A TRAVELER’S LETTERS HOME.
Standing where Satan’s seat is, in the midst of ten thousand idols, I beseech those who worship God in the: spirit to wrestle in prayer for times of refreshing, that all lands may know that Jesus Christ is Lord. How long shall the Name of Jesus be blasphemed by the idolatries of Antichrist? It maybe that the times of darkness will last till the children of light cry out bitterly, day and night, by reason of soul-anguish. Then will God avenge His own elect, and the:: speedily. As I have trodden the Appian Way, I have rejoiced that Jesus, whom Paul preached, is yet alive, and is certain, in due season, to put down His enemies. Already He has desolated the Colosseum, where His faithful martyrs poured forth their blood; the pagan power has fallen, and so also shall the papal, and all other which opposes His Kingdom. Let us proclaim a spiritual crusade, and set up our banners by redoubled prayer. It is certain that supplication produces marvelous results in Heaven and earth; its power is proven in our own personal experience, and throughout the history of the Church. Brethren, L ET U S P RAY. — C. H. S., in letter from Rome, to Tabernacle church and friends in general INTRODUCTION, BY MRS. C. H. SPURGEON.
IN 1868, my travelling days were done. Henceforth, for many years, I was a prisoner in a sick-chamber, and my beloved had to leave me when the strain of his many labors and responsibilities compelled him to seek rest far away from home. These separations were very painful to hearts so tenderly united as were ours, but we each bore our share of the sorrow as heroically as we could, and softened it as far as possible by constant correspondence. “God bless you,” he wrote once, “and help you to bear my absence. Better that I should be away well, than at home suffering, — better to your loving heart, I know. Do not fancy, even for a moment, that absence could make our hearts colder to each other; our attachment is now a perfect union, indissoluble for ever. My sense of your value, and experience of your goodness, are now united to the deep passion of love which was there at the first alone. Every year casts out another anchor to hold me even more firmly to you, though none was needed even from the first. May my own Lord, whose chastening hand has necessitated this absence, give: you a secret inward recompense in soul, and also, another recompense in the healing of the body! All my heart remains in your keeping.”
It is marvelous to me, as I survey the yearly packets of letters ‘which are now such precious treasures, how my husband could have managed, amidst: the bustle and excitement, of foreign travel, to have written so much and so often. I many times begged him to spare himself in this matter, but he constantly assured me that it delighted him to do it; he said “Every word I write is a pleasure to me, as much as ever it: can be to you; it is only a lot of odds and ends I send you, but I put them down as they come, so that you may see it costs me no labor, but is just a happy scribble.
Don’t fret because I write you so many letters, it is such a pleasure to tell out my joy.” Every day his dear messages came to me, except, of course, when a long railway journey intervened; — and, sometimes, as an unexpected gladness, he’. would post two in one day, that I might be comforted concerning him. On an important tour, like the one recorded in the following chapters, the letters would be illustrated by many amusing pen-and-ink sketches, of people, costumes, landscapes, trees, wells, or anything which particularly struck him. Plans of the rooms he occupied in the various hotels were very frequent, and enabled me better to imagine the’. comfort or otherwise of his surroundings. At one house at Nice, there was a delightful little platform or terrace opening out: of his bedroom, and of this; he sent a most elaborate sketch, so that I might share his pleasure in such an unusual addition to a sleeping apartment. “I am like Peter on the housetop,? he wrote, “and though no sheet is let down to me, yet: \nave I learned much that the sheet taught the apostle, and I count nothing common or unclean, no view unhallowed, no scenery to be avoided lest it should turn me away from communion with God. He has sanctified sea and mountain, housetop and street to me; and when my heart is devout, all these are helps and not hindrances to fellowship with Himself. I can little sympathize with those ultra-spiritually-minded people, who are so unspiritual that only the closed eye can enable them to think of their God.”
I have said that the letters were “illustrated “, but I think illuminated would be a better word to use; for, looking at them after these many years, with overflowing eye. s, the little sketches seem to bear a rainbow light within them, and to sparkle with colors which only a devoted love could have blended. They remind me of the patient care bestowed upon the Psalters and Missals of the Middle Ages, when the hand of some pious man toiled day after day to decorate the vellum pages, — simply to prove the love of his heart, and witness to the truth of his devotion. My beloved himself must have entertained some such feeling; for, at the end of a series of droll representations of women’s head-gear which he had noticed in the streets of Botzen, he thus writes, “Now, sweetheart, may these trifles amuse you;! count it a holy work to draw them, if they cause you but one happy smile.”
