen in the officers. Let the traveller remember, especially if a lady, that the want of baggage is the greatest relief. Our ladies absolutely left all their trunks at Paris, and with a carpet bag apiece, have passed easily all barriers, and penetrated into the Eternal City.
2. APPROACH TO ROME.
The road from Civita Vecchia, which we traversed by a diligence conducted by a bob-coated bandit of a postillion, lies mostly along the sea. The country resembles Ohio in its rolling hills and wheat covered fields. Harvest time on all sides