The Temple Of Vesta And The Tiber.

The Temple Of Vesta And The Tiber.

The Temple Of Vesta.

The Temple Of Vesta.

The House Of The Vestals.

The House Of The Vestals.

A Street In Old Rome.

A Street In Old Rome.

Calling a cab at this point, we drove to the summit of the Pincian Hill, the beautiful public promenade of Rome, laid out in charming avenues and paths, about which scores of busts and statues of distinguished Romans stand out against a background of dark pines and cypresses, and hint to us that, back of all the brilliant Present here, there lies the grandeur of a mighty Past. In truth, this famous esplanade is like a stage devoted alternately to comedy and tragedy. On pleasant afternoons it is a scene of fashion and frivolity. A multitude of people then invades the place, and the occupants of the many carriages which roll along its flower-bordered avenues converse, bow, smile, and flirt in time to Offenbach's seductive music. But in the morning hours and at night it is well-nigh deserted; and then the tragic memories, which are forever lurking in the background, advance, and take possession of the height. At such a time the thoughtful visitor should advance to the parapet of the Pincio, and look down on the Piazza del Popolo, from the centre of which rises one of the eleven obelisks brought to Rome from Egypt, memorials of her conquest of the country of the Pharaohs. Situated in full view of the fashionable throng upon the Pincian terraces, this solemn relic of antiquity seems to rebuke the folly of the thoughtless crowd. It would appear old to us if we considered merely the fact that it has been standing in Rome since the commencement of the Christian era; yet its Roman life is but a fraction of its history, for it was hewn from the primitive volcanic granite of the Nile, and had the secrets of past ages graven on its sides a thousand years before the wall of Romulus was built. It serves to remind us, however, that human nature in its weaknesses and passions is much the same from age to age; for this old monolith, which had in Egypt looked on Cleopatra and her Roman lovers, reared its majestic form in Rome, when over these Pincian slopes extended, in voluptuous magnificence, the famous Gardens of Lucullus, the Asiatic sybarite whose luxury exceeded that of kings, and who, when falsely accused and doomed to die, supped royally in his villa here; and then, within a perfumed bath, opened his veins and, not without a certain majesty, took leave of life. To him succeeded, as the owner of this site, the shameless Messalina who, in her turn, having been condemned to death, fled through the shadows of her garden, until finally, nerved to a fate that was inevitable, she pressed a dagger to her breast, which was then driven home by the soldier sent to slay her. What wonder that, in the Middle Ages, Nero's restless ghost was thought to wander at night over this hill as a fit place for his crime-haunted spirit ? Even in modern times, the Pincio has not been wholly free from desperate deeds, as when the Princess Borghese (sister of Napoleon) saw on its esplanade one of her admirers stab his rival so near to her that the victim's blood crimsoned the panel of her carriage.

On The Pincian Hill.

On The Pincian Hill.

The Villa Albani.

The Villa Albani.

The View From The Pincio.

The View From The Pincio.

Rome Part 4 262In The Pincian Gardens.

In The Pincian Gardens.

Descending from the Pincian Hill, we drove directly to the Roman Forum. I shall never forget the moment when I first beheld it. Emerging from a narrow street I saw before me a sunken square, from which, at various points, rose columns, arches, pedestals, and crumbling walls. The whole scene trembled, for an instant, in my vision, for I knew that one of the greatest desires of my life was on the point of fulfillment, and that I was at last actually gazing on the spot of earth which had been for centuries the brain of the vast Roman Empire, the focus of the power and intelligence of the human race, and frequently the stage on which the most stupendous dramas in Rome's history were performed, with consuls, emperors, and generals as the actors, and for an audience a dazzled world.