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DESCRIPTION OF POMPEII.
(From Eustace's Tour through Italy.] BEYOND Torre d'Annonciato the road turns a little from the sea, and crosses the ancient Palus Pompeiana, once perhaps a marsh, now a rich plain, raised and fertilized by the very ashes which buried the unfortunate Pompeii. We stopped at a farmhouse in appearance, and alighting in the court, found ourselves in the quarters of a legion of Roman soldiers: the destination and date of this edifice, its form and colouring, the names and jests of the soldiers scribbled on the walls, fresh as if written yesterday, are objects sufficiently curious to interest without the aid of architecture, of which this building cannot boast; it is an oblong square, with a portico on all sides, supported by Doric pillars of brick plastered over and painted alternately red and yellow, with the exception of the two in the middle of each side, which are blue; behind are numerous apartments, about fourteen feet square. Immediately behind the barracks are two theatres, one small, and supposed to have been covered, the other large ; both these edifices were lined with marble, beautifully paved, and in every respect highly finished. The pavement of the arena of the smaller theatre is entire ; and engraved on it, in a line parallel with the stage, are the following words in large brass letters :
M. Oculatius, M. F. Verus 11 Vir pro ludis. In other respects, these theatres are exactly of the same form as the Teatro Olimpico of Palladio at Verona: having, like it, a parrow proscenium, and three entrances (one large, the other two less) to the stage from the scenery behind. In the larger of these fabrics the seats rest on the side of a hill, above which was a colonnade or portico communicating with a public walk, or rather forming a part of a forum. The side of a hill was indeed pecilliarly favourable to the arrangements of an ancient theatre, and seems to have been frequently chosen for the purpose. These theatres, when discovered, were nearly entire; they have since been stripped of their decorations, but still retain all their great characteristic features.
The street, which runs from the neighbourhood of the soldiers' quarters to the gate is narrow, that is, only about thirteen feet wide, formed like the Via Appia at Itri and other places, where it remains entire, of large stones fitted to each other in their original form, without being cut or broken for the purpose. There are on each side parapets raised about two feet above the middle, and about three feet wide. The pavement is furrowed by two deep ruts, which show evidently that the carriages always kept the same line, and that the wheels were about four feet asunder; of
course, they must have all moved in the same direction, and had regular hours for coming and going, as there is not room for two; and even if there were, a stone post placed at intervals would oblige them to return to the track. The houses on either side stand close to each other, seem to have been shops of different kinds, were of the same elevation, and nearly the same size, all paved and painted, much in the same manner. In one of these buildings were found several unfinished statues, that announce the workshop of a statuary. In another the word Salve, engraved in large characters on the threshold in mosaic, indicates, it may be supposed, the readiness of a publican to welcome his guests, In one, the amphoræ, which contained wine, still remain; and on the marble slab, that served as a shopboard, are the marks of cups or glasses. The gate has one large central, and two less openings on the side, with parapets of the same breadth as the street; without, but close to it, are semicircular recesses with stone seats, and beyond, a tomb and a palumbarium, or receptacle of cinerary urns. The most perfect and most curious object that has been yet discovered is a villa at a little distance from the town. It consists of three courts; in the first and largest is a pond, and in the centre an edicula, or little temple; there are numerous apartments of every description paved in mosaic, coloured and adorned with various paintings on the walls, all in a very beautiful style. The baths in this villa seem to have been the principal object of luxurious indulgence, and are laid out with a refinement of art and contrivance that can receive few or no improvements from all our modern inventions. In the cellars under the portico of the great court, were discovered several female skeletons in a row, with their backs against the wall: the ashes, which had gradually worked their way into every corner, had hardened into a solidness, which, when removed, was found in some places imprest with the form of the bosom, and even retaining part of the garment. At the door of the