Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

gal) has been exceeded in a Protestant Nation, for the armaments of a single year.—As many Centuries of progressive ingenuity must have preceded the bold design; and successive Generations have concurred to raise, and to decorate, this magnificent Temple; which concentrates the sublime conceptions of a Raphael, a Canova, and a Michael Angelo--the Painter, the Sculptor, and the Architect, of a revolving Period of the Arts, which returns (if it returns at all) like the Comet of Newton-in an ellipsis of Ages.

[blocks in formation]

LETTER XII.

The Palace of the Vatican.

THE morning of Yesterday was fully

employed in rambling over the endless apartments of the Papal Palace, the number of which (you are gravely told) exceeds eleven thousand. Be that as it may, they have remained unoccupied ever since the departure of Pius VI. the present Pope residing altogether in the Quirinal, or summer palace; in which his state can be maintained with a far less expensive Establishment, than would be necessary to people the twenty Courts, and two hundred Stair-cases of the Vatican.

This irregular Edifice, or Mass of Edifices, hạs been erected, at different periods, without any general plan, according to the taste or convenience of successive Priests and Princes. It has arisen, by degrees, from the humble Dor. mitory of St. Liberius, or Șt. Symmachus (in the Fifth Century) to the Royal Palace of Sixtus V. whọ erected the magnificent Court of St. Damas (which has been ever since the winter residence of the Sovereign Pontiffs) and the Imperial Museum of Pius VI. who added to the darksome Galleries of Sixtus, the splendid Rotundas that once enclosed the proudest Monuments of the Arts.

The imposing pile is beheld as you approach the Dome of St. Peter's, towering over the northern Piazza, through

which

which coaches may drive under cover, a thousand or twelve hundred feet; and set down at the entrance of the right hand Corridor, in the side of which a private doorway leads, by a winding ascent, into the Great Court or Cloister, around which, in three stories, run the celebrated Piazzas, one of which has been ornamented three hundred years, by the luxuriant fancy of Raphael.

But to go on by the principal entrance, the Corridor, four hundred feet long, terminates in the angle of the Portico of St. Peter's, in which is the Statue of Constantine-astonished at the Vision of

the Cross.

Here you instinctively cast an eye to the left, ranging five hundred feet, along the

vaulted

vaulted Portico, to the distant Figure of Charlemagne, in the opposite Corridor; before you prepare yourself to ascend the marble steps of the Great Stair-case. They extend from wall to wall beneath an Ionic Colonnade, terminating in a half pace, from whence another fight leads into the Great Hall, at the far end of which you enter the Chapel where the Cardinals assemble, in conclave, for the election of the Popes.*

It

• The Great Hall is called the Sala Regia, because it was there that the Popes gave audience to Foreign Ambassadors. In it among other Paintings by Georgio Vasari, and other second rate Painters, is Alexander III. the laughty Pontiff that made the Kings of France and England hold his stirrup, and lead his Mule) sctting his foot up. on the neck of the Eniperor Frederick; the Return of Gregory XI. from Avignon to Rome; the Battle of Lepanto gained over the Turks in 1571 by Pius V. in which 30,000 Mahometans were slain ; and the Massacree of St. Bartholomew's at Paris during the Pontificate of Gregory XIII. by whom a medal was struck in commemoration of that shocking event, on the reverse of which appears the Destroying Angel, with the Cross in one hand, and the exterminating sword in the other.

« AnteriorContinuar »