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Chapter 7. English Memorials in Rome.

ENGLISH memorials in Rome, as far as existing monuments are concerned, date back to the first century of the Empire. In A.D. 51–52, after the capture of King Caractacus and the surrender of his brothers, a triumphal arch was raised to the Emperor Claudius on the Via Flaminia, the modern Corso, “for having subjugated eleven kings of Britain without loss on the Roman side, and for having first of all Romans annexed to the Empire barbarous trans-oceanic lands.”1 The history of this arch is quite remarkable. Discovered for the first time in 1562 in that tract of the Corso which we call Piazza di Sciarra, it took three hundred and eight years to dig its remains out of the ground and to fill our museums with its fragments. Four bas-reliefs, one of the dedicatory inscriptions, and one hundred and thirty-six cartloads of marble were brought to the surface in 1562. Duke Giorgio Cesarini bought two bas-reliefs and part of a third, which, after passing through several hands, are now preserved in the Casino of the Villa Borghese. The fourth panel was first walled up in front of the house of Marsilius Caphano in the same Piazza di Sciarra where it had been found, and was removed in 1593 to the Conservatori palace, where we can see it in the landing of the great stairs.2 Now three other panels from a triumphal arch of Marcus Aurelius by S. Martina were already exhibited in the same landing. The city magistrates, thinking it a great pity that the fourth and last should belong to a different Cæsar, made away with the head of Claudius, and substituted in its place that of the philosopher Emperor. The one hundred and thirty-six cartloads of Greek and Luna marble were purchased by the sculptor Flaminio Vacca, who sold them in turn to Pope Clement VIII., Aldobrandini. The marbles were sawn into slabs and made use of in the pavement and in the veneering of the transept of St. John Lateran.

Other portions of the arch were discovered in 1587, 1641, and 1870. The only fragment now visible, besides the four panels mentioned above, is the left half of the dedicatory inscription set into the garden wall of the Barberini palace, Via delle Quattro Fontane. The other half supplemented in plaster is altogether wrong. (See page 263.)

If we except a breastplate of British pearls which decorated the statue of Venus Genetrix by Arkesilaos in the forum of Julius Cæsar, and certain masses of pig lead shipped from British mines to the imperial “Horrea plumbaria” on the left bank of the Tiber,3 there are no other memorials dating from classic times. Those of a later age begin with the following record in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 688: “This year King Cædwalla went to Rome and received baptism from Pope Sergius, and in about seven days afterwards, on the twelfth day before the kalends of May [April 20, 689], while he was yet in his baptismal garments, he died and was buried in St. Peter's.”

We do not know the details of the hearty reception tendered by the semi-barbaric Romans of the seventh century to the fair-haired and blue-eyed young convert; but Adhelm, bishop of Sherborne, in a poem written in praise of the royal maiden Bugge, asserts that the king of Essex was received, as it were, in triumph amidst loud demonstrations of joy from the clergy and from the populace. He was buried in the atrium or “paradise” of St. Peter's, and his grave was inscribed with two records, a poem of twelve distichs and a short biographical note. Their text is to be found in Bede's “History,” v. 7, and also in the “Sylloge Turonensis,” n. 40, edited by de Rossi, “Inscr. Christ.” vol. ii. p. 70. The epitaph says, “Here lies Chedual, the same as Peter, King of the Saxons, about thirty years of age. He was laid to rest on April 20th in the Second Indiction, in the fourth consulship of our Lord Justinian the most pious Emperor, and in the second year of the pontificate of our Apostolic father Sergius the first.” According to Giovanni de Deis, who in 1589 published a pamphlet on the “Successors of Barnabas the Apostle,” both inscriptions had been composed by Benedict, archbishop of Milan. The same writer declares that the sarcophagus which contained the remains of the king was discovered together with the epitaph in the foundations of the new basilica of St. Peter in the time of Sixtus V. It must have been broken to pieces, and thrown, like the commonest building material, into the building trenches.

According to William of Malmesbury and other chroniclers two other Saxon kings were buried in the “paradise,” Offa of Essex and Cœnred of Mercia, both of whom had embraced the monastic life in one of the cloisters near the Vatican. It is uncertain whether King Ina and his queen, Æthelburga, were buried in the same place, or in the national church of S. Maria de Burgo Saxonum, which had been founded or enlarged by Ina himself.4

This Schola Saxonum is the oldest and foremost of the foreign colonies which clustered round St. Peter's, in the low and unhealthy ground formerly occupied by the gardens of Agrippina the elder. It dates from A.D. 727, while the Schola of the Langobards was only founded about 770 by Queen Ansa, and those of the Franks and Frisians by Charlemagne towards the end of the same century. It consisted of a hospice for pilgrims and of a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The chapel is still in existence, near the gate of the Leonine city called Posterula Saxonum (Porta di S. Spirito), although much altered and modernized under the name of Santo Spirito in Sassia. The colony flourished for many years, extending as far as the Ponte S. Angelo on the site of the present Arciospedale di S. Spirito; and the name Burg or Burgh, by which its dwellers designated it, is still in use, Italianized as Borgo.5

The reconstruction of this interesting quarter after the fire and pillage of the Saracens in 846 is connected with the establishment of Peter's pence, about which so much information has been given by Garampi, Cancellieri, and de Rossi.6 To keep the accommodations for pilgrims in good order, to supply them with food and clothing, to nurse them in their ailments, and to offer the Pope a tribute for the maintenance of the places of pilgrimage, a national contribution was established towards the beginning of the ninth century, under the names of Romescot, Romfeah, Rompening, etc., to be shared by every paterfamilias owning a certain amount of property. In 998 the annual subsidy amounted to three hundred marks sterling. A mark contained one hundred and sixty denarii; that is to say, it represented the tribute of one hundred and sixty families. Therefore the three hundred marks put down as the English tribute in the “Liber Censuum” represented forty-eight thousand families, a considerable number indeed, if we recollect what was the state of the British Isles in those days.

