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mantle green as grass, and veil of white, and olive crown, all flashed upon the poet's inner eye, and he remembered how he bowed before her when a boy. There is yet another passage in which it is difficult to believe that Dante had not the pine-forest in his mind. When Virgil and the poet were waiting in anxiety before the gates of Dis, when the Furies on the wall were tearing their breasts and crying, “ Venga Medusa, e si 'l farem di smalto," suddenly across the hideous river came a sound like that which whirlwinds make among the slrattered branches and bruised stems of forest-trees; and Dante, looking out with fear upon the foam and spray and vapour of the flood, saw thousands of the damned flying before the face of one who forded Styx with feet unwet. “Like frogs," he says, " they fled, who scurry through the water at the sight of their foethe serpent, till each squats and hides himself close to the ground.” The picture of the storm among the trees might well have occurred to Dante's mind beneath the roof of pine-boughs. Nor is there any place in which the simile of the frogs and water-snake attains such dignity and grandeur. I must confess that till I saw the ponds and marshes of Ravenna, I used to fancy that the comparison was somewhat below the greatness of the subject : but there so grave a note of solemnity and desolation is struck, the scale of Nature is so vast, and the serpents coiling in and out among the lily leaves and flowers are so enormous, that they suggest a scene by no means unworthy of Dante's great conception.
Nor is Dante the only singer who has invested this wood with poetical associations. It is well known that Boccaccio laid his story of Honoria in the pine-forest, and every student of English literature must be familiar with the noble tale in verse which Dryden has founded on this part of the Decameron. We all of us have followed Theodore, and watched with him the tempest swelling in the grove, and seen the hapless ghost pursued by demon hounds and hunter down the glades. This story should be read while storms are gathering upon the distant sea, or thunder-clouds descending from the Apennines, and when the pines begin to rock and surge beneath the stress of labouring winds. Then runs the sudden flash of lightning like a rapier through the boughs, the rain streams hissing down, and the thunder “ breaks like a whole sea overhead.”
With the Pinetum the name of Byron will be for ever associated. During his two years' residence in Ravenna he used to haunt its wilderness, riding alone or in the company of friends. The inscription placed above the entrance to the house he occupied alludes to it as one of the objects which principally attracted the poet to the neighbourhood of Ravenna :-“Impaziente di visitare l'antica Selva, che inspirò gia il Divino Giovanni Boccaccio.” We know, however, that a more powerful attraction, in the person of the Countess Guiccioli, maintained his fidelity to “ that place of old renown, once in the Adrian Sea, Ravenna."
Between the Bosco, as the people of Ravenna call this pine-wood, and the city, the marsh stretches for a distance of about three miles. It is a plain intersected by dykes and ditches, and mapped out into innumerable
rice-fields. For more than half a year it lies under water, and during the other months exhales a pestilential vapour, which renders it as uninhabitable as the Roman Campagna; yet in spring-time this dreary flat is eren beautiful. The young blades of the rice shoot up above the water, delicately green and tender. The ditches are lined with flowering rush and golden flags, while white and yellow lilies sleep in myriads upon the silent pools. Tamarisks wave their pink and silver tresses by the road, and wherever a plot of mossy earth emerges from the marsh, it gleams with purple orchises and flaming marigolds; but the soil beneath is so treacherous and spongy, that these splendid blossoms grow like flowers in dreams or fairy stories. You try in vain to pick them; they elude your grasp, and flourish in security beyond the reach of arm or stick.
Such is the site of the old town of Classis. Not a vestige of the Roman city remains, not a dwelling or a ruined tower, nothing but the ancient church of St. Apollinare in Classe. Of all desolate buildings this is the most desolate. Not even the deserted grandeur of San Paolo beyond the walls of Rome can equal it. Its huge round campanile gazes at the sky, which here vaults only sea and plain,---a perfect dome, starspangled, like the roof of Galla Placidia's tomb. Ravenna lies low to west, the pine-wood, immeasurably the same, to east. There is nothing else to be seen except the spreading marsh, bounded by dim snowy Alps and purple Apennines, so very far away that the level rack of summer clouds seem more attainable and real. What sunsets and sunrises that tower must see; what glaring lurid after-glows in August, when the red light scowls upon the pestilential fen ; what sheets of sullen
vapour rolling over it in autumn; what breathless heats, and rain-clouds big with thunder ; what silences; what unimpeded blasts of winter winds! One old monk tends this deserted spot. He has the huge church, with its echoing aisles and marble columns and giddy bell-tower and cloistered corridors, all to himself. At rare intervals, priests from Ravenna come to sing some special mass at these cold altars; pious folks make rows to pray upon their mouldy steps and kiss the relics which are shown on great occasions.
