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Rome, Dec. 17, 1791.
KNOW not a fituation more delectably embarraffing, than that in which I now find myself. Such is the vast extent of this city, whofe walls defcribe a circumference of near seventeen miles; and fo numerous are the relics which yet cover, in various and divided heaps, this ground facred to tradition, that it is at once a work of time and addrefs to beftow a fhare of attention on those which moft merit felection. Though I have explored the city with patient affiduity for more than twelve days paft, I appear scarcely to have made a beginning.
The Capitol, as first in historical importance, was first in the lift of my enquiries. The ascent to the Campidoglio, the name it now bears, does not difgrace the memory of its original magnificence. To the left, ftands the church of Araceli, elevated above a flight of marble fteps, once attached to the Temple of Quirinus ;—to the right, the abrupt and disfigured ruins of the Tarpeian Rock. The palace of the Senator in front, the public buildings on the right and left wing, and the equeftrian monument of Marcus Aurelius in the centre, compose a groupe, which would not be thought wanting in dignity, could it be abftracted from the recollection of the glories that are paft. It was no ordinary pleasure which poffeffed me, while I trod over this area upon which once refted the Capitol. "Heavens! faid I, and am I "now treading the foil which once fupported "the throne of universal empire? Where are "the Temples, and the Forums, the edifices "facred to religion, to polity, and to arms,
"which covered this hallowed ground? "Where are thofe altars, before which vows "of peace and hoftility were made? Where are those monuments erected by the spoils "of war, and adorned with the trophies of "victorious leaders? Alas! they are crumbled " into shapeless ruins!"
It would require a volume to enumerate the treasures preserved in the Museum and different repofitories of the modern Capitol. They confift of ftatues, baffo relievos, fepulchral monuments, deities Roman and Egyptian; works equally valuable for their exquifite execution, as the age they bear. The celebrated statue of the dying Gladiator, is a production worthy of all its fame; and poffeffes, in point of attitude and countenance, all that pathos which becomes the fallen and languishing combatant. A very masterly groupe, representing a Lion feizing upon a Horfe, and four baffo relievos, relating to the history of Marcus Aurelius, are admirable productions. It appears extraordinary
that fo many Temples could ever have exifted upon a spot fo confined as the Capitoline hill. Certain, however, it is, that very confiderable changes have taken place in the form of this Hill, as the reduced altitude of the Tarpeian Rock fufficiently demonftrates. The old materials have fo filled up the vallies, as to render it difficult to ascertain, except upon maps, the precife limits of the antient divifions.
It is by a very mean and ruinous track that the defcent is made from the Capitol to the antient Forum, now known by the name of Campo Vaccino. It is humiliating to see what reverses have here befallen the proudeft atchievements of art. The Roman Forum exifts no more. Its Arches are funk, and its Temples demolished: yet noble veftiges in çach ftill commemorate their paft exiftence. Columns furviving the general wreck yet totter on their bafes, and point to the traveller's eye where ftood the facred edifices erected to Concord and to Jove. It is im