John Evelyn.

Diary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryJohn EvelynDiary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 46)
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Arco Portugallo, which is but a relic, heretofore erected
in honour of Domitian, called now Portugallo, from a Car-
dinal living near it. A little further on the right hand,

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 169

stands the column in a small piazza, heretofore set up in
honour of M. Aurelius Antoninus, comprehending in a
basso-relievo of white marble his hostile acts against the
Parthians, Armenians, Germans, &c. ; but it is now some-
what decayed. On the summit has been placed the image
of St. Paul, of gilded copper. The pillar is said to be 161
feet high, ascended by 207 steps, receiving light by fifty-
six apertures, without defacing the sculpture.

At a little distance, are the relics of the Emperor's
Palace, the heads of whose pillars show them to have been

Turning a little down, we came to another piazza, in
which stands a sumptuous vase of porphyry, and a fair
fountain ; but the grace of this market, and indeed the
admiration of the whole world, is the Pantheon, now
called S. Maria della Rotonda, formerly sacred to all
the Gods, and still remaining the most entire antiquity of
the city. It was built by Marcus Agrippa, as testifies the
architrave of the portico, sustained by thirteen pillars of
Thebau marble,'six feet thick, and fifty-three in height, of
one entire stone. In this porch is an old inscription.

Entering the church, we admire the fabric, wholly
covered with one cupola, seemingly suspended in the air,
and receiving light by a hole in the middle only. The
structure is near as high as broad, viz. 144 feet, not count-
ing the thickness of the walls, which is twenty-two more
to the top, all of white marble, and till Urban VIII. con-
verted part of the metal into ordnance of war against the
Duke of Parma, and part to make the high altar in St.
Peter's, it was all over covered with Corinthian brass,
ascending by forty degrees within the roof, or convex, of
the cupola, richly carved with octagons in the stone.
There are niches in the walls, in which stood heretofore
the statues of Jupiter and the other Gods and Goddesses ;
for here was that Venus which had hung in her ear the
other Union* that Cleopatra was about to dissolve and

And in the cup an union shall he throw,
Richer than that which four successive kings
In Denmark's crown have worn.

Shakspeare, Hamlet, Act v. Sc. 2,
ed. Johnson and Steevens.

Theobald says, an union is the finest sort of pearl, and has its place in all


drink up, as she had done its fellow. There are several of
these niches, one above another, for the celestial, terrestrial,
and subterranean deities ; but the place is now converted
into a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and all the
Saints. The pavement is excellent, and the vast folding-
gates, of Corinthian brass. In a word, it is of all the
Roman antiquities the most worthy of notice. There lie
interred in this Temple the famous Raphael di Urbino,
Perino del Vaga, F. Zuccharo, and other painters.

Returning home, we pass by Cardinal Cajetan's Palace,
a noble piece of architecture of Vincenzo Ammanatti,
which is the grace of the whole Corso.

22nd. I went to Trinita del Monte, a monastery
of French, a noble church built by Louis XI. and
Charles VIII., the chapels well painted, especially that
by Zuccari, Volterra, and the cloister with the miracles
of their St. Francis de Paulo, and the heads of the French
Kings. In the pergolo above, the walls are wrought with
excellent perspective, especially the St. John; there are
the Babylonish dials, invented by Kircher, the Jesuit.
This convent, so eminently situated on Mons Pincius, has
the entire prospect of Campus Martius, and has a fair
garden which joins to the Palazzo di Medici.

23rd. I went to hear a sermon at St. Giacomo de gli
Incurabili, a fair church built by F. Volaterra, of good
architecture, and so is the hospital, where only desperate
patients are brought. I passed the evening at St. Maria
del Popolo, heretofore Nero's sepulchre, where his ashes
lay many years in a marble chest. To this church joins
the monastery of St. Augustine, which has pretty gardens
on Mons Pincius, and in the church is the miraculous
shrine of the Madonna which Pope Paul III. brought
barefooted to the place, supplicating for a victory over
the Turks, in 1464. In a chapel of the Ghisi, are some
rare paintings of Raphael, and noble sculptures. Those
two in the choir are by Sansovino, and in the chapel de
Cerasii, a piece of Caravaggio. Here lie buried many great

crowns and coronets. Steevens cites from Soliman and Persida " Ay, were
it Cleopatra's imion" adding the following elucidation of the term from P.
Holland's Translation of Pliny's Natural History : " And hereupon it is that
our dainties and delicates here at Rome, &c. call them unions, as a man would
say singular and by themselves alone." EDIT.


scholars and artists, of which I took notice of this inscrip-

Hospes, disce novum mortis genus; improba felis,
Dum trahitur, digitum inordet, et intereo.

