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Charles Dickens > Pictures From Italy > Chapter 10

Pictures From Italy

Chapter 10


We entered the Eternal City, at about four o'clock in the
afternoon, on the thirtieth of January, by the Porta del Popolo,
and came immediately--it was a dark, muddy day, and there had been
heavy rain--on the skirts of the Carnival. We did not, then, know
that we were only looking at the fag end of the masks, who were
driving slowly round and round the Piazza until they could find a
promising opportunity for falling into the stream of carriages, and
getting, in good time, into the thick of the festivity; and coming
among them so abruptly, all travel-stained and weary, was not
coming very well prepared to enjoy the scene.

We had crossed the Tiber by the Ponte Molle two or three miles
before. It had looked as yellow as it ought to look, and hurrying
on between its worn-away and miry banks, had a promising aspect of
desolation and ruin. The masquerade dresses on the fringe of the
Carnival, did great violence to this promise. There were no great
ruins, no solemn tokens of antiquity, to be seen;--they all lie on
the other side of the city. There seemed to be long streets of
commonplace shops and houses, such as are to be found in any
European town; there were busy people, equipages, ordinary walkers
to and fro; a multitude of chattering strangers. It was no more MY
Rome: the Rome of anybody's fancy, man or boy; degraded and fallen
and lying asleep in the sun among a heap of ruins: than the Place
de la Concorde in Paris is. A cloudy sky, a dull cold rain, and
muddy streets, I was prepared for, but not for this: and I confess
to having gone to bed, that night, in a very indifferent humour,
and with a very considerably quenched enthusiasm.

Immediately on going out next day, we hurried off to St. Peter's.
It looked immense in the distance, but distinctly and decidedly
small, by comparison, on a near approach. The beauty of the
Piazza, on which it stands, with its clusters of exquisite columns,
and its gushing fountains--so fresh, so broad, and free, and
beautiful--nothing can exaggerate. The first burst of the
interior, in all its expansive majesty and glory: and, most of
all, the looking up into the Dome: is a sensation never to be
forgotten. But, there were preparations for a Festa; the pillars
of stately marble were swathed in some impertinent frippery of red
and yellow; the altar, and entrance to the subterranean chapel:
which is before it: in the centre of the church: were like a
goldsmith's shop, or one of the opening scenes in a very lavish
pantomime. And though I had as high a sense of the beauty of the
building (I hope) as it is possible to entertain, I felt no very
strong emotion. I have been infinitely more affected in many
English cathedrals when the organ has been playing, and in many
English country churches when the congregation have been singing.
I had a much greater sense of mystery and wonder, in the Cathedral
of San Mark at Venice.

When we came out of the church again (we stood nearly an hour
staring up into the dome: and would not have 'gone over' the
Cathedral then, for any money), we said to the coachman, 'Go to the
Coliseum.' In a quarter of an hour or so, he stopped at the gate,
and we went in.

It is no fiction, but plain, sober, honest Truth, to say: so
suggestive and distinct is it at this hour: that, for a moment--
actually in passing in--they who will, may have the whole great
pile before them, as it used to be, with thousands of eager faces
staring down into the arena, and such a whirl of strife, and blood,
and dust going on there, as no language can describe. Its
solitude, its awful beauty, and its utter desolation, strike upon
the stranger the next moment, like a softened sorrow; and never in
his life, perhaps, will he be so moved and overcome by any sight,
not immediately connected with his own affections and afflictions.

To see it crumbling there, an inch a year; its walls and arches
overgrown with green; its corridors open to the day; the long grass
growing in its porches; young trees of yesterday, springing up on
its ragged parapets, and bearing fruit: chance produce of the
seeds dropped there by the birds who build their nests within its
chinks and crannies; to see its Pit of Fight filled up with earth,
and the peaceful Cross planted in the centre; to climb into its
upper halls, and look down on ruin, ruin, ruin, all about it; the
triumphal arches of Constantine, Septimus Severus, and Titus; the
Roman Forum; the Palace of the Caesars; the temples of the old
religion, fallen down and gone; is to see the ghost of old Rome,
wicked, wonderful old city, haunting the very ground on which its
people trod. It is the most impressive, the most stately, the most
solemn, grand, majestic, mournful sight, conceivable. Never, in
its bloodiest prime, can the sight of the gigantic Coliseum, full
and running over with the lustiest life, have moved one's heart, as
it must move all who look upon it now, a ruin. GOD be thanked: a

As it tops the other ruins: standing there, a mountain among
graves: so do its ancient influences outlive all other remnants of
the old mythology and old butchery of Rome, in the nature of the
fierce and cruel Roman people. The Italian face changes as the
visitor approaches the city; its beauty becomes devilish; and there
is scarcely one countenance in a hundred, among the common people
in the streets, that would not be at home and happy in a renovated
Coliseum to-morrow.

Here was Rome indeed at last; and such a Rome as no one can imagine
in its full and awful grandeur! We wandered out upon the Appian
Way, and then went on, through miles of ruined tombs and broken
walls, with here and there a desolate and uninhabited house: past
the Circus of Romulus, where the course of the chariots, the
stations of the judges, competitors, and spectators, are yet as
plainly to be seen as in old time: past the tomb of Cecilia
Metella: past all inclosure, hedge, or stake, wall or fence: away
upon the open Campagna, where on that side of Rome, nothing is to
be beheld but Ruin. Except where the distant Apennines bound the
view upon the left, the whole wide prospect is one field of ruin.
Broken aqueducts, left in the most picturesque and beautiful
clusters of arches; broken temples; broken tombs. A desert of
decay, sombre and desolate beyond all expression; and with a
history in every stone that strews the ground.

On Sunday, the Pope assisted in the performance of High Mass at St.
Peter's. The effect of the Cathedral on my mind, on that second
visit, was exactly what it was at first, and what it remains after
many visits. It is not religiously impressive or affecting. It is
an immense edifice, with no one point for the mind to rest upon;
and it tires itself with wandering round and round. The very
purpose of the place, is not expressed in anything you see there,
unless you examine its details--and all examination of details is
incompatible with the place itself. It might be a Pantheon, or a
Senate House, or a great architectural trophy, having no other
object than an architectural triumph. There is a black statue of
St. Peter, to be sure, under a red canopy; which is larger than
life and which is constantly having its great toe kissed by good
Catholics. You cannot help seeing that: it is so very prominent
and popular. But it does not heighten the effect of the temple, as
a work of art; and it is not expressive--to me at least--of its
high purpose.

