John Chetwode Eustace.

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

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I shall say nothing of the magnificent ceno-
taph of the Emperor Maximilian in the church of
the Franciscans, with its sculptured pannels and

* No ; he who had my vows, shall ever have ;
For whom Llov'd on earth, T worship in the grave.

t This monument is erected to remind posterity for ever
of the unhappy destiny by which that excellent prince, the
ornament of the throne, and the delight of his people,
Francis, by the grace of God, Emperor of the Romans,
&c. &c. &c. was on this spot snatched away from life and
from me, on the ISth of August, 1765,


bronze statues ; nor of the humble cells of the
Archduke of the same name in the convent of the
Capuchins, but proceed to a much nobler object
than either, to the vale of Inspruck. This vale is
perhaps the most extensive and most beautiful of
all that lie in the Northern recesses of the Alps.
It is about thirty miles in length, and, ^ where
widest, as in the neighborhood of Inspruck, about
six in breadth. It is watered by the Inn, anciently
the QEnus, which glides through it, intersecting it
nearly in the middle, and bestowing freshness and
fertility as it winds along. The fields that border
it are in high cultivation, finely adorned with every
species of forest-trees, enlivened with towns and
villages, and occasionally graced with the ruins of
a castle, frowning in shattered majesty from the
summit of a precipice. Large woods line the
skirts and clothe the sides of the neighboring
mountains, and, with the ragged misshapen rocks
that swell above them, form a frame worthy of a
picture so extensive and so beautiful. In the
southern extremity of this vale, stands Inspruck ;
and behind it rises a long ridge, forming part of
the craggy pinnacles of the Brenner, one of the
loftest mountains of the Tyrolian Alps.

About five miles North of Inspruck is the
town of Hall, famous for its salt works ; and
about four miles on the op])osite side, on a bold
eminence, stands embosomed in trees, the castle


of Ambras. This edifice is of very ancient date,
and its size, forra, and furniture are well adapted
to its antiquity. Its exterior is dignified with
turrets, spires, and battlements ; and its large
halls are hung with spears, shields, and helmets,
and lined with the forms of hostile knights
mounted upon their palfreys, with visors down
and spears couched, as if ready to rush forward
in battle. The smaller apartments are fitted up
with less attention to Gothic propriety than to
utility, and contain various natural curiosities,
intermingled with gems, medals, and pictures.

Though at Inspruck we had made a consider-
able progress in the defile, yet we had not risen
in elevation so much as might be imagined ; for
that city is said to be no more than fifteen hun-
dred feet above the level of the sea. But, about
three miles farther, the road suddenly turns, and
the traveller begins in reality to work up the steep.
The road is well contrived to lessen the labor of
ascent, winding gently up the mountains, and af-
fording every-where perfect security, though ge-
nerally skirting the edge of a precipice. It pre-
sents some striking objects, such as the Abbey
of IVilltean, anciently Villitenum, the castle of
Sonenberg, and, through a break to the west, a
transient view of a most majestic mountain, rising
from the midst of the surrounding glaciers, and
lifting its pointed summit to the skies. Its craggy



sides are sheathed in ice, and its brow is whitened
with eternal snows*. Its height is supposed to
be nearly equal to that of Mont Blanc, though in
grandeur, the mountain of Savoy yields to that of
the Tyrol ; because the former heaves itself gra-
dually from the plain, and conducts the eye, by
three different stages to its summit, whilst the
latter shoots up at once without support or gra-
dation, and terminates in a point that seems to
pierce the heavens.

The ascent still continued steep and without
intermission to Steinach ; and the cold, which
hitherto had not much incommoded us, except at
night, became more intense. The scenery grew
more dreary, gradually assuming all the bleak ap-
pearances of Alpine winter. The last mentioned
place, though situated amidst the pinnacles of the
Rhaetian Alps, is yet not the highest point of ele-
vation ; and the traveller has still to labor up the
tremendous steeps of the Brenner. As he advances,
piercing blasts blowing around the bare ridges and
summits that gleam with ice, stunted half-frozen
firs appearing here and there along the road, cot-
tages almost buried under a weight of snow, all
announce the regions where winter reigns undis-

* This mouatain bears, I believe, the very barbarous ap-
pellation of Boch Kbgel.


tnrbed, and wliere the Alps display all their ancient

and unchangeable horrors. — " Nives ccelo prope

** immistcE, tecta informia imposita j^upibus, pecora,

'' jumcntaque torrida f rigor e, homines intonsi et m-

" culti, an'mialia, inanimaque omnia rigentia gelu*."

