John Chetwode Eustace.

A classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) online

. (page 2 of 27)
Online LibraryJohn Chetwode EustaceA classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

oppression would concentrate their interests,
and prompt them, by a simultaneous exer-
tion, to expel every transalpine intruder;
while their numbers he thinks sufficient for
this consummation, if their energies could
be sufficiently brought into co-operation.
Thai time seemed lately to have arrived,


but they failed, as greater nations have also
done in the hour of trial ; and now united
in subjugation, but discordant for every
better purpose, we are scarcely permitted
to hope, that they can ever again be com-
bined under one head, or afford more effec-
tual exertion in the cause of independence
and hberty. The glory of Rome seems
destined never to revive, nor " the valor
and perseverance which subdued the Gauls
and Teutones to be again displayed in chas-
tising the insolence of the French, or in
checking the incursions of the Germans."

With reference to literature, the claim
of Italy is allowed to be ably vindicated
by Mr. Eustace; who, while he admits
and even praises Boccacio amongst the
great men in that path, has however ex-
cited strong animadversion, and given rise
to many pages of panegyric in the " Illus-
trations^'' by ranking that author with Pe-
tronius and Pietro Aretino, and expressing


indifference to the spot where the impure
remains* of a licentious author are con-
signed to their kindred dust.

We most wilhngly rehnquish the defence
of these two virtuous characters to Mr. Hob-
house : and to that enhghtened pliilosopher
my Lady Morgan, the difficult research for
any memorials marking the depository of
their remains ; but we really cannot silently
suffer either one or the other to misrepre-
sent the meaning of Mr. Eustace, in accus-
ing him of stating that which he does not
say, and of confounding the identity of two
individuals whom he distinctly recognizes,
in their respective characters, as praise-
worthy or malignant. The passage in the
Classical Tour is upon the churches of Flo-
rence, which, although in external appear-
ance inferior to many, are represented as
containing a charm peculiar to themselves,

* Vol. lUL 10.


in their intimate connection with the great
men who in the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries diffused from Florence the hght
of hterature over the western world ; and
thus the church of Santa Crose may be
said to have a superior claim upon our at-
tention, from its containing the remains of
the greatest luminaries of their age in every
branch of science or of art. There reposes
the great painter, sculptor, and architect —
Michel Angelo. The profound lawyer —
Leonardo Bruni Aretino. The illustrious
astronomer and philosopher — Galileo.
The Florentine Livy. Guicciardini. The
Tuscan Tacitus. Macchiavelli, — and pos-
sessing these it imported little to our author
to inquire where their fellow-countrymen
the hcentious novelhst Boccacio, or mahg-
nant Aretino Bacci, were consigned to
their kindred dust.

"Boccacio may have allured the poetry
of Greece to the bosom of Italy," but it
was only what Petionius had done before


him, and in language quite as beautiful,
while there are other bosoms which it be-
comes the duty of the divine to guard
against the poison of those writings of
which their author in his more advanced
years deprecated the reading for the sake
of decency, and for the production of which
he apologized, as from the command of
those he could not disobey. We must,
therefore, state our perfect concurrence
with Mr. Eustace, that the church of Santa
Crose contains all that can excite our ad-
miration or awaken our enthusiasm, and
would not possess a greater charm, at least
to the moralist, had he there ' found the
sepulchres of Bacci, Boccacio, or Petronius
Arbiter, who equally pure in their language,
are equally to be deprecated with reference
to the inq^urity which that language is pros-
tituted hy them to convey.

" Mr. Eustace should not have stuck
his cross on the Clitumnus." We suppose
the gentleman means the temple upon the


banks of that river. That tlie chapel now-
seen upon the Spoleto road is not the
temple of Pliny, may be inferred from
the patchwork of the columns and their
dissimilar capitals, while a more minute
inspection of the blocks composing the
edifice will serve to shew that inscrip-
tions of no very ancient date have been
used, not only in its repairs, but ori-
ginal construction*; of which the form
of the plan, a cross, may give rise to well-
grounded suspicions with reference to the
date of the whole structure, though that
form can hardly be said to be peculiar to
churches of the earliest period . The temple
is about a mile from the fountain, and the

* It would be diflScult to divine what Mr. Forsyth can
mean, when he says that " instead of columns bescratched
with the nonsense of an album, here are columns coupled in
the middle of the front, to correspond with those on the antes,
a thing not to be found in any classical antiquity." We do
not pretend to expound this very scientific piece of criticism,
as we confess its meaning to be totally beyond our powers
of comprehension.


post-house is equidistant between the two.
In the " Illustrations," we find quoted from
Venuti an account of some spoHations com-
mitted upon the edifice : four columns are
said to have been sold ; but even admit-
ting this as fact, we should not forget
the previous state of dilapidation into
which the whole had fallen, and allow that
the principal object, however ill-judged, was
to repair it.

