Abbildungen der Seite

people memory and hope have met to. gether, yesterday and to morrow have embraced each other. There is a paradise in the rear, and there is a paradise in the van. Behind, is the glory of the Cherubim; before, is the glory of the Christ. They are lit by two lamps, the one shining from the past, the other gleaming from the future—the one the light of Eden, the other the light of the Messiah. Each is a proclamation in favor of the timeless. The light of Eden proclaims that the nation's morn. ing was not the nation's childhood; the light of the Messiah proclaims that the nation's evening will not be the nation's old age. This land and its literature are on every side “bound with gold chains about the feet of God.”

And hence there is one more strange phenomenon. This nation's ideal of its future glory becomes the ideal of its past glory. What is its ideal of future glory? It is the reign of One who shall be called the Prince of Peace—this is its standard of coming heroism. But this is also its standard for estimating the heroism of the past-and here lies the uniqueness of its literature. Take the earliest literature of other lands; of what does it sing? Of wars and rumors of war, of mighty deeds of arms, of prodigies of strength and paragons of valor; of the beginners of history the

physically bravest are deemed the fittest to survive. But for the beginners of this nation's history there has been a reversal of the rule. The men of the past on whom this people put the wreath are the men, not of war, but of peace.

The lives that receive the crown are the lives of the family altar, of the fireside, of the home. Other empires delight to tell how they were established by the sword-Persia, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome. But Judæa delights to tell how she was established on the virtues of the hearthon domestic purity, on paternal love, on filial devotion, on deference to woman, on fidelity to the marriage vow, on sympathy with the needs of Man. It is from the fireside virtues of an Abraham, from the homely duties of an Isaac, from the commercial success of a Jacob, from the peaceful economics of a Joseph, that in the eyes of Israel her public greatness is derived. And the beginning of her actual power is. traced back to a deed of humanitarian charity-the picking up of a little waif for a foundling hospital. Rome tells how the founder of her empire was suckled by a wolf; Judæa is proud to record how the initial stage of her. glory was the philanthropy of human heart vho rescued a drowning infant from the waters of the Nile.

George Matheson.

[ocr errors]

London Quarterly Review.


If you are travelling from the south, the country becomes more and more riven by earthquakes, more and more parched and burnt by the fires of extinct volcanoes as you approach Siena. There are no flowers, there is no grass, there is scarcely any vegetation at all, yet the district has a weird, witch-like charm, and, in the hazy distance the

beautiful twin peaks of Monte Amiata rise majestically above the sweeping hills, which have no feature of their own. As spring comes on, even this: wild district assumes a certain softness. A gray-green tint clothes the miles upon miles of open countrytreeless, hedgeless, houseless-swooping towards one another with the

strangest sinuosities, and rifts, and cupied by the grand Palazzo Pubblico, knobs of earth, till at last they sink built by Agostino and Agnolo da Siena into faint mists, only to rise again in between 1295 and 1327, and survaporous pink and blue distances, so mounted by the magnificent tower of far off, so pale and aërial, that they La Mangia. A museum of early fourcan scarcely be distinguished from the teenth-century art is to be found in the atmosphere itself.

paintings of its noble halls and beautiThis description, however, only ap- ful chapel, chiefly illustrative of the plies to the old approach by carriage blessings of Peace with Wisdom and to Siena; the railway enters many deep Justice as her hand-maidens, and the cuttings before it reaches the city, and horrors of Tyranny with Fraud, Treathen, at a sudden opening, the brown son and Cruelty, Fury, Division and earthquake-riven hills are grandly War in her train. Below, in the Piazza, crested by the great cathedral town- is a modern copy of the exquisite founintensely stately and imposing:

tain which was the masterpiece of

Jacopo della Quercia, but the original Siena, bride of Solitude, whose eyes

basin has been removed since the Are lifted o'er the russet hills to scan

change of government. Conduits to Immeasurable tracts of limpid skies, Arching those silent, sullen plains

supply fountains within the city were where man

not finished till the middle of the fourFades like a weed mid mouldering teenth century, and then, in their joy marshes wan;

at seeing its crystal waters gush forth, Where cane and pine and cypress,

the people called their new fountain poison-proof, For death and fever spread their

Fonte Gaja, a name which has always stately roof. 1

clung to it.

Owing to the extreme depth of its Few Italian towns are better suited

ravines, it is difficult to find one's way than Siena for a summer residence. It in Siena, but from the Piazza the Via is never excessively hot, and there are di Città and the Via del Capitano, each no mosquitoes; the art-interests are in- passing a most grand gothic palace, exhaustible; the accommodation is lead along one of the high ridges till comfortable; and the inhabitants are we come quite suddenly upon the glowwell-bred and pleasant, and far more ing and sumptuous western façade of cordial to strangers than residents in the cathedral. most Italian towns are now. “Cor It is of black and white marble, with magis tibi Sena pandit”—"more than slight intermixture of red and yellow, her gates Siena opens her heart to you" but all its color is wonderfully toned -is the pleasant welcome which meets together by age. Its architecture is of you as you enter the town gates.