That I smiled on them then, and weep over them now, is but a natural consequence of the more complete separation which God has willed for us,-he, dwelling in the land of glory, — I, still tarrying amid the shadows of earth; — but I verily believe that, when I join him, “beyond the smiling and the weeping,” there will be tender remembrances of all these details of earthly love, and of the plenitude of blessing which it garnered in our united lives. Surely we shall talk of all these things, in the pauses of adoring worship and of joyful service. There must be sweet converse in Heaven between those who loved, and suffered, and served together here below.
Next to the rapture of seeing the King in His beauty, and beholding the face of Him who redeemed us to God by His blood, must be the happiness of the communion of saints, in that place of inconceivable blessedness which God has prepared for them that love Him. As Bishop Bickersteth finely puts it, in his description of Heaven, “Every sight and sound Ravished the sense: and every loving heart Reflected joy to joy, and light to light, Like crystals in a cave flashing with fire, And multiplied our bliss a million-fold.” The two following chapters consist of extracts from the daily letters of my husband during his holiday journey to Rome, Naples, and Pompeii. I have given them verbatim, only withholding allusions to domestic concerns and personal matters, and condensing’ to a minimum the sweet love-talk which in great measure helped me to bear the pain of these, separations. I have almost grudged to do this; it has been a grief to fold up his precious words and hide their rare beauty from other eyes, for they shed so lovely a light upon his character; but, in many instances, they were too sacred to be reproduced. Every here and there, I have allowed a sentence or two to reveal a glimpse of his great, tender, and true heart, as nothing else could have done but the rest I have locked up again in the secret chambers of my memory.
The letters themselves are not set forth as examples of elegant style or well-rounded periods, or even of graceful phraseology; they are simply a loving husband’s daily notes, to his sick wife, a record of his journeyings gladly and faithfully persevered in with the sole object of pleasing her, and relieving her sorrowful loneliness.
I hope they may interest many, and even instruct some. Recent tourists in Italy’s classic clime will be pleasantly reminded of their own travels, and be able to trace the progress that has been made during the past twenty-five years in the great work of excavating old Rome, and the buried cities on the Mediterranean shore; and all who read them will, I trust, feel with me that they are worthily enshrined in these pages, which will bear witness to his spotless, beautiful life “till the day dawn, and the shadows flee away.”
EXTRACTS FROM MY HUSBAND’S LETTERS.
Our party met punctually at Victoria, and our journey to Dover consisted of parentheses of sunshine and paragraphs of mist. The woods look as if they were expiring atom the tears of nature. The sea was not like either sort of the prophet’s figs, but was inclined to be irritable without having vigor enough to work itself into actual passion. Many suffered much from the marine malady; and, though we escaped it, yet we were glad to be again on the land which was meant for man; the sea is evidently only designed for fishes and sailors. We were asked our names at Calais; and, having answered to that first question of the Catechism, we were allowed to tread the soil of Republican France. We were soon satisfactorily “restaurated”, and en route for Brussels, rid Lille, Tournay, etc. The whole land is like a neatly-kept garden, from which the tillers derive all the produce possible. We had a good journey, reached our hotel at six o’clock, dined, then walked down to the Arcade which you will remember, and are now in our rooms, cozy and comfortable. The weather is delicious; — bright, clear, and balmy; — no fires needed; in fact, I am too warmly clad.
The atmosphere is; dry and light, and gives me new life. It seems very selfish to be writing thus to my dear prisoner at home, yet she loves me so much that the surest way to make her happy is to prove that I am enjoying my holiday. All my love I send thee; may the everlasting arms encompass thee, even the arms of my God and thine!
We were up early, and walked to the Botanical Gardens, and then on to the Church of St. Gudule, with its wonderful painted windows, some of them most ancient, others modern, but exquisite. These last represent a Jew stealing consecrated waters, while other Jews are sticking daggers into them for the purpose of making them bleed. To me, it does not seem worse to carve waters than to eat them; but the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee is sometimes immense. We then drove to the Musee Wiertz, which I have before described to you. It is certainly a very wonderful display of one man’s powers, and a singular combination of the playful and the terrible. We saw all, and then. went to the Luxembourg Station. to continue our journey, by Waterloo, to Namur. O “days of auld lang syne,” how ye flashed before me, especially when we rode along by the Meuse and Huy to Liege, and thence to Chaudfontaine, Verviers, and Aix-la-Chapelle! Alas! my dearest bides at home; and I, like a lone knight, can but remember the ladye of my love, for she rides not at my side as aforetime! The journey was exquisite for weather, temperature, and scenery; but it was long, and we were very hungry’; so, when we sat down to table at 7.30, it was with the serious resolution to be avenged for our long fast.
