John Chetwode Eustace.

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

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that decorated ancient Rome is almost incalculable.
If we may be allowed to judge by the marble plan
which I have alluded to more than once, we should
be inclined to imagine that its streets were lined
with porticos, and formed an endless succession of
colonnades. The shafts of the pillars were gene-
rally formed of one single piece or block, what-
soever their height might have been, an advantage
equally calculated to secure them against the in-
fluence of time, and the attacks of wanton de-
struction.

Of statues, if we may believe the elder Pliny,
the number was equal to that of inhabitants, and
seems in fact, to have been sufficient not only to
fill the temples, basilicae, and curiae, but to crowd
the streets, and almost people the porticos and



CA. XII. THROUGH ITALY. 4S3

public walks. These statues when of marble,
fortunately for their duration, were beheld by all
parties with indifference; and when not imme-
diately within the verge of warlike operations,
allowed to stand undisturbed on their pedestals,
or fall unsupported and forgotten into the mass
of rubbish around them. That this was the
case we may conclude, from the places where
several beautiful statues were found, such as the
baths of Titus and Caracalla, where they stood
for ages exposed to depredation, and were only
concealed in latter times by the fall of the
buildings around them. The pillars met with
a different fate ; some were conveyed by the Ex-
archs to Ravenna, others transported by Charle-
magne beyond the Alps, and thousands have
been employed in the churches and palaces of
the modern city. In reality ancient Rome has
been for twelve centuries a quarry ever open
and never exhausted ; and the stranger, as he
wanders through the streets of the modern city,
is astonished to see, sometimes thrown neglected
into corners, and often collected round the shops,
or in the yards of stone-cutters, shafts, capitals,
parts of broken cornices, and in short, blocks of
the finest marbles, all dug out of the ruins in
the neighborhood.

Yet, notwithstanding the waste and havoc of

VOL. I. F F



434 CLASSICAL TOUR CLXIL

these materials, made in the manner I have de-
scribed, and by the causes I have enumerated, I
am inclined to think that the far greater portion
still remains buried amidst the ruins, or en-
tombed under the edifices of the modern city.
The columns carried away to ornament other
cities, bear a small proportion to the numbers
left behind, and of these latter, the number
employed in the decorations of buildings now
existing, will appear a very slight deduction
from the remains of ancient magnificence, when
we consider that the great churches at Rome*,
that is all the buildings where there is any dis-
play of pillars or marbles, were erected in the
days of Roman glory, before the invasion of
Italy and the wars of the Goths. Their orna-
ments therefore with a few exceptions, were not
drawn from the ruins of ancient Rome : they are
monuments of its glory, but have not shared its
plunder.

The elevation of the ground over the whole
extent of the city, amounting in general, to the
height of from fourteen to twenty feet, and the
many little hills which have risen in various



* St. Peter's excepted.



a. Xir. THROUGH ITALY. 435

parts of the Campus Martius, especially on the
sites of theatres and baths, and other extensive
buildings, sufficiently shew what a mass of ruin
lies extended below. Few excavations have
been made in this artificial soil, without termi-
nating in some interesting discovery ; and it has
frequently happened that in sinking a well, or
in opening the foundations of a private house,
the masons have been stopped by the interposing
bulk of a pillar or an obelisk. One of the latter
was discovered thrice, and as often buried again
in rubbish, before it was raised by Benedict XIV.
The pavement of the Forum is well known to
exist about fourteen feet under the present level,
and several of the thermse remain still unopened.
The portico of Trajan lies near twenty* feet
under the foundations of churches and convents.
What treasures of art may not be contained in
these mines, hitherto unexplored ! What beau-
tiful forms of sculpture and architecture may
still slumber in this immense cemetery of ancient
magnificence !

Should the Roman government, when the
present convulsions shall have subsided into
tranquillity, acquire energy and means adequate
to such an undertaking, it may perhaps turn its
attention to an object so worthy of it, and the
classic traveller may entertain the fond hope.



436 CLASSICAL TOUR Ch. XTI.

that the veil which has so long concealed the
beauties of the ancient city, may be in part re-
moved, and some grand features of Roman mag-
nificence once more exposed to view. At least
the materials of many a noble structure may re-
appear, many a long fallen column be taught
again to seek the skies, and many a god, and
many a hero, emerge from darkness, once more
ascend their lofty pedestals, and challenge the
admiration of future generations. But when these
pleasing hopes may be realized it is difficult to
determine. Rome and all Italy crouch under
the iron sway of the First Consul ; how he in-
tends to model her various governments, and on
whom he may hereafter bestow her coronets,
crowns, and tiaras, is a secret confined to his
own bosom : in the mean time, public confi-
dence languishes, every grand undertaking is
suspended, and it would be absurd to squander
away expense and labor in recovering statues
and marbles, which may be instantly ordered to
Paris, to grace the palace of the Tuilleries, or
to enrich the galleries of the Louvre. The
genius of the ancient city must still brood in
darkness over her ruins, and wait the happy
da\', if such a day be ever destined to shine on
Italy, when the invaders may be once more
driven beyond the Alps, all barbarian influence



Ch. XII. THROUGH ITALY. 437

be removed, and the talents and abilities of
the country left to act with all their native
energy *.



* A medal was found not long ago, I think near the
Capitol, with the form of a hero crowned with laurel, extend-
ing a sword, with the inscription, " Adsertori Libertatisf,"
on one side, and Rome seated, with the inscription, " Roma
resurgest," on the reverse. May Italy ere long have cause
to strike a similar medal.



t To the champion of liberty.
t Rome, thou shalt rise again.



END OF VOL. I.



T. Mill'^r, Piiiitf r, Noble Stiect,
C'iieiipsidвВђ, Loudou.



^'5-37^7r



24. (LMtalia nei primi anni del '800). CHETWODE
EUSTACE John. - A Classical Tour through Italy.
An. 1802. Third edition revised and enlarged. Il-
lustrated with 3 Map. of Italy, plans of Churches,
and Index. London, iVlawman, 1815. Vols 4,
cart, edit., pp. XX-427, 428, 516, 451 + indice con
una lunghissima bella carta della penisola ri-
piegata e alcune tav. f. t. Una vasta descrizione
della penisola ancora col gusto classico sette-
^.centesco mentre in Europa con Napoleone sor-
geva un mondo nuovo. L. 30.000





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