Three “ripostigli” or hidden deposits of Peter's pence have been found in Rome: one in the House of the Vestals, one in the belfry of St. Paul's, one at the Aquæ Salviæ or Tre Fontane.

The first, discovered November 8, 1882, in that part of the Atrium Vestæ which had been occupied between 942 and 946 by an officer of the court of Pope Marinus II., contained a gold-piece of Theophilus (A.D. 829–842) and eight hundred and thirty-four silver pennies, representing the tribute of so many families. The pennies all come from English royal or archiepiscopal mints, except four which bear the stamp of the mints of Pavia, Limoges, and Ratisbon. The presence of the four outsiders among the mass of British pennies is not to be wondered at. In “Vol. Miscell. Ashmole,” 1820, of the Bodleian, p. 7, there is an account of the discovery in Lancashire, in 1611, of a repository with pieces of Alfred, Edward, Edmund, kings, and Plegmund, archbishop, mixed with foreign pennies, some French, some marked with the name of King Berengarius. Most of the English pieces bore the motto SCI PETRI MO(neta) EBORACE CIV, which has nothing to do with Peter's pence, but only shows that the piece was struck in the archiepiscopal mint of York, the cathedral of which was dedicated to St. Peter.

The second ripostiglio was found in 1843, walled in in the old belfry of St. Paul's-outside-the-Walls, the third in 1871 at the Tre Fontane. Both date from the time when the institution of the “denarius sancti Petri” had become general among the nations of western Europe.

I conclude by remarking that the discovery of English coins in Rome is an extremely rare occurrence. There are only a few in the Vatican collection, the origin of which, besides, is not known. Considering this state of things, de Rossi has come to the conclusion that English silver must have been recoined in the Pontifical mint.

The institution of an English college in Rome is connected by modern guidebooks with the old Schola and hospice of the Saxons, but without warrant, for the hospice, after having thrice been burned and plundered, was abandoned in 1204, and its revenues were transferred by Innocent III. to the newly founded hospital of S. Spirito. The institution may with more reason be connected with that of the Jubilee which caused a revival of Anglo-Roman intercourse in 1300. English pilgrims felt the loss of their national hospice; and it was at this juncture that a London merchant, named John Shepherd, purchased certain houses on the Via now called di Monserrato, and having converted them into an establishment for the reception of pilgrims and travellers under the invocation of the Holy Trinity and St. Thomas, became with his wife the first superintendent of the new institution.7 According to the original deed in the archives of the present English college, the foundation must have been made about the year 1362. Hospice and church occupied part of the site of the “Stabula Factionis Venetæ,” the barracks and stables of the squadron of the charioteers of the Circus who wore the blue colors. The other three squadrons were distinguished, as is well known, by their white (Factio albata), green (Factio prasina) and red (Factio russata) costumes. Each had independent barracks, built with great magnificence, and ornamented with precious works of art, adjoining which there was a field called Trigarium or Campus Trigarius, for the breaking in and training of horses, for which purpose the charioteers availed themselves of the “triga,” the untamed animal being harnessed between two trained ones. The barracks of the Greens, the favorite color with the Roman populace, are placed in the neighborhood of the church of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, on account of the denomination “in Prasino” (among the Greens) which the church bore in ages gone by. The surmise has been shown to be correct through the discovery of a pedestal dedicated to an “agitator Factionis Prasinæ” under the adjoining palace of la Cancelleria, and also of a water-pipe inscribed with the words “Factionis Prasinæ.”8 These beautiful barracks, or whatever parts of them were left standing, were occupied between 366 and 384 by Pope Damasus, who transformed them into an “archivum,” or “chartarium Ecclesiæ Romanæ” for the preservation and safe-keeping of books and documents belonging to the Holy See. Barracks and library have disappeared long since. The building, repaired and probably disfigured from time to time, was levelled to the ground four hundred and fifteen years ago (1486) by Cardinal Raphael Riario, nephew of Sixtus IV. Its columns of red Egyptian granite were made use of by Bramante in his wonderful court of the Palazzo della Cancelleria. (See p. 273.) The “Stabula Factionis Prasinæ” were bounded on the west side by a street now called Via dei Cappellari. On the opposite side of the same street, and between it and the Via di Monserrato (also ancient), rose the barracks of the Blues, on a corner of which the English hospice was established by John Shepherd. Many interesting finds are recorded in connection with the place. Pietro Sante Bartoli, pontifical superintendent of antiquities at the end of the seventeenth century, says that a “bellissima statua di un Fauno” was discovered in the foundations of the new college in the spring of 1682, as well as the architrave of a shrine dedicated to the god Silvanus, A.D. 90, by a charioteer named Thallus. The Blues are also recorded in inscription n. 9719 of vol. vi. Corpus Inscr. Latin. (“Crescens…natione Bessus, olearius de porticu Pallantiana Venetianorum”), and in n. 10,044, a pedestal erected in memory of one of their great victories (“Victoria Venetianorum semper constet feliciter”). I may add that when the present church of St. Thomas à Becket was commenced in 1870 from the designs of Vespignani the elder, remains of ecclesiastical edifices of the eleventh or twelfth century and of an ancient Roman road were discovered in the excavation for the foundations.

