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The innocents abroad, or, The new Pilgrim's progress

being some account of the steamship Quaker City's pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy land ; with descriptions of countries, nations, incidents and adventures, as they appeared to the author




Page 266


WHAT is it that confers the noblest delight? What is
that which swells a man's breast with pride above that
which any other experience can bring to him? Discovery! To
know that you are walking where none others have walked;
that you are beholding what human eye has not seen before;
that you are breathing a virgin atmosphere. To give birth to
an idea—to discover a great thought—an intellectual nugget,
right under the dust of a field that many a brain-plow had
gone over before. To find a new planet, to invent a new
hinge, to find the way to make the lightnings carry your
messages. To be the first—that is the idea. To do something,
say something, see something, before any body else—
these are the things that confer a pleasure compared with
which other pleasures are tame and commonplace, other ecstasies
cheap and trivial. Morse, with his first message, brought
by his servant, the lightning; Fulton, in that long-drawn century
of suspense, when he placed his hand upon the throttle-valve
and lo, the steamboat moved; Jenner, when his patient
with the cow's virus in his blood, walked through the smallpox
hospitals unscathed; Howe, when the idea shot through
his brain that for a hundred and twenty generations the eye
had been bored through the wrong end of the needle; the
nameless lord of art who laid down his chisel in some old age
that is forgotten, now, and gloated upon the finished Laocoon;
Daguerre, when he commanded the sun, riding in the zenith,
to print the landscape upon his insignificant silvered plate, and


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 267. In-line Illustration. Image of a man in a knee-length coat, a wrap, and a hat. The caption reads, "A ROMAN OF 1869."] he obeyed; Columbus, in the Pinta's shrouds, when he swung
his hat above a fabled sea and gazed abroad upon an unknown
world! These are the men who have really lived—who have
actually comprehended what pleasure is—who have crowded
long lifetimes of ecstasy into a single moment.

What is there in Rome for me to see that others have not
seen before me? What is there for me to touch that others
have not touched? What is there for me to feel, to learn, to
hear, to know, that shall thrill me before it pass to others?
What can I discover?—Nothing. Nothing
whatsoever. One charm of travel
dies here. But if I were only a Roman!—If,
added to my own I could be
gifted with modern Roman sloth, modern
Roman superstition, and modern
Roman boundlessness of ignorance,
what bewildering worlds of unsuspected
wonders I would discover! Ah,
if I were only a habitant of the Campagna
five and twenty miles from
Rome! Then I would travel.

I would go to America, and see, and
learn, and return to the Campagna and
stand before my countrymen an illustrious
discoverer. I would say:

“I saw there a country which has no
overshadowing Mother Church, and yet
the people survive. I saw a government which never was
protected by foreign soldiers at a cost greater than that required
to carry on the government itself. I saw common men
and common women who could read; I even saw small children
of common country people reading from books; if I dared
think you would believe it, I would say they could write, also.
In the cities I saw people drinking a delicious beverage made
of chalk and water, but never once saw goats driven through
their Broadway or their Pennsylvania Avenue or their Montgomery
street and milked at the doors of the houses. I saw


Page 268
real glass windows in the houses of even the commonest people.
Some of the houses are not of stone, nor yet of bricks; I solemnly
swear they are made of wood. Houses there will take
fire and burn, sometimes—actually burn entirely down, and
not leave a single vestige behind. I could state that for a
truth, upon my death-bed. And as a proof that the circumstance
is not rare, I aver that they have a thing which they
call a fire-engine, which vomits forth great streams of water,
and is kept always in readiness, by night and by day, to rush
to houses that are burning. You would think one engine
would be sufficient, but some great cities have a hundred;
they keep men hired, and pay them by the month to do nothing
but put out fires. For a certain sum of money other men will
insure that your house shall not burn down; and if it burns
they will pay you for it. There are hundreds and thousands
of schools, and any body may go and learn to be wise, like a
priest. In that singular country if a rich man dies a sinner, he
is damned; he can not buy salvation with money for masses.
There is really not much use in being rich, there. Not much
use as far as the other world is concerned, but much, very
much use, as concerns this; because there, if a man be rich, he
is very greatly honored, and can become a legislator, a governor,
a general, a senator, no matter how ignorant an ass he is—
just as in our beloved Italy the nobles hold all the great places,
even though sometimes they are born noble idiots. There, if
a man be rich, they give him costly presents, they ask him to
feasts, they invite him to drink complicated beverages; but if
he be poor and in debt, they require him to do that which
they term to “settle.” The women put on a different dress
almost every day; the dress is usually fine, but absurd in
shape; the very shape and fashion of it changes twice in a
hundred years; and did I but covet to be called an extravagant
falsifier, I would say it changed even oftener. Hair does
not grow upon the American women's heads; it is made for
them by cunning workmen in the shops, and is curled and
frizzled into scandalous and ungodly forms. Some persons
wear eyes of glass which they see through with facility perhaps,