This morning, I was up at six o’clock, revising a sermon. It is now raining for the first time since we left home; and this is convenient, for it makes it easier to remain indoors at work. Thus far, all has gone well, and we are grateful. To love God when all is smooth and sweet, is but the love of swine who know their feeder. The true test is to be able to bless His smiting’ hand, and cry, “Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him.” You, my darling, have been enabled to do thin; and though the weary, weary pain bows you down, you will be able to possess your soul in patience even unto the end. The Lord will comfort you with His choice consolations in the day of your afflictions. Some of those well ripened apples which housewives bring forth amid the chill, leafless days of winter, God hath in reserve for time; wherefore, be of good courage, my sweetheart!
It rained till we left Cologne yesterday, when we traveled to Mayence along the banks of the Rhine. The light was gone by 5.30, so that we saw nothing beyond Andernach; the sky was leaden, and the atmosphere hazy.
The woods, however, were ablaze with autumn fires, and to tints were inexpressibly lovely;-alas! the loveliness of decay. We reached here at 8.30, had tea, then crossed the bridge of boats, and returning, went up into the skies to bed (alluding to the height of the hotel).
Munich. — Yesterday, we were on the railroad all day long. We left Mayence at 10.20, and did not reach this city’ till 9.30. The first part of the road was tame, then followed a chapter of forests with their matchless pomp of autumnal glory. Anon, we mounted uphill into glens and. mountain — valleys, which were presently succeeded by a river, with towns growing like osiers oft its banks. This must be a superb city, and I warn: to spend to-day in seeing it; but we are in a fix. The only train over the Brenner leaves here at eleven at night. Innsbruck is the town at the foot of the pass on this side, and the train reaches and leaves there at three o’clock in the morning. So, you see, if we go on a bit, we shall be no better off. To think of going over a pass in the. dark, seems to me to be a willful blasphemy of nature, if not of nature’s God! We. must find out if it cannot, be managed otherwise than as a deed of darkness. We must have a carriage, if possible; and see the marvels of the mountains. ‘This is; an artistic city in all ways, a certain Greek-art appearance strikes one everywhere; not a sham, but a real reproduction of antiquity. We have been to the Glyptothek, a fine museum of statuary; but, really, after one has seen a few thousand nude figures, one feels content without any more anatomical models in stone:. Thence, we visited a large picture-gallery, — which I think almost equal to the Louvre, — full of masterpieces of most of the ancient schools. We have been into a marvelous basilica, with pillars of the richest marble, and a ceiling of golden mosaic; also to the cathedral, 1:o see the tomb of a German Emperor, a boy of the olden time, who has a bronze memorial of the noblest fashion. Then we entered the studio of a renowned sculptor, and saw the plaster -casts, the stone being chiseled, and the finished statues, — very interesting this. There is enough left for two or three days’ enjoyment, but we must have it; and I scarcely regret this, for’ the weather is very damp and depressing. After all inquiries, I find we are compelled to go to-night at 11 o’clock, and pursue our weary way over the pass in the dark. Horses would require two days, and the roads are said to be in bad condition. “What can’t be cured, must be endured;” so I say, “Southward He! at any price.” My heart flies to my wifely; I have just kissed my hand to her. God bless her! Loads of love I telegraph by the soul-wire.
The Brenner is passed. We had some very uncomfortable experiences; the first part of the way, the guard wanted a coupon from us about e. very hour, and at Kuffstein we were hauled out of our nest, marched into the Austrian custom-house, made to wait, shivering, about thirty minutes;, and then packed into a poor seedy carriage:., cold and-miserable, to continue our journey. Botzen was reached at last, but we were all so weary that we were glad to go into our rooms to rest till dinner. Since then, we have: walked round the old-fashioned town, and under its long-arched lines of shops. We have also heard service in the cathedral opposite to our hotel; and very fine was the music, and very quaint the sight of a great crowd in the dark, except where a few had candles to see to read their mass-books.
Do you remember this oh! inn (Kaiser Krone), where Emperors and Popes have lodged? It is a singular building; our rooms are on the same floor as the salle, but we have to go up, and then down to them, I am weary, and am looking forward to to-morrow’s rest.
Sabbath eve. — This has; been a very gracious, happy, restful clay. Did I but know that you are better, I don’t think I should have more to wish, except your company. We had a delicious morning service together; — read Psalm 22., and sang, “Come, let us sing the: song of songs.” and “Where God doth dwell.” It was indeed a season of refreshing. Then we saw a service at the cathedral. Large and devout congregations assemble here at each hour from five a.m. to five p.m. I have never seen any Romish place so well attended. Every person in the town seemed to go to one of the: hourly services, and very attentive and earnest they appeared to be.
We looked in several themes, and twice heard a: kind of litany in German, by the whole congregation,, led by a layman in common dress. It reminded me of a prayer-meeting’ after service, for mass was over, and the altarlights were put out, and then prayer broke out among all the people. After dinner, we walked up a mountain’s side in the bright sun’s genial warmth, and what a view we had! Snow)’ Alps, and dark forests, and then, lower down, the meadows and the terraced, vines, and lower yet, the plain of the Adige and its villages. Our path led us by a series of shrines, similar to those at Varallo, but smaller, and at the end of the path was a “Calvary.”
