Rome [1922] Travel and History Guide with Illustrations PDF book by Edward Hutton

Rome [1922] Travel and History Guide with Illustrations PDF book by Edward Hutton

Rome [1922] Travel and History Guide
Image from Rome 1922 PDF book

It was on an April evening in my earliest manhood, as I stood on the vast bastion of the Janiculum in the sudden silence of the hour after the sunset — Rome was looking terrible as a crater under the conflagration of the sky — that I seemed to realize for the first time the true aspect of a place so augustly familiar, which, as Dante has perceived, Nature herself has formed for universal dominion — and out of which has risen all Europe and our Faith, all that is really worth having in the world. It was my last evening in Rome.

On the morrow, I was to return to the North. All-day I had wandered aimlessly about looking for my lost illusions, till, weary at last, I had come towards evening to sit beside the parapet of the Janiculum, turning all things over in my heart as I watched the sunset over the City. How well I remember it! It seems to me that I was but a child then, that I had believed in everything, and was altogether discouraged and dismayed, for Rome had been like a stranger to me. With an incredible loyalty I had dreamed of her in the North (shall I confess it ?) as the city of Horatius, of the Gracchi,.ROME of Scipio Africanus, of Sulla and Marius, of Caesar, of that spiritual Caesar, too, who for so many ages has appointed there his dwelling, communing with the Eternal in an eternal place.

And I had found instead a new city spoiled by old things, full of all the meanness and ugliness of modern life, the rush and noise of electric trams, even in the oldest and narrowest ways, a place of change and destruction. Take heart, I had continually told myself, even on the first morning beside the imprisoned Tiber bridged with iron, among the new slums about the Vatican, in the brickfield of the Forum: take heart, the Capitol remains. Therefore, not without thankfulness, eagerly, not without joy, I had made my way along the ruined Corso to the Piazza Venezia. Well, I had rejoiced too soon. I was prepared for destruction. Every newspaper in Christendom had wedded the modern Roman with the Vandal and the Hun. I was prepared for destruction, but for destruction heaped on destruction, for a rascal impudence that might put Phocas to shame, I confess it at once, I was not prepared. Nor is it easy for me to tell of what I saw. For there, where long and long ago the Temple of Juno passed into the gentler dominion of Madonna Mary, the modern barbarian had raised indeed a fitting monument to his king, who resembles great Caesar in this alone that in the heaven of the populace he has become divine.

Was it a temple or a tomb, that ghastly erection of ghostly stone, that, standing on a ruined convent, seemed to bellow like Behemoth, trusting that it might draw not Jordan, but Rome into its mouth? Indeed, the conquerors of Rome so often mere bandits, as we know, have ever sought to dominate the imagination of the multitude by the enormity of their buildings: the policy of the Caesars was the policy of the Popes.

It has remained, however, I told myself, for the kingdom of Italy to surpass both Caesar and Pope in vulgarity, rapacity, and insolence: so hard a thing. Yet this ridiculous Colossus, thought I, founded on a raped convent, stands there as the monument of the third Rome, which, having so, unfortunately, outlived both Caesar and Pope, bows down at last before the inimitable image of this Switzer a-horseback.

Author:   Edward Hutton 
Publication Date:1922

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