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else they would not use them; and in the mouths of
some are teeth made by the sacrilegious hand of man. The
dress of the men is laughably grotesque. They carry no
musket in ordinary life, nor no long-pointed pole; they wear
no wide green-lined cloak; they wear no peaked black felt
hat, no leathern gaiters reaching to the knee, no goat-skin
breeches with the hair side out, no hob-nailed shoes, no prodigious
spurs. They wear a conical hat termed a “nail-kag;”
a coat of saddest black; a shirt which shows dirt so easily that
it has to be changed every month, and is very troublesome;
things called pantaloons, which are held up by shoulder
straps, and on their feet they wear boots which are ridiculous
in pattern and can stand no wear. Yet dressed in this fantastic
garb, these people laughed at my costume. In that
country, books are so common that it is really no curiosity to
see one. Newspapers also. They have a great machine which
prints such things by thousands every hour.

“I saw common men, there—men who were neither priests
nor princes—who yet absolutely owned the land they tilled.
It was not rented from the church, nor from the nobles. I am
ready to take my oath of this. In that country you might fall
from a third story window three several times, and not mash
either a soldier or a priest.—The scarcity of such people is
astonishing. In the cities you will see a dozen civilians for
every soldier, and as many for every priest or preacher. Jews;
there, are treated just like human beings, instead of dogs.
They can work at any business they please; they can sell
brand new goods if they want to; they can keep drug-stores;
they can practice medicine among Christians; they can even
shake hands with Christians if they choose; they can associate
with them, just the same as one human being does with
another human being; they don't have to stay shut up in one
corner of the towns; they can live in any part of a town they
like best; it is said they even have the privilege of buying
land and houses, and owning them themselves, though I doubt
that, myself; they never have had to run races naked through
the public streets, against jackasses, to please the people in


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carnival time; there they never have been driven by the
soldiers into a church every Sunday for hundreds of years to
hear themselves and their religion especially and particularly
cursed; at this very day, in that curious country, a Jew is
allowed to vote, hold office, yea, get up on a rostrum in the
public street and express his opinion of the government if the
government don't suit him! Ah, it is wonderful. The common
people there know a great deal; they even have the
effrontery to complain if they are not properly governed, and
to take hold and help conduct the government themselves; if
they had laws like ours, which give one dollar of every three a
crop produces to the government for taxes, they would have
that law altered: instead of paying thirty-three dollars in
taxes, out of every one hundred they receive, they complain if
they have to pay seven. They are curious people. They do
not know when they are well off. Mendicant priests do not
prowl among them with baskets begging for the church and
eating up their substance. One hardly ever sees a minister of
the gospel going around there in his bare feet, with a basket,
begging for subsistence. In that country the preachers are not
like our mendicant orders of friars—they have two or three
suits of clothing, and they wash sometimes. In that land are
mountains far higher than the Alban mountains; the vast
Roman Campagna, a hundred miles long and full forty broad,
is really small compared to the United States of America; the
Tiber, that celebrated river of ours, which stretches its mighty
course almost two hundred miles, and which a lad can scarcely
throw a stone across at Rome, is not so long, nor yet so wide, as
the American Mississippi—nor yet the Ohio, nor even the Hudson.
In America the people are absolutely wiser and know much
more than their grandfathers did. They do not plow with a sharpened
stick, nor yet with a three-cornered block of wood that
merely scratches the top of the ground. We do that because
our fathers did, three thousand years ago, I suppose. But
those people have no holy reverence for their ancestors. They
plow with a plow that is a sharp, curved blade of iron, and it
cuts into the earth full five inches. And this is not all. They


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cut their grain with a horrid machine that mows down whole
fields in a day. If I dared, I would say that sometimes they
use a blasphemous plow that works by fire and vapor and
tears up an acre of ground in a single hour—but—but—I see
by your looks that you do not believe the things I am telling
you. Alas, my character is ruined, and I am a branded
speaker of untruths!”