A large space behind the altar, was fitted up with boxes, shaped
like those at the Italian Opera in England, but in their decoration
much more gaudy. In the centre of the kind of theatre thus railed
off, was a canopied dais with the Pope's chair upon it. The
pavement was covered with a carpet of the brightest green; and what
with this green, and the intolerable reds and crimsons, and gold
borders of the hangings, the whole concern looked like a stupendous
Bonbon. On either side of the altar, was a large box for lady
strangers. These were filled with ladies in black dresses and
black veils. The gentlemen of the Pope's guard, in red coats,
leather breeches, and jack-boots, guarded all this reserved space,
with drawn swords that were very flashy in every sense; and from
the altar all down the nave, a broad lane was kept clear by the
Pope's Swiss guard, who wear a quaint striped surcoat, and striped
tight legs, and carry halberds like those which are usually
shouldered by those theatrical supernumeraries, who never CAN get
off the stage fast enough, and who may be generally observed to
linger in the enemy's camp after the open country, held by the
opposite forces, has been split up the middle by a convulsion of

I got upon the border of the green carpet, in company with a great
many other gentlemen, attired in black (no other passport is
necessary), and stood there at my ease, during the performance of
Mass. The singers were in a crib of wirework (like a large meat-
safe or bird-cage) in one corner; and sang most atrociously. All
about the green carpet, there was a slowly moving crowd of people:
talking to each other: staring at the Pope through eye-glasses;
defrauding one another, in moments of partial curiosity, out of
precarious seats on the bases of pillars: and grinning hideously
at the ladies. Dotted here and there, were little knots of friars
(Frances-cani, or Cappuccini, in their coarse brown dresses and
peaked hoods) making a strange contrast to the gaudy ecclesiastics
of higher degree, and having their humility gratified to the
utmost, by being shouldered about, and elbowed right and left, on
all sides. Some of these had muddy sandals and umbrellas, and
stained garments: having trudged in from the country. The faces
of the greater part were as coarse and heavy as their dress; their
dogged, stupid, monotonous stare at all the glory and splendour,
having something in it, half miserable, and half ridiculous.

Upon the green carpet itself, and gathered round the altar, was a
perfect army of cardinals and priests, in red, gold, purple,
violet, white, and fine linen. Stragglers from these, went to and
fro among the crowd, conversing two and two, or giving and
receiving introductions, and exchanging salutations; other
functionaries in black gowns, and other functionaries in court-
dresses, were similarly engaged. In the midst of all these, and
stealthy Jesuits creeping in and out, and the extreme restlessness
of the Youth of England, who were perpetually wandering about, some
few steady persons in black cassocks, who had knelt down with their
faces to the wall, and were poring over their missals, became,
unintentionally, a sort of humane man-traps, and with their own
devout legs, tripped up other people's by the dozen.

There was a great pile of candles lying down on the floor near me,
which a very old man in a rusty black gown with an open-work
tippet, like a summer ornament for a fireplace in tissue-paper,
made himself very busy in dispensing to all the ecclesiastics: one
a-piece. They loitered about with these for some time, under their
arms like walking-sticks, or in their hands like truncheons. At a
certain period of the ceremony, however, each carried his candle up
to the Pope, laid it across his two knees to be blessed, took it
back again, and filed off. This was done in a very attenuated
procession, as you may suppose, and occupied a long time. Not
because it takes long to bless a candle through and through, but
because there were so many candles to be blessed. At last they
were all blessed: and then they were all lighted; and then the
Pope was taken up, chair and all, and carried round the church.

I must say, that I never saw anything, out of November, so like the
popular English commemoration of the fifth of that month. A bundle
of matches and a lantern, would have made it perfect. Nor did the
Pope, himself, at all mar the resemblance, though he has a pleasant
and venerable face; for, as this part of the ceremony makes him
giddy and sick, he shuts his eyes when it is performed: and having
his eyes shut and a great mitre on his head, and his head itself
wagging to and fro as they shook him in carrying, he looked as if
his mask were going to tumble off. The two immense fans which are
always borne, one on either side of him, accompanied him, of
course, on this occasion. As they carried him along, he blessed
the people with the mystic sign; and as he passed them, they
kneeled down. When he had made the round of the church, he was
brought back again, and if I am not mistaken, this performance was
repeated, in the whole, three times. There was, certainly nothing
solemn or effective in it; and certainly very much that was droll
and tawdry. But this remark applies to the whole ceremony, except
the raising of the Host, when every man in the guard dropped on one
knee instantly, and dashed his naked sword on the ground; which had
a fine effect.

The next time I saw the cathedral, was some two or three weeks
afterwards, when I climbed up into the ball; and then, the hangings
being taken down, and the carpet taken up, but all the framework
left, the remnants of these decorations looked like an exploded

The Friday and Saturday having been solemn Festa days, and Sunday
being always a dies non in carnival proceedings, we had looked
forward, with some impatience and curiosity, to the beginning of
the new week: Monday and Tuesday being the two last and best days
of the Carnival.

On the Monday afternoon at one or two o'clock, there began to be a
great rattling of carriages into the court-yard of the hotel; a
hurrying to and fro of all the servants in it; and, now and then, a
swift shooting across some doorway or balcony, of a straggling
stranger in a fancy dress: not yet sufficiently well used to the
same, to wear it with confidence, and defy public opinion. All the
carriages were open, and had the linings carefully covered with
white cotton or calico, to prevent their proper decorations from
being spoiled by the incessant pelting of sugar-plums; and people
were packing and cramming into every vehicle as it waited for its
occupants, enormous sacks and baskets full of these confetti,
together with such heaps of flowers, tied up in little nosegays,
that some carriages were not only brimful of flowers, but literally
running over: scattering, at every shake and jerk of the springs,
some of their abundance on the ground. Not to be behindhand in
these essential particulars, we caused two very respectable sacks
of sugar-plums (each about three feet high) and a large clothes-
basket full of flowers to be conveyed into our hired barouche, with
all speed. And from our place of observation, in one of the upper
balconies of the hotel, we contemplated these arrangements with the
liveliest satisfaction. The carriages now beginning to take up
their company, and move away, we got into ours, and drove off too,
armed with little wire masks for our faces; the sugar-plums, like
Falstaff's adulterated sack, having lime in their composition.

The Corso is a street a mile long; a street of shops, and palaces,
and private houses, sometimes opening into a broad piazza. There
are verandahs and balconies, of all shapes and sizes, to almost
every house--not on one story alone, but often to one room or
another on every story--put there in general with so little order
or regularity, that if, year after year, and season after season,
it had rained balconies, hailed balconies, snowed balconies, blown
balconies, they could scarcely have come into existence in a more
disorderly manner.