We had sweet communion together here, and great enjoyment of God’s presence. I am so much better in mind; I feel more elastic, light, and clear of forebodings. I now expect good news from my darling, whereas before I have felt sure of gloomy tidings.
Hotel Barbesi, Venice. — God be thanked for even the twinkling stars of better news in the letter I have just received from your dear self! It has poured with rain all day; indeed, they say it has rained for three whole weeks in these, parts. We left Botzen at six o’clock, driving through mist, cloud, and deluges above, and through wide, far-reaching floods upon either side. We only stayed two hours at Verona, but I had the joy of receiving your letter there. On to Venice, found it better, but still very bad and wet. Had a gondola. Our rooms are very good, but an evil smell pervades the place; whether it is the canals in general, or these rooms in particular, we cannot tell. A waiter, who has just come up, says it is the tapis, which is new; this is possible, but the nuisance is none the better for that. Alas! the rain changes all things, and. Venice looks sad in her sodden state. We must hope for improvement.
After a splendid night’s rest, I awoke at six o’clock, full of good spirits, and revised a sermon. After breakfast, we had a gondola, and went along the Grand Canal.
Glorious! About eleven, the tide turned, and rain began again, so we went to St. Mark’s, and. saw the grand old. cathedral, which is the same as ever, but needs sunshine to perfect it. Thence to the Doge’s Palace, — you know all the details of these, places. The rain poured down when we got under the black over of the gondola; but it was a delightful experience to be so sheltered, and yet to be moving through the floods. We went to the Jesuits’ Church, that fine marble one in the poorer part of the city; — you remember the curtains and carpet all reproduced in marble. Then we explored a glass manufactory, this was very interesting; they make mosaics, and mirrors, and chandeliers of the fine Venice glass, very wonderful to look upon. Still it rained, and the water was over St. Mark’s Square in front of the cathedral Nevertheless, we visited Santa Maria Gloriosa, where is Canova’s pyramidical tomb, and marble enough to stock a city; and then to Santa Maria del Salute, opposite to our hotel. I have seen all these before, yet was still very much interested.
It is pitiable, to see the poor people look soaked and only half-alive. Only the pigeons of St. Mark’s are gay; they fly as a cloud, and swarm on the windows, and even enter the rooms of the houses all round the square; one might almost’ tread on them, they are so tame. The unhappy vendors of shells and miniature gondolas will, I fear, be half-starved, and the flowergirls look very downhearted. The water now is over the parks, and up to the doors; yet Venice is not a bad place in wet weather, since you can keep dry in your gondola, and can look out through the windows. 6 a.m. — I awake grateful for another night’s peaceful rest, only to find myself very badly bitten by mosquitoes. A mosquito is the most terrible of beasts. A lion delights; in blood, but he does not suck it from living animals; he does not carefully prolong their tortures. A viper poisons, but he is generally content with one: use of his fangs; but these small-winged serpents bite in scores of places in succession. My hands are a series of burning mountains. The creatures are as nearly omni. present as Satan, which means that, though a mosquito cannot be everywhere, yet no mortal can be sure: that he is not near him, or tell where he is not. Curtains are a delusion, pastilles are a snare; the little enemies are irritated by such attempts to escape their malice, and give you double punishment. O Italy! I have shed my blood for thy sake, and feel a love of thee (or something else) burning in my veins! The sooner I am away from thee, O fair Venice, the better, for thou dost deluge me by day, and devour me by night! I wonder how my two companions have fared; I shall go, by — and-by, and look for their remains! I have opened my windows, and the pests are pouring in, eager and hungry’; but, as I am up and dressed, there will be no more of me available for them at present.
To-day has been charming, and we have been in the gondola most of its lovely hours. The sights we saw were nothing compared with the delicious rowing in the city itself. Could you but have: been there, it would have been as much of Paradise as this earth can ever yield. Venice decays, but her autumn is fair. The fear is, lest the “restorers” should come and deface her. We went to the Arsenal, but models of ships and guns would not interest you. Then to the Greek Church, and the Carmelites’, and the Academy of Arts; — saw hosts of Madonnas and St. Sebastians, I am quite weary of them. The outside of Venice is the treat, the beauty, the enjoyment.
We are off to. morrow very early for Florence; the air is; loaded with mosquitoes, and my hands are “a mask of sores,” as Mrs. Gamp would say, and both Mr. Passmore and suffer much. Venice cannot be endured with these torments.
We left Venice at 7.50, and proceeded to Bologna, which was reached by 12. 10, after an uninteresting ride among perpetual trees festooned with vines, — muddy earth, — flooded fields, — and disconsolate maize-stalks.
