H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

A poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient online

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flight, we see children fall into wells who yet are saved. It is
a whole miniature exhibition of miracles a whole gallery of
misfortunes which have a good end ; there is no place on
the house itself for more votive tablets, and therefore the last
ve placed on the opposite wall.


But we must take a look at the square itself. In the centre
of it stands a mighty stone Triton, who with puffed-out cheeks
blows in the conch-shell, so that the jet of water rises many
yards in the sunshine, and plays like a prism, with the colors
of the rainbow. Splendid white oxen, with horns an ell long,
lie here detached from the wagons ; groups of peasants, with
variegated ribbons around their pointed hats, stand and play
mora ; girls so healthy-looking and handsome, with golden
combs in their glistening black hair are looking at a couple of
dancers. The tambourine sounds it is merry to see and
hear. The Capuchin monk, who goes past with his beggar's
wallet on his back, looks askant with a smile at the happy

Yes, here we are, in the heart of Rome ! In this quarter
strangers generally live ; here we will also stay, and from
hence make our excursions and see yes the whole in detail,
as it revealed itself to me in the most lively manner.



THE Church of San Carlo is in the street II Corso ; song
and music sounded through the high arches ; a thousand
lights were borne in procession ; a white, gilded coffin with
a sky-blue lid stood on a high . tressel, surrounded by can-
delabras with burning censers : but no earthly dust lay in this
coffin ! In the Church of Maria Maggiore, 1 in the rich tombs
of the Borghese family, reposed Guendalina Borghese Talbot ;
here, before this empty sarcophagus, expensive masses for the
soul's repose were read, and the poor wept for her they had

In the last months of the year 1840, the angel of death
sailed every night up the yellow Tiber, landed, and traced with
rapid steps the narrow streets, to the house of the poor, and

1 One of Rome's most important and handsomest churches ; its forty
Ionic pillars of Grecian marble are from the temple of Juno Lucina: tba
ceiling is gilded with the first gold that came from Peru to Europe.


to the palace of the rich ; and wherever he came, he wrote the
sign of death over one head.

In the silent streets by night, in the noisy crowd by day, but
not visible to mortal eye, the angel of death passed up the
narrow brick-built stairs and up the broad marble flags.

In Via Ripetta, one of the three straight streets which lead
from Piazza, del Popolo, there is a small uninhabited house ;
an ample open bow front forms the two uppermost stories, so
that from the windows of the Palazzo Borghese, where one
wing looks toward the narrow side-street, one can see through
this bowed front into Via Ripetta, see the yellow Tiber, that
part of it where the ferry is ; the opposite shore, the Church of
St. Peter, and even the distant hills. The chamber in the Pa-
lazzo Borghese, from whence we have this prospect, belongs to
the great picture gallery which extends through several sa-
loons : here Leonello Spada's concert sends forth its everlast-
ing tones ; here the red evening sky never fades over Lot and
his daughters ; Gerardo delle Notti called them into life
with soul and flame ; the golden shower pours down on Da-
nae's lap with that metallic clang which Raphael alone could
impart to it.

Through these saloons the angel of death passed in the
night, with large, expanded wings which covered and concealed
everything behind them. See ! on his brow the star shines
and predicts for us an immortality. He is no skeleton, but a
daring youth who boldly cuts the thread of life.

Through these saloons the angel of death sped. Domeni-
chino's sybil seemed to raise her eyes ! Caesar Borgia, to
whom Raphael has given immortality, would have stepped out
of his frame ; but death's angel swept silently onward, up the
broad staircase, between the noble statues.

A son of the Borghese race was ordained to die. And the
crape veil was fixed to the rich hatchment ; but before it was
hung up, the angel of death came again ; it sought the mother
who wept for her child ; he kissed her bosom and she was
dead mother and son were dead.

The poor wept ! There was sorrow in the cottage, there
.was wailing in the rich palace of the Borghese ; but there still
lived two sons. And death's angel came again ; one son


more must die ; at last one remained, but sorrow was at his
heart, and fever in his blood.

" Where is my brother ? " he asked ; and at the same mo-
ment they bore the corpse of his brother through the gates
of the palace.

No answer was given : the angel of death kissed the ques-
tioner's lips. He also was dead !