Opposite to the facciata of the church is a superb
obelisk full of hieroglyphics, the same that Sennesertus,
King of Egypt, dedicated to the Sun, brought to Rome by
Augustus, erected in the Circus Maximus, and since
placed here by Pope Sextus V. It is eighty-eight feet
high, of one entire stone, and placed with great art and
engines by the famous Domenico Fontana.

Hence, turning on the right out of the Porto del Popolo,
we came to Justinian's gardens, near the Muro Torto, so
prominently built as threatening every moment to fall, yet
standing so for these thousand years. Under this is the
burying-place for the common prostitutes, where they are
put into the ground, sans ceremonie.

24th. We walked to St. Roche's and Martinets,
near the brink of the Tyber, a large hospital for both
sexes. Hence, to the Mausoleum Augusti, betwixt the
Tyber and the Via Flaminia, now much ruined, which had
formerly contended for its sumptuous architecture. It was
intended as a cemetery for the Roman Emperors, had
twelve ports, and was covered with a cupola of white
marble, environed with stately trees and innumerable
statues, all of it now converted into a garden. We passed
the afternoon at the Sapienza, a very stately building full
of good marbles, especially the portico, of admirable archi-
tecture. These are properly the University Schools,
where lectures are read on Law, Medicine, and Anatomy,
and students perform their exercises.

Hence, we walked to the church of St. Andrea della
Valle, near the former Theatre of Pompey, and the famous
Piccolomini, but given to this church and the Order, who
are Theatins. The Barberini have in this place a chapel,
of curious incrusted marbles of several sorts, and rare
paintings. Under it is the place where St. Sebastian is
said to have been beaten with rods before he was shot with
darts. The cupola is painted by Lanfranc, an inestimable
work, and the whole fabric and monastery adjoining are


25th. I was invited by a Dominican Friar, whom
we usually heard preach to a number of Jews, to be
god-father to a converted Turk and Jew. The ceremony
was performed in the Church of Santa Maria sopra la
Minerva, near the Capitol. They were clad in white;
then exorcised at their entering the church with abund-
ance of ceremonies, and, when led into the choir, were
baptized by a Bishop, in pontificalibus. The Turk lived
afterwards in Rome, sold hot waters, and would bring us
presents when he met us, kneeling and kissing the hems
of our cloaks ; but the Jew was believed to be a counter-
feit. This church, situated on a spacious rising, was
formerly consecrated to Minerva. It was well built and
richly adorned, and the body of St. Catharine di Sienna
lies buried here. The paintings of the chapel are by
Marcello Venuti; the Madonna over the altar is by
Giovanni di Fiesole, called the Angelic Painter, who was of
the Order of these Monks. There are many charities dealt
publicly here, especially at the procession on the Annun-
ciation, when I saw his Holiness, with all the Cardinals,
Prelates, &c., in pontificalibus ; dowries being given to 300
poor girls all clad in white. The Pope had his tiara on
his head, and was carried on men's shoulders in an open
arm-chair, blessing the people as he passed. The statue
of Christ, at the Columna, is esteemed one of the master-
pieces of M. Angelo : innumerable are the paintings by
the best artists, and the organ is accounted one of the
sweetest in Rome. Cardinal Bembo is interred here. We
returned by St. Mark's, a stately church, with an excel-
lent pavement, and a fine piece by Perugino, of the Two
Martyrs. Adjoining to this is a noble palace built by the
famous Bramante.

26th. Ascending the hill, we came to the Forum
Trajanum, where his column stands yet entire, wrought
with admirable basso-relievo recording the Dacian war,
the figures at the upper part appearing of the same
proportion with those below. It is ascended by 192 steps,
enlightened with 44 apertures, or windows, artificially
disposed ; in height from the pedestal 140 feet.

It had once the ashes of Trajan and his statue, where
now stands St. Peter's, of gilt brass, erected by Pope
Sextus V. The sculpture of this stupendous pillar is.

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 173

thought to be the work of Apollodorus ; but what is very
observable is, the descent to the plinth of the pedestal,
showing how this ancient city lies now buried in her ruins ;
this monument being at first set up on a rising ground.
After dinner, we took the air in Cardinal Bentivoglio's
delicious gardens, now but newly deceased. He had a
fair palace built by several good masters on part of the
ruins of Constantino's Baths : well adorned with columns
and paintings, especially those of Guido Rheni.