From 120 to 5 o’clock, we were traversing the mountains between Bologna and Pistoia, and a more marvelous road it has never been my lot to see. It was up, up, up, by the side of a torrent, which the rail crossed and recrossed, with rugged scenery of a sublime character on either hand.
Then, in commencing the descent, we saw Pistoia, and the great plain of the Arno far below, like a raised map. It was a truly wonderful view, but was soon gone; and we rushed down zigzags, and saw it again, and lost it every few minutes. It is almost miraculous that a train can keep to the rails upon such descents. Down below at Pistoia, we found that the floods had done great damage; but the railway was all right:, so we reached Florence about seven o’clock. All this is very uninteresting to read, but it was pleasant to experience, while good companionship and the sunshine made the whole journey’ enjoyable. Though wearied by the long hours of travelling, I an in every way’ more fresh and free from depression. May the Lord enrich me also in spiritual blessings, and send me back more capable of serving Him than I have ever been! We are off early to-morrow, so now, my darling, may God watch over thee, bless thee, and keep thee, and restore me to thee in joy and peace! Oceans of love, and as many kisses for you as the. sand on the sea-shore. My next letter will be from “the city of the seven hills,” if all is well, We are in Rome. Let a man say what he will, there is a thrill passes through his soul, at the thought of being in Rome, that he cannot experience anywhere else, except in the city of our Lord, — Jerusalem. There are interests and associations that cluster about “the eternal city” that a man must feel, if he has any soul at all. You remember that, last year, we started off for our first day’s sight-seeing without a guide, and wandered about without knowing whither we went; this time, I can act as guide and interpreter, and am able to observe much which, on a former occasion, I had not noticed. To-day, we went down the Corso, and up the Capitol.
There are new excavations at its toot. We passed down the other side to the Forum, where they are still digging. Rome of the olden time is buried beneath itself, under its own ruins, and the Forum lies some ten, fifteen, and in some places thirty feet of earth below the present level. I soon found myself on what I knew to be the Via Sacra, along’ Which the triumphal processions passed when the great generals returned from war, and climbed the Capitol in state; and it was a memorable thing to stand before the Arch of Titus., and gaze upon its bas-reliefs. There is Titus returning from the siege of Jerusalem, with the seven-branched golden candlestick, and the silver trumpets and, while these things stand there, it is idle for infidels to say that the Bible is not true. It is good history. Nobody doubts what is written in stone upon the Arch of Titus, but the same story is found in the Book; and the more discoveries that are made of ancient cities, especially in Palestine, the more will the truth of the Book be confirmed, and the record upon stone will be found to tally with what is written on the tablets of God’s Word.
Then we came to the Colosseum. What a place it is ! Two-thirds of it are gone, and yet enough remains wherewith to build a great city! I climbed to the very top. Under an arch of one of the great corridors we sat down, and sang, “Am I a soldier of the: cross?.. I’m not ashamed to own my Lord,” and “Jesus tremendous name.;” and then I preached a little sermon from the text,” Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolation’s He hath made: in the earth;” then we prayed, and sang, “Ashamed of Jesus?” just then, two persons went by, and said, in broad American, “Don’t let us disturb you.” To which I answered, “Come and join,” but they replied, “Our time is too short,” so we sang the: Doxology, and went on. Pretty bold this, in such a public place, but very sweet to be remembered. “Boylston’:’ rolled along the vaulted tunnels like a battle-song.
We went down to the Appian Way, and on to the baths of Titus. By a mistake, I took the party up a lane, and through the wrong gate; but, after all, this was fortunate, for it brought us to the top of the immense structure; and, looking down, we saw the rooms which before I had only seen from below, and this view gave us a better idea of their vastness and mystery. The building is a huge ruin, built upon a ruin. Nero had a golden palace here, but when Titus came into power, he buried it. Its roof was made of great arches, massive and strong, so he bored, holes through them, and poured in rubbish till the place was filled up, and then he built his baths on the top of all. His work is ruined; but now, part of the palace, below has been dug out, and they have found gems of art, enough to fill hundreds of museums. Getting’ to the right entrance, we came across the custodian, an old wounded soldier, who showed us over the whole’, place, as far as practicable, telling us all he knew, pointing out every fresco, and putting a delightful zest into it for us all. It is a place of marvels! Its passages and rooms are countless, vast, weird, and most impressive; one could spend a week there, and then begin again. The excavations have brought to light treasures of porphyry, marble, and statues; and the paintings and frescoes of eighteen hundred years ago are as fresh as if they were painted yesterday. Your guide has a long pole, into which he screws another long pole with a lighted candle at the end, this he holds up as high as possible, and you see the paintings off the roof of Nero’s palace. There are said to be two hundred rooms still unexcavated, and no one knows what treasures of art they may conceal. Strange to say, there is yet another house beneath this golden palace, for Nero built over the house of Mecaenas, the friend of Horace; and, after digging deep down, they’ have come to the mosaic pavements of the first structure erected on this extraordinary pot. I want a bigger head, to take all these wonders in, and hold my thoughts!