This is the great fountain-head and focus of the Carnival. But all
the streets in which the Carnival is held, being vigilantly kept by
dragoons, it is necessary for carriages, in the first instance, to
pass, in line, down another thoroughfare, and so come into the
Corso at the end remote from the Piazza del Popolo; which is one of
its terminations. Accordingly, we fell into the string of coaches,
and, for some time, jogged on quietly enough; now crawling on at a
very slow walk; now trotting half-a-dozen yards; now backing fifty;
and now stopping altogether: as the pressure in front obliged us.
If any impetuous carriage dashed out of the rank and clattered
forward, with the wild idea of getting on faster, it was suddenly
met, or overtaken, by a trooper on horseback, who, deaf as his own
drawn sword to all remonstrances, immediately escorted it back to
the very end of the row, and made it a dim speck in the remotest
perspective. Occasionally, we interchanged a volley of confetti
with the carriage next in front, or the carriage next behind; but
as yet, this capturing of stray and errant coaches by the military,
was the chief amusement.

Presently, we came into a narrow street, where, besides one line of
carriages going, there was another line of carriages returning.
Here the sugar-plums and the nosegays began to fly about, pretty
smartly; and I was fortunate enough to observe one gentleman
attired as a Greek warrior, catch a light-whiskered brigand on the
nose (he was in the very act of tossing up a bouquet to a young
lady in a first-floor window) with a precision that was much
applauded by the bystanders. As this victorious Greek was
exchanging a facetious remark with a stout gentleman in a doorway--
one-half black and one-half white, as if he had been peeled up the
middle--who had offered him his congratulations on this
achievement, he received an orange from a housetop, full on his
left ear, and was much surprised, not to say discomfited.
Especially, as he was standing up at the time; and in consequence
of the carriage moving on suddenly, at the same moment, staggered
ignominiously, and buried himself among his flowers.

Some quarter of an hour of this sort of progress, brought us to the
Corso; and anything so gay, so bright, and lively as the whole
scene there, it would be difficult to imagine. From all the
innumerable balconies: from the remotest and highest, no less than
from the lowest and nearest: hangings of bright red, bright green,
bright blue, white and gold, were fluttering in the brilliant
sunlight. From windows, and from parapets, and tops of houses,
streamers of the richest colours, and draperies of the gaudiest and
most sparkling hues, were floating out upon the street. The
buildings seemed to have been literally turned inside out, and to
have all their gaiety towards the highway. Shop-fronts were taken
down, and the windows filled with company, like boxes at a shining
theatre; doors were carried off their hinges, and long tapestried
groves, hung with garlands of flowers and evergreens, displayed
within; builders' scaffoldings were gorgeous temples, radiant in
silver, gold, and crimson; and in every nook and corner, from the
pavement to the chimney-tops, where women's eyes could glisten,
there they danced, and laughed, and sparkled, like the light in
water. Every sort of bewitching madness of dress was there.
Little preposterous scarlet jackets; quaint old stomachers, more
wicked than the smartest bodices; Polish pelisses, strained and
tight as ripe gooseberries; tiny Greek caps, all awry, and clinging
to the dark hair, Heaven knows how; every wild, quaint, bold, shy,
pettish, madcap fancy had its illustration in a dress; and every
fancy was as dead forgotten by its owner, in the tumult of
merriment, as if the three old aqueducts that still remain entire
had brought Lethe into Rome, upon their sturdy arches, that

The carriages were now three abreast; in broader places four; often
stationary for a long time together, always one close mass of
variegated brightness; showing, the whole street-full, through the
storm of flowers, like flowers of a larger growth themselves. In
some, the horses were richly caparisoned in magnificent trappings;
in others they were decked from head to tail, with flowing ribbons.
Some were driven by coachmen with enormous double faces: one face
leering at the horses: the other cocking its extraordinary eyes
into the carriage: and both rattling again, under the hail of
sugar-plums. Other drivers were attired as women, wearing long
ringlets and no bonnets, and looking more ridiculous in any real
difficulty with the horses (of which, in such a concourse, there
were a great many) than tongue can tell, or pen describe. Instead
of sitting IN the carriages, upon the seats, the handsome Roman
women, to see and to be seen the better, sit in the heads of the
barouches, at this time of general licence, with their feet upon
the cushions--and oh, the flowing skirts and dainty waists, the
blessed shapes and laughing faces, the free, good-humoured, gallant
figures that they make! There were great vans, too, full of
handsome girls--thirty, or more together, perhaps--and the
broadsides that were poured into, and poured out of, these fairy
fire-shops, splashed the air with flowers and bon-bons for ten
minutes at a time. Carriages, delayed long in one place, would
begin a deliberate engagement with other carriages, or with people
at the lower windows; and the spectators at some upper balcony or
window, joining in the fray, and attacking both parties, would
empty down great bags of confetti, that descended like a cloud, and
in an instant made them white as millers. Still, carriages on
carriages, dresses on dresses, colours on colours, crowds upon
crowds, without end. Men and boys clinging to the wheels of
coaches, and holding on behind, and following in their wake, and
diving in among the horses' feet to pick up scattered flowers to
sell again; maskers on foot (the drollest generally) in fantastic
exaggerations of court-dresses, surveying the throng through
enormous eye-glasses, and always transported with an ecstasy of
love, on the discovery of any particularly old lady at a window;
long strings of Policinelli, laying about them with blown bladders
at the ends of sticks; a waggon-full of madmen, screaming and
tearing to the life; a coach-full of grave mamelukes, with their
horse-tail standard set up in the midst; a party of gipsy-women
engaged in terrific conflict with a shipful of sailors; a man-
monkey on a pole, surrounded by strange animals with pigs' faces,
and lions' tails, carried under their arms, or worn gracefully over
their shoulders; carriages on carriages, dresses on dresses,
colours on colours, crowds upon crowds, without end. Not many
actual characters sustained, or represented, perhaps, considering
the number dressed, but the main pleasure of the scene consisting
in its perfect good temper; in its bright, and infinite, and
flashing variety; and in its entire abandonment to the mad humour
of the time--an abandonment so perfect, so contagious, so
irresistible, that the steadiest foreigner fights up to his middle
in flowers and sugar-plums, like the wildest Roman of them all, and
thinks of nothing else till half-past four o'clock, when he is
suddenly reminded (to his great regret) that this is not the whole
business of his existence, by hearing the trumpets sound, and
seeing the dragoons begin to clear the street.