ays; they hurry, after muttering their prayers, from the fever-stricken spot, reserving their domestic pieties and customary devotions for the brighter and newer chapels of the fashionable churches in Ravenna. So the old monk is left alone to sweep the marsh water from his church floor, and to keep the green moss from grof. ing too thickly on its monuments. A clammy converva covers everything except the mosaics upon tribune, roof, and clerestory, which defy the course
Christ on his throne sedlet aternumque sedebit, the saints around him glitter with their pitiless uncompromising eyes and wooden gestures, as if twelve centuries had not passed over them, and they were nightmares only dreamed last night, and rooted in a sick man's memory. For those gaunt and solemn forms there is no change of life or end of days. No fever touches them; no dampness of the wind and rain loosens their firm cement. They stare with senseless faces in bitter mockery of men who
live and die and moulder away beneath. Their poor old guardian told us it was a weary life. He has had the fever three times, and does not hope to survive many more Septembers. The very water that he drinks is brought him from Ravenna, for the vast fen, though it pours its overflow upon the church floor, and spreads like a lake around, is death to drink. The monk had a gentle woman's voice and mild brown eyes. What terrible crime had consigned him to this living tomb? For what past sorrow is he weary of his life? What anguish of remorse has driven him to such a solitude ? Yet he looked simple and placid; his melancholy was subdued and calm, as if life were over for him, and he were waiting for death to come with a friend's greeting upon noiseless wings some summer night across the fen-lands in a cloud of soft destructive ferer-mist.
Another monument upon the plain is worthy of a visit. It is the socalled Colonna dei Francesi, a cinquecento pillar of Ionic design, erected on the spot where Gaston de Foix expired victorious after one of the bloodiest battles erer fought. The Ronco, a straight sluggish stream, flows by the lonely spot; mason bees have covered with laborious stuccowork the scrolls and leafage of its ornaments, confounding epitaphs and trophies under their mud houses. A few cypress-trees stand round it, and the dogs and chickens of a neighbouring farmyard make it their rendezvous. Those mason bees are like posterity, which settles down upon the ruins of a Baalbec or a Luxor, setting up its tents, and filling the fair spaces of Hellenic or Egyptian temples with clay hovels. Nothing differs but the scale ; and while the bees content themselves with filling np and covering, man destroys the silent places of the past which he appropriates. Byron has written some spirited lines upon the neglect of this column, and the speech which Guicciardini supposes the young hero of French chivalry to have made his soldiers on the spot, is well known.
In Ravenna itself, perhaps what strikes us most is the abrupt transition everywhere discernible from monuments of vast antiquity to buildings of quite modern date. There seems to be no interval between the marbles and mosaics of Justinian or Theodoric and the insignificant frippery of the last century. The churches of Ravenna, San Vitale, St. Apollinare, and the rest, are too well known, and have been too often described by enthusiastic antiquaries, to need a detailed notice in this place. Every one is aware that the ecclesiastical customs and architecture of the early Church can be studied in greater perfection here than elsev kere. Not even the basilicas and mosaics of Rome are equal to those of Ravenna. Yet there is not one single church which remains entirely unaltered and unspoiled. The imagination has to supply the atrium or outer portico from one building, the vaulted baptistery with its marble font from another, the pulpits and ambones from a third, the tribune from a fourth, the round brick bell-tower from a fifth, and then to cover all the concave roofs and chapel walls with grave and clittering mosaics. There is nothing more beautiful in decorative art than the mosaics of such tiny buildings as the
tomb of Galla Placidia or the chapel of the Bishop's Palace. They are like jewelled and enamelled cases; not an inch of wall can be seen which is not covered with elaborate patterns of the brightest colours. Huge date-palms spring from the floor with fruit and birds among their branches, and between them stand the pillars and apostles of the church. In the spandrels and lunettes above the arches and the windows angels fly with white extended wings. On every vacant place are scrolls and arabesques of foliage,-birds and beasts, doves drinking from the vase, and peacocks spreading gorgeous plumes—a maze of green and gold and blue. While overhead the vault is powdered with stars gleaming upon the deepest azure, and in the midst is set an aureole embracing the majestic head of Christ, or else the symbol of the sacred fish, or the hand of the Creator pointing from a cloud. In Galla Placidia's tomb these storied vaults spring above the sarcophagi of empresses and emperors, each lying in the place where he was laid more than twelve centuries ago. The light which struggles through the narrow windows serves to harmonize the brilliant hues and make a gorgeous gloom.