27th. In the morning, Mr. Henshaw and myself
walked to the Trophies of Marius, erected in honour
of his victory over the Cimbrians, but these now taken
out of their niches are placed on the balusters of the
Capitol, so that their ancient station is now a ruin.
Keeping on our way, we came to St. Croce of Jerusalem,
built by Constantine over the demolition of the Temple of
Venus and Cupid, which he threw down ; and it was here
they report he deposited the wood of the true Cross found
by his mother, Helena ; in honour whereof this church was
built, and in memory of his victory over Maxentius when
that holy sign appeared to him. The edifice without
is Gothic, but very glorious within, especially the roof, and
one tribuna (gallery) well painted. Here is a chapel dedi-
cated to St. Helena, the floor whereof is of earth brought
from Jerusalem ; the walls are of fair mosaic, in which
they suffer no women to enter, save once a year. Under
the high altar of the Church is buried St. Anastasius, in
Lydian marble, and Benedict VII. ; and they show a
number of relics, exposed at our request, with a phial
of our blessed Saviour's blood ; two thorns of his crown ;
three chips of the real cross ; one of the nails, wanting a
point ; St. Thomas's doubting finger ; and a fragment of
the title [put on the cross], being part of a thin board;
some of Judas' s pieces of silver ; and many more, if one
had faith to believe it. To this venerable Church joins a
Monastery, the gardens taking up the space of an ancient

Hence, we passed beyond the walls out at the Port
of St. Laurence, to that Saint's church, and where
his ashes are enshrined. This was also built by the
same great Constantine, famous for the coronation of
Pietro Altissiodorensis, Emperor of Constantinople, by
Honorius the Second. It is said the corpse of St.


Stephen, the proto-martyr, was deposited here by that of
St. Sebastian, which it had no sooner touched, but Sebas-
tian gave it place of its own accord. The Church has no
less than seven privileged altars, and excellent pictures.
About the walls are painted this martyr's sufferin gs ; and, when
they built them, the bones of divers saints were translated to
other churches. The front is Gothic. In our return, we
saw a small ruin of an aqueduct built by Quintus Marcius,
the praetor; and so passed through that incomparable straight
street leading to Santa Maria Maggiore, to our lodging,
sufficiently tired.

We were taken up next morning in seeing the imperti-
nences of the Carnival, when all the world are as mad at
Home as at other places ; but the most remarkable were the
three races of the Barbary horses, that run in the Strada
del Corso without riders, only having spurs so placed on
their backs, and hanging down by their sides, as by their
motion to stimulate them ; then of mares, then of asses,
of buffalos, naked men, old and young, and boys, and
abundance of idle ridiculous pastime. One thing is
remarkable, their acting comedies on a stage placed on
a cart, or plaustrum, where the scene, or tiring-place, is
made of boughs in a rural manner, which they drive from
street to street with a yoke or two of oxen, after the ancient
guise. The streets swarm with prostitutes, buffoons, and
all manner of rabble.

1st March. At the Greek Church, \ve saw the Eastern
ceremonies performed by a Bishop, &c., in that tongue.
Here the unfortunate Duke and Duchess of Bouillon
received their ashes, it being the first day of Lent ; there was
now as much trudging up and down of devotees, as the day
before of licentious people ; all saints alike to appearance.
The gardens of Justinian, which we next visited, are very
full of statues and antiquities, especially urns; amongst
which is that of Minutius Felix ; a terminus that formerly
stood in the Appian way, and a huge colosse of the Emperor
Justinian. There is a delicate aviary on the hill; the
whole gardens furnished with rare collections, fresh, shady,
and adorned with noble fountains. Continuing our walk
a mile farther, we came to Pons Milvius, now Mela, where
Constantine overthrew Maxentius, and saw the miraculous
sign of the cross, In hoc signo vinces. It was a sweet
morning, and the bushes were full of nightingales. Hence,

1C45.] JOHN EVELYN. 175

to Aqua Claudia again, an aqueduct finished by that
Emperor at the expense of eight millions. In the afternoon,
to Farnese's gardens, near the Campo Vaccino ; and upon
the Palatine Mount to survey the ruins of Juno's Temple,
in the Piscina, a piazza so called near the famous bridge
built by Antoninus Pius, and re-edified by Pope Sextus IV.