Before we form injurious conclusions
upon such spoliations, it would be but
just even to ourselves to make some in-
quiry into the precise state of repair in
which the edifice existed, or rather of dila-
pidation into which it had previously fallen.
The robbery of the Pantheon by Pope
Urban VIII. is execrated, and the execra-
tion is repeated by each succeeding tourist ;
while in the enthusiasm of the moment
there are few who do not wish St. Peter's
deprived of the apostle's chair, cleared of
the Baldacchino, and undefended by the


cannon of St. Angelo, if those objects could
be recast, and refixed upon the mouldering
beams of the portico of Agrippa.

Now it ill becomes us Enghshmen to
talk of neglect or spoliation of sacred edi-
fices at all, whether ancient or modern,
whether pagan or Christian ; and the real
state of the case is this: — The Pantheon
had stood a neglected, unappropriated,
desecrated building, falling into a more
or less rapid state of ruin for a lapse of
time nearly equal to that which inter-
vened from the suppression of monasteries
by our Henry VIII. to the accession of
his late majesty George III. ; after this
interval it was consecrated to the purposes
of Christianity, and hallowed according to
the custom of the day by the introduction
of an incredible quantity of relics, by the
baptism of a hundred Jews, and by the
operation of a miracle. But even all this
could not protect the building from the
spoliation of its bronze covering in the


same century by Constans, the grandson of
Heraclius; and that the mere act of conse-
cration did not protect a building hardly
applicable from its form to the purposes
of Christian worship, may be inferred from
the repeated renewal of that ceremony in
the year 830*, and again by Urban VIII.

* Mr. Forsyth erroneously remarks, that the catholics let
the temples stand, and gloried in their conversion to Chris-
tianity. There is no instance whatever of such conversion ;
and the horror against the impiety of such a profanation had
worn out two centuries before Boniface IV. obtained per-
mission from the Emperor Phocas to appropriate, not convert
this. The only churches pretended to have been converted
are, the Pantheon ; Remus into St. Cosmo and Damiano,
527 ; Romulus to St. Theodore, 774 ; Fortuna virilis to Sta.
Maria Egizziaca, 87'2 ; Vesta in Madonna del Sole, the Ba-
silica of iEmilius, to St. Hadrian; and that of St. Stefano
Rotonda, which was in all probability entirely rebuilt by St.
Symplicius. We of course take no account of those built
upon ancient sites, as Sta. Maria in Cosmedin ; St. Lorenzo
in Miranda, &c. Mr. Forsyth, in St. Stefano, speaks of the
beauty of its two circles of columns, and the third lost in the
wall; and remarks " how immoderately unequal the interco-
lumniations, if all the columns radiated from a common
centre !" What becomes of the criticism, when we find they
do not so radiate, and that moreover, except those lost in the
wall, there is but one circle ? In the same way he describes
a fourth order at the Coliseum, surmounted by a heavy attic.
The fourth is the attic !


In the mean time we find it used as a
strong hold ; and it can hardly be expect-
ed, when we recollect the centuries of an-
archy and pillage through which the city
had dragged a precarious existence, that
the contending parties would have refrain-
ed from seizing upon a building so well
adapted to their purpose. There is every
reason, at least it is fair, to presume, that
the feeble protection which consecration
had afforded the Rotunda was never ex-
tended to the Portico ; that when the whole
was used for defence, the spaces between
the columns of the latter were partly, if
not wholly walled up ; while in the vicissi-
tudes it underwent, the three columns,
namely, one at the angle and two at the
side, of which we find it deprived at the
beginning of the seventeenth century, were
thrown down and carried away*.