There was weeping and wailing in the rich and m ignifi-
cent palace of the Borghese ; the best, the kindest mother
was dead, and with her, three sons ! Eternal Rome shed tears
its poets sang to the harp their dirge of sorrow ; one
touched my heart, I give it here :


" La Morte della Principessa Guendalina Borghese Talbot, seguita da
quella di tre suoi FiglL

"Presso al Tamigi un Fior di Paradiso

La Fe piantb con somma cura un giorno ;
Bello ci crebbe in quel suol piii d'un narciso :
Tanto era in suo candor di grazie adorno !

u Quindi la Carita fiammante in viso

Del Tebro il trapiantu nel bel soggiorno,
E qul destava in tutti amore e riso
Per la fraganza che spandea d'intorno.

" Ma il grato olezzo anchc su in cielo ascese,
Onde averlo fra loro ebber desio
L'Alme ch'ivi si stanno al gaudio intese.

" Allora a un divin ccnno Angiol partio

Che svelto il Fior con tre germogli, il rese
All' amor de' beati, e in grembo a Dio.

Di. F. F.


YES, there are no less than three hundred and twenty-
eight churches in the city of Rome. To describe them
would be just as tedious as to read the description ; we will,
therefore, confine ourselves to three, situated in the same
quarter : and here let us enter.


Ascending the Spanish Stairs, we behold the Church Trinitk
dei Monti : a crowd of strangers flock here every Sunday morn-
ing, to hear the singing and music of the holy sisters. The
blind beggar holds up the heavy curtain before the door with
his back, that the crowd may enter with greater ease. He
rattles his tin box ; no one appears to notice it, for the tones
of the soft female voices are already heard : it seems to be
the weeping of angels dissolved in harmony. No spiritless
sermon disturbs the devotion: the thoughts risd; in music's
sound, to God.

The church is light and comfortable ; the sun shines on the
gilded and ornamented walls. A trellis separates the congre-
gation from the nuns, who sit around the altar, with the poor
little girls they educate. Over the trellis is painted a burn-
ing heart, encircled by a wreath of thorns. Does it mean,
"The heart shall burn for God in the thorns of the earth
alone?" or does it signify, " My heart burns, but the cloister's
thorns are set around it ? "

With a life-enjoying look, the strangers stare through the
trellis at the imprisoned doves. Alas ! which is better : alone
with God and one's self to sit under the dark cypress in the
cloister-garden, or to listen to the fluttering birds that fly in
pairs over hill and dale, where the net is outstretched, and
the hunter takes his aim ? Ask not the pale young nun !
Disturb her not ; she has wept her pains away, and to-day
she sings her gladness behind that black barrier.

They related of one of the sisters, who had once sung the
sweetest of them all, and was palest of them all, that strangers
had missed her one Sunday morning ; that at the same hour
two old men dug her grave in the cloister-garden ; and the
spade sounded it struck against the hard stone ; the earth
was thrown up, and a marble figure, from the olden time, was
raised from the earth. A handsome Bacchus, the god of en-
joyment, rose to the light of day from that grave which was to
receive one who never enjoyed life. The grave also can be
ironical !

From the Church Trinita dei Monti we wander down the
street, turn round the corner, and stand before the Church of
he Capuchins. Within its walls are to be found beautiful


paintings ; in the cloister there are cool walks ; they encompass
a little garden, where the citron-trees grow, their branches
heavy with fruit ; but we will not linger here. Beneath the
church, yet not under ground, is a row of chapels, and these
we will visit The sun shines in here ; through the barred
windows the air blows fresh and pure, and yet we are amongst
the dead. The floor, ceiling all the small chapels here are
constructed entirely of human bones ; whichever side we look
we see nothing but the joints of bones ; they form rosettes,
rings, and figures. One of the skulls has two hip-bones,
placed in such a manner beside it that they look like two
wings. A throne of bones is raised in one of these niches :
two little children's skeletons "hover like angels above it, two
hip-bones joined together, form their wings. Chandeliers
made also of human bones hang here, and are drawn up and
down with a small cord. Hands grasping each other, form
strange arabesques ; but the floor within each little chapel is of
earth, mixed with mould from Jerusalem. The remains of the
monks which are laid here are taken up again after a lapse of
eight years ; if the limbs still hang together, the dead body is
wrapped in a Capuchin's cloak, and set up in one of the
niches, and a bouquet of flowers, or a prayer-book, is placed
in his hand.

