Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

A PORT OF THE PAST.

these delicate etchings of human life. I vote an ungiven number of days to the The characters she depicts are less ro. world's most precious and sacred locali. mantic than is, or was, usual in fiction; ties. One place is treated exactly like but then they are much more real — with another. Florence occupies no more of the reality not of stupid commonplace, but the tourist's time than Vienna; and Rome of pleasant familiarity, intelligently and is supposed to be seen in the same num. suggestively unveiled to us.

ber of hours that are required for Berlin. Her style seemed prosaic to Charlotte in olden days, fewer people, far fewer Brontë, and her characters uninteresting people, visited Rome; but those who Life was full of meaning to the younger visited did so with intelligent interest authoress, and even the minor incidents and to some useful purpose. They rein her novels are stamped with the im- mained for months at a time in a city press of some strong feeling, or carry a which is not to be thoroughly explored in reflection of some intense personal expe- less; and to their acquaintance with inriences. But Jane Austen's belief in the tramural Rome they added some familiar. seriousness of life went beyond Charlotte ity with the numerous suburbs that lie Brontë's; and the author of “ Pride and between Rome and the sea, or between Prejudice” found the drama of human Rome and the mountains. existence so full of meaning that she One of the most delightful excursions dared to leave it to explain itself.

to be made in the neighborhood of Rome, A. ARMITT. and one which best repays the expense

of the journey, is a day's trip by carriage to Ostia and Castel Fusano. The time was when a carriage that held four per

sons could be hired for this purpose for From The Cornhill Magazine.

five scudi, or little more than a sovereign.

But last spring nearly twice that sum was THERE is only one thing in the world demanded for the cost of the expedition. more wonderful than Rome, and that is The temporal power of the popes has disthe neighborhood of Rome. Yet of the appeared; Roine boasts a Parliament, a myriads of tourists who annually pass free press, and many new thoroughfares; through the Eternal City, how few are and these are luxuries which invariably there who condescend to do more than bring costly living in their train. Even take one or two desultory drives in the in the middle of March, when you are Campagna! Perhaps they get as far as going to undertake a journey of this kind the tomb of Cecilia Metella on the Via -only fifteen miles out and fifteen back Appia. Possibly they drive out to Sant - a Roman coachman is anxious to be Agnese on the Nomentan Way. If very off betimes; and if you know what a Koenterprising, conceivably they take the man sun can do long before noon, even at tram to Frascati, or the railway to Alba- the vernal equinox, you will second his

But of the scores of places of ab-humor, and be settling into your seat not sorbing historical and antiquarian interest | long after 8 A.M. strikes. People are not within a twenty miles' radius of the Seven taking down shutters in Rome at that Hills they know and care nothing. In this hour, as in Oxford Street or Piccadilly. respect modern travellers have greatly All the world is up and about; the streets changed for the worse as compared with are thronged; the markets are crowded ; their forerunners. They cover a vast and a fair amount of the day's work has amount of space with their locomotives already been done. How charming it is and their hired carriages; but they keep at that hour to wind through the streets to the inore beaten tracks, and they skim that lead to the Forum, where all modern a country almost with the swiftness of improvements despite, the buffaloes are swallows. Like gold nuggets, human in- still lying down in the shafts of the twotelligence and huinan curiosity can either wheeled country carts that are stacked be beaten out very thin, and so be made with fodder for the use of the capital.

a considerable superficial area, You can see at a glance that Rome is still or they may be compressed and concen- far from being an opulent city; thats the trated till their depth is equal to their old ways of primitive poverty, as shown breadth. The spreading -out process in garb, in victual, in harness.gear, in seems to be the one most in vogue in every turn and detail of life, still subsist; these days. People prefer to make a and as you pass out of the Porta San superficial journey round the world in a Paolo, and get upon the Ostian Way, you given number of days, rather than to de- can hardly believe that you are in the

no.