The pilgrim-book of the new college, commencing December 29, 1580, and ending in 1656, has been published by Foley. The hospitable gates of the college seem to have been equally open to Protestants and Catholics, provided the visitors came from the mother country, and brought letters of recommendation. The first entry in the book runs as follows:—

“1580, December 29. The illustrious Dom. Thomas Arundel, an Englishman of the diocese of…was this day admitted as the first guest, and remained with us for three days.” This is the celebrated Sir Thomas surnamed the “Valiant” on account of his daring exploits at the battle of Gran, when he took with his own hands the standard of Mahomet. For this action of bravery he was created a Count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1595 and first Baron Arundell of Wardour in 1605. We also meet with the names of the Duke of Buckingham, the Earls of Carnarvon, Devon, Bolingbroke, the Lords Berkeley, Kensington, Howard, Stafford, Hamilton, etc. Of Henry, son of the first marquis of Worcester, it is said:—

“1649, December 20. This most noble pilgrim came to us and remained until February the 14th, affording a remarkable example to all the college from his habit of constant prayer, spiritual conversation, and humility. On leaving us he thought of proceeding to Jerusalem.”

Perhaps the most famous of all the visitors of the college were John Milton and Richard Crashaw.

John Milton had been travelling in Italy since the death of his mother in 1637. He became a guest of the college on October 30, 1638, when he took his first dinner in the refectory, together with the students, Mr. Carey, brother of Lord Falkland, Dr. Holling of Lancashire, and a Mr. Fortescue.

Richard Crashaw, son of William, “preacher in the Temple,” born in 1612, Fellow of Peterhouse and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, was expelled from that celebrated University with four other Fellows on June 11,1644, because they had refused to sign “the Solemn League and Covenant.” He became a Catholic while an exile in France, and Queen Henrietta Maria, then a fugitive in Paris, to whom he had been presented by his friend and fellow poet Cowley, gave him letters of introduction to Italy. The pilgrim-book of the English college contains the following entry: “Richard Crashaw, a pilgrim, arrived November 28, 1646, and remained fifteen days.” Other entries show that the poet frequented the hospice for the space of four years. After entering the household of Cardinal Paleotto, he obtained a canonry at Loreto, in which city he died of fever after a few weeks' residence. He was buried in that celebrated sanctuary in 1650.9

The reason which prompted English travellers, Protestant as well as Catholic, to seek the hospitality of the college, must be found, first, in their spirit of nationality, superior to religious controversies and questions of creed, and, secondly, in the wretched condition of Roman hostelries, uncomfortable, unclean, and dear.

The oldest and best known inns, known in fact since the institution of Jubilees, were the Albergo dell' Orso, the Albergo del Sole, and the Albergo della Luna.

The Albergo dell' Orso is still extant, and still answering its purpose, although the clientèle is decidedly changed. It stands at the corner of the Via di Monte Brianzo and the Via del' Orso, and although whitewashed and slightly altered, its shell and internal arrangements are practically the same. Its guest-book begins with the name of Dante,—at least so the tradition says,10—and ends, as far as famous men are concerned, with that of Montaigne, who occupied a room on the street side, for a few days, in 1580.

Another of these venerable establishments, still flourishing in its own way, is the Albergo del Sole, near the Piazza del Paradiso. Its first mention dates from 1469; and it has undergone no special change in the course of four hundred and thirty years.

The “Grand Hotel” of the seventeenth century was undoubtedly the Hosteria di Monte Brianzo, in the street of the same name, near the church of S. Lucia della Tinta. In 1628–1629 it gave shelter to three princes of Hesse who were travelling incognito. Burckhard calls it “une hostellerie fameuse au bord du Tibre,” and we know from Mancini's “Viaggio” that its façade had been designed and perhaps painted by no less a master than Baldassare Peruzzi. The inn came to grief about 1669.

The number of hostelries in Rome at the beginning of the seventeenth century (1615) was 360; in Jubilee years the number was quadrupled. Giovanni Ruccellai counted 1022 in 1450. Their capacity varied. The Hosteria della Campana accommodated in 1469 thirty-five guests and thirty-eight horses, and in 1489 the Duke Otto of Braunschweig, his suite, and twenty-nine horses. The managers were mostly Germans or North Italians, demanding, as a rule, exorbitant prices.

Ventura, who visited Rome in the Jubilee of 1300, spent forty-four cents a day for his room alone. Matteo Villani says that in the Jubilee of 1350 the stabling of a horse cost ninety cents a day, a loaf of bread twelve cents, a “pintello” of wine five.