* Mr, Hobhouse errs in calling the Pantheon the Sta.
Maria in Turribus, defended by the antipope Clemens III, in
VOL.1. C


At this period, and in this state, Urban
VIII. found and put up the angular co-
lumn ; when the whole building underwent
something like a general repair, and re-
ceived the addition of two belfries, which,

1087. In front of the old St. Peter's was an atrium or
square court surrounded by a portico. At the entrance to
the latter was the chapel of Sta. Maria ad turres, so called
from the tower or towers which rose over it. It is cu-
rious to remark the state of Rome at this period. The
archbishop of Ravenna was supported in his pretensions to
the papacy by the emperor; but the more powerful arm
of the countess Matilda protected the abbot of Monte Cas-
sino ; the latter took the portico alluded to, and in the even-
ing of the same day his enemies evacuated the church : but
insecure in its vicinity, the victor retired to the island in the
Tiber, while the more popular antipope occupied the Ro-
tunda. The day of the apostles was consumed in a struggle at
St. Peter's between the parties, to prevent the latter from
saying mass in the church ; and as he could not get posses-
sion of it until night-fall, the sepulchre of the apostles re-
mained, for the first time, unhonored by the religious ob-
servance of that anniversary, though Clement having expelled
his adversaries from the portico, and smoked them out of the
towers, had been enabled to celebrate mass at the altar of
Sta. Maria ad turres. But the Cronico Ca'^inense tells us
that St. Peter, in disgust at the profanation of the heretics,
left his shrine, and was met and accosted upon the road to
St. Benedict at Monte Cassino by some pilgrims. Fleury,
Hist. Eccl. also follows Baronius in thinking Leo Ostiensis
alluded to the Pantheon, and explains that it was so called
from Bernini's turrets — built six centuries after !


if thej are not beautiful objects, were de-
signed by the first architect, and were in
conformity with the taste, of the day.

It is not necessary to have studied the
science of architecture to enable us to ima-
gine the state in which this part of the edifice
must have existed without three of the twelve
columns of its circuit. If the columns were
removed the architraves could not have
upheld themselves in the air, and the roof
could scarcely have existed at all ; conse-
quently the wooden beams of the ceiling
after fifteen centuries must have been ut-
terly decayed, and the bronze plates with
which they were covered could hardly have
admitted of replacing and repair under an
expense totally impossible to the exhausted
treasury of the pontiff, when we consider
that its whole energies for more than a cen-
tury before had been applied to one great
object, St. Peter's; while within that time
Rome had been sacked by Charles, and
never was secure from foreign irruption or


domestic treason, until these very spoils
were converted into cannon for the de-
fence of the new glory of the Christian

The author of the illustrations will re-
joice to hear, that " the ill-assorted modern
cotemporary heads which glared in all the
niches of the Rotunda; the little white
hermaean busts ranged on ledges side by
side, and giving this temple of immortality
the air of a sculptor's study;" and even
those which at the period of his visit,
were still under the chisel of the " modern
Cleomenes," were in the latter part of the
year 1819 all cleared away: that either
prompted by his remarks or more pro-
bably the opinion that they interfered with
the religious character of the structure,

* We have good evidence of the state of the roof from
the inscriptions fixed by Urban, which say that the remains
of bronze were hardly known to exist, and that having^
removed them, he repaired the whole bond contignatione,
Alexander VII. restored the two other columns.


they have been all sent back to their
maker, and that even the sacred image of
the divine RaiFaello has not escaped the
general proscription.

The observation of another journalist is
so complete a specimen of his manner, that
we cannot refrain from quoting it.

" What barbarians could have white-
washed so grand a canopy ? If their rapa-
city tore ojSf its ancient covering, they might
have bronzed the surface exposed, and left
us at least the color of their plunder be-

Now who would not suppose that the
same barbarous pope who white-washed,
had plundered it? or who would suppose
from this, that the bronze covering Avas
plundered from the oM^side of the portico
about eleven centuries before the white-
wash of the iwside of the cupola ?

