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turn to the parts, the ornaments, and the furniture, which you will find perfectly corresponding with the magnificent form of the teinple itself. Around the dome rise four other cupolas, small indeed when compared to its stupendous magnitude, but of great boldness when considered separately; six more, three on either side, cover the different divisions of the aisles, and six more of greater dimensions canopy as many chapels, or, to speak more properly, as many churches. All these inferior cupolas are like the grand dome itself, lined with mosaics; many indeed of the master-pieces of painting which formerly graced this edifice, have been removed and replaced by mosaics which retain all the tints and beauties of the originals, impressed on a more solid and durable substance. The aisles and altars are adorned with numberless antique pillars, that border the church all around, and form a secondary and subservient order. The variegated walls are, in many places, ornamented with festoons, wreaths, angels, tiaras, crosses, and medallions representing the effigies of different pontiffs. These decorations are of the most beautiful and rarest species of marble, and often of excellent workmanship. Various monuments rise in different parts of the church; but, in their size and accompaniments, so much attention has been paid to general as well as local effect, that they appear rather as parts of the original plan, than posterior additions. Some of these are much admired for their groups and exquisite sculpture, and form very conspicuous features in the ornamental part of this noble temple.
The high altar stands under the dome, and thus as it is the most important, so it becomes the most striking object. In order to add to its relief and give it all its majesty, according to the ancient custom still retained in the patriarchal churches at Rome, and in most of the cathedrals in Italy, a lofty canopy rises above it, and forms an intermediate break or repose for the eye between it and the immensity of the dome above. The form, materials, and magnitude of this decoration are equally astonishing. Below the steps of the altar, and
of course some distance from it, at the corners, on four massive pedestals, rise four twisted pillars fifty feet in height, and support an entablature which bears the canopy itself topped with a cross. The whole soars to the elevation of one hundred and thirty-two feet from the pavement, and, excepting the pedestals, is of Corinthian brass! the most lofty massive work of that or of any other metal, now known. But this brazen edifice, for so it may be called, notwithstanding its magnitude, is so disposed as not to obstruct the view by concealing the chancel and veiling the Cathedral or Chair of St. Peter. This ornament is also of bronze, and consists of a group of four gigantic figures, representing the four principal Doctors of the Greek and Latin churches, supporting the patriarchal chair of St. Peter. The chair is a lofty throne elevated to the height of seventy feet from the pavement; a circular window tinged with yellow throws from above a mild splendor around it, so that the whole not unfitly represents the pre-eminence of the apostolic See, and is acknowledged to form a most becoming and majestic termination to the first of Christian temples.
DESCRIPTION OF ÆTNA. At day break we set off from Catania to visit Mount Ætna, that venerable and respectable father of mountains. His base and his immense declivities, are covered with a numerous progeny of his own; for every great eruption produces a new mountain ; and, perhaps, by the number of these, better than by any other method, the number of eruptions, and the age of Ætna itself, might be ascertained.
The whole mountain is divided into three distinct regions, called La Regione Culta, or Piedmontese, the fertile region ; La Regione Sylvosa or Nemorosa, the woody region; and La Regione Deserta or Scoperta, the barren region. These three are as different, both in climate and productions, as the three zones of the earth; and, perhaps, with equal propriety, might have been styled the Torrid, the Temperate, and the Frigid Zone. The first region surrounds the mountain, and constitutes the most fertile country in the world on all sizes of it, to the extent of fourteen or fifteen miles, where the woody region begins. It is composed almost entirely of lava, which, after a number of ages, is at last converted into the most fertile of all soils. At Nicolosi, which is twelve miles up the mountain, we found the barometer at 27: 1-2, at Catania it stood at 29: 8 1-2.