The rest of this week, we went to the Vatican, to hear
the sermons, at St. Peter's, of the most famous preachers,
who discourse on the same subjects and texts yearly, full
of Italian eloquence and action. On our Lady-day, 25th
March, we saw the Pope and Cardinals ride in pomp to the
Minerva, the great guns of the Castle St. Angelo being
fired, when he gives portions to 500 zitelle [young women] ,
who kiss his feet in procession, some destined to marry,
some to be nuns ; the scholars of the college celebrating
the blessed Virgin with their compositions. The next day,
his Holiness was busied in blessing golden roses, to be sent
to several great Princes ; the Procurator of the Carmelites
preaching on our Saviour's feeding the multitude with five
loaves, the ceremony ends. The sacrament being this day
exposed, and the relics of the Holy Cross, the concourse
about the streets is extraordinary. On Palm-Sunday,
there was a great procession, after a papal mass.

llth April. St. Veronica's handkerchief [with the
impression of our Saviour's face] was exposed, and the next
day the spear, with a world of ceremony. On Holy Thurs-
day, the Pope said mass, and afterwards carried the Host
in procession about the chapel, with an infinity of tapers.
This finished, his Holiness was carried in his open chair on
men's shoulders to the place where, reading the Bull
in Ccend Domini, he both curses and blesses all in a breath ;
then the guns are again fired. Hence, he went to the
Ducal hall of the Vatican, where he washed the feet of
twelve poor men, with almost the same ceremony as it is
done at Whitehall; they have clothes, a dinner, and alms,
which he gives with his own hands, and serves at their
table; they have also gold and silver medals, but their
garments are of white woollen long robes, as we paint the
Apostles. The same ceremonies are done by the Conser-
vators and other officers of state at St. John di Lateran ;
and now the table on which they say our blessed Lord
celebrated his last supper is set out, and the heads of the


Apostles. In every famous church they are busy in dres-
sing up their pageantries to represent the Holy Sepulchre,
of which we went to visit divers.

On Good Friday, we went again to St. Peter's, where
the handkerchief, lance, and cross were all exposed, and
worshipped together. All the confession-seats were filled
with devout people, and at night was a procession of several
who most lamentably whipped themselves till the blood
stained their clothes, for some had shirts, others upon the
bare back, having visors and masks on their faces ; at every
three or four steps dashing the knotted and ravelled whip-
cord over their shoulders, as hard as they could lay it on ;
whilst some of the religious orders and fraternities sung
in a dismal tone, the lights and crosses going before,
making altogether a horrible and indeed heathenish

The next day, there was much ceremony at St. John di
Lateran, so as the whole week was spent in running from
church to church, all the town in busy devotion, great
silence, and unimaginable superstition.

Easter-day, I was awakened by the guns from St. Angelo:
we went to St. Peter's, where the Pope himself celebrated
mass, showed the relics before-named, and gave a public

Monday, we went to hear music in the Chiesa Nova,
and though there were abundance of ceremonies at the
other great churches, and great exposure of relics ; yet
being wearied with sights of this nature, and the season of
the year, summer, at Rome being very dangerous, by
reason of the heats minding us of returning northwards,
we spent the rest of our time in visiting such places as we
had not yet sufficiently seen ; only I do not forget the
Pope's benediction of the Con/alone, or Standard, and
giving the hallowed palms ; and, on May-day, the great
procession of the University and the muleteers at St.
Antony's, and their setting up a foolish May-pole in the
Capitol, very ridiculous. We therefore now took coach a
little out of town, to visit the famous Roma Soterranea,
being much like what we had seen at St. Sebastian's.
Here, in a corn-field, guided by two torches, we crept on
our bellies into a little hole, about twenty paces, which
delivered us into a large entry that led us into several

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 177

streets, or alleys, a good depth in the bowels of the earth, a
strange and fearful passage for divers miles, as Bosio has
measured and described them in his book.* We ever and
anon came into pretty square rooms, that seemed to be
chapels with altars, and some adorned with very ordinary
ancient painting. Many skeletons and bodies are placed
on the sides one above the other in degrees like shelves,
whereof some are shut up with a coarse flat stone, having
engraven on them Pro Christo, or a cross and palms, which
are supposed to have been martyrs. Here, in all likeli-
hood, were the meetings of the primitive Christians during
the persecutions, as Pliny the younger describes them.
As I was prying about, I found a glass phial, filled (as was
conjectured) with dried blood, and two lachrymatories.
Many of the bodies, or rather bones (for there appeared
nothing else) lay so entire, as if placed by the art of the
chirurgeon, but being only touched fell all to dust. Thus,
after wandering two or three miles in this subterranean
meander, we returned almost blind when we came into the
day-light, and even choked by the smoke of the torches.
It is said that a French bishop and his retinue adventuring
too far in these dens, their lights going out, were never
heard of more.