How it ever IS cleared for the race that takes place at five, or
how the horses ever go through the race, without going over the
people, is more than I can say. But the carriages get out into the
by-streets, or up into the Piazza del Popolo, and some people sit
in temporary galleries in the latter place, and tens of thousands
line the Corso on both sides, when the horses are brought out into
the Piazza--to the foot of that same column which, for centuries,
looked down upon the games and chariot-races in the Circus Maximus.

At a given signal they are started off. Down the live lane, the
whole length of the Corso, they fly like the wind: riderless, as
all the world knows: with shining ornaments upon their backs, and
twisted in their plaited manes: and with heavy little balls stuck
full of spikes, dangling at their sides, to goad them on. The
jingling of these trappings, and the rattling of their hoofs upon
the hard stones; the dash and fury of their speed along the echoing
street; nay, the very cannon that are fired--these noises are
nothing to the roaring of the multitude: their shouts: the
clapping of their hands. But it is soon over--almost
instantaneously. More cannon shake the town. The horses have
plunged into the carpets put across the street to stop them; the
goal is reached; the prizes are won (they are given, in part, by
the poor Jews, as a compromise for not running foot-races
themselves); and there is an end to that day's sport.

But if the scene be bright, and gay, and crowded, on the last day
but one, it attains, on the concluding day, to such a height of
glittering colour, swarming life, and frolicsome uproar, that the
bare recollection of it makes me giddy at this moment. The same
diversions, greatly heightened and intensified in the ardour with
which they are pursued, go on until the same hour. The race is
repeated; the cannon are fired; the shouting and clapping of hands
are renewed; the cannon are fired again; the race is over; and the
prizes are won. But the carriages: ankle-deep with sugar-plums
within, and so be-flowered and dusty without, as to be hardly
recognisable for the same vehicles that they were, three hours ago:
instead of scampering off in all directions, throng into the Corso,
where they are soon wedged together in a scarcely moving mass. For
the diversion of the Moccoletti, the last gay madness of the
Carnival, is now at hand; and sellers of little tapers like what
are called Christmas candles in England, are shouting lustily on
every side, 'Moccoli, Moccoli! Ecco Moccoli!'--a new item in the
tumult; quite abolishing that other item of ' Ecco Fiori! Ecco
Fior-r-r!' which has been making itself audible over all the rest,
at intervals, the whole day through.

As the bright hangings and dresses are all fading into one dull,
heavy, uniform colour in the decline of the day, lights begin
flashing, here and there: in the windows, on the housetops, in the
balconies, in the carriages, in the hands of the foot-passengers:
little by little: gradually, gradually: more and more: until the
whole long street is one great glare and blaze of fire. Then,
everybody present has but one engrossing object; that is, to
extinguish other people's candles, and to keep his own alight; and
everybody: man, woman, or child, gentleman or lady, prince or
peasant, native or foreigner: yells and screams, and roars
incessantly, as a taunt to the subdued, 'Senza Moccolo, Senza
Moccolo!' (Without a light! Without a light!) until nothing is
heard but a gigantic chorus of those two words, mingled with peals
of laughter.

The spectacle, at this time, is one of the most extraordinary that
can be imagined. Carriages coming slowly by, with everybody
standing on the seats or on the box, holding up their lights at
arms' length, for greater safety; some in paper shades; some with a
bunch of undefended little tapers, kindled altogether; some with
blazing torches; some with feeble little candles; men on foot,
creeping along, among the wheels, watching their opportunity, to
make a spring at some particular light, and dash it out; other
people climbing up into carriages, to get hold of them by main
force; others, chasing some unlucky wanderer, round and round his
own coach, to blow out the light he has begged or stolen somewhere,
before he can ascend to his own company, and enable them to light
their extinguished tapers; others, with their hats off, at a
carriage-door, humbly beseeching some kind-hearted lady to oblige
them with a light for a cigar, and when she is in the fulness of
doubt whether to comply or no, blowing out the candle she is
guarding so tenderly with her little hand; other people at the
windows, fishing for candles with lines and hooks, or letting down
long willow-wands with handkerchiefs at the end, and flapping them
out, dexterously, when the bearer is at the height of his triumph,
others, biding their time in corners, with immense extinguishers
like halberds, and suddenly coming down upon glorious torches;
others, gathered round one coach, and sticking to it; others,
raining oranges and nosegays at an obdurate little lantern, or
regularly storming a pyramid of men, holding up one man among them,
who carries one feeble little wick above his head, with which he
defies them all! Senza Moccolo! Senza Moccolo! Beautiful women,
standing up in coaches, pointing in derision at extinguished
lights, and clapping their hands, as they pass on, crying, 'Senza
Moccolo! Senza Moccolo!'; low balconies full of lovely faces and
gay dresses, struggling with assailants in the streets; some
repressing them as they climb up, some bending down, some leaning
over, some shrinking back--delicate arms and bosoms--graceful
figures--glowing lights, fluttering dresses, Senza Moccolo, Senza
Moccoli, Senza Moc-co-lo-o-o-o!--when in the wildest enthusiasm of
the cry, and fullest ecstasy of the sport, the Ave Maria rings from
the church steeples, and the Carnival is over in an instant--put
out like a taper, with a breath!

There was a masquerade at the theatre at night, as dull and
senseless as a London one, and only remarkable for the summary way
in which the house was cleared at eleven o'clock: which was done
by a line of soldiers forming along the wall, at the back of the
stage, and sweeping the whole company out before them, like a broad
broom. The game of the Moccoletti (the word, in the singular,
Moccoletto, is the diminutive of Moccolo, and means a little lamp
or candlesnuff) is supposed by some to be a ceremony of burlesque
mourning for the death of the Carnival: candles being
indispensable to Catholic grief. But whether it be so, or be a
remnant of the ancient Saturnalia, or an incorporation of both, or
have its origin in anything else, I shall always remember it, and
the frolic, as a brilliant and most captivating sight: no less
remarkable for the unbroken good-humour of all concerned, down to
the very lowest (and among those who scaled the carriages, were
many of the commonest men and boys), than for its innocent
vivacity. For, odd as it may seem to say so, of a sport so full of
thoughtlessness and personal display, it is as free from any taint
of immodesty as any general mingling of the two sexes can possibly
be; and there seems to prevail, during its progress, a feeling of
general, almost childish, simplicity and confidence, which one
thinks of with a pang, when the Ave Maria has rung it away, for a
whole year.

