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The wild night winds howl'd down the mountain passes ;
'Mid reefs of vapour dark,
On her white wing—the beam
Its fountain free:
Join'd the all glorious lay-
A deep and sweet repose
In noon-day jubilee,
Its golden bands sent forth,
So spiritually bright,
Making the vault of night
And, ever as of old,
“ Joyous we are and free,”
REMINISCENCES OF ROME AND ROMANISM,
DURING THE DAYS OF THE LAST REPUBLIC. The lonely, ageworn, and majestic in decay appearance of Rome, as you approach it from the south, makes an impression on the imagination, which no subsequent experiences of travel can efface, or even sensibly modify. The traveller seems as if he gathered in, in one view, the whole mysterious history of this wonderful city; and it appears as if nothing remained even for the city itself to explain, when he will have entered it, which is not suggested in some dim way to the feeling, as he moves, pondering, towards the gates, through the dismal Campagna. It is impossible to rise above the tide of ideas which rush in from every point of the prospect: due, not to any crowd of details in it, but to the suggestive immensity of the conceptions with which the Eternal City is invested. The world's history is involved in its own. Nor, partly owing to fact, and partly to fancy, does he see anything absurd, or in the least inexplicable, in associating the tale of humanity with the relics lying out before him.
I say relics : for, even when you enter the papal city, everything is coloured by antiquity ; but still more is the term true, as you look upon Rome from a distance, across the solitudes of the Campagna. It was about eleven o'clock one hot day in April of 1849 that, leaving Albano, I began to descend by the Appian Way into the Roman plains. I had walked but a few steps when the Campagna came in view ; and, almost instantly after, a grey collection of stones, like the ashes of an extinct fire, rose out of the bosom of the wide desolate region. The road ran down into the waste, twisting away into the heart of it towards Rome, till it seemed to narrow into a footpath, and at last to lose itself altogether, before it reached the city, some ten or twelve miles off. Shapeless ruins, with a few stripes of arches, sprinkled the bare prospect. Looking inquisitively towards Rome, I sought to descry the dome of St Peter's. A hazy atmosphere, and a confused pile of cloud that skirted the horizon, hanging over the city, hid it from the sight; but, looking up again for relief, lo! against the lurid sky stood out the cupola of the pontiffs ! By this time the city was gathering into shape and order around the august object. I seemed able to rest with certainty on the Capitol and the Palatine. A few hours brought me to the gate of San Giovanni. I entered.
Nobody conld have done so at that moment, whether Papist or Protestant, without a conflict in his mind between the new and the old : between Rome under the Triumviri and the Constituent Assembly of this period, and Rome with a pope in exile, the craft of centuries seeming to totter, and the characteristic associations of the city itself disappearing before the modern ideas of a young and vigorous republic. Everything met with along the road, coming from Naples to Rome, indicated a change, even an overthrow. Not only were the border towers fortified, and straggling troopers found everywhere, scrutinising every symptom of the expected approach of the enemy; but groups of quiet villagers, in the squares and high streets of their little towns, were to be seen eagerly attempting to discuss the new problems which the republic had given them to try their wits upon and solve; and, what was yet more significant, the walls of every garrison and public building were scrawled over with rude oaths and execrations, betokening, by their brevity and clenching power, how, for the moment at least, the general sentiment was one of immitigable hate towards the Papacy and the rule of the sacred college.