Of course we have been to the monster Church of St. Peter,
frequently. I knew its dimensions. I knew it was a prodigious
structure. I knew it was just about the length of the capitol at
Washington—say seven hundred and thirty feet. I knew it was
three hundred and sixty-four feet wide, and consequently wider
than the capitol. I knew that the cross on the top of the dome
of the church was four hundred and thirty-eight feet above the
ground, and therefore about a hundred or may be a hundred and
twenty-five feet higher than the dome of the capitol.—Thus I had
one gauge. I wished to come as near forming a correct idea of
how it was going to look, as possible; I had a curiosity to see
how much I would err. I erred considerably. St. Peter's did
not look nearly so large as the capitol, and certainly not a
twentieth part as beautiful, from the outside.

When we reached the door, and stood fairly within the
church, it was impossible to comprehend that it was a very
large building. I had to cipher a comprehension of it. I had
to ransack my memory for some more similes. St. Peter's is
bulky. Its height and size would represent two of the Washington
capitol set one on top of the other—if the capitol were
wider; or two blocks or two blocks and a half of ordinary buildings
set one on top of the other. St. Peter's was that large, but
it could and would not look so. The trouble was that every thing
in it and about it was on such a scale of uniform vastness that
there were no contrasts to judge by—none but the people, and
I had not noticed them. They were insects. The statues of
children holding vases of holy water were immense, according
to the tables of figures, but so was every thing else around
them. The mosaic pictures in the dome were huge, and were
made of thousands and thousands of cubes of glass as large as


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the end of my little finger, but those pictures looked smooth,
and gaudy of color, and in good proportion to the dome. Evidently
they would not answer to measure by. Away down
toward the far end of the church (I thought it was really clear
at the far end, but discovered afterward that it was in the centre,
under the dome,) stood the thing they call the baldacchino—a
great bronze pyramidal frame-work like that which upholds a
mosquito bar. It only looked like a considerably magnified bedstead—nothing
more. Yet I knew it was a good deal more
than half as high as Niagara Falls. It was overshadowed by a
dome so mighty that its own height was snubbed. The four
great square piers or pillars that stand equidistant from each
other in the church, and support the roof, I could not work up
to their real dimensions by any method of comparison. I
knew that the faces of each were about the width of a very
large dwelling-house front, (fifty or sixty feet,) and that they
were twice as high as an ordinary three-story dwelling, but
still they looked small. I tried all the different ways I could
think of to compel myself to understand how large St. Peter's
was, but with small success. The mosaic portrait of an Apostle
who was writing with a pen six feet long seemed only an ordinary

But the people attracted my attention after a while. To
stand in the door of St. Peter's and look at men down toward
its further extremity, two blocks away, has a diminishing effect
on them; surrounded by the prodigious pictures and statues,
and lost in the vast spaces, they look very much smaller than
they would if they stood two blocks away in the open air. I
“averaged” a man as he passed me and watched him as he
drifted far down by the baldacchino and beyond—watched
him dwindle to an insignificant school-boy, and then, in
the midst of the silent throng of human pigmies gliding
about him, I lost him. The church had lately been decorated,
on the occasion of a great ceremony in honor of
St. Peter, and men were engaged, now, in removing the
flowers and gilt paper from the walls and pillars. As no
ladders could reach the great heights, the men swung themselves


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down from balustrades and the capitals of pilasters by
ropes, to do this work. The upper gallery which encircles the
inner sweep of the dome is two hundred and forty feet above
the floor of the church—very few steeples in America could
reach up to it. Visitors always go up there to look down
into the church because one gets the best idea of some of the
heights and distances from that point. While we stood on the
floor one of the workmen swung loose from that gallery at the
end of a long rope. I had not supposed, before, that a man
could look so much like a spider. He was insignificant in size,
and his rope seemed only a thread. Seeing that he took up so
little space, I could believe the story, then, that ten thousand
troops went to St. Peter's, once, to hear mass, and their commanding
officer came afterward, and not finding them, supposed
they had not yet arrived. But they were in the church,
nevertheless—they were in one of the transepts. Nearly fifty
thousand persons assembled in St. Peter's to her the publishing
of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It is estimated
that the floor of the church affords standing room for—
for a large number of people; I have forgotten the exact figures.
But it is no matter—it is near enough.

They have twelve small pillars, in St. Peter's, which came
from Solomon's Temple. They have, also—which was far
more interesting to me—a piece of the true cross, and some
nails, and a part of the crown of thorns.