Availing ourselves of a part of the quiet interval between the
termination of the Carnival and the beginning of the Holy Week:
when everybody had run away from the one, and few people had yet
begun to run back again for the other: we went conscientiously to
work, to see Rome. And, by dint of going out early every morning,
and coming back late every evening, and labouring hard all day, I
believe we made acquaintance with every post and pillar in the
city, and the country round; and, in particular, explored so many
churches, that I abandoned that part of the enterprise at last,
before it was half finished, lest I should never, of my own accord,
go to church again, as long as I lived. But, I managed, almost
every day, at one time or other, to get back to the Coliseum, and
out upon the open Campagna, beyond the Tomb of Cecilia Metella.

We often encountered, in these expeditions, a company of English
Tourists, with whom I had an ardent, but ungratified longing, to
establish a speaking acquaintance. They were one Mr. Davis, and a
small circle of friends. It was impossible not to know Mrs.
Davis's name, from her being always in great request among her
party, and her party being everywhere. During the Holy Week, they
were in every part of every scene of every ceremony. For a
fortnight or three weeks before it, they were in every tomb, and
every church, and every ruin, and every Picture Gallery; and I
hardly ever observed Mrs. Davis to be silent for a moment. Deep
underground, high up in St. Peter's, out on the Campagna, and
stifling in the Jews' quarter, Mrs. Davis turned up, all the same.
I don't think she ever saw anything, or ever looked at anything;
and she had always lost something out of a straw hand-basket, and
was trying to find it, with all her might and main, among an
immense quantity of English halfpence, which lay, like sands upon
the sea-shore, at the bottom of it. There was a professional
Cicerone always attached to the party (which had been brought over
from London, fifteen or twenty strong, by contract), and if he so
much as looked at Mrs. Davis, she invariably cut him short by
saying, 'There, God bless the man, don't worrit me! I don't
understand a word you say, and shouldn't if you was to talk till
you was black in the face!' Mr. Davis always had a snuff-coloured
great-coat on, and carried a great green umbrella in his hand, and
had a slow curiosity constantly devouring him, which prompted him
to do extraordinary things, such as taking the covers off urns in
tombs, and looking in at the ashes as if they were pickles--and
tracing out inscriptions with the ferrule of his umbrella, and
saying, with intense thoughtfulness, 'Here's a B you see, and
there's a R, and this is the way we goes on in; is it!' His
antiquarian habits occasioned his being frequently in the rear of
the rest; and one of the agonies of Mrs. Davis, and the party in
general, was an ever-present fear that Davis would be lost. This
caused them to scream for him, in the strangest places, and at the
most improper seasons. And when he came, slowly emerging out of
some sepulchre or other, like a peaceful Ghoule, saying 'Here I
am!' Mrs. Davis invariably replied, 'You'll be buried alive in a
foreign country, Davis, and it's no use trying to prevent you!'

Mr. and Mrs. Davis, and their party, had, probably, been brought
from London in about nine or ten days. Eighteen hundred years ago,
the Roman legions under Claudius, protested against being led into
Mr. and Mrs. Davis's country, urging that it lay beyond the limits
of the world.

Among what may be called the Cubs or minor Lions of Rome, there was
one that amused me mightily. It is always to be found there; and
its den is on the great flight of steps that lead from the Piazza
di Spagna, to the church of Trinita del Monte. In plainer words,
these steps are the great place of resort for the artists'
'Models,' and there they are constantly waiting to be hired. The
first time I went up there, I could not conceive why the faces
seemed familiar to me; why they appeared to have beset me, for
years, in every possible variety of action and costume; and how it
came to pass that they started up before me, in Rome, in the broad
day, like so many saddled and bridled nightmares. I soon found
that we had made acquaintance, and improved it, for several years,
on the walls of various Exhibition Galleries. There is one old
gentleman, with long white hair and an immense beard, who, to my
knowledge, has gone half through the catalogue of the Royal
Academy. This is the venerable, or patriarchal model. He carries
a long staff; and every knot and twist in that staff I have seen,
faithfully delineated, innumerable times. There is another man in
a blue cloak, who always pretends to be asleep in the sun (when
there is any), and who, I need not say, is always very wide awake,
and very attentive to the disposition of his legs. This is the
dolce far' niente model. There is another man in a brown cloak,
who leans against a wall, with his arms folded in his mantle, and
looks out of the corners of his eyes: which are just visible
beneath his broad slouched hat. This is the assassin model. There
is another man, who constantly looks over his own shoulder, and is
always going away, but never does. This is the haughty, or
scornful model. As to Domestic Happiness, and Holy Families, they
should come very cheap, for there are lumps of them, all up the
steps; and the cream of the thing is, that they are all the falsest
vagabonds in the world, especially made up for the purpose, and
having no counterparts in Rome or any other part of the habitable

My recent mention of the Carnival, reminds me of its being said to
be a mock mourning (in the ceremony with which it closes), for the
gaieties and merry-makings before Lent; and this again reminds me
of the real funerals and mourning processions of Rome, which, like
those in most other parts of Italy, are rendered chiefly remarkable
to a Foreigner, by the indifference with which the mere clay is
universally regarded, after life has left it. And this is not from
the survivors having had time to dissociate the memory of the dead
from their well-remembered appearance and form on earth; for the
interment follows too speedily after death, for that: almost
always taking place within four-and-twenty hours, and, sometimes,
within twelve.

At Rome, there is the same arrangement of Pits in a great, bleak,
open, dreary space, that I have already described as existing in
Genoa. When I visited it, at noonday, I saw a solitary coffin of
plain deal: uncovered by any shroud or pall, and so slightly made,
that the hoof of any wandering mule would have crushed it in:
carelessly tumbled down, all on one side, on the door of one of the
pits--and there left, by itself, in the wind and sunshine. 'How
does it come to be left here?' I asked the man who showed me the
place. 'It was brought here half an hour ago, Signore,' he said.
I remembered to have met the procession, on its return: straggling
away at a good round pace. 'When will it be put in the pit?' I
asked him. 'When the cart comes, and it is opened to-night,' he
said. 'How much does it cost to be brought here in this way,
instead of coming in the cart?' I asked him. 'Ten scudi,' he said
(about two pounds, two-and-sixpence, English). 'The other bodies,
for whom nothing is paid, are taken to the church of the Santa
Maria della Consolazione,' he continued, 'and brought here
altogether, in the cart at night.' I stood, a moment, looking at
the coffin, which had two initial letters scrawled upon the top;
and turned away, with an expression in my face, I suppose, of not
much liking its exposure in that manner: for he said, shrugging
his shoulders with great vivacity, and giving a pleasant smile,
'But he's dead, Signore, he's dead. Why not?'