Besides these more general and decorative subjects, many of the churches are adorned with historical mosaics, setting forth the Bible narrative or incidents from the life of Christian emperors and kings. In St. Apollinare Nuovo there is a most interesting treble series of such mosaics extending over both walls of the nave. On the left hand, as we enter, we see the town of Classis; on the right the palace of Theodorie, its doors and loggie rich with curtains, and its friezes blazing with coloured ornaments. From the city gate of Classis, virgins issue, and proceed in a long line until they reach Madonna seated on a throne with Christ upon her knees, and the three kings in adoration at her feet. From Theodoric's palace door a similar procession of saints and martyrs carry us to Christ surrounded by archangels. Above this double row of saints and virgins stand the fathers and prophets of the Church, and highest underneath the roof are pictures from the life of our Lord. It will be remembered in connection with these subjects that the women sat upon the left and the men upon the right side of the church. Above the tribune at the east end of the church it was customary to represent the Creative Hand, or the monogram of the Saviour, or the head of Christ with the letters A and 0. Moses and Elijah frequently stand on either side to symbolize the transfiguration, while the saints and bishops specially connected with the church appeared upon a lower row. Then on the side walls were depicted such subjects as Justinian and Theodora among their courtiers, or the grant of the privileges of the Church to its first founder from imperial patrons, with symbols of the old Hebraic ritual—Abel's lamb, the sacrifice of Isaac, Melchisedec's offering of bread and wine,—which were regarded as the types of Christian ceremonies. The baptistery was adorned with appropriate mosaics representing Christ's baptism in Jordan.
Generally speaking, one is struck with the dignity of these designs, and especially with the combined majesty and sweetness of the face of
Christ. The sense for harmony of hue displayed in their composition is marvellous. It would be curious to trace in detail the remnants of classical treatment which may be discerned, Jordan, for instance, pours his water from an urn like a river-god crowned with sedge—or to show what points of ecclesiastical tradition are established by these ancient monuments. We find Mariolatry already prevalent, the names of the three kings, Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar, the four evangelists as we now recognize them, and many of the rites and vestments which our fastidious young Tractarians regard with so much superstitious reverence.
There are two sepulchral monuments in Ravenna which cannot be passed over unnoticed. The one is that of Theodoric the Goth, crowned by its semi-sphere of solid stone, a mighty tomb, well worthy of the conqueror and king. It stands in a green field, surrounded by acacias, where the nightingales sing ceaselessly in May. The mason bees have covered it, and the ter has invaded its sepulchral vaults. In spite of many trials, it seems that human art is unable to pump out the pond and clear the frogs and efts from the chamber where the great Goth was laid by Amalasuntha.
The other is Dante's temple, with its bas-relief and withered garlands. The story of his burial, and of the discovery of his real tomb, is fresh in the
memory of every one. But the “ little cupola, more neat than solemn," of which Lord Byron speaks, will continue to be the goal of many a pilgrimage. For ourselves--though we remember Chateaubriand's bareheaded genuflection on its threshold, Alfieri's passionate prostration at the altar-tomb, and Byron's offering of poems on the poet's shrinewe confess that a single canto of the Inferno, a single passage of the Vita Nuora, seems more full of soul-stirring associations than the place where, centuries
ago, the mighty dust was laid. It is the spirit that lives and makes alive. And Dante's spirit seems more present with us under the pine-branches of the Bosco than beside his real or fancied tomb. "He is risen,'
,"_"Behold I am with you always,"—these are the words that ought to haunt us in a burying-ground. There is something affected and selfconscious in overpowering grief or enthusiasm or humiliation at a tomb.