same court were found two other skeletons, one with a key, the other with a purse grasped in its hand. This villa is said to have belonged to Arrius; the name of Arrius has no charm in its sound! What traveller, while visiting it, would not wish to persuade himself that he was ranging over the apartments of Cicero's Pompeianum. It stood in the neighbourhood of this town, and possibly on this very spot. It was a favourite retreat, and much frequented by Cicero, and his friends Atticus, Hortensius, Sulpicius, &c. From it he sailed to Greece, in order to join Pompey, after having declined the dubious offer of the three cohorts stationed at Pompeii. At all events, if the excavations were carried on with spirit, and on a large scale, there is no doubt but that Cicero's villa would be found, and probably some inscription, statue, or other circumstance, recording the name of the most -illustrious of its proprietors. The houses are
on a small scale, generally of one, sometimes of two stories; the principal apartments are always behind, enclosing a court with a portico round it, and a marble cistern in the middle; two had glass windows, in the others shutters only were used. The pavements are all mosaic, and the walls are stained with mild colours. The decorations are basso relievos in stucco, and paintings in medallions. Marble seems to have been common. On the whole, Pompeii, in all the circumstances which I have mentioned, bears a strong resemblance to modern Italian towns, with this only difference, that in point of general appearance the latter have, I think, the advantage. It must, however, be remembered, that Pompeii had already been damaged by an earthquake,* that the roofs and upper parts of the houses have been borne down by the weight of ashes and pumice-stones upon them; and, in short, that as not more than a quarter of the town has been hitherto explored, buildings of greater magnificence may still remain buried.
Stripped as it is of almost all its moveable ornaments, Pompeii possesses a secret power that captivates and fixes, I had almost said, melts the soul. In other times, and in other places, one single edifice, a temple, a theatre, a tomb, that had escaped the wreck of ages would have enchanted us; nay, an arch, the remnant of a wall, even one solitary column was beheld with veneration; but to discover a single ancient house, the abode of a Roman in his pri vacy, the scene of his domestic hours, was an object of fond but hopeless longing. Here not a temple, nor a theatre, nor a column, nor a house, but a whole city rises before us untouched, unaltered, the very same as it was eighteen hundred years ago, when inhabited by Romans. We range through the same streets, tread the very same pavement, behold the same walls, enter the same doors, and repose in the same apartments. We are surrounded by the same objects, and out of the same windows contemplate the same scenery. While you are wandering through the abandoned rooms, you may, without any great effort of imagination, expect to meet some of the former inhabitants, or perhaps the master of the house himself, and almost feel like intruders who dread the appearance of any of the family. In the streets you are afraid of turning a corner lest you should jostle a passenger; and on entering a house, the least sound startles, as if the proprietor was coming out of the back apartments. The traveller may long indulge the illusion, for not a voice is heard, not even the sound of a foot to disturb the loneliness of the place, or interrupt his reflections. All around is silence, not the silence of solitude and repose, but of death and devastation, the silence of a great city without one single inhabitant.
Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent. Æn. 11. Motu teirse celebre Campaniæ oppidum Pompeü corruit. Tac. Ann. XV. 29.
Immediately above the buildings, the ground rises, not into a cliff casting sloom, as the sides of a grave, on the hollow below, but as a gentle swell formed by nature to shelter the houses at its bise. It is clothed with corn, poplars, mulberries, and vines, in their most luxurient graces, waving from tree to tree, still covering the greater part of the city with vegetation, and forming with the dark brown masses hall buried belo:v, a singular and most affecting contrast. This scene of a city, raised as it were from the grave, where it had lain forgotten during the long night of eighteen cen. turies, when once beheld, must remain forever pictured on the imagination, and whenever it presents itself to the fancy, it comes, like the recollection of an awful apparition, accompanied by thoughts and enotions solemn and melancholy,
FURTHER ANECDOTES OF SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
[From his Memoirs by Mr. Northeote, recently published in England.]