— (Liv. XXI.)

The summit, or rather the highest region of

the mountain which the road traverses, is crowned

with immense crags and precipices enclosing a

sort of plain or valley : This plain was bleak and

dreary when we passed through it, because buried

in deep snow, and darkened by fogs and mists,

and the shades of the approaching evening : yet it

possesses one feature, which in summer must give

it some degree of animation, of beauty, and even

of fertility ; I mean the source of the river Atagis,

which, bursting from the side of a shattered rock,

tumbles in a noble cascade to the plain. We had

just before passed the fountain head of the river

Sillj which takes a northward course, and runs

down the defile that leads to Inspruck, so that we

now stood on the confines of the north, our faces

being turned towards Italy, and the genial regions

of the south. At the post we once more entered

* Snows that seem to mingle with the sky, shapeless
dwellings perched upon the rocks, flocks and herds be-
numbed with cold, human beings savage alike in appearance
and in dress, and every thing animate and inanimate bound
up in frost.


sledges, and with great satisfaction began to de-
scend, a vast mass of mountain hanging over us
on the left, and the Atagis, now called the Adige,
tumbling from steep to steep on our right. Night
soon enveloped us, and we pursued our way vrith
great rapidity down the declivity through Marck
and Middlewald^ and at length entered the epis-
copal city of Brixen, or Bress'mone,

We had now passed the wildest retreats and
most savage scenery of the Alps, once the impene-
trable abode of fierce tribes of barbarians, and the
haunt of associated robbers, who plundered with
the numbers, the spirit, and the discipline of
armies. The Roman legions were not unfre-
quently impeded in their progress, and more than
once stripped of their baggage by these desperate
mountaineers. The expedition of Drusus, before
alluded to, seems to have reduced the Alpine
tribes, at least the Vindelici and the Rhoeti, so far
to subjection, as to ensure a safe and easy passage
through their territories for many succeeding ages.
The incursions, invasions, and consequent anarchy,
that preceded and followed the dissolution of the
Roman empire, naturally revived the fierceness of
the mountain tribes, and renewed the disorders of
earlier periods. But these disorders yielded in their
turn to the increasing influence of Christianity and
to the authority of the clergy: two causes, which,
fortunately for Europe, worked with increasing
extent and energy, and successfully counteracted


the prodigious efforts of ferocity, of barbarism, and
of ignorance during the middle ages. So effective
was their operation, that the Rhetians, from the
most savage, became the most gentle of moun-
tain tribes, and have for a long succession of ages
continued to distinguish themselves by their inno-
cence, simplicity and benevolence; and few tra-
vellers have, I believe, traversed the Rhetian Alps,
without having witnessed some instances of these
amiable virtues.

It is indeed fortunate, that religion has pene-
trated these fastnesses impervious to human power,
and spread her influence over solitudes where
human laws are of no avail ; that where precaution
is impossible, and resistance useless, she spreads
her invisible /^gis over the traveller, and conducts
him secure under her protection, through all the
dangers of the way. While rapidly skimming
the edge of a precipice, or winding cautiously
along under the loose masses of an impending
cliff, he trembles to think that a single touch
might bury him under a crag precipitated from
above, or that the start of a horse purposely
alarmed, might hurl him into the abyss below, and
give the ruffian a safe opportunity of preying upon
his plunder. When in such situations the traveller
reflects upon his security, and recollects that these
mountains, so savage, and so well adapted to the
purposes of murderers and of banditti, have not
in the memory of man, been stained by human


blood, he ought to do justice to the cause, and
gratefully acknowledge the beneficent influence of
religion. Impressed with these reflections, he will
behold with indulgence, perhaps even with interest,
the crosses which frequently mark the brow of a
precipice, and the little chapels hollowed out of
the rock where the road is narrowest: he will
consider them as so many pledges of security, and
rest assured, that as long as the pious mountaineer
continues to adore the * Good Shepherd, and to beg

* Pastor bonus, Mater dolorosa ; such are the titles often
inscribed over those rustic temples ; sometimes a whole sen-
tence is subjoined, as, Pastor bonus qui animam suam dat pro
ovibus suis (He is a good shepherd, who lays down his life for
his sheep). St. John, x. 11. Under a crucifix on the brow
of a tremendous crag, I observed some lines taken from the
Dies Irce (the Day of Wrath), a funeral hymn, which, though
disfigured by rhyme, was justly admired by Johnson and by
Lord Roscommon for its pathos and sublimity. — The lines

Recordare, Jesu pie !
Quod sum causa tuee viae —
Quaerens me sedist'i lassus,
Redemisti crucem passus ;
Tantus labor non sit cassus.

