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tained from the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii are stubborn facts against me. However, I think it not to be questioned, that if we form our estimate from the remains of their sacerdotal and other public edifices, we shall be obliged to admit with you, that their grandeur very greatly exceeded that of the moderns; and yet I think it is Aristotle who describes that same Athens, where these beautiful sculptures were executed, and which they so long adorned, as a dirty place, with streets scarcely wide enough for a carriage to pass ; the houses chiefly of timber, and overhanging the streets in such a manner as at once to darken the path and confine the air. Indeed, I fancy the state of the citizen-part of the cities of the ancients ought no more to be estimated by the magnificent ruins of the public buildings, than the state of our own old towns in the olden time by the cathedrals and the abbey remains that still render them so interesting. Upon the subject of ancient Roman grandeur, there are some very sensible observations in the fifty-sixth number of the Quarterly Review, which I beg you will allow me to read.”
ANCIENT ROME. “ Unfortunately, very few travellers approach Rome in the first instance with the moderate expectations of Virgil's Shepherd; prepared for nothing more splendid than what they had been accustomed to see at their own country-towns on a market-day. They have taken on trust the descriptions of the poets, and orators, and historians, of a country fertile in such characters ; and the Queen of Cities, throned upon her seven hills in marble majesty, the mistress of a world conquered by the valour of her sons, holds up to them a picture, the effect
of which they are perhaps unwilling to spoil by filling up all its parts with too curious accuracy; otherwise it is certain that information enough is to be obtained from Roman authors to prepare them for a scene of much more moderate splendour in the capital of Italy. From them they might have learned, before they put themselves on board the packet, that all those points upon which the imagination reposes with so much complacency, are perfectly consistent with disorder, and misery, and filth: they might have learned, that the
Tiber was of old but a torpid and muddy stream ; that heretofore the streets of Rome were dark and narrow, and crooked; that carriages of pleasure (of which, by the bye, the carpentum, one of the most common, probably very little surpassed our tilting and jolting taxcart) were by law prohibited from entering them except on certain days, so little space was there for driving ; that the sedans, which were used in their stead, put the people to infinite confusion; that there were few scavengers, and no lamps ; that when a Roman returned home from a supper party, he had to pick his way along with a horn lantern, and bless himself if he reached his own door without a shower from an attic alighting on his cap of liberty ; that the porticos and approaches to the baths were subject to every species of defilement, so that even the symbols of religion were inlisted for their protection; that the statues with which the city was peopled were treated with that contempt which Launce would have rebuked even in his dog ; that the images of the gods were disfigured by painted faces and gilded beards; and that though the Venus de' Medici never appeared in a hooped petticoat, nor the Apollo Belvedere in a blue swallow-tailed coat with metal buttons, yet that the costume of the day, whatever it was, was very generally bestowed on the representatives of Heaven; that the houses were for the most part brick, many of them crazy, and supported upon props, and that such as belonged to a patrician himself, had often the ground floor assigned to a huck. ster or a dealer in oil; that in the windows (which were few in number) glass was seldom if ever to be seen, but in its stead a dimly transparent stone, or shutter of wood ; that, from a want of chimneys, the rooms were full of smoke, which was left to make its escape by the tiles, the windows, and the door ; that on this account Vitruvius expressly forbade carved work or moulding, except in the summer apartments, where no fire was admitted, because in the others they would be covered with soot (lib. vii. c. 4.); that amongst the accomplishments of a cook, it was expected that he should be skilful in detecting which way the wind blew, lest, if he opened the wrong kitchen-window, the smoke should be driven into the broth ;—that, under these circumstances, the ancestors of a Roman gentleman, when they had occupied the niches of his hall for a few years, bore a very striking resemblance to modern chimney-sweepers ; that the Romans made as much use of their fingers at a meal as Englishmen do of their forks ; and that Ovid, in his Art of Love, gives it as a piece of Chesterfield advice to the young gallants of his time, 'not to smear their mouths with their greasy hands’ more than necessary ; that a mappa, or napkin, for each individual, was thus absolutely requisite; that every guest brought his own, and, lest the gravy and sauce-boats overturned should not do it full justice, it was made further serviceable as a pocket handkerchief! They might have learned, moreover, from the same authorities, that the middle ranks of the citizens were clad in white woollen vestures, which were of course as habitually dirty as might be expected from the general poverty of the wearers, whilst the baser plebeians, not able to affect this shabby gentility, contented themselves
with garments of the colour, and quality, and neatness of a mendicant friar's; that their shirts, too, were composed of the same material ; and that from these causes, aided by the blessing of a warm climate, and the plentiful use of garlic, the effluvia of their public assemblies was so offensive, that even in a roofless theatre the emperor found it expedient to sprinkle his faithful subjects with showers of rose-water :-and having duly weighed these, and similar points of minute history, they might certainly have brought themselves to adopt more sober views of the magnificence of ancient Rome, and an ancient Roman, and have advanced to the Porta del Popolo with the reasonable chance of having their anticipations, in many respects at least, completely fulfilled."
" But,” resumed Egeria, “ although this account of the state of ancient Rome is, I doubt not, perfectly just, it would seem that the condition of the modern city is not much better. Without looking farther than the appearance of things as they are, travellers ascribe the slovenliness of the Italians, and chiefly that of the Romans, to the decline of moral energy among them,—which same moral energy is one of those vague generalities that are admitted as things understood ; whereas, if I mistake not, they are, fór the most part, terms without any distinct or accurate meaning. However, it would be difficult to prove that the slovenliness of the modern Romans is owing to any such cause, as either a failing in their powers of reasoning or in their faculty of intellectual taste; for the probability is, that Rome at present, in what respects the accommodation and comfort of the inhabitants, is superior to what she ever was, even in the palmiest period of her magnificence. In truth,
I have a notion that the dryness of the Italian air is not favourable to cleanliness. The neatest people, in all their household concerns, are the Dutch, and, beyond all question, they are incited to the industry which makes them so to their mud and their moist climate. The English are perhaps more delicate than the Dutch; they have, generally speaking, the same love of neatness, but they have also a degree of taste for greater elegance, which I attribute to our climate being more variable than that of Holland; our love of the neat, if I may be permitted so to speak, considering it as a quality different from the bountiful, I would ascribe to the foggy humidity of our climate—the Dutch days—which are not so numerous in the course of the year as to make neatness the sole object of household thrift,--and our taste for the elegant to those bright and sunny intervals, though few and far between, which occasionally exalt the temperament of our sensations and perceptions to a degree of Italian delicacy. But not to descant on a topic so pregnant with controversy and metaphysics, I will read to you, from a clever female work, entitled, “ Rome in the Nineteenth Century,” an account of the state of her palaces, as illustrative of what I have just been saying with regard to the domestic comforts of her inhabitants."
ROMAN PALACES. « Palaces, to an English ear, convey an idea of all that the imagination can figure of elegance and splendour. But after a certain residence in Italy, even this obstinate early association is conquered, and the word immediately brings to our mind images of dirt, neglect, and decay. The palaces of Rome are innumerable ;