to

neighborhood of a great capital. It is not city in the world. Listen to the descripthat the Campagna is as yet about you, or tion of what it once was. The historian that signs of moral cultivation do not is describing one of the feats of Alaric. abound. But there is a ruggedness, a "Instead of assaulting the capital, be succarelessness, a don't-mind air about every cessively directed his efforts against the thing, that is more than provincial in port of Ostia, one of the boldest and most character. The only houses are road. stupendous works of Roman magnificence. side osterie, or inns, their walls decorated The accidents to which the precarious with flaming frescoes or trellis decoration subsistence of the city was continually of the rudest sort, intimating that a good exposed in a winter navigation and an rest and vino nostrale are, on the whole, open road, had suggested to the genius of the best things in this world. The Ro. the first Cæsar the useful design, which man peasant, and indeed the Roman citi. was executed under the reign of Claudius. zen of a certain class, readily believes The artificial moles, which formed the this otiose philosophy; and the amount narrow entrance, advanced far into the of drinking and reposing that is got sea, and firmly repelled the fury of the through in these suburban gardens is waves; while the largest vessels securely amazing. For gardens they all of them rode at anchor within three deep and capapossess; and when summer comes, there cious basins, which received the northern will be a pergola vine-leaves, and under branch of the Tiber, about two miles m the grapes of this year the stalwart con- the ancient colony of Ostia. The Roman tadini and handsome Trasteverine ma- port insensibly swelled to the size of an trons will quaff the juice of the grapes of episcopal city, where the corn of Africa last. They are true descendants of Hor- was deposited in spacious granaries for ace. They love their Falernian or their the use of the capital.” The rest may be Massic; they gather rosebuds when they easily surmised. As soon as Alaric got may; and they take as little heed of the possession of Ostia he menaced Rome morrow as possible. Yet they are amia- with the destruction of these granaries ble and graceful in their cups unless the unless the capital was instantly surren. demon of jealousy lurks at the bottom of dered into his hands; and the clamors of the draught; and then their bouts are ter. the people, and the terror of famine, subrible.

dued the pride of the Senate. It would By degrees, however, these wayside be impossible to terrify Rome to-day by inns become more and more sparse, and threats directed against Ostia. An infinally vanish altogether. You have vader might fiog the waves like Xerxes, passed the great Basilica of St. Paul, so or sack the barren sands; but his power tame and poor externally, so splendid and of mischief would end with those bootless gorgeous within, with its attendant con- exploits. vent, stricken with annual malaria, and Ostia never recovered from that famous you find yourself following the course of | assault in the fifth century, and till A.D the truly yellow Tiber, through scrub, 830 it remained to all intents and purposes through rough pasture, and past little low deserted, the sea-sand continually silting hills scarce deserving of the name. It is up and adding future uselessness to past the horizon rather than the foreground ravages. Then Gregory IV, founded an. that now attracts your eye; and you note other Ostia, about a inile distant from the where, far away to the left, lies Frascati, site of the original city; and it is at what further still, Tivoli. There is little traffic is left of this second Ostia that your along the road, though it leads to the most coachman will descend, take out his famous port of ancient Rome and to where borses, and show every intention of havthe Tiber still debouches. Sheep graz- ing nothing more to say to you till you ing, lambs frisking, shepherds in goat- think proper to turn your face Romewards skin garments leaning upon their crooks, again. It is some distance bence to the troops of young colts, shaggy, spare, and Roman Ostia, some distance again in aneasily startled, are the main objects and other direction to the woods of Castel incidents of your progress. Now and Fusano; but the day is young, and one again there is a green thicket and a deep- wants to walk and to have as little combanked stream, and now you catch sight pany as possible while prowling among of the sea.

What is that? That is Os- ruins and excavations. A malaria-stricka tia ? Which? That round tower, with en peasant emerges from a massive stone some farm buildings clustered round it? doorway, and helps to stable the horses. Precisely. That is all which represents A priest, dirty and unshaven, is amusing the greatest port of the most celebrated | himself by feeding with coarse oatmeal