The accommodations were not luxurious. The windows had the “impannata,” that is, a piece of white linen or canvas instead of glass. The beds were covered by white canopies or “padiglioni.” Fireplaces for cooking and heating at the same time were first introduced in 1357 by Francesco da Carrara, Lord of Padua. The innovation is thus described in the “Chronicle” of Galeazzo Gataro.11 “When Francesco alighted in Rome at the ‘Moon’ he was surprised to find that there were no chimneys nor fireplaces, the Romans being in the habit of cooking their meals or of warming themselves near a box full of ashes, that is, a hearthstone placed in the middle of the room.12 Francesco, having brought with him from Padua master masons and artisans of various crafts, caused two chimneys and two flues to be made in the Albergo della Luna, which he decorated with his own coat of arms. Chimneys have since become popular in Rome.”

The rooms were marked not by numbers, but by names. That in the Albergo dell' Orso, rented to Giovanni Vicentino in 1570, was called the White Cross (la Croce Bianca.) Gabriel Coyer found in the hotel at Turin in 1763 the rooms of the Madonna, St. Paul, and St. Peter; and Kotzebue mentions four miserable little apartments in the hostelry at Novi, which were named Venice, Rome, Paris, and Naples; and in another place four rooms named from the four parts of the world and a fifth called Russia.

Another curious custom was the hanging of a coat of arms in rooms occupied by a distinguished personage. Montaigne had his own painted in gold and colors at Pisa, at a cost of one and a half scudi. The Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani gave two guldens to the artist of Aix-la-Cha-pelle, who painted his armorial bearings over the door of his room.

Lodgings, in the English sense of the word, were also to be had in Rome. When Montaigne left the Albergo dell' Orso in 1580, he took up his quarters in lodgings, Via di Monte Branzo, n. 25, paying twenty scudi a month for three good rooms—salon, dining-room, kitchen—and stables, fuel, and cook. He was charged only for provisions. The same rooms were rented in 1638 to a son of the King of Denmark travelling incognito. The diary of Misson, who journeyed through Italy in 1717, contains the following passage: “En arrivant à Rome nous nous misme dans une Auberge. Mais à notre retour de Naples, nous prisme ce qu'ils appellent un palazzo, et ce qu'il faut nommer en bon François une maison garnie. Nous estions fort honorablement pour vingt piastres par mois.” About the same period the daily wages for a valet or laquais were thirty cents, while a good carriage and pair could be hired for thirty dollars a month.13

John Evelyn of Wotton says in his diary—edited by William Bray in 1818—that having reached the gates of the Eternal City on November 4, 1644, wet to the skin, and “being perplexed for a convenient lodging, he wandered up and down on horseback, till at last he was conducted with his companions to the house of one Monsieur Petit, a Frenchman, near the Piazza di Spagna,” probably the “Inn of the Three Keys,” which stood near the entrance to the Via del Babuino. This diary of Evelyn, on the subject of which there is an excellent article by Tesoroni in the “Journal of the British and American Arch. Society of Rome” (vol. iii. n. 1, p. 33), is full of useful and pleasant information about the social and material state of Rome under Pope Pamfili, Innocent X. He went once to listen to the sermon which used to be delivered every week exclusively for the benefit of the Jews in the Oratorio della Trinità near the Ponte Sisto. These compulsory sermons had been established at the suggestion of a certain Andrea del Monte, a converted rabbi of the time of Julius II. The Jews were forced by the police to listen to the preacher, while a beadle with a wand woke up the sleepy and chastised the noisy. Evelyn adds, with a touch of humor, “A conversion is very rare;” yet during his stay in Rome two conversions took place, one of a Jew, the other of a Turk, Evelyn acting as godfather to both. The Turk was a sincere convert, the Jew an impostor.

In Evelyn's Memoirs we find also a pleasing account of English society in Rome, for which there were two centres: one at the English college near the Palazzo Farnese, then placed under the direction of the Jesuit fathers; the other at the Palazzo Barberini, the courteous owner of which, Cardinal Francesco, styled himself the Protector of England. There were at that time many and distinguished travellers from beyond the Channel, Lord John Somerset, brother of the Marquis of Worcester, who had an apartment in the Palazzo della Cancelleria; Patrick Carey, a witty person, brother of Lord Falkland; two physicians, Dr. Bacon and Dr. Gibbs, attached to the suite of Cardinal Capponi. Gibbs, a Scotchman by birth, educated at Oxford, practised at the hospital of Santo Spirito, and acted occasionally as a guide to Evelyn. “He was an elegant writer of Latin poetry: a small selection of his poems was published at Rome, where he died in 1677 and was buried in the Pantheon.” Among the curiosities he saw in the City, Evelyn notes one Mrs. Ward, a devotee, soliciting money for the establishment of an order of female Jesuits!

I will now give an account of the residences of English ambassadors in Rome, two of which have become famous in history, one before, one after the Reformation.

Visitors to Rome are certainly familiar with the Palazzo Giraud-Torlonia in the Piazza di Scossa Cavalli, built by Bramante for Cardinal Adriano di Castelli Corneto at the end of the fifteenth century. The palace is equally interesting to the archæologist, to the artist, and to the historian: to the first because it is built with the stones and marbles of the Basilica Julia and of the temple of Janus; to the second because of the beauty and purity of its design; to the last because it was inhabited by the representatives of England at the court of Rome before the Reformation.