It is strange to see what an extremely different expression
can reside in these mummy-like physiognomies. The monk
who shows you about, will often point to one of these silent
figures, and say, " He was my friend and brother in the clois-
ter here ; we were dear to each other : pray for us."

The whole is a memento mori never to be eradicated, and yet
the sight has nothing disagreeable in it ; it is the earthly, the
perishable part we see, but it is present to us in our sunshine,
in our fresh air, it is as if it mocked itself to soften the
image of death to others.

The third church we will visit is Santa Maria degli AngelL
It is situated in the midst of the ruins of Diocletian's baths,
which appear as if they were a part of the old walls of the
city. They occupy a considerable space. One part of it
seems to serve as a store-house for hay, another is transformed
into a large hospital ; close up to this, through a row of broken-


down arches and shattered walls, is seen an entrance as if into
a chapel. We enter, and stand in one of the largest and
handsomest churches in Rome.

It is Diocletian's bathing room. Immense columns, each a
single block of granite, still stand proudly and unchanged
from his time. 1

In this church there is something very pleasant, and refresh-
ing as if one were in the open air under the shade of the pine-
trees, and at the same time all is so solemn, solitary, really
Catholic ! The walls display some of the finest paintings.
Here is Domenichino's " St. Sebastian," and Carlo Maratti's
" Baptism of Christ."

In the chapel-like building which we pass through to enter
the church, lie the remains of Carlo Maratti to the left, and
Salvator Rosa to the right, with the bust of each over their
graves. Opposite these two tombs are two others, on which
the epitaphs appeared to me the most beautiful and full of
meaning that I have hitherto read. They run thus :

" Corpus humo tegitur,
Fama per ora volat,
Spiritus astra tenet."

The other is not less significant,

" Virtute vixit,
Memoria vivit,
Gloria vivet."

In none other of the large churches in Rome do we find such
solitude as here : we see but a few strangers slowly moving
upon the marble floor, and a monk drawing the curtain aside
from one of the hidden paintings. The door of the cloister
stands ajar, and if we have peeped in, we feel a desire to
remain here ; for in the cloister, as in the church, there is
nothing depressing to be seen. Large, cool, refreshing ar-
cades inclose a garden full of the largest cypresses that Rome
can boast. I have never seen any poplars higher or more
luxuriant than these trees, which cast their broad shade over
a fountain.

One feels an inclination to work with the monk who plants

1 The eight columns are each sixteen feet in circumference and forty-
*hrce in height.


roots and herbs in the little gardens outside the cell. Every
garden here is like an arbor of vine leaves, oranges, and
lemons. The warm rays of the sun play between the dark
green leaves, and, as it were, blend with the golden, lustrous

From this odorous, green chapel of nature the monk wan-
ders into the church, bends his knee, and praises his God in
quiet loneliness.



" THE old gods still live ! " Yes, one can say so in a story
but in reality ? that is itself often a romance.

The child who reads " The Arabian Nights," sees in imagin-
ation the most magnificent enchanted palaces, and feels happy
in his half-belief; but then comes the child of maturer growth,
and says, " Such things are not to be found in reality ! " and
yet they are to be found here. The Vatican and St. Peter's
Church in Rome present a vastness, a pomp, and an appear-
ance similar and equal to those palaces which fancy has raised
in the old oriental book, " A Thousand and One Nights."
We must ourselves see them, and learn if the old gods still live.

We now stand in St. Peter's Place, and perceive to the right
and left three rows of arcades. The church directly before us
is in every respect so vast that we have no measure to describe
it ; it harmonizes so perfectly with the " place," and with the
mighty Vatican close by, that we can only say, " Yes, it is a
large three-storied building ! " But we look at the crowd that
throng up the stairs, and which extend the whole breadth of
the building, and they are reduced to pigmies as soon as
the eye has conceived the proportions of the doors and win-
dows. We acknowledge the magnitude without having as yet
understood it

In the centre of the place stands an obelisk. There are
two fountains, one on each side of this obelisk. Look at these
in conjunction with all, and, with respect to all around and
about, they are of a suitable size ; but if we regard them by


themselves we see that they are astonishingly great It is re-
lated of a foreign prince, that on seeing this immense mass of
water, he cried out, " That is enough ! " imagining that this
extraordinary display was only made in honor of him, and at
an immense expense, and that it was delusion a brief appear-
ance of reality ; but the water continued to spring : and the
fountains spring yet with the same freedom and fullness. It
is beautiful to see, when the sun's rays paint a rainbow on the
falling drops.