After all this, we went a little further, to the Palace of the Caesars, which is a mile and a-half round, and is being excavated. All is ruined, but it is so far opened up as to show the lower rooms, and the first, or Imperial floor. It consisted of many palaces, and would take a month to explore. In one part, I saw rooms just dug out, as fresh as when originally decorated, and remarkably like the Pompeian house in the Crystal Palace. There was Caesar’s great hall, the place of his throne, the bath of the harem, the library, the academy or residence for philosophers;, and the rooms for the Pretorian guard. In fact, the whole: Palatine Hill is a palace; and as they dig down, they come to vast chambers and corridors which seem endless. One of these, quite as long as our Nightingale Lane, has its mosaic pavement all complete; we looked down from a great height upon it, and there were opened places far below that. The walls rare usually even to ten feet thick, so the work must be very heavy. I should think all kinds of marble in the world can be picked up here; it is just a vast quarry! What heaps of broken win. e-jars, — the champagne bottles of the Caesars! It is a mountain of ruins of porphyry, alabaster, and all precious things! From its top you see other great ruins of temples, basilicas, palaces, and theatres!
Then the guide said, “Now you must come and see the baths of Caracalla.”
I was bewildered, lost, confounded; but I went, and found a building more than a mile in length, which beat all we had seen before, and made me feel as if my senses would give way. These enormous baths could accommodate 1,600 persons at a time; they were in tiers, one for men, another for women, the third for slaves. There were hot baths, cold baths, steam baths, swimming baths; and all these were floored with mosaics which we saw uncovered as we stood there. The roof was destroyed by the Goths; and when it fell in, it smashed the floor; but here and there great portions — as big as our lawn — are left intact, and one could see the lovely patterns of the mosaic, — each room different. The huge brick walls still stand, but the marble facing is almost all gone. I think no living man can conceive what the place must have. been in its glory. I needed to go to bed, to sleep off my stupor of wonder! I am foolish to try to write about it.
It is like a tadpole describing a sea! The: Farnese family have taken the fine statues and other treasures to Naples; but there are acres yet to be dug out, in which, doubtless, many more are buried, but it is too great, an expense to dig away very fast.
I had one delicious half-hour during the day. I sat down alone opposite to St. Peter’s, and felt as if in Elysium. The snow gone, the sun shining, and on the great obelisk I saw words which cheered my soul; they were these, “Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ rules, Christ defends His people from all evil.” The Lord be praised; this is; true, and the Pope and all the world shall know it! I love my love amidst all these great thoughts. She is my palace, my throne, my empress, my Rome, my world; yet I have more, my Savior, my Heaven! Bless you, my own!
To-day is the Sabbath, and has been up till now most sweetly calm and happy. We had our little service, with breaking of bread, and the Lord was with us. I read a sermon, and our song and prayer were “in the spirit.” May it please the Lord of peace to give the like holy rest to my beloved! We then walked on the Pincian, where there are few people during the day, but lovely groves, and beds of roses, with seats in every corner, and all Rome at one’s feet. It was truly Sabbatic. All that nature and art can do, is to be seen in these gardens, where the loveliest statues look down upon you, and fountains ripple to tunes of peace, and aromatic trees breathe perfume. A statue of Jochebed laying Moses in his ark of bulrushes among the reeds, struck me as charming to the last degree. It stood as the center of a fountain., reeds and water-lilies grew at the rocky base, and the ripples of the little hidden jets; made wavelets round the ark. can you imagine it?
Nothing in modern at has pleased me more, — perhaps nothing so much.
This has been a blessed day to me,. and I have been feeling so well; I almost tremble lest it should be too good to continue.