As the intention of Mr. Eustace was to
make only general remarks upon the an-
cient temples at Rome, he merely in his


descent from the Capitol * alludes to those
situated at its foot, and cites the frequent
contests which took place in that quarter as
explanatory of the term " restitutujn'* used
in the friezes yet remaining. It never was
his object to enter into any grammatical
disquisition upon the letters estituer of one,
iipon the restiticit of the second, or the
details of the five, inscriptions found upon
the site of the real temple of Concord, close
to the three columns and behind the arch
of Severus, and of which inscriptions only
one appears to have been known to our
diligent antiquary. Mr. Eustace " saw no
difficulties,"' because it w^as not his purpose
to discuss them : the term " restored " was
all his cursory remark required, and of that
he availed himself.

And here it may be observed, that it is
not for the editor of Mr. Eustace's Tour to
vindicate its author's knowledge of the

* Vol. 1.578.


Latin language by enlarging upon the in-
accuracy of others ; but it would be diffi-
cult to imagine a more ludicrous oversight
than that of this indefatigable antiquary,
where he asserts that the ashes of Trajan
were deposited in the head of the spear
which the statue of that emperor, placed
upon the column called by his name in
Rome, held in its hand. It may be useful
to inform him, that the word " pila " means
a globe; a symbol, so held by the statue,
and the size of which was fully adequate to
the purpose, and at the same time presented
an appropriate depository for the remains
of him who had ruled the destinies of the
Roman world ; for as the column was never
intended to be a sepulchral monument to
Trajan till Hadrian made it so, we may
fairly presume the latter did not or could
not pull up the foundations to deposit his
predecessor's remains beneath them.

There is one mistake has hitherto es-


caped. Mr. Eustace* calls the steps from
the Piazza di Spagna to the church of
Trinita di Monte " marble/' they are of
travertine ; and he also speaks of the copper
the French contemplated stripping from
the dome of St. Peter's, which is covered
with lead. Now, we believe, there are few
individuals who have seen the magnificent
staircase first alluded to, who think of the
material at all. They are perhaps the
finest flight of steps in Europe, and as
such our author quoted them. As to
whether the whole covering of the dome
of St. Peter's is of copper or no, for some
part of it is of that metal, is no refutation
of the main object of the charge ; for lead
would have been desirable to French ra-
pacity in a precise proportion with its
value, though it might not be quite
worth the trouble and expense of taking
down. And we may ask, will any one who

* Vol. II. 4.


has entered the dihgence offices at Tours
or Rouen, or the coachmaker's shop at the
latter place, or the lamp magazine at Ve-
nice, vindicate French forbearance to reli-
gious edifices? who has seen the Abbe
Fourmont's narrative upon Grecian anti-
quities, advocate their respect for national
monuments? or read the illustrator's ac-
count of the amputation of the arm of the
statue of Pompej, contend that their taste
or love for ancient art has any reality ?

Our author, speaking of the particular
tract of country between Tivoli, and the
Bandusian fount, says it corresponds with
its general features of t^v^o thousand years
ago as described by Horace; and an]ongst
a dozen other points of identity, contains
the same httle rills, and even an " occasional
pine,'' " imminens villa pinus."

We are told that '' we shall not be so
lucky as a late traveller in finding the oc-
casional pine still pendant on the poetic
villa. Fhere is not a pine in the whole


valley, but two cypresses which he took
or mistook for that tree. Horace probably
had one in the orchard close to his farm,
not on the rocky heights at some distance
from his abode. The tourist may have
easily supposed himself to have seen this
pine figured in the above cypresses ; for the
orange and lemon trees which throw such
a bloom over his description of the royal
gardens at Naples, unless they have been
since displaced^ were assuredly only acacias
and other garden shrubs/'

Mr. Eustace knew and has quoted
the fact, that Horace had a pine tree at
his villa, though in all probability not in
his orchard ; and if he had meant to allude
to that particular tree, would not have
used the word occasional. Pines are to
be found in quantity sufficient in the neigh-
bourhood of Tivoli, by those who will or will
not take the trouble to look for them. As
to the gratuitous lemon trees we say no-
thing; but it should be recollected that


the Villa Reale at Naples, for so the royal
gardens in question are called, were doubled
in extent, and totally altered and replanted
during the French occupation ; and we can
assure our readers who have a love for the
bloom of the orange, that in the garden
of the Ferrandina palace into which our
author's back windows opened, a full acre
of the trees in question is yet to be found,
and bloom in the proper season.