Remember, Jesus ! that for me
The paths of woe were trod by thee :
In search of me, with toils opprest.
Thy weary head was laid to rest:
By thee was borne death's bitter pain,
To raise me up to life again :
Be not such mighty mercies vain !


the prayers of the afflicted Mother, he will never
cease to befriend the traveller, nor to discharge
the duties of hospitality. If French principles
should unfortunately pass from the courts and the
cities in the plains, to the recesses of these moun-
tains, the murderer may shortly aim his rifle from
behind the ruins of the cross, and the nightly
banditti lurk, in expectation of their prey, under
the roof of the forsaken chapel.

Bressinone, in German BrLren, presents nothing
very remarkable to the attention of the traveller.
Its cathedral is neither large nor beautiful, and its
claim to antiquity is rather dubious, as the name
of Brixentes in ancient authors, belongs not so
much to the town, as to the inhabitants of the
surrounding country. I need scarcely inform the
reader, that the Brixia, alluded to by Catullus, is
now Brescia, a well known and flourishing city in
the plain below, between the lake Benacus and

Brixia Chinsea supposita specula ;

Flavus quam molli percurrit flumine Mela.

Brixia, Veronae mater amata meae *.

Catul. LXV. 32. 34.

The river Mela, described in these verses as a

' The yellow Mela parts the Brixian town,
Brixia, o'er which the Chinean hill looks down,
Brixia, lov'd parent of Verona fair.


yellow and smooth flowing stream, and represented
by Virgil as meandering through cultivated valleys
still retains its ancient name and character, and
runs near the last mentioned town *.

The descent from the little plain of Bressinone
is not so steep as the road which leads to it. On
a hill not far from Chiusa stands the abbey of
Sabiona the only remains of the ancient Sabina :
thus bearing its former name, with little variation.
Chiusa or Clausen^ once Clusium, takes its name,
as other towns of similar appellations, from its
situation ; as the plain, in which it stands, is ter-
minated by a tremendous defile, whose rocky sides
jut out so far and rise so high, as almost to hide
the face of heaven : while the river, contracted
into a torrent, or rather a continual cascade, rolls
in thunder from steep to steep, hurrying shattered
fragments of rock down its eddy, and filling the
dell with uproar. The numberless chapels hewn
out of the rock on the road, answer the double

* tonsis in vallibus ilium (florem)

Pastores, et curva legunt prope flumina Mellae.

by shepherds near the stream

Of Mella found. Dry den.

It is remarkable, that while Virgil calls this river Mella,
Catullus, a citizen of Verona, gives it the exact appellation .
which it still retains, and which probably was then current in
its neighborhood.


purposes of devotion and of security, protecting
the traveller against the sudden bursts of storm in
summer, and against the still more sudden and
destructive masses of snow that roll from the
mountains towards the termination of winter.
The road which leads to this dell, runs along the
edge of a most tremendous precipice, and is so
near it, that from the carriage, the eye without
perceiving the parapet, looks all at once into the
abyss below, and it is scarcely possible not to
draw back with involuntary terror. The defile to
which the road leads, seems yawning as if ready
to swallow up the traveller, and closing over him
as he advances, has less the appearance of a road
in the land of the living, than of a descent to the
infernal regions. A heavy snow, falling as we
passed, added to the natural gloom of the scene,
and made it truly terrific.