We know very little about the early career of Cardinal Adriano, and his end is also shrouded in mystery.14 It seems that a great knowledge of Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, as well as shrewdness in political and ecclesiastical affairs, won for him the good graces of Pope Innocent VIII., by whom the young prelate was sent to England with the mission of bringing about peace between the kings of England and Scotland. Henry VII., in his turn, made him representative of English interests with Innocent VIII. and Alexander VI., and gave him the see of Hereford, which he exchanged later on for that of Bath and Wells. Promoted cardinal on May 30, 1503, under the title of S. Crisogono, he brought to completion the building of a magnificent mansion in the Borgo di San Pietro. The street on which the palace stands had just been opened by Alexander VI. through the slums of the Borgo, to give a suitable access to St. Peter's from the bridge of S. Angelo; and it was accordingly named the Via Alexandrina. Nothing could have pleased the Pope more than the readiness of Cardinal Adriano to raise a costly building on the street which bore his name. On this score, probably, the cardinal was given full permission to secure building materials from wherever he chose, and to lay hands on whichever ruins best suited his purpose.

The palace was built with money provided by the liberality of King Henry VII., with the help of funds which Cardinal Adriano had been able to lay by in his Capacity of collector of apostolic revenues and Peter's pence in England. Behind the palace, in the direction of the Leonine walls, extended a garden,15 in which one of the most thrilling events in the history of that eventful period took place. On Saturday evening, August 12, Pope Alexander Borgia and his son Cæsar, Duke of Valentinois, with Cardinal Adriano, had partaken of some refreshments in this garden, the company being restricted to the three personages already mentioned, besides Cardinal Romolino (who had presided over the execution of Fra Girolarmo Savonarola) and another whose name is not mentioned. Both the Pope and his son were taken that same evening with fits of vomiting, followed by a violent fever. Next day the Pope was bled, and felt so relieved that he took pleasure in watching some of his attendants playing at cards. The fever came back on the 14th, and disappeared the next day, only to strike the patient again with increased violence on the 16th. The gates of the Vatican palace were closed, Scipio, the head physician, and his assistant only being allowed free pass. On Friday, August 18, at eight o'clock in the evening Alexander VI. expired, while his son, thanks to his youth and robust constitution, was able to leave his bed and seek refuge, with his followers and his valuables, in the Castle of S. Angelo.

The rumor that the Pope had died of poison spread like wildfire through the City, and we find it received and commented upon in the diplomatic correspondence of Beltrando, ambassador of Ferrara, of Giustiniani, ambassador of Venice, and also of the diarists Sanuto and Burckhard. The theory of poison was strengthened in the minds of the members of the court by the frightful appearance of the corpse: “factus erat sicut pannus nigerrimus…os apertum et adeo horribile quod nemo viderit unquam vel esse tale dixerit,” says Burckhard, and Sanuto repeats “mai a tempo de cristiano fu veduta la più or(r)enda e terribil cosa.” However, there is no necessity to resort to poison to explain the fatal consequences of the supper of August 11. The Vatican district had not improved very much in salubrity since the days of Tacitus, who calls it “infamis aëre!” In fact, the cutting of a deep moat around the Castle of S. Angelo, the choking up of drains, the transformation of the once beautiful gardens of Domitia and Agrippina into a marshy waste had made the Borgo the unhealthiest district of Rome.16 The August of 1503 had been particularly malignant; and half the members of the Pope's household were laid low with fever, many cases having proved fatal. Soderini, the ambassador of Florence, could not keep the Republic informed of the course of events in consequence of an attack of malaria. And yet, if the case was as simple as that, how can we explain the fact that Cardinal Adriano's skin fell in strips, a fact which he himself attributed to poisoning? Something terrible must have happened on that memorable evening; but I am afraid that the principal actors must have carried the secret into their graves.

One of the versions, which found its way into the diplomatic correspondence of the time, is that Alexander and Valentino had plotted to poison their host, whose fortune they were eager to confiscate, and that they both drank by mistake the contents of the wrong bottle. Another version, accepted in Venice, speaks of sugar-plums instead of wine as the means selected by the Borgias to deal their blow; and adds that Cardinal Adriano, suspecting the reason which had prompted the Pope to ask for an invitation to supper, had bribed the Pope's butler with a promise of ten thousand ducats if the poisonous candy would be spared to him.

Both versions seem to be wrong, and could eventually be proved so. The student and lover of art has this advantage over the historian and the politician, that he need not embitter his own mind and excite the passions of his readers by discussing the rights and wrongs of the Borgias, to determine whether they were the abominable monsters, the curse of mankind, of whom we have been accustomed to read in cheap books, or if they must be considered as no better and no worse than the average Italian princes of the beginning of the sixteenth century, with whose deeds and politics we have been made familiar by Macchiavelli. I have before me a volume printed in 1887, in which the title of “mostri iniqui e infernali”17 is attributed, not to the Borgias, but to those who speak of them with disrespect! I have also before me an unpublished epigram by a contemporary of Alexander VI., a witness of his deeds as a man, as a prince, and as a priest, in which the seven capital sins are distinctly alluded to in connection with his career. To the student and lover of art, however, he appears under a better light as the builder of the Sale Borgia in the Vatican, the most exquisite, the most fascinating production of Italian art at the opening of the Golden Age.