From St. Peter's Place we proceed to the right through a
closed passage into the yard of the Vatican, which is encircled
on three sides by that gigantic building. In the same great-
ness of style as St. Peter's Church, and placed in juxtaposition
with it, neither produced that effect it must otherwise have
conveyed to the imagination of the beholder.

The soldiers in the costume of the Middle Ages, look exactly
like the knave of clubs in a pack of cards. They are all hired
German troops, who keep guard in the arcades and the yard.
Around every story there is a gallery ; in the uppermost story
the walls are painted with geographical maps, la fresco. Here
the Pope can study the lands his predecessors have once
ruled over. The gallery beneath is a complete pictorial Bible ;
it is the so-called Raphael's tier. It is only during the few last
years that they have closed the open arches with windows.
The paintings are somewhat faded ; the arabesques are partly
destroyed by exposure to the weather, nay, even scratched out
by mischievous hands, or scribbled over with the names of
travellers whom no one cares about. The lowest gallery
leads into that wing of the palace which the Pope does not in-
habit, but which contains the richest and most glorious treas-
ures in the world.

The whole building, as we know, consists of twenty-two
court-yards, and eleven thousand rooms a romantic state-
ment this, it will be allowed. A few hours' ramble here is as
if one were in an enchanted palace. The most daring fancy
cannot in this place invent anything new ; it is controlled and
rebuked by beholding reality, richer and rarer than its best

Let us wander on.


Through a trellised gate we enter a passage, so long that
the distance is almost lost. Everywhere else in the world,
but not here, it would be called a rich museum. The floor
and walls present reminiscences of the olden times. We peep
through a door, and are blinded by the splendor of the
colors in the many saloons that succeed and flank each
other. The ceilings and walls are loaded with paintings, but
none of them fix themselves in the mind ; they produce an
effect like the colored patterns in a kaleidoscope. This is
the library, but where are the books ? They stand concealed
in low cases of white and gold. 1

We peep through another door ; the light streams through
the glass roof ; the walls and floor are of polished marble ;
splendid statues stand on both sides ; they seem to have been
cut but lately from the marble block, and yet it is more than a
thousand years since they vibrated to the stroke of the chisel.
One ought to see these treasures by torch-light : then the mar-
ble seems to receive life ; the moving light makes the muscles
appear to swell, the folds of the clothes to move, and the pale
face to acquire the hue of health.

But we will pursue our way up the long passage, go up
some few stairs, and a row of saloons with the most beautiful
reminiscences of ancient times ; the one saloon richer and
more splendid than the other attracts us ; we almost become
tired of beholding : how then can we describe ? The gods of
Olympus still reign here : the Muses greet us mortals : all is
greatness and beauty.

We will only dwell on one small space, and from this we
must draw our conclusions of the whole.

We stand in a small yard : the bright sun casts its rainbow-
colored rays over the high water-jet, which splashes in the
marble basin. The place is inclosed by open arches, and in
this are displayed the world's far-famed glories. Here stands
Antinous, the Apollo of the Vatican ; here the Laocoon writhes
in eternal pain, encircled by snakes ; here the Gladiators and
Perseus of Canova inspire delighted admiration.

One is as if overwhelmed by the greatest productions of
art ; it is a repose for the mind and eye to look through the

1 Queen Christina of Sweden's library forms a considerable collection.


windows, and the sight which yields repose is a prospect over
Rome and the Campagna to the mountains ; it is a view over
small flag-paved yards or beautiful gardens, which in the win-
ter time display the most alluring verdure. All the avenues
are of laurel-trees ; the roses appear to start out from the high
continuous walls, the water wells forth from artificial grottoes
and caverns.

Should we not believe it a dream of romance ? And yet
all here is reality, marvelous reality.