Of course we ascended to the summit of the dome, and of
course we also went up into the gilt copper ball which is above
it.—There was room there for a dozen persons, with a little
crowding, and it was as close and hot as an oven. Some of
those people who are so fond of writing their names in prominent
places had been there before us—a million or two, I
should think. From the dome of St. Peter's one can see every
notable object in Rome, from the Castle of St. Angelo to the
Coliseum. He can discern the seven hills upon which Rome
is built. He can see the Tiber, and the locality of the bridge
which Horatius kept “in the brave days of old” when Lars
Porsena attempted to cross it with his invading host. He can


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see the spot where the Horatii and the Curatii fought their
famous battle. He can see the broad green Campagna, stretching
away toward the mountains, with its scattered arches and
broken aqueducts of the olden time, so picturesque in their
gray ruin, and so daintily festooned with vines. He can see
the Alban Mountains, the Appenines, the Sabine Hills, and
the blue Mediterranean. He can see a panorama that is
varied, extensive, beautiful to the eye, and more illustrious in
history than any other in Europe.—About his feet is spread
the remnant of a city that once had a population of four
million souls; and among its massed edifices stand the ruins
of temples, columns, and triumphal arches that knew the
Cæsars, and the noonday of Roman splendor; and close by
them, in unimpaired strength, is a drain of arched and heavy
masonry that belonged to that older city which stood here
before Romulus and Remus were born or Rome thought of.
The Appian Way is here yet, and looking much as it did, perhaps,
when the triumphal processions of the Emperors moved
over it in other days bringing fettered princes from the confines
of the earth. We can not see the long array of chariots
and mail-clad men laden with the spoils of conquest, but we
can imagine the pageant, after a fashion. We look out upon
many objects of interest from the dome of St. Peter's; and
last of all, almost at our feet, our eyes rest upon the building
which was once the Inquisition. How times changed, between
the older ages and the new! Some seventeen or eighteen centuries
ago, the ignorant men of Rome were wont to put Christians
in the arena of the Coliseum yonder, and turn the wild
beasts in upon them for a show. It was for a lesson as well.
It was to teach the people to abhor and fear the new doctrine
the followers of Christ were teaching. The beasts tore the
victims limb from limb and made poor mangled corpses of
them in the twinkling of an eye. But when the Christians
came into power, when the holy Mother Church became mistress
of the barbarians, she taught them the error of their ways
by no such means. No, she put them in this pleasant Inquisition
and pointed to the Blessed Redeemer, who was so gentle


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and so merciful toward all men, and they urged the barbarians
to love him; and they did all they could to persuade them to
love and honor him—first by twisting their thumbs out of
joint with a screw; then by nipping their flesh with pincers—
red-hot ones, because they are the most comfortable in cold
weather; then by skinning them alive a little, and finally by
roasting them in public. They always convinced those barbarians.
The true religion, properly administered, as the good
Mother Church used to administer it, is very, very soothing. It
is wonderfully persuasive, also. There is a great difference
between feeding parties to wild beasts and stirring up their
finer feelings in an Inquisition. One is the system of degraded
barbarians, the other of enlightened, civilized people. It is a
great pity the playful Inquisition is no more.

I prefer not to describe St. Peter's. It has been done
before. The ashes of Peter, the disciple of the Saviour, repose
in a crypt under the baldacchino. We stood reverently in that
place; so did we also in the Mamertine Prison, where he was
confined, where he converted the soldiers, and where tradition
says he caused a spring of water to flow in order that he might
baptize them. But when they showed us the print of Peter's
face in the hard stone of the prison wall and said he made that
by falling up against it, we doubted. And when, also, the
monk at the church of San Sebastian showed us a paving-stone
with two great footprints in it and said that Peter's feet made
those, we lacked confidence again. Such things do not impress
one. The monk said that angels came and liberated Peter
from prison by night, and he started away from Rome by the
Appian Way. The Saviour met him and told him to go back,
which he did. Peter left those footprints in the stone upon
which he stood at the time. It was not stated how it was ever
discovered whose footprints they were, seeing the interview
occurred secretly and at night. The print of the face in the
prison was that of a man of common size; the footprints were
those of a man ten or twelve feet high. The discrepancy confirmed
our unbelief.