After leaving Nicolosi in an hour and a half's travel. ling over barren ashes and lava, we arrived on the confines of the Regione Sylvosa, or Temperate Zone. As soon as we entered those delightful forests, we seemed to have gotten into another world. The air which before was sultry and hot, was now cool and refreshing; and every breeze was loaded with a thousand perfumes, the whole ground being covered with the richest aromatic plants. Many parts of this region are surely the most delightful spots upon earth. This mountain unites every beauty, and every horror; and the most opposite and dissimilar objects in nature. Here you observe a gulf, that formerly threw out torrents of fire, now covered with the most luxuriant vegetation; and from an object of terror, become one of delight. Here you gather the most delicious fruit, rising from -what was but lately a barren rock.. Here the ground is covered with flowers; and we wander over these beauties and contemplate this wilderness of sweets, without considering that under our feet, but a few yards separate us from ļakes of liquid fire and brimstone. But our astonishment still increases, upon raising our eyes to the higher regions of the mountain. There we behold in perpetual union the two elements which are at perpetual war; an immense gulf of fire, forever existing in the midst of snows which it has not power to melt and immense fields of snow and ice for ever surrounding this gulf of fire, which they have not the power to extinguish. The woody region of Ætna ascends for about eight or nine miles, and forms a zone or girdle of the brightest green all around the mountain. This night we passed through little more than half of it; arriving some time before sun-set at our lodging, which was a large cave, formed by one of the most ancient and venerable lavas. Here we were delighted with the contemplation of many beautiful objects the prospect on all sides being immense ; and we already seemed to have been lifted from the earth, and to have gotten into a new world. After a comfortable sleep, and other refreshments, at eleven o'clock at night we recommenced our expedition.
Our guide now began to display his great knowledge of the mountain, and we followed him with implicit confidence, where, perhaps, human foot had never trod before. Sometimes through gloomy forests, which by day light were delightful, but now, from the universal darkness, the rustling of the trees, the heavy dull bel. lowing of the mountain, the vast expanse of ocean stretched at an immense distance below us, inspired a kind of awful horror. Sometimes we found ourselves ascending great rocks of lava, where, if our mules should make but a false step, we might be thrown headlong over the precipice.--However, by the assistance of our guide, we overcame all these difficulties, and in two hours we had gotten above the region of vegetation, and had left the forests of Ætna far below, which now appeared like a dark and gloomy gulf surrounding the mountain. The prospect before us was of a very different nature ; we beheld an expanse of snow and ice which alarmed us exceedingly, and almost staggered our resolution. In the centre of this we descried the high summit of the mountain, rearing its tremendous head, and vomiting out torrents of smoke. It, indeed, appeared altogether inaccessible, from the vast extent of the fields of snow and ice which surrounded it.
The ascent for some time was not steep, and as the surface of the snow sunk a little, we had tolerable good footing; but as it soon began to grow steeper, we found our labour greatly increased; however, we delermined to persevere, calling to mind that the emperor Adrian, and the philosopher Plato, had undergone the same; and from a like motive, too, to see the rising sun from the top of Atna.
From this spot it was only about three hundred yards to the summit, where we arrived in full time to see the most wonderful and sublime sight in nature.
But here description must ever fall short; for no im. agination has dared to form an idea of so glorious and so magnificent a scene.--Neither is there on the sur face of this globe, any one point that unites so many aw ful and sublime objects. The immense elevation from the surface of the earth, drawn as it were to a single point, without any neighboring mountain for the senses and imagination to rest upon, and recover from their as. tonishment in their way down to the world. This point or pinnacle, raised on the brink of a bottomless gulf, as old as the world, often discharging rivers of fire, and throwing out burning rocks, with a noise that shakes the whole island. Add to this, the unbounded extent of the prospect, comprehending the greatest diversity and the most beautiful scenery in nature ; with the rising sun, advancing in the east, to illuminate the wondrous scene.
The whole atmosphere by degrees kindled up, and showed dimly and faintly the boundless prospect around. Both sea and land looked dark and confused, as if only emerging from their original chaos, and light and darkness seemed still undivided ; till the morning, by degrees advancing, completed the separation. The stars are extinguished, and the shades disappear. The forests, which but now seemed black and bottomless gulfs, from which no ray was reflected to show their form or colours, appear a new creation rising to the sight;