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ing reclaimed. Passing under the Aqueduct denominated the Aqua Felice, the principal source whence the city is supplied with water, we re-entered the gates of Rome at sunset, and were happy to recognize many old acquaintances, if not in the faces of the inhabitants, at least in the Coliseum, the Triumphal Arches, and the ruins of the Forum, after an absence of a little more than a month.
SKETCH OF ROME RESUMED—DESCRIPTION OF ST. PETER'S CHURCH.
June, 1826.—On the day after our arrival, we resumed an examination of Rome, and an unremitted round of observations was continued for three or four weeks. I shall select from the number of objects examined such as are deemed the most interesting, and be as concise in my notices, as the relative importance of the several topics will permit.
St. Peter's Church is among the first objects which the traveller will visit, and among the last which he will wish to attempt to describe. I have seen it perhaps a hundred different times since my first entrance into Rome—at morning, evening, and noon-day; by moonlight, and in the blaze of two illuminations. To catch its different aspects, I have been round it, and over every part of it, from the vaults to the ball; but after all, it may be extremely difficult to convey an adequate idea of the structure; as it is sui generis, wholly beyond the limits of comparison.
The location of St. Peter's is pre-eminently beautiful, though little except the Dome can be seen from other parts of the city. It stands on a gentle eminence, the brow of the Vatican Mount and the site of Nero's amphitheatre, a few rods from the right bank of the Tiber. From a point near the Castle of St. Angelo, two comparatively narrow, crooked, and dirty streets, with a block of mean buildings between them, terminate in the Piazza in front of the church, of which nothing is seen till you enter the square.
The view on entering the Piazza is certainly magnificent, though not sufficiently imposing to strike the mind with awe or astonishment. From the entrances of the streets to the porch of the church, spreads an area of about a thousand feet in length, and in the widest part eight hundred in breadth, handsomely paved with large flags, bordered by lofty porticos and galleries on both sides, ornamented with an Egyptian obelisk in the centre, and refreshed by two noble fountains, throwing their silver sheets of water to a great height. The moderate acclivity of the area; the triple flight of steps mounting to the porch; the front of the church; the dome; the lantern; the ball and the cross, form an ascending series, extremely agreeable to the eye. Had Michael Angelo's plan of St. Peter's been adopted, which would have brought the dome to the centre of the edifice, and rendered the whole of it visible above the contemplated portico, like that of the Pantheon, the view from this point could scarcely have been equalled in architectural grandeur. As it is, the high front, surmounted by a balustrade and by colossal statues, effectually conceals some of the boldest and finest features of this glorious temple. The Sacristy, which may be denominated the Folly of Pope Pius VI. on the left, and the monstrous pile of the -Vatican, on the right, also obtrude themselves upon the eye, and interrupt the unity of the prospect. Notwithstanding the panegyrics, that Eustace has lavished on the beauty of the Travertine stone, of which the church is constructed, its complexion appeared to me to detract much from its dignity. • Its hue is a pale, sickly yellow, without any of the richness of the Coliseum, or even the sober grandeur of St. Paul's at London.' With these deductions, the coup d'oeil is less striking, than one might imagine from a description of the constituent parts.
The porticos, bordering the sides of the Piazza form segments of an ellipsis. They are composed of four ranges of Doric columns, sixty feet in height, including the Ionic entablature by which they are capped. This mixture of the orders of architecture, the work of Bernini, has been severely censured. The three hundred enormous pillars, forming • these colonnades, stand at sufficient distances, to leave three avenues between the rows, of which the central one is wide enough for two carriages to pass abreast. In continuation of the porticos, covered galleries, with arcades looking into the square, rise with a slight inclination to the vestir bule of the church. The tops of these magnificent avenues, extending on either hand about a thousand feet in length, are
faced with pilasters, adorned with balustrades, and crowned with two hundred colossal statues, ten or twelve feet in height, giving a total elevation to the sides of the Piazza of upwards of seventy feet. It is difficult to conceive of an approach exhibiting an air of greater grandeur.
The obelisk consists of one stupendous block of red Egyptian granite, covered like all the others at Rome, with hieroglyphics. It was brought from Heliopolis, by order of the Emperor Caligula, in a vessel constructed for the purpose; and after being purified from the superstition of the Nile, it was dedicated to the Caesars and erected in the amphitheatre of Nero. It lay buried in ruins for many ages, till one of the Popes raised it by machinery at an immense expense, absolved it again from the pollution of pagan idolatry, consecrated it to Christianity, and mounted it upon its present pedestal, on which it is supported by four lions. The quadrangular, pyramidal shaft is about a hundred and thirty feet in height, with long Latin inscriptions on two of the faces. A horizon is drawn on the pavement, round the pedestal, and the points of the compass marked in the Italian and English languages.