The fountain near the villa of Horace
rises from no " knoll,'' and has no " ploughed
land in its immediate vicinity.'' It is of
very difficult access, though of uncommon
beauty and chrystalline purity. It bursts
forth a clear and copious stream from the
craggy recesses of the mountain, whence
it falls from rock to rock until it reaches
the level of the valley below, and there
waters the ploughed land alluded to by the
poet. Whether Horace " satis beatus uni-
cis Sabinis," called this Bandusian or Blau-


dusian, we think hardly worth controversy;
we are content with the old reading, and
while we are told that the real fountain
existed at Venusia, but is now dried up,
confess to have received some pleasure in
finding this false one, with every feature
recorded in the ode. And may we not be
permitted to conjecture the possibility that
the poet might have chosen to call the
fountain at his farm after one at his birth-
place ? for this at least seems to have been
the taste of Hadrian in subsequent times.

We must allow that we feel eminently
indebted to the author of the illustrations
for much valuable research upon the sub-
ject of Roman antiquity; we only wish
he had felt his admission " that the love
of liberty distinguished the character as
it adorned the pages of Mr. Eustace,
whose gentlemanly spirit so recommenda-
tory either in an author or his productions,
is conspicuous throughout the Classical


Tour:'' that " gentLemanly" feeling might
have softened some expressions and omit-
ted others ; or it might at least have spared
itself the trouble of imputation. It is, we
confess, somewhat against our own in-
terest, but notwithstanding his assertion
we can assure him that there is to be found
an Italian edition of Mr. Eustace's Tour ;
and while we are upon the subject of in-
formation, we may recommend him to
make a personal inspection of the bronze
wolf in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, for
we were not successful in discovering any
real traces upon it of gilding or marks
whatever of the fusion attending metal
struck by lightning, and consequently can-
not imagine it to be the statue,

Quae turn cum pueris flanimato fulminis ictu
Concidit, atque avulsa pedum vestigia liquit.

Cicero tells his audience that they recollect
it, because two years before he speaks,
it was fused and became like all objects


struck down by lightning too sacred to re-
place upon its feet and repair ^.

A more recent writer has resolved to
have his share in exposing the inaccuracies
of our author; and accordingly says, that
the tomb of Virgil contains a certain in-
scription, which he is surprized Mr. Eustace
did not give instead of one which does not

The inside of the tomb contains no in-
scriptions except the names of Miss Ehza
Johnson and John Oliver of his Majesty's
Ship Audacious, with some other modern
worthies of similar pretensions ; but on the
cliff immediately opposite the entrance is a
marble slab with the following, though not
quite accordant with Mr. Matthews's " tough
piece of latinity.''

* In Cat. iii. 8. — The follies of the antiquaries upon this
statue are too absurd; — some go so far as to assert that it is
at once the wolf of Dionysius and Cicero. It may be the
former, but will hardly be admitted to be so by those who
have seen the Perugian statues at Florence.


Quae cineris tumulo hsec vestigia conditur olim

Ille hoc qui cecinit pascua rura duces. An. reg. MDLIII

The modern date annexed to this in-
scription, and its bad construction, maj-
account for its omission by Mr. Eustace,
who has given that of Donatus, which Mr.
Forsyth remarks, was in his time " re-
jected on the chfF as a forgery;"' we can
therefore only presume that either these
two authors erred, or that it was removed
in the interim between their visit and that
of Mr. Matthews.

As it was an object with Mr. Eustace
to support the cause of the Itahan clergy,
it may be worth while to notice an as-
sertion in the same journal which seems
to have been imagined with a contrary
view. The author lodged at Naples " in
the house of a little dirty chocolate-faced
bishop, who chattered two hours to be
repaid by a few carlines, who exhibited
his episcopal trappings with fiddle-faddle
vanity, and who giggled and skipped at


the joke of his guest's trying on his mi-
tres ;" in short, that he was a thief, and
stole twenty dollars out of a former lodger's
cash-bag, the disgrace of which felon}^
would fall of course upon the servant who
was entrusted with the money. Now from
all this his readers would conclude, that
all the bishops and perhaps archbishops
in Naples deserve to be hung; and that the

Online LibraryJohn Chetwode EustaceA classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 27)