We necessarily visited the Forum, where Cæsar was assassinated,


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 276. In-line Illustration. Image of an empty prison cell with the only visibile window or door being a hole in the ceiling. The image is labeled, "The Mamertine Prison." Below this image in a little sketch are figures of men with halos in a small room.] and also the Tarpeian Rock. We saw the Dying Gladiator
at the Capitol, and I think that even we appreciated that
wonder of art; as much, perhaps, as we did that fearful story
wrought in marble, in the
Vatican—the Laocoon. And
then the Coliseum.

Every body knows the picture
of the Coliseum; every
body recognizes at once that
“looped and windowed” band-box
with a side bitten out.
Being rather isolated, it shows
to better advantage than any other of the monuments of ancient
Rome. Even the beautiful Pantheon, whose pagan altars uphold
the cross, now, and whose Venus, tricked out in consecrated
gimcracks, does reluctant duty as a Virgin Mary to-day, is built
about with shabby houses and its stateliness sadly marred.
But the monarch of all European ruins, the Coliseum, maintains
that reserve and that royal seclusion which is proper to
majesty. Weeds and flowers spring from its massy arches and
its circling seats, and vines hang their fringes from its lofty


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walls. An impressive silence broods over the monstrous structure
where such multitudes of men and women were wont to
assemble in other days. The butterflies have taken the places
of the queens of fashion and beauty of eighteen centuries ago,
and the lizards sun themselves in the sacred seat of the Emperor.
More vividly than all the written histories, the Coliseum
tells the story of Rome's grandeur and Rome's decay. It is
the worthiest type of both that exists. Moving about the
Rome of to-day, we might find it hard to believe in her old
magnificence and her millions of population; but with this
stubborn evidence before us that she was obliged to have a
theatre with sitting room for eighty thousand persons and
standing room for twenty thousand more, to accommodate such
of her citizens as required amusement, we find belief less difficult.
The Coliseum is over one thousand six hundred feet
long, seven hundred and fifty wide, and one hundred and sixty-five
high. Its shape is oval.

In America we make convicts useful at the same time that
we punish them for their crimes. We farm them out and
compel them to earn money for the State by making barrels
and building roads. Thus we combine business with retribution,
and all things are lovely. But in ancient Rome they
combined religious duty with pleasure. Since it was necessary
that the new sect called Christians should be exterminated, the
people judged it wise to make this work profitable to the State
at the same time, and entertaining to the public. In addition
to the gladiatorial combats and other shows, they sometimes
threw members of the hated sect into the arena of the Coliseum
and turned wild beasts in upon them. It is estimated that
seventy thousand Christians suffered martyrdom in this place.
This has made the Coliseum holy ground, in the eyes of the
followers of the Saviour. And well it might; for if the chain
that bound a saint, and the footprints a saint has left upon a
stone he chanced to stand upon, be holy, surely the spot where
a man gave up his life for his faith is holy.

Seventeen or eighteen centuries ago this Coliseum was the
theatre of Rome, and Rome was mistress of the world. Splendid


Page 278
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 278. In-line Illustration. Image of a man with short curly hair in a knee-length toga. The caption reads, "OLD ROMAN."] pageants were exhibited here, in presence of the Emperor,
the great ministers of State, the nobles, and vast audiences of
citizens of smaller consequence. Gladiators fought with gladiators
and at times with warrior prisoners from many a
distant land. It was the theatre of Rome—of the world—
and the man of fashion who could not let fall in a casual
and unintentional manner something about “my private box
at the Coliseum” could not move in the first circles. When
the clothing-store merchant wished to consume the corner
grocery man with envy, he bought secured seats in the front
row and let the thing be known. When the irresistible
dry goods clerk wished to blight and destroy, according to his
native instinct, he got himself up regardless of expense and
took some other fellow's young lady to the Coliseum, and then
accented the affront by cramming her
with ice cream between the acts, or
by approaching the cage and stirring
up the martyrs with his whalebone
cane for her edification. The Roman
swell was in his true element only
when he stood up against a pillar and
fingered his moustache unconscious
of the ladies; when he viewed the
bloody combats through an opera-glass
two inches long; when he excited
the envy of provincials by criticisms
which showed that he had
been to the Coliseum many and
many a time and was long ago over
the novelty of it; when he turned
away with a yawn at last and said,

He a star! handles his sword like
an apprentice brigand! he'll do for
the country, may be, but he don't answer for the metropolis!”

Glad was the contraband that had a seat in the pit at the
Saturday matinee, and happy the Roman street-boy who ate
his peanuts and guyed the gladiators from the dizzy gallery.


