« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Over Land and Sea.
By Edw. A. Gernant. AMBROSE AND BORROMEO. Milan is said to be the best-paved city in Europe. This is saying a great deal, for it must be remembered that even in Ireland streets, such as one finds among the best in our American cities, would not be tolerated in a town of ordinary size and importance. In Milan anything like mud is impossible. From side to side the smooth hard stones form a solid road-bed which has become firmer and smoother, as the centuries advance. The streets decline towards the centre, where there are narrow slitlike openings, through which the rain passes into the sewers below. Thus there are neither curb-stones nor gutters. Along the houses the streets are laid with smooth granite blocks, forming a foot-path about six feet wide on either side. Between these the balance of the street is uniformly paved with very small and regular round stones, hard as a rock, but easy for horses. The city being almost perfectly level, there is but little or no resistance to rapid traveling. Every night the streets are swept and washed, and even during the day men may be seen going up and down the principal thoroughfares cleansing and sprinkling. The house drainage is carried into the sewers by means of underground pipes. The Milanese may perhaps not be less lazy than their countrymen, but they certainly are not
In round numbers Milan has a population of about 300,000. During the last twenty years it has undergone great improvements, and is now one of the leading commercial cities in Italy. In the domain of art it has ever maintained a front rank. To its position in this regard we shall have occasion to refer more in detail. The business of Milan comes to a focus in, and clusters around, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. This is a truly imposing structure on the north side of the Cathedral, three hundred and twenty yards long and sixteen yards wide. It is built in the form of a Latin cross over the octagonal centre of which a cupola riɛes to the height of
one hundred and eighty feet. This immense arcade is lined with tempting stores of every imaginable industry, and here at all hours of the day and night the dark-eyed Milanese belles in their bright veils and low-necked bodices engage in the enjoyments of that universal feminine paradise-shopping. The Galleria was begun in 1865 and named in honor of the late king. Always a place of resort and more or less thronged; in the evening the sight is especially brilliant. Then upwards of two thousand gas jets illumine the spacious arcade, lighting up the decorated and frescoed walls, causing the numerous memorial statues to glow with life and glinting across the richly-colored mosaic flooring.
No matter from what direction you approach Milan, the spires and statues of its great Cathedral confront the eye. Of world-wide celebrity and unequalled splendor it is perhaps the city's chief glory. But there is one other church of even greater interest to the student of ecclesiastical history. Although of no great size or beauty it is indeed a shrine where Romanist and Protestant alike may feel a common possession and rejoice in the Catholicity of their faith This is the church of St. Ambrose, venerable as the good bishop himself from whom it takes its name. It was dedicated by that most irreproachable of early Church fathers on the nineteenth of June, A..D. 387, and is accordingly one of the most satisfying specimens of primitive Christian architecture. Although it has undergone repairs several times since then, it has never been much altered. Built of brick, it is dark and prison-like and soberly impressive. Immediately in front an arcaded court-yard reminds one of the time, when the candidates for baptism, still under instruction, were not yet admitted into the sanctuary proper on all occasions; their novitiate or half-Christian status being thus externally indicated. The interior is unpretentious, and anything but grand. Low, wide arches span the ceiling, and give the building a vault-like appearance. There is nothing here akin to the gorgeous tinsel of modern Romanism. Curious worm-eaten paintings, ancient tombs, and half-defaced inscriptions
relieve the solemn plainness. Erected on the ruins of a temple of Bacchus its general style is Romanesque, the result partly, however, of a twelfth century modification. To the heavy doors or gates of the main portal a remarkable history attaches, which illustrates the stringency of discipline in those early days and exalts the piety of the good old saint. About the year 390 the emperor Theodosius reigned over a large portion of the Roman Empire. Orthodox and God-fearing he was nevertheless passionate and impetuous. A riot in Thessalonica had excited his anger. In a momentary fit of uncontrollable rage he had ruthlessly caused the massacre of seven thousand of the inhabitants, irrespective of age, sex, or degree of guilt, and all this notwithstanding his promise of unconditional pardon given to St. Ambrose. Returning to Milan he proceeded to the Church, intending to partake of the Holy Communion. And now ensued that most notable encounter between the purity of the church on the one hand and the majesty and influence of the state on the other. The good bishop met the emperor at the doors, closing them in his face, refusing admittance, and saying: "Sir, let not the splendors of your purple robes hinder you from being acquainted with the infirmities of the body which they cover. How will you stretch forth in prayer those hands that are still reeking with the blood of the innocent? How will you presume with such hands to receive the sacred Body of our Lord? How will you lift up His precious Blood to those lips which lately uttered so savage a decree for the unjust shedding of so much blood? Depart, therefore, and seek not, by a second offence, to aggravate your former fault." The mighty Emperor retired, overwhelmed with mortification and grief; not indignant, but conscious of the enormity of his crime and the justice of the pure-minded bishop's condemnation and rebuke. Deeply repenting, he put on sack-cloth and subjected himself to the severest discipline of true sorrow for sin. After eight months he once more presented himself before St. Ambrose, and craved the right of fellowship with the members of the church. But not until he had faithfully promised,
never again to resort to such cruel punishment, did he receive restoring absolution and readmission into the enjoyment of Christian privileges. St. Ambrose was perhaps not altogether without an admixture of ecclesiastical pride, but he certainly maintained the cause of Christian gentleness and mercy against the tyranny and rapacity of military despotism. "Thus," says Hase, "did the church prove, in a time of unlimited arbitrary power, the refuge of popular freedom, and saints assume the part of tribunes of the people."