The palace of Cardinal di Corneto, in which this tragic event took place, became English property in March, 1505. By a deed, which is still to be found in the records of the notary Beneinbene, the cardinal granted his property to Henry VII., to his heirs and successors, as a residence for English representatives to the Holy See. It was inhabited by Silvestro Gigli in 1521, and by Christopher Bainbridge, Cardinal of S. Prassede, in 1544. It did not remain long in English hands, for Henry VII. presented it in his turn to his dear friend, Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggi. Afterwards it passed through many hands,18 until it was sold, March 29, 1820, to Prince Torlonia for the nominal sum of eight thousand dollars.

Rome saw no more ambassadors from the court of St. James until 1686, on April 13 of which year the Earl of Castlemain, the special and, for some time, secret envoy of King James II. to Innocent XI., reached the banks of the Tiber. He was met two miles beyond the Porta del Popolo by Cardinal Thomas Howard and his gentleman in waiting, Paolo Faliconeri, and, leaving his own travelling-coach, drove with the cardinal to his residence. The ambassador kept his official incognito for ten months; unofficially he was all this time the most talked-of foreign representative in Rome. He had taken up his quarters in the magnificent Palazzo Pamphili in the Piazza Navona, over the gate of which hung two shields, each twenty-two feet in diameter. Whether on account of their extraordinary size, or of the even more extraordinary subjects painted upon them, these two shields became the talk of the town, and a pamphlet was published to explain their meaning to the wondering crowds.19 One, the shield of the Pope, showed the figure of Britannia paying homage to the Church, assisted and comforted by a venerable old man alleged to represent “Christian Zeal,” by a female figure representing Prudence, and by the personification of “Royal Valor” in the character of Hercules trampling under his feet the figure of Envy. There was also an altar, with the Book of the Gospels upon it, resting upon the shoulders of two Turks,—one in military attire with many horsetails, one dressed as a mufti, with a mutilated copy of the Koran in his hands. The scene was made complete by two sphinxes, Father Tiber placidly gliding under the Ælian Bridge, and branches of laurel symbolizing the victories of Holy Church.

The other shield, belonging to Great Britain, almost baffles description. There were the coats of arms of England, France, Ireland, and Scotland, the garter, the lion, the unicorn, the helmet, the crown, the ermine mantelet, in a shield supported by two angels. Then came another Hercules, brandishing the club with one hand and a blue label with the other, with the motto, “Dieu et mon droit,” followed by a matron representing Britannia, and by the figure of St. George, clad in armor, with a red English cross on the cuirass. The hydra which he was piercing with a spear had seven heads, representing seven leaders of the Rebellion, among whom was the “impious, infamous, and faithless” Titus Oates. Hercules and Britannia, in the mean time, were trampling under their feet the rebel Colledge (who had a corn thresher in his hands) and Oliver Cromwell, with the characteristic orange feathers on the helmet. Here also the scene was made complete by Father Thames gliding under London Bridge, and by sphinxes, angels, and branches of laurel.

The solemn presentation of credentials to Pope Innocent XI. took place on January 8, 1687, followed by a banquet given by Cardinal Charles Barberini in his great palace on the Quirinal. The table, set in the Sala di Pier da Cortona, was forty-seven feet long, and covered with sugar statuettes representing the “Glories and Deeds of James II. the Invict.” The dinner lasted three hours, each of the sixty or seventy courses being announced by a flourish of trumpets. On the adjournment to the next hall, the ambassador was welcomed by all the ladies and gentlemen of the Roman nobility, all in fancy costumes on account of the Carnival, and invited by them to drive in the Corso. He appeared accordingly in the throng of joyous masqueraders, and drove through the historic street in the state coach of the Barberini, accompanied by Cardinals Pamphili, Altieri, and Howard. All these events, by which the population of Rome was so pleased and amused for the time being, are described and illustrated in contemporary pamphlets and prints, the best of all being Michael Writ's “Ragguaglio della solenne comparsa fatta in Roma gli otto di gennaio MDCLXXXVII dal…conte di Castelmaine ambasciatore…di Giacomo secondo re d' Inghilterra, Scozia, Francia, et Ibernia…in andare publicamente all' udienza di…papa Innocenzo undecimo, etc., etc. Roma, Ercole, 1687.”

I have found a copy of this rare and curious volume, illustrated with engravings by Arnold van Westerhout, in the library of Sir George Trevelyan at Wellington Hall. It appears that the embassy, which numbered twenty-two members, had embarked at Greenwich on February 15, 1686, on the vessel Henrietta Mary, Captain Fesby, the crossing of the Channel taking over two days and a half. From Dieppe they travelled overland to Avignon, Monaco, Genoa, and Leghorn. At Avignon the papal delegate, Mgr. Cenci, entertained the ambassador at a banquet composed of four courses of fourteen services each, fifty-six plates in all.

On the day appointed for the presentation of the credentials, the Earl of Castlemain drove to the Quirinal in a coach drawn by six bays, a present from the Marchese di Carpi, viceroy of Naples. The coach was escorted by six pages and thirty-two outriders, and followed by three hundred and thirty-five carriages. The procession followed a roundabout way to the Quirinal, by S. Agostino, the Fontanella di Borghese, the Corso, and the Tre Cannelle. On January 14 the ambassador gave his state banquet in the Gallery of the Pamphili palace, painted by Pier da Cortona. On the table, one hundred and thirty palms long, were eighty silver trays supporting lions and unicorns of sugar. One hundred and ninety dishes were served. The public rejoicings were closed by a musical entertainment given by Queen Christina of Sweden in her beautiful (Corsini) palace.

