Incrusted Arches In The Palatine Chapel.

Incrusted Arches In The Palatine Chapel.

A Portion Of The Wall Of The Chapel.

A Portion Of The Wall Of The Chapel.

Town And Cathedral Of Monreale.

Town And Cathedral Of Monreale.

Interior Of The Cathedral Of Monreale.

Interior Of The Cathedral Of Monreale.

Bronze Door Of The Cathedral.

Bronze Door Of The Cathedral.

Choir Of The Cathedral Of Monreale.

Choir Of The Cathedral Of Monreale.

In the right transept of this grand cathedral are the tombs of other Norman kings. Among them I particularly noticed a superb sarcophagus of pure, white marble, rich with arabesques of inlaid gold, containing the remains of William II., popularly spoken of as "the Good." This title, given him by his contemporaries, might well be ratified by posterity; for he it was who caused to be constructed here, in 1174, not only this incomparable building, but also the adjoining Benedictine monastery, whose architecture still attracts a multitude of travelers and pilgrims, as it has done for seven hundred years.

Indeed, the famous cloisters, which alone remain of the original edifice, are the most beautiful I have ever seen. One hesitates to say this, when one recollects the lovely colonnades at Aries, and those of St. John Lateran and St. Paul's at Rome; and yet I think if all the cloisters in the world could be compared here side by side, the highest praise would be awarded to this perfect flower of Arabic and Norman art.

Enclosing a delicious garden, filled with roses, aloes, orange-trees, and palms, extend four long, rectangular arcades, supported by a series of two hundred and sixteen exquisitely sculptured marble columns, not one of which has the same design or ornamentation as its fellows. They stand at equal distances in couples, - an elegant procession of tall, slendershafts, some sparkling with mosaic decoration in vertical or spiral bands, some pure and chaste in snowy whiteness, and others still elaborately carved in figures, arabesques, and foliage. At each of the four corners, two of these couples join to make a group of four, giving an air of great solidity to the supported arch, combined with an incredible grace and lightness. I gazed admiringly at their long perspectives, until these dual columns seemed to me almost instinct with life, as if they were a petrified reincarnation of the vanished monks, who once paced, two by two, along these sculptured corridors. How the creators of these delicate carv-ings must have loved, and lingered over, the productions which had cost them so much time and toil! Did none of them ever desire to be known to fame ? One at least ventured to affix his name and that of his father to his work, for I found carved beneath a charming capital, these words:

Tomb Of William The Good, Monreale

Tomb Of William The Good, Monreale.

The Cloisters Of Monreale.

The Cloisters Of Monreale.

The Moorish Fountain In The Cloisters.

The Moorish Fountain In The Cloisters.

"Ego Romanus filius Constantini, marmorarius".

Yet, what, besides this simple statement, do we know to-day of Constantinus or his son, the worker in marble ? It is pathetic to reflect on the oblivion which has ingulfed the names and history of all the Saracenic and Byzantine artists who created these Sicilian masterpieces. Only the king who called the artisans together for their task has now the credit for them; but those whose brains conceived and fingers executed these unrivaled structures, toiled like the insect-builders of a coral reef; and, like them, left behind them only their imperishable work, - at once their life, their glory, and their grave.

A Corner In The Cloisters.

A Corner In The Cloisters.

A Poem In Stone.

A Poem In Stone.

After a long, detailed examination of these grac-ile shafts and the old Moorish fountain in one corner of the flower-paved courtyard, I walked for some time through the shadowy arcades, enjoying simply the effect which they produced upon me as a whole.