[ocr errors]

the litter of a wild boar, which he has | as Julius II., took a fancy to it, and ein. tamed to be his companion in this solitary ployed Sangallo to build, and Baldassare place. The old sow, in spite of her fierce Peruzzi to decorate. The decorations appearance and shaggy bristles, is very have gone the way of all such; but the friendly; and but for his cassock the massive circular tower, surrounded by padre would look far more like a profes- bastions connected by a curtain and de. sional swineherd than a servant of the fended by a ditch, still remains. Everyaltar. Once upon a time the bishopric of where where bey can be put are the arms Ostia was the most famous in the world. of the Della Rovere an evergreen oak, Pious tradition has always maintained the robur of the Italian poets. The car. that it was established in the time of the dinal gallantly defended his tower against apostles; though I fear that erudite scep the French for two whole years, and tics would claim for it no earlier origin finally drove them off. After that, new than the pontificate of Urban I., about Ostia languished; and now nothing sur. 229 A.D.

This privilege, however, it un vives but this same tower, a small church, doubtedly had, that when the pope elect and a farmyard with the litter of a wild happened to be in priest's orders he was boar. Inside the tower are staircases, enthroned by the Bishop of Ostia, who vaults, mutilated statues, undecipherable was regarded as the dean of the Sacred inscriptions, votive altars, funeral tablets, College, and must therefore have had the broken utensils of bronze, pottery, and dignity of cardinal by virtue of his office. glass, the disjecta membra of a vanished Apparently this smiling, grimy ecclesias- civilization. I am told the population of tic is all that is left of the Ostian bishop- the paese, or neighborhood, is sometimes sic, which is now merged in that of Vel- as high as one hundred souls, though in letri. We ask him if he will show us his the season of malaria it sinks below this church. With all the pleasure in the figure. I can only speak of it as I found world, for it gives him something to do; it, and I saw only one priest and one but it evidently surprises him that any- peasant. To make the population larger I body should wish to see it. Truly, it is must count the wild sow's litter. unremarkable and, to the eye, devoid of And now, with your face seawards, you interest. But look at that fresco in the may walk through sandy drives to the site side chapel on the right. It represents of ancient Ostia. Of late years, the exthe death and apotheosis of Santa Mo-cavations begun in the time of Cosmo de' nica. And then you remember that it was Medici, under the direction of Poggio here, at Ostia, that St. Augustine, on his Bracciolini, and then for many a generaway to Africa, had to bid adieu to his tion suspended till the present century, saintly mother. The records of history have been pushed on diligently. Cosmo contain no tenderer chapter than the re- found what folks there were upon the lations of Monica with her ardent, errat- spot, occupied in reducing an entire tem. ic, and finally repentant, immortal son. ple back again into lime; and doubtless Who does not remember Ary Scheffer's that was the chief industry of the place picture of the pair gazing out to sea to- for many centuries. Is there much to gether! So did they at Ostia before see? Well, yes, and no. No, if you exMonica died. And here, at Ostia, Augus. pect to find a huge city disinterred tine buried her, lingering a while to write Herculaneum or a Pompeii. But yes, if his treatise “ De Libero Arbitrio," and you are satisfied with a street or two, then sailed for the African see with which part of a theatre, portions of a temple, his name is forever associated. Not con- and many a roadway with the marks of tent with trying to revive the existence the chariot wheels of senator, consul, and of Ostia, Gregory IV. surrounded it with augur cut into them. There is enough, if walls, and the sycophants of the time you are learned, to embarrass your eruditried to christen it Gregoriopolis, but the tion; there is more than enough, if you name Ostia could not be got rid of. Un be sensitive, to flood your feelings. You der Leo IV. the Saracens swooped down may say that this temple was dedicated upon and got that picturesque thrash. to jupiter; or, if you like, you may safely ing which Raphael has commemorated in contradict anybody who affirms as much. the Stanze of the Vatican. That event It is still a fine brick structure. The must have administered a fillip to the cella is entire; much of the floor, which place, for it was important enough to be is of African marble, is there to testify besieged and captured by the king of to you. The altar of the divinity still Naples in 1413. Then the famous car- stands. But where are the worshippers ? dinal Giuliano della Rovere, better known | Here they come, down that winding, grass