“ JAMES MAC ARDELL, the mezzetino engraver, having taken a very good print from the portrait of Rubens, c.me with it one morning to Sir Joshua Reynolds, to inquire if he could inform hiin particularly of the many files to which Rubens bad a richt, in order to inseribe them properly under his print; saying, he believed that Rabens had been knighted by the kinys of France, Spain and England; was secretary of state to Flanders, and to the p:ivy council in Spain; and had been employed in a ministerial capacity from the court of Madrid to the court of London, to negotiate a treaty of peace between the crowns, and that he was also a magistrate of Antwerp, &c.
“ Dr. Johnson happened to be in the roo'n with Sir Joshna at the time, and understanding Mac Ardell's inquiry, interfered rajer abruptly, saying, “pooh! pooh! put liis na ne unifer the print, Piter Paul Rubens; that is full suficient, add more till all the rest.'
“ 'Tliis advice of the doctor's was accordingly followe:).”
"When Goldsmith's comedy of "She Stoops to Couquer,' was to be brought out on the stage, on the 15th of March in ibis year, he was at a loss what name to give it till the very last moment, and then in great haste called it “She Stoops to Conquer, or the Mistakes of a Night.' Sir Joshua, who disliked this name for a pizy, offered a much better to hiin, saying, "You ought to Call it the Belle's Stratagem, and if you do pot, I will damn it.' Liowe:er, Goldsmith chose to name it himself, as above; and Mrs. Corley has since given that name to one of her comedies.
6 Goldsmith was in great anxiety about its success; he was much distressed in his finances at the time, and all his hopes hung on the event; and at the dinner preceding the representation of his play, his mouth became so parched and dry, from the agitation of his mind, that he was unable to swallow a single mouthful. The actors themselves had great doubts of its success; but, contrary to their expectations, the play was received with great applause; Sir Joshua and a large party of friends going for the purpose of supporting it, if necessary. The dinner party which took place at The Shakspeare is handsomely described by Cumberland. Dr. Johnson took the head of the table, and there were present the Burkes, Caleb Whiteford, Major Mills,” &c.
“ There is a remarkably fine allegorical picture painted by Sir Joshua, representing the portrait of Dr. James Beattie. The doctor is in his university dress as doctor of laws, with his volume on the Immutability of Truth under his arm. The angel of truth is going before him, and beating down the vices, envy, falsehood, &c. which are represented by a group of figures falling at his approach, and the principal head in this group is made an exact likeness of Voltaire. When Dr. Goldsmith called on Sir Joshua and saw this picture, he was very indignant at it, and remonstrated with him, saying, 'It very ill becomes a man of your eminence and character, Sir Joshua, to condescend to be a mean flatterer, or to wish to degrade so high a genius as Voltaire before so mean a writer as Dr. Beattie: for Dr. Beattic and his book together, will, in the space of ten years, not be known ever to have been in existence, but your allegorical picture, and the fame of Voltaire, will live forever to your disgrace as a flatterer.""
“Soon after Goldsmith's death, some people dining with Sir Joshua were commenting rather freely on some part of his works, which in their opinion neither discovered talent nor originality. To this Dr. Johnson listened in his usual growling manner for some time; when at length his patience being exhausted, he rose with great dignity, looked them full in the face, and exclaimed, “If nobody was suffered to abuse poor Goldy, but those who could write as well, he would have few censors.
"I once humbly endeavoured to persuade Sir Joshua to abandon those fleeting colours, lake and carmine, which it was his practice to use in painting his flesh, and to adopt vermilion in their stead, as infinitely more durable, although not so exactly true to nature as the former. I remember he looked on his hand and said 'I can see no vermilion in flesh.' I replied, but did not Sir Godfrey Kneller always use vermilion in his flesh colour?' when Sir Joshua answered rather sharply, What signifies what a man used who could not colour. But you may use it if you will.?”
“ One day at dinner with Sir Joshua and his sister, Miss Rey. Vol. III. New Series.