There are many objects of interest in this old basilica. Rare mosaics dating as early as the fifth century, frescoes, paintings and statues of New Testament characters, of our blessed Lord, and of numerous primitive saints. In the crypt rest the bones of St. Ambrose himself, before which we found a changing throng of tourists and pious pilgrims, a shrine, where Protestant and Romanist alike seemed awed into more or less respectful silence. Perhaps the most curious relic in the church is a brazen serpent resting on the top of a detached column in the nave. Tradition affirms this to be none other than that which was erected by Moses in the wilderness. The belief is harmless, yet evidently a mere superstition, with no shadow of authentic testimony to sustain it. Judged from its own standpoint it is one of the interesting deceptions, fostered by an infallible church.
We made two visits to the great Cathedral, and went away each time, feeling that we had only begun to appre ciate its beauty and realize its extent. It is the third largest church in Europe; St. Peter's and the Cathedral at Seville alone surpassing it. But one might give dimensions and make specifications of the cost of its erection, one might go farther and describe its general style of construction, and write learnedly of nave and transept and apse, of its probable imitation of the Dom at Cologne and of the later Renaissance modifications, one might do all this and even more, and yet in the end efford no proper conception of the wonderful structure itself. A vast forest of white marble, with statues for foliage and mounting tiers of clustered monuments and airy spires for interlocking vines
and undergrowth, it is hard to conceive how any building reared by man could ever excel it in richness of ornamentation and minuteness of detail. "This structure," says Baedeker, "which was founded by the splendor-loving Gian Galeazzo Visconti in 1386, apparently after the model of the Cologne Cathedral, progressed but slowly owing to the dissensions and jealousies of Italian and Northern architects." This last circumstance was also the cause of many curious anachronisms and inconsistencies, both in style and execution. In the contemplation of the whole, however, these sink away and leave only a symmetrical and glorious temple. Although in great part finished towards the close of the fifteenth century, it is even yet undergoing improvement and ornamentation. At the beginning of the present century Napoleon gave the work a mighty impulse, and himself added the tower surmounting the dome over the High Altar. The interior is 480 feet long and 180 feet broad. The ground plan is cruciform, the nave and transept being also double-aisled. The ceiling rests upon fifty-two massive pillars, twelve feet in diameter, surmounted not by the usual frieze and capital, but bearing statues enclosed in canopied niches.
Particulars such as these can easily be gathered and are probably not new to the reader. The marvellous building must be seen to be rightly estimated. The lofty arches, lustrous walls and magnificently painted windows, shrines, sarcophagi and royal tombs give to the interior an air of grandeur, which cannot be described. The vaulted nave rises to the height of 155 feet, and serves to enhance the general effect. Just in front of the choir a circular opening surrounded by an ornamental iron railing, reveals a subterranean chapel. Here rest the bones of San Carlo Borromeo, Milan's greatest of archbishops. Lamps are kept burning before the richly decorated tomb which bears the celebrated prelate's favorite motto: "Umilitas" inscribed in golden letters. A fee of five francs would have secured the blessed privilege of looking in through the grating upon the relics of good San Carlo, but to us such sights have no attraction, and we did not em
brace the opportunity. Although ready to revere the memory of the great and noble of all ages, and especially of those who have fought the good fight of faith our interest never comprehended the ghastly disclosure of robed and be-jewelled skeletons. Doubtless the early fathers and mediaeval saints, with whose unquiet remains Rome now works her miracles (?) and fills her coffers, had they anticipated such violation of death's repose, would have warned future ages, even as Shakespeare did, with the promise of a blessing and the menace of a curse.