Another day of wonders! This; morning, ‘we drove to the great: amphitheater of Marcellus, which once held 20,000 persons, and is far older than the Colosseum. It is buried for fourteen feet, and much built over and hidden; around it: is a market for the poor, where I saw baskets full of cigar-ends which had no doubt: been picked up in the street, and were being sold to be smoked in pipes. What ‘would Marcellus have thought of this? Then we saw the long covered way which led from the theater to the baths of Agrippa, — a great: colonnade, of which some pillars are visible, and others are built into the houses of the street which occupies its place. From thence to, the Jews’ quarter, where the same use of old stones is apparent; capitals, friezes, cornices, and all sorts of marbles are let into the walls of the dwellings. Ah! the: cruelties the Jews have suffered in that Ghetto, the barbarities which have there been inflicted upon God’s ancient people! Their district is often flooded by the Tiber; and, on one occasion, when they made an appeal to the papal authorities, because their houses were ten or twelve feet under water, the only answer they received was that the water would do the Jews good! There was a law in Rome, only lately repealed, that a hundred men and fifty women from the Jewish quarter must go to the Church of St. Angelo every Sunday, and they were driven there with whips; and if one of them went to sleep, there was a whip to wake him up, that he might hear himself and his forefathers bitterly abused. On certain days of the Carnival, the. Jews; were obliged to run races in the Corso, stripped of almost all their clothing, and then the people showered execrations and curses upon them. Time would fail to tell of their sufferings and privations, besides which they were forced to pay large sums of money to their oppressors. Matters have mended somewhat lately’, and they are relieved from many of the most cruel persecutions of former days; but they are oppressed still, and I was greatly moved when, in the Church in the Ghetto, I saw this message from the Lord plainly set forth before them, “All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
To-day we went several miles along the Appian Way. What bliss ever to see it! On both sides, for many miles, it is skirted by tombs, temples, columbaria, and ruins of villas in continuous; lines. It is a British Museum ten miles long! I felt a strange joy’ in walking along the same road which Paul trod, when the brethren from Rome came to meet him. From it can be seen Tusculum and Tivoli, and the long line of the Claudian aqueduct, on arches all the way from the mountains into Rome, as also the temple of Romulus, and the great circus of Maxentius. What a world of wonders!
WE went as far as the Casale Rotundo, a round tomb so large that, being full of rubbish, there’s a house, and stables, and. an olive garden on the top. We wanted to investigate, so climbed up, and were rewarded by the sight of a family of very scantily-clothed children; their mother and an old woman were baking maize bread in a hole in the wall of ‘the tomb. They had kneaded it in a wheelbarrow, and the children looked as if they needed it, too. Bono joko!
On our way back, when nearly as far as the old walls, we turned down a lane to visit the catacombs of Calixtus. Candles were provided, and we went down to the second tier; there are five of these, one below another. I do not know how far we went, but it seemed miles;; — passages just wide enough for me to pass through, opening into rooms every now and then, and with many cross-roads where one could soon be lost. Here were.’ countless graves, here and there skeletons, emblems, places for lamps, frescoes of ancient date, and many interesting memorials. It was a new scene to me, but deeply solemn and touching. Think of it, — that this was only one set of chambers and passages;, and that there was one above, and three deeper down! There are from five to six graves, one above the other, in each passage, and the whole place is full right along. These tombs are open in most cases, for the doors or stones which closed them are taken away to museums. This is the best and most convenient catacomb for tourists to see; but there are, I believe, sixty others. They have no Popery in them, and I would sooner live and die in them than live in this city of Babylon. It is nothing less than what the Bible calls it; it is full of idols, filthy rag, bone, and rubbish worship of the most abominable kind. I have cursed it all, as Paul did those who preach “another gospel.”
Then we drove to St. John Lateran, “the mother of all churches,” and I shall here only dare to write of one thing which, to my dying clay, I shall never forget. I do not know that I ever felt my blood boil so with indignation or my heart melt so much with pity as when I saw the Santa Scala, clown which our blessed Lord is said to have come from Pilate’s hall. It was a pitiable sight to see old people, grey-headed men, young women, and little children with their mothers, crawling up and down this staircase on their knees, kissing the bottom step, and touching it with their forehead, and doing likewise to the middle and top steps, because they say our Savior fainted at those places. As I stood there, I could only pray that another Luther might arise, and thunder forth the fact that men are not justified by works, but by faith alone. It was an awful thought to me that all these poor creatures should believe that they gained a hundred days’ indulgence and the pardon of their sins every time they crawled up that staircase, and that every stop their knees kneeled on meant so many days less of purgatory for the. to. The stairs are covered with wood, which has been three times renewed, having been worn away by the knees of the votaries! My heart feels all on a blaze with righteous anger. O miserable, world, thus to dishonor the ever-blessed Lamb! O infinite mercy, which permits such insulters to live! I have seen them adoring thigh-bones, skulls, arms, and hands; — yes, actually adoring these things as if they were Divine! Pagan Rome never went this length.
We went to St. Peter’s to finish the day with music, and it was fine indeed; but I was jostled in a crowd of people so highly perfurmed with garlic, that I soon made my escape to the outskirts to have another look round the great joss-house. Here I learned some English history, for I saw Canova’s tomb to the memory of James III., Charles III., and Henry IX., Kings of England! Ask the boys if the. y ever read of them. They were the last of the Stuarts; — the Pretender, — his son, Charles Edward, or “bonnie Prince Charlie,” — and his son. What hundreds of other things I have seen this day’, cannot now, and perhaps; never will be told. I have stayed up late to put this d. own for fear of forgetting it, and also because it may be I shall have less time to-morrow when preparing to preach. God bless thee, dearest, and be thou glad, with me, that no “strong delusion to believe a lie” has fallen upon us. To-day has taught me. a year’s learning. The Lord make it useful to His Church!