the most exuberant variety and the The city is like a star, jutting out be- most delicate detail. “What I never tween deep ravines in long, narrow can express," says Hawthorne, “is the promontories covered with houses and multitudinous richness of the ornamencrowned by convents and churches; tation, the arches within arches, and the centre from which all these sculptured inch by inch, of the wide hill-promontories diverge is the noble doorways; the statues of saints, some Piazza del Campo, completely medi- making a hermitage of a niche, others æval still, and surrounded by gothic standing forth; the scores of busts, palaces. Its south side is entirely oc

that look like the faces of ancient

people, gazing down out of the cathe1 J. A. Symonds.

dral; the projecting shapes of stone

lions—the thousand forms of gothic tivity and Crucifixion from his Pisan fancy, which seem to soften the marble pulpit, but has changed the treatment and express whatever it likes, and al- of the Adoration and the Last Judg. low it to harden again to last forever. ment, and added the Massacre of the The cathedral is a religion in itself- Innocents and the Flight into Egypt to something worth dying for to those his subjects. There are not so many who have an hereditary interest in it.” tombs at Siena as in most Italian

Yet the cathedral of Siena, glorious cathedrals, but statues commemorate as it is, certainly one of the most beau- those Popes who are especially contiful buildings in the world, is only nected with the town-Marcellus II, a fragment-nothing more than the Paul V, Pius II, Pius III, Alexander transept of the vast edifice which was III and Alexander VII; and above the planned by its architect, Maestro Lardo, arches the whole chronology of the and which want of money and the rav- Roman pontiffs is carried round the ages of the plague amongst his work- church. “Larger than life," as Symen, cut short. The half-finished nave monds describes them, “white solemn is still, as it has always been, a ruin. faces they lean, each from his separate But the bits of the church which are niche, crowned with the triple tiara, completed, including the seven-storied and labelled with the name he bore. campanile, striped in black and white Their accumulated majesty brings the marble, are of great perfection. Indeed whole past history of the Church into the finished west front, exquisite in its the presence of its living members. A complicated traceries, and deservedly bishop walking up the nave of Siena admired as it always is and will be, is must feel as a Roman felt among the perhaps, by comparison, the least ad. waxen images of ancestors renowned mirable part of the building, for it is in council or in war. Of course the So wide that the main lines are almost portraits are imaginary for the most lost in the redundant ornament. “This part; though the artists have contrived church," says Symonds, “is the most to vary their features and expression purely gothic of all Italian cathedrals with great skill." designed by national architects. To- But the great glory of the cathedral gether with that of Orvieto, it stands is its pavement, covered with the wonalone to show what the unassisted derful marble pictures designed by genius of the Italians could produce Beccafumi and his scholars, and filled when influenced by mediæval ideas." with figures, many of them as grand

The stately cathedrals of Genoa, as the sibyls and prophets of Michel. Prato, and Pisa are to some extent a angelo. Dante has been thought to preparation for that of Siena, but this have had this pavement in his mind is far more beautiful. Here the arches when he wrote:of the more northern cathedrals are seen lifted high into the air, and time Monstran ancor lo duro pavimento; has mellowed the white marble, which

Qual di pennel fù maestro, a di stile, alternates with the black, into an ex

Che ritrabesse l'ombre e tratti, ch'

ivi, quisitely harmonious tint of brown.

Mirar fariano uno 'ngegno sottile. The long lines of pillars are only broken by the lovely pulpit of Niccolo Other works of art are two marvellous Pisano, finished in 1268. This he made panels by Duccio painted between 1308 larger than his famous pulpit at Pisa, and 1311, and filled with tiny pictures as was suited to the loftier church. He of the Passion of Christ. And we must has repeated here his reliefs of the Na- not forget a St. Jerome and a MagdaLIVING AGE. VOL. VIII.




len statue, which are amongst the best beauty, more exquisite ancient coloring works of Bernini. Forsyth, who was than this. The once brilliant frescoes such a capital critic, admired them with which the walls and ceiling are greatly. “Here,” he says, “the sweeping covered are all subdued by age into a beard and cadaverous flanks of St. Jer- most harmonious whole, and out of the ome are set in contrast with the soft purple shadows rises the beautiful beauty of a Magdalene, which Bernini font of Giacomo della Quercia, set with had transformed from an Andromeda, bronze reliefs by the three great masand thus left us the affliction of inno- ters of his school-Ghiberti, Michelozzo cence for that of guilt.”

and Donatello. Entered from the cathedral is the The cathedral which she loved so magnificent hall called the Libreria, well is ever associated in the popular because it is used to contain the splen- mind with St. Catherine of Siena, and did choir-books of the cathedral. The the surrounding hills and valleys are walls are surrounded by the frescoes redolent of her memory. As we follow which were ordered by Pius III to com- the steep path from St. Giovanni, which memorate the eventful life of his ma- descends into the valley beneath St. ternal uncle, Pius II-Aeneas Sylvius Domenico, may remember that Piccolomini, who-as a young man- there the little Catherine, at seven was the ambassador from the Council years old, returning home from her of Basle to the King of Scotland, and married sister's house, with her little was crowned as a poet by the Emperor brother Stefano, sat down to rest upon Frederick III, and who, as Pope, built the bank. There, as she gazed upon the wonderful town

