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Stat fucare colus nec Sidone vilior Ancon,
Sil. It. lib. 8.
May with the proudest Tyrian purple vie. Fountain water is still very scarce at Ravenna, and was probably much more so, when the sea was within its neighbourhood.
FROM ROME TO NAPLES.
Upon my arrival at Rome, I took a view of St. Peter's and the Rotunda, leaving the rest till my return from Naples, when I should have time and leisure enough to consider what I saw. St. Peter's seldom answers expectation at first entering it, but enlarges itself on all sides insensibly, and mends upon the eye every moment.
The proportions are so very well observed, that nothing appears to an advantage, or distinguishes itself above the rest. It seems neither extremely high, nor long, nor broad, because it is all of them in a just equality. As on the contrary, in our Gothic cathedrals, the narrowness of the arch makes it rise in height, or run out in length; the lowness often opens it in breadth, or the defectiveness of some other particular makes any single part appear in great perfection. Though every thing in this church is admirable, the most astonishing part of it is the cupola. Upon my going to the top of it, I was surprised to find that the dome, which we see in the church, is not the same that one looks upon without doors, the last of them being a kind of case to the other, and the stairs lying betwixt them both, by which one ascends into the ball. Had there been only the outward dome, it would not have shown itself to an advantage to those that are in the church; or had there only been the inward one, it would scarce have been seen by those that are without; had they both been one solid dome of so great a thickness, the pillars would have been too weak to have supported it. After having surveyed this dome, I went to see the Rotunda, which is generally said to have been the model of it. This church is at present so much changed from the ancient Pantheon, as Pliny has described it, that some have been inclined to think it is not the same temple; but the Cavalier Fontana has abundantly satisfied the world in this particular, and shown how the ancient figure and ornaments of the Pantheon have been changed into what they are at present. This author, who is now esteemed the best of the Roman architects, has lately written a treatise on Vespasian's amphitheatre, which is not yet printed.
After having seen these two master-pieces of modern and ancient architecture, I have often considered with myself whether the ordinary figure of the heathen, or that' of the Christian temples be the most beautiful, and the most capable of magnificence; and cannot forbear thinking the cross figure more proper for such spacious buildings than the Rotund. I must confess the eye is better filled at first entering the Rotund, and takes in the whole beauty and inagnificence of the temple at one view. But such as are built in the form of a cross, give us a greater variety of noble prospects. Nor is it easy to conceive a more glorious show in architecture, than what a man meets with in St. Peter's, when he stands under the dome. If he looks upward, he is astonished at the spacious hollow of the cupola, and has a vault on every side of him, that makes one of the beautifullest vistas that the eye can possibly pass through. I know that such as are professed admirers of the ancients, will find abundance of chimerical beauties the architects themselves never thought of, as one of the most famous of the moderns in that art tells us, the hole in the roof of the Rotunda is so admirably contrived, that it makes those who are in the temple look like angels, by diffusing the light equally on all sides of them.
In all the old highways, that lead from Rome, one
sees several little ruins on each side of them, that were formerly so many sepulchres; for the ancient Romans generally buried their dead near the great roads.
Quorum Flaminiâ tegitur cinis atque Latinâ. Juv. S.1. None, but some few of a very extraordinary quality, having been interred within the walls of the city.
Our Christian epitaphs that are to be seen only in churches, or church-yards, begin often with a Siste Viator. Viator precare salutem, &c. probably in imitation of the old Roman inscriptions, that generally addressed themselves to the travellers; as it was impossible for them to enter the city, or to go out of it, without passing through one of these melancholy roads, which, for a great length, was nothing else but a street of funeral monuments.
In my way from Rome to Naples I found nothing so remarkable as the beauty of the country, and the extreme poverty of its inhabitants.
It is indeed an amazing thing to see the present desolation of Italy, when one considers what incredible multitudes of people it abounded with during the reigns of the Roman emperors: and, notwithstanding the removal of the imperial seat, the irruptions of the barbarous nations, the civil wars of this country, with the hardships of its several governments, one can scarce imagine how so plentiful a soil should become so miserably unpeopled in comparison of what it once was. reckon, by a very moderate computation, more inhabitants in the Campania of old Rome than are now in all Italy. And if we could number up those prodigious swarms that had settled themselves in every part of this delightful country, I question not but that they would amount to more than can be found, at present, in any six parts of Europe of the same extent. This desolation appears no where greater than in the pope's territories, and yet there are several reasons would make a man expect to see these dominions the best
regulated, and most flourishing of any other in Europe. Their prince is generally a man of learning and virtue, mature in years and experience, who has seldom any vanity or pleasure to gratify at his people's expense, and is neither encumbered with wife, children, or mistresses; not to mention the supposed sanctity of his character, which obliges him in a more particular manner to consult the good and happiness of mankind. The direction of church and state are lodged entirely in his own hands, so that his government is naturally free from those principles of faction and division which are mixed in the very composition of most others. His subjects are always ready to fall in with his designs, and are more at his disposal than any others of the most absolute government, as they have a greater veneration for his person, and not only court his favour but his blessing. His country is extremely fruitful, and has good havens both for the Adriatic and Mediterranean, which is an advantage peculiar to himself and the Neapolitans above the rest of the Italians. There is still a benefit the pope enjoys above all other sovereigns, in drawing great sums out of Spain, Germany, and other countries that belong to foreign princes, which one would fancy might be no small ease to his own subjects. We may here add, that there is no place in Europe so much frequented by strangers, whether they are such as come out of curiosity, or such who are obliged to attend the court of Rome on several occasions, as are many of the cardinals and prelates, that bring considerable sums into the pope's dominions. But, notwithstanding all these promising circumstances, and the long peace that has reigned so many years in Italy, there is not a more miserable people in Europe than the pope's subjects. His state is thin of inhabitants, and a great part of his soil is uncultivated. His subjects are wretchedly poor and idle, and have neither sufficient manufactures nor traffic to employ them.
These ill effects may arise, in a great measure, out of the arbitrariness of the government, but I think they are chiefly to be ascribed to the very genius of the Roman Catholic religion, which here shows itself in its perfection. It is not strange to find a country half unpeopled, where so great a proportion of the inhabitants of both sexes is tied under such vows of chastity, and where at the same time an inquisition forbids all recruits out of any other religion. Nor is it less easy to account for the great poverty and want that are to be met with in a country which invites into it such swarms of vagabonds, under the title of pilgrims, and shuts up in cloisters such an incredible multitude of young and lusty beggars, who, instead of increasing the common stock by their labour and industry, lie as a dead weight on their fellow-subjects, and consume the charity that ought to support the sickly, old, and decrepid. The many hospitals, that are every where erected, serve rather to encourage idleness in the people, than to set them at work; not to mention the great riches which lie useless in churches and religious houses, with the multitude of festivals that must never be violated by trade or business. To speak truly, they are here so wholly taken up with men's souls, that they neglect the good of their bodies; and when, to these natural evils in the government and religion, there arises among them an avaricious pope, who is for making a family, it is no wonder if the people sink under such a complication of distempers. Yet it is to this humour of Nepotism that Rome owes its present splendor and magnificence; for it would have been impossible to have furnished out so many glorious palaces with such a profusion of pictures, statues, and the like ornaments, had not the riches of the people at several times fallen into the hands of many different families, and of particular persons; as we may observe, though the bulk of the Roman people was more rich and happy in the times of the commonwealth, the city of Rome received all its beauties and embellishments under the emperors. It is probable the Campania of