I send a picture of the Pope’s coachman. What a swell he is! I think you will like the portrait of a brigand’s wife. It is very well executed, and if you like it too much to part ‘with it, be sure to keep it. The fellow in red is awful; these confratelli are in all colors according to the degree, of the buried person. They are good fellows, who bury the dead “pour l’amour de Dieu,” and they belong to all ranks in Rome. They cover themselves up in this manner to avoid recognition, and escape praise. They are universally respected, but look horribly ugly. I think they will make a sensation in the magic-lantern.
Yesterday morning, when I preached in the Presbyterian Chapel, all was quiet and delightful; but at night, in Rome, while, my words were being translated by Mr. Wall, we were. stopped the questioners. It was requested that they would reserve their inquiries till the end of the service, but the opponents ‘were impatient. A paper was passed up from a Catholic lady, to say that a secular priest was present, a man of great ability, and a personal friend of the Pope, and that he was sent on purpose to discuss. So, presently, a man of unprepossessing appearance began to assail us with arguments from a skeptical standpoint, upon which he received such an answer that he shifted his ground, and declared that none had any right to teach save “the Church.” Mr. Wall replied to this, and the man changed his tactics again. Then, up rose a Waldensian minister, who spoke so well that the people broke out in cheers and clapping. This was suppressed, and again the enemy thundered forth his threats. He. was answered, by several, and told that he had shifted his ground, and was a priest; and Mr. Wall challenged him to a public dispute at any place he chose to name. This he declined, and seeing that the people grew warm, he wisely withdrew. One word from us, and he would have been put out of the. window. The incident pleased Mr. Wall, for it created excitement, and will bring more to hear; but I was far’ from happy about it, and would gladly have been spared such a scene. Glory be to God, there is a living church in Rome, and the way in which they have gained converts has been by opposition; the notoriety which it has given them has brought many to hear the gospel.
Bravely the work goes on, and the baptized lead the way. The leaders are two good fellows, pronounced Baptists, believing firmly that their church is that of the catacombs, and the only true Church of Christ in Rome; the others, they say, are the churches of Luther, and Knox, and Wesley, and Waldo, — theirs is the only old original. I gently combat their restrictiveness, but do not wonder at it.
We have been to another catacomb, one not often visited. It is named after St. Ponzianc, and is situated outside Rome, in a vineyard, a good. way from the walls, and though truly ancient, it is not very far opened up, but you have to go down very deep. A man, who calls himself “the dove of the catacombs” (he must mean “bat “), took us down. We went a long, long way, each of us carrying a taper, and at last: we came to a place, where some eight roads meet underground. Seven of these were. closed, but we found what we had specially come to see. This was a baptistery. It was full of sweet, clear, running water, about four feet deep, and above it: was a painting in fresco of our Lord standing up to his waist in the water, and John putting his hand on the sacred head, that it, too, might be immersed;.. he was not pouring the water on him. Here we stood, and prayed to the blessed One into whose Name we had been buried by baptism. It was a solemn moment. Here also were two other frescoes of our Lord, — very beautiful faces; and the Alpha and Omega, and Christian monogram symbols, which are so plain and natural that they do not come under the head of superstition. There were, however, bones in plenty, and the place was very hot and close, so ‘we were glad soon to escape into the open air, for even holy dust is not the best purifier, or the best provender for living lung.
You would have liked to have been with us when we: went to see the columbaria, near the St. Sebastian gate. We visited two of them; they are singular places, like vast dovecots, but they are not for doves. It is strange to look upon the spot where thousands upon thousands of Rome’s wealthy citizens have for many ages lain in little heaps of ashes. The bodies, of the dead were burned, and the dust was preserved in small urns which were kept in these curious places. Some persons had a family columbarium; in other cases, companies were formed for their construction, and they were then let out in portions as required. The niches are like small vaulted chambers, and there will be in them, sometimes an urn, some-times a lamp, or a small bust, while frequently the name and age of the deceased will be found on a slab of marble over the recess. In each of these small spaces, there are two holes sunk to receive the ashes if’ an urn is not used, and these have lids to cover the remains. These great square buildings contained many hundreds of these ‘“ nests” for the dead, and a visit to them leaves a strangely-solemn impression on the mind.
I had two such precious letters from you this morning, worth to me far more than all the gems of ancient or modern art. The material of which they are composed is their main value, though there is also no mean skill revealed in its manipulation. They are pure as alabaster, far more precious than porphyry or verd antique; no mention shall be made of malachite or onyx, for love surpasses them all. We are off to Naples to-day.