Among the innumerable churches, there is one I must select for
separate mention. It is the church of the Ara Coeli, supposed to
be built on the site of the old Temple of Jupiter Feretrius; and
approached, on one side, by a long steep flight of steps, which
seem incomplete without some group of bearded soothsayers on the
top. It is remarkable for the possession of a miraculous Bambino,
or wooden doll, representing the Infant Saviour; and I first saw
this miraculous Bambino, in legal phrase, in manner following, that
is to say:

We had strolled into the church one afternoon, and were looking
down its long vista of gloomy pillars (for all these ancient
churches built upon the ruins of old temples, are dark and sad),
when the Brave came running in, with a grin upon his face that
stretched it from ear to ear, and implored us to follow him,
without a moment's delay, as they were going to show the Bambino to
a select party. We accordingly hurried off to a sort of chapel, or
sacristy, hard by the chief altar, but not in the church itself,
where the select party, consisting of two or three Catholic
gentlemen and ladies (not Italians), were already assembled: and
where one hollow-cheeked young monk was lighting up divers candles,
while another was putting on some clerical robes over his coarse
brown habit. The candles were on a kind of altar, and above it
were two delectable figures, such as you would see at any English
fair, representing the Holy Virgin, and Saint Joseph, as I suppose,
bending in devotion over a wooden box, or coffer; which was shut.

The hollow-cheeked monk, number One, having finished lighting the
candles, went down on his knees, in a corner, before this set-
piece; and the monk number Two, having put on a pair of highly
ornamented and gold-bespattered gloves, lifted down the coffer,
with great reverence, and set it on the altar. Then, with many
genuflexions, and muttering certain prayers, he opened it, and let
down the front, and took off sundry coverings of satin and lace
from the inside. The ladies had been on their knees from the
commencement; and the gentlemen now dropped down devoutly, as he
exposed to view a little wooden doll, in face very like General Tom
Thumb, the American Dwarf: gorgeously dressed in satin and gold
lace, and actually blazing with rich jewels. There was scarcely a
spot upon its little breast, or neck, or stomach, but was sparkling
with the costly offerings of the Faithful. Presently, he lifted it
out of the box, and carrying it round among the kneelers, set its
face against the forehead of every one, and tendered its clumsy
foot to them to kiss--a ceremony which they all performed down to a
dirty little ragamuffin of a boy who had walked in from the street.
When this was done, he laid it in the box again: and the company,
rising, drew near, and commended the jewels in whispers. In good
time, he replaced the coverings, shut up the box, put it back in
its place, locked up the whole concern (Holy Family and all) behind
a pair of folding-doors; took off his priestly vestments; and
received the customary 'small charge,' while his companion, by
means of an extinguisher fastened to the end of a long stick, put
out the lights, one after another. The candles being all
extinguished, and the money all collected, they retired, and so did
the spectators.

I met this same Bambino, in the street a short time afterwards,
going, in great state, to the house of some sick person. It is
taken to all parts of Rome for this purpose, constantly; but, I
understand that it is not always as successful as could be wished;
for, making its appearance at the bedside of weak and nervous
people in extremity, accompanied by a numerous escort, it not
unfrequently frightens them to death. It is most popular in cases
of child-birth, where it has done such wonders, that if a lady be
longer than usual in getting through her difficulties, a messenger
is despatched, with all speed, to solicit the immediate attendance
of the Bambino. It is a very valuable property, and much confided
in--especially by the religious body to whom it belongs.

I am happy to know that it is not considered immaculate, by some
who are good Catholics, and who are behind the scenes, from what
was told me by the near relation of a Priest, himself a Catholic,
and a gentleman of learning and intelligence. This Priest made my
informant promise that he would, on no account, allow the Bambino
to be borne into the bedroom of a sick lady, in whom they were both
interested. 'For,' said he, 'if they (the monks) trouble her with
it, and intrude themselves into her room, it will certainly kill
her.' My informant accordingly looked out of the window when it
came; and, with many thanks, declined to open the door. He
endeavoured, in another case of which he had no other knowledge
than such as he gained as a passer-by at the moment, to prevent its
being carried into a small unwholesome chamber, where a poor girl
was dying. But, he strove against it unsuccessfully, and she
expired while the crowd were pressing round her bed.

Among the people who drop into St. Peter's at their leisure, to
kneel on the pavement, and say a quiet prayer, there are certain
schools and seminaries, priestly and otherwise, that come in,
twenty or thirty strong. These boys always kneel down in single
file, one behind the other, with a tall grim master in a black
gown, bringing up the rear: like a pack of cards arranged to be
tumbled down at a touch, with a disproportionately large Knave of
clubs at the end. When they have had a minute or so at the chief
altar, they scramble up, and filing off to the chapel of the
Madonna, or the sacrament, flop down again in the same order; so
that if anybody did stumble against the master, a general and
sudden overthrow of the whole line must inevitably ensue.

The scene in all the churches is the strangest possible. The same
monotonous, heartless, drowsy chaunting, always going on; the same
dark building, darker from the brightness of the street without;
the same lamps dimly burning; the selfsame people kneeling here and
there; turned towards you, from one altar or other, the same
priest's back, with the same large cross embroidered on it; however
different in size, in shape, in wealth, in architecture, this
church is from that, it is the same thing still. There are the
same dirty beggars stopping in their muttered prayers to beg; the
same miserable cripples exhibiting their deformity at the doors;
the same blind men, rattling little pots like kitchen pepper-
castors: their depositories for alms; the same preposterous crowns
of silver stuck upon the painted heads of single saints and Virgins
in crowded pictures, so that a little figure on a mountain has a
head-dress bigger than the temple in the foreground, or adjacent
miles of landscape; the same favourite shrine or figure, smothered
with little silver hearts and crosses, and the like: the staple
trade and show of all the jewellers; the same odd mixture of
respect and indecorum, faith and phlegm: kneeling on the stones,
and spitting on them, loudly; getting up from prayers to beg a
little, or to pursue some other worldly matter: and then kneeling
down again, to resume the contrite supplication at the point where
it was interrupted. In one church, a kneeling lady got up from her
prayer, for a moment, to offer us her card, as a teacher of Music;
and in another, a sedate gentleman with a very thick walking-staff,
arose from his devotions to belabour his dog, who was growling at
another dog: and whose yelps and howls resounded through the
church, as his master quietly relapsed into his former train of
meditation--keeping his eye upon the dog, at the same time,