The beauty and greatness of the Cathedral is perhaps no where so completely and satisfactorily realized as when standing on its roof with its wonderful forest of turrets, pinnacles and statues around and beneath one. The ascent is gradual and not at all fatiguing. Instead of turning and twisting up a narrow circular staircase, you go up a square tower, in flights of three or four straight steps at a time; these succeeding flights being separated by wide landing places. Then to the roof itself islike a series of low steps, thirty or forty feet wide, and sloping gently towards the apex. We mounted at once to the upper gallery of the principal tower, five hundred steps above the mosaic flooring of the cathedral. A warm, slow and drizzling rain prevented our seeing much of the surrounding landscape. On a clear day the Alps and Apennines are plainly visible, not excepting Mont Blanc and the peaks of the Bernese Oberland. But for nearly half an hour we walked to and fro upon the great white roof. The wondrous edifice alone was itself quite enough to detain us. The profusion of marble balustrades, buttresses, statues and pinnacles is almost incredible. The exterior of the Cathedral is one mass of blooming stone. "The wilderness of tracery, which surrounds the roof, delicately marked against the sky, gives to the whole structure, large and massive as it is, the appearance of being as light and fragile as if the first gust of heavy wind might be expected to topple it over." The exterior walls, though most elaborately carved, are themselves but the rich setting for thousands of statues of every imaginable size and
subject, each one again in itself a perfect gem of the sculptor's art. Their number has been variously estimated. There are certainly no less than five thousand, and probably many more. Altogether, the Cathedral of Milan, ideally less satisfying than that of Cologne, is one of the most beautiful and remarkable structures ever reared by man. "Perhaps one of its greatest charms," says Sewell, "is, that every part which has yet been completed, has been done in the best way; no expense has been spared; and even in places, where, as the common saying is, no one would notice, it is as delicately carved and ornamented as in the front. The building was raised for the honor of God; and they who planned it knew that His Eye can see everywhere."
"Mr. Carlyle comes here from London now and then to see this grave. He is a gaunt, shaggy, weird kind of an old man, looking very old the last time he was here-eightysix-and comes here to this grave all the way from London. Mr. Carlyle himself is to be brought to be buried with his wife. He comes here lonesome and alone when he visits his wife's grave. His niece keeps him company to the gate, but he leaves her there and she stays there for him. The last time he was here I got a sight of him, and he was bowed down under his white hairs, and he took his way up by that ruined wall of the old cathedral, and round there, and in here by the gateway, and he tottered up here to this spot. Softly spake the grave-digger, and paused. Softer still, in the broad dialect of the Lothians, he proceeded: And he stood here awhile in the grass, then he bent over and I saw him kiss the ground,―aye, he kissed it again and again,and he kept kneeling, and it was a long time before he rose and tottered out of the cathedral and wandered through the graveyard to the gate, where his niece stood waiting for him."
It was old Thomas Carlyle, whose lonely heart was home-sick for the human sympathy of his wife, long since dead. On February 5th he, too, passed away, at the age of eighty-six years. His wife died in 1866. She was a lineal descendant of Scotland's great reformer, John Knox. He was but thirty-one
when he married Jane Welch. Their working farmer, well-booked in his catechism and in the heroic history of the Scotch Covenanters. Of him Carlyle says:
"I think of all men I have ever known my
wedded life was cheerful but childless. However his cold, rugged nature might repulse some and provoke bitter attacks from others, she always understood him, and could enter into cordial sympathy with him. One day she died suddenly in a coach, as she was riding through one of the streets of London. Her death was like the setting of a sun in his heart and home, and left him dreary and solate. He buried her remains in Haddington church-yard, and marked her grave with a suitable monument. When old and grey-headed he said, as he bowed over the dust of his wife, that "the lighting, I discovered that every one of them I
I can re
father was quite the remarkablest. Quite a farmer sort of person, using vigilant thrift and careful husbandry; abiding by veracity and faith, and with an extraordinary insight into the very heart of things and men. de-member that from my childhood I was sur knew not the meaning; and even as I grew to prised at his using many words of which I manhood I was not a little puzzled by them, and supposed that they must be of his own coinage. But later, in my black-letter read
of his life is clean gone out of him."
could recall was of the sound Saxon stock which had lain buried, yet fruitful withal and most significant in the quick memory of the humbler sort of folk."
"He was an elder of the kirk, and it was very pleasant to see him in his daily and weekly relations with the minister of the parish. They had been friends from their youth, and had grown up together in the service of their common Master. It was a pleasant thing
to see the minister in cassock and bands come
Our young readers may not have
forth on the Sabbath day and stand up to lead
upon the sofa, and I plied him with all man-
main treasures of the most valuable ma-ings came that my father was dead. He had terial-mines and quarries out of which gone to bed at night as well as usual, it seemmany inferior minds will gather the ore ed, but they found in the morning that he had from which to build reputations that passed from the realm of Sleep to that of Day. It was a fit end for such a life as his had been. may for a season outshine that of Car-Ah, sir, he was a man, into the four corners of lyle. But we wish to speak of his character and habits, rather than of his writings.
whose house there had shined, through the years of his pilgrimage, by day and by night, the light of the glory of God. Like Enoch of old, he had walked with God, and at last he
He was born in a small village in the was not, for God took him. If I could only Highlands of Scotland. His father was see such men now as were my father and his an elder in the village church-a hard- | minister-men of such fearless truth and simple