We entered Bolsano late. The name of this
town is converted by the Germans into the bar-
barous appellation of Bdtzen. It is a commercial
and busy place. Its situation, at the opening of
several valleys, and near the confluence of three
rivers, is advantageous ; its neighborhood well
cultivated and romantic. It contains, however, no
remarkable object. A little below Bolsano the
Atagis flows into the Athesis ; rivers, which from
the resemblance of their names are fre(juently
confounded ; especially as they now go under the


same appellation, and are called the Adige, some-
times the Adese. The former name may be derived
from either of the ancient titles ; the latter can
come from the Athesis only. This river takes its
rise near a little town called Burg, not far from
Cluras and Tiroli, anciently Tirioli, whence the
territory takes its modern name, and after tra-
versing the valley of Venosta, joins the Atagis at

From Bolsano the road presents nothing pecu-
liarly interesting as Alpine scenery. Some castles,
however, finely situated, project into the valleys
of Sole and Anania ; Monte Cerno and Monte
Mendala are objects grand and beautiful. We
left the village of Mezzo Tedesco, and entered that
on the opposite side of the river called Mezzo
Lomhardo, with pleasure. Salurno interested us
by its antiquity, of which its name is a memorial.
Night had already closed upon us, when we en-
tered Trent.



Trent — Council of Trent — Castello della Pietra —
Roveredo — Slcw'tni di Marco — Ala — Chiusa —
Verona, its Antiquities and History.

Trent is the seat of an archbishop. Its ancient
name was Tridentum, and the tribes and Alps in
its vicinity were not unfrequently called Tridentini.
It is seated in a small but beautiful valley, exposed,
however, from its elevation, to intense cold in
winter, and from the reflection of the surrounding
mountains, to heat as intense in summer. When
we passed (February the sixteenth) the ground
was still covered with snow, and the frost, not-
withstanding the influence of the sun, very severe.
The town is well built, and boasts some palaces.
That of the prince bishop contains some very
noble apartments, but it had been plundered and
disfigured by the French in their late invasion.
The cathedral is Gothic, and not remarkable
cither for its beauty or magnitude. Its organ
is admired, though supposed to be inferior to that
of the church Santa Maria Maggiore, in the same


But Trent owes its fame neither to its situation
nor to its edifices, but to the celebrated Council
held within its walls about the middle of the six-
teenth century*. It was opened in the cathedral,
but generally held its sessions in the church of
Santa Maria Maggiore, where a picture still exists,
representing the Council sitting in full Synod. The
most conspicuous figures are supposed to be por-
traits taken from the life. This assembly sat, with
various interruptions, under three successive pon-
tiffs, during the space of eighteen years. It was
convoked by Paul the Third, and consisted of
cardinals, archbishops, bishops, abbots, chiefs of
religious orders, representatives of the universities,
and ambassadors from the Emperor, Kings of
France, Spain, Portugal, &c. from the republics of
Venice, of Genoa, and from the cantons of Swit-
zerland, from the German Electors, &,c. These
ambassadors were called Oratoi^es, and were ac-
companied each by a certain number of lawyers
and divines, selected by their respective sovereigns.
The whole number of persons composing the ge-
neral assemblies amounted to one thousand -f".

* One thousand five hundred and forty-two.

t Gribbou says of the council of Constance, that the
number and weight of civil and ecclesiastical members might
seem to constitute the States general of Europe; a remark
equally applicable to the council of Trent.


The subjects of discussion were prepared in
committees, and definitively settled in the general
assemblies. The bull of convocation issued by
Paul the Third, is a master-piece of its kind. The
style of the Acts is pure and dignified, and the
dissertations and observations that precede the
canons, cannot be perused, even by an impartial
and pious protestant, without instruction and edi-
fication. One of the great objects of the Council
was the restoration of peace and unity among
Christians. In this respect it failed : animosity
prevailed over charity ; conscious authority on
one side, rage of innovation on the other, would
submit to no concession. The other object was
the reformation of the church. Here its efforts
were attended, if not with total, at least with very
general success, and njust receive the approbation
of every impartial reader. Many of its regula-
tions have been adopted by the civil authority,
even in Protestant countries ; such, for instance^
as those relating to matrimony ; and where ad-
mitted, their utility has been felt and acknow-
ledged. Intrigue, without doubt, was not inactive
at Trent : and where so many persons of such
rank and weight, so many diplomatic agents from
almost all the countries and all the corporate
bodies in Christendom, were brought together,
it must have been frequently and strongly exerted.
Yet with such an obstacle in its way, the Council


drew up a set of articles clear and concise, com-
prehending all the principal points then in debate,
and fixing the faith of the Catholic with logical