Above all, there is always a receptacle for the contributions of
the Faithful, in some form or other. Sometimes, it is a money-box,
set up between the worshipper, and the wooden life-size figure of
the Redeemer; sometimes, it is a little chest for the maintenance
of the Virgin; sometimes, an appeal on behalf of a popular Bambino;
sometimes, a bag at the end of a long stick, thrust among the
people here and there, and vigilantly jingled by an active
Sacristan; but there it always is, and, very often, in many shapes
in the same church, and doing pretty well in all. Nor, is it
wanting in the open air--the streets and roads--for, often as you
are walking along, thinking about anything rather than a tin
canister, that object pounces out upon you from a little house by
the wayside; and on its top is painted, 'For the Souls in
Purgatory;' an appeal which the bearer repeats a great many times,
as he rattles it before you, much as Punch rattles the cracked bell
which his sanguine disposition makes an organ of.

And this reminds me that some Roman altars of peculiar sanctity,
bear the inscription, 'Every Mass performed at this altar frees a
soul from Purgatory.' I have never been able to find out the
charge for one of these services, but they should needs be
expensive. There are several Crosses in Rome too, the kissing of
which, confers indulgences for varying terms. That in the centre
of the Coliseum, is worth a hundred days; and people may be seen
kissing it from morning to night. It is curious that some of these
crosses seem to acquire an arbitrary popularity: this very one
among them. In another part of the Coliseum there is a cross upon
a marble slab, with the inscription, 'Who kisses this cross shall
be entitled to Two hundred and forty days' indulgence.' But I saw
no one person kiss it, though, day after day, I sat in the arena,
and saw scores upon scores of peasants pass it, on their way to
kiss the other.

To single out details from the great dream of Roman Churches, would
be the wildest occupation in the world. But St. Stefano Rotondo, a
damp, mildewed vault of an old church in the outskirts of Rome,
will always struggle uppermost in my mind, by reason of the hideous
paintings with which its walls are covered. These represent the
martyrdoms of saints and early Christians; and such a panorama of
horror and butchery no man could imagine in his sleep, though he
were to eat a whole pig raw, for supper. Grey-bearded men being
boiled, fried, grilled, crimped, singed, eaten by wild beasts,
worried by dogs, buried alive, torn asunder by horses, chopped up
small with hatchets: women having their breasts torn with iron
pinchers, their tongues cut out, their ears screwed off, their jaws
broken, their bodies stretched upon the rack, or skinned upon the
stake, or crackled up and melted in the fire: these are among the
mildest subjects. So insisted on, and laboured at, besides, that
every sufferer gives you the same occasion for wonder as poor old
Duncan awoke, in Lady Macbeth, when she marvelled at his having so
much blood in him.

There is an upper chamber in the Mamertine prisons, over what is
said to have been--and very possibly may have been--the dungeon of
St. Peter. This chamber is now fitted up as an oratory, dedicated
to that saint; and it lives, as a distinct and separate place, in
my recollection, too. It is very small and low-roofed; and the
dread and gloom of the ponderous, obdurate old prison are on it, as
if they had come up in a dark mist through the floor. Hanging on
the walls, among the clustered votive offerings, are objects, at
once strangely in keeping, and strangely at variance, with the
place--rusty daggers, knives, pistols, clubs, divers instruments of
violence and murder, brought here, fresh from use, and hung up to
propitiate offended Heaven: as if the blood upon them would drain
off in consecrated air, and have no voice to cry with. It is all
so silent and so close, and tomb-like; and the dungeons below are
so black and stealthy, and stagnant, and naked; that this little
dark spot becomes a dream within a dream: and in the vision of
great churches which come rolling past me like a sea, it is a small
wave by itself, that melts into no other wave, and does not flow on
with the rest.

It is an awful thing to think of the enormous caverns that are
entered from some Roman churches, and undermine the city. Many
churches have crypts and subterranean chapels of great size, which,
in the ancient time, were baths, and secret chambers of temples,
and what not: but I do not speak of them. Beneath the church of
St. Giovanni and St. Paolo, there are the jaws of a terrific range
of caverns, hewn out of the rock, and said to have another outlet
underneath the Coliseum--tremendous darknesses of vast extent,
half-buried in the earth and unexplorable, where the dull torches,
flashed by the attendants, glimmer down long ranges of distant
vaults branching to the right and left, like streets in a city of
the dead; and show the cold damp stealing down the walls, drip-
drop, drip-drop, to join the pools of water that lie here and
there, and never saw, or never will see, one ray of the sun. Some
accounts make these the prisons of the wild beasts destined for the
amphitheatre; some the prisons of the condemned gladiators; some,
both. But the legend most appalling to the fancy is, that in the
upper range (for there are two stories of these caves) the Early
Christians destined to be eaten at the Coliseum Shows, heard the
wild beasts, hungry for them, roaring down below; until, upon the
night and solitude of their captivity, there burst the sudden noon
and life of the vast theatre crowded to the parapet, and of these,
their dreaded neighbours, bounding in!

Below the church of San Sebastiano, two miles beyond the gate of
San Sebastiano, on the Appian Way, is the entrance to the catacombs
of Rome--quarries in the old time, but afterwards the hiding-places
of the Christians. These ghastly passages have been explored for
twenty miles; and form a chain of labyrinths, sixty miles in

A gaunt Franciscan friar, with a wild bright eye, was our only
guide, down into this profound and dreadful place. The narrow ways
and openings hither and thither, coupled with the dead and heavy
air, soon blotted out, in all of us, any recollection of the track
by which we had come: and I could not help thinking 'Good Heaven,
if, in a sudden fit of madness, he should dash the torches out, or
if he should be seized with a fit, what would become of us!' On we
wandered, among martyrs' graves: passing great subterranean
vaulted roads, diverging in all directions, and choked up with
heaps of stones, that thieves and murderers may not take refuge
there, and form a population under Rome, even worse than that which
lives between it and the sun. Graves, graves, graves; Graves of
men, of women, of their little children, who ran crying to the
persecutors, 'We are Christians! We are Christians!' that they
might be murdered with their parents; Graves with the palm of
martyrdom roughly cut into their stone boundaries, and little
niches, made to hold a vessel of the martyrs' blood; Graves of some
who lived down here, for years together, ministering to the rest,
and preaching truth, and hope, and comfort, from the rude altars,
that bear witness to their fortitude at this hour; more roomy
graves, but far more terrible, where hundreds, being surprised,
were hemmed in and walled up: buried before Death, and killed by
slow starvation.