The indications of this feeling were distributed over everything that came in one's way, on crossing the frontier between the Neapolitan and Roman States. But the fact, in the form rather of contempt, or, to be yet more exact, expressive of the very general and profound breakingup of superstitious reverence for the Pope and Cardinals (not, as will be afterwards explained, of Romanism, properly so called), met me in a half affecting, half ludicrous way, beyond the states of the church, even at the portals of Gaëta, where the Pope was then harbouring. I had reached on Saturday the Mola di Gaëta, a small town built on the high road between Naples and Rome, and forming, if one may so say, a lodge to the fortified city of Gaëta, which rises on a bold promontory, a pleasant morning's walk distant, and runs down to the edge of the blue waters, thrat flow into its sparkling bay, lined by orchards, then in the golden bloom of these luxuriant parts. The sanctity of the next day, and a desire to see the Pope, disposed me to pass the forenoon at Gaëta, and pick up what religious impressions the symbols and ceremonies of Romanism could afford to a child of the rival church; especially as I learned that the Pope himself was to preside in the cathedral services, attended by his state of Cardinals and other titled functionaries. Arriving at the military outworks, and presenting my passport before the southern gate, I was hastening to move on, when I was stopped. “ This passport is for Rome, signore." " True,"I replied, and I am on my way thither.” “How!” retorted the soldier, “your road is by the Mola. You cannot enter.” I remonstrated. My passport was handed to the chief officer of the guard. “Why, signore, 'tis impossible. Your passport is for Rome; and here, you enter Gaëta.” I explained my position, —a stranger from England; eager, most eager to see the Pope, the spiritual father of so large a portion of Christendom.
66 What will you see about him ?” was the answer, in a whisper; “ his holiness is like other men ;” and here he grinned in my face, as much as to say, the day is over for all that humbug. As I slowly traversed the Campagna, catching, in glimpses,
“ The city, that, by tempe. ance, fortitude,
And love of glory, tower'd above the clouds,
And in her loneliness, her pomp of wo,”every revolutionary incident of the past few days, and, above all, a poor mewed Pope whom the meanest of his children could despise, rolled in upon the memory; recalling, across the multitudinous thoughts of the moment, the chant of the shepherds of the plains, now dirge, or song of jubilee, according to the whim of the feeling,
“ Roma ! Roma! Roma !
Roma non è piu come era prima !" for Rome, whether you greeted or bewailed her case, was, truly, no longer what she once was.
It was not, however, till the pilgrim had entered the city of the Pontiffs, and visited her Vatican and churches, as well as taken in that awful impression of her power, derived from the bewildering skill with which every trophy of her successes, even the successes over her early self, has been converted into bolts and rivets of ecclesiastical despotism, that he could realise both how little and how much had been done by the modern Romans, to shake themselves free of the temporal Popedom. The conviction was irresistible, that, what ages of the best brains and hands of Christendom had been sacrificed to raise, the energy of a few feverish days or years could scarcely hope to do more than shake. Viewing the spiritual and temporal reign of the Pope as one pattern in two colours, woven by one power into one and the same piece, it seemed impossible, without rending the fabric into threads, to disintricate the political from the priestly authority. The arch rose on two piers, with the Pope for keystone. Nor could you see how one should be struck to the ground, without the other, keystone and all, tumbling in like manner. In the meantime, however, and without reasoning, the masses of fixed thouyht, growing out of the whole history of Rome, 'even, one should say, from the birth of her fabled Romulus, which rose ever above the tumult of the streets, in the shape of Pantheons, Coliseums, honorary columns, triumphal arches, obelisks, and especially cathedrals and other imposing ecclesiastical structures, seemed much like the granitic cliff amid the waves which leap and froth at its base ; or the great ocean itself, which tides may agitate, but cannot finally, nor except through long centuries, remove even appreciably out of its ancient basin. Still, this was but the suggestion of sense, having equally its source and object in the senses. When the Spirit of God descends into man, and animates him with faith, mountains vanish before him. Nor, if the tenement be not renewed by the indwelling of the Divine Spirit, can mere bulk do aught but precipitate the fall. It was clear that, insignificant as seemed the rage of the multitude, when measured against the idea of papal generations, the existing life of Rome was on the moving side. The past, however great its accumulations, is in this respect inferior to the present times : that, if it finds no place in the heart of the times themselves, it cannot forcibly take one. Its active energy is over; and some facts in the state of Rome at this period, showed how critical was the moment, if not for Romanism, yet for the Roman Papacy.