I will bring this chapter to a close by referring briefly to the delightful church of S. Gregorio at Monte Celio, which is, or ought to be, the English national church in Rome.

I have never been able to understand the reason why the Popes of the last three centuries, so generous in the matter of the discovery and safe-keeping of classic remains, should have shown such marked indifference about church antiquities. If we consider that one fifth at least of our city and suburban places of worship date from an age when the level of streets was from twelve to thirty feet lower, and that when their floors were raised to the present level no great injury was done to such parts of the edifice as were doomed to disappear from view, it is easy to understand what an amount of light the rediscovery of the buried portions would throw on the origin and history of each building. The zeal of the Popes seems never to have been roused towards this aim, not even in the case of the houses of Prisca and Pudens, the walls of which, lying under their respective churches, have echoed in all probability with the sound of the voices of the Apostles. The only works of interest in this line, the rediscovery of the Constantinian church of St. Clement, and of the House of John and Paul, were undertaken in 1857 and 1887, respectively, by private lovers of past memories, Father Mullooly and Padre Germano, while the official authorities were planning on their side the ghastly “restorations” of S. Crisogono, SS. Apostoli, S. Angelo in Pescheria, S. Agnese, S. Maria in Trastevere, etc., or the destruction of the Constantinian apse of the Lateran.

No exploration of this kind would have better answered its purpose, and better repaid the expense and time and labor of the explorers than that of St. Gregory's house and oratory, lying at a great depth under the church on the Cælian. A committee of which I was a member was formed in 1890 for this purpose, under the presidency of Cardinal Manning; a search was made through the cellars of the adjoining monastery, and the fact ascertained that the house of the great pontiff and the monastic establishment from which Augustine started to preach the gospel in Great Britain (see page 294) are in a marvellous state of preservation, and could easily be excavated without impairing in the least the stability of the modern church above. Cardinal Manning had offered two thousand pounds to help the preliminary works, and the city authorities had most willingly given their approval, when the whole scheme collapsed for reasons that it would be out of place to mention here.

The project of sending his apostles to England was conceived by Gregory the Great early in 596, on receiving the news that the Christian aborigines were allowed by the Anglo-Saxon a certain freedom in practising their faith, and that Æthelbyrht, king of Kent and bretwalda of the heptarchy, had married a Christian princess, Bertha, daughter of Caribert, to whom also full freedom was granted to follow the precepts of Christ.

The apostolic mission, headed by Augustine, started from the House of Gregory in the spring of 596. They followed the course of the Tiber to Porto, set sail for the Gulf of Lyons, and eventually landed at the monastic island of Lerins on the coast of Provence. Here the mission was overtaken by feelings of despondency. The tossing of their ship over the choppy waves of the Mediterranean, the sight of new lands, the sound of unknown tongues, made them regret so profoundly their happy and uneventful life on the Cælian hill that Augustine was sent back to implore from Gregory their release from the perilous undertaking. As a token of humble devotion Augustine brought with him a certain quantity of wooden spoons and cups carved by the monks of Lerins for the poor of Rome. Gregory kindly but firmly maintained his former decision: Augustine was sent back with the title of abbot, and with letters of recommendation to Brunehilde, queen of Austrasia and Burgundia, to Clotaire II. of Neustria, and to the Frank or Austrasian prelates. The journey was resumed under better auspices. Of their landing at Tanatos (Thanet), of their settling at Doruvernum (Canterbury), of their reception by Bertha and Æthelbyrht, of their fruitful evangelization of England, I need not speak, as the history of these events has just been written anew and with profound learning by my friend Professor Hartmann Grisar, S. J., the illustrious author of the “Geschichte Roms und der Päpste im Mittelalter.”20

The same events are commemorated by two long inscriptions in the atrium of S. Gregorio, which contains another monument dear to the English visitor, the tomb of Sir Edward Carne of Glamorganshire. Sir Edward was sent abroad with Cranmer in 1530 to seek the opinion of foreign universities on the divorce of Henry VIII. Later on he became British representative at the court of Rome, and several of his dispatches have been published by Bishop Burnet. On the breaking up of diplomatic relations Paul IV. induced him to remain in Rome, where he died in 1561. Another remarkable tomb of British interest is to be found in the church of S. Cecilia, a church once full of archæological interest and now one of the most impressive specimens of the heinous taste which prevailed in the seventeenth century among Roman artists and their patrons. A discovery, however, has just been made that will lead us to forget the shameful transformation of the church above ground, for the value of what has been found below.21