The two copious and exquisitely beautiful fountains form the finest features in this superb area. They are constantly gushing out in jets d'eaux, in the shape and size ef large weeping-willows, sparkling in the sun, and not unfrequently producing an iris. The waters fall into basins of oriental granite, fifty feet in circumference. In this species of ornament, which in point of convenience, cleanliness, and taste, ought to be placed in the very first rank, Rome holds out an example worthy of imitation in all other large cities. Not one of her hundred squares is destitute of fountains, some of which are even superior to those of St. Peter's, splendid' as they are.
The triple flights of marble steps, leading to the vestibule of St. Peter's, have not in my opinion that boldness of outline, which is suited to the grandeur of the temple. They are four hundred feet in breadth, and perhaps half that distance in depth, sloping off towards the Piazza, in a kind of platform, so that a coach might almost drive to the door. Had the depth been somewhat contracted, a horizontal plain continued, and full instead of half steps constructed, the effect would have been much more striking. From the upper flight, the front of the church ranges along between the two galleries, to the extent of four hundred feet, and rises nearly two hundred feet in height, supported by enormous Corinthian columns at the bottom, with a sort of attic story embellished with Ionic pillars, pilasters, and a variety of architectural ornaments, which deprive the facade of all simplicity of character. To this defect, numerous windows and balconies, whence the Pope pronounces his benedictions upon the people, greatly contribute and justify all the criticisms of architects. The front is broken into irregular sections, and resembles that of a palace rather than of a religious temple. A balustrade extends along the top, behind which stand colossal statues of the Saviour and his twelve Apostles, the former in the centre, and the latter ranged on either hand. They are about twenty feet in height, and bear their characteristic emblems. At the corners are the papal arms—the keys, the eagle, and the triple crown,.'
Five stately entrances, corresponding with the number of doors, open into the vestibule, which extends across the whole breadth of the front, is thirty feet wide, and upwards of sixty in height. The ceiling is splendidly gilt; and the walls are enriched with a variety of bas-relief and other decorations. Two equestrian statues—one of the Emperor Constantine, and the other of Charlemagne—occupy the extremities of the perch, and terminate to great advantage the long perspective. Of the five doors, the central one is of bronze, resembling those in the Cathedral at Pisa, and the Baptistry at Florence, though inferior to both in workmanship. The compartments of bas-relief contrast oddly with the heavy, greasy curtains in the shape of coverlets, hanging at the other entrances, and pushed aside by the visitant, to enable him to crawl through. One of the doors possesses peculiar sanctity, and is opened only at the return of the year of Jubilee, when the Pope uses the hammer, and acts as porter in person, unbarring a new gate to the sanctuary, through which the eager multitude rush. Its threshold and the cross on the pannels are worn by the lips of devotees, who never pass it without a salutation.
At his initiation into the interior of St. Peter's, the spectator may probably pause for a moment in mute admiration of the splendid scene, which opens before him. He will look forward through a perspective of more than six hundred feet, from the front door to the extremity of the chancel behind the High Altar, and lift his dazzled eye from the tesselated lavement of marble, to the profusely gilded vault, at the eight of seventy or eighty feet above his head. After the lare of the coup d'oeil is over, and his feelings are prepared 2 survey objects with deliberation, he will set about examinig the construction of the church, and the world of ornaments it contains. The same optical deception with regard 3 dimensions prevails here, as on the exterior. One sees a thite marble cherub clinging to the wall and supporting a font f holy water. It appears a mere child of the ordinary size; ut the hands attempt in vain to span the colossal wrist or ncle. A pen is seen in the hand of an Evangelist, in protortion to the statue ; and it is found to be six feet in length. Some of the decorations suffer extremely from not having een calculated for such a scale, appearing like mere motes upon the walls. Contrary to the plan of Michael Angelo, who intended to ring his stupendous dome into the centre, the church is in he shape of a Roman instead of a Greek cross. This form ind some obvious defects in the construction greatly impair he grandeur and beauty of the interior. The nave is about two hundred feet in width, bordered with walls which are ornamented with Corinthian pilasters, and intermediate niches holding colossal saints. From the nave, lofty arcades open into the two aisles, which are lined on the sides next to the walls with a succession of chapels and altars. The massive partitions, separating the nave from the aisles, break up and destroy the view, taken as a whole, and but a small part of the area can be seen at a time. Had pillars been substituted in place of pilasters and arches, the tout ensemble would have been inconceivably grand. The High Altar is in the centre of the cross, beneath the peerless dome, and above the tomb of St. Peter. It is a prouder shrine than ever rose to a pagan god, amidst all the wealth and splendour of the East. Four spiral columns of bronze, wreathed with garlands and adorned with cherubim, rise to the height of ninety feet to support the canopy, which is surmounted by angels and a cross, said to be one hundred and thirty feet above the pavement. In front of the altar is a beautiful balustrade, enclosing a flight of steps, which descend to the tomb of the Patron Saint. At the foot of the stairs spreads a small but splendid area, denominated the Sacred Confessory. The walls are lined with alabaster, lapis lazuli, , and red antique. A white marble statue kneels upon the