We were entertained at night with an English play at
the Jesuits', where we before had dined ; and the next day
at Prince Galicano's, who himself composed the music to
a magnificent opera, where were present Cardinal Pam-
philio, the Pope's nephew, the Governors of Borne, the
cardinals, ambassadors, ladies, and a number of nobility
and strangers. There had been in the morning a joust
and tournament of several young gentlemen on a formal
defy, to which we had been invited ; the prizes being dis-
tributed by the ladies, after the knight-errantry way. The
lancers and swordsmen running at tilt against the barriers,
with a great deal of clatter, but without any bloodshed,
giving much diversion to the spectators, and was new to us

The next day, Mr. Henshaw and I spent the morning
in attending the entrance and cavalcade of Cardinal Medici,
the ambassador from the Grand Duke of Florence, by the

* Intituled, Roma Sotteitfnea, folio, Rom. 1632.


Via Flaminia. After dinner, we went again to the Villa
Borghese, about a mile without the city; the garden is
rather a park, or Paradise, contrived and planted with
walks and shades of myrtles, cypress, and other trees, and
groves, with abundance of fountains, statues, and bass-
relievos, and several pretty murmuring rivulets. Here
they had hung large nets to catch woodcocks. There was
also a vivary, where, amongst other exotic fowls, was an
ostrich ; besides a most capacious aviary ; and, in another
inclosed part, a herd of deer. Before the Palace (which
might become the court of a great prince) stands a noble
fountain, of white marble, enriched with statues. The
outer walls of the house are encrusted with excellent
antique bass-relievos, of the same marble, incornished with
festoons and niches set with statues from the foundation
to the roof. A stately portico joins the Palace, full of
statues and columns of marble, urns, and other curiosities
of sculpture. In the first hall were the Twelve Caesars, of
antique marble, and the whole apartments furnished with
pictures of the most celebrated masters, and two rare tables
of porphyry, of great value. But of this already ; * for I
often visited this delicious place.

This night were glorious fire-works at the Palace of
Cardinal Medici before the gate, and lights of several
colours all about the windows through the city, which
they contrive by setting the candles in little paper lanterns
dyed with various colours, placing hundreds of them from
story to story ; which renders a gallant show.

May 4th. Having seen the entry of the ambassador of
Lucca, I went to the Vatican, where, by favour of our
Cardinal Protector, Fran. Barberini, I was admitted into
the consistory, heard the ambassador make his oration in
Latin to the Pope, sitting on an elevated state, or throne,
and changing two pontifical mitres; after which, I was
presented to kiss his toe, that is, his embroidered slipper,
two Cardinals holding up his vest and surplice, and then
being sufficiently blessed with his thumb and two fingers
for that day, I returned home to dinner.

We went again to see the medals of Signor Gotefredi,
which are absolutely the best collection in Rome.

Passing the Ludovisia Villa, where the petrified human

* See p. 117.

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 179

figure lies, found on the snowy Alps ; I measured the
hydra, and found it not a foot long ; the three necks and
fifteen heads seem to be but patched up with several pieces
of serpents' skins.

5th. We took coach, and went fifteen miles out of
the city to Frascati, formerly Tusculum, a villa of Cardinal
Aldobrandini, built for a country-house ; but surpassing,
in my opinion, the most delicious places I ever beheld for
its situation, elegance, plentiful water, groves, ascents, and
prospects. Just behind the Palace (which is of excellent
architecture) in the centre of the enclosure, rises a high
hill, or mountain, all over clad with tall wood, and so
formed by nature, as if it had been cut out by art, from
the summit whereof falls a cascade, seeming rather a great
river than a stream precipitating into a large theatre of
water, representing an exact and perfect rainbow, when
the sun shines out. Under this, is made an artificial grot,
wherein are curious rocks, hydraulic organs, and all sorts
of singing birds, moving and chirping by force of the
water, with several other pageants and surprising inven-
tions. In the centre of one of these rooms, rises a copper

Online LibraryJohn EvelynDiary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 46)