a

a a

grown street of tombs. First, an old constant kissing, as is that of St. Peter in crone, I should think as old as Ostia it. the Vatican Basilica, known to all mea self, her face not only withered parch- and tourists. But nothing has availed to ment, but a very palimpsest upon which save Ostia ; neither emperor nor cardinal, many a generation has inscribed its ob- neither pope nor martyr, neither Jove, scure meaning. She has the comely Mithra, nor Augustine. square towel upon her head; the hard, From the summit of the excavated ruins unyielding bodice round her waist; the of ancient stia, or, still better, from the short, gay petticoat; and the ciocce, or top of the Torre Boacciano, a trifle nearer sheepskin sandals round her feet and legs, to the sea, you command a splendid view which otherwise are encased in stoutly of that branch of the Tiber by which Virknitted blue stockings. She is fingering gil makes Æneas and his companions her rosary, for it is Sunday, and she tot- enter Latium. Hither it was that, as the ters along, the genius of the place. Sec-poet describes, propitious Neptune di. ond, a young girl, dressed in precisely rected their ships. Here was it that the the same garb, but somehow making it cakes of bread were spread under a shady look quite different. She stands erect tree; that the wandering Trojans ate their like a goddess, and her gaze is that of the trenchers, as provender was running ox-eyed Juno. She has no rosary, no any short, and thereby reminded Æneas of a thing. She is a splendid mass of colors, prediction of Anchises, which convinced a splendid embodiment of form, and she him that he had “touched land” at last. is an ignorant payan who hopes the Ma- It was from this very spot that the em. donna will send her a lover. Third, a bassy set out to the court of King Latinus lamb, decked with bright ribands, and at Laurentum, only a few miles away, refollowing for company's sake, as for com ceived as gifts the three hundred horses, pany's sake it has been adopted. Beyond and took back to Æneas the message conihese, deeply-worn slabs, draped statues cerning Lavinia. The woods described without heads, prone and splintered col- by Virgil have gone; but it is as true to. umns, acanthus leaves, heaps of chipped day as then, that the Tiber, dimpled with marble, and the undying associations of whirlpools, and driving the sand along, the mightiest empire man has ever built “ rolls his yellow billows to the sea." or seen. Antiquarians would prattle to True now, as then, that the seabirds you by the hour about Ancus Martius, æthera mulcebant cantu,” were softenwho, if you please, founded Ostia; about ing the air with their song. How is it Claudius, Procopius, Hadrian, Septimius possible, with such tender phrases as Severus, and Aurelian. I think such lore these abounding in Virgil, that critics can goes in at one ear and out at the other, pretend it was left to modern poets to di. when there is so little visible and tangible vine the subtlety of nature ? No doubt to impress it on the memory: One of Dryden renders this lovely phrase, “ To the strangest relics of the place is an ob- tuneful songs their narrow throats aplong room with an apse at the end of it, plied ;” but we may depend upon it that in the middle of which is a sacrificial altar this horrible parody would have revolted with Mithraic reliefs. Statues of priests Virgil as much as it does ourselves. of Mithra were likewise found upon the What a fascination Virgil still sheds spot. In the front part of the altar you around all this Latin coast ! “ Nunc may plainly see the circular depression magnum manet Ardea nomen," he wrote, that received the blood of the victims hundreds of years ago, of the Argive cap. sacrificed. There is, too, an inscription ital of Turnus; and magnum nomen is all recording that Caius Cælius, antistes hu. that can now be predicted of Laurentum, jus loci, erected it de sua pecunii, or at of Lavinium, of Antium, of Alba Longa. his own expense. Obviously, then, there But the names will always remain great, was here a temple of Mithra. Many because of the author of the Æneid. It charming statues have been found here was from this same mouth of the Tiber abouts : the bust of the young Augustus, that Claudius sailed for Britain. We the Ganymede of Phædimius, and excel- know that Claudius lived, and we are all ·lent bas-reliefs of Diana and Endymion. considerably interested in the island he The early Christians, too, have left visible subdued. But who can bring himself to 'traces of themselves, of their creed, of associate Ostia with either or both, in the their martyrdom, and of their special same sense in which he does so with modes of interment; and there is one the mythical landing of Æneas and his headless statue, much steeped in fading followers ? Claudius has fared but ill at color, of which the toe is worn away with the hands of historians, and poets have

[ocr errors]