Pienza, the church of St. Domenico opposite, preached a crusade, and canonized St. she seemed to see the heavens opened Catherine of Siena. The frescoes, fresh and the Savior in glory, with St. Peter, as when they were painted, and a won- St. Paul and St. John the Evangelist derful memorial of their times, are standing by His throne. Her little from the land of Pinturicchio. Rio and brother shook her, to rouse her from others have maintained that he was her ecstasy, and when she looked again largely assisted by

the youthful the heavens had closed, the vision Raffaelle, but this ancient municipal vanished, and she threw herself on the tradition is now believed to have been ground and wept bitterly. But from a pure invention of Sienese vanity. that time she was a changed child, be

In the precincts of the upper church came silent and thoughtful, prayed to stand a number of interesting build- follow her illustrious namesake, St. ings, especially the Casa dell'Opera, Catherine of Alexandria, and-at eight containing a number of fine pieces of years old-vowed to dedicate her life sculpture, and the Pellegrinajo, with to perpetual charity. very curious fifteenth-century frescoes Reaching the valley, and passing the of the temporal Works of Mercy. The gothic Fonte Branda, which was built wall of the unfinished nave ends in a in 1217 by one of the Brandi, and glorious gothic door with twisted col- glancing at the sandstone rocks where umns, whence a great marble staircase, the little St. Catherine made a hermitin the open air, descends to the lower age for herself in childish imitation of level of the town, from which we may the Thebaid, we come to a steep street. enter, beneath the choir, the ancient It was formerly the Contrada dell' Baptistery, or Church of S. Giovanni Oca, but is now called Via Benincasa, Battista.

for here, on the left, distinguished by Few interiors have

solemn its sculptural gable, rises the house of Giacomo Benincasa, the dyer, the fa- burning realities, and they are so still. ther of Catherine. Over the door is “After the lapse of five centuries her written, in letters of gold, "Sposae votaries still kiss the floor and steps on Christi Katharinae domus." Here she which she trod, still say, 'This was the was born in 1347, and here almost all wall on which she leant when Christ of thirty-two years of her life were appeared; this is the corner where she spent. Her veil, staff and lanthorn, her clothed Him, naked and shivering like enamelled vinaigrette, her alms-bag, a beggar-boy; here He maintained her the sackcloth which she wore beneath with angel's food.'” her dress, and the crucifix from which The house of St. Catherine is now one she received the wounds of Christ are of the great shrines of Italy, and conpreserved here. Hence she went forth tains a fine statue of the saint by to preach, and to comfort and heal the Neroccio, and frescoes of her life by plague-stricken; here, to drive out evil Pacchia, Pacchiarotti, Salimbeni, Funand corrupt thoughts, she would gai and Vanni. In the words of Lewis. scourge herself at the foot of the chap- Morris:


** el-altar, and then would call upon Christ, her heavenly Bridegroom, to

Dear spotless soul,

Still through thy house men go, and help her, when she believed herself to

wondering mark be comforted by His visible presence.

Thy place of prayer, thy chamber, Hence, when the neighboring Floren

and thy cell; tines were excommunicated by Gregory Here' 'twas the Lord appeared, and XI, she set out on her wonderful mis.

gave to thee sion to Avignon, to beseech the Pope

His sacred heart. Here, in this very

spot, to withdraw the ban, and spoke with

Thou clothedst Him as He sate in rags such power, that he appointed her his

and seemed arbitress, and left her to dictate the

A beggar. All the house is filled with terms on which he should forgive his

thee rebellious subjects. Hence, on her re- And the white simple story of thy life; turn, believing that much of the misery

Still, far above, the high church on the

hill and misrule of Italy was owing to the

Towers where, in prayer, thou seemabsence of the Popes, she wrote those

edst to walk wrapt round soul-stirring letters which induced the By an ineffable Presence; thy low Pope and all his cardinals to return to roof Italy; and hence she went to meet him Is grown as 'twere a shrine, where and escort bim to Rome, keeping him

priest and man

And visionary girls from age to age there by her sole influence when he

Throng and repeat the self-same praywanted to go back to Avignon in the

ers, thyself following year. Here also she was ap- Didst offer year by year. pointed ambassadress to Naples by the next Pope, Urban VI, who owed his Now, treading in the footsteps of elevation to her influence. And here Catherine, we must follow her up the she died, her last words, as if in an- steep incline to St. Domenico, the great swer to an inward accuser, being “No! brick church which rises opposite to no! no!-not vainglory-not vainglory! the cathedral, and which is such a con-but the glory of God!"

spicuous feature in most views of To strangers many of the stories of Siena, .for many of her visions and ecSt. Catherine may seem like records of stasies took place here, and, though she visionary hallucinations, but to the never ceased to reside in her father's Sienese of her own time they were house, she took here the vows of a nun

« ZurückWeiter »