The Vatican, quite apart from its religious associations, is of priceless value to the world as a colossal treasure-house of art, and offers to the visitor not only the amazing works of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, and the unrivaled frescos in the Stanze and Loggie of Raphael, but also a bewildering multitude of the statues of antiquity which have been rescued from Italian soil. I shall not soon forget my feeling of astonishment as I halted on the threshold of one corridor, in which nearly a thousand sculptured forms confronted me. When we consider that this is only one of many similar halls within the Vatican; that, besides all these, there are in the villas, palaces, and other galleries of art in Rome hundreds of other antique statues; and that almost all the art museums in the world boast of some relics of the Eternal City, we may, perhaps, at first conclude that most of Rome's old treasures have escaped destruction.
A Corridor Of Statues.
The Apollo Belvedere.
But, notwithstanding all that has been brought to light, how little, after all, has been preserved to us! In the period of her glory it was said that the number of Rome's statues equaled that of her inhabitants, and even as late as the sixth century after Christ, when the magnificent old city had been repeatedly despoiled, a record of her then existing monuments mentions eighty gilded statues of gods, only one of which remains; sixty-six ivory statues of the deities, all of which are lost; three thousand seven hundred bronze figures, none of which can be accounted for; seventeen hundred palaces, I knew that he spoke truly, for to my lips the old Enchantress of the Seven Hills had held her magic cup, and I had drunk too deeply ever to forget her. Her splendid churches, classic statues, and imposing ruins will linger in my consciousness forevermore; and, henceforth, on the background of my memory no grander figure will be visible than that of the former Mistress of the World, wrapping about her wasted form the tattered folds of an imperial mantle, yet proudly pointing her enfeebled hand, upon which glitter side by side the signet of the Caesars and the jewel of the Papacy, - now toward her glorious temples of Christianity, now toward the proofs of her incomparable heritage of history, and her museums laden with the spoils of Time.
Treasures Of The Past.
Thirteen hundred fountains, nine hundred public baths, thirty-one theatres, and eight amphitheatres, all of which have fallen into complete or partial ruin! What has come down to us, therefore, is only the remnant of a mighty wreck, tossed on the shores of Time after the convulsions of a long-continued storm.
I left the Vatican and stood again beside the Tiber. The day was drawing to a close, and the entire city seemed pervaded with a violet haze which I could almost fancy the wraith of the imperial purple of the Palatine. Between me and the setting sun St. Peter's dome and Hadrian's mausoleum cut their majestic silhouettes against the sky, appropriate emblems of the two great kingdoms that have flourished here: those of the Caesars and of Christ.
Hadrian's mausoleum and st. peter's.
"You will soon take your leave of Rome," said my companion," but be consoled, for Rome will not take leave of you".