After having thus represented the Council in
a favorable light, I must now, reluctantly I con-
fess, turn to the charges advanced against it ; the
first of which is the influence supposed to have
been exercised over it by the Roman court ; an
influence which, after all, seems to have been
confined to subjects connected with the temporal
interests and with the interior concerns of that
Court, and never extended either to the deliber-
ations or to the final decrees of the Council. In
the second place, many a benevolent man, many a
true friend of the peace and union of the Chris-
tian body, has deplored the degree of precision,
with which the articles in debate were defined, and
a line was drawn between the contending parties,
— to separate them perhaps for ever ! Real union,
indeed at that time of delirious contest, was not to
be hoped for; but some latitude allowed to the
wanderings of the human mind, a greater scope
given to interpretation, and a respectful silence
recommended to the disputants on subjects too
mysterious to be explained, and too awful to be
bandied about in scholastic disputation, might,
perhaps, at a more favorable season, liave soothed
animosity, and disposed all temperate persons to


terms of accommodation. Remote, however, as
we now are from that sera of discord, and strangers
to the passions which then influenced mankind,
it might seem to border upon temerity and in-
justice, were we to censure the proceedings of an
assembly, which combined the benevolence, the
sanctity, and the moderation of the Cardinals
Pole and Sadoleti, Contai^eni and Seripando*.

* Vida has made a beautiful allusion both to the City and
the Council of Trent, in the form of a devout prayer, at the
end of one of his hymns.

Nos primura pete, qui in sedem convenimus unara,
Saxa ubi depressum condunt praerupta Tridentum
Hinc, atque hinc, variis acciti e sedibus orbis,
Ut studiis juncti, atque animis eonoordibus una
Tendamus, duce te freti, succurrere lapsis
Legibus, et versos revocare in pristina mores.
Teque ideo coetu celebramus, et ore ciemus,
Sancte, veni, penitus te mentibus insere nostris.
Aura poteng, amor omnipotens, caeli aurea flamma!

Hym. Spir: Sati:

And first on us descend, assembled here,

Where round Trent's vale the closing mountains rear

Their rugged heads : From various lands we came,

In zeal united, and with minds the same.

That by thy guidance, in Religion's cause.

Our efforts may support the sinking laws.

And morals, laps'd and undermin'd, restore

To the bright purity they knew before.

Then come, Almighty Love ! thine aid afford !

Thee we invoke, we praise with one accord.

Pure spark of flame divine, our souls inspire,

And warm thy vot'ries with celestial fire I


February 18th. From Trent the road con-
tinues to run through a narrow valley, watered
by the Adige (or Athesis) and covered with vines
conducted over trellis work, or winding from tree
to tree in garlands. High mountains rise on each
side, and the snow, though occasionally deep, was
yet sensibly diminished. After the first stage, the
snow appeared only on the mountains, while in
the valley we enjoyed some share of the genial in-
fluence of an Italian sun. The number of neat vil-
lages seemed to increase on both banks of the
river; though in all, the ravages of war and that
wanton rage for mischief which, upon all occasions,
distinguishes an invading army, were but too dis-
cernible. Cottages destroyed, houses burnt or da-
maged, and churches disfigured forced themselves
too frequently upon the attention of the traveller.
A fortress covering the brow of a steep hill, rises
on the left at some distance from the road, and
forms too conspicuous an object to pass unnoticed.
Its ancient name was, according to Cluverius, Ver-
rucca Castellum ; it is now called Castello delta
Pietra (the Castle of the Rocks), from its site.
It was taken and re-taken tAvice by the French
and Austriaiis during the last war, though its
situation might induce a traveller to consider it

Roveredo, anciently Roboretum, the second
stage from Trent, is a neat little town in the de-

Ch. 11. THROUGH ITALY. 107

files of the Alps, situated, geographically speaking,
in the German territory, but in language, manners,
and appearance, Italian. The entrance on the
side of Trent looks well, though the main street
is narrow. An inscription over the gate, relative
to the marriage and passage of the Princess of
Parma, pleased me much, as it affords a specimen
of the good taste of this little town.


Philippi Borb. Parmje ducis

Josepho Austrife duci nuptae

Viennam proficiscenti

Felix sit iter

Online LibraryJohn Chetwode EustaceA classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 27)