Page 279

For me was reserved the high honor of discovering among
the rubbish of the ruined Coliseum the only playbill of that
establishment now extant. There was a suggestive smell of
mint-drops about it still, a corner of it had evidently been
chewed, and on the margin, in choice Latin, these words were
written in a delicate female hand:

“Meet me on the Tarpeian Rock to-morrow evening, dear, at sharp seven. Mother
will be absent on a visit to her friends in the Sabine Hills.


Ah, where is that lucky youth to-day, and where the little
hand that wrote those dainty lines? Dust and ashes these
seventeen hundred years!

Thus reads the bill:




Engagement of the renowned



The management beg leave to offer to the public an entertainment surpassing in
magnificence any thing that has heretofore been attempted on any stage. No
expense has been spared to make the opening season one which shall be worthy the
generous patronage which the management feel sure will crown their efforts. The
management beg leave to state that they have succeeded in securing the services
of a


such as has not been beheld in Rome before.

The performance will commence this evening with a


between two young and promising amateurs and a celebrated Parthian gladiator
who has just arrived a prisoner from the Camp of Verus.

This will be followed by a grand moral



Page 280

between the renowned Valerian (with one hand tied behind him,) and two gigantic
savages from Britain.

After which the renowned Valerian (if he survive,) will fight with the broadsword,


against six Sophomores and a Freshman from the Gladiatorial College!

A long series of brilliant engagements will follow, in which the finest talent of
the Empire will take part

After which the celebrated Infant Prodigy known as


will engage four tiger whelps in combat, armed with no other weapon than his little

The whole to conclude with a chaste and elegant


In which thirteen African Lions and twenty-two Barbarian Prisoners will war with
each other until all are exterminated.


Dress Circle One Dollar; Children and Servants half price.

An efficient police force will be on hand to preserve order and keep the wild
beasts from leaping the railings and discommoding the audience.

Doors open at 7; performance begins at 8.

Positively on Free List.

Diodorus Job Press.

It was as singular as it was gratifying that I was also so
fortunate as to find among the rubbish of the arena, a stained
and mutilated copy of the Roman Daily Battle-Ax, containing
a critique upon this very performance. It comes to hand too
late by many centuries to rank as news, and therefore I translate
and publish it simply to show how very little the general
style and phraseology of dramatic criticism has altered in the
ages that have dragged their slow length along since the carriers
laid this one damp and fresh before their Roman patrons:

The Opening Season.—Coliseum.—Notwithstanding the inclemency of the
weather, quite a respectable number of the rank and fashion of the city assembled
last night to witness the debut upon metropolitan boards of the young tragedian


Page 281
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 281. In-line Illustration. Image of gladiators in the colliseum. Three are lying on the ground in pools of blood, one is sitting holding his bloody nose. There are two gladiators left standing. One is taking a bow to the crowd while the other is behing him with his sword raised. The caption reads, "COLISEUM OF ANCIENT ROME."] who has of late been winning such golden opinions in the amphitheatres of the
provinces. Some sixty thousand persons were present, and but for the fact that the
streets were almost impassable, it is fair to presume that the house would have been
full. His august Majesty, the Emperor Aurelius, occupied the imperial box, and
was the cynosure of all eyes. Many illustrious nobles and generals of the Empire
graced the occasion with their presence, and not the least among them was the
young patrician lieutenant whose laurels, won in the ranks of the “Thundering
Legion,” are still so green upon his brow. The cheer which greeted his entrance
was heard beyond the Tiber!

“The late repairs and decorations add both to the comeliness and the comfort of
the Coliseum. The new cushions are a great improvement upon the hard marble
seats we have been so long accustomed to. The present management deserve well
of the public. They have restored to the Coliseum the gilding, the rich upholstery
and the uniform magnificence which old Coliseum frequenters tell us Rome was so
proud of fifty years ago.