One of these was, the clearness and constancy with which the end of the temporal Popedom was declared to be the sole object of the republic; leaving the spiritual power unattacked, and thereby preserving the religious sympathies of the people whole and undivided during the struggle. The Pope was not so much an object of antipathy as the Cardinals ; whose notorious civil delinquencies were a mark for every revolutionist to hit at. The consequence was, that, without dreaming of what the movement might come to, the superstitious attachment of the faithful to the Pope's person, so much as still existed of it, or seemed to themselves to exist, received no obvious shock; the sanctities of their belief, yet untroubled, remained in the dim recesses of the imagination, where they have in all ages sought a refuge; and, from the incommensurable difference, in vulgar fancy, between the Pope and his officers, they could rain a perfect tempest of arrows at the latter, without ever for a moment fearing that one should by any accident fix in the person of the former. The aim of the people was therefore definite, and, from the rise to the fall of the republic, undistracted by counter-tendencies or rival passions. Religion even was invoked in behalf of the republic. The churches resounded with prayers for its prosperity. The walls of the city were whitened with placards appealing to the most sacred emotions of the Catholic community. The office and functions of the faith were contrasted with the damning acts of its servants ; and the very words of spiritual consolation made to rise in condemnation of the men, whose lives were so exquisite a satire on everything which they suggested.
Another thing which popularised the revolutionary movement, and indeed endeared it to all classes, was the fact that the spirit of order which characterised every proceeding of the new government was more especially directed to the safety of all the great works of art deposited in the city. The public collections were as jealously guarded as ever; and every facility for visiting them and carrying forward one's studies, if studies one had, was afforded to the residents, up to the latest possible moment before the bombardment. The halls of the Vatican, filled first with a small detachment of soldiery, stationed so as to overlook every chamber and recess in which its precious treasures were contained, flew open to crowds of strangers and to the general population, on fixed days, as usual. If this reverential care for art and its diffusion were a stroke of policy in the new government, nothing which it could have done was so likely to conciliate the minds of the common people. The fact, however, had nothing political in it. It grew quite naturally out of the form of the revolutionary sentiment, which aimed only at the division of the civil and ecclesiastical powers, not at the overthrow of Romanism, por even, as it seems to us, at its direct reform.
At this period, Rome was, as usual, pretty well stocked with English, of all ranks and idiosyncrasies, who seem to have a wonderful knack of poking their noses into all corners of the world, and of discussing politics à l'Anglaise, when their neighbours are desperately bent on acting them well out. The Café Grèco was the resort of all us English, northern and southern, whither every piece of interesting news was immediately brought, and which was, as it is, the chief rendezvous at Rome for strangers from our quarter of the globe. The thing which most puzzled the politicians of the Café, in the conduct of the Romans, menaced, as they were, by the French, who, already landed at Civita Vecchia, had offered their mediation with authority, was the simple, child-like glee of the population ; who, with threats of unknown horrors hanging over them, and a day only intervening between the threats and their possible execution, were enjoying themselves on the Corso as ever, looking perfectly at ease, as if rather in want of stimulus, than having too much of it; in short, doing as every Roman signor and signora know so well how to do, namely, postponing to the last instant the cessation of their amusements. Judging, therefore, from ourselves, we were all liable to be taken aback, if we found the Romans at last prove in carnest; accordingly, the general opinion was, that there would be no fighting, nor even feint of opposition ; that, when the veritable French should present themselves before the gates, the gates should be courteously opened. The most of us felt a dastardly comfort in the conclusion ; but I, at least, was doomed to have my consolation disturbed, before the erents of the evening threw light upon the Roman character and proceedings.
I had wandered into St Peter's, and was leisurely eyeing the famous lions of Canova, in his monumental group of Rezzonica, when two young officers approached, and, with the child-like simplicity of Roman inanners (a descriptive epithet possibly inconsistent with our popular notions of the Roman character), blandly made some commonplace