The excavations were undertaken in the autumn of the year 1899 by Cardinal Rampolla, titular of S. Cecilia, and his archæological adviser, Mgr. Crostarosa. They found a starting-point in the remains of a bathing-apartment, visible in and around the chapel of the saint at the extremity of the right aisle, and they were able to ascertain at once that these bathrooms formed part of a great and noble palace, the remains of which extend far beyond the area of the present church. The apartments brought to light are divided into two sections by a longitudinal wall without doors or openings of any kind. It seems, therefore, that the church covers the remains not of one but of two distinct houses, the boundary wall of which follows the axis of the nave. The one on the left is the nobler of the two, and contains among other apartments a hall of basilical type, with nave and aisles separated by two rows of clumsy brick pilasters. The house on the right must have belonged to a family of inferior rank, if we accept the conjecture of Professor Maru that the two circular tanks, discovered in the principal room formed part of a tanner's establishment. The conjecture is the more acceptable if we consider that the district in which S. Cecilia is placed was mostly occupied by tanners, the most powerful and the most troublesome of Roman trade guilds. Their headquarters, called “Coriaria Septimiana” from the Emperor Septimius Severus, who rebuilt and enlarged and endowed them at the beginning of the third century, were discovered in 1871 at the corner of the Via de' Salumi, and the Via in Piscinula, not more than two hundred and fifty yards from S. Cecilia. Another indication of the social state of the owner is to be found in the poverty and simplicity of the family shrine, or Lararium. It consists of a recess in one of the walls, shaped like a loophole, with a figurine of Minerva, carved in low relief out of a piece of peperino, at the bottom, while the slanting sides are panelled with a couple of terracotta friezes, representing a vintage scene. This second house is built over and amongst the remains of a much older one, dating from the second century B.C., when the level of the Trastevere was lower by six or seven feet, and when stone was used in domestic architecture instead of bricks. The walls of the nobler house are mostly of the third century after Christ, and its pavements—those, I mean, which have not been destroyed by the gravediggers after the erection of the church—are of mosaic in black and white. Two rather good marble sarcophagi have also been unearthed—one with the Caledonian hunt on its lid, used again for Christian burial at the time of Paschal I., who rebuilt in 821 the old oratory of Urban I. and gave it its present basilican type.

All these interesting relics have been left visible under the modern pavement, as has already been done with those of St. Clement, of Sts. John and Paul, and as will be done, I hope, at no distant date, with those of the house and monastery of Gregory the Great.

The tomb in S. Cecilia which attracts the attention of the English traveller is that of Cardinal Adam of Hertford, on the right of the main door. (See page 297.) This prelate, a very learned man for the age, administrator of the diocese of London and titular of S. Cecilia, took part in the opposition to Urban VI., and, having been arrested with five other cardinals at Lucera, was carried by that Pope to Genoa. He alone was saved, by the interference of the English crown, the others being put to death in the convent of S. Giovanni di Pre, where their remains were discovered not many years ago.

  • 1.

    Corpus Inscr. vol. vi. n. 920.

  • 2.

    Helbig, Guide, vol. i. p. 407, n. 547.

  • 3.

    Corpus Inscr. vol. xv.2 p. 987; Nibby, Roma antica, vol. ii. p. 149.

  • 4.

    Compare Tesoroni's article in the Proceedings of the British and American Arch. Society of Rome, March 24, 1891, p. 13.

  • 5.

    Compare Antonio de Waal, I luoghi pii sul territorio vaticano, Roma, 1886, p. 14.

  • 6.

    Garampi, in Cod. vatic. latin. 9022, and Memorie della beata Chiara di Rimino, p. 232; Cancellieri, in Giornale arcadico, 1821, vol. x. p. 264; De Rossi, in Notizie degli Scavi, decembre, 1883.

  • 7.

    Compare Henry Foley's vol. vi. of the Records of the English province of the Society of Jesus, London, Burns & Oates, 1880, p. xxviii.

  • 8.

    Corpus Inscr. vol. vi. n. 10,058, 10,063; Bull. Arch. Com. 1887, p. 10.

  • 9.

    Foley, l. c. p. xxxiii.; Grosart, Complete Works of Richard Crashaw; Fuller's Worthies' Library, 1872.

  • 10.

    Monti, Opere, vol. i. p. 260.

  • 11.

    In Muratori, Rerum Italic. Scriptores, vol. xvii. col. 46.

  • 12.

    The practice is still followed in the huts and farms of the Roman Campagna.

  • 13.

    Misson, Voyage en Italie, vol. iii. p. 229 (La Haye, 1717).

  • 14.

    Born at Corneto about 1458, he became the most important personage of the court of Rome under Alexander VI. Disgraced by Leo X. on account of his share in the conspiracy of Cardinal Petrucci, he fled from Rome. The place and time of his death are unknown.

  • 15.

    More exactly in the direction of the “Via Sixtina prope muros.” On the west side it extended as far as the garden of Francesco Soderini, Cardinal of Volterra; on the east side it touched the garden of Ardicino della Posta, Cardinal of Aleria.

  • 16.

    Cardinal Noris, in a letter dated September 10, 1695, says that seven hundred persons had already been attacked by fever in the Borgo in the course of that summer.

  • 17.

    Infernal and iniquitous monsters.

  • 18.

    Cardinal Tolomeo Galli about 1580; Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1609; the Campeggi again in 1635; Cardinal Girolamo Colonna in 1650; Queen Christina of Sweden in 1669; Cardinal Radziekowsky about 1680; the hospice for poor priests, called dei Cento Preti, in 1699; Count Pietro Giraud in 1720; the Vatican manufacture of mosaics in 1816; Giovanni Torlonia in 1820.

  • 19.

    Lettera nella quale si ragguaglia un Prelato…delle 2 grand' armi alzate sulla facciata del palazzo Pamfili, etc. Roma, Ant. Ercole, 1686.

  • 20.

    Published by Herder of Freiburg in Breisgau, 1901 (vol. i.).

  • 21.

    Compare Crostarosa Pietro, Bull. arch. cristiana, vol. vi. 1900, pp. 143 and 265.

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