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“The opening scene last night—the broadsword combat between two young
smateurs and a famous Parthian gladiator who was sent here a prisoner—was very
fine. The elder of the two young gentlemen handled his weapon with a grace that
marked the possession of extraordinary talent. His feint of thrusting, followed
instantly by a happily delivered blow which unhelmeted the Parthian, was received
with hearty applause. He was not thoroughly up in the backhanded stroke, but
it was very gratifying to his numerous friends to know that, in time, practice would
have overcome this defect. However, he was killed. His sisters, who were present,
expressed considerable regret. His mother left the Coliseum. The other youth
maintained the contest with such spirit as to call forth enthusiastic bursts of
applause. When at last he fell a corpse, his aged mother ran screaming, with hair
disheveled and tears streaming from her eyes, and swooned away just as her hands
were cluching at the railings of the arena. She was promptly removed by the
police. Under the circumstances the women's conduct was pardonable, perhaps,
but we suggest that such exhibitions interfere with the decorum which should be
preserved during the performances, and are highly improper in the presence of the
Emperor. The Parthian prisoner fought bravely and well; and well he might, for
he was fighting for both life and liberty. His wife and children were there to nerve
his arm with their love, and to remind him of the old home he should see again if
he conquered. When his second assailant fell, the woman clasped her children to
her breast and wept for joy. But it was only a transient happiness. The captive
staggered toward her and she saw that the liberty he had earned was earned too
late. He was wounded unto death. Thus the first act closed in a manner which
was entirely satisfactory. The manager was called before the curtain and returned
his thanks for the honor done him, in a speech which was replete with wit and
humor, and closed by hoping that his humble efforts to afford cheerful and instru-tive
entertainment would continue to meet with the approbation of the Roman

“The star now appeared, and was received with vociferous applause and the
simultaneous waving of sixty thousand handkerchiefs. Marcus Marcellus Valerian
(stage name—his real name is Smith,) is a splendid specimen of physical develop-ment,
and an artist of rare merit. His management of the battle-ax is wonderful.
His gayety and his playfulness are irresistible, in his comic parts, and yet they are
inferior to his sublime conceptions in the grave realm of tragedy. When his ax was
describing fiery circles about the heads of the bewildered barbarians, in exact time
with his springing body and his prancing legs, the audience gave way to uncontrollable
bursts of laughter; but when the back of his weapon broke the skull of
one and almost in the same instant its edge clove the other's body in twain, the
howl of enthusiastic applause that shook the building, was the acknowledgment of
a critical assemblage that he was a master of the noblest department of his profession.
If he has a fault, (and we are sorry to even intimate that he has,) it is that
of glancing at the audience, in the midst of the most exciting moments of the performance,
as if seeking admiration. The pausing in a fight to bow when bouquets
are thrown to him is also in bad taste. In the great left-handed combat he appeared
to be looking at the audience half the time, instead of carving his adversaries; and
when he had slain all the sophomores and was dallying with the freshman, he


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stooped and snatched a bouquet as it fell, and offered it to his adversary at a time
when a blow was descending which promised favorably to be his death-warrant.
Such levity is proper enough in the provinces, we make no doubt, but it ill suits the
dignity of the metropolis. We trust our young friend will take these remarks in
good part, for we mean them solely for his benefit. All who know us are aware
that although we are at times justly severe upon tigers and martyrs, we never intentionally
offend gladiators.

“The Infant Prodigy performed wonders. He overcame his four tiger whelps
with ease, and with no other hurt than the loss of a portion of his scalp. The General
Slaughter was rendered with a faithfulness to details which reflects the highest
credit upon the late participants in it.

“Upon the whole, last night's performances shed honor not only upon the management
but upon the city that encourages and sustains such wholesome and
instructive entertainments. We would simply suggest that the practice of vulgar
young boys in the gallery of shying peanuts and paper pellets at the tigers, and
saying “Hi-yi!” and manifesting approbation or dissatisfaction by such observations
as “Bully for the lion!” “Go it, Gladdy!” “Boots!” “Speech!” “Take a
walk round the block!” and so on, are extremely reprehensible, when the Emperor
is present, and ought to be stopped by the police. Several times last night, when
the supernumeraries entered the arena to drag out the bodies, the young ruffians in
the gallery shouted, “Supe! supe!” and also, “Oh, what a coat!” and “Why don't
you pad them shanks?” and made use of various other remarks expressive of derision.
These things are very annoying to the audience.

“A matinee for the little folks is promised for this afternoon, on which occasion
several martyrs will be caten by the tigers. The regular performance will continue
every night till further notice. Material change of programme every evening.
Benefit of Valerian, Tuesday, 29th, if he lives.”

I have been a dramatic critic myself, in my time, and I was
often surprised to notice how much more I knew about Hamlet
than Forrest did; and it gratifies me to observe, now, how
much better my brethren of ancient times knew how a broadsword
battle ought to be fought than the gladiators.