From Nature.

troubled themselves about him not at all. I mediæval, the papal, the strictly modern, Why does Gibbon speak of him as “the all are there. Rome is the compendium most stupid of Roman emperors? But of bistory; and you may open the human if neglected by the bard, and stigmatized story at what page you will. by the chronicler, Claudius, after the expedition he organized from here, evidently had his flatterers. There was an arch of Claudius in Rome, in the Piazza Sciarra, which Andrea Fulvio tells us existed even

ECONOMIC GEOLOGY OF INDIA. * down to his time. In 1565, excavations were made in its neighborhood, and many

II. sculptured marbles were disinterred;

IN a former notice of Professor Vai. among them, a head of Claudius, and a entine Ball's important work on the relief, in which he is represented as ad- " Economic Geology of India,” the subdressing his troops. It is still to be seen jects of the gold supply and of that form in the Villa Borghese. In a garden wall, of carbon known as the diamond, were behind the Barberini Palace, is a com. treated of. In the present notice it is placent inscription to Claudius, “ Quod proposed to give a brief account of that Reges Britannos_absque ullâ jacturâ more important form of carbon known as domuerit, gentes Barbaras primus judi.coal, as well as to allude to the valuable cio subegerit.” But these baughty im. information given in the chapters on iron, perial boasts are all in vain ; and the salt, and building-stone. The rocks, “æthera mulcebant cantu” moves us in which in peninsular India probably correfinitely more.

spond, as regards the time of their forma. To ihe pine woods of Castel Fusano is tion, to the true carboniferous rocks of a smartish little walk, in the heat of the Europe, are not coal-bearing, and the oldMarch sun, which is now high in the est coal-measures in the country belong to heavens. But under their dense canopy a period which is well included within the of shade, upon turf growing, a harvest of limits of the upper paleozoic or Permian, asphodels, you may spread your table and the lower Jurassic formations. Alí cloth, set out your luncheon, uncork your the useful coal of the peninsula may conMontepulciano, eat your oranges, and be veniently be described as being of Permiovery happy. What is it that smells so triassic age, and, with two exceptions, it sweet? It is the rosemary you are lying may be added, these measures do not ocon, for the forest is full of it. There is a cur beyond the limits of the peninsula. In casino or villa belonging to Prince Chigi, the extra-peninsular area, coal is found in which is inhabited only for a few weeks in various younger deposits, and there are the spring. Why not for more? They say numerous deposits in Afghanistan, the the malaria strikes no one, at a certain Punjab, at the foot of the Himalayas, in height above the ground. Then why not Assam and Burma, of undoubted lower make yourself a hammock in the topmost tertiary, nummulitic, or eocene coals and boughs of those lofty murmuring pines ? lignites; but it is only quite exceptional Better couch, better cradle, no man could that such deposits possess any great value have; and from your eyrie you would (the chief noteworthy exceptions occur in descry the winding of the Tiber, the Assam and Durma). Tyrrhene main, and Rome itself. The

According to the somewhat liberal estiword reminds you that you must sleep mates of Mr. Hughes, the areas in India, there to-night;' for it is a conventional in which coal-measures occur, including world, and men no longer couch in trees. those unsurveyed, amount in all to thirtyIf you did, where would you find your five thousand square miles, but the thick. breakfast? Like the followers of Æneas, ness of a vast number of the seams of you would have to eat your trenchers; coal in these basins is very varied. For and I much doubt if any Lavinia would be over one century the coal-mining industry in store for you, or any Latin king send of India has been in operation, and there you horses and provender. Back to has been a steady increase in production Rome! It would always be worth while and consumption, especially within the to go fifteen miles from Rome, if only for last ten years. Still the coal resources of the sake of the pleasure of driving back to it. Its majesty never ends nor palls; * A Marual of the Genlogy of India. Part Ill. and nothing can stale its infinite variety Economic Geology. By V. Bail, M.A., F.G.S., Off

ciating Deputy Superintendent, Geological Survey of Etruscan civilization, Roman civilization, India. Published by order of the Government of India. Greek civilization, the early Christian, the Calcutta, 1881.

« VorigeDoorgaan »