Through a vestibule built in the Egyptian style, filled with
grand sarcophagi, each of one single costly stone, we enter,
yes, what ? A museum it cannot be called, it is too small
we enter one of the pyramids of Egypt. The whole saloon
is decorated like one of the largest and most magnificent bur-
ial chambers in the pyramids ; the walls are painted with col-
umns and tropical plants ; the ceiling is arched like a firma-
ment an African starry firmament ! of the purest ultramarine
color, and with myriads of rich gilded stars. We feel ourselves
in Africa ; we are in the midst of the pyramids, and round
about, silent and dark, sit the strange images of gods ! In
the side chambers stand the mummies, some of which are
freed from their cerements, others quite inclosed and concealed
in their painted chests.

From these shapeless images in stone, these glaring colors
which confuse the eye, we will go to the most perfect works
that art can boast We find them in a small picture gallery,
treasures that can only have been selected from a hundred
others, and the way thither leads through many saloons,
some with the variegated tapestry of the Gobelins, for which
Raphael supplied the drawings, others with maps, and the
ground-plans of towns painted in fresco. It is as if every sa-
loon in the Vatican would outvie the other, either by its treas-
ures of art or by its peculiarity.

We now stand amongst the immortal pictures. Which way
shall we turn to what room toward which wall ? There
we see Domenichino's dying Jeronimus hovering in the clouds ;
Raphael's Madonna del Foligno, and his last work the Trans-
figuration. Here, Perugino, Giulio Romano, Titian, and the
greatest masters of Italy greet us. Strange enough ! a small


animal piece by Paul Potter is seen like a little flower in
every-day life, amongst these glories and clouds. It stands
by the door, like a modest guest in this paradise of art ; but
it is not unworthy of its place.

Large folding doors open, and we stand amongst Raphael's
painted poetry, and wander through saloons whose walls own
his immortal works. What nature, fancy, and purity in each !

And what remains, after having seen this magnificence,
what remains of man's works that can astonish us by a greater
richness and splendor ? We pass through two saloons ; large
doors open into what we should call lofty churches, but here
they are but chapels ; they are filled with splendor, and
adorned with paintings ; but we go on, lift a curtain, and stand
in St. Peter's Church. All is marble, gold, and mosaic work.
We stand in the largest church in the world !

" Yes, it is great, but not so great as I expected ! " is the
general expression the first time we enter. It is here, as 'v
nature ; the space is too great for the eye to measure it. Th-
proportions are too gigantic ; we must first walk through the
church, we must see that mass of human beings which seems
to fill the place without, which moves here within ; we must
approach the marble dove that appears to hover in the point
of view where we stand, and then see that we must raise our
hands to be able to touch it.

The mosaic angels in the dome appear to us so insignif-
icant ! and yet, ascending to them, we find that they are sev-
eral yards in height : looking down, the cross at the altar far
below us towers aloft like one of Rome's palaces.

We must ascend the flat roof of the church, and when we
are there it is as if we were in a market-place ; the several
cupolas appear like chapels, and the largest an immense
church. Round about on the roof are erected small houses
for the craftsmen who are at work upon it. Here are furnaces
and lime-pits ; here is a little town ; merry children play
about on the great open place, and climb up the high parapet
to look over Rome and the Campagna to the sea and moun

We ought to see St Peter's Church during the Easter week,
to see it in the evening, and in bright sunshine ! It is per


fcctly like enchantment to witness what they call the lighting
of the dome ; yet it is not alone the dome and the cross high
above it that stream with lights, but it is the whole immense
building with the colonnades around the place! We see
everything in a hue of fire ; the lamps are so richly diversi-
fied, and placed in such situations, that the whole architec-
tural design stands forth confessed. It has a great effect, on
such an evening, to go from the illuminated place into the
church itself, where all is night and stillness ; but directly
under the dome, by the high altar, beams a glory of several
hundred silver lamps, placed on the parapet around St. Peter's
grave. We climb up to it, and look down into the chapel
shining with gold and silver, where the marble figure of a
kneeling Pope prays in silence. There is such a peace, such
a devotion in the quiet of the church and in this venerable
man's figure, that we ourselves are filled with both, and, like
the Catholic, feel a desire to bend in adoration to the Invisible

Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 8 of 31)