'The Triumphs of the Faith are not above ground in our splendid
churches,' said the friar, looking round upon us, as we stopped to
rest in one of the low passages, with bones and dust surrounding us
on every side. 'They are here! Among the Martyrs' Graves!' He
was a gentle, earnest man, and said it from his heart; but when I
thought how Christian men have dealt with one another; how,
perverting our most merciful religion, they have hunted down and
tortured, burnt and beheaded, strangled, slaughtered, and oppressed
each other; I pictured to myself an agony surpassing any that this
Dust had suffered with the breath of life yet lingering in it, and
how these great and constant hearts would have been shaken--how
they would have quailed and drooped--if a foreknowledge of the
deeds that professing Christians would commit in the Great Name for
which they died, could have rent them with its own unutterable
anguish, on the cruel wheel, and bitter cross, and in the fearful

Such are the spots and patches in my dream of churches, that remain
apart, and keep their separate identity. I have a fainter
recollection, sometimes of the relics; of the fragments of the
pillar of the Temple that was rent in twain; of the portion of the
table that was spread for the Last Supper; of the well at which the
woman of Samaria gave water to Our Saviour; of two columns from the
house of Pontius Pilate; of the stone to which the Sacred hands
were bound, when the scourging was performed; of the grid-iron of
Saint Lawrence, and the stone below it, marked with the frying of
his fat and blood; these set a shadowy mark on some cathedrals, as
an old story, or a fable might, and stop them for an instant, as
they flit before me. The rest is a vast wilderness of consecrated
buildings of all shapes and fancies, blending one with another; of
battered pillars of old Pagan temples, dug up from the ground, and
forced, like giant captives, to support the roofs of Christian
churches; of pictures, bad, and wonderful, and impious, and
ridiculous; of kneeling people, curling incense, tinkling bells,
and sometimes (but not often) of a swelling organ: of Madonne,
with their breasts stuck full of swords, arranged in a half-circle
like a modern fan; of actual skeletons of dead saints, hideously
attired in gaudy satins, silks, and velvets trimmed with gold:
their withered crust of skull adorned with precious jewels, or with
chaplets of crushed flowers; sometimes of people gathered round the
pulpit, and a monk within it stretching out the crucifix, and
preaching fiercely: the sun just streaming down through some high
window on the sail-cloth stretched above him and across the church,
to keep his high-pitched voice from being lost among the echoes of
the roof. Then my tired memory comes out upon a flight of steps,
where knots of people are asleep, or basking in the light; and
strolls away, among the rags, and smells, and palaces, and hovels,
of an old Italian street.

On one Saturday morning (the eighth of March), a man was beheaded
here. Nine or ten months before, he had waylaid a Bavarian
countess, travelling as a pilgrim to Rome--alone and on foot, of
course--and performing, it is said, that act of piety for the
fourth time. He saw her change a piece of gold at Viterbo, where
he lived; followed her; bore her company on her journey for some
forty miles or more, on the treacherous pretext of protecting her;
attacked her, in the fulfilment of his unrelenting purpose, on the
Campagna, within a very short distance of Rome, near to what is
called (but what is not) the Tomb of Nero; robbed her; and beat her
to death with her own pilgrim's staff. He was newly married, and
gave some of her apparel to his wife: saying that he had bought it
at a fair. She, however, who had seen the pilgrim-countess passing
through their town, recognised some trifle as having belonged to
her. Her husband then told her what he had done. She, in
confession, told a priest; and the man was taken, within four days
after the commission of the murder.

There are no fixed times for the administration of justice, or its
execution, in this unaccountable country; and he had been in prison
ever since. On the Friday, as he was dining with the other
prisoners, they came and told him he was to be beheaded next
morning, and took him away. It is very unusual to execute in Lent;
but his crime being a very bad one, it was deemed advisable to make
an example of him at that time, when great numbers of pilgrims were
coming towards Rome, from all parts, for the Holy Week. I heard of
this on the Friday evening, and saw the bills up at the churches,
calling on the people to pray for the criminal's soul. So, I
determined to go, and see him executed.

The beheading was appointed for fourteen and a-half o'clock, Roman
time: or a quarter before nine in the forenoon. I had two friends
with me; and as we did not know but that the crowd might be very
great, we were on the spot by half-past seven. The place of
execution was near the church of San Giovanni decollato (a doubtful
compliment to Saint John the Baptist) in one of the impassable back
streets without any footway, of which a great part of Rome is
composed--a street of rotten houses, which do not seem to belong to
anybody, and do not seem to have ever been inhabited, and certainly
were never built on any plan, or for any particular purpose, and
have no window-sashes, and are a little like deserted breweries,
and might be warehouses but for having nothing in them. Opposite
to one of these, a white house, the scaffold was built. An untidy,
unpainted, uncouth, crazy-looking thing of course: some seven feet
high, perhaps: with a tall, gallows-shaped frame rising above it,
in which was the knife, charged with a ponderous mass of iron, all
ready to descend, and glittering brightly in the morning sun,
whenever it looked out, now and then, from behind a cloud.

There were not many people lingering about; and these were kept at
a considerable distance from the scaffold, by parties of the Pope's
dragoons. Two or three hundred foot-soldiers were under arms,
standing at ease in clusters here and there; and the officers were
walking up and down in twos and threes, chatting together, and
smoking cigars.

At the end of the street, was an open space, where there would be a
dust-heap, and piles of broken crockery, and mounds of vegetable
refuse, but for such things being thrown anywhere and everywhere in
Rome, and favouring no particular sort of locality. We got into a
kind of wash-house, belonging to a dwelling-house on this spot; and
standing there in an old cart, and on a heap of cartwheels piled
against the wall, looked, through a large grated window, at the
scaffold, and straight down the street beyond it until, in
consequence of its turning off abruptly to the left, our
perspective was brought to a sudden termination, and had a
corpulent officer, in a cocked hat, for its crowning feature.

Nine o'clock struck, and ten o'clock struck, and nothing happened.
All the bells of all the churches rang as usual. A little
parliament of dogs assembled in the open space, and chased each
other, in and out among the soldiers. Fierce-looking Romans of the
lowest class, in blue cloaks, russet cloaks, and rags uncloaked,
came and went, and talked together. Women and children fluttered,
on the skirts of the scanty crowd. One large muddy spot was left
quite bare, like a bald place on a man's head. A cigar-merchant,
with an earthen pot of charcoal ashes in one h

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